Like most families, we’ve pretty much always had to be very frugal and wise with our money. It’s so ingrained in me now to shop the bargains that I just can’t stand to overspend on anything. I want quality at a bargain price! (Thanks, Mom!)
Going on vacation is no different – it has to be done wisely, but we can still have the BEST time when we get away, and we also enjoy some splurges,at a fraction of the cost! Here’s how we do it:
- Go to your destination at times when it isn’t peak season. One place we stayed this month was going through some renovations, so we got a reduced price. The renovations were on the outside and never even affected where we were. I can still swim in the pool while they paint the outside walls of the hotel!
- When eating out at the restaurants that everyone has raved about,
- Go at lunch time. The portions are plenty and the price is greatly reduced.
- Share a meal. 90% of the time, we share an entree. Most restaurants serve way more food than one person can eat. We like the same things, so we generally always share a plate and go away completely full!
- Avoid the appetizer. If they bring bread to the table, let that be the starter for your meal.
- Drink water. At $2 or more for a beverage, that can add lots to your bill!
- Eat the other two meals in your condo. We usually stay in a place where we can cook. I’ll fix simple meals, but delicious food for breakfast and supper meals.
- Buy snacks and water bottles at the grocery store and keep them in the car with you when you’re out. Having an occasional treat can be planned for by taking advantage of the next tip!
- Look for specials that are running at your favorite restaurants. Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Sonic, and lots of other places have specials from time to time. Search the Internet and see what deals you can find. Starbucks had half price Frappes when we were at the beach! That was a great treat on a hot day!
- Avoid the tourist-y shops. They are way more expensive than most stores. If I need a hat, sunglasses or sunscreen, I run to TJ Maxx, rather than the Beach Shop!
- Do things in the area that are free.
- Bring your own or rent bikes to enjoy the paths in the area.
- Museums, parks, libraries, outdoor music, gardens, beaches, pools -the list is long of all the things you can find to do that cost nothing extra!
We felt like we truly splurged, but we spent a fraction of the money we could have had we not used our strategies that have become our favorite way to travel!
Were you surprised that not one of the suggestions was to stay with relatives?! If you do stay with family, only stay a night or two! “Fish and company stink after three days!” =)
Years ago when I was single and living on a teacher’s salary, I sewed my own clothes,I had pasta dishes for supper, and I shopped yard sales for home necessities. Then when I got married and my husband began ministry, we took on nearly the same tactics in striving to live frugally. It’s truly been a way of life for me. I’ve often said that even if I ever fell into a goldmine, I’d still shop the sales!
I recently shared with a group of women some of the lessons I’ve learned to save money in grocery shopping and thought I’d share them with you, too! There are a ton of great suggestions on the Internet, along with helpful sites that will snag the best deals and do lots of the work for you! I’ll share a couple of my favorite places to go at the end of this post. But first, here are my best suggestions to reduce your grocery bill:
- Don’t start with coupons, start with the store’s sales.
- By knowing what’s on sale, you can purchase what you need when it’s at its lowest price. Try not to buy foods until it’s at its rock bottom amount. You could keep a running list of what the “bottom” price is so you’ll know if what the store is asking is truly a good deal.
- Did you know groceries go on sale in cycles? Usually every 6-8 weeks the most general items are marked down. You can go to Joyfully Thriving.com and download a free guide that will tell you what is cycling on sale every month.
- Stockpile items when they are at their lowest price!
- When things are at their lowest price, purchase enough of what you buy to last you until the next markdown. If you can’t buy enough to last until the next sale, buying at least couple, will also save you some money!
- The goal is to have enough foods on hand (that your family will eat, of course) so you can plan your family’s menu around that. Then each week, you’ll purchase fresh produce, perishable items and the new items that are reduced.
- Think hard about your Meat-filled meals.
- Having pasta, soups, salads and veggies could reduce the cost of your groceries by $1,000!
- For the meat you do buy, buy it only when it’s marked down.
- Don’t be afraid to buy meat that is on sale that day with a red sticker. If you take it home and either use it immediately or freeze it, it will be safe to use.
- Buy in bulk and freeze serving sizes in freezer bags. Don’t forget to save yourself some time by cooking some of that chicken or hamburger and cooling it, then freezing it so it will be ready for tacos, soups, or casseroles.
- Plan your menu!
- When you know what’s marked down that week and what you have in your pantry and freezer, then make your menu using those ingredients. I used to sit down with my cookbook and find all these great recipes that called for items that were not on sale and quickly learned that was not the way to vary our menu. I learned to look at what I had, then find a recipe for those ingredients. Here’s a cool site I just recently found where you can click on all the ingredients you have on hand and they’ll suggest recipes using those items!
- Without a menu you’ll be scrambling to know what is for supper. You’ll run to the grocery store at the last minute and have to pay premium price for items, and your grocery bill will be staggering!,
- With a menu you can prepare a little ahead of time! Thaw the meat, start the crock pot, etc. So not only will you be saving money, you’ll also be saving your sanity!!
- Use coupons for the store where you shop. Coupons can help, but it’s the last thing you need to worry about. I love Kroger because using their e-coupons keep me from having to clip them. Often I buy an item on sale AND I have a coupon for it! Double savings!! I bought a pound of butter recently $1.40 because of the sale and coupon deal!
So those are my five best tips, friends. I hope this will help you reduce your grocery costs! One more tip I would add is, don’t be afraid of Aldi’s, if there is one near you. Whitney at Come Home for Comfort has some great tips about shopping there. Be sure to check out this post.
My favorite site for finding the sales in the stores where I shop is Southern Savers!
What is the most difficult part of keeping your grocery cost down?