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The great thread started by Blink on the rising cost of food got me thinking. Buried in the over 200 posts are some great tips on saving money, not only on your grocery bill, but in general. So..I thought we might want to pull some of them out and bring them forward so people can read what others are doing to spread their money further.

Here are some of the ways that I cut costs. How about you?

I should put in a disclaimer. I'm Canadian by birth, but raised in a Scottish family. I am a bit tight with my money :)

I buy generic items, or store brand items, instead of name brand. It saves me a ton of money on things like cereal, soda, sauces and condiments.

I buy what's on sale. I rarely pay full price on anything.

I buy bulk when I can, but it's hard because I'm single and cook for one. I don't like things going to waste.

I buy at the Bulk Barn so I can buy only small amounts of things I need rarely (spices, soup mixes, etc)

I shop around. I use the fliers, online and paper, to check for deals. Wal-mart does not have the cheapest prices.

I bake my own bread when I can. It's healthier and cheaper.

I cook much of my own food. Not just reheating, but from scratch.

I cook and bake to freeze. Larger batches prove cheap frozen food.

Learn to love leftovers. I'm still working on this.

Rice and potato make great and cheap sides

I water down juices. That helps me cut down on the amount of sugar I take in deaily and how long they last. My doctor recommended that.

There are many others...but those are the biggest.

Other suggestions??

Originally posted to MsLibrarian on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:10 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I joined a Frugal website (13+ / 0-)

    and picked up all kinds of great hints on cutting costs. Why not have something like that here at Kos.

  •  Change incandescent bulbs to mini-flourescent. (9+ / 0-)

    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful,,,they never stop thinking of ways to harm our country and neither do we" G W Bush

    by irate on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:14:02 AM PST

  •  Eat at home and cut down on meat portions (10+ / 0-)

    We have vegetarian dinners a couple of times a week, and on the days when we have meat, we use smaller portions.

    Restaurants in general are ridiculous with their portion sizes.

  •  Do you ever read Frugal Fridays? (13+ / 0-)

    Kossack sarahnity has a column every Friday called Frugal Fridays where spending and saving ideas are shared among Kossacks. IMO it's a great idea, and I hope it can keep going.

  •  I'm Trying All Sorts of Things (11+ / 0-)

    I've taught myself how to cook basic stuff from scratch -- rice, beans, pasta, soups.  I also try to buy in bulk.  I've cut electrical use way down.  Public transportation.

    My biggest cost savings?  I don't keep a rolling balance on credit cards and save myself lots of money annually in finance charges.  I've either paid off all other debt or never incurred it in the first place.

    I think Sen. Clinton would make a very good president.

    by bink on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:16:44 AM PST

  •  Off the top of my head (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nelsons, irate, boofdah, Ellicatt, Tross

    CFLs in all my light fixtures have made a very noticeable improvement in my electric bill.

    I go out for lunch once every 2 weeks, on Payday.

    Clip coupons but only use them for things I would buy normally.  And store brands are your friends.

    Make-up from the drug store is just as good as the stuff from department stores.

    Saturday lunch is often combined with a shopping trip to Costco.  Plenty of samples.

    Sarahnity does a weekly series called Frugal Fridays.She always has great tips.  Look for it 3ish EST.

    Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.- not George Carlin

    by donnamarie on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:16:54 AM PST

  •  Whats the old saying (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bara, Nelsons, irate, boofdah, Ellicatt

    Scotts have short arms and very deep pockets. :)

    Thanks for the diary

    Four out five sock puppets agree

    by se portland on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:18:59 AM PST

  •  I cook at home. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nelsons, boofdah, Ellicatt

    A crock pot full of chicken makes for all kinds of main courses over a period of a week.
    Storage containers that are not the throw -away kind are good.
    I wash my cereal bowl after I use it and re-use it for heating my lunch.
    I have ingratiated myself with other teams on the floor so that I'm offered a plate at various pot-lucks and such.
    I shop a really nice Italian boutique called "Sol-vah-tea-own Arrh-my" usually on Saturdays.
    I volunteer my time for various functions (mostly church- Methodist and their covered dishes!)

    Integrity Accountability '08 Or Chocula Frankenberry '12

    by beneldon on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:21:57 AM PST

  •  A few things: (6+ / 0-)

    the CFLS have been mentioned.

    Stop buying lunch out, make a sandwhich a bring a yogurt.  Saves about $20/week.

    Make my own coffee.  A 44oz can of Yuban is less than $7.00 at costco, which is the cost of four cups of coffee at Starbucks.

    Store brands.

    Costco for everything possible.

    Public transportation over the car to work.

    Great diary, and

    p.s.-Librarians are my hereos.

  •  hahaha (7+ / 0-)

    Save money?  Even on my current austerity budget, I'm lucky if I can manage to pay my bills each month.  Saving is something I hope to do someday, maybe.

    * 3860 *

    by BDA in VA on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:24:00 AM PST

  •  If you're busy, find a DIY meal service (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellicatt, beneldon

    DIY=do-it-yourself. These are popping up all over the place where I live, and IMO are great for not only saving money, but adding a little variety to your weekly dinner menu.

    What these services are, specifically, are "kitchen" venues where you prepare complete entrèes, using their recipes and ingredients, to freeze and prepare later when you need a cook-and-go dinner. It doesn't cost much more than buying all of the ingredients yourself, and the beauty of it is that you spend a couple hours preparing eight or so meals that you can quickly cook at a later time, with no hassle and no mess.

    Being that we're both working gals who cook for hungry husbands, my sister and I go in on halves each month to share a set of meals that serve 4-5 people and can be split into portions that serve 2-3 (for couples or smaller families). Some examples of these services are Dinner Done!, Let's Eat!, and Dinners Done Right. There might be smaller-franchise or sole-proprietor businesses like this that are similar.

  •  Tons of frugality websites out there (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nelsons, Ellicatt, beneldon, DvCM, Tross

    I must say, I've been a housewife for a little over six years now, and the domestic skills I've accumulated through practice, save (us) a lot.  Cooking from scratch, for sure.  Knowing how to make a variety of tasty meals out of beans and vegetables and grains (fond of meat as I am)  I know how to make a lot of other things (my son lost his mittens last winter, I made him a new pair of red fleece ones in 30 minutes from some yardage I already had in my stash and a free pattern I found online).  I know how to mend a lot of things (anything that can be sewn, minor plumbing and car and electric, toys, etc).  I'm getting good at growing food.  I almost never pay retail.  And I don't shop unless we actually need something.

    Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

    But also: garbage in, garbage out.  I've learned the hard way that cheap now isn't always cheap in the long run - won't last, may impair your health, etc.

    However, I don't scrimp on quality if I'm eating it or I want it to last.  Well made items last longer.    I buy whole foods and process them myself, and buying humanely raised clean local meat means we don't eat meat very much (but it's so good when we do!).

    We keep the thermostat down low, plug the drafts, use CFLs, wash most laundry in cold water, and otherwise work to conserve energy - which means our utility bill has crept up just a little in the last 8 years, instead of jumping way up.

    We use the public library!

    And Freecycle.

    I buy my kids clothes used (very nice used, you would never guess to look at them) and trade them back in for 'new' ones as they grow out of them.

    And we don't pay for haircuts (and look no different than when we did - at least where we are you have to pay more than we can afford for a noticeably good haircut).

    "Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own has never been the place for middle- and working-class women. We work with interruptions." - Ananya Chatterjea

    by sarac on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:30:55 AM PST

  •  Live modestly with few debts. (4+ / 0-)

    My family of four lives in a 1100 square foot, two bedroom, half duplex.  My wife can walk to work, and my children can walk to a local public school.  I'm about two miles from work.  We are a one car family (our car, a reasonably fuel efficient is nine years old) and drive it only about 7,300 miles a year.

    We aren't excessive in buying consumer goods.  We still use the television we bought 13 years ago, and mostly just replace things when they break.  We don't get cable or satellite TV.

    We don't have expensive hobbies (e.g. we don't ski, golf or ride horses), and don't eat out at expensive places often.

    We shop around for good rates on insurance, a gym, phone bills and DSL.  We use an evaporative cooler and ceiling fans instead of air conditioning in the summer (so our electricity bills are basically the same all year around), and we keep indoor temperatures cool and have invested in insulating windows to reduce utility use in the winter.  

    We usually buy food (and liquor) on sale, or buy at CostCo.

    Our only debts other than short term trade credit and zero interest current credit card balances, are my student loans (why pay them off any sooner than we must with an interest rate of 3.5% and tax deductible interest), and our mortgage (also at a low fixed interest rate with tax deductible interest).

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:33:18 AM PST

  •  Saving As A Hobby (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nelsons, Ellicatt

    In the late 1970s my accountant (I had that luxury then) said Jill, don't worry about reducing your expenses. They can't go any lower! Since then I've been "rich" and I've been poor. Rich let me renovate my condo. Poor these days makes me save even more than I did 30 years ago.

    But I've had an aversion to cooking for years. It's been a problem, especially because my oven doesn't work.  

    I eat a lot of super-healthy bread: Seedy Bread from Trader Joe's, buttered with spreadable butter, is a meal. Low-salt canned soup, poured over couscous or rice, is a meal. And whole grain spaghetti with canned sauce is a meal.

    Spreadable butter and other things go on sale right before Thanksgiving. Big Lots and Dollar Tree sell some name-brand foods. Nutrition Action newsletter tells which whole grain pastas don't taste like cardboard.

    Clothing? Thrift shops, of course, But I wear a particular kind of pajama, bought from National or Vermont catalog annually. I budget for this.

    I've reduced my expectations over and over. Sometimes I'm angry and resentful, but less lately.

    The gods are in the balcony and I can smell the popcorn.

    by JG in MD on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:33:51 AM PST

  •  I diligently use grocery coupons (3+ / 0-)

    My grocery shopping centers around sales and matching coupons.  The local store doubles coupons and allows for buy one/get one offers to qualify for coupons where you have to buy two of the same item.  I usually save at least one-third off the total cost; over a year's time, that really adds up.

    I buy a good amount of paper products and non-perishables at a warehouse store, which also accepts coupons.  We stock-up on these trips and go once every 6-8 weeks.  Doing this allows us to make infrequent trips, which saves gas since it is about a 45 minute drive away.  I also live in an area that is prone to heavy snowfalls, so it keeps us off the road, too!

    We try to keep a small or non-existent credit card balance, which helps in the long run.  
    Since I moved to this rural area 12 years ago, I really found out what I can and cannot live without.  Very little consumer goods, outside of grocery items, can be bought without making a significant road trip.  Internet shopping, especially for clothing and technical needs, became my friend and I've learned to hunt for bargains there, too.

    •  I forgot programmable thermostats! (3+ / 0-)

      I have four heating zones (old, large house).  These thermostats have definitely made a noticeable difference in our heating bill over the past 1 1/2 years.  It was worth the investment.  

    •  Giant Food (3+ / 0-)

      Giant Food, our local supermarket chain, has raised its prices outrageously. There's a card for specials, which only occasionally include basic items. I prowl what I call the riff-raff shelf: bent cans, day-old cake, crushed boxes. So I manage to avoid most of the higher prices, but I sometimes go to two or three Giants, because they're ubiquitous around here.

      And they have the nerve to advertise on TV with cheery moms saying I just go to Giant for everything I need. I save money and have more time to spend with my family.

      The gods are in the balcony and I can smell the popcorn.

      by JG in MD on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 11:07:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Buy those holiday hams for soup (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nelsons, bleeding blue, Ellicatt, JG in MD

    After the holidays, the store will have a bunch with the dates about to expire. Buy them for soup. Tell the butcher you want a couple, he'll mark them down to $5 each. Dice, bag, freeze. Before putting in soup, boil with one change of water to rinse out the nitrates or your soup will taste like pee. And to lentils, black eyed peas, great northerns, barley.

  •  I buy loss-leaders and then leave. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bleeding blue, quaoar, JG in MD

    I urge you to take advantage of this common marketing strategy.

    For an example - a fast-food joint that offers a $1 burger - they don't make any money on the burger, but they are counting on you buying a $1 fountain soda that costs them 2 cents.  So I get the burger to go and spend 25 cents on a soda can from the supermarket.

  •  Walk to the store (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nelsons, JG in MD

    I shop withihn walking distance -- don't own a car. Once, on a diabetes newsgroup, posters told me how I could save grocery money by using Sam's Club. I pointed out that my grocery bill for a year (for myself and my wife, both) wass way less than it would cost to run a car.
    Compare prices that way, including your transportaion costs tot he store.

    Wizard parking only Violaters will be toad.

    by Frank Palmer on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:46:16 AM PST

    •  Where we choose to live has a big impact on (0+ / 0-)

      the budget (assuming there are options - some people don't have much choice due to finances or family situations).

      One thing that comes to mind, besides being close to the places we visit on a regular basis, is how efficient are the floorplan and utilities.

      For example, if the water heater is very far from the faucets, you will waste a lot of money no matter how low the heater is set to. Also, inefficent floor plans make us walk more, which from an exercise perspective seems good, but can also add to common household accidents, costing a lot of money along with the pain and aggravation.

      Anyone currently looking for a new place to live should factor these in.

      •  Hot water (0+ / 0-)

        Hot water's a problem, but there are some really simple ways to save money on it:

        a) Insulate your hot water heater. This is cheap and easy to do.
        b) Turn down the temp on the hot water heater. A lot of folks set it too high.
        c) Insulate the hot water pipes. This is an insanely boring chore but it reduces heat loss in the pipes.
        d) Usage: shorter showers, wash clothes in cold when possible, etc. Washing machines burn up a lot of hot water if you let them.


        "A clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast" - Groucho Marx

        by Morpheus on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 11:22:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ah, Analysis! (0+ / 0-)

    I posted a long comment and lost it! Grrr.

    Groceries: I look at the items in my cart and say A dollar, another dollar is two, 50 cents is two fifty, plus 2 is four fifty . . . . Each item will round up, down or sideways, and when I get to the checkout I say smugly Seventeen fifty! Total: $17.12.

    Gas: My car gets ~25 mi/gal, so if I go 10-15 mi each way, the round trip will set me back $3.00. Can I get it done closer to home? Is this trip enjoyable enough to be worth the extra money?

    I know, it's compulsive, but it makes me feel like I have some control, especially now that my condo fee is leaping up every year.

    The gods are in the balcony and I can smell the popcorn.

    by JG in MD on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 10:59:10 AM PST

  •  No credit cards.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tross, JG in MD

    I chopped up my credit cards a long time ago.  I figure if I don't have the $$$ for something I see in a store right now, then I really can't afford it.  Instead of credit cards, I have a small line of credit attached to my checking account in case of emergency.

    As dumb as it sounds, I also save all of my change.  I purchase nearly everything in cash and throw the change in a jar when I get home.  If you do this, you will find that it adds up to several hundred dollars a year, if not more.  If you live from paycheck to paycheck like I do, this can be a nice bonus when it comes time for Xmas presents ot taking a small vacation.

    The meek shall inherit nothing. -F.Zappa

    by cometman on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 11:04:37 AM PST

  •  Heating & AC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emeraldmaiden, JG in MD

    I have a home built in 1917 (for seven of us)...kind of expensive to heat. On the plus side the house is full of old cast-iron radiators, which are very efficient.

    When I bought the place I insulated heavily. That's a must if you haven't done it.

    I replaced our natural-gas boiler with a super-efficient one (93% on a good day, high 80s on a bad day). We forecast a payback period of seven years on, based on the price of gas when I bought it two years ago. Since then, with the rising gas prices my payback period has shrunk to about five years. I am using about 1/3 less gas, so even though the unit price is higher I am spending less.

    Our programable thermostats keep the house at 58 most of the time; 61 in the evening. I don't turn the heat on at all for the season until we just can't stand the cold. In the winter we always wear sweatshirts or sweaters at home and more often than not, if we're reading or watching TV we are under a blanket.

    AC is a lot simpler: I just don't do it. I don't care how hot it is (we're in NY) we just don't.

    I am curious how hot or cold everybody else keeps their homes.

    "A clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast" - Groucho Marx

    by Morpheus on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 11:17:00 AM PST

    •  No, No, No Hot (0+ / 0-)

      Winter: Hey, it's February and I haven't turned on the heat yet. Better do it and get the dust out of the ducts.

      Summer: Sixty five degrees 24/7. Oh, are you chilly, I'm sorry, it feels fine to me.

      But it doesn't matter, because my condo complex doesn't meter utilities. They wish they could, but it's financially and infrastructurely [correct word?] impossible.

      The gods are in the balcony and I can smell the popcorn.

      by JG in MD on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 11:23:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In Tucson, we don't use much heat (0+ / 0-)

      but the AC is a must. However, we keep ours set at 79, when we use it. It creeps down to 77 when the monsoon season strikes, but rarely, if ever, lower than that. We haven't turned on the heat yet - not even to burn off the dust! The AC hasn't been on for a while, either. The late summer/early fall is the time when you need the AC for about an hour or two in the evening, and then you can open the windows for the night.

      -8.00, -7.08

      It isn't easy being green.

      Our stuff really sucks! No, really.

      by emeraldmaiden on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 02:29:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  holiday gifts: buy/make handmade (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    take the pledge!

    luckily, i have family members who appreciate hats/scarves/mittens/rugs/sweaters/cleaning utensils made out of natural fibers.

  •  Sometimes having a credit card can save money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD

    I pay two utilities with my card because they come at a chancey time of month, when I don't have much in the bank.  Rather than overdraw, it is better to charge them and pay the card each month at a better time.

    My dh and I didn't owe on credit cards until we had a run of bad luck and medical bills.  For the past three years we have swept our credit card debt into a zero interest card. On a $10,000 debt w 10% interest, that can save $1,000 a year.  My husband is retired, but he took a part time job to pay off the card, but more bad luck keeps happening and so the cycle is repeated.  This year we should do it.  We have more than enough in retirement savings to pay it, but he doesn't want to use that now.  Hospitals will let you make payments to them, but they charge interest too.

    The way to build up good credit is by making double payments and keeping debts low.

    Put your credit card payment on bill pay, then you are never late.  You can put it on autopay, but the cc company does the billing and will only take out the full balance or the minimum payment.  I use bill pay so I can decide how much to pay them.

    He has Medicare, a prescription drug plan and a supplemental, but we also have bought him an insurance that pays cash to us, if he goes to the hospital.  Hopefully, that will break this medical debt cycle.  He hasn't used his Medicare yet, but the co-pays and drugs were staggering on his old insurance.  We have learned to buy generics, since then.

    To pay for our funerals, we have bought two stocks that we dedicated to that cost and hope we never cash them in, but also hope they will grow in value for more than enough to pay for the funerals, when they are needed. Both stocks together would pay for one funeral now.

  •  Dump the cell phone (0+ / 0-)

    Think about the annual cost of having a device that constantly interrupts your life. How did you ever survive without it.

    You might even find it liberating.

    Anyone for a quick game of Chess.

    by CitizenOfEarth on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 02:29:14 PM PST

  •  I added the teaching tag (0+ / 0-)

    and will include this diary in my weekly roundup What Have You Got to Learn?  there will be a link in my sig when it goes up in about an hour

  •  Grocery stores having a contest for market share (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD

    In my neighborhood the grocery stores are competing desperately for market share.  To this end, they offer "free" merchandise if you spend a certain amount,and give you $5 or $10 off if you spend at least $40.  Harris Teeter even gives old people a 5 percent discount on Thursdays, which just balances the Virginia sales tax.  Luckily, I didn't have to dye my hair gray to get the senior discount--it's gray anyway!

    So far, we've received  unsalted butter, toilet paper (my favorite brand), paper towels,  flour,  frozen chicken breasts, and just this week, a frozen 12-pound turkey, all free.  Long live the competition, I say.

    If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got.

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 06:47:45 AM PST

  •  Frugality clashes with other philosophies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD

    In the interest of being frugal, I recycle giftwrapping paper and ribbons, but you should see my shelves!  Ghastly sight.

    My frugal half is in constant conflict with my de-cluttering half.  Frugal says, "Save it.  You never know when you might need it."  The Peter Walsh (It's All Too Much)-inspired de-cluttering half, "Says get rid of it.  If you need it later, you'll just have to go out and buy it."

    There's also a conflict, touched on previously, between the Germ Destroyers and the Environment.  For years I've been washing all my clothes in cold water, thinking that this would help the environment, etc. etc.  Of course, I've used bleach on the white things.  Now comes all this stuff about dust mites and germs not being eradicated by cold water and detergent.

    One doesn't know where to turn. can help get rid of some of the clutter--you'd be amazed at how your castoffs can make other people happy--and donating to charities helps too.  But I am faced with the problem of getting rid of my late father's library, consisting of at least 1,500 books. My local library doesn't want them.  Neither does the used bookstore.  Schools in Africa might want them, but I don't have the money to palletize and ship them.

    If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got.

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 06:59:50 AM PST

  •  Books (0+ / 0-)

    Believe me, the world is full of books. Thrift stores can barely sell them. Used bookstores are already crammed with them. Even people who read have enough to last until 2014.

    First: Recycle ALL damaged and useless paperbacks. You can put them with your newspapers. Keep them clean, people might take them from the curb or the trash room and read them! Hardbacks: Throw away as many as possible, including [shudder] Reader's Digest Condensed Books, old textbooks, any novel written before 19[pick a year].

    Lightning will not strike you if you throw away books, even bibles.

    Now for the ones people might want.

    Do you know people who work in offices with break rooms? Give them piles of readables to start a book swap, as many as possible.

    Senior centers have shelves of books for people to borrow or trade. Take more readables there.

    In Montgomery County we have annual used book sales that take donations all year: A private school, the county historical society and the AAUW come to mind. Ask your local used bookseller about them in your area.

    The gods are in the balcony and I can smell the popcorn.

    by JG in MD on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 01:20:53 PM PST

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