Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fun Monday-Saving $

Our Fun Monday hostess this week is the lovely Sayre, who wants to know how we're making do during this stinky economy. Specifically:

What are you and your family doing to deal with the current economic situation on a personal level? Obama's got a plan for the nation, but how do you/will you deal with your own economic stress.

Well, my economic stress started the day my child was born and really accelerated when she reached high school last year. Every time I turn around she needs money for school related stuff, and don't even get me started on those dance dresses. With her driver's license test just around the corner, the hell known as "car insurance for a teenager" is about to kick our backsides in mere weeks. Add to that our federal tax bill and the price of gas, utilities and groceries and the Hula-gen's are feeling the pinch just like everyone else. Whenever I look at my 401K portfolio, it feels more like a sucker punch than a pinch. I could certainly use a few money saving tips, so I'll be visiting Sayre's and scouring everyone else's posts on how they're cutting corners these days. Here are some ways we save around this house:

1. Invest in a good freezer-It's a great way to save on food costs. In fact, we save several hundred dollars in beef alone by using the freezer. Here's a peek inside of ours, and I'm only showing you this because we just replaced ours and it's still nice and tidy inside. In a couple of months it will look like something out of the movie Twister. My brother in law raises beef cattle. Every year we buy one from him and have it slaughtered. That's a very common thing in these parts. We tell the meat processing folks how we want everything cut and packaged and then pick it up when it's done. We get roasts, all kinds of steaks and enough ground chuck to feed hamburgers to all of the starving children in Africa, and it costs a fraction of what we'd pay for it in the store. This year, we paid $1.79 a pound for every pound. That's porterhouse steak, ribeyes, T-bones, chuck roast...everything. Ground chuck alone is $2.68 a pound in the store. Porterhouse steak was $11.69 a pound at the grocery last week. Keep in mind, we know where the beef comes from and how it's fed, so we're basically getting organic, safe beef for the entire year for less than $2 a pound. The only meat I buy at the store is chicken breast and a little ham or pork now and then. We did lose some of our meat this month when our freezer pooped out after the power outage, but we managed to save quite a bit of it, thank goodness.

I also buy a lot of produce at the farmer's market in the summer and freeze it, along with the stuff from our garden and the gardens of our family. We get 120 ears of corn every year, blueberries, green beans, strawberries, peaches and a variety of other things that get blanched and frozen. I also stock up on specials at the grocery store like sugar, flour and frozen foods and stuff those in the freezer for future use. We save several hundred dollars a year on food costs by using the freezer, and you can too. I know some of you are thinking, "Wait, I live in the city and no one around me grows cattle". You might be surprised to find what's available by checking with local meat packers and ag extension offices. A lot of meat packers will allow you to buy a loin and have it sliced into steaks at a cost that's much cheaper than buying them at the grocery.

2. Eye makeup remover-I never buy it. I use this instead:
And I have since I was seventeen. Vaseline takes it off easily, is cheap and is a great moisturizer for the skin around your eyes and your eyelashes. I use it every evening, and my eyes are never greasy when I wake up.

3. Eating out-We eat out only on the weekends. I cook the rest of the week. We eat healthier that way, and save money. I usually check the local newspaper or the web for coupons for chain restaurants before the weekend. A lot of restaurants are running great specials right now to get folks in their doors. Last weekend, TGI Friday's had a two for one entree deal. We also buy a few of those "spirit cards" the local schools sell as fundraisers each fall. They have discounts for local restaurants on them and come in very handy.

4. Clothes-I never pay full price for clothing. I usually buy stuff at the end of the season and put it back for the next year, picking up only a couple of trendy items while they're in season. Two weeks ago I hit a sale at J.C. Penney's and bought among other things, a $180 blazer for $9.99, a $72 suit jacket for $7.95 and a $110 cocktail dress for $9.99. I ended up with $400 worth of stuff for $31. Sweet! Which leads me to:

5. Cocktail dresses-Because of my job, I always have one or more black tie events to attend each year. I refuse to spend much money on formalwear, so I wait until the holiday stuff is on sale (now) or better yet, the clearance sale on prom dresses and dig through the racks for a little black dress that's age appropriate and a classic style. Trust me, they're there, you just have to dig. I buy one dirt cheap and put it in the closet for future events. I haven't paid more than $20 for a cocktail dress in fifteen years, and it's a motivator to stay the same size throughout the year. One year, it cost me more to have the dress tailored than it did to buy it. Geez, I love a bargain.

Now, I'm off to read everyone else's ideas. I'm hoping someone out there has some thoughts on how to save on Charmin toilet paper. Hubby refuses to buy any other brand, and have you seen the price of toilet paper lately?! It drives me crazy to spend that much on paper know.....


Trailboss said...

Such great ideas. We are having a cow slaughtered next week. It is the first time for us so we are unsure as how to have it done. Our neighbor, Mr Cannon, raises Texas LongHorns, and we will pay only about $1 per lb for it. What would your suggestion be? I had thoughts of getting the ground chuck fresh and making our own patties, and the rest put into 1lb pkgs.

Mariposa said...

Oh, thanks for the Vaseline make-up remover is quite pricey...and too greasy at times, that I rarely use it! LOL Will definitely try this one...

And yes to the dining out thingy and clothes shopping...very nice ideas!

Happy Fun Monday!

Jeanna said...

Boy, now I feel guilty for not offering any good ideas.
You are so right about the freezer, although I'm not buying sides of beef,I do pick up anything that looks good on sale, have them wrap it for freezing, and really pack that little fridge freezer.

Peter said...

Sure hope you don't get any extended power cuts with that freezer full of meat.

J.G. said...

Thanks for the fancy dress inspiration! I need one for an event later this month and if a promised lend from a friend doesn't come through, I'll be trying to score one for under $20, just like you.

Hootin' Anni said...

ANY make up is expensive, even make up remover, so I rarely use it at all these days. I figure if they don't like what they see, tough. LOL Guess that attitude comes with age.

You have some great ideas there, and oh how I wish I had access of beef from anyone in the family. Especially when the kids were still home.

Happy fun monday.

Sayre said...

Toilet paper may be the ONLY item I buy in bulk. It doesn't go bad and eventually it always gets used.

I may have to check out a freezer. My dad (in addtion to chickens) is pondering raising cattle for beef - and a freezer would be a VERY good thing should that come to pass.

I'm definitely with you on the clothes-buying - I never buy anything full price. And I wear what I have until it falls apart. Shoes are somewhat optional (I've got a three year old pair of crocs flip flops that I'm still wearing most of the time) but running shoes have become my main clothing expense. I just bought my first two pair and I know they have to be replaced fairly often (when you actually use them for running).

I have a big jar of cold cream for the same reason you've got the vaseline. It does the job and it's CHEAP!

jill said...

love the freezer and meat thing, we have done similar and can't wait to do it again, if anyone doesnt know a farmer, try checking with local meat markets, their price is lower than supermarkets and they will sometimes cut stuff in half for you or whatever. as for toilet paper, check to see when coupons will be available or call the company and ask for coupons. i havent done this yet, but just might. also see if your store doubles coupons or does 'price match'. also sometimes the smaller rolls are cheaper and sometimes the bigger rolls are. you just have to look at the cost and divide by x number of rolls, they put the equivalent on the charmin package.

Faye said...

You've inspired me to check out my supposedly dead freezer in the basement. Love using it so you can buy scads of frozen healthy foods--fruits/veg, meats-to have on hand for anytime cooking. Any time you can stay out of the grocery store, there's savings.

Hope it's not too nosy to ask, but what work do you do to require a little black dress? Event planning? I'm intrigued. If you want though, just tell me to mind my own business, HG!

Janis said...

Your a very Frugal girl, thats to your advantage. Those are some very good tips on saving.

karisma said...

Ahhhh you shop like me! LOL! Its the only way to go!

I had never thought of freezing my fresh vegies, will have to give it a try. (Thus far when I have too many I give them away).

Now here are some new words for you to practice with teen angel....NO and GET A JOB! There comes a time in every mama's life where this is necessary. Its actually a great lesson for kids to learn to stand on their own two feet a bit and they also appreciate things so much more if they have to pay for it themselves. (Its amazing how suddenly the brand name product does not look so great!)

ChrisB said...

You've given us a lot of good ideas and some I already do myself-like freezing fruit and veg when it is in season.

hulagirlatheart said...

Trailboss-The meat packer cuts it into roasts and steaks and then we grind everything else up into chuck. We tell him how we want our steaks cut and how many put in a package. We also have the chuck put into one pound pkgs.

Sayre-clarification. I do pay full price for my running shoes in order to get the best fit. I feel it's important with those shoes in order to prevent injuries.

Faye-I do marketing and community relations for my company and handle our key accounts. I also sit on the local chamber of commerce board and a couple of other boards. I go to a lot of chicken dinners.

Karisma-Funny you should mention that. We got TA an application today for a summer job. We told her she's working this summer, although she's spent the last two summers babysitting fulltime, so this won't be a new concept to her.

Bobbie Leigh said...

I never heard of using Vasaline as makeup remover before! I will have to try it!
OH and thanks for the heads up about the daughter getting more expensive in highschool. That's enough to make me curl up in the fetal position and cry.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Gattina said...

I have always payed attention to what I spent money for. it's just in my nature, I don't care about shoes, handbags or other stuff, we never took a credit except for the house, so finally my lifestyle hasn't changed at all.