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 to...you know.....