Thursday, January 29, 2009
Posted by Mansi
Here are a few tips and tricks that can come in handy. Just like all of you, I'm trying to be frugal too, trying to plan things more efficiently to avoid unnecessary expenses. Here are a few ways that I found easy to follow, and can really help you save a bunch.
1. Restrict outings at high-end restaurants for special occasions only; try cooking at home more often, and when you have to eat out, choose chain restaurants, or select places where kids eat free. Look out for restaurant specials and coupons; most of them offer 10-15% off these days which can help conserve some Moolah.
2. Now more than ever, is the time to clip coupons for grocery stores, and use them efficiently. Use online tools like coupons.com or coolsavings.com, and do not throw away the coupons you receive in mail as junk, without taking a good look at them.
3. Plan your weekly meals way ahead of time if you can, so youcan finish your grocery shopping in one trip, restricting to no more than 2 trips a month. This will not only save gas, it will also help you use up all the food lying in your fridge and pantry, reducing chances of extra spending or food getting expired or wasted.
4. Stock your pantry with some frozen or canned foods and vegetables; they stay longer and can be easily used to cook something when you are short on time. However, refrain from indulging in frozen or packaged dinners which can get really expensive, and will usually suffice for just one or two people.
5. Be a smart-shopper, and STOP being a Shopaholic, at least for the time being. Make a grocery list ahead of time, and stick to buying just the things on the list. Avoid loitering around dessert, drink or snacks aisles - and if you don't trust yourself enough, take a spouse or friend with you who can pull you away from excessive shopping in case you get swayed!:)
6. Stock up on the Staples - I always make sure I have my essentials like flour, rice, pasta, pasta sauces, noodles, cheese, salad etc, stocked on hand for times of need. A little bit of planning and management will reduce sudden eating-out plans, as well as come to rescue when you don't have enough time to cook.
7. Bake your own goodies! Seriously, if you compare the cost of cookies, cakes, desserts bought as staples for kids, you'll know that a 99c worth cookie-dough weighs out compared to a box of cookies at $3.99. You don't need much math to figure that out, right!
8. Switch to low-cost fruits and vegetables like bananas, oranges, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, etc when you are trying to save, and limit expensive fruit indulgences like strawberries, blueberries, pomegranates to once a week.
9. Teach and coax your kids to finish the food on their plates and not waste it. Sometimes, its hard to accomplish this, and parents can try to finish leftovers from their plates to reduce wastage. But take this opportunity to explain to kids the importance and value of food and inculcate better values.
10. Finally, try to tackle this as a family. Its not that hard to give up on some indulgent choices once in a while. Switching to a low-cost version of coffee at Starbucks, or brewing your own one at home instead of buying one everyday on your way to work can really add up on the savings! Involve every member of the family and discuss how you'd like to save on food-costs; get ideas, get approvals so everyone's on the same page, and it won't be as tough as you imagine.
I'm sure there are tonnes of other ways to save money, but these are just some that we are trying to stick to at home. Hope they come in handy to a few of you. Please feel free to share your tips and ideas with us too.
Remember, small changes can add up to a lot when you look at it over time, and the best part is, you won't even realize that you are missing something!
This post was written by Mansi
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