Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Am I a Frugal Mommy?

I hate that word - frugal. Mostly because that means I have to deal with money, and I hate money. But it also means that I have to do the things I dislike most:
  • Less Shopping
  • Pinching Pennies
  • MATH (YUCK!)
When we were on two incomes, spending money on two adults and two dogs, frugality wasn't a HUGE priority for us. No, we didn't go and spend, spend, spend, but it wasn't a huge deal if I decided to go shopping at Hobby Lobby or Old Navy occasionally. Now that we're down to one budget, with doctor bills, two dogs, a baby, two adults with ginormous appetites (one with a high metabolism and the other breast feeding - you guess which belongs to who - haha), and the normal bills of living in our own home and two college graduates, we HAVE to watch what we spend.

When we decided I would be a stay-at-home mommy, I did a little bit of research and talked to other stay-at-home mom's and made a list of ways where I'd save more money: 12 Ways I Plan to be a Frugal Mommy. Well now that I've been doing these things for 4 months I wanted to go back and see if these things are actually making a difference. Here's what I found:
  1. Buy Papertowels vs. disinfectant wipes. (Not both) Well this was a major duh. Still, I'm finding that a pack of papertowels are expensive! I need to cut back on how many I use throughout the day and use more rags.
  2. Make my own bread.
    • I buy about 5 lbs of flour every 2 months which = approx. $3.50
    • I bought 16 oz of Saf-Instant Yeast which costs approx. $4.00. To make 2 loaves of bread requires 2 Tbsp of yeast, and I make about 2 loaves per week and a half (yes, we eat a lot of bread). 16 oz = almost 32 Tbsp, so this will last me a little over 2 months.
    • I buy 1 Gallon of vinegar, which is about $4.00. I use 1 Tbsp for every 2 loaves. 1 Gallon = 252 (ish) Tbsp. I also use this for cleaning, so I'll say I buy a gallon every 6 months.
    • I use a Tbsp of salt per 2 loaves of bread. 26 oz of salt = approx. 51 Tbsp. (and I use salt in other items as well) so one thing of salt could last me 2-4 months at least.
    • I also use a thing of butter every month (not just for bread) but I brush the top of the bread with it right after it comes out of the oven and I also coat the bread pans in it instead of using non-stick spray. One box of butter costs about $3 every month.
    • Overall I make about 4 loaves of bread every month. If I were to buy 4 loaves of bread at Wal-Mart, for example, I'd be spending nearly $10 every month. When I bought all the items I needed to make my easy, peasy bread recipe I spent approx. $16. Only 2 items I buy every month: flour and butter, which = approx. $6 (and I'd be buying those two items anyway because I use them for gobs of other stuff!)

      After all that nonsense, what's the overall conclusion?
    • Is it cheaper to make my own bread? YES!
    • Is it worth it? Um, have you ever had fresh bread? I'd say YES, YES, YES.
    • Plus when I look at the ingredient list of my homemade bread vs. the stuff I buy at the store, well, let's add another YES, YES, YES to that! What I make at home is ten times better for me than what I buy at the store.
    • So I'll continue to make my own bread. :)
  3. Ride my bike or walk. Well this has been helpful to me in more ways than I can count. Health wise - it's worth it. Gas prices are outrageous and even driving around town is expensive - so worth it. When it's cold - we bundle up. PLUS, we decided that we can survive on one vehicle, which means our insurance costs every month went down significantly. AND we sold my bug (which I'm a little sad about, sniff, sniff) but that's extra cash that we desperately needed.
    • Overall conclusion? This will continue. :)
  4. Buy in Bulk. Kyle is much better than I am at comparing prices, and what he has discovered is that the more bulk-y-er the item (hehe) the cheaper it typically is and the longer it lasts. What I've found most helpful in this area is: plan, plan, plan. I try to plan my meals 3-4 weeks at a time. It cuts down on what we buy and how often we drive to get it. Savings all around.
    • PLUS, my sister has recently discovered that it is cheaper to buy products through Wal-Mart online and have them shipped to you! If you spend $45 it's free shipping. They'll ship items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, deoderant, etc. etc. These are products you're going to buy anyway. If you don't live next to a Wal-Mart and have to spend the gas money to retrieve these items - well, it's cheaper to do it this way AND it saves you the hassle of dragging a child around a store that's usually a mad house! Um, well, well, well, worth it!
  5. Freeze our Milk. We discovered that buying milk in our small town grocery store is twice as much as buying it at a King Soopers or Wal-Mart, for example. When we go to the store to stock up we buy 2-4 gallons at a time, saving us tons. So this we will continue to do as well.
  6. No Boxed Cereal. First of all, yes, another duh, this is way cheaper and way better for you. Now that I've cut this from my diet I no longer want it. It's amazing how that happens! Instead I eat Malt-o-Meal or oatmeal, a piece of fruit, toast, or eggs. It's way better for me and way more fulfilling. Plus, I ocassionally make my own granola and it's super yummy as well!
  7. Make my own snacks. I buy almonds (which are kinda expensive) and fruit and vege's that are easy to snack on instead of chips, crackers, or cookies. If I do want cookies, for example, I make my own. I'm not even going to compare prices here, because, quite frankly, we don't have junk food in our house. It's all homemade or out of a garden. I'm not going to buy the processed crap. I feel so much better about our health when we stay out of those isles! So this is going to continue whether or not it's cheaper.
  8. Make my own baby food. The time is quickly approaching where my baby girl will be eating pureed fruits and vegetables! (WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?) I will make my own baby food no matter what. I looked at the ingredient list of some baby food out there and YIKES. I wanted to give her some apple sauce, for example, and the second ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. Nope. Won't be feeding her that. I'll take the time to make her food and KNOW what she's eating. Right now I'll be breast feeding her, slowly weening her until she's a year old (that's my goal). I can't even begin to tell you the savings and the overall benefits of doing this! It's better for HER and easier on our wallet. I pump every morning and freeze breast milk to use in her cereal. I want to have enough stashed up as time goes on so this can continue. Considering the cost of formula and individual baby food jars - this is so WORTH it and then some.
  9. Around the house use cloth diapers and rubber pants. Most people ask me, quite honestly, if this really saves money when you think of the immediate costs. Well, when I published my first blog about being a frugal mom, many, many mommies I know and trust offered hand-me-down rubber pants and well cleaned diapers. I was thrilled. Plus I registered for the items I needed. When people would ask me what I most needed I told them what I was doing and why, and asked for cloth diapers, cloth diapers, cloth diapers. The only thing I had to buy was a set of rubber pants in the 3-6 month range and diaper pins. Those are pretty cheap. I spent approx. $12 to get started (no kidding). The cloth diapers are foldable and can fit any size if you fold them to fit your child, so they'll last FOREVER. The "rubber pants" are kind of expensive at first costing about $1 per pant, but the savings is signficant. I buy about 9 at a time and that'll last me about 2 days (I use disposable at night because they hold more) I wash, hang dry, and re-use. So every 3 months I spend about $12. I have yet to spend anything on disposable diapers. I received size 1-3 diapers as gifts. I can guarantee you'll save by doing this. It's soooooo worth it if you're a stay at home mom.  
  10. Grow a Garden. I LOVE the outdoors. I LOVE being in the sun. But I do not have what you would call a green thumb. :-/ I killed a bamboo plant. Poor thing. So I'm learning all there is to learn about growing herbs indoors, what to plant and when and where, as well as composting. There's a lot to this thing. But I can tell you right now that I've enjoyed it all and can't wait for spring! Hehe. I know that growing corn, peas, green pepper, onion, potatoes, all the things we buy each month, will save us so much money! Plus I'll have the satisfaction of knowing I grew it - effectively! I just hope I can say that come harvesting time! Eeeeeeek! Wish me luck!
  11. Be a coupon-er! I'll be honest, I haven't been very good at this one. In fact, I'm terrible. I'll find a coupon, forget it, plan to use it next time, then find out it expired. Grrrrr... I know this will save us money, but I've GOT TO GET MYSELF ORGANIZED if I want to be effective on this one.
  12. No more zip-lock bags. Holy cow has this one ever been true. I have bought one box, one, in the last 4 months. I wash and re-use what I already have. I use the storage containers we already have (and we have a ton of 'em). It costs $3-$8 (depending on size and brand) per box of zip lock bags. Why spend that money? In the past I would've bought two bags (freezer size and sandwich size) spending almost $10 just in plastic bags! Then throw them away! First of all, that's not very environmentally friendly. Secondly, that's just plain wasteful and lazy. Save the earth! Save your wallet! Use storage containers!
The other ways that I've saved $$$ is...
  • Hang dry your laundry. I love, love, love the smell and feel of clothes fresh out of the dryer. But dog-gone-it our utility bill every month is crazy. I've got to cut down.
  • Open the blinds and use the light outside instead of flipping the light switch.
  • Turn things off and unplug when not in use.
  • Do not waste food. Lunch meals and Sunday meals are left overs. 'Nuff said.
  • Turn your heat down, layer up.
  • Make my own cleaning products, everything from laundry soap, to carpet cleaner, to windex can be homemade. I stock up on bleach, vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and borax. It's cheaper, better for you, versatile, and lasts much, much longer.
All these things seem like "penny pincher" ideas, but when you add it all up,  you're saving hundreds each year. You won't see the cost effectiveness right away, but doing small things, makes a big difference not only on your wallet, but on the environment, and your health. IT'S WORTH THE EXTRA WORK.

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