Frugal frolics! - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Utah - USA
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Frugal frolics!

Krissy suggested maybe we should have a thread to post things about saving money. I am ALWAYS willing to get any tips and tricks about that, as I live on about $300 a month (well...$200 after paying rent)

The thread that started it, was how to get cheap slipcovers for couches. Bed sheets...wonderful idea! I've been buying bed sheets at thrift stores for my medieval costumes I sew.

Groceries - I very rarely buy name brand, even with a coupon. Generics are just as good (usually the exact same!) and cheaper even after "coupon" price. I try to buy things on sale, with coupons, or some other way to not pay the usual full price. Having only $50 a month for groceries ($35 food stamps, about $20 of my own money), I scrimp a lot! Never buy pre-cut anything...sure it's a bit of work, but usually cheaper to buy whole veggies and cheese blocks.

Household - I already have all the furniture I want, but there's some pretty good stuff at thrift stores. If you insist on getting new (after all, you don't know what's been on that couch before it got donated!), Big Lots has some good prices on furniture. Scratch & Dent/"as is" sections at furniture stores are good... I got my fridge for $200, simply because it had one little dent in the side of the door and some scratches of the paint (which I have not bothered to paint over, because I really don't care how it looks...just as long as it keeps my food cold!)

Pet supplies - this has been talked about lots of times, anyway! More often than not, the kitties like "trash" than store-bought toys! The other day Nebbie passed up a dingle ball and 2 fuzzy mice to play with a milk bottle cap! At the cat sanctuary I volunteer at, we couldn't find any of their balls (usually they "lose" them behind the litter boxes against the wall, but they weren't there), so I just crumpled up some notebook paper... boy, you'd think it was Christmas for those kitties! They were all romping around and chasing/batting that paper like it was the best thing in the world!

Eating on the go - yes, it's convenient to grab a burger...but not only a bit expensive, not really healthy. I've been getting in the habit of "pre packing" snacks. If I know I won't eat something that needs to stay cold soon enough, I just get things like raisins, crackers, pretzels, granola bars, etc.. If I have a lunch on the go that I can eat relatively quickly, I'll put leftovers in a tupperware thing and just grab that out of the fridge (and stuff that I prefer warm, I just nuke for 1 minute in the tupperware, and it's still a quick thing!). I have sports bottles to put my own drinks in, rather than buying a 20 oz soda on the way to my destination. I usually drink fruit juice if I know it'll be more than 2 hours in the bottle... if I know I'll drink it relatively soon, I prefer milk - both much more healthier than soda anyway!

Entertainment - I have not been out to see a movie in a theatre in over a year. I watch "old" movies on cable (I guess cable bill counts as an entertainment expense, but I get my cable for free - dad pays the bill). There's also Hulu, and if you want to spend a little, Hulu has a premium thing for $8 a month (or Netflix, or something like that).
Libraries also have DVDs to borrow... granted, it's not a great selection, but at least it's free!
I go out to eat at a restaurant about twice a month. Usually as a "treat" if I've had a bad/hard day at the cat sanctuary and I'm just too tired to bother making my own stuff when I get home. I also try to limit my order to under $20 INCLUDING the tip...which yes, is sometimes difficult. However, this also gets me TWO meals - but that's because I never finish at the restaurant, and take stuff home in a box to eat the next day.

Gas - with prices so high ($3.50 here), this is a big thing for me. Coast as much as possible. When you're approaching a traffic light that is yellow, obviously you know you'll need to stop...apply the brakes at the last possible moment (don't slam!), but coast to the intersection for as long as you can. Also, when the light turns green, don't "jack rabbit" start... sure people behind you might be annoyed that you're gradually getting up to speed, but it's better than gunning it suddenly.
Use cruise control if possible, and keep highway speeds between 55-65. Anything over 68 really ruins fuel economy (5% or so, I think). Also, don't carry any extra weight in the back seat or trunk if possible. Keep tires properly inflated. A clean air filter helps your engine run better, and saves gas...I change my air filter with every oil change (I do mine about every 6 months... or rather, my dad does! LOL)
Try to drive as little as possible. Do errands all at once (I usually do Tuesdays, because that's "hospital day" (most of my appoints on Tuesday mornings, then I go do my other stuff) AND when the grocery store re-does their ads (so I can get discounts from the week before AND the current week... ain't I a cheat? LOL). Also, if possible, try to do your errands so that you drive to the farthest one first, then make each stop on the way home so you're not back-tracking all around town.
I fill my tank for about $35-40 and it lasts all month. People are amazed... "I spend that much in a week!" (granted I am not commuting for a job... but just think, it's only $30 or so to use for your personal driving!)
I can get an average/combined mpg of 25-28 in my car which is "rated" at only 19-21

um... that's all I can think of for now. Anybody else?
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 02:08 PM
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Groceries-Well my mom gets foods stamps and by the third week after we get them, it's all gone! We didn't get our food stamps yet. >x<

Eating on a go- My mom goes to fast food places everyday! We get dinners on a regular bases too, Like once a week...

And for furniture.. only if we need it..

Thats all.
Entertainment. Maybe once in a while we go and buy movies.

Pet supplies: I usually go to the pet every week because the animals always need something. Whether if it's food or toys etc.
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 02:37 PM
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If your going to buy a car, consider stick-shift/manual. The car will be cheaper & it will have better gas mileage! Also, a car with a full tank of gas works more efficiently than one with 1/2 a tank.

I'm a fan of buying bulk when things are on sale & you know you will use them. I save a lot on things like paper towels, peanut butter (for general eating & sweets around Christmas time), and frozen foods by doing that. If you have a family, invest in an extra freezer to stock up on meats, breads, sweets, etc when they are on sale. If you are single like me, store your extras in your parents' freezer like me

VD, I also usually buy fresh veggies & cut them myself. I make mashed potatoes from scratch (super easy if you buy some of those microwave steamer bags; rinse & re-use them!), and if there are leftovers I make gnocchi out of them. Food rarely gets wasted over here because I'm awesome at combining leftovers with extra ingredients or spices to make new dishes, or I freeze the leftovers in lunch size plastic containers (great when you get lunch/dinner on a time crunch!) I also keep a few cans of soup bases and/or chicken stock on hand to make soups out of leftovers & whatever veggies are available.

If your going to entertain, do a potluck! People love sharing their different recipes & the best part is you didn't have to do all the prep/buy all the supplies yourself
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 03:25 PM
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I try to 'bulk' buy as much as possible. For instance a few weeks back my local Roths had whole chickens on sale for .69 a lb. I bought about 6 chickens (my poor stuffed freezer). One chicken can make me about 8 meals (two breasts, two legs/thighs and 4 bowls of soup. When things go on sale I buy as much as I can possibly store. When I divorced I took the small chest freezer we had and it's in the storage cubicle attached to my balcony, I just run the wire under the door to the outside plug.

I bake my own bread, make my own pasta and like VD never buy precut anything. I have all the furniture I need except side tables/coffee table in my living room. Instead of buying them I turned two boxes upside down and wrapped them in festive paper (which I can change with the seasons) and use those for side tables. Under them are baskets that hold my DvDs (and give them stability). I thrifted a silver tray and put it on the footstool to use as a coffee table. My internet is my most expensive bill (except for rent) and comcast is pretty cool. Whenever they have a special deal (for instance 19.99 for six months) I call and they are pretty good about letting me have the introductory price.

I make my own clothes out of sale, thrifted or re purposed fabrics. In thrift stores I can often find clothes much bigger in size than I am and alter/re design them. When I buy a pattern I trace it onto sturdier paper (like butcher paper) so I can reuse it. That way I can also make any changes to the pattern and make something that looks slightly different.

At night I'm very careful NEVER to have more than one room with a light on. Along that line, I haven't bought a light bulb in about 4 years. Portland General offers 'winterization' or 'green' packages they send out and they always have 4 or 5 light bulbs in them.

Cleaning products are expensive and not healthy. Vinegar, baking soda and other things work just as well and are UBER cheap. I mix my own.

I don't eat out. If my SO is here he treats me to dinners out during his trip but otherwise I would never buy fast food or eat out.

I don't have cable. For 16.00 (cheaper than the cheapest cable package i can get) I have Hulu for Tv shows and Netflix for movies. I don't go out to the movies unless my SO is here. He treats me to the movies and I use my Regal Crown card to rack up points so if something comes out while he's not here that i *REALLY* want to see I can use my free ticket to see it.

I couldn't afford to paint my apartment but eggshell walls are horrible so I thrifted a few large pretty comforters/quilts and hung those on the walls to make the place homier/prettier. My apartment has 4 heaters and each has its own thermostat. The spare bedroom is empty so I leave the heat off. I put a doorstop for MowMow to squeeze through a cracked door (to use his litterbox) and i hung a pretty twin sized quilt in front of the door to keep out drafts from that room. No sense in heating it. My balcony door leaks heat terribly and you can feel a draft near it so I hung another pretty twin quilt over it. We don't go out there when it's cold/rainy anyway.

I don't have any lawn but I do have a balcony so I sterilize and reuse my 'potting' soil each year and grow my own tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and strawberries on my balcony. There are usually a few other veggies but those are the ones I love and always grow lots of them so I don't have to buy them during the summer.

I Christmas/birthday shop year 'round. Long before Christmas this year Walmart had a deal for iTunes cards. A 50.00 iTune card for only 25.00. PErfect gifts for my nephew. I came off as a hero and I got of CHEAP. For my mom I redesigned a cardigan I found at a thrift store for 2.00 and it came out GORGEOUS. I spent a total of 57.00 (including shipping to my mom to disperse the presents) on 6 people and they were all thrilled with their gifts, it just took creativity and time.
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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A couple years ago I started Christmas shopping in early September. Everybody thought I was weird. As nobody would tell me what they wanted (or they didn't know yet), I just got stuff I thought they would like for "little" things, and then waited for the "last minute" (I was TOTALLY done by Thanksgiving... I HATE crowds!) for the requested stuff and tried not to spend more than $20 or so.
My dad did want a miniature grandfather clock that was $40... and heck, he's taken care of me for 32 years, I figured doubling my budget was okay for that!

I live in the basement. While our house does have an extra furnace just for the basement, I still figure I shouldn't be using all the extra gas. So I shut all the vents except for in my bedroom, and put the thermostat (which is in another room) at 62... so with most of the vents shut, my room gets all the heat diverted to it, and ends up being 75 or so - but I save WAY more gas than trying to heat a whole basement I don't use (I'm only in the kitchen long enough to get food, then I go back to my room).

I also use only cold water for laundry (and I try to do it all in one day). For one thing, cold gets out stains better, AND since I use bleach (for disinfecting, especially my cat shelter outfit) it's better for that water actually degrades bleach and makes it basically useless anyway.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 06:56 PM
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Biggest money saving tip? Sell your car.
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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I agree cars can be expensive... gas, insurance, maintenance, etc.

However, I live out in the boonies with no decent public transportation. The nearest bus stop is over 2 miles away.... I can barely walk 200 feet! Being a gimp is pricey ;p LOL
I could ride my bike (which is easier on my heart and back) to the bus stop, but then there's the issue of walking home when I get back... Americans are greedy, and steal everything and everything - can't leave NOTHIN' out in public!

Last edited by Vivid Dawn; 04-08-2011 at 07:41 PM.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 07:46 PM
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I just discovered coupons.

I have a fairly good income and couldn't figure out why I was poor. I was spending more than a family of four on groceries. It's because I was a convenience shopper.

Now I live for the flyers that come in the mail. Last week I scored a 10$ when you buy $30 worth of groceries from one store, a $5 off $20 from another store and a $10 off $50 from another. Publix takes them ALL no matter what store puts them out.

The week before that I got $100 in gas gift cards for $80 based on spending $100. I have a lot of toilet paper, laundry detergent and chicken frozen now. I'll use it all up in the weeks when coupons are sparse.

The last time people tried to elimate free roaming cats it resulted in The Black Plague.
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 11:06 PM
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I've been using this excellent all purpose cleaner for years now. I got the suggestion from a cat forum from years ago that is now defunct. In 2 seperate spray bottles, fill one with 3% peroxide and the other with white vinegar. Spray surfaces with one bottle in each hand, at the same time [I was told it cleaned more effectively if the ingredients were kept seperate like that]. Works great at cleaning, disinfecting AND is perfectly safe for kitties if they happen to walk on the surface while it's still wet.
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 11:13 PM
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I just discovered coupons.
This guy was standing behind me at the grocery store when I was having a very good coupon day (lots of items on sale and a matching coupon!). He heard the clerk tell me how much I saved and he said, "I am NEVER making fun of my wife again when she's clipping her coupons."

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