I have repeatedly said that being frugal can mean something to me and something completely different to you. I used the cable television as my first example. My definition is to be very careful spending money, but not stupid. This week coupons, stocking up, and gardening are my examples.
People use coupons to purchase groceries. I rarely, if ever, use coupons. I grocery shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store. I shop the baking isle, the condiment isle, and the pasta/bean isle on the inside perimeter. Most of what I purchase does not get coupons. Other people swear by using coupons.
I am overweight, but I don’t buy packaged foods. Most coupons are for packaged foods. How did you like the way I said that? Packaged foods are different from processed foods. Ground beef is a processed food. It did not come off the steer looking like that, but Hamburger Helper is in a box with a bunch of additives. I dare you to tell me what animal or plant that came from. If I had a coupon for a free box of Hamburger Helper and purchase it, did I save any money? No, because I was never going to buy it anyway. Now if I had a coupon for a pound of ground beef free then I would be saving money.
The thing is to be a smart shopper. Be aware of what things cost. Pay attention to what is in your food. I purchased a bottle of lemon juice. The bottle states 100% real Lemon juice from concentrate. This would mean the only ingredient would be lemon juice right? Nope. It had a about 5 different ingredients for 100% lemon juice. I bought this bottle quite a while ago. I am nearly out of it and won’t be buying it again. The next time I need lemon juice I will buy a bunch of lemons and freeze the left over juice. This is being frugal with an eye on our health.
Each person has their own ideas and budgets for things like groceries. My budget is on the low end. I pay $160 every two weeks. This includes dog food, cat food, bird food, kitty litter, any personal products, and cleaning products that I buy. I don’t have a lot of room for extras or treats.
I start my grocery shopping by planning meals for two weeks. I make a list and organize by category and not by grocery isles. I do this because I shop at 3 stores. I then check the weekly ads for Publix and Winn Dixie. This past week the buy one get ones (bogos) at Publix were great. I got 8 o’clock coffee buy one get one and two 2 liters of diet Pepsi free. The Pepsi was on sale bogo and my husband had gotten a coupon for a free 2 liter. So free it was. Made Chris happy! This weeks specials that start today have nothing I will use so I won’t bother with them. You have to be careful even with bogos. Something will seem like an awesome price and yet you may be able to get it for a lesser amount. That has happened to me before. I could have just kicked myself.
I shop biweekly for groceries and pick up a few odds and ends on the odd week that we don’t go. Recently I have convinced my husband that we need to stock up. We are attempting to get up a years supply of groceries to draw from. This way we can purchase on sale items as we deplete them rather than as my grocery list says. This will also cut down on those spur of the moment purchases that we don’t need.
My husband and I have a different definition of stocking up. He considers this is just for meals while I consider it everything that can be stocked up on. This will include a small freezer for meats and veggies. This will be worked out eventually.
We also have a small garden. Living in Central Florida lets us grow tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower right now. I usually grow a few containers of lettuce and some herbs. We haven’t grown enough to stock up on, but enough to cook with and eat. This summer when all you northerners are proud of your garden we will have none as the weather will be way to hot.
The big warehouse stores can be an awesome way to save money or spend more. It really depends on what you buy and is it really a great deal. Two of my daughters have Costco memberships and one has a Sam’s membership. My husband and I have visited both stores and they really do have some great deals on some of the things I buy. They can be more expensive too. We do not have a card because my husband doesn’t think it would save us money with the membership fee. I have shopped both stores with my daughters and know it would. Until my husband is convinced we keep shopping with the girls every so often.
I don’t use coupons because it does not cut my budget or help, but there are those of you who are extreme couponers and love it. We garden to help our budget, but there are those of you who don’t like gardening or have no space so to even buy the seeds for a garden would be a waste of money. Some of you already stock up by canning or purchasing your food cheaply. Others of you don’t have the space or the desire to stock up. The huge warehouse clubs may be just the perfect thing for you or they may just be a place that doesn’t save you anything or not enough to purchase the membership card. Each of these things equal differences in frugality. There is no right or wrong, just choices that we make. The key is to make the best most frugal choice for you and your family.