Frugal Cuts To The Budget

People may think frugal cuts to the budget may one day come to a close but I say bunk! There is never a shortage of ways to find stuff you can cut out of your budget. Ever. As long as there are new and inventive ways being discovered daily on how to separate you from your money, we can equally fight back and cut, cut, cut.

First you have to look over your expenditures and be totally honest with yourself. So, here’s my true confession: I’m a food hoarder. There! I’ve said it. Despite being a minimalist almost every where else in my life, I can’t stop buying and hoarding food. I know it’s due to my two lifetime bouts of being totally and completely broke. I vowed to myself, in true Scarlett O’Hara-Gone With The Wind fashion that “As God is My Witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” I need to get a grip on my food spending.

as God is my witness
Once you go through it, its very hard to get over food insecurity.

I spend entirely too much money on food. I store food in every which way: pantry shelf life, canned style, fresh and frozen. My pantry, fridge and freezer are so packed that sometimes I have difficulty closing the doors. I tend to stock every single thing I could ever think of eating. From American to Italian, to Greek, to Mexican to Asian…..if I get a nudge for any type of food longing, you can bet I’ve got it covered. And in stock!

It’s a frightening thing not to have adequate food available to feed yourself or your family. I don’t wish that horror on anyone. It’s also extremely embarrassing to go to a food pantry and yet, when need be, we do it and are grateful for the blessing.

I play games with my budget. If I see I am spending too much money on food in one month, I carry over the remaining expenditures into the next month. And so on and so on. On average I spend about $490 on food for two people. There’s no doubt that my husband and I eat very well. We try to have a fresh salad each and every day, pan-seared sustainable salmon once a week, locally raised-hormone free chickens a few times per week as well as The Meatless Monday cuisine. All that costs money.

My month of April food spending finally caught up with me. I did my usual trick of forwarding my food expenditures over to May but by May 3rd, I totaled up what I spent and the amount came in at a whopping $769. Yes folks. I spent $769 on my April food bill budget. Granted, yes it was Easter and Palm Sunday and guests came two weekends in a row and of course I have to show everyone what a fantastic cook and provider I am……not good.

That was April. Now its May and I’m still bursting at the seams:

bursting pantry
Bring on the hurricanes. I’m ready for anything!
bursting freezer
I can barely keep my freezer door shut. It keeps popping open.

#1. So, first thing on my frugal cuts to the budget is to STOP BUYING FOOD! I need to start eating out of my pantry and fridge! Pronto! I should only need to buy milk, eggs, bread and fresh greens and veggies for a few weeks till I get my pantry reorganized. Yo, Cindi! You have money in the bank now. If you run out of food, you can go to the store and buy it! Yikes. I’ve limited our food budget to $400 a month. $100 a week is more than enough for the two of us. Savings minimal at least $1080 for the year.

#2. I’ve also completely stopped eating my meals out. Last one was a few weeks ago with two of our very dear friends. I didn’t want to have lunch out but there was no way around it. These things do happen. So, I just ordered a simple chicken salad sandwich @$8.00. When we got the bill, our meal out for hubs and I, complete with tip came to $39. Gulp! How does that happen? Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s over and done with. Savings of at least $1200 for the year.

9982B53E-C11E-4ABF-9208-24F154DB45BF
It started off @$8 each sandwich, but then there’s the side salad, french fries, coffee, cheesecake. Total lunch for two, with tip: $40 bucks. OUCH!

We’re going to be RVing this summer. We need to channel our money towards the rising gas prices if we want to go anywhere. That means ‘no more meals out’. Period. (Unless it’s a fish shack. Then all bets are off!)

#3. I finally cut our cable/satellite bill in half. From $63 to $33 a month! Since we live in the mountains, we can not get TV coverage from an antenna. We need to get our local channels, which we will under this new ‘Welcome Package’.  This new package we downsized to has about 25 cable channels (HGTV, WE, Sundance, etc.) What we don’t have anymore is (Praise God!!!) FOX NEWS, FOX BUSINESS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC……….I don’t have to listen to any more of these fake news shows anymore! Hubby had them on ALL.DAY.LONG.  They are now gone and I can dream away on my Hallmark Channel. Saving $360 for the year.

#4. Our car insurance premiums were up for renewal. I cancelled our rental car riders (we own two cars, we don’t need rentals) and made some other minor adjustments. Saving $160 per year. Hey! It’s something.

#5. I had registered to take a local watercolor class. This has always been a dream of mine. But after realizing the class was going to cost me $140 for 3 lessons and $100 in instructor’s recommended supplies, I cancelled. Yesterday, I read a nearby local library newsletter and they were offering a free watercolor class with free supplies included. I called to register but the class was closed out. I was put on a waiting list. I was Number One on the waiting list. Today they called: I made the free class. I start tomorrow. Savings $240 plus. SCORE! I already have my own supplies. I don’t think I need any thing else. But we’ll see.

#6. My lazy husband and I have been hiring a person to do our gardening and landscaping work for the last few years. And why not? Hubby was working. We had the money. Plus we were lazy. Our regular guy recently left the business to get married. We called in other yard people. The lowest quote we got to clean up the winter mess and do the first mow was $800. WTF! Hubby fixed our broken wheel barrel (which we got for free from a neighbor) for around $22 and out I went onto our 3.5 acres (only 2 acres are exposed, the rest is treed). We got back to our basics. I would go around the property with the wheel barrel, picking up twigs and downed smallish tree limbs. I worked one hour per day. It took around 2.5 days for me to do my work. Once I cleared the land, hubby came in with his John Deere tractor (which we also got for free from a relocating neighbor) and mulched/cut the grass. Voila’. The property looks spectacular. Oh, and we have three flower beds, which I easily raked out: two are under the front windows and the other one is at the front entrance to our property. Yes! I feel ashamed that we let this chore go. We still need to hire someone to remove one tree and grind up the twigs and branches but…..we’ll see. Maybe we can do this ourselves too. Savings $800 less the repair of $22=$778.

#7. Our first summer vacation this year is at the beach on the Outerbanks of North Carolina. We used to RV and stay at the KOA campgrounds at Cape Hatteras. When I logged on to reserve a week there, the least expensive spot was $106 a night X five nights= $530 (plus tax). I was able to book a site at The Cape Hatteras National Sea Shore (Federal government run) for only $17.50 a night (thanks to my Senior Citizen membership card @$20 for life!). The same five nights will only cost me $87.50. That’s a savings of $442.50. SCORE! Granted we won’t have WiFi or Cable, but really? We’re at the beach. Don’t need that stuff. Plus, its only for a week. I’m sure I’ll survive without the internet.

What’s on your budget agenda that can be cut? Take a breathe and give it a whirl. Just like grandma used to say “There’s always something.” Indeed, there is. Indeed there is. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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29 comments

  1. I am glad you are happy with your plans. Did Easter monies include the bike you bought your grandchild? I remember you had to get new tires. They are always expensive, but much needed.

    We mow our own grass. We share the tractor mower with our son who lives across the street. We each have an acre of land. Several trees came down last winter. We are slowly cutting them. Our village comes by once a month and shreds sticks and small branches. It is a service that is included in our village taxes. I slowly buy mulch for putting in the flower beds and walking paths. My latest chore will be to go dig up garlic mustard that is appearing in the beds. By mulching I keep the weeds down. Radish, leaf lettuce, green beans, and cucumbers seeds are planted to supplement our summer food. Rhubarb and black raspberries keep coming back each year. Today I will go get tomato and pepper plants. I believe it is a sin in the Midwest not to grown your own tomato plants. It is so easy.

    All this work is part of our exercise routine. Plus that sunshine makes us feel better. We get tired but we do not need to go find entertainment, as we are entertained by our labor.

    I probably have enough food on hand for 20 meals. My refrigerator is not large. The freezer is adequate and I do not have a second freezer. I have found I do not need it. One pound of hamburger can make four meals if I make spaghetti sauce with a half a pound and chili with the second half. I count my calories with My Fitness Pal on my phone. That limits my choices and the my food amounts. I try to have a salad with tomatoes once a day. I love homemade pancakes. A baked potato is a wonderful meal. Eating the same thing twice in row does not bother us.

    I hope your austerity works and that you enjoy doing it. May brings our property tax bill and we will want to take two trips up north to the cabin. We have a Christmas savings at our local credit union and we did not pay into it in April. That means we will want to put in double that amount in May. May always bring gardening costs.

    Enjoy the spring weather!

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    • Hi Sue. I included the bike purchase under misc/homegoods, since I very rarely buy gifts (so no category for gifts). The tires went under maintenance and I was able to get a 6 month zero interest loan, which I will pay $122 over 5 months so there are no errors.
      Your system sounds divine. I tried growing veggies here but the insects got the better of it. With all the farms around us, I really have no need to grow my own. You’d be amazed at what I can get sometimes at a local farmer’s bin for only a dollar or so.
      You are very, very fortunate that your village provides that tree service. We live in a town and we get practically nothing for our tax money.
      I enjoy being frugal. It can be fun at times. Lots of free concerts coming up this summer. My only concern is cutting back on my food purchases. That’s gonna be tough. But I’ll take it one day at a time and see how it goes.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  2. I love this post. You are so right. There are always cuts that can be made. We just switched from AT&T to Ting for my cell phone. I hate technology and usually just pay what is asked, to avoid having to deal with any changes. But when AT&T raised from $50 to $60 a month, I was done with them. I’m not a teenager, I don’t need every bell and whistle. My new Ting bill will be about $20 a month and I have credits to spend down first.

    We are now trying to figure out how to add husband’s flip phone onto Ting also.

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  3. Hi Cindi,

    When I was married, it was nearly impossible to follow a budget. My ex-husband was manic-depressive and when he was in his manic cycles (which could last for weeks) he would start multiple projects around the house which gave him an outlet for his energy and an excuse to spend, spend, spend. We had multiples of every tool you can imagine because he could never find the one he wanted in the garage so he would just buy another one. This included power tools. He didn’t just buy tools. He purchased anything and always bought in quantity. Our house was stuffed to the rafters and our credit cards were constantly at their limits. We argued non-stop. He refused treatment for his bipolar disorder. He could find jobs that paid well but eventually he would get fired. Sometimes he would take 3-4 YEARS to find another job. All the while, I was working 50-60 hours per week, trying to stretch one dollar into ten and we had two daughters in college at the same time.

    I had always known that we would divorce one day because something had to give. I couldn’t live like that and he wanted out, too. I would pray every day, asking for an answer. Finally one came. He had met a woman 22 years younger than himself and they fell in love. His mania returned and he wanted out of the marriage as soon as possible. We divorced within 3 months and they married a few months later. That was 10 years ago and I’ve not seen him since. My daughters both completed college, they have both gotten married to wonderful men and their lives are good. They’ve cut off all communication with their Dad (my ex) by choice.

    Those years of being married taught me so much about the value of knowing one’s expenses and income. I developed a budget that I’ve adhered to for the last 10 years. It’s imperfect because life throws surprises at us but it’s a good guide. I’m retired and single and live off of two smallish pensions augmented by some side work I’m able to pick up once in a while. When I do buy something, I now buy the best that I can afford because I’d rather have quality over quantity.

    There is a certain freedom that comes with living within one’s means and preparing for the future.

    I’m so happy to have found your blog where like-minded people can share their experiences and stories. Your candor and insights are refreshing. You’re an inspiration!

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    • Thanks Lisa. And thank you for sharing your first marriage experiences.. WOW! I’ve got some first marriage experiences I would love to share too! But right now, mum’s the word. Amazing how life turns out, isn’t it? And how we learn from our early experiences which help us so much more later on in life!
      Congrats on your budget adherence and kudos on raising two wonderful daughters (I am sure!)
      I’m happy that you are here and welcome! Living within one’s means is a challenge, but together we all can make it!
      Thank you again for your kind words.

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  4. I had mentioned in an earlier post that DH and I had some debt and are paying it off. It’s a relief to know that without touching our savings, we’ll have it paid off in no time. We’ve put ourselves on a strict budget. After this years trips, we will only be visiting locally or road trips to visit family. The only exception will be my sons wedding in California next year, but we’re budgeting for that trip.
    Reading blogs like yours are a great way to get a real life perspective on retirement. At one time, I thought about returning to work part time, but to be honest, I’d only do that if things got desperate. I’m keeping my professional license active just in case.
    Otherwise, we’re cutting expenses down drastically. It’s a great feeling to have things under control.
    Great post as usual Cindi!

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    • I’m with you about paying off the debt without touching savings. And if it can get done interest free it’s a double home run.
      Your plan sounds doable.
      I’m also with you about being in control. It’s a good feeling.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  5. These are great ideas, and even if a person doesn’t ‘have to’ cut expenses, why not free up money for things that matter? By the way, I have a close girlfriend who has a ‘well stocked’ pantry, fridge and freezer. (Yours is much neater). Not sure why, because she has plenty of money for food. It looks like you could eat for a month and never go hungry. 🙂

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      • Hi Sharon. I think we have the best group on the internet here! Everyone has been so kind and participative. YOU ROCK FOLKS!!!

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    • Sharon, I’m so embarrassed. I think I went a little too far this past month. Don’t know why. It was so uncalled for.
      Anyway, working on eating out our pantry, freezer and fridge. Time for some new meat! LOL!!
      Thanks for your comment.

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      • May I just say this post has been on my mind all weekend, and ultimately has saved Joe and I $3800. You see, we were going to hire out our front yard landscaping. But between this post and a comical estimate to lay dirt and mulch and a few plants, Joe and I decided we could do it ourselves. The estimate came in at a start of $4000. Although I was saving money to put towards someone else to do our front lawn, this is absurd.
        I’m also going to remove my bathroom wall paper myself and paint. I feel empowered. 🙂 Thank you Cindi, as always, for the inspiration.

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  6. Hi Cindi, I love different types of ethnic food too. So when I am trying to clear out my pantry and freezer I like to list the meat I have and a different ethnic dish I can make from that meat that I have the ingredients in my pantry. Ground turkey or chicken. If I want wonton soup out comes my manual pasta machine make some easy noodle dough roll it into a one inch diameter log and run it through like a lasagna noodle cut into squares. Make the filling, raw ground turkey or chicken season with chopped frozen chives or scallion and soy sauce or coconut amino. Mix like you are making meatballs. Typically they add some corn starch but it’s not needed. Put about half teaspoon meat mixture in the center. Fold into triangle and then in half, lightly add water to the two opposite points for gluing the crown together. Add to boiling chicken broth and you can add some soy sauce or coconut aminos to taste at the table and scallions or chives or chopped spinach. I usually have fried brown rice as my main course or stir fry. Italian wedding soup and homemade lasagna noodle for lasagna roll up or pasta and meat sauce or meatballs. Mexican season soup with homemade oatmeal flour shells made into tacos or fajitas. Pizza with sausage seasoned ground chicken or turkey leftover meat makes great frittata or you can make your own sausage patties. Swedish meatballs. Americans Meatloaf. So you can satisfy a lot of different cravings and eat frugally. Sincerely, Lara

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    • Lara, you’re a woman after my own stomach, I mean…heart! I wish I had your energy. And time.
      BTW, NY strip steaks are on sale at Shop Rite this week @$5.99 a pound….5 pound limit.. Guess who’s going and stocking up for the summer?
      I have A LOT of bread ends in my freezer. Time to make bread crumbs and make room for the steaks. Over the summer, we like a steak or two on the BBQ. This is a very good sale as I have heard very good things about Shop Rite steaks.
      I had past today for the first time in months. I’m sick to my stomach. I can’t do carbs as I used to. Never again. I think I am going to donate most of my boxes of pasta to a food bank. I just can’t digest it anymore (plus its 41 g of carbs per 1/2 cup. Outrageous!!! Never again.

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      • Cindi, I won’t be stocking up on the steaks because I can only eat hormone steroid free beef otherwise I have severe joint inflammation like arthritis and can’t even straighten up because of the pain.
        Some pork now has hormones and steroids added too.
        My philosophy for cutting my food budget is to get more bang for my protein dollars using protein from chicken and turkey. I stock piled recently on sale $1.49 lb boneless chicken breast, $1.69 ground turkey , 99 cent turkey breast and $2.99 leg of lamb with my Xfinity gift card making them free. Ended up getting $681 dollars of groceries with the $200 gift card. Freezer and pantry is full. At least 100 meals on hand and only need to supplement with fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, and eggs. I got free vegetable seeds at the local library so I am hoping to get most of my vegetables through the summer from them. Lara

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      • Hi Lara. I just discovered seeds this spring also. I’m using them as fillers for decorative planting amongst my rock borders. Should grow up to look nice. next year I’m going to use more seed packets. They are a big cash saver.
        That’s too bad about hormone meats. for you. We’ve been having sustainable salmon once a week, plus two meatless meals, Monday and pizza Friday. Rest of the week is like yours: turkey and chicken.
        I bought 8 steaks and froze them in packs of two. We’ll probably have them once a month over the summer. I do love me a nice BBQ steak every on e in a while. NY Strip steaks are my fave!

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  7. Just because you can’t have it or want it, maybe Nick still wants some and summer potlucks pasta salad always is popular. Lara

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  8. I kept, when the kids were small, at least three months supply of canned goods for five people. I had four kids, three were boys, and could they eat! Now they are all grown and moved away, but I still keep three months canned goods supply for just me because I live in a tiny town in the boonies and the nearest grocery store is 20 miles away. I do not keep much meat except maybe canned tuna. I buy meat as I want it. We tend to have power outages, so I do not keep much in my small freezer that is in the top of my fridg, except for frozen mulberries and frozen figs, which were free from my tree, and my mom’s fig bush. I would store meat in the little freezer if we did not have so many power outages.

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    • Hi Cindy. We have a portable generator because we lose power often too. Our goal is to one day install a permanent generator but they’re very expensive. But almost mandatory.
      I can’t let go of my canned goods specifically because of our sporadic power. Easy enough to just pop open a can and have a meal.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  9. So my new frugal item is Groupon thanks to another Grandma watching my two year old Grandson at duck Pin bowling. Currently a Half hour with shoe rentals for three was costing me $25 dollars. I saw they were featuring a Summer Family Pass June first to August 26 for $99 which included three hours for up to six-on the lane and five adult named on the pass and half price shoe rental . She told me Groupon had it on for 59 dollars and there was another 20% code. Total $47 for 12 weeks of bowling! I also took advantage of Valvoline $59 synthetic oil change normally $89. Cha Ching! Lara

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    • I love bowling! But haven’t done it in years. Good inspiration, Lara. So fun.
      Good job on saving money. I heard good things about Groupon. Gotta look in to it.
      Thanks.

      Like

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