Today I am watching the PBS documentary “Affluenza”. It was produced in 1997 and is probably more relevant today than it was at its release.
A family of four eating on $100 a week for a month I believe. I agree with a lot of what Amandasaid. The woman in the story is spoiled and it shows. She also knows this is an “experiment” not a way of life. I had to wonder what their normal diet is like when I read “By midweek, we were all a little sick of rice and potatoes. By the end of the week, I never wanted to see another raisin, carrot, pretzel or piece of puffed rice again. ” Seriously? What kind of snacks do they normally have? It seemed odd to me. The article is worth reading at least for the “welcome to the real world” factor. Nothing ground breaking or even inspiring to me, but it did make me giggle.
Frugality, it is sweeping the nation like some sort of wave or something. I laughed when I heard this on NPR yesterday. Featured on the Your Money segment was Natalie McNeal, who’s blog is The Frugalista Flies: The frugal side of fabulous. I haven’t really checked it out. I am not, and really have no pretensions to being, “fabulous”. Since I don’t do manicures or club-nights to start with I am not about to give them up. But I still love the idea of the blog. Especially for single women I think there is a lot of pressure to be “in” and to have and do all those things that everyone else is doing.
One thing Natalie said yesterday was that letting your family and friends know you are tightening the budget will help you stay on the wagon. It is true. In fact I will go one further and say, “Your girlfirends are probably shuddering over their Visa statements too. If you say, ‘Hey, I am cutting back on spending let’s go to the free concert in the park instead of the club this weekend?’ you might find them grateful.”
One other thing she mentioned was acountablity and how blogging about her budgetting adventures helped her stay on track. I completely agree with that, which is one reason I started my 40 Trash Bag Challenge. Just knowing that people who read my blog will see the progress (or lack there of) with my de-cluttering efforts is a huge incentive to keep going with it.
As you probably know the price of food has been on the rise. The USDA is projecting a 5% possible rise in at home food costs. This is of course hitting at a time where many families are already stretched as far as they can go. So, how do you save money on food.
First off quit eating out. Basic, simple, good for your bottom line and your waistline. Eating out, especially eating fast food, is horrible for your family’s health. Eating out is terrible for you and worse for your children. High in fat, high in sugar, large portions and low nutritional value is the norm in fast food and most restaurant food. All that together means that stopping through the drive-through or calling for pizza should be a rare treat.
Reduce the amount of prepared foodyou purchase. Convenience foods are convenient, but they cost much more per serving and are lower in nutrition than the home-made counterpart. With the possible exceptions of ramon noodles and cheep boxed mac-n-cheese they cost more. But when you start looking at nutritional value added in then the cost is not offset. Things like cookies, crackers, chips, boxed meals, TV dinners, cake mixes are more costly than the made-from scratch versions and are higher in fat, sugar and preservatives.
Control your shopping. Use a list and shop less. If you create a menu and a shopping list you can help avoid “quick” trips to the super markets to pick up “one or two things” that cost your family a bundle in time, gas, and those little impluse purchases that sneak into the cart.
Menu planning is perhapes the single most cost effective measure you can impliment. First it allows you to follow the first four points more easily and second it helps you stay within your budget while you shop. If you know what is on the menu for the rest of the week, have the needed items purchased and in your fridge and pantry, stopping by the local fast food joint is much less of a temptation. Menu planning also allows you to make the most of super market circular sales and coupons. It also allows you to avoid waste. I can’t tell you how often food has gone bad before we ate it. With a menu plan the letuce and peppers in the bottom of the fridge will not be going bad nearly as ofter. Left over nights can be scheduled in and they can be eaten before the left-overs become a bio hazzard.
Being a frugal homemaker is news worthy.
If you are anything like me the article isn’t ground breaking and is hardly even news. Though it is kind of neat to see something positive about not spending money in the news. One quote from the article “It really doesn’t matter what you make. It matters what you spend.” So very true. The illustrations of the family spending less than half the average American family on groceries and cruising yard sales for toys is fun, typical among my friends, but fun to read.
It brings to mind an article I read a while back about “green-moms” and how mind-boggling they make the old adage “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”. Thrifty living is essentially very “green” because it is based on the idea that less is more. Or as I quoted in the above article, “You want to save the earth? Here’s a little hint. Don’t. Buy. Shit.”
I will make a little online confession here. I love money. I love to play with it, make budgets, see how far I can stretch some amount. I really do enjoy money management and budgeting. Yes, I know that makes me a part of a tiny minority, but I it isn’t something I apologize for because it serves my family so well. I haven’t always been this way. When I was younger I couldn’t spend my money fast enough. But I have learned a lot since then and the skills I learned I am trying to pass on to my children.