Thursday, April 11, 2013

15 Basic Tips To Practical Living, Part I

  All throughout my childhood my family and I had to learn how to live frugally with only the bare necessities. While it sucked growing up that way, I can look back and be thankful for having that experience and overall know-how.

  Now that I'm married, we have been blessed with everything we need.  However there are still times where the budget is tight and that is when my frugal instincts kick in!  A lot of the lessons I learned growing up are very helpful to apply now that I truly need to live more practically than ever.  It's tricky learning to adapt and adjust to a lifestyle that lives on the bare necessities together, but we've been making it work.  I wanted to share some of the tips we follow that help us in hopes that it will provide some wise advise for those who are in similar boats!  I also hope it provides wise advise and insights to those who have yet to cross this bridge!

Here they are...

15 Basic Tips To Practical Living

With Food...

15. Plan Meals

Plan meals for the week
  As simple as it sounds (or maybe as irritating) it truly helps to have an idea of how you are going to use the edible resources you have.  Often times if you aren't careful, you'll find you've made too much of something, save it, never eat it, leave it out, ultimately throw it away.  Other times, you'll complain about how you've got nothing to eat in the house and go out to buy more of what you want when in reality you have enough food already.  If you can plan meals in advance, it helps you to know what food you have ready in your house for consumption as well as know what you need to get from the store when you go.  Don't take for granted the beans you may have in your cabinet or the spices - you never know how you can use them!

  A website that we have found very helpful is  My Fridge Food is a website that allows you to check off a list of everything you have in your kitchen.  After you check off that list, the website will find hundreds of easy recipes you can make with whatever you have.  It's been very helpful.  Try to plan at least two weeks in advance for how much you'll be making for you and/or your family.

14.  Places and Times To Shop

  Often times we think Wal Mart is THE cheapest and most convenient store you can find!  While in ways that's true, don't take for granted the other options available to us!  One of the stores we shop at regularly for food is a store called Aldi.  Aldi is a chain that takes canned/bagged/other food that have dented cans, deformed bags, etc. that people look over in stores like Wal Mart.  There's nothing wrong with the food (otherwise they wouldn't be allowed to stay in business) it's just not physically appealing to customers in the bigger name stores.  When this food comes to Aldi, they discount it's prices up 75%!  When you can get a pack of meat at Wal Mart for $3-$4, you can get it from Aldi for $1.50-$2.  There is no shame in shopping somewhere that you can afford.  Be aware, though, sometimes you can get a thing or two cheaper from Wal Mart than you can at Aldi.  Be on the lookout!  Once you're done at Aldi, whatever else you need, I recommend Wal Mart as the second cheapest place to shop for groceries as well as basic necessities.

Wal Mart
  I recommend picking one or two days out of the month to go out and stock up.  I usually go within the first five days of the month, and if it's needed, I go two weekends later just to get a few things.  Make sure that you're getting the bargains in whatever you get; this way you can stock up easily and not worry about getting food again until the next month.

    Seriously stick to your grocery list!  We all know that we mean to go into the store with a list of 5 things.. and come out with 50... I've done it too!  Soooo many times!  No shame.  But it is a problem.  Something I've adapted to (while still hard, it's possible) is writing down or memorizing which isles you will find each grocery.  Go in and make bee lines for these isles to get exactly what you need - don't look around. You can do it!

13.  How Big Is Your Meal?

Portion Control
  Don't plan meals according to how much you want to eat, but how much you need to eat to survive.  Key tip: if your entire meal is bigger than your fist, it's too big.  You only need enough food to fill up your stomach.  If you practice only having portion sized meals, you save a lot by not having to buy as much food and not having to buy food so often.

12.  Eating Out

Ask for half your meal to be
put in a to go box
  I don't put down the idea of eating out on occasion.  I do not agree with eating fast food when 'you don't have any food' or when you want to eat it because 'it's cheap" - worst excuses ever, don't even try.  If you have enough money to eat out regularly, you shouldn't complain about not having food in your house.  However, I do think it's important to get out of the house a time or two each month, especially if you are married.  There is nothing wrong with putting aside a few dollars to go on a nice dinner date.  The cool thing is: you can still save money while you're eating out at a restaurant!  By this, I don't mean that you can get a salad and a soup and starve the rest of the night (you can, that's fine!)  When you order your meal, ask your waiter/waitress to give you half of what you would normally receive on a plate and the other half in a to-go box.  They may or may not be a little confused... but the customer is always right and they will do so for you :) I know by experience!  This way you are paying for two meals instead of just one, and besides - the size of each meal you have is the appropriate size for you stomach like I talked about before ;)

For Gas...

11.  Gas Station

Murphy USA
  One of the things I recommend doing for gas is purchasing a Wal Mart Gas Card and use Wal Mart's gas station, Murphy USA.  Why, you ask?  When you purchase a Wal Mart gas card, you get 10 (ten) cents off each gallon!  On top of that, Murphy USA is typically cheaper gas than most gas stations.  Let's say the average gas station right off the highway right now has gas at $3.50.  Murphy's will usually be about 4 cents cheaper than that ($3.46) plus a gas card from Wal Mart and you pay $3.36 per gallon - on average, 16 cents cheaper than the average highway gas station!  The argument may be something like: "well that makes you travel farther, you're still spending the same amount of money..." Well... true.. unless you're not only going out for gas ;)  The convenient thing about Murphy's gas station is that it's right in front of or right beside Wal Mart.  This brings me to my next tip...

10.  Gas When You Shop

Get gas when you shop
  Whenever you go to Wal Mart (which you can consider going to after Aldi every two weeks or so) buy a gas card in the store before leaving the register and get gas only when you go out for groceries.  Using the gas card, you save money still and you don't spend unnecessary money to get gas every single time you go out or run out.  Just get gas when you're at Wal Mart!  Usually what we do is get a full tank at the beginning of the month when we go shopping at Wal Mart, then in two weeks if we need anything from the store, we'll put a few extra dollars in if we need to.  This usually lasts us the whole month and into the next month.


9.  Save 'Em!

Save your receipts, or just the
amount on them
  After every outing you take for the necessities (groceries and gas) save the receipts you have and add the amount up for each month.  Well, at least copy down the price you paid of each receipt then throw it away.  But regardless, this will give you a clue of how much you will be spending the next month so you know how much to put to the side.  Trust me, this makes life a tad bit easier!

Well this wraps up the first seven tips of my practical living blog posts!  Keep a look out next week for my second part of practical living, numbers 1-8!  I hope this helps!  Also, let me know in the comments section if there are any tips you want to share with the rest of us, I know we have some pretty clever and creative people out there ;)

1 comment:

  1. While I love that you're sharing frugal living strategies, I do very much have a problem with number 13. It is entire inaccurate from a medical standpoint. You should never limit your food intake per meal to the size of your fist if you are only eating 3 meals a day. I think you are confusing this with the size of a SERVING of food. A serving of a grain (pasta, rice, etc.) should be the about size of your fist, meat about the size of a deck of cards, and fruit/vegetables about half a cup. The capacity of your stomach when it is empty is only about a quarter of a cup (much smaller than your fist), and the folds in it (called rugae) allow it to expand significantly without stretching. Only eating a fist sized meal 3 times a day will most likely lead to nutrient depletion and insufficient caloric intake, causing some processes in your body to start to shut down.


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