Friday, February 20, 2009

Because of the Economy…

Many people are out of work or have been demoted, or have lost some compensation for their work because of the economy. I know many people personally that are in these situations. Times are tough, money is tight and people and struggling. I just had a friend ask me for some tips on cutting her budget to help things out. I have always been frugal, even when I was young and not spending my own money. I wanted to get the best deals on everything. Now, that I’m an adult (well, sort of) and am raising my own family and spending my own money I have learned a few tricks here and there to cut costs. It is here that I will list a few tips that have helped my family to stay financially sound during these tough times because of the economy.

Grow a Garden
Growing a garden is actually quite simple. Start with basic produce items that your family will eat regularly. You can grow almost anything in Az if you plant it at the right time. You basically have to ignore all of the ‘outside of AZ’ gardening authors. My favorite gardening author is Dave Owens the Garden Guy. His most helpful book is Extreme Gardening. His insights work because he lives here in Phoenix.

Having produce straight from the garden, not only saves money, but it is the best damn produce you’ll ever eat. Gardening also develops a sense of pride and ownership and brings you down to earth (literally). It is a very humbling and satisfying experience to grow and eat and can your own food.

Save Money
I know this sounds stupid, but it helps. I have family right now that is completely out of work. Because they had an emergency savings, they are doing fine. They are not worried, and are able to continually care for their family without too much stress or strain.
I personally have several savings accounts. Ryan takes care of long term savings because, honestly, I’m not interested in that and have never been good at it. I save for Christmas, and Household Projects and Vacations. Each year I pick a project to work on and have the money readily available. Each Christmas I am not worried about straining our finances because that money is already there to spend. I could start Christmas shopping now if I wanted to as I already have some money in savings. Another benefit to these odd savings accounts is that if I need them for something else, like groceries if Ryan lost his job, I could use it.

Create a Food Storage
We have a three month food supply and some other basics. Food storage is not only for natural disasters. If my family was out of work, I know that I can get by for at least three months with my food storage (and garden) and be just fine. That is so comforting. In fact, with the flu traveling through my home I have not been to a grocery store in about three weeks. Ryan went to Guadalupe Farmer’s market for fruit once and I went to Sunflower to buy diapers and medicine for the boys and that’s it. And the diapers weren’t necessary at all. We used our food storage for all of our meals while we were ill. Our freezer was stocked full of chicken, beef, and sausage and our cupboards were full of canned goods for recipes that we make often. It was nice not to have to worry about when or how I was going to get to the store.

Shop Smart
When I buy groceries I do several things beforehand. I shop the ad and look for the best deals. Then I get out my recipes and compare them to my ad. I create a two week menu and then I shop at the store. While there I also pick up any items that we use on a regular basis that are on sale. These items go into my food storage. I always know that I have purchased my canned goods, frozen meats and toiletries and household cleaning products at the cheapest price possible. That makes me feel good. I like knowing that when I wipe my bum I’m only spending .003 instead of .03 or whatever the math really is.
I also shop at Robin's Nest Ministry. This store is on the corner of University and Hardy. The goods for this store are purchased in bulk from local grocery stores. The items are generally just expired, dented or squished. Frankly I don't care. If I eat rice crackers that are one week old but I paid $1 instead of $4, then I'm ecstatic. We buy lots of canned goods and cereal here. As more stores pick up organic and whole foods items we get to purchase better and better products at amazing pricesat Robin's Nest. Sometimes I find soy flours, gluten free baking mixes and organic sugarfree goodies for my kids. The proceeds from the purchases go towards a church too. We also shop for buns here to feed the ducks. They are super cheap at $.10 a bag.

When shopping for clothing I have a few rules I’ve made for myself. I never buy anything that’s not on sale. Although there are a few exceptions to this one. If it’s for me and it has a specific purpose, I will buy it full price. But for the most part I stick to this rule. Secondhand shopping is a must if you have children. Clothing can take up a huge amount of cash and be quite burdensome on one’s budget. I enjoy Goodwill. Every day at goodwill is a sale day. Each day there is one tag and one week number that is on sale. If you donate items ask for a receipt. This receipt has a 20% off coupon on it and is good for any purchase over ten dollars. I almost always have something I can bring with me to donate to Goodwill. Thursday is dollar day, where one colored tag is one stinking whole dollar. This is a great day when shopping for adult clothes. You can really find some good steals. Every other Saturday is their 50% off the entire store sale.

Goodwill has honestly spoiled me. This past year has been really difficult shopping for me. Since Justin now has timelines for when he needs certain articles of clothing for school I’ve had to venture outside of Goodwill more than I normally do. That has been difficult. As I’m at Old Navy looking at a pair of jeans that are $8 all I can think is, this is worth eight jeans at Goodwill. To avoid the sorrow of shopping sales elsewhere I try to shop ahead of the season.

This is what $30.00 buys you at Goodwill.

I just recently shopped at Goodwill to buy for next year for Justin. I spent a total of thirty dollars and this is what I purchased: 3 shirts for Tyler, one diaper bag for me, (the rest is all for Justin) 5 shirts, 1 pair of jeans, 1 sweater, 2 hoodies, 5 pairs of shorts and a pair of shoes. That is six complete outfits including sweaters and shoes (but minus underwear and socks) just for Justin alone. That’s a good deal. I bought Gap, Wrangler’s, Levi’s, various Target Brands including Genuine Kids and Mossimo, Osh Kosh, Billabong, and Old Navy. Good brands if you ask me. And this stuff is gently used too. I have people ask me all of the time where I find cute clothes for myself and my boys. In fact Jaylee’s favorite phrase seems to be, “Where did you get that? If you say it was $2.00 and you bought it at Goodwill, I’m gonna’ scream.” I love it. That’s how it should be. We don’t need to spend a lot of money when we can buy the same stuff cheaper elsewhere. Plus we get the satisfaction of sticking it to the man!


  1. I just want you to know that I made a spreadsheet, visited five stores to compare prices and have already cut my grocery bill in HALF with minimal effort. I'm pumped.

  2. Mairi,you're funny... what part of your research was done with minimal effort? My head started spinning at "spreadsheet".

    All good tips A! I still think you get lucky at Good Will. I have NO patience for that store.

  3. The spreadsheet was the easy part. The hard part was all the Trader Joe's employees with their feathers all ruffled because they thought I was a competitor with my notebook and calculator.

  4. I am always jealous of your clothes you wear and I don't even ask where you get because I already know you got is at Goodwill and I just secretly stay jealous. lol