Category Archive: Frugality

Printable Grocery Price Book

We use a grocery price book to monitor the fluctuating prices of groceries at our local supermarkets.  When specific items go down in price, we purchase those items in quantity.  The grocery price book helps us know when to purchase – and when to wait.

I have created a printable grocery price book for my readers.  It’s the same, simple-to-use price book that we have been using for years to save money on groceries.

Click to download and print the free printable grocery price book.

The grocery price book is very simple-to-use.

When printed out, the price book is designed to fold in half – to create a “book”.

Print a copy on both sides of a sheet of paper and you will then have four “pages” of the “book”.  Punch holes in the middle and you can put the pages in a notebook to take with you to the grocery store.  That’s what I do.

You could also simply use the spreadsheet as a spreadsheet and track prices on your laptop or tablet.

Here’s what a page from the grocery price book looks like -

Printable Grocery Price Book example page

We tracked the price of canned corn for several weeks.  When the price dipped, we purchased our desired quantity.

Using the price book for several years, I have noticed that prices have certainly gone up over time, but items still tend to go on sale in patterns.  We use coupons and the grocery price book to save a considerable amount of money on groceries.

The grocery price book is designed to work across several stores – and can be modified for your shopping habits.  For instance, you may want to track not only a type of product, like canned corn, but specific brands of canned corn.  That’s cool.  Simply create a “page” for each brand you want to track.  Personally, we usually buy the same brands over and over, so we usually just track the ones we use.

Remember, when using a grocery price book, it’s important to check the prices of items each time you go shopping, even if you are not planning to buy those items that day.  This goes against “shopping with a grocery list only” – but the point of the grocery price book is to track prices.

One thing that has changed since we began using a grocery price book years ago – most supermarkets post their sales circulars online.  We simply go online, check the sales circulars, and update our price book.

Once again, feel free to download and print out the free printable grocery price book.

Leave comments with any questions or suggestions regarding the use of a grocery price book to save money on groceries.

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Save Money And Consume Less In The Kitchen

I love coupons, and routinely use them to save money on groceries.  However, I think that it is also important to focus on, shall we say, post-purchase frugality.

Start with smaller portions -

We are a family of five, with three children.  Often, our kids will put more on their plates than they can actually eat.  Start them off with a smaller portion and then allow for seconds.  This also works for me in my efforts to lose weight.  We will often find that we can cook once, eat, and have plenty for another meal.

Use paper towels sparingly -

Instead of using paper towels for every kitchen clean up, we have a small stack of cloth dish towels.  After meals, we can use them to wipe down kitchen counter tops and clean up any spills.  They go into the washing machine and can be used again.

Place fruits and vegetables where kids can get to them -

I hate wasting food, especially healthy fruits and vegetables.  As soon as we get home from the grocery store or farmer’s market, we wash our fruits and vegetables, and place them on the counter or in the refrigerator, at kid-level.  This both encourages our kids to eat them and keeps them from going bad, stuck in the back of the crisper.

Reuse grocery-store bags -

It’s almost inevitable, we are going to end up with plastic bags from the grocery store.  We use them as trash bags in our various trash cans – and I use them in my shop to store old towels and wood scraps.

Be smart with cleansers -

Whether you are are using DIY cleansers or store-bought, use the smallest amount necessary to get the job done.  It’s easy just to squeeze out a big glob of dish washing detergent, when a much smaller amount would be just as effective.  The same goes for laundry detergent.

Use recipes -

Some people are born cooks.  My wife and I, we were not.  So, it’s important that we use recipes when cooking (especially foods that we are preparing for the first time).  This helps us avoid over-using ingredients – and wasting money.  Certain spices can be pricey – adding just a bit too much to a recipe can both waste the spice and ruin the dish.

Keep it clean -

My wife does an excellent job of keeping our house clean and organized.  I pitch in and so do the kids, but it’s her system.  When the kitchen is clean, we are more apt to put items away, wash the dishes, and keep things organized.  This makes things easier to find, which leads to less food-spoilage and less buying of unnecessary items at the store.

Put a lid on it -

With kids, it’s easy for them to fix a soda, walk off, and leave the lid to the soda bottle laying on the counter.  This is also true for peanut butter, pickles, jelly, etc.  So, we teach our kids, very early on, to put a lid on it.  This also goes for left-overs, to prevent spoilage.

These are just a few of the things that we do to save money and consume less in the kitchen.  I’d love to hear your tips in the comments.  Be sure to follow via twitter.com/NCN.  Be blessed.

 

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See Your Life And Save Money

A few weeks ago, two huge trees were removed from the property directly behind our house.  The trees were massive oaks, 100+ years old.  Unfortunately, both were diseased and had to come down.

After the trees were felled, I noticed something.  Right next to both trees, “hidden” in plain sight, were four smaller trees – all ready to leaf-out for Spring.

We tend to focus on the “oaks” in our lives – our jobs, our paychecks, our rent payments – but it is important that we also learn to see the “other trees” that impact our personal finances.  We need to open our eyes to the many opportunities to save money and improve our lives.

Take an honest evaluation of current financial situation.  This one is huge.  I can still remember the day, back in 2005, when I sat down and “got real” about my finances.  Broke, with no savings, in debt, and frustrated, I decided to change my life.  It was important that I not only take a look at balances and payments – but interest rates, opportunities to transfer balances, and debt reduction strategies.  I was no longer satisfied with making minimum payments and “getting by”.  I took of my blinders, saw what was really going on, and made some big time changes.  We learned to save money and reduce our debt.

Walk around the house like a visitor.  This really does work.  Look at what you have – the stuff in your house – and see it like a visitor would see it.  For my wife and I, if it doesn’t add value to our lives (value as determined by us) – it’s gone.  We sell it, trash it, or give it away.  We refuse to allow stuff to dominate our lives – financially or in terms of actual “comfort” in our homes.  For us, less is MUCH more.  It’s easy to “walk right around” the stuff in our lives, ignoring the obvious.  If we don’t need it and don’t use it – we get rid of it.

Repair and maintain household items. Do not ignore small problems.  Our shower has a hand-held shower hose.  A few months ago, I noticed that the holder – the little hook that keeps the hand-held off of the shower floor – was pulling away from the shower wall.  Rather than ignore it, I went to the store, spent less than $10, and replaced the holder.  This took me less than 30 minutes.  Take the time to repair and maintain the items you already own.  Check filters, re-caulk, change the oil, replace batteries.  All of these things make for a safer – and more financially sound – home.

Go outside and consider new ways to use the space you already have.  We have a rather large flower-bed in our front yard.  I have been considering adding some shrubs to the bed, to make it look nicer.  A few days ago, however, instead of adding new shrubs (and spending the money to do so) – I removed the edging from around the bed – and decreased its size by about 50%.  The net effect:  I increased the usable space in the yard, saved money on landscaping, and actually made the bed look nicer.  You may have space for a garden, a few chickens, some fruit trees, a nice spot for the kids to play, an area for an outdoor swing, or room for a picnic table.  (I recently built a picnic table for our back-porch.  It’s big, seats our whole family, and cost much less than patio furniture.)  See the potential in what you already have.

It’s super easy to overlook the obvious.  Those trees have been near our property line for years – but I am just now really seeing them.  Take a fresh look at your finances and your stuff and see if you find several ways to save money – and improve your life.

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Save Money When Eating Out

My wife and I have 3 kids.  We prefer to feed them home-cooked meals, but there are times when it’s fun and/or convenient to eat out.  Here are a few ways that we have learned to save money when eating out – with kids!

Budget for eating out.

This is critical.  Folks often underestimate how much they are going to spend on eating out – and run into problems at the end of the month.  If you are going to eat out – you gotta budget for it.

Order an entree – and ask for an extra, empty plate.

Instead of ordering from the kids’ menu – which usually has a limited selection – order a regular entree and have two kids share it.

Use a coupon.

Coupons are cool, now, right?  Cool or not, they help us save money, even at restaurants.

Research discounts.

Some places have “kids eat free” night or have special offers, depending on the time of day you eat.  When our kids were smaller, we would eat dinner rather early, and benefited from early-bird specials.  (We are totally going to rock as retirees.)

Drink water.

Skip the soda and tea and stick with good old water.  It’s healthier and – usually – it’s free.

Do your own thing.

When eating out with other families, it can be tempting to “go with the flow”.  Stick to your game plan.

Skip the bun.

If you are looking for a low-carb option and can’t find one on the menu, ask for a burger or grilled chicken sandwich without a bun.  In many restaurants, you’ll get your low-carb fix – and they will charge you less than the cost of the regular sandwich.  Just ask.

Learn to love the humble side salad.

In many chain-restaurants, the side salad comes in a huge bowl.  Elaine would be proud!  My kids and I love salad – and we are often full after eating just a side salad.

Do a little combo vs no-combo math.

This one is a bit nerdy, but it’s worth doing, especially if you routinely eat at the same fast food places.  Take a few minutes and calculate whether buying the combo is a better deal than not buying the combo.  In some circumstance, it’s actually cheaper to order items individually – especially if you are drinking water (and avoiding fries!).

Skip dessert.

I love sweets, but I have learned to avoid them.  I’ve read several articles on the Internet (and if it’s on the Internet, it has to be true…) that it takes several minutes before your brain realizes that your stomach is full.  Eat slowly, enjoy each bite, talk to the kids, and allow your brain and stomach to communicate.  With kids, it’s important to decide before sitting down whether dessert is an option.  (I’m not a fan of using food as “reward” – especially rewarding a “clean plate” with dessert.  Food is fuel – awesome tasting fuel – but fuel.)

Check your bill.

Make sure that you are paying for what you actually ordered.  This is also a good time to talk real life finances with your kids!

Eating out doesn’t have to break the bank.  With just a little planning and smart ordering, we have learned to save money when eating out with our kids – and you can too!

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