How are your Budgets?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Hound dog, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Just got to love these ever rising prices, especially food and utility prices. Not.

    Due to my ridiculously low income, I don't shop "normal". I also have to say the way I changed my shopping some approximately 3 yrs ago has literally saved my backside. But even many of these practices have shifted and evolved due to ever increasing prices.

    I should not be able to survive on my income, yet I do, and still somewhat comfortably. I'm not bragging. For the past several months as I've watched prices continue to go up, I'm as stumped as everyone else on how exactly I manage to do so. Yet I had 2 weeks laid off at the end of Dec without pay, made my house payment on time, bought food as I normally would, filled the gas tank, had plenty of presents (maybe too many) under the tree for family......and still had a whole paycheck to hold me over until I got the first check after returning to work on the 6th of Jan. Most of my co-workers were severely hurting and going without food. Yes, I helped a few of them with supper.

    When funds weren't such a huge issue I learned the couponing with sale ads trick and stocking up that way. Three years later, I still have most of that stock especially laundry soap/personal hygiene items and OTC medications. Two people don't use that much, especially the way I stock up when I find a rock bottom price or can snatch it up for free. But I don't do this much anymore, I can't afford newspapers, I also can't afford to let anything go to waste or even risk it. I do still search and print coupons off line for what sales I find if they are available.

    Now when I find a sale that has items I stock at ridiculously low prices, I stock. But I rarely buy anything else except when it is on sale this way. Dog/cat food is an exception......and I make the bulk of dog food if it is cheaper to do so. So you'll see me in the store with say 10 5lb bags of sugar on sale for 1.49 and probably nothing else in the cart unless the store has something else offered like that. I can't, even at aldi, just make a list and go buy 2 weeks of food or whatever. It would wipe my money out....IF I had enough to cover it to begin with. I don't play around when I stock either, I can't afford to as I don't know how long until the next sale that offers something this low or if something will ever be offered that low again. Most things, especially dried goods/canned goods, can be stored for ridiculously long periods of time. (regardless of best buy dates) You just need to know how to store them properly to keep air/rodents/bugs out. I've also realized that my processed food buying has dropped off dramatically. It takes up too much space and is often more expensive even on sale than buying staples for from scratch type cooking.

    I have a chest deep freeze I bought 3 yrs ago. That was a good idea that to some degree is not quite working for us. Travis and I can't go through the meat quick enough to prevent freezer burn. A little freezer burn isn't a big deal but if it's been in there long enough you're not going to cover the taste.....and it's not so great. :p That meat becomes part of the dog food so it doesn't go to waste and they certainly do not complain. But I don't like doing that. Especially when I've finally made it through the top 2 layers of meat in there and discovered they will have a LOT of meat for dog food in the bottom layer that has been there for quite some time....don't ask. How did that happen? I buy meat the way I buy everything else. It being the most expensive thing I buy food wise, if I find it really cheap I buy as much as I can. Well, it has to go somewhere...... And the freezer doesn't always get rotated as well as it should. Hence the bottom layer of dog food meat. I can't afford that. So I've been busy working through the meat to empty it. Once that is done I'll either sell the freezer or swap out Nichole for her smaller version of mine. (she needs the larger version) I do like to have it to keep the meat in because I do tend to buy in bulk if it's cheap enough and it usually doesn't fit into the frig freezer....and with working I don't always have time to can it right away. If Fred was still with us, this never would have been an issue. But Travis and I can only eat so much.

    If I didn't have my stored food........we would not be eating. Or we would be barely eating. It is the only thing allowing me to shop this way. Buy searching ads (I go online to local stores for ads) to find the absolute lowest price....and hopefully a ridiculously low price on something I stock....I can replenish and add to my stored supplies (it's not just food) as we use it. It lets me do the 10 bags of sugar and nothing else without worrying what we will need to get to the next pay check. If there are no super low prices and I don't absolutely need something, I hold on to the money and refuse to spend it. There have been times I've done this for 3-4 wks at a shot. We used my stored shelf stable milk for more than a month because milk prices jumped (lord only knows why) and I couldn't get to aldi's. Didn't put a dent into it either, but I replaced what I used once dollar tree stocked it again.

    Utilities may be the thing that drags us under. I can only do so much in this dept and I'm searching for new ways to keep the bills down. Not sure what that would be and this cold snowy winter is not helping. I've got black out curtains up to keep out the cold, new weather stripping on the outside doors. That didn't do much for the front door as it's hung wonky or something and there is still a gap. That? I fill with folded up newspaper. Hey, it works. lol Lights are rarely used. Heat is down to 64 most of the time unless it is frigid or really windy. I already catch any water from just running down drains. We eliminated tv service. Our "normal" light bill is 100.00, this last bill jumped to 250.00!!! (no way I can afford that, so I've got to figure something out) Our gas company is still messed up in it's billing issues for the county. I just got Sept bill. omg

    A tank of gas lasts me 2 weeks if I refuse to drive other than necessary which 90 percent of the time is what I do.

    Cigarettes just jumped again.......and now I'm looking into e cigs to cut that cost down as much as possible. One I have my eye on would average .33 cents a "pack" instead of nearly 5 bucks. That is quite a huge difference.

    Of course, in Spring comes the garden. There will not be much experimenting going on this year. And I will be concentrating on foods we eat a LOT. There will be a lot of green beans, carrots, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and potatoes. I might try broccoli again but with the weird weather, I've not had much luck with it. I do plan on more if there is any experimenting, it will be with that. Meat prices are just getting ridiculous and those super low sales are not happening very darn often. There will also be herbs, lots of them......because I now find it hard to plant anything that doesn't give me something in return. I still have my blueberries and strawberries.

    I also find it much harder to waste anything. Cardboard egg cartons are being saved for seed starter trays. Good plastic food containers are saved for leftovers and storage of other items. Good lord, people, I'm now the woman that washes out her food storage bags (provided they never saw the inside of the microwave). And there will be the compost for the garden. My trash man doesn't have as much to haul away these days.

    I'd like to know how you all are managing, especially when there seems to have been another big jump in food prices, at least in some areas of the country. It's always nice if there is someone to swap ideas with and we haven't done this in quite some time.
  2. Jody

    Jody Active Member

    Oh Lisa,
    I cannot wait for Spring to get here. I miss my free peppers and spinach. This year I will be doing of course tomatoes, zuccinni, spinach, herbs, red and green peppers galore. Im also doing some garlic, and celery. I love root vegetables, so im thinking of getting a baby pool, and fill it with dirt, that i can put some fencing around it to keep raccoons and the squirrels out of my produce. Oh yeah the rabbits too, they are my worst offenders. I am starting my seeds next weekend, I am praying for a early spring, and i think since winter got here so fast it will be nice in March. I want to do turnips, and parsnips and potatoes. would love to do some asparagus and brussel sprouts this year definately doing some berrries.
  3. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    Right now I am starting back to clipping coupons. I hadn't done much of this in several years due to a hectic work schedule and kiddo activities. Now I have to make the time and find a job.

    I am really disappointed to find that none of the grocery stores in this area double coupons. Or at least none I have found so far. So I am going to have to start doing the whole price comparison thing and buying items where they are cheapest. I have avoided that for a while now simply because of the amount of driving required to go to multiple places. Thankfully our commissary on post is relatively cheap on all things so I can use them for the majority of items.

    I was thinking about doing some veggies in the garden but I have to check the rules on this post before I can plant. I may just build some small beds. It stays cool here until April or so and we have light summers so I am hoping maybe I can grow things without sweating to death weeding. LOL
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I absolutely am not on your extraordinary level so can only toss a couple of ideas. I reduced my meat purchases on purpose and downsized our portion size. on the other hand, I really increased the use of grains which still are cheap and also are frequently healthier. I increased the number of beans we eat. We do not eat pasta as much now but that was economical, easy and tasty. I gave up cigarettes a few years ago and use Nicorette which seems expensive but in my humble opinion is not costly because as your addition reduces you can cut or bite the pills in halves or quarters. Lastly I increased the use of the microwave and decreased electrical use by limiting the oven use.

    You are the queen of savings and I admire your tenacity. DDD
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im amazed because I can barely put a dent in anything.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    DDD. thanks for the compliment, but I'm certainly not the queen........I'm just trying to speak by best I can. If utilities don't stop jumping up I may have to take on a 2nd job, although I have no clue when I'd find time to do that.

    The ONLY store I can find that doubles coupons is our local family owned market. They started just as kroger stopped. They are also the ones with the super low deals most of the time. It's only a few items, sometimes only one, but their prices are far lower than even aldi when they do it. This year they are celebrating their 50th anniversary and in each weeks ad is one item priced based on a the price of a past year. I got bananas for .10 cents a lb once. This week it is chicken leg quarters for .49 cents a lb and you betcha I'll be buying quite a lot of that. Seems competition is working in my favor. I've also noticed their parking lot and the store is often more crowded than I've ever seen it. They're trying to stay in business. I might only be able to buy their lowest priced items, but I'm more than happy to help them with that.

    Jody, I love spinach. I might be asking you for some tips come planting time......maybe a small experimental area won't be too much. lol
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I love hearing stories like this. I am reading a lot about minimalism and I love the concept.
  8. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I buy things on sale and I try to use coupons in addition to that. I have an extra freezer so I stock up on large items from Sams. For myself I like to make soups or others like meat and potatoes type that is where the most money goes. I wish I knew how to make a garden, I love the kiddie pool idea. I want free veggies!
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    How much should an average couple pay for groceries? Now our servings are probably that for 4 people but it cant cost what we have been paying each month for food to feed everyone. Im thinking if we spend $100 a week we should be able to eat well. That wouldnt count laundry stuff and hygiene items.
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    UAN gardening is truly not that difficult. Once you get the seeds / plants into the ground it's just no biggie.....weed once in a while, water when soil is dry and you're pretty much good. Seed packets have the directions for when to plant ect on the back. There is tons of help online too. You won't believe the difference in taste or how long your produce actually lasts compared to what you bring home from the store.

    Janet as I recall you don't have discount food stores near you, right? Do you attempt to do sale ads or coupons? I've not shopped reg price in forever. But I have never paid 100.00 a week for food in my life, not even for a family of 5 or more. easy child has a family of 5 and swears she doesn't, but she does tend to shop like I do.....just not quite to the extreme as she doesn't have the cash flow worry I have. I'm shopping for Travis and myself. I don't spend more than 30 unless it is a stock up sale and usually if it is over 30 there is meat involved. If you can't do that type of shopping, then I'd guess 100.00 isn't too bad, given the price jumps. I will say at xmas I had to pick up a few things that weren't on the really cheap sale price and swear to all that is holy I didn't pick up but a handful of items and it cost me 100.00. I nearly fainted on the cashier! To make it worse, what I did get WAS on SALE. omg The more convenience foods you can eliminate the better. They're usually more expensive, sale or not. I'm not going to say I never get them because if it's super cheap and it's something we like I will, but those items have to be on the dirt cheap sales.

    MWM If I get anymore minimalistic I'm going to be reduced to lighting the house with oil lamps. I wish I were kidding.
  11. Hopeless

    Hopeless ....Hopeful Now

    My budget is out the window...,have a college student to pay for. I couponed since '08, but last year stopped paper service. My stockpile is pretty low currently and that kind of scares me in this economy. I really hate going grocery shopping because the prices are so high and just keep going up.

    Sent from my iPhone using ConductDisorders
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    LOLOLOL, LIsa. Glad I swallowed my coffee before I read your comment about minimalism. I'd love to hear more tips. We are moving this year and unlike most people, who look forward to big places with all the perks, I'm super excited about downsizing to a SMALL place that I can make my with very small utility bills. I actually found a few apartments that allow two small dogs!! We're thinking of possibly a one bedroom with a sofabed that hubby and I can use when Jumper is in from college next year. Apartments include heat and water so that would be very economical :)

    As for food, hubby isn't a big eater and will eat anything I make. I'm still watching what I eat by eating healthy so a good deal of our food is the healthy kind and, yes, I use sales and also Aldies. For blueberries, I get frozen from Aldis, for example. Half the price as Walmart or our more upscale food stores. Only meat is sometimes from those stores and only sale meat and only when I know we'll all be eating. Sonic with his autism has to make his own dinners...he likes strange things and often pitches in for his own food. So we spend maybe $30-$50 a week on food and that's it.

    Where I volunteer, a few stores throw in some day old food for the clients and, if anything is left over, we can take the rest home. We get some really good bread, sandwiches, fruit and even sweets.

    Like you, we exist on a small income, but it's possible to do it. There are benefits. My husband has never been a huge money maker, but his job allows him to always be there for Jumper's games. He has been able to be a great hands on dad and the kids adore him. He can always take off to drive me to the doctor (I don't like driving on snow)...also we pay cash for everything and never have any debt. Husband can fix anything himself if it is fixable. We can buy old cars, old washers and dryers, etc. and they last forever. Of course our appliances will automatically be an upgrade if we go with an apartment as their appliances are decent. We can rent a one bedroom for $410 a month plus $30 extra because of the dogs. Two bedroom is $560. And they are NOT dumps! Real Estate is very low where we live. How's that for minamilism? :)
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thats about what apartments go for here MWM. We are probably going to moving extremely soon to a small 2 bedroom place. I wont say we are out until my bags are

    Lisa, you would croak with my bills! I made out a budget the other day and all totaled we have to put out a little over 2K a month. Hence the fact Tony and I are most likely leaving the boys the double wide and finding something smaller for the 2 of us.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    That rent would be high here. Difference in location, I suspect. For that price you can get a decent 3 bedroom home with a yard and landlord probably wouldn't charge extra for the dog. Sounds like you're doing pretty good though budget wise and cutting costs.

    Janet, monthly bills are running us over 1200.00 a month, maybe closer to 1400.00. This is with cutting out everything we can cut out. I've not had tv since last spring or earlier. I won't give up internet until given no choice because it's not just entertainment it is how I keep in contact with friends/family that don't live close and with the outside world in general. We're not creating new bills, our utilities keep increasing their darn rates. A nice little place for just you and Tony is a fabulous idea. I hope you guys are able to make it happen.

    I will find a way to get the electric bill back down if I have to resort to the oil lamps, which would cost no where near that to would be a tiny fraction of that. omg

    Nichole had a container garden when living in an apartment. It did much better than she ever dreamed.....and she had tons of fresh produce of their favorite things.

    In spring I do have the rain barrels to off set the cost of keeping the garden watered. I'm still giving strong consideration into keeping rabbits both for meat and for ample fertilizer for the garden.

    Most of the fresh food I buy, be it meat or produce, is processed by me for long term storage. I either can it or dehydrate it (then seal into canning jars). Produce done this way I never have to worry about using before it goes bad, which is great when you're getting a great deal you might not see for months. We like fresh fruits/veggies, we just can't always eat them fast enough. Grandchildren have now become quite fond of dehydrated banana chips. lol Dehydrated veggies/fruit is actually not that difficult to rehydrate and use, and it stores for years if necessary. Canned meat is about as convenient as you can possibly get and tastes wonderful/tender. If I don't feel like cooking something fresh I just go to the pantry, pull a jar off the shelf, and do whatever I want to do with it. Cooking time is hardly anything because it's already fully cooked. It also stores for a couple of years. I like it because if the power goes out (like during our lovely weather) I don't risk losing food in the freezer. It's all safe on the pantry shelf. Canning fruits and veggies is truly not a huge deal and is easy. Canning meat isn't much harder except it requires a pressure canner and takes 90 mins for each batch. Dehydrating is about as easy as you can possibly get and you can buy an adapter for the food savors that will seal what you dehydrate into a canning jar for about 20 bucks or so. Of course I do this with what comes out of the garden too.

    I figure with food cost the way it is, I'm going to waste as little as possible. Even scraps from our plate goes to the dogs......what they can't eat gets composted.

    The internet is a wealth of information. I do my best to use it to my advantage. :)

    I will say........... at work we have labels that come wound around a large very hard cardboard tube, and shrink wrap that comes on an even larger version. I was eying 2 empty ones as I was skidding last night thinking they'd probably have a good use to them. I just haven't come up with one yet. Shoot, kids would probably love to play with them. lol
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I have gotten back to shopping for a menu instead of never having a clue as to what we're going to eat. I'm budgeting paying back the moving expenses we incurred last year when we moved South. That is going to take several more years, and of course we can't budget for health problems. husband is working all the overtime he can. I'm anxious about the toll it is taking on him, but I'm trying to keep his diet and prescriptions up. I've got some greens and beets to plant as soon as the cold goes away - if it ever goes away. It was a waste of time and energy and water last year.

    Other than Rabies I vaccinate the dogs myself, and the Rabies they get at a clinic. I took them to a vet today that offered $5 exams to new patients. They needed someone here anyway, so it's good to know that they're well. I buy pet food at the Tractor Supply in SC, which is about 45 miles round trip, but I fill my gas tank when I go and it's about 30 cents less a gallon, and the food is about $15 less a bag & good quality and I buy two.

    Only the little people pay taxes. Can you tell I've been working on my taxes? Of course we'll owe again this year, but it's not a surprise that we'll owe. It's just a surprise what the number will be every year! I wish I could just figure out how to get them to take the right amount out! The tax code is monster and it's not fair to anyone!
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lisa, rabbits and/or chickens would be great. You can get those little banty chickens and have probably what you guys need to eat for a meal off one chicken. We have raised those and it takes very little space.

    We have our freezer packed with deer meat from this fall and I bought a food saver thing with those bags. We have a local grocery store that sells me beef fat for .25 cent a pound and we grind up hamburger. I also put any extra stew when I make it back into those bags and seal it up and throw it in the freezer. In the spring and summer Tony fishes and we have dozens of bags of fish. Fresh and saltwater. Our freezer is about 5x3x3 I guess. Maybe a bit taller. Its now packed to the rim.

    I know, how on earth can I buy 100 bucks of groceries and not buy meat?