Cheap or Frugal?

These days, most of us have to cut back and scrimp and stretch the funds.  Sometimes I laugh at myself at some of the ways I try to save.  They seem so small in the overall scheme of the total amount of expenses but even little things add up.

We do have programmed thermostats which I know help some but we keep our house really cool, especially at night.  Summers our bills are way high; winters our heating costs are probably less than average because I’d do most anything to keep from using electric heat . . don’t like it at all.

We don’t really take vacations.  With Vince working his day job and teaching at night, and the traveling I do with quilting, even though I don’t write much about it, I schedule two teaching engagements per month and am usually gone 2 or 3 days, sometimes a whole week, with each trip, so for us, home is where we’d rather spend our time.  We may make a day trip to Kansas City or Joplin to eat out, and we did go to Arkansas for a week at spring break but that was mostly to spend time with Chad doing something he’d enjoy.

We keep our cars forever.  I detest shopping for clothes.  Decorating the house is torture for me.  Groceries, cooking gadgets . . that’s my weakness.


When I think of ways to cut back, I think of groceries.  Yes, I know . . I could cut back by not buying any fabric but that’s not going to happen.  We could also cut back by not having TV (satellite) but I don’t think I should suggest that again any time soon!

Besides making almost everything from scratch and buying things on sale at the grocery store, here are a few of the things I do.  They really seem small but I know they do add up.

  • Often our stores have pork loins on sale and I always stock up.  I slice some into pork chops and have several good recipes where pork loins can be used.
  • I buy green peppers when they’re on sale during the summer and stuff them for the freezer.  The top portion that I cut off, I chop and freeze to use in recipes that need green peppers.
  • I buy bread that’s past its “sell by” date when it’s marked way down.  I put some in the food processor for bread crumbs.  I use a lot of those in meat loaf and meatballs.  I chop some into chunks for bread pudding or cornbread dressing (my recipe calls for cornbread and white bread).
  • Grow as much basil, rosemary, parsley, green onions, etc. as I can.  I have them in pots on the deck to keep the deer from eating them.
  • Make one trip per week to the grocery store and only with a list.

It’s not even that I have to scrimp and save but I love being frugal.  When I think of a way to cut back and save a bit, I’m so excited!

Any special ways you cut back and save in your daily routine?




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    I don’t suppose I’m as frugal as some, altho don’t we all look for ways to save money on the things we don’t really want to spend it on?
    I don’t garden because our neighbors do it on a grand scale, and they give us so much stuff, and it’s just the 2 of us, so I feel I don’t need to. Plus, I’m no good at it, so it’s better if I just let them do it. I reciprocate with occasional gifts in return, so I don’t really feel like a freeloader!
    We don’t have TV, phone, or internet where we live, so I can’t cut back on that . . .
    Our ranch shack has no heat, so I do have to run a space heater now and then in the winter, but the place is so small, that even doing that is more economical than having a huge heating system installed. (We use the infrared ones)
    We raise cattle and butcher our own beef, so I never have to buy meat at the grocery store . . .
    Our ranch shack is TINY, so I can’t buy a lot of stuff to put in it, and like you, I abhor clothes shopping, and I am not a decorator. I do spend my money on traveling and quilting stuff. But even then we look for ways to do it more economically. I have purchased very little in the way of fabric this year, trying to use up the stash. I’ll be interested in seeing comments by others, and hopefully get some good ideas. That will leave me more money for quilting stuff!

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    I prefer the word frugal. I enjoy sitting down to a delicious, healthy meal and know that it was well prepared and did not cost a mint………….

    Lem and I enjoy being at home together. We both have things to keep us occupied that do not cost too much. Except for my quilting of course but I am even cutting back there. I think I have enough to last me for several years with the addition of a yard or two now and then.

    Thanks for the intro to yogurt making. And on Saturday I finally got a really good loaf of bread made. After work I will be making another loaf.

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    Penny says

    I always plan my weeks menus and then grocery shop armed with a list and I make everything myself from scratch, utilising leftovers the day after. For example a roast chicken might become a pasta dish the following day and the bones are used for stock or soup. I compost all that I can and that then ends up on the garden. We have fitted energy saving light bulbs just about everywhere we can although I can’t say we’ve noticed any change in our bills yet. We have internet as we need it for work but no satellite TV so can’t cut back there.I used to be a sucker for buying magazines but I have given that up and now if I am ever tempted, I try to resist and put the money in my fabric fund tin instead. I also walk into town whenever I can rather than using the car, saves on fuel and carbon emmissions. Can’t say I’ve cut down on fabrics etc yet although I will always use something from my stash if I can, it’s just that I never seem to have quite the right thing or enough of it.

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    Trish says

    I make all of our bread and the majority of our desserts (prefer them over store bought any day!). I have the chickens for eggs and also raise quail for both meat and eggs. I’ve had a lot of tomatoes this year and have blanched and frozen them, along with tons of green peppers (they’re STILL producing like mad) that I’ve chopped and put in the freezer. I’ve been buying ears of corn locally and putting them in the freezer for this winter. We very rarely eat out, which saves quite a bit of $$. I also buy meat on sale in bulk and use the Food Saver (which I received FREE from Freecycle!) to vacuum seal it and put it in the freezer. I also make my own laundry detergent (MUCH cheaper than store bought!).

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    peg says

    I think I’m frugal in as many ways as possible. Nothing too spectacular or special. I do have a question for Judy as we here at work were discussing this just the other day – anything special you do to freeze your peppers. When you say stuffed do you mean with the meat mixture as you normally would stuff and cook? Someone told me her mother would clean peppers during the summer and stuff them with paper to freeze.

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    Evelyn says

    We prefer to eat our own food rather than eating out… if we are going away on a day trip we usually pack a cooler of food and drinks. I buy many of my son’s clothing used and love hand-me-downs from my family – and in return I bag his clothes/toys up for the younger cousins. I also make many of my sons clothes. One thing – we don’t usually buy birthday/Christmas presents for adults – only for the children. For the adults I prefer to give a food item that I’ve made. I also usually make all our bread and cookies. The big saver though is sending my DH to the grocery store – I give him the list and he comes home ONLY with what is on the list – I always end up with lots of extra “goodies” so sending him is a big saver! Cheers! Evelyn

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    pdudgeon says

    i’m frugal when i can be, like stocking up on quilt batting when online shops have free shipping.
    Also i try and buy my fabric by the project and not just because i like it. I started doing that two years ago now and it has made a huge difference for me as far as managing my left overs.

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    Like you, I do grocery shopping once a week. At the same time, since we live about 15 miles from the nearest stores, I spend this day running errands so I don’t have to make unnecessary trips into town to save gas. I cook everything from scratch and buy bulk items when on sale. I clip coupons and note on my shopping list if a coupon is available. It helps me from forgetting. We don’t use our electric forced air furnace because it’s too expensive and instead, we heat our home with wood. Since we live on acreage we always have fallen trees during the year that we can cut up into firewood.

    As for cost saving when it comes to my sewing studio, I re-organized. I started by removing everything from the room, took inventory, identified what to give away, sorted like with like, and returned it into my room. I now know exactly what I have and how much which prevents me from buying duplicates… Something that was a problem before re-organizing.

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    I think I’m pretty frugal. I love having a stocked pantry, freezer and fridge. I’m not a fan of grocery shopping and when I go, I shop with a list and try to only buy on sale. I can put off any kind of shopping forever. Even fabric shopping, I have to be in the mood and now only buy what I need for a specific project-most of the time!!

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    Grocery shopping once a week… hot house in the summer and COLD in the winter (especially when I’m pregnant, since I have a personal furnace!)… gardening organically and with little additives to the soil… compost piles… my husband chops wood we get for free and we use that to heat part of the house… I don’t buy new clothes for myself very often, and next to never for my girls… nobody goes to a professional for haircuts in our house… maybe not much, but we try!

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    Julianne says

    I like being frugal. I try to gro shop once a week or less if I can, I shop the outer edges of the store mostly. They keep the less expensive items around the edges and on the top shelf. The more costly items are kept closer to eye level. Ever notice how the most expensive and sugary breakfast cereal is at child level? I use a list even if the list is in my head. I buy store brands as much as I can. I combine my trips with other errands to save gas. I buy my fabrics as needed for projects and try not to impulse buy anything even fabric.
    I try to remember that a bargain is not really a bargain if you don’t need it. If you can’t or don’t use it in a reasonable time then the bargain becomes waste. I re use or re purpose as much as I can. I am sure I do other things to save but, that is what I can think of now.

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    I am really enjoying reading the frugal hints. Over the past several years I have tried to cut back on my purchases. I no longer purchase patterns or embroidery designs just because I like them. I must have a special project for them. I purchase quilt patterns and fabric at the same time. This has greatly reduced the amount of fabric that I buy. I love novelty fabric and that has always been my biggest purchases. I no longer buy it unless it is for a particular project. I purchased a food saver and it has been a great help. It is now just hubby and I and there are lots of leftovers.

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    I live in a good sized city, so it is easy to just jump in the car and run an errand. Now I schedule my errands for only a couple of days in the week, and I have Tuesday and Friday as days I stay home all day. No use of the car on those days. DH purchased a used Prius for his car, and we use it for all our long distance driving, getting almost 50 miles per gallon.

    Our house is heated by radiators, so when we needed a new boiler we got a very efficient one which has the hot water heater right in it, “on demand”. No pilot light burning all the time. It will take a few years to earn back the cost, but worth it.

    Grow lots of basil and freeze pesto for the winter months–a summer delight to have it in February!

    I still spend too much money on books, but I’m learning to go to the public library FIRST.

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    well, after reading all the previous comments, I must say I am not as frugal as most.
    I do plan my meals for two weeks and use a list to grocery shop. I frequent Aldi’s (a local bag-your-own-all-generic) and use my own bags. I don’t buy fabric or notions unless I have a project for them. I trade books and patterns with friends. I also use paperbackswap online for my reading books as we have no tax based library. I also have a food-saver and I use Free-cycle, but only to get rid of things. I am a pitcher…I will clean a closet out faster than you can turn around. My hubby is the hoarder.

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    dawn says

    we save and trade coupons for items we use. then we compare store prices on items and see where we can save the most. we also stockpile when there is a good sale. our local supermarket has wacky wednesday. on a specific wed of the month, they will have for one day only ridiculously low prices on things. this week is .47/lb chicken legs, .49/lb apples and .88 apple juice. I will get and freeze some chicken, get apples and make and freeze my holiday pies and start making apple jelly from the juice. we have a couplle of good recipes that use store bought juice to start.
    I also buy shampoo and stockpile when on sale and dishsoap as well. those things dont really have an expiration date so keep well. It really does seem to help as most weeks I am usually spending $60-70 for the two of us on groceries. we like lots of soups too. that helps.

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    carol c says

    i thought that was just normal ways of doing things, i save left overs for soup for the fall, every little thing that I can.

    we bought mroe grocerys today of things on sale and put in the freezer.

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    Jerzydeb says

    As a mom of 4 growing kids, and being self employed as well – we do watch our funds pretty closely. I do subscribe to coupon mom – she does most of the work of my weekly grocery lists – finding things on sale, matching them with coupons from the paper, and giving you final costs. Many a time items end up free, or nearly free. I always get as many of these as I have coupons for – if it’s a product I don’t use – I save it for Thanksgiving Day food drives.

    Another thing I’ve found that really saves money – I buy some of my groceries at Amazon. Yep, Amazon. Example – my kids love, love, love peanut butter – especially honey roasted skippy. I’ve found that when Amazon has it on sale, it ends up being about 1/2 the cost per jar as it is in the store. Yes, you have to buy a case – but peanut butter won’t go bad that quickly. If you order is over $25 – Amazon pays for delivery. I’d much rather the brown truck guy lug all that peanut butter to my doorstep then me ! Oh, and I subscribe to get monthly delivery of the sugar free syrups I use in my coffee – again, free delivery, and a cheaper price then either the grocery store, or even Sam’s warehouse clubs!

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    Yes, Amazon can be amazing – especially if you can find something on the Subscribe – n- Save list at 15% off. We have scheduled deliveries of olive oil, laundry soap (Mrs. Meyer’s), pectin, tomato paste, and a bunch of other stuff. I used to subscribe to toilet paper!

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    Since I retired I find that my gas cost has dropped by at least 50%. I rarely shop anymore – I no longer need the business clothes, my ‘everyday’ clothes last forever and I don’t want anymore ‘stuff’ for the house. I do love to spend time in a quilt shop but I’ve started only buying fabric for a specific project. Also trying to use up my stash.
    I’m not the cooker that most of you are – Bob does at least 75% of the cooking in this house – we do watch the grocery sales and freeze a lot of meat bought on sale. I also started freezing fresh berries and some vegetables. In the winter we heat with a wood burning stove but in the summer the AC in on and the house is cool. I can’t stand to be hot.
    My downfall (besides fabric) are gadgets – I’m a real gadget geek and I have to stay away from Best Buy and the Apple store! I did get a Kindle – I’m justifying that by spending less $$ in Barnes & Noble.

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    Linda says

    I’ve always been a bargain shopper. I’ve clipped coupons since we were first married 37 years ago. I save leftover vegetables to freeze and then add to soup. My husband is a hunter so we almost always have venison in the freezer. I use this pretty much like beef and we only occasionally buy a beef steak or hamburger. We watch ads for the local butcher shop and buy chicken breasts when they have a box sale. The last time we bought, we got a 40# box of boneless, skinless breasts for $1.50/lb. I wrap these individually and put in a larger freezer bag. That way, I only defrost and cook what we need. This same butcher shop often has pork loins on sale. Again, we buy a whole one and have half sliced into chops and the rest for a roast or two. We do a lot of our grocery shopping in Amish country. The fruits and vegetables are fresh and very reasonably priced. There’s also sort of a general store where we get cheese, lunch meat, oatmeal, raisins, even spices. They carry fabric, batting, thread, and yarn at reasonable prices so I sometimes buy these items there also. We have a membership to Sam,s and use it when we have to drive the 30-35 miles to go to one of the two larger towns closest to us for other reasons (doctor, medical tests, etc.).
    We decided early in our marriage that we wouldn’t buy anything (appliances, etc.) until we had saved the money for it. (Of course, back then we did have to finance our vehicles and have a mortgage.)
    I used to sew most of my own and our kids clothes. If I did buy anything it was usually on sale. These days, I pretty much sew quilts not clothes. I really dislike shopping, especially for clothes. I do occasionally stop by the resale shops in town or if I really need something will try to get it on sale.
    When we buy something, we usually keep it until it dies. I just replaced a 17 year old dryer only because my husband checked on parts to fix it and they were almost as much as a new dryer and we figured that a new dryer would be more energy efficient. We drive an 11 year old car which was new when we bought it. We’ll keep it until it costs a arm and a leg to keep it on the road. So far it has cost us very little in repairs. We bought a used truck a few years ago and it is now 5 years old. We take very good care of our things and they do seem to last us longer than their average life span.
    I have started using the stash for projects and only buy what I need when I need it. I used to buy lots of patterns, books, and magazines. I’ve stopped doing that because I have more quilt and craft ideas saved up than I’ll ever be able to make in my lifetime. I do find free patterns online like here on Judy’s site and at quiltville.
    So, my husband sometimes calls me “tightwad”, but I think that he appreciates the fact that we don’t owe money to anyone and don’t have large credit card debt. We only have our monthly utility and insurance bills plus yearly taxes to pay.
    We tried to instill this philosophy into our kids. Our son seems to have finally gotten it. Our daughter, not so much.

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    I am a coupon shopper. I try to save at least $15 everytime I grocery shop. I figure it’s free money. I only buy things we use. If it is on sale and I don’t use it I don’t save money. I only try new products if I have a coupon. I make sure to use my registar rewards before they expire. Sometimes I don’t need anything at the store so I will pick up dish soap, toilettries, or baking stuff. I get stuff that has a long shelf life.

    I also check the website through out the day. They always are posting great stuff. I have been able to get most of my Christmas shopping done already at a fraction of my buget.

    I am lucky to live in a rich farming area. I have learned to make jelly and started canning 2 years ago. I have learned that I enjoy it and it is cheaper to give at Christmas. This year I made 18 pints of Bread & Butter Pickles. The packing sheds sell seconds VERY cheap, a case of apples is usually $8. I am hoping to get something done this year with those.

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    Bobbie says

    Thank you ladies-have some new thoughts now on being frugle and am going to remember all the ways and hope I do a better job. I am a “sale”person and buy when things are on sale. I haven’t paid full price for a pair of jeans or t-shirts for a long while. I’m home most of the time, so just need everyday clothes. My “going out” is usually to quilt club and applique club and look foreward to them every month. Since I’ve been kinda on he “blaugh” side for a while, I’m home a lot more and now just feeling to get back to the sewing room–I am REALLY ready-in fact as soon as I quit writing this, I’m heading for
    thequilt shop!!!-(just for a few things.). Hugs, Bobbie

    Oh gosh darn it Judy-I have to stop and buy eggs. OH for my own chicken house.

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    Peggy says

    We use most of our leftovers. My husband and I are always on the look out for things “reduced or on sale”, but we only buy them if we need something and it is actually less expensive. You know how some stores are with their sales.
    I also cook mostly from scratch, canning and freezing fruits and vegetables. One thing I wish we could do is to update our heating system. We don’t own the house, so I don’t think this will happen.

    Judy would you share your bread pudding recipe? My Grandmother made wonderful bread pudding, but no one in the family has the recipe. I am also looking for a rice pudding recipe that is yellow, creamy and baked.

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    Darlene S says

    Many of these ideas are incorporated into our household too. But one in particular caught my eye. How do you make laundry detergent? This is a new one and I would be interested in learning it. Thanks Judy for starting this conversation. Dar

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    peggy says

    OK. You saved a loaf of white bread I bought when I only needed a couple of slices for a recipe. I was feeling guilty, but we don’t eat white bread, and I really needed those few slices. So I made bread cubes and some bread crumbs. Do you freeze them? How long can they be kept in the fridge? It feels good to know that bread isn’t going to end up moldy and then find its way to the trash.

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    I’ve been a coupon clipper for a while and since Jan. 1 have turned in $600 in coupons to just Walmart. I also use them a lot at Walgreens because there you can use both a Walgreens and a manufacturer’s coupon on the same item. I often get personal items for free and if it’s a brand I don’t use I donate it to the homeless shelter. I make my own bread and laundry detergent and if anyone needs that detergent recipe e-mail me – it’s easy and good. mbushretired at gmail dot com Judy I’d be interested in knowing how you store basil and other herbs. blessings, marlene

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    June Piper-Brandon says

    I am frugal too. I clip coupons and take advantage of the double and triple coupon days. I buy my bread, rolls, bagels and english muffins at the factory bread store (3 loaves for a $1 sometimes), shop at the farmer’s market when I can, make my own marinara sauce, salsa etc and it’s so much cheaper. I take my lunch when I can and Liam packs a lunch for school. And, I shop for sales.