Living economically. Care to share some of your tips?


I realize that there are websites dedicated to these topics, but perhaps it may be beneficial to some to have these ideas listed here where the posters can be questioned on their methods and sources.

Here are some of the things that have come my way during my 8 years of family raising:

I think if someone has a source of free or very cheap meat, eggs and milk which is not unheard of then the other food can be bought very cheaply.

Buying whole grains and grinding them can be cheaper than even the cheapest store flour. The grinder is a bit pricey though.

Some people hunt but can’t eat all the meat they hunt so they are willing to give away their meat.

Some farmers sell milk and eggs at ridiculously low prices if you happen to be able to live close to some.

ANother idea is calling up the local forest ranger and asking them what they do with the meat they take from poachers. They give it to people for free for the asking where I live. Unbelievable almost, but true!!!

I am not sure if gardening saves a lot of money if you calculate in the time spent on it. But I did have a great crop of potatoes and beets a few years in a row when I lived in a house with a bigger garden. I don’t remember doing much work on it, but that was with only two little kids and hardly any other responsabilities. We don’t have a root cellar so until we do, that sort of thing wouldn’t be worth it for us.


I can’t say we’re the best at living economically… but here’s my two cents…

Research every purchase as if it were a business plan… cost of investment vs beneficial gain.
If it’s not worth your investment of time or money, don’t do it.


Don’t live in the desert. :smiley: It seems like everything is expensive here, because natural resources (like water and wild game) are not exactly abundant. Unless you’re the insect-eating type. :rotfl: We have plenty of bugs!

We’re not very good at living economically (but we’re still well within our means), because it seems like the more natural products like soaps and wholesome foods are more expensive to purchase. I’d love to have the time and talent to make my own soaps; or the time and water to grow my own veggie garden!


Buy fresh stuff in bulk, and then divide it into small portions to freeze. This way, you pick the size of the portions that you freeze. It’s tastier than pre-frozen food, and there is no danger of thawing more than you want, thus wasting any.

Don’t ever buy anything that you don’t currently have a use for, or that you don’t see yourself using at the next change of season, because chances are good that, if not, then you never will have a use for them - even if they are on sale at ridiculously low prices.

Spend the money on things that you will actually use in the immediate future, or else put it into your savings account where it will do more good.


Don’t buy on impulse…:thumbsup:

Research big purchases…:thumbsup:

Clip coupons w/ care…:thumbsup:

Eat lots of pototoes and beans w/ rice…:thumbsup:

Use a slow cooker to cook steak and roast–the less expensive cuts will still be super tender…:thumbsup:

If you decide to go to the movies, smuggle all refreshments in your enormous purse…:thumbsup:



Or use your hubby’s pockets! I swear, they give men such big pockets on their pants. In high school, my little brother could fit two cans of soda in each front pocket, and use the other pockets (he had “cargo pants”) for chips and candy.


I smuggled in a can of Coke at one point during a winter in Michigan. I carried it in a “sweater” type purse. It was so cold out (we walked the 1/2 mile to the theater) that the can burst right when I sat down in the theater and then my cell phone started going berserk. I guess cell phones don’t like Coke. I recommend plastic bottles of soda :smiley: Nothing like sitting through a movie with a sopping wet purse, a broken phone, and nothing to drink!


Never buy anything on credit. Except maybe a house.


Don’t live on the coasts! The cost of living is ridiculous. Move to the midwest, where you can afford to actually live.

Don’t overstretch yourself on your mortgage. You can get just as big of a house for a lot less money if you buy an old house that needs some cosmetic work instead of a pretty newer house.

Cook from scratch, and eat at home. Restaurants and especially fast food are terribly expensive. Learn to cook with staples like potatoes, beans, rice and in-season veggies, and you can cut enormous amounts off your food bill.

Grow your own food or buy locally. Make a garden. Buy meat, milk and eggs from local farmers. It’s almost always cheaper. Go hunting, or make friends with hunters–as already said, many will give away extra venison if they have a good season. Go fishing, and eat what you catch!

Buy generic everything. Same stuff, costs less.

Get hand-me-downs. Find a friend with kids a little bit older than yours, and ask for their old clothes, or shop at consignment stores. Especially on baby clothes, they are like new. I admit, the older boys get, the harder they are on clothes, especially pants, but you can still get most tops and some other things in good shape for older kids.

Cancel everything you don’t absolutely need. No magazines, newspapers, cable TV, extra phone lines, etc. You’ll be amazed at how much extra time you seem to have when the cable is gone!

Only have cars that are paid for. Don’t waste money on a pretty new car when a used one will get you there just as well. A little repair work on a solid older car never adds up to as much as payments on a brand new one.


I once managed to get an entire finger-lickin’ good meal for 2 from KFC into the theater in my purse. LOL! Those were the days!


In addition to the fine suggestions already posted, I can only say “think before you buy something.” Ask yourself, do I really need this or do I only want it? Do I already have something else at home which I could use instead of this, that will do the same thing? How much will it cost in upkeep (dry cleaning vs. being washable, needing batteries, etc.), and is it worth it? Could I find the same thing gently-used at a thrift shop, on eBay, or at a garage sale? If it is something to wear, is it so trendy that it will be out of style next year, or is it something more basic that you can use until it wears out? And remember, even the most-marked-down items aren’t bargains unless they are something you would have bought anyway. Those turquoise-and-pink sandals on sale for $10 will be $10 wasted if they don’t fit right, or if your wardrobe is based on earth tones.


I work for Whole Foods so we get a discount on all of our groceries.


Hay, Little Mary! It’s Me, BROTHER DAN. have the recipieS-oops, spoiled the surprise- for ya’ in the "comes in pints’ thread. also have a history point of interest for ya’. see ya at the other thread, OK?


Great tips!

Here’s what we (try) to do.
Set the themostat higher/lower for less usage.
Keep all non use lights off.
Cut cable or keep only the lowest package.
Read papers/mags/info online, no subscriptions.
Cut internet. (obviously we don’t!) Use at library, free!
Buy store brands.
Cut meat consumption, use less meat in recipes.
Find/use frugal recipes.
Cut the soda, drink tea/Koolaid/water.
Cut phone down to bare bones, only one cell if poss.
Carpool/go to one car/bikes.
Travel/shop less, we do two week trips for food, ect.
Clothing from Goodwill, ect.
Library for books/mags/movies, free!
Check for local free concerts/art showings/festivals, free!

If you would like websites, I have a few. Just message me, I’d be glad to share!


I also think that it is important to have a “mad money” stash, if you can. Whenever my husband and I get cash gifts for holidays/birthdays/whatever, we put the money into our individual “mad money” stashes, to be used on our personal wants, as we each see fit. His paycheck and any other earned money (obviously the vast majority of our money) goes into “communal funds” that provide for our family’s needs. This way, we are able to have money for little things that we like, while still keeping providing for our family the priority.

For example, DH is a mineral collector and he often spends his mad money on rocks, while I’m a book nut, so I often spend mine ordering books online or buying saint statues I like, etc.

Also, if you can afford to set-up a high-interest savings account (such as GMAC) and leave the principal alone as retirement or rainy-day fund, you can skim the interest as “mad money” or for a special family trip, etc.

This has helped me a lot, as one who is making the adjustment from being an only child with upper middle class parents, to being a SAHM with three kids and a spouse living on the salary of a high school teacher.



My husband and I have been married for almost 30 years. We were heavily influenced by the short-lived “simple lifestyle” movement that shook the Christian world back in the late 70s. To this day, we feel guilty buying chocolate. And I still only own two pair of shoes.

Read Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider. The man’s still around, still preaching! It’s a good book; probably a little dated, but the principles are the same. Christians are very materialistic, and they shouldn’t be.

We have tried to live a “simple lifestyle,” but we blew it because of two things: private school and ice skating.

We moved back to our hometown when our girls were small, and discovered that a deseg lawsuit monster had destroyed the public school system. Along with thousands of other families in our city, we were forced to put our daughters in private schools.

We do not regret the decision; our whole family loved their school, and I still do volunteer work there almost four years after my kids graduated.

But it cost almost $6,000/year per child. Needless to say, we don’t have a lot of retirement savings.

So my advice–before you move ANYWHERE, make sure that the public schools are good and that there are no “monsters.” Talk to the regular people who live in that town or city, not to your smooth-talking realtor, and get the REAL FACTS about the schools.

I realize that many of you homeschool or send your children to parochial schools, and that’s great. But if you plan to use the public schools, make sure that they are truly useable. If they are not–MOVE somewhere else. You will save tens of thousands of dollars.

As for the ice skating–we don’t regret it. My daughters grew up on the ice, and they are still involved with the sport. My husband is a skater, too.

It’s an expensive sport. I was paying around $12,000 year for the girls to skate while they were doing singles skating.

I would highly recommend the sport of ice skating to any family though, with this suggestion for those of you who are trying to pinch pennies–LOOK FOR RINKS WITH VIABLE SYNCHRONIZED SKATING TEAMS! Do NOT take Learn To Skate classes at rinks that have no synchro teams and no plans to start them.

Synchronized skating is team skating, and it is a fraction of the cost of singles skating. If you are part of an elite team organization that travels all over the world (we were), it is STILL cheaper than singles skating.

We had to commute to be part of synchronized skating, and that commute cost a lot of money. It would probably not be feasible with today’s high gas prices.

To this day, the one regret we have over parenting is that we wish we would have moved to a suburb that has viable synchro teams (and good public schools!) Our city had neither while our daughters were growing up.

So the gist of my post is this: be willing to MOVE to find the goods and services you need. You will save much money in the long run.


Avoid purchasing on credit. Realize that many things people need aren’t really needs. No one needs cable TV or a satellite dish. No one needs a cell phone for every member of the family plus a land-line or three for the house. No one needs an $80,000 car. Generic brands are almost always just as good as name brands. Compare the ingredients on generic headache relief with the ingredients in Tylenol or Excedrin, for example. They’re the same.

– Mark L. Chance.


Fix it. Wear it out.
Make it “do” or “do” without.

Co-ops are a lovely thing, and not just for food.


Shop at Aldi’s, Cost Co or some other discount grocery store. Buy in bulk, shop at garage sales (this has saved me countless dollars), shop at Good Will and other thrift stores, buy only what you need, pay cash for big purchases or don’t buy them and ask yourself three questions before you buy anything pricey…will I use actually use this, do I need this, can I really afford this…if the answer to any of those is no then don’t bother.:thumbsup:


Here’s my big tip:

Go shopping as rarely as possible. This means planning ahead and making do when you run out of things.

I shop at Target for household goods- paper towels, toilet paper, diapers, etc. as it is the cheapest source (Target brand) around here. But I KNOW that Target is The Den of Temptation for me-- all of those cute plates and skirts and $1 trinkets… so I just don’t go there more than once a month. Ever. No matter what. A couple weeks ago I ran out of toilet paper and borrowed a roll from my next-door neighbor (we’re close) rather than go back there before October. If I run out of paper towels, I use rags instead.

Same thing with groceries (I go twice a month for groceries)-- I might ask DH to run out for a gallon of milk in an emergency, but otherwise we’re stuck if I haven’t planned my meals well! There’s always lentil soup, casseroles, pancakes… something you can make with what’s in your pantry.

Stay home! It’s cheaper.

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