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   Wait, aren’t we supposed to be talking about saving money, and your first tip is to spend it?
 
   Yes! Because when it comes to saving money on groceries, a freezer really is a girl’s best friend.
 
   The fact is that you can store almost anything in a freezer and extend its shelf life. This allows you to buy items like meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, bread, and even milk at deep discounts, put them in the freezer, and use it whenever you need them. For instance, last week, our local store put boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.99 per pound. Since that’s $1 off the normal price per pound, I bought 50 pounds and saved $50! When you save that kind of money on meat and groceries, the freezer pays for itself in six months to a year. Today, most freezers are energy efficient and only cost about $3 a month in electricity.
 
   A freezer also lets you store leftovers to cook and reheat a week later. This doesn’t just save money; it saves time and energy.
 
   Here are a few tips on purchasing a freezer:
 
   Buy a chest freezer instead of an upright—they are cheaper and more reliable.
 
   Buy a basic, reliable model. Don’t worry about paying extra for the self-defrost feature or computerized models. They just add to the price, and they are completely unnecessary. (They are also more likely to malfunction.)
 
 


    Don’t even pay extra for shelves—you can get cheap plastic basics at the Dollar Store or even just keep things separated with plastic bags.
 
     All you need is a good, reliable freezer chest that allows you to store food.
 
     Then when you see an amazing sale—you can stock up and know your food will be fresh, safe, and ready to eat when you need it. Honestly, this tip will help you follow many of the upcoming Frugal Friday tips.

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     A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about the exorbitant price of groceries. She asked if I “coupon.” I admitted that I do not. I’ve heard stories about women who get their groceries for practically nothing, but it’s never really worked for me.

 

     Instead, I use grocery store apps to shop sales. It’s pretty simple:

 

     First, I downloaded the apps to the grocery stores that are convenient to me: a Giant I know I’ll drive past every week, a Walmart I know I’ll go past on my way home, and the local store that my Dad will eventually meander into to see his friends. (He used to work there.)

 

     Then, I take 15 minutes each week and scroll through the weekly circulars from these stores to see if any of the items I like are on sale. Because here’s a secret passed down to me from my Mom and Grandma (women who absolutely loved grocery shopping!).

 

     Almost every item goes on sale once every 4-6 weeks.

 

     For instance, I love Breyers ice cream—it’s all-natural and tastes fantastic. It’s also $6 a half gallon. However, once a month, it goes on sale for 2/$6. I buy enough for a month when it goes on sale and put it in my freezer. Essentially, I’m paying half price for an item I enjoy.

 

     This is true of almost everything—if you stock up when it’s on sale, you usually save 40-50%.

 

     I never buy meat at full price—EVER. I wait until it’s discounted, then I stock up and put it in the freezer.

 

     The stock-up sale works well with any non-perishable item, especially paper products. Last week, one of the stores we shop at had our soap brand at a ridiculously low price. It was almost 40% off the normal on-sale price. We took that opportunity to stock up. My philosophy is, “It can sit on my shelves as well as on theirs. Why should I wait and pay more later?”

 

     When you get into the rhythm of purchasing items on sale, you rarely have to pay full price for groceries.

 

     As for my friend, she gave it a try, then texted me and said how much money she saved. Shopping sales really works!

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When I started asking friends to share ways they were coping with inflation in this crazy economy, one of the first answers I got was from my friend, Bethany. Her answer to rising inflation: Gardening.

 

Yes, any food you can grow in your garden will be better for your health and your wallet. If you freeze the fruits of your labor, the benefits don’t have to end when summer is over.

But what if you didn’t plant a garden this year?

 

You can still eat healthier and cheaper now and all year long by visiting a farmer’s market. Personally, I love farmer’s markets. (I think it’s hereditary—-my Mom and Grandma loved them, too)

 

During the summer, I love to enjoy all the fruits and veggies. However, this year, like the wise ant in Proverbs 6, I won’t just be shopping for foods to enjoy over the summer. We’ll also be buying our favorite items in bulk and freezing and canning some for the winter.

 

Yes, I know this is old-fashioned. But it’s also really delicious, really healthy, and a great way to save money. Here’s how to make a farmer’s market work for you:

 

-Buy in bulk. While 5 tomatoes may cost $5, a half bushel of tomatoes will cost $10. That’s a tremendous per tomato savings.

 

-Ask for discounts if you buy more. Farmers love to haggle and want to sell products. Give it a try,

     -Don’t be afraid of imperfect fruit and vegetables for freezing or canning. A peach that is slightly smaller or was hit by hail tastes the same and will freeze beautifully. They also come with BIG discounts.

 

     -Shop near closing time. Many farmers go from market to market and don’t want to load up their produce and take it home. Prices get lower at the end of the day.

 

     -Remember, the work is worth it. I promise you I’ll be telling myself this as we can, but I’ll mean it in December when I’m feasting on the benefits.

 

     Whether you garden or visit a farmer’s market, enjoy the fruits of the season!

 

    Just in case you've never tried freezing fruits and veggies before, we will be featuring step by step instructions on Facebook every night next week. Check it out and give it a try!

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Did you know that if you sign up for a store’s app, they send you coupons that are unavailable to the general public? This is one of the ways that I’ve been saving a lot of money lately—especially at grocery stores.

 

For instance, in May, Giant sent its app users 4—yes, count them—4 coupons for $10 off a $50 order. That’s a 20% savings!!! The following month, it was $9 off a $90 order. While that’s not as much, it’s still 10% off things I would buy anyway. You’d better believe I was choosing Giant over other stores that month!

 

Most apps usually feature a digital coupon section where you can scroll through and click on available manufacturer’s coupons. When you check out, the savings automatically apply to your order without clipping and carrying coupons. Again, 5 minutes of scrolling through a grocery store app instead of Facebook saves big money.

 

Using apps helps save money at restaurants, too. Many restaurants have exclusive coupons and even free food available through their app. When we are traveling, Jamie often says, “Your sandwich was free because it was BOGO on the app.” One of my friends told me she has her teenagers trained always to check the app to see what’s free when they are out with their friends. Why pay for fries if they are free on the app?

 

The same is true for many department stores—signing up for the app saves you money and allows you to participate in rewards programs that save you more money. In this economy, every little bit helps.

 

So take a few minutes and sign up for your favorite store’s app—-you’ll be glad you did.

 

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Tip #5 Generic is NOT a dirty word

 

This is another tip that was passed down to me from older generations: if you want to save money, buy generic. There is nothing wrong with buying a store brand rather than a name brand. Most store-brand products have the same ingredients. In fact, many of them are made by name-brand companies and sold under the store name. If you are worried about losing quality, check the ingredients to see how similar they are.

 

Honestly, it’s pretty shocking how much cheaper generic brands can be. For instance:

 

4 pounds of Domino sugar costs $2.99, while 4 pounds of Giant sugar is $2.29.

 

5 pounds of Gold Medal Flour is $3.99, while 5 pounds of Giant Flour is $2.29! There’s really no difference!!!!

 

We buy store-brand bread, canned vegetables, plastic wraps, foils, condiments, and spices really, almost all of the staples in my cupboards are store brands. Over the years, it’s saved us a lot of money.

 

Granted, not all generics are created equal—some are good, and some are not so great. Personally, I think Giant brand, Weis brand, and Shur-fine brands are just as good as the brand name for most items. As long as it tastes the same, I’m not paying more for a label.

Tip #6 Bigger is Better

 

Let me start off by saying that I do not have a membership to a big box store. It’s never made sense to me to spend money to save money. Plus, they are really out of our way.

 

HOWEVER, that doesn’t keep me from following the principle that buying bigger is better when saving money. No matter what store you buy from in the world of grocery shopping, buying the larger size item is almost always cheaper than the smaller size.

 

The difference is that it costs the manufacturer less to package the larger-sized items, so stores pass the savings on to you. These savings can make a big difference in your final total at the checkout.

 

Often, you don’t have to have a membership to participate in these savings. Sometimes just buying a slightly larger package will save you money.

 

I experienced this recently when I needed rice. Personally, I prefer Uncle Ben’s Original Brand Rice. However, the $3.99 price for 2 pounds is a little steep. Then, I saw that Walmart was selling a 12-pound bag of the exact same rice for $13.60. That’s a $10 savings ON THE SAME THING!!! And I won’t need rice for a while!

 

The same week, I needed toilet paper. Again, I wanted a specific brand that cost $1.29 for a single roll. Then, I saw that Giant had 12 packs for $7.99. That’s half price!!! I stocked up, and we were all set for a while.

 

However, while I was looking for a toilet paper sale, I found a few other things: Walmart actually sells paper products in large quantities, similar to the big box stores, however, they will ship them to your home for free. There’s also a website called “Boxed” that ships large quantities at discounted prices directly to your home. Maybe some of these will work for you and help you take advantage of the bigger is better sales!

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True Confession: About a few weeks into my “money-saving mission,” I started to get annoyed. I took longer to compare prices… and I wanted Barilla pasta instead of the much cheaper generic. I wondered how bad it would be if I went back to buying what I wanted at the grocery store. Of course, I knew how it would be….I couldn’t afford it.

 

That’s when God gave me a little blessing: Being faithful to do all the little things I needed to do to manage His money well, I put the generic pasta in my grocery order. When I picked it up, I was surprised by the blessing that they didn’t have generic pasta. Per their policy, they gave me BARILLA PASTA AT THE GENERIC PRICE. What a blessing!

 

That is one of the benefits I’ve found to grocery shopping online—when they don’t have a generic item, they give you a brand name item or a larger item at the price of the item you’ve ordered. That doesn’t happen inside the store—if they are out—you’re out of luck.

 

Walmart online pickup has also instituted a policy that it will ship items they don’t have in stock FOR FREE directly to your home with a $30 order. Again, this has allowed us to save a lot of money on sale items, larger bulk items, and items that were just out of stock.

 

The other benefits I’ve found to shopping online and picking up my groceries (besides the convenience) are digital coupons (coupons only available to online customers), and I’m never tempted to pick up “extra” items that I don’t need. (A big problem for me when walking through a store!)

 

Plus, every once in a while, you get an extra blessing—like brand-name pasta at generic prices.

 

So this week’s tip: Try online shopping, pick up your groceries, and STAY FAITHFUL!! You can do this!

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Why even bother doing a Frugal Friday tip on a holiday weekend?

 

Because there’s no better time to talk about taking advantage of holiday sales?

 

Here’s the deal: Because this is the last bash of summer, grocery stores will have “picnic” and “cookout” items on sale at ridiculously low prices. Ketchup, mustard, hot dogs, chicken, steaks, paper plates, and all kinds of soda and goodies will be on sale.

 

So when you’re out buying your supplies for the end of summer, think, “Can I use this in the Fall (uh, I hate the thought of that) as well? As I said before, these items can sit on my shelf as well as on their shelf, so why pay twice as much next week?

 

So when you’re out buying your supplies for the end of summer, think, “Can I use this in the Fall (uh, I hate the thought of that) as well???

 

Enjoy this weekend!

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Tip #9 Never Pay Full Price for Meat and Cheese

 

One of two of the biggest ticket items to increase with inflation has been meats and cheeses. But, these are also two things you can save the most money in your budget.

 

The best way to save money is to buy in bulk at a lower price and put it in the freezer.

 

For instance, a few weeks ago, the price of my favorite brand of mozzarella cheese that I use increased drastically. Instead of paying the usual $4 a pound, I was now paying $5.58.

 

I had two choices: either switch to generic cheese (which, in this case, wasn’t as good) or pay $1.50 more for an item I used regularly.

 

Instead, I searched for sales and found one of my favorite stores had a brand-name mozzarella cheese on sale for $3.99 a pound.

 

We bought 10 pounds of cheese and tossed them in the freezer. After a few hours of defrosting, it’ll be just like new. And I’ll be eating brand-name cheese at generic prices!

 

I do the same thing with meats. When a cut of meat I want goes on sale, I buy 25, 50, or even 100 pounds, depending on the savings. I take it home, wrap it in Freezer wrapping paper, and put it in the freezer. I get the meat I want at a price I can afford.

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Tip #10 Should I buy a cow?

 

This may sound like a funny question if you live in the city. However, one of the ways that many of my friends save money on their grocery bills is to purchase a whole or half cow or pig and have it butchered for meat. Growing up, my parents did this once a year.

 

While researching this tip, I talked to one of my friends who still does it yearly. Here’s how it works:

 

-You pay the weight of the cow alive. So you’re buying the cow as it weighs before it’s slaughtered. They paid $3.50 a pound, including the butcher’s fee.

-You can tell the butcher what cuts of meat you want. You can get roasts, steaks, soup bones, or ground beef. If you want more ground beef, you tell them that. No roasts, tell them.

-Some farmers will wrap the meat for you; others will require you to take it home and wrap it in freezer paper before freezing it.

My friend went in with several families and bought the cow together. She does it every year and loves it.

 

The question is: is this the right choice for you?

 

Well, it depends.


 

Is it necessary for you that your meat be organic?

 

This will be your cheapest option if you’re concerned about free-range, organic, or fresh from the farm.

 

The next significant factor is what cuts of meat you want. If you’re looking for steak—you can save BIG money. ($3.50 a pound instead of $9.99 a pound is HUGE!) If you’re particular about what cuts of meat you prefer or the tenderness of that meat, this may not be a good option for you. Talk to your butcher and see what’s available.

 

Do you have storage space? Buying a cow takes up a lot of space in your freezer. If you have the space, buying a cow might work for you.

 

But what if it doesn’t???

 

There’s still good news. Personally, buying a cow doesn’t work for my family—mostly because I’m picky. I’m not a huge fan of steak, I don’t like tough meat, and I like my hamburger ridiculously lean. (Some would say too lean for their taste.)

 

These are the reasons our family stopped buying cows.

 

Instead, I wait for sales on whole bottom rounds, a top-bottom round, or a bottom round flat.

 

These are portions of beef cut from the hind leg of the cow that can be ground into hamburger, cut into roasts, or even some sirloin steaks.

 

When one of these portions goes on sale, I buy 50 to 100 pounds. My local butcher cuts off a couple of roasts and grinds the rest into a 95% lean hamburger. I take it home and package it for freezing myself. In May, I paid $3.80 a pound for 100 pounds of top-quality, lean meat without buying a cow.

 

So should you buy a cow?

 

It depends on your situation.

 

Should you buy meat in bulk?

 

Absolutely! Whether it’s beef, pork, or chicken, buying meat at a lower price and freezing it will keep more money in your pocket! It’s worked for our family for 40 years and counting!

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True Confession: About a few weeks into my “money-saving mission,” I started to get annoyed. I took longer to compare prices… and I wanted Barilla pasta instead of the much cheaper generic. I wondered how bad it would be if I went back to buying what I wanted at the grocery store. Of course, I knew how it would be….I couldn’t afford it.

 

That’s when God gave me a little blessing: Being faithful to do all the little things I needed to do to manage His money well, I put the generic pasta in my grocery order. When I picked it up, I was surprised by the blessing that they didn’t have generic pasta. Per their policy, they gave me BARILLA PASTA AT THE GENERIC PRICE. What a blessing!

 

That is one of the benefits I’ve found to grocery shopping online—when they don’t have a generic item, they give you a brand name item or a larger item at the price of the item you’ve ordered. That doesn’t happen inside the store—if they are out—you’re out of luck.

 

Walmart online pickup has also instituted a policy that it will ship items they don’t have in stock FOR FREE directly to your home with a $30 order. Again, this has allowed us to save a lot of money on sale items, larger bulk items, and items that were just out of stock.

 

The other benefits I’ve found to shopping online and picking up my groceries (besides the convenience) are digital coupons (coupons only available to online customers), and I’m never tempted to pick up “extra” items that I don’t need. (A big problem for me when walking through a store!)

 

Plus, every once in a while, you get an extra blessing—like brand-name pasta at generic prices.

 

So this week’s tip: Try online shopping, pick up your groceries, and STAY FAITHFUL!! You can do this!

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Tip #12 Buy luxury items on sale

 

That’s this week’s tip: Buy luxury items on sale.

 

For instance, do we need Snapple peach tea?

 

No, but over the summer months it was a guilty pleasure. Instead of giving it up, when it went on a BOGI sale for $1.50 each we bought enough for the whole summer.

 

It’s also how I afford things like ice cream or the occasional t-bone steak.

 

This is how we allow ourselves little luxuries…only buy on sale and stock up if you can.

 

Do I get some weird looks in the checkout line? Well, yeah, but I just smile and say, “It’s on sale”. Most people understand. (Some even get take advantage of the sale themselves.

 

It not only saves a lot of money, it helps you feel less deprived as you manage your grocery money.


 

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This Week's Frugal Friday Tip: Read the Fine Print

 

“Sale!!!” The words stood out from the sign in bright red. Obviously, they were making such a fuss that this had to be the cheapest price for this item.

 

Only it wasn’t. It was a good price for the smallest version of this item. However, the larger quantity was way cheaper.

 

But how could you know that without using a calculator on every item? (Which, by the way, I am NOT doing—-I’m a busy lady!)

 

Look at the fine print. On almost every item, there is a “per quantity” cost. It may be per square foot, per ounce, or per pound. This is the price you want to compare.

 

Only it wasn’t. It was a good price for the smallest version of this item. However, the larger quantity was way cheaper. the cheapest price for this item. want to compare. -ounce bottle is 12 cents an ounce. That’s almost 40% off!!! So we buy bigger ketchup and save money! Save stuff in different packaging, but we save by reading the fine print!


 

Tip #14  Freeze Leftovers

Do you ever just get tired of cooking?

 

Me, too!!!

 

One way to get a day off once in a while that will also save you money is to freeze your leftovers.

 

Make too much or a roast? Put it in the freezer and eat it next month.

 

Don’t feel like eating that leftover lasagna that’s about to spoil? Wrap it in foil, put it in a freezer bag, and reheat it in two weeks.

 

If you’re living on a tight budget, don’t throw leftover food away. Instead, wrap it in foil, put it in a freezer bag or a ziplock container, and freeze it for another day.

 

I do this with chili all the time. My Dad doesn’t like it, and Jamie and I can’t eat a whole batch ourselves in one sitting. So, after we enjoy it, I put the rest in the freezer, and it makes a yummy, healthy lunch another day.

 

I get a break from cooking, and we don’t waste groceries. I told you, “A freezer is a girl’s best friend!”


 

Tip #15 You can save money buying less processed foods.

Chunk cheese is cheaper than shredded cheese.

A bag of carrots is less expensive than cleaned, shredded carrots.

The stores charge extra for the more convenient items because they pay someone to do the work for you. But when money gets tight, it is best to do these small tasks yourself, and put the money toward more food.


 

Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon.

Someone needs to hear this today! (Trust me, I need to hear it quite often!)

Just because something is on sale or you have a coupon doesn’t mean you have to buy it. This is something my Mom taught me.

I love a good coupon, but sometimes this is a problem. Honestly, it’s not usually groceries for me but household items or clothing. You know the scenario: you weren’t really planning on buying anything, but then an ad pops up on your phone or email.

The deal is AMAZING. Suddenly, you’re thinking about buying something you had no intention of buying a few minutes ago.

“But it’s on sale.”

That’s not the question, the question is, “Do you need it?”

“Would you buy it if it wasn’t on sale?”

Ouch. That one hurts.

However, it’s part of being wise with our money—we don’t have to take advantage of every sale. If you don’t need it, it’s not on sale. Resist temptation and walk away from the sale. Don’t buy things you wouldn’t ordinarily buy just to use your coupon. That isn’t saving money, it is spending extra money.

This includes free shipping—-don’t buy more just to get free shipping!! (This one is hard for me because I hate paying for shipping.). Still, buying $25 more stuff to save $5 in shipping, isn’t saving—it’s spending.


 

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Don’t go into debt for Christmas.

 

This year more than ever, we need to make this a rule while Christmas shopping: Do not go into debt for Christmas!

With the cost of food, fuel, electricity, heating costs, and interest rates rising higher and higher, it’s better to have a smaller Christmas than to go without necessities this winter or live under a mountain of stress in the New Year.

 

Jamie and I made this commitment years ago, and we refuse to put Christmas on a credit card every year.

 

How do you do it?

 

1. Start by creating a Christmas budget.

 

Ask yourself: How much money do I have to buy Christmas presents?

 

Be realistic. Only count the money you have in a Christmas savings account or that you know you can glean from any December discretionary funds without adding extra stress to your life. Once you have determined the sum of these two amounts, that’s how much you can spend—no more. These are your limitations, and the wise woman will stay within these boundaries.

 

2. Set your priorities.

 

When money is limited, you can’t buy everything or for everyone, you would like. Instead, prioritize the most important people (if you have kids, it’s probably them) and then prioritize which gifts you want to buy.

 

3. Finally, be a wise shopper and look for every way to stretch your pennies.

 

Do whatever you must to avoid the after-holiday hangover, keep the credit cards in your wallet, and only buy what you can afford.


 

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Remember: There’s nothing wrong with underwear.

Have you ever seen a comedy sketch where the child shakes every package under the tree, determining which presents are toys and which are underwear? It’s the stuff sitcoms are made of because we can all relate. We’ve all opened Christmas presents filled with socks, underwear, a much-needed sweater, or a bathrobe.

The truth is there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these gifts!

 

Even though advertisers have tried to convince us that Christmas needs to be filled with the newest video games, big-screen televisions, the latest electronics, and lots of bling for the ladies, the reality is that the average family budget cannot afford these things. It’s time that we went back to the old-fashioned ideas about Christmas, where people got one or two special things, and the rest of the gifts were things they needed. If your family needs underwear, then go ahead, and wrap up the underwear!


 

Makin' a list and checkin' it twice.

 

If you're really committed to celebrating Christmas without breaking the bank, the first step is making a list of all the people for whom you need to shop. Remember, there's a difference between people we need to shop for and people we want to shop for. If you're a single Mom, your kids are your top priority. Getting your priorities straight for staying out of debt this Christmas.

 

Once your list is made, go back over it and write down the amount of money you can spend on each person.

 

Now to the tricky part—how much can you spend and on whom? This is where each of us needs to look at our financials and determine our limitations and priorities. If you find yourself within very tight constraints, the best thing to do is make your immediate family your top priority.

 

There is nothing wrong with telling extended family, friends, and acquaintances that you will not be exchanging gifts this year due to financial limitations. Most people will not be offended if you tell them that you can only afford to buy gifts for your kids this year. Even if they are offended, it is more important that you stand by your commitment to following God's money-managing principles than participate in every gift exchange.

 

The key is being open and honest with people beforehand. Don't wait to tell them your plans until they've bought you a present.

 

Remember: just because you aren't exchanging gifts doesn't mean you're excluding these people from your holiday celebration. You could still send them a Christmas card, invite them over for dinner or dessert and coffee, or include them in a Christmas cookie exchange.

 

There are lots of ways to share the love over the holiday season without exchanging gifts.

 

Keep this in mind, and you'll feel less guilty about making cuts!

 

Yes, I know it isn't easy, but we all have limits to our budget. In a bad economy, we must be honest with selves and others, set our priorities, and stick to our plan.


 

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