The Frugal Basics-Convenience Costs!



I’ve been taught many lessons on how to be a frugal girl, but one of the biggest lessons that I learned on my own was that convenience costs. 

It costs big time and living frugally has improved my belief in keeping it simple.  Anytime you make it easier and quicker, it also makes it more expensive. Have you seen the price of food?

Manufacturers are cashing in on our laziness and that we have next to little time these days. I’m  often asked “How do you save money” and my mind races with ideas to share.

I’ve figured out for myself that if I spend a little time each day I have off work I can do things that save me a good bit of money. Not a little, but over time a lot. It also saves me time in the long run because if I think far enough ahead, I don’t have to make these things again for a while.


Convenience 101- What I’ve Learned


Making My Own Cleaners

By the time you clip your coupons, look for sales, run to the store (or several stores) and then get home unpack and eventually use your product, I have already made up several bottles of all-purpose cleaner for about $.02 a bottle.  Maybe it took me less than 3 minutes to make it….how convenient was yours?

Here is one recipe that is for an All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach

  • 1 Empty and Rinsed-Out Empty Plastic Spray Bottle
  • 1/4 Cup Bleach
  • 1 Teaspoon Laundry Detergent (use homemade)
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with Water and Shake

I also make my laundry detergent which takes me less than 1 hour and it makes 5 gallons of detergent. This 5 gallons of home-made detergent lasts me for months.

  • How long did it take you to go through that $5.00 bottle of 32 uses

Mine cost about $.04 per load…your’s was about $.16 per load.


How to make homemade laundry detergent



  • — Water
  • — 1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, Grated
  • — 5 Gallon Bucket
  • — 1 Cup Washing Soda
  • — 4 1/2 Gallons Water
  • Place grated soap in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat on low until dissolved.
  • Fill bucket with hot water, and add soap.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Add 1 cup washing soda and mix well. As it cools it will thicken. May be used immediately.
  • Use 1-2 cups per load.

You can find this type of recipe on many sites on-line especially on Pinterest.


Saving In The Kitchen


Another place I save is in the kitchen. Sure it is convenient to pull a store-bought frozen meal from the freezer. Whip open the hamburg helper meal mix in a box. Call the pizza delivery for dinner. What I have learned is that by cooking ahead I can have my meals ready in the freezer for when I’m too tired to cook.

I can make up my burger helper mixes, taco mixes at a fraction of the price. I can cook double and triple batches to split into several meals for later days. It really is all about thinking ahead with a little frugal meal planning.

  • How much time do you think you spend cooking dinner every night?
  • How much money do you spend when you call for that pizza or go out to eat because there is nothing to make at home?

It adds up, believe me!

Did you know you could make your own pizza for about half the cost and it would probably be ready in the same amount of time it takes the delivery driver to get there.  And no tipping!!

Related: Homemade Pizza better than take-out

When I cook a meal I make twice as much split into 2 or 3 meals and freeze them. Ta Da, I have just made 2 freezer meals for later in the next week or so. Same amount of time to cook one. Saved money because cooking in bulk is usually always cheaper and I save on utilities. I also saved myself from cooking for another night or two because now it is just “heat and eat”.

This cuts down on waste because you are making the meals the right size for you family and not putting them aside in the fridge hoping someone will eat the leftovers just to throw them away.  It also helps to cut back on having the same thing night after night until it’s gone.

I also make homemade convenience food meals. I make them up assembly line style. Last week I made up 12 packages of Hamburger Helper type meals. Not only are they cheaper to make, but they are an alternative to the box so a healthy convenience  food. They contain less sodium and fresher ingredients!

The pantry served guests and the family.

The pantry served guests and the family. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also make a day out of cooking to make healthy freezer meals.  I plan my menu around sale items, what I have in my pantry and the freezer. I cook for several hours but I make up to 20 meals on some days, enough freezer meals for a month.

My plan is to always stock my freezer and then when I’m tired or after work, it is pop it in the oven and dinner is done. Most of my freezer meal recipe portions run about $4.00 each meal and that feeds 2 of us, plus we usually have enough left over for someone to take to lunch.

I skip the services that make it easier and save big. There are a bunch of services that will make your life easier, but I’m just not willing to part with my money when it is something I can do myself.


 Cleaning costs


I can clean and iron my own shirts.  At the cost of nearly $3.00 per shirt at the laundry I think I will save the $15.00 a week to do it myself.  My husband has to wear dress shirts to work. Many of the other wives pay to have them cleaned and pressed.  I think I can spare 15 minutes of my time to press 5 shirts and save the $1.00 per minute that it took me to do it.

Sometimes with an investment up front, it pays for itself in the long run.  I have my carpet cleaner to clean my carpets instead of renting one. I will also not pay someone $100 to clean my carpet when I can do it for about $8.00. My carpet cleaner paid for itself the first time I used it. I can not tell you how many times I’ve cleaned my carpet saving me thousands (literally) over the years.


Home Hair Cuts


I cut my husbands hair as I thought it was a simple way of saving money.  Sure it is more convenient for him to go pay $12.00+ at the barber shop, but I can do it for free.


 Cut your grocery bill


Learn everything you need to know about frugal grocery shopping by reading my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide but remember that all conveniences do cost more than you think.

It is convenient to run to the store and pay full price for groceries that aren’t on sale or without coupons.  Take the time to at least make a menu from the sales and base your dinners around sale items.

Clip coupons or use printable grocery coupons from on-line sources and use them on top of sale prices.  Stockpile some good pantry items when they are on sale so you have them on hand for cooking.

Check your pantry before buying what you already have on hand. I save almost half on my grocery bill every week by doing this. Last week it was a $56.00 savings in my budget. I think a little inconvenience here paid off. To me that was like making $56.00 per hour for my time.


Other tips to save money


My dog is on a special diet because she is older and has problems with digestion. I could buy her food at nearly $8.00 a can or I could make 16 to 20 servings for about that price. It takes me an hour or two to make homemade dog food (it is easy, but waiting for it to cool and separating it takes time). That is a savings to me of about $140.00!!  I think I will be inconvenienced for that savings.

I am also learning how to do my own dog grooming so I won’t have to pay for that either from a professional dog groomer. I’m afraid to groom her on my own, but it will save me about $45.00 every 8 weeks or so.

So you see by just these few examples that convenience really isn’t all that convenient and it may save you some hassle but it isn’t really saving you time. It sure isn’t saving you money. I will do all these things because I know it helps.

Disney pincess

Disney princess (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can tell you that because our being debt free, the cruise to Mexico we took, the trip to Disney with our granddaughter, among other things we can now do in life (and pay cash for it) shows it helps.

The money we are saving now from all this effort will also help us in our retirement that we are working for.

You may need to cut corners to make ends meet. You may want to save on these things for the extras you want in life. You may want to do this for your future. For the price of convenience you have to ask yourself “is it worth it?”


Contribution Post:

Frugal Sally is from Georgia, United States.  It is my mission to save money and help others do the same. I started all this with that in mind. To go beyond things like couponing and shopping sales to digging deeper to save every cent I can. This is for people who think in dollars and “sense”. My grandmother, who survived the Depression, taught me to “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

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  1. I’m always a fan of Sally’s posts. I’ve learned a lot from her. Thanks for sharing this one.

  2. Cynthia says:

    I wanted to make a recipe yesterday, so I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the bus stop and bought a bag of butterscotch chips. $3.39 for one bag! It will make the recipe twice ( that is how I justified it) I usually buy the years supply of chips at holiday time when they are lower priced and their are lots of coupons available. It was not frugal at all. We discovered home made dog food recently. My dogs love it!

  3. I buy very few convenience/pre-packaged food products. One of the convenience foods that I have just recently stopped purchasing is tortllas, I found a very easy recipe and now I make my own. It does take a little more time when making a meal, but you can’t beat the taste of freshly made tortillas, so much better than the store bought ones. I make a home-cooked meal from scratch pretty much every night during the week and we rarely eat out. I love my slowcooker for making weeknight meals. My one pre-packaged slpurge is Delissio pizza. I’m too tired to cook a homemade meal on Friday nights, but we cannot afford to eat out, so my compromise is to purchase a Delissio pizza (or another brand if Delissio isn’t on sale). It’s usually $5.99 and is enough for 2 meals. Wow, you are a brave woman to do your own dog grooming! I tried once and it was a disaster, luckily our dog only needs to go to the groomer about 3 times a year, which is still a cost of $120. Our dog is also an older dog with severe food allergies and her special food costs us approximately $420/year. We did try making our own food a couple of years back but she wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I don’t think hubby would be able to go out in public if I were to cut his hair, but good for you taking on that challenge as well!

    • Oh Pam, you and your Delissio… I’m going to challenge you this year to make your own pizza!! Check out my recipe on the blog. We also make our own tortillas which I have a recipe for here as well… it’s much cheaper and so easy to make!

  4. Thanks for the link back to my Hamburger Helper Kits! I wondered where all the extra traffic was coming from and it was your wonderful readers! Great article all the way around, get’s everyone thinking! Thanks again.
    Jan @

    • Thanks Jan for popping in and checking out the guest post from Frugal Sally. She is the one who posted the links in her article she wrote for me here at Canadian Budget Binder! Cheers Mate… Mr.CBB

    • Jan, I love your Hamburger Helper recipes. I make them up assembly style and put them in the pantry for when I need a meal in a pinch. I’m love them so much I had to share them on here.

  5. for all the comments on here both postive and negative….what sally is suggesting are alternative ways for all of us to save time and money….i find the negative comments by one person unfair to her. she is merely giving you suggestions to save you time and money…and offering you healthier alternatives for things such as the hamburger helper….i have been a fan of hers forever and she is so smart and money conscience and believe you me she practices what she preaches….she puts the information out there and it is up to us whether or not we choose to use it….i know her personally and i can promise you everthing you read from her she is truly doing…i wish i could be as savy as her when it comes to saving time and money….i always tell her she is my go to person for everything….so glad for this post and i hope she gets lots of new fans on her page, i promise you will learn something new everyday from her 🙂

  6. Great tips!!!!!! Would love to try the laundry soap and homemade cleaner! What’s washing soda???

    • I’m not sure myself maybe BORAX… I’m sure Sally will be checking in on all the comments here and responding to them …. I’ve been using vinegar and water for alot now as well instead of buying cleaners. Cheers Mr.CBB

      • Washing Soda (I use the one made by Arm and Hammer) is a detergent booster. Not Borax – that is the other ingredient to making your detergent. I usually find them side by side on the shelf in the laundry section of the grocery store. I don’t know about in Canada though. If you can’t find it up there, you may try Amazon…they sell it there. I know they sell it at Wal-Mart here in the states. Or maybe you can have your grocery store order it for you.
        Make sure they don’t try to sell you baking soda….it’s not the same.

  7. Samantha Billings says:

    I found that the part about making meals even “convenience” meals at homes very helpful and i plan on doing just what she suggests. THANKS A BUNCH!!!

  8. patti townsend says:

    Love making quick, homemade meals instead of getting take out! saves tons of cash and tastes better! all great ideas, some that Im still trying to get use to the idea of (like homemade laundry soap… no idea why I cant seem to get onboard with this! )

    • Hey Patti,
      A mate of my wife makes her own laundry soap as well in big buckets. She is just young in her 20’s and says it saves her so much money and the clothes are just as clean and smell fresh. We have over 95 jugs of laundry soap, maybe once our stockpile dwindles we may consider it. Cheers Mr>CBB

  9. great post!! would love to know how you make the homemade dog food? maybe i missed the link? i really want to learn/do the freeze meals ahead of time! im going back from mat leave in two months and hoping to accomplish a lot of that to make the transition smooth and continue from there on in 🙂 thanks for the great info!

  10. The post talks about making your own dog food. I would LOVE to learn how! Can you point me to a recipe or directions?

  11. Some great tips! Thanks for the article! I wish I had enough time to do everything! lol

  12. Joanna Cheevers says:

    Some great tips. I try once in a while to make large batches meals and freeze to use during the week. Only problem is that I don’t have a very big freezer. I will admit to using convienence foods as a single parent that is at work 9 hours during the day it makes things easier. I could however do more prep work during the weekends as Sally mentions. Will keep these ideas in mind and will check out the facebook page. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sometimes there’s only so much time in the day but if we have a goal in mind we can do it. We always make big batches as well especially pasta sauce. Saves time and money on the utility bills so we are not cooking for long lengths of time 2x. Cheers Joanna! Mr.CBB

    • I understand the need for convenience with busy work loads and children. I’m just suggesting that with a little advance work it will save you money. I don’t have a thing against convenience, just that it tends to cost more. It is just a way to save some money or to maybe even make it a little healthier also. I have learned that it is actually more convenient for me to plan ahead and do things in advance when I do have the time as opposed to trying to get things done when I’m swamped with other things in my life. Believe me that preparing ahead will make it so easy on you that you will wonder why you didn’t do it before.
      Look in your freezer and try to use the things in there that are just taking up space. I know I tend to have things in there that have been there for a while. Use them up and then you may have room to stack things or lay zip-lock type bags flat to freeze.

      • Joanna Cheevers says:

        Thanks for the reply Sally, I appreciate it. Just became a fan of your facebook page so hopefully will pick up a lot more tips!

  13. i love your tips and ideas,i always do my dogs hair cuts,and often use hambuger helper as a base for my meal i like to add veg and make them more cheeseier and also use them to make baked casaroles

    • Thanks for your comment Laura. I don’t cut my dogs hair but I did ask a groomer once and he told me $55 for a cut. I said, forget it… I clip his nails, and trim his hair on me own. Cheers Mr.CBB

    • Canadian Performer's Money says:

      The post says not to use hamburger helper (it’s too expensive??!!) If you click on the link she shows you how to make your own.

      • Cheers Mate for pointing that out… Myself I’m not a fan of the stuff but if making it is cheaper and healthier than the box I’d say go for it!

      • I didn’t say don’t use it. I said I make my own. I can do it assembly line style and make about 12 dinners for about $5. (not counting the meat). They are healthier and have less preservatives and a lot less sodium. They taste better and I can reuse what I package them in to make more. Hamburger Helper is cheap enough, but it is cheaper to make your own. It is also the fact that making your own ahead of time (taking the time to make it) saves you time later down the road. So basically you are paying for someone to do something for you that in about 10 minutes you can do yourself and save some too.

  14. Canadian Performer's Money says:

    While I agree that we pay more for convenience, I find this post a bit misleading.

    Instead of “clipping coupons, looking for sales and running around to several stores” she makes her soap at home for pennies. But she uses bleach and Fels Naptha Soap. Where did these products come from? The bleach fairy? Didn’t she have to “clip coupons, look for sales and run to several stores” to buy her bleach and Naptha natural soap?

    I have never found laundry soap to be an issue. I grab a jug at Costco for $20 once every 6 months and forget about it.

    • I’ll let her answer that….Thanks for your comment. Mr.CBB

    • I don’t run around looking for bleach and clipping coupons for it since I use a generic store brand. Unfortunately you can’t make your own base products such as borax, washing soda, Fels Naptha (or you can use any bar soap). You will have to go to a store to buy it. I buy it once and it will literally last me for many months. It saves me hand over fist to make my own. Yes, I have to buy the base products, but then again you have to go to the store anyway. I just don’t have to go just to buy laundry detergent. Mine (a 5 gallon bucket full) lasts for months, then I have plenty of supplies to make more. One trip to get supplies will make enough laundry detergent to last me about a year. A years (maybe more) worth of laundry detergent for less than $20 total. I think I’ll keep doing this.

  15. these are great i’d love to learn more!!!!

  16. Melissa says:

    I would love to make my own laundry and dish soap, but so far “washing soda” has eluded me in the stores. Id also love to get a pile of freezer meals ready, Im home all day but sometimes after chasing the baby all day pulling together a great meal isnt on my to-do list! But if saving here and there is whats going to get me to Disney then so be it!

    • Thanks for your comment Melissa… and if Disney is your Goal, set down some guidelines on how to achieve that goal. Research the cost involved so you know exactly how much you need to save in your budget. Your kids will love it.. the Mrs.. went and she said it were pretty cool and she was an adult when she went lol…Cheers and thanks for commenting. Mr>CBB

      • Melissa says:

        Dont you worry, I am *forever* looking up costs,comparing flights and locations to stay and etc. My parents took us kids ages ago, went when I was 27 with just my mom and in 2010 went with my parents, inlaws,hubby and step son. now the littlest one needs to go 🙂 Under 3 = still free into the parks 🙂

    • If you can’t find washing soda in your stores. Try an on-line source such as Amazon. They sell it on there, and I’m sure other sources do to. Freezer cooking is as simple as cooking a double batch of what you are already cooking. Eat one for dinner and freeze one for another night. If you do that for a week or two every time you cook – you will have a couple of weeks worth of food built up in the freezer.

      • Melissa says:

        I think Im going to have to get myself a 2nd freezer 🙂 And yeah, ive tried Walmart and all the bigger box grocery stores with no luck in the washing soda department, Ive got some money stashed on and .com from Superpoints and that sorta thing so maybe ill use that to buy it. Yay free washing soda 🙂

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