The Frugal Basics – Convenience Costs!
Guest Post By Sally Pyle (aka Frugal Sally)
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.
This is what I learned about convenience
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 own 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.
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.
Saving In The Kichen
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 own 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!!
When I cook a meal, I make twice as much, split into 2 or 3 meals and freeze them. Tuh-Duh, 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!!
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. 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.
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 own carpet cleaner to clean my carpets. I will 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.
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.
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.
I can tell you that because our being debt free, the cruise to Mexico we took, the trip to Disney with our granddaughter, amongst 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?”
A Bit About Our Guest Poster
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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