Bending over backwards to try and save money? (Haha I am so clever) Sticking to a budget can be made a little less painful with these simple tips. Some of these I have already posted on, and a few others are completely new. And the more money you save? The more money you can spend on food! Who doesn’t want to do that? I certainly do.
#1) Dried foods by the pound
How would you like a healthy and nutritious lunch, every day of the week, for roughly $5? No, no, no, I don’t mean $5 a day, I mean $5 for the WHOLE WEEK. Or how about a heart healthy breakfast for about $6 a month and the only additional cost would be condiments? Um… YEAH. There is no way I could even attempt my current budget without the wonderfulness that is dried foods. More details here.
#2) Online shopping for supplements and shaving needs
If you know you are going to need it and when, you can save 50% or more by switching to online buying. No seriously. I spend $35 a year on razors, and I save 50% from what I would pay at Safeway for supplements and wax. All of the extra money I save goes into smoothies and more organic food goodness! More details here.
#3) Eat what others won’t
It may take more time and energy, or perhaps you don’t even like it, but whatever is easier to grow locally will be cheaper. Long leaf green kale or mustard greens are cheap because they have such a strong taste/are easy to grow. Don’t let that deter you. Long leaf non baby greens are super good for you, and can taste good if you learn how to prepare them. Grapefruit for me is cheap here, and while I didn’t originally like it, I learned to because of the price differential. Something in your yard that is good for you too? Dandelion greens. Who would have thought? Eating efficiently on a budget is all about seeing what is available, and then planning your weekly menu based on that. The more you don’t go to the grocery store with an agenda, the more you are inclined to save. More details here.
#4) Reuse and Recycle
I never buy plastic bags, tupperware, or spend more than $6 on a T-shirt. Why? I recycle. For tupperware I end up using the packaging a lot of my food comes in already, like yogurt containers. Sure it wears out sooner or later, but then if you are buying yogurt every week, you can always just replace it. Second, why buy plastic bags when all your bulk food comes in them anyway? And what does all of your groceries come in? (Paper or plastic? Plastic please!) I just take the beans I buy, dump them in a labeled yogurt container, and then use the bag for trash, snacks on the go, or anything that I need a plastic bag for. You should NEVER have to spend $3-$5 on trash bags. Finally, I’ve found all the upscale resale stores in my area. Snooty people always go shopping, wear something twice, and then donate it. Why not make use of that fact? Sometimes, you can find a nice little storage container for a few bucks, if you want something fancier than an organic yogurt container.
#5) Repairing bras
Bras are one thing I don’t resale shop for, which means any new bra is a major purchase. I used to throw my bras out whenever the underwire started popping out. Turns out that there are numerous ways to fix this, from moleskin and glue , to a fabric scrap and a little bit of out of practice sowing skills.
Furthermore, if the hooks in the back start going? There is a way to fix that too! You can actually just buy the hooks themselves, and the installing of them in simple and straightforward. I’ve installed this one a year ago, and it has saved my bra. That means by buying a $2 or less hook, I just saved myself $30-$50.
#6) Not caring about Fat (efficient versus inefficient eating)
So as athletes, we need to eat a crap ton of food. And as budgeting girls, we need to buy as little food as possible. Thus, we need to throw out any ideas of buying low fat this or no fat that. In order to consume calories and save money and not eat bales of freaking kale, we need to unlearn inefficient eating, and learn efficient eating. It may go against the grain of what we have been taught as women, but you want to maximize the number of calories per cup of food, not the opposite. More details here.
#7) Turning the daily commute into a workout
Most of the week I run or bike to work. Not only is this time efficient, but by running off of person power I save on gas. To and from work would coast me about $2 in gas, so every time I run or bike? I save!
#8) Growing a Garden
I don’t care how small of a space you have, or how little time, you can invest in tomatoes and spices. Fresh basil is delicious, and horribly pricey organic. A baby basil costs $2 or so, and with that paid you could have fresh basil for the rest of your life. I grow tomatoes, basil, and thyme (one pepper, but it hasn’t paid out yet) and I spend about 2 minutes a day spraying all of them with the garden hose. On the weekends I spend about 5 minutes weeding. For this small exchange, I get a steady exchange of fresh, organic tomatoes and basil and thyme. Want to save even more money? Organic collard greens are one of the easiest things to grow. If you grow your own, you could have virtually free vegetables for most of the summer. I plan on doing that next year. Even paying $3.50/week for organic veggies could be better spent elsewhere!
#9) Living small with windows open
How much space do you really need? If you are serious about your budget, and living flexible, you may consider downsizing. I’ve moved into a 205 square foot apartment, and actually don’t miss the loss of space. With a little do it myself hanging closet (strung up some wooden dowels from the ceiling) I have a place for everything I could want. The only complication comes with visiting boyfriends and separate wake up times, but I think he would agree (being the financial mastermind of this pair) that the inconvenience is worth it. The second thing is to get rid of that air conditioner! If I can do it at 100 degrees, you can do it too. There is an adjustment period, but soon you’ll find yourself happily walking around while your sweating friends hide and sweat inside. People have been doing it since they evolved. We started out in Africa of all places! You can heat adapt too. Just stay hydrated during the process.
Remember in college when you pounced on every sale and every offer of free pizza, extra fruit from someone’s garden, or the break room’s donation of donuts? You were a creature of opportunity, and it is time to bring that back. There is no shame in being a free food disposal. You fill a much needed role! I have sometimes been in possession of too many cookies, or too much kale. I feel much better when I can foist them off on someone. So put yourself in the position to be that person so NOT inconvenienced, however you can most tactfully do so. You’ll be amazed at the food savings you’ll reap as a benefit. One day I not only got three free plums, but a donut too!
This week in Updates:
No receipt this week, because I’m flying to visit the relatives for a family reunion. Another reason I use all these top ten reasons to save? Because I need the money to see people I love and care about. When you look at it like that, all these sacrifices really aren’t quite so bad. Always remember why you are saving in the first place, and make sure that what you gain is far more important to you than what you lose. Furthermore, perhaps in making a few sacrifices you’ll find out that they weren’t such sacrifices after all? That maybe you’ll gain something from ditching you air condition and opening a window, or starting your own garden. I did.
I am also reading a really interesting book entitled The Third Plate. It is making me reconsider a lot of my eating and buying habits. One of my favorite quotes so far is:
“….we understand that eating ‘is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.’” (Pg. 11)
The Recipe: Tomato Pesto Eggs
To celebrate my first tomato of the season, I thought I would celebrate with this delicious ad protein filled lunch. It didn’t turn out as pretty as I would have liked, being in a rush to catch my flight, but it was certainly delicious! If you wanted to be extra fancy you could use mozzarella, but the cottage cheese turns out to be just as creamy, and has a much higher nutritional content.
¼ cup cottage cheese
1 sprig basil
1 small tomato
Thyme, salt, and pepper to taste
A hand full of collards or lettuce if you so desire
Cut up spices and tomato. Saute up the greens, and in a separate container beat eggs with cottage cheese and spices. Pour over sauted greens then drop in tomato pieces so that they are evenly spaced. Cook, then enjoy!