so i blogged a while ago about how difficult it was to really save money. my friend judgmentlhippy was kind enough to let me tag along with her on a farmers market/whole foods shopping trip. to say i learned a lot is an understatement. (one thing i learned is that whole foods has the BEST coconut Popsicles ever!!)
i also got a lot of great tips from my face book friends about saving money (special thanks to misty for letting me borrow her 'tightwad gazette' compilation). so between face book, field trips, Internet sites, and back issues of mother earth news from the library, i have a nice little system going. let me share....
1. farmers markets are your friend. look past the tomatoes, there's a huge amount of reasonably priced (read cheap) produce that's out there, and it's usually all locally grown (be sure to ask). good for you, good for the local farmer, good for the environment.
2. better yet, grow it yourself. plant a huge garden, more than you think you'll need. what you don't eat fresh you can dry, freeze, or can for later use. growing your own food is the cheapest option out there... it's just the cost of the seeds. (and canning equipment for using up your overstock)
3. when at the grocery store.... coupons! be sure though that the store brand isn't still cheaper. also, shop the perimeter of the store unless you absolutely need something from the middle.
4. speaking of the grocery store, buy ingredients, not food. it's cheaper in the long run to buy flour, yeast, and salt than it is to buy a loaf of bread. yeah, the bread might be a buck, while the ingredients are three, but you'll get more than three loaves of bread out of it, and it's fresher. trust me, make your own bread, and the stuff you buy from the store will never do again.
5. make what you can. thanks to my friend the Internet, i now make my own laundry soap and dishwasher detergent. i also on a fairly regular basis make my own yogurt (which you already know) and cheese (more of an art than a science, still working on it). spice mixes, clothes, katsup, mayo, soap, home repairs..... the list of things you can do yourself is literally endless. and the best part is that you control what goes into the stuff you make. you are deciding exactly what goes into and on your body and the bodies of the ones you love.
6. decide if you really need it. yes, that pair of shoes/tshirt/ipod is really cool, but do you need it? want it, yes. need it, probably not.
7. have a goal. long term, short term, whatever. give yourself something to save FOR. it could be something short term like whatever you denied yourself in #6. long term like buying land. or even ongoing like being a stay at home mom.
8. make friends and (this is going to sound so bad) use them. i have a friend, several actually, that has chickens. i know that if i needed to i could call her up and get some eggs. haven't yet, but i could. i have another friend that makes his own candles and incense. i bought and bartered with him (till he taught me to make them myself). start your own little network of usefulness and use it. **this is NOT an excuse to be a huge mooch. you have to give as good as you get. if someone gives you something, be prepared to reciprocate in some way. money, stuff, time... whatever. even if the person doesn't take what you are offering ... still offer**
9. the Internet. if you ever wanted how to learn how to make or find anything, here's where you go. recipe for katsup? got it. how to make a cold frame? it's there. i even found a website that tells you how to make your own frappachino. (sorry Starbucks, you're dead to me) and don't get me started on the awesomeness of craigslist. the free section alone is worth it's weight in gold. but act fast to snag the good stuff. just type what you're looking for in any search engine, and away you go.
10. have a good support system. if you're saving for a goal, make sure it's everyone goal. and i have to give my man a lot of credit, i wouldn't be able to do even a quarter of the things on this list if the hubs wasn't behind me on this. he's gone, in a very short amount of time, from having a disposable income for nights out and toys and xbox games, to having home made bread, laundry soap and cloth diapers. (he's drawn the line at bees though. I'm working on wearing him down)
that's the awesomeness i've learned so far. feel free to give me any more tips!
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