Did you miss this Guest Post on Money Saving Mom about maximizing the interest rate on your savings/checking account? I caught some financial experts recently discussing how most Americans spend more time weekly planning their grocery list than they spend yearly on their overall financial picture. Maximizing the interest on your savings and checking is a great place to start.
I also have an ING savings account. We actually have one for our emergency fund (we keep $1000 in a savings account linked to our checking and the rest in ING), as well as an account that we deposit our property taxes into monthly. I was very skeptical of online savings but we have had this account for 2 years with no issues whatsoever. When we sold our house last year we had a substantial amount in ING while we shopped for our new house. The only issue with online accounts is that is can take up to 5 days to transfer funds into your checking. I have found transfers typically go through within 48-72 hours.
Contact me for a $25 referral bonus if you decide to open an ING account.
My freezer is my best friend. It pains me so much to throw food away and my dear friend, Frigidaire, is always saving me from (literally) throwing away money.
1. Meat: I buy almost all our meat on clearance at the grocery store. Since I never know what will await me when I shop and I usually have a menu plan prepared anyway- it all goes straight to the freezer. I save a small fortune on meat by shopping this way and I can ensure I always have something on hand for last minute meals. I haven’t paid more than .99 on bacon in who knows how long- since it is almost always on clearance at Safeway. Once I get home I cook the entire package and put it in freezer bags. It warms up extremely fast and stays crisp. I can add bacon to breakfast in the morning, pastas, burgers, sandwiches whatever in just a few seconds since it is already done. I do the same with lunch meat. I always find very high quality meats on sale at my store near expiration for .99 and if I have a coupon I can get it nearly free. Then I get home, separate a few pieces into sandwich bags label the front ham, turkey etc.. and put it all in a big Ziploc. It is much easier to cut when it is frozen and I can toss the meat into anything I am preparing. My husband makes sandwiches all the time with this meat without any problems and I can make paninis without even defrosting the meat.
2. Snacks: When bread is on sale (like the .99 sale this week at Safeway) I buy an extra loaf and make an entire loaf of pb&j sandwiches. They freeze beautifully and are a great quick grab for me on a busy day. Since I am a vegetarian this is a great way to get a little protein and is certainly healthier than hitting the drive thru. I have found they defrost in about 20 minutes so by the time I actually get my shoes on, wrestle the baby into the car and head out it is ready for me. (This is a great tip for mommies that pack school lunches too. I promise the bread is not soggy and they taste like they were made fresh that morning.) I also do a marathon baking session about once a month. Most recently I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins to use up my canned pumpkin and a bag of Bliss chocolate that was close to expiration. Just chop the Bliss up and you have chocolate chips. I use dark chocolate to make it a little healthier. Once they are completely cool, I put 2-4 muffins in sandwich bags and then all of the small bags into a freezer bag and Viola! you will never throw away yummy baked goods because you couldn’t eat 18 muffins in 2 days. These defrost perfectly and can also be reheated in the oven in minutes. If your yogurt is close to expiration, toss that in as well and defrost when you are ready for a smoothie.
(PB&J shelf is getting low! Yogurt on the left)
3 Produce: This is the worst for throw away and you are usually tossing the most expensive stuff you bought that week. I look for sales and stock up on veggies and fruit we love. Most recently I bought a ton of apples and red peppers at a great price. Both freeze beautifully- the peppers go in little baggies all chopped up. I top pizzas, add them to pasta, eggs- whatever. They cook in seconds. For the apples I had several that were starting to get mushy so I chopped them up and tossed them in a bowl with a little flour and sugar. Then I put them in freezer bags. These can be baked and added to ice cream or to top pancakes. My daughter LOVES these for dessert (just bake in a ramekin) on their own. I also made a little crumble topping inspired by Ina Garten- which also freezes- and I can make homemade apple crumbles in seconds.
If you need something from Barnes and Noble here is a 10% coupon. I signed up for the email list over Christmas and get these almost weekly so no rush unless you need something. I usually hold out for the 50% coupons and try to think of gift ideas.
Thanks to Heather for sharing this tip on how to get free panties at Aerie ($7.50 value) by signing up for their email list here.
These types of offers come along frequently and I don’t want to encourage anyone to hit the mall if you don’t need to. I usually take my toddler to the mall once every few weeks to play in the play area. I save up all these offers and we usually play about 30 minutes before the stores open. When I am ready to leave we quickly hit all the stores for the freebies and get out before temptation overwhelms me to buy things we don’t need. (Like Cinnabons).
If you missed these great mall freebies- it might not be too late:
I found an article on yahoo about Extreme Frugality hitting the masses. What do you think? Are you willing to go to extremes like the people profiled in this piece?
We are very conservative with our spending and shoestring budget would be an overstatement. Since I was just laid off at 7 1/2 months pregnant (and FYI- my unemployment claim is nearing the 8 week mark since they are so backlogged) right now we cut our grocery spending to $30/week. That includes dog food, diapers, 1 toddler and 2 adults. I regularly prepare 3 meals for dinner- one regular meal for my husband, one vegetarian version for myself and something nutritious and wholesome that is toddler friendly.
While I am not cutting my lotion bottles in half quite yet- we are cutting way back on how much we can stockpile. I had found that the hardest part for a new couponer is learning to say no to deals. I did two transactions last week at Walgreens to get diapers and wipes. I could have done several more but frankly I didn’t want the bother of all those register rewards. Did I miss a great deal? Yes! Did I stick to my weekly budget? Yes! The important thing to understand is that most deals will come back around. You can’t possibly chase every bargain and stay on a budget- especially when rebates can often take weeks to get back. In the meantime, you have seriously overspent in an effort to save.
We were already pretty frugal but what this cut in pay had really taught us is to prioritize. It is so tempting to chase every deal out there- especially since it seems the deals are getting a little harder to come by. But in the long run it is way more important that we do everything we can to avoid touching our savings than scoring the best possible price on diapers.
I am also having a lot of fun challenging myself to use my MBA to get really creative with our budget. Since I knew this was going to be the week of diapers (at Wags and Raley’s) I posted five packs of Walgreens brand diapers last week on Craigslist. I sold all 5 for $15 total. A good deal? Yes. But considering I got them all free several months ago I didn’t feel too badly. Those diapers leaked like crazy and gave my daughter diaper rash so using the $15 I earned and coupons- I was able to essentially trade those diapers for 2 packs of Pampers, 2 packs of Huggies and a big bag of wipes. Not a bad deal.