I am sitting here from gorgeous Ouray, Colorado. If you can imagine white cap mountains, fresh air blowing into our RV, and birds singing the songs of spring (Colorado had a loooong winter this year). And although it’s gorgeous outside, I still have two businesses to run and stuff to get done! But this is beauty of my fulltime freedom – I get to work AND enjoy the beautiful US.
But this doesn’t come easy, Kris and I had to work our tails off to get out of debt, create a healthy savings, and live within our minimal means every. single. day. This is the key to our success. So today I decided to talk a little more about how we live within our means especially the little things we do to save money. All of this starts with becoming more aware of what money is coming in and what money is going out. Once you get a good grasp on these numbers, it’s so much more efficient to set actionable steps to the goals you want.
Let me know in the comments, which one was your favorite!
1. Shop the manager’s specials.
This is by far my favorite tip. I absolutely love to shop the manager’s specials or clearance items. Not all grocery stores offer this but I know for a fact Kroger and it’s subsidiaries like Fred Meyer, Smiths, Ralphs, King Soopers, etc offer these specials. I have seen Walmart offer marked down goods, but Kroger is so much better in my humble opinion. These items usually go on manager’s specials for a few reasons: close to the expiration date, overstock, packaging is damaged, holiday has passed, etc.
When I go grocery shopping I usually have my list of our standard veggies and fruits, but I always keep in mind to be flexible with our meals just in case I find a few items on manager’s specials. Some of my favorite manager’s specials are precut veggies for a fraction of the original price –
this saves me time (chopping) and money (whoo!).
With precut veggies, you can make all kinds of things. Some of my go-to recipes are curry, stir fry, sauté all of the things, and quiche. These are all pretty simple recipes that can include many different veggie combinations. For fruit, if I am going to bake an apple crisp I will look in the fruit section for a bag of reduced apples.
A few tips: Always check your fruits and veggies for rot. You are still paying for this item, so make sure it’s edible! I have seen this with salad in the past – check the bottom of the plastic container to be sure there isn’t a lot of water. When you buy a manger’s special item, this usually means you need to cook it or eat it within the next couple of days. Make your own judgment call so you don’t waste any food or money. Also be sure to check any meat or dairy dates for the same reasons.
2. Use it up.
One of my favorite buys from “Mother Costco” is their $5.99 rotisserie chickens. No matter what after we are done with the chicken I make stock from the bones. It’s delicious and flavorful and we get to enjoy the chicken meat and it’s bone broth. As Kris’ grandmother says “waste not, want not” – she’s the best!
What are some other things in your home, you can use twice?
A few tips: If you don’t feel like making the stock immediately after you finish it, throw that carcass in the freezer. Just don’t forget about it and start accumulating freezer clutter.
3. Cut it up.
Before you throw away any bottle – cut it up! How many times have you thrown away a bottle of say mustard or lotion with product lining the inside of the bottle? Well, my fellow frugals, go buy a tiny silicon spatula like this one to get all of the product out of the bottle. I only have one of these for both cleaning out my bottles and for cooking. If you use it on a lotion bottle, please wash the darn thing before you cook with it – lol. And don’t use this spatula on any harmful chemicals. Oh the disclaimers! 😉 If you can’t get the spatula through the top, then cut the bottle (or tube like toothpaste) in half. And use up the rest on the sides and bottle of the bottom. You will be so surprised how much product is left!
A few tips: Be sure to cut the bottle near the bottom of the so your fingers can reach inside. If you live in a dry climate you don’t want your lotion to dry out. Simply, keep the top and squeeze it so it fits back within the bottle portion. See my video for an example.
4. Use your library.
Especially if you are a digital nomad or full time traveler, this tip is for you! I don’t have the room to carry tons of books or DVDs with me, and as a minimalist I don’t want to carry that much stuff. So I have a library card from my local library back in Texas. Through that library I am able to rent out their digital books and movies for free. I just download them onto my Kindle for the time period they loan it to me.
A few tips: Especially as we travel to different cities, I enjoy visiting the city’s public library. It offers a new space to work, pretty good wifi, and some human interaction. A few libraries I have visited will allow you to borrow books as a guest. Sometimes I just really enjoy holding and smelling a real book (no offense, I still love you Kindle). I usually have to pay a $20 deposit (so I don’t steal the books I borrow), and then when I return the books they give me a refund.
5. Shop your home first.
Take a look around your house or RV before you purchase something and see if you can reuse it.
I see you, you little bottle of lotion I bought ages ago. You were accidently shoved to the back of the cabinet so I forgot about you. And now you just sit there collecting dust.
Trust me on this one, go take a look at any cabinet (pantry, bathroom sink, linen closet) and see if you have multiples of anything. Make it a goal to go through every product before you buy a new product. For example, when I sold all of our belongings and moved into an RV back in 2017 I had boxes and boxes of hotel soaps from Kris’ travel days. To this day, I have not had to buy a single bar of soap. I am determined to use every single one until they are gone. All of the soaps are nicely organized in one box in our tiny rv bathroom so I know exactly where they are.
There are so many positive things about using up what is in your home first:
- You are decluttering but not being wasteful.
- You are saving money by not double buying things you already own.
- This will help you stay organized by keeping track of 1 bottle instead of 4 bottles of clutter.
- Minimalism is to only have the essentials around, so think about what you use on the daily and only keep those around.
When you are 1-2 weeks within finishing something, then you add it to your grocery list. And if you are a couponer, you can search for a coupon for this exact item.
Again, my philosophy is when you make small money saving changes in your everyday behaviors, those small changes eventually become big results. Also when you don’t deprive yourself of the things you love, you won’t think of this as work or a burden. For example, I am not saying to stop reading books or renting DVDs, I am saying take advantage of free resources and use your public library. And when you don’t think of getting out of debt or saving money as a burden, it’ll become a habit. And once money saving becomes a habit, then you can have the freedom to choose what you want to do with your money!
If you haven’t already let me know in the comments which tip resonated with you the most.
Related articles on the different ways to save money:
If you want more tips on how to cut realistic expenses check out these two videos:
If you struggle with over spending in the grocery or where ever you are check out this video: