My Frugal Life: Be My BFFF (Best Frugal Friends Forever)

BFFF? Yup, best frugal friends forever. These days, particularly in Michigan, frugality isn't just a chosen lifestyle, it's true survival! I'm over 60, disabled, widowed, with abso-posi-lutely no family; therefore, there's no one I can call upon in a pinch for an extra few dollars. My Frugal Life


In 2001, I'd been diagnosed with four potentially fatal conditions and been given 3 to 5 years to live. There's an old joke: I have enough money to last me the rest of my life - providing I die next week. That's true! When, in '06, I was driven into bankruptcy by medical bills, it was the 5th year since the diagnosis. So I had had enough money to last me the rest of my life, only I didn't die! Uh-oh.

Over time, I've developed many strategies for keeping up, including taking in laundry. Seriously. I do the towels for a local groomer. Twenty cents each. Hey, it keeps food on the table, so don't laugh!

I don't like to go to food and clothing centers, except to donate, because there are many others that are far worse off than I am. They have families, I don't. They need clothes to go to work and school. I don't. It's not pride. It's a matter of prioritizing. So here are a few of the strategies I use to keep the outflow manageable.


My electric and gas companies both have budget payment plans. I pay the same rate every month, summer and winter, and don't have to worry about them shutting off the juice.

I don't buy a Sunday paper. I share with my neighbor. She cuts out her coupons, and I cut out what I can use. Our local supermarkets have ways of getting five to twenty cents a gallon off gasoline prices, based on either specific products purchased or the amount of the total bill. Most of the time, I only fill up once a month, so if I get a coupon, I give it to the neighbor so she can get the better price. What coupons I don't use, I cut out anyway, and leave them on the products in the store for the next person to use. No sense in throwing them out, is there?

If an item is on sale, but not on the shelf, I always get a rain check. It's good for 30 days, so I'm bound to have enough money put aside by that time.


Buy the store brand! This is particularly important in pharmacies. Their brands are just fine, and work just as well for much less money. But, if you look carefully, you'll find that a special on a more popular brand is better. Compare the price on different sizes. Speaking of which, do NOT be fooled by the words "Now, 20% more!" They didn't say "free." They just said "more." So, if a 10 oz. package now holds 12 oz., it'll probably have a 20% higher price, too.

Many pharmacies now have free cards for seniors, and even the general public, that offer discounts on everything except prescriptions. Mine, Rite-Aid, offers 10% off any of their products all the time. But, on Tuesdays, you get 10% off any brand. And, on the first Tuesday of the month, you can get 20% off! It doesn't work on sale items, but it does work on items that offer rebates.

These are just a few ideas. I'll be sharing more as I explore Thrifty Fun. I consider it a game. Get the best for the least. I've yet to figure out how people manage to get their groceries free, or even get money back, but if you can tell me how, I'd really like to hear from you!

Polly from Cedar Springs, MI

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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

You sound like a great lady. Thanks for the tips.We all need to work together. Thrifty fun is a great "family" Have gotten so many good ideas since I"ve joined.

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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

You can get free food from food pantries no matter how you consider it. It is free. also find a grocer that gives double coupons. Perhaps volunteering at pantries, or a food market will get some freebies in exchange for your services. Also start or join a Garden co-op with members of your community. Sometimes your neighorhood newspaper stand will have a sunday paper left over on Monday's with good useable coupons.

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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

Hello Polly,

Lovely to read your post. I understand so well your trick of working out whether things are cheaper or not. I see many people in the supermarket giving me funny looks because I stand with a article for so long working out the better buy. Things in Australia are like the States now too, though I must admit as a pensioner as well, we get a better deal than you do. Nevertheless, I live a long way from any shops, and have to watch the gas - 60 miles on a round trip. I have to be pretty sure that I've remembered everything I need to buy because I only go every two weeks. It's a small town I go to, so stuff is trucked in to there, and the prices are really high, with no real competition. So, it's often pay the price or do without. There are a few "do withouts" in my life. But that's OK, as you said people have to feed and clothe children - I can't imagine how some of them do it - and I feel luckier than a lot of people.

Again, lovely to read your post, Polly. Thank you.

A big hug, Leah from Down Under.

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Anonymous Flag
November 19, 20080 found this helpful

This is my first time on this website. I forwarded it to all my friends, too.

I just joined and am looking forward to saving money and making friends in the process.

Your story was the first I read....I really enjoyed it.

I am retired, live in Iowa and am concerned over the cost of everything.

Good luck to you Polly !!


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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

I just got back from Walmart & there was this young woman in front of me and she was using a LoneStar card which is food stamps. Now, I think they are necessary programs however what she did really aggravates me. I cut coupons, cook a lot from scratch, work a full time job, have a diabetic husband and I take care of my 75 year old Mom in my home. Anyway, this young woman bought with her food stamps 2 gallons sweet tea, frozen beefy snacks, Little Debbie snack cakes, chips that were not store brand and so on.

Not one healthy item was in her basket. She could have taken those tax dollars & bought fruit & other nutritious foods. Anyway, I am just venting but it is nice to hear someone like you really trying and being so responsible with what you do. Way to go, you really inspire everyone!

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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

There is an organization in many states called Angel Food Ministries. You can google it for your area. It is a monthly deal and for about $30 you can get quite a bit of food, meats, canned foods, pasta, and an assortment of different kinds of food. Please check it out. It is really a good organization. I believe it is sponsored by local churches. Good luck to all of you!

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November 20, 20080 found this helpful

I use to sew for the public to make money to help us on the farm also had a garden all the time,put lot of food in the freezer, also baked cakes, made candy, cookies,breads & etc for friends & baby sat for friends & neighbors. Just think what you like to do, you can earn money doing it.

Kathleen, Dothan, Al

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November 20, 20080 found this helpful

Go to to locate great deals on food that is offered every two weeks. Perhaps a pick up site is close to you I CERTAINLY HOPE SO. Let us know AS we are all prayering for you now. Your extended family through Thrifty Fun.

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November 22, 20080 found this helpful


Angel Food Ministries is available at

Cedar Springs Free Methodist Church

135 N. Grant Street



Also, I know you said that you didn't like to go to the free places, however, Victory Baptist Church will be hosting a mobile food pantry in January

Victory Baptist Church

16415 Meddler Ave.

Sand Lake, MI 49343

(616) 984-2525

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November 30, 20080 found this helpful

You can write to or emld the address on the products you buy and ask for coupons. Many times they will give you free ones.

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May 15, 20090 found this helpful

Hi Polly,

I am 60 years old and also a widow, I don't drive, I am on a widows pension and got a senior card, this year and having been trying to be thrifty for many years.

I live in Australia but I do go to Tennessee for six months of the year whilstIi still can afford it on my widows pension, I do have a daughter but hardly see her from another marriage as she has her own life she is thirty and lives with her boyfriend and I probably if I am lucky hear from her every two or so months as she lives about 1 hour or so away each way.

I wondered if you would like an email penfriend and swap thrifty hints here and over there and just be friends.

up to you

chickabea (parklea sydney australia)

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June 22, 20100 found this helpful

These are really great tips!

I too share the Sunday paper. It gives my sister and I something to do together on Sundays.

The rain check tip is good too. Getting rain checks on one day sales helps because they can make groceries cheaper.

I think it's funny how folks bypass store brand food. For the most part, store brand and name brand come out of the same place they were created. It's just in a different box.

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January 4, 20120 found this helpful

You really made my day! You are such an inspiration on the human spirit and you are a survivor. God bless you!

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