I'm retired due to a disability, but because of the career I chose, I have no retirement fund and no pension and must live on Social Security alone. Therefore, frugality has become my middle name. Here in west Michigan, our supermarkets offer remarkable savings every week. They love to BOGO (buy one, get one free!). Every Sunday I check the sales and buy only what's on BOGO. You can get wonderful meals for practically nothing! When's the last time you bought 10 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast for $12?
Look in the frozen food sections for great deals, too. We have a market here called Save-A-Lot, and boy do I! A pound of ground turkey is only $1. Frozen peppers and onions for stir fry are $1.29 a pound, and I use them in meatloaf (made from that ground turkey) to add a little zest. Shop Dollar Stores every chance you get.
Use your car as little as possible. Not just because it's green; because it's thrifty! I make sure that whenever I have to go out, I hit several places in order to save gas. Don't believe you can do it? I bought my 2002 Ford Focus in Sept. of '02. To date I have driven only 26,000 miles. That's 6 years! I stick close to home and am fortunate that there are stores close by. I do have health issues, and all my doctors are 30 miles away, so I make as many appointments as possible on the same day, starting with the furthest away and moving back home one stop at a time. This adds up, and I often only need to fill up once a month.
In the winter, I bartered my plowing. She comes here first, and I send a thermos of hot chocolate and an insulated cup out with her as she finishes the route. Granted, I have a tiny driveway, but around here snow is a constant, so this saves me about $50 a month! Offer to make a casserole to someone who can do odd jobs around the house for you. It's inexpensive and most gratifying to provide someone a good meal on a busy day. Just make it in a disposable foil pan along with the re-heating instructions. They look forward all day to getting home and eating a nice dinner someone made for them.
I could, and would, go on and on; but I think you get the idea. If you look, you'll find easy ways to cut way back on your spending. My food budget is less than $25 a week, but I have a good dinner every night and don't feel at all deprived.
By Polly from Cedar Springs, MI
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