One Year of Thrifty Living: April 2018

After beginning the year with a bang, our money-saving experiment hit a bit of a lull in April. It was a very busy month for us, so I just didn’t have as much time to experiment with many new money-saving strategies. But, hey! The good news is that you don’t always need a lot of time to save a buck here and there.

In April we engaged in the usual strategies: planning meals around grocery sale items, making food from scratch, doing as many DIY projects as possible, etc. Our total savings for April: $175.90Not bad but, with a little work, I think we can do much better this month.

I’ve included a few additional tips below. I hope you find these tips useful!

Money-Saving as a Habit
One thing I did notice is that many of our money-saving strategies have become habitual, so they really don’t require quite as much time or planning. For example, I habitually save vegetable scraps and toss them into a plastic bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, I whip up some homemade veggie broth. It takes just a few minutes to throw the scraps, some herbs, and water into a slow cooker or stock pot, and I can get some work done while it simmers. This is a big money-saver for us—organic veggie broth at the store is exorbitantly expensive.

Also, I’ve developed the habit of taking my go-to recipes with me to the grocery store. I take little recipe cards in my purse because I’m old-school, but you could have the recipes handy on your phone, as well. That way, I can see what grocery items are on sale that day and plan meals around those sales.

Grow Your Own Herbs: Get Paid for Your Patience
Another money-saving strategy I added this month was growing my own herb plants from seed. For years, I have purchased herb plants from a greenhouse or the grocery store. To buy organically-grown herbs, the plants usually cost at least $3.00 each.

This year, because I finally have a good grow light, I decided to start all my herbs from seed. After a few months and a wee bit of patience, I now have over a dozen healthy herb plants.

Other than the electricity used for the grow light, these baby herb plants cost me NOTHING. I acquired the seeds for free from our local seed library (see Garden Savings: Free Seed Libraries), used recycled containers in which to grow the seedlings, and used soil and compost from my community garden plot to start the seedlings.

Comparison Shopping: Get Paid to do Research
One new strategy I added this month was comparison shopping for a major purchase. Our vacuum cleaner bit the dust (pun totally intended), so I spent some time researching the best vacuums and comparing prices at local stores and on various websites (including, of course, Amazon and manufacturers’ websites).

Finding a fair price can be tricky. It pays to do your research. For example, two companies appeared to offer the exact same top-brand vacuum cleaner, but Company #1 was about $100 cheaper. Hurray! But wait, there was a catch.

Company #1 sold the bare-bones version of the vacuum (i.e., the vacuum was sold with NO attachments and NO warranty). Company #1 did offer a warranty for an additional $50, and each vacuum attachment cost more than $25! We finally found a good, reliable product—bought directly from the manufacturer—with a warranty and all the bells and whistles at no additional cost.

We saved about $50 on this purchase, which was worth the hour or so it took to research various products. I like to think of it as being paid $50 an hour to find a good deal!

If you’ve had good comparison shopping experiences, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to leave a comment!

 

April 2018

Category

Description

$ Saved

Running Total

Coupons Monthly 10% off coupon for local co-op (found in mailer) $18.62 $18.62
Coupon for tea (found in box) $2.00 $20.62
Grocery Store Sales Sales on various food items $9.10 $29.72
DIY Homemade organic vegetable broth (8 cups) $3.98 $33.70
Homemade organic wheat bread (4 loaves) $7.96 $41.66
Homemade organic dijon salad dressing (4 cups) $8.00 $49.66
Homemade all-natural body wash* $2.00 $51.66
Garden Repurposed / recycled materials used as row cover weights** $13.00 $64.66
Growing herbs from seed rather than buying plants $47.88 $112.54
Line drying 4 loads of laundry (save $0.36 per load) $1.44 $113.98
Other Credit card reward cash 11.92 $125.90
Comparison shopping for a major purchase $50.00 $175.90

*My homemade body wash costs about $8.00 to make 8 ounces. I know this is pretty pricy, but the ingredients are all natural, and the cleansing power of this stuff is AMAZING! A little goes a long way. This is very important, as one member of our household is a mechanic and frequently comes home with very dirty hands/arms/face. I’ll post the recipe soon!

**Boy, the weather this month in the Midwest was seriously cold. My poor lettuce plants did not much like the 20-degree temperatures in April. To protect our future baby salads, I blanketed them with some thick row cover and weighted the covers down with repurposed materials, including: bricks, paving stones, old pieces of two-by-fours, plastic containers full of water, etc. No fancy row cover weights for this gardener!

 

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