Slash your Back to School Budget in Half! Saturday, Aug 10 2013 

According to the National Retail Federation, families are spending nearly $700 per child for back to school costs!  This includes $400+ for clothing and shoes, $100 for supplies and over $200 for electronics.  Even crazier, that $700 estimate is about $85 more than parents spent last year.  If you’re one of those parents whose finding that getting the kids ready for another school year is costing the same as your average mortgage payment, read on for some proven tips to cut that figure in half, effortlessly.

The Clothes – we all want our kids to be comfortable and feeling stylish.  But if your budget is as strapped as ever (and whose isn’t?), I suggest a new clothes-shopping strategy that will fill your kids’ closets with the name brands for easily 75-90% off.   Hit your local thrift stores and consignment shops, where every single name brand that you kid loves is waiting for you, in fantastic shape, at rock-bottom prices.  Five dollars for name-brand jeans, two dollars for fantastic tops, $8 for coats and often $5 for beautiful shoes still in their original boxes, never worn.   Trust me, find a fabulous thrift store near you, and try outfitting your child with a name-brand wardrobe they will adore, for a fraction of what you spent last year. 

The Supplies – I could be dating myself, but when I was a kid, the back-to-school supplies list was a half-page long, consisting of a notebook, number two pencils, and if you felt like going over the top, perhaps some pens.  These days, a Kindergartner’s back-to-school list of “necessities” reads like a 72-point NASA pre-launch list.   Do yourselves a favor, and take that list first to your local Dollar Store, where aisles of school supplies await you, often for 50% or more off the usual retail prices.  If there’s anything you need that you can’t find at the Dollar Store, then head to the office supply chains to get the remaining items on your list.   With that strategy in action, you’ll easily spend 25-50% less than the national average.

The Electronics – Now I know I’m dating myself here, but when I went to school, all the way from Kindergarten to graduating College, the only sophisticated electronics I really needed to get for myself was a calculator, which I think I got for free from the bank.   Now I realize the list of kid-adored, “get-it-for-your-child-or-they’re-destined-for-failure” electronics has exploded in recent years, and it’s all incredibly impressive.  However, might I be bold enough to suggest that the typical American student (from ages 5-18) really doesn’t need their own cell phone, iPad, Kindle or laptop to succeed?    Unless your third grader has a conference call scheduled over their lunch break (doubtful), or your Kindergartner needs to check the Weather Channel app on his iPhone before venturing out to recess (also doubtful), extravagant electronics purchases do not guarantee a successful, thriving student.  Just about every home has a computer (if not, hit the library down the street), and every school out there has a sophisticated computer lab that’s more than adequate.  As for the phones, computers, Kindles and iPads, kids can use the phone and computer at home and the library.  If they truly feel that they need certain electronics as a teenager, let them pay for it themselves with the money they make over the summer – and tell them that they can find last year’s “gotta have” models for about 80% off on Craigslist. 

Happy Back-to-School season, everybody!  Here’s to another fabulous year of learning!

Advertisements

Can Amelia’s Grocery REALLY cut a household of four’s food budget down to $300/month? You know it! Friday, Jan 7 2011 

AMELIA’S GROCERY OUTLET! SAVE MONEY!

Total for today: $5.56, Total for Month: $69.15!

A very Happy Friday shout out to fabulous frugal friends! Okay, sure, we got a touch of snow here this morning, but just enough to make it beautiful (and yes, slow your morning commute to 5 mph… but HEY, shake it off, it’s Friday)! Time for serious snacking and quality time with the TiVo.

This first week of the January Challenge has been a BLAST – so much amazing feedback from everyone, and I’m LOVING the recipes!

Here’s the end-of-the-week breakdown.
Day 7 Total: $5.56, Total for Month: $69.30

HUGE batch of morning coffee for me, and me alone – 0.25.
Breakfast – ($1.06) Four HB eggs (total) for the adults, $0.56. Kids had cheerios w/milk (.50).

Lunch/Snack: $2.65 – Katie’s lunch, mandarin orange juice box (.15), her beloved cheesy crackers for snack (.10), ham roll ups again (.50), and two all natural, no preservatives added cookies (.15). Robbie had leftover chicken for lunch with sliced apple ($.33).

Lunch for me was a chicken leg from last night and some reheated coffee from this morning. Hubby brown-bagged it with a pound of fruit (.66), and some leftover chicken made into chicken salad ($0.10, for mayo). Kids had more sliced apple for a snack in the afternoon, and I joined in, so it was a pound of fruit total ($0.66).

Dinner: $ 1.25. Okay, this is SO my kind of dinner total – baked chicken leftovers from last night’s dinner, perfect with some pilaf (0.25) and a side salad (.50) to go with it. To celebrate the snow, I made another cake w/buttercream icing, for a total of $2. History tells me a cake this size should last four days, so I’m costing that out at .50/day.

Evening Snack: (0.35) More popcorn! I’m now officially addicted to popcorn. ¼ cup popped into 6 cups, with ¼ stick of butter melted on top.

So there we have it, managed today for $5.56, total for the month is $69.15. keep those great ideas coming! Frugal On, and have a great weekend!

Frugalista Diet Update! Day 22 Food Total: $0.73, Total amount spent on food for June: $14.75 Tuesday, Jun 22 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Hey guys! Tuesday is DONE. Just had some mongo huge severe thunderstorms come thru, no damage tho, as well as a tornado warning, but thankfully no twister. Also, stayed on plan today, high on the fact that I’m down 2.5 pounds for the month. Life is GREAT. Just packed all of the remaining cans into ONE box, so you KNOW we’re seriously counting down in this last 8 days of The Frugalista Challenge. Amazing.

Menu for today!

Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – Chef Boyardee Lasagna.
Cost = .05

Daytime Snack – Lime jello with half-can of pineapple.
Cost = .10

Dinner – 2 oz whole wheat rotini & 1/5 can of sauce.
Cost = .10

Nighttime (blogging) snack – I seriously INTENDED to go with the smaller Dagoba bar, honestly, I did. However, I’m so happy to be down 2.5 pounds in three weeks, that I’m celebrating with the larger Scharffen Berger bar. Welcome to my mind.
Cost = .25

Total cost of food for today: $0.73.

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions. As we race towards July, and my desire for another fun Challenge refuses to abate, I’m leaning seriously towards a Challenge in which I spend LESS for utilities this July than I spent last July, despite a 30% rate increase from PP&L…hmmmm, could be fun!

Have a great evening, everybody! K

Brilliant Frugal Living’s “Frugalista Diet” – Menu for Day 22! Tuesday, Jun 22 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Good morning all! Hope your week is going great.
Okay, we’re on Day 22, and I’ve been on the Frugalista Diet for 3 weeks. Had my weigh in just now, and remarkably (or not, considering the stomach bug from a couple of days ago), I’m down another pound! WOO HOO!
I mentioned a while back the psychology involved with looking at four boxes of food, and thinking to yourself “that’s basically IT for a month…”. It really does play with your mind a bit, a fantastic appetite suppressant. Honestly, considering that the goal of this eating plan was strictly to be keeping costs down, (that and the fact that my usual eating plan involves a lot more fresh fruit and a lot LESS carbs), I’m frankly a bit amazed that this plan is resulting in weight loss as well.

Bottom line, we’re on track financially, in the last week of the challenge, and we’re down 2.5 pounds. Life is GREAT.

Menu for today!

Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – Chef Boyardee Lasagna.
Cost = .05

Daytime Snack – Lime jello with half-can of pineapple.
Cost = .10

Dinner – Pasta twice in one day? Why not? Lots of good tomato products, anyway. That’s my story & I’m sticking to it. 2 oz whole wheat rotini & 1/5 can of sauce
Cost = .10

Nighttime (blogging) snack – Let’s go with the smaller Dagoba bar, I really want to keep costs down as much as possible. Fruit inventory is next to NUTHIN’.
Cost = .15

Total cost of food for today: $0.63. Another day coming to $0.63. Maybe I should play that number in the lotto?

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions. Also, we’re getting to the end of June, and I’m working on plans for a July Frugalista Challenge as well – send any and all ideas! My main idea right now involves cutting utility costs to the BONE for a low July electric bill. Your thoughts?

Have a great Tuesday, everybody! K

Frugalista Diet Update! Day 21 total: $0.63, Total for June: $14.02! Monday, Jun 21 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Hey guys! You made it, Monday’s practically done. Proud of ya. Hope you all had a great one.

Okay, weigh in tomorrow…kept me seriously on track for today. Keep your fingers crossed for the morning’s numbers!

Menu for today!

Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – Chef Boyardee Ravioli
Cost = .05

Daytime Snack – Watermelon jello with half a can of pineapple. Damn good.
Cost = .10

Dinner – a can of tuna and some canned spinach. FYI, that canned spinach is truly, ridiculously gross. I can imagine it being really good chopped up, drained, mixed with some spices & rolled into some phyllo dough, but straight out of the can, no good. Bleah.
Cost = .10

Nighttime (blogging) snack – Chocolate, as I type. All thoughts of over-the-top-gross spinach out of my mind…
Cost = .15

Total cost of food for today: $0.63. I must have counted wrong this morning, somehow I came up with $0.66! Whatever. Again, loving when the numbers stay below $0.70/day, so this works.

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions. Have a great night, everybody! K

Brilliant Frugal Living’s “Frugalista Diet” – Menu for Day 21 Monday, Jun 21 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Hey everybody! Yup, it’s a Monday, thankfully it should pass within a day or so. Also, had a fantastic day yesterday at my Sister (and Brother-in-Law’s) house celebrating Father’s Day, so we still have the nice after-effects of that to carry us thru. Next thing to consider – it’s not wintertime. The only thing worse than waking up to a Monday in June is waking up to a Monday in January.

Special note on my end – I’m about to lose the car. It has to go into the shop for an air conditioning thingy that went wacko last week. Losing the air conditioning in June is not cool. Literally. To top off losing the car, I’ve got another weigh in day tomorrow – should be interesting to see how last week’s quickie stomach bug might impact it. Stay tuned.

Menu for today!

Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – I’m being irresistibly pulled back into the arms of my personal Chef, Mr. Boyardee. Ravioli, anyone?
Cost = .0

Daytime Snack – Watermelon jello with half a can of pineapple. Can’t say it enough, I have become such the jello addict.
Cost = .10

Dinner – Would love to do another salad, but the cost would push me way over my spending comfort zone. Going instead with a can of tuna and some canned spinach. Anybody out there every have canned spinach before? What am I in for here? Is it grotesque? Surprisingly palatable? I guess they wouldn’t have it on the grocery store shelves if there wasn’t a market for it. If I eat it, and start sprouting Popeye muscles, I’ll of course report it immediately.

Nighttime (blogging) snack – Chocolate, of course! If the dinnertime spinach is beyond gross, I at least can blog tonight with a bar of Organic Dagoba to carry me thru.
Cost = .15

Total cost of food for today: $0.66. Again, loving when the numbers stay below $0.70/day, so this works.

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions, especially as they pertain to canned spinach. Hang in there, only another 17 hours before Monday is thru! K

Frugalista Diet Update! Day 20 Total: $0.68, Total for June: $13.39! Sunday, Jun 20 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Hey guys! Hope you’re all wrapping up a fantastic weekend! Looking at a spectacular sunset right now; I just love 8:30 PM summertime sunsets. Beats the heck out of those wintertime 4:00 PM sunsets any day of the week!

As for the Day 20 menu, I stayed on track, stayed on budget, and cannot BELIEVE we’re almost 2/3 of the way done with the challenge! Amazing!

Menu for today!

Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – Leftover soup did the trick for lunch. Awesome.
Cost = .0

Daytime Snack – Lemon jello, no fruit added. Recently went out and bought more jello. It’s official, I’m addicted. Perfect for the summer and the cost can’t be beat!
Cost = .10

Dinner – Went with a can of organic chicken broth, then got officially hungry and went with a big bowl of sweet potatoes. I know, sounds odd, but was actually incredibly awesome. Like a taste of Thanksgiving in the middle of summer. Very cool.
Cost: $0.10

Nighttime (blogging) snack – I’m scarfin’ the Scarffen Berger as I type. Life is good.
Cost: $0.25

Total cost of food for today: $0.68.

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions! Happy Father’s
Day, everybody! K

Brilliant Frugal Living’s “Frugalista Diet” – Menu for Day 20! Sunday, Jun 20 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Hey everybody – hope you’re having a fantastic weekend. And to all the Dads, step-Dads, Granddads & Dad Role models out there, Happy Father’s Day! Hope you’re being spoiled rotten.

Medical alert here – (not even a) 24-hour bug is gone, woke up feeling great. Finger is healing nicely, and TA-DA!!! I’m having COFFEE! Might even have some chocolate to go with it, just to celebrate. We’ll see.

Having eating (therefore spent) next to nothing on food yesterday, the diet budget is in even better shape, which is fantastic. The one and only big red flag here is the fruit inventory, which is really dwindling. Trying to cut down fruit consumption by using only a half-can (often in fruit jello, way yummy), and then upping the veggie consumption, because I have a ridiculous amount of vegetables left, so that works. If I ever need to start hitting the fresh fruit, the menu-cost-per-day is really going to jump. I’ve heard some great ideas from bloggers & fellow Facebookers on how to obtain fruit for next to nothing. Around here in Chester County, our properties are CRAWLING with berry bushes, alas, they won’t be ready to pick for another 4 weeks. A few people nationwide that I’ve heard from live close enough to orchards that they get fantastic rates on fruit that they pick themselves (.25/pound for apples in Washington State for blogger Leah, outstanding!). Then there is, of course, the “Produce Down Under” tactic that I use constantly at my local supermarket (where the mgmt sells yesterday’s produce for up to 75% off in discreet floor-level boxes in the Produce Section). Melanie from Virginia suggested that I hit a local orchard for “drops” – fruit sold by the orchard for next to nothing (apples, pears, plums, peaches) because it’s got a bruise or something. All great advice, thanks everybody!

Menu for today!

Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – I’ve got that leftover soup from Friday that I think will be fantastic on the tail end of whatever stomach bug I just had. AND, it’s free! Woo hoo!
Cost = .0

Daytime Snack – Lemon jello, no fruit added (I’m becoming a jello addict. I love this stuff.)
Cost = .10

Dinner – Trying the can of organic chicken broth again, might have some vegetables with it on the side, just for something light.

Nighttime (blogging) snack – BACK TO CHOCOLATE! Thank you God.
AND, in celebration of Father’s Day, and getting rid of this stomach bug, and finger healing (and HEY, do we REALLY need an excuse for chocolate?), I’m going with the big ‘ol Scharffen Berger, baby!
Cost = .25

Total cost of food for today: $0.58. Really loving it when the numbers stay under $0.70/day, so this works beautifully.

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions! Happy Father’s
Day, everybody! K

Brilliant Frugal Living’s “Frugalista Diet” – Menu for Day 19! Saturday, Jun 19 2010 


www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Hey gang! Hope you’re having a fantastic Saturday morning!

Over here, the slash & dash index finger is healing nicely, but I think I caught Robbie’s stomach bug from two days ago. Suffice it to say it might lend itself nicely to saving money on food today, as I don’t even want to look at it (I might even skip my morning coffee…a truly freakish development for me). Also, in an amusing spin, we’re scheduled to get our family picture taken this morning at 10:00A. Tic tac, anyone?

Here’s hoping things turn around, it’s too beautiful a day for a bug!

Planned Menu for today!

Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – The leftover soup from yesterday will be PERFECT.
Cost = .0 (woo hoo!)

Daytime Snack – Lemon jello, no fruit added (I did the no fruit thing out of sheer laziness last night, but now I’m glad, today it might be yummier without it)
Cost = .10

Dinner – A can of organic chicken broth is just what the doctor ordered. Love that stuff, and it should be perfect on a non-perfect stomach.

Nighttime (blogging) snack – the usual chocolate. If by tonight, I’m NOT in the mood for chocolate, you’ll know the earth is about to spin off its axis and at the very least, it’s time to call an ambulance.
Cost = .15

Total cost of food for today: $0.48. Okay, so there’s the fab news dug deep within a stomach bug. Food cost plummets! Nice glaring silver lining there!

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions! Especially as they apply to flu-spreading microbes. Honestly, my 2-year old bounced back from his little bug within 24 hours – he’s literally spinning around the room with toys in both hands as I type this – so I better quit whining.

Have a great day, everybody! K

Frugalista Diet Update! Day 18 total: $0.80, Total for June: $12.66! Friday, Jun 18 2010 

www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

Happy Friday, everybody! Hope you’ve got fantastic weekend plans! Over here in marga-frugal-ville (a blogger sent that in, I didn’t make that up), we’re right on plan, with the exception of an unexpected (graphic and bloody to the point of gratuitous) finger injury, courtesy of a jaggedy samurai green bean can. Never saw it coming. Way gross, but in and amongst my spurts of inventive profanity, I washed it out, got it bandaged, and I think I get to keep the finger. Updates as necessary… Now, who’s ready for food talk?! 🙂

Menu for today!
Breakfast – coffee, two hard boiled eggs
Cost = .23

Lunch – One organic hot dog, and some green beans. I’m never looking at green bean cans the same again.
Cost = .17

Daytime Snack – Peach jello, with (canned, obviously) diced peaches added, ½ can.
Cost = .10

Dinner –Going for soup again – one can vegetable broth, one can pinto beans, one can vegetables. Only ate half, so I’ve got lots of leftovers.
Cost: $0.15

Nighttime (blogging) snack – chocolate. Again, keeping costs low, we’re going with the less expensive Dagoba.
Cost = .15

Total cost of food for today: $0.80. Would love to keep this number under $0.80. Tomorrow should be better – I’ll have leftover soup and that should bring one meal’s cost down to zero. It helps.

Keep sending in your thoughts, ideas & suggestions! Have a fantastic Friday night, everybody! K

Next Page »