Saving Time and Money at Work
My Story: 14 Ways We Save Money
As a working mom (I am employed full-time, going to undergraduate school full-time and have an 11-year-old son) that does not have the time to cut coupons, search for deals, make from-scratch meals, what tips do you have?
I now shop at low price supermarkets that do not take coupons nor bag my groceries. A typical box of raisin and bran flake cereal is $1.89 versus the national brand at about $3. My favorite is Price Rite, but Aldi, Save-A-Lot, and others exist nationally. I don't bother to bag my groceries in the store most of the time but take the cart to my car and bag them as I put them in the trunk for more time savings. I also use cloth bags for further savings, since Price-Rite charges for bags. I get all my staples and much of my produce and some meat there. My typical weekly cost for one person is about $25. The SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program estimates $200 a month for one person, so this is quite a savings. The deals change depending on what they can purchase inexpensively, so it is a bit like a treasure hunt, but the store is clean and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Occasionally I fill in with items from Wal-Mart or a local supermarket chain, if I can't find them at Price-Rite.
Barbara in CT
As a working mom of four, I discovered the joys of slow cooking many years ago. Go to a thrift store and get a slow cooker and look up recipes online. I got one recently for $8 to accompany my other two, since I cook in batches and freeze meals. It takes five minutes or less to put everything into the pot. I often put things together the night before and then turn it on when I leave in the morning for work. I make stews, soups, casseroles and anything else that sounds good. It amazes me that more people do not use these great tools. Besides saving money, this provides nourishing meals for my family. I see them in thrift stores, often brand new (unappreciated wedding presents?). Give me a $6 pot roast, some gravy mix and some frozen mixed veggies, and I can give you four or five good meals.
Your 11-year-old is just the right age to clip coupons, circle best prices in the circulars, and comparison shop. This is great practice for the future! In just a few years, that child will be a college student on scholarship, a studio apartment dweller with entry-level income, or a young parent on a budget, so teach now!
The best single advice I have is to brown five pounds of ground beef. Then divide it and freeze in small packages. Plan on 1/4 cup per person. That way you have the basis of a quick meal for any night. You can add frozen veggies for a stir-fry, make a casserole with mashed potatoes, put over frozen French fries topped with cheese, etc. This saves time and doesn't require much in the way of time investment on a day off.
Check out Half.com or Amazon for textbooks. Ask your professor which editions you can use for his/her class. Oftentimes it doesn't have to be the current edition. Or try the public library. They can interlibrary loan a lot of books.
Need clothes? Thrift stores aren't just for the homeless! My son, who is 12, prefers jeans from Goodwill. He says that they're already "soft." At $4 a pair, the price can't be beat!
Barter or trade your skills for those of your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family. Who can trim your son's hair? Sew? Mow your lawn? Type your papers?
Make lots of soups, stews, or casseroles. Have meatless meals like red beans and rice. Have breakfast (scrambled eggs or omelets) for supper. Skip the fast food; that's a money pit for sure! Do you have a slow cooker? Learn to use it! Borrow some cookbooks from the library and get some recipes. Get some bread and your son's favorite lunchmeat and let him make his lunch. Buy a big bag of chips and some resealable bags. Make your own individual baggies to drop in lunches. Make enough for supper that you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Take your own bottled water from home in a little bottle you refill each day.
Check out the dollar stores. They carry all sorts of food now. Check expiration dates. You'll find name brand sandwich meat, cheese, frozen dinners, etc.
Do work "pot lucks." Four of us got together at my work and we bring lunch for all four one day per week. Our lunches include sandwiches, salads, fajita fixings, casseroles, etc. We cook once and eat lunch all four days. Everybody loves it!
These are just a few of the things I can think of that you can do with no time to clip coupons!
I have several tips for you:
The main key here is organization. You don't get to delegate much, but delegate what is age appropriate to your 11-year-old. He will thank you when he's ready to leave home that he knows how to cook, how to clean and how to do laundry. Too many children and young adults don't know the basics. Why is this important as a child? It's simple. What if you get seriously ill, and you need your child to help?
The more your child knows about the basics, the further you both are going to go. If your child knows about taking care of himself, he'll be more confident going out into the real world. Isn't that what parenting is all about?
I would suggest finding your local freecycle.org and searching for things you don't mind getting second hand.
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