I am starting a group in my church that will address saving money. I want to incorporate coupons, refunding, meal planning, and any type of frugal living tips. I wondered if there are any really good ideas of starting a group like this, and where I might find the information. I would truly appreciate any type of help.
Diane in Indiana
Try a coupon swap for grocery savings. If the members each collect coupons and periodically get together to exchange the undesirables for desirables, everyone should be able to see a savings on their grocery bill. There are also several programs available that allow you to spend less than a couple of dollars to select coupons for items you want to purchase. Some of these programs could also be used as fundraisers for your church or organization.
There are many ways that a frugal living group can work together to save money and have fun and fellowship doing it.
Purchasing food in bulk is one way. I used to be part of a group that would go to the produce market (where grocery stores did their purchasing) and purchase boxes of produce. We would divide it up among group members. Everyone took turns doing the shopping and dividing up. Another group I was in used to purchase items in bulk such as whole wheat flour, sunflower seeds, rice, oats, etc.....we would get 50 or 100 pound bags of these items and divide them up. (We had some rules set up just for the sake of order). It really saved a lot of money.
I also used to be in a babysitting co-op. This gives couples of young children a "break" without costing any money. We had a "book keeper" who kept track of everything. We had a point system.
A frugal living group could work together to make gifts, such as crafts, quilting, sewing, artwork, etc. One member of the group may be talented in a particular area and could teach the group how to do a particular thing, and then someone else could teach something else, and so on. Working together as a group could save money. Tools, supplies and materials could be shared.
When working with a group looking for more frugal ways of living, be sure to consider setting up a "bartering" system so members can trade off their skills. Hiring professionals often takes a big, unexpected chunk out of a budget. Also, depending on the age of the members, a babysitting co-op not only saves members a large amount of $$ but it also provides peace of mind knowing that your children are being cared for by an experienced adult and it gives all of the children playmates.
Coupon sharing, cooking, bulk buying are all great ideas for a cooperative frugal living group. One thing that I have seen done before is cooperatively owning lawn care equipment. This is especially convenient for neighborhood community organizations (homeowner's associations). We certainly can share the cost/maintenance of lawn mowers, ladders, painting equipment, chainsaws etc.
There are a lot of good resources out there. Try the three Tighwad Gazette books by Amy Dacyczyn, Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, and Getting a Life by Jacqueline Blix and David Heitmiller.
Once-a-month cooking is a great resource to save money. They have a web page. Also DSimple web page is wonderful. Doing freezer meals once per month is a great way to save money and it's an even better experience if you do it as a two some or a group. The one day that is spent cooking and freezing is well worth the effort not only in saving time but expense. In a group, recipe sharing could be a great resource.
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