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Friday, February 18, 2011

The Return of Prudent Penny

When I worked in corporate America, I made a great deal of money. I knew the day I walked away from my job that all that liquid asset, every fancy dinner, trip, and extravagance was going with it.

I didn't really mind. I have a spouse who could easily support me. Other than the new house, we owe nothing. And by my very nature, I'm a frugal person. BUT...I do feel pangs of guilt when Greg pays all the bills. Moreover, it's a little hard on my feminist ego. :grin: Even though we're a team, I've always been proud to foot my share of the bills. 

To compensate, I do everything in my power to keep our bills low and put a lot of effort into the garden and chickens. 

I ask for no money from Greg to supplement my daily expenses, and except for the last feed store trip (when he did the shopping during my unfortunate near-death experience), I also pay for chicken food and supplies. All this from my meager earnings as a writer.

Since Marian Perera reminded me I haven't done a Prudent Penny post in a while, I've made a list of some of the things I do to keep  my expenses down. Every Friday for the next six weeks, I'll break down how I work with each one of these items.


Week One
Coupons: I used to be a coupon clipper but I found I didn't often use the name brands they were discounting. In week one, I'll tell you how I browse coupons. I don't use many, but they're always high dollar or free products. I'll include Comparison Shopping here too.

Week Two (NEW)
Travel: Since you asked for it, we'll talk about how to save your wampum when traveling.

Week Three
Menu planning: I hate cooking. But a little menu planning not only saves my sanity on what to make, but moolah as well. I'll also include a list of my favorite cookbooks.

Week Four
Cheap landscaping: Landscaping is very expensive. I haven't yet found a way to make it free, but I have a few tricks so you don't have to open a vein.

Week Five
Garage Sales: If I could offer a live workshop on garage saling, I would. Shopping at garage sales have so much nuance to it, it's easier to demonstrate than explain it in words. --but I'll do the best I can. Though if you happen to be in my neck of the woods some Saturday, I will take you with me on my next jaunt.

Week Six
How to buy a car: Next to house buying, car buying is one of the most stressful things you will do in your life. I'll share our personal adventures in car buying and how not to get taken for a ride.

If you can think of any other topics you want to discuss, feel free to add them in the comments. If I have experience with it, I'll share it and if I don't, I'll see what I can find out.

Tell me, if you could save money on anything, what would it be?


Darke Conteur said...

I have always been an advocate of planned menu meals, also of grocery lists, but Husband thinks it's a waste of time. Which is why I don't listen to him when he complains about the cost of food. :P

Maria Zannini said...

Darke Conteur: hehehe, you're a woman after my own heart. I have a finicky husband. Not that he won't eat what I give him, but he complains mightily if they're leftovers. I wonder if that's why he wolfs everything down on the first meal?

You keep fighting the good fight. Food prices have gone up dramatically last year. I suspect it will be worse this year.

Grandpa said...

Good for you, Maria. I admire your desire and the proactive measures you took to remain financially independent, and your creativity in terms of savings.

I too took early retirement and the most important thing I did was to make sure I had savings and investments giving sufficient returns to finance the rest of my retirement.

Jacqueline Howett said...

Being a bit of a cook, I know how to create meals that save money and stretch an extra two weeks and they don't have to have all the special ingredients. For instance, Lasagnia can be made in various ways, it doesn't always have to have the fancy recotta cheece. The men still love it as long as there's cheece.

Keeping oregano as the major spice and cayenne for your other hot dishes can go a long way. The rest of the spices and herbs is luxury cooking, although I do like just for me my Indian spice.

Joanne said...

I'm a Yankee, so I'm always looking to get the most for my dollar. With a family of 4, the place I'm always working on to save $$ is the grocery store. It's a never-ending challenge.

Maria Zannini said...

Grandpa: It's a scary thing to retire early, knowing you must be able to support yourself for the rest of your life on what you saved and invested.

Jacqueline: I need recipes that can fool my husband. :wink: His idea of a meal is MEAT. Everything else is filler. It's hard living with a diehard carnivore.

Joanne: I have some useful sites to show you then. You'll like them.

Angela Felsted said...

I'm impressed. You really know how to watch your pennies.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: LOL! That's 36 years of learning the hard way. Eventually, something's got to click. :)

Linda Leszczuk said...

When I was a full time mom with two little ones and my spouse was active duty military, we lived cheap. My most used cookbook was '101 things to do with a pound of ground beef' - which I could get at the base commissary for (are you ready?) 49 cents a pound. I also made everything from scratch, no mixes, no shortcuts. I tried making the boys' clothes from scratch too but decided the therapy they would need as a result outweighed the savings on clothes.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Oh, Lord. I still can't get over that gas was once 25 cents a gallon (at least when I became driving age).

I think I had a 101 book on hamburger too. It was the first cookbook I bought when I got married.

Ref: making clothes
Good call on the clothes. Your boys would have never forgiven you. LOL!

Kim said...

I'm compulsive coupon-er when it comes to grocery shopping. Between them and using the store card, I save a bundle. :D

I can't wait for the warm weather, when all the farmer's markets open - great produce for really good prices? What's not to love! :D

Angelina Rain said...

I’m glad to hear from you, Maria. I hope you’re feeling better.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I love to travel, and I've gotten pretty good on saving on it, but I'd always love to save more.

Lydia K said...

I'm relatively frugal, but I know that I could be better. My hubs makes more $$ than me so I laughed at the "pangs of guilt" re: my feminist ego! I try to remind myself that I was the breadwinner for several years. It makes me kinda feel better!

Maria Zannini said...

Kim: Love farmers markets! You simply can't describe the difference to someone who's never tried fresh picked.

Angelina: Thanks, hon. All that's left is a bad cough. I can handle that.

Barbara: Ooh, travel. I have a few hints. Maybe we can put our heads together on that one.

Lydia: I have to admit my shameful secret. I always hated that the husband made more than me. LOL. It was always a mock contest. I never won. --at least it always went into the same pot. :grin:

Melissa McClone said...

Looking forward to what you have to say! I was making more than hubby when I quit to be a full-time writer. At the time I'd only received rejections so it was a huge risk. But we had no house payment or anything else including kids so it made sense. I still don't make what I made as an engineer, but it's nice to contribute something to the bank acct. even though hubby cares less if I do or not.

Add me to one who'd like to save more $$ on travel.

Maria Zannini said...

Melissa: I will definitely add travel to the list. Thanks!

Clarissa Draper said...

THese are really helpful! Thank you, I plan to stay tuned.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Menu planning is huge. I also find I'm saving when I do my food shoping by internet and then pick it up. I find I spend less because it's not there in front of me. I'm only buying what is on my menu list. :)

jackie b central texas said...

Okay if you could see how wasteful myself and my spouse are you would cringe and probably never email me again Maria... While we are not big spenders we do not cut corners like we could either... (However we do wear clothes until they rot, wear shoes until they fall apart, use the same purses/wallet until they are worn out and have the same vehicle until it will not run anymore so in some ways we are not so bad...)
I hate coupons because I do not buy most things that they are far... I do love fresh produce but alas in our area the Farmer's Markets are over before they begin! (Since there are so many older people in this neck of Texas they get up with the birds and beat me to the sites!)
Travel would be my main area of wishing to save on, someday we plan on having an RV to drive and see the places we have never been yet... (have a feeling by that time fuel will be around $20.00 a gallon with my luck!)

Maria Zannini said...

Clarissa: Always happy to see you here. :o)

Jennifer: Ooh, internet shopping is a great tip. I can't use it because my area is too small, but some Dallas stores employ it.

I prefer to go in anyway since most of my shopping is for produce and I like to pick my own.

Jackie: LOL. Oh, I wouldn't worry. You can always count on me for sending jokes and videos. :)

ref: travel
I will definitely include a tip sheet for travel. I might even move it up on the list.

Ellie said...

I definitely need to more of number three - I can be quite wasteful with food and a lot of that is down to poor planning.

Great post!

Maria Zannini said...

Ellie: Meal planning gets complicated when you have a lot of mouths to feed, but it's pretty easy with one or two. We'll do all that in three weeks. :)

Marianne Arkins said...

I'm the queen of cheap landscaping, lol...

Re: coupons -- I absolutely agree (though occasionally I find name brand ones that coincide with store sales and then I'll use them).

Looking forward to the rest :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: I hope you can add to the list! It'll be fun.

Marian Perera said...

If I could save money on anything, it would be tuition fees.

Maria Zannini said...

Marian: I think you probably did the only thing I did to save money. I earned scholarships.

And it's probably too late for you, but I saved a bundle by testing out of several core courses. I ended up graduating a year early because of that.

Jeanne said...

Your blog interests me so I hopped over here as a crusader. About to retire in 4 years, I will be reading this with gusto. Am glad to get to know look like fun!

Maria Zannini said...

Welcome Jeanne! Off to add you to my follower list.