Monday, January 2, 2012

Frugal Challenge 2012

Lessons on learning to live on less and save money.

It is that time of year where we start fresh.  Looking back at 2011 I did a lot of frugal challenge posts and implemented more thrifty ways into our home. I mean you have to. Everywhere you look, prices are just skyrocketing. If you get a raise at all than it is eaten up by higher health care costs. Just putting food on the table is more and more expensive. So for 2012 I want to re-commit myself to the frugal practices I implemented last year and commit myself to even more money saving habits and practices.

Frugal Challenge goals:

1.Most meals ate at home including lunches prepared at home. Also more inexpensive but meatless meals like these.
2. Using homemade cleaners like alcohol and water for glass and surface cleaning.
3. Trying to combine trips in the car.
4. Continue to get through without using our second refrigerator. This has saved us a bundle and we made it      through the holidays with our small kitchen fridge only. We will save the other one for our daughter when she moves out or if ours breaks down.
5. Other energy saving measures like the awning and the energy audit suggestions I wrote about here. We will be purchasing two more awnings for our west facing windows that receive afternoon sun.
6. Continuing to pay cash for everything. I managed to do this for Christmas this year with the exception of some items I ordered online and have not received the bill yet. That will be paid back promptly. This is something I have to remain committed to as we are paying off one last car right now and another loan that is thankfully almost paid off too. We have a daughter in college right now and one more starting next year.
7. I will coupon a little for the things we actually use like our toiletries. We use large amounts of shampoo and conditioner and other hygiene items so I have to really look for bargains here.

Where I want to improve in 2012:
1. More meals at home or homemade. We are gone one day a week all day and we usually pick up some fast food for myself and the two kids with me. I have seen this as a treat but really if I cut it back to twice a month only and we bring a picnic lunch the other days I could save roughly $30 a month just on this one item.
2. More freezer meals made in advance. I want to commit one day a month to prepare freezer meals for the nights we are short on time and I may be tempted to pick something up.
3. Shop around all of our insurance polices for auto and home. I keep putting this off and am committed to doing this early this year. I will look at it as a job. One hour per week at a determined time to get on the phone and comparison shop until I find the best option for us. We have two young drivers in our home so we really need to try and cut back on auto insurance costs if we can.
4. Trying to keep grocery costs down. I don't know with rising costs if you can even cut back much more than I already have but I want to commit to less expensive but healthy meals and finding the best bargains out there. I think a price book type comparison of the foods we use most is the best means right now to do this. Keeping a small book with the best deals I can find so I know where to stock up is the best option for now. Coupons I use will be for items we already eat. I really think the one way to save most in this area is cooking more from scratch. I do this for the most part already but making maybe my own mixes and things may help as well. Food savings will be a main focus for me in 2012.
Please share any ideas or suggestions you have. I am an eager student.


  1. We're all in the same boat Darlin! Good advice here!

  2. Great frugal steps you've taken Elaine and I'm sure you'll find more and more in the New Year. Something that made a big difference in my elec bill is unplugging all electronics (TV,DVD player,electronic games, etc), when not in use, over night, etc. They all have one or more lights that run our power bills up. I too hope to be even more frugal in 2012. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  3. Hi to you in sunny California from snowy Indiana! Thanks for you post! Visiting from Met Monday...I'm posted beside of you. ;)

    Happy 2012! :)

  4. Oh Elaine, this is just what I was mulling over in December. I was thinking about instigating something called Living More Thriftily (is that even a word) In 2012. Or some catchy little phrase. Then writing more posts about doing so. If I was skilled at making a button to put in sidebars, I'd do that. But I must live more frugally now. Maybe we can form a club of frugal folks.

  5. Sounds like you are on the right track, and every little bit helps. About the lunches-have you thought of making it a picknic, even in the car...:)...
    I don't do the feezer/once a month cooking like some, but when I make a certain meal -say Lasgna, more than one pan is make, while one is for dinner the other/s go unbaked into the many things that you cook can be use in the next meal. I also make crockpot chicken, which can make up to 3 meals(sparely used) and the rest is cooked for broth. So if you have some taco meat, pour with water, veggies, some broth/cube cook, then if you have some cooked pasta/rice is your filler, plus grilled cheese or sandwich, Dinner is served...:)....

    you've done a great job in 2011 and will be doing another great one in 2012 ....

  6. So with you dearie!! I am even going on a fiscal fast -- I'll be writing more about that. Great to have other encouraging bloggers in the trenches with me :)

    Happy New Year!!


  7. I can identify! But I feel like we have been living this way forever -- whenever I read tips (cook at home, save on cable, unplug electronics, etc) -- well, we already do all of those! I really don't know what else to do. We had one daughter just graduate from college, another starting in the fall -- filed FAFSA today, and I just wanted to cry when I saw the Estimated Family Contribution ($18,000!? from where!?).

    When I have to order something online, I put the money in an envelope -- or write a check then and there and put it in the envelope, so when the bill comes we have the money to pay it, so we always pay off the bill in full each month. I just did a blog post yesterday on the results of us saving quarters each week of 2011.

  8. Those are terrifc goals Elaine. We are all right there with you with the rising prices. BTW, I LOVE your awnings. We are considering a large one on the back of the house to cover the patio this summer. It is way too hot with the sun beating down in the late afternoon and early evening.

    I feel for you paying for teenage drivers and college educations. Been there and done that and it is so expensive.

    Thanks for the shout out.

  9. I just discovered the book Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik. I'm perusing it now. I've found several recipes that look good. Happy freezer cooking to you!

  10. These are great tips! I'm going to try to cut down on my grocery bills.We never eat out but food prices have gone way up!!We all have to be thrifty these days.


  11. great post...
    I use CVS a LOT to get free toiletries, I have not paid for soap shampoo deoderant etc in years. thats one good way to save. I LOVE get tons of ideas and freebies there. when you shop for ins, try Geico or wawanesa..I find them to be very reasonable. I need to work more on eating home more...but we do use buy one get one free coupons a LOT!!!!

  12. Hi Elaine,

    I'm so glad to see you're focusing on these things too. Being frugal and simplifying even more is something I want to make a priority for 2012. I'm checking out the sites you mentioned and look forward to reading more as the year unfolds. It's nice to know that other bloggers are watching their spending too!


  13. I am interested in those awnings too. Although my kids are grown, Our son Drew lives here and eats a ton. His girlfriend is here a lot too and eats here. I have Noah every day, and often times, the girls and their families. So really, my grocery bill is sky high. But, like you, I watch the deals, and shop accordingly. I do cook most of our meals here at home. I cannot believe how high groceries have gone up in this past year!
    We can all learn from each other. My goodness, I wouldn't want to be having to buy feminine products for 5 that is for sure!!

  14. great advice! and packing a brown bag lunch cuts cost ! i am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can!

  15. You have some great ideas here. These are all worthy goals for all of us, really.
    I loved the idea of the awning, I am going to look into that one before next summer. I think it will help on cooling our home next summer.

  16. Great goals and suggestions for 2012. You always inspire me to try harder at saving and living on a budget. I love the once a month freezer meal idea. I want to try to implement that one, too. Happy New Year friend. Patty

  17. Great ideas Elaine. I know just what you're saying. My son is driving and my daughter will have her license soon. And then there's college around the corner for both! I've been frugal since I decided to stop working many years ago and stay home with the kids. I cook all our meals,(healthier too) watch the sales & use coupons if I find them for items I use. I need to start freezing a few meals again. Thanks!

  18. Great words of wisdom...We all need to cut back..I know that this household for sure needs to and with your post, I now feel motivated even more so..
    Thanks for posting

  19. Hi Elaine! I am in inland Orange County and those awnings sound terrific to me. I would love to ask you more about the college thing, but I couldn't get your email to upload. Mine is if you have a chance. Also-on the food...if there is a Sprouts near you, they have the BEST prices on produce, double savings on Wednesdays, and the bulk food is fabulous (all baking supplies, all grains, plus all kinds of treats without the wastefulness of excess packaging). Please visit if you have a chance! Blessings, Steph.

  20. Just wondering if you post some of your freezer meals. I am always looking for some new ones!

  21. I agree with Deb who uses CVS. You can get so many free items using ECBs. I am a new follower visiting from Hope Studios. Vicky from Mess For Less

  22. Hi..I came over from Holly's blog. The best thing for me is to stay out of the stores unless I absolutely need to go. I just do without now as in this doesn't really need a can of chopped green chilis etc...everything is so expensive. I also have started buying the #10 cans (really big ones) and dividing it up and ranch style beans. Looking forward to reading your past and future posts..

  23. I definitely want to do the same thing - I'll be blogging monthly about ways I find to cut expenses in every arena ... my goal is to save!


  24. Great post! I was just trying to think of ways to save money! thank you :)

  25. Fabulous advice, thank you and thanks for linking up!