Meet the Thriftys (Part 1)

>> Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I've been thinking a lot about money. We don't have much (as a student and a recent graduate looking for a job, things are tight). But I want to do the best we can with what we have. I recently read the really short and simplistic book, How to Get Rich without Winning the Lottery. Like I said, the book was very simple, but it did help me change the way I think about certain things. The atuthor is of the impression that wealth means not having to work. His basic idea is that people should invest their money in a fairly high yield fund, get large returns over 20 or so years, and then retire early and live off their investments until the age of 65 when social security kicks in. I'm not of the same mind. First of all, his method assumes that people want to maintain the same lifestyle forever. So if someone makes $19 000 a year, that's what they should be living off forever in order for his plan to work. He also doesn't factor in the idea that one could lose their investments (the higher yield, the riskier they are) or that the government is saying that social security might not always be there. I also want to work. I want to have a career, so not having a job is not a goal of mine. Nonetheless, it still had some good principles.

The main thing I took away from the book is that no matter how little you have, you should always be investing or saving something. If it is absolutely impossible to live off a penny less than what you are making, then you should simply make more money. The book includes a brain storming session on how to do this, most of which include starting up a side business, getting a part time job, or working over time. I was inspired by this, so I called my church and asked them if I could get back on staff as a member of the child care team. I will only be working a few hours one day a week, but I can use that money to save and then eventually invest.

I've also come up with a meal plan. People always say one of the best ways to save money is to plan your meals, so I decided to give it a shot. Honestly, I hated it. It was much more confusing than something that sounds so simple should be (mainly trying to figure out what amount of food would make how many servings, etc), so you know what? My family and I are going to be eating the exact same weekly menu for awhile now lol. I'm just not making one every week. I just can't. We can swap some items out, though, so we don't go insane from the monotony. For instance, we usually have chicken, but this week steak was cheaper so we bought that instead. We buy one type of meat each week in a mid-sized quantity, and we usually only have meat once a day, if that. We cut the chicken (or pork, or steak) into strips and cook it. We then separate it into different containers for different days. Tonight we're having chow mein with veggies and steak. Tomorrow we will probably have homemade pizza with pepperoni and vegetables, but the next night we will have steak fajitas, another day steak and rice, etc.

We also don't eat the exact same snacks through the week, but it follows a basic plan. We're a pretty snacky family, so we make sure we have stuff to munch on when we're out and about so that we don't get hungry and want to buy fast food. On the menu for one snack a day I have written "fruit", then when we do the shopping I simply buy whatever fruit is on sale. This week we got clemetine oranges and strawberries (which our Baboo LOVES), last week it was apples and bananas.

I'm pretty happy with this new plan. We have three meals and three snacks a day planned out, at a budget we can afford. It's very exciting.

Some Low-Budget Meal Ideas (they are simple because I don't have time to be fancy):
-Crock Pot Chilli (we make ours with ground turkey) and garlic toast
-Grilled PB&J
-Tuna Casserole
-Chow Mein
-Meatball Subs
-Breakfast for dinner
-Soup, sandwhich and salad
-Shell Noodle Lasagna
-English Muffin Pizzas
-French Bread, Cheese and Wine (with grapejuice for the kiddo)

Low Budget Snack Ideas:
-Microwave Popcorn
-Homemade cookies
-Homemade muffins
-Homemade biscuits (easiest and fastest thing to make, ever)
-Pitas with hummus
-Cheese and crackers
-fruit salad

For Kids:
-shredded cheese
-mini bagels w/ cream cheese

Aside from food, we've decided to live on cash. We are going to take out our weekly spending money, separate it into evelopes labelled, for instance, "gas", "food", etc, and when the money runs out each week, that's it. I read that its much easier to live off cash than debit if you're sticking to a budget because your brain actually releases negative feelings associated with parting with cash. You don't get that reaction when you're just swiping a card.

So, that's the beginning of our new (even more) frugal existence. I'll keep you posted, and share a low-budget recipe or two.


D August 12, 2010 at 7:00 AM  

Those are some great (cheap and easy) meal ideas! And thanks for those reminders about saving and investing and using cash. I mean usually follow those general rules but sometimes we get side tracked. Great post!

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