Our Summer of Frugal Fun

Summer is officially wrapped up for another year. My oldest has started kindergarten so we’re getting back into a routine and I’m left with memories from a great summer.

I am so, so glad that I took time off from regular posting to Simply Frugal. I do not regret my decision at all and valued the time I spent with my family. There were even some days when I didn’t even turn on the laptop! I realized that it’s okay to step away from work. The world didn’t crash ;).

However, I missed you all and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things around here. Back to posting regular sales, coupons and other fun frugal things that you’re used to seeing.

In today’s post, I wanted to share about our summer of frugal fun. A recap of where I’ve been all summer, if you will. Also, in the recent survey that you were kind enough to fill out, many of you mentioned wanting ideas for frugal fun. Entertainment ideas on the cheap. I hope today’s list will give you some ideas even if they’re specific to our area.

Ideas to inspire your own frugal fun

Waterslides

Normally, our local waterslides would be a pricey excursion. But at the beginning of each season, they sell hourly passes for a fraction of the cost of regular admission. This is a great deal in and of itself, but I actually snagged a pass from someone in a Facebook Buy & Sell group who couldn’t use the remainder of their hours. I got a smokin’ deal. 26 hours for just $30!

Reunions

August was a busy month. Two weekends were spent at family reunions that were held here. Each family was responsible for some aspect of the food. We also played some old fashioned (cheap) games like potato sack races and wheelbarrow races. We also held our own ladder ball and horseshoe tournaments. It was cheap fun for us!

Outdoor Group

Most Thursday mornings, I would take the girls to an outdoor group put on by a local community group. Each week was at a different park or splash pad. The kids can play or do one of the activities brought by the facilitators. They also provided a great snack each week. I’m sure most cities have something similar to this!

Outdoor concerts

Our city and a neighboring city host a free music night each week in a local park. Every week features a different local band. It’s a fun family friendly night. Perhaps your city has something like that?

Beach

Living in the Okanagan, beach days are mandatory. I’d throw in the towels, sand buckets and snacks and off we went for a few hours at the beach. We made good use of our pop up beach tent and picnic blanket this year!

Cherry picking

Also because we live in the Okanagan, cherry picking is a must. One afternoon, we headed to a local orchard and picked buckets of fresh, delicious cherries. For only $1.50 a pound, you can’t beat that for the perfect sun ripened cherries!

Pool days

My husband has a cousin who has a pool so we spent a couple of days throughout the summer at their house swimming around. It’s always great to know somebody! 😉

Playing tourist

We played tourists in our own area one day. We took a drive to a nearby town to walk the wonderful boardwalk they have that runs all along the lake. We had family visiting so we threw in the bikes for the girls and our walking shoes. We had a blast biking, playing on the playgrounds, sharing fish & chips and scoping out the cheapest ice cream joint.

All in all, it was a fantastic summer spent with family and friends! I’d love to hear how you spent your summer. What sort of frugal fun did you have?

How to Cut Back on Household Expenses in Just 15 Minutes

If you are finding yourself strapped for cash, it may be time to look at your regular household expenses. Often we are paying for items we aren’t even using, don’t need, or could use less of. So how can you cut back on your household expenses without feeling like you are giving everything up? Luckily, you can do this in just minutes a day. Look at these tips on how to cut back on household expenses in just 15 minutes, so you can free up some cash and find some relief from living paycheck to paycheck.

How to Cut Back on Household Expenses in Just 15 Minutes

How to cut back on household expenses in just 15 minutes

1. Take a few minutes each day to turn off unused electronics.

It only takes a few minutes to go through the house and turn off any electronics not in use. This means lights, radios, or even plugged in appliances. By doing so you can significantly lower your monthly electric bills, plus your house will stay cooler in the warmer months.

2. Go through the Sunday paper each week to clip coupons for items you use.

Grab the Sunday paper and comb through the coupon section for coupons you can use. You don’t have to extreme coupon, just clip out the ones you know you will use. Doing this each week can save you anywhere from an additional $10-$20 off your weekly grocery bill or any services you may need.

3. Call your credit card companies and negotiate a lower interest rate.

Credit card companies will often negotiate your interest rate as long as you have been timely with payments. Call and start the discussion. If they are hesitant, you can always tell them you are considering transferring your balance elsewhere. This typically helps them budge.

4. Call your cable company and negotiate a lower rate.

While most utility companies aren’t in the position to negotiate, cable companies are. There are lots of cable and internet options out there, so it is always worth seeing what you can do with a phone call. Chances are they will lower your rate, offer additional channels for free, or even extend your trial rate. You can let them know you are considering a new carrier, which often helps them budge as well.

5. Make a list of free things to do in your area.

Ask Facebook friends to name free things in the area for couples and children. This will help you accumulate a quick list you can consult instead of spending big bucks going out. You will be amazed at how many free activities are in your area, and having a go to list on hand will help.

6. Use your library card.

Running into the library once a week for books, magazines, audio books, movies, and music can help you cut back on the costs of these items. There is no need to have magazine subscriptions, rent movies, or purchase music when all of these items are available to you for cheap or free.

Are you ready to cut back on household expenses? Consider these tips for how to cut back on household expenses in just 15 minutes, and see how easy it can be.

I’d love to hear your tips for quickly reducing household expenses. Let us know your tips in the comments!

5 Tips You Should Know To Start Your Frugal Lifestyle

Credit card bills, utility costs, mortgage costs and groceries are only a few of the common costs that we face while running a household. These costs are often high and many families are finding that the dollar does not stretch as far as it used to. Rest assured, there are small changes that can be made in your frugal lifestyle that can help you to simplify and leave more money leftover in the budget at the end of the month.

Here are 5 Tips You Should Know To Start Your Frugal Lifestyle:

5 Tips You Should Know To Start Your Frugal Lifestyle

Ditch the Debit Card

A few dinners out, a stop at the movie store and the mall – grabbing a coffee on the way into the Supermarket, these are all money traps. Leave the debit card at home and it will be just that much harder to reach into your wallet and grab the last twenty bucks. Do this for one month and you will likely be shocked at how much you are impulsively-overspending.

Cut One Luxury

Something as simple as cutting the movie channels from the home cable network can save up to twenty dollars a month. It doesn’t have to be cable, it could be that expensive latte on the way to work, or that splurge on expensive eye-makeup can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

Brown Bag It

Brown bagging it has come a long way since cold sandwiches. Choosing recipes for dinners that would refrigerate well to make hot lunches for the next day is a great way to repurpose meals and avoid waste. Finding inspiration through Bento lunches, and having fresh options available can be a great way to give the Brown bag a make-over.

Bring the Restaurant to Your Kitchen

With a little research through popular recipe websites or Pinterest; you can bring your favourite restaurant meals home. These popular copycat recipes are readily available and ready to be made in your kitchen. With the ingredients purchased, it’s quite likely that those ingredients on the shopping list will make more than one meal. Plus, it’s often less expensive than eating out. What a great idea for date night!

Stop Buying New

Bright and shiny items from the store only remain bright and shiny until you bring them home. Why not buy used from Facebook groups, Craigslist/Kijiji, local garage sales and even swaps for baby and children’s gear. Purchasing these gently used items can save up to fifty percent on the items that may have been purchased in store anyway! Give your wallet a break and break the addiction to new items.

Frugal Living doesn’t have to mean that you have to change all the aspects of your lifestyle. By making slight changes in the way that you live can help you find the extra money in the budget to reduce the pinch that comes with increased living expenses.

What was your first step to frugal living?

Dollar Stretcher Tips For Grocery Budgets

I’m always looking for great dollar stretcher tips for our grocery budget and thought I’d share some of my favorites with you. These are great ways to make simple grocery items go further, therefore saving you money on your grocery budget. I love being able to feed my family great meals they love, but still stay on budget and meet our financial goals. 🙂

Dollar Stretcher Tips For Grocery Budgets

Dollar Stretcher Tips for Grocery Budgets. Grocery saving tips. Grocery budget tips.

Add powdered milk to your milk.

If you’re feeling more adventurous this idea may be for you! (However, you may find you get used to the taste pretty quickly.) Split your 4L jug of milk into two cartons. Prepare a gallon of powdered milk and divide between the two now half gallons of milk. Mix together and use as normal. Powdered milk is much less expensive and mixing like this will still taste the same while saving you money on one of the most often purchased and used items for a family budget.

Add beans to more than just soups and chili.

Dry beans are always super cheap and easy to cook in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. I love making large batches of pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans then putting them in 2-cup portion bags to use in everything from soups and chili, to mashing into my ground meat for spaghetti, tacos or casseroles. They take on most flavors they are seasoned with, and their texture is great for all kinds of dishes. This can make one pound of ground meat go twice as far in a casserole or soup!

Don’t fear using carbohydrates.

Starches and carbohydrates tend to have a bad reputation, but as long as you are including a lot of great nutrient-dense vegetables into your diet as well it’s not a bad thing to include things like rice and potatoes as a base for casseroles. Rice and potatoes are a great dollar stretcher for almost any meal. In fact, roasted potatoes, green beans, and roasted chicken is one of the easiest and cheapest meals you can make for your family. It’s healthy, satisfying and easy to manage. The potatoes add bulk to the meal without being high fat or unhealthy, and they are so cheap it makes your meal very affordable.

Batch cook your meals.

You may wonder how or why this can be considered a dollar stretcher for your grocery budget, but it really is a great way to save. When you buy larger quantities of meats and produce, you often save a significant amount of money. Next time you find chicken, pork or beef on sale in large “family sized” packages don’t hesitate to grab them, then cook in simple ways and portion to freeze. Chicken can be roasted and cubed for everything from salads and soups to casseroles or fajitas. Pork shoulders can be roasted and pulled for use in BBQ, casseroles or tacos. Batch cooking meats, produce and even whole meals and freezing for future use saves you time, money and tons of frustration each evening when you need to throw a simple meal together fast.

These are great dollar stretcher ideas for your grocery budget. Just a few simple changes can save you hundreds of dollars in grocery expenses over the course of a year.

How do you make ordinary grocery items stretch further? Let us know in the comments below!

Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Under $5

As the saying goes, ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’.  So while this is true, it can also be the least expensive and easiest meal to make of the day. With using items like sausage, veggies, eggs, and other ingredients that are easily accessible, you can easily make breakfast for the whole family for under $5.

9 Healthy breakfast ideas for under $5

Here are my favourite Healthy Breakfast Ideas for under $5:

  1. Greek Yogurt and Fruit – You can usually pick up a tub of Greek Yogurt for under $4. Use some frozen fruit and maple syrup for a topping and you have a delicious breakfast.
  2. French Toast – One of my family’s favorite meals is French toast… for breakfast or dinner ;). For some reason, we can’t get enough of it. I don’t mind because using whole wheat, I can make the French toast semi-healthy! We add fruit topping or peanut butter instead of real maple syrup sometimes.
  3. Banana with Peanut Butter – Is there anything more delicious than bananas and peanut butter? I think not! It also makes for a very filling breakfast for little ones. If your child doesn’t like bananas, try cutting up an apple for them. Delicious, healthy, and simple!
  4. Breakfast burritos – Using low carb or whole wheat tortillas, mix up eggs, salsa, and cheese to make a yummy breakfast concoction.
  5. Oatmeal – The lovely thing about oatmeal is that you can make it simple and healthy. Oatmeal is cheap and can feed a lot of people at one time. I’ve got three great recipes for oatmeal: Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal, Chunky Monkey Oatmeal or Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets.
  6. Fruit salad – One of my favorite healthy meals for under $5 is taking all the leftover fruit in the fridge and mixing it together to create a fruit salad. Sometimes I add a bit of yogurt on top. Yum!
  7. Veggie omelet – A dozen eggs can be bought for a little over $2. Make a yummy veggie omelet to feed your family a healthy meal for under $5.
  8. Sausage and Eggs – Keep breakfast simple by making sausage and eggs for your breakfast of choice. My family never complains about this meal.
  9. Homemade banana muffins – If you have old bananas in your possession, make some muffins out of them. A simple breakfast that will save you money! These are my most favourite Banana Chocolate Chip muffins.

These 9 healthy breakfast ideas for under $5 will help you stay on budget and keep you feeling great all day long. It’s easy to swing through the drive thru and get caught up in a $20 breakfast for the family. But instead, it’s just as easy to make your own breakfast at home for $5 (and stay in your pajamas!).

What healthy breakfast ideas do you have for under $5?