Last week, I thoroughly enjoyed our own Cuckoo Momma’s piece on saving money on drug store brands of make-up vs. the expensive brands. Then, last Saturday, I was sitting in the nurse’s station at work documenting. Behind me, I heard one of the male nurses say “Back in the Marines we had a saying ‘We who have done so much with so little for so long can now do anything with nothing.” I whipped around and told the nurse that is the very definition of my life.
I have struggled hard for the six years since I said “enough” to a manipulative controlling husband and made him my ex-husband. He has since made it his life’s mission to make me suffer. He won’t be happy until I am left with nothing. I have become pretty good at getting a dollar to stretch pretty far.
I am no expert in this area, but I have been forced to get creative in ways of saving money as a necessity to live. Nowadays, making ends meet seems to be more and more of a challenge, especially for the single mom. I would love to share some of the ways I have made my dollars stretch to the breaking point.
First, I must say, I have the most incredible support system. I never visit my boyfriend’s farm without being sent home with a cooler or two stuffed with meat and sacks of pantry items. When my boyfriend comes to visit, he takes me grocery shopping. My parents are the best in the world. They are both retired, but my mom works three jobs and my dad works two just so they can scrape and save and send me money when I have nowhere to turn. When I break down to my mom in my shame for them doing this, I am told to knock it off, that they are just so happy to have me back in their lives, they don’t care.
So, here are a few ways I scrimp and save:
- Dane, Grant, Kristy, Bradley and I “Treasure Hunt.” We hit second hand stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army and consignment stores whenever possible. Garage sale time is almost a holiday for us. We love the hunt. Dane is especially gifted at spotting name brands. He has come home with Nautica, Ralph Lauren, Timberland, you name it. I, on the other hand am not a brand whore, and often prefer unusual pieces over names.
- Dane comes from a long line of antique dealers and has worked for an auction house in the past. He has found antiques at Goodwill that are worth significantly more than he paid. I have a friend who bought a new Burberry raincoat at Goodwill for $12. The key is to shop often. You don’t need to spend money every time you go, but new items are put out more often than in regular stores.
- Stock up on meat when there are good sales. If there is a cut of meat on sale that I am not familiar with, I google recipes for something new to try. I have spent hours picking fur out of squirrel Dane shot during squirrel season. Grant and Kristy don’t bat their eyes anymore at anything unusual I serve them. I have to admit, I am a terrible mother. I have forced my children to eat chicken that still has the bones in it. Yes, I know, but they lived. I was not allowed to buy anything but boneless skinless chicken breast when I was married to Ted. My kids had to learn to eat around bones.
- Obviously, store brands of food are always cheaper than the name brands, so I always go generic. Often, these items are even made at the same factories, just with a different label.
- Think outside the box. I shop at Aldi. I love the small town grocery store feel, and I literally save a dollar or two per item on some things I buy vs. Walmart brand. I have started grocery shopping at Menards. Seriously. The dog food I buy is $2 cheaper a bag, and I can get 200 load fabric detergent for $7.99. Jars of jelly are $1.99 and the jar has a handle that makes a good drinking glass when it’s empty.
- During the summer, the farmer’s market about 10 minutes away has fresh locally grown produce and other products. Many items are cheaper than the store, some are priced the same, but I would much rather support local farmers than big name stores.
- I also shop at the bakery outlet and pay 59-75 cents per loaf of bread. Today, for example, I bought 3 loaves of wheat bread, two packages of soft tortilla shells, a package of bagels and a package of Kaiser rolls. My bill was $6.93 including tax.
We have such an incredible support system here at Divorced Moms. We can help each other and if you do save enough money on other areas, maybe you CAN afford that designer bag you have been wanting for years, or just afford to pay a bill that needs desperately paid. I would love to start a side blog of ways to save money with each one having a specific theme. Please share your ideas and if you think you would be interested in reading and possibly participating in product comparisons.