Frugal Rules! *loooooong*

I saw Zombieland last night. No, I didn't go by myself and sit alone like a loser (sorry to anyone who actually goes to movies alone, that is not my thing). My brother and his girlfriend came down this weekend, so we decided to go out once they got here. We got a sitter and yes even though I hate paying people to take care of my kid (when I could be doing it FOR FREE) it is a necessity! So Zombieland. Great movie if you like that sort of thing. Hilarious. Buying snacks at the theatre? HOLY COW! For 2 medium drinks, 1 large popcorn and a bag of candy- $18.90! NO LIE! Miss S (my brothers girlfriend) and I had to combine our change so that we could afford the snacks. It was excruciatingly painful to pay that kind of money. Oh well, we were going for the experience and you cannot go to the theatre without getting popcorn (with extra butter, a 72 cent add on) and Rootbeer (with no ice). Thankfully we had free movie passes (Thanks Mom) so we didn't have to pay for the movie, which *I guess* made spending $10 on snacks a little less painful...

So, back to the point of this post. For anyone who has seen Zombieland, there are a set of rules that the main character sets out as to how to survive in Zombieland. I decided to do something similar here. I don't like rules, so for the sake of this blog, I'm going to create some guidelines...you can take them into consideration, if you feel so inclined.

#1. BUDGET. Know how much money you have coming in, know how much you have going out for necessary things (ie: rent/mortgage, insurance etc) and plan accordingly. Nothing can dig your grave faster then living beyond your means. Make a budget and stick to it. Debt is bad.

#2. MEAL PLAN. I will be posting my family's meal plans every Saturday (starting next week) so you can see ONE way of doing it. The most important thing about this is the 'plan' part. You need to know what you are making so you know what you need to buy. You also need to know what you have in your house so that you can make meals that require you to buy a few new ingredients...kwim?

#3. MAKE A LIST. When you go grocery shopping, make sure you TAKE A LIST. Then buy only what is ON THAT LIST. If you plan your meals properly and write up a list based on what you need, then you won't be wandering around wondering what to have for dinner and making silly purchases. It makes grocery shopping faster as well. Go in, get what you need, and leave- and for anyone with a small child/ren will know- the quicker you can do it, the better it is.

#4. CASH ONLY. When you go grocery shopping, only take cash. Leave your cards at home. If you only take $50 with you, you can only buy $50 worth of stuff...meaning you will stick to your budget and if you are a smart shopper (like me) then you'll get everything you need and maybe one thing you want (like bacon).

#5. DISCOUNTS/COUPONS. I only buy meat when it has been discounted. I also buy it with the skin on and the bone in. It is not hard to skin and debone ANY PIECE OF MEAT, especially when there is an added 30% sticker on it and you know you will freeze it the second you get home. Also clip coupons. Saving $1.00 on a $4.00 item kicks butt, and so do 2 for 1 coupons. You might be the annoying person with 4-5 coupons but if you are saving $4-5 bucks...who cares what the people behind you think.

#6. AT THE TILL. This may be taking it overboard but it helps the cashier and you look less stupid, trust me. When you are putting things through the till, put the items you need first (things like milk & eggs) and the things you could do without (things like bacon and Count Chocula Cereal) last so if you get to your total ($50) before you get to the last of your items, you are nto searching around the bags trying to decide what items you want the cashier to remove from you bill. Smart eh...

#7. LEFTOVERS. Make big meals, even if you are just cooking for yourself. Stick them in the freezer in single portion sizes and defrost when you need too. If you do this with your dinners for a week, and get 2 additional servings that you can freeze, then that is 2 "free" meals that you have in the freezer. After a week, you'll have 14 frozen meals that cost you nothing extra. The trick once you have those frozen leftovers is to incorporate them INTO your meal plan. I call these 'freebies'. It's one night of the week where I, 1. don't have to cook and 2. don't have to spend any money for that meal. If you defrost the meal, reheat in the oven or microwave and serve with a fresh salad, it is like a new meal.

#8. DIY (do it yourself). Make your own bread, pizza dough, buns, cookies and muffins. Make pancakes and waffles on a weekend and then freeze for later enjoyment. Make granola, and fruit leather. Can your own tomatoes, applesauce, pickles and salsa. If on average you are spending $20 a week on pre made items like cookies and buns...you can start cutting that $20 (after the initial investment of the things you need to make those items) out of your grocery bill and you can SAVE it or use it else where. An easy trick that will save you money immediately.

#9. BULK=BAD *usually*. People think Costco and other bulk places are awesome. They think they save SO much money. But that usually isn't the case because people aren't smart shoppers. On specific items like toilet paper, bottled water (which you shouldn't be buying anyways) and juice boxes it's usually a good plan. But when you are buying meat (even though it's great quality) and their fruits and veggies, it's not a good plan. Buying in bulk leads to waste, you won't eat 4lbs of grapes in a week, so they will go bad and you'll end up throwing them out. You might as well buy fewer grapes at your normal grocery store and save yourself the money. Places like Bulk Barn are deceiving as well. It's good for somethings and bad for others. You just need to use your head.

#10. BUNDLES. For things like your phone, internet and cable- bundling is the way to go. I don't care who you do it through, but most companies offer packages so you'll end up spending less per month then you would be if you go through different companies for all the items.

#11. INSURANCE SMARTS. Like with the phone, internet and cable, go through ONE insurance broker for ALL your insurance needs. And ask about discounts, because they usually exist. We save money by signing up for automatic withdrawls, and we save money because I'm a student, and because I'm going to be a teacher. I KID YOU NOT. We save close to $20 a month because I actually spoke to my insurance guy. They are competitive, and they want you to go with them, so you need to get the most for your money. Be strong and don't be afraid to say no and change insurance brokers if yours isn't giving you the best deal.

#12. ENTERTAINMENT. Do you like to read? Do you like movies? Library & Renting. That is all folks. Books are expensive. Don't give me the, "but I like to own them so I can re-read them" crap. I am the owner of a few books...but generally speaking I either borrow from friends (yey friends!) or I use the library. It's free and the selection is great! As for the movies...rent, don't buy. It's too expensive! If you are like us and rent more then 5 movies a month, it is actually cheaper to sign up for something like Zip. You pay $25 a month, and the movies are sent directly to your house. It's sweet. We really enjoy it. Sign up here for more information.

#13. RAINY DAY. Always set aside money from each pay cheque. ALWAYS. You never know when you are going to need emergency money and nothing is worse then not having it. A credit card is great, but it's not free money.

#14. LOANING. In most cases loaning money (being the giver or the taker) is bad *Student loans being the one exception to this 'guideline'.* The interest will eat you alive and then spit you out and eat you again...and that is never comfortable. Student loans are the exception because they are necessary. If you need a post-secondary education to work your dream job, then you'll need help. I understand that. I am currently knee deep in student loan debt, but it does not worry me. You'll have to pay it back, but you'll have a JOB so you'll have money to pay back. All worthwhile in the end. They also offer interest relief for those who need a little time to get back on their feet.

#15. SECONDHAND. There is nothing wrong buying things second hand. Almost all of Charlotte's clothes were bought used. Does she dress poorly? I think not. I will rarely spend more then $2 on ANY item of clothing for her. Babies/Toddlers wear their clothes for a short period of time, so what's the point in spending $20 on a pair of pants she will wear for 3 weeks. I'd rather spend $2 on a similar pair of pants, and then the remaining $18 on a few more outfits...it's just smarter that way. Places like Kijiji and Craiglist are great for buying and selling things second hand.

#16. EXTRAS. How do you cut the extras? Things like eating out, specialty coffees, road trips and holidays...you need to plan accordingly. If you know you are going to be going out for dinner on Friday, make sure that you are saving during the week so that you will have the money to spend at dinner. Make sense?? By not getting your Venti Caramel Latte everyday and drinking the free coffee at work you'll save the $25 it will cost for your dinner. As for holidays- set money aside. Be smart in September so that in December you have the extra $100 you need for Christmas gifts.

Ok- so those are the 'guidelines' that I could think of off the top of my head. There will probably be more to come, and I will probably refer back to these often because this is how I do it. It's pretty easy right...?!

My final thought goes as follows: don't say that you CAN'T afford anything, ask yourself HOW you can afford it.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.


  1. This is awesome Erin! Thanks for the tips!
    Ohh...here's a tidbit, at our movie theatre you can pay 50cents for butter topping or get as much becel topping as you want for free :D lol

  2. Great post. A few things I do:

    1 - when I go grocery shopping I have a budget. I keep track of the dollar value that goes in my cart with a pen and paper (usually the back of an old receipt that was floating in my purse). Since groceries aren't taxable, I round up and have never gone over. Ie: if an item is $4.29, I say $5.

    2 - Call your credit card holders, etc. and simply ask that they lower your interest rate. I did this last year and MasterCard lowered my interest rate from 18.99% to 13.99%.

    3 - I have tried numerous time to get a meal plan together and just get get 'with it'. I look forward to seeing yours in the coming weeks.

    4 - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, thrift store shopping!!! Most of Liv's clothes are second hand too. :)

  3. Brandy- I also shop with a calculator and my notepad. It is very rare for me to go over. As for the interest rate, I'm totally calling MC on Monday and talking to them about this. We don't really use or CCs though, and when we do we pay it back immediately, but I'll do that anyways.
    You'll enjoy my meal plans...they are super easy to follow and implement. That being said, I create mine using things that we already have in our house so that I don't have to buy a lot of new things...KWIM? Next week on Saturday morning, I'll post the meal plan, stay tuned. :)

  4. So....I bought my chicken with skin on and bone in today....Couldn't find breasts so tried thighs...ARRRGGG!!!! Tell me that breasts are super easy, because I will NEVER buy thighs, bone in skin on again %$#$&^#%^%# LOL


  5. Mary- chicken breasts are much easier then chicken thighs. With the thighs, I usually leave the bone in because I find them to be quite dry if I take the bone out. :) I should have mentioned that.

  6. I am going to try and find breasts today....the thighs were outrageous! LOL Where do you normally shop for groceries. I love safeway...even though I know it's more expensive....because of the airmiles =)