Friday, October 3, 2008

How to Get By in Hard Times

Hard times can come upon anyone at any time. You never know when you might not have a steady stream of income or when your income will be low. But here are some ways to save money if you need to:

1. Resolve not to spend. Period.

2. Learn contentment---Paul, the apostle knew how to be content with much and little. Contentment goes hand-in-hand with thankfulness. Isn't it great that we are learning some character through it all? The other day I was teaching my children about needs and wants and how the Bible says our needs are basically Him, clothing and food. What a short list compared to our frivolous endless 'wanting' and 'coveting'.

3. Cook from scratch---there are so many great books out there that teach us how to do this, it is literally a never ending process. I am currently reading through How to Feed Your Family Healthfully for $50 a Week. Not to mention it is healthier than eating processed, packaged foods.

4. Shop at the lowest priced stores. In our area there is Aldi and Walmart, it took a while for me to change my shopping habits and shop at these stores, but eventually I made the shift. Don't forget the bakery thrift store either!

5. Shop at produce stands. We have one less than a minute from our home---huge pumpkins are only a dollar! I just bought one at Wal-mart for $3.87 (I actually thought I was getting a deal since the pumpkins at another produce stand was way more than this!) That is highway robbery! Can I please take it back for a refund? Just kidding--but you see, if you shop at these stands you can get amazing savings, savings that beat even Aldi! Just last week they were selling a 25 lb. box of tomatoes for $4 and yesterday a 25 lb. box of plums for $2. If you know how to can this is a great investment to stretch it out over the winter--or you could also just freeze it.

6. Do garage sales and have one.. Finding clothes at 25 cents or a $1 a piece is a steal and a wonderful way to save. Dave Ramsey suggests selling all our things with 'gazelle-like intensity' in order to get out of debt and/or save money. I am still exploring this option! Also, when you shop at thrift stores, find out when they have their 1/2 off sales.

7. Stretch your meals. Once I read a book on how to stretch a chicken out for 3 days. The first day you use the breasts in a meal, the next in a casserole and the last in a soup. Unfortunately, that is hard to do in a home of 10 with just one chicken---I could probably do 2 days. But the principle still applies to other meals.

8. Live Simply, Eat Simply--Back in the old days people probably had 2 or 3 outfits in their closet-- certainly not packed up high and overflowing. They ate simple meals like beans and cornbread or potatoes and squash and food that was in season. Here is a helpful book on eating healthy for just $50 a week that might encourage you.

9. Go Meatless---choose to eat less meat in the week and do rice and beans for a week instead. Here is another great post with great bean ideas. Soups are easy, great for fall and rich in vitamins. This year gardening has a wonderful experience for my family. This winter I plan on learning a lot more about this amazing and natural way to feed our family and double our plot and harvest for next year. 

10. Make do with what you have. Decorate for fall with what you have on hand at your home. Start thinking today about the holidays and gift giving. READ, READ, READ how to be a better steward of your things, food, time and money. If you do all these things in this list you will probably be able to put aside some money to help make some ends meet.

Here are a few helpful sites:

Five Dollar Dinners - tons of meal ideas on a budget

Money Saving Mom- tons of great deals and how-to's on saving and making money.

Frugal Fit Mom - YouTube Mom and frugal dinners

Surely you have read all this before. This is just a small reminder and encouragement to help you through some hard times. You might need to step out of your comfort zone, but it is definitely doable!

If you need more reading on this topic, you we recommend 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero:

Ever feel like your budget has gone off track, or make it to the end of the month and wonder where your money actually went? A month of no-spending is the perfect way to reset your spending habits, but doing it alone can seem downright scary.

What if there was a simple resource that offered a month of daily challenges for spending not just less, but absolutely ZERO. What if you could gain confidence from daily ideas for planning your meals, getting your home in order, and becoming more creative—all without spending a dime? 

You can find this book HERE.

Note: This post contains affiliate links--thanks for your support!


~Tammy~ said...

Thanks for your common sense list! All things I used to do when my children were small but had grown away from during our empty nest season. Time to practice thrift and be a true help to my Husband.


Anonymous said...

I, too, am a big fan of Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette books. Mrs. Dacyczyn retired in 1996 and doesn't have a website. She did do an interview in May, 2008, with which is a update on her life. Have a great weekend.


Anonymous said...

We are certainly looking at ways to become more frugal, too. Thanks for you list of ideas.

We were able to stock up on peaches and blackberries for fruit smoothies from that farmstand a couple of months ago. We did have to sort out the bad but it was still a great deal.

I'll have to disagree on the warehouse thing, though. We have a membership at Sam's and though some of their prices are higher than Aldi we save a great deal there.

They always have the lowest price on milk - which is huge for a big family. They also have yeast for a great price. Their 2-lb packages are about the same or even less than the little 4oz jars at the grocery. (I bake most our bread now.)

Some other things we save on there:
liquid handsoap
dishwasher detergent
laundry soap
pizza sauce
pork and beans
shredded cheese

For those that don't have a membership and want to check on prices, you can find it all on their website.


Anonymous said...

A great list!
I read a book called Nourishing Traditions (Sally Fallon) and have been realizing that by eating more healthfully, we need less medical care and we actually save money by spending a little more on very healthy meals.
This is a great list and I really like all the reminders!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your ideas. Is "How to feed your family...." a book or an article? Thank you for all the great reminders

Virginia Knowles said...

I have several penny pinching blog posts at

These include groceries, decorating, health care and more...


Unknown said...

Lots of good advice - thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! Your #1 is key: Resolve NOT to spend! thank you for that reminder as well as what Scripture tells us that all we need is food, clothes, and Him!judy

Mrs. Anna T said...

Great suggestions! When my husband was growing up, meat was served only once a week, and they were 7 people in 2,5 rooms. If they did it and not only survived but thrived, anyone can! :)

MondayCampaigns said...

Everyone is looking for creative ways to save money these days – I actually do try and go meatless for a couple of days a week and it saves me a ton of money! I thought you might be interested in some more meatless recipes - I work for a public health campaign called Meatless Monday and we have a huge recipe archive with many nutritious meatless meals. ( I hope you find this helpful!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering where you found the book "How to Feed Your Family Healthfully for $50 a week." I looked for it but was unable to find it. Could you tell me more about it?

Penelope said...

This is great advice, thank you so much for a wonderful article. As I'm trying to soon quit my part time job and focus entirely on keeping the home, it is especially relevant to me.

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...


Thanks for the heads up, I will need to edit that!



The warehouses are great, however, for my family at this time it is really an unnecessary expense. But it is good to know you can buy yeast in bulk there. We don't bake much homemade bread yet so I will have to remember that if we do begin doing that.



The book is actually called 'Eat Healthy for $50 a Week" by Rhonda Barfield---I was typing the title off memory so it might not have been correct when you searched for it. I will try to put a link in the article if there is one available.

Many blessings...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this sure has been encouraging.


Anonymous said...

I've posted on your blog before, and I don't know if you've seen my site, but I hope you are willing to look. Things have been really tight for us the last two years, and I've been typing up my recipes and ideas for making clothes over to help others. Perhaps it can help those you know. My husband works in Real Estate.

I also have made a price book there and compared warehouse prices and others on several basic items. We don't have an Aldi here, though I have heard about their prices and they reflect the prices we get twice a year at our local grocery store's case lot sale. I would encourage you to make a price book and see the best deals you have.

Our Sam's Club is less than Walmart, but our Costco is not--on the items I buy, which are flour, oil, rice, pasta, spices, etc. (Costco's spices are 4 times those at Sam's Club, and the spices at Walmart are much more; spices are important when you're eating the basics like we are).

Our local grocery store has beans and powdered milk much less than the Walmart, and they are both real near each other.

I do buy yeast, and baking soda, salt, etc at Sam's Club as well. I have not had to buy baking soda for 3 years. Salt is much cheaper at Sam's Club, too--about half the price of Walmart. Just compare what you buy.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I just found your blog so I know I am commenting way later than everyone else.

Those are excellent tips...

For us, we do use Costco to stock up on many of the basics and do save a lot of money. I purchase flour, rice, sugar, yeast, spices, toilet paper, cooking oil, laundry detergent, etc. there. I find with the bulk dried items I save a lot of money shopping there. We do not have an Aldi market although I have read great things about their prices.

I shop for what is in season and I try to avoid the center of the supermarkets as that is where the bulk of processed foods are and also the most expensive items. We have a discount grocery store in town that has excellent bulk prices on meat (even better than Costco). They have an excellent produce section where I can really load up. I just shop the parameter of that store and cook meals depending on what is in season. I stock up on meat when anything is below .99 cents a pound and then break those packages down into smaller packages and freeze in our deep freezer in the basement.

I grew up in a family of 8 children and my parents grew up in the great depression. I was always raised doing things in a very frugal manner. We have always cooked from scratch and eaten seasonal items.

Another way I found to stretch those budget friendly cuts of meat and vegetables is to cook various ethnic meals from around the globe. With the internet recipes are always easy to find.

One night we might go meatless but instead of the same old beans type meal with corn bread, we will cook different "Wats" from Ethiopia with their wonderful side dishes and Injera bread for instance. Or another time make up some sort of Korean spread with lots of veggies and Paijon pancakes rolled in lettuce and dipped in an asian dipping sauce, etc.

I grow a garden and can or freeze from that all summer and we eat off of that all winter. In the summer I will go pick free blackberries from the sides of the roads and empty lots to make up pies and jams for either canning or freezing. There is a lot of abandoned apple orchards to glean apples for apple sauce and cider. Then there is fishing and all kinds of other free foods out there which most people refuse to go out of their way to gather.

I live extremely frugal and most all of my clothing comes from thrift stores of which I go on Mondays when everything is .99 cents.

I could go on and on... but living frugal does not mean you are living with a lower standard. It just means planning and being wise.

kate steeper said...

I think ive done all of these down the year , but i still can achieve 9 people for 3 days on a chicken the size of a small cat. first day is cook the thing take off the cooked breasts chop then and throw them into a big pan of gravy , for cheapy chicken dinner . Then second day is take all the skin and leg meat chop real fine and its chicken fried rice . Third day is usually soup or stew ....

varickwt said...

I read lots of the comments, as I have lived overseas I have shed some of the ideas that people believe to be necessary to our living a confortable and happy life. I see people here talking about where they shop but no one seems to grow anything on their own. I grew up in upstate NY, my dad had a good job yet we always had a kitchen garden and there were apple trees and pear trees. Now that I live in Africa I have adopted different ways such as, TOILET PAPER. We don't use this, we use water and soap and then dry ourselves w towels that can be rewashed. Imagine how much money this would save every family each year adopting this practice. We wash from 5 gallon buckets, use just one bucket instead of gallons upon gallons of water (no hot water btw)...just a few things we do. In reference to beans, to speed up cooking time and make the tastiest beans ever, clean, soak then STEAM your beans in a pressure cooker. You use less energy and the beans come out perfect. A good one is not cheap but can last a lifetime. Also great for cheaper cuts of meat like brisket.

varickwt said...

P.S. No one has mentioned that Frontier carries herbs/spices/etc in BULK and are great quality found in natural food co-op's all over the US. I cringe when I see people shopping at big box stores to find their needs when smaller places often have better deals...

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

Thanks for sharing!

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

We grow some vegetables in the summer and fall but I would love to have a bigger garden. The food seems to go so fast with a family of 11! Thanks for the other tips!

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

I've looked through this book and it looks really helpful!

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

I added one on at the end! Hope that helps. :)

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

Thanks for sharing your link, Virginia!

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

I had them all too--lots of helpful advice.

Wild Leaf said...

Wow. I would love to buy a large pumpkin for $3.87!! But the last one I bought that was spray free and organic cost me $11. Granted it will last us a while, but here in Australia everything is expensive. Period. We have learned to grow our own food and source local food from our community or from friends and family, but we still end up paying a lot of cash. I do what I can to cook from scratch, buy organic, buy in bulk or grow what I need, but at the end of the day I'm a busy mum, juggling work and children and it is disheartening when good food costs so much, and processed food so little. :( We are always thankful to get through a week and have some savings, but it is so hard to economise when just paying mortgage, bills and gas for work takes a huge chunk of your take home pay. :(


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