Frugal Family: Cut Bills, Bad Habits, Prices, Calories

This week Frugal Family offers simple, easy-to-keep-New Year’s tasks that have immediate impacts on your health and budget. Take a look at tips to save on power bills, cut back on bad habits, shop smart, save time and money on food and improve your heal

This is the time of year for making resolutions to improve our lives. With the best intentions and lots of hope, we usually find ourselves failing miserably and feeling guilty in short order. Most of the time the failure to succeed is because we set our expectations too high.

If we can’t save a set amount of money each month for that cruise, how do we expect to turn financial savvy overnight? Just as it took years to develop bad habits like overeating or smoking, it is going to take time to undo them. A much more productive way to reach our goals is by taking small steps in the right direction, things we can succeed at today and feel a sense of accomplishment. Attaining a goal creates confidence and allows us to tackle the next, harder step to our goal.

This week Frugal Family offers simple, easy-to-keep-New Year’s tasks that have immediate impact on your health and budget. In the last year, the following actions on my part saved me over $1000, enough to pay for that cruise I am taking in the Spring. The best part of saving that money is that it didn’t require a huge, concentrated effort on my part. You can do it too.

Save on Power Bills

Invest in the energy saver light bulbs. They cost $5-$12 per bulb and have a slightly different hue than the regular kind; they also cut my power bill by $40 per month.

Make a Daily Habit an Every Other Day Habit

For me specifically, it is a 32 ounce frozen cappuccino from Quick Trip. During the summer they were on sale for $0.87 and I got hooked. When they went back up to $1.37, I was still hooked. I finally decided I couldn’t give them up but I could go a day in between without one. That decision saves me $20 per month.

Shop the Dollar Stores

Don’t assume everything is poor quality—it’s not. Hundreds of brand name items are sold at these stores and cost at least twice as much for the same thing at a regular grocery store. Some of the best deals include:

  • Spices - Many specialty spices can be found here for $1 compared to $3 for the exact same thing at a grocery store
  • Gift Wrap, Tissue, Party Supplies – Half the price or more than even the cheapest large retailers.
  • Books, Puzzles – Sudoku books cost $4.99 at Target; the same ones at the dollar store are $1. Many, relatively current good hardback books may be found. Disney games and puzzles are also always in stock.

Comparison Shop Online 

Most retailers’ websites offer in-stock inventory for each location. Before you waste your time, gas and money check to see who has what is on your shopping list. I found iPad screen covers for $5 at the Five Below store in Woodstock. At Kohl’s, they were $19.99. If you haven’t checked out Five Below yet, you need to. Click here to visit their website. Also, many stores offer online deals not offered at their locations as well as free shipping.

Cook Ahead and Freeze

Check the grocery store ads weekly for the best meat deals. Grill all of it or make a stew, lasagna or several casseroles with it. For example, I sometimes buy family packs chicken breasts or pork chops. I grill all of it and separate into freezer bags to be used for any number of dishes through the week. It has that wonderful grilled taste and takes five minutes to heat. This habit will prevent last minute trips to a fast food restaurant if time is pushed and is much healthier.

Make Subtle Changes in Your Diet

You may want to start out by using a cooking spray instead of butter or having your chocolate fix in smaller portions. Making small adjustment over a period of time will eventually become the norm, and over time there will be no need to change your entire lifestyle overnight. Diet isn’t an activity you “go on” within a certain time frame. You eat every day, so why not eat the things you love with adjustments?


Research the programs in your community that offer stop-smoking support and help you cope with the physical withdrawal and weight management. Wellstar Kennestone offers a four-class program that covers all of those things. Click here for details.

In summary, setting attainable goals help you reach them faster. It is self-sabotaging to have an “all or nothing” mindset when setting up lifestyle changes. By making small adjustments in your daily life, you will see immediate results and gain the confidence to take on the harder challenges.

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