Fifty Tips for Frugal February

February Pin

Frugal February is a term I must have heard before, but I have certainly never acted on it. This morning I woke up thinking about it, and decided it was not only time for a post about it, but also to take some action myself. So I’ll be following some of my own recommendations, and I’ll do a post in early March on how I got on.

So here goes –

  1. Cook from scratch – it’s more economic, your food will be fresher, and have a lot less hidden ingredients, particularly additives and sugar.
  2. Plan your meals for the week ahead, and work out what you need to get. Try and minimise the number of trips to the shops to get it.
  3. Shop with a list, but flex according to what is reduced / on special offer.  We have a years worth of mayonnaise in the cupboard. Why? A couple of months ago, it was a major loss leader in my local supermarket. It’s best before date was 2018. It will be gone long before then…  My husband only buys what is on the list. I’m a lot more flexible.
  4. Be prepared to change your plans according to what is reduced. On Wednesday, I bought a chicken, it was reduced from £3.50 to £2.89 because it was on its ‘use by’ date. So we decided on an unplanned late roast chicken lunch…. We already had the veg in the shopping basket, carrots, cauliflower, sprouts, leeks, onion, potatoes (£2.10). Hence we had a lovely roast dinner for 2 for £5. But that chicken kept on giving. My husband had cold chicken for tea, I made 5 chicken & leek pies for the freezer, and a pot of soup produced 7 single servings of soup for the freezer. So I got 15 individual meals for my £5. Pretty Good.
  5. Get to know when your local supermarket reduces items for a quick sale before they go out of date. A Wednesday or Thursday is a good day near us. As it gets closer to 6pm, the prices get lower. However, a bargain is only a bargain if you are going to use it. 6 slices of something to use today, and you’re only going to eat 1, is not a saving, unless you know someone who can use the other 5 slices.
  6. Portion size – cut down slightly, you know your waistline will thank you. Weigh the pasta before you put it in the pan, you’ll get more servings out of the packet. Put a slightly smaller serving of meat on the plate, and add extra veg instead. Don’t justify putting extra on your plate by saying, it will just go to waste otherwise. Set it aside. If there’s two of you – the extra from both plates might be a meal for one the next day
  7. Use the leftovers – leftover potatoes can become a potato salad, or sauteed to go with a meal the next day. Leftover rice can be mixed with fresh cut raw veg to make a delicious and healthy rice salad.
  8. Make the most of the oven being on. If you have room, you could add in a fruit loaf,  a tray bake, or even pre-cook things for the next day.
  9. Get organised – if you know you’re going to be ravenous when you come home from work, leave your meal pre-prepared from the night before, or ready defrosted for you to come home to.
  10. Go vegetarian for a day or two a week. Eggs and vegetables are a lot cheaper than meat and just as filling. Pasta with tomato sauce is cheaper than spaghetti bolognese.
  11. Make your own apple sauce. It’s cheaper, takes only a few minutes, and has loads less sugar. You can freeze any leftovers.
  12. Consider using canned ingredients rather than fresh all the time. Tinned salmon makes a lovely pie for a fraction of the price of fresh salmon. Tins last for ages in the cupboard, so it can be a ‘backstop’ when you’ve run out of fresh alternatives. Canned tomatoes, and jars of passata are usually cheaper than making your own.
  13. Buy the ‘basics’ or ‘value’ range for your staples. Dried pasta is pretty much the same, once it is cooked and in sauce, but the difference in price is huge. I buy basics flour, butter, pasta, however, I do buy more expensive cheese because I notice the difference in flavour.
  14. Shop around your local supermarkets, see which one is cheaper for the things you normally buy, rather than just going to the nearest, or your ‘preferred’ one. You might be positively surprised. I am fortunate, I have Costco, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Asda and Tesco all within 2 miles of my home. I tend to go to one mostly, and then go round the others every month or so.
  15. Don’t assume buying in bulk is cheapest. Sometimes the unit price is higher, so watch the labels and do the calculations.
  16. Watch out for the’Everything £1′ or their dollar equivalent. Often the sizes are smaller, but other things are excellent value. Again do the calculations, don’t just assume they are cheaper.
  17. Keep an eye on your fridge & store cupboard, if you have something that needs using, plan a meal around it and use it up, rather than throwing it out.
  18. Instead of buying fancy rolls to have with your soup, try making these really tasty cheese puffs as recommended by Skint Dad. They will also work in lunch boxes. They’re very like cheese scones just a lot easier to make. (Far too tasty though!)
  19. I keep a bag of frozen cheddar in my freezer, so when the cheese in the fridge is getting a bit old, I grate it and add it to the bag. It’s really handy for sauces and baking, and a lot cheaper than buying ready grated cheese. The same goes for Parmesan. Grate it or flake the whole packet when you open it and freeze it. Then you are not left with a chunk of parmesan going mouldy, or paying the higher price for ready prepared.
  20. Parsley chops and freezes well. So if you buy some fresh, chop it and freeze it, and it is ready for when you need it.
  21. If you have some veg in the fridge that is looking a bit tired, think how you can use it. Often if they’re cooked, you wont notice the difference. Add them to a casserole, or roast them.
  22. Don’t buy any junk, or at the very least reduce the amount you buy. Your waistline will benefit
  23. Cut down on the booze or stop buying it altogether. Your skin and waistline will love you.
  24. See how long you can go without shopping. Live out of your store cupboard / freezer. You’ll be amazed how creative you can be.
  25. Cleaning stuff – Vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice and salt all have cleaning properties. You don’t always need to buy a product
  26. Turn down your heating thermostat by just 1 degree. You won’t notice the difference, but your bill will.
  27. Shrink slightly the times the heating is on for. Switch it off 15 or 30 minutes earlier in the evening, or maybe switch it on slightly later in the morning.
  28. Put some more clothes on. A warm jumper, thermal underwear, warm slippers. You’ll not need so much heat.
  29. Reduce your use of your clothes dryer. Hang your washing outside. (I live in Scotland, and in February this sometimes just doesn’t work!) Use an inside clothes airer, or put some things on radiator racks.
  30. Put a thermal lining in your curtains. A lot of heat is lost through your windows. Effective curtains can really reduce this. Make sure they are closed as soon as it is getting dark.
  31. Shut doors between rooms. Turn down heating in any rooms that are not being used (unless it is freezing, in which case keep them at a lower setting than the rest of the house)
  32. Invest in some LED lightbulbs. They use a lot less electricity and will soon pay for themselves
  33. Stop leaving things on standby.
  34. If you’re not going to use your computer for an hour or two, switch it off. We have a small study with 2 PCs in it. If they are on, we don’t need any heating in the room. They give off such a lot of waste heat.
  35. Instead of sitting down in front of the TV in the evening, get up and do something instead. You will keep warm, and not be tempted to graze (and hence save you money on food and energy)
  36. Reduce the amount you use your car. Could you use public transport, walk or bike it instead? It will do you good too.
  37. Take exercise. It warms you up and you wont need the heating on quite as much.
  38. Don’t go shopping for something to do. The chances are you will find something to buy. Go for a walk instead.
  39. Don’t buy something just because it is cheap or good value. The key question is ‘do I need it?’, or even better ‘do I need it now?’. I am an absolute sucker for a bargain, that ceases to be a bargain when I eat unnecessary junk or don’t use the item. They’re the things that are on the way to the charity (thrift) shop….
  40. Eat out Less – Every time you consciously don’t go out to eat, set the money you would have spent instead, and set it aside in a savings ‘pot’.
  41. If you do eat out, make it a cheaper option. Go for a special offer lunch rather than an expensive dinner. I live in Edinburgh and many restaurants have a 2 or 3 course lunch for £10, or even cheaper. Even better, you’ll only need a light tea. Again set the savings aside into your savings ‘pot’.
  42. Instead of going for a coffee with your friends, invite them round to you. Make a few tray bakes. It will still be cheaper than a couple of lattes. You might set a trend!
  43. Instead of going out for dinner with friends, consider hosting the meal yourself. Someone is bound to offer to bring a starter, or a dessert. They’ll probably bring some wine too. Make it just a family supper rather than a full dress dinner, so you can be relaxed. Everyone will enjoy it just as much, and you will all have spent a lot less. Set the money you have saved (allowing for the cost of making the meal) aside
  44. Sell some things you don’t need on eBay, Gumtree or (if in the US) Craigslist. You are bound to have some things to clear out. Set the money aside in your savings ‘pot’.
  45. Take some time to look at your bills. Energy, Insurance, cable, phone etc. Could you get them cheaper by asking your supplier? They want to keep your business so are often prepared to do a deal.
  46. Look at your bank statements. Are you paying for that gym membership you don’t use, subscriptions you have forgotten to cancel.
  47. Do you pay someone to do something you could do yourself. Mow your lawn, clean your house etc? Try doing it yourself, if only for one month, the exercise will be good for you.
  48. If you have some gifts to get this month, consider ‘home-made’, or a gift of your time, particularly for an elderly person.  Some home-made jam, and an offer to do something that they need, is far more appreciated than an object that will sit on a shelf. So an elderly neighbour might be delighted with an offer of a visit to a local town, or an offer to help in the garden getting their flower planters ready for the spring planting. A child would maybe like a special cake made for them, or the offer of an ‘experience’ rather than a gift. A new baby in the family – a patchwork quilt made from scraps, an offer of some hours of babysitting. Loads to choose from.
  49. Don’t buy any gift cards, birthday cards etc. Create your own on your computer, personalise them with a photograph, write special words. They will be far more valued.
  50. Have you any hobbies you could make some extra income from? Maybe someone in your office would pay for a home made tray bake once a month. Do you sew? Offer to do small repairs for friends and family for a small charge. Do you make things that you could sell? Jewellery, knitted items, crochet. Try putting some on eBay. You might be surprised.

At the end of the month, be honest with yourself

  • How much did you save by not going out to dinner, had friends round instead etc?
  • What is the difference in your February bills to your normal monthly bill?
  • Have you used less energy?
  • What profit did you make on eBay?
  • What savings did you make on your bills, cancelled subscriptions etc?
  • What money did you save by gifting your time rather than a gift/

Add them all up, pat yourself on the back, and add the money saved into your savings account. Don’t go off and splash it on something. All of the things above could easily be incorporated into your normal living, so multiply your Frugal February savings by twelve, and see what it would be worth, if you kept it up all year….

Update – if you enjoyed this, try From Frugal February to Miserly March

 

7 Comments

  1. These are all great tips! I need to do a “how long can I go without shopping” month soon. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing as you suggest – making my own apple sauce. Mr. G is picky about his red delicious apples being hard so once they start getting soft I just cook up a big batch adding a bit of water, lemon juice, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Occasionally I add some frozen blueberries.

    1. Hi Mrs G, Your recipe for apple sauce sounds better than mine, I don’t add cinnamon – i’ll have to try it! I shopped last Wednesday, have managed to stay so far, though the list of things I need is getting bigger…

  2. Erith,
    Looks like plenty of great tips here.
    Do you plan on doing another 50 for March?
    I have a few ideas for the post if you do decide to.
    Also thanks for the mention on your blog roll.

    1. Thanks FrugalFox.
      I may well do a March theme, I’ll be in touch.
      As for the blog roll – thank you for your support!

  3. Please subscribe me, cannot find how else to do it!

    1. Willingly!!

      I don’t know what happened with the ‘opt in’ screens. I’ll check the settings.

      Many thanks
      Erith

    2. Hi,

      KW. Thank you so much for your feedback. I’ve now changed the ‘sign up form’. Everyone will get a ‘pop-up’ option on exiting, to see if they want to subscribe.

      I’ve also added you to my mailing list.

      You will get about 1 or 2 emails a month giving you the key posts for the month. I definitely won’t spam you.

      Having fun
      Erith

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