Frugal Foods

If you are eating on a tight budget here are some of the foods that I think give you the best value for your money. I’ve divided them into healthy and not-so-healthy but some of them could have gone in either category.

Healthy(ish) Foods

– Whole chicken (as low as $0.39-0.69 / lb on sale)
– Eggs
Protein/Carb combo:
– Dried beans
– Frozen peas

– 5 – 10 lb bags of potatoes
– rice
– oatmeal (the big tubes, not the individual flavored packets.)

– Apples
– Bananas
– iceberg lettuce
– Romaine lettuce
– Frozen mixes like the $0.98 Asian veggie mixes at Wal-Mart (I get Peking or Mandarin)each bag is around 4-5 servings
– Check farmers markets and Asian markets for good deals on unusual veggies. Basically, if it is cheap, leafy and green and not a lettuce, you can stir fry it.
– Carrots
– Celery

Misc. Useful Stuff:
– 1 can of non-stick cooking spray (Wal-mart store brand is only $1)
– 1 can multipurpose Creole seasoning (Tony Lachere brand I think only $1.50 or so)
– Sam’s Choice brand salsas (Wal-mart, $1.50)

Credit for the healthy foods goes to Maggie Wang who provided this list to me.

Not-So-Healthy Foods

Bread-This is really cheap if you get it at a bakery outlet store.

Tortillas-also very cheap. The corn ones are cheapest but I only like the flour tortillas.
Peanut butter-a little peanut butter spread on a tortilla makes a tasty and filling snack. And a PB&J is the classic cheap lunch.

Pasta-you can get a large box of pasta and a can of sauce for less than a dollar each making for many cheap meals.

Ramen-It might not be very healthy but you can’t get a much cheaper meal.

Mac and Cheese-This is probably my favorite cheap food. I’d eat it even if it weren’t cheap.

Soup-Many varieties of soup are very cheap and it is very filling.

Hot Dogs-You might not know what is in them but if you want meat this is one of your few frugal choices.

I’m sure there are a lot more frugal foods I didn’t list. If you have any suggestions to add you can leave a comment about them.

I’m Frugal, So Why Am I Poor? Part 2

This is part of a three part series where I am examing why I am poor despite being frugal. In the first part I stated that the first reason is because I’ve never made much money. Today I’ll be examining the second reason for my being frugal but poor.

The second reason is because although I’ve been frugal in almost all areas I’ve had a couple of weak areas where I couldn’t control my spending.  My major weakness used to be gambling. It didn’t really matter how frugal I was because any extra money would be gambled away. I’ve had my gambling under control for a few years now. I still gamble occasionally but I don’t let it get out of control. It is much easier now that I no longer live in Las Vegas or work in the casino industry. The temptation to gamble is still with me though and I have to keep it in check or I know I could go back to my former ways.

My current weakness I’m not going to disclose. It is something I’m still struggling with and probably always will. I’ve kept it mostly in check this year but the temptation is still there. Unfortunately this temptation is one I can’t really move away from. I know I have to keep these weak areas under control or I’ll always be poor. This is another goal I am setting for myself. In the next part I will examine the final reason I’m frugal but poor.

5 Ways To Not Use Your Credit Cards

These tips are for those who are having trouble controlling their credit card spending but do not want to cancel their credit cards. (Cancelling your credit cards can lower your credit score and reduces your leverage if you need to negotiate with the credit card company.)

  1. Don’t carry your cards-If you have to return home and grab your credit card before you make a purchase it should give you time to reflect on whether you really need to make that purchase. I only carry my credit card(s) if I’m traveling or am going to use it for a specific purchase. I’ve found this method very effective in reducing impulse purchases.
  2. Freeze your cards-This is an old trick. Just put your cards in a large plastic bowl or glass filled with water and place it in the freezer. Since it will take a while to thaw you’ll have plenty of time to think about your potential purchase.
  3. Give away your cards-Give your cards to a trusted friend or relative. Having to ask for your card back and possibly explain what you are purchasing should make you think twice before making an impulsive purchase.
  4. Cut up your cards-With your cards cut up you shouldn’t be able to use them, except possibly online. Once you’re confident that you can control your spending you can ask for a replacement card.
  5. Wrap up your cards-Wrap your cards up in a piece of paper like a birthday present. As an added measure write a financial goal on the outside of the paper.

Bonus method-This method is probably not a good idea for those who are having trouble controlling their controlling their credit card spending. Put a large 0% balance transfer on your card. You won’t want to make a purchase after that because you will usually have to pay off your entire 0% balance before you can pay off the purchase and stop the interest charges.

I’ve used a couple of these methods and found them very helpful. If anyone has any other suggestions let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

I'm Frugal, So Why Am I Poor? Part 1

This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately. I’ve been frugal all my life. My mother was frugal when I was growing up. She grew up poor and then she had to support me and my sister on minimum wage while rarely receiving child support. She was frugal by necessity then but she stayed that way even when her financial situation improved. Frugality is a trait that I acquired from her.

I’ve come up with three reasons why I am poor even though I am frugal. The first reason is that I haven’t made much money in my life. I’ve probably had over 100 jobs in my adult life and the large majority of them were low paying. Even when I had a good paying job it didn’t matter because I never stayed at the job very long. My pattern was to work for a while,save up money,then quit and live off my savings. When my savings ran out then I would just start the pattern all over again. This has allowed me to travel and do some things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I just had a two week vacation every year. Although if I had been a little more patient I probably could have traveled without depleting my savings.

I’ve never liked working much though. My mom is a hard worker but somehow I didn’t acquire that trait. That is nobody’s fault but my own of course. Since I’m turning 40 this year I don’t have much time to fix this problem. To fix this problem I’m going to have to find a good paying job and stick with it. I’m making it a goal this year. That would fix the first reason why I’m still poor. I’ll detail the other two reasons in later posts.