Debt Free is Beautiful

There are so many Angela’s in my life.  You are going to be so very impressed with this Angela, she has a website called Grocery Shrink and she is going to share her story about how she and her family paid off a big bad bunch of debt lightening fast. Do you know how much I hate debt?  There is something very beautiful about a peaceful, debt free home. And it IS attainable. Plus, once you are out of debt, just think of all the extra cash you can spend on accessories!  Just kidding.  A little.

Hi friends, I’m so excited to be a guest poster here at the Nesting Place. I’ve been a long time reader, and Nester is a big celebrity in my book. I keep pinching myself to see if I’m dreaming :).

One of the things I get excited about is feeding my family healthy meals for pennies. It’s like a game and part of what enabled us to pay off $89,000 in debt a few years back. I never felt extravagant before we started our debt free process. We were spending a little over $400 a month for our family of 4. About that time a financial radio host announced a contest. The object was to pay off the most debts or save the most money in 6 months amount of time. The top 10 families in the nation were to win a trip to the Bahamas!

That was enough motivation for me. We cut our food budget to $185 a month and I started to pay attention to what I was doing. We were debt free in 4 months and spent the next few months stashing cash. (To get the whole story, sign up for my newsletter and it will be emailed to you after the cleaning recipes.)

{Nester’s note:: did you READ that people? Debt free in FOUR months!!}

While we were in the Bahamas with the radio celebrity, I mentioned that I would like to start a home business making sewing patterns. He said, “You need to start a business teaching others to be you!” I had never thought of that before, but soon after the Grocery Shrink was born.

At the Grocery Shrink we have several e-books available to help families slash their grocery costs. The main e-book , The Grocery Shrink, is over 100 pages of my step by step method and recipes with planning charts and worksheets to help you squeeze the most out of your grocery dollar. Our latest e-book, Slow and Savory Suppers, is only $3 and a collection of 31 all natural slow cooked dinner meals, one for every day of the month.

With the Grocery Shrink method, we recommend families work their food budget down to $50 per person per month or $200 for the average 4 person family. We don’t use a lot of coupons but focus on savvy shopping and using what we have. Fruits and vegetables are a definite must, as are whole grains, and naturally raised meats. If baking your own breads and pitas and cooking without boxed mixes feels overwhelming, we will show you how easy and nutritious it can be!
I have 5 children that I home school while I work from home. I understand how busy life is and still use a $50 per person budget of $350 for our family. Believe it or not, I had money leftover last month which I will use to stock up on necessities for the future. I’ve met lots of frugal mama’s in the internet world and firmly believe anyone can do what I do and do it better. Here are 10 basic tips to give you a head start on your grocery slashing journey:
1. Switch over to cash only for groceries. Decide what you can afford to spend every month and put that amount in cash in an envelope. When the cash is gone, you are done shopping until next month. Studies show using cash reduces spending by 30%! And you will always know when you are near the end of your budget. I keep my cash in a coupon organizer like this one, a sewing pattern available on etsy from isew. This allows me to easily get money from several budget categories in one store.

2. Inventory what you have on hand. You may have a little or a lot, but it’s important to use up what you have before it goes bad.

3. Look at the Grocery Ads and evaluate what the good deals are. Just because it’s in the ad doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Just because it’s a good deal for that item, doesn’t mean you should buy it. For example, I’ve seen a local chain advertise a “low price guarantee” on an item and noticed that the same item was less expensive a few weeks ago. It was the lowest price in the area for that day, but another day you will find a much better price. Buy as much as you can afford of the items that are their lowest price ever. Aim for 6 months worth of non-perishable food in your pantry.

Also consider that while frozen hash brown potatoes will go on sale for $1 for a 2 lb bag but real fresh potatoes will go on sale for $1 for 10lbs. Fresh potatoes are a much better deal and healthier too.

4. Before hitting the stores, check www.becentsable.net and see if there are any coupons available to match with the sale items you are planning to purchase. They will tell you what coupons match up with the sales and where to find the coupon in your paper or where to print it online.

5. Make a meal plan centered on what you have on hand and incorporate the sale items. Plan to store extra sale items in your pantry or freezer to use later on in the year. Click here for detailed instructions on how to make a meal plan and printable sheets to write your plan on.

6. Learn to make something new from scratch to save money and improve health. You can make yogurt in your crock-pot. Sprouts take 1 minute a day to grow and are ready to eat in just 3 days! You can make 100% whole wheat bread at home that is soft, sliceable and with a fine crumb. Try homemade tortillas, granola, or pitas. You can always go back to buying them, but you may find you prefer your own.

7. Make the foods you used to enjoy in a restaurant, at home. Pizza, grilled stuffed burritos, Fettuccini Alfredo, spinach queso, submarine sandwiches. . . you name it, you can make it.

8. Pack leftovers for the working spouse’s lunch. Taking a lunch instead of buying it saves about $2,000 a year! I pack my husband’s lunch before serving the meal. That way I am guaranteed to have enough for him.
9. Take food with you when you run errands. Then eat your picnic lunch instead of stopping for fast food. Look how easy it is!

10. Reevaluate your necessities.  Diapers, baby wipes, paper towels, dinner napkins, and paper plates all have washable, reusable counterparts. If you don’t sew, old t-shirts cut into squares do not require a hem since they don’t ravel. They are super soft and make great washable toilet wipes or face tissues. Homemade cleaning supplies are inexpensive, effective and environmentally friendly. Click here to get my favorite recipes: www.groceryshrink.com

10a. Also think about the foods we buy that are treats, things like ice cream, cookies, cakes, crackers, soda, chips, and juice. While these items do not contribute to our health, it’s okay to have them for a rare treat once in a while. The average American family spends enough on these types of foods each year that they could take a family vacation on a Caribbean cruise ship just by forgoing the pleasure and saving the money they would have spent in a trip fund! It’s amazing what can be saved just by letting rare treats be rare treats.

P.S. It’s easy to overlook what food you can grow at home. We have a small yard in the city but found space in our flower beds for organic herbs and vegetables. It’s fun to step out the door and gather fresh organic food to serve immediately. If you can grow enough, canning and freezing fresh produce for winter use is easier than it sounds. My favorite resource is the Ball Blue Book.

This is just the tip of what we do over at the Grocery Shrink. You’ll find our blog which daily posts new money saving ideas and projects; a forum where you can talk to other frugal folks; and a weekly newsletter that reports reader tips and questions, encouragement for you on your frugal journey, recipes, and highlights from the blog and forum. I can’t wait to see you over there!

***

Thanks Angela, you saw value in living like no one else and now you GET to live like no one else!  I signed up for the Grocery Shrink newsletter and have purchased one of her ebooks that has already inspired what we ate for dinner just last night! This is how people get out of debt quickly, they make drastic changes, it can be done.

Here at Nesting Place, I do not advocate going into debt to furnish your home.  It is never worth it.  Avoid it.  Plus, when you are forced to be creative, that’s when the real fun begins!  It’s amazing what a slipcover, paint on the walls and furniture and fabric on the windows can do to a builder grade room.

So, I know you want to talk about this–are you going to take the $50 per person per month challenge?

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Comments

  1. Scott Bradshaw says:

    I never thought about being debt free when I was young. Once you take out your credit cards you immediatly start to spend. High interests will drown you and you will begin to fall deeper into debt if you cannot control yourself. Debt Management is very important in order to plan for the future and save, instead of spend. Credit cards can become very dangerous if not used with proper care.

  2. There are so many ways to cut out unnecessary expenses and be creative and resourceful. Being dept free allows me to open my mail box without any fear of what bills may await me, wondering if they can be paid. Several years ago that was where I was at and it was indeed very stressful! One small step at a time, the little things add up! (Both towards creating dept and eliminating debt!)
    Janell

  3. i heart you so very much, it is rare to find someone who hates debt as much as we do, and believe you me we HATE HATE HATE debt. Anyways, it’s encouraging to find others who don’t buy into the credit lie. Thanks for your blog.

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