How to Stop Being Frustrated By Frugal Blog Posts

Guest post from Lisa of Cooking Up A Sale

I can feed my family of 6 for $10 a week! It’s really not very much work. I hardly spend any time at all hunting down deals! And you can do it too!

Okay, not really. I wrote the above tongue-in-cheek, because I’ve never heard anyone claim that.

But reading stories like this can be frustrating as you work to lower the number at the cash register. To avoid frustration when trying to cut grocery and household expenditures, keep it real… by keeping these things in mind:

There is no magic, one-size-fits-all formula.

It’s easy to read those “How I Feed my Family of X on $X Per Month” and get frustrated, discouraged, and even annoyed. “I’ll never get my grocery bill that low, because my daughter has a food allergy/my husband won’t eat meatless dinners/we eat all organic/my store doesn’t double coupons/I don’t have a garden.”

Maybe you’re right. Maybe your monthly grocery bill won’t ever be as low as the author’s. But remember that you will never find another family exactly like yours with all the same ages, appetites, allergies, taste preferences, access to discount stores, and so forth. This means that your approach to saving money on grocery and household items won’t be identical to anyone else’s.

Instead of getting frustrated, take what you can from the article or blog post and move on. And then read another article or blog post and take what you can from that one. Pick and choose your savings strategies to create your customized cost-cutting plan.

The savings will not fall in your lap.

If you want to see that dollar amount drop, it’s going to take some work.

There are so many free resources available, from coupon classes and food trucks to deal-matching websites and frugal-living blogs. But you have to make the effort to find them!

Likewise, any advice you read will not do you any good if you don’t put it into practice. You can read one article after another about how to menu-plan, clip coupons, find good deals on produce, can and freeze in season, and get your toiletries for free, but if you don’t follow through on what you’ve learned, you won’t see the savings.

Time is money.

I’ll never forget that important lesson taught by my high school economics teacher! Not only do you have to put the effort into following through on money-saving advice and strategies, but all that follow-through takes time.

Matching up sales with coupons, making all your kids’ snacks from scratch, planting a garden… those are all great ways to save money, but each requires a time commitment.

You can’t expect to shave your expenditures very much if you’re not willing to commit at least a small amount of time to money-saving tasks. Stated positively, this means that, in general, the more time you spend working on ways to save money, the more money you’ll save.

It’s all about making choices… and compromises.

For example: because of my time and space constraints (and my brown thumb!) I paid to join a CSA instead of planting a garden. Secondly, although I know that eating rice and beans for supper one or more nights each week would save us money on food, I decided to try to stretch our meat a little further rather than serving meatless meals.

  • Maybe eating all organic produce is important to you.
  • Maybe you have multiple small children, so you decide you aren’t going to play the drugstore game.
  • Maybe you really need to tighten your belt, so you decide you’re going to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch (or supper!) all month.
  • Maybe baking isn’t your strong suit, so you decide to purchase snacks instead of make them from scratch.

All of these are choices that will affect the grocery line item of your budget. Some choices make it go up, and some choices make it go down.

Decide what’s important to you and your family, and then plan accordingly. And remember, different things are important to different people and this means that we all choose to spend (and save!) our money differently. Instead of getting frustrated with bloggers or commenters who make different choices than you, strive to appreciate the fact that there are so many different ways to save money.

There’s nothing new under the sun.

Well, maybe there is once in awhile. If you’re a newbie to frugal living, there’s probably a lot of new-to-you information available. But if you’re an experienced coupon-clipper/sale-shopper/menu-planner then you probably won’t have very many lightbulb moments as you surf the Internet.

Sure, it’s fun to discover a new way to save money on food and household items, but as a rule, the same basics (coupons, discounted produce, menu-planning, stockpiling) are preached by everyone for good reason: they work.

Don’t get frustrated when bloggers or others don’t constantly spoon-feed you new information. Instead, challenge yourself to think outside the box all on your own — and then have fun passing your own money-saving idea on to others!

It’s important to be realistic about our savings efforts so that we don’t get frustrated and decide to quit trying. Let’s all remember to encourage each other in our savings endeavors!

Lisa is a Michigan wife and mother who loves to spend time in the kitchen. She enjoys the challenges of menu-planning around grocery sales and creating delicious food using on-sale ingredients. Lisa blogs about two of her favorite topics – food and saving money on groceries – at www.cookingupasale.blogspot.com

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Comments

  1. Audrey says

    Very intelligent, well-written, and encouraging posts. I agree w/ the post above . . . one of the best articles on this site! Thx for writing Lisa, and thx for posting MSM!

  2. says

    Thank-you all for the kind, positive comments! I love reading through these comments because so many of you have great things to add about this topic. See, we *all* have good ideas to share :) As some of you have already said, let’s just keep doing the best we can with what we have in the place God has put us.

    • Ruth says

      Loved reading your article, Lisa! great job as always :) I enjoyed reading a lot of the comments too; lots of good advice for me b/c i have gotten frustrated too and have kinda just quit w/ my coupons and have tried saving money in other places. I really need to start again though! How encouraging to read so many nice comments on here!

  3. Christine says

    Lisa I agree with your statement Time is Money and would push this concept further by looking at the big picture. To get the actual cost savings on groceries you have to subtract the value of your time spent on couponing activities, shopping, prep, cooking, clean up, cost of non-food supplies and storage space, mileage, cost of energy to run appliances. Looking at the big picture will id the true cost savings if any and areas where we may be able to save further.

  4. Cara says

    I enjoyed reading your post. You articulated many things I was thinking. I’m new to frugal living (well, since graduating from college 15 yrs ago) and yes, I get a little annoyed with the bloggers who claim they pay so little for groceries and know how to work those coupons to do so. For example, one blogger I read claimed that the she could buy her diapers for $3 bucks or even get them free on a consistent basis. As a mom of 3, I find that pretty hard to believe unless using cloth diapers. I’ve never been able to find free diapers even with coupons & sales. I don’t compare myself to these people; I simply think that they are very misleading to their reading audience to make such claims: there seems to be some omisions made on how they live on “next to nothing” & with little explaining. So, I shy away from even visiting blogs such as these.

    What has helped me more than anything is learning about menu planning for a month at a time & batch cooking/baking for the freezer. Money saving mom has been a true blessing to inspire me as to what I can do better for my family. I was spending about $200 per week for groceries & houshold items/diapers, but have been able to cut almost in half since I’ve created simple menus for the month, shopping at Costco for bulk items to fulfill the menu items, and baking & cooking up triple batches for the freezer. I’ve also learned that our outdoor produce market has better prices than in our grocery store, so I shop there as well. As far as coupons…I use them if it something we already buy or use, but I’m not one to “chase” these super deals if I have to burn gas to get one item from one store. Time (and gas) are money. Maybe some day I’ll be able to grow my garden and do more, but I feel accomplished & come a long way that I can make these small efforts to stretch our dollar more. Thanks for the post! :)

  5. Jenny says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I quit reading a number of frugal blogs months ago for this very reason. Every family, every community, and every situation are all very different. I work full-time during the school year and I have learned that I have to focus on what is most important: taking care of my family. Spending time with my husband and children, keeping a (somewhat) clean home, making a decent dinner, keeping everyone in clothes, getting organized for the next day. I am also working on cutting out processed foods. The more I study, the more uncomfortable I become with the unrecognizable ingredient lists. Coupons are rare for many basic food items. I make a lot of food (but not all) from scratch, bake, and make some of my own cleaning supplies. I don’t feel that we spend all that much on food. I try to keep a decent stockpile and well organized pantry and that really limits my trips to the store, which ultimately helps save money. All in all, I have learned to show myself grace and to think about what is really best for my family versus what works for everyone else.

  6. The Deal Mommy says

    LOVE this post! I feel the same way about travel. I hear from so many people “I wish I could travel like you”. YOU CAN, you just don’t! The info is out there, we bloggers can lead you to it, but YOU are the one who has to step up and make it happen.

  7. says

    With so many desl sites and couponing television shows sharing examples of how yet another person got $157 worth of groceries for $0.01…it can become overwhelming. I always suggest that people subscribe to and folliw sites that inspire and motivate them rather than those that frustrate.

  8. says

    I love your tip about the CSA–it’s money well spent. I tried doing my own garden for the past few years, and all it led to was sunburn and frustration, and not a lot of produce. I should have rejoined the CSA this year!

    Leah

  9. Sally says

    I thought I was immune but the truth is I get crazy when I read posts from folks that can garden year round. I suppose I’m a little jealous.

  10. says

    Like real estate, it depends on location. If the blogger lives in the mid-west, they are definitely going to spend less money than me to feed their families BEFORE coupons. I live in an expensive state where a tube of toothpaste for $1 after using 2 coupons is considered cheap. Free toothpaste is a myth from my point of view.

    In addition, some of these bloggers are SAHM where they have more time at home than a working mom. Not that a SAHM is not working, but they have more control over their schedule to clip coupons and schedule chores, etc. For me, all the home chores could only be done on the weekends. And with a toddler, there is no way I have time to take advantage of certain frugal deals and activities.

    Knowing something about the background of the blogger helps put things in perspective.

      • says

        Toothpaste on sale is about $2.50 a tube. Even with a $1 off manufacturer coupon and a $0.50 to $1 Target coupon, I would still have to pay $0.50 to $1 a tube. Then when you add in the 8% sales tax, I still have to pay$0.70 to $1.20 for toothpaste. I tried, but I’ve never gotten free toothpaste!

        • says

          Did you check on the particular toothpaste I just linked to above? You should be able to get it free with the coupons linked in the post as the price listed is what it is priced at most Target stores nationwide (at least it was last week). And Target frequently has similar deals.

          You may have to pay $0.15 or so for tax (we have a similar tax rate as yours here, so I know how that goes!), but that’s still better than paying $1 for a tube of toothpaste!

          Keep your eyes peeled; there are deals out there for free or almost-free toothpaste in almost every single area of the country!

          • says

            Also, I’m not sure if you have any drug stores in your area, but Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens often have toothpaste that’s free or more-than-free after the instant rebate.