Saturday, April 4, 2009

Help A Girl Out?


Our local parks and rec department has contacted me to teach a class on creative savings but I have NO idea exactly what to teach. I've been living this frugal lifestyle for so long that it's just normal stuff for me so I have no idea what would actually be interesting or fresh information to someone else. It's just my life, you know? So when I was stumped I thought, "Well, I've got these Internet friends who might be able to help me out."

Any ideas?

If you had the chance to attend a class or workshop taught by me, what would you want to learn?

36 comments:

Holly said...

I would have to say, exactly how/where to get started. I think it's easy to tell myself, "Okay, we're going to do this right now." but the truth of the matter is, I'm too overwhelmed much of the time with just living in survival mode with four children, that I don't take the time to sit and really think about where it would be best to start. I hope that makes sense. I think you're doing an incredible job, so anything you say is going to be beneficial to others.

Jennifer said...

Hmm.... Stockpiling for when the stuff isn't on sale, then you have them. How to make many meals out of one set of items. I'd love to learn how to use leftovers. I hate to say it, but, we end up throwing leftovers away. We don't know what to do with them.

Diane said...

Some things I would want to learn:

Making your own cleaning supplies

Cheap subsitutions (e.g. soy flour in place of an egg, etc.)

The practical aspects of shopping (like how to add up how much you're spending as you put things in the cart)

Planning menus

karen robertson said...

Frugal cleaning. How to do it, how to make stuff. Is it as good as the store bought, does it disinfect, is it safe. How to get started for cheap etc etc.

Jackie said...

I think info on frugal meals, how to work within a budget for meal planning. Definitely recipes for cleaners. Places to find good deals that people who aren't frugal don't know about. I have a friend who is just now trying to go "frugal" and she didn't even own a grocery store discount card...duh! Some people never even think about the things that come so naturally to frugal people. Good luck!

km said...

I think I'd have to say...divide it into catagories. Frugal in the Kitchen, Frugal Cleaning & Laundry, Frugal Shopping.

Coleen's Recipes said...

How about ways to "extend" a meal. For example, when my boys were teenagers, I could make sloppy joes (for example) for 5 kids with a pound of burger. But when they brought home an unexpected friend...I learned to "extend" by adding kidney beans or a little bread crumbs to the meat. That is a topic I would be interested in.

ap_msu03 said...

I would say the biggest help to me has been the menu planning. That has helped me shop on a budget more than anything!

Julie said...

I'd suggest thinking back to when you lived a less frugal lifestyle. What are some of the biggest differences between they way you did things then and the way you do things now?
I think showing small steps toward change would be helpful, too.

Laura said...

How about menu planning, shopping from a list, budgeting your meals, shopping at CVS and Walgreens. Couponing and saving as much as you can at the grocery store. How to work the deals and give to the food bank if you have too much. Saving electricity by cooking more than one thing at a time. Organizing your freezer so you know where everything is. Buying in bulk and what to do with it all. That's about all I can think of now. HTH.

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

I have a friend who just did something similar. Let me know if you want me to hook you two up. :)

Jennifer said...

I think it's really helpful to know how to make things from scratch that people normally buy pre-made, ie. chicken stock, taco seasoning, hot chocolate mix, microwave popcorn, etc.

Homemade gift ideas and frugal entertainment ideas, like Redbox or the library would also be good.

For me, a full-time college student and newlywed, easy, quick things are great. I think a lot of people think money-saving things are time consuming, so concepts like menu-planning and freezer meals are a great help.

Also, it's always good to discuss the frugal mentality: that there are so many things that we think are necessities, that we can learn to do without if we need to, such as disposable paper towels and napkins, meat for every meal, etc.

Katie said...

If it's a class that meets more than once, you could have a set agenda for the first class (how you got started, your "strategy", tips, etc.), and then you could have them fill out some kind of survey asking what they'd like to get out of the class. If it's a one-and-done class, then I like the suggestions already mentioned! How fun! Good luck:)

Jean said...

Price comparison? Why it pays to pay attention to prices... go to a store which will save you more in long run. Give examples. Give a number on how much they really SAVE in a year by doing some investigations regularly. Think about speaking on subject on being contended with what you already have and be willing to part with what you don't really need (either by selling or not replacing it when broken). Think about speaking some on MANAGING money responsibly. Managing money and trying to cut corners here and there goes together like peas in same pod.

Internet? Use it at library.

No cable TV but have broadband internet? HULU.COM and you might be able to watch your favorite shows anyhow.... for free! REDBOX, paying very close attention to find free rental codes.

I could go on and on.

Consider sharing same 'expensive' equipments with trusted friends.

Maxine said...

I have two rules:
(1) Do not shop for recreation.
(2) Do not buy something for the purpose of throwing it away (plastic trash can liners, paper towels, etc.)

Also, the poster who throws away leftovers...we eat them for lunch the next day. Also, if I've got a lot of dibs and dabs in the fridge, I put them all out for dinner and let the family pick and choose what they want to eat. It's a "free" dinner and I don't have to cook it, either--a winning combo.

Mom of Many Messes said...

I agree with all the above comments! I enjoyed the post where you described the exact details of your shopping trips (your clipboard/menu plan). I am a detail person, so I enjoy learning every crumb of knowledge and then I go back and see what (if any) of the steps are applicable to me. I'm sure you'll do a great job! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

For me, it would be everything that Diane above said. People are always amazed by the making of your own cleaning supplies - it just isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

Liz said...

I think you should include some very basic recipes from scrath, so many people I encounter dont keep flour in their kitchen because they dont know what to do with it! Home made cleaning supplies, or "make do" solutions that you use would also be great. I think a lot of people would be interested in your frugal homeschooling, even if they are not homeschoolers, a lot of people like to do some activities at home with the kids, right?

Rachel said...

Try to figure out where your students are- you don't want to repeat all of the old, "don't shop when you are hungry",etc if they are already past that.
A handy exercise for a food "unit" is to take a supposedly frugal recipe such as chili, and do a comparison ingredient by ingredient to show how each choice affects the final cost. The first could be wandering around the store deciding, "I think I'll have chili tonight", buying everything full price, with perhaps seasoning packets and premade cornbread. The second could be stocked up on sale meat and canned goods. A third could be super frugal, homegrown tomatoes, bulk bought beans, etc. If your students are not used to truly seeing what they purchase, that can be a useful template. I would recommend reviewing "The Tightwad Gazette". It has some of the best logical thinking, relating our actions to our outcomes and understanding that there is no right or wrong here; it is about setting your priorities.

Betsy said...

If it's the park and rec dept asking you for this, perhaps your audience would also appreciate reminders of the "free" activities in your city/state that your tax dollars have most likely funded: parks, libraries, some museums, etc. My kids love those things and we go many times (as opposed to a once or twice visit to an expensive bounce house). You could talk about inexpensive lunches on the go if you have any ideas--so many people work and/or their kids are in school. I think that's one of the hardest categories to be frugal in as far as food goes.

Anonymous said...

My non-frugal friends who are AMAZED at my frugal ways always seem to have the hardest time meal planning. Looking at sales - they can't believe how I can plan to roast a chicken one day and make a casserole the next. It's easy stuff to most of us, but many just don't know where to start with this.

Debbie said...

I can relate! I am getting ready to do a short coupon class with our homeschooling group, but I am so nervous! I feel like I have been doing it for so long, I could never explain how I started! You have this great blog and perhaps going back through it a bit, jotting notes down and thinking about why you started doing the things you do will help you get a good base. Then, expand from there. You coupon-show your coupon set up and how you get your coupons. You cook from scratch, as other said, share those recipes, maybe even breaking down the savings for people. You get the idea :) Wish I lived near you so I could attend your class! I bet it will be great!

elizabeth said...

I find a lot of people don't read their grocery flyerss and compare. This week, the two big name stores in my area had way better prices on meat than the "discount" store. I actually stopped someone in line to tell them strawberries were a dollar(!) cheaper down the street.
Also thigns that you wouldn't think of al the time, like using dry milk (way cheap) to bake with instead of the milk you need more for the kids to drink. And coupons, Meal planning, homemade cleaners. ( a gallon of white vinegar is way cheaper than a spray bottle of chemicals!)
Good Luck! I'm sur you'll be great. And anyhting you may use for handouts would be appreciated posted here, hinthint, hehe. Thanks always.

elizabeth said...

I remembered one more. Learn to take care of your clothes. Learn the art of stain removal. In addition to your stuff lasting longer, if you're shopping and you see a top with some makeup on the collar from the last person who tried it on, or a cardigan with a button missing, you'll know how to fix it, and the store will usually give you 10% or so off of the damaged piece. sneaky frugal.
:)

Anonymous said...

One of the ways I was able to afford/fund a vacation in the 80's when times were also tough was to place into a savings account all the money saved each week at the grocery store through BOGOS, coupons, etc... Of course this will not work as well if your budget was built on a fixed amount. You would only be able to save what you did not spend from your budget. Since the class is creative ways to save money, I thought this is one suggestion that might work for some.

Mel said...

I echo many of the posts here. I also would suggest keeping in mind everyone has different tastes and limitations. What works for one person might not work for another because of family size, food allergies, income, picky eaters, etc. I've also found that getting a stockpile together, no matter how cheap I can get the food, costs money to start with. I would want to know how to get the momentum going. Good luck!

Vicki said...

Create a baby step plan towards frugal living. It's always a work in progress, and like Holly said, can be overwhelming in finding where to begin. Then show them how to do each step, offer tips, etc. If it is a single class, it still might be too much information for newbies but if it is a series you could present a step or subject matter and give "homework" so they can apply it to their own lives before the next class time. You have great routines and tips on your blog already. I think it just needs to be organized into a plan. Also, don't be afraid to 'dummy it up.' It may be routine for you and you may think, 'well I don't need to go over this because it's just common sense.' I am sure it will make a light bulb go off in someone's mind!

bonnie said...

I was coming here to search your archives for help, so maybe this post can help me! I have four kiddos (one more on the way), my grocery (plus non-grocery) budget is $200 a week, and I still go over (and we're still out of food by Friday).

It looks like 3-meals-a-day planning is important, whereas I only meal plan for dinner.

I've started pre-making and freezing quick snacks/meals (burritos, pizza rolls, etc), but that didn't really help me spend less the last two weeks.

Do you have a food price "journal"? Could you teach your class (or me!) how to get started with that?

We don't buy prepackages snacks, other than crackers & corn chips; we don't buy frozen (convenience) meals; we do buy organic if we can, and nothing that has HF corn syrup in it.

But I still spend way too much money on groceries, and don't have enough for all these hungry, healthy kids!

Monkey Momma said...

Something that took me a year to figure out: I'm not Gayle. D'oh. LOL! I stalked your blog faithfully for over 12 months and never once made an effort because what you do, does not work for me. But I finally decided to get off my butt and do what works FOR ME. Which was a different budget with what resources I had, that allowed me room for my extensive food allergies. Such freedom when I finally "got" that. Started with menu planning, turned into a weekly budget, and I'm finally feeling adventurous enough to try some of your "homemade" things that a year ago, I'd never consider. (Home made microwave popcorn.) Home made cleaning supplies are now being considered.

I think one of the first things to share is that each woman has to be creative and patient enough to forge their own journey through this and to NOT expect perfection. It's like a diet. So what if you're over budget this week. Try again next. Don't let it derail you completely. I'm kicking myself now for not getting this last year when I discovered you. Just thinking of the money I've wasted makes me so mad. LOL!

Kelli said...

I think meal planning is a big one. I'm always amazed by the number of women who just go to the grocery store and "buy stuff" and then figure out what to cook at 5pm every night. I know that when I plan my meals I easily shave $100 (i'm pretty cheap to start with) off of my grocery bill

Michelle said...

I think it would be valuable for you to teach the class the things that I've learned from you:

1. Homemade detergent - I LOVE that I do this now. It literally makes me happy. And I tell everyone about it. Some ask for the recipe...some don't. All are intrigued. Also other homemade solutions.

2. Shopping at discount stores - you have inspired me to start shopping at the grocery outlet again. And what I (and my family!) love about this is that there's always something NEW there. So you never know what you might find and this makes the menus more exciting!


3. Snacks from scratch - I got on a kick making muffins for snacks and it made my family very happy. I haven't made them in a while...but I'll get back to it. I added flax for extra health and used applesauce at your recommendation. It made me feel good to know I was feeding my family good stuff.

Depending on how long the class is maybe you could also do a sample menu and a sample shopping list. If they're paying for the class it might be nice for them to leave with something tangible...a small amount of homemade detergent, a master shopping list, a few recipes on cute recipe cards. Make it personal and fun! Whatever you do the students will benefit from your knowledge. Good luck!

Jeanna said...

Gayle, your site is wonderful! Just providing your blog's web address will be inspiring to people. There are other great sites out there so I think just sharing these sites with others will be helpful - some resources. As far as learning real "scratch" cooking, the www.Hillbillyhouse.com site has great recipes and she does menus for Angel food ministries. Good luck and I know you will be an inspiration to the people in your class!

HeatherMama said...

I, for one, do not agree with teaching about making your own cleaning products. My aunt makes her own laundry soap, and by the time she buys all the ingredients, she's spent more on "homemade" than if she caught a good sale and stockpiled on All, Purex or Arm & Hammer detergents. I buy all the detergent I can get my hands on when I see they are around $1 or so with a sale and coupons. I think making your own only supports the "unfrugalist's" theory that being frugal means you have to sacrifice. I have a house full of name brand products that I have stocked up on for FREE or close to it, rather than store brand items that cost several times more and have no coupons. JMHO.

BUT, I do like the idea of sharing your shopping trip in detail. Maybe a powerpoint with photos of your items, then a breakdown of how much they cost, what the sale was and how much after coupons.

Anonymous said...

You'd be surprised at what new wives/moms don't know. When a friend of mine was newly married she didn't know she needed dishpowder for the dishwasher and filled it with handwashing liquid. Another friend didn't know she could buy a family pack meat and divide it up to freeze in meal size portions. Maybe a newbie class and an advanced class.
-Kattmaxx

{THE BOHANS} said...

The importance that some things may work for one person, and not for another. i just can't coupon to save my life right now, but I like stockpiling sale items. Baby steps!

Beth K. said...

I continue to find it so inspiring to see HOW much you can save at the grocery store. Before I started paying attention, I would think-- eh, so big deal, a difference of $.50. But then after seeing your weekly grocery bill, and then paying attention, I realized that if I saved $.50 on everything I buy, that I would have substantial savings. Then by shopping store sales, I have saved on average 50% of my grocery bill.

So I would show a comparison of a weekly shopping, not on sale, and then that same shopping showing using your money saving methods. You could also do the same comparisons of saving $.10/gallon on gas over the year, etc...I was literally shocked when I did these types of calculations about how much over the course of the year I could save. By doing this, it became a big motivator to make it happen-- all those $.50 and $.10 do indeed add up. You could even do this for meals out, coffee out etc....We discovered doing these calculations we were literally wasting $1000s per year. That alone would be helpful to describe to people.