Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Not Only Cheaper, But Easier

A while back, I wrote about saving money on break time coffee and snacks. I haven't done very well putting it into practice. But a post by James Clear today got me thinking about it again: Warren Buffett uses a two-list system to prioritize things. Check it out--and follow the instructions.

Using Buffett's two-list system, two of the goals I ended up with were taking care of myself and saving $400 more per month than I already am. As I said, I've been wanting to save money, and the system made me really focus on this. I came up with 11 money-saving ideas, six of which had to do with food.


  • Buying hamburger in bulk. Ranch Foods Direct sells one-pound packages of 80% lean pastured ground beef in bundles of 20 for a lot less than Whole Foods. Sprouts only carries super-lean beef that's grass-fed, and it's more expensive, too. 
  • Not driving to Whole Foods. Whole Foods is out of my way, and saving a weekly trip saves gas.
  • Coffee at home, tea at work. Tea is free at work; so is the coffee, but it isn't very good. No more coffee shops unless it's a social situation.
  • Filtered water instead of mineral water. Bye-bye, San Pellegrino. 
  • Buying cases of diet soda instead of going to convenience stores. Yes, filtered water would be cheaper, but I don't want to give up soda. Hey, even Warren Buffett drinks them.
  • Homemade protein bars instead of Atkins. My biggest savings--those things are expensive!

What surprised me is that most of these measures will be less work: one trip to buy 20 pounds of meat, no trips to the coffee shop (unless I want to take my tea down there--it's an open, lobby-type area), no lugging bottles of water home. All that should more than make up for making protein bars.

Now for the savings (click for larger image):


That adds up to $1,788.72 per year. Putting that in a savings account for 10 years at 1% interest, you'd have $18,805.01 in 2024. Invest it in stocks, assuming 10% returns, and you'd have $30,536.90. (See this calculator.) Not bad for taking some steps that are, overall, time and effort savers.

24 comments:

Galina L. said...

As immigrants who experienced relative hardship in a past, we already live in a frugal (according to local standards) way, but we do spent money on a bottled drinking water - I enjoy the convenience, and the city water in Florida is horrible. Filtered water in our household is for cooking and making tea and coffee.
I think our biggest money waste is living in a much bigger house than we need, but we like it.

Lori Miller said...

The city where I live just outside Denver has made improvements to the water system (you don't have to avoid washing whites on certain days anymore), but it tastes like sulfer. I love fizzy mineral water, but it's hard for me to justify when I want to save money.

Galina L. said...

I love a fizzy water, and I buy a club soda in 2 liter bottles. It is a real treat in a hot weather . When I go to Moscow, I really enjoy huge variety of mostly affordable mineral fizzy water. I guess, couple important splurges could be left untouched. It is also important to choose where to spent to get more for your money. I buy the best coffee around, but make it at home.I use only loose leaf tea - it is way better quality for much less money.

I went many times to mineral water resorts in a North Caucasus region. Most mineral water smells like a sulfur,so I guess there is nothing wrong with it - and it is great for your skin and hair. We moved around in the direction of the decreasing the quality of water - in Vancouver it was amazing, in Edmonton we bought our first water filter, in Florida water filter barely helps, in Tampa where my son goes to University, regular Brita filter is no help, it is either bought water or a very advanced filter required. May be water in Nebraska is quite decent.

Lori Miller said...

The water at my grandmother's house in southern Missouri smelled strongly of sulfter. She used to refrigerate the water, and that helped tremendously.

A problem with hard (mineral) water out of the tap is that laundry doesn't get very clean using cold water. Biz won't even dissolve in cool water here.

Val said...

Wanna post yr recipe for homemade protein bars??? TIA...
I've got to sit down REAL SOON & get a better handle on my budget; the problem here recently has been uncertainty factor of child support! We'd almost be better off if we'd never gotten it bcz when it's good, I get too used to having that extra space in my budget which makes for hard times when I'm NOT getting it. (Oh yeah I have sicced Attorney General on ex but when he's unemployed, ya can't get blood from a turnip! ;-)

Lori Miller said...

A friend of mine raised two kids from babies with no child support. (This was before the govt. got serious about enforcing support orders.) She ran a frugal household.

Galina L. said...

I agree - hard water damages equipment,and the water in Florida is hard, however our washing machine is working without glitches while we had to repair dryer at least one time. We decided not to install a water-softening system out of desire not to have another costly piece of equipment which would be in the need of maintenance. So far plan works.

Lori Miller said...

I put about 1/4 cup of vinegar in every dishwasher load to keep hard water stains off the glasses.

I just replaced a very old dryer with a good used one--the dry, sunny climate here is so good for drying clothes that the dryer didn't see much use over the 18 years I had it. (It came with the house.) I also had to have three plumbers come out to fix a different problem. Homeowners need savings if they don't want to end up in credit card debt.

Galina L. said...

Val,
I am sorry you feel pinched. May be you will find helpful some tips which helped me when money was very tight. When I was very short in income, I was buying only essentials,preferably in bulk, like meat, eggs, butter,sour-cream, vegetables, rice, potatoes and no fun foods like sauces,sliced fancy deli items, nuts, snacks, drinks. Sliced baked pork and meal loaf make great substitutes for a meat deli.It is very convenient to always have a soup in your refrigerator, even couple types of soup in your freezer, and in a soup you can put nearly everything, like chip chicken hearts, leftovers of roast meat or chicken besides different vegetables, even chopped hard-boiled egg before eating. It is very easy and doesn't take much time to make own salad dressing, ketchup (tomato paste mixed with vinegar, salt, spices), mustard. Oven roasted chicken is very affordable, you can make salad and great soup from leftovers. It sounds like too much work, but in reality, if you make a big amount of something and freeze most of it, it is like you always have a choice in foods and don't need a snack bar. It is also convenient to put a boiling soup or a stew into a sterilized mason jar, close it tight and take it with you at the place where you may need a snack.

Galina L. said...

I am ashamed to admit, but I use my dishwasher as a storage place.I couldn't get used to it. I am a fossil from a different life-style.

Lori Miller said...

Roast chicken (or turkey) is better if you brine it. Put about 1/4 cup of salt in enough water to immerse the bird and let it sit in the fridge for several hours. It makes the difference between pillow stuffing and a succulent bird.

Lori Miller said...

I've read that grocery stores throw away a lot of produce--maybe someone on a budget could get some.

I admit that I often have dirty dishes in the sink. That doesn't bother me, but running the dishwasher without a full load would.

Galina L. said...

Somebody told me stores lock their waste bins, but every city has a source of not expensive veggies. In Canada such source was stores run by Chinese people, here in Florida - - produce section of local flee markets where people from Mexico and South-East Asia sell and buy fruits and veggies, and small scale privately owned food stores sell cheap produce which is behind its prime.

Lori Miller said...

I know some people who pick their own for next to nothing, but if you can pick up some extra hours at work, that's probably the better deal.

Galina L. said...

There are some things and services I pay for more than people pay on average. I go to an expensive hairdresser, buy an expensive coffee (I don't mention high-end eggs, tomatoes, butter, arugula because it is a quality food), high quality Ecco or Josef_Seibel‎ shoes, I pay $400 yearly for a laser treatment for rosacea, my pole fitness studio costs $100 a month, and I choose to get 3 tooth implants instead of less expensive and partially covered by insurance bridge. I guess I could afford it, we have $60000 in emergency fund in case if a car got broken, roof or A/C changed. When we were paying off mortgage, most of such expenses were out of a consideration.

Lori Miller said...

My dentists (regular & oral surgeon) both told me dental implants are cheaper in the long run--bridge work eventually has to be redone. Implants don't. Likewise, cheap shoes are a false economy if they fall apart quickly or hurt so much you only wear them a few times. Same with a cheap diet: if a coupon-queen diet of Hamburger Helper and Banquet pizza is giving you bad skin, aches and pains, cavities, and acid reflux and making you buy bigger and bigger clothes, it's penny wise and pound foolish.

I go to a fairly expensive hair stylist, too. I have thick hair and the employees at cheap chain salons almost always chop it into a mess. I thought about giving up yoga at $10 a week (I save $2 a class by buying them in a 20-pack), but realistically, I got so tired of lifting weights that I'm not going to do it at home anymore. And I need to exercise.

Galina L. said...

I am mentally ready to return to a shoestring budget any moment due to living in a pinched state many periods of my life (for example we lived in expensive Vancouver on $27000 a year without lacking food,but we borrowed movies from a library instead of renting it and got a lot of clothes and toys second-hand, I found free English courses for immigrants), so it is in a back of my mind that it may be in a future as well. In Russia our saving disappeared couple times, so saving money doesn't always work. My philosophy - you have to accumulate some extra during better times. I have several very high quality clothes items which would never go out of style, leather furniture holds longer, dental implants also fit more into the category of investment rather than expense, high quality shoes expected to last too. Healthy life style also could be considered to be an investment into health and even beauty.
On a blog Animal Farm the blog author Dr.BG mentioned she removed her implants. I hope it will not happen with me and you.

Lori Miller said...

Yes--it pays to save for 1) buying high-quality items that won't wear out quickly, and 2) repairs and maintenance. I just dropped over $400 at the mechanic last night.

Implant crowns are actually stronger than real teeth, but I'm sorry Dr. BG had to have her implant replaced. Hopefully, it was just the crown--that surgery is no picnic.

Lori Miller said...

Good new, though--I found grass-fed beef from Yuma, Colorado for $3.60 a pound. It's odd bits like cheek, shank, back ribs and liver--it'll be a good excuse to break out my Scandinavian Classics cookbook.

Galina L. said...

OMG, cheek meat is just amazing! Much better than a chuck roast in my opinion! A lot of connective tissue makes a very juicy texture after cooking, it can't turn dry no matter what you do. The only downside - it takes time to cook, almost the same situation as with a tong - great but under-appreciated cut of meat due to a much longer cooking time. I usually just boil it in a salted water until ready, then make it into a beefstroganoff with sauteed onion and mushrooms, or into a chilly, or make another simple meat dish - add cooking wine, reduce it, add butter , then garlic right before removing from a stove. Cooked meat is easy to cut.I often keep a big piece of meat or a chicken in a broth, cut a part of it off, quickly re-cook it with a vine or saurcream and garlic, or with cooked tomatoes and herbs, or with mushrooms and white pasta souse - there are almost endless variations.

I also had a good purchase - we have an Earth Fare nearby, they have on sale a gressfed ground beef for 3.97, I bought 5 lb. It is ridiculously lean, so I plan to add ground fat to it before freezing in butches.

Lowcarb team member said...

There is so much waste in certain areas of the world and yet others struggle to find enough food to eat. I'm sure we could all do more to help ourselves, and perhaps give our time to help others not as fortunate as ourselves.

Sorry if the remarks are slightly off topic .....

All the best Jan

Lori Miller said...

I've read that most produce in the US ends up in the trash. Sad.

Galina L. said...

Somehow it is what upsets me the most. I often by wilted vegetables only to save it from a trash bin, even though It often means changing cooking plans. I know it is drop in a basket. I would never wish to work in a food store.

Lori Miller said...

Huge grocery carts, produce bags almost the size of a pillow case, the five-a-day campaign, and do-gooders designing school lunches have all contributed to the problem.