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11 Practical Ways to Stretch Your Food Budget

If soaring food prices are getting you down, help is on the way! Here are some basic saving strategies, practical solutions, and novel ideas to stretch your food budget—and make your life easier.

Grate savings

You pay a lot to have someone else grate your cheese for you—at least twice the price of buying cheese by the block. Currently, at my supermarket, cheese in blocks runs from about $2 to $2.50 a pound for the store brand to about $5.00 a pound and more for name brands. The very same cheeses, pre-grated, run almost exactly double across the board, $4 to $10 a pound. Here’s the tip: Grate it yourself. It will stay fresher and you’ll save money, too.

Pro tip: Commercially grated or shredded cheese comes with an added ingredient like potato starch or modified cornstarch to prevent “caking” or “clumping.” Well, guess what? Those anti-caking ingredients inhibit melting, too. Now you know why pre-grated or shredded cheese doesn’t seem to always melt as readily, often leaving an odd thickened texture.

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No Need to Shiver: Easy DIY Ways to Cut Heating Costs This Winter

What if I told you there are a handful of sneaky ways you can cut the cost to heat your home that won’t require you to wear a down-filled, hooded parka 24-hours a day? Would I have your attention? Great, because that’s exactly what I have for you today.

Young woman wearing a red winter jacket with furry hood, holding her hands together on isolated background

These easy tips could cut your heating bill by 20 percent or more, and none require more than 30 minutes of work. You will need to purchase a few inexpensive supplies but all are readily available. Don’t worry—you will quickly recoup those costs in lower heating bills.

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How to Avoid Christmas Debt When You’re Short on Cash

And just like that, we’re headlong into the most wonderful time of the year, when I challenge you to make it a debt-free Christmas. Because there are few things that feel as good as facing the New Year knowing that everything is paid in full—no Christmas debt to hit you in the face come mid-January.

Young couple looking on laptop on Christmas eve seeing that everything is paid in full

But when you’re short on cash it doesn’t feel that wonderful. The temptation is great to put just one more Christmas on credit. Before you give in to that terrible idea, consider that you have options. You can choose to arm yourself with a very important tool. You won’t have to run out and buy this tool because I am absolutely sure you have it already. And you won’t have to go on a whole-house search to find it either.

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An Incredibly Easy Way to Save Money Shopping Online

With the year’s biggest shopping season now coming into clear view, it’s time to gather our wits, sharpen our resolve, and determine to know everything we possibly can about how to save money. Today I want to show you an online shopping hack that will help stretch your holiday dollars until they scream!

I used to love a good shopping mall. But those days are long gone and I don’t miss them one bit since I’ve discovered the joys and convenience of online shopping. In fact, I’ll do just about anything to avoid having to go inside a mall. Or even a grocery store.

I’m going to walk you through the basic steps of an incredibly easy way to save money shopping online, using an actual purchase I made as an example.

Female hands typing on white computer keyboard

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How to Spend Money without Feeling Guilty

When you give yourself an allowance, it’s more than just cash—you give yourself the freedom to spend without feeling guilty. Early on in my long journey back to financial health, my husband and I agreed that I would have an allowance—my own cash, a regular expense listed in our fledgling household budget. That changed everything for me.

 

Girl with blue wallet showing her pulling out $10 bill

 

It used to be that when I felt broke, I’d turn to my bevy of credit cards to chase away the feeling. As long as I could spend money, it felt like I had money. My credit cards were my antidepressants (and my eventual undoing).

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Surprisingly Amazing Ways to Make Meals from Leftovers

How to use leftovers? Oh, let me count the ways. There really are so many ways to make meals from leftovers, something the late Julia Child preferred to call “the remains of the day.” Such an elegant way to refer to leftovers! Regardless, both terms refer to anything from half a pan of lasagna to a dab of mashed potatoes that sit in the fridge until they turn green, at which time we feel a lot better about throwing those leftovers away, right. And these days with the price of food soaring, that’s like throwing cash in the garbage.

The secret to sticking to a food budget is to first find a delicious use for every last bit of what we buy, then have an immediate plan for leftovers, and finally, to be diligent to follow through. Really, it all comes down to choosing to see leftovers as ingredients for new dishes—not just multiple go-rounds of the same thing until it’s finally gone.

 

leftover-containers-of-food-in-a-refrigerator

Following are some pretty awesome ideas (if I do say so myself!) that have helped me to see leftovers in a new way. It’s a list you may wish to keep handy.

Pro-tip: At the end, look for the tiny printer icon that will let you print out all or any portion of this post.

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6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Keep the House Cool in Summer

Even if winter is still hanging on, without a doubt things are going to heat up soon. And won’t that be wonderful—provided you’ve figured out ways to keep things cool indoors this summer without sending your utility bills through the stratosphere?

Large thermometer against orange-hot sun

If you could use some help in that regard, here are some tips, tricks, and great ideas that will help you stay cool without blowing a hole in the budget.

Whole house fan

A whole house fan (not to be confused with an attic fan) is installed in the attic and designed to ventilate the house whenever the outdoor air is cooler, which is typically after the sun sets—making it possible to turn the air conditioner off at night.

For a seasoned and experienced homeowner, installing a whole house fan is typically a do-it-yourself project. However, for a professional, it’s a quick and easy job. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Energy website.

Related: Best Inexpensive™ Window Air Conditioner

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How to Splurge on a Budget

I got the biggest shock of my life the day I realized that living on a budget wasn’t the straitjacket or rigid “diet” I assumed it would be. It was my life as a credit-card junkie that put me in financial bondage.

 

Woman happy with a piggy bank

 

Living on a budget saved my life because it allowed me to get out of debt. It gave me my freedom. Want to know my secret for staying on a budget for so many years? I splurge. Seriously. And I do not feel guilty. I love nice things and I love to travel.

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