From the Editor’s Desk

Andrea Norris-McKnight

The Most Expensive Meal of the Day

Hello Frugal Friend!

I have a hodgepodge of topics to share this week:

Getting Ready for Cooler Weather

Fall will officially be here this week, an excellent time to start preparing for cooler weather. Here are a few fall articles to get you started:

Saving on the Most Expensive Meal of the Day

While some consider breakfast the most important meal of the day, it seems to have become the most expensive, depending on your breakfast preferences. According to AARP, five foods that have seen significant increases over the past year are milk (17%), butter (24.6%) and butter substitute (38.3%), eggs (39.8%), coffee (17.6%) and bread (16.2%). If you’re trying to determine which foods put the biggest dent in your food budget, these foods are an excellent place to start.

I know I can still get 18 large Eggland’s Best eggs at Sam’s Club for $3.88 rather than the $5+ for the same eggs at our local grocery store. However, our grocery store often has BOGOs on butter, coffee and bread, so I can stock up on at least one of these items almost every week. We get milk about $1 cheaper at Walmart than the grocery store or Sam’s Club. So if you have the experience of living close to multiple grocery stores, you might find the best savings by shopping at two or more different stores.

To further keep our breakfast costs in check, I’ve been making a lot of apple muffins, pumpkin bread and banana bread for breakfast rather than our usual eggs and toast. I can get three pounds of bananas at Sam’s for a few dollars, which usually nets me about three loaves of bread. Those three loaves only use a total of six eggs and 3/4 cup of milk.

I’m certainly not suggesting everyone start eating banana bread every morning for breakfast. But you may consider seeing what ingredients are still a good deal in your area and determine what recipes or meals will help you save the most.

Another Good Reason To Take a Walk Every Day

As someone over 50 with a parent who has been battling memory loss for several years, I’d be lying if I said I don’t worry about my own cognitive decline. So I found this recent study promising and another reason to fit in 10,000 steps a day (actually 9,800, according to the study). The study results show that those who walk regularly may decrease their risk of dementia by as much as 50%.

We already know about all the other benefits of walking regularly — from keeping weight in check to staying mobile and heart-healthy — so we now have one more reason to get out for regular walks.

Streaming That Can Help Your Finances

Finally, if you’re a Netflix subscriber, it has just released a documentary called Get Smart With Money. It seems targeted to people in their 20s and 30s rather than those 50+, but if you struggle with budgeting or climbing out of debt, or you just never know where all of your money goes, you might find some helpful advice by giving it a watch. Or, if you have kids in their 20s or 30s who are struggling, you might recommend it to them.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Some Reasons To Stop By a Dollar Store

Hello Frugal Friend!

Even though many dollar stores, such as The Dollar Tree, now charge $1.25 rather than $1.00 per item, you can still save a significant amount of money on many things by shopping at a dollar store rather than grocery and retail stores. Consider a dollar store if you need any of the following items, especially as we approach the end of the year and the holidays:

  • Candy
  • Party supplies and decorations
  • Greetings card and gift bags
  • Items for DIY gifts: Picture frames, vases, drinkware
  • Gift basket items and stocking stuffers: small baskets or other storage containers, craft supplies, hair accessories, kitchen utensils and towels, crossword and puzzle books, kids books, coloring books

Some other items that are often cheaper at a dollar or discount store include:

  • Hand soap
  • Reading glasses
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Coffee filters

When shopping at a dollar and discount store, you must pay close attention to packaging. Some items at dollar stores can actually cost much more than at a non-discount store because that $1.25 is buying you a much smaller package, and therefore you’re paying far more per serving or use.

Also, I often read that batteries and light bulbs are rarely a good buy. The generic batteries usually don’t last near as long as name-brand batteries. And the light bulbs are typically the old incandescent type that break easily and use much more energy — not to mention that, like generic batteries, the cheap generic lightbulbs don’t last nearly as many hours as name brands.

While shopping at multiple stores can be time-consuming, it can also save you quite a bit of money right now. In addition to dollar stores and discount stores, see if there are any salvage stores, such as Sav-A-Lot, Sharp Shopper and Stretch-a-Buck, in your area that might provide a good source of savings on particular foods and household items.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Let’s Continue To Be Financially Vigilant

Hello Frugal Friend!

CNBC recently reported that the following items are now cheaper at the grocery store than one month ago: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butter, a gallon of milk, a dozen large white eggs, hot dogs and tomatoes.

Gas is about 8% cheaper, and car rental, airfare and hotel stays have all come down for those looking to travel.

So does that mean we’re starting to get some budget relief? Probably not. According to the CNBC article, “one month does not make a trend.” Some experts think we could experience inflationary prices for the next 18 to 24 months. In fact, milk and butter prices went back up a bit this past week after trending down this past month. Things like fruit and coffee remain high.

Not only should we keep on stretching dollars as far as possible, but some of us might also want to prepare for the possibility of a layoff. According to another CNBC article, “Best Buy, Ford Motor, HBO Max, Peloton, Shopify, Re/Max, Walmart and Wayfair are among the firms that have announced layoffs in recent weeks.” Additionally, a recent survey revealed that 50% of surveyed executives anticipate making job cuts during the next 12 months.

If you think a layoff could be possible for you, you might find 13 Steps to Preparing for a Layoff helpful. This article can also help: Is Your Family Facing a Layoff? Tips from Families Who’ve Survived One.

As the economy cools, prices may come down, but unemployment could rise. So let’s continue to be financially vigilant for now.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

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