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I've eliminated/cut back and my grocery bill is still too high! help?


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I am so frustrated right now. In the last few weeks I've given up Starbucks (I used to go twice a day...now I'm making it at home....this is HUGE as this lasted for 12 years!!)

I started making laundry and dishwasher soap. I've been cooking every meal at home and have eliminated most processed foods. So why is our grocery/household bill still as high as ever?

 

DH usually buys all of our meat (he gets what's on sale and since he primarily makes dinner, this doesn't cut into my weekly grocery allowance at all.)

We have $200 budgeted a week for our groceries/household needs. I have never been able to get it below $300 (and most weeks it's closer to 350-400)

 

I'm going to start baking our own bread so I'm hoping that will help too.

I was thinking of going to bar soap instead of body wash? Anyone else use bar soap? Is it cheaper?

 

Would it help to see a list of what we use/buy in a typical week/month? I'm also wondering if our grocery prices are higher here? We live in So. Cal. and our rent is ridiculously expensive. It's $2475 a month :001_huh: for a 4 bedroom 1400 sf house. It's not fancy at all! It's a typical house and a typical price for our area. I'm just so disgusted. I feel like after giving up Starbucks, I should be rolling in the dough :lol:

 

any tips/advice/ideas? :bigear:

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I use Dove bar soap and shop at wholesale clubs. It pays for my membership and then some. It's good for larger families.

 

 

I just canceled our Costco membership but we have another non membership bulk supply store that we are using. It helps but I have to watch the prices because sometimes I can get things cheaper at Target or the grocery store. I love Dove soap :)

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What is a typical meal at your house? We're in a pricey area, too, but our weekly groceries are about $120 (often somewhat less) for our family of four.

 

I do plan my meals every week according to what I have in my stockpile/freezer and what is on sale at the store. We don't buy produce or meat that isn't on special, and I stock up on staples when they're on sale.

 

Are you currently planning your meals? Are you shopping sales and stocking up? Special dietary needs?

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I just canceled our Costco membership but we have another non membership bulk supply store that we are using. It helps but I have to watch the prices because sometimes I can get things cheaper at Target or the grocery store. I love Dove soap :)

 

I go to BJ's wholesale club. They let you use coupons and they give you rebate checks if you pay with a BJ's credit card. It really helps. I don't know about Costco or the others, but the money I save at BJ's on milk, cheese, eggs, soaps and detergents alone pay for my membership many times over. If you have coupons (they have BJ's coupons and they also take manufacturer coupons from the newspaper) you save even more and with the cash back checks they give you it really adds up to a lot in the course of a year. I had a shopping trip there not too long ago where I bought over a hundred dollars in goods and with my coupons and rebate checks I only had to pay $5.00 our of pocket.

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What worked for us was pinpointing the things on our household items list that we could make re-useable. Paper towels and kleenex, for example, are quite pricey. We replaced them with hand towels and hankerchiefs. Toilet paper was the same -- now we keep a few rolls around for guests but use a bidet (the ones they have out now are lightyears better than they used to be). How about household cleaners? We replaced commercial cleaners with our own vinegar and water / baking soda/ etc. mixtures. We also shop at the Dollar Store whenever we can for things like new washcloths, sponges, kitchen items, etc.

 

You may also want to invest in a shampoo and conditioner dispenser for your bathrooms. Kids will often use much, much more than they need if they're the ones squirting it out of the bottles. It's easier to teach them to press the dispenser once.

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What is a typical meal at your house? We're in a pricey area, too, but our weekly groceries are about $120 (often somewhat less) for our family of four.

 

I do plan my meals every week according to what I have in my stockpile/freezer and what is on sale at the store. We don't buy produce or meat that isn't on special, and I stock up on staples when they're on sale.

 

Are you currently planning your meals? Are you shopping sales and stocking up? Special dietary needs?

 

The $200 includes all of our household stuff too. Planning meals is next on my list. DH buys most of the dinner supplies and to be perfectly honest, he only buys what meat is on sale (mostly whole chickens he cuts up) and lots of rice and beans.

We shop sales and try to stock up but usually money doesn't allow us to stock up too much. Although I told DH that I would rather do one big shopping trip a month and a few small ones for produce/milk/eggs.

Breakfasts here are: cereal, toast, oatmeal

Lunches are: deli meat sandwiches/quesodillas/hummus/pita bread/grilled cheese/mac and cheese

Dinners: rice/beans/meat/eggs/french toast/pasta/veggies

 

ETA: I have to avoid dairy, eggs and high fat foods so I will often make something separate for myself for dinner...but it's usually toast or a sandwich.

 

I go to BJ's wholesale club. They let you use coupons and they give you rebate checks if you pay with a BJ's credit card. It really helps. I don't know about Costco or the others, but the money I save at BJ's on milk, cheese, eggs, soaps and detergents alone pay for my membership many times over. If you have coupons (they have BJ's coupons and they also take manufacturer coupons from the newspaper) you save even more and with the cash back checks they give you it really adds up to a lot in the course of a year. I had a shopping trip there not too long ago where I bought over a hundred dollars in goods and with my coupons and rebate checks I only had to pay $5.00 our of pocket.

We don't have a BJ's. I wish we did!!! We have Smart and Final, Sam's and Costco. Smart and Final is free for membership so we shop there for flour, rice, beans, etc.

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$300 seems really high to me. Ours is $100-150 for a family of five.

 

We eat meat 1-2x a week, and nothing fancy. Chicken breasts, steak strips, ground beef. Beans are so much cheaper than meat - there's no comparison, especially if you buy dry beans. Here are 2 of my favorite bean meals:

Vegetarian Chili (add a dollop of sour cream - SO GOOD. It cost us maybe $5 to make and we've been eating it all week).

 

Quinoa and Black Beans (use half as much beans and add in a can of diced tomatoes with chiles. DELICIOUS)

 

We're pretty basic on fruits & veggies. I try not to buy stuff out of season. "Snack foods" are pretzels, crackers, and yogurt. We don't buy frozen foods except for a couple veggies. No juice.

 

I make a weekly menu and only buy what I need for that week. What I save in eliminating waste more than makes up for what I might buy that's a "good deal" but doesn't get used. We eat cereal, oatmeal, and egg/cheese burritos for breakfast. We eat leftovers for lunch and supplement with sandwiches and homemade bean/cheese burritos.

 

We don't buy fancy shampoos or wear makeup. We buy TP and soap at Costco and use cloth napkins.

 

I think our biggest savings comes from shopping at a warehouse-type grocery (WinCo). I would spend twice as much if I shopped at Safeway.

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The $200 includes all of our household stuff too. Planning meals is next on my list. DH buys most of the dinner supplies and to be perfectly honest, he only buys what meat is on sale (mostly whole chickens he cuts up) and lots of rice and beans.

We shop sales and try to stock up but usually money doesn't allow us to stock up too much. Although I told DH that I would rather do one big shopping trip a month and a few small ones for produce/milk/eggs.

Breakfasts here are: cereal, toast, oatmeal

Lunches are: deli meat sandwiches/quesodillas/hummus/pita bread/grilled cheese/mac and cheese

Dinners: rice/beans/meat/eggs/french toast/pasta/veggies

 

 

Your meals sound similar to ours...so I'm guessing the big difference is in the stocking up. We stock up on staples, cereal, meat, canned goods, bread/bagels/eng muffins, and paper products when really cheap. I can see where it would be hard to get ahead though, if your budget were already really tight. Also, milk and produce prices vary so much from region to region that it's not really fair to compare.

 

I'd suggest scouring frugal-living websites (I like the Hillbilly Housewife site and used quite a few of her suggestions when things were tight for us).

Maybe look for recipes that sound good to you and start some substituting. We used to plan 2 'cheap' meals each week (breakfast for dinner, or bean/cheese burritos, egg sandwich night, or something low-cost like that). That took a chunk out of the budget when things were tight for us.

 

Hang in there! It takes a while to find the system that works for your family and budget. It is so frustrating to see that big number pop up at the grocery store when you think you've pared things down already. But it sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

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Limit your shopping trips. No runs to the store for xyz, just once a week at most with a well-planned list. Also eliminate *all* boxed cereal and convenience foods - cookies, toaster strudels, frozen waffles, hot pockets, frozen pizza, juice, pop - yep, all the good stuff. Everyone can drink water (or lemonade from bottled lemon juice + sugar). I'll make an exception for good coffee, as long as you make it yourself. And learn to make bread -- it's not very hard if you start early in the day.

 

Side note:

 

We are currently 3/4 of the way into a month-long experiment where we can only eat foods from our pantry, fridge and freezer - absolutely no shopping trips, not even for fresh vegs and milk...22 days down, 8 days to go.

 

I make everything from scratch. We did have a few things like 2 gal of milk and a huge box of go-gurts at the beginning of this - they're almost gone. We're down to cabbage and carrots for fresh veggies. We still have plenty of staples (flour, sugar, oil, beans, etc) and canned foods. Our refrigerator is getting kind of bare although the condiments seem to be multiplying.

 

This family experiment has made me think about what we should really be buying and it has also revealed some rather interesting things we had in the freezer that had been long-forgotten. A side benefit is that it has saved a lot of money, and I expect the lessons we learn to carry over to the future. If you really want to examine your food habits, try an experiment like this for at least 2 weeks.

 

Hope this helps!

Dana

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TO pinpoint what to trim, it helps to write down every single penny you spend. It's the same concept as with calorie counting. If you have to write down every bite, it's easy to see where you over ate. You are less likely to binge if you have to write it down, too.

 

It is the same with spending. Write down every single item you buy and its price. It doesn't matter if you bought it on a regular shopping jaunt or "just picked something up" on the way to somewhere else.

 

After one month, you should be able to pinpoint where your money is going and what could be reasonably trimmed.

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Just wanted to point out that groceries are cheaper here in TX than when we lived in CA (Bay Area). Dh took a big paycut to move here but cost of living is much cheaper...and housing's just the tip of the iceberg. That'll affect your household budget for sure.

 

One thing that helped me was to plan meals, buy in bulk, and freeze (ala Dream Dinners but much cheaper). A lot of my food budget was going in the trash in the form of spoiled food. Now, I pick about 4-6 meals for the month and just rotate through. Just about everything's in the meal kit besides a few pantry items so I just defrost and cook. It doesn't even take long to prepare the meals for freezing as I'm not cooking them.

 

That also keeps me from heading to the store so often and spending that extra $$ on little things. When I do go, I keep my eyes focused on the perishables (fruit, veggies, and dairy) and get out.

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For our family I like to make a 30 day menu. I start with what I already have in the pantry and freezer. You don't have to put a date to the meal, just plan to have what you need on hand and what your going to make. I put it all in a binder with recipes and menu list. After this I head to the commissary and pickup whatever else is on the list. I buy all paper products, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent and dogfood just once a month and usually use coupons for these. Right now we are spending around $300 a month for 3 adult eaters and one dog. Also we pickup fresh produce at the German market once a week for about 10 euro.

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TO pinpoint what to trim, it helps to write down every single penny you spend. It's the same concept as with calorie counting. If you have to write down every bite, it's easy to see where you over ate. You are less likely to binge if you have to write it down, too.

 

It is the same with spending. Write down every single item you buy and its price. It doesn't matter if you bought it on a regular shopping jaunt or "just picked something up" on the way to somewhere else.

 

After one month, you should be able to pinpoint where your money is going and what could be reasonably trimmed.

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

Create basic categories. Mandate everyone who uses money from the checking account or savings to hand you a receipt to track EVERY penny. Record the categories daily or weekly in a simple notebook. After one month, you really get a good idea of where the money goes. You may need to cut back on electricity, gas, heat, and so on. It sounds like just cutting the Starbucks and hoping the grocery bill will be better is not working. (Congrats on saying no to Starbucks. That will pay off.) Use your banking statement online or paper to keep an eye on outstanding payments or debits that have not cleared to get to the "penny".

 

Another thought... any debt? Could this be one of the reasons for the uncertainty with budget? No need to share. But monthly credit card bills can wreck with a budget. Tackle them too. Dave Ramsey has some great ideas on this subject.

 

You may end up spending too much money on creating your own soap and stuff when going to the Dollar Store will be far cheaper, kwim? I try not to buy name brands and buy generic. I love the Dollar Store!

 

What we do is avoid shopping weekly. We do one major shopping at ALDI or WalMart once a month for major food/pantry/frozen/canned supplies. Dollar store for TP, kleenex, trash bags, dish soap, sponges, paper towels, etc. We then buy good produce and top quality meat at a Sprouts or Market Street with the money we saved by buying at the other stores. In the past, when we had money, I joined a food coop for organic produce from local farmers -- which was awesome. I always stock up on pantry items and rotate old/new items in. I plan a weekly menu based on what is IN MY PANTRY -- and whatever I am out of goes on the grocery list (on the refrigerator door). The rule in our home is once a food item is eaten up, it is listed on the grocery list ASAP. That way I keep track of how fast items are eaten and buy in preparation (bulk up) when I see them on sale. I have a deep freezer and it is a Godsend when we buy meat and frozen veggies. We freeze butter and bread too. Often if I see meat on sale -- I buy in bulk and freeze it for later use. Again, you need to rotate the meat. I only buy for a season and then once the freezer is half full with meat. That is it. No more purchases for a few months for meat. Eat what is in the freezer and plan a weekly menu based on what is in the freezer and pantry. Once you get in a routine, it is very easy to be frugal. If you can grow your own veggies and bake your own bread, awesome. But keep in mind the work and time needed for it too. My hubs calls my summer tomatoes the "$60 tomato" when you take into account the cost of supplies if you do not start from seed. LOL

 

We used to live in Southern CA and groceries were ALWAYS expensive. We moved to TX and I was delighted to discover how cheap food was here! (But the produce is not as fresh as CA. For example, "sweet" onions here are horrible tasting. But in CA, they are delicious. And the meat quality is not that great. Weird, huh?) Your cost of living in CA will be higher than other regions. My rent for a new 3 bdrm, 2 bath, 2 car garage townhome in an upscale Yuppie/Urban part of North TX is only $1300, for example. Rent is going up everywhere. It is a landlord's market, so to speak. LOL

Edited by tex-mex
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Meal planning and working out how long the leftovers will last has been huge for us. And if there was one area I would cut in our own budget, it would be what we drink. Milk, juice, and coffee are hugely expensive. If you're buying this stuff, try cutting back to water for a month and see how much you save.

 

You said you guys eat a lot of cut up chickens- are you saving the carcasses for stock?

 

I second switcing to vinegar/water solutions for cleaning. We only use vinegar and water here, and it's saved quite a bit of money, with the added benefit of being better for our health.

 

If you haven't already, stop buying snacks and just make your own.

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Meal planning and working out how long the leftovers will last has been huge for us. And if there was one area I would cut in our own budget, it would be what we drink. Milk, juice, and coffee are hugely expensive. If you're buying this stuff, try cutting back to water for a month and see how much you save.

 

You said you guys eat a lot of cut up chickens- are you saving the carcasses for stock?

 

I second switcing to vinegar/water solutions for cleaning. We only use vinegar and water here, and it's saved quite a bit of money, with the added benefit of being better for our health.

 

If you haven't already, stop buying snacks and just make your own.

 

Absolutely. We make our own cakes and cookies. No scoop and bake kits. No sodas or juice. (We all cannot drink milk. We do buy Rice Milk.) Lots of water. Summertime is Sun Tea made with cheap teabags and water.

 

We rarely eat out. I often make pizza dough in my breadmaker once a week. My son loves it.

 

Ditto on the leftovers. Another rule in our home is no new meals 'til the leftovers in the fridge get eaten. That way, I really only cook 3-4 nights a week and we eat leftovers 2-3 days a week. Fortunately, hubs was raised this way and likes leftovers too. Chicken carcass in our home is frozen for future stock. And the leftovers made into some meal. Nothing goes to waste. LOL ;)

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Breakfasts here are: cereal, toast, oatmeal

Lunches are: deli meat sandwiches/quesodillas/hummus/pita bread/grilled cheese/mac and cheese

Dinners: rice/beans/meat/eggs/french toast/pasta/veggies

 

Cereal is an expensive breakfast. I found cereal to be a money waste b/c it's not very filling, expensive at $4/box, and drains the milk. If we ate cereal for breakfast, my family could go through a whole box and a half gallon of milk - and then be hungry an hour later. Even worse, my dc always put too much milk in their cereal. :glare:

 

Deli meat sandwiches are an expensive lunch too. Deli meat at our local grocery store runs $8/lb regular price and $4-$5/lb sale price. The meats I buy for dinner average $2.25/lb. It's much more cost efficient for us to eat leftovers or make our own convenience meats. I try to keep leftover ham slices and shredded chicken/pork/beef for sandwiches.

 

I don't buy any snacks or quick meals in a box that are stored in the freezer or fridge. I buy the occasional box for the pantry like stuffing or mac & cheese.

Edited by 2squared
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Meal planning and working out how long the leftovers will last has been huge for us. And if there was one area I would cut in our own budget, it would be what we drink. Milk, juice, and coffee are hugely expensive. If you're buying this stuff, try cutting back to water for a month and see how much you save.

 

:iagree: I have slowly weaned my dc's obsession with milk down to 4-5 gallons/week. We used to go through more than 7 gallons/week. I buy juice and soda infrequently for treats.

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Nothing goes to waste here either. We have a leftover/fend for yourself night at least once a week. My husband often eats leftovers for his work lunch. Heck I eat them for breakfast. I love leftovers because that's less cooking for me!

 

I make a big pot of soup about once a week too. Using scraps/bones from meat makes it very inexpensive. I try to freeze about half the pot to have at a later time too.

 

I stock up on meat when there are good sales.

 

I make everything homemade except bread. I do make homemade bread from time to time, but not regularly. I buy rye bread at Aldi ($1.39 a loaf). I don't eat bread, but everyone else does. I just can't seem to work making bread on a regular basis into my day.

 

LOL -- at our place, leftovers are called "Cafeteria Night". ;) My boys know the drill. Get out all of the leftovers out from the fridge. Get plates. Line up to reheat the meal in the microwave (with a cover, please... no splatters.) and eat heartily!! I confess sometimes I wake up and for breakfast, I will eat leftovers because it is soooo delicious. LOL :D

 

Just made this week homemade potato soup and homemade oatmeal bread. YUM. I make a large batch and it goes quick. I also made this week homemade chocolate chip cookie dough. I saved half of the dough into 2 tupperware containers in our freezer for sonny boy. When he is hungry and wants a late night treat (he is 15 and always hungry. LOL) I let him scoop the dough and bake fresh cookies. Gotta love it.

 

ALDI has incredible prices for cereal and bread. I sometimes keel over when I see name brand cereal at other stores for $4. Aiiiyeeee. :svengo:

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I'd skip the deli meat for sandwiches - if you look at the price per pound that stuff is expensive! Here pita bread is also pretty expensive compared to while wheat sliced bread.

 

Are you checking price per ounce and buying generic/larger size stuff when possible? Drinking water/generic coffee/tea instead of sodas, etc.? Skipping all snack stuff - a bag of popcorn to use on the stovetop is far cheaper than microwave stuff, or chips, etc.

 

It is the little things that can add up. Plus - I do think you live in an expensive area!

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Cereal is an expensive breakfast. I found cereal to be a money waste b/c it's not very filling, expensive at $4/box, and drains the milk. If we ate cereal for breakfast, my family could go through a whole box and a half gallon of milk - and then be hungry an hour later. Even worse, my dc always put too much milk in their cereal. :glare:

 

Deli meat sandwiches are an expensive lunch too. Deli meat at our local grocery store runs $8/lb regular price and $4-$5/lb sale price. The meats I buy for dinner average $2.25/lb. It's much more cost efficient for us to eat leftovers or make our own convenience meats. I try to keep leftover ham slices and shredded chicken/pork/beef for sandwiches.

 

I don't buy any snacks or quick meals in a box that are stored in the freezer or fridge. I buy the occasional box for the pantry like stuffing or mac & cheese.

 

I agree! I often see cereal make an appearance in frugality threads and I've always wondered what I'm doing wrong. We never eat cereal b/c for what you get, it's costly. Now, we never really bought the uber cheap stuff but still, for it to be filling you have to eat a lot and use a lot of milk. I also never thought of it as balanced and so it needs something to balance it.

 

Again, with the sandwiches . . . bread is cheap but we don't eat meat so of course the vegetarian deli slices are very expensive. We do get them as a special treat sometimes but even then, we don't eat them in sandwiches.

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The most money saving tip I can give is to buy in bulk. Also, buy beans in bulk and can them if you can. Then they are ready in a blink and cents per can. Of course, if you have to go out to buy pressure canner, jars, lids/rings, AND the beans to can it will feel awfully expensive.

 

canners are available used, though, and I've heard jars are too.

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I think some of it is California prices. When we moved from CA to TX my trip to the grocery store was almost half of what it previously was. When I left CA I was paying almost $4 a gallon for milk, cereal was $4-5 a box, Kraft cheese was $4 a package......

 

When I need to cut down I go buy bread at the discount bread place and then I take it home and freeze it. Or I buy the 88cent bread at Super Walmart, but it is usually thin slice and not as favored at our house. I also use coupons, but only for things I normally buy. I don't buy things because I have a coupon. I have a family of 5 and spend about $150-175 week on groceries after coupons. On average I have about $12 worth of coupons.

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I agree with the pp who suggested you write everything down. Could it be that most of your "grocery" expenses are actually non-edible items? Trash bags, toiletries, and other items? These things can really add up. Once you know where your money going, you can decide what is and is not necessary.

 

Instead of deli meats, buy whole chickens or a turkey. Bake and slice. You can freeze some of the meat for another week. Buy a beef roast and do the same. If you like ham, buy one on sale. Again, slice and freeze the extras. Is tuna cheap where you are? How about egg salad or peanut butter sandwiches? Buy sale priced lunch meats as occasional treats not staples.

 

I would limit cereal to low sugar, whole grain varieties. One serving per person per meal. Let them fill up on cheaper foods. Toast with nut butter, an egg (or two), beans or leftovers.

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Last year we moved from the Midwest to the West Coast.

 

All of my "useful" tips so people could get their budget down low, like mine, went a bit out the window. :glare: I had prided myself on the $$ amount. What I didn't realize was that I had a Fareway and they didn't. My Fareway kept me in great produce and meat for pennies. Sigh. Life happens then you learn.

 

We went to Costco for the first time ever this weekend. I think we dropped almost $700. I was thrilled. (No, really, I was.) I think we're going to save quite a lot, plus their produce and meat is fantastic vs. paying bottom dollar for BLECH like at WinCo.

 

So, what is useful is telling us what the average price of things in your area is.... Because many well meaning mamas like me may see your bottom line and think, "Wow...Imagine what I could do with THAT budget." And they don't realize gas & milk & chicken is three times as expensive. :)

 

So, if you have a reciept, that might help.

 

You MUST use a menu and a grocery list. There is no exception or you will spend much, much more. You also need to eat before you go. DH & I found it's even CHEAPER in the long run for us to go out to eat than it is to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. :D At least that's what we keep telling ourselves.

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I found her tips to be helpful, even if you don't do all of it.

 

http://www.budget101.com/ebooklet/ebooklet_fam4.pdf

 

If you can't see it, let me know, I can put in a different link.

 

We moved from SoCal 5 years ago. We were able to spend less than $200/wk though. I think we spent $150 or so per week by shopping at Costco and buying produce at the local Mexican market and Costco.

 

We don't use body wash, ever.....so, yes, we are a bar soap family! Costco also has $6 for 64 ounce shampoo (Kirkland brand). We buy Kirkland brand as much as possible. Our dog food bill was cut in half, we buy organic Kirkland salsa.

 

Dawn

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Last year we moved from the Midwest to the West Coast.

 

All of my "useful" tips so people could get their budget down low, like mine, went a bit out the window. :glare: I had prided myself on the $$ amount. What I didn't realize was that I had a Fareway and they didn't. My Fareway kept me in great produce and meat for pennies. Sigh. Life happens then you learn.

 

We went to Costco for the first time ever this weekend. I think we dropped almost $700. I was thrilled. (No, really, I was.) I think we're going to save quite a lot, plus their produce and meat is fantastic vs. paying bottom dollar for BLECH like at WinCo.

 

So, what is useful is telling us what the average price of things in your area is.... Because many well meaning mamas like me may see your bottom line and think, "Wow...Imagine what I could do with THAT budget." And they don't realize gas & milk & chicken is three times as expensive. :)

 

So, if you have a reciept, that might help.

 

You MUST use a menu and a grocery list. There is no exception or you will spend much, much more. You also need to eat before you go. DH & I found it's even CHEAPER in the long run for us to go out to eat than it is to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. :D At least that's what we keep telling ourselves.

 

Having moved from the West Coast to the East Coast to Texas I agree. Prices are so different in the different areas of the country.

 

Meal plan and grocery list. Shop the perimeter of the store. Start a price comparison book and find the cheapest sources in your area.

 

Try making your own hummus. The only real expense is the tahini and a little goes a long way. Get dried chickpeas, soak them, cook them, then make the hummus in the blender. Takes time, but it's a lot cheaper than buying premade from the store.

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I think some of it is California prices. When we moved from CA to TX my trip to the grocery store was almost half of what it previously was. When I left CA I was paying almost $4 a gallon for milk, cereal was $4-5 a box, Kraft cheese was $4 a package......

 

:lol: at myself. I moved from TX to MN and was clobbered by the grocery prices. I thought the Midwest would be cheap. Not where I live. No Aldi. No warehouse type options. No ethnic markets. Sigh.

 

One thing I do which helps immensely is to have a benchmark in my head of what I am willing to pay and when to buy it. For me, meat and produce should be less than $2/lb. I buy enough staples on sale to last until the next sales cycle.

 

Our food/toiletry/cleaning/diaper budget is $700/month. We go on a stockup run at the beginning of the month to replenish the pantry and such. Then what is left of the budget is for perishables and "fun" purchases. I monitor our budget and have a running per day total throughout the month. For whatever reason, I am most successful in making the budget if I have at least $10/day to spend for the last days of the month. If I spend too much early on and go into the end of the month with less than $10/day available to spend, we won't make the budget. Your family probably has a minimum spending level as well.

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If you are eating whole foods, it is very difficult to cut down $$ spent weekly. I think prices are also regional----I have about $300 weekly budgeted for us in our small town that is 2 1/2 hours away (150 miles) from a Costco, where we would save money. Not buying packaged foods makes a HUGE difference though----deli meats, cereals etc. Healthy, whole food eating and special diets will cause you to spend more on food no matter what you try to do is my experience so far. We are moving from Idaho to California soon and I can't WAIT to be able to shop Costco regularly along with farmer's markets to see how much I save. Our rent here in our VERY small remote town is almost $2000 a month, plus last month's heating bill was over $400!!!!

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Cereal is an expensive breakfast. I found cereal to be a money waste b/c it's not very filling, expensive at $4/box, and drains the milk. If we ate cereal for breakfast, my family could go through a whole box and a half gallon of milk - and then be hungry an hour later. Even worse, my dc always put too much milk in their cereal. :glare:

 

Deli meat sandwiches are an expensive lunch too. Deli meat at our local grocery store runs $8/lb regular price and $4-$5/lb sale price. The meats I buy for dinner average $2.25/lb. It's much more cost efficient for us to eat leftovers or make our own convenience meats. I try to keep leftover ham slices and shredded chicken/pork/beef for sandwiches.

 

I don't buy any snacks or quick meals in a box that are stored in the freezer or fridge. I buy the occasional box for the pantry like stuffing or mac & cheese.

 

I agree - cereal and deli meat are both quite expensive for how far they stretch. For breakfasts here, we eat toast or leftover dinner from the night before (I eat toast, dh and ds like the leftovers). Sometimes my kids will request baked oatmeal, which is inexpensive and filling. For lunches, it's often leftover dinner (I usually make enough dinner to provide leftovers on purpose), or cheese or cheese/bean tortillas (I make my own "refried" beans in the crockpot, which is again, very inexpensive).

 

I started making my own bread because the healthy bread at the store is around $4 a loaf and my family could easily polish off a loaf a day sometimes, and I was rationing the bread because of it.

 

I do buy milk for dh, but he's the only one who drinks it, otherwise I just use it in cooking (we only buy organic). The kids would love to drink it, but it's just one of those things I don't think is necessary and it would really add to our grocery bill if they did. Our typical beverages are water and tea.

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Over Christmas I got the book Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides.

 

The entire book is devoted to reducing the grocery bill. Even though you live in a very expensive area I imagine this book can give you tips on how to save even more.

 

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Your-Grocery-Americas-Cheapest-Family/dp/1400202833/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296572210&sr=1-1

 

God Bless,

Elise in NC

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I wonder if eating lots of fruits and vegetables would be a money saving idea. They do cost more, but the fiber is very filling. I've found I tend to eat less overall if I'm eating more vegetables.

 

It would be interesting to do a study on a bunch of volunteers to see if this actually works.

 

Course, you'd probably have to eat in season items to actually save any money.

 

Also - lots of legumes: beans, split peas, lentils. And if you go for the whole grains, as well, your diet would be even more filling and you might eat less.

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:grouphug: The ridiculous rent drove us out of CA four years ago. I feel your pain. We're still watching every penny: cereal is a treat, not a staple! Meat consumption has gone down, we have more pasta, homemade pizza, beans, soups, etc. The kids love when I make homemade burritos. (Last night I even attempted our own homemade tortillas - can we say messy?!?) We use cheap bar soap and store brand for whatever I can handle. I even bought a makeup remover that was $4 instead of my normal $6 one and it works exactly the same! ($2 can buy something else!) Do you have some kind of whole foods place around your house? I try and buy bulk oatmeal and pinto beans and it is a lot cheaper. :grouphug: I'm sorry about your Starbucks, I have thought of you often since your post, it's tough.

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We only buy the low sugar brand name cereals when they're about $1/box (and they often are btw sales and coupons) and get about a dozen at a time. Oatmeal canisters are a staple, but instant packets are only purchased when they're $1.

We buy our eggs 2.5 dozen at a time. Our only deli item is American cheese when it's $3/lb or less. We clean with cloth and vinegar, reserving paper towels and paper napkins for mega messes like cat vomit :tongue_smilie:.

I make a weekly meal plan that always includes a Breakfast for Dinner night an a leftovers night, as well as a pasta night (from our stockpile of $.40 pasta and $.88 sauce). Then I have room in the budget for 4 nights of whatever chicken/shrimp/steak/pork/ground beef/fish/etc. is on sale and throw it over whatever grain/carb we've stockpiled on sale.

Whenever frozen vegetables are on sale, I stock up (usually around $.66ea) so I don't have to guilt myself into paying out of season prices for fresh. This way, my current produce shopping list is mostly bananas, apples, potatoes, salad fixings, and whatever is on sale.

 

In the dairy aisle, I only buy the cheapest brands, whether that's regular price, sale, or coupon. Block cheese is often as low as $.88 here.

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If you are eating whole foods, it is very difficult to cut down $$ spent weekly. I think prices are also regional----I have about $300 weekly budgeted for us in our small town that is 2 1/2 hours away (150 miles) from a Costco, where we would save money. Not buying packaged foods makes a HUGE difference though----deli meats, cereals etc. Healthy, whole food eating and special diets will cause you to spend more on food no matter what you try to do is my experience so far. We are moving from Idaho to California soon and I can't WAIT to be able to shop Costco regularly along with farmer's markets to see how much I save. Our rent here in our VERY small remote town is almost $2000 a month, plus last month's heating bill was over $400!!!!

 

You may have access to Costco in CA but I doubt you will save money in the move. Prices for housing, food, gas, just about everything is higher - taxes are out of sight and about to go higher. I sometimes drive to Idaho to save money by going to Costco and I notice lower gas prices than Oregon the moment we cross the border. I know what you mean about food prices in a small town; we live in a remote area - food and gas cost a lot more for us since it needs to be delivered way out here. Still, Idaho is a bargain for your Oregon neighbors even with the added sales tax. maybe we should all move to Texas instead.

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We only buy the low sugar brand name cereals when they're about $1/box (and they often are btw sales and coupons) and get about a dozen at a time. Oatmeal canisters are a staple, but instant packets are only purchased when they're $1.

We buy our eggs 2.5 dozen at a time. Our only deli item is American cheese when it's $3/lb or less. We clean with cloth and vinegar, reserving paper towels and paper napkins for mega messes like cat vomit :tongue_smilie:.

I make a weekly meal plan that always includes a Breakfast for Dinner night an a leftovers night, as well as a pasta night (from our stockpile of $.40 pasta and $.88 sauce). Then I have room in the budget for 4 nights of whatever chicken/shrimp/steak/pork/ground beef/fish/etc. is on sale and throw it over whatever grain/carb we've stockpiled on sale.

Whenever frozen vegetables are on sale, I stock up (usually around $.66ea) so I don't have to guilt myself into paying out of season prices for fresh. This way, my current produce shopping list is mostly bananas, apples, potatoes, salad fixings, and whatever is on sale.

 

In the dairy aisle, I only buy the cheapest brands, whether that's regular price, sale, or coupon. Block cheese is often as low as $.88 here.

 

Wow. Your prices are amazing.

 

We can't get a 10-14 oz box of name brand cereal with a sale and double coupons for less than about $1.70. The boxes of instant oatmeal are a great deal here when they are about $1.70 also. Pasta is a great deal at $1 a pound but is usually closer to $2 a pound. Block cheese is $.88? Is that per pound? I'm ecstatic when I find it for $2 a pound.

 

When I see prices like these, I realize how expensive it is here. And I do use sales, store brands, coupons, marked down...whatever to lower our food budget.

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Over Christmas I got the book Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides.

 

The entire book is devoted to reducing the grocery bill. Even though you live in a very expensive area I imagine this book can give you tips on how to save even more.

 

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Your-Grocery-Americas-Cheapest-Family/dp/1400202833/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296572210&sr=1-1

 

God Bless,

Elise in NC

 

I did the same thing, and found the book extremely helpful. Worth buying, IMHO.

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I am so frustrated right now. In the last few weeks I've given up Starbucks (I used to go twice a day...now I'm making it at home....this is HUGE as this lasted for 12 years!!)

I started making laundry and dishwasher soap. I've been cooking every meal at home and have eliminated most processed foods. So why is our grocery/household bill still as high as ever?

 

DH usually buys all of our meat (he gets what's on sale and since he primarily makes dinner, this doesn't cut into my weekly grocery allowance at all.)

We have $200 budgeted a week for our groceries/household needs. I have never been able to get it below $300 (and most weeks it's closer to 350-400)

 

I'm going to start baking our own bread so I'm hoping that will help too.

I was thinking of going to bar soap instead of body wash? Anyone else use bar soap? Is it cheaper?

 

Would it help to see a list of what we use/buy in a typical week/month? I'm also wondering if our grocery prices are higher here? We live in So. Cal. and our rent is ridiculously expensive. It's $2475 a month :001_huh: for a 4 bedroom 1400 sf house. It's not fancy at all! It's a typical house and a typical price for our area. I'm just so disgusted. I feel like after giving up Starbucks, I should be rolling in the dough :lol:

 

any tips/advice/ideas? :bigear:

 

Some of my random thoughts:

 

Do you buy cold cereals? We stopped here because of the cost. Hot cereal or homemade granola is the norm. Our budget saved about $16/month. (Approx. 4 boxes a week at $3 each)

 

I buy whole chickens and use white/dark meat for one meal or bake it for one meal. Then I use the carcass for broth for a soup meal. Serving soup twice a week for either lunch or dinner has really helped too. I make chilis, split pea, bean soup, or something else really hearty. I can get two meals from each soup batch. So one chicken feed my family for 2-4 meals depending on leftovers.

 

Beans are my best friend. We eat one meals a week meat-free. Bean soup is mostly how we accomplish this. But we do have a calico bean recipe that everyone loves that has bacon & hamburger. I use dried beans, soak the whole pack and freeze the soaked ones that I don't use this time for a step saver next time.

 

I buy cheese by the block rather than shredded or in tiny blocks. I shred it myself when I want it shredded. I cut into 1lb blocks and freeze until needed.

 

I buy yogurt in the big tubs rather than the individual packaged ones.

 

I make my own jelly/jams in season. But you can save now by using frozen fruits and making your own right now. One packaged of frozen strawberries will be worth 5 pints of jam.

 

We don't skimp on milk. We buy whole raw milk from the farm

We don't skimp on pizza. But we do only buy it on the coupon 1/2 off days.

We don't skimp on the fruits & veggies. But we do only buy in season. No strawberries in the middle of the winter as they're most expensive. Oranges right now.

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2nding the skip the cold cereal route. You can get whole grains for pennies to make hot cereal with.

Sometimes shredded cheese is actually cheaper here than block, but check the prices. All dairy products here go through wild fluctuations.

Make your own yogurt. Tutorial here.

 

Oooo, making yogurt! I'm excited. Thanks for sharing. :001_smile:

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I did the same thing, and found the book extremely helpful. Worth buying, IMHO.

 

Would it be helpful if you don't eat processed food? Honestly, I would LOVE to cut my grocery bill but I don't eat cereal so a book that tells me to buy cereal with a coupon doesn't help. However, if a book could really help someone like me, I'd love to know about it!

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:grouphug: The ridiculous rent drove us out of CA four years ago. I feel your pain. We're still watching every penny: cereal is a treat, not a staple! Meat consumption has gone down, we have more pasta, homemade pizza, beans, soups, etc. The kids love when I make homemade burritos. (Last night I even attempted our own homemade tortillas - can we say messy?!?) We use cheap bar soap and store brand for whatever I can handle. I even bought a makeup remover that was $4 instead of my normal $6 one and it works exactly the same! ($2 can buy something else!) Do you have some kind of whole foods place around your house? I try and buy bulk oatmeal and pinto beans and it is a lot cheaper. :grouphug: I'm sorry about your Starbucks, I have thought of you often since your post, it's tough.

 

Ditto on the bulk oatmeal. The bulk bin organic oats are cheaper at the health food store than the packaged generic oats at the grocery store! I personally buy the steel cut oats and then do the overnight cooking method. I boil 4 cups of water on the stove, then add in 1 cup of oats and turn off the heat. I add some raisins and cover it, letting it sit out overnight. In the morning it just needs to be heated up a bit, I generally let everyone help themselves and heat individual servings in the microwave. We add butter, brown sugar or syrup, cinnamon, whatever, and it is $1.19 per POUND. That makes a few weeks worth it seems!!

 

Another cheapy breakfast is grits, make sure to eat some eggs with it for protein.

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Breakfasts here are: cereal, toast, oatmeal

Lunches are: deli meat sandwiches/quesodillas/hummus/pita bread/grilled cheese/mac and cheese

Dinners: rice/beans/meat/eggs/french toast/pasta/veggies

 

Try:

 

Breakfast - eggs (cooked with veggies, perhaps in a breakfast casserole), oatmeal (not instant, cooked with fruit), cut-up fruit

 

Lunch - dinner leftovers, soup, sandwiches with homemade bread, egg salad (w/veggies), chicken salad (stretch those leftovers with veggies), quesodillas (w/veg), homemade mac-and-cheese (spiked with veggies), white bean dip instead of hummus (cheaper to make), on homemade whole-grain bread. Ditch the deli meat - slice your own or use beans in whole grain tortillas. Fruit.

 

Dinner - make meat the accent, not the main course.

 

Find your local Trader Joes.

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Cut out the cereal, unless it's on sale. (or altogether if you'd like to cut down on milk)

 

Sandwiches are deceivingly expensive. Bread, cheese, and deli meat are really costly. Eat leftovers instead (cooking a little extra with that in mind)

 

Most of my meals have rice or potatoes with it (cheap) We also eat a lot of soup and stew. I always make stock with chicken bones, and save ham bones, etc. for soup. If you eat ham, and watch out for sales, you can often get a simple (not honey roasted or anything) ham for less than $1.00 a pound. This can be used cubed in salads, sliced in sandwhiches, cubed in casseroles or soups, etc. I can stretch a cup of diced ham to feed 5 people well. A $7 ham can go a LONG way at our house. So can a turkey that is on sale. If you don't have a large freezer, it could be worth the investment to buy one.

 

I also shop sales for produce. Then I only buy what is on sale that week. (Sometimes this means I go to more than one store) I try to use everything I buy, without much waste. If I have a small amount of veggie left over, I freeze it for soup later. If lettuce or spinach is cheap that week, I serve salad with every meal. Make your own salad dressings.

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Breakfasts here are: cereal, toast, oatmeal

 

Cereal is a budget buster for me. It's expensive per serving and my kids are hungry an hour later so add in more money for snacks. Cereal is a treat. Try eggs, homemade muffins, make-ahead and heat-em up pancakes and oatmeal.

 

Bread can be a good option, depending on what you are paying. I fing most grocery store and big box prices too much. Day old stores can be your best option. Wait for a great sale and then stock up. Freeze loaves. Again, the lowest cost option is homemade.

 

Lunches are: deli meat sandwiches/quesodillas/hummus/pita bread/grilled cheese/mac and cheese

 

Deli meat is another budget buster. If you really want meat for lunch, cook a whole turkey or ham (on sale now left from Christmas and will be again for Easter) and slice for sandwiches. You can freeze the meat and pull out as needed.

 

Quesadillas are a standy in our house. But, I buy a big package of tortillas at Costco or make homemade tortillas.

 

:Pita Bread. I probably wouldn't put that in my cart, unless they were BOGO and I had great coupons. Even then. . . compare to your cost of homemade bread/quesadillas per serving and see if you can justify it.

 

Grilled cheese and mac and cheese: Great choices if you are getting your cheese inexpensively. Costco has the best price in my area. Make a price book and find out your area's best price, including recurring sales prices.

 

Other frugal lunch choices can include:

leftovers, leftovers, leftovers.

homemade soup

cheese and crackers (bought on sale w/ coupons)

egg and tuna sandwiches

good 'ol peanut butter and jelly

 

We don't have a BJ's. I wish we did!!! We have Smart and Final, Sam's and Costco. Smart and Final is free for membership so we shop there for flour, rice, beans, etc.

 

Have you made a price book for your area? This is ESSENTIAL to getting the lowest prices. List all of your pantry items that you normally use and then take an afternoon and go to two of your typical grocery stores, Walmart, Sam's and Costco. Note the prices of each item on your list per ounce or per pound so that you can do a side by side comparison. When I did this (with my kids; it's was a great day out!) I was surprised that Costco had the lowest prices on nearly everything. There are a few things priced lower or available only at Sam's. I usually have a friend get those once a year or wait for a free Sam's day.

 

Finally -- and this is huge -- what about snacks? These are budget killers! Individual cookies and crackers and ice cream treats and puddings and yogurts will eat your budget alive. Instead, try these snack ideas:

 

*in season fruit (my low price is usually .99/lb) That means apples and bananas regularly and the rest when in season

*homemade cookies, muffins, brownies, cakes, etc.

*homemade yogurt

*2.5 gallon store brand ice cream

*homemade banana, apple, cinnamon bread

*smoothies (w/ homemade yogurt and in-season or going bad fruit)

 

Okay, this is my finally. :001_smile: Go to your library and check out some books on frugality. There are many wise minds who have done this and written about it. Different books will have the same general tips, but with some twists. Some recommendations are (in this order) The Tightwad Gazette, Miserly Moms, Family Feasts (Mary Ostyn). Once you find this section, you'll find lots more on the subject. There are so many other tips like how to cut down your paper and cleaning costs, costs for spices, shopping at ethnic stores for certain items.

 

HTH,

Lisa

 

ETA: One other thing (though I know I said final twice!). Analyze everything that you are buying for its 1) food value and 2) lowest cost. For instance, I don't buy gummy snacks b/c it has such little food value for the cost. Cute little packaging and fun for the kiddos, but those gummies do nothing to really satisfy the hunger. And a lowest cost example. Say you are making rice and beans for dinner. You could buy Zatarains OR minute rice and canned beans OR bulk rice and dried beans. The third choice makes the meal a truly frugal meal for your family (and is the healthiest choice). Or take spaghetti. You could buy canned Spaghettios OR pasta and canned spaghetti sauce OR pasta and homemade sauce. The third option will be far cheaper per serving (generally; unless you have super double coupons or some such. ;/)

Edited by FloridaLisa
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At our large grocery store, if we buy a case of something, they will sell it to us at cost plus 10%. This has really helped us save with the items that we always use. I'd ask your store if they can do this. Also, we get our spices at a local organic store that sells many things in bulk.

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You may have access to Costco in CA but I doubt you will save money in the move. Prices for housing, food, gas, just about everything is higher - taxes are out of sight and about to go higher. I sometimes drive to Idaho to save money by going to Costco and I notice lower gas prices than Oregon the moment we cross the border. I know what you mean about food prices in a small town; we live in a remote area - food and gas cost a lot more for us since it needs to be delivered way out here. Still, Idaho is a bargain for your Oregon neighbors even with the added sales tax. maybe we should all move to Texas instead.

 

Normally, you would be 100% right, but in our little remote corner of Idaho---the cost differences between here and CA are slim to none. Now 5 years ago, that wasn't the case. But since gas, energy and food has soared in price and the changes in the real estate industry---we have worked out that living in CA will be either cheaper or a total wash. Even a wash is fine because we won't have to deal with snow, ice and winter!!! :tongue_smilie:

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