Sweating the small stuff

A while ago, we were at the grocery store and several of my children were begging me to buy them some cups of Yoplait yogurt. I don’t usually buy these for them, but for some reason, I felt vaguely guilty that time. Maybe I had turned into one of those miserly moms that obsessed about stuff that really didn’t matter.

So, when I got home, I did some calculations and ended up feeling quite justified in my no-Yoplait policy.

In my area, cups of Yoplait usually cost $.50 on sale(they’re $.75 otherwise). If the five of us(the kids and myself) ate a cup of Yoplait five days out of seven, the cost per week would be $12.50.

Over the course of a year, that adds up to $650. On yogurt.


And this is even assuming that I could manage to procure that much yogurt at the $.50 price(if I had to pay $.75 for each container, the yogurt would cost us over $975 in a year..the horror!).

If I make my own yogurt, a week’s worth costs us $4, saving us $11 a week. Over the course of a year, this will save us $572 compared to the $.50 Yoplait cups.

Yeah, sweating the small stuff is totally worth it. $.50 here, $1 there, $5 over there…it all adds up when you look at things in the space of a year instead of in the space of a day.

To encourage myself, I do this with a lot of things.

I count up how much money I save by cutting my son’s hair, by air-drying my laundry, by eating in instead out, by potty training($115.53 so far!), by packing my husband’s lunch, and, of course, by making yogurt!


Because honestly, sometimes I really don’t feel like giving my son a haircut, and I really don’t feel like cooking, and I really don’t feel like hanging my laundry up to dry, so I need some inspiration to keep trucking along.

So, the next time you feel like it’s not worth it to give up your latte or your pizza delivery or any number of other things, consider the annual cost and you’ll likely find yourself freshly motivated. ;)


  1. says

    Looks like the yogurt recipe is going to need to make another appearance. I’m not sure it would be worth it for me to make so much yogurt for myself. I eat about one of those yoplait (well, target brand) things a week maybe. I think I might have more waste and cost if I made a whole container of it. But I’ll have to calculate it out (and maybe eat more yogurt). :-)

    • says

      I find myself in a similar situation. I played around with the recipe and I’ve found that I can make a 6 Cup batch of homemade yogurt and eat it before it goes bad. I use individual serving size jars. I think that prolongs the life of the yogurt because no contaminants can be introduced by accident as could happen when serving from a big jar

  2. says

    So very true!!

    Do you and your family ever eat out?

    I think it’s great the number of things you do for your family! From homemade bread, yogurt and packing your husbands lunch! I cannot wait for the day, where my full time job, is a wife and mother! :)

  3. Gail says

    Kristen, – an excellent post!
    I am always in need of inspiration and this is a good reminder of looking at the long term savings and reward. Things do add up over time!

  4. says

    Saving money need not take a lot of time. In my pre-frugal days, I couldn’t cook to save my time and spent too much eating out or buying junk food. Now, I have discovered how to cook an easy meal with a slow cooker. Fifteen or twenty minutes will give me a few meals including leftovers. I would spend more time waiting in line at McDonald’s ;)

    I agree that the only way you can save money is by watching the small purchases. Yes, that pizza may be “only” 20 dollars, but in the long run it all adds up and the next thing you know you are drowning in debt and dread answering the phone because of the collection agencies hassling you day in day out.

  5. Elisabeth says

    Love the points you make here. We have six kids, and have always done our own haircuts, avoided restaurants, shopped second-hand, cooked and baked “from scratch”, etc. These things allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom. We trusted that God would provide, but knew that also meant we needed to use the resources that He had blessed us with wisely.

    I just learned how to make yogurt via your site! Thank-you! I’ve also (in the last year) started making my own laundry soap and stain remover. You can learn how to do almost anything yourself through the internet.

  6. says

    I love doing this! You get a balanced perspective when you do the math and look at the big picture. Thanks to this (and your other yogurt posts) I’m becoming convinced that I need to (and can) try making my own yogurt. Thank you!

  7. Penny Markle says

    Hi Kristen
    Thank you for your yogurt recipe. I just tried it and it turned out awesome!! I love to save money on grocery’s so much so that this year I have a 8×10 green house, 9 half barrels knee high full of fresh vegies strawberries, raspberries etc to enjoy. I just started using a juicer so I will be enjoying fruit yogurt smoothies etc. Anyway Thank you for the recipe and I enjoy reading your posts.

  8. John says

    There is only one commercial brand of yogurt that I can stand to eat and that is the one that says in the contents paragraph, “milk, yogurt culture”. It is more expensive than Yoplait and difficult to find. Plain, home-made yogurt is sweet, delicious on its own and far less expensive than store brands with all that junk in them. By the way, home-made low-fat or non-fat yogurt is also excellent and who cares about it being a little runny? YUM!

    • Kristen says

      That’s for the plain version. For the vanilla, the cost would be slightly more…a tablespoon of vanilla and however much sugar you use (a cup or less, though). So, the extra cost is fairly minimal.

  9. Christina says

    I know this is an old post but I wanted to chime in. Awesome job you are doing! I do lots of these things myself and they really add up.

    But more importantly I work fulltime and have 3 kids( 2 with Autism) and still make my own bread, laundry detergent, yogurt, jams, etc. It really doesnt take all that much extra time when you factor in the trips to the store. Plus no extra impulse buys and you save on the cost of fuel to even get to the store.

    I spend about 45 minutes a night on cooking, most of which is while I am making dinner anyway, and a couple hours on the weekend to make some stuff ahead or refill the detergent jars, etc. My kids help with some of it and we have neat science lessons.

    Anyone can save oodles of money if they are motivated. ANYONE. Try one recipe and see how it works. Every bit helps.


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