Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
I have been playing with the idea of buying a deep freeze and stocking it with a 1/2 or 1/4 of beef. I like that I can get grass fed, hormone/antibiotic free beef for a similar price that I would pay in the grocery store. Have you ever bought meat in large quantities? What have you found were the pros and cons?
Yep, I’ve been buying a quarter of local beef for the last few years, so we’ve pretty much gone completely off of grocery store beef.
That’s crock pot BBQ beef, which is about the only thing I use my crock pot for!)
If you can get the beef for a price similar to what you’d pay in a grocery store, then I’d say go for it! You’re supporting a local farmer, reducing demand for conventionally-produced meat, and you’ll be getting a healthier, tastier product to feed your household.
The only budgetary downside would be the cost of the freezer, but if you’ve got the money in the budget to swing it, I’d make the plunge. Chest freezers do also cost a little bit of electricity to run, but it’s generally only a couple of dollars per month*, especially if you get one with a horizontal lid*.
*This site says $2.39 a month if you pay $0.12/kwh.
**The idea is that when you open a horizontal lid, the cold air will not fall out the way it does when you open a vertical door.
I’ve been buying my spices from a store that sells in bulk and they come in a plastic container. They are taking up way too much room in my cabinet. Do you have any suggestions for slice containers?
I’m assuming you’re talking about bulk spices like the ones at Costco and not bulk spices as in the sort that are in open bins.
I buy some of my spices from Costco, and I just use the large containers to fill small, regularly sized spice containers. For instance, I just pour my Costco cinnamon into the McCormick cinnamon container and then I store the large plastic containers of spices out of the way on my laundry room pantry shelf.
I’m sure some of my readers will have more stylish or creative suggestions for you, but that’s the unimaginative way I handle it!
I have an area that I haven’t noticed you address directly and was wondering if you could on a Monday -and that is being frugal with younger kids. We have a newborn and 2 year old and was curious about things that you did to save and maintain quality of life. We are breastfeeding and doing cloth diapers as our big financial (and health) decisions but any ideas on other things? Or things to invest in buying higher quality? And other things you did with young kids that you look back on and are glad you did?
We talked about the whole baby gear issue in a recent Q&A, so go check that discussion out right here.
(For the moment, I’ll just say that you don’t need everything the baby industry tries to sell you [Question it all!!], and you can save tons of money by buying used or borrowing stuff.)
As far as the bigger picture goes when you have a household with small children…well, I’d say that it’s important to remember that small children really don’t need all that much to make them happy.
I think we parents often get sucked into thinking we need to buy/do so many things “for our children” when really, we might be buying/doing it for ourselves.
I don’t know if that makes sense. Hmm.
For example, babies do not care if they have an expertly decorated nursery. Parents are the ones who care about that. For various reasons, I had a nursery set up in advance for only one of our four children, and she doesn’t seem to be any better off than the other three.
Babies just want to be fed and held and changed, and you can do that without a $3000 Pottery Barn room.
And honestly, what makes toddlers and preschoolers happy isn’t a whole lot more complicated. More than stuff or fancy trips or expensive outings, they want your love and your time and your attention, and you can give that no matter the size of your budget.
Go for walks, read books, play games, sing songs, visit the library, eat meals together, let them help you around the house, and they’ll probably be just as happy as they’d be if you spent a gazillion dollars on them.
You asked if there’s anything I look back on and am glad I did, and I think it would be just that we kept things simple and within our means. We didn’t have a lot of money, and instead of buying into the culture’s assumptions about what babies and children need, we did what worked for our budget.
Note: I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to decorate nurseries or to take children on trips. What I’m saying is that these things aren’t essential to a happy babyhood or childhood and that the things that ARE essential (love, attention, and time) don’t cost much at all.