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Frugal is the New Black: 9 Timely Tips

By Sherry Brooks
March 25, 2011
File under: Household tips, Saving Money, Thrifty


There is a family in America that has quietly, patiently and mindfully been tending to their finances all the while raising several beautiful and helpful teens. After years of practice, the Economides family has been rewarded with a black belt. Yes, a black belt in frugality!

Because they decided early on to live within their means, this ingenious family has mastered the skills to live debt-free and achieve the American dream. They own their home, eat well and enjoy life, without the pervasive, sickening pressure of overextended credit that many Americans experience. They want to help other families to survive these tough economic times… and not only survive, but thrive.

They truly are the Economides. You may chuckle, because their name sounds like “economy”, but this resourceful clan are guests on many of the top network TV shows. Steve and Annette Economides are New York Times best selling authors with two books, “America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money” and “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family.”

Nine Timely Tips from the Economides family:

1. Start with baby steps. If you are the restaurant type, buy prepared foods for a few months, then gradually shift to preparing your own snacks, salads, entrees and desserts.

2. Plan your meals around the weekly grocery ads, which are like a lottery ticket. Think of them as an indicator of which produce is in season. You will shrink your grocery bill and your taste buds will be delighted by the taste of produce at its peak.

3. Reduce trips to the grocery store so that you are not tempted as often to make impulse purchases. According to Steve Economides, grocers expect a whopping 60 percent of your purchases to be impulse. The more you plan, the more you save.

4. Think of your freezer as a vault. Purchase sale items to freeze ahead and freeze duplicate meals for busier times. Make pesto in the summer when basil is abundant and freeze multiple small portions. Divide a jar of green salsa and freeze in five freezer bags.

Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays. Add a thawed cube and a baggie of thawed salsa with a dash of chipotle Tabasco sauce to some mashed avocados for crowd-pleasing guacamole. Bury an avocado pit in the guacamole to keep it from turning color.

5. Engage your children. Let them help you put away the groceries when you return tired from the shopping. Give them age- appropriate assignments in chores and food preparation.

6. Pack lunches for the family and also let them buy lunch once a week.

7. Purchase candy on sale in the fall to put into Christmas stockings.

8. Designate a trunk or box as the “costume trunk” and collect thrift store or sale items throughout the year. By Halloween, you will have inexpensive options for costumes.

A trench coat, briefcase, fedora and dark glasses make a great spy costume. With a chef’s coat, toque type hat and white pants, you have a Pillsbury Dough Boy with a blue “Pillsbury” circle on the front of the hat. A dowel wrapped with padding and masking tape at one end with fake jewels glued on top becomes a scepter for a king or queen costume. Anyone in a pink-outfit carrying a feather duster is “Tickled pink.”

9. While you are at the thrift store or T.J. Maxx, keep be on the lookout for designer duds for your little tribe. Juicy Couture, Marc Jacobs, Coach, Kate Spade, skinny jeans and Marc Jacobs can often be found for a song.

Sherry Brooks is a healthy, happy and trim “Frugalista” living the lean and green life near Malibu in sunny southern California. Follow Sherry on Twitter

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