We’ve seen higher grocery and fuel bills lately, so we’re upping our frugal game to help the budget. Our financial goals are still important to us and we want to hit them regardless of the rising prices.
How I frugal-ed in the kitchen:
I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. Here are five ways that I saved money this month.
1. Winner Winner FREE Chicken Dinner!
Once again, GIANT of PA offered a chicken dinner with 3 sides and rolls for only 350 gas points. The value of the meal is $18, but the cash value of the 350 gas points for my vehicle is about $5.95–a great price for a dinner that I don’t have to cook!
Related reading: 10 Ways to Save at Giant Food Stores
2. Marked down meat!
July was another stellar month for marked-down meat. I have been doing my grocery shopping at a different GIANT store and I’m finding that they always have a lot of marked-down meat. I have been packing my freezer with breakfast sausage, chicken, and Italian sausage–all marked down 40-50% off. I haven’t bought non-clearance meat in months.
3. Simple Summer Meal Planning
I think summer is the easiest season to meal plan, I keep our meals simple–a grilled protein, side salad, corn on the cob, and fresh summer fruit, such as watermelon and/or cantaloupe. To save time during the week, I make the salad and chop the fruit on Sunday nights.
4. Homemade Basil and Walnut Pesto:
I made my second batch of homemade pesto from my two garden basil plants. I use the pesto as a sauce for hot pasta or pasta salad, pizza topping, and spread it over grilled chicken or fish.
My recipe: Fresh Basil Walnut Pesto
5. Got Bacon Fat?
I’ve been making bacon a lot lately in my cast iron skillet. After the pan cools enough, I drain the bacon fat into a glass jar that I keep in the refrigerator. We use the bacon fat in place of butter or oil for eggs and sauteed dishes.
Show me the Money! My Total Found Money for July: $816
I like to tally up any extra money I find through the month. Over the years, I have found money through rebates, refunds, and online sales. Finding extra money is a game for me and July turned out to be a stellar month!
Plasma Donations: $420
I earned $420 from 5 donations and a $50 bonus in the month of July. My time spent averaged about 1 hour and 40 minutes per donation. This includes check-in, waiting my turn for a bed, and the actual donation process. This equates to about $60 an hour, which was an excellent rate for me.
I took advantage of a “welcome back” bonus payout that ended in July, so this average will go down in August. I stopped donating back in October 2021 because I was having a hard time fitting it into my schedule, but in June, they lured me back with a very nice Welcome Back promotion for my first 8 visits, which I finished up in July. I’m not sure yet if I will continue in August. It will depend on my schedule, but for 60 BUCKS an hour, I made time to fit in donations during July.
I use my plasma money for special treats for my family and me. Right now I’m saving my money for a weekend getaway with my husband.
If you’d like information on donating plasma, read my review of donating plasma HERE.
Unexpected PA 529 Cash Deposit: $200
I received an email from the PA State Treasury on July 26 letting me know that qualifying PA 529 GSP account owners will automatically receive a $100 account deposit! It stated that “due to the current financial standing of the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) fund, the decision was made to provide this automatic contribution to qualifying PA 529 GSP accounts.” So I immediately logged into my account and sure enough, $100 was deposited into each of my daughters’ accounts.
In the grand scheme of college funding, $200 is a drop in the bucket, but I always appreciate free money.
Credit Card Cash Back Redemptions in July: $196
Years ago during our Debt Freedom Plan, I avoided using credit cards, not because we had credit card debt, but because I was trying to limit our overall spending. I allocated cash every month to the non-fixed categories like groceries, restaurants, clothing, and miscellaneous and stuck to the allocation.
However, once we paid off all of that debt, I started playing the credit card game. Instead of using cash, I put everything that I can on a credit card and pay off our balances every month. I only use cards that offer some type of cashback offer.
Currently, I use a Upromise credit card where the cashback gets transferred to my daughters’ 529 accounts. In July, $98 was transferred to each daughter’s 529 accounts.
Related Reading: How I use my Upromise credit card to save for college.
Share in the comments how you frugal-ed in July.