Good afternoon dear friends,

How is your weekend so far? Doing anything exciting?

I slept really well (went to bed kind of early too) and woke up at 6ish feeling rested. I’m no longer in pain so I think that my ear infections was just a super nasty migraine. We got up before 8 and had breakfast. I ate my usual oatmeal and have nothing to report. I mean, I can tell you that my intestines love it but that might be TMI. It’s my favorite breakfast so I’ll keep on eating it, unless I have another reaction. We then went out to buy a few things and I got 4 new plants. Do I have a problem? I might need to check if there’s one “Gardeners anonymous” near my area. I currently have 8 plants in my home office. You know how small my office is. I just think they complement the space so well. Also, it’s the room with the best light and they like it here. I also got some new wooden spoons and kitchen knickknacks, two frying pans (which we have been looking for) that were 60% off and some new makeup brushes. We then went to our vegetable garden to pick up some peas that were ready and so Rui could water the garden.

Anyway, today I thought I could make things interesting and talk about ways we save money. We all have certain things that we do, right? I’ll share mine and you’ll share yours.

  • We always buy store brand, unless we have tested the product and it’s really bad. Or we might buy some other brand if it’s on sale and it gets cheaper than the store brand (it happens). We never buy store brand: Dish soap (you end up spending more because it doesn’t work so well, I have tried and tested many and have always come back to one brand (Fairy – do you have it where you live?); laundry detergent (our machine is old and doesn’t do well if the detergent is not good quality. We always buy the biggest box we can find, when it’s 50% off. (We can usually find about 100 doses for 10€); cleaning products (except bleach); shampoo and conditioner (I always get either Syoss or Tresemmé because they are really good quality and come in big bottles, usually 750 ml which lasts both of us about 2 months, maybe more?); and I think that’s about it.
  • We pay attention to catalogs and sales. Both before and while at the store we check what’s on sale, according to what we need. We have been known to save up to 60€ on a purchase because we were lucky and everything we needed was on sale.
  • We don’t always shop at the same place. I know that frozen berries are much cheaper at Aldi than at other local supermarket or that my milk is cheaper elsewhere. I keep close attention to how much I spend on groceries and am always aware of price differences. For example, we sometimes buy fruit at Aldi, but it’s not the cheapest place or the one with more variety, we just buy it because we are already there. But we sometimes go to two different stores for our weekly shopping. I know that frozen veggies are better and that I can find different varieties for a better price at a certain place. I know a third supermarket which is the one with the biggest sales and variety. We just really shop around for things. I have recently discovered an app (I think it’s Portuguese, called Quoty) where we can check all of the updated catalogs for each shop (we have around 5 or 6 different shops about 10 minutes away, where very lucky in that department) and compare the prices. I check them regularly and it really helps.
  • We cook at home most of the times. It has been like this since I’ve been home and it saves us so much money. We used to eat out so frequently and now I would say we go out to eat about once or twice a month. We do sometimes buy pizza that we can do in our oven, which costs less than 3€ for one medium pizza, instead of 15€ for a medium one if you order it. Well, we don’t have the option to order now because we live in a small village and they don’t deliver here but it’s cheaper than if we left home to go get it. Add maybe a bottle of coke for 1€, some dessert for 3€ and you are paying 10€ for a meal for 2 instead of maybe 20-30€ you would pay by eating out. So, even when we are not cooking and “splurging” we really aren’t. Rui takes leftovers for lunch most days (we take that into account when we cook) and eats at cheap places when he goes somewhere where he can’t take lunch (maybe 10€ each time, maybe less). We do eat leftovers often. Sometimes we let some things spoil but we don’t throw food away just because it was made two days ago.
  • We have a vegetable garden. We don’t spend money on vegetables for a good part of the year. The water we use to water the garden comes from a well so we do not pay for it. We also freeze them when we don’t eat them or make tomato sauce, for example.
  • We freeze many things like leftovers or soup (not so often), vegetables we won’t be using before they spoil and mostly bread. We sometimes buy meat that is near its expiration date and freeze it for later use.
  • I don’t buy a lot of makeup or cosmetics. I only have what I’m using at the moment and only substitute a product if it doesn’t work for me, which doesn’t usually happen because I tend to buy the same things. I have one mascara, one foundation, an eyeshadow palette with the colors I know I wear, one blush, about 6/7 lipsticks I know I use regularly, etc. All in ones or twos.
  • I cut my own hair, take care of my own shaving and waxing, know how to do a perfect pedicure and manicure and have the tools for both. I  also take care of my eyebrows (my sister keeps saying that I do hers better than they do at the salon).
  • I shop at thrift stores. If I know winter is coming (not talking about Game of Thrones) and I know I need a bunch of sweaters or cardigans, I know the best place is a thrift store. On the last days of each month, they have everything at about 2 or 3 euros and I plan to go then. I usually come home with 5-10 pieces (usually from well-known brands, such as Zara, H&M, Mango) that have never been worn or even washed (I inspect the fabrics closely and only buy what looks brand new) for 20€ or a little more. I do the same in Summer for tops or blouses.
  • I don’t buy expensive clothes. I buy cheap Primark (6€) or H&M (9,99€) basic jeans and take good care of them. I also love H&M’s basic cardigans (9,99€) because they always come in a variety of colors, are very cheap and surprisingly good quality. I always shop sales and rarely buy full price. I take good care of clothes too. I have Primark dresses that are 6 or 7 years old and in impeccable condition. I have a pair of black Zara pumps that I bought in 2009. I need to replace the tip of the heels (what do you call that?) but they are otherwise new and still in style because they are basic. Rui has a few shirts that are about 10 years old and still impeccable. We don’t buy him expensive clothes either. Every season we buy him a few t-shirts and polo shirts and button-ups and jeans but most of the things he owns last for way over a year. We repurpose his old shirts for sports, sleeping, being around the house, vegetable garden. His old jeans are also repurposed for working on the car or around the house. I use his old shirts to sleep, to workout and to be around the house too. No expensive workout clothes or pj’s here. I have impecable primark sweatpants from 5 years ago that I still wear. Thank God they stretch and have elastic. I go to “Chinese Stores” for basics like leggings (4€ for one pair) or basic tops. They’re like a dollar store, they have everything really cheap and you can find one in every corner. We also go there for kitchen and office supplies, home decor, phone covers, etc.
  • I repurpose what I can. Tupperware containers that have lost their top become bowls, and we wash and save glass jars (the ones you buy with olives, beans, etc) to store things or to use for our homemade tomato sauce. I have 10-year-old folders. I finish a semester, throw away old notes and store the folders to be used again. I use old, unfinished notebooks to take notes.
  • We recharge our printer ink cartridges instead of buying a new one. We pay 8€ instead of 30 something.
  • We don’t dry clean anything, ever. Not even rugs. Most clothes can be washed at home if you are really careful. I wash suits, winter coats, blankets, everything. We wash our rugs in the Summer, outside, using soap and a brush and the hose and let them dry in the sun. Actually, all of our clothes dry outside. If it’s raining, we hung them in the garage. If we’re really desperate, then we go to the wash station to use a dryer.
  • My medicine is always generic or store brand, if there’s an option available.
  • I go to my university health center for my gynaecology appointments. 12,50€ instead of 60€ or more, elsewhere.
  • I go to a low-cost (really good, best I’ve ever had) psychologist. 25€ for each appointment instead of 60/80€.

And that’s it. This is what I can remember right now. I’m sure I will come up with many more things. Will you share your tips with me? What do you do in order to save money. What are some good saving habits you have? Let’s all learn from each other.