Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A starving artist's view on cutting back in this economy

Everyone seems to be feeling the hardships of this dreadful economy and being an artist in this environment makes it ten times worse. Unfortunately art pieces are not necessarily a necessity but rather a luxury item. I have to agree, if I had the choice between a sandwich and a painting, right now I would have to go with the sandwich unfortunately.

John and I have been trying to cut back (especially after receiving our electric bill!) and these are a few ways we have found to help out.

1. Reuse, reuse, reuse. If you have something that can easily be made into something else, do it! Often projects don’t take nearly as much time as we believe they will and in the end you are left with not only a personal statement, but saved money as well!

2. Buy generic. I know, this seems a tad bit ridiculous to point out, but I have really seen the benefits first hand. In southern Georgia we don’t have a lot of great grocery stores around here (aside from Publix which I love) but the ones we do have seem to be highly overpriced. I have found some great deals at places like WalMart and Food Lion that really make that difference once the checkout happens.

3. Plan ahead. John has the horrible habit of going into the grocery store just looking for whatever he thinks looks good. Me, being so meticulous like to plan out a menu for the week and also combine items. Since it’s only the two of us I usually split up a lot of items and cut recipes in half. I pretty much hate leftovers and refuse to budge on this matter, so this makes portion sizes much more do-able. For instance, I bought a pack of chicken strips, I cooked the whole package and used half for fettuccini alfredo and have the rest in the fridge for fried rice later this week.

4. Buy in bulk, if you can. For instance, for this week’s menu I decided to make roast herb chicken and chicken sandwiches on Kaiser rolls later. Instead of buying two packs of chicken breast strips, I bought two whole chickens which are ridiculously cheaper as opposed to the pre-cut items. I spent $7.42 on two whole chickens, which is what I would have spent on one pack of chicken strips! And that is dinner for two nights, instead of just one.

5. Buy fresh and freeze. I generally do not like canned or frozen food and have found that when certain items are on sale, you can really get a great deal if you plan ahead. For instance, I bought four green peppers the other day to use for fajitas this week. I only intend to use one pepper, but one I am letting ripen to the red pepper and the other two I am freezing. Frozen peppers last a very long time in the freezer and always come in handy!

6. I am a big fan of gardening, not only is it fun and rewarding, it also saves money! Currently I am attempting to grow some tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, peppers and catnip for Turbo. Of course not everyone has the time for these things, but if you have the climate and the willpower, it definitely pays off.

7. Do it yourself! I usually wax my own eyebrows, cut my own hair and make a lot of my clothes or refurbish them. Lots of great finds can be found at thrift stores that can easily be made into a unique one of a kind piece.

8. Go for lunch specials instead of dinner specials. I am a big pasta eater and love some Olive Garden, however with the prices for dinner I can’t even afford the bread right now! I ate lunch recently with a friend there for the first time and was so impressed with their prices. I had the unlimited soup bowl, breadsticks and salad and I believe the total was under $10.00, which is incredible! I had about four bowls of soup as well, and was more than full, all of it delicious!

9. Drink water when you are going out. I hate water. I am one of those people. In recent years I have gotten better with this and a big factor of that simply is because of the cost of soda in restaurants. Free water? Why yes, okay. As opposed to paying $2.50 for a Diet Coke? Hmm.

10. If you are a soda addict like me, buy two liters. Usually you will pay less than $2.00 for one bottle of soda as opposed to $5.00 for a case of soda. I also buy generic bottled water (if I do drink water, it has to be bottled) and save so much money as opposed to the name brand stuff. It’s water for goodness sake!

11. Rent movies. I am not sure about other places but Movie Gallery has this program called Power Play where you rack up points for every rental you make. John and I recently acquired 30some credits and have not paid for a rental for months!

It all seems pretty obvious in comparison, but these things are also often hard to keep in mind while out shopping or living our daily lives.

Good luck!

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