McCandless Mom Lives ‘Simply Frugal’ Life

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In these tough economic times, a local woman has found a way to survive, even thrive. Now, she’s willing to help others do the same thing.

The wife and mother of two says the trick to “Simply Frugal Living” is to always get something back when shopping and the same game plan works at any store or restaurant.

Andria Alexander and her husband Todd have two small children and a dog. Todd is the music minister at their church and earns about $40,000 a year.

“I save our family about 31- or $32,000 a year,” said Alexander, the homemaker from McCandless.

After their second son was born, Alexander decided she wanted to quit her job and stay at home. They knew it would be tough, but she had a plan.

“We started by listing out all of our expenses. A lot of folks, you know, it comes in, it goes out; you don’t exactly know where it is going,” she said. “So, it’s a matter of grabbing hold of your expenses and figuring out where the money is going exactly.”

They cut back in every category, starting with groceries.

“I was able to cut that expense category consistently by 50 percent,” said Alexander. “By matching coupons with sales prices and then stocking up for six to eight weeks at time on a product when you could get it at its cheapest.”

The family of four spends just $200 a month on food, and that includes cleaning and paper products.

Alexander shops at various stores depending on which has the best deal, and she plans her weekly menu based on sales.

“My goal is to have at least two things going for me, if not three when I buy something,” she added. “I want it to be on sale. I want to have a coupon for it, and I would like if there could be some other promotion.”

Alexander also has some tips on how they save on utilities.

“Running the dishwasher and the washing machine at night when the rates are lower; always running a full load, never a partial load; washing your clothes on cold instead of warm or hot cause it doesn’t use as much gas to heat the clothing. Cooking food as much as possible in a crock pot to avoid running the gas on the stove,” she says.

Alexander also say they are not suffering. In fact, they are living and eating better than before.

She pays cash for almost everything, and every dollar has a spot in her “envelope system.” Each envelope has a category like groceries, clothing or eating out. When the envelope is empty, that’s it for the month; no more spending.

It isn’t easy and it’s time consuming, but it sure pays off, and she’s sharing the wealth through her website.

“I cover all kinds of resources for how to live frugally from coupon match ups for the grocery store, all kinds of resources to help people save in this economy,” Alexander said.

The Alexanders also take vacations and eat out, but how they live and spend never changes – pay in cash and always look for a deal and double that deal if you can.

Simply Frugal Living
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  • Robert

    How much does she spend on gas to go to all of these places? or does take the bus

  • Debbie

    Im curious also how does she save on gas???? I want that secret

    • Matt

      combine errands into one trip around town rather than drive out to one place every day.

    • Kristi Crocetti

      At Giant Eagle if you know you are going to shop there you can buy a ‘their’ gift card with $50 or more to get your gas discount then use it to pay for your purchase.

    • Sandy

      A couple of years ago when gas prices began to go up I first heard about the practice described as hypermiling. While some of their recommendations are extreme, the basics of driving 55mph, watching ahead to gauge distance between you and the next vehicle, stop sign or light so you could coast rather than ride the brake were definitely worth implementing. I began to track my miles per gallon and found that I could consistently get about 20-25% more out of a tank of gas. At $80 to fill my tank that is $15-$20 a tank saved!

  • Patricia A. Wilson

    How does the electric co. know what time of day you do laundry? I used to wash at 5AM and never noticed lower electric bills.

    • Carrie Kuhns

      I have always read that doing your laundry late at night is cheaper…. I’m not sure how they rate it, but I always do my laundry at night before bed! :)

  • EnglishPlease

    “Alexander also say they ”

    Do she really…?

  • Always lived this way

    Maybe she should watch extreme couponing. Actually, if you don’t use your car for anything other then 1 trip shopping, work and appts, you can save alot. Also, get an older car. My 91 Grand am take $40 to fill up and I can get about 650 miles out of that.

    • Mike

      Your 1991 Grand Am gets 65 Miles Per Gallon?

  • Andria Alexander

    Check out my series, 30 Ways to Cut the Cost of Living, on for more info on how we save. As for gas, I fill up when I have fuel perks from Giant Eagle or Shop ‘n Save. I combine errands and even plan my route to travel the fewest miles possible. Keep your car in good repair, avoid traffic, stick to 55mph, and drive a car that gets excellent gas mileage (our Honda Civic is our run around car).

  • Maria

    There are no coupons for read/whole foods such as produce, meat, beans, and grains. Food coupons are great if you want to eat processed food. However, processed food is neither good or good for you, so I wonder how she figures they are eating better.

    • Maria

      real, not read.

  • Michelle

    Marie I shop at Aldi and Local produce like farmers markets for all real foods. I use the coupons for everything else. I when i say everything I mean from Soap to paper products. If you freeze when fruit is in season you can also save so much. Paying retail in this economy is crazy when deals can be had. Good job Andria!

  • sandy

    I thought the same thing… half the coupons in the Sunday paper are for processed food. Do I really want a free box of freeze-dried potatoes in a box, macaroni and cheese or sugar cereal. I shop smart as well and can also find value in healthy foods (protein (I stock up when boneless chicken breast is on sale for $1.99 a pound, dried beans), complex carbs (brown rice, grains, oatmeal), produce (fresh or frozen) and know my family is eating healthy.That’s why are there so many overweight people walking around… all that junk/processed food is cheap.

  • Bill Gates

    I’m impressed. She is my kind of girl.

  • Pauline Rosenthal

    Also was told by the electric company that if you turn your water tank off at the fuse box when not using – (that uses about 40% of electric because it run all the time to keep the water hot) all you need to do is turn it back on 15 MIN. before taqking a shower (or the Elect. Co. has a devise – about $150) that will set to do automatcally if you don’t want to keep turing it off & on yourself..

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  • DAN

    #1 Giant Eagle store Gift Cards so NOT count towards the Fuel Perks program.

    #2 For Penn Power, the time of day does NOT determine the electric rate. They divide the day into 15 minute increments. the HIGHEST USAGE in ANY 15 minute periiod sets the rate for the WHOLE MONTH. So…if you use the microwave, washer, electric stove and stovetop in one single 15 minute period, ALL electric is based on that rate (even the late night hours)…look at the bill and see the rating factor (usually 9, 10 or 11)

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