Sunday, June 26, 2011

This weeks grocery shopping.

This week is a little off for my husband and I.  He is having meeting all week so all his meals will be provided by his work.  VERY nice.  All I have to worry about is his snacks throughout the day, which thanks to my small stockpile I will not have to purchase. 

Because we are having company come into town on Thursday - Sunday I am going to go to the grocery store on Wednesday and spend my allotted 50.00 for those days.  It is going to be tricky, very very tricky.  50.00 on four people? 

Here is what I am eating until Thursday.  Scraps, odds and ends and more scraps and odds and ends.  :) 

This will consist of Oatmeal, homemade granola bars - with ingredients from my stockpile, vege burgers, and smoothies.  I have not yet decided on what I am making to serve our family this coming weekend so stay tuned and watch my creativity come to life!  I will try to post this by Tuesday, after I have time to go through the advertisements and coupons.

Have any ideas for cheap healthy meals?  PLEASE share!  I need all the help I can get this week!

Happy savings! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

5 things to do with an old T-shirt and Day 1 of the Wear All Challenge

I know I know, this post sounds so exciting! :)  Well your right it is!  I am in the process of going through ALL my clothes, pajamas, socks, work clothes, play clothes.  You name it, and I have tried it on and sorted it in the last 24 hours.  After several hours of sorted my clothes I realized I have way to many for one, and for two that some of them were worn past the point of use.  So that gave me an idea.  How can I reuse these old T-Shirts for a different purpose?

This is what I came up with :
1) Packing material - this is probably the least glamorous of my ideas, but give it chance!  If you live far away from family like me and need to ship gifts home, cut up a bunch of different colored shirts and use it as cushion for the breakables.  And as added bonus is that it will slightly speed up the decomposition process.

2) Dust rag or Car wash rag.  Who needs to spend money on those fancy schmancy official dust rag and car wash mitts when you have a perfectly nice holey T-shirt that is dyeing to be all sudsy and put to use again?  Not me.

3) Grocery bag.  This will take a little elbow grease and some imagination but I know you can do it!  And I apologize I have misplaced my camera, but I will take pics and post especially this one to give you some motivation.  Lay the shirt on table or flat surface and cut off the sleeves, then turn inside out and sew the bottom together.  Than fold down a seem in the arm holes and do the same.  Then turn it right side out and look what you have created.  The arm holes act like handles and the neck hole is the place to put the food.  Many grocery stores give discount for bags, so put the old shirts to use!

4) Arts and Crafts for children.  Give them some child safe scissors, glue and glitter and let htem create a masterpiece, or pajamas.  :)

5) Use as added insulation during colder months.  I have done the for years - and I'm sure others do as well.  Take an old shirt - wad it up and put it in between the screen and glass for an extra layer of protection. 

Also, while going through my clothes I noticed many things that still has tags on.  While I purchased these with the best of intentions I have never been able to wear them.  That brought me to my next challenge...Are you ready?  I am calling it the "Wear All Challenge".  I am going to see what I can wear in a months time.  If I don't wear it, it is immediately going into the garage sale or donate bin.  There are a few things I will wear many times, for example I only own 7 pairs of dress pant, so the shirts are really what I am concentrating on with this challenge.  I will keep you posted on my progress.  Anyone want to join my challenge?

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First time making my own laundry soap.

In the recent years I have noticed more discussion than usual about making your own laundry soap.  In the spirit of saving money I decided to give a whirl!  Guess what..its pretty darn simple!  I can not talk credit for this recipe though, I would have no idea to where to start.  I got it from one of my favorite bloggers.  Go here.... to find out the exact instructions.

Here is what I recommend you have.
A large spoon, I actually used a big paint stirrer that a large lumber store gave me
1 5 gallon bucket, or three 1 gallon buckets to make it easier for handling
1 bar of soap, any kind you like
Washing Soda

The basic idea is to melt a shredded piece of soap, any kind you like and melt it in 3 cups of nearly boiling water.  I used a cheese shredder, but a knife would work just fine as well. 

Then you put 3 gallons of hot water in a 5 gallon bucket, add the soapy water once the soap has melted, 1 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax.  SO EASY!  Plus, its actually kind of fun, and you can make a new scent every time if you wish.

Again, check out the simple dollar blog for the exact recipe and instructions I used.

Happy Cleaning!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One week down!

I have been on this journey I am calling the financial fast for one complete week now.  Yay for me!  So far I have contributed 650.00 towards my loan I want to pay off, and only 50.00 to savings.  Savings, well....yea, I am doing something kind of reverse.  Since I already have a generous savings I am concentrating more on paying off debt.  Makes since to me.

I stuck to my grocery budget, and spent no unnecessary money this week!  I call that a success!  :)

My in-laws are coming in next weekend for 4 or 5 days, so sticking to 50 dollars may be absolutly impossible.  Lets see what I can do here....Any tips?

I need alot of help, so follow me so I can get your help anytime!  :)

Happy Savings!!

My homebread recipe - without a bread machine

I have read many recipes online and in books and I have compiled what I think is the best recipe.  Although, I do not eat it anymore because there is milk and butter in it my husband still happily eats it.  As well as my boxer who ate half the loaf last night when I turned my back.  Ugh - that little rascal.

This is what you will need. 
1/4 cup of milk
.5 tablespoons of sugar
1.5 tablespoons of butter or a little less you do not like butter
2 tablespoons flax meal (optional) 
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (optional for topping)
A Pinch of salt
1 package of Dry active yeast or about a tablespoon of it from can jar.
3 cups of flour.  Plus more for the counter.

1)  Mix the yeast and water together according to the package directions.

2) Add the butter (melted), sugar and milk.  Stir until you reach an equal consistency. 

3) Add the rest of the ingrediants.  Add the flour slowing, about 1 cup at a time and make sure there are no bubbles. 

4)  Knead for 20 min.  Put a towel over it and let rise for 45 min.

5) After rising for 45 min, knead again for 30 min.  Let it rise once more for another 45 min.

6) Set the oven at 400 and cook for 30-40 min, checking it near the end to make sure it doesnt over cook.

7) Immediately put it on a cooling rack, and slice when ready to eat!  It slices better when cool.   

You can really have a lot of fun with this.  It really isn't a recipe but rather guidelines cause you can add whatever you want!  Have fun.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week 1 off Grocery shopping - Financial Fast

Okay I had a WILDLY successful day grocery shopping!!  Here is was I bought, and then below is what I plan on making with it - aka this weeks menu!

Store 1
2 Kraft Mayo's 32oz each.  --1.98 each -- I had a coupon for 1.00 off two, and then the store was running a special for an additional .35 off each one.  So for two Mayo's I paid 1.13 each.
1 bottle of sweet relish - 1.22
1 bag of dried cranberries - 1.48
1 bag of 12 whole wheat taco wraps - 1.00
Kraft BBQ sauce .78

Store 1 total - 7.28

Store 2
Newmans own salsa - 2.00
Organic Chicken Breast - 6.19 (3 breasts)
Bag refund .05

Store 2 total - 8.14

Store 3
2 boxes of granola bars - 2/5
2 boxes of Suddenly Salad - 1.98
Vegan Granola bars - 2.98
San Pelligrino - 1.50
Celery - 1.18
2 ears of corn - .76
2 - .50 coupons

Store 3 total 12.40

Store 4
2 Raspberries fruit bars - 1.10
1 2 pound bag of organic apples 2.49

Store 4 total - 3.59

Complete weekly shopping total - 31.31

Side note - My state does not charge sales tax on food items, so I am able to know exactly how much I will spend before leaving the house! 

Since I have so much left in my budget I am going to be going out again and getting food to donate.  After all, if I have the money to do so I should do it!  I will not be going over 50.00 per week, but I will spend up 50.00 in order to donate items.  Speaking of which - one of those Mayo's will be donated, Since my husband is the only one that will be eating it it will go bad before we can use it.

Menu - Week of June 19th-June 25th

Sunday Breakfast - Cereal, yogurt, bananas, oatmeal, granola, raspberries ( all left over from last week )
            Lunch - Odds/Ends - was out shopping so the hubby was left to fend for himself.
            Dinner - Tacos.  Chicken, salsa, lettuce, red and yellow peppers, onions ( all but the chicken is                                 leftover from last week) and the whole wheat wraps I purchased today.
Monday Breakfast - Cereal, yogurt, granola, oatmeal, smoothies, raspberries, bananas, apples.
              Lunch - Leftovers
             Dinner - Finish off the leftovers and if needed Tuna noodle casserole

Tuesday Breakfast - Same ole - Same ole
             Lunch - Left over Tuna noodle casserole
             Dinner - Chicken Salad (lettuce, red and yellow peppers, onions, edamame, cheese)

Wednesday Breakfast - Same as always
                  Lunch - Left over Chicken Salad
                  Dinner - Salad again, but I am going to try to find a different kind. 

Thursday Breakfast - Same as always
               Lunch - PB&J and apple ( I will make the bread)
               Dinner - Grilled BBQ Chicken, and a wonderful corn on the cob concoction, suddenly salad.

Friday Breakfast - Same as always
          Lunch - Left over chicken, corm and pasta
          Dinner - baked chicken with seasoning, sauteed peppers and onions, brown rice and Quinoa.

On weekends we eat scraps.  Whatever needs to be eaten we eat - so nothing goes to waste.  With only two of us we can do this, we are not too picky!  :)

Hope this helps you!  I look forward to hearing feedback, and of course tips on how I can shop better!

Happy Shopping and Savings!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Day four of the Financial Fast

Alas, it is Friday!  Thank goodness!  My husband was lucky enough to have a half day off of work today so we went for a walk with the boys - our two dogs.  A 1 year old brindle boxer, and a 2.5 year old German Shepherd/Dane mix.  It is very warm here today, about 85 so we decided to take the dogs to their favorite place on earth....the pond a block away from our house.  Unleash the boys and let 'em run!  They love bouncing around and playing in the water.  It is a nice way to get a little exercise in for the adults while not over extending ourselves in the heat.

My husband and I both had lunch supplied by work today so that was a wonderful surprise and no money needed! :)

I did have to go to the store today and buy a new collar for my boxer, his - after 2 years of use on my other dog finally broke.  In my opinion going without a collar and tag identification is just not an option.  If I lose my babies, I want someone to be able to find their home.  So, I bought the cheapest cute one.  I spent $5.88.  Because I have not set up a fun money section in the budget I will be taking this out of our grocery fund.

Lucky for us, when it gets warmer out we do not feel like eating a whole bunch, so I think I will be able to swing it this week.

Stay tuned!!  Tomorrow I will be posting my weekly grocery list, complete with coupons used and stores shopped.  I will also include the recipes I will be making in case you have any interest.  Keep in mind I will only spend $50.00, and I am only feeding 2 people - although those 2 people eat completely different.  I think I have found some good deals this week so this should be a great week! 

I will also be posting an update on what we have contributed to the Car loan.  Only 5 months and 2 weeks to have half of it paid off!  We can do it!

Stay cool and happy savings!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tips for summer living on a dime

Since the weather is nice, and school is out now is as good a time as ever to give some ideas for frugal summer events and activities.  Here are some things that I like to do. 

Host a neighborhood crop swap - when fruits and vegetables are ready to be eaten, host a swap party!  If you have tons of cucumbers and you neighbor has tons of tomatoes it can be a win/win for all!  Do this for herbs, vege's and more!

Wanting to have a cheap get together?  Host a clothing exchange.  If your friends are all different sizes than consider exchanging shoes, jewelry, household items, books etc.  The list is endless.  Everyone can bring over a finger food to share and leave with new items, the unwanted items can be donated!

Attend a little league game.  In my small and quaint town there are always summer baseball games going on, you can take a picnic basket or indulge in a hotdog and soda.  The games cost nothing to attend, and if you have small children, they will enjoy watching and dreaming of a day when it is their turn to play.   Not to mention, with any luck they will be tired and go to bed with no trouble.  :)

Explore your local library.  Libraries are a wonderful source of information, adventure, and knowledge.  The often have summer reading programs with prizes and other incentives to encourage young and old alike.

Call you local mueseums and art galleries to see if they offer a free day during the summer.  Often times they do!  Same goes for the zoo - although I hate zoo's but that is a different topic.  :)

Attend community plays, or outdoor choir concerts. 

Volunteer!  Pick a project for the summer that pulls at your heart strings and give it a go!

There are many more ideas out there I am sure!  Please share, always looking for new things to do!

Happy Summer!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dear Lonesome Follower...I almost slipped.

UGH!  If you are like me and millions of other Americans you likely take part in cultural phenomenon known as "retail therapy".  Well, lonesome follower, I almost gave in to it - Almost! 

As I was driving by the mall on my way home from a rather crappy day at work, and secretly trying to justify the reason I needed a new pair of pants I started wondering, when did I become comfortable with stifling my emotions with unnecessary purchases?  That pair of pants or new lipgloss is not going to take away my disapointment, or make my problems go away.  In fact it will add to my problems when I have no money to buy something I really need.  Then I also realized that I was craving pasta - my go to stress reducer, after all I had been stressed so I deserved to eat unhealthy and fatty food, right?  Which oddly enough would only add to my problems and my waistline. :)

I in fact did not purchase the new pants and I kept driving home.  And guess what?  I feel a litter stronger that I did not give into the cultures crazy habit, and unwarranted spending.  In addition to that I can now say that I have made it 24 hours without spending a dime, who knew it would be so hard.

In other cultures even here in the US stress, dissapointment and other emotions are actually dealt with in healthy manners by talking about it, and delving into the true cause instead of trying to spend money to cover it up.  That is my lesson, once again to myself that buying things will not make me feel better, will not cover up my emotions, and will not insure that I never feel this way again.  This is life and I am learning a little bit at a time.  Its a struggle some days...:)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Financial Fast

I was watching a show last night, The Clark Howard Show, and I saw this lady who went on a financial fast. The very thought of this is a little terrifying to me because I like new things, eating out and well - flat out I like to buy what I like. Now-that being said, my husband has a great job, pays well, and has amazing benefits. We are very fortunate to have everything we need and want, a new house, news cars and eat very well.

I am somewhat ashamed to say that we have too much. We could live with one car, we could live in an apartment, we could live without new wardrobes every season. After all people are starving, and living homeless all around this great city. With that being said, I am going to radically transform our finances all while helping others.

In a previous post you would have noted that I also have jumped on the coupon wagon-WAY before the coupon TV show. I follow a few other bloggers that post deals that are free to cheap every week, and although I don't use a lot of those products, and honestly I don't want them cluttering up my house there is no reason to not "buy" those products and give them away. I do this around Christmas but there is no reason I cannot give all year. So, I will be coupon all the free things I can get each week and making a monthly donation to my local food bank/homeless shelter. I challenge you all to do the same, make a small difference and change the world.

Also, with this radical financial overhaul I am changing how much I spend on groceries each week. I have been spending around 50 dollars a week, around is the key word. I make a very detailed list and budget each week - taking full advantage of Walmart's new price matching policy. However, if I see something I want that is not on the list, I think twice but I can always talk myself into it. After all, we can afford it so why not? I hate when food goes bad and I hate not having enough food, so it will be a fine balance. I will also try to make one trip per week, this will cut down on last minute purchases and other non-essential costs.

The cost that I am currently negotiating are:

Cable - If you call, you will most likely get a better deal. Just don't fall for last minute upgrades, or contracts!

Internet - For me this goes hand in hand with cable. It was actually cheaper to bundle together, but we can down grade the amount of speed we have, and save 20 bucks per month.

The items/luxuries I am cutting out completely are...take a deep breath...

Clothes for myself - now I say for myself because I have plenty of clothes - actually I am getting rid of a lot. My husband however has a job that may require additional clothes for travel, meetings, etc.

Magazines/books - I do not buy a lot of new books or magazines, I would estimate about 1 every other month. With each magazines costing about 5 dollars, that's 30 dollars a year. May not seem like a lot, but every bit I can throw towards savings, or a loan is great.

Eating out - this is the kicker for me. I LOVE food, I LOVE wine. I love the fellowship that comes with it. However, trying to feed 2 people for 50 dollars a week while eating at home looks a lot more appealing then spending 100 on one dinner out. Plus, I will learn to make all these great dishes at home.

With all the saving we are going to be doing, here is were the extra money will be going.

Car loan. My husband and I bought a new Jeep last year and still owe 10,000.00 on it. That number makes me shiver. So, we are hoping to have at least 5,000.00 paid off by December. That is 3 months away. EEK.

Savings. We want to up our savings by 5,000.00 by December.

This seems about impossible to me because the word Budget has never been in my vocabulary. Never. I am dedicated to paying of and saving the last 6 months of this year. I am not willing to give my money away to creditors just to borrow money. So we are paying it off years in advance! Go us!

Have any ideas on how to save money? Please Share!

Happy Saving!

Never pay someone to do something you could do yourself...

This phrase hit a chord with me today as I was driving away from the oil and lube store. I paid 25 dollars to have someone else change my oil, while in this case it was necessary due to time constraints and other errands needing to done, I cannot think of a good reason to not learn how to do this small task myself.

I rely on my husband for "manly" tasks such as this but for some reason my car is harder to change because it sits lower to the ground than most vehicles. I have decided I am learning to do this. It is not going to be pretty, and I will probably want to pull my hair out but I am going to do it! Plus, this could add up to extra income down the road for neighbors, friends and family. :) I like extra income.

Now, I am going to taking this one step further. I have recently been making my own bread for 2 reasons. 1) I recently became a Vegan and 2) Its cheaper, with no preservatives and I know exactly what is going in it! both good reasons in my book.

So, if I can make my own bread...why can't I make my own pitas, refried beans and fruit cups? - I have a great recipe for fruit cups! -

I am lucky to have a friend who just moved here from Mexico and she has shared with me how to make my own refried beans. Crock pot anyone? :) Its very easy, VERY cheap considering you can buy a bag of beans for 1.00 or a one time use can for 1.50 in my area. All you have to do is this...Buy whatever beans you want in a bag. I normally buy black or kidney. Then, add the amount you wish to make to a large crock pot then add double the amount of water. Set to low and let cook for 8 hours, checking occasionally to see if additional water is needed. Add desired salt half way through cooking. Super easy, super yummy, super CHEAP!

Pita's are going to be a wee bit more difficult to make, considering I will need it be vegan pita's. I will keep you posted on the progress.

I also loves to make my own dog toys. With a Boxer and a German Shepherd I go through alot of dog toys. I buy fleece on the discount rack because believe it or not, my dogs do not care if the toys match. :) I cut, and braid, tie in tennis balls and TADA! A new dog toy.

As far as my readers, does anyone have ideas on things we can do ourselves or make ourselves?

Happy chores!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Honoring what God has giving us

Most of my other posts have been about what products we can get for little or no money. Which dont get me wrong I love doing. Now I would like to talk about how we as consumers should spend and save our money responsibly and honorably, and part of that involves how we bank and how we save.

Whoa..take a deep breath. Here we go. The constant question is Bank or Credit Union. Debit Cards or Credit Cards. I do not think I can tell you which is best for you, a lot of thought, debating and education goes behind making this decision. Here is what I do know. Many larger banks are now charging to have accounts-even for the simple stuff like having teller's perform transactions, having a certain number of transactions per month, and using the bill payer service. Credit Unions however, often have no charges on the accounts the offer. Having accounts at both places I can tell you that my experience has always been better at Credit Unions. They are non-profit financial institutions. I have never been "sold" something and they do not make commission of the loan the give me. When I walking in the door I don't feel like they see dollar signs.

I am not going to go into the details of which place is better because honestly each has pros and cons. Do you homework and we can all save more money! This makes me want to spark a challenge. I know it is already March, but lets make a goal to save 5,000 this year. What are creative ways we can save money, cut back and live frugal fulfilling lives? Lets do it together!

Here is a link to get you started in your education, its a bit biased but what article isnt?

Happy Savings!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Free Books!

If you're anything like me you are actively opposing the kindle fad. I truly hate those things. In a country where the "green revolution" has been in full swing for many years, why are we created more e-waste, more wires, more computers, more everything? Why?

Ugh, Now on to the main event! I have heard people discussing at the library and school for some time now that websites exist that allow you to swap books for free with other willing swapers. Well, I'm here to tell you that is true! I am a big supporter of my local library, I can and do get lost in the rows of seemingly endless knowledge contained in those walls for hours, but lets face the facts. The library can only hold so many book and due to budget cuts the amount of new books are sure to be limited. That's where the internet can come in handy. This site allows you to type in the book(s) your looking for and presto, you find a willing person with the book you want and you give them a book they want! It kind of reminds me of pin pals in a way, only for books!

With money tight and stress high in our oh-so-thriving(not) economy make yourself a little goal to expand your knowledge, read out of your normal genre, and my favorite part-do it for free!
And in true library style you can get movies, music and games as well!

I have never tried this site before, but I have heard good reviews! Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring into action!

With spring technically here I can not wait until I can start planting my own fruits, vegetable, herbs and flowers. If you are just starting out let me give you some tips early on!

1) Save the seeds after you eat! - When you buy vegetables and fruits at the store-save the seeds! Store them in an air tight container such as a zip lock bag and label them until you are ready to plant them. If you buy one tomato, you will get plenty of seeds for your garden, this works for cucumbers, squash, nearly anything! This is something that few people think to do, but lets face - seeds in those cute little paper bags are the same thing you pay for many times a year when you are buying produce.

2) Shop early and thrifty! - I was recently at a local dollar store and to my surprise they had small, medium and large planters in a few different shapes for one dollar. At other stores you could pay five dollars per container. This is a deal!

3) Dirt is dirty work. - Potting soil is something that is rarely discounted to the point I want to spend money on it, but when it is stock up! Especially if you are going to be eating the items planted, splurge for the organic stuff. Why grow your own if you are going to do it the same way as the mass farmers of the world?

4) Plant herbs early and often! - I was at Target the other day and I was checking out the dollar spot and saw they had herbs with dirt and a tiny planter for one dollar. Now - in reality this probably is not a huge deal however, I bought some to experiment and they are growing after a few weeks. These can be started inside and then transplanted to an outdoor pot when needed. This way you can plant often and have fresh herbs all summer and fall.

New Walmart Coupon Policy!

Although there are several changes that you should review before heading to the store, my favorite one is that they now give cash back for coupon purchases!

Example-You have a coupon for $3.00 off of a product and they product is only $2.00. You get $1.00 back in cold hard cash, or you can apply it to your other purchases! Win Win!

Check it out here.

Happy Shopping!


Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!

I have always been aware of the "coupon world", and I have never really coup'd till recently. And let me tell you...I left Target with 5 bags of groceries and odd and ends, spending less then five bucks and I'm never going back to the store without coupons!

In my neck of the woods you can get a Sunday paper delivered to your doorstep for a dollar a week, and on average I save 20 bucks PER PAPER. Or, if you would rather not have the paper you can download from tons of websites and print what you need! I think that's worth it! When you want to get carried away like I have, you need to monitor sales, have reward cards which are almost always free and shop with a purpose! Every time I go to the grocery store it becomes my own little black Friday sale. People give me looks as I am gathering the right coupons and sorting through my cart to make sure I have all my ducks in a row before I get to the check out line. Then the magic happens, you watch the total go from 120.00 to 110.00 to 65.00!!!! That's when the stares change, and people ask you how you do it. I give them a little smirk and move on.

The key to really saving money is only buying what you will use. If you have a coupon for cereal and don't eat cereal...then don't buy it, duh! Another key is to buy in bulk, give up brand locality and stock up when on sale. I have always been a thrifty person so brands do not mean much to me. Trying new brands can expand you're horizon, and ya' know what? They are practically the identical items! So get ova' get!

So, I challenge you to cut your grocery bill in half! Why would you not want to spend 20 min on a Sunday morning drinking a cup of joe and saving money!? It may take you some time so start small, take 20 bucks off of your weekly shopping trip. you can do it! Have questions? Follow me and ask away! I will be starting to post recipes, coupon tip and more. Have something to add? Please, Im always up for saving money.

Happy Shopping!