Five Frugal for Friday

piggy-bankBy Liz

It has been a long and hectic summer and it has been awhile since I have posted some of our small frugal victories, so here are 5 money savers that I accomplished this week alone.

half-price-books-01half-price-books-02

1. Magazines and movies.  We are about to embark on a long overdue, summer vacation to the beach and what does one need when going to the beach… plenty of reading material.  I stopped in at my nearest Half Price Books store and scored magazines for everyone for a dollar each or less, and then, just because it was there, picked up the classic 80’s movie “Wall Street” for a whopping $2.00! I spent a total of $10.83 for all this; not bad considering just one of the cheapest of these magazines would have run me $4.99.




2. Cheap chicken.  Unfortunately, I did not take any pics of the chicken or the receipt showing my victory, but my local Aldi’s was having an unadvertised sale on their family packs of chicken drumsticks for $1.00 a package! (yup the whole package…not by the pound). Each package contained about 12 drumsticks. Unfortunately or fortunately, I only had room in my freezer for about 3 packages; otherwise I would have bought about 10 packages in total.

home-baked-bread

3. I baked a loaf of bread.  I love the smell of fresh baked bread in the house. Is there a candle fragrance of this yet?  Sunday dinner was a down home, “meat and potatoes” meal of meatloaf and my rosemary potatoes with a side of lemon green beans, so this “blue plate” classic was just screaming for a loaf of fresh baked bread to accompany the meal.

cold_flu-season

4. Cold and flu season. While everyone else is cashing in on those great back to school stock up items at rock bottom prices (yes…picked up a couple of things myself) the really great bargains I found was some discounted, over the counter cold and flu remedies.  Like everyone else, the common cold and flu hit us out of nowhere, and the last thing I want to do when I feel and look miserable, is to run out to the store to pick up some relief. So I try to be proactive, by at least having a handful of basic, over the counter help.

quiche-and-quick-bread

5. Quiche and quick bread.  Here in Fort Worth, it was hot this week.  How hot?…over 100 degrees hot and for several days.  I was trying to clean out my fridge of leftovers and realized I had all the key ingredients to whip up a fast quiche.  I chose to do this early Tuesday morning before it became “oven hot” in the house for the day and since I was going to be using my oven anyway, I decided to institute double duty and baked an apple, cinnamon quick bread while the quiche was cooking.

So there are my 5 frugal for this Friday.  Do you have any you would like to share?

 


Five Frugal for Friday

By Liz

With having a family of 7 plus 4 dogs, if I can score any frugal victories, no matter how small, I will take them. Summer and its unofficial start is upon us now and so are the uncomfortable high temperatures.  Unfortunately, here in Texas, there is no getting around it and it is officially air conditioning season for the next 5 months. Here are some of my frugal accomplishments this past week:

dog food

1. I made homemade dog food. I need to make a new batch about every 10 to 14 days. After I make a large batch in my slow cooker, it then gets bagged up into serving size portions for my pooches and stored in the fridge.

freezer-veggies

2. I accomplished some veggie freezer prep. The last time we were at the store we purchased large quantities of bell peppers, squash, broccoli and egg plant that we got at rock bottom prices. I brought them home, prepped and packaged them into portion sized bags and put them in the freezer for future uses.

garlic-bread

3. I made garlic bread. We had left over rolls from our Memorial Day cookout and I was running out of time to use them up before they went bad, so I turned them into garlic bread one night and used it as a side dish for the casserole I made for the evening.

packaged-quinoa

4. I made extra quinoa. As a side dish one evening, I made a large batch of quinoa and after it cooled, I portioned it out into sandwich bags and froze them to use for lunch bowls recipes over the next couple of weeks.

compost

5. I helped compost. My husband is the one with the green thumb in the family and he has asked me to start saving all of my vegetable refuse, egg shells and coffee grounds on a daily basis so he can use them as compost to help encourage healthy lawn growth.

So that was my frugal five for this week, I know that much of it centered in the kitchen and freezer prep…but hey…with a family of 7 and 4 dogs, I spend a lot of time in that one room keeping my brood happy and nourished.

What kind of many saving wins did you have this week?



Saving $500 or More in One Month

 

shopping cart

By Liz

Living on one income, there are certain times throughout the year that make me anxious.  For one reason or another, we hit those irregular bills and I watch our account dwindle a little to the point it makes me start to wonder if leaving the work force was the right decision.  So much so, that I usually start dusting off my resume and start looking at the job boards again.

My husband will tell you that I over react during these times and that he could set his watch by them.  Looking at our books, I know we are fine, but when we hover around or we go below that “cushion” number in our account, it starts to make me lose sleep.  We have always rebounded, and brought that “cushion” back up, but there is always the looming question…what if we don’t?

plug

Summer time is one of those times of the year that make me feel financially uneasy.  I guess it stands to reason with payouts that include; increased electric bills with more people being home during the day watching T.V., playing video games, charging laptops, phones, etc…not to mention the A/C running to cool the house down in the Texas heat. Our water bill goes up, due to watering the lawn, the garden, extra showers, and laundry;  our food bill increases with hungry boys and one girl in and out of the house all summer; and then there is summer vacation and we all know how expensive that can be.

water

Now believe me when I tell you, I have done what I can to economize in ALL of these areas.  The A/C is on an automatic timer and is at a reasonable setting; laundry only gets washed when there are full loads to be done; showers are timed; and there are some years we don’t take a summer vacation, we didn’t last year, and I have to tell you, this year it is much needed. That leaves me with our food budget and while not completely out of control for a family of 7 and 4 dogs, it could still use some trimming.

Our average monthly food budget is approximately $600 for 7 people and 4 dogs, that breaks down to roughly $6.75 per person, per meal. Some would say this is to high, some will say that is low. Personally, I think it is too high and I want to start cutting back in this area in order to help reach some financial goals.



This past winter, I instituted “no spenduary” during the month of February.  After the holidays, I took inventory of our pantry, freezers and fridges and did a little bit of stocking up on staples that we plow through, things like potatoes, flour, sugar, coffee, pasta, rice, etc… Also, during the month of January if I saw rock bottom prices on meat, chicken or fish, I bought an extra pack or two then during the month of February, I did not do any grocery shopping.  We made do with what we already had in our inventory.  I did give myself a very small cash budget for the month to purchase some perishables such as milk, eggs and some fresh produce like lettuce, onions, bananas (since these things don’ t keep well for an entire month), but there were no large hauls, no overspending and in fact we wound up saving about $300 that month.

With summer just about to start, and having that “irky” feeling about our account again, I have decided to take the same action and I am instituting penny pinching June in our house. I have gone through our inventory, and have concluded that minus those perishables we have more than enough in our stash to make it through the month of June.  I am also giving myself a VERY strict, cash budget of only $80 to buy perishables for the month (crazy…right?).

beans

Now you might be thinking that, I will be feeding my family a steady stream of rice and beans, peanut butter and jelly, eggs made up, six ways to Sunday, but I want to be able to show that with a little creativity, we will have a variety of menu options by making do with what we already have on hand.  For the next 4 Mondays, my entries will be about my accountability and what we are eating and how far I can make that $80 stretch.

 

money

My goal is to be able to save $500 for the month of June.  This may not seem like a lot in today’s economy for a family of 7, but just like in February, I found myself and the rest of my family trying to save and economize in other ways as well, such as using the library more, car pooling with each other or friends, not buying that much “wanted” new video game (obviously, that one was for the kids), finding free or low cost entertainment, ditching the sodas for water, finding the locations for the lowest gas prices, etc.. It did my heart proud as the family followed my lead and took their own initiative to save some of their hard earned cash.

I know there are going to be times that myself or a family member will have a craving for some fast food or take out, or I will be tempted to pick up that amazing deal at the store when I walk in with my tiny amount of cash, earmarked for only the few perishables I will need and I will want to give in and take out my credit card, but I am hoping my resolve will be strong. In fact, I will be leaving the credit card at home. So follow me on my penny pinching June journey and see if my goal is truly reachable.



Five Frugal for Friday

By Liz

Did you ever have those times when you felt like you were in a fog, and it lasted for a long time?  That was us this week.    At the beginning of the week, I got to meet up with an old friend for lunch and that was great. However, the rest of the week just seemed to have a heaviness to it that felt like it just would not go away which made the week seem endless, but thankfully it is now Friday and the weekend is upon us.

Here are my 5 frugal accomplishments for this week:

1. We flipped a car. This accomplishment was not intentional. We had purchased a used, “first car” to help a close relative over a year ago. At the time, they could not afford the car out right, and was considering a loan with a very high interest rate.  We were in the position to help out by purchasing the car in full, and the arrangements were, they were to pay us monthly, for the cost of the car (no interest or fees) until the car was paid for.  Unfortunately, that did not work out, so my wonderful, more than handy, mechanically inclined husband, did some minor repairs, buffed out scratches and touched up paint, detailed the car top to bottom and we flipped it for a profit that will pay for our summer vacation this year.

2. I made Saturday morning pastry. I always treat my family to some kind of pastry on Saturday morning, whether it is bakery bought donuts, bagels, or pan dulce. However, some Saturdays if the conditions are right and the motivation is there, I will bake. This past Saturday, I made both strawberry and cheese Danish.

 

3. I made bread crumbs. We seemed to have a variety of breads with our meals last week. We had sourdough, Italian, baguette, and pita ends and pieces sitting in bags on top of the fridge. So I took all of them and dried them out in the oven and ran them through the food processor.  It yielded me almost 2 cups of crumbs, which I then used to make a double batch of meatballs.

 

4. I made a batch of homemade pesto. We love pesto in our house. We use it on pasta, sandwiches and on meat, fish and some vegetables.  Our micro garden is in full bloom, so I used the basil from our garden to make a batch of pesto sauce. Making pesto does require a lot of basil and we only have to planters in our garden, so I basically wiped out our crop, but I am hopeful the plants will regenerate.


5. I gave myself an overdue pedicure.  I do my own pedicures at home every 2 weeks, keeping my toes looking fresh, however time got away from me this month and I had finally reconciled that I had the time to do it.  I set up shop on my back patio, with my pedicure kit, a book and a very large, icy glass of sparkling water and spent an hour of pampering time.

So those are some of the ways I saved some money this week. How were you able to save some of your hard earned cash this week?



Affording to “Pay it Forward”

help

By Liz

My life and circumstances have not always been easy and like most people I have had struggles and hardships at different times in my life.  However, whether the strain was emotional, physical or financial I have always known that I have been blessed.

You see, like you, I have been chosen to be a child of God and He has given me the greatest gift of all: free will to choose him as my God, my Father and my Creator, so I have always felt the desire to give back and to help others, after all, it is what we were created to do.

donation

But what happens if you feel like you can’t afford to give back?  Society has perpetuated a notion that, “giving back” has a monetary value to it and only by this avenue alone will we make a difference. This is entirely untrue for both the giver and the receiver. Giving of one’s time is just as valuable as money, if not more so.

We have all seen and heard ads for the conglomerate types of charities asking you to give financially; tugging on our heart strings making us feel guilty if we don’t whip out your checkbook at that very moment to help their cause. Now, I am not trying to bash some of these worthwhile causes, many of them do much needed research and work and many use the funds wisely and efficiently, however some larger and well known charities are operating on a “for profit” budget, so a large portion of our dollars that we donate go to paying their sometimes hefty salaries and go to throwing large, garish parties to bring in even more profit.

When I left the corporate world, it didn’t take me long to feel the restlessness of extra time on my hands. Don’t get me wrong, managing a household of 7 people and 4 dogs takes up a lot of time, but unlike before, when I did not have the time to donate physical time for a cause or charity that was close to my heart, I now found myself in a position to do so.

The question before me was: with so many needs for local volunteers and charities how did I want to make a difference? I started to investigate some of my local organizations that were looking for help. I had approached this as if I were researching a large purchase for my home.  I felt deep down, if the cause did not resonate with me, then both myself and the organization were not going to benefit.




I was not having any luck with my search, until one day after Sunday services I mentioned to my priest my dilemma. He actually pointed me in the direction of one of the community’s food pantries. Later that week, I gave them a call and they were more than happy to have me come and help out. They had told me that if I wanted, I could volunteer a few times to see if it was going to be something I would want to continue doing before they added me to their permanent roster.  I went and volunteered for an afternoon shift of 3 hours of work in the back room of the pantry, packing up food for families in need. My fellow team mates were in their retirement years and older, and at first I thought this was not going to be a good match for me, but when the 3 hours were over, I had really enjoyed the work and the people enough to come back and do it again. I am happy to say, that I have been volunteering at this food pantry with the same great group of folks a few times a month for the past 3 years and I genuinely   look forward to each time it is my turn to help out.

So while we as a family do tithe to our church on a weekly basis, we have also given back in ways that may not be considered when thinking of charity.  Some examples of how we and you can give back without making a huge impact on your wallet and making the “for profit” charity organizations wealthier:

1.We have donated clothes, household items and furniture to Goodwill or Salvation Army that we no longer want or use.

2.We have donated old blankets, towels and a bag or two of cat or dog food to the local animal shelter.

3.We have purchased an extra bag or two of groceries for some of our neighbors that had fallen on hard financial times.

4.We have made extra batches of food or cookies for family, friends and neighbors that have had suffered a loss.

homeless5.We have collected items such as toiletries, socks and blankets over a year’s time and donated them all in one shot to the local shelters.

6.We have volunteered at charity walks and 5-K runs as staff members that pass out water or food, help people sign in and other organizational tasks.

7.We have given bottles of water, cups of coffee and bought lunches for people who were in obvious need as we passed them while we are out and about.

8.We have helped seniors play bingo at a retirement home.

9.We have read to children at “story times” at libraries and schools.

10.We have packed backpacks full of supplies for kids going back to school.

volunteer

 

Some have argued that giving back is purely a selfish act, that it makes one feel better about oneself or that they are waiting for a glorified pat on the back. Giving back is rewarding, I believe that Jesus gave of himself to us, over and over again and I have come to realize I have been blessed in so many aspects in my life; whether it be my health, my family and friends, the comforts and necessities that help me sustain my life, my intelligence, my patience and compassion, and the list of blessings and gifts that have been bestowed upon me goes on and on.  I am grateful and happy that I have the luxury to “give back” and I gladly look forward to doing and giving more of my time and efforts for many years to come.




Five Frugal Friday

piggy-bank

By Liz

This was an odd week here; the weather took on a very bi-polar tone.  The beginning of the week we saw severe storms with tennis ball size hail, mid week we pushed a 90 degree, muggy day, then the next day the weather was cloudy and we did not break the 60 degree mark. The household seemed to be in tune with the weather as well, the week went by pretty quickly, although it felt like I did not do much or get much accomplished.

Well despite the instability of the week, I still managed to do 5 frugal things before Friday:

books

1. I  went to the library and checked out a book “The Color Purple”, by Alice Walker and the movie.  I finished the book and was able to find time to re-watch this wonderful movie. (Maybe this is part of the reason I did not get much accomplished this week).

cake-mix

2. My husband came home from the grocery store with 4 boxes of discounted Ghiradelli, dark chocolate, cake mix. They had been marked down to 75 cents each.  So I pulled up my recipe for 3 ingredient muffins and used one of the mixes to make a batch.

sophie

3. As much as she hates, it; I hate it even more….I trimmed my dog, Sophie’s nails instead of taking her to the groomer to do it.  Sophie has black nails, so it is really hard to see the quick and I am always afraid I am going to cut her.

nail-bag

4. Gave myself a pedicure.  Every 2 to 3 weeks (depending on how long the color lasts), I make a fresh cup of coffee, (sometimes have a glass of wine) put on a movie, and get my nail bag out and settle in to pamper my toes.

money

5. I had managed to come under my cash budget for groceries. I still had a whopping $17.00 to spare.  I know this does not sound like much, but whenever this happens, the remaining cash goes into our “secondary house fund”.  Scoff all you want but, it adds up over time.

So that is my fiver for the week, what did yours look like?