Snow falling, blanketing the Spruce tree the kids and I planted years ago, a fire in the antique stove, bread baking, a feeling of contentment.
I spent the morning making bread and brownies, making frugal homemade versions of rice-a-roni, and hamburger helper, six in all, for frugal meals in the weeks ahead.
I wrote out a menu for the week, using things in the freezer and well-stocked pantry.
I listened to CD's that my son made for me.
The stereo system is 15 years old, but still sounds great.
Finding contentment with the things I have, and being able to live frugally is not drudgery. Attitude makes all the difference.
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Snow falling, blanketing the Spruce tree the kids and I planted years ago, a fire in the antique stove, bread baking, a feeling of contentment.
This is the second no-spend day in a row.
It is a cold rather gray day--a good day to stay home, by the fire.
Tonight, we will have "breakfast" for dinner. I have a lot of (sale) ham, eggs, and homemade oatmeal bread for toast. To me, it is "comfort" food, and is also appealing because it is so easy to prepare.
My change is adding up, and I should be able to deposit another $50.00 in my ING account next week. I'm getting about $50.00 a month interest there, so that is helping the emergency fund.
Does anyone know how much aluminum cans bring, per pound, these days? DS has a lot of them to give me to recycle.
I said I wasn't going to purchase any food this month, but absolute necessities, and eat what is in the freezer and pantry, but I didn't stick to that resolution. Two stores had great loss leaders, that we could use, so I bought four packages of sausage links for a dollar each, a spiral cut ham, for a dollar a pound, and four boxes of Kellogg's Raisin Bran for a dollar each. The boxes had coupons for a free movie, and with those four coupons, and one I already had, I sent off for the movie for the little guys.
The ham will make numerous meals, as well as ham and bean soup, and the sausage will be used with eggs or pancakes for "breakfast for dinner", so the $16.00 investment will go a long way, and provide many meals, so I don't feel guilty. DS gave me money to get some coke for him, and Walgreens has a rebate, so I went there for the Coke. They had a big sign in the entry that four cartons of Coke would cost only $6.00 after a $5.00 rebate, so I went to the shelves to get four 12-packs. The sign on the shelf said
Three for $11.00 or $3.99 each. So I talked to the manager, and said that his sign does not compute with the prices on the shelves, so he charged me $11.00 for the four cartons, instead of three. Glade refills were BOGO and had a $1.00 off coupon, and a $2.00 rebate, so I got those too. With the extra 10 per cent when you choose a Walgreens' gift card, I will get $7.70 back. Not a bad day of shopping.
Yesterday, we had to make an emergency visit to the vet, resulting in a $108.00 bill, including the antibiotic. That was certainly an unplanned for expense, but the dog is certainly worth it.
Today, I went to Sam's to pick up one item, and saw some great shoes on sale. I tried them on, put them in the cart, and then asked myself if I REALLY needed them, and put them back. They were great shoes though. They even sell Clark's there now.
Oh well, I don't have $26.47 less in my checking account since I didn't make the "impulse" buy.
After reading an entry about calling "Direct TV" and asking them if they can reduce the monthly fee for "customer retention", I figured it can't hurt to ask. I didn't get as good a deal, but they did reduce my monthly fee by ten dollars. That's $120.00 a year saved, so I am grateful for the advice. Thanks!
Grey skies, snow softly falling, a vanilla scented candle burning, a good day to cook and prepare food for the cold days ahead.
I have boneless pork ribs and barbecue sauce in the crock pot, and on the stove, a double batch of homemade spaghetti sauce is simmering. Later, I will make a two pans of lasagna, one for tonight, and one for the freezer. Half of the spaghetti sauce will go in the freezer, too. Tomorrow, we will have shredded pork sandwiches on baguettes.
Deciding to eat what is in the freezer, and not shop has been both an adventure, and has added to savings.
I just got my gas/electric bill for a 37 day period. It covers my house and my mother's house.
It was $480.00 and change! I am not happy!!! I keep the heat at 68 for 12 hours a day and 60 for 12 hours a day. I turn lights out, don't have the TV on during the day, and use the dryer only when the weather is too bad to hang laundry outside.
I had company, including small children for about two weeks, and had to turn the heat up, so that is part of the problem, but that is an obscene bill! Part of the time, we used the wood stove to supplement heat.
I got another bill for sewer assessment, that is already $172.00 a quarter, stating there will be a 12 % increase this year, and at least 11% increase next year.
On the news, I heard that the governor's task force wants an additional $100.00 a year vehicle registration fee, on top of already very high rates. They also recommended a 13 cent a gallon increase in tax on gasoline. Yikes! It is a good thing I am being frugal. If I wasn't I would be up the proverbial creek!
I went to Wal-Mart to get a couple ingredients for lasagna, and decided to use a couple coupons I had. One was for $8.00 off on a seven pound bag of Iams Natural dog food. It cost $7.00, and they deducted the $8.00, so they paid me a dollar to take it home! I saved a total of $13,40 and paid $9.68 for the dog food, four 13.5 oz. bottles of Pert shampoo,(the ONLY kind DH will use) and four cans of Campbell's soup.
It's a good day when you save more than you spend.
Last week all I spent was $7.00 on milk!
Eating out of the pantry and freezer is great. We ate very well, (pork roast and rice, homemade pizza, baked chicken with homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy, fajitas, with homemade tortillas, hamburgers and homemade mac and cheese, quiche and round steak). The money in the food envelope for last week will go into savings.
Next week, I will have to purchase ricotta cheese for lasagna, but that is all. This is working out well.
DH even caught some fish, ice fishing, so we will have fish for dinner tonight.
I decided to ruthlessly chop $300.00 a month out of my already low household account expenses. I even went to my ING account, and entered the $300.00 as a transfer to take place on 1/31/08. That will motivate me to make sure the money is available!
I have made up weekly menus, using what is available in the freezer and pantry, and have vowed that I will not shop for anything but absolute essentials. Now, barring Murphy showing up at the door, I will add a few hundred to savings. If this works, I will try again next month for a repeat performance.
The good news is that my husband's missing hearing aids (he's not old, just hard of hearing--he wants that made clear!) showed up after a two week hiatus. They got scooped up into a Christmas light box, along with the bulb protectors for the large, colored, bulbs. When we took down the lights today, and dumped the light protectors on the kitchen counter,to place them back on the lights, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but the missing hearing aids! Those little guys cost a total of four grand, so they were SUCH a welcome sight. My vow to become more organized was certainly fortuitous. Normally, I would have tossed the empty boxes in the trash, and piled the lights in a corner of the basement, never to see the hearing aids again. Life is good!
I have been thinking of ways to save small amounts of money, by doing things that take a little effort, but save money in the long run.
This morning, I skinned and de-boned chicken breasts,that cost $1.00 a pound, instead of buy boneless, skinless breasts that cost significantly more.
I dug out leftover turkey gravy from the freezer, and thawed it out for dinner.
I peeled potatoes that were not exactly looking pristine, and were a little shriveled, but still good. Before I found my resolve to save, I would have thrown them away.
I have a plastic tub of dishwasher detergent under the sink. Some moisture had gotten into it, and formed large, hard chunks. I would have thrown it away, at one time in my life, but I got out a wooden mallet and crushed the chunks. It is now usable, and I won't have to buy more for at least three weeks.
It was two degrees this morning, the furnace has been working overtime. I decided to start a fire in the antique wood stove. I'm burning old, rotting fence posts from our property, so there was no extra cost involved. DH cut them up this fall, but I've been lax in bringing them to the house, and keeping a fire going.
Seems like there are lots of little ways to save, if one just makes the effort.
What are some of the things you do to save?
I have a notebook that I use to log in the balance in my IRA. I'm fairly consistent about entering the date and the balance. I rolled over my retirement account, when I quit my job six years ago. I was burned out and decided to take six months off. I did so well, being frugal, that I have not gone back to work. I have not added a dime to my IRA. I have a modest savings account with ING, and add to it a little at a time, when I can.
Today, I added up the increase in my mutual funds from the last day of Dec. 2006 to the last day of December 2007, and the increase in my ING account.
I was amazed, and totally surprised that the two accounts have increased $48,976.74! It was a great year, and I didn't even know it.
I think we get blindsided by all of the doom and gloom we hear from the news media, and believe we are worse off every year. Not true. I am not working with a lot of money, about $2300.00 a month, in the household account, from my DH's income. I never made more than $47,000. a year at my job, and it was a professional position. Even though I get off track from time to time, and spend too much on family gifts, etc., my net worth is increasing at a rate that I find amazing.
Watching the small expenses really does make a huge difference over the long haul.
This really makes me want to stay focused and keep on being frugal.
I am starting out the new year, by trying to get organized in the kitchen.
I have planned a week's menu, using what is on hand, made six half-pints of pizza sauce, and made a chocolate pie using chocolate milk that was on "borrowed time". DH bought it on Christmas eve for the little ones, and there was quite a bit left. I planned to make a chocolate pie for dinner, so I used the chocolate milk, instead or regular milk, and it tastes great. Saved it from being tossed.
I have resolved to label and date anything that goes into the freezer, this year. I just threw away two containers of "mystery food". I am hoping to avoid "refrigerator surprise" too. Getting organized will save a lot of money, when it comes to cooking.
Tonight, we will have homemade pizza, with homemade sauce, and I have five more containers of sauce in the freezer for the future. Chocolate-chocolate pie with whipped cream, left over from Christmas, will be dessert. Not exactly low cal, but I lost 13 pounds this fall, and have kept it off, so I will "splurge" on calories tonight!
Happy New Year everyone!
The north wind doth blow! And, the snow we have had piled up has drifted over the long driveway, making it difficult for my little car to get me to where I need to go.
I am going to the credit union to deposit a Pinecone check, and fifty dollars in change. The money will be added to my ING account today. Not much, but after Christmas spending, every little bit helps.
My resolve for 2008 is to save at least $500.00 a month. It might not happen in January, because I have another credit card bill coming for Christmas spending. However, in February, I will have no excuse not to save. I hope to post regularly, and maybe this will keep me on track.
Eating out of the well stocked freezer and pantry will be another goal. Don't care if it is on sale, I will not keep buying food to put in an already full freezer.
Resolve!!! I need to stay focused.
Happy New Year!
Yesterday, I read an entry about shopping on line, and not being impulsive. Being impulsive is one of my problems, when it comes to finding a "bargain".
I got a gift certificate for Amazon.com for Christmas, and decided to look at their clearance items. Well, there were hundreds of great items, at great prices, and I put about three hundred dollars worth in the "shopping cart". In the past, I would have spent three times, what my gift certificate would have paid for. After all, they were "bargains" and at great prices!!!
Well, I remembered the advise in the entry, and decided to "sleep on it". In the morning, nothing seemed like such a great idea, and I will not order any of the things that I wanted, but didn't need!
I have two family members with January birthdays. For the adult, I ordered two magazine subscriptions through
MagazinePriceSearch.com. They have great prices, and coupons to make the prices even better. I know the subscriptions will be appreciated all year long, and that he will be glad he isn't getting any more "stuff" right after all of the "stuff" he got for Christmas.
Can't believe that I haven't blogged since October. Anyway, I'm back and hope to get back to being frugal as well!
Christmas took a big bite out of my finances, because we have a big family to buy for. I did learn that the most appreciated gifts were homemade, and "from the heart".
I wanted to save five thousand dollars, and not create any more credit card debt, and I did reach that goal. I used the credit card for Christmas gifts, but I paid off the bill I just received, and should be able to pay off the couple hundred that will show up on the January bill.
I am glad Christmas is behind us, and looking forward to getting back on track and increasing savings, and decreasing spending!
Happy New Year from snowy Colorado!
It has been a while since I've posted, and maybe that has something to do with the fact that I have lost focus regarding frugal living.
I have not been doing as well as I should, and have not been saving as much as I had hoped. I haven't been out of control, but I really have not been following the budget, and have used my credit card, when it wasn't necessary. Shopping on line, and eBay purchases have made a dent, and I purchased a few Christmas gifts, that were more expensive than I had budgeted for.
I hope this realization that I was not controlling my spending will be a wake up call, and will get me back on track.
How does one keep on being frugal month after month, without "falling off the wagon"?
Goodwill is having a 50% off sale, and a 99 cent sale on all kids clothing and all jeans today.
I had purchased two like-new dust ruffles, made by "Country Curtains" there, two weeks ago, at a sale, but didn't get the matching curtains. I looked up the dust ruffles on line, and they were $129.00 each! I paid $2.00 each.
So, I decided that if the curtains were still there I would get them. They were. I did!
I looked around in the store for about an hour, and also found four great Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie shirts for DH and four pair of jeans for myself.
What impressed me most, in the store, was a young mom, with three children between the ages of about seven and eleven. She was such a great mom, her children were all so well behaved, and were helpful to each other, while looking for school clothes.
The older girl couldn't find anything that fit, at first, and her mom said, in a very sweet way, "Don't you worry, now, we'll find something for you".
Well, they checked out just before I did, and had piles of cute clothing, a new pair of leather shoes for the little boy, and some jeans for the mom, too. They ended up with many large bags of clothing, and she paid cash for it. The grand total, including tax, was $49.00, and she had outfitted her kids for school. I was very impressed with how the 11 year old would show an article of clothing to her mother and mom would say, "No, that is not appropriate", or "Yes, that is really cute". No whining, no begging, no tantrums, just great kids, and a great mom, who obviously knows the value of a dollar!
It made my day.
There was bad news and there was good news. The bad outweighed the good by about $2500. but at least we are no longer in arrears on income tax.
We had taxes for 2005 and 2006 done, this week, and will owe $4500. for 2004, not counting a 25% penalty and interest, but will get back $3100. for 2006, so it isn't as bad as we expected. We sold a house in 2005, and sent in ten grand for capital gains, as we were told that should cover it. We also filed an extension, but didn't get it in on time. The tax accountant, who told us it would be about ten thousand, in the beginning, later said we would owe about eight thousand more! Yikes! That was scary, so the $4,500. didn't seem as bad. With the refund for 2006, we won't have to come up with as much as we thought, so it is kind of a relief.
Pay your taxes on time, seems to be the moral of the story!
We will be billed for the penalty and interest in about ten weeks, so I'd better start saving now!
Got a rebate check from Advil, for $5.59. I purchased the Advil with a $2.00 off coupon, so I got it free, and then a little extra back.
Ordered three free hardback books from a freebie site, and will use them as a Christmas present for my brother and SIL.
Ordered free item from Hanes, and a free cookie sampler valued at six dollars.
I also received issues of three FREE one-year magazine subscriptions. All very nice magazines, esp. "Antiques" magazine. The other two are "Boating Life" and "Horse Illustrated"
Before I started reading frugal sites, I had no idea these offers existed!
Thanks to those who shared the info!
Today, at Kroger, I got six boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, two gallons of Viva milk, and four packages of Oscar Meyer weiners and the grand total was $2.00!
I added up the regular prices and it came to $39.08.
The Cheerios are on sale for 3/5, and there are coupons above the display for a dollar off on two boxes, so I used three. Then, I had Catalina coupons for two gallons of free milk with the purchase of six boxes of General Mills products. Lastly, the hot dogs are a loss leader for .99 a pkg.
This is the best I have ever done at the grocery store. The Catalina coupon is good for up to $9.00, and for some reason, they took that amount off the total, although the milk was actually a little less.
So $37.08 goes into savings!
DH bought a new lawn mower on Sunday. Today it was on sale for $30.00 less. There was a time when I would have said, "That figures" and let it go. However, I called and asked if they had a policy whereby they would refund the difference if an item went on sale within 30 days of purchase. They said, they do, and to bring in the receipt. Saved $32.00, including tax.
The moral of the story is, it doesn't hurt to ask!
That was not a misprint, we are finally getting our 2005 taxes ready to file. Still didn't do 2006 taxes either, but do have an extension for those.
I have been asking my DH for months to get the tax paperwork together. He has a full time job, in addition to consulting income, and we sold a house in Dec. 2005, so had to pay capital gains. We sent in a check that will cover the taxes, but they don't take kindly to being that far behind! I have gotten a nasty phone call from the IRS. Now,I know why Dave Ramsey calls them the KGB! The woman was really rude and, pardon the expression, snotty!
On a lighter note, I saved $51.34 on groceries this morning, and spent only $19.25. The main savings was on six boxes of cheerios, on sale with three dollars off,in coupons, and a manufacturer's coupon for two free gallons of milk. They even let me get organic milk! It was seven dollars for all. Everything I purchased was on sale, or on clearance, including pork ribs,beans, toothpaste, ice cream, and veggies. It still amazes me how much one can save on loss leaders, esp. combined with coupons.
I saved 62 per cent at King Soopers (Kroger) today. They have three boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios on sale for 3/$5.00, and have coupons nearby for $1.00 off two boxes. If you purchase three, you get a FREE gallon of milk.
When I paid my $4.00 for the three boxes and the gallon of milk, a coupon was presented with the receipt. It was for the same deal, and allows you to purchase double the amount and get two free gallons of milk. (The in-store limit was one deal per customer), so next Tuesday, I will purchase six boxes, use three $1.00 off, in-store coupons, and get two gallons of milk free. It will cost me
$7.00 for all six boxes of cereal and two gallons of milk! Love those loss leaders!
More money toward the challenge!
I hung four loads of laundry on the lines, ironed four of DH's shirts, and made Shepherd's pie, for dinner, from leftovers. I figure all that should be worth at least ten dollars.
It was 50% off, day at Goodwill, and all jeans were 99 cents. I got three great pair for myslef. All great, expensive brands. I also got two more dress shirts for DH. Both were Ralph Lauren, and they were both like new. They were $2.50 each! It has been a very productive, and frugal day.
This morning, I was thinking about all of the small things I have done to get out of debt.
Many seem trivial, but the combination of efforts add up to substantial savings.
We all want a quick fix, and that is not likely to happen. We are not going to win the lottery! We just need to chip away at debt a little at a time.
Of course, not getting into debt in the first place would be the way to go, but most of us aren't that talented.
I started tackling the debt by using the envelope system. At first, I had an envelope for every expense from food, to license plates. Now I use the envelope system for food only. I am disciplined enough to keep money for everything but food in my ING account, and I transfer money to pay property tax, etc. when needed. I prefer using cash for food, because it deters one from impulse buying. If I have a set amount in an envelope, I need to use it for needed food, not junk food, that is a want, not a need. I purposely set the amount in the envelopes low, to challenge myslef to find the best buys available.
I will shop at more than one store if there are great loss leaders any given week. I stock up when there is a great sale. I have a very well stocked pantry and freezer, so my weekly spending is kept fairly low. I spend between $125 and $175.00 a month for food. I feed three adults dinner every night, and two for breakfast and lunch.
I make my own cleaning products, including window/all purpose cleaner, shower spray, laundry stain pre-treatment and laundry detergent.
I make all meals from scratch, and we eat well. Most of what we eat is purchased on sale or at the best price available.
Furniture and household items have been purchased used. Many are antiques that we have purchased at auctions. We buy the best quality that we can afford, and by buying used, we can get great quality hardwood furniture that will not go down in value. You can buy a piece of furniture at Wal-Mart, for $100.00, but it will be made of particle board, and will fall apart with normal use. For that same $100.00, you can purchase a good piece of furniture at a yard sale or an auction that has lasted for years, so you know it will withstand daily use. Also, when you want to upgrade, you can probably get what you paid for it when you sell it.
I shop at Goodwill and thrift stores for high quality clothing at very low prices.
I see Abercrombie, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. every time I go to Goodwill. Many look new, and I've seen designer clothing with the original tags. Baby clothes are always 50 cents at our Goodwill. I have purchased many items with the original tags. One was priced $26.00! Lots of people get so many gifts in the same newborn sizes, the baby never gets to wear them, so they get taken to Goodwill, for people like me to buy for fifty cents! Yard sales also offer great sources for nice, gently worn clothing, but I prefer thrift stores, so I don't have to spend a lot of time driving around.
Recent books, as well as wonderful vintage books can be purchased for pennies on the dollar at thrift stores, and yard sales,if you like to collect books, otherwise there is the library.
There are numerous free activities available in most towns. Check the local newspapers for ideas.
I started all of these activities to free up money, to get out of debt. I did it!
Will I go back to my spendthrift ways? No way! I'm having too much fun and living too well to slip back into my old ways.
It is great watching my personal "wealth" grow, now that my money isn't going toward debt.
This morning, I went to Goodwill and found a few great things. I got DH a like-new Ralph Lauren dress shirt, and got youngest DD two RL t-shirts. I'm not a Ralph Lauren snob, but when the choices are Wal-Mart or RL, for the same price, it is a no-brainer.
I did laundry, with homemade detergent, and hung it on the lines. I am feeling virtuous!
I remember the days when I used to pull out the credit cards at stores like Macys and Dillards, and then groan when the bills came.
Life is definitely better now!
We went to Bozeman, MT for a three day weekend, and it ended up costing about $900.00. Yikes! Two hundred, was a charge for prossessing an elk my husband shot last fall, and couldn't pick up until last weekend. The meat went to kid # four, and his family. Three hundred was for diesel fuel for the pickup truck. Over two hundred was for a motel, and that was with a discount. Bozeman is a VERY expensive town, but very beautiful. The remaining money was spent on taking out # four and his family for five meals. They have expensive taste, when dear dad is paying! It was fun, and we don't get to see them very often, so it was an investment in "bonding" with their little one. Now, it is back to reality, budgeting, and eating out of the freezer!
There are some great deals at the grocery store this week, because of the Memorial Day weekend.
I saved $40.05 at Albertson's, and spent $26.70 , so I will add the $40.05 to my challenge money.
We are going to stay home this weekend, and fire up the grill. With a great yard, and porch so sit on, to view the mountains, I would rather avoid the traffic and the high gas prices.
For everyone who is traveling, may you be safe, and have a great holiday weekend!
Today, I made laundry detergent, and shower spray. It was so easy, and inexpensive, after the initial purchase for the ingredients. The shower spray recipe came from Denise, in Pennywise Meanderings, and the detergent recipe is easily found on lots of sites. The detergent recipe is supposed to average one-cent a load. Can't beat that price.
My ING account is increasing, and it is great seeing the interest increase too. I am more than half way to my savings goal for the year, which is pretty much on target.
DH has had a bad week, however. Yesterday, he accidentally put unleaded gas in his diesel truck, and that cost $400.00 to remedy! Then, he had a root canal which cost $800.00. I told him he is a "high maintenance man". Next comes another root canal, and two crowns. Yikes!
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