Thursday, March 1, 2012

Frugal Skills Needed

Frugal Skills Needed

As I talked about last week, many times I spend a lot of time reading about frugality but little time actually participating in the act of frugality.  Thursdays will be my day to post about my weekly frugal skill that I acquired for that week.  I will not be posting about hanging laundry, making yogurt, or baking my tasty French loaf.  Why you may ask?  I have already been doing these things.  I ask that you join me on this little adventure.

This week's skill was supposed to be hemming my beloved jean find at my local thrift store.  Oh, how I wanted to be able to wear these for date night, but alas it wasn't meant to be.  See, I co-own a daycare and each year we pay $945.00 for a very nice accountant to do our taxes.  The thing about owning a daycare in a recession is that it doesn't matter how good you are if people don't have jobs you don't have clients.  Our numbers are low but climbing (yea!), but needless to say, we do not have $945.00 extra dollars sitting around. This week I will be attempting to do our taxes.  I have started but just need to finish today.

What have I learned about frugal tax preparation?  You really need to categorize each expense correctly, and it really isn't as intimidating as I once thought.  Of course, it helps that I have a professional's example to follow from last year.  

Let me know what new skill you acquired this week.  Leave a link back to your website using the link below.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monday Menu

B: Oatmeal w/ Brown Sugar
S: Taco Salad

B: Eggs and Toast
S: Deer Steak/ Broccoli/ Mashed Potatoes/Rolls

B: Cinnamon Toast w/ Juice
S: Poppy Chicken/ Rice/ green beans

B: Granola w/ Milk
S: Spaghetti w/ meatballs/ salad/ french bread

B: Muffins
S: Puffy Pancake 

B: Eggs/ Grits
S: Pinto Beans/ Greens/ Carrots

B: Muffins
S: Burgers/ French Fries

I am not happy with my breakfast choices but quick and easy are needed for this week.  Hoping your week is not as hectic as mine.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

You may have thought that I have given up this blog.  That is not the case.  I simply have put into practice the many frugal practices I read about on the internet.

Have you ever found yourself reading blog after blog on frugal practices and said to yourself I just do not have time for that?  That man or woman has too much time on their hands if they are making their own yogurt and bread, repairing clothes, or cooking dinner from scratch.  I found myself saying that more and more and so I decided to do an audit of my time.  I found that I had the same twenty-four hours as everyone else.  What did you just say?  Yes.  I have the same amount of time as you do.

I found that I spent a lot of time reading about frugality but not actually taking the time to practice what I was learning.  The last two weeks I have spent time learning some of those frugal skills.  For instance, I made a copy of Cinnabon rolls after lusting after them at a local restaurant.  Those rolls were worth every fattening calorie.  I plugged holes in our personal finances.  I have tagged and taken clothes to a local children's consignment shop even though I detest that chore.  What I have come to realize is that action is sometimes better than reading?  You sometimes get greater results from activity than passive learning.

I would like to challenge you to take on a new skill each week.  Try and work outside your comfort zone.  I will hopefully post a linky on next Thursday's post so that we can all learn from each other.  Let's not simply talk about frugality but walk the walk as they say.

Next week I will attempt to hem a pair of blue jeans I absolutely love but are too long.  I tried them on at the thrift store and am dying to wear them.  After this next consignment sale take-in on Saturday, I will have time free next Wednesday to try hemming the pants.  Wish me luck! ;-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Frugal Friday

I am on a frugal fast so I ran to Costco to pick up brown sugar, FiberOne cereal for toddler, preserves to put in homemade yogurt, and milk.  Now I am on a cooking frenzy to make applesauce, french toast, and brownies for my kids' dessert for date night.  The applesauce will be used for oil in baked goods since I am running low.  Strategic planning is keeping my frugality in check this month.

That being said I had to give you the recipe to the most awesome muffins.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Sift dry ingredients.  Add the following:

2 large eggs
1. c. sweet potato ( I used the leftovers from when the kids' wouldn't eat their sweet potato one night.  It had a cinnamon sugar mixture added with butter)
1/2 c. coconut oil

Mix well.  You may need to add a little water at this stage to make them more like muffin batter.

Mix in 1 c. chocolate chips.

Oh, my.  These were delicious and I would have to say pretty healthy.  They made approximately 15 muffins.

Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes.

I am trying to eliminate waste in our house so we are pretty much using only what we have.  I am having to add things to make a menu plan but overall this month I have easily spent under a hundred dollars for six people.  I know its only the 9th but this is much lower than it should be since we ate out of our stockpile last month.  The fridge and freezer look mighty empty but I have meal ideas for what we have on hand.  Check by Monday to see what we will be eating with my leftover of a stockpile.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thrifty Tip

Lowering the Cost Of Children's Clothes

1. Calculate exactly how many clothes your children actually need.  I have two boys the exact same size.  My husband's instinct was to buy 10 pairs of pants and 10 shirts for the boys.  WHOA!  Slow down.  There are six people in my family so I will probably have to wash on Wednesday just to stay on top of the laundry.  My two boys have six pairs of pants and six shirts for school.  We use T-shirts and $6 track pants for the weekend.  Between the two of them, they have three pairs of jeans.  This works for us.

2.  A bargain is no bargain if you didn't need it.  In the past I have gotten in consignment sales and gone crazy.  I would buy things thinking it is so cheap and a namebrand.  I-Must-Have-It!  For the time being, I will not be going to consignment sales.  The items I have bought in the past at a bargain have either been the wrong color so it doesn't match anything we own or too big/too small for the recipient.  For my little girl, I have chosen to allow her to choose things from the fabric store and make very simple designs off the internet. It just eliminates arguments in the morning.  More work for me but less hassle in the end.  The skirt I have been making takes exactly fifteen minutes to sew.  Pair it with a white shirt and I am good to go.

3.  Mend or repair clothing.  My boys are notoriously rough on their school pants.  Recently, one of them came home with huge stains in the lower leg of the pants.  I tried everything I knew to get the stains out.  Before sewing my little girl's skirts, I would have thrown them away.  One day this week I will cut them off and hem.  I actually need more uniform shorts in that size so my boys will have one more pair to work with this spring.

4.  Think outside of the box.  If you are at the thrift store or consignment sale and see something that has a good shape, see if you can transform it.  Either my adding some dazzle or simplifying the piece, you could have a beautiful piece.  Many times old smocked dresses have ruffles that date it but by removing the ruffle, the item is transformed.  Put those creative skills to good use.

I have used these ideas and have seen my clothing budget go down considerably.  Try and see if you have the same results.  Sewing is not hard; you just have to be willing to gain a new skill.

We are still in frugal mode here.  Here is our menu for this week once again a day late.

B: Oatmeal
S: Salad/ Crackers/ Granola Bars

B: Eggs w/ Toast
S: Spaghetti w/ meatballs/ Bread/ Green Beans

B: Leftover Pancakes/ French Toast
S: Waffles

B: Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins
S: Salisbury Steak/ Mocked Mashed Potatoes/ Carrots

B: French Toast
S: Pizza

B: Breakfast Cookies
S: Okra /Ranch Potatoes/ Broccoli

B: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
S: Steak/ Chicken Nuggets/ French Fries

This is linked to Organization Junkie Menu Monday.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Frugal Fast

Due to some surprising twists and turns, this month I am going on a frugal fast.  I am hoping that by the end of the month I will have gained some great frugal lessons.  I will not be spending any money that is not absolutely needed.  Here is how I hope to achieve this.

1.) Stop, look and ponder.  Do I really need this or is it impulse buy?  I will be including my beloved sodas in this.  I am a little addicted to a bit of caffeine each day so I am anxious about how this will be done.

2.) Stay home.  It is hard to spend money at home.  I hope to avoid the daily deal sites and my beloved sites that post great buys.  Hope to see ya soon! ;-)

3.) Grocery Budget is $200.00.  Let's all laugh hysterically at my optimism.  There are six of us.  I feel I might be overshooting this since my freezers are not bulging with great meat buys.   I hope to put together some meals that include meat as flavoring but not the star of the meal.  Let's hope I am successful.  Oh, I also found a deal on chicken breast for .89 a pound so I plan to get 10 pounds.  Anyone have great chicken recipes?

4.) Putting Limits on Kids' Activities - I am going to stay focused on the prize and really work on this one.  This is one area I struggle with when it comes to the kids.  I don't take them to the movies every weekend or McDonalds every day.  My second oldest really wants to play baseball and that fee would be paid at the end of February.  I would really, really, really have a hard time saying no to that.  

I am glad that February is a short month, but I fear that I will be carrying this challenge on to March.  I will update each week in the grocery and gas department for February so that you can see how I am doing.  I will also love your guys' input in how I can make my dollars stretch.  One way I have found is looking at what I have around the house and seeing if it can be used in a different way.  For example, I have a couple of huge containers of dehydrated apple slices.  I am in need of some baking oil.  If I take the apples and make applesauce, I should be able to use the applesauce in place of oil in baking.  Hopefully, creative thinking will take me far in this challenge.

Just so you know, this month I will not have a grand total of what I have saved. This fast is due to the fact that we are struggling like many small business owners and for this month, I am living off of savings.  I didn't want to disappoint anyone at the end.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Okay, you caught me.  I am a day late and also a dollar short.  Such is the way of life.  I will be trying to make do for a little longer without a huge grocery bill.  Here lies the challenge.  Let's see if I can do it.

B: Oatmeal
L: Sandwiches/ Chips/ Cake
S: Beef Tips/ Rice/ Green Beans

B: Pancakes
L: Sandwich/ Yogurt/ Peanut Butter Cookies
S: Taco Salad

B: Cinnamon Toast/ eggs
L: Deer Sausage/ Cheese/ Crackers
S: Pork Chops/ Cabbage/ Sweet Potatoes

B: Pancakes
L: Bean Burritos/ Tortilla Chips/ Brownies
S: Cajun Black Beans and Rice

B: Breakfast Cookies
L: Peanut Butter & Jelly/ Chips/ Fruit
S: Leftover Beef Tips and Rice/ Carrots

B: Muffins
L: Grilled Cheese/ Chips
S: Spaghetti w/ French Bread/ Green Beans

B: French Toast
L: Peanut Butter w/ Jelly Sandwiches/ Chips
S: Eggs/ Sausage/ Grits

I will be linking this up at Monday Menus at Organized Junkie.  Come and join the gals to see this week's meals.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thrifty Tip

Thrifty Tip 

With four little ones, I have a ton of laundry to do.  When I looked at my grocery receipts recently, I realized that I was going through several things of Shout each month.  I decided to see if I could find an inexpensive solution.

This recipe was the winner.  I have been using it for several months and have found it to be as effective as Shout.

1 part rubbing alcohol to 2 parts water

Put in spray bottle and spritz.  

Folks, it is really that simple.  I like to keep my kids' clothes looking nice so that I can resale them so I really attempt to get out each and every stain.  This stuff has worked like a miracle and totally eliminated another item from my shopping list.

Now, some folks might say that you still had to buy something to make it.  Yes, I did.  This item typically retails for $1.00 as compared to $3.00 (avg. for Shout).  I will be able to use my 16 oz. bottle of rubbing alcohol at least 4x in my spray bottle so I am getting 4 versions of Shout for $1.00.  I am not a mathematical genius but I do believe that is a significant savings.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review
The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine

One of my goals this year was to finish one fiction and one non-fiction book each month.  Yea!  I have already finished my first.  I recently read The Money Saving Mom's Budget, and I must say I did enjoy it.  To be clear, I gained the most from the first two chapters.  The first two chapters address what you need to do to really gain momentum and keep it going.

The first chapter has you establish three of your most prized financial goals.  Make it as wild and zany as possible.  After that, you should establish a time frame with realistic sums that you can expect to save each month.  Break it down monthly to weekly and even daily if you want to be truly daring.  Look at your current budget and see how you can manage to save that amount of money.  If it doesn't look possible, then adjust your time frame to meet your goals.

The second chapter is about putting first things first.  Establish order in your house and then tackle any financial chaos.  Crystal basically says that making a plan to organize your house and keeping it organized will assure that you will not be late on bills or lose rebates or misplace coupons.  I recently did this to my desk area in our home.  What a difference it has made?  Bills are dealt with on a daily basis because I need my desk space to be clear at night.  This organizational spree has overtaken the house and now beds are made daily, meals are planned, dishes are done, and laundry is sorted, washed, and put away.  This chapter is not an entirely new concept but in a book that one would presume to be about financial matters the chapter was unexpected.

The other chapters dealt with groceries, date nights, and going credit-card free.  If you have ever visited her blog, you know that these are topics that are dealt with daily on her site.  I am a frequent visitor so none of this was entirely new.  I was pleasantly surprised though by the last chapter titled "Embrace Today".  This chapter is about contentment for what you do have and where you are today.  How many of us get caught up in our financial goals and lose sight of what is right in front of us?  I have four lovely children who are happy and loving.  I have a husband who loves me and whom I love.  We are warm in the cold winters and cool in the summers in our home.  Yes, the home is not paid for but we are able to make the payments while still eating.  In this economic climate, that is quite the statement to make and we are truly blessed.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book.  Just on a side note, Crystal is also donating the proceeds of her book to charity.  This is one book you can feel great about buying. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Menu Monday

Breakfast:  Oatmeal w/ Juice
Supper: Chili w/ Fritos and Cheese

Breakfast:  Biscuits w/ Cheese/ Fruit
Supper: Sausage, Green Peppers and Onion/ Brown Rice/ Green Beans

Breakfast: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Supper: Fried Potatoes/ Cabbage/ Corn for kiddos/ Brussel Sprouts for Me

Breakfast:  Eggs w/ Toast
Supper: Chicken and Rice Casserole w/ Salad and Rolls

Breakfast: Toast w/ Peanut Butter and Honey
Supper: Pancakes for Kiddos/ Hubbie and I enjoy Popcorn and Raisinets at Movie

Breakfast: Breakfast Cookies from Heavenly Homemakers
Lunch: Eat- Out after Pinewood Derby
Supper: Deer Steak/ Mashed Potatoes/ Carrots

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: PB & Jelly Sandwiches/ Chips
Supper: Eggs/ Grits/ Deer Sausage

I will be attempting some recipes this week such as: new bread recipe, new pear muffins, new cheese and rice casserole, and new breakfast cookies.  I am a little overwhelmed but excited to try some new things.  I will give updates this week as it progresses.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

Sometimes in life we need a real kick in the pants.  We need to step out of our comfort zone.  By doing this, we grow as individuals and are able to enrich others' lives.  Lofty statement for sure.  

Unfortunately, this isn't easy.

How does this relate to being thrifty?  Lately, I have been doing activities that normally I would have paid someone to do.  For instance, my little girl began to have an aversion to getting dressed.  I tried taking her to the store to buy clothes and that ended in disaster.  My mom suggested the fabric store, and she instantly loved picking out fabrics.  I happened to find a tutorial on the internet for a simple three seams skirt, and my mornings have become much easier.  Sewing is not in my skill set.  I do not know anyone who sews and by the time I pay for the material, I do not want to add to price of the garment.  I am making sewing a priority and trying to stretch myself and learn.

My boys had broken a spindle on my staircase of my home.  Now my home is from 1932, and my chances of finding a replacement are small and none.  My husband nailed it back in but that was it.  It was ugly!  One day I took some wood putty and applied it.  I then let spindle dry and tried to shape it by sanding it until it looked like the others.  Guess what?  It did.  I applied paint and voila, a spindle is born.  Honestly, I would have bought one if I could, but boy, I sure did feel good when I could fix it myself.  

I would challenge you to see what new skills you can pick up this week.  Step out of that comfort zone and see what you can accomplish.  I bet you will surprise yourself.

Just a note.  If you can see on my small counter, I have yet to have any followers.  If you enjoy what you are reading, how about following me to see what other frugal skills I pick up.  Thanks so much.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Works for Me Wednesday

When I decided to stay home with my kids, I assumed that the day would be filled with lots of learning activities, fun crafts, and minimal housework.  Right?  After all, how much could my two year old do to the house?  Four kids later I will tell you there is a lot that kids can do to a house.

This weekend I rested and rested and oh, rested some more.  Today, I looked around and realized that I can never do this again.  I like to do a little each day so I am not overwhelmed.  This is what I do to make my life manageable.

1.) Plan for housework - For me, I begin my day with an allotment of time to chores that for me have to be done everyday.  I like my bed to be made, dishwasher  unloaded and loaded, and meals planned.  I also see to it that the kids pick up their toys.  If this is done, I feel like I can manage the day.

2.) Plan for a one-time activity each day - This is an activity that should only occur once in your schedule.  For instance, yesterday I sewed a skirt for my little girl.  Today, I will go through old VHS tapes in the attic and donate to the thrift store.  By doing this, I get to see something accomplished each and every day.  Let's face it- beds will be undone at night, dishes will be dirtied before the end of the day, and tomorrow is another day to feed the crew.  Do this one step and it will make you feel much better about your day.

3.) Schedule maintenance chores for the week into a calendar - Plan to clean bathrooms or mop floors.  Plan when to do laundry.  Plan, plan, and plan.  Make this an appointment to keep unless an emergency arises.  A television show is not an emergency.

4.) Enlist help - Little ones can help and should help.  Kids thrive when they know you need them.  Give them age appropriate chores and challenge them to help.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what they can do.

5.)  Enjoy today- Sometimes, I can get so caught up in what I have on my to-do list I forget about me.  Moms need down time too.  You can only run so much until you collapse.  Take a break and enjoy the quietness of nap time.  Set a timer and read for thirty minutes.  Run a warm bath and relax.  Do what makes you happy and you will be a better mom and wife.

I hope these tips help someone. I know that I often get overwhelmed by kids' activities and social responsibilities that housework seems unmanageable.  I have used the tips above and found that life didn't seem so out of control.  Good luck and happy cleaning!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Preventing Frugal Burnout

Preventing Frugal Burnout

I felt that this post was needed based on how I feel today.  I have shopped bargain groceries this week, sat home to avoid putting gasoline in the car, sewed a skirt for my little girl and have given my little boy a haircut.  I have cooked every meal and cleaned up every dish.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am tired.

In the midst of this chaos, my husband has spotted an excellent deal on a rental property,  I was told my son needed about $2500.00 in dental work at the end of this year, and I put $750.00 in my business to meet payroll.  This at the same time I am desperately saving for a much needed vacation.  How do you keep from screaming?

1.) Goals - Keep in mind your goal.  What is it you would like to accomplish?  For me, a short term goal is the trip.  For the rest of today, I will continue to think about the memories that will be created there.  Hopefully, this will motivate me to get my items ready for the consignment sales starting soon.

2.) Check Progress - I spent the morning going over my finances for the month.  The little things I am doing are making a significant difference in what we are saving.  We are gaining traction and I project that next month will be even better.  Progress made!

3.) Keep the End in Sight - For long term goals, it is harder to stay motivated.  Create a chart to keep you on track.  If it is paying down debt, pay a little something each time you save with one of your frugal endeavors.  Put this on the chart.  For me, I am working on paying down the mortgage.  I keep a chart that tells me exactly how adding any additional principal lowers the total.  I LOVE IT!  It really keeps me motivated.

4.) Indulge Yourself - Tonight, I will go to the movies with my husband with our Costco discount tickets.  We will splurge and have popcorn and soda as we watch the movie.  I will feel truly pampered by the time I leave.  We do this each week that Grandfather sits with the kids.  Is it an additional expense?  It sure is.  In my book, it is definitely worth the added expense.  Our mortgage is large so if I waited until I had it paid off to do things I enjoy, I would have missed out on the best part of my life. 

Remember- don't get discouraged.  The end is in sight.  Just keep plugging away and eventually you will be singing the happy dance when the debt is paid. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Reading Goals

If you were with me at the beginning of the year, you noticed that I listed that I wanted to read two books a month.  I think I can do more, but I want to keep my resolutions doable.   I wanted to give you an update on the two books I have chosen.

Nonfiction title - Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine.  I am in the middle of this book after receiving it yesterday.  For someone who has read many finance books, I am finding that it really has some new ideas, especially in the area of goal and time management.  To truly reach your goals in life, you must have a clear idea of where you are heading.  This book can get you there.  I will post a book review when I am done.

Fiction Title - Matched by Ally Condie.  I haven't received this book from my friend who has suggested it yet, but I am excited based on her opinion.  This book's topic seems to be similar to Hunger Games, which I loved.  I will certainly let you guys know if it's a good read or not.
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Thrifty Thursday

This year my husband and I hosted our extended family for the holidays.   We had a great time, ate a little too much, and definitely gained a few pounds.  I spent a large amount of time in the kitchen and definitely loaded the dishwasher more times than I can count.  Luckily, I had caught a sale ages ago on dishwashing detergent and was able to make it through December without buying any more detergent.  I decided I would keep my eyes on the sales and restock as soon as Christmas was over.

Somewhere I had miscalculated the amount of detergent I had.  I ran out as I was loading the dishwashing one night.  I could only fill the reservior about 1/2 full of powdered detergent.  Not sure if the dishes would still come clean, I decided to add another 1/2 of baking soda.  I turned the machine on and let it work its magic.

The next day I noticed that my dishes appeared cleaner.  I believe the baking soda actually enhanced the generic powdered detergent.  I believe that this is really going to help me in the kitchen and also help me financially.  Now my detergent will last twice as long.  With this knowledge, I will not be scouring the ads for sales.  I will buy my Dollar Tree detergent and add my baking soda for much cleaner dishes.  To me, this is another way I will be able to save for those things that mean more to me than namebrand cleaning supplies. 

Now I feel I must add a disclaimer.  If you have a high-end model dishwasher, please follow manufacturer's instructions.  I unfortunately do not.  If my dishwashwer bit the dust tomorrow, my husband and I would probably do a happy dance to the home improvement store.  We hate the rack area and the general set-up on the inside.  It also has a broken handle.  We keep it because ultimately a dishwasher is supposed to work and it does.  ;-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's that time again.  I am coming to look forward to Tuesdays because it is a time I can reflect on what I have to be grateful for.

Let me begin by starting off with my day so far.  I have been to the dentist where I was informed that my child will need to see an orthodontist soon. We have that appointment on Thursday.  But wait, the nurse looks at me and says no need to be concerned but we saw some abnormalities in your child's x-rays so at some time he will need cosmetic work done.

As any mom would do, I wanted to scream.  WHAT !?!  I am trying to be patient Lord but I am not sure what I am supposed to do.  I looked at my son.  He begins to tell me he is not concerned at all because he knows I have everything under control.  Do I?

Thankfully, I do not have everything under control, but my Heavenly Father does.  He knows my son's needs.  He knows my needs.  I can do my part by taking care of appointments and helping my child take care of his teeth, but I will need to take the larger concerns to the Lord.  Through his grace and mercy, the Lord will help us through this.  He has blessed us with the ability to make our monthly financial obligations and I am sure that we will find the means to pay for these additional expenses.  After several moments of reflection and calming breaths, I have come to realize a peace that was much needed after today.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Financial Check-Up

Many of us began the new year with many great resolutions.  Lose weight, run a 5 K, spend time with family.  When developing these resolutions, we look at things we would like to do.  These are the things we get excited about and can visualize ourselves doing them.  This is great!  New year = New Me.

At the beginning of each new year, each of us should stop and consider what things in our financial lives need work.  Look at the following and see what areas you might need to focus on in your own finances.

1.) Check your rates - Do you have the lowest interest rates on your house and car?  Would it be worthwhile to refinance these items to get a lower rate?  Right now, we have the opportunity to take advantage of some historically low interest rates.  Do not procrastinate.  Set the ball rolling to take advantage of these offers now.

2.) Savings - Are you earning the best rate you can?  I currently have a money market where I earn less than 1% on my money.  I could move this to a credit union and make 2.25%.  Why am I putting this off?  We are self-employed; it would mean my husband would need to make his paycheck a direct deposit.  Probably not difficult, but it would mean one more thing on his to-do list so I am not pushing it.  Should I?

3.) Check credit card rates-  Could you have a lower rate?  Credit card companies are still competing for our dollars.  Granted, they may not be working as hard as they have done in the past,but it is still worth your time and effort to see if you can lower the interest rate. 

4.) Update your will - Check to make sure that your wishes are understood in case something happens.  We never know when our time has come.

5.) Taxes - Start preparing now for tax season.  Whether you do them yourself or take them to a tax preparation service, get the paperwork together now so that you do not forget any deductions.

I loathe these chores.  Last week, I got the ball rolling on refinancing our house.  This week I will attempt to talk with my husband about the credit union.  What actions will you take this week to get your financial house in order?  If I can do this, I know you can.  Feel free to hold me accountable in the comment section.

Menu Plan Monday
I am so excited because on Sunday Night we decided that we are going to take a magical trip with our kiddos.  Unfortunately, I have just a few months to come up with the funds for this trip.  My menu plan will be just the basics because I am hoping to save some money from the grocery budget.

Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast w/ Apple Juice
Lunch: Sandwich/ chips/ leftover birthday cake
Supper:  Party - ROLL TIDE!!!

Breakfast: Pancakes w/ milk
Lunch: PB&J/ orange slices
Supper:  Twice Baked Potatoes/ Carrots w/ onion dip

Breakfast: Oatmeal w/ milk
Lunch: Cinnamon Roll-Up/ Grapes/ Popcorn
Supper: Rotisserie Chicken/ Mocked Mashed Potatoes (cauliflower- kiddos will never know)/ green beans/ Roll

Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Turkey Sandwich/ chips/ granola bars (homemade- check back for recipe)
Supper: Meatballs w/ spaghetti/ salad/ roll

Breakfast: Blueberry Cheese Bread
Lunch: Eat at School
Supper: Pizza/ Ants on a log

Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Eat-Out
Supper: Black-eyes peas/ okra/ chicken dressing/ leftover cake

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Grilled Cheese / Chips
Supper: Bacon/ Waffles

Friday, January 6, 2012

Saving Money The Unorthodox Way

We all hear the same things when trying to save money at the grocery store. Check sales, use coupons, menu plan, and never go hungry.  If you are always searching for new ways to save money like I am, occasionally you need to rethink your plan so that the savings can be even greater.

Lately, I have began to think outside the box.  I did not grow up in a family that makes their own cleaning products, health remedies, or lotions/soaps.  We did use coupons and shop drugstore sales.  Recently, I have begun to question which method is better.  Yes, you can get some things free in drugstore sales but is it worth my sanity struggling into the store with four kids in tow and risk my coupon or deal won't work.

This is my compromise.  I work out a cost comparison to the store bought item with a coupon and the items needed to make the item.  A lot of times I already have on hand the items needed to make the product so why would I waste the gas, time, and my sanity to run to the store to pick the item up.  The best example would be household cleaner.  I ran out of my Lysol kitchen cleaner so I googled and this is the recipe that was the winner.

1 c. vinegar
2 c. water
30 drops of tea tree oil

Done.  I did not have to go anywhere to purchase the items.  I already had them on hand.

I needed Pledge.  I took a spray bottle and put 1/4 c. Murphy's oil and water.  Spray and wipe.

I needed face moisturizer.  Read here what I did.

This has been a life saver.  No more waiting until after naps to run to the store just to dust my house.  My mom thinks I have gone insane.  Just buy the product with a coupon.  Why would anyone make their own yogurt, cleaners, or bread.  You should have seen her face when I told her I loved my new face moisturizer.  She was adamant she would buy me some Mary Kay tomorrow.  I had to laugh.  If she only knew the price break down of my moisturizer versus the Mary Kay version, she would be shocked.  The next time you feel the need to run to the store to capitalize on the newest deal, stop and consider the time, effort, and gas to get this deal.  Is it worth it?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

My kitchen overfloweth.  Is that even a word?  My mom's freezer was too full to receive a deer my dad had managed to shoot, and I became the happy recipient of some of their freezer's contents.  How exciting!

I love it when things like this happen.  Instead of throwing away the food, I will make a menu plan and save my grocery money to pay down the mortgage.  We might have some interesting menu selections just due to the randomness of it all but that is what makes life interesting.  I will try to post my menu next Monday so that you can see what we will be having with our varied selections.

On another note, my fridge is also overflowing.  I am in a food co-op where I pay $38.00 and I get a laudry basket full of fruits and vegetables.  At first, I wasn't sure if we would eat all of the choices.  I decided I would try it and see if I could challenge myself to step out of the box and eat things I hadn't tried before.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I haven't always been successful in preparing a couple of the items but through the co-op, I have found that we are eating better.  Three out of my four kids now choose fruit for a snack.  I personally find this wonderful. 

If you have the opportunity to do this in your community, I would strongly encourage you to do so.  It has been a wonderful addition to our diet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Works for Me

I am going to share a secret with you.  I recently ran out of face cream.  I have incredibly dry skin and I do not go anywhere without skin cream.  I started looking through a catalog and the prices for the items I needed would run $76.00.  When I shared this with my husband, his response was that he doesn't wear skin cream, do you really need it?

After forgiving him for his ignorance on this matter, I decided to see if I could find a more inexpensive option.  I lucked up on this recipe and I love it.  It makes a huge amount for a total of $4.15.  Can you believe it?  It made so much I put a Tbsp in an old skin care container and the leftovers in a huge Tupperware bowl.

1 jar of Vaseline
1 Bottle of Cocoa Butter Baby Lotion
1 Jar of Vitamin E

Put in a huge bowl and use a hand held mixer to mix.  For $4.15, I can slather this on every hour of the day.  Let me tell you though; this stuff is powerful.  I have gone 24 hours without reapplying.  Folks, this is a miracle.  I usually have to apply moisturizer at least three times a day.

I bought my items at Dollar General, and I just bought the store brand.  I hope you love it as much as I do. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gratituesday - My First

I have been a regular follower over at Heavenly Homemakers for quite some time.  I love the recipes but especially the upbeat attitude of Laura and more recently, her husband Matt.  I am so excited to share for the first time there.  After all, we all have so much to be thankful for.


My husband and I have always wanted to buy the duplex next door to us.  One, the owner does not keep the property up, and it has been inhabited by the homeless before (thankfully before we bought this house).  No one in our neighborhood could remember the last time someone lived there. Recently, the house went into foreclosure and was given to a local realtor.  I called and called and could not get any answers.  Finally after getting the realtor on the phone, he told me that it had been given to a charity since the house itself was in bad need of repair.

One day we received a call out of the blue and basically a representative of the charity wanted to know how much we were willing to pay. Today, we got the property for an extremely low price.  We feel so blessed.  This will greatly increase the amount of land we have with our house.  We are looking forward to a trampoline in the backyard and a garden has already been planned.  This will be our little homestead in the middle of the big city.  God is good!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The 10%, 10%, 10% and 70% Plan

This year I want to try something radical with my budget.  I want to make my money work for me and my family.  We have some lofty goals as you can tell by the crazy name for my blog.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to ignore smaller needs for my loftier goals.  This fact has me looking for a better plan.

In the past, I would try to put 10% in savings and give 10% to charity.  If I needed something, I could scrimp on other areas of the budget to accommodate the need or withdraw it from our Emergency Fund.  The problem with this is that everything becomes an emergency quick and the Emergency Fund gets depleted quickly.  Perhaps I need to dictate some money towards short term goals such as braces.  Hence, my new plan is hatched.

My new plan

10% - Charity/ Tithing - Non-negotiable.  This amount is actually a little higher because we also give to an organization that provides funds for people in need. 
10% Emergency Fund
10% Short Term goals (braces and vacations)
70% This is what I intend for my family to live on.

The things I will need to cut in order for this to happen.
1. Groceries - I'm currently making simple cleaning products for our home.  I will be using up what is in the freezer.
2. Gas - I will conserve as much as possible. I will try to do my shopping every two weeks and combine trips.
3. Clothing - I will try to make simple outfits for my daughter and check clearance racks for my boys' school needs.  For people wondering about this statement, my daughter will not wear most items, but she loves to pick out fabric.  I do not sew.  This has become a problem.  I am hoping to work on my sewing skills this next year.
4. Kids' Activities - This is an area that I do overspend on.  I am hoping that I can look at their suggestions and pick those activities that reach the children's goals for themselves.  On a personal note, I would like it to be close to home.  I am driving too far for the activities.
5. Eating Out - Cut this as much as possible.  We really do not eat out much.  The problem is that when we have visitors from out of town we tend to go out instead of cooking. 

To some, this budget might seem unreasonable.  I think it could work for us.  We do not have any consumer debt; we just have a business loan and home loan.  Trust me; this will be a challenge for me.  I am hoping that by setting my goals high I might come close to reaching them. 

Signing off for tonight.  I am going to put numbers to my percentages and I will give you an update next month.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Resolutions

This year is my year to utilize this blog more.  I started it so I could keep track of recipes and possibly meet new people who share some of the same interests I do.  I will be focusing on certain areas this year and I hope that by posting here I can be held accountable for successes and failures.  Here we go!

Time Management

1. Utilize my calendar more and document tasks


1. Continue weight watchers online
2. Run at least 15 miles a week
3. Get my teeth cleaned and checked by a dentist (a strange one) but I haven't been to one since my little girl was born almost 5 years ago
4. Eat 5 fruits and veggies a day


1. Read the scriptures with the children each day
2. Read classics with the children each day
3. Slow down and relax with them more - play board games, draw and color with them, play basketball with the older ones.
Does anyone feel that household chores take up most of the day so that by the time you can sit down you are so exhausted the last thing you want to do is play?  I would like my children to remember me as a mom that plays with them.  This is the year I hope to correct this.
4. Let my husband know how much I appreciate what he does for us daily.


1. Refinance my mortgage
2. Try and make at least an extra $150 to pay towards mortgage
3. Save for braces and boost our savings
4. Do 10%, 10%, 10%, and 70% plan.  More to come later
5. Stick with a budget

1. Read scriptures daily (15 minutes)
2. Read 2 books a month
3. Learn one new homemaking skill a month - More to come later

This list looks daunting.  I hope by posting here anyone stopping by can let me know when I am veering off track.  I am looking forward to creating memories this year.  Let's do this together.