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.