Every Day

Keeping the Costs Low

Oh, the dilemma again over sending Christmas cards. Every year I try to knock down the number that I send out. I keep it down to family and really close friends. If I send a card to a family member 10 years in a row and I don’t get a response, then I feel that they don’t want contact and I take them off my list. I don’t send cards to anyone who I will see over the holiday season.

I would actually like to send e-mails instead but I don’t have most people’s e-mail address or they don’t use email. I know that is hard to believe but not in my generation.

So I sat down this morning and wrote them out. I ended up with 27 cards that are already in the mailbox. 

A few years ago, I caught a great after Christmas deal of $1.00 per box for very nice Christmas cards. So I purchased 10 assorted boxes. I am still using them so they were purchased and paid for long ago. The only other costs were my time and stamps. I am still working on forever stamps that I purchased before the last price increase. So they cost me $ .47 each instead of the $.49 they are today. Also when I purchase my stamps, I buy them in bulk at BJ’s and get a small discount. So mailing these 27 cards cost me less than $12.69 plus about $1.50 for the cards. So it is not an extreme expense.

A few things that I have been doing around here is cashing in 10 Coke code caps for $5.00 Amazon gift cards. I didn’t know that they were running this deal until my sister mentioned it. Fortunately, I still had some caps from Hubby drinking it.

All of my Christmas shopping is done. I have one more package coming today and when that is wrapped, I am all done. One of the last purchases I made was a Black Friday deal that I did online on Thanksgiving. Our Keurig is still running however I am afraid that it is on it’s last leg. It makes terrible noises. So when I found a Keurig on sale for $ 59.99 that included 40 K-cups and a bonus in the coffeepot box of 4 more plus  some iced tea ones, I jumped on it. I defrayed the cost of this by paying with some Amazon credit card points. I had been keeping my eye out for a deal like this since I did not want to wake up one morning and not be able to make coffee. I know that a Keurig is a luxury but it is one of the luxuries that we are willing to pay for but not at full price. We only drink one cup of coffee in the morning so it works perfectly for us. 

The only grocery deal I purchased this week was yesterday. Top’s had large roasting chickens on sale for $ .77 a lb. That is a really low price for my area so I purchased two for the freezer. One day when I am feeling better, I will take them out and roast them so that we will have lots of chicken already prepared. I will then freeze it until it is needed.

Not much else going on around here. We are just trying to stay warm. Anything new frugally with any of you?  

Every Day

Inexpensive Turkey Soup and Other Topics

Turkey is one of the least expensive meats you can buy especially around Thanksgiving. I have one extra turkey in the freezer and I am keeping my eye on prices to see if any grocery clearances them. If I go by a grocery store, I stop and run in to see what they are doing with them. I suspect that Aldi will discount them but probably not until after Christmas.

That said, I paid $.99 a lb. for our Butterball 22 lb. turkey this year. It is our favorite brand and the breasts were huge. I have never gotten so much white meat off of a turkey. We got eight individual dinners and seven individual lunches out of the turkey and other leftovers. I also made eight quarts of turkey broth. I made a huge stockpot of turkey soup with some of it(pictured). The rest is in the freezer to use throughout the year. The soup has already fed Hubby and I two dinners and will probably feed us two more. We are definitely getting our money’s worth. Are any of you making soup?

I wanted to let you know that I finished my physical therapy today and I will be doing therapy at home using exercises they trained me to do. I have some of my answers but not all. I had 3 more tests yesterday and today. I am feeling much better but not 100% yet. 

We have started to think about income and expenses for 2018. We are setting the budget for the items that are not set in stone. You know the ones that fluctuate from month to month like groceries, entertainment, restaurant food, etc.

Our budget for food has changed because of the food that we are eating. We are on the Keto diet which consists of meat, chicken, fish, and lots of dark green veggies like kale, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, etc. We try to buy organic produce when it is important. We are finishing the meat in the freezer and only buying grass fed when we make a purchase. We buy organic eggs from chickens that have been grass fed. We are using butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil to cook with and for salad dressings. We eat cheese and other fats like bacon. This isn’t everything that we consume but most of it. We started this diet about 7 weeks ago and I have lost 15 lbs. and Hubby has lost 10. We never snack between meals. Of course we cheated a bit over Thanksgiving because we hosted company. When the soup is gone, we will be eating all Keto again. It is an easy diet and we are never hungry because of the fats. 

So when we get done setting the budget I will let you know the budget amounts for food, personal care, HBA etc. which will all be included in the total amount. Then I will let you know what the other categories are for things not set in stone every month.

I realize that you are probably all busy shopping and getting ready for Christmas. But this month you should be setting your budget for 2018. The other thing that is important is to estimate your taxes for 2017 and decide if you should do some tax harvesting of stocks to lower your taxes for the year.
We are working on both. 

Talk with you again soon.

Every Day

I Hope You All Had a Happy Thanksgiving and The Future of This Blog

I hope all of you had a nice day yesterday and that you are enjoying family and friends. We had a wonderful one celebrated here with family. We are still enjoying their company.

So while my son is doing his college homework and my granddaughter is busy writing stories, I thought I would update you on what is going on here and the future of this blog. 

I have been dealing with a medical issue that is taking up a lot of my time between tests, appointments and lots of research. For example this week coming I am tied up 2 days with three tests and other days in physical therapy. I am not enjoying any of it but it is all necessary. I hope to have answers soon and then know what I am dealing with. It has been a long process.

With that said, now the issue of this blog. Since I started this one my health made it almost impossible to think about anything but it. So I couldn’t put the kind of time in that I wanted to. As one long time reader said to me “I liked your other blogs better!” She was very blunt but so right!  My heart just was not in it.

So I will be keeping this blog but it will be about all frugal things and more like my old blogs. I plan on starting off 2018 with my plans for the New Year which I will publish sometime in December. My plans and budget will be about those things that are not monthly bills set in stone but those that I can work on and reduce. It will be a journey of saving and reducing spending. We have lofty goals for next year which will require reducing what goes out of our bank accounts. Of course 2018 will start off with my Disney trip which is in no way frugal. However airline tickets, my hopper pass, and scooter have long ago been paid for. The only expense will be food, drink and any gifts that I may buy. However, I have been saving all year to have money towards those items and have accumulated $1000. So none of my Disney expenses will come out of our 2018 income. 

So I am looking forward to getting back to blogging soon. And I hope you all will come along for the ride.  

Every Day

Missing in Action Again

I have had a number of inquiries about why I haven’t been posting. I just wanted to let you all know that I am dealing with a medical issue that needs my full attention right now. I promise to be back posting when I can.

Every Day

Freezer Cooking Day

A while ago a friend gave me a freezer cooking recipe. It has lingered in my stash of recipes for a long time. Even though I had a very busy day, I decided I was making it at dinnertime. The only thing I was dreading was cooking up a lb. of bacon. I had cooked an extra lb. this past weekend specifically for this recipe but Hubby saw it in the fridge and had been eating it. When I went to check earlier today that I had everything for this meal, I found that out.

So I took a package out of the freezer and thawed it out. While that was happening, I was out at appointments, stopping for milk and bringing my 3 books back to the library that I read. I picked up one that was in that I had a hold on and 2 more.

So late this afternoon, I cooked and cooled the bacon. Just before dinner, I crumbled the bacon into 1 cup portions(2 of them). 

Then I added 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs to each of two paper plates, added the 1 cup of bacon to each, and added 1 Tbsp. of minced onion to each. You can skip the onion if you don’t like it or add more if you want more. Then I mixed these three ingredients all together on each plate. 

Next I measured out 1 cup of ranch dressing into 2 different bowls. Lastly I washed chicken tenderloins before I used them. 

Then I dipped each tenderloin into the ranch dressing for each dish. Then into the breadcrumb, bacon, and onion mixture.

Here is the meal that I made to freeze. 

I wrapped this pan of Breaded Chicken Bacon Ranch in foil, labeled it and added directions. I didn’t date it because we will cook it the beginning of November. If I was going to keep it for any length of time I would label it. Don’t buy special labels; just use anything you have hanging around which I did.

Here is the dish that I baked for dinner tonight at 375 for 30 minutes and it was perfect. 

It was so delicious that Hubby was thrilled that we had leftovers for tomorrow night. This recipe is definitely a keeper. It goes together easily if you have the bacon cooked ahead of time. The next time you cook bacon, cook an extra pound like I did. But then put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. That way Hubby or anyone else who lives with you won’t eat it before you get a chance to use it. Just pull the cooked bacon out when you pull your meal out to thaw.

I really hated the thoughts of cooking another pound. So when I was in the market picking up the milk, I priced those packages of ready cooked bacon which I have never used. I almost choked. I would need 2 pkgs. and they were $ 5.79 each. No way was I paying that for the bacon. So I bit the bullet and cooked another pound.

I am going to try this recipe next time with chicken breasts that I have cut in two lengthwise. I think they would cook in about the same amount of time.   

Every Day

Holy Cow and Chicken, etc.

Our meat stockpile has gotten out of control. Fortunately, taking a good inventory has made me realize that. You all know that we have been basically eating from our stockpile for the past 2 months and we continue to do the same.

Even after eating from our freezers for all of this time, we have so much left. Luckily when I pulled every last morsel out of them to do my inventory, nothing had gotten old or freezer burned. I believe that is because of my food saver which shrink wraps our meat.

Here is our current inventory of meat:

20 lbs. of beef

74 lbs. of chicken

1- 6 lb. leg of lamb

32 lbs. ham and pork

8 lbs. of fish and shrimp

21 lbs. of turkey

This totals 161 lbs. of meat or about 322 meals for us when you take into account bones. That number is shocking for the two of us. Considering that we eat meatless once or twice a week, we can live a long time off of this meat and seafood.

To be totally honest, we also have 2 lbs. of bacon, 1 lb. of ham, and 1/2 lb. of turkey in our refrigerator right now also. We will use a lb. of that bacon for our family breakfast tomorrow and the other lb. will get cooked up and used for Club Sandwiches(uses the turkey also)and with eggs for breakfasts this week. Hubby is making ham salad for lunches which will use up the ham.

So seeing all of this meat and these numbers makes me realize that I have to change the way I grocery shop. We live in a northern area of the U.S. where power outages are common when we have lots of snow. So we have lots of snow storms. How long do you think this meat would last if our power was down for a couple of days? Not long, maybe two days. We would be cooking on our grill and in our fireplace like crazy and feeding the entire neighborhood. 

Of course, I purchased most of this meat at rock bottom prices. But that does us no good if we lose it in a power outage or it gets freezer burned. It would be a total waste of money.

I am meal planning from our inventories and not buying much these days. Just the necessities that we run out of or perishables like milk, half and half, and produce. Hence, we are not spending much on food. I am using our grocery budget to buy Christmas gifts instead.

Yes, I will do some stockpiling of things that are only rock bottom at Thanksgiving and Christmas but not as much meat as I usually do. I already have my turkey for Thanksgiving in the freezer. I may buy one more to cook up and freeze the meat in meal portions to use in place of chicken. Or I may not depending on the prices. I might actually wait until turkey breasts go on sale next year at rock bottom prices and get a few of those. I also have a spiral sliced ham for either Christmas or New Years. So our holiday meat is already in the freezer.

I would like to get down to the point where I only have 3 months worth of meat in the deep freeze. I would like to have room to put up freezer meals instead. 

After all of these years of cooking, I am getting really tired of it. So having a month’s worth of freezer meals at the ready would be a luxury for us. I have been collecting small containers so that we can eventually do this. Do any of you cook freezer meals? How do you do it? Do you make a bunch at once or just make an extra every time you make a casserole, etc.? I would really love to hear your experiences. 

When we get to the point of having just three months worth of meat, we have decided that $ 300 a month or $75. a week for groceries will be enough for us to eat a healthy diet and buy any personal care products, OTC meds and cleaning products.

I have been estimating what a meal costs us for quite a while now and also keeping track of what non food items we buy. That $ 300. a month should be sufficient to do everything. If it doesn’t work, we will raise it a little. 

So are any of you in the same boat we are? Too much freezer food that needs to get eaten? Have you taken an inventory so that you know what you have? I would love to hear from you all in the comments.  

Every Day

Errand Day

I usually run my errands on Thursday but I did them today since I seem to be a day ahead on everything this week. 

We needed just a few grocery items so I decided that Top’s was the best choice this week. They had bacon( bought 5), turkey pepperoni, yams, and eggs on sale that were all on my buy list. I also picked up a cottage cheese cup with a free store coupon. The lettuce and tomatoes were a necessity. I also purchased a 6 pack of Flying Bison Rusty Chain beer which is not in the picture. The total for all was $ 45.13 including tax and bottle deposits.

My next stop was at Super Walmart to pick up a Christmas gift that I had shipped to the store. I love how easy it is to get a pick up there. I have been doing some of the Christmas shopping already. I need to have it done by Thanksgiving so my family can take it home with them. Shipping has gotten very expensive. 

Then I went to the library which has become a regular stop every 8-9 days. I borrowed 3 more James Patterson books. I am able to read one book in a about 3 – 4 hours depending on interruptions. I am enjoying his Murder Club series but I am reading it backwards. The reason is that the newest books are hard to come by so when I see them, I grab them.

Last stop was the drug store to pick up a prescription for Hubby. That cost us $ 50.00.

Dinner tonight is leftovers from last night. I made spaghetti and meatballs for Hubby. For me I made alfredo sauce with broccoli and chicken. I can’t eat red sauce so this a meal where I really have to cook two different meals. Most times I just eat spaghetti with butter. My leftovers are pictured.  

Every Day

What is Financial Independence?

There seems to be some confusion in the blogosphere about what it means to be financially independent. I have seen many blogs and articles talking about financial independence that have different definitions of it. Some I agree with others I don’t.

Let’s look at the definition of financial independence.
Here is the definition from Wikipedia .

Hubby and I are financially independent. It means to us that we have enough money from investments and other passive income to be able to pay all of our expenses for the rest of our lives without working jobs.

To some people it means being self employed and making enough money to pay all of their expenses. Others believe that they are financially independent if one spouse is self employed and the other works for someone else.

I know there are many, many more definitions. But which one is the right one?  Perhaps there isn’t a right one. Perhaps it depends on what each of you think it is.

I’ve been around so many decades that I don’t even count them anymore. But I was raised to believe that you became financially independent when you retired. That retirement came when you turned 65. We didn’t like the idea of retiring at 65, so we set up our life goals so that we could retire 10 years earlier than that. We could have set it up for much earlier but our children would not have been able to attend private schools and go to college. Those goals were more important to us than retiring earlier.

Our life goals for financial independence were achieved through saving, frugality, investing, and setting up other streams of passive income.

Hubby was self employed as a consulting engineer for less than a year after he was done with his career jobs. He quickly realized that he had retired to enjoy life not do consulting work. Most of his working career was spent doing two different jobs. I worked part time and full time jobs for less than 17 years. Most of my work was done while my children were in junior high, high school, and college.

Now we are in our 17th year of financial independence and have not had one thought about self employment or even taking a part time job. We have plenty to do each day and we are never bored. But most importantly our planning and working has paid off. We are free from work.

So our definition of financial independence is the same as our definition of financial freedom. Never having to work again because our money pays our expenses year after year. By not working we control our own lives. We don’t have a boss telling us what to do each day. I totally agree with Wikipedia.

I am very curious. What is your definition of financial independence? Are you working towards it? Or have you already achieved it?  Please leave a comment and share with all of us.   

Every Day

The End To A Very Crazy Busy Week

I know that a lot of you can’t wait every week for TGIF!  When you are retired and have a crazy busy week, you can’t wait for it to be over with and start a new week on Sunday.

I had so much anxiety this week because we had so many things to do or oversee. I don’t do well on a time schedule. I like setting and controlling my own day.

We started the week out going to a birthday party which was a lot of fun. Then the next morning I spent hours at the dentist getting some major work done.  As you all know, I hate going to the dentist. UGH! For some reason, I had an earache when I came home so I went to bed to rest.

Hubby went for a haircut the next day. Lately when Hubby goes to the barber, it is jammed packed. So he was gone a very long time waiting his turn. I was getting worried which again gave me anxiety. 

I got a surprise the same day. My son, DIL, and my grandchild in the Eastern part of the
state had this beautiful bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates
delivered by the local florist. This picture was taken today so it is 5 days old but doesn’t look too much different than the day it was delivered except for the  some of the missing lilies that bit the dust. Of course, I am enjoying the chocolates – one a day.

Later that day, I got a long distance telephone call from my sister and my anxiety disappeared for a while.

Realizing that Christmas is coming and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, I spent most of Wednesday out Christmas shopping. I like to have my gifts purchased early and then wrap them to go home with some of our family on Thanksgiving. I was exhausted when I got home but managed to cook a nice dinner as I had all week.

On Thursday we had workmen here all day that we kept an eye on. The landscape company that takes care of our yard all spring, summer and fall were here for their last appointment this year. They did their usual weeding and weed whacking but also cut down all of the perennial flowers, trimmed all of the bushes and trees cleaned up the beds and anything else we wanted done. The yards are now ready for winter. Then around dinnertime the company came who blows out the lines on our sprinkler system. So that took about an hour and is all done for the winter.

On Friday, we had to take the SUV to the tire place to have the snow tires put on for the winter. We went a little early this year because they gave us a 50% off coupon. Hence it only cost $30. instead of $ 60. for the changeover. Every dollar counts!

It was a long week and I was beat. And Hubby knew it so he asked me to thaw 2 lbs. of ground chuck. He said he would make dinner tonight. He made this delicious pot of chili that you see at the top of my blog. He also made a pot of rice in the new cooker that came this week. His chili is so yummy. It’s all meat. We will have it again the next couple of days and then freeze any that is left to put on hot dogs or use for a baked potato bar. 

I was very happy to eat this bowl of chili on rice for dinner. I even said don’t bother with a veggie tonight. He had enough to do and he gave me the day off so I definitely was happy eating just the chili and rice. 

I wanted to let you know that I have barely done any grocery shopping. I think I have picked up just 6 things that we needed since I purchased the 11 stock up onion soup mix. We are still eating down our freezers and pantries. The inventories that I did has really helped me with the menu planning.

Anyhow, I am so glad that this week is over with. I am looking forward to a new week tomorrow. You all know that my son and grandson come to breakfast every Sunday morning. Ninety percent of the time I cook a very large breakfast for us. I decided to give myself some grace tomorrow morning. So I purchased this assortment of muffins, donuts and coffee cake for our breakfast. I am frugal most of the time but because of that I can splurge on a luxury when I need to. It isn’t the healthiest but my grandson will be delighted and I will enjoy not having to cook.

Here’s to a great week for all of you too!

Every Day

A Little Of This and A Little of That( Breakfast, New Cooker, and Planner)

We had a celebration in our home yesterday. For dinner, we got KFC take out. We both love fried chicken from there. But since it is pretty unhealthy, we only purchase it 2-3 times a year. With the 8 piece meal we got some biscuits. Since we watch how many carbs we eat in a meal, we did not eat them yesterday. But not wanting to waste them, we used two to make egg, bacon and cheese biscuits for breakfast this morning. Waste not want not!

Over the weekend, Hubby saw on QVC this green 
Cooker .  As you can see in the picture, we already had a smaller yellow one. We use our yellow one all of the time to make rice, quinoa, etc. But it holds very little. I love to make rice on Sunday and then use it a few times a week. So for $19.96, we couldn’t pass up this 5 cup one. Also the new one is big enough to cook meals in it for just the two of us. Using small appliances saves a lot of energy money. So with autumn upon us, this larger one will get used a whole lot now and throughout the winter.  Hubby is making chili in the crock pot tomorrow. So I will make a big batch of rice in the new one and we will just use it through the rest of the weekend. 

My favorite planner is Amy Knapp’s .  I waited too late last fall to order it and they were sold out. So I had to purchase a different planner which did not work well for me. So I was getting Amy’s early this year to make sure that I got one. I actually ordered two- one as a gift. You can’t beat this price for a great planner.

It has a pocket in the front that holds all of my paperwork to run errands or that I need to make calls each week.

I love the weekly pages with the to do lists, grocery shopping lists, and a place for my menus. Both the grocery lists and menus are perforated and can be torn out. I am a very visual person so I need to do lists.

Then there are note pages. I use these to write down my morning and evening routines and my zones. Then they are always handy for me to look at. 

There are also phone number and e-mail reference pages. There are a number of pages to list info for babysitters, children’s friends names and addresses, etc. Those I wouldn’t use but people with children would love them.

And lastly, there are two pages of stickers. Some I can use and others that I can’t, so I will share those with the gift one. I did also buy two sets of stickers that I can use for my planner. I am a very visual person so I enjoy using them in my planner. I plan each week on Sunday for the following. 

So tonight I will be happy to get everything up to date in this planner and throw out the one I am using. I am not waiting until January 1st.

Dinner tonight will be leftovers from KFC. Yummy!