Every Day

Frugal Things We Have Done the Past Couple of Weeks

The holidays are never frugal as we all know. However we did our best to get a few frugal things done. 

– I did very little grocery shopping which has continued into this week. We are mainly eating from our stockpile of food.

– One night we were craving Chinese food. I was tempted to go get take out. But my Chinese food is healthier. So even though I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open, I made stir fry. I chunked up some boneless chicken that I had in the freezer. I added different colored pepper strips, pineapple chunks, sliced onions and water chestnuts. I finished it off with a Chinese stir fry sauce that I made from a packet. I ate it just like that. Hubby wanted his on rice. It was delicious and not only cheaper than take out but I didn’t have to brave the cold or use any gasoline.

– I made double the amount we wanted and froze a meal for a night when we are craving it again.

– I used one of these for the above meal so that it was easier to get in the bag and didn’t make a mess. I purchased these for less than $ 5.00 each. I bought four of them for freezer cooking. I will be doing a lot of that after my trip. I will cook one meal for dinner and freeze four meals for nights I am too tired to cook.

– I sewed a button back on a sweater and a button back on a nightgown. I seem to have them coming off lately.

– We had Christmas dinner a day late at my son’s home. I baked a homemade pumpkin bread and put a lot of homemade party mix in a Christmas container that I purchased last Christmas at 90% off so that they had breakfast the next day since they would be traveling. They also took the party mix to eat on the trip. 

– I needed no wrapping paper, cards or other Christmas things so I did not go after Christmas discount shopping. I kept my money in my wallet. 

– I have been using up all of our leftovers. If I make soup, I freeze it. I have made all of Hubby’s meals for while I am gone so that he only has to thaw and heat. 

– I went to the library and took out a book to read on my trip.

– I wanted to give a little gift to each of the babies that live next door to me but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. So I wrapped a brand new book that I had in my gift closet for one of them. The other one I gave a garage sale book that I purchased for $1.00. The book looked like it had never been used. Both boys love being read to and looking at the pictures.

– I managed to get the snow out of the driveway, off the porch, and walk with just a little bit of help from Hubby. So for now, it is done and I didn’t have to hire a plow service. 

– I have been using the HE washer and hanging clothes inside to dry. But I have only been doing two loads a week. 

– I bought no new clothes for my trip. I am using what I have even for dressing up for our dinner at Victoria and Alberts at the Grand Floridian.

– Hubby and I have not gone out to dinner or gotten take out since Thanksgiving weekend. No entertainment money spent. 

– Our entertainment has been watching Netflix movies and playing board games. 

– Hubby had one of the soles come loose on his favorite pair of bang around shoes. He fixed it with Boot Fix Shoe Glue. It worked perfectly. 

– I got my first rebate in the mail for 2018. It was $3.00. It is being saved for one of our goals.

That is it for now. I need to start dinner so that I can call my sister at 6PM. We take turns calling each other every week using free long distance. I look forward to chatting with her tonight.

So what have you done frugally the past week or so?

Every Day

A Busy Day

It is so cold here that almost everyone in my neighborhood is hibernating. The temperature when I went out early this morning was  12 degrees. It is now 20. But it feels much colder than that with winds blowing 30-40 miles an hour. The blowing snow was a hazard when I was out driving. 

I had to go out to pick up Hubby’s medicine which cost  $ 3.68.  It had been sitting in the drugstore since last Friday when it was ordered. I was lucky to get out of my driveway because Hubby has been sick so the snow has been piling up since Thursday. So I drove a little over 7 miles to go to the drugstore and back. We had not used any gasoline yesterday.

I had planned on going to the market but after looking at the ads, I decided there was nothing that I really needed today.

So I came home and did some organizing after lunch. Lunch everyday is usually a salad with whatever veggies we have in the fridge at the moment. Today it was spring greens, onions and peppers with a little lite Italian dressing. 

I was tired of my coupons inserts, binder, and ads being either in the closet in the master bedroom suite (where they were stored) or on the kitchen counter where I would cut what I needed from the inserts. My computer is on my kitchen desk and I needed a place for them that I could quickly grab it all and make my grocery list and cut my coupons. So I emptied the two cupboards to the right of my desk. They have built in pull outs. That is where they are stored now. I can pull out what I need without even getting up from my chair.  In the basket, I have this week’s ads, my coupon inserts in a pile filed by date so that I can quickly find the one I need at the moment, and my coupon binder and envelopes that I put this week’s grocery coupons in. My planner with my menu and grocery list is always on the counter to the right of my computer. This will work beautifully for me. BTW, my inserts and coupons are all up to date. All the expired were tossed last Saturday.

I also keep my Entertainment Book and planner stickers in this pull out so they are handy for me. 

In the cupboard next to it in the pullout, I keep the scissors I need to cut coupons and other office related supplies that I use.  

While I was working in this area, I decided to clean out my desk drawer. So now everything is clean, neat and ready to be used efficiently. 

We have all of the energy efficient shades closed up tightly and the snakes on the bottom of the doors where they are needed. It has been very cold the last 10 days and is going to continue into next week. The weather service is saying that we will not get above 0 Thursday through Saturday. The next electric and gas bill will be horrendous but we have done all we can do. We have to stay warm.

Since I have everything I need for my trip, I doubt that I will go out again until I go to the airport this weekend for my Disney trip. I can’t wait to feel the warmth of the Florida sun on my face. So we will not be using much gas and most days will be spend free.

I pulled a package of ground chuck out of the freezer to thaw last night. Hubby and I will be having a tossed salad and a hamburger with cheese and carmelized onions for dinner. We rarely eat beef anymore but I was craving a hamburger and we have to use up what we have in the freezer.

Tonight Hubby and I will watch a movie on Netflix together. We just haven’t decided which one yet.

I hope you all are having a good and frugal day. Tomorrow I will be back with a frugal things post covering the last week or so. 

Every Day

Happy New Year and My Resolutions

Happy New Year to all of you. May your year be Blessed and Very Prosperous.

I am so excited for this New Year. It always makes me hopeful when the calendar changes years. I have a number of resolutions for the year and to hold myself accountable, I am listing them here:

– Spend as much time as possible doing things with Hubby that we both enjoy.

– Spend as much time as possible with our sons, DIL’s and grandchildren.

– Lose 30 pounds by continuing our Keto diet and exercise more. 

– Become so healthy that I can get off of most of my prescription pills. I was able to get off of five of them in 2017. I don’t know if it will be possible to get off of the rest but I am sure going to try my best. 

– Finally organize every inch of my home in the next three months without spending a fortune doing it. Most organizers will be purchased at the Dollar Tree. I have always been a pretty organized person but I have never organized every inch the way I really want it. That is my goal while making Hubby happy about it at the same time. 

– Make freezer cooking the normal around here instead of just a once in a while thing. I have grown very tired of cooking so this will help me in a big way. I will always know that I have a meal in the freezer that I can pull out and put in the crock pot or oven. It will also let us eat more meals at home instead of eating out.     

– Save more money than we ever have by being frugal in everything we do. Every day I will be doing whatever needs to be done to live the frugal life the way we want to. Everything I do will be carefully thought about and analyzed. 

– Use my 2018 planner to keep track of everything I do and Quicken for tracking all or our income and expenses.

– Spend less time on the computer, watching You Tube or Netflix and more time doing things that help our bottom line. I have already pretty much given up TV.

– We will be trying to cut all of our spending to less than we spent in each category last year. 

– Lastly, I plan on really enjoying my Disney World vacation that starts this coming weekend. I will have no electronics with me to blog with.  I want to savor every minute with my son, DIL, and grandson. It may be the last vacation that I take so I really want to enjoy it.

– Blogging about it all here.

Have you made any resolutions today that you plan on keeping?  Please comment and share with all of us. We would love to hear about them.

Every Day

Merry Christmas

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

We will be taking the next week or so off to spend time with family and friends. Then I will be back in savings mode for about a week and then I am off to Disney World for a much needed break and vacation.

When I get back my topics for January will be mostly financial.  Hope to talk with you all then.

Every Day

It Isn’t Christmas Here Without………………

We all have our favorites that we make during the holidays. One that we have made for all of our married years is Chex Party Mix. I got my recipe from my mother in law and I have been making it ever since. I know everyone’s recipe is a little different. But here is mine:

1 Box of Wheat Chex
1 Box of Rice Chex
1 Box of Cheerios
1 Bag of Thin Pretzel sticks
3 lbs. of Mixed Nuts( no peanuts- Hubby doesn’t like them)

2 cups of Canola oil
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. salt (optional)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic Salt

Combine the cereals, nuts, and pretzel sticks in a large pot. Blend remaining ingredients well. Then pour them over the dry ingredients mixing well to ensure equal distribution. Cover and bake 1 hour at 250 degrees. Uncover and bake for 1 hour stirring every ten minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Our tips: Hubby makes a double batch of sauce. He likes it better that way. He blends the sauce in our Vitamix so that it blends really well. It is not a cheap recipe with the nuts Hubby wants but I try to plan in advance and watch for them to go on sale. This makes so much that it probably costs no more in the long run than buying snacks.

Many Christmases I have given a tin of this to family, friends and neighbors. Everyone ends up with the recipe because they ask for it.  

The only things I have left to make this weekend are 
two loaves of pumpkin bread and a batch of English Toffee. Then I will be ready for Christmas.

What is your favorite for Christmas that you always make?  In the spirit of Christmas, would you share with us?     

Every Day

2018 Budget Continued

The last time I blogged about this topic, I informed you that we will be spending $75.00 per week for food and $100. per week for other incidentals. They were covered here: A New Budget for 2018.

We have been using the $ 75.00 per week food budget for quite a while now and it works well. I have stayed under budget all month. Matter of fact, I only spent $32. last week and I still have my $75.00 for this week. Are you wondering what happens to that money if I don’t spend it? For this month, whatever is left over will go into savings.

Starting the first week in January 2018, $75.00 will go into my cash envelope every week. Whatever is leftover each week will roll into the next week or weeks. It is nice to be able to build up the budget for the weeks that I see a great deal on meat or something else that we use all of the time. It can also be used for something special when company comes. 

The same will happen with the $100. per week in the incidental budget. It will get put in it’s own cash envelope.

I am using cash as a learning tool for all of you. I find that you really think more about what is a need or a want when you have to hand over hard earned cash. It is just too easy for a lot of people to put these things on a credit card each week and go over the budget. Then before they know it they have either gone into debt or added to the debt they already have. If you need to get rid of debt, cash is the way to go. If you can track what you are spending and pay that credit card off every month without fail, then go ahead and use the credit card. Otherwise use cash!

Next, we set our budget for eating out. The amount we settled on is $100. per month. We only plan on eating out once every couple of months. Cooking at home is the way we will go most of the time. We have a favorite restaurant that is very expensive. We prefer to eat there so $200. every other month will allow us to do that. That envelope will also build up with what we don’t spend. With the diet we follow we will not be eating any fast food. 

Gasoline is set at $50.00 per month. We don’t put a lot of mileage on our SUV except when we travel so this should be plenty. We will use our credit card for this because it is convenient. It is too darn cold here to have to run in to pay for gas. We will track this in Quicken.

I believe this is most of the flexible spending that we do. Most of our bills like cable, internet, telephone, insurances, utilities and property maintenance, etc. are pretty much set in stone. I have finally reconciled with the fact that Hubby wants his cable TV, internet and phone so that will be $188. per month. Yup that is what our bill is now. It just keeps going up with this new company, Spectrum. UGH! As much as it pains me, I have given in to the fact that Hubby loves his cable.

Our utility bill for natural gas and electric for the past year was $1724.39. I know it’s high but Hubby is always cold so we have to keep him warm. If we can lower it in other areas except for heat, we will continue to do those things efficiently.

To change the subject a minute, my washing machine is working perfectly again. Was it a fluke that perhaps a valve hung up? Maybe. Will it happen again? I hope not. But Hubby and I have money saved to pay cash for a washer and dryer when and if we need them. For when I do need one, I really appreciate all of you who gave me some ideas by telling me about your washing machines. Thank you. 

Our cellphone is handled by my son. We have already paid him one year in advance for all of 2018. We get one heck of a deal by doing this through him.

We own our home so have no house payment. But we do have hefty property and school taxes so we put that money aside each month in our tax savings account so that the money is there when we need it. 

Our medical and dental is expensive especially since we are older. It seems like we are always running to one doctor or another, the lab or the dentist. We keep the money in our savings account and track it with Quicken. Anything that we don’t use cash for is only tracked with Quicken. We do whatever we can health wise to keep these bills low. We have managed to become healthier and have gotten off of 4 different medications this past year. We are trying like crazy with this diet to get off another one. That is saving us a lot of money and making a healthier lifestyle for us.

So I hope you have your budgets ready for the New Year. If you don’t have a budget, make one. You don’t want to be one of those people who realize all of a sudden that you are spending thousands more per year than you are bringing in. If you are it is time to get out of that hole, pay off you debt, start saving and live a stress free life. The best to everyone for 2018.

I will be spending a lot of time the next two weeks clearing the clutter out of our basement for the New Year, planning what I need to take on my trip to Disney, and spending time with family. So I will be on here sporadically when I have something to share.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Every Day

Washing Machine Help!

I washed a load of wash last night and threw it in the dryer. When I transferred the wash, I saw no water in the tub. When we got up this morning there was two full buckets of water in the machine. Has this ever happened to any of you? Hubby things the valve for the water may not have turned off.

So I bailed the water out and washed a small load this morning. It is drying now. There again was no water in the tub when I took the wash out. I am keeping an eye on the washing machine every 1/2 hour or so to see if I get water in the tub again.

I bought these HE’s second hand from my son and DIL. I think they had them about 3 years when they lived in AZ. So I believe these machines are about 12 years old. They are due to have something go wrong or just die. We do have a wonderful local family to owns a repair service who I can call if need be. But depending on the price to fix, I may be in the market for a washing machine or set.

These large HE’s are huge in my small laundry room so I would be in the market for smaller ones. I think they have smaller energy efficient machines now. Does anyone have them? I would love to know what brand and/or model you have and how you like it.

Thanks for your help.   

Every Day

Dollar Tree Haul

Shopping at Dollar Tree is so much fun. I went today. I also went last week but I forgot to take a picture. Sorry! 

But anyhow today’s haul was a good one. I love, love, love their off brand magic erasers. So I picked up a couple of boxes. I keep one in every room which is handy for when I need it. After I dust baseboards, I use one to get any spots off. They can be used for a million things.

I was almost out of parchment paper so I picked up two. The coconut oil spray works really well and mine was almost gone.

You can tell that Hubby was really excited to get new pill containers. He tore the packaging off before I could get my picture. I actually picked up 5 of these. They are hard to find around here. He uses two and I use two (night time and morning pills). But when I put pills in them, I do two weeks  at a time so I use 4. I had found these last week and only bought one. I wanted to use it for a while and if I liked it then get more. Since I did like it, I rushed back to get them for both of us. These fit so easily in your hand and take up very little room. I think I will love it for my trip too. We have been using the large long ones but these are so much better.

I also picked up 6 of the long slim rectangular storage bins. I love these for vanity items and desk drawers. 

The magic erasers are sitting on two cabinet shelf dividers which I use on a shelf in my closet. They are flimsier than ones that I paid a lot more money for. But they are perfect for the lightweight things I will use them for.

And lastly, my favorite score of the day was 5 packages of cutting mats. They come two to a pack and I needed about 10 to do my refrigerator. I wanted something that would protect my refrigerator shelves when something gets spilled. I hate it when spilled milk or something else gets down in the cracks and crevices and you have to take everything apart to clean in the sink. These will prevent much of that. I can just wipe them off on the day before grocery day. So these will be a project for me in the next couple of days. Over the years I have looked at the expensive fridge mats and I don’t want to spend close to $100. to do my refridgerator. These may not be as good but will do the job for $ 5.00.

So this haul cost me $ 24.76 including tax.

Do any of you use these items? What else do you buy that you love? Please leave a comment and share with all of us.

Every Day

A New Budget for 2018

We are doing things a little bit differently this coming year so that we can keep our eye targeted on the budget and not overspend. We have an expensive item that we are saving for so overspending is OUT!

As I told you in a prior post, we are budgeting $75. per week for the two of us for food, cleaning supplies, HBA, and plastic and food saver baggies. We have used this food budget the past couple of months and it is working well. 

So then we talked about how much should we spend on allowances( more on that in a moment), hair salon appointments, home decor ( little things, not furniture or flooring), clothing, car washes, etc.

Basically these are items that we have some control over and that fluctuate from time to time. As far as allowances are concerned, we don’t really use an allowance system. If we need to spend money, we just do it. So no allowances for 2018 for us.

Hair salon appointments have gotten out of control. I spend on average $ 110. to $140. a month on my hair. I have haircuts, color, and highlights every month/or every other month. Yes, it is a high end salon in our area and it is a luxury I enjoy. It also saves me from making a mess in my home when I am coloring my own hair. However when I realized that this works out to $ 1320. to $ 1680. per year just for me, I was aghast. I didn’t realize how expensive it was until I looked at the annual amount. Hubby spends $15. per month on his haircut or $ 180. per year.  

So I am going to try to go longer between haircuts. Perhaps that will be 6-8 weeks. I am also considering going back to coloring my own hair and forgetting about the highlights. I hate the idea but I also hate the idea of spending that much money at the salon every year.

Home decor are the little things like pillows, plants, candles, etc. that we bring home to add something new to the decor. These can add up fast if we don’t pay attention. Since I don’t like a lot of decorative things that I have to dust and maintain, I am pretty minimalist in this area. 

Hubby and I have all the clothes we need so we just replace things as they wear out or as we go down in sizes. I have to get some new pants soon. You should have seen me trying to keep my slacks up in the market the other day. I needed a belt. That is when I realized I had to go down a size. So I will be hitting the consignment store for a few new to me pairs. I don’t want to buy anything expensive because I plan on losing more weight. 

It will also cover all of the little things like stopping for a car wash, paying for dry cleaning, the little things we buy at the gas station store, a magazine we want, etc. You get the idea.

So after lots of conversation and deciding what this would cover, we are going to spend no more than $100. per week in this category. We believe that $ 5200. per year is more than plenty for this spending. 

So these are two categories that we have decided in our 2018 budget. We will be doing our best to stick to them and reporting it to you to keep us accountable. 

How are you doing setting your 2018 budget? If you have never set a budget before, take a look at your spending for 2017 and set a reasonable one. When you don’t know what you are spending that is when you get into trouble. I have heard from so many people that they didn’t realize they were spending $10,000. to $20,000. more per year than their income until they tracked it. They said no wonder we had so much credit card debt. It is a lot easier to track your income and expenses every year than it is so be stressed out and wondering how you are going to pay those credit card bills. Pay off the debt, don’t add another dime to it and you will see how nice it is to be debt free and saving for emergencies and things you want.

More to come soon. 

Every Day

Dollar Tree Gifts, etc.

For those of you looking for stocking stuffers or a small gift for a neighbor or friend, I found these Bolero soaps at Dollar tree yesterday. They are natural and the scents are wonderful. I picked up the Vanilla Cream and the Apple and Cinnamon. But they did have others. 

If you are lucky enough to find the lotion that matches, you could make a small gift basket for someone. Mine did not have them. 

I have read that some offices are stuffing stockings for co-workers rather than buy an expensive individual gift for each one. Stockings are put up for each worker and then you put an inexpensive gift in each one. This soap would work, a lottery scratch off, a pen or pencils. You can buy the little Kleenex travel packs at 3 for $1.00 at my Dollar Tree. Target has nice Christmas socks for $ .97 each. You really don’t have to spend a lot of money to do this. 

You could even make something for the stockings like a homemade bookmark.  There are some ideas at
Tip Junkie . You could bake a couple of cookies for each one.

I have lots of neighbors who are teachers and I asked each of them what is their favorite Christmas gift that their students give them. Hands down it was a few Christmas cookies or baked breads in a pretty bag, tin,or box. They told me they love getting those because they either don’t bake or can’t find the time to bake.

Fortunately I don’t have stockings or co-worker gifts to do anymore. The co-worker gifts were the bane of my existence when I worked. We had a woman in the office who baked cookies, fudge, breads, etc. for over 35 workers every year. It made people feel inferior if they didn’t give everyone a gift at Christmas. So many of them spent money that they really couldn’t afford to give gifts. We did not make a lot of money at this particular job.

I was in our accumulation phase of money at both my early married jobs and while the boys were in private school and college. Money to pay for these things and to save for our retirement. I really did not want to spend a lot of money buying Christmas gifts for everyone. So I would bake also. I could put a few decorated cookies in a nice small Christmas goodie bag for every person and let that suffice. That didn’t hurt my budget and got the job done. 

I wish I had had the guts back then to do what another co-worker did when presented with a situation such as this. He took the Christmas party day off from work every year. He told me that most of the people were not his friends, just co-workers,  and he did not feel like he should give them a gift.

We always had some kind of gift giving situation in our office. Baby showers, bridal showers, every holiday imaginable party, etc. It was ridiculous! But my friend(co-worker) was never to be found at any of them. He never participated. He had the right idea. He invested his money in the stock market every week and today he is retired and traveling the world. I am happy for him that he is still able to do it.

So what do you do for gifts at work? I am very curious.