Weekly Frugal Highlights–91st Birthday Edition

IMG_2449This week may not have been the most frugal due to having family visiting for my mother’s 91st birthday.  However, we all shared the work of making meals and paying for the meals.  My mother had a surprise visit from one of her favorite younger sisters.  It was so special.

Saturday our neighborhood was having our semi-annual community yard sale day.  It was great.  I had never seen so many households having so many yard sales!  We found so many useful items–even a couple of things that we had on our list.  We spent more money than I had planned, but we found some really great deals.  I found the wreath pictured above–it is new and was crafted by one of my neighbors.  She was asking $30, but I went back near the end of the day and she said to make an offer.  I paid $25.

I have been looking for a changing table and I found one for $7.  I am long past needing a changing table for a baby, but a friend has one that she stores her quilts on and I liked the idea.  I will be cleaning it up and painting it with chalk paint.  I will post about that when I get to the project.

IMG_2445I found this set of three mixing bowls for $3.  They were dirty and cloudy looking, but I just ran them though the dishwasher and they came out perfect.

I also found some glass canisters for $1 each, some jelly jars for $0.25 each, two pair of jeans for my husband for $1 each, two pairs of shorts for my son (adult) for $1 each, two shirts for my self for $1 each, 4 men’s t-shirts for $0.50 each, a dress for my daughter for $2, a pair of brand new jeans (with tags still on them) for my daughter for $1, an electric skillet for $5,  a Longaberger basket for $2, a bean bag chair for $3 and several unopened card games for $0.50-$2 each.  I will be using some of the games for Christmas gifts.  My husband had been wanting a tool belt.  We found one brand new with tags still on it for $8.  We had so much fun and found so many useful things.  I am planning on budgeting for yard sales over the next several weeks and will try to find more gift items.

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The garden is starting to produce more.  This week I harvested more lettuce and I started pulling radishes.  We will be having salad with every dinner this week.  In my food co-op this week I got lots of fresh broccoli.  Today I made broccoli soup and we had that with a salad and cornbread.  While I was cooking today, I also made some vegetable beef soup using leftover roast beef and vegetable.  We will have that tomorrow night.  We are planning on doing very little shopping for the rest of the month.  We have plenty of food on-hand that needs to be used up.  My husband stopped at Aldi’s today on the way home from church and spent $11.96 on fresh produce.  That should be enough to carry us through at least this week.

I mended my daughter’s college dorm comforter and it should be good for another year.  I also mended one of her shirts.

IMG_2451How did your week go?  Share your frugal highlights in the comments!

Linked at The Prudent Homemaker, Motivation Monday, Good Morning Mondays, and Thrifty Thursday.

 

Posted in Daily Life, Decorating, Flowers, Frugal Living, Gardening, Growing Food, Home Cooking, Menu Plans | 2 Comments

Low Spend Month

MoneyYou are probably familiar with the trend of “No Spend Month” or the “No Spend Challenge”. I really like the concept. Spend nothing  for a month other than usual obligations or bills. Keep the grocery budget at zero and use up what you have on hand. I get it. Spend nothing on consumables. Spend no money on clothes, etc.

I have often tried to participate in no spend months but it just doesn’t seem to work for me.  There always seems to be some grocery items that I need or something comes up that I forgot and I just have to spend some money.   I think it is much more realistic to start with spending much less.  So….

I have decided that May will be a “Low Spend Month” for me. Here are my rules:

Spend no money on clothes.
Go as long as possible without filling the cars with gasoline.
I will allow a maximum of $30 per week for groceries.

I will plan meals using what i have on hand in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator.  This will be a good way to use up things that have been handing around in the freezer and pantry for a while.

I am allowing $30 per week in groceries to be spend IF I see any great deals on items to stock my pantry and for milk or fresh produce. I have been working on building a stockpile of groceries and I want to allow some spending towards building our stockpile if I see rock bottom prices. My first goal is to build a three month supply of food. Eventually, I would like to have a one year supply of food on hand. I will be writing about our new food storage system in a later post.

So that’s it.  Would you like to join me in May for a “Low Spend Month”?

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Weekly Frugal Highlights–April 27

IMG_2355This week I mended our very worn European pillow shams.  As I mended the several split seams, I knew that our shams are on the way out.  I decided that I needed to try and make us some new shams for our bed. I went to look at fabric that I had on hand and then I remembered that I have been collecting vintage sheets.  I have been buying these at yard sales as I find them.  The picture above are some of the sheets I have found.  I generally pay around $0.25 each.

Here is a picture of the finished shams.

IMG_2380Also this week:

I made homemade granola using this recipe.

I transferred $11.25 into our checking account from our Ibotta account.

We received many useful items in our weekly food co-op–bottled water, yogurt, popcorn, squash, refrigerated biscuits and pine cleaner.

I bought 8 dozen eggs at a sale price of $0.99/dozen.

I spent two days doing spring cleaning.

I picked lettuce from the garden.

I received a $10 of $10 coupon from JC Penny.

I received a coupon from Bath and Body Works for a free item.

What did you do to save money this week?

This post is linked to Thrifty Thursdays and The Prudent Homemaker.

 

 

 

Posted in Frugal Living, Gardening, Money Saving Ideas, Sewing | Leave a comment

Weekly Goals-April 20

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Personal:

  1. Walk or use elliptical 3 days.
  2. Read devotional every day.
  3. Read for pleasure 20 minutes each night.

Sewing/Quilting:

  1.  Sew Lucky Stars blocks together. (Pictured above)

In the Kitchen:

  1. Make a menu plan for two weeks -I didn’t get this done last week.
  2.  Gather supplies for canning strawberry jam-I didn’t get this done last week.

Garden:

  1. Inspect vegetable garden daily, harvest lettuce as needed.
  2. Weed flower beds–didn’t get any of this done last week.  We have had 10 days of rain!

Shopping:

  1. Continue making list of needed item to look for at Community Yard Sale.

Business:

  1. Work 2 days on nursing jobs.
  2. Write 3 total blog posts.
  3. Restart Elite Blogging Academy
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Weekly Frugal Highlights- April 20

 

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I harvested the first lettuce from our garden this week.  It was enough for us to have for one meal.

I found eggs at Kroger for $0.99/dozen.  I bought 8 dozen.

I got two half pork loins for $1.79/lb and had them cut into chops.  I have enough pork chops for 10 meals.

I had e-coupons to get three items for free at Kroger.  I got a balance bar, a Tostitos appetizer and a Lipton Sparkling tea.

IMG_2615I received the above items in my neighborhood food c0-op.  I gave my husband the candy to take to school.  I gave my son one of the heads of iceberg lettuce and some of the dressing.

We ate all meals at home except for getting a 12″ Subway sandwich.  We have enough food on hand so that I should not have to shop for a couple of weeks.

We used a Redbox code to get a free rental.

My husband sold a two textbooks on Half.com and sold several old comic books on Ebay.  He made a total of $89.00.

I dropped my ipad a few weeks ago and shattered the screen.  My husband ordered a new digitizer screen and then a new wi-fi antenna from Amazon and was able to fix my Ipad.  He spend a total of about $20.00.

What did you to save money this week?

Linked to Thrifty Thursdays, The Prudent Homemaker and Darling Downs Diaries.

Posted in Frugal Living, Gardening, Money Saving Ideas, Saving Money on Groceries, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Weekly Goals- April 12th

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Personal:

  1. Take Mom to the Pulmonologist.
  2. Walk or exercise on the Elliptical 3 times.
  3. Read Devotional every morning.
  4. Read for pleasure 20 minutes each night.

Sewing/Quilting:

  1. Complete last pieced border for Brown/Cream quilt.
  2. Cut out additional borders for Brown/Cream quilt.
  3. Begin organizing fabric stash.

In the Kitchen:

  1. Make a two week menu plan from items in freezer, pantry and refrigerator.
  2. Look up how to can strawberry jam and assemble needed items.

Garden:

  1. Inspect vegetable garden daily.
  2. Start cleaning out front yard flower beds.

Shopping:

  1. Inventory pantry, freezer, refrigerator and start list of needed items.  Shopping trip will be next week.
  2. Begin list of items to shop for during neighborhood yard sale–May 2nd.

Business/Work:

  1. Work at nursing job 2 days and work from home job 1 1/2 days.
  2. Write two blog posts.
  3.  Organize notes/thoughts for two additional blog posts.

This list is very ambitious considering I am working several days this week.  I will allow myself some grace and may have to delay some of this until next week.

Posted in Daily Life, Healthy Living, Organizing, Simple Living | Leave a comment

Weekly Frugal Highlights

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I have decided to start sharing highlight of our frugal activities every week.  Some weeks may be very boring, but I hope these posts will be inspiring.

This week we continued to work in our yard and on our raised bed garden.  I added several tomato plants and pepper plants that I grew from seeds.  Also in the garden is:  English peas, potatoes, onions, radishes, swiss chard, microgreens, beets, lettuce, basil, oregano and rosemary.  I also have tomatoes and peppers in some containers on my deck.

We planted three blueberry bushes that I found on sale at Aldi for $5.99 each.

I spent all of my grocery budget until my next paycheck.  I bought 20 pounds of butter on sale for $1.99/lb.

I bought milk for $1/half gallon.  I only bought 2 gallons–we don’t like milk from the freezer.

I found Red Gold tomatoes on sale at Kroger for $0.49/can and I had coupons for $0.60 off 3 cans making it $0.29/can.  I bought 15 cans (the total # of coupons I had). I didn’t really need the tomatoes, but I got them to add to my pantry.

I am a member of a neighborhood food co-op.  This week we got tangerines, bottled water, flavored water, candy (my husband takes this to school), yogurt, chicken, tortilla chips and pine cleaner.  I pay roughly $3.00/week to be a member of the co-op so this is quite a deal.

I made 20 Freezer Friendly Breakfast Burritos using sausage and eggs that I found on sale last week.   My husband loves these and they make a great to-go breakfast for busy work mornings.

My husband teaches school and was on Spring Break this week.  We saved money by staying home.  We ate all of our meals at home.

My husband and I vacuumed and washed our cars this week at home and enjoyed being in the 80 degree weather.

How did you save money this week?

 

Link at Thrifty Thursday.

 

Posted in Frugal Living, Growing Food, Money Saving Ideas, Saving Money on Groceries | Leave a comment

Menu Plan Monday

My October budget for food was $300. I use a cash envelope system for as many household categories as I can and the grocery envelope is empty. So, this week, we will be eating from our pantry, fridge and freezer. I am planning on making menus for the next several weeks that will use up things in my freezer. I want to be able to take advantage of sales on whole turkeys around Thanksgiving. I plan on buying 12 turkeys to use throughout the next year.

Here is the plan for this week:

Monday- Pasta with creamy vodka sauce, yeast rolls from freezer, apple ambrosia

Tuesday- Homemade vegetable soup, cornbread, fruit

Wednesday- Breakfast for dinner–eggs, bacon, toast

Thursday- pork chops, zipper peas from freezer, rice, fruit

Friday- grilled chicken breasts, steamed brocolli and carrots, fried rice from freezer

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday- BBQ meatballs from freezer, steamed vegetable from freezer, fried rice from freezer

Have a great week!

Linked to I’m an Organizing Junkie–Menu Plan Monday

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Weekly Goals

I have been thinking a lot about goals.  I have so many things that I want to accomplish, but I don’t seem to get organized and get them done.  When that happens, I feel guilty–as if I am wasting time.

I thought it would be a good idea to post weekly goals and, hopefully, get more accomplished by publicly sharing these goals.  However, I am also going to give myself some grace.  After all, I am working part-time and taking care of my 90 year old mother.  Being a caregiver takes a lot of time.

Business Goals:

1.  Write two posts for blog

2.  Organize/plan two additional posts for blog

3.  Work two days on-site at my nursing job and one day from home

Personal Goals:

4.  Exercise 5 times this week–walking or exercise DVD

5.  Keep a food diary on My Fitness Pal

6.  Work on sewing project for my enjoyment two times for an hour each

7.  Daily devotional and read Matthew.

8.  Finish reading Catching Fire and start new fiction book.

Frugal Goals:

9.  Menu plan using mostly items I have on hand in my freezer and pantry.

10.  Make homemade applesauce for the freezer.

11.  Plan and carry out a freezer cooking session–so far I have planned make       Breakfast Burritos and Oatmeal Muffins.

12.  Comparison shop for home and auto insurance. 

Home/DIY Goals:

13.  Continue painting kitchen cabinets.  I will be posting about my kitchen makeover soon!

Again, I am going to allow myself some grace and may even decide to cross off a couple of items from this list.  I am sure that other things may come up that I want to add to the list, but I will make a note and push those items to next week, if needed.

What do you have planned for this week.  Check out what others are doing at Money Saving Mom.

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Financial Fitness

FinancialFitnessIn my last post, I wrote about quitting my job and I also said I would write about how we are able to allow me to take a sabbatical.

About 7 years ago, we were the typical American family–in debt and living paycheck to paycheck.  It had never really bothered me much.  We had never missed any payments, we were healthy and I bought into the lie that “everyone has debt” and “you are always going to have a car payment and a house payment”.  But in late 2006, I began to really look at our finances.  What I saw really began to scare me.  We had $32,000 in credit card debts and $28,000 in student loan debt.  $60,000!!!  We were over the age of 40 with $60K in debt, nothing in liquid savings, a little in retirement savings, and no plan.  One adverse event could cause us to fall over the cliff and start missing payments and potentially even lose our home.

On December 28, 2006, that “adverse event” happened.  My daughter and husband were at a movie.  Suddenly, in the middle of the movie, my daughter started having seizures.  I was at work and received the frantic call from my husband.  911 was called, my daughter was taken to the hospital.  I left work and spent two hours in traffic trying to get to the hospital.  I had spent the two hours that it had taken to get to the hospital praying, asking for others to pray and thinking about what could be wrong. As a nurse, I knew what some of those possibilities could be and it was very frightening. I walked in to the emergency room to see not only my family, but members of my church family all gathered around supporting my husband and daughter.  I had made it just in time to be able to accompany my daughter to the CT scan.  I knew that this test would show if my worst fears were confirmed.  After the scan, we waited in the  ER room with our family and church family.  More church members arrived and my daughter and family were surrounded by prayers and love. Finally after about 30 minutes, the ER doctor came and told us that the CT scan was normal–there was no sign of a brain tumor.  We all praised God and breathed a sigh of relief. The cause of the seizures were unknown and we were told that it could have been a single event and my daughter might never have the problem again.  Four days later, however, she did have another event.  The next several months were spent seeing specialists and having multiple scans and tests.  In the end, no cause was ever found and my daughter was put on anti-seizure medication.  Thankfully, she has never had another seizure since and, in fact, 2 1/2 years later she was taken off the medication and is still fine today.

Why did I tell you about this health scare?  This was the “adverse event” for us financially.  We had a high deductible insurance plan.  $2000 per year.  The first seizure, ambulance ride, hospitalization and CT scan happening on December 28th, 2006 and then the subsequent seizures and all other testing happened starting January 4, 2007.  So, we had $4000 in medical bills that started coming due around March or April 2007.  I had no idea how we were going to pay that debt, let alone the $60K we already had.

I tried to figure out a budget for us to live on and start paying down the debt, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t see a way out.  I was extremely stressed and worried about money.  The money situation caused stress on my marriage and my children were also affected.  One day, while at work, a group of us were talking about prayer.  I mentioned that I prayed, but I wasn’t good at discerning God’s answers to my prayers.  I said “I just need God to put a billboard in front of my that says ‘Lisa, do this.'”  Everyone chuckled and agreed, but I didn’t think much about it after that conversation.

Not long after that conversation, I was sitting in traffic during my long afternoon commute.  I sat in my car lost in my thoughts and worries over our financial situation.  While I sat in traffic that wasn’t moving, I looked up out of my front windshield.  One of the billboard that was looming above had a picture of a man I didn’t recognize.  The words on the billboard jumped out at me—“Live debt free!  Listen to the Dave Ramsey show 4-6 p.m.”  I had never heard of Dave Ramsey, but those words were exactly what I wanted–to live debt free.  It happened to be about 5 p.m. so I immediately turned my radio to that station.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  People were calling in to tell their stories of how they were in debt and struggling.  Dave was quoting scriptures, talking about God’s way of handling money, answering questions, offering  advice and was talking about these “baby steps”. There were other callers that were calling in to tell their success stories and how they were debt free.  They were screaming “We’re debt free!!!” on the radio.  Some of these folks were in situations worse that my family was facing, but they had overcome and were thriving.  I became hopeful and excited.  I called my husband and told him to turn on the radio.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Here was a man quoting scripture and sharing practical ways on how to get out of debt and stay out of debt.  I remembered the hallway conversation with my co-workers and thought “God, you put that billboard in front of me!”

I began listening every day.  I bought the book “The Total Money Makeover” and my family started following the plan.  Several weeks into listening to the show, I realized that maybe I had actually heard of this guy several years ago.  My brother, who lived in Tennessee, had been visiting and kept talking about this guy on the radio in his local area.  He kept droning on about this guy and how his financial principles made so much sense.  I politely listened, but really my eyes glazed over.  My brother even gave me a book.  I never read it.  But as I listened to the radio show one day, and Dave Ramsey was talking about Financial Peace, something suddenly made me think of my brother and the book he had given me so many years ago.  Was this the guy my brother had told me about?   Where was that book?  When I finally got home that day I ran in to my home and started searching for the book my brother had given me.  I finally found it under my bed, covered in dust.  There is was  “Financial Peace” by Dave Ramsey.  I had had the book for several years and never even looked at it.

My family and I continued to follow the plan.  We learned how to work a “zero based budget” and it was the first time a budget ever really worked for us.  We began to see our debt going down–fast.  It was so exciting and we had hope for the first time. But, there were other challenges.  By May, we were faced with another health scare.  This time it was our son.  The words “lymphona” were being used.  My son had to have many tests and, thankfully, everything was fine and he is healthy, but that was another large deductible triggering event.  We were able to cash flow all of those bills and kept working our plan.

In August, we decided to take  Dave Ramsey’s class “Financial Peace University” at a local church.  After only one class, my husband ended up in emergency surgery for acute appendicitis.  Another $2000 deductible.  I didn’t miss a class and my husband only missed one class.  We kept following the plan and we cash flowed that medical bill as well.  It was obvious that we were being attacked and I knew that we were on the right track.  I remember standing in my bedroom talking out loud and rebuking the Evil One.  We would not be derailed.  We would continue to follow God’s for our money and our lives.

We continued to follow the Baby Steps and by the summer of 2010, we had paid off all of our debts and had a 6 month emergency fund!  We have continued to follow the same principles and live below our means.  In fact, we made it a priority to live primarily on my husband’s income.  We watched as our savings continued to grow and we put into retirement savings.  We have never gone back to financing purchases and have paid cash for two used cars.  We will never have a car payment again.

Living below our means has allowed us to save enough money to have more than a year’s worth of living expenses in the bank.  The funny thing is that living below our means has actually made us more content.   Additionally, we know how to live on one income.  This has given us flexibility and now will allow me to take a sabbatical from working and take care of my mother for whatever time she has left in this life.  It will allow me to take time to get healthy and really think about what I want to do next in my professional life.  I don’t know what that will be.  It might be going back to being a Nurse Manager, but I may not choose to work in that kind of stressful environment again.  Perhaps I will go back to strictly taking care of patients as a staff nurse.  Maybe I will do something entirely different. I am grateful to have gotten financially fit so that I can take time off for this sabbatical.

What steps are you taking to get more financially fit?  What could that mean for your life?

 

Linked to:

Fabulous Frugal Thursdays

Thrifty Thursdays

Posted in Debt Reduction, Frugal Living, Uncategorized | 2 Comments