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Archive for February, 2007

Gifts, highlights, and track shoes

February 27th, 2007 at 02:37 pm

When I planned my 2007 budget, one of the catagories that I included this year was "gifts". In the past I had never budgeted for gifts. I usually just pulled the money out of my weekly "household" budget. Well, several times things got very tight around here when I had to take money from my household budget and I still needed to buy things like...uh...groceries...prescriptions...gasoline. So, I decided to make budget catagory for gifts.

Tonight we are going to my nephew's birthday party. I can't tell how nice it is to already have the money in place and not wonder what my family will have to do without this week so I can give my nephew a gift! Why didn't I think of this before????

On the homefront, we've had a nice low spend week so far. The girls and I have been taking our lunches to school all week and we've been eating leftovers for the past two nights. Since we have the birthday party tonight, we'll have a light supper of sandwiches, chips, and baby carrots with birthday cake for desert.

I have a couple big spend days coming up thoughFrown I simply HAVE to get my hair cut this weekend. It's been a while and it's looking awful! I've decided to go ahead and have highlights done this time. It'll probably be my last time though. I think I'll go back to just coloring it myself after this time. BTW, I'm only 36 and already have a ton of gray hair! I guess I'm vain enough that I don't enjoy people seeing how gray my hair is already. The highlights camoflauge my gray. I've tried it at home before and it just doesn't come out as well as it does at the stylist. But, like I said, I think this will be my last highlight jobSmile

Also, DS started track in school yesterday. He has to have new track shoes. The back thing is that he has to have TWO different kinds! I guess I'll be spending my weekend getting my hair cut/highlighted and finding the best value I can on track shoes(rolling my eyes)....

Quiet frugal day

February 24th, 2007 at 02:28 pm

It's been quiet around here today. It's been raining cats and dogs so it's been nice to stay in today. I would like to say that it's been a no spend day, but I DID have to run to Dollar Tree and buy a new shower curtainFrown I washed my old one so many times that it finally fell apart when I tried to wash it this morning. So, I did spend $1 today.

Frugal things I've done today:

#1 Found a recipe online for my favorite coffee creamer and made it this morning. It was very goodWink

#2 Searched online today for a cheap alternative for the cleaner that goes into my steam carpet cleaner...white vinegar!

#3 Had leftover Taco Soup for lunch.

#4 Went to the Dollar Tree and walked out with only one item(this is hard for me).

#5 Have homemade pizza crust rising for supper tonight.

#6 Did laundry and washed everything in cold water. However, since it was raining I didn't get to hang my clothes on the line like I'd planned to do.

#7 Plan to stay in the rest of the evening enjoying FREE tv with my family. Oh yeah, DD#2 spend some of her allowence money at the Dollar Tree on a giant word search so the family will probably spend some time on that tonight too. Funny how something like a cheap word search can entertain us for hours!LOL

Hopefully tomorrow will be a no spend day. We are going to church in the morning and that's all we have planned. Most of the congregation goes out for lunch after church but we get into the van and head home for a quick lunch instead. Who wants to spend the whole afternoon in a restaurant anyway?? Well, my kids probably would!LOL

BillPay, here I come!

February 23rd, 2007 at 02:10 pm

I was reading Pat's blog yesterday(http://patverettosfrugalliving.blogspot.com/) when it dawned on me that before long, I will be paying almost $1 for every two pieces of mail that I put into the mailbox! I was stunned! Doesn't that seem like a lot of money to mail two bills? So, I'm doing something that I should have done a long time ago. I'm finally jumping on the "online bill pay" bandwagon. I'm sure that most of you are already on that wagon. I'm not the most computer savvy person around, so I've been dragging on feet on this money saving option. NO MORE! I set up my first online payment today and it was very painlessSmile

The cost of a first class stamp is going up to .42. I mail approx. 10 bills every month. That means I will be paying $50.40 every year to mail my bills! Not THIS tightwad...not anymore. I only have one bill that can not be paid online. So, now the US Postal Service will only get a measly $5.04 from me. Oh, I'm sure I'll have the occasional bill or whatever that I'll have to send through the mail, but not very often. I opted several years ago not to send out Christmas cards anymore. All of my family live close so I don't have to send birthday cards or packages to far off relatives.

My new mission: Avoid the post office at all "costs"....

Payday, peanut butter, and grilled burgers...oh my!

February 21st, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Been a no spend day. Actually, just the opposite...it's a "make money" day because it's payday for DH! Yesterday was my payday for the month. Life seems so good when you have a nice big bank account. Well, big for a while anywaySmile

I would LIKE to spend a little on peanut butter but every shelf is cleared in the grocery stores I've been to! Of course, they cleared all of the Peter Pan and Great Value brands, which caused everybody to grab what was left leaving nothing behind. I still have 3 large jars of peanut butter left in the cupboards at home that I need to throw out. I just haven't brought myself to throw that kind of money out! I know I'll get reimburessed, but it still bothers me!

The weather is absolutety wonderful here today! DH will be grilling burgers for supper tonight. YUM, I haven't had grilled burgers for a while.

Eh, call me a tightwad if you want....

February 20th, 2007 at 04:10 pm

Things I've noticed:

A co-worker(who is constantly complaining about not having money) told me that they went to see Bridge to Tarabithea over the weekend. She went on to say how she "hates buying popcorn and pop at the movies because it costs so much...but DD thinks she HAS to have popcorn, so what can she do?". Hmmmm. Load all five of us up in the van, drive to the movies, pay to get in, pay for snacks, drive home. Nope. We stayed home and watched Ferris Bueller for free. However, I did bring home a FREE copy of the book(think: ACTUAL LITERATURE) from the school library(where I work) and have been enjoying it very muchSmile

Some co-workers were complaining at work today because they've switched the water bottles in the pop machine to a smaller size, yet they still cost the same. Hmmmm. The free water from the tap that I drink STILL costs the same thingSmile BTW, the school has an awesome ice machine with crushed ice. I can't imagine anyone prefering the pop machine water over the awesome ice that we can have for FREE!

Today was payday. Many of my co-workers zoomed to the bank during their lunch break(stopping for fast food on their way back). I ate my lunch brought from home(enchalidas, yogurt, apple) and plan on depositing my check tomorrow which is our normal "bank day" at our house(DH's payday).

Oh BTW, it was a no spend day for me. We enjoyed a delicious supper of meatloaf, baked taters, biscuits, and steamed veggies. I had planned on making meatballs tonight, but I was too lazy...meatloaf is basically the same thing only easierWink

Warm weather and menus

February 18th, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Ahhhh. Mother Nature is finally giving us a break from this bitterly cold, icy, snowy, bleak winter. It's 53* and sunnySmile This is the first day we've been above freezing in so long I can't remember. The warm temps and sun are melting down the snow and ice that has been on the ground for well over a month!

Because of the warm weather predicted this week, I've included a couple of meals cooked out on the grill. Usually our winters are mild enough that we grill all year long...NOT THIS YEAR! Our grill has been stuck in several inches of ice on our patio!LOL DH was able to clear most of the ice away earlier todaySmile

Menu in no particular order:

*Grilled chicken leg quarters, baked taters, salad, biscuits
*Cheeseburgers on the grill, tater tots, green beans
*BBQ Meatballs, mac and cheese, cornbread, Cal. mixed veggies
*Chicken Enchalidas(leftovers), salad
*Taco soup
*Leftover night
*Every man for himself night

An example of when being lazy isn't frugal!

February 17th, 2007 at 07:59 am

So I write this extremely long post yesterday about how for me being frugal isn't just about saving money...it's about being lazy. Well, this morning I found an example of how being lazy isn't always frugal...it actually costs money sometimes.

Yesterday was a day off for me so I spend most of my morning cleaning and doing things around the house. In the afternoon I went into town and visited my Grandma in the nursing home, grocery shopped, went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, stopped at the liquor store to pick up beer for DH, stopped at the pet store to buy a new algea eater for the fish tank, stopped at the Dollar Store to pick a few things there, and FINALLY made it back home and unloaded the groceries from the car(of course DH and the kids were no where around). Basically, I was exhausted by this point. So, I decided to just put away the cold items and leave the rest for later. We decided at last minute to go our local high school(school that DS attends) basketball game. It was late when we got home, so the groceries waited until this morning. Low and behold, as I was putting the groceries in the cupboards I find my 1 lb. package of chicken breast lunch meat in the bottom of the sackFrown I could've just kicked myself!!

Lesson learned. This is one of those instances where being lazy doesn't save any money. It can actually cost money. On the possive side, I guess it could've been a package of steak???

Frugal vs. Lazy

February 16th, 2007 at 08:52 am

Something I hear all the time from people who are deeply in debt is that they just don't have time to be frugal. HUH? What's so time consuming about carefully watching your spending? I believe that most people think that being "frugal" means a lifetime of baking bread from scratch, sewing all of their own clothing, shopping at four different grocery stores to get all of the best deals, cooking all of their food from scratch, making all of their gifts by hand, etc, etc, etc. Well, I guess most of those things are done by frugal people. But, I consider myself to be a frugal person and I don't necessarly do everything on the above mentioned "frugal" list. Honestly, many of the things I do aren't done to be frugal, but basically because I'm lazy!

Some examples of frugal practices I do because I'm lazy.
#1 Every week I make out a menu of meals that I plan on fixing for the week. Yes, this IS frugal. It saves money because I don't buy a bunch of extra food I don't need. The reason I do this aside from being frugal? After working all day long, the last thing I want to do 2 or 3 or even 4 days a week is go to the grocery store and gather up ingredients for the evening meal. I'm tired. I just want to get home.
#2 When I cook things like ground beef I will cook up 5 or 6 pounds at a time instead of the one pound that a recipe calls for and put the excess in the freezer. Why? Because when I come home from work tired and knowing I still have stuff to do around the house, the kids will need help with their homework, and I still have a stack of bills that need to be paid and put into the mail, having a portion of my meal already prepared saves me time and energy because some of my meal is already made for me.
#3 For the most part I don't bake bread from scratch. Sometimes I do because my family enjoys the flavor of fresh bread. The "everyday" bread my family uses comes from the grocery store. I buy generic whole wheat bread at the "regular" grocery store for the same price name brand bread costs at the bread outlet store. On my time off I don't want to drive the extra distance and waste my free time going to the bread outlet store, so we eat generic bread instead. The cost is the same and there is no effort or time involved in buying the bread from my usual grocery store.
#4 Speaking of grocery stores, I frequent 2 stores. I live in a small rural area with only a few stores and they never have great sales competing for customers because, well, they don't have to. We don't have much of a choice were we shop. I know my prices by heart so I will shop at each store every other week and buy the best deals at each store.
#5 I never sew clothes. I don't enjoy it and it's very time consuming. Some of our clothes come from garage sales, but the majority are purchased at departments stores at season end clearence sales. I just purchased 5 pairs of jeans for my daughter at JCPenney's on clearence for $5.49 each. There's no way I can sew a pair of jeans for $5.49 a pair. We do have one thrift store in our town and you can't buy a decent pair of pants there for $5.49. BTW, this is why I rarely buy clothes at the thrift store. I can usually find clothing at other places cheaper than the thrift store price.
#6 We just celebrated Valentine's Day. I guess the "frugal" thing for us to do would have been to make homemade Valentines for my daughter to give out to her classmates. Okay, by the time I purchased paper, glue, markers, stickers, glitter, and whatever else is needed to make handmade Valentine's cards I would've spend much more than the $1 I spend on a box of factory made Valentine's from the Dollar Store. She also wanted to include candy as a treat. Did we load up in the van and drive 10 miles into town to buy candy for her Valentine's? Heck no! That's the last thing I want to do in the evening after a long day of work. Instead, I pulled out my bag of Hersey Kisses that I picked up on the clearence rack after Christmas. The Kisses were wrapped in green, red, and the tradional "foil" wrappers. We simply used the red and trational "foil" and put them into a small baggie. I'll use the leftover green Kisses in Easter baskets in a month or so.
#7 Recently a fellow worker asked me "sometimes aren't you so exhausted after work and running your kids around that you don't have the energy to throw together even a small meal?". The answer to her question is "YES"! So, do I drive up to a local burger joint and order a round of burgers and fries to my family to eat? No. For two reasons. The most important reason is because this food is simply NOT healthy. But, another good reason is that the prices is just too high. I have to feed my husband, myself, an athletic 15 year old son(who can eat twice as much as most adults), a thirteen year old daughter, and an eight year old daughter who is also an athlete. So, to fill all of us up would cost me $25 or $30. Instead, we go home and have a super lazy dinner of leftovers, a sandwich, or maybe even a bowl or two of cereal.

As you can see, most of the frugal things I do don't just save me money, but even more importantly, they save me time and energy!

Menus for the week

February 11th, 2007 at 11:41 am

Well, I kinda made a big mistake with my shopping this week. DH and I went shopping on Friday night instead of waiting for my usual Saturday shopping trip. The problem with the Friday night shopping was that I didn't have a menu planned out yetFrown So, it made planning my menu this week kinda difficult since I can only cook the ingredients that I have on hand. Oh well, I think it's going to work out okay.

Sunday-Tonight I'm not cooking. We're having a chili feed at church this evening so I just need to bring a desert.

Monday-Leftover spaghetti, garlic toast, and green beans

Tuesday-Sausage/potato bake, corn bread, and Cal. mixed veggies

Wednesday-Individual pizza(each person assembles their own small pizza with favorite toppings) and salad. This is something fun for Valentines Day since we don't buy each other gifts or treats.

Thursday-Hamburgers, tater tots, and carrots with ranch dip. The burgers will be cooked on the grill if the weather is half decent. If not, I'll make sloppy joes instead

Friday-Leftovers or "every man for himself" for the kids. DH and I will probably go out for our Valentine dinner.

Saturday-We're having a Young Adult Valentine get-together for church. It's potluck and then we're watching a lovey dovey chick flick in honor of Valentine's day. I'm bringing Chicken Enchilada's

Planning on a nice evening:)

February 10th, 2007 at 10:45 am

Our weather in SE Kansas has been just horrible this winter! This is the worst winter I can remember and it's not over yet. The weather predictions are calling for at least 2 more winter storms before the month is over. Then, we still have March. We usually don't get REALLY bad weather in March, but it's not unheard of to get a big snow in March. Anyway, with the bad winter storms we've been having(ice and snow have been on the ground for a month now...very unusual) and the very bitterly cold temps, we just haven't made it out of the house much in the past couple of months. So, DH and I decided to head to Joplin Mo(about 20 miles from here) and go out to eat and use a gerenous gift card we got for Christmas. DD#1 needs a new pair of tennis shoes(sneakers for those of you in other parts of the countryWink) so we'll hopefully find a good deal on those. We'll probably just walk around the mall and browse without buying anyway. Of course, there's some awesome clearance sales going on right now, so we might find something we can't pass up.

So, tonight will be a small spend night(shoes for DD#1) but it's a night we're all looking forward to! Even DS who rarely wants to spend a Saturday evening with his parents anymore!Smile

Trying to teach a bunch of kids the value of a dollar

February 8th, 2007 at 04:38 pm

Okay, I'm not sure how many of you have read my blog enought to know this, but I work at my children's elementary school(actually, only my youngest goes there now...the other two are Middle and High school aged).. I work in the library. Well, it's "Bookfair" time at school. Basically, Bookfair is something that Scholastic Books does as a profit for them and a fundraiser for the school. They send a huge display of books and kids and their parents buy them. The more books the kids buy, the more money the school(and Scholastic, of course) makes. We always have the Bookfair in the library, which means that the responsibility of the Bookfair falls on my boss and I. My boss and I are both frugal people(which is one of the reasons we get along so well!LOL). I told her that in all good conscience I couldn't pump these kids up to buy a bunch of overpriced books. Especially when we have several of them in our library. She agreed 100% Soooooo, I pulled our books from the shelves that the Bookfair was offerning and told the kids that they shouldn't buy the books that we already have in the library because it made better sense to buy ones that we DON'T have and then check out the ones we do have. I'm sure Scholastic wouldn't appreciate me discouraging kids to buy their books, but I don't care!LOL Anyway, I felt good knowing that I advised the kids to make smart money choices.Smile

I'm saving myself $20 today

February 6th, 2007 at 05:13 pm

How? Well, I have a neice(Erin) who is a dancer. She's had a couple of dance performances in the last couple of weeks that I couldn't attend. I NEED to make it to at least one performace. Tonight she's performing at 9:00pm at our local high school basketball game's half time. She will not have another performance until the spring recital in May which will cost $20 per ticket. Wellllll, I've decided to go to the performance tonight and skip the one in the spring. Okay, since I'm an employee of the school district I get an "activity card" which gives me free entrance into all district activities(I also can bring a guest with me for free). So, instead of paying $20 this spring to watch a whole bunch of girls that I couldn't care less about, I will get into today's basketball game for free and be done!! Plus, since my children go to school in the district I know practically every kid playing along with his/her parents(girls and boys games tonight) BTW, I can't begin to tell how much money I've saved with the activity card since my DS is a football player and wrestler(he's not wrestling this year because of a broken leg).
Man, I just LOVE a great deal!Smile

Frugal things I've done today 2/5/2007

February 5th, 2007 at 05:05 pm

Well, I got all of the kids back to school today...no more flu! Woohoo!

Frugal things I've done today:
#1 Made lunches for the girls and I this morning.
#2 Had a no spend day(cash)Smile
#3 Paid off the remainder on 2 credit cards!
#4 Had plenty of leftovers from last night's Super Bowl extraviganza(sp?) so I heated those up for supper tonight instead of making a "new" meal.
#5 Got tomorrow's lunches made up for the girls. I get a free lunch from the PTO(Parent Teacher's Organization) tomorrow!

I've had a very good spending week so far. I have some extra $$$ leftover from serveral envelopes that I'll put towards debt repayment. I used to think that $5 here or there didn't really make much difference. Now, I see that I was very wrong...it makes a huge difference! I'm always more motivated when I'm working towards a goal, and right now my goal is to get completely out of debt in less than a year. That means NO DEBT. No morgage, no car payment, no credit cards payments. NO DEBT...period! If I work hard it CAN be accomplished in less than a year. Yeah for meWink

Super Bowl Sunday and menus for the week

February 4th, 2007 at 11:07 am

First off, let me say that our family used to NEVER even watch football, let alone the Super Bowl. Well, you have a son come along that loves to play football and things changeWink We were invited to two different Super Bowls parties, but decided to decline the offers and stay at home instead. We're fixing some VERY unhealthy and unfrugal treats for tonight's game. I've been putting back cash from the "food" envelope for the past couple of weeks so we can all chow down on some of our favorites for the game.

Tonight's menu:
*Hot Buffalo Wings
*Lil' Smokies in BBQ sauce
*Potato skins(making these instead of buying)
*Pizza rolls(both cheese and pepperoni)
*Rotel cheese dip and chips
*White cake with pink frosting(also homemade...this was DD#2's request)
And of course, DH has the beer icing down!LOL

Menu for the week:
*Polish sausage, mac and cheese, cornbread, and salad(didn't make this last week like I had planned)
*Chicken legs and thighs cooked on the grill, baked taters, bicuits, green beans
*Potato soup and grilled cheese(the soup made with the insides of the potatoes I'm using for tonight's tater skins)
*Spaghetti w/meat sauce, garlic toast, salad
*Beef fajita's with onion, green peppers, cheese, sour cream, and salsa
We'll have leftovers and "every man for himself" on the other two nights.


Getting back in the groove

February 3rd, 2007 at 09:29 am

I haven't blogged much in the past week. DD has had the flu and between working, doctor appointments, and taking care of her and the rest of my family, I just haven't had much time. I guess it's called "being a mom"Smile

Anywho, I'm pretty proud of myself this morning. Since DD is feeling better and DH, DS, and DD#2 are gone out of the house, I wanted to jump right in on my computer and start reading everybody's blogs! I'm having blog withdrawl!!LOL BUT, I made myself do my housework FIRST! Now, my house is nice and clean...well, as clean as it's gonna get anyway, so now I can sit down and relax and read the blogs without feeling guilty! I still need to do some budgeting and grocery shopping today, but I enjoy doing those things so I don't have to push myself to get them done.

Have a great weekend everybody! I'm looking forward to getting caught up with everybody this weekend!