Saturday, January 30, 2010

Frugal All Around the House Roundup

Here are some links to some creative, practical, and fun frugalities. (Say that five times fast!) Enjoy!

  1. So you've watched all those chefs on The Food Network use all that fancy equipment and never thought you could do the same? Think again, and check out Cooking Sous Vide "the DIY way" 
  2. 9 Ways to Encourage your Kids to live Simply - We've done this! Now if I could only get our preteen and teenager to put away those wooden blocks. Talk about the ultimate creative play toy!
  3. What's better than Apple Cinnamon Granola on these cold winter mornings?
  4. If you're wondering, Frugal Dad explains: Should I Save for Retirement While in Debt?
  5. Check out this fun project where even your deformed silverware can become art! - Make Your Own "Bent Objects!"
Happy reading!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Flurry of Activity Tonight...

Tonight, I'm working on costumes for my younger son's play (must be done in a week!). Also going on tonight is preparations for my younger son's Cub Scout Pack's annual Pinewood Derby. So there has been lots of sanding, painting, glueing so far. Tonight I hope to finish sewing up one of the costume pieces.

Earlier today, my first trip to the fabric store in over a year left me in shock. Patterns cost how much? And the fabric price! If only I could have found something ready-made, I would have spent a fraction of the cost. Not from a lack of looking -- I've been frequenting the thrift stores about once a week for the past month or so. I guess I was unlucky. Sadly, I'd have to say that my fabric store purchases qualified as a frugal FOUL. Way too much money spent. It was a lesson for me!

The good news is that I will be able to use the pattern for other useful clothes. If I shop carefully for the fabric, I'll definitely get more use from that pattern. I didn't buy any thread as I already have some that I'm sure will be close enough. No buttons or zippers, so I saved money by choosing a pattern without those extra construction costs. With those choices in mind, it might not turn out that I wasted too much money. But looking at my receipt, I'm still not so sure!

Friday Freebies - Consumer Handbook

Are you concerned about identity theft? Curious about a safety recall? Wonder if you should lease or buy your next car? Need help to file a complaint against a company? There is FREE information available on these consumer topics and more. Check out They cover not only these consumer topics, but much more. There is also a FREE Consumer Handbook available. If you'd like you can get multiple copies for your organization. It's available in spanish as well as english.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Science Fair Fun

Volcanoes, ice, plants, popcorn, root beer -- you name the subject, it was probably covered in our school's science fair this evening. What a great opportunity for the students to explore something they are interested in -- in a way they don't often get a chance. The variety of projects and how they were represented was amazing! It was wonderful to see all that creativity linked with the "pedestrian" scientific method. What most impressed me were the number of projects that used common, household items. The science of what surrounds us every day is just as fascinating as anything else.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Catapults and Menu Planning Monday

Monday again! Tonight we had a lot of fun building catapults with the Webelos. The scouts had great fun trying out different designs and shooting marshmallows towards (and sometimes into!) the targets. Lots and lots of fun!

I almost forgot to post my meal plan for this week, but here it is!

Monday - Turkey Chili and cornbread

Tuesday - Gobi Dal (lentils and cauliflower) with rice

Wednesday - Chicken pot pie

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Homemade pizza night

Saturday - Harvest pork stew with butternut squash, apples, potatoes, and carrots

Sunday - Split pea soup

I'm going with warm, comforting meals, as it's supposed to be another rainy and cold week. Have fun planning your menus this week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reuse those Greeting Cards for a Good Cause

If you're like me you hate to through out those beautiful cards you receive, either from the recent holidays, or from birthdays and thank you's. Here's a great way you can support a good cause and find new life for those cards. Between now and February 28th, St. Jude's Ranch is looking for your card donations for their Recycled Card Program. The children remake card fronts into new cards you can buy to support the efforts of St. Jude's Ranch. All you need to do is remove the backs from your cards and mail them to:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005
Thanks for supporting abused, neglected, and abandoned children and families through this program.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Frugal Cook's Essentials - Tongs

"Essentials" will be the place where I'll talk about essential tools for my (and maybe your!) frugal life. We're going to start with an item that's now an essential in our kitchen.

Tongs - I've only owned a good pair of these for about a year. Now, I use them almost every day! Sauteeing, turning, picking things up big and small -- lots of uses for these! Make sure to get a pair that has the coating on the tips and also in the handle area. This protects your cookware from scratching, and makes them comfortable to hold, even while you're working in a hot pan. These are an inexpensive yet essential addition to your kitchen tools.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Freebies - Free CPR Training in the SF Bay Area

If you're lucky enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you have the following fabulous freebie available coming up in March. The American Red Cross will offer free CPR training in 10 Bay Area locations on Saturday, March 13, 2010. Classes will include adult and child CPR, care for choking victims, and information about 911 and staying safe in an emergency. Advanced registration is required. Check out the CPR Saturday link from the American Red Cross for more information. If you're not in the area covered, check out for training programs in your area.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Yes, You Can

I'm sure you read the title of this and thought, what was the question? Frankly, it doesn't matter, because you CAN do whatever you set your mind to doing or learning.

Many years ago when I was first working, we needed someone to maintain and fix the computers in our group. As it turned out, it wasn't possible for anyone to come in to work on them. We had to learn it for ourselves. It was fascinating to me -- computers are very logical (well, mostly!) and solving problems was like solving a puzzle. I got good at it.

In the past 10 years, I've spent time volunteering using these skills I learned not just out of necessity, but because I found out I enjoyed it. With a degree in Chemical Engineering, I never thought working with computers would be something I would love doing. But here I am!

Making the choice to live frugally, either by choice or necessity, is a great opportunity. There are so many skills that we pay other people to do for us, that you may think you can't do. But guess what, you can! In the process, you might even discover that not only can you do something new, but you might even discover something you really love doing. Cooking, sewing, house repair, gardening, landscaping, money management, computer and technology maintenance... the list goes on. Which one will you try?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bye Bye Shed!

We have a lot of work to get out garden going this year. We'll be establishing it in a brand new place, with better sun than the last place I planted. Unfortunately, in this most excellent spot for our garden, sits the shed we built for temporary storage while our cottage was knocked down and rebuilt.

Now, all that work is done, so it's time for the shed to go! My husband put it on Craigslist and didn't have trouble finding a buyer for it. He offered to move it and set it up at the new location for some extra cash, so that's what he'll be doing when the rain lets up in our area. Have I mentioned how much we love Craigslist? It has helped us bring in some much needed cash lately as unemployment has run out, and still no job prospects in my husband's field.

I can't wait to actually see the space we'll have, and not just on paper! The shed has been there for about 7 years -- it will be nice to have it gone!  Next step - drag out all of our seed starting flats, and take inventory on what we need to get that part moving forward!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

One of the best way to control your grocery budget is to plan ahead. Put together a basic list to draw from -- dishes your family likes, are budget friendly, and take advantage of items on sale. This week, I have meetings two nights, so I want to make sure those nights are easy! I have some great veggies from the Farmer's Market that I want to use early on in the week. In addition, make sure you've got at least one extra meal you can pull together with pantry and/or freezer items if your week changes (happens a lot around here!)

Here's my plan for this week:

Monday: Roasted veggies (beets, butternut squash, onion) and pulled pork sandwiches

Tuesday: Chicken and cauliflower curry

Wednesday: Spaghetti, meatballs, french bread (homemade, in freezer)

Thursday: Bean and Cheese Burritos (make a big pot of refried beans in the crockpot) with salad

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Leftovers or Chili with cornbread

Sunday: Broccoli Soup

Perfect menu for our wet and rainy weather this week!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Frugal Foul - Yeast Packets

If you're interested in making your own yeast bread, there is one item whose cost may catch you by surprise. That would be those little yeast packets they sell in the supermarket. Our local grocery store sells the 3-packs of 0.25 ounces of yeast (either Active Dry or Rapid Rise) for $1.69. As most bread recipes call for one of these packets, using one bought from our local grocery store would mean you would have spent $0.56 JUST for the yeast for one loaf of bread!

Compare that to a 4ounce jar sold in some stores. Some of our local groceries sell these for $7.69. Buying these, it would cost you $0.48 for that 0.25 ounces required for a loaf of bread. That's almost as much as the packets -- still a LOT of money, just for the yeast.

Luckily, you can get it much cheaper. Our local Costco sells 32 ounces (2lbs) for $3.69. Using this Active Dry yeast, I spend only $0.03 on the yeast for a loaf of bread. I've read that Sam's Club also carries a similar item for a similar price. Also, try local stores that carry a variety of baking flours.

So stay far, far away from those packets. Buy in bulk, and keep most of the package in your freezer. I keep a small amount in a glass jar in my refrigerator, refilling from the freezer as needed.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Great Garden Planning Resources

As this is the first time we've done an extensive garden (more than a few kinds of plantings) for a number of years, I was looking for some new tools to make it easier for me to plan. Luckily, I found some nice resources from the following:

1. Get an overall view of what you can go throughout the year with Planting Calendars at They have planting calendars for zones 3 though 10. Don't know your zone? You can look it up here at the National Gardening Association's web site. You'll just need your zip code!

2. Plan your garden with Gardener's Supply online garden planning tool. Note: this web site also has some preplanned gardens. Check them out for ideas!

3. Your state or local Cooperative Extension. This is a fabulous resource for every gardener! At the web page for our county's cooperative extension, I found planting calendars and guidelines for both cool and warm season vegetables. I also found recommendations for varieties, tips for growing in our area, free workshops, and more.

4. Your local library. Find a book that is the best fit for your gardening goals!

5. Local Demonstration Gardens and Home Centers. Check these out for classes, inspiration, and support in all your gardening endeavors.

Now, with all that great information, it's time to cuddle up with a seed catalog!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Freebies - Freecycle

Looking for freebies? Well, you probably won't have to look much farther than your own neighborhood. Check out  Freecycle. This is a nonprofit organization with groups all over the world. This is a forum for you to post your freebies; as well as a place for you to find things other people are ready to pass on to a new home. The kinds of items vary from electronics, toys, baby items, clothing, household items, furniture... the possibilities are endless! Here's the blurb from their website:
Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,873 groups with 6,889,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!
First, you will need to sign up for an account. When you've got an account, find your local group, and join in! These are moderated email lists, so you won't have to worry about spam. I like that these groups help people find new homes for items in your own community. Check it out!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Frugal Foul - Justice

I spent 10 hours in the past two days bogged down in our criminal justice system. This was the first time I have been involved in a trial. While interesting and educational, overall I deem what I witnessed to be a huge FRUGAL FOUL. The process was inefficient and wasteful of so many peoples' time -- at times painfully so. The opportunities for improvement appeared vast. Certainly a fair trial can be conducted without so much waste. When I started adding up the cost of all the lawyers and other staff, plus the lost wages of all the people, the numbers become staggering. Surely, there must be a better way.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just when the sauce ran out...

Just this week, we've used up all the tomato sauce I made from tomatoes from our CSA and that I got onsale during the summer. I was saying how sad it was that it was all gone -- I enjoy making out own spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce JUST the way we like it! Well, someone from Safeway must have been listening. Starting today, through next Tuesday, our local Safeway has Roma (paste) tomatoes for 47cents a pound. I sent hubby to buy 10lbs today. If I get those processed, I'll send him for more :) With spaghetti sauce costs around $3 a jar, there is no comparison to homemade, either in taste or cost.

If you're curious about how to make your own sauce from tomatoes, check out this tomato sauce making picture essay by our CSA. It's SUPER easy! And while it's nice to use a food mill, you don't need one. You can process the sauce in your food processor or use a hand blender, depending on the type of sauce you like. The nice thing is, you make it the way YOU want it to be!

We've also stocked up on canned tomato soup (this is a great emergency food item) as they had our store brand for 50cents a can. This can be used in so many more ways than soup, so it makes a great addition to your preparedness pantry. And that is certainly on my mind, with a number of small earthquakes locally and other events around the world.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meal planning Monday - January 11th

I don't usually plan my meals on Monday, but it sounded good, right?

Actually, I do plan my meals weekly, most often on Sundays. It's usually a laid-back day, so I can sit and look through what I've got on hand, what's on sale, and combine those with our schedule to determine what's the best fit for each day. I recommend that you plan meals on days that make sense for YOU! I know many people who plan biweekly or even monthly. I wish I was that organized!

This week I'm starting off today on-call for jury duty. I'm also scheduled to take an exam. And finally, we've got a Cub Scout meeting tonight. So, let's make sure that tonight's dinner is EASY, shall we? Wednesday is another really busy day around our house. Friday night is our now-traditional homemade pizza night. In the frig we've got beets, turnips, lettuce, carrots, and celery. You'll notice that some of these are "cascading meals" -- they are using ingredients from previous cooking, in my case the ham and turkey. Or, cook extra for another meal (I made two quiches one day last week -- one went into the freezer). This is a great way to stretch your money, plus get the most out of your ingredients AND your time. So, here's the plan:

  • Sunday (last night): beet greens quiche (from freezer)
  • Monday: Lentil soup with ham (already in the crockpot)
  • Tuesday: Beef stew
  • Wednesday: Bulgar pilaf/chickpeas/apricots
  • Thursday: spaghetti with meatballs, french bread (extra loaf made earlier is in the freezer), salad
  • Friday: Pizza night -- ham(freezer) and pineapple, BBQ/turkey(freezer) and onion
  • Saturday: Broccoli soup, or leftovers
  • Sunday: mashed potatoes and turnips, salad, chicken

Also, one day this week I'll make broth. I save all my veggie trimmings and pop them in a bag in my freezer. Every couple weeks, they all go into a pot to simmer for an hour or two. If I have bones I'll put those in too. If not, it's vegetable broth. Strain and freeze if you won't be using it immediately. Use the broth in place of water in any recipe!

That takes us through next week. So all I have to shop for is some broccoli and some fruit. I'll make that trip when we run out of milk (with a 14 year old in the house, that's never that far off!). Take advantage of any reduced price items whenever you're in the store. Make sure you know where your grocery store puts it's "bargain" items for sale - meats, bread, fruit, discontinued items. Poke around and see what you can find! Our local store has them spread around in different places, depending on the item. I make sure to swing by those locations whenever I'm there!

Make a plan, and have fun!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Out with the Old, in with the New

Since it's a new year, there's a lot of this going on. New Years resolutions, new starts, new ideas. Well, I'm not talking about any of those things. In the first couple weeks of this year, we have been literally getting the "old" OUT. And we're doing it with the help of Craigslist.

If you're lucky enough to live in a city where Craigslist has established it's online forums, you've probably heard of it. If you haven't, it's a web-based, local classified advertising and discussion forum. And, it's (mostly) free! The only paid advertisements are for job postings, brokered NYC apartments, adult and therapeutic services. Unless you're looking to sell any of those, you won't pay a penny to buy or sell anything you list.

So what can you sell (or buy) on Craigslist? Pretty much anything. Books, bikes, toys, clothing, furniture, electronics... the list goes on. We've advertised our garage sales, bought lawn furniture, sold things the kids have outgrown (bikes are something we're working on right now!), sold a HUGE persian rug, posted "wanted" ads when we were looking for something and couldn't find it, and even given away things we don't need. Yep, there's a FREE section.

If you're in the market for something in particular, you can browse the ads, or put in your own "wanted" posting. I watch the "free" listings for materials we might use for cub scouts, furniture the boys need, and plants (still working on that illusive green thumb!). We still have a too-small boys bike to sell -- with that money we'll buy a new one for my older son.

A couple things to remember with Craigslist -- only do cash sales and purchases with people locally. It's no secret that people will try to take advantage of the fact that it's anonymous. Use a separate email address -- I use a separate gmail address and just have it forwarded to my regular address so I don't have to check two. As long as it's not a free item you're unwilling to have/leave on the porch, set up a neutral, convenient meeting location. Just use common sense and be safe! And, of course, have fun!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Great Books, all for Free

Yes, FREE.

In fact, there are 30,000 free ebooks available, all from one site. Where, you ask??? Check out Project Gutenberg. From humble beginnings, this volunteer project has grown. Not only do they offer ebooks online, but also audio books, downloadable CDs/DVDs, and digitized sheet music. You'll also find links to a number of other sites which offer free ebooks.

Do they really have anything worth reading for free? How about William Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, or Jules Verne? Of course there are many, MANY more authors included on the site. I encourage you to take a few minutes to browse around and see for yourself all the great literature available to you.

You might be wondering, what do I need to read all this electronic literature? With formats including ePub, Mobipocket, HTML and simple text formats, you can read these on your PC, iPhone, Kindle, Sony Reader, other mobile phones, gaming system, mp3 player, or other portable devices. With that many options, you're sure to have access to at least one device capable of displaying these ebooks.

Project Gutenberg is a purely volunteer endeavor. You can help by donating, or check out the volunteering page for more information.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Earthquake from Scratch

The earth has been movin' and shakin' this week near where we live. With three earthquakes over 3.0 about 15 miles away, and a myriad of them much too small to be felt, it's a good reminder to check our emergency supplies.

Examining our pantry and food storage, it's evident that being unemployed for almost a year has had a significant impact. One thing I notice is that we don't have nearly as much prepared items. In fact, most of our food storage is in the form of basic staples. The difference is that my ability to put together easy meals from these basic foodstuffs is so much better than a year ago! This is what I've gained by cooking almost every meal from scratch... you can do it! Sometimes my family is amazed what I can make. And actually, it's not that amazing, I was just "stuck" and frankly not very confident about using a lot of prepared (expensive!) ingredients. Almost a year later and things certainly have changed at our house. Of course there is an occasional raised eyebrow by the boys, but in the end there are no complaints!

Now in the case of an emergency like a significant earthquake (or other natural or other disaster), you WILL want to have some preprepared items on hand in your 72 hour kit. You'll need the comfort and ease of these kinds of foods to get you and your family through a very difficult time. For the rest of your storage, simply use your pantry ingredients with a good set of meal plans on how these ingredients can be used. These are foods your family likes, not mine or anyone else's! My boys love chili, so we store ingredients for that. I also store tomatoes of various forms and pasta. Pasta can be cooked right in a "sauce" made from canned tomatoes. Of course, if your family enjoys camping, any "camp food" works! See if you can come up with about 20 meals you can make just from your pantry. Keep this list!

If you're looking for inspiration for your meal list, check out Utah State University's Food Storage Cooking School. This is a great, free resource for emergency preparedness as well as helping you to build your pantry. I encourage you to read their section on making a 72 Hour Home Emergency Kit if you don't already have one. In addition, their "Use it or Lose it" sections will give you ideas on how to use your food storage items in your normal cooking routines. If you start with meal plans that your family enjoys, you will be successful at incorporating food storage and preparedness into your home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top NON Essential Kitchen Tools

You know you've got them. Kitchen tools you NEVER use. What's hiding in the back or cluttering up your utensil drawer? Here are some I recently purged from ours!
  • Strawberry Hullers (yes, I had more than one!) - paring knife, 'nuff said.
  • Cheap nonstick cookware - money wasted, lessons learned!
  • Garlic press - I'll chop it myself, thanks, and save the cleaning nightmare!
  • Flour sifter - this one just never worked!
  • Egg separator - why?
  • Tea Bag Squeezer - spoons work!
  • Corn Holders - ok, my kids actually loved these. They will have to do without, these were old and nasty!
We have a lot more room in the utensil drawer -- you can find what you need! Try looking through your utensil drawer(s?) and see what you can find.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The $9 Tux

For only nine dollars, we put together this outfit for my younger son for a holiday event. Here's how we did it! First, the pants were hand-me-downs from our older son. That's a great start.

Next, the jacket. We didn't have anything that would fit my son, so off to my favorite Salvation Army we went (this is the biggest one in our area, and has a great selection!). We looked at suits and jackets, but the only one that fit was this tuxedo jacket -- price = $4. Ok, these would be perfect with the tuxedo pants we already had. But what about a shirt? That store didn't have any tuxedo shirts. There was another customer nearby also trying on jackets. This helpful gentleman suggested we try a Goodwill store not far away, as he had seen tuxedo shirts there. With a "thank you" we were off to this other store after paying for the jacket. In my mind I was thinking of the next step, what would we do if we couldn't find a shirt?

We rolled up and it was pouring rain. The store looked promising though, it was a large Goodwill. We ran inside and headed to the mens section. We did, in fact, find quite a few tuxedo shirts. Only one in my son's size though, so after trying it on, he was very excited that it fit. $5 for the shirt, which was brand new! I'll definitely be continuing to shop in those stores. Great selection, quality merchandise, and good prices. It's a win!

The finishing touch was the tie, which was borrowed from my husband (a hand-me-down from his great uncle). The outfit was complete. My son looked fabulous and had a great time at the event. I wouldn't be surprised if this outfit is worn again next Halloween, as he spent all day introducing himself as James Bond!

Need something? Check out your local secondhand stores.

Photo copyright V. E.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 4, 2010

Frugal Frolic's Fantastic Cookbook and Web Recipe Resources List

Ok, so I've talked about stocking a pantry, meal planning... but what if you need a little inspiration? I know that *I* do quite often! Well, here's a little help. This is a list of print and web resources for frugal cooks of all types. These are resources that will help you be successful! I especially like the web sites where you can plug in the ingredients you have, and it gives you recipe ideas for those items. Note: This is a work in progress -- if you have a resource you think belongs on this list, thank in advance for letting me know by making a comment! Thanks, and enjoy!

5 Recipe/Cookbooks to Help you Put Dinner on the Table and Keep More Money in your Pocket:

Family Feasts for $75 a week - guidance on shopping, cooking and recipes to save your family money.

Healthy Meals for Less -- a variety of good, easy recipes that are good for you, and less than a dollar a serving.

More-With-Less Cookbook -- Recipes from a Mennonite kitchen that support your health and protect the planet's limited resources, all at the same time.

Saving Dinner-- Weekly menus, shopping lists and recipes to help you answer the question, "What's for dinner???"

Semi-Homemade Money-Saving Slow-Cooking-- Your slow cooker is your ally in saving money on meals.

Recipe/Cooking information Web Sites:

All Recipes: – use Advanced search (from main web page, at the top click More ->>Advanced search in the menu that pops up). Search by ingredients, cuisine, cooking method, meal, preparation time, and more.

Supercook: --  Here's a web site made specifically to help you find recipes to make with what you have on hand. "Add" the ingredients you have and see all the possibilities!

Recipezaar: - Click the radio button for "Ingredients" to find recipes specific to the ingredients you'd like to use.

Epicurious: - Find Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetit Magazine recipes. Under Articles and Guides, click on Everyday Cooking to find two months' worth of dinner menu plans.

Food Network: – Want to know how your favorite cook on the Food Network made that great looking dish? Find it here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Have Headset, Will Travel for only $3

If you live in California or one of the five other states with bans on using your cell phone handset while driving, but still don't have a handsfree device, here's your chance. Today, is selling a Samsung Bluetooth Headset for $17.99 + $5 shipping. There is a $20 rebate. One per customer! 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Farmer’s Market

This morning, since the "boys" are all off for some snow play, I had the opportunity to venture down to our local farmer's market to see what wonderful fresh produce I could pick up for this coming week. Of course, the danger in attending this great weekly event is the yummy baked goods, sausages, and other items for sale, which are not in my budget. Finding a vendor with the items I was looking for, I picked a couple bunches of lovely looking beets with their greens, and a small bag of baby greens. If you buy beets like this, cut the greens from the beets right away, about an inch above the roots. The greens should be used as soon as possible. Mine will go into a pair of beet green quiches. The beets will probably get roasted, though I may make a raw shredded beet and carrot salad with a ginger vinaigrette dressing. The salad will go along with our spaghetti night.

If you have a local farmer's market, I highly recommend you check it out. The challenge, for those of us on a budget, is to resist what's outside that budget. Go with some idea of what you're looking for, and "stay on target". This is a great way to support your local farmers, avoid buying food that's been shipped thousands of miles, buy produce in season, and save money. The farmer's market is just one way we do all of those things. It's a win all the way around.

Now, off to finish my menu plan for the week!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! Now, Let’s Get Started…

… being frugal, of course! Where to start?

Keep Track

Starting or improving your frugal living choice can only begin when you know from whence you've come. That is, what the heck am I spending all this money on, anyway? So, you need to keep track. Start today! Write down everything you spend money on. I mean absolutely EVERYTHING! Some things will be easy. You've got your mortgage bill, utility bill, canceled checks. But what about the small stuff? Don't forget that quarter for the parking meter, that cup of coffee, or that tip that you paid for lunch. Cash is the most difficult to keep track of compared to ATM, checks or credit cards, and it does ADD UP! If they offer a receipt, take it! If they don't offer, ask for one. Keep ALL of your receipts. If you don't have a receipt, keep an index card, small notebook, or use your PDA to keep track of expenses without receipts.

Write it Down

So what do you do with all these receipts and records? Here's where you have choices, based on how comfortable you are with computer software. The simplest way to consolidate your spending is to make a chart. Use a piece of paper, a spreadsheet program, or software like Quicken. At a minimum, you will need a column for each week, with a list of categories. Write down all the expenses you've kept track of above in the appropriate places. Include the following:

  • Food (don't forget coffee, snacks for the kids, fast food, restaurants, etc.)
  • Clothes
  • Household Items (cleaning products)
  • Medical (prescriptions, over the counter items)
  • Automobile expenses (gasoline, oil, tolls, repairs)
  • Education (classes, other)
  • Entertainment (Books, movies, museums, travel, hobby items, etc.)
  • Gifts
  • Miscellaneous (anything that doesn't fit anywhere else)

Where is it Going?

Do your best to keep track of these expenses for a month. As the month goes along, you'll begin to see the trends in your spending. It may only take a week (or even a day!) for you to see how you can make changes to your spending habits.
Related Posts with Thumbnails