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Lots and lots of chicken

June 17th, 2009 at 12:12 am

I love it when I accomplish something that will save me money in the long run. Today I took advantage of a great sale on boneless skinless chicken breast. I had money left in the food budget, so I bought a lot!

I sliced up some chicken into nugget-size pieces and froze them.

I sliced up some chicken into strips for stir-fry and froze them.

I baked lots of chicken in chicken broth. Then I shredded some chicken for tacos, quesadillas, and fajitas. And froze all the shredded chicken.

Then I diced some cooked chicken to be sued for fettucini and whatever other recipes I find. And that's frozen too.

Yep, I'm very excited about the great deal on chicken - and about prepping the chicken into meal-size portions for the upcoming weeks ahead.

The extra time and effort it took today will definitely save me money in the future. Menu planning will be so easy.

Monday Menu Plan

June 16th, 2009 at 02:00 am

In an effort to control my grocery spending, I've started planning my weekly menus before doing grocery shopping. (Just like my mom used to do years ago....)

Monday - leftover beef tips (from shish kabobs) with rice

Tuesday - grilled hot dogs & baked beans

Wednesday - bbq chicken drumsticks

Thursday - baked chicken tenders

Friday - chicken alfredo

Saturday - bbq spare ribs

Sunday - pizza

Energy Star

June 14th, 2009 at 12:58 am

I was reading Woman's Day magazine today and there was an interesting article called "Slash Your Energy Bill". Now, I personally believe we already do everything possible to slash our bill, so I read the article hoping to glean another bit of information.

The article suggested taking a "Home Energy Audit". It took just 5 minutes - once I gathered all the necessary information.

Just visit EnergyStar.gov, click on "Home Energy Audits" and use the "ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick"

The information you need -
Zipcode
Number of people living in the house
Square footage
Number of kwh electricity used for the past 12 months
Cost of electric usage for the past 12 months

I also needed -
Number of gallons of propane delivered in the past 12 months
Cost of propane delivered in the past 12 months.

The results were startling. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the best, we rated 3.2! How sad is that??

I will revisit this website in six months and see if we have improved any.

Jump Start Successful

June 11th, 2009 at 11:46 pm

I lost steam in working towards my financial goals - and received a lot of support. So thank you everyone for jump starting me!

Our savings account has stalled at just $1,000 and some change. Now it's time to shift our savings into high gear and convert that baby emergency fund into a fully funded emergency fund.

In playing around with figures tonight, I realized I can reach my goal of $15,000 by the end of 2009 if I put away $2,000 every month. Yes, I could have $15,000 in the bank after seven months!

I should say that $2,000 a month is a lot of money for me. It's still going to be a little tight. And seven months isn't that long - just a little more than 200 days. I can do anything for just 200 days. Right?

So, I'm giving myself seven months to build this emergency fund to $15,000. Just seven months. It's not forever. Just seven months. Then I can move to baby step #4. Just seven months.

Current savings: $1,000
06/30/09 goal: $3,000
07/31/09 goal: $5,000
08/31/09 goal: $7,000
09/30/09 goal: $9,000
10/31/09 goal: $11,000
11/30/09 goal: $13,000
12/31/09 goal: $15,000


Losing steam....

June 11th, 2009 at 12:26 am

You would think that after spending almost four years paying off all our credit cards and loans, that we would just sail right into building our 3 to 6 month emergency fund. But that's not the case. It seems we have hit the brakes and are losing steam.

Don't misunderstand - we are still debt free and we will NEVER pick up another credit card again.

But we should be using that "debt snowball" to build our emergency fund, and we're not. We went crazy spending cash recently. Spent $2500 on replacement windows. Spent another $2200 on a built-in entertainment center. Gave $700 to our son to help him out. All this in a matter of months!

We have to get back into the Dave Ramsey mindset and build that emergency fund NOW.

If I can just remember WHY I started these Baby Steps in the first place, perhaps I can get my steam back.

Here are some things I am looking forward to when we reach baby step #7 -

... Buying a car with air conditioning (or maybe even a convertible)
... Crocheting for charity using exotic specialty yarns
... Getting a personal trainer and train for a marathon
... Buying a house on the lake
... Taking my kids and grandkids on a cruise
... Hiring people to do the things I don't like to do - mowing the lawns, shoveling the driveways, painting the house, cleaning the gutters, etc.
... Traveling around the U.S.
... Seeing a hockey game from one of the box suites

Yes, there are a lot of things I would love to do in the future. I need to buckle down and get back to saving. NOW.

June Goals - progress

June 8th, 2009 at 12:13 am

Today we hosted a cookout for some good friends - and we had a great time. I can now check off two more items from my June goals.

#4 Get lawn chairs for the cookout. Well, we decided to use our existing folding chairs and save money. Maybe we'll buy lawn chairs at a later date, perhaps on clearance at season-end. But folding chairs worked just as fine as lawn chairs today and no one complained.

#5 Host a cookout for our friends. We had a great cookout today and now I have a ton of food in the fridge! Looks like I will have to redo the menu plan for the week and use up some of these leftovers.

The rest of my June goals are going great. I've been planning menus and avoiding the enticing refrigerated icy cold high-priced beverages at the cash registers.

Father's Day Cards

June 7th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

It's amazing how much greeting cards cost these days. I am hoping to save money by making my own cards this year.

I just completed two cards for Father's Day - one for my dad and one for my dad-in-law.
I was able to use supplies in my scraproom and some drill bits from hubby's workshop.

I actually got this idea from a Home Depot gift card I recently saw. I am so excited to create something for these two wonderful men in my life - and save money too, of course! The cards have the same sentiment - "Go a little BIT crazy Dad" with small drill bit attached.


Menu Planning

June 6th, 2009 at 07:10 pm

One of my goals for June was to Plan menus for the entire month. While playing around on the internet (my favorite hobby), I came across a FREE website called The Tasty Planner.

It's probably one of those sites that has been around forever, but to me it's a new discovery.

I've been playing around with it and there are a lot of features that I like.
(1) The menu plan can be added to my Google calendar
(2) An itemized grocery list is created with the recipes for the menu plan
(3) There are lots of recipes already included and it's SO easy to add new recipes. (We're going to have hotdogs one night, so I created a "recipe" for hotdogs. Ingredients - hotdogs, rolls, ketchup, mustard, relish, celery salt. Now all those items will show up on the grocery list.)
(4) There's a recipe box where you can store your favorite recipes.

So, I planned my menu for the week and printed my shopping list. Hopefully this will cut down on the number of shopping trips I make during the week.

My Goals for June

June 5th, 2009 at 01:04 am

My Ten Goals for June 2009


1. Visit with our new financial advisor
2. List 10 items on Craig's List and/or eBay
3. Get two auto insurance quotes to compare to existing policy scheduled to renew July 7th
4. Get lawn chairs for cook-out on the 7th
5. Host cook-out for friends on the 7th
6. Make Father's Day cards for dad and dad-in-law, and maybe hubby too
7. Stain all three decks (right side, back, and left side)
8. Plan menus for the entire month
9. Start a compost bin
10. Avoid the icy cold beverages on sale at the registers when out shopping


Cleaning House and Garden

June 4th, 2009 at 01:31 am

Today is the second day in a row that I didn't spend a penny! That's not easy for a shopaholic like me.

I started decluttering and made a pile of books and hockey paraphernalia to sell on eBay and Craig's List. Actually listing them to sell will be tomorrow's project.

I did a lot of work in the garden today - trying to tame some overgrown forsythias in the back yard. I have a few dozen forsythia cuttings in water right now. I'm hoping they'll take root and I can plant them along the driveway and make a nice hedge.

I've also spent a lot of time today gathering statements from our 401(k) and IRA accounts. We have a meeting with a financial advisor on Friday and I want to have everything ready. I'm very nervous about this meeting. I just don't know what to expect; but I really do want to now our future financial outlook. It could be interesting.

Keeping the Change - or not?

June 3rd, 2009 at 12:49 am

I enrolled in the Bank of America Keep the Change program when it started. I always noticed that the transfer of the "change" isn't immediate. The "change" they deduct from your checking account is held one business day before returning it to you into your savings account. (I just called Customer Service to confirm that.)

If the bank "Keeps the Change" from all their customers for one business day, that's a great deal for them. But is it a great deal for the consumer?

When the program started, all the Keep the Change transfers were matched at 100%. But now the match is just 5% of the transfers.

Is Keep the Change really worth it?

Monday's Frugal Happenings

June 2nd, 2009 at 12:56 am

Monday's frugal triumphs

I hung clothes outside on the line. Who would have thought I would be excited about laundry? But every time I hang a load of clothes outside I get so excited about saving that electricity on the dryer.

I rented a movie from Redbox today using the code that was sent to my phone this morning. Free entertainment tonight! (I rented "Bride Wars"; not much of a selection when I went this afternoon.)

.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

Monday's frugal oops

I really need to plan menus to make fewer trips to the grocery store. Even though I only picked up what was on my list (to make dinner tonight), I still used gas to get there - not to mention all that time I spent shopping that I could have been spent gardening.

So here's my menu for the week. Since I'm going to do my "big" grocery shopping on Friday, I have to work around what I already have in the house to get through the week

Mon - elbow casserole
Tue - sweet & sour chicken in the crockpot
Wed - hotdogs (cookout!) & pasta salad
Thu - sloppy joes
Fri - baked chicken salsa

.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

Monday's spending

$3.48 Groceries - again


Sunday's Frugal Triumphs & Ooops

June 1st, 2009 at 12:26 am

Sunday's spending

$xx.xx Weekly tithe to the church
$28.48 Groceries (and I still cash left in the envelope for the week!)


.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

Sunday's frugal triumphs

I picked up an exercise ball from Freecycle today. It didn't look like much, but hubby inflated it and now it's perfect. I'll probably use it a few months and then Freecycle it back into the world. I don't stick to exercise routines for long.

I also picked up some garden pots from another freecycler.

Oh - I found a dime in the parking lot of the grocery store! I'm going to have to start of jar for "FOUND MONEY" so it doesn't get mixed with my other change. (I'm just curious to see how much money I do find.)

I was able to hang another load of laundry on the line before the rain came.

I drank two bottles of water which meant two less cans of soda today. (I keep water bottles in the fridge, but I hardly ever grab water when I want a drink.)

.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

Sunday's frugal oops

I am addicted to Diet Coke/Pepsi. I drink it non-stop from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. (It's the reason I have such bad teeth now.) I have a habit of reaching for a soda whenever I'm at the checkout. The soda coolers are there. The sodas are icy cold. And even if I'm not thirsty, I grab one. Grocery shopping, Home Depot, Wal-Mart. It doesn't matter where. I always grab a soda as I leave.

So today, I paid $1.39 for a 20-oz bottle of diet coke. And I didn't even drink half of it by the time I got home. Why do I do that? Surely I can go without a soda for the 15 minute drive home!

Saturday's Frugal Triumphs

May 31st, 2009 at 12:54 am

Saturday's Spendings

$19.95 Oil change for hubby's van
$30.00 Replenish EZ-Pass
$4.35 Potting soil

(1) Hubby can easily change the oil in my Jeep, but when it comes to his van, it's better to pay someone else to change the oil. (He's not as limber as he was 30 years ago! Smile )

(2) We depleted our balance in the EZ-Pass account when we drove to Philadelphia last weekend to visit our son. I had completely forgotten to budget this expense, but luckily there's enough money in the gas/repair account to draw from. EZ-Pass has now been added to the budget (quarterly expense).

(3) We needed more potting soil to transplant the rest of the pepper plants into the raised beds. Hubby was able to return some plumbing fixtures to Home Depot, so we used some of that refund to pay for the dirt. (And we still have $10 on a Home Depot card)

.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

Saturday's Frugal Triumphs

Avoided using the dryer today, and hung a load of laundry outside on the clothesline

Recycled more mini-blind slats into plant markers for the rest of the vegetable garden

Recycled 2-liter soda bottles into upside down pepper plant containers

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Ramblings

I'm excited that this is the first year I had my garden planted before June 1st! I have string beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, red potatoes, russet potatoes, habanero peppers, red bell peppers, leeks, chives, garlic, strawberries, and iceberg lettuce. I think I might splurge and get some squash and leaf lettuce with the rest of the money on the Home Depot card.

I'm also excited that I found SavingAdvice. The blogs and forums are so motivating! I may not post much, but I do read a lot.

YouData, Loose Change,

May 29th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Friday's spending:

$40.99 dog food
$130.00 plumber

The dog food should last about 3 weeks - we have two Chows.

The plumber was a budgeted expense and not an emergency. We needed to get hot water plumbed to the laundry room. A one time expense - thankfully!

.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

I signed up for YouData last month. Basically, they pay people to view ads. YouData deposits money into your Paypal account every Friday, paying you for the ads you viewed during the week. (I spend less than 5 minutes a day clicking on the ads.)

Being the last "payday" of the month, I just transferred my "earnings" of $2.33 from Paypal to my Bank account. That's a whole month of viewing ads at YouData. It's definitely nothing to brag about, but I do it anyways. Guess I could click on more ads in June! Smile

Total Added to Savings: $2.33

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Like just about everyone else, I toss my change into a jar at the end of the day. Usually, I bring my change to the local CoinStar machine and dump the change in and listen to that wonderful sound of money sorting. It's like being in Las Vegas and winning at the slot machines.

But the CoinStar machines in my area charge a coin counting fee of 8.9 cents per dollar. In the past, I avoid the fee by opting for an e-certificate to Amazon.com which waives the fee. But this isn't really saving me any money. I'm forever shopping on Amazon to find out what I can spend my e-certificates on. (I still have a balance of $9.04 at Amazon just waiting to be spent.)

Today, I stopped into my bank and asked their policy on depositing coins into my savings account. I discovered they only take rolled coins and I can bring them in whenever I want. And she even gave me some coin rollers.

Even though my change jar has a lot of coins, I was only able to roll $11 worth of coins. And that $11 is in my savings account as I type.... Smile

Total added to savings: $11.00

.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

I also listed a bunch of books on Craigs List. Hopefully they will sell and I can add to my savings.

Electric Bill

May 29th, 2009 at 11:34 am

Don't you just love it when you open your electric bill and discover it's less than you budgeted for?

I'm very excited right now. I just opened my electric bill and it's only $116. I had budgeted $164 this month; so that means I'm adding $48 to my savings! It's like extra cash.

Now I'm trying to figure out what I did different this month to bring the cost down so much. It's got me thinking of all sorts of things I can do reduce this bill even more.

Swagbucks

May 28th, 2009 at 08:57 pm

Today's Spending:

Dollar Store - $1.00 (mouthwash)
Market Basket - $32.58 (groceries)

.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

I ordered a $5 Amazon.com gift card with Swagbucks today. (I earn Swagbucks just by searching the internet!) This is my fourth gift card since March 2009. I should have it about 10 days.

.:*~*:.

Last week, I shortened my mini blinds and kept the slats. (They were 64" long and my windows were 48"). Today I recycled the slats into plant markers for my garden following this tutorial. Super easy - and best of all - free!

.:*~*:.

I also cooked up a huge pot of chicken lentil stew today. This will give us plenty of leftovers for lunches during the weeks ahead. (It freezes great.)

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