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Archive for June, 2009

Lots and lots of chicken

June 16th, 2009 at 05:12 pm

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 15th, 2009 at 07:00 pm

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 13th, 2009 at 05:58 pm

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 04:46 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 10th, 2009 at 05:26 pm

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 7th, 2009 at 05:13 pm

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 04:44 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 12:10 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 4th, 2009 at 06:04 pm

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 3rd, 2009 at 06:31 pm

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 2nd, 2009 at 05:49 pm

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 1st, 2009 at 05:56 pm

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