Friday, August 26, 2016

My Wants This Week

Every week I make a list of sale items I want to buy. I let it sit for a day or so and then look at it again. You notice I labeled it wants not needs. 

Doing this every week prevents me from buying things that I don't need. I have already started my list for items that are on sale next week. 

My list starting this past Sunday looked like the above list. But now it looks like this with everything crossed out that I decided not to buy.

I look long and hard at each item and debate with myself as to whether it will get purchased or not. This keeps me from purchasing wants that aren't needs 99% of the time.

Lets take a look at this week's list of Aldi's items. It started out with foods listed and nothing crossed out. Aldi's red seedless grapes are so sweet and yummy and are a snack that we can eat on our diet. We purchased some last week at the same price. We still have one bag that we are working on plus lots of other fruits leftover from the fruit bowl so they were not a need. We probably would not be able to eat them before they went bad. I already have some in the freezer for smoothies so they were not a necessity. Hence I crossed them off my list.

I also had chicken breasts at $ 1.49 a lb. on my list. It is a great price. However after looking at my freezer inventory, I still have about 15 lbs. of chicken breasts in the freezer. Also my freezer is pretty full. Could I squeeze in more chicken? Probably but I will save the room for something else that I might need like the chicken wings on sale next week. Football season is upon us and we do a lot of wings. I can't wait to cook them in the air fryer.

I also saw some pictures of new items at Dollar Tree on one of my facebook groups. So I wrote the items that I was interested in on my list. The 2 in one stylus got crossed off because I am a little leary that it would work with my tablet and I hate having to waste gas returning items.

The Sink Scents are strainers for the water going down your sink. They are supposed to smell nice. I hate certain scents plus they look cheap compared to my stainless steel one. I think I will continue to use mine and make my homemade lemon cleaner for my sink and garbage disposal. So they got crossed off.

They have lots of new plaques and framed pieces with cute sayings on them. I decided against buying one since my home is already decorated exactly as I want it. So I crossed them off the list.

They have number candles for birthday cakes. We have no birthdays to bake for until January. I was not going to make a special trip just for one candle. If I go to Dollar Tree in the next few months and they still have one, I will pick one up. So it got crossed off my list.

They have Fleischman's Simply Homemade Muffin and Bread Mixes. I really don't know why it made my list to begin with. Prepackaged food is a no no on Hubby's diet. My homemade where I can control the ingredients taste better anyhow. So it got crossed off the list.

I saw a good deal on paper plates on 225 for $14.98. Those are really nice heavy duty paper plates. I have not crossed it off my list yet. I am still arguing in my head. They would be so easy on busy cleaning and organizing days instead of washing dishes or loading them in the dishwasher. Would these be cheaper than washing the same amount of plates? I am not sure. I also know that using these are bad for the environment but I recycle. I have Amazon points to buy them with but I could use those points for something we really need.  I don't know yet whether I will buy them or cross them off.

Saving Star has an offer for a free Rice-A-Roni or Pasta Roni. I can get it at Top's. But Hubby can't eat these because they are prepackaged and loaded with salt. If he shouldn't eat them then neither should I. I want to keep us both healthy as long as I can. I also don't want to waste gasoline to pick up one item. So it got crossed off the list.

I am now working on my new list which is the first picture. It will probably be longer next week than this week because I am hoping to have more time to run errands next week. But my thinking doesn't change no matter how much time I have.

If I had just purchased all of the items on my list this week, I would have spent $ 23.00 plus some tax and the needed gasoline on items that were wants more than needs. I still might spend $ 14.98 on the plates but I am really fighting buying them. I will let you know next week if I did.

If you would like to see what is on my list each week and what I cross off and what I buy and my reasoning behind it, let me know by leaving a comment. I use my lists for motivation to spend as little as possible each week and be able to invest the money that I don't spend. 

I hope all of you have a safe and fun weekend.   

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Living Life On Your Own Terms

Are you living your life on your own terms? Do you get up every morning and know what you want and what is best for your family? Are you doing what it takes every single day to reach the goals that your family has?

Or are you following what someone outside your family is doing? Do you live your life doing what the Joneses are doing? Do you make your decision on what is best for your family based on what your friends are doing? Do you always say yes even if you don't want to? Do you always say yes even if you should say no because you can't afford it? Do you always say yes because you don't want anyone to know you can't afford it?

Are you buying whatever you want because you deserve it even though it puts you and your family in serious credit card debt? Do you go on elaborate vacations but then have to borrow money to pay for your property or school taxes or replace your washing machine or furnace? Do you live in the cycle of building up $80,000. in credit card debt and taking out a home equity loan to pay it off? Then charging the credit card debt up again and again.   

These are legitimate questions that you should be asking yourself and your family. There is no one more important than you and your family. There is nothing more important than saving for your family and your future.

If you can say yes to any of these questions, then it is time to rethink what you are doing and change them. 

Forget the Joneses! Forget the new BMW that showed up in their driveway yesterday. It may be leased or they may have huge payments that they can't afford.Or then again maybe they paid cash for it. But don't run out and get a new car just because they did. Buy a car that you can afford when you need one. The same goes for an inground pool. If you can pay cash for it and you have no debt, go for it. But if you buy one to keep up with the Joneses and have to take years of payments then you are hurting your bottom line. 

If your friends go out to restaurants or bars every weekend and expect you to go, ask yourself if you really want to do it and can you afford it?  Or would that money serve you and your family in a  better way? If you want to see these friends but don't want to spend $20. to $40. every weekend doing it, invite them to your house for a cheap dinner or dessert. I have found that they will be happy to come and even offer to bring a dish. There is no harm in telling friends that you don't want to go out since you are saving for a home, a car, college, retirement, etc.

Cut up the credit cards if you can't pay the full amount every month. Pay back what you owe and then never get yourself into that vicious cycle again. It won't be easy and may take a long period of time. But when you are debt free, you will have no stress and can start to see a bright future. One where you are the boss of where each dollar goes, not the credit card company or any other loan company. Build your own net worth and invest your money for your own goals. You make the interest and investment income for your family instead of paying it out to someone else.

I have people say to me " But I don't make enough income to save any?" I don't believe that. No matter what income you make, there is always room to make cuts and save for your future. Even when Hubby and I were first married, starting from scratch, a one income family making $ 6000. a year, we found a way to save a few dollars in investments. We started putting away $10. a week and cutting every expense that we could. As we cut expenses, we put more and more away. First $ 10., then $20., then $50., then $100. and we just kept increasing it from there. After a while it becomes a game to see how much you can save and invest. You see us continue to do that every month. It's even more fun to watch your investments grow every month.

If you can only squeeze out a dollar a week, do it. Then see if you can up it to $1.10 and continue to look for ways to cut expenses and up your savings amount.

I am not suggesting that you live like a pauper but I am suggesting that you live below your means and put some away for college for your kids and your retirement. I am also suggesting that you build an emergency fund so that if the car breaks or any appliance breaks that you can pay the bill and not have to charge it.      

I am also not suggesting that you only think about your own family. If you can afford to give gifts to other people or to charities without hurting your family's bottom line, then by all means do it. But if you can barely afford to buy gifts for your own immediate family, then you shouldn't be buying them for friends or your cousins. Most importantly, if you have major debt to pay back, you shouldn't be buying gifts for anyone. There are plenty of things that you can make for your own family. 

I am not trying to lecture anyone nor am I judging anyone. I am trying to get you to think and put as much time into your monetary decisions as you do into your other daily decisions. All it takes is you doing a little thinking every time you do something to see if there is a better and cheaper way. All it takes is some thought every time you want to spend money. Ask yourself, do I need this or is it a want? Can I go without it or is there a substitution? If it is a need, find it at the a rock bottom price that doesn't affect the quality you need. Do I have to hire someone or can I do it myself?

Please spend the next month asking yourself these questions and seeing how much you can cut your debt or build your investments. It only takes a few minutes and you could begin to build a financial future for you and your family.

It only takes starting and doing it for thirty days to make it a habit! Start living on your own terms!  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Six Frugal Things

1. The eyeglass lens cleaner bottle was empty again. So I made a bottle of homemade. Just fill the bottle with 1 part rubbing alcohol and 1 part water. Works great so I haven't paid for store bought in years. I just keep reusing my last store bought bottle over and over again.

2. I totally ignored the grocery and drugstore sale ads this week. When the newspaper came on Sunday, I threw them in the recycle bin. I am trying to get out of the habit of going to the store every week when I have so much food here at home.

3. Hubby is keeping the 13 new perennials that the landscape company planted watered. We don't want to waste our investment. One is pictured above. 

4. I had a bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee in my freezer. We use a Keurig K-cup machine. So I decided to use our reusable K-cup this morning and make our coffee with the Dunkin Donuts. We will do this until the bag is gone. Waste not;want not.

5. I had a bag of spinach that was getting a little old. So I am soaking it in ice water and will cook it to go with our lunch today.

6. I brought my library books back this morning and got two more. I love the library.

Being frugal isn't about complicated things. It is about the day in and day out things that you do that save a little money. Frugality is so engrained in my psyche that I don't really think about it anymore unless I am blogging. I have been practicing it for almost 50 years. 

Sure it is easier to save on the more expensive things in life like medical, insurances, vacations, etc. However there are only so many big things to save on. There are millions of little things and they add up over time to serious dollars. Those dollars invested add up to a million or more over time. So the frugal things that we do every day help us reach our goals. Never think that they don't matter because that is how Hubby and I got to where we are today. Keep your eye on your goals and your spending and you can get there too. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Don't Have An Ounce of Energy Left In Me

I was up at 6AM this morning so that I could get an early start on my day. I knew that the heating and a/c company would be coming sometime today. So after making a breakfast of peanut butter and jelly on English muffins and a bowl of fresh fruit. I went down in the basement to start dealing with this mess.

Yes, you are seeing it right! I, who likes to be very organized, has been living with this mess for two months. Just before Hubby took sick, I started going through every nook and cranny in the basement including my pantry. I was bagging some things up so that I could organize things into piles of like things. Other items came out of cabinets to go in the basement because I only wanted one of an item in them.

Once he came home from the hospital, I was taking care of him, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the house, and taking him to many, many appointments.

Then my granddaughter was here for 10 days and we were loving every minute of entertaining and taking care of her. Something had to give so things just got thrown in the basement.

Then last week we had 6 appointments in 4 days. Meanwhile every time I went down to get something out of the freezer, I saw this mess. It was depressing.

So this week except for the company that came to check out our furnace and a/c this morning, we have a free week until Sunday. Hubby is catching up on lots of paperwork and I am organizing the basement.

I have been down there all morning and afternoon until I came up to write you at 2:30PM. Don't pay any attention to the time on my blog post because that is pacific time and we are eastern time. I've tried to change it but blogger doesn't seem to allow it.

Above is just one of the pictures I took so you can get an idea of what I am dealing with this week. It is going to take many days to get it organized.  I will post pictures when I am done.

I did have Hubby put dinner in the crockpot about 1PM. It is the lemon awesome chicken thighs that I linked yesterday. It is all set except to make the gravy with the last few ingredients and make the rice or pasta. The kitchen smells heavenly.

This is a cheap meal because I bought a family size pack of boneless chicken thighs at Aldi's last week for $ 1.29 a lb.  There were 9 thighs so I had Hubby add 1 and 1/2 times the other ingredients in the recipe. This will last us two nights and then I will freeze the rest for a couple more meals.

I am so tired from working in the basement that I have quit for the day and after I do this post, I am going to relax and watch soccer with Hubby. 

Do any of you ever end up with a mess like this or am I the only one?  


Monday, August 22, 2016

This Week's Menu Plan

This is the first week in a couple of months that Hubby isn't hospitalized or that we don't have doctor or dentist appointments the majority of the week. 

So I have decided to stick to a weekly menu plan from now on. Since we are trying to lower our grocery bills, we will be making our meals mostly from our stockpile. I also had to keep in mind my energy challenge for the month.

Here is our plan for this week:

Sunday -Cheeseburgers and corn on the cob(both cooked on the outside propane grill) and mixed fresh fruit(leftover from the watermelon bowl I took to the party on Saturday)

Monday - Grilled haddock ( grilled on the outside grill), tossed salad and mixed fruit

Tuesday - Lemon Awesome Chicken Thighs on rice(in the slow cooker), broccoli(steamed in the microwave)

Wednesday - Leftovers( reheated in the microwave) from Tuesday

Thursday -Cold Pasta Salad(pasta cooked in the microwave) that includes tomatoes, black olives, cheese, etc.

Friday - Pizza(grilled outside), tossed salad

Saturday - Air Fryer Boneless Chicken, homemade French Fries( done in the air fryer also), tomatoes and cucumbers

We eat our corn on the cob without salt and everything is homemade to avoid salt. Any recipe that calls for salt we just leave it out. We are both avoiding fried foods and that is why we purchased an air fryer. We love it. 

I am off to put a load of washed towels in the HE dryer. Then I have a major project that I am starting today. It is something that has been put off due to Hubby's hospitalization, many doctor appointments, and having my granddaughter here for 10 days. I just can't put it off any longer. It has become a horrible mess. Yes, I will take pictures of the before and after. 

Feel free to leave a comment and tell me if you menu plan and why. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Utility Challenge

I am challenging myself for the next month to have the lowest utility bill that I have ever had for this same time period since we moved into our home. I don't know if it is possible because of the extreme heat that we continue to have. But I am sure going to try.

Reminding myself that even the littlest things add up, I did some things yesterday to prepare. I unplugged all clocks and night lights in the guest rooms. When no one is staying in them, there is no need to draw power. I made sure that the Wii was off. Shades and blinds are always drawn in those rooms to keep the sun out. I don't like to totally shut the rooms off with the A/C because it seems to unbalance the system and cost me more if I do that. I changed the filter in the furnace.

During this billing cycle, I will be doing the following:

- Laundry loads will be full before I use the HE washer. I have read the manufacturers manual so that I know what the maximum load is for my washer to make it the most energy efficient.  All laundry except towels will be hung to dry. They will be washed in cold water only on the shortest possible cycle.

- As soon as the heat and humidity leave, we will turn off the A/C and open the windows at night to cool the house down or leave them closed if the nights start to chill.  

- The dishwasher will be run only when it is full on the shortest possible cycle and they will be airdryed.

- I will be using the outside grill and small appliances for all of our meals. The stove top and oven will not be used for any cooking or baking.

- When we are going to be out of the house for the day, we will turn the A/C up to 80. When we are home it is set at 75.

- We will use the TV only when we are actually sitting in front of it giving our full attention to it. It will not be turned on for noise or while we are on our tablets. We will be very selective about what we watch. 

- Lights will be turned off during daylight hours unless it is a dark dreary day. When we do use a light it will be only one in the room we are actually in. 

- I will continue to follow the sun around the house with closing and opening curtains and shades. No sense letting the sun pour in the house with the A/C running. We have energy saving shades that keep the heat out but the light in.

- Navy showers will be used all month. No cheating and staying in the shower with the water running for a long period of time. 

- If the humidity leaves soon(hopefully), I will turn off the dehumidifier.

- Computer time will be limited and computers will be turned off when not being used.

- I will be caulking around windows and doors where it is needed.

- I don't wash my pots and pans in the dishwasher. They will be done in the sink with a small sink full of water. I won't let the hot water just continually run while I am washing them.

- We will get things out of the fridge and freezer in one trip and quickly as to not have the door open too long. We will do the same when putting things away. We will open freezers as little as possible.

- We will not stand talking to people with the front door wide open letting the cool air out. We will either invite them in or stand on the porch with them.

- If we stay home more, we will not be opening doors and letting the heat into our home.

- We will not be ironing our clothes. Wrinkles come out after a few minutes of wearing. 

- We will not wash clothes every time we wear them. Jeans can be worn more than once if they are not dirty.

- I will only blow dry my hair when I know I am going out that day. I will just let it air dry. I have an inverted bob so it looks pretty good even when it isn't blown dry. Hubby always just combs his hair and lets it air dry.

- When we cook, we will prepare enough for two meals so that we can just reheat the second in the microwave. This saves energy over making a meal every night. Many of our meals while it is still hot outside will be cold meals like salads.

- Hubby and I only have 1 cup of coffee in the morning. We only turn the Keurig on when we are going to make a cup. Otherwise it is turned off. No sense having those blue lights on all of the time.

- I cleaned my chest freezer recently so there is no ice build up and it runs efficiently. 

- Our heating and A/C company is coming for our yearly checks on our furnace and A/C next week. Our utility company has a natural gas tune up rebate program. I am going to make out the application and get the rebate form and make sure our technician does all of the things on the form so that we qualify to get the rebate.

- Hubby will be checking all of the ductwork which runs through the basement to make sure that all seams are still sealed.

- I always run cold water when using my garbage disposal, not hot.

- I will use my bathroom exhaust fans sparingly. In just one hour they can remove a houseful of warmed or cooled air.

- I always clean the lint screen on my dryer after I do my towels so that it is ready for the next time I use it. This simple task keeps your machine energy efficient.

- I have installed energy efficient showerheads in our bathrooms and flow restrictors on all of our faucets. This saves hot water.

I will be thinking about how I can be more energy efficient as I do things this month. If you would like to do this right along with me, feel free. It's a good habit to get into especially with heating season coming. Remember it only takes 30 days to form a habit. This habit can save you money. 

I will let you know the results when I get my September bill.