Tuesday, December 6, 2016

In A Pinch

This is how the conversation went last night after dinner. "The ham is all gone and so is the coleslaw for your lunches." Since Hubby is a juror on a trial he has been taking his lunch every day for the past two weeks.

I said, " I can make turkey or chicken salad. I can make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a turkey sandwich(slices in freezer). I can make you a Caesar salad with chicken.  Which would you like?" "None of them. I want something different." "Would you like soup?" "No." "Do you want to go out to lunch and buy something?" "No. I will lose my parking spot".

Hubby says, " Don't you have any leftovers?" I said,
"No, we ate them all up." I said, "Do you want to go to the store for cold cuts or to Subway and pick up a sub without the dressing on it?" Hubby says, "No I am too tired." I say, "Well so am I plus I don't drive after dark." 

I am thinking to myself: Really this is just a lunch!
Hubby is still thinking. I continued with some more suggestions and the answer was always no. Finally, I remembered that I had a ready made pizza crust in the basement freezer. So I asked, "Would you like me to make a pizza so that you can take a couple of slices?" Finally his answer was "Yes!" I asked if there was a microwave at the courthouse? He said he didn't know but if there wasn't he likes cold pizza.

So I pulled the pizza crust out of the freezer and quickly defrosted it. I always keep a package of two of these in my freezer for days that I don't feel like cooking and I am too tired to make my own dough. They are quick and easy to use.

Then I pulled toppings from the freezer that I knew he liked. We had a small container of leftover spaghetti sauce that was just enough for one pizza. We also had some leftover black olives from making antipasto salad, some chopped onions, and a few pieces of pepperoni. I also grabbed the bag of mozzarella cheese.  

I made the pizza and then covered all in parmesan cheese. I then baked it in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Then I let it cool so that I could cut two pieces for him and put it in a container for his lunch today. Do you think I will eat some for my lunch today? Heck no! I am not going through that conversation again tonight. There will be pizza for him in the fridge tomorrow morning.

So I always keep at least one or two of these in my freezer for occasions just like this. In a pinch I can make a quick meal when I am tired. 99% of the time I cook from scratch. 99% of the time I make my own pizza crust if we don't have a cheap frozen pizza. By cheap I mean under $5.00. We have ordered pizza out but not in this location. We have tried every pizza joint in the area and hate them all. Besides they are expensive.

Monday, December 5, 2016

My December Shopping Plans

I have been keeping an eye on ham prices in both November and December. In November I was concentrating more on buying turkeys. I also stocked on baking ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, chocolate chips and evaporated milk. Evaporated milk was a tough one. Aldi's had it on sale for a few weeks for $ .59 a can. However, it would sell out very early on Sunday and they would not get any the rest of the week at my store. I could not get there on Sunday mornings. I was never able to get any there even with an entire month of looking for it. So I finally went to B.J.'s and purchased it in bulk using one of their monthly coupons.

I don't think I am going to find hams any lower this month than $ 1.09 a lb. for the butt portion. That is Appleton Farms price at Aldi's. We can slice our own ham so I can't see any reason to buy a spiral sliced at $ 1.89 to $ 3.00 a lb. If I want it glazed, I can do it myself. It is only for Hubby and I for the next couple of months. We will not be serving it for Christmas or New Year's dinners.

That said, I plan on buying two large ones this month. One for the refrigerator and one to freeze. I will cook the one in the refrigerator sometime in January depending on the expiration date. The other will get used before it gets warm again.

We love ham because it is so versatile. We will get anywhere from 30-38 servings from one ham depending on how much it weighs. We will have it the first three nights after I cook it with corn, asparagus and potatoes. Then I will make some ham and cheese pockets for the freezer. We will slice lots for cold sandwiches. Some will get used right away and some will be frozen for the future.

Some will be cut into dices for scrambled ham and eggs or ham, cheese, and egg quiches. I will make scalloped potatoes and ham, ham hash, and pasta, ham and green beans,  I will also make a huge pot of bean soup which is Hubby's favorite. I use northern beans that I cook up from dried. I buy these beans at Dollar Tree at 2 lbs. for $ 1.00 and always keep some cooked ready to use in the freezer. We gets lots of servings from this soup and it also freezes beautifully. 

We can't have ham without pineapple so I will be stocking on canned pineapple this month on the sales. If there is a great price on fresh I will consider that also. I already have some pineapple stockpiled but I would like to get another case of cans.

If Aldi's reduces the prices after Christmas on hams like they did last year, I may buy another ham if I have the room. 

So those are the two food items that I am most interested in this month. With the exception of ingredients for an appetizer for a party we are going to this month and things that we run out of, that is about all of the shopping that we will be doing for food this month.

We have one other purchase that we want to make this month. When we had our home built over 6 years ago, we only had our great room, master bedroom, and one guest bedroom wired for cable. We have always regretted not having cable run into our largest guest bedroom. Why we didn't do it back then, I don't know. So Hubby and my son looked at doing that and decided it would be easy to run it.

So besides the wire and cable jack that we will need, we need to buy a television. The television that is in our master bedroom will be mounted on the wall opposite the bed in that guest room. We will get a Roku stick for it.

I will be looking for a television for our master bedroom. We want a 55 inch Samsung or LG( the top rated brands per Consumer Reports) LED, 1080P with 120-240 HZ refresh rate. This is very important to Hubby. We don't want built in Roku for the main reason that you can't upgrade them when they are in the television. So we will buy a separate Roku. We don't want a curved TV nor do we care if it is a 4K.

My son found an LG yesterday on sale at Best Buy for under $500. this week. However it had only a 60 HZ refresh rate which is horrible. They don't advertise that of course so we had to do some research to find that out. 

So I will be searching this week online for a great price on this television that we want. If I don't find one this month, the old models will go on sale in January when the new models come in and I will find a good deal on one then.

Those will be our main purchases this month. Are you looking to purchase a food item in bulk this month or a large purchase like a television? Please feel free to share with us in comments.

Friday, December 2, 2016

2017 Theme For The New Year: Every Dollar Counts!

I realize that you are all busy this month with Christmas shopping, baking, parties, writing Christmas cards, and planning your holiday
meals. December is always extremely busy for everyone.

That said we want to be prepared for 2017. So we have been planning our extremely frugal goals for the New Year. We want to know what they are and how we will accomplish them. Because after almost 50 years of marriage, we have learned that you can't get to your goals without planning. If you plan nothing for the next year, then you will most likely end up having nothing accomplished a year from now. We have learned that we have to write the goals down and review them monthly. That said some people can just save as much as possible without writing down their goals but they do track their money. We need a goal list to remind us.

Do you want to be to be where you are now in your life in December of 2017?  Or do you want to plan some goals and be so much farther ahead?

We know that we want to be much farther ahead. I have already shown you our largest spending categories with the reviews we did.
The reviews gave you an idea of what we have budgeted and would like to spend for each of those categories. Now that said, we would like to spend much less than we have budgeted for those items. So we will be spending as little as possible and making every dollar count. 

So the idea is not to spend but to spend as little as possible on each and every thing. We tried our best this year and after this month's spending report, we should reach our goal of saving $50,000. or more for 2016. We kinda of knew that if we tried, we could do it. But without reviewing our income and expenses each month, we would not have gotten there. We kept our eye on the end goal! However we had lots of leaks that I wrote about during the year. We are going to try our hardest in 2017 to plug those leaks.

I know that so many people make their goals for the New Year and break them after a few weeks or a few months. We have been guilty of that sometimes too but this year we will make a concerted effort to plug those leaks. 

So without further ado, here is our rough list of goals for 2017:

- I want to lose 30 lbs. this year. I am uncomfortable so this needs to get done. Hubby lost his weight the hard way, by being sick. No one should have to lose weight that way. However his weight is now perfect for his height. Both of us will exercise 5 days a week.

- We want to save $ XXXXX. this year. We purposely did not put a money figure on it with the exception that it will be 5 figures. We want to see if we can save more by watching every dollar we spend. Question for you here: Do you like the monthly expense and investment reports that we show you every month? They are a lot of work. However if they are helping enough people, I will continue to do them. Let me know if you are interested.

- We will calculate our net worth monthly.

- We will re-balance our investments at least once or twice a year. We have been doing this yearly; however we think taking a look twice a year might be beneficial to us. 

- Track our spending again on Quicken or Personal Capital.

- We want to keep groceries under $300. per month. This should be easy since we are well stockpiled. We will be eating from that stockpile as much as possible. I will be menu planning using the foods in that stockpile. We will have two meatless meals a week. The other meals will be portioned according to the Food Pyramid 
that I posted. We will use all leftovers and try not to have any food waste this year. We will try one new recipe bi-monthly.

- Restaurant and Take Out will be no more than $100. per month out of pocket. We have acquired a few gift cards for Burger King, Applebee's and Panera at discount for next years spending. We may get more from relatives for Christmas. I will let you know at the beginning of the year how many gift card dollars we have. We will use them just as frugally as every other dollar we spend. 

- We plan to spend no more than $400. for the entire year on clothing. We will buy used if we can. Our thrift stores locally are not the greatest and sometimes it is more feasible to buy new with coupons, discounted gift cards, and Ebates. We definitely will buy as few as possible.

- Make 95% of our cleaning products. There are tons of recipes on the web.

- We will watch our electric and gas consumption with an eye towards conservation so that we will spend no more than $1600. for the coming year.

- We are hoping to spend no more than $8500. on medical, dental, prescription drugs for 2017. But we will try every way that we know how to lower those costs.

- All auto costs should be under $2000. for the year. This one won't be easy because our insurance goes up every year and our car registration will be due for 2 years next year. But we will try.

- Gifts are set at $1160. for the year. We will stick to this budget.

- We will be researching all of the free events in the area so that we can entertain the grandchildren when they are here more frugally. That doesn't mean that everything will be free. But we will use as many as the grandkids are interested in.  

- We will also look at doing some of those free things ourselves instead of spending money to entertain ourselves.

- We will take full advantage of every freebie that we can find and use.

- We will continue to earn reward points on our credit cards while paying them in full every month. Most necessities go on those cards. We love getting 1 - 3% in rewards.

- Since I do most of the shopping, I do the rebates and I am always on the lookout for them. I also shop through Ebates  if I shop online since I use in store pickup when I can. That way I earn a percentage back for the same items that I would have walked into the store to purchase. It's a win, win!  For groceries and other items, I use Ibotta and Checkout 51 for rebates. 

- I will organize the entire house by year's end which also includes the basement, attic and garage.

- We will in-source all of our work ourselves with the exception of outdoor trimming, weeding, mulching,and lawn fertilizing. We outsource our car repairs and oil changes too. We will pay for those services. Hubby can no longer do these and I have enough to do. 

As you can see, we will be very proactive with our money. There will be no designated NO SPEND days. We will just spend as little as possible when we do spend. We will not procrastinate with any of our goals. We will plug all of the leaks. We will make every day as frugal as possible. We will make every dollar count! And I will be blogging all next year five days a week when possible to share those frugal days.  

That all being said, a blogging friend of mine is considering a very low cost year next year. I don't want to give away her goals or what she might name her main goal. But I am here to applaud her and urge her on. Her blogging is wonderful and we could all learn from her. I will be following her every day. I will link you to her blog when she has made her decision. 

If anyone else is considering being as frugal as they can next year and blogs, please leave me the address to your blog in the comments. I would love to check it out. If anyone has any questions, please ask by leaving a comment. And please remember to let me know if you want me to continue the investment and expense reports next year.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

No Post Today

Hubby had the day off from jury duty today. So I left the house at 9:00am this morning to run all of the errands that I had accumulated. I just got home and sat down to write you. It's 4:50pm EST as I write this.

After fighting the traffic(think Christmas shoppers) in the next town south of me where all the shopping is located and making 8 different stops, I came home absolutely exhausted. 

I thought I would be able to write a post when I got home. But alas I don't have the energy or brain power to do it. Sorry about that. I just don't have the energy I had when I was just a few years younger.

I am off to take a nap. Hubby is on his own for dinner. I will write tomorrow. I hope you all have a great evening.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Frugal Things We Have Done The Past Few Weeks

These are the frugal things we have done the past few weeks:

- Now that we are indoors more often, we don't seem to have as many dirty clothes. So we have whittled the wash loads down to one per week. We are still washing in cold water in the HE's and hanging each load to dry in the basement.

- I mailed out 6 rebates for liquor, wine and my Butterball Turkey.

- Stocked on a year's worth of turkeys, butter, canned tomato and cream of chicken soups, cranberry sauce, cranberries(for muffins), flour and 3 different kinds of sugar, etc. at rock bottom prices.

- Purchased some birthday gift cards that were $ 50.00 cards for $40.00. 

- Purchased discounted gift cards for us to use in 2017.

- Purchased some gifts for birthdays at discounted prices this season.

- I have been packing a lunch, drink, snacks, and a napkin for Hubby for jury duty every day. I at first put it in a reused plastic sack. However I looked in storage in the basement and found a really nice blue insulated lunch sack that I could use for him and it even has a pouch on the side for his drink.  Now that our turkey is finished, I thawed some cooked ham that was in the freezer and used that to make a ham and provolone sandwich this morning and will do the same the rest of the week.

- Purchased needed vitamins at Black Friday rock bottom prices at Puritan Pride.

- I again called GE about my replacement light bulb for the front porch since it has been at least three weeks and I haven't received it. They didn't even have me in the system. They were very apologetic. I suspect something went haywire online when they originally ordered it for me. I had an order number but they couldn't find it. So they have re-ordered it for me and I should have it within a week. It pays to be persistent.

- I have a 2 year warranty on a fry pan in a set I bought. I contacted the company and will be sending them my receipt and pictures of the problem with the pan today. They also want my shipping address. I am expecting they will send me a replacement. I bought these pans a little over a year ago. It pays to save all warranty information and receipts. 

- I called the company that I purchased the laptop and bluetooth headphones from. It is on it's way here.

- We received our school and property tax rebate check, 4 rebates and a health insurance check in the mail. They will all be deposited in our savings.

- Our Thanksgiving dinner cost us under $36.00 for turkey with all of the trimmings and wine for 5 people. We had tons of leftovers for all of us.

- Hubby has been appealing a claim with our health insurance company. It was for the doctor that was his hospitalist when he was so sick in June and July.  They refused to pay the claim because they said the Doctor was out of network. After months of trying to prove the insurance company wrong and the practice wrong for submitting the Dr's. bill incorrectly, Hubby finally got it all taken care of. We got the statement this week showing the insurance company paid the $ 71.00 in full. Dealing with insurance companies can be very frustrating but it usually pays to have patience and persistence.

- Hubby took the NYS Safe Driver course which saved us $250.00 on our car insurance which is due in December.

- We continue to add our change and bottle deposits to my spending money jar for my Disney trip.

- I cancelled all of our doctor and dentist appointments for the next two and half weeks and rescheduled them so that we don't have to pay horrendous fees( $25. - $35. each) for not cancelling them in time.

- We continue to open and close shades and blinds when the sun is shining to save on heat. With Hubby out of the house for about 8 hours a day, I have turned the heat down four degrees. We use no lights during the day even though we have all LED bulbs unless it is so dreary that we can't read.

- We are sending Christmas cards this year but less than 25. Since I need stamps and will be down at B.J.'s on Saturday, I will buy them there. They have 100 Forever Stamps for $46.75. It is only a $ .25 discount but since I will be there anyhow I will save that $ .25.  

- I used Dryel to dry clean Hubby's coat. It worked beautifully and saved us the cost of paying the dry cleaner to do it.

- I reserved some books at our library so that I can pick them up on Saturday.

- Yesterday I shampooed two rooms of wall to wall carpeting in the house using our shampooer. I saved the cost of getting it done professionally and I am getting a lot done without Hubby home.

- I have been taking walks every morning which gives me free exercise. While walking I am listening to a tape which is teaching me something new.

- We are using an electric blanket now that we have colder nights. It has dual controls so that we can control the temperature on each side of our bed. I turn mine on for just a few minutes to heat up my side. Then I turn it off for the rest of the night. The heat from Hubby's side keeps me plenty warm.

- We continue to take navy showers.

- We have only been running the full dishwasher every three days and using the energy saving cycle. Our dishes air dry.

- We recycle every thing that is permitted to save on the number of plastic garbage bags we use per week. Our town requires that garbage be put in plastic bags inside our barrel.

- I fixed a zipper on a pair of jeans. I also sewed a button on Hubby's shirt.

- I capture cold water in the shower and the kitchen while it heats up. I use it for other purposes during the day.

- We don't let water run while we are brushing our teeth, rinsing dishes or washing vegetables.

What have you done frugally the past few weeks? Would you share with us in comments so that we can all learn from you?     

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 2016 Expense Report

This is every dime that we have spent in the month of November. I will not be going anywhere or spending any money today or tomorrow. Hence I am posting it early. If there is an expense that you don't see, it is explained HERE

Electric and Gas                            $ 95.58

Alarm Monitoring                             30.90

CableTV, Int.&Tel.                           138.34

Netflix                                               9.99

Medical                                          338.37

Clothing                                          75.68

Groceries                                       601.69

Liquor & Beer                                   53.88

Restaurant&Takeout                          19.30

Shipping                                          13.26

Giftcards                                        130.00

Personal Care                                   46.15

Gifts                                              158.00

Household Goods                            138.51

Total Expenses                            $ 1849.65

There are two categories that aren't shown this month. We had no household maintenance expenses this month. And we purchased no gasoline this month nor will we be until this weekend or next Monday. Hubby never got home until after dark, so I never went out yesterday. The same will be true today.

Most of these categories are self explanatory. I will elaborate a little on a few. Our medical was very low this month. It was only insurance, co pays for 2 appointments, 4 prescriptions and 10 bottles of Vitamin D3.

I broke my vow to buy no clothing because I needed a decent pair of boots and gloves. I found a $109.00 pair of boots at LL Bean and with a sale I only paid $ 66.55 with tax. Using reward points I paid $ 9.13 for a $16.00 pair of warm gloves at Amazon. My gloves were so thin that my hands would freeze just driving down to the dentist. For boots I had been wearing a 22 year old pair of sneaker hiking boots. So it was time to get these items that will keep me warm in our brutal winters.

Groceries were high but that is because I stocked on turkeys, butter, other baking supplies, and canned goods that are rock bottom priced this time of year.

Liquor and beer was to replenish our stock to entertain.

Shipping was UPS charges for sending photos that we copied for my daughter-in-law.

Restaurant and eating out was for a quick Burger King breakfast ($6.48) and taking my grandson to the yogurt place($ 12.82). 

Gift cards were $ 170.00 worth that I purchased for an OOP of $ 130.00 for Hubby and I to use in the future. Anytime you can make a profit on these, it is a good spend.

Personal care was a curling iron for me and a beard trimmer for Hubby.

Gifts were for gift cards for two family birthdays this month, a thank you gift card, a book for my grandsons birthday in January, and a gift card for my daughter-in-laws birthday in March. 

Household goods were those marked down after Halloween kitchen towels that I showed you. I bought six inkjet cartridges for our photo printer.  Two books were purchased for me at Amazon. They had such a great deal on my Fiesta dishes at Kohl's that I purchased three extra sets just in case I break any plates, bowls or mugs. That will almost guarantee that I won't break any. I also purchased a much needed jar opener and a pastry scraper.

Our total expenses this month were $ 1849.65. I am so happy with this figure. It is the second lowest month with the exception of February of 2016. We could go out and celebrate but we won't because we would spend unnecessary money. 

However, I did invest $ 5,700.00 this morning which brings our savings and investments to a total of $ 48,200.00 so far in 2016. Unless we have a major catastrophe, we will make our savings goal of $ 50,000.00 for 2016 and possibly exceed it. That is enough of a celebration for us. 

How are you doing on paying off your debt or saving for your goals this year? I hope you all are getting to where you want to be. Have you thought about budgeting for 2017? I realize that everyone is getting ready for Christmas but take the time to really think about what you want for 2017 and how to get there. Set up your goals and budget in December. I will discuss more about our goals and what we will do in 2017 next month.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Night of Too Many Things on My Mind

Have you ever had a sleepless night because too many things are rattling around in your head? Well, I have been up since 2:15AM because of my unsettled mind.

After thirty minutes of restlessness, I decided it was time to get up and make a list so that I could unload everything that was keeping me awake and possibly get back to sleep.

However I do have to get up with Hubby at 6:45am. He has to go to work for the first day since he retired over 15 years ago. The work is jury duty. So I will be packing his lunch just as I did all of those years ago.

He will be taking a turkey, romaine lettuce and mayonnaise sandwich on a sesame bun in a reusable  container to keep it from getting squished. I will add a dill pickle in another container, an apple, and a can of seltzer water. It will all get packed in a reused plastic bag. He can just leave it in the car where it will stay chilled and ready for his lunch. This eliminates the need to have to drive to a restaurant and spend money for lunch or lose his parking space.

Of course we have no idea how long he will be or if he will be serving the entire month. He may or may not find that out today. But it pays to be prepared. 

Perhaps I will know when he comes home if I have to cancel all of our appointments for this week. Two would have to be cancelled tomorrow to give enough notice. If he ends up serving all month four more appointments will have to be rescheduled.

But those are the kind of things you have to do when you only have one car. We have always worked our schedules around that fact. We have only rented a car once in fifteen plus years because of conflicts. I suppose we could rent one for me to go to my appointments but that seems expensive when I can just reschedule all of them. So cancelling and rescheduling is the better option. 

Funny thing is we may have to do this kind of thing all over again soon because I just filled the questionnaire out for jury duty a week ago. From Hubby's experience, I may get a summons within a month or two. We have lived here 6 & 1/2 years and have never been summoned before but all of a sudden the both of us are being called within months of each other. 

So while Hubby is out for the day(?), here is my list of things to accomplish:

- Call and order some medical supplies

- Call and pay a credit card bill that I received on Friday in full via a transfer from our checking account.

-Call GE and ask them where our LED bulb is that they promised as a replacement a few weeks ago. I have not gotten it.

- Call a store we ordered a laptop from and find out if it has been shipped to us. I have never received a confirmation or shipping notice nor the laptop. However my credit card has been billed.  

- If Hubby gets home before dark I want to go to Kohl's to use $15.00 in Kohl's cash for a birthday gift for my grandson. I also want to pay my Kohl's charge bill in full for two orders we had shipped to us.

- I have two rebates (totaling $24.00) to fill out and mail for items we purchased recently. Hubby wanted a rotating waffle maker and I needed to replace our electric fry pan which died. I use this appliance so often that there was no question we would replace it. Both items were purchased on sale with coupon codes and Kohl's cash. So the rebates are a bonus.

- If I go to Kohl's I will stop at Top's and pick up mayonnaise, saltines and Ritz crackers that we are almost out of. I also have a $10.00 credit towards another gift card. So I will spend $ 40.00 for a $ 50.00 Applebee's card.

- I will stop at the bank and deposit three checks that have been sitting here. One is our $ 231.00 New York State rebate for our property and school taxes this year so I want to put that in our savings. 
 
- While I am out I will fill the car up with gas using the $ .60 off per gallon that we have accumulated at Top's.

- I will also stop at Fast Cash to get rid of two bags of deposit bottles. That cash will go in my Disney savings for my spending cash.

- I need to order B12 so I have to research the best price. I should have done that yesterday while I was purchasing a year's worth of Vitamin D for both Hubby and I but I got side tracked. BTW, I purchased 10 bottles of 200 ct. Vitamin D3, 2000 i.u. softgels on a Black Friday sale and a discount coupon for a total of $ 17.14 shipped from Puritan Pride. This is a little over a years supply for us. The bottles were $ 2.09 each and a coupon code got me a discount of $ 3.76 plus we pay no sales tax on medicines in NY. It was the best deal that I have ever found for these vitamins. Just letting you know in case you are in need of them because they are still on sale.

- Hubby turned on our outside LED Christmas lights last night. They are so pretty. I need to look for 12 C and D batteries for our 4 wreaths and 4 candles for our front windows so that we can get them up. Once we do that and put our lighted Christmas tree on the front porch the decorating for outside will be complete. If I don't have the batteries, I need to find a sale to buy them.

- I also need to do a load of wash and hang it to dry.

I think that is about it for all the things that need to be done and have been rattling around in my head preventing me from sleeping.

The picture is our homemade turkey soup that I made last night for dinner. We have leftovers for tonight which I am very happy about because I have a full day. 

I am off to sleep now, hopefully!