Friday, April 29, 2016

April 2016 Expense Report

This is a review of  every penny we have spent during April. If there is a category that you don't see, it is explained here  .

Gas & Electric         $ 151.33             Still heating season

CableTV,Int&Tel          141.32             

Netflix                          7.99

Guardian                     29.85            Alarm monitoring

Household Maint.       155.44           

Postal Fees                  13.36           Certified Mail

Groceries                   236.24

Rest.&TakeOut             50.34

Medical                      948.41           Drs.,Ins.,Tests,meds.

Gasoline                      20.00        

Car Inspection             21.00

Beer                           17.95

Haircut&Pers.Care        40.05

Gifts                          335.00

Household Goods        346.45

Total Expenses         $2513.13

Expenses were a little under last month's. I was hoping for them to be a lot less but medical was high this month. Hubby needed an expensive test and we both had dental checkups and cleanings. 

Household maintenance was some paint, caulk, and miscellaneous done after a long winter.

Groceries are coming down now that we are mainly eating out of our pantry.

Restaurant and Take Out was 4 fast food takeout and a Chinese lunch.

Medical included $ 548. for two cleanings and exams.

The gasoline makes me smile because it was so low.

The car inspection is the annual inspection required by our state.

I replenished the beer in the fridge with a 12 pack. Price includes bottle deposits and tax.

Hubby had a haircut and I purchased some make-up and other personal care items.

Gifts were high because we purchased a 40 inch Smart TV and mount for our granddaughter's upcoming birthday gift.  She is going to be so excited. 

Household goods were also high but that is because of all of the  necessary bug spray, mulch, and other items needed to spruce up up our yard this time of year. We also made a trip to the warehouse club for non- food items like vitamins, shampoo, soap, etc.

I love Spring so I don't mind the extra costs. I just wish it would quit teasing us and arrive soon. We had a teaser 10 days and then it got cold again and the weatherman says we have another week of cold ahead of us. 

But after expenses we were able to invest $ 4000. yesterday into two of our index funds. So this brings our total savings for the year to $19,000. We will be trying to save as much as possible in May to add even more to this total.

How are you all doing with your debt repayment or savings? I hope you are all reaching your goals.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How We Eat Out For Less

Eating out or even getting takeout can be expensive. We don't eat out or get take out very often but when we do, I like to spend as little money as possible doing it.

Here are my tips for spending as little as possible while enjoying that takeout or restaurant meal:

- Never buy take out without a coupon. Go to the take out restaurants site and look to see if one is available to print. Google for a printable. Keep a folder or file envelope with coupons from inserts or the newspaper. We also get coupons in the mail, on the back of receipts, in our local journal or penny saver that comes in the mail. Print them from sites that you belong to.

- If you plan on going to McDonald's and there are no coupons, go to Wendy's or Burger King if they have coupons.

- Taking surveys for fast food places that are on your receipts will usually reward you with a free item. I had two in the past month. One for Chicken McNuggets at McDonalds and one for a Whopper at Burger King. I picked them both up while I was out running errands. We both had lunch or free.

- Many restaurants like Applebee's have to To Go service. Even if they don't you can usually order take out. I would much rather eat in my quiet dining room than eat in a crowded noisy restaurant. Plus you will save a 15- 20% tip.

- But if you want the ambience of a particular restaurant, sign up on their site. Many restaurants will give you a coupon for signing up like a free appetizer.  If they are running specials or offering a coupon, you will be notified.

- If you have children, check out the places that let children eat free with adult entrees. You can find them on pinterest or by doing a google search.

- If you don't mind crowds, many places offer something free each year on a certain date. For example you could have gotten pancakes at IHOP last month. Keep your eyes open for these kinds of deals.

- Go out to dinner on restaurant week for your area. This year many restaurants near me offered a nice meal for $ 20.16.

- When you sign up on certain restaurant sites, they sometimes send you a coupon for a free meal or other choice on your birthday or anniversary. Our local Italian restaurant offers a free entree on your birthday or a free bottle of wine on your anniversary. This list will get you started. 

- Use your rewards credit card to pay for take out or eat in restaurant meals. You might as well get cash  back or a giftcard.

- Many times that Hubby and I go out to dinner we order appetizers instead of entrees. They  are usually cheaper than full dinners. Sometimes we share an appetizer or an entree.

- Always ask what the specials of the day are if they are not prominently displayed. They are usually cheaper than the regular menu.

- If you can go to dinner for the early bird specials, it will be cheaper. 

- I love restaurants that have B1G1F beers during certain time periods. We each drink one and only pay for one.  

- You don't have to order a drink or any other beverage. Water is usually free.

- Pick up your meal or pizza instead of using delivery services. Delivery and  tip can be very expensive.

- If you see a giveaway for a restaurant meal on a blog, don't hesitate to take a chance. I have gotten a few restaurant giftcards over the years that way.

- If a restaurant that you frequent is running a deal when you buy a giftcard, that is the time to buy one.
I love these kinds of deals.

- Purchase Groupons for restaurants. One of our favorites is $15.00 off a meal for two that I pay $ 7.00 for. It is a restaurant that we frequent.

- Purchase discounted restaurant gift cards on Raise or other discount sites. Ebay sells them sometimes also. If you belong to a warehouse club, most of them sell them discounted also.

- I have also purchased cheap deals for our favorite local place. 

If you have any other tips that you would like to add that I have forgotten, please leave your tip in the comments.

Hubby and I can afford to go out for a great fine dining restaurant once or twice a year because we use these tips other times of the year.

I will be back tomorrow with our April Expense Report. I was happy to purchase more index funds today with our leftover April money. The stock market was down so it was a buying opportunity for us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Grocery Shopping This Week

Since we have been eating from our stockpile and only stocking on items other than food most of this month, I did my last grocery shop for the month.

It was a quick trip to Aldi's, Save-A-Lot, and Top's.
This is what I purchased:

Aldi's -1- 64 oz.Organic 100% apple juice-$1.99
           1 lb. Appleton Farms uncured bacon-$3.99

Save-A-Lot- 4 peanut butter -$ 1.29 each
                  1- 30 oz. Welch's grape jelly- $1.79
                  1 Lettuce - $ .99

Top's - 1 lb. powdered sugar - $1.00
           1 lb. of brown sugar - $ 1.00
           1 elbow macaroni - Free after dbld 75./1 Q
           1 celery - $1.00
           2 Sour Gold Bears-$.40 each with dbld .30Q
           1 Taco seasoning - Free rebate with S.S.
           2 Zest shower gel- $  1.49 ea. after Q's and  
            for $ .49 with rebate from MobiSave
           1 cucumber $ 1.00
           3 - Pepsi - 3 for $ 5.00

Total OOP was $ 28.89 including tax and bottle deposits. I will get $1.00 back from Saving Star and $ 1.00 back from MobiSave.

Hubby took the last juice off the shelf today. I would have gotten more but this was the last one in the store. My sister and BIL are coming to visit soon and he can't have bacon with nitrates and only drinks Diet Pepsi so I purchased them while they were on sale.

We are on our last jar of peanut butter and it is a staple in my home. My grandson only likes grape jelly on his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  He also loves the sour bears so they will be a special treat for him. I used the last bit of lettuce, celery, and cucumber for salad. I am out of elbow macaroni(We can't go without mac and cheese!) and taco seasoning mix so loved getting them free. The sugars were almost gone. 

I was happy with all of these sale prices and the prices after coupons and rebates. It only took me about 45 minutes and a 5 mile round trip to do these three stores so not bad.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Things That We Won't Do In The Name Of Extreme Frugality

I have been known to wash out Ziplocs and reuse any that weren't used for raw meat. I save large jars and plastic containers to re-purpose. I do stretch a whole chicken to 6-7 meals. I do hang laundry to dry to save on the utility bill. These are a just a few of things that most people would consider extreme frugality and would never consider doing. 

I don't consider them extreme because they don't cause anyone harm. Yes, that is the way I feel about frugality. If  I am willing to do it without turning my home into a "Hoarders" home, then it creates no harm. If frugality harms yourself or another person, then that is way too extreme and should never be done ( eating spoiled food comes to mind).

The Ziplocs are washed, dryed and put into an empty box to keep them neat. I only have one box at a time and I use them until they are no good anymore. I save at the most 10 jars or plastic containers to reuse. They are saved on a shelf in the garage. I reuse the jars for dry food storage and to always have an extra jar to dispose of used cooking oils. Cooking oils are not a good thing to pour down your drain. Plastic containers are reused for bulk pancake mixes, homemade chicken soup mix, etc. Doing these things also only take a couple of minutes.

Many of our grandparents and great grandparents who lived through the depression did a lot of things through necessity. Would we do those things today? Perhaps if we had another depression.

They kept and reused everything. They watered down soup many, many times to make many meals. This was out of necessity in order to eat. I don't think most of us would do that today.

My grandmother hoarded linens. She would use linens that were frayed but not use the new ones that she had. She had a huge bureau full of linens and new towels in our dining room. Some of them had been stored so long that when she went in the nursing home they had to be tossed. Tossed because they were so discolored that they couldn't be salvaged. She hoarded hats in hat boxes. When she was young, she most likely wore them whenever she went out. However, I don't remember her leaving the house much while I was growing up. They should have been tossed years before her home was sold. 

I remember thinking about her hoarding those things but not food. She had those linens and  hats but barely enough food in the house to feed us for a week. If she needed a canned item, she would never send you to the store to buy more than two cans. She loved her beer but  she would never have you buy her more than two cans at a time. As the years have gone by, I have realized that the two can buying was probably more about not wanting to spend the money or not having the money. The beer I think, but I may be wrong, is because she drank two cans a day and didn't want Grandpa to know it.

Were these habits of Grandma's harmful to us? Of course not, unless she got drunk while raising us. But I never saw that as a kid.

However, there are things that people do today that are harmful in the name of extreme frugality. They will go without heat to save on a utility bill no matter how cold their homes get. Some of them end up dead because of it especially the elderly.  I am going to die too soon without freezing to death. We keep our home at 70 to avoid this.

They will eat spoiled food from old cans as to not waste it. This in my estimation is playing Russian roulette with your health. Sure if a can is a couple months out of date, it is probably good but you have to do the smell test and if it looks weird or tastes off, pitch it. You do not want to make you and your family ill.

Other things I would never do is pee in a jar and empty it in the woods, wash my clothes while I am showering, separate 2 ply toilet paper into two rolls, use cloth toilet paper, take every medical test to make money, ask people in a restaurant for their leftover food on their plates, or dumpster dive for food. Some of these things were on "Extreme Cheapskates" and really did nothing but disgust me. To each their own but they are not something that I would do to save money.  

I would not wash, dry and re-use paper towels. I would not take a shower at the gym to save on water at home. Unless you get that gym membership free, you are paying more than the money you would save on showers. Besides the fact that someone else has to pay for that water. 

We actually had an employee where I worked who would steal full toilet paper rolls from the men's room to take home. He also would steal office supplies. This caused the boss to lock up the supplies and only allow a few people to use the key. Lunches would also disappear from the fridge at work. This is just totally immoral. 

My mother, in her older years, used to take extra jams and jellies and sugar packets from restaurants where she ate. I loved my mom but this is just totally stealing. Those items are meant to be used at the restaurant not for stocking your pantry.

I have read or heard of the following in the name of extreme frugality over my many years. Some people reuse slightly dirty plates without washing them. Others wear the same clothes for weeks without washing them so that they save on utility bills including water. Some reuse dental floss. This is just not smart. Dental floss is cheap so you don't have to take a risk of introducing more bacteria into your mouth than is already there.

People will flush once a day to save on water. Gargle and spit the mouthwash back into the bottle. They will fill a dishpan with water and bleach and use it all week to wash dishes. 

I knew someone who never bought sugar. She just borrowed a cup whenever she needed it. She would do the same with baking powder. Her neighbors were paying for groceries that she should have been paying for.

This blog post is not meant to be a tip post for you. It is to show you what I would never do in the name of frugality. Some of these things are downright harmful to your health and others are immoral. The rest are not the way most people want to live. 

If it comes to saving a few pennies to do these things, I will spend that money.  Anyone can live an extremely frugal life without doing weird or immoral things. So don't expect me to show you things like this in my money saving posts because they aren't what we do or would ever do.

What we do is live a frugal life that is a lot more luxurious than most of the world and be thankful for it.  We are very lucky to live in the good old USA.


Monday, April 25, 2016

A Day In My Life

Rising at 7:15 AM, it was time to get dressed and take a mile and half walk. With that out of the way, I fixed breakfast while Hubby enjoyed his newspaper and coffee. We each have just one cup of coffee a day.

Hubby wanted a slice of homemade cranberry orange bread and some grapes. I wanted a hard boiled egg and some grapes. Simple and delicious. I made the bread yesterday since my son and grandson visited. I hard boil about 8 eggs at a time. Hubby likes them handy for egg salad and I like them anytime for snacks, breakfast, or lunch.  

After breakfast and putting the dishes in the dishwasher, I threw a load of towels in the HE washer on warm and then put them in the dryer. Towels are about the only thing that I use my dryer for. We don't like the feel of towels that have been hung.

Next, I checked my e-mail and wrote some responses. Then I checked our index funds to see how they have been doing the past month or so. After all of these years of investing, I don't get excited with the ups and downs of the market. We don't look at our funds every day. That would drive us crazy. Once a month is enough just to see where we are at. We are in it for the long term. 

After folding the towels and putting them away, I started to think about what I would do with the rest of my day. I had planned on washing the car but it is very dreary out and looks like it will rain so not a good day. That is best saved for a sunny, warm day. I thought about spraying the foundation of the house and the garage  with insect spray. But it looks like it may rain so not a good idea. I hate spiders and they are prevalent here.

So since my gray roots are coming in, I decided to color my hair. That will save me $55. Then it was time for a shower.

Hubby took the car to our local mechanic for it's yearly inspection. He wanted no lunch so I got out our trusty 1.5 cup cooker and made homemade mac and cheese for me.

It was just the right portion for  lunch. I love this little cooker so much that I purchased one for each of my son's and DIL's for their lunches. It also is the perfect size for making a portion for my grandson or granddaughter for their lunches. This mac and cheese was delicious!

Next it was time to go out in my lawn chair and read the new Redbook (free subscription) that came in the mail. 

While I was reading I heard a truck stop out front. It was the man who seals our driveway for us every 2 years. He stopped by to give us a quote and let us know that it is too cold yet but he will be be back to do it in about a month. I said fine. So we are on his schedule. 

Then Hubby came back and informed me that our SUV passed inspection just fine.

Hubby said he was going to watch some TV shows that he had recorded. I decided that since I don't feel very well today that I was going to take a nap. 

I must have needed that nap because I didn't wake up until after 5PM. I am not very hungry so Hubby is going to fix his dinner from this plate of leftover pork loin and roasted potatoes from dinner last night. Since he is not a very good vegetable eater, he will add some applesauce. If I need something later, I will have some apple wedges dipped in peanut butter. 

We will watch some TV tonight and I will go to bed early. I may have to record Castle.

There was nothing remarkable about our day and we have many days like this. So you are probably wondering what is the point of all of this.

My answer to you is "freedom". We didn't have to get up and commute to work, do what the bosses wanted all day long, then commute home, make dinner, eat it, watch a little TV, go to bed, and then start all over again the rest of the week. We can do whatever we want anytime we want. If we want to have a lazy day like today we can. If I am not feeling well, I can take a nap instead of going to work.

With summer coming if we want to take a few nice day trips or longer to Niagara Falls or Toronto, Canada, we can.  

Niagara Falls is only 40 minutes from us. We love going to see the Falls and eating at the restaurant at the top of the Skylon Tower .The view is incredible in the rotating dining room.        

Toronto is only about an hour and 15 minutes and there is a ton of things to do and see. We have been to N.F.'s many times and to both cities on our honeymoon. So we desire to see them both again. It will be interesting to see what has been built in Toronto in the last 49 years. They were building the National Art Centre back then. It would be nice to see it completed Perhaps we will stay a few days and just enjoy the city.  

We can do all of this when people are working and places aren't as crowded.

If we wake up to a nice sunny day, we can pack a picnic lunch and go enjoy Lake Erie or Lake Ontario. 

Our freedom is what we bought over the years and it was the best money we have ever spent. We continue to save and invest so that we can keep that freedom no matter what comes along.

Freedom is what you can have too by spending as little as possible each month and planning your financial freedom. Invest that money so that it makes money for you.   

You can even retire a lot younger than we did if you save 65-70% of your income. Don't believe me? Then take a look at this post from Mr. Money Moustache .
He has explained this much better than I ever could. He and many, many, young people are retiring early by buying their freedom.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

Our Favorite Frugal Desserts

We only make dessert once a week because most desserts have a lot of sugar. So for health reasons, we limit the amount of sugar we eat. When I am making a recipe, I usually use less sugar than the recipe calls  for or use Splenda.

I am sure we all love fancy desserts that take a lot of time to make. But I leave those for the finest restaurant meal that we might go to once a year or so. I don't have a lot of expensive ingredients in my home. So we stick to easy dessert recipes that are also cheap.

Hubby made one of our favorites, SF raspberry jello, last night.  Boxes of jello are cheap after coupon or at your frugal supermarket like Aldi's. They only take a few minutes of prep time and are delicious with some whipped cream on top. We do the same with SF puddings. These two items are pretty much the only boxed desserts we use. Almost all of the others are homemade. Last night Hubby made some raspberry and is enjoying it once I took the picture. :-)

Now that the nice weather is here, I will start making homemade popsicles again from the same frozen fruit that I use  for smoothies. I froze strawberries last June and we still have a lot. We also make homemade sorbet and ice cream with our Vitamix.

My favorite with leftover bread is bread pudding .
I usually have all of the ingredients on hand. We don't serve it with ice cream unless I have homemade.

Muffins and homemade breads of all kinds are the choice most of the time because they are cheap and can also be used for breakfasts or snacks. Sometimes, I use chocolate frosting on banana bread.

Hubby likes to make his macaroons. I make 
 snickerdoodles . We also love making gingersnaps and whoopie pies as a treat for the grandchildren.

Homemade brownies, rice pudding and chocolate chip cookies are some of our favorites. Chocolate chips can be expensive  but I buy them during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season when they are at their cheapest. I freeze them and use them all year. 

When I have purchased strawberries and blueberries at rock bottom prices in season, or pick cherries from our tree, I will make pies. And I always have a stash of canned pumpkin and evaporated milk for pies or for making pumpkin bread. 

Lots of times we just have fruit like we did the other night.   

When we have company for dinner in the wintertime and I want a fancy dessert, I cut the top 1/4 of an orange off. I scoop out all of the orange and fill the empty orange peel cup with orange sherbet leaving just a little room at the top and I freeze it. Of course, I make as many as we have people at dinner.  Just before I serve them, I spoon sliced strawberries and juice on top and then sprinkle them with a little coconut. They make a beautiful presentation served in a bowl and everyone always loves them. Be sure to save the scooped out fruit for a snack or for making muffins or a smoothie.

I know that some families have dessert every night but my family never did when I grew up. So I never did as my kids were growing up either. 

Desserts don't have to be super expensive. So many of them can be made cheaply especially if you buy baking supplies at rock bottom prices in the fall.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why I Write For You

Someone recently asked me why I write this blog. They said they would never do it unless they could make money from doing it because it takes so many hours.

We had a long discussion about it and today I will share my reasons why I write. 

First, I love to write and always have. I remember a teacher in school telling me  that she was sure I would write someday. I don't know whether she thought I would be a journalist or an author. She would be surprised if she was still alive to see me blogging. The word didn't even exist back then.    

I does take a lot of time out of my day. Sometimes it takes 4 hours or longer to write a post, take and edit the pictures, and double check it at least twice to make sure spelling, punctuation, etc. is correct. Even though I spend a lot of time doing this, sometimes the final copy has errors. But I am only human. 

The thinking process pretty much comes natural to me because I am always thinking how to tweak my own money process. The writing is easier because I just write the way I see things and 100% of what you see is what we do here.

It's easy to write when you are writing about your own life. So many things I do give me the post of the day.

But one of the main reasons I write is because when I was starting along my path to financial independence, there was no mentor for me. I had to dig and research at the library for everything that I wanted to learn. My mother nor my grandparents taught me. The only thing I learned in school was to save a few pennies a week with a bank book that I brought to school every week which in turn went to the bank with the deposits and then were returned to us for the next week's deposit. I was never able to withdraw that money when I got older because my Mom took the money out for something that was desperately needed.

Growing up I did notice some money things. My mother had credit cards that she used regularly for things that we needed. She paid a lot of interest on those credit cards because she only made small  payments on them. My grandmother seemed to have money all of the time that she hoarded. As I learned in later years, this was money my mother gave her to take care of us while Mom worked and to provide the extra food for the three of us. Mom told me  that Grandma took most of her paycheck for doing this. So Mom charged things that we or she needed.

We did not go without food or the basics but there were not many luxuries. My mom wore shoes with holes in the bottom so that she could buy us clothes. I remember Mom telling me that she was going to buy me a new coat. I told her that my hand me down coat was fine for another season. I told her to go buy a warm coat for herself because she was the one who had to take two buses in the cold and snow to get to work. Little things like these that I noticed helped make me who I am today. Now you know where I get my aversion to credit card interest.

When Hubby and I got married, we did not have a lot of money. I had gone to college for my accounting degree and learned  that it was important to take care of your money. I didn't work when we first got married. Hubby worked days and went to college nights so I had  a lot of time on my hands. Hence, I spent hours in the library looking up information on money and how to save it. I read every article in a newspaper or magazine that I saw on personal finances. I learned how to cook but most importantly how to cook and shop frugally. We spent $ 20. - $ 25. for a week's worth of groceries for years. When we bought our first home and then had children, I fed all 4 of us on $ 40. a week back in the 70's. I washed diapers for both kids instead of using Pampers all of the time. Every little way that I could make our money go further, I did so that we could invest at the end of the month. In the little bit of spare time that Hubby had, he maintained our car and our property.

With all of the researching and reading, I learned pretty quickly how to save a lot of money and how to invest that money. Neither one of us have never stopped learning even after almost 49 years. Hubby and I have put all of the info that we have learned to good use over these many years.

So I write to share what we have learned with you. I put it in this forum so that you can look for what you need in one place. At least that is what I invision after I have written for many years.

Many of you who suspected that I used to blog were correct. I am not mentioning who I was or what my blogs were for a few reasons. I had someone stalking me and at my age and that was a very scary thing. Secondly, I got very tired of the rotten comments that the trolls would leave on the blog. This is why I have always read my comments before I publish them. I still do and some that I have not deemed appropriate are never published. So if you can't be civil, just want to cause trouble, or want to meddle in our American elections when you aren't even an American don't waste your time. I control the delete button. 

I will never monetize my blog. I like a nice uncluttered blog with good information without ads.
I also want to be able to control my own content. And I never want to get so big that I have to hire other people to write for me because then the blog would not be really be mine. Nor would I want to always be selling something. I might write about a rebate site once in a while and use my referral link but that is about it.  I want to keep my blog genuine. 

Most importantly, I write for you. If you learn just one thing that helps you along your money journey, I feel good. Then I feel like it has all been worth it.

I would also like to leave this blog as a legacy to my grandchildren so that they have more money knowledge when they marry and have their families than I started out with. I love my grandchildren with all of my heart so I do this with love for them.