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!  

 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Amazon.com

I didn't want anyone to miss this deal at Amazon.com on books. There is a code that will give you $ 10.00 off a $25.00 order on print books only and is good until November 28, 2016 at 2:59AM EST.

The code is:  HOLIDAYBOOK

I was happy to be able to purchase some books for my grandson's birthday in January using this discount code.




 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Meat: The Most Expensive Food Group

Have you ever thought about how many dollars a year meat is costing your family? Meat is the most expensive food group there is. When I talk about this food group, I include all red meat, pork, ham, chicken, turkey, lamb, corned beef, veal, fish and all seafood. If you hunt, then you would also include what it costs to have that  meat processed.

Since Hubby and I want to eat healthy but also keep our meat costs down, I decided to do some research. These numbers are for two adults our ages. Our bodies need at a maximum 3-6 ounces of meat or protein a day. At the maximum of 6 ounces per day that equates to 2190 ounces annually per person or 136.875 pounds of meat per person or 273.75 pounds of meat for the two of us a year. 

If we spend an average of $ 3.50 per pound of meat, it would cost the two of us $ 958.12 a year. If we buy no meat over $2.00 a pound then it would cost us $ 547.50 a year. No matter what average dollar amount you spend, it is a hefty part of your food budget.

Most Americans eat way more than the 3-6 ounces of meat or protein that your body requires per day. Eating more than is required is not healthy for a number of reasons.  Red meat is a huge source of cholesterol and eating extra meat or protein is hard on the kidneys especially as you get older. The medical community has also linked it to cancer and other diseases.

We are meat eaters in this family. However there are many days that we can get our protein requirements by eating 3-6 ounces of nuts, eggs, or beans instead of meat. We also try to eat more turkey, chicken, and fish than red meat. If we have bacon or sausage for breakfast that will be included in our total for the day. The 6 ounce limit for each of us is per day not per meal.

By cutting back to the proper food portions, you will not only help your health but you will keep more dollars in your wallet. So if you are looking to cut costs and increase your net worth, this is a perfect way to do it.

We plan on trying to stick to no more than 274 pounds of meat for us in 2017. Sometime next month I will take inventory of how many pounds of meat I have stockpiled in my freezers. If I have more than that, I will not be buying any meat during 2017. If I have less then I will take advantage of rock bottom prices until we reach the limit. I will be tracking our consumption very carefully. 

With judicious planning for us and when we have company eat with us, I believe that we can stick to that amount. I can include company because we are planning on having one or two meatless meals a week. This should not only make us healthier in 2017 but put more money in our pocket to invest during 2017.

Do you want to be healthier in 2017? Do you want more money in your pocket to pay off debt or invest during 2017? Then join us as we go through this challenge next year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Our Thanksgiving Menu





Since it is so cold here, I am looking forward to heating the house up while cooking the turkey. My grandson was so excited about coming back here for turkey on Thursday. He told me that he loves turkey, stuffing, green beans and gravy. I purchased some chocolate syrup to make him chocolate milk on Thanksgiving too. It is a rare and special treat for him.


I finally sat down yesterday and wrote out my menu for Thanksgiving. I wanted to make sure that I had everything we needed. I went out last Friday to the market, the beverage center, and the liquor store. Knowing that we were supposed to get snow yesterday and they were predicting it this week too, I did not want to get stuck having to go out again in snow and ice. 

We are having a chardonnay with dinner. I also purchased some Fat Tire and Sam Adams beer. I decided that I had a pretty stocked liquor cabinet so I only picked up two bottles of wine.     

Dinner will be turkey, sausage and herb stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, pickles, olives, and rolls. I asked my daughter in law to make pie. My son told me she has Wednesday off so she will make a pie and a few other things. So they will be surprises. I also purchased whipped cream and a container of vanilla ice cream in case anyone wants it with the pie.

With our dessert, we will have choices of coffee, Kahlua, and Amaretto Di Saronno. The latter sounds good in my coffee.

As you can see I keep our menu pretty simple. It is hard enough for me to cook all of these simple things without getting too complicated. I seem to be very tired this week. I didn't get much sleep over the weekend( 1 and 1/2 hours on Saturday night) because my grandson kept waking me up saying he was frightened. Of what I am not sure. That has never happened here before. But my son told me it seems to be a phase he is going through because he has been doing it at home too. 

So today I will be vacuuming and dusting the house and cleaning the bathrooms. The rest of the house is pretty immaculate. I love cooking in a nice clean kitchen. So I cleaned that yesterday. I need a lot of counter space for Thursday so that we can fill our plates and take them to the table. I hate a lot of clutter on the table when we eat. It is just as easy to serve ourselves buffet style in the kitchen.

Tomorrow I will be preparing some things ahead as I am sure you all will. If you aren't cooking you will probably be traveling. I wish everyone a safe trip and a Happy Thanksgiving. My best to all of your families.

I will be back posting on Black Friday.
 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Reviewing and Budgeting for 2017: Natural Gas and Electric

As I am sitting here this morning listening to the horrible wind, it seemed fitting to tell you about our utility bills for the past year. We have had winds up to 50 miles an hour yesterday and today along with grapple and snow. It was a reminder of what winter is like in this area. I expect the commute will be icy for most people here. When I don't have to venture out in it anymore to go to work, that makes me very happy.
 
Before I give you the totals, let me explain a little about our home and our weather situation here. As you know we live just a few miles from two of the Great Lakes. We have a wind tunnel that comes right through our yard. It actually blows on the right hand side of the house and then wraps around the front. The wind is so bad that our trees on that side permanently lean. As my son did one last minute thing for us yesterday out in the yard, he reminded us of how bad that wind tunnel is since he walked through it in the snow and ice that was coming down. We were hoping that when they build more homes behind us that we would get some protection. But that hasn't happened yet. So we live with it.

We have 2112 sq. ft. on our main living floor. We have cathedral ceilings in our breakfast room(dining room) and one of the guest bedrooms. We have a  tray ceiling in our huge master bedroom. The rest of the rooms and hallways have 9 foot ceilings. So we are heating and air conditioning a huge amount of space. When our home was built it received an energy star rating for energy efficiency. The builder advised us that with this rating our model of home would cost us $2172. in heat and electricity annually in our area.

We also have a full basement under the living floor so that is another 2112 square feet that has heat run to it. We keep the heat registers closed but I am sure some of the heat leaks out. The basement is insulated.

We don't heat the two car garage and it does have a well insulated door between the house and the garage the same as our other outside doors are. Our attic is well insulated. 

We have 21 large windows in our main living space  and 4 basement windows. These windows are energy efficient.

We also have an upgraded energy efficient furnace and tankless hot water. We heat, heat water, and cook with natural gas. The rest of our appliances are electric.

This is our dreamed about retirement home which we love so we are not about to downsize any time soon.

Okay that all being said, our total for the past year for natural gas and electricity was $ 1585.00. For the first 10 months of this year, it was $ 1361.95.  The annual total is $ 585.00 less than the builder and energy experts predicted. So I think we have done pretty well considering the house is now 6 and 1/2 years old and there have been many increases in electric and natural gas rates. I feel we also have done well since we live in one of the coldest, snowy, windy regions of the country.  

I think we have gone about as low as we can considering that Hubby is always cold in the winter so we keep the heat at 71 during the day and 65 during the night while we are sleeping. I would love to lower the daytime temperature but Hubby already lives in a fleece coat and fingerless gloves in the house when it is 71 in here in the winter. I am the opposite. I am always hot. So when the temps are 71 in our home, I am in jeans and a T shirt. 

Heat and air conditioning are the biggest two expenses. When we air condition, Hubby wants the temp at 76, so that is where it stays. I am always hot in the summer, so I also use a fan if I am in a room other than the one Hubby is in. 

I have shown you many other ways that we keep our utility expenses low. You can see them Here and
Here.

In 2017, if we can keep our natural gas and electric bills under $1600.00 for the year, we will be very happy. It would be very nice if the rates would go down but they usually increase. So we have budgeted $1600.00. 

Have you looked at your utility bills for the past year? Can you do better? These are the questions we ask  every time we look at any budget category.    

Friday, November 18, 2016

Reviewing and Budgeting for 2017: Medical

Medical is the category that shocks us the most. Up until just a few years ago, we were pretty healthy. We went to our annual checkups every year and perhaps an occasional appointment for bronchitis in the winter. We were on just a few prescription drugs. Then as you age, it all catches up with you. This is a great reason to make sure that you have saved to be able to pay your medical and dental in retirement.

Our total medical, dental, drugs and insurance for the past 12 months was $ 8458.67 or $ 704.89 a month. Our total for just the 10 months in 2016 was $5734.14 or $ 573.41 a month.

We have a great medical plan but no dental insurance. We have looked into getting dental insurance recently and it wouldn't pay out that much to us in reimbursements when compared to the yearly premium. At our age, crowns and root canals, and bridges have become the normal. Have you ever wondered why so many elderly people walk around with teeth missing? It's because they can't afford the dental expenses.

Of the $ 8458.67 total only about $3168.00 a year is medical insurance for our supplemental Medicare plan. A prior employer reimburses us for the Medicare premium of $208.90(or $104.90 each)a month so we are very lucky to have that benefit. Without it our insurance would cost us $2506.80 more annually.  Medicare is going up to $109.00 per person a month for most people in January 2017. That is a $4.10 per person or $ 8.20 per couple increase per month if we are protected by the hold harmless provision. You can see the charts here. 
 
Considering that people on Social Security did not get a raise in January of 2016 and are only supposed to be getting a raise of .3% in January 2017, this raise in Medicare will be a hardship for some people.

The other $ 5290.67 is dental and co-pays for office visits and hospital care, and prescription drugs. 

In case you haven't noticed this is the biggest spending category we have annually. It is one of the reasons I tell you to save for retirement and especially for medical and drug expenses. I have seen so many people think that Medicare will cover them when they get old. Think again. It doesn't even come close. Without a medical supplemental plan and a drug plan, you will pay a fortune. You need to prepare to pay for both Medicare and Medicare supplement medical and drug plans.

Granted Hubby had a hospitalization this year however only about $300. of the total was for out of pocket co-pays because of it. The cost of insurance, drugs, and co pays has more than doubled since we retired 15 years ago and I expect that pattern will continue. If they go down that will be a nice bonus but I am not counting on it.

So we will try to spend no more than we did this year for these expenses. It won't be easy. And we will try to do some of the things that I talked about HERE 
and HERE.

The most important thing that I want you to take from what I have said is that medical is not cheap when you are elderly so you have to plan for it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Reviewing and Budgeting for 2017: Automobile

Hubby and I reviewed what it cost to own our car for the past year and the 10 months in 2016. We have spent $ 479.28 on gasoline in 2016 which not only includes the car but also a little bit for the lawn mower and snowblower. For the past 12 months that gasoline cost has been $568.28.

In the past year we have also spent $ 64.00 to park our car, $24.21 on car washes, $75.00 for our AAA membership, $21.00 for our car inspection, $ 889.00 for our car insurance and $ 354. for oil changes, tire changes, and to fix a flat at our local garage.

We have no auto payment because we paid cash for the car. Part of our saving and investing includes the cost for our next car. We saved that money many years ago. Considering our age and the fact that our car right now only has 19000 miles on it, I doubt we will have to buy but one more car.

So the total spent on automobile expenses for the past year was $1995.49 or $ 166.29 a month.

Considering that the parking expense and the gasoline charges were higher this past year than ever, we will not be budgeting much more than we spent this past year. They were higher because of Hubby's hospitalization. Hopefully we won't deal with another one in 2017.

Our auto insurance bill is due in December and usually goes up. But Hubby is right now taking a safe driver course for NYS that will reduce our liability cost. It was time to renew it. It's only good for three years in NYS.

We only go to the car wash a few times in the winter to get the salt off. Otherwise we wash our own car. I would imagine that the other items will go up in price in 2017 also.

Gasoline goes up and down. This is the one expense that we can do something about and it should help offset any increases. We are able to earn gas points at our local market. So those do help. We also have a cash only gas station that usually is lower than the other ones for when we don't have gas points. We also have a gas station that gives me $.10 off a gallon because I use their fuel rewards card. When I use the gas points at Top's, I do pay with my 2% rewards credit card. So I have many choices whenever I need to fill up.

We have also committed to driving less in 2017. Hubby and I finally have all of our doctor and dentist appointments together so that it is one trip instead of two. I have also decided to only run all errands one day a week in 2017. I will be keeping a list of what needs to be done on that day of the week. Hubby will add anything that he wants to that list and he knows that I will only go one day a week to get them. We will probably do the same number of trips to visit relatives that we do now. 

So we will budget $2,000.00 for all of 2017 and see how we do. 

How do you cut down on your automobile expenses?
Please leave a comment and share with us. I would love to find a new way to save on these expenses.
  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Let's Talk Turkey



When it comes to meat or poultry, turkey is the best bargain you can get all year. I don't know what your prices are this month but I am assuming they are cheaper than any other time of the year for this meat.


I have been paying $ .99 a lb. for Butterball turkeys and $ .48 a lb. for Top's Premium turkeys. Wegman's is the same price as Top's in my area. The Butterball ones I do not have to spend a certain amount to get that price. To get the Top's or Wegman's price, you have to spend a minimum of $ 25.00 on groceries.

So far I have purchased 3 turkeys this month. One is hiding in the bottom. The Butterball was 19.6 lbs. at $ .99 a lb which cost me $19.40. The Top's turkeys were 15.99 lbs. and 21.78 lbs. at $ .48 a lb which cost me a total of $ 18.13. So far I have spent $ 37.53 on turkey and have 57.37 lbs. of turkey. These cost me a total of $ 65. a lb. If I had only purchased Top's turkeys it would have been just $ .48 a lb for all of that meat. But I chose to buy the Butterball for Thanksgiving. I do plan on taking the Butterball out to thaw on Saturday. So I will be getting one more large turkey at Top's on that day. That will give me 3 extra turkeys to cook over the winter or next fall. Plus I already have about 10 lbs. of turkey leftovers from the one I cooked this past Sunday in my upstairs freezer.

I don't know of any other meat, poultry, or fish that you can buy that cheaply to feed your family. Hot dogs on sale cost me a $1.00 a lb. We rarely have these because I don't like them. But I do keep a few packages on hand for Hubby because he does. The cheapest I have ever found chicken thighs is $ .88 a lb. 

Granted the actual turkey meat costs more than the per pound price because of the turkey carcass. But the larger the turkey you buy, the more meat per bone is on the turkey. I make sure that we use every ounce of meat. We make many meals from the turkey using the leftovers in different meals plus sandwiches for both dinners and lunches.

We use our meat slicer to slice the turkey breasts nice and thin for both our hot and cold sandwiches. I don't buy turkey breast for sandwiches at the deli but I have seen prices that run about $ 6.00 to $ 8.00 per lb. Yikes! It is so much cheaper to slice up one of the turkey's breasts and food saver and freeze it in portions for sandwich meat. It tastes just as good as the day you packaged it when you pull it out of the freezer and thaw it. I will do the work to save over $5.00+ a lb. 

The last bits of turkey are used to make soup. I cook up the nicely browned skin and the carcass to get lots of turkey broth. I freeze that broth in quart portions to use for soup and other recipes during the year. Soup is easy and cheap. Just add diced celery, sliced carrots, some corn kernels, turkey bits and some rice or noodles to your broth. Add whatever spices you want and simmer. YUM! We had a bowl last night. 

We have some favorite meals that we love for leftovers. Besides eating a turkey dinner for leftovers we make hot and cold sandwiches. We also make a stuffing and turkey casserole using leftover stuffing, turkey and gravy. Just put it in a 9x13 dish and bake it until it is heated through. Put the turkey on the bottom with some gravy so it doesn't dry out. 

We also make turkey pot pies with chunks of turkey, celery, carrots and corn in a turkey gravy or cream of chicken soup. I just make my own pie crust. Sometimes I make them like a pie and sometimes the mixture is in a casserole dish with a crust just on top. You can make them ahead and freeze them, Just pull out to bake on a day that you are rushed. 

There is one favorite sandwich that I make which is  grilled turkey, tomato and swiss cheese on rye bread. It is so good. 

You can use turkey leftovers all year in place of almost any chicken recipe. I use it in stir fries, turkey tetrazzini, turkey ala king, turkey enchiladas, turkey, celery, mandarin orange and mayo salad or macaroni and turkey salad, tortilla and taco soups, etc. I am sure you have many favorite dishes that you can use it in.

So if you have the room, get a few extra turkeys and use them over the next year. Turkey is so healthy and versatile. If you don't have a lot of room, cook those turkeys and package and freeze the meat for future meals. 

This is a no brainer when it comes to cutting your annual meat costs

Are you buying extra turkeys this year? What price per lb.are you buying them at? Do you throw them in the deep freeze or cook them all and freeze the meat in portions? Do you have any easy recipes that I haven't mentioned? Please share with us in the comments. Curious minds want to know.