Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

I absolutely do not shop on Black Friday. I think that it creates so much stress. I know someone who stood in line, for 2 HOURS, to buy 2 Barbies for $4 each. WOW! I'd rather watch for a sale throughout the year, than to save a few bucks that way. I think time is just as valuable as cash. At 3 am, I prefer to be asleep anyway.

Today, we will decorate for Christmas and relax.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas shopping...with coupons

I did some shopping today. {of course with coupons}

*First was Hallmark store. I was sent a $10 off coupon for any purchase. I found a gift for my daughter and was thrilled to get it for $10 less! {total spent $12}

*Next I stopped at Starbucks...I had a remaining balance on a gift card. Used $2.85 of the card balance.{total spent $0} Yum

*Then to Aeropostale. I had a gift card there as well. I had a $25 balance, I went over by $0.36. {total spent $0.36}

*Off to Family Christian bookstore. I had a $5 coupon there. I found a couple of clearance items as well as a sale item. {total spent $30.00}

*Last stop was Borders. I opened my email this morning to find a 50% off coupon. Whoo! While I was there I also found some stocking stuffers marked down to $0.99 each. {original price $4.99 each} I found an item for my hubby. {total spent $ 13.45}

So, to sum it all up:

I spent $55.81
I saved $75.79


Friday, November 19, 2010

free coffee

There are 2 sources of free coffee right now!

Starbucks is giving a free cup of holiday flavors when you buy one. { I normally only go when I receive a gift card, but I'm thinking that this would be a fun date night. 2 cups of coffee and hang around the bookstore!} This is only between 2pm and 5pm! We went last night and it was wonderful! Thank you Starbucks! {Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha was yummy!} This expires on November 21st!

McDonald's has a coupon book out right now. There is a coupon in there for a free McCafe. No purchase required. Guess where I'm going today? he he

organization part 2

Yesterday I discussed ways I keep organized. Another key area is grocery shopping and planning. I keep an eye on local sales and plan my next few weeks' of menus accordingly.

I clip any and all coupons that I come across. I only keep the ones that I know I will use. I keep them filed by categories. I remove the coupons that I plan to use that day, and keep them in a small binder with my grocery list. I do take my coupon file with me. You just never know what will be on an unadvertised sale. Did you know that you can use coupons on items in your grocery's discount area?

I also have a price book. This was the best thing that I ever did for myself. It is simply a spiral notebook, with items I normally buy and the regular prices at the stores I normally shop. I write in pencil since prices change.

I really thought that I was getting a great price on some items at Sam's Club. After I did my price book, I was a bit surprised! For one, 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce are $0.58 at Sam's. I found them at Walmart for $0.44 a can. A 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes are $0.74 at Sam's and $0.63 at Walmart. A 5 ounce can of tuna is $1.12 at Sam's and $0.74 at Walmart. There are many others. My local grocery store cannot compete with Sam's or Walmart on regular prices, but can compete when items are on sale and I have a coupon.

There are still items that are cheaper at Sam's. One being turkey bacon. Sam's- $1.90, Walmart-$2.48, grocery-$2.79.

Since making my price book, I buy less items at Sam's and more at Walmart. Before making the book, I never bought groceries at Walmart. So, for a few hours time, I visited 3 stores to make a price book {I had shopping to do- I didn't just go to make the book}, and I will save more than I imagined. I figured that by buying most canned items at Walmart, I saved about $5.00 over buying them elsewhere. I drive right by there everyday to take my son to school. Might as well make a stop and save a few bucks!

*Frugal note* my Sam's Club membership is free. How? Well, all you have to do is to have a family member work there. They can give one membership away! Yay!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I think that the best tool that I have is my ability to keep organized. It saves me so much time. I can easily find what I need and can get so much more done.

In the kitchen: I keep my cupboards and pantry organized. All like items are together. I have a running list, on the fridge, for the grocery store. {or home store etc} The list is separated by which store I usually buy the item from. Since I go a couple of times per month, I know exactly what I need, and there's no wondering if I forgot something. I make a menu plan for two weeks at a time. I don't plan ahead what I'll make each day. I just get up in the morning, and look at the menu. That's when I decide what to make that day.

For the household: I have a small checklist, of the chores I need to get done each week.{goal-have all done by Sunday night} I don't do a certain one on each day. The same as my menu, I just look at the list and decide what I feel like doing today. {he I really feel like cleaning.} I keep clutter to a minimum. Our home just looks so much cleaner this way. I also have a day planner to keep track of appointments or side projects that I need to do each day. When I see something around the house, that needs attention- it goes into the planner. I get to it when I can.

For bill paying: I have a spreadsheet that lists our bills, in order of due date. Since hubby is paid every two weeks, I organized our bills so I can pay them according to due dates. I try to have all bills paid at least a week in advance.

For Christmas shopping: I spoke of this previously, but I have a small spiral notebook that I keep track of wish lists for my family. Also in the book are the items that I've already purchased, along with the amount spent. I spend the same amount for every family member. I'm so excited to say that I've got a great start on my shopping. I've either used coupons on my purchases or found them on sale/clearance. Yay me!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's time to donate for a happier Thanksgiving!

It is time to head to your local food bank and make a donation. You can also donate cash, as many food banks are now online!

You can make a difference. Everyone should have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A very quick and easy dinner

I usually like to cook my meals completely from scratch. Sometimes, you just need shortcuts! This recipe is not only fast and easy, but also yummy!

Barbecue Muffins

1/2 pound ground meat or meat substitute
1/2 cups diced onions
barbecue sauce to taste
1 roll refrigerated biscuits -or homemade recipe
shredded cheese- I use non dairy cheese

Brown meat and onions. Add sauce. Grease muffin pan and place one biscuit into each. Spread it out and up the sides. {to look like a cup} Place meat mixture into each muffin cup. Top with cheese and bake according to package directions.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reasons why I blog and why I don't have ads

I started blogging just on whim. I said to my self "self- you have a lot of information that you can pass on to others." I agreed with myself and so the journey began. Personally, I really enjoy reading others' blogs. I enjoy the recipes, the frugal lessons, the personal stories and pictures. So, when I began I decided to not focus on one topic but rather blog about what ever I'm feeling or doing at the time.

It's like a diary, but the entire world can access it. I never dreamed that I'd have readers. How exciting that I have 3 people following my personal journey. It's humbling and fascinating to me. I just read my stats and discovered that I had 11 page views yesterday. Thank you to you. The ones that are reading what I have to say. I appreciate you. Please let me know your blog address and I will follow you as well!!!

Now, why I don't have ads: I know that for many people, a blog is a source of income. I have been asked why I don't have any ads on mine. I thought about this and decided that I really don't want a blog full of ads.

I know that is how income is generated. I get it. I just want a blog that I can have fun with. I can say what I want to say. If I don't like a product, I can say it. I had Adsense. I don't use some of the products that it advertised on my page. It went away. I am not a professional blogger. If I were, I would gladly have many ads. I am just a stay at home mom, talking to the world about my day.

I do have Swagbucks on my page. I can get points everytime someone clicks through it. I use Swagbucks and love the program. I think everyone should should join. It's really fun. {okay Swagbucks- give me lots of points for saying that! he he}

Friday, November 12, 2010

My awesome grocery shopping trip

Yesterday was grocery shopping time. Since I only go maybe twice per month, I have plenty of time to prepare. Coupons are this girl's best friend on grocery day. I also watch the sales and combine the two.

This time I bought $104.53 worth of groceries
minus $37.90 when I handed the checker my store loyalty card
minus $20.50 in coupons I handed to her
minus $31.85 what was left on the gift card that my husband won at work
leaves $14.28 the actual amount I spent on groceries this week!

Oh. My. Goodness. I was so excited. You would've thought I had won the lottery!

{My hubby won a $50 Visa gift card at work, and we used some of it to eat out, as a treat.}

I am so happy to only deduct $14.28 from our November grocery budget! woo hoo

Thursday, November 11, 2010

decluttering update

Since I started my decluttering quest, I have made some progress. I have put into my donation bag: 2 knick knacks, 1 pair of shoes, 1 purse, 1 dress, 1 skirt, 2 blouses, 1 pumpkin carving book, 1 pkg. of photo paper, 1 coffee mug, 1 mouse pad and 1 Halloween decoration.

Today, I am sorting through my rubber stamps. I hope to remove at least half of them. I plan to list them on Ebay. The rest of the items are going to Goodwill.

Progress is good.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

it's soup time!

It's finally cold here. I was wondering if this day would ever come. We had a dusting of snow yesterday, and expect more tomorrow.

That means it's soup time! This is my cabbage soup, currently cooking in the slow cooker. It already smells so yummy!

Cabbage Soup
1 lb ground meat
4 potatoes, peeled and diced {I don't peel mine}
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup onion, diced
1-10oz can tomato soup
4 cups of water
1 T bouillon
1/2t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat and drain. Put into slow cooker and cover with remaining ingredients. Make sure that water covers veggies. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
This recipe makes 10-12 servings. Instead of cutting it in half, I make the full recipe and freeze the rest.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

canned pumpkin vs fresh

The critters got to my pumpkins this year. I was so bummed! Well, after Halloween, pumpkins were $1 each. {normally $2.99 to $5.99 each} I bought some and set out to prepare them for freezing. I haven't prepared fresh pumpkin before, so I was excited to get started.

I sliced them in half and removed the seeds and stringy parts. I roasted them, cut side down, in a 350 degree oven until soft.

After approx. 45 minutes, they were roasted and I set them out to cool.

I then scraped the pumpkin out of the shell, and pureed it. I put 2 cups of puree into each freezer bag. I saved 2 cups to bake with tomorrow.

While the oven was still warm, I roasted the seeds. Before placing on the cookie sheet, I tossed the seeds with olive oil.

So, I did half of the pumpkins today. I still have 4 more to do. Am I thrilled with this? Um, not really. I am always open to new experiences. Cooking from scratch, growing my own veggies and saving money are a small thrill for me. I must be honest, I did not enjoy this process. Is it a better bargain than canned? I'm not too sure, since the pumpkins were purchased. If they were from my garden, I might feel differently. I just think that this process is very time consuming and messy. I will process the other pumpkins tomorrow. Who knows? I may be happier about it in the morning. Maybe I'm just burned out today.

Either way, I have fresh pumpkin in the freezer and yummy seeds on the stove.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

home made hair care

There are so many products, on the market, for hair care. Even with coupons, they can get a bit pricey. I have very thick hair and live in a high altitude area, so it isn't easy to keep my hair conditioned.

I generally use Pantene products.{on sale, with coupons} They seem to keep my hair clean and mildly conditioned. As a former hairstylist, I understand that this is done by the use of waxes in the products, so I utilize baking soda occasionally, to remove build up. {just add a teaspoon to your shampoo and leave on until you feel an itch}

I know many bloggers are using plain baking soda as a shampoo, but with my dry hair and climate, that isn't an option for me.

To deep condition, I like to use a cup of mayo. You just spread it on dry hair and place a hair cap over it, or put up in a clip. Leave on for 20-30 minutes and then shampoo. It really does work. I have tried using an avocado in the same way, but just found it to be too messy. I do plan on trying a cup of unsweetened coconut milk. I just read that it is a great conditioner, and it would smell better than mayo! I'll have to research the price first.

My hair loses pigment easily and I don't want to chemically color treat my hair. I have dark hair, so I simply use 3 bags of black tea, brewed in 2 cups of hot water. Cool slightly and use as a final rinse. {do not rinse} It does add a bit of brown to the ends, which are lighter.

You can also use Earl Grey for brown hair. For blond you can use chamomile tea. For red hair, Rooibus. For lighter brown, use blackberry or raspberry tea.

I've also had success using brewed coffee in the same way. It's so much better for your heath and your budget to use this method. Of course, you can't use this to drastically change your natural color. These suggestions are only to be used if you want to perk up your color or to add depth, as I do.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

budget time!

I use a modified version of the "envelope system". I do budget a certain amount for each category, only I don't actually carry envelopes of cash. I have one envelope of cash in my purse, marked "grocery". Other than that, I keep all receipts and log them.

I have a spiral notebook that I use for my budget. I have 15 categories and a dollar amount to be spent, for each. Some include: gifts, donations, grocery, medical, hobby, clothing, school, allowance, auto, etc.

The last day of the month, I tally each category, in my notebook, and then enter this info into my budget spreadsheet on my computer. It really does help to keep spending in check, It also allows me to feel horrible when I go over budget. =)

On my spreadsheet, I have a separate listing for each budget category as well as a place for all of the monthly bills. I include savings account contributions as well. I just made savings a priority and it is part of our monthly bills. Our bank has the option to have money automatically withdrawn from checking and transferred to savings. This helps!

I read so many books, articles and blogs when I was first taking our money seriously. We were forgetting to send off bills on time and spending way too much on who knows what. I gathered a lot of information and this is the system that I came up with. We've been doing this for a few years now. It really works for us.