I just got through sending out this week’s newsletter. We’re continuing with our “back to school” theme this week and talk about school cloth shopping. I also have a great frugal tip for you that involves something you’ll find in the school supply section. It’s been a big time and money saver around here…
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Please take a moment to watch this short video called “I’m Putting up The Flag”. I watched it this morning and it brought tears to my eyes.
Does this sound familiar? You are finally getting comfortable with your budget and are living within your means and then all of a sudden something breaks, someone gets sick or some other unexpected expense shows up and is ready to wreak havoc on your personal finances.
Let’s take a look at how we can deal with this situation – no matter what the unexpected expense is for without totally blowing our budget.
There are two basic scenarios I want to look at. The first is what to do if you’ve already build up some emergency savings, the second what to do when you’re not at that point yet.
It’s Thursday and time for another Tight-Fisted Thursday post. Let’s have a little chat about making and then sticking to savings goals. Doing this and then going back and reviewing your savings goals on a regular basis is the most powerful thing I know of that helps me keep more of my hard-earned money on a regular basis. Let’s get started…
Where Are You At?
To build good savings habits is really only a simple matter of actually doing something instead of doing nothing. So, start where you are. For example, at the end of each day, empty you wallet and pockets of any change you accumulated during the day, and put it in a jar. Deposit this money monthly into a savings account.
Another option is to skip on one coffee a day, and put a dollar aside instead. At the end of the month, this will amount to roughly $30 to deposit into that savings account. After an entire year of doing this, you will have saved an approximated $360!
Think about where you spent money on a regular basis and what you can change to save just a little bit here and there. Is there a phone or utility bill you could reduce? Could you move to a smaller cable package, or cut it out all-together? My big weakness are books and magazines. I love to read and could easily spend a hundred dollars on those each month. Instead I make myself check books and magazines out at the library and deposit those savings into an account.
What Are Your Spending Habits?
Many people typically spend approximately $5 eating out several times a week at the office cafeteria. If you were to reduce this to only once or twice a week, you could take the extra five dollars from the days you don’t spend it, and deposit it into your savings account.
The same scenario can be used once you finish paying off your car or student loans. Once the actual loan has been paid in full, continue depositing the same amount in your savings account every month.
You can do the same when you get a raise. You’ve lived just fine on your old-income before. Take at least half of the extra money you are making now and stick it into a savings account.
Are You Setting Yourself Up For Success or Failure?
In the beginning it’s hard to stick to your savings plan. It would be so much more fun to just “blog” that extra cash on some fun stuff for you or the kids. The best way to get over this and make saving a lifelong habit, is to experience some small successes along the way. Believe me, positive reinforcement works as well with us as it does with the kids. Start out by picking short-term, easily attainable goals which will give you a sense of personal satisfaction from the start.
For example, your goal might be a new stereo or paying off a credit card balance. Determine what those goals will cost, and give yourself a deadline for achieving them. Then all you have to do is just do it – begin by setting aside the right amount of money as per your schedule, and stick to it. Before you know it, your goal will have been reached.
Do I Need This Or Do I Want This?
At some point or another we all have the urge to splurge or pamper ourselves. Of course it’s nice to treat ourselves to something new every now and again. Before making any purchase, however, remember to take the time to consider these questions: “Do I need this?” and “Does this help me achieve my savings goal?” As a rule this will help you make the appropriate decision and stay focused on your goals before making a purchase.
A good way to avoid impulse buys is to just put it off for a day and sleep over it. (Of course this doesn’t work when you need milk for the kids or diapers for the baby). But before you buy something nonessential, make yourself wait until the next day and see if you still really want it bad enough to take that money away from reaching your savings goals. You’ll be surprised how often that new blouse or the toy you just had to get for the kids don’t seem as appealing anymore once the first impulse to buy is gone.
Are You Monitoring Your Expenses?
You may want to sit down at the end of each month and review all of your expenses. There may have been areas you didn’t consider before, but by seeing them on paper you realize they are part of what needs to change for the next month. This is yet another good reason to set up and keep a monthly family budget.
Are You Sticking To Your Plan?
The most important point in any savings plan is to stick with it. Some people find it helpful to keep their goals in writing. Writing down the amount you need as well as the date you expect to achieve your goal gives you something concrete to focus on. With long-term goals, such as saving for retirement, you may find it helpful to establish milestones you can celebrate along the way.
Are You Thinking Big Enough?
Big-time savers use an “I can” attitude while thinking long term. By exercising discipline now you can see rewarding paybacks later on. Saving can make the world of difference not only for yourself, but for your children as well. Starting to save today means less to worry about tomorrow.
In last week’s newsletter I asked you to submit your favorite frugal recipe. These are posted below. Now it’s time to vote for your favorite one. Take a moment to browse through them and then vote for your favorite.
Thanks – Susanne
I woke up this morning to a bunch of emails from shocked readers who went to the website and couldn’t find a particular recipe or article… Don’t Panik ! Nothing is being deleted, taken off the site etc. I’m just moving everything from an old and clunky way to build websites to a an easier way for me to manage everything. I’m working as fast as I can to move things, but it will take a little time to get everything into the new system.
I added a link to the Welcome area of the home page that will take you to the old version of the website. I’m also adding it right here for you – http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/indexold.htm
Here are a few things I really like about this new version of the website and those are the reasons why I decided to switch to this new system:
- It’s much faster for me to add new recipes and articles…expect to see a lot more new stuff as a result.
- You can leave comments and feedback on each recipe or article making the website a lot more interactive.
- The print versions are automatically generated so each recipe will have a print version right away and there should be no more issues of the wrong recipe printing.
- You can bookmark the recipes at your favorite social networking sites like delicious, digg etc. with the click of a button.
- You can email a specific recipe to a friend with the click of your mouse.
- The search function works better, making it easier for you to find the recipe or article you are looking for.
I’ll talk more about these improvements later… for now, I’m going to get back to moving more recipes over to the new area.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions, over the past few days especially, from my 6-year old about Easter and why we celebrate it. Good Friday (which used to be called God’s Friday by the way) and what happened that day is of course of special interest today.
I’ve done some research online to make sure I can answer all her questions and find a way to explain all this to her in an age appropriate way. One activty I came across is to make resurrection eggs. We are going to be making them today and then get them back out in the weeks before Easter each year.
Here’s how to make them. Start by getting out 12 plastic Easter eggs. Get out a Sharpe marker or some stickers and a pen and label them with the numbers 1-12. Then it’s time to fill them.
- Egg 1 – a piece of fur or a small toy donkey to represent the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem
- Egg 2 – a cracker symbolizing the Last Supper
- Egg 3 – a piece of soap, symbolizing Jesus washing the disciples’ feet
- Egg 4 – three dimes to symbolize the 30 pieces of silver Judas received to betray Jesus
- Egg 5 – a feather to represent the rooster that crowed three times
- Egg 6 – a thorn, symbolizing the crown of thorns that was put on Jesus’ head
- Egg 7 – a die to symbolize the lots that were cast for Jesus’ clothing
- Egg 8 – a small wooden cross or a nail to represent Jesus’ death on the cross
- Egg 9 – a piece of black paper to symbolize the darkness that covered the earth
- Egg 10 – a piece of cloth to symbolize the cloth in which Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body
- Egg 11 – a rock to symbolize the stone that sealed Jesus’ tomb
- Egg 12 – Leave this egg empty to symbolize Jesus’ resurrection
I think I’ve mentioned before that my daughter is a daisy girl scout. That’s what inspired this week’s Frugal Fun Friday activity. Our girl scouts have their yearly Thinking Day this weekend. Over the past few weeks the girls have been learning about a different country and culture. Our troop has been learning more about Germany.
It’s a lot of fun, and perfect for a Frugal Fun Friday. Pick a country and then use the internet and your local library to learn more about that country. Learn some simple phrases in a different language and don’t forget to check out some recipes from that region as well and make them for dinner this weekend. Then come back and share what country you explored and any good recipes you’ve come across from there.
Happy Frugal Fun Friday… since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I thought we could all share some fun foods and recipes to make for that special, romantic day. Hubby and I usually don’t do much for Valentine’s day, but it’s always fun to come up with a little something special.
This is also the first year that out daughter is really getting into Valentine’s Day. She’s been busy making cards and little bags of treats for her friends. I thought it would be nice to surprise both her and my hubby with some Valentine inspired dishes tomorrow.
For breakfast I was thinking of either making some heart shaped pancakes, or take it a step further and make some two tone pancakes. It’s basically a matter of making a batch of pancake batter and then dividing it evenly in two bowls. Use food coloring to turn one half of the batter red or pink. Then make the pancakes as usual. When done, use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut a heart out of the middle of each pancake. Gently take out the heart. Put a red heart inside the cutout shape of the plain pancake and vice versa.
I’m going to make a heart shaped pizza for dinner tomorrow night. We have pizza quite a bit on Saturdays anyway, but this will give it a fun twist. I’m going to use this quick and easy pizza recipe. Of course you could also ask your favorite pizza place to make you a special heart shaped pizza.
Of course you could also cook a nice romantic dinner for just the two of you. We did this on our anniversary last year. We waited until our daughter was in bed, then set the table with a tablecloth, a candle and our good china.
Here’s an idea for a romantic 3 course dinner. You may also want to pick up a bottle of wine.
- Crockpot Minestrone SoupI like the idea of using a crockpot because you’ll have time to enjoy the evening and don’t have to worry about finishing this first course. Serve a small serving as the first course, then save the rest for lunch tomorrow.
- Pick a simple meal that you can stick in the oven and cook without having to watch over it the entire time. I like this oven pot roast. Just roast some potatoes, onions and carrots in a separate pan alongside your roast.
- How about some homemade brownies for dessert. Cut each of you a piece, place each on a plate and drizzle with chocolate syrup for a stunning dessert.
Ok, now it’s your turn. Got any good frugal Valentine ideas?
I didn’t have a chance to write this up yesterday, but here’s what I did for my tidy Tuesday. I went through the entire house and cleaned every single door we have. When I set out to do this, I didn’t realize how many there were. Quite a few of our rooms have two or more doors and there are two on every single closet.
And boy did they need a good cleaning. I didn’t realize how dirty and dusty they were until I looked into my cleaning bucket after scrubbing the first few. Yuck.
The most effective way for me to clean my doors is to fill a bucket with warm water and add a few drops of dawn dishwashing soap. Then I grab an old cleaning rag and put in some elbow grease.
I think next time I do this, I’ll split the doors up and take at least two days to clean them all. I didn’t get a chance yet to work on the outside of our front and back door. That’s on the cleaning agenda for later this week.
A remember about 2 years ago we went though a period where it seemed to rain constantly. The result was a swamp of a yard and most of the time it was too wet to go to the park too. I was running out of ideas to keep my active preschooler busy. She was just at that age were she loved to cut things out and paste them on paper to make collages.
One of those days, I also got a bunch of grocery store ads and other junk mail printed on glossy paper. There was even a credit card offer with a bunch of little stickers (you were supposed to pick your favorite CC design). My little one got all excited when she saw all the mail and was begging me to let her use the stickers and cut out the things in the grocery store ads.
It kept her busy all afternoon and she ended up using only a third of the things that were in the mail that day.
Since then, I’ve been saving all junk mail that looks like it could turn into an interesting crafting project. I keep them in a box in one of my bottom kitchen cabinet and pull it out whenever child boredom strikes. Works like a charm every single time.
We’ve made collages, magazine beads and paper mache.
As a child, I spent quite a bit of time at my grandmother’s house. Like any good housewife of her generation, nothing was thrown out and it wasn’t uncommon to serve yesterday’s leftovers for lunch or dinner.
I remember complaining to her about having to eat the same thing twice in a row. I didn’t like the idea of having something that was just reheated.
Grandma had no problem with that… “Just don’t eat” she said, “Or go and fix yourself a peanut butter sandwich”.
And while she fixed those same leftovers for herself, she quoted her own grandmother, ” I’ll just add an egg and eat it myself”.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized that she would save these yummy leftovers of last night’s home-cooked meal for me.
To her (and any sane person … except apparently to a snotty 8 year old girl) these leftovers were treasured morsels of food… much more tasty and satisfying than a plain sandwich.
Eventually I grew up and grew to appreciate leftovers. I also learned something else from these smart women. You can easily take some leftovers, add something simple like an egg, some cheese or some chicken stock to them and turn them into a very different and very delicious meal.
…. but the post I just got through reading brought tears to my eyes. I am very lucky to still have both my grandmothers around and along with my husband’s grandma (a true hillbilly woman), they are three of the strongest women I know and people whose advise I highly value.
But they are so much more than that. They are the ones that spoiled me and cared for me during summer vacations or when I was sick and my parents had to work.
As much as I love them, and love to spend time with them, other “more important” things (who of course aren’t more important) keep me from visiting with them as much as I would like.
The blog post I just read put all this into perspective for me. It is a beautiful post about a woman of the same caliber as my grandma.
Take a moment to read A Tribute To Nana
April 22 (today) is the annual Earth Day celebration. Global communities will do their part promoting public awareness on environmental issues. Earth Day Fairs will be held in many cities which will include activities such as park cleanups, tree planting, educational videos, and local environmental demonstrations to name a few.
For the entire day the public is focused on thinking ‘green’ and what actions will serve to protect our planet. It is a national holiday of sorts for those who care deeply about environmental issues and an opportune time for those that want to learn more.
To ensure a safe and clean planet for future generations it is not enough to think environmental issues for one day only. We must think ‘green’ every day of the year. Decide now to start small with these easy resolutions to make ‘green’ living an essential part of your daily routine.
Begin by making a pledge
When you make a commitment you are more apt to follow through. Pledges may be available at Earth Day festivities. Or go online and do a Google search for Earth Day Pledge in quotes. There are several sites listed that have a variety of pledges you can sign. Compare the various petitions. Commit to the one that lists options that best fits your daily habits. You can also challenge yourself by resolving to do something that falls outside your normal comfort zone. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that going green doesn’t mean you have to be a martyr.
Educate yourself and others
Check your community for local environmental programs that educate. Once knowledgeable concerning environmental issues, you could offer to give a class at the local library or school classroom to educate others on living ‘green’. In this way you will be contributing to the community and raising environmental awareness at the same time.
Change out incandescent lights with fluorescent lights
This might seem like a small step but it is an important one. Initially, there will be an upfront expense. Besides saving energy, however, over time you will see a significant savings on your electric bill. Replacement costs will decrease since fluorescent lights will not have to be replaced as often. And, there are many more styles to choose from today than there were. You aren’t necessarily stuck with the squiggles.
Turn off lights and appliances when not in use
When you leave a room, turn off the light. Put all appliances and electronic devices on power strips so you can easily turn them off just by flipping the switch.
Check with your local recycling center to find out what kind of materials is accepted in your area. Commonly accepted items include paper, glass, plastic containers and aluminum cans.
Drive less and walk more
Are you close enough to shops, school or work to walk? Plan your driving trips. Cut down on fuel costs by combining errands? If you must drive, team up with neighbors or workmates.
Resolve to do your part today and every day to make the earth a safe place to reside. With a strong commitment and a little extra effort living green will become second nature.
I just got off the phone with Leslie Earnest from the LA Times. She’s working on a story about the increased cost of foods and how folks are dealing with it. We had a nice chat about HillbillyHousewife.com and how we are getting more and more people searching for low cost recipes and meal ideas. I’m looking forward to reading her finished article.
She would also love to speak to a Hillbilly Housewife reader from California. If you live in that beautiful state and have found HillbillyHousewife.com helpful and you don’t mind getting a call from Leslie, send me an email with your contact information, or leave a comment below and I will get in touch with you.
Susanne – The HillbillyHousewife