Archive for January, 2009

National Pie Day – Frugal Fun Friday

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Happy National Pie Day… this holiday created by the American Pie Council and celebrated today was the inspiration for this week’s frugal fun Friday post. It’s simple… just make a pie. Any pie.

You may want to start by making a batch of easy pie crust. Then it’s time to decide what kind of pie you want to make. You could make up the all American apple pie, some yummy berry pie, a cream pie or since we are still in the winter months a pumpkin or sweet potato pie. Or how about a savory pie for dinner. A Chicken Pot Pie or a Quiche Lorraine would both make a delicious meal. You can find some of my favorite pie recipes right here.

My personal favorite is a slice of apple pie. How about you? I’d love to hear what your favorite pie is and if you’d like, leave your favorite pie recipe as a comment.

Clean Your Couch – Tidy Tuesday

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I don’t know about you, but between we tend to spend more time on the couch this time of the year than during summer, spring and fall. As I was sitting in front of the TV this morning waiting for the inauguration ceremonies to start, I noticed that all this extra time and attention left its marks on my couches.  Both of them had way too many blankets and pillows piled on them and inbetween were hidden toys, and a remote. Add to that various magazines and books scattered around and on the coffee table and you get a pretty good picture of the bad shape my living room was in.

I spent a little time here and there throughout the morning straightening out the couches. Here ate the little baby steps I took while keeping an eye on the happenings on TV and of course spending time with my family. All in all it probably took me about 45 minutes.

  • Fold blankets and putting most of them away, keeping just one decorative throw
  • Returning lost toys etc. to their “homes”
  • Take out seat cushions and give them a good “beating” outside
  • Dig out change and small toys from in and under the couch
  • Vaccume couch
  • Clean surface of couch depending on material

We have microfiber couches in the living room and the best way to clean them, get the dust off and really get them looking better again is to take a soft clean cloth and just barely dampen it with a little water. I then use it to lightly wipe down the couches.

I’m sitting on one of the couches right now and it feels even more comfortable than before. Definitely well worth the effort.

For more cleaning tips, take a look at the following Hillbilly Housewife Ebook

Spring Cleaning Guide

Turn Down The Heat – Frugal Challenge

Monday, January 19th, 2009

It’s been a busy day for us, since tomorrow is our daughter’s 6th birthday, so I’m just now getting a few minutes to share this week’s frugal challenge with you. I think she’s a little excited about it… I just had to put her back to bed for the third time :)

But let’s get back to this week’s frugal challenge. I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but down here it’s been pretty cold. It’s tempting to turn up the thermostat and make sure it’s nice and toasty inside when it’s freezing outside. Unfortunately that can pretty quickly drive up your heating bill.

That’s why I’m challenging you this week to turn down the thermostat in your home by a degree or two. Just put on some extra clothes and curl up with a blanket when you relax on the couch at night.

There are also a lot of little things you can do to keep all that warm air in. Don’t leave the doors open unnecessarily long when you get in and out of the house. If you feel air leaking in at the bottom of your front door, roll up a towel or blanket and stick it down there. Here are some other winter heating tips you can quickly and easily implement.

By the way, if you keep your house pretty warm right now, just turn it down a degree at a time and then give yourself and your family a day or so to adjust to the new cooler temperature. It’ll make the changes easier on everyone and help you stick with it in the long run.

When Is The Last Time You’ve Reviewed Your Budget?

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

After yesterday’s post about making debt reduction a New Year’s resolution (and after emailing the HBHW newsletter list about it as well), the emails kept pouring in. I’m so excited to hear that so many of us are making it a priority in 2009 to reduce the amount of money we owe.

Whether it’s paying of credit cards, a car loan, mortgage or setting some more money aside as an emergency fund, for college or for retirement, we a lot more likely to succeed with a plan. And that plan should include a family budget. I’ve been talking about this quite a bit and it seems most of us have one already.

But when was the last time you looked at it and adjusted it? Now is a great time to sit down and review your existing budget (or of course make one in the first place). Go over your list of expenses and see if you have since added something new, or if what you are paying has changed. This is also a great time to reevaluate what you do and don’t need. You may also want to shop around and see if you can get some better rates for that car insurance or your cable tv and internet package.

Prices for anything from groceries to clothing have gone up, so you may need to allot a little more money in that category.

Don’t forget to take a good look at money coming in as well. Has anything changed there? Maybe you’ve since gotten a raise, or have taken on a better paying job.

Once you’ve given your budget a good makeover and have taken out any unnecessary expenses, you should have a pretty good idea of how much money you’ll have left over at the end of the month.

That figure should give you a good starting point for your monthly goals to reach your financial goal for 2009 whatever it may be. Just take baby steps and before you’ll know it you’ll reach your goals.

New Year’s Resolution – Get Out Of Debt

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I thought I’d share a little story with you on New Year’s Resolutions. I went through a bunch of papers in my desk the other day and came across a note I wrote to myself last January. It was my New Year’s resolution and here’s what it said.

“My goal for 2008 is to finally get out of credit card debt”.

I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to accomplish it, since we owed quite a bit, but during the first part of the year, I kept that note on my desk to remind myself that this was our big financial goal for the year. And little by little we ate away at that debt. And guess what? By September of last year we had our cards paid off and since then we’ve also been able to pay off our car loan. It’s a good feeling to know that our only debt is our mortgage and we have some plans to pay it off well ahead of schedule as well. As an added bonus, our monthly disposable income has gone way up because we are no longer paying interest on all that consumer debt.

How about you? Are you ready to make a serious New Year’s Resolution, put it in writing and work each day, week or month toward that goal? I put together a little worksheet for you. Just fill in the blanks and keep it close by to help you turn your resolutions into reality.

Here it is:

By the way, if reducing or even eliminating credit card debt is one of your resolutions, I can highly recommend the “Winning The Credit Card Game” ebook from Living on A Dime. You can get your copy here

What I’ve been Working On

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I just sent out an email to the HBHW newsletter subscribers to let them know what I’ve been working on the past few weeks. Since this blog has been a little quiet, I thought I’d share it here as well.

Quite a few loyal Hillbilly Housewife readers have emailed me the past few days to check in on me and see why things have been kinda quiet again on the website. So I thought I’d give you a quick update. I’m doing fine (thanks for all the concerned messages and the encouraging comments regarding my “I’m back” post). I’ve actually been working hard and am ready to give you a little glance at what I’ve been so busy working on.

. I started by sitting down and going through a lot of the emails I’ve gotten over the past few weeks and months. Looking through them I noticed that many of us are struggling to make ends meet with rising grocery prices and an uncertain economy. At the same time, not everyone can take hours out of their busy day to cook inexpensive homecooked meals, at least not on a daily basis. Many moms are working fulltime or have other obligations that make it impossible for them to spend hours in the kitchen each day.

So I did a lot of thinking about a solution that’s both budget and time friendly. The solution is as simple as it is effective… it’s freezer cooking. The basic idea is that you cook meals for your family when you have time, based on items that are on sale that particular week. Then you freeze the meals and use them throughout the week.

I sat down and started working on an ebook for your that covers the basics of freezer cooking and includes some of my favorite recipes. I’m hoping to have the Freezer Cooking made Simple ebook finished by Tuesday.

My wonderful assistant Patti and I have also been busy working on the HBHW recipe collection. If everything goes as planned you should be able to order it toward the beginning of February.

Other than that, I’m planning on blogging more regularly whenever possible, get out a new edition of the HBHW newsletter to you next week and add more cooking tips and frugal recipes to the website.

Time To Get More Organized

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Each January I spent some time organizing my desk and my computer files. It’s such a great feeling to start with a fresh slate and get off to a good start in the New Year. This year I was so motivated by the way my work area looked that I started reorganizing the kitchen next. I had done this about 4 months ago, but over the holidays we ended up getting it all messy again. I guess that’s what happens when you do some extra cooking and baking and have family visiting who insist on helping out around the house :)

If you’re still not completely sold on the whole “getting organized” thing or if you just need a little extra motivation to get going, take a moment to read the article below. Who knew being cluttered could end up costing you money.

The Cost of Clutter
by Jill Cooper

We live in a society of extremes. People seem to be extremely in debt, extremely overweight and extremely disorganized. People everywhere are trying to come up with new and better solutions to solve these problems but not many of their ideas are working.

It’s because they are focusing on the wrong problem. For example, if your child comes to you and says “I have a drug problem.” You don’t sit them down and say, “Well let’s work on a way to get your grades up and then we’ll work on your drug problem.” How foolish that would be. The real problem is not the grades but the drugs. You take care of the drugs and the chances are pretty good that the grades will come up.

For some of us, instead of focusing on getting out of debt or losing weight, we need to first give more serious thought to becoming organized. Does that sound crazy, almost laughable? Before you start laughing too hard, look at these examples and see if you can relate.

How often do you go out to eat because your kitchen is a mess? If your kitchen is clean, chances are you would not only be more willing to fix dinner at home but in the morning you would fix breakfast and pack yourself a lunch too.

Here are some benefits of getting your kitchen organized:

* You would save at least $5,000 a year for one person, $10,000 for two, and so on if you ate at home.

* When you are organized you know what you have in your pantry, so don’t buy ingredients that you already have and you don’t throw out food you forgot you have.

* You would be using your leftovers instead of tossing them.

* You will start losing weight because you are preparing regular well balanced meals instead of eating fast food all the time. Besides the fact that homemade food generally has fewer calories than fast food, balanced meals create fewer cravings and this helps eliminate grazing.

Organizing can reduce your wardrobe and laundry costs.

* Do you keep buying more clothes because you are gaining weight from fast food or from the stress of your clutter?

* How big is your wardrobe? Do you or your children own 30 pairs of jeans at $60 a pop because you don’t keep up with the laundry or because your closet is so stuffed you can’t find anything? That adds up to $1,800 worth of jeans. If you cut it down to even 10 pairs you would save $1,200. How many tops do you own? How about those shoes? Before you say, “There is no way I have that many jeans, shoes, or tops!” go count you clothes. You may be surprised…

* How often do you toss a suit jacket on the floor or on the furniture and then later have to have it dry cleaned because it’s wrinkled? Just think what you could save on your dry cleaning bill if you keep a little more organized.

Organizing saves you money!

Organizing can save you money in every aspect of your life.

* Do you buy new items because you can’t find something? The cost of things like tools, glue, tape, ropes, garden tools, kitchen items, light bulbs, batteries, office supplies and other things really adds up.

* How much do you pay each month in late fees on your bills because you can’t find them, your checkbook or even a stamp to mail them?

Try something different!

So often we think that the solution to our debt problem is for both spouses to work outside the home. At times we even compound the problem when one or both spouses takes a second job.

When both spouses work out of the home, who takes care of the house? Frequently, there is a constant battle between them about whose job it is to take care of some element of the housework. After all, the husband has been out working all day, so he doesn’t feel like it. Oh, but the wife has been working, too so why can’t she take a break?

Imagine if your boss at work decided to work a second full time job. How would this impact your work place? Who would you ask if you couldn’t find products for your customers? What if there was no change because your boss was at his other job until after the bank closed? What if you needed help or advice from your boss, but he said, “Not now… I’m too tired from my other job?” How long would that company last? The same thing happens in many homes every day.

Would your family be better served if one spouse stayed home? Someone needs to be responsible for the bulk of the care and maintenance of the home and family. Ideally, everyone will share the work, but like in any other business there has to be one person in charge. Otherwise, everyone will avoid the work and everything will descend into chaos.

If this sounds like your home, you might sit down with your spouse and seriously consider whether one of you might take off of work to try to get your home in order. Instead of thinking of staying at home as a prison sentence, think of it as another job to help save you money, reduce family stress and add more family comfort.

If you’re considering staying home, get rid of the emotions and, with pen and paper (hopefully you can find one) in hand, write down the ways that being disorganized is costing you money. Be honest and try to cover even the small things. You might find that the money you are spending dealing with disorganization is equal to or more then one spouse’s take home pay.

Organization has nothing to do with what is politically correct or what the media or other people tell you you need to do. It is a practical choice that you can make. I am NOT saying that you can’t work doing something that you love. I am saying that regardless of how your family handles it, the work of keeping the home has to get done.

If you feel that you and your spouse have to or both want to work, then try to come up with other ideas.

* Would spending your vacation organizing things and deep cleaning give you enough of a jump start to help keep things organized? Maybe once you organized everything you could consider hiring someone to clean your house once a week. Before you say you can’t afford it, think about this– Which would cost less? — Paying someone $50 a week to clean your house or paying for all the things that cost you money because you are not organized?

* Consider whether it would be worth one spouse working part time instead of full time.

* Try one simple thing like hanging up your clothes so you don’t have cleaners expense or getting the whole family to pitch in with cleaning the kitchen at the end of each meal.

Maybe you do have the time, but you just don’t know how to get organized. If that is the case, then learn. Check out books at the library or search for help on the Internet. Better yet, find someone you know who is organized and ask them to teach you. Don’t be embarrassed to do this. Most people are more than willing to show you how to do things. Remember, those older women (and men) that seem to have it all together now didn’t start out that way. They’ve had 20 years or more practice and they remember what it was like to not have a clue where to start. Just ask.

Instead of wasting your time and energy on trying to bail the water out of your sinking boat by bailing faster or using a bigger bucket, fix the hole. CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER AND SAVE.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.

Find Those Loss Leaders – Frugal Challenge

Monday, January 5th, 2009

It’s Monday and time for another frugal challenge. This one is going to involve just a little bit of homework, but don’t worry, it won’t take you long and you will reap the benefits from this one little grocery shopping strategy for years to come.

Sit down this week with your grocery store circulars and find at least one good loss leader. A loss leader is a product that a store prices very low (often below what they pay for it), to get you in the door. Their hope is of course that you will also end up buying plenty of overpriced items, which helps them make up for the money they lose on the loss leader. Part of the challenge is to not let that happen to you. Make a list before you head to that store with exactly what you are going to buy at a good price.

Common loss leaders in grocery stores are milk, eggs, various cuts of meats (like chicken breast, hamburger meat etc.), canned soup etc. Just take a few minutes to browse through the grocery store ads and find something you can get a great deal on that you actually need and will use.

Many store circulars are in the daily newspaper a certain day of the week, while others are sent directly to your mail box. If you don’t get the paper, you can often find the ads online. You can also grab them from a paper of a friend or even the library.

Don’t forget to come back here and let me know what loss leader you found. I can’t wait to hear about all those great deals.

Hunt For Sales on Christmas Decoration – Frugal Fun Friday

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Ok, it’s about time I picked up my regular posts again and since today is Friday, let’s talk about some frugal fun.and since decorations don’t go bad, I can buy them now, then pack them up with my other stuff and have them ready to go next year.

I’m about to head out to do some shopping now. Last year for example, I was able to get a beautiful Christmas wreath for my door for 75% off and ended up paying less than $5 for it.

Homemade Wreath
Creative Commons License photo credit: silver marquis

How about you? Do you shop for decorations or even presents for next year in early January? If so, what’s been your best buy?

Happy New Year

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

I’m sneaking away from time with my family. My parents and my sister have been in town since before Christmas and we’ve enjoyed hanging out and spending the holidays together. Since I haven’t been posting much lately, I at least wanted to stop in and wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

This is also the perfect time for resolutions and I thought maybe we could share ours and keep each other accountable to reach our goals and create new habits.

On a personal level, I want to eat better, get more exercise and lose a few pounds. I’ll sit down early next week and come up with some specific goals.

For the website, I’m planning on reworking the healthy section (adding more recipe and more info them). I’m also planning on adding more recipes and writing the newsletter more regularly again. I’m also trying to come up with some more ways that will allow you to add your own recipes to the site.

Better get back to my house guest, but you can expect me to be back here full time after Monday.