March 18th, 2013 — Frugal Living
I couldn’t spend less and stay on a budget if it wasn’t fun. I also couldn’t do it if it meant living in a dreary environment wearing dumpy clothes while eating beans out of a can every day.
I look at the whole thing as a game. The opponents are the advertisers who want to lure us in to get our money. The object of the game is to (legally) get great stuff that adds value to our lives while keeping as much of our money as possible. A great standard of life is one of the main objectives.
I keep finding new strategies but one of the first is (in the spirit of the game) to think “what do we already have that could meet this need?”
Here are a few more:
- Cull your list of wants carefully. There’s nothing worse than to fork over some hard earned cash only to find out that new shiny thing didn’t live up to the hype.
- Make sure you aren’t substituting shopping for something more important. I used to buy all kinds of crafty stuff instead of cleaning and organizing our home. The craft books showed me gorgeous photography of pretty homes. A cute new spring arrangement doesn’t look quite right in a cluttered mess. Now I realize that shopping took me out of the mess into a beautiful mall. It was temporary. My family needed me to be home leading the charge to make our own home nice.
- How can you be more efficient with day to day use of services and products? Keep learning. Right now I’m working on reducing the total number of cleaning supplies I buy as I learn the power of baking soda and vinegar. I also keep experimenting on using less of these daily products. If I get the same results using half as much, the savings add up. Spending money on cleaning supplies just isn’t as much fun as shopping for new shoes so I’m after it!
- Shop “gently used” for huge savings on more things than you’d imagine. Before buying anything, check out the used market. You don’t have to go that route but it’s worth investigating. My daughter just showed me how she gets to wear designer clothes for about 10% of retail on eBay. She’s petite and only looks for things that fit her measurements. This means she’s also saving on the cost of alterations.
- Review previous purchases and get better at shopping. Were any of your purchases wasteful (for example, we buy organic produce and have to be less more often or it spoils). Notice what you bought that quickly lost its shine. Where does it pay to spend more for value? Where does it not pay? This answer won’t always be the same for everyone so you’ll need to figure this out for yourself. For me, an expensive handbag is a better purchase than an expensive article of clothing. I’m messy and could stain an expensive dress. I’m a lot easier on purses. (I can hear Carmen saying “Mom, buy those purses on eBay!”) For the record, my last purse cost less than $15 at TJ Maxx.
- It goes without saying. No new debt. Pay cash and get great deals.
Comments keep coming in emails and occasionally here too. Thank you so much for your feedback. Bloggers love comments!
My dad has just been admitted to ICU. I’m leaving town to be with him and so posting may not be regular until he gets better.
March 16th, 2013 — Paleo
(images courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo)
Nom Nom Paleo
Meghan shared this site with me the other night. Meghan knows a lot and one thing she really knows is great food. Go here if you’re Paleo and go if you aren’t. If you aren’t, you still eat meat and veggies right? If you’re vegan, you still eat veggies. The photography will make you drool and every recipe I’ve tried has been amazing. George has said he loves the food and wants me to keep making it.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here but I can’t eat grains or dairy. At all. Any site that can dish this girl up a pancake or yogurt with fruit has my undying love!
I’ve made mashed cauliflower, braised cabbage, collard greens, and pancakes from the site so far. Next up, is waffles. I’m in heaven and we’re not spending any extra on groceries (this is the way we eat; I just haven’t had this many choices in a long time!)
Nom Nom Paleo cooks up Paleo Parents’ waffles
March 15th, 2013 — Drive Free Cars
I mentioned yesterday that I had taken a position for 100 shares in XXIA. The limit order executed right after I posted yesterday giving us a profit of $29.97 after commissions.
Total profits in the stock market for this month are $144.85. That is well over 1% this month for the $9536.48 balance we’re carrying.
March 14th, 2013 — Game On!
Why should you care about our bank account balance? Because we’re piling up a ton of money by saving a former car payment and growing our earnings at least 12% this year. You can too!!
Dave Ramsey’s “Drive Free Cars” was the inspiration for this project. I was trying to figure out how to earn at least 12% a year right out of the gate with our first $100 deposit and my husband pointed out I was still paying someone $20 a week to do our ironing.
The regular $100 was made today along with the extra $20 from doing our own ironing. I flipped a stock this week earning $90.92. The total amount made this month from buying and selling stocks for quick, small gains is $114.88. That is well over 1% of the total amount in our DFC account. Earning 1% each month will handily put us at earning 12% a year. I’m just trying to focus on one month at a time.
I took a position in XXIA a few days ago. 100 shares were purchased at 21.65 a share and a limit order was entered for 22.15. The sale price hasn’t been reached yet obviously. I get recommendations for stocks with great earnings from Investor’s Business Daily. There’s no guarantee so I go into these trades with a huge deep breath and a big gulp. I have no interest (and no business) advising people on how to trade in the stock market but I thought I’d start sharing my positions after they are made to stay transparent.
The total is moving deftly to the 10k mark and today stands at $9,505.59 saved since October 28, 2011.
Have you started yet? I’d love to hear about your progress. Bloggers love comments and I welcome yours including questions, tips, smack downs or anything you care to share other than spam!
March 13th, 2013 — Uncategorized
This morning I was getting ready and dropped my hairdryer.
The first thought I had was “meh – it’s getting old and I want a new one anyway”.
Then the good guy sitting on my right shoulder reached over and grabbed the bad guy on my left shoulder by the collar.
“What are you saying!” he shrieked. “That would be over $50 and that’s if she can find the high wattage dryer she needs with Amazon prime shipping. Do you know how hard she is working to earn $105.00 so her Drive Free Cars account will grow by 1% this month?”
He let go of the bad guy’s collar and the bad guy went away sulking.
I picked up my dryer and breathed a sigh of relief. It’s fine.
March 8th, 2013 — Productivity
Automatically archive certain types of email as it comes in (Gmail users)
I can’t begin to tell you how much time that has saved me. The tips outlined in the link above work. Don’t create the labels yourself. The Google smart labels will do this for you.
Do you have any tips for getting out from under a mountain of email?
March 7th, 2013 — Game On!
Why should you care about our bank account balance? Because we’re saving a ton of money by saving a former car payment and growing our earnings at least 12% this year. You can too!!
If this is your first time reading this series, get the background here.
I missed posting the DFC update for last week so this post will combine the last two weeks. Drive Free Cars has officially crossed the $9,000 mark!! I was able to make the regular $100 deposits each week plus the extra $20 each week from the previous ironing money. I also flipped another stock earning $23.96.
The grand total is now $9,295.59 saved since October 28, 2011.
As the money continues to pile up, what strikes me the most is that it’s almost effortless. We would be making a car payment anyway. Since DH is paid weekly, $100 a week is such an easy thing to do. It goes straight in the bank and I don’t even have to think about it.
Ironing the shirts is easy too. I do a little ironing every day and even timed it. It surprised me that I could iron one of his extra tall shirts in less than 5 minutes. The job is a lot easier when I know that extra $20 is going to this account week in and week out. I really get to see something for my efforts.
How do you approach savings? What tips have worked especially well for you?
February 26th, 2013 — Blogging
A few of you have emailed your comments to me today and it just made my day! Writing is easier and more fun when you get feedback.
Laura mentioned that she enjoyed seeing the link to the salt scrub. I should have mentioned that I made some the other day (just using almond oil and kosher salt). My skin was so dry and I couldn’t believe how much of a difference the scrub made. Your skin will feel so soft afterwards! I prefer a wide mouth jar, by the way, so I can scoop out what I want to use more easily. The milk jar with the pretty contrasting colored layers looked so much nicer than mine. Did you catch the way she tinted the pink layers? I just assumed it was food coloring but she actually used berries!
Sandra wrote “Btw I was reading your blog the other day and there was something you said about how moms work their way out of a job…..I really feel this way and from what you wrote……that’s a good thing.
With one turning 20 and the other getting a job soon, I really feel the empty nest coming. My husband’s so busy with work. I find I have a lot more time than I used to. But I refuse to do everything for everyone, how else can they learn. That’s why I feel I’m working myself out of a job. But it means I’m doing something right and I love that validation. Thanks!”
Sandra also shared a link from Yahoo – How a Family of 4 lives on $14,000 a year which was an inspiring read. I hope it inspires you all too!
February 23rd, 2013 — Link Love
There’s a click-able link to the tutorial or recipe after each picture.
Peppermint sugar scrub.
This terrarium makes a great frugal gift.
February 22nd, 2013 — Homemaking
(Our oldest grandson loves to make his olive oil “dip” when he comes over. His little brother isn’t so sure!)
You know one of the main purposes of being a mom is to eventually work yourself out of a job.
What better way to do it than to teach your kids how to do your home related chores? It may be hard to imagine but they literally can take over all your work and at a younger age than you’d imagine. You become the manager of your home and not the worker.
This isn’t about breaking child labor laws. It is about teaching your child practical skills that will take them far in life.
My first taste of learning this was from an awesome babysitter I hired. She was 12! (We weren’t gone long and my kids weren’t babies.) When I got home, the house was way cleaner than when I left it. After picking my jaw off the floor (realize I had just been outdone by a 12 year old) I asked her how she did it. The kids were fawning over her so I knew she didn’t lock them in a closet.
“Oh I played with them for 15 minutes and then told them we had to clean something. I kept doing it until you got home.”
Unfortunately I didn’t fully grasp her lesson until I had grandchildren (I should have stayed home with my own children alternating playing and cleaning) but it’s not too late for you. I field tested these tips with my grandchildren. I know they work!!
When it’s time to play, really play. Give them 100% of your attention and concentration. They are going to love it! Then tell them it’s time to clean something. Start really small (the younger they are, the shorter these cleaning sessions should be). I think a great place to start is their room. Make the bed (you help them) or pick up a few toys. If the room is neat, run the vacuum. Then play some more.
You won’t get as much free time at first but your kids will blossom. They’ll learn real life skills from you. They won’t be messing up the house. The free time you do get will eventually grow and grow as the kids do more and more. You want to get to a point that they truly can do it all.
Here are a few tips:
- Let the kids start helping clean the bathroom they use. Keep a container of baby wipes (they clean really well) and a bottle of vinegar (it works as a non-toxic toilet cleaner). At first, show them how to use a wipe to wipe down the sink and vanity. Eventually they can branch out to cleaning the toilet. The tub can be cleaned as they take a bubble bath (just rinse it all down after they bathe).
- Let them help you cook. As their skills grow, let them take over a complete dish (at first, it may just be a salad). Every time your child serves her dish, make it obvious that enjoy eating it and appreciate the work that was done. They will beam with joy when they master their first meal. So will you!
- Give each child their own laundry basket. Start teaching them how to do their own laundry. Even a three year old can toss his laundry in the washer, help put it in the dryer, and fold the clothes.
- Start younger than you can even imagine. Make this a way of life. If your kids are older, just start now. Hang with them giving them your full attention. Then say we have to do this one thing. Hang some more.
- Give constant praise.
- Don’t critique their efforts. It’s either good, better or the best ever. Would you want your mom to come over and nit pick every thing you try to accomplish today? I didn’t think so!
- Make it fun. Think of ways to make it a game. When I taught two of my grandsons how to clean their bathroom, we pretended like we were commandos invading the bathroom to kill all the bad guys (dirt and germs).
- Even a small tot can put silverware away. Do it with them and you’ll be shocked at how quickly they learn to sort it properly.
- If they spill or break something, just be matter of fact about it. Tell the truth – it happened to you too. Quickly clean it up and move on. Watch out for this one. My husband was fussing at me for letting the kids get their own milk. The whole gallon instantly fell to the floor. I pretended it was no big deal (even though I’m quite sure the child in question was trying to prove my husband’s point) and just quietly cleaned up. They continued getting their own and no more milk was spilled.
- Don’t ever make the work time grow in one session (in other words, don’t think “Wow that went well. Let’s squeeze another 10 minutes out of this.”) You’ll burn them out.
- Decluttering can be a job too. “Lets toss 5 things and get back to playing.” That will work.
- Use a stopwatch to show them how little time it took. If you are alternating 15 minute periods of play and work and they finish their job well in 5 minutes, tell them they get the leftover time to play. When you clean something that is clean, it only takes a minute.
- Once they learn a chore, do it with them every day. Point out that cleaning something that was clean is easy. It’s also fast (see the previous point ).
- You’ll start to catch them picking up after themselves or just doing a job by rote. When that happens, go wild. Tell them they are just giving themselves more playtime and make good on it. Show them their work pays off.
- Don’t use negative language referring to work. Again, keeping it fun, let them know that it’s pleasant to do a routine chore. If you think it’s not, try going without power and water for 8 days straight. You’ll be dying to do the dishes or a load of laundry.
Oh and our oldest grandson? The last time he came over, he told us to chill because he was doing breakfast. We were treated to perfectly cooked omelets!
What tips have worked for you? How do you get your kids to help?