Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Weight of Debt!

The home we moved in to last year was built in 1917 and was in pretty bad shape. It needed a lot of initial work. There have been a lot of small projects since then, too.  I started a bad habit using my credit card to fund these small projects with the goal of paying off the balance once I got paid. Somehow it snowballed and I ended up with a $250 credit card bill. We have been debt free for nearly 5 years (except our mortgage) and even though the unpaid balance was small it still hung heavy over my head. I used every extra penny so I could pay it off. My commitment to staying debt free has been renewed... as long as it is within my power.

The lesson I learned again is that debt feels like a ball and chain hanging around my neck. Secondly, it steals money from future paychecks. Third, it would have been wise to save the money FIRST and then pay for the projects instead of stealing from future paychecks.
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.  Proverbs 22:7 NASB

Here is how I saved money in my home this week:

1. A friend called and offered free peaches from her tree. I dropped all my plans for the day and went to pick 2 small buckets. Free food rarely comes at a convenient moment. I'm learning to take advantage of it when the opportunity arises.  I've missed out on free food in the past because I didn't flex and give up my schedule.  I froze some of the peaches for smoothies and some will be used in low carb pies. What a huge blessing. I went back a few days later and picked a half a bucket of blackberries and another bag of peaches.

2.  I've been saving egg shells to make another batch of liquid fertilizer. I put them in a bucket with a lid in the backyard until I had enough. A few days ago I made 1 batch to pour on our tomatoes. I need to make another batch this weekend. I boiled a gallon of water and pour it over 20 egg shells and then steeped it for 8 hours. I removed the egg shells before I poured the water on the tomatoes.

3. I'm still trying to reduce my grocery budget. So, I decided to make up a new 2 week menu. I'm going to try something new. I'm going buy a 10 pound bag of chicken each week at .69-89 cents a pound. I'll barbecue it, fry it, shred it.. you get the idea.  I'll either use beef or fish 1-2 times a week and keep the price under $3 a pound.  I'm hoping hubby can tolerate that much chicken. :-)

4.  I have a lot of spaghetti squash in the garden and LOTS of tomatoes. I made 2 batches of spicy tomato sauce which is like a marinara sauce and froze it. I used the tomato sauce to make a spaghetti sauce and poured it over the spaghetti squash. My eggplants are ripe so I used a large one to make Eggplant Parmesan. I used the leftover spicy tomato sauce which is like a Marinara sauce. I picked fresh basil from my herb garden to layer in between.  I wasn't sure if my husband would like it but he loved it. I have enough for one more meal.

5. I ran out of homemade stain remover so I made a new batch. I've been using it for a year and a half and I've had no problems with it bleaching the clothes and it does a good job of getting out new stains. I previously put it in a spray bottle but the end of the sprayer became clogged. So, this time I put the mixture in a quart jar with a lid. I'll use a spoon to dip it out. Here is the recipe:

Homemade Stain Remover

2/3 cup Dawn dish soap 
2/3 cup ammonia
6 tbsp. baking soda
2 cups warm water

Mix together and put in spray bottle or bottle. 

6. I used the heels of the bread loaf to make bread crumbs. I toasted the bread and then put it in a blender until it was the same consistency as store bought bread crumbs.

7.  I used the leftover low carb pie crust to make a few sugar free tarts. I had some leftover coconut cream milk so I made low carb ice cream with peaches and blackberries a few days later. 

8. I pressure canned 5 pint jars of green beans from our garden.

9. Fridays are my 'outside day'. I wash the truck and mow the lawn and do some yard work. I have found that if I assign big tasks to certain days then there is less chance of avoiding the task. Because if I avoid the task then I am tempted to run the truck through the car wash.

10.  I bought my granddaughter her first sewing book and have wanted to teach her to sew. She spent the night last week so I thought it was the perfect opportunity. But, I had given away all my material because I just didn't have room for it. Well, the neatest thing happened. A family member had just given me 2 bags of material a few days ahead. I'm not sure why I kept the material.. especially since I had just gotten rid of a ton of material. But, I did. My granddaughter looked through the material and found a piece of material and some felt she liked.  God had provided every single item we needed for the project. The only thing I didn't have was the stuffing. I prayed and prayed for God to show me what I had in my hand that I could use. I ended up cutting the end of my down pillow and pulled the stuffing from it.   He proves Himself to be my provider .. time and time again. Jehovah Jireh.

The Lord Will Provide... Genesis 22:14

My granddaughter chose an owl for her first sewing project.

 So what have you girls been doing the past week in your home?


  1. I have a coffee can with compost items in it. I went through magazines that had piled up and other paper clutter. I learned to use the weed trimmer because my husband doesn't have energy for that now.

    But, many to do items before my biopsy and before I head back to substitute teaching. I admire your diligence, Georgene!

  2. For me getting 'me' in better physical health has been an important quest. I've had several chronic health issues for years but the one issue I think has most kept me unhealthy and weak has been fibromyalgia. That one makes everything else seem worse. So I set about to 'get better' not cured but better. I joined a support group online and started to google frequently for new research. When I got this almost 30 years ago there was no research, now it is beginning to crop up finally. It seems to aim squarely at the nervous system. My Dr gave me a combo of RXs that were generic and have helped. I also started to look and listen and get some useful vitamins. Recently I got vitamin B1 in a high dose-- and wow--that one was key someone and has given me much more energy.

    The energy I needed to make myself willing to work harder in my etsy shop. I considered getting a 'real job' too, as I know that Hubby could use some help. A 'real' job was not to be--between my various physical issues and the fact that our tiny town is on the brink of bankruptcy just over the cost of fixing the police cars-- there just aren't jobs here.
    That led me to think of flea marketing--and I think I may 'sell' some things to the actual people who do flea marketing--but it seems my Etsy shop is more the right fit for me. It is completely flexible so I don't have to be someplace when Hubby is home for the weekend, or if my daughter needs me to keep her kids or dogs. I am available and still able to make some money.

    So-- the most frugal thing I've done the past few weeks -- is to get my etsy (pokeberry patch)shop working better. I watched my stats and picked out some items that I thought would be OK to lower prices on--and make into 'bread & butter' items. Happened to be my small animal wedding cake toppers that are 'simple' in style. I've sold 3 this week since I lowered the price--its better for young customers and for me.I left the more difficult things at the prices they are. so coming up I also have a big custom order coming & last night sold a little nativity set too. :)

    I made work matter to me more by taking on the care and feeding of myself. So-- I now do not shop if I have not earned the money. Before it seemed like we were running through Hubby's paychecks with the new place and the place he still rents up in NC and our paid for house that my daughter's family lives in- really needs some landscaping. I also would love to have a used hot tub for my aches and pains--so the motivation is there for me to not just try to save money but to try to make money too.

    One thing also--I live in a different situation of course than some folks. In my husband's family women earn money and are not really respected if they do not. I had been praying that the Lord would show me how to gain more favor with my husband-that his opinion of me would improve.

    so turns out this has been the key. He needed to see me not as a negative on his balance sheet, but as a contributor. That's fine. We all have our own ways that is his and I will do what I need to. Besides I think it is nice. I have my own little bank account now and am feeling freer in a lot of respects to do what I would like with what I have. This in turn has releived some stress which also makes my health a little better.

    I also started a new diet and found a (not free) but very inexpensive support website for that. Results of my health efforts are that my doctor says I no longer need blood pressure med only the diuretic-so that was good news. I am using a free exercise program (you can buy it but I watch it on pbs) Classical Stretch--it is perfect for me--except that I can only do 10 minutes and whichever half of me works out one day, skips the next day due to pain.

    Shouldn't hurt at all really, but that's how it is with fibromyalgia things that shouldn't hurt do.

    So anyhow that's my 'novelette' . Have a lovely Sunday!

  3. funny.. just realized that 'the weight of debt' is exactly what is lifting off me since I am not so needy in my own home. Interesting how that followed the subject matter. I had not even realized it until I wrote it.

  4. You are so smart and so amazing!!! I always love reading all your wonderful money saving tips/ideas!!!

    Your granddaughter is so cute!!! I love her cute owl that she made.

  5. I am always inspired by your blog.
    Dawn dish detergent works well on its own to remove stains. Even old stains that have been on clothes for a long time will generally always come out if soaked in a bit of Dawn for a few hours. Love that stuff!!

  6. Thanks for the post! I have two thoughts. One is did you know you can dry slices of egg plant? I do and then you have it for use all year. To make eggplant parmesan just put the thin slices on the bottom of the greased casserole then add saucy sauce then the rest layering as you would if the eggplant was fresh. The eggplant sucks up the sauce and it cooks just right and comes out soft. Also one way I use the basil is to make sandwiches. Put a slice of tomato, mozzarella cheese slice then fresh basil leaves and grill the buttered bread on both sides. Yumm.
    I know what you mean about home repairs. Right now we are holding off doing repairs hoping they will hold off long enough for us to have enough $ saved for them !! :) Then it is to which one to do? Several Need doing! :-)
    Do you also put the egg shells in the soil after you 'cook ' them to add calcium to the soil or just use the liquid you mentioned? It would take us forever to have 20 egg shells. :) I put some crushed shells into the soil when I plant each tomato . I save the shells for spring planting. How has the comfrey worked for you? Do you add both to the same plants? I always learn something here! Sarah

    1. Interesting about drying the eggplant. I'd like to get a dryer. I had one for years but it didn't do a good job.

      Yes, I do put the egg shells in the soil after I cook them. We eat a lot of eggs! :-)

  7. Could not find your recipe for Low carb pie crust. I am interested in how good it is and if I could have the recipe. I am diabetic, but my hubby loves pies.

    1. Hi Nana,
      I did not post the recipe because I figured there would not be enough interest. But, because you asked... :-)

      The pie crust is not as good as a wheat pie crust. But, it passes if it's all you can have. I have never made it for a top and bottom crust.. only a bottom crust. I'll make fruit pies with a thickener and pour it in a baked crust. Hubby likes his with whipped cream on top which is low carb.

      Here is the recipe and then I'll give you the link to the BTF mix from the Low Carb Friends Forum.

      Georgene's No-Fail Pie Crust:

      Cut shortening into dry ingredients in mixing bowl:

      1 cup BTF mix
      1 tsp. sweetener of your choice (I used Erythritol)
      1/2 tsp. salt
      A little less than 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

      Lightly mix egg into vinegar and water:

      1 teaspoon vinegar
      1 small egg
      1/8 cup water

      Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. You may have to add a small amount more water because of the coconut flour.

      I wet my board and place a piece of seran wrap on it. I lightly dusted it with BTF mix. I take a large handful of dough, press it gently into flour and then flip it over. I take another piece of seran wrap (or wax paper will work) and place it on top of the pie dough. Roll out the pie dough with a rolling pen. Take the top piece of seran wrap off, put your hand gently under seran wrap under pie dough and flip the dough over into the pie pan. This is the easiest way I have found to roll out pie dough without it sticking to your pen or board.

      Bake in a 425 degree oven and started checking it at 8 minutes. It browned quickly.

      Here is the link to the BTF mix. I've used the mix to replace flour in many high carb recipes. You really have to play around with it because the coconut flour is very dry and soaks up water.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. I've been working on substituting high carb foods for lower and I sure appreciated any help I could get. :-)

  8. What a neat story of teaching your Granddaughter to sew. And a cute project she completed. I am just amazed at Dawn and all it does. I have a tub scrub recipe that is amazing. Works like nothing else.

  9. I love the owl! And your yard looks so nice, well maintained. We have had so much rain here, and our yard is so low, we have not been able to keep the grass cut and it looks awful!
    I have to admit to not being too frugal lately, it seems that there is always something we end up doing that cost money. But summer is usually that way. We visited our son and his family in Texas in June. A couple of weeks ago we took our daughter and her family to Wakulla Springs, a couple of hours away. So gas on that trip and tickets to ride the river boat. But our grandkids had so much fun!
    I try to watch gas, combine errands on one day, stay home as much as possible. I am cooking with my crockpot due to the lower energy cost and the heat,do not want to turn on the oven. We spent far too much on groceries last month, so I am working to get that back down. I noticed that produce as well as a few other things have gone up. Due to gas prices I'm sure. I try to use meat sparingly, but difficult since my husband is a meat eater. I supplement beans into dishes along with the meat, I can use a half pound of ground turkey in chili, or burritos that way.
    I made a similar mistake back to school shopping with my daughter. At JC Penney they offered an additional 20% off it I opened a card, so I did. It was around $50.00. I stuck $10 back for when the bill comes, and will stick back more here and there as I get it. We have a healthy savings, about 6 months worth. So I felt secure to open the card, but still I probably should not have.

    1. How many beans do you put in the dish to replace the meat? That's a great idea. We do not eat many beans because of the carbs but I'm interested in your approach.

      Great deal you got at JC Penney! :-)

  10. I love the sewing project. One of my first sewing projects in grade school was a little draw string bag made with a sacking material. We decorated the bags with an owl made out of felt, and then we had to hand stitch the felt pieces to the bag and then add some basic decorative stitches, I still have the little bag forty years later! Hopefully you have planted a seed for your grand daughter and she will catch the sewing bug :)

    I am going to mix up a batch of your stain remover, with little grand babies around you can imagine how many little stains I have to attend to!

    On another note, Dawn dish soap is the ONLY brand I will buy, it is really the only name brand item that I buy consistently and have done so for years and years, I swear by it!

    I am cutting back on the trips to the store, if you don't go in a store you don't spend money. I find a meal plan, and a shopping list are great tools to keep a budget on track.

    We have plenty of beef as we raise our own steers and recently had one butchered. Raising your own beef is not a cheap alternative, the steers eat a lot and take fifteen to eighteen months to fill out, but the meat is excellent, hormone and antibiotic free and there is satisfaction in knowing exactly where our food comes from. We also keep chickens for eggs. The manure from both the steers and the chickens goes on our gardens, and our chickens eat a lot of the garden stuff, like tips and tops of green beans, strawberry hulls, corn that isn't up to par, greens, you name it, if we can't use it they will eat it :)
    We feel very blessed by the Lord.

  11. I love the little owl and the fact that you and your granddaughter made it together!
    The last week of every month, I do not buy any groceries. I eat whatever is here, even if some of the combinations are a bit ... Um ... Odd! This month I moved it up to this week since I will have company the last week of the month. It's great for clearing out pantry and fridge, and forces me to use up those things that aren't always my first choice. I have been able to save 25% of my food budget this way, and I've hardly noticed that I buy less food.

    1. I thought of you this last week of the pay period because I didn't buy any groceries.. well maybe a few. :-) I'll try harder this month.


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