Saturday, October 26, 2013

Savings on $22,000 a year?

Something interesting happened this past month! I was able to put more in savings since I STOPPED working than when I WAS working outside the home. I wrote a few posts back about our income dropping $400 a month and all the cutbacks we were needing to make. I realized this morning that I was able to save more this past month than I did when I was working.

I think one reason may be that we are being very careful about what we purchase. We can't fall back on the 'extra' money I was making. Our old thinking was that if we wanted something extra for the house then just buy it BECAUSE there would be more money in a few weeks.  Since I stopped working we have pulled in the reins and are watching every penny we spend. I've had a few sporadic paid jobs this month. I didn't make a lot but I was able to sock that money away in savings.

Secondly, we are working hard to live BELOW our means. We've cut our bills so that we have money left over for savings.  Big expenses are bound to come up in the future and a savings will help keep us out of debt.

I'm encouraged and in awe of God's ability to take little and make it much! We really have so much!


Here are a few things I did to stretch our income this week!

1. I saved an empty Kleenex box and put cloth handkerchiefs in it. It's all set to go as needed.  I went to J.C. Penny a few years ago when our income started to decline and purchased quite a few men's handkerchiefs to use instead of the disposable Kleenex. They can be easily thrown in the washing machine with other whites. I'm always ahead if I can avoid buying disposable items.

2. A friend gave me a bag of gift tissue paper. It was crumbled up so I spent a few minutes ironing it this week on a low setting. This was an old trick my mama used to do. Saving tissue and gift wrapping has been a habit I was taught as a young child.  The older women in my family would gasp if they saw one of us children tearing the wrapping. We were taught to carefully open up the package while saving the wrapping and the tissue inside. Gift bags are popular now and so I save those, too.

3. I tried a new soup this week and it was a hit.

Hot and Sour Soup
6 c. vegetable broth (I used a combo of chicken and beef broth)
2 c. mushrooms (I used fresh)
1 small can bamboo shoots
1 small can water chestnuts
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 tbsp. vinegar
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. green onions or scallions, sliced
2 tbsp. chili oil (I used chili paste)
Bring broth to boil and add all ingredients except
 green onions and chili oil. Simmer at least 
20 minutes. Add onions and simmer 5 more minutes. 
Then stir in chili oil. 
(I can't remember where I found this recipe.
 If you recognize it please let me know so I can give
proper credit.)

4.  Things I didn't throw away this week: 
  • Bill envelopes. I pay through my bank so I saved them for seeds.
  • Plastic grocery bags used for trash cans.
  • Mail ads to put under litter pan for cat. 
  • Paper grocery bags used to dry herbs and seeds.
  • Leaves. I was taking them out of my flower beds and put them in the compost when it dawned on me to leave them where they are to compost. 
5.  I pressure canned 3 pumpkins. I ended up with  7 quarts and  24 pints. I'll use the pumpkin for LC pies and muffins, soup and to use as a dinner side dish with butter, salt and pepper. 

6.  I'm  a week and a few days into the pay period and I only have $70 left of my grocery money. I was out of a lot of items. A friend suggested I make up a 3 week menu to see if I can get by with what I already have. I realized I had 3 weeks of dinner meals. I think I'll be able to stretch the money left if I'm very careful. 

7.   I made Chicken Tortilla soup (minus the tortillas) this week and used a combo of 3 different recipes pulling from items I had on hand in my food pantry. A friend told me once that she keeps different versions of the same recipe for just this reason. You may be out of an item or two in one recipe  but the same recipe may have different ingredients you may have on hand. 

8. I'm watching for nice (but inexpensive) gifts for Christmas. I have been doing this for a few months so I already have quite a few gifts. I put aside a little extra money this month to add to my Christmas savings. I'm still doing some crocheted gifts, too. A friend said she had  been picking up items at the thrift store for Christmas. I wish I could find some good deals at a thrift store but I rarely do.

I wondered how you keep your costs down on gifts? Do you ever buy used items to give as gifts?

*Pictures from ALLPOSTERS.COM