Saturday, September 28, 2013

Don't worry about tomorrow

I was encouraged this week to trust God for TODAY! And to not borrow trouble from tomorrow because today has enough trouble of it's own.  I don't know if He will lead me to work outside my home in the future (my heart longs to be home) but I believe His message has been clear this week. For now...
  • Pray for DAILY bread. (Matthew 6:11)
  • Seek FIRST His kingdom and He will take care of the food and clothing. (Matthew 6:33)
  • Don't worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)
  • Be content with food and clothing. (1 Timothy 6:8)
This doesn't mean I get to sit home and eat Bon Bon's. (Does anyone really do that? *smile*).

You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 ESV 

God has spoken loud and clear through His Word this week. Oh, how I love it when He does. Scripture after scripture has confirmed His direction for me. No more worries. No more doubts. Sweet peace! Nothing compares to the power of God's Word working in my soul!

~ And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deut. 8:3 ESV


Here are a few things I did this week along with my typical frugal day routine:

1. I cut all of the curly parsley and plan on drying it. I also have 'hot and spicy oregano' and a flat leaf parsley that need to be harvested.   I'll hang them in the garage and allow them to dry and then grind them. I've really enjoyed using fresh herbs this summer!

2. It's important to take care of what I own for several reasons. First and foremost, because God has blessed me with these gifts and I want to be a good steward. And secondly, because it will help my budget to not replace these items.  So, this week I started preparing for winter. I pulled the patio table under the porch awning so it's out of the weather. I stored the table umbrella in the garage as soon as the winds came up so it wouldn't tip over my table and break it. I pulled in the patio chairs to the garage and covered the outdoor bench with plastic and took down the outdoor blinds. They are safely tucked away until next spring. I will get one more year's use out of all of them.

3.  I checked my soap and it's nice and firm. YAY!!! I took the soap out of the molds and put them in a cardboard box to continue drying. They will be ready for gifts before Christmas.  It's so fun to learn a new skill! Being a homemaker never gets boring!

4.   I made a Christmas list. I found myself getting anxious trying to juggle all the thoughts about what to make and buy.  It really helped to relieve some of the anxiety. I used 40% off coupons this week to purchase a few gifts and started sewing on another one. I'm also crocheting in the evenings.

5.  I still have 5 spaghetti squash left from my garden. My sister told me she found a recipe for spaghetti squash patties. I tried my own version and liked them. I just added an egg, garlic powder and salt and pepper. They would be really good with Parmesan cheese if you can eat dairy. Sauteed in a little butter until brown on both sides. 

6.  I'm out of homemade laundry soap so I made another batch. I've been making my own laundry detergent for around 8 years. I use the Dugger's recipe because it makes 10 gallons. I also tried a new recipe this month to use with my whites only since they need a pick me up. I can't remember where I found it.

3 Tablespoons Borax
3 Tablespoons Washing Soda
2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish soap
Put these ingredients in a one gallon jug. Pour 4 cups boiling water into the jug. Swirl until ingredients are dissolved in the liquid. Let liquid cool. Then fill almost to the top with cold water. The bubbles will overflow out of the bottle.

7. I also ran out of stain remover so I made a new batch.

8. Things I saved this week to reuse:
  • Envelopes that came with bills that I pay online (used to store vegetable seeds)
  • Heirloom seeds from  peppers, cantaloupe, okra, tomato, eggplant, honeydew
  • Strings from tea (tie up plants in garden)
  • Newspaper saved from a friend. (I lay it down in my veggie garden with straw on the top to discourage weeds).
  •  Toilet paper cardboard (compost)
  • Egg cartons, cardboard (compost) 
  • Washed Seran wrap and baggies to reuse (no meat or dairy)
  • Mayo jar to pour grease into instead of it going down my pipes. 
  • Grocery sacks. (garbage cans) 
  • Vegetable and fruit trimmings (compost)
 9. I buy Hood Countdown milk for my husband to drink. I am dairy free due to joint pain. The milk is horribly expensive. I found a recipe online to replace the milk but Husband is not interested in drinking it straight so I've made up several batches and use it in recipes. This has helped stretch the store bought milk. I remember doing something similar when the children lived at home. I would either water down the milk for a recipe or I would use instant milk in cake recipes. Sometimes I would use non-instant milk mixed with whole milk to stretch it.

10. I've been wanting to wash one of my blankets and throw rugs before winter but dreaded spending the quarters at the laundromat. I have a sink in my garage so I filled it with warm water and laundry soap and soaked my quilt. Swished. Rinsed. Swished. Rinsed and then hung it on the clothesline. It worked great. It reminded me of when we were first married nearly 30 years ago and I washed clothes in our bathtub. :-) I used my carpet cleaner on the throw rugs.

Thanks so much for all your great tips last week. I'm still researching a lot of your ideas.

What did YOU do to save money this week in your home? And my favorite question is this... do you have a  scripture that encourages you concerning your finances?



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cutting Costs in the Budget

I've spent the week working on our budget. Well, I've done other things, too! :-) I have one week left of work and then our income will drop by $400 a month.

We talked about dropping our internet but we use it for a land line with Magic Jack. Magic Jack has been great but it has some problems occasionally. The cell phone is our back up in case the Magic Jack is not working. I'm still hoping to find a way to drop that bill from $25 to $15 a month.  I'm  looking for a lower cell phone plan for $10 a month or less.  I'm considering 'pay as you go' phones but have heard some bad reviews.

The utility and grocery budget are flexible so they continue to be a focal point.

Strawberry patch

 Last winter I kept the heat off as much as possible. I closed off the rooms we were not using but ended up with mold because it got too cold. My husband and I slept with hats and gloves on at night and a ton of blankets.  We were a cute pair! Ha! I was cozy warm once I got under the covers. But,  it ended up being too hard on my husband physically.  He suffers with pain continually so I didn't want to add to his discomfort. I can usually keep my electric and gas bill below $100 a month. This month it's right at $70. My water bill fluctuates anywhere from $90-120 depending on how much we are watering in the garden. I've budgeted for $200 total for all utilities.

I still believe my grocery budget holds the greatest potential for saving money. I have been spending a minimum of $360 a month. I am budgeting for $60 less than I have been spending.  I was using $100 of my part time income to pay for the higher grocery bill. There is no buffer now.  Saving money in the grocery budget involves more cooking and choosing simple and inexpensive recipes and shopping 'loss leaders'.  I did a lot of cooking this week to stretch the food and we ate a lot of chicken.

Fall crop of broccoli
The bottom line of my new budget is $11 leftover at the end of the month. This is after putting $50 into savings. Any KNOWN future expenses (DMV fees, accounting, Christmas, birthdays,etc.)  are divided by the year and the monthly allotted amount is saved. I wondered how many of you live on a budget that tight? Is it unrealistic?

I found myself confronted with waves of anxiousness this week mingled with gusts of faith. The anxiousness came as a result of looking into the future and fearing what 'might' happen without my extra salary. The faith came when I renewed my mind in God's Word and trusted that He is my provider.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  Romans 10:17 ESV

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Matthew 6:34 ESV


Here are a few ways I saved money or stretched what we had this week:

1.  I've been freezing meat and vegetable scraps for over a month. I finally had enough to make dog food. We mix it in with the dried dog food to stretch it.

2.  I made soap all by myself! It 'traced' but when I checked on it the second day it seemed too soft. Each time I check it firms up a little more. I'm hoping it will turn out so I can use it for gifts.

3.  I was given a free Aloe plant. I haven't had one since we sold our last home. I like to use Aloe for burns so I was happy to receive two small plants. The same sweet lady gave me a food dehydrator. It was a desire of my heart that God met.

4. I harvested my Stevia leaves. I left about 5 inches on the plant. I was going to make a tincture using glycerin  until I discovered that it's full of sugar.  Instead, I  tied the branches in bunches and they're hanging in the garage. They should be thoroughly dried in 7-10 days. I'll put the leaves in a blender to make powder. I hope this works. Hopefully husband won't mind that the color will be green instead of the bleached white color. The Stevia I purchase from Amazon costs nearly $20 for a small bottle but it last a long, long time.

5. I harvested the eggplant. I blanched it for a few minutes and then froze it between wax paper and then put the layers in a freezer bag.

6.  I spent an afternoon taking in some pants and tops on my sewing machine so I don't have to buy new clothes.

Seedlings of onion, broccoli, swiss chard and cabbage

7.  A lot of research  went into finding an alternative to our current satellite and internet packages. Our contract for satellite will not be up until June. If we cancel early they will charge $275. (Note to self: No more contracts!)  I think we came to a conclusion to downgrade our satellite package until the contract is up in June. This will save us $30 a month. If I can find a good cell phone solution then we may end up cancelling the internet since there is not contract.

8. I needed cat litter this week. I decided to 'look around' on the shelves by the cat litter I normally buy instead of just purchasing the old standby.  I found a bag that was half as much. My plan is to mix it in with the expensive stuff and cut my costs. I hope it works.

9.  I made a homemade recipe for Shake and Bake. It tasted almost identical. I don't know if I can share the recipe here since it's copyrighted. Can I? Here is the link:

Over Fried Chicken 111

 "Snow on the Mountain"

10.  Things I didn't throw away this week:
  • Old clothes (rug making)
  • Toilet paper cardboard (compost)
  • Tinfoil cardboard (compost)
  • Tin cans (cut up and used to fertilize Azalea and Hydrangea)
  • Plastic  and glass jar containers (recycle)
  • Egg cartons (compost) 
  • Reused washed Seran wrap that had been used on fruit.
I'm thinking a lot about Christmas lately. I'd love to find some new gift ideas to make at home. What are you making for Christmas?