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 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tightwad Thursday

I mentioned in an earlier post how I enjoy reading through The Tightwad Gazette on a yearly basis. Well, honestly I never read through the entire book but I always seem to glean a few new ideas.

So, here is an idea that I read this past week that I already put into practice and wondered if you knew about it.


You can't always find boxed cards in large department stores. The last time I found one was at Walgreen's. Unfortunately, many of the cards are not attractive. But, occasionally I've found some nice ones.

Our dollar store sells all occasion cards for .50 a card. I'm buying nearly all my cards from the dollar store these days unless it's a very special occasion.  I will buy a box if I can find 10 cards for $4 or less which is less than the dollar store sells. Garage sales and thrift stores are great places to find inexpensive cards, too.

Cards are going up in price with some as high as $6 a card. You can almost buy a gift for that amount. My small budget cannot afford an expensive card and a gift. Most people end up throwing away their cards anyway. I do enjoy the sentiments written in a card so I try to write a scripture or express how I feel about that person on the inside of the card.

I keep a small file box of greeting cards along with a book of stamps. I especially like to keep 'Get Well' and 'Thinking of You' cards on hand in case the Lord brings someone to mind that needs encouragement. 

A card given at a time of need blesses my heart because I know that person has been thinking of me and cared enough to let me know.

Do you keep cards on hand? Where do you find the best deals?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Menus

My recent goal has been to 'shop' from my pantry. So when I make up my menus I think of what I have on hand. The summer garden is winding down and I sure do miss those extra veggies. Our fall garden won't be ready to harvest for a few months. I still have quite a few spaghetti squash left, tomatoes, green beans, raspberries, strawberries, sweet potatoes and a variety of peppers. I love my garden and my budget likes it, too!

Breakfast:  Scrambled eggs, mushrooms, red onion
Lunch: Veggie burrito in LC tortilla
Dinner: Tacos in LC tortilla

Breakfast: LC pancakes with SF syrup
Lunch: Chicken taco soup
Dinner: Teriyaki LC chicken, 1/2 potato, steamed garlic green beans (FG)

Breakfast:  Scrambled egg, 1/2 potato, 1/2 hot link
Lunch: Hot link sandwich (Husband), Veggie salad w/ hard boiled egg (me)
Dinner: Spaghetti squash (FG) with spaghetti sauce (FG)

Breakfast:  LC smoothies (fruit FG)
Lunch: Chicken taco soup
Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan with homemade marinara sauce (eggplant and tomatoes FG)

Breakfast:  LC biscuits and gravy (Husband), LC biscuits only for me
Lunch: Egg salad sandwich (husband), egg salad with veggies (me)
Dinner: Spaghetti squash leftovers

Breakfast: poached egg with LC bowl muffin
Lunch: bologna sandwich (husband), bologna in veggie salad (me)
Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan with homemade marinara sauce (eggplant and tomatoes FG)

Breakfast: LC muffins and LC smoothie (fruit FG)
Lunch: hot link sandwich (husband), hot link and veggie salad (me)
Dinner: Fridge Free 4 All

FG= From our garden

What's on your menu this week?