Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Financial Resolutions for 2015

Did you make a financial resolution? That's one of the most common resolutions, right after losing weight/getting fit.

Saving more money and paying off debt are the two essential financial resolutions that most people shoot for, but can you be more frugal to meet that goal?

You might, and it might not hurt as much as you think it will.

FOOD:

Use ALL of it. The bread heels, the broccoli stems, the radish leaves... all of it. Then take the roots of celery and onions and lettuce and regrow them so you don't have to buy them again.

Save all the "little bits" of vegetables and meat in a container in the freezer. When you have enough, make soup with it.

Cook from scratch. Learn how to make gravy, biscuits and more and quit buying them already made.

CLOTHING

Put yourself on a clothing fast. Unless your shoes are really worn (really worn), you don't need a new pair. Your clothing is probably good enough to last through the rest of the winter, at the least.

Learn to patch and darn, sew buttons back on, sew up a hem or a seam. Do the best you can to make the clothes you have look good and last.

FURNITURE

Unless your furniture is literally falling apart, don't buy any. If you really, really need a coffee table, find a sturdy cardboard box, fill it with magazines or newspaper and put a cloth over it. Do the same for end tables. Use throws over the worst part of the couch.

MISCELLANEOUS

Do you need washcloths? Take an old towel, cut it to the right size and hem it to make a washcloth. Repeat until you run out of material.

Potholders are easy to make and they don't have to be fancy to work well. It's simply cloth folded and sewn together so there is enough padding to keep from burning yourself.

Rugs can be made of rags or yarn or strips of cloth.

Let your imagination work for you and find ways to get what you really need, but don't mistake wants for needs. And stay out of the stores if you really want to fulfill your financial resolution. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Frugal Weather?

Not when it's snowing and blowing out there and you're trying to stay warm! But even then, you can do some things to help with the heating bill and keep everyone comfy and cozy.

Pass out the blankets, the hot chocolate and the board games. No board games? Make up some word games or tell stories, or just talk. Keep everyone in the same room and busy and it will seem warmer and more comfortable.

If you don't have the problem of a snowstorm or cold weather, maybe you're experiencing a late January thaw, as we are here. Right now, the windows are open to freshen the air, the heater is turned off and I am wearing flipflops! It's officially 71 degrees. That's almost scary, but it sure is frugal.

When you get an occasional day like that in the winter, make the best use of it possible.

Today would be a great day to do laundry and hang it outside, for instance.

Open all the windows and doors that you can and let the stale winter air out. Your home will smell and feel much fresher than artificial scents can ever make it.

Turn off the heat if you can. Even if it's a little cooler than 71, you can put on an extra sweater and rough it for a few hours, until it starts to cool down noticeably.

Go outside and get some sunshine and take the kids with you. It will make all of you feel better and lighten your moods.

If you're sitting on the East Coast right now and anticipating a huge storm, or are in the midst of it, you might think that I'm gloating a little. I'm not; we have those storms, too, and I'm sure ours is coming soon.

It's frugal and smart to enjoy what we have, when we have it. 



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year, Again

It seems as if the wheels of time go around and around faster and faster. Here we are, at the beginning of another new year, looking forward to being able to do things we didn't do last year; learn things we didn't learn; lose weight we didn't lose; save money we didn't save.

Hope springs eternal, they say. Without hope and a new beginning now and then, where would we be?

So I want to wish you a very good new year. No matter what your resolutions or hopes or dreams are, I hope they all come to fruition in 2015.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Leftover Christmas Candy

If you have Christmas candy left over, save it for the next holiday! There are a lot of things you can do with candy canes, for instance. Face them toward each other, tie a pretty ribbon around the hooks and make a heart from them. Give them to your valentine.Or crush them and serve them over ice cream any time.

Chocolate candy can be melted down and reformed to suit the occasion. Got chocolate Santas? Make chocolate something else with it. Melt it down, add some peanuts and let it harden again. Or use candy molds or anything to shape it into something else.

Hard candy will keep indefinitely if kept in a more or less cool place that's dry. Just save it until next Christmas and you will save yourself some money.

Friday, December 26, 2014

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house
Every creature was busy; yes, even that mouse.
The stockings were strung from the tree to the stair
As proof that Saint Nicholas had surely been there.

And Mom in the kitchen, amid pots and pans
Was muttering recipes for leftover ham.
The turkey was still in its foil covered tent
While pots full of turkey soup hardly made hardly a dent.

Turkey sandwiches and soups and casserole, pies,
Turkey salad and quiches and pudding - oh, my!

Mom was getting just a bit carried away
So Dad stole her cookbook and she says to this day
That the day after Christmas was the best day of all
Because we went to eat out and she didn't cook at all!

Here's hoping the day after Christmas is a good one for you. If you like turkey pudding, let me know and I'll give you mine. And remember that beans on New Year's Day means a prosperous New Year, so don't forget that cooking at home is the most frugal and prosperous way. Unless, of course, you get carried away.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Plan Ahead for After Christmas Dinner


  • Plan leftovers ahead of time and have containers ready for the freezer.
  • Save all that delicious ham gravy or pan drippings to flavor bean or other dishes later on. (Freeze enough in different batches for a meal.)
  • Save the turkey gravy to use in rice or vegetable dishes.
  • Leftover black olives can be frozen. It never dawned on me to do this, until I realized frozen pizzas sometimes have black olives on them.
  • Put away the wrapped candy canes and hard candy as soon as everyone gets tired of them. They will keep indefinitely (Until next year, anyway!)
  • Ditto the nuts, shelled or not. They have a long life in the freezer.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Uses for Cardboard Boxes

If you shop online at all, you probably have quite a stash of cardboard boxes. Besides sending gifts to loved ones far away, they can be used to make some frugal and cool things.

Try your hand at a shadow box. You can put in an old fashioned scene, a "Nativity Scene," a mountain covered with snow or let your imagination roam. Use pictures from old Christmas cards, advertisements, catalogs or whatever strikes you as interesting.

You can use small boxes in lieu of Christmas stockings or baskets, filling them for specific individuals, or making more generic, frugal last minute gifts out of them. Cover them inside and out with wrapping paper or foil.

Fill a few with candy, cookies, notepads, etc., wrap and have them ready for those "Oh, no, I need another gift!" times. If you don't use them all, give them away to the postman, a retirement home or charity.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Last Year's Christmas Cards

Did you save them? Do you have a use for them?

How about using them for frugal but creative postcard greetings this year by cutting off the front and sizing it properly?
Or cut appropriate pieces from the fronts (and insides!) to use for gift tags.
Cut pictures from them to decorate your Christmas tree.
Or glue small cut outs from them around the bottom of a pillar candle.
Or make a frugal holiday collage from them.
Or glue them onto paper and cover with white glue mixed with water (half and half), and use them for throwaway Christmas table mats.
Or...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gleaning!

Gleaning is a term that may not bring up fond memories for you, since not many people have gleaned fields.

It was common until more recently, when "poor folks" began to be looked down on, especially those who tried their best to do what they could what they had. Okay, strike that as a political comment.

The truth is that gleaning is still alive in organizations like Second Harvest, where people go out and glean the harvested fields then donate what they have picked up.

There is so much waste in the fields! I don't know the statistics, but from what I can see, I would say that at least 20% and maybe more, of all produce grown is left in the fields. Picking it up and putting it to good use only makes sense, even if you have the money to buy it otherwise. Wastefulness is not a sign of good sense, no matter what the circumstance.

Besides what is left in the fields, produce like onions, carrots and sugar beets roll off the trucks as they're being taken to the sorting facility. Then at that facility, some are tossed aside because they're not the right size or, in the case of carrots, they're misshapen.

Modern machinery requires certain sizes and shapes to fit and modern consumers require more or less perfectly shaped and colored produce. Between the two, there is probably another 20% or more good produce thrown out. 

If you can get your hands on it, this produce is perfectly good and fresher than you will find in the grocery store.

The onions you see were picked up by me last weekend as we came back from a trip to the Pumpkin Patch. They were split from falling off a truck, but otherwise wonderful, just as if I'd pulled them from my own garden.