Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ten Ways to a Frugal New Year

Start the new year off on the right foot! Now's the time to review, revise, revisit and rework, whether it's yourself or your financial picture. Get going on the track that will put you in more frugal (read: prosperous) condition for this year and the year after and the year after...

Review all of your insurance
Home owner's insurance,  vehicle insurance, health insurance, life insurance, whatever you have. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to be sure you're paying the least amount possible for the amount of coverage you need. Raise your deductible if you can, revamp values, revisit needs. Go over everything first by yourself,

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last Minute Gifts You Don't Have to Buy

Oops... you thought you had all your shopping done for the holidays? And then... well, you got a gift from someone you had forgotten about. Or a coworker suddenly decided you were worth a plate of homemade goodies. One of the kids got invited to a Christmas party that requires a gift.

And there you are, turning your credit card over and over, contemplating yet one more shopping trip.

Don't.

There is time to create quick and frugal gifts even if it's the day before Christmas.

For kids:

Friday, December 11, 2015

Beware the Commercial Christmas Syndrome

Christmas is practically here! Suddenly all the things I put off until later because it was too early, now need doing immediately because it will soon be too late!

While it might feel like (and actually be) panic time, it's the worst time possible on our pocketbooks for us to panic! When we feel stress, we spend more. We don't take

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Black Friday Countdown

It really is that time of year, isn't it? Black Friday, that day where super sales can make a huge dent in your gift list, well be here in barely over a week from today.

You've no doubt seen ads for it already as stores start building anticipation for the frenzy, but don't just jump and run Friday morning. Plan, plan, plan... and look closely for the best deals.

Personally, I am not one to get up at 12:05 AM and stand in line for the latest gadget at the lowest price, or fight my way through crowds to it, but online? Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

6 of the Best Free Things You Can Find Online

Some of us get our internet free or at a very reasonable price, while others pay dearly for the service. Either way, an internet connection can be used to save money during the holidays (and every day). Why not use it to save money and make the holidays go easier by using it for free things? Things like:

1. Music. There are many "radio" stations online, with every kind of music you could ever want. Just search for them by genre or search for "Christmas music" or

Monday, October 12, 2015

Why You Should Use Less Laundry Detergent

Manufacturers' scoops are bigger than you need! As a matter of fact, most laundry will come clean with about half the recommended amount of detergent. Try it yourself and see. Be aware, though, that your washing machine probably holds enough detergent to wash a load without adding any.

As a matter of fact, it's a good idea to run a load of laundry through your machine without adding detergent now and then, especially if you've been using the recommended amount, but even if you haven't.

Why should you use less?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Make a Penny, Save a Penny?

Benjamin Franklin said "A penny saved is a penny earned," and that's a fact, even these days.  Depending on your tax rate and other circumstances, you could "earn" more than a penny if you saved it instead of making another one. If you invest a penny, it will earn on its own with very little further input from you. If, however, you earn another penny, by the time you pay taxes on two pennies, how much difference is there going to be in how much money you actually have?

Friday, October 2, 2015

What If You Missed a Paycheck?

Would you have enough money in savings to tide you over until you could get something else going? Unemployment helps, but not everyone is eligible for it... and if you're not? Then what?

According to the Springleaf Financial Strength Survey of 2014, almost half of Americans have nothing to fall back on if they lose their job or source of income or if it's simply delayed. How about you?

Do you think it's time to start sticking a little back into savings, just in case?

You may not think you have enough income to put any in savings, but you may be surprised at how quickly five or ten dollars adds up. Set a minimum that you will save each payday, and just do it. Sure, it takes some self discipline, but probably not nearly as much as the discipline it will take to go to the food bank, beg the electric company for a little more time to pay the bill or have to park the car because you don't have money for gas or insurance.

Here are some more statistics:

  • Almost a quarter of adults have less than $250 in their checking accounts on the day before payday, meaning that if they don't get their money, they are in trouble quickly.
  • Almost 20% of adults don't have enough of a savings cushion to make it two weeks without a paycheck.
  • Almost one in five would rather go to the dentist than spend a half hour learning how to manage their own money!

So what if you missed a paycheck? What would you do? Would you try to sell something to get you through? Would you borrow money from family or friends? Would you draw what you need from your savings?

The choice is up to you. And yes, you can do it. Read, study and save. Anyone can save a little, and I mean anyone. I know. I've been there.

Pick up aluminum cans, use coupons, turn out the lights... there are hundreds of ways to save. When you do, put that money into a savings account. You can do it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Decorate Naturally and Frugally

Far from being a time of decay and ending, autumn usually gives us a sense of refreshment, of starting over and looking forward. In that mood, our minds often turn to decorating our homes, or at least putting on a coat of fresh paint. Decorating naturally and frugally not only it refreshes our surroundings, but it refreshes our minds and changes the moods of our homes as the seasons change.

A little creativity goes a long way in getting the natural look and feel you want without having to spend much, if any at all. Half the fun of decorating is in rediscovering something you already have, inside or out, and using or displaying it a new way.

Decorating with naturally occurring colors, shapes and textures is so frugal that you can afford to experiment - or change your mind every week.

    1. Think natural.

  •      Flowers wake up a room anytime; in the fall, gather winter bouquets, grasses and weeds that have seeded out and have attractive colors and shapes.
  •      In the spring, gather wild flowers (even if your neighbor calls them weeds).
  •      Small pieces of weathered wood, varnished against splinters, make interesting paperweights.
  •      Gather large baskets of pine cones and just put them on the floor.
  •      Fill baskets full of anything interesting - wood, dried flowers, rocks...

    2. Think color.

  •      Find a new color that won't clash with your floors and walls, for a quick makeover of any room.
  •      Paint a wooden chair, add an inexpensive throw, or use brightly colored napkins under lamps and on coffee tables.
  •      If you don't want to change your color scheme, find another color that goes with it, or deepen (or lighten) the color for accessories.
  •      Add a bright throw rug or two, and don't limit them to the floor. Put them on the coffee table, on the back of the couch, on the wall.

    3. Think fun.

  •     Small rocks, arranged on a tray or plate, in some sand with a miniature house or animals make a fascinating coffee table display. Use a small mirror for a pond and get creative with the scene.
  •      Display kids' art prominently on a bulletin board so you can change the artwork frequently. Add your own flair with cutouts or small objects you can pin up.
  •      Have vintage clothing, or almost antiques? Display them! Hang clothing on hangars on wall pegs. Teddy bears? Old toys? Lamps, dishes, whatnots - group them for impact.

    4. Think recycle.

  •      Old picture frames look new with a fresh coat of paint or gilding.
  •      Dye your own curtains a deeper or different color, or embroider them.
  •      Use an old trunk for a coffee table.
  •      Use an old freshly painted dresser for a hall table or sideboard.
  •      Use an empty can for a planter, covered with fabric or spray paint.

Monday, September 21, 2015

7 Uses for Extra Tote Bags

Have you managed to gather more tote bags than you think you need? They can carry a lot more than just groceries from the store. If you have more than a few of them, don't just put them in the closet and forget about them. Bring them out and make use of them! How? Try these ideas.

1. Carry knitting, crochet or other needlework projects in one. Most of them are big enough to carry several skeins of yarn along with needles, pattern, scissors and any small tools you may need. If you use a box or plastic bag for your tools, you won't lose them in the bottom of the tote bag.

2. The kids always want to take toys along with them no matter where you go, right? Just grab a tote bag let them put their toys in it and away you go. They can put the toys in the bag when they're through playing with them and everyone is happy. If you go to the pool or beach, a tote bag can hold wet swimsuits as well as toys.

3. When you're traveling, tuck a tote bag in your suitcase to hold dirty clothes as you change. An extra bag is great for holding extra shoes so the rest of your clothes stay clean.

4. Washable tote bags are great for bringing in garden produce. Put the dirtiest root crops in the bottom and fill the top with lettuce, beans or other clean crops.

5. Take one to the farmer's market, of course, but don't stop there. Keep an extra one in the car for those unexpectedly found roadside stands.

6. You can store any number of things in them if you put the handles around the neck of a hanger and hang them in your closet. Use one for scarves, gloves and hats or even socks and underwear!

7. If you don't need them for clothing items in your closet, put one in the hall or guest room closet and use it to store such various things as extra soap, electric cords, Christmas decorations or whatever else you need to store.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Uses for Old Pantyhose

I'm of the school that says "Never throw anything out if it can possibly be used for something else." With that in mind, here are my favorite uses for old pantyhose:

Cut appropriate size lengths and put a simple knot in one end. Fill the resulting sack with herbs for a bath or potpourri for a dresser drawer and tie the open end closed.

Use them as Halloween masks. They will flatten your facial features and make you unrecognizable, but you can breathe and see through them - the perfect mask for a small child.

Slit the side and cut a piece the right size to stretch over a small embroidery hoop. Fasten securely and use it as a strainer.

If you have several, make a washable, soft throw pillow from them. It's easy!

  1. Cut off the waist bands of panty hose and discard or find another use for them (use them like huge rubber bands - hold flowers together in a vase, keep mail or papers together, etc.).

  2. Cut two cloth rectangles the size you want the pillow to be and sew three sides.

  3. Stuff the pillow with pantyhose until it's full.

  4. Turn under the open edges and whipstitch or blindstitch the pillow closed.

  5. To help keep the pantyhose stuffing in place, use a large needle with yarn or small ribbon and make a single stitch in the center of the pillow, leaving both ends of the yarn or ribbon loose. Draw these up and tie in a bow.


Make a granny doll with one leg of an old pantyhose:

  1. Start at the toe and stuff the first two or three inches with another piece of old pantyhose. Tie a string around it, then stuff another section, this one four to five inches, with yet another pantyhose piece. Make yet another section about six inches long, but before tying off the last section, put something heavy at the very bottom so the doll can stand up. A few washers or nuts, sinkers or a handful of small pebbles will do the trick.

  2. With a needle and thread, make a firm running stitch up the center of the last section, making "legs" for the doll. For the arms, make a running stitch about a half inch from either side of the body section.

  3. To make the face, using a needle and thread, enter the doll's body from a point several inches away and bring the needle out on either side of where a nose would be and draw the thread firmly back into the face to make an indent. By using the needle and thread, you can create a facial shape, indenting where eyes and mouth should be.

  4. Using yarn, embroider eyes and mouth. Add yarn for hair and dress granny in an old fashioned doll dress or let your imagination run with it.  You can make a dress for the doll by cutting a circle large enough to drape from shoulder to toe. With needle and thread, tack along the inside of the arms and around the waist, gathering the excess material to make a full skirt. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Gas Prices and the Economy

I'm sure you've noticed gas prices at the pump, going down and down. According to Bankrate, "The lowest prices may still be on the horizon."

Good news, right? In the short term, yes. It costs less to fill your tank when prices are so low. In the long term, the picture may not be so bright, however. 
 
 
 
The fact is that gas prices are tied to the overall economy of our nation and when they go down this far, companies lose their profits, causing workers lose their jobs, causing retailers lose sales, causing more workers to lose their jobs... When enough workers lose their jobs, it affects the housing market negatively and it affects savings rates and retail sales, all of which have powerful effects on the overall economy. 
 
Just in case you wanted to be happy about saving money at the gas pump... really, I don't like to be negative about everything, so enjoy your savings. But remember that one person's gain is another person's loss and be ready for it to boomerang. We're all in this together. 
 
 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Saving Seeds

One of the things a frugal gardener does is save seeds from year to year. Not only does it save money, each year your seed becomes more and more acclimated to the unique conditions in your garden, so that they become hardier and more reliable.

Saving seeds for most things is fairly straightforward and simple. Let a plant to to seed, pick it off and save it. Here are some radish and onion seeds I have been working on saving. The radish seed here will probably be sprouted this winter rather than planted because the crop was disappointing. I don't want those genes to reproduce, but they do make some fine salad and sandwich material once they've sprouted.

The onion seed (on the paper) are not quite dry enough yet to remove, so I will leave them out for a couple of days. Since onion seeds only last one year and they're not nearly as reliable as onion sets, I'm going to experiment with winter sowing a few, keeping a few just as they are and planting next spring and keeping another few in the garage to bear the freezing temperatures of nature.

We shall see what happens next year!

I have lettuce seed saved already, from an heirloom type that I've had for around four years now. There is still seed from tomatoes, peppers and a few other things. Okra is on a string drying right now.

There are a few things that I've not had good luck saving seeds from, though. Summer squash and sweet peppers never seem to work out. If you know how to do either of those, let me know!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Packing School Lunches

If you pack your child's lunch for school, or plan on doing so, do you save money over the school lunch program? I know there are other reasons for packing school lunches over using the programs - nutrition or special nutritional needs, for instance, but for the purpose of this blog we're talking money. Actually, how to save it.

What to send


First, think about how your child eats. If he never eats more than half a sandwich, only pack half a sandwich. If he won't eat it, don't send it. Ask him to bring home the portions of uneaten lunch from school instead of throwing them out. That way you can see what he is really eating. Don't waste money in providing things he won't eat.

Making sandwich spread is far cheaper than buying it. A food processor or a blender can be used to chop leftover meat finely, then add cut up pickles, onion, cheese, and mayonnaise or whatever you prefer, and continue to blend/chop until the mixture is very fine. Chicken, ham and beef all make very good sandwich spreads. One leftover chicken drumstick can yield enough meat for two sandwiches this way.

If there's a particular kind of sandwich spread you buy because you like it, look at the ingredients and try to duplicate them. (Some things, like preservatives or hard to find ingredients, can be skipped!)

Don't get stuck on sandwiches. Send crackers and cheese or crackers and peanut butter, boiled eggs, cold fried chicken, slices of ham or roast, olives, peanuts, raw vegetables, muffins or cornbread with baked in hotdog chunks. Keep a notebook or computer list with ideas as they strike you. Combine foods differently. Carrot sticks and crackers combined with a slice of beef roast makes a good and frugal school lunch!

Don't fall for the prepackaged "meals" you find in the store. They're a very poor buy and they are not nutritious. It doesn't take much time to put your own together and you can add real food to them and spend far less.

How to send it


Send soup or leftover main course in a wide-necked thermos to vary the menu. If the meal starts very hot, it will be just right by lunch time. Don't forget the plastic utensils to eat with!

Keep cold lunches cold by using an insulated lunch pack and/or sending drinks frozen. Frozen drinks keep the rest of the lunch cool, but will be thawed (or mostly thawed) by lunchtime. Find or buy a drink container with a snug top - a soft drink or water bottle can be recycled this way. Buy juice or fruit drinks in large containers and refill the bottle each evening and freeze for the next day's lunch. (Leave enough headroom for the liquid to expand!)

It's easier to pack school lunches, or at least the basics, the night before. If leftovers from the evening meal can be used, you won't have to put them away, then get them out again. If you need to change the form (pick the meat from a piece of chicken; add to a salad, etc.), you'll have time to do that.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Introducing Basic Food Saving Ideas

Food prices getting to you? Me, too. I've been remembering lately how Mom used to cook when we were growing up on a ranch in Wyoming. We went to town once a month to buy groceries, so Mom had to be creative with what she had.

Cooking from scratch was the normal way people cooked back then, anyway, and everyone had full kitchens and used them. There were no microwaves, no frozen dinners and not many "convenience" foods of any kind. We ate just fine.

So... to make a long story short, I have started a new blog all about basic food saving idea. I plan to cover a lot of things, including recipes and instructions for simple and frugal dishes, how to prepare some wild foods, when to stock up on what, how to make meals when you're down to a few ingredients, saving time as well as money when preparing food and anything else that will help save money on food.

The new blog is at Basic Food Saving Ideas with its first post all shiny and new. I have a lot of ideas percolating in my head, so there is much more to come!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What if There Was an Extended "Bank Holiday"?


On February 14 of 1933, the state of Michigan declared an eight day bank holiday. Other states followed, trying to keep everyone from withdrawing funds at once. On March 9, newly sworn in President FD Roosevelt declared a nation wide bank shut down for four days.

Without access to their own money, the Great Depression eventually left many homeless and hungry.

Could it happen again? It could. Whether it will or not is another question, but if if did, what position would you find yourself in?

When the banks close for an extended period of time, debit cards are useless and checks are just pieces of paper. Bills that can't get paid will add late fees.

Would you be out of cash in a day's time? Would you have enough gas to do what you need until the banks opened again? Most stores would be closed, so very little would be available to buy. All commerce, except that which could be conducted by cash, would stop.

Not only would many people be doing without critical things, there would very probably be some panic to deal with.

Of course, this is a theoretical scene, but it's taken from history and history is what we're supposed to learn from, so let's see if we can learn something.

There are a few things that some people did before the crash that helped them survive.

They had cash on hand. It would have taken a lot to survive the entire Great Depression, but even a little, used very carefully, helped.

Food and other needs were already stocked up and/or available. Pantries were naturally better stocked then than now, when a lot of people canned and dehydrated food for the winter. Most families even in cities had a backyard garden and many had a small flock of chickens.

Families didn't need disposable paper products and very little medicine they couldn't create themselves. Wardrobes were smaller and more practical than most now and expenses for makeup and "personal hygiene" items were minimal to nothing.

Bartering skills were already established and a lot more common than they are now, so people traded a lot. Services for goods and goods for services and any combination of those two kept people going.

How do you compare, theoretically speaking? How long would you survive? It might be time to think about it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Save NOW for Christmas Decorations

Nope, I'm not too far ahead of the season. If you want a wonderful and frugal Christmas, you have to start ahead of time, so here goes...

Things you can save to make ornaments and decorations for Christmas:

Old keys. Spray paint them gold, silver, red, green.... glue glitter all over them (or both) and insert a chain, ribbon or wire for hanging on the tree.

Card Stock. As in, greeting card backs and things like paperboard from tablet backs or cereal boxes. Cut shapes like stars, bells, angels, trees, gingerbread men, houses or wherever your imagine and preferences lead you. Spray paint and leave as is, or cover with salt, sugar, baking soda or glitter.

Aluminum soft drink cans. With a pair of tin shears or heavy duty scissors, you can cut shapes of any kind. Wear gloves and be careful because the edges are sharp. These are great for outdoor decorations.

Jewelry. If you have costume jewelry of any kind that you don't wear, use the parts to create one of a kind ornaments. A big roll of florist's wire is inexpensive and goes a very long way to thread old beads or fasten decorative pieces together. 

Styrofoam. As in the kind that meat is packaged on. These are great to use as trays for small displays like tiny villages or skating scenes. Use a mirror, surround it with baking soda and create a scene with whatever you can find.

Pine cones, weed seed heads, dried grass. You will find many uses for these. Pine cones can be spray painted or used as-is, weed seed heads can substitute for trees or bushes in miniature displays and dried grass makes an awesome bed for baby Jesus (which could be a roll of white cloth with a wooden bead or something similar for a face).

No, it's not even close to Christmas, but it makes sense to think ahead and be ready to do it up right, frugal style!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Five Years Ago Today

I had an apple tree. I even got an apple from it and it was so amazing that I blogged about it.

The relativity of an apple harvest

What was true then is true now. All things are relative!

Never did the lesson ring so true as it was today when I gathered five tomatoes. The garden was late this year due to rains and a cool spring and early summer so the tomatoes are just now getting started.

Yes. I know it's September 1. I'm hoping the predicted early frost will hold off, but if it doesn't? A small harvest will be greatly appreciated and well taken care of. I won't waste one small tomato and I will eat each one (and the tomato sauce I make from them) with much appreciation.

How's your harvest this year? Are there things you got little of that you really appreciate?

Yeah, I love those tomatoes!



Monday, August 31, 2015

Budget? The Truth is Critical

Creating and living by a budget is nothing more than using an efficient system of running your household. It may not be easy to see the forest for the trees at first, but with practice you can see where your money should be going and where it should not be going.

The key to any budget, whether it's for a household, a business or a government (listen up, Washington!) is sometimes painful honesty about what you really need and then let the things that you don't need take a back seat for awhile.

What do you need? Food, clothing, shelter, medical attention at times, insurance, taxes... make your list (you'll need different categories and more of them) and then look back over your last few months and see where you spent what. Did it fit into your categories? Why not?

Write it all down and keep working at it until you can make sense of it. That's the hard part. We have a tendency to fool ourselves. That new shirt might have been a necessity, but it might very well have been an indulgence. Be honest with yourself, as much as you can.

Yes, honesty can be brutal. It can hurt, but you can't really control your money until you understand what you're really doing with it.

Lessons from the Depression

Are we headed that way again? Many seem to think so. The thought of a financial disaster doesn't frighten me as much as the thought of what people do when they panic, and what our governments will do to try to "fix" it.

If you understand the basic principles of frugality, you'll be in a much better position than most people. If you have a well stocked pantry, the skills to repair and maintain your home and clothing and so on, and have planned in resources like a garden, you'll be a blessing to yourself and others.

"Off the Grid News" ran an article called "9 Forgotten Survival Lessons From The Great Depression," which covers, amazingly enough, many of the things I have taught, preached and ranted about over the years.

I would only add one thing and that's the importance of community. Whether it's your neighbors or family or friends, deliberately surround yourself with others who have similar interests and thoughts. You can trade skills, goods and encouragement if you have a good community to do it within. It's hard to go it alone.

Start now if you haven't already. Gain those skills, stock your pantry, get out of debt, create your community. You may very well be glad you did.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Five Ways to Save on Food This Fall

Sometimes I feel like I sound like a broken record, but food prices are just ridiculous right now and they're not going down any time soon.

What's a frugal person to do? We still have to eat! Luckily, right now is a good time to find some local bargains on food and if you can do it, stock up for the winter.

If you're in farming country, ask a farmer if you can buy produce (anything from beans to lettuce) straight from him without going through the retail merry go round. Some will let you; some won't, but it won't hurt to try. Concentrate on produce that keeps well.

Gleaning is another way to get your hands on cheap food, in this instance it can be free except for gas and some time.

If you have a garden, of course, you have a good source of inexpensive food. If you don't have a garden, let your gardening friends know that you will accept whatever they don't want.

If you have a local farmer's market, go there near the end of the day, when they're almost ready to leave. Don't be afraid to bargain with them. Quite often, they'd rather sell leftover produce for a much reduced price than haul it home again.

Gather wild food and put it up just like you would garden produce. Some people think it's not worth the effort, but it is. It's mostly healthier and it's free. If you're not familiar with wild food, read up on it. Just don't eat anything you're not sure of.

Now is the time to start gathering up food before winter hits, just like our ancestors did. We may have different ways to do that, but the wisdom of it still stands, especially with the grocery store prices still going up!

Related posts:
Why We Will Experience a Food Shortage
Gleaning 
Stock Up On Free Food 

Saving your garden.

Maybe. The weather has been unusual for much of the United States and part of the world. If you're trying to garden, it can be disheartening to watch the rain drown your plants or the hail strip the leaves or the sun burn it up. With all of that comes pests and lots of them. Insects and slugs tend to attack plants that are not as healthy as they could be, so plants that have been stressed by the weather seem to attract all kinds.

First on the defense (or offense, if yours hasn't been attacked yet), is a spray made of dish soap and water. Use from one to several teaspoons of dish soap to a gallon of water and spray the plants thoroughly, under the leaves, too. Start with one teaspoon and if that doesn't seem to work, use two and then three or more.

If that isn't working, go to a hot spray made from a couple of cloves of garlic, a small onion and a tablespoon of hot pepper flakes or liquid pepper. Use the hottest you can find. Pulverize or blend the onion and garlic, then add the pepper and mix well. Put it all in a gallon of water and spray the dickens out of your plants.

If it isn't raining where you are (or won't be likely to in the next 48 hours or so, use diatomaceous earth. DE is the skeletal remains of diatoms, with sharp edges. It's so tiny that it looks and feels like powder, but it will kill bugs, slugs and snails. Animals won't be affected by it. Use a dust mask when you apply it, to keep from breathing it in because it could abrade the lining of your lungs or bronchial tubes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ways to Put Up Fruit for the Winter

Our ancestors got it right when they learned to preserve the wonderful abundance of summer and fall fruits for the long days of winter. Think toast or biscuits with your own home made jelly and jam, pies or cobblers for cold evening treats, or a bowl of crispy apples for afternoon snacks.

You don't have to spend time canning over a hot stove to have the best of summer and autumn produce on your table all winter. While your family might enjoy traditional jams and jellies, don't stop there. Dry some plums, freeze some peaches, store apples in the cellar (or basement or closet)!

Jellies, Jams and Butters

Making fruit into spreads is the way most people become acquainted with preserving fruit. It's a fairly simple and straight forward approach to keeping fruit and takes little extra equipment. Use fruit that's not in the best condition for butters, jellies and jams, and never use fruit that is old, moldy or dry for anything. You can cut away bruises and other damage.

Sweetened fruit can generally be canned in a water bath canner, or any pot large enough to cover your jars with water for a couple of inches. You will need to find recipes or instructions specific to the fruit you want to can. Don't assume that because one fruit takes a certain amount of time or is prepared a certain way that all fruits can be done that way. Jellies, jams and preserves are not canned as such, but heat sealed. Find and follow instructions for the specific fruit you have.

Freezing Fruits


To freeze, use ripe but not overripe fruit and wash thoroughly. When you're preparing it to freeze, you will find that cut or peeled pieces darken in the air. Put them into a bath made of a tablespoon of vinegar to about a quart of water. You can also use small amounts of flat (or not) citrus based soft drinks, or unsweetened lemonade in the water to keep fruits from turning colors. You can buy a product to keep fruit from turning but why buy it if you don't have to?

If you're preparing several packages of the same fruit, cut, peel or slice enough into the bath for one package at a time. You can use the same bath over and over and even freeze it for later use, so don't drain it away, but lift the fruit from it with a slotted spoon or strainer. Cover the prepared fruit with sugar syrup made to your taste. If you don't use sweetener, cover with plain water, then get to the freezer quickly.

Whole fruits can be frozen without water. Put them on a tray or cookie sheet to freeze, then store in an airtight container.

Dehydrating Fruits


Whether you use the sun, your oven or an electric dehydrator, wash fruit, peel if necessary, and pretreat in a bath as explained above to keep it from discoloring. Place fruit on racks, keeping individual pieces from touching, and dry at 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Different fruits will have different qualities when they are dry. Some types will be brittle, others will be leathery. If you are going to keep dehydrated fruit for several months, pasteurize it before storing by putting it in a 175 degree oven for 10 minutes. Don't overdo it or it will turn to charcoal!

Don't wait much longer or the abundance of summer fruit will be gone!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Psst... Wanna get out of debt?

For real?

Here's the key: Decide you're going to.

It doesn't matter if you have 27 cents left over after you pay the bills and buy groceries. It doesn't matter if you're only working part time and it doesn't matter if you've been in debt for the last hundred years. Once you decide you're going to do it, you can. And you will.

And that's the only secret there is.

Of course, there are methods and advice and ideas and some are better than others. A post at The Penny Hoarder called "The Ultimate Guide to Getting Out of Debt: A Step-by-Step Plan" spells it out in black and white.

Is it easy? Well, no. It takes some discipline and some planning, but that doesn't mean you can't do it. You can start as small or as big as you need to but the most important thing is to just decide to do it.

You can, you know.

 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Eat whatever grows: Purslane

The garden isn't doing so well this year, but I have a bumper crop of purslane! I mean, a bumper crop! I've been eating a lot of it but after awhile, even purslane gets tiresome. I have tried to freeze it by blanching first without much luck; tried dehydrating it and it lost its flavor. I tried pickling it and that's okay, but how much pickled purslane can one eat in a year?

Finally, though! I finally came up with an idea that works. I had made a big pan of it sauteed in butter when I had company last weekend. There was a little left and I started to put it in the refrigerator for later when I happened to think that maybe I could freeze it.

Today I took it out, let it thaw and warmed it up and it was just like I'd freshly cooked it. Here's exactly how I did it:

Wash, look and chop purslane into one to two inch pieces while heating a skillet to medium heat. Melt enough butter to cook the purslane. Cook quickly, stirring often, just until it cooks down. It should still be somewhat firm. Let it cool, then package for the freezer. How easy is that?




Monday, August 10, 2015

Stretching a Chicken

I know... visions of a chicken being stretched from its neck to its feet, right? I mean stretching a roasted chicken. If you roast a chicken whole, you can usually get one good meal from it, then a few dishes from the leftovers. The more careful you are, the more meals you can get from it.

You don't have to eat them one right after another, but if you freeze the chicken in portions, you will have it on hand for these simple and quick meal ideas: 

You can make simple chicken noodle soup by adding packaged egg noodles and frozen mixed vegetables. Add a little chicken bouillon if more flavor is needed.

Chicken and rice soup is really good on a cold day. Cook together a cup of rice, one large carrot and a couple of stalks of celery in four or five cups of water. Watch the water because it will boil away. When it's all done, add chopped chicken and enough bouillon to bring out the flavor.

A very Americanized version of fried rice with chicken goes like this: Heat a heavy skillet to medium hot, add peanut or sesame seed oil and scramble an egg in it. Add frozen vegetables of your choice, stirring until they are thawed and nearly done, then add cold rice, diced leftover chicken and a little soy sauce.

When you've used it down to almost the end and don't have enough for another meal, put whatever you can get from it into a food processor or blender. Add mayonnaise or salad dressing, coarsely chopped pickles, onions and salt if it's needed. Blend it thoroughly and you will have enough for a few delicious sandwiches.

If you want to get the most from it, though, once you've stripped all the meat that you can, boil the carcass for a couple of hours then strain the bones out of it, saving the liquid. This liquid is the pricey chicken broth that you find canned at the store. You can freeze it in portions to start the soups above, adding a little salt and omitting the bouillon needed, lowering your costs even more.

Let the bones cool for a little bit, then pick through them and get all the little bits of meat out. Put it in a container for soup, stirfry, sandwiches or casserole. If you're going to freeze the meat, pour a little of the broth over it to keep it from drying out.

With the price of food any more, why not get the most from it?



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Changing Seasons: Getting Ready for Fall

I know it's still the middle of summer, but with kids going back to school and schedules changing, I keep thinking of fall. Cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, pumpkins and the whole bit.

"It used to be" that when we got ready for fall and winter right after, we would become earnest in putting up the garden produce, finding fruit for jellies and butters and otherwise stocking up for the winter.

Days were filled with canning jars and dehydrating trays. All the extra summer rich cream went to making butter for the freezer and then we started gathering wood for the stoves. Cutting and stacking took days of good, wholesome family work and the first fire of the year was our reward.

I still can and dehydrate and gather in what is available to put up for the winter. Not only is it more frugal to do it myself, the quality is better than I can buy. Besides that, I enjoy it.

Everyone has their own ways of getting ready for fall and winter, but frugal folks tend to make a deliberate effort toward it.

Do you? What do you do to get ready for the seasons changing?

If you have a blog, feel free to answer that question there and leave a link to it in the comment section.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Back to school sales are for you, too.

Back to school sales are all over the place right now! Don't think of them as just for the kids and school; they're for you and your home, too. 

There are sales on pencils, crayons, notebooks and so on, so as you buy for the back to school gang, buy some for yourself while they're cheap. Who couldn't use a few pencils or notebooks throughout the year?

Other deals you'll find right now are on computers and other electronics and inexpensive furniture (for dorm rooms, but who says you or  your kids can't use it at home?). Now's the time to get those storage bins for the laundry or the bright, comfy seating for the family room as well.

Grab some new bedding for the kids (thanks again to dorm rooms), then add a bulletin board and a stack of cube storage boxes and your kids' rooms will look new for very little cash.

Now's the time, but it won't last long. As soon as school starts and the stock is sold, we will be right back to the higher prices, so take advantage of the sales while you can. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

It's time to gather tea for the winter

Right now is a great time to gather plants for tea  (tisanes, actually) from your garden, yard or wild areas to use this winter.

You probably have a few plants (aka, weeds) available that make good tea and right now, they're free for the taking. Free is frugal, right?

So what can you make tea from?

Dandelions (leaves and roots)
Berry leaves (strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, etc.)
Rose hips (a little later in the season; don't forget them)
Mint (any kind, including catmint, horehound, lemon balm and so on)
Flowers like clover, chamomile, goldenrod, meadowsweet and yarrow
Some trees have bark that make tea, like cherry

Make sure you can positively identify any plant that you gather. Most plants are best when gathered early in the morning. Don't pick too many leaves from a plant or you will damage it. You can pick over a few days to minimize damage.

Dehydrate the plant material by putting it in a single layer on a food safe screen or cloth in a warm, not hot, place. Don't dry in the sun, as delicate flavors may be damaged.

Some leaves will be dry and ready to store in a day's time; others will take two days. They are ready when they're crunchy with no trace of moisture left. Store in a glass jar with an airtight lid. As much as you might want to show off your teas, don't store them on the counter. Put them in a cabinet or pantry where it will be dark most of the time.

This winter when the cold winds blow and you want something comforting, put a heaping teaspoon or two of your free tea in a cup and add boiling water. Let it steep at least five minutes or more, depending on the tea.

You will soon learn how much you need and next year, you'll know how much to harvest.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Working oline

Making money is as critical as saving it, and if you're a stay at home parent or between jobs or disabled or in any other position where you need to make money, working online is the ideal way to bring in an income.

There are still scams and "methods" all over the internet, so beware of them. They are usually overly enthused about how much you can make or how little it takes to get rich, but some of them have become a little more sophisticated. It's best to do some research on any company or site before getting involved with them.

You can make a few dollars here and there or, if you're really committed, you can make more than just a few. Honestly, unless you have a specific skill or are an entrepreneur at heart, it's very hard to make a living online. At best, most people will make enough to pay for their internet and maybe pay a bill or two each month.

For some, that's fine. It's perfect, as a matter of fact, for some people. There are several sites where you can work to do that: the ubiquitous Swagbucks is probably the most popular. It takes time, as do most rewards type of online programs.

Then there is Inboxdollars and InstaGC and many more. Once you start looking, you will find many and you'll have to choose wisely if you want to make the most of your time.

"Pocket change" means different things to different people, so you may or may not be happy with what you can earn at places like those.

From a little experience, I can advise you to stay with a site for at least a couple of weeks until you learn the ropes. They're all a little different and you will find new and better ways to earn as you get more comfortable with each of them.

And have fun. It's not all about work and money. Set goals, challenge yourself, enjoy your time and know that you're not wasting it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Eat better on a budget

Healthy eating on a budget means eating seasonally, avoiding processed food, sticking to basics, cooking from scratch and using coupons with wisdom and caution.

Eating seasonally might take some getting used to, but you'll get the best of food for the least price if you do. Produce which is in season means sweet and tempting strawberries in the spring lucious, juicy watermelon in the middle of summer, firm, bright apples in the fall and plump and tasty turkerys in early winter. Sure, you can get those things other times, but they're just not as good.

When you avoid processed food, you avoid paying for chemicals that you can't pronounce and your body either can't process or does it to its own detriment. Processing makes a food shelf or refrigerator stable at the cost of nutrients and flavor. Other, simple foods are just as easy to prepare and much better for you.

Basic food is food that covers all the nutritional needs without any fancy sauces or flavorings. No exotic or expensive tastes, but good, simple food that satisfies your hunger. Save the expensive and fancy food for special occasions and you'll enjoy them more, anyway.

Cooking from scratch is a necessity if you want to eat basic food because nobody else is going to make it for you. A pot of beans and a pan of cornbread is easy to make, inexpensive and oh, so good! Simple recipes may be harder to find than complicated ones, but it's worth the hunt. Google is your friend.

Coupons can be really good budget boosters, if you use them right. Never use a coupon to buy something you wouldn't buy in the first place. To save money, make out your grocery list, then go looking for coupons to lower the cost of what you need.

There you go. Lower your entire food bill and eat better, too.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Parenting Syrup, Cars and Danger

You've probably noticed the links in the upper right hand corner. One of them is to "Parenting Syrup," and yes, I know that's an unusual name. If you've heard of it before, you remember it, though, right?

Anyway, there are some really interesting articles there and I should know because I edit the site. One that caught my attention is "Children Die of Heatstroke in Vehicles." You probably already know that, but you might want to read what this author has to say about it.

With summer heat coming on, it's something to beware of. Also, just leaving your kids alone in the car for a few minutes can be dangerous. "Danger: Your Kids are Alone in the Car" spells out exactly why.

Don't let your child be a statistic this summer.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket


That's a phrase usually reserved for expectations or investments, but it fits saving money, too.

If you clip coupons but don't bother to shop second hand for clothing and household goods, you're spending more than you have to. If you only shop the sales rack but you compare auto insurance every 10 years or so, you're probably spending more than you have to.

It's easy to get comfortable and even in a rut when it comes to cutting costs, but relying on one area without looking up and around at all the different ways to save will cost you.

Shop sales, plan purchases, avoid impulse buys, compare all kinds of insurance costs every year, borrow or rent instead of buying, find ways to save on utilities, etc., etc.

Don't depend on one or two things to save money.

Friday, May 22, 2015

No Vacation? Break Loose, Anyway!

Can't afford a vacation this year? You've heard of "staycations" but you're just not convinced it would give you the break you need? How about an overnight trip? Two full days, one night, and you'll feel like you've had a real break.

You will need a sense of adventure, a positive attitude, gas money and money for an overnight stay. Pack a cooler with food and an extra change of clothing, just in case. 

Start as early as you want to. I remember starting out on vacation when the kids were little. It would still be dark out; the coffee in our thermos was hot, the kids went back to sleep, the roads were quiet and the lull of the rolling countryside was peaceful. I griped about it then, but no more. It's a magical time to hit the road.

If that doesn't appeal to you, how about staying home for breakfast, then taking off? Wash up the dishes, unplug everything not needed for two days and away you go.

Where? Start here: Choose a direction. Any direction will do. Drive for two hours. Stop and look around. You might be in a different town or a rural area. Talk to the first person you meet and ask about local attractions. You will get a wide array of answers from the best fishing lake to free museums or maybe you've even stumbled on to a local celebration. If it's nothing more than a picnic in the local park, do it.

If you can't stay busy here the rest of the day, drive another hour and repeat. Near the end of the day, look for a place to stay the night. This could be a KOA cabin, a campground or a motel.

The next morning, take the next road in a different direction and slowly work your way back home, stopping to take in the sights and activities as you come across them.

That's what they call "foot-loose and fancy free" and it will refresh your mind, your body and your soul better than an extended, well planned vacation.

Go ahead, break loose. Take a little chance and you'll find you don't have a thing to lose.

image courtesy morguefile.com

Monday, May 18, 2015

Garage Sale Cautions

Lots of frugalites shop second hand and garage sales are the best way to do that. Not only are prices lower at garage sales, if you can find the right one, the offerings might be more up to date than thrift stores.

Clothing and entertainment items like DVDs and games may be last years editions or not. People tire of thing quickly.

What not to buy at garage sales varies with your location and your gut feeling. Don't ignore that. If there is "something" about a person you don't trust, don't buy electronics or other things that you can't fully check out. Even at ten cents on the dollar, there's no reason to waste your money.

Before you start out on a day's or morning's worth of garage sales, put together a list of things with sizes, colors, styles and any other pertinent information and take it with you!

Yeah, ask me how I know that part is important.

It's easy to get carried away at garage sales, so put on your best discipline before you leave the house. Take cash and only take as much as you can really afford to spend. That will help you slip past that beautiful vase and the throw pillows that would be gorgeous in your living room, right to the tops and shorts for the kids and the stock pot you've been needing.

As always, keeping a goal in your head makes it easier to meet!

image courtesy morguefile.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How to Stay at Home and Make Money

Do you want to stay at home with your baby but you're not sure you can afford it? There are ways to make money at home. Perhaps you can eat your cake and have it, too!

Read this and see:
Eight Ways to Make Money at Home

And if you don't find what you're looking for there, try this:
Seven Valid Ways to Make Money Online

And still more (but not limited to holidays!) Make Extra Money for the Holidays

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Are You Ready for Easter?

Easter baskets ready for the kids? Big dinner planned and bought? Family coming?

Whether you do these things or not, Easter can punch a hole in your budget if you're not careful. Planning ahead is important, as always, but even at that, it's easy to spend a lot of money on chocolate bunnies, new clothes and special food.

Okay, so that much we know. What to do about it is the question, right? You probably don't want to return that big, beautiful basket of goodies, but for future reference, you can make one just as nice, or nicer, yourself for at least half the cost.

If you are like many who think that a new Easter outfit is part of it all, for next year, look for that special clothing on sale right after Easter. You could even find it second hand and maybe in time for this year.

Dinner, too, can be bought on sale and not necessarily just before Easter. Keep your eyes open all year for specials that can be frozen or stored otherwise.

Stay alert to savings all the time and you'll be able to keep more money in your pocket.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Toddlers and learning

Just something interesting, if you have a toddler, or even if you don't. They learn an awful lot during those first few years!

How Your Toddler Learns


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vinegar - Cheapest Remedy

As far back as 3,000 years ago, we know that people were using vinegar for medicinal purposes. Hippocrates used it to treat burns, swellings and inflammations and a mixture of vinegar and honey was used as an expectorant. The Babylonians used it to preserve food, Roman soldiers drank it for overall health and Cleopatra dissolved pearls in it (so they say).

Guess what? It still does those things today. Vinegar, placed on a wound will help swelling and inflammation go down and it's useful to relieve the pain of sunburn and other burns. If you spray some on a sunburn right away, it will keep the skin from peeling so badly as it heals.

It's great as a cough and sore throat medicine, mixed with honey and a little water. Drink it hot for the best effect.

Vinegar provides your body with potassium, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Because of that, it can relieve headaches, lower blood pressure and guard against gout and other arthritis.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as they say.



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Still working on my February project...

This started out as one of some sturdy boxes that held dishes (a Christmas gift!). I almost threw them away, (the boxes, not the dishes!) then I had second thoughts.

Instead, I painted them with latex wall paint. They took the paint very well, although it took two coats.



And this is what they looked like when I got them painted and stacked. A "free" set of storage boxes, custom made to fit the room I am slowly... ever so slowly... redoing.

The chest of drawers is the one I posted about before. It holds yarn. Yep, lots of yarn. What can I say?





Another view of those free storage boxes. I can hardly wait to finish up everything, but it's going to take awhile yet. I have to clear the desk of computer, printer, speaker, and lots of papers and other... stuff.

And that ain't no small feat!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Parenting... Syrup?

Parenting Syrup. How's that for a name? I thought so, too!

I was kind of surprised, though, that it's really a neat site. After I got over being surprised, I found myself involved in it, so, of course, I want you to take a look: Parenting Syrup (Yep, that's right. You will remember that, right?)

It's written for real, every day parents by real, every day parents. Cool stuff.

Tell me what you think! There's another one I will post about later, I promise.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How to save 100% on every sale you find

In all the hype we hear about sales and how much we can save, one thought keeps coming to mind.

They tell us we can save 10%, 25% and even more on some of these "special" "Unprecedented" "wow" sales...

I have a better method. I can save 100% by not buying that item in the first place.

I mean, I didn't want or need it before the sale, so why should I need it now?

It's something we need to check ourselves on now and then, no matter how frugal we are. Wrong attitudes about savings sneak up on us, just like they intended.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cheap February Projects

So I started off this month with a determination to "do something" about my office/craft room. I had thought about it for months, but it never seemed like the right time.

Yeah... it wasn't. Did you know that February is a short month? I still had taxes to do. And then I started a new online project. And then... well, it's gone by.

The room has been painted and the chest of drawers looks pretty good, too. What else? Hm. Oh, I did buy a cute little... um.. thing. I set it on a speaker. And I hung a bulletin board.

Oh, well. There's always next month, right?

There's that "thing" on the speaker, but you can hardly see it. Click on the image if you just have to. And, yeah, that's the barest my desk has been in a long time. I couldn't find the rest of my "stuff" when I tried to put everything back, and I didn't clean off the things I was working with, but it looks better than it usually does!

The best part about it is that when I'm all done with it, I will have spent about $150. I'll post an updated picture of it then and explain what I did. IF I ever get to that point!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Time to Think About Vegetable Seeds for Your Garden

Frugally speaking, it's time to start looking for free seed starting containers and sort through the seeds you saved last year. If you didn't save any, it's time to plan on what you have to buy, add up the cost and make a decision to save them next year. Packets of seed each year is an expense that can easily be eliminated.

Some seeds are easier to save than others, but all seeds can be saved. For instance, if you let one or two radishes go to seed, you will have enough radish seed to last a few years. Nature is generous! Kale, lettuce, spinach and similar leafy vegetables will set enough seed from a very few plants (or even one plant) to save for the next year with seed left over.

Beans and peas of all kinds produce plenty of seed if you choose a couple of plants and mark them when you are harvesting. Tomatoes, peppers and squashes take a little more care, but not much and one vegetable will have more than enough seeds to save.

Saving seeds from year to year not only saves you money, it ensures the best harvest you can get because each year the seed gets more comfortable in the specific climate of your garden and can produce better and bigger vegetables.

Make it a point this year to save more seeds of your own and pay less for someone else to do it for you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Creative With Cardboard

Still got cardboard boxes hanging around after the holidays? Put them to good use! Cardboard is a surprisingly sturdy material that's also easy to cut, fold and otherwise manipulate. The only downsides are that water will destroy it and it burns quickly.

You can cut it with sturdy scissors or a sharp knife, paint it, decorate it with contact paper or colored tape or decoupage it. As a matter of fact, it will do a lot of things that wood will, and it's a lot cheaper (free!).

I just came across a really cool shoe rack you can make of cardboard here, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can make anything from emergency tables for kids to "paper" chains that will last holiday after holiday.

One of the easiest things to make from small cardboard boxes is storage boxes and bins. Sure, you can use them just like they are, but what's the fun in that? Go dig up some leftover paint and/or a leftover strip of contact paper, or yesterday's newspaper and decoupage glue. Have fun decorating a few boxes that you can leave out in plain sight instead of shoving them to the back corner of the closet. You can make them a lot prettier than any storage box you can buy and you can customize them to exactly suit your room!

Never get rid of a cardboard box without asking yourself if it will fill a need in your home. There are lots and lots of pages on the internet with so many projects made from cardboard that I couldn't even list them here.

Let us know what you find and what you decide to make! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Save on Groceries by Using Less Meat

Buy by the serving instead of by the pound. How many servings will you get from a whole chicken?

Most people in the developed nations eat too much protein. With higher costs for meat, it's one thing we can learn to save money on without feeling guilty or as if our diets are lacking in nutrition. It may very well be better for us health-wise as well as budget-wise, when we cut back on using meat.

You can make a lot of dishes with a minimum of meat. Use whatever recipe you like for meat casseroles, but cut back on the meat and add extra of the other ingredients.

Use all of the meat you buy, by using the pan drippings to flavor soup or rice or noodles (and calling it meat), or boiling all bones after they've been cooked, to get all the little bits of meat from them. The water they're boiled in makes good broth for flavoring other dishes, or as a base for soup or stew. Freeze the bits of meat until you have enough for a main dish.

Instead of hamburger gravy, use bits of any leftover meat to put in milk gravy and serve over toast, potatoes, noodles or rice.

There are many ways to save on meat, but it mostly boils down to using less in recipes and/or per serving and not wasting any leftovers.

Image courtesy of morguefile.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ammonia

Ammonia isn't as popular as a cleaning agent as it could be because many people don't like the fumes. It's cheap and efficient when you have a tough cleaning job involving grease or unknown gunk, though, and since manufacturer's have added scents, ammonia isn't even quite as smelly.

Those famous fumes are the real gunk-loosening power of ammonia. To use them, put a small amount of ammonia in a container that can be closed - like your oven or a plastic bag. To minimize the use even more (and maximize your savings), put it in a shallow container like a pie pan (glass only) in the bottom rack of your oven, then put drip pans, electric skillets or anything else that's coated with grease or baked on gunk, in the oven. Close the oven door and leave it all there overnight. The gunk will be loosened by morning so a quick scrub will have everything, including the oven, shining.

It will also remove wax on floors, clean windows (very much diluted), woodwork and almost anything else.

At the price, you can't beat it's cleaning power, but it isn't as friendly as vinegar or baking soda, so keep it away from kids and pets and don't breathe any more fumes than you have to.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Fiscal Fasting

You can do it however you want to, from staying away from the grocery store to not buying anything except necessities, like toilet paper and coffee.  Some people do it for a full year while some go on a fiscal fast for a week or a month.

Even if you do it for one day now and then, you will save money.

The key is to not spend anything at all unless it's absolutely necessary for a certain period of time.

Don't think you can? Think again. Instead of having a pizza delivered, cook something you already have. Instead of new clothing for a special event, wear something you already have in a different way. Instead of buying a magazine off the rack, go online and read or read a book you already have.

It's not a matter of "can you do it," it's a matter of "will you do it." If you're serious about saving money, you'll do it. 

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.