Friday, October 25, 2013

Frugal Breakfasts for Frosty Mornings

Some of us have already awakened to freezing temperatures and killing frosts this year. Even if you haven't, the cooler temperatures make warming breakfasts appealing. Oatmeal is probably the most popular hot cereal and store brand oats are a frugal choice over brand name oats, since they're generally of good quality.

Most of us don't want to eat oats every morning, though. Another hot cereal is good old fashioned Malt-O-Meal®. The three original varieties - Original, Chocolate and Maple and Brown Sugar - are still available and still very inexpensive per serving. They're quick and easy to make and most kids love them.

Another good cold weather breakfast is pancakes. They're so simple to make from scratch that I wonder how they ever started selling pancake mixes in the first place. There is one that may be cheaper to buy than to make pancakes from scratch and that is Krusteaz® pancake mixes. All you do is add water.

And then there are biscuits with gravy or butter or peanut butter or just biscuits.

Any of these breakfasts will cost you just pennies per serving.

Disclaimer: I'm not paid for mentioning either Malt-O-Meal® or Krusteaz®, although that would be nice. They are products that are inexpensive and good quality. Products like that help us keep our costs down and eat well, too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fireplaces and Attics Can Waste Your Money

Heat rises! You know it does. Places like attics and fireplaces when not in use, allow the air that you pay to keep warm  float right out the roof.

Enough insulation in your attic will make a big difference in your heating bill, but if your attic door is leaking warm air up and out, you still will be paying more than you need to. There are special bats that cover attic doors, or you can cut one to fit the door. You'll need to tape it on to keep it in place when you close the door. Weatherize the edges, too, with strips they make for doors, or make your own from felted wool. Just cut strips and use white glue to attach them.

Fireplaces are great for cold weather, but they don't heat well unless they're equipped with a "heatilator," which are pipes going through the masonry and opening into the room, carrying the heat that would otherwise escape up the chimney. Some fireplaces work better than others due to their mass and the way it's arranged.

More than losing heat through the chimney when it's burning, a fireplace loses heat through an open damper when it's not burning. You can't reach in to the chimney to close it until the fireplace fire is out and fairly cold, so there is a lot of hot air going right up and out. Close it as soon as you can, but don't forget to open it before building the next fire!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Save Money by Not Heating These

Do you heat your pantry, closets and empty guest rooms? Do you heat hobby rooms or bedrooms all day long when no one is in them?

You're wasting home heating energy and money if you do.

It's a simple thing to close vents and keep the doors closed to unused rooms. Go a step further and make or buy draft stoppers if there is a gap under the door. Weatherstrip the inside of pantries and closets and wherever else it may be appropriate.

The idea is to seal these rooms away from the rooms you want to heat. Less space to heat = less money to heat it.

Note: It would be very unusual for food in a pantry to freeze unless it's on an outside wall and your house gets really, really cold, but keep potatoes and other fresh foods toward the inside wall for the best flavor. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Rule of Three

Are you in the market for an appliance or other "big ticket" item? You can save money by following the rule of three. It goes like this:

1. Go to the store or site of your choice and choose the exact one you want, or decide on a type that you want, with brand, size, etc., negotiable. Make detailed notes.

2. Go to another store or site and compare what they have with what you saw at the other store. Make sure each item is comparable. If you find a size or type that the other store didn't have and you like it better, make  note of it.

3. Go to yet another store. Follow the same procedure. Check the exact item if you're sure that's what you want, or look through the types, sizes and so on, to make up your mind. Make notes.

That's it. Go home. Wait three days.

1. Sit down with your notes.
2. Decide which one is the best deal.
3. Go and buy it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Time for pumpkin!

Whether you buy or grow pumpkins it's easy to find yourself with an excess of it this time of year. It only takes one to have too much if you just want to make a pie, but it freezes very well, so that's an option. Right now, though, try it in pancakes in place of part of the milk or put it in soups.

It can be eaten just like winter squash (which it really is) with butter and salt or whatever your favorite seasonings are. Another way to try it is to slice it thin, salt it and roast it in a slow oven until it's dry. It's a real taste treat! Of course, you could always make another pumpkin pie.

There are many recipes for pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies and the like, so even if you're pumpkin'd out right now, bake these goodies and keep them in the freezer until you're ready for a treat.

Pumpkins are good, nutritious and cheap, so don't let this once a year gem slip by you!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ready Your Home for Chilly Weather Ahead!

For most of us, it's time to start winterizing our home. I know it's still fall and I know that ultra cold and snow are still in the future, but NOW is the time to get ready - not when there's a blizzard going on and you suddenly realize that the drapes are billowing with the wind and the furnace seems to be working very hard and not making much progress.

Start outside the house. Drain hoses and make sure outside faucets are ready for the first freeze, then check around the foundation of the house to make sure there are no new cracks or gaps that need to be filled.

Gutters need to be cleaned of leaves as autumn progresses, and chimneys and vents need to be checked for leaks.

Cover and/or store your outdoor furniture and make sure all the garden and lawn tools are brought in, cleaned and stored.

Look around the windows and do any needed caulking. Even newer windows may have cracks around the outside frames.

If you have plants that need special care before winter, now is the time to do it, or at least plan for dividing, mulching and cutting back.

Doing these things is much more pleasant when the skies are blue, the grass is still growing and the air is warm.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

5 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

1. Never shop hungry. When you're hungry, everything looks good and you'll bring home a lot of snacks and items you wouldn't have bought otherwise.

2. Look up; look down. Grocery stores put the highest price items at eye level. Stoop over and see what's on the bottom shelf, then stand on your tiptoes and check out the top shelf.

3. Shop alone. The more, the merrier and the higher the grocery bill, as children or spouses add their favorites and things they want to try to the cart.

4. Shop the sales. Never go to the grocery store without looking at the current sales ads. If you don't take a newspaper, most stores have their ads online. Plan your meals around sales items and stock up a little if you can.

5. Ditch the brand name "must haves." Try store brand cereals, bread, dairy and meat. Most of the time, they're just as good as the brand that you pay the advertising for.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Frugal Reasons for Walking

1. It saves gas if you can walk where you'd otherwise drive.

2. It's good exercise and can keep you in good health, and that's frugal.

3. Walking is good for your mood and helps us live more intentionally.
Nature is calming and uplifting.

4. You can discover things you'd never see in a car: coins on the ground and plants you can take cuttings from (ask first!) for two.

5. A new pair of shoes is cheaper than a set of new tires.