Sunday, February 5, 2017

Five Ways to Cut Monthly Costs

If you are like me, when you read the average article about saving money, it is a hit and a miss. For example, I do not smoke, drink alcohol or coffee and most of the holes they suggest I fill just don't exist. I wish that meant I was perfect, but I do have areas where I am looking to plug up my own holes. Maybe you have some of those holes, too!

1. Clean out that storage shed and get rid of it, or, at least, downsize! When I first moved to across the country, I rented a 20 x 20 shed with the idea it would last for six months. I wanted to find out where I wanted to live before I moved all that stuff.  Years later, I have downsized to a 10 x 10. Today, I started working on getting a smaller shed with the goal of no shed in about a year.

The great thing about emptying out a shed is, you can sell that stuff. You haven't used it -or seen it- in how long? Have a garage sale. Sell it on Craigslist or eBay or check out the community page on Facebook. Bank the extra money.

2.  Sell any extra vehicles you may own. Even if all your cars or trucks are paid for, you still have the costs of upkeep and insurance. You will have more money you can save and someone else will have the vehicle they need. It is a win-win situation.

3.  Get ready to plant a garden. In a few weeks, early starting plants can be started in your home. In a few months, you will save money on groceries and, maybe even on doctor bills. Veggies are so good for you and will help keep your personal machinery in good running shape.

Use egg cartons are Keurig cups to start the seeds. Add soil to the empty container and plant the seeds. Recycling at its finest.

4.  Learn how to mend the clothes you have. Knowing how to alter clothes is another good way to keep from spending more money on new clothes. Just the other day, I found a hole in the inner leg of my favorite pajamas. A little saying went through my head and I headed for my sewing box and stitched it up. The saying, "A stitch in time saves nine." It also keeps me from letting them get ruined.

5.  Pack healthy snacks, especially if you have to go shopping after work.  If I am hungry, I am 75% more likely to buy junk food and ruin my budget and my healthy diet. Taking carrot sticks or seaweed and eating it on my way to the store helps me avoid the "aisle" attractions.

Look for little ways you can save money. Finding an extra dollar a week can save $52 in a year. Couponing, bargain shopping, cutting out unnecessary activities all help you live daily on less!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Waste Not, Want Not!

I love making recipes that call for fresh herbs, don't you? In the cooler by the vegetables, you can buy mint, basil and other delightful herbs. Unfortunately, I had a very big problem. I would buy the herbs, paying about $2.99 for each container. When I went to the refrigerator to get them, they were almost always bad. I hate wasting money, so I decided I would have to use dried herbs.

I went to the store one day, and started shopping. There, on the end of some of the vegetable shelves, I found the answer to my dilemma! Live plants! The best part-I can still use fresh herbs without waste!!!!

Although I live in a very small space-hey, it helps me live daily on less-but I found a special place for three plants. I now grow my own mint, basil and cilantro. When I am making something wonderful, like Bibambap, I head to the window and pick off all the mint and basil I want. What wonderful flavor the herbs add to the dish!  Each plant cost me $3.99 and I use it over and over again. Talk about saving money, increasing flavor and having greenery in the house-it is a three-in-one deal!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Saving Money on Flights

When I drive to work, I like to listen to the radio. One program I like is Kim Kamando because she offers a lot of great advice that I use to save money. As I was planning a trip to celebrate my birthday, my ears perked up when I heard her talking about saving money on flights. I memorized what she said, and now I am writing it down so you can know it, too!

First, she shared her favorite website for saving money on flights:

Then, she made these suggestions:

A) Take a mid-week flight. Wednesday is a low-fly day so tickets are cheaper.

B)  Be willing to fly early in the morning, before the night owls get ready to go. The red-eye flight will save you money.

C)  Book your flights 53-54 days in advance. That takes some long-range planning, but it can be done.

Some advice she did not give, but that I used on my flight:

1)  Pack everything into your carry-on and avoid having to pay for baggage if your airline charges for checked luggage. The great perk about this is, if the flight is very full, they will offer to check your bag for free and you don't have to worry about it.

2)  Take a smaller purse. Put the purse inside of a larger bag for your personal item.

3)  Bring your own food and drink the free drinks they offer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Need a winter hat without spending anything?

Most of us have sweaters that no longer fit or they have lost their appeal. If you have a sweater with band around the bottom, you can make a free beanie-type hat with ease. Because I never seldom sweaters, I went to the local second-hand store on dollar day and bought a small gray sweater with the band.

First, I cut the sweater about eight inches from the bottom-staight across. After that, I cut up the seam on one side, from bottom to top.

Then I measured the size of my hat by wrapping the band around my head. I overlapped the two ends a bit, marked it, and then cut from the bottom straight up.

I pinned the two sides together, wrong sides showing and sewed it from the top to the bottom with a blanket stitch. The blanket stitch is so simple. If you do not know how, here is a simple video to show you what to do. Click here. Stitching the side of the hat took about 10 minutes!

Then, I put two edges together and blanket stitched them together. I repeated this two more times. To see how it is done with glue, check out this video. She uses glue. I prefer stitching mine. When it was finished, it had three points. I joked about adding tassles to create a jester's hat. I really like it.

The finished project is simple and looks like this!

I decided to be very frugal in keeping my budget low. I made this hat and then I made some 18-inch doll clothes. Once they are finished, I will feature them on The 18-inch World blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Stop Wasting Food!

We shop so carefully, using coupons and shopping sales!
Then we throw great amounts of food away because it goes bad. I finally got tired of it and did something about it at my house.

I love berries and when they are on sale, I buy lots of them. In the food-wasting days, I would come home and put them in the fridge so I could deal with them later. Sometimes, on the very next morning, I would pull out my berries to add to a smoothie or throw into my cereal and find some of them already had to be thrown out. Now, I do two different things to save my berries from spoiling.

First, add 3 cups of water to 1 cup of vinegar. Put your berries into the water and let them soak for 10 minutes. Rinse them off well. Rinse out the container or use a new one. Put some of the berries in the container for quick use. Strangely, it even seems to help if I put them in upside down.

Second, Put the rest in a freezer bag and freeze them. Do all of this as soon as you get home. Since I started my two-step plan, I have not lost any of my yummy berries.

When I buy bagels for my husband, they are often buy one/get one free. I freeze the second bag as soon as I get home.

If you notice your vegetables are getting soft, do one of two things. First, make a delicious stew and throw in all the veggies. Eating them in a stew will save you from vegetables that don't have any crunch.

Second, wash them, chop them and, you guessed it, put them in the freezer right away.

Bananas turn brown and then go mushy. Peel them and freeze them in a plastic bag. If you don't peel them first, removing the peel of a frozen banana is tough. Letting it thaw first is gross! Use them in smoothies or make banana bread. Of course, if you have time to bake right away, just make the bread now.

Wash grapes and pull them off the stems. Put them in little baggies or set them in drawers. If they are easy to eat, the family is more likely to eat them before they go bad. Put other fruits, like apples and oranges, in bowls on the counter where everyone will see them right away.

Another fruit that died quickly on me was my lemons. Because I use them for the juice, I just started squeezing them right away and putting the juice in an ice cube tray. Once they were frozen, I popped them out and put them in a marked plastic freezer bag. When I want to use one, I just set it out a little before it was needed and let it thaw.

Leftovers often get over-looked. Plan them into your meals. Add cheese or some other sauce when you can to make them look fresh and new.

This is not a sales commercial and I get no gain from this, but, there is one thing that I could that keeps my celery from going limp in a short time. Tupperware veggie crispers are great. I wash the celery, cut it up and place it in the crisper with the right ventilation.

Finally, another way that I have learned to stop wasting food is by planning meals. Once my week is planned, I only buy the food needed for my meal plans. The less food we waste, the more money we save!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Saving Money on Insurance

Insurance is a necessary evil! I only say evil because I have to pay for it. In reality, I do appreciate it. We pay our bill monthly and so it hurts every month. I asked my husband what we could do to lower the bills. Here is what we did:

1) I am required to carry high insurance on any vehicle I may use for my job, and so I had it on all our vehicles. We determined that their were paying for vehicles that we knew we would never use for work. We lowered the coverage on those vehicles.

2) We realized that we were paying full coverage for vehicles that were paid for and that were not that high in value. (We keep our cars forever because my husband takes such good care of them.) We put liability on all of them and dropped comprehsive coverage.

3) We sold a vehicle that we realized that we really did not need. Of course, we dropped that coverage completely.

When we were all done reevaluating our coverage, our insurance bill was only 2/3 of what it was before we started. Have you reevaluated your insurance lately? We are saving almost $400 for the year. That's well worth the time we took to change it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stop Wasting Money

Almost everyone wastes money without even thinking about it. Saving a penny here or there can add up to dollars. I use to be a lot more wasteful, but someone in my life demonstrate thrift to me and it just made perfect sense. Here are some ways you might be wasting money. I shared one example on my article about batteries. Click here to read it.

1)  Do you run the water down the drain before you take a shower? I use to because I really like a warm (okay-hot) water, so I would let the water run. I still like my really warm showers, but now, I catch the water that use to run down the drain. The water can be used to flush toilets, water plants, or, if you catch it in a pitcher, it can be used in cooking or for drinking. Why give the water companies one penny more than you have to give them?

2)  Do you pay to get your sewing machine cleaned and oiled? I use to, but no more. You know, they say you can learn anything on the Internet, Well, here's one more thing you can do for yourself! If you need help, just check out these two links:

Craftsy has free classes as well as classes you can pay for, but the adjust your tension class is free.

Niler Taylor has an article, "How To Clean and Oil Your Sewing Machine." It is step-by-step and easy to follow. 

Both sites have videos to show you how. If you don't like these two, there are others and they will save you over $50 per time. I use to pay that money and then I was challenged to do it myself. All I needed was a can of air (like you use to clean your keyboard), sewing machine oil and a rag. The best thing of all is that it was incredible easy to do.

3)  Do you buy fresh fruit for smoothies and end up throwing fruit away because it turns bad overnight?  I use to, but now I do things differently. First, I wash the fruit and its container before I put it in the fridge. I leave out what I will use for the first smoothie and put the rest in the freezer. I didn't do this the other day because I was too busy. The next morning, most of my organic raspberries had mold on them. That will not happen again!

4)  Do you grocery shop a lot?  I do, but only for fresh fruits and vegetables or almond other words, perishables. I am on a quest to eat what I have-which is plenty. The pantry is so full it is hard to put anything new in there and yet, I would still go out and buy more food. Now we are eating what we have and my grocery bills are much, much lower. The problem is often that, when I would get home, I wanted to eat NOW and not have to go through the cupboard and find out what I could cook. Guess how I solved that problem? Sunday morning, I would look in the cupboard and make up a menu for the week. That way I knew what I had and what I needed to buy. Of course, I left myself the opportunity to mix the week's menus around and even knew enough of what I had to change it completely. Now I don't have to think-I can just cook. Oh, sometimes, I could just make it ahead on Sunday so it just needed to be heated after work.  

5) Do you buy cut up chicken parts?  Like legs, thighs or breasts. I don't really eat meat anymore, but when I did, I bought whole chickens and cut them up myself. Not only is it easy, it is also mucho cheaper! I played "grocery store." I froze them in parts. Then, when I wanted to use breasts, I just brought out the breast package. Again, easy peasy.

6)  Drop memberships or packages that you don't use. This is a no-brainer. Unused gym memberships, time-shares, cable packages that are bigger than you need (or maybe you don't really need it) and any other thing that you pay to not do...dump it or sell it.  (Thinking time-shares here. You may not get your money back but, at least it won't keep costing you!)

7) Find the cheapest way to buy things. For example, I was shopping in a Barnes and Noble far from my home one day. I discovered that, because I am a member (this is a membership that pays for me!) I could actually have the book I wanted shipped to my house for free and that it would cost me less than if I bought it in the store. (Bonus-I couldn't lose it on the way home.)

Other ways to buy cheaper, always hit sale racks first. Find out when close-out sales will start. Some stores, like Goodwill, have marked-down days for teachers, military, seniors and they also have $1 day in my area.

8)  Fix things-don't replace them unless you can't fix them (or it is cheaper to fix them.)  An example of fixing something easy is found here. I thought I would have to throw my scissors out but they work great!

The chain on my fruit basket broke. We had two choices-another fruit basket with another cheap chain or buy better chain for about the same price and fix the one we had. Guess which choice we made? It works great with the new chain and won't break anytime soon.

9)  Keep cars and trucks in good repair. This idea will cost you money up front but could end up saving you thousands of dollars!  My husband changes the belts on the our vehicles, checks the tires for air and tread regularly, changes the oil when it needs it and, in general, takes great care of what we have. Interesting to note, our vehicles never break down. Proactive car is always the best.

There are tons of way to stop wasting money so you can live on less. Check through your spending habits and see what you can do!

Credits:  Dollars by jhnri4
               $$$ by nicubunu