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 milk...in 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  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Traveling in a Camper and Saving Money on Vacation

Our cute, adorable little camper!
We like to travel with our little camper, but our budget squeaks and makes us plan out our traveling so we can have maximum time and fun. That means the trip has to be economically solid. We have a few things we like to do that saves us lots of money when we hit the road. Here are some of the things we do that might work for you!

First, we do not overload our camper or our vehicle. In other words, travel light. The heavier your rig, the more gas you burn. Choose clothes, like jeans, that can be worn more than once before you have to wash them. Remember that, along the way, campgrounds have washing machines. Take less clothes.

Consider what your plans are, how much free time you will have and what you want to do during your free time. Take extra things in accordance with your answers. We use to pack tons of junk with us and it, for the most part, remained untouched. We are much wiser now. If you have a reader, like Nook or Kindle, take that and leave your heavy stack of books at home.

Another way that we save weight is through the food we pack. We pack easy meals to help us reach our destination. We do not, however, take along enough food for the entire trip. My husband likes to say, "There are grocery stores everywhere," meaning that we can buy food when we get there.

A second way we save money on food is just that, we shop at local grocery stores for our food way more often than we eat out. It can cost us an easy $20 to eat out. I can feed us four times using that same money. A fun element of this is that I have found new foods that we have never eaten before and, most of the time, they are a great new addition to our regular diet.

Save money by planning ahead. Buy tickets to places you want to go before you get there. They are often cheaper on the Internet, and, unless you travel with a printer or the tickets are phone or tablet friendly, it will be hard to order them once you leave home. It also guarantees that you will get the tickets to see the things you want to see. (We did this when we went to Anaheim and were able to leave the Titanic display and head straight over to the Medieval Times within moments of when we needed to be there because we did not have to wait in line to purchase our tickets.)

Another way to plan ahead is to make a trip map before you leave, with the understanding that it is not carved in stone (unless you have tickets.) Knowing where you are going allows you to check road conditions ahead of time and can also help you create a map to fall back on if your GPS malfunctions. (Or is mine the only one that does that in big cities?)

Fix your vehicle with a device that will charge your camper batteries while you ride down the road. This allows you to spend nights outside of a campground on some nights. I am sure you have already seen some Walmarts that allow overnight camping. (They even publish a map that has the Walmarts listed.) You can also check with churches-especially of your own donomination-to find out if you can sleep in the parking lot or if a member would allow you to spend the night in their driveway for a nominal fee. Farms are another possibility-but always ask first and be courteous. If your batteries are charged, you won't miss the plug-ins for the night.

The best book you can buy for traveling is The Next Exit we discovered this book several years ago and we tell everyone we can about it. It takes you from one side of the states to another on major highways and tells you exactly what is at each exit and if it is N, S, E or W.When you realize you need gas or food or a campground, pull out the book and find out when the next exit that you need is located. It is faster to use than our GPS!                                                                 *

When preparing to go on our latest jaunt, we decided that one way to save money and get great exercise would be to take our bikes along. (Don't you love our fancy rear bike rack?) Taking a bike along allows you to save on both gas and parking lot expenses. In a bigger city, that can be big money! Having your own bike allows you to save money on bike rentals, too! In some bigger cities, like San Antonio and Chicago, you can even take your bike on the city buses.

We have also found that bigger cities are more expensive, so we camp close enough to count but not to close to pay big money. For example, when we wanted to go to San Diego, we stayed in a little town about 15 minutes away. Our costs were almost half of what we would have paid in the city and we still had a great time at the beach.

Groupon actually has a travel site that lists campgrounds as well as other places you might like to visit when you are on vacation. It costs nothing to sign up and who knows how much you may be able to save.

*This is an affiliate link. If you click and buy it, I will make money. Even if you go to Amazon and buy it another way, I hope you will check it out. We are on our fourth copy and always give our old ones away. That is how much we love it-we just can't throw old copies away.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Gluten-free pizza on the cheap!

I have a small freezer that does not have a lot of space in the summer because ice is a necessity! Tonight, for dinner, I decided to do what I could to empty out the freezer-yes, that means I had no plans for supper. After eating, I am so glad that I didn't, because supper was wonderful-and so very inexpensive!

First, I took out a package of frozen gluten-free pizza crusts that I bought at the 99¢ store, bringing the cost of each crust to 50¢ each. Then, I dumped the left over brocolli in my steamer tray, I added a little frozen corn and frozen peas.

While the vegetables were steaming, I put my first pizza crust in a convection oven for 5 minutes. Once it was done, I put it on a plate and put the second crust in the oven.

I added an alfredo sauce-the only gluten-free one I can find. I only used a portion of the jar, so there is some left for other veggie dishes tomorrow. I placed half of the steamed veggies on the pizza and then added half a jar of artichoke hearts-another purchase from the 99¢ store. I finished off the top with left over mild cheddar cheese from a cheese package that I had used for several other dishes.

The second crust was finished cooking. I removed it and replaced the crust with toppings back in the oven for another 3 minutes and repeated the above steps with the second crust.

Here's the bottom line, I made two vegetable pizzas from left-overs and 99¢ store products. The actual cost was less than $4.00 for both of them. The real bottom line, however, came when my husband said, "Make sure you write this recipe down."

Our mothers and grandmothers use to make wonderful meals out of leftovers. It seems like that became out of style with fast food and convenience food. My meal was a combination of convenience food and other foods that I had on hand because I had used part of a package and we both loved it. The more you cook at home, the easier it is to live daily on less.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Messy Scissors Can Be Saved!

Have you ever used your scissors for something that left such a horrible residue you couldn't get it off? Me, too!

I used my scissors to cut duct tape for a project I was working on. I wanted a smoother finish than I was getting tearing the tape. It left a terrible residue. I scraped it off with a knife; I used a scubber with soap and water. I even tried my fingernail. When I was done, I thought I was going to have to throw them out. They were sticky and would not open and close with ease. I was ready to give up. Then I remembered my husband's trick for taking off sticky tags from books and other things. I decided to try it!

I took out the lighter fluid and squirted a little bit on a paper towel. One swipe over the scissor blades and POOF! The residue was gone, gone, gone! I wiped the blade with soap and water just in case trace amounts of the lighter fluid remained. My scissors work perfectly again.

Friday, June 12, 2015

5 Ways to Celebrate Father's Day for Less

I really miss my daddy. He has been gone for years and years now but I still think about him alot, but especially every Father's Day. It just isn't the same! He always appreciated whatever card I gave him or whatever gift he received,  but  but there were some things that would have really meant the world to him- things that would not have cost me much at all in terms of money. There was something special about my dad. He knew how to live life enjoying the simple things.

Sure, you can take your father out to a fancy restaurant and a movie and he will smile and go along, but try these ideas on for size:

1)  Pack a picnic lunch with some of his favorite foods and pack the family up for a trip to the river or lake. Spend the day in nature, fishing with your dad. Leave the cell phones and other electronic devices in the car (or at home) and just spend the day fishing. If you don't fish, take a book along to read as you sit beside your fishing father. A better idea, however, would be to ask your dad to teach you how to fish. You might begin to understand just why he enjoys it so much!

2) Throw a sport's party. I know that the Super Bowl is in February, but, if your dad is a sport's nut, don't forget about all the other sports that are available. Find out what he wants to watch and have a theme party complete with snacks and drinks. Then, sit down and watch the game with him.

3) Give him the week off from his "honey-do list" your mom has for him. Take over all of his chores, doing them with the same finese he would have used. Take out the trash, mow the lawn, sweep the sidewalk-let him make up a list of things for you to do. Then, bring him a great iced drink and let him relax while you take care of everything.

4) Make him a stay-at-home meal with all of his favorite foods. Talk to your mom and surprise him or ask him and let your father direct the menu. Make all of it that you can and buy the rest. Seriously, if he loves cherry pie and you can't roll out pie dough to save your life, let Mrs. Smith make the pie and you can just bake it.

5) Spend the day with him. This is an especially good one if you are too busy to spend much time with him throughout the year. Just take the day out of your busy schedule and talk to him. Ask him about his life before you existed. Get to know your dad better.

If your dad doesn't like fishing or sports, find out what he does like and arrange to do that with him. Take the time to let him know that he is more to you than a hastily purchased card or gift. This is more about letting your dad know he is loved than it is about living daily on less-it's just that, sometimes, the best things in life are free!

If you have an inexpensive day planned with your dad, share it here so others can benefit from your ideas.

Photograph credits:  Fishing by  Steve Hillebrand 
                              Baseball by daytraitors  
                              Yard work by Elizabeth                                                                                                                                     Chinese Food by Kunal Palkar                                                                                                                             Daughter talking to dad by Rhoda Baer


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Making Money with a Credit Card

Credit card companies love to have people use their cards with the best of intentions-paying it off until the end of the month-mostly because the pay-off seldom happens. They will lure you in with the offer of points back for gift cards, payments on the account or cash. If you can be wise and in control-you can win the game.

This is what I do-each quarter, my card offers a 5% rebate on anything I buy at certain stores. One quarter, it was my grocery store. During that quarter, I paid for all of my groceries with my card, but, I only spent what I had budgeted for groceries each time.  As soon as it registered on my card, I paid for it. I use the card for anything that the rebate is for IF that item was already in my budget. I refuse to buy things just to get the rebate; there is no winning when you do that!

I also use my card for anything that is expensive. For example, travel expenses for a trip can reach a couple thousand dollars. I save the money before the trip and then pay off the card from time to time, even while we are traveling. When I need to buy something big for work that I will be reimbursed for, I pay for it with my credit card and turn in the receipt right away. I only do this because I know how fast I will be reimbursed.

To make it easy, think of it this way-the key way to make money with your credit card is to have a budget-a budget you follow. Already having the money makes it easy to pay it off. Don't wait for the end of the month statement. Pay it off as you go. I did that this last year and made an extra $100 for our vacation savings.

Using my credit card wisely is just another way to live daily on less!

Photo credits: Three Credit Cards by Petr Kratochvil  
                             Money by stephenbayer

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Saving Money with Groceries

Eating healthy is hard enough when you can eat anything you want to eat. It gets harder when you have or want to avoid certain things in your diet. For me, I try to eat organic veggies and gluten-free food is a must. I am trying to keep myself on a restrained, don't eat the whole paycheck diet and have been excited with a couple of things I have discovered.

First, the 99 cent store has organic lettuce, just like the local grocery store, only it is about 1/4 the price. Everyone probably already knows that...but, if you check the freezer section, many times you will find Udi's bread-which is definitely gluten-free and, last week, I found Quorn chili-not all of their stuff is gluten-free, but the chili was...and it is delicious! Again, both of these products are 4 to 5 times more expensive in the mainstream stores.

                   (The one in the middle was $1-the one of the left was $5)

We also have what I call a scratch and dent grocery store. The real name is Green Tree, but I keep forgetting that. Anyway, I stopped by, just to see what they had. I came away with Lucy's gluten-free cookies, gluten-free blueberry muffin mix and several cans of organic soups and vegetables. I spent $36 and change and came out with nine bags of groceries.

Finally, our local mainstream grocery store, Fry's (Kroger in the middle of the country) has a markdown section that I check when I am shopping. I have found many gluten-free items there, as well as a few organic items. The deals are great.

Now, this is the best part, if you can eat anything, these stores will stretch your dollar farther than you thought it could be stretched. Many of the items at the Green Tree are priced at $0.50 each. Imagine Wolfgang Puck soup for half a dollar-been there and bought it at that price. Don't be afraid to check out the less than prime time stores for deals on your groceries. You may be amazed at the amount of food you can provide your family on a small grocery budget.