Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My new shopping love - SAVERS!

A new store opened close to where I work called Savers. It is honestly a good mixture between a goodwill and a consignment shop. Why? The store has basically only popular labels - abercrombie, nautica, aero, express to name a few, similar to a consignment shop. However, the prices are more like a goodwill! The best part of Savers - if you donate things, you automatically get a 20% off coupon towards your total purchase! I got a nautica bathing suit for $4! Now, I know, I know, no shopping! It is bad! BUT, if you are going to take a trip to buy new clothes, choose Savers. Good buys, great clothes, good quality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Frugal Dog Treats

We have two dogs - one big and one small. Nevertheless, dog bones are starting to add up! I recently found some good recipes for homemade dog bones. I have not tried them yet, but they do look promising. I have these common ingredients at home, so I thought this would make sense to make them at home while I am cooking all of the time anyways.

Dog Cookies from  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Good-Dog-Cookies/Detail.aspx


2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder 1 egg, beaten 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 cubes beef bouillon cube 3/4 cup boiling water 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Lightly grease one cookie sheet.
Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water and allow to cool.
Combine the flour, dry milk, egg, oil, beef broth and brown sugar. Mix well and knead dough for 1 minute.
On a floured surface roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out bones and place on cookie sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool.

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe from http://www.bullwrinkle.com/Assets/Recipes/Everyday%20Biscuits.htm
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons dry parsley
2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons honey
1 egg
5-6 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in the parsley, garlic, broth, honey, and egg. Gradually blend in flour, adding enough to form a stiff dough.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick. Using small bone-shaped cookie cutters, make biscuits! Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on both sides. Let cool overnight. (After we finish baking all batches of biscuits, we turn off the oven, then spread all the biscuits out on one baking sheet and set them in the oven to cool overnight. The extra time in the oven as it cools off helps make the treats crispier and crunchier.)

Apple Cinnamon Drops from http://www.bullwrinkle.com/Assets/Recipes/Apple%20Cinnamon%20Drops.htm

1 large apple
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/8 cup whole wheat flour


Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).
Core, slice and mince the apple (use a food processor if you have one). In a large bowl, combine the minced apple bits, honey, water, cinnamon, and oatmeal. Gradually blend in the wheat flour, adding enough to form a stiff dough.

In a small bowl, add 1/8 cup wheat flour. Spoon the dough by rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches (5cm) apart. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in the wheat flour (to prevent sticking), flatten each spoonful of dough into a circle. Adjust the size of the drops based on how big a treat you like to feed your dog.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and flip each cookie to brown evenly on both sides. Reduce oven temperature to 325 ° F (180 °C). Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool overnight.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Coupons - deal or no deal?

I was clipping coupons tonight and I have to say, I was unusually disappointed. I only found a few, in the past I would have found a ton. Not that I used all of those, but I  kept them in case I needed something I frequently bought or if there was a good sale (use the coupon with the sale = fantastic deals!). I was talking to my mom and grandmother (coupon experts) and they too felt that coupons are becoming less beneficial than ever before. Oy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shopping in a Smart Way

Last week was February vacation for me. I have to admit I went shopping. BUT, I went to some of the local consignment shops and goodwills. I am all for buying newish things at low, low prices.

 Some of the highlighted buys for me -
BCBG sweater
The limited wrap-around sweater
Abercrombie cords
Banana republic sweater

Overall, I got some good buys! None of the clothes were above $7.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Recycling – Things That Help Me and the Environment

There are a few smart things that I re-use that I want to share. These are frugal and useful to me.

1. TV dinner trays – I clean them out and use them as drawer organizers.

2. Condiment to-go holders – every time I get sides such as salsa or sour cream from restaurants, I always wash and re-use them. They are great for when I have salads for lunch, they hold the exact amount of salad dressing I need.

3. Plastic to-go containers – some of the restaurants actually use plastic containers to send meals home. I clean it out and use it again.

4. Egg containers – these are versatile. You can use them to organize drawers, jewelry, or sewing materials.

5. Plastic containers (such as large coffee containers or cat litter containers) – these are great for a lot of different things. Sometimes I use them to organize things in my office or odds and ends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good Read - The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey was a good read.

I like to read a good book relating money, finances, frugality at least once a month. I have found that it helps me stay on track with saving money and not over-indulging.

His book really helped me to think about debt. We all have some form - whether it is college loans, mortgage, or car loans. Nevertheless, he speaks about reducing debt as quickly as you can. Now, that sounds easier said than done, but he spoke about a couple of things that hit close to home. The first is 'stuffits', which is basically means buying and wanting stuff. The end product of ‘stuffits’ is basically that, too much stuff that means nothing to you. I do this all the time, I will be out shopping and have to have that purse or picture frame. The bottom line is - that is where savings/paying down debt is broken down. Second, I know so many people who NEED to have the best of things - stereo equipment, new cars, and the best clothes. Again, that impacts your bottom line - saving and paying down debt.

The book really helped me see that I would have a sense of personal peace, the less debt I have. Most people want this, but don't have this motto. My goal for 2010 has been to save money - the book helped me remember this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do you sew?

I do! What a great way to fix or repair things that might otherwise be thrown in the trash. I learned when I was a little girl in 4H. But it can be an easy self-taught hobby that can save you money here and there. I lost count on the number of times me and my husband had buttons fall off our shirts. My dogs are so rough on their toys, I am constantly repairing them. Sewing is definitely a skill that remains essential - as far as I am concerned.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A good pick - mypoints

Have you ever heard of mypoints? It is probably one of my best frugal secrets. The website allows you to become a member. You will receive emails daily from them. Each time you do a 'click-through' you earn 5 points. The website monitors the amount of 'click-throughs' you have done. You can also go to the website and click on thousands of participating companies (wal-mart, omaha steaks, etc, etc). If you make a purchase with any participating vendor, you will also receive points. Most vendors credit you anywhere from 2-10 points per dollar that will be added to your existing amount of points.

The reason I like mypoints is because once you have accumulated points, you can redeem them for gift cards. There are thousands of gift cards to choose from. Gift cards vary depending on the participating vendor, but the more points you have, the higher the value of the gift card.

It has been one of the things I have done to save on purchases and gifts for people for about 3 years :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eating at home - two weeks later

Two weeks ago, I created a post regarding the freezer challenge. It has worked out really well. I have really cleaned up my pantry and freezer by doing this and saved money. There were so many things in my freezer that needed to be used, not wasted. I created some great main and side dishes with leftover frozen veggies and chicken. I also had a ton of canned veggies and fruits, which I was able to use up. The best part was that I saved on going out to eat a couple of times and skipped an entire week of grocery shopping.

I saved approximately $40-$50 on a week of groceries + 2 times not going out to eat approximately $70 = $110/$120! Pretty good for two weeks, imagine if I did this once a month!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beauty, the Natural Way

I have been using some natural, yet frugal home recipes for my skin and hair for a while. What a great way to save money and reduce the use of chemicals that are found in many products. I want to share some of my  oldies, but goodies, and some of the my newly located recipes for you.

1. Sugar and face wash - I combine my existing face wash with sugar for a natural way to exfoliate my skin.
2. Salt and body wash - I combine my existing body wash (liquid) with salt and it works great to exfoliate my flaky skin.

3. Yogurt (plain) and honey mask - use approximately a tablespoon each and apply to face, leave on for 10-15 minutes.

4. Mayonnaise + (with or without) avocado - mix approximately 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and (1) mashed avocado and leave in for approximately 10-20 minutes and shampoo.

5. Apple cider vinegar - I have never used, but it is supposed to be good for adding softness to hair and ridding impurities.

6. Oil hair treatment - I have never used this, but it looks promising. Allow 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of water to boil. After, cooling down to a safe temperature, apply to hair and leave on for 30 minutes with a hair cap. Shampoo after.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What a busy, bad month :(

I have been trying to blog as much as possible this month. There have been a few bumps in my road  :(  Here is how my January  has been (and honestly, I think this has been one of the worst few weeks I have had in a long while). Here is goes: I have been in a car accident, my dog needed emergency surgery ($1,000 later), we had to buy a new car (separate from the accident - my husband's car is slowly dying) + the new insurance deposit, yada, yada, yada.  All I have to think about it is that February WILL be better, (I hope :)  ) .

I just had to vent - Arg! I hope it gets better...I want to start saving so much more!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Favorite Pantry Staples

I was thinking about the most important non-perishable staples that I have in my pantry and what I could not live without! Here's my list:

1. Black beans/other types of beans
2. Spaghetti sauce
3. Canned soup
4. Tuna
5. Pasta (multiple kinds)
6. Rice
7. Yeast
8. Brother (for me, chicken)
9. Dried fruits (for snacking)
10. Canned whole (new) potatoes (side dishes, potato salad for emergencies, add to soups)

Here is the list - some of them are so obvious and I really don't need to explain. Some of the others have explanations. These save me so much money because I can whip up a meal easily and cheaply. All of the items are inexpensive and can turn an unplanned dinner night into a winner!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eat at home - part 2!

I have been trying the freezer challenge! It has been working out great! I have been using everything from the freezer, fridge, and pantry and it has saved us a lot of money. I was able to skip an entire week of grocery shopping. I couldn't believe how many cans of veggies and frozen food I was able to use up!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eat at Home!

I have really started thinking about eating at home and I was inspired after reading this blog: http://eatathomecooks.com/2009/05/how-to-find-money-in-your-freezerpantry-join-the-challenge.html.

The freezer challenge basically reminds you that you have a ton of food that is hiding all over your kitchen. The blog inspires you to take the challenge and see what you can find to make meals instead of running to the grocery store. I do this all of the time. I think I have to go once a week to buy groceries. When I started looking in my pantry and freezer, I quickly realized I easily have enough groceries to last two weeks worth of meals! Why run to the store when you have so much you aren’t even using? These are going to be two busy weeks!

I will keep you posted!

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Crystal Ball - Clothes Swap Party

I can see into my future ... I am seeing something totally fun, different, and girly!

I have recently started thinking about how many clothes and other things I have in my home that I don’t use. What a waste. Some of the things are brand new and I don’t feel like wearing it or using it.

I had read that many people throw clothes swap parties. I love a good party, especially when I am getting rid of a few things and gaining things I hope to use. My plan is to have this party when it gets a little warmer, say April or March. I want to invite approximately 15 people so that there are a good variety of items to choose from. People will be asked to bring 3 to 5 items (clothes, shoes, house decorations, purses, etc). I am going to serve things like appetizers and drinks. I am so excited to really start planning the specific details in the upcoming months and most important, share how it went on my blog!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Eating out – good, bad, or just okay?

Like most people, we love to go out to eat a couple times a week. I realize that is so expensive and I can save a lot more money by cooking in. I keep thinking lately, is it that good, bad or just okay?

I think there are a few pros to going out to eat and I want to share them because life would be boring if you never went out. The first, you (are hopefully) exploring new restaurants, foods, people, etc. Sometimes by going out to eat, it will inspire you to actually try to emulate the recipe at home. Second, unless you are Julia Child, cooking can just be a pain. It is nice to take a break and let someone serve you! Last, if you are smart about going out to eat, the price may not be that much higher than cooking at home. What do I mean? There are several websites that offer steep discounts on dining out. There are often coupons in the Sunday paper that help defray the cost of going out at particular restaurants.

There are some major cons to going out to eat. The biggest one is obviously pouring money into an establishment instead of your bank account. Second, you get to stay at home, cook in your pjs if you wish and relax. Third, you don’t have to pay for gas to drive there, thus reducing the mileage on your vehicle. Last, you probably have a pantry full, refrigerator full, and a freezer full of perfectly good food – don’t waste it, use it!

So, is eating out good, bad, or just okay? My vote is just okay. There are pros and cons that are important to consider, but face it, eating out is just plain okay sometimes :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Price Rite is a Winner in My Book

Grocery shopping has gotten a little easier since Price Rite came to town. I was skeptical at first. But I always want to save more money on food, so I tried it. Now, it is on the top of the list for groceries. Why? Most groceries are at least half off! And, many of the name brands I love are there, like Kaishi, kellogs, etc.

They don’t take coupons – bummer. However, the prices are still cheaper on most things than with a coupon at the average grocery store. You have to bring your own bags, go green! They only take cash, debit, or check – no credit. These little cut corners equate to consumer savings and that is fine in my book.

This week I was able to buy eggs for 99 cents, kashi bars for $2, purdue chicken for $2/lb, and a loaf of bread for 79 cents.

What are your thoughts on Price Rite?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Frugal Cooking

I am trying to cook more at home with cheaper ingredients. Cooking/baking is slowly becoming something I really do enjoy. I think it is fun to make new recipes that my family enjoys. It saves me money by not going out to eat too. I often cook from scratch with regards to many recipes like cookies, cakes, muffins etc. Pre-mix boxes are often steeply priced unless you can hit a good sale on those goods. I often use my many cookbooks my mom supplied me with to make my own version of things. They usually come out better than pre-mixes.

When I have to buy sugar, flour, and other basic cooking supplies, I always buy generic! Why? As far as I am concerned, the name brand and the generic brand taste exactly the same and the price difference shows!

If my cookbooks don’t have a good recipe, I often go to google.com to find a better recipe. On a similar note, you could just type in a search for frugal recipes to see what you find.

Anyone have a yummy frugal recipe?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Art of the Smart Cookies

One of the inspirations for getting back into my abandoned blog came from the book “Smart Cookies”. A few times a year, I start thinking about how I need to save more money, how I shouldn’t waste my money away on frivolous lunches, dinners, and drinks out, etc, etc, etc. I then end up at my local library. Why? I use my FREE library card to take out books about saving money for inspiration and to re-focus my life.

I came across “Smart Cookies”, which inspired me to take a more ‘doable’ approach to finances. It was actually a breath of fresh air. Although I would love to save every dime I earn other than what is used for bills, it just isn’t practical. Sure, I could save money by cutting out our cable bill, never ever going out to eat again, but that just isn’t practical. I realized moderation is key – cut down on going out to eat or have drinks at home. That is more like it!

The book highlighted –wants versus needs. Do I really need another pair of black boots? Do I really have to eat Thai twice in one week? No, not really, but I want to. That is the key. But that extra $10, $20, $50 dollars that you used to buy yet another pair of black boots could have gone straight into the bank to go towards savings.

This is a book that I will keep on my list for referencing and to remain focused and inspired!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New years resolution for real this time!

I cannot believe I haven't posted in a year! Tisk, tisk! Unfortunately, with a new marriage, two new dogs, a new house, and a sixth year degree this took a little hiatus.

OK - people make and break resolutions the week after the new year has started (OK, most do). I have made a few this year. Here they are:
1. Blog, blog, blog! (I will share more about why in a minute)
2. Save, save, save (money that is)
3. Learn Spanish

These three are great resolutions because they are tied to overall self-improvement. You are probably wondering how Goal #1 above is tied to self-improvement. Well, by blogging I am hoping to learn and grow as a 'sensibly frugal' individual. By doing goal #1, the theory is that goal #2 will also occur.

By learning through various sources such as books and the Internet, I hope to share with my readers what I have learned and how I am applying it to my life. Here is to a new year, new decade, and self-improvement.