Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do the words actually sink in?

Ive gone over this a million times with my children. But you know how they are, they have to figure it out themselves. When my husband and I first started dating, we really didn't have that much money. And you know what that means? Hamburger Helper and Mac n Cheese. Not the most healthy but it was what we could afford. Then we cut out all red meat and started using ground turkey. As we started making more money, had our children, etc. We decided that it was time to cook more at home and less out. Mostly so our kids would grow up eating healthy and get a better start. But the difference was, we taught our children why and how to eat healthy. From when it goes into your body, what happens. To what vitamins are in what. Sometimes you say things to them, but are not sure if it actually sinks in.
But there's hope. My daughters don't like a lot of sweet stuff. If they do get sweet stuff from family or friends, they sometimes get stomach aches if they eat too much. They don't like fast food or processed food. I think all the words we said actually sunk in. Yippee! So all those hours of cooking whole chickens, peeling potatoes, growing our garden, and going to the market actually did some good. And they love helping me make dinner.
So some advise. Start early. They are never too young to teach healthy cooking. My twins are already asking me about how healthy things are. If your kids are older, there still is hope. You can still make their favorite things but healthier. . You don't have to turn into health nuts, their poor bodies will go into shock. Not really but you get the idea. Little steps make big impacts. Here are a few tips that really helped us get started.

1. No soda. This was the hardest for me. I craved it. But you will survive without it.
2. Less sugar. Crystal Light is a great start. So yummy. When baking use 1/2 apple sauce and 1/2 sugar. Stop buying candy. Replace half sugar cereal with Cheerios's. Use more fruit.
3. Whole Wheat-noodles, bread, crackers, pretty much everything. You not only will be getting healthier but will stay full longer. Regular noodles seem slimy to me now. Use whole wheat flour only. There is no difference in taste, just looks different.
4. Better Meat-Buy meat with less fat. Chicken, turkey, and fish are great. I pretty much only eat white meat. I take the time to cut as much fat and skin off as possible. Plus I bake my meat a lot so its really juicy. You can be on a budget and still get good meat. Chicken is super budget friendly right now. Value Grill packs and whole chickens are almost always on sale now for $1 or less a pound.
5. Stop buying processed foods. No Velveeta cheese, no powdered gravy, no precooked anything. Learn how to make gravy, use regular cheese, and just try to do things yourself. not only does this save you money but its way more healthier.
6. Bake. There are super easy things to bake. Throw in some shredded veggies and they would never know. Zucchini and carrot are great for this. There are tons of recipes out there using vegetable puree and they wouldn't even taste it. Let the kids help and I promise they will eat it. I even take another step and add flax seed. I add it to anything I bake. Can be bought in bulk too.
7. No fast food. Or as less as possible. There are times when you have to do it but be smart about it. My kids do not like fast food. They would much rather go home and request mac n cheese that I make. Don't get me wrong, they love pizza. Pizza is in a whole different category. But you can make pizza too...See get the idea?
8. Produce as snacks. Apple sauce all natural, cut up apples, carrots, red bell peppers, and even celery with peanut butter. When in season, my girls love lemon cucumbers. Its like apples to them.
9. Choice's-how about a fruit smoothie instead of chocolate syrup in milk? Just need milk and frozen fruit. How about crackers and peanut butter instead of chips? Or better yet buy apple chips.
10. Fresh is best. But frozen will do. I try to use fresh items as much as possible. If something fresh is on sale, I will buy a ton and freeze it. Like red bell peppers are 4/$1 now. I bought 8, cut slice up 6 of them and put on a cookie sheet and froze them. 2 are for meals for the next few days. Then once frozen, throw in a freezer bag and they wont stick together. I do this to all fruit and veggies. Makes my buck go a long way.
11. HAVE FUN with it. Its a learning process. Make it a game with the kids. It will work.
The thought of any fast food, processed food (hot dogs, Bologna, etc) just makes me sick to my stomach. I would much rather go home and find some good stuff. And if you ask my kids, they would say the same. Unless it involves pizza. All rules are out the window. LOL! So yes, their is hope, and your kids will eat healthy. There are ways around it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Easy ways to live greener and save you $$$

Here are a few ways that I save money on a regular basis. Ive been doing this for years so its second nature for me.
1. Hang dry all towels, wash clothes, or just about anything easy to hang dry. Polyesters are fast drying. This saves me 192 loads a year.
2. Make my own laundry soap. This is SUPER economical. Ends up only costing me 1 penny per load when I make my own. And I only have to make it once every 3 months or so. Regular soap would cost you anywhere between 14-20 cents per load.
3. Use Eco-friendly products. Seventh Generation is my favorite. I wait till it goes on sale and use my coupons. So I'm paying half price usually.
4. Buy in bulk. No packaging which is saving tree's and saving you money.
5. Stop buying bottled water. We didn't buy a whole lot but it still have saved us money. Most newer fridge's have a filter system so just use that water and a reusable container(look for #2 on bottom its the safest plastic)
6. Coupons coupons coupons. Most Eco friendly products are starting to give out coupons. Yippee! If you love a particular item, just email the company direct and 9 times out of 10 they will send you coupons. Most the time you can just sign up on their site and they send you some.
7. Buy used. We buy 95% of our everyday home/clothing items from goodwill/thrift stores/yard sales. I would rather save something from going in the landfill than buy a new one. Undies, bra's and socks are new but that's it. Its not only recycling, but its WAY less expensive. I find all the popular brands my kids want and all the ones I like too. You would be surprised what people get rid of.
8. Walk walk walk-I walk or jog 3 times a week to the store, park, or where ever. I have a jogging stroller that has a big compartment in the back so I just put food back there. This saves me money, gas, and the earth doesn't get my gas fumes. Plus gets me exercise.
9. Plant a garden. Easy to do. You end up paying pennies for produce when you grow it yourself
10. Can or freeze-I canned green beans this year. No I didn't grow the beans but I bought them when they were in season so they were cheap. I did end up forking over money for the pot and jars but over time this will pay for itself.
11. Buy recycled items. Recycled packaging. Recycled paper products. Stop cutting down tree's and just reuse the paper we have. Either buy stuff with no packaging or buy items that have recycled packaging. Support the companies that are willing to pay more to better this earth.
12. Reuse-we reuse paper bags for recycling stuff in our home. We reuse lunch meat containers for left overs. We reuse single serving apple sauce containers for ice cream, yogurt, etc. Old shirts we give my oldest daughter so she can make quilts for her barbies. Think how you can reuse something before you throw it away.
13. Reduce-Don't turn on lights until it gets dark. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Use half the recommended amount of laundry soap, are you really that dirty? Stop drinking soda or at least half the amount. Yes you will get over it, I did. Make your own coffee. I know crazy huh? Only go out 2 times a month instead of every week. Stop getting all those extra channels on your TV. Little things like that add up to hundreds by the end of the year. Just reduce little by little.
14. Recycle-recycle as much as you can. Then you can get a small trash can and that will save you money. You will stop putting things in the landfill too.
15. Last but not least, think. Think how our actions will impact our children's lives. How will they live after were gone? How will their environment be? If we do something now, we just might be able to fix the problems we have caused.

Free things to do in Portland Oregon

You dont have to spend a pretty penny to have a fun filled day with the family. Take advantage of this nice wonderful weekend coming up. Pack a lunch and check out one of these local places.

Portland Green Walks
Learn about Portland's history through its parks and plants. Families meet up with PP&R staff and volunteers for guided green tours of parks, gardens, and natural areas throughout town.
Walks take place on Saturday mornings, 10:00-11:00am. Ages: All agesOutDoorFree!
For more info, call 503-823-3601.

Free Day at the Rhododendron Garden The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is free to visit every Tuesday and Wednesday! Kids will enjoy feeding the Garden's many ducks, geese and squirrels (whole corn kernels and grains only, please!), while the green thumbs in the family take in the Garden's lush scenery. This public park covers over nine acres and offers disabled access, a public restroom, a fountain, paved and unpaved paths, and occasional guided tours.
3/1/2007 - 12/30/2008Open daily, dawn to dusk.Ages: All agesOutDoorFree today!
Crystal Springs Rhododendron GardenSE 28th Ave. & Woodstock Blvd.Portland, 503-771-8386

Vintage Trolley Rides
Kids and adults alike love the old-style Vintage Trolley cars, and they're free! You don't need a place to go to ride the trolley. Just hop on and see where it takes you. Year-round you can ride on Saturdays and Sundays along the Portland Streetcar route between Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Portland and Portland State University following the regular Streetcar schedule. March through December you can also ride the Vintage Trolley on Sundays along the MAX line between Lloyd Center and SW 11th Avenue. You know the kids will love this one!

Saturday Market
Beginning the first weekend in March through Christmas Eve, every weekend in Portland will include the fun-filled Saturday Market. Arts & crafts, unique items, musicians, international food court & more for the entire family to enjoy. Ive been going to this market for years now. One reccomendation is a good stroller thats easy to push in many directions. It can get pretty crowded. Also bring some change for the kids to give to entertainers. There are almost always neat, funny, wild, and crazy people doing everything you can think of just for some change. Its a fun way for the kids to watch people being creative and also they just love throwing the change in the hats. I would also highly reccomend bringing your own lunch. When you have kids, the money can really add up. Plan to buy 1 item from the dozens of booths. There are tons of local artist and you can really get a good deal. This is a really fun market for kids.
Burnside Bridge SW 1st Ave.Portland, OR 97209Market Information (503)

Multnomah Falls
This is Oregons #1 tourist attration. And it is family friendly. Pack a lunch and dont forget to take your camera. Parking is the only problem I can think of. You do sometimes have to wait a few minutes to find a spot. I reccomend using a narrow stroller. There is a gift shop and eating area easy for you to regroup. The trail is pretty, narrow, and curvy. Once you get to the bridge, its so beautiful. Take lots of pictures. The next part of the leg is only for those who like adventure. We went here earlier this summer and yes we brought our kids. The older girls walked with no problem on their own. My twins were an issue. We had a side by side bike stroller (easy to push) but the path is so narrow that sometimes we had to stop and let people pass us. We only made it 80% of the way due to exaustion. Pushing the twins up those crazy pathways pushed us to the limit. Great exercise for the kids. Plus the kids could see our van from the trail. They were so excited because our van looked like a small dot because we were so high up. This is another reccomended attraction.
50000 Historic Columbia River HighwayBridal Veil, OR 503-695-2376

Grant Park & Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden
Grant Park has sports fields and game courts, a playground, picnic tables, a wading pool and an outdoor swimming pool, restrooms, and walking paths. Grant Park also boasts the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden for Children. These statues immortalize Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Henry's dog Ribsy, characters from Beverly Cleary's beloved children's books.
NE 33 & US Grant PlacePortland, Oregon 97212Grant Park 503-823-PLAY
Were planning on going to this one soon. My kids just love the Beverly Cleary's books.

Forest Park
With more than 5,000 acres to explore, Forest Park is the largest city park in the United States. There are 50 miles of trails and 30 miles of gated roadways for mountain biking. Visit Forest Park for a run, hike, bike ride, or horseback ride. Because the park is so large, there are many entrance points. Volenteers are there during the day pulling ivy off of tree's so you might even be able to watch them.
NW 29th Ave & Upshur St to Newberry Rd Hwy 26 many signs pointing where to go.

International Rose Test Garden
Portland's International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official, continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. Portland is the only North American city that can issue its awards to roses of merit throughout the world." This place is very kid friendly. Has lots of flowers to look and smell plus lots of bugs to discover. And its also a very romantic spot too. Bring your camera to take pictures of the Portland Landscape. We love driving around the neighborhood around the test garden too. Beautiful house's are everywhere lining the small winding roads. I would pack a lunch, and bring a blanket to have lunch on.
400 SW KingstonPortland, OR(503) 823-3636 up the street from Oregon Zoo

Pioneer Courthouse Square
Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square is affectionately known as the City's "living room." With more than 26,000 people passing by the Square each day, and thousands more visiting the Square directly, it is the single most visited site in Oregon's most visited city.The Square is one of Portland's leading outdoor venues, hosting over 300 events each year that range from large-scale concerts to cultural festivals. The Square is a true symbol of Portland with its bricks symbolizing the people that make Portland such an extraordinary city. From the sculpture of a man offering his umbrells, to the theater showcasing Portland's history, to the broze chessboards, and dont forget to find all those historic tiles. Kids will love the Echo Chamber. Just stand on the round marble stone in the center of the small amphitheater, face the steps and speak. You will be amazed at what you hear. Have fun with the kids looking at all the famous named bricks. Everyone from Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Dan Rather, Sherlock Holmes, George Washington, and even Mr. Bill. And dont forget to let the kids watch the water fall. The waterfall cascades down a series of large granite blocks into a reflecting pool below. The fountain serves as the major entry into the Visitor Information Center. You can easily get to this by taking the max. Saves you on gas and money. Another reccomended place. located in the heart of downtown Portland at 701 SW 6th Avenue bordered by SW Yamhill, SW Morrison and SW Broadway.

These are just a few things to do in Portland. I will be following this later with more free things to do. From hiking, to many other things. Check back soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seventh Generation Reviews

Rating is a 1-5 basis. 1 meaning lowest rating, 5 meaning highest rating

I have not tried all the Seventh Generation products but have tried most. Here are 4 of them that I tried this week. These have all been used by my family. This includes my 3 yr old twins, and older girls.

Seventh Generation Tall Kitchen Bags30 2-ply bags w/ties
I paid around $4 for this box, thats 50% more than most bags. I usualy will get whats cheapest but this time I wanted to be more Eco Friendly. I must say that these bags are super heavy duty. No rips or tears occured while using or pulling out to throw in the trash bin. There is a minimum total recycled content which is 55 % .Post-consumer content is 16% which isnt much but WAY better than anything else ive seen. Packaging is 100% recycled paper.

I rate this a 4 stars. Would of gave it a 5 if it was more economical. Its just too pricey for me to pay full price. I will switch on and off with my regular bags. Still helping the environment a little bit.

Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid Lemongrass & Clementine Zest 25 oz. Non toxic, biodegradable and hypo-allergenic. Ive been using this item for a year or so now. I see no differance between this and any other soap except that this is much more earth friendly and safe for your family. Smells really nice but not overwhelming. Made from coconut based surfactants , whole and natural plant essences and natural oils. Bottle is 25% post consumer recycled plastic. And is not tested on animals. Ive tried the lavender as well but I prefer this scent.
I paid a little over $1 for this. They were on sale at Fred meyers for $2.49(usually $3.49) and I had $1 off coupon that the website sent me. Costing me only $1.49. Just about the same price as other name brands. I wait for these kids of sales and stock up.

I rate this 5 stars Great price great product

Seventh Generation Natural Fabric Softner
Blue Eucalyptus & lavender 40 fl oz 40 loads
I was a big fan of liquid softners for a long time. I had to stop using due to 2 of my daughters having excema and allergic to all dyes and perfumes. I recently found this item again at Fred Meyers. So I was thrilled when I found this. Its in a great small package which is 25% post consumer recycled. Its also non-toxic, biodegradable, and hypo-allergenic. Has no optical brighteners, no petroleum based cleaners, no animal tallow derivatives, no testing on animals and is safe for septic and grey water systems. I have used this all week and love it. I would prefer a stronger smell but will take what I can get. It makes our clothes soft and no static what so ever. Again I bought this on sale for $3.99(usually $4.99) and had a $1 off coupon so I only spend $2.99 for it.
Rate this 5 stars. Great price, great product.

Seventh Generation Toilet Paper 4 roll per package
Seventh Generation Paper Towels are made from 100% recycled paper, with a minimum of 80% post-consumer content.Natural color paper towels are unbleached.White paper towels are whitened without chemicals containing chlorine. No added dyes and fragrances ,Safe for septic systems ,Ideal for low-flow toilets. Again no differance except that its eco friendly. Worked wonderful. Not too thin and not too thick. Again I bought this on sale for $1.99(regular $2.99) and had a $1 off coupon. I paid only 99 cents. Great deal!
Rate this 5 stars. Great price for a great product.

PLASTIC save money, stop putting chemicals into your body and landfills

Recently ive stopped using plastic ziplock bags. You dont really think about how many bags you use when you pack your childrens lunch's. I have to pack 2 lunch's per day. Usually there are 3 per lunch. Thats 6 per day, 30 per week, 120 per month, and 1,440 per year. Everyone of these end up in a landfill. That made me sick to think that JUST my family puts that many in a landfill to sit for thousands of years. So here's what ive started doing.

Use reusable plastic containers. Remember my Tupperware addiction? Yeah! I can use them. So I pack everything in reusable containers now.

Recently ive discovered that any plastic with the number 7 on the bottom has possible chemicals(bpa) slowly leaking into your food or drink over years. There has been recent research to follow up these claims as well. So I dug out our reusable plastic gerber juice containers that we use everyday for their juice and guess what? Yep, #7. I felt sick again. So I tossed those out. Im on the hunt for differant juice containers now. For now we are using small disposable water containers I recently was able to get free. These are #1 which is okay for a while but easily holds bacteria and smells. So they will due until I get something better. They say #2 is the safest plastic.
This is a link to information about each number you find on the bottom of plastic

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great Christmas Gift

Here's a link for free Maxim Magazine. All you need to do is review a razor you like very much. Super easy to fill out.
Plus once you fill it out, there's another option for reivewing a favorite aftershave and you get the magazine Blender for free as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Versatile Mexican Rice Dish

For those who know me, I try to stretch my money as far as it will go. I try to make meals that will be enough to feed all 6 of us, and a few lunch's for my husband. Well this meal (recipe below) is really filling, healthy, and usually will have left overs for my husband to take to work for a few days. This can be eaten many ways. Usually when we get paid, we will eat this in tortilla's with veggies to top. But when money is tight, its eaten alone with cheese on top. Sometimes over lettuce as a Mexican salad or even topped with broken or stale tortilla chips I've saved up. You can even use it with chicken broth to make a Mexican soup.

Mexican Rice Dish (main)
3 cups of brown rice (can use white but doesn't keep you full as much)
1/2 ground turkey (you can use any meat)
2 cups pinto beans( you can use any bean)
2 cups frozen bell pepper mix with onion (you can use fresh but its more expensive & honestly doesn't taste as good)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp of chili pepper
1 tbsp of ground cumin
1 tbsp of paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup water

Cook rice accordingly. I use a rice cooker so while its cooking I cook up the meat etc. Brown ground meat and set aside. Cook bell pepper mix and garlic. Throw your meat back in and add spices with water. Stir up and wait for rice to finish cooking.
Once finished add rice to your meat veggies mix. Let cook until juice's are gone and absorbed into rice.
This meal goes a long way. My kids LOVE this and would eat it everyday if I let them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Store Bought Roasted Chicken VS Roast your own Plus 3 Meal Ideas

I hear a lot from friends how buying whole roasted chickens for around $5 can be stretched for 2-3 meals. This is totally true but I wanted to give you a different option. Keep an eye out for whole chickens in your meat section on sale. I will buy only if its around $1 sale.

So here are three dinner idea's out of your 1 chicken.

1. Thaw out, and bake according to directions. When done, there is enough white meat for the 6 of us. My kids aren't big eaters so it goes a long way with us. Otherwise you can shred the chicken and use it in a gravy over potatoes or even have fajitas.

2. Pull the left over white and dark meat off and use in pasta, or even salad's. You can just put it in a bag and freeze it or use it the next day.

3. Put bones in a big pot with a lot of water and boil. I throw in celery and onions for extra flavor. I prefer not to put in the chicken skin, it will break down and you will have to skim the fat off later. Once boiled for about 20-30 minutes, let cool. You can put in freezer containers for later use at this point but I prefer to put the pot in the fridge and take out later. The fat will harden at the top and you can easily take it out. This way its 99% fat free. You can use this broth for soups, gravy, and even rice dishes. You won't miss lack of meat with all that flavor promise!

You can get many many meals out of this.
There you go, 3 ways to use your oven roasted chicken. I hope Ive inspired you.

Money Break Down

Store bought-usually $5-$6 each and usually around 3 lbs
Roast your own-$4 or so
Small savings but well worth it

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Support for moms

Im sure everyone could use some support. Even the most secure person needs advisee so with that in mind, I came up with these free online places where thousands of moms and dads go for advise. So check them out, play around, and keep an open mind. Ive been a member for a year now and love this site. Their are thousands of groups, and im sure one just for you. I found this site helpful when it came to finding parents like myself who have children with excema. When doctors couldnt tell me what was causing it, I found other parents who have lots of info and insight. I now know whats causing it and its almost completely gone. This is my all time favorite site. Not a member but looks alot like cafemom and even has links to cafe mom on it. Worth looking around. Seems to be about you as a mom and children secondary. Pretty large site and has lots of sponcers. Everything from coupons, freebies, beauty, go green, health, and pregnancy and parenting. Kinda like myspace for moms. Creat personal pages to share with friends, ask and answer questions. Plus you can hear moms from your area. Smaller site but seems pretty informative. Connecting learning and sharing. You can get answers, check out groups, lots of activities, classifieds, look at reviews, recipe's, blogs, look at photo's, look up resources, and even shop. Pretty cool site. Where parents share. Its similar to cafe mom but on a smaller scale. You can become part of a group, search for groups, discuss and share idea's. Worth a peak.

If you have any great sites you love, comment me

Monday, September 8, 2008

Money Saving School Tips

I know I'm a little late on talking about saving money on school, but I just started this blog and the tips can be used all year long. My school shopping starts the last day of school. Yes, its early but its the only way I can afford to get things. Little by little.

I have 2 options where I live to buy things new for school. Walmart and Fred Meyers. Both of which I cannot afford to pay full price. I'm usually at both places about once a week, just to keep up on their markdowns. I go to the bread store every week and Fred Meyers is across the street so its handy for me. I hit up every mark down section in each store. Every few weeks they mark down their stuff even more. Walmart will finally mark down things to $1 each. That's great for my budget. I can get shirts for my daughters, socks, undies, etc. The thing I find hard to get in the markdown section is jeans. I almost never find them for cheap.

Fred Meyers will have a sale the week before school starts and it will usually be 60% off the lowest marked price on clearance. This includes shoe's, clothes, and pretty much everything. I try to get their shoe's at this time. They have great brands like Converse, Nike, etc. Good shoe's that wont fall apart. I pick them over the Walmart fall apart (what we call them). But be aware that its packed and try not to bring small children if you can. It can get very overwhelming and stressful. Just bring the ones that have school and you need them to try on stuff. And have fun searching for good stuff.

Another option is thrift stores. Some people get weirded out by thrift stores but I grew up with them, and so have my children. We wash everything when we get home and set aside for school. You would be surprised whats at these places. This year I decided to use the same back packs from last year since they still looked brand new. I bought them from Gap for a really good sale price. Worth the money, they are made really good and sturdy. One was a messenger bag and the other is a back pack. Well my middle daughter wanted a messenger bag because the big kids use them. I found a Gap messenger bag at Goodwill and only paid about $1 for it. She was so happy. We find our winter coats this way, sweaters, and pretty much anything you can think of this way. I can afford name brands for them and not be broke. Most items are things kids never wore that their parents spent way too much money on. Their loss, my gain. Kids will never know these things are used and my kids can be super cool just like everyone else. My girls are so skinny that they can only wear certain brands that are way too much money for me to buy. So this is another plus for us. If you have a Goodwill outlet, shop there first. Everything is by pound so the more you buy, the less it is. Take a friend and split up the weight too. If you buy 50lbs or more you get it for only 69 cents per pound. That's super cheap. Shirts are only 10 cents, jeans are 30 cents about, etc. Plus the more friends you have, the more coverage you have in the store. We split up and meet every 20 minutes to swap what we found for them and what they found for you. Check their website to find a store near you.

Another place to find stuff is at garage sales. I find shoe's, shirts and pants for as little as 10 cents. Again, way worth the money. And if you take a bike ride with a backpack, no gas money involved. Really saving you money this way! Plus you can talk people down a bit if you want. I usually don't, most are just happy to get their stuff out of their house. Another good way to get stuff for your home this way. I have this addiction to old retro Tupperware. Its sad but true.

Hope this is helpful and you can still save money this way. There are lots of garage sales still going on. People are making room for their new stuff so hit up garage sales. Have fun!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

You really can save money quick 5-Steps

So Ive talked about how to save money, even pennies at a time. Never really talked exactly how you can so here you go. This is a short term way of saving. By doing frugal things like I do on a daily basis, you can save slowly. You don't really see the savings until you look at your account later and see that you still actually have left over money. Its so fun to see that. Well here are a few steps in saving money more quickly.

Pick a goal
You need to have a specific, realistic and measurable goal in mind. Something like "I'm gonna save $200 in five months." This can be pretty easy to do. Transfer $10 a week into a savings account. If that's too much, cut that in half. Many experts say you need to have a stash just for emergencies. This would of came in handy when our vet bill came up last week. My lesson learned. I will be starting a plan along with you to save money. We can do this together.
Need some motivation. Try to hang a picture of the item your trying to save for. Or maybe just works like "penny by penny you will get there" or "$200 isn't that far away". Something along those lines. You would be amazed how much more you will think about saving money just by reminding yourself.

Go for it!
This might not be something you will want to hear, its not something I want to hear but its needed. You need to pay yourself first. Before you pay your bills, food, anything. You need to put aside how much exactly you put a goal for every week. Put it away, out of sight and out of mind. That way you wont have any excuse not to put any money away. Its all done and you can think about other things.

Watch and have fun
Once you start stashing your money, its fun to watch it grow. I would recommend getting a savings account or setting up a certain account for this. You can check online, or go to the bank. Its just fun to see how little by little you saved money.

Easy and immediate ways to save money
1. Sell it! Ebay, Craigs List, Freecycle, Garage Sale-Go through every single inch of your home. If you ha vent touched it in months, changes are your not going to. Remember : One mans junk is another mans treasure. Have a garage sale. If you don't think you have enough for your own, ask the neighbors, friends and family. If you get enough people you can make signs for Multifamily Garage Sale. People will flock in to rummage through your junk. Try online sales. If its something rare, worth money, or something brand new just try to sell it online. Some are free, or some are just charging change. Its super easy and fun to do.
2. Cut back-I know its hard but just do it. You know what I'm talking about. Those fancy coffee drinks, cigarettes, sweets, bottled drinks, or just junk food. Saving an average of $3 a day by not getting that fancy coffee will save you $1095 a year. Crazy huh? So even if you cant cut it out completely, just try to only do it once in a while. I cut out coffee drinks almost completely when I moved into this small town. I have a coffee machine/espresso (Xmas gift) so I can just make myself a drink at home. I was just lazy and was working part time so it was easy for me to justify a drink here and there. Then it turned into almost everyday. I saved over a thousand a year just by not buying fancy drinks. Now I make and pack my own. And it was a lot easier not to get them when I stopped working and became a full time mommy.
3. Fuel-Think about where your going to drive for the week, try to consolidate things into one day. If I'm going to the bread store, I will hit up Fred Meyers for their mark downs, and if I need veggies I will hit up the farmers market all in one trip. Saves me tons of fuel. We don't think about it when we just "run up to the store real quick". All those "real quick" runs will use up a ton of gas. Or sometimes my neighbor will ask me if I need anything from a store. "yes yes yes". Don't feel bad, you will do the same for them. Saves you both gas. Try letting your kids ride the bus. That alone will save you gas. Or walk them to school. You get healthy and cut back on gas. Drive behind semi trucks. They cut the wind for you, in return saving you fuel cost. The TV show "Myth busters" did a whole episode on if it really helped gas mileage. They saved an average of 10-15% increase in fuel economy. Now I'm like a truck leech. Where there's trucks, I'm usually behind them. There are many ways you can save on fuel cost. I now walk, bike or jog anywhere I need to go within 2 miles of my home. Saves us big time.
4. The 3 r's Your children learn this in school and you should know it by now.
Reduce-buy bulk. Less packaging, the less you pay. Buy less junk food saves you money. Reduce the amount of fast food you buy or just even stop buying it all together.
Reuse-We use reusable containers for my girls school lunch's. I reuse plastic containers that we get food in. We use them in crafts too. I reuse my fabric sheets several times. They are biodegradable ones that done smell and they stop static cling several times over. Saves me money and Eco friendly. I buy 99% of the time used. All clothes are used except for undergarments. This saves us a ton. And everything is handed down. Shoe's are bought used as well. We buy a new pair of athletic shoe's for the new school year but buy used for play shoe's.
Recycle-If you have a large trash can, you can recycle and cut down your garbage. In return you can request a smaller can and pay less on your garbage bill. If you start a compost bin (drill holes in a trash can with lid) and you have less waste plus great compost for your garden.
All these idea's help the environment and help your wallet.
4.No Plastic- Stop using your credit cards, pay them off and cut them up. Not only are you buying things when you don't have the money for them, your paying more in the long run with interest. If you pay late, theirs late fee's. They are bad all around. I have to admit we have 1 card for just in case. I too will need to learn this lesson. Keep telling myself plastic is bad. It really is in the environment but also bad for my pocket.
5. No payment time- You know those times that banks or credit cards say you can skip a payment? My bank has this option every year around November to help out people at Christmas time. Well how about just taking that payment you were gonna pay, and put it in savings? No out of pocket savings there! Or if you payed off some bill or product. Like furniture or a car. When you pay it off, still set aside that money in savings. You would be amazed how much you would save up.
So these are a few ways to save money with quick results. Keep checking back because I have lots of other ways of saving money. but a little at a time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'll take that challenge!

Last week we had to take our puppy to the vet and ended up paying a $400 vet bill. So this months budget was cut way back. Literally, I have about $100 for 4 weeks of food and what ever else comes up. First I was freaked out, worried, and had an upset stomach. So after a horrible nights sleep, I finally am able to rethink this whole thing. Instead of thinking of this as a horrible struggle were going to have to go through, I'm thinking of this as a challenge.

I'm going to try to do things for free with the kids. Go to the park, go on a walk, hang out with friends, do crafts at home,and things like that. We already have soccer practice twice a week and a game every week so that will keep us pretty busy. I'm going to walk up to the store every other day to check out the local clearance sections. Keep an eye out for seasonal produce to use as well. And any time I want to buy something I'm going to ask myself "Do I really need this?" So this is my plan. Check back to see if I make it, laugh with me while I struggle, and hopefully we will keep our head above the water. My goal is to not have to ask my husband for any money. He's the one who paid the actual vet bill and already has to pay most the big bills so I just want to ease his mind. We will see how this goes.