Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2nd hand thoughts

1. There are 4 basic sources of used clothes.
a. Someone gives them to you. Selection is limited but the price is right. Always show appreciation for anything anyone gives you and remember them when its time for you to give stuff away.
b. Garage sales. These are the cheapest places to find clothes. Usually 1/2 price of thrift shops.
c. Thrift shops. They charge more for clothes but have a better selection. Ask for specials, and clearance racks. 
d. Consignment shops. They have the best selection but higher prices. This is best for adult business clothes. Buy designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Good place to take your goods to get money too.

2. Change your method of shopping. If you shop retail, you always get your size when you want it. Remember to leave that attitude at the door when you shop 2nd hand. Instead think about what it has. 

3. Keep a small notebook with you at all times. Record size and measurements for all members of your household. Measurements are important just in case something doesnt have a size tag in it. 

4. Examine all clothing carefully for defects. Most places dont have a return policy and everything is as/is. Dont be put off by flaws, might be worthwhile to restitch a seam. Every single Hanna Andersson dress my girls wear have some sort of flaw but due to the busy design on them, you cannot see them or ive fixed them. I pay $1 a dress verses buying it new for $50.  

5.  Dont be discouraged by poor quality clothing you find. Remember if something made it to the thrift shop and still look respectable, its is likely to be a garment that will hold up well. Who hasnt bought a new garment that hopelessly pilled, shrank, or fell apart after a few washings. UURR! 

6. Look at a used item and think of it as a new things thats been washed 10 times. 

7.  Many of the same rules applied to new garments apply to used ones. Buy classics. Know what colors look good on you or your family. Learn which brands hold up well.

8.  When buying childrens clothing, buy a few years in advance and start a storage system. I have a box for each child for larger items. I go through it every 6 months. I give my oldest clothes to my middle daughter, my middle daughters clothes to my twins. I always have stuff stashed away. Same goes for seasonal clothes. 

9. Know that there might be things you wont find in a 2nd hand shop. My husband is rough on his jeans and I rarely find jeans for him. So if you find alot, get them all. You never know when your gonna run accross more again. 

10. If you have a picky child, try to show them the "cool" clothes" at thrift stores. Or let them look at the newest styles online and try to put together a outfit at home like it. Its fun for my girls to do this. Plus they like that its not expensive. 

And remember, you can find just about anything in a 2nd hand shop. Decorative pillows, blankets, candles, kitchen items, towels, etc. Instead of buying something new, try 2nd hand. Saves you a bundle and saves our landfills. Try the "No Spend Challenge" and buy only 2nd hand. Undergarments and food new of course. lol!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A frugal Easter

Easter and really break the bank. If you have one child, its not that expensive. But if you have 4 like me, you go broke. So here are a few idea's to help stretch your money.

1. Buy small baskets. Either from thrift stores, free box's, or yard sales. This way you dont have to fill them up too much and you can use the basket for several years.

2.  Fill the baskets with homemade goodies. 

3. Dont fill the baskets. Hide eggs you dyed or jelly beans (from dollar store) around and let the kids fill their own. Maybe toss some in their toy box, they can clean and hunt at the same time . lol.

4.  Make your own egg dye. A cup of boiling water, a tsp of finegar, and food coloring works well. 

5.  Ways around spending $. I recently transfered my perscription to Rite Aid and recieved a $25 gift card for it. You can use this to get good deals on easter items. 

6. After season sales. After Easter, hit their 90% off sales. You can get their baskets for next year, Easter games, stuffed animals, etc for next year. This way you spend less but still have a good Easter.

7.  Have a family event. Have your family come over with a favorite dish of theirs, a dozen eggs, and just have fun. You get to visit with family, the kids can play and you didnt spend any out of pocket expense(if you used what you had at home). 

8.  Go on the internet and print out some easter coloring pages. Free!

9.  Put paper, blue, and other craft items on the table and let the kids go at it! 

10.  Use cotton balls as a bunny tail, hide it, and let the kids find it. 

If you have any other great idea's I can add to the list email me

Homemade Goodness *Shake & bake*

Shake & Bake

This recipe equals 20 store bought packages at 25% less the price. Make a batch, and use what you need.

4 cups of flour
4 cups of ground inexpensive crackers
4 tbsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3 tbsp paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix well and store indefinately in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Tightwad Gazette I,II, & III by Amy Dacyczyn

 Out of all the books I could reccomend to anyone trying to save money, this one is it. Its the ones I go back to again and again. I heard from a friend about this book and searched for it. You can find it new in bookstores or buy it used like I did. I think I paid around $3 each for mine on eBay and Amazon.  You can find them as low at 1 penny but remember you pay for shipping as well. Try finding the paper backs, they are usually cheaper.
There are a total of 3 books. I reccomend getting them all. They are truly the best books for a frugal person. 
Here are just a few of the many of thousands of idea's in the books.

How to slash your food bill in half
10 painless ways to save $100 this year
Saving money on health insurance
Lifestyle of the frugal and abscure
Ingenious recycling idea's
Yard sale and thrift shop strategies
How to be frugal without feeling deprived
Cooking good meals for pannies a serving
How to save hundreds on your utility bill
Cheap holiday and gift notions
Best tighwad tips from around the country
Bringing up a baby cheap
Super fix-its
The art of creative deprivation
How to save on funerals
Cheap travel tips
Making your own convenience foods
Tightwad crafts and hobbies
Cut-rate romance
Cheap food for festivities
How to cut your dry-cleaning cost
Swapping for profit
How to move inexpensively
Avoid credit-card and debt disaster
Sell your own house
Get the best out of your vegetable garden
Economize with antiques
Make your own drapes
Save on skin-care products
Mass-produce pies
Get the best deals at auctions and yard sales
Diet on the cheap
Remodel your furniture

I could go on and on about them. If you really want to save money, ask your friends and family if they have them and borrow them. Some idea's are a bit much but for the true frugal, you will do all of them. From now on I will be sharing alot of Amy Dacyczyn's great idea's with you. Stay tuned everyday to read them all. Until then.....go find the books!

About the author:
Amy Dacyczyn pusblished a newletter called The Tightwad Gazette from June 1990 until December 1996. Amy is now retired from her writing career. The dacyczyns and their six children live happily and frugally in Leeds, Maine.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

House warming party with treasures along the way

We finally had our house warming party last night. I managed to get some good deals on snack items and fresh vegetables for everyone to eat. Goldfish crackers buffet was a big hit. I took advantage of Target coupons and was able to get each bag of them for only 67 cents. So we took a cute bowl with dividers and put in 4 different kinds of them. Kids loved it. Also found tiny tomatoes ( my daughters been begging me to get them forever) at Winco for only $1. Paired them up with carrots and cucumber slices and ranch.
Our friends came over with their kids and we just hung out. Kids played while the adults drank wine and caught up on all the gossip. One friend brought us a cute water jug with a flower in it. So pretty.
Another good friend brought over 2 bags of clothes and shoe's for my older girls. Which my girls really needed. Here's a list of things in the bags

1 almost new pair of Nikes
1 almost new pair of Converse
1 almost new pair of Old Navy Flats
1 almost new pair of Gap Sandals
Several Abercrombie girls tops
3-4 pairs of jeans
Limited Too jamma bottoms
and many other things.
It was a great night over all. A few treasures along the way and we were very grateful. Im so thankful I have so many good friends and family. I will also pass along the treasures to them as well. I just wish everyone could do this for each other. Here's my challenge to you. Instead of giving something to goodwill, think of your friends and family. Maybe they could use them. Or look for shelters in your area. You would be helping others and feel good about it too.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Split Pea/Lentil Soup*

You could make this soup with one or both of these. Either way its yummy. I reccomend mixing it, it still taste like split pea alone. This is a super yummy way to get your kids to eat vegies. You can hide things in this soup and they can pretend its BUG SOUP. My kids love thinking about yucky bugs.

Split Pea/Lentil Soup
Serves 6

1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Parsley
1 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Medium Carrots chopped up small
2 Celery stalks chopped up small
1 large Onion chopped up small
2 tbsp Garlic Minced (or use dried/precut)
1 lb (or 2 cups) Split Pea or Lentils (or mix 1cup/1cup)
8 Cups of water
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt to taste
OPTIONAL:Bacon pieces or ham

Saute carrots, onion and celery in olive oil till onions are translucent. Add garlic and salt. Add all spices and pea's/lentils .
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally. Cook till pea's/lentils are tender and begin to fall apart. . Usually 50-55 minutes.

Eat chunky or push through a strainer to make it creamy. Either way its yummy.

Pea's=60-70 grams
Lentils=80-90 grams
Making it 11-15 grams of protein per serving about and thats just the beans.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To buy or not to buy & give a little get a little

To buy or not to buy....
So we all know how it is the week before payday. Broke, that's how it is. Although I do have some cash for the remaining 4 days, I don't want to use it. Im trying to be creative. Here are a few of my challenges I am having right now.

No toilet paper-nothing. I looked in my closet and found some flushable wipes the girls used when potty training. So were going to use those up before I go buy any toilet paper.

No bread. I have plenty of english muffins so those will due until payday.

Almost no fresh milk. I have powdered milk that will due us until payday. Once in the fridge for a few hours, you cannot tell the differance between fresh and powdered milk.

Entertainment-The hubby is gone out of state for 3 days and I wish I could leave the house and do something special with my girls. But with no money, its not possible. So board games, crafts and movies at home it is. My girls love having family time.

Give a little, get a little

Right after we moved into our new home, we ended up having too much stuff and ended up giving alot of it away. My friend came over and I let her rummage though it all. She took home alot of stuff for her home and it was all free! I was happy to get it off my hands.
Well I went to babysit for that same friend and she had a bag of lotions and such for me. I was so excited. I love lotions and cosmetics. Especially when its FREE! Lots of Burts bee's, Calgon lotions, and body washes.
My point? Well its like the old saying. "You pat my back, I will pat yours." Feel good about helping others. And feel good about others helping you. Think about your friends and family who could use something your giving away. Or just send a email stating what your giving away and if anyone wants it, just reply. One persons junk is another persons treasure.
To top the day off, my father in law sent some goodies home with my husband. Some Pepsi, ramen, and chips. Things we would never buy (never have the money) or only for special occasions. I was delighted. Every little bit helps.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Upcoming events....

Well im still working on getting products to review and give away to all my favorite followers. You know who you are! So things are in the works still and I have not forgotten. Awaiting things in the mail still.
But i'm also working on another project. Restaurants. You know, those places you cannot afford anymore but really would love to go to? Yep, those. I'm in the process of contacting places, maybe get a few gift cards to give away, and just see what they can do for you, the consumer. Im looking for budget friendly, family friendly, and great food places. We will see how this goes.
I'm just like all of you. Tight budget, little or no money left over after bills. So the little money we do have, has to stretch very far. I have to feed and pay for a family of 6 on a budget for a family of 4. So I will let you know my findings, steals and deals as soon as possible.
Im sure these companies will work with me. They are fully aware of peoples lack of money now days and know they have to budge a little to get a little. There is hope for all of us to get out and try to set aside our worries for even just an hour while were enjoying a good inexpensive meal with the whole family.
So I will keep you posted. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Blondies with almonds*

This is a great snack for those who do not like to eat brownies. Just like them but minus the chocolate. Super yummy and healthy. Buy organic whenever possible. Use little or no salt to cut back on sodium.

Blondies with Almonds

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup all purpose whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 lg egg
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds, divided

350 degree's 8x8 pan with cooking spray and lined with foil.

Whisk together oats, flours, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.
Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Pour into large bowl, add egg, vanilla extract, and reserved dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in 1/4 cup of almonds.
Pour batter into prepared pan, spread evenly with spatula, and top with remaining almonds.
Bake 18-20 minutes.

Nutritional info per bar:
137 calories
2 grams protein
18 grams carbohydrates
1 grams fiber
6.5 grams fat
3 grams saturated fat
25 milligrams cholesterol
88 milligrams sodium

Friday, March 13, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Basic Crepes*

This recipe could be used in so many creations. You can use any type of flour you want also. This is how I cook mine but alter to your own taste.

Basic Crepes

1 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk (or 2/3 cup powdered milk with 2 cups of water)
3 large eggs (I use 2 and they come out fine)
2 1/2 oz(5tbsp) of butter (I use oil works just fine)

Mix wet items then mix into dry items. Batter should be the consistency of heavy cream, add more milk or water if needed. I use a plug in griddle so I can cook 2 at a time. Just pour 1/4 cup of mixture into the pan (spray with oil) and turn your pan side to side so the mixture can spread. Batter starts to turn a bit white, then you need to flip it. These take less than a minute to cook. Have a plate set aside so you can unload them when done and reload, You can cover with a cotton cloth to keep them warm.
Top with any syrup you want. I dont like maple syrup so I make my own lemon syrup.You can make a simple syrup out of these items.

1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of sugar

Melt in a pan, let boil for a few minutes till the sugar is all melted. Can be put in fridge and used for a few weeks.
I pour this on, then sprinkle some powdered sugar on it. So yummy.
I paid $6.99 for these at a cute little Italian cafe in Portland. This recipe only cost around $1 to make. So cheap. To add a little extra fancy to it, just grate some lemon peel on it too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Homemade Goodness *create a muffin*

Easy muffins you can create using this simple ingredient idea

Grain-use 2-2/12 cups flour. Substitute one cup with 1 cup of left over oatmeal, rice or cornmeal.

Milk-Use 1 cup. Or substitute with buttermilk, or even fruit juice.

Fat-Use 1/4 cup vegetable oil or 4 tbsp melted butter or margarine. Or substitute crunchy or regular peanut butter for half or all the fat.

Egg-Use 1 egg. or substitute 1 heaping tbsp of soy flour and 1 tbsp of water.

Sweetener-Use between 2 tbsp and 1/2 cup of sugar. Or substitute up to 3/4 cup brown sugar. Or you can sub up to 1/2 cup of honey or molasses and decrease milk to 3/4 cup.

Baking Powder-Use 2 tbsp. If you use more than 1 cup of additions, increase to 3 tbsp.

Salt-Yse 1/2 tsp or omit if you have a salt-restricted diet.

Dry additions-Nuts, sunflowers seeds, raisins, coconut, and so on.

Moist additions-Blueberries, chopped apple, freshly shredded zucchini, shredded carrot and so on

Wet additions-Pumpkin puree, apple sauce, mashed, cooked sweet potato, mashed banana, mashed cooked carrot and so on. If using 1/2 cup drained, canned fruit or thawed shredded zucchini, substute the syrup or zucchini liquid for all the part of milk.

Jellies and jam-Fill cups half full with a plain batter. Add 1 tsp jam or jelly and top with 1 more tbsp of butter.

Mix well everything and cook at 400 degree's for 20 minutes. Poke with a fork and when it comes out clean, they are done.

Have fun with it and try different things and crazy combinations.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SUPRISE! 5 Foods that keep longer

I know, there are many people out there who are scared of eating or drinking anything past the sell by date. Well let me tell you, you are going to live if you eat that yogurt the day after the sell by date. Yes, you will survive. lol
Prevention Magazine has a wonderful article out this month on this same subject. The average family of four throws out nearly 122 lbs of food per month. However, many common perishables, including these staples, remain perfectly safe as long as a week (or even month) past their sell-by date when stored properly. Which is 40 Degree's F or below.

Milk-1 week past sell by date
Hit the dairy aisle right before you check out to minimize the amount of time is left unrefrigerated, and store it on a shelf pushed far back, where the air is coldest (closer to the door tends to be warmer). If I find milk on sale in smaller cartons but don't need milk at that moment, I just freeze it. Yep, it can be froze. Takes 2 days to thaw out in the fridge.

Eggs-3-4 weeks past sell by date
Store in their original container on a refrigerator shelf rather than on the door, where eggs are vulnerable to temperature fluctuations.

Hard Cheese (once opened)-2-4 months past sell by date
Wrap in moisture-proof plastic or foil. If the outside of the hard cheese has visible mold, trim off the mold and a 1/2 inch area of cheese below it. Still taste the same and you wont get sick.

Yogurt-10-14 days past sell by date
Yogurt is best stored at around 39 degree's F, an appropriate temp for your fridge. Don't be deterred by separation-simply stir and enjoy. Only way I will buy yogurt is if its marked down to sell quick. 1 4 pk feeds my kids 1 meal. So it is eaten super fast. Never need to worry about it. If I buy a bunch, I just freeze some for later. Yes, you can freeze it too.

-3-5 days past sell by date
Store meat in teh meat compartment-it is specially designed to keep cool air in. I buy marked down lunch meat (usually within 2 days of sell by date is coming) and take it home to put in the freezer. We go though so much lunch meat and so fast that I never worry about the date.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Homemade goodness *Cracker Jacks*

Cracker Jacks

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp vanilla
8 cups popped popcorn

Combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt over low heat until the butter is all melted. Cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Add the baking soda and vanilla. Pour onto the popcorn and peanuts, and mix until evenly coated. Bake 15 minutes at 300 degrees. Break into pieces.
If you want a less sweet snack, add more popcorn. If you pop your popcorn in a sauce pan, you can use the same oily pan to make the candy-coated mixture. The oil helps it slide right out.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Pancake Syrup*

Pancake Syrup

3 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp Molasses
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tsp Butter Flavoring (optional)
1 tsp Maple Extract

Bring all to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves (a food rolling boil). Turn off burner, but leave pot on burner until boiling stops.
Store in a air tight sterilized container, keeps for months.

Friday, March 6, 2009

50 tips to a frugal lifestyle

These idea's are pretty simple and anyone can apply them to their lives.  Enjoy!

1. Go with 1 car.
Guilty of not doing this. But our cars are paid for. I have a large family and we cannot fit into cars. We drive a euro van. 1 car for commuting, 1 truck for hauling, and our van. We only drive the car. My husband rides his bike to work, I walk everywhere I can. Rarely do we drive.

Update:We have different cars/trucks now.  I ride my bike a lot, walk a lot and drive only when I have to. Doing all this means we don't put much mileage on any of our vehicles.  Plus this saves us money because we don't have to buy as much gas.  My husband still rides his bike to work a lot.

2. Go with a smaller house.
True in every level. Less to heat, less to take care of, and less is just plain good. We just moved into a smaller older home. I'm so happy that we did. I felt so guilty for having so much space.

Update: Still live in this smaller home and love everything about it.  I now have a very large garden, some chickens and a very kid friendly yard.  We update inside any chance we get but still have much work to do.  Kitchen is next!

3. Go with a smaller car.
This is true for the most part. As long as you take care of your car, it will take care of you. Less money for gas because you get better gas millage than a suv. Our Jetta tdi gets average of 45 miles per gallon. Amazing and that's why I commute with it.

Update: No longer have our VW Jetta.  We now have a BMW which is more dependable. 

4. Rent rather than own.
This is a big debate. I could go on and on about this one. I prefer to own. We are financially okay, we pay more than the mortgage bill ask for, and we never use credit cards to pay any of our bills. If you do not make much money (or enough to stay afloat) then just rent. Find a medium place. Not too expensive, not too cheap, and in a good neighborhood. A lot of places go by income. Then save your money for when you are financially in a better spot, and I'm sure the market will be a lot better by then.

5. Look for it used.
Get over your fears of germs, almost all things can wash. I grew up with 2nd hand stuff so I'm used of it and nothing bothers me anymore. But if you have never stepped foot into a thrift store, try it out. Once you see your money staying in your pocket, you will rethink the whole thing. Everything in my life (except undergarments) is bought used. Yep, all my name brand clothes, used. Those cool Uggs I wear, used. My cool Tupperware, used. So get over it and try it out. You will thank me.

Update:No TUPPERWARE in my home anymore! Woot! I still buy everything used and always will.  Only new under garments.  Be smart and buy (if you can) from Goodwill Outlets which sell by the pound.  The more you buy the less you pay. 

6. Eat out less
Before my kids, we used to eat out all the time. Drive through was my friend. Now, maybe 4 times a year we eat out. Seriously. Just cut your eating out in half. Instead of each weekend, try every other weekend.

7. Eat out frugal
If we do eat out, its where kids eat free, I have a gift card, or coupon for free food. Its more fun this way. Plus a lot of times we get to try out places we've never been to. Best yet, we keep our money in our pocket. Try looking up that popular meal you love from your favorite place to eat. There are tons of recipes on the net, just google it.

8. Brown bag it
Yep, you can do this. I like this because I know whats in my food because I put it there. I control how much I eat, what I eat, and my favorite foods are in there. Plus I save myself money.

Update:I pack 4 lunches for my kids each day.  When we hike I pack food.  My husband brings left overs for lunch.  Get the pattern here?

9. Adopt a minimalist wardrobe
I am again guilty of this one. You can have a big wardrobe if you buy 2nd hand. I have a huge selection of clothing because I buy from the goodwill outlet. It sells by the pound. You get things for literally pennies when you buy this way. But if you don't have one nearby, then stay with things that can go with anything. A few jeans, or pants. A few tops you can mix n match. And a few shoes that can go with anything. Need something fancy, borrow something from a friend or family member who is your size. There are ways to get around this rule.

10. Stop online impulse buys
Again guilty. But I have rules for myself. Only one clearance/sale, with free shipping, and or a sale code. Rarely do I spend over $10 online. You can sign up for their newsletter and they will send you deals. Overstock.com is a favorite for super good deals. EBay is another place you can find great deals. I can always find what I want for half the price retail stores ask for. So I do stay away from online purchases but there are a few exceptions.

Update: We try our best to buy from local business. Keeps money in Oregon where it needs it most.  Only time we buy online is if we cannot find it locally.  I do buy online through Azure Standard because they have the best deals for natural food and most products are from local farmers. 

11. Don't shop
I stay away from any retail store if I can help it. I live within 5 minutes from 2 shopping malls, and a mall. I will only go to these places if I have a free coupon for stuff. That's it. I refuse to pay retail prices for anything. Seriously, I will hold out for months till I find what I want on clearance. lol

Update: I don't shop there anymore unless its for gifts.  I stay out of the stores anymore because it seems like everything now days are made from plastic.  I spend my money in thrift shops now days.

12. Use a 30 day list
If you need something that isn't a "have to have" item, I put it on a list with the date on it. I cannot buy it until 30 days later. You will see how your "have to have" item turns into "don't need it" list.

13. Cut out cable
yep I did this one. Partially because we were moving but we turned it off 1 month before we even moved. The only thing I actually missed was the pause button. I do miss that. Other than that, I don't miss my shows like I thought I would. And we get our $50 back in our pocket each month.

Update: Still going strong! No cable! Its been 3 years now and we don't miss it one bit.  Sometimes we do rent a movie from Redbox. 

14. Use the library
You can find any book you want, movie, or magazine. All for free!!! Plus most library's have "free" pass to local museums and galleries.

15. Find free entertainment
Go for a walk and make it a treasure hunt. Kids can bring a bag and make art work when they get home. Maybe try out a new local park. Have a play date. Go hiking, biking, or walking. There are tons of things you can do for free. If your indoors, try out a board game. There are tons of online free games. There are options, you just have to be open to try them out.

16. Frugal exercise
Jog while the kids are in school. Go for a walk. Do push ups. Run up and down the stairs. Jump up and down the stairs. There are lots of things you can do. I walk my 2 girls to school pushing my 2 other girls in a stroller. On the way home I jog. I enjoy jogging and don't use "kids" as an excuse not to do it. When they are young, you can still jog. When they get older, take turns with a neighbor or family and members watching kids. There are options.

Update: My kids are older and in school now. I still continue to jog. 

17. Stay healthy
Yeah sounds simple, well it is. Eat healthy, get exercise and you wont have to go to the doctors. Saving you money.

18. Commute by bike
Yep, the hubby does this everyday. Its actually the reason we bought our house. So he could ride his bike and I can walk to the stores. No money wasted on gas. You get exercise. Need I say more? Oh yeah and don't use the weather as another excuse. They make shoe protectors, rain jackets, etc. If you don't have the money, just get some weather proofing spray to spray a jacket you already have. It will work until you save up for a rain jacket.

19. Carpool or ride the bus
We ride the max (rail system) to the zoo. Just its only a 20 minute trip, id rather not worry about traffic or wear to park the car. Its pretty cheap too. There are also plenty of bus's to ride as well. Or if your neighbor/family member wants to car pool, split the gas. Did this at our last home that was 45 minutes away from everything. Saved us money on gas.

20. Walk
Do I need to go on about it? Just do it

21. Sell your clutter
We did this before we moved. Try out places like eBay, Craigslist, or just hold a garage sale. Your junk is another persons treasure no matter what it is. You would be surprised. We sold our table set, rolling island, and even tires so we didn't have to when we moved. Plus we used the money to rent a truck.

22. Frugal gifting
What I do is buy things year round. If I find something at 90% off, I will get it if its a good gift. Lotions sets, etc. That way when the hubby tells you there is a birthday party tomorrow and we need to go, you say "no problem". Just go in your stash and pull something out. Or you can make your own gift. Epsom salt and oils make great bathroom salts. Melt down your candles to make a new one. Melt down crayons and make new cool ones with ice cube trays. (use petroleum jelly to get them out easy)

Update: We sort still do this.  Instead of lotions and what not we just give gift cards from book stores.  I try my best to make gifts or buy as ECO friendly as possible.  Always try to buy local.

23. Quit smoking
Seriously, do it. Save other peoples lungs, your lungs and your overall health. Its a nasty habit that you can quit. There are tons of help groups out there. Most are free. There is no reason why you cannot smoke. Oh yeah, you also save hundreds of dollars each year by quitting.

24. Alcohol in moderation
Instead of buying that favorite beer you like, try out a inexpensive wine out. One glass will do you. Sometimes stores have wine tasting for free, just bring ID. Hit those up. Try cutting your entertaining in half, you will save a bundle. A lot of stores like grocery outlet have wine 50% off retail. Try that out.

Update: No longer drink wine due to allergies. We do enjoy a good local beer.  If you have no money for food then you have no money for alcohol. 

25. Sweets in moderation
We don't buy sweets unless its from the bulk section and I cook them. Muffins, cookies, and things like that. Whole wheat flour, flax seed, and half the sugar is cut out replaced by applesauce. Then the kids choose what extras they want in it. Dried fruit, small chocolate chips, and sometimes nothing. They love these muffins.

26. Drink water
I wont go on and on. Just drink it. Water from your tap. Cheap and its there always. Try only drinking 1 cup of coffee in the morning and water for the rest of the day. I used to buy crystal light all the time. No more. I make homemade lemonade , buy milk and nothing else. Water is usually what they choose.

27. Batch your errands
Plan your day. Get it all done in one trip. Saves you on gas money and time.

28. Stay home
Yep, its true. If I'm getting broke, I don't travel anywhere. Only to see family or friends. If I do travel, I pack a lunch for the kids. This way I'm not out any money from my pocket. Why go somewhere and wish you could get this or that. Don't tempt yourself .

29.Stop using credit cards
We only have one and its almost paid off. I don't use them. I pretend they are not even there. We have it only in case of emergency. We have yet to have one but that's okay. It was good to have one when I was younger to get my credit up. but now I have excellent credit and don't use them. Funny how these things work out.

30. Cancel subscriptions
You don't need them. Now days you can find any magazine online.  You can also find any information you want on the web.  I have 2 magazine subscriptions-Taproot and Mother Earth News. I get so much information from them and pass them onto friends when I'm done with them.

31. Make your own
I could go on and on about this one. Use it in every aspect of your life. Like yesterday. I didn't want to go spend $10 on a curtain rod. I needed a small one for my mud room door. So I used the brackets that were already on the door, bought a $1 dowel, painted it black with my acrylic paint, and put it up. Done! Could of used a twig but I don't have one. Then I cut up a pillow case and turned it into a curtain. See what I mean? You like something, think how you can make it yourself.

32. Do it yourself
Yep, just do it. We have standing water in our back yard, so we knew we needed some system to get it out of there. Could of hired a landscaper to do it but we don't have the money. So instead my husband is installing pipe(with holes) under the ground leading down to the street. Cover it with gravel then dirt and grass. Instead of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, were spending less than $100 bucks. Research it and try it out. Electrical work is a DON'T! Be smart.

Update: We have now replaced our fence, gates, retaining wall, landscaping, and etc. All by yourselves! Feels pretty damn good to do it yourself and save money.

33. Stop paying interest
This is why you should not have credit cards. You pay interest. Look for interest free. There are so many things you can buy now that are interest free. Just look around and research before you purchase anything.

34. Reduce convenience foods
Junk food, frozen food, etc. Try hitting up your bulk section and make your own food. Why buy popcorn for the microwave when you can buy 1 lb of popcorn for 50 cents and make 10 times the amount for half the price. We no longer buy anything prepackaged if we can get it in bulk. If we do buy packaged, its recycled. Less packaging means less money. Plus most items are super healthy. Just don't go near the candy area. lol

35. Travel frugally
Try traveling local. Instead of going out of state each year, hit up places within your state. We do this all year round. We just research a "must see" place in our state like were tourist. Then we plan it out and go there. There are so many places, you just need to research it. Try looking at your states tourist site. Great place to find idea's. Pack your own food, camp or get a cabin instead of a hotel room. Or try sleeping in your vehicle(works well if you don't have kids). This saves you a bundle. Or have relatives? Ask to stay with them. Then when they want to travel, then can stay with you.

36. Cut the cell phone.
Guilty. We did the opposite. We cut the land line. Hubby was able to get a good cell phone deal through his work so we pay less. I never go over on my minutes or text. Use it only when needed. I mostly email. But if you cant get your cell under control, cut it out. Get a land line. You can get one for as cheap as $10 a month .

Update: We now have a land line again.  Now that my kids are older and can stay home, its a must have.  This way they can call us anytime. Still have our cell's through his work at a cut rate. 

37. Cut your own hair. This works out great if you can get someone else to help you out. No way would I let my husband cut my hair. I love him but no. So I choose to wait out until a sale comes around. I will only get it cut if its $6.99 or less. I will wash my hair before I go in and while its still wet, go get it cut. My girls I can trim so they don't get cuts that often. Every other year or so they will get it cut pretty short then let it grow again. Invest in a trimmer/cutter for your husband or boys. Easy directions and you will never go pay for a cut again. My husband bought his 10 yrs ago and has not step foot into a salon since. Worth every penny.

Update: Stopped going to Great Clips because we have had too many issues with them.  Once for the hair stylist telling me my hair was a wreck (which it wasn't and wasn't her business) and once for cutting my 14 year old daughters bangs so short they couldn't be fixed.  It didn't matter which location either.  Looking for a alternative so message me if you know of a good priced place in the Portland area. Thanks!

38. Maintain stuff
Yes. Take care of your car. Change your oil, and make sure air in your tire is correct. This goes for anything you own. Take care of it and it will last a long time. All else fails....GOOGLE IT!

39. Save energy
There are hundreds of tips on the net to lower your energy bill. Use cold water when washing clothes, hang dry clothes, keep lights off during the day, and unplug everything. Those are just a few. The more you do, the more you will save. More money in your pocket.

40. Save gas
Walk anywhere within 2 miles of your home. Drive the car that gets the best gas mileage. Fuel goes up and down in price so you cannot always depend on the prices helping you out. Coast down hills, brake less, gas less or just walk.

41. Only buy bargain clothing (if you need them)
Kids need shoe's? Hit up clearance aisles. My daughter has indoor soccer coming in 1 month so I'm on the hunt for those shoes at a good price. Research, shop around, and look for the deals. Don't forget to pass on clothes to your younger kids!  Also accept anything friends or family give you!

42. Telecommute
Not only does this mean you get to work in pj's, but it saves you money on gas, wear and tear on your car, and your food bill. Worth looking into if you can.

43. Plan ahead
I research everything I do. I think ahead of things I need to do, or need to get. I prepare food for my kids in a lunch box when I'm out doing errands. This way I cut out any excess food spending. I spend a good amount of time looking at store ad's comparing and planning my next day shopping . This way I cut back on stress, gas, and money.

Update: No longer sit through ad's before shopping.  Also no longer use coupons if I can.  I buy whats in season, on sale, organic, fair trade and local.  Yes you can shop at Whole Foods on a budget and I prove it each month. Let's not forget New Season's!

44. Cook ahead
A lot of people I know cook meals ahead of time and freeze them. I cannot due to my small freezer in this new home (will get larger one later). So I freeze things I get on sale or clearance. Large piece of meat are cut down into meal size's and froze. Red peppers on sale, take home and slice, lay flat on cookie sheet in freezer, taken out and then put in a ziplock bag into the freezer.

Update: We own a large freezer now!

45. Wash clothes less
I don't wash my sweatshirts every time I wear them. Same with pj pants, and things like that. Jackets, sweaters, and shoes are only washed when needed. Less water wasted, less energy used from your bill and you.

46. Sun dry clothes
I just love the smell of my clothes when I hang dry them. You just cannot explain it. If you cannot have a clothes line, invest (or buy used) in a fold able one. I will be using both this summer. This saved me a ton of money when my twins were babies. We did so much laundry and I hung everything outside. I did dry my jeans 50% then hung dry the rest of the time. I don't like scratchy jeans and this eliminated. Try it out, I promise you will love it. This alone saves the most energy in a average household.

47. Eat less meat
We eat 3 meatless meals a week. And you know what, my family doesn't even notice it. That's 3 lbs less meat a week I have to buy. Saving me about $50 a month or even more. There are so many things you can make without meat. Substitute with beans. We eat every type of bean you can think of. I buy them dried in the bulk section. Cook them in my crock pot, and then freeze them into 1 cup bags. My daughter is a vegetarian and this helps out when I'm cooking meals. I just thaw out some beans for her and done. This alone saves so much money on our food budget. You can get protein in many other places. Google it , I dare you. 

Update:We still don't eat much meat.  If we eat meat at all its only half a pound.  We also still eat a ton of beans but don't use plastic bags.  I make my beans and freeze them in wide mouth mason jars. 

48. Save on groceries
Clip coupons for things you do buy on a regular basis. Look for seasonal sales for produce. Cook yourself, no premade anything, and hit up the markdowns on meat and dairy. This is how I keep my budget of $500 for a family of 6. Actually its less than that because I buy all clothing, cleaning products, etc. It can happen, I do it all the time. Find your local food outlets, or savings stores. Hit up the bulk section for everything. Less packaging, less money. Rethink your spending habits.

Update: No longer use coupons unless its a product I always buy.  Sunshine Dairy makes my favorite sour cream and has coupons often.  LOVE THEM because of the quality of products and they are LOCAL to me!

49. Frugal holidays
How about using nature to decorate instead of spending money on decorations you use once a year. Fall is great for this. Use leaves for decorating plates with candles. Christmas time use clippings from a holly tree to make a wreath. Try looking to nature to decorate, how do you think our ancestors did it? There wasn't a Target or Walmart back then. Rethink it. 

50. Eat cheap breakfast
One way I cut back on sugar with my kids is to buy whole grain cereal like Cheerios's or bran flakes. Then I will buy a box of not so healthy cereal . My kids know they have to mix the two. Its either that, or nothing. They are used to it and don't put up a fight. They are eating half the sugar. Or I will make my own oatmeal. Instead of buying those boxed ones, I will make plain oatmeal and add fruit to it. Or a tiny bit of brown sugar. Sometimes even a spoonful of homemade jelly. Its not cutting out sugar completely but its cutting it back 50%. Eat a homemade muffin, pancakes, oatmeal, English muffin, etc. There are plenty of things you can eat that doesn't cost much.

Update: NO MORE CEREAL!!!! I'm happy to report we no longer eat cereal in our home unless its organic and at a good price.  Since this doesn't happen often we usually eat other things.  Bagels, english muffins, fruit, yogurts, etc. 

Okay I just gave you plenty of idea's that are free to you to use. Try at least 20 of these and you will save money. Promise!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Crackers*

Homemade Crackers

3 cups uncooked oatmeal
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup wheat germ
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
1 cup water

Mix ingredients and roll out onto two cookie sheets. Sprinkle with salt, lightly roll again to press in salt in. Cut into squares or diamonds. (use pizza cutter) Bake 350 degree's. After 20 minutes begin checking. The outer ones are usually ready first. Remove crackers as they turn golden brown and hard.
These will taste similar to wheat thins. Once you get this recipe down, try adding herbs to spice them up. Have fun with it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Take a Staycation

Yes, you read it right. This year seems to be a struggle just to get by. Why not take a staycation and get away. Same rules apply to a topical vacation. This means putting an "away" message on your e-mail, letting your phone go to voice mail, forgetting the household chores, and turning off your blackberry. Also plan your trip ahead of time so you get the most of your time. Okay now that that's done, enjoy.
Get Lost
Everyone knows that the best discoveries are when you get lost or off the beaten track. Check out a new neighborhood you have never been to, a park you have heard about but never been to, or take a different way somewhere you always go. Might find something new.

Smarten Up
Take a learning vacation. Have you always wondered how florist come up with beautiful flower arrangements? Stop in at your neighborhood florist and ask if you can watch her in action. Want to know more about wine? Go to your local New Seasons or Trader Joe's and hang out in the aisle. Each store has their own wine person and you are free to ask any questions you want. Make a list before you go so you don't waste your time.

See the sights
Take advantage of your own city's sights. Channel your inner tourist and check you your resident museum (plan it on the free day check their site) , hit a few galleries or monuments. No matter how big or small. Check your cities official tourist web site for great idea's. Most are free!

Pamper Yourself
Lock the doors, turn off the phone, and pamper yourself. Light your aromatherapy (or favorite smell) candle, give yourself a facial, deep-tissue massage, pedicure, manicure or just take a nap. (blow the candle out if you snooze). Wash away the stress and emerge a new person.

Sleep in
Clear your calendar, plan a sleepover for the kids(or get husband to step it up!), and set aside breakfast stuff for the next morning. Pull down the shades, unplug the alarm clock, mute the phone, and just sleep. With all the demands on your time, the opportunity to rest can be the ultimate luxury.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Ranch Dressing*

Ranch Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp finely chopped green onions (tops only)
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp minced parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 to 1 garlic clove finely minced
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate. Makes 2 cups. Last for a few weeks but I doubt you will need to. Its so good it wont last.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Less and More

Here are a few less is more tips for you

LESS junk food, MORE nutrients
LESS car trips, MORE exercise
LESS sweets, MORE weight loss
LESS possessions, MORE space
LESS self-pity, MORE happiness
LESS presents, MORE appreciation
LESS waste, MORE conservation
LESS tv MORE conversations
LESS used, MORE you have
LESS energy used, MORE money you have
LESS bought new, MORE money you have
LESS scheduled, MORE family time

So its true, less truly is more
Have any other less is more, email me suggestions