Monday, January 9, 2017

10 Tips to Live Frugally

frugal -
                       sparing or economical with regard to money or food
                   simple and plain and costing little

                    - Oxford Dictionary     

Another goal of mine for 2017 is to live more frugally.  I've been pretty good at being frugal in the past, but I'm hoping to crack down in more ways of accomplishing this.  

We are a one income family.  We've chosen to live this way, but even if you haven't, there isn't a reason (in my opinion) to blow through money without any regard as to what the future may hold.  Unforseen circumstances may land you in the hospital, your car may need a new transmission, your kid may need braces (my son), etc...  If you have savings set aside, FANTASTIC!  If not, you need to work on setting some $$ aside.  

If you aren't sure where to start, you can set aside $25 a week or $100 a month.  Set aside whatever you can even if it's only $1 a week.  It all adds up. 

Some of my readers may live paycheck-to-paycheck.  That's okay.  There are ways to still hold on to some of your paycheck.  Are you ready to find out how?  Here it is:  live more frugally.

Frugal doesn't have to mean being cheap.  It means avoiding waste, being resourceful, and not spending when you don't have to.  

Still one of my favorite books has been  "MONEY SECRETS OF THE AMISH: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving" by Lorilee Craker.  You can read by review for that book HERE.
Here are 10 tips on how to live 
a more frugal life:

1.  Eat at home.  So much money is wasted eating out.  It gets downright ridiculous.  If you actually sit down and add up how much money you've spent in a year or even in a month eating out, you'd be surprised.  It goes so very fast and adds up so very quickly.  Most meals, if cooked at home, will be around $2.00 or less per person.  In fact, the other night I wanted to tally up how much the entire meal I made cost us.  It came to a total of $2.92, but there was enough for 6 servings, which made it $0.49 per serving!  Can you imagine paying only forty-nine cents for a meal anywhere else? 

2.  Shop smart.  If you are going to shop, make sure you shop smart.  Download an app called Flipp.  It keeps track of all the ads released for the stores in your area.  This even includes grocery stores.  You can compare prices for items on sale to see who has the best deal.  I use it all the time and love it!
Keep a log of how much items you frequently buy cost throughout the year and shop the following year for those items during the months where you found it the cheapest.
3.  Reuse or Repurpose.  I try to reuse or repurpose as much as I can.  For example:  Right now I'm roasting a chicken.  I will save the juices to make a gravy.  Once all the meat has been picked off the carcass for eating tonight and freezing extra to use in a future soup, I will cook the bones with water and some vinegar for 24-48 hours (adding water as needed) to make bone broth to use in future soups, when we are sick, or in any recipe that requires broth.  Nothing will go to waste.  I'll even feed some of skin to the dogs.  The rest of the skin will be cooked down and made into dog treats.  Those skins you cut off of your potatoes you could cook in the oven with salt and pepper to make potato skin chips.  What about the tops and bottoms of vegetables that you throw away?  Use those to make vegetable broth.  Some of your vegetables you can even plant the tops or bottoms to grow more of that vegetable.  
Have an old sweater?  Turn it into a pillow cover for your sofa or bed.  
4.  Buy in Bulk.  This one is now catching on with me.  I still resisted this for a while, but I have learned to fully embrace this one and love it.  Some items at Sam's and Costco can save you plenty in the long run compared to your usual grocery shopping trip.  "The long run" are the key words here.  You will put more money upfront, but the money you save is worth it.  
Speaking of buying in bulk, one of my new favorite bulk purchases is Zaycon Meat!  I am loving the savings that come with buying meat in bulk!  They have chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish, shrimp...  It's free to sign up, and once you do, you can see what meat is available in your area.  A refrigerated truck arrives at a location, those who purchased drive up, and the meat is loaded into the back of your vehicle.  Easy peasy!  Right now they are offering 20% OFF of your very FIRST purchase with the code PT20 until April 30, 2017 at 11:59PM PST.  If this is your first time hearing of Zaycon or you haven't ordered yet but thought about it, GO FOR IT!   You can click the image below to be directed to their page.

5. Set up storage.  You are going to need a place to put all that meat.  Invest in a deep freezer and a vacuum foodsaver.  Divide meat and foods into smaller sizes to vacuum seal and freeze.  I even like to chop my onions, bell pepper, celery, and carrots in advance and freeze until I'm ready to use (no vacuum seal needed--ziplock bag will work fine).
Another way to store food is to invest in a dehydrator.  With a dehydrator you can dehydrate your own spices and herbs, fruits for snacks, jerky, fruit leather, and even fruits and vegetables to later rehydrate for cooking. 
If you invest in a pressure canner, you can can cream of mushroom soup (and the like), broth, tomato sauce, jelly, jam, vegetables, meat, etc....  The possibilities are endless. 
An additional bonus to storage is you won't be running to the grocery store everytime a storm blows through or it snows.  We live in the south, and when snow is expected, everyone runs for the store to grab bread, milk, eggs, and such.  They should have set up storage.  😀

6.  Buy Used.  Not everything you own needs to be brand spanking new.  I promise.  Ever hear of antiques?  Some people think it is okay to have antiques but the thought of buying something used makes their skin crawl.  Umm...antiques were used.  
Let's say you need a chair for your bedroom.  You could easily drop a few hundred in a furniture store, but if you were to check on craigslist, a nearby flea market, or a yard sale, you could find the right chair for even less than a hundred dollars.  It may be perfect as is, or it may need a little TLC with a fresh coat of paint, sanding and a new stain, or be reupholstered.  No biggie.  

7.  Repair Instead of Replace.  The same TLC you would put into a used product you purchased you could do with something you already own.  
Resurrect old woolen clothes using a disposable razor.  The razor will get rid of the pilling, making it look new again. 
Give your table a new coat of paint.
Take old leather shoes and try buffing and repolishing them to give them a new shine.  
Dye your faded jeans.
Get handy with stitching and sewing to add lace, new lines, buttons, etc to your old, plain t-shirts   

8.  Cut the cable.  We chose to cut cable/satellite many years ago.  We watched regular network TV shows through an antenna or DVDs.  Only recently did we acquire an android box.  You can find them for around $20.  Our cellular plan has unlimited data, so we are able to use it to watch TV or movies on the box without any extra charge aside from electricity.  
Another line you can cut is your home phone.  If you don't need it, don't keep it.  Most people these days rely solely on cellular.  Home phones are phasing out, especially since cellular phones travel with us when we leave home.  
9.  Learn Something New.  We have gotten into a rut of needing to buy things instead of making it ourselves because...well...we don't know how to do anything anymore.  Learn how to do things.  
Learn how to build a birdhouse if you need one.
Learn how to make a quilt, knit, or crochet if you need a blanket.  (I'm working on this one)
Learn how to garden.  (I'm working on this one too.)
Learn how to fix a leaky faucet instead of buying a new one.
This list can go on and on.

10.  Get Money Back.  Yes, you heard that right.  This isn't technically frugal.  Use apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, SavingStar, etc...  When you go grocery shopping, check to see if the items on your list are also on any of these apps.  If so, you can scan the barcode, take a picture of your receipt, and BAM!  you get money back.  
Click here to get started with Ibotta or enter gqesrig when you sign up on your phone to get an extra $10 on your first rebate.Personally, I love using Ibotta and Checkout 51 the most.  I joined Ibotta November 6th.  Ibotta as of today, January 9, 2017 has paid me $70.50.  It's only been 2 months!  
Click the image to get started with Ibotta, or enter gqesrig when downloading onto your phone to get an extra $10 rebate for signing up.  
Join those apps with coupons and sales, and you end up paying minimally, nothing, or even GET PAID to buy the product you were going to buy in the first place.  
Example:  I needed Zantac for heartburn.
Zantac                                    =  $8.19                               
I had a coupon for $4.00 off.   = $4.19
Checkout 51 gave back $4.00 = $0.19
Ibotta gave back $3.00            = $2.81 money maker 
I got paid $2.81 to buy Zantac 

Living frugally doesn't have to be hard.  It doesn't mean you become boring.  It doesn't even mean you stop spending at all.  It simply means trying to withhold spending until necessary or spending cautiously.  It means not wasting.  It means appreciating what you have.  And it all leads to a better outlook, a thicker bank account, and less stress.  
 Shop Now at Zaycon Fresh

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


So as most of my friends and family know, I stink at growing plants.  I have a hard enough time keeping indoor plants alive.  Read a previous post about my failing attempts HERE 

I have gotten better since that post in 2012.  I haven't killed an indoor plant in a few years now, so I'm taking it as a sign to try something more advanced.  In fact, one of my 2017 goals is to start a small garden.  In order to achieve this easier, I have divided that goal into smaller goals such as: 
The Dollar Tree, where everything is only $1 (or less on specific items), has stocked their shelves in preparation for spring.  I purchased some Seed Starter Greenhouses, Seed Starting Potting Mix, and several packets of seeds (4 for $1).  *Not shown are the packets for tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and cayenne pepper because I had already opened them to seed. 
 A couple of weeks ago I also took my celery stump and put it in water until it grew roots.  I then transplanted it to a pot.  It has shot up!  I'm impressed and excited to start having my own celery growing in my home!  I also previously planted a couple of tomato seeds in a pot to see if anything would come of it.  I'm excited to say that I now have tomato seedlings!  Below is a picture of everything I have started so far:
Pardon the condensation on the greenhouses.
Speaking of the Dollar Tree, I went ahead and bought some extra items to give as a gift.  I have a new found love of the Dollar Tree store.  There aren't many places out there where you can find items for only $1.  
Gift idea:
Large Green basket         $1                  
Seed Starter Greenhouse $1  
Seed Potting Mix             $1
Spade                             $1
Cultivator                        $1
Gardening Gloves            $1
Flower Pot                      $1
4 packs of flower seed     $1  
                           Total    $8.00 (not incl. tax)   

2017 is underway!   I'm proud of myself for planning out my goals and putting them into motion.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Planning for Your Best New Year

It's a New Year, and with a new year comes new resolutions, a fresh start, a blank slate.  

I don't know about you, but I get a feeling of relief as a shrug off the old year and a sense of excitement as I think of the possibilities the new year may bring!  I begin thinking of all the things I hope to accomplish, but I tend to fail or forget my goals if I don't write them down.  If we want a successful new year, we must write down and plan it out.  Greatness doesn’t happen by itself. We need to put in the effort to make it happen and it all begins with having a solid plan.  Here are some of my tips to kicking off this year right:

Write Down Your Goals
And Break Large Goals Into Smaller Goals
I said it above and I'll say it again.  It is important to write our goals down, make ourselves accountable by seeing it in black and white.   

First things first.  Get a planner, and in your planner, write down what your goals are for the year. Remember that you need to have realistic, achievable goals. For example: instead of just having a goal to lose weight, you might have a goal to lose twenty pounds. You can then break your goals down into smaller achievable goal steps.  For example: to lose those twenty pounds, you could make a smaller goal step to lose five pounds in three months (3 month increments with 5 lbs each increment = 20 lbs in 12 months). 

Perhaps your goal is to save $1200 US for the year, which would mean saving $100 per month.  Break it down into smaller goals.  Instead of seeing it as $100 per month, see it as $24 or $25 per week.  Not only will you end the year achieving your goal, but you will surpass it.

If your goal is to pay off debt, GREAT!  You can do that by making sure you have cut back on your spending first.  Then, put your bills in order from the least amount to greatest amount.  Make a goal to pay off the smaller bill first.  That doesn't mean to skip payment on your larger debt bills.  You have to pay those too, but make larger payment amounts to the smaller bills a priority.  Once one is paid off, move the priority to the next and so on.  Before you know it, your debt will be gone! 
To help you with this, I have a free 2017 Planner for you to download.  

Start Planning Your Meals
Something that’s going to make your life easier is meal planning. I have been doing this since the start of November and I can honestly say it has tremendously helped.  Meal planning takes so much stress out of your day. Instead of wondering what you’re going to make for dinner each night, which can sometimes end up with eating out somewhere, sit down one day a week or at the beginning of the month and plan out your meals.  I will go into further detail with money saving tips on this topic in an upcoming blog post. 

Create a Way to Track Your Progress
Last, but not least, find a way to track your progress for whatever you want to accomplish this year. For example, if you want to read 100 books, use

Goodreads.  Set Your Reading Goal

For other goals, try using a journal to track your progress, an online app, or your planner.  You can also easily track a number of things by creating a spreadsheet. 
You don’t have to set goals with no way of reaching them or spend your year stressed out. There are things you can do to make the New Year a great one. Take the time to plan ahead so that you can have the best year yet.

Don’t forget to grab your 2017 Planner!!