Friday, September 26, 2014

Saving Pennies

One topic I have discussed many times before is budgeting and finances.  My family of four lives on just one income.  Our decision to do this, while difficult at times, just made the most sense for our family.  I have been able to focus on my children, my household, and most of all, my husband.  Living on one income in a two income society takes a lot of financial planning and budgeting on my part.  I dedicate hours every week to working on my budget alone.  This includes financial goals, plans to pay off certain debts, grocery lists, and building our savings and college funds.  Here is a list of some of the things that my family does to save money.

  • Have a garage sale!  Most of us have so much clutter it's not even funny!  If you haven't used an item in over a year, unless it a cherished family heirloom or holiday decor, you probably don't need it!
  • Necessities must come first!  Put your wants on hold!  When paying bills, home, transportation, insurance, and utilities are first!  Contact your cable, internet, cell, and credit card companies to see if there is any discount or rewards program you can take advantage of!  Sometimes if you are in good standing they will let you skip a month or two if you are having financial hardships.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!  So basic, yet so important!  Find ways to reuse items in your house that you may think are trash!  I reuse lots of different things, like milk jugs for water, plastic planters for next year's seedlings, toilet paper rolls for Girl Scout crafts, etc.
  • Cook in bulk!  Instead of buying prepackaged foods liked mashed potatoes, buy a big bag of potatoes, cook them, mash them, and freeze them into small containers.  Not only are you saving money, but you are giving your family food that is better for them!  When you reheat, feel free to flavor them any way you'd like!
  • Skip the meat!  By omitting meat from your dinner plans 2-3 days per week, you will be saving a nice chunk of change.  Plus, read meats are meant to bulk you up, so you will also be watching your waist line without even trying!  Try different pasta and rice dishes, or one pot meals.  We try to make meat an addition to a meal, versus the main star (like cheesy chicken and rice casserole).  
  • Every 3 months, review your cell phone contract, cable contract, and auto insurance.  You should always be shopping around for a better rate.  Also, if you mention to your current company that you found a better rate, sometimes they'll compete to keep you and lower your rate!
  • Trim your dryer hose.  A longer hose can become obstructed causing your dryer to work harder.  A shorter, unobstructed hose will save you about $25 per year on your electric bill!
  • Laundry detergent is super powerful!  Use half the recommended amount unless you have some serious stains!  Also, try making your own detergent!  
  • Check out your cart once more before you check out.  Maybe that box of cookies or case of soda was an impulse purchase?  Cut out $10 per week of impulse purchases and put that money into savings!  Save money and your figure!
  • Shop at the end of season!  You can take advantage of clearance items such as seasonal/holiday decor, and seasonal clothes for next year.
  • Shop clearance racks!  Most of the time you'll find shirts that were part of an outfit but have lost their bottoms.  Take advantage of some serious savings!  (My favorite clearance racks are at Target and Babies R' Us).

Make sure to check out how I make a few extra bucks from the comfort of my own home!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Do the Monster Patch...

When you live on a budget, or just the one income like my family does, you tend to find creative ways to remain frugal without sacrificing a whole lot.  One way my family saves is to buy used.  Every so often, someone will gift you a big bag of kid's clothes that may or may not be wearable.  We tend to get a lot of jeans with holes in the knees handed down to us.  My son has no problem wearing jeans with holes in them, but as the temperatures begin to drop, I want to make sure every part of my kids stays warm......even their knees!  One day I was scouring Pinterest for creative DIY ideas, and I came across a pin for these adorable monster knee patches.  I had originally pinned it for my 14 year old sister-in-law because I thought she'd love them, but realized that I have a little monster who'd love them equally.  So I grabbed the pants, grabbed my embroidery floss, grabbed some felt, and got to work!

I grabbed a pair of the free jeans I was given for my son.  Besides the whole in the knee (which part of me thinks was intentional), these jeans are in great shape.

I grabbed blue and white felt.  The blue is for the inside of the mouth, the white for the teeth.  You can use any colors, but blue is my son's favorite color.  I cut zig zags in the white to look like teeth.  Don't flip out if they aren't straight (mine aren't).  Monsters do not have straight teeth!

There were some loose threads, so I trimmed around the hole just a little bit.  After I took the picture, I ended up making the whole just a tad bit bigger so you could really see the teeth.

With the embroidery floss, I hand stitched the felt into place.  I went at this blind since I couldn't see the back of my work, so I apologize for it being crooked!  I also made two X's for the eyes.  When my son (who is 4) woke up this morning, he went crazy over his cool "new" pants!  I think this is an adorable, creative way to fix up old jeans.  I wonder if my soon-to-be 10 year old would like this too?
To find other recycled crafts like this one, head over to Art Bar!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sausage & Apple Bake

Autumn is by far, my absolute favorite season!  Every year, once September 1st rolls around, I pack away all of the summer decor, and I pull out all of my autumn things.  My house quickly turns from bright colors and floral scents, to burlap and mulled cider.   And as the weather starts to cool down, there are certain recipes that I feel best represent not only the onset of autumn, but that final stretch of harvesting crops from my garden.  My mom's Sausage & Apple Bake......that is one of those recipes.

Sausage & Apple Bake
3 apples (I used Gala)
2 lbs. sausage
2 sweet potatoes
2 onions
2 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme

Wash and peel your sweet potatoes.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (F).  Chop up your sweet potatoes into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes.  Drizzle with 1/2 tbsp. canola oil, place into a baking dish, and bake for approx. 10 - 15 minutes.  As the potatoes are baking, wash and dry your apples.  Chop up the apples, onions, and sausage into 1/2 - 1 inch chucks  In a bowl, mix the remaining oil, seasoning, and your chopped items.  Pour into a baking dish and bake for 30 - 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

No Real Sense of Direction

I'm by no means "new" to the world of blogging.  I've had 2 blogs in the past, one of which I would consider somewhat successful.  However, it's pretty easy to lose yourself and your sense of direction.  I have taken about a year off from my blogs.  This has given me time to focus elsewhere in my life, but then you risk losing your footing in the blog world.  So here I am again.  It's just after 9am......I'm sitting at my kitchen table, windows open, nice cool pre-autumn breeze coming through the window, pumpkin wax melting in front of me, coffee still smoking hot, my oldest is already off to school, my youngest has just come stumbling out of his room with his new birthday present in hand.......and I'm ready to get started again!  I have no clue where this blog journey is going to take me this time, but I'm excited to see.  Hopefully you will find some humor and joy in my journey to figure out myself, raise my kids without screwing them up too badly, manage my household and finances, and make my husband as happy as I possibly can. we go!