Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My Frugal Week

There is a shortage of substitute teachers in our school district right now, which has been to my advantage. Last week I worked every day for the second week in a row. This week we are out for fall break, so I'm grateful I worked every day the last two weeks. 

Last Sunday I made vegetable soup again for lunches throughout the week. We ate that for lunches until it was gone. As a result my pantry has seen a reduction in inventory, which is a good thing to use up those items. 

One night I made spaghetti for dinner, which also used up some random smaller jars of sauce we had on hand. 

This week I perused the grocery store sale ads online. Yesterday we ended up at Kroger and found two pizzas on markdown for $2.49 each and several yogurts marked at 39¢ and 19¢.  

We also found three organic brown rice spaghetti for 25¢ each. 

My daughter found two shirts and two pairs of shorts for me while thrift shopping this week. She says because she is consistent with her thrifting that she is able to find things that I might not find only going once or twice every few months. So, consistency is the key to finding what you need. 

Becky over at Frugal Measures was writing about that when speaking about finding dehydrators second hand this week. 

This week my daughter will celebrate her birthday, so I'm making her this cake: Cherry Dr. Pepper cake

 I bought her a special pillowcase for her birthday from Patsy at Pillowcases by Patsy who also runs the A Working Pantry blog. Bailey was thrilled with the pillowcase and I gave it to her early, so she could enjoy it all week. 

Our movie night this week consisted of one of the $2.49 pizzas while we watched Rainman on YouTube for free. 

We are going to enjoy our week on fall break and go out to eat at least once for a birthday dinner. I hope you have a great week. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Saving Money on Gasoline

My daughter and I both saw a noticeable decrease in our gas expenditures this summer due to the fact that we stayed home more this year than in previous summers. 

With less income we have less money to spend and that keeps us at home more than it normally would. And this simple fact has proven to me that one of the best ways to save money on gas is to stay home as much as possible. 

One reason my gas expenditure dropped a great deal during the summer months was because we were not driving back and forth to school/work every day. 

There are many ways to save money on gasoline. Some of those include: making sure your tires are properly inflated, taking advantage of grocery store gas programs, filling the car up with regular gas instead of premium, making sure the car is tuned up properly and using the right type of motor oil, and driving at constant speeds. All of these ideas will help save money on gas. 

Saving money on gas is not as easy as it sounds since we have no control over the price we pay at the pump. The only thing we can do to minimize our use of gas is to use less. And we can do that by walking to our destinations when possible, staying home instead of going out shopping for recreation or entertainment, among other things.

These are some ways that I save money on gasoline and make it go farther: 

Tune Up Car. A tune up allows your car to run more efficiently, which results in more miles to the gallon.  I had my car tuned up in February of this year and immediately noticed a one mile increase in my gasoline consumption.

Drive Slower. The slower you drive your car, the less gas your car will burn. Driving at 55 miles per hour will save you two miles per gallon over driving 65 miles per hour.

Begin driving as soon as the engine is started. Modern engines don't require as much time to warm up. The engine actually warms up more quickly once the car is operating.

Reconsider Air Conditioning. Running your air conditioner will use up more gasoline than simply using the air vent, but I have to say I doubt we could go without air because we live where it stays humid from March through November.

Combine Errands. This one practically goes without saying. Combine all of your errands into one trip and take the most efficient route to complete them. We drive 30 miles round trip to make a trip to town, so when I combine errands I am saving myself a great deal of money.

Maintain speed limits - Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour. For every five miles per hour you drive over 60 miles per hour you will be paying more for your gasoline. 

Use cruise control to maintain your speed on the highway, which will improve your fuel economy. 

Pay Attention While You’re Driving - minimize braking by anticipating traffic conditions. Be alert for drivers in front of you who are slowing down and for red lights. Letting up on the gas can help minimize the need for braking.

Keep Tires Properly Inflated - It's important to have a proper tier gauge in order to check your tires unless you have one of the modern cars that tell you the tire pressure.

Without a tire gauge, the only way to check the tire pressure here would be to pay $1.50 to one of those machines at a gas station and hope that it works.  I've been to more than one that does not work.

There are no full service gasoline stations and our Sears Auto Center, where I bought my tires and could get a free tire pressure check, closed down last spring, so having my own tire gauge is the best solution.

Avoid Jackrabbit Starts and Stops - Avoiding these will help save on gas and also prolong the life of your brakes.

Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra one hundred pounds in your trunk can reduce you fuel economy by up to two percent.
Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.
Avoid unnecessary idling - I know in the hot summertime it’s easy to want to leave your car running while you need to wait on something, but that will cost you more in gas money. It not only wastes fuel and costs you money, but it also adds pollution to the air. Turn your engine off it you anticipate having to wait any length of time. 

Don't buy Premium Gasoline. Len Penzo conducted an experiment where he bought premium gasoline for his automobile for 30 days. Turns out he averaged one mile per gallon less than when he used lower octane gasoline. You can read about Len's experiment here.

Buy 100% Gas. I keep records of my purchases of gasoline and have found consistently that when I can find and purchase 100% gasoline that I can get more miles to the gallon on a tank of gas. Sometimes 100% gasoline is hard to find and sometimes it costs more. In our area it costs about 10 cents more per gallon over 85% ethanol, but the increase in price is worth it to me because I can get more miles out of a tank of gas.

Use Reward Perks. Does your grocery store offer fuel reward perks?  The Food City and Kroger grocery stores here offer fuel reward perks for customers. I have written about them before here if you want to read about this program.  Your savings per gallon depends on how much you spend in grocery money, but every little bit helps. I know I personally have saved as much as 25¢ per gallon by using this program. 

What are some of the ways you save on gas?

~ Living within our Means ~
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Saturday, October 5, 2019

My Frugal Week ~

Image Credit

Even though fall is upon us and the leaves are falling, we are still having summer like temperatures here. This week broke several records with two days reaching 100 degrees this week. Last night at 7 o'clock it was still 90 degrees here. We've been running our air conditioner as if it were summertime.

This week I was able to work everyday, which will be wonderful on payday. As usual I packed my lunch and brought water every day. On Sunday I made vegetable soup, which I brought with me each day. It's cheaper and easier than buying lunch out each day. 

To save money, we've eaten all of meals from home this week and I've been making more plant based dishes both for financial and health reasons. With the heat this week we've been having a lot of salads for dinner, October beans, baked sweet potatoes, and plenty of raw vegetables like baby carrots, peppers, and cucumbers.  

I took out my produce drawers this week and washed them well and returned them to the fridge. One apple in there had a bad spot and leaked juice all over and was a sticky mess.  I'd been meaning to clean them out anyway, so this was perfect timing. Getting rid of the bad apple helped save the other apples from the same fate, which saves money. 

My car alerted me that one of my tires was low on air pressure this week. Lucky me, I was subbing in the auto shop at school the day that happened. (what timing!) One of my friends pulled it into the shop and filled the tire for me. 

Last weekend we earned extra money for pet sitting three dogs. 

This week I've watched several YouTube videos that taught me something I needed to know. I'm blessed and grateful that we have such a great resource right at our fingertips. 

This week I watched This is Us on Hulu. We only pay 99¢ each month for our subscription, which was a end of the year/holiday special last year. Hopefully they will offer the same deal this year.  

My daughter and I are planning a trip in November, so she can attend the wedding of a friend. We've been saving money since she first heard about it and we are looking forward to the time away.

On Friday I took my car to the tire shop to get it checked out for our trip. They rotated my tires and filled them up, and aligned the front end. It was also time for an oil change, so I had that done and had a new air filter put in, so the car is ready for our trip in November. 

How was your week?

~ Living within our Means ~
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Friday, September 27, 2019

Frugal Friday ~ September 27, 2019

If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the key to success.
Benjamin Franklin

We made it to Friday! This week I subbed two days and brought lunch and drinks both days. 

One day last week we went to a yard sale where the lady was just trying to get rid of everything and was offering up free office supplies. Bailey got several things and picked up this free bag of pencils for me. 

Thus week I sold one item on eBay.

And I also won a Tetley Tea mason jar glass cup in a giveaway. 

The week went by quickly and we will be pet sitting this weekend. I hope you all have a great one!

~ Living within our Means ~
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Transcript Frugal Workshop Podcast #10 - The Frugal Mindset

Good Monday morning to all my listeners. I hope your week is off to a great start. I'm your host, Belinda Richardson and I want to welcome you to the Frugal Workshop podcast. I'm so glad you decided to join us.

Today’s main topic is going to be about The Frugal Mindset, which is really about changing your mind to think in a frugal way the majority of the time. A mindset is an established set of attitudes, which will allow you the benefit of thinking differently than other people.  

People with a fixed mindset believe that their traits are just givens, and that they have a certain amount of smarts and talent and nothing can change that. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, see their qualities as things that can be developed through their dedication and effort. Which means that you can have a frugal mindset with proper learning and practice. 

During the times in my life when money has been tight and there was no wiggle room, I knew I had to be extra careful or we would suffer the consequences. This really helped me to use up things, make do with what I had and simply do without some things. This forced to bring my skills to the forefront and learn how to do a lot for myself. My cooking from scratch skills really became honed during this time. My daughter knows that if she finds something on markdown that I’ll be able to make a meal out of it, so she does not hesitate to pick up these markdowns she finds. 

I’ve always mended a lot of our clothes instead of buying new. I’ve made a lot of cloth pads using fabric that we repurposed from other articles of clothing. 

Living this way requires self-discipline, skills, and some determination. We need to learn to make do with what we have or do without. Becky over at Frugal Measures writes a lot about continuing to work on our skills. She says learning new skills regularly will bless our lives. 

The real key to the frugal mindset is the daily decisions you make every day. The decision to make toast at home instead of buying a doughnut at the coffee shop. To make coffee before you leave for work and take it with you. 

Use up that brand of coffee or tea you have on hand instead of simply tossing and wasting it. I recently used up a tube of toothpaste my daughter didn’t like until it was gone. Don't throw these items away. If not you, then find someone who will use it up and not waste it. 
Learn how to cook cheaper, tougher cuts of meat instead of buying a steak. Or if you can find ground beef on sale use that instead of buying expensive steak or roast. We don’t buy steak or roast in our home due to the cost. We find ground beef on sale and manage to make delicious meals with that instead. 

Sew the hole in the seam of your shirt instead of running out to buy a new shirt. Plant some lettuce or greens outside your home instead of spending money on those items from the store.

Your daily decisions will make all the difference in your mindset. You need to get creative and think about ways to solve a problem in order to fix things or make do without. Recipe substitutions come to my mind. Fixing things around the house like a new handle for a flyswatter that’s broke. Reusing large industrial sized cans to repurpose into things like a kitchen utensil holder or a rocket stove. 

The frugal mindset is not for those people who are unmotivated and lack the desire to live frugally. You have to be willing to put in the work to make this mindset and lifestyle work. 

During the Great Depression, people already had many of the skills with which to live frugally. Many didn’t have indoor plumbing or electricity. They did not have the many distractions we have available to us today. So, they made time to use their creativity to come up with solutions for the problems they encountered and they worked hard to make their lives better.  

With the technology we have today it is possible to learn how to repair things, make things, and all types of skills about how to do so many things. Take the time to use these resources available to you and see what new skills you can learn. 

The frugal mindset can be hard, but with some time and practice, it can become second nature to you. You will just naturally look for solutions that do not involve spending money or purchasing unnecessary items. You will just use your creativity and skills to solve your problems instead of running to the store to buy something new or throwing away an item that could be repaired. Even better, you may learn to be content with the things you have.  

In The News…

There was an interesting article in the news this week on NPR about vanilla. I’ll include a link to the article in the resources section for this podcast. The article states that the vanilla boom is making people in Madagascar wealthy, although there is also a lot of theft going on as well. 

Marianne Tulis, a resident of Chattanooga, TN, died on August 2nd, 2019. An elegant woman with classical tastes, Marianne taught herself how to invest by reading the Wall Street Journal. 
Marianne, a naturally frugal person, had told family members that she just wanted to be buried in a pine box. So last month, her two sons bought $71 worth of pine plywood at the Lowe's and built their mother's coffin together.
I’ve included a link to this story in the resources for this podcast. The story is told by her grand daughter Abigail and is quite touching. 
Christmas is 92 days from Today!

This past weekend I found a couple of presents at a consignment sale we attended. So that is my tip for this week. Brand new items can be found at yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, second hand stores, etc. You will definitely save money. Be sure to look at unusual places for Christmas, which will save you money buying new items second hand versus buying new items at a retail store. 

In Conclusion

I hope that this podcast has been helpful to you and I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen. I hope you have a great week and we will see you back here next Monday. :)

Resources Used In This Podcast

Frugal Measures Blog

Vanilla Boom in Madagascar

Hand Built Coffin

~ Living within our Means ~
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Monday, September 23, 2019

Frugal Workshop Podcast #10 - The Frugal Mindset

Good Monday morning to all my readers. 

I just wanted to give you a heads up that podcast #10 is live right now and you can listen to it right here. 

The topic this week is about the frugal mindset. 

I hope you enjoy listening. 

Tomorrow I'll post a transcript of the podcast for those who enjoy that format instead. 

I hope you have a great day!

~ Living within our Means ~
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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Yard Sale Saturday

This weekend we not only went to several yard sales, but also to the Sweet WeePeets semi-annual consignment sale. 

Yesterday most items were 75% off because it was the last day of the sale. 

We went when they opened the doors and found some really great stuff. 

Here are the items I picked up yesterday.

Pottery Barn Pillow Shams
Was $5 ~ paid $1.25

Pyrex Bowl  
Was $1.50 ~ paid 40¢

Sistema Snack Container
Was $2.00 ~ paid 50¢
Sells for $19.99 on Amazon

Cynthia Rowley File Folders
Was $6 - paid $1.50

Marjolein Bastin Soap Dispenser
Originally sold at Hallmark
Was $3.00 ~ paid 75¢

Brand new unopened magnetic notepad 
North Pole Christmas
Was $1.00 - paid 25¢
This will go in my Christmas gift closet

Was $1.50 - paid 40¢
Will use as liner for cat bed

And of course I found a lot of books, which you know I love. All were 75% off the price listed. 

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
Was $1.50 - Paid 40¢

The Kitchen Table Book:
1,427 Kitchen Cures and Pantry Potions
for Just About Every Health and Household Problem
Was $3.00 - paid 75¢

Top Secret Recipes
Step by Step
by Todd Wilbur
Was $3.00 - paid 75¢

Better Homes & Gardens 
Cooking with Cheese
Was $1.00 - paid 25¢

Better Homes & Gardens 
Fix It Fast Cookbook 
Was $2.00 - paid 50¢

All Recipes Dinner Tonight
Was $1.50 - paid 40¢

Electric Eats: 
Cooking Under Pressure
Was $2.00 - paid 50¢

Miserly Moms 
by Jonni McCoy
Was $2.00 - paid 50¢

The Tin Whistle Tune Book 
with Tin Whistle
Was $7.00 - paid $1.75

This was a great consignment sale, which they hold two times per year. I spent $14 and some change and had a great time. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Transcript Frugal Workshop Podcast #9 - The Frugal Road to Wealth

Good Monday morning to all my listeners. I hope your week is off to a great start. I'm your host, Belinda Richardson and I want to welcome you to the Frugal Workshop podcast. I'm so glad you decided to join us.

Today’s main topic is going to be about the frugal road to wealth. 

Considering you are listening to a frugal podcast you are probably already on the straight and narrow path to wealth. You’re actively living the frugal lifestyle and doing what is necessary in order to make that happen. 

Know this, however, there is no quick road to wealth unless you receive an inheritance or win the lottery and the odds of either one of those happening are pretty slim. 
There are many ways to accumulate wealth slowly, but they require hard work and discipline. The more effort you are willing to put in and the more disciplined you become, the sooner you will begin to see wealth happening for you. 
Having a list of goals to work towards is one step that will guide you on the road to wealth. Having a plan to pay off debt for example will help motivate you to become debt free. Not having goals towards paying off your debt could lead to even more debt, which is the last thing you want. 
When my daughter was in second grade, I explained to her that learning math was important and every year she would learn something new and that she would be building a foundation. 
If she missed any of the steps in between she would struggle with math later on in school because she had missed out on an important step. So, it was very important to pay attention and learn all the steps, so she would have a solid foundation in math. 
Having goals will help you on the road to wealth and should be considered important building blocks on the journey. 
Know this, if you have credit card debt, you are traveling away from wealth and not towards it. Is that the direction you want to be heading? You can always change direction and start moving yourself toward wealth and the frugal life will help you along the way. 
You may not even need to know the methods to living the frugal life because you already have them memorized. If you remember anything from my podcast today I hope it is this: Frugal living is a pathway to freedom, which puts money in your pocket, so let it guide you on the road to wealth.
There can be so many roadblocks when it comes to living the frugal life. Amy Dacyczyn said that you needed to have made all the right choices in the years beforehand. As we’ve discussed before, many people believe it is perfectly normal and reasonable to finance things they don’t need and that credit cards are an acceptable way to borrow money when expenses outpace their salary. 

So many people are left poor because they are extravagant with their money needed the latest and greatest of items. 

Frugality means spending your money wisely and avoiding unnecessary expenses. Remember we need to be using our resources wisely and that includes both money and time. 

Do you ever eat out when you could cook, buy new clothes when the ones you already have are fine, or buy expensive electronics you don’t really need? This undermines all the hard work you do! To build wealth you must save the money you earn.

There are no shortcuts to building long term wealth. Delaying gratification may be one of the biggest factors to overcome in order to build wealth. People are wise to realize that delaying gratification in the short term can lead to a much bigger payoff in the long term. It will take discipline, but resisting the urge now will be rewarded later and ultimately bring more peace of mind. 

Studies have shown that those who accumulate wealth tend to be more frugal and live less opulent lifestyles than their peers, even though they can afford it

While it is never too late to get started, the one advantage of starting at an earlier age is time. Millennials could enjoy the added benefit of the power of compounding interest over a longer period, and so build lasting wealth. 

Even when armed with the best frugal knowledge, you will still need to have that frugal mindset to change your behavior and make it stick.  Keeping your children in the loop and make them feel like they’re a part of your frugal journey, which will help give you the motivation to keep going. Before you know it, your frugal journey will become a new habit.

Let’s discuss taking your lunch to work. I know I mention regularly in my blog that I pack my lunch for work all week. That doesn’t happen without some pre planning on my part. I have to make sure I make time to spend in the kitchen to get ready for that. I like to do that on the weekend or at least the night before. I might have to make tuna, egg, or ham salad for sandwiches. I might be taking a salad and will want to make that up in advance. 

Let’s discuss your automobiles. In order to obtain wealth on a less than average income you’ll need to have less than average expenses. 

One of the biggest expenses in our home are our cars. The cost of the car, yearly license plate and registration fees, gas, oil changes, regular maintenance takes a big chunk out of our budget. 

Some of the ways we can lower these expenses include shopping around for the cost of insurance, doing car maintenance ourselves, and driving less. 

Remember when families used to go on Sunday drives? Yea, we don’t do that here.  Going out to eat? Stay home and cook a meal there and save yourself the money spent eating out and the gas and wear and tear on your car. A win-win situation. 

Other habits that could compromise your path to wealth include cable tv, smoking, drinking, video games, etc. Many of these habits stand between a person and the road to wealth. 

Real wealth comes from spending less than you earn, again and again, month after month, year after year. It’s a slow and steady process. It isn’t always exciting, but it is a sure fire way to reach your financial goals.

Did You Know?

According to Business Insider, the cost of college textbooks has risen over 67% in the last ten years with some students spending as much as $500 per semester just for textbooks.

How did the college textbook publishing industry become so expensive you ask. 

Almost 80% of the textbook industry is dominated by five major publishers, and they're doing everything in their power  to make sure that students continue to buy new textbooks.

When I went back to college in an effort to save money I bought used textbooks. Many college students started doing this and also renting college textbooks as both options were cheaper than buying them. 

Publishers took notice of this trend and started bundling new textbooks with special codes, which forced students to buy new textbooks at the full retail price if they wanted access to this online information. 

One study reported that 67% of students skipped buying textbooks altogether because of rising prices and restrictive codes, and that's not the only thing publishers have done to get students to buy new textbooks.

There used to be a new edition update every five years, but now, the production cycle has been shortened to two or three years. New editions have reordered chapters or changes in page numbers, making it harder to use older editions, and they can cost up to $150 more, but students have some other options to consider if they want to avoid expensive textbooks.

Some schools are starting to use open-source educational materials instead of traditional textbooks. That way, students can access open license texts, digital media, and other learning materials for a fraction of the cost, but the movement is still in its infancy.

So far, only 6% of schools are using these open resources. It may be awhile before we see textbook prices drop, so for now, you may have to shell over $150 for a textbook you may not even read.

Don’t Throw Macaroni at Your Neighbor

The other day while I was subbing in math, the teacher had me correct student papers as we went along, so they could correct them. I was grading one student’s paper when another student at her table came to have her paper graded. 

Immediately I suspected this student had copied her answers from the previous student because all of her answers were correct but they were all shifted down to the wrong line under the next question. So, I looked at her and very gently asked her if she had copied her answers from someone else and she told me no. 

So, I explained to her that they are supposed to show their work and she hadn’t done that. She told me she threw her paper away. I told her that was OK and to go get the paper she threw away.

She then told me she erased the answers before she threw the paper away. I told her that was OK to go get the paper anyway. She then started to change her story again to say her friend had actually helped her with the answers.  

Needless to say, this girl had cheated, so I simply moved her to a different table and explained to her again that she needed to show her work. She would have saved herself a lot of trouble if she had just admitted she cheated when  originally asked her. 

Christmas is 99 days Away!

I know that Christmas is still a few months away, but a little bit of advanced planning now will save you money by the time Christmas rolls around. 

On that note, I bought four Christmas presents this past week. I had $30 in credit from Amazon, so I used that for two of the gifts. 

Also, I have one week off for fall break in October at which time I’m planning to make/sew a couple of other gifts. 

If you’re wanting to make vanilla extract for gifts for the holiday you’ll need at least two months for the vanilla to cure. 

In Conclusion

I hope that this podcast has been helpful to you and I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen. I hope you have a great week and we will see you back here next Monday. :)

~ Living within our Means ~
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