Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow Day ~ Good Day for Chili


Today marks the 3rd day in a row we've had no school due to inclement weather. With snow on the ground it made the perfect day for chili, and I had several containers of leftovers that I could sneak into the chili pot.  

Onions & tomatoes from the tacos this week, canned tomatoes left from some I put in the meatloaf this week, two small containers of spaghetti sauce, and the leftover beans from one day this week. 

This is a good example of the "use it up" philosophy we subscribe to at the Frugal Workshop. No food waste here this week and no one was the wiser that these things were added. 

Here is what the chili looked like afterwards: 



Here is my daughter's bowl:


Afterwards, we settled down to play a game of Crazy Eights. 



School has been cancelled again for tomorrow, and law enforcement officials are telling people to stay off the roads as they are dangerous.  Looks like I will have gas leftover at the end of this week too, just like last week. I think by the time this is over I am going to have cabin fever, lol. 

Hope you all are staying warm where ever you are. 

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Frugal Week


Monday was Martin Luther King day, so we had the day off from school and work. We decided to stay home and did not spend any money that day. 

For lunch on Monday I used up the last three salmon patties from the refrigerator. I had to cut open the bottle of tarter sauce to get the last bit out, but there was enough in there to cover the three sandwiches. I really wish they would design their bottle to make it easier to get the last little bit out of there, but until they do, this worked. 



I was able to work on Tuesday and then due to snow and cold temperatures we had a snow day on Wednesday and then again on Friday, so no school or work those days. 

I've actually ended the week with half a tank of gas leftover, which is very unusual for me, so this will be a savings for me this next week as well. 

Since we were at home Wednesday it was the perfect day to make homemade waffles. 



On Friday, since I had the day off from work, I scrubbed the kitchen down really well. I scrubbed the stove until it shined and swept and mopped the kitchen floor and vacuumed the rug in there. 

I brought sandwiches with me when we finally got out on Saturday afternoon for my daughter's weekly volunteer duty. Afterwards, we went to Publix to pick up a few essentials. 

At Publix, I was able to purchase milk for 5¢, believe it or not, there was a coupon in the Sunday paper recently for a free gallon of milk, up to $4.00, if you bought two boxes of cereal. I bought two boxes of Post Raisin Bran, on sale at 2 for $5.00 and the milk was $4.05, so for $5.05 I bought 2 boxes of cereal and 1 gallon of milk, which I thought was a pretty good deal. :)

And then to the Dollar Tree for another loaf of 54¢ bread. 

We hauled our own garbage to the county dumpsters for free instead of paying someone to do it for us.

All breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were eaten at or came from home this week. 

Dinners this week included:

Monday: Beans & Franks, Corn.
Tuesday: Loaded Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, Green Peas.
Wednesday: Pizza Pasta, Green Beans with Onions & Potatoes
Thursday: Leftovers from Tuesday & Wednesday
Friday: Sausage Quiche, Broccoli
Saturday: Soup Beans, Collard Greens, Cornbread
Sunday: Smoked Sausage, Beans & Greens, Cornbread

Snacks were homemade too and included popcorn. 



Now here we are on Sunday afternoon and I have the thermostat set on 65 degrees, although at 53 degrees outside, it is warmer outside today than any other day this past week. We are sitting here reading the Sunday paper and clipping the coupons. Today was a good coupon day with four inserts. 

How has your week been so far? What frugal things have you done this week?

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saving Money on Heating ~ Tips to Stay Warm this Winter


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As I thought about what I wanted to write for this blog post, I looked at my back issues of the Tightwad Gazette. I noticed that Amy Dacyczyn didn't address this topic the way I would have, other than to discuss firewood mostly. 

Since we do not have a fireplace, that is not an option in our frugal home. So, I will be addressing other things you can do to save money in this area.

Lower your Thermostat - Lowering your thermostat will definitely help you to keep your heating bill low, but then you need to find other ways to keep warm. Here are some tips to help you stay warm while trying to save money.  


Insulation - Make sure your home is well insulated. Our home was insulated very well when it was built, which has saved us a lot of money over the years both with cooling and heating. This is harder to do in a home that you rent, but there are still things you can do to save money. 


Take a look at the blog, CT on a Budget.  Carol has some excellent tips and examples on how she has insulated her home and examples of the steps she has taken to lower her heating bills. 

Check for Drafts - If your home is drafty, your heating system is going to have to work more to compensate for the cold air, so it is necessary to do whatever you can to stop any drafts from coming inside. 


We have window air conditioners in our home and they definitely have drafts around them. We put towels in all the nooks and crannies of the a/c to keep the drafts out. We also cover our windows with either plastic wrap inside or blankets to keep the cold out.We also put a huge slab of Styrofoam on the outside of our French doors to keep the cold out.  

When we lived in an older home with older style windows, they were drafty! We covered all of the windows with plastic outside and and would take socks and stuff them between the glass and window frame to stop any drafts and those measures made a big difference in our electric bill.  

We have friends who lived in an old farm house and they used to take bales of hay and line the crawlspace under the house to keep the cold out.  

Reverse your Ceiling Fans. Here is a blog post I wrote about this very topic. Ceiling fans were created to be used in both cold and hot temperatures. In the winter time, they need to be reversed to allow the warm air to move down the walls and to the floor, which will make the room feel warmer. 

Be Active - The other day I was cleaning the kitchen and when I finally sat down to relax, I realized how warm I was even though it was actually cool in the house. So don't dismiss the idea of exercising or doing some chores to keep yourself busy and warm. 


Dress in layers - Wear warm clothes such as long pants and long sleeve shirts. Wear a hat if it is really cold since that is where a lot of heat escapes from your body. Wear socks and slippers. Put on a sweater or a light jacket. In extreme cold I have been know to even wear gloves in the house.


Close Rooms Not in Use - If you have a room you are not using either close the vent in that room or close the door, so you are not heating rooms unnecessarily. 


Warm Your Bed - Use a hot water bottle, or a rice pack, or cherry pit bed warmer to help keep your bed toasty warm at night. I've been saving my cherry pits for years, so that some day I will be able to make me a cherry pit bed warmer. I first learned about the idea in book from Mother Earth News. Other ideas include using an electric blanket or even a heating pad if you have one available.

Open Blinds & Curtains - Harness the power of the sun and open your blinds and curtains on the sunny side of the house, and when the sun shifts close them to keep the warmth inside.

Use Blankets - We have blankets in every location where someone sits in our home and we usually always have one on when we are sitting. It just makes good sense to stay warm by covering up like this.


Drink Warm Drinks - Hot tea or hot chocolate are both good drinks to keep your body from feeling so chilly. 


In the Kitchen - After I have baked something, I always leave my oven door open so the heat can escape into the house.


Invest in an Infrared Heater  - Consider investing in an infrared heater for your home. Here is a blog post I wrote on this topic last year. Infrared Heat  



There are many steps you can take to insure that you stay warm and save some money in the process. I hope my post has helped you come up with some ideas of your own as well. 

What are some of the ways you help to keep your home warm during a cold spell?


Belinda

CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Free Subscription to All You Magazine from Recyclebank

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I've had a free subscription to All You magazine for the past two years and I just renewed my subscription for a third year all at no cost to me thanks to Recyclebank


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Recyclebank is one of those online reward programs that rewards you for taking steps to help the environment by recycling. Here is a snippet from the website:


Recyclebank’s goal is to help people live more sustainably. We believe that individual actions, such as increasing recycling or learning about greener ways to purchase, consume or dispose of products, can add up to a big impact for our planet. 

 Earning points with Recyclebank is fairly easy. Usually I take the fun, interactive quizzes to earn points like this one, which took me less than 2 minutes to complete and earned me 25 points:



Once I earn enough points, I redeem those points for free magazine subscriptions, although they have other reward options to choose from. It takes very little time to earn enough for a free magazine subscription. A subscription to All You magazine is worth 400 points and that amount can be earned easily and quickly. 

This is another example of how we use reward programs to save money here at the Frugal Workshop. All You magazine has coupons inside that we clip and then use to save money on our grocery bill. 

Give it a try and see what you think. 

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kellogg's Family Rewards

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Do you belong to the Kellogg's Family Rewards (KFR) program? 

The way the program works is you collect codes from products with the Kellogg's Family Rewards Logo.  You then earn rewards just by consuming your favorite products. 

I know I've said it before, but my family loves Keebler Club Crackers. Inside every box of crackers is a code that I enter in at the KFR website. When I've accumulated enough points, I can redeem them for rewards. There is a list of rewards you can earn on the website. 

I currently have enough points accumulated to earn a coupon for Club crackers for $1.50 off a box, so this is a money saving rewards program for me. 

The website has a list of the products where you can find codes and include things like baking items, freezer items (like Morningstar Farms), breakfast items, cereal, snacks, crackers, cookies. 

KFR is definitely worth checking to see if any of the brands your family consumes are included in order to save yourself some money.  

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Monday, January 20, 2014

My Frugal Week


We've had a good week here at the Frugal Workshop this week. Here is a list of some of the frugal things we've done this past week.

I worked every day this past week and there are 20 possible workdays in this month, so I am off to a good start for the month.

On Wednesday, instead of buying the newspaper for 50¢ for the sale ads I looked them up online and shopped the sales that way. 

I went to Food Lion on Tuesday to stock up on canned vegetables, but to my dismay they had already switched the sales over to Wednesday, so I made a new plan. They had Ragu pasta sauce on sale for 99¢ per jar. I happen to have 7 coupons for 75¢ off two jars with me, so I bought 14 jars, which made them 62¢ each. I wasn't expecting that deal at all. 



January must be tomato or spaghetti sauce month because we've been getting really good deals on them this month. Remember the Hunts spaghetti sauce deal I found earlier this month?

On Wednesday, I went to Publix for their 1¢ sale and found Hunt's tomatoes on sale in the 28 ounce can for $1.99 Buy One Get One Free. I paid $1.00 for one and 99¢ for the other one, which is a stock up price for me, so I bought 20 cans. I was down to nine pint jars of home canned tomatoes, so this was great timing for my pantry. 



By the way, the 1¢ sale at Publix this week was a roll of Publix brand paper towels. The rule is you need to buy $10 worth of items to be able to purchase the 1¢ item each week. This has been a good thing for us in our home. We've gotten a half gallon of bleach, and cranberry juice, just to name a few items. 




Another item I stocked up on this week was Ajax detergent. Coupon.com has coupons for $2.50 off two bottles and Walmart sells it for $2.50 per bottle. I had two coupons and bought four bottles, so these were $1.25 each. These will come in handy for the two months during the summer when I do not earn a paycheck. 



Speaking of cheap detergent, you can use cheap detergent for other cleaning jobs around your home as well. I was reading another frugal living blog and read where this lady uses cheap dish washing detergent diluted with water to clean her commodes. I recently cleaned and reused a dish washing detergent bottle and filled it with half dish washing detergent and half water to clean my commode. I scrubbed a lot, so it was kind of soapy in there, but it worked! And, it was much cheaper than toilet bowl cleaner. 

I went to IGA one day this week and stumbled upon an unadvertised deal. There were four one-pound bags of pinto beans on the shelf for 65¢ each. What a great price! There were only four bags though and I bought them all. 





I bought a loaf of Nature's Own bread for 53¢. The Dollar Tree sells this bread for $1.00 per loaf, which is a good savings over the retail price. Coupon.com has coupons for 55¢ off a loaf, which is how I paid 45¢ plus 8¢ tax. 




I cooked my salmon patties in oil, for those members of my family who eat them, that I used to fry potatoes in earlier in the week, so no extra cost to reuse this oil.  Afterwards I disposed of it though as I didn't want to reuse it again since I had cooked it with fish.  




All breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were cooked and eaten at home this week or in the case of lunches, were brought to work. My daughter loves her egg muffin machine and uses it every morning. They actually look like the real thing too. I'm just hoping she does not get tired of them. Here is a photo of the salmon patties I made for dinner one night this week:





I took peanut butter sandwiches and water with us when we ran errands this week, so no desire to eat food out since we had food with us. 



Thanks to a tip from Brandy at the Prudent Homemaker, I watched the first show of season four of Downton Abby for free this week on PBS.org. 

On Saturday night we rented a movie from Redbox using a free rental code, so no cost there. 

I paid bills online this week as usual to avoid any postage costs. 

My daughter and I attended a free couponing class at the library on Saturday. Many of the things discussed I already knew, but there were a few things I learned and met a few people as well. 

What are some of the frugal things you've done this week?

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Saving Money on Gas Prices


What do you do to save on gasoline for your car or truck?

There are several things that I do that help me to save on gas prices. One way I save money is to use the Bi-Lo Fuel Perks program, which I wrote about here


I've also used the Shop Your Way rewards program from Kmart, which I wrote about here.


Today in my effort to save money I checked the TennesseeGasPrices.com website and see that I can purchase gasoline for $3.04 per gallon. 

Here are other articles I've written about saving on gas:



Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saving Money by Vacuum Sealing Food In Mason Jars


I first learned about vacuum sealing dry food in jars from a blog post written by Granny Miller. She uses the type of  jar sealer attachment that works with the Food Saver vacuum sealer system, which can be expensive. I've wanted the Food Saver system for a long time, but didn't want to put out the money for one. 

On her old website, which is now defunct, she once made a blog post which showed her vacuum sealing thirty pounds of sugar into a dozen or more mason jars. The idea intrigued me and has always stuck with me. I had read a book one time where the idea of dry canning in the oven was explained, but then read that the practice wasn't considered safe, so I discarded that idea. So, the idea of safely vacuum sealing dry food in jars has stayed in the back of my mind. 

Imagine being able to store things like sugar, beans, rice, dehydrated vegetables, chocolate, candy, etc. in jars on the shelves of your pantry for an extended amount of time. We make our home in Tennessee where the seasons are very humid and therefore have to take special measures to protect our food storage. With this system I can safely store items like flour, pasta, and beans on my pantry shelves and not have to worry about the humidity damaging my food supply.

Last month I was reading on the Grocery Budget 101 website and learned that Food Saver now makes a smaller, less expensive hand held device that you can use to seal dry food in jars.  

The device is called the Food Saver Fresh Saver Handheld Vacuum Sealing System, and they sell it on Amazon for $18.16, which is a much better price than the Food Saver appliance. 



In order to use the device you will also need a jar sealer and Amazon sells those in either the regular size for $9.60, and they even sell ones for wide mouth jars for $9.99. What I like about this system is that you do not have to use new canning lids, you can use ones that have already been used before, which is definitely a money saver. 


We know that our food cannot stay fresh forever, but with the right tools, we can certainly make it last as long as possible. I'm going to be working with my new vacuum sealer and will be putting pictures up in the near future of what I've accomplished with this new device, so please stay tuned. 

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saving Money on Cat Food



We have four cats here at the Frugal Workshop, and we spend approximately $25 per month on cat food.  We always purchase Purina Cat Chow because it is one of the cat foods made in the United States and not one of those made in China, which could cause harm to our cats. We normally pay $12.79 plus tax for the 16 pound bag of cat food and our four cats go through two bags of this each month.  

In our effort to try and save money on this expense, we looked into the Petco Pals Reward program at our local Petco. If a person is willing to utilize these rewards programs they can usually save a little bit of money and as we all know these small savings add up over time. 

 The price of the 16 pound Purina Cat Chow at Petco is $14.49, but with the Pals Reward card, which can be printed online, Petco took $3.00 off the price of the bag and also gives us 5% off of our purchases there. After you spend $100 at Petco, they send you a gift card for $5.00 off to use in their store. So we ended up paying $11.49 for this bag, which is $1.30 less that we would normally pay for the same bag at Walmart. 


When you first join the program, Petco allows members to receive a free can of Friskies or Fancy Feast cat food as a promotion. Here is our free can, which we paid 6¢ for sales tax.




Another way I have found to save money on cat food is the Purina Cat Chow rewards program, which can be located here: Purina My Perks.  The way this program works is you collect points through various activities, such as logging in every day and entering the UPC codes off your Purina cat food bags. Each UPC code is worth 3,000 points and for 30,000 points, or 10 bags, they will send you a coupon for a free bag of cat food. So, if my cats eat 2 bags of cat food a month, in 5 months, they will earn a free bag of cat food, so that is another savings there. 


Someone COULD argue that we would save the most money by not having any animals at all, but our furry friends bring a lot of joy, fun, and companionship to our lives, so they are worth it to me. And like most other things in our lives, we look for ways to save on this expense. 

Do you have any pets at your house? Have you found ways to save money on feeding them? I would love to hear about the ways you save money on pet food in the comment section. 

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Saving on Food ~ Buying in Bulk


I'm sad to report that my local Walmart is no longer carrying the 2 quart jar of Mt. Olive pickle relish that I blogged about here in May of 2011. I've looked around and couldn't find this product anywhere for sale near me and I even checked the Mt. Olive website, but no stores are selling this here. 

Fortunately for me, I have found another source for cheap pickle relish at Sam's Club. Now, because it is located in Chattanooga, we only go there a few times a year since we live 50 miles from there. But, this jar is big enough that it will last until we make our next trip in a few months. 


This is a photo of the one gallon jar of pickle relish, which I bought for $5.22, and is an even better deal than my previous source.  My previous source would have been $6.72 for a gallon, so a savings of $1.50 over my previous best price.

Now, you may be wondering about my Sam's club membership and the yearly cost of the $45 membership. The savings that I earn on medications, which I blogged about here, more than pays for the membership to Sam's each year. In fact, this month when I paid my membership fees they also gave me a $10 gift card, which I will apply to my next visit. 

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tightwad Tuesday




Since it was so cold this morning, I started off the day by making some hot chocolate using the recipe on the side of the Hershey's cocoa canister. 

Afterwards, I started some eggs on to boil for egg salad. 






Egg salad is what we had on the menu for lunch today


I use pickle relish in my egg salad and used up the last of a small bottle and then had to open up the new gallon jar that I bought recently. To make things easier here, I always decant some into a smaller jar, which is easier and lighter to pull out of the refrigerator and use as needed. 



Did you know that a Parmesan cheese lid will fit a regular mouth canning jar perfectly? I first learned about the idea on Pinterest. 







Isn't that neat? I'm going to put baking soda in the pint size jar and keep it next to the sink to clean the sink.

Dinner tonight is Red Beans & Rice, Broccoli, and Cornbread. I also made a gallon of sweet iced tea. 



I tried a new to me recipe for the Red Beans, which came from my Crock Pot cookbook. I really liked this recipe and will be adding it to our regular menu. 

Here is the recipe:

Vegetarian Red Beans & Rice

Ingredients:

1 pound dried red beans
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (I left this out because I did not have one)
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt (I always use 1 Tablespoon salt for 1 lb. dried beans)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I left this out)
2 cups hot cooked rice

Directions:

In a large pot, cover the beans with three times their volume of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then remove from heat. (I just soaked mine overnight) Cover and let stand for one hour and then drain. Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker except for the rice. Cover, cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice. 

We just got the call, Wednesday we will have another snow day, so no school or work for us three days in a row. I had a job to work on Wednesday too, so now I am missing work over this cold weather. I have another job lined up for Thursday, so I am hoping this cold weather moves out of here. 

What have you been up to on this cold Tuesday? 

Have you decided what you are going to prepare for dinner? 

I hope you have a warm and peaceful evening. :)

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”


Snow Day & Repairing Clothes


Today will be our 2nd snow day in a row due to snow & cold temperatures, so no school/work for us again today. As I am writing this it is only -1 degrees outside here, which is unusually low for Tennessee. We are staying indoors though and not spending any money, which is good for our budget.  

One of the ways we save money at the Frugal Workshop is by repairing our clothes when something happens to them. This extends the life of the item, so we can make the garment last longer and save money in the long run. I recently ran across this pin on Pinterest and wanted to share it. This is a perfect example of repairing clothing to make an item last longer. 



Angela over at Food Storage and Survival has an excellent post on how to repair a frayed shirt collar. This method will make a shirt last longer and definitely save money over buying a new shirt.

You can check it out here: Repair a Frayed Shirt Collar  

Have you repaired any of your clothing items lately to save money?

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011-2014.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”