Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Credit Card?

This will be a quick blog post today as we are on Spring Break this week. 

My daughter has an awards program coming up at school and we've been looking for an outfit for her to wear to the event. We ended up at the mall yesterday and did find an appropriate outfit for her. While she was trying the outfit on, the sales person was already trying to get me to open up a charge account with them. I politely declined her offer and told her we would be paying cash for our purchase.  

While she was ringing our purchase up at the cash register she again asked us if we wanted to open a charge account with them and I politely declined again and told her we were paying cash today. She was determined to get us to open a credit card with them, but I stood firm. Credit cards can be a useful tool, but they can also get a lot of people into trouble financially if they are not used with discipline. 

Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Deb Clothing Store Going Out of Business Sale


Deb Clothing Stores are closing nationwide. They recently closed their online site and moved all that merchandise into the stores, which is now 80 to 90% off the original price. 

I read online that each store will close when all inventory is gone. Today is the last day in our local store. If you have one near you I would check it out. 

We went yesterday and my daughter bought six shirts for $13, and one of them was 88¢. They are also selling jewlery, and any office supplies that they used in their stores, so it would be worth it to check it out.  :)

Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cars that go the Distance

For many shoppers,  choosing a car that can go the distance is an important way to save money. Keeping a car running beyond the 200,000 mile mark is possible with the proper care. 

That is good news for drivers, who are keeping their cars longer than ever before. There are long-term financial benefits of keeping a car for 200,000 miles. Research shows that reaching that milestone could result in savings of $30,000 or more. 

1. Find a Mechanic You Can Trust - One of the best ways to ensure that your car will be well taken care of for the long haul is to find a mechanic you trust. Building a relationship with him will help you push your car towards a long life. 

Believe it or not, not all mechanics have your best interest at heart. For example, Sears, Roebuck & Company has often been been accused of defrauding customers by performing unnecessary car repairs. When I was a new driver I bought one of their "free brake pads for the life of your car" promotions. The only problem with that was every time I went in to get new brake pads, they told me I needed new rotors. Eventually, Sears ended up paying huge fines for this practice. 

My mechanic told me recently that the problem lies with companies who pay their employees minimum wage to work on automobiles. The place I normally get my oil changed once told me that many times they get cars driven in there fresh from an oil change at Walmart, some without oil and some without a filter. These employees may not always have your best interest at heart. You don't build a relationship with these employees like a mechanic you use regularly and who knows your car inside out. 

2. Regular Maintenance - A car that is serviced regularly will last much longer than one where regular maintenance has been ignored. 

3. Change the Oil Regularly In addition to lubricating vital engine parts, oil traps contaminants and prevents them from harming your engine. Changing the oil gets rid of all that trapped gnarly stuff. Oil also breaks down over time, so it’s necessary to replace it at regular intervals. 

4. Read Your owner's Manual - Included is a schedule of maintenance, which will help you and your car go the distance. 

5. Check, Check, Check - Check the coolant and power steering fluids on schedule. Also, check the filters, belts, brakes, and windshield wipers. Inspect them for any wear and tear that might help you avoid a breakdown. 

6. Pay attention to your vehicle

I could usually tell when something was wrong with my car due to the sound it would make. For example, just last week mine was making an odd whirring sound. I knew something was up and sure enough, a few days later the motor went out of my air conditioning/heater vent. 

Properly maintaining your car will keep it on the road longer and will get you a higher price when it’s time to sell it or trade it in. It’s a long way to 200,000 miles.

Not every vehicle will make it to that impressive milestone, but by being a responsible vehicle owner, you can increase the likelihood that yours will. 

My car, a 1998 Olds Cutlass, which I bought in January 2000, recently hit the 200,000 milestone. Because I kept the car so many years, based on what I paid for the car it cost me less than $1,000 to drive it each year. I was diligent about changing the oil and keeping it maintained. Last week I bought a new to me car, but I will be keeping my old one for various reasons, but it has been a good car for us. 

How about you? Do you have a car that has gone the distance for you?


Belinda
Simply live by the rule of not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Au Gratin Potatoes






Au Gratin Potatoes

Ingredients: 

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
5 cups thinly sliced potatoes (about 6 medium)
1/2 cup chopped onion

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In saucepan, melt butter over low heat. 
Stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. 
Gradually add milk and bring to a boil.
Cook and stir two minutes or until thickened. 
Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. 
Add potatoes and onions. 
Transfer to greased 2 quart baking dish. 
Cover and bake one hour. 
Uncover and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are tender.  


  •  Pictured above are the Au Gratin Potatoes I made recently. I didn't cut them into slices, but rather cubed them for this dish. 

Moving the clocks forward one hour on Sunday for Daylight savings Time has made me tired all week. I am ready for the weekend, so I can sleep in a little bit. Hopefully I will adjust quickly.  :)

Belinda
CFO ~ Chief Frugal Officer
Professor Penny Pincher 
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 and beyond.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”
"Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle ~ It will help you save money"

Friday, March 6, 2015

Saving Money on Soap


Soap savers are a good way to save money in your home. They have raised nubs that lift soap bars off the dish and allow air to flow freely around the soap, which helps it to drain and dry completely. This will make your soap last long thus saving you money in the long run. 



Above is a photo of my old soap saver. I originally bought this one from the Dollar Tree. At the time I could get two of them, which I did, for $1.00 or buy the larger one from $1.00. I opted to get the smaller ones, so I could have two of them, which turned out to be a mistake on my part. 

From this and the photo below you can see that it was too small to get the job done. The soap was always sliding off the soap holder an sitting in the liquid under the soap anyway, so it did not serve its purpose very well. 


So, while I was at Lowe's last week I spotted this nice big one: 


As you can see from this photo, it fits the bar of soap much nicer. 



Now my soap fits well in the dish and won't be sitting in the liquid, which will make it last longer thus saving us money. 


Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thursday

School was called off again today due to the weather. As a result, the state of Tennessee may pardon school snow days. We were originally scheduled for a two hour delay, but the call came around 6 a.m. to cancel the whole day. 

So, I decided to make a big breakfast this morning. 


I made bacon, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy. There was milk, tea, and orange juice to drink, but I drank my usual water. Afterwards, I took the leftover biscuits and combined them with five leftover sausage patties, which I had in the freezer, and added five sausage biscuits to my freezer stash. I still have some leftover biscuits though. 

After washing the breakfast dishes, I decided to do some baking. I found two, new to me, recipes this week that I wanted to try. One of them was for a breakfast cheese danish and the other was from a school cafeteria recipe for peanut butter bars. Here are the recipes and a photo of each one.


Breakfast Cheese Danish
I made these because I had both crescent rolls and cream cheese on hand today. The photo might not look great, but these were good. 
Ingredients:
2 cans ready to use refrigerated crescent rolls
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg white
Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9-inch baking pan. Lay a pack of crescent rolls in the pan and pinch the openings together. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg together until smooth. Spread the mixture over the crescent rolls evenly and then lay the second pack of crescent rolls on top of the cheese mixture and brush with egg white. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Top with glaze after cooling for 20 minutes.
Peanut Butter Bars
I always have these items on hand, so these were easy to make. They were good too. 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter or margarine
1 C. self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Put the peanut butter and butter in a saucepan over low heat to melt, do not let it boil, just warm and melt. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour and stir to combine well. Spread evenly into a 13x9-inch sheet cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool completely and frost.
Frosting: Whisk together all ingredients and spread over bars.

Other things I did in the kitchen today include:


I washed, cut up, and bagged more peppers from our free food source for the freezer. 


I strained the leftover bacon grease into a cheesecloth/mason jar. I watched a YouTube video recently that uses this to make suet for chickens. We still have one rooster left and I know he would like this, so I am saving it for him.


Did you ever see this done from The Tightwad Gazette? I've always wanted to try it and the opportunity presented itself today.  :)

Finally, I made dinner. I used the last of the stuffed peppers and made a smaller casserole like I made the other day. I also made a three cheese potato dish, and served it with some corn. Plenty of dessert for those who were interested. 





School is on a two hour delay in the morning, so we will have an easy morning for sure. How was your Thursday?

Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.

Saving Money on Garbage Bags


Pictured above is a package of toilet paper that we normally purchase. The package holds 36 double rolls, so the outer package is rather large. Here is what it looks like empty:


This is large enough to line our garbage can in the bathroom, so naturally I use these to save money on real garbage bags. 


I also use plastic bags from the grocery store, provided they are the large ones, to line our garbage can with. I usually only get those around the holidays like Christmas. 

This is another small way we save money here. 

Do you have any ideas to share on how you save on garbage bags?

Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Leftover Wizardry


Tonight was a very successful leftover concoction. While at work today I was thinking about what to make for dinner. I knew I had some leftover filling from the stuffed peppers Monday night, and thought that would make a good basis for a casserole. I decided to take some tortillas, cheese, sour cream, the filling, and some lettuce and tomatoes. 

I started with a layer of tortillas, which I cut into triangles. Then I added  a layer of the filling followed by a layer of sour cream and then cheese. I had enough filling to repeat for one more layer. I bake this in the oven for 30 minutes and chopped up some lettuce and tomatoes. When the casserole was done, I put a serving on each plate and topped it with lettuce and tomatoes. 

I was tired from work, so did not get a photo of this, but my family loved it and there was none left afterwards, so I would say it was a success. Something I will definitely try again. 

Any successful leftover wizardry at your home recently? 

Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Doing Away with our Landline

Today I turned off our landline with Verizon in an effort to save more money. The contract, which was supposed to only be for 15 months, somehow managed to be longer than that and my phone calls to protest were unfruitful. Well the contract has finally run out, so I decided to have it turned off, which will save us around $25 a month. We weren't using the phone, which hasn't even been plugged in for months. So we will save a little bit of money and as you know, every little bit helps.

I was going to switch our cell phones to Straight Talk from Wal-Mart, but had heard some negative comments about Straight Talk, so we are going to stay with Verizon and just try to lower our monthly costs. All of our phones are no longer under a contract and are now month to month. Verizon gave us a $15 per month discount for that reason in February.  

I do not need a new cell phone as mine is working and suits me just fine. If I did need  a new one I would buy one on the second hand market to avoid getting into a new contract.  When the day comes that I am no longer subbing, I will do away with the plan we have now and look into something even cheaper. 

So, $25 plus $15 means the cell phone bill should be $40 cheaper next month, and since I share a family plan with my Mother, should be $20 cheaper on my part next month. I also "charge" my daugher $25 a month for her smart phone on her financial journal, which she works off, so in the end I should be paying around $50 per month for my cell phone. 

On a side note, the customer service representative from Verizon did everything in her power to try and sell me another service. I help firm though and declined all of her offers. :)

Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Weekend Report

The English Rose Tea Room




My daughter and I spent Friday afternoon having tea at The English Rose Tea Room in Chattanooga. We enjoyed a tea pot of English Breakfast tea and for lunch she had the the assorted finger sandwiches which included salmon mousse, egg salad, cucumber & cream cheese, and cheese & tomato. I had the Ploughman's Lunch which included cheeses, salad, potato & leek soup, crusty roll, and assorted British pickles. They sat us next to the fireplace and it was a delightful afternoon. 

Tomato Sale

On Friday my daughter and I made a trip to Publix to stock up on their Hunt's buy one get one free tomato sale. While I was cooking one day this week I noticed that my canned tomato supply was seriously low. 

Publix has had them on sale for the past two weeks, so I bought twenty of the twenty-eight ounces cans to restock the pantry yesterday. These should last me six months or longer. I also bought four pounds of elbow macaroni, since I was out, because it was also buy one get one free. My pantry shelves look much better with all those tomatoes there. 

Back to School

Students went back to school today, so I'm happy about being able to work again. Although I am not working today, I am scheduled to work the next three days. 

One of my friends, who also subs, texted me this morning to tell me she was called to sub this morning. She mentioned that before she got called to sub, she had planned on going shopping while she could be by herself, but would not be able to today.

That got me to thinking...

As you may recall, one of my goals this year is to avoid consumerism. In the past I have also gone shopping for pleasure, which is something I am working on eliminating in my life. I've had a real attitude shift here lately. I don't like living paycheck to paycheck. I want a cushion to fall back on when times are lean. One of the ways to do that is to hold onto the money I have or have coming in and only buy the essentials. Think about each purchase beforehand and if I don't really need it, don't buy it. 

I mentioned last week that I wanted to go to Sam's Club, but I knew I would have to renew my membership and I decided not to do that. I'm going to wait until I get a free pass, make a list of only essentials we need, and go then. 

As I was driving my daughter to school today, I thought to myself that we needed some butter, but we have margarine here, so I decided against stopping because I know  I would have bought other things too, so I decided against stopping. I want to save my money and not spend it. I want to use what I have here instead of spending my precious money. I'm going to save it for things I really need to buy. 

Breakfast this morning was sausage biscuits from the freezer for my daughter along with some fruit while I had oatmeal, also from the freezer, and some fruit. 

Once I dropped her off and came home, I made some phone calls and then got started making dinner. I have some Mexican Rice cooking in the pressure cooker. When that is done I'm going to add some chili beans and cheese and stuff some beautiful peppers that I got this weekend. 


The cheese and peppers are from our free food source. I have about two servings of mashed potatoes and gravy in the refrigerator that I will serve with that and also the last of the carrot raisin salad. There will be no eating out or buying anything extra. We will stay home and use up what we have here. We have plenty of food on hand to make meals without spending any money. 

Of course, each person has to decide for him or herself which is the best way to handle his or her money. Mine is a continual work in progress. 

In Conclusion, 

Blogs I've Been Reading this Week

Down to Earth ~ A beautiful blog written by a lady & how her housework fulfills her. 

Table Talk ~ Five things to remember when money is tight.


Until later, 

Belinda
Live simply by not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.