Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Buying New Tires & Front End Alignment

This past February I knew it was time to start looking for tires for my car. 

The first thing I did was took a photo of my tires to get the right tire number. Mine was P235/50R18. 

I knew I also wanted to get the front end aligned. 

When I first started this search four months ago I searched online for tire sales and tire coupons. 

What I found was that if I applied for a Discount Tire credit card and paid for the tires using it, I would be eligible for a $60 Prepaid Visa card. 

And, if I bought four tires I would receive a $100 Prepaid Visa. 

Of course, I would pay the credit card in full the same month I charged the tires as I have no credit card debt and want to keep it that way. 

During the last few months I've searched several places around my hometown and made several phone calls and sent mails looking to get the best deal on tires and a front end alignment. 

My brother-in-law is an auto mechanic and I spoke to him about what I needed. He suggested someone who would do a good job for me and also be affordable. 

My BIL was also the one to suggest Discount Tire to me a while back. 

It pays to put out the word or speak with someone who is familiar with whatever it is you are needing in order to try and save some money. 

Most of the places I called were asking $79.95 or more for a front end alignment, but I ended up paying $45 plus tax for mine thanks to my BIL who is involved in this type of business every day. 

In case you're wondering, the place my BIL works does not do front end alignments or he would have done mine for me. 

I did not jump on the buy four tires get $100 back in February because I did not need four tires. I only needed three due to a flat tire I had last winter when  I ended up replacing the flat tire with a brand new one, bought at Discount Tire. 

Since school is out right now this is the perfect time to get my car into the shop. So, today I took my car for the front end alignment and the mechanic said I definitely needed new tires. 

So, after he was finished, I drove over to Discount Tire and bought three new tires and I charged them on my new Discount Tire credit card because they are going to offer me six months no interest on the purchase. 

Now I have the money to pay for the tires in my emergency fund, but for right now I am going to take advantage of this interest free deal at least for the summer time while my income is lower than usual. 

Total spent for three new tires was $606.15. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Unofficial Start of Summer

Monday marked the unofficial start to summer. Last Monday was my last day subbing until school starts back in August. I always look forward to this time of year as I usually get more things done around the house, and some projects usually get put off until this time of year. 

This time of year brings with it a smaller income to our household and therefore, we make adjustments accordingly. We do have several different sources of passive income, which brings in needed funds. 

Recently I made $100.84 from my blog through Google Adsense. I had the money transferred to my regular checking account to start, and then transferred $15.89 into our emergency fund, and $10.00 into our new house fund, which was over 25% placed into savings. 

Mr. Money Mustache regularly saved over 66% of their income in order to retire early. If you are looking for inspiration, be sure to read his blog.  His family lives a frugal lifestyle that even Amy Dacyczyn would admire. 


We stopped by the Mennonite Farmer's Market this past week to pick up some fresh produce. We spent a total of $28 for all of this and have been enjoying it all week long. 

Tomorrow I will be taking my car to an auto shop for a front end alignment to the cost of $45, which is a great deal. My BIL, who is an auto mechanic, recommended this company to me. Asking around or putting out the word of what you are looking for will help to save you money. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Our Latest Good Deal


One of our local grocery stores, Cooke's, had a Friday only sale this week. They had canned vegetables for 25¢ each, but for only six hours starting at noon. I would be at work, so I asked my daughter to go instead. 

To say it was a madhouse would be an understatement. She arrived at 11:55 and had to park far away from the store. 

She easily found peas and green beans, but no corn, so she asked an employee who told her where the corn was located and pretty much told her to be careful. 

She found the corn and while she was getting a box, someone actually tried to take what she already had out of her shopping cart. She was shaking when she finally got out of the store and said never again.

I don't know why stores design these sales for only a few hours knowing what might ensue. 

Anyway, we ended up with 24 cans of peas, 24 cans of green beans, and 48 cans of corn. Cooke's had recently sent me a coupon for $5.00 off any purchase, which she used. So her total came to $19 or 20¢ for each can. 

I know why the place was a madhouse. I  think it's because groceries cost more now than before the Great Recession in 2008. People are underemployed or looking for work and times are hard. 

When a good deal like this comes along people want and need to get in on it. We wanted to get in on this good deal as well. When was the last time you saw canned vegetables for 25¢ a can? I've not seen that price since before 2008. 

We will be going through the summer without my sub pay, as usual, so we definitely wanted to stock up on this good deal. Even if it was a little bit frightening.

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, May 12, 2017

Frugal Family Fun Games

Back when I was growing up, my brother and sister were older than me, and one of the last things they wanted to do was play board games with their younger sister. 

I tried to play games with my Mom, but she wasn't interested either. She did buy me games that I could play alone like Perfection, Yahtzee, and Solitaire was good as well. What I really wanted back then was to someone to play games with.  


These days my daughter and I enjoy playing both board and card games. Some of our favorites card games are Spot It, Moose in the House, and Slamwich. While some of our favorite board games are Monopoly and Life. 

Playing games together is fun, allows you to spend time together with family engaging with each other while talking and laughing together.That is more fun to me than sitting in a room together while everyone does their own thing.

When you stay home and play games you are not out and about spending any money. And, you are not putting wear and tear on your car. 

One thing board games teach children is how to manage their money and not to spend everything they have. Monopoly is a great game for this as it teaches them not to spend all their money on one thing likes houses, because they may land on a space where they have to pay taxes and with no money they'd be hurting just like in real life. 

Playing games is also good for your mental health as people who engage in mentally stimulating activities are less likely to develop dementia later on in life and studies show it even helps to improve your memory. 

My daughter and I have a wish list on Amazon of both board and card games that we would like to own someday. 


We lucked out the other day at a yard sale and found Ticket to Ride, a board game that sells for $32.00, for only $3.00. We were so tickled to find that and at such a great price. :)

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Sunday, May 7, 2017

S-T-R-E-T-C-I-N-G Chili & New Produce Find

On Friday night I came home and made chili for supper.

I used about two pounds of ground beef (markdown for $2.75), four cans of chili beans (on sale for 50¢ each/so $2.00), and two large cans of diced tomatoes (on sale for $1.00/so $2.00). All these items were either marked down or on sale. I also used one onion and chili powder, salt, and pepper. 

Total cost to make the chili was less than $7.00. Three of us ate this for dinner on Friday night and two of us ate this for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. I still have four servings left, so this ended up making eleven servings, which works out to 64¢ per serving. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We stopped by a Dollar General Market the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find some great prices on produce. Some of them beating the lowest price I've seen on some items. 

These were the items we picked up:

5 Red Peppers 33¢ each
1 Orange Pepper 33¢ each
1 bag of radishes $1.50
3 pounds of apples $2.95
3 pounds oranges $1.95
6 cucumbers $2.00
3 pounds Clementines $2.95
Bananas 57¢ pound

That was a lot of produce for a little more than $15. We will definitely be adding this place to our list of grocery stores we frequent. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Amy Dacyczyn on Food

Below is a letter written by Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette fame. 

This letter did not run in her original newsletter, but was sent to people who wrote in asking for the article, and is a letter she wrote to help her readers save money on their food bill. 

I hope you enjoy it.

Dear Reader,

Our family spends less than $180 per month on food. At 6’ and 5’8 ½” Jim and I are not pygmies. Likewise our six children, ages 9 and down to a set of toddler twins, are also of above average height. And most of them eat more than I do. We are all healthy, have great cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, of normal weights and no one feels deprived. 

For the purposes of accurate comparison, my food bill only includes edibles. Many non-edibles that some people buy at food stores can be purchased at other types of stores where they are usually cheaper. I don’t know if a drug store purchase of shampoo is included in most people’s grocery bills. My food bill does include school lunches as well as gardening and canning supplies. We never eat out. Our food bill doesn’t include any additional energy cost for baking food from scratch. In both cases our savings on food FAR outweighs the energy usage. 

Although Jim is a military retiree we don’t shop at the Navy Commissary because of the distance, and so our food bill does not reflect any savings from there. 

We live 25 miles from a large supermarket. We can’t hit all the sales and do little couponing, since we have no double coupon stores in our area. People from different parts of the country have told us they think groceries cost more in the northeast. The prices here seem to be about the same as when we lived in Virginia, except we have fewer stores to compete with sales and double coupons. 

Most of my newsletters have articles on ways to cut the food bill. On the next page I have included experts of three issues. The first is 17 ways to save on the food bill. Most of them are obvious, but you need to do all of them. The second is an article on the price book. Do not skip this step, no matter how time consuming you think it is to make one up. Many readers have written in amazement of their findings, how all of their perceptions were wrong. It will reduce your food bill significantly. The simplicity of some of the meals shows that I didn’t specifically cook meals for the purpose of publication. The menu does not represent our complete repertoire. Since we plan meals around sales, during any given period we may eat more of one type of food than another.  

By using a price book, bulk buying and simplifying your diet you will not only reduce your food bill, you will reduce the amount of time spent shopping. You will spend less time comparing products for price. When you go into a store you know exactly which products you will buy there, so shopping can be completed faster. We usually shop once a month hitting several types of stores for a total of four hours including 1-1/2 hours of driving. And the few other trips we make to hit sales are combined with other errands or business. 

It is my belief that couponing and refunding should be a part of the shopping process, but only a small part It has not been proved to me that major refunding and couponing will reduce your food bill as much as if you use all the strategies. This has been reflected in letters from my readers who say that since they’ve become sharper shoppers, they have reduced their food bill AND are now using fewer coupons. In general manufacturer’s coupons are not good for convenience foods. For example, cold cereal, even when you subtract double-coupon savings, usually costs more per portion than a large range of other breakfasts you could prepare. Remember, it’s not how much you “save” with coupons, but how much you SPEND that counts. Coupons can be very good for pet foods, coffee, cleaners, and personal care products. 

Some people might think our diet is unexciting. Because we choose less expensive foods we have less variation. Also we are extremely busy. When we have more time to prepare food is becomes more interesting. However we do not mind if food is plain. 

Many people PREFER to spend more on their food bill. This is a value difference which I feel is acceptable, as long as they are financially responsible. However, it is my preference to spend money on things of permanence, something that will give me long term enjoyment or convenience, such as a place to live, a tool, or piece of furniture.

Amy Dacyczyn

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~