Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Financial Lessons Learned from Others

What types of financial lessons did you learn from your parents or other family members when you were growing up? 

What kind of financial lessons did you learn from your spouse/significant other or friends?

My parents believed, like many Americans, that borrowing money for cars, or a shopping trip to Walmart, was and is a perfectly normal thing to do when they run out of money. Both of them have thousands of dollars in credit card debt. 

My Mother has cable TV for which she pays almost $200 per month for, but she cannot find the money to pay her property taxes or buy food for herself.

My Mother and Father, who are now divorced, both managed to spend every cent they made while working and both retired with no retirement savings. Now they live on what they get from social security and my mother gets a very small pension. 

My ex-husband could spend our last nickle on a pack of cigarettes. It used to drive me nuts. Anytime I would budget or plan ahead for our paychecks he would be upset that I was "spending his money before he even earned it". 

My ex has a history of being financially irresponsible. He put brand new windows, to the tune of over $5,000, into the home that his Dad left for him and his brother. The house is now being sold on the auction block next month for back property taxes, which were only about $250 a year. 

These people definitely had their priorities out of order and are financially irresponsible, and I learned my financial lessons from these people. The only difference is that I learned to NOT do what they did. 

I do not carry credit card debt, I pay all of my bills on time and in full every month. I have both checking and savings accounts, I do not bounce checks, I have investment accounts, and I live frugally and save for the future. I could not imagine living any other way because I could not sleep at night if I were financially irresponsible. 

How about you?

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fourth Frugal Week of June 2017

Last Friday I made arrangements with someone on Craigslist for a free chair. We both agreed to the day and time, but when I went to the home no one answered either door and they ignored my text as well. Sometimes our good deals do not always come through. 

Lucky for us though we were able to pick one up while we were going to yard sales on Saturday, so we were happy with that. 

Last Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we stayed home, so no wear and tear on the car, no gas used, and no money spent. 

On Monday, dd went to her Zumba class while I did a quick run to Food City. I found bananas on markdown as well as taco sauce and water chestnuts. I also bought more 15 bean dry soup beans and tortillas. 

The only other groceries we bought this week came from Aldi, which included two watermelons and ten packages of sweet corn on the cob. Both were on sale and a great price. 

We packed a lunch to take with us on Monday and brought water to drink in reusable water bottles. 

We also went to McKay Used Books on Monday.  I found a good book about sewing. 

We also went to the thrift store. I found a couple of shirts to reuse the material. And an electric can opener. I found a brand new Saltbox Illustrations notepad, still in the wrapper for 55¢. That will be going into my gift closet for Christmas.

I made four more cloth pads for my daughter this week. I've made her a total of seventeen pads now. 

Friday we went to multiple yard sales including some in Chattanooga. We found several things that we were needing such as a new rug for the bathroom ($1.50), a new shelf for our board games ($2.00),  a pencil box filled with new embroidery thread ($1.00), heated drying rack ($5 goes for $47 @ Amazon).

Ironing board ($1.00), two Dr. McDougall books ($1.00 each), several board games (50¢ each), several items of clothes (4 pieces for 50¢ and the lady even gave dd a very nice coat), and multiple other things I cannot recall right now. We checked off several things on our "things we need list", which is always a good thing.

How was your week? Hopefully it was a frugal one. :)

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, June 16, 2017

Third Frugal Week of June 2017


First thing Monday morning someone came, at my Mother's request, to pick up her van and car. She had sold both of them for salvage over the weekend. 

Neither one of them would start anymore and she decided to sell them since she was afraid of how much they would cost to try and get them fixed. 

SusanBranch.com
I made six more cloth pads for my daughter this week. I have now made 13 pads for her, so we are getting closer to the 35 we settled on when I started. 

I had to order more Zorb and PUL as I'm about out of both of them, but I used coupons for both purchases. 

This one was made from some pinwheel fabric she found at a yard sale last week. Of all the pads I've made her so far, this one is my favorite. 



This sock monkey fabric was actually a bandana in it's former life. My daughter loves this one.  :)


The cat material below was the scrub shirt we picked up at a yard sale earlier. 



 This pinkish material below was also a scrub shirt we picked up at a yard sale. 


I've made two Day of the Dead pads and have enough to make a third one. Day of the Dead anything is very popular right now. 


We stopped at Aldi on Wednesday and picked up the following:

2 Watermelons ~ $2.99 each
2 Blackberries ~ 99¢ each
2 pounds Strawberries ~ 99¢ each
1 cucumber ~ 49¢
4 packages sweet corn ~ $1.29 each (16 ears)
4 pounds red grapes ~ $1.98 for 2 pounds

Image Credit

On Friday we went to multiple yard sales. 

Some things we picked up include:

- 4 nesting plastic containers - $2.00
- RTIC Tumbler - $1.00 - ($18.99 at Walmart) (we both have one now)
- Lilly Pulitzer shopping bag - $1.00
- 3 antique cookie jars - $13 - (going to flip these)
- 4 pairs of shorts, 2 shirts, 3 swimsuits - 50¢ each
- Bag of craft items - $2.00
- Buckbeak plush animal - $1.00 new with tags - I told dd she could flip it, but she is a true Harry Potter fan and said, "no way!" ($46.57 at Walmart

Sadly we did not find any fabric today, but it rained a lot last night, so some people may not have set up. 

Other frugal things we did this week include:

- Received a free issue of Money magazine in the mail.
- Received a free taco at Taco Bell on Tuesday. 

How was your week?


Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer Time means Gazpacho

www.SusanBranch.com
Summertime means plenty of vegetables around here. 

One of my favorite summer time soups is Gazpacho and this recipe from Susan Branch is one of my favorite cold soup recipes. 

This soup recipe is very refreshing and hits the spot on a hot summer day. 

Susan Branch ~ Gazpacho

Combine in your blender:

10 ounces cold tomato juice
1/2 medium cucumber, cut up
1 medium tomato, cup up
1 Tbsp sugar (I leave this out)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup salad oil (I leave this out)

To the blended ingredients add:

2 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped 
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2 green onions, green part only, chopped
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1 small green pepper, finely chopped (I had red on hand)

Add or subtract any vegetables you like. Serve very cold. 

SusanBranch.com
Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Giveaway Winner Announced!

We have a winner for our recent giveaway, Your Playbook for Tough Times!

CTMom also known as Carol who blogs over at CT on a Budget was chosen as the winner to receive both "Your Playbook For Tough Times" books. 

Congratulations to Carol. 

I have to say that this giveaway was the one blog post that received more comments than any other blog post I've done since I've been blogging. I think that says something about the quality of Donna Freedman and her writing. I wish I could give a copy to everyone who entered the giveaway. 

However, for those of you who didn't win: I've arranged for each one of you to have a special discount on the new book. 

You can visit http://bit.ly/2qZijsc and use the discount code MOUNTAINHOME to get 'Your Playbook For Tough Times, Vol. 2' for just $5. 

The coupon is good through July 4, 2017. 

Donna's been having issues with her site host, so if you get an error message when you try to access DonnaFreedman.com, try again later. She's working on it!

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, June 12, 2017

Doll Quilts


Remember this video of Amy Dacyczyn? I've posted it here on the blog before and it's been seen on YouTube thousands of times. 

I recall seeing something towards the end of the video (around 4:50) that I'd always wondered about. It came to me one day that what I was seeing was doll quilts. 

Turns out Amy was making these out of patchwork pieces. 

I googled the topic and came up with this:
In 2009 Paula Gardner wrote an article on the Michigan Blog Live about Amy Dacyczyn. In the article she mentions the fact that Amy was using fabric scraps to make baby doll quilts for future grandchildren. 

Here is a closeup screenshot of the quilts:


All of this got me to thinking and that along with my recent return to sewing and some scrap quilting patches found at yard sales got me to thinking even more.  

One day last week we found a gallon size bag filled with quilting scraps for $2.00. We brought them home and washed them and filled a laundry basket once they were dried. 



One night I sat down to the sewing machine and pieced them together and made a doll quilt following the directions loosely from this webpage. 


Nothing fancy, but it was easy and I used part of one of the receiving blankets we've picked up at several yard sales recently for the back. 


I didn't have any embroidery thread to tie it with, so I just machine quilted it after piecing it together. I didn't buy anything new for this, but rather used what I had on hand. 

I had some material, which was not quilt batting, but rather fleece that fit the job for the inside and then I used part of a flannel receiving blanket for the back. 

The quilt was made from twenty 4 x 4 quilt squares, but I didn't feel this was the right size.  I'm going to tinker with this until I come up with a quilt that feels like the right size. 

Wouldn't one of these make a great Christmas gift for a little girl? 

Or you could make these and sell them. 

I looked on Etsy and there are a lot of people selling doll quilts. These could make for a another passive income source. 

I think they would sell for around $10, what do you think?

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, June 9, 2017

Second Frugal Week of June 2017

It's been a busy week at the Frugal Workshop this week. 

On Monday I received two checks in the mail thanks to the reward programs I spend a few minutes using each day. 


The first check was from Inbox Dollars for $33.88. 

The second check was from SendEarnings for $28.82. 


I also earned $5.00 in Amazon gift cards from Microsoft Rewards. I now have $47.42 in gift cards from Amazon for this year. I'm saving them for something special like Christmas. 

Other things that happened this week include...



I earned $112.50  before fees on Ebay this week after selling three of the items I listed for sale last week. I paid $13.26 in Ebay fees on this amount and $4.75 in PayPal fees, so I paid a total of $15.16 in fees and brought home $97.34 on the $112.50 I made. 

I couldn't have made as much as I did on Ebay at the flea market or a yard sale, so I'm glad this option to sell online is available. I think all the tightwads shop at the flea market because they want to haggle with me on the price, which is what I do at yard sales. LOL

I also listed five other items up for sale on Ebay this week. I did a tiny bit of decluttering and decided to go ahead and see if I could sell them on Ebay. I'll only list them one time and if they don't sell, I will donate them to our local charity thrift store. I'm not willing to hold onto them any longer than that. 


I made five more cloth pads for my daughter this week. I asked her how many she wanted to have on hand and together we settled on thirty-five. That way she could go a whole week without doing a load of laundry if necessary. The chevron pattern above was one of my favorites. 




I made a new page for the Frugal Workshop on cloth pads. You can see it at the toolbar on the top of the page and here is a link to it if you're interested. Mostly stuff you've already read if you are a regular reader here, but for newbies they can find all the information in one place. 

While folding the laundry this week I found a pair of pants that needed a small section of the inseam restitched, so I picked up my thread and needle and stitched it together right then. No sense in putting little tasks like that off since I am off from school for the summer. 

On Thursday I made a large stockpot full of Taco Soup based on this recipe from the Prudent Homemaker. I like that it calls for ingredients I already had in my pantry. I did use fresh onions though since I had them on hand. 

My daughter did a CVS haul this week where she bought two tubes of Colgate toothpaste and a bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid for 21¢. 

Here is a short video of her deal:


On Friday we went to several yard sales. 

Items we picked up included:

- 3 new glass bowls $2.00 (I broke one last week & needed replacement)
- Microwave cover - 10¢
- 3 music CDs - $3.00 (one was brand new/just released)
- 12 flannel blankets - $2.00, which was 17¢ each
- Fabric to make more cloth pads - $2.00
- Multiple textbooks to resell (some were free)
- 2 scrub shirts to make pads - 50¢
- Bag of 107 adorable quilt squares - $2.00
- Storage container on wheels for cat food - $3.00 (been looking for one of these for years - didn't want to pay retail)
- Battle of the Sexes board game - 50¢
- Lamp - $3.00 (to lighten up my sewing area)
- 2 brand new swimsuits - $3.00 (needed to replace dd's swimsuit top as chlorine stretched hers out) 
- French fry cutter - $1.00 (still in the box)

We had a great yard sale day.  :)
All in all we had a good week here at the Frugal Workshop. We hope you had a good week as well and have a wonderful weekend ahead.  :)

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Comment Section


Thank you to everyone who legitimately comments on my blog because I really enjoy reading your comments. They make me feel connected to my readers and we help each other out in the comment section and we learn from each other. I love getting positive comments. 

Unfortunately, every now and then a spammer will come along and spam multiple blog posts, and I have to go in and remove them. I've removed six such comments today, so for the time being I am going to have to moderate any comments made on the blog. 

Just wanted to give you a heads up about the hopefully temporary change. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, June 5, 2017

Make Your Own Mannequin

Last week I was looking online at mannequins that were for sale. They have a few on Ebay for $4.99, but the shipping is terribly high. I was looking at $25 or more with the shipping, so I mentioned it to my daughter and put it on the backburner. 

She has several outfits that she wants to sell and having a mannequin makes clothes look like they are supposed to look, which makes them easier to sell. We also find some great deals from time to time at yard sales and could take advantage of upselling those as well. 

On Saturday when we were shopping the 50% off Goodwill sale, my daughter bought a lamp stand and told me not to ask any questions. LOL

When I woke up Sunday morning she had a surprise for me:



She made this all by herself! Here is her dress on display, the one we bought at Forever 21 over Spring Break. 



And if you're interested in making your own mannequin, here is a video she made on how she did it.


Now I know you all are going to run out and make your own mannequins aren't you? :) 

Seriously, if you do please send me a photo, as we would love to see it.  :)

Also, don't forget to enter the giveaway we currently have going on at the Frugal Workshop for a free e-version of both of Donna Freedman's books, Your Playbook for Tough Times, Volumes 1 and 2.  

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Sunday, June 4, 2017

First Frugal Week of June 2017

Ebay is another source of passive income for my household. In the past I have sold things year round on Ebay, but in recent years have only done this in the summer time when I have more free time from subbing at school. 

This past Monday I listed five items for auction and hopefully after paying all the fees associated with both Ebay and PayPal will end up making some money to add to our summer budget. 

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We found a nice bag at a yard sale last week for 25¢, but the handle was torn off. No problem. I did a quick stitch of it on my sewing machine and it is as good as new. 


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As my regular readers know, my daughter is the coupon queen here these days. She got in on a great deal on St. Ives body wash at Dollar General this week. 

St. Ives body wash was on sale for $2.00 each. She had five manufacturer's coupons for $1.50 off one bottle and a digital coupon for $2.00 off $10.00. So, she bought five bottles and paid 50¢ for all five, which worked out to 10¢ each, which is a great deal for body wash. 

She is also great at keeping our stockpile organized too. She rotates all the stock putting all the older stuff up front to be used first and putting anything new in the back. 


As a result she had already put the St. Ives in the back of the closet, so I did not get a picture of it, but here is our stockpile from the front so you can at least see the stockpile. 

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We spent part of the day on Friday going to yard sales. We both found a Vera Bradley bag, which trilled me to the bone as I love them. Pictured here is a photo of both of them. 

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I made cauliflower taco meat again for dinner today. Here is a photo of it up close. It looks so much like taco meat that it's hard to believe it's actually cauliflower. It's a plant based dish, which is not only healthier for us, but costs less than buying meat.  Here is a picture of it in the taco salads I made for lunch today. 


I also made baked french fries to go with the salads. I did not use any oil in these and they still turned out great. They are much healthier than fried potatoes and my family loves them. 


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Saturday was the first Saturday of the month, which means Goodwill has everything in the store for 50% off the regular price. We went to three different stores and picked up several things. 

One of the things I found were these really nice cotton cloth napkins for $1.00. These are the ones you want to use as dinner napkins because of the material, which feels good on your skin and is absorbent.  I don't care for the polyester dinner napkins as they are not very absorbent.


Another thing I found were these two scrub shirts. Now I'm not going to use them as scrub shirts, but rather use the material to make cloth pads for my daughter. I love the Mary Engelbreit one and buying the material this way ($2.50 each) was much cheaper than buying the same material ($9.00 and up) at the fabric store. 


Speaking of cloth pads, here is another one I made for my daughter yesterday. So now she has two new cloth pads to add to her stash. 



That's it for this week at the Frugal Workshop. I have more things to share with you at a later time like the really neat surprise my daughter made for us after shopping at Goodwill yesterday. I'll save that for another blog post later this week. 

Don't forget to enter the giveaway we currently have going on at the Frugal Workshop. 

I hope you all have a great week!

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, June 2, 2017

Giveaway! Your Playbook for Tough Times ~ Volume 2 ~ Wants and Needs Edition

Donna Freedman over at Surviving and Thriving has written a sequel to her first book, Your Playbook for Tough Times. Her new book is called Your Playbook for Tough Times, Volume 2, Needs And Wants Edition.

Donna's new book was created to help people live their best lives on the money they have. Her book offers solid advice on how to thrive in these tough economic times and provides tips and resources to help consumers get the most out of every dollar. 

She understands that individuals in the post 2008 recession era are struggling to get through these tough times caused by stagnant salaries, unemployment or underemployment, health issues, property tax increases, student loan debts, and the ever increasing cost of everyday essentials. 

One reason Donna wrote her first book was that she heard tough times were coming back. But to Donna it seemed like for some people tough times never went away. 

This is what I love about Donna's books. She gets it. She's lived it. Her book is a treasure trove for people who are also struggling with these hard economic times. 

What does Donna have to say about retirement?

Most of us are expected to plan our own retirements. Thus, a chunk of earnings disappear right off the top, leaving less to pay the bills - that is if you're actually able to do that. Some people aren't saving a dime for retirement and who can blame them really? When you are running as fast as can  just to stay in the same place saving may seem impossible. 

My readers know that I read multiple money saving, personal finance, and early retirement blogs, which I love. But my situation is far different from many of those bloggers I read about. 

With Donna I feel like I found a kindred spirit. She's been where I've been, she has walked in my shoes and she knows what it's like to live with the uncertainty that can come from living through hard economic times.  

What else does Donna have to say about her new book?

This book shows people how to think critically and creatively about wants and needs, and how to use frugal hacks to get the best use of available funds. Suppose you could slash your funding on food, pet care, insurance and such by a total of $500 per month.What could an extra $6,000 do for your bottom line?

She goes on to add...


For those who are having trouble making ends meet, the book provides loads of resources for saving money on food, insurance, life celebrations, pet food and care, home repairs, and yes, funerals. 
You'll learn how to build your credit and improve your credit score, get out of the habit of impulse buying, find reasons to be grateful for what you do have, and generally make smarter choices about your money and your life. 

Doesn't that sound like something you will want to read again and again? 

Donna has been very kind and is allowing the Frugal Workshop to have a blog giveaway where one lucky reader will receive a copy of not just her new book, but a copy of both e-versions of her books. How neat is that?!  

All you have to do to enter the contest is to leave a comment in the comment section on why you would love to have a copy of her books. I'll let the contest run for one week and then I'll announce the lucky winner on the blog. 

Good luck to all of my readers!
Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~