Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Challenge Yourself to Lower Your Monthly Expenses

Cutting down your monthly expenses can be as helpful to your budget as increasing your income. By lowering your expenses, you will be increasing the amount of money you have left over each month. Money that you can save for the future. 

By decreasing the amount of money you need to live each month you won't need to earn as much money to live on, so long as you don't start taking up additional expenses again. From then on out, you can continue to live on this lowered amount each month. 

The best way to do this is to make a list of all monthly expenses. The best way to do that is to write down anytime you spend money. Use a piece of paper, notebook, journal, or anything that is convenient for you. 

Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Complete Tightwad Gazette says in this video that people who do this (write down every penny they spend) don't need to buy her book because they will know where they are losing money. 

 
Writing it down really does make a difference in how you spend money. It's like the old saying, what gets measured, get improved. 

At the end of the month you can write down all of those expenses into categories, and look at what you spent in each one. 

Once you figure out where your money is going it's time to see if you can cut some of those expenses. January and July are the months when I pay for my auto insurance. 

Ask for discounts on your insurance premiums. I currently get discounts for safe driving, number of years with my auto insurance company, and a multiple driver discount. Some companies even offer discounts if you take safe driving courses. 

At least twice each year I check with other companies to see if I can reduce my auto insurance costs. So far, my insurance company has been the most affordable to me for over twenty-five years, but I still check every year. 

We, like so many other people, had our land line removed a few years ago. With cell phones there was no need for a land line in our home. We also save money on our cell phones by splitting the cost between three people. 

There are multiple places to lower your monthly expenses, but no one can do this for you. You have to make a list of all your expenses and start calling people and asking for a discount. It doesn't hurt to ask  and you may be able to trim your monthly expenses by hundreds of dollars and that is money in the bank. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Saturday, January 27, 2018

4th Frugal Week - January 2018

This week I emptied out the jar of strawberry preserves while making sandwiches for lunch one day. I had two small packets of strawberry jelly in the fridge, so I used those up to finish the sandwiches.   

In my pantry was a brand new bottle of jelly from Kroger that we bought recently, but I wanted to stretch what I had before opening it. 


I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but the snap down lid on the new bottle of jelly was broken off, which is how it was when I bought it. 

Since these bottles stand up on the lid, the jelly would just leak out. I was willing to do what I could with it for the savings. These bottles normally cost upwards of $2.75, but this one was marked down to $1.49. 

What I did was wash the old jelly jar and emptied the new jelly contents into the old jar.  Problem solved and money saved since it was on yellow sticker markdown.

My daughter and I both gave ourselves a haircut this week saving us at least $20 in the process. 

Since we've been cooking at home everyday I have used up a lot of the onions I had. Cooke's had the three pound bags on sale for 99¢ last week, so I bought four more bags. 

I earned another $5.00 Amazon gift card from Microsoft Rewards this week. 

I also received my $25 in PayPal money from Swagbucks, and a check for $27 from Inbox Dollars. 

Combined with the $25 PayPal money I received from MyPoints last week, that is $77 I will be putting towards my car insurance premium, which is due at the end of January.  

That is $77 that I did not have to earn, but spent just a few minutes per day working towards. 

The weather has warmed up this week, which allowed us to turn the heat off for a few days. The savings on the electric bill will be good. 

Our electric company put this YouTube video on their Facebook page to help customers dispel some energy myths, so I wanted to share it with my readers. 


I perused the grocery store sale ads online this week making note of several sale items. On Thursday I went to IGA to pick up some Nature's Own whole grain bread, which was on sale for 99¢. I bought four loaves. 

Two other markdowns made their way into my cart as well. IGA Herb Dressing Mix was marked down to 50¢ per bag, so I picked up four of those. 
They also had Oscar Mayer Ham & Cheese loaf in the 16 ounce container marked down to 79¢, so I picked up six of those and put them in the freezer. 

This week I was able to work the first two days and was scheduled to work more, but became sick on Tuesday night and ended up cancelling the rest of the week.  

I suspected I had the flu and went to the doctor on Thursday. Today is Saturday and I'm already feeling so much better and will be able to return to work on Monday. 

That's all the news from here this week. I hope you've had a good week. Leave me a comment and let me know how you're doing.  I love to hear from all of you.  :)

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, January 22, 2018

3rd Frugal Week - January 2018

Last Sunday we went grocery shopping and were able to get in on some good deals. 

Using coupons and sales I was able to get Ragu pasta sauce for 67¢, store brand peanut butter for $1.39, and V-8 juice for 95¢. So, I bought 4 jars of Ragu, 6 jars of peanut butter, and 6 bottles of V-8.  

We also picked up multiple items on reduced yellow sticker such as a loaf of whole wheat bread for 39¢, quart size zip lock type bags for 49¢, hamburger buns for 69¢, and pita bread for 79¢. 

I earned $25 in PayPal money from MyPoints this week, and also earned $25 in PayPal money from Swagbucks this week. I will be using this money to add to other funds to pay my car Insurance this month.

There was no school here last week due to the MLK holiday and inclement weather. Icy road conditions closed school for the remainder of the week. 

We finally got out of the house on Friday to run some errands. There was still patchy ice sections on several of the roads. 

I bought a bottle of Tide this week for 78¢ using a $10 credit from Google Express. The deal was posted over at How to Shop for Free. Here is a link to the deal if you're interested. 

This week school is open and I am scheduled to sub three days. I hope you all have a great week!

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, January 12, 2018

Second Frugal Week January 2018

This week started out with several phone calls asking me to sub this week and I'm so grateful. School was cancelled on Monday due to the weather, but I was still able to work at three days this week. 

Our Internet is on a data plan and therefore we have to be careful to not use it all before the end of the month. Google Chrome has added an extension for a text only browser to avoid using up all the data for the month. It's called Text Mode if you are interested. 


If you are a Shop Your Way rewards member from Sears or Kmart, be sure to check your account to see if you have any money to spend. I did that last weekend and had enough in my account to buy this free pan. It's a air fryer for the oven. I came home and made some baked potato fries in it and it worked really well. Best of all they gave it to me for free. 




 We have not eaten out anytime since before Christmas. In fact I couldn't even tell you when the last time we ate out even happened.  I've made dinner every night. Here is our menu from the last week. 

1-5-2018 - Chicken Pot Pie
1-6-2018 - Pedernales PotatoesCorn
1-7-2018 - Smoked Sausage, Green Beans & Onions, Potatoes
1-8-2018 - Cream Cheese Chicken Chili, Mexican Rice
1-9-2018 - BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
1-10-2018 - Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Broccoli
1-11-2018 - Leftovers - Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Broccoli

The Cream Cheese Chicken Chili was a new recipe for me, but turned out to be a keeper. Next time I will add a can of tomatoes instead of the tomatoes with chilies to keep the heat down some. 

Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
Ingredients:
1 - 12 ounce can chicken, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
4 ounces cream cheese

Directions:
Rinse and drain black beans and to pan. 
Drain corn and chicken and add to pan. 
Add canned tomatoes, but do not drain. 
Add spices, stir well and heat through. 
Add cream cheese an stir until melted. 
Serve over rice. 

I've not been grocery shopping lately either, so that is what we'll be doing this weekend, weather permitting. There is possibly bad weather in the works for Tennessee today and that will determine if we are wanting to get out of the house this weekend. 

I hope you have a great weekend!


Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, January 8, 2018

Making Do ~ Applesauce Banana Bread

This week I needed to make some items for lunches since we are going back to school/work this week. 

I had most of the items on hand for this Applesauce Banana Bread, including plenty of bananas in the freezer. I had everything but flour, so I improvised. 

I have plenty of oatmeal on hand, so I ground it up in my food processor and used that instead. It made the banana bread turn out dense, but with  delicious flavor. 

I love this idea because I do have a lot of oatmeal on hand, so I will continue to use this method when necessary. 

Applesauce Banana Bread

Ingredients:

4 Bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mash bananas in a large bowl.
Stir in sugar and let stand 5 minutes. 
Add applesauce and eggs and beat well. 
Add remaining ingredients and mix well. 
Pour into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan. 
Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before removing from pan. 
Cool on wire rack. 

I ended up making two loaves of this and have already packed some in my lunch for tomorrow. 
Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Potato Pancakes

Potato Pancakes are a good example of a frugal food since they are made by using leftover mashed potatoes. 

What I do is take one egg and scramble it in a bowl and then add the mashed potatoes, onion powder, flour, and salt and pepper. 

The consistency I look for is a thick batter that holds together well. 

I don't measure the ingredients, but if you are looking for a basic recipe, you can follow this one: 

2 cups mashed potatos
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup flour
Onion powder
Salt & Pepper
1 egg

Heat up some butter or oil in a skillet and add the batter in spoonfuls. I then flatten them out to the size I want. 

Once they are brown, I flip them over and brown the other side. Then when they're done I remove them to a plate and finish making the rest of the pancakes. 

My family really enjoys these. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, January 5, 2018

Frugality at the Frugal Workshop

We stayed home five out of seven days this week, which saved money on gas. 

We went out on Tuesday to have the oil changed in my car. My BIL changed it and only charges me $20 for supplies. He uses synthetic oil, which will last at least 5,000 miles. 

While I was in town we went to Food City to pick up an RX and paid $4.00 for that. 

This week I earned another $5.00 gift card for Amazon from Microsoft Rewards. 

I cooked dinner from scratch all seven days of this week and there was no eating out, not even for drinks. 

I made $16.92 on an item I sold on Ebay this week. 

School was cancelled for Thursday and Friday due to the extreme cold here. Hopefully school will be back in session on Monday, so I can get back to work. 

We went to town on Friday to run errands and get in on a good deal on milk. 



IGA had their milk on sale for $1.29 per gallon with a limit of one gallon. My daughter and I both got one gallon. 


We also went to Food City to get a few things and spent $13.96 on yogurt, butter, sour cream, saltines, dressing, hot dogs, and free cream cheese. 


I normally don't buy these boxed dressings, but Food City has them marked down to 50¢, so I bought the last three cornbread ones they had. 


$1.99 for beef hot dogs was too good of a deal to pass up today. 


The Arla cream cheese was free. There is a coupon machine next to them offering the item for free. They were out of the regular flavor, but this Mediterranean Garden flavor looked good to me. 

How was your week?

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Grocery Stores SE Tennessee

Have you ever thought about where you grocery shop? 

Do you consider how many miles away your favorite store is and if it's worth it to make the drive there for groceries? 

We live in a rural area so, I am used to driving long distances to get most anywhere. 

We are fortunate that we have over a dozen grocery stores to choose from. I've listed these in order from the closest store to my house to the store that is the farthest away. 

Shopping at the store closest to me will save me money on gas and wear and tear on my car. Saving money in as many areas as possible will get me and you the most mileage on our frugal journeys. 

While some of these grocery stores are farther away, if we are in that town, we usually always stop by to check out any good deals.  It's in our best interest to stop in and check out their deals. I do not shop at all these stores regularly. Some of them I shop regularly in and others less often. 

My grocery budget is $300 a month, which allows me to spend $10 a day on food. Planning our menus around what is one sale saves me money each month, so I make sure to peruse the grocery sale ads every week.

Having said that, here are the stores we are able to shop at...

Fresh & Low (5.8 miles away)
This is the closest grocery store to my house and they have some very good deals such as 5 items from the produce section for $9.99. But, they do add 10% at the register, so that has to be factored into the prices. 

IGA (9.9 miles away)
This is the ONLY grocery store in the town where I work. As a result of that, prices are high and food quality can be low, especially on frozen vegetables. I practically refuse to buy them as I've had freezer burn from them before.  

Food City (15.1 miles away)
We actually have two Food City locations in town and one just over the state line in Georgia. Food City has become my favorite grocery store. They have good sales and I can also get some of my prescriptions for $4.00 there. 

Save A Lot (15.4 miles away)
Honestly, we have so many grocery stores to choose from that I rarely shop at Save A Lot. I'm sorry to say this, but this store is on hill and I've watched as more than one person has let their shopping cart go careening down the hill, once they are done unloading the groceries, and let it smash into another car. I don't want my car hit this way, so I steer clear. 

United Grocery Outlet (15.5 miles away)
UGO has some of the best prices on canned goods, which I've blogged about before. Their prices have risen since the Great Recession, so they don't have as good of prices as they used to, but they can still be a good source of inexpensive groceries. 

Cooke's Hometown Grocer (16.7 miles away)
I love Cooke's and they also own the local Fresh and Low grocery stores. They used to have the best crash and burn items, but lately the items have been overpriced, so it's been a while since I've bought any there. They carry some of my favorite dried beans, so I always look at those when I'm there. 
 
Food Lion (16.7 miles away)
There used to be two Food Lions in town, but they closed one of the stores. I used to shop there more often than I do now. The produce can be iffy, so I try to be careful. Lately they seem to be doing more of the "you can get this sale price, but only for 1 or 2 days" and I don't care for that. I like to combine errands to save money, so this type of sale does not always work for me. 

Aldi  (17.3 miles away)
Aldi has some of the best prices on produce and non-sale frozen vegetables. 

Publix (18.2 miles away)
Publix no longer had any competition once Bi-Lo left town, and it really showed. Their sales and coupons are not nearly as good as they once were and they even stopped doubling coupons.  As a result, I shop there less and less often than I once did. 

Piggly Wiggly (20.8 miles or away)
I've noticed that Piggly Wiggly and Cooke's offer the same sale items each week, so I have to wonder if they are somehow related . I like Piggly Wiggly for their sale on Oscar Mayer hot dogs and bologna, which they have every three months. They also double coupons, a win-win in my book. 

Ingles Markets (23.3 miles)
Located in Georgia. Honestly, their prices tend to be higher and they don't stock a lot of product, so I am not much of a fan of Ingles. They do honor double coupons, however. 

Kroger (28.7 miles away)
Located in Georgia. This is the grocery store that is farthest away from me, but if I will be in that area I am sure to stop in as they have some of the best yellow sticker deals we can find. We live in a rural area so, I am used to driving long distances to get most anywhere. Kroger also offers double coupons. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, January 1, 2018

January 2018 Monthly Menu

Here is a list of the menus I plan on making in January. They are in no particular order and some of them are repeated. 
  1. Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
  2. Beef Stew and Cornbread
  3. Broccoli and Cheese soup & Grilled Cheeese Sandwiches
  4. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
  5. Tacos
  6. Chili Tacos
  7. Taco Salad
  8. Taco Casserole
  9. 15 Bean Cajun Soup
  10. Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice
  11. Mexican Rice Tacos
  12. Smoked Sausage, Macaroni & Cheese, Vegetable
  13. Rice & Cheese, Vegetable
  14. Baked Potato Bar, Steamed Broccoli
  15. Sausage Quiche
  16. Chicken Pot Pie
  17. Chicken Pot Pie
  18. Homemade Pizza
  19. Spaghetti & Garlic Bread
  20. Smoked Sausage & Fried Potatoes, Vegetable
  21. Chili
  22. Chili Mac & Cheese
  23. Loaded Double Baked Potatoes, Vegetable
  24. Crockpot Chicken Fajitas
  25. Crockpot Crustless Broccoli Cheese Quiche
  26. Hamburgers
  27. Pedernales Potatoes 
  28. Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
  29. Twice Baked Potato Casserole
  30. Au Gratin Potatoes & Ham
  31. Smoked Sausage, Rice & Cheese, Vegetable
Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~

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