Monday, February 29, 2016

February ~ End of the Month Report

All of our bills have been paid for February 2016. I did charge several things this month, but they have already been paid in full. 

Grocery:  $242.32
Gas:  $65.77

Grocery spending was up due to me renewing our membership at Sam's Club. Gas spending was down due to lower gas prices here. 

This was a month which saw a lot of expenses for my daughter who will be graduating in May. Seems like every time I turned around there was another fee to pay.  

I paid for her senior graduation package including announcements, graduation fee for the high school, yearbook, tassel from the NHS, and graduation cap and gown. 

Senior year comes with extra expenses, but I believe everything is paid for now unless something unexpected comes up. 

There were extra clothing expenses for my daughter in February due to her Spring Break coming up in March. She is preparing for a trip with her surrogate grandmother. All expenses for that trip have already been paid for as well. 

Looking ahead to March, I already have my budget prepared. Our school system used seven snow days in February, so my paycheck in March will be much smaller as a result and I have planned my budget accordingly. 

~ Living within my means in Southern Tennessee ~

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pizza! Pizza! #2

Homemade pizza is cheaper than takeout and easy to make. And of course, one way to save money by making your pizza at home is to buy your ingredients in bulk. I often buy my yeast, flour, sauce and cheese in bulk from from Sam's Club. 

First thing you need to make pizza is the crust. My favorite pizza crust recipe can be found here

One of the secrets to making a good pizza dough is to let the dough rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight. This time of slow yeast activation allows the dough to develop a much better flavor than it would if you just used the dough directly after mixing. 

Sometimes, in order to save money by using what I have on hand, I use other items for the pizza crust. These items include...

English Muffins
French or Italian Bread
Flour or CornTortillas
Flat Out Wraps

Again, using what  I have on hand or have bought on sale saves me more money over buying a ready made pizza crust or takeout pizza. 

 The next thing you will need for your pizza is the sauce. I have used many different things for the sauce on our pizzas. 

I have used tomato paste, tomato sauce, ketchup, crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, canned and jarred pizza sauce, Amy Dacyczyn's homemade pizza sauce (which I found to be very bitter), etc. Again, using whatever I have on hand to save money. 

Another thing I sometimes do for pizza sauce,  is to buy the number ten can of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, or pizza sauce from Sam's Club, although I did not see any pizza sauce on my last trip to Sam's this past week.  

One way to save money with the number ten can is to figure out how much sauce you like on your pizzas and freeze portions in that quantity. I like my pizza with very little sauce, so I use a mini muffin pan to freeze correct pizza size portions and then store these in my freezer. 

Homemade Taco Pizza

Here are some other posts from me about pizza you may enjoy reading:

Pizza! Pizza!


Saturday Night Pizza

And of course, last week I shared how I make pizza kits for the freezer. 

What is your favorite way to save money on pizza? 


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Frugal Happenings Lately

Monday, Monday.  :)

It was a busy weekend here, and I did not get the chance to post. Here is what we've been up to lately...

- Replaced the battery in my 98 Olds Cutlass, which is the one we use to haul off garbage. I don't want to put anything like that in my newer car, so I need to maintain the older one. Cost was $88 and my Brother-In-Law put it in for me. 

- Now that the battery was replaced I was able to take off two weeks of garbage, fill the gas tank up, and fill one of the tires that has a slow leak. The fill up with gas was only $14 and will last around two months. 

- For my regular readers, I've not had any luck finding a garbage service for our area. 

- Packaged up the mozzarella cheese and pepperoni I bought last week into pizza kits for the freezer. 

- I had the oil changed in my newer car and did not have to pay anything today. I prepaid for five years of oil changes when I bought the car. So, in 2020 I will still be getting oil changes at the 2015 price.  :)

- I used a $15 off coupon that I received in the mail to buy  a new swim suit for my daughter for spring break.  

- I used a rewards card to save $6.40 and then saved an additional $8.64 by using my credit card to buy her a cover up for the swim suit. Of course, I have already paid the credit card in full. Nice to get the additional savings for that. 

- Found some Pepperidge Farm dressing mix on mark down for $1.50 each. 

- Made deviled eggs and sandwiches with the egg salad I made this weekend. 

Last week we had Monday off for President's Day and then I worked the rest of the week. 

I hope you had a happy, frugal week.  :)

~ Living within my means in Southern Tennessee ~

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cloth Pads

Hand Sewn by Me on Etsy
There is a lot of information online about making your own cloth pads. I made some a few years ago and I've bought a few online over the years too. 

My favorite pads come from Hand Sewn by Me who has an Etsy shop where she sells hers. There are also a lot of shops to buy cloth pads online and at places like Etsy and Ebay if you are interested. 

I used cloth pads when I had a yeast infection last year because the disposable ones I used every day were deodorized and making the problem worse. 

Hand Sewn by Me on Etsy
My daughter ended up with a UTI last summer and made the switch over to cloth to try them out and they immediately made the situation better. She is allergic to many things, turns out the chemicals used in disposable pads are also one of them. 

The end result is that she absolutely LOVES cloth pads, and she has noticed a world of difference in using them. She has said she will not go back to disposable feminine products.

Hand Sewn by Me on Etsy
I am loving the fact that I am saving so much money on feminine pads. 

There was a point in time that we were spending around $50 a month on feminine pads for both of us, but mostly for her. 

We worked with her physician and now with that and the transition to cloth pads we are saving a lot of money in this area of our budget. 

The money I spent on the cloth pads will more than pay for itself in just a few months.  

Hand Sewn by Me on Etsy
The only problem with this was that we only had a few of them on hand when this first started and since she wears them everyday she ends up washing them every day also. 

Last summer I went to shop our local thrift store looking for fabric. I found several items of clothing, mostly from flannel, that were perfect for this project without having to buy new material. 

I bought a cute pair of flannel pants and using my seam ripper took those apart to use the material. I also picked up several baby blankets as they are the perfect material to use. And the thrift shop only charged me 25¢ per blanket.

I also bought a baby mattress pad cover to use that as a non absorbent material, so they would not leak. You can see the pattern I made up here along with the core I made for her and the stack of material. 

Unfortunately, that is when my sewing machine decided to stop working. I've not had a chance to replace it yet, but I will and I will finish these for her someday. 

Hand Sewn by Me on Etsy
In the meantime I bought some for her from Hand Sewn by Me on Etsy. Her craftsmanship is wonderful and my daughter loves these. 

The things I love about these are the money we have saved since switching over to cloth. And the fact that my daughter has not had a UTI since she switched over to cloth. 

Switching to cloth was the right choice for her and such a money saver. 

Sometimes we have frugal failures. I tried to take the most frugal route by making cloth pads myself, which did not work out. 

But I found another route, which will take me longer to recoup my money than my original plan, but is still a frugal choice and still saves me a great deal of money in the end. I will recoup my money in just a matter of months. 

That is a a win-win situation to me.  :)

Living within my means in southern Tennessee

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Frugal Saturday

Pictured below are two free items I received in the mail this week. One was for a full size can of Axe dry spray deodorant and a coupon for $1.50 off the same item from Target. 

The other free item was for flushable wipes from Cottonelle along with a $1.00 off coupon for Cottonelle toilet paper or wipes. 

We've had some snow in the weather here this week and ended up using four snow days as a result. Unfortunately I missed two days of subbing as a result. 

Some frugal things we did this week include:

Paid $1.38 per gallon for gas at Sam's Club in Chattanooga. I filled up my car for $17.71, which tickled me. However, my brother, who lives in Illinois, is buying gas for 99¢ per gallon! 

Went to Sam's Club this past week and bought pizza making items. I noticed an increase in price on two of the items I normally buy, but did see a decrease in the price of mozzarella cheese. 

August 2012
Pepperoni - $7.98
Black Olives - $6.25

February 2016 
Pepperoni - $10.18 - an increase of $2.12
Black Olives - $9.48 - an increase of $3.23

Mozzarella Cheese (5 pound bag)
June 2010 - $10.37
March 2011 - $11.29
April 2011 - $12.98
January 2012 - $11.98
August 2012 - $11.26
February 2016 - $10.48

I also bought two packages cole slaw, three Asian salad kits, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, pepperoni, sour cream, worcestershire sauce, tortillas, cottage cheese, and yeast.

Today I am making chili for dinner. I used this opportunity to use up a few things that I had lingering in my pantry. 

I used the taco seasoning and sauce from this taco kit and used the shells and a little bit of the hamburger from the chili to make oven baked tacos for lunch today. I also used up the last of three cartons of tomato sauce. It's good to use these items up and get them out of the pantry. 

How is your Saturday shaping up?

~ Living within my means in Southern Tennessee ~

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Things We Don't Buy

Amy Dacyczyn has always said that the concept of passive frugality was difficult to get across. Back when she was being interviewed regularly, photographers wanted to take pictures of her doing frugal activities like hanging laundry or baking bread.  

However, she felt like what she chose NOT to spend money on was most significant and had the greatest impact of her family's lifestyle. She wanted them to photograph her zooming past McDonald's without stopping or bypassing the junk food aisle at the grocery store. 

Things We Don't Buy

Technology - I don't keep up with technology. I make do with what I have until it stops working. Back when I had a desktop computer, I also had one of those huge monitors that went with it. I didn't like it because it took up so much room on my desk and I wanted one of the flat screen monitors, but I wouldn't buy one. I made do with that dinosaur for years, way past the time it was fashionable to do so, until the computer tower bit the dust. 

Insurance - I don't pay more for Insurance that necessary. I have two options when my Insurance comes due. I can pay $159 now or I can pay $89 in two installments. By paying the $159 now I am able to save myself $19 in the process. I drove my last car for 15 years (and still going strong), so I saved $855 over the lifetime of the car by paying it all at once. 

Paper Plates, Napkins, 
Plastic Forks, Spoons, Knives - I don't want to spend my hard earned money on something that is used once and then thrown away. I don't mind washing dishes, so that is what we do here. 

Beer, Wine, Coffee - I know people spend money on these items and I believe that it's up to each individual how to spend their money. As for me, I don't care for the taste of any of these, so I don't buy them. 

Soda PopI mostly drink water, but will drink a pop once in a blue moon. I do buy them every now and then for my daughter and I do keep Sprite on hand for sick tummies. Not buying them very often just happens to save me money. 

Magazines or Magazine Subscriptions - I have had many free magazine subscriptions, so much so that I have begun to dislike the majority of them. The only magazine I would pay for is Mother Earth News because I love it.  

Newspaper Subscriptions - I would pay for this if they delivered here, but they don't, so this is why it gets added to the list. ;)

Sports Equipment, Sports Tickets, Sports Training - My family is not interested in sports, so we don't spend any money in this category. We do have friends however who spend a great deal of money for their children to have sports training. 

Fundraisers - As a substitute teacher I am asked on a regular basis to buy items for fundraisers. Depending upon what it is, I may or may not buy it. 

Last year when the basketball team was selling Cokes, which we do not drink, I asked the coach how much money the team made out of a single sale. 

The Cokes were on sale for $22 and the team made $3.00 from the sale of each one. I donated $10 in the name of the student who asked me and felt like that was a good compromise. 

School Pictures - We do not always buy school pictures. My daughter's senior photo session turned out to be very upsetting to her and it shows in her photos. They were just awful, so I did not buy any of them this year.  

Individual Frozen Dinners - These are expensive for the amount of food they give you, so not a very good deal money wise. 

Cable TV - I enjoy watching reruns of old TV shows, so we usually trade for them at McKay's Used Books and I watch them on my DVD player, so no money spent for cable TV. 

Landline Telephone - I pay $70 a month for mine and my daughter's cell phones. It also serves as an alarm clock, address book, and calendar. Like so many other people, I do not see a need for a landline, so I do not pay for one. 

Lottery Tickets - The odds of winning are so slim that I am better off keeping any money I would spend on lottery tickets. 

Vacations - If we had a bigger income, we might go on vacations, but honestly I don't like driving that far away from home, so for now we don't spend money on vacations. 

Manicures & Pedicures - I know some people who spend $25.00 to get their nails done. I think those are really nice and if I had the extra money I would consider it, but for now I can take that $25 and put it to use on something that we need rather than something we want. 

Making a list like this from time to time is useful and helps me to make better choices for our financial situation. 

Living within my means.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Frugal Week

Staples recently sent me a coupon for $10 off a $10 purchase. Not wanting this freebie to go to waste, my daughter and I stopped in there yesterday to use it. We ended up with a package of colored filler paper, heavy duty packaging tape, and some one touch tape strips as well. I ended up paying $1.39 for these items, so not bad at all. 

Panara Bread recently sent me an email letting me know that my rewards card with them had a free bagel on it every day in February. So far I have taken advantage of it three times choosing a cinnamon raisin bagel each time. What a great reward.  :)

My first bagel...

IGA has a sale on Hillshire Farm Little Smokies this week. They are priced at $2.00 per package. 

We were lucky to be able to get the five packs pictured here. The cashier said they had been sold out earlier in the day and when I went back the next day they still did not have any more. 

These will make for some inexpensive dinners. I've already made pigs in a blanket with them one night for dinner this week. 

Here are a few cleaning products I picked up for $1.00 each this week. 

Two bleach tabs for the commode and a package of eight scouring pads. 

I always cut these scouring pads in half and then into quarters and usually into eighths to make them last longer. These will last me well over one year using them this way. 

Here is a man after my own heart. 

Someone posted this picture on Facebook of a customer buying eggs at our local Aldi where they were on sale for 99¢ a carton this week.  The man has twelve cartons of eggs in his cart. Like I said, a man after my own heart.  :) 

How was your week?

~ Living within my means in Southern Tennessee ~

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Down to Earth Blog

Rhonda over at the Down to Earth blog has the type of blog that I think my readers will enjoy. She believes in the power of her own home to live a simple life, which allows her to avoid needless spending and acquisition. Here are three links to a series that she wrote that I think you will particularly enjoy. 

Reducing the Cost of Living Part One

Reducing the Cost of Living Part Two

Reducing the Cost of Living Part Three

~ Living within my means ~

Monday, February 1, 2016

January End of the Month

Saturday breakfast was sausage, scrambled eggs, biscuits, strawberry or grape jelly, hot chocolate, and orange juice. 

$142.56 was the total amount I spent on food in the grocery stores in January. 

Of course, we had a lot of food left at the beginning of the month from the holidays and we have a well stocked pantry, so those things helped me to keep a lower grocery bill this month. 

I mostly shop the sales as you can see from my shopping trips. I buy enough to last us a while and that helps to keep my grocery bill lower. 

~ Living within my means in Southern Tennessee ~

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