Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Make Do & Mend

The Die, Workwear blog has a great post up entitled, 

"How We Lost Our Ability to Mend." 

It's a really good article and there are some fantastic photos at the end of the article of clothes that have been mended. I know that several of my readers would enjoy the article. 

I found the information about Ralph Lauren's flannel shirt really neat, especially where he bought it from. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Snow Day

School is closed today due to inclement weather aka snow. They've already called school off for tomorrow too. I'm scheduled to work the rest of this week, but with the snow that might not happen. 

Either way it's a good day for soup, so I made a batch of vegetable soup today in my Instapot. It will be good warm food on this snowy day. 

I've gotten a lot done around the house today since we've stayed home. That's the positive side of a snow day.

What's the weather like where you are?

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, January 25, 2019

Last Frugal Friday of January 2019

While my daughter was thrift shopping last week she found some clothes in my size. She found me one shirt and five dresses all for $3.00 each.  


This week I was able to work two days. As usual I packed lunches and beverages from home both days to save money.  
Stayed Home/No Spend Days:


Having four stay home no spend days has really helped me save money on gas. I started the week with a full tank and still have one today on Friday. Can't beat that. :)

Part of the week was spent posting items for sale online. My daughter sold multiple items this week while I sold two items. 

Freebies This Week:

John Stossel in the Classroom DVDs
Free Calendar

In My Frugal Kitchen:

Added to the pantry:

2 cans evaporated milk 88¢ each

This week I made some fruit and yogurt parfaits, just like they make at McDonalds. The great thing about these is that they cost less than $1.00 when made at home verses the ones at McDs. 

They were made using vanilla yogurt, which I bought in the quart size tub and frozen fruit. They made a good quick breakfast or snack this week. 

Dinners This Week:

Saturday:  Pizza & Salad
Sunday: Pork Chops, Potatoes, Carrots
Monday: Tacos
Tuesday: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Peas
Wednesday: Cheeseburgers, Fries, Coleslaw
Thursday: Deconstructed Egg Rolls, Broccoli
Friday: Chicken Pot Pie

That's all the news to report from here this week. How was your week? Any frugal wins or fails? We would love to read all about it in the comment section. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Food Saving Strategies

If you're trying to save money on food you should be buying food at the lowest possible price. Figure out the prices you're willing to pay and watch the sales to see if you can get it even lower. Then stock up! 

When the grocery store is selling pasta for $1.00 per box you'll have a nice warm feeling when you're eating the pasta you stocked up on when it was 50¢ per box. 

Rotate your food to keep the older food in the front where it will be used first. When I bought pasta at 50¢ per box, I took all the pasta out of my cabinet and put the new pasta in the back and the older pasta in the front. That way I would use the older pasta first, not let any go to waste, thus saving money.  

Base your meals around those inexpensive items like pasta, beans, and rice. Buy generic or store brand. Shop with a list to avoid impulse buys (but don't avoid any items on sale/clearance, yellow sticker)

Buy what is on sale and in bulk and then shop and cook from what you have on hand. You will always have food to eat that you didn't pay full price for. Invest in a chest freezer, so you have a place to store items you find on sale.

Planning ahead because you're organized can be made easier by keeping track of what you have and making a plan. 

Eliminate waste - run your kitchen like a well oiled machine. Keep track of what you have on hand and use it up before it expires. You've spent time and money on your food, don't let it go to waste now. Treat your food inventory and cooking and planning like a business. 

Make yourself accountable. Track your food spending money and identify any problem areas. Do the same thing with your leftovers and ensure there is no waste. 

Shop at Multiple Stores - We shop at different stores to get the best possible price on our food. We peruse the store ads and make a list and then we shop the stores as we run errands. If I'm picking up an RX at Food City then I'll get their deals, same with Publix. 

Shop the discount grocery stores. Our area includes United Grocery Outlet, Fresh & Low, Dollar Tree, Save A Lot, and Aldi. 

Just some thoughts this morning to help save money on food. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday ~ 1-19-2019

Yesterday was payday since this is a holiday weekend, so I've spent some time this morning paying bills. 

We went to the bank and decide to run some errands since we were in town. I wanted to pick up a few deals that were on sale. 

The first stop we made was to Publix where they had Smucker's Jams and Jellies on sale for buy one get one free. 

We love the Smucker's cherry preserves. It's like eating cherry pie on toast. Publix had it for $3.07 and with the discount it was $1.53. 

They only had one jar left though, so I got a raincheck to get more later. 

We also picked up one jar of blueberry preserves to try. It was originally $3.38, but with the discount it came to $1.69.

Our next stop was Food City to get potatoes, sausage, canned vegetables, and tamales. 

They had ten pound bags of potatoes for $2.99, canned vegetables for 49¢, tamales for 99¢, and Swaggerty's sausage for $2.49. 

My daughter likes canned tamales and they are a good lunch for her to fix when I'm working. They are normally $1.89, so 99¢ was a great price. We were going to get ten cans, but they only had nine left, so that is what we bought. 

They also had TN Pride sausage on sale on Friday only for $1.99 and Swaggerty's sausage on sale through Tuesday for $2.49. We love the Swaggerty's sausage while the TN Pride is just OK. 

So, I paid the extra 51¢ and bought the Swaggerty's. They only had two left though, so we bought those and have until Tuesday if we want to get more, which I do. 

My daughter picked up some coleslaw at Ingle's when she went the other day as it was on sale for $1.28, so will will be having deconstructed egg rolls for dinner one night soon. 

There was a limit of twenty cans on the vegetables, but I only bought four as I didn't want to have to carry twenty cans up the stairs and into the house. So I bought two cans of corn and two cans of green beans. 

If you recall we have multiple steps to get into our house and if it's already dark I'd rather not stay outside any longer than necessary. 

We are staying home today and will have a no spend day. I'll be making pizza later and a salad to serve with it. I have multiple things that I need to work on today and will be busy with those. What are your plans for today?

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, January 18, 2019

Frugal Friday

Welcome to Friday! 

This week I was able to sub two days. All lunches and dinners were made at home as well as beverages. 

Our dinners this week:

Saturday: Baked Spaghetti, Garlic Toast
Sunday: Baked Spaghetti, Garlic Toast, Broccoli
Monday: Homemade Chili
Tuesday & Wednesday: Chili Tacos
Thursday: Baked Chicken, Brown Rice, Vegetables
Friday: Chicken Enchiladas, Mexican Rice

I made chili on Monday and normally we like to have corn chips and cheese with ours, but I was feeling sticker shop from our grocery shop on Monday, so I didn't purchase those things. 

I served the chili with a dollop of sour cream and crackers. The sleeve of crackers cost 25¢, so much cheaper than the corn chips. 

This week I earned a $5.00 gift card for Amazon from Microsoft Rewards. I'm going to try and save these up this year and spend in December this year. 

On Tuesday I subbed in a classroom where we watched the film Viva La Causa, which is the story of the 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike.  The film tells the story of Cesar Chaves and is a movement for social justice. The film is free to educators at the Teaching Tolerance website when mailed to a school address. 

I made some Cinnamon & Spice Iced Tea this week loosely following this recipe. I brewed mine rather than let it steep in the refrigerator. The recipe was good, but a little strong for me. So next time I make it I will use less tea bags, which will save money.  

Yesterday my daughter was out thrift shopping when I got off from work. I wanted to go to Target since she wasn't home, but I fought the urge and came home and made dinner instead. 

This week we've kept the heat turned down. It's currently 58 degrees in the house, but we are dressed appropriately. 

The electric bill is only $157 this month and if we turned the heat on as much as we'd like to it would be over $300, so keeping it turned down helps us saves money. 

School was cancelled today due to sickness and Monday is the MLK Jr. Holiday, so we have a four day weekend. I hope all of you have a terrific weekend. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mr. Money Mustache & YouTube

Mr Money Mustache, who runs the Mr. Money Mustache personal finance website, has started making videos on YouTube that are financially based and pretty interesting. 

Here is the first video if you'd like to see it:

Here is the second video:

The third video:

And the fourth video, where he really begins to pick up steam. 

I don't know if you've ever read the Mr. Money Mustache blog but it's worth the read. I started at the first blog and over time eventually read his entire blog. 

I thought it was interesting to see that he and his son had started this channel, so I wanted to share it with my readers. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, January 14, 2019

Medium Grocery Haul - GDA Peanut Butter

Today we went grocery shopping at Walmart and Cookes. I had sticker shock walking through Walmart, so we didn't buy as much as we normally would at this time of the month. 

Here is what we picked up at Walmart:

Orange Juice 2.38
Parmesan Cheese 5.78
Cheddar Cheese $4.22
100 Corn Tortillas 3.38
Lettuce 1.28
Tomatoes $1.98
Green Grapes $4.87
Tetley Tea $1.68
Bigelow Orange Tea $2.48
Mashed Potatoes 78¢
Squeeze Ginger $3.44
Sprite $5.78
Sugar $4.97
Log Cabin $5.64
English Muffins $1.18
Whole What Bread $1.48
Italian Bread 50¢
Carrots $1.54
Potatoes 3.17

The other place we shopped was Cooke's, and we went there because they had a great sale on peanut butter. The eighteen ounce jars were priced at $1.00 each, so I stocked up and bought ten jars. Here is what we bought there:

Peanut Butter $1.00 Jar
Frozen Broccoli 10/$10
Pumpkin Tea bags 74¢

I have to say I was disappointed shopping in Walmart as I can see their prices are just slightly higher than other places we shop. Anywhere from 50¢ and up on several different items adds up and it's the reason I don't shop there exclusively. 

Anyway, I'll be checking the sale ads on Wednesday again and seeing what's on sale. I didn't want to pass up the peanut butter sale this week, which ends tomorrow. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Earning Money Substitute Teaching

As most of my readers know I earn money by substitute teaching, which is a job I've done over the past ten years. I also subbed when my daughter was an infant for a couple of years. 

If you're interested in earning money while substitute teaching than this article is for you. 

The first thing I did to start subbing was to visit the school district's (where I wanted to sub) central office. Each school district will have their own set of rules for hiring substitute teachers. 

Some school districts require only a high school diploma or GED. Others will require a Bachelor's Degree and/or teaching certificate. The district I work in required only a high school diploma when I started. 

Today they require a teaching certificate, but the district has a shortage of subs and have been known to be flexible on that issue. So, check with your school district as the rules have been known to change. 

For me, I had some paperwork to fill out and had to have a background check, which I paid for at the time. At the time I paid for mine back in 2003 it was $50, I'm not sure what they cost today. Sometimes the school district will reimburse you for this expense, but not always. It pays to ask about this. 

As far as subbing goes, I get called multiple times per week to sub. I've had multiple teachers ask for the same day especially when there is a county wide meeting. 

I've even been asked to cancel subbing jobs in favor of another teacher. And sometimes I've had teachers ask another teacher if they can trade another sub for me. In a case where I might work for them three days in a row or something similar. 

Substitute Teaching isn't simply walking into a classroom and showing a movie. In fact it's pretty rare that a movie is shown. It depends on the teacher as to what work the students will do each day. 

Some teachers want students to continue with the work they are currently doing in class and will leave assignments for that purpose.

Other teachers will leave  work the students are not working on in class, but are capable of doing as they do not want to interrupt their teaching process. 

And some teachers, especially ones who are sick or have an emergency, might not leave any plans, but that is very rare. Depending on the age, It's fun to have students write a story about "What happened to Mrs. Teacher?" in a case like that. 

Any time you are in doubt you can either buzz the office and ask or ask a teacher near your classroom. I've always found a friendly teacher next door to ask and answer questions. 

One rule of thumb, if you decide to sub, is not to let students get into the teacher's desk. Some children have a fascination with the teacher's desk and want to rifle through it. I always nip this behavior in the bud. 

You are working for that teacher and you want to protect his or her things, so keep students out of anything they have no business going through. 

Same thing goes for the teacher's classroom rules. If I had a nickel for everytime a student said to me, "but she's not here" I would be rich. I always tell students that we follow the teacher's rules even when they are not there. It demonstrates respect for their teacher. 

Another good rule is to always leave the room as clean as when you got there. Teachers are more likely to call you back if you take care of their things while they are away.

Another good rule of thumb is have some sort of classroom management. Students will pick up on this right away and try to get away with things they wouldn't do if their teacher were there. Nip this in the bud as soon as possible by taking  charge immediately. 

Teachers have planning periods, so you might have some down time. Sometimes the office may need you to fill in somewhere else, but that is not always the case. 

You can always bring some work to do during this time or bring something to read. I've done all sorts of things during this time. Reading, crossposting resale items, work on my blog, etc. 

At the end of the day leave a note for the teacher. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to sub in their place. Let them know how the day went and leave any names who were especially good and helpful and any who were misbehaving. 

If you're interested in subbing, The NEA - National Education Association has a state by state summary of substitute teacher requirements. 

And most of all have fun with your students - get to know them if you can. My area of subbing runs from 6th grade through 12th grade, so I've had the privilege of watching some of these children grow up into mature adults. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, January 11, 2019

Frugal Friday

Welcome to Friday and the weekend. This week I was able to sub three days. I brought lunch and drinks with me, so no money spent there.

Freebies we received this week include address labels from St. Jude's Hospital, sugar scrub from Loreal, and three facial masks from Sephora. 

Gas is down to $1.65 per gallon here. I filled up my gas tank this week using funds earned on Ebay from selling the pocket knives from my cousin last week. 

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know with substitute teaching and reselling we have a variable income here. 

January is the time of the year when our income is at an all time low and this year is no exception. Therefore we try to keep any unnecessary spending to the bare minimum during this time. 

My yearly membership for my Insurance is due in January each year. I paid for it today using funds I made selling items on Ebay. So, no money out of my paycheck went to pay this fee, which is great considering our lower income this month. 

We ate every meal at home this week and stayed out of the stores. Meals here this week included Tacos, Italian Pork Tenderloin, Pigs in a Blanket, Pizza, and Chicken Casserole along with multiple vegetable side dishes.  

This week in our fridge to drink you'll find water, orange soda, grape juice, green tea, sweet tea, and lemonade. These were all made here at home in order to save money. 

We are out of fresh milk at the moment, but I do have shelf stable milk in my pantry. Therefore I was able to make scalloped potatoes for dinner on Friday. Times like these are reasons why keeping a stocked pantry comes in handy. 

The weather has been warm enough here that we've not had to have any heat or a/c on this week. Today has changed that though and it is very cold, so we finally turned on some heat today. 

It's been a quiet week here with not a lot of frugal activity but that's all the news I have to report. How was your week? I would love to read all about it in the comment section. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, January 7, 2019

Being Content with What You Have

The majority of the time I am content with my life and don't usually want for anything. I'm normally a happy person and it shows in my interactions with others. 

We may not drive a fancy car or have the latest technology, but that doesn't bother me. I am content with what I have. 

Some days when I think about the things we want or need I often realize how fortunate we are to have what we already have. Some people have so much less than we do and would consider what we have to be a blessing. 

Some people have more than we do, like my sister. But you know what? I'm happy for her because I know she doesn't have to struggle for money. That gives me peace inside because I don't have to worry about her. I know her and her family are doing well. 

I have an uncle who struggles with alcoholism and homelessness. That is a lifestyle he has chosen. Yes, we worry about him but we can't live his life for him. He has to want to make some serious changes in his life.

My elderly grandmother told my Dad one time that she wished she had enough money to help her children when they had financial struggles. She worried and prayed for her children her whole life. So you can see that it is indeed a blessing when we have family that we don't have to worry about in that way. 

Some people struggle financially because they make poor choices. Spending money on things we want instead of making sure we have what we need is a recipe for financial struggles. 

The first thing I do when I get paid is pay all of my bills including insurance in case we lose something. A large percentage of my bill money goes to Insurance. This gives me peace of mind and helps me sleep at night, which is one of the reasons I feel content. 

You can adjust your wants and desires to fit your lifestyle. I enjoy staying home and enjoying what we have here. I do enjoy eating out, but I also enjoy a simple home cooked meal like a baked potato or beans. 

It doesn't take much to make me content, it's something I've come to appreciate over the years. 

I don't shop much, except for groceries, as I don't need the latest and greatest things I could buy in a store. 

In fact, when we do venture into a mall, about once a year, I often wonder if the people there are putting the things in their bags on a credit card. 

I remember Amy Dacyczyn writing in The Tightwad Gazette that reporters would get bored with their lifestyle of hanging laundry in the attic to dry and instead should film them zooming by McDonalds without stopping for food. 

We are not that prudent that we wouldn't stop at a fast food place if we needed to, but it's a mental attitude that I understand. 

Amy Dacyczyn was content with her life and didn't feel the need to eat food outside her home. Her choices made her the millionaire she is today. 

Just some food for thought on this Monday morning. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Sunday, January 6, 2019

What We Ate This Week

I wanted to let you know that I've switched my comment section to moderated for the time being. I've had multiple spam comments left this week and I want to nip it in the bud. 

Listed below is our menu for the last week. We are still using up several food items I bought for the holidays and our menu reflects that. 

Waste not, want not as the old saying goes. 

Ham & Cheese Sliders
Potato Salad



Deconstructed Egg Rolls
Steamed Broccoli

Mashed Potatoes
Green Peas
Friday & Saturday:
Mac & Cheese with Ham
Green Beans with Onions

Pigs in a Blanket
Homemade Fries
~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, January 4, 2019

Frugal Friday

The weather has been unseasonably warm and rainy here this week. Almost in the 70s and humid, but thanks to the cloud cover it did not get any warmer than that. 

The rain has caused it to be so humid that we tried sleeping with fans, but eventually turned on the a/c two nights this week just so we could sleep. I wish it would get a little bit cooler. 

My cousin sent me three pocket knives this week and told me to sell them on Ebay and keep the money. I thought that was very nice of him. I'm going to use the proceeds to pay toward my auto insurance this month rather than pull the money from savings. 

Thursday was the first day back to school and normally I don't get called to sub on the first day back from a break. But due to an emergency I subbed on Thursday and Friday.  

This week I received a free tea bag sample from The Republic of Tea along with their catalog. I'm not sure how often they send those, but it seems to be around every three months. 

We also received a nice freebie from Oil of Olay with three samples to try. 

We also received the last of our free bagels from Panera Bread this week. I just read that someone got free bagels in January. So, if you didn't get this freebie in December check your account to see if you have it now. 

Other than working two days, I stayed home this week. Staying home, combining errands when we to go to town, and packing lunches and drinks were included in the frugal things we did this week. 

I calculated the cost of the sandwich I took to work today at 81¢. It was roast chicken, cheddar cheese, and mayo on whole wheat bread. 81¢ is definitely cheaper than buying a sandwich anywhere else. 

It's the little things that add up over time and lead to big savings. I hope you've had a good and frugal week and that you have a great weekend too.  :)

~ Living within our Means ~

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Maintaining What You Already Own & Doing Without new Gadgets

This week I fixed the loose toilet seat in our bathroom. I knew that if I did not get it tightened that it would probably break and cause me to have to buy a new one. 

To start with I tried to fix it with a pair of pliers while leaning over the seat, but was unable to tighten it sufficiently. 

What I ended up doing was getting in the floor to really tighten it well and scrubbed the commode and floor while I was down there. 

What's funny is that now they offer toilet seat tightener kits. I saved money by doing it myself versus buying a $11.99 Ginsey toilet seat tightener kit from Walmart. 

Another thing we did this week in the bathroom was to hot glue the upper portion of our shower door to keep it from falling down. I'm not sure if it's missing a piece or what, but it won't be falling down again anytime soon. 

Maintaining what you own will definitely save you money over the years rather than buying new when something breaks down. 

When was the last time you vacuumed your refrigerator coils? That job will definitely extend the life of your refrigerator. 

This week I saw a new kitchen gadget for straining grease, which is called the Easy Greasy Strainer. 

Image Credit

This item sells for $19.95 at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I have my own system for straining grease from ground beef and includes my own strainer and a glass measuring cup. 

I set my strainer on top of the measuring cup and let the grease drain into the measuring cup below. Then I place the grease into a jar, let in cool, and place it in the garbage can. 

Now my grease removal system might not be fancy, but it works for me. And I have no need to spend $19.95 on a gadget when I already have the tools at home to handle the job. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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