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Archive for July, 2008

Frugal Black Beans

July 29th, 2008 at 04:11 pm

Black beans, or any other legume, are inexpensive and nutritious. This is my favorite black bean dish. It makes enough for two people as a meal. I'd use would double it if I were serving it as a dip.

I like to use simple recipes like this to save money, time and energy. It's nice on a hot summer day, when I don't want to turn on the oven.

1 can black beans, drain and rinsed
1/3c. chopped red onion
2 TBS chopped cilantro
1/4c. crumbled feta cheese
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS balsamic vinegar

Mix all together. Eat plain, in a tortilla, or with tortilla chips. Yum!!

Let me know if you like it!

Short on Goal

July 28th, 2008 at 02:21 pm

This months goal was to put $385 towards home equity payoff. I will be short because of unexpected expenses.

Today I made a payment of $207.50 towards the loan. This is my biggest extra payment yet, so I can't get to upset at myself.

I will try again next month.

Reinspired Frugalness

July 28th, 2008 at 08:06 am

As I've stated in my blog title, I see our money as some we spend now and some that we spend later. We've done a fair amount of spending as of late. A newer Honda Odyssey is now filling our garage along with four new bikes, helmets and a bike rack. We don't regret any of it. We've had quite a bit of fun getting to know our local trails and landscape.

After all that spending, I'm feeling inspired to do some frugal things. My husband is apparently on board with this, too. I mentioned last week that he discovered driving to work through town on side roads saves him 15 miles of driving vs. the 30 miles on the interstate around town.

He started last week with a full tank and instead of draining it in full, he ended the week with just under half a tank! Wow, what a difference. We estimate that he will only need to fill the tank three times a month vs. four. That saves us about $50 a month. He seems pretty excited that he figured this out on his own. I'm proud of him, too!

So, what am I doing to be frugal? The other day I found myself using the empty bag my bulk purchase of paper towels came in to empty the cat's litter box. I usually grab a brand new trash bag for this task.

I also bought a bag of black beans instead of several cans. I have yet to use these, but I have a great frugal recipe for these that I will share later this week. I love black beans!

I also discovered another frugal site that looks promising. It is here. I may even find some time to start rereading my copy of the Tightwad Gazette. That book is inspiring!

I will be looking for more ways that I can be frugal. Anyone else been reinspired lately?

It's Friday...Time for Pizza

July 25th, 2008 at 04:41 pm

Many Friday nights our family loves to eat pizza. The kids love cheese or pepperoni. DH & I like lots of meat, mushrooms and onions. We often have a glass of wine or two.

There is just something about pizza that signals that it is the weekend. I even look forward to these in the summer, but much more during the school year.

Pizza ordered in or eaten out can be quite expensive. On the occasions that we do eat out...we use a coupon to lessen the expense.

But the usual for us is homemade pizza. Yes, I use prepackaged crust...just adding the water at home. We buy the cheese on sale and often in bulk. A little ground beef and an onion. The cost is generally less than $8 for two pizzas. Even with a bottle of wine we are around $15.

We love our homemade pizza better than almost any take out. We can adjust the music, the lighting, the temperature and the entertainment to our liking. What could be better?

Have a fabulous Friday night!

New Habits

July 24th, 2008 at 06:01 pm

I changed some settings on my dishwasher. I no longer have it set to "sanitize." I think it puts the dishes through an extra rinse. It seems to get them just as clean and in a shorter period time...and with less water.

I've also had good success putting a dry towel in with the wet clothes in the dryer. It does seem to shorten the time it takes to dry them.

I've been turning off the A/C much more frequently. I had it off all of yesterday, last night and until about noon today. That has to save some energy.

One habit I wish to work on is our ceiling fans. I usually leave the bedroom ones on 24/7. I don't think we really need those running unless we are in there. Now to retrain to children!!

Today was a no spend day. I should try to have several of those in the next few days. We did swing by the library. I checked out books on organization, recycling and green cleaning.

I've always loved organizing and could probably make it a business. It is interesting how the more organized one is, the less money is spent on late fees, and double purchases.

I think the more I learn about green cleaning the more I will save financially,too. I think it comes down to baking soda and vinegar for many things. Has anyone else noticed habits changing because of environmental reasons?

And...just so you know I don't really believe in global warming...but I don't like to see good things be thrown in the trash to be preserved forever in a landfill. I find that to be such a waste.

Payment Delay?

July 23rd, 2008 at 06:55 am

I really want to make an extra home equity loan payment of $385 this month. I think it will be less. As of now, I only have $100 in our regular checking account. I need to buy groceries for the next 8 days for 4 people. It seems other things could come up, too.

The $385 is there...it is even in another checking account. I may need to use some money from it to cover the rest of the month's needs. These needs primarily being groceries and gas.

Good news, I will be helping my sister with her garage sale the first weekend in August. I will take a couple of bins full of stuff to try to sell. I also need to get moving on some ebay sales. Now is the time that people are looking for school clothes.

My girls are set on backpacks and school supplies. Next month we will get sneakers, haircuts and a few school clothing basics. We only have 4 weeks left of summer.

Other good news, it looks like I can have the A/C off most of the day today! I think that is at least the 5th time this July! Amazing weather.

More Bacon Bits

July 21st, 2008 at 07:30 pm

I don't know why I titled it that. I'm adding a little more cash towards the home equity loan payoff.

I received a mysurvey check for $10.00 and the Lowe's paint rebate check for $15.00. So, I'm making an online payment tonight for $25.00. This will bring our new balance below $15,500!! Every bit counts right?

I expect to make a larger extra payment by the end of the month. Can't wait to see it get below $15,000!! We'll see if I can get there this month.

On another note...

We live in the NW corner of our city and DH drives 30 minutes to the SE corner. He usually takes the interstate. Just seems to be the quickest way. Tonight he experimented with his route by driving through the city. The time was about the same, but he cut the miles in half. Instead of 30 miles on the interstate it was 15 miles through town!! Wow, that might save us at least $30 a week in gas. I'll try to keep you updated on this, too.

Harvest Thoughts

July 21st, 2008 at 10:01 am

We planted an 8 x 8 foot garden this year with onions, lettuce, tomatoes (regular & cherry), green beans, and peppers. The garden is doing pretty good. We've had quite a bit of rain, so it's been pretty easy to keep up.

We have pulled some of the green onions for tacos and salsa. The cherry tomatoes keep ripening with black spots...so we aren't eating those.

The lettuce went to our neighbors indoor rabbit. It was a bit bitter. I guess you are suppose to cut the leaves down once before you start to harvest. We'll see if anything grows back this late in the season.

We pulled about 25-30 green beans off the plants as we pulled weeds last night. I'm sure we will try them tonight.

Oh, I forgot...I have mint and cilantro in containers on the deck. Those are doing pretty well too. We've used a fair amount of both.

I'm sure I've saved a little bit of money, but I haven't exactly calculated it out. I did have to invest in topsoil, poultry fencing and the seeds & plants at the beginning of the season. But it is well worth it for the fresh taste.

The girls love to go out and harvest anything I ask. No hesitations. They even like pulling the weeds. I'm liking it so much, I almost wish I planted more!!

There is always next year!

It Pays to Sign Up

July 18th, 2008 at 02:37 pm

I recently received an email from a online photo processor for a great discount. I paid a penny for up to 50 prints, plus shipping. This is a great deal considering I rarely print pictures anymore.

Normally, this company has prints for 9 cents each. So, I saved 8 cents per print or a total of $4.00. The shipping was $3.47.

The email, of course, gave me a limited time to take advantage of this offer. They send me them fairly frequently, too, since I'm registered on their site for free. This time the timing was just right for me. I needed some prints anyway for my daughter's scrap booking project.

It does pay to sign up and register at various sites to be included in special promotions. Just make sure you don't take them up on all of them!!

Update, did plenty of ETE today. That is Erase the Evidence for those of you just tuning in. My sister is coming for the weekend...so I had to tidy up and erase the evidence in numerous areas of the house. Looks very nice now!!

I peeked and its not good

July 17th, 2008 at 04:00 pm

I checked my retirement account today because I heard the market was up the last two days. Well, I'm glad I didn't look before. It is still bad.

My roth account alone is down 8.5% since I last checked in on May 19th of this year. The whole account since the beginning of the year is down about 13%.

The positive side in all of this is that I'm 35 and don't need this money for the next 30 years or more. I'm also still investing each and every month. My next automatic investment is scheduled for next week. Looks like my shares are still on sale for a while longer. Yipee!!

So, since I peeked you don't need to...it's not that good yet. But keep investing the shares are still on sale.

I Should Know Better

July 16th, 2008 at 09:37 am

Yesterday, we went to Radio Shack to get the DTV converter for our 2nd TV, that we have in our bedroom. I had the $40 coupon and it would have expired today.

So, the converter was originally $59.99 minus the $40 coupon. It should have been only $19.99. However, I fell for the 1 year replacement for another $5.99. My husband said we didn't need it. My brain was thinking that if it stopped working in a year, I would have to pay the full $60. But really, how often do these things stop working? (I mean the converter, not my brain!!)

I think I will see if I can get it refunded. If it does go out in a year, I will probably put the $60 on a newer digital TV instead...or even go with out our 2nd TV. I have cash for these things, I really don't need insurance on a little box I paid $20 for.

I must be going crazy!

On another note, I made our regular home equity payment today. The total amount that went to principal was $24.10! That is up $0.60 compared to the amount that went to principal from last month's regular payment.

UPDATE: Radioshack did refund my money for the replacement insurance because I was within 30 days of purchase. Yes!!

Today is my first....

July 15th, 2008 at 05:02 am

van payment. I've been driving this van for almost 6 weeks and loving every minute of it.

But now, with the payment due today I feel a little dread. This will probably come up every month for me. I just don't like payments of any kind. Of course, I do have some that I understand I will always have, such as utilities. Someday, that is all the bills I would like to have.

So, this new van payment will be auto deducted from our checking account. I signed up right away. I didn't even get a paper statement in the mail. I signed up that quickly! If I have to make a payment to anyone, I love automatic payments. No possibility of missing the due date and incurring extra fees. No stamps to buy. And, it happens the same time every month...no surprises.

Today is payday, too. I expect to be able to start making regular exta payments to the home equity loan now. I'll update on that later.

Stock Up for School

July 13th, 2008 at 08:00 am

So, I've been looking through the Sunday ads. School supplies are available already! My kids still have six weeks of summer left.

The good deals I noticed are:

Office Depot

12pk eraser caps $0.01
protractor $0.01
2 pocket paper folder $0.01
ruler $0.01
1 inch 3 ring binder $0.99
6pk highlighters $0.99

Walmart

70 sheet spiral notebook $0.05
4oz Elmer's glue $0.22
2pk Elmer's glue sticks $0.22
24 count Crayola crayons $0.22

Talk about cheap!! Those are some very basic items almost every child needs. There are deals out there, so keep your eyes peeled!

I know my kids are going to need new sneakers for school and a few other basic clothes. I don't usually buy too many clothes before school, unless they are a really great deal. It's still hot for at least the first 6 weeks of school...so I can get the fall clothes on clearance when the time comes.

One daughter will need new underwear and additional socks are also good to stock up on this time of year.

I'm thinking of investing in better backpacks this year, too. I usually buy the $10 backpacks at Target every year, but by the end you can see light through the bottom. These then just get tossed in the landfill! It might be better to spend and extra $20 more to get quality backpacks that could last several years. What do the rest of you do in this area?

Every little bit helps...

July 12th, 2008 at 07:21 am

I sent in $9.62 to the home equity loan yesterday. Our new balance is $15,543.42.

The money is a result of a couple dollars left in the checking account before payday, a small amount of interest ($0.11), and atm rebates.

Because our bank is not local they reimburse us up to $15 for any atm fees we incur during a month. We have found a local convenience store that we can obtain cash from without any fees. This month we did a little traveling outside of town and ended up with $7.50 in fees.

Nice cool day here in the midwest after some days in the 90's with lots of humidity. We will have the A/C off all weekend!!

All for the kids

July 11th, 2008 at 05:47 pm

I went to garage sales today with my sister. I spent $7.25!

However, I didn't need any of these things...not one of them. This is what I bought:

Roll O Puzz for uncompleted puzzles $1.00
Walkie Talkies $1.00
Glass Jar with flip top lid $0.50
New clear shower curtain rings $0.25
Magic Math for learning math facts $0.50
Designers World game for kids $4.00

So, I just wasted $7.25...well, maybe not wasted. I know my kids will get some use out of several of the items. But did they need them? I may save the Designer's World game for Christmas. This item retails for about $30, but it can be found on sale for $20.

I think I'm better at selling things at garage sales then buying. I must say I did pass up quite a bit of nice things!!

Check out this new calculator

July 7th, 2008 at 01:57 pm

I haven't used this calculator yet, but I heard about it on the Today show this morning. If you are thinking of trading in your SUV for a hybrid or other fuel efficient car you may want to check it out here.

We just bought a Honda Odyssey...not exactly a fuel efficient vehicle, but better than some. We also own a Ford Taurus that is a sure gas guzzler and my husband will be driving it 30 minutes to and from work each day. I would love to get something different, but I know a paid off vehicle with high gas prices is cheaper than buying another vehicle...unless we could do an even trade. Hmm, what fuel efficient vehicle could I get for $3k?

I hope this calculator helps a few of you out in making the decision on whether to trade or not.

Lowes Rebate

July 6th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

We have taken advantage of the Lowe's rebate on Valspar paint this weekend. $5 a gallon adds up when one is buying three gallons! We also qualified for the 10% military discount as well.

Today, we are marathon painting. Our kitchen, living room and a hallway are all getting a new coat of paint. I'm on a break from the first coat and it is only 2:15, so I think we'll be on track to get it all done today!

We painted these three rooms about 15 months ago...but turns out we didn't really like the color. It was an improvement over what we had before...but it just wasn't right. So, now we are repainting. This time I think we have it right. We've used this paint color before...in our family room. This will be the last time we have to paint these rooms before we move in 2.5 years.

At least, it was on sale. I've noticed Lowe's and Home Depot always seem to have paint rebates on Memorial Day, Forth of July, and Labor Day!

By the way, WALL-E was really good. Keep in mind that there is a side theme about the environment, but the relationship the two robots develop is beautiful! Oh, my 8 year old cried at a movie for the first time yesterday!! Too cute.

Success!!

July 2nd, 2008 at 05:09 pm

I have achieved a No Spend Day (NSD)!!

I'm sure I've had others but today I noticed we didn't go anywhere and we didn't spend any money. Love it!!

Working on packing for our Olympic trip by getting laundry done and making last minute lists. We are only going to be gone one night, so luckily it won't take to much to get it all together. We will be at home for lunch and then will pack a picnic at my Mom's for dinner prior to seeing the races!

All other food will also be provided by Mom and Dad on the 4th! We even get steak!! Other than gas and a couple on the road snacks we won't spend much until Saturday.

Saturday, is my daughter's birthday. She will be picking out her first pet...expected to be a hamster. Those are about $15. She will get to pick out the pet, the wheel and it's food dish...all the other items have been bought or we already have on hand.

It has become tradition to see a movie on our birthdays, too. We will go to an afternoon showing of WALL E. That will be about $25 for the tickets and then we'll tack on a soda for a several dollars more. We might also fit in a dinner out. What does she like that is cheap...I'll have to see! Then, I hope to be done spending for the weekend.

More Kickin'

July 1st, 2008 at 07:35 pm

Yep, I'm kicking the home equity loan with another $12.00. This is interest from our money market account for this month. Can't wait until rates go back up!!

I also sent away for another $10 mysurvey check. It will be here in a few weeks. It will also go to the loan payoff.

My daughter turns 8 on Saturday. This means a $1 increase to her monthly allowance. The girls receive $1 for every year old they are. So, starting this month I pay out $19.00 instead of $18.00! I should teach them to save their increases...hmm, I wonder if that would go over?