Sunday, January 31, 2010

12 ways to save $100 this year

"The most elementary exercise for any aspiring tightwad is to recored spending habits for a period of three months. Write down everything from the mortgage to the candy bar. There will be two types of expenditures: essential and optional...and only you can say where the line is between the two." Amy D.
This is a very eye opening exercise for some people. Liz Pearl, in her book Money, A Memoir, talks about the change in the "middle class." Specifically, she says that the middle class has been so elevated that we hardly recognize it anymore. With the rise of easy credit and two income families, what was once thought of as luxury has become "essential." That really is so true. 500 thread count sheets, coffee ground fresh every morning, designer clothes...all these things have become so common place that we view them as "essential." (Think about Haiti and you'll see what "essential" really looks like.) So contemplate that as you make your list.
In the meantime here are 12 ways to save a hundred bucks this year. Apply that extra hundred to your $100,000.00, 6% mortgage each month and you could easily knock 9 years off a 30 year loan and save almost $40,000.00! Little things do make a difference. This list was originally Amy's. I have changed it and added to it:
1.Puchase 10 articles of clothing at thrift stores or yard sales instead of department stores.
2. Hang 4 loads of laundry a week instead of using your dryer.
3. Make one or two pizzas (or other meal) a month from scratch instead of ordering out.
4. Reduce your soda or latte consumtion by 4 a week.
5. Bake 2 loaves of bread a week...or buy them from the bakery thrift store.
6. Save $50.00 on two kid/spouse birthdays this year by making a homemade cake/decorations and opting for less expensive gifts.
7. Pack your/your kids lunches at least 4 times a week.
8. 4-6 times this year, instead of going to a new release movie, rent one from the library or Redbox.
9.Reduce your whole milk consumption by 2 gallons a week...(see my archives for milk alternatives.)
10. Reduce your smoking by 3 cigarettes a day...or quit altogether.
11. Drop your home phone if you already have a cell, or go to a cheaper cell plan.
12. Cancel cable and get a "box."(we've never had cable, with the converter box, we actually get 7 stations now!)
We have done all of these except the cell phone thing...and we don't smoke. Happy savings! Share more $100 a year savers...

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Crockpot Granola (recipe from my bff Kelly:)

5 cups oats
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
tsp cinnamon (or other spice if you like)
(after cooking add any of the following: coconut or other nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins or other dried fruit, chocolate or carob chips, or use your imagination. I double this for my big crockpot.)

Mix well and cook on low in a crockpot for 5 hours with the lid cracked (I leave my wooden spoon in mine), stirring occasionally.

You can also bake at 375 for 10 minutes, or until brown. Cool and store in airtight container.

You can make bars by mixing 2 cups of granola with 2 eggs and baking in a lightly greased 8X8 pan.

Tightwaddery and Crockpot granola

"Tightwaddery is not for everyone. I am keenly aware that most people really don't care about any of this stuff. Some are doing just fine, thank you." Amy D.

So begins Amy's second article. And boy, I am sure aware of that! On the other hand, you wouldn't be reading my blog if you didn't have SOME interest. Frugal living has come into vogue again as of late, what with the present ecomony and natural disasters (Katrina, Thailand and Haiti to name a few) giving us pause to reflect on what exactly is "enough," people from all ecomonic backgrounds are rethinking the commodities that really matter to them. The point of my little blog is to find a community of like-minded folks who can encourage each other and share ideas. Obviously, not all posts will apply to all readers. We are country, city, jobless, working, SAHM.... This will only be as successful as we all make it. Share your ideas! And remember, I'll be giving away monthly giftcards to my faithful followers.

Daily Bucks (how I saved today):
1. I made a double batch of homemade crockpot granola, very easy/cheap and so good for breakfast.
2. I planted 18 tomato seeds. (While we watch a rare 8 " snowfall must be therapy.) These are REALLY OLD seeds. Gurney Early Girls. I want to see if they'll even sprout.
3. I applied for 2 credit cards that give you $50.00 cash back after one purchase. I sign up for these deals and then cancel the card as soon as I get the bonus. $100.00 in "free" gas is how I see it. ( I know...I know...more later...)
4. I downloaded a free year of McAfee virus protection for being a "loyal online Bank of America customer. Saved $69.99. Sweet!
5. I watched my DH paint a new wood entertainment center that I picked up at a GOOB (going out of business) sale for $49.00. priceless.
6. I tucked away a school planner for next school year...the kind Mike brings home because they send samples to the school. I don't care that it has the wrong school name. My kids are creative at covering it up.

So much more to share...your ideas?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sweet Deals...

I'm off to Aldi (one of my friends commented that she doesn't shop at Aldi because the one time she went there, "it looked like a narcotics anonymous meeting had arrived.") What? I really don't care what the other shoppers look like. Besides, one day when I was in line, Abby's plastic surgeon (from an accident, in case you're wondering....)was in line in front of me buying bananas. He left and got in his BMW. Cool. Anyhow...pineapples for 99 cents this week, along with 4# bags of really good oranges for $1.49. I also bought the cutest $50.00 Christmas sweaters for gifts next year on sale at Sears for $7.99. (Don't tell the grammas....actually, it's OK, they know me....)

Dinners fru-gal this week: white chicken chili, baked mac and cheese, venison stew, chicken/taters/corn, and spaghetti with meat sauce. It think it goes without saying that these were homemade.

Your best deals this week? Favorite tightwad meals?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ode to Fernald Linscott

You may, of course, wonder why I'm writing an ode in a blog about frugality. If you look closely, you will notice that my subtitle mentions living a life of thrift and value, emphasis on value--that's where Fern comes in. Not that he wasn't thrifty also, he's a Mainer, thrift happens by default.
Fernald and I both grew up in Springfield, Maine, population 500ish. He was just 30+ years my senior. And he stayed there. I'm a little jealous on that count. But I digress.
Fern was a rare individual. He particularly loved the youth of the area and spent many hours coaching pee wee basketball, little league and high school baseball. There wasn't a kid on any of his teams who didn't know how much Fernald cared about them. He was also a businessman; he owned some heavy equipment and ran a small construction company. (His son is the owner now, and my brother still works for him.) He was involved in town politics for as long as I can remember (New England still has real town meetings...if you're ever in the position to see one, take the time. The entertainment factor can't be beat.) And he was also the postmaster for 28 years, which I'm sure has a great deal to do with the reason that he knew EVERYBODY in our little hamlet. So that's what he was by profession, but in the realm of character and values, he was so much more.
As I read through the online testimonials left at the funeral home, I was poignantly struck by a couple of things. Fernald made everyone feel special. He offered strangers a hand, stopped and chatted with neighborhood kids (how many adults do that?) and would willingly give you half his sandwich if you caught him eating lunch. He regularly did "dirt" work for our little village chuch and never charged a dime. You always left him with a smile on your face. He wasn't a world-renowned man, and I think that's one reason he so special. He was content in his own little corner.
I started collecting stamps in 6th grade, a hobby that still sneaks up on me at strange times, causing me to grab envelopes out of trash cans and rip the stamp off, stuffing it in my pocket for later use. Since Fern was the postmaster, he helped me out. When I would go in with my meager earnings to buy the newest commemorative or plate block, Fern would give me a few extra. And no, I don't think for a nanosecond that he was ripping off the feds. When I went away to college, I wrote notes to him on the back of letters to my parents...he responded in kind. (OK, hopefully that's not a federal offense...I just thought it was sweet.) He always treated me with the utmost respect for the four years that I was the manager for the baseball team. As in, he told the boys not to swear around me.
Several years ago, after I'd been "away" for quite some time, my husband and I bought a camp near Duck Lake, just up the road a piece from Fernald's camp. One evening we were out for a stroll and just dropped in (in Maine, you can still do that). We stayed for a couple of hours, sitting on deck watching the sunset over the lake with he and his wife, Babe. It was a wonderful evening. Fernald had a stroke shortly after that, and the effects were slow and insidious. I still went to visit him a few times, and even though he had changed, he was still Fernald. It's hard to watch people vanish while they're still alive.
There are very few people in this world who don't have any enemies. If Fernald had them, they stayed hidden. I've never heard an unkind word said about him...that's a rarity. He taught me so much about so many things. I will never forget the man, and even though I'll never measure up, I will carry his values with me. Babe and family, you are truly in our thoughts and prayers. Fernald, well done.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A day in the life....

Maybe I just need to start, maybe that's the key. When I decided to blog, it seemed like a really good idea, but I didn't think that I should just write about any ol' thing. Since (one of) my passions is saving money, I thought it would be a good idea to write about that. One of my other passions is politics, but I don't take criticism too well and when you write about politics you have to have pretty thick skin....either that or only have like minded people reading your blog. Then my husband got a little torqued about how much time it was taking me to blog and suggested that I write during the day when he's not here....and when I don't have errands to run....or kids to cart....or work to go to.....and well, I just kinda let is slide.

But since the new year has started, I've made a commitment to crack down on the financial side of life. (My kids will groan if they see this, they already think I'm the most frugal mom in town.) So let me describe to you my last day of errand-running and you tell me if I'm too cheap:

1. I stop to buy a belt for the 12-year-old vacuum. $3.29. The lady always tries to get me to buy more than one: "Need to change that every year you know." I disagree. I've bought 3 in the life of the vaccum.
2. I get a haircut at Great Clips using a 7.99 coupon-- make it $11 with a tip. Since the Great Clips is right beside Harris Teeter, our friendly neighborhood yuppie-mart, I run in for the sole purpose of finding out if they have samples of my favorite bread. BINGO. Sweet snack. I buy nothing.
3. I stop at Aldi and pick up $35.00 worth of groceries. Milk is $2.10 a gallon, eggs 99 cents, and oranges 40 cents a pound. Beat that, Harris Teeter. I feeling celebratory, so I splurge on a 99 cent mocha iced coffee. I love Aldi!!
4. I stop at the library to pick up a couple books on saving money: The Ultimate Cheapskate by Jeff Yeager and Money, a Memoir by Liz Pearle. I've read them both before, but at my age I forget a lot and need to reinspired. I'll comment on the books later.
5. I come home and make 3 pizzas from scratch, remembering the time Abby had a sleepover and, on seeing me kneading pizza dough, one of her friends exclaimed, "You can MAKE dough?!? That always makes me laugh.

This is my life. Comments please.