It Started Frugal . . .

RetroLaceHeartValentineGraphicsFairyThe week started out frugal.  I had a “Secret Valentine” at work (like Secret Santa) and I made her Cupid Crunch (popcorn and pretzels coated in Wilton confectionary coating with added pink M n M’s and sprinkles for bling).  I also gave her stargazer lilies in a vase from Goodwill which I swear was leaded crystal.  I got it for .49 during a “yellow ticket happy hour” of sorts.

We also had a breakfast social at work and I made my Irish soda bread, which is delicious and uses ingredients I have on hand.

We ate at home and used a lot of pantry items.

How was your Valentine’s Day?  I made “black magic” cupcakes, which is one of those famous recipes that I believe originated with Hershey’s cocoa.  My husband picked up our traditional heart-shaped pizza from a local restaurant.

Each week we have a set amount of money we can spend, and when we don’t spend it all, we like to allocate it to savings or other budget areas we are focusing on.  Today we went to Target.  Need I say more?  I think we had 10.00 left at the end of the week.  Much of what we purchased at Target was organic frozen meals which Mr. Saver takes for lunch.  Fortunately, we don’t get to Target very often which minimizes the damage.

At this time we are pretty set budget-wise for kid summer activities.  Our main budget focus is saving for family vacation and overall savings.

 

 

Involuntary Simplicity?

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Mr. Saver Pays a Visit to the Food Truck

How would you feel about avocados being a rare seasonal treat?  Would your trip to Chipotle be complete without that glob of guac on top?  On my mind this week are thoughts about how changes in national (US) policy might affect my family.

Deportation of migrant workers, many of whom have falsified work papers (I didn’t know they were fake!), would immediately affect the prices of fresh food, most of which comes from California’s Central Valley.  Farmers hope their existing work force could be legalized, or that temporary work visas might be available to agricultural workers.  These low paying jobs are back-breaking and difficult to fill with US citizens, who can go work easier jobs for 10.00 an hour.  (For more background on this, read this article.). Crops need to be picked when they need to be picked and if labor is deported, millions of dollars of crops would be lost.

Rising fresh food prices could necessitate home gardens, canning, and buying local/seasonal.  Kind of a throwback to the ’40s  — before strawberries were available fresh year round.

The other piece of the food price puzzle is whether the government places trade restrictions and taxes on imported goods (say to pay for building a big wall), and importing fresh food like avocados and strawberries from places like Mexico quickly becomes cost-prohibitive.

Honestly, if the US sufficiently aggravates other countries, they may not buy goods from our farmers, who are barely hanging on as it is.  This could drive up subsidies which we pay for as taxpayers.

Changes in the cost of items can happen rapidly, as we have experienced occasionally with lettuce, citrus, and recently avocados due to things like weather and labor strikes.   What would your diet and budget look like if food prices increased?  Do you have a means to take advantage of food in season through canning or freezing?

Personally, I’m not ready to start stockpiling 5 pound cans of green beans, but it does get my mind turning about gardening and what we might grow that we will use and won’t be eaten by rabbits.  I have canned jam but never anything for food preservation; I do think this is a useful skill to have.

Do you think the scenarios above are possible?  Probable?   Canadian friends… where do you get your fresh produce from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Motivation 

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-4-22-45-pmWell, hello!  I thought I would put fingers to iPad after a long hiatus because I’ve been thinking about my “saver” roots after watching an interesting documentary on Netflix called “Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things.”

I’ve been enjoying it on the treadmill at night.  The premise is that we have one shot at this life, as far as we know, and spending it acquiring, tending, and shopping for things is not a very satisfying way to spend our days here.  The show also brings in some KonMari ideas… it’s not that one needs to have nothing, but what we do have should bring joy and function to our daily lives.

The movie is relevant to me because I seem to have less and less time to tend to our house and belongings, so having less and being able to find things seems appealing.  I would love to know that my closet and my daughter’s only contains clothes we will wear and enjoy wearing.

We both went through our closets this weekend … nothing as extensive as Marie Kondo’s method of touching everything you own … but it feels good to pass along what we can and to be able to find what we need.  Trust me, more work is needed!  I choose to look at this as ‘baby steps when I can’ rather than a massive project tearing apart the house.  My work schedule and kid schedule just doesn’t allow for something like that right now.

Today I need to jot down what we are taking to Goodwill for tax purposes (one of my least favorite jobs!) and I will drop them off tomorrow when I run DD to dance class.

Have you seen this documentary?  Do any parts of minimalism feel relevant to you?

 

 

 

 

What I Did This Week to Save Money 5/30

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Neighbor’s tree peony

Today is Memorial Day in the US, and it has been a weekend of extreme relaxation and general laziness!  I have been reading kids’ fiction while lounging on my front porch.  Finished The Lightning Thief and onto The City of Ember.  Both are very good and free via my library’s e-book loan option.

In the “Oh Yes I Did” money saving category I had two price adjustments this week.  One was the result of an expired sale price the store had neglected to remove from the shelving and the other was a price that was incorrect in their computer.  Each was around 1.50… enough of a discrepancy to make me seek out a refund.

It’s far too early for us to have food from our garden (other than rhubarb and chives!) but I loaded up on sale zucchini, peaches, pears and figs… all from .99 – 1.49/lb.

The long weekend of lounging left me unmotivated to shop, so we have had a lot of meals using items from the freezer.  Grilled chicken became quesadillas; Trader Joes veggie masala patties paired with a piece of naan, hummus, and spinach for a “Mediterranean plate.”  Tonight we are cooking out using meat from the freezer.

I hung my wash out… and am showing DD how to do it so she can help this summer.

A parent of a child in my daughter’s grade is taking up a group collection for end of the year teacher gifts.  I made a contribution using our “education expenses” budget category. This is really helpful because in middle school it is a challenge to thank all of the teachers and specialists.  Last year the collection raised enough to also give a gift to the aides, which is wonderful.  At our last home budget meeting we started increasing funding in the “education expenses” category so we will be ready for back to school in a few months.

Goals for the coming week… putting away winter boots and mittens. Clip coupons and check CVS ad.  Freeze rhubarb.  Get to Office Depot for sale on paper.

 

 

Back to School, The Early Bird Edition

IMG_0596School is not out just yet, so how can it be time to go back to school already?!  I checked the school supply list for next year and our supplies will be over $100.00 if we buy from a school supply company that furnishes everything in one box, and that does not include the cost of supplies for “specials” like Art, French, Music.

I started preparing for back to school 2016 last year, when I noticed book covers were required in 6th grade and they were on deep clearance in September.  Score.  I have a box in the closet for future school years so I know I can find the items I buy in advance.

If you want to play along with saving on school supplies, I will post items as I find them.

Next week (5/29/16 – 6/4/16) Office Depot/Office Max is offering a ream of copy paper for .01 cent.  You may purchase up to 3.  We need 1 ream of paper for our school supply list.  The catch is that you do need to submit a rebate, and if you are the kind of person that never gets around to filling in forms, this would not be a good deal for you.  I know I will get the rebate filled out, so I am looking forward to checking another item off our list!  I received next week’s sales flyer via email.  If you don’t see it on the website yet, check back on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day = Savings + Summer

july+4th+vintage+graphicsfairy009aMemorial Day weekend nears… in the US, this holiday commemorates those who have died serving our country while in the armed forces.  It is also the “unofficial” start of summer, with schools finishing up and warm weather beginning.

Memorial Day is also a great time to take advantage of grocery savings!  Last year we hosted a family reunion which required us to buy large amounts of soda and beer.  The prices we found at Memorial Day were the best we saw that summer.  If you have a family event this summer, or a block party, this a great week to check your grocery fliers for prices.

I went through the refrigerator yesterday and checked the dates on cookout essentials, like BBQ sauce, ketchup and other condiments.  I know there will be sales on these items, as well as hot dogs, beans, and chips.

My grocery ads come out tomorrow, so I am eager to see what items will be worth picking up.  The next opportunity for low prices will be the 4th of July.

Often on holiday weekends we have found there are special promotions on Ebates for retailers like Target, Lands End, and WalMart.  Great time to catch a good deal if a new swimsuit, wedding gift, or Father’s Day gift is on your horizon.  My daughter is lobbying for a hammock!

If you see special promotions and prices this Memorial Day, please share!  Do you have any holiday shopping strategies?

 

 

 

What I Did This Week to Save Money – 5/22

IMG_7284Ah, 12 days until school is out!  All things ‘summer’ are on our horizon, like vacation reading programs at the library, free concerts in the park, and no 7:00 AM school bus!  On the flip side, I do not get paid in summer, so this is a good time to get the money-saving muscles back into form.

This week:

  • DD won her teacher free subs for a YEAR, free catered lunch for her advisor class, and a free sub coupon for herself because she entered her favorite teacher in a teacher appreciation contest!
  • Ebates check!
  • Dried towels and sheets in the back yard
  • Had a strong meal plan…  bought ground chuck for 2.99 a pound and had both tacos and taco salad from the pound of meat
  • Downloaded free e-books from the library.  No gas, no clutter.. just have to read quickly!
  • Spent the weekend taking lots of bike rides.  The crabapple blossoms are so beautiful and fragrant!
  • Made rhubarb crisp using our abundant rhubarb
  • Made oatmeal cookies and added some chocolate covered sunflower seeds I received as a gift months ago.  It was a good match!
  • Closed out our week with a quick budget meeting.  Unspent money at the end of the week is being saved for a renovation project and for vacation in 2017… England, hopefully!

How was your week?

Beauty bike riding

Beauty bike riding