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Mortgage Payoff

November 25th, 2008 at 05:51 pm

FINALLY the mortgage is paid! 10 years early, thanks to a re-payment of a loan. I had always paid additional principle since the first payment and had about 5- 1/2 years left. Nice to take a breath from it!

Since Jan '08, car is paid for also. My monthly expense is now down to $900 - $1,000 because of utilities fluxuation.

Now to focus on the 'little' bills/debts. My goal for '09 is to eliminate these since I can now add the former mortgage payment to these.

Grocery Savings

October 8th, 2008 at 03:26 pm

I really worked hard on my grocery list this week. Big Lots sent a 20% off coupon via e-mail and Krogers ad had some items I needed to stock up on.

At Big Lots I was a tad disappointed because I had planned on buying some pantry staples there. Little to none in that department. Using my price book I did purchase some spices I was running low on.

Not to be daunted, I headed to Krogers. I had my list and coupons ready.
Grand Total = $96.63
Out-of-Pocket = $40.96
Savings = 58%!

They had 10# of potatoes on sale for $2.98. Even though I had just purchased 10# the week before, I bought a bag and canned them. Got 5 qts. that can be used for mashed potatoes, quick scalloped,etc. My DIL thought I was nuts for doing it till I explained that I had paid over $5 a bag just the week before (ouch) and they'll go back up to that price after this week.

After the festival I'm setting up at this weekend, I'll go back and purchase 20# of potatoes and do it all over again. They also have hamburger $1.49# so I plan on getting around 10# of that.

Grocery Shopping

October 2nd, 2008 at 12:07 am

I went into sticker shock yesterday. I save my receipts to keep my price book updated. Thanks to this practice, I calculated our groceries have averaged a 35% increase in prices! More generic brands for me, plus rice, pastas, and dried beans. Even breads - gonna have to make my own again.

Been trying not to watch the stock market or the news much. Just too depressing. Focusing on ways to stretch every $1 I get. At least the weather is cooler this week so the AC is off. Been hanging out my clothes to dry, cooking from scratch, and having more meatless meals. About time for us to go half with another couple on a beef and hog. Nice to have that meat in the freezer. Wonderful price/lb. when you look at it also.

My Direct Sales business has slowed down - just means I'm doing more parties with lower sales averages.

Have some very good friends who have let me pick apples, given me tomatoes and beans. Yep, canned as much as I could. Made the apples into slices for pie filling, fried pies, fried apples. Next basket is going to be applesauce and apple butter.

We have an Amish-owned grocery salvage store just minutes from here. Discovered tis past week that they have yellow cornmeal for 42 cents a pound! They will also fill your large containers with flour and sugar when you bring them in. Saves on packaging to toss!

Been using my cloth grocery bags - our Kroger gives us 5 cents for each one used. They also ride better in the car and make for less trips unloading at home.

Starting on making Christmas gifts. Good thing I learned to sew and enjoy it.

Only 12 weekends till Christmas!!!!!!!

My Frugal Summer

September 22nd, 2008 at 05:26 pm

This summer has brought about the need to watch even closer every $1 becuase of the crazy gas prices, rising utility costs, and beating the grocery store prices.

I've been taking notes from my Amish and Mennonite neighbors. Hanging out laundry, gardening & processing the harvest, and taking a good look at how they run their households.

One lucky 'treasure' I've found is an Amish grocery about 5 miles from me. They get truckoads of 'salvage' foods that are fantastic bargains. Corners crushed on boxes, slightly dented cans, and some outdated dry goods. They have a wide selection of bulk foods also. Only place around where I can purchase yeast in a 'brick'.

Since my SO didn't see the need to put out a garden this year, I've been bartering for neighbors' excess. Dusted off my water-bath and pressure canners and have put up whatever I can et my hands on. I would have done the tilling of the garden myself, even put the word out I wanted to borrow a tiller. No luck. Physically unable to do that part of it due to back surgery years ago. All my canning jars I've picked up at yard sales throughout the years, even the half-gallon ones. Did notice that this year the jars were scarce - guess people are getting back into it.

I've also been more diligent on freezing leftovers. Even if it's just enough for one person, in the freezer it goes. I saved a couple of sausage patties from a breakfat one morning and used them a couple of weeks later to make gravy for chicken-fried steaks. One chicken breast, boneless, was frozen and then turned in to quesidillas (with lots of veggies)for another supper.

I helped one family by giving them the book ' Tightwad Gazette'. They have 5 kids, a 'yours, mine, and ours' mix. 4 of 5 in school this fall and it was the first year they had relied almost exclusively on getting the kids school clothes from yard sales. They claim they probably saved at least $800 and purchased name-brand perfectly good items. Both of them have called to thank me for the book. they have since finished reading the entire thing and have dog-eared pages, written in margins, and highlighted pertinent things. Makes me smile.

For entertainment, we've been going to alot of local festivals - doesn't cost a thing to go or to look. We see people we haven't seen for awhile, listen to great music, and get ideas for crafts to use as gifts that we can make ourselves. We even take our own lunch & drinks in a backpack.

Books I Recommend

July 7th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

These are books that have helped me many times in my life.

'The Tightwad Gazette' by Amy Dacyczyn
To me, it's like a frugal living bible. I was a subscriber to her newsletter. Purchased her books which I re-read every 6 months or so.

'The Use-It-Up Cookbook' by Lois Carlson Willand.

'Will It Freeze?' by Joan Hood

'Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930's' by Janet Van Amber Paske (3 Volumes)

And lets not forget the Ball Blue Book for Home Canning!

Going Green

May 19th, 2008 at 02:03 pm

Ah the Internet is such a wonderful place [i]sometimes[i] when you're a DIY'er.
Looked up instructions for making a rain barrel and a tumbling compost bin. Then compared prices to those already made. WOW what a difference!
The rain barrel system is a must here in Kentucky due to the drought-like conditions we have from June to late August (like last year. I wanna be ready and be able to water my garden and flowers with 'natural' water versus the stuff that comes out of the tap.
The compost bin will cut down on my waste to the curb and the expense of fertilizers. Al-in-all, a win-win situation for us & our Earth!

Rethinking Service

May 18th, 2008 at 04:15 pm

After reading an article on the Finance Forum I regularly visit, I'm going to do my homework on really scrutinizing services that I pay for on a monthly basis. Things like banking services, utilities, insurance.
When talking to my mother the other day, she realized that one of the cards she uses for auto-pay was charging her $14.95 for each transaction! Needless to say, she got on the phone and switched to using her main bank for this. Zero charge.
I have never explored other options for phone service or internet. Last time I shopped for car & homeowners insurance was two years ago.
It was a 'smack yourself on the forehead' moment after that article, realizing that I work hard to cut back on our grocery, gasoline, and electric bills but had overlooked other areas that could use an evaluation!

Recession or Depression?

May 7th, 2008 at 11:05 pm

This is the question I'm hearing all the time.
Today, our gas went from $3.59 @ 8 am to $3.85 by noon.
Even Bread at the Thrift Bakery has almost doubled in price.
Hear that poultry will be next.
I am going to continue to buy in bulk my flour, sugar, coffee, pastas, powdered milk, etc. I"m already averaging 47% on my grocery savings by using coupons. This is with careful comparison to generic prices.
I have cut down my driving considerably, now only making two trips a week to town and getting everything done in those trips.
I've dusted off my sewing machine and will try to be creative in using the yardage and other craft supplies I have accumulated the past couple of years.Looks like homemade birthday and Christmas presents will be in 'vogue' this year.
I keep the electric usage down to basic level. Helps now that the days are longer and warmer.
Our library has a Bookmobile that comes to my little town. Just a brisk walk and I can checkout/return books = $0 gas
Finally got my garden plot tilled up! Yep, going to preserve my garden's yield. Noticed alot of folks in my neighborhood doing the same.
I even found a DIY Home Maintenance book at our Goodwill last week.


March 6th, 2008 at 06:44 pm

I consider myself lucky in the fact that I have all my grandchildren living within 45 minutes of my home. I can’t imagine it being any other way. I have 5 grandchildren, 3 girls and 2 boys, from the ages of 2 to 12.

I am the mother of four sons, so when the granddaughters came first, it was quite a difference for me! All that pink and purple, learning to braid hair, and making sure their laced-edged socks were turned down evenly was a learning experience! I have always been a ‘tomboy’, so these things didn’t matter too much to me.

Being a grandparent is a reward from God for the trials we go through raising our own children. With grandkids, life isn’t so fast! I have taken delight in watching them find dandelions that have gone to seed are fun to blow; their first experiences with ‘bubbles’; their faces chasing a bouncing ball; the continuous laughter as they try to catch leaves in the fall wind; and watching them as they sleep. If we all could sleep like they do! Completely safe and very deeply, innocent of what the world can be like.

As they grow it is amazing how fast they learn and what they remember. One of my granddaughters knows for a fact that she’ll be having pancakes for breakfast. Another is eager to learn how to make cookies from scratch versus cutting them from a ‘log’. My middle granddaughter still talks about the first time she ever tasted homemade bread was at her Mammaws’ house. I don’t think I have to put into detail about the first time they used an electric mixer! Watching the two-year-old grandson as he learns to put even more words together to make sentences and listening to the 4 ½ year-old grandson who has to tell me in 60 seconds or less everything they did in pre-school that day.

Just recently, we had 4 of the 5 grandkids stay the weekend (all but the two-year-old). Noisy? Yes. Busy? Yes. Lots of laughter? Definitely! And when their parents came to pick them up Sunday afternoon, it was too quiet – but a nice ‘quiet’ as I finally got to sit down and smile thinking of the past few days. No, I don’t take them to McDonald’s. No, I don’t really plan anything for their visits. It’s just spontaneous – we go with he flow.

And I think they like it that way. I know I do.

That weekend, we had a beautiful Saturday, so we all went outside and picked up the limbs and sticks from the winds we’d had a few days before. We have a firepit in the backyard (a tractor wheel with old bricks surrounding it) and piled them all in there. Turned into a game seeing who could toss their stick into the pit from the farthest back. My grandson, naturally, just had to break a large limb into pieces by doing his ‘Power Ranger’ stomp! We’ll burn the first fire on a warm weekend they’ll be here so we can roast hot dogs and make s’mores for dessert.

I try my best to make sure they know that my house is where a kid can just be a kid. I do have rules - normal household rules. They respect that. I also insist that they use their manners towards each other, us, and anyone else who may drop by. I also do not give them my complete undivided attention when they are here. I mostly watch and learn from them the simple life lessons we all tend to forget – watch out for each other, laugh as much as possible, and use our imaginations to take us places we may never see.

Yes, having the privilege of being a grandmother is the sweetest gift from above!

Coupon/Rebate Savings for February

February 29th, 2008 at 12:36 am

Here's my totals:
Total = $271.71
less cpns = $110.94
Savings = 40.8%

Rebates received = $4.50
Rebates sent in = $35, including free coupons

Starting a coupon swap club in March. Should be alot of fun! So far I know of 4 people coming over.
Have also joined a 'coupon train' and am going to post my wishlist on that site after this Sunday's papers are clipped & sorted.
We've got a military address to send our expired coupons to and our local library has a 'coupon basket' that I'll take our leftover coupons to.

The best deal I ever did was on Glad bags about 10 years ago. 50 cents off two coupons in the paper and in each box was a 50 cent coupon! I made alot of trips that week to Kroger, especially since they ran their Glad products on sale for $1! I actually stockpiled enough garbage, storage and freezer bags to last three years! The biggest stockpiles I have right now are cereal, toothpaste, and shampoo.

I'm so eager for spring and to start the garden! Fresh produce only a few steps away from the kitchen is a great feeling!

Local Alternative Farm Cash-Flow

February 27th, 2008 at 12:56 pm

This morning, we woke to almost 3" of snow. It's so pretty when it's fresh! Just two days ago, the high temp was 52 degrees. Today's high is supposed to be 24 degrees! I grew up always hearing ' if you don't like the weather today, just wait until tomorrow'!

We had such a dry summer, I'm hoping all this wetness will help our rural farmers. It was very lean for some of them to try to harvest food for their livestock. Of course, if you had hay & no livestock, you did pretty well selling!

There are also so many farmers that have declared this will be their last year raising tobacco. No one wants to work in it anymore and the expenses have created a 'break-even' scenario. I can remember my paternal grandfather settling up with the grain mill and the bank with his tobacco check, then pretty much survive the rest of the year from what was left, plus keep the farm running.

We have a neighbor that invested in one semi-truck to haul his excess hay to other states. He now owns four semis and all his drivers are kept pretty busy. He hauls for himself and others. He also is a livestock broker. He had the foresight to see where the state legislature was taking the farmer and seized an opportunity.

One innovative idea is a festival that is held for two weekends in the spring & fall on a neighboring farm. The spring one is a 'planting celebration' and the fall is called the 'Pumpkinfest'. Both events are geared towards families with wagon rides, petting zoo, and various contests. The most entertaining is the 'Greased Pig' contest, especially in the younger kids categories! Anyway, they have grown these events over the past few years and the word is getting around. Another far does the ‘Corn Maze’. They have two – one easy (for kids) and one a tad more difficult. Kind of embarrassing when the owner’s 12-year-old son has to come and help you find the exit! But it does promote a good afternoon of family entertainment.

Others have invested in raising 'exotic' livestock, namely buffalo & ostrich. Now those are the farms you want to drive past with the kids & grandkids!

Another farm has taken the produce stand to a new level and now market their homemade salsa locally and on the Internet.

At our little neighborhood store yesterday, the topic was alternatives for creating cash flow from the farm. Of course the ever-changing weather got its fair share of attention! I'm just glad I was up early enough to see daybreak and the brightness of the morning even on a cloudy day!

I think I’ll plan my garden this morning. Nothing like looking at jars of food you’ve raised and preserved yourself!

10 Things I learned from.....

February 11th, 2008 at 12:52 am

My grandparents.
1. save money and pay cash as much as possible
2. raise a garden and preserve the harvest - have a well-stocked pantry
3. work hard and be honest
4. other people have feelings, too
5. go to church and pray often
6. always do the best you can and don't fret if you fail.
7. everything you do has consequences, good or bad
8. study hard and finish school (they didn't have this luxury)
9. don't be afraid to ask for help from others
10. always plan for the future

They all were teenagers/young adults during the Depression. They lived below their means and didn't trust banks much. They were all willing to help others when they were in need and read their Bibles everyday.
My maternal grandfather built their retirement home mostly from leftover/removed materials from his construction business. He raised a huge garden every year. He heated his home with a wood burning stove.
My paternal grandfather did have electricity in his home, but not indoor plumbing. They cooked on an old wood kitchen stove and heated with wood & coal also.
Actually I have an 11th thing I learned: all the luxuries we take for granted, I know I can live without if it ever comes to that.

Tracking Cpn & Rebate Savings

February 10th, 2008 at 09:57 pm

Set up a sheet in EXCEL. To date, showing a 49% savings using coupons + Kroger Plus card and $54 in rebates ($50 from dishwasher purchase).

Looking at CVS ads and trying to figure out if the 35 mile trip to the nearest one is worth it. I've read about people saving lots of $$$$ shopping there.

We have a Rite Aid here and I'm looking at their One-Check rebates. Should be nice if I can get double-plays on them.

Went to Dollar General the other day looking for their One-Check booklet & didn't see it. They were too busy and short-handed for me to ask. It's on my way to just about every place I go, so I'll check on that again this week.

I'll keep up on the savings tracking - should be a nice boost on those 'down' days. My spirit of [I]beating the grocery game[I] is back. Know it can be done; used to be very successful when all my boys were still at home & teenagers [I]at the same time[I]. Goodness, they could eat!

Getting 'those' looks

February 6th, 2008 at 05:42 pm

Grocery shopping with alot of coupons has always resulted in 'those' looks from people behind me in line and from cahsiers. But occassionally, like this past Sunday, a gal came up to me while I was digging in my coupon file and wanted to know where I got all my coupons? She didn't even know about the Sunday paper inserts. I explained about inserts, the jist of using them when items go on sale, and gave her a web address of a refunding mag I subscribe to. She was so excited and I took her to the front of the store where the newspapers are. She grabbed a copy of both. Later at checkout, I discovered one of the papers was 50 cents off with our shopper card! I smiled as I imagined hat gal discovering this, too!
That's what makes it all worthwhile - giving someone else the info & opportunity to save $$$!
I saved 32% that day on my few purchases. I hope run into her again someday as she is checking out and see her smile when she sees the difference coupons can make!
The refund mag is www.refundcents.com. It is a pay website but her prices for online access only are VERY reasonable!

Why did I become frugal?

February 1st, 2008 at 04:06 pm

This question, asked on the forum, has got me thinking.
I learned from my grandparents (all were young adults during Depression)how to use up what you had, save for what you needed, and don't fall into the trap of the latest trends.
They raised gardens, sewed & crocheted. My Mom made most of our clothes right up thru High School.
Money was sometimes tight when I was growing up, but I never knew it. We had family, food, clothes, and a roof over our heads.

When I married, had my kids (4 sons in 6 years) I HAD to be frugal. Used cloth diapers, bought clothes at yard sales, made most of my own clothes, raised a garden. Didn't have all those government programs back then and most people wouldn' even think of them anyway. We got by. My boys didn't have a roomful of toys they didn't play with - they were raised on a farm and everyone pitched in and helped. Not alot of $$$ in the bank but we didn't have any debt except for our home. Lots of good memories for me & them. We drove used cars/trucks and still I won't buy a new one. I use coupons, watch for rebates, and shop for holidays & birthdays all year long from clearance sales. Alot of gifts are hand/homemade.

We even had a Pediatrician that was wonderful! My boys would go thru what we called ' the vicious Strep Throat Cycle'. One would get it and within a week or two, ALL would have it. This was twice a year. He would write one prescription, with refills, with a note on dosages for each of them, to cover them all plus charge us for ONE doctor visit. All my boys eventually had their tonsils removed and the cycle stopped.

Now I'm frugal by choice. $$$ in bank and being able to invest are wonderful things.
I've made some bad choices along the way but have learned from them and moved on. Credit Card debt was a BIG mistake aka lesson!

Saving money is like a game now. The Tightwad Gazette has been a blessing! I re-read it cover-to-cover twice a year and reference it often in between. The Internet has also been invaluable in finding information on how to do all kinds of things cheaper and for DYI projects.

I travel, do genealogy research, run my home business, attend church, and have wonderful dear friends! My immediate family lives close by so I spoil my grandkids with love and homemade goodies. I donate to local charities, love to go to yard sales, and continuously look for bargains.

Believe me, my life is rich and full!

Big Lots

January 30th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Got an e-mail from their site where I registered months ago for ad sneak This e-mail was a surprise - 20% off ANYTHING in the store! Since I have my price book , I took off and ended up spending $28 on shampoo(6 Suave), lotion (3 generic), TP, and printer paper (6 reams). Saved $5 and the prices on these items were lower with this discount than the other stores.

Did have a rude awakening - Big Lots is not always cheaper that other stores sale prices. They also do not take coupons. Frown
Still I go to see what they have since it's on my way. Love their clearance!

Online Coupons

January 28th, 2008 at 09:08 pm

Back in the day (4 teenage sons still at home) we didn't have this wonderful option of online coupons. Now I have been told that one of our two markets will not take them. And it's the one that doubles up to 50 cents! Geezles!
I'm trying to get back in the swing of it = combining coupons with sales with rebates. Alot easier, it seems, 'back then' but I know the rebates are scarce and that's why I started lagging on them in the first place.

Have to return my books to the library tomorrow and I think I'll take some extra time and look in the their coupon exchange basket. I got them to start that over 10 years ago and it's going strong! I'm not the only one who takes their unused coupons down to dump them in!

Last night I cut out homemade ornament patterns while watching TV. Will do some more tonight. Want to do each step in bulk so I'm saving time. Making little 'rustic' stars and hearts that hang on trees or pegs. I have way too many 'trinkets' to embellish them with so it isn't immediate cash outlay right now. Just using what I have stashed all over, even in totes in the attic!

Saving aluminum cans and beginning to recycle plastic & newspapers. Our county doesn't extend the 'recycling truck' out here, so it means a trip to town to put it in the recycling dumpster.

January Review

January 27th, 2008 at 09:26 pm

With a review of my finances last month, I am exploring different ways to save/make money. I am self-employed with as Direct Sales Rep but also need other avenues to beef up my retirement funds.
Re-reading 'The Tightwad Gazette' - have had this book for a LONG time and love it!

In my previous working days, I could have saved/invested more $$$ and now regret I didn't.

I have returned to my thrifty ways - not using CC, using coupons & rebates, cutting back on utilities, buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, planning my veggie garden, combining errands to save on gas, sewing crafts to sell in the spring/summer/fall at festivals,and learning from my Amish/Mennonite neighbors!

I don't purchase junk food, household cleaning products (unless free with coupon &/or rebate), or prepared foods.

We have a used bookstore that just opened a couple of months ago. Took my books that I hadn't opened in years down and got a nice price for them in credit. I can now browse for DYI books, pay 1/2 price (the other 1/2 is deducted from credit). Seems like a good idea also for future gifts. My Mom loves J.E.B. Stuart and I'm on the call list for when these come in to give to her. With 5 grandkids, can do the same for their books.

Trying to win family over to having a 'tightwad' Christmas with handmade gifts. Whether they agree or not, that's what they're receiving from me. I love to quilt and am going to try braided rugs this winter to use up even more of the 'scraps' or material I pick up at yard sales by the box. Always have some strange, colorful yardage in them!

We also have a Goodwill opening in the next month or two (can't wait!). And Yard Sale season is coming up shortly! Getting ready for my own yard sale as I am down-sizing and de-cluttering.