Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Thrifty December & 2021 Recap

TO BEGIN WITH:  I began the month of December with $73 in my checking account, $20 and some coins in my wallet, a full tank of gas in the car and a full tank of fuel in the truck.  With my first paycheck on the 6th I was able to pay all of our monthly bills and made my savings goals.  I also added my annual Christmas bonus to savings which made for a nice extra boost.  With my next check I paid the mortgage payment for January and completed my savings goals for the month.


NEXT STEPS:  My goal moving forward into 2022 is to first and foremost do everything within my power to stay whole and healthy.  And in the coming months I want to do all that I can to make up for some lost time.  This past year I was not able to save the amounts I had planned to and we had a lot of unexpected expenses for my medical care.  I'm planning to do as much as I can to boost my savings and my health savings account so I can consider early retirement.  Since my heart attacks, early retirement has become even more important to me now.


WAYS I SAVED $$:  Once again we were super careful with our power use, we made sure to have virtually no food waste, and I kept my spending pretty minimal.  Having been blessed with abundance I was able to scale and prepare meals, including our holiday and celebration meals, using items we already had on hand.  We were able to do some holiday baking and make fudge, which we shared with others.  I have zero complaints about that.


LOOKING BACK:  I was thrilled to be able to take care of all of our expenses and put money back into savings along with a little extra.  It has been an incredible year for me, filled with many challenges and obstacles to navigate and in looking back I am comforted to see that it went well, exceedingly well.  I have been so very fortunate and I don't take any of it for granted.  I have much to be grateful for and I truly am.


LOOKING AHEAD:  As we sit at the moment I am still debt free, my savings accounts are looking great, we have everything we need and, although our Christmas was very simple, it was absolutely amazing!  What incredible blessings we have enjoyed!  The New Year is upon us and full of possibilities.  I'm excited and filled with hope for what 2022 has in store.


Happy New Year to all of you.  May you be abundantly blessed.


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

December $100 Grocery Budget 2021 & YE Totals

I didn't need much in the way of groceries this month.  Some fresh produce, but primarily what I spent my budget on was for items we wanted as opposed to things we needed.  I still made sure the things I bought were on sale, markdown or if not, best price.  We didn't need anything nonfood related so my $25 monthly budget remained untouched.


This year I challenged myself to work with an extremely thrifty $100 grocery budget.  I am super happy with how well I did with such a minimal budget.  It helped a lot that the majority of the year I was only feeding two of us, but I did load up some shopping bags a few times this year to help out my daughter who lives away at college.  She was able to supplement her own minimal budget with those extra groceries I funneled her way.


Check out that grand total!! 😁

Not only did I stay within the $100 a month budget but once everything was totaled up I actually had money left.  I was tempted to use it up on some frivolous grocery shopping but couldn't come up with anything I wanted enough to go to the grocery store again.  I think I was shopped out.  Instead I took the remaining $54.73 along with the $25 I did not need for non food items and put those amounts into savings.


We got FREE stuff too!

We managed a lot of delicious, healthy meals and we are ending the year with a fully stocked pantry and freezer.  It is an amazing feeling to be able to see what all we have and know we are about to begin a new year with no immediate needs or wants.  Because I was able to do so well this past year I am planning to carry this minimal grocery budget into 2022 and I am really excited about it.  I love a good challenge and with rising prices at the grocery store I'm sure this will be a huge challenge, but I'm pretty sure I can do it.


Markdown bread & produce plus a few sales items

I'm extra motivated to stick to it too, because I have a BIG goal planned next year.  Stick around for more details to come.  It is going to be AWESOME!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Afghans For Christmas


I had one of those zippered vinyl bags that comforter sets come in stuffed full with skeins of yarn I had accumulated from thrift stores for 99¢ a skein.  Over the years I'd used that yarn to make a variety of projects which left me with a lot of odds and ends.  In the spirit of a very thrifty Christmas I decided to pull out all of my yarn and see what I could do with it.  I began by making winter scarves for each one of my daughters and one for my oldest's boyfriend.  I had hardly made a dent in my stash.


They loved the color combinations

It quickly became apparent I had enough yarn to make another, much bigger project so I got busy and made a pile of granny squares.  Granny squares are my favorite way to use up odds and ends of yarn leftover from other projects.  By the time I had finished I was thrilled and surprised to find I had made enough squares to put together two afghans for my girls as Christmas gifts.  I laid out the squares and then handstiched them all together.  Then I added a binding to each afghan.  And thanks to some Amazon boxes I was able to get them all wrapped up last month to tuck under the tree.


For a thrifty Christmas we sure had a lot of gifts under this tree

Using up all of this yarn made for some extreme decluttering too. Now all of my yarn fits into a small plastic bin and the comforter bag has been retired.  I think the afghans turned out very pretty and they are super soft and cozy.  The girls seemed quite pleased with them and the large size is perfect for some serious snuggling to stay warm or to lay over their beds at night.  They will enjoy these for many years to come.


Monday, December 27, 2021

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


Last Sunday was one of those days spent doing little odds and ends around the house.  In fact, my whole week was pretty much like that, but by the time all was said and done I'd tidied up, decluttered, shredded, planned, prepared, cooked and even fit in working on a craft project.  Not sad about my productivity this past week at all.


I only had a four day work week, which was very nice, and I only have a four day work week this week too.  My oldest came home on Thursday for Christmas and stayed for three days before leaving early yesterday morning to drive down to Salt Lake City where her boyfriend lives and attends college.  We haven't seen much of her this semester so it was very nice to have her home, even if it was only for a few days.


Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent visiting, doing our nails, watching loads of Christmas movies and listened to a lot of Christmas music.  Not to mention all the wonderful meals we shared.  The gifts we exchanged were simple and well thought out.  I was so touched by the sweet things my daughters got for me - candles, tea, lotions & potions, a bottle of wine.  And they loved their gifts as well, which included homemade winter scarves, a new handmade crocheted afghan, art supplies and stockings filled with all kinds of useful goodies.  It was all absolutely perfect right down to the falling snow that gave us a white Christmas.


THINGS WE ATE LAST WEEK:  Some leftovers from the week before, pasta alfredo & shrimp, grilled cheese sandwich & tomato soup (twice), clam chowder, glazed ham.



Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - Cleaned mirrors, vacuumed & mopped floors, washed rug.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Kitchen & Dining Room - Bleached sink, vacuumed & mopped floors.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - Cleaned mirror, vacuumed & dusted, mopped bathroom floor, washed rug.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Other - One large load of laundry.  Vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & mopped both entryways.


THINGS I DID TO SAVE A SMALL BUNDLE OF $$:  I didn't do any shopping last week.  I cut open a tube of face cream so I could use up every last bit.  My oldest gave me a great haircut.  We did our own holiday manicures at home.  Such fun!


THINGS I DID TO EARN EXTRA $$:  Worked a little bit of overtime.


How was your thrifty week?



Friday, December 24, 2021



Wishing you all my best this Christmas.  
May you be blessed with all that you deserve.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Warning! Blog Changes Are Coming!


Not to worry, I am not going away.  It is just time for me to make some changes.  And change is good!  I want to give you a heads up that after the new year this blog is going to be a little different.  And!  I have a surprise for you as well.  But!  I'm going to make you wait until the new year to find out what this is all about.


I know some of you love cliffhangers and some of you really don't.  And some of you don't mind change and others really hate it.  But, it will be good, that much I can tell you.  In order to grow we all have to change at some point.


This has been an incredible year for me, as so many of you are aware, and it is time for me to switch gears a bit and prepare for my future.  A different future, which is pretty exiting really.  And!  I can't imagine doing it without all of you either.  Stay tuned, updates are on their way!


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Prepping In 2022


I've been prepping for a little while now and I'm learning so much as I've been building our long term food storage.  One thing I learned was that it doesn't take a lot of money or time to put together a reasonably sized prepper pantry and you don't need a lot of fancy gear either.  My prepper pantry is pretty basic.


I do have some plans for prepping in 2022 and I'm excited about it.  Like this year I do plan to keep my prepper pantry as a working pantry meaning I will shop items from it for our regular daily use and replace them as I do this.  I want to make sure I rotate and use up items that could expire or go bad.  So literally a "pull and replace" scenario here.


I want to do more canning next year.  This year all I did was pasta & meat sauce as well as applesauce, which was really all we needed.  I'd like to get to where I am canning more of my own food and buying less canned items from the stores.  I plan to dehydrate more as well.


I also want to add some emergency meal kits and this one has me pretty excited.  I want to put together everything one would need to make a full meal.  The criteria would be that it can only require one pan and needs to be able to be cooked on a camp stove or a rocket stove.  Quick and efficient needs to come into play as well.  I think that is a reasonable challenge and I plan to make thirty of them.  Let me know if this is something you are interested in and I'll do a post on what I come up with.


So, just some simple little goals that I think are going to be more than manageable.  Do you have any long term food storage goals planned for next year?


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Easy Lemon Poundcake


This is actually a repost of a repost, but it is a good one.  If you need a quick dessert or even a food gift I've got you covered with this one.  Click here to enjoy!  You will not be disappointed.


Monday, December 20, 2021

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


Anyone else in awe that this week is Christmas?  It just seems like the other day I was heading out to the garage to get the fall décor out of storage, but that was more than three months ago.  It often feels like time is getting away from me.  And once again this week was no exception.



Sunday morning the youngest and I headed off to Trader Joes and Winco to pick up a few items.  We didn't need anything so this shopping trip was about wants for the holidays and to finish up my prepper wish list.  We accomplished that task and headed home to get everything put away.  On the way home I told my daughter that my least favorite part about doing a big shopping trip is having to haul everything into the house.  But then, I told her, I have reminded myself how very blessed I am to "have to haul everything" into the house and then it seems rather silly to even feel that way.  So now instead of complaining I am grateful and thankful with every step.  Sometimes we just need a proper perspective.


Speaking of perspective, I know how workplace drama can negatively affect us if we allow it.  While no one enjoys an unpleasant situation, especially at work, I am able to balance these particular situations with the knowledge that the drama isn't mine and so far I've been able to deflect it.  We got our Christmas bonuses last week and due to the fact that we've all been working extra hard these past two years due to the pandemic and a lot of us work consistent overtime they doubled our bonuses this year.  When our president announced this via email and told us how much he appreciated our efforts I immediately replied with thank you.  I have been stunned by how many people actually complained about it.  Complained?!  Why on earth would anyone complain about a bonus?  And say it wasn't enough?  It's a bonus.  It's a gift.  No one owes it to you.  Why on earth complain?  I don't understand.  I really, really don't understand.


Just about every day since Thanksgiving I've picked an uplifting Christmas movie to watch, sometimes two, and I listen to Christmas music every day too.  And I often sing, so now you've been warned.  And yes!  Diehard is a Christmas movie!  Thank you Roku channel!


Thursday evening was the Christmas concert at my daughter's high school.  It was very nice and made for a wonderful evening of beautiful music. Friday was our annual Horse Doover Nite and we went all out with a spread of homemade Chinese food.  The food was amazing and loads of fun for all of us to get in the kitchen and cook together.  I was so happy we were able to pull it off this year.


A delicious spread

THINGS WE ATE LAST WEEK:  Leftovers from the week before, chicken & dressing, grilled cheese sandwich & soup, homemade Chinese food.



Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - Scrubbed sink & toilet.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Kitchen & Dining Room - Wiped down appliances, vacuumed & spot mopped floors.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - Daily swish & swipe. 

Other - One large load of laundry.  Vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & both entryways.


THINGS I DID TO SAVE A SMALL BUNDLE OF $$:  Patiently waited for a $10 price drop to order our new Roku as ours is old and now considered "unsupported".  I washed out and reused four Ziploc bags and three vacuum seal bags.  I stopped our Netflix subscription.


THINGS I DID TO EARN EXTRA $$:  I worked a small amount of overtime.

How was your thrifty week?



Thursday, December 16, 2021

Another Great Overtime Funded Prep


My last prepper haul for 2021 was very well thought out and well planned.  I worked a fair bit of overtime this past few weeks and I knew exactly what I wanted to spend that extra money on.  I made a list of items to fill in some gaps I felt I might have and then I scoured the ads and eventually ended up getting most of what was on my list at Winco.

These are going to be used in some meal kits I've got in mind

Fred Meyer was the first place I shopped, however, and I went there twice in order to get the best prices over two of their sales flyers.  The first time was to pick up several packages of the Knorr rice and pasta side dishes at $1 each.  The next ad had Hamburger Helper for 87¢ each so I picked up five of those.


With the end of the year approaching and money in my pocket I figured Winco was my best bet for getting the rest of my list knocked out without going bust.  And it was.  I was able to get 90% of what was on that list and the rest I feel I can live without.  Maybe next year I'll be able to find those last items but for now I am quite pleased with how much I've been able to accomplish this year.


I added barley, mac & cheese, more ramen, honey, boullion & soup mixes

20 pounds of rice on sale for $9.97
Oddly, a 10 pound package was the same price!  We'll definitely use it

Any of my fellow preppers out there doing a final stock up on anything in particular?  Anything you wanted to get but haven't been able to due to shortages?  Do you feel you're long term storage is adequate yet?


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Easy, Quick & Thrifty Main Dish


With the rising prices on groceries I've been thinking a lot about coming up with super thrifty meal ideas that just about anyone would probably enjoy.   Here is something we came up with recently and it uses the Knorr rice or pasta sides that come in a pouch.  You could also use Rica-a-roni or Pasta-roni or the store brand equivalent too.


This one with ground beef was really good
We are excited to try some other combinations

I took one of the pouches, half a pound of ground meat, a cup of cooked rice and two cups of water and created a meal that could easily feed four people.  This one I chose was the Spanish rice flavor.  I browned some ground beef, but you could also use ground pork, chicken or turkey and then drained away most of the fat.  Then I added in the two cups of water and the contents of the pouch stirring it all together.  I reduced the heat to medium low on my burner and once it began to bubble I put a lid on my pot and set the time for 7 minutes.  Once that was done I removed the pot from the burner and stirred in the cup of cooked rice, replaced the lid and let it sit an additional 5 minutes.  Then it was ready to serve.


I had a bit of leftover grated cheese to use as a topping

The nice thing about this dish is it comes together very quickly and it is super easy to prepare.  It is also very versatile.  If you don't want or don't have meat you can leave it out or you can use pretty much any canned meat you may have on hand.  Plus you can dress it up any way you like.  We topped this with some shredded cheese or sour cream would be nice as well.  Or just plain was fine too.  Normally I find these side dish pouches to be rather soupy and overly salty, but by adding the extra cup of rice it really balances out the saltiness plus it extends it nicely into a main dish instead of just a side plus it wasn't soupy, it was actually perfect.  We really enjoyed it.  My daughter really liked this and it is something she can easily make.


A simple salad of spinach, slice mushrooms & grape tomatoes

I'm noticing these pouches are staying at around a dollar each at the stores right now so price wise I think it is a really great bargain.  The store brand Rice-a-roni versions are slightly less.  Just a quick and thrifty meal idea you can put together with a green salad or a canned or frozen veggie on the side.  Or depending on which flavor you use you could even put the veggie in with the dish for a one pot meal.  We have decided to incorporate these into our meal planning on a semi regular basis.


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

My 2022 Dayplanner


I am still using the same mini binder and printables I did last year.  If you want to know more details about how I put it together you can click here.  I usually start preparing my dayplanner for the following year in the fall because I happen to need to schedule appointments and plan ahead already.  I print off my pages from templates I download from The Scattered Squirrel.  I had loads of planner stickers leftover from ones I had picked up at Dollar Tree a few years ago so no need to purchase anything new.  The paper came from my stash in the craft room and I reused the page protectors.  Easy peasy and super thrifty.  😃


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