Friday, May 28, 2021

A Thrifty May Recap


TO BEGIN WITH:  I began the month of May with $63 still left in my checking account, $2 plus a handful of change in my wallet and, not surprisingly since I didn't work much in April, two thirds of a tank of fuel in my car.  We were still very blessed once again to have full cupboards and no immediate needs or wants.


NEXT STEPS:  With a much more limited income for the time being (literally half right now) I tried to be very wise with the money I was earning so I did not need to dip into our savings or emergency fund.  In April I used $400 from our Emergency Fund to bridge the gap putting $100 of that back at month end.  I put the remaining $300 back on my first payday so it is now fully funded once again and ready in case we need it.  In the meantime we have cut our expenses to the bare bones.


WAYS I SAVED $$:  We got very creative with our grocery shopping.  We used up a gob of store Monopoly game winnings to bring home seven bags of FREE groceries!  That was a huge boost for us.  I used proceeds earned from selling items on eBay to pay for the remainder of our grocery purchases.


WAYS I EARNED EXTRA $$:  I filled a new prescription at my pharmacy and was eligible for another $25 grocery gift card at Albertson's.  I also redeemed my credit card rewards points and purchased a $25 gift card to Albertsons for groceries.  That adds $50 to my grocery store gift card stash.  I sold some things I had listed on eBay as well as from my Etsy store which provided exactly what we needed to fund our grocery expenses this month.  That was very fortunate.


LOOKING BACK:  In spite of everything, amazingly, I am still debt free.  I am so incredibly grateful to be able to say that too because I was more than a little bit worried about that.  With a very large hospital bill, a ton of doctor visits and additional testing I wasn’t sure how it would all play out, but I had saved ahead into my HSA to cover my insurance deductible amount and then some so that was HUGE for me.  It made all the difference in the world!


LOOKING AHEAD:  Even though my income will be much lower for a little while longer I have continued with and met my retirement savings goals this month and will do so next month too (fingers crossed).  I will continue to make the same monthly deposits into my HSA as well as that is obviously very important and I want to build that back up.  I will continue to do my best to sell things on eBay and in my Etsy store to help supplement my income for the smaller monthly expenses we incur, such as gas and groceries, and maybe have a little more to add to savings.  We shall see.


I am really happy and more than a little relieved with how things have gone this month.  I am very hopeful that June is going to be just as great.  Once again I'm determined to see that it is and will try to do everything that is within my power to make it happen.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

May $100 Grocery Budget 2021


Wow!  Holy cow what a great grocery month this has been for us!  I was determined heading into May to try my best to keep our expenses as low as possible and I think we managed to accomplish that, especially in the area of our grocery spending.  Most importantly I stayed within budget.  

I began my $100 grocery budget with an extra $5.65 leftover from the previous month.  I spent $98.53 leaving me with $7.12 to roll over and use next month.  Of our $25 nonfood budget I spent $10.56 on a few toiletry items that I plan to use as stocking stuffers including toothpaste I picked up for only 79¢ a tube.


Stocking stuffers for $1 each

At the beginning of the month I did a small shop at Fred Meyer to pick up only items that were on sale or marked down and I came away with quite a bit for not a lot of coin which made me very happy.  Then the young one and I did that great shopping haul at Albertson's which I paid for with one dollar and a penny that has been floating around in my wallet for months.  We worked off of those two shopping trips the better part of the month.


Our fantastic Albertson's freebie haul

Mid month I supplemented what we had on hand with a half gallon of whole milk I purchased on sale for 77¢ (loss leader) at Fred Meyer plus a couple nice markdown items and we kept on trucking.  I stopped in at Cash & Carry (or whatever they call themselves lately) and picked up a half gallon container of cream and a five pound bag of grated cheese to round out our current stock.  That cream and the cheese will last us for a good long time.


Near the end of the month I shopped once again for loss leaders and sales items which included chicken breasts for 99¢ a pound, sliced cheese for $1.49 per package as well as strawberries and mandarin oranges on sale to supplement our existing produce.


I did do quite a few small shopping trips this month, but when you add up the totals and see how much I didn't have to spend it makes the effort well worth it.  We got an awful lot for the money I spent.



Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Super Easy & Thrifty Tuna Casserole


I recently posted how I use super thrifty meals intermittently in our meal plans to help us stretch our extreme grocery budget.  My goal is to serve delicious and nutritious meals my girls want to eat and this tuna casserole recipe is one of their favorite thrifty meals.


Just a handful of inexpensive ingredients

Tuna Casserole 

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 soup can of milk

1 can tuna packed in water, undrained

1 7oz package pasta

Salt & pepper, to taste


Combine the soup, milk & tuna

Salt & pepper to taste plus a little dried parsley

In a large sauce pan cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.  In the pan combine remaining ingredients, including the tuna juice.  Stir until thoroughly combined and bring to a light bubble.  Remove pan from heat, add pasta and stir to combine.  Serves 4.


I always think shell pasta seems right for tuna casserole 😊

I serve a vegetable or salad on the side.  You can also stir in a cup of frozen peas.  I like to stir in a teaspoon of dried parsley when preparing the tuna sauce.  The girls like how creamy this is and how well it stays that way, even when reheating the leftovers.  No one likes a sticky dry tuna casserole and this recipe definitely isn't one of those.  Double it for more servings or for bulk cooking so you have leftovers.


Cost:  Tuna 69¢ + Soup 69¢ + Pasta 27¢ + Milk 20¢ = $1.85 (I purchased the soup on sale).  Canned green beans 50¢.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Doing Laundry


Since my oldest daughter moved away for college my laundry chores have dwindled quite a bit.  She doesn't bring laundry home with her anymore when she visits either which is really nice.  That being said I do actually enjoy doing laundry quite a bit.  I don't know why, but I always have.  Ironing not so much, but washing and folding is just fine.

I have a super large capacity front loading washer and dryer set so I usually only end up with one or two loads per week.  Depending on how much bedding I need to wash I usually just have the one big load to run.  And since pretty much everything we own is dark I rarely, if ever, have a white load to run.


When it comes to my laundry supplies I have no real loyalties to any particular brands.  I literally purchase whatever I find on sale, on clearance or at the dollar store.  I prefer liquid detergent and fabric softener.  I use dryer sheets and sometimes scent beads too.  I know a lot of people will cringe over using fabric softener and dryer sheets but it's what I like.  I've tried homemade laundry detergent and using vinegar in place of fabric softener and I don't like how my laundry looks, smells or feels so I choose not to use that stuff.  I do find however that by switching up the brands of soaps and softeners I don't tend to get any type of build up on my clothes and linens or my machines.


I don't tend to get that funk in my front loader washer that people tend to get either.  I do leave the door open for twenty four hours after I run a load to allow it to dry out and I wipe out the rubber boot on a fairly regular basis to keep it clean.  I also clean the lint trap out routinely and use my vacuum to deep clean it from time to time.


Because I don’t run many loads anymore I don't use my clotheslines as much as I used to.  The dryer is convenient so I use it most of the time.  I will usually hang blankets and comforters though and I love how fresh they smell when you bring them in from the line.


For the most part I keep it super simple.  I find it takes me very little time to get my laundry chores done which fits in perfectly with my 15 Minute Chores.  The cleaning and maintenance of the washer and dryer as well as the laundry room itself fits neatly in my weekly and quarterly routines too.



Monday, May 24, 2021

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday was a quiet day at home.  I did a load of laundry, my daily chores, some writing, crocheted for awhile and cooked a bit doing a very small meal prep for my daughter's busy week ahead.


Monday I met a friend for dinner at a local neighborhood restaurant.  We sat out on the patio and the weather was perfect.  It was a delicious meal and a great visit.  I took home my slice of grilled bread for my chickens and spent some time with them.  They are great fun and enjoyed their treat very much.


My mini Fred Meyer haul

Monday I did a small shop at Fred Meyer for 77¢ milk (loss leader) and check for good markdowns.  I found cream of mushroom soup for 59¢ a can.  Not sure why it was marked down because the dates for two years off, but I was happy to find it.  Wednesday I did a small shop at Albertsons for 99¢ a pound on chicken breasts (loss leader) and sliced cheese for $1.49 a package.  I used one of my gift cards to pay for that purchase so no money out of pocket.


Bargains from Albertson's

Wednesday the weather was windy and cloudy so I decided to take my daughter to work.  Since I was there I went into the store and picked up some items I wanted which included a big package of chicken breasts for 99¢ a pound and fresh produce all on sale. I had a digital coupon for 50% OFF a two pound bag of frozen shrimp that was on sale so it only cost $4.72!! Yay!  On the way home I dropped off two kitchen trash bags filled with donations at our neighborhood thrift store.  That felt really good too!


Thursday was a milestone day for us.  I picked up my daughter after school and we went to the DMV to get her learners permit.  Now all she has to do is learn to drive!  And all I need to do is teach her.  Ha, ha.  She actually had the weekend off from work, first in a very long time so we got busy putting the neighborhood in peril.  She is doing great.


THINGS WE ATE LAST WEEK:  Baked gnocchi, tuna casserole, hamburger mushroom gravy & rice, buffalo wings (keto), breakfast burritos (keto), waffles (keto) & sausage links, tuna sandwich (keto bread), fresh fruit, green beans & green salad.


Squeaky clean


Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - Cleaned sink, vacuumed floors.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Kitchen & Dining Room -  Cleaned sink, cleaned microwave vacuumed & spot mopped floors.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - Scrubbed tub & tile, washed curtain & liner, decorator towels & rug, cleaned light fixtures.  Vacuumed & dusted.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Other - Four large loads of laundry.  Vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & both entryways.  Spot mopped the front entryway.


THINGS I DID TO SAVE A SMALL BUNDLE OF $$:  I downloaded digital store coupons for groceries.  I shopped wisely purchasing only items on sale and markdown.  I continued to use up my yarn stash to make another stack of granny squares.  We were very careful not to waste food and ate our leftovers.  I even took a co-worker some of my keto buffalo wings because I didn't think I'd be able to eat them all.  I made some foaming hand soap solution to refill our dispensers.  I rinsed out the fabric softener bottle to make sure we used up every bit.


THINGS I DID TO EARN EXTRA $$:  I worked an extra five hours this week.  Yes!  Gradually working my way back to full time, hoping that will be sooner rather than later.  I also sold one of my vintage cookbooks on EtsyYes!  What a blessing!


How was your thrifty week?


Friday, May 21, 2021

Revisiting An Old Post - "Caring Less"


I strongly recommend caring less about stuff.  Life is way too short and we all have much more important things to do with our lives than to worry about stuff that quite frankly just does not matter.  I wrote a post about this very subject a few years back.  Click here to read what I was thinking at the time.  I still feel that way.


Thursday, May 20, 2021

Making Things Better #5


I always need to be productive.  Even now I still have that driving need to be doing something.  Anything that makes me feel useful.  I am not one that can just sit and do nothing.  I've never been any good at that.  And while the bulk of the projects we had planned for 2021 have been put on hold I still feel the need to do something.  I still have that drive to do things that make our lives better.


Cleaning and reorganizing cupboards & drawers

Lately I've been doing what I call "butt projects".  Any task I can complete while sitting on my butt or can do with frequent rest breaks.  It make take me a whole lot longer to get stuff done, but at least I am doing something.  And that in and of itself makes me very happy.


I am easily staying on top of the chore list

So far I've managed to do quite a bit that is making our life around her much, much better.  Maintaining our home on a daily basis by continuing with my 15 minute cleaning routine has been an absolute godsend and my quarterly housekeeping checklist too.  Those small increments of time allow me to keep up on my chores and cleaning routines without the risk that  might overdo it.  Plus I don't have the anxiety that comes along with a messy house and things growing out of control.  That would pretty much do me in.


A neat, tidy and functional garage space

I've been able to continue purging and reorganizing the spaces in my home.  It took me about three weeks to do the garage, which normally I would've gone out and done it in a few hours, but not this time.  I went out each day and did a small section for a brief amount of time and slowly made my way through it all until I was able to fill my car trunk with donations, our recycle bin with cardboard and even a few items that ended up in the trash.


Some trash and yard debris

I weeded our front parking area.  It took me almost two weeks, but I got it done.  I just sat on my rear and worked from one end to the other.  I could've had my daughter do it, but I really enjoyed sitting in the sunshine and breathing in the fresh air.  I wanted to do it myself.  It looks really nice out there all raked up and tidy.  Now I just have to maintain it and I do by pulling any weed I see popping up whenever I come home from work, the grocery store or a doctor appointment.


A very full recycle bin

Along with the garage I've decluttered and purged the guest room/craft room.  I've gone through everything in that room and filled up a bag with donations, a grocery bag with trash and another grocery bag with shredded paper.  I've gone through all of our paperwork in the entire house and shredded so much that I filled up two kitchen sized trash bags with shredding.  I've gone through our kitchen again, our hall closet under the stairs again.  I've gone through everything under our kitchen and bathroom sinks and drawers too making them all clean, neat and organized.


I am adding to my empty bin collection

I'm working on Christmas.  I've updated our Christmas budget and my gift list in order to do a very low spend holiday this year.  I have plenty of sewing, needle work and craft supplies to pretty much make all of the gifts I plan to give this year.  I've been making quite a few gifts simply by finishing up some unfinished projects as well as using items I already have on hand to create new ones.  Lately I've been making a gob of granny squares to use up all of the odd balls and skeins of yarn I have leftover from old projects as well as the skeins I've collected from thrift stores over the past couple of years.  There will be some afghans made this year so lots of warm blankets to snuggle up with next winter.  Lots of useful gifting this year.


Unfinished projects in need of completion

While I am not the whirlwind of activity I am used to being right now I am still doing things around our home to make things better.  I appreciate that the systems I've put in place still work well for us.  Not just if you are strapped for time, but also if you have health issues or are recovering from an illness or injury.  Knowing that makes things better too.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Super Easy & Thrifty Banana Pancakes


I recently posted how I use super thrifty meals intermittently in our meal plans to help us stretch our extreme grocery budget.  My goal is to serve delicious and nutritious meals we want to eat and recipe will certainly fit the bill.  If you have some ripe bananas lying around a really simple and thrifty recipe is to use them to make banana pancakes.  Not your typical flour, sugar and baking powder pancakes, but a lower carb and gluten free version.


It doesn't get much easier than this! 😋

I simply mash up a banana or two (two is better) and then whisk in two large eggs and a tsp of vanilla (optional).  A dash or two of cinnamon is nice too.  Use this mixture to make your pancakes like you would any other.  I used a little olive oil in a non stick pan.  Serves 2 to 4.


These are delicious & very filling

These are thinner and more crepe like and absolutely delicious.  Use your favorite pancake syrup or drizzle with a little peanut butter heated up in the microwave.  Top with fresh berries or more slice banana too if you like.  There are a lot of options with these.  I hope you enjoy this simple little recipe. 

Cost:  Banana 16¢ each + Eggs 32¢ = 48¢ (64¢ if you use 2 bananas).  We have chickens for eggs & entertainment so the price we pay for eggs is negligible.  I also make my own pancake syrup for around 25¢ per batch.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Cleaning Carpets


Before I start I just want to say, clean your carpets however you choose, but I thought I would share with you how I like to do it.  My mom taught me this method and it works really well for both carpets and upholstery including the seats in your automobile.  We have a Bissell Little Green Machine and it does an amazing job for our little house.  I've borrowed a friends upright Bissell Pet Pro before to clean our old carpet and it does a fantastic job as well, but with the new carpet the Little Green we have is more than adequate to get the job done.


I begin by thoroughly vacuuming my carpets, then I empty the canister and vacuum again one more time.  You want to get up as much dust and debris as you can.  Then I fill up the solution reservoir with plain hot water and half a cup of white vinegar.  I work in two foot by two foot sections first by spraying the area with a light mist of Shout.  Yep, the laundry stain remover.  Next I spray the area with the hot water and vinegar solution and use a soft bristled carpet cleaning brush to agitate the area going back and forth and then diagonal against the direction of the nap.


Working from the cleanest to dirtiest part, if there is one, I will then go over it back and forth with the nozzle and spraying the water solution working with the nap of the carpet.  Then going sideways to the nap I go over it three times and extract the water.  The key is to not over saturate your carpet with soap or water because it is really hard to get soap residue out of carpeting.  The fourth and final pass I do is to go against the nap so I lift the carpet fibers straight up.  You want your fibers standing upright when they dry.  Then I set a box fan in place to speed up the drying time and move onto the next section.  The more fans you can set up the better!  You want to get it dried as quickly as possible.


If you have an area where the nap is worn or really flat and matted, such as in the high traffic areas, you can literally comb it up with a big toothed comb and lift those fibers back up.  You'll likely need to clean the area again after combing because it is usually dirt that packs those fibers down like that.  Then allow those fibers to dry while upright using the extractor to pull them up into position.  You can comb them upright too if you need to.  It works really well.


Once the carpet is completely dry vacuum the entire area and you are good to go!  I only clean our carpets about once every other year.  I will spot clean any areas where something gets spilled or dirty as needed.  One of the best ways I keep your carpets clean in between is to not allow shoes to be worn inside the house and to vacuum often.  We also don't make a habit of eating in the rooms where we have carpet.  That is what dining tables are for so we use them.  Similarly we don’t eat and drink in our vehicles.  I've never been one to allow my kids to have snacks and drinks in the car, except water.  Even on long road trips we will pull over into a rest stop to eat our lunch at a picnic table.


I love how fresh and clean our carpets and upholstery turn out using this method.  It not only works well, but it is a pretty thrifty way to keep our carpeting nice and clean.  The Little Green Machine wasn't all that expensive and it has definitely paid for itself now after all the use we've managed to get out of it.  Do you clean your own carpets or do you have it done professionally?


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