Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Thrifty November Recap

TO BEGIN WITH:  I began the month of November with $152 in my checking account, $28 and some coins in my wallet, a nearly full tank of gas in the car and half of a tank of fuel in the truck.  I was feeling pretty good about things as we headed into the month.


With my first paycheck I was able to pay all of our monthly bills and made my savings goals.  I also topped up the fuel tanks on both my car and the truck.  With my next check I paid the mortgage payment for December and completed my savings goals for the month.  Our annual car insurance bill is due in November and I had the money in savings to cover that in full.  I used my credit card to make the payment so I could accrue a lot of points to redeem for a gift card and then I paid the credit off before it could incur any interest charges.


NEXT STEPS:  Last month I used some of my savings to cover the balance of my travel expenses to Minnesota.  I have a plan in place to replace that amount as soon as possible and I am halfway there.  In December I will be able to finish getting all of that put back into savings and then some.


WAYS I SAVED $$:  Once again we were super careful with our power use, we made sure to have virtually no food waste, and we only spent money on items we needed.


LOOKING BACK:  I was thrilled to be able to take care of all of our expenses, put money back into savings, bump up my retirement savings contributions and even add more food to our prepper pantry using only the extra money I earned working some overtime hours.


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 we are ready for Christmas as well as the New Year.  What an incredible blessing!  So much to be incredibly thankful for.  November was a fantastic month!  And December is ahead and full of possibilities.


Monday, November 29, 2021

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful holiday with family and friends last week.  Our Thanksgiving Day was really nice.  Time spent together as a family with really good food, conversation and laughter.  We watched a couple shows from our home DVD collection that are a big part of our tradition and listened to music.  The girls sang and even danced.  I loved every bit of it.


I set the table with pieces from my past.  My grandmother's china and my great grandmothers silver.  Cloth napkins I made from fabric given to me by my mother and a lace tablecloth that was made by another great grandmother as a wedding gift for my grandmother.  It was a beautiful setting and I loved, loved, loved putting it all together.  My "new" china cabinet is definitely my treasure trove filled with my most favorite items.


Our holiday meal was delicious, low stress and because I had shopped the pantry and freezer to pull it all together it was very thrifty as well.  We opted for a roasted chicken dinner this year using one of the chickens I had bought last summer when they were on sale for 77¢ a pound and we had all the scrumptious trimmings and dessert.  I was able to send my oldest daughter home with plenty of leftovers and we still had plenty for our own meals the remainder of the week.


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and this year especially so.  I took plenty of time to step back and count my blessings.  With so much to be truly grateful for this year it was not difficult to celebrate with gusto, which is exactly what we did.


THINGS WE ATE LAST WEEK:  Leftovers from the week before, sausage & pepperoni pizza, NY strip steak, roasted chicken & all the trimmings.



Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - Scrubbed sink & toilet, vacuumed floors, washed rug.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Kitchen & Dining Room - Disinfected sink, cleaned microwave, wiped down appliances & cleaned behind & underneath, vacuumed & mopped floors.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - Vacuumed & dusted.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Other - Two loads of laundry.  Vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & both entryways.


THINGS I DID TO SAVE A SMALL BUNDLE OF $$:  Shopped my pantry and stayed out of the stores.  No Black Friday shopping for us! 

How was your thrifty week?


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

November $100 Grocery Budget 2021


Last month I had some extra money and the sales were really good on items I had for my November shopping list so I did most of my shopping for this month in October.  Even by doing that I was only over budget by $22.59 leaving me with only $77.41 to spend on groceries.  Turns out that was more than enough.  We didn't need very much so I didn't purchase very much.


Fresh produce & a few items that we will actually use next month

Our nonfood budget included replacing the two packages of toilet paper we had used from our prepper pantry and a very large bag of dry cat food purchased at the feed store for our kitties.  That bag should last them well into the new year.  I spent a total $23.89 of our $25 budget.


Markdown produce & a good buy on 10# of potatoes
These apple are delicious

By keeping food waste at a minimum, eating leftovers, giving our food scraps to the chickens and using up what we already had on hand to prepare a lot of budget friendly meals I was able to feed us well and remain well under budget.  At no time did we feel like we didn't have enough to eat or that we were compromising on nutrition.


Marked down meats
The Italian sausages were fantastic!

I still have a total of $26.07 left to rollover and add to next month's budget which will be a nice amount for us to use for our groceries for the holidays.  I'm really excited to see that throughout the year, by shopping carefully and tracking my spendind, rolling over any unused amounts each month to add to my starting total, I've managed to keep to the budget so far without going over.  Next month I will not only let you know how I do, but I will also be posting the monthly totals and show you how I did for the entire year.


I stocked up on a really good buy on cake mixes
More about that coming up in a future post so stay tuned

Can I make it to the finish line without going over?  We'll sure find out. 😉


We even snagged two FREE jars of salsa with our store rewards

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Handling Food Shortages & Supply Chain Issues


If you have followed my blog for any length of time you have probably picked up on the fact that I am a meal planner and a budget shopper.  I keep and maintain a well stocked pantry and freezer so I can prepare healthy and delicious meals for my family on a really slim budget.  It has been nearly two years now since the pandemic started and it didn't take long for me to realize after witnessing all the panic shopping that happened at the beginning that it would be prudent for us to start a prepper pantry, which we did in April of 2020.  I continue to enhance and maintain that as well.


I always want to be prepared.  I see the writing on the walls and I get busy to make sure I am ready and able to take care of my family regardless of what may come our way.  Whether it is a job loss, unexpected expenses, economic crash or a pandemic, I've seen it all.  I want to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality and so far in my lifetime I always have been.  Thank God.


Right now we are seeing something new in that we can't always get what we want when we go to the grocery store.  Prices are steadily rising and meat prices are climbing at an alarming rate.  Simple basics can be difficult to find on any given day.  My advice is to be patient and be prepared to put a little more effort into your shopping.  And if you aren't already, you better get stocked up.


I've always been a hunter gatherer when it came to grocery shopping.  For the most part I am not brand loyal so that opens up a lot of possibilities for us.  I've always been out to get the most I can for the least amount of money possible and the best quality I can afford.  It’s a lofty goal, but I think over the years I've pretty much mastered it.


My best tips are as follows: 

Shop early and often.  Most stores restock the shelves overnight so get there when the stores open. 

Check the ads weekly and make a list of those items on sale that you know you will use.  Take advantage of loss leaders and stock up.  If soup is on sale for 49¢ with a limit of six, get six.  If toothpaste goes on sale for 88¢ a tube buy a year's supply. 

Sign up for store rewards cards and check their website regularly for digital coupons.  Take advantage of the free offers or money off on purchase deals.  Play their games and win some stuff. 

Shop at several locations to find what you need.  If one location is out of something try another.  Shop outside the box, so to speak.  I don't just shop at the supermarket.  I shop the dollar stores, the outlet grocery store, the restaurant supply grocery store, asian markets, Wal-Mart and the feed stores.  You will be amazed at what you can find. 

Look for marked down items, especially on meats and produce.  Reduced price stickers and tags can be found just about anywhere so keep your eyes open.  Clearance and close out items are a good find. 

Be patient and be flexible.  Don't fret about what you can't find and look for other options.  Be open to trying different brands or something similar.  You may just find something you end up liking better. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help.  If you are struggling to feed your family call 211 (in the U.S.) and speak to someone about the resources available in your area.  Food banks and food pantries, churches, schools and government resources can help you.  There is no need to go hungry.


Feel free to share about what you are seeing where you live and any tips you have too.  How are you managing to navigate these challenges and get what you need these days?  Do you find yourself shopping more or less these days?


Monday, November 22, 2021

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


Early Sunday morning my daughter had her final driving test and she passed!  Was there any doubt?  I mean she has had a great instructor (me) all this so how could she not?  Hee, hee, hee.  I am super proud of her.  With her 18th birthday only ten days away we will hang onto her test and wait until that morning to get her license, otherwise she just has to turn around and go get it renewed on her birthday anyway.  No point in doing that and wasting our time and money.  So we have an appointment at the DMV bright and early that morning at 7:00 to get the job done and then I get to turn her loose.


After her driving test we ran a few errands before she had to go to work.  I had to pick up a prescription and while I was there I picked up cheese that was on sale and some markdown meat I found at a good price.  After dropping the girl off at work I stopped at Fred Meyer on the way home for a quick produce shop and to pick up cake mixes on sale for 75¢ each.


I baked and frosted cupcakes to take into work for an employee celebration.  I had everything I needed on hand in my pantry to accomplish this task.  Again this week the drama has been much better and morale seems to be much improved as well.  I'm hoping at least through the holidays things continue on an even keel.


THINGS WE ATE LAST WEEK:  Leftovers from the week before, Italian sausages w/pasta, beef & bean burritos, turkey burgers & fries, lentil soup & baking powder biscuits, salads.



Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - Vacuumed floors.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Kitchen & Dining Room - Vacuumed & spot mopped floors.  Daily swish & swipe.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - Vacuumed & dusted.  Daily swish & swipe. 

Other - two large loads of laundry.  Vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & both entryways.


THINGS I DID TO SAVE A SMALL BUNDLE OF $$:  I gave my daughter a haircut.  I washed out a quart size and a gallon size bag to reuse.


I got another one of these for FREE

THINGS I DID TO EARN EXTRA $$:  I worked a couple hours of overtime.  I also sold something from my Etsy store.


How was your thrifty week?


Friday, November 19, 2021

Food Gifts For Christmas


With all of the supply chain issues and blank spaces on the grocery store shelves these days I think food gifts are much more welcome and appreciated.  Food doesn't just fill our stomachs, it gives us warmth, comfort and a sense of security and wellbeing.  What a tremendous gift we can give in the form of food.


A case of oranges or an assortment of fresh fruit

I was thinking a lot about this and how during war times and the Great Depression food gifts were really special.  The opportunity to give and receive something extra that you wouldn't normally buy for yourself.  Or to get more of something you really enjoy.  So I came up with a list of food gift ideas we can give to our friends and loved ones.


Wine - a nice bottle or two to enjoy with dinner or a bottle of champagne to ring in the New Year

Beer - a six pack of a favorite brew or something from a local brewery.  Add some nuts or pretzels

Charcuterie boards - a nice selection of meats & cheeses with a box of fancy crackers

Pasta - pair up some bowtie pasta with a jar of alfredo sauce or a package of linguine with a nice marinara.  Add some parmesan romano cheese and a loaf of French bread

Soup - an assortment of canned soups or make your own dry mix in a jar.  Add bread, rolls or biscuits.  Oyster crackers are nice too

Bread - homemade breads or rolls with a jar or two of jam

Nuts - assortment of nuts, cashews, peanuts

Hot Beverages - cocoa packets, K cups, ground coffee, teas.  Add in some mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, coffee creamer or cream, a honey bear

Baking mixes - a nice assortment of cake, brownie & cookie mixes with some sprinkles and chocolate chips.  Add in a carton of eggs & a bottle of oil.  Cookie cutters and cupcake papers too

Breakfast - sausages or bacon, a carton of eggs, pancake mix & syrup, English muffins, jam & butter.  Granola or their favorite cereal with milk is a good option too

Oils - a bottle of olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil or a flavored oil; do a combination

Popcorn - microwave popcorn, microwave kettle corn, sodas or flavored sparkling waters to wash it all down.  Add in some theatre size boxes of candy

Pie & ice cream

Ice Cream, cones & toppings


I'm sure I'm just hitting the tip of the iceberg and you'll be able to come up with all kinds of ideas yourself.  You can make so much of this stuff yourself too.  Just think of things your loved ones enjoy and go for it.  Fill up a box, basket, bag or bucket and have fun with it.  I want to hear what you come up with.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

An Albertson's Prep


Albertson's had some good buys and they had food on their shelves so I picked them for my latest prep.  I don't know what it is about Albertson's but as far as shortages go they seem to be the least affected.  You just have to be willing to pay their prices.  I'm a thrity shopper so to do all my shopping there would be a complete budget buster.  However, they do have some great sales and offer a lot of freebies.  I'm all in on the good bargains.


I added more canned soups & pasta

My daughter requested ramen

On this particular week it was canned goods and I just so happen to be in the market for some of those to bolster the prepper pantry.  Last year we topped it up with the basic necessities and a few extras.  This year I'm all about maintenance and adding in more of the extra items that make our culinary lives so much nicer.


We use a lot of canned tomatoes

Don't forget about the sweet treats

I added twelve more canned soups (49¢ each), six more canned tomatoes (59¢ each), six packages of pasta (69¢) each, a case+  (30ct) of assorted ramen (20¢ each), two more cake mixes and two tubs of frosting (99¢ each), four more packages of baking chips ($1.79 each) and another FREE (digital coupon) package of sanitizing wipes.  Not a bad little haul and great items to enhance and round out what I already have.  And really good prices too! 😁


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Dinner Rolls Or Biscuits?

I asked my youngest if I should make dinner rolls or biscuits this year to have with our Thanksgiving Day dinner and without hesitation she said dinner rolls.  My kiddos love my homemade dinner rolls and I love to make them.  I thought I should share my recipe with you again as it has been a bit since I did.  Click here to see my recipe.  And if you want biscuits click here.  And enjoy!


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

It's Nothing New


Last week I went back through perusing my old Thanksgiving and Christmas posts.  I pretty much talk about the same things year after year.  The reason, of course, is because these are our traditions.  And my family wouldn't have it any other way.


Throughout the year we deal with a lot of change.  Changes at school, our jobs, in our daily lives.  So when the holiday roll around we don't want to change much.  We just want to settle in to the old familiar routines of celebrating the holidays.  We pretty much decorate the same way with the same stuff, listen to the same music and eat the same foods.  It's what we love and what we know we can count on.


With all the crazy that has been our world of late it is pretty wonderful to know that Thanksgiving will be Thanksgiving and all things Christmas will still be Christmas.  We'll still eat good food, bake a lot of the same cookies, put up a tree with all those treasure ornaments and spend time together.  With a few little tweaks here and there, but for the most part, it's really nothing new.  And that is how it should be.


Monday, November 15, 2021

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


Wow!  Another week zoomed right by.  It seriously is a blur to me.  I was pleased to see some of the drama at work die down, especially with the federal court of appeals putting a stay on the vaccine mandate.  That mandate was seriously like someone trying to put a fire out with gasoline.  Holy Moses!  But this past week was much better.  I was able to put in a few hours of overtime and get caught up for the first time since I returned from Minnesota.  It feels really good.  We even got some good news in that our department was finally given the go ahead to hire another person, however with the current employee shortage when we will be able to fill that position is anyone's guess.  But it is definitely a start in the right direction.


We have seriously been enjoying the homemade yogurt

By Friday evening the girl and I were both wiped out.  She fell asleep on the couch and I was having a hard time keeping my open in my recliner.  I ended up going to bed at a quarter of nine and was asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.  Neither one of us even ate dinner.  That's a lot of tired.


We are ready for the holidays and well into next year

Saturday I was up well before dark and ready to start my day after a restful night's sleep.  As soon as it was warm enough I headed outside with my leaf blower to work on the next section of our yard and get it all cleaned up.  I filled our bin to the top with leaves and yard debris and then headed indoors for some brunch and a rest.  Then I got my second wind and I ended up emptying out our prepper pantry and doing a complete reorganization of that.  I was on a roll so I did the same thing with our kitchen pantry and by the time that one was all tidied up and organized I was completely done for the day.  Canned goods are heavy!  But I did it and it felt great!!


THINGS WE ATE LAST WEEK:  Leftovers, taco soup & cornbread, egg roll in a bowl, hamburger mushroom gravy & rice.


Love this!


Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - Vacuumed & mopped floors.  Daily swish & swipe. 

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

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom -  Scrubbed tub & sink, bleached tiles, vacuumed & dusted.  Daily swish & swipe. 

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


And this!

THINGS I DID TO SAVE A SMALL BUNDLE OF $$:  Washed out a few Ziploc bags and reused them.  I didn't do any grocery shopping other than to have my daughter pick up our weekly freebie offers after she got done with work.


And this too!

THINGS I DID TO EARN EXTRA $$:  Worked a few hours of overtime, which I have big plans for that extra income. 

How was your thrifty week?


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