Friday, February 26, 2010

Spring Planting

This is also a reminder to get your flower beds, gardens or porch pots ready for spring planting - a homegrown tomato is cheaper and tastes better than the grocery store variety, as does lettuce, green beans, herbs, cucumbers, and most any other thing you can possibly grow - plus, if you start from seed, it is even cheaper!  A packet of about 100 tomato seeds costs about 1.50, one tomato plant costs about $2.99.  If you're planting a whole garden, that makes a huge impact on your start up costs - and if you have tons of produce, sell it on a roadside stand and recoup virtually all of your investment.


Hey! Look to the right!  As of today, ourtruck is paid off!  Next one up, the car, followed by the computers, followed by the boat!!!  Of course I will eventually change the boat from years to dollars, but it's embarrassing!

On a motivational note, if you have a 'pay off list' or 'debt snowball' that you're working on paying off, please post it somewhere that you will see it everyday to remind yourself of your goals!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Breakfast Choices

Breakfast can get expensive quick - for instance, if your kids eat poptarts, they cost about $2.50 for a box of 8, and let's face it, since they come 2 in a package your serving size is 2 even tough the package says the serving size is 1 (at about 300 calories per 1) - so anyway you get 4 servings of poptarts for $2.50 which makes them cost about .63 per serving.  Now if poptarts were a nutrient dense, filling and lasting breakfast, it would be okay - just a little on the pricey side.  Now let's look at some other options:
  • Eggs - currently $3 for 18 = .17 per egg, full of protein and other vitamins and only about 70 calories each, and oh, by the way, they are nature made not chemically concocted - although that can be debated a little depending on your egg supplier - I get mine from local farmers, but still a regular grocery store industrially laid egg is closer to as God intended than a poptart ;)
  • Oatmeal - about $3 for the 42 oz round box (not the instant stuff) = .10 per serving (1/2 cup dry which equals almost a full cup cooked), and 30 servings per package.  A complex carbohydrate powerhouse, minimally processed, few if any chemicals added
  • Pancakes - the homemade kind are cheap as dirt, they cost about .65 per recipe and one recipe feeds more than one person, and of course, the homemade kind are less polluted by stuff you can't pronounce
  • Muffins - there again, the homemade kind are about .75 per recipe and one recipe makes 12 muffins, and you can feed several people on those also
  • Cheese toast, waffles, biscuits - CHEAP> CHEAP> CHEAP!!!
The best options, I think is to mix and match.  Serve each child a scrambled egg with a side of pancake, muffin or oatmeal.  The next day, give them cheese toast or something simple like that on your leftover homemade bread (use real cheese of course).

My kids rarely eat boxed cereal or poptarts, or anything like that.  We eat homemade pancakes, biscuits, muffins, waffles, cheese toast, etc.  They enjoy the occasional cereal treat, but that's what it is, a treat, not a daily staple.  And while my kids are realtively picky eaters, they do well with breakfast, and that makes me happy since it's the meal that carries them through their busiest part of the day and the part of the day most of their intense learning takes place.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vacation Spending

My family and I are on vacation in the western part of NC this week.  We love to ski, and skiing is very expensive, there are a few ways to save a few bucks on this wonderful sport though:
  • Clothing - we buy our ski bibs, goggles, etc at yardsales through out the year.  The boys have bibs that cost $1 each and they worked fine.  We also have hand me down coats that fit well (thank you snippity!), and we purchased new waterproof ski mittens out of the 'sale box' at the local ski shop here for $13.
  • Ski Days - go during the week, because the weekends are usually marked up $10-$15 dollars per person per day, ditto for the night skiing - opt to sleep instead. 
  • Food - the resorts generally have lockers you can rent for .75-$1.50 each, so rent 2, put your shoes, etc in one and pack a lunch cooler to put in the other because a bottled soda is $2.25, a cheeseburger is $5, a grilled cheese is $3.50 and French fries are $3.50.  It's cheaper to pack the cooler and pay for the locker a couple of times if you need to go into it more than once than to even buy one soda!!!
  • Purchase ahead - if you have a set week you go on vacation, many resorts will offer discounts for buying your tickets at least 2 weeks ahead
  • Special discounts - the resort we ski at offers family value packages for skiing, and they also give you 50%-100% off of a child's lift ticket if you bring your receipt or proof of rental for hotel/condo locally
That's all I have for today - please enjoy your favorite sports, but don't go broke doing it!!  Plan ahead and save your hard earned money for other things, like more sports!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Homemade blocks

In my household, we love blocks. We are pretty hard on them too!

I have purchased cardboard blocks. They work pretty well, but can get expensive. However, since we are so hard on our toys...they get messed up. I've come up with a solution to add to our collection, while making use of what would be waste items. I saved cardboard food boxes. I stuffed them full of shredded paper and crumpled newspaper. Seal closed with packing tape or hot glue, and you have a great toy. Pictured are pasta, bacon and easy mac boxes. I've also used frozen waffle and cereal boxes. My kiddos use these to build castles and towers...but these are versitile, because the kids use them in the kitchen area to cook and grocery shop.

Posted by Picasa

Homemade Toffee

I have never made toffee, until last night.  A relative of my husbands called me to get an opinion and bounce off some ideas about a recipe he was trying that wasn't coming out to his liking.  So we talked and went over some things, and he led me to a toffee recipe on cooking for engineers.  So I went to it and BAM I fell in love  - this may be my favorite cooking website because it goes into wonderful, readable technical information about cooking, which is right up my alley.  Anyway, the recipe was easy, had plenty of pictures, and I made the toffee which turned out perfect.  When I calculated the cost, the homemade is about $1 less (or more) per batch than buying the bag of pre crunched toffee bits, and I use those a lot for different recipes.  BTW  one batch and one bag are approximately equal weight.

Follow the link and enjoy some homemade toffee.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Budget Billing

I don't know if this one actually saves you money so much as making how much you need available for bills each month more predictable.  Dominion North Carolina Power offers a service called budget billing, which means they average your past 12 power bills and just bill you that same amount every month.  This way, you don't have those large upswings in summer and winter.  I just started it this month, so I'll let you know how I like it.  It was easy to sign up for, right on my account page on the website.  They do reevaluate their average every 4-6months, so it's not a free for all for leaving all the lights on either;)

Friday, February 5, 2010


Here is a really easy, fast and cheap way to make popcorn in the microwave.
Items you need:
popcorn kernals (the big, cheap bags work fantastically!)
a brown lunch sack
a piece of scotch tape

Open your brown bag. Add 1/4 cup unpopped kernals. Fold top of bag over once. Tape it closed. Place in microwave, and cook until popping becomes slow.(Just like prepurchased microwave kind...mine took 1:30). Remove from microwave and open carefully. You can add a little bit of spray butter & a sprinkle of salt if you don't want to eat it plain.

This is so much easier than pulling out the air popper...and WAY cheaper and healthier than storebought! The brown bag can be reused many many times...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Public Domain Books

Public domain books are basically books old enough that the copyright is expired.  That means you don't have to buy a copy in order to read it, you can read it for free online, and I'll list several sites for you.  The trick to public domain is that the book was initially copyrighted prior to 1923 or the author has given permission for it to go into public domain.

Another great find!

yesterday, I found a near perfect Matthew Henry's Commentary in one volume for $2.  now I normally read this online for free, but at that price and in such great condition, I can have a printed copy too!!