Tag Archives: saving money

Is There Such a Thing as Too Modest?

modest girls clothingI just returned from an outgrown clothing sale at a local church. My good friend, Amy and I, along with my littlest boy had a good time hunting for bargains. I think we moms both made out well, especially for our girls, but even at this church-sponsored event, there was quite a bit of immodest or inappropriate clothing, I thought.

When did our little girls go from pretty dresses in pastel colors to belly shirts of dark purple and black or from rolled up jean shorts to booty shorts with attention-getting sayings on the behind? When did the boys start wearing T-shirts with leering and suggestive writing on them? I know it is an old rant.

Sorting through some girls dresses, I narrowed down my selections and decided to put two dresses back. They were pretty dresses, one a white eyelet and the other with pink ribbons sewn at the hem. As I passed one of the tables on my way to return the dresses to their rack, I stopped to offer the dresses to two moms who were sorting through girls clothing of the same size. We had chatted earlier for a bit about our daughters. “Oh, no,” the one mom replied. “My daughter is too old for those styles.” Her little girl is eight. The other mom just shrugged and went back to sorting.

Later, while I was sorting through some boys jeans and chatting with some other moms that were browsing through the same sizes, I examined and put back one pair of jeans. It had a number of strategically placed holes, and I thought they were immodest. “I can’t believe someone would sell something like this,” I muttered when I should have been quiet. The lady next to me snatched up the jeans and proceeded to tell me that this was the style, and I must not have any style. She talked about how she used to work in the fashion industry and knows these things. “I think you are right, I muttered,” and then made my excuses to move on. I don’t have much style, admittedly, but…Dejected, I left the piles of clothing with a sense of ickiness.

I promised my little guy that we would look at the toys, and he had been so good through the clothes shopping. As we walked to a different section of the sale, up the stairs and into a different room, it was easy to see the excess out there. That is the topic for a different rant.

Anyway, we made our way over to the toys, and my child selected a small blue teddy bear that he insisted on paying with his own money. Thinking back to the many, many stuffed animals we have at home, I almost said no. I did sort of try to talk him out of it, but I am proud of the fact that I stopped myself. It was one stuffed animal. How could I deny him the chance to embrace and hold on to his childhood, when society will want him to grow up before his time?

So I ask you…am I making too big a deal over the clothing choices that are out there? Am I dooming my kids to always look old-fashioned with longer skirts and plain shirts? Is there such as thing as being too modest?

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Money Saving March Day 5

money saving marchWelcome to Day 5 of Money Saving March! Each day during the month of March we will take on a new challenge that is easy to do and will save or earn us some extra money. 

Well, March is certainly coming in like a lion with yet another winter storm. Today, I think we need an easy money-saving task that will also help improve our homes.

The challenge for today is to go around your home and find at least five things that no longer add meaning to your life. Place these things in a box or a bag and set them aside to either donate or sell. Selling the items may earn you some cash, but if you donate them instead, you can get a write off on your taxes.

After doing this little purge, the items will no longer take up valuable space in our home, so you won’t be paying the square footage just for storing things you don’t really need or want. If you rent a separate storage unit, then today’s challenge can have even more impact. The more clutter you remove from your life, the closer you are to removing the monthly storage fee!

Ready? Set? Go!

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Money Saving March Day 4

money saving marchWelcome to Day 4 of Money Saving March! Each day during the month of March we will take on a new challenge that is easy to do and will save or earn us some extra money. 

Welcome to Day 4? How have you been doing so far? For today’s challenge, take a few extra minutes to hang up some laundry instead of tossing it in to the dryer. This does two things as far as saving money. First, hanging laundry or using a rack saves you the money you might have spent on running the dryer (heat-generating appliances are notorious energy hogs). Second, it reduces the wear and tear on your laundry items, extending their life, so you don’t have to replace them as often!

Don’t worry if it isn’t warm enough where you are to hang laundry outside. I like to hang laundry up in my basement during the winter, because the clothes dry fast and they contribute some much-needed humidity to the dry winter indoor air. If you want to hang laundry on a regular basis, invest in a good quality drying rack that can be folded out-of-the-way when not in use.

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TVP Saves Money

save moneySince it is Friday, I thought it would be a good time to share a money-saving tip about using TVP. We often get tired of cooking by Friday and want something quick and easy for dinner.

TVP, or texturized vegetable protein is quick to cook, full of protein and very cheap. Often used as a meat substitute, TVP can extend many meals, providing nutrition for very little money.  TVP comes dried, so it lasts practically forever. You can purchase it at your local natural food store or even a chain such as Whole Foods. You can get it in a non-GMO version, which basically means that it hasn’t been genetically modified, as so many of our plant and vegetable products usually are.

Tonight, I’m putting my money (or should I save savings) where my mouth is and using some TVP to make healthy, vegetarian and really cheap Sloppy Joes. Since I am also making homemade buns thanks to my bread machine, the meal is literally costing us less than $5 to feed our family of five, and that includes a can of ready-made Sloppy Joe sauce and some frozen veggies on the side.

What is your favorite ingredient to use to save money?

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Avoid Food Waste in Your Home

This article originally appeared on efoodsDirect

by Mary Ann Romans

Most Americans waste 25 to 30 percent of their food. Yup, that is the percentage of once-edible food that winds up in the trash instead of feeding the family. Knowing how to use up everything you have and avoid food waste can make a difference in your home in so many ways.

First of all, avoiding food waste will save you money, since your food budget will be smaller. You will spend 25 percent less on your groceries. Second, having the mindset, the strategies, and the tools to avoid food waste in good times will leave you better prepared in lean times or times of emergency. Every member of your household should know the importance of being a good steward of your food.

Put the following practices in place in your home, to help you avoid food waste.

Do Regular Pantry Checks

Every few months, take items out of your pantry and check their expiration or best by dates. It is a good idea to rotate food, but let’s face it, during busy days, we don’t always do this. Depending on your stockpile, pantry checks should take you less than 15 minutes. Put regular pantry checks on your calendar, or knock out this chore during a long phone call or while dinner is cooking.

Get Creative with Ingredients

After your pantry check, you will probably have a group of items that are getting a little “long in the tooth.” Place these items up front in your pantry or even on the countertop to remind you to use them. Then get creative and find ways of using them up. Many vegetables or beans can be thrown into soup or casseroles, for example. A half-eaten peach can be cut up, mixed with a little sugar and butter and microwaved for a desert treat. A half-cup of apple sauce can be used as a substitute for oil in muffins.

Purchase Extended-Life Food

One way to avoid food waste is to purchase meals and ingredients with a long shelf life. It is easy to not waste food when it will stay fresh and ready for consuming even after fifteen or twenty years. Just make sure that whatever you choose to buy is both sealed well and high in nutrition.

Practice Meal Planning and Portion Control

Whenever you buy food (or grow it), make sure that you have a plan in mind for using the food before it can go bad. For example, if you see some nice heads of broccoli, ask yourself how will you prepare them? Will they be a side dish, a broccoli cheese soup, or part of a casserole that week? Having a plan means it is less likely for food to go to waste.

At the same time, practice good portion control. This is especially important when you have children. Only serve them what they can eat at one time. This way, any unused food can be saved for another meal or snack instead of being scraped off of the dinner plate and into the trash.

Challenge your family to waste no food this month. Use your family calendar to mark off the days when there has been no food waste. See how far you can get and award a prize, such as a fun family outing when you hit a certain number of days. Pretty soon, avoiding food waste will be second nature.

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Let Your Library Reduce Your Clutter

IMG_2013We love our local library. Not only does it help us save money, but it also reduces our clutter. How? By providing us with education, entertainment, things for the home, and so much more, thus reducing the pile we have in our house.

Here are some of the areas in our home where clutter has been reduced, thanks to our local library. You may be surprised by how many different areas of our home we are able to keep clutter free just by having a library card.

I strongly suggest that if you check out your local library, especially if you haven’t been there in a while. Chances are there are plenty of opportunities you will enjoy.

Kids Craft Supplies

Our local library provides our children with many different opportunities for creative crafts. Often we can just drop in during a particular time period and do the craft together with supplies that are already laid out. Other times, the craft is directed by an instructor. Either way, the kids have some creative fun, and I don’t have to purchase and keep mounds of craft supplies in my home.

Magazines

For a while, magazines were one of the major sources of clutter in our home. We use them for entertainment, research and knowledge. Plus, we like trying some of the new recipes that we find. It was always hard to recycle magazines, since I worried that I might miss something.

Our library now offers popular magazines in a digital format, free to download. There is no limit to the number of current issue magazines that we can view–the library makes all of the most popular ones available, as well as some trade magazines, so we always have access.

Plus, if we really want to read paper versions, we can spend a few moments at the physical library reading current issues or borrow older issues and take them home.

Entertainment or Media Center

Video Games

We used to save money by purchasing used video games, but we still wound up with quite a collection that cluttered up our living room. The library has helped us eliminate that clutter by offering video games for our home system. The kids can check out a new video game for an entire week at a time. The games also come with any extra controllers or special devices that are needed to play them, so we don’t have to worry about having to buy and store a special board to do some virtual skiing, for example.

DVDs

Thanks to the library, we can check out new movies any time we want. There is a good selection of DVDs available that can be borrowed from one to three weeks, depending on the popularity of a particular title. This eliminated our previous practice of purchasing whatever new family movie became available. Now, we only purchase a movie if we’ve checked it out more than five times. We get to watch new movies all of the time, without having to commit to the space to keep them all organized.

While most libraries offer DVDs for free, some do charge a nominal fee for this service.

CDs

Need a new CD for the car or just to listen to at home? While the library may have been the last place you would think of for new music, the truth is that it is a wealth of a resource, especially for children’s music, world music and popular tunes.

Bookshelves

This month alone, I saved at least three feet of bookshelf space in my home simply by avoiding book impulse buys and checking the books out at the library instead. Thanks to our library’s online access, I can “order” new books and have them waiting for me to pick up for free. When I am done reading, there are more wonderful books to be had. Since my family consists of avid readers who tend to bump into walls because we have our noses in our books all of the time, the clutter reduction is significant. Thanks to the library, boxes and boxes of books have left our home and given us a lot more space.

What about rare books or less popular ones that may not be available at your library branch? Request them through intra-library loan.

Reference Library

We often kept certain books around for reference, such as cookbooks and home repair books. While we still have a few of these, most of the time, we can simply check out the library when we need to learn or be reminded of something. Physical reference books can be viewed or check out of course, but our library also has a number of online references that we are allowed to access. The library offers solid and reliable reference material. Reference books tend to be large, so it is nice to not have to find permanent space in our home for them.

Toys and Games

Our local library offers a number of board games that can be played with while in the library, including both the classics and some new favorites. It also sponsors different toy and game events from Lego building for kids to card games for seniors. Not only can this reduce the need for tons of toys and games in the home, but it can also offer social benefits, as well.

Some libraries also allow toys and games to be check out of the library for a number of weeks, so you can take them home to enjoy.

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Small Temptations: Families.com

This piece was written for Families.com, where I blog regularly. 

Small temptations

Sometimes its not the big expenses that shatter your resolve to save money, it is the small temptations that will get you. It is those small temptations that I, personally, most have to guard against.

For example, although my husband and I often like to stop at the Apple store and look at the iPads whenever a new one is released, we aren’t in danger of purchasing one any time soon. It just doesn’t make that much sense to spend that much money when our emergency fund isn’t, well, as fully funded as we would like and we still owe on our mortgage, and the oil tank will probably have to be replaced soon.

Often, though, we aren’t too good about avoiding the little expenses, such as overpriced cupcakes as a treat for the kids, a new kitchen device, a muffin from the cafeteria at work, or take out on the way home when we have perfectly good food in the fridge. While these are small expenses, they do add up, and what is more, they aren’t purposeful by any means. These small expenses tend to be spontaneous, a sort of I-want-it-I-get-it thing without much thought. While there is nothing wrong with little treats and luxuries, I want to get serious about saving as much as possible this year, and I want to spend less on the small temptations as well as the large.

There was a good example just yesterday. There was a Kindle book I wanted to read, right then and right now. Buying it would have been so easy. The cost was only $9. Instead I clicked over to our local library site and ordered the book plus its sequel. To make the trip worthwhile, we all went to the library as a family and selected books that we can keep for three weeks.

Okay, one small temptation licked. But then in the lobby of the library, were magazines for sale, all of those from the previous year. One bundle contained a year’s worth of one of my favorite magazines for only $2. Very tempting. In the past I would have purchased it no problem.

It doesn’t seem like much, the $2, the $9, but with some frugal living, those numbers could turn into homemade popsicles, a dinner made from scratch, or one tiny step closer to building up that emergency fund. Just $10 a day equals $3,650 a year, and while I may not experience a small temptation each day, with five of us in the family, it is likely that someone will.

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