Thursday, January 31, 2013

31. Cooking in Bulk

One way to save time and money is to do bulk cooking. We have a couple of dishes that we make in bulk and then divide up and freeze for future meals.

  1. Breakfast burritos:
      1. 36-Large flour tortillas
      2. 36-Large Eggs
      3. 4 pounds of breakfast sausage
      4. 2 large bags of frozen tater tots
      5. 2 large onions (white or yellow)
      6. 4 large tomatoes
      7. large bag of frozen green chile - thawed
      8. 8 cups of shredded mexi blend cheese
      9. 2-Tbsp of olive oil
      10. Plastic Wrap
      11. Freezer Storage
    1. Bake Tater Tots according to package directions.
      1. Put into large bowl and mash them up.
    2. Brown sausage.
      1. Put into the large bowl with Tater Tots.
    3. Chop onions and tomatoes.
    4. Heat medium sauce pan and add in olive oil.
    5. Saute onion and tomato in olive oil.
    6. Add in thawed green chile.
    7. Bring to a boil.
    8. Reduce heat.
    9. Simmer 10 minutes.
      1. Add green chile mixture to large bowl with Tater Tots and sausage.
    10. Scramble eggs.
      1. Add to large bowl.
    11. Mix up Tater Tots, sausage, green chile mixture, and eggs.
    12. Put two full scoops into one large tortilla.
    13. Top with shredded cheese.
    14. Wrap into burrito.
    15. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer storage container.
    16. Repeat.
We store in containers that hold 6-8, so that we can thaw one package per week. The rest go into the deep freezer until we are ready to bring them in.

2. Chicken Ala King
3. Spaghetti Sauce
4. Texas Chili

There are multiple other possible recipes that would work well for freezing and storing.

Until Tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30. Buying in Bulk

One money saving possibility is to buy in bulk; however, this is not without a word of caution. Be sure that if you buy in bulk you do not use in bulk, this is one of the major downfalls of buying in bulk. One other word of caution is to double check the prices using a common measurement and make certain that the "deal" is really a deal. When we buy in bulk, we then divide out into usable portions and then store in the freezer or in the pantry. We try to not keep the extras in the kitchen because if we do, we will tend to eat more because we can see it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

29. Homemade Drinks

One of the major money savers that we do is making our own drinks. I had written in a previous post about my husband making his own coffee, in this post I will let you know what our family does besides his coffee habit.

  1. We do not buy soda very often, maybe one 2-liter bottle every other month for a special event.
  2. I drink tea; I fresh brew it from tea bags, then pour it over ice.
  3. My kids drink lemon-aide and flavored powder drinks.
  4. One of my kids favorite is water with orange slices, lemon slices, or some other fruit.
  5. We also drink fruit juice occasionally.

Monday, January 28, 2013

28. Refilling Hand Soap Dispensers

Instead of buying this little pump bottles of hand soap, we have purchased decorative bottles and we refill them using the liquid soap refill. The large refill bottle costs a lot less per ounce than those little bottles. If you don't want to buy decorative pumps, you can buy one of the disposable pumps and refill it when needed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

27. Full Dishwasher Loads

Running the Dishwasher uses water and energy, by running only full loads, the amount of both that are used can be reduced. There is a debate as to whether hand washing or using the dishwasher is more economical. This depends on how you use them. We find that for our family, using the dishwasher when it is full saves us the most.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

26. Washing Full Loads of Laundry

Here is  a relatively simple time for saving some money:

                         Wash full loads of laundry.

The machine uses the same amount of energy no matter the size of the load, although you can adjust the water lever, the power used does not change.

Do not stuff the machine full, as this causes the clothes to not be able to move freely to get clean. Make sure that you use the water setting so that there is enough water to cover the clothes in the machine. A front load machine uses less water than a top load, so if you are in the market and can afford one, your better option would be to go with a front loader.

Friday, January 25, 2013

25. Carpet Stain Remover

One of the most frustrating things to do is to remove stains from carpet. Although this can be daunting, it ends up being a real money saver and making your carpet last longer. It is easiest to remove stains from carpet when they are fresh, so if you can get them fast. If you are like me, mystery stains show up randomly and are difficult to identify.

When you are working on removing a stain, make sure that you start at the edges and work in to the center, this should reduce spreading it around. If you can not identify what caused the stain, try starting with carbonated water. If this doesn't work you will have to move on with other options. One that seems to work well is 20 Mule Team Borax dissolved in tap hot water. Using a cotton rag, blot the Borax water onto the stain and wait for it to dry, then vacuum up any residue. I have discovered that this will get many stains out permanently.

Having pets, we end up with a lot of mystery stains. One product that I have found that works wonderfully on pet stains is Bissell OxyPro Pet, I have tried multiple stain removers and this works the best. Your best option for an identified urine stain is to cover the stain with white vinegar, then use the Bissell.

 There are multiple methods to remove a variety of stains, I found a couple of books that have ingenious methods for making things last. One is Yankee Magazine's Make it Last and another is Get Out Darn Spot, both books have excellent methods for caring for your carpet and your upholstery. Make it Last has care instructions for just about anything that you own.

Here are a couple of methods: wax can be removed by using a paper towel covered by a regular towel, then use your iron on a very low setting (be careful as the carpet can be scorched if you are not cautious); chewing gum can be removed using an ice cube and gently scraping the gum off of the carpet.

Good Cleaning!
Until Tomorrow!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

24. Buying used

Our most favorite chair.
Chest of drawers with
updated drawer pulls.
Our dresser, refinished and added drawer pulls.
Buying used is a great way to save some money. We have gotten used furniture, that has become some of our favorites. You have to be selective in your choices. make sure that you choose items that are extremely well built. Check for quality. If the design does not suit your decor, you can always refinish or paint the piece. As long as the pieces are well made, refinishing makes sense. Our chair, just needed to be cleaned, we will need to reupholster it eventually, but we still have time and the fabric works for us. Our dresser was very scary when we first got it, we stripped it and then painted it white and added the drawer pulls. For the chest of drawers, we cleaned it up and then added new drawer pulls that brightened up the piece. For my funky desk, I am not sure what I want to do with it. I really like how it has a hand panted look and am not sure if I want to refinish it. I really need to recover the chair seat, I am sure that I will figure it out eventually, but for now it works as it is.
My funky half circle desk
There are some great used items that are not furniture that are excellent values. We have gotten some used clothing items and some artwork, we have also gotten some books, video games, movies, and musical instruments.
There are many items that you can find used and in good condition that will serve you for many years.
Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

23. Cleaning Your Own Carpets

One thing that I have discovered as a way to save money is by cleaning my own carpet. I can rent a machine or purchase a machine, based on need, and the cost is way less than the cost of hiring professionals. We have pets, so we need our carpet cleaned at least two times per year.

While talking to a wonderful carpet installer about a year ago, he let me know that you really should not use "wet" cleaning on your carpets. According to him, a dry carpet stain removal product is the best product to use. He said that once you use a "wet" product, the dirt sticks to your carpet creating the need for more cleaning. I thought this was very interesting information. So, if you have new carpet, seek out a good "dry" cleaning product.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

22. Pre-Treating Stains

One method to make clothes last longer is to pre-treat stains before washing. Once clothing has been through the dryer, removing stains becomes much more difficult.

Here are a few of my favorite stain treatment products. I have found that generally using a mixture of these products I have been able to get out almost every stain. Every once in a while some mystery stain slips through the dryer and I have to treat after the fact.

Lemon juice, peroxide, baking soda and vinegar all work sparingly. Make sure that you test the fabric before using any of these products.

One of the best books that I have found on laundry care is Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean.

Visit her website here:

Another one of her books specifically for spot and stain removal is The Queen of Clean The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal by Linda Cobb.

Monday, January 21, 2013

21. Repairing Torn Clothing

One of the most frustrating things that can happen is discovering a hole in your favorite shirt or pants. This seems to happen to whatever it is that I wanted to wear today. I have discovered the best method for mending these small tears or hole is to hand stitch from the wrong side of the fabric. The stitches need to be made with a matching thread and need to be small and even. The stitching must be done very carefully to keep the clothing wearable. If the stitches get too big or sloppy, the mend will be noticeable.

If the hole is too large to repair there is always the option to add embellishments. This can be done by adding a patch, embroidery, buttons, additional fabric, etc.

Another possibility is to adapt the shirt, if it is too small or the hole is on the side or centered, by adding in a panel of additional fabric. Simply cut open the material and stitch in a panel of coordinating fabric.

Mending what you have and repairing your items is much more cost effective than buying new. Often you can make something even better by putting in a little imagination. Have fun with it. You may be able to find inspiration on Pinterest or shopping sites.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

20. Real Bathroom Cups

We use to have those little disposable paper cups in all of our bathrooms. I am sure you know the kind.
Just in case you weren't certain, here is a visual.

A couple of years ago, I realized that this was a very big money waster. We now only have these for our guest bathroom. The rest of us each have a ceramic or plastic bathroom cup. 
Each one of us has a special cup that is ours only. We wash them every so often and keep them rinsed and clean near our sink. There are some really cute ones available.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

19. Coffee - Bulk, Whole Bean

I have to state that I am not a coffee drinker, but my husband is and he drinks a lot of it. He is also extremely selective in his coffee tastes. I am sure that if you really want to save money there are extremely cheap coffees out there that would be effective with that. However, some things you just have to buy the good stuff and that's okay. There should always be some things that you splurge on, just do it smartly. 

For his coffee habit:

1. He makes it at home.
2.  He uses travel coffee mugs for his morning "on-the-go" cup.

3.  We found gourmet coffee at Cost Plus World Market (online purchasing is an option if there is not a location in your area) for an excellent price. They, also, have a membership program where you earn free coffee from purchasing coffee, and Wednesdays are double point days. So we purchase on Wednesdays.

4.  He buys whole bean and grinds it fresh, so that it tastes even better.
5.  He stores his beans in the freezer to maintain the flavor longer.

I know that there are a lot of people who buy a coffee every morning at the local gas station or coffee shop. This is not something we can afford to do, he gets a lot more coffee for his money with a little bit of effort and travel coffee mugs are better for the environment. Overall, his coffee habit is not a big expense, but we do whatever we can to keep those costs as low as possible.

Friday, January 18, 2013

18. Reusing your towels

Some people may read this and think "What?" I am here to tell you that we use our towels for a week between washes. We hang them up to dry after each use. It may seem strange, but hopefully you are freshly washed when you use your towel to dry off. Instead of crumpling it on the floor, we hang them up to dry. This saves on washing multiple towels per person every wash day.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

17. Bar Soap

Years ago when Body Wash came onto the scene we jumped on it. It was so much easier to use and we just had to purchase body wash poufs to make it work well. So we ended up purchasing body wash and poufs (which have to be replaced regularly, as they do not wash well). Then we realized that we use a lot more body wash than we use of bar soap. Bar soap costs less than body wash and lasts longer, less soap goes down the drain. As long as the soap is kept on a tray or in a place where it can dry out a little between uses, it will not dissolve.
Say Goodbye to the Pouf

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

16. Fire wood from remnants

We had been looking for a way to have winter fires without paying a fortune for fire wood. We called around to find out about getting wood delivered and the price was a little more than we were ready to pay. So, we found an alternative. We found that a friend who did not have a fire place who had recently begun remodeling his basement. He offered us all of his untreated wood cuttings to use in our fire place. Between this wood and the tree cuttings from our own lot, we have acquired quite a bit of wood. We did not really look for very long. I imagine if we had begun our wood search earlier, we could have had enough to get us through the entire winter, for the cost of picking up the wood.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

15. Limiting Convenience Foods

The term convenience foods is used to identify a variety of food products. Not all of these are bad. Sometimes convenience packaged foods are actually good choices for your health and your wallet. Depending on your definition of convenience foods you could be referring to dairy products, dry foods, and produce (fresh or frozen). The prepackaged foods that to which I am referring are more of the prepared meals type.

  • limited portion sizes
  • items that can be difficult to produce at home (i.e., french fries, chicken pot pies, etc.)
  • these go on sale more often and could be cheaper than making from scratch (be sure to check the $)
  • you can pay more for the prepackaging
  • there can be a number of preservatives
  • convenience food = junk food
As with most things, everything in moderation.

Monday, January 14, 2013

14. Scratch Cooking

Cooking from scratch is one of the best ways to save money. When you buy prepackaged food products, they generally cost more than if you made the same items from scratch. I know that sometimes the time involved can be more valuable and this is a decision that you will have to make for yourself. I have found that for most things cooking from scratch is not only cheaper, but also healthier.

There are multiple places to find wonderful healthy, easy recipes.

I have, also, found that this is something I enjoy doing with my family. I have found that my husband and I have turned cooking into together time, which makes things very nice.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

13. Warehouse Store Membership

We spent a long time deciding on whether or not to join a warehouse store. We researched a lot and made a plan before making our decision. We calculated the cost of the membership with the amount of savings after taking two visits to the store to evaluate prices, looking at our storage possibilities and deciding on a plan for product usage and budget amount. We opted to try it out for a year and signed up for a one year membership. We will completely track our spending and usage. Here is our plan:
  • We have set a monthly budget amount for the Warehouse Store shopping.
  • We have designed a plan for dividing and storing all of the products.
  • We have discussed a usage plan with all of our family members.
Being careful with our usage (not increasing our usage to case size proportions) and portioning the lot sizes into sizes usable by our family will make the warehouse membership a money saver. If we are not careful and dedicated on this the membership could become a financial waster. So, if you have, or are think about, membership to one of these stores, be certain that you research the cost and the usage. Otherwise, this can actually cost you more money than you would spend on the same items in smaller quantities.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

12. Annual Insurance Review

12. Annual Insurance Review

Every year we do a review of our insurance, how much we have, what is covered, what isn't covered and how much we are paying. I contact a number of local and/or online agencies to get quotes and make sure that we are being quoted for the same level of coverage. Once before coverage that seemed like a great deal was really a lot less coverage for a little less money, totally not worth a change. Make certain that you are comparing apples to apples.

Here is a small list of insurance coverages that you need to review:

  1. Home Insurance (Owners/Renters)
  2. Car Insurance
  3. Medical Insurance
  4. Life Insurance
  5. Dental Insurance
  6. Vision Insurance
  7. Pet Insurance
  8. Travel Insurance
Here are a couple of web sites to help you in your review:

Friday, January 11, 2013

11. On-line Banking & Bill Pay

11. On-line Banking & Bill Pay

After years of writing out checks and payment envelopes, then stamping and mailing them, we opted to switch over to web bill pay. Web bill pay allows us to set the pay date and amount in advance. Some of our bills allow for automatic transfer of funds, some have to have checks sent out by the bank. We have yet to have any negatives arise from using this service and it saves us the cost of checks and of postage.

We, also, use as much on-line banking as possible. Our Credit Union offers a variety of on-line deposit options, i.e. online deposit (where you enter the info from the check(s), then send the check(s) to the bank in the postpaid envelope), scan deposit, and mobile app deposit. We can use the on-line program to transfer money into our savings accounts and keep our budget on track. Also, we do not have to worry about the opening hours of the actual business.

Another wonderful aspect of on-line banking is that there is no gas expense in getting to the location. With the price of gas lately, this offers real savings.

Until tomorrow!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

10. Credit Unions

10. Credit Unions

After many years of dealing with a variety of banking institutions, we have finally come to the realization that Credit Unions are the only way to go. After our last bank decided to delay a deposit until the evening, then post the highest debit transaction first, so that the smaller transactions hit for overdraft fees, we were done. I had never seen such a blatant disregard for the customer. At that time, we were only using the account as a spending account, so of course they did not care what we thought. We were basically shopping for a local banking institution to use for our regular spending and saving. This was the last in a long string of issues with banks. We had been with our credit union for more than 15 years and had never had anything like this occur.

We then began really looking into the benefits of the credit union and here is what we discovered:

  1. No debit overdrafting - if you don't have the funds in your account, your purchase is denied (without having to submit a special request)
  2. On average, they have better rates and lower fees.
  3. As not-for-profits, they have lower costs and pass the savings along to members
  4. Every member is an owner; there is no question whose interests are being served.
  5. Years ago, the online services were not that great; however, today, our credit union has amazing online options (web bill pay, online deposits, mobile apps, etc.) 
  6. With the CU network, there are multiple ATMs across the nation (that do not charge fees).
These are just a few of the benefits of using a credit union. For money saving we have calculated that the credit union actually costs us about half of what it would cost us to use a bank for the same services.

For more information on credit unions check out this web site:

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

9. Selling on Amazon

9. Selling on Amazon

At the beginning of last year, we decided that we needed to get rid of a lot of old console video games, DVDs, books, computer games, toys, etc. A lot of these things tend to be overlooked at yard sales and what we had was in excellent condition so we didn't want to "give" them away. So we looked into selling on Amazon. This is an amazingly simple process. We were able to sell most of what we had and we continue to add new items as we get them. There is no minimum number of goods, you set your own price, and postage is available on-line. Working out the packaging for shipping was probably the most difficult part of the entire experience. We have a bookshelf with the items that we have still for sale and they basically just live on that shelf until they are sold, then we package them and ship them.

Visit Amazon's site here: Amazon Seller Central for more information.