Showing posts with label Dollar Stretching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dollar Stretching. Show all posts

Mar 20, 2017

The Best - and Cheapest! - Produce to Buy in Spring

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 information. Thank you for supporting this site!

When I tell people about my success with the keto diet - how I reversed my diabetes, normalized my cholesterol, and have lost oodles of weight - the first thing I hear is something congratulatory. The second thing I hear is that they are shocked I can loose weight and get healthy on a high fat diet. And the third thing I hear is how expensive my grocery bill must be. I will no doubt address #2 sometime soon, but today I want to address #3, to which my normal response is: "Au contraire!"

My grocery budget has not gone up since going keto (or even since going whole foods, which is what I did for years before being diagnosed with diabetes). Good, healthy food does not have to be more expensive!

Sure, it helps that a keto diet is high in good fats. Fats, among other things, are filling, so I eat less now than I used to. But I'm also a sales watcher, a price book keeper...and I shop for produce seasonally.

There are a lot of good reasons to buy in-season fruits and vegetables: Better nutrition (some studies show that growing produce out of season reduces their nutritional value); energy saving (out of season produce is usually flown or trucked into your area from a warmer clime); and, yes, saving money (in season produce is less expensive than fresh produce that's out of season).

The problem is, Americans are so used to seeing all their fruit and veggie favorites in the grocery store all year long, most don't know which ones are naturally in season at any given time of the year.

So let me help you out.

Produce that's in Season in Spring
(March, April, May)

Throughout this post, I offer recipes to try with each vegetable or fruit. If a recipe is mentioned, but there's no link to the recipe, you'll find it in my cookbook A Vegetable for Every Season (available in both paperback and ebook format). It's only $2.99 for devices, folks!

http://amzn.to/2nAHakd

Carrots
Carrots are a veggie that take months to grow from seed to store, and the cool months are when they are usually pulled from the ground. They are high versatile - a good snack or salad fixing when raw, sweet and wonderful when roasted, and easy to toss into a savory pie, soup, or stew. And - happy dance! - they are kid-friendly.

Some of my family's favorite carrot recipes:
Fermented Pickled Carrots
Carrot Fries
Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
Carrot Chips
Glazed Carrots (pictured)


Radishes
Don't skip past this one because you hate those peppery red balls. First of all, there's more than one kind of radish, and they aren't all strongly flavored. Secondly, people are doing some creative things with radishes - including using them as a low carb potato substitute! (I haven't tried that yet myself, but here's a link.)

Some of my family's favorite radish recipes:
Radish Chips
Pickled Radishes (pictured)

Peas
These family-friendly veggies are at their sweetest and best at this time of year.
Some of my family's favorite pea recipes:
Easy Garden Snap Peas
Roasted Peas
Green Peas, Mint, and Tomatoes





Beets

As a cool season crop, beets will be out of their prime soon! Grab 'em while you can!
Some of my family's favorite beet recipes:
Easy Refrigerated Pickled Beets
Russian Borscht with Beets
Beet Cake (pictured)

Asparagus
Spring is the time to eat asparagus. The later in the year it gets, the thicker and more woody asparagus gets. (It may seem counter-intuitive, but thinner asparagus is more tender.) We eat it often roasted, but it's also wonderful a myriad of ways.

Some of my family's favorite asparagus recipes:
Cheesy Baked Asparagus
Asparagus Chicken Stir Fry (pictured)
Smokey Grilled Asparagus

Cabbage
There's a reason cabbage is connected to St. Patrick's Day; it's cheap at this time of year! It also goes a long way at the table, and lasts a long time in the fridge.
Some of my family's favorite cabbage recipes:
Bubble and Squeak (pictured)
Small Batch Fermented Sauerkraut 
Borscht (Russian cabbage stew)Braised Red Cabbage

Greens
All types of greens, including lettuce, collards, kale, beet greens, radish greens, chard...They are highly versatile. Eat baby greens fresh in salads, or stir them into stir fries, casseroles, and egg dishes, or saute them on the stove top.
Some of my family's favorite greens recipes:
Sauteed Greens (works with any type; pictured)
Kale and Roasted Garbanzo Salad


Broccoli
If you love it, now's a great time to eat it. At the grocery store, be picky and choose only broccoli with tightly packed florets and beautiful color.
Some of my family's favorite broccoli recipes:
Chicken and Broccoli and Stuffing
Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (pictured)
Broccoli Tots


Cauliflower
The great cauliflower shortage seems to be over, and prices for this versatile veggie are inexpensive again. Eat it, well, like cauliflower, or use it to mimic pizza dough, garlic bread, rice...
Some of my family's favorite cauliflower recipes:
Cauliflower Chowder (pictured)
Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Cheddar Pasta Salad
Mashed CauliflowerCauliflower Tots
Healthier Cauliflower Alfredo
Better-Than-Twice-Baked-Potato Cauliflower






Avocado
Here's a fruit that is an excellent source of good-for-you fats. My kids love to eat it plain; I just cut it up into chunks for them.
Some recipes I want to try:
Avocado Greek Salad
Creamy Avocado Pesto


Brussels Sprouts
A lot of people think they hate Brussels sprouts. I think they are nuts :)  But, truly, if you hate them, try eating them fresh from the garden. Store bought Brussels sprouts, by comparison, are bitter. Our favorite ways to eat Brussels sprouts are steamed, roasted in the oven, or cut in half and cooked in a skillet.
Some of my family's favorite Brussels sprouts recipes:
Skillet Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Parmesan Sauce
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (pictured)

Leeks
If you've never cooked with leeks, don't be intimidated. They are basically a weird looking onion, and can be used just like one. They do, however, have a more mild flavor than the spherical onions you're probably used to.
Some of my family's favorite leek recipes:
Cock-a-Leekie Soup (a Scottish Chicken and Leek soup)
Potato Leek Soup

Mushrooms
Mushrooms sprout up when the weather is wet, so spring is their last hurrah.
One of my family's favorite mushroom recipes:
Roasted Lobster Mushrooms (pictured)

A recipe I want to try:
Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mushrooms

Parsnips
They may look like anemic carrots, but parsnips are better, in my opinion! They have a unique flavor that is excellent roasted or added to stews.
Some of my family's favorite parsnip recipes:
Parsnip Fries (pictured)
Parsnip Cupcakes

Feb 14, 2017

16 Tips from the Great Depression that are Still Useful Today

Whether you're struggling to make ends meet or you just want to save more of your hard earned money for the future, history provides some of the best ideas for doing so. Since the days of Genesis, people have struggled through financially difficult times - but perhaps no time is easier to apply to our modern days than those of the Great Depression. Fortunately, many of the ways our grandparents or great-grandparents used to survive those difficult years still apply today. In fact, you may find that following these guidelines makes your life happier and more fulfilling, even if you aren't strapped for cash. I know I do.

1. "Use it, Wear it out, Make do" was the motto of the Depression and WWII. Patch clothes, make do with household items that aren't perfect but still get the job done, and never replace an item you can fix.

2. Reuse, reuse, reuse. This is especially true of containers. If you buy a jar of food, save the jar for storing something else later. You know the old joke about Grandma's house not having Tupperware, but being full of old margarine tubs? Yep, do that. And if my grandmother had Ziplock bags back in the 30s, you'd better bet she would have washed them and reused them until they fell apart.

3. Don't use convenience foods like frozen French fries or jarred spaghetti sauce. Make your own! It really doesn't take much time, but it saves a lot of money - and the homemade versions are usually healthier, too! (Learn how to make some convenience foods here.)

4. When looking for entertainment, do what's free (or cheap). Instead of paying $18 or more to go to the movie theater, get a Redbox rental. Better yet, check out a movie from the library. Go on hikes. Have a family board game night. Have a neighborhood potluck. Often what costs least is the most fulfilling.

5. Grow or raise your own food, as much as possible. This is cheaper and healthier!


6. Eat your weeds. Weeds are a free source of food that are high in nutrition. One of the most commonly eaten weeds during the 1930s and 40s were dandelion leaves.

7. Stretch meat with beans. Lentils, in particular, are cheap, take on the flavor of what's around them, and easily blend in with ground meat. Grab more ideas for stretching your meat budget here.

8. Learn the difference between real needs and wants. One trick to help: Imagine someone offering you cash instead of the item you're considering buying. If you'd pick cash over the item, you don't need the item.

9. Before you buy, consider how many hours you have to work to pay for that item. It may make you reconsider. (More here.)

10. Buy used. Lots of things - maybe most things - we need can be purchased used for a fraction of the cost, and work just as well as new. Cars are an excellent example. So is furniture. Clothes, too, if you live in a fairly affluent area. Even kitchen items.

11. Use up everything. Use your soap scraps. (Tip: Just lay them on top of a fresh, wet bar of soap and they will stick there.) Dip down into your lipstick tube and get every last bit. Scrape the sides of food cans and bottles. It may feel inconvenient, but over time, you'll save money. Plus, it feels better not to be wasteful.

12. Don't use credit cards. It's good discipline, and will save you a huge amount of money in interest.

13. Use leftover meat and veggies in stews and soups. Plan on having soup or stew at least once a week.

14. Never throw away vegetable and fruit scraps. Most veggie scraps can be added to the pot when making stock or broth (learn how here), and all veggies and fruits can go into the compost bin. Vegetable and fruit scraps are also excellent feed for animals like chickens.

15. Eat simple food. That doesn't necessarily mean eating high carb foods like beans, rice, and pasta. Even just paring down to a palm-sized piece of meat, plus a side of veggies, will reduce your grocery bill (and make you healthier).

16. Stash away cash. Even if the amount seems insignificant - those little amounts do add up over time. I remember reading about a lady who took small amounts of cash - sometimes just a dollar or two - to her bank to pay off a loan there. The clerks often raised their eyebrows at her, but she paid off her loan many months in advance, saving a lot of money in interest. The principle is the same if you're saving money. A dollar a week may not seem like much, but in a year, you'll have $52 more dollars saved than if you hadn't stashed that cash.

You May Also Like:

* How I Lowered Our Natural Gas Bill by Hundreds
* The Easy Way We Save Thousands Each Year
* Saving Money on Garbage Fees
* How We Homeschool on a Shoestring Budget
* Make Your Produce Last
* Top 12 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries



Sep 9, 2016

How Moms Can Make Money at Home

It's a question I frequently hear - on playgrounds, on social media, among friends meeting for coffee.
It's a question I also ask myself: How can I make money to help out my husband or family? A reader also recently asked this question of me:

"Hi Kristina,
My name is Jamie. I'm a 34 year old Christian wife and homeschooling mama of 4 little ones (only 2 of them are school aged)...I have a simple question to ask you that may be difficult to answer but I'd love any advice you have! I often think about what it means to be a Proverbs 31 wife, and something has been tugging at my heart for several years now. I long to help my husband out in the financial area, (i.e. work from home) but there's one major problem...I don't know what my talents are! Sounds funny I know, but I honestly don't know what I could do to make a little extra money to help us out. We are not necessarily in dire straits with finances but my husband is self employed and is often stressed about money since all the weight is on him and I wish I could do more to help...I feel stuck. And I know we are total strangers but do you have any advice? Right now the only answer I can come up with is 'Pray.'
Thank you for any help!
In Christ,
Jamie"

Jamie, you're not alone! I think most stay at home moms ask themselves this question on a regular basis. Many stay at home moms even feel guilty for not helping their family financially. In fact, it seems that in our society, it's expected that both the husband and wife should bring in some income. Even in my own household, I often feel there's an expectation that I must bring in some sort of income, or earn extra money when it is needed.

But I'd like you to question this whole idea.



Until quite recently, in all but the very poorest American families, wives were not expected to make money. Not because they weren't capable of doing so, and not even because our society expected husbands should be able to support their wives and children all by themselves. Wives generally didn't work because...they were already working.

They were working in the home. Caring for the children, keeping the house tidy, cooking...All important things, and all things that would cost an arm and a leg to hire someone to do.

So, if you think about it, they were helping their husbands financially by not going out and getting a job. 

Even today, if you add up what the average working mom earns, then subtract all the expenses of her working away from home (including fuel, work clothes, lunches, convenience or restaurant dinner food, and childcare), you'll usually find she's not adding much at all to the family income. (Here's a good example.)

Maybe that's why so many modern moms strive to work at home.

But here's another little secret that didn't use to be a secret at all: Back in the day, housewives contributed to the family income in another important way. They were excellent house managers.

That's not a term we hear anymore. What exactly is a house manager? It's someone who keeps the household running smoothly. It's someone who saves her husband time and frustration. It's someone who makes it easier for her husband to go off to work every morning. And it's someone who sees to it he has to work less hard, rather than more hard.

That's a far cry from many wives I see today, who go on shopping sprees with the attitude that "he'll just have to figure out a way to pay for it."

And so one very important way you can contribute to the family income is by spending the family income wisely.

How much can you save by being a good household manager? Potentially thousands every year.

Now, maybe you already are a good household manager and all you (and your husband) need to do is appreciate just how much you contribute to the family. If that's the case, another thing to consider is your lifestyle. Do you live like the average American, expecting expensive vacations, the latest gadgets and grown up toys, lots of stuff, lots of "going out," and lots of debt?

If so, learning to love a life living within your means is an important goal. Start recognizing that debt is slavery. (Really think on that!) Start realizing that stuff is also a sort of slavery. And start recognizing that if your husband is stressed out trying to pay for things you don't really need it's not worth it. At. All.

I don't know you, Jamie. So I don't know what your lifestyle is like or whether I'm "preaching to the choir." You may still be thinking, "We still need some extra cash." I get it. I seriously do! So here are some thoughts on how you can save or earn money, making your family more comfortable:

* Keep praying. Prayer is so powerful, and if you allow God to, he will either change your heart so you don't feel the need to work, or he will provide the perfect job for you.

* Remember Proverbs 31. I don't believe for a second that she did her trading and clothes selling while she had young children at home. Because young children require pretty much everything a woman has! That section of the Bible shows us the entire life of one "noble woman." Keep that in mind.

* Build skills. Build one of your interests until you're an expert at a marketable skill. For example, in the full version of the email you sent me, you said you like to write; so consider developing that skill by blogging and contributing to small local publications, and eventually you may become professional enough to grow your blog or write for national publications. Or choose one of your other interests to develop.

* Use Swagbucks to earn gift certificates for places like Amazon, where you can buy discounted food and other necessities. Or use those gift cards for school supplies and gifts throughout the year.

* Consider doing more shopping online. Some people find they can get better prices on diapers, toilet paper, and so on by shopping at Amazon, especially if they use Subscribe and Save.

* Keep a price book for groceries, toiletries, and other commonly used household items.

* Stock up when you can. When items you use go on sale, buy a bunch. In the long run, that saves money.

* If you're not already, get organized about serving food. Meal plan (here's my super easy method) and always have easy peasy meals on hand (in the pantry or freezer) for those "I'm too tired to cook nights." Eating out is not only unhealthy, but it burns through money fast.

* Pack your husband's lunch, if possible. If he loves eating out for lunch, see if he'll agree to doing it only once or twice a month.

* Shop used. Children's clothes, for example, are so much cheaper used. Also, depending upon where you live, you may find thrift stores, Craigslist, etc., can provide quality household goods for a fraction of the cost.

* Dump the dish or cable. TV is outrageously expensive. Learn to live with Netflix (saving thousands per year). Consider DVDs from the library, too (as long as you can get them returned in a timely way).

* Cook from scratch as much as possible. Your family will not only be more healthy, but you'll save a lot of money. I also think you'll find that cooking from scratch often really isn't that much more time consuming.

Readers: What are your suggestions for how Jamie - or anyone - can save or earn money?



Aug 25, 2016

How I Earn Extra Money for My Family Using Swagbucks

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

 This post originally appeared last year, but Swagbucks has recently made it even easier to earn gift cards, so I felt it was worth updating you!

This month, I earned an extra $25 using Swagbucks for 1 - 16 minutes each day. And yep, that will come in handy during the back to school season! Best of all, most of the time I spent on Swagbucks was time I would have spent on a different search engine...except that by using Swagbucks, I earned money.

What is Swagbucks?

Swagbucks is site that allows you to earn points for doing things you probably already do online (like use a search engine). Then you can turn those points into gift cards for PayPal, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and many businesses you likely already shop at. How much money those gift cards holds really depends upon you. I tend to put in very little time, and get at least one $25 gift card a month - but I know of someone who let her points rack up and used them to have a $0 Christmas! That's right; she didn't spend a single dollar on her whole family's Christmas gifts!

(UPDATE 8/16: My goal for 2016 has been to use my Swagbucks not only for school supplies, but also for birthday gifts. So far, I've met my goal!)




How I Use Swagbucks


There are a lot of ways to earn points on Swagbucks. I don't use them all. In fact, I'm sure there are some ways to earn points that I don't even know about! But I earn the most points just using the search engine, which is a version of Yahoo. I use it just like I would any other search engine, looking up the answers to the crazy questions my kids ask, looking up local business phone numbers, finding news stories on certain topics, etc. If I think of it, I also go through the Swagbucks search engine when I'm going to a site I already know the web address for. For example, if I want to go to Facebook, I type "Facebook" into the Swagbucks search engine, then click on the search results in order to get there. It takes seconds longer than typing in the web address myself - and helps me earn points. As you search, Swagbucks periodically gives you points. One time, you might earn 20 points, another time you might get 6 points. It's pretty random.

I've also developed a daily routine for Swagbucks. When I turn my computer on, I usually go to Swagbucks first. (FYI, you can use Swagbucks on any device that goes online.) There, I take the daily poll, go through the daily offers, and click on the "daily crave." The poll is a super quick question. The daily offers are mostly information you can send away for if you like - but I never do; I just click through them and when I'm through, I get points. The "daily crave" is either two videos or two slide shows. I just let the videos play in the background. In total, this routine takes 1 - 2 minutes to complete, and results in 4 points.

(UPDATE 8/16: Swagbucks recently introduced a very handy home page daily "to-do" list with 7 easy ways to earn Swagbucks. If you complete at least 6 of those items, you get bonus Swagbucks for that day. Because I do my daily 6, I'm now earning more Swagbucks than ever.)

If I have a little extra time, or I just really want to earn more money, I do surveys. I tend to stick to the shorter ones (usually 10 - 15 minutes is the estimate for them, but I find they are usually quicker than estimated) and choose the ones with the highest earnings first. However, some surveys sway me to take more time if they offer more Swagbucks for completing them.

(UPDATE 8/16: An awesome new update at Swagbucks is that if you attempt any survey, you get 1 Swagbuck, even if you don't qualify to complete the survey. (If you're not familiar with doing surveys, there are always a few questions to see if you're the sort of person they want to a"talk" to. This is called "qualifying."))

And that's it! I find that if I stick to this routine, each month I can easily earn enough points for a $25 Amazon gift card (my favorite!)  - or a gift card worth more, if I spend extra time on surveys.
 
Now it's your turn! Sign up for Swagbucks right here.  Why not give it a try?



Jul 14, 2016

14 Tips for Using a Clothesline

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information.

Every summer, when I was a kid, my Dad and I flew to the state of his birth: Missouri. And every year, it felt like we were stepping into another world - a better world, with a slower pace, cousins to play with, ponds to fish, sweet tea to drink, and Grandma's house.

Grandma's house was a place to love. It wasn't fancy, mind you. But it had a huge, musty basement with a huge musty bed for my cousins and I to sleep in. Plus cows in the nearby pasture. Plus a pond and "crick" (creek). And my Grandma's clothesline.

I don't know why I was so fascinated by Grandma's clothesline - or, more specifically, watching her hang the laundry on it. It might have been as simple as the fact that I'd never seen anyone use a clothesline before. Or maybe it was the way Grandma hummed as she pulled pins from her clothespin apron and hung my summer shorts on the line. Suffice it to say, I have romantic memories of clotheslines. So one of the first things I've wanted to do on our new homestead is use one.

You already know this is a house with quirks. One of them is that there is a nice, existing clothesline with sturdy poles...but the previous owners planted blackberries on it. And then hung a string across the front porch to dry their laundry. This doesn't fit my romantic ideal for a clothesline, so eventually, the clothesline will get moved. (And then I want my hubby to build me a clothesline that looks just like this.)



Romantic notions aside, clotheslines are a super way to get outside more, conserve electricity, and save money. But since so few Americans use them anymore, the art of hanging clothes out to dry is nearly lost. Fortunately, I remember a few tips from Grandma.

1. Wipe down the line before every use. An old washcloth works well for this. Other homesteaders tell me cotton clotheslines are less likely to end up with gunk that won't wipe off.

2. Hate the stiffness of line dried fabrics? Add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the wash - ideally during the rinse cycle. This will make your dried clothes and towels feel softer.

3. Using too much laundry detergent can also make your clothes feel stiff. Try using less; the truth is, you probably routinely use too much.


4. Promptly remove laundry from the washer, to help prevent wrinkles.


5. Use decent clothespins. I quickly learned that cheap clothespins from the Dollar Tree or Walmart don't last long and sometimes have rough edges that snag fabric. It's worth spending a bit more to ensure you have smooth clothespins with strong springs that will last for many years. (Wood clothespins seem to last longer than plastic ones.)

6. Don't hang clothes in full sun, generally speaking. This will eventually fade your clothes and make fabrics wear more quickly. Instead, choose an area of open shade for your clothesline. That means not too close to trees, which can shed leaves, seeds, etc. on your clothes. Hanging clothes inside out may also help reduce fading. On the other hand, if your whites are looking dingy, a good hang in the sun will help brighten them.

7. Hang like items together. This saves a lot of time when it comes to folding and putting away. For example, instead of hanging a kitchen towel, then a shirt, then a sock, hang all the kitchen towels together, all the shirts together, all the socks together. Once everything is dry and you're taking items off the line, fold them as you put them back in the basket.

8. Hang an individual's items together. Make folding and putting away easier still by putting all of one family member's clothes on one part of the line.

9. Prevent ironing by hanging right. There are different schools of thought on this, but I like to hang shirts from the hem. Pants, too. This prevents more wrinkles, in my opinion. (Other people like to hang shirts right side up with clothespins on the armhole seam. Still others hang shirts first on a hanger, and then hook the hanger to the clothesline.)

10. Another way to prevent wrinkles: Before hanging, hold the item from one end and briskly snap it in the air.

11. Hang heavy items securely. For example, fold towels generously over the clothesline - even up to the halfway point - then use four clothespins to keep in place. They will take longer to dry, but they won't fall to the ground.

12. Save space by hanging small towels on one another. For example, hang one washcloth on the line, then use clothespins to attach another washcloth to the first, and so on.

13. I hear tell that a sock hanger saves time and space. I think you could use one for washcloths, too.

14. While taking items off the clothesline, shake. Sometimes a little bug lands on a piece of clothing, and this simple step prevents bringing it into the house.
Courtesy of Ukko.de and Wikimedia Commons.

This post featured at

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home


Mar 30, 2016

Get Dinners Out...on the Cheap! Limited Time Only Retaurant.com Deal

I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

I love to cook - I've written three cookbooks, after all. But sometimes cooking every. single. meal can feel like such drudgery. That's why I think the best gift you can give any mom is dinner out. Because what mom doesn't love a night off from cooking??

The only problem? Eating out can eat up your food budget quickly...something I'm frequently bummed about.

That's why I was excited to see that Restaurant.com is having a FANTASTIC deal on certificates. For just $3 you can get a certificate worth $25 at local restaurants! And not only do these certificates make mega-super gifts (Mother's Day is coming, friends), but at this price, you can do a little self care and buy a bunch for you, too.

Happily, Restaurant.com certificates can be used at more than 23,000 restaurants nationwide. I live in a very small town, yet I found several local restaurants that accept Restaurant.com certificates. Happy dance! The site is really easy to use, too; you can search for restaurants by zip code, city, state, type of cuisine, price range, etc.

All you have to do to take advantage of this deal is use PROMO CODE: SALE at Restaurant.com. All the site's other deals are on sale, too. For example, you can also get a $10 certificate for $1.20. Offer ends Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 11:59 pm CT...so grab 'em while you can!

I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.


Jan 26, 2016

How Many Hours Did You Work For That?

How Many Hours Did You Work for That
Back in the 90s, I read a life-altering book called Your Money or Your Life. One of the concepts in the book that I'd never heard before was learning what everything you buy truly costs. No, I don't mean in dollars. I mean in "blood, sweat, and tears." I mean in terms of being away from the people and things that really matter. I mean in LIFEtime. In other words: How long do you have to work to pay for whatever item you're considering buying?

This is a completely life-altering way to look at things. For example, now when I don't feel like cooking and I'm tempted to order pizza delivery, I consider how many hours I have to work to pay for that pizza...And ouch. Maybe pizza doesn't sound so great, after all.

Even if, as a Proverbs 31 woman, you don't work for money, you can consider how long your husband has to work to pay for an item. Let's say he earns $18 an hour after taxes and the cable plan you're looking into costs $65 a month (an average price, according to the FCC). How many hours of his life does he have to give away in order to pay for television programming each month? 3.6 hours.

Now let's say you want to buy a new tv to go along with that cable. When I search tvs on Amazon, the very first thing that comes up is a Samsung 32 inch LED for $166.97. That seems like a good price, so let's go with it. To buy this television, your husband would have to give away 9.3 hours of his life - assuming you pay cash and don't incur credit card interest, in which case he'll sacrifice more of his life to pay for that tv.

Now it's up to you (and your spouse) to decide if the true cost of those items is worth it.*

In 2016, I challenge you to adopt this way of thinking. If you're like the average American, I'm betting it will save you thousands! And if you teach it to your children, they will have a huge head start when it comes to managing their finances.


* And if you want an even more accurate look at things, first figure your true wage by subtracting all the expenses incurred in order to have the job - things like fuel, clothing, vehicle maintenance, etc.

 

Dec 29, 2015

Most Popular Posts 2015 - and All Time!

I've been blogging at Proverbs 31 Woman for six years (and have written over 1,140 posts!), but honestly, I never have any clue which posts are going to be the most talked about or viewed. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, and judging by what posts are most popular here, I have to agree! It's always a pretty eclectic list. I hope you enjoy it!

(P.S. Want to see more popular posts from Proverbs 31 Woman? Check out the Pinterest page "Most Popular Posts at Proverbs 31 Woman.")


Most Popular Posts from 2015:

1. Why I Don't Watch HGTV (And Maye You Shouldn't Either)

2. Free Art History Curriculum: Edgar Degas (this whole series is popular, but this is the most popular post from the series)

3. How to Kill E.Coli on Vegetables and Fruits

4. No Fail Healthy Pie Crust Recipe

5. Keeping the House Cool in Summer (With and Without AC)

6. 12 Old Fashioned Birthday Party Games for Kids

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Sep 24, 2015

How I Lowered Our Natural Gas Bill by HUNDREDS!

When we first moved into this house about 15 years ago, I was astonished at how high our natural gas bill was. We use gas for our water heater and for heating the house in spring and fall (when running the wood stove would make the house feel like the tropics). I was always careful to wash most clothes in cold water, used an efficient dish washer, make sure our filters were clean, and turn down the high temp on our water heater. Yet our gas bill was still $300 or more every month.


Over the years, we avoided using gas heat as much as possible, and were able to lower our bill to $20 - 25 a month...unless it was spring or fall, when gas heat was our only comfortable option, and our bill went back to hundreds of dollars.

Then our house became infested with mice. I could watch them coming and going through the heating vents throughout our house. Ugh! Once we got rid of the mice, we knew it wouldn't be safe to run our gas heat without having the ducts cleaned. Mice and other rodents can have serious - even deadly - diseases in their feces and dried urine. And you don't have to touch the dust of their urine or their feces; just breathing it in can make you very, very sick. So I hired some pros to come in and clean the ducts.

Funny thing was, they discovered that every single duct in our house was no longer attached to the vents! So for years, we'd been mostly heating the space underneath our house; very little heat was actually getting in the house itself. It took the workmen a handful of minutes to reattatch the ducts to the vents...and guess what? Ever since, our gas bill has been very reasonable - even in the spring and summer. We never get a bill over $30, and around $25 is much more common.

So if your gas bill seems high, and you've tried all the usual advice about lowering it, you might consider checking to see if all your ducts are properly attached to the vents!