Sunday, July 27, 2014

Angie's On Facebook

Angie's Frugal House is on Facebook.  Stop on by and give her a 'Like'.  It would make her day!

Go to Facebook dot com and type in Angie's Frugal House in the search bar.  She's just waiting to meet her new friends.

Take Care of the Pennies and the Dollars Take Care of Themselves, Shopping, Part 2

Today I'd like to talk about shopping styles.  There's only a handful of them. 

1.There's the 'I don't have time for this, but it has to be done' method.  This is the not make a list, go to the store and make a beeline to the item, grab it and go method.  That was me when I worked full time.  This is the one most of us avoid.  We like to shop. 

2. There's the 'stroll' method. There's something relaxing about the stroll through the store looking for any item we think we need or want.  I think it's a way of leaving all of the stress life can bring our way behind, if only for a few minutes.

3.  Finally there's the ' I got it on sale.  You won't believe what I paid for it' method.

I have transitioned through all three of these methods at different stages of my life.  I have also learned that all three of them have pitfalls.  I now am distinct in my shopping habits, most of the time.  Now that I see there are pitfalls I'm rather focused when I shop.  I know which type of shopping I'm in the mood for.  Being aware helps me keep my money close to me. 

Years ago a light bulb went on.  I had a choice.  I could make other people rich, or I could keep my resources close to me.  Keep in mind I was always frugal, seeing the benefits of that life style.  I just didn't have the whole picture back then.

1. The ' I Don't Have Time For This' method

Like I said, I went through this method when I worked full time.  My poor husband thought we were going to stroll and check things out.  I just couldn't.  There was very little time for me to accomplish everything personal during the weekends.  I had to do some batch cooking, laundry, some cleaning, and resting so I could put in another  sixty or seventy hours at work. I had budgets to create, people to manage and had to stay after my staff went home to finish paper work or meet with my COO. (Chief Operating Office).  Because we had an open door policy, both she and I took care of employee needs before ours.  The staff was happy, but it made our lives filled with work.  The pitfall is I missed a lot of good sales and coupons.  I didn't have time to make a list so we just bought whatever looked good.  There was a lot of wasted groceries with this method and clothes in the closet that never got worn.  No time to think and plan out our purchases.  Thankfully, we were not the big purchase types.  It was still the thought process of 'if we didn't have the money to back up the purchase, we didn't get it'. 

I began to see the errors of my ways after I read the article about the fabric softener in 2006.  (I posted about this in an earlier post.  Fabric softener is a petroleum by product.)  That article was so enlightening that it opened many other doors for me.  It was that single article that opened my mind to other streams of being frugal.

Is this the way you shop?  Can you find a way to alter your habits in an effort to keep your money closer to you?  Perhaps scheduling time for shopping.  Using lunch hours to go over the sale flyers for any items on your needs list.  (Keep in mind the needs vs. the wants principle.)

2. The Stroll Method

I distinctly remember one time I did this when our lives were filled with so much stress.  I didn't do it on purpose, it just happened.  I had to pick up my daughter from Girl Scouts.  I was early so I stopped at a local store to browse the sale items hoping to find a Christmas gift at a bargain price.  I was 30 minutes late picking her up.  The leader was quite upset with me.

I know I use to use this method quite a bit when I could steal some time away from personal duties.  Raising four children with two chronically ill family members could be quite daunting at times.  So I would stroll when I had the opportunity.  I didn't have much discretionary spending money, but I could always find something we 'needed'.  I have since altered my thoughts on what the word 'need' means.  Today need items are only those things I need to survive.  I'm not saying I don't purchase items I want.  I'm only saying I am now aware of the difference between a need and a want.  Awareness is key to an educated buying decision.

For example, I need food.  Proteins, energy producing carbs, fruits and veggies.  What I don't need is asparagus out of season or a 12.00 a pound steak when 3.49 a pound hamburg will serve the same need.  I don't need 10 pair of jeans when one or two will keep me covered just as well.  I'm not saying to not buy ten pair of jeans.  I'm saying if you have a desire to get out from under the burden of debt, then ask yourself,  'Do I need this, or do I want to put this money towards debt'?  Pennies turn into dollars.  After a while the dollars turn into paid off debt.

3.  The I Got It On Sale method. 

This was my biggest and longest running shopping style.  I really thought I was being frugal when I bought that juicer at a good price.  It never occurred to me in thirty five years I used it only twice.  It took up precious space in my kitchen for years.  It was pushed back in the lower cupboard though.  I could have seeded the free grapes we grew in the yard by hand rather than spend the money on a juicer I barely used.  But, I wasn't mature enough in my thought process to see the big picture.  Now I have time and mistakes behind me to assist me in my spending habits.

I'm writing this to inform young families of the not so obvious.  I wish to help anyone who is seeking help in this area.  I wish Home Economics was still offered in school systems.  I think that's where I got my start - when I figured out what the word economics really meant when it was attached to the word home.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

DIY Natural Garden Pest Repellant

I finally found a garden pest repellant that makes sense to use.  Noreen not only gives the recipe, but also tells you why a kitchen ingredient is in it.

This Week's accomplishments

This week has been an active one.  I have been accomplishing more lately.  I think the lazy week I had a while back made me upset.  Writing a post about accomplishments encourages me to not be so lazy.  This week I:

Pickled five more jars of cucumbers.  I used some from my garden and 16 from the free ones my daughter got from a farmer at the market.

Vacuumed and Swiffered the entire downstairs.  I need to steam the hardwood floors this week.

Scrubbed down the master bathroom from floor to ceiling.

Ripened free peaches from a local farm to make jam today.

Watered the garden every evening.

Washed down the table and bird bath on the patio.

Covered the new blackberries with the cheese cloth shroud.

Cut the grass.  It needs it again, but a rain storm just passed through so I will have to wait until the grass is dry later today.

Did three loads of laundry.

Cooked bacon for BLT's and ate two sandwiches.  Yummy.

Made sauce with tomatoes from my daughter's garden.

Made noodles to go with the sauce.

Picked a very large cucumber and removed the seeds for next year's garden.

Washed and dried the seeds.

Cut up the cucumber for more pickles.  It will easily make two jars.  I have enough small ones for two more jars.  Then all of the pickle supplies will be exhausted.  I have the veggies and more brine in the refrigerator.

Talked to 2 friends and my daughter that lives up North.

What did you accomplish this week?  Comments are moderated, but welcome.

Stay safe.
The one large cucumber nearly filled a bowl to the top.  This batch will be cut in chunks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Take care of the Pennies and the Dollars Take Care of Themselves (Simple Life Series) Post One

A young woman came to me yesterday very upset.  Her husband was being shifted to another site in his job which means she won't be able to work her night shifts. 

I've been trying to think of a way to help her.  I thought if she is having trouble with the changing environment perhaps other young people are as well.  I thought that everyone has been reached during these last few years of economic upheaval, but I may not be on the right track.

In hope to reach young people I'd like to do a series on budgeting and tightening up the household money flow.  Some of these things you may do, others may be new to you.  Either way I'll write about them in an effort to reach those who are not aware.

The first area that you can look at is grocery shopping.  We all know about coupons and sales.  Stockpiling supplies has also been discussed through the media in detail, so most people know about that.  I have a friend who is a wiz at setting up scenarios  to save big money on her groceries.  I mean big money.  She was laid off and focused on making money in other ways.  Looking at the whole set up in an opposite light.  Not concentrating on what she brought in in terms of cash, but what she keeps in. ( She has not been able to find a job. in over two years.)   Last time she told me her savings (she keeps records) it was well over $11000 for the year.  That was just on groceries and house hold items.
Needless to say, I look up to her.  Not only for her efforts, but her research and pulling together the scenarios.  I'll cover more of this in a later post.

Today I'd like to talk about waste. Ask yourself this:  When you go to the grocery do you purchase more than you use?  Are you always throwing out food because there's more in the refrigerator than your family could eat before shopping again.  This may seem simple, but I found out about six years ago that I was buying more of an item than we could eat before it went bad.  I could have kicked myself for going through all those years without seeing my error.  How much money did I throw out in a year? 

I think in terms of annual savings, rather than day to day.  As an example,  Peaches are .50 cents each.  They look good so I buy 4 for the week.  We eat 2 and 2 waste.  For that week I wasted $1.00.  If I did that every week I would throw out $52.00 a year.  On just one item.  Put that together with other foods gone bad and you would be shocked at the amount of money that was wasted in a year's time.  That money could be going to paying off debt.

Household cleaners are another area where we bleed money.  I don't even know how much they cost anymore, but for ease of explanation let's choose $3.00 an item.  I don't think I'm far off.  Most likely under the cost of some items.  I'll choose three items that most households use.

Toilet bowl cleaner, $3.00
Kitchen surface cleaner, $3.00
Kitchen trash bags, $3.00

Toilets are cleaned once a week, or more.  Most homes have three toilets so the cleaner may last about a month.  In a year the cost is $36.00.   This amount appears to be minimal, and on it's own, it is.  I use a few drops of bleach, let it sit a few minutes, and brush the bowl.  Cost is minimal.  Around $1.00 a year.  Savings: $35.00.  Add that to the $52.00 in wasted peaches and you now have $88.00 wasted.

Kitchen surfaces are cleaned every day, at least once.  This item is purchased twice a month.  The yearly cost is $72.00.  I make orange cleaner out of citrus peels (I keep them in the freezer until I have enough.) and white vinegar. (recipe below)  A gallon of vinegar in my area is $2.89.  I use one cup of that.  There are sixteen cups in a gallon.  The vinegar cost is 14.12 cents a cup.  Let's say it gets used up in the same two weeks.  The cost is 3.20 annually.  A savings of  $68.80.  Added to the previous savings the annual savings is now $156.80.

Most kitchen trash cans hold the thirteen gallon size bags.  I'll go with the $3.00 price for a box of 10. (I'm not sure about the amount that comes in a small box.)  Most people throw out the trash every day, whether it's full or not.  So in ten days you've spent 3.00.  That's thirty six boxes a year which brings the total cost to $108.00 plus tax  annually.  I use grocery bags in the smaller can I have for the kitchen.  I pitch the trash every day with no cash leaving my pocket. The savings of $108.00 added to the above total comes to $264.80 annually.  With just four (of the many items a household uses)  the savings adds up to a car payment or a credit card payment.

The challenge today is:  Take time to check into your use habits.  Can store bough items be dropped for a few minutes of time invested? 

Other ways to save:

1.Use dryer balls or vinegar in the rinse cycle in place of dryer sheets or softener.

2. Have a candle light dinner once a week.

3.  Learn how to sew buttons on a shirt or skirt or pants.

4.  Reduce meal portions by one tablespoon per person.  You may have enough left over for a lunch the next day.

5.  Reuse glass jars from olives and sauce (and other items) to freeze single portion soups in.  This provides a quick dinner or lunch for each or your family members.  Just remember not to fill the jar to the top because the food will expand when frozen.

Does all of the research take time?  How about making the citrus cleaner?  Yes.  But, there's an old saying; Take care of the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves.

What frugal things do you do or know about?  It would be so helpful for all of us if we shared our experiences in the comment section.  I have an average of eighty readers a day.  That's quite a nice community that can help each other.  Good luck on your new adventure.

Citrus Cleaner

Fill a glass jar with citrus peel.  Add enough vinegar to cover the peels.  Put the lid on and set in a cool dark place for two weeks. (I use a cupboard)  Transfer to a large spray bottle (The $ store has them) and add an equal amount of water.

Dryer Balls

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Simple Life, Peace of Heart, and Economics

I have been simplifying life since I first read about fabric softener being a by product of petroleum.  That was in 2006.  That simple article led me down a path I knew I would be comfortable in.  I dragged my husband - sometimes kicking and screaming - down the path with me.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the simple life in the past.  We lived in the country when our eldest was born.  That's when I learned how to can and budget and cook from what appeared to be nothing.  But, when my husband got a great job, we packed up and moved thinking we were advancing in our economic life.  What a mistake that was.  We lived on that premise for years until illness took over our lives and I was thankful that blackberries grew on our land.  I stopped spending money on paper towels and anything fancy dancey.  I was on the path at that time, I just wasn't aware of it.  I was so busy being a care giver, I only fell into bed at night thanking God for another day with my family.

One thing I should clear up is I have always been frugal and kept a balanced budget.  So I think I had a good head start, without realizing it.

Realization set in when I read the fabric softener article.  Then the long road of a simple life style began.  Simple, meaning I had to look at every aspect of life.  Every detail of every move we made each day.  But, one thing I'm confident about is when I make up my mind, I just do it.  Simple was different from frugal.  Simple included thinking about what I thought I needed.  Did I need two closets of clothes?  Even though all of them were bought on sale.  Did I need kitchen appliances I used once or twice a year cluttering up my cupboards?  I didn't think so.

 In 2007 I relieved my cupboards of all things unneeded.  Since I was in a forced retirement, I took a lot of nice work clothes to a thrift shop.  That's when another light bulb went off.  If I take my nice clothes to the thrift shop, others must too.  And, this  began my thrift shop adventures for my clothes.  I needed casual clothes, not too many though.  My first find was a pair of Loft jeans.  I was hooked!  To this day I refuse to cram my closet with clothes that may never see the light of day.  Yet, I'm more content now than when I was making quite a bit of money on a government contract and had multiple choices in my closets.  I'm content because I have traveled down the simple life road.

The two words, content and simple, when put together have great meaning.  Together they make the words 'peace of heart'

Stay safe.

Monday, July 21, 2014

An Italian Feast or Eat, Angie, Eat

Tomorrow will be another busy day.  My daughter received some pickling cucumbers from a friend.  Twenty five of them, so enough for a six jar batch of pickles.  I first thought I would get the spices I needed to make bread and butter pickles.  But, I have enough of the veggies needed for dills left over from last week's batch.  So dill it is.

Today I spent time in the kitchen making home made tomato sauce.  The tomatoes came from my daughter's garden, with only one bag left over from my last year's harvest.  The garlic came from my garden and the cheese (sheep's cheese) came in the mail as a gift from a friend.  I have to say it is so delicious.  I soaked a piece of Italian bread in the sauce to test it.  The best.  Thank you, Gramma D for the old world recipe.

The tomatoes were wizzed in the processor, skins and all.  The veggies and sausage was added along with spices.

Here it is, almost completely cooked.  Tomorrow I will make meatballs and add them to the sauce.  Whenever all of the family members are available, we'll munch down on a fine meal.  I think adding  green beans, cucumbers, and tomato salad from the garden and a loaf of home made bread will round out the feast.