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chrissieq
12-10-14, 10:33pm
Really, it's the 10th of December and no thread!!!

I set aside some $$ for Christmas spending in November and set my budget to meet that amount of $$ - will probably come in under the budget.

Not to be too tacky - but of my 6 sisters, when I have sent/delivered gifts, I have only once received a true thank you and appreciation of the gift. In reality we all have what we need and given our age, are only weeding things out.

The niece and nephews and the grand-nephew and grand-niece will get a book and some $$ (for the older ones).

Made a menu plan for the holidays and buying groceries for that plan. Then no last minute, "I don't know. What do you want for dinner?'. All plans allow for brunch/lunch within the next day or two.

lessisbest
12-11-14, 8:39am
Menards advertised Scott TP on sale for $5.77 (8 pk /1,000 sheets per roll) in their flyer, and in-store it was marked $4.99. Woo Hoo!

cdttmm
12-11-14, 8:56am
Thanks, chrissieq for starting the thread! I keep meaning to, but haven't had any frugals worth writing about until now!

So here goes... Even though I've been to Minnesota three times already this year, I really wanted to go home for a holiday visit as well. My younger brother eloped over the summer and I have spent very little time with my new SIL so didn't want to miss the first family Christmas with her there. I've been watching the prices of plane tickets for weeks and yesterday morning the price dropped $120 enabling me to buy the cheapest plane ticket for my holiday travel in more than 5 years. Score!

Gift-giving is a very simple affair in my family...finally. I bought a book on gardening for honeybees for my mom when I was at a beekeeping conference a few weeks ago. Everyone else will get honey from our bees. That's it. My in-laws don't like to keep it simple even though they should (for financial reasons, if nothing else!). They will insist on giving us something so we requested iTunes gift cards, which is the same thing we've requested three years running.

Seven
12-11-14, 9:26am
Everyone in my family just wants chocolate from our local chocolate makers. So I don't have to worry much about buying presents.
Without the need to buy lots of presents, I think December is quite easy for frugality. All the shops are crowded and play loud christmas music - I dislike crowded noisy places, so I feel no desire to go shopping.

kimberlyf0
12-11-14, 1:17pm
I have strayed somewhat from extreme frugality. It's amazing how much tracking and blogging does to keep me where I should be; when that falls off the spending goes up.

I'm baking bread today, planning leftovers for lunch, and grinding corn for our cornmeal mush breakfasts. I found some brown rice that we weren't eating (it's medium grain and the family prefers basmati), so I decided to add that to the corn in a 3:1 ratio. I think it will taste fine and that no one will really notice.

I knitting away, working on simple Christmas gifts. I decided that we would downsize Christmas once again and am planning a $100 Holiday for the first time (although we may go with $150 - the book was written 16 years ago and this year at least I still need gifts for the extended family). My boys received new bikes last month, so there is no reason for them not to be on board. Everything we give will be homemade, local, consumable, or experiential, and even with a $150 budget it will be extremely frugal. The tree is the big question; our artificial tree died after 13 years and while we bought a fresh tree last year, that was $100 after tax, so we aren't doing that again.

ToomuchStuff
12-11-14, 3:37pm
December is not a frugal month, IMHE. Stessfull too (I hate this time of year, too many bad memories). So this year I decided to change things.
I tried a couple years back to do one thing, but the governenment offices are closed on Black Friday, so the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I paid my personal and real property taxes.
I had also done some running for work and turned in a bunch of receipts and put that money aside, along with $30 to finish all the Christmas money minus two presents.
That left for this month, Insurance (mailing), a CC bill (online purchases, mostly for a project I had money set aside for and was waiting until sales and one thing I needed parts for), and the utility bills, as well as a roll of wrapping paper to two (anyone know where is the cheapest).
Next month will come the bill for my dad and mom's big Xmas gift, that the siblings are going in with me on. (I expect if I get Christmas money as usual from work, I am putting it towards that).

Been checking the IRS site for tax forms yet, but used last to guestimate what I will get back (rather get back then owe, not a lot but I put it in the property tax account), I wish there was a way that, that, zero'd out (didn't owe, didn't get back).

Not really frugal, but less stressful.

Lainey
12-12-14, 12:16am
I'll share a frugal gift idea. It was for several friends/former co-workers. We only see each 3-4x/year, but we've made it a simple holiday tradition to meet up for Happy hour in December and trade a little gift like a bottle of lotion. This year I bought a package of small gift bags at the dollar store and filled each one with a tiny candy cane and a can of black-eyed peas.
I passed them out and explained to most who didn't know that if you eat black-eyed peas on New Years Day you'll have good luck throughout the year. They were tickled at that and thought it was fun. So each of my gifts cost ~ $1 and everyone enjoyed the idea.

rosarugosa
12-12-14, 2:11pm
I can't believe we got to the 10th without a Frugals thread! Thanks for getting us on track Chrissie!
Seven: Is your local chocolate shop well-known? I think that's a great plan. A few years ago, one of the jewelry chains had a Valentine's Day ad on the radio saying how women would much rather have jewelry than chocolate for a gift. Every time I heard it, I thought "speak for yourself!" :)
I just dropped a few sweaters off at the local consignment shop. I've never consigned anything before, but I thought it would be worth a try. Then I went to the library and found two books on my wish list, and a librarian explained the inter-library loaning system to me, so I have two more books from my list on the way. This system vastly expands my borrowing options. I walked both places, so bonus points!
The shopping bag I used to bring my sweaters to the store had a receipt at the bottom from a candy store in Maine from Feb for $92.84. I was clearly not in a frugal mood that day! Did I mention that I love chocolate? >8)

kimberlyf0
12-12-14, 6:02pm
The cornmeal/rice mush experiment worked; I noticed that the porridge didn't have as much corn flavor, but no one commented, and the texture was the same. I think I'll add a little salt next time.

I haven't done a proper grocery shop since before Thanksgiving, but we're still cobbling together decent meals (although we ate the last of the cabbage today).

I taught the older teen to make popcorn; now he has a cheap snack that he can make daily, which will save money. He previously would choose fruit for almost every snack, eating 8+ pieces of fruit daily. It's great for him, but he doesn't need quite that much.

bekkilyn
12-12-14, 8:17pm
I think the thing I'm most excited about this month is the bidet bottle that I decided to try. It came earlier this week and I've been using it since then and it's been *wonderful*! My tp costs are going to go down drastically because of this little blue miracle!

Teacher Terry
12-12-14, 9:44pm
WE used to give presents to many friends & family members. About 6 years ago when the economy was bad we decided with all our friends that we would just get together for a meal in Dec at someone's house & not exchange gifts. The other thing we have done is the white elephant exchange which does not cost anything. I just give gifts to a few family members now-unfortunately many were very old & have died. I give my kids $ which they like & i buy a couple of little things for them like fancy coffee, etc. So I don't even need a xmas budget now-we don't spend enough. My hubby & I usually go to movies & nice dinner in late Dec so that is our gift to one another.

frugal-one
12-12-14, 10:03pm
Went to a local thrift store and found a brand new cast iron tea pot and 2 cups.. still in the box, retail $60... for $10 (after coupon). My son mentioned at Thanksgiving that he would like a cast iron teapot. I am thrilled!

http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/japanese-kafuh-cast-iron-tea-pot-teapot-tea

cdttmm
12-14-14, 12:03pm
I always buy my students Dunkin' Donuts on the last day of class. I used up a gift card that I had -- it didn't cover the full cost, but at least made a bit of a difference. I saved the receipts and will go online to complete the customer service survey, which will get me a coupon for a free donut when I next purchase a DD beverage. I rarely buy anything at DD, but my dearly beloved sometimes gets coffee there so I'll give the coupon to him.

Made homemade mac-and-cheese last night for dinner. We had everything on hand and didn't really feel like making anything complicated for dinner. So I got to use up one more pound of pasta -- hooray! I'm now down to only 14 pounds in the pantry. :D

Started a loaf of homemade bread in the breadmaker using a blend of regular white flour and a cup of wheat germ from the package that's been hanging out in the pantry. Set my dearly beloved to grinding the six pounds of wheat berries that we had on hand into flour. Figured we might as well use them up! We've got barley to grind as well -- not sure what I'm going to do with barley flour. Oh, and I discovered two packages of something called "Bread Dough Enhancer" in the pantry. It's one of those ridiculous Williams Sonoma items that we clearly received as a gift at some point. Turns out they are just a fancy package of vital wheat gluten. We usually use vital wheat gluten when making bread in the breadmaker, but we are almost out. Looks like I won't need to buy any for several months, though, because I just use the fancy "Bread Dough Enhancer" instead!

Made a batch of vegan chocolate macaroons yesterday for a treat. Very easy to make and we had everything on hand so making them (and eating them!) just means that I am further cleaning out the pantry. Been eating quinoa for breakfast as of late, too, since I had 5 pounds of the stuff in the pantry. It's going to take a few more months before that's all gone, though! Good thing I like quinoa. :~)

I don't know why my frugals are always food related. Probably because it's the biggest (and most obvious) leak to plug around here.

How's everyone else doing this month?

early morning
12-14-14, 1:19pm
Wow, frugal-one, what a deal on the teapot! I've been trying to recoup some extra money we gave DS this fall, so while I'm not spending more than usual during this holiday season, I'm also not getting caught up very quickly! We've been to three holiday events, two of which were fund-raisers for causes/places we want to support, but still money spent. One was free but was a long way from home and involved a winery visit and the purchase of several bottles of lovely stuff. We bought our usual big, quasi-expensive tree, but we plan for that and enjoy the heck out of it. I visited IKEA to get a few things I needed - and I was looking especially for containers that will fit a particular storage area. They didn't have anything I could use, and I just remembered this morning a stack of wire freezer baskets that I was aging out in a flower bed. Three of them will work just fine, and I have plenty of sacking to make liners for them. So while I will not have them to sell now, it's still way cheaper than buying anything (they were 5 for a dollar at at yard sale) and will be quite in keeping with the rest of my eclectic crap. And I can always sell them later if I find something better! YAY for shopping at home, lol.

chrissieq
12-14-14, 10:38pm
We have two adult kids for whom we have always filled stockings - and spent more than it seemed you should on stocking stuffers! This year with the addition of a new daughter-in-law (and no hand made stocking for her), we decided to do "grab bags" and all the items are from around the house - new in packaging - things you received in the mail, at a conference, wherever. DH works for a University and part of his job is to empty spaces about to be rehabbed and he finds great things in desk drawers (desks that are being replaced and staff has been told to empty them) - lots of new in package pens, markers, pads of paper, etc - so his job for the next 8 working days is to find as much as he can to be added to the grab bags and that will be the extent of that. Saving them from landfills and if the "kids" decide they don't want them, it will go into our donation box for pick up after the holidays.

cdttmm
12-17-14, 11:07am
Trying to stay frugal by eating up what we have in the house. Over the past few days finished off some egg salad and used up some pasta and pasta sauce that were in the pantry. Still eating my way through my huge stockpile of pasta, but I believe I'm down to 12 pounds at this point. I used some hot chocolate "pearls" to make hot chocolate this morning. I'm hoping to finish off the package, which was a Christmas gift from 2 years ago, tomorrow or Friday. I swear things multiple in the pantry when I'm not looking.

Been keeping the heat set to 58 degrees pretty successfully. I was tempted to turn it up to 60 degrees when I got home from work yesterday, but instead put on a hat and curled up under a blanket with a cat on my lap. Worked out just fine.

bekkilyn
12-17-14, 12:02pm
I wish I could do the "turn the heat down to 60" and just wear a hat and jacket to keep warm sort of thing. I have an extremely low tolerance for cold and get chilled to the bone even with blankets and such, and I can only keep drinking so much tea/hot chocolate. I'd need a pile of cats sitting all over me, though to them it would likely resemble sitting on an ice cube. :)

One big way I've been frugal this month is by ignoring the video game sales at places like Steam and GoG. I already have a huge backlog of games, but I'd see a game from my wishlist for only $2 and then figure I should go ahead and get it while it's on sale. Now that might be a good thing if I actually ended up playing the game, but due to having so many games (and not spending a huge amount of time playing games), I would rarely get around to playing the game, so it would join the other games in my backlog queue. I decided a few months ago that it would be more frugal to buy a game at a time when I was actually going to play it, even if I paid full price, then to keep buying games on sale and then never play any of them. So despite all the huge video game sales going on this month, I have resisted them all!

Aqua Blue
12-17-14, 2:11pm
bekkilyn, I am thinking I should use that same strategy for food. I think, oh that is a good sale...and then it never gets eaten.

I too, I think because of my autoimmune disease can't go that low. I do keep my thermometer at 65 and wear a sweater, but sometimes I need to increase it a little more. I think being frugal is about decreasing the things that don't matter to you so you can increase the things that do matter.

This month has not been overly frugal, altho I am still under budget for the month, but we are only 1/2 thru. Ouch. January will be better, January will be better that is my new mantra. Lol

frugal-one
12-17-14, 3:17pm
I have been overly cold this winter too. I have taken to sitting on a heating pad or putting it on my lap to keep warm instead of turning up the heat. Not sure if that is "good" for me... but it beats being SO COLD!

bekkilyn
12-17-14, 3:49pm
I bought some pink slippers this past summer that are filled with some sort of wheat or seed and you heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds and then they will keep the heat for a pretty long time while warming up the big blocks of ice attached to the ends of one's legs. Sometimes I've even had to take a hot shower to get warm again because nothing else is working unless I want to turn my heat up to 80...which I don't! (Well I do, but I don't want the bill that comes with it!)

I agree with Aqua Blue though about decreasing the things that don't matter in order to increase the things that do. I don't think being frugal is about sacrificing and living with less of everything, but more of a way of managing priorities for a better overall quality of life.

HappyHiker
12-17-14, 4:18pm
Here's my frugal gift to you -- a rap ode on frugality. Excuse my bad poetry...

Middle-Age Frugal Threads Rap

I dress hip, You'd say I've got style,
My fashion statement? To be cool, look hot.
Don't need to charge, nor pay a pile
Screw the boutiques, why pay a lot?
Top brands? Love 'em. Not in denial
Love me some thrift store. Give it a shot!

lessisbest
12-17-14, 5:08pm
HappyHiker- Thanks for sharing your poetry, that was really cute. Love "Screw the boutiques" part.

December is a NO shopping month for me (I only shop every other month other than groceries and toiletries), and I hope everyone clears out their "stuff" for end of the year tax deductable donations to our local thrift stores so I can find a few exciting "new" things in January.

cdttmm
12-17-14, 6:39pm
Love the poetry, HappyHiker!

I can only do the low thermostat setting after years of practice. I used to get so cold, but every year I would challenge myself to get acclimated to lower and lower temps. I have quite the system down now and it works pretty well. I dress in layers from the moment I get up and always have on socks and slippers and a hat. I used to think that I looked goofy, but now dressing this way just makes me feel cozy. Plus it means that when I have to go out to load the wood boiler or to run an errand, I don't have to bundle up the way I used to. We have lap blankets and I use one whenever I'm sitting still. Plus we have three cats, two of whom are quite the lap cats so that helps! And we have these discs that you can heat up in the microwave that then stay warm for about 10-12 hours. They are made for pets so they are very safe. I've totally co-opted them and use them in my lap whenever I feel chilled. The cats, of course, then just want to sleep in my lap that much more often! And I use one at night to keep my feet warm in bed. I also drink copious amounts of tea. I make a 4-cup pot of green tea in the morning and drink it until it's gone. Then make a pot of herbal tea in the evening. And, if necessary, I drink hot chocolate at some point in between!

We have a big house (very un-simple living) so being able to keep the thermostat set low makes a huge difference for us. But it's definitely not for the faint of heart!

bekkilyn
12-17-14, 7:31pm
I did bump my temperature down a bit lower for this year, so maybe eventually I can become more acclimatized. :)

What are these discs that can heat up in the microwave? They sound like something I might want to investigate!

cdttmm
12-17-14, 9:20pm
bekkilyn, they are called Snuggle Safe and you can buy them online at Amazon (or lots of other places). Here's a link so that you can check them out.

http://www.amazon.com/Snuggle-Safe-Pet-Microwave-Heating/dp/B00008AJH9

bekkilyn
12-17-14, 9:47pm
Thank you! I have added Snuggle Safe to my Amazon wish list! :)

Seven
12-18-14, 9:03am
I think being frugal is about decreasing the things that don't matter to you so you can increase the things that do matter.

I agree. Feeling comfortable in my home is important to me - wearing two sweaters is okay, but if that still feels cold, then it is too cold.

lessisbest
12-18-14, 9:50am
Years ago I knit myself a shawl with soft wool yarn. It has a single button closure in front so my arms are free, and I have two large pockets at the ends I can warm my hands in. If I can keep my shoulders and neck warm, wear wool socks, I can withstand cold temperatures in the house. I've knit shawls for my daughter and granddaughter and they use them all the time too.

cdttmm
12-18-14, 6:20pm
We had a retreat at work this afternoon and lunch was provided so I saved the leftovers that I would have eaten for lunch to have for dinner tonight. I'm down to only a few teabags of my beloved mint green tea. I'll order more since they are currently on sale, but I'll run out before the new supply gets here. It will mean that for a few days I'll be forced to drink up some tea from my stash. The stash has been dwindling over time, but there is still a stash... I'm planning to make molasses snickerdoodles this weekend to use up some molasses that we have in the pantry. A bit of a bonus since last weekend my dearly beloved mentioned that he would welcome home-baked cookies. I gathered up all the sample sized shampoos that have been collecting in various places and put them in the shower. Going to try to get them all used up over the next few weeks. I feel like I need to get stricter with the "1 in, 1 out" policy around here. Sure we could use a good full-on decluttering, but I don't see that happening anytime soon, so if I can just keep the clutter from expanding that would be a plus!

I went to the post office today and sent off a flat-rate box of small Christmas gifts for the family gathering next week. It was cheaper than paying for a piece of checked luggage when I fly home next week. Score!

Selah
12-20-14, 4:27pm
Here's the strangest "passive frugality" situation I've ever experienced. Last month, DH and I moved into an apartment complex. Our unit is smack dab in the middle of a three-storey block, with neighbors on both sides and top and down. The passive heat that they generate by running their heating units actually heats up our unit so much that we often have to sleep with a window cracked open, at the height of the winter! We are spending far less on electricity than we budgeted for, since we almost never have to turn the heat on. In fact, it gets colder during the day, when everyone else leaves for work and turns the heat off, but fortunately our home office faces the sun so we get some passive heating that way. Score!

Another odd thing happened this week. I went to the Goodwill store that is right next to our apartment complex (whee!), asking if I could volunteer to teach ESL classes. There, I found out that I was eligible to take free computer classes (Word, Excel, Outlook) and get literally hundreds of dollars of dental care for about $10. (DH works 20 hours a week and I work about 30 hours, so with our Israeli wages--we took our jobs from with Israel with us as telecommuters--we are still eligible for some subsidies. However, since I'm always mistrustful of any notion of "job security," I want to beef up my computer skills to become "office ready" if I need to start temping in a hurry.) Not only that, but during the required interview about my job history and skills, the ESL teacher there said, "oh, well, if you want to teach ESL here, we'll give you a job doing that...you don't have to volunteer!" So with just a few visits, filling out some forms, taking a reading test, and doing an interview, I may have landed not only hundreds of dollars worth of free education and dental care, but a possible new job as well, right next to my home! Who woulda thunk it, eh?

cdttmm
12-22-14, 8:57am
Selah, those are some great frugals! Way to go and thanks for sharing!

Not much happening over here, but felt like I needed to post in an effort to keep me on track. Baked bread yesterday and double chocolate banana bread plus made homemade mac-and-cheese for lunch. Gotta keep using up the pasta stockpile!!! Pretty quiet and uneventful this weekend. No rushing out to the stores for Christmas shopping. We pretty much just took the opportunity to stay home and relax since this week will be pretty crazy. I find our house to be plenty warm with the heat set at 58 degrees, but apparently my dearly beloved has not adapted to the cold quite as well as I have (or he just refuses to wear socks...argh!) so every now and then I catch him trying to turn the heat up to 60 degrees. Of course, I just turn it back down a few minutes later. :~) Our new cat, Pincushion, has taken a liking to him so I'm hoping he'll soon have a permanent little lap warmer and will stop trying to turn up the heat.

I'm returning an article of clothing that I ordered last week. Just didn't meet my standards and although it will cost me $5 in shipping to do the return, there is nothing I want to exchange it for so I might as well just eat the $5 and get it out of my house. Of course, we also got gifts from a dear friend that are not quite to our liking so I'm going to exchange those -- fortunately, there are some good options for exchange. I used to just donate gifts that I didn't want, but if it's possible to exchange them I figure why not? I received a gift from a student that I'm donating...it's just not my taste and there's no possibility to return or exchange it. So off to the thrift store it goes!

In other frugal news...I sold 15 pounds of honey last week. $210 to the bank account. Of course, this really just makes my beekeeping hobby affordable. I'm not to the scale where I could actually make this profitable just yet. Maybe next year... :D

kimberlyf0
12-22-14, 1:17pm
I ordered an American Giant hoodie jacket because I am trying to move all my clothing acquisition to used, handmade, made in USA, and/or fair trade. I didn't love it, but wasn't finding what I wanted at the thrifts. Well, I went out to get my winter jacket form the garage and found a grey zip up hoodie that I thought I had donated; it's a little big but it will work. I also found out that a grey hoodie sweater that I thought was too small for me fits fine. So the AG hoodie is being sent back (free returns).

We were at a huge regional mall yesterday to see a concert; afterward we walked to see the holiday tree but didn't go into any stores or restaurants.

We decided to take the family (8 of us) to a vegan Chinese restaurant for Christmas Eve vs. preparing a meal. It doesn't feel frugal, but when I think of how much money I spent on groceries to make Thanksgiving dinner I have a feeling we'll come out even. The only food I plan to put out at the house is local navel oranges which we pay about 35 per pound for, and perhaps popcorn for an afternoon snack. We have plenty of tea for beverages. For Thanksgiving we put out two kinds of nuts plus two kinds of olives, and spent $25 just on those appetizers, plus we bought sparkling cider which was another $15. The Chinese restaurant is supposed to running their lunch specials on Christmas Eve; I hope they don't change their minds! I really love that they serve the lunch specials family style. The main impetus for this is to reduce stress as we've had illness at our house.

I went outside of my Amazon comfort zone and found the gear bags the guys need for biking for $5 less per bag plus free shipping with delivery by 12/24; Amazon wanted $8.99 per bag to get them here by then. These weren't planned as holiday gifts because they need them for races, but arriving on Christmas Eve will make them seem like they are ;) The guys weren't expecting us to buy them for another month but I realized that the holiday sales and free shipping deals will be gone in late January, so they will be a nice surprise.

cdttmm
12-23-14, 8:40am
Ate the last of the double-chocolate banana bread for breakfast. Those bananas (and all that chocolate!) did not go to waste. Yum, yum!!!

Drinking a pot of black tea because I'm out of my usual green tea. I am not a huge fan of black tea and the caffeine kick, compared to drinking green, is intense (guess that's what happens when you limit caffeine and then drink an entire pot of black tea in the morning!). I'm just glad to be using the stuff up and clearing the random stuff out of the pantry.

Discovered another Christmas gift from a friend that can be exchanged for something more to my liking. Turns out it's quite an expensive gift, too. I'm grateful, but always wonder if people realize that we choose not to reciprocate in the gift exchange. I guess some people are just more into gift-giving than others...

Today is the last day of work in 2014, then I'm off until January 2nd. I wish I could just hang out at home the entire time, alas, have to visit the family and in-laws. Could be worse. Each of the visits will be relatively brief and pretty low-key. There's minimal gift-giving on our part so I wrapped the two gifts for our nephews last night. I'm still using Christmas gift wrap that we bought about 10 years ago. Some days I think I should just put our entire collection of gift wrapping supplies on Freecycle and get it out of the house since we use stuff from the stash so infrequently.

kimberlyf0
12-23-14, 12:33pm
I finished the logic of our Christmas meal dilemma and now we are cooking a simple lunch for everyone rather than going to a restaurant. The restaurant was in response to it being hard to make a vegan brunch ahead of time (to reduce my stress), but once we chose the restaurant we were moving the meal to early lunch anyway. I asked DH if he would be fine with me making a smoked tempeh chili and he said yes. It's non-traditional, but we didn't get vegan tamales ordered and I don't want to do the work to make them today. I'll make a cabbage salad and cornbread to go with the chili, and pumpkin pies for dessert. I did have to spend on the ingredients for the chili (tempeh is more expensive than meat), but it will cost less than taking people out.

Tangerines were still $1/lb. so I bought 6 more pounds last night. That will probably be it as navel oranges are much cheaper. The boys do love their tangerines in late December though.

lessisbest
12-23-14, 2:52pm
Drinking a pot of black tea because I'm out of my usual green tea. I am not a huge fan of black tea and the caffeine kick, compared to drinking green, is intense (guess that's what happens when you limit caffeine and then drink an entire pot of black tea in the morning!).


TEA TIP: If you steep the black tea in enough hot water to cover the tea/tea bag for 30-seconds and dump off that water, a large amount of the caffeine will be steeped out of the tea at that point. Add the full amount of water to the cup/pot and let it steep 2-minutes more. Remove the bag, add milk and wait approximately 6-minutes, or until the tea is 140F (60C) for the perfect cup of black tea.

lessisbest
12-28-14, 10:25am
We purchased a number of gift cards for restaurants this month as gifts and stocking stuffers from our grocery store and received double fuel points. We had a lot more fuel points than normal because of the extra purchases and when we got gas Monday we saved 80-cents per gallon. We also fill both cars at once from the same pump because we can use up to 35-gallons at one visit, which our cars won't hold even if both tanks are empty.

cdttmm
12-30-14, 1:01pm
TEA TIP: If you steep the black tea in enough hot water to cover the tea/tea bag for 30-seconds and dump off that water, a large amount of the caffeine will be steeped out of the tea at that point. Add the full amount of water to the cup/pot and let it steep 2-minutes more. Remove the bag, add milk and wait approximately 6-minutes, or until the tea is 140F (60C) for the perfect cup of black tea.

Thank you, lessisbest. I actually know this trick, but it never occurred to me to put it into action since I never drink black tea. Fortunately, I have learned to take full advantage of my caffeine boost -- I've gotten all kinds of stuff done that I had been putting off!!! :D

Trying to extract some end-of-the-month frugals over here. We baked bread the other day and made a huge batch of Spanish rice. Today I'm making a vat of lentil soup that should provide us with a number of tasty meals for a few months. I also have the ingredients to make a vat of cabbage soup. And I've got a crockpot full of black beans cooking right now, too. Wow -- lots of food frugals this week!!!

In an attempt to trim a few dollars (over the entire year) off the price of the decaf green tea that my dearly beloved drinks, I discovered that he's actually not tied to the brand we've been buying (Republic of Tea). Well, that stuff is expensive compared to something like Celestial Seasonings so we're going to try that instead and see if he finds it equally drinkable. It's not a huge amount of money, but why not optimize where you can?

My goal is to be more careful with our grocery spending this year. So I'm going to start saving all of our receipts and making a price-book and generally just being more mindful about our grocery shopping escapades.

Not much else to report. Just trying to relax and recover from the holiday craziness. :~)

kimberlyf0
12-30-14, 2:22pm
I'm planning to be very mindful of the grocery budget in 2015 as well; I cut things down quickly earlier this year by shifting to more non-organics, but as we evaluate our position on the human and environmental aspects of farming we find that we want to spend more to support farming that doesn't expose workers to toxic chemicals and pass the damage on down the generations. It will always be a dance, of course, since we also don't want to buy foreign produce. Still, I want to be very careful in managing our grocery dollars. Already I am phasing things out that the boys thought were necessary, such as black olives on tacos.

This week has been frugal in part because we are staying out of stores. I did order new hiking shoes; the pair that works for me is a funny purple color, which I don't love but which is also $35 less than the same model in a more neutral color. I used Amazon with free return shipping to try a couple different brands/models and sizes.

The boys had a friend over at supper time last night; I almost panicked thinking that our usual supper of sandwiches wouldn't be enough to serve and considered getting take out, but clear thinking prevailed and the boys happily ate PB&J sandwiches and chips.

I started a decluttering challenge yesterday and found over 100 items in my bedroom to give away or toss (mostly clothes and accessories). Keeping things decluttered goes a long way toward making me feel that our current home is more than enough for our needs. I set aside several items that I can gift to others, as well.

I didn't achieve the goal a $100 Christmas this year (and suspect that I never will), but we scaled back significantly. Other than bike gear bags, which we would have bought anyway, and tickets to a concert that were a combo birthday/Christmas gift for FIL, BIL, and SIL, we spent under $300 including a tree and some new lights. Thank included $20 to buy 5 copies of the the Hundred Dollar Holiday book for family members. I didn't count the cost of supplies to make things as I've had the stash for years, and I didn't count the cost of any gifts that were items we already owned. This is the first year that DH and I chose to not buy each other material gifts and it felt wonderful!

Azure
12-30-14, 11:52pm
So after a not so frugal year, I am trying to become a grown up, responsible person. Hah! We'll see how that goes lol And I am back to the forums :D

My frugal today is not going to Kohl's to use the $5 coupon that expires tomorrow.

I meal planned, and we've cooked at home for 6 days now. I know that doesn't sound like much, but it is definitely an improvement over the last couple of months. I survived the annual holiday madness at the big red bullseye more or less intact. Though I am still trying to catch up on my sleep from last week. But all the odd hours made me disenclined to cook much. Or meal plan. Or most anything useful :|( I really need to get back into some good habits.

I have the thermostat programmed to 60 during the day on week days. Usually no one is home at that time. With the boys home over the break the heat, lights, and everything else lol has been going 24 hours a day. College kids must be nocturnal critters. So when they go back to school next week, I think I will set it down to 58 during the daytime. I want to see if I can get the usage down from last years.

SteveinMN
12-31-14, 6:04pm
Haven't posted because it's been anything but a frugal month here. Some of that was a splurge brought on by new income (pension distribution started early) and even that probably didn't add up to much more than a hundred dollars. We did not go crazy on Christmas presents (or birthday parties and presents; there are five birthdays in our family this month excluding Baby Jesus). And there still were the no-drive days, no-spend days, musgovian meals, etc.

I suppose "non-frugal" is a relative thing. Relative to gifts given and money spent by friends on family celebrations and all, we still seem pretty parsimonious.

I'm looking forward to next year. The gift-giving/partying month is over and normality returns. We're going to get a jump on it tonight with our NYE celebration. DW and I are staying home, her under her electric blanket and me under my laptop (and my mother said a computer would never keep me warm at night....). Some hors-d'ouvre-y snacks for midnight (if we can stay up that late), maybe a glass of wine if we still have one in the house, and a nice quiet night. Happy New Year, all!

danna
12-31-14, 10:36pm
Been here reading all month but, not getting around to posting....too much eating in and out and money on gifts etc.
All in all it was not a overly expensive Christmas but it could have been less.

Worked on my year end balance sheets today and some categories I overspent and some underspent but balanced out in the end.
That is a good thing!

My financial goals for 2015 are to 1. continuing doing maintenance/repairs on the house without going over budget
2. try to put away a few dollars...
3. keep reviewing all bills and expenditures

That is it....Happy New Year

Azure
12-31-14, 11:38pm
January 1st I am beginning a no-spend month. Well, a modified no-spend month. I will be buying food & gas. I am going to keep the grocery spending under control and stick to a meal plan and list. No optional spending though. If it's not a real NEED, I am not going to buy it.

I do have some exceptions: Hair appt. at the end of the month. I have a gift card which will cover all but $8 and I will need to pay for parking. For Christmas I gave my husband 6 months of dates and one of the dates is to go to the RV show in Grand Rapids. I have the tickets for the show and a Panera gift card. But I forgot how expensive Panera can be so I may have to pay a little over the GC. And there will be a parking fee. AND, the last thing is that we were given tickets to see the Blue Man Group!! We will have to pay for parking for that as well. And I am going to buy a shoebox gift item every pay period so I don't have big costs in October when I am putting the boxes together.

My spending has gotten crazy. Too many meals out. Too little menu planning and shopping lists. Giving in to too many impulses. It's hard when you work at Target and know where all the clearance items are and you have the self-control of a toddler. :|( sigh...

Wish me luck. And self-control .

and HAPPY NEW YEAR Everybody!!

rosarugosa
1-1-15, 6:29am
Happy New Year everyone!
Azure, it's good to have you back, and I wish you luck with your resolutions. I would also have a hard time resisting all the temptations in a retail environment.
Not too much frugal action to report here. I think I'm going to shift our savings from Capital One to Ally. There's an interest rate difference of .75 to .99%. It doesn't amount to much, but I would rather get a little more than a little less.
I'm thinking of a meal planning idea for 2015 that I haven't pitched to DH yet. Each night of the week would have a pre-determined meal or category. This wouldn't be set in stone, but more of a loose set of guidelines to help alleviate the daily "what's for dinner" dilemma. So for example:
Fri - homemade pizza
Sat - seafood dinner of some sort (could even be capellini and anchovies if we're feeling extra frugal)
Sun - entree salad (I think I could get DH on-board for this as a regular once a week thing, as long as I promised to restrict it to once). I prep lettuce and make salads for work lunches on Sun, so it would be easy to add this to my routine)
Mon - sandwiches or wraps
I haven't figured out Tues - Thurs yet, but that's the basic strategy. Maybe a pasta night, an eggs night and a chicken night. This could actually save us money if we're more focused with grocery buying and we can eliminate some waste. And it could simplify life with the pre-made decisions as long as it's flexible enough to not feel like the dining hall at the prison! I'll report back on how it goes. We do throw away a lot of food which makes me sad.

lessisbest
1-1-15, 7:25am
January 1st I am beginning a no-spend month. Well, a modified no-spend month. I will be buying food & gas. I am going to keep the grocery spending under control and stick to a meal plan and list. No optional spending though. If it's not a real NEED, I am not going to buy it.

I do have some exceptions: Hair appt. at the end of the month. I have a gift card which will cover all but $8 and I will need to pay for parking. For Christmas I gave my husband 6 months of dates and one of the dates is to go to the RV show in Grand Rapids. I have the tickets for the show and a Panera gift card. But I forgot how expensive Panera can be so I may have to pay a little over the GC. And there will be a parking fee. AND, the last thing is that we were given tickets to see the Blue Man Group!! We will have to pay for parking for that as well. And I am going to buy a shoebox gift item every pay period so I don't have big costs in October when I am putting the boxes together.

My spending has gotten crazy. Too many meals out. Too little menu planning and shopping lists. Giving in to too many impulses. It's hard when you work at Target and know where all the clearance items are and you have the self-control of a toddler. :|( sigh...

Wish me luck. And self-control .

and HAPPY NEW YEAR Everybody!!

Azure-

Other than groceries, I have a no spend month every other month. But January is a spend month for me because that's when I can find these stock-up bargains: reduced prices for new crop nuts (and this is when I purchase the bulk of the nuts I use all year so I've set aside food dollars just for nuts), and after Christmas stuff (get a head start on next years gifts because December is my no spend month).

I've done this long enough I've found I only "shop" the first week and the last week of spending months, so that means I reduced it even more, and my shopping focus is much more defined and intentional. I no longer need shopping as an outing. Going to the library is a good place to go when you would really rather go shopping. Check out a few how-to books/videos and learn something new, and how about a few money-saving books or books on being frugal to help learn new skill or two on that subject.

-"Cheap. Fast. Good!" by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross (hundreds of ways to eat well for less with 275 delicious, thrifty, family-friendly recipes)

-"$3 Low-Sodium Meals" by Ellen Brown (there are other $3 meal books, as well)

-"Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half" - by Steve & Annette Economides

-"Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn (II and III) - A little out-of-date, but very inspirational. I still read through these books at least once a year. The best thing I learned was how to keep a PRICE BOOK (pgs. 30-31) back in 1993 when I first got the book.

Azure
1-2-15, 7:04pm
Azure-

Other than groceries, I have a no spend month every other month. But January is a spend month for me because that's when I can find these stock-up bargains: reduced prices for new crop nuts (and this is when I purchase the bulk of the nuts I use all year so I've set aside food dollars just for nuts), and after Christmas stuff (get a head start on next years gifts because December is my no spend month).

I've done this long enough I've found I only "shop" the first week and the last week of spending months, so that means I reduced it even more, and my shopping focus is much more defined and intentional. I no longer need shopping as an outing. Going to the library is a good place to go when you would really rather go shopping. Check out a few how-to books/videos and learn something new, and how about a few money-saving books or books on being frugal to help learn new skill or two on that subject.

-"Cheap. Fast. Good!" by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross (hundreds of ways to eat well for less with 275 delicious, thrifty, family-friendly recipes)

-"$3 Low-Sodium Meals" by Ellen Brown (there are other $3 meal books, as well)

-"Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half" - by Steve & Annette Economides

-"Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn (II and III) - A little out-of-date, but very inspirational. I still read through these books at least once a year. The best thing I learned was how to keep a PRICE BOOK (pgs. 30-31) back in 1993 when I first got the book.

Thanks for sharing that! It's good to learn from someone who's already done it. I live in a really, really small town so our library is not a great resource though I often order things through inter-library loan.

I am hoping to do 3 no-spend months this year.