Tag Archives: frugality

Grocery Round-up

I went to the store yesterday. This whole week has just been kinda screwy. Normally I go over the weekend, but I’d planned on being in Elko where there are several big chain grocery stores. Didn’t happen, so I went to our local store. Who knew that Christmas week just doesn’t have good grocery sales? It seemed like nothing was on sale. So I just bought what was, and we’ll go again because the flier for this week is chock full of good deals.

  • bag of salad, 99 cents
  • two bags shredded motzerella cheese, 3.00
  • five pound of apples, 4.45
  • bunch bananas, 2.37
  • 12 huge muffins, 5.00 (I know…I know! This is what happens when I don’t have a list.)
  • two white onions, .89
  • two avocados, 1.00
  • sour cream, .89
  • cottage cheese, 1.25
  • yogurt, 1.80
  • 1 loaf bread (NO bread was on sale, so I just got enough to get by) 1.89

Meh. Not my best week. And I’ll have to go back and shop more because I didn’t have a cohesive list. I’m going to have to do better than this to stick with our goal.

I can update our menu though to include chilequillas tonight and homemade pizza on New Years Day.

More Grocery Round-up here.


Leave a comment

Filed under body

The Plan: How To Make $339.24 While Watching Reruns of Law and Order

My house is filled–right to the brim–with books. I love books. I buy them cheap, at thrift stores and garage sales. There are times when we are all in danger of being transplanted by books from our home.

So tonight I sat down and took a look at the bookshelf that is my January housekeeping goal. And I took an armful of books from it and with a little research found www.bookscouter.com. This is a really cool site, where you type in the ISBN number from any book and it searches 30 different sites that buy books and gives you a comparison.

I had no idea that there were ANY sites that bought back books. I really hate listing on Amazon or Half.com because I HATE all that shipping. It was very interesting to see that some bookstores would buy a book for $10 that another would only offer $2 for. So it was way worth it to wait that 30 seconds per book for bookscouter to do it’s thing.

I ended up making $339.24. And I didn’t even finish that bookshelf. I still have one shelf to go, plus three in another room, and mountains in both bathrooms (shhh…don’t judge!) and box after box in our storage unit.

I ended up selling to six different venues. They all offer free shipping, you just print out the label and tape it on. They also all pay with paypal when the recieve the books. If you don’t send the right book, or one in bad condition, they don’t pay you for it.

Bookscouter has a star system similar to Amazon, where users can rate the different companies. This was very helpful, because before I found bookscouter, I’d found one site that bought text books and had decided to sell to them. When I put the ISBNs of my text books into bookscout not only did I earn about $50 more dollars on those books, I learned that company had only one star because it took six weeks for them to pay when most other companies pay within  two.

So–I did have some college text books to see. I’d say about $150 worth. Which means that I sold $200 worth of non-text book books tonight. Here’s what I found:

1. Novels don’t do well. Not even paperback books less than a year old. The most I got for one was $1.

2. You should check everything, because there was more than one book that I was SHOCKED to find was worth $10 or $15.

3. I actually made a profit on most of the books (with the exception of the text books. There is NOTHING worse than finding out that a new edition of a text came out, and the book you paid $80 is now with fifty cents), which means there must be someway to make a little extra money from buying books cheap and reselling them to these companies. The problem is making sure you don’t spend your profit on duds. A little research should help.

Okay…I’m not exhausted and sore. This was real physical labor! But $350 richer.

I have a goal to save $3000 as quickly as possible. This is about three months of my income from my part-time job. If I can save that much, I’ll have options that I just don’t have right now. This $339.24 is going toward that. So is all the money I make from writing, and as much as humanly possible from our paychecks. I’m going to open a page to document this goal.

ETA: I have opened the page. I decided not to list the book money until it actually comes in.


Filed under mind

Menu Monday

First, something interesting. Last night I pulled out my calculator and crunched some numbers. I wanted to see how much we would save by just getting rid of some non-essentials. Some of them will be easier than others, for sure, but I was flabbergasted by this list.

1. Cutting back $10 a week on what we spend on soda. $520

2. Cutting back $400 a month on what we spend on food. We’ve been spending about $800 a month at the grocery store. $4800

3. Getting rid of our storage unit. $960

4. No eating out for a year. $4000 (!)

5. Giving up ‘personal’ spending money, that for Kevin is usually spent at the casino and for me on books I could just as easily get from the library. $2400

6. Giving up my annual trip to the Romance Writer’s of America Conference. $2500

The personal money and both of the food items won’t be easy. But we can do anything for a year. One year. And we’d save a whopping $15,120. That is a lot of money. A LOT. It about how much I make in a year working 20 hours a week. It’s my year’s tuition plus some. It’s all of our debt, except the car. So yeah. We’re going to give that a shot.

This week I spent $78 at the grocery store. Our goal is to spend no more than $100 a week, for a family of five. I had $100 planned, but the store was out of chicken legs and cheddar cheese they had on a good sale, so I got rain checks. We might fill them this week, or wait until next.


1. Chilaquiles the Easy Way (see the recipe a few days ago)

2. Grilled steak, baked potato, sliced tomatoes

3. Bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, OJ

4. Broccoli soup and corn bread

5. Chicken and rice, sautéed spinach

6. Pintos Gallo (beans, rice, and corn…very yummy, I’ll post a recipe when I make it.)

7. Homemade cheese and olive pizza

Breakfast is very much a get-your-own affair at our house, with cold or hot cereal or toast and eggs being the winners for the most part. I usually make once big breakfast on the weekend, and will likely go with gluten-free pancakes this week.

Lunches are bagged Monday through Thursday. I have plans to bring dinner left overs. Adrienne nearly always goes with a sandwich and fruit and chips if we have them. Kevin, Nick, and Ruby are at home during the day, and Kevin oversees lunch on those days. Week end lunches are normally leftovers, sandwiches, or soup. Nothing fancy.

Check out other Monday Menus here.

1 Comment

Filed under body

Ruby’s House

Ooh! I’m so excited! I may be the only person in the world that gets happy over defective presents. But there you have it. I said in an earlier post that I got Ruby an easel for $29 at our local toy store. Well, we opened it up, and it’s missing a screw and has a dinged up corner. Kevin went to return it today, and the owner let him have it for $10! I’m so happy, cause I searched again all day today, and can’t find anything for much less than $40. Stay tuned on the 9th for pics and one happy artistic five-year-old.

Ruby got this for her birthday from her grandparents. Since I’m not known for my patience, I let her open it when it came. She had fun with it for a bit, but it’s kind of a one trick pony with the light up bristles. The snotty-textured paint is not great to work with.  It made it hard to paint, cause there is a  delay, and the brush is really chunky and the cord makes it hard to manage. Still, she did like how the colors came up like magic. In Ruby’s world, magic is  good. 

What was GREAT to work with, was the box it was mailed in. Ruby picked it up, said “it looks like a house mama” and it was off to the races. Here’s what she had by the end of the day. Not shown is the plastic 1/2 gallon ice cream container that we recycled quite nicely into a dog house/grooming station.

If you look closely, you’ll see why Angel was so interested…

The little red thing is a Pam lid doing double duty as the pink poodle’s food bowl. We don’t own a dog, so it’s filled with cat food!

Leave a comment

Filed under spirit

Cut it Out: The Practice Month, Week 1

 I think the one area where we can really cut down on spending is food. When I was a single mother, my food money was tightly budgeted. Since remarrying six years ago, I have to admit that has gone out the window. Part of it is joy at not having to watch every penny anymore. Part of it is my issues with food being given free reign. Regardless, I’ve gained 60 pounds since getting married and I know that most of this is because without having to budget food I haven’t had to budget portions or how much crap food I eat either.

So here’s the plan. $100 a week for food, personal items, and cleaning products.  

There are bloggers doing it for less. But we have a couple mitigating circumstances. The first being, we’re 180 miles away from the nearest major chain grocery store. There are three small family owned stores, one of them a tiny chain, but they don’t compete. They each have the same things on sale each week. Now, we can go to the Family Dollar, which may occassionally have something on a closeout. But otherwise, we don’t have the option of shopping the loss leaders at several stores or going to a bakery outlet. Because we’re in such a small, remote town food prices are higher than in a city.

The second issue is that I can’t eat gluten. So I have to spend at least a little money on gluten free products if I want to eat anything baked.

Okay, so here’s the list I made looking at the grocery ad from our local grocery store for the upcoming week:

  • packages of small steaks are on sale buy one get one free–regular price is about $7 for a package of five
  • bacon, 2/$5
  • 80 oz. chicken leg quarters, $3.39 (at $.67 per pound, this is a stock up price. We’ll get two.)
  • 18 pack of eggs, $1.99
  • Shredded motzerella cheese, $1.79
  • 2 lb block cheddar cheese, $4.99
  • 1/2 case of oranges (about 10 pounds), $6.99
  • pears, $.79/lb, five pounds for $2.95
  • apples, $.99/lb, five pounds for $4.95
  • 1 gallon orange juice, $2.99
  • Dole bagged lettuce, 2/$3
  • bag of spinach, $1.50
  • roma tomatoes, $1.39/lb, $3.00 worth
  • 5 lbs potatoes, $1
  • milk, $2.50
  • four loaves bread, $6.00
  • tortilla chips, $.87
  • store brand corn flakes, $.99 (this is the lowest price I’ve seen at our local store for boxed cereal. We’ll stock up on five boxes.)
  • family size broccoli soup mix, $2.97

Total: $68.42. That leaves some money for another gallon of milk later in the week, bringing it to $70.00 or so. We have a pretty full pantry, because we had a 25% off coupon bought with our store’s points that we combined with the semi-annual case-lot sale. We ended up spending about $500 (!) but the store tape said we saved almost $1000 (!!!) So for instance, we don’t have to spend anything but $1.79 for cheese to make the pizza. We’re also stocked up on Mexican tomato sauce, soup making ingredients, and muffin mix.  Having to buy those things would raise up the bill.

Here are the dinner plans for the week:

  • steak, baked potato, grilled tomatoes (our big Sunday dinner)
  • bacon, eggs, toast, orange juice
  • homemade cheese pizza
  • chips soaked in Mexican tomato sauce served with eggs, cabbage, and cheese
  • broccoli soup and corn bread
  • bbq chicken leg quarters, baked rice, sauteed spinach

Breakfasts are a get-your-own thing in our house. Choices are usually toast and eggs or hot or cold cereal.

Lunch is where things go wonky. Because I have a habit of eating lunch out. Sometimes breakfast too if I can’t face eating before 7 a.m. This has to stop. My plan is to make some cabbage soup (we already have the ingredients), also to make salads with left over meat. And to make my lunch the night before. I really can’t face food early in the morning.

I think doing some cooking ahead will also make a difference. I have a package of gluten-free muffin mix, so I’m going to whip those up. (The biggest problem with gluten-free baking is that it doesn’t hold well. You can’t make a double batch and eat them all week. They get weird. But if I freeze them, they should be ok. Gluten-free anything is better toasted, so I can stick a frozen muffin in the toaster oven. Nice!) I’m also going to make that soup, and maybe some cookies for the kids.

Leave a comment

Filed under spirit

The Mother of Creativity?

I’ve been poor. From mid-teens until about age 30, I was poor. Raising two kids on $12,000 a year poor. So I would hardly call the situation we find ourselves in today poor. We can pay all of our bills every month, which in my mind negates real poverty.

That being said, a couple of things have happened that have affected our bottom line. First, my ex-husband was laid off his job. A victim of the economy, and by proxy so are we because no income equals no child support. And second, because of my school schedule, I cut my work hours from 40 to 20 per week. Those two things equate to about a 1/3 reduction in our monthly income.

So, is poverty (or the feeling of poverty) the mother of creativity? It’s my experience that it can be. For the last several years, we’ve been able to pretty much spend without much thinking. We don’t budget for groceries, for dinners out, for clothing or entertainment. When we wanted something, we just bought it. Our new situation necessitates that we actually become mindful of our money and where it goes. I can’t help but think that’s not entirely a bad thing.

It isn’t exactly news that Christmas is in a few weeks. This year’s gift-giving is going to be significantly different than in years past. My husband is a little freaked out by that, but I’m finding it exciting. We have three birthdays (Kevin, Nick, Ruby) and Christmas all in December, starting with Ruby’s 5th Birthday on the 8th. Here’s some things we have planned:

1. I picked up Ruby an art easel at the local toy store for about $30. This is more than I would have liked to spend, but after months of looking, I wasn’t able to find one at the thrift stores or a garage sale. I really love living in a rural area, but being 250 miles away from big cities and big thrift stores occassionally has it’s draw backs. Ruby is very in to art, and this easel will last her throughout her childhood. She also has paper and crayons from the Family Dollar to go with it. This gift can be built on for Christmas with more art supplies.

2. When our computer got a terrible virus last summer, and I was panicked about getting my school work done, I bought an Acer mini laptop for $250 from Wal-Mart. Now that our big computer is working again. Nick is getting it as a 16th birthday present on the 12th. He already knows, and is ecstatic. Obviously a $250 gift isn’t frugal, but we already own it. Also, Adrienne and Nick’s dad has a tradition of buying our kids and his stepkids a computer for their 16th birthday (he is NOT frugal!!) Since he’s out of work, that isn’t going to happen this time. Just a fact of life.

3. We’re making some of Ruby’s Christmas presents. Specifically a doorway puppet theater with puppets, and a dollhouse with furniture. I’ll post more about them, with pictures and everything soon. I wasn’t so sure about the doll house…until yesterday when Ruby took the box her birthday gift from her grandparents came in and made her own doll house, then spent all day making furniture for it. She woke up this morning and jumped right to it again. She’s added dog grooming business made out of a plastic ice cream container. How’s that for the mother of creativity?

4. Last summer I took a cross-country train ride to a conference in Washington DC. The train hit a tow truck and I missed part of the conference. Amtrak sent me a $150 gift certificate. It’s going to be used to buy Adrienne’s Christmas present. A train trip to San Francisco, including a tour of UC Berkeley. This won’t happen until the spring, because driving conditions between us and the train station 180 miles away are hard to predict in the winter.  But she’s super excited about her adventure gift.

Leave a comment

Filed under body, mind, spirit