Monday, March 8, 2010

March Goals Update

I have been doing great with my March goal of coming up with an extra $500. When I first started this last week I didn't think I had anything to sell. Now I am really motivated to find more items to sell. My poor dh is worried he will come home from work and all of his stuff will be sold. LOL!

In the last week I have come up with the following extra money:

$1.98 - check for credit balance remaining when we closed Discover card
$15.00 - extra money from "rounding up" in checking account
$5.90 - Opinion Outpost Check
$2.26 - check for credit balance remaining when we closed Sears card
$10.00 - sold bracelet
$12.00 - sold cookbook
$12.00 - sold cookbook
$25.00 - underbudget on groceries
$20.00 - Longaberger Basket
$85.00 - DH's Paintball Gun #1
$8.00 - video game


Pending Snowflakes:
TrueBlood Season 1 - $20
DH's Paintball Gun #2 - $80
Inbox Dollars Check - $28

Thursday, March 4, 2010

P&G Sample Pack with samples and coupons

P&G Products is giving away free sample packs that include your choice of coupons and free sample products.

Go here to choose which coupons and samples you would like to get!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

March Goals

For March I have a few goals I want to meet. At first my goal was to add $500 to our emergency fund. I was planning on doing this by doing some surveys, selling on craiglist, squeezing the heck out of my grocery budget, and coming underbudget on our utilities. Now it looks like the $500 will go to finishing our living room remodel. Dh has decided he is tired of living in a half finished living room (which is great he is motivated!-we just need to make sure no purchases go on a credit card).

My normal grocery budget right now is $70 per week and I go every two weeks. (In summer I can usually be around $55-$60 when having a garden.) Last time I shopped was February 19 and I spent $150 (yes a little overbudget). I was planning on going shopping again March 5 but my sister in law has challenged me to try to make it another week.

So my next shopping trip is tentatively planned for March 12. (Except for milk and fresh produce). I am hoping to be below budget and put that extra into savings for the month. I also cancelled our twice monthly Schwan's delivery so that will also go into our savings account.

Also our electric bill has been running $150 per month. For the first time I am trying to air dry our clothes. The plan is to not use the dryer this month (only exclusion is towels and jeans drying for 5-10 minutes). It will be tough but I want to see how much money we will save on our electric bill. We are also going to be diligent about shutting lights off and the computer off at night.

My motto in March will have to be "every little thing counts". It is going to be a challenge - Hmmm is it April yet? :0)

Paying with Cash

This is one change that can save you alot and help you to follow your budget. I will admit this was a foreign concept to me. I had always had either a credit card or a debit card with me and I never used cash. This has also been the toughest change for me. Some weeks I will do really well with this, others I will not.

What I try to do each week is have 4 envelopes:
1. Groceries
2. Gas - Cars
3. Dh Fun Money
4. Me Fun Money

Each payday I take out the budgeted amount for each envelope. I then make an attempt to not use a check, debit card, or credit card until the next payday.

This does not always happen because to me using a debit card is much easier and more convenient that paying with cash. With cash I worry about not having enough when I go to pay vs. the ease of just swiping the card.

Switching to "cash only" does work very well for me. Because I worry about not having enough cash at the checkout I do not put unnecessary items in my cart. I think more about what I am buying. It is also harder to spend when you physically see the money leaving your wallet and you know when the money is gone there is not anymore. It makes the money more real and you more accountable.

I know I need to get back in the habit of using "cash only" again - one thing I am going to try is having a small calculator with me. I can then keep track of my total so there will be no surprises at the checkout.

Target / Walmart aka The Budget Busters

Have you ever planned to stop at Target or Walmart for one or two items only to find yourself with a cartful of items being pushed to your car and $100 gone?

This happened to me every week for years. When we were trying to cut expenses I knew these trips would have to stop. There are several things I have done to help me reduce the money I spend in both stores.

1. I stay out of the stores if I am only needing a few items. I will get that item at a grocery store, dollar store, or even a gas station. I might pay more for the one item I do buy but I am saving money in the long run by doing this. It saves me the temptation of filling my cart full of items I do not need.

2. If I do go to Target or Walmart it is a planned trip and I bring a list of items I need to buy. If it is not on the list I do not buy it! I also set myself a budget and bring cash.

With these two changes I have been able to go from spending $100-$150 per week to less than $100 per month.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Whole Chicken Cooked in the Crockpot

When I was first married I tried cooking chicken in the oven and ah- just imagine the turkey on National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. I still cannot cook a chicken in the oven without it being very dry. So I found an alternative way to cook a whole chicken. Now - cooking a chicken this way is not something you want to do if you are having guests over for dinner. When you take it out of the crockpot it literally is so moist it falls apart. So you end up with pieces that you have to remove the meat from.

1. To do this - you remove your giblets from the chicken. You place the chicken in your crockpot, season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Put the lid on and turn on low for 7-8 hours. It is that easy, you do not add water or any other liquid. The chicken ends up cooking in its own juices. Picture above shows what it will look like after 8 hours.

2. You remove the chicken from the crockpot - It will fall apart when you start moving it. When you get all the pieces on a plate remove all the skin and bones and put them back into the crockpot. Fill the crockpot with water. Keep on low for 10-12 hours to make your chicken broth.

3. Strain the bones/caracass out of your liquid.

4. What you have left is your chicken broth.

From this chicken I was able to get:
the original meal of chicken, mash potatoes, and gravy
4 c cubed chicken
1 c shredded chicken
14 cups of chicken broth that I freeze in 2 cup portions.