Sunday, October 25, 2009

What I would do right now if I had no money

While putting dirty dishes in the washer I was contemplating making a trip to Aldi for baking mix and eggs since we're out of both. Then I started thinking about how if I really wanted to save money I should act like we don't have any and make do with our pantry items. I have made my own Bisquick mix before and I'm no stranger to using soy flour with water for an egg substitute.

Almost a year ago I posted this blog giving my ideas for helping those in financial straits. I started thinking about what I would do right this minute to keep a warm roof over our heads and food in our bellies. The goal should be food, shelter and warmth.

Making Money:
Find anything of non-sentimental value that we didn't need and sell it. Hold a garage sale for the little stuff like books, clothes, toys, and furniture that doesn't have a great resale value. Sell anything special on Craigslist or ebay. Even our scraped together yard sale stuff made us almost $100.

If you are physically capable of temporarily hiring yourself out to do yard work, babysitting, personal shopping or housecleaning do it. Someone somewhere needs those services and is willing to pay you for it. Swallow your pride and roll up your sleeves.

After you've combed the couch cushions, your coat pockets, and the top of the dryer for spare change you might consider taking long walks to collect cans or any other saleable scrap metals.
No you won't get rich but you will get exercise, a few dollars, and a chance to brain storm about your situation.

Saving Money:

Turn your thermostat down. Pull out extra blankets and wear a jacket if you get cold. A hot cup of tea costs pennies and will keep you nice and toasty. Consider insulating your pipes and water heater. Did you turn your hot water heater down to 120 F?

Call the credit card company if you need to and get them to work with you on your payment schedule.

Unplug all unused appliances and turn off lights when you leave a room for long periods of time.
Do all your baking on one day so you only heat the oven once.

My favorite tip from my previous article:
"Cancel everything that you can't eat, doesn't keep a roof over your head, or keep you warm at night. That's right- get rid of DTV, cable, Netflix, Blockbuster, and any other expensive money sucker that drains your wallet monthly. Do you have a library card?"

Saving and Getting Food:

Don't throw anything out unless it's rotten. And I mean completely rotten. A bit of mold can be cut off of cheese and you can cut the mooshy part out of the apple.

Don't throw out leftovers- that's not trash. That's tomorrow's lunch. Just have a tablespoon of veggies- that's soup fixins that you can freeze.

Clean out your pantry, freezer and fridge before you buy anymore food. When you do buy food buy ingredients like flour, proteins, and whole fruits and veggies. You'll save money and eat better.

This suggestion is a little subversive but I'm sharing nonetheless. Don't be afraid to dumpster dive. I've never dumpster dove for food but I still have jewelry and other things that I gleaned from a dumpster. My kids still play with toys that were found in a trash pile. If my family was hungry I wouldn't have a second thought about looking in a dumpster for a few cans of food or a head of lettuce. If you think about it only minutes ago it was perfectly good food on a grocery shelf. If it's not rotten, poison covered or dirty what's the harm in taking free food? Is it better to go in a landfill?

My last suggestion is to ask for help from friends or go to a food pantry. And that is what I suggest you do last. I think asking for help is great but I also believe you need to help yourself first.

Entertainment and Holidays:

Library cards are wonderful things. A whole world of dvds, books, music and books on tape available for your own free entertainment provided you don't rack up a lot of late fees.

Board games and card games with the kids instead of a night at the movies. They'll have wonderful memories of special family time spent together too. You don't even need packs of microwave popcorn for snacks. You can whip up your own with much cheaper popcorn kernels.

Potluck dinners for holidays can be wonderful! Everyone gets to show off their best dish and you don't get stuck fitting the bill for the whole meal. Get inspiration from Meredith about how to make a humble pitcher of water seem decadent and lovely.

A smaller, second hand Christmas or Hanukkah is nothing to be ashamed of either. You can find nice toys, books, and puzzles at garage sales for next to nothing. A little bit more expensive but still a good alternative is the thrift store. A few candies or chocolates bought on clearance or from the dollar store and you're done. I can attest personally that nice second hand items are still as exciting at their store bought counterparts. Nice sweaters, jewelry, purses, electronics, or cds can be found used for teenagers.
If your children are used to a big swanky unwrapping party on Christmas I suggest you discuss with them that things will be different this year. You might want to explain your financial situation to them. I truly believe that above all children truly just want your love and attention. And you can't put a price on that.

A few years ago my single mother (a real estate agent) friend was down to her last $1000 in the bank with Christmas coming, a mortgage payment, a car payment and no more income in site. This was just after the real estate market started to tank. She turned her heater down to 50 degrees, and put her little space heater in whatever room she walked into. Every conceivable cold air leakage problem was addressed with carpet remnants or rolled up towels. She and her little boy took hot baths at night (while the mini heater was heating up her bedroom) before they got into bed so they'd be warm for sleeping. While she was looking for a steady job she also enrolled in WIC to help with food supplies. Her close friends gifted her with store gift cards or their own pantry supplies because she let them know of her situation. She got a job a month later but I learned a lot from her about ingenuity from her brief period of poverty.
My friend is very proud but she swallowed her pride and did what she had to do. I'm proud of her for that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Frugal Foods of the Day

loaded up my crock pot with sale purchased can goods, free* peppers, and a handful of tvp to make chili.
heated up my oven and made cookies, corn bread and two loaves of wheat bread for a baking day.
stretched our drinking milk by mixing up instant milk for our bread recipes.
made grilled cheese and tofurky sandwiches instead of buying taco bell.
boiled free* eggs for a protein rich snack for our sick girl

The stock pile in the basement provided canned tomatoes, frozen cheddar cheese, paper towels, and toilet paper. I don't plan on grocery shopping this week as we have enough food already.

We'd been out of paper towels upstairs for over a week and I've been making do with our cloth napkins. After I use up our supply of paper towels I don't know if I'll want to keep buying them. I didn't miss them all that much.

*The free food came from my in-laws farm.

I've been enjoying reading Hodding Carter's Frugal Guy blog this week too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Letting Go of My Neurosis

I definitely have a panic issue when it comes to having anyone come over to my house. Add a stranger walking through every room and taking pictures and it borders on hysteria.

With a sick little girl at home today and me not feeling my best either I just decided that I needed to let it go. I picked up dirty clothes and went about my standard cleaning chores like loading the dishwasher and sorting the laundry. I purposely avoided looking at the cobweb that I noticed this morning hanging way up on the kitchen ceiling. In less than ten minutes what I had been dreading for days was over and my house is tidied up quite a bit. I did not hide things in my oven or my washing machine. I did not stuff papers under the couch. Perfect people do not live in this house so why am I trying to suggest that.
Still, I am not planning on refinancing again anytime soon.

I have dinner planned too. We're having chili and cornbread. I pulled out a cookie mix to whip up while our cornbread is cooking too.
And a charity drive called to ask if we had any items we could donate and I said yes. Now I don't have to store our garage sale leftovers (perfectly good items still) plus I get the tax deduction.
That works out great for me.

I've got a good library book, two great snotty kids to cuddle, and if we get really crazy we can watch Bedtime Stories streaming from Netflix and make popcorn. It's gonna be a nice day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boy am I tired.

Our garage sale is about done. I'm not even sure if we made more than $60. And we have a lot left to haul to Goodwill. But, we definitely made a dent in our clutter pile.

Last week Hubby and I decided to refinance our mortgage again. So, on Monday I will have someone in our house snapping pictures for our appraisal. I'll be cleaning all day tomorrow but today I am just tired. We turned the kids loose in the house today while we manned the garage sale and they did some creative cluttering.

Ah well, I may be tired but having a cleaner less cluttered house (and a few more bucks in our pockets) makes me pretty happy.

Going out to help Hubby pack up the leftovers.

It looks like we made about $82 after all is said and done. Not great but considering that most of it was already second hand not too bad either.
--we forgot the ten dollars that we took from the pouch to buy a bike from the neighbor's sale.
$92. I think we're doing this again in the spring.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting Ready for Our Garage Sale

We still have a lot to do before tomorrow morning. I have to keep reminding myself that making money is great but the most important thing is to get rid of stuff.

If it goes well I'm planning another for the Spring.

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Busy, Happy, Older

Since I last blogged this is what has happened:

I finished doing a big clean on our house. Yay!!
My hubby came home early from work to surprise me
My in-laws drove in from Indiana for the weekend to watch the kids. They brought us five large pumpkins from their garden.
Hubby whisked me away for a night for a wonderful meal, a Haunted History Tour and an overnight in a wonderful B&B in nearby Alton, Illinois.

Hubby and I shopped the antique shops and ate lunch on the river front in Alton. I bought a tiny watercolor painting of a little country church and a brand new pottery napkin holder.
We picked up my birthday cake which Hubby designed himself and had the best bakery in town bake for me.
We met up with my in-laws and children at a park and had some of my delicious cake.
For dinner we had Japanese tepanyaki? with a surprise birthday embarrassment for me of having to dance to a drum while everyone sang.

Sunday-(my 37th birthday)
My Hubby and his Dad went off for the day/night to the farm aid concert.
My Mom came up to visit and brought some soap making supplies.
My Mom, MIL, and I had fun making glycerin soap bars.
We went out for Chinese buffet, came back home, and relaxed and ate more cake.

Since Monday it's been me keeping the house picked up, getting ready for our garage sale this weekend and helping Big Girl with her nightly homework.

I had a wonderful birthday weekend and I am still enjoying living in a tidier house. I don't know why I fought it so hard.

As soon as I find my camera I'll be back to blogging on a more regular schedule.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Too Much Stuff! And The Just Do It Principle

The hours between cleaning and our visitors arriving is closing quickly and I'm struggling to get the all the jobs I've left until today done.
I go to put a dirty dish in the sink and I see the floor needs to be swept. I start sweeping the floor and notice a pile of stuff needs to be put away. I put the stuff away and notice that I need to write something on the calendar.
It's like this everyday. And endless cycle of little tasks that always leave me wondering where my day went and how come I'm exhausted and my house is still a wreck. Sigh.
I also suffer from being too overwhelmed by my chore list to get moving. My brain works overtime figuring out the best way to get stuff done instead of just pitching in and doing it.
Lately I've even seriously considered hiring someone for a month or two just to help me get my house clean and organized.
The truth is that we have too much stuff and our house is two rooms too large- we now have a dining room (our toy room) and a sitting room that we've never had before and it's just extra places to put stuff. I hate stuff.
The toys have all been stacked in the hallway since Hubby steam cleaned the toy room carpet.
It looks great empty and neither one of us wants to drag all those toys back in there to clutter it back up. I think half of the toys have to go.
I am tired. But, I must keep plugging on and get the house ready for our company. Nothing says Welcome like a clean toilet and a nice place to rest your head.