Saturday, September 30, 2006

Backyard Firepit for Free!

Last year, I really wanted a firepit for marshmallow roasts etc, but we just couldn't justify the money or time.
So.. a few months ago, I prayed and asked God to provide a way.

Last month, somebody freecycled a broken down concrete wall to me, and the bricks were EXACTLY the size and number to make the pit.

Husband has been overwhelmed with other more important projects, that I decided to tackle it myself. (after prayer, of course! )

First, I dug out a rectangle the right size and depth for one layer of bricks , then I just laid them out to make a box, then three more layers, and it was finished, the blocks fit together like they'd been hand picked for the project.. even the broken ones ended up fitting perfectly.. I also ended up with a little ledge to put a grill (rack saved from our old oven). I worked on it for 2 hours from first shovel full of dirt to finish.. then I scrounged around the yard and made two stools (logs on end), and a bench (board on bricks) and was done in time to fix dinner !

I'm always surprised, although I know I shouldn't be.. at just how much the Lord cares about me... even the small things I may want or need... He is willing and able to fulfill the very desires of my heart!

Now.. we're all set for my son's b-day party on Monday.
Our first marshmallow roast!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

U-pick Farms and Orchards

We had a homeschool "field" trip today. After violin lessons, we went to an apple orchard to meet with another homeschooling family. They were late, and while we waited, we picked raspberries.

This was my second time to pick raspberries there this year and the price was still fabulous. $ 1.50 a POUND! for RASPBERRIES! Wow!

My total bill for the outing (besides fuel to get there) was $ 46.00.

That bought

1/2 bushel mixed apples
6-7 cups of raspberries
4 perfect pie pumpkins
6 smallish gourds for the table centerpiece
1 gallon cider

3 super large red bell peppers (really heavy ones)
1 # green beans
1/2 dozen sweet corn (they were incredibly sweet too)

1 huge jar of honey
6 honey sticks (treats for the children)
2 Creme brulee scented votives (they smelt like caramel apples, I couldn't resist).

2 cider slushes
2 child's ciders

We spent six hours there and the children had a fabulous time (me too! :D ).

For affordable fun, great food bargains and a chance to make great memories.. I highly recommend a U-pick near you!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I love Krogers.....

In the 13+ years I've been a homemaker, many supermarkets have been available to me.

Payless, Marsh, Shop and Save, Piggly Wiggly, Winn Dixie, JayC, Jewel, and such.

Not to mention super-centers like the super Walmarts, Targets, K-marts, Meijer, etc.

The one that has held my affection the longest is Krogers.

Ah... Krogers.

The reasons I like Kroger stores are numerous... but.. since I'm blogging about it, I'll list some of them.

1. Krogers usually has 90% of my list on a GOOD sale. Better than I could get with a coupon somewhere else. It doesn't seem to matter what I need, I'm sure to find it on sale for a good price (and I do comparison shop, so I know!).

2. Kroger routinely has their excellent no additive cheese, sour cream, and 2qt. Acidouphilous milk on sale for $1.00. Also, just about every other normal thing I buy goes on sale for $1.00 about once a month. Not to mention nearly always carrying medium eggs for around $.58.

3. Krogers has super fresh produce, (including organic!) that is also on sale when I need it. A sparkling clean deli and meat counter, where they will slice roasts for me for free! (you know, those $1.87 lb pork or round roasts?)

4. Krogers's is laid out sensibly, and they don't keep moving the aisles. You can get milk and bread and bananas without wearing out your legs by circling the entire store.

5. The customer service people and clerks are nearly always polite and friendly. I still get asked if I need help out with my bags at Krogers. (and I'm not an old lady either).

6. Krogers let me sign up for their customer card using the name "King Kong" and 12345 Adams St, USA on the form, the lady said it didn't matter what I put down, and that no number was necessary. Granted.. this was about eight years ago.. they might be sticklers for accuracy now, who knows.

7. They have carts that look like race cars.. and get this.. they seat TWO children and have TWO steering wheels. This same cart has a little shelf for my coupon book/purse/whatever.

8. The managers have always been nice (mind now, I've had 6 major moves, and Krogers has been consistent for that long), and if I ask them to get something special in.. they WILL, and act like it's a pleasure. When I have a complaint (rarely) it's taken care of immediately and appropriately.

9. Along those lines... I can special order stuff online from Krogers. Check it out here
I can also see the flyers online, which is nice when they fail to materialize in the mailbox.

10. Krogers doubles coupons (except when they triple them :D ), doesn't demand ID for a credit/debit card purchase, and will give me paper bags, even doubled ones, without pouting about it like some other stores (or like Walmart, who has fazed them out entirely).

11. Krogers has a whole organic/natural foods section that is laid out sensibly, has good sales and includes hard to find things like good tasting soy ice cream (Husband is allergic to milk), and organic milk that goes on sale for $2.50 2qt.

12. Krogers hires sweet old ladies who coo over my children when we stop to sample stuff. They also give out GOOD cookies from the bakery counter for the children(usually jumbo chocolate chip, sugar or snickerdoodles).. unlike Walmart, which gives hard, cold and mealy mini-shortbread lumps.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Take a Month off from Electric and Gas Bills

This is the time of year (Spring is another), where you might be lucky enough and smart enough to get a "bill free" month.

Turning off the a/c and not turning on the furnace can save us around $100.00 this month.

Instead of A/C, open windows when it's warm, and close them before it starts too cool down in the evening. Try it, you might be surprised!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Marry a man who can fix things....

My husband asked me last week.. as he put the finishing touches on a "DIY" project... "Honey, would you still love me if I couldn't fix your appliances anymore?".

I was shaken! Not fix things anymore!

Until he'd said that.. I didn't realize what an integral part of our relationship his "fix-it" personality was.

My answer was "I don't know, let's not find out.. ok?".

Seriously though.... marrying a man who not only CAN, but DOES fix things is the most frugal thing I've ever done.

Not that I put much thought towards frugal living back then.. but the fact remains...

Single people... consider your spouse-to-be's ways... are they like Solomons industrious ant? or are they talentless, slacker sluggards who'll just call a repairman or charge a new washing machine the first time it hiccups.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Astonishingly Unfrugal things people do


Astonishingly UnFrugal things other people do...

1. Going out to eat all the time.. saying and I quote "It's cheaper than having to buy ingredients and cook at home!".

2. Use coupons to buy stuff that is still a lousy deal. An example.. Buying expensive frozen dinners for a family of six... (3.50 each without coupon.. 2.95 after) when the children will still be starving after eating their 6 oz Lean cuisine meal. For 17.70, I can fix a huge potroast dinner, big enough to feed 12 hungry eaters, or a 20 serving lasagne, or three hearty chicken dinners to feed 6. Some things aren't a bargain no matter how big the discount.

3. Using 35mm film. Digital is the frugal choice here. Not only is it cheaper.. but it's easier to store those snapshots you aren't sure you want to put in albums right now.

4. Throw away leftovers and then fix sandwiches for lunches.... Just put the leftovers away in a lunch sized container, toss in a plastic fork, napkin, and drink. When we get lunch meat.. I figure it costs an average of $2.00 per sandwich for fixings. Compare that to using healthier, homecooked and "free" leftovers! If you end up with more than one serving of something.. put them away in serving size containers in the freezer.. just pop one in a lunch bag, and you won't need to add the frozen cooler thing.

5. Taking little boys to get their hair buzzed at a barbershop. It costs at least $6.00 per head at the barbers.. and it only costs $35.00 for a decent WAHL clipper set with instructions. You can't mess up a buzz cut, so why not do it yourself?
The instructions even show how to do other styles as well.. and it's not that hard. It takes me about 15min per head, and I'm still using the clippers I bought five years ago. I've been doing DH's hair too.. he likes a buzz cut in the summer, and I'm practicing on the boys for DH's normal winter cut.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Goofy ways to make money

I posted this at my personal blog.. and decided you might think it was interesting too.

The Legal Mastermind's loophole number are as follows....

He had two credit cards (total $50,000 credit line) that he maxed out with travelers checks every month.
Cashing the checks and buying 30 day CD's or putting it into a money market account at 3.5% (not sure you could still find that high of a return.. but anyway...)

He cashed out and paid off the cards each month, netting him with 3.5% annual return from $50,000. His credit report showed four more cards in similar use.. (different bank than mine).. so.. if he did that with $200,000... his annual rate of return was about $7000.00.

It may seem like easy money.. but the logistics had to be a bear... and.. as I keep saying.. your time is valuable too.

More Ways to Save

Medical bills:
1. Everybody see the same Doctor!
Take the time to find a good Family Practitioner that will treat your whole family. Not only are they more flexible and available than specialists... but if you do a good job choosing (aka.. always ask!) they'll be willing to call in antibiotics if you all fall prey to Strep Throat at the same time. You'll save money, time, and hassle if your family has a good Family Doctor. Bonus.. making appts, getting refills, and payment options are more flexible with a Family MD.
Tip.. look for designation "Family Practioner" esp if you have children or elderly. Most General Practitioner's won't treat young children or do OBGYN checks.

2. If you have alot of medications... check out your RX options. For example.. online pharmacies, Sam's club pharmacies and "Discount RX" stores might be worth looking into.

3. Use your medical savings account benefit if you have one. Unless you never get sick, don't wear glasses, and don't see the dentist.. you should use it. They are easier to use than ever before, and you can get reimbursed for everything from co-pays, elective surgery and root canals to contact lense solution.

4. Plan ahead. If you are going to have a baby next year.. make sure your insurance selections reflect that. Dental insurance and vision insurance are good places to look for "plan ahead" options.

5. Stay healthy. A little investment in vitamins (C!), exercise and avoiding bad habits (drugs, smoking, drinking, illicit activity, over eating, fast food) will save you huge amounts of money over a lifetime. A strong immune system is your best defense.. and it is usually the fruit of living frugally (avoiding vice is exceedingly frugal!)

6. The internet is your friend. Here's a good place to start More Frugal Medical here!

Local Entertainment

Instead of spending cash for concert tickets... this time of year has ripe pickings for free concerts, festivals and other free entertainment possibilities.

Just this week, I picked up a calendar full of great happenings for September for our nearest big city.My source!
Among the offerings for September... 12 free concerts, including jazz, classical, Chinese, bluegrass, Rock, country and thats not counting the dozen or so gospel concerts held in churches.

While spending money on entertainment is unfrugal and unwise when trying to get out of debt... adding enjoyment and cultural opportunities is a great way to not feel "deprived". So.. do some research and go somewhere free, fun and frugal this weekend. I also like City Guide as a search tool for local happenings.