Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The most thoughtful gift...

My sister may not always "get" what we're doing or agree with Dave Ramsey, but her (and fam's) gift to us this Christmas told me that she supports it.



"SnoBalls", 3 Cadbury Eggs for The Mister, a Lego cop, and a stack of cash... For our snowball.

Priceless.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Frugal Missus Solves All Your Problems (not really)

I have had SO many requests for meal planning info, coupon clipping advice, and cost-effective meals.

Thanks, in part, to Dave Ramsey for turning Frugal Mister on to Jon Acuff, author of the incredibly entertaining blog, Stuff Christians Like, who, in turn, drew Frugal Mister's eye with an ad for E-Mealz.

E-Mealz is INCREDIBLE (so far). They have multiple menu plans, for different diets, number of people, kid-friendly, etc., so the brain work is taken care of for you. But that's not the best part... ready for this??

The meals are planned with store specials/sales in mind already!!! Seriously. How cool is that?!?

And even cooler? It's *only* $5 a month (3-month subscription at a time and auto-renewal). You can use the coupon code "DAVE" to save $2.50 on your first month's subscription!

Go ahead... click the link below (or in the sidebar), and you can send me flowers with all the money you've saved. (ok, not really... I'd rather you spend the money more wisely in your own homes).

But you CAN repost the link on your FB pages and send in emails (just link to this post on the blog OR highlight the link and C&P in a new email to your friends and families) as a thank you!

Enjoy :)

Link to copy: E-MEALZ Easy Meals for Busy and Frugal Families





SAVE TIME AND MONEY WITH E-MEALZ MEAL PLANS

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frugal Missus Takes The Hard Road

I realized, as I made a couple extra pancakes with the leftover batter this morning, that one way to save money is to let go of convenience.

I made pancakes. With 2 small children. And saved leftovers (thankfully, a 16 month old isn't exactly picky!). In a reusable container. Yes, slapping a piece of tin foil over a plate is more frugal than using a one-time ziplock (I can't bring myself to wash them, no matter what was in it.), but using a storage container was even more frugal (and our high-efficiency dishwasher takes out the "but, the water!" argument). Yes, it's one more thing to put away, but it's like a gift that keeps on giving!

You know those small cups of applesauce you stick in your kids lunches? Or the boxed juice? Or the pre-cut carrot sticks? Or frozen mashed potatoes? I had a bag of frozen mashed potatoes (about 1 bag would cover what I needed them for) in my grocery cart. They were "on sale" for 2/$5. When I headed to the produce section and saw a 10lb bag of russet potatoes for $.88 (you read that right!) I about keeled over in the middle of Safeway! ("Clean up in the produce section! Clean up in produce..."). I put the "easy road" back and put the "hard road" in my cart. I won't even get into the frozen vs fresh debate today. In my book, I was already ashamed at the frozen ones even being in my cart in the first place!

So, no, being frugal isn't always convenient, but you know what? I made my dish that the frozen potatoes would have just about covered, I still have at least 3 more meals of potatoes in my pantry, AND I have $1.62 left in my pocket.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frugal Family SPLURGES!

Well, it's happened. Our craptop... err.... laptop, took a dump on us. It's been a LONG time coming (as in a month after we bought the darn thing in 2007!). However, we've been good little frugalites and haven't rushed out to buy a new one. And then the power cord stopped working. And I was in the middle of making money (editing 2 photoshoots). And, well... we took a big jump. To a MacBook.

(note all of the staccato sentences. For future reference, that means I'm in disbelief. Still am.)

We dropped The Big to preschool and headed to the Apple store, both nervous about making such a big purchase while still in debt. We had fully intended on buying a MacBook once all of our debts were paid, but I really felt like buying a new power cord was throwing good money after bad. Sure, it might have fixed the problem, for say, $50, but the computer was still a hunk of junk. It's THE reason I stopped blogging. It was so frustrating to try to write a post when it took 15 minutes for Blogger to load! Grrr.... Frugal Father would call me on his way home from work (about 25 minutes) to have me turn the blessed thing on so it would be semi-ready to use when he got home. I'm NOT even kidding a little bit here.

So, anyway... we calculated how much cash we had with Christmas Gift money, Frugal Father's "extra" income from his *paid* writing gig, not buying firewood as we had planned, not having Blow money for the month, nixing the last few Christmas gifts we were going to get the girls (they are both getting plenty!), and the money I had made from my photography gigs, and *VOILA*. Enough cash to buy our 13" MacBook Pro.

We've been planning on this for well over a year, and I'm incredibly proud that we were able to have the cash on hand for such a big purchase! It's a nice little glimpse at what our future has in store for us!

On another note, if you are in the East Bay Area, Frugal Father and I will be leading our second round of Financial Peace University, starting in February. It's $100 per family and runs for 13 weeks (I'm pretty sure they will be consecutive weeks, but I have to double check the calendar). If you, too, would like to learn how to "Live Like No One Else", we'd love to have you! Email me at frugalmissus AT gmail.com for details!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reader Questions

A friend of mine emailed a couple questions recently and I thought it might be helpful to post the answers for all to see. Feel free to email me any other "reader questions" you have and I'll do my best to answer them!

1. How do you budget for things like Christmas (or items that aren't necessarily in the normal monthly budget)?

Answer:

We put $100 away for gifts each month. That includes birthdays/anniversaries/Christmas/bdayparties. Before DR, we ad to wait until Jason's big paycheck on Dec. 10 to do any shopping (4 holidays in November!), but this year we have $600 waiting in our "gift fund" already! Makes it easier to shop sales. However, that's not to say that we'll just blow the whole $600 just because we have it. That's an important part of budgeting too. Last year, we didn't start saving until October for Christmas and STILL saved $800 in time (the bulk from that 12/10 check).

2. Along those same lines, what about items that only come up once a year (car registration as one example)? Do you split them up into 12 monthly amounts and then just put that money somewhere (savings account, cash it out for an envelope)?

Answer:

You're asking about "sinking funds". Divide those yearly/bi-yearly payments into what it would cost per month, and put it into your savings acct. We use Quicken to keep track of how much we have in our various sinking fund accounts, but in reality, it's all (including the Emergency Fund) in one savings account. You could also keep track of spending an deposits for those on paper. Just make sure you remember to, and reconcile your total amount to your account balance! When we need money from our sinking funds, we just transfer it ASAP, since our budget equals zero each month.

3. Any grocery shopping tips? I am not a huge couponer, I just don't feel like I have the time for it. I do cut the coupons out of the Safeway weekly since I do most of my shopping there and I'll use those if they are applicable to what I need that week.

Answer:

I've taken a BIG step back in couponing since The Big Kid is back in school, and usually just do what you do. However, if I see an awesome deal on some sort of meat (30-50% off, cheap per pound, BOGO, etc.) I stock up. Then on my "scrimp" weeks, I just shop in my freezer and only have to buy fresh veggies, dairy, and a couple dry goods to make meals. I also double cook some recipes and freeze second portions, which is good for busy days and it's cost effective. On months that have 5 weeks, I usually struggle to make it on my $400/mo, but this last month had 5 weeks and I had $30 left at the end of the month!! I'm also hosting Thanksgiving this month and have already bought all of my supplies except green beans and am still within my normal budget! It's nice to be able to provide the whole meal when I offer to host :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Go Big, Or Go Home"

When we first decided to become debt free, we weren't ready to be "Gazelle Intense". We liked our nice life we had built ourselves, even if we couldn't afford it and shouldn't have had all the "toys" in the first place. My philosophy, prior to Dave, was "go big or go home". In other words, if we were borrowing money for a new tv/ nice car/ vacation/ dinner out/ camping trailer, why not borrow lots of it and have the best?

We ended up with lots of nice toys, but a big ol' debt.

We bought a brand spankin' new Acura TSX, in November 2005. All the bells and whistles were a MUST, and back then, we thought in terms of "how much overtime?", as in, "Oh, we can get the payments to $556.45/month? That's one shift of OT! SOLD!"

Little did I know, as we signed away our lives (a common cliche when you go heavily into debt, but does one stop to think about what it really means?), that I would get pregnant one month later and we had just committed to Frugal Mister missing one day a month for SIX YEARS with his family! That cliche takes on a while new meaning when you think of it in those terms!

So, we had agreed to not sell the Acura when we started this whole crazy thing. Then something happened. We got smart ;)

We are so tired of thinking in "HMOT" terms. The sooner we can be done with the OT, the sooner we get our lives back!

We *finally* sold the Acura to a long time family friend, and bought her '03 Civic in return! It was an even trade, but we got rid of that UGLY car payment!!

We do the budget tonight and I can't wait to see how that $556.45 builds steam on our Debt Snowball! And to think we will NEVER have a car payment again is an INCREDIBLE feeling! Our friend pays only $117/month for a LUXURY car! I am so happy for both of our good fortunes in buying and selling of great used cars :)

I have also come to realize I don't have to abandon my old philosophy, "GBOGH". I just need to apply it differently.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Little Pony Madness!

I got word that MLPs were on sale at Toys R Us Buy One, Get One today ONLY, so armed with some MFQs (manufacturers coupons) I headed to the nearest store. I called before going and was told they honor MFQs, but I doubled checked when I walked in. I had 3 BOGO MFQs that I used in 3 seperate transactions. Total OOP (out of pocket) was $.51 for two ponies! A TOTAL of $1.53 for SIX ponies!

I am going to have one very happy 3 year old come Easter Morning!


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