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Update & Census Test

February 27th, 2010 at 11:01 am

I am feeling optimistic today. We are at the start of a payperiod and we have everything set out to be taken car of. My husband's boss finally got all the information together to turn into HR to show that we need to be paid backpay (about $900) and be brought to our correct salary. We plan on using this money to fund the $1k emergency fund. I don't even have to remind my husband of this, he's completely on board. Yeah!

Also, I took the test today to be a census worker and scored 28/28. Yeah! I was told that if there is work in my area, there is a good chance I'll be called with that score. This seems like the perfect set up for a stay-at-home mom with young kids - temporary part time and flexible schedule with good pay. $17.50 an hour! It could be any range of work offered (depending on demand), up to 10 weeks of 20-40 hours, which adds up. At the minimum, if offered a job, I would go to about 40 hours of paid training ($700) and then not get much actual work. Also, if I don't like it or it isn't working as I'd like, I can quit at any time. Fingers crossed that this works out! One of their fliers mention making $3500 in 10 weeks; if that were to work out, that's almost 10% of what we owe on credit cards/overdraft! How awesome that would be! So, yeah, I'm feeling optimistic.

Lastly, I am trying out the once-a-month freezer cooking and will evaluate for myself how that affects my food budget and stress each night at home. So far, with sales and couponing, I don't think I'll spend much more than my budget for the payperiod to hopefully have quite a few meals for the month. I think I'll probably end up ahead. We'll see.

Reducing the Budget

August 17th, 2009 at 09:47 am

I am working on cutting back our budget in order to accomodate the upcoming furlough as well as get us on a better footing in general. I just got off the phone with the cable company canceling the HD/DVR upgrade (we get standard cable as part of our rent) and renegotiating what we pay for our internet. In total that bill went from $58/month to $25. I figure we'd pay about $20-25 a month to get dial-up since we don't have a landline phone yet, so I'll just keep our faster cable internet at this renegotiated price (which has the taxes included) since I do make a little money through my online activities. It also helps tremendously with my couponing and saving money that way.

By the way, I spent $84 on food/household this weekend, but it would have been $316 without coupons. I was able to get what I needed, stock up on some items, get some free items to give to a friend in need and donate other freebies. Thank you coupons!!

Almost Flipped Out Today & Frugal Thanksgiving Dinner

November 19th, 2008 at 11:58 am

Well, we've had more "surprises" to the tune of $390 so far this pay period. I went to check our balance online to make sure we'd have enough to cover bills (I figured we'd be within a few dollars once everything went through). I saw our balance was $265.43, but our available balance was only $65.07! I started to flip out because we had pending medical bills at $135 and $24. It took me a minute to realize that our available balance was only $65.07, because the bank was already taking the pending medical bills into account. Whew. I had started to cry and kind of flip out before I realized that though.

So, after those pending things go through, I'll have $65.07, but still have a $54 student loan payment. I expect to only have $9 for the rest of the pay period which won't cover gas SO, I transferred the last of the money from our Freedom Account to cover expenses. This kind of makes me sick to the stomach, but I guess this is the sort of thing it's there for. The fact that we're on the brink of disaster is what makes me sick to my stomach; this is one of my worst fears.

The bright side? I have been hording any cash I find around the house ($7 in my winter coat that I forgot about from last winter!) and have enough to cover any additional food we'll need. It'll be tight though.

Since we don't have family in the area, we'll make Thanksgiving really low key and inexpensive. I'll make the stuffing, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie that are our Thanksgiving staples. I'll buy some turkey slices from the deli and that'll be that. I have most of the things needed for the stuffing and casserole so this is good. We'll probably do the same for Christmas dinner.

Oh, I also had someone contact me about something I used to sell online (website still up, but says "out of stock") to see if I had any in stock. I do still have some inventory, told her what I had and that I'd discount it. She's ordered several things and so that's another $20 coming our way. What a blessing that is.

I just need to keep focused on the blessings and that these "surprises" will have to end at some point.

Saving Money on Food w/ Angel Food Ministries

August 23rd, 2008 at 07:46 pm

I don't know if you've heard of Angel Food Ministries before, but basically it's a nationwide co-op that orders a set menu once a month (the menu varies each month though). The order retails for an average of $65, but you get it for $30. There are no qualifications or applications, anyone can order. You can order as much as or as little as you want each month or even every few months, there isn't any commitment or membership to join. It was actually started as a way to help people get a "hand up" during financially stressful times, but anyone can use it and according to the article below, even doctors and lawyers are.

I tried it for the first time in June and figured that whatever I don't use right away will just go into my food storage and so it will help that slowly build too. Anyway, I won't go into it all since all the info is on their website (www.angelfoodministries.com), but I thought others might be interested since we all seem to like finding good deals.

Here's the link to the article: http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2008/052008/05312008/3837...

Oh, in my food storage research I also came upon this site that actually will give you menus with recipes based on the Angel Food Network's food distribution for the month(http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/angelfood/).

Here's a review that I sent to some friends after my first month:

Going in and paying for the food was easy, just take a money order or cash. I got a receipt and took that with me when I picked it up a few weeks later. I had about an hour window in which to pick it up and went with a friend who had also ordered for the first time. Everything was already organized into orders and all the frozen/refrigerated items were put together in a trash bag. We got our orders loaded in our car in a matter of about 5 minutes of arriving, all we had to do was give them our receipt.

All of us have been pleased with the food we got. My son, husband and I ate the pizza that same day and hamburger patties that night. We liked everything. We had run out of milk so I used the shelf stable milk that came with the order (it's not powdered milk as I'd guess, but fresh liquid milk in a carton and it didn't expire until March 2009 - yeah for food storage!). I have mixed it with reconsituted powdered milk and put it in the frig. No one had noticed a difference yet and I think it's tasted fine on cereal, etc. We are making two of the steaks tonight and they look good.

All the meat, except for the chicken tenders and chicken legs/thighs, were vaccum packed. The dessert item was a 4 pack of Boston Cream Pudding. I am attaching a photo of everything we got, except the pizza and milk (already used) and the pudding and eggs (I forgot to take them out of the frig).

In a nutshell, I'm happy and so were my two friends. We are ordering again this month. I plan to order for the next two months at least and stockpile a little before the baby comes. If we don't use all the meat each month, I may go to every other month, but three months in a row should give me a good feel as to what we're using. The menu is supposed to feed a family of four for a week.

UPDATE: I have now ordered three months in a row and have only gotten one or two things I didn't really care for or felt like I just couldn't use. Overall, I think it's a great deal and plan on continuing to buy from them.

Have any others used them and if so, what did you think of the food?

How We Save Money by Taking Snacks to Work & Ready-Made Breakfast Smoothie

August 23rd, 2008 at 08:53 am

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how I make smoothie "kits" for my husband's breakfast in the morning. He is usually rushing and this is a very fast and easy to carry breakfast that he likes. It doesn't cost much and I have made them up to a few days in advance.

I put everything, but the ice cubes, in a large empty yogurt container that I've labeled "Smoothie". I usually put it together in the order that I have written the recipe down, if you put the sugar in first, it will stay at the bottom of the container, etc.

Smoothie Recipe
1 whole fruit (I usually do a banana cut in 2 pieces or some pieces of canned peaches.)
1/2 cup of milk (I sometimes use reconstituted powdered milk, but you don't notice because of all the other ingredients.)
1 cup yogurt (I use flavored yogurt, either strawberry or peach usually.)
2 tablespoons sugar

Put 4 ice cubes and the smoothie "kit" into the blender. Blend on high until smooth (perhaps 30 seconds). You're good to go.


I have also gotten into making snacks for my husband to take to work so that he won't visit the snack machine as often. It saves money and is good for his health. Here are some of the things I have done:

*Cut up an entire stalk of celery ($1.36) and put into snack-sized tupperware containers, sometimes with baby carrots. He takes another small container of ranch dressing.
*Make brownies, cut into pieces, wrap in syranwrap and freeze. He can take one and it'll thaw at work.
*Cut a cake into pieces and put into small tupperware containers.
*Put almost anything such as jello, pudding, applesauce, etc. into small tupperware containers, it's much cheaper than buying it already done!
*Chips and homemade salsa
*He also keeps a large box of microwave popcorn at his desk. He's become known as the "popcorn guy" because he eats quite a bit of this. Smile

I hope this might help gives ideas to others. I'd love to hear any of your suggestions! My husband has a microwave and refrigerator available to him at work.


Flaxseed Egg Substitute = .04 cents per egg

August 11th, 2008 at 09:37 am

I just made up another batch of flaxseed egg substitutes since I want to make muffins later today. Did you know you can use ground flaxseed and water as an egg substitute? I learned this while doing research for my food storage and ways to lower my food costs. I have used it in cakes, muffins, bread, etc. for the last couple of months and have been happy with the results.

Here's the basic recipe to replace one egg:
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3 tablespoons water (or other liquid)
Stir together until thick and gelatinous.

I like to do 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds and 3/4 cups water and let it thicken in the frig. I use 1/4 cup of the mixture for each egg I need when baking. It's good for 2 weeks.

Here is the cost breakdown:
Hodsonís Mill Milled Flaxseed at Wal-Mart
Retail Price: $1.84
2 Tblsp*26 servings/1lb bag = 52 Tblsp
1 egg sub = 1 Tblsp
$1.84/52 = .035 cents/egg sub
.035 cents * 12 = .42 cents per DOZEN

More Important Info to Know
Once you open the flaxseed you should keep it in your frig or freezer. It's also really good for your health; it helps lower cholesterol! Look for the flaxseed in the baking aisle. I found mine right by the flour and baking soda.