Tag Archives: penny pinching

Debt Snowball

     Related to my last post “Be Your Own Bank,” is Dave Ramsey’s  concept of “ debt snowballing.”  The idea is to pay off a small debt balance, then roll that money that would be going to that debt to the next largest debt.  In our case, we went after the highest interest debt we had and continued from there…

This way of living has had tremendous benefits.  From Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I learned to apply savings to areas that would create greater savings.  This is deliberate living that requires you to be financially self-aware at all times.

     I guess this last concept is more like a “savings snowball.” In the past, I started by having a yardsale that gave me the money to spend on garden tools and seeds. The money saved by growing our own food (we included the cost of gas and wear and tear on our vehicles to to to the grocery store) was then invested in canning equipment and dehydrators.

     Each year at this time, we make a list of what we are going to put our savings into.  Some of what we will do this year are invest in more chicks (for eggs and meat). While feed has increased, we have started freeranging our hens and realized some savings there.  Even though we pay for feed, we get a lot of garden vegetables from the compost made from the deep litter we use in the coop (for another post–we compost all paper products, junk mail, etc…) But I digress….

     I’d really like to take some snowball savings and invest in some miniature milk goats that I could use for (at least) cheese and maybe milk and yogurt.  So far, I haven’t convinced anyone else that this is a good idea. I’ll let you know….

     Every year, we take some of our savings and invest in more edible landscaping. By retirement, we should have enough fruit and nut trees and bushes to support ourselves without needing to use a grocery store.  In my mind, the ability to feed yourself is insurance. It’s one thing to be poor, it’s entirely another to be poor and hungry. No one need be hungry, even in the city (but more on that in later post…)

     In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of the reader’s lists for what to invest their savings snowball in to help them save MORE money….

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Be Your Own Bank

     Anyone can see that a 700 billion dollar bailout of the banking industry has to have some effect on our schools and pocketbooks.  It will be difficult to pay for these budget deficits with taxes alone—especially if you expect that there will be some loss of jobs due to the economy going south (you figure, there HAS to be some effect there.) I predict that one of the first places that budgets will be cut will be the education system.

     It’s much easier to weather the coming storm if you are in a good financial position. I agree with both Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman about having a couple months pay saved (in a safe bank?)in case of emergency.

     In our case, it has allowed us to be our own bank. If a car needs immediate repair, we are able to pay for it without putting it on the credit card (what we consider to be a loan).


     “Loan” is the f-word in our vocabulary. We avoid paying interest like the plague. While we now have a smallish house loan, we are paying extra each month so as to avoid thousands in interest. I’d rather have that money to invest in things that will improve my quality of living.

 

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Growing Celery and Onions FOR FREE

As I was chopping celery this morning for a classroom experiment, I thought I should share this tip: Save the bottom (root) part of the celery that you cut off. Bury an inch down in a pot of soil and in a few weeks you will have celery cutting to use in your cooking!

I freeze the celery tops in a zip lock bag  (more about how I recycle those later–yes, I AM that frugal) and use them to make broth.  When I have bones from meat that has been cooked, I add my stash of celery, some onions and whatever frozen veggies that wouldn’t be used for a side dish and simmer it with a glub of apple cider vinegar.

 

What’s that for, you say?

 

The vinegar helps to leach some of the calcium from the bones and you are left with delicious AND very nutritious broth. The BEST thing you can eat/drink when you are sick.  But I digress….

 

While I was at it, I did the same for an onion so I could post this tip too—cut off the bottom ¼” of the root end of an onion and bury about an inch down in your garden and you will have lovely, if not onions, greens to use in cooking.  I never throw out an onion bottom anymore. And I always have green onions coming up amongst my vegetables AND flowers.

 

I mean, have you SEEN how expensive green onions are in the winter? After that nasty e-coli breakout in imported green onions last winter, I am very happy to grow my own thank you very much!

 

For Free, no less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Packing a Lunch…or….Pennies Add Up to Dollars

 

There are several ways I save money by taking my lunch that don’t end up costing me too much time.  The last thing I need is one more thing to add to my to-do list!

 

On Sunday, I brew a large pot of coffee. Since I’m the only one who drinks it, I have my first cup and then store the rest in a quart-sized canning jar in my fridge. There the coffee stays fresh and I microwave a cup every morning for breakfast while I get ready for work.  This saves time and money (the cost of electricity.)

 

Also on Sunday, I put several potatoes and eggs in a large pot and bring to a boil and turn off the heat.  When cooled, I have cooked eggs and potatoes to use in many ways. The hardboiled eggs are quick to grab and eat on those early morning bus-duty days or days when school clubs are meeting.  The potatoes can be used for fried potatoes for breakfast, or for topping with chili for a super easy dinner. If there are potatoes and eggs left by Friday, I make potato salad for dinner.  I should note that my eggs are freshly laid on Saturday by our hens.

 

While I could always fall back on school lunches that cost $3.20, I try to have some fallback things at my desk in case I forget to take my lunch. My pennypinching budget plan is to always spend a dollar or less per lunch or breakfast meal. 

 

Frugal fallbacks for me are a jar of peanut butter and a box of crackers, and cans of soup that I buy when they are $.50/can. 

 

One of the healthiest, cheapest and unusual lunches I have eaten often during the fall are sweet potatoes.  I learned this from a dieting teacher friend who would microwave a sweet potato every day for lunch. 

 

When another teacher offered a boxes of sweet potatoes for us, I kept ten in a box in my room closet—dark and cool.  I ate about two a week with salt and butter.  I never had to remember to pack a lunch and they lasted through the winter!! By spring the couple that were left began to sprout –so I planted them and…..

 

Now I have LOTS of sweet potatoes to harvest for my lunches this fall. 

 

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