Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Living on one income in a two income world.

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How does one go about living on one dependable income in what seems to be a two income world?  It's not easy.  Budget, budget, budget, and cut every corner possible.  Hmmm, sounds like prison, right?  WRONG!  It takes some adjusting and getting used to, but it can be done, and fun!

Our family primarily lives on my husband's income.  I sell on various internet sites to supplement, but that is our "extra" cash to pay extra on a bill or two.  Before marrying my husband, I always worked at least one (sometimes two) full time job(s).  When I was pregnant for our first child, we decided to ditch my income so that I could be a stay at home mom.  It hasn't been easy, but here are a few pointers as to why (and how) we did it.

  1. Daycare:  We didn't want to put our child in daycare, which costs approximately $400 per month (I've heard it's a lot more in some areas) and deal with constantly having a sick child.  With me staying home, we were in the doctor's office about twice a year, usually for a check up.
  2. Diapers:  Now, at first we used disposables.  This put a major strain on our budget, so we switched to those fancy all in one cloth diapers.  While they were expensive to buy, we saved a load of cash every month.  My favorite brand is Fuzzi Bunz.  No plastic pants needed, just snap em on and you're good to go.
  3. Meals:  We hardly ever eat out.  I've taught myself how to cook some really tasty meals, and having my kids 11 months apart, I'm in love with my crock pot.  When the babies were little, instead of those expensive jar baby foods, I simply took my cooked meals and ran them through one of those mini chopper food processors.
  4. Telephone costs:  We both have cell phones, but living out in the boonies, signal is not all that great.  We have a very basic local line (we live too far out for vonage).  If I want to talk to someone long distance, I usually send them a text that says something like "hey, call me at home when you get a chance".
  5. Couponing:  Ok, so I'm not one of those "extreme" couponers, but I do use coupons here and there.  I use A LOT of online coupons and deal sites, but I also use manufacturers coupons for everyday items.  One of my best coupon tips is for Dawn dishwashing liquid.  Proctor and gamble will put a coupon for $1 off 1 dawn dishwashing liquid in the sunday paper.  The original formula Dawn is usually on the bottom shelf of Wal-Mart for 0.97 cents.  Viola!  Free dawn!  And guess what?  The cheap original formula works JUST AS GOOD as the "new and improved" stuff.
Now, that's pretty much the main stuff in a nutshell.  I will post more tips as I think of them, but that's the basic 5 we started with.  Do you have tips?  Questions?  Need more tips?  Please leave a comment, I'll be happy to help you!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What's the big deal about Swagbucks?

You may have seen some of your friends post things about Swagbucks on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.  One of my facebook fans asked me to blog about this website, and how what to do with all those Swagbucks.

Swagbucks is a 100% free website that rewards you for searching the internet, completing surveys, printing out coupons, answering daily polls, and so much more.  I have been using their website for two years and LOVE it!  You will not earn swagbucks for every search, you will win some here and there.  "Swagbucks" are virtual "dollars" that are added to your account for random searches on the Swagbucks homepage.  You can then trade in your "swagbucks" for merchandise, wallpapers for your electronics, and e-gift cards.

Here's a brief "tutorial" on how to get some Swagbucks!!

  1. Sign up here for your FREE Swagbucks account.
  2. Click the "Take a Tour" link and watch the video
  3. Visit the "Earn" section and start racking up the Swagbucks!
  4. Once you get enough Swagbucks in your account, simply visit the "redeem" section and "cash" them in!
This is a very easy way to cut your expenses for birthdays and holidays.  I redeem my Swagbucks once a year for Amazon e-gift cards for Christmas presents.  Swagbucks never expire!!

Search & Win

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Adventures in Turkey Pot Pie

Too much leftover turkey? Put it in a homemade pot pie! You will need:

1. Leftover turkey (1-2 C)
2. About 10-12 oz turkey broth, chicken broth, or a can of cream of chicken soup will do in a pinch.
3. 1/4 C sour cream
4. Leftover mixed veggies (1 C), or 1 C thawed frozen veggies, or canned veggies
5. 1 small onion, chopped
6. 1 C pioneer baking mix
7. 1/2 C milk
8. 1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients except the baking mix, egg, and milk in a deep dish pie plate or large cast iron skillet. Combine baking mix, milk, and egg in a separate bowl and mix until blended. Pour over mixture in skillet. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

This is a great way to re-use leftovers. I've done similar recipes with leftover beef soups, chicken, etc. Use your imagination and have fun!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Make money dressing your children

Dressing your children in beautiful name brand clothing doesn't have to cost a fortune.  Matter of fact, you can actually MAKE money off of your kids name brand clothing.

The above image is of a dress that I bought for my daughter at a thrift store.  The bow was a hand me down.  This particular dress is a dress from the popular children's boutique store, Strasburg and would have cost a fortune new.  I purchased it for $3.99 at a local thrift store and she wore it a couple of times to church.

Fast forward to next year.  The dress was too small, so I put it in my eBay store for sale.  I sold this dress and hair bow for $15.00 plus shipping.  Not a huge profit, but after eBay and PayPal fees, I made about $8.00 on this one dress.  You can view the completed listing here:

Now, just imagine if you have a closet full of clothing.  I make enough money selling my children's used clothing on eBay to pay a bill or two.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Frugal Weight Loss For a New You in this New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012!!  Many have resolved to lose weight in 2012, that's awesome!!  You don't have to spend a lot of money to achieve your goals.  I am not a doctor, dietitian, or weight loss professional.  I am, however, a stay at home mom, and a former weight loss counselor.  I used to feel HORRIBLE about the amount my former company charged their clients to put them on a weight loss program.  I will tell you how to reach a HEALTHY goal weight without going to classes, meetings, weigh in's, etc.

1.  Cut your portion size in HALF.  This is easy to do by applying a few tricks:

  • Instead of eating on a big plate, switch to a salad plate.
  • If you order in the drive through, throw out HALF of your meal BEFORE you start to eat.
2.  Eat protein for breakfast.  If you don't normally eat breakfast, Adkins shakes are a great breakfast meal because they are full of protein and are low carb...and they taste great too!

3.  Cut your carbohydrate intake.  Here are a few tricks:
  • Switch from white bread to 100% whole wheat bread.
  • Switch from regular pasta to wheat pasta.
  • Switch from Sugar to Splenda.
4.  Drink 64oz of water per day.  Don't over do the water, you will get bloated.  If you don't like to drink plain water, MIO water enhancer is wonderful, and has zero anything (sugar, calories, etc).  You can find MIO at Wal-Mart, Target, and most grocery stores.

5.  Don't eat a heavy starch with a heavy protein.  Here's a good rule of thumb:  Red with green, white with white.
  • If you want potatoes, eat it with a light protein such as chicken or fish.
  • If you want a steak, eat it with vegetables.
6.  If you have a craving, don't deny yourself, just watch your portion size.  I, personally, am addicted to french fries.  If I'm craving fries, I allow myself a "kid meal" portion in the drive through and eat it mid-day.  Not to say you should do this every day, but every now and then is perfectly fine.

7.  STAY AWAY from bananas and pears until you get the weight off.  These two fruits have a lot of natural sugars.  Once you get to your goal weight, resume eating these.

8.  Switch your milk to skim cow milk or low fat soy or almond milk.

9.  No carbonated drinks or juice.

10.  If you crave sweets for an afternoon pick me up, etc....have two sugar free hard candies.  Make them last.

11.  Don't eat within 1 hour of bed time and try to cook at home.  If you're a mom of small kids, try not to eat their leftovers (come on, we all do it).

12.  Get outside and do some exercise, go for a walk, ride a bike, play with your kids, etc.  Have fun with it, you're more likely to stick to it.

You should expect to lose between 1/2 pound and 1 1/2 pounds per week.  Some weeks will be more, some will be less.  You will hit plateaus, don't get discouraged.  Get plenty of sleep (6-8 hours) per night if you can.

I hope this helps you attain your goals!!  Have a great new year!!