Thursday, January 5, 2012
Thrifty Thursday 2012
Hello there and welcome to my first Thrifty Thursday for 2012. You might think I skipped being thrifty over the holidays but I didn't. For me it's a fun sort of game, but more importantly, these things I do WORK at making our budget stretch and stretch. I have a big goal in mind this year: pay off our car. I've already seen that if we're careful we can do it. Now it's my turn to actually put action behind my plan. I won't tell you all I did over the past three weeks, but I will share in my usual weekly format the ways we saved this past week.
Friday: The plan was to go out to breakfast, one of my favorite sort of dates with my husband. He wanted to take me somewhere different, so we headed to the city and discovered that the different place was packed to the gills with spillage out onto the street. We couldn't imagine why, especially since it was Friday and not Saturday, but there we were. It was obvious we weren't going to breakfast there. No problem. We knew of another 'different' in a small town nearby. Only guess what? It was packed out too! So our special date ended up being Burger King, lol! We saved money unintentionally with that breakfast, but we saved money.
John asked what I'd like to do...I felt rather sneaky about it but there was this huge antiques mall right behind the other restaurant...Did I purposely suggest that other restaurant just to be near it? You decide...In the meantime I'll share that I did get a trip into the antiques mall. I came armed with Christmas cash and I followed my own self-imposed rules: any item I bought had to be pretty, useable, and not something I'd shut up in a cabinet. In the end we only walked over about half the place (it's a HUGE thing in an old warehouse with hundreds of dealers). This is what I brought home:
This little baby right here is a real honest to goodness alarm clock that winds up and runs on it's own steam, no batteries included nor needed. Confession time: a couple of years ago my alarm clock went wacky and quit working. We made do with the clock radio, but if it's set to music instead of 'beep' there are at least two people in this house who will sleep right through the music...I'm not sayin' who those two are, but I'm telling you, they will sleep right on.
So I bought a little alarm clock for $5 at Walmart, stuck in a battery and it worked all of maybe three hours. Ever since then I've been using the alarm clock on my digital phone, most assuredly set to "BEEP" and not play musical tones. However, I'd been nostalgic and more lately remembering Granny's habit of winding her Big Ben Westclox each night when we spent the night. And how I wanted one of those clocks! $5, at the antiques mall, in working order, wound it up and walked about listening to the tick tock of the thing next to my ear, until a sales clerk came up and offered to 'hold onto that for' me. And yes, the alarm works,too, but every now and then the time goes off by fifteen minutes or runs ahead a wee bit. Still for $5 it's made me a very happy woman as I wind it at night and listen to the tick tock of it whenever I wake up in the wee hours and I drift right back to sleep. SOooo worth $5!
John was terribly disappointed in our breakfast plans being reduced to Burger King and offered to stop for Chinese on the way home. I still had grocery cash in hand and told him I'd buy it if he'd go to the grocery and pick up eggs and a loaf of bread. A fair swap to keep me from drifting up this aisle and down the next in case any bargains were lurking.
We had enough leftovers for John to take an entree sized portion to work on Sunday.
Saturday: Thursday I'd cooked a large roast and made gravy to go with it. I knew that roast was far too big for John and I to eat by ourselves and I knew we were having dinner after service today. So I sliced the remaining roast, poured over the gravy and sealed it up tight. Side dish? Beans and potatoes, both canned, both from my pantry stash and both expiring this month. I am trying to be very careful about rotating my pantry items and staying ahead of expiration dates.
The gravy over the roast was made with leftover coffee...Yes, coffee was part of the liquid used to make the gravy. I wanted a rich brown gravy and as I stood there thinking of Grandmama's standard seasoning for brown gravy, Kitchen Bouquet, I realized that I was going to have to forgo that lovely brown color I wanted, until my eye fell upon the coffeepot with about 1 cup of coffee left in it...One of my recipes suggested using coffee to cook a pot roast and I figured I might as well use it to make gravy. That was some of the best gravy we've eaten! And everybody at synagogue liked it too because there wasn't enough left to moisten dog food that evening.
We headed right home after synagogue. We were tired, John had to work the next day, I was still hanging on pretty tight to my grocery money which I hadn't spent all week long (except for Chinese takeout). I had plans for our supper so no need to stop anywhere at all and we didn't.
Simple supper: Spoonburgers: browned ground beef and onion and ketchup, cooked together and spooned onto bread or buns. I realized we wouldn't need nearly as much meat as I'd thawed, so I put about half the browned burger and onion aside for a future meal.
Sunday: John took an extra shift of work for the first day of the year. We welcome the opportunity to get a bit of overtime pay.
I had promised Mama to make up the day I 'owed her' as she put it, when we didn't go out to lunch the week before Christmas. She brought me gifts: a quart of strawberries, 1/4 bushel of Honeybell Tangelos and the Sunday paper. Wasn't that awful nice of her? I do appreciate these sorts of useful and consumable items. Oh and she also brought me magazines she'd read through.
We had to go into Walmart after our meal. I didn't want to shop per se, I just wanted to get dog biscuits, flea/tick medication. I grabbed a bag of chips at the front of the store, Walmart brand for $2. John likes a few chips now and then and we had none in the house. Cost for that trip:$22 a savings of about $63 over my old 'set point' amount.
Monday: I was up early, making a nice breakfast for us of toast and Cheese Omelet. Breakfast out is a treat, but breakfast at home is no hardship.
I was making the bed when the wind came roaring in from the Northwest bringing along that arctic chill. We had the propane heat on all day long and it never got over 65F in the house. Still it saved using the electric heat until later in the evening.
Worked on the 2012 budget, better late than never, I thought. Was that an eye opening experience! Well worth getting figures on paper and really looking at where money went and where the potential for future (as in THIS YEAR) savings could be had.
Dinner: Homemade tacos (using that leftover hamburger meat) with homemade shells using corn tortillas.
Went out before dark and wrapped faucets for the winter, plugged in the light we rigged inside the pumphouse (keeps the water above freezing temperature) and battened down the hatches as best we could for the roaring cold night ahead.
Clipped coupons, then sorted and got them in order with those expiring in January at the front of each envelope. Now I'm one step ahead in planning any shopping I mean to do.
Tuesday: John and I piddled about for a bit, him in the music room and me in cleaning mode, until he decided he had to have a haircut...and I knew I could put off grocery shopping no longer. I had a short list: apples, lettuce, bread, milk, cheese. That's what was on my list and that's what I put in the buggy. And then John spied a super sale on unsalted butter, one pound packages priced at 2/$3. Remember what I've said many times before? When you come across a deal BUY IT, it saves more money in the end to do so than to bypass it and wish you'd taken advantage! I bought 8 pounds of the butter, about all I could fit in our wee buggy (shopping cart).
John wanted Boar's Head Baby Swiss which is usually pretty pricey but it was half price with a store card that day, making it less expensive than the sliced, packaged cheese from the big cheese factory. And this is my second tip for saving money: buy the best foods you can...You'll enjoy it, you'll use it all and have no bits and bobs to toss. Premium quality items can be bought in smaller amounts. We usually buy 1/4 pound of really good deli meat and cheeses when we purchase them.
He also wanted doughnuts. There were less expensive brands and store brands but they are inferior in taste and quality. I urged him to buy the premium brand.
Wow! Talk about feeling good. I still had money leftover after paying cash for my groceries. That was last week's grocery money I spent by the way. I still have money for this week!
John treated me to lunch. I treated him to coffee. I had my monthly brew from the coffee shop, a cinnamon latte. I won't have another until next month.
I had two small (really small) steaks I'd bought on sale a couple months ago that I thawed. I cut them in half and made four smaller still steaks for steak and cheese sandwiches for our supper. I had one piece leftover that will go into a steak and egg breakfast for John later this week.
Wednesday: Out with Mama again this day. No shopping, which is a huge savings. We opted for a ride through the country.
Went by the bank and withdrew this week's grocery/allowance money. I had $5 left of last week's money and felt I'd spent wisely and well. I know I must buy cat and dog foods this week for sure. Better to have cash on hand since I do include that in my grocery budget.
Came home and decided to pick up pecans. All the wind Monday had rattled the branches of the tree very well. I had enough to get my five gallon bucket half full. Now I'll take them over to Ft. Valley and have them cracked and shelled at the pecan place.
While I was doing the inventory, I also cleaned and organized the storage areas, making it easier for me to find the foods I have and insuring that I'm not inviting in any pests.
I was inspired by Rhonda this week over at http://ifyoudostuff.blogspot.com/http://ifyoudostuff.blogspot.com/
when she made croutons. I'd been saving my bread end pieces the past couple of weeks (thinking of breakfast casserole). Today while cleaning the fridge freezer, I found not only end pieces but a couple of chunks of bread I'd saved. So I followed right along in Rhonda's footsteps and made homemade croutons...And while I had the oven on low anyway, I went ahead and roasted some pecans and almonds.
A few months back I bought peanuts but grabbed a jar of unsalted nuts which we don't like. When I roasted the almonds and pecans I added a handful or two of peanuts before I seasoned the ones I'd roasted. Now some of those peanuts have just enough salt to be edible. Plans for the rest are to add to homemade caramel corn, but I don't have any corn to pop...that's on the shopping list.
John earned a bit of income for the house today not just by going to work but selling an extra item we had on hand that wasn't being used. We're a little better off for it and someone else is quite happy with their new purchase.
Here's something else I did today that saved money: as soon as the temperature rose to 65 I cut off the propane heat and I put on a sweater when it got a wee bit cool.
I opened up shades and curtains this afternoon and let the sunshine in. I suppose I could call it solar power, because it not only provides light enough to work by but I can skip using heat as well on these sort of mild afternoons. We get plenty of warmth in those windows and that is just a blessing altogether this time of year!
Now, the day isn't over and I'm sure I can still find ways to save if I just get busy...