Tuesday, October 1, 2013
A Year of Savings: 2013
We seldom indulge ourselves in rides anymore but John has been very open to just taking any old way at all home if there's plenty of daylight and no weather threatening. We enjoyed a different route home, found a couple of 1830's homes along the way and our route took us only 10 minutes longer than our usual way home. I love exploring my home state and the little roads that go here and there and everywhere. Inexpensive entertainment as well. That ten minutes extra used less than 1 gallon of gasoline.
Sept 22: I'd thought bringing food was optional, especially since we'd signed up to set up but we received an email asking us to bring a side dish and a dessert, as well as a gallon of water or tea. Well I had a poundcake in the freezer, so dessert was easy enough...But what kind of side dish could I make that wouldn't spoil? I finally thought of a favorite potato dish that has tomato, oil, and seasonings. Nothing there to spoil. I even figured I could keep it warm by following an old trick I used at our previous synagogue. If removed from a hot oven, wrapped in a thick heavy towel and put in one of the insulate picnic bags it will stay hot to very warm for hours on end. Done! Extra costs: a can of bug spray (ours was empty) for the evening outdoor concert.
That email also said to bring lawn chairs. John asked, "What will we do? We don't have lawn chairs. Should we go buy some?" I assured him the folding metal chairs from our cafe table on the deck would suffice and be far more sturdy. I loathe flimsy lawn chairs. Savings $20 the cost of two folding lawn chairs.
As we drove to synagogue I pointed out to John how badly worn and faded the white line on the road edge was. I'd been explaining to him how much I loathed driving it in the evening as I came back from Book study classes. "And there are no street lights out here either. It's pitch black and horrid to drive even when there's a little light but in rain it's awful." John decided to drive home from the concert via the closest interstate entrance, just a mile or so from synagogue. I'd never taken that way home. It was well lit, not too heavy on the traffic and though it seemed we'd surely taken the long way home, we timed it. It took the same 60minutes the other route takes. Nice to know there's a very good alternative to the way I'd been going home.
Sept 23: I had four hot dogs and 2 servings of baked beans left from our dinner Saturday. I decided to 'vamp' it up into a leftover makeover of Corn Dog Casserole . I made slaw to go with the meal. I made my cornbread topping from scratch, not from a packaged mix. That alone is a savings of $.99. Not to mention I stretched out my food budget by making very good use of the leftovers.
Made chicken salad and egg salad for sandwiches. Also cooked a corned beef brisket and when it was cool sliced it thin. I portioned the corned beef and the smoked turkey breast I bought last week. I got two packets of corned beef (and enough for sandwiches twice this coming week), egg salad and chicken salad enough for eight sandwiches each, and 6 packets of smoked turkey meat plus the end pieces for seasoning. Savings: $30 and it's highly doubtful I'd get half as many sandwiches from that amount of bought sandwich meat.
Sept 24: Harvest Day and errands, too. I combined a trip to the bank with a trip to the post office, trash dumpster, CVS to spend ECBs that were about to expire. I combined coupons, sales, and my stash of ECBs to bring my total DOWN. There were lots of items I put back on shelf, too, a savings in and of itself. I didn't purchase a substitute for items that were out of stock. I saved $14.
Reheated leftovers for our dinner and made a salad instead of purchasing take out as I usually will do on Tuesday. Savings $10.
Made croutons from bread I had in the freezer. Baked in the oven alongside the leftovers. Savings $1.
Sept 25: My day out with Mama. Today we went to the grocery...doesn't sound much like fun? I bought several items on clearance or sale priced that we'd normally purchase. Turkey sausage for $1.99/savings $4 on two packages. Nathan's hot dogs $3 each/savings $8.96 on four packages. Store brand butter $1.99/pound. I saved $6 over the price of Aldi's butter! I bought a 20 pack of Dr. Pepper for $5/savings $1.80 over cost of a 12pack. I found a nice big chicken on sale for $1.00/pound, too.
I stayed away from all the aisles except for the soda aisle. I walked the perimeter of the store only and saved loads of money just doing that.
Sept 26: We have company coming in this evening. I just was not feeling up to making Challah for our Shabat. I also needed a plastic tablecloth to go on our floor for grandbabies messes while they were eating. I'd picked up one at Publix last year for $5 and found another for the same price. It's actually a table protector to go under a tablecloth but is very sturdy and thick stuff, perfect for toddler messes. I bought some apples and grapes for fresh fruits to have in the house and that was that. No more spending for this week. The groceries bought yesterday and today will come from next two weeks' budget amount.
I incorporated two thrift store stops in my rounds. I remained within my allowance amount (with a bit leftover).
I made few plans for meals this week. I bought Fried Chicken at the grocery on sale (savings $2) and made potato salad when I came in. I opened two cans of green beans and we had a very nice meal.
I made brownies as a treat. Knowing that we'd never eat them all, I halved the recipe.
Sept 27: I spent $1 on a foam numbers puzzle for the children a couple of weeks ago while I was in Target. That puzzle got a huge workout these past two days. They've counted them, fitted them into the puzzle, made 'numbers soup' with them, fought over them, hidden them. Those little foam numbers and that puzzle form have stood up to the tugs and tussles very well and certainly were worth purchasing!
Meals stayed simple today. Lori and Jd brought dinner in for us tonight. We put up 1/2 of a very generous portion of one of the meals for the children. Lori suggested I have it for supper tomorrow night and I think I will.
Sept 28: That big chicken I bought on sale was cut up this morning. I portioned that hen into ten portions, cooked the neck and back in a pot of boiling water with the onion skin, root end and bottom from the onion that I used in my main dish. I split the very large wishbone into two pieces and put that aside to roast with the two thighs. My main dish was Arroz Con Pollo. Our company left before dinner, so I had enough Chicken and Rice for two meals (one portion went into the freezer), 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth, 1 cup boiled chicken meat, and the thighs and wishbones for another dish. That's a lot of mileage from that little chicken! I spent $5 on it and have gotten 4 meals worth of meat from it plus the broth to use in soup.
I brought a jar of roasted red peppers from my pantry to open and use in the Chicken dish, but then I thought of the lovely peppers I'd bought at Aldi this past week. I roasted the red one over the flame of my gas stove and then diced it to add to the rice. Goodness! It was so easy and delicious and tasty. And I was able to restore my roasted red peppers to the pantry shelf and save them for a day when red peppers are too pricey for words. Savings: $2.49
Shopped my pantry for a can of pineapple, a bag of coffee, a package of brown sugar.
Despite setting aside the half portion, there were a good bit of leftovers (mostly bread and french fries) from our meal. I put all those aside to feed the dogs. I was able to half their usual amount of dogfood. In addition I poured over the food the water from soaking the chicken pan, and the oils that drained from the roasting chicken.
Washed a full load of dishes after sundown this evening. I included the thrift store items I'd bought on Thursday to help fill the dishwasher completely full.
I added $20 in gift cards to my Amazon fund. I was able to order my perfume after a couple of month of being out. I don't know just why the costs increased so. It used to be I could buy a bottle for $20 or so but lately I'm very lucky to find it for $50 a bottle. I saved my gift cards from Swagbucks for a 6 weeks to earn enough to order the perfume! However, that is a savings of $25 (the additional $5 went on my Starbucks gift card. I treat myself to a 'free' cup of coffee each month from Swagbuck earnings.
Sept 29: The weather was so mild that we cut off the AC and opened the windows. It didn't get really warm in here until nearly 4pm. That's typical for our home. That western sun seems to warm things up a lot. We closed windows and turned on AC to keep things at 77f, otherwise the house feels very stuffy and uncomfortable and doesn't cool off again until the wee hours of the morning. Still...We were without AC for about 20 hours. A nice savings for us.
John picked up the mail from Saturday on his way out last night. When I opened the envelopes I was happy to show him my check for another survey group. I earned/am saving it to pay on our hopefully soon to be built back porch. savings $18.
I cashed in points on a third survey site this week and am having it sent to me in Amazon gift cards. That's another $15. I've already decided what I'll do with it.
Made a pot roast for our dinner. I sliced the meat and portioned it and set aside the broth, a few leftover vegetables (potatoes and carrots mostly) for another meal of Roast Beef Hash to be served later this week. That roast is going to cost us less than $1 per serving when I've finished with it.
Made a sliced tomato and lettuce salad to go along with our meal, too. I drizzled a few dots of pesto over the salad as a dressing. I bought pesto earlier this summer and knowing I'd never use it all before it spoiled, I froze it in ice cube trays and then packaged it up. It's a tiny bit dry but comes to life with the addition of a little olive oil and tastes so fresh and wonderful.
I pared and sliced apples to go with our meal Friday night. The grandchildren really love apples. I was overzealous in slicing. The adults didn't eat any as I'd thought they might. I tossed the apples with a bit of lemon juice water to keep them from darkening then put in a plastic bag in the fridge. Today I used a portion of the Challah from Shabat night to make fresh bread crumbs and combined with the apple slices to make Apple Brown Betty. I wish I could've bottled the aroma of apples and cinnamon, pot roast and fresh autumn air that wafted through my house as dinner cooked today! Savings $2 for the apples.
Washed two loads of clothes and hung to dry.
Decided to freshen the look of my guest room for the new season. I switched comforters, but will leave the curtains and bed skirt I've been using for summer.
Sat down to bring my grocery budget sheet up to date. Last month I spent $410. I budgeted to spend $350, but I noted that I stocked up on pet foods that were on sale, as well as chicken breasts (which I repackaged last week and forgot to mention. Two of the breasts were so big they looked like turkey breast halves! I cut those in two halves each (as I did all the breasts for a total of 18 from 9 breasts). I marked the two packages with such huge halves as XXL so I'd know what to expect. I thawed one and cut one half into two boneless skinless breasts and the boiled the other half for the chicken salad I made earlier this week. I also bought turkey sausages (we can only buy them at one store and it happened to be the same one where I bought the chicken breasts on sale) and stocked up for the coming month. I could account for every penny of the overage and felt satisfied that while I might have gone over we didn't waste money on useless items. And it's going to pay off. This coming week I have a very very short list of needs. I'll use the 'extra' from this pay period to restock our supply of beef.
Looked over our budget sheet (October is the beginning of a new quarter). I noted we've done well this last quarter. I had noticed our gasoline costs had increased (prices not quantity of miles) and adjusted that figure, was pleased to note that we went over our electricity amount by only $10 once this summer. I adjusted the car insurance amount (savings of $22 each month now we've changed policies). I was right on budget target for groceries two months (July and August). We paid extra on our car loan each month courtesy the small amounts of overtime John was allowed. All in all, it was a tough quarter but we seem to have managed very well.
Sept 30: Washed two loads of clothes and hung one and one half loads to dry. The item I put in the dryer was the stretchy slipcover that goes on my old blue recliner (which isn't blue when it's covered).
Pulled the stored draperies and shams and bed skirts out of the closet to see if I could locate the shams that match the guest bed comforter. No luck. Did however, note that a previously purchased thrift store skirt and my old gold curtains would go with my Cathedral Window quilt that I have on our bed. That will be a nice 'new' look for the coming season in our room. Love this no cost decorating.
Made creamed chicken with the roasted chicken and meat from the back and neck. I added onions and mushrooms to the mixture. This extended it still further. I had enough leftovers to fill a 4 serving chicken pot pie when I added in the leftover portion of peas from our side dish. That's yet another 2 servings from that little hen...Oh how they do stretch! I've fed the dogs the bones and skin from the thing, too, as well as the pieces I rendered fat from to brown the chicken for the Arroz con Pollo. Including the dogs portion I can easily say this chicken has netted me ten servings (and I still have the broth to use!). That's about $.50 a serving so far.
We had open windows all morning long and until about 2:30 this afternoon. The pay off of having shut the windows a little earlier is that the AC cut off a lot earlier this evening. More electric savings!
I wanted to hang wreaths on my door but the trouble was that I really disliked one of the wreaths. It was a gift and a pricey one but I just didn't care for it. I examined it thoroughly this evening to determine why. The base is a twig wreath which I really like and there are acorns and silk autumn leaves, which I also like. I don't even mind the very unobtrusive lights on the thing (they blend in nicely with the wreath. I finally concluded it was little to do with the wreath and a great deal to do with the oddly colored pumpkin and gourds which were all rendered in maroon, gray and brown. They looked nothing like real ones and detracted mightily from the wreath. I removed them and was very pleased indeed with the wreath. It's now hanging on the back door. I figure I've got nothing to lose in trying to repaint these items into more believable colors. If they turn out okay and if they don't I still have an attractive wreath. I was inspired to attempt this after reading this post at TenThingsFarm. Scroll down to the end of the post where she shows her before and after of the entryway Welcome mat.
Total for September: $387.80