A Year of Savings: 2013

July 1:  Well Hello, July!  The year is half over and it seems I work more and more to make a savings for us in our household.  Today's work was done in a hurry in the early morning hours.  I'd meant to be home all day but John asked me in the last minutes before a friend arrived to run an errand with him.   I went along with an ulterior motive: I wanted some more of that good fresh corn.  $6 for two dozen ears is what it cost me and worth every single penny.  I've posted already about how I processed it on July 2.

Before we left home I was able to call two agents and get them started on quotes for insurance for our cars.  We've been with the same group for a long time now, but our rates increase every single time the policy comes up for renewal.  We haven't had any violations, claims, or anything to account for those increases.  I felt it was time to check around and I'm glad I did.  We changed companies, with a resulting savings of $456/year.

We went to have some maintenance work done on my car.  The dealership sends out the maintenance reps with a list of suggested fixes.  We looked over the list and at least two of them were basically things we could do ourselves with a very high price tag for having an expert mechanic do it.   One we'd never even heard of so we opted to have the crew take care of that task...Here's what we saved: $35.  When we were back in the car I took out the owner's manual and looked up the other task.  We learned another lesson.  We could have saved a further $60 by doing that ourselves as well and in future we will. Not sorry we spent the money, just sorry we didn't have our manual with us while in the lobby so we could look it up.
*A second note on this...I discovered an article online today that recommended one of those tasks that we paid to have done be done every TWO years...Then I discovered the maintenance record for our car and the previous owner had it done last July as well.  Hmmm....

The service on the car did cost a bit of money but this is one area where we seldom 'feel the pain' of paying.  We set an amount aside each pay period meant especially for maintenance on our cars.  We had all the cash we needed and some to spare for the same work on the other car...and you can just bet we'll be saving that extra $60 when we schedule the maintenance on that one.

We took advantage of the complimentary coffee offered by the dealership rather than buy a soda.  Savings $2.50, cost of two cups of regular coffee.

We were out a good bit later than we'd planned.  One of the tasks I'd been working on when John asked me to go along was making stew.  I'd put in the crock pot instead of using the oven and when we left home I turned temperature to LOW and added a bit more liquid.  I'd also made a carrot and raisin salad and left that in the fridge.  We didn't stop for food on our way home even though we were hungry.  We knew we had a very good meal waiting on us.  What luxury to walk in, wash up and dish up the food.  Had we not had that food at home we'd have surely stopped and bought something at one of the takeout spots.  I estimate savings here of $10 but won't add in, since it wasn't considered.

July 2:  Light housework on my schedule for the day then I went to work processing that corn I bought the day before.  It took a few hours and it was tiring but I got 9 bags of corn to put in the freezer.  This corn is especially good and well worth the effort.  To buy something that just barely compares would mean spending $4 for each package.  I spent $6...I saved $30.

Cornhusks and cobs went outdoors to turn into compost.

While doing my food inventory, I came across a can of Honey Roasted Peanuts we'd bought at Aldi.  Cost about $3 I think, but John didn't care for them.  I noted that the expiration date was fast approaching and wondered what to do with them.  John mentioned one night later, that he was wishing he'd gotten some peanuts the previous week...I brought out the can and he had a handful, but nope, he still didn't care for them.  Back to the drawing board.

Well I made caramel corn, a very easy recipe, also posted on this blog July 2 and it was a HUGE hit with my husband and myself.  My daughter in law tried the recipe in her home that evening and used pecans for the nuts called for in the recipe.  She said it was delicious, too.  My savings $3, getting to use that can of nuts instead of putting them in the trash! The recipe made up about 8 cups of popcorn and nuts.  A box of the store brand stuff is $1.29 on sale for 4 ounces.  Even given the cost of my butter and brown sugar and the envelope of popcorn I used I saved money over the store brand.  Savings of homemade caramel corn: $3.

I'd planned a meatless meal for today but changed it up just a little.  We had Black Beans and Rice.  John bought plantain last week at Aldi and cooked them with butter and brown sugar.  They were so good as a side dish to the beans and rice.  I've learned from experience that a beans and rice meal can be deeply satisfying if it's seasoned well.  Garlic, salt, pepper, and the end slice  (mostly skin) from a smoked turkey breast we buy at Aldi for luncheon meat seasoned the beans to perfection.  They were flavorful and John never misses the meat if the meal is well seasoned.

I made homemade fresh salsa to go with the meal.  Savings $2.79 (accounting for the cost of the fresh tomato and bit of red onion I used).

Made up a batch of turkey salad for sandwich fillers for this week.  I had the cooked thighs in the freezer, thawed one for this meal.  We'll get enough sandwich filling for at least 1 dozen sandwiches.  Savings of my homemade sandwich fillings over luncheon meat: $7.

July 3:  I woke up hungry but the idea of eating just turned my tummy over.  It happens now and then but I know if I don't eat I'll have a headache and be whiny before the morning is over.  I made a smoothie using oatmeal, frozen peach slices and yogurt.  That was just the right mix of carb/protein for me this morning and sipping a smoothie fills me up but doesn't make me feel ill.  My homemade smoothie is low in sugar (only what naturally occurs in the peaches and dairy).  I saved calories and I saved money making it at  home, $3  is what one costs in town.

Mama gifted me with two big green tomatoes this morning.  I haven't found green tomatoes anywhere yet this season so I was pleased to accept them.

Mama and I ran a few errands then went out to eat.  When it's my turn to pay, I cover the costs from my allowance.

Mama wanted to go by the grocery.  I knew that I'd just impulse buy even though I'm out of a couple of items I couldn't get at Aldi, so I stayed in the car.  No cost to sit and wait, no temptation, either.  That meant no regrets, too!

Mama came out of the grocery with 3 boxes of doughnuts she'd found on sale and gifted one to me. 

John had leftovers of stew and carrot raisin salad for his dinner today while I was out.  There was enough for two people of each of those items so he left half of them.  I ate carrot raisin salad and cottage cheese for my supper tonight.  I'll save the stew for him to take to work with him tomorrow.  He can heat in microwave and have a hot meal then. 

July 4:  More summer bounty.  John's co-worker today brought in tomatoes, lovely little yellow onions (perfect size to cook whole in a stew) and a variety of peppers.  I love when people share their summer produce.  John sees no need to garden when the grocery is just packed with food, but to me, garden fresh vegetables just taste sweeter.  I can't count it as a savings, but I definitely count it as a blessing!

Gave myself a pedicure after John left to go back to work at noon.  Savings: $45.

July 5:  Not so much to do today...yet I managed to stay quite busy this morning.  I put up 2 bags of diced uncooked zucchini, 1 bag of cooked squash and onions in the freezer ( set as much aside for a casserole for tomorrow).  I cooked 4 ears of corn in the microwave (2 for today's dinner) and cut 2 cups kernels off 2 of the other cobs to use in weekend meals.  These vegetables were ones I bought so putting them up for future use, saves money $4.

Today's dinner was leftovers and corn.  Not wasting food is a savings, too.

July 6:  Just stayed home.  Our dinner was a portion of those chicken tenders bought this pay period as a manager's special with fresh squash and tomatoes as sides.  An easy quiet day, with good music playing in the background, blogs to peruse on the computer, magazines to inspire...No money spent, but what a pleasurable day it was all the same.

Went through magazines this afternoon, nearly all of them gifted to me by Mama (2nd hand) or purchased with MyCokeRewards points.  I gathered inspiration, coupons, helpful articles.  In coupons alone I gathered enough to pay for an annual subscription to one of the magazines.

July 7:  Shopped the pantry: 1 bag of coffee, 1 can evaporated milk, 1 can of Turkey Spam, 1 bag of cornmeal, 1 box of matches.  To purchase these things would easily have cost me $20 at the grocery but I daresay I paid less than 1/3 of that when I purchased them on sale and stockpiled them.  Savings $12.

John brought in the Sunday paper this morning.  I found a coupon hiding among the regular paper sheets valued at $10.  It pays to look over every single page when you get these papers, even if you're not interested in the news!

Looked over sales sheets and circled every good purchase and possible deal. I'll go over my coupons and compare to see if the deals are worth my cash money.

Made Corn Chowder today.  I used homemade chicken broth that I'd frozen (savings of $2), the corn I cut from the cobs on Thursday, and some canned milk (rather than cream) that was about to expire (savings $.56) to make the main course for our meal today.  It was so good!

Boiled a big pot full of chicken carcasses from the freezer, along with the tops and root ends of onions,celery and carrots that I'd stockpiled as I prepped vegetables in the kitchen.  So from basically scraps today I 'harvested' 1 cup of chicken meat (the bits from the bones, enough to make salad for sandwiches) and 3 quarts of broth.  Savings:  $7.

Bonus savings:I'll replace one meal of dog food with the skins and bones for our dogs who love these soft boiled bones and bits mixed with end pieces of bread I've kept in the freezer to add to their foodstuffs.  It means I can postpone having to buy dog food by at least one more day when I'll be out running errands.

Total Savings this week:  $622.85

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