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Category Archives: Lavishly Frugal

My dear princess, let me just say– you deserve it all. Let’s talk about it.

Frugally Healthy

I’m not going to tell you to buy vitamins and food that you can’t afford. I know what it’s like to wash towels in the bathtub because there were no quarters for the machine. If there isn’t money for laundry, there certainly isn’t money for grass-fed beef. I have been there. So that is why my top advice for budget living is to be as healthy as you can. Here are some ideas to stretch those dollars:

1. Sleep!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so do what you can to not get sick. A visit to the doctor would blow our family budget in a minute. Be well-rested so the body can recharge on its own. Cost: Free.

2. Water.

If coffee and other beverages are taking over, let the body to adjust to simple water. Maybe not cold-turkey, but do your best. Water flushes out toxins. Toxins make you sick. Cost: Water filter cartridges as needed.

3. Supplements …

… but only if you can afford them. Food first. Don’t buy vitamins if you can’t afford good food. We don’t. Cost: Do what you can afford.

4. Healthy Food.

This one is tricky. Health food is expensive. You just do your best. We know it’s cheaper and healthier to make your own than to buy ready-made. Be careful not to eat unhealthy food that can destroy your health. In a perfect world, a healthy diet will have all the vitamins and minerals you need; no supplements required. Cost: For a family of 6, that may be $400-$1000/month. (If you have less than $400 available, and it’s not being used irresponsibly in another category, you are probably eligible for assistance.)

5. The outdoors.

This one is a great way to destress, get vitamin D from the sun, and experience some natural exercise. Cost: Free.

6. Plug your ears.

If someone is quizzing you on whether you are buying the right things, and you know it’s not in the budget, don’t receive it. It’s stressful. Stress can make you sick. File #13. Cost: Free

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Getting some healthy rays while we eat al fresco.

Being healthy is the best thing you can do your budget. You will be able to work better and avoid the cost of sickness. Do your best. And most importantly, know that you can, because you are wonderfully and fearfully made.

Toilet Paper and Seedling Time! To save a few pennies…

Toilet Paper and Seedling Time! To save a few pennies…

This year I am keeping it simple. (Work hard, but not get carried away.) Our garden was prepped last fall with compost and chipbrush. I am praying and believing for soil that is rarin’ and ready to go by Last Frost.

Our first batch of seedlings are in the windowsill, in homemade newspaper boxes. Easy and free. I also have eggshell cups waiting for the smaller seedlings, when it is time to start those.

The seeds are all heirloom seeds I saved from the last couple years. Praise God for that! God invented sustainability.  (What are heirloom seeds? non-genetically-modified seeds; the plants they produce will give seeds that can be saved to produce after their own kind. The seeds and seedlings from the store are usually gmo, and will be good only for one growing season. If you save the seed from your gmo plants, you will get an inferior or failed crop the next time around.)

What was my other money-saving tip? Huh? Oh, yeah…

Hubby and I decided that toilet paper is entirely too unhealthy, non-sustainable, and EXPENSIVE, so I went ahead and purchased Soft Spray  (pronounced “biday”) http://products.mercola.com/toilet-bidet/ It was our Valentine’s Day present. I know! So romantic. It was what I WANTED 😛

Don’t worry, we will also continue to keep TP on hand How do I feel about the bidet? I love it, but it is a spraying hazard. Picture trying to get a 3-year-old’s cute little bum all the way back to the right spot on the potty. Ha! The water goes spraying straight up into the air. Everyone gets wet, and all in the wrong places. So, the learning curve is happening.

Overall, I really like the Soft Spray Bidet. Definitely an investment.

Cheers!  To clean bums and happy gardening.

Update, 6/2016. The bidet is not all that. Oh well.

My Best Money Savers

My Best Money Savers

Absolute  money savers in my world:

 

 

  1. Shop once monthly. Period. Every purchase has to be preplanned, very thoughtfully. Food, clothing, etc. Once the decision is made, it has to last a month!
  2. If it can be made, make it. (Some things don’t make it to the budget. Forgot to budget in a birthday gift for great-great Aunt Clarabella-Darling? DIY picture album, full of loving notes from Your’s Truly. Etc.) Lotions, soaps, makeup, toothpaste, lunches, wine, coffee, pizza? Make it. Decorative crafts? Don’t make it unless it is a hobby that truly fulfills you 🙂
  3. Ugly floors are beautiful in comparison to a credit card balance.
  4. Stuff– we don’t need it. Our world tells us we need new clothes. Last time I checked, I can barely fit the clothes I have into our closets. They are not the most stylish, but they are certainly functional. This year we give ourselves the smallest clothing budget we have ever had. I’m kind of excited! Love a challenge.
  5. Credit cards are for fuel and medical emergencies. I am a lot more conscious about putting in an Amazon order, knowing it is coming from our checking account. I once over-drafted, and I don’t want to go there again!

Basically, these money-saving tips are mind games that work, at least for me.

Those dandelions in the dish are tantalizing! Have you ever had dandelion omelet? Come on over sometime, as soon as winter is over, when there are fresh (and free!) beauties spring up for us to enjoy.

Here is to paying off a lot of debt, saving, and stocking up on things that really matter.

Cheers!

Frugal Fails

Frugal Fails

 

 

 

 

Failures of frugality. Bursting my bubble.

  1. Trying to do everything yourself in order to save money, but got overwhelmed and forgot to pay a bill, bring that coupon, turn off the stove?
  2. Renting a movie, then finding that same one for free at the library, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Youtube, or in your own private library.
  3. Nothing like having clothes fall apart in public! Clothes should be cheap, but not cheaply made. Key is natural fibers like wool, cotton and leather for long-lasting wear.
  4. Did you ever take a trip, intending to ‘muscle through,’ but you got so tired you lost your way, drove in circles for a few hours, and ended up staying at a random (and rather expensive) hotel? Been there.
  5. GPS is too expensive. So are smart phones. Again, with the getting lost. If I could take back all the hours and gallons of fuel from driving in circles, I could buy 3 smartphones, and a GPS for each vehicle.
  6. Skipping vitamins in the name of frugality = probably get sick more often = lost wages = doctor visits (I. If you can’t afford vitamins, drink cod liver oil. II. If you can’t afford cod liver oil, get  food in its most whole form possible to retain nutrients; III. Do both of options even if you do take good vitamins)
  7. Thrift stores are often over-priced; but it’s definitely better than buying full price!
  8. Thrift store finds are only frugal if you actually need the item…
  9. Chickens like free post-dated bread, but they won’t lay as many eggs! Give them some protein.
  10. Apparently, simmering cinnamon sticks and apple juice to improve the post-fish dinner aroma is not a frugal way to freshen up the house–if you can’t remember to turn off the stove.

Try again.

Cheers 😉

Services I No Longer Pay For

Services I No Longer Pay For

Dry cleaning and a few other chores one can do just as well at home; how is the quality? Sometimes, one can decide that good enough is good enough; some services one may opt to skip completely; and for the rest… save it for a professional.

  1. Hair care; I cut my family’s hair, including my own. I decided that I would be ok with the occasional “oops!” for the return of saved time and money. (I used to color my hair too, but no longer want the chemicals, nor do I have the time.) I actually get compliments on my hair a lot, which tells me that I must be doing something right. https://westernwoman.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/cut-your-own-hair/ https://westernwoman.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/cut-your-own-hair-short/
  2. Carwashes; we pay for it only in freezing weather (which is most of the time in Minnesota!) We wash our own cars as long as the hose works.
  3. Food Service; Yes, I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it, because I used to spend so much money on restaurants and coffee shops! Can someone explain to me why? I much prefer my own cooking, anyway. And on rushed days–I can make a mean PB&J sandwich, and a travel mug of rich, dark coffee that makes my Spanish roots proud.
  4. Cable TV; ok, we have never actually had TV. You can watch or read pretty much anything online! Just to say, we don’t subscribe for TV, newspapers, magazines, etc.
  5. Carpet cleaning; We have a carpet steamer. With kids, that is an investment! In my perfect world, we will no longer have carpets, just a few throw rugs and cozy furs.
  6. Home improvement; we have never actually hired out, but I just thought I’d mention that we are personally responsible for all our painting, flooring, insulation, etc. That is part of home-ownership. May as well jump in the deep end.
  7. Lawn-care; in progress… We are so pleased with our friend who does our lawn, but we are working on having a riding lawn mower ready for the spring, as we really need to be saving where we can. We also handle our own trees.
  8. Dry cleaning; Totally DIY! (Spot clean first; Put your items in a zippered pillowcase with a wet washcloth with about 12 drops of essential oils–I like cedarwood with a hint of lavender; Dryer on gentle cycle for 30 minutes; Check for any mending, use the steamer if needed, and it’s done; minus the toxic chemicals of conventional dry cleaning.) Are you in love?
  9. Plumbing; you can trouble-shoot a couple things, but save most of it for a professional! Do I need to draw pictures?
  10. Electrician work; that is the job of a professional! ZZzzzzzttttT!

The more we learn to handle ourselves, the more we are prepared for life in general. Sustainability? Yes, we have our stores of supplies, which we add to every month. But, even more importantly, we are learning to take care of ourselves, rather than be dependent on society. This saves money, and is a vital step in preparedness.

Happy self-servicing!

Things I No Longer Buy

The frugal side of me always wonders, “can I make that?” There are a lot of things I have learned to make myself, or simply do without. I try to learn just one product at a time. Also, I like to simplify recipes whenever possible. Remember, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.)
1.Toothpaste http://wellnessmama.com/5252/remineralizing-tooth-powder-recipe/
2.Lotion http://www.recipenet.org/health/recipes/beauty/perfect_ceam.htm
3.Chapstick http://wellnessmama.com/7055/homemade-lip-chap-recipe/
4.Eye Cream (straight shea butter, coconut or olive oil, whatever is on hand.)
5.Dry shampoo http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/homemade-dry-shampoo-dark-light-hair/ (I keep it very basic, just arrowroot or cornstarch, cocoa, and lavender.)
6.Hair Conditioner (vinegar water rinse.)
7.Shaving Cream (Lathered soap or a little oil)
8.Deoderant http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2013/01/homemade-all-natural-deodorant.html (I haven’t gotten there yet, but when I run out I will try this recipe.)
9.Skin cleansers, exfoliators, and lotions (A tub of sugar and olive oil, scrubbed gently from head to toe. A light rinse, and the body has been exfoliated and moisturized. A quick spraying down of the shower may be in order…)
10.Loose Face Powder (cornstarch or arrowroot powder, tinted with cocoa powder according to your skin tone.)
11.New Clothes (I no longer buy new. I really don’t need anything, but if I did, the thrift store is where I would go. Socks and underwear must be new, though–I draw the line there.)
12.Household Cleaners (vinegar water for most cleaning, or a mixture of vinegar water and LOC–Liquid Organic Cleaner from Amway. Other cleaners (straight baking soda, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide usually does the trick. I still buy Bioquest Laundry Detergent and Dish Drops, which are very good for our private septic.)
13.Coffee Shops (I no longer feel the need. I can out-barista any coffee shop out there. Total waste of my money–unless I am running on zero sleep, then “yes please.” The same goes for restaurants. I truly enjoy my own home and my own cooking.)
14.Gym (with my fitness license, I can’t justify paying for that anymore. Also, it is so fun to explore the many fitness DVDs, most of them available for free through Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, or the library!)
15.Tanning salon (I no longer…)
16.Eggs (Because I have my own chickens! Dreams do come true.)
17.Prepared Food (I prepare everything myself. It is not very hard, and so much nicer. Remember, one thing at a time.)
18.Vanilla (This is on my list to make! Vanilla beans and vodka. http://www.beanilla.com/blog/homemade-vanilla-extract?gclid=CMqO5f7H_7sCFY47Mgodo1EAJA)
19.Gift bags (reuse, recycle. If you don’t have a gift bag to reuse, it is a good joke to wrap something in newspaper. The thrift store is also a great for baskets to arrange gifts in.)
20.Cards (If I have something cutesy to say, I write it out myself. A nice card might be $3.99 or more. A photo also works well in lieu of a card, or one of the littles can always be employed to make a beautiful card for Auntie Ruthie someone)

Just a few of the things I have grown out of buying! What do you make? What have you given up?

Christmas Budget: 10 Ways to Save

Christmas Budget: 10 Ways to Save

We are not poor, but why should we pretend to have money to burn? Christmas boot ornament

 

 

Some ways I am saving this season;

  1. Finding a budget and sticking to it. In our case, about $50 for us, the same for Operation Christmas Child.
  2. Shoeboxes: We wanted to give the same away as we keep for ourselves. We were able to fill our shoeboxes full on a budget by finding items we already had. You can use things like new TY bears, etc. I also dipped into our personal food budget and donated some packaged dried fruit to the boxes.
  3. Myself and my husband love quality time, especially with his occupation taking him to North Dakota for the majority of the time. You have to think if your giftee’s love language is gifts, or something else. We chose very small, practical gifts for each other. Socks and slippers. We will get creative and give each other something else besides that doesn’t cost money. It may include a movie, massage, popcorn, and more quality time!
  4. The girlies are easy to please. Sparkly, fancy, and lots of (recycled) wrapping. I ordered them each a fancy fan for about $4. I also have a free dollhouse coming their way from my friend Nancy who cleans houses. She has scored me a number of free things, which is a blessing! I might also find some other little presents for them–free items I already have, or that I can make. I think they would like a chocolatey treat as well.
  5. For friends and family, I try to be mindful of who needs a gift?  Again, love language. My sis Ruthie is big on giving and receiving gifts, so it is super-fun to give things to her. The rest of the family may or may not get something. A hostess gift is always nice, but I like it to be something very useful, like a consumable item. Food, wine, artisan soap, etc.
  6. Gift exchange is the way to go for the extended family. We will do a White Elephant Gift Contest. Whoever gifts the funniest, most outrageous, worst gift will get a prize! The prize will probably be a dressed rabbit, some fresh eggs, or something I can produce. Someone suggested the winner gets all the white elephant gifts, but I draw the line. No one has room to store that much stuff!
  7. Consumables  are great, because everyone loves free food, lotions, etc. and it will save them money, rather than giving them something they were not planning on buying (or maybe the didn’t even want it!?) Cheese, homemade bread, preserves, wine, coffee, chocolate, fresh eggs, fresh produce artfully displayed in a basket… all of these are a very nice gift that will almost certainly be loved. Remember, your giftees are probably on a budget too, and the little extras to put on the table help out!
  8. DIY:  Remember the space issue. If someone is short on space, don’t give them a wall hanging or a knickknacks for the mantel, unless you just know them that well! Can I stress Consumable? I will be making wine (pretty, frugal, and fun; be discerning, because not everyone drinks wine); Fresh Bread is always a hit; Cheese is fun, easy, and not too expensive to make; I will be gifting some dressed rabbits, fresh eggs, and eggnog. If I get really ambitious, I may DIY some Christmas tree ornaments as well–frugal and commemorative, but not something that will add clutter to someone’s room if they are limited for space.
  9. Go green! Anything you give will need to be stored somewhere. Does your giftee have room for it? Also, is it wrapped with a lot of plastic? Shop smart, or don’t shop at all. If it might go in the landfill, don’t waste your money. If possible, buy used. It’s ok, really. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, then buy something consumable–always a safe bet. Sometimes you can give something you already own, like a clothing item to a sister (we always do this! So fun!) or a family keepsake. Save money and the environment at the same time.
  10. Last of all, give a gift of time. Coupons for back massages, decorating or painting a room, babysitting, etc. are amazing. I have only ever received a couple of those, and would love to see some more come my way! Free, fun, and totally my love language.

If someone in your life is worthy of a gift, be creative. Figure out their love language before stressing about what they might want–that only makes sense! Some people simply need the cash. Others really would prefer an intangible gift. But don’t burden yourself with something out of your price range. Do what works for you.016

Meat Rabbits

Meat Rabbits

Sustainability was never simpler. Rabbits taste good, require very little upkeep, and they “breed like rabbits.” We have had the rabbits for a few weeks and already have our first kits. I will not offer suggestions at this point on how to start out, as there is plenty of information out there; check youtube, books from the library, etc. I will tell you that the meat really does taste like chicken, they are lower maintenance that chickens, and they are easier to slaughter than chickens. (Think about plucking feathers… Our layer hens will be a once-in-a-blue-moon stew hen when they get old, and plucking won’t seem so bad if it doesn’t happen all the time. For our current needs, it does not pay for us to buy a plucking machine.)

So how does one actually eat something they raised? Hmmm. Do you feel better about eating something that was raised inhumanely, eating who-knows-what? I cannot afford to pay premium prices for ethically raised meat. I have financial goals! If the quality of meat, price, and sustainability is worth it to you, then you are strong enough to program your mind. In most cultures and centuries past, the idea that “you can’t eat your pets!” would have been a silly and irresponsible notion.

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Michael and the girls move the rabbits to their new home. The whole endeavor is fun and educational for the whole family.

 

 

026Newborn rabbits are naked, and warmly bundled in a thick nest of mama rabbit’s fur. In a few days, they will have thick coats themselves. The kits should be handled carefully to help them become tame. Caged animals need a lot of affection. The alternative is to let them run wild, but most likely (in our neck of the woods) fall prey to coyotes and hawks.

 

 

030My amazing husband Michael built this wonderful rabbit hutch. He adapted plans from youtube, and from our helpful neighbor. I helped with the painting, and have the scrapes to prove it. How does one get hurt painting? Well… I did. No matter.

They did a wonderful job! It looks pretty and is functional. A hutch does not have to be this fancy. You can find the plans online or make your own.

If you have the resources, bigger is better. Give them space to run if you can. Otherwise, give them a lot of love if they have a smaller area. Kits (baby rabbits) get a quality life before they are big enough for slaughter.

Check Craigslist! We found a send hutch for free (to use when the kits are ready to leave their mama)! Google the breed of rabbit for the appropriate sized hutch.

A rabbit needs clean water and food every day. They are messy (they seem to think it is a great joke to poop and pee in their feeding dishes!) so they require daily maintenance. They love apples, carrots, and leaves. Their diet is primarily alfalfa. You can buy bags of feed at the farm supply store,  or connect with local farmers for 3rd crop alfalfa and timothy grass.

We have 5 does and 1 buck. We plan to rotate the buck around, giving each doe a 3 month break in between breedings. incest is not an issue for meat rabbits. (Show rabbits are more picky as far as lineage, but we are not worried about that.)

Killing, skinning, and butchering is quick and easy. Here is one of many youtubes on the subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpDmHG_8pwE

Some of your guests will not like to know they are eating rabbit. If they assume it is chicken, it is ok not to say anything. Your picky friends will know better than to ask!

More updates to come.

Mini-Pizzas “Save” the Day

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Most pizza experiences happen when (A) rushed day prompts someone to order in, (B) someone thought ahead and bought frozen pizzas, (C) someone didn’t think ahead and gets stale gas station pizza, or (D) someone makes it from scratch for a lucky crowd. We have a cheaper option to help clear out the fridge, save some time, and definitely save some money.

Today my sister and I looked in the fridge and determined to use up the odds and ends, without starting a brand-new meal. The result? Yummy leftover soup and perfect, delicious personal pizzas to go with our movie.

We laid out whatever bread was in the pantry on a baking pan, and spread them with things like pizza sauce (from the pantry) and spicy cream cheese (close to expiration date.) They got sprinkled with bits of mushroom, cilantro, garlic, red pepper, olives, cheese, oregano… Really, anything that we already had that sounded good.  (My daughters didn’t go for all the toppings, I confess. I’m still learning; however, the rest of the family offered rave reviews.)

The broiler is great! 5 minutes and you’re done. (Much faster than frozen pizza, ordering in, etc.)

Happy saving. But don’t expect to save any leftover pizzas–these go fast.

Cheers,

Western Woman

Are You Hungry? $$$

http://jupitercity.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/silent-sunday-glass-of-water/Are you really hungry? Frugal minds ask this question, as well as those conscious of health and weight management (which are really one and the same.) Thirst may often be mistaken as hunger. I have saved myself many unneeded snacks (therefore money) by drinking a tall glass of water–just in case–before sitting down to eat.

While I am always eager to offer nutritious, yummy food to my family and friends, I often answer my children (and myself!) with the question, “Are you thirsty?”

When we wake up in the morning, before anyone may eat breakfast, we all drink water.

Throughout the day, my girls may not eat snacks or meals if they have not finished their water. This is particularly true for my eldest daughter, who gets dry skin perioudically from forgetting to drink enough. As soon as we are hydrated, I load everyone up with plenty of delicious food to fill tummies and satisfy nutritional needs.

Pregnant women like me may naturally crave extra water, which works out just fine. But not everyone is blessed with the urge to stay hydrated. Drink up, and make sure your family does, too.

Save some $ and improve your health.

Cheers,

Western Woman