Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Creating a household manual

A household manual is a collection of information to run your home. It can include any number of things, from cleaning schedules to bill records to medical records. Originally I got this idea from the Flylady,  but I am tweeking it to fit our needs.
I had one of these long ago and let it fall by the wayside and when I went to send out my Christmas cards this year I realized I had lost my address book, and if only I had kept up with my manual I would have had the information there to use. I was kicking myself for having to call my in laws to get their address, so here goes a new attempt to get one of these going.
For me the sections will be
1 Cleaning schedules and checklists
2 Family calendar, including all family activities, appointments and birthdays
3 Addresses and contact info for family, doctors, contractors etc
4 Bill payment schedule,budget and a place to hold current bills
5 Menu plan, or rotating list of dishes
6 Price book for local grocery stores
7 Useful extraneous info like what goes on sale at what time of the year

Do you use a household manual? What sections do you have? What did you originally include that you now realize was not useful, or what do you wish you had included from the start?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Homeschooling on a budget

I will admit I am new to homeschool, and my child is very young, so what works for us may not work for your family. I have searched for and found lots of resources on homeschooling for free or at low cost (without jeopardizing your child's education of course.
Right now the free resources we use regularly are
1-The Library
Our local library has an art and story time for children my daughter's age that she really likes and a lot of the books I use with her come from there are well. Also, luckily our local branch has a large selection of homeschooling books, from many different methods.
2- The Internet-
This one is vast, and there are many sites I like, here are a few.
Starfall is a phonics early reading site that both my daughter and I like, and in part is the reason she knows her ABCs in capital and lowercase and phonetically before age 2. It is an amazing site and will follow through with her to early reading.

DLTK has lots and lots of printables and coloring pages.

Ambelside Online is an entire K-12 free Charlotte Mason curriculum.

Prekinders is a great site for both resources and ideas.

3. Other Homeschoolers

I have a few links on my blog for other bloggers that homeschool and often they have lessons available at reasonable prices or for free.

Overall, like just about everything else, you can spend lots of money homeschooling on boxed curriculum and the like, but right now we are really enjoying the free resources we have access to and she is learning quickly and well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Being frugal when no one around you is

I find it hard when I am with friends and extended family sometimes as their spending habits are different than mine in so many ways. A lot of the people I know choose to spend first on a whim and then regret it later. Or alternately, they just have a much higher fun money budget than I do and blowing money on something seems like no big deal to them. It is hard for them to understand that we just don't want to drop $35 on a movie and snacks for the two of us when that money could be used so much more wisely in other places.
Here are some things I have tried to remember and tips I have tried to use when being around people who do not have frugal attitudes.
1- Remember being frugal is not for everyone. Saving money I see as an integral part to my job in the home. I spend time each week looking for the best deals and how to get the most out of what we have, but not everyone wants to do that, or feels they don't have the time.
2- Telling the truth sometimes works wonders, but can be boring. For instance, just telling your family member or friend that the dinner out or whatever is not something that is in your budget that week.
3- If for whatever reason you don't feel comfortable telling them your budget ins and outs, you can almost always find a  kind and honest way to get out of whatever it is without hurting their feelings.
4- Reconsider your spending if necessary. If you realize you would really like to spend that $35 on the movie, go through in your head where that money can come from in your budget and go have fun. Just make it so you don't regret having spent the money.
5- Suggest something else that is free or lower cost. Have them over for dinner, have a park play day, etc.

In the hard times right now a lot of people are learning lower cost ways to have fun. The most important thing is how you connect with others, not if it is done over $5 lattes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fears over Mortality

There have been a lot of people close to our family that are fighting for their health, either from cancer or our close friend who had a heart attack yesterday. We pray hard for them, and try to help in any way we can but there is the selfish part of my mind that gets scared and says what if that were us. 
The friend that had the heart attack is our age. I don't know what to do in those times when it really is in God's hands. I can try to put my fears over my friend and their family, or my father's returning cancer in a box in my head and move forward in prayer and a helping attitude, or I can get bogged down in what ifs. 
What ifs can distract me, steal my time and take from me what I actually can offer to the people who need me. What ifs can make me not act when action is needed or not say something when it lies on my heart. 
I am trying very hard this week to win the battle of the what ifs.

Matthews  6:25
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?"

Matthews 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Frugal Food- Sneaky Meatloaf

Our family likes meatloaf,  but I have been trying to find out a way to make a turkey meatloaf that everyone likes.  I also needed a way to get my husband and toddler to eat carrots. For some reason they both seem to dislike all orange vegetables, and since they are all super nutrient rich, (and inexpensive) I am now resorting to sneaking them in foods. I thought I would combine the two (turkey and carrots) and I am excited that it was a huge success.

Sneaky Meatloaf- serves 4

1 pound ground turkey
2 large or three medium carrots steamed and pureed fine
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 egg
1 can tomato soup (divided in half)
1 package dry onion soup mix

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, reserving 1/2 of the tomato soup for the top of the meatloaf after you get it in the pan. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour 15 mins.I should also note that I hardly ever preheat my oven so your cooking time may be less if you do.

Also one of the best cooking investments I made was a double meatloaf pan that has a drainage chamber under it. It makes the meatloaf so much better and takes care of that excess grease.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Frugal Food- Split Pea Soup

I love split pea soup but was not sure my meat loving husband, and picky toddler would eat it. It was a hit!

1 pound dry green split peas
1 onion chopped
enough water to cover the split peas
1 pound of bacon
two russet potatoes peeled and chopped
2 tbsp of Italian herb season mix
2 heaping tbsp of garlic chopped

Sort peas to make sure nothing needs to be tossed (natural dry beans sometimes have stones), drain in a colander. Add to a large pot or dutch oven, and cover about two inches over with water. Turn on Medium to Medium high. Meanwhile chop onion and potato and add to the pot. I cook the bacon in a shallow baking pan at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Chop bacon coarsely and add to soup (which has probably been cooking 45 minutes now). Cook another half hour or until the majority of the split peas have lost their shape (the pretty much turn to mush).
Move to a food processor or use a wand mixer to puree till smooth.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 8 healthy servings

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, and I just wanted to take a minute to talk about a person I knew who passed away due to AIDS. This young man was born with the virus, in the early 1980s and had a host of other problems because of his mother's addiction and lifestyle. He had developmental difficulties and social difficulties, but he also had a sweet smile and a complimenting heart. He spent the first few years of his life in a crib in a hospital with no loving attention from anyone because everyone was to scared to touch him. A couple I know adopted him when they became aware of him when was a toddler, and I met him when I worked for them. He lived much longer than anyone thought possible and defied all the odds. I really thought he may just live to see the cure.
He did not get to see that day, but my hope and prayers that soon that day will come. The advances in AIDS and HIV treatment have come tremendous leaps since he passed, but still no cure. Please take a minute today to remember all those this disease has taken and hope for a day when it will take no more.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Master Grocery List

I posted in my last Mission Monday that I wanted to try and create a master grocery list. Here it is.

Master Grocery List - The number to the left is what I want to buy, to the right is what I want in house at all times

Meat, Poultry, Fish

_____ #s chicken - boneless, skinless (any cut) (5 lbs)

_____ Frozen Salmon filets - bag of 4 (1)

_____ Frozen Tilapia Filets bag (1)

_____ #s of ground beef (3)

_____ #s of ground turkey (3)

_____ #s of ground chicken (1)

_____ Whole chicken (2)

_____ Canned chicken (2)

_____ Canned tuna (4)

_____ Canned salmon (2)

_____ Lunch meat (1#)

Canned Vegetables/Fruit/Sauces

_____ Sweet Peas (2)

_____ Green Beans (2)

_____ Corn(2)

_____ Pineapple(2)

_____ Jars Applesauce (2)

_____ Black eyed peas (2)

_____ Black Beans (2)

_____ Diced Tomatoes (4 small, or 2 big)

_____ Tomato Sauce (2 small, 1 large)

_____ Salsa Mild (2)

_____ Strawberry Jam (2)

_____ Peanut Butter (1)

_____ Spaghetti Sauce (1)

Fresh Food/Baked Goods

_____ Gallons milk 2% (2)

_____ Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese (1 #)

_____ Sliced real Cheese (10 slices)

_____ Yogurt (4 cups)

_____ Cream Cheese (1 block)

_____ Loaf Bread(1)

_____ Onions (4)

_____ Bananas (5)

_____ Apples (6)

Dry Beans/Rice/Pasta

_____ Black Beans (2#)

_____ Split Peas (1#)

_____ Black eyed Peas (1#)

_____ Rice White or Jasmine (1#)

_____ Rice Brown (3 #)

_____ Rice Brown Instant (1 box)

_____ Boxes whole wheat pasta not spaghetti (3)

_____ Boxes whoe wheat spaghetti (2)

_____ Quick oats one box

Frozen Vegs

______ Corn (1#)

______ Peas (1#)

______ Carrots (1#)

______ Mixed vegs any variety (1#)

______ Spinach 1 box


______ Vinegar- 1 gallon

______ Baking Soda - 2 #

______ Washing Soda - 1 box

______ Ivory Soap (for laundry ) 2 bars

______ Borax- 1 box

______ Dish Detergent 2 bottles

______ Stain Remover for clothes - 1

______ Fabric Softener - 1 bottle

______ Tea Tree Oil 1 bottle

______ Paper Towels - 2 rolls

______ Light bulbs 3

______ Sandwich bags - 1 box

______ Gallon Storage bags - 1 box

______ Trash bags 1 box

Personal Care (this is to keep stockpile)

______ Toothpaste 3 tubes

______ Baby Toothpaste 2 tubes

______ Baby Toothbrushes 2

______ Adult Toothbrushes 4

______ Mens Deoderant 3

______ Womens Deorderant 3

______ Feminine pads 2

______ Shampoo and conditioner - adult 2 each

______ Shampoo Baby - 1

______ Soap adult - 4 bars

______ Soap baby 1 extra

______ Tylenol - 1

______ Ibuprofen - 1

______ Daytime cold med - 1

______ Allergy med - claritin - 1

______ Antihistimine - 1

______ Toilet papaer 8 rolls

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Do not be anxious

This set of verses has been on my mind a lot lately and brings me great peace. I hope that it will help your peace as well.

Phillipians 4 Verses 4-8 NIV

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Frugal Food- Keilbasa Skillet dinner for 4-6

I make this about once a month and my husband and child love it. It makes enough for a meal for all of us and leftovers for me and the toddler for lunch. It also freezes okay if you add additional tomato sauce or water when you thaw it and reheat.

1 package keilbasa, cut into small sausage rings
1 can tomato sauce (normal size can not the little ones)
1 cup water
1 cup rice - not brown or instant, but even a jasmine rice tastes good in this
1 onion chopped
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1can of corn drained or about 3/4 cup frozen corn
Garlic and Italian season to taste

Brown keilbasa and cook onion till clear. Add all other ingredients, stir, cover and cook for about thirty minutes till rice is done.

Prices at Aldi's Nov 2010
Keilbasa- $2
Tomato Sauce 55 cents
Black Beans- 55 cents
Corn- 50 cents
Rice-(less than 15 cents for portion used)
1 onion- 30 cents

Total $4.05 for two meals for the family

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mission Mondays - Organization

Well this week I thought I would make a bit of organization my mission. This may have to be a two week venture with the holiday weekend derailing part of this week. Therefore I am going to try two organizational projects and hopefully my ambition won't shoot me in the foot.
First project, I have been trying for some time to get my pantry and grocery lists organized, to no avail. What I was trying for was a system where I would have a master grocery list and then I could just determine what we did not have in the house and that would tell me what to buy.
I just never seem to have the time, so this week I am going to try and make time.
The other organizational mission I have is the homeschooling supplies and manipulatives need an organized place in our home. I decided to homeschool my daughter this year and like many new homeschoolers I have been picking up things here and there for our homeschool. Unfortunately I did not appropriately visualize where this stuff was supposed to live in my home, and I am worried, especially since I am buying a few years ahead if I find a good deal that by the time she gets to the first grade, I will have forgotten I have something because it was not appropriately organized. My hope is to organize all of it in bins or baskets on a large bookshelf.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mission Mondays

I thought I would try something new and add Mission Mondays to this blog. I have a tendency to get up on Monday and think this week I will get more done, I will stick to my schedule more, whatever it may be, and then by Wednesday, I forgot what I was trying to do differently.
Maybe if I put it in writing the plan to motivate change will work better.
This week I am working on me time. I realized the other day that I am taking NO time for myself. This is not good for my family or for my happiness so it has to stop. I am planning to spend 15 minutes a day doing something I want to do, just taking a breath or having a hot cup of tea, or writing this blog. It is not much, but you have to start somewhere. Also if I plan a longer time it just won't happen, so baby steps it is.
I think a lot of women are really good at taking care of everyone but themselves. It seems to be a part of the caregiver nature most of us have. But we can't take care of everyone else when we are run down and tired, so hopefully I can change that cycle a bit in my own home.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Depression of 2010 survival lessons I learned from the women in my family

My mom and dad are from the generation that has been dubbed the Greatest Generation, born at or near the Great Depression and veteran of WWII. This is odd for some one my age, 35, but it was my normal. I learned a lot of lessons from them that I really thought would just save a little here or there, and then the "recession" hit, and did not go away.
Here are a few things that may or may not help your home, budget and soul.
1- Use it, reuse it, repurpose it, offer it to some one else to use, and then and only then throw it away.
Old clothes can make rag rugs or crazy quilts, boxes can make play things for kids, chicken bones can make stock, an old pot can beocome a planter... get creative, and think outside the box.
2- Food does not have to be gourmet to be good. Some recipes with only a few ingredients can give you what you need, taste good and not break the bank.
3-Think twice before you buy. If you wait a week before you buy that impulse purchase you may find that you can make do with what you have or you never really wanted it at all.
4- Going out to eat should be an occassion. It is much more expensive to eat spaghetti at Olive Garden than make your own. Save the restaurant trips for special days as a treat.
5- There is always someone who has less than you. This is the one I remember to keep my life in perspective when it feels like I am running in place up hill. There is always some one with less food, inadequate shelter, etc that needs your help. Even if it is just 4 cans of food to the pantry or a smile to some one down on their luck, you never know how that will help or brighten some one who really needs it. We never know why they are where they are, or what circumstances brought them there, but we can do one kind deed for them when we see their need.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I know it has been forever since I posted anything, but I am going to try and do a bit better. This summer the family was sick a lot, and then I started homeschooling my daughter which takes some adjustment time. Hopefully, I can get back into the swing of writing the blog too.

We started homeschooling at the beginning of September, and we are both getting our feet on the ground with learning to be a teacher and student as well as a mom and daughter. My husband and I decided to homeschool her for a variety of reasons, but most of them have to do with a lack of faith in the public school system. We believe that she deserves the best education possible and we don't believe that she will get that in a public school with all the inherent problems of meeting testing standards and teachers having to do crowd control more than teach. I intend to write a more detailed account of why we homeschool at some point, but for now I will just say we know this is best for our family right now.

We homeschool between 1 and 1/2 to 3 hours a day, 4 days a week as my daughter is not quite 2 yet and any more than that seems to be too much for her. Right now I am trying to establish the basics she will need for PreK. We have six subjects (English, Math, Science, Bible/Character, Art, and Physical Education) that we work on in the week with some having more emphasis than others depending on what needs work.

I will say that there have been some challenges, like trying to keep things interesting and age appropriate for a toddler. She loves art, and is doing really well with her alphabet and pre-reading. Math is hard for her, but the concept of numbers is abstract, so I think that will iron out in time.

I am constantly on the look out of for cirricula and activities that I think she will like, or that can make a tedious subject more fun. There are a lot of great blogs out there, and we are starting to get involved in homeschool groups. In NC you don't have to legally declare that you are homeschooling till your child is 7, but some of the homeschoolers have little brothers and sisters that she is getting a chance to do activities with.

More updates and pictures to come soon!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The container garden, canning and the grocery game

Well, my container garden did not succeed. I have some watermelons that are still doing alright, but the beans apparently did not have enough drainage and some of the other plants just never really took off. I got three salads worth of lettuce, a handful of carrots and onions. I will do more research on container gardening and maybe I can have a more successfull late summer crop. Luckily the other family members in ground gardens are doing much better.

I learned to can green beans last weekend with my sister in law, and now I can't wait to get my own canner. I think I will try some water bath canning myself this year (we go through tomatoes like crazy), and then do my own pressure canning next year when the kidlet is old enough to preoccupy herself a bit more so I can babysit the pressure canner. I am also vacuum sealing produce for deep freeze, so hopefully we will be enjoying summer produce way into the winter.

I have been meaning to blog about the grocery game for a bit now, and just have not had a chance. This is a site
I am not in any way affiliated with this company, it has just saved me lots on my groceries and thought it may be useful to some one else. Essentially you enter your zip code, and pick your store(s) and every Sunday your stores lists are updated. The lists show you what you can get at a deep discount or even FREE using coupons, and store deals. It tells you where to find your coupons, and what percentage of a discount you get on the item so you can stock up on things you need for cheap. Since starting it, I have routinely gotten $150 of groceries for $75 or less.
The site of course can explain the service better, but I thought I would write about my experience. There is a small fee (it comes out to less than $2 a week for two store lists) but since it does all the work for me and the savings are so large it is worth it for our family.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I am not June Cleaver

I have a confession to make: I hate housework, I mean really hate housework. This is really contradictory to being a housewife, so I try very hard not to hate it by coming up with many many plans to get and keep the house to the best Martha Stewart clean I can. I have made schedules, bought random organizing pieces, realized the schedules were not working and made more schedules. Something always throws the schedule out of whack... illness, too much stuff to do out of the home, or a toddler promptly pulling all the folded laundry out of the drawers to dance with it.
Here are the things that I have found actually do work for me, either to give me piece of mind or to get the house to a small level of sanity
1- Realize that we actually LIVE here. When you stay at home and don't eat out much you generate lots of mess. It was a lot easier to keep my home clean when I lived alone and worked all the time as I was never there to mess it up.
2- Give myself a break, it does not need to be perfect, and if people come over they are coming to see me not the house.
3-Do a little at a time. The one system I tried that almost worked was the Flylady system. One of the parts of her plan has you set a timer and do as much as you can cleaning before the timer goes off. This has really helped me and I can get my daughter involved as she thinks it is a race.
4-Get rid of stuff. The less stuff you have that you don't use the less you have to organize and clean.
5-Ask for help if you need it. This is a never ending job and like any job some projects are better tackled as a team.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why I am a stay at home Mom

I thought for Mother's Day I should touch on a mom related topic.
I worked from the time I was 15-16 years old till I was laid off work when I was pregnant with my little girl, at 33. I was good at what I did, but it was always just a job. When I was laid off my husband and I sat down and did lots of talking and decided that at the end of the day we wanted one of us to be the primary caregiver to our child. I believe my daughter is only young once and she cannot possibly get the care and attention from a stranger that she gets from me. The most important roles I will ever play are as a wife to my husband and a mom to my child, and the idea of having to give them the last bit of attention at the end of a busy day from working outside the home just makes me sad.
Now that being said, we are not rich, in fact many people would say we are poor. We make conscious decisions and take actions to make it possible for me to stay at home. Part of my job, is figuring out where we can save money. I stretch and stretch every dollar that comes in. We do without luxuries, and have learned to find free or low cost things to do as a family, and at the end of the day we are all much happier than we were when I was working.
This is not the decision for everyone, not even for most people I know, and a lot of people who knew me in the past would be surprised that a feminist could be a stay at home mom. But at the end of the day feminism is about empowering women to have the choice and ability to do what they want, and this really is what I want to do.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cheap vs Frugal

I guess to some people cheap and frugal are the same thing, but at least to me there is a big difference. Cheap means always searching out the lowest price, over all else. Frugal means learning to shop wisely, so you know what things cost and what is of good quality. Spending money on a cheap piece of clothing just to have it fall apart in your washer on the first or second wash to me is pointless, and aggravating when you then have to find its replacement.
When I go shopping, I do look at the price, but I try to weigh that against the time spent to earn that money, whether I believe the item will help our lives in some way, and whether it will last if appropriately cared for. I also try not to buy something the first time I think I need it to avoid impulse buying, I try to wait a week to make sure it is something I really want to spend money on. There are plenty of guides for the best time of year to buy big ticket items, here is a listing on an article with MSN
In general though it comes down to appropriate planning and taking care of what you already have. My husband is a godsend because he really understands electronics, plumbing, cars, and can do our home repairs, but if no one in your family can, there are FREE clinics offered regularly through Lowe's and Home Depot to help with home repairs. If you do need to hire some one to work on your home or car, please get a personal recommendation, or at least call the Better Business Bureau before giving your money to a repair company you know nothing about.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Living Simply

Happiness to me comes from my kid running through the yard excited about the dandelions, or my husband appreciating the meal I just put on the table. It has never come from the things I can buy at the store. Don't get me wrong a good deal is a good thing and it does bring some temporary joy, but consumerism has never been where the heart is for me.
I have been making a conscious effort in the last few years with the hard financial times we have had to make home a soft place to land, instead of just a place we live. I think that the decluttering of our home has lead to a greater peace for our family. Creating family rhythms and rituals have slowed down the pace of our lives, and given us a chance to really enjoy each other's company. This has been more important to me than anything that I could ever purchase.
I have been rather ruthless when getting rid of stuff in our home. If I cannot find an immediate use or repurpose for it, then whatever it is leaves to donation or the trash. If I decide we need a new item for the home, I try to research it and wait a week before buying it. Often at the end of that week I have determined we really don't need it. As the items leave our home to bless Goodwill I do not miss them. For me letting go of all these things is freeing, and calming and helps me create the environment that I am happy to bring my child up in.
Does simple living help find peace in your home?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Vegetable Garden Experiment

Today I finally got the container garden in the ground, well in the pots. I have green peppers, carrots, cauliflower, pumpkin, watermelon, onion, lettuce, yellow bush beans, regular green beans, strawberries and two kinds of tomatoes. I am new to gardening, but hopefully I followed the packet instructions well enough to get some crop out of it. I paid a total of $2.00 in seeds, and $10 for organic potting mix. The pots I am using were free from a friend who was moving and no longer needed them. I figure since I am experimenting this year with container gardening as long as I can get that $12 back in produce then I have done alright, although of course the dream is lots to freeze and can for the winter.
I will post pictures when I get something other than dirt in a pot to show you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thrift store shopping

I have been an avid thrift/consignment store shopper for years. Getting a really good deal on a pair of Levi's somehow makes me happy, and if I get them used they are already broken in. We have several charity run and independent thrift stores in our town. I try to go to the charity run ones as I don't have money to give out of pocket to charity, but at least this way I can help some.
Some tips I have learned in shopping over the years:
1- The thrift stores in the richer areas of town generally have better quality stuff. If you really need something to last start there first.
2-Look at what the garment is made of. Denim and heavier cottons hold up well, and are less likely to fall apart on you than a used rayon or polyester.
3-Children's clothes are usually the best deals, as kids generally outgrow their clothes before they are worn out.
4- Try things on if you can, you don't know if they have shrunk in some one else's dryer.
5- If you decide to buy toys, look over it carefully for safety. Also check for all the parts. Generally you can't return it if it is missing something.
6-Don't buy used cribs or car seats this is just too risky. You can't tell if a car seat has been in a wreck, and if it has it may not be strong enough to protect your child in one.
7-Check your shops frequently, the merchandise changes often because of donations.
8-If you are buying furniture, carefully inspect it. Makes sure there are no hidden tears of stains that you aren't willing to live with.
9-Know what something costs new. Some consignment sales allow people to price their own clothes, and items can be priced high for used items.
10-If you are buying anything that plugs in, check to make sure it works. There should be a place for you to test it. If you are buying an appliance, buy from somewhere that does their own appliance testing. I know Habitat for Humanity Restore does this before allowing some appliances to be sold.

Good luck finding deals!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Goals for 2010

I hate the idea of resolutions. For some reason when I call them that they never happen. I get to the middle of January and I did not do a workout or whatever and they fall by the wayside. So a few years ago I decided to outline goals instead. In the last weeks of the year I try to take an inventory of what I am doing right or wrong and come up with ideas to make my life and my family's lives better.
This year has been very tough on us financially, so some of the goals are financial to help ease some of that burden in case we go through extended periods of unemployment again.
1- Create an emergency savings of $1000 as soon as possible. This is also one of the first steps suggested by the Dave Ramsay method. I have wanted to take his classes but I can't justify a couple hundred dollars to learn to manage money right now. $1000 may not be enough to solve whatever problem it is but at least I will feel better knowing there is that much toward the solution .
2-Have one spend free week per month. This is one the husband and I are going to try, but I have no idea if we can due to gas for the car. I think in order for him to get to work at some point mid week the car will need more gas. We may have to make the exception of a certain amount of gas money, as riding the bus or carpooling are not options. But even with a mid week gas run, the week would still save money if that was all that was spent.
3-Lose 10% of my body weight to become healthier. This is a beginning goal and one that should help to start the ball rolling.
4-Declutter the house. Once a week I want to go through and determine 30 things to sell, give away or discard, until we are to a more manageable level.