I pause after hearing the final cost of the "Buy One Get One Free" offer while purchasing new eyeglasses for Youngest Son and myself. The salesmen had so graciously offered to allow us to both purchase glasses and one to receive the "free" pair. After some consideration, Youngest Son and I had our frames in hand and were making the final transaction to purchase and have our frames completed with new lenses.
I was a bit overwhelmed with the projected cost and was quietly considering what to do. We had already checked out the place where glasses had last been purchased. The price at this place although couched in sale terms as well had been beyond out budget. Now again, I realized that this projected cost was more than I had anticipated. As I quickly thought through this and the fact that there was one other store close by to check out, the young woman now helping us made a suggestion. She could tell I was not ready to bite at this "sale" so she said there might be another I would consider. After checking with her manger, she returned to us and said there was another sale we could have.
Would you believe that this other sale which was not "Buy One Get One Free" was actually much better? We ended up saving $125.00 on the first estimate. I said yes and two hours later we returned to get our eyeglasses. What I have learned from this little experience is to be careful when "sale" shopping and don't be too fast to follow what is supposed to be a deal. Some consideration and even some further investigation may gain you some saved cash.
I want to be clear that I am not saying that I feel a need to purchase products in such a way that the seller makes no profit. Husband works in retail and the truth is profit is what companies need to purchase their products, pay their bills and pay their employees. I am all for profits as it truly is the American way. However, I do try to be sure that the profit margin for the items I am purchasing is fair to both sides. I really do think my eyeglass shopping accomplished this goal.
I know many have had great success with purchasing eyeglasses online. I have not used this company personally, but have heard recommendations from others of Zenni Optical. A great review of Zenni Optical can be found on Moneysavingmom.com.
As I wear progressive lenses that need somewhat careful measuring, I have not tried to purchase my eyeglasses online. I do know several people who have purchased regular glasses in this manner and have been quite pleased with the end result.
Any other recommendations for where to purchase eyeglasses for a fair price and a satisfactory product?
Almost every day I search for free books for my Kindle and yours. You don't have to have a Kindle to take advantage of this. You can download them to your laptop and to your other electronic devices (I'm not that technology conversant- Android? I-Phone?).
I post what I find on The Common Room blog's Facebook account.
I first go to the Amazon Kindle store and search the book categories that interest me, choosing to sort them by lowest price to highest. If I have time to browse, I leave the Search box empty, just clicking on different categories under e-books in the left side column. This does bring up a lot of garbage, including covers with unsavory images- the stor that, if they were a magazine cover, they'd be kept where children couldn't see them. It really irritates me that Amazon apparently has no option for blocking these titles if you're not interested in them. I sift through a lot of garbage to find titles that might be of interest.
If I need to quickly target my searches I type a single word into the search box, hoping to bring up titles with that word in it. My most common are:
Other sources for lists of free ebooks are:
Updated to add these free e-books for today:
I shake my head as I listen to the young business woman share that she is in favor of taxing the rich to help the country with our economic problems. However, since she makes over $250.000.00 which would be where the projected increase that is presently being discussed would commence for those being asked to pay higher taxes, her recommendation is that the increased taxing should start around $600,000.00. You see, this young woman does not think she is "rich" at $250.000.00 and should not be asked to increase her tax share. I shake my head and wonder if making $600,000.00 would she think that number still be fair? Of course now I believe the amount that will have increased taxes has been decided to be around $400,000.00. I am sure this young woman I heard interviewed is pleased.
My point is not to discuss the wisdom of increasing the tax rate of those deemed to be "rich." Such an action would not be my solution to our fiscal problems. Quite honestly I do not define "rich" with financial terms. Even though of a smaller economic means, I would consider myself rich in the blessings of life that do not have monetary value. Once the government finds a way to tax solid marriages, honoring children and adorable grandbabies, I will be done for.
My point of writing is just that over and over again I see people looking to others to be the solution for the problems that surround them. This young woman I heard interviewed believes she sees a need for more tax revenue, but she would not see her income to be one that should be touched. Her perspective just got me thinking about the fact that it is so easy to want other people to bail us out of what is often our own predicament. So if you believe the answer to our fiscal challenges is to take more taxes from someone in the population but you do not think it should be you, what are you actually saying?
I am not writing with answers for our bigger problems. I do, however, believe that by living faithfully within the context of our own lives, we can make a difference. So I cannot change our country's debt problems, but I can live within my means and teach my children to do the same. I can also strive to take responsibility to find solutions to the challenges that come my way by changing behavior, learning to do without or acquiring new skills.
Those who write about their quest to live the frugal life, get out of debt and live in such a way that they are more givers than takers, encourage me to do the same. I find those of you who are willing to live within your means and seek to be solvent without looking to the rest of society to be your solution give me hope. Husband and I solved our debt problem by selling our home and then moving to another state where our daily expenses could be minimized and then we worked hard to live within our means. It has not been easy and still has some challenging moments, but our decisions have been worth every difficult moment.
Our move about seven years ago was not a decision solely made for economic reasons, but our deep desire to become debt free did play a part in the decision process. Over the years I have worked diligently to reduce my food bill and still eat a healthy diet. This means more scratch cooking than I would like to have on my things to do list and more time spent researching and looking for ways to provide healthy meals within the context of what I have to spend. I have learned how to make rugs, amassed many a means to keep us healthy without unnecessary doctor visits, practice contentment with "what's in your hand" decorating and have driven ugly, old vehicles.
I for one am so grateful for the inspiration and encouragement I receive from so many others who live frugally before me or provide websites with ideas and tales of their own frugal journey. I often listen to those who call a popular radio show and shout their "debt free" scream. What so often touches my heart are the blessings that have come to these families in the process of solving their debt problems. Many have grown closer together, found life to be far more enjoyable without debt and the trappings of too much stuff and have a new can do attitude that flavors their whole life.
I can't really encourage Congress to give debt free living a try, but I can share my heart with any who read this blog. Go for it. Take responsibility for your own actions and choices and see the blessings that will come. Be prepared for some hard times, but when you see your personal debt problems solved, you will rejoice!
There are many different options for frugal gift wrap, and readers at this site probably know most of them- recycled newspaper or comic strips, old maps, cloth bags that can be re-used season after season, butcher paper that the kids decorate, or skipping the wrapping paper completely and going for a sort of scavenger hunt, with clues leading up to the final hiding place where the present is, or using part of the gift for the wrapping, such as a receiving blanket to wrap a baby gift.
Sometime last year I was at a thrift shop and bought a roll of old wall paper for .50. It was a huge roll, and it was old enough that it was the kind that you had to apply the paste separately. My intention was to use it for shelf paper, but my husband found it first and has been using it for gift wrap. It's his new favorite. The paper is flexible enough to fold and wrap around corners with ease, but it's thick enough that it doesn't tear easily, and it's not see-through. The vintage pattern (a sort of red on yellow toule print) is striking, and it looked great under our tree, but looks equally pretty for the spring birthdays our large family has coming up (we have so many that I once joked to a single male friend that I calved in the spring, and he pointed out that if he said that, or if he laughed too hard, he'd get hit).
Husband and I sit in a bench in front of the zoo and watch as our daughters walk from the parking lot pushing strollers before them. Our hearts swell with appreciation for our precious ones and we look forward to an afternoon with them in the zoo. Greeting them with smiles and entering through the gates, we are most appreciative of the zoo pass given to us by all of our children as a Christmas gift. They know spending time with little ones is one of our favorite things to do.
This afternoon is a culmination of several days away together. A delayed celebration of our 31st anniversary and a testimony to Husband's getting us away on the cheap has been thoroughly enjoyed. One of the parts we like best is that all our expenses have been covered with careful planning and the finding of some deals.
Not quite as big of a trip as our 3oth anniversary celebration, Husband still wanted to be sure to find a way to get some time together for talk, planning and enjoying each other's company. So when a Groupon came through in his email, he decided to take advantage of a half-price Bed and Breakfast special about an hour and half from our home. Because we do not use Groupon unless we have already purposed to do something, he also had a $15.00 incentive towards a purchase. We have a small vacation fund in our budget and had a balance left from last year which covered the Groupon deal.
We also use a credit card with a rewards program. As we are debt free and have purposed to remain so, we pay off any credit card charges on a monthly basis. Most of our household expenses are paid by cash or debit card, but we use the credit card for gas and a few other purchases. Husband has saved up our rewards credit through the year and this is the money that covered our gas, simple meals and other expenses for our cheap get away.
I packed several salad in a jar to keep in the small refrigerator in our get- away room and we took some nuts and pita chips to have for snacks. We also purposed to keep our meals eaten out simple and actually shared a sandwich on one day with special hot drinks. We found eating out lunches to be the most economical and eating our salads in the evening when back to the room worked well. One day we stopped and picked up a bottle of sparkling grape juice and a dark chocolate bar as an added treat.
We visited a historical site on our way to the Bed and Breakfast and the following day went to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. Husband was thrilled to find out that the month of January was free. Now, I must confess that I am sure this is because there were no wildflowers to see. However, we found the opportunity to roam the grounds with nary another soul in sight a delightful way to get some exercise. Having access to the staff without competition and eating a delicious lunch in the cafe with a waitress who had time to chat and tell us when to come back to visit when the flowers would be out and the place not too crowded another bonus to our off season visit.
As we sat on swings in the gardens under a grove of beautiful old oak trees, Husband suggested that I write and be sure to let my frugalhacks readers know that vacation and get-aways can be most economical when done off season. I then reflect on how in years past when parents of younger children and when given the opportunity to get a week away, we would always do so when school was in session. (We homeschooled and had this freedom.) Accommodations were so much cheaper and the crowds minimal. Sometimes it was just a weekend that we could afford but we always had some interesting experiences. I remember some years ago when we lived on the East Coast, a weekend at the beach in January afforded us the amazing memory of walking on the Ocean City boardwalk in the snow! Pictures of our family bundled up in winter coats, hats and mittens in front of the ocean are unique to be sure.
And yes, there are seasons when a get-way may mean putting up a tent in the living room or roasting marshmellows over a campfire in your backyard. These are actually get-away ideas Husband and I are planning for our "Cousins Camp" visits when our grandbabies get older.
Any frugal get-away memories to share?
Lots of people will buy winter clothes at the end of the season when they are sale, stocking up for the kids on the sizes they will probably be in next year.
In the book Who Gets the Drumstick? by Helen North Beardsley, Helen recounts the story of how she, a widow with 8 children, married Frank North, a widower with ten children. Together they had two more children.
Frank was a chief petty officer in the Navy, and he ran the combined household much like a small military barracks, which had its good and bad points. One of the innovations they made for their special family circumstances was to set up a sort of a clothes closet with all sizes of clothes, so that when the kids needed new clothes, instead of taking 20 kids shopping, Helen could simply check out the closet and supply the child with the next size up.
This level of stocking up might not be entirely practical for the average family, and I haven't resorted to this method much even for my larger than average family of 9. However, there is one area where I do stock up ahead, and that is unusual, or hard to find sizes or items. We haven't always done this, and that can be an expensive mistake.
My 14 year old still growing boy is currently comfortably wearing size 13 shoes. He is also an avid outdoorsman, and we have around 60 wooded acres with a creek (inherited from my family, who have lived in this area since they first homesteaded it in the early 1800s), so he has the outdoors literally at his doorstep. Waterproof boots are not a luxury item for him. Unfortunately, his waterproof boots got a hole in them mid-hunting season, as it happened, the same week he needed new dress shoes for a wedding he was in, the same week his toes poked through the ends of his only other pair of shoes, some tennis shoes. We did check thrift shops, but couldn't find anything in his size, so we had to bite the bullet and buy him two new pairs of shoes (he just had to live with the holey tennis shoes for a while longer). That hurt.
Now all of my Progeny, including the two married girls, have been asked to check the thrift shop for men's shoes in size 13 or up any time they go to a thrift shop. Those sizes are hard to find anyway, so it's worth it to me to buy them and store them until the Boy needs them.
We do the same for pants for him, as he is long legged but skinny (his sisters call his 28 waist, 36 inches almost isn't long enough inseam size "toothpick by stork"), and this is also hard to find. So whenever I find a pair of those pants at the thrift shop, I pick them up to have on hand. Formerly, it was boys' size 20s.
We also found that boys' sizes of jeans after about size 6 are harder to find in good condition at thrift stores, so we bought those whenever we found them.
A good source for new clothes for boys is Lands End, especially when you use their sales and take advantage of ebates.
If you sign up for ebates and go to Land's End via ebates, you can deduct another 6% for the rebate you'll get. Sometimes it's more. Currently, for instance, they also offer 30% off any single item.
Ebates has deals with other stores, such as JC Penny, Sears, Gap, Old Navy, and Areopostale as well, so you can look around for other good sales.
Another place I look for shoes and clothes for my hard to fit children is E-bay. That's the route we chose when we eventually replaced his poor mangled tennis shoes.
What are your strategies for keeping your family dressed frugally?
Free books for your kindle:
Being gorgeous!! 50 of the best home made beauty treatments to save you money.
Although I heartily agree with the concept of freezer cooking and seek to faithfully plan menus on a monthly basis, I often succumb to what I call "piggyback cooking." This method of cooking entails generating enough of an item to be used in a new way another day. Probably just a bit of a more fun name for purposeful left-overs.
Due to the fact that many of my meals are fairly heath conscious light of Husband's dietary needs, casseroles and even crockpot creations are not always the best fit for our meals. Fish, salads and vegetables are our mainstays and seem to necessitate a great deal of daily preparation. One of the ways I have found to make this kind of food preparation work is to "piggyback" my culinary fare.
Salmon is known to be a very heart healthy fish. It is also quite expensive. Imagine my pleasure in finding in our supermarket wild caught salmon sold as a whole fish, but gutted with the head off for $2.50 per pound! As we eat this every week, I try to find ways to serve it with some creativity. So this past week we first ate the salmon as a main course but the next night to give quite a different spin to our meal, I made a chef salad where the salmon was the topper to our greens. My already cooked salmon was a piggyback prepared the day before. To this chef salad I piggybacked a small jar of previously made turkey soup from our freezer. There really was not enough soup to make my men feel full but paired with salmon chef salad their stomachs were content. While making the chef salad I used my quart size canning jars and made salad in a jar for some lunches for the week.
As I was cleaning up this salmon chef salad/ soup meal, I also rinsed some pinto beans and put them in water to soak overnight. The next day these beans went into my crockpot to cook. Later in the day, brown rice was added to my rice cooker and our meal of beans and rice topped with salad goodies also produced broth, beans and additional rice for a soup made two days later.
I find that cooking a bit extra, and always seeking to think about how to use today's meal tomorrow in a new fashion, not only cuts down on some preparation time, but ensures that my left-overs will not be wasted and actually appreciated in their new form as a new meal.
How do you piggyback your food prep?
Make your own liquid coffee creamers, starting with a base of two cups milk and one can of sweetened condensed milk. Directions and flavoring ideas here.
2 cups of heated white vinegar, 2 cups of blue dawn dish soap, and a squirt bottle. Spray it on your shower walls, wait a couple hours (or overnight if you prefer) and sponge off- all your soap scum will disappear. More about this trick here. Updated to add a link to this version, which makes it even easier! Pure genius!
Leftover oatmeal? Use it up in oatmeal muffins.
Free Kindle Books (I've not read them, and they are only free today, so no guarantees on value):
Everybody seems to be doing it and I am no exception. A new year brings much incentive to start a fresh page of life and make purposeful plans to live out the year with success. I really enjoy the process of planning. It is the reality of making my plans work that is my challenge. So I purchase a planner and write out my goals for the year 2013. I seek to be wise this year and keep in mind that life has a way of bringing the unexpected to my door. I write personal goals, family and house goals (to be shared and discussed with Husband), and most importantly, spiritual goals.
I love paper and pencil. In fact, I think a pencil is one of my most favorite frugal writing tools. So I sharpen mine and as I write out my goals and review the ones set at the beginning of 2012, I decide that a better plan is needed for the implementation of achieving what I consider to be worthy objectives.
A recent conversation with Youngest Son encouraged my desire to find success with my goal setting. He said that he was going to be breaking down his yearly goals into monthly objectives. I too decided to add this to my yearly goal setting plan. Sure, it took some more time, but it also made me consider more closely how and if my plans were realistic. My planner had the perfect columm on the side of the calendar page and here I am listing a breakdown of my plans. I am careful to keep in mind that some months are busier than others on a regular basis and also to be sure to give myself some margin for the unexpected.
I think I have fewer goals for this year, and am actually more excited than some years of goal setting, as I believe I have a far more realistic plan. Breaking my objectives down into monthly goals or parts gives me a great way of tracking my progress but also gives me freedom. For me a weekly breakdown might bring more pressure to my life than I would desire.
Lest I give the impression that I have it "all together," that is certainly not the case. Along with my goals, I see this year as one of asking questions. I am entering a new season with two sets of married children and two grandchildren and my youngest son still home but working full time. I want to be sure to live out this new season with wisdom and confidence in the choices I am making.
By giving myself a year to really carefully consider this new season of life and to be searching the scriptures for how God would have me use this time, I hope to fully understand and choose well my priorities. The answers to my questions, some of which I have in mind and others that are sure to come, may change my 2013 goals in ways, but that is okay. For me the purpose of a plan is to have something to "flex" from. It is really impossible for me to fully plan for and understand what this year may bring, but I can do my best to be prepared.
Since the frugal life is one of necessity for me, always my goals and questions must consider how to accomplish tasks, projects, and dreams, while staying within my budget and finding the many hours a frugal life entails. For me this means that cooking from scratch, trying to do some gardening, being wise with car trips, and shopping at thrift shops has to be taken into consideration when making my plans. Other considerations include taking a green approach to life, de-cluttering and recycling my clutter at places such as www.musicmagpie.com, amazon.com and Ebay.
How about you? Are you setting goals for 2013 or asking any questions?
One of my Progeny is particularly fond of Cream of Wheat for breakfast.
Cream of wheat is cheaper than cold cereal, but Farina is the same thing, and you can get it for about half the price of Cream Of Wheat, or even less if you're buying the farina in bulk through a local co-op or grocery store that carries bulk bins.
Weizengries is another product that is essentially the same thing- this is available in Germany.
We like ours cooked in milk rather than water- it has a creamier texture and a richer flavor. We serve it with jam and a bit of butter or coconut oil.
Leftover cream of wheat can be put in a buttered pan and chilled, then slice it into about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick slices and fry gently until golden brown and heated through. Some people like this ladled with a bit of gravy (red-eye is good), others prefer it drizzled with honey and maple syrup.
To make a very generous adult sized serving of Farina I put 1 1/2 cups of milk in a saucepan, whisk in 2 1/2 Tablespoons of farina and a dash or two of salt, turn the stove to high and whisk the mixture until it boils. I don't exactly whisk continuously, but I don't leave it alone for more than a minute or two, either- I whisk a few times and then go get out a bowl, whisk a few more times and get out the butter and jam, whisk a few more times and put away the farina, whisk again and maybe put away three or four clean dishes from the dish-rack, drizzle jam into the bowl-
Once it starts to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer or bubble for about 6 minutes longer, or a little more if you want it really thick. I continue to whisk it every two or three minutes.
I stir in a tablespoon or so of butter or coconut oil, pour the farina into a bowl, and then stir well to mix the jam throughout.
Standing at the finish line with a handful of mothers, I wait and then cheer our friends and families as they cross the finish line. A half marathon, the idea of family friends, is in process. Young and some older are running or biking this thirteen mile trail and some like myself are waiting to cheer them on as this race is completed.
Most of the mothers are patiently waiting, but one of us is running this race by the side of a daughter. As the race progresses, we find out that the trail is hard to follow and some, my friend included, found themselves to be lost. Now as we see her cross the finish line knowing the extra challenges she faced along the way, we cheer loud and with gusto. And as she crosses the line, I think many thoughts to myself about this woman friend who is a living epistle to me and one of my heroes.
You see, I have seen my friend smile when I would cry, do the next thing when I would be overwhelmed, and persevere when I would want to call it a day. I tell my special friend that I want to be just like her when I grow up even though I am years older. Watching her this day the realization hits that there are not enough years left in my life to accomplish my goal. This friend runs her life race like few I know.
As we wait for others to cross the line, I think of how this race defines much of the frugal life for me. Some of the participants ran fast and sure, trail followed carefully and with an excellent time. Some were confused and ran too long before realizing they were running in a circle. Finally, with some advice and care many found the right path. Others were so lost that they found it wise to stop, find a place of shelter, and then call for rescue with hopes of again running another day.
As this new years begins and many start or continue their frugal journey towards a debt free life or just seeking to be faithful to live within your means, I cheer you on with some advice. If you have finished your race in record time and found the path to follow, now find another to walk beside and cheer and share your frugal wisdom. If you are the one who feels like you are running the frugal race in circles, do as my special friend and persevere, get some advice, and keep on running. If you are one overwhelmed or discouraged or who just sees that the trail is too dim for you this day, stop and seek some help through a friend, blog, or financial book and be better prepared to run the race another day. But be sure to keep running!
May 2013 be a great frugal year for all of you!
Sometimes it is the little things that make life run smoother. I, for one, am grateful for all the ideas that have been shared with me by mouth, book, or internet search. So, as the new year approaches, I thought I would share a few ideas that seem to make my world work better:
Coasters next to my sink. Husband, Youngest Son, and I each have a different colored coaster where we can set our glasses or mugs. This way if the drink has not been completed, the drinker knows which glass is his and if it is empty, ready for the next refill. So much better than a sink or dishwasher full of drinking utensils used once or half-filled glasses lying around with no one sure who they belong to.
Hanging my clothes on hangers when removed from the washer. I rarely use my dryer (and now that it is not working, not at all.) So instead of hanging my clothes, such as shirts, pants, skirts, and dresses with clothespins, I put them on plastic hangers. I presently do not use a clothesline and hang all my wet things on nice metal clothes racks on my back deck. When I did use a clothesline, I put a clothespin between items on my clothesline so as not to have the clothes on hangers clump together. The advantage to using hangers is that some items can just be hung in the closet when dry with no extra step if there are no wrinkles, and the ones that do need ironing seem to need less, which makes me very happy. This also works well if you use shower rods or other creative places to hang your wash.
Eating salad kept fresh in a jar. I am sorry that I do not remember where I first heard of this idea. If you search " salad in a jar," you will find many resources. I use a wide mouth quart canning jar and have found this to be a great way to pack fresh salads for Husband's lunch. I do not use a vacuum sealer and so only make salads to be used in about four days. I put a few tablespoons of homemade dressing in the bottom of the jar and then add other fixings such as sunflower seeds, nuts, raw vegetables, and usually some kind of cooked meat such as chicken. I also like to add a sprinkle of feta cheese. I keep the lettuce from touching the dressing and try to make several for the week and keep them in the refrigerator. I do send in a plate with Husband, as eating the salad from the jar can be a bit challenging, but would work in a pinch. Really, this idea works for all kinds of salads, and even other left-over type combinations.
Designating a bag for all the items I carry to and from the car. Perhaps it is this stage of life I am in, but I always seem to have many things to bring into the house when I leave my car. We tend to drive a fair amount and always seem to be at least 45 minutes or more from our destination, so I bring paperwork and handwork in the car to make good use of my time. Now I use a cute bag for my paperwork and other goodies and a small carry-on-luggage bag for my handwork. So much better than filling my arms with things that always seem to fall out before I can get them inside.
Keeping a small notebook next to the computer. I cannot tell you how often I think I am going to remember a url or some research or even what I ordered from somewhere, only to forget! Now I just write in my notebook where I placed an order, a url that I want to return to, or even phone calls I have made. It is amazing what can be forgotten and how often this little notebook saves my day.
Having a package of baby wipes in the bathroom. I do purchase my wipes, although I know there are many great recipes to make these from scratch, but I find keeping a package in the bathroom and wiping out the sinks each day keeps the room looking a bit better and also makes my more thorough cleaning job seem to go quicker.
Starting each day with the Lord. My Bible, devotional book, notebook, and cup of coffee is how I start my day. Making the priority of taking time each morning to meet with my Lord, Jesus Christ, to feast on His Word and fill my mind with His ways, is that which gives all the rest of my day meaning and purpose.
How about you? What are some ideas that make your life run smoother?
Free at the time of posting, but this can change quickly, so check the price carefully before adding to your cart:
Along with a joy in my heart for the birth and resurrection of my Savior celebrated by many during this holiday season, my mind always returns to years past when Husband was self-employed and how often clients would stop paying on their bills from November through February. Why, I would wonder? Do holidays superceed being faithful to commitments? Is this really what the season of giving should be all about?
Have you ever been on the other side of a bankruptcy? I have. Hours of husband's work and care now "donated" to the life problems of another. I do not mean to be simplistic. I know there are many extenuating situations that may not "fit" into what I am saying. I have, however, seen people who were unwilling to give up their perks in life such as cable, cellphone plans or even their restaurant dining, in order to be faithful to pay bills and honor the contracts for services rendered to them by another. From my experience the longer one gets away from a bill owed, the more that bill seems to become a burden and something easily considered no longer a priority.
Have you ever had to do collection work? Calling customers or clients who owe you big time? I have. I am not talking about those collector callers who harass and take advantage of the privacy of another. I am just speaking of the calls that remind the person who has received your service or product and for some reason chooses to renege on paying for the help or service they have received. Again, I am not referring to those who have had unknown hardships smack into their lives and may need mercy or consideration, but the many who still think they deserve every treat available while ignoring a bill incurred when receiving a service/product from another.
You may think me harsh. I certainly do not mean to be. I am only sharing some realities. And I do so because I think it can be easy for all of us to lose sight of the importance of being faithful to commitments, even financial ones.
So my frugal advice for this holiday season will not necessarily be popular. To me the best deals in the world are not as important as being sure to pay those bills already in hand. Memories and celebrations can be just as wonderful living within the integrity of what you make (and what you owe.) Be honest with your children if holiday funds are light due to previous expenditures. Building integrity and faithfulness into the lives of your children and teaching them to be responsible, will do more long term than any toy or gift. Do not feel guilty if your holiday celebrations do not match those of friends and neighbors. Find real satisfaction in only purchasing what you can pay for now. The warm fuzzies of gift giving can easily be later ruined when the bills start to come in.
Choose to celebrate this Christmas season with integrity. As you consider giving this holiday be sure to remember the importance of paying as well. Such a legacy will do much for our country and your home!
Computer connectivity has been spotty and unreliable most of today, which is another reason why I should learn never to put off until the last possible second what I could do weeks in advance. Unfortunately, I'm fifty and haven't learned that yet, in spite of many opportunities and lessons in the school of life. Ah, well.
Today's post is about little ways to add some festive touches to your regular fare- instead of spending extra money for fancier than normal dishes, you can add holiday touches to things you already make in order to create special memories for your family, and give that something extra holidays bring, without something extra removed from your budget.
Shapes and colors:
Roll out biscuits as usual, but cut into triangles for Christmas trees.
Or use raisins to make a snowman face on a biscuit, then put three biscuits on the pan touching each other to make a snowman.
Braid biscuit dough and shape in a circle for a wreath, dot with strawberry jam.
Make your pancakes into wreaths or snowmen in the pan.
Use cookie cutters to make Christmas shapes of your sandwiches, sliced lunch meats and cheeses, and quesedillas
Shape a meatloaf into a wreath shape. When it's done, fill the center with snowy white mashed potatoes.
Shape a home-made pizza into a tree- it's just a triangle, after all.
Use tiny cookie cutters to slice potatoes and carrots for stew into small triangles for trees.
Add red jam, fruit, or food coloring to your pancake batter
Use ketchup to make festive designs on your eggs, meatloaves, and more.
Use parsley flakes sprinkled in a cookie cutter stencil to add green trees or leaves to the top of a meatloaf, lasagna, pasta dish, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, or....?
Some free Christmas reading for your Kindle- some will be free indefinitely, some will only be free a few more hours after I post them. Make sure you check twice:
Old Christmas, by Washington Irving
The Christmas Books
by William Makepeace Thackeray