Penny Pinchers

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Organic Penny Pinching

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gah! I really wish I'd had this list I'm about to share with you with ME this weekend when I was grocery shopping.  I've made a decision to buy more organic produce, but man does it put a strain on the wallet...fortunately there's the Dirty Dozen list.  I'm sure you've heard of it and its counterpart, the "clean 15." These lists show the fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated by pesticides (and therefore best to purchase organic varieties of) and the ones that are least likely to be contaminated (you can buy the less costly version and feel ok).

So what's on the list? 

12 Most Contaminated

Sweet Bell Peppers
Grapes (Imported)

12 Least Contaminated

Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit

I really wish I'd thought to look this up at the store.  I could have saved on avocado and broccoli! Still, it's good to know I was smart to get the organic apples and strawberries.  Food prices are constantly on the rise and keeping the food bill down is a chore.  I haven't been as good at it lately as I could have been...and in fact cursed myself for leaving coupons AT HOME! Still, what can we do but say we'll try better next week, right?  Sometimes I have to take the "pay more for the food now and less at the doctor's office later" approach and just suck it up. If we wasted quite a bit of food each week it would be different, but honestly we rarely throw out anything. Occasionally a bit of salad might get too soft, but that's about it.  Serious leftovers on the brink get tossed in the freezer to be used up at a later date. I take stock of what's in the produce bins a few times a week and make sure to use that stuff up.  Tonight, for example, we're having a vegetable lasagna to use up some spinach, peppers and zucchini from the garden. After that the rest of the peppers will probably get chopped and frozen for use later on. The freezer is a penny pincher's best friend it seems!


How soon can you retire?

By Julie Norman
Thursday, September 18, 2014

Well at 36 I'm certainly not retiring YET, but articles like this and the book mentioned it certainly provide a bit of optimism as to when I can!  This article from Yahoo profiles 2 different people (or groups of people) who were able to retire without nearly as much money saved as most of us think we need. Check it out here:


Planning for the Holidays

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I've already told the BF that our holiday gift-giving this year will come with a strict budget.  There's nothing that we desperately need and we buy what we want when we can, so is there any point in spending a huge amount of money at Christmas just because we're "supposed" to? No. Still, we can't just tell everyone that there won't be any presents this year because well, we can't.  But I did find this helpful article today on Yahoo that could help us all save a little extra this year during the holidays.

Also, here's a list of presents that don't cost a lot but can mean a lot to those in your life:

Photo calendars or books using Shutterfly, iPhoto, etc.

Small home improvements like adding shelves to a cabinet, organizing the closet, etc.

Baked goods (always a favorite!)

OR shop the clearance areas of your favorite bookstore (yes those do still exist), grocery store (sometimes you can find fun flavored vinegars, etc that people like to get as gifts) or hardware store (as we discovered yesterday Lowe's DOES have a clearance section!)

Really think about the person you're buying for and what will be helpful to them. Then create neat gift baskets or bags for them.  I have a friend that I bike with quite often and I know she loves Lara Bars.  Those are often on sale for $1 each.  I can get 5 Lara Bars, SPF chapstick and dog treats for her 2 dogs who often accompany us on our outings for around $10 total.  That's a great little gift for a friend.  At least, in my opinion it is.

So be creative this year! Make cookies for your coworkers, send photo books to your parents and just spread the love instead of the cash this holiday season :)


Clearance Flowers?

By Julie Norman
Monday, September 15, 2014

Did you know Lowe's had a clearance section? Me either! My best friend, who lives in Georgia, sent me these pics last night of flowers she found in the clearance section at Lowe's.  She said it was way in the back and you sort of have to hunt around for it.  It seems worth it to me though if you're looking for transitional season flowers as she was.  I'm beginning to think we should all be hunting for the clearance sections any time we're in ANY store!

This one was on clearance for $5, down from $15!

These were only .50 cents!


Hmmm…Is it Worth It?  AND a mission update

By Julie Norman
Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'm on my second round of these Fluffy Homemade Hamburger Buns and this time I actually took the time to do some rough calculations to see if it was really worth it.  I guess, honestly, it depends on the type of buns you'd normally buy at the store. If you average $1.99 for 8 buns, then I'm saving 5 cents per bun.  Maybe that's not huge, but we're also using these for sandwiches, so they do double duty.  Even better, I know exactly what went into them.  There are no preservatives or strange colors, etc.  All they have is good old fashioned ingredients: A mix of white and wheat flour (I use equal amounts), butter, sugar, milk, eggs and yeast.  I can make 24 of them for less than $4; yes, these are a little more time consuming, but the total hands-on time involved is still only about 30 minutes.  I think they're absolutely worth it.

In other update on "THE MISSION."  My first thought was that perhaps it would be cheaper to order shelf-stable organic milk online in bulk.  I checked Amazon but the prices didn't really seem any cheaper than they'd be if I just bought 1 box in the store. THEN I read an article about Wal-Mart selling a Great Value organic milk.  That's my next stop.  I'll let you know what I find out!

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