By Julie Norman
Friday, May 23, 2014
It's a much more long-term way of looking at saving money than a simple coupon, sale or FREE offer from Safeway (of which I had 3 this week...but, more on that later). Saving for the future is something that takes commitment. It means finding ways to put aside money that, sometimes, you'd much rather spend on a new television, tablet or phone. It means keeping that pair of running shoes for one more year instead of buying the latest Hoka Ones, and getting that mountain bike fork rebuilt instead of buying a new one. In the long run, it will be worth it. So here are a few ways I've found to make saving for the future easier.
1. Retirement: Every year I do my best to increase by 1% the amount of money going into my 401K from each paycheck. Right now I'm up to 11% (I think) and I'd like to get all the way to 15%. Saving for retirement is important, and starting at a young age is best. Right now I can take a few more risks with my investments because i have plenty of time for them to recover if something goes wrong. You don't have to hire a stockbroker or anything like that to start a retirement plan. Probably your work offers one, and if not, you can go to your bank and set up an IRA.
2. My Savings Acct: The savings acct is SO tempting isn't it? That money is just sitting there...just waiting...but you must resist! That money is there for a rainy day. For when the refrigerator breaks, for when the sprinkler system goes ka-put...for when the oven quits working...but how to you make yourself put money in it? I schedule 15% of my monthly income to go into my savings acct each month without me having to touch it. 7.5% of each paycheck (roughly) gets transferred on the days I get paid each month. I never even have to look at it. Direct deposit...automatic transfer...almost all in one fell swoop. It's an easy way to make sure some money is set aside. They say you should have anywhere from 3-6 months' worth of income set aside...some even recommend more. Right now I have about 2.5 months'. So I've got a ways to go, but at least I'm making an effort. Even if you can only afford to but 5% or even 2% of your paycheck aside, do it. A little savings provides comfort and security.
Oh and finally, take advantage of store cards and free offers!
We're making jambalaya next Friday (yes, I wrote next week's menu last night) so the French bread will be perfect...we aren't gluten-free folks, but it's baking mix...I'll take it! And free laundry detergent? YES PLEASE!
By Julie Norman
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Well, it may not look like much, but my steady supply of lettuce from the garden has kept me from having to spend that extra $1.79 on it each week at the grocery store. Of course, I've ended up spending it on cantaloupes (which just sprouted in the garden), berries (which I'm not growing) and tons of other items...by this fall, hopefully, I"ll be bypassing the produce section all together due to an overabundance of items in the garden!
Also, today at lunch instead of driving somewhere or spending money out at a restaurant, I brown-bagged it and spent my lunch break doing this:
Frankie the cross-bike and I headed down to the riverfront trail...and of course we took a detour out onto the levee just past the railroad bridge. It was cool, cloudy and just perfect for a lunch time ride. Best of all? It was FREE!
By Julie Norman
Friday, May 16, 2014
Tis the season for Spring consignment shopping! I saw yesterday on their facebook page that The Encore Shoppe was having a big sale starting today. So, I recruited my friend and fellow blogger, Richie, and we headed off in search of some deals. Right as you enter the store, on the right, you can get stuff for as low as .50/cents! If I'd been in the mood to shop for corduroys that's where I'd have started. Instead, I was on a mission for these items: a khaki skirt, a new shirt and a black cardigan.
SCORE! I found all three of those things plus a super cute polka dotted dress. Want to know how much I spent? $25. That's all! For FOUR items! I could have saved even more if I'd had taken in their latest coupon from the coupon book.
So don't miss out! Grab a coupon and go find some cute stuff. Richie got a basket to organize all her mail. See? You can find just about anything there!
By Julie Norman
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The new Coupon Book is out! There are lots of great coupons for this time of year including coupons for:
Lunch with your best friend
Stress relieving massages
Vacation car tune ups
and Home Improvments
Click here to browse all our great coupons from the latest coupon book.
Speaking of home improvement, I got the following info today along with a Press Release about the new Paint Studios at Ace Hardware stores:
This weekend, May 17th and 18th, at your local Ace Hardware store folks will be able to get a FREE gallon of the award winning Clark+Kensington paint and primer (rated #1 by leading consumer magazine) or Valspar Optimus with the purchase of one gallon, so it's a BOGO deal, perfect for spring sprucing up around the house or if you're selling a great way to freshen up with high quality paint on the cheap. The savings is up to $95 bucks, which is huge.
Ace did not pay me to promote that, I just thought I'd throw it out there to help anyone looking to spruce up their house this spring.
By Julie Norman
Monday, May 12, 2014
One very easy way to save money at the grocery store is to buy less meat. Meat is expensive. We all know that! That's why grocers see so many of us checking out the clearance bins every day. Even so, a Ranchers Reserver Grass Fed Roast at 30% off is still going to cost way more than a bag of black beans.
Maybe you're already incorporating a "meatless" dinner into your routine once a week, but cutting back even more on meat, or just using less in meals where you DO have meat, can be a huge help. Here are some ideas for meatless lunches and dinners to get you through the week:
Cook a batch of pasta (I like whole wheat these days, but if you're on a budget whatever is on sale works just fine) then, for lunch meals, add some cannellini beans, spinach leaves, a little broth and some parmesan cheese to a serving of pasta. Heat it up when you're ready to eat!
Pre-chop veggies like asparagus and snow peas and add to pre-cooked brown rice. Shake on some soy sauce and red pepper flakes and heat that up for lunch or eat it cold for a crunchy brown rice salad. You can get a 5 lb bag of brown rice for CHEAP these days.
An apple and peanut butter make a great lunch, especially if you add in a few of your favorite crackers or a side salad.
Leftovers are always a great way to use what you have without the need to use MORE of anything.
Here's what we had last night: Slow Cooker black beans over Roasted Polenta.
Beans, as I've written about before, are great for meatless meals. You can add rice or pasta for more bulk, or just top with veggies or crumbled cornbread.
Pasta dishes are great without meat. Pasta with just a nice homemade tomato sauce (recipe below) is one of our favorites. It's SO easy and simple!
Pizzas can be great for dinner and even healthy when topped with whatever veggies are on sale. Try pizza topped with zucchini, mushrooms and onion or even broccoli and bell peppers. Buy the largest size of mozarella cheese you can because it keeps well, can be frozen and is great for both pizzas and pastas. If you buy local and get your pizza dough from Homestyle Bakery it's only .98/each. One ball of dough will make one 12-14 inch pizza.
Tomato Sauce for pizza or pasta:
1 large can of plum tomatoes (either already chopped or whole), drained
1-4 cloves of garlic depending on how much garlic you like
1/4 cup of olive oil
Fresh basil if you have it
Begin heating the oil in a saucepan. Chop your garlic and add it to the oil. Let this cook for a few minutes over medium heat. When everything begins to smell garlicky, turn the heat down to medium low.
If you bought a can of whole plum tomatoes, roughly chop them. You can even just use your hands and squish them if you want. Add these to the garlic and oil. Be careful! It might spatter a little bit.
Stir everything together, add 1-2 tsp of Italian seasoning and cover. Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. (See below for low acid instructions)
If you need a lower-acid tomato sauce, try these tips: To the sauce, add 1/8 tsp of baking soda. Stir and let it bubble a bit. ONLY cook the sauce until it is heated through and bubbling. Then remove it from the heat. If you can find a brand of tomatoes like Cento, then buy those because they do not add citric acid to the tomatoes before canning.
What tips do you have for making great meatless recipes?