Penny Pinchers

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A Monday Challenge: Skip the Coffee Shop

By Julie Norman
Monday, March 17, 2014

Are you a coffee shop junkie?  Do you love stopping by there every morning on your way to work, or taking a mid-morning break to go grab a nice latte with whipped cream on top?  Do you realize that if you spend $3 every weekday on a coffee beverage that, by the end of the year, you'll have spent almost $800 on coffee?  Is it worth it?  Maybe it is.  Maybe that's your thing - coffee. My things are skiing and biking.  I'll save money in other places to have it to spend on those hobbies.

My point is, just try skipping the coffee shop.  I know office coffee can suck (trust me, I KNOW) but Starbucks VIA is a pretty good gourmet "instant" coffee.  You could also invest in a French press and, for about $8, get a nice bag of freshly ground coffee beans for it.  That's what I do.  I use the bulk beans at Safeway, grind them in the store, and a pound lasts about 3 weeks. I make a cup for home and then put more in a thermos to take to work. You can buy vanilla syrup if you want, or keep a special creamer or whipped cream at work for your coffee. I'm just saying...TRY IT! You may find that you don't miss your Starbucks that much after all.


Frugal Friday Links: Spring Break Budget Tips!

By Julie Norman
Friday, March 14, 2014

Just in time for Spring Break, this article from US News' "Money" channel popped up on my radar today.  While I'm not heading anywhere for Spring Break (mostly because we don't get spring break here at the Sentinel...though perhaps I should suggest it!), I know plenty of you are!  Here's hoping you find some tips that will help you relax while also saving you some $$$.

Brittany's got a great link here to The Happiness Project.


This is a link to the Happiness Project website. I believe the book was first and started a movement. This website is completely free! While you can find her book for uber cheap in various book stores and online, the website has tons of tools to get your happy on… for free!


$50 Grocery Week - I did it!

By Julie Norman
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finally!  I managed to only spend $50 at the grocery store this week.  That's right.  I finally did it. Every week I go with the intention of only spending a certain amount.  I get sidetracked in the produce aisle by on-sale asparagus, mangos, brussels sprouts, etc.  Before I've even left this section of the store I"ve spent $20.  A good, healthy $20, but still.  It's a bit much sometimes.  On Monday, however, I was determined.  I knew I had extra savings on avocados, a coupon for shredded cabbage (yes, a head of cabbage can be super cheap, but I can't shred it as finely as we like for coleslaw) and discounts on apples.  I also knew that at home I had plenty of green veggies.  SO even though the asparagus was on sale, I bypassed (besides we'd eaten two pounds of it in the past week...).

I would not let myself gaze at all the produce just waiting for me to purchase it.  I got my avos, my slaw mix, onions and potatoes like I'd planned, and picked up some apples and bananas. I moved on. I even, for my meager $50 this week, managed to find a 2lb package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs for $4!

I thought I was a goner though when I hit the soda aisle.  Note: Soda is BAD FOR YOU.  But so is stress.  Do I stress about what the soda might be doing to me? Do I stress about what to replace the soda with? or do I not drink the soda? Eh, it evens out I think.  Anyway, for whatever reason the Safeway "Refresh" brand of diet lemon lime soda has been gone for weeks. The BF takes a soda with his lunch every day and at this point I thought I was going to have to suck it up and spend $6 on a 12-pack of Sprite. I was gritting my teeth as I placed it in the cart.  Stupid soda.  I am NOT making a separate trip to another grocery store just to buy soda.  This is ridiculous.  I swear I'll....oooh hey! What's that? Sprite ZERO (isn't it the same as diet Sprite?) was on sale for $2.67.  Hellllooooo!  Then...Hey! Look!  7up TEN is even less!  $2.47! So in went the 7-Up Ten and out went the Sprite.  I'll tell you though, 7-Up Ten tastes a little different.  I'm sure we'll get used to it; for $2.47 we certainly will.

Anyway, in the end my total for the week was a mere $51.35.  Can I keep up the good work?  Stay tuned to find out!


Saving the Scraps

By Julie Norman
Monday, March 10, 2014

A while back I decided to start saving all of my raw vegetable scraps. Every time I made a salad or chopped onions for a dish, I put the onion peels, carrot shavings, asparagus ends, etc into a produce bag.  I kept the produce bag in the freezer.  My intention originally was to use these scraps to make a vegetable broth.  But...the other day I decided to throw some split chicken breasts (that I'd gotten on clearance) in the crock pot when I went home for lunch.  I added a little chicken broth to the crock pot and by the time I came home we had fully cooked chicken and the start of a great broth.  SO here's what I did :

This is all the chicken bones and broth with about 6 more cups of water and all the vegetable scraps.  I added some salt and let it cook down for a few hours.  Typically if you're making your own broth you should cook it for even longer, but I'm not that patient.

In the end I strained it all through 2 colanders (I really need some cheesecloth) and ended up with a pretty great batch of broth (about 5 cups).  So even though I spend a lot on fresh produce every week, I feel like it's worth it when I use every bit of it. 

What do you do to make sure you get as much mileage out of your produce as possible?


Frugal Friday Links: Extreme Savings Ideas

By Julie Norman
Friday, March 7, 2014

There are people out there like me and Brittany who do what we can to save a little here and there...I like to think we're in the majority.  Then there are those extreme types who, somehow, seem to take on these Superhuman Acts:

Photo from  The folks over at View Along the Way paid off their house in FIVE YEARS.  Unbelievable.

Then there's this family over at 100 Days of Real Food. 

They pledged to do 100 days of real food on a budget.  This meant mostly organic, non-processed foods for a family of four for $125 a week.  That's only $25 more than I spend for TWO PEOPLE!

Anyway, their ideas are inspiring and I plan to do what I can to learn from them.  Happy Friday!

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