Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take care of the pennies...

With upgrading to a new computer
we had 100's of Word documents and 10's of thousands of photos to go through and move over and organize on our new computer. While going through this process (still haven't got the photos organized yet),
I came across a handout I had made for a Budget meeting Tracy and I were asked to speak at last year on creative ways we save money!
(that meeting is what started this challenge)

I wanted to save this for my journal, but also thought there is a lot of great information here and it may help some of you in thinking of ways you to can save money,
because I am a firm believer in the philosophy

"If you take care of the pennies,
the dollars will take care of themselves".

Here are some “Little things”
we do that make a big difference
in our life and finances:
(note that these are just suggestions and every family and situation is different)

--”Brown bag” our lunches. There almost isn’t a day that we don’t take a meal to school/work from home. It is a very rare occasion to eat out or for the kids to get school lunch. Usually our lunches are yummy leftovers from earlier that week.

--We eat homemade as much as possible! Main dishes, treats, cookies, granola bars, muffins, bread, pancakes, breakfasts, all of our meals are 95% of the time made with love in our home.

--I also try and make extra bread and muffins and then freeze them so there is always something to pull out of the freezer for those hectic mornings or evenings, when I didn’t have time to think ahead and prepare anything.

--MUFFINS make a great lunch (if there is nothing else to send). Throw in a hard-boiled egg, string cheese, some kind of fruit and some veggies sticks and this makes a great lunch. Having muffins in the freezer, means I am never in a “pickle” to not have something to send my family to eat. $2.00 school lunches and $5.00 eating out for parents at lunch really adds up to A LOT of money, whereas, taking food from home is just a fraction of this price.

--Frugal breakfasts (NO cold cereal, granola bars, bagels, donuts, etc…) instead, we have steel cut oats (or other hot cereal) for our Monday-Friday breakfasts and then for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday we make pancakes (from scratch-No Krusteaz), French Toast from homemade bread and a variety of egg dishes. This saves immensely on groceries and also milk.

--When eating out we usually SHARE entrees.

--We do NOT waste money on liquid calories and try to avoid buying pop and bottled juices, especially at a restaurant. Water is ALWAYS our drink of choice.

--WATER! We all have our own water bottles and take them with us everywhere we go. Anytime we head into town our water bottles are filled and we don’t ever purchase water. Also, when we go on trips or for summer drives we fill up our 2 gallon water jug and have it available to refill our water bottles.

--No Convenience Store munchies! We try as much as possible to be thinking ahead when we go on a trip or summer drive and always bring our own munchies and snacks (popped up popcorn, chips that we bought on sale, homemade treats, etc…) This can save A LOT of money as we were not always good about doing this and have wasted a lot of money over the years on over-priced treats!

--Our meals we eat only have a fraction of meat in them and they are FULL of lots of veggies, which saves money as meat is expensive. It’s amazing how you only need a little bit of meat to add flavor.

--One or two meals each week are made from beans and legumes which not only is more healthy, but VERY economical as beans and legumes are pennies the cost of meat.

--Homemade soups are a staple in our home. I don’t think there is a better way to nourish your family, then with a pot of homemade soup (served with some kind of homemade bread or rolls).

--This is a silly thing, but I cut all of my bounce sheets in half and only use ½ a sheet each time I do laundry and it really does work. It is like “buy one get one free” when you do this.

--MECHANIC… Not only does Tracy do all of the oil/fluid changes on all of our vehicles, Tracy has bought every manual for each of our cars and has done all of the basic repair work on our cars. It is easier than you might think to do basic repairs that happen most frequently such as broken water pumps, bad alternators, fuel pumps, brake pads, CV joints, recharging A/C, oil changes and so forth.

--This also goes for bicycle repairs and misc. home repairs. There isn't anything we have paid to have done. Tracy is "Mr. Fix-it" from cars, to bicycles, to dishwashers, plumbing, hard wood flooring, wiring our house, etc....

--No CABLE TV or Satellite Dish! (we estimate over $7000 in savings from this alone in our 20 years of marriage) We have always been content with FREE TV and an occasional home movie night. We’d rather be out getting fresh air and exercise anyway.

--I buy cases of chewing gum from Sam’s Club. There are 10 packs for $6.88 and so it means our gum costs us .68 for each pack instead of $1.00.

--I buy large bottles of spices, cornstarch, etc… from Sam’s Club. I then refill my spice bottles with spices that I buy in the BULK section at Winco. This is a great money saver.

--I consider butter and cheese staple items and so I buy LOTS of butter and cheese and freeze it and that way there is never an excuse not to make homemade treats and if you have some yummy cheese to add to your meals this is “comfort food”.

--I purchase Vitamin D milk and then when the milk is half gone, I mix up 2 quarts of powdered milk into the milk jug and you really cannot tell the difference and it means we are avoiding all of the little trips at the store to buy just milk (that usually end up having you spend more money) and you are rotating your food storage as well. (here for post I did about this)

--Most of the time when I cook up a roast, we never have a “free for all” with a meal like mashed potatoes and gravy. I usually make up some kind of fajitas and then freeze the meat and drippings for future beef stews and soups or roast beef sandwiches for lunch.

--I cook up several hams and turkeys each year and then FREEZE the cut up ham or turkey to have to pull out for future soups. I also freeze the turkey carcass and then pull it out later and boil it up all day and make our homemade broth that we freeze to pull out for future meals as well.

--We use the “Earth Gym” rather than spending money on gadgets that end up being a place to dry clothes, etc… We try to get out and go on walks each day and also enjoy shoveling our sidewalks in the winter and mowing the lawn with a push mower in the summer to get exercise.
We also HIKE as much as we can and this is so wonderful for kids to get out and see things with their families and to get exercise and to gain a love for the outdoors as well.

--No magazine subscriptions. We go on a weekly date each week and enjoy reading magazines at Barnes and Noble.

--How do you make a car last a long time? You simply resist the temptation to purchase a new one”!!

Pay cash for cars! It isn’t hard to find a safe and reliable vehicle for around $4,000 to $6,000 and by getting a car for this price, you can pay cash for it with money you are saving away each month.
This alone will save you thousands of dollars!

--We do biking and hiking versus doing motor sports. It keeps us active and we don’t have to spend money on maintenance, gas, etc… PLUS, it means we can all pile in the car with a lunch in a day pack and our hiking shoes on and head to the mountains anytime we like without the hassle of dealing with the work that comes from having these kinds of toys.

--We usually purchase 70,000 mile Les Schwab Tires. This saves not only money, (since these tires are not double the price of lower mileage tires), but it means you won’t have to buy tires for your car for quite a few years. This means a lot when you live out in the country and put so many miles on your car.

-- Avoid being sick…it is costly!
Taking care of your health is a key thing and living frugally with lots of healthy foods really does wonders to your health and staying healthy. By cooking your own food, you are avoiding SO much added sugar and salt that comes from eating processed foods (which regulates your blood sugar and blood pressure) and by eating many grains and fruits and vegetables you keep your colon healthy and working as well…
these three things are KEY to keeping healthy.
(keep your blood sugar and blood pressure down
and your colon emptied)

Other than a few “out of the blue” things no-one in our home has gone to the doctor for being “Sick” since Ethan was an infant and had RSV and I haven’t used a sick day at work since Ethan was born.
I attribute much of this to eating healthy and staying active.

--I buy a hair highlighting kit (for around $12) and divide it into thirds and then I can do 3 different hair high-lighting sessions instead of making up the whole box and wasting it. Then every 6-8 weeks, we all put on highlighting caps, pull our hair through and have a hair highlighting party!

--I cut our hair and this saves at least $30.00 each month

--The job of a frugal family means you are always planning for tomorrow…dishing up leftovers for lunch tomorrow before you eat dinner, planning tomorrow’s meals and snacks the night before.

--Remember, it’s okay to say NO to your kids when it comes to activities. We let our kids choose one extra-curricular activity each year. The idea that we need to have our kids in every single sport, dance or music activity doesn’t need to be. Not only are all of these activities expensive, it all is VERY consuming of our time and gas to get them there as well.
HOWEVER, we do plan Lots of FAMILY FUN activities we can all enjoy together!!

--Have your kids be a part of your finances and planning meetings.
When they help you decide how you spend your time and money,
it’s amazing the things they choose and they are usually things you think they wouldn’t.
Most of all kids love to spend TIME with you!

--Raising your own chickens…this is not only a great source of protein, but it gives your kids chores. We feed the chickens, they give us eggs, we then feed our scraps to the chickens to supplement their diet, and then they give us compost to use for future gardens.

--“Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or do without”.
The older I get and the more frugal we live, the more I see the TRUTH in this statement.

--Whether it be chicken or a roast...we make it stretch for several meals

--We only buy what is on our list (even if we see something that is on sale)and if we do see something we like and or want, we always go home and think on it and 90% of the time we forget about it and never go back and purchase it.

--Never pay full retail for anything! I buy all of my kid’s clothes at either thrift stores or when they are on SALE! I buy summer clothes for the next summer season in the fall when they are just pennies on the dollar and the same with winter and fall clothing.

--In much the same way as we do with our tithing, we pay a big chunk of our paycheck towards our debt, OR, savings, as soon as the paycheck is in the bank! Then we are forced to live frugally to make sure we make it through the month without going in the red.
You always spend what you have and so if you don’t have that money in your account, you won’t be tempted to spend and it will force you to be creative and frugal with your money and time during the month.
Keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind!

--Be a Savvy Consumer!!
THINK---infomercials and end-caps at department stores
are impulse items for Gullible consumers!!
Develop immunity to these “Consumer Landmines”.

--I buy LARGE bottles of shampoo and conditioner and shower gel. We have a dispenser in our shower and we fill it up with shampoo and conditioner from our large bottles we buy. Not only do you not have lots of containers to deal with in the shower, it means that little kids can’t waste the shampoo and conditioner by dumping too much out. I buy ½ gallon jugs of Hair Spray from a hair salon I refill my small of hair-spray from the large bottle. I am amazed how much money this saves!

--We keep the thermostat to our furnace (which provides heat to the entire house) at 62 degrees. We have a natural gas stove that warms the main congregating areas of our house that we keep a little warmer than that (but it usually doesn't go up over 68). PLUS, all the baking I do keeps the kitchen area toasty warm. In other areas of the house if we are chilly, we wear sweaters/sweatshirts or use blankets. (funny note: whenever we go to friends/family homes in the winter we are usually too HOT as our bodies are used to being in a cooler place and we are always dressed short sleeve shirts being worn at our house in the winter time).
--We don’t carry a balance on a credit card. If we make an online purchase of some kind, we pay the bill in full the next pay check.

--A fun drink for kids… 10 cent package of Kool-Aid Lemonade, ½ cup sugar (which is ½ the sugar it normally calls for). Mix it up and kids are happy and it’s not too bad for them either. MUCH cheaper and healthier than store bought drinks that are sweetened with High Fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

--To us vacations are an essential part of being alive!!
We buy a National Park Pass each year so we can enjoy the world class National Parks that are so close to us. (Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park, Yosemite, Glacier and Southern Utah).
Taking weekend trips to the National Parks, is most of the time a matter of putting gas in the car, packing a picnic, throwing in our tent and sleeping gear and in just a few hours time we are seeing beautiful country. A campsite in a National Park is much cheaper than a hotel. When we ask our kids what their favorite memories are, it is usually always some memory about being in the National Parks, camping, doing the camp fire programs, day hikes, etc…

What our money does NOT do for us:
Purchase luxury vehicles, 103” plasma TV’s, designer clothes, and other excessive material goods.
We save our money for what is important to us, not what is important to other people.
This allows us to live a comfortable life on OUR terms, not other peoples.

(Our favorite books for
simple and frugal living)
“Your Money or Your Life”…. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
“The Simple Living Guide”… Janet Luhrs
“America’s Cheapest Family”… Steve and Annette Economides
“The Tightwad Gazette”… Amy Dacyczyn
“Frugal Living for Dummies”… Deborah Taylor-Hough

I truly believe with all my heart...

"If you take care of the pennies,
the dollars will take care of themselves"!


Ann Marie said...

It's no wonder you have the calling that you do.. they seriously should have you traveling to different stakes to teach your expertise on these things!!!

I am 100% with you on some things.. like making things from scratch.. and no extra activities for my kids.. but boy -- you would be ashamed at how I love to shop!

At least it's thrift shopping always though right? lol!!

Anyways.. I am so inspired and impressed with all of the ways you save.. and we have brought much of these things into our home lately..

We have had to make some great changes with food in the last couple of months.. and I haven't blogged about it yet.. but OY! when you are trying to eat healthier.. it has cost us! I spent almost $600 in the big change! -- But it's worth it.

We hope that one day when you use your park pass in Utah.. you will stop by our abode!!

PS: We have a trip planned to Lava Hot springs with all of my family the first week in August. Is that close to your home???

CB said...

Kimmie this is an excellent post and one I think could be printed in the Ensign or the church news - seriously!!
You and Tracy have really conquered "The Spending Monster" and it truly is a monster. And you are great parents teaching this to your boys and it will be passed down through your posterity.

There is something in this post for everyone to learn and/or improve upon. I have found many of these wise tips to be very true in our own family, but there are many area's where we fall short and are working on.

I love your wisdom and your willing to share!!

P.S. We also are National Park junkies, as well as Historic site junkies - Nothing like enjoying our beautiful country and nature!!!

Sondra said...

As always, these post motivate me to do better.

I have to say 62 degrees... I'd die!! Especially in Eastern Idaho. I don't know how you do that.

JENNIFRO said...

I am floored by this post. I can honestly say I don't know anyone who lives like you. I think this is one of the most interesting, inspiring and fascinating posts I have ever read, especially considering you aren't preaching about a subject you understand, but simply portraying the life you live. This should be published. What I would give to have a "trainer" to teach me how to be like this...instinctively. I am such an impulsive person--especially when it comes to buying. WOW!! Let's just leave it at that.

Kimmie said...

Hi Sondra, I think you would survive okay at our house. I hate to pay money for heat as it feels like I’m just holding money in my hand and the wind is blowing it away, I would rather bundle up a little more and have the money to use for something else (Tracy is always more apt to turn up the heat than I am)

All of our bedrooms are cooler, but we all have an extra blanket on our beds and we keep VERY warm in the winter. The main area is always WARM with our natural gas stove and between cooking/baking, it is very pleasant. We all wear long sleeve shirts and socks and keep plenty warm.

I feel SO fortunate to live in an insulated house that is protected from the elements. There are millions if not billions of people in this world that would love to have what we have, that live in huts and are not protected well from the elements and that many days wonder where their next meal is coming from and many do not have warm clothing.

I feel rich and blessed beyond measure, when I think of what I have…which is a very happy, comfortable, wonderful life!

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

Such a great post!
Another award winner!

I love many of those same "frugal" books you do.

You are a good reminder to me to cook from scratch more. Thank you for the motivation.

Your kids are very blessed indeed.

I LOVE your eggs. I would love to live in the country so I could enjoy a "herd" of chickens.

You are a gem.

C Smith said...

Thought you might like this article...check it out.

Kimmie said...

Hi Ann Marie...I always enjoy hearing from you!

One of the biggest rewards from living frugally in many areas is you can take the money you save and buy HEALTHY food!

I always have enough fresh fruit for us to all have at least an apple a day, plus a banana, or some other kind of fruit and we eat salads and smoothies weekly.

I had a lady comment in our ward after I gave this presentation, about how saving in many areas gave them money so they COULD eat fresh, yummy healthy food. It changed her life greatly and she was so appreciative and I had no idea the impact for good it had on her family, until she told me that.

BTW...our food/toiletries budget each month is $300 and we eat SO well! My kids don't ever feel deprived and they look forward to whatever is served on the table for dinner or whatever is in their lunches.

Looking forward to sharing ideas on health with each other and I'm excited to read about your journey with healthy living.

Andi said...

Thank you so much for your post! You may not remember me, but I worked at Apple Tree Learning Center several years ago, when your boys were little. Tracy also grew up with my brother in law, Chad Jenson from Rigby. Anyway, I was encouraged by Chad and his wife Amy to read your blog post and I'm so glad I did! You were the inspiration for our family's home evening lesson on Monday and it's been such a great week as I have begun to implement many of your ideas. Thank you, thank you- for your example and for being courageous enough to not follow the trend of spend, spend, spend!

Andrea Jensen