Friday, March 30, 2007

Changing Your Way of Thinking

This morning, I went to the closet to pick out my clothes for the day. It is "jeans day" at work so the bottoms were a given since I only own two pairs of jeans and they are both identical! It took me a few minutes to find a shirt. I had several to choose from but I thought “no, I wore that one last week”. Automatically my thought was “okay, I need to get some more shirts”. I looked in my closet which is overflowing with various shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, etc. and came to a realization.

I do not NEED to buy any more clothes.

Unfortunately, this is the typical way of thinking in the world today. We feel that we need more than X number of shirts or skirts or pants because it is proper to wear something different for X number of days. While yes, I’m going to stick with wearing something different every day in a single week, I’m not going to allow myself to think that just because I wore a particularly nice orange colored shirt last Thursday that I cannot wear it this Friday. That is just crazy!

After giving myself a metal talking to, I went ahead and wore the nice orange shirt to work today. I have nice clothes. I will wear them and wear them proudly.

I did decide that I will be going through all of our clothing this week, mending and putting up winter items, and determining what additional things I will need to look for this summer at yard sales. While I’m at it, I will try to eliminate some of the excess in the closets.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thinking Outloud

Does anyone else walk around their house and see just how much of their stuff was purchased new versus second hand?

I'm always amazed when people walk through my house and tell me how nice and put together everything looks. I sit back and smile knowing that the vast majority of the items were purchased used, gotten for free, handmade, or purchased on sale. The few items that were purchased new were (usually) well planned out and are good picks for us.

My living room contains a nice sectional sofa that my mom purchased from a friend in October for $300. She hated it so she gave it to me. We love it and it gives us more sitting room in our very small 1960's style living room. Also in the room is a 32" console tv that hubby got from work. The sound did not work so someone just left it behind. We simply routed the sound through our stereo system and it works great! Around the tv is an entertainment center that hubby built. It is huge and holds everything from books to collections to dvd players, etc. We also have a bookshelf from Freecycle and my grandmother's antique sewing machine in here.

The only items we got new are the curtains (which were on sale) and the fireplace. The fireplace is one of those electric heaters. It has saved us tons of money on our heating bill in the two winters that we have had it.

I'm contemplating taking pictures of each room and posting them. I wonder if people would be interested?

Pixie Wardrobe - Wednesday

Today is a more expensive clothing day for me. I know, I am I supposed to promote frugality when I buy NEW clothing! *Giggle*

My shirt is a Wally World special that I bought on clearance last year for less than $5. I'm also wearing the brown sandals ($9) and a pair of pink capris ($1.50) that I got last fall. I'm still under $16 for the whole outfit.

It sounds like I wear capris every day, doesn't it? I'll try to get some variety soon!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pixie Wardrobe - Tuesday

I'm wearing a pair of the capri pants that I got last fall, a red shirt from Talbots, and my black sandals. Shoes included, this outfit cost maybe $12. I got the shirt at Goodwill on 1/2 price Wednesday for $1.50.

I love looking at my clothing and knowing that I can look 'put together' for less!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Never Again...

I let a friend trim my tailbone length hair on New Year's Eve. Today on the way home from work, I looked at the ends in the sunlight and was horrified to see that I had tons and tons of split ends! Apparently when my friend cut it, she used DULL scissors! As a result of this, I lost 11 1/2" of length today.

I am in tears. The last time I allowed anyone besides my husband to trim it, it went from bra strap length to my shoulders. 6 years later, I let someone else touch it and it happens again.

I'm in tears...

The moral of the story is to keep people away from your hair!

Free Movie Tickets!

Good for any showing on opening weekend, March 30th – April 1st

You can get up to 10 free tickets per person.

Peaceful Warrior

It looks like a good movie. Free is always a good thing!

In The Black!

Remember a few days ago when I was talking about how badly we’d messed up our checking account? Long story short, we had some financial issues that were compounded when we found out that hubby’s company wasn’t paying him for 5 days of vacation but was only paying for 3. This meant that the check he had waiting for us when we got home was short by 26 hours and the next one (due 3/30) would be short 12 hours. This was havoc on an already precarious situation.

Luckily my beloved hubby is resourceful. He got two side jobs lined up this weekend and made roughly $600! He also was able to sell off a piece of armour for $300. True he will have to build another piece for himself before fighting again but at least he was able to get the funds when we needed them. Thanks to him giving up his weekend, we’re once again in the black. Not much, but we are IN THE BLACK!

Now…I have to do our income taxes. *Groan* I hope those are not too much money!

Fast Food Frenzie

On my drive to work, I tend to think a lot. What else is there to do in a 30 minute commute besides think or road rage? Today’s thoughts went toward thrift and the mistakes I seem to be repeating over and over.

For example, going out to eat when there is plenty of good food in the house. We have lots of food at the house – I went to Aldi on Saturday and spent $68 (with tax) on groceries for the next two weeks. Yet we still go out to eat.

Last night, hubby was coming home from a side job that had him busy from 9:00 until 4:30. I told him that I saw a kickboxing training bag being thrown away by a neighbor. Hubby wanted it to use for SCA practice. After he picked it up, he came home and I went outside to see if I could help him. Apparently it was still full of water (water weights it down) and it slipped as he tried to lift it down. It hit his glasses and the glasses bent horribly and gashed his eye.

First thing I wanted to do was go to the ER. He refused but did agree to butterfly stitches from Walgreens. So after cleaning him up, off we go to Walgreens. $2.16 later, we are in the car. Hubby is starving. I am worried about him. Dinner prep has not been done.

What do we do?

We go to a local Mexican restaurant. Our total was $18. $18! That is a big chunk of my weekly food budget. WHY do I do this? This is our biggest budget destroyer.

Do any of you have suggestions for curbing this monster???

Pixie Wardrobe

Today I’m wearing a ¾ length sleeve shirt (very thin) in an off white color, light lime colored capri pants, and sandals. The shirt was free, the capri pants cost $1 at a yard sale, and the sandals were one of the two pairs I bought this week for $9. Total, the outfit, with shoes, without undergarments cost $10. This is higher than a lot of mine because I usually have inexpensive shoes.

The sandals were bought in brown and black. They are flip flop styles with little beads sewn on them. They were inexpensive but dressy enough for work. Had I not gotten these, I would not have had suitable shoes to wear with my 4 “new” pairs of capri pants that I bought for this summer’s work wardrobe.

Last year, in October I found a lot of clothing on one of the local online garage sale sites. For $7, I got 3 pairs of capri pants, a pair of dress slacks for work, and a few other items. It ended up costing less that $1 per item so I was happy. I put them up in a storage tote and just pulled them out again this week. The temps are in the mid-80’s so it is definitely capri season!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thrifty Spring Cleaning

Today I want to air out the house a bit and get some Spring Cleaning underway. Here in the Mid-south we are having unseasonably warm weather. Today is supposed to get to 84 degrees! I refuse to start using the air conditioning this early in the season. I have been using the ceiling fans and an additional squirrel cage fan that hubby uses at work in the hottest part of the afternoon. Since the morning hours are generally the coolest, I think I will take advantage of that. I want to work on the living room and the master bedroom today. De-cluttering, dusting (oh my allergies), and generally tiddying shall commence soon - with lots of breaks of course. Having a chronic illness puts a damper on doing lots of strenuous activities. Oh well, even if it takes me all day long, at least it will be done!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fitting In – Or Not

This is a question for those of you who work outside of the home. Do you ever feel a need to tune out the conversations around you? Are you ever just appalled by the things people spend their hard earned money on?

One person I work with went shopping and found a pair of $69 sandals that she plans to purchase soon. Another was talking about the drinks she gets each day at Starbucks. They all go out to lunch on a daily basis. A third talks about all of the shoes she owns – over 100 pairs and how each pair matches a particular outfit.

Today I went out for lunch. It was a co-worker’s birthday and the company paid for our lunch. The only time I ever go out to lunch is when it is a situation like this. Quite honestly, I can think of hundreds of other things I would rather spend money on! My lunch was a burrito ($8.99) and lemonade ($1.99). While yes, the food was very tasty, I could not help thinking about how that one meal with tip was ¼ of our weekly grocery budget! Add in the food items for the entire party of 4 and you’ve got my grocery budget for a week or two. That is crazy!

The conversations at lunch were interesting as well.

One person commented that a particular restaurant was nice. Two meals and drinks costs over $100! $100 for dinner? For two people? Talk about a culture shock!

The there was the comment about Costco and how they are better than Sam’s because they take credit cards. The products bought there: paper plates, paper towels, and other convenience items that are not necessary or earth friendly. This person’s wife is a stay at home mom. What do they need all the convenience items for?

I guess I do not fit in at work. My goals for life, my values, and everything make me different from those around me. Sometimes it is easier just to put on my headphones and tune them out!

Dinner at the Pixie Hut

People seem to want to know what I’m eating so I thought I would share that with you here. I will try to break down the cost when I am able. Oftentimes though it will be a guess because we do get food from alternate sources like Angel Food Ministries.

Last night, we had spaghetti with homemade sauce. I made up a lot of food a few weeks before our vacation and put it in boil bags. At that time, I made the sauce with 6 cans of tomato sauce, 3 cans of tomatoes, 2 cans of olives, 1 ½ pounds of ground turkey/beef mixture, and seasonings.

Tomatoes and tomato sauce are 3/$1 at Save a Lot. Olives are 2/$1. Ground beef and g round turkey are from Angel Food Ministries and the price breaks down to about $1/pound. This means that minus spices I spent $5.50 to make a huge crockpot full of sauce. It was enough for at least 6 – 10 meals for us. Since I did not figure this as accurately as I should have, we will say that the sauce cost $0.75 for two people. A whole box of spaghetti costs less than $1 per pound. We use less than half a box or $0.50. This means that for $1.25 I fed both of us with some leftovers.

Tonight is going to be an fast food night: chicken tenders and French fries. We get a lot of nice white meat chicken tenders from Angel Food so we have “tender and fries” night every week or so. The fries are from Save a Lot (this time) and cost $1.99 for 3 pounds. This meal cost about $3 for both of us with leftover fries for my French fry loving husky. Compared to McDonalds or the like, this is a very inexpensive fast food meal.

Another Low-Cost Outfit

Today I am wearing:

Sage green v-neck tee (Faded Glory) (I saw these same shirts at the store in the fall for around $12) - $0.50
Capri jeans (Carolina Blues) - $2
Slide on tennis shoes (No Boundaries) – Free (found by hubby)

This outfit could have easily been purchased at my neighborhood wallyworld for $45 or so, including the shoes. Instead I spent $2.50 on the whole ensemble. Go me!

I am trying to get to the point where 100% of my clothing comes from thrift stores, yard sales, or the like. Right now I’m at about 90%. My two pairs of jeans came from Target. However, I did not just go out and buy them. I exhausted all efforts to get them from other sources. All of my other jeans were too big (falling off – with a belt). I bought mid-priced, high quality jeans from Target knowing that my jeans always last about 4 to 5 years and should I lose weight, they would easily resell.

Incidentally, I sold one bag of my too big jeans for $10 and donated another big bag to my mom. I am always tickled to get the same amount out of the item as I put into it at a thrift store years before. It is like I essentially got to wear it for free!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Free Food

I brought my lunch to work on Wednesday and it is still sitting in the fridge here at work. No, I’m not on a fad diet; quite the opposite actually. The officers here at work have had meeting this week. When they have leftovers, they are put into the break room for everyone to enjoy. Yesterday, I had a really nice egg, sausage, & cheese concoction on a flatbread. There were enough of those left for me to take a few home for dinner last night. Today, I had a bacon, eggs, and cheese croissant and fresh strawberries and pineapple chunks.

Some of the people here turn up their noses at the food because it is “leftovers”. I guess I’m of the mindset that if I do not have to eat the lunch I brought today it will be good tomorrow. I don’t snub freebies as long as they are properly contained. Free is free after all!

Thrifty Lunches

Thanks to an idea I saw on a blog yesterday (sorry I forget which one), I made up a big container of pasta salad. This is a great lunch or snack for me to take to work. My whole container (at least 10 -15 servings) cost me less than $2.25.I had a free bottle of Italian salad dressing from my mom. Next time I will have to pay for dressing but that will make it about $3.25 for the batch.

Garden Rotini Pasta ($1)
2 Cans of Tuna – drained well ($1)
1 Bottle of Italian salad dressing (Free)
Garlic Salt & Pepper (5cents?)
Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese (20 cents?)

I just ate a snack of it and boy is it good!!


Do any of you get a thrill out of knowing that your clothing costs significantly less than that of your peers? Perhaps I am strange but I think about these things on my way to work in the morning (hey, I have a 20 mile commute!).

I work in a corporate office. We dress business casual Monday – Thursday and have “jeans day” on Friday. Today’s outfit (minus panties and bra) cost me about $1.

I am wearing a long khaki skirt (free), a light orange knit shirt (free), and Bass brand sandals ($1 at a yard sale). The free items came from a local freecycle group or from some items hubby found at work (he works in apartment maintenance and gets some stuff from time to time). The skirt is “Tape measure” brand which I know is sold at Macy’s (I bought some shorts in this brand 11 years ago!). The shirt is “Lands End”.

The things I wear are not crappy, polyester, out of date things. I look appropriate for the workplace. My clothing is comparable to that of my co-workers. The only difference is that I spend significantly less. In fact, I would be willing to bet that my entire closet full of clothing for both myself and my husband costs less than one week’s worth of business outfits for my co-workers (not including shoes)!

Yeah, I get my thrills in strange ways!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Frugal Blogroll

I have to admit that I've been a secret reader of Life in a Shoe for quite a while. While I am not a mother to numerous children or anything, I do admire the moms who have a large family. I am not able to bear children myself and hubby had a vesectomy while married to his ex-wife.

Anyway, today, while reading some of the frugal blogs, I noticed that there was a Frugal Blogroll. While I am still a novice in the blog-world, I thought it would be a good idea to be invoved in a blogroll that supports ideas that I believe in.

That being said, I jumped in and joined The Frugal Blogroll. I hope that those of you with frugal blogs will join too!

Falling Off the Wagon

Hello, my name is Kali and I’ve fallen off of the wagon.

This is where you’re supposed to say “Hi Kali”.

As a result of circumstances beyond my control (i.e. excessive spending by my spouse, vacation issues, etc.), I am seriously in debt. I do not want to dwell upon how I got into this hole; instead I’m going to do whatever I can to dig myself out. I am going to be positive and put my best self forward.

There is really no way for me to earn more money at my job so I will instead focus on shaving money off of our daily living expenses. Please do not suggest I get a second job. I physically cannot take on any additional work. I have fibromyagia and working one job is difficult enough. My husband, however, is willing and able to take on additional duties. He is trying to get a bit of overtime from his job in the next few weeks. We also are promoting his side business in the hopes of obtaining a few night or weekend jobs.

The main area where we can save money is on food and spending. We have a habit of going out to eat WAY too much. This costs quite a bit of money ($30 at a sit down restaurant) and also allows the food at home to spoil. In order to cut down on this, I will be taking a more active role in planning and cooking our meals.

Our weekly food budget is $60 for food, beer, and soda. Hubby drinks soda and the occasional beer so I add that into our budget. However, if I will stay on top of things and make tea and lemonade, he will drink at least 1/3 less of soda. He does drink generic soda ($0.58 per 2 liter) so I cannot complain too much. We also allocate $50 per month to purchase Angel Food packages.

I would like to get this down to $30 per week by supplementing with our Angel Food products. This is going to be a challenge for me. The Aldi Queen had an Iron Chef Moms Challenge last week that inspired me. I want to calculate the cost of our meals for the week. It would be nice to see just where our food dollars are going. By lowering the food bill by $20 per week, I will have nearly $100 per month that can go toward paying down our horrible debts.

I would also like to get our spending down. This is yard sale season so I will be going out shopping. However, I will buy only gift items and clothing to replace items currently worn out. There is no need to get more clutter for my house. Yard Sale season does lower our bills at the store. I often find household repair items there for cheap.

Our household money is a modest $50 per month. This can EASILY be shaved to $25 per month with some minor tweaking. We do need specialized toilet paper, OTC sinus meds, ibuprofen, and personal hygiene items monthly. Other than that, we just buy things that are not really needed.

There is little wiggle room in our budget. We save a mere $200 per month and pay out $400 toward our credit card debt. Basically we’ve screwed up royally and now we have to pay the piper, so to speak.

I refuse to be negative. I will be positive about this and learn from my mistakes.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Vacationing the Frugal Way

You know, I got to thinking about a few things today and I realized just how inexpensive our vacatioin is.

$112 for site fees (camping, showers, etc)
$75 for food (approximate)
$200 for gas
$0 for clothing as all of our garb is still in good condition
$50 for spending money

Even if you factor in the $1,200 that we spent to make the vardo, we would still be under the typical $1,500 vacation amount.

And while on vacation, we will be making some moeny as well. Hubby is selling a piece of armour that he made and I am babysitting a few nights. We also have the option of working for a vendor helping him set up/tear down. This will give us plenty of spending money and fuel.

I guess if you think about it, our vacation is a lot less expensive than many of them. I really appreciate a vacation from mundane life. Only 3 more days!

Blogsvertise with me!

Blogsvertise is a site promited by Frugal Momma. She has a friend who made money from this and I hope to be able to also. Apparently you make money by talking about people's products in your blog. I know that this is something I can do!

My blog is pending approval. Once approved, I hope to get an assigment soon.

Check it out - Blogsvertise!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ways to Save

My life feels full of bills lately. I really don’t like that feeling at all. However, I’m not going to make things worse by dwelling upon them. I will instead focus on something positive that I am doing.

This weekend was a busy one. On Saturday, I helped my neighbor with her yard sale which was held a t another family member’s home. . I did not make any money myself but I did get a few things for free from the sale. Funny thing was the best stuff we got came out of the family member’s trash can. He threw out stuff that was GOOD! We got a tent and several cans of bug repellant and first aid spray. We also took a lot of toys out of there that we sold at the yard sale.

On Sunday I spent the day cooking for our upcoming trip. We are going on a weeklong SCA event. A lot of the people there will either purchase meals at high prices in the merchant area. Others will join a food plan and pay $35 per person or so for their weeks worth of meals. Another popular idea is to join a food plan where you cook for a group one night and other people cook on the other nights. We have found that none of these options are right for us. Eating at the “food court” area means spending $10 or more per meal. Spending $70 to join a food plan where the food is not always served on time or even served at all isn’t good for us either. We tried option #3 a few years back and then had to join another food plan that week because people were not cooking their assigned meals. Of course, we could just cook there on site but cleaning up and prep work would take up a large portion of our time.

A few years ago, we hit upon a plan that works for us. We cook our dinners in advance and use our sealer to vacuum seal the meals into 2 portion sized meals. This allows us to have a good variety of meals made at home with cheap ingredients. We are able to stock pile up our meats through the preceding months so we don’t have a large expense right before our vacation. We put these meals into the freezer until the night before we leave. Then they are put into a cooler with dry ice. They stay frozen all week long. At dinner time, we simply pull out our chosen meal and toss it into a pot of boiling water. If it is cold and rainy, we still have a nice hot dinner.

Yesterday, my husband pulled all of the meat we will be using out of our deep freezer. I cooked up ground beef/ground turkey for spaghetti sauce, beef stroganoff, and chili. I grilled chicken breasts on the George Forman grill. I made a large crockpot of beef stew and a huge pot of potato soup.

By cooking this way, I am able to feed my family and any stragglers who need a good hot meal. We are not eating fancy meals but they are wholesome and good.

We bring lunch items like sandwich spreads and peanut butter with us. The only hot meal cooked on site is breakfast. Hubby makes French toast and pancakes a few mornings. Other than that, I eat pop tarts or oatmeal. This is one time of year when I allow myself to buy pop tarts so I really enjoy them.

Our total food bill for the week for approximately 4 adults per meal is about $75.