What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, November 29, 2013

Finances on Friday

 Some financial considerations for the week:

I told you last Friday I would think about ways to further reduce our monthly grocery bill this week.  I've been wracking my brain for some ideas on how to stay within our grocery budget now that our food store has dwindled.  It was opportunistic that I did my once-a-month grocery haul this week because while out,  I realized that I spend a lot of money on cheese, canned beans and instant brown rice.     We are a cheese family- big time.  We love it.  And eat it, often.  The canned beans and instant brown rice are basically convenience foods...I get them because they are quick and speedy.  It seems like I should be able to find ways to reduce those costs.

I kept coming back to one that I have been thinking about for a while.  Dried beans.

The problem with dried beans is that I forget about them until it is TOO LATE.  I can't cook them fast enough, let alone soak them.  I read this summer about canning dried beans and think this might be a good solution for me.  If I can get some dried beans canned up and ready for 'instant meals' than I can have the convenience of canned beans at dried bean prices.   I will experiment this month with it and see whether or not it is indeed a money saver.  (It must be.)

A few others ideas:

~ buying cheese in bulk online?  (Something I need to research.)
~ eating less cheese (perish the thought!)
~ buying brown rice in bulk and just cooking it already.  This would require a more thoughtful approach to meals with brown rice.  Discipline?!  Perish that thought too!  ;-)
~ no more canned soup.  Tomato soup, in particular
~ make homemade taco seasoning.  (Though I only bought this in bulk, not those little packets so the savings wouldn't be THAT significant.)

Some financial efforts for the week:

* Did the big monthly grocery run.  I made it within cents of $200.00 which was perfect.  Except for the fact that I still have three more weeks of milk to buy and no more money in our envelope! :-)  I may have to adjust the allotted grocery amount to $250.00 until we can start milking Penny. I also anticipate another grocery run before Christmas, as I am hosting 15-20 people for Christmas Eve.

* Took some holiday clothes to the consignment shop.

* I finished a Christmas gift: a crocheted cowl  (*used stash yarn that was given to me.  = FREE!)

* I cut my own hair.

* Made a homemade birthday cake and dinner for our birthday girl.

* I hung all cleaned pants, sweaters and towels to dry by woodstove.

* Just like last week, I got ANOTHER notice in the mail saying I still owed on a bill I had already paid in full months ago.  I kid you not.  This time it was for $144.35~ so it was not only the principle of the thing (like last weeks') but the finances of the thing as well.  I *knew* I had paid it in full already (another over-the-phone payment) so I called them and because I had proof of the conversation, etc. they took the charge off.  What is this?  An epidemic of businesses trying to squeak more money from me than I owe them?  sheesh.  Lesson: Always check your bills to see if you ACTUALLY owe them.  And when you pay something off in full- write the date down and the name of the person you spoke to, if you spoke directly to anyone about it. Generally, if it is a large bill I am paying off, I like to call and pay over the phone just for this reason.

* Finished making some photo calendars to try to sell.  Used a free shipping code to get them shipped for free. 

* Completely reorganized and cleaned one of our food storage nooks after a mouse got into a bag of flour.  Thankfully, it was a a five pound bag of flour instead of 25 or 50 pound bag.  But I was still mad.  Everything in that nook is either in rubbermaid or glass now, except a few pasta and rice boxes.  (I ran out of containers on hand.)  I need to find something for them soon.  Why bother wasting money on food for MICE?  I hate mice.

* Completely reorganized and cleaned the upstairs cubby where I have rubbermaid bins of sheets and blankets and a bin of dress up clothes.  The lids were not put on and I found mice had chewed up several things in the dress up box.  I hate mice.  Everything except one down comforter are in CLOSED tubs now.  Not sure what I should do with the comforter...

* Set a bunch of mouse traps.  I HATE MICE.

* I spent hours re-doing our budget and making a list of all non-budgeted items bought this month in preparation for a budget meeting.  A BUDGET MEETING?!?  Yes.  A budget meeting.  Matt and I agreed to have a meeting on the last day of every month so he and I are both on the same page with where the money goes and how fast.  Unlike traditional budget meetings, however, there will be candles and daquiris and he may or may not get lucky at the end.  :-D

* I listened to this while finishing up the cowl (above): 

Favorite quotes from it:

"Materialism (or consumerism) is not a function of an amount of wealth.  It is a disease of the heart."

"If you give me your  tax returns, your checkbook, your credit statements and so forth, I can pretty well write you the story of your life.  I can certainly see what your goals are, your values are, your priorities are... because your checkbook reveals it."

"All money decisions are symptomatic of spiritual condition.  They are.  No exception.  And if you believe that God owns it all, as I do, then every financial decision you make is a record of your stewardship."


How about you?  How are you doing on your financial goals?  

Any one shopping the Black Friday deals today?


Leah T. said...

You can cook the brown rice ahead of time and through it in the freezer. I do this and it works very well.

I have a yummy recipe for (home)canned tomato soup. It's probably too late for it this year, though. :/

I'm sure homemade taco seasoning is much healthier than store-bought even if it isn't significantly cheaper.

I'm hoping to do some online Christmas shopping to take advantage of some good deals. There will lots of handmade gifts with items I already have on hand, too. It will be fun to see what I can accomplish with our tight budget!

Terri said...

I have never canned dried beans, but I have froze them. I haven't bought canned beans in years. I just cook up a few batches ahead of time and freeze them in gallon freezer bags. This way I can lay them flat without taking up so much space and they thaw quicker that way too.

I make homemade taco seasoning all the time and it is cheaper!

Jill Foley said...

Those are the best kind of meetings...meetings with benefits : )

Terri Cheney said...

I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be lowering my grocery budget, AGAIN, for the third time in 12 months. It seems several things have gone up.

Mice. I couldn't help but chuckle, because just this week I'd been sent a link to an article which led to reading archives. I found this post funny, in a macabre and totally understood way. I HATE mice too!

Anonymous said...

I cook dried beans in a crockpot overnight. The next morning when they are cooked, I drain them, let the beans cool and then freeze them in meal sized portions.

Me said...

I can dried beans and started doing it because, like you, I never think of the dried ones in time and they are such a hassle to make. The recipe I used called for soaking the beans overnight, rinsing, and then filling jars half with the still hard-soaked beans and half with water and a pinch of salt. I also did some with a bit of pork fat and seasonings and they canned FANTASTIC! So do it. You'll be glad you did. It wasn't any cheaper using the small dried bags from the grocery store but it was once I bought a big 'ol fifty pound bag of dried beans.
Brown rice is easy to, if cooked in the oven. One cup rice to three cups water in your casserole dish and bake it at 400 for about an hour. I can usually remember I need rice an hour before the meal and since it is hands-off prep, I don't mind it.
I'm with you on the cheese - I can't stop eating it.
Hope this helps!

Catie said...

Ha! I loved "May or may not get lucky"! You crack me up!! I really enjoy your finances posts. They're inspiring. :)

But what I really want to know is, what are your feelings about mice?

Anna Yager said...

"All money decisions are symptomatic of spiritual condition." The way I used to say it to my clients was "It's NEVER about the money!" The way people make decisions is rooted in the depths of their beliefs, not in numbers. Regarding beans and rice, I found that it's much easier to do them both at the same time each week (Saturdays for me), cooking up enough to use for the entire week. Because I'm focusing my attention on cooking that day, I don't get distracted and forget what's on the stove, since I'm working right there (also roasting veggies & making making broth etc.)

Anna Yager said...

BTW, homemade taco sauce (or any Mexican-type salsa) is SUPER easy and fast to make and MUCH tastier than store bought - and another thing I do on Saturdays while cooking beans and rice!

Mary P said...

Ewe mice! I know the feeling. This is a post from my husbands blog earlier this year... Thought you might enjoy ;-( http://gardeninginwesternwashington.blogspot.com/2013/01/another-epoch-or-life-changing-moment.html

Anonymous said...

As a mother of 10 children I had to learn to Think Ahead.I would cook a huge pan of beans and then freeze them. Works excellent! Jane

MJ said...

I am still cheating in the grocery department and buying the instant rice I swear if use regular rice it is always crunchy I don't know what I am doing wrong. I told my hubby I want a rice steamer when we can find one at a price we can afford.

I want to try dried beans again, I tried the crock pot method and they stayed hard.......Anyway I loved the financial video, I thought we were doing great that we had made some real changes, but after our frugal fail last week I am not so sure. It's time for us to reevaluate I guess.

Rebecca said...

Leah- I really loved that last sentence! You are right- challenges, if viewed in the proper light, can actually become FUN!

Terri- Homemade Taco Seasoning has been on my list of to-do's for a LONG time and just never gets done. I think assuming the price wasn't that much different helped me to shove it to the side. Knowing it saves more than pennies- maybe I will be more prone to actually DO it?! (maybe.)

Terri C.~ funny how they go UP but not down. And BY funny, I really mean, SO not funny.

Catie- your comment cracked me up!

Mary P.~ HA! My favorite part was the "He is looking at me with MALICIOUS EYES!" and then in the background: "uhhh- that's just the camera light." ha!

MJ- Every step you take now is one step closer to preventing last weeks' situation from happening again. Every penny counts- don't lose heart!

As for everyone else- thanks for all the beans and rice suggestions! There might be hope for me yet!

Terri said...

Don't forget that even if you were only saving a few pennies making your own, it also doesn't have the "junk" in it that the packaged seasonings do. Here is my recipe that I always use and it tastes the same! :-)

Taco Seasoning (equals one package)

2 tsp. instant minced onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. crushed red peppers
1/2 tsp. garlic pwder
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

~Cindy~ said...

about the cheese, I recently read if you eat stronger cheese it takes less..like using sharp cheddar instead of mild, that you get more flavor using less cheese...maybe worth a try..

Rebecca said...

Terri- lack of MSG makes it worth it no matter the cost, for sure. Thanks for the recipe!

Cindy- in theory this is true. Except I already buy extra sharp cheese because Matt prefers it. But you are right about eating a lot of milder cheeses. He was given a five pound block of mild cheese as a Christmas gift from one of his clients and I inhaled the stuff. MAN, did I love that cheese!