Friday, January 30, 2009

Trying to Stretch Budget - Random thoughts and ideas

Seeing the Rosie the Riveter poster reminds me that our ancestors went through tough times during their lives just as we are going through them in our lives now.

I've been trying to find ways to s...t...r...e...t...c...h my budget!!!!!!!! There is only Rich and I plus Misty(cat). We don't eat out a lot......just a couple times a month on paydays. I try to find coupons for our meals if possible.

If we go to Sizzler we both get the all you can eat salad bar and a drink. Sometimes we forgo the drinks and just have water. This way we can have soup, tacos, fried chicken, salads and dessert.

If we go to Wendy's, we order one meal with a diet drink, 1 small frosty and a burger from the $1 menu. That way Rich has the burger from the meal, the frosty, 1/2 the fries and I have the burger from the $1 menu, diet drink and 1/2 the fries. We found that this saves us at least $2 from when we ordered 2 full meals. We both get enough to eat and we've saved a couple of bucks.

We do the same as Wendy's when we go to other fast food places.

I want to try making my own Laundry Soap. It sure sounds like it will be a savings. I need to buy the Borax, Fels Naptha bar soap and Washing Powder. I can buy the first 2 at Walmart......need to find where to buy the Washing Powder. That's on my list of TO DO'S!!!!!!!!

We have started using Cloth Napkins instead of buying paper napkins. We also use cloth towels instead of paper towels so much. I've decided that 1 roll of paper towels a month is enough and we only use them for nasty spills, etc. I've found that the 1 roll is lasting for more than a month........I buy them when they are on sale and I have a coupon to put in the pantry.

I've been reading a lot of blogs about saving money, couponing, freebies, ect. There's a lot of good information out there if you have the time to search. I've joined a few newsletters and follow some of the ladie's blogs. Thanks to all of you who put in the long hours of research.

One of the things that I do to stretch my budget is recycle clothing into useful items for my home. I use the fabric for quilts, pillows, rugs, potholders, craft items and lastly rags.

I've started crocheting rugs out of old T-shirts. I cut them straight across under the arms (saving the upper part and sleeves to cut into rags). Then I start at the bottom on an angle and cut that piece into strips about 3/4" wide. I use a "K" hook to crochet the rugs. I like to make them rectangular. I crochet one row leaving a tail at both ends for fringe. WARNING: You need to put something on the bottom of them to keep them from sliding if using on slick floors.

At Christmas time I made some of the boys pillows out of recycled Jeans and flannel scraps from making Rich's shirts. I also used recycled stuffing from a couch that we had thrown away. That's another story. They turned out wonderful and looked very outdoorsy. I want to make some for myself. We have a outdoors theme in our living room and these would look great. I think I will make them a little bigger than the ones I made for the boys.

We decided to get rid of our couch because my back hurt something awful after sitting on it for a few minutes and I couldn't get up off it without help from Rich. Dad had given it to us when he found a couch he liked better. It really wasn't in that bad of shape.....a few spots where their cat had sharpened his claws. So when we decided to get rid of it I told Rich that I was going to recycle the fabric and the stuffing if possible. I got a lot of fabric to make totes, teddy bears, ect. It was overstuffed and there was a lot of nice stuffing that I could save. After gleaning all I could of the fabric and stuffing we broke down the couch and saved the wood for firewood. The rest will go to the dump.

Now I am using a chair until we find a different couch that is easier to get off and doesn't hurt my back.

I have been buying good quality hamburger and stretching it by using TVP (textured vegetable protein). The TVP picks up the flavor of the meat and seasonings or sauces. Since hamburger is Rich's favorite meat this really helps out a lot. Me, I could care less if I have meat or not.

Growing up we didn't have a lot of meat on the table.....mostly fruits and veggies that we grew or harvested free. Dad worked in a plywood mill and Mom stayed at home taking care of us 4 girls........yep 4 girls and no boys. We would help Mom in the garden and then help her can fruits and veggies for winter. Dad and Mom would buy staples when they were on sale for the pantry. They tried to stock up as much as possible because in the winter time Dad's mill would close and he would only have unemployment coming in to take care of the family.

Gardening........I've been looking at the seed catalogs that have been arriving in my mailbox lately. We only have a small raised bed garden and some containers. We are going to try to add to them this year if possible. We have to make sure that the area is fenced because of the herd of deer in our area.

Last year I had chicken wire around my wasn't high enough and they ate the tops off of my potatoes. We got a would have been better if the deer hadn't ate the tops. So this year we are going to add another 3 feet and then put a top on each of the containers. I found a site that sold Potato Bags for growing your potatoes. I didn't want to pay the asking price so I made my own. I took weed barrier sheeting and made the bags. I cut 24" diameter circle and then made a cylinder of the sheeting and sewed it to the circle to make a bag. We put about 12" of blended soil and then put about 5 potato chunks evenly spaced. We added about 6" of soil and waited until the potato plants started coming up and added more soil. We did this until we had the bags filled almost to the top with soil. We had placed cylinders of chicken wire around the bags as we started filling them to help hold their shape. At the end of the season when the tops die back you can dump the bags and harvest your potatoes. I can't wait to try this again this year......with better results. I had 3 bags last year and I want to make at least 3 more this year. We sure enjoyed the potatoes that we harvested last year. No chemical taste because we grow organically.

Well, I'm off to get the potato salad started for Superbowl Sunday! It was requested by Rich along with his Hot Chicken Wings. Being as Superbowl Sunday was between paydays I had to shop for the Goodies last payday and put them away in the pantry for this weekend. I've been dying to get into the Tortilla Chips since I put them in the pantry.....which is in the closet of the Craft/Computer room!!!!!

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