Archives For Frugal Ideas

Free Cell Phone – really?

December 19, 2013 — 15 Comments

So the morning headline was “FREE CELL PHONE FOR STUDENTS” – sounds like a good deal, right? I thought so too until I started reading the fine print:

1 – You have to purchase a cell phone from this electronics store at full price. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it requires some up front cash.
2 – There is a small monthly charge to administer the account, and there is a dangerous overage charge for the data plan (unless you are a very light data user).
3 – You may want to consider before upgrading your student to a smartphone that requires a data package. Simplicity, like a cell phone that only talks and texts, can be a fine gift.

Consider carefully what kind of cell phone is truly a “gift” and what kinds might set a young person up to overspend.

Are you considering getting that special someone a cell phone or smart phone for Christmas? Refuse to pay retail. Consider this:

Typically, in your household budget, fuel costs are your biggest fluctuating expenses. You use your car to get to work and meet family obligations. You use your mind and body to serve well at work and at home, so let’s fuel your physical as well as we fuel your vehicle.

This is part 4 of a 4 part series on using a slow cooker to create meals at very low cost and small time investment. Whether you are a family of 6 or a family of 1, the principles stay the same: cooking at home saves you money. Merry Christmas! You get two recipes for the “price” of one post: BBQ Pulled Pork and Salsa Chicken.

At this time of year, spiral cut ham and frozen turkeys are mainstays to holiday celebrations. Prime cuts of meat are also expected to sell well (prime rib, ribeye, pork loin, etc). Watch for when the meat manager at your favorite grocery store throws on sale Pork Shoulder (aka “Boston Butt” or “Picnic” cuts). This cut of meat has good fat marbling and is hard to overcook or dry out in your slow cooker.

Ridiculously Easy Pulled Pork

One Pork Shoulder
1 bottle BBQ sauce of choice (If you will be serving with onions and pickles, go for a Hickory or Honey Mustard variety. If you’re serving it straight up, go for whatever suits your fancy.)

Put in your slow cooker for 6 – 8 hours on low. Let cool for a few minutes, then shred with two forks or chop with a good sharp knife. It’s ready to serve when your sandwich buns are lightly toasted or your baked potatoes are begging for a topping of this good stuff.

Variations:

http://allrecipes.com/video/670/slow-cooker-pulled-pork/

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-cooker-pulled-pork-sandwiches-recipe/index.html

 

Salsa Chicken

This works great with chicken breasts or chicken thighs – whatever your preference or what is on sale.

2 – 3 lbs. chicken
1 can reduced sodium Cream of Mushroom soup, plus milk as directed on can
Taco Seasoning (create your own mix or use a packet)

Put in your slow cooker for 6 hours on low, come home to a fabulous smelling home and serve this main dish with rice or pasta plus your favorite veggie side.

Variations:

http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/10/embarrassingly-easy-crock-pot-salsa.html

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=871817

 

Whether you are an experienced cook, or you are just getting started, enjoy these recipes! When you have a success, call me and let’s celebrate your physical and financial health. – Julia, 817 999[2748]

Typically, in your household budget, fuel costs are your biggest fluctuating expenses. You use your car to get to work and meet family obligations. You use your mind and body to serve well at work and at home, so let’s fuel your physical as well as we fuel your vehicle.

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on using a slow cooker to create meals at very low cost and small time investment. Whether you are a family of 6 or a family of 1, the principles stay the same: cooking at home saves you money. Read on if you have a chicken (or turkey) carcass that holds lots of flavor and meat just waiting to be used in a hearty soup to keep you warm as the temperatures drop.

 

Chicken-Tortilla Soup Continue Reading…

Typically, in your household budget, fuel costs are your biggest fluctuating expenses. You use your car to get to work and meet family obligations. You use your mind and body to serve well at work and at home, so let’s fuel your physical as well as we fuel your vehicle.

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on using a slow cooker to create meals at very low cost and small time investment. Whether you are a family of 6 or a family of 1, the principles stay the same: cooking at home saves you money. Read on for a Bourne Legacy type Black Bean Soup recipe with time/date stamps and everything.  Continue Reading…

Typically, in your household budget, fuel costs are your biggest fluctuating expenses. You use your car to get to work and meet family obligations. You use your mind and body to serve well at work and at home, let’s be sure to fuel our physical as well as we fuel our vehicle.

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on using a slow cooker to create quality meals at low cost, and minimal time investment. Whether you are a family of 6 or a family of 1, the principles stay the same: cooking at home saves you money.

Sausage and Lentil Soup Continue Reading…

Garage_Sale_evalYou decided to have a garage sale – great! You spent a lot of time getting ready for the sale collecting, labeling, advertising and making yourself available for the sale times – go YOU! Now that the garage sale is over, how will you evaluate the Garage Sale’s Success?

We would encourage you to consider the following areas:
  • Typically we are hosting a garage sale to create cash. It makes sense to evaluate the garage sale in terms of the amount of cash you created by letting go of your stuff. Did you accomplish your cash goal? If you didn’t, what is your “plan B” to accomplish meeting that goal? If you exceeded your cash goal, did you plan how to use that irregular income?
  • Cash is a tangible and limited asset, just like your time. Think back on the garage sale preparation and execution – did you receive a good pay rate per hour? If you hadn’t had your garage sale, would you have done something profitable, or would you have used the time for recreation? Money, time and energy are three very valuable, and limited, resources. Spend wisely and according to your values.
  • Did you enjoy visiting with people and talking about the sale items? At times, we’re having a garage sale because of a job change or job loss. Have you considered each garage sale customer as a potential networking opportunity? Would you have met your garage sale customers in any other way? How fast might you be able to follow up with job leads either after celebrating your Garage Sale’s success that same evening or first thing the next business day? Would it be worth your time and attention in hosting the garage sale if you made just a couple hundred dollars cash AND got a job lead that led to a job offer with benefits and a 20% pay increase per year? How do you evaluate creating opportunities? Opportunities may not create cash in your hand today, but who knows where they might lead?
  • If you are doing a “multi-family” garage sale, are you enjoying the friends that you are hosting the garage sale with? (Choose your garage sale friends carefully! There is money involved and great capacity for miscommunication which leads to anger. Prevent miscommunication from happening.) There may have been delightful moments of deepened friendship when you discussed a sales interaction or the story behind why you ended up with the stuff you are trying to sell. Maybe the cash you earn is incidental as you support a friend who is doing his/her (first) garage sale?
  • Have you ever noticed that your kids enjoy asking you for money to spend on their pleasures? What if you chose to evaluate your garage sale’s success based on allowing your child the opportunity to earn his/her own money for a future expense? Would your garage sale be a success if your child had a better understanding of how profits are created?
So here’s The Big Question: Would you do a garage sale again? Why or why not?

Garage Sale Tips

March 24, 2013 — 2,243 Comments

Garage_Sale_hostingCongratulations! You have decided to host your own garage sale. These are our favorite garage sale tips to have a fabulously successful event:

1 – Plan for weather. Here in Texas, we have just about every weather condition that will drive away Garage Sale enjoyers. Have a back up plan. Would you redo your garage sale the following weekend? Would you have it inside the garage itself? Would you put up a big awning type cover?

2 – Expect that your first five $1 sales will “only have a $20” and you will need to make change. Stop by the bank a day or two before your garage sale starts and get lots of $1 bills (or ask your waiter/waitress friend to save up their $1 bills)

3 – Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your garage sale date so you can approach this calmly. Consider if you want to ask neighbors to do this with you? Where would you put signs to direct traffic? How will you cover up things that are in your front yard or garage that are NOT for sale? You are really excited about this sale, but is your spouse as excited to sell that item?

4 – Sort one room a day for garage sale treasures. Things that are junk to you or I are treasures to someone else. Why allow the clutter to continue to aggravate you?

5 – Plan your garage sale for when people are going to be available. Holiday weekends and other big travel weekends in your area may bring lots of traffic to your road, but may not bring the people who want to surf garage sales.

6 – Know the value of your items! Enough said.

7 – Price things to sell. Do you really want to lose a sale because they want to pay $5 but you bought it for $50 new? It’s junk to you! Consider carefully.

8 – Then expect people to negotiate anyway. Consider if selling the item for that price would be better than the tax deduction you would get if you itemized on your taxes. Do you really itemize anyway?

9 – Get the kids involved at age appropriate levels. Little ones may want to sell lemonade to customers and the cuteness factor on your curb will draw people to stop, get out of their cars and come look at what else is on display. Older kids may have their own financial goals they can work towards by selling their stuff – i.e. Summer Camp, private batting lessons, football training camp gear, books on the AP summer reading list, etc.

10 – Tell EVERYONE. Endlessly. About when your garage sale is. Light up social media. Ask your Bible Study to pray for the success of the garage sale. Post to Craigslist and other (free!) online garage sale sites.

What is your favorite Garage Sale tip?

 

Garage_Sale_preparingRecently, we concluded a Financial Peace University group in Mansfield, TX. It was a wonderful gathering of people who laughed at the weird things we’ve all done at money, cried together over losses, expressed our bewilderment at changes during the nine weeks, and thought about all that we can accomplish if we’ll just make a plan, on paper, according to our deepest held values. We decided to celebrate the conclusion with a big beautiful cake and garage sale. Who wouldn’t want to make some quick cash while accomplishing other goals?

Our minds opened to new possibilities. Our hearts grew lighter as hope buoyed them. Our lives were busy before, and they continue to be – but the key difference is we feel like we’re moving towards something good. Something that was just a wild dream before could become a reality with some disciplined work. We know what to expect from the process of managing our financial resources better, and from ourselves (and tendencies) as we work to stabilize our financial situations.

For some of us, stabilizing our financial situation was putting our debts to paper and getting mad. We paid off several small credit cards and disposed of them. We’re not “over our mad”! We ARE putting that angry energy to good use by getting over our mountains of debt and getting debt-payment free. How incredible would it be to put the money you might be paying towards debt into a wealth building account?

For others of us, stabilizing our financial situation was being sure of our household budget as we prepare for retirement in the next 1 – 5 years. We knew something about mutual funds and retirement accounts, but putting together the pieces of information into a cohesive whole was invaluable. Retirement to us means working when we want to, at what we want to do, for a “wage” that satisfies us deeply. It felt a little strange to exercise our “optimism muscles” and dream again after having spent so much of our adult lifetime doing what it takes to put food on the table. What would you do with all your time and talents if you were financially independent?

For a few, stabilizing our finances was having that hard conversation with a spouse about a habit (or three) and how we wanted to work that into our future without putting our family at risk. The habits didn’t have to stop, necessarily, they just needed to be considered within the context of our entire life – rather than compartmentalized. Talking through a budget may be a short time of “heated fellowship” between spouses, but it should not be World War 3. How awesome would it be to be able to TALK about money with your spouse, rather than fight?

We now have joined an elite group of people willing to put in the time and effort to become more financially literate. It just made sense that having a garage sale would be the capstone to our group’s formal association. As a group, we earned several hundred dollars at the garage sale which then could be put towards our family’s financial goals.

Having a garage sale allowed us to de-clutter our homes and be a blessing to others looking for some sweet deals on household items, clothing, tools, musical instruments, collector items and other “treasures” that were living rent-free in our homes. Now those sale items that were “junk” to us, are “treasures” to other families and households and classrooms.

We spent a lot of time talking about and thinking through how to have a successful multi-family garage sale. If you would like the organizing document that Julia put together, please email her at julia@promisesfc.com.

We’re going to follow this garage sale conversation thread. What might you add to our conversation?

Good Highlights of the legislation going through the Senate and House: http://www.pacificawealth.com/summary-of-2013-fiscal-cliff-tax-changes/