Moms The Word

July 12, 2007

Strategy for Dressing a New Baby *Frugal Friday*

Filed under: Frugal Fridays, Pregnancy — mrslady @ 9:10 pm

The most frugal way to dress a new baby is, of course, making them wear hand-me-downs that are still in good repair.  It is not that I wouldn’t do that-because I would-it’s just that we don’t have any.  Aside from my son’s special clothes that I wouldn’t let any other baby wear out [his coming home outfit, etc] we have already gotten rid of ALL of his baby clothes.

So what do you do when you are facing a new baby with no clothes? 

There’s good news about baby clothes-parents, siblings, other assorted family memebers, and friends often LOVE buying baby clothes.  It’s right up there with toys as a favorite for people to gift you with-possibly because they know you need it?  This will save you some money right off the bat, even one outfit given as a gift is one less you have to buy!

The other good news is that you are pregnant for 9 months.  At some time in those 9 months there will most likely be a holiday/pre-holiday/post-holiday/post-season sale of some kind somewhere.  This will save you a lot of money buying for future seasons.  Just remember-buy them for the size that they will be by the time that season rolls around next.  [I know you probably already know this, but it’s worth mentioning just in case!]

My final frugal tip really helped a lot when we were pregnant with our son.  Once a month [or once a payday, depending on your budget] go to the store and buy the basics: diapers, wipes, and a basic clothing item [socks, onesies, sleepers, etc].  You can usually get that for around $20-$30 depending on where you shop, but it will work wonders when your baby is born.  By the time my son was born we realized how fabulous this idea [which I did not come up with, but loved using] was.  We didn’t have to buy diapers for my son until he was almost 8 months old, and it saved us so much laundry by having a mountain of onesies!  Also that way we could throw away the ones that were just destroyed without guilt or inconvinience. [You know the ones!]

Keeping these tips in mind you should be able to clothe that new baby without emptying your pockets-the best of both worlds.

For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

April 20, 2007

*Frugal Fridays* Savings

Filed under: Frugal Fridays, Good Ideas — mrslady @ 3:35 pm

One thing we have always had a big problem with is saving our money.  I think a lot of people (especially people like us who are already living on extremely tight  modest budgets) get a little intimidated when they think about saving.  It’s hard to imagine being able to save anything when you have to buy the day old bread just because it’s 30 cents cheaper.

That’s why pre-tax spending is so great.  A lot of jobs out there give you the option to put some money away into an account (like an IRA) before it even gets into your paycheck.  When you do that not only are you saving money for that rainy day you KNOW is coming some day, but you’re also putting the taxable amount of income on a lower level, which saves you some money wasted on taxes too.

Even saving a little can help.  We save $50 per paycheck in my husband’s IRA.  It doesn’t hurt us terribly (we can still eat and all), but it really adds up.  My husband gets two paychecks a month, when you put that in for 18 years (maybe you’re donating to a college fund?) then you have just saved $21,600!

Then consider this: even while working at the lowest of low jobs, I got a raise once a year of 50 cents.  An extra 50 cents an hour, working full time 40 hours, gives you an extra $80 per month, so if you save half of your raise wages then you’re saving a total of $140 dollars a month!

If you keep doing that-getting one 50 cent raise every year and putting another $40 a month into savings each time you do-then in a full 18 years you will have saved-get ready-$95,040!  (First year at $100, Year 18 at $780 per month after adding $40 to your monthly savings each time you get a 50 cent raise (I’m saying that happens once a year, but I know people who get those every 6 months!). That’s a lot of money to ME, and more than enough to put your kid into a decent college for a couple of years (right now at least).  Now imagine what you can do between when your child is in college and when you retire! (At least I can-that’s one of the lesser known ADVANTAGES of having your children when you are young.  I know that once my son goes to college I’ll have almost 30 years before I retire.  In case you’re wondering-30 years, upping your savings by 25 cents an hour every year (when you get a 50 cent raise an hour every year) you’re looking at a total savings of $244,800, not including any other investments you might make or if you decide to “double up” [save twice as much] once you hit 50 as is usually recommended.)

So the moral of this Frugal Friday is even the smallest drop in the bucket can someday make a title wave-and when we’re talking about money I wouldn’t mind swimming in it!

*For more Frugal Friday tips go to Biblical Womanhood*

April 6, 2007

A Wedding You Can Afford *Frugal Fridays*

Filed under: Frugal Fridays, Good Ideas — mrslady @ 1:01 pm

As you probably noticed if you read about my excursion into real life I got married on March 31st.  We had to pay for it ourselves, and Lord knows we’re not a bizillionares, so naturally we did it the same way we do everything else-on a budget.

Our wedding cost  us exactly $229.06 including minister fees, wedding liscence, rings, something to wear, and batteries for our digital camera.  The key to our nice but severely-uh-“budgeted” wedding? 

E-L-O-P-E.

However I understand that not everyone can, and that even if they could a lot of people wouldn’t want to. Here are some things I found along the way that can help you can have a nice big wedding with out a nice big price tag.

*The Bridal Online Store has beautiful hand made wedding dresses custom fit just for you with prices ranging between $99-699 (plus S&H).  An added bonus?  You can, with just a little bit of planning, actually talk to the OWNER of this business directly (her name is Jill and she’s available between 8-11am EST).

*Having a wedding outdoors can be wonderful during the summertime (depending on the climate you’re in).  Also, it can save you a ton of money if you don’t plan on doing it at a church.  You can get married at a national park for FREE (unless it’s involving big set ups that require permits or you plan on camping there as well…).  You can look up National Parks in your area here, or Google “______ state parks” to find one that is run by your state.  I do recommend scouting them to make sure there is a good spot somewhere there, AND keeping in mind who you are inviting, what kind of seating they may need (can great grandma sit on a folding chair in the dirt for 30 minutes?), and if you are going to need any type of electronics (do you plan to play music?).

*Talk to your county courthouse to see if they can refer you to a minister-usually they can.  Also-retired ministers tend to charge a significantly less amount of money than practicing ones.

*Do you live close to a state line (we do!)?  If you do, it’s definately worth seeing how much it costs to get your liscence in that state instead of yours.  Some states require that if you get the liscence there you get married there, so keep that in mind, but I know for us we saved  $32 for crossing the state line to get married.

*Do your own flower arranging.  You can buy flowers themselves fairly inexpensively, and all you have to do is put them together.  It can get a little tricky though, so I recommend using some reasources.  Good ones I’ve found are this about article, this Lowes article, and this article at the gardener

In the end, if you are going to elope but have a slightly bigger budget (but not too huge, about $500-$2000) or want to elope it in style, I highly recommend using Let’s Run Off.  The tagline is “Elopments made easy” for a reason.  If we had a slightly bigger budget we would have used one of their adorable B&B recommendations.

There you have it-I hope it helps.  No reason to start married life $10K in debt right?  Whatever you do for your wedding, remember that it’s really all about you and your husband and what makes you happy in the end. Congratulations!

*for more Frugal Friday tips visit Biblical Womanhood*

March 16, 2007

$2 Birthday Cake*Frugal Fridays*

Filed under: Frugal Fridays, Good Ideas — mrslady @ 9:21 am

If you’re like me, you worry about how much things cost, but you feel bad when you worry about the price of things when it comes to your kids.  You want to get them the best, but you know there are some things your wallet just can’t take-like a $40 birthday cake for your toddler’s birthday.

The good news is you can make a yummy, nice looking birthday cake for really cheap.   You start with things that you have-eggs, food coloring, vegetable oil-and you can buy what you

need-in my case cake mix and frosting-from the dollar store.  I know, I know-but really, most things at the dollar store (providing they are not expired) taste just as good as anything else you might buy for several dollars more.

Okay, you say, you made the cake-now what?  Frosting.  And frosting is the best part-not to mention the most fun.

Make sure that your cake is all the way cooled off before you start to frost it so that your frosting doesn’t get goopy.  When I’m in a tight crunch I put the cake (still in the pan) in the freezer for about five minutes to cool it down.  Then, I flip the cake out of the pan so that the bottom is on the top and put it back in the freezer for another minute or two.  (You can make a cake easier to flip out of the pan by making a really good coating of butter/margerine in the cake pan and then dusting it with flour or pancake mix-you can use pancake mix for a lot of things!)

The bonus for flipping the cake over is that you can use the bottom of the cake as your frosting canvas and the bottom is flat, while the top may be rounded or have cracks in it.  Anyway, once your cake is cooled you can start to frost.  What I like to do is to put a big glop of frosting right in the middle of the cake and then spread it out to the sides.  If you use your frosting at room temperature instead of from the refridgerator, you can get your cake to look pretty evenly coated by doing it this way-and give it a smooth looking surface by lightly dragging a flat spatula over the top.

If you want to put a decorative scene on your cake, that’s where the food coloring comes in.  You will also need either pastery bags or zip lock bags.  (If you’re using zip lock bags, I recommend the small ones, however big ones are doable as well.)  All you have to do is cut diagnally on the very tip of one of the bottom corners of the zip lock.  I don’t recommend cutting more than just a tiny tiny bit, because the smaller the hole the more control you will have over the frosting.  When you make the cut you should end up with a triangle of plastic left over.

Decide on the design you want and think about the colors you’ll need to mix with your frosting to create the colors you want.  Once you make the colors you want put them into the zip lock or pastery bag then design away!

Here is the cake that I made my son for his 3rd birthday.  It is chocolate with cream cheese frosting.  With the supplies that I already had, I paid a TOTAL of two dollars for this cake:

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Not bad for $2, eh?

For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

March 9, 2007

*Frugal Fridays* on Love (10 Dates under $20)

Filed under: Frugal Fridays, Good Ideas, Mommy and Daddy Stuff — mrslady @ 2:19 am

You know what is ESSENTIAL for parents?  Yes-feeding, clothing, teaching, and loving your children is very important.  And yes-working (at home and at a job) is also extremely important.  I mean essential for your day to day life as a family.  A good relationship with your other half.  I know personally, if it weren’t for him, I would have been committed long ago.

While talking through the bathroom door in the morning, secret rendezvous in the pantry after dinner, and falling asleep on the couch after the kids go to bed certainly have their endearing qualities wouldn’t it be nice to go on a date once in a while?  You know, be alone with eachother, just for a bit? 

It is nice.  But it can also get very expensive.  So what do a mom and dad on a budget do these days to entertain themselves? [For more *Frugal* tips go here]

Here are my suggestions for 10 dates under $20-not including babysitting costs, gas, etc.

GOING OUT IDEAS [for those who can get babysitters]

1. Do a Drive In!  Old fashioned, sit in your car, and watch a movie.  You can even kiss in the dark like the old days.  Depending on where you live, sometimes there will be special drive ins or “park-ins” where they play old movies on the sides of buildings during art weeks (they do this in bigger cities like Portland, Oregon) sometimes.  Or you can go here, where I found a pretty comprehensive list of drive in movie theaters all over the US.  They are usually about the same cost as regular theaters ($7-9), but you can bring your own snacks and the atmosphere is a lot nicer. 

2. Around the World in the food court.  Mall food courts are often over looked, but they can offer lots of different ethnicities of foods-from mexican to greek to thai.  We have done this a few times.  You can spend as much or as little as you want, but if you focus on the cheaper items you can usually get one snack item from each foriegn resturant.  (This is not as fun if you include places like Wendy’s or McDonalds).  You can even get adventurous and pick something with a wierd name without knowing what it is.  Even get dressed up, if you want.  It’s definately not for everyone, but if you have a “weird” personality, it could be for you!

3. Art Gallery Walks. This usually works out better in big cities (and for people that like art).  In  a lot of cities there is one area of town that attracts a lot of businesses where they display art (photo galleries, etc.).  Most of them (unless you’re talking the art museum) are free to walk in and out of-so you can get yourselves snacks too!

4. Painting in the Park. If you are not of the particularly crafty variety, you might not like this idea, but we happen to love it.  You can use the paint/drawing supplies you have at your house or you can go to The Dollar Store (woo-hoo! cheapness! though not stunning quality) and get some stand ins.  Then go to the park and take turns drawing things.  Things you see, or ideas you come up with.  Trust me, it sparks a lot of conversation.

5. City Tour.  Go to your nearest “down town” area.  Pick up all the brochures that they leave for tourists and then take a hike!  Walk around looking at all the historic stuff, art, and sights.  It’s amazing how much you don’t realize is there in your own near-by city!  Plus, some of the cheezy brochures are really fun to read.

STAYING IN IDEAS [for those who cannot get babysitters, or need a date that is basically free]

1. Chore-list poker.  Make a list of chores that you don’t like to do-we have done between 5 and 10.   Then play poker (or rummy, or go fish, or uno) and bet using your chore lists.  Stop when you think the lists get too overwhelming for one person to do.

2. Books and Ice Cream. If you don’t like/want Ice Cream (or are allergic) subsitute the fun food of your choice.  Buy/Pick a book that you have both been meaning to read and read it out loud together.

3. Dinner a la You.  Cook something together just for yourselves for dinner.  We’ve done: breakfast for dinner, fancy dinner (like steak), and picnic dinner (like ham sandwiches and chips).  Dress up your table with your nice place settings, and light some candles.  Cooking together is fun, eating together is romantic.

4. Play Getting to Know You games.  I’m sure at this point you already know eachother, but sometimes it’s fun to play these games just for kicks.  Besides, when you pass like ships through the night sometimes you miss a subtle change (like change of favorite colors, or favorite CDs).  You can play them by writing things down [pick one question and both of you write down your answers], you can play by just taking turns asking eachother questions, or you can play a boardgame like “The Newlywed Game” if you have it. 

5. Go to Bed Early. Sometimes, it’s been a long day and you don’t have a lot of energy.  I recommend (for winter) putting all of your blankets in the dryer and then going to bed early.  Sometimes we’ll turn on music and stay up and read books in bed.  It’s a little Leave it to Beaver, but we have fun.  Just being in bed is relaxing, and then we have time to read and/or talk over our days in a quiet setting.  Plus sometimes it’s nice to be in bed by 8:30.

I know not all of these will sound fun or exciting to everyone, but we have done all of these at one point or another and have really enjoyed them-I hope you do too!

Almost (but not quite) completely randomly, this is my favorite Bible verse about Love (and probably the most famous):

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

March 2, 2007

Toddler:Couch Destroyer *Frugal Fridays*

Filed under: Frugal Fridays, Fun Stories — mrslady @ 8:28 am

002.JPGA couple of years ago-maybe 2, 2 and a half years-we recieved a couch as a hand-me down from a relative.  It was a nice gren couch and she’d had it for years-and it still looked perfect.

 She had no children in the house with that couch.

Fast forward to when our son started walking.  This couch, once beautiful, has been painted, glued, cut with scissors, peed on, pooed on, colored on with permanant marker, had all the piping taken out of the pillows, and the cushions won’t zip anymore due to sticky-peanut-butter-and-glue-like mystery substance.  This couch had sat it’s last person a LONG time ago, but we’re cheap and broke so we kept it.  Until we moved.  We moved about 8 hours away, and we just couldn’t see any reason to store, haul, and move that couch up another flight of stairs.  It was time to say goodbye.

When we got to our new home, we used a makeshift couch so that we didn’t have to sit on the ground.  It was not a very comfortable makeshift couch, but was infact the middle seat from our VW Van.  While my other half (car fanatic) thought this was awesome I felt a little more like there was a giant car part in our living room.  This had to be remedied as soon as possible.  But where can one buy a couch and be a total cheapskate at the same time?

There are a ton of diffent thrift stores and the like (St.V’s/Goodwill) but you can’t always find the right thing there.  You CAN however, find a purple 70s throw-back couch that smells like kitty piddle, if you’re in the market for that kind of thing.

In all seriousness, you can find some cool stuff at St.V’s.  We just couldn’t at the point when we were looking.  So what to do?  I was not about to sit on the Van-couch again.  Finally, I remembered something a friend of ours did a while ago. 

Rent-A-Center.  I know-these places are a rip off.  They charge you $3,000 for a $200 item, and charge you almost as much as the item would have cost you to buy EVERY WEEK.  Don’t ever rent anything from Rent-A-Center. They’re  BAAAAAD news. 

But-it is a little-known fact that you can BUY from there.  You can go in there and straight across give them cash for a couch.   I recommend finding a used couch, with some little, barely noticeable issues and talking them down on it by talking up the damage.  When you do that, you can get a very nice couch for between $200-$600 depending on what they have and how well you bargin.

For instance, on our new couch, on the back of one of our cushions, there is a yellow stripe.  Don’t know why.  Don’t know what it is.  (Cleaned it, still don’t know what caused it, still pretty much there).  And one of the pillows had an unraveled thread.  And the black material on the bottom hangs down a teeny bit.  By pointing this out and bargaining with the best of them we got THIS couch (pictured above) for $200!  There is absolutely nothing disappointing about this couch. 

And the baby is not allowed to TOUCH it.  Just kidding………mostly.

February 23, 2007

Grocery Shopping (Frugal Fridays)

Filed under: Frugal Fridays — mrslady @ 1:57 am

I don’t know about you, but between my other half and the short one I could spend every dime we make on food and still have empty cupboards! It seems like the more I buy, the more they eat-and they are still hungry afterwards!

Do you know what they ate for a “snack” today? An almost an entire bag of breadsticks [uncooked-ewwwwwww] to themselves. It seems like every time I buy something for dinner I turn around and it’s been eaten-but not for dinner. Usually raw out of the package (including canned food) or microwaved (if previously frozen).

So, how do I avoid the poorhouse while still makeing sure everyone is full?

*Make a meal plan that incorporates similar products. I know it sounds like it can get boring, but it’s not bad if you go online to find new recipes (that’s what I do). For instance:
-Eggs, Cheese, Tortillas, Chicken, Milk, Soup, Beans, Vegitables, Pankcake Mix
With these things you can make:
>Strada
>Quesedillas
>Stir Fry
>Baked Chicken
>Homemade Chicken Soup
>Egg Salad Sandwiches
>Grilled Cheese
The list could be a lot longer, but I’m sure you get the idea. Incorporating meals similar ingrediants into your weekly plan helps to save a lot of money by making you able to buy a few things in bulk rather than a lot of things in tiny packages that cost $5 a pop.

*Buy things that are staples and multi-purpose, and buy them in bulk. I recommend:
->Rice. Makes good side to stir-fry, or with vegitables. Or add milk, butter, and a little bit of sugar and it’s nice for breakfast.

->Pancake Batter. Not just for pancakes anymore. Make biscuits, pie crust-it’s a pretty good subsitute for flour.

->Eggs. Everyone knows the uses for eggs-Scrambled, Fried, Salad, Deviled…..We have often done Egg Salad Sandwiches and Deviled Eggs within a couple of days of each other because both require eggs to be boiled.

->Bread. Good old bread, if you’re not picky you can usually pick up a loaf for under a dollar. I pick up three to six every time I go. Good for sandwiches, toast, even fancier stuff like strada. Get different kinds too-regular “loaf” bread, french bread, rolls, etc.

->Milk. Goes in things. Good to drink. I buy lots, but I will usually buy it at a place like Walgreens where I can get it for cheaper (was $1.99/gallon there a bit ago.).

->Assorted Fruits and Vegitables. Good for snacks. Good for Meals. I like to go with Broccli, Spinache, Onions, and Carrots for vegitables and apples, peaches, maderin oranges, and strawberries (when in season) because they seem to me like the most flexible and the ones we use most often.

->Meat. Usually hamburger and chicken are the most flexible. Chicken strips, baked chicken, chicken w/vegitables, chicken stir fry…..meatloaf, hamburgers, speghetti….I will usually plan on using a pound of meat per day and buy accordingly.

*If you have snack-a-holics like I do in my family I recommend the Dollar Store. You wouldn’t think it (I never would have) but some actually have a “frozen foods” section. I buy things like french toast sticks and french fries that they can “heat and eat” because, to be fair, daddy doesn’t really like to cook. (Ha Ha Ha) Plus, you can use the snacks to make healthy snacks (like fruit) more appealing. This also keeps the snack budget WAAAAAAAY down-just make sure to check expiration dates when buying anything at such a great discount!

Doing things this way, my monthly grocery budget is usually around $300 per month (between $75-80 per week). Which, believe me, is down from the staggering $650 per month we USED to spend to feed two adults and a baby!

Now if only we could break our junk food/fast food habits. Oh well, that’s for a later post.

The Regulars

Filed under: Blog Business, Frugal Fridays, To-Do about Tuesday — mrslady @ 12:34 am

I have decided to committ two days of the week to a regular blogging topic.  I think this will be fun, but if not, we can always scrap it later :p

The topic days are going to be Tuesdays and Fridays.

Fridays will hereafter be known as “Frugal Fridays” (assuming I’m not stepping on some sort of copywrite here).  Every Friday I will post an idea of how to cut expenses.  This is something I find personally relevant, as I am both cheap and broke.

Tuesdays will be hereafter known as “To-Do about Tuesday”.  These posts will be about fun family activities and/or organizational skills and hints.  I am the first to admit organization is a journey and I’m not ahead of anyone in that race.  Let’s do it together.

Both topics are absolutely open for posting your own ideas and responses.  Have fun 🙂

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