Sunday, December 7, 2008

Frugal Doings This Week

Dug up the last of my potato crop

First, one of my friends lost her house that she bought 5 years ago. She's a single mom of two boys - one in college. She bought this house as an investment and got one of those adjustable rate mortgages. Not unusual at all for the Atlanta area because buying and flipping houses was quite the thing up until about a year ago. Everyone's house appreciated tremendously in this area and I guess few people saw that it would all come to a crashing halt one day. So her intention was just to refinance or sell her house. She knew the type of mortgage she was getting, but frankly, people have always been able to refinance or sell their homes around here. Her house was on the market for a year - no buyers. As a matter of fact, she was in a new subdivision and they never got around to finishing Phase 3 cause the builder ran out of money! Her mortgage payment ballooned to $2500 a month this summer. She has a steady job but there's no way that she (or many of us) could afford that kind of mortgage. She tried 3 different organizations that are supposed to be set up to help with this situation but it came down to the fact that her mortgage lender just didn't want to work with her. Even up to a few weeks ago with so much media coverage about how banks are re-writing mortgages. Her mortgage lender didn't want to work with her - so she lost her house and now she has a foreclosure on her credit report. A friend is letting her rent a townhouse for the time being because it's almost impossible to rent a decent apartment around here unless you have passable credit. Her son has to start a new school in January because the townhouse is in a different town and he was having problems in school as it was. It's all very sad. She's very discouraged. She really feels like a failure. She said it's hard trying to do everything on your own. You only have yourself to depend on should something happen financially.

I can't stress enough the importance of having an emergency fund! These are scary times. Recession, depression, whatever.....I've never lived through such turbulent times. Since my husband is in retail (and we all know how well that sector is doing), we're really not sure what the future holds. Will he still have a job after the holidays? Will his company be able to survive in this economic climate (we hope so)? I've loved being a stay at home Mom but it's times like this when I wonder if it wouldn't had been better if I worked also. At least if one of us loses a job at least the other would hopefully still have one. If he loses his job - that's it! So our only safety net is to have a savings nest egg built up to tide us over.

clipped and organized this stack of coupons

I think most of us are doing the really big things to save money like shop with coupons or buy generic, turn down the thermostat, hang laundry, cook from scratch. But little things here and there can add up, especially when you've taken the main things as far as you can go. Here a few little things to try to save money:

  1. Keep taking things down a bit, try two eggs instead of three, 3/4 of a stick of butter instead of the whole stick (I've never noticed the difference), reduce the amount of dishwasher detergent, shampoo etc.
  2. I cut open all tubes and bottles to get that last bit out. You'd be surprised how much is left!
  3. Use your imagination before you use your money!
  4. When a fruit or vegetable is sold at a flat price say $3 a bag I always weigh several bags since they don't all weigh the same. Some will weigh more than others. Same if lettuce is by the head I look for the biggest one. Bananas I usually buy the smaller bananas because the large ones don't get all eaten.
  5. Be careful about paying for bank fees. Know which ATMs you can use without charge
  6. Know when your library books & movies are due back so you don't have to pay a late fee.
  7. Save your change and either roll it yourself to deposit into a savings account or take it to a Coin Star machine and then deposit it.
  8. Look at what you can sell to make some extra cash. Can you make something to sell on Etsy or ebay? I sold a few things about a month ago on ebay and made enough money to buy some Christmas presents on ebay. Do you have a collection that you could sell? I have some Mackenzie-Childs pieces I'm thinking about selling and you know I have tons of transferware that I could sell.
  9. Take advantage of those drugstore gift cards if you transfer a prescription. I can't tell you how many times I've changed my prescriptions from pharmacy to pharmacy. They don't seem to care. Deposit the money you save by using the Gift Card.
  10. Try to stay healthy - WASH YOUR HANDS! In addition to the usual hand washing I wash my hands when I come home from any kind of shopping . I've gone so far as to wipe down my groceries before I put them away when I've had a bagger or checker that obviously has a cold! Get some exercise and drink some water. Our medical co-pays have gone up considerably from last year. So even though we can go to the doctor if we're sick - it's money saved if we don't.
  11. All those little trips to the thrift store, Target and Wal-Mart add up. No matter how cheap you're getting something, if you don't have any savings -that should be your first priority!

This week I also took the leftover turkey in the freezer and made turkey soup for dinner (we'll have the leftover soup for lunch today even though it's not our favorite soup - it's food). I baked some pumpkin bread and oatmeal cookies for afternoon snack. We've put out our outdoor lights but we're only lighting them from 5-9 instead of until midnight like we used to. We had a huge discussion about the lights - I didn't want to do them at all but my husband really felt that it would be a benefit to our community to do so. People always tell us how much they love the lights and bring their kids to see the animated deer and all. So that was our compromise 4 hours instead of 7 and we turn them off the day after Christmas instead of leaving them on into January. Can't say I had a marvelously frugal week, what about you?

What small money saving things have you done this past week?


Anonymous said...

Those are such great tips, Thank You. We are really big on having an emergency fund too.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. That would be incredibly hard to handle especially on your own.

Vee said...

Wonderful tips. We've made the decision not to run outside lights, but I so appreciate those who do. I think that your hubby is correct to think that they bring a lot of cheer. Good compromise!

Rue said...

Hi Manuela :)

This year my mom, me and my brother, along with Rich's sister and her family have all decided to just buy presents for the kids. As adults we all have enough already and sometimes it becomes a contest of who buys what. We've all just had enough of that and Christmas morning is more about children anyway. Now the food... that's for us ;)

Aside from that, I'm using what we have in the house to decorate for Christmas this year. I have bought a few things at stores like Michaels because it's fun to do crafts with Annie, but for the most part I'm re-purposing what we have. It's so tempting to run out and buy a bunch of things right now, but I'll wait until Christmas is over this year and buy a few things for next year, that way, I'll be able to change it up a bit next time and still save money :)

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's situation. It's happened to a great deal of people we know too. I hope things get better for her very soon.


Salmagundi said...

I actually went shopping in the city this week and didn't buy a thing!! Had a cheap lunch, enjoyed my time alone, and came home. It cost me a little gas money, but I now feel like I've enjoyed the "retail" part of Christmas. Sally

This Little Hen said...

Thank you so much for these ideas. as a SAHM married to a teacher "eeck" we have a tight budget one thing I do so save money is search the circulars for which gracery store has the best price on a meat. For example one week it was roast at publix (I had a giftcard) I cooked it in the crockpot. We had roast one night, sandwiches for lunch the next day, we used the leftover meat to macke roast quesadillas, and finally as we were running low on roast it went into a stew that last 3 meals!!! We do that atleast 3 times a month, I will buy the cheap meat special that week and turn it into several meals! It has saved us a TON!

Anonymous said...

Well, what we have done this week just use a certain cup each, rinse it out and leave on the drainer and use it again through the day.
The result is that we are running the dishwasher three times a week rather than 7!
we used to just take a clean cup and then put it into the dishwasher and were running it once a day to wash "almost" clean cups.

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

We have stopped going to lunch - no more McDonalds, Sonic, Chick-fil-a, etc. No more sodas - it adds up!

Unknown said...

Those are great ideas. I think we all need to be more thrifty. We have just gotten into the habit of being wasteful by not being careful about the "little things."

Anonymous said...

Hi Manuela, :)
I love your "frugal doings" posts - it's nice to be reminded of the little things we can do to save money.

We've been striving for our emergency fund but we've had a tough year (like so many). Since my dh's extra hours were cut it's been harder to find $$ to put towards an EF. Seems like when we do, something comes to take it away.

We keep striving though - it's all pretty much any of us can do. We do our best and trust God with the rest.

I wish brighter days for your friend.

AJ said...

When my husband lost his job this summer we kicked into high gear. The biggest changes we have made are not eating out and me just being very aware of what I buy. If we don't need it, I don't buy it. It took me a little bit to get used to that but now it's firmly entrenched! That doesn't mean it's easy, I'm a shopper, but it's what I have to do for my family right now. I like your tips and now that I can use some of them!

Sue said...

Hi Manuela...Very good frugal tips...I follow most of them especially the coupons. My husband used to complain whenever we were out and I would pull out a coupon. He also complained that I always brought in those papers they throw in your driveway on Thursday UNTIL....the day I found a Home Depot ad for garage doors and storm doors on sale...We had just bought both a few days before I saw the ad...I took the receipt and the ad back over to the Depot and we saved an additional $250. and got free installation on the garage doors...He has not said a word since......

GlorV1 said...

Hi Manuela. You know, the first thing you should do is not worry. Worry tends to lead to other problems and you don't need that. Have faith and you do, one day at a time. Thank you for all the hints, they do help. I'm so sorry about your friend losing her house. Take care and have a good Sunday.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hi, M! Your mantel looks SO pretty. I'm really love the mercury glass too & got a few pieces after Christmas last year. Your glittery star turned out great.

This economy is so very scary and I'm sure there are going to be more horror stories going on before it's all over. My hubby stays on top of all of this stuff & he says we have not hit the bottom yet. Sorry to sound so pessimistic, but I'm afraid it's probably the truth.

We do have to remmember WHO is in control!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I just recently complained to my husband that having to stomp on the toothpaste tube to get the last of the toothpaste out may be going a little bit TOO far, hehehe.

Great ideas.

Susie Homemaker said...

Hi Manuela,
That is so unfortunate your friend has lost her there a fund for her and her family that one can donate to? Is there something any of us can do to help make her Christmas brighter? Please let me/us know...
Thanks too, for your message to save and have a fund in case of emergency...I too work in retail as you know and the uncertainty is very unsettling...
Blessings to you and your family,

Anonymous said...

You are so right ..... it is very important to have a savings in these days..... my husband is a truck driver he hauls paper products out of Arkansas and there are days when there is no work.... thank the Lord we have back up and Blue Gate is doing well and helps out....
Thanks for all the great tips..... I am driving less and that has cut a couple hundred $ a month...

Rhondi said...

Hi Manuela
Those are all great tips. The funny thing is that is the wya everyone used to live not too long ago. Thanks for the reminder!
Hugs, Rhondi

Tami said...

I live just over a mile from my job so I try to walk or bike when it's not raining. I pack a lunch for everyone and eating out is for special occasions, not because we are on the run and we have to. Clipping lots of coupons and stepped back with Christmas. Kids are getting one gift and stocking stuffers.
Using what I have in the house to decorate and to make a few gifts.
With extended family we are playing BINGO with small prizes instead of buying gifts.
Always giving thanks to God for what we have and the jobs we have. So blessed, just want to be a good steward and give back this year.

Essential Oil Premier University said...

So sorry to hear about your friend losing her house. Here is Michigan it is rampant right now with the auto jobs. I've never seen anything like this in my life either. Thank God my husband does not work in the autmotive industry and never has ~ but so many do.

Great tips you gave for saving money. I have been cooking home and from scratch much, much more than before!!



Lady Katherine said...

Love all your tips, after living in a motor home for 5 years working, and company paying for food, gas, just everything. You have to learn how to go back to life at home. You have some great tips!!! Sorry about your friend, I been thinking of people that we all know are going through this, I think the best you can give them is Keep on trying, what brings you down, pull up those boots straps and it will make you stronger! Best Wishes for her and her children.

Lady Katherine said...

I do miss all the eating out! I just love Chinese food.

Williams Arena said...

Great tips. I try to watch for sales at the grocery store. I'm finding better deals on meat at the local butcher store and the small mom and pop grocery store in our town. Today I bought a pork roast for 99 cents a pound. I bought 4 to put in the freezer.

I'm getting better about using leftovers. I have a bad habit of sticking the leftovers in the refrigerator and forgetting about them. I need to be more conscious of the food I'm wasting.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing new about whats happening now. Just that its impacting millions more people than at any time in the past. We've never been wasteful, whether we had two incomes or one, and its paying off now. My husband has gone indie as a software engineer. You'd think now is the worst possible time to run your own business, but his employer has downsized anyway so it was coming, regardless. He has contracts, there's money in the bank. Not a lot, but its there. I feel bad for anyone who's facing losing their job or homes.

It would be easier to deal with if at least some of the people responsible were facing the consequences of their actions. Instead, hard-earned tax money is being used to bail them out!

Well, I'm a great believer in Karma. What you do in this Life will catch up with you eventually.

In the meantime, I hope everyone here is secure and remember, no one can take away the love of family, friends and Faith.


Suzanne said...

These are all wonderful tips! We had many "turkey-something" dinners after Thanksgiving, and then froze the rest.
I really love tip #3!

Storybook Woods said...

Ohh some great tips, thank you. You always inspire me to keep going. Clarice

Dena said...

Wonderful tips and I am so sorry for your friend. That touches my heart and I will be praying for her.