Category Archives: Financial House

Tips and Tricks to help get your finances in order

Rent the Runway!

locket of lace gownI wish I had know/seen this (if it existed) back in the day of prom/homecoming/wedding because the opportunity to wear couture dresses to events and 1) not have to dry clean them myself and 2) not have to pay the ACTUAL price of the gown would be AMAZING.

I’m actually planning on hosting a new-years-eve party someday and I have my heart set on a party dress kind of event.  Now I know where I’m getting my outfit!  Woo!

Check it out at renttherunway.com!

To Freeze or Not To Freeze…

… that is the question.  Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous cost.  Or, to take arms against a twist in flavor for which the freezing brings, and by opposing, eat fresh. Pay more, shop more, taste better.

That would be my hommage to my attempt at saving money by freezing some dairy goods.  Let me tell you – how that was not a tasty experience!  (Ok – I’m a milk SNOB) but, I like my milk to taste good… and my previously frozen milk, defrosted and added to my rice crispies this morning… well, it made me sad.

groceriesBackstory:  I was attempting to save money by shopping twice a month – inclusive of freezing foods that I would normally purchase each week (milk, creamer, breads, eggs).

Truth: You can get away with buying many many things and freezing a ton BUT I do NOT recommend freezing your milk unless you like/don’t mind that it’s flavor will change.  YUCK!  

I’ll be coming up with a post later this week that will have a run down of “good/bad after freezing” foods so you all are aware of what we, here at the CHG home, have experienced.  That way if you ever question “Would it be ok if I froze that and ate it next week?” you will know! :D

What To Buy/Skip at the Dollar Store

dollar-tree-storeOk, recently I’ve expanded our shopping repertoire to include the Dollar Store… and with that comes the unfortunate task of figuring out what’s a quality $ Store buy and what I should avoid.  I played it safe this last time – only buying sandwich bags and tin foil 8x8s (I use these to freeze foods for future meals).  But fortunately I ran across this site that actually outlines some of the buys/skips for the $ Store.  So happy that I stumbled onto it, now I know what’s a good purchase or not!

Update on How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Ok folks.  So here’s the deal:  One of the reasons I started this site was to address and document the many ways/attempts and successes/failures as I try to get our house in gear.  One of the things I’ve been trying recently is shopping on a budget and I’ve expanded it to shopping just 2 times a month (inspired by How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half)

I planned our meals and grocery list for the whole month, then split it in two based on what was needed for each half.  I also estimated (based on past grocery trips) how much each item on the list would cost so I had an idea of what we would be spending.  I wanted to make sure that it would work within our budget and, if needed, I would switch up a couple of meals for less expensive options.

This last week I went grocery shopping with a list for the first half of the month and I hit up: the Dollar Store, Fred Meyer and Costco.  Before shopping I pulled out $300 cash – because that was ALL that I was spending on this trip – this is the bigger of the two trips this month.  I have to share – it was a SUCCESS!  I came in under budget (I was so paranoid about what would happen if I overspent… I didn’t want to have to choose on-the-spot what to not buy…) I had to skip a couple of things that would have been healthy impulse buys (like the grapefruit cups at Costco) but I’m so proud that I was able to stay within my limits and stock us up for at least 2 weeks.  Some of the purchases I made are actually things that will last MUCH longer; like the 25lbs of flour and 25lbs of sugar – I don’t anticipate using all that in one month…

So, stay tuned for the next installment and whether I am able to stay on budget for the whole month… “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”

How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

OK! So… I found this site yesterday and got all into reading it… then I forgot to post!  I’m sorry!

The site I’m referring to is: blissfulanddomestic.com

Blissful and Domestic

 

Her post on how to cut your grocery bill in half resonated pretty heavily with me because our family recently cut weekly shopping trips to every-other-week and saw a dramatic difference in grocery bills.  We still go out for the basics (milk, creamer, eggs, fruit) but I’m thinking of going the blissful and domestic way of freezing milk (I wonder if I could freeze creamer?)… less trips to the grocery store and SERIOUS savings would be well worth the time and effort.

Organized House – Trunk of Containment

Alrighty then!  I have succeeded in organizing one facet of our household (for which I am EXTREMELY proud): OFFICE.

Once upon a time I had one, maybe two, boxes of “office supplies” and paperwork.  This is what I THOUGHT at least… until I finally moved all my stuff into one location post-marriage.  Then, the true realization of the amount of stuff I had accumulated over the years sat there glaring at me.  I’ve gone through many different forms of “organizing” the office.  Resulting in purchases that were initially going to solve all our cluttered office problems but turned into furniture that just cluttered up our space.

IKEA drawers

IKEA drawers

I made my hubby buy a certain set of desks from IKEA because they had a matching drawer/file cart that I was “totally going to use for all our files”!  Please note:  I couldn’t even fit one file into the silly little cart.  And though it was good for random clutter and pens – it lacked even a basic helpfulness when it came to all my financial aid, bills, old medical, or misc files.   (The baby-safe latches were something we added on later, after our daughter pinched her fingers dramatically one evening.)

Then, after attending a Money Wise Woman conference with my mother, I was convinced we needed a filing cabinet for all our stuff.  I needed some way to rotate out all those very important documents!  So, we bought a file cabinet and invested the $$ in files and hanging files and everything that was going to help me stay organized… then I accidentally broke the file cabinet by neglecting to strap it to the wall (this was pre-baby).  So I ended up buying those little plastic crates as a temporary solution for the multitude of files we had strewn around the office.

This is the point where I determined 1) We had too many files 2) I am an office supply junkie and 3) We needed a REAL solution to this clutter/dis-organization issue.  So…

With the assistance of a printer/scanner bought two or three years ago, a shredder borrowed and a LOT of time; I scanned/shredded all non-essential files and kept only the ones that we needed hard copies of (ie. mortgage statements and tax information).

Now, the problem was… scaling back the office supplies I’ve collected over the years and fitting them WITH the essential files into a central location that was closed off from my kiddo.  WHAT TO DO?!?

Score one for Martha Stewart (I hate to admit that – but she was my inspiration on this one…) I decided to pair up this filing system from Martha with my dream of a little “get ready” area for the kid to create our front entryway/office space.  My hubby had a trunk from his younger days that he kindly emptied for me and files went inside one plastic crate inside the trunk.  Any office supplies I wanted to keep HAD to fit inside the trunk as well.  All other office supplies are being donated to local school districts.  And Voila! an organized, condensed and easily accessibile office space that cost us ZERO dollars since I only used what we had.

Winter Safety Checklist

Some quick tips provided to us via our city…

  • DE-ICE YOUR WALKWAYS/DRIVEWAYS – Are you ready for snow?  Be prepared for those potentially snowy/icy days … slipping and falling can be a hazard to you, your family/friends and even those annoying door-to-door salesmen!
  • INSULATE YOUR FAUCETS – Nothing will ruin the holiday  spirit faster than a flooded house!  In freezing temperatures, take protective measures to keep your pipes from freezing.
  • FIRE EXTINGUISHERS AND SMOKE DETECTORS – This is the season of cozy fireplace fires, fragrant candles, beautiful holiday lights, and turkeys roasting in the oven.  Be prepared in the unfortunate event of a fire!  check the batteries in your smoke detectors, ensure your fire extinguishers are up to date, and make sure your family has a plan for what to do in case of a fire.
  • CHECK YOUR LIGHTS – The days are getting shorter and it is getting dark earlier.  Verify bicycle lights are in good working order, and keep flashlights and candles on hand in case of a power outage.

Homemade Stain Remover

The other day my daughter dripped red M&M juice (as in drool and M&Ms) onto her spanking new white leggings… OH MY GOODNESS!  Right?

WRONG!  It’s ok!  There IS a solution :)  Seriously, a solution made up of half cheepo shampoo (I used Suave) and half water.  Put into a spray bottle, shake up, spray at stain and rub a little.  Toss those pants/shirt/whatever into the wash on it’s normal cycle (I generally use delicate/cold for my kiddo’s clothes).  Magically the stain was GONE.  See? …

And, according to my mother-in-law’s mother… this solution is also an awesome way to treat those underarm stains on white shirts…

Homeprint Assessment – Do It!

So this morning I sat down to pay my bills and, in doing so, was greeted by the little fliers that get tucked into your billing envelopes.  I know, I haven’t switched to e-billing… I, personally, need the physical reminder of “bill due” AND I LOVE those little “tips and tricks” we get in the mail…

Like today – the Homeprint Assessment via our power company came.  I highly recommend you take advantage of this service (especially if it’s free like in our city).  We had it done this summer and basically an assessor came out, looked around our house, changed ALL our lightbulbs to energy efficient w/o us having to pay for it and handed us a folder stating how we can make our home more energy efficient and where the biggest cost savings would be!  For our home the top priority is insulation (it’s an older home and needs more in the attic space), shortly followed by potentially changing baseboard heaters to forced air.

Did I mention this was free!?!  Actually, with them switching out all our lights… it was like they were paying US to come inform us on how to save energy/money… BIG, BIG FAN of this program!