Headlights, Cleaned Up Cars & Toothpaste

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Here are the supplies I used

Folks, I spent a solid 83 minutes yesterday scrubbing my poor minivan out.

 

Ugh. 

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G.R.O.S.S. 

It must have been Midlife Crisis Monday at the carwash, because every man over the age of 50 was there buffing their fancy sports car out while I scrubbed, vacuumed, and scoured mine.

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It was bad. 

 

As I was slaving away at least twelve cars came in and out around me (clearly they didn’t have french fries from 2012 stuffed neatly between their seats), and I thought about just how much moo-lah is out there in cars. 

 

My minivan looked pretty pitiful next to all those fancy cars, but it’s paid for, gets us from point A to point B without any problem, and can haul just about anything we need.

 

The thing I love most about my minivan? Because it already has some wear and tear on it, I don’t stress completely over spilt drinks (although they do frustrate me!), and my kids climbing in the car with muddy shoes isn’t the end of the world. (I spend enough time stressing over my house staying clean ~ having a fancy new car would mean I’d have to worry over it staying perfectly tidy too!)

 

But.

Choosing to give it a deep cleaning made such a difference as I drove kids all over town, and it cost me just $5 for the bargain car wash. (I’m all about paying for the drive thru carwash, as long as it includes a free vacuum!)

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Today I decided to try out the toothpaste trick on my pitiful headlights, and while they’re not perfect, five minutes of work definitely helped. All I did was grab a tube of toothpaste, rub it into the headlight with a rag, then rinse it off with water.

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Success!

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(Well, it was a success until the dog decided to race across the street to the people who are laying a sidewalk – my puppy’s food prints are now all over that sidewalk, but at least the headlights are clean!)

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Have you tried anything else to shine up dulled headlights? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried, and goodness, if you just want to make your life a little more peaceful this week block out an hour and get your car clean.

 

No matter what you have, whether it be ugly vinyl flooring, cabinets from 1968, or horrendous carpet that needed to head to the dumpster 18 years ago, giving the space you’re in a really deep cleaning will make it feel just a little brighter. 

 

{promise.}

 

I’d love to hear what you’re projects you’re tackling today!

 

 

 

 

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No Spend Challenge: Days 13, 14, 15, & 16

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We survived another weekend in our No Spend Grocery Challenge, and while it isn’t as hard as I’d expected, I’m amazed at how quickly money can get spent even when we’re working to really stick to a tight budget!  With a family of five there are just a lot of expenses (eating out is huge), but we’re sticking with our decision for the month and didn’t do too badly this weekend.

 

Friday night Jackson and Caroline were out for the night so we just had Reagan with us. We spent Friday afternoon working to finish up our taxes (bleck – not a great way to spend a Friday afternoon), and by the time we finished we were famished. We’d promised Reagan we’d go see Cinderella though (it was so good!),  but the next showing was too soon for us to sneak in dinner. We ended up spending a small fortune on popcorn and drinks,  and by the time it was done it was too late to even get dinner! Between the tickets and popcorn we spent $45 (Y.I.K.E.S.) but it was worth every penny. We all loved the movie (I highly recommend this one!), and my sweet seven-year-old even shed a tear or two. ;)

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don’t judge – some days  you just need a butter burger :)

Saturday we headed to Culvers with coupons in hand and spent $12 for lunch for the three of us, and after church yesterday all five of us had pizza for $17. Honestly, drinking water while eating out saves a ton, but goodness if I’m being truthful with you it’s hard to do! We don’t go out all that often, and my kids only drink water and milk when we’re at home, so they’re really missing those sodas.

 

We did the math with them though yesterday, and the same $12 that we could easily shell out for drinks for the five of us would purchase 3 salads, 3 orders of breadsticks or 3 orders of wings. Right now we’re adding that money to donate, but it’s a good lesson in how much those drinks can do to bust your budget!

 

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I made a trip to Kroger to get some groceries (we were out of milk), and by the time I re-stocked on some produce and dairy products (as well as half gallons of milk – they’re $1 per half gallon this week in our area!), I’d spent $41. As long as I stick to my budget throughout the week we’ll still be on track (our goal was no more than $50 per week), but it definitely reminded me that every time I step into the store I’m likely to spend a little more than I’d planned. (Which is why skipping shopping completely is often my favorite way to save!)

 

So, our total including today that we’ve spent is $70 during the last four days. (I’m not counting our Cinderella splurge – because it was really entertainment and not eating? ahem.) We’re finishing up our challenge at the end of the week as we near Spring Break, but it’s definitely been so worth keeping track of where we’re at to know where our money really goes each month.  I so fought the idea of taking on this challenge, but am loving staying on track in what we spend on food, so we can enjoy splurging on the things we really love! Here’s where we’re at for the month so far:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3 = $5.17
  • Day 4 & 5 = $15
  • Day 6, 7, 8, and 9 = $67.89 (this included several meals out while I was out of town – we knew we would go over for those few days)
  • Days 10, 11 & 12 = $48.34 (including $30.34 in groceries)
  • Days 13, 14, 15 & 16 = $70
  • Total = $206.40 for all groceries and several meals out

 

I’d love to hear if you’re joining us this month how it’s gone for you, as well as any other tips you have to stay on track. Leave a comment to share your thoughts!

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The Friday Fluff Up: Simple (Free) Paper Crafting

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Here’s just the tee-tiniest little fluff up project that I was able to put together this week! My husband has been working hard on adding some molding in our home as we’re finishing up our breakfast room (I can’t wait to show you the finished results) . . .

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so in the meantime this is just fun little proof that you really can craft on next to nothing. :)

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Last weekend when I was scrapbooking with my friends (I had to just work on digital scrapbooking because I couldn’t haul my scrapbook stuff on the plane), there was a table for everyone’s “leftover stuff” they weren’t going to use. Every time I went by I saw so many cute things, and finally decided I had to at least tackle something crafty because I spend way too much time on the computer and doing something with my hands always feels so good!

 

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So, I grabbed some super cute paper and decided to make a little banner for Caroline and Reagan’s bathroom. Because I was worried I’d run out of paper too quickly I made the flags way too small, but it’s a fun little Easter happy even the way that it is . . .  I’m good with that.

paper7And, all the supplies were free.  WOOHOO!

 

(For the record, I’m soooooo not a paper crafter . . . pretty sure I painted an entire piano in less time than it took for me to schlep this little baby together.) 

 

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All I did was use one of the pennant die cuts on the Cricut machine, then take string and tie everything together using the buttons. Nothing fancy here, but it’s a fun little happy to brighten up their space! If you don’t have a Cricut you could so easily cute triangles out and use a hole punch for to string them together.

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Simple!

 

(I had to take pictures on our chalkboard because it’s so hard to get a good picture with the light from the window.)

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There you have it . . . nothing fancy but a lot of fun. ;) 

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Are you doing any crafting this weekend? I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

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Looking for more paper crafting ideas? Here are a few of my favorites . . .

 

 

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

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No Spend Challenge: Days 10, 11 & 12

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We survived a few more days of our No Spend Challenge this week! While we’ve had a few small splurges we’ve (mostly) stuck to it, and it’s been really good just to really see where our cash goes each week.

I made a trip to Fresh Thyme Market and just couldn’t pass up their ground beef price. We still have plenty in the freezer (we don’t eat all that much ground beef), but at $2.99/lb for grass fed ground beef I  just couldn’t pass it by! Since we’ve stayed under the budget for the most part, I decided this might just get us through summertime hamburger grilling. :)

 

Here’s what I bought:

  • 2.35lbs grass fed ground beef at $2.99/lb = $7.04
  • 2.80 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast at $1.77/lb = $4.95 (we didn’t need chicken anyways, but we are getting low on that and $1.77/lb is such a good price!)
  • 3 lbs onions $.99 (turns out we have plenty of onions in our fridge ~ will chop those up this weekend to freeze)
  • 1 lb carrots $.99
  • $.60 lbs cluster tomatoes at $.88/lb = $.49
  • 3 lb bag golden delicious apples $2.99
  • green leef lettuce $.88
  • iceberg lettuce $.99
  • navel oranges 5/$1
  • organic 5 lbs potatoes $2.50
  • 2.76 lb bananas $1.52
  • Total = $24.34

 

My husband also picked up two more gallons of milk at Kroger this week, so our total was $6 for milk. I’m really debating heading to Kroger for some of their crazy good deals, but we only need cereal so we’ll see!

 

 

And, for our big splurge :) my husband and I met for lunch yesterday at Cucinova, and we completely should have split a pizza (they’re not a big pizza but would have been big enough to split) but were both starving so our eyes looked bigger than our stomachs. We both ended up eating exactly half and our kids ate the leftovers last night. We spent $16 on our lunch which wasn’t impressive at all but it’s been weeks since we’ve had time for lunch together so I’m good with that! Next time we’ll remember though that splitting one is more than enough for us. You win some, you lose some. :)

 

So here’s our totals since we started this month. Typing it out now I’m not all that happy with our splurges – but am being honest in how things have gone for us! We’re still definitely lower than we would normally be, so I’ll take that as a success?

  • Day 1, 2 & 3 = $5.17
  • Day 4 & 5 = $15
  • Day 6, 7, 8, and 9 = $67.89 (this included several meals out while I was out of town – we knew we would go over for those few days)
  • Days 10, 11 & 12 = $48.34 (including $30.34 in groceries)
  • Total = $136.40 for all groceries and several meals out

 

Are you joining us in our no spend challenge? Check out these posts to learn more if you’re interested, and I’d love to hear how you’re doing too!

 

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What Really Impresses Me

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Me with one of my favorites – teaching me more about value than anything else!

 

I read a fantastic article this morning, and goodness, it so hit home for me today. As a busy mom who simply doesn’t have time to keep up with the newest trends, who couldn’t care less that her minivan has 160,000 miles on it (it runs great!), and who’s never owned expensive jewelry other than my wedding ring, it just felt good to have those words written out for me.

 

Here was my favorite quote from the article . .

 

“Too often, people pay a premium just for the privilege of become a walking billboard. I am no longer impressed by the logo on your shirt, your purse, or the face of your watch. Instead, I admire those who are confident in timeless fashion and seek to make an impression by their character and their countenance.”

 

I’ve struggled my whole life with feelings of inadequacy (and am betting I’m not alone.) I’ve looked at skinnier girls, dressier-upped girls, oh-so-put-together girls and from my very earliest memories have never felt I’ve even come close to measuring up.

 

And as I’ve gotten older, it’s gone beyond how I look some days to what I have. Folks, we live in an absolutely perfect home. Ridiculously nice, really. But a few weeks ago when visiting a new house in our neighborhood I noticed the home’s perfect mudroom and excessively large pantry.

 

It was beautiful.

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I came home, and all of a sudden the my own mudroom and pantry just felt a little puny. 

 

Did you hear me? I LIVE IN A HOUSE THAT HAS A MUDROOM AND A PANTRY, AND I LET MYSELF BELIEVE THAT WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME? 

 

Jeesh.

 

Wherever you are in your finances, wherever you are in your life, don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of believing more stuff equals more value. 

 

It doesn’t. 

 

And honestly? No matter what you have, someone will always have more, so you’ll never win the if only war.

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Instead, exemplify by your character and countenance your true value, whether you’re checking out at the grocery store or playing with your babies at home. Your value has absolutely nothing to do with your stuff ~ don’t allow this world to trick you into believing anything else.

 

Take a minute to read this post today. 

 

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Facebook Fans: Please Read

 

 

If you follow Passionate Penny Pincher primarily via Facebook, don’t miss this! While Facebook is an awesome place to share deals, Facebook doesn’t always allow everything we post here on PPP to be seen by everyone.  (In fact, less than 5-10% of the PPP fans on Facebook see most of the things I post.)

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Here are a few tips to make sure you keep up with everything:

 

  1. Go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Get Notifications”. This will mean you get updated on everything here on PPP (I think!), but I will warn you that I post 12-18 times per day (just want you to know that upfront so you’re not completely overwhelmed by updates!) ;)
  2. OR, go to the “LIKED” tab at the top right of the PPP Facebook page and click on “Add to Interest Lists”. Create a list (sometime like “coupons”), and then the list will appear on your Facebook home screen.  When you click on the that list, any Facebook page that you’ve included will appear along with your full feed.
  3. Leave a comment or “like” a Facebook post every once in awhile frequently.  The more you interact on a FB page, the more often those sites will show up in your feed!
  4. Visit PPP directly HERE and be sure to sign up for the daily PPP email newsletterI love our Facebook community so much, but there’s no guarantee that all of the content here on PPP will be seen by many folks on Facebook, and often by the time it shows up in your feed a deal may have expired. So, stop here when you have a second and never miss a deal!

 

If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know! We are closing in on TWO HUNDRED & TEN THOUSAND FACEBOOK FANS (*C*R*A*Z*I*N*S*S*!*), and I love connecting with you all over there.
And by the way, if you’re not on Facebook join in over HERE – you can also check out PPP on Instagram as well!
Thanks for making my job so fun each day!
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What To Buy At Costco: Top 15 Items To Help You Save Big

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What to Buy at Costco

Curious what to buy at Costco? While I think some (many?) items can be overpriced at Costco compared to grocery store sale savings (especially after using coupons), there are some prices at Costco that you just can’t beat.

 

My rule of thumb is to stick to whole foods while shopping Sam’s and Costco – they’re pre-packaged convenience foods tend to be very over-priced from as I’ve compared them to other stores. But, their regular prices on produce, meat, and dairy products are pretty reasonable, so if you can skip them temptation to buy too much while you’re there the membership cost may be worth it. You’ll likely find lower prices on even whole foods during a good sale ad at your local grocery store, but Costco’s prices on these items are usually fairly competitive.  (And, they consistently offer good quality at those prices!)

 

Here are my top 15 deals  . . . 

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1. Milk. At $2.45 a gallon, I haven’t found another store that regularly carries milk anywhere near this price. Occasionally I’ve seen milk around that price at Aldi, but recently even Aldi’s price has been closer to $3.  If your family drinks a lot of milk each week, a trip once every two weeks might be worth the Costco membership.

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2. Bananas. At $1.39 for 3 pounds of bananas, your price comes out to 46¢ per pound. While I’ve seen prices a little lower than these at the grocery store, this is a pretty great price, and are always fresh enough to last quite awhile.

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3. Water bottles. If you absolutely have to buy water bottles (I choose to re-use them when I can!), Sam’s Club has a great price on these. These come out to 8¢ per bottle, which is so much less than you’d ever pay while you’re out!

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4. Gift cards. If you’re planning to eat out anyways, you might as well enjoy some savings, right? Both Costco and Sam’s Club offer gift card savings of up to 20% when you purchase gift cards in store. They include several great restaurants ~ PF Chang’s, Smashburger, Texas Roadhouse and more, and some stores carry entertainment gift cards like Cinemark as well! The best part is you can combine these gift cards with restaurant coupons, which can save you a bundle while eating out.

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5. Salad Mix. 
Costco’s big three pound bag of salad is just $2.79, which is a fantastic price. You can also get their Organic Spring Mix for $4.49, which beats the price that you’ll regularly find at the grocery store, and is so nice to have on hand if you have a large family who eats a lot of salad.
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6. Kirkland Brand Fabric Softener Sheets. These cost $.018 per sheet, and is the lowest price I’ve seen on fabric softener sheets without combining coupons and a sale. If you just need to stock up, this is a great price!

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7. Kirkland Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast. Kirkland’s Frozen Chicken comes out to $1.96 per pound, and while this isn’t the best price I’ve ever seen, it is a really good basic every day price. Worth stocking up while you’re there to make your life easier!

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8. BACON! This one kind of surprised me, but is so worth grabbing when you’re there. Get 4 pounds of bacon for $10.99 or $2.74 per pound ~ we bought this recently and the quality was great (not fatty), so I would definitely recommend this one. (Don’t forget you can freeze it too.)

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9. Honey. Honey at Costco comes out to 17¢ per ounce, which is a great every day low price. If your family uses a lot of honey for baking or as a natural sweetener, this one’s worth picking up.

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10. Canned veggies. Canned veggies at Costco are priced between 43¢ and 46¢ per can, which is almost my stock up price even with coupons! You’ll have a lot of veggies on hand, but you won’t need more canned vegetables for quite awhile.

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11. Sugar. Sugar is $4.39 for a 10 pound bag at Costco, which is a good price for sugar unless you watch for a great sale around the Holidays.

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12. Butter. Butter at Costco comes out to $1.99 per pound, which you may be able to find during a good sale at the grocery store, but since it’s their price every day it’s worth stocking up on while you’re there.

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13. Eggs. Eggs are priced at $1.39/lb at Costco, however they’re sold in as 7.5 dozen eggs, which is a lot of eggs! I haven’t seen those prices on eggs here in the Columbus area in quite awhile, so why I normally think it’s a little high egg prices have definitely gone up over the last few years.

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14. Rotisserie Chicken. For $4.99 you can get one of Costco’s huge Rotisserie Chickens, which is a very good price if you’re in a hurry but need an easy meal. You’ll skip paying too much for dinner out, and their rotisserie chickens are delicious. It won’t be quite as penny pinched as cooking a whole chicken yourself, but on a busy night that convenience is sometimes worth it.

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15. The Costco restaurant. ;) Okie dokie, if you just want a chance to skip cooking, you can’t beat Costco’s $1.50 hot dog and drink. They also have pizza slices for $1.99 ~ my favorite way to easily feed my kids when we’re running errands out and about!

 

So there’s my top fifteen! What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

 

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Looking for more? See what to buy at Sam’s Club and what to buy at the Dollar Tree too!

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No Spend Challenge: Days 4 & 5

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Good. ness.

 

This whole no spend challenge thing was for the birds today.

 

Yesterday we did great – the kids were on a two-hour delay from school, so before they headed out in the morning they helped me make Monkey Bread and Jello, and we managed to spend $0 throughout the day. 

 

(My hubby even took his lunch to work without any potato chips ~ serious sacrifice folks.)

 

I did grab these $14 Twinkle Toes for my daughter. (Although we’re only really counting groceries and food in our challenge, I’m still trying to pay attention to all of our spending.) The price is back up now, but they were too good a deal to miss!  We had ravioli and salad for dinner in between driving kids back and forth around town, and stuck to our budget completely ~ woohoo!

 

And then, I almost made it today. :)

 

This morning I flew out of Columbus to visit friends for the weekend and scrapbook, but was determined to stick to my No Spend Challenge as much as I could. When James and I went to Utah a few weeks ago I was reminded of just how ridiculously priced airport food was, so I purposely packed snacks to take with me not wanting to shell out $10 for a bagel.

 

My flight through Charlotte was fine (I was shocked with the crazy weather going on everywhere!), but once I was in Charlotte we sat, and sat, and sat. I stayed away though from the temptation of Starbucks, Auntie Anne’s and Einstein Brothers as I walked through the airport, and enjoyed my Nature Valley Bar and Smart Pop. :)

 

However, I didn’t expect the flight to be delayed until 4 PM, so by the time the plane finally took off I was starving.  My friend Shannon and I were planning to meet for dinner though, so I figured I could hold out a little longer. 

When we flew over Huntsville though, the ground was covered in snow (I thought), but the roads were actually covered in ice so there was no way we could get together. I headed out of the airport looking for something to eat, and saw those lovely golden arches just beckoning me.

 

So I pulled in, decided I could survive even McDonald’s, and after waiting at the drive thru for at least eight minutes realized they were closed. Along with every single other restaurant I could see – so I was completely stuck ~ and famished!

 

Thank heavens there was a Subway a little ways further down the road with lights on, and sure enough they were open. I ran in, grabbed my Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich (I love those things!), and came to the hotel to catch up on blogging before enjoying most of the weekend off.

 

So, there you have it. I talked to my hubby tonight and he baked a frozen pizza for dinner, then splurged and took our kids to Dairy Queen as a treat. I think the total damage for the day was around $15 – not too awful all things considered? I’d love to hear if you’re joining us how things are looking in your family – it really is possible to save (and so worth it when you consider what you really want rather than what you want right now.) 

 

Interested in joining us in our No Spend Challenge? Here’s how we’re starting . . .

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No Spend Challenge Day 3: $0 Spent Today

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The weather here in Ohio was just plain old nasty out, so I’m so glad we didn’t have to head out for anything today! 

 

Reagan and I started out the morning making Homemade Maracroni Grill Rosemary bread,

and brining a pork roast that had been in our freezer since the fall.

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While we were cooking she asked when we could fill her jar for missionaries, so we added $10 from the money we’d saved last night by drinking water (she was so excited!)

While the kids were at school our bread machine got the dough ready (see more on why I love that here), and as soon as Caroline got home she was ready to get the dough ready to bake. (I noticed this great deal on a similar bread machine to the one I’ve had for fifteen years – if you’re considering purchasing one, this is a great price!)

Of course, my sweet Caroline being oh-so-sweet-Caroline, decided that we needed to go all out and bake up some brownies for dessert too.

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Since we had a bunch of cake mixes in the pantry, Caroline found this recipe and they turned out so well! So, our total spent for the day was $0.  I’m guessing our dinner tonight cost around $8 including pork roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, salads, bread, and applesauce ~ not too shabby!

 

Interested in joining us in our No Spend Challenge? Here’s how we’re starting . . .

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Consider Your Time Cost

I have a secret for you today. 

 

I don’t really like going to the grocery store. 

 

And a trip to Walmart? 

 

Um, yeah, I’d rather clean a hundred toilets than take that challenge on.

 

In fact, shopping is one of those things that I’ll do just about anything to get around, which really helps my budget. 

 

A few years ago a friend of  mine and I were talking about what was for dinner, and I mentioned that I was making some sort of meat, veggies, and had fresh bread in the oven.

 

She kind of looked at me like I was from another era . . . the thought of a busy mom making fresh bread in 2013 (or whatever year it was), just wasn’t normal to her. 

 

But here’s the thing . . . I don’t have time not to make fresh bread.

 

If I look through my pantry and we’re out of bread (or whatever convenience food I’m looking for), it’s waayyyyy  easier for me to dump the ingredients in my bread machine and mix up a loaf. (It really, really, really helps that I have a bread machine ~ this is similar to the one I use ~ and have had for 15 years.)

My time baking bread? Done in five minutes flat (with a cute helper alongside of me.)

 

Time to head to the store for a loaf? Easily twenty minutes, most likely $20, and that cute helper alongside of me quickly turns into the oh-my-goodness-I-need-it-all-right-now-please-please-please-please-momma child. ;)

 

The same is true with eating out.

 

I hear people say all the time that they don’t have time to cook a meal, but honestly, I don’t have time not to cook.

 

Going to a restaurant ~ even a drive thru ~ easily takes thirty minutes to an hour with my busy bunch.

 

Making sandwiches or spaghetti at home can literally be finished up in twenty minutes flat. And yes, it means I’ll have dirty dishes to deal with, but I have fantastic helpers who can help me along with that.

 

 

The next time you’re considering going to the store for just one convenience item or heading out to eat because you just don’t have the time to cook, really really consider the time cost involved. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but it’s worth really considering if your time saved really is time saved. 

 

Am I the only one who does the mental math on this stuff all the time? :) I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

 

 

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