Thursday, October 18, 2007

Entertaining on a Budget

Saving money and living on a tight budget does not mean you have to give up entertaining. There is a new twist on an old idea that is becoming very popular, particularly during the fall and winter time. It's a soup potluck. Each person or family is asked to bring either a pot of soup, bread, desert, or beverage. Make sure there are two people bringing soup. This will help with variety as well as ensure there is enough for everyone. Soup is not only inexpensive to make, but can be made in large batches with extra to freeze for later meals.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Fall Day At The Pumpkin Patch

This past weekend I had a marvelous Sunday. My favorite 6 year old invited me to join her, her mom, and her friend on a trip to the pumpkin patch. The day was warm, crisp, sunny, and beautiful. We found a family run pumpkin patch that had inflatable slides, a petting farm, and freshly made carmel apples. We wandered around the farm and checked out all of the animals making sure to pet whatever was friendly. Next came the time honored tradition of picking out just the right pumpkin. My little 6 year old buddy chose the one with a ladybug on it. Her friend found one with a ladybug as well. Mom found the one with a slug and that left the spider pumpkin for me. I also had to pick up a couple of miniature pumpkins for decorations. When we finished with important details, we rewarded ourselves for all of our hard work with 2 carmel apples. The moral of this story?

Cost of inflatable slide: $0
Cost of petting zoo: $3 for food
Cost of pumpkins: $10 for 5 pumpkins, 3 miniature pumpkins, and 5 gourds
Cost of carmel apples: $8 (little expensive, but they were huge!)

Day out in the country with your favorite 6 year old: Priceless - Okay, I know you saw that one coming... true cost $21 for a day out for 4 plus extra pumpkins for cooking as well as jack o' lanterns

Four No Spend Days

We are half way through October and I have 4 No Spend Days down and 6 more to go. Tomorrow will be another No Spend Day because I will be at a seminar for work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reinventing Leftovers

Being single I find it challenging to cook and not get tired of leftovers. One way I have found to fight blah meals is to cook a base like chicken breast, marinated steak, or ground beef and save leftovers in easy to use portions for other meals. To put the pieces together, choose a starch and a vegetable or two to compliment the base. Suggestions include:
~ Pasta with mushrooms, and broccoli
~ Fried Rice with peas, bok choy, and carrots
~ Tortilla with tomatoes and peppers to make a quesadilla
Ground Beef
~ Potatoes with mushrooms, carrots and onions for a Shepard's Pie
~ Pasta with tomato sauce
~ Tortilla with olives, tomatoes, and lettuce to make a soft taco
Sliced Marinated Steak
~ Rice with bok choy, snow peas, and carrots for bento
~ Baked Potatoes with mushrooms and broccoli
~ Pita Bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and olives

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another No Spend Day!

We are halfway through the month and I've only had three real No Spend Days. Today was a challenge because a co-worker asked me to go out after work for sushi. I almost broke down, when we realized at the last minute the restaurant is closed on Monday. Now there's a sign!

Saving Energy While Living in an Apartment

This post is part of the Blog Action Day movement: thousands of blogs talking about the environment on October 15.

With all of the buzz words like eco-friendly, environmentally conscious, and green living, apartment dwellers seem to be getting the short end of the advice stick. After all, there is only so much you can do to make improvements. Here are some ideas you can do:

Water Conservation
  • Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth
  • Fill a pop bottle with water, cap it and slide it into your toilet tank.
  • Run your dishwasher when full, otherwise supplement in between times by filling a sink a quarter of the way.
  • Save laundry until you have a full load. Partial loads cost money.

Energy Conservation

  • Switching out to CFLs can save you $30 per bulb
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Unplug appliances when not in use. They still use energy even when not in use.
  • Consider signing up for alternative power options available through the power company. It may cost a little more, but it reduces our reliance on oil.


  • If your state offers a can and bottle deposit, take advantage of it and return them. Use the money for a fun fund, vacation savings, grocery bill supplement, etc.
  • Consider container gardening if you have a deck or porch. Many vegetables thrive in containers including lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers.
  • Want to save on fertilizer? Start a worm colony also known as vermiculture. The process is simple, uses vegetable scraps & newspaper, and no, it doesn't smell.
  • Instead of buying plastic bags for garbage, use the ones you've collected from stores. These are also handy for pet poop bags and diaper disposal.

How Much is Clutter Costing You?

This post is part of the Blog Action Day movement: thousands of blogs talking about the environment on October 15.

While cleaning my house this weekend, I realized something. If I'm paying rent on an apartment and all of this clutter is in my apartment, I'm paying rent to have clutter. I pay $600/mo for a 1 bedroom apartment, which where I live is really cheap, but I work for the management company and do favors for the manager. My apartment is about 600 square feet, so that translates into $1 per square foot. Think about it, that pile of papers that need to be filed is costing me $1 per month or $12 per year. The recycling that hasn't gone out to the curb costs $2.50 per month. The bag of clothing that should go to charity costs another $2.00 per month. Add another $4.00 for the boxes in storage that I haven't looked at for a year. That's $9.50 per month ($114 per year) and I haven't really even started on the stuff that is in drawers and cabinets. No wonder people keep buying bigger houses. As part of Blog Action Day, consider how much space we really need. How much space is determined by our consumer lifestyle?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Holiday Season Challenge - Keep It Simple

I lost count how many times I found the perfect gift and then, concerned about how inexpensive I did it for, went out and bought an expensive gift that had no meaning. I thought about this while reading The Simple Dollar's post, "Children's Gifts - Don't Spend A Lot On What They Don't Want." In it The Simple Dollar discusses birthday presents for a two year old. When thinking about what the child would want most, things like Hot Wheels cars, drawing paper, and books came up. Ask the child and it was apple juice. Out of the mouth of babes. In my own experience, I think of a couple of key times this was true for adults as well. For my best friend's first child, I knit her a blanket. At the last minute I panicked because I had only spent about $5 on the yarn. I ended up purchasing a silver spoon and sent it with the blanket. Before you think I totally lost my mind, I did purchase it at a going out of business sale for about $30, but when she called to thank me, she kept raving about the blanket and just mentioned the spoon. Moral of the story, the cost of the present isn't important, the thought is.