It can become frustrating when you have to make dinner. However, there is a very easy way to get dinner on the table during the week if you plan ahead.  I don’t know about you, but when I get home in the evening, I really don’t feel like cooking and I really
don’t eat fast or convenience foods.  So, what I do is to prepare all my meals for the week ahead of time.

We have all spent money at the grocery store with good intentions of cooking meals when we got home but ended up throwing away most of the produce due to spoilage and, not only that, we have even had to spend more money buying meals outside the home. Most of us are tired when we get home from work and we really don’t want to cook if we end up getting home at 6 p.m. or later.

One way that to solve the problem is to prepare all of your meals for the upcoming week during the weekend. Start by making a menu for the week including everyone’s favorites. Next, you purchase all of your groceries for the meals that you plan to prepare. On Saturday morning, you will do all the cooking with the assistance of your children, if they want to help you.

Since cooking the meats will take the longest to cook, you can start with them. It is wise to cook varieties of meats so that you don’t
get bored of eating the same meat all week long.

Prepare all of your side dishes too. Even though you might be tempted to cook the main part of the meal and leave the side dishes so that you can prepare them the day of that meals, don’t do it.  Prepare all of your side dishes ahead because you will not feel like cooking anything when the time comes to serve the meal.

If you go this route and cook all of your meals on the weekend, just remember that you will need containers to hold your dishes so
this should be part of the planning. There are two ways that you can store your meals. One way is to store each of your side dishes in separate large containers and your main meat dishes in large separate containers. Then each day, you will take a meat dish and two side dishes from the freezer to heat up for dinner.

The other way is to give your family a choice each day about what they want to eat. This involves giving your family the option to choose what they want to eat each day.  What you will do is when you are finished cooking all of the meals and the food is cool,
you family will be responsible for preparing their own container of food for each day of the week. That way, they can have one meat and two sides for each of their containers. Or you can do it for them if they so desire. Every day, each of your family members can choose which meal they want to eat that day.

The next step involves labelling what is inside each container.

Each of the above options work but it is up to your family to decide what is best for them. Cooking on the weekend will not only save you time but you will save tons of money because you will no longer need to dine out if you are tired from a hard day’s work.

You will also have plenty of leftovers if the food that you cooked is more than what your family can eat in the week.  If you have leftovers, just freeze everything for another time because those meals will surely come in handy.

Just remember that if you are going to prepare all of these meals on the weekend, you will need to purchase some family size containers which don’t really cost that much anyway.

Preparing your meals in advance will sure eliminate any stress around your house during dinner time and it really worth it because you will be able to spend time in the evening with your family rather than in the kitchen cooking and you will also save money.

Filed under: Things to Make at Home

With the popularity of credit cards, many people have neglected budgeting and they spend even though they really cannot afford to spend. Years ago, if you did not have money to buy things that you need, you simply went without until you could afford the item. Nowadays, people are simply spending more money than they earn without even thinking about their spending. Consequently, there are millions of people in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada who are very deep in debt
because they do not know that they have to manage the money that they earn.

The banks do not appear to be perturbed by all of the credit card debts and all the bad debts that they have had to write off their
books.  The reason they are not concerned about any of this is because they have thought about all of these factors in determining
their high interest rates that they have been charging their customers. However, budgeting is something that everyone can do and should do and it involves much more than listing what you are spending and what you are earning.

It involves spending your money on things that you really need and budgeting accordingly.

The Greatest Motivator

You need to be motivated to budget your money otherwise budgeting will be a complete failure. So, the objective is to set up a budget and stick to it so you will have money to save. Nobody has ever become rich by spending more money.  People become wealthy by spending their money wisely and investing the money that is left over to make more money.

Once you recognize this, you will learn to make a budget and stick to it.  Make no mistake, this is a learning process. Once you see all the extra money that is left over after your weekly or monthly spending, your confidence will grow.

Keeping Detached

When you are budgeting, think of yourself as a professional who is doing a budget for a family so you don’t become overwhelmed by the process and become emotional.  Cutting back on family trips or holidays or buying new things for your children can
cause you to become very emotional. However, budgeting is something that you have to do so don’t despair.

Be Open Minded

When you start budgeting, there is no doubt that your family will be affected. However, just remember that budgeting will affect your entire family so you might want to discuss this with them so that they understand what is going on. Your family might not like the sacrifices that they have to make but they will understand in the end. This will also be a very important lesson for your children because they will learn that you can’t just buy everything that you want but you should be living within your means. Maybe you would want to get your children involved and give them some money that they can open a saving account with.

Ignore Peer Pressure

Your personal budget is a personal matter because it based on your own personal circumstances. So, when you go out with your friends, you will have to ignore the pressure that will force you to spend money that you should not be spending. Just because your friends are taking holidays or buying new cars, it does not mean that you have to follow suit. Or, just because your
sister has bought a new car, does not mean that you should go out and buy one too.

You should simply ignore all of the temptations and learn to stick to the budget that you have made for you and your family’s sake.

If you focus on the money that you spend each month, you will learn how to have a highly effective home budget.

 

Filed under: Ideas to Save Money

If you are like most people, you have to live on a budget if you want to pay all of your bills each month. So, there is not much extra money laying around for you to overindulge. Even though you might indulge by buying the occasional gourmet coffee, most of your money goes towards monthly living expenses. There are some ways that you can curtail your expenditures which will
allow you to have extra money that you use to buy a few more things that will allow you to have a little more fun.

Comparing Prices

This might be a simple idea, but once you begin to compare prices your spending habits will significantly change.

If you compare prices while you are grocery shopping, you will save money by doing this one thing. The best way to compare prices is to do your comparison shopping by looking through flyers and ads before you go shopping so you will know where you can get the best deals. Try this, before you go shopping, make a list of the items that you need and then compare the prices to find the best deals. Don’t just go to the store and fill your cart with things that you catch your attention. You will have a list of items and you will know the prices before you even step foot in the store because you would have done your comparison beforehand. You will be amazed at the savings you will reap when you purchase the items you need at the lowest possible price.

Comparing prices is not just for grocery shopping. If you want to go the movies, you can compare different show times to find out if you can watch the movie earlier for a savings. Even though this will only save a couple of dollars, savings will add up over the entire year.

If you like to drink coffee, you can also compare coffee prices at different coffee shops to see if you can pay a little less or better
yet you might even try carrying coffee from home. If you make your own coffee and carry it to work, you will definitely save a considerable amount of money because gourmet coffee is very expensive. Another great tip is to buy some good coffee beans and grind them yourself.  You will be enjoying great tasting coffee and will free up a lot of cash that you were spending at the coffee shops.

As you can see, making small changes to you budget, like brewing your own coffee at home or taking in an earlier movie will cut your budget. Unless you try these save money tips, you will not know how much money you will save.

Filed under: Ideas to Save Money

Ingredients:

1 tbsp dry active yeast
7 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
2 1/2 lukewarm water between 105 – 115 degrees Fahrenheit
1 tbsp sugar

Method:

In a bowl, add 1/2 cup of the water. Add a level tablespoon of the active dry yeast and 1 level tablespoon sugar. Whisk together and allow it to stand for about 15 minutes until it bubbles up and expands (this is called proofing the yeast).  Add the other two cups of lukewarm water to the bowl if the yeast is good. Check the temperature before adding the water to the yeast.

Next, you will be adding 3 1/2 level cups of all purpose or bread flour, 1 cup of at a time, mixing well. (If you add heaping cups of flour, you will be adding too much flour which will produce a very densed bread). After you have added all of the flour, add 1 level tbsp of salt and 1/2 stick of softened unsalted butter.

Next, you will be adding the remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of flour at a time. Mix well.  Hold off on adding the last 1/2 cup of flour so you can assess if the dough needs it or not. If the dough is sticky, you can add a little more flour at a time.

Mix by hand at this point. When all of the flour has been incorporated. Spread a little flour on the countertop and place the dough on the counter and start kneading. To knead the dough, push into it, fold one side over and turn a little and push again. Keep pushing and folding. Keep adding flour a little at a time until the dough is not sticky. This will take about 10 minutes. The dough will be smooth and will not stick to the counter.

Next, you have to let the dough rest. Pour some vegetable oil in a large bowl and place dough in the bowl and move it around until the dough is coated with the oil to prevent it from forming a crust. Cover tightly with Saran wrap and place in a draft free area. It will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour to double in size.

In the meantime, butter two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans and set aside.

Once the dough has doubled in size, deflate the dough by punching it down. Put some flour on the counter and divide the dough in half. Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten it out until it is about 12″ x 9″ inches. Take the top portion and fold it until it is about 2/3 of the way down. Fold the bottom edge up over the top portion. Pinch the seams and tuck in the sides, flip it over and put in a loaf pan. Do the same thing to the other piece of dough.

Grease the Saran wrap on one side and place the oiled side over the pans loosely. Allow the bread to rise. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour. Set oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat up the oven 15 minutes before the end of the hour that the bread is rising. When the dough has doubled in size, bake for about 35 minutes. Use the center rack of the oven and don’t put the pans close together. About 10 minutes before the bread is finished baking, you can remove the bread from the pans and put them back into the oven for the last 10 minutes so that they brown on both sides and the bottom (this is not required).

To tell that the bread is finished, knock on it and you will hear a hollow sound. Or, you can insert a thermometer and the reading should be about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t cut the bread when it is still warm otherwise it will dry out.

If you are want to know how to make home bread, this is an easy recipe to try.

How to Make Bread

Filed under: Easy Recipes at Home

There is plenty of advice on how to live frugally. It can range from as simple as how to make your own bread to how to make electricity or even how to collect rain water. There are many online forums where people discuss how to make your own electricity for home use and how to sell the remainder.

Frugality really depends on your own lifestyle. The way I see it, being frugal is thinking before you purchase anything. Turning down the heat to save on utilities or turning of lights when you are not in the room is a good way to start. Shopping when items that you want are on sale is another way to be frugal. Also, asking yourself if you really need an item before purchasing it is also being frugal.

However, being frugal is not about reusing foil wrap or plastic baggies nor is it about collecting rainwater or making your own
electricity. It is not even about a pair of slack that you did not buy. It is simply about thinking before you spend money. It is also about conservation and it is about managing your finances so that you save money.

Finances vary from household to household because every family has different earnings and different goals.  It may not look frugal to you if another family has a large expensive van.  However, that family might need a large van because they might have a
child who is disabled and they need to accommodate a wheelchair. You might buy your groceries in bulk to save money and splurge in other ways.

Every household has to look at how they spend their money and make a decision as to where they want to cut costs to become more frugal because being frugal does not mean going without things that you want.

Frugal shoppers are very careful about how they spend their money and they make the most of the money that they earn.  In fact, frugal shoppers have everything that they want without the financial hurt because they spend the time making wise financial decisions by making their money work for them rather against them. In essence, they spend less but have more.

Frugality is all about spending less money for the things that you need and living within your means and investing the savings to make more money. It is also about making goals and adhering to them. Which type of person are you?  Are you the type of
person who spends your money before you make it or are you the type of person who knows beforehand how and where you will spend your money?

In order to be frugal, you really have to take a close look at your finances to see how you are spending your income.  For the most part, it is not how much money you make but it is actually how you spend the money that you earn that is the most important thing. If you are spending more than you earn, you have a serious situation on your hand. You simply have to spend less than you earn because if you don’t you will run into serious financial problems. This is what frugality is about because it easier to spend less money than you earn than it is to earn more money. Would you rather spend less or have to deal with multiple credit card payments or loan payments every month.

Look for methods that will work for you and your family and live the frugal lifestyle.  You will be glad you did.

 

Filed under: How to Live Frugally

It is very common for garments to have buttons so buttons come off garments from time to time. This might become a problem if you don’t know how to sew on a button. A lot of people, including me, carry sewing repair kits or needle and thread in their purses or even keep them in their desk drawers at work just in case they need to do a little mending due to an emergency situation. If the old button is broken, you will not be able to sew it back on so you will need extra buttons.

If you have a sewing machine at home, you can use it to replace the button with the button attachment that most machines come
with.  The button will stay on longer if it is sewn on with a sewing machine. However, you really don’t need a sewing machine to sew on a button because you can have equally good results if you do the work by hand. The most important thing about getting a button to stay on the garment for a long time is to use good quality thread to sew it on the garment. The reason is that weak thread breaks easily so the result will not last as long.

Most garments that you buy come with extra buttons so if you have saved them, you simply have to find the button and so it on the garment; however, if you don’t have a matching button, find a close match to replace the button.  Hold the button firmly in place
so that you can sew it on properly.

If your jeans button comes off, you will have to replace these buttons differently since most of them do not come with holes in them so you might have to take them to a professional to get the button replaced but it not really necessary to pay to get them replaced if you know how.  There are tools that you can buy to snap the buttons on. Or, you can use a pair of pliers to get the job done.

Clothing can be very expensive so to keep them looking new by checking them periodically to see if buttons need to be replaced or sewn back on.

Replacing a button is very easy process and all it takes is a little practice and you will get the hang of it.

Filed under: How to Crafts

The word “frugal” has a very negative overtone even though its meaning is no difference from that of a cheapskate or a saver.
Frugality carried to the extreme can be ridiculous and this is the reason for the negative overtone.

You cannot go wrong if you follow the principles of frugality and you will reap the benefits of these savings so when you shop you
should keep your head up high.

1. Dining Out – If you dine out with friends every Friday this can add up over a period of time but if you cut back to one Friday a month, this is fine.

2. Buying Clothes – If you are trying to cut spending, buying designer clothes is not something that you should continue to do. You do not need trendy clothes to look current. Just buy pieces of clothing that you can add to your existing wardrobe.

3. Owning a Home – If you are looking for a home to purchase, be practical. You can save considerably if you buy a small home or
try other ways of home ownership like renting to own, or finding other ways of financing your home like through the owner.

4. Buying a Car – Stay clear away from sport cars or sports utility vehicles. If you keep in mind that the purpose of having a vehicle is to transport you to places that you need to go then you will not need flashy vehicles. Also check out the new car warranty  programs.  Another thing to consider is that perhaps you really don’t need to replace your car.

5. Grocery Shopping – Stay away from brand name products.  Buying store brands or other brands will yield considerable savings but you need to compare prices. Use coupons or purchase items on sale.

6. Family Outings – Going to local parks, having picnics or even visiting friends are inexpensive ways to bond with your family.

7. School Supplies – Stock up on school supplies when they go on sale and furthermore do not buy the fancy stuff.

8. Try not to keep up with your neighbours and live within your means.

9. Chldren’s Education – Teach them to be self-supporting by working to build up their college funds. They can also apply for scholarships that might be available to them.

10. Financial Limits – Always know your financial limits.

11. Planning your budget – Sticking to your budget will keep your clear of impulse buying.

Living frugally involves smart shopping and inventive ways of doing things that you and your family will enjoy.

Filed under: How to Live Frugally

Since energy costs have become higher than any other time in  the past, finding ways to reduce energy costs will save you money. Below are some tips to help you reduce your home heating costs. Your savings will add up over a period of time.  These tips will
take minutes to implement as some of them don’t even involve making major  changes.  Even if you make small changes, you will reap considerable savings during the winter months.

Below are 10 tips that you can implement to save on your  heating costs:

1. Reduce the heating on your hot water thermostat to about  115 to 120 degrees. If you don’t know how to adjust the thermostat, read the  manual. The knob to adjust the temperature can usually be found near the bottom  of the tank.

2. Clean your central air conditioning filters. If you don’t  clean your filters periodically, they will become clogged thereby making your  unit work harder at it tries to do the job it was designed to do.

3. Look for and plug any leaks in your air ducts. You may  not be aware that your heating bill will increase if there are leaks in your
ducts so check them thoroughly to make sure they are no disconnections or gaps. If you are not handy at doing these types of things, it is worth it to hire a  professional to do the job.

4. Set your thermostat a few degrees lower. You probably  will not notice the difference but you will definitely notice when you receive  a lower bill.

5. Talking about thermostats, you might want to change yours  to a programmable one if it is an older model. The reason you want to have a  programmable thermostat is because you can program it for different temperature  settings during the day and during the night. There is really no need for you  to have a warm house when no one is at home. Thermostats are not very expensive
and you might be able to install it yourself.

6. Insulating your attic can also bring you considerable savings because heat rises and if your attic is not properly insulated, you
will be losing heat through your roof. You might also want to hire a professional  to do this job as well but it is imperative that you have your attic checked  out to see if you are losing heat this way. If you think you can do this job  yourself, what you need to know is the measurement of your attic.  Once you know the square footage, you can buy  insulation that is between R-13 and R-30. Since insulation can cause irritation  to the skin, it is important that you wear gloves and appropriate clothing when  you are doing the job.

7. Just remember that all those cracks and gaps in your home  are equivalent to having a small open window letting in cold air and thereby  letting out heat from your home. So, if you want to save heating costs, you  must take the time to fill in all the gaps around your home like windows,  doors, pipes, dryers and all the other leaks in your home. For windows and  doors, you can plug the leaks with weather stripping. For tight spaces, you can  purchase the insulation foam which comes in a can. The insulation foam expands  to fill tiny gaps.

8. If you are not using rooms in your home, it is also a  good idea to close the vents. For rooms that you are not using, close off the
hot air ducts and properly seals the windows and doors to make sure they are no  leakages. It is pointless to heat up a room that no one is using.

9. Another way to heat your home is to open all the windows  during the day to let in the sun in and close them in the evening when it get  colder. If you allow direct sunlight to stream into your home, you will be  amazed at the heat that it will generate.

10. Another way, you can lose heat is through your  fireplace. Close off the damper if you are not using your fireplace and check
it to see if any cold air is coming in after you close it off.  Reduce heating in your home if you’re using  your fireplace.

If you implement these tips you will realize considering  savings in your home heating costs. Following through on these tips and hiring  a professional for the jobs that you cannot do yourself will net you  considerable savings in your home heating bills.  If you are looking for ways on how to be frugal, then  following these tips, can reap savings of about 25% which will cut your bill by  about $100 per month.

Filed under: How to Live Frugally

Families are spending a great deal of money these days and it is not only because of skyrocketing prices. One of the reasons families are spending more money is because the person who is managing the household finances is not keeping track of how much money they are spending or what they are spending money on. The fact is that families can cut costs in quite a few
areas if they make a concerted effort to review their expenses.  This will free up a great deal of money that they can use to pay down debt or put into their savings.

For example, most families can reduce their food budget if they shop more wisely. Another area that they can cut is their dining out budget.  Most families spend a great deal of money buying food outside of the home.

According to a recent consumer survey, the whole family should try carrying lunch to work or school at least one day of the week. Even if one member of the family carries lunch to work one day of the week, savings is estimated to be about $400.00 per year and this amount will double or triple if more than one member of the family does this.

Housing is another major expense. One way that you can reduce your housing expense is to look into refinancing or find a lower
interest rate or even pay off your mortgage in a shorter period of time.  If you cannot alter your mortgage payment, enquire into paying a little extra amount each month or sometimes on renewal you can pay off a lump sum payment.  If you do any of these things, you will pay your mortgage off at a faster rate.

Another way you can save is to take a look at what you are spending on utilities. Your can save on utilities by having your insulation or weather stripping checked to see if they need to be updated. Plugging all the leaks where heat is escaping will save your tons of money.  Also, you need to keep your air conditioner and furnace maintained.  Another way you can save money is to turn down the thermostat at night or when your family is away from home.

Another expense that you can cut back on is transportation. You are well aware that if you have a vehicle that it is very costly to operate and maintain considering the price of gasoline and maintenance. To cut back on transportation costs, you might want to consider carpooling with your family members if they have their own vehicles. Instead of using separate vehicles to run errands, you can combine your trips to cut down on expenses.  You can also save on gasoline by taking advantage of discounts and be watchful of gas prices. You can also save money on your transportation costs by ensuring that your vehicle is consistently maintained so that your vehicle can achieve it potential gas mileage.

You can also save money by choosing the right bank for you. Choose a bank that does not charge fees for every transaction.  If you belong to a credit union, most transactions are free so you might want to join a credit union to save on fees. Paying your bills electronically and using a debit card will also trim your banking fees and not to mention savings on postage.  Avoiding banking fees will save you tons of money.

Another major savings can be obtained from reducing credit card costs. Get a credit card with low interest rate or one that has low fees or no fees at all. There are many credit cards companies so what you need to do is to shop around until you find one that suits you.

Health care costs is another things that sucks a lot of money out of your pocket so you should take advantage of offers and programs that will bring considerable savings to you. To save on health care costs, you can take advantage of your employer’s health care plans.  Many employers have health care spending accounts that employees can take advantage of to save on dental,
non-prescription medications and vision costs.

Review your insurance policies to save money. To save on your insurance rates, do comparisons of insurance policies to see if you can save on house, vehicle, or personal insurance. Another thing you can do to save money on insurance is to increase the deductible level or use the same insurance company for all of your policies. Let your insurance company or companies know
that you are trying to get a better rate on your insurance policies and they might try to offer you a better rate to keep you.

Communications is another major expense for families because they have to pay for cell phones, TV cable providers and internet access. What you really need to do about this is to review all of these services and see where you can make cuts. You will save money if you purchase your communications from the same company. This way you can bundle all services for
a lower payment.

The internet has made it so easy to do comparison shopping that this is something that you can do for most of your purchases.  You will also not have to spend money on gas since you will be sitting in front of your computer.

In essence, to take control of your spending, you need to review all your family’s expenditures to see where you can cut costs if you are on a frugal budget. You will see that by making a few changes, you will reap considerable savings in your household budget. With all of the money that you save, you will be able to pay for things like vacations or big ticket items for your home.

 

Filed under: How to Live Frugally

You an use an inexpensive sparkling wine in this recipe for white Sangria.  You do not have to use the fruits in this recipe because you can use whatever fruit that is in season.

White Sangria

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) of mixed cut fresh fruit (peaches, grapes, strawberries)

750 ml dry sparkling, chilled white wine (1 bottle)

60 ml (2ozs) brandy

60 ml (2 ozs) vanilla liqueur

60 ml (2 ozs) white grape juice

5 ml (1 tsp) sugar

1 small sprig fresh mint

Method:

In a pitcher, add the ice and then the fruit.  Next you will slowly and carefully pour in the sparking wine.  The next step is to mix, in a separate measuring cup, the brandy, vanilla liqueur, grape juice and sugar.  Pour this mixture into the pitcher.  Garnish with mint.

Filed under: Easy Mixed Drinks

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