You're certain to be hungry after standing in line to vote!
Check out How to Eat Free on Election day for meal deals.
You're certain to be hungry after standing in line to vote!
As requested, here's the granola recipe. The recipe was originally posted by Jodi on the Saving Advice Message Boards:
4 cups oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
scant 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS canola oil
Dried fruit (to taste)
Combine oil and liquid sweetener in small pot. Heat to simmer. Mix oats, brown sugar, almonds and spices in large bowl. Pour heated sweetener/oil mix over oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread onto baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees fro 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add dried fruits (raisins, Craisins, dried cherries, etc) after removing from oven. Store in covered container after cooling.
NOTES: The type of oats doesn't matter: instant or old-fashioned will work. Do not over bake! When you remove granola from oven, it will not be crisp and crunchy, but the crunchiness will appear after it cools.
Groceries in my city are so much more expensive! I've been shopping at either Harris Teeter or Safeway (each about 1-2 miles from the house), but recently I've made a few trips to an Aldi about 5 miles away. I think the extra mileage and inconvenience is worth it. Milk alone is about $0.95 less at Aldi compared to the other chain stores.
Luckily, we have a few good farmer's markets where I can buy produce at a reasonable price. Other tactics I'm using to keep costs down are to use dry milk wherever possible (basically anything accept for drinking). I've also been making granola rather than buying cereal. I'm also trying to shop at the grocery store no more than 2x / month and supplement with produce from the Farmer's Market as needed. Although Aldi is farther drive, both Mr. Bean and I are commuting to work via public transportation, so our monthly gas costs are fairly minimal.
From Angry Bear
I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had
crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds
as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names
of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family
lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account
numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may transfer your commission for
this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson
[I hope to have some of my own material up soon! It's been a hectic few months but I hope you find this funny!]
My new life is proving to be busier than my old life, but I will resume regular posting again, soon.
If you're male, there's no need to continue to read.
In the meantime ladies: head on over to CVS and pick up a 72-count box of CVS Brand Tampons (plastic or cardboard) for $2.99. That's $10 off the regular price of $12.99.
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$100.00 kitchen table and chairs
$100.00 washer/ dryer
$40 reel lawn mower
$20 area rug
I'm still alive! I just need about 4 more hours in the day in order to get everything done.
I told Mr. Bean I've been too busy spending money to post!
Although I've been doing my share of spending, I've also been doing some selling of things that either don't work in our new place or were sold just as we moved but I hadn't added to the tally yet.
The money from the sales is helping to off set some of the moving expenses and purchases for the new place. We didn't really buy much for the house after we got married in 2004 since we were starting grad school, so we're upgrading some of our ramshackle furniture.
The largest of the purchases was a new-to-me dining room table, chairs and sideboard off Craig's List for $1000. The furniture is from Crate and Barrel and according to the seller cost over $4000 in 2002. The seller was asking $1200, but took my offer of $1000. It looks great in our new place and I can envision this being our dining set for the rest of our lives. I suffered from some serious sticker shock once I started looking at new furniture. Used is definitely the way to go. Not only is it cheaper, but it also allows you to see how a piece wears after a few years of use.
The next thing we're looking for is lamps and night tables. Anyone selling anything? :-)
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$25 moving boxes
I'm still in the throes of unpacking but I want to track my cash inflow before I forget.
Two days before the move we decided to sell our TV ($40) and just now I sold all my old moving boxes for $25 on Craig's List. The sale of the moving boxes was quite a score since they were all boxes I collected for free. I listed the entire "lot" plus packing paper for $25. Sure enough, someone who is moving this weekend and in dire need of boxes scooped them up.
I passed my dissertation defense yesterday morning. Phew!
The upcoming week is jam packed with making some dissertation revisions and packing. The movers come on Friday and I would LOVE to submit my dissertation to the Graduate School before I leave. You probably won't be hearing much from me in the next week, but when I return I hope I have some thoughts on keeping it frugal on the move! Any last minute tips are appreciated!
We're in the middle of a heat wave and I sold my air conditioner a few weeks ago. What's a frugal gal to do?
Close all the windows and doors and draw the blinds. I'm surprised by how many people don't know this trick! As the temperature starts to rise, you want to trap the cool air in your house and keep the heat from seeping in. I've actually had people come into my house during hot weather and assume I have central air conditioning because the house is so much cooler than the outdoors. I don't have central air, but I do have I have an indoor/outdoor thermometer. Once I see the temperature outside is cooler than inside (probably around 9pm) I'll open everything up to let the cool air in. For safety reasons, I sleep with everything closed, but when I'm up in the morning I'll open everything up again until the temperature in the house starts to rise.
Break out the Crock Pot. No cook meals like salads are a great idea when the weather is hot, but I'm moving in a week and trying to eat down my pantry and avoid going to the store. Crock Pots are great for hot weather because unlike your oven or stove top, they contain most of their heat. Furthermore, if you have a porch, garage or basement you can let the Crock Pot work it's magic outside the living quarters to further prevent additional heat in the house.
Last night I found this unique recipe for
Slow-cooker Chicken in Spicy Peanut sauce. I was thrilled because I could use 2 cans of tomatoes AND the remainder of my peanut butter plus the 2 chicken breasts that have been in the freezer for GodKnowsHowLong. I threw the ingredients in the Crock Pot and plugged it in in the basement before I went to work. When I got home, I put some rice in the rice cooker and plugged it in on the front porch. Before long, I had a hot meal and a cool house!
I'm with Mr. Bean weekend to celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, since I left my place on Thursday morning I wasn't able to find a rider to take with me since most riders want to go for a weekend trip. Oh well. This should be my last trip here before I move here for good.
To celebrate our actual anniversary (it was Thursday), we went out to a nice restaurant meal and had the before 7pm Prix Fixe option of 3 courses for $32. Appetizers were priced $9-11, entrees were $20-$24, and desserts were around $7, so the Prix Fixe was a good way to go.
All the Sex & the City afficionados know this is what Carrie says when she spies a pair of Manolo Blahniks in the window of an upscale boutique.
I had a similar reaction this weekend. Only I was in the Goodwill. And the shoes cost 2.50. But aren't they beautiful?
I went to the Goodwill to drop off some clothes, but I convinced myself to go inside. The Goodwill in my new town might not be as plentiful, right?
This find was especially fortuitous because I was in the market for a pair of shoes just like this. You know, for walking to school. Kidding. Here's the story-- In summer of 2006 I bought this dress on eBay:
It has served me very well. I've worn for at least 4-5 different weddings and am taking it on the wedding circuit again this summer. However, the shoes I wear with this dress have never done the dress justice. I told myself that if I saw a reasonable priced pair of strappy, gold shoes at a store this summer I should buy them as a reward for getting 3 seasons of weddings out of the dress. Yes, I know that's irrational.
I thought I would end up getting a good deal if I found a paid for under $30, so imagine my glee when I saw these FOR LESS THAN $3!
But the good fortune didn't end there! Oh no! Then I spotted these pointy toe leather Bandolinos for $5 (perfect for jeans or black pants),
and then these adorable brown leather Naturalizers for $3.25.
Total cost: $10.75
Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw.
I submitted my dissertation to my committee on Friday. I still need to get through the defense but this is a step in the right direction!
Thursday night I stayed on campus until about 8:30pm finishing up some last minute revisions. Walking home I was hungry and feeling celebratory, so I decided to stop at Five Guys for a burger. I had never been there before, but had heard that their burger and fries were among some the best in town. Plus, it fit the bill for what I wanted: tasty, cheap, indulgent, and quick.
I ordered a little cheeseburger and medium fries (medium and large are the only sizes available) without paying much attention to the price aside from noting that the "little" burgers (which were still pretty big) were at least a dollar less than the original burgers.
I was just cleaning out my wallet and entering expenses into Quicken this evening, I noticed that my cheese burger was $3.29 and the fries were $1.99. That seems like a lot for fries. I think it's one of those things where if you go to a burger joint it's almost sacrilege not to get fries.
I'm not that big of frugal nut that I'd skip the fries if I go there again since I eat fast food about 1x/ year. It's just interesting to note that they weren't that good and cost nearly 40% of the total bill. I wouldn't recommend eating this type of food regularly, if you do it's pretty easy to see how just making minor adjustments to your order could save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
I'm in love. With a woman. Her name is Pandora.
I think you'll fall in love with her, too.
Pandora is the culmination of project started in 2000 which assembles hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. To quote the Pandora site:
Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.
So what does this mean for you? Pandora allows you to create, for free, "stations" by defining musical elements you like, specific singers, bands, etc. There are no audio commercials, just free streaming music chosen specifically for the qualities you indicate. Furthermore, you can give individual songs a thumbs up or down to further guide Pandora to the types of music you like. Also, unlike radio, if you don't like a song you can just push a button and move onto the next.
Check it out! But beware, like a new relationship, you might find yourself wanting to spend all your free time with her!!
I was clicking through old entries and couldn't help but notice how how long it's been since I've posted any recipes!
As I've alluded, I'm getting ready to move and trying to eat up the foods in my pantry. This has led to some ho-hum meals like green bean casserole, but also to tonight's Afghani Lentil Casserole. The recipe calls for lentils, canned tomato sauce (although I used canned diced tomatoes tonight), lasagna noodles, an onion, plain yogurt, and spices. The ingredients are probably things you have in your kitchen, too. Unlike many recipes that utilize kitchen staples, this one is pretty original.
1 large onion -- chopped
1 cup green or brown lentils -- picked over and washed
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups tomato sauce (I used 1-14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander (I used fresh cilantro)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I used paprika)
9 lasagna noodles
3 cloves garlic -- chopped
2 cups fat-free yogurt
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon mint
Saute onions until golden. Stir in the lentils and add the vegetable stock.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add tomato sauce, salt, coriander, cumin, pepper and cayenne, simmer 30 minutes.
Cook noodles. Combine yogurt, flour and garlic, stir well. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan, put half yogurt on the bottom, layer with 1/2 noodles, 1/2 lentil sauce, repeat ending in lentil sauce. Sprinkle mint over top and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Adapted from :
"A cross between Syrian Rishtah from The Versatile Grain and the Elegant Bean: A Celebration of the World's Most Healthful Foods by Sheryl and Mel London
(See the little rose plant on the table? It was an impulse by at the grocery store for $2.99. Being frugal is great, but who can resist beauty?)
$3154.93 old total
$60.00 AC unit
My AC unit (priced at $75) didn't sell at the yard sale. The Craig's List ad elicited some calls and emails, but no one came to look. So, when a college kid offered me $60, I decided to accept the offer.
I'm nearly at last year's total for the $20 Challenge!
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$161.00 yard sale
Today's yard sale was a success!! I surpassed my expectations and made $161.00. That doesn't include the $60 I'll earn when I deliver my dehumidifier to a neighbor. I don't move for another month and I don't want to stop using my dehumidifier until then. I posted a sign at the sale saying "Dehumidifier Available: Inquire for Details"-- the "details" included the fact that I would take your name and number if you were interested and call you in a month. My neighbor expressed great interest, so I feel pretty confident (more so than I would with a stranger) that the deal will go through. In fact, he even offered to pay me now but I said I'd rather wait until delivery.
I'm surprised I sold over $150 worth of stuff because much like my last garage sale, I seemed to be selling a whole lot of nothing. My biggest sale was a set of shelves for $25, followed by my kitchen curtains for $10 and a hand held vacuum for $5, but after that it was all small ticket items. Truly all those $2-$3 sales (often comprised of a bunch of $0.25 and $0.50 items) add up!
Tip #1: Advertise
I placed two free online classifieds and four homemade, easy to read signs pointing car and foot traffic to my location.
Tip #2: Organize and Stage
It takes a little extra time, but items that look gently used sell a lot better than items that look like they fell off a garbage truck! For example, I had two small rugs in my basement that looked so dirty I nearly threw them out. However, after a few minutes of vacuuming with my powerful Hoover, they looked good enough to sell. I marked the rugs at $1 / each and they were promptly scooped up within the first hour. In their former state of filth, I would have been embarrassed to put them in the free pile! Be certain to price all your items. People are shy. It's been my experience that marked items sell better. Set the mood. I have a little wicker table that I positioned in the sunniest part of the yard where I displayed all my glassware and linens for sale. Even through the table itself wasn't for sale, it evoked a garden party image and (I think) created a vision for what people could use the items displayed on it for. I covered all the rest of my tables in inexpensive plastic yellow table cloths (leftover from a baby shower). Nothing fancy, but better looking than the icky folding table underneath. I also mowed the lawn the day before and swept the sidewalk and walk way. A clean yard signifies a home in which the items for sale were cared for.
Tip #3: No Holds Barred!
If you're having a sale because your moving, don't be afraid to sell everything! For example, I had a big package of styrofoam cups left over from when I brought a hot beverage to a charity walkathon. I have no use for them. Had I not been moving, I might have been tempted to stash them away "just in case", but there's no need for me to transport styrofoam cups across three state lines "just in case"!! Sure enough, the cups sold! Another example of an atypical yard sale item was my random assortment of holiday paper napkins and plates. I bundled them together and sure enough, they sold, too! These are just a few examples of things that could have been thrown out, but instead helped me to earn some cash.
Tip #4: List Big items on Craig's List
List your big items on Craig's List. With any luck, the items will sell before the sale. This didn't happen for me, but I had people contact me about 2 of my Craig's List items after 9pm on Friday night so I replied and said that it would be at my yard sale the following day. Both people showed up to purchase the item they wanted from Craig's List and picked up a few extras.
Tip #5: Have Fun! Make small talk, meet the people in your neighborhood, and enjoy the opportunity to make a little cash while parting with stuff you'll never miss!
Preparing for this upcoming Yard Sale is exhausting!
I put some of the bigger ticket items (air conditioner, microwave, glassware, curtains, etc) on Craig's List. I've had a number of emails, but only one sale: a bicycle for $125.
I don't know what my goal for the Yard Sale is-- I guess if I make $100 and get rid of stuff I'll be happy. Whatever doesn't sell on Saturday is going to Goodwill on Sunday!
$2868.93 old total
$125.00 sold bike
I've also been thinning out my pantry in preparation for the move. Tonight I had the Thanksgiving perennial 'Green Bean Casserole' for dinner so I could use up 2 bags of frozen green beans and a can of mushroom soup!! Not exactly a springtime dish, but hey- that's the beauty of cooking for one.. there's no one to complain!
$2818.93 old total
I went back to look at apartments this past weekend. Luckily, I was able to find another rider and earn $50 to cover the gas. On another good note, we did find a place to rent. The price is $1800 / month but it beautiful (no damp basements!). I think I will be happy there.
I've been in massive de-cluttering mode and plan to have a garage sale Saturday. I don't expect it will be a big money maker, but it encourages me to get rid of things I don't have the heart to throw away but don't seem appropriate for GoodWill (ie- used but perfectely re-useable baby shower decorations, books, etc).
Someone from a moving company is coming to give me an estimate on Tuesday. My re employer re-imburses up to 3K in moving expenses. I don't think I will have a problem staying under that limit.
Oh yea, and I'm defending my dissertation in month! THAT at least, seems to be under control!
$2765.93 old total
$3.00 PineCone surveys
I drove down to see Mr. Bean this weekend and to look for a new apartment for the two us in his area.
Oi Vey! Sticker shock!!
Would we like to live in a dark, damp basement for $1600/ month? No, not really! We saw about 15 places and put an application in for one. Unfortunately, I think there were other applications ahead of us so I'm not holding my breath.
On the upside, I was able to take someone with me and get $50 in gas money for the round trip ride. We also got a better understanding of what our money will and will not get us. If our application on the one place isn't successful, we're going to start looking into some condo units that aren't selling and are going up for rent. W
e looked at one and I must say that although the location was a little far from public transportation, the unit was beautiful!
From the Wall Street Journal:
Reality: Food prices are already rising here much faster than the returns you are likely to get from keeping your money in a bank or money-market fund. And there are very good reasons to believe prices on the shelves are about to start rising a lot faster.
Read the full article here.
$2009.93 old total
$6.00 PineCone surveys
I haven't been blogging but I've been busy making (and spending) money!
The $750 went to my Roth. I still have about $2300 to contribute for 2008.
I've been really busy finishing up that dang dissertation and haven't had much time for posting, but I couldn't resist linking to this column (also pasted below) from today's Washington Post.
What does this have to do with money? Well divorce is expensive and unhappiness is, too!
I'm sure we've all read numerous lists like this, but I think this particular list really hits the nail on the head.
My favorites are #3 and #9. Number 9 is particularly relevant for us this year since we are long-distance. We usually talk once in the afternoon and once in the evening. I'm usually busy in the afternoon and sometimes answer the phone gruff and exacerrated. That's something I need to change. Mr Bean likes #8 and #10? How about you?
Top 10 Tips for Marital Bliss
Marital bliss? Some days I'm happy (really happy) to settle for marital survival.
Here are the top 10 tips for keeping a marriage together, contributed by On Balance readers:
1. Be nice. This is stupidly simple, but it works. Even when you feel like hell, or have a beef with each other, or are tense or tired, make the effort to be kind and gentle with each other. Make the partnership a safe harbor where the other person wants to be. This means taking a breath, biting your tongue and going easy even when that's not exactly how you feel.
2. Before you get married, find common ground on your most important issues -- where you want to live, the role work plays in your family balance, how you will handle your finances, whether or not you want children (and if you are older, what lengths you will go to to have biological ones), the degree to which your extended family are involved in your lives, and what role religion will play in your lives and the lives of your children.
3. Whomever feels most passionately about a position wins that argument. It is rare that, upon candid reflection, you can't unanimously agree that one or the other simply cares more (or as is more likely the case, one cares less). You are going to have different opinions on many different subjects. Winning an argument doesn't mean the other loses. It just means one cared more about that particular issue.
4. Nurturing your marriage is more important than kids -- in part because staying together is so important for your kids. So, make time for each other. Have a regular date night without kids. Sex and affection and time alone together are a top priority. Make dates to cuddle up, let other things slide sometimes, do whatever you have to do. Just don't let it get pushed off the table by everything else that is "important."
5. Stay flexible, in every sense of the word. That means finding a compromise between his need to watch the game and your need get the house clean. It means finding ways to discipline the kids that both of you can live with. It means staying open minded to new ideas in bed. It means communicating, it means nothing is set in stone, other than your core values, which you should discuss and share before you ever get married.
6. Treat the logistics of raising a family and running a household like a small business. Once a week have a calendar meeting. Go over the schedule of the upcoming week or weeks, and talk through what you both and the kids have going on. Make lists about what has to happen to help the week go smoothly and who has which carpool, cooking responsibilities, etc.
7. Have a sense of humor -- some arguments can and should end in laughter.
8. Don't crowd too much into your lives. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.
9. When you get home at night, or when you honey calls in the middle of the day, stop, take a breath, smile, and say "Hello, sweetheart. How are you?" before launching into whatever daily business or complaints you have. Start every interchange on a basis of affection and kindness.
10. Accept that you can't change your spouse, especially by yelling or screaming or playing passive-aggressive. However, this doesn't mean letting small resentments simmer. Deal with them before they become big deals. If your spouse does anything that upsets you, talk about it. If he or she can understand why you are upset, and you can understand why your partner does what he/she does, both parties stand a chance of finding that happy medium.
Can't Grasp the Credit Crisis? Join the Club
Great article from the New York Times!
$1589.93 old total
I got paid $420 for the Spring break house / dog sitting stint. The money is in my checking account at the moment, but I'll contribute it to my Roth IRA by the end of the week.
I went back to the Beauty School yesterday and had my hair highlighted and cut for a grand total of $33 + tip.
I love it!
Hopefully I can find another beauty school to visit after I move.
$1549.93 old total
Another $40 from babysitting on Friday night. I'm house/pet sitting this week, so I'll have another large addition to add by the beginning of next week.
Other than that, nothing new on he money side to report!
$1509.93 old total
I made $40 babysitting last night.
I've also been working really hard this month to eat from my pantry and freezer. I should run the numbers and see if my grocery bill was any different this month.
I've also been making great use of my beloved Crock Pot:
Tonight's creation used up some bulgur I've had on the shelf for some time. I skipped the parsley because it would have required a trip to the store. I didn't precook anything and just tossed everything in and cooked on low all day. I also used homemade chicken broth made from a chicken carcass (mmmm, tasty) I had stored in the freezer. The end result of the bulgur pilaf was decent. Not something I LOVED, but good enough. The chicken broth, on the other hand, was great. I really like how the recipe has you puree the chicken meat and vegetables into the broth rather than just toss them. It gives the broth a richer flavor and adds more nutrients.
Did you get your free Suze Orman book on Valentine's Day?
If not, there's another chance for a freebie advertised on page 85 of the book:
Get started on Suze’s Save Yourself Plan by opening a new account with TD AMERITRADE, featuring a special high-yield deposit account with a 2.78% Annual Percentage Yield (as of February 1, 2008). Your cash is held in an FDIC-insured Money Market Deposit Account (MMDA) at TD Bank USA, N.A.
There are no maintenance fees on the account, plus you receive the $100 offer for making 12 monthly automatic deposits of at least $50 each to help you build up your account balance. […] Should you need to withdraw the money prior to the twelve-month commitment, you may withdraw all of your deposits, plus the interest earned. However, you will forfeit the $100 bonus.
I'm game! AMERITRADE's money-market interest rate isn't as good as others, but the $100 bonus makes up for it.
For more info, see A Message from Suze and Jonathan from MyMoneyBlog's post on this offer.
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