Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hump day

Wednesday is here--two more days until payday.

We always do pretty good on the budget until the last 4 days. Then it seems that little things nickle and dime away the bottom line. This check I am going to be really conscience of where every cent is going since a lot of big ticket bills come out of this one.

Eventually I want to get to the point we can actually set aside a full 10% of the paycheck without wincing. We set aside a large amount of each check for the mortgage, but I want to put aside money strictly for savings. It would be ideal if at least 20% went into saving each pay period, but we'll have to work up to that.

One of my favorite frugality websites is packed with great ideas on saving $. As with anything, you have to pick and chose what is right for you. For example, I REALLY don't like cloth diapers, so the cost of disposables was my personal choice. Although not green, it did make my life a lot easier when my boys were younger. Having twins, the time saved washing and cleaning diapers was an advantage to me. Everyone has to decide what is best for them and what works. However, I have found some really good gems and advice from this sight and highly recommend it.

One of the things our house has been doing more of is eating at home. When I worked outside the home, we ate entirely too much fast food. Both the budget and our waistline showed it. Since coming home, eating fast food is a rare occurrence. I am taking a cooking class at the Kansas City Culinary Center this June so I can learn some more techniques to add a little flair and fun to our home cooked menus. I learned to make tamales there one year. I am going to make some for the freezer in June. The boys may not eat them, but hubby and I will. One of the classes I am taking is a pate choux class. Pate Choux is the base for cream puff, eclairs and savory cheese puffs. I love eclairs but hate the price and preservatives, so I am going to just learn to make my own. You can make your own for pennies as opposed to buying them from a store. That is true with pretty much anything though. I have a recipe for pizza dough that is outrageously easy and save big bucks over ordering out. When you buy the mozzarella cheese at the warehouse store in 5 lb blocks, it save a lot of money. I just cut it into 1 pound portions and freeze these in separate freezer bags. I look for tomato paste and tomato sauce when it goes on sale, then I stock up. The same goes with olives, canned mushrooms and anything else that stores long term in the pantry. We buy pepperoni at the warehouse store and divide it up into portions to freeze also. I am going to unearth my freezer cookbooks in the coming months and start cooking individual meals from them so we can get an idea of which recipes the kids will eat. When we find "keepers", we will write them down. Once we amass a small collection, I will have a cooking weekend that will allow me to cook and freeze several entrees at one time. When we are having a time crunch, we can pull out a freezer meal. There are several really good freezer cookbooks available. Look online at Amazon for new or used copies (search under the term "freezer" etc). One excellent book is 30 Day Gourmet. They also have a website and a database of recipes available to those that buy the cookbook. It is worth every penny.

I will probably have to get our garden beds built out of this check since the seeds I've started in the flats are getting to the point they will need to be planted. I need to look at investing in a rototiller at some point since we will be using it quite a bit each year. I fully intend to grow most of the veggies we will use this summer and can or preserve what we have not used. I love making salsa and tomato sauces, so we will have a large tomato garden this year. I am looking for one of those rolling composters since it seems they are easier than having to turn piles by hand. We have been doing a little composting, but I think we can do a lot more. Especially in the Fall when the leaves are totting. Leaves make awesome compost!

I can't believe the price of gas! And it seems that it will only be going up!

I guess Americans are spoiled when it comes to the freedom of just jumping in their cars and going where they please. In most European/Asian countries, bike and cycles are pretty much part of the culture. The transportation system in the US is geared towards autos and are very unfriendly towards cycles and bikes. The upsurge in gas prices will hurt initially, but hopefully result in more bike friendly options for those of us who would like to use Vespa and bikes more. I want to look around for a used one so I can do my local errands. Realistically I don't have a huge amount of local errands though. Most of what I do is in Wichita, so a car is a necessity. There is no really good public transportation system like in bigger cities, so we are pretty dependent on our vehicles. What I have been doing is bundling errands, using the mail and Internet for purchases - especially when they offer free shipping. I will still buy locally from locally owned businesses, but shun big retailers for things I can do without.

All this being said, I think the economy is very much a cyclical beast. In the 70's things got outrageously tight and then let up in the 80's. It was frugality then rampant consumerism. We are in the frugality phase. The same thing happened in the 20's and then the 30's. Rampant consumerism of the 20's gave way to the great depression and making do with what you had. It all cyclical. Either that or we don't learn from history and are doomed to repeat over and over again.

On the budgeting flip side, I have decided I am going to save my pennies for a used laptop. I don't need a brand new one with all the bells and whistles, just one that I can carry with me to workshops and whenever I am in need to the Internet away from the house. I am looking for a relatively compact one, so I may have to pay the bucks for a new model--maybe I can look around and get a good deal on a "last year's model". I have put it on paper, so now I just have to work on making the changes to manifest it.

This day is going to end up being a messed up schedule day. Hubby's employer has arrange for employees to go to a restaurant for a pizza buffet and then to see Indian Jones afterwards. This is good since I can't say I would have paid to see this movie at full price. I like to wait for movies to either hit the discount theatres or to go to video. One of the boys just told me he is scheduled to umpire during that time period. He is going to ride his bike, but I hate being away from the house when the kids are out. With the recent rains, it is a distinct possibility the game will get cancelled, but he'll have to ride there to find out...

I did order wire to make stitch markers and beaded bracelets today. I was holding off for some time, but the reality is that if I don't have the wire, I won't be able to make the stitch markers that will hopefully sell at the yarn shop. I have plenty of beads so I'm covered there. When the wire gets here, I will make time to make half a dozen stitch marker sets and their tags. The goal is to actually get these done.

spending today:

$52.00 wire
$ 10.00 Amazon (I need to work on staying off!)

Ok--upstairs to make a tunnel of fudge cake. I found a Pillsbury Bakeoff recipe book at a thrift store with this updated recipe in it. The old recipe used powdered frosting that is no longer made. This updated recipe does without it. It does require nuts and states it is vital to the success of the recipe. My kids claim they don't like nuts. We'll have to see.

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