Monday, March 11, 2019

How Prepping Helps With Worry and Anxiety (A Personal Story)


A fair amount of preparedness sites focus on the how-tos and the reasons you should prepare and rightfully so. They actually help you to know what to do and how to do it. In fact, there are a lot of posts on this site doing the same thing. We just want the world to be prepared and to get the message out to everyone.

One of the facets of prepping I am keen on is the psychological and, to an extent, philosophical reasons people need to prepare. Most people need something to happen or just about to happen in order to be convinced to prepare. However, some people just need to be convinced to prepare. Some people know they should and don't how to start or why they should start prepping.

The "why" of prepping really gets me. Sometimes I am baffled about why people do not prepare. It is such an easy thing to do and get started doing. Prepping isn't hard. Why don't people prepare?

Then I remember. I remember what drove me to preparedness. I remember stumbling into prepping and food storage blogs written by Gaye Levy and Linda Loosli and thinking I had hit on something that could really help me. 

When I first started to prepare, I did it out of worry and anxiety. I was afraid of a lot of things. I had already been at a point twice where I didn't have enough food in the house to feed my kids (by the grace of others, they were fed). I was a single mom of four kids under 12 after I got divorced. I lived on an acreage by myself. I was anxious about the power going out for extended periods of time and random strangers coming to the door. I would worry about a lot of things that were actually out of my control.

The anxiety, fear, and worry wore me out and kept me awake at night. I never showed that side of me to a lot of people. Hardly no one knew because I knew I needed to be strong for my kids. I am also incredibly stubborn and I would be in dire straits before I would let anyone know I needed help.

When I first learned about stockpiling and food storage, I quickly understood this was a way to calm my fears about having enough food in the house and feeding my ever-growing kids. I took to it like my life depended on it. It calmed me in a way that was unexplainable at the time. I finally had some peace of mind knowing that I would not have to worry about feeding my kids if we couldn't afford groceries for a week or longer.

Oh, I got ridiculed for doing it. People would joke about getting groceries at my house when they saw the food storage (not many people did). A few people were more than confused by my stockpiling. I would cover it up a little bit by saying I like to shop in bulk due to my growing kids. I also started getting teased about my food storage because I went farther than that. Food storage was my gateway drug for the rest of my prepping.

I just felt better being prepared! I didn't need to be worried and anxious because I was prepared.

Fast forward ten years (and longer), I still feel better being prepared. Being self-sufficient gives me a sense of pride and calm. I have accomplished more things than I thought possible. I started gardening successfully after many trials and errors. I started raising laying hens for eggs. I started this blog!

Do I still have times of worry and anxiety? Yes, but I also have kids who are young adults and teenagers (that is a whole different kind of worry!). Our current social and economic atmosphere doesn't make me feel better. I worry about paying the bills and keeping up in life. However, there is a lot of things I know I don't need to worry about. I have taken care of them by constantly preparing for now and the future.

My life has changed so much in the last ten years. However, prepping has been a constant. I find that it spills into other areas of my life too. I rarely leave home without everything I need just in case I am stranded or an emergency happens. I usually know what is going to happen most days (but I am still impulsive and leave a lot of room for adventure!). I shop with an eye towards stocking up and adding to my preps.

Prepping has vastly improved my life and, in a way, my mental health. I find now if I worry about something or become anxious over a situation, I have the power to take action and solve the problem in a way that is constructive. I know I can survive a lot of what is thrown my direction. There will always be circumstances beyond our control. However, we can control how we respond to them and be prepared for everything else.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
Is Procrastination A Prepper's Biggest Enemy? Here Is What You Can Do About It!
Can You Really Live Without Money? 



Monday, February 25, 2019

What Should A Prepper Do With That Tax Refund? 25 Ideas For Spending Your Tax Refund Like A Prepper


Ah, the great tax refund. Not really seen outside of America, but a welcome bonus all the same. If you get one, what do you do with it?

I know, I know. If you do your taxes right, you wouldn't get a refund. Yeah, but the government gives credits for kids and putting money away in a 401K. That is 90% of my tax refund. If you do get one and you don't have kids, you should probably examine the reasons why.

Anyway, being a prepper, this little bonus is a welcome sight for knocking out some big prepping goals. What are your prepping goals? Only you know and you should know the priority of what you need to purchase. However, I can give you plenty of ideas in case you need direction!

25 Ideas For Spending Your Tax Refund Like A Prepper

1. Get caught up on your bills. Except for basic preparedness (food, water, shelter, security), nothing is quite as important as financial preparedness. You don't need the stress of bills on top of everything else. Get caught up on your bills.

2. Get out of debt. This is the same as #1 except that when you get out of debt, you have more money for savings and prepping!

3. Pay ahead on future expenses. This is also a great thing to do for financial preparedness. In case you lose your job or have unexpected changes to your financial status, you will have some of your future bills paid already. That would be a nice weight off your shoulders.

4. Make necessary repairs to your home. Keeping our shelter in good repair is critical in preparedness. You need to fix what needs to be fixed and to maintain what needs maintenance. If you have windows that need replacing, now is a good time to do it. If you need to replace a door, a good time also. If you need to replace some shingles, now is better than in a storm.

5. Perform necessary maintenance to your vehicles. Your vehicles can be the difference between life and death. You could be driving away from a natural disaster or stuck on the side of the road. Taking care of your vehicles should be a top priority.

6. Buy the generator. Whether you decide to buy a portable generator or a whole-house generator, they are nice to have as a back-up when the power goes out.

7. Starting converting to solar power. You can start by buying one panel, one inverter, and a few batteries for storage. This will help reduce your electricity bill as well as give you options when the power goes out. You can also purchase some portable solar chargers and panels for the smaller items in your home.

8. Put in a wood stove. While some municipalities and insurance companies are not down with wood stoves, the ability to heat your home and cook your food with a wood stove is wonderful. Once you make the initial investment and get it installed, you will save money and gain peace of mind with having a wood stove for primary or secondary heat.

9. Put together your emergency fund and cash stashes. This is also very important to have. You should have at least $1000 in your emergency fund to cover any contingencies. You should have emergency cash stashes in small bills and coins just in case you cannot access cash or cannot use your debit card.

10. Double your water storage. If you have an electric well pump or rely on a city/rural water tower, you need to have your water storage. There are many ways to increase your water storage including putting in a hand pump for your well, putting up a rain catchment system, buying 55-gallon food safe barrels for water storage, or just buying bottles and gallon jugs of water.

11. Double your food storage. Food will always be a necessity. You should diversify your food storage so if you have your eye on the long-term freeze dried food storage, now is a great time to purchase.

12. Up your home and personal security. This can be purchasing a weapon, adding a deadbolt to your front door, and more. Think about your personal and home security and what you need. Then remember to think about it in layers. One year, we added a bunch of outdoor lighting and motion sensing lights. It makes a huge difference to our property and makes it harder for people to hide.

13. Take a class or attend a conference that will help improve your skills and knowledge. Skills and knowledge are everything in preparedness. You need to have them and taking a class is sometimes the best way to learn. It also can be a great way to meet same minded people!

14. Purchase the materials to start growing your own food. If you want to put in a garden, that can take an investment. Whether you decide to put in raised beds, dig in the existing ground, or use containers, you will need supplies to start gardening. You may need to purchase soil and soil amendments. You will certainly need tools. This might be the year to purchase a tiller. You will always need plants and seeds.

15. Do you need to remodel? Some people like to remodel and some people need to remodel. Think about if you need to hunker down inside the house for days. What about your home needs to change? Do you need more room? Do you need a better set-up in the kitchen? Are the stairs going to take out someone in a hurry? There is more to think about, but this is your home and it needs to be able to take care of you too. Spend the money to take care of the trouble areas.

16. Put in an outdoor kitchen. If you don't have power, you need a place to cook. If you can't have or afford a wood stove, you need different options. With a protected outdoor kitchen, you can set up a grill, propane burners, an outdoor wood burner, a fire pit, a brick oven, a sink or outdoor water faucets, and more so you have a place to cook. You can also use this for canning and entertaining too.

17. Buy books for your reference library and your personal knowledge. Books are so important. If you don't have access to the internet, you will be going back to the old days of having a library. Start with whatever you are interested in as well as nice well-rounded books.

18. Save the money for a down payment or to purchase a different property. Let's face it. Some places are just not safe to live. Imagine a crisis or a natural disaster. How much worse will that area become? Some people need a bug-out shelter or just to find a different place to live altogether. Save the money to make that happen.

19. Spend the money on your health. Your health is one of the most preps you can take care of. However, some health problems are not cured with good food and walking. You may need a procedure or surgery to fix what is wrong. Now would be a good time to get that taken care of.

20. Purchase camping equipment and actually use it. I don't normally advocate this, but you do need to know how to survive away from home. Knowing how to use a tent, start a fire, cook outside and more is crucial. These skills are being lost. Camping may seem like a hassle or just a lot of trouble, but you and your family need to know these survival skills.

21. Purchase a different vehicle. This may seem like it is not a prep, but your vehicle is important. Having a reliable vehicle is important for evacuations, bugging out, and daily life. If you can, find a vehicle that can handle your family, the stuff you would need to bug-out with, and all sorts of weather conditions.

22. Work on your first-aid kit and supplies. Most of us have a basic first-aid kit. However, there is always more you want to add to it that may seem like it is out of your price range or not as important as other things. Now would be a good time to get that birth kit, surgery kit, and more to add to your first aid supplies.

23. Do you have haz-mat personal protection equipment and gas masks? You never know when you will need these. You may just need to work with some hazardous materials or chemicals that could scar your lungs or burn your skin. You may need them for a pandemic. Either way, having suits and masks for everyone in the house is very important.

24. Buy yourself a good pair of shoes that you love to wear. Seriously. Footwear is somewhat ignored in the prepping world, but good footwear makes a huge difference. Your legs will not hurt. You can be on your feet longer. You can walk longer. In addition to great footwear (I'm a diehard Keens fan), buy good comfy socks too. Socks make a big difference too!

25. What else do you need to purchase? What do you have coming up that you need extra money for? I always have a list of things I should be purchasing or needs to be replaced. I can also look at the calendar and see some future needs coming up (like a kid going to college). Every prepper is different and we all have some different needs due to where we are in life. Just make sure you are prepped for it!

This also goes for bonuses you get at work and more! Put your extra money to use instead of wasting it on unnecessary items or shopping trips. While I don't think a vacation is out of order for most people, make sure your priorities are straight and you are taken care of first before you see the world.

What are you spending your tax refund on?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
Tax Refund Prepping: Time To Do A MAJOR Food Stock-Up
Now Is The Time To Slay The Debt Monster!


Friday, February 22, 2019

Now Is The Time To Slay The Debt Monster!


Unfortunately, debt has become highly encouraged in this country. You can borrow money for a home, a personal recreation vehicle, a vehicle, land and more. You can just put it on a credit card if you have the money for it now or want to wait to pay for it. For most people, credit and loans are easily accessible and can be had for a price.

This leads to problems. Nevermind all the stress that being in debt can cause a person, it is causing economic problems within our own country. Younger generations do not want to purchase homes because they don't want to be in debt. Some of them are in debt to their eyeballs because of student loans and a defunct college degree.

While this is happening to the younger adult generations, the middle/older generations are still paying for their homes, maybe still paying student loans, trying to put their own kids through college, and have a lot of other debt too. Many people think that being in debt and paying on a loan is just part of life.

This is crazy!

This debt monster will be a sure downfall to one of the greatest economies in the world. As a country, we are trillions of dollars in debt and they do very little to stop the flow. So, as a citizen, you will find very little help there unless you want to become completely dependent on the system.

So what is a person to do?

Make every attempt to become debt free and stay that way. This is one of my biggest goals this year. Honestly, it should be everyone's goals. Once upon a time, a hundred years ago and longer, being in debt was a shameful thing. People were proud of their savings and owning a home outright. They didn't want to be in debt. They would only purchase what they could afford and easily purchase or produce.

Being in debt can produce a lot of stress and a fair amount of anxiety for the debtor. Usually, when someone is in a lot of debt, one wrong thing can happen, and then they will be in trouble with collections. It can cause a person to lose their home, their vehicle, and more. In some cases, the debt load can be bad enough to declare bankruptcy.

Being debt free means you have options. I do not have a lot of debt, but I don't want to be making regular payments every month when I can be putting that money to better use. I have other goals on my list that require me to save up some money for those purchases. I am also sick and tired of making minimum payments on student loans when they could be gone with some effort in a year or two.

So, what do you have to do in order to become debt free?


1. Make a list of all your debts. This means a list of all the debts you are currently paying or should be paying on. All of them. Even the small ones that you don't think you should list. Write down the current amounts that you currently owe on them.

This can be a hard reality check. You don't think something is as bad as it is until you see it on paper. The only thing I would add to the reality check is to put your mortgage in another category as well as your student loans. The mortgage payment should be the last debt you tackle. The student loan should be the second to last because it usually has a pretty reasonable interest rate.

2. Make a budget. You might already have a loose one, but this is where you need to look at the rest of your bills and make a plan. You probably have some areas you can cut down on to make a little more money for payments. You need to figure out how to get out of debt and only your budget can give you the plan to do so.

3. Throw extra money at this debt. Your tax refunds, your bonuses, and your profit sharing all need to go towards your debt. You might think it should go towards something fun like a trip or new stuff for you, but that should not be the case unless it is something you really need. You want to get out of debt and this is a quicker way of making that happen.

4. Earn some extra money to pay off the debt. You can do this in a variety of ways like getting a part-time job, finding some work at home jobs, selling off things you don't need, freelance or contract extra work, and more. Take the extra money from this extra work and pay down the debt.

5. Only start paying off your student loan and mortgage after the extra debt is paid off. This may seem a little weird considering these are probably your two biggest debts, but they are usually the debts with the best interest rates too. The student loan is generally an easy loan to pay back so I put this one second to last unless you have unsubsidized student loans. Those loans keep accruing interest which means they need to be paid off sooner than your subsidized loans.

Since mortgage loans are generally for a fixed amount of time and can be refinanced, I would save this loan for last. If you can refinance this loan for a lower rate and can afford the closing costs, I would do that. Then pay it off as soon as you can. Some mortgages might have penalties for paying off too soon or early so you will need to look into that also. The penalty might be worth it though if it is less than the interest you would have paid.

Being out of debt is a great feeling. You aren't being harassed by your bills anymore. You can find better things to stress out over. If the economy takes a downturn, you won't have to be worried about how to pay your bills or having companies want their money now. If you lose your job, not having those bills will be one less thing to keep you awake at night.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
25 Crazy Simple and Easy Ways To Save Money
Is It Time for a Financial Reset? 15 Tips For You To Reset Your Finances



Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Is Procrastination A Prepper's Biggest Enemy? Here Is What You Can Do About It!


Procrastination is basically the act of putting off doing things when they could be done now.

I used to be a top notch procrastinator until I realized it was a huge deterrent in my life. It was starting to cause a lot of problems. I believed that if I wasn't getting things done, there must be a reason the universe didn't want them done and who was I to challenge that? However, then there was the fact that I was a busy mom who was trying to plan to get far more done in a day than I had time.

I also had to deal with the concept of laziness and it actually means to me. I wasn't really lazy, but I was (and still am) easily distracted and I let things like my phone and the television distract me. We wonder how people got so much done in the 'olden' days? They didn't have little boxes they could hold in their hands with a myriad of entertainment options to distract them.

When you become a prepper, you realize you need to become proactive. The very core of prepping is the concept of being proactive - anticipating and preparing for what could happen before it happens. When you are a procrastinator, you are naturally going against the grain of prepping.

Now we all have things going on in our lives that keep us busier than we like. We have plenty of worthy and unworthy distractions to divert us from doing what needs to be done now. We all have plenty of reasons and excuses for why we don't do what we need to do. However, those very things can really be our biggest enemy when it comes to prepping.

How do we fight against this? How do we stop procrastination in its tracks?

1. Put away the phone. Your phone can be a very useful tool for reaching out to people, taking pictures, and locating needed information quickly. However, you need to remind yourself it is a tool. Most people use them as a form of entertainment and a distraction. You should make a concentrated effort to put the phone down and use that time to learn new skills, read a book, and work on a project.

The same goes for the computer. Unless your job depends on the computer, you should limit your time on the computer. Some people set a timer for 30-60 minutes and then walk away from the computer for the rest of the day unless they need to do research.

There is nothing wrong with using your phone and computer for a little downtime, but you know they are time-suckers and should be limited to a certain amount of time.

2. Set some daily/weekly/monthly routines and stick to them. Every day, you should have certain things you are doing to be prepared. As simple as it sounds, having a routine that works for you takes time to figure out. However, you should be doing the simple things to be prepared. By doing these things on a consistent basis means you are not going to be worried about what isn't done.

Washing the dishes every day, making sure laundry is caught up, keeping the car clean, the driveway cleared out, the floors cleared, and more makes certain you are prepared for tomorrow. If you have to leave quickly, the clean car and driveway mean you are prepared to leave at a moment's notice and/or evacuate. Having the dishes washed and laundry done means you are not faced with a pile of laundry/dishes when you have no water.

3. Write out a to-do list every day and get done what you can. Having a to-do list saves me! I don't make the list complicated and often it includes things I don't want to forget like picking up more cat food. As a prepper though, you can include a lot of things on your to-do list. I like to keep mine short and simple. I usually only have six things written on my to-do list. When I get those six things done, I might make another list just depending on the time of day and what is going on that day. You can completely customize this for yourself.

4. Keep a journal of what you do every day. This is something I started a couple of months ago and already it is making a difference. I keep track of what has happened on that day and anything I want to remember that I accomplished. I can see what happened when and if I am on track for my goals for the week/month/year. Often I know I need to be working harder and smarter. By having a journal, I can keep track and plan accordingly.

5. Remember that every day is a new day. We are all capable of beating ourselves up for not doing what we could the day before. However, that is not productive and will not help us in any way. Wake up in the morning asking yourself what you can do today and plan accordingly. If yesterday is still bothering you, tackle what you were going to do yesterday and move on.

6. Keep a positive outlook and always be moving forward. Similar to #5, prepping is a positive thing. You are looking towards the future and trying to be prepared for it. That required a positive outlook. Everything you do today will only help you tomorrow so always be moving forward. Worrying about "what ifs" and "what can happen" can be used as a positive motivation in your prepping as long as you do not let the fear paralyze you.

What do you do to combat procrastination?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
Daily Habits, Routines, and Prepping: Why Do They Go Together?
Ten Prepping Habits You Should Be Working On! 


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Can You Really Live Without Money?


If there is something that the frugal tightwad and prepper in me love, it is stories about living without money. Stories, books, and videos about living without money keep me fascinated. I wonder how they do it. I wonder what they did in life that led to the decision to live without money. I also wonder what they did earlier in life that they could live without money now. I also wonder what circumstances brought about the decision to live without money.

Because...I don't think it is truly possible to live without money.

Call me a skeptic. Almost all people could not live without a little money. There are always rent and/or bills to pay no matter where you live. While you can grow a lot of food, you still need to go to the grocery store for a few essentials. Most things you need to function in a household need to be purchased or procured somehow.

Even those people who live with only the items they can carry had an initial purchase of the backpack and those items. Most items usually have to purchased somehow. Even though a lot of people barter and trade for things and claim they don't use the money, they don't realize that bartering and trading is a form of currency - just not actual money.

One of the things I notice in a lot of these stories of living with no money is that people are usually taking advantage of other people's kindness and their willingness to either donate goods to or spend the money on that person. The person themselves may not be using any money and technically living without money, however, other people are spending their money on that person somehow.

Many preppers have this idea that if and when WROL (without rule of law) happens, money as we know it will mean nothing. You will need gold and silver to pay for items or otherwise you will need to sharpen your bartering and trading skills. However, you will notice that some form of currency will still be needed or used in their line of thinking. While I don't disagree with them, without a standard unit of measurable value, gold and silver will not mean much either unless a value is attached to it. Without rule of law, who will attach a value to it? There is great potential for inflation in this problem which will cause people to live without as much as possible in order to not use any form of currency.

Many preppers also have this idea that they can run to the woods, live off-grid, live off the land, and not need money at all. They also have an unrealistic view of how hard it is to survive like this. They claim that people did this hundreds of years ago and it can be done today. I would argue this. First of all, read your history. Many people who did live in the wild still traveled to the trading posts and local towns to do trading and purchase goods they needed to survive. Otherwise, traders and traveling salesmen stopped at their homes at least once a year to replace or purchase items needed.

Very few people could make all the items they needed to survive. Items like clothing would need to be replaced which meant purchasing fabric and sewing items. They more than likely traded furs, produce, and crops for these items. However, some form of currency was happening.

Second of all, most preppers do not have all the skills and physical stamina needed to live a life like that. The pioneers were a tough group of people who learned quickly to make do, make it themselves, or live without if it wasn't a necessity. We have gotten used to purchasing the items we need and do not know how to make a log cabin without using nails. Even in the 1800s, windows for cabins were purchased or traded for. Again, some form of currency was used. They did not live without money.

So, as it stands, almost all people today cannot live without some form of currency. However, as much as I think we cannot live without it, I certainly think we can live with much less money than we do now. There are quite a few people in the world who make do for themselves - growing their own food, saving seeds for next year, sewing their own clothes, mending their things, and generally being self-reliant. They live and practice skills so they do not need as much money to live like the standard person.

Some people are forced to live without a lot of money. They earn just enough to survive and that is it. Some people have more than they need. However, being wasteful with money can cause hard times in the future when they may not be earning it but still need it. As preppers, we want to purchase and procure all the things we may need in a crisis, but we need to be weary of what that crisis may be. We may need to put money away and live simply now in order to survive the crisis later.

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments. While I don't believe someone can truly live without money, you all might have some insight into this.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related posts:
25 Crazy Simple and Easy Ways To Save Money
You Have Lessons to Learn From Those That Survive The Great Depression


Friday, January 18, 2019

16 Ways To Not Waste Food (and Use Up The Leftovers)


One of the biggest problems facing the world today is food. Particularly how much food is wasted when there are so many people who would be happy to eat it. Grocery stores throw out perfectly good food every day and lock it into dumpsters. Restaurants scape tons of food into the trash every day because people do not finish their meals and don't wish to take it home.

In other words, food waste is a real problem! The problem isn't limited to just businesses. The problem also happens in the home more than we care to think about. We waste a lot of food in our homes without a thought to our hard earned money to purchase/grow the food and the hours we put into the food.

This really needs to stop! Fortunately, I have some things you can do to combat food waste in your home. Unfortunately, I have learned some of these things the hard way and have done my fair share of not caring as much as I should about our food. I don't want you to make the same mistakes!

16 Ways To Not Waste Food (and Use Up The Leftovers)

1. Have some leftover raw vegetables from a veggie tray? Saute them in butter or oil to soften. You can then add them to omelets, frittatas, soups, stews, and casseroles. You can also roast them in the oven for a delicious meal or side dish.

2. Having trouble with eating up leftovers before they go to waste? Make a list on your fridge of what needs to be used up. Plan meals and snacks around the leftovers. I know a lot of people who keep a whiteboard on the side of their fridge just for this reason.

3. Freeze your leftovers. A lot of food can be frozen and will taste fine when reheated. I love to do this cooked meat especially because it makes a quick addition to casseroles. You can also do this with chili for a quick lunch for work or home.

4. Can your leftovers. Yes, you can preserve your leftovers by canning them. This works especially well with soups, stews, and chili.

5. Dehydrate your leftovers. You would be amazed at what you can dehydrate and store.

6. Leftover fruit and fruit salad can be frozen, used in desserts, topping on ice cream, or in smoothies. You can make leftover fruit into jam or jellies and can it.

7. Repurpose your leftovers. Of course, you will be bored eating the same food day in and day out while trying to use up those leftovers. You can turn them into another meal. Have leftover chicken and rice? Turn it into a casserole with vegetables, cheese, and cream soup.

8. Stick to portion sizes. If you have people in your life or you yourself are opposed to leftovers, you will want to stick to portion sizes so you do not have any extra food leftover. You will want to make exactly the amount of food you need to eat for a meal and not any more than that.

9. If you have small children eating, you can certainly have a lot of food go to waste! There are a few tricks you can use to keep food from going to waste:
  • Use small plates and bowls for young children. I especially like the ones that grip the table or high chair tray. 
  • Just give them small amounts of food at a time and only one food at a time if needed. We often like to think they can eat more than they really can, but often we give too much at a time. Just give them a little bit and when they finish that, give them more.
  • If they do not finish their meal, put it in the fridge and warm it up for the next day. Teach them early to like leftovers.
  • A lot of kids go through stages of picky eating or only wanting to eat one thing. Indulge them a little bit and serve that. You should encourage other foods, but do not waste a lot of food when they will not eat it.
10. If you like to shop in bulk, learn to store food properly. One of the biggest problems I see (and used to have) was that food would go to waste when purchased in bulk. While I encourage bulk shopping, you should have a plan to break down the bulk packages into more user-friendly packages.
  • You can freeze bulk boneless, skinless chicken breasts in portion sizes appropriate for yourself or your family. You can also do simple freezer meals with them such as freezing them in marinade or sauce. 
  • You can take a bulk bag of oats, beans, flour, sugar, and other grains/legumes/baking supplies and break them down into smaller packages. You can use canning or storage jars for grains and legumes. You can store flour and other baking items into resealable bags and freeze them for a day or two. Then you can seal them in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers to keep them fresh.
  • Bulk produce can be frozen and used in smoothies. You can also preserve bulk fruit as jam, sauce, or as is. 
11. Do you have food in your pantry that appears to be expired or needs to be used before you forget about it again? I feel your pain. By them you remember it again, you are not sure it is still good or you find out the bugs have gotten into it (good-bye cornmeal...). Been there, done that. I like to pull those foods out of my pantry and set them on the counter where I will see them. Then I make them part of the meals for the week to use it up. I have also seen where people use a basket for anything they want to use up quickly and will pull from that basket first.

12. Once a year, do a freezer clean out. Figure out what you need to use up in the freezer and make it part of your meals for the week or the month. Do you have some freezer meals that have been in there for a year? Do you have meat that has spent more time in your freezer than alive? Make a concentrated effort to eat these things up that week or that month. I usually spread my freezer clean out over a month.

13. Inventory your freezers and pantries. One of the reasons food goes to waste is because we simply have lost track of what we have on hand. Since I am a hardcore believer in food storage, this can really be the enemy of your food storage. Inventory your pantry, food storage, and freezers to have a better idea of what you have on hand and what you should be using.

14. Compost what cannot be eaten. Whether you have peels, tea leaves, coffee grounds, and more, you should really try to compost these items. Some cities are now setting up compost stations you can take your food scraps too as well as your yard waste in return for some free compost. Otherwise, you can search online for a great way to start your own compost pile or purchase a compost barrel.

15. Make your own broth and stocks from leftover bones and vegetable scraps. You can make delicious stocks and broths from many different poultry bones and vegetable scraps. You can cook them together or separate for chicken broth or vegetable broth. You can then freeze or can the broth for later use. (If you have chickens, you can feed the scraps from the broth to them!)

16. If you are constantly finding yourself making too much food and not using the leftovers up as quickly as you want, invite friends over for supper to help you eat those bigger meals. Otherwise, find a family who needs a meal and bring them one (Nice to do when there is a new baby or a death in the family. Or when the family is just in a busy season of life). You can also take a meal to an elderly person who may have trouble getting a good meal together for themselves. 

What tips or suggestions do you have for using up leftovers and not wasting food? I would love to read your tips and suggestions in the comments!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

25 Crazy Simple and Easy Ways To Save Money


This is a new year and you need some money motivation. I totally get it. If Christmas didn't scare you into complete money saving mode, your daily finances might have. However, maybe you just need some new ideas or a reminder of some good old ones.

This has some easy ideas and some crazy simple ideas to save money. Some of these might seem like they are not so simple, but they really are. 

25 Crazy Simple and Easy Ways To Save Money

1. Simply don't spend it. We are always buying things we "think" we might need, but truly don't. If money is that tight, don't spend it. Start a spending freeze.

2. Have some change in your pocket? Throw it in a can or a piggy bank to save towards Christmas or a rainy day. You can do the same with your one and five dollar bills. Tuck them into a drawer or a box to save for a special day.

3. Look for the discounted produce at the grocery store or your favorite mass merchandiser. The produce is usually still good for another week or so. You can take it home and use it right away, freeze it, dehydrate it, or can it to use later. You can save a lot of money this way!

4. Buy greeting cards at a dollar store. If you are spending more than a dollar on a card, you spent too much!

5. Didn't like that shampoo? Use it as a body wash. You can do the same with face wash too.

6. Conditioner not working for you? Use it for shaving or as an in-shower lotion.

7. Lost a sock? Use the other sock for a dusting cloth or a washcloth. Just slide on your hand and go!

8. Use handkerchiefs instead of facial tissues. You can use the ones you have in the bottom of your sock or underwear drawer, buy some (the small investment is worth it), or just use cut up old shirts with or without the edges hemmed. The money you save will be worth it and you can just wash them and reuse them constantly. You can also replace napkins this way too.

9. Reuse, reuse, reuse. Even if an item seems disposable, find a way to reuse it. Sometimes you might spend a little more on reusable items, but the cost, in the long run, is much cheaper.

10. Carry your drinks and food with you - for work, play, ball games, and car rides - to save a lot of money. It takes very little time to fill up the water bottles, pack a few drink packets, granola bars, and apples to have in the vehicle with you for your family's and your hunger attacks.

11. Stop eating out. That right there will save you a load of money. If you really like the steak at a certain place, learn to make yourself. Brown bag your lunches for work and get to know your fellow employees (or read a book).

12. Cook from scratch. You may hear this one all the time, but seriously it is a budget saver. I can make a loaf of bread (or two) and a pan of granola bars for less than a decent loaf of bread at the store. Plus, I know what is in both of those things and can pronounce all the ingredients. Bonus.

13. Simply say no to yourself (and to your kids and significant other). That word "no" will be the easiest way to save money. Most of the requests you get from them are extras and not necessities so saying no should be easy. However, don't be a jerk and say no all the time. Sometimes their requests are justified. And no, you don't need that candy bar either. Put it back.

14. Use up your products until the last drop. Add a little water to the soap to get the last bits out. If the pump on the soap doesn't pump anymore, take the pump out and dump it out that way. Cut the container open to get to the product on the bottom. Open up the tube to get the last of the good stuff out. Use it all up!

15. Stop buying the already cut-up produce at the store and cut up your own. The mark-ups on that stuff are crazy expensive! Buy the whole pepper or watermelon and do your own labor.

16. Turn the thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. Sure we want to be comfortable, but our pocketbooks say we need to be a little conservative. Put on another layer in the winter. Do things to keep you cooler in the summer. Save money.

17. Stay out of the money traps. Do you have some favorite stores that you know, no matter what, you will be dropping some cash in? You may tell yourself that you are only getting one thing or the thing you have a coupon for. Then you walk out $50 or $100 poorer. We all have trigger stores - Bath & Body Works, The Body Shop, Ulta, Harbor Freight, Target - and we need to just stay away!

18. Don't go anywhere. That's right. Stay home. If you don't have work, school, church, or family commitments, say home. If you stay home and enjoy being home with your family and things, you don't spend money. That also means enjoying your home without being on Amazon. Enjoy the things and entertainment you already have. Do not get online and buy more!

19. Grocery shop from the sales flyers. If it is on the front page of the sales flyer and your family eats it, you should be considering purchasing it. The items on the front page of a sales flyer are considered a loss leader and is generally a good stock-up price. However, show some wisdom here. If you don't eat it or don't have money in the budget for it, don't buy it.

20. Do not purchase meat that is over $2.00 a pound at the store. Meat has been crazy high-priced lately, but I still find a lot of good deals for under $2.00 a pound. Most chicken is under this price as well as a lot of pork. We eat a fair amount of both so I will buy these because they are under $2.00. The only exception is ground beef. We have a local store that will discount their ground beef after 6:00 pm and it will be $1.99-2.99 in price per pound. Otherwise, I will substitute ground pork or turkey in a lot of recipes to make the dish cheaper and save money.

21. For goodness sakes, unless it is an emergency, stop buying your coffee and tea away from home. You can literally make it at home (or work) for as little as $.30 a cup. Even you make it a little fancy and add creamer or want to froth it, you are still saving money. A $2.00 cup of coffee adds up. Getting those fancy coffees and teas adds up even more!

22. Shop from home first. We usually think we need new things or need to make a trip to the store and we probably already have something that works at home. If you feel like you need something, check at home to see if you already have something that works or you can make work. Because once you walk into the store, you will rarely just buy that one thing.

23. Go to your local library. I can not say this enough! I don't even use mine as well as I should, but my kids have no problems borrowing movies and books from them. It is a great way to see new movies and read the latest books. A lot of libraries are even giving you options for borrowing e-books from them. This is a real money saver!

24. Pay your bills on time. I know this may be difficult for some of you and I totally get that. I have been on the deep end of the broke pool before and paying bills has been hard. I have gotten behind. I have also paid a lot of money in interest and fees instead of getting my ducks in rows to pay my bills on time. Do what you can to get them paid on time and save yourself the money!

25. Eliminate subscriptions and delivery services. Really, these are the handiest things around. Sign up and pay for something to be delivered to your home instead of you having to go to the store. Sounds amazing, right? Right. Right up until you can't afford it anymore. Those meal delivery kits and more are expensive. You will probably spend way more than you would at the grocery store. There are a few that are worth the money like Dollar Shave Club (for razors only), but mostly they are the same price or more than the store. You are also probably paying for memberships and subscriptions you don't use. Cancel them now and save money! 

This isn't every way to save money simply and easily. However, this will get you started in the right direction. I hear so many people say they want to save money as they are buying alcohol, lottery tickets, and other personal pleasures. I usually bite my tongue, but there are many, many ways to save money if you make up your mind to do it.

While I may have sounded a little harsh or showed a little tough love in my tips, I am not sorry for it. I had to learn the hard way to save money and I was shown a little tough love in some of my financial mishaps. I learned more from that than anything else.

What crazy simple and easy ways do you use to save money?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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