Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Disaster is Coming! A 20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster!


We have the potential for so many things to happen right now which means we need to be prepared. We have had very damaging natural disasters in the last year that has woken up a good deal of people. We have the potential for more to happen. A nuclear war could happen and we are now being told to prepare for that possibility. As a country, we have enemies who have biological and chemical weapons to take us out. They could get mad enough to attack us.

In other words, a disaster could be coming! What should you be doing?

There are several things you should be doing. Hopefully, you are not home alone because this is a good time to recruit anyone who is living with you to help. In fact, they shouldn't be given a choice about helping or not. Time is of the essence here.

Also, you have many unknowns. You don't know if the water will be available or safe to drink. You might or might not have power. You might have days or only hours to get ready. You might have a chance to get to the store for last minute supplies or you might not. You don't know.

This checklist is to keep you on track and give you a way to plan for getting ready. This list is not necessarily in order of priority except the first two items. Water and food are non-negotiables and should be your top priority after shelter which hopefully you already have.

20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster!

1. Secure your water storage. You should be filling every container you can with water for storage. You will need drinkable and non-drinkable water. If you have the chance to go to the store, pick up more water. No matter what, water should be your number one priority to have on hand.

2. Take stock of your food storage. Do you have everything you need to not leave home for a week, two weeks, a month, or three months? If you think you have enough food, I would be adding more food to your storage. Make sure you have a good mix of ready to eat, easy to prepare, and ingredients to make meals.

3. Take care of any chores that take water. Throw in a load of laundry. Wash dishes. Clean what needs to be cleaned. The last thing you want to have to worry about is dirty laundry and dishes.

4. Get your auxiliary power sources ready to go. Make sure you have fuel for the generators. Make sure your solar chargers and external batteries are charged. Whatever you need to do for power, get it ready.

5. Gather your supplies to cover windows and doorways. You need heavy clear plastic and duct tape to cover windows and doorways. You can also use plywood and screws to cover windows, but you want to seal up anything on your structure that could leak or be broken. Get ready to cover windows and doors or go ahead and get started.

6. Gather your cold weather clothing. If it is winter and you could lose power, you want to be able to stay warm. Make sure you have stocking caps, gloves, scarves, warm shoes and socks, coats, boots, and lots of layers to stay warm. In case of a nuclear war or an exploding volcano, you might have to worry about the resulting ash cloud which would keep your climate considerably cooler.

7. Be prepared to stay in one room. Ideally, you only want to heat one room when having to use auxiliary heat. Be ready to seal off a room by hanging heavy blankets over open doorways and having emergency supplies in that room. Add extra seating by moving chairs or couches into that room for everyone's comfort.

8. Have your auxiliary heat sources ready to go. If you have a wood stove, get your kindling in the house and your firewood stocked by the house or in the house. If you are using kerosene or propane heaters, be sure you have kerosene or propane filled and ready to go. I would also have battery powered carbon monoxide detectors ready to use with the batteries checked for freshness.

9. Make a plan for your pets. If you need to bring them in, make a plan for that and add extra water to your preps for those pets. You need to have a safe place for them. They are your responsibility and leaving them to fend for themselves is not a good plan. If you have to leave your home, be ready to take them with you with a pet carrier, food, water, and leashes.

10. Do you have gas stored? You should check your gas stores and if the gas is good. You might need that gas for your generator, chainsaw, and/or your vehicle. If you don't have any gas stored, you will want to get some in case gas pumps are not working or have run out of gas. I would get non-oxygenated gas and a gas stabilizer for long-term storage.

11. Check your batteries, flashlights, and radios. Make sure you have plenty of batteries for your flashlights. Some flashlights take AA, AAA, C, and D batteries depending on the size of the flashlight. A lot of your LED lanterns take batteries too. You also need a dependable radio to listen to the news and for any emergency alerts. Make sure you have batteries for that too. Also, make sure all your flashlights and radios are currently working.

12. Get your bug out bags ready to go. You might have to leave your home. Even though bugging in is usually your best option, you may have no choice but to leave. Get your bug out bags ready to go by the chosen exit door. You will also want your 72-hour kit and some cases of water ready to go too. If you have time, fill your chosen bug out vehicle with gas and get your vehicle emergency kits in order too. Be ready to leave.

13. Get everyone home if possible. If your spouse or yourself is at work, you should be heading home and doing what you can to get ready. If your kids are at daycare or school, get them home or keep them home. You want everyone at home when a disaster is about to strike. You don't want to worry about everyone and you will need the help getting ready.

14. Make sure you are ready to defend yourself. This is important especially if you live in an urban setting. Looters can and will be coming. Be ready to defend your home and your family. Have a way to block doors and ground level windows. Have your gun ready to use. Be mentally ready to defend yourself by any means necessary.

15. Secure or store everything that is outside inside. Put your cars and bicycles inside if possible. All your lawn/patio/porch furniture should be put away or stored inside. All your outdoor plants should be brought in. Your grill should be put in the garage, but in a spot that it can be used easily. Anything that could be become a projectile outside should be put away. Usually, most bad weather can bring high winds that will blow your outdoor things into another building or your home. You want to eliminate as many problems as possible and having a patio chair through your window would definitely cause more problems.

16. Get your entertainment supplies together. Otherwise called boredom busters, have some things to do to entertain yourself and your family. Make a pile of books to read, games to play, knitting or crocheting to do, and anything else that takes no electricity to do or play. You will have downtime or will need to distract during a disaster. Plan for this because (1) if you have little ones, they will need to be distracted and (2) we all need to be distracted in times of stress and will need something to do to pass the time.

17. Make that last trip to the store if you have time. As preppers, we would like to think we have everything covered. However, that last minute trip to the store might not hurt. You can grab more water, food, batteries, and any holes you found getting ready for the disaster. If you only have a few hours before the disaster, I would skip the store trip unless it is an absolute emergency. The stores will likely be cleaned out anyway.

18. Get some extra cash for after the disaster. If you have time before the disaster, grab some cash. You don't know if you will need it or not, but you likely don't want to be without it. At least $100 would be ideal to have on hand but get the amount of money you can afford and be comfortable with.

19. Have a plan for sanitation. What will you do for sanitation? If you are using toilets, you will need to have extra water for flushing. You will need to explain to the others about when to flush and when not to. If you are using buckets and bags, you will need a way to dispose of the waste. Also, have plenty of toilet paper and flushable wipes on hand. You will also need a plan for trash. If you can compost, you will need a place to do that. If you can burn trash, you will need a way to do that. I would also make sure the trash cans have good tight-fitting lids.

20. Assign everyone a chore or responsibility that they are in charge of. Getting through a disaster is mostly about survival, but one person should not be doing all the work. Everyone can pitch in and make life a little more bearable for everyone during a disaster. There is plenty for everyone to do before, during, and after a disaster. Give everyone something to do.

This is a basic checklist. Some of you will not have to worry about all these things. Some of you will have more to worry about than these things. I would print out this checklist and personalize it for yourself to develop your own plan. While you will be worrying about these things leading up to a disaster, a lot of this checklist can be done long before any disaster hits.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, January 1, 2018

10 Homesteading Goals You Should Be Setting This Year


Homesteading is one of those things that just does not work if you don't have a plan. Part of that plan is setting goals. What do you want to accomplish on your homestead and what do you envision your homestead to be? The possibilities are endless, but you need goals and a plan!

10 Homesteading Goals You Should Be Setting This Year

1. Expand the garden. While you should always grow what you eat, consider expanding your garden to cover more of your personal food needs. I like making my own sauces so that is what I have been focusing on. However, I need to think of vegetables that will winter well in a root cellar too to provide more food over the winter.

2. Plant more fruit and nut trees. Part of homesteading is providing your own food needs and having more food-based trees helps do that. I know we need to add more pear and apple trees to our homestead as well as more elderberry bushes. We already have plenty of walnut trees, but I would like to look at other nut trees.

3. Consider expanding your livestock. If you have chicken layers, the next step might be meat chicks. Turkeys, geese, and ducks would also help add to your meat needs while being fairly low maintenance birds to have on the homestead. Maybe you are ready to take the next step for pigs or goats. Maybe the next step is a feeder steer or a dairy cow. On a homestead, the idea is to raise your meat and eggs. How can you do that?


4.  Raise produce and livestock for profit. While running a homestead is great, cash flow to keep running the homestead helps with the stress. Whether you are selling eggs, selling produce at a farmers market, or raising meat for other people, that cash flow will help cover the cost of feed and other implements needed for the homestead.

5. What part of homesteading do you want to make simpler? Homesteading is about having a simpler life away from the modern consumerism of society. However, homesteading can be anything but simple. You should figure out ways to make your homesteading journey a little simpler and easier for you.

6. Learn new skills. What skills do you want to learn this next year? Butchering animals? Soap making? Canning? Dehydrating? Making lard or tallow? Sewing? The list of skills to learn can be endless, but find three that you want to learn and devote some time to it. Watch videos, read books and buy the supplies so you can practice and learn. The only way to fail at learning skills is to not start.

7. What would make homesteading easier? Is there a tool or a vehicle you want to purchase to make homesteading easier? Come up with a purchase plan or figure out a way to rent/borrow what you need to make your homesteading life easier. Backbreaking work is only fun for so long and then you lose interest. Personally, a four-wheeler with a trailer would be divine for our homestead this Spring!


8. Do you need to relocate? Are you an urban homesteader that wants to be a rural homesteader? Do you want to live in a different area? What would you need to do to make that happen? Some goals are meant for you to dream big and set a plan in action. If you are not happy where you are at, what do you need to do to give yourself the homestead of your dreams?

9. What projects do you need to tackle this year? Do you need to put up buildings? Build fence? Enlarge or fence in the garden? Fix or maintain buildings? The list of things to do can be endless on a homestead, but guess what? That list is a list of goals for you to attain and cross off!


10. Gather knowledge. While homesteading is a lot of learning by experience, being knowledgeable about what you are doing helps greatly. Whether you are watching videos, reading books, or talking to/working with more experienced homesteaders, you should be constantly learning.

What homesteading goals do you want to set this coming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, December 31, 2017

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year


While everyone should be a frugal lifer, a lot of people struggle to do so. Life happens and you end up spending more money than you want to. You are busy and money just flies out the window. A good deal of living frugally is planning ahead and having goals. What do you want to accomplish financially? In what areas do you want to save money? How can you simplify your life to spend less money? Only you can answer those questions, but let me help you set some frugal living goals for the next year!

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year

1. Learn new things to cook from scratch. You can save so much money on your grocery bill by cooking from scratch. Processed food and eating out is so expensive even with a good deal or a special. Learn to make things from scratch and you will also improve your own health as well.


2. Find new ways to save money. When you are a frugal lifer, this can be hard. You think you already know and have found all the ways to save money, but I can almost guarantee you that you can find more. It can be tough, but I am sure you already know of more ways to save money.


3. Have a no-spend week each month or a no-spend month twice a year. I think these are really healthy for a frugal living lifestyle because they force you to really think about if you need something or you just want it. You also are forced to eat what you have at home, be less wasteful, and make do with what you have.


4. Ask yourself if you really need to buy something. Do you really need it or do you have something that will do? How long can you wait before you buy it? Implement a 3, 7, or 14-day waiting period before buying something other than groceries and household necessities. Sometimes you can find something at home that works just as well or you will find out that you don't really need it.


5. Challenge yourself to buy all your clothes used. You can make exceptions like underwear and socks if you want to, but honestly, I have found those brand new, in package or store tags still on, at the thrift store too.


6. Limit your monetary pleasures. Are you eating out a lot more than once a week or once a month? Are you getting massages, manicures, or pedicures every month? Do you shop just to shop? Do you stop at the convenience store for a candy bar every day? We all have something that we waste money on in the name of treating ourselves. A little pleasure is always a good thing, but is there a way you can do that and not spend money?


7. Do you have an emergency fund? If not, you should start one. Everyone should have an emergency fund of at least $1000 to cover those kinds of expenses. If you have one already, what can you do to double it? Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover 3-6 months of your normal income in case you lose your job or get injured for some reason.


8. Are you out of debt? If you are, great! If not, what can you do this year to get out of debt or lessen the burden? Can you cut back on your expenses more to pay down your debt? Can you find other ways to make money to pay down your debt?


9. Organize your things and make an inventory of what you have. Seriously, so much money is wasted because we don't know what we have. We have food in the kitchen and in our pantries that go to waste. We have more things in our closets than we will ever use. We buy batteries because we can't find the package bought a month ago (for example). Take stock of what you have and organize your things.


10. Make a budget or review your budget. This can be the hardest things about being a frugal lifer. I really have trouble sticking to a budget because of unplanned expenses. After something upsets my budget, I lose hope and focus. However, this is the year I need to start. I want you to start your budget too if you don't have one. If you do have one, this is a great time to sit down and review your budget. Are there any increased expenses? Can you save more? Can you pay down more debt? Can you put more in retirement? Work on your budget today!


What frugal living goals do you have for this upcoming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, December 29, 2017

10 Prepping Goals You Should Be Setting For The New Year


The new year is coming quickly. While I think goal setting can be done any time of year and should be, this seems to be the time of year for most people to set goals. If you are a prepper, winter is a good time to get your goals figured out, written down, and a game plan set to accomplish them.

What goals should you be setting as a prepper?

1. Increase water storage and/or create a way to procure water without electricity. We often do not have enough drinking and non-drinking water in our stockpiles. While the experts say to have at least one gallon per person per day of water, most people use more than that for cooking and bathing. We also don't always remember to store water for pets and livestock. If you can, look for a way to install rain barrels or a cistern to procure and use water without electricity.

2. Increase or double your food storage. Many preppers only have a month or less of food storage. You should concentrate on doubling your food storage. If you have a month, build up a two month supply and so on. Make a meal plan with your food storage and you might realize you don't have enough food storage for a month either.

3. Sharpen your shooting skills and learn new ways to defend yourself. Take a self-defense class. Learn taekwondo or another martial art. Learn how to defend yourself in close combat. Learn how to use another weapon. Learn how to better use your own weapons. I believe in using weapons and self-defense to defend myself. I think both methods are important to your safety and should be learned.

4. Lose weight and work on physical fitness. Being in shape and being in good health is crucial to being the best prepper you can be. Being one hundred pounds overweight means you are susceptible to a host of diseases and will easily run out of energy when you need to be in the best shape possible. Even if you walk a mile every day and do fifty jumping jacks twice a day, you are doing more for your health than most people will ever do.

5. Learn new skills. Make a list of three skills you really want to learn in this next year and make a plan to learn them. Watch YouTube videos and buy some books in those areas. Gather the materials and start practicing those skills. Learning skills is never a waste of time.

6. Increase or double your emergency cash fund. If you are into gold or silver, increase that. Most of us do not have a really good emergency cash stash at home. We might have some coins and a few dollars which will not get us far when an SHTF happens.

7. Start gathering or buying non-electric items. When you have no power, you will want things that do not use electricity. Having good manual tools will just make life a lot easier in the end when an SHTF happens and most of us do not have enough manual tools on hand.

8. Read a prepping book every month. Most of prepping is the knowledge inside your head and how you apply it. Read a prepping book, apply something you have learned from it, and stick that knowledge in your head.

9. Get your affairs in order. Get your family information together and put it in a binder and on a flash drive. Get your will written. Make bug-in and bug-out plans. When SHTF happens, you have your information together and you are ready to start putting your life back together again. If you have this already, review and update the information.

10. Make an effort to make more prepping friends and expand your community. Yes, you can prep alone or have a lot of online prepping buddies, but you are better off making some prepping friends locally. You would have people locally who would be there for you and understand how you think. Better yet though, find a few people to turn on to prepping. We can't have enough preppers in the world!

Prepping is a lot easier and more focused when you have goals to commit to. You will be able to implement a plan to prep smarter and create a life free from worrying about "what if?".

What are your prepping goals for this coming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Want to Save Money? Learn To Live With Less!


Money is a necessary evil. We need it to pay bills, buy items we need, and put gas in the car. While we hear of people (and possibly know people) who might be able to live without money, it is nearly impossible to do so.

However, there is this idea that we need more things than we really do to live a comfortable life. That idea is really prevalent in America. We earn money and we think we need to spend money on more things. Then we try to earn more money just to spend more money for more things we thought we needed. It's a vicious cycle.

Yet we wonder why we cannot save money...

You want to save money? You need to learn to live with less! The less you need, the less money you spend. So what does this mean?

  • Less toys
  • Less gadgets
  • Less collectibles
  • Less clothes
  • Less furniture
  • Less shoes
  • Less etc. 

We can live with less than what we have or think we "need" to have. You don't have to be a minimalist (although that is a great lifestyle) to live with less. You won't be depriving yourself if you do not have more than ten shirts or see latest movie out.

Really. You just need shelter, food, water, and protection. Yes, that is a prepping concept, but it applies to more than just prepping. Once your basic needs are met, almost everything else is a "want". And what do you really want?

  • A house?
  • A car?
  • College savings?
  • The ability to be able to afford unexpected repairs?
  • Retirement?
  • Early retirement?
  • Financial stability?
  • Pay off debts?

You are trying to achieve goals by saving money. Buying and living with less stuff is keeping you in line with your goals and priorities. We already have too many people thinking that a lot of debt is good and that social security will cover their retirement. By learning to live with less now, you will be more financially comfortable later on in life. Your retirement will not be contingent on what the government will pay you in social security (or if they pay you - the money has to be there first).

What do you have to do to learn to live with less?

  • Realize not everything has to be replaced with new when broken.
  • Realize not everything has to be replaced when broken.
  • Fix your own broken things.
  • Make do, do without, use it up, wear it out.
  • Realize you only might only need one thing instead of multiples (this does not apply to some things - more than one flashlight is a good thing!).
  • Use services like the library for books and movies. 
  • Take advantage of free things and gifts. 
  • Sell your unnecessary things. 

Learning to live with less to save money can only be a benefit to you and your future. The less you need now, the less you will need late on. Saving money now will help you to save money later when you will be on a limited budget.

How will you learn to live with less to save money?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, March 13, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in March


March is a fun time of the year! You never know what kind of weather you will have, if Spring will actually come in March, and if Winter will ever end. Below, I have a few things you can do this month to keep the winter doldrums at bay and make the time go quicker!

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in March:

1. Buy plastic and plywood for your windows in your house. We recently had a hailstorm near us that caused a lot of damage. Many homeowners had broken windows from golf ball sized hail. Having a some plastic to put over your windows will keep your home protected from the elements until someone can come and fix it. Also keeping a roll of black plastic will be handy in case you need to black out your windows for any reason. Plywood is another good way of covering up your windows if they break or have the potential to break in a bad storm.

2. Make your evacuation plans. While winter is still here for another month or two, the fun Spring and Summer weather is coming. Tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and other wonderful weather will be here before we know it! Now is the time to make an evacuation plans or review your current plans. Now is the time to ask yourself these questions:



  • Where will you go? 
  • How will you get there? 
  • What alternate routes can you take? 
  • Where is everyone going to meet? 
  • Which vehicle(s) will you be taking? 
  • What will you take with you?

Put a copy of this somewhere safe or in your bug out bag. Make sure everyone in your household knows the plan. The most important part? Practice, practice, practice this plan!

3. Add foods to your food storage that do not require cooking. Sometimes, in times of crisis, having food that you can just grab and eat is wonderful. You might not always have time to cook or the resources to cook food. Some good ideas to have in your food storage:



  • Meal replacement bars
  • Protein bars
  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter
  • Jam or jelly
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Applesauce
  • Canned fruit and vegetables
  • Packets of chicken or ham salad and crackers
  • Packets of cheese or peanut butter and crackers
  • Cereal bars

4. Sharpen your tools. If you are a gardener, now is a good time to sharpen your shovels, hoes, trowels, and other tools. If you have knives, now is a good time to sharpen them whether they are for the kitchen, personal carry, shop, or outdoor use. Keeping your tools sharp can make a job go faster and prevent injury from dull tools. And no one likes a dull tool.

5. Daylight Savings Time means check your batteries time. Daylight Savings Time is a good time to check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If you do not have these, now is a good time to get them installed. March is also a good time to check your fire extinguishers to make sure the pin hasn't been pulled and nothing has gotten rusty. You should also take the time this month to make sure the kids and the adults know what to do if there is a fire: how to get out the house, use the fire ladder, where to meet outside the house, and how to call for help.

What do you have planned for March?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in January
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in February

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How An Online Book Store Will Work For Me After The Collapse


As I have mentioned before, I have an online book store through Ebay. At any given time, I have at least 400 books and magazines listed with more always ready to be listed. I don't just sell books and magazines, but that is my main focus. I really like selling on Ebay so I keep going.

I believe in first, second, and third streams of income. I have a regular 7:30-4:30 job that provides me with insurance, 401K, and income to pay the bills. I have this blog, another new blog, and an often neglected YouTube channel. Then I have the online book store. The rest of these provide supplemental income. I have never intended them to be more than that, but would never mind if they became more than that.

What has been on my mind lately is what will I do if we have a collapse of any sort. All my current streams of income rely on a steady internet connection and electricity. How will I survive in a collapse situation? Can I reasonably do any of these jobs without internet and electricity? Can I convert any of these into other income streams?

The answer is yes. My everyday job might be harder to do because of the twelve miles I drive to work. We would also need a good-sized generator to run the pumps. Everything that is on computer would have to be done by hand accounting. I would need access to fuel to drive to work, but depending on the situation that can happen.

The blogging and vlogging would be harder to do or would not happen at all. However, I could apply my writing skills in other areas to keep people informed. 

However, I have a plan for the online book store. If the collapse happens, the online book store would become a regular, walk in the door book store. I would keep it in a separate building away from the house. I have more than 400 books, magazines, and other goods to sell or trade as of right now. I am continually growing the online store so I keep increasing the inventory.

There is questions and situations that will need to be dealt with. 

What about currency? That will be a tough one. Of course, I will always consider gold or silver as currency. If the current currency is still in place, that will work too. As I mentioned before, I will also trade for items that I need or others may want. 

This book store may become more of a trading post after awhile. I am good with that. I see books being necessary for reference materials, for knowledge, and for escaping reality for a bit. I would also put out items that we no longer use or need in the store too. Good used clothing will be necessary to people and worth the time to sell. 

I am not sure what I would use as a pricing scale yet for trading, but I think keeping prices low will help the business. I despise it when I hear people talking about jacking up the prices after a crisis. Taking advantage of desperate people is wrong and I plan on keeping that philosophy in my business. 

I would also consider turning the book store into a sort of consignment store if the conditions were good for it. If currency is not a problem, then I may allow other people to bring good, used items to sell. In this case, we will all need any money we can get. Selling for others allows me to make money as well as them. 

I hope, over time, to pick up for more skills and ways to make a living after the collapse. I know a lot of the living done after the collapse will be for survival, but we will need to also start working on rebuilding an economy. We need to start rebuilding cities and towns. 

Someone will need to provide the goods and have the ability to trade for other goods. I think flexibility will be key for running any business after the collapse which is why I discussed expanding the book selling and turning it into more. Keeping the options open will mean a better business for me. 

What are your plans after a collapse? Do you plan to run a business? How do you plan to stay employed?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Monday, December 26, 2016

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas


What do you mean next Christmas? Christmas was, like, yesterday!

I know, I know. However, now is the time to set your budget for next Christmas and to start saving money for it. You know how much you spent on gifts, food, entertainment, and all the little extras. If you don't know, now is a good time to find the receipts and add them up. 

While you might be in shock over how much you spent, you need to take the time now to come up with a plan for next year. My goal is to pay cash or have the money in my checking account to pay for Christmas. I start early buying gifts so I can spread out the spending more. Saving money now allows me to start buying early because I have the money already saved.

If you were forced to use credit cards to pay for Christmas this year, this plan is for you too. Pay off those credit cards as quickly as possible and start putting some money away for next Christmas. If you used credit cards for the points and cash backs and can pay them off right away, that last little bit was directed at you. I understand using credit cards for those sort of things. Just be able to pay them off right away, okay?

Saving money for next Christmas can be painless, but might also require a little sacrifice of time, money, and giving up a guilty pleasure or two. You are trying to not stress about how to pay for Christmas when December rolls around. You want to give the best Christmas you can reasonably afford to. This is how you can do that. 

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas:

1. Set a budget! Look at how much you spent on this previous Christmas. Did you spend more than you thought? Were there some surprises you were not anticipating? Do you or your significant other like to go overboard with the gifts? Now is the time to look at these things. 

You can set your budget according to what you spent this year. If you thought you spent way too much, set a specific dollar amount you will spend on the kids, grandkids, parents, and everyone else that you bought for. If you know that you will have to chip in on a gift for the boss or a coach, figure that in. Then set a budget for food, the extras, and entertainment. 

For the rest of the steps, my estimated budget is $1000 (which is close, but I using this amount for figuring the rest of the steps). 

2. Come up with a savings plan. You know how many paychecks you will have between now and next Christmas. In my case, exactly 26 paychecks will happen. How much can you spare from your budget to save for next Christmas? I know I can usually spare $25 a pay period (and that is being stingy). At roughly $50 a month, I will be saving $600. 

An easy way to make sure the money is being saved is to have it automatically taken out of your account and put directly into a savings account. You can do this by having it direct deposited from your paycheck or setting up an automatic transfer with your bank. If you have good self-discipline, you can do the transferring yourself. 

Some people prefer to save money as cash and to use cash. You can still withdraw the money every pay period and put in an envelope marked for Christmas. If you think you might have trouble with spending it on other things, put it somewhere safe in the house and not in your purse/wallet. Otherwise, leave it with a trusted family member or friend who will also not spend it for you.

3. Figure out how to make up the deficit. If you cannot save enough money from just your paychecks, you need to figure out how to make up the difference. As you can figure, I still have $400 to come up with to make up the difference. Honestly, this is just making extra money and we should all know how to do this by now. If not, here are some ideas:

  • Side Jobs
  • Tax Refund
  • Selling Unused or Not Needed Things
  • Redeeming Cans and Bottles for the Deposit (If you have this option)
  • Selling Things on Consignment
  • Babysitting, Pet-sitting, and House-sitting

Put this money away in the Christmas savings. If you earn more money than you need, then keep saving it for other things. You can never have too much money saved, especially in the emergency fund!

4. When you do decide to start shopping, spend wisely. You never know when you might trip over a deal of the lifetime on something you wanted to give as a gift. When you do spend, use the cash you saved or transfer the money into your checking account. 

5. Keep a careful accounting of what you are spending through the year. You can use this for the following year's Christmas budget. Sometimes, surprises happen and you have to spend money on a gift you were not planning on. Keep the receipts in an envelope with a small ledger of what spending has occurred. This way, you can figure that in for next year. 

How do you save money for Christmas? 

Thanks for reading, 
Erica

Related Posts:
10 Money Saving Hacks For A Happier (And Cheaper) Holidays!
10 Money Saving Tips For A Frugal Holidays!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Eight Ways to Avoid Frugal Burnout


Are you tired of pinching pennies?

Are you tired of beans and rice?

Are you tired of wondering when the debt will be paid off?

Are you tired of being frugal?

Frugal burnout is a real thing, folks!

Constantly watching your pennies and wondering when you can afford what you really need or want just gets to you after awhile. I know, for me, that I just get tired of it all. I get tired of checking my bank account constantly. I get tired of keeping track of my spending. I get tired of not being able to buy whatever I want. I get tired of saying no to my kids. You get the idea. 

Being that aware of your money all the time can wear a person out. Even though you should have an emergency fund, real life happens. Your car breaks down or an emergency room trip happens. It just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and cry! 

You are trying so hard to get ahead! You are being as frugal as you can and life is still tough. This is where frugal burnout comes in. You get so tired of trying to be frugal and pinch pennies that you just give up. You lose track of the goals you set. Your budget starts to go awry. You make a purchase of your credit card. 

You can avoid frugal burnout! Here is how:

1. Look at and assess your financial goals. Having your goals written out and visible helps to keep you focused. Some people need visual reminders to keep motivated. Having a meeting with your significant other (or yourself) and reassessing your goals every month will help keep you on track. 

2. Stay motivated! Keep track of your progress. Make a chart showing how much you have to pay off and how much you have paid off. Keep the chart updated and celebrate your progress in a fun, free way. 

3. Have fun! Laugh a little! Sometimes people can get way, way, way too serious about being frugal and then they get burnt out. Remember to have some fun and laugh! Play games, attend a free concert, have friends over, watch a funny movie, and cut loose for awhile! Your outlook on your frugal life will be much better for it!

4. Realize setbacks are inevitable and you can do this. Stuff happens. You can plan and anticipate as much as possible with your budget and finances. However, sometimes the car battery will die. You might get into a car accident. You might be laid off from work unexpectedly. You can still be a frugal maniac! Regroup, replan, and get back at it!

5. Find someone who is frugal and start a support group. Seriously, find some like minded people. They are great for accountability, for new ideas, for support, and for having fun with! 

6. Watch your favorite frugal YouTube videos and channels! Get yourself some inspiration! I love to listen to YouTube videos while working or just working. I have learned some great tips and ideas that I would never have thought of myself. Listen to others talk about their frugal ideas and journeys have given me a lot of motivation and inspiration over the years. 

Some of my favorite frugal YouTube Channels are Living on a Dime, Big Family Homestead, Jordan Page Fun Cheap or Free, Lydia Senn, and frugalgreengirl

7. Read the Tightwad Gazette (or reread!). I am not kidding. This is the best frugal book out there. I learned so much from this book and was able to adjust my attitude in several areas of my life to become more frugal. If you can not afford it, ask your library if they have it or can get it for you. Take the time to read this book from cover to cover. You will not regret it!

8. Reassess the budget. Sometimes the budget needs tweaking. You should review it every month. However, even I am not very good at this. Take some time this weekend to see if the budget is working, where you need to improve, where you can cut back at, and where you are spending your money

Whatever your frugal goals are, you can do it. If you get into a slump, use one of these ideas to get you back on track!

What do you do when you are in a frugal burnout?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Have Been Prepping For Five Years, Now What? A Review Checklist for the Long-Term Prepper


Many of us have been prepping for quite a while. We started by getting some more food, a few cases of water, and some gear. Then prepping took over our lives and we now have a lot of prepping things and a good size food and water storage. 

I have been prepping for longer than five years, but I know that I have areas of my prepping I need to revisit. I bet you do too. As I have been decluttering and reorganizing, I have noticed things getting a little out of date, maybe a little dusty, maybe a little rusty, and some of it definitely being unused. I know our emergency plans are out of date and we have a lot of revisions to make. 

Sound familiar?

Here is a list of things you need to check if you have been prepping awhile. While we should be checking our preps every six months to one year, time does get away from us and we get busy with other things. Now is as good time as any to get your preps in line for, you know, just in case!

Preps to Check:

Check Water



Check long-term food stores 

  • Freeze-dried foods need to be checked to make sure the seals are good and no containers are bulging 
  • Food stored in mylar bags needs to be checked and possibly opened to make sure there is no spoilage or bugs
  • Food buckets need to be checked for a good seal and no holes or breaks
  • Canned foods need to be checked over to either be eaten or thrown and again no bulges in the cans
  • Is the food still things you would eat or not? 
  • Is there any obvious holes in your food storage your need to fill?


Check supplies 

  • Does everything still work? 
  • Do batteries need to be replaced? 
  • Do I have a good stock of batteries?
  • Does the oil, gas, or propane need to be replaced?
  • Have you started or used this prep lately to make sure it works?
  • Is everything in good condition?
  • What needs to be repaired or replaced?


Check caches and supplies hidden at other places

  • Are they still there? 
  • How is everything holding up in the caches? 
  • Time to rotate the food in the caches?
  • Check clothing if stored for kids and replace
  • Hiding spot still good?
  • Cache container still have good camouflage? 


Check security

  • Ammo and guns still in good condition?
  • Knives sharpened and in good condition?
  • Other methods of defending yourself still in good condition?
  • Does everybody still know their role in the home security or does your plan need revision?
  • Is all your window and door locks in good condition?
  • Is your home still invader-proof? Walk around the house to make sure.


Check home emergency supplies

  • How are the fire extinguishers? Still in date and still functioning?
  • Rope ladders from upstairs rooms still in good condition?
  • How are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Still working well or need to be replaced?
  • Generators still run well? 
  • Still have an adequate amount of gas, propane, and/or diesel on hand? Container still in good condition?
  • Do you still have a good amount of bedding and supplies for those that might show up in an emergency or disaster?


Check your bug-out bags and 72-hour kit


  • Is the clothing and shoes still size appropriate for who is using it?
  • Is the food still good? Do you still have an adequate amount?
  • Does everything function correctly and is still appropriate for the person carrying it?
  • Does the batteries need to be replaced in anything?
  • Is there adequate amount of supplies for the people in your family? 

Check your first-aid kit and supplies

  • What needs to be replaced?
  • Do the bandages look old and/or might not stick anymore?
  • Have your family's needs changed? Do you need baby stuff or not anymore?
  • Is the over-the-counter medicines still in good standing or need to be replaced?
  • Is everything still well-organized or need to be again?
  • What do you need to add to your first-aid supplies?


Other Questions you should be asking yourself

  • Is your evacuation plans still good?
  • Does your emergency family plan need to be revised?
  • Are your kids older or do you have kids now?
  • Do you need plans for your kids in college or on their own?
  • Do you need to have plans for your parents and older family members?
  • Is your emergency information updated?
  • Is your phone list still current?
  • Do you need to update your personal information in your family emergency binder?
  • Do you have an updated list of all medications your family is taking?
  • Do you have current health histories on everybody?
  • Is your vehicle emergency kit current? Does anything need to be replaced?
  • Is your Every Day Carry current and still useful?
  • How is your emergency cash fund? Does it need to be replenished or increased?

There is so much to think about and do when you are prepping. Checking your preps can sometimes get lost in the busyness of prepping and living life. While I am sure I missed some things that need to be checked, this basic list can get you started on making sure you are covered in an emergency or disaster.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, January 25, 2016

Do You Feel Like Prepping Now?


Anytime is a good time to start prepping. Yesterday is always a better time, but starting now is better than waiting until the actual SHTF happens. And a lot of events are going on right now. 

Winter is here. The East really knows winter is here now. I had a few friends post pictures of the almost empty grocery shelves. The snow fall made getting around difficult. And despite warnings to stay home and get ready, many people were caught in Snow Storm Jonas.

Stock markets around the world are really taking a dive. That is even happening in the United States. Please don't fool yourselves. We have big financial problems coming on the horizon that are not fixable. 

We have foreign problems by the loads. Iran is a huge worry. The Middle East is always a worry. Russia doesn't hesitate to let you know how they feel. Our president is not very well adept in dealing with any of this. One wrong move in the next year could send us into a world war. 

We have many potential natural disasters coming into play. Polar ice caps are melting. More earthquakes are happening every month. A couple of places in the US are poised to have the "big one" happen anytime when talking about earthquakes. Tornado season is around the corner. 

We have more people on welfare and government assistance now than at anytime in history. More and more people believe the government will save them if something happens. Unemployment is high (depending on whose numbers you believe) and climbing. What happens when the government money runs out?

I could go on and on, but you get it. The time to prep is now. 

Many people think that they can always start something new tomorrow or next week, but prepping doesn't work like that. You don't know what is going to happen tomorrow or next week. Heck, you don't know always know what is going to happen today. You might have your day planned out and get stuck in a snow drift on the way home. 

You just don't know.

Why wait to prep? Waiting just doesn't make sense! Do you want to be one of those people that has to scramble at the last minute to get what you need? Or worse yet, be helpless until help arrives? Do you want to put yourself and your family in danger because you didn't want to have worry about "that kind of stuff"? 

I am a prepper and I know the urge to prep more and prep smarter has been hitting me hard lately. Enough so that I have been reassessing my preps and getting holes filled. I am building even more food storage and water storage. I am making plans to beef up my gardens and increase my chicken flock this spring. I am figuring out more ways to heat without electricity. I am doing more reading and learning about new skills and practicing them.

I am doing what I can to make sure my family is not helpless. I can't handle seeing them hungry or hurt. There is no reason they should suffer more because of my lack of foresight. You and yours should not have to suffer either. 

What is the harm in having extra food and water in the house? What could it hurt for your family to take self-defense lessons? How cool would it be to grow some of your food? What could be a problem with having a good first-aid kit? 

All of it needs to happen. Today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today.

Do you feel like prepping now?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 and November's Meal Plans


Here we are, Month 2 of the Once A Month Shopping Challenge!

I tried to be a little more prepared for this month. I have officially made my three planned stops as of yesterday. The first stop was to K-Mart to get:

2 bags of dog food
2 bags of cat food (grain-free for the cat with a sensitive stomach)
1 bag of cat litter
1 bottle of shampoo (for me)
1 bottle of shampoo/conditioner (for Dane)
2 bottles of conditioner (1 for me, 1 for Paige)
2 bottles of Vitamin C gummies (buy 1, get 1 free)

I cannot find the receipt right now, but I know I spent $76 with taxes and we saved $25 with coupons and discounts. Some things like cat litter have gone up a bit and that surprised me. 

The second stop was to Menards. I have this receipt! At Menards, I bought:

1 Plastic Window Kit to cover my inside windows
1 Plastic Door Kit to cover my back door until I get a new storm door
1 Garden Hand Shovel to replace the one the dog chewed up
2 different size drill bits because the ones I had were dull
1 set of sticky mouse traps
1 bag of Fast Set Repair Mortar for the basement drain. We have caught snakes coming up through the sides of it where the cement has crumbled. 

I had a Menards rebate check for $10. My total after that was $19. Not too bad! I also got another rebate to mail in when I bought the window kit. 

The third stop was to Fareway. This trip was for groceries and this one hurt! I won't list everything because this was a big grocery shopping trip that included Thanksgiving. I am hosting it this year!



The highlights and deals:
Frozen vegetables for $.77 (I bought 6 bags)
Shredded cheese - 8 oz. packages for $.99 each (limit 3)
Pork Sausage for $1.99 a pound (I got 3 - 1 lb. packages)
10 pound roll of 85% ground beef on sale for $2.99 a pound (I got one roll)
Store pasta on sale for 10/$10.00
A lot of produce 

I spent $174.00. I am still in shock, but I am trying to step back and realize if this is for the whole month, that is not bad at all. I shopped a lot of deals and saved quite a bit that way. I did have to buy meat which always kills me. I bought two roasts in addition to the meat listed which were $18 total. That is just expensive, but both roasts will provide two meals and 2-3 days of leftovers afterwards. That is not bad.

I already have the turkey and ham in my freezer for Thanksgiving. I bought potatoes, stuffing, apple cider, cranberries, and fried onions for the green bean casserole. I have a lot of food in my pantry already for side dishes. Plus our holiday meals are potluck so many other people will be bringing more food. 

The November Meal Plan is going to look similar to October's meal plans. I will be incorporating more slow cooker meals that are low carb for me. The kids will probably have rice with them, but I need to be more diligent about sticking to eating better. I have my freezer meals for the slow cooker and we are also trying Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef and Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja. I can't wait to try them!

November Meal Plan
Chili (slow cooker)
Beef Stew (slow cooker)
Mongolian Beef (slow cooker)
Ropa Vieja (slow cooker)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Cavatini (for sports banquet)
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Homemade Pizza
Fajitas
Tacos (2 times)
Baked Rigatoni
Taco Chili Mac
Turkey Pot Pie
Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken and vegetables
Chicken Loaf, rice, and vegetables
Fritatta
2-3 Freezer Meals
Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving Leftovers
Leftovers from slow cooker meals

I realize the leftovers are a tentative thing. I usually make a lot when I make slow cooker meals so we have plenty of leftovers. However, I am living with the joy of a growing boy. If he is hungry and even remotely likes the meal, he can eat a lot! Holy moly! Paige can also eat a lot too which makes for an interesting meal time some nights. 

As always, I make my own bread and snacks for myself and the kids. We have chickens that produce eggs which is my breakfast almost every morning. This month, I am going to try to make my own tortillas (those are more expensive than ever!). 

How is your shopping challenge going? What are you planning for meals for November?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How I Get Things Done: Doing 5 Things In One Area


I am often asked how I get things done. I know I am a single mother with busy kids so that means I have to get things done. Of course, I enlist my kids into helping because, most of the time, it is their mess. At the end of the day, though, most of the work falls on me to keep the house running smoothly and to get things done.

I often don't feel like doing anything. Morning is my best time to get things done because I am tired at night after being at work most of the day. When I get home, I don't want to do anything including cooking. I often have prepping and homesteading tasks to accomplish. I have blogging to do. I have an Ebay store that needs daily attention. 

I have things to do! 

Crazy, right?

This is how I get things done: I choose an area and get five things done in that area. 

I will grab a piece of scratch paper or use my Any.DO app on my phone and make a list of five things I want to get done. I often will have a list for the morning and one for the evening. My morning list will usually have errands I need to run in town. I also focus attention on and have a list of five things to do in my Ebay store and for my blogging activities in the mornings. 

My evening list is usually more specific to an area at home that needs attention. I do most of my homesteading tasks in the evenings. Most of my prepping activities will be in the evenings. Most of my major housework will be in the evenings. Altogether it is really overwhelming, but by breaking down the tasks and focusing on one area, I can get more done.

I like to have my list written down or noted on the Any.Do app so I can keep on task. I am way too easily distracted and will lose focus easily. I need to see the list in print to keep on task!

For an in-house example of what I would do: If I am in the living room, I will put five things away. Usually that alone makes a huge difference! I will fold the blankets and put them away, put the throw pillows back on the furniture, make the kids pick up the toys, put away read books and magazines, and put the dirty dishes in the kitchen. The living room is instantly looking better and I feel accomplished.

For a more specific example, this was yesterday's list:
Buy garlic to plant in the garden
Plant garlic in the garden
Stake the area planted and put twine around the stakes for a barrier
Buy pots for the herbs
Repot the outdoor herbs and bring them inside for the winter.

I also pulled up the tomatoes plants while I was out there waiting for the kids to find the twine and stakes. I should have been more efficient and brought them out with me! But that is life sometimes!

That list was all about gardening and I felt great getting that all done! Especially with colder weather coming this week!

When I make a list of five, I am doing it to keep the list and my life simple. I don't feel overwhelmed. I am doing what I can in this area at that moment. I still make supper, do dishes, and do laundry, but I am getting more done than the basics.

The side benefit of doing five things is that I can stop there and feel great about what I have done. Usually though, when I start doing those five things, I start doing more during or after those five things are done. Case in point: pulling up the tomato plants while I was waiting for the kids. 

Depending on where you are at in life, your list might be different. I remember my kids being little and thinking that having five toys picked up was a great achievement! The joy of the list of five is that you can make suit your life and where you are at in life. 

How do you get it all done? Do you use this method too?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



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