Ok, look, I live in the coffee capital of the United States. I like me some coffee. There are a million different places to get coffee here and unfortunately the very best one which is my very favorite in the whole wide world is only a couple of blocks from our apartment, and also comes with a slightly more premium price than your run-of-the-mill Starbucks. Drip coffee is pretty cheap at any coffee shop, but let’s face it, you’re probably not going out just for drip coffee—you want your espresso! If you buy a $4 coffee once a weekday, that’s $20 a week. If your coffee is more expensive or you buy more than one a day, you’re looking at over a $100 a month in coffee money! How can we cut back on this without becoming caffeine deprived?
The obvious answer is to make coffee at home, and yeah, I know, that sounds boring. It is thrifty though! You don’t need to spend $200 on a fancy machine, a basic one will do. And it doesn’t have to be boring! Many grocery stores now sell containers of flavored syrups that you can use to whip up your own drink at home. You can now have that pumpkin mint mocha with strawberry whipped cream that has been your dream drink for years, even though everyone else thinks it sounds horrid. Even a can of storebought whipped cream to top off your drink costs less than one cup of coffee shop coffee, and it will top a dozen or more drinks!
You don’t need to completely deprive yourself of fancy coffee, either—even if you go out for coffee twice a week, you’re only spending $8 per week instead of $20. Also, grab your travel mug on your way out the door—many coffee shops will knock off ten cents or more if you bring your reusable mug along. Be sure to sign up for any rewards or punch cards as well. If you are buying coffee there somewhat regularly, you might as well have each purchase count towards a free coffee! Coffee is amazing, and you certainly can remain caffeinated in the mornings while saving money at the same time!
If you’re carrying credit card debt and actively trying to pay it off, but the interest is killing you, think about doing a balance transfer. Many cards have a 0% APR for the first six months or so if you transfer a balance over from a different card. That 0% APR can save you hundreds in interest, allowing you to pay off your balance sooner. But how exactly does a balance transfer work?
Let’s say I have a credit card from the company Pursue. I have a balance of $4,500 on it, at 14.99% APR. I’m having trouble paying it down because I can only pay the minimum, and the interest added to my balance each month basically negates the minimum payment I make.
But wait! The credit union HERO has just approved me for a new credit card with a $5,000 limit on it. If I transfer a balance onto the new HERO card within three months of opening the card, I get 0% APR—no interest–for six months on that balance. Hooray! I probably won’t be able to pay off the entire balance within six months. While paying it off in full while there is no interest applied is, of course, ideal, six months of no interest still saves a ton of money!
To initiate the process, I call up HERO. They verify my HERO account and ask for the card number and name on my Pursue account. I explain that I want to transfer all $4,500 from my Pursue card to my new HERO card. HERO sends a check for $4,500 to Pursue, who applies the check as a payment to my Pursue card, bringing that balance down to $0. HERO adds a $4,500 balance to my HERO card. Ta-da! Now I’m paying no interest on my balance and I can either keep my Pursue account open or close it after making sure there are no other minor charges on my account.
The first time I did a balance transfer, I was afraid it would be complex. But it really did just take about a ten minute call to my real-life credit union equivalent of HERO. If you’ve been worried about balance transfers being complicated, go ahead and give it a try—a few minutes on the phone could save you a ton of money on interest!
We live in a time where time itself is a precious and rare commodity. We don’t really take a lot of time to unwind or spend time with family and friends. Most of us have jobs or money saving projects that we invest a great deal of our time in. We don’t want to invest more into cooking, although we still want to eat healthy meals in the comfort of our own home. Using canned meat can help with reduce cost, cooking time, and stress.
Canned meat costs less money than fresh cuts of meat. This can save you a good deal of money when grocery shopping. It cuts our grocery costs by fifty plus dollars.
Using canned meat in my recipes helps me save a good deal of time. It’s nice to be able to use that time for more important activities and on the family.
One of the most annoying things to happen after a long day is to come home to make dinner only to discover that no one took dinner out to thaw. With canned meat you don’t have to worry about that. Your meat is already thawed and ready to be used. You just open the can, drain the water, and use it in your dinner recipe.
Most canned meats have already been cooked. This means most recipes that require meat will go faster. You will need to warm the meat up, but you won’t need to worry about uncooked or partially cooked meat and all the bacteria that goes along with it.
No Meat Preperation
You don’t need to cut the meat up. You don’t need to remove skin or bones (with the exception of some canned fish). The meat is ready to use as it comes out of the can. The only thing I have ever had to do to prepare canned meat is break larger chunks into smaller ones.
We all want to eat healthy. We also want to make it to work on time. With the right ingredients and kitchen tools we can do that, and it doesn’t have to hurt our budget.
Mixes are the best way to go for breakfast foods. First, you will still have time to make a healthy breakfast without shoving something in the microwave or toaster. Second, many of these mixes only require you to add an egg and water or milk. Then mix it and cook it. The best mixes for this are muffin mixes and pancake mixes. The muffin mixes come with blueberries or cranberries already in the mix, but you can add frozen berries to your pancakes to add a little variety.
For days you need a little more heat or substance have oatmeal or creamy wheat. Don’t buy individual servings. Buy the big canister or box of these hot cereals. They cook up fast and you can add peanut butter, spices, or all sorts of fruits to them.
Last, for when you’re literally running out the door, keep whole wheat bagels on hand. They can have flavors and fruits in them, but they will be much healthier than a toaster pastry. If you have ten seconds you can even add some cream cheese to it.
For most of us lunch is a meal to keep hunger at bay between breakfast and dinner (providing we have eaten breakfast) and we often either skip it or go over board. A simple solution is fruit parfaits and fruit shakes. Get a big tub of regular yogurt, some frozen or canned fruit, a box of granola, and some skim milk. That’s all you need to make your own parfaits or fruit shakes. For a parfait mix your yogurt, a fourth cup of granola and some fruit together. You have a fruit parfait. For a shake blend the yogurt, fruit, and half a cup of milk together. If you would rather have a smoothie, replace the milk with crushed ice. For those of us on the go prepare your parfait the night before and just grab it and go in the morning.
For the busy Thrifty Diva who wants to eat right, the crock pot is your best friend when it comes to dinner. You can find recipes all over the internet. You can used dried beans to make meals which are often less expensive than their canned and ready to go counterparts. You can also used canned chicken or stew meat to cut costs on chili, soups, or stews.
You can get your ingredients together the night before, set it up to cook in the morning, and it will be done cooking when you get home. If you are concerned about leaving it to cook alone you could check on it at lunch time or (if you have your own office) take it to work with you. Just plug it in, set it in a corner, and take it home with you that night. If you don’t have your own work space ask if you can set it up in the break room.
Has April fifteenth snuck up on you? Are you trying to figure out how you are going to pay that tax bill? Here are a few things you should know if you haven’t filed your taxes yet.
File For An Extension
Perhaps you had a family emergency. Perhaps you have cut it too close to the tax deadline and need some time to find that W2 that has found its way under the couch. Either way you are going to need a little more time to file your taxes. What you need to do is file for an extension. This will need to be done before April fifteenth to help you avoid the fees that go along with paying your taxes late, but will give you some extra time to get your taxes finished.
Check Your Numbers
If you are doing your own taxes it’s important to make sure that your information is right. Check to make sure your social security numbers are correct. Check your math. Make sure you included all your deductions and, if you are itemizing deductions, the amount is greater than just taking the standard deduction.
Pay The Smallest Off First
If you have state taxes that you can pay off and federal taxes that you can’t pay off, go ahead and pay off the smaller tax bill. Then you will only have one outstanding bill. This also can be a useful solution when you have smaller city and county taxes due. The point is to reduce the amount of places you owe by paying as much as you can in full from smallest amount to largest amount.
Set Up A Payment Plan
If you don’t have the money to pay your taxes, contact the IRS or state and set up a payment plan. You won’t be hit with late fees because you will have resolved how the IRS will be getting their money. You won’t be paying a huge lump sum because the payments will be small in comparison of what you owe. You will even be able to budget it into your monthly budget.
We use a lot of disposable items in our society today. And I totally understand—once, when our apartment building had a big leak and we didn’t have water for a full day, I ran out to buy disposable plates. There was something incredibly wonderful about throwing the plates and utensils in the trash after meals instead of spending time washing everything, but it’d be difficult to make that sustainable. Not only did we make tons more trash than we usually do, but disposables certainly add up financially over time. And I totally admit that if we didn’t have an Earth to save and our trash totally just vanished into a black hole, I’d be the first in line to stop washing dishes and convert to disposables! But if you need some help being thrifty and cut down on your use of disposable products, try these replacements:
Towels instead of paper napkins and paper towels—The easiest way to do this is just to go to your local favorite store that sells kitchen towels and buy a ton of them on sale. Sure, you can buy fancy lace-lined linen cloth napkins, but a couple small 4-packs of barcloths work just as well for everyday, non-dinner-party days. If you’re willing to spend a little more money (or are very crafty), some businesses sell rolls of reusable towels that come in rolls like paper towels but Velcro together, so you can still keep a roll out on your counter.
Cloth diapers instead of disposables—Don’t leave! Don’t stop reading yet! Cloth diapers have come a really long way in the last ten to twelve years or so. There’s no need for pins and plastic pants—modern cloth diapers can come all in one piece and snap or Velcro together. They’re just as easy to use as disposables, but are reusable! You needn’t use them all the time, either—we use cloth at home and disposables while we’re out and about. Any little bit of money saved is… well… money saved.
Handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex—Disposable tissues definitely have their place. I shudder to think of the crazy germs that would be spread if we made every school child use handkerchiefs instead of tissues in the classroom! But think about using handkerchiefs at home for everyday use instead of tissues. They may even be gentler on your poor, chafed nose than tissues!
What other reusable products do you use around your home instead of disposables?
We may not spend a whole lot on clothes. We may buy them on sale or in a thrift shop. They can be off brand names. We’ll do whatever we can (within reason) to save on clothing. The savings don’t stop there. We will even find a way to save money by getting more use out of our old clothes.
Damaged Pants Into Shorts
We all have a pair of pants with holes in the knees from working or playing hard. We can patch up the holes if we want, but I just turn them into shorts. I cut the leg off just above the hole. Then double roll the bottom of each leg to hide the frayed part. If you want you can even sew the roll in place so that you don’t have to roll it every time you wear your new shorts.
Old Shirts Into Night Clothes
Old t-shirts or dress shirts can find a new life as night clothes. For the most part it doesn’t matter what we wear to bed so long as it is climate friendly. We can wear our old clothes to be and no one will see that old stain or little rip in the hem. Little ones also benefit from adult t-shirts as night clothes. They end up working as full length night gowns depending on the clothing sizes of the child and adult in question.
Socks and Gloves
Old gloves or socks can be used as dusting or polishing mitts in the living room. They can be used as wash cloths in the shower. They can be used as craft supplies to make puppets. Pantyhose and tights can be used for puppets of coupled with a frame to make rackets. Socks and pantyhose both can be rolled and sewn into balls to go along with the homemade rackets.
Families everywhere are wondering what to have for dinner. You want something fast and easy and nutritious and don’t want to have to run out for fast food. You you really need is a classic meal that take little time to make. Here is an idea to help you achieve that ideal.
You will need:
1 can of stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil
1/2 a box of lasagna noodles
2 cups of your cheese of choice, shredded
1 pot, for boiling your noodles
1 casserole dish
First boil the lasagna noodles on high for twenty minutes, or until you have tender noodles. If you’re working with a smaller casserole dish, later you’ll need to break the noodles in half. While your noodles are boiling put your can of tomatoes in the blender and puree. This is also a good time to shred the your cheese if you aren’t using pre-shredded cheese. Preheat the oven to 350* F.
After your noodles are done boiling start to layer your noodles, tomato puree, and cheese. You’ll only need two or three layers. Place the finished product in the preheated oven for fifteen minutes to heat up the sauce and melt your cheese. When the timer goes off, remove your lasagna and let it cool for five minutes. From beginning to end your homemade lasagna should have taken forty to forty five minutes to make. It should be able to feed four to six people.
There are a number of variations that can be made on this simple recipe. You can add extra cheese if you are a cheese fanatic. You can also mix cheese rather than just have your standard mozzarella. You can also add a fourth ingredient such as spinach, ground beef, or a can of chicken. This can round out your meal and make it more filling.