Saturday, July 30, 2011

Breaking the chains of debt!

You guys already know that Jason and I are working hard on becoming debt free. A while back I thought of something (possibly silly) that I could do that would give us visual encouragement on our progress. I made a paper chain (I tapped into my inner child) out of red paper! Each link in the chain represents $1,000 of what we have left on our mortgage. As we pay on the mortgage and move our balance down, we get to take off links in the chain.

I know it probably sounds silly and stupid, but you would be really surprised at how much of a kick we get out of tearing the links off and seeing the chain get smaller. Thinking about paying a mortgage off can seem like an overwhelming task, but having something that represents that goal that you can hold in your hands and see the progress makes it seem easier to accomplish. It's just like when you made paper chains in school to countdown for Christmas or summer break. The smaller the chain gets, the more excited you become and the more you have to look forward to.

There is a lot to be said for "breaking the chains that bind".

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Free Breakfast

I had a nice surprise when I went outside today to get my two newspapers from the AJC, free breakfast. Each newspaper had three single servings of cereal with coupons for those products! That's 6 days worth of breakfast for free plus coupons.

It is said that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but apparently free breakfast is possible. Go figure!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Chicken!

I know it's hard to believe, but we had almost ran out of the chicken from my previous trip. So, I waited for the next sale and was able to get packs of split chicken breast for $.98 per pound. I ended up with 6 packs which turned out to be 24 large chicken breast and I spend around $27.00 for all the chicken.

First, I removed the skin from the breast and then cut the thick breast section off of the bone. That gave me 24 boneless, skinless chicken breast, but I only froze 16 as raw chicken breast to be grilled later.

Next, I took the 8 leftover chicken breast and what was left of the split chicken after I had cut off the breast meat (I call them the carcass) and put them in pots of boiling water to cook.  When they were cook and cooled, Jason and I tore the remaining meat off the bone and broke the cooked breasts into pieces. That gave us over 5 pounds of cooked, shredded chicken breast meat.

I love having these for all kinds of meals like pizza, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, nachos, and the list goes on and on but I'll stop there before I start sounding like Bubba Gump.

I calculated that with both the chicken breast and the cooked chicken, it will give us 18 meals worth of chicken. Not bad for a $27.00 investment and a little time in the kitchen. Plus, it saves me so much time during the busy week. I could kick myself for paying high prices for boneless, skinless chicken in the past when it's so much cheaper to do it this way, plus you get a lot more chicken.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

E-Readers vs. Real Books

I will admit that I sometimes wish I had an e-reader, but there are a few hurdles that I just can't seem to overcome enough to purchase one. I wanted to put some pros and cons down to see how they stack up against each other.

Lighter to hold than real book
Able to hold many books at one time which is more portable
Easy to read at night (has its own light)
Can download free books from library (but nobody I know with these does that)

A little expensive to buy the device
Each book cost an average of $10.00
You probably miss out on great books you wouldn't see by ordered online
There is no resell value to the books
It would be sad to see this replace real books

Real Books:
Don't have to worry about battery life
Can be checked out for free at library or bought very cheaply second hand
Can be resold to make some of your money back if bought
Can carry them places that might damage the electronic devices
Books have history and beauty to them

Bulkier to deal with than e-readers
Need additional light to read at night

I guess from actually putting my thoughts down on paper than I will be sticking with good old-fashioned real books. I have nothing against the e-readers and they seem to be great but at this point I'm just not willing to pay for every book I read then delete it. Maybe at some point I will be, because it being easier on my hands does interest me. I love being able to browse through books and seeing what interest me. Also, if I had e-books what would I put on my bookshelves? Just kidding.

What are your thoughts on the subject.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stay Tuned!

I'm sorry I haven't posted anything lately but I'm a little under the weather. Please hang in there with me because I do have several posts that I'm trying to work on and hope to start getting them out in the next day or two.

I hope everyone is doing well and saving lots of money!

See ya soon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ramblings about us

There is a old song by Barbara Mandrell that says "I was country when country wasn't cool". Well, I've been cheap way before it was chic (or trendy). Of course these days, I feel like it's really more of a necessity than the "in style" thing to do. I really don't know how people that don't use coupons deal with the rising cost of everything. Everything is on the rise but salaries it seems.

I've gotten stuff off the side of the road before (furniture), I've dumpster picked (didn't actually go into the dumpster since the stuff was in front of it), I use coupons, I've sold stuff on Ebay or at yard sales, I've made my own items to use and to sell, and lots of other things all to save money, make money, or for just for the fun of it.

It has been a goal of ours for a long time to be debt free at the earliest age we could and still have what we wanted and needed. I would say that we are lucky though, that we will don't have a ton of wants. We don't have to have the latest and greatest electronics, expensive clothes, etc. It is much more important to me to one day have the financial freedom to do whatever we want than to have every got gadget known to man.

That's not to say that we don't have cell phones, computers or other technology but we do really get our money's worth out of things. We even try to keep our automobiles as long as we can or shoot for 10 years to get out of them what we've put into them. If you're constantly upgrading and trading things in, you're really losing money and not getting the most out of your investment. I'm willing to spending a little more for an item if I think it will last longer than a similar item that's cheaper.

I feel like we work hard for our money and we want our money to work hard for us too. My advice to anyone would be to really ask yourself if you need something or if you're letting peer pressure or your wants talk you into something to waste your money on?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saving Money By Being Open To All Brands

For the most part, I have no brand loyalty. I will admit there are a handful of items where only a certain brand will do, but all in all I let the coupons and deals lead the way. This has actually worked out very well since I have tried all kinds of new items that I probably wouldn't have tried without the coupons. I have found some new favorite brands and in the process saved a lot of money on groceries.

Different companies at different times will put out great coupons for their products, so if you don't mind using different brands you can rack up a lot of savings by going with the company with the best coupons out at the time.

On the items that you prefer a specific brand, keep any eye out for their coupons and stock up when you see them. You can also write a letter or email to the company to let them know how much you like their product and how loyal you are. Sometimes they will send out great coupons for their products when you do this.

Sometimes even with coupons on the brand named items, the store brand is a better deal. In this case, I'm going with the store brand. The goal isn't to use as many coupons as you can but to get your groceries at the lowest price possible. Whatever the best bottom line is, go with that!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Emergency Fund

With the way things are right now, I think it is very important to have some sort of emergency fund set up. Job aren't as secure as they once were and if something happens to your income it will give you at least a little peace of mind to know you have funds tucked away to get you through for a while.

At one point we had 6 months worth of bill money and expenses in our emergency fund, but recently decided we needed to bump that up to a year's worth if we could. So, we tightened up a little more and instead of paying extra on the mortgage we used that money to beef up our savings. It was hard not to pay anything extra on the mortgage but in the end it was the right thing to do.

I know that we are very fortunate to both have jobs right now and be able pay extra on the mortgage or have money in savings, but we have also been working very hard for a long time to save money and live beneath our means to put ourselves in the best position we could.

If you have the opportunity, put some money aside. I believe every little bit helps. Even if you can't swing a year's worth or 6 months worth of expenses, try for 1 month. Then if you're able to get 1 month's worth, try to add a second month in and go on from there. You will probably be surprised once you go through your finances to see how much to save that you notice areas that you could cut back on.

It could be for peace of mind, unexpected household emergencies or any other situations that having some money set aside will help you to keep your head above water.

You know a lot of the things Jason and I do to minimize our expenses and save money aren't glamorous or sexy but in the end they do give us a sense of security that takes a little stress off our shoulders.

Couldn't we all use a little less stress in our lives?