Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Resource Wednesday.

Resource Wednesday:
Magazines, Websites, and Blogs.
We all love the latest news, fashion, and food magazines-But some of them command a hefty price.  Our local post office has a magazine exchange box in the lobby. (Thanks Shelly!) It ROCKS!~ Everything from Family Circle to ESPN will show up in the bin.  I usually read them and take them back to recycle for the next person to read.  Online journaling and magazines are on Face book and Twitter where if you like and follow you can get the latest information right to you newsfeed. Like one today! Here’s a list of my favorites:
1.        Mary Jane’s Farm:
2.       Shape Magazine:
3.       Budget Traveler:
4.       Mary Engelbreit:
5.       Crockpot Girls:
6.       Money Saving Secrets Blog:
Another AWESOME idea are Newspapers online. Some of the most interesting newspapers are going to be the ones in your own back yard. Do a search online and find the best sites that will give you the information to lead to a more blissful life.
“I’ve never made a mistake. I’ve only learned from experience.”
Thomas A. Edison

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Artist: Hands, Head and Heart.

A woman who works with her hands is a LABORER; a woman who works with her hands and head, a CRAFTSMAN; but a woman who works with her hands, her head and her heart is an ARTIST.”
 ~ St. Francis of Assisi

It is amazing to me how often, and how easy, it is that I find myself mindlessly working only with my hands as a “laborer”. There really is no reason for it. My heart waits patiently to be included in the decisions that my head has already decided upon.  However, it is in those magical moments when as St. Francis puts it that the “hands, head and heart” come together that a miracle begins to unfold.
Have you noticed, no matter what the situation, when you are engaged in working on something with your hands-cooking, fishing, or gardening- that you head calms down into a serene place, and your heart has a chance to blossom. In the words of Joseph Campbell this is your “Bliss”. Follow your “Bliss” and you are following your calling. What brings you both peace and excitement? That is your bliss; Follow it.
Every encounter that you experience brings opportunity. Find the meaning in the moment. You were brought to the person standing in front of you in line at the checkout for a reason. Life is magnificent! Smile and enjoy the moment that you’re in. That being said- How are you better managing your budget so that you can give back to others?
Is debt hanging over your head? Or are you Debt FREE? Doesn’t that sound marvelous: Debt FREE? That is the goal. Not only to be debt free, but to be free from debt so that we can give back to others-Time Talent and Treasure. There is one more day until the No Spend Month Challenge of September. One day until the $15 a day game plan for everything! Bring on the savings. ~ Join me during the journey towards the $1,000 savings goal! ~  We are all artists: Hands, Head AND Heart!
"Be assured that it gives much more pain to the mind to be in debt, than to do without any article whatever which we may seem to want."
 ~Thomas Jefferson -In letter to his daughter.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Photo by Tammy Bennett©
Contentment is not concerned with material things, but is rather a state of mind.  Rich or Poor satisfaction begets contentment.  Plenty equals abundance, which is happiness defined.” -Tammy Bennett
 My coffee was brewing in the house as I slipped on my muck boots and headed toward the chicken coop with anticipation of what I might find.  I reached into the pen and discovered that there were 5 eggs waiting for me.  Since I own 10 chickens I usually get 10 eggs a day. Should I be disappointed that half of my flock didn’t produce? Or be thrilled that 5 eggs would be more than enough for my daily needs. What would I even do with 10 eggs?  I have “plenty”.  There is no need for more. I am content, and it is a very peaceful place to be.
I used to get a large vanilla iced coffee from McDonalds on my way to, and from, work (totaling approx. $6.75 daily). It has crossed my mind that I might like to go through the drive through and get another, because I WANT one. So, this morning I went out on a limb and tried to make my own iced coffee at home. You’ll never believe it, but mine was better! AND I save nearly $7!  I used the leftover coffee from the morning, poured over ice, added a dash of vanilla, sugar and topped with half and half. Stir. Yummy! It really was. So I started to think about Chinese food, Pizza, Steak house baked potatoes, and Blizzards. Could I make these too? It just may be easier than you think. Recipes online abound, experimenting with food is fun! Get the family involved in selecting their favorite restaurant foods and then recreate it for pennies on the dollar-it is a fun challenge.
In four short days it will be September- a no spend month in our household. I’ve been baking and freezing in order to have a surplus of food- from the ingredients that I’ve purchased at a discount.  I was able to get an entire bin of broccoli- 65 heads for .35 cents each yesterday, that is a total of only $21. I now have enough broccoli until April, 2012. Having a surplus brings contentment. Broccoli soup, chicken and broccoli, quiche, broccoli and velveta, broccoli and dip, broccoli salad....
Life is an awesome adventure. We have been given plenty. It is a choice to be content.
"When you can think of yesterday without regret and tomorrow without fear, you are near contentment."- Unknown


Thursday, August 25, 2011

From Plenty to Surplus

Live Your Life as a Miracle-
It’s easy to be positive when things are abundant and life is going your way. Smiles come easily and happiness is all around us. However, character is built in disappointment.  I believe that things aren’t always going to go as hoped.  What happens, what’s your reaction when they don’t? Anyone can be a pleasant person when there’s a surplus and plenty-but how do you handle when there’s a famine?
From Plenty to Surplus-
Many of us have been in a perceived famine.  If you're not in one now, chances are you’ve experienced what it’s felt like before. Well what if we lived for one month with the creativity and ingenuity it would take to live on less-even if we currently have plenty-in order to build a surplus? September is going to be that month for me. Beginning September 1st, I will attempt to live on just $105 a week. Using the envelope system, I will place $15 in seven individual envelopes. I will top off my gas for the month. My freezer is full. I will attend a produce auction this Friday. Then the month will begin. You can follow along here day by day as I progress through the four weeks.  My goal is $1,000.00 surplus.
I would like to be in the position to give back to others- volunteering time, talent AND treasure-Paying it forward. Share.
There is a short story at the end of my daughter’s speech that she is delivering today in San Francisco, CA :
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.

 The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

"I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone."
"The Wise Woman's Stone"
 Author Unknown

It’s that “something” that makes our ordinary lives extraordinary. Live your life as though every encounter is a miracle because it is…

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Exercise in a Minute.

Exercise in a Minute.

We have all been in the situation where we intend to do something-and it never gets done. In that moment of intention we are excited and motivated! So what happens?
I signed up for a 5K race with experienced runners.  They encouraged me to set a date to compete, and then build up to the 5K, beginning with a walk/jog. I thought this sounded GREAT! Surely if I laid down my $25 entry fee, got a hotel for NYC, and bought new sneakers I would work out daily! My excitement lasted about 2 weeks. Then distractions, feigned exhaustion, and really fun activities caused me to “not have the time today.”  This really should NOT be an option. The best time to exercise for me is as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning. At that moment, first thing in the morning,   intention and the motivation need to get together, or the rest of the day is out. So how can I make this happen, EVERY day? Not just when I’m in the mood….
Here is my plan:
·         Charge mp3 player-set on the bed stand
·         Lay out shorts, sneakers and socks for the morning
·         Get coffee in the coffee pot so I only have to hit start
·         Measure distances on the road- so there is an exact route, mileage, and time
·         Have a water bottle ready in the fridge
Today, I will jog.  (Still walking some) But I will be out on the trail, moving. The plan is to go 8.8 miles. I will only be able to jog approx. 2 miles of it. It is better than making excuses! Tomorrow is the beginning of a new week, but I’ve made the commitment to begin today. J

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”~ Goethe

Friday, August 19, 2011

Preparing for the September "No Spend Month" : Stocking the Staples.

Speaking of wants vs. needs….Laundry Detergent and Toilet Paper certainly fall into the needs category in my world. J This week Purex laundry detergent met my rock bottom price list sheet at $1.49 a bottle with a .50 coupon.  (or $1.99 with no coupon).  Toilet tissue was $4.99 for 12 double rolls! (plus marked packages had 20% more for the same price!) Why do I get excited about these prices? Shouldn’t I just go to the store and buy it when I need it? Doesn’t 10 packages of T.P. clutter my house? Or 16 bottles of Purex make my shelves too heavy?
Gathering non-perishable items at their rock bottom prices is the only way to prepare for a no spend month! The regular price of Purex is $5.99. Therefore the savings on one bottle is $4. If you buy 16 bottles that’s a $64 savings!! The same with toilet tissue when it is half off!!! It won’t go bad, and you have it handy. I am now stocked up until after Christmas!
I have decided that I will be buying some things in bulk. Flour, potatoes, onions, rice and yeast are some of the things that I would like to store in bins. Buying these items in bulk will save immensely! Think about how much we pay for prepackaged flavored rice! $1.49 a pkg. You can make the same for .25 cents! Is it easier to just buy it? Yes. Does it take THAT much longer to just make it yourself? No. Pocket the $1.24 savings for something fun for you or your family! ($1.24 adds up quickly J ) Or use it to get out of debt. The point is you’ll find that you have extra $ for only a few more minutes of your time. Nine chances out of ten you’ll be eating better too!
I must hit the produce auction in one of our small towns. The farmers come to sell their surplus in bulk to those of us eagerly waiting to bid. The items go for less than at the farmers market, and it blesses me with the opportunity to freeze for the winter!
So in summary: No need for laundry detergent, Toilet Tissue, or fruits and vegetables until January. The chickens are laying eggs and my own vegetables, apples, grapes, and raspberries are coming on strong in the yard. Life is Good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 197-Preparing for the September Financial Fast.

Day 197-Frugal Franny says that it is not easy to swim upstream! I’m thinking about my upcoming frugal fast in September and it makes me shiver and squirm.  When I go back to the $15 a day for spending…. what will happen is I will take $105 from our checking. Place the money divided $15 a piece into envelopes, and then I will make it work with that amount each day for 1 week at a time. I will top off the gas in my car at the beginning of September one time. Meaning I get a full tank to stretch for the duration of the month (4 weeks). I use up what we have in the cupboards, don’t travel where I go beyond my gas limitations, and will basically spend only $420 for the WHOLE month!
This isn’t for everyone. However, I would like to get completely OUT OF DEBT! Not owe a soul a thing! I’m not sure how long this will take….but it is a worthy effort. On top of this I would like to do this while having FUN! I like to be rewarded for my efforts J Don’t you? So I’ve decided that whatever extra that I have left at the end of the week goes into a “Have a Great Time on Me Fund.” Not a Savings, Not a Debt Payoff account. Just a Here’s your reward for making it through the week with a surplus! So what’s left after I’ve cooked from scratch, played Yatzee, Flew a kite, went water hiking, a bike ride, a mountain hike and watched free movies from the Blockbuster machine and library… mine for the gas tank to travel to stay over at free rooms eating discounted food anywhere I want to go, and this includes flying off somewhere if I can get that discounted too. J Now this is just for the surplus from the $105 in the envelopes. Through budgeting spending weekly in envelopes this leaves more in the checkbook for savings, and debt relief.....but if I do really well with the $105 the leftover is mine! 
I like sweepstakes! I like to enter at My Coke Rewards every day. If I didn’t enter the sweeps I would probably have enough points for a $100 gift card. If you drink coke products, including Dasani Water, you should definitely be adding your points for profits J These sorts of things keep one hopeful for free, in a sense you can get the thrill of playing a game, like the gamblers do …but for free! Not a penny spent, but just as fun…entering promotions to win! Have I ever won? Yes, Yes I have.  J I’ll save the list of winnings for another time.
So I know the amount of debt that I want to get out from under. Do You? Check it out… brave! Add it up… Then begin to utilize the envelopes. Save your change, and build your savings. The leftover from the envelopes is fair game in my world. It brings a certain sense of control…..if you spend it now, go nowhere later.  This isn’t necessary but voluntary. My freezers are full before the financial fast. We run a surplus every month. However, we are not debt free. I have a mortgage and student loans. This is self imposed, and a form of fun and challenge for me. I hope you are enjoying the journey to financial freedom as much as I am J

Day 196- On becoming a Fit Frugal Franny

Good morning. Welcome to the new Blog. This is Day 196 of my journey to becoming a Fit & Fun Frugal Franny. Some may think that makes me a little well "cheap", but It's my hope that you will think it makes me savvy ;) Let's start by recapping my first day of "notebook" journaling some 196 days ago. Here is the very first log entry for you. Welcome to the ongoing journey:

Day 1-

It's easier to get dressed for the mall than it is for church.  Have you ever noticed that? If this path to frugality is going to work, then giving back and spirituality (filling up) will be the things that see me through.  This would require time however, something that I haven't had the last 2.5 years...

There are no more excuses.
More Money or More Time? That is the question. Live a life on $15 a day.  Happy, Healthy and Living with Less Stress....More time and a small savings? Let's give it a whirl.

It's the 21st century, are you living the life you've always wanted? Debt FREE?
I'm beginning my writings as my children are growing older and I'm seriously facing the prospect of an empty nest for the first time.  Having been a stay at home mom, for the most part, who worked on her education while having several part-time jobs through the 90's- this now, the first 10 years of the twenty-first century, I find myself at a crossroads. 

I'm arriving at this juncture with a Masters Degree in Education and several credits of my PhD program under my belt. I'm 40 years old.  I've decided for the next one and half years to look at the age old question: "More time or More money?" Especially if you are at a place where it is impossible to have both. Kudos to those of you who do ;)

Which road Time or money is the best road to travel, and what are the outcomes of each? Can the average family have both? Hmmmm I wonder... 

I'm coming off of a semester of teaching at university, taking a full load of doctoral studies, traveling and trying to be a wife and mother. I discovered that it was impossible for me personally to do it ALL, and do it well.  So here I am, at a crossroads. Wondering about the quality of life that could be lived on $15 a day.

That was day one. We are now at day 196 of the Fit Frugal Franny journey. Still plugging away, learning much, still in prayer, my daily journal question: Save to save? or Save to spend? September will be a no spend month for me. I will revert back to the $15 a day plan for one month.

"Am I willing to give up what I have in order to be what I am not yet? Am I able to follow the spirit of love into the desert? It is a frightening and sacred moment. There is no return. One's life is charged forever..." Mary Richards~