Penny Pinching Tip – Split Your Meal

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Penny Pinching Tip - Split Your Meal

We don’t eat out at restaurants very often, but when we do, I’m blown away by how large the portion sizes are. I typically find myself eating out while on vacation {for obvious reasons!}, so I’m lucky that The Girl is always with me because we love to share meals.

Sharing meals is perfect in so many ways, not the least of which is I actually end up eating the correct portion size. If you dine out and split a meal, you’ve automatically cut 50% off your bill. I might not be good at math, but that one wasn’t rocket science. If we both order water {which we both prefer with our meals over soda}, we can usually get out of a restaurant for the price of one diner.

Seems like a pretty darn simple way to save if you find yourself eating outside your own kitchen.

Do you think that’s crazy? Not really the sharing type? Or do you have a sharing buddy when you dine out, too?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



20 Tips for Frugal Living

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20 Tips for Frugal Living

I feel like I am always looking for new ways to save money.  For me, the more money I save, the more I have to travel and use to do things I really I want to do.  The key, I think to living frugally, is to not FEEL like you are living without.  Most of the time, saving money just requires a little extra time and diligence–not sacrifice, if that makes sense?  If you are looking to shave a little money off of your monthly expenditures, or even better, free money up to do rad things, here are some tips {hopefully there will be some you aren’t already using}:

  1. Have a budget and stick to it.  Make sure to integrate frivolous spending/fun money into your budget, or you will feel like you are suffering.  When the fun money is gone, the fun is over for the month.  Plain and simple.
  2. It’s the little steps that add up.  There isn’t one big money saving tip that will yield tons of savings.  Be diligent about all of the little savings…pennies will turn into dollars in the long run.
  3. Embrace the DIY mentality.  YouTube is there for a reason–you can pretty much learn to do anything there.  Fix your own stuff, bake your own bread, do your own nails, etc.
  4. Turn money saving methods into hobbies:  garden, ride your bike for pleasure and transportation, etc.
  5. Embrace the library and swapping with friends.  No need to buy a new video game, DVD, or book.  Swap with friends or reserve it at your local library.  It’s free, and although it isn’t instant gratification, in the long run, savings will seriously add up.
  6. Sell what you don’t need.  Sell unwanted clothes at consignment shops and books and DVD’s to used book/movie dealers.  Old electronics can usually be turned into cash too.  Get rid of the clutter and turn it into cash.  Have a garage sale for a one time purge and earn.
  7. Buy used.  You can find really high quality clothing at the right consignment stores, and if you have even the slightest bit of vision, you can turn old furniture into custom awesomeness.
  8. Pay yourself first.  I’m sure you have heard this, but really, set up auto withdraw for EACH of your savings categories {Christmas, travel, savings, retirement, etc.}.  That way, the money won’t even be a temptation for frivolous spending.
  9. Downsize.  You may be able to afford the monthly mortgage on a bigger house, but have you ever added up the maintenance costs.  The bigger the house, the more maintenance.  It’s simple math–when there is 2 bathrooms, instead of 4, there are less pipes to fix, etc.  Downsize and I guarantee you won’t spend as much time at Home Depot.
  10. Move to one car.  This is a big one and it isn’t for everyone, but the savings are exponential, if you a can take the plunge.  You will have one less car payment, less insurance costs, less maintenance costs, less gas costs.  It really is astounding how quickly this will lead to savings.  Plus, if you are walking and/or biking places as a result, you may be able to cancel that gym membership.
  11. Rent instead of own your home.  I know, this is blasphemy to some, but hear me out.  Renting means zero maintenance costs {usually}, it means no property taxes, and it means no loan interest.  Of course, you won’t own your home in the end–but since very few people are staying put long enough to pay off a 30 year mortgage and then live out their days, the cost of home ownership might not be worth it.
  12. Eat at home.  This is a biggie.  I know a lot of you already do this, but seriously, you can easily spend $100 for a family of 4 at a sit down restaurant.  That is insane, if you calculate how many meals you could actually make for $100.
  13. Bring your lunch to work.  It sucks not to go out with your co-workers at lunch time, but the savings are substantial.  I make the HH lunch everyday, and if I ever sat down to add up how much that has saved us over the years, I think the number would be jaw dropping.
  14. Minimalize your clothing.  Clothing is expensive.  Having tons of it or keeping up with every fashion trend gets really expensive.  Choose a classic style and have enough, no more, no less.
  15. Stay out of the stores.  This is a big one.  I think shopping only at Costco this year will actually keep me from making those impulse purchases.  Target is particularly bad for this one for me–those stupid markdown end caps will get ya.
  16. Eliminate cable.  With Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, there really are plenty of options that will cost you about $10 a month to watch t.v.  Most cable bills are at least $60.  That’s $50 a month in your pocket.  Not too shabby.
  17. Cancel your gym membership and hit Pinterest for great body weight workouts.
  18. Plan errands carefully.  Plan your route down to the very last turn, and you  can save tons on time and gas.
  19. Cut utilities.  Get a programmable thermostat and set the temps lower when you are not home.  Wash clothes in cold.  Use a single bulb lamp instead of turning on the overhead light with 4-5 bulbs.  Don’t heat/cool the rooms you are not using–close the door and the vents to those rooms.
  20. Have a meatless meal once or twice a week.  Meat is expensive.  Having a meatless meal even just 2 times per week, assuming $5.00 for the meat can easily shave $40.00 off of your monthly food budget.

I know there are literally hundreds of ways to save money, right down to the tiniest detail.  Do you live frugally?   What are YOUR favorite tips?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Penny Pinching Tip – Hang Your Jeans to Dry

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jeansI am equal parts passionate about saving money and saving the environment. I’m not always perfect when it comes to either, but when I find an idea that kills two bird with one stone, I’m all over that.

So let’s talk about your jeans. A study done by Levi Strauss on their 501 jeans revealed that manufacturing and ultimately washing a pair of their jeans produces 32 kg of CO2 during its lifetime {the equivalent of driving 78 miles in an average car}; consumes 3,000 liters of water {the equivalent of taking a 7- minute shower every day for almost two months}; and consumes 400 mega-joules of energy {enough to power a personal computer for 556 hours, or more than three months for six hours a day}. Wow. Just wow.

I already wash my jeans in cold water to save money and wash them as infrequently as possible, so now I’m going to jump on the “hang to dry” bandwagon {is that a bandwagong? If not, it totally should be!} in an effort to save a little more.

Do you dry your clothes on a line or in the dryer or a little of both?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

12 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

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12 Ways to Reduce Your Heating BillLast month when I opened my heating bills {gas and electric}, I seriously nearly had an aneurysm right in the middle of my kitchen.  $300 for gas and $100 for electric.  Let me tell you, Bob, ever since I’ve been on a mission to get those numbers down.  $400 a month seems outrageous.  I’ve done Shy of making everyone where their Snuggie and snow boots everywhere in the house, I’ve researched and made some tweaks to our basic habits.

Let’s just say that I spend my days circling around the mailbox in anticipation of those bills.  I really hope our my efforts have paid off…

  1. Drop the thermostat at night and throw an extra blanket on the bed.  Colder temperatures activate our brown fat anyway…you’re practically doing your body a favor {not to mention your pocketbook}.
  2. Wash clothes in cold.  Heating water is EXPENSIVE, and most clothes do not need to be sanitized.  Your clothes will last longer anyway.
  3. Make sure you aren’t heating the outdoors {my dad would be so proud that I just typed that}.  Make sure doors are sealed, check the space under doors leading to the outside, and caulk around outside windows.  There is no reason to pay for heat that you are literally throwing out the window.
  4. After you bake dinner, leave the oven cracked.  You paid for that 350 degrees, you might as well let it spill out and warm up the kitchen.
  5. In the late afternoon/early evening, begin dropping the heat.  Use a space heater for the area the family will spend the evening.
  6. Make sure to switch the direction you ceiling fans turn and turn them on.  A clockwise turn will push warm air back into circulation.  {Did you know that?!  I totally just learned it in my research.  Don’t ask me to explain the science behind it, though.}
  7. Change your furnace filter regularly.  Making sure your furnace is running at maximum efficiency is just a no-brainer.
  8. Make sure to religiously stick to the basics:  turn all lights off when not in the room, try to make do with daylight during the day, etc.
  9. Stick to 5 minute showers.  I know it feels awesome to stand under the hot water on a cold day, but again, heating water is expensive.  As the cherry on top, you’ll also save money on water.  {Meanwhile, I have a friend who purposely showers at her gym to save money on hot water.   I get it, but it makes me chuckle.}
  10. If you have an attic door in your house, staple some insulation to the inside of the door.  A lot of heat is lost to that opening–and unless you are looking to heat the rafters, it’s kind of a waste.
  11. Turn down the water heater temperature.  Instead of constantly having 140 degree water at your fingertips–try turning it down to 120 degrees.
  12. Invest in a programmable thermostat.  You really only need to heat the house to comfort when you are home.  If you leave during the day, you might as well drop that sucker way down, and in the interest of comfort, you can program it to begin getting warm again about an hour before you get home.  That way, it’s pretty painless.

I’ll keep you posted on how much of a difference these all made.  Meanwhile, make sure to share any tips and tricks that I have missed–I’m in crisis mode here!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Penny Pinching Tip – Prepare Your Own Fruits and Vegetables

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pineappleSometimes buying the prepacked fruits and veggies is tempting. It’s just so stinkin easy to have someone else do what you know you can do for yourself. And I think there is a time and a place for that, but it will cost you. If you take the time to prepare fruits and veggies yourself, you’ll save big time.

Take the pineapple above for example. Costco had them on sale for $2.99 the other day. So I bought one, lugged it home and took a few minutes {5 tops} to cut and chop my way to some delicious pineapple. I put it in my own reusable container and plopped it in the fridge.save money on fruits Now take a look at the pricing above. For that very same amount of pineapple it would have cost me $7.99. WHAT? Seriously! For 5 minutes of my time I’m saving 62%. Now that’s my kind of savings for putting in a little elbow grease.

Do you buy prepacked fruits and veggies for the convenience? Do you think it’s worth the price?

~ Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Penny Pinching Tip – Get the Most Out of Your Pasta Jars

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Penny Pinching TipAs I’m sure you know by now, one of my biggest pet peeves is food waste. I don’t care if it is on a large scale or on a teeny tiny scale like I’m about to talk about, I can’t stand it. So I’m here to let you in on an easy peasy way to get rid of a food waste culprit: the remnants of the pasta jar!

When I’ve dumped out the contents of a jar of pasta {or even a can of chili or soup}, I can’t stand to throw the jar away with all that sauce still stuck to the sides. It might not be much, but that’s food I’d be tossing! So I use a simple trick my mom taught me years ago: swirl some water in the jar, close the lid, give it a good shake,  dump it back in with the rest of the sauce and BOOM, no more remnants.

Please tell me there’s someone else out there that uses this little trick?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

8 Tips for Building Good Credit While in College

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8 Tips for Building Good Credit While in College

Now that The Girl is in college, I have started to realize that there are a lot of little details to beginning adulthood that I just never thought about as a mom.  Right now, she is in the dorms, but eventually, I imagine she’ll want to move off campus and rent a place.  Renting usually requires a credit score.  Moving off campus means she may need to buy a car.  Unless she has the cash, she’ll need a credit score.  These next couple of years really are a chance for her to set herself up for adulthood in a responsible way.  Building her credit in a way that doesn’t land her in credit counseling later seems like a pretty good thing, so I’ve kind of started guiding her through the process.

If you are in college {or you have a college student} now is the time to create a solid foundation.  Here’s a couple of tips to get you started:

  1. Start with a basic no-fee credit card.  PAY IT OFF EVERY MONTH.  Don’t get into the habit of carrying a balance.  Paying interest on a lifestyle you can’t afford is stupid.  Paying if off in full every month will boost your credit score big time.
  2. Pay all of your bills on time.  If you have a car payment already, or even just insurance on a car, make sure to pay it on time.  Cell phone bills count too, so keep up to date on them.
  3. Don’t ever co-sign for friends.  If you have credit and friends want to take some out, resist the urge to help them out.  That’s why they have parents.  You could seriously get burned this way.  Better just to avoid it and keep the friendship intact.
  4. Don’t apply for several lines of credit at the same time.  Every time you apply for credit, it will affect your credit score.  Applying for too much in a short window will really affect it.
  5. Be smart with student loans.  Don’t take out more than you need and have a plan to pay them back.
  6. If you don’t want a conventional credit card, try starting with a gas card.  You’ll save money at the pump, and as long as you PAY IT OFF EVERY MONTH, you’ll build credit.
  7. Check your credit score yearly.  It may not seem like a priority now, but identity theft is a pain in the butt.  Better to catch it, or any other errors, early.
  8. Keep your mailing address up to date.  As college students move home for the summer and then into new apartments each fall, one of the things they often forget to do is change their mailing address with creditors.  Creditors don’t care if you didn’t get the bill due to a mailing address error, you credit will be affected irregardless.  So, keep a list of all of the places you need to contact every time you change addresses.

Becoming financially responsible and independent is like that final push into adulthood.  Doing is right only makes your life easier in the long run {and short run for that matter}.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Penny Pinching Tip – Using Butter Wrappers to Grease Pans

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using butter wrappers to grease pans

When it comes to saving money, it’s not just one thing that adds to huge savings, it’s tons of little tiny actions/methods that add up over time.  I learned this tip from my grandmother, and while I know some of you already use it, I thought I would share, in the off chance it might be life changing for one of you. :)

Next time you finish a stick of butter, instead of tossing the wrapper in the bin or compost pile, place it in a ziploc bag in the fridge.  Then, the next time  you need to grease a pan, take the butter wrapper out of the bag and smear the leftover butter remnants all over the pan.  You don’t have to use any additional butter, AND you get one more use out of the wrapper.  Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm inside?  I thought so.

Now go forth and save, fellow penny pinchers.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Penny Pinching Tip – Freeze the Tops of Your Peppers

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penny pinching use the whole pepper

Did I ever tell you that when I was 19, I worked at Subway sandwiches for like 5 bucks an hour? Well I did. The pay wasn’t much but I received a free sandwich every shift and got to flirt with all the cute guys that walked through the door each day so it wasn’t all that bad. True, I did have to wear an itchy green visor and plastic gloves, but it was actually kind of a fun job.

ANYWHO…. one of the things I learned while working at Subway was how to cut a pepper properly. Basically, slice the top of the pepper off as close to the stem as possible, pull the core out {and toss it into the compost bin} and then slice the thing up. Everybody does that, right?  Wrong!

slicing a red pepper

Maybe you think this is a totally lame tip, and honestly, it never occurred to me write about it before because it’s something I’ve done forever, but last month when Mrs. Hillbilly was over for my big Freezer Meal Party, I put her in charge of chopping the sweet peppers for our Sweet and Sour Meatballs dish. Much to my do not waste food horror, I looked backed from the kitchen and witnessed her chopping off the tops of the peppers and then tossing them into the garbage can {Yes, Mrs. H.B. I am totally outing you!!!}.

penny pinching use the whole pepper

Do you throw away the tops of your peppers too? Or are you a penny pincher like me and toss the tops into a baggie to use in other recipes later? I mean, you paid for it, so why waste it right?

~ Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

15 Ways to Stop Spending Money

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15 Ways to Stop Spending Money

Okay, so now that the holidays are over are you pouring over your credit card statements wondering how you are ever going to catch up?  Honestly, I think it’s the worst to feel stressed out by money problems—it makes everything in life feel overwhelming.

If you are trying to catch up, here are a couple of tips to help you stop spending and get you back in the black.  Think of them as steps toward good health, because let’s face it, stress is a drag.

  1. Stay out of the stores.  Seriously, limit the temptation and just stay out.  I guarantee that if you look hard enough, you will find an amazing deal every time you walk into a store.  Even great deals cost money, though, so if you’re looking to save, it’s best to avoid them all together.
  2. Decide on a recreational activity other than shopping.  I know tons of people who “go shopping” for something to do.  Try coming up with something else to replace the habit with when you get the urge.  Choose a new t.v. series to watch, pick up knitting, exercise…whatever, just do it every time you get the urge until it becomes your new go-to when you are bored.
  3. Be honest with yourself about needs vs. wants.  I know we have all heard of this before, but how often are we honest about it?  Next time something breaks and you are looking to replace it, ask yourself, “Can I live without it?”  The answer might surprise you.
  4. Issue yourself a 30 day challenge.  30 day challenges are all the rage right now, so you will be soooo cutting edge if you try it.  Try to go 30 days spending money on NEEDS only.  Make a list of the wants that you forego—if at the end of 30 days, they still seem important, consider them.
  5. Make a list.  Stick to your shopping list.  Impulse purchases, even at the grocery store, really add up.
  6. Consider simplifying and minimalizing.  I know this one kind of sounds weird, but when you simplify your life by eliminating clutter, it really highlights just how crazy our spending can sometimes get.  Force yourself to sell, trash, or donate unused items.  It will give you something to do and make you really face your purchases head on.
  7. Go cash only for a month.  Ask a friend to hold your credit cards.  Use only cash and see how well you do when you can see the finite amount dwindling.
  8. Ask yourself if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt when it comes to shopping or actually owning and using the item.  If it is the first, you may want to evaluate what need your really fulfilling {not trying to go all therapist on you there}.
  9. Start a spending moratorium with a group of friends.  Meet once a week to go over budgets, etc.  It will help you stay accountable, plus it will give you a social event to look forward to each week.  Several years ago, Oprah showed a group of women doing this—they were each saving money for different reasons—they made it sound actually kind of fun.
  10. If you don’t shop for you, but instead like to give gifts to others to show your love, consider coming up with new ways to show love–offer services and emotional support instead, or even better, offer your uninterrupted time.
  11. Make a spending savings account.  Every time the urge to spend something that  isn’t a “need” strikes, write it down in a little notebook instead of purchasing.  Include EVERYTHING from a coffee to a new shirt.  At the end of the month, you will have a really concrete idea of how much money you are spending on unnecessary items.  The number might shock you.
  12. Use cash and take only the amount of money you need into a  store.   While it isn’t always possible to know exactly how much you will need, you can usually estimate pretty close.  If you aren’t carrying enough cash to cover extras, you simply won’t put them in the cart.
  13. If a spending freeze is impossible, decide how much “extra” money you will get a month.  When that money is gone, the spending for the month is done too.
  14. Consider quitting possible addictions–if you are a junk food junkie, gambler or a smoker, the costs add up.  Quitting will put a major halt on spending.
  15. Become addicted to saving instead of spending.  Spending is a habit, just like saving is a habit.  Repeat the habits long enough, and they will stick.  Make a conscious choice to replace old habits with better ones.

Financial freedom is a really big deal.  While money can’t buy happiness, being responsible with it certainly can.  Stressing over money just isn’t worth the toll it takes on relationships, your mental and physical well-being, and your overall goals.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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