Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Public Service Announcement on How to React When You Hear People are Divorcing

After I let people know that I was getting divorced, I have to say that I really appreciated how many people just reached out to me and told me that they were there for me. I appreciated (most of ) the comments that people left on my last post, telling me they believed in me, were praying for me, etc...

But I also realized something. Some people don't react the same way. Some people act in ways that I would rather they not act. (Like the person who left a comment saying that I obviously don't respect the sanctity of marriage, and I'm making the biggest mistake of my life, and the only reason I'm getting divorced is because my therapist puffed up my ego too much, and the only valid reason for divorce is if you're beaten senseless.)

Because of how some people reacted when they found out I was getting divorced, I wrote this PSA and I wanted to share it here as well.

When someone tells you they're getting divorced:

Decluttering Tips - Why Storage Containers Make For Great Space-Saving Solutions

I've been working to help people organizer their homes, and one of the biggest things that I tell my clients is that they need containers, because it makes it so much easier to have your house in order if you keep things in containers of similar sizes and dimensions. Here's what a reader has to say about using storage containers.

Storage solutions are the two magical words for anyone looking to declutter their living space. You need to make some hard decisions when you decide to declutter, and take a hardline approach to storage solutions. Fortunately storage containers make doing so incredibly easy, and they can be applied to all rooms and circumstances. Find out what you’re missing out on, and how these containers can add value to your living space.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Excited About All These Free Things

Lately I've been working regularly as a household cleaner part time, and then I'm doing one off organizing jobs for different families as well. In addition to this being a rather well paying job in my area (it makes more per hour than many jobs requiring degrees) I've also discovered that there's one huge perk of this job.

The free things.

Because I'm in people's houses on a regular basis, when they have something they no longer need, instead of posting it on local giveaway groups or bringing it to thrift shops or swaps, I often seem to be given first dibs. Additionally, many times I'm helping people organize things, and as we organize things, they realize they have things that they never use and decide to give them away... and again, guess who gets first dibs? Also, lastly, as someone who is known for being frugal and minimizing waste when I can, there are times that people offer me things that they'd otherwise throw away, like being past the expiration date (which I don't believe in for most things), which definitely ends up to my benefit.

My issue isn't not having enough things, but rather, thinking well about whether or not our family actually needs those things and will use them, or if they'll just become useless clutter in our house. Fortunately everything that we've brought home has been put to use and enjoyed. Many of the things I got free replaced stuff that I would have otherwise needed to buy, so they saved me money.

I took the above picture of things that I came home with in one day, but it's only a small fraction of the free things I've gotten because of my work.

Things I've gotten:

  • A leather rolling office chair (that the family was gifted with and had no room for in their house; my old office chair completely broke so this was very handy)
  • Hand me down clothes for my girls
  • Dress up clothes for my girls
  • A bread box
  • A container for storing cereal
  • A collapsible metal steamer (my old one broke but I didn't know where to get a new one)
  • A mandolin
  • A flour sifter
  • A pie cutter
  • Microwave safe containers
  • A cookie jar
  • Gluten free cereal
  • Pure fruit jam
  • Wine
  • Taco sauce
  • Chocolate hazelnut spread
  • Butterscotch flavoring
  • Bailey's Irish Cream
  • A giant package of plastic wrap
  • 2 giant packages of aluminum foil
  • Cooking bags
And much else...

I'm so glad to be getting all these free things, and I'm appreciative of these perks of my job in addition to the salary I get.

But, why am I posting this? Well, in addition to just being excited to share this bounty with you, I wanted to reiterate things I've written before. Let it be known that you're the type of person that enjoys and appreciates getting free things, and to let you know about things they intend on passing on, and hopefully then too you'll be blessed.

P.S. Don't just be a taker. While I am glad to get free things, I definitely pass on and give away the things in my house that I no longer need. I truly believe what goes around comes around.

Do you often get hand me downs from people, or things that other people are giving away? What types of stuff have you gotten?

Solidifying Your Startup - Encouraging Team Collaboration

Many friends of mine work in start ups, and I hear what wonderful environments they can be to work in. I've been envious of their working conditions because many do wonderful things to encourage team collaboration. While I don't work at a startup, I've worked with many start ups, making fun foraging and cooking events, that are fun days to help promote team cohesiveness. Here's some other ideas from a reader that are great ones to implement in your workplace, even if it isn't a start up.

Startups move quicker than your average business. In fact, sometimes a whole strategy can be created, implemented and then changed in one business day. This sort of environment is fueled by creativity and innovation, but success is dependent on how the machine works together. Don’t let a lack of collaboration cost you the goal of the business, and work to build a team that will act as a unit. Here’s how you solidify your startup by encouraging team collaboration.

My Super Frugal Grocery Shop at "Happy Hour"

Lately my fridge has been remarkably empty. I hurt my foot over a week ago, and even before that I've been very busy with work, so I haven't managed to make it to the open air market for produce, and the stores closer to home have been so incredibly overpriced for produce so I haven't found anything worthy of stocking up on, and just been buying the bare minimum, and I've found it annoying, since an empty fridge stresses me out.

My local discount grocery store is open only Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and lately, a few hours before they close on Friday, they announce a "happy hour" with incredible sales.
I went a different week to "Happy hour" there and got chicken wings for 25 cents a pound! This time, there wasn't that deal, but all produce was 39 cents a pound. Since lately I haven't been able to find anything cheaper than 65 cents a pound, but most closer to 90 cents a pound, I jumped on it.

You see all this produce? That's 90 lbs of it!

It cost me only $35.17!

That's ridiculously little. Especially since most of it was "specialty" produce that usually goes for much more. Kiwis are generally $1.50 a pound and peppers can be up to $1 a pound, so to get all that for 39 cents a pound is amazing.

So what I got, if it isn't clear from the picture, is lots of fennel. 2 full shopping bags of it. Lots of apples. 3 shopping bags full, one of red and two of green. 2 bags filled with persimmons, which was really exciting since I love that fruit and it just now came into season so it's been pricey and I haven't bought it until now. 2 bags of red peppers, my kids' favorite vegetable (as long as its raw). A few large bunches of bananas. 4 boxes of kiwis. 3 packages of corn on the cob. And a bunch of pomegranates.

And the best part about it is these are all in perfect condition, not reduced rack quality.

I feel like I have a cornucopia in my fridge, so overflowing now with produce.

I'm not sure yet if I'm going to preserve any of it, since most of what I got will last a decent amount of time and the stuff that don't last as long, my kids are devouring.

Have you gotten any amazing deals for groceries lately? What is the price point you try to set for yourself when buying produce?

Frugal Ways to Find Unique Games for Your Kids

"Mommy, I'm bored!" is probably a constant refrain in most homes that have kids. Especially if you try to limit the amount of screen time your children have, it's hard to come up with ideas of ways for the children to be entertained, and games can get pricey. Here's some good ideas sent to me by a reader on how to entertain your children with a low price tag.

Play is an important part of growing up, and games give families a unique chance to bond. Unfortunately, however, games can get expensive quick, especially when kids are always looking to refresh their options.

In 2016, the average American household spent $2,913 on entertainment. This total looks small compared to the amount of income spent on bigger items like housing and transportation, but it's a significant amount of money nonetheless.

Even if some families don't spend as much as the national average, it's possible that many still spend more than they would like on entertainment. At the very least, they could probably be getting better deals.

Most households can't afford to spend oodles of money on games and entertainment. But that doesn't mean they can't still have fun. Here are a few simple ways parents can find great games for their kids without emptying their wallets.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Homemade Spiced Sangria Recipe -- Easy, Paleo, All Natural Ingredients

A little while back, I arranged a meet and greet barbecue for the new and old ladies in my community, and I wanted to make some delicious things to serve there, including an alcoholic beverage, while still keeping down the costs. Sangria was what came to mind, a drink made with red wine and fruit, originating in Spain.

There are so many different recipes for sangria, but as long as they have the red wine and fruit they're authentic. While I made my recipe exactly as is written, feel free to play around with your sangria and make it to taste, using what you have available in the house. I made this while summer fruit were still very much in season, but if you don't have summer fruit available, use what you have, or even use canned fruit. Fruits you can use are any berries, apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, pineapple, mango, oranges, grapefruit, persimmons, cranberries, pomegranate, you name it.

I will note that while I used oranges in mine, if you want to let yours sit in the fridge and be able to also eat leftovers, note that fresh oranges or grapefruits will make it more bitter, the longer it sits, so leave out the citrus fruit if you don't like bitter or if you plan on having leftovers.

I added a large variety of spices to mine because I enjoy things that way, but feel free to play around with them or leave them out.

Additionally, I sweetened mine with jaggery syrup; feel free to use honey, coconut sugar, or sugar if you want to. The important thing is that it is sweet enough, not which sweetener you use.

I happened to use brandy since I had some in my house and many recipes for sangria call for brandy, but if you don't have that available, or simply to keep down the costs, feel free to leave that out.

In short, while this recipe was delicious as is, and I got many requests for recipes, this is totally a flexible recipe. Play around with it and make it with what you have available.

To serve this I like to put it in a large bowl with a ladle (punch bowl style) but you can also put it in a pitcher, ideally in a wide mouth, so that the fruit will come out together with the sangria.

Homemade Spiced Sangria Recipe -- Easy, Paleo, All Natural Ingredients

Community Connections - Building Relationships in a New Area

When I first got married and moved to a new community, you have no idea how lonely I was. Not only was I starting off in a place where I didn't know anyone, the fact that I was living in an area with predominantly non English speakers made it even worse. I remember telling my husband then that I wanted to move back to the USA, or at least to a city with a higher percentage of English speakers, since I was so miserable and lonely.
Slowly, I started breaking my way into the community, and then eventually moved to the community next door, where I'd already known people because of my time in the first community. I love my community and I know how hard it is to be a newbie somewhere, and I love that my community has regular get togethers, especially when we hear a lot of new English speakers just moved in. In fact, one of these get togethers is where I served the sangria whose recipe I am sharing in my next post. Additionally, when we bought a house as part of a building project, we moved in around the holidays together with another large group of people. One of the great neighbors brought holiday treats over and knocked on each of the families' doors offering baked goods and to introduce themselves and foster a sense of community
If you aren't as lucky as the people in my community, if you don't have a built in way to meet new people the way we have in ours, here's some ideas from reader Lauren on how to meet people and create friendships when you're new to an area.

So, you have just moved or are about to move house? Not only will this likely be quite a busy endeavour (booking removalists, packing boxes, redirecting mail etc.) but, it will also mean acclimatising to a brand new environment, far removed from what you are so familiar with.

However, whether you are moving internationally, interstate, or even just to the next suburb… there are some easy ways to get you established in your ‘new hood’ and build some key community connections. Here’s a guide to building relationships in a new area.

Monday, October 22, 2018

What We're Feeding Our Dog, and Are Dogs Expensive?

We brought our dog, Snickers, home in July and we are very much in love with her, and she is a wonderful addition to our family. All the family members adore her, and she adores us, and patiently puts up with some kids who are extra expressive in their love of her, if you catch my drift.

One of the things people warned us about when we decided to get a dog is that dogs are quite expensive to have, from their initial cost to food to their toys and accessories to the destruction they cause to their medical care to their training. Fortunately we lucked out with the dog we got, in that we didn't have to pay anything for her other than traveling to and from where we got her from, and she came already spayed and vaccinated and trained (mostly), and is young enough that she isn't having health issues, but old enough that she doesn't destroy things (at least not too many).

Tips To Make Life as a Landlord Simpler

Two years ago, we switched from being tenants to being both home owners and landlords for tenants. Here's some tips from a reader to consider when becoming a landlord, to make your life simpler and to prevent any misunderstandings with your tenants.

Lease agreements involve more than just rent payments and living accommodations. They are also legal documents that define the limits of what your tenants can do, and their relationship with you, their tenant. These agreements define their obligations to you as well as your responsibilities to them. And when emergencies or potential conflicts arise, you will need to work closely with your tenant to reach an acceptable solution.

So if you need help with tenant management then here are several tips to help you get started.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Getting Divorced

Now that I finally have his permission to post this on my blog, I can answer the questions that people have been having, namely what changes has my family been going through, and after my last post, why I need to be the full-on bread winner.

My husband and I are getting divorced.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Musings as a Frugal Entrepreneur

I've been an entrepreneur on and off ever since I became an adult. I always worked and I almost always worked for myself. But in the past month I've gone from using my income to supplement the family's income to needing to be self sufficient and completely self supporting, which means needing to tremendously increase my income and consequently my work hours. It also means that I've needed to up my entrepreneurship game, and as I have, I've noticed quite a few things. This post is my musings as an entrepreneur. While it's not completely frugality related, it's "bringing-in-money" related which affects my overall finances and my frugality.

The first thing I noticed is that over the years, people would tell me that most of what I write on my blog isn't relevant to them, because I'm a full time stay at home mom with lots of times on my hands to do frugal things and they're full time workers, so they don't have time to do time consuming frugal stuff.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Stockpiling Groceries, Some Follow Up Points

Last post I wrote about why I bought 180 packages of Reese's Pieces, and I got a lot of feedback on it. The feedback can be divided/summed up into the following categories:
  • Agreement, from people who also stockpile
  • People who were critical of the concept of stockpiling chocolate, something that is nutritionally empty
  • People who say there's no point in stockpiling because what they eat is healthy food and isn't shelf stable
  • People who say it is ridiculous to "hoard" food because they'd rather "hoard" money
  • People who said they couldn't stockpile because they have no room for it/they don't like clutter
  • People who said they didn't have any extra money to stockpile.
Since stockpiling is such a way of life for me, I wanted to take time to address each of these points, so that way people who are opposed to stockpiling may see my view even if they don't decide to stockpile, and people who want to stockpile but think its an impossibility may understand how they can make it part of their life. (Ok, no need to address that first point, other than its nice to know that I'm not alone.)

What Makes A Better Replacement Furnace?

I live in a home now where we don't use a furnace to heat it, but I remember we had one growing up, and if the furnace broke, it was bad. If you need a replacement furnace, here's a post from a reader about how to chose a replacement one.

What do you need to know before you replace your furnace? You need a furnace that fits your home and meets your demands. Size, efficiency, and installation are the three most important factors you need to consider when you’re getting a new furnace.