Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Revamping Your Budget For Corona with Recurring Expenses (And How I Am Saving a Lot on my Phone Bill)

Let's face it, 2020 changed almost everyone's lives. And with 2021 we're still feeling the changes. Some of these changes will be permanent and some of these are just temporary. But no matter what, we're in the thick of it right now.

When it comes to budgeting, our life changes should be reflected in our budget. But sometimes we might forget to change some of those things. 

I've already mentioned how I think it is important for people's mental health to let their grocery budget grow to be able to manage their corona quarantining and lockdowns. While some months I've stayed within my previous budget, if my grocery budget goes up by $150 one month, I'm not gonna feel guilty about it at all, because it's a conscious choice I am making to buy some ready to eat foods and lots of short cuts in the kitchen, including disposables. 

Other expenses might also be going up because of Covid and that is totally reasonable. With more time spent at home, and more need to entertain your children, you might decide to increase your budget for crafts and games or electronics, and that is good. Expecting your 2021 budget to look like your 2019 budget is not a reflection of reality.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

There Might Still Be A Better Deal

My kids have a schedule when they are at their dad's house and when they are at my house. They come home from school and get driven to either my house or their dad's house. Unfortunately because of quarantines and lock downs and things changing, there have been mistakes and sometimes the kids get delivered to the wrong house after school.

This isn't usually a problem because usually I'm home. Or if I'm not home, Lee is here. Because Lee is pretty much always here since he has school exclusively on Zoom. But recently there was an emergency when my 9 year old arrived home and there was no one else home. And while that shouldn't be happening and isn't anything I plan on happening on a regular basis, this emergency was made worse by the fact that we don't have a house phone. We used to but we never used it and then the phone broke and I just canceled the line since it was a waste here. But when Anneliese was home alone, not knowing where anyone was or how to contact them, that was a wake up call that we do need to have a phone available in the house.

We have a spare cell phone that the kids use for playing games, but it wasn't installed with Whatsapp since there was no sim card or phone number attached to it. I made an account for my kids after this for them to be able to use google hangouts to contact me or their dad in case of emergency, but I heard google hangouts is about to be canceled, so that won't last much longer.

6 Easy Meal Prep Tips For Busy Parents

I am not generally a meal prepper, but I would like to become one. Meal prepping can make your life so much easier and add some organization to your life and make meals less of a stress. Here's some meal preps from a reader that'll hopefully improve your quality of life.

Being a parent can be quite a challenge because there is a lot of work and responsibilities involved. One particular task that could be daunting for most parents, is cooking for your kids. 

Although it could seem simple at first, it may soon get difficult because kids can get picky with what they eat. This is especially true for kids who don’t eat fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. They may find the taste unpleasant and refuse to eat the meals you prepare. There is also the fact that most parents have a nine to five job, and finding the time to cook your children’s meals could be tricky. So you’ll have to learn how to prep your meals beforehand. This will not only make food preparation easier, it will also make it a lot more pleasurable. Here are 6 easy meal prep tips for busy parents.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Lending a Helping Hand, On a Budget

I thought long and hard about writing this post. I write all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons, but I wanted to make sure that I'm not writing this post to pat myself on the back and show off "Look what an amazing person I am". Because if that was the intention I wouldn't be writing it. 

I already am hearing detractors responding here saying "Come on, Penny, your whole life and blog is about showing off, telling everyone how amazing you are. How is this any different?" 

To the outside eye maybe it all looks the same. I do a lot of things publicly. I share a lot of things. But overall my goal is one main thing. To help people. 

When I share things, even if they seem like I'm "showing off" my goal is to help people get ideas, to maybe inspire people, never to make people possibly feel inadequate compared to me.

But this felt different. Maybe because I worried that instead of people saying "Oh, Penny is really good at frugal living/has great recipes" they'd think "Oh, she thinks she's all that, she wants to show everyone that she's a good, kind person." And that is what made me sit a few weeks on this before posting.

The reason I decided to write this, in the end, is that one of the things I've heard people say about not wanting to be frugal is because they consider themselves givers, and they don't want to turn into a "cheap" stingy miserly person. Because people might not be aware that being money conscious doesn't mean not being a giver, but it may mean being a giver in other ways. When I started my blog, I certainly didn't have any money to give anyone, but I knew I could help via sharing ideas. And fortunately, many people let me know just how much those ideas helped them. I also have started quite a few support Facebook groups, for frugal living locally, frugal cooking, mental health, divorced women, etc... Some giving can be completely free. Especially sharing of ideas. Or giving emotional support?

But what about giving actual, tangible things? That too is possible when you live frugally. And for me, if anything, being frugal allows me to give more easily because I don't worry that by giving, my family will lose out.

Last month, after so long being exhausted because of thyroid issues, I finally started having more energy. Still low energy, but enough that I wanted to be able to give back. I live in an amazing community and while I was under the weather, I had so many friends who helped me out in so many ways including bringing us supper quite a few times. My community has a kindness initiative and they purchased a freezer via donations, to be stocked with meals to give to families as needed. So while I didn't make anything when there was a drive to stock the freezer, once I did finally have enough energy to do something extra (especially since my kids were at their dad and I got a bit of a break) I decided to make some meals for the freezer to be given to families that need a meal.

Specifically, because I am frugal I was able to make these meals with very little cost to myself. But that doesn't mean it was any less appreciated.

Homeschooling Expenses Should Be Tax Deductible | Why It’s So Complicated

As a former homeschooling parent, a discussion on whether or not it was a frugal move came up regularly. To decide this, one has to factor whether or not public school was the alternative for their kids, what rights homeschoolers have in their area, what type of homeschooling they'd be doing, what resources are available to their family for free, and much else. For those that do end up spending a decent amount of money on homeschool materials, many would want to know whether these expenses are tax deductible. I know locally they aren't, but as I'm not in the US, I figured I'd share this handy post sent to me that explains how it works in the US.

Have you ever wondered if the money you use toward homeschooling your children is tax-deductible? 

With the new year, taxes are beginning to enter many peoples' minds. For various reasons, many families chose to homeschool their children during the 2020 school year.

If you are new to the homeschool lifestyle, you may be wondering which homeschooling expenses are tax-deductible?

Answering this question is complicated. Read on to find out what tax breaks, if any, are available for homeschooling parents in your area. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Taking CBD for Anxiety Relief

I have anxiety. I was in denial about that until just a few years ago. As a teenager I was aware I was depressed, but I pushed that aside and deep inside, but when mental health stuff came up again strongly about five years ago, I was sure it was depression. But when I explained what was actually happening to a good friend, they pointed out that some of what I thought was depression was actually anxiety. Oh, and panic attacks? That's anxiety. I guess I was in denial about that because it was embarrassing enough to be depressed, but to admit to having anxiety made me feel like I was calling myself a scaredy cat and not a strong woman. I know that is very judgemental of myself, but it was even harder to admit to myself that I was anxious than admitting I was depressed (and even that was a big challenge and took almost a year of therapy to tease out). 

Anxiety can really suck. 

It can make phone calls feel scary, either making them or answering them. 

It can make social get togethers intimidating.

It can make you afraid that you'll lose your friends and be all alone in the world.

It can make you constantly fearful that you'll lose your job. 

It can make you have panic attacks that make you have a hard time breathing and your chest hurt.

It can make you spiral into all sorts of what-ifs, catastrophizing and assuming the worst will happen, no matter how unlikely.

It can be so bad that it makes your life feel so terrible that you even contemplate ending it.

Anxiety sucks.

But you don't have to live with constant anxiety. There are ways that someone can lessen that anxiety to a more manageable level or even get rid of it completely.

Which Careers Give Skills You Can Transfer to Nursing?

With the world in turmoil now and many jobs precarious, lots of people have chosen to switch directions in their career choices. Nursing is a profession that will always be in need. If you're considering switching to a career in nursing, here's some professions that you may already have that give skills crucial to nursing.

Becoming a nurse is a highly popular, rewarding, and lucrative career path. If you are considering a change of career, nursing is a field which may be worth considering. But what skills do you need to become a nurse?


Of course, there are usually qualifications needed to start a career in nursing. However, in many cases it is possible to gain these qualifications through on-the-job training as long as you have the skills and determination needed to make it in this career path. Registered Nurses need to be caring, helpful, able to work as a part of a team, and confident working under pressure. If you have these skills, you may already be off to a good start! Ultimately, having these personal skills is a much more important foundation than having experience in the medical field. 

Thankfully, there are many careers that can teach you these skills. You may think that your existing or previous career is so different from nursing that you would need to entirely start from scratch with your education. However, you may well have already learned some of the skills needed to start a second career in nursing in your working life so far! Career fields that teach skills that can be transferred to a career in nursing include (but are not limited to) the following:

Friday, January 15, 2021

Low Carb Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Nightshade Free, Paleo, Allergy Friendly

Recently my friend Elaine reached out to me asking for my vegan cheese sauce recipe, but then wanted to know if I had a way to do it without nightshades since her husband doesn't eat them. I thought for a bit and then gave her a suggestion, but then thought about tweaking my recipe even more. There are recipes for vegan cheese sauce that are high in carbohydrates. There are recipes for vegan cheese sauces that are nut-based. There are recipes for vegan cheese sauces that are soy based. But was it possible to make a vegan cheese sauce that is both nightshade free, low carbohydrate, and without any of the common allergens (so no soy or nuts or sesame etc...)? 

I think I got it. This recipe for vegan low carb nightshade free allergy friendly cheese sauce tastes great. Is easy to make. Cheap too. It's good for pretty so many different diets including the keto diet, and Paleo.

I'll admit I still like my original one better, because I'm a sucker for sweet, but this is definitely a good recipe and my kids agree. Feel free to put it on anything that you think tastes better with cheese, whether veggies, sandwiches, tacos, etc...

Low Carb Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Nightshade Free, Paleo, Allergy Friendly

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Buying Your Very First Property

I was lucky to be able to buy a home approximately 5 years ago. While home ownership definitely has its challenges, it has also been very rewarding. If you're thinking of buying your first property, here's some things you might want to consider first.

Your home is quite possibly the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life. If you make a mistake, it’s going to cost you. If you want to avoid this, then this guide will help you to find out everything you need to know.

The Ultimate Moving Guide

I hate moving with a passion. I've done it twice in my adult life (moving a whole home) and it is one of the most stressful experiences I've gone through. However there are a few things you can do to make it easier. This moving guide from a reader is definitely a big help with that. 

According to Removalists Melbourne, almost half the Australia population has moved various houses in the last six years. This proves that people are in continuous search of better residential options and the importance of being ready and prepared to move to not lose out an opportunity for better living conditions at an affordable price.

And that is why a ready-made house moving checklist provides the right starting point to such a huge endeavour.

It also helps that, the checklist being accumulated by surveying many who have experience in house moving and learning from their regrets, will be the most practical and useful guide to potential movers.

Here are the numbered guidelines, priority-wise to all who are set to move into a new house.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Dealing With Endless Quarantine Without Spiraling

The last few weeks in my house have been "fun" to say the least. Over winter break my two autistic kids still had school but it was optional, and I decided not to send them so that we could do nice things together as a family when my other kids had off. 

It turns out that that was a good decision because one of the girls in Rose's class got diagnosed with corona, and everyone who was in school during that time needed to quarantine. So Rose went off to school and had more or less one on one time with the few teachers and therapists who were also not exposed and therefore weren't in quarantine. 

Just a few days after the kids went back to school, one morning after Rose had already left to school but none of the other kids did, we got a call from Anneliese's school telling us that her teacher was diagnosed and her entire class needs to go into quarantine for the next 10 days. Because I can't just quarantine one kid away from everyone else in the house, we decided that everyone at home would quarantine together, but Rose would go to her dad and continue going to school and not need to quarantine.

We went through our 10 days of quarantine, looking forward to the time when the kids could rejoin Rose, me being able to see her again, and both her dad and I being able to get some time without kids when we found out that one of the few kids that hadn't previously been quarantined since she didn't go to school over break, came down with corona, so now Rose and the few teachers that hadn't been in quarantine until that point now needed to quarantine, until Saturday. 

The kids were sad about this, and we were counting down the days until Sunday when they could be reunited. And then I get told that someone that Rose and her dad saw yesterday was diagnosed with corona so now they need to go into quarantine for 2 weeks. (Let me just point out that this was a person who broke quarantine rules because he got one negative corona test, but the second one came back positive so that's why.) This has been especially hard on Anneleise because she and Rose are buddies and play with each other a lot and entertain each other a lot, and she really misses her sister. She told me that she regrets ever saying that she wishes she didn't have a sister, because now she sees how much she relies on her sister.

So being that this is quarantine after quarantine, I wanted to share some tips on how we're managing here, and what I'm doing to try to get through this without spiraling emotionally, something that is very easy to do with all this stress.

Science-Based and Affordable Ways to Fight Stress and Anxiety

Are you stressed out? Ok, that was a trick question. I think nearly everyone today is stressed out. Stress has a negative effect on people's overall health. The question is how to deal with it. Here's some tried and true stress relief tricks from a reader.

Everyone deals with stress nowadays, whether related to family issues, work problems, or other factors. Research shows that 79% of Americans experience stress daily. And while medical treatments are effective, most are expensive, and not everyone affords them. So what can you do to relieve your anxiety without breaking the bank? 

Here is an extensive list of ways to decrease stress.

When you’re stressed out, your body and mind feel it. Therefore, to loosen up, you should release each muscle group in your body, starting with your fingers and toes and extending to your back, abdominals, and chest.

When your body feels relaxed, your mind easily follows. Progressive relaxation is a technique many therapists use to improve depression and anxiety symptoms. Check online to find out how to perform progressive relaxation at home.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Sweet and Sticky Tofu Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Easy, and Delicious

My kids aren't the hugest fans of tofu. Plain, that is. They refer to it as a white sponge. But if it's prepared with lots of flavor, as in this recipe, they definitely appreciate it. 

I made this tofu recipe based on my sweet and sticky green beans recipe and used it for poke bowls and my family devoured it. This is a great way to give bland tofu a flavor oomph. 

It's gluten free and vegan and easy to make as well. Feel free to use it as is, or as a side dish, or as an addition to salads, etc. Be creative. It's delicious.

Oh, did I mention it's really easy too?

Sweet and Sticky Tofu Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Easy, and Delicious

Friday, January 1, 2021

Easy Sesame Carrot Salad Recipe - Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo, Allergy Friendly and Frugal

I almost feel like this is too simple and silly to be a recipe, but it's yummy and good, and so what if it's ridiculously easy? I made this side dish kind of accidentally, because I was making poke bowls (another post on that soon) and wanted to put grated carrots in it, but didn't want to leave them plain. I thought about what flavors would go well together and did it, and it came out delicious enough to want to eat it plain. I thought at first that since it was so simple I should probably add some extra stuff to it like garlic, but while it's fine with garlic, I think it's even better without.

Easy Sesame Carrot Salad Recipe - Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo, Allergy Friendly and Frugal