Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cooking From Your Pantry

With the prices of many things going up, one way to save is to use what you already have. Before you go to the grocery store again, take a look in your cupboards, freezer and pantry and see if there are meals you could make with items you already have. Many of us continue buying groceries when we have all kinds of items already in our cupboards.

There are some blogs that have ideas for cooking from your pantry. Jessica from Life As Mom usually does a month long pantry challenge at the beginning of the year and this year also did one in July. She plans meals from items she already has and only buys milk, produce and items she may need to use up something else she already has.

Another idea is using substitutions with items you already have. The other day I had a tomato to finish up and had bacon in the freezer. I thought of BLT but I didn't have lettuce. So instead I used thinly sliced cucumbers and had a BCT instead.

This year I have been getting vegetables through a CSA from Bluebird Gardens. From the vegetables I receive each week and the items I had on hand, I haven't had to spend very much on groceries this summer.

So before you head to the store again, take a look in your cupboards.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Find Your Purpose

In a society where there are many people that are not satisfied with their jobs and careers, Max Lucado’s latest book would be a great resource. “Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot” is a guide to find what you were really created to do. Even if someone is working in a career that they went to school for it may not be what they really want to do.

Living in your “sweet spot” means doing something that you are really good at and love to do and would do not just for the money. One step to this is to look back on what you have been successful with in the past.

In the book Max guides you through how to find your personal STORY (Strengths, topic, optimal conditions, relationships and “Yes” moments.

If you have not read his previous book “Outlive Your Life: You were made to make a difference”, it would be a great compliment to reading “Cure for the Common Life”.

As with his other books, Max combines biblical verses with current day information.

It was a quick and easy read and I would highly recommend it.

I am a book reviewer for Thomas Nelson publishers. I received a copy of the book to review but did not receive any other compensation.

Your Money as JENGA

Is your financial life like a game of JENGA? Remember the game JENGA, where you had a tower of blocks and had to remove some from the bottom and middle without the whole thing crashing. I have been thinking that could be related to our financial lives.

If you think of your income as the tower and your expenses as the blocks you need to remove. If you remove too many blocks or the wrong ones, the whold tower can come crashing down.

If you do have the game, one idea is to write different expenses on some of the blocks (mortgage, rent, groceries, dining out, clothes, etc) and show your kids what happens when you remove too many of the blocks.

The monthly expenses individually may not seem like a big deal, but if you get too many of those expenses they can add up and cause problems. So it is important to consider what the purchase will really cost you over time, not only the monthly cost. And if you charge the item to your credit card and are not able to pay it off at the end of the month it will end up costing you more in the long run.

Some people think they are doing okay since they are able to pay the minimum amounts due on their credit cards, but in many cases that barely covers the interest amount and it will take you years to pay off the principal amount.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Money Habits Everyone Should Have

Recently I saw a post online about 50 money habits everyone should have. Of the 50 habits, I have listed 10 of them below.

1. Opening your bills when you get them.
2. Spending less than you earn every month.
3. Keeping a budget.
4. Paying your bills on time to avoid spending money on late fees.
5. Saving part of your income for retirement.
6. Regularly checking your credit report for errors or signs of fraud and identity theft.
7. Review credit card statements for errors and erroneous charges.
8. Increasing your 401k contributions when you get a raise.
9. Using your credit card to buy things only if you can pay if off in full at the end of the month.
10. Maintaining an emergency fund.

Daily experiences as teaching moments

Just by taking a little extra time throughout your day, you can make many of your daily experiences into learning moments for your kids. Some examples are:

At the bank, explain what you are doing when you make a deposit or withdraw/transfer money.

When dining out, explain tipping. In the book, “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees” by Neale S. Godfrey there is a story about a friend of hers that took his young sons across the country to visit their grandparents. When they were almost home, he asked one of the boys why he was always lagging behind when they stopped to eat. The boy told him that he had been picking up the money he had forgotten on the table. To a young child that had not been told about tipping it would look like his father had been forgetting his money.

Also when dining with older children, you can have them figure the amount of the tip. This will also let them realize what it costs to take a family out to eat.

At the grocery store you can give the child a list of items to look for. You can also have them compare prices versus brand and sizes.

When checking out, explain that you need money in your checking account when writing a check or using a debit card. If using a credit card, explain that if you do not pay off the balance at the end of the month, you will need to pay interest charges on the amount still owed.