Friday, June 24, 2016

Officially on Summer Break

I finished the last day of summer school and now I am officially on summer break!  Summer school was not a bad deal and now I will have a little extra money to buy the big girl a new air compressor for her car!  I was planning on spending that money at the beach, but it may be needed to help fund our emergency account.  You see, I try to keep $1000 in an emergency account for unexpected emergencies.  I had just built it back up because we had to pay for some other car repairs and then the air went out on the car. Now I know air in the car is not a necessity, but I want the middle girl to drive this car and it is crazy hot here 6 months out of the year, so fix the air it is.

We have been doing VBS (vacation bible school) this week.  The only bad thing about it is that it is not over until 9:00 and after clean up we are not getting home until 10:00 and not into bed until 11:00.  Too late for me to have to get up for work the next day.  But it is only for a week and the kids are having fun and learning about Jesus.

This is a shot of how many we have at VBS.  We usually have over 200 children and right now we have 160 volunteers.  This is pretty good for a church of around 500.

So since I don't have to work today and the littlest girl brought a friend over, I told the younger two that we would go see Finding Dory.

Not exactly frugal, but fun.  I feel like we have to mix the two, fugal and fun.  We don't want to sit at home all the time, but at the same time we have to use our resources well.  Going to an afternoon movie every once in a while is great fun.  We don't go to the movies very often so it is a good treat!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Doing Summer

Well, we are in full swing of summer and everyone is busy.  The big boy, big girl, and middle girl are all working.  The girls are babysitting and teaching swimming lessons and the big boy is working with my hubby.  The great thing is that all of the kids are working for themselves and are self-employed.  I love to see the kids working for themselves and learning about money and life.  I am working summer school for two weeks.  It is only actually 8 days and three of the days is full of testing.  I am working mostly as the runner between the schools and the teachers.  It is good pay and not too bad, so it works for us.  It will be vacation money.

With everyone being at home, the one thing that we have to have lots of is food.  So, I will spend a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon getting some food together for the week.  When you have a large family, a box of cookies only lasts one sitting and will run about $3.00.  My kids snack on mostly homemade foods or fruits and veggies.  Below is a picture of what I make this weekend.  I made granola, cinnamon rolls, granola bars, whole wheat bread, and a pound cake.
I also made some yogurt to go with the granola.  .Yogurt is easy to make and cheap.  You don't have to have a yogurt maker.  I made mine in a cooler until I got the yogurt maker.

A good money saver is buying the oats and making your own granola.  I buy my oats in bulk, but you don't have to.  Just buying the large container from the grocery store is a money saver.  Here is my recipe:

6 Cups of Oats
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of honey
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat the oil and honey on the stove until hot.  Pour the oil mixture over the oats, and add vanilla, salt and cinnamon.  Spread the granola on a pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Let the granola cool and move to a container.  I like my granola clumpy, so I spread mine out in the pan and press it down before I bake it.  Make sure you have parchment paper or a silpat on the pan because the granola will stick to the pan and be hard to remove.

While you have all of your ingredients out for granola, make granola bars.  Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup of honey, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Cook it on the stove until bubbles.  Mix with 2 cups of oats and 2 cups of cereal (I use Cheerios or rice cereal).  It is yummy and easy.    

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Going back to school as a working adult

I got the crazy idea two years ago to go back to school and get my teaching certificate.  I have been working for the last six years as a special education para pro (assistant).  I enjoy my work and would like to get paid more and be able to make more decisions in the student's education.  So I decided to get certified.  

I found a program at Mercer University that caters to working adults.  The classes are only one night a week and last 8 weeks.  You normally take 2 classes at a time and take one or two in the summer.  The schedule is doable, but not easy.  There are several things that make going back to school doable for me.  Everyone is different, so your list may be different from mine.

1.  Your family has to be on board.  I told my family that I would be gone two nights a week and that they would have to pitch in, and they agreed.  My children are also teens and tweens so this made it easier.  If my children were young or babies this would be much harder.

2.  I relied on the slow cooker.

I don't know any other way to cook and not be home.  I would get it started in the morning, and add pasta, rice, or a salad to dinner before I left.  There are some great recipes on the internet.

3.  I did much of my cleaning with wipes.

This is not very frugal, but they come in bulk from Sams and they clean a bathroom pretty quick.  I also bought swiffer refills for my floors.

4.  I grocery shopped in bulk once a month.  I would spent about half a Saturday or a school holiday and I would go to Aldi and Sams and stock up.  I would then do a quick shop in-between.

5.  I shopped online.  I ordered gifts and clothing online.  It was faster and easier than going to a store.  

These are just a few tips.  I am sure that I will come across more as time goes on.  Luckily, I only have one more year to go.  I am so excited to start teaching really soon!

Frugal Birthday Cupcakes

My kids have been at church camp all week.  Yesterday was Ashley's birthday and today is Evan's birthday.  The youth pastor said that we could bring cupcakes to celebrate.  I could have bought cupcakes at the grocery store, but when I checked the prices for four dozen cupcakes (that is how many I needed) I was floored.  It would have cost me about $40 to get that many already made.  So if you know me I was not going to pay that much so I made my own.
I got out my Bosch mixer and I just mixed two boxes of cake mix and did the recipe on the box except I used milk instead of water and added an extra egg.  I did both mixes at once since the Bosch has such a large capacity.  After that I mixed up homemade icing.  Ashley had asked for blue.  I needed enough for 48 cupcakes, but that wasn't a problem in the Bosch either.
The recipe for the icing is your standard buttercream icing, which is one stick of butter, a little milk, 1 tsp vanilla and about five cups of powered sugar.  Because I was going to take these to a pool party and we were going to be outside, I used half buttered flavored Crisco.  I didn't want it to melt.  

I think they turned out fine and it only took me about an hour and 1/2 from start to finish. I will give you my break down on the cost.  The cake mix was $1.25 each, so  $2.50 for the mix.  The liners were $1.00.  I buy powdered sugar in bulk from Sams for around $1.00 a pound and I used 2 pounds.  The Crisco ran about $1.25 for the amount I used.  I buy butter for $10.00 for 4 pounds and I only used one stick, which is about $.60.  I already had the blue coloring.  So for less than $7.00 I was able to supply plenty of birthday cupcakes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Easy, simple, and cheap meals that feed a crowd.

It is summer.  I have everyone here which is great but expensive.  All of a sudden I have 5 teens eating here three meals a day plus all of that snacking.  The older kids have jobs and are in and out and the younger ones have a constant flow of friends over and numerous trips on outings, I try to feed the seven of us dinners that cost less than $10.00.  Our budget for groceries is $600 a month, but I try to come in under budget as much a possible.  Here is a meal that we eat often. Everyone loves it and it is cheap!  It is tacos with all of the fixings.

The main reason that tacos are so cheap for us is that we deer hunt and grind most of the meat ourselves.  So instead of ground beef we use ground venison for tacos.  I also can my own salsa in the summer from home grown tomatoes or tomatoes from the farmers market.  So all I have to by are the taco shells, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and any other fixings that we want.  I buy taco shells at Aldi for $1.00 a box ( we use two), sour cream from Aldi for $1.19, cheese from Sams Club for $12.00 for five pounds (so we spent about $2.00 for the tacos), and we buy lettuce from Sams for three dollars for six heads of romaine (so about .50 for the lettuce).  The seasoning we buy in bulk, but it can't be more than .50.  So I calculate that for less than $7.00 our whole family can eat tacos.  

In this picture are some grapes that were going to go bad, so we put them out.  We will sometimes buy a $2.00 bag of chips and eat them with the salsa or buy some avocados if they are on sale and make some guacamole.  Yummy!

This meal will feed us and a few extras if needed.  We usually have some flour tortillas around that I can get out if need be.  So you see, you can feed a big family for cheap and they will eat it.  I will try to include some other money saving meals throughout the summer.