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DIY, Family Finances, Self Suffiency

Basic Vehicle Maintenance Will Save You Money

July 24, 2015
Basic vehicle maintenance

This is dedicated to my amazing husband who I consulted to write this post and who has taught me more than I ever thought that I wanted to know about basic vehicle maintenance.

Summer time typically means road trips to visit family or driving longer distances to vacation destinations. In the next four months, my family will be making two 13 hour trips each way to visit family. All of that travel means that we will be doing some basic vehicle maintenance before we head out on the road. We hope to save ourselves the headaches and stresses which could result from not properly taking care of the engine or tires.

When planning ahead for travel, it’s easy to overlook the importance of making sure your vehicle is up for the drive. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing a quick run-through of basic vehicle maintenance before heading out on the road. You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road in an unfamiliar area, when you could be enjoying those precious vacation hours instead.

Here are 7 basic items of preventative vehicle maintenance to save you money. Continue Reading…

DIY, Gardening, Self Suffiency

Berry Picking a Path to Self-Sufficiency

May 26, 2015
Berry picking a path to self-sufficiency

In five years, my husband and I hope to have the money for a down payment on a piece of property where we can start a small, self-sustaining, completely off the grid, homestead. It feels a bit like a pipe dream, but it is our dream nonetheless. We have a long way to go to reach our goal of living a sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle. We are learning now, though, that self-sustainability doesn’t have to mean solar panels and well water. It starts with the ability to figure out how to do most things completely on your own.

Canning and freezing seasonal fruits and vegetables, both from local farms and our own garden, is one thing that we taught ourselves to do in order to become more self-sufficient. We believe in trying to eat as seasonally as possible and storing what we can for the rest of the year. Not only do we support our community’s farmers by eating locally grown food, but we also save a lot of money by preserving food when it is at it cheapest.

My kids eating them as fast as I could pick them

Strawberries happen to be cheapest in May. We like to go strawberry picking every year to save a little bit of money. We always try to preserve as many as possible to eat throughout the rest of the year. Some go into the freezer for smoothies and pies, and the rest gets turned into jam, marmalade, or conserves. We enjoy the time spent together at the farm, picking the berries. We also enjoy the time spent together as a couple, preserving the berries after our kids are in bed. It has become an annual date night for us, and we are even a little bit competitive about it now. My husband likes to think that his strawberry lemon marmalade is better than mine. I beg to differ.

Just 33 lbs of our strawberries

Just 33 lbs of our strawberries

The “pick your own” strawberries from the farm down the road from us cost us $1.57 per pound. Grocery store strawberries cost $3.99 a pound. It took us roughly 1.5 hours to pick 50 pounds of strawberries. So, in 1.5 hours we saved ourselves $121 dollars. It’s just a small amount compared to the rest of our food budget, but we enjoy going, and we would rather support our local farmers than pay for the over-priced grocery store strawberries shipped from California.

first batch of jam and freezer berries

first batch of jam and freezer berries

If eating local is important to you too, but you don’t have access to local farms because you live in the city or don’t have a car, look into local CSA (community supported agriculture) programs. Many of them deliver or have local pick-up points.  Try looking for a CSA local to you at http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

There are a million ways to become a little bit more self-sufficient. You could plant a container garden on your deck or have a full-sized garden in your yard. Even having a pot of herbs on your kitchen window sill is a small way to grow your own food. Don’t let the home you live in decide the kind of life you want to live or the kind of food you want to eat.

Do you try to eat locally grown food?

What steps do you take towards self-sufficiency?

Budget, DIY, Family Finances, None

Frugal Friday Night: 2 Large Pizzas Cost $6

March 29, 2015

If you aren’t mindful of your food spending budget, weekends can wear down your wallet in a big way. Friday and Saturday nights are the biggest income nights for take-out restaurants. Don’t be tempted to dial out for take-out food, if you haven’t specifically budgeted for it. There are so many quick and easy recipes out there, and you can save your family a lot of money by learning to make your favorite take-out foods yourself.

This Friday my family and I had a pizza craving. Instead of ordering out, we made it a fun project. My four year old daughter helped me to make two large pizzas using Bobby Flay’s pizza dough recipe.

My kitchen assistant

My kitchen assistant

I only let it rise about 30 minutes, and it worked just fine. They took about 5 minutes to prepare once the crust was rolled out, and 25 minutes to bake. This is the break down in cost for our two pizzas:

4 cups flour: $1.60

1/2 jar tomato sauce: $0.75

8 oz cheese: $2.00

4 slices bacon: $0.50

1 onion: $0.30

4 tablespoons capers: $0.60

2 cups fresh greens: $0.13

1 oz olive oil: $0.17

2 Large custom-made pizzas = $6.05 

IMG_7705

 

If I were to have ordered two large, three topping pizzas from Dominoes, it would have cost $39.70. We saved $33.65 by making the pizza at home instead of ordering in. The small things in life are the biggest budget savers. Try making your own pizza next time you get that craving. You might be amazed at how much money you save.