Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Day at the Funny Farm

Ever wonder what a typical day is like around here? Well here goes. Today I:

*Had one child home from school recovering from a fever last night,

*Got one kid out the door to the bus stop at 6:30 am,

*Got two younger kids out to the bus by 7:50 am,

*Enjoy a cup of coffee and newspaper, and explain stock market investing to 10 year old daughter,

*Cleaned the kitchen, boiled eggs for dinner salad,

*Ran the dishwasher,

*Ran two loads of laundry in the am,

*Made lunch for child at home, no more fever, yippee!

*Went to PetsMart for more kitty litter and a second litter box (mental note, NEVER run out of kitty litter), bird cage litter, bird treats, and fish food,

*Changed cat litter, and set up second litter box next to the original box so the two cats don't have to share,

*Put away clean dishes and start beans soaking for tomorrow night's dinner,

*Play card game with daughter,

*Visit with middle school child when he arrives home,

*Pick up younger kids from bus stop,

*Snack time, listen to Jenna state that she will not be eating dinner tomorrow night if I am serving beans,

*Return neighbor child's jean jacket that was found in the pile of our kids' jean jackets on the arm of the sofa,

*Check and sort the mail,

*Dinner time (simple tonight, salad with spinach, romaine, almonds, sliced egg, cheese and ranch dressing)

*Kids' shower time,

*Hunt down Halloween costumes for two youngest kids,

*Find a disaster under the girls' bunk bed (seriously, a small child could be lost under there for days) and haul in the trash sack to help get it clean,

*Haul 2 trash sacks and a full load of laundry out from under girls' bed,

*Start another load of laundry,

*Check the boys' room for garbage (they only had a half a sack) and dirty clothes,

*Take a break to type this up,

Right now it is 6:45pm. Somewhere in the day, I also got to sit and snuggle each of my three youngest (the 12 year old is "too old or that stuff" so he sits next to me while we discuss his day at school). Still on my list for today, brush kids' teeth, and put them to bed at 7:30 with a story, and then maybe I will get to sit down and call my hubby who is out of town for the night.

Tomorrow, it starts again.

Here's a copy of my 4 or More: Lots of Kids post for today:

Blessed By Frugal Living:

These days, it seems that reading the newspaper or watching news on television has become scary. But some days it just makes me laugh. No, really. I sit with my cup of coffee and peruse articles online or in the paper about how families can make their dollars go farther in today's economy. These so called financial experts are recommending things that many large families, including my own, have been doing for a long time. It has been very encouraging to be reinforced by the "mainstream media" for some of the simple things that we have tried to do over the years. Now, I have not figured out how to keep my kids from having sudden growth spurts and needing longer pants, nor have they cut back on the amounts that they are eating. In fact, the older they get, the MORE they eat. But, we have found some simple ways to avoid waste if possible. My focus this year was to stretch our budget as far as possible and still provide for all our needs; and quite a few of our wants too. Our system is not perfect, but maybe one or two of our tips will be helpful to your family, or maybe it will just encourage you that you are on the best possible track. Either way, whether the economy is good or bad, living a frugal life won't hurt (after the initial lifestyle change). The easiest budget item in my control is the grocery bill.

So, here are a few things I have learned so far this year:
*We really don't NEED as much as we think we do. Once I got this through my thick skull, decisions became so much easier.
*I learned how to cook a whole chicken fryer or roaster. Yeah, I am way behind on this, and I hate to admit that I only bought boneless skinless fresh chicken for 12 years. Oh my, was that dumb. (see the next tip for more on this)
*Our family doesn't do well with leftovers. The kids say "this AGAIN??" Oh wait, that is me. OK, there are very few leftovers that I like to reheat and have for myself, so we were wasting a lot. Hmm, let's think about this, it doesn't save me money if I throw out half of it. So, I started planning completely different meals with planned left overs. For example, when I cook a chicken roaster, we have a big meal with roasted or rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and fixings for the first meal, then I can pull off plenty chicken to make chicken pot pie or soup for a different meal later that week.
*When I make soup, spaghetti sauce, or chili, I end up with a very big crock pot full. In the past, I would waste too much, so now, before I even serve it the first meal, I set aside half and freeze it. It isn't really leftovers 3 weeks later, right? Cook once, serve twice...I Love It!!
*Hang clothes to dry. My electric bill went down $20 per month versus last year by not using the dryer.
*Combine trips in the car. Yes, today I was out of kitty litter, and had to go out only for that, but before I left, I checked all other pet supplies, to make sure I wasn't going to have to return in two days for bird treats of fish food.
*Keep a master grocery list and check off items needed throughout the week. Oh yeah, I actually take the list with me to the grocery store now. Radical, I know.
*I add $20-50 to each week's grocery store run in order to stock the pantry with sale items. I am not disciplined enough to read the ads ahead of time, but I grab one when I hit the store. If chicken fryers are on sale for $0.79 per pound, I buy 5 and freeze the extra. I stock up and freeze or store seasonal items for use later. I plan meals around what is on hand at home, and rotate first in, first out for the pantry and freezer items too.
*We have a lot of pets... We love our pets, but they eat a lot too. So, I do the same thing with pet supplies that I do with stocking the freezer. I try to keep one on hand, and add it to the list when I open my last item (treats, bag of food, kitty litter). This way, when I find a good deal and save $3 per package of cat litter, I buy two, and rarely ever pay full price for anything.
*Swap babysitting time with the neighbors.
*Plan at home date night. Kids go to bed at 7:30 anyway, so we plan to have our couple time with homemade snacks or a carry out appetizer at home. A card game or movie rental is much cheaper than eating out or going to the movie theater.
*Look for sales on kids clothing and try to buy a season ahead for basics when they are on sale. Guess what, that cute little Gap t-shirt is just as cute on sale for $5 as it was full price for $20.
*Switch to a cheaper cell phone plan. I don't use a gazillion minutes, and I don't send text messages, why was I paying for it? I was able to cut $20 per month from my cell phone bill by going to a cheaper plan with fewer minutes.

Well, this certainly doesn't make the stock market any less volatile, nor does it make my retirement account look any bigger, but every little bit helps. Cooking at home saves a ton versus eating out, and these days every penny counts. If you have frugal tips, please leave them in the comment section, I am always looking for another way to stretch my dollars. If I could share one piece of advice with the world... Just remember, when things look scary, count your blessings. Family, Friends, Health, and the ability to do my best to care for those I love; these are all things to help me sleep well at night no matter what the stock market does.

No comments: