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9 Oct 2010   ·   64
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Free clothes for Silas!

Just last week, I realized that cold weather is almost upon us and Silas was going to need clothes to wear since all he had currently are shorts, t-shirts, polos and the pair of jeans I bought him last week. I had planned to head to Target to see if I could find some good deals but life got busy and it didn’t happen.

Well, earlier this week, I lost my phone and ended up having to “tear apart the house” to find it (I eventually discovered one of the children had put it under the front seat of the van!). In the process, I found six pair of pants for Silas! I had been given these from friends last year and had stashed them away and completely forgotten about them.

I was so thankful I hadn’t gone shopping yet. If only I could buy some brain cells at the store, though. 🙂

Then later in the week the week, I was able to pick up four items for Silas — for free! — at our church “giveaway”. (Our church has a twice-yearly “giveaway” which is basically a big swap meet with the families in our church. We all bring items we no longer need or use and take home items we can use from what others have brought. The extra items are then donated to a local ministry for low-income families. Not only is this great incentive to clean out our homes and clear out clutter, but it’s also a way for us to save money and help one another out in the process.)

Finally, a friend emailed and said she had a few extra boy clothes and a pair of shoes and could she please send them to me? She wouldn’t even accept reimbursement for postage! I was really touched at her generosity and gladly accepted her kind offer.

So, instead of spending the $30 or $40 at Target I was planning to, by waiting, I now have enough clothes to tide Silas over for awhile and have spent $0 out of pocket!

________________

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

8 Oct 2010   ·   50
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: Our Kids’ College

We paid cash!

A testimony from Kathi

It was important to my husband and I, as adults with college degrees and the student loan debt to prove it, that our children have similar opportunities for an education with none of the debt.

Given that my husband teaches at a college (not exactly the highest paid profession in the world) and I was a homeschooling mom working part-time, this was going to be a challenge and we were on a time limit because most scholarship money is available the year after one graduates from high school. This was a total family effort!

How We Did It

  1. We, the parents, put away what we were able for their future and grandparents contributed what they were able, but it was minimal given our own financial needs.
  2. Our students started out with getting excellent grades in high school and on standardized tests because most scholarship money is based on those two items.
  3. Both also spent a great deal of time volunteering with not-for-profit groups in their own field of interest. This became vital later on as they were offered part-time jobs paying more than minimum wage at those agencies while they were in college.
  4. When they turned 16, they started working for pay and continuing to volunteer as they could. They banked most of their earnings in anticipation of their college career.
  5. They both did dual high school and college credit at our local two-year college. In some states this is tuition-free but not in ours. It was worth the added investment because taking college classes before graduating from high school boosts both the GPA and the standardized test results! It also puts them on track to graduate from college sooner. Our son earned his BA three years after he graduated from high school; our daughter earned her AA a year after she graduated from high school. Being willing to complete as much as possible at a two-year college will allow scholarship money to go farther too!
  6. We became experts at searching out inexpensive textbooks. Part of that involves being willing to use used textbooks and part of it involves sleuthing! The first resource was other students who had taken the class who were willing to loan, rent, trade or sell a book. If that failed, Barnes & Noble Textbooks and Half.com became our new best friends! They tend to be less expensive than the college book store on used books and will also allow people to sell their no-longer needed books. We were sure to check with the professors to see if older editions of the textbook are usable because they are often available practically for free! We have been most successful with older editions for humanities courses. I also had my first experience buying a textbook from Amazon using gift cards I earned from Swagbucks just this semester!
  7. Decide what is important to your student. Our son decided he would prefer a local college that offered his major and to continue living in our home (saving housing costs) and purchase his car for cash instead of spending the money on living elsewhere. He also realized that riding the Express Bus (free for university students) saved on gas and parking. That allowed him to purchase the computer and cell phone service he desired. Our daughter preferred a more traditional college experience because of the lack of availability of her desired major in our area and will spend the money she has saved the last several years while finishing high school and her AA to supplement her living expenses (she also decided on a less expensive computer and cell phone service).

Kathi Regalbuto is a retired homeschool mom of 2, owner of Penny Wise CU. Visit her at PennyWiseCU.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

8 Oct 2010   ·   100
Money Saving Mom

October’s Monthly Financial Check-up

I updated you all on our current financial goals a few weeks ago and promised that I’d be bringing the monthly financial check-up back the first week in October. So here’s our progress update:

1. Significantly increase our giving to needs in our community and around the world. This is an ongoing goal, so we’re keeping it uncrossed off from the list.

2. Pay cash for a replacement washer and dryer for our very used set.

3. Pay cash for a replacement for Old Blue Van. The money is now saved, we’re just on the hunt for a good, reliable vehicle with low mileage. So far, we’ve not found one that’s what we’re looking for and in our budget.

4. Pay cash for a couch for our basement family room (Which currently is devoid of furniture while we save for it!)

5. Pay cash for bunk beds for the girls.

6. Fully fund our IRAs.

7. Bump up our retirement savings to 10% of our income.

8. Fund our children’s educational savings.

9. Double our Emergency Fund Savings (Instead of having around six month’s worth of expenses set aside, we’re planning to set aside a year’s worth of expenses.)

10. Save for our next BHAG.

As I mentioned in September, our very used washer quit working and was unable to be fixed. So we bumped up the priority of getting a replacement washer and dryer to the top of the list.

After all the comments on how the majority of you didn’t like front-loading washing machines, we decided to buy a non-front-loading washer and dryer set which was very simple, large, efficient and economical. We opted to purchase new, instead of used, as we’re hoping this will mean a longer life. My husband went to three stores to check out prices and see what kind of deal he could negotiate. By doing this, he was able to find a store which was willing to give us an additional $100 off plus free delivery because we were paying in cash upfront.

We’d love to hear about your recent financial goals and successes! You can post about it on your blog and leave your link below. Or, if you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of our resources!

7 Oct 2010   ·   46
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Three ways to get children’s books inexpensively

Here’s a tip Ali Kirby who blogs at TheMamaReport.com emailed in:

Since the time my oldest was two, we’ve helped our children stay entertained in the car by keeping a crate of books by their seats. Instead of using special books we’ve received as gifts and risking them falling out of the car, I’ve found three ways to acquire books inexpensively to use in the car:

1. Paperback Book Exchange Store: My husband and I went through our book collection and cleaned house. We took those books to the paperback book exchange store and received in-store credit for them. We used that credit to purchase “new” books for the kids.

2. Secondhand Store: Most of the secondhand stores I have been to have books for around fifty cents each. We’ve found some great books this way — for pennies on the dollar.

3. Garage sales: Most people sell children’s books very cheaply at garage sales. I have paid anywhere from ten cents to fifty cents per book.

Want more ideas? Check out my post on Five Ways to Get Books for Free.

5 Oct 2010   ·   322
Money Saving Mom

Q&A Tuesday: Is it possible to save money when we’re barely keeping our head above water?

Audrey left the following comment on my post on renting (I’ve edited it a bit for space reason, but you can read it in it’s entirety here):

I know you talk about all these ways to save money, and anyone can do it, but it just doesn’t seem possible for us! I use coupons to save money, but even then we have no wiggle room in our budget for anything. We never have. My husband makes $1400/month (sometimes $1600) after tax.

I guess I just feel discouraged a lot, because we want so badly to save money (we don’t ever want debt), it just doesn’t feel possible. We’ve been trying for four years to save money and it just gets depleted because my husband’s hours get cut (which seems to happen to us a lot, no matter who he works for) and he can’t find more work. Any advice or encouragement for those of us who do rent because it’s cheaper, but have to use up more than half our income on our housing?

We’re paying $900/month here (water, sewer and garbage included). That leaves $500/month to spend on the rest of our bills — phone, electricity, internet, etc. We don’t have cable (for obvious reasons), and we have a great deal on internet and phone, and I use coupons like crazy to save money on everything, but with our two kids (3 and 1), it’s just barely enough to get by (well, it’s not right now, we’re getting behind on bills).

I hate how broke we are all the time (and always have been). Thankfully, the only debt we have is a bill we’re a couple months behind on. But we don’t have a car payment (our old car is desperately in need of repairs though — I’m afraid the tires are going to fall off, but we can’t afford to fix it!), we tithe, we don’t have credit cards, etc. But it just seems impossible to set money aside for big purchases (or even little purchases, like getting the car fixed!).

I have no idea how to remedy this situation. I do odds and ends from home. I clean houses when I can, and that sort of thing, but that brings in an average of $25/month, and my husband is already burnt out working as often as he is. He’s had no luck finding a second job (he’s already working so much already), either. I’m just not sure how to get ourselves out of this hole!

I wish you lived closer, Audrey, and I’d have you over and give you a big hug and sit down with you over a cup of tea to try and encourage you. I know how it feels when it seems like you’re working so hard and getting no traction. You’re wondering how on earth the ends are going to meet at the end of the month or what you’d do if your car breaks down or how you’re going to pay your utility bill.

Five years ago, that’s exactly where we were. And it was really, really hard. I’d grown up being taught to trust in God, but in those first few years of marriage, the rubber met the road and I realized that actually trusting God was a whole lot harder than it sounded.

The lessons we learned during those times of feeling pretty desperate financially were so hard but, oh so good! And we wouldn’t trade them for the world. It strengthened our trust in the Lord, it strengthened our marriage, it matured us as individuals and it inspired us to learn all sorts of creative and entrepreneurial things we never dreamed we’d learn or attempt!

Here are some things which helped us to pull through that time and start making traction little by little:

1) Pray

God delights in providing for those who trust in Him. Claim His promises. Pray His Word back to Him. Cry out to Him for provision, for wisdom, for guidance, for creativity, for open doors. Pray about the little things and the big things; nothing is too small or big for God.

And realize that He will never, never, never, no never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)!

2) Stick To Your Budget

Be very, very vigilant in adhering to your written budget. While it might seem like you’re not getting traction, sticking with your budget will ensure that you’re not sliding backwards or getting any farther behind than your possibly have to.

3) Realize That Your Attitude Can Make or Break the Situation

I wholeheartedly believe that you’re not stuck unless you choose to be. You can always be learning, growing, improving yourself and seeking to improve your financial situation — even if it seems that your actual income is staying the same.

Have a cheerful, grateful spirit. Focus on counting your blessings rather than all the difficult things in your life. And determine, by the grace of God, that you are going to do all you can to make the most of your situation, to stretch your resources as far as possible and to use any extra time you have in your day to increase your income.

4) Set Microscopic Goals To Begin With

No matter your income or financial situation, you can set goals, even if they are microscopic. You likely can’t save $100 this month, but I’m guessing that if you squeezed, you might be able to save $2 or $5 — or maybe even $10. Start there and set this aside in a savings account as your Emergency Fund (or however else you want to designate it) and add to it each month. Over time, you just might be surprised at how it will grow!

In addition, don’t just set goals for saving money, set goals for earning money, too! You said that you’re usually doing around $25 per month cleaning houses. What if you were to challenge yourself to bump that number up to $35 this coming month? And then little bit, by little bit, continue to bump it up.

I also recommend setting goals for improving yourself — such as skills to learn and books to read. Choose things which will help you be able to increase your income, make wise financial choices and which will encourage you in your current situation.

As always: don’t bite off more than you can chew. I’d suggest starting by setting two to four tiny goals each month. Once you accomplish those, add a few more. When you feel ready, increase the goals by a tiny little bit and then a little bit more. Setting goals — even if they are teensy-tiny — and then actually reaching them can give you enormous encouragement and you just might be amazed at the momentum it gives you!

5) Look For Any Extra Cash You Can Come Up With

You mentioned that you clean houses, if you are looking to expand, consider contacting local multi-unit rentals to see if they need someone to clean their units when a renter moves out. Or make connections with realtors and ask them about cleaning foreclosed homes for them or having them recommend you to sellers who want to have their home professionally cleaned after they move out.

Think outside the box of what normal professional cleaners do and you’ll likely land upon some really successful ideas. Contact business owners and offer to clean their office space. Advertise your business on Craigslist. Offer a discount to your current customers if they refer you to others who then end up using your services.

You also said you have a blog and that you’re currently making about $2 per month off it. I’d suggest you try to learn and implement some of the suggestions on BloggingWithAmy.com in order to steadily increase that each month.

While some may disagree with me, I think almost anyone who is willing to put in some time and effort can earn at least an extra $50 to $100 per month by spending three hours of blogging each week. You already have your blog set up and running, so I’d encourage you to work on monetizing it and growing it — if it’s something you enjoy.

6) Improve Yourself

Seek to make the most of every opportunity to learn, to grow, to glean. Always be learning new things, trying new things and coming up with new ideas. Don’t be content with the status quo.

Read good books which challenge and motivate you. As much as is possible, remove negative influences from your life which just suck time and energy. Replace them with things that encourage and inspire you.

7) Don’t Give Up

Finally, do not give up. Your situation will not change overnight; gaining traction is not instantaneous. But if you’re willing to keep working hard, to keep experimenting, to keep setting goals, to keep pressing forward, to keep sticking with the budget and to keep going when the going gets tough, it will pay off.

Don’t lose heart! Keep looking to the Lord and asking Him to provide and guide you — and see Him do amazing things!

5 Oct 2010   ·   302
Money Saving Mom

My Minimalist Wardrobe (vlog)

My husband shot this quick video of me last night giving you a little peek at my minimalist wardrobe, since I’ve received so many questions about my six mix and match outfits. If you’re a fashionista or you like variety, you’ll might be a little horrified (or very horrified!), but it’s what works for me and it saves me so much time and effort to keep it simple!

I was going to include a detailed explanation of how this works and my criteria for choosing clothing and keeping my closet pared down. Instead, I’m going to just post up the video and then if you have questions, I’ll either answer them in the comments or in a follow-up post.

{My apologies that the video is so skinny. I totally forgot that we needed to turn the phone the other way to shoot this. We’re still learning and will eventually get the hang of video blogging… maybe!}

4 Oct 2010   ·   73
Money Saving Mom

The Rewards of Pushing Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

Guest post by Heather

Learning to sew was the smartest financial decision I’ve ever made.

I was in 7th grade when I took home economics. I wasn’t very good. I remember the teacher made us start by sewing lines across paper. My lines were never straight. In fact, if it wasn’t for the cooking half of that class, I might have actually failed!

Fast forward a few years. My stepmother bought me a small sewing machine for Christmas. I believe it was a Barbie sewing machine. I tried and failed, tried and failed. I simply did not have the patience for it.

It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realized how important it was for me to learn to sew. I’m a girly girl. I like pretty dresses and boutique-style clothing, but my bank account (and my cheapskate nature) doesn’t.

For my daughter’s first birthday, I wanted her to wear something special and unique. After a quick scan of area boutiques and $100 price tags, I was determined that once and for all, I was going to conquer my failure at sewing. It took several tries. It took a lot of ripped seams. I remember shedding some tears.

Learn to sewWhen I was done, I had so much more than a pretty party outfit in front of me. I had a new skill — a skill that I honestly wasn’t sure I was capable of mastering. I began to sew the majority of my daughter’s clothes and as my talent grew, my confidence in myself rose.

Others took notice as well. Before I knew it, I was sewing clothes for friends and family members and friends of friends. The girl that couldn’t sew a straight line was making an income off of her new talent (albeit tiny!). I learned how to mend, I learned how to get more mileage out of my family’s clothing and I had a newfound confidence in my ability to learn to do things myself.

That was only seven months ago. Since then I have expanded my do-it-yourself mentality to:

  • home repairs
  • scratch cooking
  • couponing and strategic shopping

The confidence I gained from conquering a past failure opened up so many doors and windows for me. It gave me a sense of control over myself and over my financial freedom. I didn’t realize the potential in me to find a passion that could not only save my family money, but also make my family money. I didn’t realize that this passion would translate into every single area of my life.

Don’t take “no” for an answer. If you think you can’t, prove to yourself you can. You never know your hidden potential until you push yourself past the edge of your comfort zone. Everyone has a marketable skill, some of us just require a bit of a nudge (or in my case…a party outfit!) to find it.

Heather Shaw is a wife and mother of 2 who resides in Houston Texas. She has a passion for sewing, scratch cooking and getting the best deals for her family. She blogs about her life and how she works hard to save her family money at Family Friendly Frugality.

Have you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and discovered new skills or passions in the process? Tell us about it in the comments.

2 Oct 2010   ·   166
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: I think I’ll just stick to shopping the Target clearance racks!

We didn’t buy a whole lot in the way of groceries this week other than a quick trip to the store to get the basics: bread, peanut butter, milk and cheese. We had plenty of fruit and frozen veggies and meat already on hand, so we didn’t need anything else to round out our simple menu for the week.

We also popped into the store three other times this week because I was trying to get free tuna. My friend had tipped me off to the fact that Dillons had Bumble Bee tuna on sale for $0.99 this week and there were blinkie coupons right next to it which would make it free. Well, I didn’t make it to the store until 24 hours later — and that store was completely out!

My husband stopped by two other Dillons stores during the week and they were also completely out, too. He did manage to pick up some of the coupons, though, which I’m holding onto for another sale. And I’m still holding out hope that maybe our nearby store will restock because I’d love to score some free tuna.

But if I don’t, oh well! I’ll just be glad for all the people in our area who were able to get the great deal and next time I’ll know better than to wait a day before getting to the store.

In non-grocery-store deal news, I headed to Gap today to spend my $50 Groupon. I’d purchased it for free with Gap referral credit and was pretty stoked because I’m in serious need of a few new tops for Fall and Winter. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Gap in my life so I naively thought that $50 could cover the costs of at least two or three tops for me.

I walked into the store and immediately could tell I was out of my league. Not only was I the only one in the store wearing flip-flops and jeans and a t-shirt from the Target clearance rack, but when I walked up to the jeans display, the first pricetag I saw was over $60! For a pair of jeans! Um, I could buy over 50 pairs of jeans for that price at the thrift store Dollar Days!

Not to be deterred, I started on the hunt for the clearance rack. When I finally found it, I only had to do a quick scan to determine that it was one of the most measly, overrated “clearance” racks I’ve ever seen. And the “clearance” prices were anything but clearance in my book.

So I quickly nixed my original plan of buying clothes for myself and went over to the children’s section hoping maybe the clearance racks over there would have more to offer. Once again, I was thoroughly under-impressed.


I finally ended up with a pair of jeans for Silas, a denim skirt for Kaitlynn, some underwear for the girls and a headband for Kaitlynn. I calculated that this should be right under my $50 budget and so I wouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket. The register would only let me pay with the Groupon if I had a total over $50, so I ended up throwing in the turquoise hair band (which was priced at over $3!!! for a little hair band!).

I have no idea what happened, but when the manager told the sales lady how to key in the Groupon, it took off the price of my entire order — including the $1.07 over that I owed. I tried to pay since I pointed out that I owed them money, but they said that since the Groupon took everything off and that’s how their register read it, that I didn’t owe them anything.

After that kind gesture and them refusing the money I was trying to give them, my view of Gap was bumped up a little bit. But I still am guessing that will be the first and last time I shop there.

Now, please don’t think I’m saying that you shouldn’t shop at Gap or pay $60 for a pair of jeans. I know some people have special sizing requirements or just find that Gap clothes work better. And from the comments on my Facebook page, it would seem that some of you really know how to find bargains there!

We all get to choose where and how we spend our own money, so if you prefer to shop at Gap, go for it — provided you can afford it in your budget. Hey, after all, you might shop at Gap and make your own homemade tortillas! As for me, I think I’ll stick to buying tortillas and shopping the Target clearance racks. 😉

___________________

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

1 Oct 2010   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: Unemployment

We paid cash!

A testimony from Jill

My husband and I met in high school and started dating. We went to college together and although his military obligations slowed his academic progress, we are both now holders of bachelor’s degrees and I am nearly finished with my master’s degree.

Since we both finished school in such a difficult economic climate, we are both still looking for jobs. We have been on the job search for over six months so far and have yet to touch our credit card or have to ask family for money.

How we are doing it

When I started college, I had a decent savings account and a savings bond that matured just as I entered college. I invested the bond and was very careful with how I spent my savings.

  • Each semester, I would take as many classes as I could to limit my fees.
    • Taking department courses together each semester instead of spreading them out over several semesters allowed me to pay department fees only once instead of every semester.
    • Making sure I used school resources instead of paying for my own, like printers, gym and counseling also allowed me to save money.
  • I did not splurge on items (like a new computer) during college. I made do with what I had and waited until Christmas or my birthday to request items that I needed from family members.
  • I worked summers with my family to earn money. All of that money went into savings to help build it back up.

After I graduated, I still hadn’t touched the bond that had nearly doubled in good investments. During that time, my husband deployed to Iraq, putting his degree on hold, and prompting me to enroll in a graduate program. I continued to manage my savings and my money like I did in college even though we now had a regular income from his pay. I also worked as a TA in the department which covered my tuition with only a little left over.

Now that we are both done with school, we are still living off of the investment. We have to be creative about our spending though, because we don’t know how long our unemployment will last.

  • We are both taking small, low paying jobs to offset the amount we have to take from savings.
  • I’m working as an adjunct professor which pays less than a quarter of our monthly expenses, but that’s money we don’t have to take out of savings now.
  • I take pictures for my family and friends at a discounted cost to them which provides us with a little bit of income as well.
  • We meal plan, clip coupons, search for deals and limit any extra expenses that we can. Since we aren’t working, we are using some of our extra time to save extra money.
  • One thing I have trouble with is wants. I continue to remind myself that many things are wants and not needs. To have a place to go with those, I’m keeping a list of my ‘wants’ on my computer. I include the costs, category, purpose (if it doesn’t have a purpose, I don’t include it), and priority for each entry. This has helped me to really examine my wants, so when I get extra money from different things (or if I noticed any item dramatically on sale/free) it won’t be squandered away.
  • If need be, I have ‘luxury’ expenses marked in our budget (cell phones for example) that we can lose if I begin to worry about the life of our savings account.

We Paid Cash for UnemploymentOne major thing that has impacted us during this process was Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University that we participated in last year. It helped encourage us to make smart choices when it came to our money and gave us the knowledge we were lacking in some areas.

Jill is finishing her master’s degree in Communication Studies at North Texas and lives with her husband and furbaby, Bella Mia. She blogs about her life and experiences at her blog, Two of a Kind.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

30 Sep 2010   ·   241
Money Saving Mom

Why I Don’t Make Homemade Tortillas

A few months ago, I got an email from someone who was really bothered by the fact that I don’t always make tortillas from scratch. This person felt I’d save so much money by doing so and they were kind enough to pass along their tried and true recipe.

While I very much appreciate the input from this reader (I learn so many amazing things from you all and am constantly challenged by your frugal ways!), I have to disagree with her that I’d save a lot of money by making my own tortillas.

Your prices might be entirely different, but here in Kansas, we can pretty routinely pick up a package of 8-10 tortillas for around $1. When I priced out the ingredients of homemade tortillas, I figured up that it would likely cost me around $0.30 to $0.40 per batch.

So yes, you could say that homemade tortillas are slightly less expensive than store bought tortillas. However, you forgot to factor in one very important part of the equation: TIME.

To make 8-10 tortillas from start to finish would likely take me around 30 minutes. At that rate, I’d be spending 30 minutes of my time to save around $0.60 to $0.70 total.

I could probably figure out a way to make them more efficiently if I did a bigger batch, so let’s say I became the world’s fastest tortilla-maker and I could whip out 70 tortillas from start to finish in an hour. At this rate, I’d still only be saving less than $5 for an hour’s worth of work.

If your family loves homemade tortillas, or you don’t want to eat some of the ingredients in store bought tortillas,  or you love making tortillas, or you go through seven packages of tortillas a week and the least expensive you can find them in your area is $4.99 per package, then by all means, make homemade tortillas. But, don’t do it merely for the cost-savings because, unless you live where tortillas cost $7 per bag, the savings per hour is so slim that your time would very likely be better spent elsewhere.

It’s imperative, in seeking to be better home economists, that we value our time as well as our money. It is easy to get so caught up in trying to pinch every penny, that we lose sight of the big picture. We can become so focused on trying to save money that we end up spending hours and hours and hours of time to save a mere few dollars.

Personally, if I’m not saving at least $20 per hour by implementing a particular frugal practice, than I’d rather invest my time elsewhere. Of course, this rule doesn’t apply if it’s just something I really enjoy doing. However, if I’m doing something primarily for the money saved, then it is important to me that I’m actually saving money!

If you feel like you are spinning your wheels and going nowhere when it comes to saving money, I encourage you to stop and consider how much money you are saving per hour in your various money-saving activities. If it’s below minimum wage, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board and find some other money-saving practices to implement which will give you a better return on your investment of time and energy.

After all, time is money, too.

photo by This Year’s Love

29 Sep 2010   ·   105
Money Saving Mom

When Renting is a Wise Choice

We’re rather radical when it comes to finances. We live on a cash budget, we don’t have credit cards or debt, we just finished up saving up to pay cash for our first home—oh, and we’ve also rented our entire marriage—all seven years of it so far!

Now, let me reassure you that I’m not here to make the case that everyone should rent, or that you should only buy a house if you can pay 100 percent down. Our circumstances were unique: We had a really good head start—we went into marriage without debt, and we also had all the money saved up to pay cash for law school. Because of these factors and the good income we now have, we have been able to live on significantly less than we make, which has allowed us to save enough to pay cash for our first home.

While I don’t expect many people to follow in our exact footsteps, I do think renting gets a bad rap. In fact, I’m going to make a counterintuitive statement: I think renting can be a really wise choice for some situations.

Read the full article.

Note: This article was written a few months before we bought our house. Also, I just thought I should clarify that I had committed to writing three articles for Currency.com months ago — and just found out a few weeks ago, to my dismay, that this new financial site was going to be sponsored by American Express.

I would not have written the articles for them had I known of the AMEX sponsorship, as that would be a conflict of interest for me as I do not support or encourage the use of credit cards. However, the articles were already written and slated for publication so I wanted to share this one with you as I’m often asked whether I believe renting or buying is a better option.

photo by ASurroca