Showing posts with label faithfully frugal father. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faithfully frugal father. Show all posts

Thursday, February 12, 2015

5 Steps to Get the Best Mortgage


5 Ways to Get the Best Mortgage



1) Do Your Research - Before you even step into a house you should have an idea what current interest rates are. Do a little internet research and ask friends and family what types of interest rates they got. You can use this to inform yourself as to what to expect when walking into an appointment with a mortgage broker. It will help you to know if a rate you are offered is good, bad or average from what you have seen with your research. Be mindful that these rates are always changing as well.



2) Get lower rates by having a larger down payment. This also may influence the price of house you are seeking.



3) Get pre approved for a loan at a place that is close, easy and accessible. You do not need to end up using that pre approved loan for your mortgage; it just gets you in the door to view houses. (We chose Chase Bank because it was easy and you can even do it over the phone!)



4) Shop around!!! When we secured our mortgage I went to at least five different places to get quotes. I paired this with research I had done and knew what offers were good and which weren't. Also, by accident I found that bringing all of the folders from potential lenders with me as I went place to place really caught the attention of the lenders. They knew I was shopping around and I felt as though they knew they needed to be more competitive to get my business. I ended up having a couple of places get into a little bit of a bidding war to get my business and I came out on the better end of that!



5) Refinance for a lower rate. Depending on the time left on your loan it is a great idea to refinance. A lot of people I talk to hate all of the "work" they have to do in order to do so. There are fees so you really need to look at whether or not you end up saving money. When refinancing we ended up saving $3,000 over the life of a loan. It doesn't sound like a lot when you look at the monthly change, however, it was the easiest $3,000 I have ever made/saved.





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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Semi Crazy Ways to Save Money

I wanted to create an interesting list of ways you can save money that are a little less practical than some of the other things I have posted. I'm affectionately calling these my "Crazy" ways to save money. So here it goes...



1) Go #2 at work if possible.  This is sure to save you money on toilet paper and water/sewage usage. In addition, you will have to clean your bathroom less and use fewer aerosols or odor maskers when you are finished.



2) Extreme Home Temps. In the Summer set your A/C between 80-85 (or higher) and run multiple fans. Fans take a lot less energy than an A/C unit. For the Winter months use a programable thermostat to keep you house between 60 and 62 in the waking hours (we wear slippers, sweat pants and sweat shirts around the house) and down to 52 to 55 during the sleeping hours (you'd be surprised how well you can sleep in the cold). You'll want to set it to start warming up so it is not crazy cold when you awake in the morning.



3) Take Condiments and Disposable Utensils When You Can and Wash Them. Another crazy thing we do is grab extra condiments and disposable utensils when we can. The condiments are great for when you are traveling at a later date or want individual servings. The utensils are great to take to work with you for your lunch but make sure to keep them and wash them for additional uses. The best part is that you don't pay for any of it!



4) Wear Pants for Multiple Days. This may be TMI for those that know me, but I wear the same pair of pants multiple times before washing. I feel as though pants don't get all that dirty with one day of wearing. What I generally do is rotate a few pairs of dress pants and a couple of pairs of jeans for a couple of weeks and then wash them all together with other clothes. Not only do I not need as many pairs of pants, but I do significantly less laundry than if I wore a different pair every day. (This works with towels as well). It is practical to have a drawer or part of the closet where you put the things that you have already worn so you can keep them separate.



5) Time Your Showers So You Don't Waste Water. We found out that we can take really fast and adequate showers when camping in Acadia National Forest when you had to pay for showers and they were timed (I think it was one minute). So it is reasonable to think that you can take a 3 minute shower if you are conscious of your time. Get a time app that is free for your smartphone such as this one: http://goo.gl/4S7E6j (I use this one with my Android phone). This will drastically cut down on your water bill in a family home. You can also add a energy efficient shower head such as this: http://goo.gl/9tw3AX. It may not look beautiful but it will save you money.



6) Alter Some Driving Habits. If you are like me you like to go fast and not waste time. However, you will get the best mileage out of your car by going between 60 and 65 on the expressway. I personally look at opportunity cost with saving time and money to decide how fast I'm going to go. Another fun game to try while driving that will save on gas is to try to keep your RPMs under 2,000 when accelerating and trying to coast to stops when coming to stop lights and stop signs.



7) Use Reusable Wipes Instead of Toilet Paper. Now this one seems to be a better money saver for the ladies. I do not recommend doing this with poo (there's been a lot of bathroom talk on this post :p ). You can either purchase reusable wipes that are used when children use reusable diapers or make your own with a sewing machine and spare or clearance fabric. These will get washed with the laundry and reused. Another similar way to save would be by using a handkerchief instead of facial tissue as well.



8) Only Fill Light Fixtures Half Full with Lights. In our bathrooms we have these light bars above the mirrors. We only put half of the lights in place and there is more than enough light still. It doesn't even look all that bad!



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FFF

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Grocery Savings



One of the largest portions of our budget as a family is groceries. The price of groceries can add up very quickly especially due to the fact that we are fairly conscientious about trying to purchase organic products whenever possible. This in itself is a financial investment because paying a little more for our fruits and veggies should cost less than potential health problems later due to health hazards related to pesticides and potentially harmful GMOs.



My wife does a majority of the shopping during the school year and I hit the store some more during the summer due to my profession as a teacher. One thing that she has done is she has made a spreadsheet with prices of common items we purchase and where they are cheapest. The main businesses that we shop at which are included on the list are Costco, Meijer, Aldi, and a co-op of Country Life Natural foods. Please note that these shopping options are in the Grand Rapids, MI area. A great idea for a family trying to save money is to make their own spreadsheet with the stores they commonly shop. Then you can easily update prices at each place as you shop using a smart phone.

Here is the spreadsheet that she uses! Feel free to print it off and use it too!
http://goo.gl/1JN2pR

Here is a screen shot example of the spreadsheet but the link is the only way to get a great view.






Of course nothing beats a sale price so double check the sale price against your spreadsheet! You may notice that there is not a lot of animal product options on this list. This is due to the fact that we try to have a whole food/plant based diet for personal health reasons. We also will spend more if an organic option is available. This spreadsheet may be a great starting point for a family to save some money on common everyday items.

Before going shopping she also checks for coupons on  Meijer's M Perks and looks for deals on Saving Addiction http://goo.gl/TFg8Aa.


For more information about Country Life Natural foods check out this link: http://goo.gl/nhh0VI




Another resource that I have heard folks have success with but have not tried myself is the Retail me Not app: http://goo.gl/fL7Fs0



Look forward to reading more about how to save even more money when grocery shopping!

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the blog please subscribe by entering your email into the email update box on the right column.

FFF

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Quick Tip Tuesday: How to Freeze Avocados

A regular staple in our diet is avocado. It is creamy, versatile and has really healthy fats. What is a problem is that we are frugal and avocados can be pretty expensive for a small amount of food. A great way to stretch your budget and have avocado more often is to buy them on sale (usually between $0.50 a piece and $1.00 a piece) and freeze them!


Now, this won't work very well if you are looking to use slices of avocado. It is much better for using avocado in recipes or dips. According to an article at Huffington Post http://goo.gl/KWfvTp you can either half the avocados, remove the skin and then freeze or mash them, add a little lemon juice and freeze (we like to put them in quart sized bags). We have never tried the halving methods but have tried the mash with some success!

Make sure to check out the Huffington Post link for recipe ideas for those avocados!

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FFF

Friday, January 30, 2015

Saving Money on Ground Beef - Taco Meat Recipe






Meat is often the most expensive part of any meal, especially if you try to buy high quality organic grass fed ground beef like us. Even after shopping around we still pay $4.99/lb at Costco, but we looking into buying part of a cow from a local farmer (post to come!).  An easy way we have found to save money on meat is simply to use less with each meal. Meals with meat as an ingredient such as chicken noodle soup, lasagna, or enchiladas use a lot less meat than a meat centered dish such as steak, pork chops, or marinated chicken. You can easily decreased your grocery bill by replacing one meat-centered meal a week with a vegetable or bean-centered dish.

Another method to reduce your meat budget is to stretch your meat! Not with artificial fillers like many fast food restaurants, but instead with wholesome legumes such as lentils. The easiest example of this is with taco meat. After cooking our ground beef we add cooked lentils and then season them both with taco seasoning. Most people can hardly tell the difference which we observed when we cook tacos for a group of young adults at a weekend retreat. Cooking for 40 people on a small non-profit budget teaches you to be frugal!



The ratio of meat to lentils is up to you and can easily be adjusted. For those that are not used to lentils we recommend starting with 75% meat to 25% lentils and transitioning to 50/50 (we go even further and usually use 75% lentils to only 25% meat). With anything, change can be hard so gradually transitioning to more lentils is usually better. When you first start eating more beans and lentils you may notice increased flatulence (farting! lol). The good news is that your body adjusts within two weeks. So that old saying schoolyard saying - Beans, beans...



.. is only half true! Even if you only cut your meat from 100% to 75% your price will be greatly reduced.



For those that need proof: Let’s figure a family of 4 (two adults and two children) are going to be eating tacos for dinner. To be generous we will estimate that each person will eat 1/2lb of taco meat.
4 people X ½ lb =2 lbs
2lb meat x $5/lb= $10 meat


If you replace 50% of the meat with lentils which usually cost less than $2 for a 1lb bag (5 cups cooked) you can cut your cost by $4.20.
50% meat= 2 cups (1lb)
50% lentils= 2 cups cooked lentils


with lentils being $2 for 1lb bag or 5 cups cooked
$2/5 cups= $0.40/cup


Total total of “taco meat” (50% meat 50% lentils)= $5.80
Total Savings using 50/50 “taco meat”= $4.20
(Of course bigger families would save even more!)


Still not convinced? Let’s pretend you make our “taco meat” once a month you would save $50.40/year. That is not including using lentils in enchiladas, burritos, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, sloppy Joe's, Shepard's pie, etc.


  1. Rinse lentils in a strainer
  2. Cover with water in a saucepan or pot (use the same one you plan to cook them in to save dishes)
  3. Soak overnight on the counter
  4. Drain and cover with water again
  5. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20- 30 minutes or until soft. Drain any remaining water.
No time to soak or forgot to plan ahead: Follow the same directions but increase cook time to 30-45 minutes.


How to Cook Lentils (Dry and NOT Soaked)
  1. Rinse lentils in a strainer
  2. Cover with water in a saucepan or pot
  3. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Drain any remaining water.


Time Saving Tips (Time is Money!)
When cooking lentils you can cooked the whole bag and freeze in two cup portions for using later. Two cups of frozen lentils quickly thaw when placed in the pan with cooked ground beef. Make sure you have enough seasoning (link) for both the lentils and beef after they are mix together. If it becomes too dry add some water you saved after draining cooked lentils.


Save even more money by making your own taco seasoning. I make a triple batch of the spicy version and save it in an airtight container. Here is the recipe for homemade taco seasoning(link):




Taco Seasoning


2 TBSP chili powder (spicy version: 2 1/2 TBSP)
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper or cayenne (spicy version: ½ tsp cayenne)


Directions: Mix together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. If you want a spicy version add more of the chili powder and cayenne pepper. Those that do not like spicy feel free to reduce chili powder and cayenne or completely leave out.  To make a smoky version add smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the blog please subscribe by entering your email into the email update box on the right column.

FFF

How to Cook Dry Lentils


How to Cook Lentils (Soaked) - Recommended for better nutrients and digestion
  1. Rinse lentils in a strainer
  2. Cover with water in a saucepan or pot (use the same one you plan to cook them in to save dishes)
  3. Soak overnight on the counter
  4. Drain and cover with water again
  5. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20- 30 minutes or until soft. Drain any remaining water.
No time to soak or forgot to plan ahead: Follow the same directions but increase cook time to 30-45 minutes.

How to Cook Lentils (Dry and NOT Soaked)
  1. Rinse lentils in a strainer
  2. Cover with water in a saucepan or pot
  3. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Drain any remaining water.



Time Saving Tips (Time is Money!)
When cooking lentils you can cooked the whole bag and freeze in two cup portions for using later. Two cups of frozen lentils quickly thaw when placed in the pan with cooked ground beef. Make sure you have enough seasoning (link) for both the lentils and beef after they are mix together. If it becomes too dry add some water you saved after draining cooked lentils.


Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the blog please subscribe by entering your email into the email update box on the right column.


FFF

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quick Tip of the Day: How to Save with Amazon Prime

If you missed the deal it is alright! There are still savings to be had using Amazon Prime!


Here's how you can get even MORE out of it!


  • Arrange with a close friend or family member to split the cost of the membership and only use one person's account (you really have to trust them!).

  • You can ship to multiple addresses and use multiple forms of payment so you could pay for your own stuff and get it shipped to your house.

  • Two people can stream video at the same time so both families can watch at the same time as well!

  • Kindle books can be sent to multiple devices including Android phones, internet browsers and any tablet. You could easily share this as well.

For an even cheaper option that does not involve streaming you can add up to four different people. If you split the cost of Prime evenly that would be about $25 a person per year. You may want to think of a different arrangement because only the originator of the account can take advantage of the video and music options.Maybe a $20, $20, $20, $40 split with the person paying $40 getting the streaming ability.



Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the blog please subscribe by entering your email into the email update box on the right column.

FFF

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