SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











In my house, you can pretty much count on a crockpot meal on Mondays. I have faculty meetings, Grizzly has pool, and Pioneer Woman’s husband joins us. Occasionally, when I can’t make up my mind, I text the Red Bull for input (chili!!!!), but that’s kind of rare.

Last week, when we learned the cold front was coming in, I ended up with pot roast stuck in my head.

By the time I went to the store, I felt poorly in more than one way. And for some reason, cow is expensive right now. I’m talking $13+ for a decent sized roast.

Or you can get a 6 pound pork roast for a little over $7.

I always crockpot pork roast with some barbecue sauce. Grizzly likes to put them on the grill. But I really wanted something different. Pinterest and Google both brought about some interesting finds. What I ended up with was combination of a few recipes.

SoBoMama’s Fall- Apart Pork Roast

  • 1 roast, thawed. (Mine actually contained a bone – and if you know me, you know I have bone issues!)
  • Injection kit (We always buy Tony Chachere’s garlic and butter or herb and butter, clean the “shot-sticker,” and re-use)
  • Salt and Pepper (no real measurement, just to taste)
  • 8 oz. Coca Cola
  • Butter (or margarine or whatever you use in your house)
  • A half cup of coffee
  • Worcestershire Sauce

At 4 A.M., when I arose to go back to the real world after Christmas Break, I retrieved the roast from the fridge and chunked (technical term!) it in the crockpot.  I sprinkled it with a little Worcestershire and then left it alone for a minute while I concocted my injection.  In a microwave-safe measuring cup (thank you, LilCajunChef!), I combined 1/2 stick of butter, a splash of Worcestershire, and a half cup of kind of strong coffee.  I microwaved the cup of stuff 1 minute (long enough to melt the butter) and whisked the mess out of it.  Then I pulled it up in my injector and injected the heck out of the roast in as many spots as I could.  I added eight ounces of Coca Cola, dashed it with salt  and pepper, turned the crockpot on low, put the lid on, and left it alone till I came home from work. At which point, it was totally juicy and falling apart.

Can I just say nobody starved Monday night?  The monkeys, Pioneer Woman, Grizzly, the Red Bull and I all had plenty to eat and there was enough left for pulled pork sandwiches Tuesday night.

You know I’m all about the freezer cooking, but I’m not sure how this would do prepped ahead like that.  It literally took all of 10 minutes to prepare from the start Monday morning.  If I were to freeze this, I would wait to inject, or maybe not even inject at all.  I think the coffee and Coca Cola and Worcestershire keep the roast plenty tender.  I didn’t even brown ahead of time.

With the roast, we had macaroni and cheese (boxed – ugh!) and baked beans.  And the Realest Chick I Know keeps fussing for the “recipe,” though there kind of isn’t one.  Go figure!

What’s your pork roast secret?

~ Katie

Advertisements


I had the most honorable of intentions for the money section of my household notebook. Have you heard the old adage about the road to hell? So as I refocus on organizing my life – yes, I fall off the wagon every year – I am looking for a way to get my money under control.

Don’t mess with my money.

My favorite source for organization tips is Pinterest. I found several bill binder ideas and took what I liked best from each. The main thing for me? I’m vain. If it’s not cute, I won’t use it!

Scrapbook supplies and a view binder started me off. This is a 2 inch binder. I used 12×12 papers and trimmed to fit. The fleur due lis was a touch of fun.imageimageimageimage

And, having leftover scraps, I repurposed part of my empty can collection:
image

The inside pocket is dedicated to incoming bills. I’ll record the bill and amount on a calendar and slide the bill in the pocket until it’s paid. That back inner pocket is labeled for taxes – W-2 and 1099 forms should be coming in soon.

I put a zippered pouch at the very front for calculator. I will probably put a checkbook and stamps in there, also, for snail mail bills. Behind the pouch is a checklist of bills for the year. The “regular” bills will be listed and checked off as they’re paid. I found the form I’m using right now on Pinterest, but plan to create one of my own.

The first divider has several things behind it.  Grizz and I sat down last weekend and completed a budget form (again, one I found on Pinterest).  After we finished crying, we worked on a debt snowball form, which was pretty cool.  If we follow the snowball to the letter (huh-lo, have you met us??) we could actually be completely debt-free in about ten years.  Including the house!  Unfortunately, life often gets in the way.

In this “bills” section, I also included a 2014 calendar.  As bills come in, we’ll record the information on the calendar and file the bill in the pocket at the front.  As we pay the bills, they’ll be crossed off on the calendar, marked on the checklist, and filed away.  Friday night is when we’ll sit down and go over money, pay bills, and so on.

The next divider has an envelope for receipts.  I tend to just chunk (technical term, folks) receipts into my purse when paying with my bank card.  I’d like to keep up with all the receipts to reconcile with our bank statements when they come in.

Next, I have a section for bank statements.  My plan is to keep 2 months at a time for ready reference in the binder. As the new ones come in, we can file the oldest ones away.

My “Pens” can contains different colored pens to color code the calendar.  The monkeys have some of the same activities, but as they get older, they are doing more of their own thing, too.  I figure color-coding lets me know when Grizz needs to assist because I have to be in two places at once!

One of my other goals this year is to get back on the envelope system.  Granny-at-the-Farm often reminds me that is how I functioned all through college.  Admittedly, my envelopes back then were dedicated to drink specials each night of the week, but I digress.  A few years back, Grizz and I attended the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, and the cash in envelopes was a huge take away for me.  I’m able to pay most of our bills online.  I kind of don’t trust the monkeys with cash for cafeteria money.  But gas, groceries, and dining out?  Absolutely I can do envelopes.

So I’ve also been trying to find cute envelopes, but the prices on Etsy make me cringe…I may settle for making them myself so they can coordinate with the rest of my cuteness!

Anyway, this is what I’m trying out right now.  What do you think?  Any questions or ideas you’d care to share?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



Have I mentioned that my Bunco Babes like my ideas but hate my vocabulary? They believe “cheaptitude” has such a negative connotation! And, honestly, when you really think about it, who wants to be cheap?

I do.

Cheaptitude is a positive attitude about frugality.  Cheaptitude, for me, has been an entire lifestyle change. It involves repurposing, decluttering, couponing, budgeting, organizing, and examining your life in a whole different way.

I like cheaptitude. I love cheaptitude. I live cheaptitude. This is as positive as you choose to make it.

Jeepnmom is having fits with me.  She is having trouble figuring out how to make all of my ideas blend and work at the same time without becoming overwhelmed – or her family throwing her out because her CDO isn’t meshing well with the Life of Cheaptitude.  Which leaves me trying to figure out how I make it all work together.  There is a reason all of my pieces are separate posts!

And I don’t have the answer.  I just do it. I have perfected nothing.  My house is a wreck and I forget that my big monkey has to serve Mass every time the church doors open.  I’m just better at all of this than I was in the past.

So let’s address the first step in the Journey to Cheaptitude.  Honestly, the first thing to do is determine your purpose and set some goals.  Is the clutter in your house making you crazy?  Did you or your partner lose a job and you have to tighten the purse strings?  Are you worried about how smoothly your house would run if you were unavailable suddenly?  Why are you exploring Cheaptitude?  Determine your purpose.  What are your long and short-term expectations from a life of Cheaptitude?  Set your goals.  Once you know your purpose and goals, you can work on putting all of these puzzle pieces together.

Household Management Binder

One of the pieces of the puzzle is a home management binder.  I have several other posts (11, I think) about the sections in a management binder.  My way is not the only way!  It’s just the way it has worked for me.  Tweak it, modify it, make it your own.  As I’ve stated before, my original binder looks nothing like the one(s) I’m compiling now!  A quick Google search can take you to some great starting places.

In my particular baby step system, the first thing you need to do in setting up your binder is gather your supplies.  Some of the basics I use are:

That’s really all you need to get started.  Put all of your junk in your binder and you’ve completed the first step. Easy Peasy.  You may have all of this stuff on hand already.

If you’re feeling spunky and want to get started on filling up your binder, I suggest the Emergency Information section.  This one is pretty easy and you’ll feel accomplished without taking a whole lot of valuable time.

Cleaning

I’m not a naturally neat person, nor did I marry one.  However, my house is not dirty.  And I’ve tried, over the years, to streamline the process.  In order to do this, take a pen and piece of paper and go into every room in your home.  In each room, list every possible cleaning chore that occurs in there.  No joke, right down to cleaning the reflector bowls in the stove.  This list for each room will be potentially overwhelming.  I’m sorry, but it’s the way it has to be.

Now that you have your lists, go through with a highlighter and mark the 5 essential chores for each room. These should be the 5 things that have to be done in order for your home to have a semblance of clean.  Some people call this list the Magic Minimums, some call it Company-Ready chores.  These are the things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep you satisfied with your home.  For example, mine includes “no dishes in the sink, countertops wiped down” etc.

Decide on a frequency for your chores.  I need to dust every week, but the laminate floors need to be swept daily.  Assign a frequency to every chore.  Slide this list into a pocket in your binder.  We’ll come back to it!

Budgeting

Budget is not a favorite word with most people.  But it is necessary when adopting Cheaptitude. Again, set a purpose and goals, because this helps make your budget stick.

When Grizzly and I attack our budget, we start by listing our total, after-tax income.  Then we list our fixed bills (mortgage, car note, etc.), our variable bills (utilities, gasoline, etc.), and our occasional bills (monkey lunch money occurs August-May, air conditioner service contract is renewed once a year).  We include due dates and amounts, and we plan for savings.  Every time my paycheck hits the bank, $10 is automatically transferred into our household savings account, and it takes an act of Congress to convince me to move it!

I strongly suggest a Google search for budgeting tips and forms.  Personally, I like to see it on paper.  That helps us visualize what we can cut back and how we need to redistribute things.

If one of your goals is debt reduction (as mine is), check out Dave Ramsey.  We attended the Financial Peace series a few years ago and it was eye-opening.  I’m snowballing now and it’s working well.

Food

I love food.  I received some amazing goodies during Teacher Appreciation Week, but what stands out is the food (love some meat pies!)  Organizing your food and meal situations is a huge part of Cheaptitude.

Take your handy dandy pen and paper and go to your pantry/cabinet.  Make a list of everything that is in there.  Highlight those things that you always use, always need to have on hand (12 boxes of cereal, anyone?  3 jars of peanut butter?  My friends know I have weird stockpiling tendencies).  Do the same with your fridge and freezer(s).  The highlighted items should form the basis for your grocery list.  Those are also the items you can make your main focus for couponing and stockpiling, huge money savers.

What meals can you make with the standard items in your home?  Planning meals ahead saves time, energy, and money.  Use your coupons, weekly circulars, and family favorite recipes to build a basic menu plan.  I am a huge proponent of freezer-to-crockpot meals – inexpensive, healthy, filling, and tasty.  It is less intimidating to plan a week at a time in the beginning.  Use what you have, and plan one night for leftovers.

Hoarding Stockpiling

One of the tricks to saving money is buying things when they are at their best prices, and buying enough to last until they’re at a good price again. When I started stockpiling, I focused on some of the things that we constantly run out of and spend the most on.  My friends think I’m crazy, but I try to keep 12 boxes of cereal in the pantry at all times.  I have two monkeys, one of whom is a 12 year-old boy ( they should come with warning labels), and Grizzly loves a bedtime bowl of cereal. Ergo, 12 boxes.  When you shop with a purpose, and shop regularly, you get familiar with when you can get a good price on things.  And I’m not particularly brand-loyal, which helps.

I also stockpile toilet paper, shampoo, and shaving needs.  I haven’t purchased a deodorant in a year.  And everyone still smells pretty fresh.

Decluttering

Isn’t it ironic that right after discussing stockpiles I want to talk about decluttering?  My stockpiles are not clutter.  My stockpiles are in established areas that have been set aside, specifically purposed for stockpiling. Decluttering is a whole different thing.

All of us have some kind of clutter in our lives.  Clutter takes up valuable space, energy, time, etc.  I’ve been working for a long time to declutter my home.  I focus on small areas, a drawer or a shelf is a great place to start.

Clear the entire area and clean it up.  Then sort all of those items into categories: put away, throw away, give away, donate.  If the items do not fit into the purpose for that space, find them new homes!  You’ll be amazed at what leaves your home.  And I’m pretty sure you won’t miss it.

I used to set a timer for decluttering.  It works.  If you set a timer for 15 minutes and devote your energy and attention to one area that is bothering you, you can accomplish a lot.

I’m not such a timer girl anymore.  I have a another trick I use to make decluttering “fun.”  A friend of mine, PT Lady, calls me when she’s cleaning toilets.  Well, Jeepnmom and I talk usually once a week, at least, and while we chat, I declutter.  Knowing that my kitchen drawers have been a steaming hot mess and bug the poop out of me, she even texts me occasionally that it is time to tackle a drawer.  It makes the chore more fun.

Routines and Habits

I hear all the time that it takes 21 days to establish a habit.  I think the same pretty much applies to getting routines in place.  Schedule yourself some time each day to declutter, binderize, clean, plan.  I like 15 minute increments, personally, because that’s about the longest I can have time to myself and I can get a ton done in that short amount of time.

I guess these are my suggestions on how to get started and putting it all together.  I don’t have this system perfected, but what system ever is?  It’s a work in progress, and yours won’t look like mine.  But maybe this will get you started (JEEPNMOM!!)

What else do I need to throw in here to help jumpstart your journey?

~ Katie

 

 

 



English: Sample budget

English: Sample budget (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

In order for life to run smoothly, I need lots of routines and structure.  Which is why the Ducks Unlimited dinner thing tonight threw me for a loop when I learned about it at lunch time.  I’m all about Grizzly going to his hunting support group, but it wasn’t on the calendar.

 

Part of developing routines and structure, for me, has been setting and sticking to a budget.  Do I still splurge occasionally?  Well, yes.  But I’m proud of my shrinking debt, my developing emergency fund, and my stockpiles.

 

Problem:  I hate to leave my house.  My Bunco Babes are worried about agoraphobia(spelling??).  I told them I’m not scared to leave, I just prefer not to.  I like to be home.  But this is becoming an issue.

 

I’ve not been going to the grocery.

 

I can feed my family of 5 (yes, the dog counts) and take care of the house (cleaning stuff, paper goods) pretty handily for $50/week.  Between coupons, sales ads, and store loyalty cards, it’s a lot of fun for me.  But to do this, I need to keep up my stockpiles.  And they are dwindling.

 

Because I haven’t been shopping.

 

Mind you, I haven’t bought shampoo or deodorant in at least a year, and I just recently bought toilet tissue.  But my deep freeze has blank spots. My cereals, of which my comfort level is set at 12, have almost disappeared.  I’m scraping things together for dinner (easy recipe to be shared soon!) and lunch snacks are nonexistent.

 

When did staying home become more necessary than maintaining my tight budget?

 

A lesson I am learning is that to save so much money on my grocery trips, I will have to be diligent about shopping.  I have to spend that $50 each week, or else I’ll be paying much more later on.  There is an old saying that t make money, you must spend money.  Well, to save money, I have to spend money, too.

 

So the grocery is about to be added to the calendar every week.  This will re-establish one of my routines.  Hopefully, this hasn’t been a terribly expensive lesson!

 

What is your budget-buster?  Can you figure out what causes it and how to change it?

 

~ Katie

 

 

 



Credit CardThis was the Money & Finance Divider.  I’m doing things differently this go-round, setting up a separate binder, but I’m glad to share how it was set up in the past.

 

One of the most important things in the Money & Finance section is that ugly B-word that so many people my age no longer believe in: BUDGET.  I used to keep both weekly and monthly budgets, along with a spending record.  Was it overkill?  A little.  Was it overwhelming?  Absolutely.  Now I keep a monthly budget and it is much easier to keep these days.  My snowball plan goes with the budget – I love love love watching bills shrink!

 

I also kept up with bills to pay in the binder.  I used pocket dividers labeled Week 1, Week 2, etc., and that is where the bills would live till they were paid.  Now I pay most bills electronically, and the pocket dividers are not as necessary as they were years ago.  I now envision a calendar to track bill paying.

 

Credit Card List:  OMG.  When Grizzly and I were early marrieds, I probably couldn’t have told you what credit cards we had.  We were living on credit, I think.  Years and a Dave Ramsey class later, we’re near the other end of the spectrum.  Thank goodness!  But we do still tote a little plastic.  A list of credit cards, the payment information, and maybe even photo copies (in case of a stolen or lost wallet) would be helpful.

 

I also kept a directory of utilities and subscriptions. I listed the service, our account number, and any relevant contact information for said service.  When we lived in NoBo, our electricity went out at least three times a month, and I was so happy to have a ready reference to call and report an outage!  While we don’t have that issue anymore, I don’t know that Grizzly would be able to change anything on our satellite account or water billing without asking me.  Which is part of why this list is a good idea.

 

Insurance information, a home inventory, and warranty information can be kept here.  Over the years, we’ve added life insurance and home owner’s insurance to top our vehicle insurance.  I also have a small policy through my workplace. So many times, when a spouse or parent passes away, people don’t know what insurances are out there on their loved one.   Having everything in one location aid the big guy in settling things should something ever happen to me.

 

Other things for this section might include:

 

  • Vehicle information: financing, insurance, maintenance.  The blue lemon has its own binder, due to excessive maintenance since it joined our family.
  • Safety Deposit/Fire Box inventories:  This one is necessary because nobody knows where I keep anything important.
  • Banking information:  I’ve always used multiple financial institutions, and keep a list of accounts, as well as statements, with the rest of my financial foo fa.

 

I like everything in one place, easily accessible.  What else should go in a money binder?

 

~ Katie

 

 

 

 



{December 29, 2012}   Stretching My Grocery Buck

My favorite gift for Christmas this year is a gift card to the grocery store.

Gift Card Holders

Gift Card Holders (Photo credit: campbelj45ca)

Cuckoo crazy?  Maybe.  But Visa Giftcards and cash can pay bills – and often do.  A Brookshire’s gift card is only good for my belly or my gas tank. I’ve written before about my grocery budget (this card will take care of a week) and couponing. I feel the challenge all the way to my toes now.

How am I going to stretch this money and get serious bang for my holiday buck?  I want to see if I can get two week’s worth of goodies for $50.  Here is my game plan:

  1. Match my ad to my coupons (duh).  35 cents and under will triple, 50 cents to 36 will double.
  2. Plan a 2-week menu.
  3. Bring my re-usable bags – they’ll get me 5 cents off per bag.  Right now, I have 14 bags, which is a discount of 70 cents.  I think I can come up with even more by using some of my 31 gifts totes.
  4. Use my rewards points to take 5% off my total bill.

Now, I won’t be buying meat with this gift card, unless I find an amazing deal, because we have a deer at the processor right now.  I also won’t be buying paper/plastic/cleaning foo fah because I get that at CVS (my Double Extra Bucks are coming in about 3 days!).  This will be straight food.

The hurdle I may face is that we are still on Christmas Break, meaning my monkeys are home for another week.  Those extra days when I’m back at work, they’ll be eating pb&j corndogs at PawPaw’s, but for the next 9 days, they are my little pantry raiders.  I’ll plan some fiberlicious snacks to cover that.

Do you think I can cover 2 weeks’ groceries with $50?  Any tips you want to share?  I’ll let you know how it goes.

~ Katie



{November 23, 2012}   The Method to My (Coupon) Madness

Coupons Ecover

It started with that crazy show.  That Sunday, I bought 3 newspapers.  And I clipped and clipped and clipped. And I used coupons.  Some of them.

And I’ve learned a few things since then.

Recruit a Money-Saving Buddy

My friend Stephanie started couponing about the time I did.  We traded coupons, alerted each other to amazing deals, and kept each other motivated.  When you’re on a tight budget like I am, every little bit helps!

Coupons from the Sunday Paper

I only purchase one paper on Sundays.  If someone gives me their inserts, I graciously accept them (Thank You, Dad & JB!), but why am I going to spend $10 on papers to save a few dollars with coupons?  It makes no sense to me.

As I’m clipping, if I spot something awesome that I don’t see often, I may go back for more papers.  $1 off Dog Chow is great for me and worth another paper.  Apart from that…..

Printable Coupons

I do use printable coupons.  A lot of products have FaceBook pages that you can “like” and get a coupon.  That’s how I stockpiled my Kool-Aid!  The website I use most for coupons is probably http://www.coupons.com.  In addition, you can sometimes go right to the brand’s site and print coupons.  Google for free coupon sites and you’ll be amazed at what you find.  Be careful, though, because some links that will show up are virus-ridden (thank you, White Rain Kids’ Shampoo).

Loadable Coupons

If you use store loyalty cards, a lot of times you can load the savings right to your card and not have to think about it. This is fabulous!  Both of the groceries that I frequent (Brookshire’s and Kroger) have this option.  However, both of these stores triple hard copy coupons up to 35 cents and double up to 50 cents.  Preloaded coupons do NOT double or triple at these stores.  I only load higher value coupons to my store cards.

Clip What You’ll Use

My Rhonda Belle and I had this conversation today.  She is enjoying clipping coupons but says she’s stopped clipping things she doesn’t use.  This makes sense.  Our time is valuable.  I don’t color my hair so why clip a Clairol coupon?

On the flip side of this, I don’t clip based on brand.  Right now I use the store brand dishwasher soap, but I’ll still clip Cascade or Finish coupons.  Why?  It might save me money!  If I see a coupon for something we use – deodorant, pasta, etc. – I’m not brand-limited.  Clip it and keep it!

Matching Coupons to Sales

It is a rare occasion that I use a coupon right when I clip it.  I know that after X number of weeks, Totino’s pizzas should be going on sale at Brookshire’s.  I pour over the sales ads when they come in and match up the deals to my coupons.  If my family’s beloved frozen pizzas are 4/$5 this week and I have a coupon for $1 off 4, then it goes on my grocery list.  I try to match the coupons to the ads to maximize my savings.

Coupon Match Ups

Don’t pay for your coupon match ups.  There are websites where this is available for free and many SmartPhone apps.  Personally, I check my GrocerySmarts app every Sunday morning to check on deals at my CVS (my other favorite place to shop!).  This app creates a coupon match, lists sales prices, and shows which items are generating Extra Bucks.  I have the free version, which shows one store at a time, and I refuse to upgrade just to compare stores – I don’t shop Wal Mart, Target, Rite Aid, or Walgreen’s often.  There is a GrocerySmarts website where you can see it all and create a printable shopping list.

Organizing Coupons

I used to love the little coupon wallets you can order through the newspaper or buy at the store.  They’re so cute – and collect dust on my shelf.

Coupon wallets and envelopes are not helpful for me.  I end up with expired coupons.  I can’t find the specific coupon that I know is in there somewhere. It’s more frustration and just not worth it for me.

When I first got into couponing, I went to a class (Duh, I’m a teacher). It cost $5 and I didn’t learn much, but it was interesting.  At this class, the instructor was SELLING coupon binders for $20 each.

Really?  I know you need to spend money to make money, but I’m not going to spend money to SAVE money.

I’m a teacher.  I have a ton of empty binders. If you spend $20 on some coupon binder, please do not let me know about it.

  • Supplies for Your Coupon Binder
  • 3 ring binder of your choice
  • trading card binder pages
  • dividers
  • pencil pouch

Like I said, I already had binders on hand and I’m not picky.  The trading card pages I bought at Hobby Lobby ($7.99 for a package of 30 and I used a 40% off coupon – on my phone – so it was under $5), but a quick Google search a minute ago and I found good prices from Amazon.com.  Dividers I also had on hand, but I printed my own on pretty paper from Dollar Tree and slid into page protectors.  My binder is sorted into store areas (pantry, beverages, freezer, baking, feminine supplies, etc.) and in order of my grocery.

There are 9 pockets on each of my pocket pages.  I slide the coupons in, with the soonest expiration at the front.

The pencil pouch holds my store cards, any extrabucks, maybe the coupons I’m already planning to use, a calculator, some cash…..

I use a binder clip to clip my list to the front of my binder.

I’ve heard people say they can’t remember what is in their binder.  For me, this isn’t a problem.  If you spend an hour or two loading your binder each week and cleaning out expired coupons, you’ll get familiar with the contents.

Again, this is just what works for me.  I never see 99.5% savings like the ladies on “that show.”  I’m just not that good, I work too many hours, and if I can stay within $50/week for my family of 4, I’m a happy couponer.  I have seen over 50% savings with my system.  It doesn’t happen really often, because we go through a LOT of milk and meat, but I’m usually at 30-35% saving between my store card and coupons.  And we eat REALLY well on a shoestring budget!

Again, I encourage you to search around the web and see what other people are doing.  Find a method you think will work and try it out.  Modify it.  Make your couponing system your own.

And let me know what you figure out!  Happy Shopping!

~ Katie



et cetera
%d bloggers like this: