Join the challenge!

A few how-to’s and explanations on how to survive a spend-fast. Hope you’ll join me for this February’s Spend Fast Challenge!

This challenge will force you to clean out and use up what you already have and discover time and money you didn’t know you had. Join the adventure!

First: Ask to join the Facebook group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1215035715260083/

Second: Visit the website and sign up for blog notifications:
https://tammylanhamimagesblog.wordpress.com/february-spend-fast-challenge/

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Spending Fast Update

I’ve been gathering my notes on our spending fast last February. If you are thinking of doing one of these, here are a few tips we learned…

First and foremost – AND MOST IMPORTANT…….

1. Stock up on toilet paper!! – You can “make do” with just about anything else in your home but this is one that you simply cannot substitute. Buy more than you think you could possibly need.  Then add one more package.

2. I went the last night of January and purchased my fresh foods like spinach, bananas, apples, kiwi, oranges, pears, etc. Spinach and bananas only last about a week (you can also freeze the ripe bananas) but apples, kiwi, oranges can last longer especially if kept in the fridge and pears can last a little longer if you buy them not entirely ripe.

3. Meal plans were a must for us. I wrote out all 4 weeks of menus while looking through my freezer and pantry. If I had frozen hot dogs, I knew I would need to buy a package of buns.  A great alternative to bread and buns are tortillas – they last much longer before going “stale” or growing green mold and can be used as buns, taco wraps, peanut butter roll ups or just plain sandwiches. It was important to buy the things I would need to use up the stuff in the fridge / freezer / pantry (i.e. buns for the hot dogs, etc.).

4. We also didn’t go to restaurants or out to eat the whole month either so it was important for us to keep snacks and bottled waters with us at all times. We looked at our calendars and double checked for any events that would call for pot luck meals or any special spending situation (birthday party invites, etc.) that would cause us to spend extra money and took steps to resolve or avoid it being an issue.

5.  We didn’t change our habits when it comes to milk.  We often drink almond milk which has a shelf life of up to a month.  We also buy raw cows’ milk from a local farmer.  We drank the cows’ milk the first week, then drank almond the rest of the month.

All in all, we did pretty good. We are going to be doing the same thing again next February. Let me know how yours spending fast goes!  Be sure to leave comments and recommendations for the rest of us!

Stay tuned to see how this project goes…..

Click on “Follow This Blog” over to your top left to get a notice when the next blog comes out!

Tammy Lanham

 

Tammy Lanham is the wife of That Preacher Tommy Lanham, Momma to That cute little artist, Appolonya and that adorable engineer, Dylan.  She homeschools them both.  In her free time, she….. wait – she has no free time…  nevermind….

Thanks for reading!

My Spending Fast – The Lesson of the 4 Old Brushes

nospendingSo I’ve decided to expand our yearly February “no grocery store” commitment.  This year I thought about expanding it to “no restaurants.”  My only 2 exceptions were gasoline and whatever Valentine’s Day plans my husband makes.  The more I thought about it and looked around me at our first world home crammed full of first world “necessities” I became increasingly aware of my “first world spoiled-ness” (Is that even a word?) and was convinced we need to simplify our lives.
tpaper
So, after my “first world” epiphany, I began to plan.  I wrote out a whole month of meal plans carefully planning fresh foods for early in the month and frozen and canned goods for later in the month.  I purchased our typical budget ($400/mo.) worth of food on January 30th.  It took 3 people to roll the carts out and stuff all those groceries into our van!  The only thing I made SURE we had an abundant excess of was toilet paper.  ‘Cause Lord knows, we don’t need to be running out of toilet paper in this house.

We’ve eaten good this first week of the fast.  We had fresh spinach all week, fresh apples, bananas (they were gone by Tuesday), grapes, blueberries and many other goodies.  We ate these fresh produce items first knowing they would spoil quickest.  Confession time:  I will admit we had one slip-up.  We had an incident where we had ordered lunch at an organization a few months ago and they couldn’t find our payment.  We were there, it was lunch and didn’t have time to run home to pick up anything.  So we went to Wendy’s and let the kids eat from the value menu… (I told them they’d better be glad Mommy was being flexible)…. while I sat and drank my free Wendy’s water.  Lesson learned:  From now on, we take a bag of snacks and bottled water with us wherever we go, at least in the month of February.

So, I’ve already spent our budget this month, so how is this saving us money??  My hope is that it will make me think about what we DO have and make use of it instead of me joining in our culture’s “throw it away or buy a new one” mentality.  My only example thus far is this….. our children needed paint brushes for a canvas painting art class they just began taking.  I somehow missed the memo that they needed to bring their own brushes.  I thought the class fee would cover brushes.  In the past, I would have run out and purchased them both their own set of new br1brushes (along with at least $50+ of “necessary” stuff I didn’t know I “needed” until I got to the store).  But because of this spending fast, I asked my daughter to go through all of her paint supplies to see what she could find.  Did she find a whole package of brand new brushes?  Nope!  She dug like she was digging for a golden treasure.  (Did I mention this also accomplished a goal of cleaning up her  art area??)  She squealed when she found 4 used, crusted up old paint brushes.  We washed them up, put them in her backpack and took them to class with her.  She leaves them in class for when her brother goes in right after her and he uses them.  They are careful not to lose them because they are the only ones we own.  Since the brushes cost about $6 per package, I think I’ve saved around $12.  Whoa – that’ll surely make this whole “spending fast” thing worth it, right???

(Do you hear the intended sarcasm??  Go ahead, read it again with the sarcasm….)  Whoa – that’ll surely make this whole “spending fast” thing worth it, right???  BUT a second thought crosses my mind…. I didn’t just save $12.  I saved $62+!!  $12 for brushes and $50 of “needed” junk.  Oh and did I mention…. it taught my children to be happy and thankful for what they do have, to share what they have and to take care of their things….

It taught my children to be thankful for 4 old brushes.  brushes

There are lots of people have have 30 day no-spending challenges or spending fasts, etc.  Google them and maybe they have some good ideas that will inspire you!  Wanna hear the next step in my February project?  My goal is to make $500 extra this month by selling odds and ends using Facebook yard sales and eBay so we can increase our emergency fund……

Stay tuned to see how this project goes…..

Click on “Follow This Blog” over to your left to get a notice when the next blog comes out!

Tammy LanhamTammy Lanham is the wife of That Preacher Tommy Lanham, Momma to That cute little artist, Appolonya and that adorable engineer, Dylan.  She homeschools them both.  In her free time, she….. wait – she has no free time…  nevermind.

Thanks for reading!

Homemade is a GOOD word!

Wanted to share this from one of the writer’s at our Henry County Local newspaper.

The Nom-Nom Diaries: Make your own Instant Oatmeal

                    Submitted by Jonna Spelbring… on Wed, 04/27/2011 – 10:17am
//

As a mild creature of habit, every weekday morning starts with tea and oatmeal for me. I fluctuate between steel cut oats (which I love) and instant oatmeal.

Instant oatmeal is, quite simply, more convenient. And for the longest time, it didn’t occur to me that I could make my own from scratch. After reading a column in the New York Times by Mark Bittman, I had a light bulb moment, and set forth in search of instant oatmeal recipes.

In the end, it’s cheaper per packet, and you can control the type and quality of the ingredients.

All told, the recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, bag and store.

After some tinkering with sugar and spice levels, I finally tweaked the recipe I found. Enjoy:

Homemade Cinnamon-Spice Instant Oatmeal:
6 cups quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar*
2 TBSP cinnamon, ground*
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground*
1/4 tsp cloves, ground*
1/2 tsp cardamom, ground (optional)*
~12 sandwich resealable baggies

* – spice amounts are variable. Use more of what you like, less of what you don’t.

1. Using a blender or food processor, grind 1.5 to 2 cups of the oats, until they’re a flour-like powder. Use more if you like your oatmeal really thick, less if you don’t. This part may require some tinkering on your part until you find the consistency you like. If using a blender, you may need to grind in batches.
2. Throw everything into a large bowl and mix well.
3. Fill your sandwich baggies with 1/2 cup of the mixture.
4. When ready to have your oatmeal, add as much or as little boiling water as you like, usually about 1/2-3/4 cup.
5. Enjoy!

The beauty of the recipe is that once you grind the oats, the rest is a free for all. You can add dried fruit or nuts (about 1/2 cup is recommended), or cocoa powder, or other spices you really like. The possibilities are endless.

Some recipes for fruit & cream oatmeal recommend adding 1 TBSP milk powder to each baggie in addition to about 1-2 TBSP of the dried fruit.

I keep my oatmeal baggies stored in an empty oats container, and have another oats container for the empty baggies, which can be reused.

Enjoy! And if you develop your own unique & tasty variety, please let me know!

 

I LOVE making things from scratch!  I have made my own laundry detergent for almost 2 years, now.  http://tammylanham.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/best-detergent-recipe-ever/  When you decide to seek options, there are so many out there…  And it’s so much less expensive!

 

Dumpster Diving for Coupons

Yep, I told you I was crazy!!  🙂  But I’m not the only one!

Do you realize that my jumping into dumpsters has saved my family $260 this week – that’s the equivalent of some folks’ paycheck – AND I didn’t spend 40 hours doing it!  🙂  AND next week’s grocery money is going to our emergency fund…  Go ahead & talk about me, I don’t mind.

Some of the most frequently asked questions:

1.  Where do you get all your coupons?

You can search online (my favorite site is www.thekrazycouponlady.com), Sunday paper inserts or even search a few dumpsters.  I recommend the ones at the recycling center – they’re extremely clean.  Google “drop off recycling centers” in your area.  It’s legal to go through the dumpsters but I always take a second and tell the people there (some are unstaffed so I don’t worry about it) what I’m doing.  They look at me funny.  I don’t mind.  In today’s adventure, the guys actually started sorting the papers for us & pulling out the inserts!

2.  How do you organize them all?

There’s lots of ways but I use a 3-ring binder and the clear baseball card organizing sheets.  I divide all the sheets into sections (categories) and then fill them w/ my coupons.  I spend about 30 min. a week throwing out the old expired ones and putting in the new ones.

3.  Is it worth it?

Again, I have purchased an enormous amount of food this week for about what I would spend on our regular groceries.  I’ve got tons left over.  Think about how that could benefit somebody in your community or at your church.  Local food banks will be so glad I dove into those dumpsters!  I shop from my stockpile before I go to the grocery store and my grocery bill has shrunk tremendously.

Add any comments you would like and ask any questions you might have.  I’ll post when I find great deals so if you want email notifications when I post, just click “Yep, sign me up” on the upper right hand side of this page.  You’ll also get news udpates regarding my weight loss journey.  It’s been mentioned to me several times about teaching a workshop on this stuff here in New Castle, Kentucky.  If you are interested in something like that, let me know!

 

It was legal… I promise…

So here goes… I know a lot of you think I’m a little nuts.  Well, here’s proof that I’m a LOT nuts.  I’ve been learning more & more about how the couponing thing can really help your budget and the more serious you get about it, the more you can save.  I went last week and saved a LOT of money, walked out with an overflowing cart for $5.79.  This got me to wondering & researching and in my research, I came across The Krazy Coupon Lady’s website.  She’s been on TLC’s Extreme Couponing.  You think I’m crazy?  Check her out!

Anyway, I’ve been getting most of my coupons online, from friends or sometimes, out of the Sunday Newspaper.  When you combine your coupons with advertised sales, you can get things at a very, very low price.  The Ronzoni pasta is on sale at Kroger this week for .49 and I had several coupons for $1 off of 2 boxes (making them FREE) and ended up with almost 30 boxes of free pasta!  Coupons are all online for this one!  Anyway, I decided to start my search for more coupons.  The Sunday paper is expensive, here.  Almost $2 per week and one lady I found on youtube spends $50 a month buying multiple copies of the Sunday paper to get her coupons.  Well…..  you know I hate to spend money on stuff like that so………  here goes……  (I hope you don’t think bad of me)… I went dumpster diving for coupons!  I found a recycling drop off location near our home, took a step stool and gloves and dove in. 

Told you, I’m a little nuts.  Yes, it is legal – for those of you wondering!  As long as I don’t trespass on private property to get the trash, it’s public domain.  The recycling bin I went to was amazingly clean – nothing but paper products in it and no smells whatsoever.  When I opened up the door, the first thing I saw was a stack of coupon inserts from Sunday’s paper!  Now, THAT was motivation!  I climbed my little step stool and started digging.  I ended up getting 47 Sunday paper inserts (red plum and smart source) – that’s roughly the equivalent to 25 Sunday paper’s worth of coupons!  I found half a dozen of the Kroger coupon booklets of coupons they mail out and even found one JC penney $10 off a $10 purchase!!  Why in the world would somebody throw this money away!!

I asked my husband to take some pics or video and he said “No way, I want to look, too!”  I don’t know when I’ve ever found my husband more appealing to me!!  🙂  At that moment, I could kiss his feet!  I’m thinking most husbands wouldn’t even go and if they did, they would be hiding in the car or ducking to make sure no one saw them… not mine! 

So there it is – my crazy, outrageous act for the week!  Subscribe to this blog (to the right in the “Yep, sign me up!” box) and hear more crazy antics and follow my weight loss journey as well.  Have a fantastic week and try doing something outside of YOUR comfort zone this week!