Photograph by: Clarita on Morguefile.com

Live on Less

In order to live on less, it is necessary to make some tough choices. You have to be aware of what is truly necessary in life, and what is not. The difference between wants vs. needs.

For instance, having a cell phone so you can keep in touch with people no matter where you are is a desire. A want. Not a need. On the other hand, having a cell phone because you have a child with a serious medical condition might be classified as a need. People should be able to contact you at any time if there is a problem. Now, having a cell phone with the ability to get online is not really a need, unless you are a business person who uses certain apps for that business.

Now that you can pin point exactly what you need, this tips will aid you living on less:

  1. Start looking into ways to save money on utilities. There are ways to use water, gas, oil, electricity, etc. that will save you money. Research ways online, and check with your local utility companies.
  2. Find ways to spend less at the grocery store. Think store brands, and coupling coupons with sales, including clearance sales.
  3. Figure out how you can spend less on clothing and other basic needs. Visit church and other thrift stores. Come up with a yard sale plan. Wait for sales. You can even purchase items online with coupons.
  4. Decide what you have to spend more on. For instance, someone with bad feet may need to purchase Sketchers with the rounded bottoms or their feet will hurt them so badly they cannot walk. This is fine. Cut corners elsewhere. NOTE: I do have this issue, and I buy Sketchers to help with my foot problems. They are sold on the sketchers website. These sneakers used to cost over $100.00, but the site has them reduced to under $50.00. The last time I had to make a purchased, I found a coupon that enabled me to purchase two pair at about $70.00. I was very happy with that purchase!

Let us know how your family is living on less in the comments, or email me privately at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always answer my emails :)

Shannon

Image By: cohdraon morguefile.com

Top 10 Tips for Frugal Living

With the need to spend so much money on rent/mortgage and the bills, it is necessary to save money in other areas of life. Living frugally is becoming a necessity for more and more people each year, and these tips will help you along the way:

  1. Look for other modes of transportation to get you back and forth to work, as well as to other places. Transportation for a Healthier Planet will provide you with good ideas that will save you a good deal of money.
  2. How to Reuse 10 Common Household Items will set you along the path of saving even more money, and give you ideas for reusing items.
  3. Stop using cheap plastic food containers. Consider buying glass containers, and using canning and other jars. Save money in the long run, and be healthier.
  4. If you are a crafter, learn to repurpose your old scraps. Doing so will provide you with plenty of opportunities for new projects that you will spend next to nothing on.
  5. There are programs out there specifically geared toward helping seniors. Read Free Food for Seniors if you are low on money.
  6. Find different ways to entertain your family, such as going for nature walks or hanging out at the park. These activities are free and will bring your family together more than going to the movies.
  7. Learn how to orchestrate affordable celebrations for Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. And find ways to make gift giving more affordable.
  8. Shop the dollar stores when it will really save you money.
  9. Take advantage of store rewards programs. Use the cards during sales (with coupons!) and earn points toward free merchandise.
  10. Shop yard sales productively. Remember to always have a plan.

How do you practice living the frugal life? Share your best tips in the comments, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Shannon

Photograph by: JessicaGale on Morguefile.com

Tips for Stocking Your Pantry: Food, Personal Hygiene, and Household Items

With regular food costs, as well as prices of other necessary items, not getting any lower, it is important to find ways to cut costs as much as possible where we can. If one has the space, a pantry is a great way to stock up on items in a way that saves money over the long run.

How?

There are some simple ways to save money on items you will need over a period of time. For instance, you can:

  • Shop when items are on sale, for starters.
  • Better yet, clearance sales save even more money. Be sure to check expiration dates. You will want to use these items before they go bad.
  • Couple a regular or clearance sale with coupons for more significant savings.
  • Always keep money in an envelope, placed in your purse. This money is set aside to be used specifically for stock up purposes. You never know when a store may be having a good in-store deal that has not been advertised.
  • Be sure you are only buying what you will use. It is a waste of money to let products expire.
  • If you can get items free of charge with coupons, do so. Even if you will not use them, someone you know may want these items. Or, you can donate them.
  • When you patron yard sales, look for items such as partially used shampoos and conditioners. You can often get an almost full bottle for a quarter. Even new bottles of personal hygiene and cleaning supplies can be purchased.
  • Also at yard sales, you may find Mary Kay, Tupperware, or even Avon items, all new, at great prices. Stock up when you do, if you will use the items.
  • Dollar stores are great as well. For example, shampoo is sold for a dollar. If you have a coupon for just a quarter off, you are only going to pay .75. Ask at each location you frequent if they accept coupons, as many do. If you can find .50 cent coupons on any items, or better ones, try to find more coupons and stock up.

How do you save money on stock up items? Let us know in the comments, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Shannon

By anitapeppers on morguefile.com

Living the Low-Income Lifestyle, When You don’t Have To

A lot of people live the low-income lifestyle out of necessity, it is true. But that is not so for everyone.

There are many people who do not need to live frugally, but choose to just the same.

Why? For a variety of reason including:

  1. They want to save for a family vacation.
  2. The money they save is what will pay for their wedding.
  3. Taking a year off work to travel the United States is their life dream.
  4. They want to build a well-stocked pantry, to be prepared for anything that may happen, such as loss of job or serious illness.
  5. A couple may want to start a family, and one wants to stay home with their children.
  6. To save for retirement.

These are just a handful of reasons why someone who does not necessarily have to may choose to live below their means. There are others.

However you look at, the desire is there. This is a good thing, that teaches many valuable lessons in the long run.

How might you get started living more frugally? To begin with, you might:

  • Keep a jar handy for loose change and dollar bills.
  • Put a certain amount every day into the jar, such as $2.00 or $5.00, on top of the loose change.
  • Use coupons when you find a good sale, and add that change to your jar.
  • Cut back on services such as channels you do not have time to watch.
  • Downgrade to a domestic car that uses less gas, placing the money you save each week into the jar.
  • Downgrade to a smaller home with smaller payments, or a place that uses less energy, or replace appliances with energy saving models when ready, placing the money saved into the jar.
  • Learn to shop dollar stores, thrift shops, clearance sales and yard sales.
  • Learn to cook from scratch.
  • Cut how often you go out in half. Find more affordable ways to enjoy yourself at home.

Put the money saved into a savings account at your local credit union, and maybe look into ways to make that money grow. Maybe CD’s. Research well, and choose investment options that fit your needs.

There are some people who do not believe in the use of financial institutions, and this is fine. Other options include:

  1. Stocking your pantry.
  2. Paying off vehicles.
  3. Paying down the principle on your mortgage.
  4. Getting rid of credit cards after paying them off.
  5. Paying off student loans.
  6. Furthering your education for a better career path.
  7. Starting your own business, as long as it is one that will hold up in a bad economy.
  8. Making home repairs.

What will you do with money you save?

Shannon

Another Update :)

By taliesinYesterday, I added a new page to this blog called Single Moms:

“My Single Mom Examiner.com page is a resource for single parents, mainly moms but fathers will also find most of the information useful.”

Today I added the last of the links.

Enjoy the new reads.

Subscribe to Bangor Single Moms, even if you aren’t from the area.

Share the articles you think others will be interested.

Have a great day!

Shannon

Updated the Blog: Many New Articles

cropped-dscn173917301.jpgI wanted to note that I have updated and added some of the pages on this blog with a variety of articles. Be sure to scroll down each page to see all of the new additions.

business Ideas: If you are looking to earn money, this page will be helpful.

Easy Meals: This new page has many recipes from my Easy Meals channel on Examiner.com. Enjoy!

Frugal Living: Many articles to aid you in living as frugal a life as possible.

More Helpful Articles: This page also has a few articles you may enjoy.

My Family and Contact Info: I have updated this page to indicate what my daughters and I are up to these days. The story of our lives continues! See how far we have come :)

Enjoy the updates!

Shannon

Photograph by Monosodium on Morguefile.com

100 Things About Me # 12: Frugal Recipes

Frugal Recipes is the sister blog to this site, both of which I run myself and offer for your reading pleasure. On the blog I offer a series of cookbooks including Main Meal Magic and Beverages on a Budget, and an eBook titled Keeping the Single Mom Home: The Kitchen.

Of course there are plenty of recipes on the site, including:

  1. Cinnamon-Coconut Fruit Salad
  2. Turkey Soup with Pineapple
  3. Banana Chip Trail Mix
  4. Apple-Pear Sauce
  5. Lemonade

The blog also includes articles such as:

  1. 7 Better Breakfast Ideas
  2. Best Ways to Save Money on Food While Keeping it Healthy
  3. What to Eat During the Very Lean Weeks
  4. Top Frugal Foods Posts in 2013
  5. Put Together Delicious Meals from Leftovers

Get a cup of tea. Have a seat. And peruse the blog for plenty of ideas on how to feed your family frugally.

Shannon

Do not forget to subscribe while you are there, and to share.

Thank you!

Photograph by: Clarita on Morguefile.com

100 Things About Me # 11: Bangor Frugal Living

I head up the Bangor Frugal Living channel on Examiner.com. It earns me a little bit of residual income. Not a lot, but it gets my name out there and ids my efforts to help those living the frugal lifestyle.

Some of the articles I have published to the channel:

  1. No Money for Food? Go to a Food Pantry
  2. New Year goal: Getting Finances into Order
  3. Top 10 Frugal Articles for 2014
  4. Easy Ways to be Frugal
  5. Tips for Shopping Dollar Stores
  6. Store Rewards Programs
  7. Thrift Shop Deals
  8. Planning for a Frugal Year
  9. Eating Frugally in a Bad Economy
  10. Living the Frugal Life

Enjoy the articles, and feel free to look around the site more.

Do not forget to subscribe while you are there, and to share.

Thank you!

Shannon

Image By: cohdra at morguefile.com

Why I don’t Suggest Welfare

The stigma of using welfare benefits, because people make ignorant comments or give one dirty looks just because they need help feeding their family, there is also stress of dealing with the welfare system.

  • It is not enough that you are in a situation where your family needs help.
  • It is not enough that people put you down, whether they know you or not.
  • It is not enough that you cannot afford to eat the way you should for proper health, or even pay for your oil when it is needed.
  • And it certainly is not enough that you already feel as low as a person can feel becuase you cannot make ends meet.

But then you stand the chance of the welfare system messing with you, causing your benefits to be late or non-existant. Oh, how many times they send paperwork… you filling it out and getting it back to them as quickly as possible to avoid interruption, only to receive a letter telling you that you no longer qualify because they did not receive your information. Even when they just haven’t gotten to your file yet. A failure, on their part, that causes you to get penalized.

Or after calling your case worker to explain that your income has gone up and you are pretty sure you do not qualify for benefits any longer, they tell you that you still qualify after figuring the new income. Then you get chosen for some freak lottery where they audit you for a specific time period, only to find out that you indeed did make too much money. And that even though the proof is right in front of them that you made your case worker aware of your new income, YOU still have to pay it back. All of it. And you are not allowed to just send them a check and get it taken care of, or to have them take it all out of your next foodstamp payment or two. No. They will take so much out of your benefits each month until you get it paid off. You are beholden to them for a specific number of months, and still collecting benefits you maybe shouldn’t be getting because they need you to pay them back… But make no mistake. The case worker is not responsible for this fiasco.

There are so many rules and conditions it isn’t always easy to remember them all, and you really do not have much for freedom to speak of. You can get into trouble for any number of things.

If you get housing, their are even more rules. More freedoms taken away.

If your child receives a tablet or a computer from their grandparents for Christmas, rude people ignorantly inform anyone who will listen that you should be taken off welfare.

If you have a cell phone – even if it is the cheapest possible with the cheapest or a free plan – people complain that you are abusing the sytem. It is even worse if your parent or boyfriend buy you a nicer phone and pay for the service.

Oh, and if you happen to find your child some designer clothing at Goodwill, it is the end of the world!

If a friend of yours invites you and your children to their camp out of state for a week – and all you have to do is buy your own food – you risk the chance of angering the cashier becuase you go to the grocery store to buy food with your foodstamps. Even though you spend about the same you would have had you stayed home. Your family does not deserve any form of vacation if you are on welfare.

And that is not all. Even if you do not collect full benefits you are at risk of having to deal with the stigma. You can work harder than your neighbor but, because you make less money than he and receive $50.00 a month in foodstamps he will scrutinize every little thing about you.

These are abut a few reasons why I tell people to NOT get welfare unless they absolutely have to.  Then, I would likely try to keep it on the low-down. No one really needs to know. People simply do not need the kind of stress that receiving welfare benefits causes. It cannot possibly be good for them.

If you can possibly live without it, do so. Work odd jobs. Take on a second job. Let mom work from home while dad is working at the factory, to save child care costs. Have your teenagers work for what they want. Learn to live the most frugal life possible. Try to stay away from the stress of welfare as much as possible. Only take what is necessary, if you qualify for anything. And try not to let others know if you receive benefits, lest you chance the risk of humiliation.

And remember, no one is better than you even if you do need welfare.

Shannon

Image By: ladyheart at morguefile.com

USDA Thrifty Food Plan: Version 2013

I have been meaning to do an updated USDA Thrifty Food Plan post for a couple years now, but never got around to it. This morning I decided it was time. The thrifty had only gone up $2.00 since 2009, when I originally wrote USDA Thrifty Food Plan.

For myself, the numbers read like this back then:

           Thrifty Plan   Low-Cost Plan  Moderate-Cost Plan  Liberal Plan 

Me             35.50                44.70                          54.90                            70.40

Again for myself, the numbers read like this as of the last update on the site (November 2013):

            Thrifty Plan   Low-Cost Plan  Moderate-Cost Plan  Liberal Plan

Me            37.50                47.20                            58.30                            74.50

Where am I on here? Well, on weeks when I have little money I come in at between $20.00 and $30.00. There is nothing much healthy purchased when I need to stretch my food dollars.

On the other hand, during weeks when I cut out processed foods and choose a few organic products, I spend around $60.00.

However if I were to purchase all organic, grass-fed, etc., for ultimate nutrition, I would have to spend well over $74.50.

I simply cannot afford to do this. Ever.

Actually, at least a couple months during the winter I only have around $20.00 a week to spend on food. This is when hours are cut at work during the off-season. I simply do not make enough to eat healthy at those times.

I do the best I can.

  • I try to purchase what non perishable foods I do uses on sale with coupons, buying extra while I can get them at lower prices.
  • I buy a few things at the dollar store when I go, using coupons if I have them.
  • I try to save buy visiting farmer’s markets toward the end of their day, because sometimes you can get things at bargain prices.
  • I do not use coupons if I can get a store or other brand cheaper.
  • I am not brand loyal.
  • I will order online if I can really get something cheaper, and have no problem buying in bulk when I can get these deals.
  • I do not eat many processed foods. Most of the items I buy that are storable are applesauce (no sugar/other sweetener), coconut milk, almond milk, dried fruit, herbs and spices. Most of the other things I purchase are fresh produce and meats.
  • Sometimes, if there is a good sale and I have coupons, I will buy canned meats.
  • I buy from the discount carts when I know I can use something.

How about you? What do you do to save money on food?

Shannon

New Name. Same Blog.

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