Dollar Stretcher: A balanced budget

Marco Eagle

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Balancing the budget

A warm floor this winter

We love the tile floors in our house, but last winter the floors were really cold for our stocking feet. We bought some area rugs, but that didn't completely solve the problem. Then I had the idea of putting some foam carpet pad under the rugs. Problem solved.


Garage storage

Every garage has some long, thin items that are hard to store. Here's an idea that worked for me. We had some leftover rain gutter. I attached a couple of lengths to the studs. One is for some wood trim molding. The other is for the wands of my pressure washer.


Septic surprises

If you're buying a home that's on a septic tank, make sure that it's included in the home inspection. My sister and her husband bought a home and inherited a septic system that's been nothing but trouble. They're trying to figure out how to pay for an $8,000 repair.


A balanced budget

My wife and I have been trying to reduce spending. After a few months, we realized that we were very good about some types of expenses, but blowing it on others. We couldn't understand why our expense plan wasn't working. Now we know, and we also know how to fix it.


Prepping your home for sale

I'm a realtor and one mistake I often see is people spending money doing the wrong things to get their house ready for sale. Before you spend any serious money, ask a realtor how to get the biggest bang for your budget. We can tell you what buyers want. This could keep you from making an expensive mistake.


Better microwave popcorn

There is nothing I like better on a cold winter weekend than to binge watch a favorite TV series. Besides my favorite blanket, I must have a bowl of popcorn to go with it. Instead of buying microwave popcorn bags, I make my own. I buy a jar of my favorite brand of popcorn. It's a little expensive, but it is still cheaper than the microwave stuff. I add a little oil to a bowl. After swishing the kernels around in the oil, I set the microwave on high for five minutes. When it gets to only a few pops per minute, I stop. After adding some salt and butter, I'm ready to start watching my favorite shows.


Making the most of a pay raise

If you want to make the most of a pay raise, put part of it away in your IRA or 401k retirement account. If you don't, it's too easy to just let that extra money disappear. Last year, I got a 2 percent raise and I'm still out of money by my next paycheck. This year, I'm getting 3 percent and half of it is going into my IRA. I'll probably still be out of money by payday, but at least I'll get to see my IRA grow.


Bite-size pieces

We were overwhelmed when we first thought about trying to repay our $13k balance on four different credit cards. Then we remembered that old story about how to eat an elephant one bite at a time. Therefore, we set a goal of reducing it by $1k. When we did that, we celebrated with a picnic and decided that we could do it again. So far, we've cut $4k from the total. We still have a long way to go, but by taking it in $1k pieces, we believe we can do it.


Wardrobe malfunction

One day I was looking in my closet and realized that I had a wardrobe malfunction. It wasn't the kind that's embarrassing; instead, it was the kind that hits your wallet. I had four dresses that were only good for very special occasions. I had worn the one I liked best five or six times. I only wore the others once or twice. I recalled reading about the girl who makes her purchase decisions based on how much it would cost each time she 
wore something. I know that an evening dress is going to cost more than a frequently worn blouse, but I probably didn't need to have four in my closet.


Finding time to cook from scratch

There are no coupons for milk, butter, cheese, flour, bread and cooking basics unless there is a brand name that wants you to try something new. There are no coupons for produce. Therefore, for frugal families that cook from scratch, it is hard to find a coupon to use. For the average folks who do use name brand products, you will do a lot of work to save a few dollars if you try to coupon.

Instead, this is what I do. I cook from scratch. I use store brands when the flavor or health is not affected. I found that cooking, freezing and storing my own food saved more money than the coupons.

Get a cookbook from the library for free and start saving money. Write down the recipes that work for you. The more you make them the faster it will become. It will become like second nature eventually. I have a friend that bakes bread daily with her morning coffee. It seems like work to me. To her, it's frugal and it's exercise. Plus, it gets everyone toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch. Every family is unique, but I have learned the hard way that coupons don't work the same for folks who are frugal.

Karen via Facebook

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