Breaking up is hard to do...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
  Dear Stuff,
      I'm sorry, you have to go. This isn't working out anymore. I don't have time for you and you're impossible to organize. You see, the less of you that sticks around the faster I'll be able to clean and I'll be able to actually find what I'm looking for because you haven't been piled on top of it. You in my desk, closets, dresser, every time I turn around there you are. I really need some space, you're smothering. If I don't stop this now we're going to end up on Hoarders and I really don't want to embarrass you. Trust me this is for the best.
                       <3 Sunny

I like stuff. You see in my family we're "collectors". When I was little I collected rocks, then Barbies and their accessories, then Beatles and Smiley Face stuff. I went through many phases of collecting things. I'm pretty sure my parents still have a bucket of rocks in the basement from when I was 5.

When you combine 2 households your stuff seems to multiply. Right now our office is in shambles because we're getting ready to have a yard sale. This weekend we are going to be doing some deep cleaning/purging.

 Here are the rules for clearing things out, stuff is getting kicked out if:

   1. If we forgot it existed.
   2. If we have multiples.
   3. If we haven't used it in the last 6 months.
   4. Clothing - if it's a summer item but it hasn't been used this season it goes.

We're separating into 2 piles to begin with:
   1. Yard Sale
   2. Garbage

Anything that is not media that doesn't sell in the yard sale is going to the Habitat store. Media items will be sold via All $$ from items sold will be thrown at our student loans. 2 birds, 1 stone. Genius!

After the purging of unnecessary things then we will organize what's left. I'm pretty excited about that!

 Do you have any fabulous organizing tips?

Inedible Experiment #2/Powdered Laundry Detergent

Thursday, August 23, 2012
 I really wanted to wait until I ran out of Gain before I bought the supplies for the homemade soap but I went to Wal-Mart today and decided to go ahead and get the stuff.

Borax: $3.38
Super Washing Powder: $3.24
Fels-Naptha Soap: $.97
Total Cost: $7.59

 What I didn't realize was that it makes a really small batch. For 1 Fels-Naptha soap you use 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing powder. I also added some Purex Crystals for scent.

The Borax has 9.5 cups in the 76oz box so it costs $.35/cup.

 The Super Washing Soda has 6.8 cups costing $.51/cup.

 One batch of detergent costs approx: $1.83. Using 2 tbsp per load it works out to about $.07/load.

The Gain detergent I usually buy costs $15 for 96 loads which ends up being nearly $.16/load. I typically make it last 192 loads because I use half the recommended amount. When you do that it works out to be $.07. I'm not sure this laundry detergent will save us any money but I just had to try it .

Shopping at the United Grocery Outlet:Tips

Saturday, August 18, 2012

So UGO is like Big Lots but for food. At least that's how I've explained it to my mom. Which means their stuff is typically a really random assortment but there are some things you can always count on them to have like bread and a variety of dry goods like pasta, oatmeal, and spices. There are a few things you should watch for because you don't want to waste money and buy stuff that you didn't realize would spoil the next day. Here's what I've learned so far:

Watch the expiration dates

 For example: the cheese and butter had a sell by date of 8/16/12. Since they 'expired' that day they were marked down quite a bit. As soon as I brought them home I wrapped the butter in freezer paper and separated the cheese into freezer bags  and popped all of it into the freezer. The cheese will last us a little more than 5 weeks so I put it into 5 freezer bags, I can just take one out each week. The butter will last us quite a bit longer. the only problem is it's a solid pound rather than sticks so we'll have to cut it up to put in our butter dish. 

Know how much things cost at a regular store.

 Sometimes they raise the prices on name brand items and they are actually a little more expensive than you would regularly buy. For example; their Special K cereal was marked to $2.99 but the Great Value brand at Wal-Mart is only $2.50. Their popcorn and nuts are the same price or higher as a regular store also. 

Pass on most of the snacks. 

The main reason I went here in the first place was to grab some snacks for this weekend. They are way overpriced. Phillip really wanted some Doritos, at UGO they were $3.99/bag. I knew that was really expensive so I ran by Kroger on my way home and grabbed the same bag for $2.38 on sale.

Look at the surrounding items.

For some reason things are marked at different prices even if they're the exact same item. The $1.00 Kraft Parmesan seasonings were sitting next to another box of the same seasonings marked for $1.29. Same brand/flavor/expiration date.

  If you're wondering if there's a UGO near you, check out

  Have a great weekend! 

What can you get for $20?

Friday, August 17, 2012
  Yesterday I ran into UGO after work to grab some snacks for our little weekend mini vacation. Their snacks were way overpriced but I did manage to snag some good deals on items we like but are usually more expensive than we want to pay. What did I bring home?

     Not the healthiest grouping of groceries but I don't trust their produce/meat. Here's the rundown:

  Red Gold Salsa: $.69 (x4)
  Philadelphia Cream Cheese Indulgence: $.59(x3)
  Breakstone's Cottage Cheese: $1.00
  Kellogg's Big Mini Wheats: $1.44
  Kraft Parmesan Seasoning Blends: $1.00 (x3)
  Land O'Lakes Butter Blend: $.79 (x3)
  Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread $1.29
  Sara Lee Dinner Rolls $1.29
  Land O'Lakes Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese 5lb $6.99
  Total: $21.91

  Here is what regular stores charge for those same items:
 Salsa: $1.49 (we usually buy the Kroger Brand)
 Philadelphia Cream Cheese Indulgence: $2.48
 Breakstone's Cottage Cheese: ? No clue
 Kellogg's Big Mini Wheats: $3.99
 Kraft Seasoning Blends: $1.99
 Butter: $2/lb
 Bread and Dinner Rolls: ? We usually don't buy that brand but I know Walmart has wheat bread for like   $1.99
 Cheese: We usually buy our cheese from Aldi @ $1.79/8oz which works out to $3.58/lb
 Total: $49.21

 Total Savings: $27.30 

 Not too shabby! Later I'll be posting some tips on keeping your eye out for a good deal and avoiding the things they tend to overprice.

Happy Friday!

Now for Something Completely DIfferent!

Thursday, August 9, 2012
   I follow Just A Touch of Grace, a blog written by my friend Lydia. Recently I saw something really fun pop up and decided to join in.

Hosted By acuppakim
  How cute! You send in your mailing address and she swaps them around. Pick out a mug and mail it to your swap partner! I think it's a really fun idea and who doesn't love a good mug? My Keurig moved into the office this week so we've been enjoying coffee and tea. Which is awesome because our office feels like a blizzard is going to hit any minute!

Happy Wednesday!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
  Today was a fabulous day, it's nearly Friday!! Friday we're taking off at 1:00 and hitting the road, one of my best friends is getting married on Saturday and I'm honored to be in her wedding. I think weddings are way more interesting after you've planned one. Now I take more notice of the details and other such pretty things.

  Today was also a great day for my mailbox. I love getting things in the mail! Well things that aren't bills or solicitations.

  I follow a few sites on Facebook that post when companies are offering freebies. My favorite is, they link to a lot of give-aways and coupons. I'm definitely taking one of those coffee mixes to work in the morning! 

We also received: 

  I looked through it a little bit while I was at work. It has a pencil in it that says "The Nerds Budgeting Tool".  Going to look through it with more detail when Phillip comes home. 

 As far as our  "eating what's in the cabinet" challenge,  last night we had spicy shredded chicken quesadillas. Tonight Phillip can eat whatever his heart desires, I'm having cereal. 

 Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday! Looks like we are going bike riding tonight since it isn't lightning. Instead of being inspired by the Olympics to get active we've been perfectly content to just watch other people do it instead. I can't wait for them to be over, we never watch TV but it's all we've done this week! 


What's in the cabinets?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
 So this week became an unintentional "use whatcha got" week.

Saturday I woke up and Phillip was gone. He went to the grocery store. I kinda felt like this:
 He was trying to be super sweet so I could keep sleeping because I was working that night. I appreciate that but I'm a little obsessive about list making/menu planning...and sticking to the list.  Since we didn't have a menu planned the only list he had was for our breakfasts/lunches. So nothing for dinner and our grocery budget was pretty much gone for the week.

 I could easily have just gone to pick up stuff for dinners. I debated if I wanted to make a list and go shopping but decided in an act of rebellion that:

If you're going shopping without me (this also relates to the me hating sleeping during the day because interesting happens while I'm sleeping) then you get to eat what we already have. Instead of getting cranky I've made it a challenge. We might be eating some strange things by Saturday. I'll keep you posted :)


The Value of Sleep

Monday, August 6, 2012
 I've been known to take on too many tasks at once. My senior year of college I stage managed a show, wrote my thesis, did some internship hours, and took comprehensive exams. I was really tired that year. Probably pretty cranky too.

 Phillip and I recently went through all of our student loan stuff and figured out how much extra we could pay each month. When I left my old job I stayed on PRN, thinking I could pick up some overnight shifts pretty easily. I added it up and if I picked up 2 weekends/month we could pay off our loans in 5 years instead of 6. Seemed like a pretty good deal...until I actually tried it.

 Staying awake all night was much easier than I thought it would be. Friday I took a little nap before going in at 11pm, drank a giant cup of coffee and was ready to go.  I got to sleep around 7:30 on Saturday morning and slept until noon. I knew I should go back to sleep but I think I still have that little kid complex of "something interesting is happening somewhere! I need to stay awake for it!" I worked Saturday night too and pretty much slept all of Sunday.

   I'm still feeling groggy today.  So basically this weekend I learned that not feeling like a zombie > than paying off loans early but feeling tired the whole time. I think we both knew it wouldn't work but I had to try it anyway.

  What are some things you do to earn money on the side?

Finally Made it to a Zero Based Budget!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012
  I finally did it, gave every dollar a name for next month. Every penny has a place to go, as long as we don't cheat our system!

 Hopefully no unexpected expenses come up *knocks on wood*. In July we had to buy 2 tires for my car (goodbye $240...) and Phillip stepped on his laptop so we ordered a new screen ($66, granted it's much cheaper than a new laptop!)

Here's what our pie chart looks like, I think I'm into graphing things this week....

Now the trick is...not to overspend where we've budgeted!

The personal section is a little inflated this month, taking a trip for a friends wedding in Kentucky so we've rented a car and hotel. We are also going to take a Financial Peace University class at a local church and we paid the registration for the class.

It's pretty exciting to know where everything will go. I think it makes me spend more purposefully, I mean really our house is cluttered as it is. I don't need more 'stuff'!

When you forget to eat your bananas...make bread!

 So we tend to buy 2-3 more bananas/week than we actually eat because we think we're healthier than we apparently are. So around day 6 they start getting a little funky but I don't want to toss them, bananas are cheap but I wouldn't throw a quarter in the garbage would I? Probably not.

 So I've been scouring for various bread recipes, today I think I found a winner.

So far I've tried this one: Best Banana Bread and this one:  Banana Bread IV. They were both a little meh. Nothing terribly awesome. Today I tried this recipe: Janet's Rich Banana Bread and it looks like a winner. I haven't actually tasted it yet because I had to pull it out of the oven and rush off to work but it smelled awesome. I didn't have any walnuts so I substituted chocolate, I figure it's an even trade :)

 What's your favorite way to use leftover produce?

July Revisited

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
 So this month...I was lazy.

I didn't take out any cash at the beginning of the month. Since starting this we typically take out money in cash for groceries, going out, and individual spending money. They go into tidy little envelopes and it's easy to keep track of what we've spent. I definitely learned from this when comparing June and July spending, when we took out the cash we spent way less.

We still came out to the positive though so that's good! Here are our percentages from last month:

       I had to have 2 tires on my car replaced so we spent an extra $250 we did count on but hey that's life :)

       I always thought I hated math, and I was always super nervous checking my accounts but now it's kind of fun in a nerdy sort of way!