Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Today's Yummy Leftover Joy

It's lunchtime around these parts!

On my continued quest to save money, here I sit with a yummy, tasty lunch. Yes, I could have ordered take-out, fast food, ate out at a restaurant close to work.

I could have battled traffic, dealt with servers, wasted gas, partaken in a number of options for food. I could have done a lot of things resulting in spending a good chunk of change.

However, here I sit at working eating delicious food that I made last night.

I made this amazing garlic parmesan chicken, accompanied by beans and rice, mac and cheese and green beans! Are your mouths watering yet?

Surprisingly it all tastes better today than I remember last night. Mmmmm

Know the best part? The chicken was on sale for only 89 cents a pound at Food 4 Less. Woot woot!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sassy's Budgeting Tools

Well, I finally did it!

I FINALLY got my butt in gear about finding a good budgeting plan together.
It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning in Vegas. And I was kid-free! Let me say it now, that NEVER happens!

Oh all the possibilities for "me time"! A pedicure?  A nice breakfast? Shopping? Sleeping? Cleaning? Going through the garage?

Not even close!

I found myself driving to Walmart in the office supply area. I thoroughly searched every nook and cranny. I searched and kept going through each and EVERY aisle of office supplies figuring out the best way to do this.

I was determined to find me the supplies to establish a bill paying system, budgeting tools and everything wrapped into one.

I could buy plain envelopes and follow the Dave Ramsey system I keep stumbling across. But that wasn't the best thing that would work for me.

I could have bought a simple planner or an elaborate one but that wasn't what was going to work for me.

I saw those accordion style organizers but they were made of really flimsy plastic material. I am talking about extremely thin plastic that I knew wouldn't hold up for very long. And even that was $6.00. You could tell it was pointless in buying it. Talk about cheapo! Then I thought if I could find like a cardboard material accordion organizer it would be perfect. Sadly, they had one and it just didn't look like what I was looking for. No, I don't think I am that picky.

Then I had the best idea! I wanted to get a cute decorated binder. Inside I would put those dividers that have the half clear envelope type thing on them, but sadly I discovered the hard way that they didn't even have them! How freaking dumb. They had regular dividers but that wasn't how I wanted to do it.

Hard to admit to you all that I spent about an hour in that damn store on a Saturday. Yes, you read that correctly. An hour!  Walmart on Saturdays are insane. It was obvious that it's tax return time. People buying brand new bikes for all their kids (literally saw a family with 3 bikes in tow with their kids), flat screen tvs everywhere in line, home decor items overflowing shopping carts, kids getting all kinds of brand new shiny toys, and sooooo many other tax return time evidence everywhere.
Sadly, I left Walmart empty handed even after spending a good hour there. *Insert sad, frustrated face here

I contemplated going to Office Max or Office Depot. I thought they for sure would have what I was looking for.

But I was pretty frustrated after wasting all that time. I was also thinking Saturday shopping anywhere would be too busy and irritating. Not to mention the fact that with my cane and walking boot, it honestly doesn't make for the best experience walking the stores shopping. To put it simply, I am constantly in pain! That hour alone sure took it out of me physically.

I ended up going home and taking a good nap.

After waking up, a friend and I went to dinner. I love good Mexican restaurants. It was mighty tasty.
On the way back home, I decided to stop in the dollar store on my continued quest for my budgeting items.

I found the best stuff there!

Say hello to my little friends!

So the little note book I will use to write down my spending.  Can't beat a dollar! 

Then the cute, trendy organizers I will do the following:

In one I will use cash and divide things up, writing on the included little dividers.

The other I will use to separate the pending bills and the paid bills (by month). 

There are 6 dividers in it.  I actually think I am going to go get one more to do it by month for the whole year! 

These will work perfectly and will be much easier to use, plus they are really thick plastic and NOT flimsy.
 The ones on the left are pending payment. 
The one of the right was paid on Saturday. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

99 Cents Only Store Love

Well, after work before a chiropractor appointment, I stopped in to the 99 Cents Only Store.

Have you ever shopped there for food? Let me tell you right now, there are some GREAT deals to be had from there!

With this store, it's hit or miss at times.

Today I found such great things for super cheap.
So here's what I scored today:

 The expensive Lunchables with Smoothies and Larry the Cable Guy Spicy Chicken Batter

Fudge Mint Cookie Squares that seriously taste JUST like those Girl Scout Thin Mints
And don't forget the yummy Peanut Butter & Fudge Cookie Squares
Taco Bell Cinnamon Nachos Dessert Kit
Taco Bell Crunch Taco Dinner Kits (They include sauce, seasonings and the hard shells)
Betty Crocker Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
South Beach Diet Fudge Mint Snack Bars
Organic Spinach Blend 
Captain Crunch Cereal (Halloween Crunch)
(I know it is not Halloween but these babies don't expire until June)

Velveeta Brand Cheesy Skillets (just like Hamburger Helper but much better, not to mention MUCH bigger than the Hamburger Helper)
Old El Paso Chipotle Mexican Cooking Sauce (I got some for Fajitas and some for Tacos)
Buddy Bars (Chocolate- my friend )
Cracker Jack (Pretty big bags) 

The Whole LOT! 

I spent roughly $48.00. 

That is a steal for everything I got.  I think I will have to start pricing these items out at the regular stores to see how much I ended up saving.   

But a lady behind me at the store couldn't believe my total.  The whole cart was full of food, and when the cashier announced the total she got all excited.  I, too, was excited.  I just love stretching my grocery money. 

Stay tuned for more shopping hauls in the near future. 

Save Money- Bring Lunch to Work

It's lunchtime at the office, and I am enjoying some yummy leftovers from 2 nights ago.

I made this delicious Chicken Alfredo with mushrooms. It is super yummy! Much better than eating out.

Eating out adds up more and more. No, it's not just the cost of fast food or restaurant meals. Don't forget the cost of gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, dealing with stupid traffic and so many other things.

Not to mention, I actually know what is in the food I brought. I don't know about you guys, but sometimes I just don't trust fast food workers. You never know.

I have noticed recently such substantial price increases at fast food joints, too.

I am working on saving money and being frugal. My year of unemployment sure didn't help on my pocketbook.

Looking to save money and work on your finances? Ditch the take out! Bring food to work for lunch. Bring leftovers!  They are super cheap and yummy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hard Chicken Tacos

So, my kids have been begging me to make homemade chicken fried rice.

I, being the great mommy I am, finally (after much longer than I would care to admit) got chicken out of the freezer to defrost this morning before work.

I was determined to be such a great mom and make chicken fried rice after work. All day at work I thought about it. I was actually quite excited!

Then this evening on a whim, we decided to go see my cousin's new baby.

He was super cute! Don't you agree? 

After getting home so late this evening, I realized I would not have the time for chicken fried rice. (No, I didn't have any rice already made and I prefer having the regular rice cooking in the rice cooker vs that boxed minute rice.)

So as I got home, I had to think of what to make instead. My creative wheels started turning. Hmmm, what on earth could I make?

I thought about the things I had already in the house. There was no way in the world I was running to the store.

I ended up making a chicken taco mixture that was to die for!

It was simply chicken breast, black beans, taco seasoning, diced green chiles and a little bit of water simmering on the stove topped with cheese. This wonderful concoction was put inside hard taco shells. Then we topped them with Taco Bell brand hot sauce and guacamole.

Are your mouths watering yet? Let me tell you guys- it was seriously divine! The kids completely gobbled it down (who am I trying to kid? So did I!)

It was sooooo delicious. This will definitely be on our dinner menus in the near future.

Mount Charleston

Hey guys! I am asking you guys to be patient and bare with me. The computer won't let me post pictures. So I am having to do it from the phone and then edit on the computer. Huge hassle but I am trying to get the hang of this. I apologize ahead of time.

Ok this post is a couple weeks late. I have been waiting to get pictures able to post but I am finally getting this done on here now.

So a few weeks ago it was my birthday. :)

I decided at the last minute that I wanted to go up to the mountains and play in the snow (read as let the kids play in the snow while I watched with my crippled, injured body) 

It was amazing and beautiful up there. It got me to wanting to travel more. I couldn't believe the views and tranquility.

Red Rock

This last weekend we spent the good majority of it out at Red Rock. Let me tell you guys! It was so beyond beautiful!!!! We were in total Heaven.

I was unaware until we drove out there that due to President's Day, it was free entrance all weekend. SCORE!

We spent a while out there until my injured foot couldn't do it anymore.




The next day, my sister and her little family decided to join us in going. So her, her husband, their 2 kids, me and my 2 kids had a day of it.

The views were amazing and it was a great experience. This time I actually walked and hiked a bit.

Okay seriously, HORRIBLE IDEA!

Do the math

Woman+ walking boot + cane + hiking= Pure STUPIDITY!

I was sure paying for it afterwards. However, it really was a great experience watching the kids so excited and exploring, so it made it worth the pain.



We had such a great time spending the time with my sister and her family. Her hubby is always working. I swear- talk about a hard worker!  She picked a good one.  

Oh the places you will go!


Pinterest Love

Oh Pinterest you have me drooling through my lunch.  So I have a board on Pinterest of food.  You can see it here.  Man, there are so many amazing looking things to make on there.  It seems to be more "in" to cook at home than going out nowadays. 

So I have never made the Olive Garden Tuscan Soup but this recipe is looking great to make.

Anyone love take out chicken fried rice?  Check this one out.  I will admit that I make a variation to that at home for the kids and I.  They always beg for it.  In fact, we would much rather have homemade chicken friend rice than grabbing some from other places.  (Well, sometimes I will definitely grab it from Teriyaki Co )

I have personally made this amazing crock pot funeral potatoes for a cousin's BBQ and it was a HUGE hit.  Everyone was raving about how good it was. 

I have made this crock pot hamburgers in gravy and my daughter reeeally loved it!  I had some burgers in the freezer that needed to be used up, and that was super easy. 

I want to try this Olive Garden's Stuffed Chicken Marsala sometime soon.  I know I love it at the restaurant, so I am quite sure I will love it homemade (not to mention not having to pay an arm and a leg for it). 

I can't wait to make this Chicken Tika Masala. Ok seriously looking at that is making my mouth drool.  I am a total sucker for Indian food.  Yummm!!

This is my own pin that I made and posted a while ago.  I love going to restaurants for their spicy pazole.  Well, I managed to make this amazing tasting one that was so simple to make and tasted amazing.

I have seen people raving over this pumpkin French toast bake.  I am going to have to make it and test it out. 

I love that Pinterest has such great recipes that everyone pins and sends around.  Best part?  Not wasting money eating out and being able to make the food.  I love it!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hunger and Finances

Have you ever gone to school owing the lunch lady?  You might have forgotten lunch, not had food at home to make a lunch, forgotten money for your lunch or simply not had money to pay for food.  America is facing that more now than ever with this economy.  I understand we might not be facing serious hunger like Africa or other parts of the world might face it (not eating days, weeks on end, or surviving on dirt).  But I know there are so many kids facing hunger every day in our country. 

I was pleased to read this story today.  A "Lunch Angel" pays kids' overdue accounts at an elementary school.  I have to say how warm it made my heart to read that!  Kids are going hungry at school or owe money to the lunch lady and here this guy stepped in and paid for these kids.  It isn't the kids' faults that they can't afford food.  Yes, parents should be paying for these but sometimes, I hate to say it but some just can't even afford that.  It is sad.  Maybe the parents are unemployed.  Maybe the parents have stupid spending problems.  Maybe the parents have just overlooked the fact that they owe so much to schools for their kids' food.  The possibilities are endless. 

I will be the first to admit after being out of work and struggling to provide for us, how so many things can add up financially.  Thankfully, my kids were able to get on the free lunches to help out.  I can't express in words how much that program helps.  Based on my income and our household size, we qualify.  Some homes are way worse off. 

Nowadays with the credit crisis and unemployment numbers, so many people are so behind or just getting by, if that.  Some families have had to move out of their homes, unable to afford the cost of living. 

My brother was living in a nice, new home with $1,600.00 payments a month.  It was the normal.  Home prices were skyrocketing.  $1,600.00 was considered affordable.  Both him and his wife were working.  They had two kids, a car payment, a mortgage, food to pay for, medical insurance and medical bills (after a daughter was born severely premature weighing only 1 pound 2 ounces) and so many other things.  Yet, they couldn't afford it.  Their home went from being worth $250,000.00 to under $100,000.00 in such a tiny amount of time and it was decreasing by the day.  Word of lay offs and firings were going around at work.  One day he found out the neighbors were selling their home for $80,000.00 and others in the same area were going for less....  The $1,600.00 payments were becoming unbearable.  In the end, he foreclosed.  He went from that 3 bedroom upgraded home to a 2 bedroom apartment.  Even with him and his wife both working still, they are always struggling with cost.  The thing is- you never know what family's are facing nowadays.  I honestly thought that my brother and his wife must really have issues if they are BOTH working and should be able to afford their bills, but at closer look they are the working poor that all too many people are facing. 

The Lunch Angel story  was as a result of seeing the story of a school in Utah where they were throwing out kids' lunches as a result of having past due accounts.  I personally was stunned reading that.  What is throwing their food away going to do?  I would have been marching my butt into that school screaming if they had thrown my kids' food out.  First off, how rude.  Second off, what a waste of food especially when kids are hungry. 

I completely believe in being responsible, bill paying citizens.  I believe you should definitely save up in the even of emergencies.  I believe in paying for your kids' food.  But sometimes I guess life has other plans for you. 

I am really glad I was raised frugal and have been able to stretch things as well as I do.