Stinky’s Corner: Free and Cheap Finds

My sister loves to shop by driving around town looking to restore other people’s trash. They call it “stinky-ing”. They decorated  one friend’s entire house with stinky finds such as bed frames, dressers and chairs other people have put out at the road for the city to pick up. A little bit of paint or a nail or two and broken, used things become new to you for free. I want to feature some of these great stinky finds and thrift store finds in “Stinky’s Corner” posts so look for those in Sunday’s posts.

This weekend I visited my mom at the beach. We looked for some stinky-worthy pieces, but found none that were worth restoring so we visited the thrift store and found some great finds for less than $15.

My husband was the winner this weekend when he found a Callaway golf club worth $200 for $9.00. What great deals have you found at the thrift store?

Frugal Fridays: Thrift Stores and Antique Malls

Buying great finds at thrift stores and antique malls instead of expensive department stores can save you money. Have a plan when you go and know what you are looking for to help you save time and money.

Last month I needed a chest to store blankets in, I went to the local antique mall and searched for one. I knew there would be a jewel in the making somewhere in the store. I passed many chests that cost a fortune, but I found the greatest old tool chest, hand made, ornate and sturdy for only $60. I knew someone took time making it and I had no qualms spending that compared to the rest that were $250, there and at World Market or Hobby Lobby. It made a great addition to my home and was exactly what I wanted.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to take your time with a purchase. I once searched five different antique stores for sterling silver goblets for my wedding over a period of a few months. They were $9.00 for the set, $90 at the jewelry store and all mine needed was a little polish. Find something someone once loved and you love it too.

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Look at the intricate detail on this chest. Whoever made it loved it and now I do too.

10 Free Ways to Lose Weight

You don’t have to break the bank to lose weight.

It’s bathing suit time again. I’ve always joked that I have a November weight and an April weight because every year I think about what I’ll look like on the beach and I don’t want to look like a whale, but I also don’t like paying for stuff I won’t use, and I’ve been through them all.

I’ve dropped a bazillion dollars on gym fees, but I’ve found going to the gym makes me self conscious. There are these beautiful gazelle-like creatures lifting and jogging and their sweat smells like cotton candy and I’m in the corner on the oldest treadmill they have, huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf next to a 90 year old woman whose kicking my butt so I usually just sneak out, go home and eat a pint of double dutch chocolate ice cream with half a jar of peanut butter on top in my shame.fitness

Then there is the on-line subscription I’ve had to weight watchers. Although I love weight watchers and totally believe their system works to lose weight and maintain it, I never liked having to pay 3 months in advance and then a monthly fee after that to log my food and calculate my points. I always do great for three months, then notice I pretty much eat the same things over and over and think I can get rid of my subscription and just keep eating those things, but the moment I quit logging my meals, I start putting weight back on.

Thankfully there are other products I have found that work just as well for me that are free. Here are ten of those free ways to lose and maintain weight:

  1. My Fitness Pal: This app has to be my all-time favorite. Free to download in the google play store, you can log your food, keep up with your caloric intake, weight, exercise, steps, and even macros (the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat in your food). You can upgrade for $9.99 a month for premium features, but I’ve lost just as much using the free service.
  2. S Health: This came standard on my Samsung cell phone. It isn’t my favorite, but it has many of the same features as my fitness pal and is doable.
  3. Spark People: Sparkpeople.com is a wonderful, free community where you can interact with others, share recipes, log food and exercise and use a multitude of diets.
  4. Pinterest: Are you kidding me? There is no reason to eat crappy food when there are thousands of healthy alternative recipes and tons of exercise routines on Pinterest.
  5. Community race tracks: There are several tracks in my town that the community uses to walk, run or exercise on. Many high schools or universities have open tracks, parks and other areas. My father-in-law always enjoyed walking, when he got older and it was too hot for him to walk outside, he went to Wal-Mart and walked the aisles and bought a water going out the door.
  6. Home Fitness: This one is a no-brainer, exercise at home and eat healthy. Old-school push-ups and jumping jacks can go a long way. Even walking in place and swinging your arms with some heavy cans of soup in them can get you on the right path.When I was in high school, I ran the stairs in my house, jumped rope and jumped up and down doing squats on a stool my mom kept in the kitchen. For years, I got home from work at 6am and there was a Yoga show on. I did the exercises with them and it helped me wind down after a long night at work.
  7. Youtube: There are literally hundreds of channels on Youtube with free exercises.  I wanted to buy DDP Yoga, but I wanted to preview it before I spent the money on it, so I searched it on Youtube. There are several people who film themselves doing the exercises with the DVDs and lots of previews and recipes from Dallas Page himself.
  8. Water Your Body: This is another app I love. I do not have an internal sense of when I need to drink something. I am literally never thirsty and tend to drink only when I eat. This leads to constant dehydration, dry skin, poor oral health, cracked lips, organ sickness, slow metabolism and water retention. Water your body app has an alarm that goes off about every hour to remind me to drink something. When I do, I can log what I drink to make sure I am drinking an appropriate amount every day.
  9. Noom: Noom Coach is an app that coaches you through eating better, exercising, logging your food and exercise. Noom gives you goals to master and really nurses you through your weight loss journey.
  10. The Gabriel Method: This one can cost you money if you so choose, but there are several free products John Gabriel offers on your weight loss journey, from recipes to e-books, this guys, no more dieting, psychological approach and delicious recipes are great. He often has free webinars you can attend, (and some that cost tons) but I love his approach and takes so much stress off of your health goals. No more pints of peanut butter chocolate shame, but tons of peanut butter chocolate recipes that are actually good for you and so good!

Why I Just Dumped All My Subscriptions

How much do you spend on subscriptions?

How much do you spend a month on subscriptions? I have been looking at my YNAB category for monthly subscriptions and I’ve noticed it is getting a little out of hand. Subscriptions have been around forever; from magazines to monthly deliveries of goodies and snacks, subscriptions are a convenient way to get what you want delivered to you for a fee.

The problem is, those subscriptions can add up. I have always had a personal love-affair with subscriptions. I love my Amazon Prime, for all the services I get and the free shipping alone, I think it is totally worth the annual fee. But there are other subscriptions I have had that were just a convenience and wasted money. At one time or another, (not all at once) I have had television streaming subscriptions,  beauty sample subscriptions, fitness apps, ancestry.com, an audible book subscription, kindle unlimited, Blue Apron and my cable and internet, which most consider a subscription service. If you total that up that is $325 a month in subscription services. WHOA!!! That’s a lotta moolata!!

Ajsubscriptions it is now, I have cancelled all my services.

It will be nice to take that extra $300 a month and stick it into my growing buffer. I even decided for the summer to cancel Blue Apron, we will be so busy that quick wraps and fresh fruit will be our main meal; plus if you live in a humid environment like me, you’ve got to be crazy to turn your oven on in the summer.

Cable and Internet is something that all financial gurus suggest you cancel; they almost make you feel guilty for having it! Yes, you can save $1200 or more a year if you don’t have it. Yes, you have so much more time to do things without mindlessly staring at your television. Yes, you can get streaming subscriptions that are cheaper than cable. Blah, blah, blah… I am financially secure enough, I’m keeping it, and I regret nothing!

Here’s the thing, if you have a service that you absolutely love, something you feel is totally worth the money and something you use every day and it doesn’t affect your bottom line, keep it! After all, it’s your money, don’t let people make you feel guilty how you use it. My rule is “How many hours do I have to work to pay for this? Is it worth my time?” That’s how I make many of my decision. I hope it helps you as well.

Tasty Tuesday:Garlic-buttered Kale

I know what you are thinking, “um, there is nothing ‘tasty’ about kale”, but you’d be wrong! I was recently introduced to kale and I really didn’t want to try it, especially since it reminded me of turnips and collards, which have never been my friend. But with some health issues looming, I had to figure out how to get more “greens” in my diet and less junk; but I didn’t want to break the bank either

I have learned eating healthier is less expensive than what you would think. I mean the whole reason I would share a recipe on a financial blog is for the money you can save, right? So I gave this recipe a shot and it is so good, I now cook it twice a week. It takes all of about seven minutes to cook and even my son will eat it. The best part about it is the cost, which is about$1.47 per person for 4 servings.

  • 2 cloves garlic – .79
  • 4 T butter
  • 1-1 1/2 bunch kale – $2.00
  • 1 T olive oil

Staple items: Olive oil – $4.00-$8.00, Butter $2.79-$4.88, salt & pepper-$3.00

  • Remove the ribs inside the kale and chop kale into bite sized pieces
  • Mince the garlic
  • Add 1 T olive oil to a medium high pan, add 2 cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt & pepper
  • sweat the garlic 1-2 minutes
  • Add the kale to the pan, add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir until the kale begins to wilt, add 1/4 c water and cook 1-2 minutes longer
  • Place a strainer over a bowl and empty the kale, garlic mixture into the strainer, press out as much liquid as you can; discard the liquid.
  • Heat the butter in the pan and place the kale back into the pan, coat the kale with the butter and cook another 1-2 minutes, adding another pinch of salt and pepper, taste it first, it tends to get salty!!
  • remove from heat and serve

This side dish goes great with a grilled or roasted meat. A small tenderloin will run $7-$10. If you are a two vegetable kind of family, add some steamed green beans at .99/lb. Your whole meal is $4.21 per person for 4 servings.

 

 

The Importance of a Buffer

age of money
YNAB ages your dollars, basically it is rate of spending vs. rate of deposit. Read more here.

Are you living paycheck to paycheck? I’d say many people do in an American society of debt overload and over indulgence do. We just weren’t raised to be savers. We look at our grandparents and great grandparents who still cut the bruised parts of fruit out and finish eating the rest and shake our heads. We think, “I will buy you a whole basket of peaches if you’ll just NOT EAT THAT!” We throw out vacuums when the belt breaks, think buying a brand new car on loan is cheaper than fixing the one that’s paid for and go pick up a burger at the local fast food joint when we just don’t want to cook. But saving is important, and over indulgence has entire generations in financial ruin. That’s why it’s important to create a buffer.

A buffer is a category you create in your budget; it’s rule four for my favorite budgeting software, YNAB. It’s different than saving for rainy day expenses, those expenses that only come up annually, or on an as-needed basis, like doctor visits and vet bills (which you should be planning for them as well!) It’s the one to six month’s salary you save so you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck, and you add to it each and every paycheck. It can be a small amount, or it can be large, It’s totally possible and most people can raise a one month’s salary buffer within 6-9 months of budgeting.

The question is, why is it so important? There are many reasons why you want to have a buffer, number one being a little thing called Murphy’s Law, which the financial guru Dave Ramsey suggests always happens where money is concerned. Murphy’s Law is an old adage, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.  What if you get fired, hurt, sick, there’s a death in the family, you have to have hip replacement, your car catches fire, your house catches fire, you hit someone with your car, and so on and so on. There are so many reasons to have that extra money handy, just in case those paychecks stop rolling in.

How much do you want to save in your buffer? Start with one and keep adding to it, you can never have too much “just in case” money. When I started using YNAB, I usually had about $30 on payday, debt, no savings, no investments, nothing. Now, three years later, we are debt free (minus our mortgage), we have an ever-growing, fully funded buffer , a separate emergency fund of $1000 and still manage to save for our 52 week savings plan. We did remove all but about $200 of our investments from Lending Club and Betterment and just put it in to savings and CD ladders. We still have the $200 because they were notes that wouldn’t sell on Lending Club so they’ll just sit there til they pay out, (one of my issues with Lending Club).

Where do you want to keep your buffer? You can keep it right in your checking account, along with your rainy day funds and your every day expenses funds.You can also consider moving it to a savings account, simply to earn a higher interest rate off of it. Either way, you want to have it tangible if you need it. YNABers aren’t usually fans of lots of accounts, it can get messy and confusing, but I am also not a fan of putting all my eggs into one basket, especially in this day with identity theft and debit card thieves out there. Basically, it’s your money, put it where you want it.

BONUS THOUGHT: You know those people who say you shouldn’t save while you still have debt? Well, I think they are wrong, especially in this particular circumstance. You may have a problem come up way before you will be out of debt, and if you need to choose between adding an extra $10 to your credit card payment and adding an extra $10 to your buffer, until it’s funded with at least a month’s worth of wages, I would choose the buffer.

Is Silver Worth Its Weight In Gold?

I am a fan of Youtube. I love watching regular people helping others learn h

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A jeweler’s loop is a great tool for finding silver coins

ow to do what seemed impossible to an untrained person. From how to earn money to changing the fuse in your dryer, Youtube’s got a how-to and I applaud all those brave enough for the comments. One of my favorite channels on Youtube is “Ask Jeff Williams“. This guy is a gold miner and he has some of the cheesiest, entertaining and educational videos around to show people where and how to find gold. Watching him one day, I started seeing a lot of videos for silver “stackers” (people who stack large quantities of silver bars and coins for future use). Many doomsday preppers like stacking silver; there belief is that the gold market will crash, US currency will crash and all that will be left to buy with is silver.  Then there are those who just like to buy and sell silver for a profit, (probably selling a lot to these preppers!) The truth is silver is a profitable trade, and something that can be done part-time to make a little bit of extra cash. There are many options in finding silver to sell. Here are a few of them:

  • Fifty cent pieces: Many silver stackers purchase boxes of fifty cent pieces from their bank, pull out any pieces pre-1964 for the silver content and deposit the rest of them back into their account. Many suggest you buy them at a different bank than you deposit them so you don’t get the same box when you go to buy more. Some dimes have silver in them as well and you can do a similar thing with them. You can find the value of your change here.
  •  Garage Sales: This is my personal favorite. People sell broken jewelry, silver-ware and other silver pieces for cents on the dollar at garage sales. Another one of my favorite Youtube channels is “Silverpicker”who has lots of tips and tricks for garage sale finds. I suggest you watch his videos to see what kind of silver you want to look for.
  • Flea Markets: Flea markets are sometimes good and sometimes not. Some of the trendy “antique” malls know what they have and sell them at prices accordingly. Other, small town flea markets, people will sell items cheaper and you can find some good treasures there.
  • Silver-Plated v. Sterling Silver: Not all silver is made alike, but with effort, both can be valuable. Sterling silver is the grade A silver you want to look for. Silver-plated items take work and effort to get the silver off of them. Many people use chemicals to remove the silver from plated items, this isn’t to be done lightly. Noxious fumes and poisonous chemicals are not for a novice. But I did see a guy use a dremel tool and grind away the silver, then have it smelted down. *remember that sterling silver is not magnetic; a strong magnet can help you determine the value of the silver piece.
  • E-bay and smelting: Once you have your silver, you are going to want to have a smelter you can trust, especially if you have to ship him your silver and expect him to send you silver bars in return. If you sell your silver directly to him, you’ll want the weight of your objects in ounces, you’ll want to know the silver price for that day. In other words, know your stuff before you go to get rid of your silver. Many people also sell their junk silver, bars and coins on e-bay. Which is a very profitable way of doing it.

The price of silver has gone down within the last five years; like a lot. It is now only about 17.50 an ounce, compared to gold’s 1275.00 an ounce. So today, silver is not worth it’s weight in gold, unless you have 72.86 oz of silver. Man, that’s a lot of silver! But here’s the beauty of it all and why many of these guys are called “stackers”. You can buy this stuff for cheap over long periods of time, stack it away, and wait for that price to come back up before you sell or just sell it on e-bay to get a better price. In 2011, silver was at 42.58 an oz, so it is possible to make good money with silver, and some people find it easier to get silver than gold. Also, looking into other countries’ markets, silver is doing better, but buying in another market is way out of my league!

There are many things to ponder when considering silver as an equitable source, time, effort, money, worth, but I’m the kind of person who sees $17.50 as more money than what I had before. If I’m already looking at garage sales and happen to see some nice silver jewelry for fifty cents, I’m going to buy it. If nothing else, if it’s a pretty piece, I might just sell the jewelry to a jeweler, or on e-bay, or one of my flea-marketeers I know.

I also think a box of half dollars would be a nice gift to give my kid for his birthday. We have sat at the kitchen table many a day looking for imperfections in our change, or that rare coin that might bring him an extra $5.00. It gives us a “cents” of adventure; those are memories I get to share with him always and that’s worth all the money in the world.