Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food : Hot Chocolate

I make this wonderful thing called Heart Attack Hot Chocolate. I love it, my husband loves it, my friend Amee seemed fairly fond of it. I make it from scratch with ingredients that I have around the house and it saves me from buying expensive drink mix.


2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1C - 1 1/2 C Milk

Cost per Serving : Approx $0.40

Pour the milk in a pan and set over a medium heat. Stirring as much as possible, add the other ingredients. Mix well and continue to heat until warmed through.

You can add a little peppermint flavoring if you want it minty, or for real Heart Attack Hot Chocolate, top with marshmallows, whipped cream, and grated chocolate!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last Day Off

Today was my last day off until April. 

It scares me to think that starting Monday I'll be working 60 hour weeks at two different jobs. Lets also tack on one of the scariest things. My husband took a new job in Florida, 5 and a half hours away. He'll be working down there 5 days a week and coming back on weekends. 

I'm quite terrified, but we're committed to making it all work. This means that we're going to have some serious changes to our budget and the way that we handle our money. I'm hoping that we'll be able to make more progress on some of the joint goals that we have over the next few months. 

I'm sure going to miss him, though. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Have You Checked On Your Car Insurance Lately?

Car insurance is one of those necessary evils. We all hate to pay it, but you've got to do what you've got to do. 

Now, everyone knows that your driving history effects your premiums. If you have a ticket or an accident on your record, you'll be paying more every month. However, those only last for three years. So if you've ever had a speeding violation or a traffic incident, make sure that you know the date that they will be coming off your record. 

Why is this important? Because if it comes off before your insurance policy gets renewed, you won't automatically get those savings until the next term. But, if you call them and ask them, they can adjust your policy. 

I have joint insurance with my husband, and we both have small violations coming off our record in the next two months. If I call and check in with my insurance company, I will likely be able to knock 10% or more off the cost of our premiums. 

So, if you know you've had an infraction, give your insurance company a quick call and see when it's due to come off your policy. Every little helps!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food: Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce

Pasta with a red sauce is one of the most frugal foods I know. This recipe is for a basic tomato sauce that can also be used in things like lasagna, or as a base for pizza.


1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Very Small Can Tomato Paste
1 Normal can of Tomato Puree
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
2 Garlic Cloves (finely chopped)

Cost per Serving : Approx $0.62

This is ridiculously simple. Take all of the ingredients and put them in a pan. Cover the pan, turn on a low heat, simmer for 20 minutes. That is all there is to it. You can add veggies like bell peppers or onions if you have some left over that need using up, but this sauce holds up really well on it's own. This will keep in the fridge for more than a week, or you can freeze it in Tupperware and defrost as needed.

Check out these other frugal recipes:

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Cheese and Egg Wrap

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Much Do You Pay for a Haircut?

I have a question..... how much do you pay for a haircut?
I have long, fine hair. It's hard for me to do anything with it in the mornings because it doesn't hold a style. Because of this, I rely on really good haircuts that make my hair look okay, but don't require maintenance.
I had one of these cuts yesterday. I go to a really great salon and my cut costs me about $55, and then I usually top on top of that.
Is this extreme? I know that I am working on my finances and being frugal, but should I be cutting back on my cuts too?

How much do you pay for a haircut?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tides are Turning

I've had a really bad 8 months. Lets not kid around here. It's been pretty horrible. 
There have been times when I've wanted to pack in this blog, to give up on any goals and dreams that I'm trying to pursue, and just hide with the covers pulled over my head. 
But I feel like I'm getting close to a shift. I'm about to go back to having two jobs again. I'll still be working in professional theatre, but I'll be doing that part time while I work a new full time job at a strong and steady web company. 
I'll be doing online technical support. The pay is good, and the company seems really nice. It means that I'll be able to get a strong grip on my finances. I may even be able to pay my non-student loan debt off as early as September. This is a huge deal to me. It also means I can pay off my student loan on time. 
It means I'll be back to sixty hour weeks until April when I will drop back to 50 hours. 
The other reason I feel like the tides are turning is that something good and random may have fallen into my lap. I've been looking at doing voiceover work for a while and haven't gotten round to getting my demo recorded. Today one of my friends, an actor around town told me that he had referred his agent to me about a small acting gig that she was looking for someone to do. 
This is a little out of the ordinary for me, I don't act primarily, but I have in the past. So I called her, she asked me to come in and do an audition tape, and she's sending it to the client today. I should find out tomorrow whether or not I get it, but she does seem pretty confident, which was nice. I had a lot of fun doing it. 
If this pans out, it's a foot in the door to more work. I'm going to be sending this agent my headshot and resume, and my demo if I ever get it recorded. We'll see if anything good comes of it!

So it feels like things might finally be working out. Now all I have to do is remain calm while I wait for that phone call!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food : Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a yummy and healthy vegetarian dish. It goes great with a side salad or a soup. 


2 Acorn Squash
1 Small Onion
6oz Mushrooms
1/2 C Breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Tsp Thyme
1/2 Tsp Parsley
Dash of Salt
Dash of Pepper

Cost per Serving: Approx $2.50

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top of the acorn squashes and scoop all of the seeds out. Place the squashes cut side down on a baking tray and bake or 30 minutes.
In the meantime, finely slice the onion and mushrooms. Melt the butter in a pan and sautee the mushrooms and onions over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until softened. Mix in the herbs and spices and set aside. 
After the squash is finished baking, pull out of the over and set right side up. Mix the breadcrumbs into the onions and mushrooms, then generously fill the squash with the mixture. Bake for another 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. 

Check out this other Frugal Recipe:

Friday, January 16, 2009

How to Cancel TV without Giving It Up

I have cable TV and internet, and I'm seriously considering giving it up. Yes, I love my CNN, Food Network and Bravo, but I've come to realize that TV is not only a huge time waster for me, but an unnecessary expense. I pay an extra $25 a month on top of internet for my basic cable, but most of the time when I watch TV, I'm doing it through my computer.

This is because I have the double whammy of Internet TV.... and


I pay $9.71 for Netflix and I only get one movie a month. I also only normally watch one movie per month. This is because what I really get out of Netflix is the Instant Queue feature. Netflix has tons of TV shows that have been released on DVD to watch on your instant queue. You can watch as many as you like and they stream directly to your computer. My husband and I have watched the first four seasons of The Office, I've watched the first season of 30 Rock, and there are a bunch of other shows we are hoping to work our way through.

Hulu is a website that offers many many shows right after they have aired. Some shows only have the last episode, or the last five, but a few have entire seasons worth on there. I watch Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy, Top Chef, Legend of the Seeker and several others. They even have The Daily Show. The best part is that it is completely free.

So when you're looking to squeeze a few more dollars out of your budget, consider making a quick call to your cable company and dropping your TV service. The internet is all you need!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Income Stream : Distilled Rose Teas

Last year I sold my bath and beauty company. I'd spent four years building it up, and I'd gotten everything I wanted out of it. I had developed a great product line that I was happy with. I was happy when I found someone else to take it over, and Cottonwood Herbals have been carrying my products ever since.

Now, after several months of thinking, I'm ready to start a new company. I've been batting the idea of creating an herbal tea company around for years and now I've taken the plunge. Today I started Distilled Rose Teas! I'm starting with just a few kinds of tea, but I'm hoping to build up to maybe 20 different teas.

I'm hoping that I'll start getting orders soon! Starting your own business is a great way to form an alternate income stream and to be creative.

Have you ever considered starting your own business?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Review : The Four Hour Work Week

I admire Timothy Ferriss. A lot.

When I picked up The Four Hour Work Week, I wasn't expecting to gain much from it. I know that a lot of the book is about outsourcing your life or creating a product that will essentially get you nice and rich, so I didn't think I would be too inspired. 

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised though. Tim has a lot of really good ideas about managing your work flow, and his ideas and examples of mini-retirements are really great. I've always said that I would love to spend 6 months in one country and then move to another and explore the world that way. This is something that Tim believes you can do and indeed has done himself.

What I really gained from this book, was inspiration. Tim is obviously a very smart and capable person. He has an interesting view of the world and a lot of good ideas. I liked hearing his story and was very intrigued and inspired by his life. I won't be taking a lot of his advice, but I'll certainly be recommending his book as a worthwhile read for anybody!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Frugal Food : Cheese and Egg Wrap

Having contemplated long and hard I have decide to make Saturday frugal recipe day. Without further ado, here is a great quick and easy lunch recipe that costs pennies to make.


1 Large Flour Wrap or Tortilla
2 Eggs
1/4C Grated Sharp Cheddar
1 Tablespoon Water
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil for frying

Cost Per Serving : Approx. $1.48

Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan or omelet pan. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the water and salt. Pour the eggs into the pan and cook over a medium heat. When one side has set (about two minutes), flip over and scatter the cheese on the cooked side. Cook for a minute or so more until the cheese starts to melt. Put in the middle of the tortilla, roll up, and enjoy!

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Easy Income from House Sitting

I've been trying for a while now to make extra and sporadic income to supplement my regular paychecks. I'm not really in a position to take on something with set hours, but I can do additional one shot work, or something that I can do on my own schedule.

I live in a building that contains about 60 units. We have a community message board that people are often advertising different events or services on. I decided to put up a note that I would be able to do some loft sitting... checking mail, feeding cats, watering plants etc. I had a bunch of people pull off the tabs with my number and email address, and a couple of weeks ago I got an email from someone who is traveling a lot right now and wants someone to keep an eye on things for them.
I'm charging a monthly fee to check their mail, make sure nothing in the loft is leaking, and fax them their rent bill.
Because they are in the same building as me, the impact on my daily life is minimal. I will be able to check in on things for them whenever I have a few spare minutes. It's the perfect little side job.

Is this something that you could do in your building or your neighborhood? Why not print up a flyer or two and see if you can provide this service to someone who lives near you!

What other low impact ways do you make extra money?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

5 Tips for Surviving Next Christmas

The holidays are finally just about over. But before Twelfth Night hits, it's a good idea to look around and take one finally step in your holiday celebrations. By spending about an hour planning for next year, you will be able to reduce at least some of the stress that will hit you in December when you realize you weren't as prepared as you thought you were!

1. Put all of your wrapping supplies, leftover cards and small decorations in a labeled box and put them away.

2. Decide how much money you will be spending on Christmas next year and set up a savings account with a monthly automatic transfer to help you reach that goal. I recommend ING Direct.

3. Save any new holiday recipes you discovered and put them away with the decorations. Also put away things like cookies cutters.

4. Instead of jumbling holiday lights up into a big mess, wrap them in a coil that you fixin place with cable ties so that getting them out will be easier next year.

5. Think of everything you wanted for Christmas that you didn't get this year. Make a list somewhere of these items, or put them in an Amazon wish list so when people ask you later in the year what you want for Christmas, you'll have an answer.

Monday, January 5, 2009

December Net Worth Update

December was another great Net Worth month for me.

I managed to increase my Net Worth by $973. Part of this was because the value of my car increased a little. I also managed to pay off another credit card and made a couple of extra payments so that I could accomplish some of my 2008 goals.

Here is the break down for this month:


Car Value - $2,730 (2,480)

Prosper Loans - $226 ($222)

Cash Savings - $487 ($385)


Student Loans - $23,821

BOA Credit Card - $4,701 ($5,039)

Scooter Loan - $1,985 ($2266)

Net Worth

- $27,064 (-$28,037)

So, as you can see, I hit my 2008 goal of getting my Net Worth below -$28,000. I actually smashed through it pretty nicely.

My goal for 2009 is to get my Net Worth below -$20,000.

The next thing I am working on, though, is getting my scooter loan paid off. If I made all of the regular payments on it, I would get it paid off in 19 months. I am aiming to pay it off in closer to 5 months, maybe less if I work really hard at it.

My Savings accounts remain lower than I would like, so I am also hoping that I will be able to beef them up during the year. Right now, I have just under $500 saved. I want at least $2,000 put away by the end of the year. I would also like to have more money in my travel fund.

My full Net Worth report can be found here.

Click here for past Net Worth Reports.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Poll for Future Saturday Content

Now that the new year is here, I am hoping to make a couple of changes on this blog and I have a questions for you. What would you like to see as the Saturday weekly post from me?

I have a little poll here and would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to vote on what you would like in the comments!

The choices are:

Frugal Handy Tip
Household Handy Tip
Frugal Food Recipe
Book Review
Other (Please make a suggestions!)

Thanks so much!

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 Goals

I'm a really goal oriented person. I did pretty well on my 2008 goals, only missing one of them. This year I have set several goals, and I have broken them up into financial and personal. So, here is the plan for 2009.

Financial Goals

Pay off all non-student loan debt

This is my credit card and my scooter loan and it currently stands at around $6500.

Get Net Worth below -$20,000

This would mean increasing by Networth by about $7000.

Get Emergency Fund to $2,000

This currently stands at just under $500.

Get Student Loan to below $20,000

This means paying off $3,811 of my loan.

Personal Goals

Reach my Target Weight

I gained about 20lb over the last year and a half and my target weight means that I need to lose 13 of them.

Be Published in a National Magazine

This was a tentative goal for last year and I am still hoping that it occurs.

Go to a different country other than England

I love to travel, and go to England often because my family lives there. This year I would really like to go to a different country as well as the UK. I'm shooting for France, but we have no firm plans.

Go on two auditions

I've done a little acting before, and I went on one audition in 2008, so I'm going to do it twice in 2009. It really helps me get outside of my comfort zone and I would love to get more stage experience.

Learn Basic French

I've wanted to do this forever but never actually set it as a goal.

Read 2 Books per Month

I have a bookcase full of unread books and I really want to knuckle down and read more. I'm a tad embarrassed about how little I read these days.

Get a Voice over agent

This is a really big goal and one that I hope to accomplish fairly quickly. I've done voice over work before and I really love it. I would like to sign with an agency because it's a hard market to break in to.

Get this blog to over 200 subscribers

At the moment I have 40 subscribers.

So that's the plan. We'll see how I do and I'll post progress as I make it. I know I'm being super ambitious with a few of these goals, but I think it's important to aim high.

What are your goals for 2009?