My Skin Care Secret: body butter

Three years ago I was at a baby shower and our favour was this absolutely delicious coffee scrub that one of the attendees had made. Unfortunately she lived too far away for me to support her business but I wanted more. According to her card she was using all natural ingredients that you could eat.

Well a google search later and I was deep into the world of do it yourself beauty. This can be an expensive habit especially as people are always willing to suggest unique and interesting ingredients you can use. So I dug deeper and found websites dedicated to making beauty products from kitchen ingredients.

My favourite by far is my  body butter. I suffer from terribly dry skin in the winter and was using a cream that costs $25/tube. I was searching for something that would help for less. That’s when I came across website for patients with sensitive skin touting Crisco.

Since I had Crisco in my kitchen I pulled out the block of shortening, sliced a chunk and put in a container. It was fantastic on my skin  but a bit hard to spread and I missed my scented lotions.

Well I’ve ironed out those kinks so you can enjoy this:

1

Using this:

2

My method:

  • I sliced off about 1/4 of my Crisco and put it in a medium mixing bowl
  • Using my electric mixer I beat the crisco until creamy
  • Then added the essential oil and mixed more
  • I used a rubber spatula to put my homemade body butter into a container

That’s it!

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September Week 3 & 4Over

Week 3 was a bit insane. I cleared out 2 savings accounts paying for the car and the medical expense. I know that’s what my savings are for and these are accounts that are meant to be emptied for the appropriate expenses. However, it always leaves me feeling a little hollow when the previously full account sits around $0.

Week 4 was definitely different! As I was sick yesterday the money budgeted for going out to lunch is now in my leftover account. For the next few months I am going to try to leave any leftover weekly money alone. With Christmas just 3 months away I want to make sure that this Season of Giving doesn’t add to my debt. Even frugal, homemade gifts can get pricey.

One more week of September left!

Wasting Money or am I?

I came home with a terrible headache yesterday; the sort of pain that makes my weekend a write off. The problem was that I had a full Day of Fun* planned with ML. It included the type of fun for which you purchase tickets in advance to a sold out event.

We kept pushing back the start of our day until an hour or so before the paid portion. Still feeling lousy I asked if he wanted to find another date or  to give away our tickets. Knowing my frugal journey his first question was, “Are you going to be mad about wasting money?”

I knew that if I went out of the house I would be even more miserable and the Day of Fun would be anything but.

“Do you care who gets the tickets?” Was the second question. I just wanted them to go to a good home. I felt that the money would be wasted if they didn’t get used. So we started our search. In the end a friend of mine got a free date with his girlfriend. When they came to pick up the tickets we chatted a bit and turns out they wanted to go do something fun outside because it’s a gorgeous day but couldn’t find something that they both agreed on that cost next to nothing.

I’m sad that I didn’t get our day out as I was really looking forward to it but I’m not upset about the money. The tickets went to a good home and the money went from an Entertainment expense to a Gift expense.

I on the other hand spent the afternoon on the couch, watching episodes of Archer with ML, eating Chinese food. The Day of Fun was saved!

 

*Day of Fun is a random day that we plan to just hang out and have fun together. Yes we could randomly binge on Netflix at anytime but when we declare it Day of Fun thought goes into what we do and it’s pretty focused on joy.

Eating Out on a Budget: Dessert can be the answer.

cake

I had a fantastic lunch: there was great company, lovely conversation and the meal? Well who could beat a chocolate brownie sundae? It seems a bit odd to some that I would have dessert as a meal and this penchant has given me a bit of a reputation among friends and colleagues.

It started out as a cost saving measure in high school when my group of friends would  go out for dinner then a movie. I almost never finished my plate so I would have an entire meal left over that would have to be pitched as I couldn’t take it into the theatre. This would not do!

Now I’m not currently known for my healthy eating habits but it was much worse when I was a teen. I have yet to meet a dessert that I didn’t love. With a proper dinner out of the question I had no problem looking at the dessert menu. Often it was the perfect amount of food and the waste problem was solved.

I still don’t eat a lot in a single sitting so when we go out and I order a meal I tend to ask for a take out container immediately and divide my food. When I noticed that my work lunches were taking place at some more expensive venues it was easy to return to my dessert habit.  I’ve gone to a few places where my entree is $20 but my dessert is $7. I’m quite happy to pay my $7, enjoy a wonderful treat and then head out. It has the added benefit of no one feeling sorry for me or asking me if I’m sure that’s all I want as I’m a rather petite woman.

Desserts not up your alley? Try an appetizer instead. I’ve found this has helped me at certain dinner dates where I want to see folks but not spend a lot on food or really I’m not very hungry. I can grab a quick bite at home and then have either a dessert or appetizer with my friends.

Photo courtesy of rakratchada torsapat FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Procrastinating and Stressing

Thank goodness for this blog! I really need to take stock of this month but I was a bit afraid as this week has gotten our of control. Being sick, tired, and busy makes for less self control. If not for promising myself that I’d blog daily and be accountable I would have just found excuses to avoid checking my bank account. As we all know that’s how debt is avoided.

Knowing that I needed to share something today. I checked my account – it’s not terrible! It turns out that as we’re both sick we aren’t purchasing as much groceries so the lunch out I forgot about can be accommodated without cutting into the day out I had planned with ML.

The stressing continued when I began looking ahead to October and it looks like I have more wants than funds. This weekend I’m going to sit down, take stock of the month and look ahead.

What bad habits do you give in to when you start stressing about your funds?

That Medical Line

sick

I’m sick as is ML. It’s one of those awful seasonal colds that it seems everyone gets in September. As you know I’ve just used my medical line of savings on a big expense. I haven’t even submitted it to my insurance yet to see if I can recoup the cost.

So when I woke up on Sunday with all the symptoms I was concerned that being sick was going to ruin my budget. Over the counter medications are not inexpensive. The brand I usually purchase is over $20 for 24 pills or nearly half my grocery budget.

Thankfully I found a cheaper pharmacy brand. Downside: while my first choice lets me continue working this one leaves me drained so I can’t take it at work even though it only lasts 4 hours.

On the plus side, we already had pork chops in the freezer that can be made with a side of rice. Currently I just want ham sandwiches and $15 got me a loaf of bread, 2 packs of ham and another emergency freezer lasagna as neither of us wanted to cook. So maybe the weekly budget won’t take a hit.

My heart goes out to those who suffer from ill health. It’s expensive! I’m hoping that at the end of the week I’ll break even in spite of this setback.

To aid my healing I’m also using tips from friends and family: teas laced with honey, menthol rub on my feet with socks, hydrogen peroxide in the ears and for some reason sleeping with olive oil in my hair.

Any tips to help me kick this cold to the curb?

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Trini Secret!

I’ve been having a conversation with a friendly budget warrior about the spices that I use to enhance meals. One of the seasonings I use is green seasoning. This is a make do recipe so that it can suit your tastes as well as the grocery selection.

The easiest recipe I’ve found that also has some great photos is on Cooking with Ria. She also explains how it’s used really well.

Her recipe differs a bit from mine in that I do:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic
  • a bunch of chive (green onion)
  • 1 sweet pepper
  • bunches of any green seasoning that I like (curly parsley, cilantro, etc.)
  • White vinegar, instead of water

Peel, chop, seed ingredients as necessary. Place all ingredients in a blender and add a bit of vinegar to help with the blending. I store this in glass bottles, often coffee jars, in the fridge and it keeps for a rather long time.

Happy cooking!

How do you Budget?

L and I over at  Coming to Bloom had chatted about how we budget which led to this post.

I’ve shared with you my monthly budget and given weekly updates on my progress but as I’ve mentioned before – I’m curious. It’s all well and good to tell me something but I want you to show me. So it’s only fair that I show you.

Monthly|Broad Categories

My monthly budget document is a guideline that I developed a while ago and update as my needs change. Realistically the budget I’m showing you is only 2 months old as that was the last time I played with my areas.

Monthly Spending Budget
Income $$$$
Budget July August August Proposed September September projected
Fixed Costs
Life Insurance 7.52 7.30 7.30 7.30 7.52
Car Insurance 5.09 4.99 4.99 5.00 4.99 5.09
Mortage 17.70 17.70 17.70 17.70 17.70 17.7
Home Phone 5.31 5.31 4.42 5.31 5.31 5.31
Cell 6.19 15.49 8.50 8.50 8.54 7.65
Netflix 0.66 0.22 0.70 0.66 0.48 0.66
Savings* 7.08 7.96 5.31 7.08 5.31 7.08
Debt Repayment 0.00 2.02 2.59
Total 49.55 58.97 50.94 51.55 44.92 51.01
Variable Costs
Fashion 3.54 2.35 1.77 0.00 3.79 6.86
Bunny 1.77 1.92 2.72 0.88 1.57 1.77
Eating out 4.42 5.83 2.95 3.10 0.00 1.77
Entertainment 6.64 11.69 17.07 14.38 7.38 2.43
Gifts 4.42 4.64 1.41 3.10 0.00 0
Gas 1.77 10.33 1.73 1.77 1.94 3.54
Car** 2.21 13.28 2.21 2.21 2.21 2.21
Groceries 13.27 14.98 7.75 11.06 5.60 11.06
House Insurance** 3.76 0.00 3.76 3.76 3.76 3.76
Misc. 2.21 2.14 1.10 0.00 3.96 0.88
Medical** 0.88 18.46 0.88 0.88 0.88 14.16
Taxes** 3.32 3.32 3.32 3.32 3.32
Total 48.21 85.62 46.67 44.46 34.41 51.77
Total 97.76 144.59 97.61 96.01 79.33 102.78
over/under budget
% over/under budget -0.47 0.02 0.02 0.18 2.78

You’ll notice that there is no debt repayment on my budget. This is because I’ve fibbed to myself, the income I use is the minimum I feel I can live on without feeling financial pressure it’s not my real income. I deposit my entire paycheque into my Line of Credit from there I pay my bills, transfer money to savings and into my chequing accounts weekly.

At the bottom of my budget I have a list of all my accounts, including my line of credit, and I show myself the balances. This helps me see the growth of my savings and depletion of my debt.

Weekly | Details

At the beginning of the month I ascertain the number of weeks in the month and attribute some spending to each week. I base it on the number of Sundays in the month, therefore in September I budgeted for 5 weeks.

While the monthly budget is in broad categories the weekly spending gets into the nitty gritty.

Budget

This exercise helps me be aware of my spending. In September there were a few expenses I had forgotten about but knowing that I had not allocated all my budget money made this less stressful. At the end of every week I would input my spending into my monthly budget document. As I went over the 1st week of September this was my opportunity to readjust the spending for the rest of the weeks. I updated the rest of the month accordingly and didn’t blow my monthly budget.

Why?

It may seem ridiculous to use both these methods. I do because the monthly budget is how I learned to budget and I get  great satisfaction from seeing my spending trends. The problem is that I can still be a bit of a child: “$250 for groceries! I can buy anything I want! Ooh, cheesecake is $20 and ice cream is $5. I can get 10 desserts!” Therefore breaking it down weekly reigns in my inner child. $50 for groceries per week means that I can’t spend half of it on dessert. Transferring the amounts weekly keep me honest, I’m not tempted to spend just a few dollars more as I know that I don’t have just a few dollars more. To get the extra funds I need to go home and transfer the funds. That’s a lot of work for something that’s not going to greatly improve my standard of living and take me further from my goal of paying off debt quickly.

Savings

I’ve always had a problem with how to track my savings. I now just track the total in the savings account at the end of the month. This way when I take out money to fix the car it doesn’t hit my budget line and make me feel as though I have gone over budget.

How do you budget? What systems and tools do you use?

September Week 3 Down or Why did I have my Credit Card?

I have a glorious points credit card. I get one point for every $10 dollars spent anywhere and each point is $1 that can be used at select retailers to get pretty much anything from trips to groceries. Two years ago I got all my Christmas gifts and dinner supplies with points as I used my credit card for everything.

This week I had two big expenses that I was going to use my savings for: car and medical. Combined they were a little under $1000 which if I used my credit car would give me ~100 points. The plan was to use my credit card for both of these and then pay it off using savings.

So far I’m a responsible adult. Here’s the problem I left my credit card in my wallet. So today after a very stressful morning when a co-worker asked if I had any lunch suggestions and then if I’d like to join I gave in to a craving for spicy food and went for lunch. I told myself that I did this as I know that I have $20 leftover from earlier this month. The truth is I did this because I had my card on me and knew the cash was available.

Tonight, I went to a discount store for work and only took my work credit card. I was so glad I did this because I found myself wishing that I had my own credit card so I could stock up on adorable Halloween decor and possibly a wig.

I used to think I was in control of my spending in spite of the fact that with the exception of the mortgage all my debt is consumer debt. Today proved to me that I too easily believe that having a credit card at my disposal means that I have cash.

The credit card has gone back to its drawer until it’s once again needed for a big points collecting purchase.

Week three was fine and I didn’t go over but with a busy weekend ahead I’m going to have to revisit the budget on Monday so I don’t find myself in the red at the end of the month.

Going Old Fashioned in the Kitchen: Rice

rice

Looking for a cheap, easy and tasty dinner? Rice!

You can add things to it, sauce it up or just plain season the heck out of it.

If you’re like me, in your quest to get the best price you may have picked up a bag of rice that comes with no instructions. In that case read on:

Ingredients

  • Rice
  • Water
  • Spices that you love (optional)

Method

  • The ratio I use is 2:1 (water:rice)
  • Wash the rice – I really do recommend this step. I tend to rinse in a measuring cup until less cloudy.
  • Add the spices to the water and bring it to a boil
  • Add the rice, stir, then lower the heat and cover
  • Cook covered for 20 minutes
  • Remove lid and stir if liquid is evaporated

Now 20 minutes tends to work for me. Sometimes it’s longer so I hang around so as to avoid the burnt layer that is too happy to stick to the bottom of my pots.

Photo courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net