Friday, August 29, 2008

Food Friday: Southwestern Chicken & Rice

I'm starting a new regular feature - Food Friday. Each Friday, I will post a new recipe from my file of tried and true recipes. Most of my recipes are super easy and cheap. This week's recipe was a favorite before we had our son. Unfortunately, our son is allergic to rice so I can no longer make it unless he is at his grandparents for the evening.

Southwestern Chicken & Rice

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup chunky salsa
1 package taco seasoning
2 cups water
2 cups instant rice
1 cup black beans (drained)
2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese (I use whatever I have)

Boil chicken in salsa, taco seasoning and water, cover. Simmer 10 minutes and then return to a boil. Stir in uncooked rice and black beans. Sprinkle with cheese, cover, and cook on low for 5 minutes.

* If you want more delicious recipes like this, please subscribe to my feed so you won't miss next week's recipe.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finance Books on Sale

I'm a huge advocate of Dave Ramsey and now through Sept.2, he is having a sale. All of his books and downloads are on sale for $10 each. Visit to see all of the choices, but I highly recommend Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace. Although we have always been debt adverse, we have still learned some great tips from Dave. If you are in debt or struggling with living paycheck to paycheck, then you will get even more out of his books.

Swag Bucks

My current favorite search engine is Swag Bucks. You receive points for doing searches and can apply these towards prizes. Within a month I had earned enough for a $5 Starbucks gift card. I've also received a few gift cards for Since we buy most of my husbands textbooks online, these have come in handy. This search engine is powered by Google and To sign up, click the banner below.

Search & Win

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Free Chick-fil-A

On Labor Day, Chick-fil-A is giving away a free 3 pack of Chick-n-Strips to anyone who comes in wearing a football team logo or collegiate logo. This offer is good from 10:30 am until close so go dig out your favorite team's t-shirt or sweatshirt and enjoy some free food on Monday.

Waste Less Wednesday: Bananas

It seems like bananas go from green to brown on my way home from the grocery store. They never last as long as I would like them to. Instead of getting upset that they are browning early, I've started freezing them as soon as they start to turn. I learned the hard way, don't freeze them with the peel on. The first time I did this I spent about 30 minutes trying to peel it.

I keep whole frozen bananas to use in banana bread and banana cake. Thaw out about 3o minutes before you want to bake and they will be fine. I keep the little bits my son doesn't finish in a separate and labeled bag for smoothies. He is pretty picky about fruits and veggies but he will eat anything in a smoothie as long as there is some banana in it. My basic recipe is frozen banana, milk, a little sugar or honey if the fruit isn't very sweet, and any other fruit on the verge of going bad. I usually make this in my mini food processor so the cleanup is easy and the portion is just right. On warm summer days he thinks he is getting a treat and I am happy because he is eating fruit.

Monday, August 25, 2008


How many times have you dumped the house looking for a certain item? I'm horrible about knowing I have something but can't quite place it. Because of this, I'm working on organizing our house and keeping it that way. With a toddler, it is a constant battle, but I will never win the battle if I don't start.

I find I also save a lot of money by being organized because I know what I have. For instance, last time I cleaned out my pantry, I found duplicates of several spices. I'm sure I bought them for a certain recipe thinking I was out of that spice. If only I had dug awhile, I would have saved a little money. I make it a goal to clean out my pantry once a quarter. It is on my to do list this week. When I do it often, it doesn't take as long but when I wait, the task seems overwhelming. I challenge you to pick one area of your house that needs to be organized this week and start there. If the task is too large, break it down. Some weeks, I'm doing good to get one drawer cleaned out. If you work on one or two things a week, your house will never get too out of control.

Feel free to share your organizing tips or what you organized this week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School Supply Sales

I figured most of the school supply sales would be over by now seeing as all of the local schools have started but Staples is having a great sale this week. Here are a few of the deals:

Manual pencil sharpener - free (limit 3)
2 pocket folders - free (limit 10)
Cap erasers - free (limit 3)
Glue sticks - .25 (4 pack)
Binder 3-hole punch - .25
Plastic binders - .25
Pencil box - .05 (these have great uses around the house and car for storing little things)

There are plenty more good sales but these are the ones that stand out the most. Don't forget to help out teacher or school by donating some of these great deals to them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Long Term Living on Less

Check out this great guest post on long term living on less from MoneySavingMom (link in right column). After living for close to a year on a part time income, I feel I could have written so much of this article. She makes some great points that I have planned to tackle in further detail down the road.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stress Reducers

I've just come home from a very stressful day at my part time job and that got me to thinking about what I do to unwind when I'm stressed. I have to admit, food is probably my favorite way to unwind but I'm working on finding other alternatives. Here are a few things I do:

Take a bubble bath. With a toddler, it is usually pretty short but even a few minutes helps.

Read a book or magazine. It is fun to let my mind wander for awhile and not focus on the craziness around me.

Eat dessert. My favorite treat is ice cream and I always have some kind of low fat ice cream on hand. My second favorite treat is a McDonald's Diet Coke. I don't know what it is about their's but I crave it. It isn't really dessert but it is a real treat for me. Since I rarely eat out though, I don't give in to this treat often.

Play with my child. Sometimes he is the source of stress but more often than not, spending a few quality minutes with him really calms me down.

Snuggle with my husband. It seems like we go ninety to nothing all day long and a few minutes sitting next to each other on the couch can be very relaxing. It gives us both bonding time and forces us to sit still for awhile.

Surf the net or watch TV. My guilty pleasure is spending time on the internet. I try to save this one for when the little one is in bed because I can get lost and spend hours here. I've been known to set a timer so that I don't waste my entire evening on the internet. Talking to friends, playing games, researching any and every topic - the list is endless as to what you can do on the internet.

Do you have any great and inexpensive ways you unwind after a stressful day? Feel free to share them in the comments section.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Waste Less Wednesday: Toilet Paper Rolls

Today's Waste Less Wednesday topic is the cardboard rolls that toilet paper and paper towels come on. I know, this seems like a strange topic, but they have some good uses. I am always looking for ideas on how to keep my son entertained and these are great. He loves it when I make binoculars out of them. Glue or tape two rolls together and then let your child decorate it with markers and stickers. Sometimes I punch a few holes in the sides and tie on a string so he can wear it around his neck. He has a blast going through the house looking at things with his binoculars.

Another fun craft is to make party poppers with them. Put a small prize on the inside and then wrap tissue paper several times around the outside, leaving an edge on both ends. Tie the ends with a string or ribbon. This can be a fun party favor. My aunt once gave these out at Christmas and everyone had a blast pulling the ends to see what was inside theirs. Here is a picture of the finished project:

A more practical use for the paper towel rolls is to stuff them with plastic bags. I try to reuse the bags but they seem to overtake my house. Stuff them inside a roll and they take up little space though. It is easy to pull them out when you need one. You could even decorate the roll and attach it to the inside of a cabinet or the side of a refrigerator.
Do you have any other creative uses for these rolls? If so, feel free to leave me a comment.

Monday, August 18, 2008


MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) has become near and dear to my heart. MOPS is a group of moms who get together once or twice a month, usually at a church, for mom time. Anyone with a child birth through kindergarten can join. Most groups have food, fellowship, crafts, speakers, etc. Childcare is also provided at most places so you get to enjoy everything without keeping an eye on a child. Our meetings are a little bit different each time but they always start with breakfast. I look forward to that little bit of time each month where I can eat without someone else helping themselves to my plate and having time to grow as a person, not just a mom, through speakers and activities. Although this group isn't exactly a way to live on less, it helps me to be a better mom and that is better than saving money. A person once told me that babysitting is much cheaper than therapy and I wholeheartedly agree. The few dollars I spend on each meeting is even cheaper than babysitting and I get to do something more exciting than running errands or cleaning the house while my child is being taken care.

This year's theme is Adventures in Mothering. I love this theme because anyone who is a mother knows that it is a new adventure every day. If you are interested in finding a MOPS group in your area, click here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Entertaining on a Dime

Entertaining can be fun but it can also be expensive. We've learned how to entertain without breaking the budget. Here are a few things we do to save money:

1. Plan ahead. I almost always have cake mixes, pasta salad, etc on hand for last minute entertaining. I buy things when I find them deeply discounted. If you know an event is coming up, start buying a few items at a time so that there isn't one large expense.

2. Build your ____ bar. Nachos, tacos, baked potato, pasta, etc are fun to customize. Lay out several toppings and let everyone make there own dinner.

3. Potluck. We love to have potlucks because it is fun to try new dishes. If it is a small group, I assign a specific course and attempt to have the menu flow together. If it is a large group, I leave it up to everyone as to what to bring.

4. Shop end of season sales for paper goods. I hit the 75% tables at the party good stores so that I always have disposables on hand. For small groups the fine china is great but who wants to do dishes for a large group? Many times I can find packages of plates for a quarter.

5. Dessert only. It isn't necessary to serve a full meal each time, sometimes it is fun to simply have dessert and coffee.

6. Keep it simple. Some of the best parties I've been to have served only hotdogs, chips, and a dessert. Too many times we go overboard trying to add a bunch of dishes or something fancy but simple is just as great.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to entertain on a dime? Feel free to leave a comment or email me to let me know.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

K-Mart Savings on Clothes

I dropped by K-Mart last night looking for a sand bucket and came out with a bag full of clothes. All of their clearance clothing is 40% off the markdown. I bought a bunch of play clothes for my son for next year. I also found a few things to put in our Operation Christmas Child box. Our church collects these boxes every year at Christmas and this sale allows me to put more in the box because the cost is low. Many items I found last night were only $1-2 after the markdown. I came out with a bag stuffed for $11.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I've had an ING DIRECT account for over a year now so I can vouch for this online bank. They currently have 3% earnings on savings accounts so this is a great place to keep your emergency fund. Also, if you refer people from your account, you make a little money and so do they. Here are a few of the positives about this bank.

With an Orange Savings Account from ING DIRECT, benefits to account holders are:

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ING DIRECT makes $aving money simple! Open your account online today and start earning 3.00% variable APY. No Fees and No Minimums!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Buy Now For Next Year

Clearance sales are about over on summer clothes but there are still some great deals out there. This is the time to stock up on basics for next year. Try to stay away from the trendy items as they may not be in style next year. I buy most of my child's clothes for the next season at clearance sales. Yes, it is hard to guess sizes but since the items are bought so cheap, they can usually be resold for a profit if need be using eBay or craigslist. I also use this time to buy basic capri pants or shorts that I know I will need next year. It is much better to buy what you need at 75% off than wait until next year and pay much more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Waste Less Wednesday

I'm starting a new series today on how to use up things around your house in order to waste less. We all have little bits of ingredients left or an abundance of plastic bags and wonder what to do with them. This series will help us all come up with ideas on how to waste less. Being "green" is the in thing today, but many times being green is also being frugal. Let me know if there is topic you would like covered in this series and I will work my way through the list. I will post a new topic every Wednesday and look forward to hearing your ideas too.

Today's topic is pizza sauce. Do you ever find yourself with just a little pizza sauce left in the jar and not have a clue what to do with it? My favorite way to use up this leftover sauce is to make pizza pasta for one. I boil whatever pasta I have on hand and then add pizza toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, onions, etc. Top it off with the pizza sauce and I have a delicious and quick meal. Of course, you can use the whole jar and serve this as a quick dinner for your family.

Another way to use it up is mini pizzas. Spread the sauce on an english muffin, pita bread, tortilla, or whatever else you have on hand and top with your favorite meat and/or veggies. I like to then add a little cheese and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes. It makes for a yummy and quick lunch.

How do you use up your leftover pizza sauce?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Staples Update for Teachers

I was recently informed that if you are a teacher (home school included), the free glue at Staples this week is a limit of 25 instead of 2. So, teachers get out there and get free glue - if you won't use it, pass it on to another teacher or the art department.

Buckets of Fun

A few weeks ago, a relative of ours had a cookout on their farm for friends and family. It was close to 100 degrees and we were doing everything we could to stay cool. Our two year old was getting too hot from running around with the other kids so the relative brought out a five gallon bucket and filled it with water. We put our toddler in it and he had a blast. Nothing else mattered to him as he had his very own mini pool. He still remembers this as this same relative filled a bucket with potatoes from him farm and sent it home with it. Our toddler keeps trying to dump the potatoes out so he can play in a bucket again.

My point of this whole story is that we don't have to have the latest gadgets and gizmo's or the best toys out there to be happy. An old bucket provided hours of fun for our little guy and it didn't cost a thing. Look around today to see what fun you can provide for free.

Oh yeah, and if you decide to put a child in a bucket of water, please never leave them alone. It only takes a second for a child to drown and a bucket has more than enough water for this to happen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Attitude is Everything

When choosing to live a frugal lifestyle, attitude is everything. Some people are forced into this lifestyle and some simply prefer to live this way, but either way, attitude can make or break it. Personally, I see it as a challenge to live on less and enjoy looking for new ways to enjoy life without spending money. I challenge you today to see things on the positive side instead of being down about having less due to the economy or whatever. Yes, gas and groceries have gone up, but make it a challenge to see if you can spend less in those categories. Easy ways to start are to drive less (walk if possible) and to combine coupons with sales.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Giving Back: School Supplies

Just because you are living on less does not mean you cannot give back to others. This week there are some great deals on school supplies so please pick up a few and pass on to those who really need them. In the past few weeks I've been picking up things as I'm shopping and this morning I took a very full bag to church. The entire bag cost me less than $5. Here are just a few of the deals this week:

Office Depot:
Eraser caps - $.05 for 12 pack
Protractor - $.05
Glue Sticks - $.50 for 4
Crayola Markers - $.50 for 10

Elmer's Glue - FREE!!!
Paper Mate pencils - $.25 for 5
Filler paper - $.09

2 pocket folder - 8/$1
Memo books - 8/$1
Crayola crayons - $.99 for 24

Teachers appreciate school supplies too as many have to purchase all of the supplies for their class. If you know a teacher, drop by some supplies to help them out too. If anyone sees any great sales out there, feel free to comment and let others know about it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Homemade Bread

Homemade bread tastes better than store bought and is much healthier because there are less preservatives. I received a bread machine as a wedding gift and many told me I would never use it. I don't use it as much as I should, but I still make several loaves of bread and pizza dough in it each month. I stopped making as much bread when the price of groceries went up and yeast was expensive. Then, I discovered yeast at Sam's Club. It is a fraction of the price and will last a long time because it is a large package. In the day's ahead, I will share some of my favorite recipes for the bread machine but let me start with the easiest - Cola Bread. You can use any flavor of soda, and diet or regular. The bread will pick up the flavor of the soda. When using basic cola, it is similar to a light brown bread. As for the yeast amount, experiment to see what work best for your machine. Mine uses only 2 tsp yeast but larger machines or older yeast will need 2 1/2 tsp.

Cola Bread

1 1/8 cups cola
2 Tbsp butter
3 cups flour
2 - 2 1/2 tsp yeast


Place ingredients in machine in the order they are listed. Set on light to medium setting.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Grocery Game

One of the top ways I have learned to live on less money is This site will teach you how to stockpile groceries by buying them on sale and with a coupon. I knew of the site for years, but since there is a fee, I was skeptical. When my husband had his hours cut, I decided it was finally time to check it out. If you are interested, there is a four week trial for only $1. After that, the price is $10 every eight weeks for the first list and $5 every eight weeks for each additional list. I recently added the Walgreen's and CVS lists in my area and I've seen significant savings.

You can begin seeing savings the first week even you have not been collecting coupons. Some people will wait a few weeks and collect coupons before starting though. Either way works but if you are like me, it is easier to start while it is on your mind. For a family of three, I average $50 per week for groceries, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. I'm working on getting that down even more but considering the price of groceries these days, I think that is pretty good.

Once you become a member, you can receive the lists for free for 12 weeks if you have 3 friends sign up under you and they stay past the trial. I encourage everyone to sign up regardless of referrals, but if you do sign up, I would appreciate you using me as a referral. My referring email is light52b @ yahoo (dot) com.


Welcome to Living on Less. This blog is meant to show you how to live on less money but still enjoy life and give to others. I will share money saving tips, recipes, gift ideas, how to use your savings to help others, and much more. If there is a topic you would like covered, please let me know and I will do my best to post on it.

I'm sure you want to know a little about who is behind this blog. I'm a mom to a very active two year old boy and hopefully another bundle of joy will be arriving in the next year or so. I've been married to my husband for four years now. I've always been interested in a frugal lifestyle, but I took it to another level this past year as my husband has been working less than full time. As soon as we received word that his hours would be less, we started looking for more ways to live on less. Close to a year later, and thanks to God, family, and friends, we have only had to dip into savings twice. The tips you read on here on ways we save, without feeling deprived. Throughout this process, I have continued to work my part time job but feel it is my duty to be home a few days a week with our child. With a little work, you too can Live on Less.

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