Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Follow-Up...

Hooray for Fridays, yes?!

I enjoy Fridays. More so now that I am looking back on the week to review how I did with my 'NSM'. This week was our mid-month payday. We took care of our regular bills, put gas in the cars and then paid one bill off and paid extra money on another bill. We had to buy some refrigerator items that we had planned for like 5 dozen eggs...yes, my family eats alot of eggs. About 10-12 dozen in one month. That is one of the reasons we are looking into getting some chickens. But that is another post.

I am feeling really good about our accomplishments this month. It hasn't been an easy thing to do for me...not spending money. Or not spending very much money. We did have to spend a little as you can recall from previous posts. Still, thus far we have spent around $60 total for the month. That is awesome! Especially when we typically would spend around $1200 in a month on groceries, unnecessary shopping and eating out. Boy have we done great!

I hope I don't sound boastful. That is not my intention. I am trying to show all of you who are reading this blog that it is possible. Even if you do a modified version of a 'NSM' you can improve you financial situation. I have heard from many people saying that they are doing their own version of the 'NSM'. I think that is AWESOME! Some are not eating out for the month. Others are reducing their eating out from 5+ times a week down to 1-2 times a week. Imagine the savings those people will see!

As much as I would like to do a 'NSM' in February it just isn't possible. I will need to do a bit of restocking of my pantry. Still, my goal for February is to be very wise with my usual grocery budget and see if I can buy enough food to carry us in March. That will definitely be a challenge, but if you hadn't noticed, I love a challenge. I am already making up my grocery list and menu for February and March so I can be prepared. It just isn't possible to do a 'NSM' if you aren't prepared.

Have a peaceful weekend,

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I love biscuits. Biscuits are great in the morning with some yummy sausage gravy on them. In the afternoon for a snack with preserves. Or with you favorite soup or stew for dinner. Biscuits are even great all by themselves. Another thing great about biscuits, they are cheap and easy to make. When you are doing a 'NSM' biscuits act as a great filler when your main meal may be a bit lean. Here is my favorite biscuit recipe...courtesy of Hillbilly Housewife ...

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (3 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk or buttermilk or yogurt

First get out your big bowl. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Drop in the shortening and use your fingers to casually mix it in with the dry ingredients. Don't get too serious about it because it is better to under mix at this point than over mix. There should still be a few lumps of shortening, the size of peas, or even a little bigger. Two minutes or less of mixing should do it. Next add the milk. Stir it up into a soft dough. On dry days you may need another spoonful or two of milk. Form the dough into a soft ball. Get a piece of waxed paper and lay it on your counter. Sprinkle the waxed paper with a little bit of flour. Place the dough ball on the flour and knead it exactly 10 times. No more, no less. This activates the gluten in the flour just enough, but not too much. Next flatten out the dough with a rolling pin or your hands so it is about 3/4" thick. Cut into biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a clean cup or can. I use a tomato paste can for small biscuits and a tuna can for large biscuits. Works really well. Lay the biscuits onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan and bake them at 425° for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on their size. Makes about a dozen medium sized biscuits. You can brush them with melted margarine when you take them from the oven if you want them to look pretty when they arrive at the table.
Cheese Biscuits: These are made simply by adding a cup of cheese to the flour after you mix in the shortening, right before adding the milk. Cut into smallish biscuits and cook as directed. They are really good with spaghetti or lasagna.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Motivational Monday...

Lessons we continue our FIRST 'No Spend Month' I am learning so many things about myself and my family. I am learning what I didn't plan well for and I'm learning how to be a gracious receiver. This has really been a great experience for me and my family.

My husband and I had many conversations with our kids prior to beginning the 'NSM'. We wanted to keep them informed so they could help us be successful. Eating out is one of our greatest weaknesses, next to Walt Disney World. We love to eat out and we do it often...2-3 times a week. I spoke about that in my first post. Just not eating out would save us $300-$400 a month. So, our kids had to be involved with this. We asked them to not ask us to 'grab McDonald's' or 'order Chinese' for dinner. Up until today the question was not asked. The kids have been great and I am so proud of them. Then this morning our oldest son asked if he and his 2 sisters (9yo and 15yo) could buy the 'family' dinner at McDonald's, as a mid-month celebration for doing so good in our first 'NSM'. I hadn't expected to hear that question and didn't know how to respond to it. The kids were not technically doing the 'NSM' because their money is their own. None of it goes to bills. They were just asked to not ask for anything this month. In not knowing how to respond I asked my Sonlight friends what they thought I should do, they always have wise answers.

My friend Angi gave me this response...

I'd say yes to this request for these reasons:

1) They asked well. Politely, with the Family Plan understood and in mind.
2) They are using their own money, not used for bill paying purposes anyway.
3) They had to cooperate and be resourceful to accomplish their end goal.
4) Children have smaller incremental places of celebration. It's we adults who are capable of going longer and longer distances of self-denial.
5) It's a beautiful thing.

What a wise and well thought response from Angi. I also had many other responses that were great from my Sonlight friends. Angi and the others helped me to see all the positives that could come from allowing our older children to 'treat' the family to McDonald's. Thanks all!

What else have I learned...

1. You begin to lose the fast food craving by day 7 or 8.
2. You need way more flour than what you might think when you are baking your own bread daily.
3. Being flexible with changing a meal on your menu is okay. ( I tend to be very ridged about these types of things.)
4. Not leaving the house saves you money!!

Those are just a few new things I've learned since beginning our 'NSM'. I am certain I will learn more throughout the remainder of the month.

I want to encourage anyone considering doing a 'NSM' either in its entirety or a modified version to really sit down and do your best to account for any expense that may arise. And if something does come up that you didn't account for, show yourself some grace. It isn't the end of the world if you end up spending a little. Learn from it and then press on. Don't give up thinking you've failed because you haven't. You have done great and if you decide to do another 'NSM' you will do even better.

Best wishes, now think twice before you spend...