a year of Wooden: week 15

Hi, everyone! Monday means it’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day.

This metaphorical shelter includes family, friends, good work, faith — but, since we will focus on these elements in other months, right now we are focusing on the financial interpretation.

Last week, the challenge was to keep track of where you spend your money — even small amounts. Not counting staple items like groceries and drugstore purchases, I tend to spend my discretionary money at Starbucks, bookstores, the movie theater, and going out to lunch at places like Panera.

This week, the challenge is to take just ONE of your weekly discretionary purchases and drop the money into your spare-change jar instead. For example, maybe I’ll swap one of my Starbucks chai lattes for a mug of home-brewed green tea on my own back porch. Or instead of meeting up with a friend for lunch at a restaurant, maybe we can meet up for something free like a walk outside in this beautiful weather.

Having a savings safety net is so important, and these little actions can really add up! I’m inspired by these words from Coach Wooden:

john wooden quote

Questions of the day:

  • Where do you tend to spend your discretionary money?
  • What small change are you going to make this week to drop a little extra money into your spare change jar?
  • Have you ever had the experience of not taking the time to do something right the first time, and having to go back and do it over?

a year of Wooden: week 14

Hi, friends! It’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

For this month of April, we’re going to be focusing on Coach Wooden’s creed to “build a shelter for a rainy day.” This metaphorical shelter includes family, friends, good work, faith — but, since we will focus on these elements in other months, right now we are focusing on the financial interpretation. In other words: save now to weave a safety net!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day.

Last week, the challenge was to create a “spare change jar.” Instead of pocketing spare change to spend somewhere else, drop it into the jar. This week I ended up with $3.49. I’m planning to continue this spare change jar throughout the year!

This week’s challenge is to keep track of where you spend your money — even small amounts, like that Starbucks pick-me-up or the impulse drugstore purchase. For the next three days {or the entire week, if you’d like} make note of every penny that leaves your pocket. We’ll work with the results in next week’s challenge!

coach wooden quote details

Questions of the day:

  • Have you ever kept a strict budget before?
  • What are the “little details” that have made a big difference in your life?

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: delicious recipes to re-use your leftovers

Today I’m linking up again with Tammy’s Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays!

kttovenmittbanner425

A couple weeks ago, I posted a tip about making the most of your oven time by cooking meat or veggies to use later in the week. {I often bake chicken to use in later dishes.}

This week, I’m sharing some recipes to use up leftovers. I really dislike wasting food, and re-using your leftovers in new recipes is a great way to save food and money!

  • Leftover mashed potatoes? Fry them up into potato pancakes.
  • Leftover oatmeal? Make these delicious, super-moist oatmeal cookies.
  • Leftover veggies? Add them to pasta or a casserole.
  • Leftover fish? Make baked fish cakes.
  • Leftover chicken? Add it to a leafy green salad, or mix in some mayo, mustard, raisins and almonds to make chicken salad.
  • Leftover quinoa or rice? Dump it in a pot of soup to make the meal heartier.
  • Leftover French or sourdough bread? Tear it up into chunks and bake cinnamon french toast.

This is another terrific post about creative ways to reuse leftovers: http://www.findananny.net/blog/27-blogs-sharing-creative-ways-to-reuse-your-leftovers/

Does anyone else repurpose leftover food into new dishes? I’d love to hear your recipes in the comments below!

saving money & time by utilizing my freezer

One of my goals for this year is to put at least 10% of each paycheck into my savings. I’ve always been a saver — I was the kid who saved up my Chuck E. Cheese ticket winnings visit after visit to eventually spend on the coveted 1,000-Ticket Big Prize — but in the grown-up world saving isn’t always that easy. As a grad student, there are months it seems downright impossible to put aside any of my small paycheck for savings. Yet I know how important it is to save for the future, and I know how fortunate I am to have a job — after all, even a small paycheck is better than no paycheck.

With that mindset — that even small savings deposits are better than no savings! — I am aiming to discover little ways to save money throughout my daily living. Since I hate wasting food, I’ve gotten in the habit of buying small amounts of produce every week — even produce I really like and eat often — because I don’t want anything to go bad and go to waste. Sometimes this caused me to lose out on good weekly deals because, though I knew I would use up a lot of that specific fruit or vegetable, I wasn’t sure if I would eat it quickly enough. This also lead to some situations where it felt like I was racing against the clock to eat up all of the peaches or blackberries or celery before it went bad and into the trash.

freezing produce

Then I came across this post from my blogging buddy Andrea at Simple Organized Living about how she cuts up and freezes her fruits and veggies {and lots of other goodies, too!} … and it really inspired me! It seems so obvious, but it had never occurred to me that I could freeze my fruits and veggies and use them later. It was like a light-bulb went on in my brain!

Serendipitously, this week at the grocery store, they were having a great sale on bell peppers, something I use often in my cooking. Normally I would have bought one, maybe two, and made sure to use them up in dishes this week. But now I knew exactly what to do to take full advantage of the sale: use my freezer!

I bought half a dozen bell peppers, used two in recipes this week just like I normally would have, and then took a few extra minutes to chop up the rest. Then all I had to do was put them into ziplock baggies and into the freezer!

bell peppers

I used one small bag per bell pepper, because typically my recipes use one bell pepper at a time. An extra bonus is that cooking with these frozen veggies will be easier than ever because the chopping is already done! Surprisingly, it seemed much faster to get in the zone and chop up four bell peppers in one go than it does chopping them up one at a time.

And I felt so proud putting these babies into the freezer. I pictured a harried, midterm version of my Future Self, hungry and desperate to get dinner on the table, and I thought, “This is my gift to you, Future Self.  You’re welcome!”

Do any of you use your freezer to stock up on produce? I’d love to hear your money-saving tips!