Basement Family Room E-Design

I’ll never forget the first time I walked down the basement stairs in our home.  There was a pair of mannequin legs leaning against the wall.  I saw them out of the corner of my eye and screamed bloody murder before my brain could actually register what was happening.  It was a good thing I didn’t know about the rats yet.

The basement was weird all over, including a ceiling covered in fluorescent lights. You’d need sunglasses to be in the room if they were all on at once.  The designers made that improbable by controlling the lights in sections with 3 switches installed 15 feet apart.  We’d prefer to be able to light the whole space with an appropriate amount of lights with one switch close to the entrance.

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The basement has been paneled twice.  The first time they used classic 1971 dark paneling which you can see to the right of the door.  They covered the dark paneling in 1992 with unfinished pine.  There is a toilet, sink, and shower in the basement….each in it’s own space spread out over the whole floor.  There’s not one bathroom with all three.  If you want to wash your hands after you pee, prepare to take a walk.  Even better, they designed the toilet area to look like an outhouse complete with shaker shingle roof and newspaper insulation.  We’ve already started taking that down. The shower is behind the brown door you see to the left.  Also back there is a bonafide sauna with bench seats and steam rocks.  So cool….until you realize that it’s probably the source of the mold.  To take care of the mold we had to rip up carpet and part of the pine paneling.   I didn’t know about non toxic solutions like Solumel or Thieves oil at the time, so used some harsh chemicals to do the clean up.  The basement was ugly before, but now it’s both ugly and torn up….  We’ve used carpet tiles to make the room partially liveable, but I have dreams for so much more.

Basement Family area_edited-1

Here’s my first stab at a concept for the room.  The kids love their pool/air hockey table that was left to them by my late Aunt after losing her battle with lung cancer.  I have plans to move it to an adjoining space to open up this section for seating.  I’d like to use this half of the room for movie nights, to host the church youth group, and for extra areas to expand into when we have our family over for holidays.

The other half of the room is a workout zone with free weights and some machines.  Darren wants a smooth bamboo floor down here for the girls to practice ballet and rubber flooring where he lifts weights.  It’s better for that if there isn’t an area rug (though I would normally include one to warm up the space.)

I love light, but there’s way too much light down there.  We’ll need to sheetrock the ceiling to be able to remove all the fluorescent lights.  In the process we’ll add some recessed lighting.  That should make the ceiling feel about a foot taller.

Basement family room before and after

Hopefully there will be some useable wood left from the ceiling to fix damaged areas in the rest of the room.  Then we’ll paint the paneling white.  It’s not only a big money saver but I love the texture of painted paneling.  We already own the Tullsta white chair and have some stumps hanging around to be a side table.  The sofa is Ikea’s Stocksund. Foam filled denim beanbags from uglysofa.com extend the seating for kids, but are easily stacked up in the corner when it’s time to dance.  The wreaths are DIY Magnolia wreaths, but I’m not sold on the wall decor just yet.  After painting the built in shelves white, we’d like to use them to store DVDs and family games.

What do you think?  What would you would change?

Stumped on your room? Use the coupon code groceryshrink for $50 off a custom room design, good through February 15th.

Debbie’s Basement

For awhile I’ve been doing room concepts in powerpoint.  I had taken a class on using Photoshop to do the same thing only better, except I couldn’t justify spending the money on the program.  THEN Costco had photoshop on sale for $40.  I could do that.  Doing rooms in Photoshop makes me deliriously happy.  I can change angles, isolate objects, change their colors….anything I want, almost.

Debbie is a friend of mine from the Cozy Minimalist Class and a reader here.  She graciously agreed to let me play with her basement design.  She is expecting their 4th baby and in the process of getting the rest of the house ready, her basement ended up the catchall space.  Most people have a room just like this and over time it can feel hopeless to be anything but storage.

Here’s the floor plan so you can imagine the nice large space.  It’s not finished on 3 sides and there isn’t money right now for permanent finishing.  She needed ideas for affordable things she could do to make the space feel like a useable part of their home.
floor plan

We are going on faith that sharing the before and after pictures is safe here.  That GS readers are the kindest sort and I know you won’t judge.  Most of us can relate to a catch all space.

Debbie's basement bookcase area before

This is the bay area of the room and holds her book storage.  She also likes tucking her exercise equipment in this area and used it a lot when it was accessible.  Here it has a nice view of the television and is out of the way so the kids don’t trip on it.

Office View_edited-1

I wanted her to see what it might look like if she moved her shared office space to that part of the room.  It made sense to be able to put the printer and papers on the bookcases. She loved the look, but it didn’t really work to have the exercise equipment out in the main part of the room.

In the concept the room is finished by spraying painting the ceiling white.  It helps the exposed wires and pipes etc to blend together and brightens the space.  The bare concrete floors are painted with concrete enamel paint in two tones for texture. And I recommended building the bookcases up to reach the ceiling for more storage, allowing her to get rid of the extra book case to the let and open up the room even more.

Here’s the before and after close together:

Debbie's Basement book area before and after

Debbie's basement long wall before

Since she needed me to move the office back to the long wall opposite the toy/craft area, I borrowed a custom shared desk idea from Young House Love and convinced John and Sherry to pose as Debbie and her husband hard at work.

Debbie's basement new office_edited-1

Each spouse has their own pegboard organizer to keep their tools close at hand.  Debbie’s could double as her craft area now if she wanted it too, but I had another craft area in mind just in case.  The mirror in the center helps to increase the light in the dark basement area. The piano is a family heirloom but also used by several members of the family.  I wasn’t sure how they would feel about painting it to feel more part of the room.  I gave them a couple of concepts just in case:

white piano Debbie's basement new office_edited-1

White

Painted piano Debbie's basement new office_edited-1

Or Powder Blue.  The burlap board above the piano can hold their scripture memory verse for the week, or whatever they like.

debbie's basement tv view before 2

Debbie's basement blue walls_edited-1

This view shows what it might look like with the exercise equipment out on the long wall.  Ikea shelves with wicker baskets hold smaller equipment while a large mirror above bounces light and allows them to check form.  I kept her old dresser for the media cabinet but gave it a fresh coat of white paint and replaced the top drawers with wicker baskets.  The unfinished walls are draped with $5 Wal-mart flat twin sheets threaded over electrical conduit pipe hung from the ceiling. (Electrical conduit pipe sells for $2 for 10 feet at the hardware store and is easily cut to length with a hacksaw or bent around angles by stepping on it a pulling.)

My favorite part is that little craft armoire in the corner. Everything stores inside, even the table itself.  Read about how to make it here.

Debbie's basement TV view before and after

This next side of the room is the family/play room.  She needs floor space for aerobics, storage for toys and seating for the family to watch a movie together.  This is also where she likes to work on crafts while the children play nearby.

debbie's basement toy area before

I covered her walls with the same conduit pipe/flat sheet treatment, but the short windows felt dreary and blocked our ability to drape the walls beneath them.  I solved the problem by adding mirrors below the windows.  They make the windows look longer, bounce extra light around the room and can double as dry erase boards for the kids while they play.  I used Ikea placemats above the windows to look like bamboo shades for a fraction of the price.

Debbie's basement Toy area_edited-1

Here you can see the craft armoire folded up and tucked out of the way.  Beanbags for the kids from Uglysofa.com have covers from a store that rhymes with Lottery Sharn but are filled with shredded foam for a lifetime of fluffy fun.  (Typical styrofoam pellets will flatten and disappear in just a few months of use and aren’t worth the money.)  Uglysofa has 20% off coupons on their facebook page and mailing list around holidays.

An Ektorp loveseat with washable slipcover gives seating for adults and a painted stump table holds a cozy tea pot in the corner. The kitchen set is made from free plans at ana-white.com.  Trofast pine benches with toy storage give tons of organization for the children. I’ve tried lots of other toy solutions including Closetmaid cubbies and cloth bins from Target.  They were too big and comberson for the children to manage.  My FAVORITE way to organize toys is with the frosted Trofast in the smallest size (unless our collection of that item is to big) and Chalkboard tape on the fronts to label the contents.  I like that they can be trained to pull out one bin and take it to their play area, then put it back before getting a different bin.

Debbie's Basement toy area before and after

This type of design is so much fun for me, that I’m taking a risk and putting myself out for hire.  Do you have a room that is completely overwhelming you? I can do a photoshop redesign for you with a shopping list and action plan and put all sorts of money saving ideas in it.  This kind of thing takes hours and hours of work for me, so it’s regularly priced at $150.  BUT until the 15th you can use the coupon code groceryshrink to get you $50 off.  I only have a few listings available at this discount. Be sure to read the listing for all the details before you order.

 

Dirty Don’s Haul and Adrenal Fatigue

I made a little venture over to Dirty Don’s today.  If you’re new here, that’s a salvage grocery store in my area.  There are salvage groceries in almost every large city where they get freight from semi’s and trains that didn’t make their destination on time. The stores can buy the merchandise for pennies on the dollar and then re-sell it at a discount to their customers. It might be perfect or dented or repackaged in some way. Dirty Don’s is like that, but the trashiest of all the stores in my area.  For that reason it has the best potential bargains, but I have to check the expiration dates closely.  They don’t have any qualms about selling stuff 4 years (or more) past expiration.

I spent just under $30 and this is what I got:

Dirty Dons 2-8-16

Multigrain Cheerios: $1 a box (2)

100% whole wheat tortillas: $.75 a bag (4)

Long Grain Brown Rice: 2 lbs for $1 (4)

Chicken Hot Dogs: 3 lbs for $1

Cutie Clementines: 3 lbs for $2 (2)

Strawberries: 1 lb for $.50 (4) (I know you’re wondering, I did throw away 1 berry per box but the rest were good)

Mandarin oranges: 3 cans for $1 (6)

Tomato Puree: #10 can $2

Marinara Sauce: #10 can $2

Tropical Fruit Salad: #10 Can $3.25

Blueberry white tea: $1.50 box

They had a lot of other deals, but I was pretty selective about what I bought and purchased fairly small quantities this time.  It’s becoming harder for me to feed my family on our budget and I wanted to make sure that I had money left for fresh stuff the rest of the month.

Insert Squealing tires as we change subject.

I’ve been blogging a bit over at my other site, Centsablyfit.com, about my experience with Adrenal Fatigue.  It’s not really a topic that I felt comfortable featuring on this blog.  I needed to get my thoughts organized about it so I could go back and remind myself how far I’ve come and what is working.  If it’s a topic you are interested in, here are  my last 4 posts:my journey with adrenal fatigue finding professional help for adrenal fatigue Natural Help for Adrenal Fatigue

Symptoms and Testing for Adrenal Fatigue

I have a little bit more to say on the topic so if this is important to you, subscribe over there so you won’t miss anything.  I also post my favorite fitness recipes there as a resource when meal planning for myself.

Frugal Friday #8, Special Edition

If you’re new here:  On Fridays I share a few frugal things I did during the week.  Then in the comments you to share a frugal thing or two you did during the week.  If you are a blogger feel free to link to your Frugal Friday post in the comments and we’ll come check it out.

Happy Friday! In this edition of Frugal Friday, I’m going to list the hacks we did in the boy’s bedroom to save money and how much they saved.  If I already have the tutorial on the blog, I’ll link to it.

Woven burlap headboard1. DIY Headboards: $15 each (original $149.95 each)  Savings: $275

Boy's Frame

2. DIY Picture Frame: $12 (purchased around $150) Savings $138

Shared boy room after 23. DIY Trofast Toy Organzier: Ikea doesn’t sell this size or color but if they did it would be around $50.  It cost me around $30 to make and not much more time than assembling one from the box. Savings $40 I used this tutorial and adjusted it for our size preference.  This is the FIRST wood thing I made without help and I’m a little proud of myself.

4. DIY Sawhorse Desk: This cost around $44 to make.  I can have one made here for $250.  Savings $206 I used this tutorial but replaced the top with a slab hollow core door.

Shared boy room after 3

5.  Electrical Conduit Curtain Rods and Ikea BETYDLIG Brackets.   The large window used a 10 foot conduit pipe for $1.99 and the two smaller windows used 5 foot pieces for $1.65.  All together the widow hardware was $15.65 for the 3 windows.  Traditional hardware would have been $40 a window.  Savings $104.35

6. Burlap ribbon valances: I wanted bamboo window shades for looks only.  Bamboo shades are see-through at night so we use roller shades for privacy.  I like the warmth and texture of bamboo shades and wanted something to hide the top of our roller shades and the gap between the top of the window and the ceiling.  The large window shade would be around $70 and the two smaller ones $30 each.  Instead I thumbtacked up 2 layers of burlap decorator mesh ribbon for $20.   Savings of $110  Click here to find out why I hang my curtains so high.

Black Nightstands Shared boy room

7. Restored Night Stands: I found this pair of nightstands on craigslist for $30 (for the pair.) They had been abused with spray stone textured paint and tiles that were improperly installed then ripped off.  I sanded off the texture and gave them a fresh coat of paint, pried off the old tops and made new stained wooden tops for them, and replaced the hardware with handles leftover from our kitchen contractor packs.  I spent an extra $15 in wood and supplies, so $45 total for the pair.  New nightstands like these are $125 each. Savings: $205

Ikea vs Target Duvet Covers

8. Switched from Ikea Duvet Covers to Target Clearance covers:  Target’s were $18 each, Ikea’s were $50.   Savings $64

9.  Spray painted black lamps green.  Old Time Pottery had nicely shaped lamps with the right kind of shade for $30, but they only came in black.  The inspiration lamps from Amazon were $107.09 for the pair.  Savings $42

10.  Bought the sofa on Craigslist instead of Ikea: Ikea’s prices are great, but if I can save a bit more I’m on it.  A motivated seller had his Ektorp Loveseat on CL for $30 because the cover was ripped and it had cat hair on it.  New they are $375.  I bought a new cover for $39 and that problem was solved.  Savings $306

The other big savings were: keeping their original beds and flooring; removing the popcorn ceiling ourselves; and painting ourselves.  Savings $3,000.  Without counting those, we saved $1,490.35 on the furnishings. Not bad for a little bit of elbow grease.

It’s your turn. Inspire us with some of your frugal activities this week.

Top 15 Economic Survival Foods

 

Top 15 Economic Survival Foods

Yesterday I asked you to think about how you would spend $100 if that was all you had to feed your family for the month.  I’ve never lived on such a small budget for our family.  Even when we were getting out of debt and had 3 small children (instead of 6 big ones) our budget was $185.   That’s as low as I’ve ever gone.  There are a bunch of great ideas in the comments and several people even mentioned giving it a try for a month.  Report back if you do, but understand I’m not asking or even suggesting someone try it.  It’s just a mental exercise.

Here’s a list of the highest nutrition lowest cost foods I know.  Some of them have been smeared online as unhealthy foods (ahem…..whole wheat, cough cough….potatoes), but since the dawn of creation they have sustained healthy human life.  If God made it and called it good for food, it’s good enough for me. None of these links are affiliate links.  Links are for proof of price.  There may be lower cost options available locally. Unlinked foods are from Aldi.

1. Whole Wheat Berries:  $15.48 for 25 lbs;  274 servings at $.05 each.  I would grind them fresh for pancakes, whole wheat bread, English muffins, tortillas, pitas, cracked forhot breakfast cereal, sprout it for salads etc. It would be our main diet staple.

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2.  Long Grain Brown Rice: 5 lbs for $3.38; 50 servings at $.07 each.  I would use it to make rice, pilaf, soup, pudding, hot breakfast cereal, and yes–sprouts.

brown rice package

3. Dry Pinto Beans: 4 lbs for $3.82; 52 servings at $.07 each. I would use these in soup, casseroles, with rice, veggie burgers, ground as flour to add protein to bread, and grow sprouts etc.

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  1. Rolled Oats (Aldi): 42 oz for $2.39; 30 servings $.08 each.  I would make hot breakfast cereal; add it to bread, muffins, pancakes etc.

Aldi Rolled Oats

 

  1.  Popping Corn: 2 lb for $1.98; 27 servings at $.07 each. I would pop this for snacks and grind it for cornbread and hot cereal mush.

popping corn

6. Celery: 1 stalk for $1; 16 servings for $.06 each. Soups, salads; with peanut butter. The beauty of this food is you can regrow it from the base.

7. Potatoes: 10 lbs for $2.99; 20 servings for $.15 each; baked potatoes, soups, home fries; mashed potatoes, bread.

8. Carrots: 2 lbs for $1; 8 servings for $.12 each; salads; soups; muffins, pancakes;

9. Eggs: $1.59 a dozen; 8 servings for $.20 each

aldi eggs

10. Milk: $2.15 a gallon; 16 servings for $.13 each.  I would use it in pancakes; hot cereal; biscuits; and yogurt making

Aldi Milk

11. Peanut Butter: 40 oz for $2.99; 35 servings for $.09 each.  Sandwiches, muffins, and as a dip for veggies and fruit

Aldi Peanut Butter

12.  Apples: 3 lbs for $2.69; 9 servings for $.29 each

13. Bananas: 4 lb for $1.16; 16 servings for $.07 each

14. Onions: 3 lb for $1.99; 12 servings for $.16;  add to soups and casseroles to add flavor and nutrition

15. Whole Chickens: 5 lbs for $4.75; 16 servings for $.29 each.  I would boil chicken for bone broth soup and remove the meat to combine with beans, rice, etc…and make it stretch.

aldi whole chickens

Everything on this list totals $49.36 and has 589 servings averaging $.08 each.  (Keep in mind it takes several servings of different foods to make a balanced meal.)  I still have half my budget left to do this again or find a little more variety to add to the mix.  While I was shopping and doing the research for this post, they had chicken legs on sale for $.49 a lb; oranges 4 lb for $3; broccoli for $1 a lb and avocados for $.39 each.

In March, I could add nutrition by gathering wild edibles like lamb’s quarter, clover blossom and leaves; violets; wild chives; and dandelion.  Hunting for more protein options is another possibility. There are also 30+ harvester drop off locations in driving distance from my house where we could get free food several times a week.  Area grocery stores donate product to them for a tax deduction when they get close to their sale date. Most of these drop offs do not ask for registration or proof of income, but do require some wait time to stand in line.

When I made my purchases I would also think about what could regrow into food for the future.  For example, celery and green onions can be regrown from the base. Potatoes can be cut into pieces and planted in the spring.  Right now is the time to start seeds from peppers, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.  You can grow them from seeds found inside your purchased food. Here’s more info on growing a garden from grocery store food and here.

What do you think? Did any of the cost per servings surprise you?

 

 

 

If you only had $100

I’m guesting posting over at Don’t Waste the Crumbs Today on 5 Fail Proof Ways to Reduce Grocery Spending.  I’d be honored if you’d come visit with me and check it out.

What if you only had $100Think carefully about this question and put your answer in the comments below.  What would you buy to feed your family if you only had $100 for the entire month?  Let’s say you have a decent pantry of staples like yeast, salt, spices, and oil, so you just needed to buy food things.  I want to know what you would you get and what would you would cook with it to keep your family alive and healthy.

I think about this some times when I hear that my donation of $20 can feed a family in Africa for a week.  What are they eating?  Is it balanced?  Would I be too proud to live on it?  When my husband suddenly lost his job 8 years ago, we faced a time like this.  I told Darren that with $200 I could run the whole household for the month, not just food.  It was a fun challenge and one I was equally happy to have end.  Not until I had to do something drastic did I see what I was really capable of.

Let’s pretend it’s drastic.  What would you do?

 

 

How to Shrink Spending with a Grocery Ad

how to shrink spending with a grocery ad

Every week on Tuesday or Wednesday I get a mail bundle of the grocery ads from my local stores. They come to everyone for free and if somehow we get missed we can go to the store website and sign up for them.

When the ads come, I take 5 minutes to look through them and write down on my shopping list the store name and the awesome deals I want to buy there. I spend the most time on the front and back pages of the ads, because these are where the loss leaders are posted. Loss leaders are items sold below profit level in hopes to lure people in the store and spend a bunch of money on profitable items.  If they have a limit beside the price, you can be sure it’s a loss leader.  When I shop for those items, I usually only buy those items, but I also look  in the meat and dairy sections for manager specials.  These are items that are close to their sale by date and need to be frozen or used up right away.  I have purchased meat for $.50 a pound this way to store in my pantry freezer.

When I’m looking for good sales, I keep in the back of my mind the regular prices of these items at Aldi.  If I can’t remember, I make my Aldi run on the way to the conventional grocery store and double check the price.

Some weeks the ads aren’t worth getting out for and we just eat from our pantry.

Random Stuff:

  1.  The grocery stores are paid by the brands to feature their products in the ad. The most prominent the item, the more they paid.
  2. Brand names also pay the store for prime shelf locations (eye level stuff) which makes those items cost more.  Look high and low on the shelves for the best values.
  3. Each store pays around $40,000 per week to put their ad in your home.  If it didn’t increase their profits, they wouldn’t do it.
  4. Brand name items often have a coupon available to match with the sale price. Sometimes this makes the item cost less than the private label, sometimes not.  Always do the math.  (I rarely mess with coupons.)
  5. Most families buy a lot more than the sale items, keeping the grocery stores profitable. I’m one of the few exceptions.
  6. The majority of my shopping list is the DEALS I can get, not a list based on recipes I’m planning for the week.  Then I plan meals from the low cost foods I have to work with,  sometimes grabbing a special item or fresh produce to bring it all together.

What do you think?  Is this the way you’ve been doing it all along?

How the Pantry Method Saved Me Thousands

how the pantry method saved me thousandsThe average family of 8 spends between $1200-$1600 a month on food.  We spend $620 ($550 for groceries, $40 for eating out and $30 for lunch allowance for my husband.) A difference of $580-$980 a month.  That means over a year we are saving $6,960-$11,760.  We have been living this way for more than 10 years for a cumulative savings of $69,600-$117,600.  Around here, that’s enough to pay cash for a modest house.

The pantry method allows us to spend less.  I buy food at the lowest prices possible and enough that I don’t have to buy that item again until it’s at the lowest price again.  Then…listen up this is KEY…I meal plan based on what I already have on hand.  I’m using that sale stuff up, not hoarding it.  I’m only buying the stuff we eat, not crazy stuff or junk food just because it’s on sale. (Though sometimes we’ll grab a rare treat when the price drops.)

I do have a meal plan service complete with shopping list.  The services is usable with the pantry method also because I base all the recipes off the healthy low cost foods in most American Pantries.  The cool thing is if you buy ingredients for a recipe and end up not cooking it, you’ll use them next week in something else.  Nothing is wasted.

Sometimes there are weeks when I don’t buy anything.  Either because the sales weren’t worth it or we were just to busy to go out.  That’s when I’m especially thankful for a well-stocked pantry to cook from.

I love to shop at Aldi, because I know their house brand prices will beat most sale prices at the regular store. Since I shop Aldi frequently I have a lot of their prices memorized. Then on the rare occasion the conventional store advertises a lower one I recognize it and can stock up.

I’ll also occasionally shop at salvage food stores like Dirty Don’s or Cargo Largo.  Those are local non-chain stores, but I’ve found every urban area has something similar.  Do a yellow page internet search for salvage grocery stores in your area.  It’s really important to know prices when you go into these places.  Some of them will be good deals but a lot of it will be retail or higher.

Tomorrow I’ll show you how I find the deals I’m going to take advantage of for the week.

How to Shrink Your Bills and GROW Your Pantry at the same time

how to shrink your bills and grow your pantry at the same time

I’m so excited about today’s post!  It covers the theme of this whole blog AND is
the concept that makes living with a smaller grocery budget possible.  I only recommend drastically reducing a grocery budget in an emergency, like we did when Darren suddenly lost his job.  Otherwise it’s so much better to do it gradually.  Like weight loss, when you reduce the grocery budget gradually, you are more likely to be successful and actually keep the spending down.

  1.  The first month, keep your spending the same. Spend 80% on food to eat now and 20% to stock up your pantry with the rock bottom sales you find.
  2. The next month reduce your budget by 20%.  Spend 80% of the new budget on food to eat now and 20% to stock your pantry.
  3. Continue the process reducing your budget by 20% each month and following the 80/20 rule until you have reduced the budget to as low as you need it to go.  From here on the 80% of your spending will be to re-stock the pantry with awesome deals.  You will eat primarily out of the pantry and use 20% of your budget for fresh stuff like produce and dairy products.  Keep in mind the 80/20 percentages are flexible approximations.

Price Chopper Haul

Here’s a real life example with numbers.  Joselle has 3 children and they currently spend $1200 a month on groceries.  They have trouble coming up with money when something extra like a birthday party or school fundraiser pops up.  If she could reduce her budget to $500 a month it would change their WORLD but even a little reduction would help.  Her first goal is to beef up their emergency fund.

Month 1 she budgets $1200.  She spends $960 on food to eat now and $240 on food for the pantry, stocking up on the items she notices to be particularly good deals.

Month 2 she budgets $960, spending $768 on food to eat now and $192 on really good deals for the pantry. She saves the extra $240 to beef up their emergency fund.

Month 3 she budgets $768.  She spends $615 on food to eat now and $153 on really good deals for the pantry.  She saves the extra $432 to beef up their emergency fund.

Month 4 she budgets $615. She spends $500 on food to eat now and $115 on really good deals for the pantry.  She saves the extra $585 to beef up their emergency fund.

Month 5 she budgets $500 (Goal!)  She spends $100 on food to eat now and $400 on really good deals for the pantry.  She saves the extra $700 to beef up her emergency fund. She plans her meals based on the food she has in her pantry and restocks when she finds the right deal.

In 5 months Joselle has built up a nice pantry for her family, plus added $1,957 to their emergency fund.  She now has an extra $700 a month that she can plan into her budget where it’s needed most.

What do you think?  Would this method work for you?

Frugal Friday #6

If you’re new here:  On Fridays I share a few frugal things I did during the week.  Then in the comments you to share a frugal thing or two you did during the week.  If you are a blogger feel free to link to your Frugal Friday post in the comments and we’ll come check it out.

  1.  Remember that office plan for Darren?  To make that work for him I need to buy a leather chair ($1,500), an oak executive desk ($900), an 8×10 rug ($700), 2 locking lateral filing cabinets ($600), a 42 by 36 picture frame with glass ($65), and a royal blue velvet moroccan pouf ($200), for a grand total of $3,965. There are a few other expenses too (like wood for the build in bookcases, flooring and the optional tv and tv cabinet.)

Darren's office before fireplace view leather chair

Darren's office blue desk

I’m not in a hurry to start this project since I have a few other rooms I’m working on.  On the other hand, Darren really needs a space to be organized in.  So I started looking around the web on craigslist for affordable options.  You’ll never guess what I found?!!!!

There was an office having a business closing auction.  I got those locking filing cabinets for $16 each or $32 instead of $600.  All they need is a new coat of spray paint (since they are putty colored now, and I have my heart set on white.)

The executive desk was $60 instead of $900.  It just needs a coat of blue with black glaze in the details.

The giant picture frame for the dry erase board was only $6.

Then Craigslist had a leather chair for a mere $50.  It just needs a coat of leather stain to nudge it a little more golden brown instead of reddish brown (for $6.)

leather chair

The area rug was on sale 80% off for $156!

I found a sewing pattern for the moroccan pouf on Better Homes and Gardens.  I haven’t settled on fabric for it yet, but my mom is looking in her stash for something that might work and I have old towels and batting on hand to fill it.

My grand total:  $304 for a savings of $3,361

It’s your turn. Inspire us with some of your frugal activities this week.