Category: Frugality

Apple Time

Apple Time

Now that Fall is upon us, it’s apple time; apple harvesting time, that is!

apples, apple, apple peeler, apple corer, apple slicer, apple time

One reason we wanted to start homesteading was to spend more time together. Recently, we spent an entire Saturday picking apples from our trees and processing them. It was actually harder work than we thought it would be! Well… for Saira anyway.

Moving to this sort of lifestyle is quite an adjustment; you actually have to work for what you want. Well, work in a different sort of way.  It may seem “easier” to drive to the store, buy some apples, applesauce, dried apple slices, etc. But when you purchase everything you want or need, you are trading your time for money and money for those things.  By doing as much for ourselves as we can, we are still trading time, but not just for money. We are spending that time together, making the things we want, together, rather than spending the majority of our time apart, at work. And isn’t your time more valuable than money?

OK – rant over! Back to the topic at hand – Apples!

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Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables with a Food Dehydrator

Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables with a Food Dehydrator

Dehydrating, Fruits, vegetables, food, dehydrator, dehydrating, drying, preserving.Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables with a Food Dehydrator, dehydrator, food preservation, preserving food, prepping, canning, jarring

Dehydrating is a great way to preserve food for long-term storage. When properly dried and stored, fruits and vegetables can last up to a year or more. One should ideally use the freshest produce available. Overly ripened fruits and vegetables tend to not be as crisp as fresh produce. Here, we will discuss dehydrating fruits and vegetables with a food dehydrator.

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What is Homesteading?

What is Homesteading?

homesteading, homesteader, homestead, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, DIY
The term “homestead” comes from the American Homestead Act of 1862. This act was the federal government’s way of encouraging families of that time towards the western expansion of the United States; it offered them land if they were willing to live on and develop it. But what is homesteading?

Today, there are various definitions for what the word homesteading means; most of them boil down to self-sufficiency and living deliberately. However, homesteading seems to mean different things to different people,  so, here, we’ll attempt to describe what homesteading means to us.

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Meal Planning Saves Money

Meal Planning Saves Money

Buying food is expensive. Funny (in a sad kind of way) to think how the simple act of feeding yourself can cost so much. This is especially true if you are buying fast or “convenient” food most of the time. We have found a way to drastically lower our monthly food expenses through the somewhat simple process of meal planning. However, a lot like budgeting, it requires diligence and persistence to maintain. Speaking of budgeting, click here to see our blog about the importance of budgeting.

Meal planning is not only a great way to save money; it’s also a great way to eat better. Meal planning saves time and energy throughout the week. It allows you to not have to think about what you are going to eat each night of the week. We began meal planning many years ago to save time and money; we were less likely to eat out since we already had something ready for us at home.

The basic idea of meal planning is simple; come up with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the following week. When we first did our “freezer meals” we basically made a bunch of dinners and breakfast items that would last 2-4 weeks. We would put the different meals into Ziploc baggies or similar sized containers, only full enough to feed us for one night, possibly with leftovers for lunch. We would take the container out of the freezer the day before wanting to eat it, and when we got home, we simply heated it up on the stove. No more microwave dinners for us!

Although we are working on doing monthly meal planning, we are currently planning our meals out on a weekly basis. Generally, we do smoothies for breakfast, which is great because you can blend up several smoothies and freeze them; then move them from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to consume them. For lunches we usually make something that will last the entire week, like a taco salad or wrap, and keep them in the fridge all week. For dinner we generally make two to three different meals and freeze them in separate containers, one container for each two-person serving. It really is that simple.

In future posts we will discuss, in detail, our meal plans. If you have some ideas for meal planning, we’d love to hear from you! Please comment below or contact us!

The Importance of Budgeting (and sticking to it)

The Importance of Budgeting (and sticking to it)

We Used to Waste Too Much Money

Most days we would buy fast food (or other convenient foods) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; we generally just spent too much money on stuff we did not really need. In other words, we didn’t spend much time thinking about the importance of budgeting (and sticking to it).

Although we have never really lived “above” our means, we have definitely spent too much time living “at” our means. When we finally realized that the life we were living wasn’t sustainable, the first thing we did was start creating a budget. By budgeting we were able to do things like pay for our wedding, purchase our first home, create a nest egg, and no longer live paycheck to paycheck. Although we have been good about budgeting for the better part of our adult lives, it is definitely something you have to constantly strive to do and get better at; it takes a conscious effort to stay on top of it.

We Started a System that Worked for Us

When we decided to get married, we immediately started budgeting. We got married fairly young (19 & 21), so we didn’t have a thorough grasp on the ways of budgeting; nor did we have much familiarity with bank/savings accounts. Most of the money we had was always in cash form. So we started a very basic envelope system while budgeting for our wedding. It was a simple system; we wrote on each envelope what bill or fund that money was to be used for. We had envelopes for each of our utility bills; an envelope for our grocery money, an envelope for our wedding fund, an envelope for savings; basically, we had an envelope for every bill or obligation in our lives.

This system worked well for us for a long time. We saved enough money to pay for our ceremony and reception and all the other bills that come along with planning a wedding, as well as a 2-week honeymoon. Granted, we tried to keep our wedding as low-budget as possible, but it was still an elegant affair, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

The envelope system had worked well for us, but we slowly fell out of it; actually, we sort of fell out of budgeting altogether. Slowly, we reverted to the familiar, frivolous lifestyle that we had led before we got married. We leased a car we couldn’t afford, lived in a downtown city apartment that was overpriced and, basically, began spending too much money on things we didn’t need. Again. Once more, we realized that this was not a sustainable lifestyle.

We Began Giving Up Non-Essentials

We gave up our car, moved to a cheaper part of town, gave up purchases that were non-essential, and started cooking more and meal planning (click here to read about why you should meal plan). Oh, and we stopped using credit cards; if we couldn’t afford it right then and there, we couldn’t afford it. Period. We haven’t had credit cards in over 10 years now; they are something we actively avoid as they are merely tools for debt.

After renting apartments our whole lives, we eventually decided that we should try to purchase a home. We did the math, and our monthly payments for a house would be cheaper than renting an apartment (for more space!), and especially more affordable than renting a house. There was one catch, however: we needed more money. Purchasing a home is, obviously, rather costly; not only in the sense that they can come with a big price tag and a hefty mortgage, but upfront cash as well. At this time we were still in college and working, mostly full time, but we did not have a lot of money saved up. So, in order to afford all the closing costs of purchasing a home, we resorted to vigorous budgeting. And we mean vigorous.

To ensure our success, and because the cost of renting was becoming so unaffordable, we took even more drastic measures. We bought a fifth wheel camper and moved into it. We put anything that was non-essential into storage and actually sold quite a bit of our stuff as well. Over a period of time, this process allowed us to save a substantial amount of money. It did, however, take us close to two years to save and find a house that we wanted to buy and could afford.

Budgeting is not about giving things up; it’s about taking a serious look at what you are spending your money on…it’s about directing your money to where you would like to see it going.

Sounds funny, right? Obviously, you know what you’re spending your money on, you’re the one buying those things or paying those bills. But, everything adds up; we may not realize how often we frivolously spend five, ten, or twenty dollars or maybe even more. Budgeting is about looking at those things that you do not need to buy or pay for; it’s about directing your money to where you would like to see it going.

When we paid for our wedding or bought our house, we saw where we wanted that money to go; we directed our efforts towards making that a reality. We took a serious look at where our funds were going and made a conscious effort to redirect those funds towards the things we wanted.

In future blog posts on budgeting, we will show you the spreadsheet we use to track our bills and purchases. We will also discuss, in more detail, some helpful budgeting tips.

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about us, our mistakes and successes with budgeting. If you have a story you’d like to share about your budgeting blunders or successes, we’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions on budgeting that we haven’t yet discussed, or more budgeting tips you would like to hear about, please let us know by commenting below or contacting us by clicking here!