How I cut our Cell Phone Bill in HALF!

Have you ever accidentally broke your phone and needed to replace it? Maybe you dropped it in water, or the screen shattered. You are probably thinking well at least I have insurance! I know just about everyone needs a phone in today’s world even if it is just for emergencies. I mean when was the last time you have even seen a Pay Phone? You simply need a phone, but unfortunately have a phone is not that simple. They cost money, and they are expensive!

Last week, my husbands phone finally stopped working, completely. He works in construction and even keep his phone in his pocket can be hard on it. He was paying for insurance on his phone and has got a replacement phone 3 times this year. When he needed yet another phone I realized 3 things:

  1. Phones are WAY Over Priced
  2. Insurance is basically pointless after a certain point
  3. Our current phone bill is INSANLY EXPENSIVE!

My husband was going to have to pay $150 to replace his phone. On top of that he still was making payments on his phone that amounted to $57 AND he was paying an extra $5 a month for insurance. Not to mention he still had to pay for the plan which was another $85 a month, plus there are the “activation fees”, and he was only getting 2 GB of data! I decided that we do not have the money in our super tight budget for these crazy expensive bills and we needed to shop around.

When shopping aroumd I learned a few things:

  • The Big Three Companies Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint are a HUGE RIP OFF!
  • These Big three companies have “sister companies” that use the same towers and service
  • These Big Three Companies will never tell you about these Sister Companies they have because they offer the SAME SERVICE for… HALF THE PRICE!

We decided to try CRICKET WIRELESS, because they are only $40 a month (and I was able to get this lowered) My husband will get a Brand New phone for FREE (or you can bring your own phone), and we do not have to pay any activation fees (that saved us over $100). Remember Cricket Wireless uses the SAME towers as AT&T, and they are owned by At&T. I even talked to an AT&T agent who told me that the only reason Cricket Wireless is less money a month is because it is their “pre-paid” month-to-month service. Well, now that there are no contracts with the big three companies, they are actually a month-to-month service too! I know what you ae thinking, “well, if you are paying month-to-month then your rates can go us at any time” right? WRONG. Once you sign up you are locked in at that rate! You can cancel at any time, and you can change your data plan at ANY TIME, even in the middle of your data cycle. We started my husband with 2.5 GB of data for $40/month but their best offer is 8GB for $50/month! If at anytime my husband thinks he is going to go over his data, or he wants more, he simply changes his plan and pays the difference! Easy Peasy! Also, lines do not have to share data, and for every added line, you will receive $10 OFF monthly!

Of course, there are mixed reviews online about Cricket Wireless but since we live in Grand Rapids which is such a major city we decided to give it a try! We will receive my husbands phone this evening and I will update this post to let you all know if we love switching to Cricket Wireless as much as I think we will! I will say the only downside I found is that Cricket Wireless will not buy out your contract, but I found out that NO ONE has a contract anymore. All you would owe your current provider to switch would be the balance on the price of your phone! We even got to keep my hubby’s number. I am hoping that we love this switch, I know one thing for sure, it is certainly going to SAVE US MONEY!

Ready, Set, Go! Monthly Prepration

I am so happy to see some new people checking out my blog. Thank you! I am really just getting things started and have been still trying to find my “niche” I think some super awesome ways to save money, some creative ways to save money, and some tasty CHEAP RECIPES might just be where I am headed, with a little life thrown in. SO stick around! Leave a comment and let me know if there is something you want me to write about or you have a question!

It’s the beginning of the month and that means it is time to stock up the fridge and pantry. We made it through last month on our budget of $150 (click that little link o find out how I shop for a whole month and only spend $150!)  but let me tell you the last few days we had to get a bit creative. This tells me that our budget is working but I could maybe tweak it just a little, in terms of what I make and what we buy!

I just got out of the kitchen and spent the last 3 hours cooking! Here is what I made:

  • A Whole Chicken ($6.93 this was a 7.5lb chicken and came out to .93 cents/ lb)

I always start with the chicken and rotissorie it in the oven, since it takes about 2 hours. I then use every piece of the chekcen to make at least 3 more meals!

Split Pea and Ham Soup (Split Peas $1.19/ lb, Ham left over bone and meat from last month .85 cents/lb)

split-pea-soup

Chicken Stock about 72 oz (free!) This was just the left over Chicken carcus and shavings of veggies and “butt” ends all thrown in a pot with water!

  • chicken-stock

Chicken Noodle Soup (Free, Price already covered in the price of the Chicken and I made the noodles and Broth!)

noodles

Ham, Cheese and Egg Breakfast Sandwiches (english muffins 2 pks .99 cents each, 1pk sliced cheese $1.99, 12 eggs $1.49/ carton of 12) This made 12 sandwiches for $5.50!

Pickled Onions for Pork Tacos ($1.79 for 3lbs I used one onion so arond .44 cents, a cup of vinegar and some seasonings)

Yesterday we had to stop into Meijer for some things off our ordinary list… Hubby wanted Horseraddish sauce, Holy Cow is that stuff expensive. It only a root and some vinegar! So I made 6 times as much for the same price! $3.99 for the root and it makes 24oz! You get like 8oz for that price!

So far I have made 2 dinners and 12 breakfast meals I still have 1/2 a chicken left and I plan to make pasta with it as well as a whole half of a ham (in the freezer for later) I also have enough food left for 15 more meals and most of what I make will get doubled and will work for lunches and left over dinners.

We only spent $124.85 today and it took me about 3 hours to put together all the meals from scratch. It might have taken a little bit of my time today but it saves us SO much money by not buying anything pre-made or in a package, although I did let my hubby get a few bags of chips today as payment for all the dishes I knew he would be helping to clean up this afternoon! Stay tuned, I am going to start posting some super yumy, super easy, and of course super CHEAP RECIPES. If you would like recipes to anything here please leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you 🙂 Be sure to check out my previous posts to learn how to save money while still making yummy meals!

Achieving Our Dream on a BUDGET

So I know in my last post I had promissed I would go over How To Buy Flexible Foods and How To Make a Meal Plan You Can Use but I am going to take a small break from posting about all that fun stuff. I promise I will get back to that soon! I just wanted to take a time to talk about Life.

My Hubby and I are at such a crazy phase in our lives right now. We are trying to figure out our 5 year plan as I lothingly refer to it. We have been married for about 6 months this coming Janurary! As exciting as this is, it is also time to be done with the Honeymoon Phase and move into the life planning stage. I have been hinting at a pretty big life change we are going to experience soon for a while now, and I would like to share it with you.

In the next week (if all goes well) we will be closing on a beautiful piece of land, in the school district and community we love! 2.5 acres of old farm land with an old silo on it, next to a beautiful historic brick farm house, surround by miles of fields, to be exact! This is our PERFECT, dream loacation!!! It is covered in snow right now so it does not look like much but I am every bit in love with it covered in snow! silo

We will not be building our dream home on it for a number of years yet, but this is our first step toward making our lifelong dream to build our home a reality.

propertyLook at all that open space! It’s a far cry from the small city lot we are living on now. I just love how free it feels out there in the open. We never dreamed that we wuld actually be able to achieve so much of our huge dream in such a short amount of time, and believe me it is certainly a stretch as neither my hubby nor I make a ton of money. We are only able to make this possible because of some Extreme Budgiting and saving. I cannot remember the last time we went out to eat or spent any money on something that is not essential but when we make our dream a reality it will be worth every penny we had to save!

If you have a big dream and think you cannot achieve it because of your budget. Let me help you! I have found so many ways to save us hundreds nearly thousands of dollars! Check out my previous posts if you haven’t and learn where to shop, and  How we spend only $150/ month on Groceries!

 

5 Ways to Spend Less Money Grocery Shopping

Are you looking for ways to save money? Are you saving for a vacation, the birth of a child, a wedding, money to travel, the list of reasons why we need to save money seems never ending. Right now my husband and I are certainly in this same boat. We are looking to make some HUGE life changes (more to come one that in the near future ;)). These changes have really pushed us to scrape and save like we never have. Lets just say I have become pretty creative in the last 3 months! Here are 5 WAYS WE HAVE SAVED MONEY ON OUR GROCERY BILL:

  1. STOP SHOPPING AT EXPENSIVE GROCERY STORES. You are probably thinking well, of course, and wondering what I mean by this? I am talking about stores like Meijer, Kroger, D&W, Pebles; these are all well know grocery stores in our area. The ones that have all the fixings as I like to refer to them. The stores with the deli, coffee shop, cheese shop, susi stand, bakery… These stores have a TON of employees and they have to cover the pay for these employees too! We do 99% of our shopping at stores like ALDI, I LOVE this place! I might have to bring my own bags, bring my cart back up to the building, and the stores are smaller but since they are able to run to efficiently YOU save money too! The best thing about stores like this, they pass on the savings to YOU without sacrificing quality.
  2. MEAL PLAN. Now I do not mean that you have to sit and spend hours looking for tons of fancy recipes and filling in a super organized calendar. Let me tell you, no one has that kind of time and there is no way that you will be able to stick to that plan. I simply choose around 5-10 dinners per month. I do not choose certain days to have everything, things come up! I try to choose meals that are easy to make, and that will go a long ways and leave us with left overs. I fill in the rest of our nights with leftovers. You really can get away with only 10 meals a month if you plan it right. I promise!
  3. BUY LIKE ITEMS AND ITEMS THAT ARE FLEXIBLE. When I meal plan I try and choose meals that do not require a ton of different ingredients and I can only use for that dish. I also choose meals that I can by ingredients in bulk and use for more than one or two meals. I will write a more detailed post on this. But for example I will choose at least 3 meals that include potatoes because you save so much with you buy the big bag, but of they go bad before you eat them, you are just throwing away money. If I plan enough meals to be sure I use them all then I can buy in bulk and not be wasteful and I have enough for 3 of my 10 meals with just one item!
  4. LEARN ABOUT THE DIFFERENT CUTS OF MEAT AND TEACH YOURSELF HOW TO BUTCHER IT! I wont lie, this sounds a little daring, but it’s really not that bad, trust me. This method also saves you so much money. I bought fresh chicken breasts for .82 cents/lb the other day. I was able to get such a good deal because I bought them as a Chicken Split, all this means is that the breast meat has not been skinned and de-boned.  This sounds like a task but it really only takes 3 Easy Steps: Cut chicken from rib cage bones, pull out small attached bone at the top, pull the skin off. You are left with not only the chicken breast for the tenderloin as well, 2 for the price of one! SCORE! This works with pork, ham, and beef as well. I bought a 5lb ham for $4.29 the other day because it was not spiral cut and still had the bone, again a little work on my part but it saves so much money!
  5. USE EVERYTHING YOU BUY. Again, you are probably thinking of course! But, do you actually do this? When you cut celery do you cut off the “butt end” and throw it away? Do you throw away your chicken, ham, or beef bones? How about the skin, do you throw that away too? DON’T DO IT! USE IT! Last time I bought chicken splits I cut the breast off then took the bones and skin, the “butt end” of some celery I saved from another meal, salt, pepper, and some water. I threw them all in the Crock Pot and in 2 hours I had chicken broth to use in soup and many other meals. I didn’t throw anything away without using it and I saved the $3.95 I would have spent on Chicken Stock.

There are so many ways you can find to save a little money, it just takes a little creativity. Stay tuned, I will go into more detail in my next post about how to buy Flexible foods and how to put together a meal plan, that won’t take you all day to make. Also, if you missed my previous post  to learn how we spend only $150/ month on groceries! https://ourlittlewhitehouseblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/how-we-spend-only-150-month-on-groceries/

How we spend only $150/ month on Groceries

grocery-budget

I have to start by saying I am sorry I have not posted in FOREVER, I have been wrestling with the idea to keep this blog or try something new. I have also been trying to educate myself on how to better run my blog, or and how to pull permits to build a house. Needless to say, I have been busy!

On a better note, I have been working on our budget, and by working I mean we are on a STRICK spending FREEZE. Let me tell you this has not been easy with the holidays but the hubby and I have been doing amazing! I think it helps knowing every penny we SAVE is going towards building our dream HOME!

The first place I started working to cut out our spending was with our grocery bill. I feel like we spend so much more money when I want to live lazily. When I do not want to think about our meals each week and do not buy groceries in order to make meals. When I am lazy we tend to do two things that are terrible on our budget:

  1. Eat out/ Order take out
  2. Waste/ Throw away food, meaning we didn’t use produce before it went bad or I am throwing away left overs that did not get eaten 😦

Now I am not about to start telling you to make a meal plan and a calendar and be some super type A wife (even if I am I don’t even enjoy it!). What I am going to tell you to do are two things:

  1. Stop buying NAME BRANDS and/or shopping at large EXPENSIVE grocery stores. Here we have Meijer and D&W both have all the nice amenities like a Starbucks and a little Deli and bakery… Let me tell you these nice things are what make these stores charge more for groceries.
  2. Think ahead and have a few meal ideas. This does not mean you need to plan out the whole month day by day and have a color coded calendar and blah…blah..blah. I mean just think of about 5-10 meals you know you want to make for the month. I will write another post on the meals I have chosen for the month and how I am able to feed both me and my husband (who is a big guy and almost eats for two; with his physically demanding job he is hungry) all three meals a day for 30 days for $150!

When I am picking meals I try to pick 3-4 different meats, some stove top meals, some casseroles, some make ahead/ dual purpose meals, and some crock pot meals. This way I have options. I like to stick to cheaper meats like large halves of ham, buying ground beef in bulk, sausage, chicken on the bone, and my all time more bang for your buck meat PORK! Buy all your meat in huge pieces you can use a knife and cut them, you have a freezer so use these things! It’s a little more work but I am telling you it saves us SO much money! People I do not pay more than $2/ lb for meat, ever….

When it comes to vegetables I buy a lot of things frozen or in a can, they keep WAY longer and are very versatile. If I buy fresh produce I buy potatoes and onions, two things I know I will use up before they go bad. They also work in so many dishes and potatoes are filling! I try to pair foods together and make a filling meal so my hubby does not need/ want a snack later. I’m telling you my husband can eat!

Speaking of snacks, I do not buy them. They are expensive, no good for you, and not filling at all! Snacks are a budget buster for sure! Instead of bags of chips try to think of other things you can eat when you need a quick snack. Peanuts, any kind of nut, cheese slices, crackers, fruit, veggies… I buy very few pre packaged foods of any kind….

I do all of our shopping at the beginning of the month and buy all the things I will need for each meal. I buy bread and milk and pay close attention to the sell by dates. I usually have to make one more run to the grocery store for milk and bread half way through the month. This is another good way to cut down on spending. If I am only at the store 2 times a month I do not have as many chances to impulse buy! If I do buy something that I know will go bad rather quickly I am sure to use that item in a recipe within the first week of the month.

Once we get to the last week of the month I need to start getting creative, I have made myself not only not allow myself to run to the store for one or two items but also have pushed myself to come up with meals that will use only what we have at the house. Let me tell you I have come up with some AWESOME recipes, ask the hubby, he approves!

This is just a general over view of how I start my process to save money each month. We are saving close to $600 to be exact! I will get more into detail in my up coming posts. I will also share with you some tips and tricks to buying groceries cheaper than your local large grocery store, and how to stretch your groceries depending on the meals you make to last you the whole month! Stay tuned I have so much to share with you!

If you do not clean this yet…You SHOULD!

School is back in session for the littles I nanny, and that means that my home cleaning obsession is in overdrive. I Love spending time with those little girls over the summer but man does it show in our house! We have recently decided to stay in our 1930’s craftsman fixer upper. This is both fabulous and not so fabulous but I will get more into that in another post, Why we decided to Stay. Right now I am going room by room and giving it a deep clean. Beware more cleaning post to come!


The other day I was in our laundry dungeon as I refer to it. It is in our not so inviting basement, that needs a LOT of work. I have been slowly getting this room cleaned and made into a place I am no longer weary to venture into to! I was washing a load of clothes and when I took them out they just did not smell fresh… That’s when I started checking out our front load washer,*** we have had LESS than 1 YEAR…and found this. washer-seal

You guessed it, disgusting, invading, mold! Please do not think that I would let things get this way on purpose… Our basement stays rather damp so we are sure to always leave the door open and pull put the detergent cup after EVERY wash. This was the detergent cup after I wiped it down a little. washer-detergent-cupI found the water does not drain well from the cup or the seal. If you have a front load washer BEWARE! Yours could be harboring mold in places you would never notice or think to clean! Luckily, it was all pretty ease to clean… I just wiped the seal down inside and out and got in all the little crevices with bleach. I pulled the trays ALL the way out of the washer and took them apart and wiped them down with bleach. I wiped the inside of where the detergent tray slides because that had a little mold too… inside-tray-2

Then I filled the bleach tray with bleach and ran the washer on a “cleaning” cycle.

I am happy to say that the next load of laundry can out clean and fresh!

Please do you and you family a favor and check your washer inside and out, take it apart and check it monthly. Mold can be toxic and oh so disgusting! Many of the new washers do not seem to drain the water well and you could be washing mold along with your families clothes. Eeek! It was so simple to clean and so worth it to have fresh, clean, and safe laundry 🙂

Summers End

It is the girls last day of Summer. I nanny them and we have had a busy and fun summer and I am so happy we got to spend so much time together. I feel like they have learned so much and grown over the past 3 months.

At the beginning of the summer the girls and I sat down and made a list of things we wanted to do this summer. Our list included a long list of new parks to visit, a few fun places like the animal park, and goals such as learning to ride a two wheel bike! Today since it was their last day, I asked them if there was ANYTHING they still wanted to do this summer. I was happy to hear them both say, “we have got to do some many fun things this summer and we cannot even think of one more thing we would like to do!” Mission Accomplished. Now our next mission is getting not just one, but two girls up and ready in time for the bus this coming Tuesday!

The girls are up resting and while they are I made them this sign for their First Day of School this year.IMG_4458 I think they will think it is pretty cool! I also love that their mom has a chalkboard in their kitchen, it is so fun to use for things like this, birthdays, and welcoming visitors! I love it so much that while my Hubby and I were at the Antique Market this past weekend I got a frame to make one for our house!

Here is to a GREAT summer that has come to pass, I cannot wait to spend next summer with these amazing little girls <3.

Antique Market Goodies

I have had it in my Summer Plans that my husband and I would visit the Allegan Antique Market in Allegan, MI. They have over 400+ vendors and oh boy was I EXCITED! I have always had a LOVE for vintage and old things long before the new vintage craze. I just love the intricate details and the handmade craftsmanship of the old. I loved spending time with my grandparents as a kid so seeing and owning some of these items from the past remind me of them in a way. Even though I have always had a love of all things old, I have never been one to attend these AMAZING Antique Markets. Not because I did not want to but simply because I never owned a house until now! Believe me, now that I have a house to decorate, I will be decorating and that means with all things old and vintage!

It has taken quite a long time to get our old 1930’s house cleaned up and any where near the decorating stage, and we still have a LONG way to go! However, we did find some great things I would love to share with you!

This was the fist purchase of the day. In our old house we do not have closets or a large kitchen so I needed a way to store more serving dishes and add some love to our dinning room.

I am still considering changing the color of it what do you think??

We have a narrow dinning room and this fit perfect in the dinning room but, NOT in our vehicle! Oh no!

WIN_20160828_202654

 

 

 

 

So while my husband was putting out the fire of this beauty not fitting in our vehicle and being an hour from home; I continued to walk through and find a few more goodies…..WIN_20160828_202819

This great feed scoop and some pretty old books. One just happens to be a book my grandparents had on their bookshelf! I know these items are pretty common but this market had great prices!

I just had to scoop them up. In the mean time, my wonderful husband had got a hold of his dad and he was on his way out to rescue us with his truck! While my father and mother-in-law were on their way out to rescue us I did find a few more great things, that awesome half windmill that I have resting on the top of that cabinet (I will mount it somewhere I’m just not sure where yet) and this cute little lantern…WIN_20160828_202938

 

 

 

In all we had a great day! Since my mother and father-in-law had to come out and rescue us we ended up having ice cream before going to their house for Sunday dinner.

It is the last week of Summer for the kiddos I nanny and although I LOVE spending the day with them, I cannot wait to have more time to craft! Especially because we are working on converting our spare bedroom into a guest/craft room. We did get a few other goodies today that I plan to do some things with but that is a surprise for later 🙂

These Boots

These Boots, I often get so mad at them or about them for more than one reason. They are often right in the doorway when I come home and I trip over them. I have asked my husband to put them away so many times. He tries but often, after a long days work, forgets. These boots are ALWAYS muddy or covered in concrete. They make such a mess even if all you do is move them. The mud gets everywhere and gets tracked all over the house by the dogs and I feel like cleaning up after these boots is a never ending battle. Lastly, these boots are not cheap. We have tried several different brands and prices points to try and find a pair of boots we do not have to replace after 3-6 months and have had no luck. Ugh! I hate these boots! I often become upset with him and his boots. I just cannot understand how they are so dirty. After all, I don’t have muddy shoes every time I come home. I don’t have to spend money on new shoes every few months because I wore through mine. I just wish he would take better care of his boots! These are often my feelings when I see these boots…

WIN_20160807_100823But, it shouldn’t be. I should love these boots. These messy, muddy, always in the way boots. I should love them because they are my husband’s boots. He wears them everyday to work. He works a very physically laborious job as a construction worker building walls and foundations of houses and buildings. He is out in the hot 90+ degree weather in the summer for 10 hours and in the -10 degree weather in the winter. He works through rain, snow, and beating hot sun, everyday. To take care of us and provide for us. My husband is a great man and I often forget that all that mud being tracked all over the house in the hard work he puts in so that we have a house.

At the end of the day I need to remember to be grateful for my husband every day. I need to realize that I am very luck to have a man that will work so hard for us that he wears right through his boots in 3 months. That he is willing to work in the mud and weather to be sure we are both able to live comfortably and happily. I love my husband, and I’m beginning to love these boots, mud and all.

Pirates and Princesses

It is summer here in Michigan and while I am thankful that we usually are not nearly as hot as most areas, it sure has been a hot summer! I nanny two little girls and we have spent a ton of time in the water this summer. We are lucky to have a pool close by that we can frequent. This past week has just been VERY humid, the girls just do not want to play outside.

This morning the doorbell rang and it was the mailman. The girls and I opened the door and there sat a few large boxes. The girls got so excited about the boxes, and so did I. We were looking for something to do today, inside, that does not involve the T.V.

We decided we were going to go on an adventure into the sea! Those boxes were all the inspiration we needed to get creative this morning. Before I knew it I was scissors and tape in hand, I had become a ship builder. I was not building just any ship, I was building a Pirate Ship!

The only supplies we needed were:

*Scissors

*Tape

*Large and Small Boxes

*Markers and String

We even used the brown paper that they use to keep the goodies in the boxes safe while shipping!

At first we build the ship and the mast and used a blanket for the sail, but the girls were worried that they could not “set sail” because they “did not have any wind in their sails!”

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As you can see the pirate ship is pretty cool as is and check out those swords! The girls just got in the ship and started realizing all the awesome pirate things we could add to our ship. We made everything from the cardboard and packing materials that came in the boxes we found! It was a free and super fun way to pass a super hot day!

They even wanted to eat lunch in their pirate ship. So here we are eating lunch on the ship. The girls decided that the only food pirates could get in the ocean was fish so they had boiled fish, chopped fish, and mushy fish for lunch, sounds yummy right? EEEWWW! Lunch ShipEven if a variety of fish dishes are not my forte I woud say our Pirates and Princesses had a great day!