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Frugal Family Living -

Archive for the ‘Frugal Family Living’ Category

Eat-From-the-Pantry Challenge in Review

The Eat-From-the-Pantry Challenge has ended. How did you do?

This family of eight stuck it out, but seriously folks, we hardly suffered. We had salmon three…no, four times. We ate lasagna, homemade pizza, fresh granola, strawberry shortcake, and some pretty tasty soup. We celebrated a birthday with an amazing dinner and ice cream cake. We had pork tenderloin and tacos and…oh boy! Thanks to my mother’s frozen Christmas cookie stash, we ended the month with a bang. Did we ever eat well!

We also learned a few lessons.

I learned that I can whip out granola on cold cereal day with no effort at all. I’d kiss the boxed cereals goodbye in a heartbeat if I was the only one voting. All boxed cereal does is add sugar to small bodies, weight to big bodies, and heft to the grocery bill.

I learned that when you’re eating from the pantry and not buying bread, it is a waste of effort to put the bread maker away. It is now once again a permanent resident on the counter.

I learned that I love waffles made from fresh oat flour. I love anything made from fresh flour.

I learned that even people who are spoiled with fresh-baked goodness every day get a hankerin’ for bread made of something akin to glue.

I learned that if the battery in the van does not hold a charge, I am less inclined to go to the store at all, and more inclined to stay home, bake bread, and stick to the budget.

Most importantly, I learned that the efforts we have made over the past year or so to stock our home with the necessary supplies to get this family through a few months of…anything, has really worked. We could literally do the pantry challenge for two more months with a cheerful countenance, and a couple more after that with moderate to considerable grumbling.

All told I stayed well within my $250 budget by spending $178.82. Divide that by eight people for a total per capita expenditure of $22.36. Let’s divide that by six people instead, since two of ours are rather small (4 and 1), giving us $29.97 per person.


There’s more.

One of the biggest changes I noticed during the month is that we used half a garbage bag or less a day as opposed to nearly a full bag. Sweet!

I also noticed my hubby is looking pretty good. Somewhere during the challenge he sent five pounds packing. The weight loss is either from not having any munchies around at night, such as the evil boxed cereal, or from locking himself away to record vocals for his next album. Two (okay, three) of those pounds relocated in my general vicinity. Did I mention we (as in I) ate a lot of popcorn this month?

Being a good steward is an excellent feeling. The extra attention I paid to our shopping, usage, and financial responsibility will definitely benefit this family, as we have commited to eliminating our debt this year.

If you are interested in feeding your family for less, stick around. Two ebooks are in the works on just this topic. (Less does not mean $30 a head. It just means less.)

If you are interested in stocking your pantry and home in a manner similar to ours, sign up for Notable Blogger emails. We will be setting monthly preparedness goals to continue to babystep our way toward reasonable preparedness in uncertain times.

Uncertain times–as if life has ever been anything else!

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Eat-From-the-Pantry Challenge


The photo upload capabilities of my blogging software have gone the way of my energy–away.  I have a very talented man that can fix these things, but the blogging frenzy of a woman with a mission can wait for no man, not even the near-genius who will have this quirk eliminated about thirty seconds after downing his first cup of java.

December is nearly over.  I over-spent.  Part of me would love to bid farewell to Legos and babydolls and new slippers on Christmas, much as the Voskamp family has done, thus maintaining an even clearer focus and eliminating overspending.  The other part of me, however, loves watching my children thoughtfully plan, budget, sew, shop, wrap, relate the story behind the gift, and delight in the recipient’s joy, all in conjunction with Christ’s birth.  I don’t doubt that God similarly loves watching our delight in receiving The Ultimate Christmas Gift.

Regardless, December once again has seen me exceeding the budget by just a hair…or a hair ball, to be truthful.  Therefore, January is a perfect time to jump on board the Eat-From-the-Pantry Challenge sponsored by Crystal and FishMama.

The premise behind the challenge stems from the wealth of food most of us have stored up which we forget about and eventually toss.  No matter how inexpensively the goods were obtained, tossed food is a waste in more ways than one.  While we buy on sale, stock up, and rotate our supply, it is the latter part, the rotating, that will be heavily exercised this month.

My goal is to spend no more than $250 on groceries for eight people this month, while eating through our supplies.  Why so much?  We eat heavily from fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Our garden supplies nothing, and our freezer is not currently loaded with enough produce to get us through the month. While I could rely on our canned supply, I simply do not want to. (Pout, stomp foot.) I should have enough in that budget to buy produce, milk, eggs, and cheese–hey, I’m from Wisconsin, and cheese is its own food group dontchaknow.

This cleansing will allow me a fresh start in February, as well as the chance to scrub out the freezer.  (Thanking God for the ability to scrub a freezer!) It will also free up a bit of the grocery money for debt reduction.

Normally something like this would tempt me to stock up in advance, but the purpose is not to merely succeed in January, but to succeed as wise financial stewards in general all the time. So…no cheating (Stern look, slapping ruler into palm of hand.)

If you wish to join this challenge, hop on board.  I think you’d be surprised how long you can go without really shopping.  Of course, this will require a bit of creativity, some exercise for the ol’ noggin, but we’re all up for that, aren’t we?

Look at that: he’s only halfway through his first cup of joe and he’s got the photo bug fixed already.  Let’s see if I can fix the budget as well as he can fix everything else.   Feel free to hold me accountable! In fact, please do.

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Should a Christian Declare Bankruptcy?

Dead TreeLiving in the hardest hit housing market in the country while surviving on a real estate–dependent income is a lamentable combination. I don’t recommend it. We are blessed to have our home, to have our food supplies and to be able to afford fresh groceries. We have two (yes, two) vehicles, and we put gas in them when we need to. But the fact is, things ain’t pretty right now. (You know they’re ugly when I say “ain’t!”) It could (and might) get a lot worse. It could (and will) eventually get better. In the meantime, losing the house is always on the fringe of our thoughts.

I know others who have it worse, much worse. I know people who have lost their farms, homes, or jobs. I also know people who madly spent themselves into a mire of debt, spent their home equity, and then freely gave up their houses and abandoned their debts without a glance back. We also know companies who have declared bankruptcy and walked away from their financial obligations, money owed not only to corporations but to individuals, to us.

A few short years ago, we had a lot of sweat and blood (a little too much blood) equity in our house. In between running a business and catering to the needs of a pregnant wife and (then only) four children, my husband worked hard to build this place we call home. Today, although we did not spend it, the equity is gone and we are now floating upside-down. Paying off the enormous void between what we owe and what our charming abode is worth takes a sizeable chunk out of our rapidly shrinking income. If we were to walk away from our house right now, we would be in a situation that could allow us to focus on the music mission. We would also be nearly debt-free. It is a temptation.

“What’s a Christian to do when she doesn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong?” I ask myself, out loud…talking to myself…again.

“Look it up in the Bible,” a child’s voice calls out. Oh to have had such wisdom before the grey hair!

I obey.

The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again:
but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
~Psalm 37:21

I love the King James, but you, perhaps, may not, so:

The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously.
~Psalm 37:21

That settles it. A Christian should not voluntarily walk away from his debt.

When faced with economic hardship, a Christian must make every effort to shave off unnecessary expenses. (Satellite television, Starbucks, and even date night are unnecessary expenses, in case you were wondering). Debt settlement is a responsible debt-reduction option that should be pursued before bankruptcy is considered. Having experienced this ourselves, I can assure you it is doable and extremely helpful if you are in a tight place.

If, after seeking guidance, stripping the budget, and looking into debt settlement, there is no option but to declare bankruptcy, the Christian should still make every attempt to repay the debts as soon as he is able. Generally companies will not accept post-bankruptcy repayment efforts, in which case your debt is forgiven and obligation has ended. I can, however, think of a small business or two that would benefit from the fulfillment of currently abandoned financial obligations.

My last word: tough economic times can be frightening. You do not need to go it alone.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

While I was compensated for this blog entry, it does represent my views at the time of writing. Notable Blogger will never publish anything that conflicts with our views, ethics, or Christian values.

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Organic fair-trade clothing

Worship the Creator, appreciate the creation.

Worship the Creator, appreciate the creation.

I recently read an interesting article regarding organic, fair trade clothing. Having had an interest for several years in the health benefits of living a more natural lifestyle, I have stood on the fringes of the “go-green” movement, watching in dismay as the green elite step off their private jets with their evian and tell us all to use one square of toilet paper and buy organic apples for $4 a pound. If you preach green and you live like Ed Begley,Jr. or Bill Nye the Science Guy, you have my respect. If you preach green and leave the practice of it to others…not so much.

One word: balance. Okay, two more words: common sense.

As a Christian, I do not worship the earth, as some seem inclined to do. I am aware of the Biblical prophesies regarding the earth’s future and know that we cannot “save the planet” per se, just as we cannot eliminate poverty. Nevertheless, I am equally aware that this planet is a gift from God for our use, and with that gift comes a level of responsibility. It is our duty to care for God’s creation…but not worship it, not see it as the be-all and end-all of Christian existence. Praise the Creator, appreciate the creation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feed Your Family 4 Less

One of our bottomless pits demonstrating how to eat Daddy's sai min

One of our bottomless pits demonstrating how to eat Daddy's sai min

Learn how to save up to 50% or more on your groceries!

While grocery prices are climbing and pocketbooks are thinning, the Bagasao clan is spending less money per mouth on food and other essentials than ever before!

Compiling lessons I have learned over more than a decade of shopping, researching, and adjusting my technique, I have developed a method of shopping that takes the mystery out of saving money. We average 50% savings each month. Being a real person in the real world (if you consider being home all day every day with six children, a hubby, and an overgrown golden retriever the real world), I do not want to spend hours hunting for the right coupon to make one deal. Therefore, my system offers reasonable savings in a reasonable amount of time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saving Money at the Grocery Store

<em/>Hawaii, a better way to spend money!” title=”stephen-and-elijah-at-beach-in-hi” width=”225″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-177″ /><p class= Hawaii, a better way to spend money!

Since we are a single income family, one of my contributions to our family finances is carefully watching my side of the budget. I see how hard my husband works for every dollar, and I like to make each penny stretch as far as possible. I’ve had thirteen years of practice shopping as a “grown up,” and have learned many tricks of the trade along the way.

My goal is to save on average 50% off our grocery and household budget. It is possible to save even more, and many people do. I am not, however, blessed with a coupon doubling store. Also, while I do clip coupons and gather them in a few non-traditional places, I am not an avid online coupon hunter or buyer. I try to save my 50% as part of our current lifestyle, without having to hire a cook, maid, and teacher to take over all the things I couldn’t finish if I spent too much time trying to save money! I’ve done the eight-hour a day store-hopping shop, and the online coupon print and clip for hours. It’s not a realistic lifestyle for me. All my savings strategies are implemented with the goal of saving money and time. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Value of a Frugal Wife

It saddens me when I speak to women who feel that they are not contributing to their families or to society if they do not bring home a paycheck. Some believe their contribution needs to be measured monetarily to be of value. Others are nagged with guilt at the thought of their degrees growing dusty on a closet shelf somewhere, while they stay home packing lunches or potty training toddlers.

Rebecca and Marissa

Rebecca and Marissa

Too often people find their identity in their work. In other words, “I ain’t got no job, I ain’t got no paycheck, I ain’t nobody.” It has become uncool, unpopular, and definitely unsophisticated to be a mother who stays home and tends her brood. It is even more unpopular to be a wife who stays home to tend her husband when no children are in the picture.

To make matters worse, the money-saving activities of a wife and mother in a single income family are often shrouded by a hint of embarassment. You don’t hear a group of women at a business meeting exclaiming over the amazing deal they got on salad dressing on double coupon day at the market. Women don’t often brag about the time they spend clipping coupons, shopping thrift racks, patching clothes to maximize their wear, or donning store brand or homemade clothing. (Okay, I’ll brag about it, but that’s an eBook for another day!) Even though the thriftiness of a conscientious wife goes a long way toward enabling her husband to support the family, the woman frequently sees herself as not contributing financially to the family, and society will too often second that view.

Hannah and Rebecca

Hannah and Rebecca

Why is this? Why do women fall for the lure of the feminist movement that claims a woman needs to succeed in the same arena as a man in order to be successful. Why should her immeasurable worth be defined and therefore limited by a paycheck?

Imagine, for a moment, how blessed a husband can be by a wife who tends lovingly to his needs and makes wise use of the money he brings home. Imagine the mother who is always available to explore and play and bake cookies with her children? Imagine how much more successful that husband will be both in his career and at home, with a caring and supportive wife beside him. Imagine what a great contribution to society those confident and well-raised children will become because they had a mother who took the time to teach them that life does not revolve around pleasing themselves and their peers, but around serving each other. Imagine, from a financial aspect, how much farther that husband’s paycheck can go if there is a frugal and conscientious wife at home, making every penny of her man’s hard-earned money really count! Just imagine!

If you stay at home and tend your brood and your husband, do not undermine your contribution to society and to the kingdom of Christ! Your value cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Your worth is far above rubies!

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