GETTING A CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PAYMENT?

.coronavirus stimulus payment

If you have checked the calculator and determined that you should be receiving a stimulus payment under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act you may have already started writing up that wish list or planning that post-pandemic vacation. Before you spend a dime of that money please read this. And please, whatever you do, don’t spend or commit this money before you have even received it.

WILL YOU BE GETTING A CARES STIMULUS PAYMENT?

Under the CARES Act, stimulus payments of up to $1,200 will go out to adults who earned $75,000 or less on their last tax return. If you have not yet filed 2019 taxes it will use your 2018 tax return. You may also be eligible for $500 per child. Using this handy calculator from the Washington Post I was able to determine that our household is eligible for $3,400. You can use the adjusted gross income from your last tax return to determine what you may be eligible for as well.

IS THAT MONEY ALREADY BURNING A HOLE IN YOUR POCKET?

Please don’t let it. Whatever you do please don’t spend that money before it hits your account. It can be tempting to put that upcoming expense or charge that splurge item on your credit card, but don’t!

Yes, I have heard news reports that direct deposits could start hitting bank accounts this Thursday, but if you received your payment via check I’ve also heard it could take months, months to receive your payment.

Given the current situation with a global pandemic (which hasn’t even peaked in some states including Arkansas where I am) that $3,400 is a welcome addition to that safety net we call our emergency fund. If you’re new around here, I mention it a lot! Because it’s important!

We are currently building our three-to-six-month emergency fund (baby step three if you follow Uncle Dave) and this will help in getting us a lot closer to the mark. My husband is currently still working because as the leader of a survey field crew he can’t work from home. His only option if he wants to stay home is to use his PTO.

The stimulus payment can make a hard decision like staying home for his health a lot easier. If you are already experiencing economic effects of COVID-19 I highly encourage you to hold onto that stimulus payment as much as possible. Unemployment benefits alone probably won’t cover all your expenses.

If you haven’t been affected financially by COVID-19 yet, I am so glad. We are fortunate that my husband still has his full-time job, but his part-time job in retail has officially laid him off until further notice. We are reworking our budget to accommodate for the loss of pay and protect our savings before we feel the hit.

In case you’re feeling the urge to splurge your upcoming stimulus payment, here are a few suggestions on how to use this money to improve your financial situation.

 

SMART WAYS TO USE YOUR STIMULUS PAYMENT

BEEF UP YOUR EMERGENCY FUND

This is always a good idea in my humble little budget loving opinion. Use all, most, or part of the stimulus payment to increase your emergency fund. I’d say this situation qualifies as an emergency for thousands (if not millions) of families already and will be one for many more before this pandemic has run its course.

If you remember from Emergency: Why You Need an Emergency Fund Now the average American household isn’t prepared for a $1,000 expense. The simple move of saving your payment of $1,200 as an individual or $2,400 as a couple will put you in a much better financial position.

PAY DOWN YOUR DEBT

Interest rates are low, low, low right now (Fed rate is essentially at zero). Student loan debt interest isn’t even accumulating at the moment. If you have an emergency fund in place keep paying down that debt. You will make so much more progress on those student loans if you make payments on them during this interest and penalty reprieve.

Get ahead of the game by taking advantage of the no-interest period and keep making payments! If you need more information here is a fact sheet and FAQ from the Federal Student Aid Office. You can also check directly with your student loan servicer to see how/if your auto-scheduled payments will be affected during this time.

You can also pay down your high-interest credit card or auto loans with your stimulus payment as well. For instance, we plan to use a portion of the $500 dependent payment to pay down our son’s speech therapy tab.

INVEST IN YOURSELF

If you’re lucky enough to be consumer debt-free this is a great opportunity to invest in yourself. Take a course on a computer program you’d love to learn that would help advance your current career track.

Start that home-based business you’ve always dreamed of; register your domain name and start a blog or website on a topic you’re really passionate/knowledgable about. Market your services in graphics design, bookkeeping, or proofreading to other online entrepreneurs.

Not all of the suggestions above cost money and most won’t require much of the stimulus payment. But they can all help improve your financial position in the future. If you are content with your finances maybe invest in a new hobby to keep you occupied at home.

TAKE CARE OF OVERDUE HOME REPAIRS

This is a great way to get your windows professionally washed, a fresh coat of paint on the house. Take care of home repairs that keep getting back burnered due to budget restrictions. Lots of these can be accomplished with social distancing and it is a job that can’t be done from home. They will definitely appreciate your business.

ULTIMATELY, THE MONEY AND THE DECISION ARE YOURS… WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO WITH YOUR STIMULUS PAYMENT?

I’d love to hear what you plan to do with your payment. I’ve told you what we’re doing; paying down a speech therapy bill and sitting on the rest. What do you plan to do with your stimulus payment?

 

Other Resources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/irs-begin-sending-coronavirus-stimulus-payments-april-2020-4

https://www.forbes.com/sites/taxnotes/2020/04/06/the-cares-act-the-tax-provisions-and-whats-next/#2304c58c5d38

 

 

QUARANTINE CUISINE – FRUGAL AND FILLING MEALS

frugal quarantine cuisine

FRUGAL QUARANTINE CUISINE YOU CAN COOK ON A DIME

These days most of us are staying at home as much as possible, in self-isolation or quarantine and venturing out only when absolutely necessary. Grocery trips, unfortunately, are rather necessary. I myself am currently only getting out of the house to take in the recycling at the self-service drop off and buy groceries. You best believe I am making sure to use up every last bite and avoid food waste even more so than usual. I will probably start stretching grocery trips out to every week and a half to two weeks before this whole mess is over. This is probably something most of you are considering as well. While the grocery stores struggle to keep the shelves stocked I am getting more flexible with my meal plan and adding some different options to the lunch and dinner rotation. I’m calling it my frugal quarantine cuisine and today I’m sharing some of these meal ideas with you.

These are all very frugal, most have longer shelf life than my usual meal choices, and seven come kid and husband approved (so far).

frugal quarantine cuisine ideas

TUNA

Tuna has a long shelf life, provides Omega-3 fatty acids, is a good source of protein and other nutrients. Canned tuna can be safely consumed once a week or so; this is not a daily food item due to the heavy metals that can be found in it, but it is still a good frugal option and very versatile.

TUNA SALAD – Drain two cans of tuna well, add a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise, season to taste, and you’ve got yourself a meal in minutes. This pairs well with a slice or two of homemade bread as a quick and satisfying lunch.

TUNA CASSEROLE – Pair with egg noodles and a cream sauce for an easy and frugal casserole. This is a great “use it up” dinner option when you’re down to some of your more random ingredients but not quite ready to make another trip to the store.

TUNA PATTIES – These make a great summer afternoon lunch or dinner. Even my picky kids have enjoyed tuna burger patties on occasion. And they’re so simple to make! I’ll link the recipe as soon as I get it posted.

cHICKEN

Chicken may not be the most frugal protein option (especially without any antibiotics or broth solution), but it can be more affordable and last longer if purchased frozen or canned. I’m not saying eat all your chicken from a can, but a couple of cans are handy to have around.

CHICKEN SALAD – The recipe here is much the same as with tuna salad. If you have some hard-boiled eggs to cube and throw-in that makes it even tastier. Slice up some grapes if you have them. There are lots of ways to switch it up while also using up what you have on hand.

SHRED LEFTOVER CHICKEN – If you cook some extra chicken or have some leftover you can shred it for later. It will work well in fajitas, enchiladas,  or just to toss on top of some lettuce for a more filling salad. Shredded chicken comes in very handy when throwing together simple meals. This is quarantine cuisine at its finest!

TORTILLA PIZZAS

My kids have really enjoyed this easy little treat at lunchtime. Simply toss some leftover taco meat or turkey pepperoni over a layer of shredded cheese (we use vegan mozzarella for our lactose intolerant kiddo) and microwave just long enough to melt the cheese. Roll it up for easy eating. The kids love it and it takes next to no time to get on the table.

5-7 CAN SLOW COOKER SOUP

This is a meal I haven’t made in a while but is so simple and cheap to make. I picked up this frugal recipe from a former coworker. This is one of those dishes the shredded chicken or leftover taco meat to toss in. You just need a can of corn, a can of carrots, a can of Rotel style tomatoes, your choice of canned beans, and broth. Drain the beans and tomatoes, but use the liquid from the corn and carrots if desired (I usually drain them all and omit the beans). Cover with the broth, season as desired, and slow cook for a couple of hours. This is a great one to throw together after lunch and then just stir every once in a while.

THE CLASSIC PB&J

Or other nut butter of your choice… Food allergies are an issue for some. This is a very frugal meal the kids will love to sink their teeth (and fingers) into for lunch. I for one plan to have more sandwiches around here provided we keep enough bread flour on hand.

IF POSSIBLE ORDER TAKEOUT AND SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY

We’ve been doing this once a week. We plan to continue as long as it works with our budget. This can make it easier to stretch what is in the pantry between meals and help keep some local businesses going during this time.

TURNS OUT OUR TYPICAL MEAL PLAN WORKS PRETTY WELL AS FRUGAL QUARANTINE CUISINE!

We stick to a pretty frugal, mostly healthy meal plan most of the time anyway. I have been lucky that most of what I typically buy has been available at the stores. There are a few items I like to keep on hand for lunches or backup options that aren’t currently available (like ramen, I love ramen with an egg in some broth for lunch once or twice a week), but for the most part, we haven’t had to make very many alterations.

If you need some help with dinner ideas be sure to sign up as a Frugal Friend of the blog and I’ll send you a newsletter with a weekly meal plan every Monday with seven frugal dinner ideas and a link to the recipe page adapted for frugal quarantine cuisine season of course!

Be sure to stay connected friends! I’m also active on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! We’ll get through this together! If you have any favorite quarantine cuisine foods you’d like to share please do so! I love hearing from you. Until next time stay frugal, healthy, and stay home if you can my friends!

 

FREE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES TO ENTERTAIN THE KIDS AT HOME

free educational resources for kids

If you’re like me and you have at least one school-aged kid at home you might be finding that the work provided by the school just doesn’t quite fill up the day. Idle little minds get bored fast and it can be tempting to just let Netflix or Disney + take over for you. We have enjoyed some TV and movie time while at home, but there are lots of free educational resources available to keep your kids entertained and educated.

Here is a helpful list of resources that have been made available for my family. We haven’t used all of them yet, but you might find them helpful.

FREE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES TO KEEP YOUR KIDS ENTERTAINED AT HOME

THE SAN DIEGO ZOO – While the zoo may not be open to the public right now, there is a wealth of information available on their website. Your kids can watch educational videos about animals and plants found at the zoo, and even watch some of the action live from popular animal enclosures.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS – You can find fun science experiments, video lessons on US Presidents, homework resources, and more on the site. And you don’t have to subscribe to use the site. A lot of subjects are covered on this one fun site and it’s all geared for kids!

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM –  Watch a live camera of the bay 24 hours a day of the beautiful Monterey Bay or watch educational videos of the turtles, sharks, whales, otters, and other fish and critters that call the aquarium home.

SPEECH BUDDY – My youngest is in speech therapy but hasn’t been able to attend the last two weeks. While his therapy clinic works out the details of teletherapy with insurance we’re just at home encouraging him to talk as much as possible. A cousin told me about this resource and I really need to check it out. It has tips, games, books, and tools to do therapy at home as well as other resources to help your kids with their speech while the clinics are closed.

TUMBLE BOOKS – This one is a subscription service, but they do offer free trials to schools. Check with your school’s librarian to see if you have access to this site. Our school offered us access and it’s basically a library full of ebooks for children and teens plus it offers math stories with supplementary materials (think worksheets, games, and lesson plans to go with the book).

SCHOLASTIC – The Scholastic Learn at Home page has a wide variety of projects to do at home organized by grade level. This site is designed as a resource for remote schoolers. It includes resources for families, teachers, a list of tips and tricks, and has resources for Pre-K through grade 9. Starting April 1 Scholastic is teaming up with the Library of Congress to bring Dav Pilkey at Home for preschoolers! This is a site I will probably use going forward for my almost-three-year-old.

PE AT HOME WITH YOUTUBE – Physical Education may be once a week while the kiddos are in school, but recess is every day! While we can’t get outside every day if it’s raining, I make sure the kids are doing some sort of stretching or PE at home videos for kids on YouTube every afternoon. It’s pretty entertaining!

I WILL KEEP ADDING FREE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES TO THIS LIST AS I AM AWARE OF THEM

Look for this list to grow as time goes by. I would imagine the longer we’re home the more creative we’ll get! If you have any resources you’d like to share please do so in the comments! I’ll check them out and add them to the list.

NAVIGATING THE NEW “NORMAL FOR NOW”

navigating the new "normal for now"

I have no idea how long this will last. And I have no idea what life will look like on the other side of this. But I do hope and pray that we will come out of this period of social distancing, self-isolation, and for some self-quarantine. I hope we come out better, more empathetic, and more responsible for ourselves and our environment. Here is how my family has been navigating the new “normal for now” as I’ve decided to call it.

I’m not saying it’s been easy; there are a lot of unknowns.

TIPS FOR NAVIGATING THE NEW “NORMAL FOR NOW” AND KEEPING OUR SANITY

There are lots of ways to pass the time, but we’ve found these particular things very useful over the last two weeks. They may not all work for you and your family, but they have certainly helped our family so far. I will continue to adapt my approach on a day-to-day basis as the situation calls for it, but here are a few simple things we’ve come to rely on.

HOLD TIGHT TO YOUR FAITH

Church is not canceled, even if the doors to the building are closed. As people of faith, it would not be a good thing if we isolated ourselves from other believers or practicing our faith. Luckily we attend a church that has been quick to adapt to the ever-changing situation.

Since large gatherings are not advisable at the moment sermons moved online. Children’s church has also moved online, so I haven’t missed a worship service or sermon and our kids haven’t missed any lessons either.

Prayer is always important, but our six-year-old has really grown in this area. She often wants to say the mealtime prayer, but more often than not it is the standard kids’ prayer, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food,” but not recently. She prays her little heart out. As a mama it makes my heart feel good to know she is leaning into her faith at her young age.

 find a schedule, BUT REMEMBER TO BE FLEXIBLE

Small children tend to keep you busy, but even on the weekends filling every minute of the day without leaving the house can be a challenge. Our kids have started getting up at about the same time every day. This past week was Spring break so we didn’t operate on a schedule, but now that school is back in session and at home, we have a schedule to keep us on task.

Having a schedule to look at will help my daughter adjusting and navigating to the new “normal for now” as well. We have yet to hear when her reading group will meet for their Zoom sessions, but as soon as that is announced I already have a schedule ready to print up for her.

I made a simple weekly schedule with a free Canva template and established a routine for her to follow. Each day we will get up, eat breakfast, get ready for the day, and make beds at the same time. Zoom sessions, lunch, free time, and the daily “special” are included as well. PE is typically once a week at school, but we’re doing every afternoon. Here is what I came up with:

schedule to help with navigating the new "normal for now"

I also hope to find time to complete my tasks during these time blocks she’s working on specific tasks. I’m going to do what I always do and triage my to-do list; I figure out what needs to be accomplished most in a day and focus on that.  You can read more that in the post 10 Free or Frugal Helpful Mom Hacks.

If you are a working parent who has found themselves suddenly working from home I highly recommend a schedule for you as well. Have your school-age kids

Even this past week while we’ve not been schooling we have kept busy. My husband had a few projects around the house he had taken the week off to tackle. Our kids have spent as much time outside as the weather has permitted.

MAINTAIN YOUR USUAL ROUTINES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Do you have a tendency to catch up with coworkers over a cup of coffee every morning before getting your day started? Enjoy your homebrew and still have your daily chat! FaceTime, Zoom meeting, or Skype away. Chances are your work has made use of at least one of these methods to keep in touch while everyone is out of the office.

Stick with your morning routine. Don’t try to work in your pajamas or shower at a later and later time every day that passes. Keep your usual morning routine as best you can. It’ll help keep you in a healthier frame of mind.

I may not drop a kid off for school each morning, but I shower and use my daily oils as I would if I did have to take her to school. One or two days the first week of virtual school I allowed her to do schoolwork in her pajamas. Now that we’re on a schedule with her classmates I don’t think we’ll do that anymore. It’s easier to focus and get to work if you’re dressed for the day.

STAY CONNECTED TO FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OUTSIDE YOUR FOUR WALLS

It is so easy to stay connected with all the technology we have available. I’ve found that the more we’re “online” for our daily tasks the less I want to be online. Last week my daughter was on Google Classroom two hours a day, I have blog tasks, I help with the church website, and it looks like our son’s speech therapy may also be on Zoom sessions. That’s a lot of time online. I’ve been a lot less active on social media and plan to use most of that time to educate myself. And, I’ve decided that I’d rather talk on the phone or across the fence with family.

I’ve decided that now is the time to use the power of technology to better myself and expand my knowledge; I’m researching and taking free classes online to learn more about essential oils and affiliate marketing. I’ve been reading a few ebooks. I want to do all I can do to improve my skillset and add to my family’s income while staying home.

HOW ARE YOU NAVIGATING THE NEW “NORMAL FOR NOW”?

I’d love to hear how you’re doing and if you have any tips or tricks to making this whole situation easier. I feel like people who already work from home and homeschool their children are the best prepared for this situation.

I will continue to share what we find that works for us and offer any budget assistance I can. Additionally, I will try to post more frugal recipes here on the blog. Until next time, stay frugal, healthy, and if possible at home my friends! We’ll get through this and hopefully be the better for it. I’ll be back soon.

 

 

WINGING IT: MEAL PLANNING IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

meal planning in special circumstances

HOW TO ADJUST AND ADAPT WHEN THE GROCERY STORE SHELVES ARE EMPTY AS WELL AS A LIST OF BASIC ESSENTIALS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND

I don’t know about you, but I would say we find ourselves in special circumstances at the moment in more ways than one. From self quarantines to social distancing to empty grocery store shelves, it can be hard to stick to the meal plan when what you need isn’t available. So what do you do then? What does it look like when it comes to meal planning in special circumstances?

After winging it for a few days, we’ve adapted and adjusted our expectations as well as our usual meal plan. Here is how my family is handling the meal planning situation right now.

I come up with pretty simple weekly meal plans at the beginning of every month and what I send to frugal friends on Meal Plan Mondays is typically what I cook. I’m not buying many exotic ingredients or making complicated meals.

I make what my kids will eat and our budget will allow. This doesn’t mean we eat a lot of processed junk food either. We have a few less than healthy items on the snack menu, but an overall rather healthy diet.

I keep it simple, we spend less money, and the kids actually eat. Win, win right? Well, with the current grocery situation I find myself constantly adjusting. We are by no means desperate, but I am trying to ensure that doesn’t become the case.

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS WHERE NECESSARY WHEN MEAL PLANNING IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Okay, the first rule of thumb is to not waste food. This is always the goal, but in this situation, it is more imperative. We have groceries. We have lots of unopened goodies in the cabinets to munch on. But I’m holding out.

Last week I wasn’t able to buy everything on my grocery list. That’s not a big deal; we have a modest supply of toilet paper in the cabinets to get us by and I had bought a few more pantry items after our no-spend month to build our pantry back up anyway.

So after anticipating school would be closed (it was) until at least the 30th (Spring break is next week anyway) I went into planning mode; if I can’t make it to the grocery store next week what do I need to do to ensure we make what we have lasts?

A few adjustments had to be made to the meal plan; I obviously can’t prepare meals for which ingredients were not available. I didn’t find veggie burgers our family likes at Aldi and as bad as it was at that store I knew Walmart would be even worse. So, that’s one dinner that has to be removed from the list – two weekends in a row.

I had also planned on shrimp fried rice one night, but since I wasn’t going to Walmart we just had chicken fried rice that night instead. Luckily I had already bought rice the previous week and didn’t need to wade down that aisle.

EAT THE FRESHEST AND OPENED FOODS FIRST

This may seem like a no-brainer, but try telling that to my kids! They know that there is unopened Chex mix and peanut butter cereal in the pantry. They also know they want it now. But I know we still have bagels and Cheerios from last week left. We’re eating those first.

We typically have some ramen around. Recently we’d added to our canned food stock to make an emergency kit. I do not want to open those up until the fresh vegetables and meat have been eaten. We’ve gone back to buying frozen meat and vegetables in the store in anticipation of shopping less frequently.

So yes, we technically have more options than we’re allowing ourselves, but we have fresh foods and leftovers that will spoil if we get into too many of those options too early. Does this make meals a little less boring than usual? Maybe. Do we waste less food this way? Definitely. Boring it is.

GET CREATIVE WITH RECIPES

It’s important to know what ingredients are crucial and which you can skip in a pinch if you don’t have everything the recipe calls for to fix what is on the meal plan. You can substitute lots of ingredients with just a quick Google search. No eggs? Try mayonnaise or applesauce. Most dinner dishes will be just fine if one spice or minor ingredient is missing.

Pastas are pretty interchangeable as well. It doesn’t have to be perfect when circumstances are extreme, it just has to be edible. As long as you’re putting as nutritious as possible of a meal on the table regularly try not to sweat it too much.

BUT STILL KEEP IT SIMPLE WHEN MEAL PLANNING IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Now is not the time to decide to learn elaborate new recipes that require special or hard to find ingredients you probably won’t finish. Keep it simple and basic so you are more likely to find what you need in the store or already have on hand what you need to make the dish.

It doesn’t take much to change up a meal and keep it from getting old. If you’re a creature of habit like my crew you might even take comfort in having a fairly set menu. Bonus points if most of the dishes on your menu require similar ingredients so you don’t have to add much to the list for each individual meal.

This saves not only frustration in the store when shopping during this current panic season, but money, and time as well.

meal planning in special circumstances

IF POSSIBLE SUPPORT A LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS BY ORDERING TAKEOUT

In most areas ordering takeout or delivery is still an option. If you are in a position to do so, give them some business when you can. We have made the decision to try to order takeout once a week from some of our favorite local joints, particularly the ones who have announced they’re feeding the kiddos who might not otherwise get a good meal while school is out.

We want to support these places so they can continue to do good in our area. This will also help alleviate the need to grocery shop quite as often and give me a night off from cooking. If you are financially in the place to do so and in good health I encourage you to consider doing the same.

It takes some of the stress off of you and puts money back into the local economy. It also makes meal planning in a pinch easy.

ITEMS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND OR BUY WHEN IT’S UNCERTAIN WHEN YOU’LL BE BACK AT THE STORE

You may be wondering what items you need to keep stocked in your pantry at all times. I addressed what needs to be in your emergency kit in Panic vs Preparation: a Minimalist’s Take. It’s a lot smaller list than you would think based on pictures I’ve seen recently of the panic buying that’s been taking place.

Revisit that list and tweak it for your dietary needs. Keep that food separate so it is easy to access in true weather- related emergencies. But there are also several items you should keep on hand for everyday cooking that have relatively long shelf lives and can come in handy in a pinch.

Just keep in mind that two weeks of groceries on hand is a safer bet than a few days to a week. Let that be our new rule of thumb. It will definitely make meal planning in special circumstances easier in the future.

If you do not bake often do not worry about buying every type of sugar or cocoa. If you have dietary issues the grains or other items will also change as well. Items you should typically have on hand include:

DRY/SHELF STABLE GOODS

  • vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil (or other vegetable oil of your choice)
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • cocoa powder
  • evaporated milk
  • cane sugar
  • brown sugar
  • maple syrup
  • honey
  • coffee
  • tea
  • rice (we keep brown and white)
  • pasta (we typically keep spaghetti or rotini, ramen, as well as egg noodles on hand)
  • breadcrumbs
  • crackers
  • tortillas
  • dried fruit
  • seeds (we keep flax and chia)
  • nut butter
  • old fashioned oats
  • cereal
  • broth

CANNED GOODS

  • canned beans (we don’t typically keep these)
  • canned vegetables
  • tomato paste
  • tomato sauce
  • tuna

REFRIGERATED GOODS

  • milk
  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • butter (I buy unsalted)
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • condiments of choice (mayonnaise, mustard, any sauces for your favorite recipes)

If you aren’t much for cooking and want to keep things simple and convenient, here is the list of items our church regularly asks for in our food pantry. It can make for a great in-a-pinch shopping list.

  • macaroni & cheese
  • spaghetti
  • spaghetti sauce – canned tomatoes, whole or diced, tomato sauce
  • canned meats – tuna, chicken, Spam, Vienna sausages, etc
  • canned pasta – ravioli, spaghetti & meatballs, etc
  • soups, chili, stews, chicken & dumplings
  • canned fruit or fruit cups
  • crackers
  • oatmeal
  • cereal

JUST DO THE BEST YOU CAN AND COUNT IT AS A LESSON LEARNED

I’m sure there are many of us, myself included, who aren’t quite as prepared as they assumed they would be in a situation like this. By the time we realized we might need to be it was happening and people panicked.

Nothing good comes from panic. It can be easy to resort to fear, but let’s avoid that. We’ll all benefit from taking a deep breath and calmly assessing the situation. Don’t buy more than you need. Don’t buy more than you can eat.

And in the future, should anything prevent us from going to the grocery store we will be much more prepared to handle meal planning in special circumstances.

When we come out on the other side of this I think the world is going to look a little different. I think our approach to preparation and savings and community will all be different. I’m hopeful that that turns out to be a good thing.

 

 

(MOSTLY) SCREEN-FREE FRUGAL OR FREE IN-HOME ENTERTAINMENT

free or frugal in-home entertainment ideas

BECAUSE MOST OF MY THANKSGIVING BREAK OPTIONS AREN’T REALLY FEASIBLE RIGHT NOW…

Whether you’re home on Spring break or self-isolating here are several (mostly) screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment options ways to keep your family occupied.

We have Spring break in a week and local schools are now closed until at least the following week.  I have a great post on How to Keep the Kids Entertained Thanksgiving Break, but a lot of those items aren’t exactly ideal options right now given the current coronavirus pandemic. This list is for me and my family just as much as it is for yours!

Here is my “don’t go crazy in March” post. And, since we’re keeping it #MinimalistInMarch, I’m trying not to get too complicated. Since our schedule hasn’t permitted much gym time for me we decided to cancel that and get Disney +; we considered it just before Christmas break and then talked ourselves out of it.

In light of that new subscription and all the viewing possibilities opened up (we don’t have cable, Hulu, or Netflix), I decided to brainstorm some screen-free activities we could do at home over Spring break. As our local parks are small and mostly play equipment centered we will likely be avoiding them for the most part.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

(MOSTLY) SCREEN FREE IN-HOME ENTERTAINMENT IDEAS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILy

1. Break out the games

free or frugal in-home entertainment ideas

All the games. We have slowly been building our collection since our oldest started school. We currently own Yeti in My Spaghetti, Trouble, Hoot Owl Hoot, and Candyland to name a few (our oldest is just 6.5)

There are also have a few decks of cards as well as Uno so Go Fish might happen a little more than I like to admit. As I work on this post I’ve already played two rounds. On a Sunday afternoon.

We considered buying another game or two on Amazon before the two weeks are up. I am specifically interested in adding games our 2.5-year-old can play too, since he typically wants to get involved, but doesn’t understand most games just yet. A classic like Don’t Break the Ice would be nice.

But, we have since put a pin in that as it would likely require a special trip to a store following Amazon’s announcement that they were suspending non-essential shipments in order to keep up with household and medical supply orders.

2. PULL OUT THE ART SUPPLIES

Last year when our house was finished a full roll of brown contractor paper was left behind. I plan to unroll that the full length of the dining table and let the kids go to town on it for a bit. That should keep them busy for a few minutes. We might even design our own board game to play while we’re at it.

I also have a small collection of pipe cleaners and pom-pons to pull out and let the oldest’s imagination take over for a bit. I’m holding back on this one for a few days, just because I don’t have an unlimited supply of these things and she’s young enough she wants to sit down and use it all in one sitting

3. READING

This is one of the free or frugal in-home entertainment options that might not be entirely screen-free. While we have a rather large selection of books for the kids, most of my reading will be done on my tablet checking out e-books.

I originally planned to go to the public library early on in Spring break and loading up on books to read throughout the week, but figure we’ll sit it out. As of right now, the library is still open but the programs are all suspended. Just the same, I think we’ll sit it out this time.

free or frugal in-home entertainment

4. DECLUTTER THE HOUSE (AGAIN)!

I know, I just did some of this a week ago, but hey, I’m sure being in the house 24/7 for a while will reveal even more unneeded items! I’m more than happy to go for another round of decluttering!

If you haven’t gotten started or if you just did a quick run-through of a few rooms when you found a spare minute, get to work on it now! You may be amazed at what you find hiding in the closet or at the very back of the shelf.

5. AFTER YOU’VE DECLUTTERED, TACKLE THAT SPRING CLEANING

Don’t tell me you’re surprised to see this one after how much I’ve talked about it on the blog and YouTube channel this month for Minimalist in March?! This is one of those things that those who typically work outside the house never have time for.

Well, you’re home, and suddenly you have all the time in the world, so get cleaning! Granted, if your kids are anything like mine no one would believe you had cleaned your house if you didn’t make a YouTube video that proved it.

I actually have more cleaning to do. You’ll know I didn’t get my cleaning supplies replenished in time if the Spring Clean With Me: Bathroom Edition video isn’t currently up on YouTube (this post was written in advance).

6. GET OUTSIDE

If you are fortunate to have an outdoor space to yourself take full advantage! We happen to have a rather large yard, playset, and some outdoor toys. I plan to get out of the house with the kids to play in the yard as much as weather permits.

Right now it’s rather muddy with more rain on the forecast, but a cool clear day still allows us to take a walk down the driveway. Fun fact; six trips up and down the driveway is roughly a mile. If I start pacing at least I’ll get my steps in for the day!

I also plan to dig out the sidewalk chalk and see if we have any bubbles. Simple activities like this can provide several minutes of entertainment. When your kids are as young as mine are, that’s a good chunk of time!

7. STAY CONNECTED WITH TECHNOLOGY

This one requires a screen as well, but this is one of those times technology comes in really handy. We had planned to visit my daughter’s old Children’s Church teacher over Christmas break, but her husband had pneumonia and was transported to the hospital the morning we planned to visit.

I will be reaching out to our dear Miss Linda and asking if she would be up for a FB or Skype chat with the kiddos over Spring break. I might even do this with a few other moms I’d planned to arrange play dates with that likely won’t happen now. Let’s be honest, sometimes the play dates are for the moms just as much if not more than they are for the kids.

8. PRACTICE A LITTLE SELF-CARE AT HOME

This mama is seriously considering taking a nice, long relaxing bath one night after the kids go to bed one night (as soon as I get their tub cleaned) and just taking a moment. Maybe paint your nails or even wash your hair if it’s been a few days.

It doesn’t really matter what you choose. It might even be another item from this list you just do on your own, but just make sure you take a bit of time to take care of yourself. Not only is it good for your mental and emotional health, but it’s also better in the long run on everyone else in the house.

If you need some ideas or recipes, check out Self Care for Mamas: Self Care on a Dime or maybe 10 Frugal or Free Mom Hacks to help get you through. I just might have to reread those myself!

a little self care

9. GET SOME LEARNING IN WHILE YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME

Take in a podcast or two, read a book, or do an online search on a subject you’re interested in, but haven’t taken the time to research. Just because you’re not able to get out and about doesn’t mean you can’t learn.

You can get a good start on learning a foreign language in a week or two’s time if you find the right program for you. There are lots of free courses online on an endless amount of subject matter to check out and expand your knowledge with while you’re stuck at home. This isn’t a screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment idea, but it is a beneficial one.

10. CATCH UP ON SEWING PROJECTS

Or, if you don’t know how to sew learn! Have a pile of mending that’s been waiting for your attention? Now is a great time to take care of it. I myself have a stack of leggings with torn knees I plan to cut off into shorts for my daughter. Next week seems like a great time to tackle this project.

If I’m feeling brave and patient enough, I might even use it as a basic sewing lesson for my daughter if she’s interested. Those are two big ifs, but it is a possibility!

Maybe you learned how to knit or crochet but need to improve your skills? Pull those needles out and get knitting! Learn a new stitch if you just want a challenge.

11. TACKLE SOME PROJECTS AROUND THE HOUSE YOU’VE BEEN PUTTING OFF

Have some picture frames that have been propped up against the wall or in a closet for a while? I know I do. What about a painting project you have all the supplies for but haven’t started yet?

Maybe you’ve thought about rearranging furniture in one particular room (or every room) of the house. Well, you’ve got some time now. Get some cleaning done under and behind that furniture while you’re at it and tick two items off the list at the same time!

This is also a great time to organize the garage and prep for an early summer yard sale if you’ve been planning one. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to park the car back in there by the time you’re able to get back out of the house! That might be nice.

12. PLAN OUT THAT SPRING GARDEN YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED

You can do lots of research on planting times in your zone as well as pick a good spot, write out your list of items you want to plant, and figure out the layout of your garden without a trip to the farm and garden supply.

Heck, if you’re feeling good and have the tools already you can even start prepping that garden spot. When you’re able to venture out you’ll have your shopping list together and be ready to get that garden in the ground.

13. MAKE UP A GAME WITH THE KIDS

Or find a new way to play an old favorite; just last week in the car our daughter came up with an interesting way to play tic-tac-toe. She and my husband played verbally, only picturing the game board in their minds. It was a much greater challenge and made her think a little harder than when she plays on paper.

You might even teach the kids a few games you played as a kid to pass the time they’ve never heard of.

14. GET BAKING

Chances are there was no bread last time you went to the grocery store. No worries, it’s really easy to make with a few simple ingredients. I even have a recipe for you! I need to get a loaf baked this week and I might as well have the kids help me do it.

If your kids are old enough and you’re feeling brave,  set them loose in the kitchen and see what use it up meals they can come up with! This is a good way to use up items before they expire or go through more before making another grocery run.

You can also make a few dishes and freeze them for later when everything is running on regularly scheduled programming again. Your future self will likely thank you for being so thoughtful! It’ll also save you some money from what might otherwise turn into a takeout order.

If you ordered a few too many random perishable items because you were not prepared for the grocery shopping experience in the first two weeks of March then this is a great way to reduce the risk of food spoiling; get some freezer meals made.

Not a great cook? Looks like you’ve found the time to change that. This screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment sure sounds like a tasty one to try!

free or frugal in-home entertainment

15. WORK ON YOUR HUSTLE WHILE YOU’RE AT HOME

Here is a screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment idea that might actually earn you some cash. Devote the much needed time to your existing side hustle or find a new one. There are lots of opportunities to earn an income from home.

Now is a great time to look into them. I’m usually home, but this one I might accomplish less of with two kids instead of one home all day.

At least I got a week ahead on posts! This will take a little pressure off this week at least. We shall see how many posts happen next week! All jokes aside, I don’t plan on slowing down with the blog. I may just have to get more creative with my “working” hours in the next few weeks.

16. DIG INTO YOUR FAITH… OR (RE)DISCOVER IT

I don’t know about you, but I don’t devote near enough time to cultivating my relationship with God. Lately, I have been reading a selection of CS Lewis’ works during Lent in preparation for Easter, but haven’t exactly been consistent with it. I need to get consistent.

This week marked the first Sunday we didn’t attend church services due to the current health situation. I was very fortunate to be able to watch the church service on Facebook that afternoon when the youngest went down for a nap.

It is nice to be able to plug into a community when I can’t physically worship with them. Whether you typically worship in church or not I encourage you to plug into your faith or really seek to find your faith. It is always a reassuring feeling to be able to connect to and rely on a higher power to see you through uncertain times. I think the current situation definitely applies!

17. REVISIT OLD HOBBIES

So many of us have hobbies we have given up on or neglected due to other obligations and just… life. Why not brush off the dust and pick it back up? It may be sports equipment from your pre-kid beer league days or just a frisbee you can use with the kids in the yard.

Maybe you have some workout videos (or a whole in-home gym maybe?), jewelry making, or crossword puzzles. Or that scrapbook you never finished. Pull it out! Work on it! Have some fun!

Who knows? This might become a lucrative side hustle once you’re out of the house?! Lots of people do not have time to put together their own scrapbooks or love giving handmade jewelry as gifts. This is one screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment idea that might actually reignite an old passion project!

18. REMEMBER THOSE LESS FORTUNATE

It’s really easy to feel sorry for ourselves when faced with new and unusual circumstances, but I can’t imagine the stress families whose children rely on school meals must feel right now with school out for an indeterminate amount of time.

Pick up the phone or get online and make a monetary donation if at all possible to a local food bank or charity. I know our local food banks were hurting before the panic buying set in and limited supplies at stores.

Call your neighbors and make sure they have enough toilet paper. Offer to leave some on their doorstep if they don’t. Check-in on people who might not be handling the situation as well. Give them your ear for a bit.

Nothing makes you count your blessings quite like spending time with the less fortunate. Maybe make it online or over the phone in this case. Tithe on a regular basis? Go online and see if your church or favorite local charity offers safe online donations.

19. GIVE YOUR CURRENT CAREER AN HONEST ASSESSMENT

Do you really love what you do? If you separate the work from the coworkers are you just there for the people? Maybe you love what you do but realize after removing yourself from the office for a few weeks you work in a somewhat toxic environment.

It may be time to brush off the old resume and rethink your career track, or maybe just your current place of employment. You may find you are perfectly happy and content to be where you are too.

That’ll make you count your blessings. Be sure to consider what opportunities for advancement are available with your current place of employment and whether or not that is acceptable in the long run.

20. GET UP AND GO TO BED ON A SOMEWHAT REGULAR SCHEDULE

This tip isn’t technically an entertainment tip, more of a survival one. If you’re like me and your kids are typically up by the crack of dawn, don’t beat yourself up for sleeping in once or twice. It rarely happens around here, so I’ll take it when I get it! You should too, within reason.

Don’t keep the kids up much later in hopes they stay asleep longer. Speaking from experience, it almost never works. You’re setting yourself up for an even harder day. Get to bed at a decent time yourself every night too.

With school transferring to virtual classrooms, we are sticking to a schedule with course work as well for our school-aged child. This should give the days a sense of normalcy and routine more than just reacting to the day.

ABOVE ALL, DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF

It isn’t easy feeling stuck at home, even when you’re a full-time parent. Be sure to give yourself some grace in this situation. Yes, the kids may end up in front of a computer or TV screen more than is usually acceptable, but just remember, this isn’t a usual circumstance.

Do what you have to do to keep your sanity during this little break from regularly scheduled programming. It’s not a bad idea to evaluate your regularly scheduled programming and count your blessings or reflect on areas you’d like to improve.

Above all, don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you need it in a safe, responsible manner. Feel free to vent on social media, send the occasional “send wine!” tweet, or just be honest when someone asks how you’re doing.

Hopefully, this list of 20 mostly screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment ideas was helpful. If anything else, I just want to tell you, “Hey, you’ve got this!”

you've got this

MINIMALISM AND SCHEDULING OUR TIME – GUEST POST!

minimalism and scheduling our time

Today’s post is a guest post from Ana of  Goatdog Simple. I am so excited that Ana is the first guest blogger for a Life on a Dime! She was one of the first bloggers I connected with. She has been very supportive and I am very honored she wrote a post for my blog. Here are Ana’s thoughts on minimalism and scheduling our time.

MINIMALISM AND SCHEDULING OUR TIME

About five years ago, I straightened up our finances and we paid off our mortgage. Life suddenly felt better. I had tidied up our money clutter and this gradually eased us into minimalism. Somehow, simplifying one area of our lives had a far-reaching effect in our home. It was that same year around Halloween that I tackled our physical clutter and eliminated many items my kids had outgrown. Letting go of stuff made me think about how my family’s lifestyle was changing—how we were finding minimalism and scheduling our time.

Back then, I would assemble the annual Halloween parade in our neighborhood. Picture a banner, a gathering of jittery costumed kids, a fun group photo and the official start of candy gathering as the bunch trots down our main street.

This role was passed down to me and, after four years, I was no longer excited about it. My kids were heading into middle school and not interested in participating. I realized that it was time to let this task go. This made me revisit my calendar and reevaluate how I was spending my time.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

I’m a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I made financial sacrifices to make this arrangement work. I’ve been active in my kids’ schools volunteering in everything from field trips to fundraisers. I did this because it was important to me and to my kids. What I discovered while making some changes was that I wasn’t considering the value of my time. I needed to define my priorities and schedule my time in a mindful way.

I decisively handed off my Halloween duties to another mom and it felt great. She was excited to take over and it made me realize we should do what inspires us and let go of what no longer does.

take an honest look at your schedule

 For starters, scrutinize your calendar. Look at your routines and ongoing responsibilities. Are you spending your time productively to reach your goals? Do you still want to give your time to certain commitments? Are you doing things you enjoy?

There’s a good chance you’re doing an abundance of busywork that leaves you exhausted and not feeling like you’re making strides when it comes to the quality of life you envision. I know because I was keeping a little too busy. Take some steps to redistribute your efforts.

prioritize your goals

Our time is limited and invaluable. If we start from this perspective, it’s difficult to squander it on meaningless tasks or wasted efforts.  Think about your priorities. Your time should be filled with your life’s plans, relationships you care about and those moments that have meaning for you. Of course, we all have work obligations and other factors that we can’t eliminate. But, there is a lot we do control and can shape to fit the life we’d like to be living.

Once I started to prioritize my scheduling, I made changes that allowed more time for things that mattered most to me. Then, I would check if I had room for smaller things that came up. I’ve also kept in mind that free space in my schedule is a must. I have the option to add something or relax and enjoy the unstructured time.

decide what you are willing to give up

You can’t do everything and you shouldn’t have to. Clutter interferes with our physical space and it does the same to our schedule. We tend to do too many meaningless tasks that don’t help us move forward with our goals. You need to revisit your commitments and place value on those that are truly important to you. Minimalism is about choosing what’s essential to your life’s path.

One thing I no longer do is attend every school meeting. I went to one under a torrential downpour, struggled to find parking. Once in my seat, the teacher introduced herself, mentioned the online course she would be teaching and asked us to email her our children’s information. She was available to answer questions for anyone who wanted to stay. It was a quick five-minute talk. I picked up a class syllabus on my way out which she later sent to us by email.

What was the point of attending such a meeting?

minimalism and scheduling our time

LEARN TO SAY “NO.”

Prioritizing your time means having to say “no” to things that don’t serve you. This may not be easy but it’s a way of maintaining control of your time. And not making everything a must. You need to decide what deserves your time and what things you can pass up. There are things that you may need to do but pay attention to how often your schedule has commitments that you had the option to opt-out of.

My schedule included many volunteer commitments that I realized filled up my day and had me scrambling to get my other tasks done. I don’t have to volunteer all my free time. I’ve decided on a few hours a month and I choose what projects merit my time or I feel will be rewarding.

WHAT YOUR SCHEDULE COULD LOOK LIKE

Think about how you’d like to run your schedule. You’re in control. What will your week include? How will you spend your time and what do you want to accomplish? A few areas to consider–

  • Work/productive hours
  • Family time
  • Socializing
  • Self-care
  • Hobbies
  • Volunteering

Mindful choices and scheduling our time carefully can help us find balance in our lives. My schedule is weighted equally with a mix of productivity and purpose that I have welcomed into my life. Weekdays include housework, errands, writing, exercise and time with my family. Weekends are for family and friends, hobbies, venturing out to new places and quiet downtime.

THE TAKEAWAY

 You are in charge of your time. Choose wisely how you spend your days. Minimalism is about removing what doesn’t serve you and making room for those things that do. Don’t allow overscheduling and tedious, time-consuming tasks to rob you of the life you could be living.

Take some time now to revisit your schedule. Just as we clean out our closets and make room for what’s necessary, it’s important to work into our calendar productivity, social connections and good times.

Your time is yours to live. Use it well.

MUST-READ MINIMALIST POST ROUND-UP

minimalism post round-up

HELPFUL POSTS ON DECLUTTERING & ORGANIZATION TO GET YOU MOTIVATED THIS MONTH!

We all love a good declutter and organization! Well, I do at least! Here is a great minimalist post round-up to help you get your spring cleaning on! Or just help you get a little more organized. Whatever floats your boat; I’m here to help, not judge. If you are up for a full declutter or just want to organize your clutter a little better these posts are sure to help. And, it’ll introduce you to some great bloggers. Win-win right?! Okay, here goes – this is my 2020 must-read minimalist post round-up! That’s a mouth full!

MINIMALIST POST ROUND-UP

Here are some great posts from around the blogosphere to give you advice and insight into minimalism as well as tips on getting decluttered and organized.

MINIMALISM IN GENERAL

DECLUTTERING POST ROUND-UP

ORGANIZATION POST ROUND-UP

minimalist post round-up

minimalist in march continues!

Did you catch yesterday’s YouTube video? It’s part one of two in my Spring Clean with me mini-series! In this post, I tackled the kitchen, living, and dining areas. If you get a chance go check it out and show it some love with likes and comments! 

Be on the lookout for a guest post from Ana at Goatdog Simple Tuesday morning! And be sure to use the #MinimalistInMarch on social media so I’ll see your decluttering and organization progress and be sure to include it in my stories! 

Until next time, stay frugal and minimal my friends!

THE MINIMALIST’S SPRING TO-DO LIST

.minimalist's spring to-do list

GET READY FOR SPRING WITH THIS MINIMAL LIST

I am really excited about warmer weather, sunshine, and a good spring-cleaned house. #MinimalistInMarch continues on a Life on a Dime! I just did a good declutter, which you can watch on the YouTube channel, and have been working on my To-Do list for spring. This post is all about this minimalist’s spring To-Do list!

Not surprisingly, items from the Minimalist’s Pre-Holiday To-Do List are making an appearance on my spring list. If you want the full checklist to print out then be sure to sign up as a frugal friend and it’ll be yours! If you’re already a frugal friend it’s coming your way shortly!

Now let’s get down to it! I’m sharing all about how this minimalist is getting ready for spring now!

A GOOD DECLUTTER

I’ve already gotten a good start on this one! I plan to do a quick run-through of the kitchen and laundry room as well as more of our room this week.  

We recently bought a new mattress (I may share more on this in a post next month), and had finally been able to deflate the air bed (long story, for another post – or check out my Instagram post on the matter). We need to get that stored in the attic and find a new purpose or home for the old topper. I couldn’t keep kids off of it so it is just hanging out in our room taking up space. 

We’ve also had toddler bed pieces taking up space for a few months now since transitioning little man to a twin. He wasn’t having it on the tiny bed anymore. It will be rehomed with my best friend for her littlest one. It’s at the top of my list to get together with her and pass it on along with some of the decluttered clothes from the kids.

Minimalist’S SPRING To-Do list: declutter leads to a resale shop visit and thrift store donation

The clothes my friend doesn’t take will be designated as resale or donation items. I will take what I have to the resale shop for store credit on spring clothes for the kids. After decluttering it became painfully obvious my daughter needs short-sleeved shirts, sweaters for Sunday dresses, and pajamas. 

Little man will need shorts and lightweight pants as well as shoes. His boots have held up well, but he outgrew his tennis shoes. What the resale shop doesn’t take will be dropped off at the donation center. 

A GOOd CLEAN!

I need to clean pretty much all the things and check filters. The latter task I am not so good at doing, so I’m adding it to my checklist!  

I start at the top and work my down going room to room by category. I like to clean both bathrooms in one sweep, the bedrooms in one go, and the living areas together. I’ll include more of the details in the checklist and have a YouTube video up next Thursday showing the process as well as recipes for what I use! 

I love having a deep-cleaned home. It gets tidied up several times a week, but a good deep-clean doesn’t happen as often as I like. Deep-cleaning usually happens on a seasonal basis. Be on the lookout for a Clean With Me video coming soon on the YouTube channel!

MINIMALIST’S SPRING TO-DO LIST: PANTRY CLEANOUT AND RESTOCK

We tend to eat differently in the winter months than in the spring and summer months, so typical items in the pantry change a bit; winter months we eat warmer, heartier meals like soups and a few more casseroles. In the spring and summer months, we eat more salads, fresh vegetables, and it’s somewhat lighter fare. I also like to cook some turkey, salmon, or veggie burgers more often in the spring and summer. 

It’s a good idea to go through the pantry and check the labels on foods once in a while. I think this is a great time to do this. Sometimes when we have veggie scraps for the compost pile I toss them in the freezer to deal with later. I recently pulled them out and went through the fridge contents. Then I made a quick trip outside to the compost heap. I  also discovered two partial bags of noodles in the cabinet that needed to be consolidated. Now I can use them up before I open a new bag. I wondered where all the bag clips had gone!

Aside from the changing menu affecting the pantry, as I explained in Panic vs Preparation: a Minimalist’s Take we are also slowly building our emergency kit and keeping more nonperishables on hand than we typically would (we don’t eat a lot of canned vegetables).  So not only have I been adding a bit more produce on the grocery list I’ve bought bottled water (which, if you have read 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money On you know I don’t typically use them) and a few more shelf-stable items the last two trips to the grocery store. 

LET SOME FRESH AIR IN AND GET OUTSIDE!

It is nice to not rely on central heat or air conditioning and enjoy a fresh breeze coming in through the house for a while. I like to get some of that winter stuffy air out and enjoy crisp spring air… for a little bit at least. I also don’t want a bunch of pollen inside setting off allergies. 

I have some outdoor-loving kids and while I’ve never been outdoorsy per-se I do love the kids entertaining themselves without large messes and almost anything that involves no mess in the house, screen time, or spending money is a win in my book. So we’ll be soaking up some more vitamin D than we have been and enjoying the warmer weather.

We also have plans to get a garden in this year so we’ll have to do quite a bit of work to make that happen. We haven’t had a garden in three years so I am so excited about the possibility of getting a few veggies as well as a variety of greens in the ground.

WHAT’S ON YOUR SPRING TO-DO LIST?

Do you have a list of chores or cleaning you do every spring? I love releasing some clutter and cleaning up what’s left periodically; it’s so much easier to clean and maintain when there’s less stuff! And remember, if you do any decluttering and share on social media be sure to use #MinimalistInMarch! I’ll share it in my stories! I love a good declutter!

Until next time stay frugal and minimal my friends! Good luck with your spring cleaning!  

minimalist's spring to-do list

PREPARATION VS PANIC – A MINIMALIST’S TAKE

panic vs preparation

PANIC VS PREPARATION: OBSERVATIONS MADE AT THE GROCERY STORE

Today, like most Thursdays, I attempted to do my grocery shopping. Ninety-five percent of our groceries come from discount grocery chain Aldi. The other five percent that isn’t available or satisfactory from Aldi I get at Walmart. I attempted to purchase items from the Walmart portion of the list today and was shocked. What I saw (or rather didn’t see) made me think about the concept of panic vs preparation; I see a major difference between sufficient preparation for an emergency and all-out panicking and buying a year’s supply of everything. Here are my thoughts and observations on the matter.

First I want to emphasize that I am not a health care provider and this is in no way to be considered medical advice. That being said, on with the post.

SOME DEGREE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IS ESSENTIAL

Recent events with the current outbreak prompted a conversation with my husband. We’ve talked about getting an emergency kit together but haven’t done it yet. This would be the preparation end of panic vs preparation. This need was further emphasized by the recent tornado in Nashville.

According to ready.gov, the typical home emergency kit should include

  • three days worth of water – one gallon a day for drinking and sanitation per person
  • a three day supply of non-perishable food
  • flashlight
  • battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • first aid kit
  • extra batteries
  • whistle to signal for help
  • dust mask that filters contaminated air
  • moist towelettes, garbage bags, and ties for sanitation
  • wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • manual can food opener
  • local maps
  • cell phone chargers and backup battery

Again, you can download the supply list and check out their additional supply suggestions at ready.gov. Additional items for those with medical/health needs are included in the additional items list. There are also helpful suggestions about what to keep on hand at work and in your car.  And, I would like to note that a six month supply of toilet paper is not on the list.

I have made a point as of late to buy one or two items on this list each trip to the store. I believe in being prepared, but I also believe in my budget. I’m not going to wreck it sheerly out of panic.

PANIC VS PREPARATION – THE FLIP SIDE

So there’s being prepared, for a general emergency as I stated above, and then there’s panic. Now we’re going to talk about panic. Panic is what I saw signs of all over Walmart even though the shoppers all seemed calm. There is absolutely no hand sanitizer at the Supercenter. Not one bottle in any size or formulation. There also isn’t much hand soap. I realized this just wandering through the store looking for items on my list. Out of curiosity I even asked an associate where the hand sanitizer was since I saw no empty holes where it should be and was told they’re completely out.

My in-laws are retired and recently talked to an associate at their regular pharmacy. Face masks are currently hard to find in our area as well. People are worried. The concern is probably warranted, but panic is not. I don’t believe panic helps anyone. In fact, in this case, panic is hurting people who need to use face masks and hand sanitizers due on a daily basis due to suppressed or low immune systems.

I was shocked that the multivitamin aisle had a lot of empty spots, and not just the Vitamin C and other expected items like Emergen-C. In the grocery section, there was no bread flour to be found. I’m used to not getting my brand of choice, but something is usually in stock. I try to make my own bread on a weekly basis. We have pizza at home every week. Bread flour is best for these uses, yet there was none in stock whatsoever.  All throughout the store, there were seemingly random empty spots of sold-out items.

problems arise when people panic

I’m not sure why, but any time snow, or rain, or a virus, or severe storms are predicted people line up at the stores to buy a year’s supply of milk, bread, eggs, and a toilet paper. I exaggerate somewhat, but I’ve seen the empty shelves and heard from friends that toilet paper in our area is already becoming a bit of a hot commodity (thank goodness I bought a pack last week).

People need to realize that when you buy additional perishable goods in case of emergency, chances are ( and thank God) that emergency won’t come. News channels feed the panic and then report product shortages said panic caused. I’ve seen it play out on what little television I’ve seen lately and it really disturbs me.

Take a deep breath and think before you buy twelve packages each of toilet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels. And really, why in 2020 are we still blowing through paper towels as we do? I stopped buying them, and I really don’t miss them. In fact, there’s a partial roll under the sink for really icky don’t want to throw in the wash messes, and I haven’t touched it in almost a  year. I touched on this in 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money On by the way. I like to think it’s my most popular post ever for a reason.

panic vs preparation

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS DURING THE 2020 CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK

If you feel scared or panicked about the 2020 coronavirus outbreak please get informed before making any rash decisions. I have family members and friends in the healthcare industry and they tend to think the concern is overblown by the media. If you’re in the US, ignore the news and go straight to the CDC Coronavirus Disease page. It has all the information you need to make informed decisions.

If you are near an affected area or live close to any international airports or large cities where viruses tend to spread more quickly it seems to be advised to have a two week supply of household essentials on hand. My minimalist heart can deal with this quite easily. You don’t need to bankrupt yourself to have two weeks of essentials on hand. If you don’t want to take just my word for it on the matter refer to the CDC link in the above paragraph or check out the below list of linked articles and posts discussing the issue.

USEFUL LINKS

CDC Coronavirus Info

Preparing for COVID-19 from A Dime Saved

CDC Emergency Preparedness Recommendations

Is It Hard to Get the Straight Info on Coronavirus from This is Life Mental Health Blog

panic vs preparation: takeaways

Please remember if you’re a mostly healthy individual shopping for a mostly healthy individual household not to go overboard when at the stores. If more people slowed down and got informed before they raided the shelves at the store not only would they save money and spare their budget (not to mention potential food waste from overstocking), they’d help prevent a shortage on products for the people who need them most every day.

I will continue to work on our emergency kit by purchasing a few items every week. My husband was given a hand-crank radio a few weeks ago and we have plenty of flashlights. I started buying water and additional canned food.

My prayers are with those under quarantine, and my hopes are that I am able to finish off my regular grocery list today. It’s a first-world problem, I know, and it makes me truly appreciate what I have. While I always appreciate my family’s health, I truly do now. Please be mindful and save, even be prepared, but do not panic.

I’ll be back Monday with the newsletter for frugal friends and will have a new post up Tuesday.  This wasn’t my planned post, but I will get that one out as well. #MinimalistInMarch continues, most recently with a Declutter With Me video on YouTube. Until next time, stay frugal and healthy my friends!