Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to be content with less...

Recently I came across this post... my thoughts are in purple and green.
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How To Be Content With Less

by Crystal on February 27, 2012
The following is a guest post from Tessa of The Recreational Word Slinger
Before I got married, I used to buy anything and everything I wanted when I went shopping. I was working part-time, going to school, and indulging my every want. You can imagine the shock that I experienced when I was married and had to stop buying things for myself!
I struggled with “little” purchases when I would visit Target or Kohl’s every now and then. I told myself that this $10 top or book would not affect our budget much, so I would stick it in my cart and go on my merry way. As you know, that type of thinking is dangerous. Those small, insignificant purchases tend to add up over time to one significant deficit in the budget.
After the concept of spending cash only was introduced in our marriage, I realized that I was much more satisfied with having less than I originally thought was possible.

Here are 3 ideas that can help you be content with less:

1. Expect less.
Stop expecting to buy something every time you run an errand. I was so guilty of this before we switched to using cash. I would think that I deserved a little treat for having to get out and grocery shop or run errands. Direct your thinking towards expecting less.
2. Ignore the urge for more, more, more.
This is easier said than done in today’s society. We are constantly bombarded with different advertisements telling us that we need more. We have to retrain how we listen to or pay attention to such ads. When you become immune to advertising, you might find that your desire for more decreases.
3. Look at what you do have.
This idea is by far the one that has helped me get over my obsession with stuff. One way to do this is by verbally thanking our Creator for what He has given us. When I am more mindful of the blessings that I have been given, then I find that I am less mindful of my humanistic desire for more.

I'm slowly learning this concept. It's been a LOOONG transition.
Mike and I knew each other and worked together for about a year before we started dating. He told me later, That he told himself he would never date me because of how spoiled I was. {How did that work out for you Mike?}
I don't think the phrase "From the other side of the rail road tracks" could even begin to describe the different worlds we grew up in.

Because of the way we were raised, We have had different outlooks on money. And only recently in the past couple of years, have we come to be on the same page with our finances. We have taken the mistakes we've made in our short marriage, and learned from them, and have made significant changes in the way we run our finances. We are not perfect. However, We have made a constant effort to set our finances in order.
Let me share a few things that I think have made it easier for us. And May I add that these things can be done on any budget, You just have to revisit your priorities, And distinguish true NEEDS Vs. Wants.

We prioritize. Take the things that have to be paid, and knock them out. Chip away a little at a time if that's all you can, But if you have debts that need to be paid, Do without other luxuries, Cable TV is a luxury, So is a flat screen, So are restaurants,  So are new clothes. If you owe money to someone or something, Make it your priority to get out of that bondage. 

 We have become content with less. It didn't happen over night. And yes, There are still some things we may "want" But we don't want them more than we want financial freedom, and we have learned to say "NO" to ourselves, to each other,  and even harder, We have learned to say no to our children. They have sufficient for their needs and they will be better people for learning that they don't get or need everything they want. 

We have automatic savings. This is Essential. Mike's work doesn't match his 401k, So we have had to be aggressive in the way that we save for our retirement. It comes out automatically and we don't even have to make the choice of paying it or not. It's been made for us. We also have a certain amount of money come out of every one of mikes checks. It goes to a separate account that we do have access to, But it isn't easy access. We do not have a debit card or checks to it. Honestly, That is probably one of the smartest & easiest things we did. 

We do have a credit card, However, The maximum limit is $1,000, {Which we rarely reach.} It is only used for online purchases, And it is paid off every month. I will never have a credit limit more than that. It is way too easy to spend on a credit card, and it is SO hard to catch up if you get behind. Just learn to wait until you can pay cash for it. If you can't pay cash for it, AND still have your 6 month emergency fund, You can't afford it. I don't care if it's a dollar. You can't afford it, and you have to learn to recognize and be okay with that.

We do not try to keep up with the Jones'. If I don't have money to go to dinner, I say, "I don't have money for that." I'm not ashamed, I've got bigger fish to fry, Like a 15 year mortgage.  I Don't care how much money my neighbors or friends have, Or rather, How much debt they can rack up. I don't care that I drive a mini van and not a Lexus SUV, {Okay, Maybe that one still stings a little bit, But I don't want that payment, So it really is okay and I don't mind} I don't care that I don't have one of every designer handbag. I'm not here to impress anyone but the Lord, And I promise you, he doesn't care one lick about a Coach purse, But you better believe that store room that is filled with food to feed my family... He's impressed with that. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top 12 reasons not to have food storage... And paper towels.

I'm still here. When we switched internet providers, The internet was out for a few days. Comcast is terrible, and has quite possibly the worst customer service ever.
Any how, life is good. Life is busy, stressful and chaotic, but wonderful. We are making progress in our housing situation, nothing in stone yet. but getting closer. however, It has become real to me that in a short while, we are going to have to come up with a good bit of money for a down payment, and furniture, and all the little things that add up and that you forget to account for. And so the purse strings have been really tight. And by tight I mean, no money was being spent. I was starting to go a bit crazy, There's still something inside of me that loves the thrill of spending money, I was starting to miss it...
We got our tax return last week and so I felt like splurging just a bit... I went to Costco and bought toilet paper and paper towels. {we've been out of paper towels for 2 weeks and I'm too cheap to take any money out of the bank to buy paper towels} I had miscalculated how many packs we would go through before my next Costco trip, So we did without. Who would have thought that paper towels are a luxury item? Not the old me that's for sure.
I also bought the kids much needed new clothes, and cringed at the thought of spending the money. My mom had to talk me into buying my son new shorts. He has one pair. And a pair of jeans with holes. He needed them. But it didn't make it any easier to spend the money.
Well, All of this brings me to my point. While we have been in no spending mode, We have been eating almost exclusively from our 3 month supply. Rice, beans, wheat, pasta, etc.
I was reading the ensign, and came across this article.
I love this line "We made an effort to live on less. We separated our wants and needs by determining if items were essential or simply nice to have." 
Paper towels, are just nice to have, not a necessity, A regular dish towel does the job, it just means a bit more laundry for me, But shoot, whats a few more towels in that massive pile anyways? 
Because we have our food supply in order, it has allowed us to save the money that we are going to need instead of having to buy so many groceries. 
A 3 month storage of food and an adequate savings emergency fund, is not going to build itself. We are responsible for making it a priority. And we are responsible for making sure the needs of our children are provided for should hardships arise. I will go without a new pair of shoes, a big tv, new purses, and whatever else, Just to make sure my children will always be provided for. I've been in the situation where we had little more than condiments in our fridge, and didn't have any clue how we were going to pay to keep the heat on in the middle of winter. Those situations easily could have been avoided had we prepared ourselves adequately. That situation was the consequence of US not preparing ourselves. NOT the Lord allowing us to suffer. He had given us council that had we followed, could have prepared us to have sufficient for our needs. But we had ignored the council. The Lord was extremely generous to slothful servants as ourselves. We never went hungry and always had a roof over our heads. He very well could have said, "You should have listened my child, I want to help you, But you have to face the consequences of your choices. Now you will go hungry." 

Now, a bit of humor. Thank you Brian Larkin for finding this...

Most people do not have a year’s supply of food storage. I hear it all the time….my neighbors will help me, the Church will provide for me, the government will give me food. Sorry, but you can not put your family’s temporal salvation in the hands of other people. No one else is going to store food for you. You have to do it yourself.
Here are the Top 12 Excuses I Hear for not having a food storage:

12. My neighbors have a TWO year supply! I seriously doubt it. As a emergency preparedness coordinator in a previous stake, I created an extensive emergency preparedness survey. The results were that 94% of our stake did NOT have a year supply, and 82% had no food storage at all. If your idea is to beg for food from someone else, well, that’s a really bad plan.

11. I’m moving in with my parents (or my children). Really? There’s a bright idea. Guess what, they don’t have food storage either.

10. I’ve paid tithing for 20 years, the church should be able to give me some food. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Tithing is “fire insurance” (see D&C 64:23), not “food insurance.” In fact, the church storehouses and welfare farms would feed less than 5% of the members of the Church. The prophets have been telling you to have a food storage for over 75 years. Have you followed the prophet’s commandment?

9. I have a gun! I have seen on several forums and websites that people say that don’t store food because they have a gun and they know where the nearest Mormon is located. Guess what! You idiot, most Mormons have guns too. If you don’t already have self-defense options as part of your year supply, you should.

8. We pay taxes; If something does happen, the government will take care of us. Some might even say, “they have to help us; our taxes pay their salary; if we die, they will have to take a pay cut.” Government aid worked out so well for people in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, right? With most all states in a severe budget crisis, and the federal government with a $14 TRILLION debt, the government will not be able to help. In fact, the government has been urging people to store food, water, medicine, etc. Check out http://www.ready.gov

7. Wide-spread national catastrophe will never happen. You might think that nothing happened with Y2K, but every prophecy given by the Lord will be fulfilled, and probably when you least expect it.

6. I have a 2 year supply of wheat; that should be sufficient. You need much more than just wheat. Unless you are eating that wheat on a daily basis and your body is accustomed to it, it will literally tear up your digestive system. You need to store of food items to go along with the wheat.

5. It takes up too much space!. This is utter nonsense. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can find space if you want to. I put a full year supply of food storage for 2 adults and 4 children in the closet under my stairs. I was able to store over 650 of the #10 cans with easy access to any of it at any given time. Check out Where to Put Your Food Storage.

4. It doesn’t taste good and you can’t make adequate meals. Having a food storage means that you have to cook rather than go out to a restaurant or visiting the frozen food isle of the grocery store. Find the right recipes, and you can make your food storage into a delicious and nutritious meal.

3. I’ll store up gold and silver to trade for food. So, are you planning on eating those gold and silver coins? If you were starving, and you had a choice between a bag of gold coins and your neighbor’s cat, which would you choose? When people are starving, they are not going to trade away their valuable food for gold or silver. If they do, you will be buying the most expensive bowl of soup you ever ate.

2. I can’t afford food storage. The average food storage for an adult can cost as little as a dollar a day. We live in the wealthiest society in the history of the world. If you do not have food storage, it is because you have your priorities reversed. If you choose to purchase expensive cars, an extra large house, LCD televisions, computers, vacations, etc. before getting food storage, then you need to re-evaluate your priorities. Are those items more important than food storage?

1. A year supply??? I thought I only needed 72 hours! The recovery period for emergencies and natural disasters is much more than 72 hours. I lived in Houston when Hurricane Ike hit in 2008. Yes, a 72-hour kit helped…for the first 72 hours! Then we were left with the damage to recover from. There was no electricity for 3 weeks! Many places didn’t have running water (or sewage) for several days. Most all grocery stores were closed; the ones that could be open did not have anything to sell. Large pine trees blockaded roads and downed power lines. There was no cell phone reception; the towers were knocked down or destroyed.
Simply put, getting your year supply of food storage is a commandment of God through his living prophets. We need to be obedient to the commandments of God, including the commandment of food storage.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Centsible meals

Blah Blah Blah, I could feed you a bunch of excuses of why I have disappeared off the face of the blog world. But Honestly. I just haven't wanted to write. I'm in a weird funk. And when I'm not in the weird funk mood, I am just busy. I've tried to minimize my time that is spent on the computer in the cyber world, and start enjoying real life more. I'm not wasting as much time on Facebook, {So I am only on there if I get a notification that someone has sent me a message or posted on my wall.}
I have limited myself to 15 minutes a day on Pinterest. {I don't know how long that will last.}
And so blogging has been on the back burner as well.
I've gone into one of my "I've got to cut our spending" kicks again, I cut the cable totally. We aren't T.V. watchers anyways, and I really don't want that influence in my home. As inappropriate and degrading as the shows are, The commercials are just as bad. So, It was a win win really. We don't miss it. I also switched internet providers. Now instead of $70 a month, we will pay $25. That is if I can figure out how to set it up. Wish me luck tomorrow!
So, In attempts to cut the budget more, I was trying to figure out how to cut our food bill even more. Yeah, I think it's possible. I came across this book. You can find it on Amazon. I found it on clearance at a book store for $1.99. If you are considering cutting your food budget, I suggest that you invest in it. This gal feeds her family of 6 on $200 A MONTH! I know some of you are thinking that I am slightly getting ridiculous about this... And you know what, I very well may be. But I don't care. I'm cheap and I am happy.

A sneak peek into what I liked about the book.

Less processed = less money.
Less processed = healthier

Homemade bread is healthier, and cheaper.

Get rid of boxes and bags. {IE cake mixes, oatmeal packets, boxed "helper" dinners etc.} Most of the time you have to provide the most expensive ingredient {Like Meat or eggs} and you only save a minimal amount of time, and spend 4 or 5 times what it would cost to make it yourself. And chances are, you have the stuff needed to make it in your pantry already.

She talks a lot about basic fillers.

Whole grains

Instead of focusing her meals around meat, she focuses them on these, and then occasionally a meat is added to compliment the meal.
Hearty soups and stews, etc. Which I really like, one because its less expensive...WAY less expensive. and two, I am not a big meat fan anyways. Or dairy for that matter. {With the exception of cheese.} And those are usually the two most expensive components of meals.

I know that making everything from scratch is time consuming, But really, That's my job. I am a homemaker. My job is to make food. I am really trying to simplify my life, and enjoy spending time with my little ones. Lala loves helping me make bread, and Blake loves eating it!

Does my Costco membership really save me money? Or do I buy crap I don't need?
eat with the seasons.

Convenience costs. Just think about it. Pre packaged stuff and snack size items cost way more.

She does a months menu at a time. Each week day revolves around a base food.
Sundays- meat

Most of these things are in her pantry and she has a hearty supply on hand of the basics.

I am super excited about seeing if I can really feed my family for less than $1.00 per person per day, like she says. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
Yes, Yes I can. And shoot sucker you know I am not eating dry beans and rice. It's going to be a cheap flavorful fest all up in the Hicks house! I'll let you know how it goes.
And P.S. We are headed to the cannery to stock up on some basics if you'd like to join us. you can find a price sheet HERE.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Skillet chicken and rice... And a trip to the Dr.

Do you ever have those days where you're glad the day has come and gone? Like, Bedtime is the best part of the day? Not really in a "My kids are driving me crazy" kind of way, just in a "I'm exhausted and just don't have any more to give" kinda way...
Yeah, Today was one of those days. I woke up with a sore throat, So no gym. That was strike one. Then I had to call and cancel the cable and switch our internet provider. Annoying and frustrating don't even begin to describe that process. Then I literally had to clean every room in the house because it was trashed as it always is from the weekend. While I was upstairs switching laundry, I heard Kynzi start to cry. But it wasn't a loud cry, more of a whimper or whine which didn't sound too urgent, So I finished switching the clothes and then headed downstairs. I come down to kids with lotion and water all over their heads and the carpet. And Kynzi doesn't have any clothes on and the top of her diaper has blood all over it... I turn her to the other side and see her beautiful, thick, light brown hair, Stained red and blood covering her stomach and the top of the diaper catching the blood. I started parting her hair carefully to find where she had gashed her head, and found a deep gash about a centimeter long. That was a bit of relief that it was so small. I was expecting something much worse from the amount of blood I saw, and shortly realized it looks far worse because the older two kept pouring water on her head. So I put those 2 in time out for the water damage mess, and rushed kynzi to the bath to get her cleaned up. Long story short, I was waiting to see if it would scab up on it's own before I took her to get stitches or a staple. I called the Dr. and let him know what was going on. I was right, It did scab up after about an hour and a half...And then she pulled it open again and it started gushing blood again. By this time my Mom had gotten to my house, and I chickened out and made her take Kynzi to the Dr's office and I stayed with the others at home. I couldn't stand the thought of having to watch her get a staple in her head. Well, The good news is, She did not have to have the staples or stitches. But that was strike two of the day. Then there was having to take a trip to target to get the juice boxes that I had forgotten on Friday. It took an army to wrangle all 4 kids through the store. That was strike 3. And of course Mike has a customer come in at 6:00 so that means he won't be home until 9 or 10 pm.
Needless to say I needed a fast and easy dinner so that I could get these jokers in bed ASAP.

Skillet Cheesy Chicken & Rice I adapted this recipe from a campbells kitchens recipe.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 can {or box} Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon lawreys season salt
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 bag frozen vegetables (I use broccoli)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides.  Remove the chicken from the skillet.
Stir the soup, water, onion powder, salt, black pepper and rice in the skillet and heat to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time.
Stir in the vegetables.  Return the chicken to the skillet.  Sprinkle with the cheese.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender.

Friday, February 10, 2012


 I've been absent for a while because well, I've been going through a huge range of emotions and thoughts, And I am having such a hard time focusing on anything and my thoughts are running at a million miles an hour. So, As you know, We are in the process of deciding whether or not we should pack up and move to the other side of town and build our dream house. I'm 99% positive that we have picked the house, the location and the builder. And I'm positive that I have the entire house planned out, down to the color of the throw pillows. {No, I'm not joking, Just ask, I'll show you "The Binder"}
I don't know, I'm going through a huge range of emotions. I don't know if I'm ready to leave this side of town, If I'm ready to make the commitment to pay a mortgage again, if I'm ready to be a homeowner and all the responsibilities that come with that, I don't know if I'm ready to write that big fat check to pottery barn, I don't know if I'm ready to clean a house of that size. Do we start now, Do we wait a year, do we wait 2 years? What are the pros and cons? Could waiting a year and saving more money hurt anything?

I'm really having a difficult time discerning whether or not it's what God's will is for us, And if that's where He needs us to be to best serve Him and those around us, Or if I have just convinced myself that that is the case because I am so in love with the idea of the perfect house, and perfect neighborhood.
How do you know that you haven't just convinced yourself that it's Gods will, Or if you have His stamp of approval, Or if he really is just leaving the decision up to you because he trusts you to make that decision...

I mean Doctrine and Covenants 58:26 says

 "26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is acompelled in all things, the same is a bslothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward."

 The Lord gave us agency for a reason right? 
Sigh, I know this post has really gone nowhere, But I just needed to vent a little bit and hope that someone has felt this way before and has some advice to offer?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pot roast and noodles.

So as I have been trying to drastically reduce our grocery bill. I have found myself reverting back to a TON of recipes that my grandmother used to make. Go figure it was because she was the queen of stretching a dollar!
When I was little, There was a span of time that my mom and I lived with my grandparents, and even after that, for several years we lived 5 minutes away from them. Now, let me give you a little looksie into what that house was like. My mom comes from a family of 15 children. Yes, They are all from my grandparents. No adoptions, no twins, no blended family. Now, As you can imagine, it was always a party. There were always tons of people around, and always tons of grand kids. My grandma, Bless her heart, would allow all of us {grand kids} to have a sleepover on the weekends. At least 10+ kids usually. Those are some of my most cherished childhood memories. Most specifically I remember lining up buffet style at the counter, youngest to oldest, in a line of at least 30+ people, being scooped up a heaping ladle full of pot roast and noodles for Sunday dinner. So, Here's my slacker version of my grandmas pot roast and noodles. 

No Yolks egg noodles. 1/2 of a bag

A can of Costco canned pot roast. NOT DRAINED. Just fork shredded. Don't knock it til you try it. I hate cooking raw meat, and this way you save yourself like 6 hours of crockpot time. And it's cheaper for us this way because we end up throwing meat away if I buy a whole roast. {And P.S these are things EVERYONE should have in their food storage.}

1 can {or box} of cream of mushroom soup.

1 pouch of onion mushroom soup mix.

Cook the noodles. Drain and set aside. 
While noodles are cooking,
Pour cream of mushroom soup and onion mushroom packet in sauce pot. Add 2 Tbs. flour. and 1 1/2 cups of water. Drain the liquid of the can of meat into the pot. {Not the meat yet} run your emulsion blender in the mix to make it smooth. Then turn the heat on and boil for about a minute until the sauce thickens a bit. Now add the fork shredded meat to the sauce. 

Now you can either mix it all together or you can serve the gravy on top of the noodles. We have it with rolls and peas. Super cheap, and it comes together in about 10 minutes. Rachel ray has got nothing with her time consuming 30 minute meals. LoL. Obviously she doesn't have 4 kids ;)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Don't you judge me... I like Tuna casserole.

My name is Kyrsten and I am a stress eater.

Mike and I have made a bit of progress in the home search. Nothing is written in stone yet, But we are pretty sure we have chosen the place. Now we are working on the detail$... Don't worry we aren't going anywhere too soon. I haven't been able to sleep very well, and all I want to do is eat. Now, the good news is I don't really have the time to just sit and eat thank goodness, Or I'd weigh a million pounds. However, When I do sit to eat, all I want is the good ol' comfort food that I grew up on. Enter tuna casserole... Now, I know everyone frowns at tuna casserole and sticks their nose up at it. However, This is not your mama's tuna casserole... It's MY mama's. And it's her mama's...

This is my FAVORITE meal ever. Just FYI It's not healthy. At all.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Grate 1 1/2 lbs sharp cheddar cheese.
One box of ritz crackers

Spray large casserole dish with non stick spray. (6 to 8 quart)
In large sauce pot over medium/high heat: stirring constantly
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon lawry's seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

(this makes the roux)
one the roux has come together

Whisk in 4 cups of warm milk
Boil that for 2 minutes, Whisking constantly.

Take off the heat and stir in 2 cans of strained and for flaked white chunk albacore tuna {Don't use cheap tuna that's just nasty}

Now layer sauce on the bottom, Then crackers, sauce, cheese, crackers, sauce, cheese, Etc. Until you get to the top and end with the last layer being cheese.
Bake for 35-40 min until its slightly browned and bubbly on top.

We serve it with peas~

If you are looking for the food storage version of this send me a message and I will put it up. Powdered milk etc... Also delish!