SEW excited!! ~ by Sam

For ages, I have been waiting to buy fabric to make an “infinity dress.”  Do a quick internet search.  I’ll wait here.

Okay.  Got it?  So, it’s a convertible dress.  And it’s super cute.  And, it can be pretty expensive.  But…it’s SUPER cute.  I really want one.

So, I searched for tutorials.  They were confusing.  Then, I found this one:

http://sewlikemymom.com/little-red-infinity-dress-tutorial/

Okay.  That makes a little more sense to me.  All I have to do is buy 5 yards of fabric and…HOLY COW!!!  5 YARDS OF FABRIC?!?!!!  Do you know how much that will cost?!!

Well, it totally depends on the fabric.  Yesterday, I found this 100% polyester knit in a positively dreamy robin’s egg blue (my very favoruite colour).  It was cheap, at $5.99/yard.  Nevertheless, for 5 yards, that works out to be about thirty bucks, plus a few bucks more for matching thread.  Not bad for a nice dress, but I thought I could do better.

Then, I found this coupon:

http://www.joann.com/coupon/

No way!  60% off a single cut of fabric?!?!!  That means my fabric will only cost…um…not very much!!  So, I went and did it.  I bought my 5 yards of dreamy robin’s egg blue fabric and my matching thread.  The fabric came out to just under twelve bucks.  The thread was marked $2.99, but I think it must have been on sale, too, because my bill, with tax, was $15.01.

That’s fifteen dollars, and one cent.  Not bad for a whole nice dress.  At least, I hope it will be nice.  Only time will tell.

Think I can get in made in time for the wedding we are attending Saturday evening?  I sure hope so.  Wish me luck.

Oh, and, BTW, that coupon is good through today, August 29, 2013, but Jo-Ann is constantly putting out coupons.  My advice is to get on their mailing list and have them sent to your home, or, if you have a smartphone, get their app and access coupons right on your phone.  Don’t ever buy anything without checking to see if there might be a coupon.  you can also just check their website before you shop, and print up the coupons you need.

I’ll come back and post pics of the finished dress!

http://www.joann.com/

I can’t figure out how to post 2 photos at a time, so I will see if I can add a photo here.  This (if I do this correctly) is the first picture taken of my dress.  Hallie snapped this for me the first time I tried it on.

InfinityDress

Begin Again ~ by Sam

Shane received his regular paycheck and deposited it on Friday.  We’re still waiting for a check for a recent side project to arrive int he mail, but bills are paid, and things are settling down.  Kids were fortunate to receive a gift from grandparents to help with back-to-school expenses, and that has helped tremendously.  In addition, grandmother handed down three seemingly brand new pairs of shoes to Hallie.  (Thank you so much! ~ they are adorable, they fit, and they feed the needs of a 13-year-old fashionista.)  One of Kaia’s best friends at school showed up with a bag of clothes she had outgrown.  Kaia will have to grow into them, but there are some great items, including a cute purple and zebra-print top with fringes and studs, that really suits the “rock-n-roll” style she likes to rock. 

This week begins my challenge to myself:  I will carry cash, spend only bills, and stash the coins I receive in change in a jar.  When Shane deposited his check, I had him take out $100 in cash.  We’ll see how far that gets me.  Years ago, this was how we always used to spend.  Credit cards were frozen in a block of ice and thawed out only for emergencies.  Debit cards were used solely for withdrawing cash.  I want to get back into that routine, because I find it is harder to spend cash than just run through a charge on my card.  The one exception I will make is buying gas.  I tend to use my Costco Amex for that, and pay it off as soon as I get home, so I can earn cash back.  We are trying to pay down that card right now, since it is one of the ones we ran up during the move, so I might use my debit card for gas purchases until we get that taken care of.  We’ll see.  Shane gets nervous about me using a card while we are trying to pay it off, but I keep explaining that, if I make an online payment equal to what I spent as soon as I get home, it’s just like using cash ~ except that I get to earn cash back.  Of course, I still have to remember to make the regular monthly payment, too, which I do.  Anyway, the way the cash spending plan works is that, at the end of each week, if I have any bills left over, they go in the jar with the coins.  At the end of the week, I will post an update, letting everyone know how much we have in our little jar.  That’s our “mad money.”  We can use it for little things that pop up (like the ice cream truck), or we can save it for a bigger treat (like a trip to san Francisco, or a new hammock).  

So far, this week (our financial week starts on Saturday, since that’s when the paycheck hits the bank), I have spent $4.98 on pasta, croissants and a couple of other things at fresh & easy.  Speaking of fresh & easy, I am keeping an eye on their “friends” deals, accumulating points to convert to cash on my card and checking their daily clearance items.  A couple of days ago, I scored a head of cauliflower for a dollar, my favourite chipotle salsa for $1.20, a bag of cubed butternut squash for $1.20 ~ and those croissants I bought yesterday were in a package of 4 for 75¢.  Items are usually placed in the clearance section on or very near their “sell by” date, so make sure you check that date, and that you buy stuff you will use right away.  Most grocery stores have a section like this somewhere (usually tucked away, where it might be hard to find).  Remember that bakery items can be frozen, so you can buy three packages of mini-muffins and not have to eat them all at once.  Just seal them up in freezer bags to keep them fresh, and be careful not to let them get all crushed in freezer.  I also recommend that, when using your store’s rewards program, you be careful not to get all starry eyed and go for all of the special deals, even if they aren’t things you would normally buy.  Each Friday, fresh & easy offers a “give-away” product.  This past Friday it was “buy a 6-pack of (a certain brand of) beer, get a frozen pizza for 1¢.”  Now, I don’t usually buy frozen pizza, but Hsane and the kids like it, and it is an easy thing for one of them to pop in the oven for a quick meal or after school snack; and, since we do drink beer, and are willing to try unfamiliar brands, I jumped at that deal.  On the other hand, if the deal is “buy this product you would never use and get this other product you would never use free,” I will skip it.  

Shane and I are trying to decide whether or not to buy a new sofa right now.  The one we have has been falling apart since the day we got it (springs keep breaking), but we didn’t keep the receipt, and, after many attempts to get the company to give us some kind of compensation, we have finally given up.  we need a new sofa, and we have had our eye on a particular one…which I recently found on a very good sale.  Nevertheless, it is a major purchase, and we always struggle with those.  About a year ago, I missed a similar deal on this very sofa (or one very like it), and we agreed then that, if the opportunity arose again, we would have to leap at it.  The fact is, we must have a sofa that doesn’t fall apart all the time.  We will have to buy one, so it seems silly to wait until later and buy it for full price, rather than buying it now for about half price.  But…ugh…I HATE spending money!  

Oh, and in other news, I am trying REALLY hard to completely avoid Starbucks.  Those who know me well will know what a struggle this is.  But, seriously, $5 for a cup of coffee?  That’s kind of crazy, when you’re trying to save money.  I am going to try to make it through the end of September without slipping up on this one.  If you see me out on the street, veering toward a Starbucks, please gently (or strongly…whatever works) redirect me.  I used to stop at Starbucks at least 4 times/week.  How crazy is that?   Now, I am there less than once a week, but even that is $15-20/month ~ and, if a kid happens to be with me, I will of course treat her, too.  It adds up quickly.  Besides, we make better coffee, cakes and sandwiches at home.  

hmm…well, I guess that’s it for now.  Just trying to get ourselves back on track after buying a whole entire house.  It’s a challenge, but I think we’re up to it.  

Oh, and, if you decide to take the cash-only spending challenge, please keep track and let us know in comments (here, or on our end-of-the-week update) how it works out for you.

54 Ways to Save Money

54 Ways to Save Money

Came across this while looking for some useful tips to help us maximize our savings and recover more quickly from our recent move.  Lots of good ideas here.

One thing I plan to get back to right away is spending cash, bills only, and saving all of the coins.  I used to do this religiously, and you would be surprised how quickly that money adds up.  So, starting with this Friday’s paycheck, I will get cash back for our weekly expenses, and put all of the coins I receive in change throughout the week in to a jar.  I challenge you to do the same.  at the end of the week, we can all let each other know how it went.  What do you say?  Can we all make it one week without using our debit and/or credit cards?  It’s one of the best changes I have ever made in my spending habits, and I think it’s time to get myself back on track.  You in?

Weekly (ish) update ~ by Sam

So, I’m a few days late with the weekly update.

We are still trying to get in the swing of things at school.  Already, one kid has had 2 sick days, but she is back in school today, so things are looking up.  On the subject, I have decided that one way we are going to save money this year is by staying well.  Seriously, I don’t even want to know how much money we spent on doctors last year.  Now, I am not sure exactly how this is going to work, but I am trying to give everyone good, healthy meals, pushing orange juice, fruits, vegetables, and avoiding processed foods as much as possible.  When they are sick, we are trying very hard to stick to more natural treatments and avoid antibiotics, so our immune systems can recover from last year’s (and some years preceding it) attack.  I don;t know how much it will help, but I am adding probiotics to our smoothies, and making sure everyone takes vitamins.  Wish me luck.  My kids get sick so often, the receptionist at the clinic is like family.  Each visit is about $60, then there is the cost of meds, on top of that.  So, I figure, if I can just keep everyone well ~ and manage to avoid falling over and breaking parts of myself ~ we should save a good chunk o’ change.  We’ll see.

Last Saturday, we threw together our annual Island Day party, and I made a little cake for Kaia (finally…almost a month after her birthday).  I was a little worried about the cost of that, but we kept it simple, asking folks to bring a dish to share, if they liked.  I put out a veggie tray, cheese and crackers, egg salad, Hawaiian rolls, chips and salsa, and provided margaritas, soda (made with our Soda Stream, so cheaper than canned or bottled drinks) beer and whatever else happened to be stocked in our bar.  Friends brought 7-layer dip, white bean dip, and more beer.  I was a little worried about entertainment, since we sort of dropped the ball on that one, but a bunch of the kids pulled out instruments and jammed in the parlour, and they invented a game like ring toss, in which the goal was to throw a lei and have it land around somebody’s neck (I think this will become a new regular game). Everyone seemed to have a good time, and we really didn’t spend much money.  In fact, we never even pulled out the pizza crust, sauce and cheese, which were my back-up plan, should we run out of food.  So, we had pizza the next day.  We also forgot to pull out the salad, so we made that up the following day.  Turns out, some of the shopping I thought I was doing for the party helped get us through the week.

hmmm…so, I have talked a little about the money we spent.  How about the money we haven’t spent?  Saw a sectional sofa we LOVED at Costco for $750.  $750!  Really, an incredible price for this particular sofa, but, if we are gonna throw $750 at something, it ought to be one of the bills we ran up while buying our snazzy new house.  So, as much as we loved it ~ and as much as our sofa is sort of falling apart ~ we walked away.  It was hard.  It’s still hard.  I keep almost going back and charging it.  But I won’t.  I think.  I hope.  I mean…it IS a really good deal…and our sofa IS falling apart.  I kid you not ~ springs just spring out from under it at any given time.  Shane has repaired something like 12, and there are currently 4 broken ones.  It’s a little crazy.  But, we have debt to pay off, so we will try to be good.

Another thing we have not spent much money on is getting rid of the giant colony of ants that want to live in our house.  I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of, but nothing deters these buggers.  I tried using chalk, peppermint and bay leaves to deter them.  That helped a little bit.  I released ladybugs to wipe out their aphid farm in my mint plant.  I mixed borax an sugar to make my own ant bait.  Still waiting to see if that works.  In the meantime, just wiping, mopping, putting away food and shooing them back  out the door whenever I see them.  They are tenacious.

One thing we DID spend money on this week was a stereo cabinet.  This is something for which we have been keeping an eye out for some time.  We’ve been checking craigslist, yard sales and thrift stores for good deals, and we finally found one.  I was even able to talk the proprietors of the thrift store down by $40.  They agreed very easily, so I am thinking I should have made an even lower offer, but I still feel like I got a very good deal.  We gained a piece of furniture that is solid, useful and attractive, so I feel it was an excellent purchase.

We continue to chip away at the debt, and are hopeful that we will pay off justice’s bass and actually OWN it within the next few months.  Still trying to whittle out enough money from our monthly budget to afford health insurance.  We’re getting there.  Trying to save the tomatoes from hideous leaf-legged bugs, so we don’t lose too much money on the garden this year, taking care of our fruit trees, and starting to think about Winter vegetable planting.  Also looking into some (small, but helpful) money-making opportunities for me ~ things I can do from home, most likely, and on my own schedule.  Will keep you posted on that.

Now…if only I could talk Costco down by three or four hundred bucks on that sofa…

Just Checking In ~ by Sam

I realize we have been a little lax in updating this blog, so I am going to start trying to do a regular, weekly update, just to let our readers (do we have readers?) know how we are getting along.  This will also serve to keep us on track with our spending, and the choices we are making in our daily lives, because we know it’s going to be reported to the masses.  Yes, there are masses of you.  I’m sure of it.

So, here’s this week’s report:

Kids will be returning to school on Tuesday, so we need to make sure they are all ready to greet the new school year.  Over the years, we have learned a few things:

a) There is no sense in rushing out to buy them each a whole new back-to-school wardrobe every year.  It did take us a while to figure this out, but, let’s face it, we live in Southern California.  The season is not changing when the kids go back to school, so whatever clothes they have been wearing will be just fine.  We do check in to make sure that they have enough clothes that fit and fall within school dress codes.

b) There is not much point in running out and buying a bunch of school supplies, becasue teachers will give them lists in the first days of school, and our experience has taught us that, if we try to wing it and buy what we think they will need, we’ll just end up buying more later, because we bought the “wrong” stuff.  So, I bought them each some new pens and pencils, a couple of notebooks, any organizational stuff they need to have at home (folders to organize their work, calendars, that sort of thing) and a stack of loose leaf paper.  The rest, we will figure out after they meet their new teachers.

So, in order to get ready to begin the year, we have focussed our attention on home.  We want them to be organized at home, to know where they will do homework, stash their backpacks, hang their outfits for each day, store supplies, finished work, etc.

They have sorted through their clothes, weeded out what doesn’t fit and figured out what they need to fill in gaps.  Kaia received a Target gift card for her birthday, so she bought herself a snazzy 1st-day-of-school outfit, as well as a cute, casual dress.  Hallie needed a pair of jeans, so I sprung for those, and she used some of the money she won at school last year (yeah, she won money.  How cool is that?) to buy a cute new top.  At Walmart, I happened to stumble upon a cute pattern for a knee-length knit skirt with three sleeveless top variations that will work for Justice, Hallie and me, so we are going to take our coupons and head over to the fabric store for some cute fabric, but I doubt we will get much sewing done in the next day or two.  The pattern cost me two or three bucks, which I thought was kind of a steal.

Another thing that helped was having the older girls go through all of there clothes to see if there happened to be anything Kaia could use.  Now, most of the stuff they have recently outgrown is too big for her yet, but we will put that away and label it, so she can choose from it when she reaches that size.  The good news is that Justice found not one, but TWO hoodies that will fit Kaia this year.  One is lighter weight (perfect for Fall), and has a cute Hello Kitty design, while the other is red with a thick, furry lining (great for all but the coldest days here in SoCal).  In addition, Justice found a barely used backpack (black, with a paint splatter print) that Kaia loves and plans to use this year.  Awesome, because she was due for a new one this year.

Shane’s dad arrived for a visit on Thursday, which is a great way to end the Summer.  We are keeping it kind of low-key, since the kids are starting school in a couple of days, but we did go out to dinner one night, using a special offer from AmEx for a $10 credit back if we spend more than $40 at California Pizza Kitchen…which reminds me, I need to go pay the amount we spent last night to AmEx, so we aren’t charged interest on it, which would totally defeat the purpose of using that special offer.  We figured, since we were going to do that, anyway, we might as well play their game and do it for ten dollars less.  I think we might hit the Getty Center, too, which is free.  Keeping my eye out for other fun deals.

Today, we’ve been working on the yard.  Shane fixed the sprinklers.  How awesome is that?  I have been watering by hand in the areas that we had non-working sprinklers.  Now, I can just set them and let them go.  I spent some time this morning (and a good bit through the past week, too) weeding the vegetable garden, cleaning up dead leaves and chasing bugs off the tomatoes.  About that bug chasing: can y’all believe I did that?!?!  I am so afraid of bugs.  Phobias notwithstanding, they were eating all of our tomatoes, and we worked too hard to give our food away to pests.  So, I had to buck up and do it.  Trimming all of the brown, dead parts of the plant made a huge difference.  Justice helped me relocate one of the morning glories that had sprung up in the vegetable garden to the front yard.  We thought we had killed it, because it went all limp and sad for the first couple of days, but I am happy to report the appearance of three or four bright and healthy flowers this morning, so I am hopeful that the ol’ girl might pull through.  Best of all, now, I can easily get to all the parts of the plant and get the bugs off.  Still using only methods that are approved for organic gardening, but I am making some headway.  Zucchini and eggplant are still producing, and, in clearing up the weeds and dead leaves, I uncovered several carrots, some basil and a bunch of fennel that we thought had just not made it.  What a nice surprise!  In addition, now that the tomatoes are not literally on top of them, the peppers seem to be thriving.

Speaking of nice surprises, while I was paying bills and going over the books yesterday, I realized that, in the past month, our monthly expenses have dropped by $146 and change in the past month or so.  Some of it was due to efforts on our part.  For instance, we finally paid off Kaia’s trumpet, which we were renting to own.  In fact, the way it works is this: instead of owning the kind of beat old trumpet she had been playing, she got a like-new used Yamaha trumpet for what we paid.  So that’s $27/month we no longer have to pay.  There were couple of other things we realized we just don’t need right now.  I was getting a box once/month from Farm Fresh to You, and, while I enjoyed it, thanks to our own gardening efforts and exchanges we have made with friends, we just don’t need it right now.  That was another $31.50.  As luck would have it, we were informed of two wonderful situations:  a) we have been with our auto insurance company long enough that they are giving us a “loyal customer” discount.  There’s a great reason for staying with a company you like and trust.
b) we apparently overpaid escrow, so, not only did we get a surprise check in the mail (we did the responsible thing, and used that to treat the kids to Disneyland on Kaia’s 10th birthday), but our monthly payment has dropped a little, too.  Very nice to have expenses drop so substantially without really trying.  We are blessed, indeed.

The rest of today should be relaxing.  Justice is off with friends for the day, and Hallie and Kaia have friends over.

I was just going to start making my first batch of laundry detergent since I broke my arm.  When we ran out while my arm was broken, I decided it was just worth it to save us all a little stress and buy laundry detergent.  Doing so gave me one less thing to worry about figuring out how to do one-handed (or asking Shane or the kids to do), but I had forgotten just how much laundry detergent costs.  When I opened the Word document that contains my laundry detergent recipe this afternoon, I noticed it contains a note stating that I first tried it in February of 2008.  This means I have been making our laundry detergent for more than 5 1/2 years.  I cannot imagine how much money this has saved us.  Not to mention all of the containers that have not been tossed into landfills.  Wow.  I am so glad I can start making it again, and it struck me as such a great thing, I decided to share the recipe here.  I might have shared it before, but I am just feeling so excited about this right now, that I want to share it.  Yeah, I get excited about laundry detergent.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

3 Pints Water

1/3 Bar Fels Naptha* Soap, Grated

1/2 Cup Washing Soda

1/2 Cup Borax

2 Gallon Bucket

1 Quart Hot Water

Hot Water

Mix soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 Quart Hot Water to 2 Gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with hot water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.  Shake gently before using.

Tested ~ 2/1/08

*you can use any soap you choose, really.  Above is the original recipe.  I have used Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps, too, and it works perfectly well.  Octagon soap works very well, too, as does Kirk’s Castile Soap.

**Instead of a 2-gallon bucket, I have kept some old detergent bottles and refill them with my homemade detergent.  I put a little hot water in each bottle, divide the soap/soda/borax mixture fairly evenly between them (use a funnel if you don’t want to make a huge mess and lose half of you detergent down the sink), then fill the rest of the way with more hot water.

***You may add some essential oil of your choosing to scent your soap.  The scent will probably not linger on the clothes as long (or as strongly) as commercial detergent perfumes, but it does make doing your laundry more pleasant.

****I have found that, in my HE washing machine, about ¼ cup per load is usually plenty (more for heavily soiled loads), so this recipe lasts me ages.

Hoper you are all enjoying these last weeks of Summer, vacation or not.  I think I am going to fry up some green tomatoes with dinner.  That seems like a summery thing to do.

Can it! — by Sam

This entry has been a long time coming.  Many times, I’ve sat at my computer, trying to figure out where to begin, what to say, how to write this one.  I want to write something about home canning.  i want to talk about how much I enjoy it, and why I think it is a great choice for our family.  I do not, however, want to be so bold as to present myself as any kind of authority on the subject.  I am a novice.  Still learning the ropes, still not entirely sure I’m doing it right, and just hoping against hope that I don’t inadvertently poison my family.  I mean, on the one hand, I remind myself, people have been doing this for generations ~ and there have continued to BE generations, so that’s a good sign, right?  On the other hand, I keep reading all of these scary warnings about how careful you have to be to do it all just right.  Doing everything just right is not my specialty.  I excel at doing things so they are “good enough,” “not so bad from a distance” or “eh…it’ll have to do.”  But “just right?”  Ha.  Yeah.  THAT’S gonna happen.

For this reason, I don’t entirely trust myself.  So, I have found a couple of helpful sources I DO trust, and I rely heavily on them.  One is the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving.  Seriously, if you plan to give canning your own foods a shot, buy this book.  Refer to it often.  Do what it says.  It offers helpful information, step-by-step instructions, loads of recipes and lots of illustrations to help you through the process.  Another source on which I rely rather heavily is the National Center for Food Preservation:  http://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html  On this website, you can find the answers to a lot of questions you might have about home canning, as well as instructions for canning and other methods of food preservation.  I also highly recommend you thoroughly read the manual that came with your canner.  read it more than once.  Then, read it again.  I still reread mine every time I use it.  

While we’re on that subject, let’s talk a little bit about equipment.  When I first decided to start canning, I ran out and bought a boiling water canner, thinking that was all I would need.  A boiling water canner works very well for high acid foods, but, if you want to can lower acid foods ~ vegetables, beans and soups, for instance ~ you are going to need a pressure canner.  I have both, now, and I do not regret that decision.  However, my pressure canner can be used as a boiling water canner, so, if I had known then what I know now, I might have bought just the pressure canner, and saved myself a little money.  

Acquiring all of the equipment you need to get started will require an initial investment.  I recommend you shop around online to see if you can find a good deal.  To get started, you will need whichever style of canner you choose, some canning jars with lids (you can buy these in cases of 1-dozen, in a variety of sizes ~ quart, pint & half-pint seem to be most popular), a jar lifter, jar funnel, magnetic lid-lifter thingy (for getting lids out of hot water without burning yourself) and one of those flat  spatula-type things, to measure headspace and remove air bubbles.  I bought mine in a set, like this:  http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Utensil-Set-Colors-Vary/dp/B001NNJ42I (in fact, that’s exactly the set I got ~ hopefully, seeing it will make my descriptions a bit more clear, since I was super careful to use all those highly technical terms in describing them).  You will probably also want to buy labels, so you can tell what’s in all of your jars.  Dissolvable labels are great, because you want to be able to use your jars over and over, and removing sticky labels is more work than it’s worth, in my opinion ~ especially if there is a simple alternative.  

 I shopped around a lot before I bought my equipment, and I found that Walmart has pretty good prices on canning equipment.  In fact, so far, I can get my jars cheaper there than anywhere else I have tried.  I like to buy different styles of jars.  I just think they look pretty.  I have wide-mouth jars for chunky sauces and beans, regular jars for soups and smooth sauces, and cute little quilted half-pint jars for preserves and jams.  You can choose to buy whatever is cheapest in the size you like, as long as they are good quality, mason-type jars with two part (lid and ring) lids, specifically intended for canning.  It’s important that you use jars intended for canning, and that you use a new lid each time, to ensure a proper seal.  However, you can reuse your jars and rings, as long as they remain in good condition.  

I’m not going to walk you through all of the steps of canning here, because the sources to which I referred you can do that.  I will say this:  If you have ever wanted to give it a try, do.  Why?  Well, here are the best reasons I can think of, off the top of my head:

1. You know exactly what you are eating, because you made it.  

2. You will feel so accomplished when you open your cupboards and they are stocked with beautiful jars of food that you prepared and canned.

3. By canning your own foods, you will save on the amount of waste that goes into landfills and energy that is consumed in the collection and processing of recyclable materials when you buy canned goods, as well as the fuel it takes to transport those goods to and from the stores from which you purchase them.

5. You can save yourself money by shopping for vegetables and fruits in season, looking for the best deals at your local stores, buying in bulk and/or growing your own.

Not sure you can handle it?  Trust me, if you can read and follow directions, you can do this.  Will it take some time to figure it all out and start feeling confident about it?  Sure.  Will you be glad you did it?  I think so.  I know that, when I open my cupboard and see this:

Image

I feel pretty good.  

I did that.  

And, if I can, you can, too.