If you are looking for ways to lower your grocery bill, one is to try a Pantry Challenge. A Pantry Challenge is attempting to cook as many meals as you can from ingredients you already have on hand. Besides saving on grocery expenses you may also be able to use up items before they expire.

Jessica from GoodCheapEats.com is hosting a Pantry Challenge for the month of January. She usually does a Pantry Challenge in January and July.

Sometimes when she does it, she attempts to only purchase dairy products, produce and items she needs to go with the items she has on hand to make meals.

No matter how you participate, any little bit will help your grocery bill and use up some items you have on hand. When you look in your cupboards and fridge you may think you have nothing to eat but if you take an inventory and see what you have you may be able to come up with meals by only needing to purchase a few items.

I do a version of this most of the time. I buy items when they are on sale and buy additional items to go with them.

I stopped at Loopy’s Dollar Store at 110 11th St S, Moorhead today. Even though it is called a dollar store, some items are more and a dollar but most items are a dollar. There used to be a Loopy’s store at 8th St and 30th Ave S, Moorhead but it closed a few months ago.

Following are a few things I saw at the store today. The inventory can vary per day and store.

Eddie Bauer men’s socks $1 a pair
Hanes womens socks 6 pack for $5. They also have a variety of men’s, women’s and children’s socks.

Greeting cards 50 cents each

Some stores have shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants of brands such as Hanes, Jockey and others for about $7 to $9.

New Years Eve plates, napkins, party hats and noise makers $1 to $2.

If you are looking for something specific you take your chances of finding it at a dollar store, but if you have the time to stop you may find deals on things you are looking for.

With the start of each year, many people attempt to make changes in their lives.

Crystal from MoneySavingMom.com has put together a Pinterest board with ideas and resources to help manage your household and life. There is information on goal setting, household planning pages and more.

To make attaining your goals easier it is important to find a system that will work for you and you will keep with. Also, try making small changes instead of trying to change everything at one time. For some people, having a accountability partner helps keep things on track.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nancy Kvamme

Now with the holidays over you may see sales advertised in many stores. It could be a way to save money, but only if it is something you need and were planning on buying anyways. If you purchase things on sale and don’t end up using them, you haven’t saved any money. The same is true with store coupons you may receive. If you buy items you weren’t planning on purchasing just because you have a coupon to use, you are not really saving money.

It also won’t be such a deal if you need to charge it on your credit card and can’t pay off the balance in full. The interest you pay may minus out your savings. It may end up costing you much more than the original price if you charge a considerable amountcand carry a balance for a long period of time.

I received a couple of gift cards for Christmas and have been using them combined with sales to replace some things I needed like glasses and pans. It may not seem very exciting but I did get a gift card for Clothes Mentor also that I requested. I feel like I can get more for my money and the items are either new or almost new. No one knows that I didn’t pay full price for the items unless I tell them.

Following is part of a post I wrote a couple of years ago about shopping during After Holiday sales to save money.

Shopping After Christmas sales you can save money and be ahead of time next year. When I had my first apartment, I didn’t have much for Christmas decorations, but I scoured the after Christmas sales and within a year or two I had a good collection. Now I pick up things I need for a fraction of original price.

It is a great time to stock up on gift bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper, cards, etc. By having things you normally use on hand ahead of time, saves you from having to buy them next year. Also, if you are just starting out or need a new artificial tree, wreaths and other decorations it would be a good time to look for them.

Sometimes you can find holiday wrapping paper that not necessarily Christmas themed that could be used for other occasions throughout the year.
Other things to look for are candles, and candies. If you buy the holiday bags of candies like Hershey’s Kisses, Peanut Butter cups, etc you can use for upcoming holidays. The silver and gold ones can be used for New Years, Red and silver for Valentines Day and Green and gold for St. Patrick’s Day.

If your budget can handle it, you may also be able to pick up some gifts for people to use for birthdays, or even for next Christmas.

Nancy Kvamme

One way to save time and money when preparing meals is to prepare some meals ahead of time the keep in the freezer until they are needed.

Tricia from Once A Month Mom has put together a Pinterest board of 101 Winter Freezer Meals.

The freezer method began with preparing a month of meals in one day. Instead of that some people make multiples of some meals when they are cooking one and freeze the rest. Or making a meal or two when you have extra time.

Posted in Budgeting, Saving
Nancy Kvamme

Here is a list of recipes to make your own mixes. The list consists of 31 different categories such as baking mixes, seasoning mixes, and many more.

In most cases, making your own mixes is less expensive than buying store bought and you can control the ingredients.

Posted in Budgeting, Saving
Nancy Kvamme

There is a new store in Fargo for home décor and gifts. It is Kirkland’s at 4427 13th Ave S, Fargo. It is located between Hobby Lobby and Dollar Tree.

Items in the store range include seasonal garden tools, wall décor, lamps, rugs, bedding and furniture. The prices seems reasonable and many items were marked down when I was there recently. They also have gift cards available for purchase so the gift recipient can make their own choices.

Posted in Holiday Planning
Nancy Kvamme

UPDATED:Tuesday morning, Dec. 18. The Couples Money book mentioned in the post is no longer offered for free. It is $9.99 or free if you have Amazon Prime Membership.

Here is a link for some of the Kindle ebooks that are free right now. Double check the pricce before ordering, since the price can change at anytime. There is one about personal finance for kids and another on Couples and Money.

Even if you don’t have a Kindle you can download a program to read Kindle ebooks on your computer, tabliet and some mobile phones.

Posted in Books
Nancy Kvamme

As we enter the last week or so before Christmas, you may be busy with shopping, wrapping, baking and other things.

Here is a post I found online about making New Years Time Capsules. It is an idea to considder either for youf family or if you host a New Years gathering. Each person puts an item in the time capsule that represents something that happened to them in the past year. Then in future years you open the old capsules.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nancy Kvamme

Whether you have been procrastinating with your holiday shopping or need a few more gifts you may be able to get free shipping. Over 1,500 merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day on Monday, December 17, 2012. On December 17 several online merchants will be offering free shipping and other discounts with delivery by Christmas Eve in the contiguous United States.

Nancy Kvamme