Childfreelife’s Weblog











{January 12, 2009}   What to do with left overs

Lets face it, most recipes yield more than one or two servings. A childfree folk or partnership is likely to end up with extras. You can halve all your recipes, you can only buy cookbooks designed for singles or couples, you can always eat out. But if you don’t do one of those things, you are going to have leftovers!

Mostly make things that can make new meals with the leftovers. Today I am enjoying a delicious meatloaf sandwich. Last night of course, I ate the meatloaf. Honestly, I think the sandwich is better! If you eat spinach salads, cook main meat dishes, and keep your sauces separate from your noodles, you can make the salad into cooked spinach, the main meat dishes into sandwiches, soups and casseroles, and the sauces can go onto a completely different type of meal the next day.

Freeze leftovers. As soon as you are finished making the dinner, estimate how much you are going to eat, and take the rest and begin cooling it and package it to go into the freezer. I recommend doing this before you eat dinner, because you are less tired at that point and less likely to forget.

Eat them for lunch the next day. Similarly to the freezing method, before you sit down to eat your dinner, package some of it up as a lunch. If it was burritos, make a few extra burritos and put them into a sandwich bag in the fridge. If do this while everything is still out and while you are preparing your dinner, it will be a lot more likely to have all the ingredients in it (before you run out of salsa and olives).

Get roommates. Having a roommate or two will ease the cost of your rent, and you can share your meals with them. You won’t have as many leftovers and you can take turns cooking.

Organize a left overs club at work. If most of the folks at work cook dinner at home too, you can trade left over lunches, that way you aren’t eating the same thing two days in a row, but your food gets appreciated. (I realize this is really unlikely to occur, but hey, brainstorming!)

Kids in China will cry, but you can just throw your left overs out. This is especially good if you hate eating left overs. And none of the other ideas work. Should you really feel guilty for throwing food out? My argument is “no.” If you had bought smaller quantities of food like a smaller brick of cheese, meat in individual containers, the smaller sour cream and milks, you end up spending near as much as the larger ones. Also, for the most part, food is cheap. You’ve already made the food and either you are going to eat it and waste it into the toilet, or you are going to throw it out. I think being healthy and happy is a better deal than saving a few cents on left over foods. Furthermore, making food at home will still be cheaper than eating out and way healthier, so if throwing out your left overs keeps you cooking at home, than I am all for it.



The dress-up holiday season started at Halloween and it won’t end until New Years or even Valentine’s day. If you follow the hype and are very self-conscious, you might decide you have to wear a different outfit every year to every holiday. Even at thriftstore prices this is an unnecessary expense. We are adults, we don’t grow that much from year to year, and we have enough self confidence to pull off making our own unpopular decisions. I read in a personal finance blog and a friends homelife blog the crisis of children’s halloween costumes. These little tykes are really hyped up to dress up as something in particular and if they don’t it is heartbreaking for them. Adults around them might take a part in setting the expectation because every year they also make a big deal about what do dress up as. We are adults, we don’t have kids, do we have to act like that? no!

But adults carry this out to every holiday party and event–to the point that at least 4 new outfits are needed per year. Is this necessary? The holidays are all at the least a week apart. Couldn’t you get one nice outfit and wear it to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and even Valentines day? A woman looks stunning in a dress with the right fit and a flattering color. My husband has a favorite dress of mine (I like it too) and I can keep wearing it for several holidays and it even doubles as a witch’s dress on Halloween (I bought a nice witch hat and I wear a similar outfit every year, I just change up the socks, shoes and makeup). I have had this dress for a few years and it only gets worn once every month or two. I can dress it up with other clothes I have–boots, high heels, jackets that I wear for work or other holidays. I am not saying I only have one dress, but I am suggesting that you don’t need a new dress every month over the holidays to look great and enjoy the holidays.

If you spent even $5 dollars per outfit for the holiday season, that would be $20.00-$25.00 per year on one use clothing. Consider cutting back and having one or two outfits you can wear year to year and for several holidays. Also look to clothes you already have to compliment your outfit. Perhaps you can wear one of your dress shirts for work with your holiday suit instead of getting a new shirt. Perhaps you can wear the exact same base outfit you wore last on Thanksgiving to Yuletide parties with a different tie or scarf from your collection to make it stand out differently.

Good luck and be creative!



Some people spend more money than others on entertainment materials.  Trent at the simple dollar used to spend a ton on books and dvds.  Some folks go crazy on CDs or magazines.   I spend some money on books, not a lot, likely less than $50.00 a month, and even less on movies, magazines and CDs. But with my husband out of work, even the odd used book is more than I really should spend.  I consider this tip neither a little chunk savings nor a big chunk savings because it could be either on a sliding scale based on how much you spend in these catagories.

But I get excited, I am growing unusual plants as a hobby, (a fairly cheap hobby if you start from seed), and I saw a book I wanted.  I decided to be a good personal finance blogger and check to see if it was at my local library first, before I pushed buy.  I am glad I did!  The local downtown library has it, and I took a simple train ride down there at lunch, signed up for a library card and viola! I have my book–and a few more I spotted along the way, no guilt, they are free to read 🙂  If I had taken this many books home from the bookstore, we would be broke!

How to use the library:

Start with a book you want to read, you saw a review, your friend mentioned it, you were researching unusual plants and the book title came up.  Then check your libraries online catalog to see if they have it.  Browse the library catalog for a few more books by that author or in that subject area.  But don’t stop there.  Go to the sections of the library your favorite subjects kept turning up in.  Even if they didn’t have your book, there are so many other interesting books in that section!  I was looking at the book about the unusual plants, and on the same shelf was a book about werewolves (I was in the folklore area).  I had to grab it!  Next time I visit the library I am going to visit that area again to see what else catches my eye.

What libraries offer:

The public library carries CDs, DVDs, Books, Magazines, and Newspapers.  Take advantage of your local library to save whatever amount of money you tend to spend on these things per month. The library has internet access–great when yours goes down!  That means you can read childfreelife’s weblog at the library!  word

Libraries offer seperate sections for children.  Up on the top floor in the science and business section, there is an abundance of peace and quiet.  While libraries are not child-free areas, some areas of libraries end up being so.  If you want to find a quiet place, and don’t mind that you may not be allowed to check out the books, I can highly recommend academic libraries, the likely hood of noisy children is even lower at a higher institution.

If one of your local libaries is air conditioned, consider it a great place to spend a quiet summer afternoon, without having to run your air conditioner.  A lot of libraries have padded chairs you can curl up in, bright lighting for reading, and an endless supply of books and magazines for your reading pleasure!

But I have to have it in my collection!

Ownership is over-rated.  Unless you use the same book or dvd everyday or every week (like a bible or a school text book), you don’t have to own it.  The Frankenstein movie will be there next month when you want to watch it again, and if it is checked out you can put it on hold.   If you use books for research writing, use a cheap at home scanner to scan particular pages you will need to reference again.  I have a cheap scanner about the size of a fall vogue issue and it is great for making quick records of pages, photos, and such for reference purposes.  (you don’t need a state of the art scanner unless you are archiving photos, scanning your artwork for prints, or using scans for advertising purposes).

I do have some books I do have to own, I reference them very regularly.  But for the most part, I can borrow a book and get more value out of the library than a bookstore.

Downsizing:

Do you have too many books, dvds and cds?  Could you downsize your library by selling what you don’t need because the local library has a copy already?  Sure you might want to watch Rambo again someday, but you can sell it with a feeling of security that should you ever wish to see it again, you can borrow it from the library.  When weeding through your home collection for books and movies to part with, have the library online catalog open on your computer.  Then you can make a pile of, “I might want it somedays” that you can cross reference to the library collection.  If your local library doesn’t have a copy, but you are unlikely to need the item again soon (and depending on how your library manages things–my library is just as likely to sell the donated items to get funds), you can donate your books and movies to the library directly, and come borrow them again when you want to.



I have a radical notion: your car is not an asset it is a bill. The worth of your car is not its sale value, but whether it gets you to work and play and looks nice enough to help your career along if need be.

So lets say in my career having a nice car is unnecessary. And my (piece of s**t) pos car breaks down and needs a $500 repair. Should I finance a newer car since my old car isn’t worth more than a thousand dollars? No, because its a pretty good bet that the $500 repair will keep my car going for 2-6 more months without needing new repairs, and monthly payments on a financed car will equal or exceed that amount over that time. I am saving money on new car payments by repairing the car I own outright.

However, if part of the value of my car is to look swank, then buying a car for its “asset” value might not even be wise. A car is a bill, and if what I am purchasing with this bill is swankness and transportation, then leasing a car for 2 years and then upgrading to a new car is a better deal for me than buying a swank car and paying it off over 5 years, but trading it in after two and running the loan into the next car (minus the reduced value of my trade in which is less than I paid into it). If I buy a new car every two years and trade it in, the loans on the next cars just keep getting bigger. Also if the car I bought was say a (ahem) hummer and the value went way down in the last two years, trading it in sucks! But if I leased it for two years, the dealership just takes it back, they get stuck with its crappy value not me. Then I can lease a Prius or a Mini next and look swank and smart this time around! And isn’t it nice that I can switch down to a smaller car and not worry if the kids’ car seats will fit in it? Or if my kids will destroy the inside of my car costing me cleaning fees on my lease? I don’t have kids, sweet!

Financing new cars is a debt, leasing a new car is a bill. If you are trying to avoid debt, a lease or repairing your pos car might be more your style.



I never even thought to use services like u-promise.  It is all about getting money from advertisers to save money for a child’s college education right?  Wrong!  An adult who has already gone to college, or plans to go to college can set up a u-promise account for themselves.  A favorite past-time of the childfree, going out to eat is one of the better ways to accumulate donations into your u-promise account.  Another past-time of some child-free, is buying things used on e-bay, also earns you points on u-promise.  One thing that sucks about u-promise is most merchants only contribute for online purchases–however, my idea for that is to go to your local store try things on, and then later if you still really want it when you get home and still are going to buy it, buy it online and get the 1-3% contribution.

Though the details aren’t always the easiest to find, you can use the u-promise money you earn to pay off your student loans or put yourself into school.  You have to send a notarized form to get your money mailed to you, and you can withdraw each quarter, and put that money into your bank account to start earning interest.

Find a friend or coworker who does free notarizing, or check to see if your bank will guarantee your signature.  It shouldn’t cost money to get money (okay the stamp doesn’t count).

The way I understand it, the majority of college savings plans that are tax deferred or even tax free, are made only to give to a child under a certain age.  Since those plans don’t apply to us, I would take my u-promise withdrawals and put the money into an IRA, then I can take art classes at the senior centers of the future!

Of course, the real way to save money is to not spend it.  If you are paying down student loans, going back to school, or saving for fun learning experiences in retirement–don’t just spend money on crap just because it gets you a small contribution from a vendor–put the money you decide not to spend right into savings towards those goals.



Part of my nightlife is spent investing in myself.  I don’t have to worry about leaving kids with a sitter or burdening my husband with their care.  As a childfree person, I do not have to save up money for someone else to go to college, I can spend it on myself and increase my value to employers and society now.  I contribute to society in my career and the more I learn the more I can do to that end.  I work in the bankruptcy field, helping people get a fresh start on life.  I also know how much I want to avoid bankruptcy!  So I find ways to invest in myself without getting further in debt.   And to that end, I try to save as much money going back to school while still getting a great education.

One of my largest expenses going back to school has been the school books.  When I was a freshman, I foolishly paid full price for all my books in the school bookstore.  It was just financial aid money then, but the deal is, I am now paying all that back now in student loans.  Now that I am back to school for a professional certificate, I know better that I need to save money on anything I can.  Legal textbooks are terribly expensive.  Some books cost nearly $200.  That is almost as much as the tuition for the course!

This term I lucked out and purchased my book on ebay for a deeply discounted price, at the school bookstore the price is over an hundred dollars, I got mine for $12.  If you figure out your classes ahead of time, you can save major money buying your books online.  Try half.com, ebay, powell’s and amazon.  For classes I know that the latest material won’t matter, I buy the prior editions of books, sometimes they haven’t even changed the questions at the back of the chapters!  This way I can get my books for just a few dollars compared to hundreds.  If I realize a week into the term that getting the prior edition was a mistake, my risk was only worth a few dollars extra.  And if I am in the clear and the old edition is okay, then I have saved a bundle.  So far I have only missed one test question because I had the older book.  I have only tested this method in my paralegal courses, so I can’t vouch for how it works in other fields.  Considering that the older books are usually under $10 I think it is a risk worth taking, if you don’t need the newest book, you have saved a bundle.

I remember my first time around in college, I also bought a lot of fancy school supplies.  School supplies, I didn’t really need and that cost a lot of money because they were pretty or colorful.  Now I am still using up those old supplies, and when I do need to buy new ones, I just get the standard no frills stuff.  I don’t need a five dollar notebook.  I can take notes that I won’t read again after the term is over on a cheap legal pad and get just as much out of it.  I also don’t need seperate supplies for each class, one note pad and pen will do just fine for all my classes as long as I label my notes properly.



{June 17, 2008}   Tell All Tuesday

So, I have been offered a new job! And I am waiting for an offer from a second place next week. I am on fire!

That aside, as far as where things are for me right now, I am still not really savvy on my savings and debt reduction efforts. My husband has the passwords to the savings account. I am committing to fixing that this week, so that I can be more accountable.

Things that have come up this week, because I am leaving my job, all my vacation will be cashed out. Being childfree, means I don’t have to worry about cutting out a vacation. No little kid is going to be told, sorry no disney land, mommy took a new job. I like that freedom to change jobs, store vacation for a payout. That payout from not taking my vacation and then quitting means I will have a lump sum I can assign to savings or debt reduction or buying new clothes for my new job. All this needs to be taken into account.

Depending on what job I end up taking, there might be a change in income for the better or worse. The job I recently accepted will turn out to be a de facto pay cut because of the out of state income tax I will have to pay. However the one I am waiting on and will likely get and offer for will not have that issue and may end up to be a pay raise. Lets keep our fingers crossed. If I get a pay increase, I will need to focus on making sure that income is directed towards savings or debt reduction and not just absorbed into the regular budget.

My boss at my old job asked me to consider coming in on weekends to help with emergencies and special projects, I accepted his offer. Oftentimes these things never end up happening, I plan to actually follow up with him a week from my last day to tell him I am interested and then follow up a month later to keep it fresh. Likely he will never end up calling me in, but I can try to keep on his mind so that I can make some extra dough to help especially if I do not get the offer for the in state job, and I suffer that income tax induced pay cut. Again because I am childfree, my weekends are mine to use to work extra, or to totally veg out or to make fun and busy with entertainment or cleaning. I like the fact that I can assign all that time flexibly, childed people would have to find childcare to even spend a small part of their weekend on themselves or saddle their spouse with that responsibility to watch the kids.

Our car has been acting up, and I was actually afraid on the way to my meeting with my new employers today that it would die on the street. All my spare money is going into an emergency savings fund towards emergency replacement of my car. We are looking into getting the smallest car with the best possible gas mileage for our money. But more likely, I will just be taking the bus. I know you can take kids on the bus, but again this is an area where I have freedom, I actually feel sorry for parents with kids on the bus, when they cry and run amok it must be so embarrassing.

This week was bad because my husband forgot to file for unemployment. He can’t get it back, but he can resume it next week, so we are down over two hundred dollars from what I projected for the month. Thankfully we have been saving so well that it won’t hurt us too badly, and I have cracked down on spending for the rest of the month in an attempt to recoup what was lost. We are eating from canned foods and what we already have. I tried spam for the first time this week, it was actually okay, greasy, but tastes like bacon and hotdogs, both things I like. My husband is nearly as picky as a child when it comes to eating, but for the most part I can cook all sorts of weird foods and eat poor for a few weeks to find extra money, I would hate to make a kid eat some of the stuff I get by on when I am poor.

My husband is quitting smoking cigarettes that should save us $24. My friend gave me an old gift card she wasn’t using to Nordstrom so I used that to buy myself a new interview shirt (a semi planned expense). The gift certificate saved me $20 (the shirt I bought was $50, but I would have bought a cheaper shirt at target if it was from my money). If we cut our grocery spending down to the bare essentials for the rest of the month that saves us $60. I will take the bus as much as I can next week, that should save $20. So all together with what I have figured out we can recoup $124 of what was lost. And I am going to try hard to find other places to cut corners.

I commit to having a better handle on my ledger next week.



After work, I haven’t many responsibilities except for those I want to take on for myself. I can do what I want with my time. And I want to spend it wisely either really enjoying myself or investing in myself for a better future. This article will be about pleasurable evening activities, I will address investment activities in another article in the series.

Many nightlife activities are expensive and bad for your health. Smokey clubs and drinking in bars are expensive and not conducive to health and well being. Breathing in that smoke can give any allergic or asthmatic an attack and drinking more than moderately can lead to a barrage of health disorders, think of your liver! Sitting at World of Warcraft or watching television for hours every night can contribute to obesity. However, if you are creative and open your horizons there are many frugal activities for your evenings.

Barbecue

This summer, barbecues aren’t only for weekends. Invite a few friends over and fry up some garden burgers, zucchini, sis-kabobs, and some chicken sausages (or if you don’t mind the calories, some hot dogs, ribs and hamburgers). Even just a few people standing outside on your porch and gabbing can attract neighbors and hilarious conversation. Last month we had some outstandingly good weather for May and my husband and I had a few other childfree friends and neighbors over and told dirty jokes. I don’t have to worry about making some of these plans at the drop of a hat and neither do my friends. So night life can be free-flowing.

Live Action Role-Playing Games

You may not know what these are, but if you like watching horror or adventure movies, imagine spending a night in one! In cities all over North America and Britain you can play in a Live Action Roleplaying Game for a very low price. My husband and I play for between 2-3 dollars each for 4 hours of entertainment. I get dressed up as a character, write up a sheet of things my character can do to affect the world around her strategy wise, and I plan a personality for her. Then I go into a grange hall or similar space and interact with others who have done the same thing. You can try this out at home with a Mystery Dinner, but you can take it onto a bigger level with LARPing. You don’t have to be a great actor, just be willing to have an imagination is enough. There are games where you can play heroes, vampires, werewolves, and even fairies. You connect with other people and are creative at the same time. Its a game and with some time put into it you feel like you are in an epic movie or video game rather than passively sitting and watching it happen.

Card and Table Games

If you like Cribbage or Bridge or even Poker, a game where you bet tokens not money can be a stimulating and fun way to spend an evening with others. Playing games of any sort is a great way to interact with others. My friends and I get together and play strategy games together and have hours of fun and entertainment.

A bit of a warning though, collectible card games are not very frugal, there are always new editions being released and you can sink thousands of dollars into collecting pieces of cardboard with pictures on them to make the perfect deck, that later a new release of the game will make extinct. If games like Magic the Gathering are your thing, and you want to be Frugal, consider playing for fun instead of to collect. If you just make yourself a deck or two by buying the cards you want individually instead of buying packs and packs of cards in the hopes you will find the right card, you could save a lot of money. You can likely make yourself a few great decks for 20-50 dollars a piece buying the cards individually versus sinking hundreds or more seeking the cards in the grab bag. My friends and family have literally bags and bags and boxes of these cards, of which maybe two hundred of the little cards get used and thousands sit on the sides gathering dust and representing the wasted money.

Try picking up the humble set of playing cards and see if you can have fun with the hundreds of games that can be played with them. I got my deck of cards for a dollar. My favorite card game is Spit.

Multiplayer Videogames

When my husband has three friends over and they play a multi-player video game, they have so much fun! I think usually they need one to two copies of the game and a couple TVs. We have two TVs and usually his friends even bring theirs over. I think for the amount they spend on these games the hours of fun they have is worth it. They have learned for the one player games to each buy different games and trade them around as to save money. But on the really good multi-player games they get together hook up their consoles and have tons of fun shooting each other on screen. Some games they bought forever ago are still fun for them to play, like Halo.

The Park

I short walk in the park in the evening with a friend or partner can be so much fun. You can see so many animals and the smells of the flowers and other plants is very refreshing. You can make this exercise or you can just walk slowly and enjoy. I have heard some people talk about bird watching, I rabbit and snake watch. I get a lot of joy out of sighting a cute bunny hopping around or seeing a snake sunning herself in the last rays of the sunset. Consider really being in nature and looking at whats around you. This is usually free, most parks have free entrance. Some gardens cost a small fee to visit, but usually have an affordable membership if you like to visit often.

What do you do that is frugal and fun for your child free night life?

My next article in this series will address serious things you can do with your time to invest in yourself–your health, career, income, and intelligence.



et cetera