No More Gym Expenses

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I want to take care of my body and my health, but I don`t want to waste money.  I`ve been scrutinizing my monthly budget to see where I could make more cuts, like I did with my cellphone plan, and from April 1st I´m cutting down on the gym expenses. I`ve experienced that exercise helps with the fibromyalgia, giving me more energy, and lessening the pain, which is probably why I have been so hesitant with quitting the gym.  I`ve been going to this relatively cheap gym for a year or so, but ever since August when I started Uni with an extra classload to finish up my BA faster, there really hasn`t been time enough to exercise.  But quitting the gym, doesn`t mean I have to stop exercising. …continue reading

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Budget Friendly Cooking – What`s in your pantry?

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Save Money – Cut down Grocery Budget – Organize the Food – Cook with what you`ve got

In order to save more money I`m trying to cut down on my food-budget this month, and one way of doing that is by cooking with what you`ve got. My cupboards were getting quite messy, so today I  cleaned the cupboard, wrote down every food item, and then organized the food. I also organized the freezer, and noted down whatever I found. And there were a lot more food than I`d thought:

Baking supply: Whole wheat, Whole-wheat flour coarsely ground, Whole-wheat flour finely ground, Wheat bran, Sunflower kernels, Pumpkinseeds, Flax seeds, Yeast, Flour, Vanilla sugar, Baking powder, Baking soda, Dark syrup, Light syrup, Demerara sugar, Sugar, Brown sugar, Confectionary sugar, Cocoa powder, Sweet condensed milk.

Dry Ingredients: Pasta Penne, Pasta Tagliatelle, Jasmine rice, Brown lentils, Red lentils, Tomato soup, Béarnaise sauce, Gravy, Oatmeal, Polenta, Muesli, Pistachio, Raisins, Saltines,

Freezer: Broccoli, Lingonberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, 6 Nan bread, 10 Tortilla, Hamburger bread, Portion Bread, Brioche, Sourdough Bread, 4 calzones, Pizza sauce, Pork, 2 Chicken Breasts, 4 Ground Pork meat, 4 Ground Beef,  2 Turkey Breasts, 2 Tenderloins of Pork, 1 Tenderloin of Pork BBQ, some Chicken wings, 3 portions of smoked salmon.

Fridge: Spring onion, Onion, Ham, Salsa, Butter, Whipping cream, Tomato pure, Milk Chocolate, Apples, Oranges, Bananas.

With these ingredients in mind, I decided to make the following meal plan, trying to incorporate food items I already got.

Meal Plan
Monday: Creamy Pasta with Ham & Mushroom
Tuesday: Norwegian Stew
Wednesday: Scrambled egg & smoked salmon with bread
Thursday: European Pancakes
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Turkey Breast with creamy mushroom sauce
Sunday: Pasta Bolognese

For the next 4 weeks, I`ll be using what I`ve got as the main ingredients, and try to only buy items of food that`s absolutely needed. My starting budget is $421, but hopefully I`ll have some money left after one month.

What are you ways of cutting down the food expenses?

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Be SMART about phone use and SAVE money

In September 2012 I had finally saved enough money to buy a smart phone. But then there was the choice of choosing a reasonable cell phone plan. What`s usual in Norway, is to have a plan which has a lot included. At that point, there was only one I thought fitting to my cell phone use, a plan that cost me $35 a month. And it included 600 texts, 600 mms, 600 minutes and 1000MB, which I thought was a great deal!

6 months later, I find myself realizing that I never use the phone that much, so I don`t get the value of the monthly cost of $35! So I went online to my cell phone plan contractor, to see if they had something that would suit my phone use better. That`s when I discovered a new cell-phone plan! Sure it only included 150 texts, MMS, MB and minutes, but that should be sufficient for my use. And it only cost $17.50! That would mean cutting my cell phone bill in HALF!

By changing my phone plan, I`ll now save $210 a year!! And!! Another genius thing I intend to do, is instead of adding that extra $17.50 a month to my spending money, I`m going to save the money. I intend to make an automatic transfer of $17.50 to my Vacation savings account each month! This way I make sure that I really do save money by cutting my phone plan in half! 😉 So be SMART and start SAVING money! 

ImageA Dublin snapshot, one of the places I`ve saved up months in advance to visit!

What about you? How are your cell phone bills? Is there anything you could cut back on? Is there anything else you`d rather spend the money on?

My Old School Savings Method

ImageRemember this old thing?

This Christmas I spent 1$ on this piggy bank, that doesn`t at all look like a piggy bank, but I have no idea what else you call it in English, in Norwegian it`s just called a “sparebøsse”, which doesn`t make much sense either, just that it`s something you save money in. Anyway, back to topic. I bought this in order to save some cash for my summer vacation, and I guess you`re all thinking, “why aren`t you saving the money in a real bank?” Well, here`s my answer. This “piggy” bank doesn`t have an easy way of taking out money whenever I need (i.e. want) it. I have to physically destroy by using a can opener to get to the money.

As for me, who is used to a 24/7 accessability to my online bank, having money on a savings account with literally no interest at all, can be too tempting. I don`t really earn anything by having the money in the bank, which makes it so much more “acceptable” in my mind to dip into. I do have a special savings account for holidays and vacations, and well, let`s just say it`s too easy to access them. That´s why I decided to save cash. Now do keep in mind, this is only for a short-period and for a limited amount of money. I do of course have more serious savings account that I never dip into, like my saving for-a-house account, or my emergency savings.

And before you ask, I`ve already paid for my airline tickets, and the accommodation is free, as it`s my parents apartment I`ll be living in. The money I`m saving up now is just for food, entertainment and shopping. So until June I`ll keep on saving cash. So far I`ve saved about 150$! And by adding some cash now and then the next three months, it`ll probably be a nice surprise when I eventually have to use that dreaded can-opener!

Do you ever go old school like me when it comes to smaller saving goals?

Meal Plan

One of the biggest things that I save money on is buying groceries once a week. In order to do this thoroughly, without having to go back the next day, is to make a meal plan. There isn’t much space in our fridge, but we do have a big freezer, so we generally keep to one-week meal plans; which often include making big batches of food that can be frozen down.

When I make meal plans, we first discuss what we would like to have for dinner the following week, with a focus on balancing between chicken, fish and red meat. I also like to have a meat-free meal every week. I usually look into the cupboard, fridge and freezer first, making sure to use whatever we already have. Then I write down the things we would need to buy to cover 7 dinners, breakfasts and lunch for two.  If my BF is working evening shift(s) that week, I usually don’t make any dinner that day, as it`s only me, and I don’t mind having some scrambled eggs and homemade bread for dinner. This way we save even more.

An example of a regular dinner meal-plan for us would be:

Monday: Tomato soup with Macaroni, boiled eggs and Fresh bread.

Tuesday: Shepherd’s Pie

Wednesday: Chicken & Pasta Salad

Thursday: Fish au Gratin (a Norwegian casserole made with white fish, macaroni, and white sauce with a breadcrumb crust) with grated Carrot.

Friday: Pasta Bolognese & Salad

Saturday: Burritos with homemade Tortillas and Guacamole.

Sunday: pork Tenderloin with Creamy Potatoes au Gratin, Gravy and Broccoli

All of these dinners are homemade, so there are no scary additives or unneccessary sugar or salt.

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