We’re “starting fresh” this January, completing 22 mini-challenges in 22 days for a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. Just joining us? Read about the what’s and why’s on the mini-challenges, as well as the previous days tasks, and jump right on in!
We discussed the importance of a grocery budget on day three of this series. There were some really good tips offered in that post and Dave Ramsey’s suggestion of spending 5-15% of your income on food has been bouncing around in my head ever since. Given by the comments left on that challenge (as well as my own budget accountability series), it seems no one is immune to the challenge of budgeting. My hope is that the task set before you today helps alleviate some of the strain.
Day 7 – Make Money
Remember that the goal of this series is a cleaner, fresher, and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. We can clean out all of our cabinets and rid our kitchen of chemically-laden foods until the cows come home, but if we don’t have the money to pay for the good stuff then we’re just left with empty cupboards.
It’s no joke that some of the healthier food options are more expensive. Out here in California we pay $2.49/lb for whole, pasture-fed organic chickens. That’s a hefty price tag compared to the 59¢/lb sales you can find for the conventionally raise chickens in the grocery stores. And have you SEEN the price of pasture-fed, organic eggs?! At 33¢ per egg, you start to think twice about making cookies. Whether or not someone eats that last piece of carrot bread is a not up for discussion – it’s too expensive NOT to eat!
Despite the cost, I firmly believe the health of my family is worth the price tag. In order to keep the grocery budget in check, I’ve embraced some other ways to help bring home the bacon… so we can REALLY bring home bacon!
Before I go any further, I want to offer a disclaimer: please don’t sacrifice your family time or sanity in an attempt to suddenly make hundreds of extra dollars each month. In fact, don’t sacrifice either of those for a few extra bucks either. Time is a precious and limited commodity.
With that said, the ideas below can fit into our already busy lives. Spending hours and hours each day to only make $5 in the end is not a good investment of our time. Instead, aim for 5-15 minutes each day for a $5-15 payout each month. This should be enough to cover the upgrade from a 2-pack of conventional chicken from Costco to a 2-pack of organic chicken, plus a dozen eggs.
I have a love affair with Swagbucks. This is hands down, my number one favorite way to make money. I mean, what could possibly be better than earning money for doing something you were already going to do?!
For those who don’t know, Swagbucks rewards you for searching online and completing other tasks like the daily poll, watching short videos and playing games. You can easily earn 20 Swabucks in a matter of a few minutes each day (while checking email, reading the Crumbs newsletter or surfing the Crumbs facebook page ). Make it to 450 Swagbucks and you can cash out for a $5 Amazon gift card (among other cool prizes and gift cards).
Over time I’ve learned quite a few “shortcuts” to Swagbucks that allow you to maximize your earnings and by being diligent, earning 80+ Swagbucks every day is not uncommon. With upgraded technology, most of those are earned by your mobile device or Kindle without effort from you! You then spend your gift card money on whatever you want, but Nourishing Traditions and an immersion blender would be high on my list.
After being apprehensive yet intrigued, I recently signed up to be a secret shopper for Amusement Advantage, a company that specializes in family-oriented activities like zoos and indoor skydiving. The kids and I went to the aquarium last weekend, had a fun (and educational) trip and got paid $45 for two hours of work. Not too shabby, eh? If you’ve ever considered doing this, I’d highly recommend it. You don’t have to sign up for activities either – food, mall train rides and even test driving cars are other options.
To forewarn, not all payouts are big – I saw a dining option that only paid $5. However, it’s something fun and out of the ordinary to do that you may end up really liking. And that’s an extra $5 that can go towards that chicken, right?
There are lots of different companies out there, but if secret shopping sounds interesting to you, start with MSPA to make sure you choose a vendor that’s reputable. The best part is that you shop, or don’t shop, according to you and your family’s schedule. Take on more if you have the time, or don’t sign up for any if you already have a lot going on.
Jingit, Shopkick and Ibotta are the most popular saving/earning apps out there, but MoneySavingMom posted yesterday a compilation of apps that allow you make money while doing something you’d already be doing. Some require purchases, but some don’t. She even has the SwagbucksTV App listed! Check out her post for some other great ideas if you have a mobile device, including a Kindle!
When Mr. Crumbs and I relocated to California, we listed every large item in our house on Craigslist and sold it all in one day. The whole house was gone in a matter of hours. No. Joke.
The next day we grouped smaller items together and sold them as package deals. For example, we collected all of the duplicate kitchen utensils, extra kitchen and bath towels, pot holders and the random unwanted pots and advertised it as the “college special – perfect for a college student or someone just moving out on their own.” Again, everything we listed sold within 24 hours.
Priced right, anything will sell on Craigslist. Instead of collecting things you won’t use and keeping things you don’t need, sell them and make some money! There really is no sense in having a box sit in your closet for two years, holding things you will never use (ahem, note to self).
Set aside the money you make and use it to stock up when pasture-raised chickens go on sale, to buy a quarter or half a cow, or to try out a new sweetener like stevia or palm sugar (or stick around for a few weeks and try your luck in a giveaway!).
None of these ideas will make you rich. They’re just a few tools that can earn a few bucks to help lift some of the strain when it comes to affording some of the higher end ingredients. The amount of money you make is up to you. Just know that there are other ways to afford quality food, other than paying for it out of your paycheck. The ideas above are tried and true. I wouldn’t recommend anything I didn’t do myself.
One last little note worth mentioning… if you did a little bit of all of the above, you could outright pay for your entire monthly grocery bill!
Day 5 & 6 Update
My apologies for not having an update on my freezer clean out for you guys yesterday. It was after dinner Monday night before I got a chance to clean it out and by the time it was clean and re-stocked, there were only a few precious minutes left of the evening… so I played Wii with my kids.
Here’s the before:
Yikes! Scary, right? That cheese is just CLINGING to the door for its dear life, lol! I’ll admit to not really caring how things were arranged leading up to this week… mostly because I knew I’d have to take it all out and put it back again, lol. But this is probably the messiest it’s ever been. I’m usually wound up tight about fridge & freezer organization. Thankfully, here’s the after:
Notice those clear bins? There are three in the freezer – one for vegetables and cheese, one for chicken and another for other meats (beef/turkey/tilapia). Our freezer is extra small (as in a 9″ x 13″ pan gets squeezed in sideways) so maximizing our space this way is really the only option at the moment. Unless one of you lovely readers wants to donate us a new fridge…
Our dinner last night was pasta with homemade sauce and rosemary olive oil bread. Both the sauce and bread were already made so it only took boiling noodles. Simple dinners are on our menu every Wednesday with our weekly commitments, so be on the lookout for more simple dinner ideas when the two-week menu plans roll out next month!
What creative ideas do you implement for bringing home extra cash?
Disclosure: Some of the links above are referrals, but as I mentioned – I wouldn’t suggest any service or idea if I didn’t already do it myself or be willing to give it a try!