• Well, as you can see, I’ve been a busy beaver, though not when it comes to blogging. We’ve been involved (more like consumed) with music projects, preparing for our 3rd Annual Summer Music Intensive, and setting up a new budgeting program which I am really pleased with. I have actually been doing a lot of cooking (gluten free and mostly vegan) and will even start posting about that soon. But for now….

    About a month ago, we decided to make some changes and it has been really rewarding in a lot of ways. While it might seem that the impetus was financial, that is only part of the story. We also wanted to make a change to the way we spend the hours we have each and every day. We started by getting rid of the TV in the kitchen. We put it upstairs in one of our spare bedrooms, along with a DVD player and a bunch of exercise DVDs. We canceled our TV cable (still have cable modem), we bought bikes, we canceled Netflix. Sounds rather drastic I know. But we both felt that we spent too many hours in front of one screen or another. Bottom line: the changes have already reaped many positive benefits. We’re both listening to a lot more music, I get up in the morning and do one of the exercise DVDs (yes, it’s a screen, but at least I’m not being a couch potato), we’re taking time to go biking together, and we’re renting movies from the public library. AND saving money at the same time!

    We also decided to try and only use cash for items that we would’ve bought with a credit card. How, you ask? We froze our credit cards! Literally. In a plastic container filled with water. Deep in the freezer! It’s worked great except for one blip.

    On Sunday, I drove to a nearby outlet to return some clothing I’d purchased at the end of May and found that I didn’t really need or want. I arrived only to find out that you have to have your original credit card (the one I used to buy the stuff in the first place) in order to get the refund. I totally forgot that my credit card was in the freezer:).

    With the cost of gas and home heating oil rising, we’ve had to really give our budget a once-over. I’m pleased to say that it hasn’t been painful at all. I’ve tried a number of different budgeting programs over the years and I finally found one that is excellent. It’s called (duh) You Need A Budget. It has a very active and enormously helpful online forum that you have access to once you sign up. The cost is very reasonable and is well worth the investment.

    I’m not usually in the habit of recommending anything other than food-related items on my blog. Though I never mentioned it on this blog, I am passionate about learning to live within a budget. I’ve tried everything, honestly. Years ago, I tried putting our budgeted money into envelopes (when we combined families, we had to figure out a way to live within a budget)! Fourteen years later: You Need A Budget seems to be the ticket.

    So, if anyone is interested in giving themselves a real gift, get your own copy of YNAB using this link: 10% off YNAB! That gives you a 10% discount on the program, and I end up receiving a small portion of the proceeds (very small, but hey, every bit counts!).

    Good luck and stay tuned for new recipes and GF ideas!
    • Rachel

      This is a very timely post, Ellen, and full of good advice. And you’re not the only one looking to trim their household budgets. I’m so concerned about heating costs this winter (we heat with two woodstoves but an oil burner kicks on at night) and I shudder to think what other people, especially seniors on fixed incomes, are going to do if they rely on electric or gas/oil heat exclusively.

      I look forward to more of your posts!

    • Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS


      Hello! Your site is wonderful and your recipes look very good, too! I will be back.

      We need a budget, too. 😀

      Love, Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS

    • Sally Parrott Ashbrook

      Yay for cutting out tv and for budgeting! Both require some effort but offer great rewards. 😀

    • Ellen

      Hi Rachel – I’m so glad you liked my post about budgeting. I agree – I can’t imagine what people are going to do this year. It’s going to be a tough one.

      Wardeh – yes, I think everyone could do with a budget, but I try to be careful not to preach about it. Money is kind of a sensitive topic for most people. For me, I’m REALLY glad we made a budget with http://www.youneedabudget.com. I can already see a difference.

      Sally – I don’t think I could’ve predicted how pleased I would be at cutting out TV. I have listened to more music in the last few weeks than I have in the last few years. It’s been great. And the budget has helped us see life through a different lens. We’re trying to figure out ways to enjoy life without spending tons (if any) of money. Today, for example, we rode our bikes and also took books out of the library. I found a bunch of cookbooks that I’ve had my eye one (to buy), and someday I will. But for now, I can read them and then return them.

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