Aldi’s Saves! Grocery Goddess!

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My husband and I both received life-changing gifts for Christmas. Both of us received a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.  Considering we are in our 40’s and feeling healthy and spry, this was rather a surprising bout of news.  We’d both need to change our diets and habits since we both were setting retirement goals that involved living.   Welcome to middle age!

Healthy foods are expensive, and not as exciting as the fabulously fatty goodies. Kale or eclair?  Hmmmm.  Suddenly choosing what to eat is not all that fantastic. My trip to the Kroger organic section netted me a $290 grocery cart, for two, for the week.  No can do!  I needed less expensive healthy alternatives.  I turned to shopping at Aldi’s.

If you have an Aldi’s grocery store near you, you are one of the lucky ones.  Aldi’s rivals Whole Foods in healthy and organic selections, except Aldi’s is at rock bottom prices. A grocery cart full at Aldi’s is $80.  I got Elevation protein powder chocolate drink mix for $15.99.  This makes a low carb, 30 gram of protein drink for well under a $1 per serving that is equivalent in nutrition to the very expensive Ensure nutrition drink at about $2.50 per serving.  The least expensive source of protein are eggs!  About a dollar to two dollars a dozen – hard boil them – and have them for snacks or meals. Aldi’s has a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables and fruits, with organic choices as well, for prices that rival any local farmers’ market. Aldi’s has meal replacement bars, high protein, low carb foods and better selections than my local Kroger did for a fraction of the cost.  Bottom line is shop at Aldi’s for fresh produce and any staples for the pantry.  Bring your own shopping bags or buy them there for 6-cents each. Just reuse your old bags for free and save the planet.

Aldi’s is great for curbing the temptation to over spend on items you do not need. It is a store of mainly just the basics, with aisles set up more like warehouse shopping that a store with fancy end-cap displays to grab your attention. There are only four rows in an Aldi’s store, thus eliminating the ability to stray in to junk-food heaven aisles where trespassing is a no-no for the waistline.  Having fewer rows of food items means you can more easily stick to the grocery list and not be tempted to purchase items not on the list.

If you can grow a garden, by all means, do so.  Even a small elevated bed or patio pots for fresh vegetables is less expensive  (and organic) than the grocery store. However, some of us do not have the weather or space to adequately grow a garden.  I will post much more on gardening later!

WalMart is a Wonderland!  If you download the WalMart app on your phone, then whatever you purchase at WalMart will be saved as an electronic receipt to your app.  No only do you never have to worry about losing a receipt again, the BEST THING is that the WalMart app offers price matching and automatically scans your WalMart purchase on the receipt.  For example, if there is a sale at Aldi’s for head lettuce that week for 50-cents, and WalMart’s head lettuce that you just bought is 89-cents, you will automatically get the difference in the form of a WalMart credit!  So, it is always safe to shop at WalMart for the best prices, IF YOU USE THE WALMART APP.    If you have questions about this, go to the customer service desk in WalMart and ask the clerk to show you about it.   This is an extraordinary way to shop for groceries and know that you are getting the best possible prices on the items in your cart.

I will post much more on healthy, inexpensive eating on a budget (and living with diabetes) in future posts!

Happy, healthy shopping!

First House Purchase- A Saver!

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Good Day!

I’ve flipped a lot of houses.  A LOT.  Flipping a house is a phrase that I use meaning buy it, improve it, and sell it for a higher price to make a profit.  I’d like to share some stories of how I bought some super saver houses and how I used money creatively to pay for them.

My first house was tiny, old, ugly, but a clean beginning.  Here is how I made money on my first house.  Price Tag?  $6,000.

I bought a house for $6,000.  Yes!  I didn’t have $6,000.  I went to the bank to apply for a mortgage loan and got turned down.  Why?   The bank did not even offer mortgage loans on houses that were that cheaply priced, that’s why.  The house was to inexpensive that it did not even meet the bank’s criteria of a house they would loan money on.  So, I borrowed $6,000 from the bank as a personal loan.  I didn’t have bad credit; I was only twenty years old, so I didn’t have any credit.  I opened a checking account at the bank to establish myself as a customer, and I asked for a personal loan of $6,000.  I had a work history since my teen years, working at a small clothing store at the mall, Size 5-7-9 Shop.  Since I didn’t fit into those clothes, as I was larger than a size 9, I was able to save money and not be tempted to spend all that I had earned on fancy new clothes purchases.  First step:  SAVE MONEY.  Something.  Anything.  Start saving.  Stop spending.

Let’s go back in time to 1989.  I was twenty years old and in search of my first house.  I looked for SOLID structure.  This means that the house must have a roof that isn’t leaking, a foundation that isn’t bowing or caving in, and is structurally sound. I looked for a working furnace.  I was not picky about decorations, colors, style.  I also looked for a safe location.

I found a for sale by owner house in a small town of about 500 people.  It was a safe town, had a post office, a tiny mom and pop grocery store, good roads, a volunteer fire department… and that’s about it.  The house was right next door to the fire department.  Upside?  Response time in case of fire.  Downside?  Siren sometimes blared in the middle of the night.  I could deal with that.  This was in small, rural Ohio.

The house was owned by an elderly man who was selling it for his deceased elderly mother. It did not bother me if she had passed away in the house or not.  To be honest, I did not ask.  Some home buyers are stigmatized by the thought of buying a property in which someone has passed away in a violent or tragic manner in a home. This, however, in this case, did not concern me, since there was no violent news story or stigma attached to the house.

The house was a small white frame house built in about 1910.  It had no indoor bathroom (we’ll get to that adventure).  The living room walls were covered in wallpaper, orange flowers as big as pumpkins.  The living room carpet was a dusty-grey floral center rug that was smaller than the perimeter of the room and glued down to the linoleum beneath.  UGLY!  However, the walls were straight, the floor was straight and strong.  It consisted of three small bedrooms (without any closets), and one had to walk through one of the bedrooms to get to the other, known as a captive bedroom.  It had a large enough kitchen with nice pine cabinets, no appliances.  A deal at $6,000!   I bought it.

Here is the way to make money on houses.  LIVE IN THEM.  Then sell them.  The key?  LIVE IN THEM.  When you sell them, you recoup your investment. You have then lived for free with free shelter.  (Also, later when you apply for mortgage loans for houses, you get a better rate if you live in them, and you don’t pay capital gains taxes on the profits when you sell them if the home was your residence.)   LIVE IN THEM.

So, I moved into an ugly little house with pumpkin flowers on the walls and no indoor bathroom.  It had an outhouse. No, I didn’t use it. First order of business: install a toilet and convert one of the three bedrooms to a bathroom.

Shopping for bathroom fixtures was not done at retail stores.  That’s expensive!  Free, perfectly working fixtures are taken out of houses and discarded every day to make room for fancy new.  People will throw away many items that are re-usable and recyclable. Even toilets. I went to a plumbing salvage store in search of a free or very cheap toilet.  What I found was an amazing discarded garden-styled bathtub!  I bought the bathrub for $50 and I scored a free toilet that I cleaned with Clorox.  I bought a new toilet seat.  Cost?  A $50 luxury bathtub, a few bucks for a new plastic toilet seat and a dollar-bottle of Clorox. We ran a plumbing line from the under the bathroom floor, dug it through the yard, and into the public sewer. We ran plumbing lines from the kitchen to the bathroom.  In two days, I had a luxurious bath tub, hot bubble baths, and a functional and clean toilet. I also found a free bathroom vanity, cleaned it up and painted it white, and added a washing machine and drier to the bathroom. The old third bedroom was then successfully converted to a functional, clean and inviting bathroom, with laundry.

Over time, I removed the pumpkin flower wallpaper, found cheap and clean appliances for the kitchen, and added some new carpeting, remnants from a carpet store, for $70 total to carpet the entire house.  CLEANING can make any house look better.  Soap, water, and scrubbing.  Dirt and grime removed, being neat and organized, and maintaining your surroundings with daily cleaning keeps a house in order.

I lived in this house for two years, keeping it clean and tidy.  I sold it for $14,500, word of mouth, without a realtor. Today, one can use social media for free to sell their own home via word of mouth.  I made a profit of about $8,000 on the house, considering that I had some small costs to plumb a bathroom where a bedroom once was.

Fast forward.  By now age twenty-two, within only two years, I had:

  1. Established credit
  2. Bought and sold a house
  3. Learned where to obtain free or cheap bathroom fixtures and new carpeting
  4. Learned the value of hard work
  5. Lived in my own house for free and avoided paying any rent
  6. Walked away with $8,000 cash in my pocket to embark on my next house flipping adventure!

Stay tuned for more posts of my adventures of where I lived next and how I made a profit! ….

 

The Wallet Wizard – My Story

Hello!  I am Erin.  I am a wife, a mom, and even (ah-hem!) a (very young and glamorous) grandmother.  I have also been a college student, a divorcee (twice), and a single mom who was working three jobs with little babies and trying to stay afloat.  For a short while in the early 1990s, I relied upon the assistance of welfare, food stamps, and WIC.  I struggled.  In other words, if you are facing an uphill battle with a lack of funds, I HAVE BEEN WHERE YOU ARE – stretching to make ends meet, worried about how to pay the bills, tired and overworked, drowning in debt, and feeling alone without anyone to help. Does this sound familiar?

Fast forward… Where am I now?  I am no longer worrying about money. I have dabbled in real estate and flipped over twenty fixer-upper houses for a hefty profit.  I have been a school principal and an elementary school teacher who taught piano lessons, made and sold homemade Easter candy, babysat, bartended, and sold real estate on the side.  I reused and recycled, invested and reinvented.  I worked hard.  Trust me; I know exhausted!  But, I also worked SMART.  I chose to write this to tell you HOW I DID IT and HOW YOU CAN, TOO!   The American Dream is real, it is not elusive, and you can very capably and realistically capture it and thrive.  I did!  This is my story of welfare to a fat wallet and of the many smart ways that I chose to buy, spend, save and invest.  I hope that my experiences can help you to live a life free of money worries and more stress-free happiness.

The Wallet Wizard isn’t imaginary.  The Wizard is YOU.  You control the magic wand and cast the spells.  You have control over those magic wishes and wizard-like powers.  If you only wish for money but are not proactive and realistic about your plan to earn it and make it work for you, then all the wishing in the world can’t help you.  But, instead, we will focus on your “wizard powers”… the decisions that you make that will help to put… and keep… money in your wallet.

I am no financial analyst.  I have attained a masters degree (free!) and an all-but-dissertation doctorate degree (free!) in education administration. Impressive?  Well, that didn’t teach me how to manage finances; REAL LIFE struggles taught me a valuable thing or two. (I will also teach you how I earned college degrees for free!)  I will be writing an ongoing blog here for those who want to know how to make and save money. I will share my tips, my proven strategies and ideas to help you to save money for your household, utilities, children, grocery and essentials shopping, gifting, meal planning, ways to earn side money, further your education, and make wise career choices. I can also explain how I was successful at flipping real estate, multi-tasking, and time management.  I can teach you to save on beauty and personal care, share my money-saving home organization tips, to effortlessly build a savings account for investments, to use discover and utilize creative financing, pay off debts, build wealth, and how to invest in your future.  You are worth it!

Stop in daily and check for updates, tips, and real-life ways that you can save money!   See you soon!