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Taco soup is a favorite frugal dinner for our family. I love that it's not just a bunch of canned goods, but it's seriously just as fast. The best part is it's even cheaper and healthier than its canned good counterpart! You can add meat, but we eat it meatless.

Taco soup is known for being a quick meal to throw together.  Most people make it by dumping some canned goods into a pot with some meat and spices.  I’m all for a quick meal, but I do mine a little different than most people.

And the best part is it’s even cheaper than the can-dump version.  And better for you too!

But money and health aren’t the actual reasons why I started doing my taco soup like this.  The main reason is that canned beans have a tendency to gross me out.  I’m just not a big fan of that slimy liquid that accompanies canned beans.

If you’ve never cooked dry beans before you’ll notice that the price difference is pretty significant.  Canned beans are actually pretty expensive for what they are.  Dry beans are super cheap, especially when you buy them in bulk.  Cooking your own dry beans is as easy as can be.  I do it in my crock pot like this.  The best part is there’s no yucky slime!

The only drawback with cooking your own beans is that it takes time.  But don’t worry, I’ve figured that one out too.  I cook beans in big batches, then freeze them in the quantities that I will be using.  When I have menu planned, I grab them out of the freezer in the morning to thaw.  When I’m flying by the seat of my pants (which is not uncommon around here), I just toss the frozen chunk of beans in the pot where it will thaw in no time.

We usually eat beans on the day that I cook them, since they’re already warm.  On the day I took these pictures, I had just cooked a big ol’ crock pot of pinto beans.  I added some warm pinto beans to our taco soup and froze the rest of the pinto beans for future convenience.  As you can see in the picture, the black beans are curiously shaped as if they were frozen in a quart-size ziplock bag. They were.

Taco soup is a favorite frugal dinner for our family. I love that it's not just a bunch of canned goods, but it's seriously just as fast. The best part is it's even cheaper and healthier than its canned good counterpart! You can add meat, but we eat it meatless.

Another way to keep the cost super low is to not add meat.  With beans, you’re getting lots of protein (fiber and antioxidants, too), so save the meat for another meal and make this one meatless and super frugal.

I will tell you how to make my taco soup, but won’t give a taco soup “recipe” since I don’t use one.  And trust me, you can’t mess this one up even if you try!

Ingredients

  • pinto beans
  • black beans
  • frozen corn
  • tomato puree (You can read about how and why we bottle our tomatoes like this)
  • dehydrated onion (Of course fresh is fine, but dehydrated is faster and tear-free.)
  • taco seasoning (It is TACO soup, after all)
  • other seasonings to taste (salt, garlic, cumin, etc)

Taco soup is a favorite frugal dinner for our family. I love that it's not just a bunch of canned goods, but it's seriously just as fast. The best part is it's even cheaper and healthier than its canned good counterpart! You can add meat, but we eat it meatless.

Directions

Put it all in a pot and heat until hot.  Add additional seasonings to taste.

See– I told you it was easy.

To serve, I like to add some cheese and sour cream.  Cheese takes everything up a notch, though it would be more frugal without it.  If we have tortilla chips around, we break them out for taco soup. Cornbread is another good option.

Taco soup is a favorite frugal dinner for our family. I love that it's not just a bunch of canned goods, but it's seriously just as fast. The best part is it's even cheaper and healthier than its canned good counterpart! You can add meat, but we eat it meatless.

There you have it!  Taco soup that is still quick and easy, only it’s cheaper and healthier than the can version!

How about you?

  • What frugal meals to you make with beans?

 

The post Fast and Frugal Taco Soup appeared first on Six Figures Under.



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What is it that makes us sheepish to talk about things that involve money? Why is it more socially acceptable to ask about a newlywed couple's plans for having children than to ask them what they are paying for rent? Should income be a taboo topic?

Originally published May 11, 2016

Talk of money, especially as it relates to us personally, can really be a taboo topic.  Whether it’s asking how much your friend’s new purse cost or telling your neighbor how much you bought your house for, we’re afraid to ask and we’re afraid to tell.

Are we worried about what others will think?  Depending on who you’re talking to, the same sale or purchase could be too much or not enough.

Here’s a simple example:

Just the other day on social media, a friend posted a before and after of her house’s new paint job.  Another friend who was looking to get his house painted, asked what company did the work and how much it cost if she didn’t mind sharing.

It’s that last part that caught my attention.

While it’s a completely normal and polite to be extra sensitive when asking such “personal” information as how much it costs to get your house painted, I wonder why it’s so personal?

Income: the taboo topic

There’s something about income that’s super personal, too.  People are afraid to ask.  People are afraid to tell.

The big question is why?  Why are we so sensitive about people knowing our income?

Are we worried that it will make them feel bad for us because we don’t make “enough?”

Are we worried that others will feel bad about themselves because they don’t make “enough?”

Are we worried that if someone knows our income they will judge the way we budget our money?

Most people don’t make their personal finances public each month.  We have put ourselves in a unique situation. I’m definitely not advocating that everyone go public with all of their numbers.

Honestly, I’m not necessarily advocating that you be completely open about your money, but I’m just curious about why it’s all overly hush-hushed.

Why is money-talk so personal?

What is it that makes us sheepish to talk about things that involve money?

Why is it more socially acceptable to ask about a newlywed couple’s plans for having children than to ask them what they are paying for rent?

These are real questions.  I would love to hear your opinion.  Feel free to share you feelings about disclosing income in the comments at the end.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a stab at it.

I would say that it’s because our income is so (wrongly) tied to our worth and value as a individuals.

Here’s a non-finance example to illustrate my point:

When my younger brother was taking college entrance exams back in high school, he was naturally really curious what others’ scores were on the test.  Knowing that my husband is super smart, he was particularly interested in knowing what my husband’s scores were.  His curiosity came through often in conversation, but he never came out and asked.

My husband, who is never one to brag, was not going to flash his nearly perfect score.  However, had my brother come right out and asked, my husband would have had no problem revealing his score.

The same goes with income.  If you were to ask about my husband’s income, he would tell you, even when it was quite low.

In my husband’s case, I think the reason why he doesn’t feel like income or test scores are taboo is that he doesn’t tie his self-worth to those numbers.  On top of that, he is not worried about what others may think of him.  By the same token, he is non-judgmental about others’ numbers too.

Perhaps we keep money, especially income, a taboo topic out of insecurity?

 Is keeping quiet about finances a bad thing?

Our social media feeds are overflowing with overshares.  We’re so inundated with TMI, that sometimes you wonder if people do keep anything private these days.  Maybe keeping money as a taboo topic isn’t a bad thing.  Perhaps keeping everyone’s income hush-hush helps us to see others as equals.

In some ways though, I think it’s unfortunate that money-talk is taboo.  I think we can really learn a lot from one another about personal finance.

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we keep our debt a secret.  We won’t get the support we need from family and friends if no one knows the struggle we’re going through.

Between student loans, car loans, and credit card debt, debt affects a huge group of people.  Yet we all hide behind our smiles and pretend that finances are hunky dory, which isn’t helping anyone.

What do I propose?

If you thought I was building up to an initiative of social reform or of how I plan to change things from my little corner of the globe, don’t be disappointed.  I’m not advocating that you write your salary on your forehead or start asking nosy financial questions.

Instead, I just want you to ask yourself why income and money-talk are or are not taboo for you.  Then ask yourself if you like those reasons.  If you do, then keep it up.  If not, decide what you’ll change.

Just for the record, I do (usually) conform to these social norms and don’t ask or volunteer salary details right off the bat in real life (obviously this blog is a different story).  I am, however, more open about finances in person than most people.  By not being shy or apologetic about talking about money, others often open up too.  And I daresay they find it refreshing to talk about money, even if society thinks it’s taboo.

How about you?

  • Should talk of income or other money issues be taboo?  Why or why not?
  • What are the pros and cons of not shying away from money-talk?





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Save Electricity | Lower Electric Bill | Save Energy | How to Save Electricity in Summer

Originally published July 10, 2017

Electricity bills in the summer can be brutal!  Our summer rates are double and triple what they are in the winter.

If you’re lazy about conserving electricity in the winter, there is some serious motivation to buckle down in the summertime.

When we moved into our new house earlier in 2017, I signed up for OhmConnect, a free program that encourages people to save power by giving you cash for doing so!

Several times a week I’ll get a text notifying me of the next upcoming OhmHour (usually a day or two in advance), then during that hour, we try to use as little electricity as possible (or at least less than our projected usage).

We get our results a couple of days later and if our actual usage was below our projected usage, then we get points which translate directly into cash via PayPal. The lower your actual usage versus the projected usage, the more points you get.

I thought I was excited about OhmConnect, but it has been my kids that have really taken control and run away with it.  Since they’ve been so motivated and involved with saving electricity (both during OhmHours and generally), I’ve decided to put all the OhmConnect money we earn in our family fun fund.

Of course in addition to earning money through OhmConnect, we’re also saving money with a lower electric bill because we’re using less power.  Thanks to the OhmConnect program, we’ve closely examined our energy use and we know how to be savvy power consumers.

It definitely pays to be energy conscious!

We have learned that the little things we do to save electricity really do make a difference.  We already have good habits of the saving electricity in the big ways, but as we’ve gone the extra mile recently to tackle the little things too, we’ve seen great things happen (i.e. a cheaper electricity bill)!

Air dryer, not hair dryer

If you can get away with a summer ‘do’ that doesn’t require a hair dryer, it will pay off!  Any appliances that heat or cool suck lots of electricity.  Letting your hair air dry either at night or during the day is another way to keep you cool.  Plus, you aren’t heating up your house by blowing hot air into it!

Put a lid on it!

It doesn’t get more simple than this!  When you boil water, put a lid on your pot or saucepan.  The water will boil faster, which means you won’t have to keep the stovetop on as long.  Having the stove on as little as possible not only helps by reducing the amount of electricity needed, but also means you aren’t heating up your house as much, which is expensive to cool down.

Unplug it

Did you know that even when an appliance is off it’s still drawing power if it is plugged in?  True story.  It takes such little effort to unplug something when you’re not using it, but it can make a difference when you make unplugging a habit, especially in the summer when rates are higher.

Confession time.  I actually learned this a long time, but was too lazy to unplug things.  Could it really make that much of a difference?  Well, now, motivated by OhmHours and high summer electricity rates, we got in the habit of unplugging and it does make a difference!

Use free air conditioning

If you live in a place where it cools down at night, open your windows and let that cool air fill your home at night.  Before it heats up in the morning close the windows.  It’s so refreshing to feel the cool (sometimes even cold!) air in the morning!  This small daily habit makes a HUGE difference in how much we need to run our air conditioning.

Be the thermostat

Instead to setting our thermostat to a normal temperature, we set it ridiculously high during the summer (or ridiculously low in the winter).  In essence we use it as an on/off switch for our air conditioning.  With a high temperature set, the default is that the air is off.  We make a conscious decision to turn on the air when it gets too hot. Another benefit is that we don’t accidentally have the air running when we’re not even home.

Don’t cook

Many of us would love an excuse not to cook.  Am I right?  Not only does cooking take electricity, it heats up your home.  Summer is a great time to have a salad for dinner. (I hated salad until I was in my twenties, but this was the cure for me.)  If you like to grill, that’s a great way to keep the heat outside. I’m not above serving cold cereal for dinner on a hot day.

Use those window treatments

Curtains and blinds aren’t just to look pretty.  Make sure they’re being functional too!  Keep your house cool by drawing the curtains or closing the blinds when the sun is shining straight in and heating up your house.  In the winter, of course, you’ll want those window treatments open to capture that nice heat, but in the summer don’t let it make your house toastier.

Lights out!

Both my husband and I grew up with this habit, so it’s not a problem for us, but I have to mention it because it really is a super simple way to make a difference.  I’ve been in many homes where all the lights are on all the time.  If that sounds like your house, it’s time to make a new rule: Last one out of a room turns off the lights.

Shorten the shower

For a while I thought this was only a matter of conserving water, but I’ve since seen the error of my ways.  One Saturday night, I had four of our kids their take baths/showers right before an OhmHour started.  My thought was that if their baths were over when the OhmHour started we wouldn’t have to have lights in the three bathrooms on.  We ended up not meeting our goal that OhmHour because the water heater started doing its job (heating up the water for four simultaneous baths/showers) just as the hour we were conserving energy started.

That was the first time it hit me that shortening showers would reduce the amount of water that the water heater would have to heat, which is why shorter showers not only save water, but electricity too! Did you know that the water heater is one of the biggest power users in the house?

Ditch the dryer

If you already have a clothesline installed at your house, then it’s just a matter of choosing to use it.  If you don’t have a clothesline, then putting one up might take a little effort (more than the other suggestions on my list), but it will quickly pay for itself.

Every time I use my clothesline I get excited about the savings. Is that nerdy or what?! If you need some motivation, read these 9 reasons to use a clothesline.

Challenge Yourself

If you’re in California (or New York or some parts of Texas), I recommend signing up for OhmConnect to both make you aware of the power you’re using and motivate you to reduce it.  After you sign up you’ll need to sign a form (digital signature of the person whose name is on the utility account) giving permission for OhmConnect to have access to your utility account.  They use your history to determine your projected use for each OhmHour and to know your actual usage after the OhmHour occurs.

If you’re somewhere else, try having your own family challenge!  Take a look at your bill and what your family’s average usage is, then set a goal for how much you want to reduce your electricty usage.  Set up a reward that gets your family excited.  For example, you could tell your kids that if they can help reduce the bill by a certain amount of money, you’ll take half that amount and put it toward a fun family activity (bowling ice cream party, pizza, etc).  Each month you can heighten the challenge.

Not only will you save electricity and money, but you’ll create good habits have fun too!

How about you?

  • Do you make conscious efforts to reduce your electricity?
  • Are you savvy about how your electricity use is monitored and billed?
  • What simple things do you do to save electricity in the summer?





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My monthly grocery shopping trip didn’t go as planned. I always try to combine errands since the stores I shop at are a half hour away.  I had to drive a child to a practice that was near Winco so it was going to work out perfectly to do the shopping while I waited for her. I was excited because I would have my grocery shopping done bright and early on the first day of the month.

Only I left my purse at home.

I thought through my options. Winco doesn’t even take credit cards, so I was pretty certain they didn’t have any modern payment options via phone apps available either. So Winco was a no-go. Sam’s Club, on the other hand, would work out fine because I can use “Scan & Go” to checkout on the Sam’s Club app.

So this month’s monthly shopping is just Sam’s Club. I’ll probably stop by Winco later in the month when I’m in town, but there isn’t anything urgent that I need there. We will be just fine without going there in August. (Hooray for keeping a stocked pantry and having food storage!)

Sam’s Club- $151

  • Powdered Sugar (7 lb) $6.24
  • Brown Sugar (7 lb) $6.24 x 2 = $12.48
  • Croutons (32 oz) $5.28
  • Ranch Dressing $9.98
  • Parmesan Cheese $7.88
  • Spaghetti (6 lb) $5.48
  • Peanut Butter (40 oz x 2) $7.56 x 3 = $22.68
  • Tortillas (35 oz x 2) $6.18
  • String Cheese (36 ct) $7.34
  • Cottage Cheese (3 lb) $4.98
  • Shredded Cheese (5 lb) $17.18
  • Romaine $3.28
  • Ice Cream (1.25 gal) $7.28
  • Spinach (16 oz) $3.48
  • Broccoli (2 lb) $5.06
  • Gala Apples (5 lb) $5.88
  • Fuji Apples (5 lb)  $5.53
  • Sour Cream (3 lb) $4.98
  • Bananas (3 lb) $1.58 x 6 = $9.48





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My husband and I met in college.  We got married a few months after I graduated and he still had a few classes left.  We managed to walk away with two bachelor’s degrees and no debt.  We paid our own way and didn’t have full-ride scholarships.  It wasn’t easy, but we did it.

With the cost of a college education rising, you’ll want to make a plan early for how you are going to pay (or help pay) for your children’s education, or your own.  Looking at the numbers is overwhelming to say the least.  Squirreling away the complete cost of a college education might not be possible, but don’t let that stop you from doing something!

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  While it would be nice to count on a full-ride scholarship, the fact is that most people don’t get one. Diversifying your plan to afford college is the most practical way to make it happen.

Here are six practical ideas to help you prepare for the cost of college.

Choose an affordable school

The cost of tuition won’t be the only factor you’ll take into when choosing a college or university, but it should definitely be near the top. The range of tuition costs is enormous! In most cases, private universities are going to cost much more than state schools. When you compare costs of different schools, look at the big picture, not just the cost of tuition. Be sure to take into consideration the cost of living.

Don’t discount the option of attending a community college, especially if you are unsure of your major. You can get your general education classes for a fraction of the price that you would pay at a larger university.

For my husband and I, going to an affordable school is one of the main reasons we don’t have to deal with student loans from our undergraduate degrees.

Earn scholarships

Encourage your kids to work hard in high school to increase their chances of getting scholarships.  Seek out scholarship opportunities.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.  Apply for local scholarships, as well as national scholarships and scholarships sponsored by the school.

Start applying for scholarships early.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  When the deadlines get close it’s easy to toss the application aside, saying, “Well I probably wouldn’t have gotten it anyway.”

Don’t quit applying for scholarships after your freshman year.  While I only had some small local scholarships when I started out, after doing well my freshman year, I received a scholarship that covered half of my tuition for all of my subsequent years.

Work full-time during the summer

Summers aren’t just for fun in the sun.  During the summer, take a break from school and work your tail off!  Consider getting more than one job if you can.  If you can hack sales, then selling pest control or security systems is a lucrative summer job.  If sales isn’t your thing, (I totally understand, it’s not mine either), find something else that pays well, even if it isn’t pretty.  You can do anything for a couple of months, right?

If you’re living away from home, you can save even more money by heading home and living with your parents for the summer while you save all your pennies. Not paying rent or food while I lived at home during my undergrad summers allowed me to save much more than if I had stayed in a college town. It definitely wasn’t as fun as having roommates, but a growing bank account made the lack of social life well worth it (again, it’s only a couple of months).

Work during the school year

When I started college I was a little intimidated by the idea of working and going to school since I had never juggled school and work before. My first semester, I found a job on campus where I just worked eight hours on Saturdays.

Each semester I added more work to my schedule. At first I was afraid of what it would do to my grades to have blocks of time where I was working during the week.  As it turned out, the more hours I worked (with twenty being the maximum), the better my grades were! I attribute it to having to manage my time better.  I didn’t waste time or procrastinate school projects. I was forced to use all my time well.

Contribute to a 529 college savings account

Neither my husband nor I had a 529 plan to help in our diversified plan to pay for college.  It sure would have been nice to have a tax-advantaged college savings plan in place back when we were still in diapers.

We have started 529 college savings plans through ScholarShare for each of our children, so that they will have one more asset to help them afford college.  We have an automatic contribution set up each month which is so convenient.  Even though we aren’t making huge contributions, we are glad that we actually started!

Live Frugally in College

Don’t underestimate the value of frugal living during college.  Keeping your expenses low can really go a long way to stretch the precious dollars that you’ve saved.

Go without a car.  Most college campuses are very bike friendly and can easily be navigated on foot.  Public transportation can help with longer trips.  My husband and I both survived just fine without a vehicle in our undergraduate days.

Pack your lunch and skip the meal plan.  Buying your own groceries will not only be cheaper, you’ll never be stuck eating whatever the cafeteria is offering that day. Plus you’re more likely to avoid the “freshman 15” if you’re making your own meals versus the all-you-can-eat meal plan.

These are just a few of the frugal habits that save me money during college.  For a more thorough list of how to save money when you’re in college, check out these great frugal living tips for college students.

While saving up the entire cost of college before setting foot on campus might seem impossible, there are lots of useful strategies that, when used together, can prevent you from having to take out loans for college or at least keep them at a minimum.  As we worked to pay off six figures of student loan debt from law school, I can tell you that it’s well-worth the time and effort to do whatever you can to prevent the debt situation rather than deal with it after the fact!

How about you?

  • What did you do to to make college affordable?
  • What other ideas do you have to keep the cost of college down?





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I was thrilled to find strawberries for $.98/lb this year and have it be at a time when I had room in my schedule for a couple of jam sessions. If you looked at my schedule you wouldn’t think I had room, but a recruited all of my helpers and made time. With prices rising on packaged and processed foods (like jam!), I wanted to take advantage of the awesome seasonal produce prices to process my own food (without any weird ingredients or high fructose corn syrup).

I’m a “go big or go home” kind of person when it comes to a lot of things, including making messes in the kitchen. I’m not going to get all of the canning and jam-making supplies out and just make a couple of jars of jam. Instead I wanted to make enough jam to last us six months to a year (hopefully a year, but it’s really good so I’m afraid it will go faster than that).

In two jam session I made 44 quarts and 5 pints of strawberry jam.

Are the strawberry prices great in your area right now or do you have strawberries stashed in your freezer? Let’s make some jam! I will walk you through the process of making and canning strawberry jam even if it’s your first time doing either!  You can do this!!

You will need:

Ingredients

For one batch (see yield below) you will need the following ingredients. I’ll talk more in detail about each further on in the tutorial.

  • Strawberries– 5 cups crushed strawberries (about 2 lbs of strawberries)
  • Sugar- 7 cups white sugar (about 3 lbs)
  • Pectin– 1/3 cup or a1.75 oz box
  • Butter (optional)- 1 Tablespoon to help cut down on the amount of foam

For this recipe, I use pectin purchased in bulk because it is waaay cheaper that the yellow box of SureJell pectin. I found the best price HERE where you can get as little as 1 pound ($6.99/lb) or get a 25 lb box ($4.99/lb). For price reference, the best price on bulk pectin on Amazon is this 6 lb bag at $8.33/lb.

For reference 1 pound of bulk pectin is equivalent to more than 9 boxes of SureJell (each box of SureJell pectin is 1.75 oz or about 1/3 cup). If you’ve bought pectin before, you can probably already tell that this is going to be a major money saver. I bought this 25-lb box of pectin and put it into quart jars so I always have it on hand when I’m ready to make jam.

Yield

You will get 8-9 cups of jam per batch.  We like to can jam in quart jars for our own use (because we go through it so fast), but I also use pint jars to give away.  Each batch will make 2 quarts or 4 pints, with a little extra to put in the fridge to use now.

Canning Supplies

  • Canning jars and rings–  You can use quarts, pints, or smaller jam jars.  Any decent grocery store or big box store should have them.  As long as the rims aren’t chipped you can reuse the jars so you can always look on craigslist or ask your grandma!
  • Flat lids— While canning jars and screw-on rings can be reused, flat lids must be new.  You can get them anywhere you can get canning jars.  The cheapest place I know of is at an Amish bulk foods store if you’re lucky enough to have one near.
  • Canning Utensils– You could probably make-do without them, but they are really handy.
  • Water Bath Canner or Steam Canner— You can actually just use a heavy pot with a lid as long as you can have an inch of boiling water cover the jars.  You will want something in the bottom for the jars to sit on so they aren’t in direct contact with the bottom of the pan.  You could line the bottom of the pot with the metal rings for canning jars, for example.

Preparing Strawberries

Preparing your strawberries is pretty straight-forward.  Remove all stem and leaves and wash your berries.  Mash or puree berries, depending on how chunky you want your jam.

You can mash them with a potato masher or pastry cutter if you want more chunks in your jam, but chunks often float to the top in strawberry jam because they are less dense than the jam itself. That’s not a problem, just purely aesthetic. If berries are floating just stir your jam when you open it.

For a more homogenous jam you’ll want to use a blender.  A blender is also waaay faster if you’re doing lots of batches like we were. I gave them a few seconds in the Blendtec and they were ready to go.

You can use frozen berries as well.  I often wash, hull, and freeze strawberries when I find a good deal on them.  I set them out to thaw the morning that I plan to make jam.

Making Jam

I make jam in bulk, meaning I do several batches in one canning episode.  It’s important to do each batch separately though.  I often have two batches going simultaneously (but at different stages) in separate pans.

Measure Sugar

Measure (or weigh) out 7 cups (or 3 lb) of sugar into a bowl and set it aside.  When it’s time to add the sugar, you will need to add it quickly and won’t have time to measure it out a cup at a time.  Pus, you’ll need your other hand to stir in the sugar.  Make sure to use the correct amount.  Reducing the amount of sugar keeps the jam from setting properly.

Mix Berries with Pectin

Measure 5 cups of strawberry puree into a large sauce pan or pot. If you don’t quite have 5 cups of crushed berries you can top them off with a little water to bring the total to 5 cups of fruit puree. Stir in 1/3 cup bulk pectin (or one 1.75 oz box of pectin) making sure to smash any powder lumps.

Bring to Boil

Stir regularly as you bring the berry and pectin mixture to a full rolling boil.  If you can’t stir down the boil, then you’re there.

Add Sugar and Stir

Quickly add in sugar and stir well.  Continue stirring.

Bring to Rolling Boil

Bring the jam back to a rolling boil that can’t be stirred down easily.  When you reach a rolling boil, set a timer for 1 minute.  After 1 minute, turn off the heat and get ready to ladle the jam into hot jars!

Remove Foam

Homemade strawberry jam is notorious for producing lots of foam, which is essentially just jam with lots of air bubbles. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s mostly just an aesthetic thing– it’s doesn’t look as pretty in jars as smooth, clear jam. Use a spatula or shallow ladle to skim off the foam once you have removed the jam from the heat. I like to put the foam in a separate bowl or jar and eat it on fresh bread or put it on ice cream.

Canning Jam

You will want to start some of these steps before or during the jam-making process so that you have hot, sterile jars ready when your jam is done.

Prepare Jars and Flat Lids

Clean your jars in the dishwasher or hot, soapy water even if they already look clean.  Turn warm (not cold) jars upside down in an inch or two of boiling water to sterilize the jar and make sure they’re as hot as boiling jam.  Adding boiling jam to a cold jar is bad news– trust me!

 A cross between raspberry jam and blackberry jam is better than either flavor alone. Here's a step-by-step tutorial to make Razzleberry Jam and can it too! A cross between raspberry jam and blackberry jam is better than either flavor alone. Here's a step-by-step tutorial to make Razzleberry Jam and can it too!

I either use the bottom of my steam canner (first picture) or just use a regular pan (second picture) to heat my jars.

Put your flat lids in the boiling water as well.  Heating them helps soften the rubber seal and sterilizes them.  The flat lids should be new, not re-used.  Glass canning jars and metal rings can be used for generations, but you should always use new flat lids.

Fill Jars

Using the funnel from your canning tool kit and a regular ladle to pour the jam into your jars or if your pan has sturdy handles you can just pour the jam through the funnel.  Leave about 1/8 inch headspace (empty space at top of jar), which is nearly full.

Clean Rim, Put on Flat Lids and Rings

Make sure the rim of the jar is clean and free of chips or cracks.  Use a wet cloth to wipe off any jam from the rim.  Grab a flat lid from the boiling water with the handy magnetic lid lifter from your canning utensils (or try using a fork) and place it on a jar.

A cross between raspberry jam and blackberry jam is better than either flavor alone. Here's a step-by-step tutorial to make Razzleberry Jam and can it too! A cross between raspberry jam and blackberry jam is better than either flavor alone. Here's a step-by-step tutorial to make Razzleberry Jam and can it too!

Screw a metal band on firmly, but not overly tight.  The jar will be too hot to touch, but there’s a tool for that in every kit (see red thingamajig in picture below).

A cross between raspberry jam and blackberry jam is better than either flavor alone. Here's a step-by-step tutorial to make Razzleberry Jam and can it too!

Process

In a water bath canner or steam canner, process hot jam in pint jars (or smaller) according to the table below.

Jar Size 0 – 1,000 ft 1,001 – 3,000 ft 3,001 – 6,000 ft 6,000-8,000 ft
Pints (or smaller) 10 min 15 min 20 min 25 min

Side note: Can you can quarts of jam?

Well I mentioned earlier that I can jam in quart jars.  Nowadays, they never give a processing time for quarts of jam, but you can find times in older books.  My mother-in-law has always done jam in quart jars without a problem, so that’s what I’ve always done and I am perfectly fine with it.   I process quarts for about 5 minutes longer than listed above for pints.

To put it into perspective, when our grandmas canned jam, they didn’t even process it.  At all.  Just having the hot jam in the jar will make the lid seal, so that was that.  My grandma still just turns the jam jars upside down to make they seal. The USDA says that it is effective, there is just more room for error if the jam cools down too much before you get the lid screwed on, so to be safe you should process the jars.  For jam, the only real risk is mold, which is easy to detect and not nearly as scary as the potential for botulism if tomatoes or green beans are not processed properly.

If processing quarts makes you nervous, just do pints.  [end of side note]

A cross between raspberry jam and blackberry jam is better than either flavor alone. Here's a step-by-step tutorial to make Razzleberry Jam and can it too!

I prefer using a steam canner since it takes less water and is not so big and bulky.  In a steam canner, you start timing once the steam coming out the hole is at least  the length of a quart jar.  New steam canners (like the one I linked to) actually have a temperature gauge on them so you know when to start timing. You can turn the heat down (so it doesn’t steam like crazy) as long as you still have a steady stream of steam (say that three times fast!).  When the time is up, turn the stove off.  Remove the lid by lifting it away from you so you don’t get a face full of steam.

In a water bath canner, water should cover jars by at least an inch.  Start timing when the water reaches a vigorous boil.  You can turn heat down slightly as long as at least a steady, gentle boil continues throughout the processing time.  Keep the canner covered the entire time.

Cool Jars, Remove Rings, Wash Jars

Using the jar lifter from your canning tools (or just a hot pad if you’re using a steam canner), move your jars to the counter.  I usually set them on a towel and let them cool overnight in a non-drafty area.

About 24 hours later, remove the rings, wash the jars and check the seal.  Pull up lightly on the flat lid with your finger to test the seal.  If it pulls off easily, the jar did not seal right.  Don’t fret because you can put the jar in the fridge to use now.

All the jars that sealed well can be stored for years in your pantry or any other relatively cool and dark location.  Label them with the year and contents so that you can keep your food storage rotated.

FAQ

Is it worth it?

You’re probably thinking that all sounds like a lot of work, especially if you’ve never canned anything or made homemade jam.  It is work and does have a larger clean-up time than your average kitchen project.  To make my jam-making (or canning in general) a more efficient process, I always do things in bulk.  You will have the same number of dirty dishes if you do 8 batches as you would doing a single batch.

Making your own jam can save money, especially if you grow your own berries or pick them for free.  Berries can be expensive to buy, so making your own jam isn’t always cheaper.  That being said, homemade jam is much more delicious than store-bought jam and making it yourself is pretty satisfying.  With all that sugar, it’s probably not on anyone’s list as nutritious, but compared with all the preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup that are in store-bought jam you might say that homemade is more nutritious.

What is pectin and do you have to use pectin for strawberry jam?

Pectin, which naturally occurs in fruit, is what causes the jam to set when mixed with sugar and acidity. Different fruits have different amounts of pectin. The powdered pectin that you can buy is a concentrated pectin made from apple pectin. While you can absolutely make strawberry jam without pectin (just like your great grandmother did), it requires a much longer cooking time and more sugar. Cooking longer means you you’re cooking away more of the flavor and nutrients of the fruit and you also don’t have time to make as many batches. Pectin is a completely natural ingredient that will speed up the jam-making process. When purchased in bulk (rather than in the box), it’s also very economical.

Why are my berries floating? Is that safe?

Floating berries in strawberry jam is actually pretty normal and completely safe. It just might not look as beautiful as nicely mixed jam. To prevent floating berries there are a few things you can do. First, puree your berries more finely by using a blender instead of mashing by hand. Next, before putting the jam in jars, let the it cool for about five minutes and then stir the fruit in well before pouring or ladling it. If the jam comes out of the canner with fruit floating you can turn the jars every hour or two while it cools. Or, the easiest solution, is just to let it be. When you open the jam to serve it, just give it a good stir.

You made strawberry jam!

You did it! That wasn’t too complicated, was it? After several batches, you can fill your shelves so you won’t need to buy any jam from the store.

I should also warn you that after enjoying delicious homemade strawberry jam, your family may refuse to eat any jam that comes from the store, because homemade is just that much better! So get busy and stock up!

 

Note:  This post contains affiliate links for products I love.  For more information, see my disclosure policy.

The post Homemade Strawberry Jam (and Buying Pectin in Bulk) appeared first on Six Figures Under.



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There's no excuse to not have time for good books. Audiobooks let you "read" while you're driving, cleaning, or working out. The best part is that you can expand your mind without even opening your wallet since there are some great options for getting audiobooks for free!

Nothing compares to snuggling up with a good book and smelling the real paper pages. For convenience, though, audiobooks are pretty darn close to as good as the real thing.

Audiobooks let you be well-read even when you don’t think you have time to read.

While it’s true that you’ll make time for what’s important to you, it really is hard when your list of important things is a mile long.  I like to efficiently multi-task (note: not all multi-tasking is efficient) while listening to audiobooks.  While I’m doing a chore that takes no brain power like cooking, laundry, dishes, cleaning, or organizing, I love getting lost in a good book.

Do you commute?  Do you exercise?  Do you clean your house? You can kill two birds with one stone by listening to a book while you drive or work out.

Audiobooks are great for kids too!

In fact, in our family audiobooks are the secret to serenity on any car trip.  Of course they’re great for road trips, but for people who live in the boonies, going to church or the grocery store may as well be a road trip (we’re not quite in the boonies anymore, but we still dive a lot).  All that time in the car is great for whining, whistling, wrestling, and generally annoying your fellow passengers.

Putting on an audiobook magically turns chaos into calm, whether it’s in the car, the kitchen, or the bedroom.  The kids are glued to the story and suddenly forget complaining, arguing, nit-picking, mess-making, and pestering.  They can relax and just listen or work on a project with their hands, like knitting or building with blocks.

The best part is that audiobooks don’t even have to cost you anything!  Here are five great ways to get audiobooks for free!

1- Check the CDs out from the library

Your local public library has audio books on CD (or even cassette) that you can check out.  If you’ve never looked at the audio book section, you might be surprised at how big it is.  Our library has a whole section of kids audio books.  Recently we have been checking out a few books each time we visit the library.

Just like other library materials, you can look up the exact title you want or you can browse in person or online.  When I browse in person I always find titles I’m interested in that I never would have thought to look for.  When you’re searching the catalog online, you can also filter by the type of media, so you can narrow your search down to audiobooks.

2- Check out the digital audio books on Libby

Did you know your public library has a lot more available than what you see on the shelves?  If you haven’t been to your library’s website recently, you’re missing out on some hidden treasures.

Libraries partner with digital book providers to make them available to library card holders.  Over 90% of libraries in North America use OverDrive, which gives you access to literally millions of titles, including thousands of audiobooks.  Even though the books are digital, your library has a limited number of licenses, so you sometimes have to wait for a title to become available, just like you would reserve a book at the library.

All you need is a library card and the Libby app. If you don’t have the Libby app on your phone or device yet, do yourself a favor and download it for free! When you set it up you’ll link it with your library.

When your checkout period ends, the book will disappear.  The best part is you don’t have to worry about losing or damaging the library’s resources or paying any late fees!  And since the file disappears when your time runs out, you don’t have to worry about your device’s storage space being bogged down with audio book files.

3- Download books from librivox.org

While there are many sites online where you can download free books, LibriVox.org has one of the most extensive collections.  You won’t find anything that is currently under copyright, but you’ll find loads of classics and other books published before 1926.

Unlike the audio files that you “check out” of the library, there is no time limit on these files.  I can’t tell you how many times my kids have listened to The Adventures of Reddy Fox (and other animal stories by Thornton W. Burgess).

Volunteers record themselves reading books that are in the public domain, and thus no longer under copyright.  These can be older books, published before 1926, books to which the copyright was never renewed, government works, or other books intentionally placed in the public domain. Librivox is a non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free project.

4- Get a free trial (or two)!

Audible is an Amazon company that specializes in audiobooks.  They offer a free 30-day trial of their “Plus Premium” service which includes 1 free audiobook to download and keep or if you’re already an Amazon Prime member you get 2 free audiobooks during the trial. After the trial you get 1 book free per month with Plus Premium.  You can cancel at anytime and keep the books that you’ve already downloaded. For a plus premium membership it’s $14.95 per month after the trial. Audible also has a membership (Plus) that doesn’t include any monthly downloads and costs $7.95 per month.

While “audible” has become synonymous with “audiobook” these days, it’s not the only option. When we started homeschooling I discovered Scribd and have loved it! Your Scribd subscription gives you access to millions of ebooks and audiobooks along with podcasts, magazines, sheet music and more. With a house full of readers, listeners and musicians, we access quite the spectrum of books on any given day. Scribd gives you a 30-day trial if you just go to their website, but since I have a Scribd subscription I can give you a 60-day free trial! After the trial

Which service is better? You’ll have to try for yourself and see which you prefer! For some people it’s worth it to have both. But in this article we are focusing on getting audiobooks to listen to for free, so I recommend doing the free trials for Audible and Scribd at different times to spread out the free audiobooks over three months.

No excuses

I was recently talking with a friend who drives a truck inside a huge mine.  School has never been his thing and he’s never been a big reader. Now that he spends most of his long work days in a truck by himself, he was excited to discover that he loves books!  Audiobooks have opened a whole new world to him, offering subjects and stories that he never would have encountered without audiobooks.

There really aren’t any excuses for not having great listening material.  Go find something motivating, uplifting, educational, or enjoyable to listen to.

Be careful though.  You might just be motivated to clean the house, exercise or take a trip while you listen!

How about you?

  • When do you listen to audiobooks?
  • Where do you get your audiobooks?

 

Note: This post contains an affiliate link.  For more info, see my disclosure page.

The post 4 Best Places to get Audiobooks for Free (& why we love them) appeared first on Six Figures Under.



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And just like that the summer is over! School starts in a week.

July was a pretty good month for our budget. There weren’t any major surprises. We took a trip to Yellowstone for a week and our gas spending was actually less than June’s (still over $800, though)! That was a pleasant surprise. Since Mike sold back some of his PTO in June, we had a nice chunk of money to put toward our solar goal in July.

About that solar… They’ve been telling us they would have it in “by the end of the month” since April and they still haven’t even started. The bad part is that we’re missing out on a summer’s worth of sunny days that would be producing electricity and instead, we’re paying electric bills. The good part is that we have longer to save up the cash to cover the $20K that we will need (in addition to the $50K loan we took out).

Let’s take a look at our numbers for July.

Income Earned in JULY – $12,839

We live on last month’s income. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, check out the video explaining how living on last month’s income changed our lives or the post explaining how we got to that point.

This income section shows the money we earned in July, which has all been set aside to use in our August budget. The spending section below shows the money we earned in June and spent in July.

Attorney Income – $8,651 Mike works as an attorney for the state of California. This is his take-home pay after taxes, social security, pension contribution, and health insurance premiums. It also includes a small “work-at-home” stipend that he started getting from the state.

Blog Income- $2,394 I haven’t paid myself in a while, but thought now was a good time since we’ll (hopefully) be paying for our solar installation in August.

Rental Income – $1,794 We rent a one-bedroom apartment on our property. Our long-term renter moved out in June, so we’re back to Airbnb. If you’re thinking about renting out your space on Airbnb, check out Mike’s post about dealing with insurance for your Airbnb rental or our explanation of how we handle our Airbnb finances.

Spending in July

Each month we budget the previous month’s income down to zero. This is how we spent the money we earned in June.

Giving

Tithing – $1,486 We always pay a 10% tithe on our income. This tithing, like all of our July spending, comes from the money we earned in June. You can read our thoughts on paying a 10% tithe here.

Fast Offering – $100 Each month we take one day to fast (go without food and drink) for two meals and contribute to a program that provides assistance for local folks who need it.

Monthly Bills

Mortgage – $2,369 We have a 15-year mortgage on our house. If you’re interested in the details of our Dec 2020 refi, you can check out all of the numbers and details.

Electricity – $329 This bill covers both our home and our rental which are both completely electric. That will be great once we have our solar installed, but right now the price of electricity keeps going up and up.

Car Insurance – $116 Our insurance is through USAA and we love them! If you, your parent, or your spouse were/are in the military, you’re probably eligible for USAA too!

Internet – $70 Having good internet access is super important with everyone at home for work and school. We’re so glad we invested in bringing internet access to our property when we first bought our house. That $5,000 investment was worth every penny!

Water – $185 Our bill comes every other month so we try to set aside about half of what we anticipate the bill to be, but we estimated on the low side in June, so we had to set aside more for July’s bill.

Garbage- $42 The bill for our curbside trash pickup also comes every other month so we set aside half of the bill each month.

Cell Phones – $75 We have three cell phones: one for me, one for Mike, and one we use as a home phone for when the kids are home without us (or that the older kids take when they babysit or work at someone else’s house). They are all through Visible. Visible is a Verizon subsidiary that offers wifi calling and unlimited cell calls and data on the Verizon network. We’ve been using them for over two years now and have no complaints at all. It is $25 per phone, but right now you can get the first month for just $5 through my link.

We used to use Republic Wireless, which costs a little less, and some readers rave about Mint Mobile’s great service and even lower costs, but neither of those use a network that provides cell signal at our home.

If you’re paying more than you want for cell service, check out one of these three great and affordable companies: Visible, Republic Wireless, Mint Mobile.

Music Lessons – $0 July was so busy that we had to pause music lessons.

Everyday Expenses

Food – $638 You can see what we got on our monthly grocery haul for July here, which included lots of strawberries to make jam. We got pizza once, but other than that all of our food spending was on groceries. When we camped in Yellowstone for a week we took turns with Mike’s siblings planning and cooking meals for our group.

Grocery prices are soaring, which means it’s even MORE important to be a smart, strategic grocery shopper! If you are ready to get your family’s grocery spending under control, you’re going to want to sign up for Grocery Budget Hero! You will learn the exact strategies I use to rock our family’s grocery budget (even with rising prices). Enrollment is open now! Get $20 off with the coupon code STARTNOW.  That puts your total cost at $59, and I promise you’ll earn many times that back as you stretch your grocery budget hero skills.

Fuel – $825 Gas here has been around $5.40 or so most of the month, though now it has actually dipped below $5! Our most significant gas use in July was a road trip to Yellowstone for a week.

Household Misc – $62 We didn’t spend very much in household miscellaneous in July.  In addition to small household needs, we paid for our Google storage. We also pay monthly for a Scribd subscription because we love the unlimited access to so many audiobooks.

Clothing – $63 – We got some clothes for the kids that were a good deal at Sam’s Club. I had budgeted $100 for the month, but just left what was remaining in this category for next month (like a sinking fund).

Animals – $102 We bought 1 bag of cat food and 3 bags of chicken feed.

Allowances – $84 Because our allowance system is age-based, we increase this monthly amount as kids have birthdays. We give our kids “practice money” as a weekly allowance.  You can read all about why we decided to pay our kids allowance that’s not directly tied to chores, as well as all the details of when and how much in this blog post.

Homeschool – $100 We didn’t buy anything for homeschooling in July, but just left the funding in this category.

Sinking Funds

For most of our budget categories, we zero out what is left at the end of the month and send it to whatever our big financial goal is at the time, but in our sinking funds we set aside money each month for periodic expenses and let it build up until we need it.

The amount in bold is the amount we added to the fund this month. Any spending is noted in the comments along with the current balance of each fund.

We do not have separate bank accounts for these funds. All of the money sits in our checking account. We’re not worried about getting the money mixed up because we spend according to our budget category balances, not our checking account balance. We seriously never even look at our checking account balance unless we’re reconciling the account. We track our budget categories and spending in YNAB.

Medical/Dental – $400 added. We spent $0 in July. Current category balance is $1,331.

Car Maintenance – $300  added.  We spent $19 on oil. Current category balance is $2,867.

Christmas – $200 added. We didn’t spend anything for Christmas 2022. Current category balance is $1,038.

Disability Insurance- $190 This will replace about 2/3 of Mike’s current income if injury or illness leaves him unable to work as an attorney. Our income potential is our greatest financial asset right now and disability insurance helps us protect it. Current category balance is $724.

Life Insurance – $75 added. Next year’s life insurance premiums will be due in November. Current category balance is $629.

Birthdays & Gifts – $40 added. We spent $41 on gifts in July.  Current category balance is $141. 

Car Registration & Smog – $40 added. We didn’t do any spending here. Current category balance is $140.

Family Fun Fund – $300 added. We spent $475 from our family fun fund on our Yellowstone camping trip. That includes this Camp Chef stove, with this griddle that goes with it, and a propane tank. We also got bear spray, which we didn’t need to use, but will be added to our outdoor gear. Current category balance is $465.

Home Projects- $200 added. Mike picked up some things at Home Depot for some projects around the house.  The category balance is currently $84.

Garden & Orchard- $0 added. We didn’t spend anything in July. The category balance is currently $112.

Investing

Kids’ 529s – $150 We know that $25 per kid per month invested for college isn’t much, but college costs are not our highest concern. Scholarships, grants, loans, and jobs during school worked for us. We may accelerate this savings later, but we’re ok with small, consistent payments right now.  The kids like to see their balances growing, and it adds up and teaches them good savings principles, even if it won’t entirely pay for school. You can read about our decision to start saving a little for college in this post.

IRA (Steph) – $500 With $500 monthly, I’ll max out my $6,000 IRA contribution for the year.  Mike has about $950 each month deducted directly from his paycheck into a pension fund.

Goal Progress

We are pausing our mortgage payoff goal for the next two years to tackle a new goal. Mike and I shared all the details here about why we are getting solar, how much it costs, and how we’re planning to pay for it here in this post.

We started making payments on the $50,000 loan in April. Our payments are $1,502 per month.

We also have another $20,000 that will be due by the time everything is done. The total cost is $70,000 (plus about $3,000 of interest on the $50K loan if we pay it off in 2 years).

Our contribution to our solar goal in July was $4,832.

That brings the total we’ve saved toward paying for solar to $16,524.

The way we have our it set up in our budget is kind of like a sinking fund. We put money into our “solar” category each month, some months it is a lot, some months it is a little. There is an automatic payment of $1,502 toward the solar loan each month that comes out of that budget category. At the end of July the “Solar” category balance was $9,516. In addition to paying the solar loan, the balance in our solar category will go toward the additional $20,000 over the $50,000 loan (total will be $70K). They haven’t installed anything yet, so we haven’t had to paid the rest of the funds yet (They’ve been promising “by the end of this month” since April.)

I made a chart to keep track of our progress. I color in a little square for each $250 we put toward our solar purchase.

How About You?

  • How did your budget and/or debt repayment go in July?

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The idea of renting out an extra room on Airbnb isn’t new, but did you know you can do the same thing for storage space? Instead of overnight guests, you host people’s stuff– like household storage, business inventory, or vehicles– in your spare room, garage, shed, attic, or driveway.

I’m excited to tell you about a platform I recently learned about that matches people who have extra space– even as small as a closet or as unimpressive as a parking space– with people who need extra space and are willing to pay monthly to rent that space.

Let me introduce you to Neighbor, a great, passive way to earn extra money!

What is Neighbor?

The platform Neighbor is very similar to Airbnb, but instead of hosting people you are hosting stuff. Think boxes, furniture, boats, RVs, cars, business inventory, and more. Neighbor connects people who are looking for local storage options with people who have a spare room, garage, shed, or outdoor space.

Neighbor is a great way to turn your space into extra income with much less effort (and fewer amenities) than required to set up and run an Airbnb.

How much does is cost to list your space on Neighbor?

It’s actually free to list your space on Neighbor and very quick to set up the listing.  Once you have secured a renter, you will be charged a small 4.9% plus $.30 as a processing fee on each month’s rent payment.

When someone rents your space, the renter is charged a small fee. It’s very transparent and easy to see what the fee will be when you browse listings as a potential renter.

How much can I earn on Neighbor?

That depends on your area, how much/what type of space you have, and ultimately how much you want to charge. To get an idea of what the going rates are, browse your area and see what people are offering.

When you set up your listing you will have the option of setting a fixed monthly rate or using “smart pricing.” Neighbor’s smart pricing  system (similar to Airbnb’s) takes into consideration your listing’s location and attributes and keeps your price competitive based on nearby prices and demand. You can set a minimum that you are willing to rent your space for and smart pricing will never go below that. You can always see what the price is before you approve a request.

The best part is that you are earning money using something (space) that you already have and it isn’t costing you anything to provide the service.

Can’t I just use Craigslist or Facebook to rent out my extra space?

Sure, you could offer your space for rent on another online buy/sell venue, but there are some major benefits of using Neighbor rather than just trying to rent it out on your own.

First of all, Neighbor takes care of all of the exchange of money. The renters pay via the Neighbor platform and as the host you will receive your monthly payment direct deposited into your bank account. If you were to rent out your space through Craigslist, Facebook, or to someone you know, you would be responsible for the hassle of collecting each month’s payment.

Another huge benefit of Neighbor is the protection offered. Neighbor has a Host Guarantee of general liability protection of up to $1,000,000 that is free for every host in every state. Renters can also purchase a Property Protection plan when they rent.

Neighbor takes care of the terms of service, so you don’t need to draft your own contract for your renter to sign.

You connect with your target audience on Neighbor. People sell and advertise lots of products and services on Craigslist and Facebook, so it’s easy for your offer to get lost in the sea of posts. On Neighbor, everyone is looking for one thing– storage!

Can people live or work in the space I rent on Neighbor?

No. The spaces you rent out on Neighbor are solely for storage of things, not people. The company is very clear that neither living or working in the spaces is allowed. It you want to rent a place for someone to live, look into listing your place on Airbnb instead.

Do I have to provide 24/7 access to my renter?

Nope. You are in control of when and how renters access your space. You can choose whether your renter needs an appointment or not to visit their stuff. Offering 24/7 access might be a special feature, but is by no means necessary.

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Can I offer discounts to attract renters on Neighbor?

Neighbor allows hosts to enable a 50% discount on the first month’s rent as long as the renter stays more than one month. This is a great way to attract renters and encourages them to stick around. If the renter cancels after the first month, they will be charged the full month’s rent.

How do I get started on Neighbor?

Listing your space on Neighbor is very simple. No need for professional pictures or an extra flowery description.

Start by creating a basic profile. Then you will be asked questions all about your space. If you don’t have photos or the exact dimensions, you can set a reminder to come back and fill in those details later.

You will get to decide how often the renter will have access to their stored items and whether they need to schedule each visit with you or not.

You can set a fixed monthly rental price or choose the “smart pricing” option where you set the minimum and Neighbor raises the price for you based on the demand in your area.

When someone is interested in renting your space you will receive a message. You’ll be able to see the person’s profile, what they plan to store, and how long they plan to store it. You have 24 hours to approve to the request or it will expire.

Save money on rental space

If you aren’t in a position to use Neighbor to earn money, maybe you could use Neighbor to save money. If you currently rent a storage unit or pay to park a boat or RV, whether it’s long-term or just seasonally or during a move, you will want to check out Neighbor to see how the rates compare to what you’re currently paying. See if you can find something cheaper, closer, or more convenient than your current storage situation.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  For more information see my disclosure policy.





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 Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are fancy enough to bring out for a special treat, yet simple enough for everyday. I always get requests for this recipe when I share these soft and delicious cookies.

I’m excited to share with you my favorite cookie recipe: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect cookies for any occasion.  They’re fancy and delicious enough to bring out for a special treat, yet simple enough for everyday.  I always get requests for this recipe when I share these soft and delicious cookies.

To make them even more exciting, I often add other flavors of chips in addition to chocolate, like white chips, butterscotch chips, or peanut butter chips.  You can’t go wrong!

In fact, my daughter entered these cookies in the county fair and took home a Best of Show ribbon.  The soft texture and delicious flavor really can’t be beat.  I won’t be surprised if they become your new favorite cookies!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 10 min,  Bake Time: 10-12 min, Total Time: 50 min

 

Ingredients

  •  1 cup Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1- 12 oz bag of Chocolate Chips

Directions

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Cream together softened butter, peanut butter and sugars.

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Add in eggs and vanilla.

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In a separate bowl, mix together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.  Then add the dry ingredients gradually to the creamed mixture.

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Stir in chocolate chips.

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Space cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown.

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Let cookies cool for a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack.

If you manage to not eat all of them at once, they will be fresh and yummy in your cookie jar for a week or more (we’ve never left them around long enough to know exactly).  They also freeze well both cooked and as dough balls.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are fancy enough to bring out for a special treat, yet simple enough for everyday. I always get requests for this recipe when I share these soft and delicious cookies.

Printable Version

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are perfect for any occasion. They’re fancy enough for a special treat, but simple enough for everyday.

Author:

Recipe type: Cookie

Serves: 4½ dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ⅔ cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1- 12 oz bag of Chocolate Chips

Instructions

  1. Cream together softened butter, peanut butter and sugars.
  2. Add in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Then add the dry ingredients gradually to the creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Space cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown. Let cookies cool for a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack.

3.5.3251

Originally published Feb 27, 2015. Still my favorite!

 





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