I'm not cheap, I'm Frugal. Anddd Roasted Chicken

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I don't know about you, but I'm a huge fan of my money. And keeping it. Preferably in the bank, where it can be generating interest, or in an investment where it can be earning dividends, or in a retirement account, to cushion yourself for a nice post-working life in the CariBbean. But saving money isn't as easy as it sounds. It takes practice, fine tuning methods until you come up with a plan you are comfortable with. However, with a few easy steps, you can be well on your way to stronger financial management.

  1. The first place to start is how much money do you have. In the bank, in mutual funds, in properties and other assets, etc. 
  2. Find out how much money you earn. Paycheck, side jobs. Don't count benefits that are company paid, it doesn't physically give you more money to spend.
  3. Do a harsh examination of how much money you spend. Gas, groceries, electric bill. Rent, cable, cell phone. Insurance, doctors office, car repairs. $2 coffee runs, postage, gift wrapping. EVERYTHING. Parking meters, arcade games, gum ball machines... Even pocket change is your money! Good way to keep track of this: use a debit card or credit card. And keep the book balanced. And don't spend pocket change. Keep it in a piggy bank. Seriously. Add it up in a few months. You'll be floored.
  4. Divide the money you spend into categories. Necessary, discretionary. Please see linked definitions. Groceries, rent, insurance= necessary. Cable, coffee runs, parking meters= discretionary. Get the picture? You may think it's necessary, and it may be critical to your lifestyle, but if you can find alternatives, it's not necessary. I don't mean for you to think you spend your money recklessly, it's just a reality check on where our money goes...
  5. Divide the money you earn by 3. One third of the money you earn should be dedicated to necessary spending. One third of the money you earn should be dedicated to discretionary spending. The final third of your money should be dedicated to saving (i.e.- retirement, college funds, new home purchase).
How do you square up? Granted, saving a full third of what you earn is no where near easy. And probably unrealistic, especially if you are already living paycheck to paycheck. But saving is necessary. You never know what will happen around the next corner, and if you don't have a back-up plan, you can dig a huge, huge hole. But it gives you something to aim for. 

Set realistic goals for yourself. You will save $100 every month. You will reduce your discretionary spending by 10%. You will find a job earning 10% more. There are many ways to balance your financial responsibilities.

  • I go back to the necessary v. discretionary spending. Really, really, really take a look here. I, too, was once a convenience store coffee drinker. I, too, was once a go-out-every-Friday-night-er. I, too, was once a sit down and watch 3 hours of TV straight couch potato. Now? No thank you. If you don't go into the convenience store for the $2 coffee, you will save on the coffee, the snacks, the gas, and the time. If you don't go out in party mode every Friday night, you'll appreciate the nights you go out more, spend less money, and have better health. And cable? Oh, don't get me started!! How much TV do you watch? How much TV do you need to watch?? And you can't count the news. That's available for free. I would know. I don't have cable. $50 per month savings, thank you.
  • Take any money you get from rebates, reimbursements, or resales and immediately put into savings. Once you spend the money, consider it a sunk cost. Anything you get back is "costless-revenue", and should go straight to savings.
  • Talk to people about how you saved money. They will talk back. And probably give you some great ideas. Write down those ideas. Implement them yourself. Make a contest with your best friend on who can spend the least amount of money at the grocery store. Make a contest with yourself to see if you can save more money this month than last month. If you win, call your friend and go for a victory drink. Yes, spend a little if you win. You don't want to completely cut yourself off from life... In the end, we make money to spend it. 
  • Research. You can't know everything about this subject. I certainly don't. So I read. Start here. Check out your bank's website. Changes are they've got something about budgeting, money tracking tools, and resources for financial advisers. Just make sure they aren't trying to sell you something to help you save... that defeats the purpose!
  • Remember this quote: "It's easy to spend money. It's hard to spend money wisely." 
One way I try to help save money is at the grocery! Buy seasonal vegetables and fruits, and don't be afraid to cook "whole" cuts of meat. They are generally cheaper per pound, and you get a lot of food out them! One of the easiest... roasting a whole chicken. Don't believe me? Give this a try...

Roasted Chicken

The Food
- 1 Roasting chicken (4-5 lbs)
- 1 naval orange
- 3 cloves garlic (or more!)
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper is typical)

The Prep
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Zest 1/2 of the orange, then cut in half
The Method
Mix the olive oil, orange zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl
Run all over the chicken, both outside and in the cavity. Get some under the skin, too, if possible
Stuff the chicken with the orange halves and the cloves of garlic
Place in roasting pan, breast side up, in preheated oven
Cook about 20 minutes per pound, until temperature in thickest part of breast reaches 170 degrees
** Bast chicken with pan juices starting about 45 minutes in, then once every 20-30 minutes
** Cut skin between thighs and body cavity the first time you bast, to help cook evenly, and get the most pan juices (see middle picture on right)
Let rest 5-10 minutes before carving
Serve alongside roasted vegetables with sliced garlic. Devine!
Enjoy :)

Oh, and make a gravy! Use a coconut flour slurry or arrowroot slurry to thicken pan juices over medium heat in a sauce pan.

This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter.

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