I love the word free; free style, free spirited, free meal; these are all good.
Sometimes free comes with a cost. Most of us have been offered something free that then forced us to enjoy a delightful 3 hour vacuum cleaner demonstration or a relaxing time share pitch. The value of the free watch or striped beach blanket is up to you. The box marked free at the garage sale is usually the same sorts of odds and ends you need to clear out of your house. These are not the good types of free.
Now and again I come across something that is free, or pretty close, that is worth sharing. When I find those things I like to share them as “better living through free stuff”. This post is all about books. There a lot of sites with free ebooks. Here are three I am currently haunting.
Today’s find is Bookshout!. It is an ebook app that features a mixture of ebooks with specials that are either heavily reduced or free.
Today I found a real gem. It is called “Food Family Style: Simple and Tasty Recipes for Everyday Life” by Leigh Oliver Vickery. A number of the recipes come from her friends from MOPS, mothers of preschoolers. You have to know that these recipes are quick, simple and able to please all age ranges. There were also relatively economical.
After downloading it for free I started flicking through the book and immediately found a wealth of recipes that I knew I could use. Right now I have one of the slow cooker recipes ready to go and I am definitely using the appetizers for my next get together.
While you are there you might also want to download a free copy of Stacey Turner’s “Slow Cooker Recipes“. It has thirty recipes with a great variety of soups, some meals and even desserts. Who knew you could make cherry cobbler in a slow cooker?
Another source of free books is Bookbub. I found that sometimes an author is writing a series they will then post their first book for free to get you hooked with the hope that you will buy the rest of the series, but there is much more than that. They will send you daily offers. I set it to weekly.
The third one is the free Kindle app through Amazon.com. My friend Wendy Janzen is an endless source of self sufficiency wisdom. She directed me to a few free picks. “Foraging: a beginners guide to wild edible and medicinal plants” by Jill B., The Food Preserving Bible: Quick and Simple Guide to Preserving, Canning and Dehydrating you Delicious Food” by Lisa Blane, and Lonely Planet’s ” The World’s Best Street Food – where to find and and how to make it”. Yum.
Some of these offers are only available for the day they are posted so it is best to check your email as soon as you get it.
There are so many more sites. Feel free to leave a mention here with your favourites. Now it is time to check on dinner.
Happy reading and enjoy your free books, Deb
One of my go-to blogs is called Debt Proof Living by Mary Hunt. This was her Facebook post today. I admit that I love the search for the deal. Right now the flyers are overflowing with huge savings, meaning savings off of prices you wouldn’t have paid before the sale. The real way to save? This artist nailed it. Wishing you many 100% savings. Happy New Year to all, Deb
I don’t know how many of you are still out there but I promised myself I would try and reach as many of you as I can. Time is short. Some have already fallen to exhaustion and will be woken with shrill cries, demands for tribute submerged in a haze of carbohydrates and sugars. The frenzy of wrappings, colours, people and conversation may make it impossible to think clearly. You are being conditioned my friends.
How do I know? Because last year that was me and I vowed to share my story so others do not have to make the same mistakes.
You can call me Deb because that is my actual name. It seems like only a year ago I was celebrating, unwrapping yet another low fat cookbook, which was starting to make me a little sensitive, and hitting the hot cocoa pretty hard. I was feeling no pain, except for the damage to my self esteem, and was relaxed. I was too relaxed. As I sat at the table, under the pile of newspapers I saw the edge of something glossy. Why was there no music in a minor chord to warn me of the danger? I’m always the one at a movie to notice the music when someone heads for the basement door or walks into the woods in high heels. No. There was no warning for me. I pulled the sheet towards me and there written in thick black oozing blood, I mean ink, were the numbers. It said 70% off everything (with the illegible writing saying that it did not apply to anything that you wanted, that you had to ask a clerk to help you find, non-toxic, non GMO, in your size or in style).
I started to shake and quickly check the time. It is only 20 hours until the Boxing Day sales started and I knew I needed to be in that line. Where was the sale? It didn’t matter. Did you not hear that it was 70% off? I’d never been to Hank’s House of Hinges but they were giving out free organic ragweed blend knitted scarves with every $200 purchase. How is that not a deal? I don’t remember that day well but if you come to my home you may notice that everything moves well. Too well.
It is too late for me to unplate the damage but it doesn’t have to happen to you. It doesn’t matter the discount. Defend yourself by making a list before you look at the flyers and if you do not have anything on the list get rid of the flyers without looking at them. Yes I know they compel you to look. In history there has been the dreaded three, the basilisk, Medusa and the Boxing Day flyers. The peril is too great. I have purged the house of these papers. The inbox. No. I must empty the inbox. Why do I hear music? Nooooo.
Christmas time can be the discount bin of emotions. There is the occasional gem but there is a lot of stuff that is no bargain. Yes I am talking about the neon leg warmers of feelings, guilt. In recent years I’ve been a little more savvy in my approach to my finances for Christmas. I put aside a set amount a month and create a budget. By Christmas time I know what I have to spend on everything from gifts, food, travel and clothes. Since I know the amount I will have, my brain has a framework and things seem to slide in rather neatly. That is the financial side. The other part, the emotions thing, can occasionally grinch it all up for me. It doesn’t just leave me with a curled lip patting my little dog while looking down on Whoville. It tends to push me down the mountain and bundle me in any layers of guilt I might roll across. In the past the temptation was to spend without a budget because I didn’t have any money anyways. Excellent logic. Now the temptation is to purchase that one extra thing. I say I do this because I want to give and that is true. I say that those I love are worth it. They are but honestly I also want to feel good and pretend that I’m not as pinched as I am. Gift giving season makes me think about my finances and I don’t want to. Worse I do not want anyone else to know that I cannot buy them the ultra deluxe turnip twaddler with the GPS feature. This is when the worst of the guilt appears. It is the irrational guilt, the things over which I have no control, the things I should not carry, that jumps right into my shopping cart. This is the big ticket item. Out of anything you pick up this season this is the one you cannot afford. You have to put it back.
The real harm in this sort of guilt is that it usually brings its seedy little friend judgement. We label ourselves for things that are out of our control. I feel guilty for not being able to live up to some artificial standard. I feel I have failed and it must be my fault. Rationally I know this is not true and it is this truth that has to guide my feelings and behaviour. I have to switch from distorted thinking to accurate thinking. A great blog post on doing this is Renee Jain’s http://blogs.psychcentral.com/stress-better/2014/11/forget-positive-thinking-try-this-to-curb-teen-anxiety For this Christmas season I want us all to receive the gift of freedom from unreasonable guilt, the freedom from judgement that should have never been.
This blog is primarily about frugal living. That being said, the ability to spend less than we make is a many tentacled wonder. Some of my worst spending decisions come when I am tired, stressed and depressed. Most of the year I can glide by with canning, crafting, thrift shopping and humour. At this time of year the days are shorter, the seasonal affective shut down code is punched, and I feel the need to make it “the most wonderful time of the year”. (I will now have that ear worm playing in my head all day). I start to droop. I hit the drive thru or buy the packaged food. I sleep more, indulge more and spend more. My ability to make wise financial decisions in compromised.
My emotional well being hits my bottom line.
I realize that most of us intuitively know this but how does this help? Knowing and dealing are very different. I will share one positive perspective that does help. There is a verse in the bible that says, “Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”. No matter what your beliefs there is truth here. Gratitude. It is a key to taking control of your perspective.
You know the things that weigh you down but what about the things that buoy you up?
I was recently invited to take part in the 100 days of gratitude challenge. What if you kept a gratitude journal? Write down 5 things for which you are grateful. During the day think of different things to write. This will keep your mind on your blessings. Share these with chosen friends and family. Blog them or Facebook them or another outlet of your choosing. You need to dwell on them, express them and share them. It will shift your focus and give you a fighting chance.
I have a great deal for which I am grateful so I will start with the colour red. All my life I believed I could never wear red. I was told it did not suit me. A few years ago I met a man who saw me differently. As we walked through a local market he picked up a red scarf and said it would be beautiful on me. I started to object but he put it on me and said it was perfect and bought it for me. There were no mirrors except for his eyes. I felt timid at first but I wore the scarf every day. Eventually I started adding the colour into my wardrobe and felt joyous. He had given me the gift of the colour red and I am grateful.
I wish you all a season clad in the garments of praise.
When you are penny pinched Christmas can be a time of high anxiety. Being broke doesn’t mean you are cheap. It also doesn’t mean you have to continue to make ash trays out of plasticine for your parents and hope they find them cute. Note to you: your parents don’t smoke and you are in your 40s so no it is not going to be cute. The temptation is to succumb to the dark side of gift giving, the regift.
Regifting has received a bad reputation because there is an underlying tone of deceit. You are hoping the gifter doesn’t realize that the home taxidermy kit with starter hamster was not a success. Did a gift tag from the giver get stuck in the pages of the book, or worse, the folds of the lingerie?
What if you took the secrecy out of the deal? What about a regifting theme for Christmas?
I am not talking about a white elephant swap. The very name means you are giving someone uncle Fred’s toupee glue, and by the way, Fred wants that back.
A real regifting Christmas means you still put the thought into the gift but you just go shopping at home. You know that sweater your sister is always stealing out of your closet? Why not wrap it up and give it to her? Does your best friend admire your earrings? Suprise her with something you know she will like. What about one of your favourite books or a book that you own that you know your mom would love?
In my kitchen I have two loaf tins, 4 cookie sheets and 3 muffin tins. Who needs three muffin tins? Why not bake a batch and tuck them into a basket with the muffin tin, the recipe and if you are running with the theme, the dry ingredients for the next batch. If everyone is regifting with the intent of sharing something they think the other person will love it is all good. Even if you give someone something you received from them, chances are that they bought it because they liked it too.
Just because you are penny pinched doesn’t mean you can’t give generously. Remember, if you really miss the item you gifted it could always come back to you next year.