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Ask the Miserly Mom: Frugal snacks, Motivation to save and upholstery tips

Jonni McCoy, the Miserly Mom, shares her tips for making frugal snacks for kids, finding the motivation to save money and offers an inexpensive reupholstery idea.
Frugal snacks for kids
Q: I was wondering if you have any ideas for frugal, healthy snacks for kids. Mine love crackers, but they can be expensive. Any suggestions? – Kathy
A: I can relate to this problem! Mine love crackers and other expensive snacks, too. You can make your own crackers, flavoring them anyway you like (cheese, garlic, onion, bacon, etc.). Here are some sites to visit for recipes to get you started:

Other than crackers, there are many homemade treats that are also healthy. I make muffins in large batches and freeze them. When the kids get hungry they can microwave them. I serve popcorn made from scratch. This costs one cent per cup. Make available several toppings to make it interesting. We use cheese powder, Lawry’s seasoning, garlic salt, taco seasoning, and old fashioned butter. Be creative!
We also encourage sliced fruit and maybe a dip or yogurts for them. Or sliced vegetables with toppings, such as ants-on-a-log (celery with peanut butter and raisins on top). We also make our own granola bars with homemade granola (see Miserly Moms for a non-fat recipe).

Motivation to save
Q: Just like going on a diet, I become very frugal for long periods of time, doing all the right things, from writing a menu and a food-shopping list to checking out sales and stocking up. I am restrained and don’t buy stuff on impulse and ask myself if I need or want that item. Then after being very budgetwise for a long period of time, I just go loose. I stop keeping all those good habits. I start racking up credit card debt again. I stop making menus and just go to the store buying a lot stuff. Needless to say, we end up in a financial hole, and we have to dig ourselves out. Is this common? How do you stop this cycle? – Nancyann

A: This is very common! I equate being on a budget to being on a diet. We go on the diet, lose weight, then get tired of the restrictions and go eat wildly again, only to put the pounds back on. In order to make the budget stick, we have to have a good reason to stick with it. If we do it because we “should,” we’ll bail on the plan. If we want to stay with a budget in order to reach a goal, then we’ll be more likely to stay on it.

My goal was to stay home with my kids and not work. I wanted that very badly. And I knew that if I used my credit cards or over spent on my budget, that I might have to go back to work and not be with my kids. That was my motivation. You need a motivation. Pick something that will make you say “no” to debt.

Inexpensive reupholstery idea
Q: I have a sectional sofa that is only five years old and is in good shape except for one corner where the cats clawed the material completely off of the arm and left the wood showing. Is there anyway I can cover it inexpensively? Any covers run at least $100. – Lynne A: We have the same problem at our house. I have a love seat that the cats have torn up and I couldn’t afford to have it recovered. I tried the throws but those keep coming undone. So I went to a fabric wholesaler who sold the ends of fabric rolls from factories. You have to have this kind of outlet because their rolls are extra long. Since most couches are long, you need the extra length that a regular fabric store can’t offer. I bought enough yards for my love seat for $60, and went to work with a staple gun. I took off each piece from my sofa and laid it out as the pattern for my new fabric cuts. Then I restapled them over the old fabric. I did this for each section. It took two entire days, but looked great! And I’ve never done this before. I hope this works for you!

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