5 Ways to Save on Your Verizon Bill

Most everyone we know is trying to cut expenses, and we are no exception.  Today I’m sharing 5 ways you can save on your Verizon bill.  They’re all easy and painless to implement.

Below are the best ways we’ve found to save on our Verizon bill, whether you’re an RVer or not.

5-ways-to-save-on-your-verizon-bill


1.  Share Plans.
  This is probably the biggest savings we’ve found.  We joined a family members plan so we share the basic account access charge.  That charge is simply for having the service and it’s quite a chunk of the bill.  Now this option isn’t for everyone but we have a mutual trust and respect for the other family member.  We’re both paying our portion of the bill and we both save so it’s a win-win.

2.  Change Plans. Previously we were under a very limited plan and were consistently busting our minutes.  After Verizon started offering the Share Everything Plan, we upgraded and ended up paying less for more features.

For some the Share Everything Plans is above what is needed.  Talk to a Verizon Rep and they’ll help you figure out what is most cost-effective.

3.  Discounts.  Verizon offers discount rates for a humongous number of business or reasons.  Student discount. Military/Veteran discounts.  Specific bank member discounts.  Essentially if you’re breathing and live in America, you qualify for a discount.  There are of course instances when this doesn’t ring true but you get my point.  Just ask.  You never know.  More than likely you do qualify and the savings can be substantial.  We currently have a 21% discount and it is su-weeet.

4.  Monitor Usage.  With Verizon’s Share Everything Plan, you really only need to be concerned with your data usage.  Regardless of your plan, you need to make sure you don’t get charged overages which are always more than simply calling and upping your plan for the month.

For example, if you go over your data plan allowance at all, you are charged $15 for each GB.  But if you monitor your usage and see you are going to bust your data,call Verizon and raise your allowance.  If you do so you’ll only pay $10 for 2 GB.  No brainer.

You also can have Verizon automatically set your data back to the lower amount the following month if you think your overage was a freak occurrence.You can monitor your data through Verizon’s website, apps like DataMan, or through text notifications from Verizon.  We rely on the later because DataMan doesn’t pick up what we are using off of our MIFI.

5.  Cut Back.  As full-time RVers, data is a huge portion of our bill.  No matter who you are, you wan to make sure you disable automatic downloads over cellular data on all your devices.  We choose to download when we are near free WIFI.Many RVers connect to the internet off of free wifi hotspots.  We haven’t broken down and done this yet, but if you want more information there is a vast amount out there, like here and here and here are just a few.

With a little trimming to your Verizon bill and you really can save. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you’re not stuck and your plan can change with your changing needs.

Home Buying, Goals, & Contentment

What?!  This blog is suppose to be about a crazy family of 6 living in a remodeled RV. Homebuying??

Well since we moved to Florida 2 months ago, there have been all sorts of changes.Continue Reading

You Need a Budget ~ Really You Do

Budgets sound so boring don’t they?!  The idea of budgeting sounds restrictive.  It sounds anti-fun.  It speaks “nerd”.  But if you want to have any control over your spending, you need a budget.Continue Reading

How to Make Fitted Sheets From a Flat

I don’t know about you, but my kids refuse to use a flat sheet. I’ve tried off and on since they were about 2, but the flat sheet always ended up wedged to the foot end of the bed. So we only use a fitted sheet for their beds.

Kids will be kids. It’s always nice to have an extra sheet or 3. Today I’m going to share with you how I sew my own fitted sheets from a flat (or a piece of fabric).

This really came in handy when we made the custom bunks for the Winnie.  Since all 4 beds were odd sizes, I needed to custom fit all the sheets or deal with tucking lots of extra fabric under.  I hate tucking and readjusting sheets.  A mama’s got enough to do in my humble opinion.

Back to my fitted sheets…

My big kid’s mattress tops measure 27″ X 57″.  The mattress thickness is 4 inches.  You need to know all these measurements specifically for your own bed to fit the sheets properly.  I don’t want to get hate mail because you followed my measurements.  That and I doubt anyone has the same size bunks that we do.  We like to be different.

But given my bed size example, here is how you figure out the size of your fitted sheet.

Width of Sheet

  27 (width of the mattress)
8 (thickness of the mattress multiplied by 2)
+ 4 (for hem and overhang )
 39 inches

Length of Sheet

  57 (length of mattress)
   8 (thickness of mattress multiplied by 2)
+ 4 (for hem and overhang)
 69 inches

So you’ll want to take fabric or cut your sheets to the measurement that you find you need for your particular bed.

Cut Out Corners

Next you need to cut out notches so you can make your corners.  As I said, I have a 4 inch thick mattress and I have allowed for 2 extra inches on each side for the hem and under tuck (if that’s a word).  So I cut out a 6 inch square from each of the 4 corners of the piece of fabric.

cutting-corners-for-fitted-sheets

Time to Hem

Now is the easiest time to hem your sheet. I tend to sew like a mad woman and go as fast as my machine will allow. I don’t want to have to fuss with any corners which is why I recommend sewing the corners together AFTER you have hemmed the edges.

I fold over my hem 1/4″ and then another 1/4″ and sew along the edge. I loathe pinning and have an dislike for the iron so I just do this turning under by hand as I go along with the sewing machine. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

hem-outside-edges

Sew the Corners

Sew-Corner-Edges

Corners need to be sewed together next.  Simply line those cut out corners that are missing the 6″ squares and sew a 1/4″ seam from the point down to the edge.  Now you have a nifty corner for your sheet.

seam-sewed-closed

Attaching Elastic

In order to get the sheet to fit around your mattress, you need to attach elastic to the edge.

On the top of the sheet I start on the left side about 8 or 9 inches from my corner seam and zig sag stitch a 1/4″ piece of elastic to the edge.  Once I’ve got the elastic attached with a couple of stitches at the beginning, I pull that elastic VERY tight as I let the machine pull the hem of the sheet through.  You just want the elastic pulled tight so it will scrunch the fabric and give you fitted corners.

I do the top of the sheet as one big strip and finish about 8 or 9 inches on the other side of the right corner.

elastic-attached-pulled-tight

And that is it.  So easy and it makes making beds a breeze.

custom-fitted-sheets

I’d estimate that one sheet takes less than 10 minutes to sew custom fitted sheets from start to finish.  Worth the time in my book!

 

 

 

The Cost of Heating the RV During the Winter

sample-costs-to-winter-rv-in-South-Dakota

RV living is affordable. Maybe. But this winter, heating the RV has not been.

When we made the change from a regular sticks and bricks house to an RV, we anticipated that our living expenses would drastically go down.

Now that the dust has settled and we’ve experienced a normal winter month without going on vacation or having to buy vinyl skirting & fix frozen pipes, we actually have time to figure out how much it’s costing us to live in the camper.

It’s ugly I tell you. Like go into a corner and suck your thumb ugly. Not ugly compared to a mortgage or all that goes along with it. But ugly in that it’s not been nearly as frugal as we expected.

To give you a snapshot, here are our expenses due to living in the RV this past January.

  • Site Rental – $170
  • Electrical Costs – $165
  • Propane – $240
  • Laundry – $65
  • RV Payment – $375
  • RV Insurance – $40
  • Total $1,055!!!

Now take into consideration that we’d have to pay for our water and our internet in our normal house. Still, the numbers are shocking.

Our site rental is unbelievably cheap! Clearly we have a heating problem (and possibly a laundry one as well). For reals. Our propane and electric cost us $405 this past month! Needless to say our camper is NOT energy efficient.

We go through a 25 gallon propane cylinder every week!

Propane Breakdown

We have the camper set at 70 degrees and it’s fairly comfortable. Since we have little ones we keep the heat higher than we would if it was just Mark and I. The kids and I are home all day so we do very little adjusting to the thermostat.

I bake, but maybe only a few times a week. I don’t think it’s our big problem.

I really think the heating is the cause of our high propane usage.

Electrical Breakdown

Our electric is higher than we had hoped too, I think mostly because of 2 space heaters we run.

You see, the space heaters really cut the chill and focus the heat where we are in the camper. One is usually directed toward the living room slide area because it is draftier there.

We run the other one in the kid’s bunkroom because it still can get pretty chilly back there, especially with their bathroom not being ducted and the outside door that leads to that same bathroom. Oh and their room has 2 slides, which means more draft. Our 2 youngest still take naps through the day so leaving their room without additional heat is not an option.

Our water heater does run off of electric and it’s a 10 gallon. That contributes I’m sure but again, I think the space heaters are the main energy hogs.

Things are Looking Up

That’s all we can figure on why our heat is costing us so much. Everything else was expected when we moved. The heating was huge variable that we were unsure of and we’ve had a colder winter this year than the last for sure.

So we’re really excited to get into our new/old rig. It is a smaller space and (hopefully) better insulated but I’m not holding my breath. It only has 1 slide though and since so much air exchanges in the slide area, we’re hoping for less drafts. We will NOT be skirting it though since we’re almost through the bitter cold and also we read that it’s not as necessary in a Class A.  We shall see.

By April we should be able to update what a full month of our heating costs in the Class A. But now you have a snapshot of what it costs to live in a 41 foot 5th wheel with 4 slides during the winter.

 

$20 to Spend on Pampered Chef – What Would You Buy?

Since we have cut back and want to spend our money more wisely, I thought I’d address one of my weaknesses.  Pampered Chef.

pampered-chef-on-a-budget

I’m not a consultant, nor have I ever been one (though I did con my mom into being one so I could split the consultant package with her when she deactivated).

I’ve used my fair share of Pampered Chef over the past 15 years

Which brings me the question, what are the most worthwhile Pampered Chef products?  Or if you had $20 to spend on Pampered Chef, what would you buy?

I attended a Pampered Chef party recently.  I’ve been to like 300 cooking “shows.”  Okay, maybe not.  But I have been to a few.  There are some real nice kitchen tools that are worth the added expense, but some of the items are too over-priced in my humble opinion.

My absolute favorite, budget-friendly Pampered Chef items they would have to be the following

Mix N Masher – $11.50 This is by far, my favorite Pampered Chef item.  So much so, that I talked about it here.

pampered-chef-mix-n-masher

Garlic Press – $16.50 I like that this press is all one piece and you don’t have to peel the garlic clove. It also comes with a nifty brush to clean out the garlic and that brush stores in the handle of the press.

pampered-chef-garlic-press

Batter Bowl – $16.00 I’m sure you can get a knock off of this but $16 is very affordable and you can even bake with it if you want.  It has a lid, handle, & pour spout.  Convenient.

pampered-chef-classic-batter-bowl

Serrated Peeler – $8.50 I prefer this style of peeler for apples, potatoes, or carrots.  I’ve bought other peelers, one was Michael Graves Design and the other was Tupperware – both failed and broke.

pampered-chef-serrated-peeler

Whisk – $13.50 I’ve had other whisks and they were junk.  They fell apart at the base or didn’t have enough bend in the wires be effective. This one is so nice and perfect in weight and for whipping.

pampered-chef-stainless-steel-whisk

Nylon Pan Scrappers – $3 These come in a set of 3.  I use them to clean my stoneware as well as my stainless steel pans (not Pampered Chef)  These are sturdy and inexpensive.

pampered-chef-pan-scrapers

My list is practical, conservative, under $20, and budget-friendly.  I’ve obviously NOT tried everything Pampered Chef but these are my favorites.

Did I miss something on my list of affordable Pampered Chef items?

 

Groceries and How We Stick to Our Budget

Family of 6. Living in an RV.  Little storage space.  Smaller fridge/freezer. Maybe you’re wondering how we do our groceries.

making your grocery budget work

A couple things have changed since we moved into the camper.  Basically we shop more often and don’t stock up on deals we come across.  Below is a simple breakdown of what we do for our family.  (And by we, I mean I)

Our Budget

Mark gets paid every 2 weeks and we promptly take out $400.  Yep…lots of money right?? It seems like it to me, maybe it’s not to you dear reader.  But that’s what we can afford for our little big family.  This covers all toiletries, puppy expenses, groceries, cleaning products, diapers, etc.

Now some of you may say, sheesh….your kids are small, how much can they really eat?? Oh do not let their size fool you!  Eva could eat almost anyone under the table any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  I kid you not.

Zero Coupons

We mostly try to stay away from prepackaged and processed foods.  Many coupons are for those convenience items so the bulk of coupons are not applicable to our eating style.

There are coupons out there that I would totally use.  I really would.  But I ALWAYS forget to use them.  It never fails.  So I *almost* avoid coupons.  Sounds silly I’m sure but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten something just because I had a coupon.  I’ve been burned and I have now developed an aversion to coupons.  I used to coupon all the time when I had 2 kids but it’s true what they say, you lose brain cells when you are pregnant and I’ve had 4 kids people!!

Cash System

I pay for ALL of our household needs using cash.  I was tempted to get a credit card for all my purchases because we get pretty sweet rewards through our bank.  Yeah, we could earn points/$ but the temptation to overspend or stretch into the next pay period was too great.  In the end we decided the negatives outweighed the benefits.

Let me just be real and tell you that I don’t really like this part of our plan, the cash ONLY system.  There are times I want to purchase coconut oil off Amazon or buy some herbs/supplements online.  It takes some preplanning and conversing with the hubsters, (like that’s a bad thing right?).  I have misplaced money before and that just STINKS.  Still it’s the best option for me and if I don’t have the cash I don’t get it.  Which brings me to…

Strict Budget

I use to be all prideful and ashamed to tell a cashier I needed to put something back.

Try it.

Just once.

But don’t you dare explain to him/her that you have money in your bank account just not “grocery” money for that item you need to put back.  Not that I’ve ever done that before.

At first I was embarrassed but I decided to get over my “image”, whatever that is/was. And why I even cared what my friendly cashier thought about my money situation is beyond me!

Weekly Meal Planning

I plan all the meals out weekly.  I can’t say I like this part of the deal either but I have NOT planned the meals out in the past and it is beyond frustrating figuring out what we are going to eat for din din.  If I wing it, inevitably forget something from the store or some obscure ingredient.  Then I have to go to the store again and buy even more extras we didn’t really need.

Weekly Shopping

I use to shop for 2 weeks at a time, but I actually prefer going weekly.  It’s like spa time going to the store and I can readjust the meal plan if we ended up not needing all the groceries I had gotten the previous week.  It seems as though we are wasting less and really only buying what we are going to use in that 1 week time frame.

Minimal Pantry

We obviously have limited space in the camper, though admittedly, as far as campers go, we have tons of space. Still I keep a few things on hand and just buy the canned goods as needed.  Some staples I keep on hand besides baking and cooking supplies are crackers, tuna, coconut milk, peanut butter, marshmallows, and any bulk items I’ve purchased from Azure Standard.

Freezer Space

Friends are letting us store our grassfed beef in their freezer since we order it once a month.  I’m hoping to squeeze it into our freezer but we’ll see.

Other than beef, we just pretty much stay on top of what is in the freezer.  We buy it, we eat it.  Pretty simple.

 

So that’s what I do.  Somethings we’ve been doing for years…the limited space and weekly shopping is a new thing.  I use to stock up when something was on sale, now that is not an option.  We keep as little as possible on hand and try to only buy what we need for any given week.  We’re not perfect about it but I think it’s something you just learn and get accustomed to as you go.

Do you have any tips to share to stay on budget?  Do you have a grocery budget?