Sunday, January 06, 2013

new year, new financial challenges

So this year will be, universe and adolescent brain willing, our first year of paying college tuition.  We're right smack in the middle of getting a jump start on our income tax prep, first time in, like, evah, thanks to the FAFSA. (For those of you who have been down the FAFSA road you know how anxiety provoking hitting that final calculation button can be. GULP!  For those of you who aren't there yet, I don't recommend googling this acronym. It's not good for your mental health.)

Anyhow, this morning afternoon as I went about some routine morning chores, I came up with a great idea to save money AND refrigerator space.  Here's how it came about:

My neighbor left town for the holiday break and brought over a gallon of whole milk that her family didn't have time to drink.  Mine is a skim milk family so that gallon has sat in the fridge untouched all week.  My kids think whole milk tastes terrible (not me... I think of it as guiltless liquid vanilla ice cream).

Late last night I decided to take deceptive measures.  With the last gallon skim nearly empty, I added whole milk plus water, shook it up, and voila, a gallon of skim milk is born.

None the wiser, my kids ate their cereal this morning without notice.  So as I refreshed the gallon container once again with the milk/water mix, I thought, why not do this all year long?  Buy only two gallons of whole milk per grocery store trip instead of the usual four to five gallons.  Saves room in the fridge and money.  Woo hoo !!

And why didn't I think of this sooner?  As in, sixteen-years-ago sooner?  According to a reader's suggestion on the Money Saving Mom, this method could save me somewhere in the range of $300-$400/year. Times sixteen years?  Plus interest?   I'm not an accounting major, but I think we'd have enough saved for one semester of tuition, anyway.

Ok, so now my smarty-pants dream-killer husband just walked in and informed me this plan has a kink.  Because whole milk has fat in it, we'll never get it down to the 0% fat of skim milk.  True.  While not a chemist or nutritionist, either, I'm sure we can get it down to a nominal, tolerable amount of fat, can't we?  Make up for it by doing jumping jacks every time we pour ourselves a glass of milk?

Has anyone done this already?  Any other penny pinching tips for this soon-to-be in-the-poorhouse mom?


The Girl Next Door said...

No comments on the whole milk, which I think is ingenious, but I will tell you that somehow you will survive the pains of a college child. The money is nothing compared to the loneliness. Oops sorry did I spring that on you?!!

smalltownme said...

I haven't had to do the FAFSA stuff yet. My older son has been going to a relatively inexpensive JC for so long... but next year the younger one will start applying. I am not a good penny pincher but I have learned to turn in all my cans and bottles for the refund value. That adds up to some nice pocket change.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Ninety percent of it is perception. For years I buy off-brand cereal and bisquick and put it in nondescript containers and no one complains that it's generic. The milk idea is genius!

Martin Willoughby said...

If they don't notice it keep doing it. Besides we need SOME fat in our diet.

Susan said...

I wouldn't worry about the fat - pretty minimal.

When I saw the photo I thought you mihgt be doing something I started year ago. All change I get I put in a jar. I always break a bill and put the coinage aside. It add up to 250-300 a year. I save it for holiday gifts - you could use it for a text book or two!

And yes, the benefit of the annual FAFSA Fest is being ready for the taxes nice and early! Watch out for the audit where you have to send IRS certified copies of your taxes - sheesh.

Jenn @ You know... that Blog? said...

Not sure why I'm getting stuck on the fact that you buy 4-5 gallons of milk at a time, but WOW! 4L (roughly just over 1 gallon) lasts the 4 of us for a week! I guess we're not big milk drinkers, and we hardly ever have cereal - my kids are bagel lovers.

The deal for us is that we pay for the first year of tuition, and then it's up to the Teen (and eventually Wee One) to work her way through school. We started an RESP (registered education savings plan) years ago for both of them so there is a bit extra to help with books, etc.

Having to pay for 2 kids at once is scary! Good luck!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You will need less milk when the boy leaves--there is that!

Jan Holt said...

Such a great idea. I'm in. Money-saving milk hoarders unite!

Pamela said...

I used to freeze milk---I'd stock up at Costco, empty out about 1/8 into the current container, and freeze. We were constantly running out of milk! And storage IS an issue.
However, the kids thought the milk tasted weird. I thought it was FINE...but I do need them to drink it.