Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom by Michelle Singletary

Always trying to find ways to maybe pinch another penny, I am very open to any book that promises a new approach to saving money. Most of these book have very traditional ways of getting financially independent, paying off high rate credit card debt first, paying off mortgage early by making extra payments early in the year etc. While the messages in these books hold true, they are not really great and new revelations. This book is a little bit different, it tries to teach people that money can be saved by determining what is really essential. Cutting down on expenses can be hard, but if you realize that life essentials are really only a few items then walking past a lot of store windows without buying anything becomes easily achievable.

I rate this book along the lines of the new "minimalist lifestyle" movement that is gaining traction in which people cut down on expenses by focusing on items they really need. What I found distracting was the tie in with Christian believes. While I do not question the power of anyone religion, Jesus in my opinion had very little to say about spending money on the large amount of commercial items that are available to us today, including online shopping. I would not have minded a chapter dedicated to showing how Christian believes support good spending habits or living according to a strict budget, after all tithing is an expense that can easily be budgeted. But the author, in my opinion, goes overboard by making constant and never-ending references to Christianity.

available on

This book is about getting people out of the routine of simply spending and the author has good advice. She recommends spending cash rather than plastic, keeping a journal of expenses. I do  both of these things and have done for years. Did it take a huge religious epiphany for me to start keeping a journal? No, I simply realized that keeping a journal had made it easier for generations of women in my family to get their money allocated in a way that allowed them to save despite scarce resources. What helped me cut down on expenses was the knowledge that superficial things, such as clothes and house and jewelry, are not what matters. Is there some tie in to my underlying religion, yes, but I certainly do not consider keeping a journal an exercise in religion.

Unfortunately, I have to give this book a rather negative review because the constant litany of Christianity does this and Christianity mandates that, when really the author has good recommendations on how to focus your spending on essential items and re-evaluate your current spending to focus on what is required; both processes will allow most people to cut back on expenses and save in the long run.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and have not been influenced by any third party. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Harris Teeter Meal Deal - all you need for a hearty chili and bargain prices thrown in as well!

Harris Teeter has a great Meal Deal going on this week (valid until Tuesday evening). You get $10 instant savings if you buy ground beef (or turkey) and eight additional ingredients to make chili. Included on the shopping lists are items such as sour cream, shredded cheese and canned tomatoes. If you are like me and you have been trimming your pantry by cooking soup for several weeks now, a change to a weekend of chili is just happening at the perfect time. I could not wait to cook chili and this Meal Deal promised bargain prices, which made chili actually affordable.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - the Meal Deal from Harris Teeter with $10 instant savings!
 So off I was on Saturday to get my shopping done. Despite the Meal Deal, I still stuck to a budget and I knew that I had plenty of chili ingredients at home, so I limited myself to the Meal Deal and allowed myself a little bit something for dessert. After picking up some Ground Beef (you have to buy the lean 93% variety) for about $6, I bought the sour cream, shredded cheese (8oz package), iced tea and chili seasoning. I then bought the whole wheat crackers and opted for some kidney beans and crushed tomatoes. After indulging on some Blue Bunny ice cream (BOGO special and they did have pistachio almond flavor in stock), my total came to less than $10. Not a bad total considering that I splurged on the ice cream, which cost me an additional $3.50.

At home on Sunday, I started the chili. As stated I still had plenty of ingredients at home, so I browned the beef in my rather vintage looking West Bend two piece crock pot (I love this piece, which I picked up at Goodwill years ago for about $5.00). I then added a small can of green chiles, two cans of tomatoes with jalapenos, one can black beans, one can black beans with jalapenos and two cans of diced tomatoes. My crock pot was filled to the brim and it started smelling really, really good. About 4 hours later, everything was heated through and chili was on the menu. Adding some cheese, sour cream and crumbled crackers made for a nice dish and the chili was finally spicy enough to please everyone. Adding the jalapenos in the tomatoes and beans made all the difference and despite having a relatively small amount of beef, this chili was tasty and filling.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - bowl of chili at a bargain price!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

bzzagent review: Fiber One Protein cereal in Cranberry Almond and Maple Brown Sugar flavor

Through bzzagent, I received two full size boxes of Fiber One Protein Cereal in the flavors of Cranberry Almond and Maple Brown Sugar. I loved both flavors and what really intrigued me about this cereal is the fact that even when letting it site for quite a while in milk, the cereal is still crunchy and no soggy.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - a bowl of goodness, here is the Fiber One with Maple and Brown Sugar!

copyright Durhamonthecheap -two yummy flavors, both filled with the same level of healthy goodness

copyright Durhamonthecheap -yep, there is a healthy AND tasty cereal on the market

copyright Durhamonthecheap - in office sampling of Fiber One Protein cereal can start!
I took both boxes to work and allowed people to sample the flavors. While everyone thought they were tasty, the one negative item that was brought up is that for people on a diet, such as Weight Watchers, these cereals will pack quite a large punch, i.e. point count. So exercise caution if you stick to a point program and while you can still enjoy the natural goodness of Fiber One as a protein cereal, you may have to settle for a smaller portion. If you are not on a diet, munch away and enjoy. I have sampled both flavors now several times and still cannot decide which one is my favorite. I guess, I will just have to keep eating them!

Disclaimer: I received free samples through in return for a sampling review and WOM advertising. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by bzzagent or any third party. 

Private Selection - Kroger makes some really good, but affordable gourmet cookies such as White Chocolate Almond Coconut

Thanks to bzzagent I was able to get a free package of Kroger Private Selection cookies. Since I was not feeling in the mood for chocolate, I opted for the White Chocolate Almond Coconut flavor. The cookies are baked right in the store and come in packages with six cookies that retail for $3.99.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the cookies go extremely well with some chocolate milk!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the cookies not only look homemade, they taste that way too!
After biting into my first cookie I was hooked, this flavor is awesome. It is nice balance between almond and coconut, with just a little bit of sweetness from the white chocolate. One cookie is large enough for a snack and I really could not eat a second one without filling really full, especially since I paired the cookies with chocolate milk.

Disclaimer: provided me a free coupon for a box of Private Selection cookies from Kroger. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by or any third party.

Final McDonald's Dollar Menu review - closing out the $1 menu items with side salad and grilled onion cheddar burger

The things I do for me readers. I was determined to sample the last remaining item on the dollar menu and so today, in order to celebrate the Super Bowl in style (not really), I was off to McDonalds to finish out the dollar menu. On the list were the side salad and the grilled onion cheddar burger. I also treated myself to a large coffee with cream and sugar.

To start off with the person behind the counter this evening had extremely selective hearing. When I asked him a question, he did not seem to actually hear that I said anything. I guess his brain his so efficiently programmed that it only recognized menu items. After basically shouting at the guy to get my question answered, I had worked up enough of an appetite that I definitely needed to order some food. So an order for the Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger and a large coffee was placed. Then came the disaster of the side salad. I could not decide on a dressing,  but went with my first instinct and said French, followed by "or Ranch something". The staffer assured me that French was available, so I said, French it is then. Only to be told by the staffer's colleague a minute later that they had no French dressing. At this point, I figured it was safest to ask for a list of available dressings and then finally settled on the Southwest dressing since it promised some spice to what I expected to be a fairly plain salad. The staffer, who had previously not listened and assured me that French dressing was available, then handed me the package with the dressing, fork and napkins as if I was handed they keys to the kingdom. Somewhat puzzled what provided me with this honor, I then told the staffer's colleague that this order was to go and she may as well put the salad aka keys to the kingdom into the take-out bag with the salad and the burger. To which said colleague already knowingly rolled her eyes, making me believe it was not first unusual workflow the staffer had implemented in the McDonalds during his, what better be, a very brief stay. In any case, I eventually ended up with the correct order and left the store. By then, staffer was again standing in a trance-like state behind the cash register, probably scheming additional workflow alterations that were sure to bewilder future customers!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - quick dinner to close out the Dollar Menu sampling tour - McD's is done!
So now to the food. The Southwestern dressing is basically Ranch dressing with some spice and the salad was actually not bad. A couple of small tomatoes, some carrots and various forms of lettuce. Good for a quick green bite. The coffee, normally very good, tasted burned this evening and I was glad I went with the usual significant amount of cream and sugar to hide the burned taste. The best part of the meal was the Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger that was nicely flavored and made for a quick dinner that is not too loaded on calories. This is actually something I may try in the future at home when grilling. It is easy enough to grill some onions beforehand and then offer them as a topping for burgers or brats. Tasted good and this burger will be one I keep coming back for.

Sponsored post: #TruMoo seasonal flavor - Chocolate Marshmallow to be enjoyed hot or cold! + $500 GC giveaway

Those following my blog will know from prior posts that I really love TruMoo. TruMoo is a great addition to every fridge because its chocolate milk is tasty and fun to drink for the kids. But best of all, mom knows that this milk is really healthy and so mom can give TruMoo to the little ones knowing that they are drinking a chocolate milk that is healthy and good for them.
Last year, TruMoo had a special, orange-colored chocolate milk in time for Halloween and now, TruMoo has come up with the ultimate and I really mean ultimate chocolate milk – starting January 26 of this year, Target has been selling a TruMoo Chocolate Marshmallow Milk. Can you imagine this? You pick up the perfect Friday evening cozy on the sofa beverage and it is already ready mixed by TruMoo. 
Can you image how happy your kids will be when they come home from school or daycare and rather than plain whit milk, you now can offer chocolate milk and even better, it comes already with marshmallows.Plus, since it is TruMoo, this chocolate milk contains no artificial growth hormones and no high fructose corn syrup.
If this news got you excited about a new treat for your kids, you must keep in mind that only Target is currently selling this Chocolate Marshmallow Milk. So if you plan on running to your neighborhood grocery store, make sure it is a Target because of the grocery stores, including Walmart, will only start carrying the Chocolate Marshmallow Milk during the first week of February.You can use the store location to find out where TruMoo is sold in your area.
This is a seasonal flavor and will only be available for a limited time, so hurry into your Target now and get some TruMoo Chocolate Marshmallow Milk! But if you miss your opportunity for the seasonal flavor, rest assured there is still TruMoo in your stores. TruMoo chocolate and vanilla milk available year-round for you to enjoy. 
If you want to find out about more upcoming seasonal milk flavors, you can like TruMoo on their Facebook at or their Twitter page at I should also mention that TruMoo is very healthy and on the TruMoo webpage at you can look up tjhe nutritional information of your favorite TruMoo flavor.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - I was unable to find the marshmallow flavor, but the plain chocolate TruMoo is excellent!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - especially if paired with a cookie, TruMoo chocolate milk makes for a great snack!
very easy.  Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I received a financial reimbursement for this post. Nevertheless, the opinion expressed in this blog post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.