Wednesday, June 30, 2010
1. A cleaning schedule. Since I am off of work for the summer, I find that messes accumulate much quicker than they did during the school year. I created a cleaning schedule so everything gets done. I use a dry erase board in my laundry room to manage and remind me what needs to be done. Here is just a little tid bit of how I have things scheduled.
Tuesday-Mow the grass/outside work
Friday-Vacuum and bedrooms
2. Getting freebies in the mail! Just this week, I've gotten about 8 samples in the mail. My favorites have been the dog food samples I got from Walmart.com. They are perfect for traveling with my puppy. I cannot believe how much money I am saving by using freebies and the high value coupons that often come with them.
3. Menu planning. I have attempted to do this since moving into my house as a means to save money. I'm really seeing the money saving effects now that it is summer though! Check out this link for some awesome menu planning worksheets! Thanks Money Saving Mom!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
2. Brillo pads. This is my cleaning secret for all things stainless steel. I use them to clean my sink once a week, the tea pot, and those pesky spill savers on the stove that are always getting dirty. I cleaned these today and although they aren't immaculately shiny, they are certainly substantially shinier than they were.
After 3. Playing the Drugstore Game. I'm finally getting good at this. I'm doing both Walgreens and CVS right now and last night I had a semi unplanned trip that worked out perfectly while I was waiting for my sushi take out. I got all of these items between the two stores for $1.64 which was mostly tax. I had $6 RR at Walgreens from last week that I used and $4 of my $7 of ECB at CVS. I earned $6.50 in RR at Walgreens and $4 in ECB from CVS. This means that if I factor in my RR and ECB, I got all of this stuff for $1.14! I am not sure if I can beat it, but Walgreens has some other awesome deals I will be going back for later in the week once I have a chance to go through coupons and plan it out. I really want to get the conditioner to match up with this shampoo so I need to plan out the deal since I cannot use the $2 RR I got on the shampoo for the conditioner or it won't print out another one.
What works for you this Wednesday? Feel free to share any tips that you've discovered that make your life a little easier!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
So the storage and organization post must wait since all my camera batteries are dead thanks to this little guy. Until then, enjoy the unexpected!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
This is my garden filled with some herbs, yummy eggplant, green peppers, and 3 different kinds of tomatoes. I am hopeful (especially with all the rain we've been getting) that these plants will supply my family and friends (AND ME) with some delicious fresh food from August-October. I will also be canning tomatoes to make homemade pasta sauce, tomatoes/peppers/herbs to make salsa, and drying herbs from my garden to use all winter long. What a blessing to be able to work and see such an outcome.
I hope you find a way to count your blessings everyday. What blessings do you have in your life that you are thankful for? Comment away.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Last week, I worked out my first deal in the drugstore game. I was somewhat nervous that I would blow it, but started small. Walgreens had a deal on U by Kotex tampons that cost $3.49 and paid back $2.50 register rewards. I had some $1/1 coupons for these so I took my mom with me and paid out $2.49 each and got $2.50 back. I ended up spending just under $5 out of pocket to start this game which I thought would be a good investment. I also got some Ecotrin aspirin in the same transaction that was $2 on sale with a $2 register reward and I had a $2/1 coupon from the coupon inserts. Not only did I get free aspirin, but I got paid $2 to buy it. On my $5 investment, I was now in the possession of $7 to spend in register rewards.
I've worked out several deals since then. I limit myself to twice per week when I am on the way home from running an errand or soccer practice and if the deal I have worked out can't work, I leave and stop by the second Walgreens I pass on my way home. (I have 3 within about a mile of my house).
Today, I had some great luck on a scenario that I had worked out.
I had $5 in RR that were left from another transaction earlier in the week to use.
Jergens Natural Glow Firming Lotion--marked down to $4.59 each and you earned a $5 RR when you bought 2
(2) lotions at $4.59 each - (2) $2/1 Jergens Natural Glow lotion coupons=$2.59 each
1 6 oz Orange slices-$.39 on sale
Total= $5.57 - $5 RR= $.57 + .67 tax=$1.24 out of pocket
Plus I earned a $5 RR to use next week.
I'm sure some of you are wondering why on earth I bought orange slices when I could have gotten the lotions for change without it. Walgreens will not let you use more coupons than you have items so the cheap candy (which was on sale for a REALLY great price) is called a filler item. This extra $.39 let me use $9.00 in coupons instead of $7.00 at most since the RR is considered a coupon.
All in all, I've spent less than $10 out of pocket in 5 transactions and I've gotten over $100 worth of merchandise. I can honestly say that I really can't believe it until I look at the cabinet in my bathroom full of quite a few items I've gotten for super cheap. I used to be a dollar store or Suave only girl because everything else was too expensive. I've gotten amazing name brand products (Jergens Natural Glow, Reach, John Frieda, Pantene, Kotex, Gillette, and Bayer just to name a few) for pennies on the dollar. Some of these things will be given as gifts (think stocking stuffers) later on down the road. Until then, they will be stored in their place which will be the inspiration for my next post on storage of freebies and stockpilings!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
If you don't know, I have recently had a construction project that is more reminiscent of Holmes on Homes than Curb Appeal. I hired a man to put a 20x16 concrete patio on the back of my house. I did not take this process lightly. I researched, got referrals, made phone calls, set up price quotes, checked with the BBB, and in the end this man was the one for the job. As frustrating as it has been (no calls, no shows, messed up BIG time, ruined grass, and a broken seal on my sliding glass door), I've had to be patient and assertive in getting exactly what I want out of this project. After over a month of effort, this will all be worth it next week. I'm not sure we would have gotten here without a few pressuring words or assertive stands, but my backyard oasis is on it's way.
I will also be having a fence put in next week. Please dear Lord make this go smoothly. This has also been a long process of me trying to score the best price from the company. I got 4 price quotes, and thanks to some bargaining, will be paying $300 less than the lowest referral and had a tension wire to keep my dog from digging under it thrown in for no cost. It has taken me an extra 2 weeks to get all of this, but in the end those extra $300 are going to go toward my future car purchase.
I have also added a wonderful little garden to my backyard this week. It has eggplant, green peppers, and 3 different kinds of tomatoes that will feed me all fall and winter long. Since this was my first year for the garden, I overbought how many plants I would need. This has turned out to be a blessing though because I have been able to supply plants to others with my excess! I'm also realistic in my understanding that there is NO WAY I will be able to eat all the plants my garden produces so I've been thinking up some ideas of how to use without wasting. I will be hosting a Canning party sometime in October to can tomatoes to make pasta sauce, homemade salsa, and my favorite, chili, all winter long. Not only will this allow me to use all tomatoes I cannot eat or share with others, but it will provide me with yummy healthy options for dinner during those cold winter days!
Below are a few tips for outdoor living on a budget:
-Shop around. If you need a project done, don't be afraid to look for the best deal out there. The economy stinks and as a result, I've found people are much more likely to do a job for a slightly smaller price rather than not doing it at all.
-Clearance, clearance, clearance. My patio set was bought the day after the 4th of July last year from Target's clearance outdoor section. It is a beautiful black rod iron table 4ft by 2 ft with 4 chairs and comfy seat cushions that was originally priced at over $650. I got it for under $200 on clearance! You cannot beat those savings!
-Take other people's freebies. My grill was a gift from Nicole and Eric that was left at their new home when they moved in. It is a HUGE charcoal grill that was rusty and needed new handles. With a wire brush, 2 cans of rustoleum grill paint ($4.98 a can at Lowe's), and some new wooden handles, it looks like new. This means I got a huge grill for under $20.
-Barter. I knew I needed to roto-til the area where I wanted my garden to go, but I have no til, nor did I want to spend the money to rent one for the day ($49 at the ACE hardware by my house). Instead I bartered with my dad who had one I could borrow. In exchange for dinner, he and my mom came over and tilled my garden for me. What services might you be able to trade for something you need? Helping someone move in exchange for help with your taxes or painting in exchange for help with hooking up electronics?
-Grow organic. It may actually cost you slightly more than it would to use lots of inorganic products, but it is much cheaper than buying organic food. I've found that Meijer normally runs some pretty good sales on organic plant food that help with potted plants and veggies (since they use up the nutrients in the potted soil within a few weeks). It makes it comparable in price to unnatural substances. You can also keep weeds down thus saving yourself a LOT of time by putting down newspaper around the plants and areas where you walk then putting grass clippings on top of it. It is going to give me a great excuse to let the grass grow an extra day or two. :)
What tips do you use for outdoor living on a budget?
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Just a few featured items include: Kraft Singles, Kellogg's Cereals, Gatorade, Tombstone pizza, Velvetta, Edy's Ice cream, Nabisco snacks, Toaster Strudels, Yoplait Greek Yogurt, and Jello pudding. They also have those delicious vine ripe tomatoes on sale for $.99/lb which has spurred me to share one of my favorite summer recipes with you.
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
2 large vine ripe tomatoes
4 oz. mozzarella cheese (best to use the block and cut it into small chunks--about half the block)
4 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
Cut the tomatoes (with seeds and juice) and cheese into small chunks. Combine together in container that can be sealed. Chop basil and add to container. Add the oil and vinegar. Close the lid and shake everything up. Let sit for 5-10 minutes then pour into a bowl and enjoy. (You can discard the excess oil/vinegar mix if you do not want it when you eat)
This is also great mixed with some cooled angel hair pasta for a summer pasta salad variation as well!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I have been using coupons and help from many online blogs, like Thankfully Thrifty, A Frugal Friend, The Blessed Life, and Couponing101 to help me find awesome deals for super cheap things my kids will like to earn.
Here are my stock pilings as of June 1st. I have spent less than $3 total for this entire box of items.
Tips for finding cheap deals:
1. Save coupons that do not have a size restriction to use on trial sized items. Things like trial sized lotions, deoderant, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and shower gel are must haves for my students. I know these will likely be the first things to go so I'm stocking up now!
2. Send off for freebies to be sent to you in the mail. The site Thankfully Thrifty has Freebie Fridays where they list out all the freebies available right now. I've sent away for numerous ones for tampons, pads, shower products, and magazines.
3. Keep your eyes posted for products containing trial sized items when you buy them. I have had numerous packages of Clean and Clear and Vasaline brand lotions that contain a 1 or 2 oz trial attached. Since I'm already buying the product, why not get something else for free?
4. Save magazines that come in the mail. I signed up for subscriptions to Self, Fitness, Cosmo, and Marie Claire last year with my MyCokeRewards account. Since then Teen Vogue, Lucky, and Cosmo girl show up every month as well without me ever subscribing. I save them in their packages and add them to my stockpile of things.
5. You don't have to get it all at once. My problem when I started this last fall was that I needed to come up with plenty of items in a very short amount of time. I now have all summer to add to my collection. The picture above shows what I have after about a month and a half. I know I won't have much time when school first starts so I want to make sure I am stocked through October 30th (When soccer season is over). This way if I don't have time to get things refilled on a regular basis, I have a stash to pull from at home that will hold me over.
What ideas do you have for changing student behavior using a token economy? I think something like this might even work for kids out of school for the summer at home with parents. Throwing in packaged cookies, granola bars, fruit snacks, and some other treats might work best for smaller kids. Any and all ideas for things to add or suggestions for changes are welcome!