Monday, December 19, 2011

The Missed Opportunity of the Missed Coupon

I absolutely hate a missed coupon. I recently missed out on using a $15 coupon & a $3 store credit on some last minute Christmas presents.  After fretting about the missed money I went back to the store with my receipt & was able to use the coupon & store credit instead & got cash credited back to our checking account. 

Even the most well versed couponer will occasionally forget a coupon at home or have a cashier accidentally miss scanning a coupon.  If you find yourself in that situation, you can still get your money & save some cash. 
 Here's how to fix a missed coupon:

If the cashier forgets to scan a coupon--

  • Head on over to the customer service with your receipt.  Simply state the product & the value of the coupon & your money will be refunded immediately.   

  • If you are home & realize the cashier forgot to scan a coupon, call the store & have your receipt handy.  Frequently the store will be able to tell which cashier you had from the receipt, track down said coupon, & keep a record of your credit at the customer service counter.  Write the name of the person you spoke with, the time & date, & bring your receipt with you for your next shopping trip.
If you forget your coupons at home--

  • Bring your receipt & the matched coupons back to the store as quickly as possible.  I've been told at Walmart that price adjustments need to be completed within 7 days, so always try to redeem your missed coupons as quickly as possible.  

Additionally, if you forget to use a store credit or gift card on a purchase frequently customer service will be willing to redeem your gift card & refund your cash after the fact.  When in doubt, I just tell the customer service rep something like, 'Oh my husband did the shopping & forgot all of our coupons/store credit' & that usually does the trick.  

Here's to no more missed coupons, or at least no more missed opportunities to save.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eating Out of the Pantry & Taking a Stab at Menu Planning

I'm not a great cook.  Sufficient yes, but I'm definitely not whipping up any gourmet dishes.  Over the course of our married life I have to admit that I haven't put much effort into making supper & have often found it easier to grab take out than sit down and think about deconstructing recipes.  I am such a model homemaker.

 Before our holiday travels we planned on eating from our pantry.  I bought $50 worth of produce & perishable items, but beyond that I planned on eating from the pantry.  In order to make this work, I actually did menu planning.  Long touted as the frugal grocery shopper's best friend, I have avoided planning a menu like the plague.  I still didn't do it properly--I didn't plan it around sales, I didn't really stick to it (I mainly used it as a guideline) & I only did it one week at a time, but I found it totally helpful.

By planning menus around what we had in the pantry & what perishables needed to be eaten I was able to tackle dinner every night without so much as a batted eye lash.  As of today I have successfully made two weeks worth of home cooked meals as well as enough chili to take to a church carry-in & to freeze for after Little Baby.  I know some people can do this easily, but for me, this was a huge milestone.

In addition to the deliciousness, by planning menus no food spoiled & we were able to eat on a very small amount of money.  I hope to add more recipes to our rotation shortly, but for the meantime I've been able to come up with a month's worth of meals with minimal effort.  I definitely think that I'm going to be using menu planning in the new year.  Hopefully it will be a way we can lower our grocery bill & get dinner on the table!    

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

25 Clever Ideas to Make Life Easier

I love a good list & my friend Julie shared an amazing list of clever household tricks with me today.  It's absolutely brilliant & I plan to employ many of the suggested techniques in my own home.  I've already dug my egg carton from the recycling to hold our Christmas ornaments.  Now if only my flat sheets looked that fabulous!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ways to Save on Christmas Wrapping

One of the more obnoxious expenses of holiday season are the costs of wrapping the presents.   The wrappings are thrown away & it seems wasteful to harm any trees & create more trash just to wrap presents.  I try not to spend anything on wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes, etc. & have tried to cut down on the waste of traditional gift giving.  Here are some ways to cut down your expenses & your impact.

Go Reusable--Most stores are offer really cute reusable bags.  The bag on the left my Mom bought to wrap my birthday gifts.  It was $0.99 & holds a ton.  The red gift bag was gift wrapping from a present & we've used it multiple times.  Instead of a bunch of small gift bags, consider buying one large reusable bag. 

Save & Reuse the Bags/Bows/Tissue You Receive-- I  save every gift wrapping that I receive.  After several wedding & baby showers we've acquired quite the stockpile.  This is a great way to cut down on your environmental impact & your holiday expenses.

Ask for Boxes--Many stores offer free gift boxes at the holidays.  Simply ask if they have any available. 

 Make Your Own Gift Tags--One great way to reuse the deluge of annual Christmas cards is to cut them into gift tags.  It's cheap, looks cute, & gives a second life to Christmas cards. 

 Hit Up The Dollar Store--If you don't have a stockpile & want traditional wrappings the dollar store is a great place to purchase gift wraps, etc. inexpensively. 

Buy After Christmas Clearance--Wait until gift wrappings go on clearance. Items are a fraction of the price & I've was able to get all of the cute wrapping items to the right for pennies of the original price buy buying after Christmas (& many were sustainably harvested!). 

Think Creatively--Wrapping paper can be made from salvaged brown bags, newspapers, old maps, & other such items.  Look around to see what you have on hand before you rush to the store. 

Hopefully you don't have to spend money on your holiday wrappings & hopefully such wrappings have a minimal impact on the environment.  Season's Greetings!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You Know You're Cheap When--Salvaging a Ripped Diaper

We only use disposable diapers at night & when we travel & I have to say I sort of hate them.  They're expensive & can occasionally rip into shreds.  While traveling home from San Fransisco I had a diaper tab become totally detached from the diaper.  Grr.  Even though I try to pay $0.10-$0.15 per diaper (after coupons & sales of course), I just couldn't see throwing away $0.15.

 I used packaging tape (scotch tape hasn't held in the past for me) to tape down the interior & exterior of the ripped tab.

Though it's unlikely that the taped seam will touch Bug's skin, I taped a piece of toilet paper down over the seam, just in case.  After about 1 minute worth of work the diaper was as good as new.  It might put me into the cheapskate hall of fame, but I think it's a totally worthwhile effort. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Homemade Christmas--Buggy Blanket

Bug & her beloved Purple
Our little Doodlebug LOVES her blanket.  I'm not a fabulous knitter, but I knitted her two while I was first pregnant.  One sort of fell apart, and the other, which is more the size of a shawl than a proper blanket, is Emerson's absolute favorite.  She calls it purple & cannot stand to be away from it.  I unfortunately learned this the hard way when we forgot to bring it to the Museum of Sciences in San Fransisco & she had a total melt down hissy fit.  Seriously.  Rolling on the floor screaming.  We were those parents unable to control their child.  You're welcome, society. 

In the hopes of creating another blanket for Bug to love I decided to knit her a brand new blanket for Christmas. I tried to do this as frugally as possible, so I deconstructed the first blanket I made her.  I then used a Michael's giftcard from my FIL & paired that with weekly 40% off coupons to gather materials as cheaply as possible.  And today, after what seems like forever, I finally completed the project. 

Bug's blanket folded in half
I also decided to use up the remaining scrap yarn & I made it into a little baby doll blanket.  I'm hoping she'll be satisfied carrying the little doll blanket so we won't have to lug around old purple or new purple when we go to museums, but we shall see.   

Either way, I'm proud of myself.  It took a lot of time & it's not perfect, but I'm so happy to be able to give Emerson something that I made with my own hands this Christmas.  Now I just need to start knitting a blanket for Little Baby as well...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Maternity Wardrobe on a Budget

One of the many expenses associated with having a baby is a maternity wardrobe.  Maternity clothes are EXPENSIVE!  When I first became pregnant with Emerson I made the conscious decision to minimize the expense of a preggo wardrobe.  Here are a few techniques I've used with E & Little Baby. 

Regular Old Navy top, cardigan, & regular jeans w. use of Belly Band
Wear Your Regular Clothes--While this probably isn't possible with pants, many tops, sweaters, & skirts can be worn the majority of pregnancy.  Fortunately current fashion trends lend themselves to longer shirts, which can totally accommodate a baby bump & cardigans can be worn for 9 months. Additionally if you wear a belly band you will be able wear your pants for much, much longer. 

Sears Clearance Maternity Shirt
Shop the Clearance Racks--In my experience it's hard to get a good deal at maternity stores & often the pickings can be slim at discount retailers.  However, if you check often, it is possible to get inexpensive maternity items at places like Kohl's, Target, & even Sears.  Target also frequently puts out a coupon for Liz Lange maternity, which combined with clearance prices can equal a great deal.

Borrow--If you're really lucky you might be able to borrow a friend's maternity wardrobe. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow maternity clothes (thanks Kathy!) & I also borrowed bigger clothes from my mom.  

Used Old Navy Maternity Shirt &  Old Navy Jeans

 Buy used--Because maternity clothes are only worn for a handful of months, they only have minimal wear & tear.  Look to Ebay, resale shops, Once Upon a Child, & even garage sales for great deals on maternity items.  My mom got me 2 huge garbage bags full of clothes from Ebay for something like $40, & when I shopped at Motherhood Maternity 1 pair of pants was $40. 

Banana Republic necklace & Old Navy shirt

Size Up--Anything labeled maternity tends to come with a HUGE price tag, but buying regular clothes a few sizes up is a much cheaper alternative.  When shopping for tops look for a longer shirt & with skirts & pants, drawstrings & elastic are your friend.

Wrap dresses & skirts--For dress clothes I wore wrap dresses well into my 7th month & found them extremely comfortable.  Most of my stretchier skirts could be worn under my belly the entirety of my pregnancy.  I also bought some hippy straw skirts & wrap skirts that I could wear my whole pregnancy.   

Accessorize--If you don't have a ton of money to purchase a huge wardrobe things like scarves, jewelry, & belts can totally transform an outfit.  Plus accessories always fit, no matter how big your belly swells!

Whatever methods you choose, it is possible to have a maternity wardrobe without spending a ton of money.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Panic Mode Update

Several months ago I wrote about feeling like I was in panic mode when it came to unexpected expenses.  The health care costs of having our second child are significantly more than they were with Little E & I wanted to find a way to pay our monthly $174 doctor bill WITHOUT dipping into our savings.  So far we've done a pretty good job of making it work & I've found sharing this challenge with all of you makes me more motivated.

Here's what I've done so far: 
  • I sold broken/unused jewelry to a gold dealer & made $100.
  • I returned diapers that I bought when we first found out we were pregnant with Little Baby & used the $54  toward a payment. (They weren't a good deal either, & I know better, but I guess I was just excited to purchase tiny diapers again!)
  • I returned a fancy dress I bought for E & bought her a booster seat with the store credit.
  • I emptied out a checking account we never use, which netted us $151 toward a payment.
  • I've been using the $25/week I earn for picking up my friend's son from school toward the payments, instead of using it as blow money.  
  • I used credit card rewards to purchase a $25 Christmas gift card which saved us $25 in cash. 
  • I've sent away for reimbursement through our flex spending account; that will put over $400 back in our pockets. 
Future Goals:
    • I still need to apply for the rebate on JC's contacts ASAP.
    • JC's applying for a rebate through his health insurance/wellness program.  If he gets it that would be $500 we could use toward Little Baby's expenses (or a big girl bed for Emerson)!  
    • We're planning on primarily eating out of the pantry for the month of December.  We'll be traveling for a large portion of the month anyway, but this could save the additional expense of groceries. 
    • I've been trying to be more vigilant about turning off power strips while not in use & hopefully that will continue to lower our energy bills.  
    We only have 2 doctor payments left (thank God!), so now we just need to plan ahead for the hospital portion for Little Baby.  We also need to figure out how much a big girl bed/mattress will cost & come up with a plan for those purchases without dipping into savings.

    I have to say, I've been thinking more creatively about bringing in money & spending & it has really gotten me excited about our spending habits.  Nothing like being a total & complete frugal living nerd!

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Super Friday Shopping @ The Dollar Tree

    I kept hearing Crystal @ mention she got Nature's Own bread at her Dollar Tree.  So today, while nearby, I decided to stop in & check it out myself.

    Boy, am I glad I did!  They ended up having 100% whole wheat Nature's Own bread for a dollar!  The cheapest I've seen it at Walmart or Aldi is around a $ I went a little nuts & bought 8 loves.  I know it's excessive, but I have plenty of freezer space & JC goes through 3 pieces a day.  Additionally they had Kix!  For a dollar!  I haven't had Kix in ages, but it's a good alternative to Cheerios & way cheaper than even generic so I figured I'd stock up. 

    I also got the tiny blue trash can on the left for recycling items.  I figured after seeing how San Fransisco did things I should have a recycling bin next to every one of our trash cans as well.  At minimum, it will cut down on trips to our recycle bin in the kitchen.

    I also got the basics at Aldi & stocked up on containers of cream cheese for $0.89.  I rarely see cream cheese go under a dollar, so I'm hoping that (frozen) stockpile will last us for a very, very long while.  It was a pretty good week to stock up!

    Happy weekend!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Waste Management Inspiration in San Fran

    We went to San Fransisco for Thanksgiving to visit family.  While we had a wonderful time, I couldn't help but be impressed by the many options for waste management I saw around the city.

    At the Academy of Sciences they had these receptacles with recycle, compost, & landfill options.  Additionally the white labels have little pictures of what is appropriate to throw in each bin.  I also find the use of the word landfill far more effective than trash; it's a good reminder that everything thrown in that container will actually wind up in a landfill.   

    The bins at the San Fransisco airport were less thorough. but they still offered the options of composting & recycling at EVERY container, in addition to trash.

    If the city of San Fransisco is offering these options I certainly hope more cities will follow suit.  It also got me thinking about everything that I throw away, recycle, or could potentially compost & where it might actually end up.  Well done San Fran, well done. 

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Bargain Shopping at Victoria's Secret

    I admit that I feel a little funny airing my (new) undies out for the world, but I wanted to show a more specific example of how get free or nearly free underwear. Today, Victoria's Secret is offering a free pair of undies in honor of their fashion show, no purchase necessary.  It's the pink pair on the upper right, if you're interested simply print the coupon here

    In order to make my trip to the mall more worthwhile I decided to use the $10 off any PINK purchase that I got for being a PINK member.  I also used this coupon for a free pair of undies (valid through Dec 7) with any PINK purchase.  The clerk said as long as my original PINK purchase wasn't free after the $10 off coupon I could get the additional free undies. 

     I promptly found the black pair for $10.50, which qualified me for the free pair, so that brought my total for all 3 pairs for $0.55.    I'm not 100% sure that I'll be keeping all of these, but they'll make great stocking stuffers & are helpful as I prepare to size up during pregnancy.  Not too shabby at all!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    And Little Baby Is...


    A girl!  As the oldest of three girls I have to say that I am beyond thrilled to have two little lovelies.  I'm halfway to having a house full of Little Women!  Plus, my frugal heart jumped with glee at all the hand-me-downs & gender specific items that will get to reappear for round two.  Sisters!  I'm so excited! :)

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Function Over Fashion--Staying Warm During Winter

    I am generally freezing by nature.  We keep our thermostat at 68° in the winter (high, by some frugal standards), which means that frequently, when the sun goes down I'm cold.  While many, many frugal sites will just suggest layering I'm going to give you some practical & somewhat unfashionable specifics.

    Wear a scarf--It's doesn't have to be a fashion scarf, it could be some hideous hand knit monstrosity.  It doesn't matter, covering your neck can make such an immense difference.

    Poncho love--This warm & lovely blanket fashion statement is back in style.  Be still my beating heart.  Need I say more? 

    Tuck in that shirt-- Keeping your stomach protected from little drafts can make such a big difference.

    Invest in some slippers--Generally the thicker & more foot area covered the better. 

    Wear a hat--This makes my head itch, but if you're a hat lover, consider this as an option. 

    Bust out your bathrobe--I know a lot of people might this is bizarre, but I don't have a sweater that goes all the way down to my ankles & keeps me warm.  I do believe if I had a Snuggie perhaps I'd wear that around the house.  Anything in the name of warmth.

    Wrap up under blankets--We always sit with afghans while on the couch, but most nights, once Emerson goes to bed we head back to our bed & sit under the covers while reading, watching tv, or working.  I honestly think the only times when I'm warm in the winter are when I'm in our cozy bed.

    My philosophy in the winter is function, not fashion.  While I'm at home I don't care if I look like some sort of bag lady as long as I'm warm.  That's what home is for isn't it?

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Old Ink Cartridges Turned Cheap Toilet Paper

    A little while ago I found out about Office Depot's ink cartridge recycling rewards program & give it a shot.  Basically, for every ink cartridge you recycle per quarter Office Depot will rebate you with $2 of store credit.  There is a little bit of fine print:  you have to spend the equal amount that you will get back in rewards during that quarter, & they won't credit you unless you recycle at least $10 worth (5 cartridges) per quarter.  

    I recycled 6 cartridges for a credit of $12, but I had to spend at least $12 in order to get the rebate.  Make sense?  I decided to spend  $14.99 on 24 rolls of Office Depot's 100% recycled toilet paper.  

    At the end of the quarter I got my $12 rebate and went back and bought another pack for $14.99.  Grand total I spent  $17.98 OOP or $0.37/roll.  Most recycled TP goes for around $0.70/roll, so this is a really good deal.  Previously I have used my swagbucks to purchase some recycled TP, & we still have some, but this will help my swagbucks go towards cheaper items & it should help our grocery budget as well.  Plus, I'm getting paid to recycle!

    Whether you use/want the rewards, if you have old ink cartridges lying around, please look into recycling programs.  It's a great way to help the environment & potentially help your pocketbook as well. 

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Saturday Shopping

    Today we went shopping at Target for a few essentials.  We wanted to stock up on their pasta sauce that was on sale for $1 a jar (my stock up price), but I ended up splurging on a few things & finding some deals along the way.  Here's the breakdown:

    • Pasta Sauce--  $1 x 12 (not pictured)
    • Seattle's Best--On clearance from 9.39 to 4.68 - $2 coupon = $2.68/bag (Our Target no longer appears to be carrying Seattle's Best & is clearancing out the remainder of their stock, I got lucky enough to get their last 2 bags, so hurry & check your store too!)
    • Folgers--On sale for $8.99-$1 newspaper coupon= $7.99 (Now's the time of year for newspaper coupons so stock up!)
    • Schick Intuition (this was a major splurge, but it's my favorite razor & they rarely have coupons)--$9.79-$3 Facebook coupon=$6.79/pack (ouch!)
    • Tiny Bonz dog treats (Merry Christmas to all the dogs in my life!)--$2.99-$1 Target Coupon-$0.50 newspaper coupon= $1.49/bag
    • Forks (E's new fav)--$4.08-$1 magazine coupon=$3.08
    Grand total:  $54.24

    Not my most fabulous shopping trip, but we stocked up on some essentials & I shouldn't have to buy coffee, razors, vitamins, pasta sauce, & stain remover for the next six months to a year.  When I look at it that way it's not too shabby at all.  

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Halloween on a Budget

    I do realize that it is not halfway through November & Halloween has long since passed, but we've just finished celebrating it.  Poor Bug had a fever on Halloween night, so we had to wait until she was healthy & we were home from all of our out of state travels to partake in any festivities.

    We got Doodlebug's costume used at our local Growing Kid's Sale for $10.  It included the headband and some little shoe covers (not pictured), which was a pleasant bonus. I bought her little leggings for $1.08 after coupons at Kohls, & her Pooh bucket was an Easter gift from her grandma.  That brings the grand total for this ensemble to $11.08, which is cheaper than the $30+ Carters wanted for similar costumes. 

    I'm coming to the realization that I'm too cheap to spend $10+/ child once we have more than one, so perhaps I will try the homemade thing at that time.  For now, buying used & purchasing other items cheaply is working out just fine & looks pretty cute, if I do say so myself! 

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    My Life As A Lab Rat

    Not the brilliant rocket scientist type, the much less glamorous consumer test panel type.  A year ago I signed up to be a part of Johnson & Johnson's consumer test panel.  I've been selected for studies twice & I've found it to be a surprisingly fun way to try a new product & make some extra money. 

    E's test panel Johnson & Johnson Natural Body Wash
    My first test was actually on Emerson for Johnson & Johnson's Natural Baby Body Wash.  It was rather simple, they sent me was full sized bottle in the mail (score!), I used it on her 3 times in a week, took a brief survey on the product & we got paid $10 cash.  Piece of cake!

    More recently I was asked to try a dandruff shampoo for women (which ended up being an Aveeno dandruff shampoo).  They sent me a slightly smaller bottle, I used it 3 times, took the survey & made $20 cash.  And I got to pass the leftovers to my dad, who blessed me with that lovely little genetic quirk. 

    Currently Johnson & Johnson doesn't appear to have open enrollment, but they do have a study for dry shampoo that pays $50.  You have to be able to make it to their lab in New Jersey to test the product, but if you'd like the info leave a comment & I'll forward the email. 

    Loreal does have an open enrollment at the moment & you can qualify for their test panel by taking a short survey.  I haven't tested anything for them at this point, so if you have let me know how it went. 

    If you've never heard of consumer test panels, or haven't tried them they're worth a shot.  I probably only get selected once every 6 months, but it's minimal effort for some bonus cash & toiletries. And who doesn't like that?

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    How to Recycle Anything

    My friend Hillary sent me a link to Real Simple's (LOVE Real Simple) list of how to recycle anything.  It is a huge comprehensive list & extremely helpful to any recycler. Check it out here.  

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Let's Go To The Mall (with Robin Sparkles!)

    I'm not much of a mall person.  In general, nothing gets me crankier quicker than to go shopping for "pleasure."  However, today we needed to get our oil changed & tires rotated, so to the mall we went & I was on a mission to get some freebies!

    Free Victoria's Secret Undies (2 from previous trips) & a NARS sample

    Our first stop was to JC Penney's Sephora to get a FREE Nars eyeshadowy something or other.  I'd post a link, but the sales associates were a little hesitant to give me the sample because they weren't sure they could give them to customers who had simply googled the coupon online or if it was exclusively for JC Penney cardholders.  Despite being made to feel like I was a thief, they gave me the sample anyway, which will make a lovely stocking stuffer for one of my sisters.

    Then on to Victoria's Secret where I redeemed a coupon for a free pair of undies. I belong to the online club Pink Nation & about once a year I request a catalogue & as a result I get bi-monthly coupons for FREE undies.  I haven't had to purchase undies in years & am ever so thankful to Victoria's Secret for the freebies.

    Lastly we got take out at our local burrito place using a groupon type coupon from the local paper.  We got $15 worth of food for $5 & I brought our own take out containers to cut down the waste.  It was cheap & delicious.   

    All & all it was a great day of shopping & our car is now ready for our next roadtrip.  Not a bad way to waste time while getting an oil change. 

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Kashi Peanutty Dark Chocolate Granola Bar Review

    When I was given the opportunity by Mom's Meet to review Kashi's Peanutty Dark Chocolate granola bar I was thrilled.  I love Kashi & all of their products so I figured I was sure to love this too.  I did & Emerson  also LOVES them!  They're her first experience with chocolate & peanuts, so I wasn't sure what she'd think, but she'd eat them every day if I let her. 

    E giving her very best pose while eating a graonla bar

    While the granola bars are sweet, they're relatively low in sugar, made without high fructose corn syrup, have 7 whole grains, and packed with protein & fiber!  It's nice to have a convenient snack that doesn't make me feel guilty & they're the perfect snack for grocery shopping or while taking a long road trip.

    They retail for $3.89/box nationwide, which I have to admit is a little high for my budget.  While they are delicious, unless I can combine a coupon & a sale & get them for $1 or less, I probably won't be buying them.  Doesn't make them not delicious, just makes them a little pricy for my blood.  Just sayin'.

    **I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet SM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet SM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    A Peek At My Frugal Bathroom

    Once upon a time I shared a peek at my frugal shower, and I wanted to share other aspects to my frugal/green bathroom.

    I've got a crowded toilet tank--Adding items to your toilet tank displaces water when your toilet fills, resulting in less water used per flush.  We already have a low flow toilet, but I have added a 1 liter bottle, a brick, & a hang it & save pouch my mom gave me from Scott toilet paper.  Even if you only tried one of these items, you would be saving water & money, while getting the same necessary flush.

    I don't buy air freshener--I know a lot of uber green people suggest not using air freshener at all, but it's better for my marriage if some smells are covered up. ;)  Instead of buying aerosol cans of air freshener or matches, I've begun using my unused body splash.  It only requires one spritz, so it last a long time, & I'm using up stuff that has just been sitting around.  Win, win. 

    I've minimized the cost of paper products--I've started using my Swagbucks to purchase toilet paper made from recycled paper.  It's great for the environment & because I'm using my swagbucks, it's a help to our budget.  Additionally, I use hankies when I'm at home instead of Kleenex & have cut my consumption entirely.  I've had that little sample box of kleenex in my bathroom for months & I've yet to use a single tissue.  I still have to keep some on hand because JC uses at least a box per cold, but at least I've cut down on my usage.

    I'm always trying to find more ways to cut down on our budget & footprint, & I'm finding the more I think about it the more ideas I come up with.  I just don't know that I'll be buying a composting toilet any time soon...

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Make It Do: Backseat Car Organizer

    Organizer for $11.99

    I suffer from insomnia quite often.  It's absolutely obnoxious, but it is also a time in which inspiration usually strikes.  Last night when I couldn't sleep I got to thinking about our upcoming travels & how nice it would be to have some sort of an organizer in the car.  Then I got to thinking about a roll up travel case my OBGYN gave me & figured I could use it for that purpose. 

    The top zippered portion has grocery bags & paper napkins.  (They're napkins leftover from our wedding 3 1/2 year ago--the last time we bought paper napkins!  haha)

    The mesh portion has hand sanitizing wipes & Kleenex (from a sample, naturally).  

    The bottom zippered portion has hand towels & extra bibs. 

    All & all I think it should work nicely hanging in the car.  Not too bad for free. 

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    You Can't Take It With You

    So my uncle died.  We've been expecting it (he had terminal cancer) the future...and it just happened, quite suddenly.  It's one of those things where I felt relief that he's no longer suffering, but selfishly heartbroken. 

    When it came to thinking of what to write about my uncle Ron, the most impressive thing I could think was that he lived a very simple life.  He was a man of immense faith, was very generous, & always believed that God would provide for him.  He didn't worry about or attempt to acquire many possessions.  He was just happy with what he had.  As long as he was surrounded by people he loved, telling long winded stories, he was content. 

    More than anything I find my uncle's contentment inspiring.  I tend to obsess about things & worry instead of taking a moment to have the faith that it will all work out as it's meant to.  I need to remind myself that he died without much to his name & was one of that happiest people I ever knew.  And that, is a life lesson I could certainly benefit from learning. 

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    A Lazy Girl's Price Book

    Every book I've read about cutting your grocery budget suggests keeping a price book.  A price book is comprised of every item you purchase & the rock bottom price in which that item is sold.  In order to get the bottom price you must write down the weekly prices of every item until you are able to assess how cheaply that item is sold. 

    It seems totally logical & it also seems like a ton of work.   I am frugal, but I am also lazy.  After several efforts to compile a price book I've given up & have been using Aldi prices as my bottom price; if it's cheaper than Aldi's regular prices, I know it's a good deal, etc.

    Then both MoneySavingMom & KrazyCouponLady released their versions of a price book.  The KCL price list is much more expansive, so after printing both lists I compiled them into one giant price book--much, much easier than writing down weekly prices.  While I am in no way as savvy as the women of either of these websites, I figure if my price is somewhere between theirs & Aldi's I've found a bargain. 

    I'm going to use this list as motivation & hope that someday I'll be able to match their prices.  But for now, I have never seen tuna for free, no matter how much I wish it were possible. 

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Ways to Make E-Couponing More Cost Effective

    E-Couponing doesn't require the purchasing of newspapers & there are thousands of coupons available at your fingertips.  Sites like,, & others readily offer free coupons with just the touch of a button.  While I love finding coupons online I've found e-couponing can sometimes be an extremely wasteful way to get coupons.  Here are a few tricks I've learned to cut down on my waste.

    Re-Use Paper--Save printer paper from school, the office, or assorted newsletters & print on the back side.  I never pay for the paper I print coupons with & it's a great recycling technique.  Win for the environment & my wallet.

    Adjust Your Printer Settings--I print my coupons in draft mode & in grayscale.  It helps my ink last a lot longer & I've never had a coupon that didn't scan.

    Print What You'll Use--Resist the temptation to print coupons haphazardly unless you are totally brand loyal & don't care about getting bottom price.  Instead use websites like or to find weekly store specific deals & links to e-coupons to maximize savings.  I've found if I look at sales & THEN print my coupons I rarely end up having them expire.

    Look Before You Shop-- If you are brand dependent & want something specific, take a second to look at the manufacturer's website.  The majority of the time I end up finding a coupon & I've found this to be a worthwhile effort. 

    Hit The Back Button--Many coupon printers will allow you to print two coupons if you hit the back button on your browser.  If you're taking the time to print the coupon it's worth the effort to see if you can get an additional coupon for your trouble.

    Turn the Page Around--Before you hit the back button, turn the paper around so the coupon prints on the blank bottom half.  Just another way to save paper.   

    Get rewarded for using coupons-- If you use Swagbucks print coupons for their website.  They're identical to & once redeemed each coupon is worth 10 swagbucks!

    E-couponing can be a great way to save money & I've found I can make my money go even further by being careful how I use them. 

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    DIY Pregnancy Belly Band

    I'm in that fun stage of pregnancy where I can't zip up my regular jeans, but I'm too small for maternity pants.  When I was pregnant with Emerson I bought a belly band--a sort of tube top to keep your pants up.  The only problem is it cost $17, I didn't use it for very long, & now I seem to have misplaced mine.  Rather than go out & purchase another one I figured I could make my own.

    Simply take a pair of old pantyhose & cut off both legs. 

    Then cut across the crotch until you have a sort of tube top left.   Slide over the top of your unbuttoned pants.  

    Now you see it...

     Now you don't!  Piece of cake & a huge money saver.  Why didn't I think of this earlier?!