Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recycled Alphabet Magnets

I'm a huge recycler, even if that means I can't throw everything in my recycle bin.  Recently I discovered that I couldn't recycle lids in my area.  It has been killing me to think of throwing them away, so I have been trying to come up with some practical way to reuse them in our home.  Then the other day, while surfing on Amazon for alphabet letter magnets it hit me-- I could make magnets out of my milk lids!

Per my usual crafting I tried to use things on hand (why spend money if you can use stuff that's free), but this is just a loose idea of what you could use.  Adjust as you'd like.

  • assorted milk/juice lids
  • magnets (I used magnets from old magnetic notepads)
  • scrapbook paper
  • letter stickers or a marker
  • glue


1.  Trace the milk lid to create a pattern for your paper.


2.  Adhere letter sticker.  I bought mine from Walmart two years ago & am unsure if they're still available.  You could also draw your own letters or print pretty letters from the internet.   These could also hold little pictures & other assorted lovelies.  Get as creative as you'd like!

3.  Glue down the paper inside the lid. I used hot glue.  (On a side note because we don't buy paper plates I use my left over vegetable trays from Aldi as a glue catcher.  Just another way to try & re-purpose.)

4.  Adhere the magnet on the back.  I tried hot glue but that didn't hold permanently; however super glue worked.  Let me know if another kind of glue works for you. 
5.  Stick to magnetic surface & let the learning & play begin!

So far I only have A-E, but we're almost to the end of two other gallons of milk.  Here comes F & maybe G to meet you at  the top of the coconut tree!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers...

I had grand plans for my garden this year.  Unfortunately, due to poor planning, most of my little seedlings did not survive transplant into the garden.  Those that did make it have burnt up in the heat & are unlikely to produce any food.  Without being able to grow my own food I've had to come up with a Plan B:  Buy produce at the peak of the season, as cheaply as possible, & freeze it.

Enter last week's Aldi specials; a 3 pack of green peppers for $0.99 & a bag of vidalia onions for $0.99.  Of course as absent minded as I am, I forgot to go to the store until an hour before close Tuesday evening.  I was quite distraught & assumed it was unlikely they would have any sale produce left, but I figured it was worth a shot.  To my surprise, not only did they have a fecundity, they had it marked down!  Peppers for $0.69 & bags of onions for $0.39.  

I promptly bought 7 packs of peppers (21 total) & 3 bags of onions & went to slicing & dicing (while reciting Mother Goose, naturally).  My plan was simple:  prepare the peppers and onion into dinner size portions, so all I have to do is throw it in the skillet when I want to make fajitas, omelets, stir-fry, what have you.  After several nights of reciting Peter Piper I ended up with 9 bags of fajita type mix & 5 diced bags of peppers & onions for fritattas.  I'm hoping that will last us well into the winter & hopefully to the spring.  All for only $6!

I'm hoping to do the same with strawberries & other produce as it goes on sale.  The main component to this plan it to get premium nutrition for minimal cost, but we shall see how it works.  Ask me in February...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Baby On a Budget: Clothing Edition

Every year there are statistics released stating the cost of raising a child.  Every year the cost grows.  Once we found out I was expecting I made it my personal goal to bust the myth that raising a baby is expensive.  To my understanding children become more expensive the older they become, so while E is little I am actively trying to spend as little as possible.  Because hind sight is 20/20, here is everything I would have told my newly pregnant self about clothing my wee one. 

E in a hand-me-down outfit
 Try to Wait To Purchase--Teeny tiny baby outfits are so unbelievably tempting to purchase that it is very difficult not to rush out & buy a ton as soon as your stick says pregnant.  They also seem to be something that loved ones like to give as gifts.  Even if you don't have a shower, you may receive more gifts or hand-me-downs than you anticipated, so TRY to wait to buy clothing.  In our experience we had more clothes than Emerson could ever wear for the first six months of her life.  If you are tempted to purchase clothing ahead, purchase for later months, as people tend to give clothes for infancy.

Garage Sale Baby Gap Outfit for $
Don't Hesitate To Buy Used--Children grow so unbelievably quickly in their first year of life that many of their clothes are only worn a handful of times before they outgrow them.  Used clothes are often found in a like new state, & are a fraction of the price.  The best deals can be found at yard sales, but don't discount Goodwill or other thrift stores.  Just makes sure to look for stains around the neck & crotches of items.  Added bonus:  Buying used is good for the environment too! 

Clearance Dress from Once Upon a Child & shoe socks bought for free with Kohl's $10 off coupon
Hold Off On Shoes--It is so tempting to buy tiny little shoes for your child, but in my experience most of the more fashionable shoes wouldn't even stay on E's feet.  Aside from warmth in the winter & support once children are walking, going barefoot is often recommended by pediatricians.  I did splurge (with a coupon) & bought some shoe socks, which were quite fetching & did the job well. 

Don't Fall For the Cute Factor-- Babies don't need complete adult like outfits.  This concept has been introduced in the last 20 years or so.  It is perfectly acceptable, & probably more comfortable for the child, to keep your baby in sleepers & onesies.   You can save cute outfits for outings & church, etc, but around the house, a sleeper or onesie is certainly sufficient. 

Think Outside the Pajama Box--You do not necessarily need to purchase pajamas for your baby.  In summer months E either sleeps in a onesie or a tshirt.  In the winter we used sweats in addition to pajamas.  If you can find a cheaper deal on sweats by all means, use those in the winter.  In the summer, don't waste your money on pajamas at all.  Bedtime is a perfect time to put your child in weirdo hand-me-down tshirts, stained long sleeved cotton shirts, &  well worn sweats.  You're going for comfort, not beauty.  

E  & her Uncle Ron showing off her Carter's Sunsuit bought for free with clearance & a Kohl's $10 off coupon
Buy A One Piece--If you do purchase clothing for your child, look for a one piece outfit.  Sunsuits, creepers, or dresses are cheaper than buying a top & a bottom; especially before your child is ready to be potty trained.  For girls who are ready to be potty trained, you can still save money by purchasing dresses. 
Clearanced Children's Place winter coat bought the season before for $10
Start a Clothing Stockpile--Shop clearance 12 months ahead.  At the end of winter look for clearanced coats & thick pajamas.  Buy shopping ahead I have gotten some great deals & have also saved a lot of money.  Last year I found a swimsuit for this summer, as well as the next, on clearance at Target.  Both were less than $2 new.  Waiting till the end of the season is a great way to buy new.

Forget About Clothing Sizes--Keep your child in an article of clothing as long as it fits.  Certain articles of clothing will fit much longer than they are sized.  For instance, long tunic type tops can be used as regular tshirts a year later, or dresses can be used as tunics over leggings.  Also look for bottoms with adjustable waist bands.  These can be tightened & worn months before they are sized & let out as the child grows. You can always roll up pant legs as well.  
Summer dress & Hand-me-down turtle neck for fall
Look for Items That Will Stretch Your Child's Wardrobe--Once winter comes, look for turtle necks & cardigans that can be used in conjunction with warmer weather clothes.  E wore many of her summer dresses well into winter with either a turtleneck or cardigan or both.

Stay In the Baby Section As Long As Possible--Once your child is becoming a toddler it is tempting to purchase 2T clothes.  Try to buy 24 months instead.  While 24 month clothes are cut to be more roomy to accommodate diapers, their advantage is they're still sold with baby clothing & tend to be less expensive than clothes in toddler sizes.  

Bottom line--you do not need to spend a lot of money to dress your child.  Clothes get more expensive the older your child becomes, so take advantage of your child's youth & save yourself a little money. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Forgive Me While I Stand On My Soap Box...

Just a beautifully meaningful video today. 

Go here to sign the petition.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

There & Back Again...A Cable Tale

My little tv-head in the making
I have had an addiction to television from an extremely young age.  My mom always said that even in infancy if I could have crawled into the tv I would have.  My childhood love affair was certainly strengthened my freshman year of high school when I had such a severe case of  mono that all I could do was lie on the couch for three weeks.  Fast forward a few years to college, once I was out on my own the first thing to go was cable.  I couldn't afford it.  I couldn't afford food.  I was broke. 

Then I met my handsome future husband.  He had cable.  And heat. And food.  I was hooked (well, he was fabulous too, I guess).  We'd spend hours snuggled up in front of the boob tube.  We had Alfred Hitchcock marathons, we always watched all the Godfathers every Christmas, and all of the my beloved Lord of the Rings movies AT LEAST once a year.  It was bliss.  Mind numbing, time wasting bliss.

Once we got married, it was a no brainer that we would continue on that path.  Watching tv, watching cable, spending hours of our lives on the couch.  It took moving to Arkansas & a regional cable price increase of $50  for us to re-evaluate our cable choice.  We kept cable for the majority of the first year we lived here, but shortly before we had E, & I quit work we gave cable the heave ho.

Truth be told I missed it.  It was like giving up caffeine; I was addicted.   We tried to get the convertor box & antennas to work, but they only picked up channels like Arkansas Reading for the Blind (a black screen with a voice, reading) so we eventually gave up & just lived with nothing.We went without cable from February to October last year & once I got used to not having cable I found myself not really missing it.  I had more time.  We listened to the radio, went on walks, & supplemented tv with Hulu, Redbox, & Netflix.  

Once my father in law came to visit he was worried we didn't have cable & offered to get us a minimum package as a Christmas present.  We agreed, dropped our Netflix subscription, & had all of the local channels, the home shopping channels (why or why?), TBS, CMT, the speed channel, & the outdoor channel for $15 a month.  Admittedly it was nice during storm season to be able to turn on the tv & see live doppler, but my addiction rapidly grew over the year, & I found myself being sucked back in.

Now that it's summer & most of our regular shows aren't on we started Netflix again.  I also realized that our "cable" has gone up to $20, which seems obnoxiously high for the handful of channels that we actually watch.  I'm thinking of pulling the plug again, but I feel conflicted about it.  I really like reading more, getting outside, & actually being forced to keep up on chores out of boredom, but if we cut our cable that means no tv.  Not even Sesame Street.  I don't know what E would do without her daily fix, but I'm not so sure I want her addicted like her mama either. 

It's just so dang hard to give up on that addiction...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Frugal Experiments

I suppose I just miss chemistry class, but I truly enjoy experimenting around the house. I'm always trying to find a greener & cheaper way of doing things I already do.  Here are a few of my latest efforts:

Recycling Pickle Juice-- I have read in both the Tightwad Gazette & other frugal websites that by taking the pickle juice of store bought pickles & adding a new cucumber you can create your own pickles.  So when I ran out of Vlasic pickles (my favorite non-store brand pickles) I figured I should try it out. 

I promptly bought 2 pickling cucumbers, sliced them up, submerged them in the juice, & left the on the counter to pickle.

I think I waited around a week & a half before I opened the jar, but as soon as I opened the lid I could tell something was...off.  The juice was carbonated & it smelled like pickles & beer.  Never being one to shy away from such things I pushed through the strange smell & tried a pickle.  It was rather firm, rather carbonated, & didn't really taste much like any pickle I've ever had.  I'm not sure if the pickling time was a factor or what, but for me, this was a major Frugal Fail. 

Spaghetti for a candle lighter--For most candles, once they burn down  you have to use one of those long butane lighters, which are expensive, & to my knowledge, not recyclable.  To cut down on the waste try using a piece of spaghetti. 

Simply light the end of the spaghetti & then use it to reach down to your low laying wick.  After you've extinguished the flame simply snap off the end, throw out the ash, & save the piece of spaghetti for the next time you need to light a candle.  I love using this method & haven't bought one of those long lighters in years.  I will say that my sisters don't like this method because they don't like the smell of the burnt spaghetti.  Try it once & find out for yourself.  The smell doesn't really bother me & goes away quickly, so for me, this is the way to go.

Conditioner for shaving cream--I use my razor blades forever.  They have to be dull as dirt & rusty before I'll change them out.  That being said, after a while I need a little something on my legs to lessen the feeling of my skin being pulled off as I shave.  I've heard the suggestion of using conditioner as a shave cream for many years now, but I've never been in a position where I felt it would be financially worth my while, seeing as how I have always seemed to have a stockpile of nearly free shaving cream. 

That was until I pulled out my last can of shaving cream & realized I had a whole lot of conditioner & not a lot of shaving cream, so I figured what the heck, I'd try it.  It actually works REALLY well.  Like, amazingly well.  Like, I may never ever buy shaving cream again well.  It sticks to your skin better than shaving cream, doesn't dissolve as quickly in water, you don't have to use very much (a dime size/ half a leg), & it's a great way to use up hotel conditioner that doesn't really do it for your hair. 

I'm not sure what the financial breakdown between using shaving cream & conditioner would be, especially because I haven't spent much money on either for years, but, if you happen to have a large stockpile of unused conditioner this is a great & cheap way to shave.

Even if you just try one of these things they'll save you some cash & trash.  Any of you lovely readers have any other great frugal/green tips to share? 

Making The Most Of Store Coupons

A week ago we received a $10 off any purchase of $10 or more coupon to JC Penney's.  I have to say that these type of coupons are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE COUPON OF ALL TIME!  EVER.  SERIOUSLY.  Last year I was lucky enough to get the same type of coupon to Kohl's once a month for 6 months.  With that free $60 I got enough clothes to clothe Little E for entirety of this summer.  For FREE.

Stores put out these types of coupons in hopes to a) get you to set foot in their store, & b) that you'll spend a whole lot more than the $10 offered in the coupons.  I look at it as the store paying me $10 to take home something, in the hopes that I'll be a repeat customer.   The majority of the time it does make me think more favorably of the store, but I rarely spend over $10.  Here's how...

1.  I shop clearance & stock up for the upcoming year.  Right now stores are trying to clearance out their spring & early summer items, so I looked for next summer.  By shopping clearance I am able to start my clothing stockpile for next year &  I make those free dollars go further.

2.  I ALWAYS make sure to get 100% of my free money, but I try not to go over the coupon value more than a dollar or so.  It is only logical to try to get the most for your money, whether that is money from your wallet, or money from a coupon, so take advantage.  Shop wisely though.  This is where you can get into trouble; give yourself a limit of spending X amount over the coupon & stick to it.

3.  Look for any other store coupons to maximize the trip.  On this particular trip I knew there was a coupon for a free moisturizer at the Sephora in Penney's.  I brought both to save an extra trip & save on unnecessary fossil fuels. 

Our grand total was a whopping $0.42, but to my mind the best part is that we "saved" $23.61 (not including the value of the sample).  I know I'm not the type of consumer JC Penney was hoping for when they sent out that coupon, but hey, it's all a part of being  the Green Goddess.  And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

My 1st Attempt at DIY

We're not huge DIY people.  I think that's mostly because we rented when we were first married, and by the time we actually bought a house I was pregnant, & then we had newborn, and well, you get the idea.  I think we also know that this probably won't be our forever house, so we don't really want to do anything too crazy for fear of not getting the return on our investment.
Toile nightmare, complete with the old owner's accessories. 
The one exception to this has been the nightmare that is our toile wallpaper foyer & dining room.  Can I say YUCK?!  Seriously, I have no idea how the old owner of our house could put that busy, weirdo wallpaper up & think it's cute.  From the moment we looked at this house I've hated it.   HATE.  So when my good friend Kayla visited & volunteered to help me remove it I was BEYOND stoked.

Kayla hard at work
To save money I used leftover paint & primer from the old owners, as well as painters tape I won  from a blog.  We did have to spend $50 on wallpaper removing accoutrements & enough painting supplies, but we got enough for several projects.  We scored the wallpaper with a $10 tool & then soaked it with hot water & fabric softener (samples of course).  We then peeled & removed the paper, but unfortunately my over zealous spritzing got the best of me & I also loosened the paint underneath the paper.

That then caused us to have to patch & prime the wall before we could paint.  Once that was finally done we admired our work & I think it came out pretty great for our first effort.  It's not perfect, but it sure looks better than that hideous wallpaper.  Nothing like a little sweat equity to bring friends closer together. 

Now if only I could tackle that dining room... Volunteers?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cheap Entertainment: Toddler Activity Bucket

I firmly believe that the cornerstone to frugal living  is being prepared.  Instead of thinking about the next month, I'm always trying to gather the things we will need for the next year or more.  I have found over time that if I plan ahead & stay organized I'm able to get the exact things I need for my life at minimal cost.

One of the things I've been trying to prepare for is Little E's move into the arts & crafts stage of life.  I've slowly been gathering supplies & hanging on to things that I probably otherwise would have recycled.

While saving is definitely a component in planning ahead, I find that it's a slippery slope into horderville, so I always try to have a container to limit any collection.  That being said, last Valentine's Day, my sweet father in law sent us popcorn in this adorable monkey tin.  I figured it would be absolutely perfect for gathering E's future art supplies. 

I went through my old teaching supply & found markers, chalk, and many many stickers.  I also found cardboard tubes, crayons, balloons, as well as letter shaped cookie cutters from E's Nana.
I even saved unused brushes from my fluoride for future paint brushes.    

 I've also been saving every single sticker I can get my hands on from the moment I got pregnant.  I knew that if my child had ANY of my genetic predispositions she'd love stickers too.  When I was a kid I didn't care what the sticker said, or if it was even cool, I LOVED it.  So I've been saving stickers from samples, the ends of panels of stamps, even the junk mail stickers.  If it sticks, I'll keep it.
I learned pretty early on as a camp counselor that kids are creative enough to take any regular household thing & make it into treasure. It's just a matter of making sure you have the supplies on hand, & that you have the creativity to see things through the eyes of a child.  Well that and limiting your collection to a bucket!  :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rebate How To

In the past year I've gotten into the habit of sending away for rebates on products.  A rebate is an offer the company uses to hook you in to buying their product, but they pray desperately that you won't send away for your money.   I quite enjoy the process & it's just another reason why I love mail time, but there is a certain amount of effort needed.

Here are a few tips I've learned...

Getting Started:
  • Keep an eye out for rebates--Most of the time I find rebates with the Sunday coupons or on the product I'm buying.  I used to just pass them over, but now I take the time to actually fill out the paperwork & it's fabulous to get your money back!
  • Search your favorite manufacturer's website for a rebate offer or money back guarantee.  For instance when E was first born we used Luv's diapers once.  They had a leak proof guarantee, and they indeed leaked poop EVERYWHERE.  I immediately sent away for the guarantee & was happily refunded my money.  
  •  Realize that even if a rebate is to try something for free it's not free.  You'll still have to provide the stamp & pay the sales tax on the item purchased.  If it's worth it to you to spend $0.44+ tax then I say go for it!
Get That Money Honey:
  • When shopping, have your rebate item rung up separately so you can send the receipt without ever needing it again.   
  • Once home, prepare your rebate.  Do not wait, do not pass go.  Seriously, think about it as a game.  If you don't do this immediately & forget entirely, the manufacturer will win.  You want to collect your $200.   
  • CAREFULLY read the rebate instructions, I cannot stress this enough.  A lot of rebates will completely ignore your request unless EVERYTHING is there.  You want your money, so make sure to include all that they're requiring.  Most ask for the rebate form, your receipt with the price of the item circled, & a proof of purchase (UPC).  I recently bought a buy one, get one free after rebate item.  I unwittingly forgot to include both UPCs.  Fortunately the manufacturer contacted me, but it cost me another stamp.  Mistakes will cost you, so pay attention.
  • Don't use your best stationery; it doesn't have to be cute, it just has to get there.  I use rescued birthday card envelopes, envelopes that once had a label on them that I've peeled off.   Envelopes that are stained, crunched, or just otherwise in bad shape...you get the idea.  The point is to get it to the manufacturer in one piece as cheaply as possible, and if you don't spend money on the envelope that's a few more pennies in your wallet. 
  • Keep track of the rebates you have sent & the approximate time it will take them to send your money.  Only once have I not received my rebate, but it took me pestering the manufacturer before they finally sent me my check.  Always try to remember that information, because you definitely want to get your rebate.
  • Some serious rebaters suggest keeping a copy of the receipt & UPC for your records.  I've never done that, but I've also never had a problem.  If you feel it's worth the effort to protect yourself then more power to you.

  • Once you get your check cash it.  IMMEDIATELY.  Most rebate checks are void after 60-90 days, their one last hope of you not taking that rebate cash, so when you get that check run to the bank.

Just be sure to pass go & collect your $200 on the way...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Berry Picking We Go...

Last year we went berry picking as a family for the first time.  It was amazing, hot, & Little E got her first ever bug bite.  All & all it was an experience I couldn't wait to repeat.  So when we were looking for things to do last weekend, schlepping over to Oklahoma to go blueberry & blackberry picking was at the top of my list.

We brought our collapsible wagon & I jerry-rigged an umbrella shade secured with twist ties & safety pins to provide shade for E...classy, I know.  I also came equipped with a basket of toys & LOTS of water.  


The toys were great entertainment for around a half hour, but once E got completely overheated I needed a little help from our secret weapon:  a Sesame Street DVD & our portable DVD player.  I really hate the idea of Emerson being 'plugged in' but at the sake of getting her fresh, hand picked local produce I'll make an exception.

We made quite the haul in our one hour of dedicated picking:  We kept a quart of black berries & a quart of blueberries to eat fresh & I've frozen 3 more quarts.  And all this fabulous experience cost us was $9 for the fruit & probably $1 for gas.  A bargain at best. 

We've really been enjoying our buh buhs as E calls them, & I'm hoping we can make it back one more time this summer.  That is if we ever happen to be back in the low 90s again.  Here's hoping...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Shopping Trip

This past weekend I made one last shopping trip for the month.  My main goal was to cover the holes left by my previous shopping trip & to use the remainder of my coupons.  Here's the break down...

  • Kellogg's Mini Wheats--$3.28 minus rebate on box-->FREE after rebate
  • Finesse--$2.86 minus $1 newspaper coupon & $2 newspaper rebate-->FREE + $0.14 after rebate
  • Reese's Mini (Father's Day junk food splurge)--$2.68 each minus 2 x $2 newspaper coupons--> $0.68 each
  • Creamer--3 @ $1.88 minus 3 x $0.55 coupons from Vocalpoint --> $1.33 each **This is 8 cents more than what I paid earlier in the week, but I figured it wasn't worth the extra gas to try to save 24 cents.
  • V8 Juice--2 @ $1.98 minus $1 newspaper coupon-->$1.48 each
  • Suave Professionals--2 @ $2.74 minus 2 free product facebook coupons-->FREE!
  • Pads:  (TMI Time: After having E I didn't have enough samples & ended up running out & having to pay...horror of horrors...FULL RETAIL.  Even though I don't have a bun in my oven, I am STOCKING UP on anything under $0.75 for any potential bambinos.) 
    • Tena $2.86 minus $2 coupon from a sample --> $0.68 
    • Carefree $0.94 each minus two free products from newspaper --> FREE! 
  • Cheese-- 2 @ $2.48 minus one free product coupon & one $1 off coupon from Kraft First Taste-->$0.74 each
  • Candle--$2.98 minus one free product coupon from Glade's facebook-->  FREE!
  • Cottonelle Tubs-- 2 @ $2.74 minus 2 free product coupons from their Get Fresh with a Friend campaign-->FREE!  *I'm saving these for potty training as those Kandoo wipes are OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive.  
  • Ham Sandwich--$3 minus one free product coupon from Kraft First Taste-->FREE lunch for my handsome husband!
  • Bananas--$0.94 my only purchase without a coupon

Grand Total:  $45.68 worth of products for $9.45 after coupons & rebates!  Woot Woot!  Here's hoping I can keep up this kind of couponing success!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

25 New Gardening Uses for Old Things

I ADORE Real Simple magazine.  They have all sorts of amazing ideas, so when I came across this list of 25 New Gardening Uses for Old Things I just had to share.  The list is especially impressive to me because I have only ever heard of one of the ideas...and that's really saying something.  It's compilation of ways to reuse common household items in the garden.  Gardening & recycling.  What's not to like?  Ch-ch-ch-check it out!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We've certainly been enjoying summer here.  I'm one for heat heat & more heat, so I don't mind our near 100 degree weather.  

We've pulled out the kiddie pool, Little E's one true love...well that & Mardi Gras beads. 

And we've begun to eat the delights of the season.  Joy.  Bliss.  Happiness.

Summertime is just sooo delicious.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cheapskate Grocery Shopping

I'm not a fabulous couponer.  I don't have a price book & in general I'm relatively sure I'm not the most frugal shopper around.  I do 90% of my grocery shopping once a month at Aldi.  I've found the more I go to stores, the more I spend, so I try to do one major haul at the beginning of the month & then only get necessities (milk & produce) as the month progresses.  I shop at Aldi because they seem to always have the best bottom line prices, & they have an amazing money back guarantee, so if something spoils or the like, I just take my item back & get a replacement & my money back.  If you haven't tried them you'll save a ton, I promise.

Because I find Aldi so cheap, I use their prices as my bottom price, so if I can get something with coupons cheaper than what I'd pay at Aldi, I buy it.   I really find our local chain of grocery stores infuriating (in lack of options, price, & coupon acceptance) but they do double coupons.  Today I decided to experiment & see what I could get at said obnoxiously infuriating local store..

I bought $30 worth of groceries for....$9.95.  Here's how I did it:
  • Sweet Potato Fries $2.98--Free after Ore-Ida facebook coupon (no longer avaliable)
  • Brownies (Yum!) $2.22--Minus $0.50 coupon doubled--Final Price $1.22-->Oh the hubs is happy!  :)
  • Provolone $2.99--Minus $1 newspaper coupon--Final Price $1.99 -->Not a fabulous deal on cheese, but I needed it
  • Sunchips  $3.79--Free after Frito Lay facebook coupon (no longer available)-->I'm WAYYYYY too cheap to buy these, so this coupon is aMAYzing!
  • 2 Boxes of Mini Wheats 2 @ $3.28--Minus BOGO Free coupon & 2 $1.00 coupons from Vocalpoint making these only $0.64 a box. -->This is a huge deal because we've just run out of my free Kashi, so I'm glad to have another deal. Plus, they currently have a promotion for you can try the cereal for free after rebate, so I think I'm going to get another box.
  • Coffee Creamer $4.70 for 2--Minus 2 Vocalpoint $0.55 coupons doubled--Final Price $1.25 each  --> I don't think this is a great deal, so I'll find out more tomorrow when I finish shopping.  The store would only take 2 coupons for the same item per each transaction, so I'm going to have to finish shopping at Wal-Mart tomorrow.  Grrr...
  • V8 $2.29--Minus $0.50 newspaper coupon doubled--Final Price $1.29 which is cheaper than Aldi tomato juice & I'd rather have veg juice for my chili anyway.
  • Pasta $1.19-- Minus $0.40 newspaper coupon doubled--Final Price $0.39
Not too shabby, but I'm really hoping to finish using all of my coupons tomorrow to get more great deals for the month.   Stay tuned...

*For those of you interested in free samples & high value coupons sign up for Vocalpoint.  It takes a little while to start receiving samples, but once you do they are always accompanied with amazing coupons so you can get really great deals. 

**Also, if you want to try new products & get coupons for FREE food sign up for Kraft First Taste.  Kraft will send you a coupon for you to try their new product & then let them know what you think about it.  I tend to get a coupon once a month & occasionally it's for things I wouldn't buy, but it's a nice treat & it can definitely help my budget.  In the past two months I've gotten coupons for a free package of cheese & free lunch meat for JC.  And you know FREE is my favorite word!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

I've been making homemade laundry soap for the past year or so & I'm not looking back.  It's so cheap & environmentally friendly that I'm relatively certain I will be making it for the rest of my days.  The only problem is the liquid version is a tad time consuming to make & it definitely takes up storage space.  As I have neared the end of my liquid supply I figured now was the time to take the plunge to powder.

The recipe is basically the same as the traditional homemade laundry soap, it just eliminates the unnecessary water & the energy needed to melt the soap (yeah to saving water & energy!).  The recipe is simply:
Chop or grate your soap as finely as possible--you want it to blend well with the other ingredients.  Measure your borax & washing soda.  Combine as thoroughly as possible, store in recycled spaghetti sauce jars, & there you have it, you've made laundry soap!  Piece of cake.

For regular washing machines you will use 2 tablespoons per load, while HE washers will use 1 tablespoon.  This detergent is chlorine & phosphate free, so it is eco-friendly, and borax & washing soda can be bought for under $6 combined (depending on your area).  I have no idea how long one batch will last, but the liquid would last our family around 6 months in an HE washer, so it is well worth the minimal effort.

Combine your homemade detergent with a splash of white vinegar for a fabric softener & you've got a cheap & extremely environmentally friendly wash routine.  Just remember to let the sunshine dry those clothes! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting What You Paid For--Tube Edition

First let me apologize for my absence here, we were traveling for the last three weeks, and as soon as we got to town one of my dearest friends came to visit.  If you're reading this, thanks for making it through the break with me...

I don't know about you but I have quite a few things I use in my daily life that come in a tube with corkscrew turn at the bottom (ala chapstick).  Usually when the product gets level with the plastic packaging & becomes scratchy to use I chuck it in the recycling bin; but, in the name of frugal experimentation, I decided to see how much product was lurking beneath the surface.  

 E's got some seriously ridiculous dry patches and one of the many products I've tried is Surgeon's Secret, a beeswax moisturizer in a tube.  It took no time to get down to the end of the tube, so I then began trying to get as much out with my fingertip as possible. 

When that was no longer working I thought I'd try one last thing to get out the remaining beeswax--my handy dandy cuticle pusher.  I just scooped that sucker down into the wax & was SHOCKED to see how much moisturizer I would have thrown into the recycle bin.  The photo does not do it justice...I was able to get another week out of that wee tube & that was after sticking my finger down as far as possible the previous week.   Amazing!

To prove my point further I did the same method with my Spray & Wash stick.  I've been working on shoving clothes down in the remnants for months, so I figured there was NO WAY the stick would yield any more from its tiny little crevasses. 

Much to my surprise there were still huge globs of stain stick in the very bottom!  I've been working on the crevasses for a few weeks now & still haven't run out.

Another was to get the max out of your tub products is to use a lipstick brush.  Once your lipsticks/chapsticks become uncomfortable to apply, try using the brush.  It's amazing how long you can make your lipsticks last this way!  And remember, you don't necessarily need a lipstick brush, a small art brush or something of the like could certainly do the trick Additionally if you were able to pry the leftovers out of the tube I've heard of people melting them down in pill organizers & applying with a clean finger tip. 

Remember the point is to save money & make things last as long as possible, so look at things you have on hand to remove the leftovers from your various tubes.  Be creative & use whatever works.  Happy saving!