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?!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Frugal Best Practices

I've found much of frugal living revolves around thinking about every minute routine & coming up with ways to reduce the amount of resources needed or use everything in its entirety.  As I worked around our house this week here are a few frugal practices I've found helpful.  

Bake Potatoes on Metal Skewers--This saves wrapping them in foil, in addition to reducing the cooking time as the skewers help the potatoes cook through more quickly.  My only complaint is it does make the skin a bit more tough, but I find that the saved resources & energy are worth it.  (Don't forget to open the oven door to heat your home in the winter!)

Wash Children's Socks in a Lingerie Bag--It's a simple way to prevent socks from getting lost in the wash & it saves time when I hang wash--only two clothes pins needed!

Use a Candle Crock--These handy little inventions help you get the absolute max out of your favorite candles.  When you have wax left over at the end of a candle simply break up the remaining wax (I stab it with scissors) then place a chunk on the top of the crock.  The heat from the tea light will melt the wax & you will get to enjoy the scent of your favorite candle for the minimal expense of an unscented tea light.  

My sweet sister saves the remnants of her Yankee Candle's Midsummer's Night (my fav!) just so I can enjoy, because I'm too cheap to buy.  If that isn't love I don't know what is. 

These are just a few things that have saved me time, money, and resources & I certainly look forward to finding more frugal best practices shortly.   

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So Long Slippery Socks

We have hardwood floors throughout our home.  They're beautiful, but slippery, and Emerson is constantly falling down while she's scurrying around.  As we're transitioning from barefoot to sock weather, I started thinking about grippy socks & I figured I could make my own, inexpensively with puff paint.  

I simply took puff paint & applied 6 little dots to the bottoms of each of Emerson's socks.  She tried them out today & didn't fall down once! 

For $1.19 I was able to take all of Emerson's socks from slippery to grippy in no time.  A much cheaper solution than purchasing a new sock wardrobe. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Repurposing an Unusable Sample

I love to try new things, especially if they're free, so I always sign up for samples.  Usually they are wonderful & a great supplement to our household supplies, but occasionally I get one that I just cannot use.  

Enter Downy UnStopables, something that I assumed was a fabric softener.  In actuality they're little pellets you add to your wash that are meant to make your laundry smell flowery (chemically) until you wash it again.  The problem is that it smelled so strong inside the packaging that it literally made my lungs hurt. 

Then I had a thought, use this putrid smelling chemical concoction to cover a more putrid smell--diapers.  Our diaper pail has a built in little tray at the top for a refresher.  I simply poured the little pellets in & reattached the tray.  

They're working beautifully & I'm happy that my sample didn't go to waste.  If only everything in life had such a simple solution.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Frugal Fashionista: Sunday Best

I haven't done any fashionista posts lately; mainly because I haven't been all too fashionable of late.  I was, however, able to compile a few pictures left over from Sundays this summer to share with you all.  For the record, I feel totally ridiculous taking these pictures, so please, save any judgements.  ;)

Channeling my best June Cleaver

Dress:  Gadzooks more than 5 years ago, but I think it was in the $20 range
Head Band:  Rescued ribbon from a gift

Necklace:  Gift from my handsome husband

Pearl Earrings:  Christmas present from my parents

Wedges:  Target Clearance

Shirt:  Banana Republic outlet --Free thanks to a giftcard from my dad
Skirt:  Goodwill

Ring:  Anniversary present from JC (Just love that guy!)

Espadrilles:  TJ Maxx end of season clearance several years ago

And last but not least, I've got to include a picture of our busy little Doodle Bug...

Dress:  Children's Place--Bought at Once Upon a Child's on clearance for $1
Shoes:  Gift from Nana

Looking at my pictures, many of the items I'm wearing are close to 5 years old.  I'm glad to know my cheap finds are holding up!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

45 Uses for Vinegar + 31 Uses for Baking Soda

Vinegar & baking soda are some of my absolute favorite products to use around the house.  I use vinegar as a fabric softener as well as a cleaner.  I use baking soda in place of  to scrub our pots, sinks,  &  our tub, & I always sprinkle a little in our diaper pails.  Both products are cheap, environmentally friendly, & easy to come by.  
 So I was pleased to find that both were capable of much more than I had ever dreamed.  Check out 45 uses for vinegar (I can't wait to try 22, 24, & 25)

And 31 uses for baking soda--I'm going to have to remember number 17!

I'll never look at vinegar & baking soda the same!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shopping for Christmas Year-Round

I like to get the best deals possible on Christmas presents.  That doesn't mean I'm cheap, it means that I shop smart.  The biggest way in which I am able to stick to a strict budget is by shopping year-round.  I primarily shop when things on clearance at the end of a season, when I have a coupon, or when there is an amazing sale. 

This method usually works beautifully for me, but last year, packing for a trip to India with a 10 month old, plus a month's worth of additional travel, AND Emerson's first Christmas left me totally frazzled & I ended up forgetting tons of presents & had to run out to purchase things on Christmas Eve (immediately after flying 15 hours from Mumbai).  Yikes. 

After we arrived home from our tour-de-Christmas-disaster, I knew I had to come up with a better method.  Enter my linen closet:   I have carefully sorted & organized all of this years presents by person into labeled bags.  I also have 2 little bins with presents with no know destination at the moment just in case I were to forget & need a last minute gift.  It has been a HUGE time saver & money saver & I plan on continuing this practice in the future. 

I really think that shopping year-round is the best way to purchase thoughtful gifts, while saving long as you don't forget where you put the presents! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How I Got $120 for $17.79 for Emerson's Christmas & Birthday Presents

I know it's only the beginning of October, but I'm happy to say I'm nearly done shopping for Emerson's Christmas & birthday.  I try to shop for both at the same time because E's birthday is at the very beginning of February & it's gets here quickly after the holidays.  I am also pleased to say that we've only spent $17.79 for $120 worth of merchandise!  Let me show you how I did it:

Diaper Rewards:  

 I bought both the Melissa & Doug stacking train ($16.99) & the Melissa & Doug 3 Little Pigs Stacking Toy & Story ($29.99) with my Huggies Enjoy the Ride Rewards codes.  I've acquired the codes from Huggies products & Retail Me Not.  We mostly use cloth diapers, so I admit this is the amount of credit we've earned over Emerson's entire lifetime, but I'm happy to have the freebies!

Pampers also offers a similar program call Gifts to Grow.  

Daily Deal Sites:

I signed up for Eversave, a daily deal website like Groupon, close to a year ago.  I was pleasantly surprised last New Years when they credited my account with $10.  I then used that credit to purchase a voucher for $25 worth of toys from for free.  I used that $25 to purchase the Melissa & Doug lacing cards & the teaching clock & I just had to pay $7.95 shipping.    

More recently I signed up for SaveMoreSave More was, AND STILL IS, offering a $10 credit when you sign up for a new account.  I then used $8 of that $10 credit to purchase a voucher for $20 at  I bought the Melissa & Doug doll family, but because it was $19.98, I also had to buy the Uncle Willy in order to reach the $20 minimum (insert annoyed sound here).  I ended up paying $9.59 for the Uncle Willy, dolls, & shipping.

Bargain Hunting:

The markers I got in a back to school sale at Walgreens, they were free after Register Rewards.

The crayons I bought at Walmart & price matched a sale at Toys-R-Us.  They cost $0.25.

The 4 little Mr. & Miss books I bought for with a gift card we were given to Books-A-Million.  They were normally $3.99 each, but I found the on clearance for $1 each!

I also bought a copy of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (not pictured) last Christmas on clearance for $2.50 @ Kohl's.  

The only think I've got left is a coloring book & to finish knitting Emerson a blanket.  I just need motivation for the blanket, but for the coloring book I've got a plan to get that cheap too.  I've got a recycled ink cartridge credit at Office Depot headed my way shortly, & I intend to buy Emerson a coloring book to accompany the markers & crayons.  After that, I'm done!

Happy bargain shopping to you at we head into this Christmas season!

Monday, October 3, 2011

100 Extreme Ways to Save Serious Money
I frequently like to search for "extreme" ways to save money.  I'm not always willing to try the suggestions (living in my car, for example), but often times the lists get me thinking & I'm able to find new ways to save.  This is by far the most comprehensive list I've EVER found.  It might not line up with your ethics, level of hygiene, or lifestyle, but at the very least, I hope it helps you think about things in your own spending habits & where you can reduce.  Enjoy!