Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lotus Bumz Cloth Diapers--$7.32 each

I don't usually share deals, but because this one is a fabulous deal on cloth diapers I figured I would pass it along.  Right now if you sign up with Keekoo (a daily deal site specializing in maternity-child products), you will receive a $10 credit.  You can then use that $10 credit toward one of their daily deals, Lotus Bumz one size pocket diapers.  I was able to 6 for $7.32 each, which is pretty fabulous for a new cloth diaper. 
Here's how:
In order to use the $10 credit you must spend $50, so I chose 6 of the $8.99 diapers, which then brought my subtotal to $53.94, enough to have the $10 credit applied, lowering the total to $43.94.  The online reviews look excellent, & since we're about to have 2 in diapers I'm THRILLED to get a deal.  If you're interested sign up here, but hurry, the deal expires tomorrow at 11 am eastern.  

I love cloth diapering & it is a fabulous money & trash saver.  If you're looking for more information about cloth diapering check out my posts here & here & feel free to ask questions in the comments.  I'm happy to help!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

10 Things We Don't Buy

I was inspired by MoneySavingMom's list of 7 things she doesn't buy & thought I'd compile my own:

  • Paper towels/napkins/plates--We use cloth napkins, rags, & real plates at all times. 
  • Electric can opener
  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash--I use our stockpile, send away for samples, buy things when they're free with coupons, & use what we receive as gifts.  I haven't spent money on any of these things in years.
  • Clothes--I made the commitment not to buy any clothes over a year ago & I've been surprised how little I've needed.  (I did buy 2 maternity shirts when I found out I was pregnant, one for $5 at Goodwill & one for $1 at Target on clearance with a coupon).  JC & I often receive clothing as Christmas presents, & JC spends about $15 every 6 months to get his shirts & pants professionally washed & starched.  It's well worth the money as it helps him feel super professional & keeps him from buying new clothes.  I've also quit buying for Emerson & use what we have on hand unless I can find something for $2 or less brand new. 
  • A Minivan--Though it was tempting to upgrade when we found out our family was expanding we decided we just really didn't need a minivan/ accompanying loss of savings or car payment/bad gas mileage.  We're sticking with our 1996 Honda Civic & 2008 Ford Fusion, both of which are paid off, & will use a car topper when necessary for long trips. 
  • Professional Hair color--The Troyer's go gray early, so I had to start coloring my hair when I turned 24.  I've been using Loreal at home hair color & with coupons & sales I only pay $3/box. 

  • Laundry Detergent/Fabric Softener--I make our own, use vinegar, or we go without fabric softener
  • Commercial Cleaners--I was able to get some 7th generation for free after coupons & rebate several years ago, but as that is getting used I simply rely on borax, baking soda, vinegar, & salt to get the job done. 
  • Bottled Water--We've got a filtration system in our fridge & fill reusable water bottles.
  • Candles/Air fresheners--I use a candle warmer to use up scraps of wax or I make our candles.  Instead of air fresheners we use old body splash that has been sitting around for years.  It works just as well & doesn't include any propellants. 
Things We Hardly Spend Any Money On--Many of these things I thought that we didn't spend any money on, but when I REALLY thought about it, I could find occasional exceptions.

  • Cloth Diapers & Wipes--Despite using cloth diapers & cloth wipes that majority of the time, we do use disposable diapers for church & at night & use disposable wipes for nasty number 2s.  It's still a huge savings & it definitely saves on our trash output.  

Dryer--I air dry all of our laundry, but if & when JC does laundry, he does use the dryer.  I'd say we're 95% dryer free, which still seems pretty good to me. 

What do you go without?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Price Matching for Produce

I've never price matched at Walmart before, but this past weekend I was too tired to drive across town to Aldi, so I decided to go several blocks & price match Aldi's produce prices at Walmart.   I found it to be an extremely easy process.  I simply went in, grabbed the produce I needed, & had the Aldi sale flier handy for the cashier while checking out. 

I was able to get the pineapples & cantaloupes for $0.99 each, strawberries for $0.99/lb, & grapes for $0.89/lb.  I'm sorry to say I didn't pay much attention to the existing produce prices at Walmart, but I do know the Walmart price for pineapples was $2.25 each, so that alone was a great savings. 

I was told that Walmart cannot price match produce prices if they are priced per tray (Aldi had a 4 count tray of pears for $0.99), they need prices per lb. or individual prices, but other than that, price matching was a piece of cake.  I'm not sure it's something I'll do all that frequently, but for days when I'm just too worn out to drive across town it's a great alternative, especially as I currently like to eat an entire pineapple in one sitting!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Frugal Fashionista: Mother/Daughter Edition

It has been a while since I've shared our frugal fashions, so I figured there was no time like the present. I also included where the cost of the items I could remember...

Dress:  Target clearance--birthday present last year

Tank Top:  Liz Lange maternity--$2 after clearance & coupon

Cardigan:  Banana Republic--Christmas present

Leggings:  JC Penney--$1 after $10 off coupon (oh how I miss those)

Boots:  Steve Madden--Christmas present

Don't mind the smudgy mirror & terrible quality of this photo

Cardigan:  Steve Madden TJ Maxx

Shirt:  Motherhood Maternity--hand me down

Skirt:  Avatar

Shirt:  Liz Lange Maternity--$5 at Goodwill

Jeans:  Liz Lange Maternity--$2 at garage sale

And why not include our little sweetheart...

Seersucker Dress: Hand-me-down

Thank goodness you don't have to spend a ton of money to feel fashionable!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Frugal Experiment: Cooking Dried Beans in the Crock Pot

I have long heard that cooking dried beans is more economical than buying canned beans.  Approximately 95% of our meals are vegetarian & we go through a lot of beans in a month, so when I recently found packages of black beans for $0.30/lb I figured it might be a worthwhile experiment. 

Simply sort & wash the beans.  

Find a recipe, pour beans, water, & seasonings in the crock pot.  

Cook overnight or approx 8 hours, drain (if desired), package, & freeze.  Piece of cake!

Here are a few things I learned from my little frugal experiment:
  • Do not overlook the importance of sorting & rinsing the beans before you cook them. You won't save any money using dried beans if you need expensive dental work to repair a chipped tooth from an overlooked rock.  Emerson & I sorted our beans while watching a movie, & she thought it was the greatest thing ever.  
  • Aside from water to bean measurements, you don't necessarily need a recipe. I decided to double & loosely follow this recipe, but my beans ended up too spicy for E, so I can only use them for chili or other foods that she wouldn't normally eat.  Major bummer.
  • If you do find a great deal on dried beans, STOCK UP!  I only bought two 1 lb packages of beans because I hadn't tried cooking with dried beans before.  I am now chock full of cheap bean regret.  Chock full.
  • Unless you find a fabulous deal on dried beans, this might not be the most economical choice for you.  The Simple Dollar does an in depth cost analysis of dried vs. canned beans, but from my experience,  unless I find a fabulous deal, I cannot buy dried beans cheaper than I can canned.  
I'm definitely pleased I tried cooking with dried beans, & hope to again in the near long as I can get a good price.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Homemade Butter in a Mason Jar

Recently, I purchased some cream for potato soup & while contemplating what to do with the remaining cream, I remembered making homemade butter with my gram when my sisters & I were little.  
Don't mind the crap photo, JC had our camera & I had to use my cell.  Apologies. 
It was SUPER simple & quite satisfying.  I used this tutorial as a rough guide (I didn't wash the butter or salt it), filled two small mason jars halfway, & shook the dickens out of them.  I did the shaking while watching Lord of the Rings & it took me from the beginning of the movie until Frodo was running to Buckleberry Ferry @ The Inn of the Prancing Pony.  For you non-LOTR nerds, I would approximate it was a good 15 minutes of shaking.

The cream separated into butter & a lovely buttermilk, which I poured off & collected for the following morning's pancakes.  Both the pancakes & the butter were delicious & it was such a good use of something that often spoils.  If you've never tried making butter it's a fun arm workout & has tasty results.  Plus, how many people churn their own butter anymore?!  You could be one of just a few!

Happy churning!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bakery Outlet: Frugal Treasure or Rip Off?

Today, after reading & reading about the wonders of bakery outlets, Emerson & I finally ventured to our local Hostess Bakery Outlet.  I admit, I went in with extremely high hopes of dirt cheap baked goods, cereal, & more. Unfortunately, I didn't find the cheap confections I had assumed I would. 

Here's what I did find:
  • A very clean little shop--The store was set up nicely, with cute, tiny carts, & very pristine, orderly shelves.  
  • A rather limited selection--There really weren't all that many options & I only found a few loaves of whole wheat bread.
  • Prices weren't what I would consider outlet--In general, all of the bakery prices seemed just as high as regular retail.  With the exception of packages of a dozen whole wheat hamburger buns (meant for restaurants), everything was higher than Aldi's prices.  For instance, plain bagels at Aldi are $1.49.  The outlet had plain bagels for $1.79.  
Our local Dollar Tree doesn't have a set day in which they get their baked goods, which makes getting consistent deals difficult, but I think for now I'll stick to trying to get our whole wheat bread for a dollar & supplement with baked goods from Aldi.  

It was worth a shot...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Guide to Eating Cheap

I just love Gail Vaz-Oxlaide.  She's a sort of Canadian Suze Orman, without all of the catch phrases.   She's got a show on CNBC called Til' Debt Do Us Part & I would say it's my favorite show, but much to my dismay, we don't get CNBC anymore so I cannot watch.

Because I'm a little Gail Vaz-Oxlade deprived these days,  I was thrilled to see this article on her blog about ways to eat cheap.  It's succinct & filled with brilliant ideas.  While some of the Canadian prices don't match prices in the U.S., the principles are universal.  If you're looking for ways to lower your grocery bill, definitely check it out. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Making The Most Out of Try Me Free Rebates

Right now at Walmart has little peelies on packages of Arm & Hammer Power Pack laundry detergent. The peelie is to the try the product for free after rebate & Walmart has 60 packs, which would essentially be 60 free loads of laundry after rebate.  I've never used the detergent, so I'm not sure how well it works, & I usually make my own, but I figure it's good to have on hand in case I'm to tired to make detergent in the next few months.   

I love sending in for rebates, but there are definitely a few tricks to the trade.  Here's how to maximize your free offer:  
 When it comes to Try Free offers, here are a couple of ways to maximize the offers:
  •  Make sure you'll use the free product--In general you will need to mail in the UPC with the rebate, so you will often have to destroy the exterior packaging, which does not make it ideal for charitable donation.  Unless you have someone you know who could benefit from the product, or you'll use it yourself, there is no benefit to buying something you'll never use.
  • Don't forget to mail in your rebate--Prepare the rebate the day you purchase the product.  Something like 40% of all rebates are never claimed, so the manufacturer is just hoping you'll forget.  You don't save any money if you forget, so be sure to mail in that rebate!
  • Realize that free isn't totally free--You'll still have to provide the stamp & pay the sales tax on the item purchased.  Make sure it's worth it to you to spend $0.44 & tax.  
  •  Use salvaged envelopes-- I use envelopes saved from birthday cards or from old teaching newsletters.  As long as there is no writing on the outside, or a label that can be covered up, the envelope is perfect for mailing in rebates. 
  • Get the largest available size--Most rebates say they will refund the money up to X amount per X package size.  For instance, the Arm & Hammer rebate says they will refund any 16 count or larger up to $9.99.  The 60 count was the largest size available & $7.97, so it was within the parameters.  
 Happy rebating!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Super Saturday Shopping--Target & JC Penney

We had several days this week where Emerson & I had to be out of the house, so we killed time at Target & JC Penney.  (Forgive the poor picture quality, I had to take the pictures with my ghetto fabulous 4 year old cell phone)

At Target I found some fabulous clearance deals:  

  • Biore facewash:  Originally $5.99 on clearance for $4.18-$3 coupon from Biore facebook=$1.18
  • 2 Biore astringents w. bonus facewash: Originally $5.99 on clearance for $4.18-$3 coupon from Biore facebook=$1.18 each
  • 4 pack of Cascade tablets: $0.97-$0.50 P&G newspaper coupon=$0.47
  • 20 pack of Finish tablets: Originally $4.97 on clearance for $2.38- $0.50 manufacturer coupon=$1.88

Grand Total:  $7.31-$5 Target Giftcard from prior purchase=$2.31 OOP after tax

Bug enjoying her free pretzel
Today we made a rare sojourn to the mall to get our Free Auntie Anne's pretzels & get our oil changed & while we were there we stopped by JC Penney's to see if there were any deals to be had.  I have to say the store looked great & I love their new ad campaign, but I for one am sad to see their store coupons vanish & along with their copious clearance racks.

Of the very few items they had on clearance I found this little American Living dress for Emerson.  It was originally $44 (WOW!!!) & I paid $2.

Hope you got some excellent deals this week.  Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sewing Marathon Results

I'm a terrible seamstress.  Just terrible.  It took me an extra week to make my 8th grade pillow in Home Ec.  Thank God I don't live in a time when I would be responsible for sewing absolutely everything we need. 

That being said, I have found that minimal sewing is essential to our little frugal life.  Today I spent the better part of the day sewing with some extra flannel we had, & here are the results:

I made 7 cloth diaper doublers, 16 cloth wipes, 10 cotton ball replacements, & 6 flannel breast pads.  Hopefully this will go a long way toward helping once Little Baby arrives & we have two babies in cloth diapers & I'm nursing. 

I'm happy to say that all of the above didn't cost us a dime, but I am very thankful I don't have to do this every day.  Seriously.