Friday, December 5, 2008

Saving money part 2 - Being creative

www.freecycle.org and www.craigslist.com are great sources to use! People have gotten greedy on Ebay... thats not always the best place to find things anymore. I am surprised how generous people are on Freecycle. I signed up for my local freecycle though that link above, and am subscribed so it emails me daily with the new posts. So it takes hardly any time at all. Its the perfect place to find another charger for your cell phone, snow pants for your nephew visiting from Florida (or your own kid, of course), back issues of magazines.... toys.... the list goes ON and ON! People are always posting bags of clothes that their kids have outgrown. All you have to do is email the person that you want it! And you can request specific things too! And its all free - and free to join, of course. Craig's List is similar except that there is usually a monetary request for the item. Like a chest freezer. $25. Works.

Which brings me to my next "be creative" item!

Freeze it!

Did you know you can freeze milk? How about cheese? Bread and meat? Of course! I buy an extra turkey around Thanksgiving and keep it in my freezer until spring (when I'm no longer sick of turkey) I cook it, have a meal with it, and save the breasts in freezer bags with some of the skin and juices to reheat for another meal. I pick off all the "shredded" meat and separate it by color in meal-sized portions in sandwich-sized freezer bags. Next time I make soup... I add a bag of dark turkey meat. Next time I make a casserole? I add a bag of white turkey meat. I estimate that a turkey that was .58c a lb costs about $1 lb after its cooked and off the carcass. Not bad!

I do the same thing with ham. I dice it and freeze it for 1/2 hour on a cookie sheet and put it in a freezer bag. Then I have it to add to omelets and other dishes.

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/ has a long list of things you can freeze in addition to my own.

Grow a garden!

No room? How about a container garden? How about a city plot? Or a friend's house? Start with what costs you most in stores. Usually tomatoes and herbs. Those can be grown in pots! We grow pumpkins because we (sort-of) have the space and a $1 packet of seeds produces our pumpkins that we used to pay $20 for in the fall... plus extras - this year my girls actually MADE almost $20 selling our extra pumpkins!

Windowsill Garden Update


So here it is...
I think the cold air from the window is making the plants want to hibernate! I stuffed some rags between the back of the gutter and the window to insulate it and am now trying to think of some sort of heat source. I don't know how hot heat tape gets, but thought I might be able to get some used on Freecycle. Or I thought a small string of Christmas lights, but that might be a little distracting / tacky, lol. Especially after Christmas! Any ideas?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I have ANOTHER GDA for you!


Hasbro.com is running a deal a day - 10 days , $10 each!
(free shipping with a $50 order). Also, it took the "HOLIDAY25" coupon code for 25% off - so that was actually $7.50!! I think the free shipping is on $50 AFTER discounts, by the way.
Today is my older DD's favorite line of toys - My Little Pony "Ponyvilles"
Of course, she already has this one :p (and I think she paid $22 for it) But I thought I'd share!

The RollerSkate Party Cake

Ok. I told you I'd post a free or GDA... here's one!

This is from the freebie forum at www.hotcouponworld.com . Have I convinced you guys to join yet? Seriously. I can't copy the whole website onto here!! :p

Enjoy!
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From Cheapo at www.hotcouponworld.com

Free Playtex starter nurser (bottle)
Playtex is the leader in infant care and wants to address the growing public confusion about plastics used in baby bottles. Playtex offers a broad selection of BPA-free infant bottles, pacifiers and cups. The links on this page provide more information about the materials used in our infant feeding and soothing products.As a demonstration of our commitment to you, we are offering free samples of the Playtex® Drop-Ins® Original Nurser System, which are BPA-free.Please fill out the form below to receive your free Playtex® Drop-Ins® Original Nurser System.Please allow several weeks for your free sample to arrive. We are increasing our inventory as quickly as possible. In the meantime, you can purchase Playtex® Drop-Ins® Nurser Systems at most major retailers, including Babies ‘R Us, Target, Wal-mart, and many major grocery stores, and drug stores. Thank you for your patience.Please limit one per e-mail and one per household.
Link
http://www.playtexbaby.com/bpafree/info.html

Inside this sample is a coupon for $1 off... the drop-in liners - if I remember right. These are the older style bottles, but with my experience using both, I really preferred these over the curvy ones.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Starting to save... first tips

Ok, I'm still new to this whole blogging thing. I have a lot to learn about blogger yet. So like everything else, I'm going to start small.

People always ask me how we save money. We are definitely NOT role models (just look at our dining-out budget!) Here are some tips for getting started.

Stock up when it's on sale. Before last spring, when cereal went to $2 or lower, I'd stock up, especially if I had coupons. I've been able to cut that figure almost in half now, usually getting cereal for $1 box or lower, thanks to knowing how to use coupons now. We go through a lot of it. On my expired trip to Cub a few weeks ago, I got cereal for .35c a box. On average, though, I pay .75-$1.25/box. My goal is to never, ever pay more than $2 a box.

Name your top 5 or ten.
Make a list of things you go though a lot of, spend a LOT on, or that you know have significant sales prices. Start out with those as your top priority to save on. These, in our house, have been:

Diapers
Peanut Butter
Bread
Eggs
Meat
Uncle Ben's Wild rice

Generally, anything under .20c a diaper was a good deal, and a stock-up deal if it was around .18c. Little one had a sensitive butt and couldn't use generics, and Pampers and Luvs leaked, so we had to be brand loyal to Huggies (regular or Supreme) or the Pampers Cruisers, if we had to. (funny our older one couldn't use Huggies, lol!) Make a mental (or actual!) list of these figures for these products in your market. And stock up....see next item!

Use the Expiration Date as a guide. Estimate how much you will use of that product before then and load up and don't be shy. I did this with the Uncle Ben's wild rice boxes that usually run $2 a box when I could get them for .75c/box. They had an 18 month shelf life so I bought about 10... to last until April 2009. Guess what. There is only one left in my pantry from that purchase. Another example. Last spring around Earth Day, there was a sale on Poweraide. Since DH wasn't drinking pop then, and we had lots of outdoor projects to do for the summer, I knew we were going to be getting a lot of it. Last year I paid $1 a bottle for it because I hadn't prepared. This year I looked at the "x" date of Nov. 2008. Figured 1-2 bottles a day and came up with 180 bottles. That was a little out of our budget, so we got 90... At .70 bottle, AND a free 24-bottle case of Dasani bottled water for EVERY 10 poweraides. (and if I bought 20 powerades and 2 cases of water, plus the free items (loaf of bread and a re-useable bag) I hit the $25 mark and got the free items... so I did that 4 times!) $63 for 90 32 oz Powerades, 9 24-pk cases of Dasani, 4 loaves of bread and 4 re-useable shopping bags. Too bad Cash Wise limits their free items to one per family now :(

Many people just buy 2 or 3 of the item when its on sale instead of one. Really think about it. Every time you do this you are locking in that good price instead of going out and buying it at full price when you find out you need it. (of course, you have to weigh the savings against how good the sale is, how frequently it goes on sale, how much room you have to store it, and how much cash you have) This used to mean spending a LOT extra money for us. Now, not so much, because we can live off our pantry for a while while we spend our cash loading up on another item. We also save time because I don't HAVE to go shopping every week. We started small. Mostly with those things on the list up there. And don't kick yourself if you realize you "messed up" and didn't take advantage of the deal or paid too much. Its a process. In the next round, you'll do better!

Oh, and one last thing:
WIC. I miss being on WIC. Please people. If you qualify for it.... GO FOR IT! You wouldn't deny yourself a tax write-off, would you? If the WIC is available for you, use it. Their primary focus is nutrition, and it was easy to have the nutrition bases covered when we were on it. Yes, we could have gotten by without it, but it gave us the ability to make our $$ go further, which is always a blessing. For those of you who don't know, if you are pregnant or have a child under 5 you may qualify. When you qualify you get free formula (9 small cans/month) several gallons of milk, a few pounds of cheese, eggs and peanut butter. I found a way to use all of that stuff, even if I didn't think I needed it. I'd use the Peanut butter in the next time we had to bring a dessert... Cheese on tortilla chips instead of some other snack, etc.

I haven't even TOUCHED the issue of coupons yet but I better call it quits!

Wow -- Peanut butter really DOES work!

I've thrown out a few pair of socks thanks to a water-proof bandage adhering itself to the inside of the sock instead of my toe... Then I tried it. Peanut butter. I put a big glob on my dry sock, rubbed it for a few seconds and let it sit overnight. Next day, I ran warm water and lightly peeled at the glob of PB... and the gew from the band aid came off as well (there was still foam attached to the gew, so I'm guessing that helped). Wow. I'd call that SAVING MONEY!

Stay tuned... I'm going to put together a post of deals that are very easy "free" or "GDA" (gosh-darn AWESOME) for all my friends that say they don't have time for couponing or don't know where to start.
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