How to Save

What to Focus on for Fall Cleaning

Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Subjects  for sanitary cleaning a houseMany people put a huge effort into spring cleaning. Did you know that some people also do fall cleaning? It makes sense when you think about it. Both of them occur at the changing of a season. There are certain things that need extra care when the weather changes from hot to cold. Here is a quick look at what to focus on for your fall cleaning.

Wash the Windows
People tend to spend a lot more time indoors when the weather is cold. Fall is a good time to give your windows a really good cleaning (before it gets too cold to do it). You can use a glass cleaner or soap and water, whichever you prefer. Don’t forget to go out and clean the dirt off the outside part of your windows. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the windows. This will help avoid annoying streaks.

Replace the Furnace Filter
When was the last time you got new filters for your furnace? This is the sort of thing that people forget about while the weather is hot. Chances are, the filters that are in your furnace right now are old, dusty, and in need of replacing. They may have been sitting in your filter since last winter!

Some don’t see changing the furnace filter as a priority. Keep in mind that a filter is necessary because it helps clean dirt and dust out of the air. A dirty filter can’t do as good a job as a nice, new, clean one can. Before you head out the door to buy new filters, take a minute to check what size your current ones are.

Check your Chimney
Does your home have a fireplace? It has probably been months since you used it. Fall is a good time to have a professional come over and inspect your fireplace. He or she can make sure that the stove flues are not blocked and might even clean the chimney for you. The purpose, of course, is to make sure you can safely use your fireplace when the weather gets cold.

Examine the Detectors
The battery on a smoke detector doesn’t last forever. The same is true for a carbon monoxide detector. In fall, the weather gets colder, so people close all their windows and run their furnace (or fireplace).

You can prevent a tragedy from happening if you make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, or enough smoke detectors, now is a good time to get them.

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The Best Things to Buy in October

Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Princess CostumeWhat should you buy in October? There are certain sales that happen annually. The very best time to buy anything is when it is on sale. October is kind of a strange month for sales because it is too late for summer items and a bit too early for sales on Christmas decorations. Here are some tips on what to buy in October.

Halloween Costumes
If you are willing to wait to purchase your Halloween costume until a few days before Halloween, you could end up saving a lot of money. The selection won’t be as diverse as it is right now (when prices are at their highest). One way to get a great deal is to wait and then shop at the Halloween stores that “pop up” for a few months and disappear at the end of October. They will be very motivated to sell their stock when we get closer to Halloween.

Another option is to take advantage of online sales and coupon codes. The one disadvantage to this is that you won’t be able to try on the costume before you buy it. Don’t forget to take the shipping price into account. Compare that total price with what the same costume costs at a local department store.

October is a great month for people who need to purchase toys. The hot items of the summer will be on sale. Check to see if the toys that your children have been begging you for, but that you couldn’t afford to buy a few months ago, are on sale. The annual toy sale gives you a wonderful opportunity to stock up on Christmas gifts for the the children in your life.

For best results, pick a store that you have a loyalty card at. Go to their website and download digital coupons for the toys you are planning to purchase. Check their weekly sales paper and make sure you shop while the toy sale is going on.

The back-to-school sales are over. If you still need to pick up a few pairs of jeans for yourself, or your children, October is a good month to do it. Stores tend to end up with more jeans in stock than they would like now that school has started. Check their sales papers to see when the jeans go on sale.

Gardening supplies
Very few people are looking for gardening supplies right now. We are heading into the colder weather that most plants don’t handle very well. Now is a good time to purchase gardening supplies for next spring’s garden. Replace the worn out gloves now, and pick up a few extra planters. It will cost more money to do the same thing if you wait until spring.

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Free Kids Events in October

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Creativity lesson(preschool activity)Every month, there are several stores that host free kids events Some of the events involve building a project, and others give children the chance to make some art. This is great for parents who want their kids to participate in these creative activities. Here are a few free kids events to check out in October.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow has free building events for kids. They are held on Saturdays. Every child who participates will receive a free apron, goggles, and patch. They also get to build a wooden project. Registration is required.

October 11, 2014: Haunted House – Kids will build their own spooky Haunted House project.

Home Depot Kids Workshops
Home Depot offers free building events for kids who are ages 5 – 12. Each child will receive an apron, a pin, and the wooden project they create. Registration is required.

October 4, 2014: How to Build an EMS Truck – Kids will make a wooden project that looks like an EMS truck.

LEGO Stores
LEGO has a free monthly mini-build project for kids ages 6 – 14. It starts at 5:00 in the evening and is offered “while supplies last”. No registration is required. You might want to get there early, though, before they run out of mini-builds.

October 7, 2014: LEGO Monster – Kids will put together a mini-build of Frankenstein’s monster

Disney Stores
Disney Stores will have a Halloween Dress Rehearsal Event. It will take place on October 5, 2014, and October 6, 2014. There will be a costume parade and games. This event is for children ages 3 and older. Children are asked to come dressed as their favorite Disney character.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free kids art events on Saturdays. They are for children ages 3 and older. These events begin at 11:00 in the morning and end at 3:00 in the afternoon.

October 4, 2014: Making Music Drum – Kids will create and decorate their very own handheld drum.

October 11, 2014: Fire Safety Fido – Kids will put together a cute dalmatian named “Fido” who wears a firefighter’s helmet.

October 18, 2014: Bunny Reading Pointer – Kids will decorate a craft stick pointer that looks like a bunny. It can be used to help a child read or as a bookmark.

October 25, 2014: Spooky Sweets Holder – Kids will make a paper candy holder that is shaped like a black bat.

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Save Money on Banned Books

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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LibraryDid you know that September 21 – September 27 is Banned Books Week? It is when bookstores, libraries, and avid readers focus on books that have been banned, for whatever reason, by people who disapproved of them. You might be surprised by how many popular authors, and classic books, have been banned. It is often suggested the people purchase a book that had been banned during Banned Books Week. Here are some tips to help you save money on some excellent books.

Visit the Library
Your local library is a great place to visit during Banned Books Week. Many libraries set up special displays that feature books that have been banned. The displays often include some of the reasons why a certain book had been banned. It is very interesting to learn about! Of course, the books that you borrow from the library are free. Just make sure that you return the book on time so you can avoid paying a late fee.

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg offers over 46,000 free ebooks. You can find free epub books and free kindle books, that can be downloaded or read online. This is a great place to look for books that are considered to be Classics, that are often assigned to students to read in school, and that have been banned. Here are a few titles I found that have been banned:

* Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale by Herman Melville
* The Call of the Wild by Jack London
* The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Do you prefer to listen to books instead of read them? has over 150,000 titles of audio books (and more). You can get a free trial to their service and one free audio book. There are two membership plans to choose from after your free trial runs out. One gives you 1 book a month for $14.95. The other gives you 2 books a month for $22.95. Here are a few titles of banned books that I found at

* The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It is narrated by actress Claire Danes.
* Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It is narrated by actress Selma Blair.
* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is narrated by actress Sissy Spacek.

Barnes & Noble
Purchase any 3 kids’ books, and you can get a copy of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for $8.99. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, is on sale in hardcover for $15.61. These books are among the many children’s books that have been banned.

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Tips to Save Money on Fall Clothing

Posted on Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Second hand shopThe weather will soon be changing from the heat of summer to the coolness of fall. It is almost time to swap out the warm weather clothes in your closet for the cold weather ones. Some people simply go out and buy a whole new wardrobe when the seasons change. Instead, you can save money on fall clothing by following these tips.

What do you already have?
Before you head out the door to go shopping, take the time to figure out what you already have at home. There are some things that will carry over from one season to the next. Try on jeans to make sure they still fit. T-shirts are great in both summer and fall. Maxi dresses will be comfortable for a few more weeks.

The next step is to dig out your fall/winter clothing and start trying things on. Consider donating things that no longer fit you. Don’t forget to go through your “work clothes” and determine which ones are going to be comfortable and appropriate as the weather cools off. Make a list of the type of clothing you need to replace for this fall (and write down the amount you think you will need).

Try the Thrift Stores
You never know what you will find at a thrift store! The clothing you purchase there will be at a much lower price than the department stores. Thrift stores typically have a lot of sweaters to choose from, plenty of jeans, and a variety of slacks, skirts, and dress shirts that would be appropriate for the work place.

Before you make a purchase from a thrift store take the time to try it on. The size on the label might not be correct. It is possible the item has shrunk or been stretched out. While you are at it, take a close look at the clothing. If you see stains or rips, put it back and choose a different one.

Use Your Discounts
Start by shopping at the stores where you have a loyalty card or the store’s credit card. Customers who have them are often treated to special discounts. Check the store’s website before you head out the door. Are they having a sale of the kinds of clothing you need for fall? Do they have coupons you can bring in? Use all your discount options to help you save money.

Don’t forget to check the stores Clearance section! It could include discounted clothing that is appropriate for cooler weather. Or, you might find an inexpensive top that can be paired with a sweater or jacket that you already have.

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How to Make Your Own Caramel Apples

Posted on Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Candy ApplesApples are in season during the month of September. It won’t be long before you see caramel apples sold at the grocery stores. They always look so good! The price, however, isn’t usually so nice. You can save some money if you make your very own caramel apples.

It sounds so easy. Just add caramel to an apple, add a stick, and you are all set! Do you know how to make caramel? Cooking Light has an easy to follow recipe that will make 16 caramel apples. You will need:

* 16 wooden sticks
* 16 small apples (chilled)
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup light colored corn syrup
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 cups half-and-half
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 candy thermometer

Cooking Light recommends you push the sticks into the top of the chilled apples, and then put the apples back in the refrigerator. Leave them there until the caramel is ready.

Next, you need to make the caramel. Start by putting the sugar, corn syrup and water into a large saucepan. Boil it. Stir until it is dissolved. Then, boil it more until it turns a light golden color. This can take about 9 minutes.

After that, combine the half-and-half and the salt. Slowly stir that mixture into the pan. Boil this mixture until the candy thermometer reaches 235 degrees. Stir frequently. This can take 45 minutes.

When it is ready, remove it from the saucepan. Pour the caramel into a bowl that is sitting in a hot water bath. This will help prevent the caramel from stiffening up. Hold each apple by the stick and swirl it into the caramel. Place the caramel apples on a baking sheet that is lined with wax paper. You may want to return the caramel coated apples to the refrigerator in order to help them cool faster.

Some people prefer “plain” caramel apples – the ones that have nothing more than caramel added to them. A salted caramel apple is a popular choice. Others like to eat the fancier versions of this fall treat. If you are going to add stuff to your caramel apples, you need to plan ahead.

What would you like to add to your caramel apples? Some favorites include chocolate chips, sliced almonds, mini marshmallows, coconut flakes and M&Ms. Put each one of those items into its own bowl.

Roll a carmel coated apple into the ingredient of your choice right after the apple has been dipped into the caramel. You need to add things before the caramel has had the chance to harden.

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Save Money on September In Season Produce!

Posted on Monday, September 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Pumpkin SquashThe best time to buy fresh produce is when it is in season. That is when the prices are at their lowest of the entire year. Of course, it helps if you know what produce to look for when you are ready to go grocery shopping. Some of the produce that is in season during the month of September is the same as what was in season for August. There are also some new additions to enjoy!

What’s Going Out of Season?
It is time to say goodbye to a few of your summer favorites. Strawberries are heading toward the end of their season. Watermelon and cantaloupe are on their way out, too. Mangos and summer squash will no longer be in season when the calendar flips to September.

Are any of these foods among your favorites? You might still be able to get a good price on them at the grocery store if you move quickly. The last of them will sell out soon. Once that happens, you will have to wait until next year for them to come back in season and be at their freshest.

What’s Still in Season?
Berry lovers can take comfort in knowing that there are some berries that are in season during both August and September. Blackberries and blueberries will still be fresh in September. It might be nice to toss some blueberries into baked goods as the September weather cools down.

Carrots and apples, two healthy foods that are easy to toss into school lunches, will also stay in season for September. Oranges, a favorite snack to bring to your child’s soccer game, is another fruit that is in season during both August and September. Cucumbers will stick with us for a while, too. Now is your last chance for a year to freshen your water with sliced cucumbers (or to use those slices as part of a beauty routine).

Pumpkin, which came into season in August, will continue to be in season for September. Get ready to start seeing lots of pumpkin flavored drinks, pastries, breads, and anything else you can think of. There are those who feel that Halloween is the perfect time to start serving pumpkin pie.

What’s New in September?
Peaches and plums are now in season. Parents can substitute them for the oranges or apples that their child is tired of eating for lunch. Mushrooms and garlic are in season during September. Now is a good time to try out a “from scratch” pasta sauce recipe. Those who enjoy spicy foods will be happy to know that September is when chili peppers are in season. The hot spices can feel really good when the weather starts to get cooler.

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Free Kids Events in September

Posted on Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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art suppliesThe start of the new school year is upon us! Your kids will be busy at school for hours every day. They will probably have homework to keep them busy after school. Want to find some free and fun activities for them to do on the weekends? Here are some events that your kids can participate in during the month of September. Some require you to register, and others let you just drop by.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow has free building events for kids on Saturdays. Each child will receive a free apron, goggles and patch. They will also have the opportunity to build a wooden project. Registration is required. The event begins at 10:00 in the morning.

September 13, 2014: Binoculars – Kids will build their very own binoculars. They are in the shape of a wooden box. Maybe your child will use the binoculars to start his or her hobby as a birdwatcher.

Home Depot
Home Depot offers free building workshops for kids on Saturdays. The events are for kids ages 5 – 12. Kids get to build a project and will receive a free Workshop Apron, a commemorative pin, and a certificate of achievement. Registration is required.

September 6, 2014: Build a Wizard of Oz Birdhouse – Kids will learn how to build their very own birdhouse.

LEGO Stores
Every month, LEGO stores hold a free event for kids ages 6 – 14. It is the monthly mini model build. Quantities are limited and offer is good “while supplies last”. The event takes place on the first Tuesday of every month. Events begin at 5:00 in the evening.

September 2, 2014: LEGO Racing Plane – Kids will learn how to build a racing plane out of LEGOs.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free kids craft events every Saturday from 11:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. The events are for children ages 3 and up.

September 6, 2014: Owl Pencil Holder – Kids will learn how to make a cute owl pencil holder out of a styrofoam cup and some art supplies.

September 13, 2014: Build Your Name Apple – Kids will create a paper plate apple that holds paper seeds. Each seed has one letter of the child’s name on it.

September 20, 2014: Keep the Beat Den Den Drum – Kids will create and decorate a drum that they can make music with at home.

September 27, 2014: My Reading Log Bookmark – Kids will put together a bookmark that has a reading log on it. They fill it in with the title of each book that they read.

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The National School Lunch Program

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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School LunchEvery family goes through some financially difficult times. The start of a new school year brings a lot of new expenses. Are you unsure if you can afford to buy enough groceries to supply your child with a lunch every school day? There is a chance that your family might qualify for some assistance. The National School Lunch Program was designed for families who are having financial difficulties.

Who Can Qualify?
Families that are earning at or below the current income eligibility requirements can have their children qualify for the National School Lunch Program. The current guidelines are effective from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. Contact your child’s school and ask to fill out a school meal application. The school (or a local agency) should process that application and determine if your family is eligible.

Families that are currently receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may or may not have to fill out an application. Parents who are on SNAP will automatically have their child qualify for free school meals. People who are on unemployment compensation might also be eligible to have their child receive free or reduced price school meals.

School Breakfast Program
The School Breakfast Program was made permanent in 1975. The program operates in more than 89,000 schools and institutions.

Public or nonprofit schools (of high school grade or under) can participate in the School Breakfast Program. The school district (or independent school) receives cash subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal they serve.

Any child that attends a school that is participating in the School Breakfast Program can purchase a breakfast meal through that program. Kids who are from families with income at or below 130% of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals. Kids from families with slightly higher income, 130% to 185% of the Federal poverty level can be eligible for reduced price breakfasts.

Special Milk Program
The Special Milk Program provides milk to children who are eligible. The child’s school is reimbursed for the milk that they serve through the program

Kids who are in a school that participates in the Special Milk Program, or who are in a half-day pre-kindergarten program, or kindergarten program can buy milk or receive it for free. It depends on the school’s choice of program options.

Schools that participate in this program must offer only pasteurized fluid types of fat free or low-fat (1%) milk. The milk must contain vitamins A and D at levels specified by the Food and Drug Administration.

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How to Save on School Uniforms

Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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UniformsThere was a time when only private schools required students to wear a uniform. Today, there are several public schools that have instituted a dress code that requires what amounts to a school uniform. Each of your kids is going to require several “outfits” of their school uniform to get them through the week. Here are some ideas about how to save money on school uniforms.

What Still Fits?
Will your child be attending the same school that he or she did last year? If they haven’t changed the dress code, you might be in luck. There could be some uniform “pieces” that still fit your child this year. You can save some money by using them for the upcoming school year. There is a chance you might only need to purchase a few new items of clothing.

Another great way to save money on school uniforms is to take advantage of “hand-me-downs”. Older children who no longer attend the school can pass their old school uniforms to their younger siblings. Kids still attending the school can give the items they have outgrown to their little brother or sister.

Shop Department Stores
The back-to-school clothing sales are happening right now. Many department stores carry dockers, polo shirts, and other items that make up a typical school uniform. Do some “homework” and check prices at several stores before you head out the door. You might get an even better deal if you use your store credit card or loyalty card.

Try the Thrift Stores
One good thing about the types of school uniforms that many schools use is that they are made of components that are easy to find. You might be able to buy some dark blue or tan pants and skirts from the thrift store. Look for white shirts while you are there. It will be much less expensive than if you bought the same items new. Don’t forget to check out the children’s clothing stores that take donations and resell them.

Make it Last
One way to avoid having to replace clothing is to use some simple tricks that help it to last longer. Have your children take off their school uniforms and change into “play clothes” as soon as they get home. Let them get their “play clothes” dirty instead of their uniform.

Hang up the school uniform clothing that is clean enough to be worn again without washing it. Washing machines and dryers can actually wear out clothing – especially clothes that get washed frequently. Wash clothes only when they truly need it and you can extend the life of the clothing.

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