How to Save

The Best Things to Buy at Garage Sales

Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Collection of wedding dresses in the shopOne of the great things about shopping at garage sales is that you could end up with an excellent deal on the things you buy. The key is to understand what your current needs are and to avoid buying things that are a waste of money. Here are a few of the best things to buy at a garage sale.

Wedding Dress
Are you planning a wedding? Brand new wedding dresses can be incredibly expensive. You can save a lot of money if you buy a wedding dress from a garage sale. Check to see if it is in your size.

The dress will probably require some tailoring in order for it to fit you well (but so will a new wedding dress). Designer wedding dresses, that have not been heavily altered, can go for a fraction of their original cost when sold at a garage sale.

Baby Clothing
Babies and toddlers grow so quickly! Your budget might not allow for frequent purchases of brand new clothing. Take advantage of what you see at a garage sale. There will be some items that have never been worn, or that have only been worn once.

Typically, people sell baby clothing at a garage sale when they are done having children. It should be priced very low (because people really want to get rid of it). Select clothing that is in good condition and that will fit your baby or toddler right now. Pick a few items that you think your child will grow into within the next few months.

Hardcover Books
Book lovers quickly realize that hardcover books are way more expensive than eBooks. Those of you who prefer to read books that are in hardcover format can find awesome deals at garage sales! A lot of people are transitioning from physical books to digital ones and are looking to unload their hardcover (and softcover) books at a garage sale. The prices will be low!

Basic Tools
You won’t find a better price on a hammer or screwdriver than at a garage sale. Another good reason to buy basic tools at a garage sale is that you can immediately see if it works. Power tools, on the other hand, require you to plug them in a test them before you can find out if they are functional. If you need a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, or other basic hand tools, a garage sale is the best place to buy them.

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How to have a Successful Garage Sale

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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garage saleWhat are you going to do with all the stuff that is stored away in your garage or shed? If you haven’t used it in years, it may be time to have a garage sale. Here are some tips about how to prepare for a garage sale and make it a successful one!

Go through your stuff.
Has it been a while since you went through the stuff that has been taking up space in your garage or shed? Now is a good time to go through it. There may be a couple of things that you want to keep. Throw away (or recycle) anything that is broken. It is unlikely that you will be able to sell it as-is.

Start gathering similar items together. Get a box and fill it with kitchen related stuff. Put the baby clothing into another box. This initial step towards organization will pay off later on!

Put a price on everything.
People are more likely to consider buying something if they know what it costs. Take the time to stick a price on everything. All you need is a marker and a roll of masking tape. Stick a piece of tape on the item and write a price on it.

Don’t make the mistake of pricing items as if they were brand new. People go to garage sales because they are looking for items that are priced incredibly low. Consider making things $1.00, or $0.25. Large items like furniture or exercise equipment should be priced less than $50.00 (or they won’t sell).

Set things up in your garage.
After everything priced, it is time to organize it. Set up some card tables or other foldable tables inside your garage. Fold clothing and arrange it nicely on the tables. Put the kitchen items in a nice arrangement on another table. Like goes with like. Ideally, you want to do this prep work a few days before your garage sale. When you are ready for the garage sale, all you have to do is carry out the tables of pre-arranged items.

Get a cash box.
Where are you going to put the money that people give you after buying your stuff? A cash box is the perfect spot. You can pick one up from an office supply store. This will help keep the dollars and change organized. It is a good idea to visit your bank and pick up some quarters and single dollar bills so you can make change for customers.

Make a Craigslist ad that states the time and date of your garage sale (and your address). Post some information about it on your Facebook page. Put a sign in front of your house. All of these efforts will help attract people to your garage sale.

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Cold Soup Recipes to Beat the Summer Heat

Posted on Friday, June 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Eating SoupWhat can you serve your family for dinner on summer evenings when it is too hot to use your stove or oven? How about some refreshing, chilled, soup? Cool off with something delicious and nutritious. Here are a few recipes for soups that are intended to be served cold.

Simply Recipes has an easy recipe for Gazpacho that takes 15 minutes to prepare. It will serve 8. You will need:

* 6 ripe tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
* 1 purple onion (finely chopped)
* 1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
* 1 sweet red (or green) bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
* 2 stalks celery (chopped)
* 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
* 2 tablespoons fresh chives (chopped)
* 1 clove garlic (minced)
* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* Salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
* 6 (or more) drops of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
* 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
* 4 cups tomato juice

Combine all of the ingredients. Blend them until they reach the desired consistency. Place in a non-metal, non-reactive storage container. Cover it tightly, and refrigerate it overnight.

Chilled Cucumber Soup
Country Living has a recipe for a healthy, creamy, soup. It takes 15 minutes to prepare, and makes 6 servings. You will need:

* 2 cups Greek yogurt
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 2 English cucumbers (peeled, diced, and divided)
* 4 green onions (sliced and divided)
* 2 tablespoons fresh dill (chopped)
* 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
* 4 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
* 2 teaspoons salt

Combine the Greek yogurt and vegetable broth in a bowl. Puree 1 peeled, diced, English cucumber, 2 sliced green onions, the dill and the parsley in a food processor. Add the cucumber mixture, fresh lemon juice, and salt to the yogurt mixture. Whisk to combine it. Stir in 1 more peeled, diced English cucumber and 2 more sliced green onions. Refrigerate for 1 hour. If you like, you can garnish each serving with chopped dill and croutons.

Icy Olive Soup
Taste of Home has a recipe for Icy Olive Soup that will make 6 servings. It takes 15 minutes to prepare. You will need:

* 2 cups plain yogurt (16 ounces)
* 2 cans condensed chicken broth (undiluted) (10 and 1/2 ounce cans)
* 2 cans sliced ripe olives (drained) (2 and 1/4 ounces each)
* 1 cup cucumber (coarsely chopped)
* 1/2 cup green onions (chopped)
* 1/2 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
* 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
* Seasoned croutons (optional)

Stir the yogurt in a large bowl until it is smooth. Whisk in the broth. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover it. Refrigerate it for 4 hours. Stir it again before serving. Garnish with croutons if you want to.

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How to Pick Ripe Melons

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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WatermelonHow can you tell which melon you should buy from the grocery store? Is it better if the melon is heavy, or light? Can you tell if the melon is ripe by the smell? Should you tap the melon and listen to the sound? If so, do you know what you are actually listening for? Here are some helpful hints that will teach you how to pick ripe melons from the grocery store.

One of the foods that is in season during the month of June is the beloved watermelon. You definitely want to make sure that you pick a ripe one from the selection at the grocery store.

The What About Watermelon blog suggests the following:

* Look for a watermelon that is firm. It should be symmetrical and should not have any major bruises or scars. (Minor scratches are ok). You want to choose a watermelon that is dark green in color.

* Pick up the watermelon. The heaviest watermelons have the most water in them. Watermelons are actually 92% water. It stands to reason that they should be nice and heavy.

* Turn the watermelon over and look for the “ground spot”. It is the area where the watermelon sat on the ground. That spot will be a creamy yellow color (because it didn’t get to see any sun while the watermelon was growing). Avoid watermelons that have a “ground spot” that is white or greenish. It isn’t ripe yet!

What about tapping the watermelon? The What About Watermelon blog says that tapping the watermelon doesn’t provide any useful information. There is some debate over what the taps should sound like. There isn’t a definitive agreement on which sounds mean that the watermelon is a good one.

The I Adore Food blog suggests you take a look at a cantaloupe’s “belly button”. Yes, really! The “belly button” is a circular area located at the top of the cantaloupe. It is where the melon was connected to the vine while it was growing.

If you find the cantaloupe’s “belly button” it means that it was cut from the vine. Ideally, cantaloupes should separate from the vine on their own once they are ripe. The ones that have a “belly button” were cut before they finished ripening. Pick a cantaloupe that lacks a “belly button”.

Don’t buy a cantaloupe that has a sticky or waxy skin. The skin should be dry and feel sort of like a cork. Look for a cantaloupe that is symmetrical in shape and heavy for its size.

Smell is important. The cantaloupe should smell good. Put it on your counter at home, and pay attention to the smell. It may be continuing to ripen! Cantaloupes will be at their “ripeness peak” for about 3 days (so eat it while it smells good).

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June in Season Fruits and Vegetables

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Strawberry WaterJune is National Fruit and Vegetable Month. Now is a good time to add more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Start with the ones that are in season during the month of June. Produce that is in season typically is at its lowest price of the entire year!

The Huffington Post points out five produce “superstars” that reach their peak season in June.

* Cherries – low calorie and contain antioxidants, lycopene, fiber and vitamin C
* Cucumber – 96% water and contains vitamins A, C, K and magnesium and potassium
* Okra – good source of fiber and vitamins A, B6, C and K and calcium and magnesium
* Papaya – one medium papaya contains nearly 70% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A (and 3 times your intake of vitamin C).
* Plums – rich in vitamins A, C, and K and also a good source of fiber

Woman’s Day has put together a short list of fruits and vegetables that are in season in June.

* Apricots
* Blueberries
* Cherries
* Kiwi
* Peaches
* Nectarines
* Strawberries
* Watermelon

* Beets
* Corn
* Green Beans
* Peas
* Yellow Squash

The Vedge has a list of produce that is in season in North America. It includes everything from the Woman’s Day list, and adds some more.

* Blackberries
* Cantaloupe
* Figs
* Lemons
* Passionfruit
* Pineapple
* Plums

* Arugula
* Bell Peppers
* Carrots
* Cucumber
* Kohlrabi
* Lettuce and Salad Leaves
* Radishes
* Spinach
* Zucchini

The Vedge also has a separate list of the produce that is in season in June for the UK and another list for Australia. All three lists are posted on the same page (and clearly marked).

Would you like to find in season produce that is more specific to where you live? Epicurious has a Seasonal Ingredient Map. It is interactive.

Scroll through the bar at the top to select a month (it is currently set for June). Click on your state. A short list of in season produce will appear along with a link to a description of that ingredient and a link to recipes and cooking tips for that particular type of produce.

This month, start adding some slices of banana to your cereal. Toss chunks of freshly cut apple into some oatmeal. Grill some ears of corn on the barbecue for dinner. Throw together a salad with lettuce leaves or spinach, and add some strawberries. These are just a few ideas of what you can do with the June fruits and vegetables.

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Frugal Educational Activities for Kids

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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art suppliesSummer vacation is fun, and something many children look forward to. Unfortunately, it is also a time when kids tend to forget some of what they learned last school year. Parents can help keep their kid’s academic skills, and love for learning, growing all summer long. Have your kids participate in some of these frugal educational activities.

Michaels Passport to Imagination
Spend $2.00 (per child) for 2 hours of in-store summer crafting fun! These kids craft classes will take place on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting at 10:00 in the morning and ending at noon. Parents who want their child to participate must sign them up on the Michael’s website. The first week begins June 16, 2014, and the last week will be August 1, 2014.

The theme is “museum road trip”. Every week, for 7 weeks, the craft classes focus on a different museum. For example, Week One focuses on the Field Museum in Chicago. There are three days of related crafts planned, including some “at home projects”. Parents can download all the projects from the Michaels website.

LEGO KidsFest
This summer, the LEGO KidsFest is coming to Georgia and Texas. More LEGO KidsFests will take place in the fall, in Virginia and Indiana. Each LEGO KidsFest includes creative and educational activities for the whole family to participate in. There will be LEGO and DUPLO Construction Zones, LEGO models on display, group builds, and more.

Visit the LEGO website for more details about dates and locations of the upcoming KidsFests. Children under the age of 2 can get in for free. Tickets are $20.00 for children age 3 through 17 (and also for Seniors). Tickets for adults are $22.00. Strollers are permitted, and so are cameras and video cameras.

Pottery Barn Kids Story Time
Pottery Barn Kids will be having Story Time every Tuesday, starting at 11:00 in the morning. Kids can become a book club member and receive a book club passport at their first story time, and a special gift after attending five story times. It is free to attend, and does not require registration.

On June 28, 2014, they will be holding a special Super Hero Celebration. Kids are invited to dress as their favorite super hero. They can create their own super hero mask and take home an exclusive super hero activity guide. Select stores may have a visit from Spider-Man or Captain America. Contact the Pottery Barn Kids store near you for details. This event will encourage kids to use their imaginations!

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Save on Hotel Rooms with Trivago

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm
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TrivagoWe all know planning the perfect summer getaway can be time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be when you use Trivago. Trivago helps you compare hotel prices and find the perfect fit for your family. With access to over 700,000 hotels worldwide finding an affordable option should be a breeze. Sign up and see what’s in your family’s budget here with Trivago.

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Father’s Day Crafts that Kids Can Make

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Father and DaughterWhat are your children going to give their dad as a Father’s Day Gift? It’s always the thought that counts, not the amount of money that was spent on the gift. Here are some cute, handmade, Father’s Day crafts that kids can make. Little kids might a little help from mom.

Father’s Day Cutout Frame
Martha Stewart has a downloadable template that you can use to make a photo frame that says “DAD”. You will need some card stock for the frame, a few paper clips, and some adorable photos of the kids.

Children who are able to use scissors can cut around the letters in the frame. Older kids might be able to cut out the inside parts. (Or, mom can help with that). Have your children help select the photos that will go in the frame. Bend two paper clips and attach them to the back of the frame, near the bottom. This will help the frame to stand up.

Decorated Rock Paper Weight
Better Homes and Gardens has a simple Father’s Day craft that can be adapted to fit the skill level of any child. All you need is a smooth rock and some fabric scraps.

Kids can use a paintbrush to paint some decoupage onto the stone. Press a fabric scrap onto it, and smooth it out. The same method can be used with decorative scrapbook paper instead of fabric. Another option is to let your kid paint the stone with different colors of acrylic paint.

Wallet Art
All Kids Network has a simple idea for a Father’s Day gift. Children can paint, or draw, on a credit card sized piece of paper or card stock. They suggest you laminate the finished artwork, to make it a bit more sturdy.

Many dads carry photos of their children in their wallet. This gift gives a dad the opportunity to carry, and show off, their child’s beautiful artwork. Check out the photos on the All Kids Network website for some cute examples.

Handprint Art
Babies grow so fast! Believe it or not, babies can make art (with some help from a parent). All you need is some card stock. Cardboard will do. Gently press your baby’s hand into some child-friendly paint. Pat that hand onto the card stock. When it dries, put it into a frame. It is sure to bring a smile to the face of any new dad.

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Frugal Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Mowing Lawn iStockFather’s Day is June 15 this year. What gift are you going to give your dad? Some dads are really easy to shop for. They always want the same thing. Other dads, however, make gift giving a bit more difficult. Here are some frugal ideas for Father’s Day gifts to consider.

Mow the Lawn
There are a lot of dads who end up stuck with the chore of mowing the lawn on their day off. Surprise the dad in your life by mowing the lawn for him. The kids can help by pulling weeds or sweeping driveways, porches, and sidewalks. Or, you could hire someone to come over and mow the lawn (and do some yard work) so dad won’t have to. See if you can get a good deal from a local landscaping company. Another option is to have your teenager do the yard work a specific number of times.

Framed Photo of the Kids
This simple idea works well for dads who happen to work in an office. You can pick up a nice photo frame from your favorite department store. Sometimes, dollar stores have lovely frames, too. Select one that will sit on a desk. Add a recent photo of the kids. Or, select a photo from the most recent family vacation. The framed photo can bring a smile to his face on stressful work days.

Gift Card
Got a dad that’s really difficult to buy for? There are some dads who are hard to buy for because they have a habit of buying stuff for themselves all the time. Other dads have eclectic tastes that make it hard to find gifts that will match his interests. You can’t go wrong with a gift card. The next time dad buys something for himself, he won’t have to spend his own money on it.

Game Time
Is your dad a gamer? What about the father of your kids? If he plays an online game that has a subscription fee, you can pay that fee for him. It is possible to purchase gift cards for World of Warcraft and other online games. Put the gift card into his Father’s Day card so he will know you have bought him more time to play.

What if he loves to play online games with his buddies, but the game doesn’t require a subscription? You can still give him some game time. Make a “coupon” that your husband can use when he wants some uninterrupted game time. Write down the number of hours on the coupon. Be prepared to watch the kids while he uses his Father’s Day gift.

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Frugal Kids Events in June

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Kids CraftsSchool lets out for summer vacation at the end of May or a few weeks into June. Parents are going to need to find some ways to keep their kids entertained. Children who like to create art or build things will find the following kids events to be a lot of fun. Here are some free and frugal kids events that your children can attend in June.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow offers free kids clinics on Saturdays. Each child will receive a free apron, goggles, patch, and the opportunity to build a wooden project. You must register your child ahead of time if you want him or her to attend.

June 14, 2014: Build Toothless – Children will build their very own Toothless dragon. This project is connected to the “How to Train your Dragon 2” movie that will hit theaters on June 13, 2014. This event will begin at 10:00 in the morning.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free crafts for kids every Saturday starting at 11:00 in the morning and ending at 3:00 in the afternoon. The event is for children age 3 and up. No reservations are necessary.

June 7, 2014: “Let’s Bug Out” event – Children will make three bug related crafts. They can build “Buggy Goggles” that have antenna. They can decorate a pre-cut butterfly with glitter and other decorations. They can also make a “Lively Ladybug” out of paper plates.

June 14, 2014: “Father’s Day Pencil Holder” – Kids can make a cute, and useful, gift to give their dad on Father’s Day.

June 21, 2014: “My Summer Break Journal” – Kids can decorate a paper journal that they can use to write about the things they do on their summer break from school.

June 28, 2014: “Summer Memories Frame” – Kids can decorate a photo frame. Later, they can add a photo of something fun they did with their family during summer vacation.

Barnes & Noble
Some Barnes & Noble stores will be having a Father’s Day Storytime event on June 14, 2014. It will feature the book Mighty Dads. There will be a Father’s Day card-making craft and other activities. Use the search on the Barnes & Noble website to see if your local store will be participating.

Home Depot
Home Depot offers free kids events on the first Saturday of each month. They are DIY workshops for kids of all ages. Children will receive a free workshop apron, certificate of achievement and a commemorative pin. Registration is required.

June 7, 2014: “Build a Pint-Size Riding Lawn Mower” – Kids will put together a small, wooden, riding lawnmower. This event will begin at 9:00 in the morning is is scheduled on a “first come/first serve” basis.

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