How to Save

What to Buy in May

Posted on Monday, May 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Star Wars Space Runner GameEach month comes with its own annual sales. There will also be special deals that pop up randomly. Savvy shoppers take note of when things tend to go on sale. They make their purchases at the right time and get the best deals! Here is a quick look at some of the things you should buy in May.

Star Wars Items
“May the Fourth” is the best time to buy action figures, apparel, movies, and other items that have something to do with the Star Wars franchise. Why? It is because when you say “May the Fourth” out loud it sounds a lot like “May the Force”, as in “May the Force be with you.”

The best deals might be offered online by stores that sell t-shirts, movie related items, toys, video games, or other things that geeks tend to enjoy. ThinkGeek is a good place to start shopping.

New Mattresses
Spring is the best time to buy a brand new mattress. Sales on mattresses tend to appear during Memorial Day weekend. Other sales may pop up earlier than that.

Deal News suggests that you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a 50% off discount on a new mattress. They also recommend that you price shop by checking the sales prices at stores that only sell mattresses and comparing that to the prices at department stores like Sears or JC Penny’s.

Party Items
There are a lot of holidays to celebrate that are coming up soon. Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are ones that nearly everyone is going to be aware of. Some schools could hold their graduations in May, while many others will have theirs in June. Father’s Day falls in the middle of June.

Will you be holding a party at your home? Now is a good time to stock up on inexpensive party items like paper plates, plastic cups, napkins, plastic silverware, and decorations. Try a Dollar Store first. Check to see what’s in Target’s dollar bins. Wait too long, and you will end up paying a higher price for the same items (as the holiday gets closer).

New Refrigerator
Manufactures roll out their new models of refrigerators during the summer. Stores that sell refrigerators need to move out their stock of the current models of refrigerators in order to make room for the new ones that will soon arrive. Do some price checking, and you could end up with a great deal on a brand new refrigerator.

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Save Money on Gardening

Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Tomato PlantSpring is a season that makes many people think about going outside and digging in their garden. Whether you are planning on planting flowers, or vegetables, one thing is certain. Frugal gardeners are going to want to save money on their gardening hobby. Here are some tips to help you do that.

Shop the Hardware Store
Department stores are selling cute, decorated, garden tools right now. They aren’t necessarily better than what you can find in your local hardware store – and they probably aren’t as durable. Do a price check before you make a purchase. There’s a good chance that the hardware store is selling gardening tools for a lower price. The hardware store will almost certainly have lower prices than the gardening catalogs do!

Don’t Buy More than you Need
You’ve decided that your garden has room for three tomato plants. Or, maybe you want a row of six tulips in your window box garden. Many people will start by purchasing a packet of seeds.

But, do you really need an entire package of seeds? It might be less expensive to purchase the plants instead and put them in your garden. This is especially true with tulips, which are perennial, and can “grow back” every year.

Buy Local
Let’s say you want to buy some fertilizer for your garden. See if you can find a local place to purchase it from. Bags of fertilizer are heavy, and the weight is going to add to the cost of having it shipped to you. You can avoid that extra expense by purchasing the bags of fertilizer locally and picking it up from the store yourself.

Repurpose Water
One way to save money on the cost of watering your garden is to repurpose “grey water”. Save the water that you used to wash your dishes. Collect up the bath water instead of letting it go down the drain after you are done bathing. Repurpose the water by using it to water your garden.

Another great way to collect up water is to put a rain barrel underneath your gutter. It will catch the rain water. Use that water in your garden.

Use Inexpensive Pots
Seedlings can be grown in the individual “cups” of a carton of eggs. It might be best to use an egg carton that is made of paper. Separate the individual “cups” from each other before you put in a seedling. The entire thing can be placed into your garden when the seedling is ready to be planted.

Visit the thrift store and check out local garage sales. There could be some usable pots to grow plants in. Those pots will be sold for a very frugal price.

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Simple Tips for Spring Cleaning

Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2015 at 6:24 pm
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Spring Cleaning SuppliesSpring is here and the weather is warm enough to open the windows and let some fresh air in. Now is the perfect time to give your home an intense cleaning. Send the kids outside to play and get starting on this year’s spring cleaning. Use these tips to keep things simple.

Pick a sunny day to wash windows.
The best time to give the windows of your home a good washing is on a sunny day. The bright sunshine will make all the dirt, dust, and spots really stand out. That makes it a lot easier for you to see them and wash them away. Cloudy days aren’t as optimal for this task.

Make time to wash the baseboards.
The baseboards in your home are decorative. They don’t serve a function like your kitchen sink or the table that your family eats dinner at. As a result, most people overlook the baseboards when they are doing their regular cleaning. Make time this spring to wash off all the baseboards. They will look so much better (and so will the room they are in).

Clean under the furniture.
There could be an army of dust bunnies living underneath your child’s bed! Obviously, that amount of dust is unhealthy to live with (especially for people with dust allergies). Move the bed and vacuum away the dust.

While you are at it, clean underneath your bed, the couch, and other large furniture that hasn’t been moved all winter long. Sweep behind the TV stand and the space next to the washing machine and dryer. It won’t take very long to do. It will remove a lot of dust and dirt from your home.

Start a “donate” box.
Many people discover items that they no longer want or need while they are doing their spring cleaning. Get some empty boxes before you start cleaning. Put clothing that you no longer need or want into one box and household items into the other. It is possible that you will need more than two boxes, especially if you want to get rid of a lot of stuff.

Put the boxes of items you want to donate into your vehicle so you will remember to take them to a Goodwill (or other charity that takes donated items). You might be able to get a tax write off for some of those items. Best of all, there will be less stuff cluttering up your home.

Change the filters.
The weather is warm and you probably won’t be using your furnace anymore. Now is a good time to remove the old furnace filters and replace them with fresh new ones. Clogged filters make the furnace less efficient. When winter comes, your furnace will be ready to go.

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What to Buy in April

Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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TaxesEvery month, there are annual sales that savvy shoppers can take advantage of. It helps if you know what to look for. Planning ahead, and waiting to buy something during its annual sale, is a great way to save money. Here’s a quick look at some of the things that you should buy in April.

Tax Day Freebies
Wednesday, April 15, 2015, is “Tax Day”. It is the day that all Americans must mail in their completed income tax forms. It is also the day that many cafes, restaurants, fast food places, and bars give away free stuff. Take a look at the website or Facebook page of your favorite place to eat or drink. If they are doing a freebie, there should be some details about it listed there.

The idea seems to be to make what can be a stressful time in people’s lives a little bit brighter. Of course, once a person comes in for a freebie, he or she might be tempted to make some purchases as well. Keep that in mind so you don’t end up spending more than you intended.

Spring Clothing
Depending on where you live, it might feel as though spring has just started. Even so, you will find discounts on the new spring line of clothing. You can expect to find sales that are somewhere between 15% and 30% off. (Bigger discounts will start to pop up in May). Get some spring clothing now, for a nice price, and still have time to wear it before summer comes around.

Gym Memberships
A whole lot of people rush to buy a gym membership in early January. This is directly related to the New Year’s resolutions that focus on weight loss. By April, some of those people have decided to drop their gym membership.

The weather has gotten warmer since January, and this causes many people to want to go outside and do things. People who are serious about exercise often decide to get out of the gym and do their exercising outdoors. Gyms are now in need of more members and may be offering a nice discount for new members to take advantage of.

Thrift Store Clothing
There is something unexpected that happens as a result of spring cleaning. People go through their closets and get rid of clothing that no longer fits, that is no longer in the latest style, and that they intended to wear (but then didn’t). All those clothes get donated to thrift stores.

That makes April a good month to frequent the local thrift stores. You could find some brand new items that still have their store tags on them. Everything you find at a thrift store is at a low price. This can help people who love to shop for clothing stay within their budget.

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Where to Find Free Easter Coloring Sheets

Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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crayonsIt is too early to start coloring Easter eggs (even if your kids are excited to do it). In the meantime, you could give your children a fun activity that will let them do some coloring. There are plenty of free, printable, Easter coloring pages online. Kids can color the Easter designs right now.

There are a number of ways to celebrate Easter. Some families choose to celebrate in ways that adhere closely to their religious beliefs. Other families choose to enjoy the secular aspects of Easter. There are also plenty of families who do both. There are free, printable, coloring pages that will fit with how your family likes to celebrate Easter.

Crayola.com, a big name in children’s art supplies, has a ton of coloring pages that can be printed out for free. They have a selection that goes along with many holidays, and several that are just for fun.

Easter Basket shows a large, woven, Easter basket that is filled with decorated eggs, baby chickens, and a candy Easter bunny. The spaces to color in on this page are small, and might be best for older children.

Easter Eggs is filled with a close up view of several decorated Easter eggs. This one would be interesting for kids of all ages.

Do your children watch cartoons on Nick Jr.? The website has several Easter themed coloring pages that include characters from some of the Nick Jr. cartoons.

Bubble Guppies Easter Coloring Page shows two Bubble Guppies characters who are under water. A huge Easter egg, with large stripes, sits in between them.

Max & Ruby Easter Egg Coloring Page has a drawing of Max and Ruby. She is holding a basket of Easter eggs, and wearing an Easter hat.

Looking for some religious Easter coloring pages? Here’s a few to start with:

Easter Cross comes from Crayola.com. It shows a large cross with a cloth draped across it. There are Easter lilies below the cross.

Easter Lilies also comes from Crayola.com. It shows a bouquet of Easter lilies. A sun rises in the background.

He Is Risen comes from the Ministry-To-Children website. It shows a drawing of Jesus under a banner that says “He is Risen”. There are several flowers decorating this page.

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the Frugal Way

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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st-patricks-day-luckSt. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that many people look forward to celebrating. Will you be having a party at your home this year? It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Try some of these simple tips that will help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the frugal way.

Frugal “Wearing of the Green”
One way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is by wearing green clothing. Before you purchase a brand new green t-shirt, check to see if you already have one. If you bought it new last year, and stored it away since then, it will be perfectly fine to wear again this St. Patrick’s Day.

Did you wear a funny hat or buttons with Irish slogans on them last year? Dig those out and re-use them this year. If people remember the funny hat from last year’s celebration – it probably means they liked it!

BYOB
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that inspires many people to consume alcohol. Your party doesn’t necessarily have to include alcoholic beverages, though. It depends on your guests. Will the party include people who are under the legal drinking age? Are many of your friends people who simply don’t like to drink alcohol? If so, you should spend your beverage budget on soda instead.

What if your guests love to drink? This can get incredibly expensive for a host. Make it clear that your party will be “BYOB” (or Bring Your Own Bottle). Let guests know that there will be soda, and maybe some beer, served. If they want to enjoy other beverages, they need to bring them.

Frugal Decorations
A St. Patrick’s Day party doesn’t require a whole lot of decorations. Put a green tablecloth on the table that will hold drinks and food. Use the leftover green or white paper plates and plastic cups from last year’s party. Another option is to pick up some frugal paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic silverware from a dollar store.

The dollar store might be a good place to get a couple of green balloons. Helium balloons are eye-catching. Tie them to the front of your house so guests can easily see where the party is at.

Recycling
Get a large plastic trash can that has a lid. Put a plastic garbage bag inside of it. Attach a sign to the front of it that says “recycle”. Guests who finish off a beverage that comes in a can or bottle can put it into the recycling bin. When the party is over, recycle the cans and bottles. Put a few more dollars in your pocket.

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Recipes with In-Season Asparagus

Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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seasonal, vegetables, recipesThe best time to buy fresh produce is when it is in season. Every month, certain fruits and vegetables are offered a the lowest price of the year. Take advantage of the sales and plan your meals to include them. It won’t be long before the food that is in season now goes out of season again.

Asparagus is one of the vegetables that goes in season during the month of March. It is a nutrient rich vegetable. Asparagus is high in both vitamin K and folate. It also contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, zinc, manganese, and selenium. In addition to all those good things, asparagus is high in anti-inflammatory nutrients.

One of the simplest ways to serve asparagus is to steam it. AllRecipes suggests that you use a a steamer. Put water into the bottom half of a steamer pan set. Add some salt and butter into the water and bring it to a boil.

The asparagus, after being peeled, and having the dried ends cut off, goes into the top part of the vegetable steamer. Steam the asparagus for five or ten minutes. It’s really easy!

Cooking Light has a recipe for Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus with Prosciutto. The recipe serves ten people. It requires 3 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto (that has been cut into 30 long, thin, strips). You will also need 30 asparagus spears and 10 sheets of frozen phyllo dough. The dough must be thawed. Cooking spray is recommended.

In short, you will wrap one strip of prosciutto around each asparagus spear. Coat the phyllo dough with cooking spray. Next, roll the prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears across the short end of a rectangle of phyllo dough. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the dough is golden.

Martha Stewart has a recipe for Linguine with Asparagus and Egg. Unlike the previous two recipes with asparagus, this one is an entree (instead of an appetizer). This recipe requires 3/4 of a pound of linguine, 1 pound of thin asparagus (trimmed and cut in half), unsalted butter, Parmesan cheese, and 4 large eggs.

Start by cooking the linguine according to the directions on the package. When it is done, drain it and save one cup of liquid. Put the linguine and the extra liquid back into the pot and add the asparagus, butter, and Parmesan. Toss it until the butter melts and creates a sauce. The asparagus will steam while you do this.

This recipe requires the eggs to be cooked in a skillet that has water in it. The goal is to make the eggs runny. When the eggs are done, serve one over each bowl of linguine with asparagus.

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Ways to Save Time on Cleaning

Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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washing dishesEveryone wants their home to be nice and clean. Very few people actually look forward to doing the cleaning. It’s a chore and it can be time consuming. That makes it difficult for people to get motivated to do it and hard to fit into a busy schedule. Here are some quick tips that will help you reduce the time you spend cleaning.

Rinse the dishes immediately.
Don’t have a dishwasher? Take a minute to rinse off the dinner plates before you put them in the sink. After the pots and pans cool down, put cold water in them to help soak away the stuck on food. Doing this will save you the time it would take to scrape food off the dishes while you are washing them.

Sweep the floor every night.
Take a minute or two before you call it a night and sweep the floors. At minimum, sweep the room that people first walk into when they come inside your home. Dirt gets tracked into that room first and can then spread through the rest of the house.

You can prevent that from happening if you sweep the floor and get rid of the dirt before it spreads to other rooms. Less dirt in the house means less time spent sweeping shortly before you are ready to mop the floors.

Put it in the way.
Here’s a quick trick to help you to remember to put things back where they belong, to toss out trash, or to put things into the recycling bin. Put those items in your way. You can’t forget to take them with you when you leave the room if you are literally bumping into them on your way out!

Put that recyclable next to your feet so you can’t miss it when you get up from your chair. Take the fast food trash with you when you get up from the table. You end up doing small amounts of organizing and cleaning as you go through your day. These little bits add up to save you time when you are ready to do a serious cleaning.

Don’t “dry dust”.
Make sure to use something wet when you dust. It could be a window cleaner on a paper towel, a wet anti-bacterial wipe, or water on a dishcloth. The moisture helps catch the dust. The dust then gets thrown into the trash (or the washing machine if you used a cloth).

What happens if you “dry dust”? The majority of the dust goes into the air and then settles right back down on the things you just spent time dusting. You won’t have to dust as often if you use something wet to trap the dust before it can resettle.

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Creative Ways to Repurpose Valentines

Posted on Monday, February 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm
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set of handmade valentines cardsValentine’s Day is over. What are your kids going to do with all the valentines they brought home from school? Here are some creative ways to repurpose all those valentines into something artistic.

Valentine Collage
Children can take all the valentines they received at school this year and turn them into one, colorful, piece of artwork. All you need is some glue, scissors, a sturdy piece of poster board, and some creativity.

Draw a giant heart in the center of the poster board. Glue the valentines inside it and fill up the heart. Kids can glue each valentine down as-is or cut them into smaller pieces. Keep going until the heart is full. If they like, they can draw or decorate the blank area around the heart. The finished artwork can hang in their bedroom or on their bulletin board.

Digitized Valentines
Your child wants to keep all their valentines, but you would prefer to cut down on the clutter. There is a way to do both. Teach your child how to take a photo of each of their favorite valentines (or of all of them if need be). The idea is to keep the digitized valentines and recycle the paper ones.

Make an album in your iPhoto to put the valentine photos in. You child can ask to view them when he or she wants to. Another option is to have your child put his or her favorite valentines on the table and to take a photo of the group of them. Print out that photo for your child to keep.

Make New Valentines
Turn this year’s valentines into brand new ones for next year. Older kids will be able to do this on their own. Younger kids might need a parent’s assistance. You will need red, white, pink, and purple construction paper, glue, and scissors. It is also good to create a cardboard template of a heart shape for kids to trace.

In short, your child is going to glue each valentine onto a construction paper heart. The back of the valentine is usually the part where the giver and the recipient’s name goes. No one will see it after it has been glued down. Next year, your child can write his or her name on the back of each heart, and the name of a classmate, and hand them out.

Valentine Journal
Use the valentines to encourage your child to start keeping a journal. Pick up an inexpensive spiral bound journal for him or her to use. They can tape one or two valentines on a page. Next, they can write about who the valentine came from and some nice words about that friend. Or, they can describe what they like about that particular valentine.

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Family Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas

Posted on Monday, February 9th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Let's Make ValentinesValentine’s Day is typically seen as a day for couples. It can also be a day for family fun! Spend time with your children and show them how much you love them. Try some of these family friendly Valentine’s Day activities.

Make Handmade Valentines
Time to get out the craft supplies and make handmade valentines for everyone in the family! Start with red, white, and pink construction paper. A heart shaped cookie cutter can be used as a stencil. Let your kids use crayons and draw whatever they imagine would look great on a valentine.

Families that are especially crafty can use some glue sticks to attach lace paper doilies to the valentines. Other fun options include pieces of ribbon, tissue paper (the kind you wrap gifts with), and Valentine’s Day stickers.

Not feeling very crafty? You can print out some free Valentine’s Day coloring sheets from Crayola.com. Give the finished valentines to each other or mail them to relatives who live far away.

Make Valentine’s Day Cookies
Pillsbury makes some pre-made frozen cookie dough that is already decorated with hearts. Follow the directions on the package and make some fun Valentine’s Day cookies for dessert.

Or, if you prefer, you can whip up a batch of sugar cookies using your favorite recipe. Help your kids to measure out the correct amount of each ingredient. Take turns mixing. When the cookies are done baking, and have cooled, it is time to decorate them with frosting. Use some red food coloring to turn white frosting a nice pink color.

Watch Valentine’s Day Movies
There are several kid-friendly movies that families can watch together on Valentine’s Day. Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, with the famous shared spaghetti scene, might be a good one to start with. Or, you could go with the the classic Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown which was made in 1975. There might also be Valentine’s Day movies that include your kid’s favorite characters.

Give Your Pets some Extra Love
Pets are part of the family, too! Give your dog some extra love on Valentine’s Day by taking him for a nice long walk. If the weather is too cold, you could try playing fetch in the house with a small ball or dog toy. Get out the cat toys and encourage your cat to chase them. Pets that enjoy being brushed will happily let you do that for them.

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