Friday, August 15, 2014

Upcycled Encyclopedia

Hubby calls it my 'education wreath'

Instructions and additional info to follow on Monday!




Friday, August 8, 2014

Mind your manners at my dinner table, Please.

If you follow my blog or have even read one or two of my posts, you know I'm very frugal. I like homemade and prefer not to have a full trash can when its trash day.. (recycling can is another story) I've recently switched to cloth napkins and soon will be switching to "unpaper towels."

But this post isn't about my 'mis'adventures in DIY or pinterest.

As a mom of two and hopes of more, we've become very 'creative' in how we save money, cut down on trash, and feed our kids. My problem arises when we have company......

When you sit at my dinner table with food in front of you, whether it be spaghetti, chicken wings, or homemade peach cobbler and ask me for a napkin you're going to get the same thing, every-time. A cloth napkin. If you have asked me for something to wipe your hands & face with and I've put down my fork, walked away from my food, and handed you this cloth napkin.... It is OK to use it. That's why I've given it to you. Please don't continue to ask over and over 'if its ok.' Please don't tell me its 'too pretty' to use/dirty. I know they're going to get dirty (I have two kids!)

Once someone has stared at the napkin looked around the table and then looked at me and asked "Are you sure?" That's when things get uncomfortable....

(We've become a society of instant gratification and everything is disposable. So when you hand someone a cloth napkin it just seems to turn their world upside down.)

So now I have to sit at the table, instead of eating and explain myself.... all of it. The fact that we're financially strapped, trying to save money and cut down on waste. Not that I actually have to, but otherwise I get stared at like some kind of weirdo who hands out cloth napkins.

My post today isn't about DIY and money saving. Its about minding your manners (along with your own business) and sitting down a table to enjoy food, not fret about a napkin.

People today have to be more frugal, and not to mention going back to 'old school.' By that I mean actually cooking for their families and not popping something in the microwave. Not getting that instant gratification. Because when you've hand sewn your napkins and get a compliment or make your peach cobbler from scratch, THOSE compliments mean more then any other. ( I know this paragraph is off topic!)

So the next time you sit at a table and someone hands you a cloth napkin or an 'unpaper towel'. Just smile politely and say thank you. There's a reason behind their choice, and its just that THEIR choice.

And I feel I'm done my little rant now :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My $1.09 Mini Haul - Shoprite

I went to Shoprite in Vineland, NJ strictly for the free Lady Speedsticks. Ended up with iced tea & paints for my kids!



What I bought:
  • $1.19 Lady Speedstick - on sale $0.99
  • $1.19 Lady Speedstick - on sale $0.99
  • $1.49 Honest Tea          - on sale $0.88
  • $4.99 Poster Paints       - clearance $1.25
__________________________________
$8.86 Retail Value        - $4.11 on sale value

What I used:
  • $0.88- $1.50 Honest Tea Coupon (This was emailed to me from the company) My shoprite will  only allow the value of the item ($0.88)
    • $0.12- Man Q - Multiplied (up to $1 @ my shoprite)
  • $0.50- LadySpeedStick (printable-coupons.com)
    • $0.49- Man Q - Multiplied 
  • $0.50- LadySpeedStick(printable-coupons.com)
    • $0.49- Man Q - Multiplied 
  • $0.05 Canvas bag Refund (we get 5 cents off for each bag we bring from home!!
__________________________
 $3.03 Coupons/Discounts (87.70% Savings!!)

Out of Pocket  $1.09 ( I know it should be 1.08 but they round for our sales tax :( )


My $2.42 Mini-Haul - Walmart


I went to Walmart- HOPING! to use the $3/Revlon coupons. Unfortunately they gave me a hard time and told me if there's pictures on it I can't use it for something else? (I don't know what frickin' sense that makes!)

I was told (Vineland,NJ - Wal-mart) If there is a coupon with ANY product and pictures are on it, they can only be used for whats on the pictures. If there isn't a picture it must state EXACTLY what its for. In all honesty I think it's just so they don't have couponers ending up with overages. Sigh. Another day, I will use my revlon coupons!)

So instead of getting all of my stuff for around 24 cents. It was $2.42

Here's what I bought:
$6.47 - Enfagrow
$6.47 - Enfagrow
$2.68 - Great Value Decaf Tea Bags
$1.00 - Liberte Cap. Yogurt
_____________________________
$16.62

Value Here's the coupons I used:
$3.00 - Enfagrow (Man Q exp 8/31/14)
$3.00 - Enfagrow (Man Q exp 8/31/14)
$0.20 - Liberte Yogurt - Printable Man Q
$3.00 - Enfagrow Check exp 7/31 $5.00 - Enfagrow Check exp 7/31 _____________________________
$14.20 Savings.

So I paid $2.42 out of pocket (85.44% Savings) I was really disappointed.. One, because they wouldn't let me use my Revlon coupons. Two, because in true Wal-mart fashion where out of the tea bags I had a $0.55 coupon for and last because I couldn't get my free coupon holder (because of the Revlon mix up)

- Also found a $0.20 Savingstar on the yogurt!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kids Outfit Swiss Roll

We have two kids and two diaper bags. And when we go out, we only ever use 1 diaper bag!
My daughter recently got potty trained. So now it is with great pleasure we only have to carry ONE size of diapers!!

So we carried one size of diapers, but ended up having to carry 3 back up outfits (complete!) My daughter always had a habit of peeing on her shoes too??!! So I would never think to bring 3 pairs of socks.
Here's what I came up with. This is a complete outfit (socks, undies, shirt, shorts and a hair tie)


 I lay them neatly and then just roll them in a roll and put the hair tie on it to keep it from opening and viola!!


After carrying the diaper bag with everything overflowing out of it at the store... I had to come up with a new plan!

Homemade Latte :)

I checked on pinterest for Dunkin Donuts iced latte recipe. As much as I love them, I don't like the price
I found this recipe , and as always altered it!
I used (measurements are appx)
1/2 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1/4 cup of evap. milk
2 heaping tablespoons of sugar (I like em sweet!)
1/2 whole milk
And then filled the rest of the bullet with iced black coffee.
I whirled it around to mix it all up and then poured over ice... And yummy!!
I still have some tweaks to make to get it exactly where I want.. But I didn't have my chocolate sauce made.. So I had to improvise!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How I'm saving my family a Boat Load of $$



 Here's what my 'money tree' should look like...

And here's what it really looks like.... 
 



 
I'm a mom of 2 kids under 3 years old. Recently I took a job that came with a $4/hr pay cut. (I didn't realize what a huge price.. I had put on my sanity.) So now I'm just scraping by to keep us a float.

The day I started my new job, was a Monday and at 8AM that morning I got a text from my hubby before he drove home... "I got laid off.."

Here we are with 2 kids. A new (larger) car payment. A Newish Mortgage. A $4/hr pay cut to the main household salary. What the hell are we gonna do? I cried on my first day of work....

To make matters worse... My car insurance went up slightly, electric went up, and my mortgage went up.

We have friends who complain about not having any money... but they continue smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day.. (that's like $15!!), the ones that stop at the liquor store (daily), the shop-a-holics, the over spenders, the keeping up with the Joneses...

And here we are living paycheck to paycheck. By this point I had already lowered my bills as much as I could. I can't find lower car insurance anywhere. I shopped for weeks for home owners. I don't have any frills. We only have internet and use Netflix. No Cable. No home phone.  So what the hell else could I possibly do?

Here's what I've been doing!

Balance Transfers
I took a look at my credit cards and transferred everything I could from a hire interest rate to my Citi ThankYou Rewards card, with a 0% APR! While I'll never be sure HOW much money this has saved me... I'm glad I did it!  As I pay more and more off on this card I'm continuing to transfer balances from my high interest cards to this one!

Stop using credit
I paid off my Boscovs which had the smallest balance. Now that's one less bill I have to pay each month! I've taken all of my credit cards OUT of my wallet and placed them in my safe. Literally out of sight out of mind!

Account Consolidation
At one point I think I had 5 checking accounts opened. Used 1 to pay bills. 1 for spending money. 1 as a sweep. 1 for whatever. This was causing me to feel as though I had more money then I really did. The fact was that while over a thousand dollars showed up in one account.. It was waiting for my mortgage payment to clear. I consolidated all of my accounts and only have one. And get this! I use a checkbook. Yes. Remember them? Now i have an accurate figure of what I REALLY have.. it's not pretty, but its honest!   Not to mention I was spending $3 per account monthly!

Unsubscribing to Temptations
I was subscribed to every store I shop at's mailing list. Including sales and deals of the day. Which was GREAT! I got my stuff half off! But did I really need a brand new laptop with 2 PC's (that my hubby built for both of us), a tablet, and two smart phones ? The answer was no! So I've unsubscribed from any email list where I have to spend money to actually care what the emails talking about. 

Boost Mobile
Every time I hear the Boost Mobile jingle or see the commercials... I still always see their 'Ghetto Fab' commercials from years ago. The fact is, I switched from a Verizon Pre-Paid plan (still cheaper then a contract) to Boost Mobile's Shrinkage Plan. I originally paid $60/mth. For every 6 on time payments your bill goes down $5. Well in June my bill switched from $45 to $40. By December it should be down to $35!!! This year alone will save me $110 on my phone bill! Now a days you basically pay a la carte for your cellphone, text, data and blah blah blah. I get unlimited, talk/text/msg and I believe 2G of internet. (Which I never meet) I leave my mobile data off and run off of wi-fi!

+Target 
Ok. Ok. So Wal-Mart is supposed to have these 'super dooper' prices and omg they're unbeatable.
Wal-Mart is nothing compared to Target! My hubby still works 1 day a week at +Target. So we not only has his employee discount, but the Target Red Card (5% off),Cartwheel (%varies), Target coupons and they stack with manufacturer's coupon's and checks! You can walk out of Target with a cart of groceries, a pair of jeans, and a video game for $70! I know because we just did it last night.

+MYCOKE REWARDS
I know. Your thinking.. Huh? I collect coke caps from just about everyone I know. (My mother being the worst offender) But you know what. I've been able to get myself things with it! I love +Bon App├ętit magazine. How do I pay for the $15 subscription? Coke Caps. My mom used to make fun of me... Until I ordered her +Family Circle Magazine and saved her the $6 subscription fee. I've also gotten +Country Living , which is a $12 subscription fee. And that was just THIS year! So I saved a total of $33. And get a new 'gift' each month.

+MyPoints.com
This has to be my most favorite of all. I've been a member since 2005. I've gotten countless gift cards, a tennis bracelet, and a ton of stuff. One year I cashed my points in for gift cards for Christmas presents. Christmas time I shop online A LOT, certain websites you shop at like +Groupon you get points per $1 spent.  Do searches-Get points. Print Coupons-Get Points. Redeem Coupons- Get points. Read emails-Get points. Do Surveys-Get Points. Now -> Listen to Radio-Get points! I have the radio playing all day and get 5 points for every 1/2 hour of listening. If you'd like more info... Click Here to go to the Mypoints Site.

Sharing/Rehoming/Recycling Communities
I joined freecycle a while ago. I've gotten an old commodor computer for my hubby. Toys, clothes & books for my kids. Clothes for me.. all FREE. People have a lot of junk that most of them don't want and joining these communities you can find a ton of awesome stuff! I just recently got cloth napkins...like frickin' brand new. Now I don't have to spend $2 every 2 weeks for napkins. Just throw them in with a load of wash!

Haven't paid for music.... in a long time!
Grant it.. I have bought 1 or 2 cds last year, but now I get my digital music FREE. While rummaging through my old papers I found a flyer from my old GPX MP3 player for emusic.com. It was $25 in free music to try. So I signed up. Wrote down which day my card would be billed. Downloaded $25 in music before that date and then easily cancelled my subscription! Google Play also offers a free song of the week and many new artists. Which is awesome because most of them are up and comers. So I was listening to some of today's 'hits' before they were on the radio! Plus I also got some good oldies & throwbacks. My Google Library (which CAN be downloaded) consists of 1,289 songs.

-Another neat tip. If you have a sprite cap. Go To www.sprite.com/utc and you can enter the code for a free music download!

Freebies
I sign up for any freebies I can find of stuff that I like. When they're subscription based I write on my calendar when I need to cancel my subscription before getting charged. You can get all kinds of stuff like this.

Rewards Programs
I'm signed up for Kellog's rewards,  My PawPoints (fresh step), Earth's best, basically any that I can find. While some of the stuff on there I may not need. Getting a free bowl for one of my kids or a free box of kitty litter can be an awesome thing!

Eating out is now a delicacy
We don't eat at restaurants or fast food unless we have a coupon or its a kids eat free night! 

Making Stuff from scratch & Left overs
It cost closed to $2 in store for a loaf of bread. I was given a bread machine from a fellow Freecycler. And it costs less then $1 to make a loaf of bread. Plus I still have flour to bake cookies, a cake, or cupcakes. Plus I don't have to worry about all those preservatives.

I'm not a big fan of leftovers. But at this point.. I can't afford to be picky. One night a week (at least) Is leftover night. Whatever is left from that point either gets frozen (for stews, chili, soups) or then gets thrown out. Having leftover nights has cut my wasted food by more then half.

Brown bananas? No problem. Banana bread will be in the oven in 5 minutes! (using the flour I have stocked in the pantry!) I make my own apple chips with my dehydrator, cinnamon, and a touch of brown sugar (Here's my recipe)

Bringing myCoffee/Tea, Breakfast & Lunch
Last week I looked in my bank account and realized I spent well over $35 for lunch and breakfast. And thats not including the cash (that I actually had!) that I spent. It's so hard not to want to eat at the deli next door (my mom works there) So I know the food is awesome! This week I bought bagels for breakfast ($1.15 at target), already had cream cheese and brought left overs for lunch! I've been making my own 'Frappacinos' that don't cost anywhere near the $5.60 some cents at Starbucks + the gas to drive out of my way to get there! I usually bring a big 24 ounce cup of iced tea that I've brewed at home.. which saves me the .99 cents+ tax. I will admit. I haven't been super faithful not going next door this week..(But its my PMS week, so no amount of food is enough!)

No more Brand Name clothes for me
While I know my hubby isn't big on thrift store clothes for him or the kids, I'll only be buying my clothes from a thrift store from now on. I went to the local thrift store one day last week during my lunch and walked out with a $6 out fit. I found a BRAND NEW WITH TAGS pair of Sag Harbor dress slacks for work, for $4. I paid less then 10% of the MSRP.  Which read $46. and got a nice shirt to wear over my tank tops for $2 (looked brand new) Best part, no one can even tell they're from the thrift store. I saved over $60 and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

And of course.. there's always couponing.

I'm not saying my methods will work for everyone. This is what I've done that's worked for me.  It's helped me feel like I can afford to buy a pool raft on sale, with a coupon, discount, and cartwheel.. while I slowly drift out into the 'Getting Poorer Sea'

Who knows maybe one day I'll be able to afford that boat to put all my $$ in!