I’m on vacation. So here’s what I got for you today. Don’t spend your money. Save your money. Or at least don’t spend more than you make. There you have it. I am out until Monday when I will return with a big announcement. Please remain on the edge of your seat until then.
- I have deep seeded dishwasher issues. Let’s just get that out in the open.
- You should arrange your silverware in your dishwasher in an orderly and slightly anal fashion.
- Cascade rocks, whether liquid or little cubes of ingeniousness. And although it is typically a bit pricey you can usually stock up when Walgreens is doing a P&G deal (see how I threw in an extra little frugal tip? That’s a freebie)
Now here is a dishwasher confession. Despite my anal retentive dishwasher ways, I have never been one to use a rinse aid. It just always seemed like an extra unneeded expense and when I use Cascade my dishes don’t really get rinse spots (reason #49 I love Cascade). However, I read that it speeds drying time and if you live in a place with really hard water it is essential. Do you use it? Just curious.
Anyhoo, I recently read that one of God’s greatest inventions, vinegar, is an excellent rinse aid (reason #366 I love vinegar). Bonus: way better than commercial rinse aids for the environment. All you do is unscrew the rinse aid cap and fill the well with white vinegar. Bonus #2: if your dishwasher parts or the inside of your dishwasher is looking a bit dirty, fill the actual detergent dispenser with vinegar and run and empty load (also gets rid of funky towel syndrome). Then when people come over you can distract them from the messiness in the rest of your house with the sparkling inside of your dishwasher (as well as it’s perfect organization and appropriately sorted silverware containers…well that would impress me).
For more frugal tips, head over to Biblical Womanhood.
Frugal Fridays- The Farmer’s Market June 19, 2008
One of my favorite things about summer has always been garage sale-ing, but this year I seem to be immune to their siren song. It has been replaced by the lure of the farmer’s market. It has become my new Friday morning ritual to head there and pick up some treasures for the week. I promise you that grocery store produce doesn’t hold a candle to this stuff and I find it to typically be cheaper also. But even when it isn’t, sometimes being frugal is about getting the most bang for your buck.
Here are my tips for enjoying the experience:
- Do your homework: Make sure you know what dates the market is open throughout the year. Here in the Midwest, we only get this opportunity for a few months a year. Some markets are open one day a week, some several, but they aren’t usually the same from market to market. I happen to like to shop on Friday because it isn’t a crazy mob scene, but I also recognize there are more vendors available on the weekends. You decide which part of that trade off is most important to you.
- To Bring Kids or Not Bring Kids, That is the Question: I vote no if you can help it. It depends on how old your kids are and how stroller friendly the market is. I think it is a great experience to show kids an alternative to the bright lights of a grocery store and help them recognize that food doesn’t actually “come from” there, but I am more sane without them there. And find it easier to shop without hearing “can we get that?” whenever we pass a pastry stand. I have a hard enough time passing it up myself.
- Take Your Time: I like to check out all or most of the booths before making my selection to compare prices and see what all is being offered. That beingsaid, don’t be afraid to buy from many different vendors if several have what you want. I have found myself becominga bit partial to one particular farmer cause he always has his whole family involved. Somethingabout gettingyour something from a 7 year old working the family business just makes me want to hand over my cash. To clarify, that would slighty depend on what the “family business” is.
- Visit the ATM: No one is ever going to say no to: “Do you take cash?” They might to a check. A lot of markets participate in WIC so ask around if that is something your family qualifies for.
- Be adventurous: I want to take my own advice on this one. See a strange fruit or veggie? Ask about it and try it out. Some vendors will offer you samples. Experiment with local produce that is in season in your cooking. This is the best place to do it because you can get the info right from the source. Also expect to find lots more than produce. You can find some great meats, cheeses, plants and even crafts for sale depending on your market.
- Bust out the reusable shopping bags: Want to fit in with all the crunchy regulars? Reusable bags are a must. Birkenstocks are optional.
Apparently there are close to 3000 of these babies in the US so there is most likely one near you. Not sure how thorough this directory is, but you might want to check it out. If you live in a rural community without an actual market, even better. There is nothing like grabbing some produce out of the back of a pick up truck parked by the side of the road. That’s how I thought everyone got their sweet corn, growing up in Iowa. I would advise you to make sure they are actually try to SELL produce out of the back of the pick up truck. Grabbing food from a stranger and making a run for it is generally frowned upon. Unless it is chocolate and I am PMSing. Then I can’t be held responsible for my actions.
For more frugal tips, head over to Biblical Womanhood.
Frugal Friday- Sell Your Books June 12, 2008
Since it’s my birthday and I want to spend time enjoying it with the family, not dreaming up blog posts so I am cheating a bit and re-posting a (very) oldie, but a goodie. In fact, I have recently begun retaking my own advice and cleaning off the bookshelf. So I hope you enjoy my “cheating” post and if you want, enter my birthday contest while you’re at it.
So everyone knows you can sell anything on Ebay and buy books on Amazon, but did you know that Amazon is a great place to sell books. It is incredibly easy and a great way to make a little cash from the overstocked bookshelves in your home (or is that just my home?).
If you go to Amazon and type in the title of your book, there is a place on the right side of the page where you can click “Sell Your Books Here.” You simply put in the condition of your book and how much you want for it, and wait for a buyer. Obviously the lower price you list your book at, the better chance it has of selling. Amazon factors shipping into what they pay you and takes a small cut. You are then responsible for mailing the book out to the buyer within a certain window of time. My philosophy is, it never hurts to see what the going rate is so give any old book you want to get rid of a try.
This works well for old text books, obscure books, out of print books, etc. This does not work well for really popular books such as Oprah or Today show book club recommendations because everyone and their dog is trying to sell the same book and listing them at a penny. However, your bonus tip for the day (at no extra charge) is that if you are looking for those kinds of books, look for used ones on Amazon.
So I think it is a win-win. You clean off your cluttered book shelves of books you will never look at again and you can make a little money in the process. Happy selling!
Frugal Friday- Summer Reading Extravaganza!! June 5, 2008
You know when you really love to do something, the joy is just in doing it. But it’s always such a nice bonus when we get rewarded for something we already love to do (if only someone would pay me to sit around in my pjs, eating chocolate and reading People magazine). My daughter, Lily, would sit in her room surrounded by books and read for hours. Then she would come downstairs and read for a few more. This could not make me happier and brings her a lot of joy. However this summer we are going to let all this reading work for us.
Barnes & Nobleis having a summer reading program in which your child (grades 1-6) can read any 8 books and fill out a reading journal and get a coupon for a free book (from a pre-selected list). You must bring in your completed journal between May 29th and Sept. 2 (which is a mighty long time to read 8 books unless your 9 year old is reading War and Peace). Now, Lily doesn’t fit the age requirement, but we are going to try it anyway and see what happens because we will definitely be reading 8 books this summer. If you live in Michigan and want to try a variation on the theme, head on over and check out what Big Binder has to say about Schuler Book’s Summer Reading Program (for that one you get CASH!!-bonus).
Scholastic also has a summer readingprogram in which for every 4 books you read, Scholastic will donate 1 book to a child in need. I could not be more thrilled with this program because it combines two major things I am trying to instill in my children- a love of reading, and a desire to be generous with others. Two birds, one stone. The cool thing is that kids create their own user ID and can log in their books themselves to see their progress and how many books they have donated. I think this will be really motivating to Lily. It also makes age appropriate book recommendations which of course they want you to buy, but in the spirit of frugality, I will be checking them out at the library (as if you haven’t gotten enough of my money with those blasted book forms you send home).
This leads me to my final summer reading program recommendation. Most local libraries run summer reading programs and many offer little prizes, incentives or even drawings for really big prizes. Make sure to check out your local library and sign up. The best part of all of these clubs is they are encouraging reading which is frankly the best free entertainment I can think of for a kid. And what is more frugal than free?
Frugal Fridays- Cheap Cleaning May 29, 2008
One more post about cleaning and then I should probably spend some time….cleaning. The house has begun to fall apart around me while I run the garage sale of the century. Although my sink is still shiny!!! (I really can’t take credit, my mom came over today and did my dishes while I wasn’t looking).
Do you know you can clean on the cheap by making your own cleaning products? The easiest is vinegar and water in equal parts. You can use it to clean countertops and floors in the kitchen and bathroom. I just keep mine in a spray bottle from sold old cleaner I ran out of.
The other miracle cleaner we all have sitting around the house is baking soda. Sprinkle it on your sponge to get rid of tougher stains in the tub and kitchen sink. You can also use it to unclog drains instead of that yucky Drano stuff. Finally, mix some rubbing alcohol and water and you got a great window cleaner. You can also use it to keep your sink shiny- flylady style.
Now you are thinking, what about my wood surfaces. However will I dust? I just avoid it, problem solved. But if you prefer your house to not have thick layers of dust on every surface, you can make your own with 1 cup of olive oil to 1/2 cup of lemon juice.
Any I forgot? I am newly replacing my pricey and environmentally poopy cleaners with the homemade kind so I would love any tips on what works at your house. Saving money and the environment. Doesn’t that earn my some sort of tiara?
Frugal Fridays- Walgreens Coupon!! May 22, 2008
So I am about 5 diapers away from a naked baby’s bottom. Or an early potty training adventure. I have been looking for a good diaper deal, but there aren’t any this week so I was trying to make it until the next sales cycle this Sunday. That doesn’t seem to be happening.
So imagine my delight when I stumbled across this. I still have a $3 register reward and some diaper coupons so I think I can turn this into a great deal. It’s only good on Friday the 23rd so head to Walgreens and pick up something good. Maybe the last of the Easy Saver free after rebate products. I heart Walgreens 🙂