Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Magazine Subscriptions

I have a couple of thoughts about these. First of all, if you find yourself buying the same magazine brand 4 times a year - you're better off with a subscription. Most mags on the shelf are 4.99 plus and the subscriptions are about $25, plus they are delivered. If you don't want to commit to the subscription, or you don't want magazine clutter around your house, there's a better option - the library. I know I sing the library song a lot, but it truly is a wonderful place. I currently read real simple, Martha Stewart Living, Sew News, Gourmet, Cooks Illustrated, Southern Living, and many more for free. I can also get my hands on back issues there. So please, if you want to read some magazines, or 'try it before you buy it' then hit up your local library - you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Double Coupons

I just discovered last night that Harris Teeter offers double coupons every day (and occasionally triple) for a face value up to .99 (which is 1.98 when doubled). That can add up to some serious savings. If you live near one, take the time to either look at their flyers or their website http://www.harristeeter.com/ and look up coupons in the search bar and it will give you all of the coupon rules.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Price Notebook (revised repost - sort of)

First of all, the original post:

If you have not done so already, you may want to keep a price notebook, or a price spreadsheet on your computer that you can print off before you go shopping. Here are the basics of this idea: keep a running record of an items price, size, store purchase and unit price so that when you are at another store, you can easily calculate whether or not it is a good deal. This is especially helpful at warehouse stores since buying in bulk is not always saving money.

Now the new part:
I was at Food Lion a couple of days ago and the quart size jar of Hellmann's was 4.79 - OMG - almost $5 for mayonnaise! MAYONNAISE! Flabbergasted doesn't even begin to describe it. Our local Wal-mart has the same jar for 3.59 - better, but still high. Yesterday I was at the Wal-Mart in E.C. with my mom (long story on how I got there), and the same jar of mayo was 2.98 and I had a .65 off coupon. Still more expensive than making it myself, but much better than buying it locally. So sad.

Locally, our Food Lion has 5oz cans of Food Lion brand tuna for .84. This is not only a price increase from .74, but they shrunk the can from 6oz to 5oz (as if no one would notice). I went to Harris Teeter a couple of weeks ago - HT brand tuna was .77for a 6oz can. I bought 10, and will probably buy 10 more each time I go. Canned tuna is a frugal family's safety net when the recipe goes bad or gets burned - hi ho it's tuna melt time! PS - the HT tuna is chunkier than the FL, which is good if like a larger flake tuna. FL tends to be mushy.

So, back to the price book. If you can, try to at least track 15 of your most commonly used items by writing down where you can buy them for the least amount of money, what that amount is, and how large the package is. I put my pricebook sheet from my excel in my coupon book so I have it when I need it. Also, if you really want to be a detective take a calculator too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Please don't ever pay money for these - just take leftover stale bread, bread heels or just over baked homemade bread and throw it in a food processor and toss them in a bag and in the freezer. Store bought ones are about 1.50 for a small canister, leftovers are free and if you don't use them, they just get wasted.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sam's Club

First of all, I am usually a die-hard bulk shopping Sam's club believer. I love the place and it suits me perfectly. However, I have been doing some comparison shopping and am sad to report that it may no longer be worth it to pay the $40 a year membership fee and gas to drive there (the nearest one to me is about 1 1/2 hours away) just to save a few bucks. When you get the opportunity, do your own comparison shopping online at www.samsclub.com and compare their prices on products to your own stores regular and sale prices. It was a mildly depressing day at my house when I discovered this - my proverbial bubble was shrunk slightly - I guess I have to find something else money-saving to refill it!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Recommendation

One of my all-time favorite frugal living books with tons of tips, tricks and thoughts on frugality is Yankee Magazine's Living Well on a Shoestring. Check you local library or yard sale for it - It's great!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I made laundry detergent!

and it wrks just like my regular

1/2 cup borax
1/4 cup washing soda
1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 bar ivory (grated)
about 1 1/2 gallons water

boil half the water
add the grated ivory, borax, washing soda and baking soda and turn heat to low and stir until all dissolved.
removed from heat and allow to cool in pot, stirring occasionally (will gel)
add remaining water and stir until well blended
add to empty container
use 1 cup per large load (adjust for smaller or extra large or extra dirty loads (just like you would regular detergent.

You may add an essential oil for fragrance if you like, I just tend to like the plain clean sent of ivory.

**********Addendum added 1/29/09**********
Here's an answer about the popular question "What is washing soda?"

Washing soda is a highly alkaline chemical compound which can be used to remove stubborn stains from laundry. It also has numerous uses around the house, and it is used in a range of industrial applications as well. Washing soda should not be confused with washing powder, which is a powdered soap used as a detergent; it is also not the same thing as baking soda, although the two compounds are closely related.
The chemical formula for washing soda is Na2CO3, and it is also known as
sodium carbonate. It is a salt of carbonic acid, a chemical which produces a wide range of salts collectively known as carbonates. One common source of washing soda is the ashes of plants; for this reason, it is sometimes called soda ash. Sodium carbonate can also be extracted from sodium chloride, also known as table salt.
In laundry, washing soda accomplishes several things. The high alkalinity of washing soda helps it act as a solvent to remove a range of stains, and unlike bleach, washing soda does not usually stain. It is also used in detergent mixtures to treat
hard water; the washing soda binds to the minerals which make water hard, allowing detergent to foam properly so that clothing will come out clean, without any residue. Sodium carbonate is also used by some textile artists, since it helps dyes adhere to fabric, resulting in deeper penetration and a longer lasting color.
Around the house, washing soda can be used to descale things like
coffee machines and bathroom tiles which may accumulate mineral deposits as a result of exposure to hard water. It can also be used to strip floors of wax so that they can be refinished, and for other touch cleaning jobs like scrubbing the stove. However, you should wear gloves when cleaning with washing soda, because it is very caustic and it can cause severe skin damage. Incidentally, the best way to treat a chemical burn is with baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, as it is a buffer and it will neutralize both acids and alkalis. Apply baking soda to the site of the burn for several minutes, flush the wound with water, and seek medical attention.
Many markets carry washing soda, typically with other laundry products. Some companies make mixed detergents with washing soda which are specifically formulated for hard water, and you can also find washing soda on your own. Since sodium carbonate can be dangerous, make sure to keep washing soda out of the reach of children and pets, and clearly label the container to indicate that it is caustic.