Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coupon savings

Last night, I purchase 2 packages of Loreal Featherlash Mascara from Rite Aid for a grand total of 23 cent, and 3 bottles of hot sauce from Harris Teeter for 18 cent.

What in the world? Easy. Rite Aid had the mascara clearance 75% which made them 1.98 each and I had 2 $2 off coupons. harris teeter had the hot sauce on sale for $1 or less each, and I had 2 coupons for 50 cent each and they double coupons. so I only paid tax last night.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pay too much for phone service?

I thought so too, but I figured I had the best deal for what I needed. At least without buying into all the gimics of free service, low cost phone service, free long distance and every other "promise" that was out there.

So, when my dad called and said he just ordered a "jack" that will essentially give him free phone service I was skeptical. However, being the thrifty, "save some money" person that I was I couldn't resist looking into it.

About 10 minutes later I ordered one too. It came with a 30 day money back guarantee. How could I lose? I ended up paying $39.95 for the jack and about $6 for shipping.

I cancelled my phone service through Comcast and have been using the magicJack for approximately 6 months now and really love not having a monthly phone bill. I can make long distance calls, I have caller ID and call waiting, 911 capabilities PLUS it's portable. That means I can unplug the magicJack from my computer and carry it with me if I'm travelling. All I need is a high speed internet connection and a regular phone with a jack and I can and receive calls. It keeps the same number and everything.

The best part is the service is about $40 - $50 per year.

I can definitely vouch for it though. All you do is hook up the jack into a USB port on your computer, follow the instructions on the screen for set up, select your telephone number and start using. One thing about the magicJack is that the computer has to be on to be able to make and receive calls. It wasn't a problem for me though since it's on during the day anyway.

The only drawback to mine is it won't connect well with my desktop, so I have to plug it in to my laptop. No problem except that I have a cord or two that I have to watch out for if I'm sitting on the couch. I think the reason it won't work on my desktop is because I have work programs on it that interfere since I work at home.

Anyway, that is my money saving tip for today!

It's definitely worth checking out!
For more info on the magicJack you can click on the link.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chicken Broth

This is too easy to make. Take any leftover chicken you have (skin, bones, grease, little bits that did get eaten), put in a crockpot, fill to within 1" of top of pot and set on high overnight. In the morning, take the pot out of the cooker, allow to cool, refrigerate until the fat hardens, skim it off, then package in 1 cup increments in the freezer. Or, fill ice cube trays with the stuff, and pop out the cubes and put them together in a bag - you'll have about 1 ounce of broth per cube. This uses up pretty much any value left in your leftover chicken carcass in a productive, cost saving way. PLus you know what in it!

That's the basic, here's the specifics
*If you only have a few little bones and skin (not a whole chicken), either use a smaller crockpot or only fill half full of water otherwise your broth will taste watered down
*You can add onion, celery, carrot, herbs, whatever you want for taste, I personally like it plain
*If visible bits of sediment in your broth bothers you, run it through a coffee filter over a clean pot, that should take care of any bits and give you a clearer broth - but do this while it's hot because the broth tends to thicken when cold
*If you've never done this before, it's an easy and almost free way to experiment - the crockpot does not use much electricity, it's only a few cups of water and you were going to have to toss the chicken carcass or bones anyway.
*Putting the chicken grease from your initial cooking in the pot is only for the purpose of flavor infusion. when you refrigerate the cooled broth, it will harden at the top and you'll easily be able to remove it for a virtually fat free broth.
*Swanson is about 1.50 a can and still contains some ingredients that I don't know what they are.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Giving up paper plates

Self-explanatory, right? I'm trying a new thing to save a few $$$. I'm giving up my paper plates.

A bit more about me, and why: I am a mom. I have three children and a husband. For my work, I have a childcare in my home. I have 4 children enrolled. I hate to do dishes. anyone could see that paper plates were saving me a ton of time. But I am picky...I didn't want the cheapest paper plates, because they get all soggy and food soaks through. And I didn't want foam, because I felt that was really bad environmentally (never researched...just my thoughts). So I liked a particular type of plate that cost between 30-45 cents per plate (depending on sale pricess, package size, etc). but when I looked at how many plates I was gets scary. 3 to 6 for breakfast, as well as lunch, 5 days a week. Thats a lot! And of course, because they are in the cabinet, they were usually used for dinners and weekends. Thats a ton of trash and $$$! I'm giving them up! Yes, I'll use a bit more dish soap and water...but not much compared to what was wasted before. It might take a little more time, too...but I'm already going to be washing the cooking utensils and pans.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dryer Sheets (or sponges in this case)

Take some of your liquid Fabric Softener (if you use it), pour it into a recloseable tub (like a used and cleaned butter/spread tub), then add twice as much water as you did fabric softener. Take 4-6 kitchen sponges (cheap kind), cut them in half and put them in the tub with the liquid and cover. When you put your clean clothes in, take a sponge out, squeeze most (but not all) of the liquid out and pop it into the dryer to tumble with the clothing. I've tried it, and now it's a regular thing for me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Homemade Pancakes

I love to make homemade pancakes for my kids. It's much healthier than the box stuff for a few reasons: I mill my own flour, so the pancakes are always fresh & whole grain; real eggs, real milk. The recipe is as follows

1 cup all purpose or fresh milled flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 tbsp veggie oil (you could probably substitute melted butter)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (not in the standard recipe, but I like it)

Mix dry
Mix wet
Mix together

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Travel Food

I don't personally care for eating in the car - it's messy, crumbly, drippy and cramped. But when you are traveling 8+ hours as we recently did - it's a necessity. The worst part about traveling that far is that the last thing you want to do is increase your travel time by stopping and eating in a restaurant, so what do you do - you get drive through. And the worst parts about drive through - it's devoid of any nutritional value and we still pay money for it. So, on the way, I planned something quick, easy, and relatively less messy. I made chicken salad and brought some crackers for hubby and I, and the kids had cheese slices, raisins and apples. They like the smaller apples because they can handle them pretty well themselved. And we drank water or had juice boxes for the kids. The cost of all of that - maybe $4 (less than the cost of 1 value meal and much healthier). If you know me well you will probably think 'juice boxes? but they're more expensive!' Yes, they are. However, having a few juice boxes handy beats trying to fill a sippy cup while riding in the seat (not that we havent' done that before - it just gets messy at times), and is worth the extra cost to save the mess and spills.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reuse - and be creative

I consider myself a moderately frugal person. I shop sales, I reuse, I reduce my waste, I trim the budget, I don't eat out, etc, etc. Tonight I had some free time so I looked up a favorite topic of mine in relation to my frugalness - reusing. I love to look at something not only for it's face value, but for the potential it has past being what it is. For instance, I look at today's jar of spaghetti sauce and see tomorrow's dry storage for bulk-purchased rice. I can look at today's cereal box (which we rarely have nowadays) and see tomorrows standing filer. Today's used coffee grounds are now being saved (in the freezer) to be reused in the spring in my flowerbed as a fertilizer enhancer (hope my herbs like Dunkin! - BTW, I did not realize this was a possibility until tonight, apparently this is an old trick from back in the day that now in this penny stretch society is coming back to light). My empty milk jugs store extra sugar, extra rice, clothespins (after being modified slightly) and even small dried beans. Why pay money for Tupperware and Rubbermaid (both of which can leach nasty carcinogenic chemicals into your food anyway) when Ragu and Classico give you sturdy glass jars for free. If you decide to keep the plastic off of your food - please don't toss the plastics, just use them for you non-food items like buttons, craft supplies, crayons, q-tips, cotton balls, safety pins, paper clips, etc. Have great day!

Homemade Cleaners

I make a homemade all-purpose cleaner for my kitchen out of water, white vinegar and lemon juice (16oz water, 2 oz white vinegar, 2 oz lemon juice). Today, I am going to try something new, I have made a rosemary infusion (cutting fresh rosemary leaves and boiling them in water for about 10 minutes then turning off the water and letting them steep for a little while) and using that in place of half of the water in my all purpose cleaner. I'm trying this for 2 reasons: 1) rosemary has antibacterial properties and 2)white vinegar can take your breath away sometimes. Plus I have 2 very prolific rosemary bushes so it's not going to cost me anything. I'll let you know how it goes!

***Review - okay, the infusion did not have an overwhelming rosemary fragrance, in fact, it had more of a medicinal/piney/woodsy scent. It was not an unpleasant scent, nor was it overpowering (not like pine-sol). I had no problem mixing it in the cleaner and using it. It did cut the vinegar scent some, but not completely out. All in all, the mix now smells woodsy/vinegary clean, which doesn't sound to swell, but it isn't bad at all. I can't wait to try a few more. Experiment with the free stuff***

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free, reusable bag at Stop n' Shop

Just in case you have a Stop n' Shop (also part of Giant) near you...

They are giving away one reusable shopping bag per family when you present your store card at checkout. Make sure you bring the bag up with you and the cashier will credit you. This goes until January 31st. (I'm not sure what the availability is and if every store is offering this, but it's worth a call just to see)

I use them all the time because they hold more than the plastic or paper bags and they have large enough handles that make them easy to carry! Love them. Love saving. Love free!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eye Glasses

Hi everyone! My name is StephG and I am honored to be posting along side Misssnippity and Mommy B.

One thing I dread when I go to the eye doctors is getting my glasses prescription (RX) and then feeling like I have to browse their optical shop for a new pair. Not that I have anything against optical shops, but the prices are pretty outrageous when you're working with a budget. (This is coming from someone who has worked in the "eye" business for over 12 years!)

Imagine my delight at finding Zenni Optical. An online optical shop with absolutely amazing prices! Now, I was slightly skeptical at first, so I did some research and digging. I was pleasantly surprised at how many people were thrilled with their service and quality of their glasses. The frames start at $8.00 and they have many options including anti reflective coating which cuts down on the glare you see on someone's lenses. Plus, the shipping is $4.95 no matter how many glasses you order!

Now, it just so happens that my step daughter had an eye exam about a week ago, and is in need of a new pair of glasses. So, I decided to go check out their site. Miya chose the frames she liked and I just ordered them today. It was so easy and I have a pair of glasses coming in about 2 weeks that I paid $28.95 for. Total. Including shipping.

One thing to remember when ordering is that you will need a copy of your current glasses RX and it must have your PD (pupillary distance) on it. If your RX doesn't have it then you'll need to call your doctor and have them give it to you. (The PD is the measurement in millimeters between the center of one pupil to the center of the other, so technically you could do this yourself if you had a mirror or someone to help you)

Definitely worth checking out if you are in need of a new pair of glasses or even a back up pair!

We should have Miya's glasses in a couple of weeks, so I'll be back with an update of our service, time frame, and satisfaction with the finished product.

Happy saving!

Free Suave shampoo-today Jan 14th only

You register at the link above to get a free coupon by mail for suave shampoo.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stretch your ground meat

Specifically, ground beef (ground chuck, sirloin, whatever you choose), but this idea might work well with other ground meats. I always add some "filler" when I make meatloaf, meatballs, or hamburgers. I throw in about a cup of oatmeal and half a cup of wheat germ with the spices (instead of bread crumbs). This helps make the meat stretch farther, and I like to think I'm tossing in a small health benefit as well. You can also use grated carrots or other "on-hand" veggies, like zucchini, onions, etc...too! (I, unfortunately, have a picky eater in my house that does not tolerate veggies, or I'd pull this trick more often!)

Friday, January 9, 2009

College Books

Hi everyone! I am Misssnippity, and I have taken Mommy B up on her invitation to post some money saving ideas. My first post is something that is dear to my heart right now, as I am still in college. Ask around to see if anyone you know has the books you need. Check bulletin boards on campus if you are close! People may be willing to get rid of books for cheap. Unfortunately, I couldn't find what I needed this time. If you ever have to buy textbooks for you, or your not just take the price offered by the school bookstore. Do a little research and find out the ISBN of the books your professors require. Then, go to a site such as (my favorite) or a simple internet search of that ISBN. You can find the same books at a much better price! I saved over $100 dollars last semester (2 classes), and this semester's savings are about $50 (one class). This was on brand-new texts. You can sometimes buy used and save even more. The site I use shipped for free, and gave me a buyback promise, which was 50% of what I paid. They even paid for the return shipping!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I have opened up this blog to a couple of ladies who are also trying to live frugally during this difficult time in history. Should they accept, that means that they too get to share their ideas and ingenuity by posting along with me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Storage Space

Okay ya'll - I know that at times I go overboard and at other times I am slow - I just take me as I am and laugh at myself occasionally.

First, I buy eggs at Harris Teeter regularly - I get 2 1/2 dozen for 2.97 (grade A large). Well, they come in a 2 piece clear plastic bin. After I finish the eggs, I'm keeping the bins to plant and sprout some seeds for my garden this year. 1 package of seeds is about $1 whereas one plant is about $2 - plus the planting and sprouting lessons are great for the kids homeschool botany lessons (okay, so a modified botany lesson since they are 2 & 4). I am planning to use one of the bins to organize my jewelry too (I don't have enough to justify purchase a box unless I see a good one at a yard sale, so for now this will do fine). One pair of earrings per well, one necklace per well, etc, etc.

Okay, number two, at the dollar tree they sell those little plastic organizer bins in several colors and sizes. I have some of the largest ones (about 13x10ish) doing different jobs around the house and yesterday I had a thought - how about using them for my messy freezer (yeah, I know some of you are WAY ahead of me on this one - duh). So, my seal-a-meal sized 'sleeves' are now nicely filed in a bin insead of falling down all over the place in my freezer causing clutter and taking up much needed space. Yay!

Third one is great, and it was my hubby's idea not mine. Do you guys love the dry erase board as much as I do? I really love them, but I hate the idea of paying $10 a pop for a good sized one. So, one day at the Home Depot, my hubby spotted a 8ftx4ft sheet of it for (drum roll here) $12. Holy cow! So, we bought it. It is very easy to cut down to whatever size you want and you can put it in an old photo frame, have hubby build a frame around it out of spare wood bits or you can just hang it up bare edge. You can have a different size piece for each room if you want. We used a chunk to top the boys play table so they can draw race tracks or rain tracks on it, I had my husband build a frame for a custom sized fit by the kitchen where I now write down my grocery list, shopping list, to do list, ideas list, meal plan, a notes section, hubby's to do list, things to keep my eyes open for list and pretty much whatever my little heart desires. Oh yeah, we still have a big chunk left he's going to hang up in the classroom as my teaching board. All for $12 and scrap wood. I love my husband's creativity.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bouillion and Bases

I love to use these in place of boxed chicken, beef or veggie broth. They cost a lot less per serving and they take up less space. I personally use the Better than Bouillion brand of all natural and organic bases. If you don't mind the MSG and other non-prounounceables, go for another brand and save yourself some cash.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The candle with staying power - or at least reuse power

I had a good idea today. I was putting away Christmas decor and it included some old candles. So, I'm trying something. I melted out the little bit of wax in the jar, dumped it and then cleaned the jar and voila! A new storage canister!

*****update - I ended up using it to store a snack - homemade granola. The airtightness seal on the candles canisters is so much tighter than on a food grade one (who knows why that would be) and my kids can't even get it open (maybe that's why). But it works great and would probably hold small amounts of things like beans, rice, brown sugar, etc. pretty well. If you buy the 50lb bags of rice or oats like I do, you can use one of these to keep a small amount handy and keep the rest in a cellar or pantry for longer term storage.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Portion Control

Okay, this is crossing into territory that makes many people (Americans especially), uncomfortable. We eat too much. Overeating costs money at the grocery store, at the clothing store and at the doctor's office. Practicing reasonable portion control will still leave you satisfied, but decrease your bottom line in all three areas. Another aspect of portion control is what you leave on your plate. Most people scrape what's left on the family's plates into the trash - basically throwing money away. Try putting less in the plate - maybe half to 2/3 the amount to start and if someone needs more - okay, then get more, if they don't, that's 1/3 to half not wasted and the money not tossed away. You may end up with more leftovers, but that's okay, you either already have a head start on dinner another night, or you can plump up your freezer's meal reserves.

Cutting food waste cuts money waste.