Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Save $$ on outdoor items

Finally, we have begun to experience the life of spring in the Midwest. Today's 65 degree temps allowed me to get in a little "garden prep" after work.

If you have a home with shutters (which we do) and/or if you have windowboxes and/or flowerboxes, you probably know by now that after so many years of sun and weather they begin to fade/get dirty spots etc...

What to do?? Well, of course if you have nothing better to do than spend $$...purchase all new. Nothing against you if you do. However, over the past few years, I have learned how to give them new life. This is not rocket science here, but some may not have thought of this or realize.

If your shutters are faded and the color is 40 shades lighter than it used to be or if they have turned from maroon to a hot pink color...take a little trip to the store. I recommend the following types of spray paint simply because I have used them and they work wonderfully: Valspar (sold in a variety of colors at Lowe's) --satin finish-- or Krylon (sold at WMT and many other places) --satin finish. This is the perfect opportunity to get a new color for your shutters as well (if you wish). Maybe you are tired of the standard 6-7 sold everywhere colors (black, green, navy, tan, white, brown, & cranberry)--get a new color that you like and be different.
I can paint 4 shutters (pretty much standard sized) with one can. Each can runs between $3-4. That is MUCH cheaper than the $25 and up price you would pay to purchase new pairs of shutters.

My latest venture has been to "help" my windowboxes. Our house has quite a few windows and therefore, quite a few windowboxes. I got them on clearance probably 7-8 years ago. They have held up wonderfully to be honest, but the main problem is the dots of dirty black that have begun to make them look very drab! I know some use a bleach solution to clean them, but this didn't work for me. I was highly tempted to just replace them all when I was shopping at Target the other day. However, after seeing that the new ones were lesser quality and the cost it would take...I decided to go a different route. You guessed it...spray paint them!

Since it was warm enough today, I began painting them in a mocha color. Six are finished and it only took one can. That's way cheaper than replacing! The same can be done for flowerpots that look drab & yucky. One tip...purchase the trigger handle that can be placed on the can and your hands will not be tired or aching after all of the painting. The upside to painting...much less trash than getting new and throwing all of them away. Only a few more to go and they will look like new in a new color.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sign Up

Some of you may not want to do this because you contest that stores track your spending patterns whi ch I'm sure is it goes...

If you look at people's keychains these days, it doesn't take long to notice all of the little cards. Usually, these cards are for places the person shops. We have for instance: Pet Smart, Kroger, American Eagle and others. The others not mentioned are not on the keychain because we shop there too infrequently. KMart has recently joined the bandwagon, CVS is there, County Market, and on and on. Well, the bonus in it for you is the deals you get for having the cards. So far, I like American Eagle and Kroger cards the best. American Eagle gives you points for the dollars you spend in their store. Every quarter, they send you a coupon to use in their store for up to 40% off. This can be used on sale items and for up to $500. worth of stuff. That said, it makes clothing really inexpensive. They also will send a coupon for Aerie for the same percentage off. Kroger's incentive is the gas discount of .10 off per gallon for every $100 you spend in groceries.

So, signing up and getting the cards are pretty simple. It is just a matter of you wanting/not wanting stores to track spending habits.

Another more recent thing is the coupon machine showing up at registers where you shop. If you use a credit/debit card at stores with the register coupon machines such as Kroger/Target, it spits out coupons after each transaction for items in categories that it has tracked your purchasing. For instance: we purchased several clearance bags of Starbucks coffee in January at Target so it has given us coffee coupons on our recent visits. Others that we get are for cleaning products and toiletries which come in quite handy. Sometimes it gets really generous and spits out 4-5 coupons per transaction.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl ad offers

So, there are two that I have seen:

register for free Dockers at Dockers dot com (they are giving away thousands of pairs of pants)

free Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's from 6a-2p on Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Maybe this year Denny's will be more prepared for the response of the "free breakfasts". They have extended the hours I see...hopefully they don't run out of eggs!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Free Shutterfly Book

**update...I could not get this to work**

I love Shutterfly books--my favorite actually. They are offering a free 7"x9" book with the code READYMADEBOOK . Pay only $5 for shipping. Head on over to Shutterfly to take advantage and maybe get some of your winter photos or Christmas photos put into an album.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Re-Using Shopping Bags & Boxes

Long before the concept of "green" became a global phenomenon, I would like to think that we were already practicing our own concepts of green...mostly to $ave.

One thing we have done for years is to reuse the plastic bags we get at the grocery store for bathroom trash bags. This eliminated the need for us to purchase bags for those little trash cans we have around the house as well as special bags for diapers when our children were wearing them.

Now, what to do with those "nicer" shopping bags with fancy handles that you get at some stores?
Well, I've found a few things...
*if they have nice ribbon handles as many of them do...use them to make cards or as ribbon for a little girl's hair. They are super cute!
*use it to hold items that need filed away--I use this in my closet
*today's new use...label/mark which seasonal decoration and where it goes and store Christmas lights and greenery in them. The bags stand up nicely and look nice lined up on a shelf. This saves from buying tons and tons of totes.
*store blankets/towels that are not used often in them
*use them to put clothes in once you clean out your closet--ready for the next garage sale or Craigslist or whatever--once again saving you from buying more totes

I must confess that I am not a "box" girl. I really hate boxes. The only cardboard boxes we have are the ones that the Christmas tree is in--and I honestly don't like those.
That said, what do to do with the gazillions of boxes that can come your way??

Well, I have learned (thanks to my job) how expensive boxes really are. That alone, motivates me to keep them from the trash at our house. I don't know about you, but I hate boxes in the trash as well--why?? It fills the can up SO fast. In our area, we have to have them broken down and they don't like them outside the trash there ya go--lots of extra work.
Usually, when I get a package in the mail, I put the box out on the porch and then grab them on my way to work. We reuse them and send them out again at work all of the time. It makes me happy to save us money.
If I don't take it to work (which is rare), I keep them for my own ebay sales or Christmas items. This is usually only around Christmas that I use them.
If your work doesn't ship anything, maybe set them out by the trash so people that are moving or are in need of them can pick them up. I'm not gonna lie...I saw someone with several boxes neatly stacked by the curb in the recycle bin and I picked them up for shipping.

Think of ways to re-purpose items that you get on a regular basis. It just may save you some money!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Read the package--carefully!

Hopefully, you get the idea that I write this blog from personal experience because I do.
Today, while grocery shopping, I once again realized the importance of checking the package. This was also true the other day when shopping for paper towels.

I will confess that we have a couple of preferred brands of toilet paper. We have tried others only to realize that there are probably 2 out there that we really like. Anyway, I only try to buy it when on good sale. If I buy enough, it will hold me until the next time. Don't worry, it only means 1 or 2 usually.

Today, I was in Kroger buying TP as one of the preferred brands is on sale. There were 3 types of the same brand on sale. While we are preferential on brand, we don't care if it has "Aloe" or is Super soft or really strong or whatever. So, since I had 3 choices, I decided to look at the package to see if there was any difference in "amount". They all had the 12=24 rolls in them, but I'm getting down to sq ft. here. The one I looked at said 279.30 or something close to that. I picked up the other and it said 430.8 sq ft. WOW! That's quite a bit more for the same price!! The difference with the one I chose was it had more sheets per roll thus equaling more TP for the $$. In case you haven't noticed, paper goods along with everything else has gone up in recent times! I like to stretch my dollar further while still getting what we like!
Now, seriously I didn't have a coupon or anything, but that little "check" took merely seconds.

The same was true the other day when I purchased paper towels. Same price packages, but always check for the one that has more. This is also true of baby wipes. They range anywhere from 64 to 80. In case you didn't guess, I go for the pack with 80 =).

On laundry soap, I have a #1 preference of brand as well. It comes in the orange bottle. That is one thing that I try to get on sale and have a coupon for as well. They try to attract consumers with the kind that has Febreze or whatever in it. I'm not particularly interested in that so much as how much of it I'm getting. If you check, the more standard ones without all of the specialties usually have more ounces for the same price. Now, if you prefer it with special bells and whistles go for it.

Check it out next time you are at the store and make your dollars stretch further!

Off to file my taxes now!! Don't forget to be gathering or filing soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keep the Cold Out

It has been like Antarctica here for a few weeks now. Actually, as of today we are starting to see the more positive side of the thermometer. Either way, anytime is a good time to $ave on the energy bill as well as conserve.

What we do:

--close extra doors to un-used/rarely used rooms and close the vents to those rooms--this forces extra heat in the rooms where you really want it.
--use lined roman shades (we just got them for the last remaining room today)
--(it is working wonderfully) and we found these at Lowe's
--after cooking dinner and turning the oven off, open the oven door a bit to let some nice warm heat into the kitchen (make sure pets/children stay clear)
--make sure outside doors are tightly closed
--if it isn't necessary, don't open the curtain or blind for the day (i.e.--I don't see a need to open the roman shade in the girl's closet esp when it's cold)
--turn the thermostat down when going to bed and use a nice blanket instead (personally, I hate it being too warm when I sleep)
--light candles for nice ambiance, warmth, and turn off some of your other lights

Waiting for spring!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tips for today

There's lots to talk about today...

Everyone should begin getting there W-2's soon so be getting your tax docs together so that you can file early. I recommend taxactonline dot com. We have used it for probably 7-8 years and it's free for federal and works great! It's very easy and I do our taxes as well as some family member's each year. Why file early-- well, only if you are getting a refund--obviously...
File early and online with electronic deposit. It takes usually 7-10 days to get it in your bank--now I call that pretty fast! Who doesn't like some extra ca$h in Jan/Feb?
Also, one can never tell if a state or the gov't will run out of money and issue IOU's. I would rather have $$ than an IOU from the gov't--how about you??
I do practice what I preach. Our taxes will be filed probably within the next week or two. I have already gone to the above mentioned site and filled in everything (you can save it). My hubby's W-2 is already in hand!!
Don't forget to gather your receipts for energy tax credits on windows, doors, insualtion and such. We had some items that qualified and 40% back--I like that!

Other things...
I HIGHLY recommend lined roman shades and/or lined curtains. They make a HUGE difference. I think I can say that now based on 2 things. We have been experiencing negative temps now and they really, really block out the natural draft around windows SO WELL!! Also, we recently got our energy bill. This one is normally our highest one of the year due to all of our Christmas lights outside. I will admit, I was sweating it. Would you believe we used MORE electricity than last year, but LESS gas therms and the bill was $75 cheaper!!!!! The other large reason for the $75 decrease would probably be our closed in porch that connects the house to the garage. It makes a HUGE difference.
So, not everyone can/will build a porch, but you can try out the lined curtains/blinds (if even only in your bedroom or a really cold room). The warmth will be worth it!! Where to get them...mine were from Target, but I assume WMT has them and most other major retailers.

Craigslist is's nice to get rid of things and get some ca$h...try it out--great for buying/selling.

Can't resist talking about my great deals for the day. I went to 2 stores today (Kroger & Sears). I spent a total of $50 and had a cart full at each place! No coupons were used at all!!!!
Kroger: they had 3 boxes of Special K cereal marked at $1.29--little did I know that they also had a promo that you get free milk/$4 off your bill when you buy 3 boxes of Special K--so yep--those were free and a little bit more.
Sears: lots of great food items on clearance for $1 or less (Ritz, Minute Maid juice bottle 6 packs, bicycle seats ($1)--super deal!!
Much more...too much to list!

Well, gotta run!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why Clean Closets?

With my spare time following Christmas, I have taken some time to clean several closets/cabinets that need my attention.

The first one was my coat closet. It is the closet that also stores wrapping paper, boxes, and bags. We save bags from certain stores. The nicer (thicker) bags serve as trash bags in our bathrooms or bags for the litter. Simply put, some cannot be saved due to holes that occur on the way home from the grocery store (usually the Kroger bags). We organized it and threw away some trash and WOW does it look nice!

Next was our bedroom...we used the space saving hangers for J's stuff and made it less crowded. We were again low on hangers....that was taken care of as well.

The hall closet was where the "reward" began to come in...I found all kinds of things in there that I forgot we had. This is our closet where we keep towels, sheets, and other products like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, light bulbs, etc... Yes, we have plenty of all of the above items! Everything looks so much better.

Upstairs in the vanity, I discovered a new bottle of lotion (yay--I was out) and so many other things that I am not remembering right now.

So, why organize and clean?? find treasures that you forgot you had that you can probably use!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I haven't posted in quite awhile! Sorry!

So, I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I set maybe a few goals and some include financial. Since I started doing this a few years back, we have attained each financial goal. It feels great.
The goals have consisted of:
paying off J's school loans early (we did it over 3 years early) =)
paying off each of our cars early (mine in 1 1/2 yrs) J's in 1 =)
paying off cc debt several years back =)
and the list goes on.

This year's goals:
be even more wise about spending and save more
give more
pay down the mortgage so we can pay off early

Fortunately, since the garage sale glory days of summer, my mindset of buying has considerably changed. Don't get the idea that we do not indulge or get items we really want every now and then because we do, but I feel like for me I've come a long way. For instance, my purse buying habit has all but disappeared thanks to the super deals that I got this summer. We have purchased new clothes several times for both ourselves and the girls, but have gotten incredible deals on them and haven't had to purchase nearly as much due to the garage sale purchases.

Things I've had luck with:

Craigslist has become something I check more often. I have sold items with it and even purchased once. It works great for large items that you can't ship very easily.

Walgreens--Register Rewards and their clearance

You Tube--great for shows you normally would have to pay to watch on cable or dish...Usually, there's a fan or two of most of the shows that upload all of the episodes so people like me who haven't ever had cable or anything beyond regular channels can enjoy the shows. What's great --it's free!

Lowe's--nice clearance items (cheap too)

Finding cheap or free things to do as a family -- sledding, looking at lights (obviously seasonal), making cards (I've been pretty negligent), renting a movie, and playing with all of those fun Christmas toys =).

Oh yeah, sometimes people out there are really nice...
I returned several items with a receipt the other day (make that everything on the receipt including the free gift with purchase item since I wouldn't be meeting the minimum purchase requirements with the return). The lady was very nice and told me that she was going to give me the gift back and bagged it up for me to take with me. She informed me that I could give some of the items to my girlfriends if I wanted. How nice of her!

What to do this winter...I don't know. I'm not much of a winter person. I plan to pass some of the time by watching the Olympics. I am a fan of the Olympics. Other than that, hibernate and hope to stay warm!