Archive for the ‘ Household Tips ’ Category

Household Tip: Get Almost Anything Free at

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Use Freecycle to get all sorts of things for absolutely free!  We’ve gotten 2 single beds, nearly new mattresses, a really nice adjustable card table, baby clothes, an exersaucer, light bulbs for our outdoor spotlights, and lots more.  You can also use it to rather painlessly get rid of unwanted items that you have, reducing your clutter in the process.

Why I recommend it:
Well, you can’t beat free!  Besides, I love the idea of things getting a second life instead of getting thrown out and on top of that it is super simple to use.

How to:
Freecycle is active all over the world.  To get started, enter your city and state on Freecycle’s main page, then click “Go”.

Once you join a group you can respond to “Offer” posts, create your own “Offer” posts to get rid of unwanted items, or list a “Wanted” post where you can ask for a specific item.

Misc. Info:
* When an item is listed, the location is also posted.  This makes it easy to decide if it is worth your time and gas to pick it up.

* When posting “Offers” and “Wanted” posts be as specific as possible.  The more details you give, the easier you’ll make it for yourself and everyone else.

Have you ever used Freecycle?

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Household Tip: Coffee Ice Cubes (a way to use up leftover coffee)

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Use leftover coffee to make coffee ice cubes then use them in your homemade iced coffee instead of regular iced cubes.  (The link is to my yummy recipe that tastes like the bottled Starbucks Frappuccinos.)  Or if you hate waiting for hot drinks like coffee or hot chocolate to cool down, you can throw a coffee ice cube in to do the trick.  And if you are strange like me and like your chocolate milk iced cold, add a coffee ice cube and give it a little flavor twist!

Why I recommend it:
It an easy way to save a little bit of money and reduce waste.  Plus it keeps your iced coffee from getting watered down!  In fact I find that I don’t need to make my iced coffee quite as strong when I use the coffee iced cubes because of the extra flavor boost that I get from them.

How much will it save me?:
I’ll be honest, this isn’t going to save you a huge amount and it will obviously vary on how often you make coffee and how often you have coffee left over that you would throw out.  I estimate that we save a couple of dollars a year by making coffee ice cubes.  But really, to me it is not as much about the money saving aspect as it is about not having my iced coffee get watered down.

Miscellaneous Info:
After I make the coffee ice cubes I pop them out of the ice cube trays and put them in another container.  If they are in the freezer for a while sometimes they get a few ice crystals on them but I never worry about that.  Hasn’t affected the flavor as far as I can tell!

Also, you’ll want to scrub the ice cube tray really well after you use it for coffee ice cubes or else you might have regular ice cubes that are slightly coffee flavored.  :)

Do you have any creative uses for leftover coffee?

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5 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

It’s that time of year again when you can clean house and make money on the stuff you no longer want and need.  Aren’t yard sales great?

If you’re planning to have one, you’ll want to follow these 5 tips that have guaranteed us successful yard sales for the last six years.

1. Advertise
This is a simple no-brainer for bringing in more customers. Make sure to do this at the beginning of the week at least if not earlier.

  • Post your ad for free on Craigslist or Yardsalesearch.  Or if you are willing to pay a bit you can also place an ad in your local classifieds.
  • Include your full address, not just Hillside Development, Brownstown.  People may not know where that development is!  If people have your full address they can get directions online right to your place.
  • List any unique items or items that may be of interest. For example: Lots of books, baby clothes, baby furniture, plus-sized ladies clothing, tea cup collection and more.
  • Don’t forget to post the hours and date(s) of your yard sale.

2. Show them Signs
A sign screaming YARD SALE will catch people’s attention and attract interest even days before you have the sale. Keep it simple, neat and attractive. The point is to catch people’s attention not distract them. Attaching a couple of balloons makes it easy to spot.

  • Post the sign several days in advance.
  • Place it where it is very visible and be sure to make it big enough that it is readable from the road.
  • One of my friend’s likes to put up a different sign the actual day of the yard sale. It simply says, Yard Sale Today. That way if you are having a two day yard sale people don’t assume by the second day that all the good stuff is gone.
  • Another option is to post a flyer at your local grocery store, laundromat, garage etc.

3. Price things low to go
I really dislike yard sales that just have items sitting out with no price. I like to know what something costs without having to search out the person in charge to ask them. In fact I often pass up things just because I don’t feel like going to the bother of asking the seller. I am pretty sure that I am not alone in this either from hearing others talk. Yes, pricing takes a bit of time but I promise it will sell things for you too.

  • Lay aside all sentimentalism. Remember, even if that fuchsia and orange flower arrangement is special to you because your great aunt Henrietta gave it as a housewarming gift when you bought your first home, it doesn’t mean that I will think it is worth $5. Think how your customers will think.  Ask yourself, “How much would I be willing to pay at a yard sale for this?”
  • If you really want to get rid of things, keep the price super low. Lots of 10, 25, and 50 cent items appeal to people. At my one yard sale I even priced some things 5 cents that I was sure no one would want.  Guess what? They were some of the first items to sell!
  • If something is new or is electronic and works well, write that on the tag. But remember, you can’t expect to sell it at the price you paid.  This is a yard sale after all!
  • Be willing to take a lower offer on an item. Remember the goal is to get rid of stuff.  Better to make a dollar less on than to not make any money at all!

4. Organize your merchandise
I can’t believe how many yard sales I have been to that don’t do this simple, easy step. No one enjoys looking over tables full of a hodge-podge of items or digging through boxes piled full of who knows what.  I am much more likely to browse and spend more time looking at items if they are organized.

  • Put like things together such as all dishes, all home decor items, all electronics.
  • If you can’t lay books, CD’s, and DVD’s out nicely on a table then put them in boxes- but don’t make the box so full that you can’t flip through the items easily. If you have a lot of books, it is nice to also put all children’s books in one box, all fiction in another, all non-fiction in another and so on.
  • Hang as many clothes as you can.  An easy way to do this is to get to step-ladders and put another regular ladder through the two of them, creating a nice hanging spot.
  • Organize baby and children’s clothes by size. No one likes digging through a bunch of unorganized clothes. If you have both boys and girls clothes of the same size, make a separate spot for each one. I like to put them either on a table or in a box with a clearly marked sign with the size and gender written on it.
  • Place bigger items on the ground propped up against trees or table legs BUT make sure that they are visible!

5. Greet your customers
You know how stores have someone greet you when you enter? Well apply this same principle to your yard sale. It makes people feel welcome and lets them know that you are open to talking to them about any questions they have about your items.  A simple “hello” or “good morning” as they walk up is sufficient.

What have you found helps you have a successful yard sale?  Or what makes you want to buy when you go to yard sales?

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Household Tip: Save by Using Rechargeable Batteries

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Replace your regular batteries with rechargeable ones.

Why I recommend it:
It’s an easy way to save money with a low initial expense plus it reduces waste too!   We don’t use a lot of things that take batteries but we love our rechargeables for our camera and in our son’s LeapPad.

How much will it save me?:
Clearly this will vary a lot but just for the two things that we use them for I’m guessing we easily save at least $20/year.  It always seems like cameras go through batteries so fast and I love knowing I’m saving money every time I change those batteries.  If you use batteries a lot, then you’ll obviously easily save much more.

Miscellaneous Info:
We have had an Energizer batter charger similar to this one for several years and I just recently got a newer Energizer version that shows you when the batteries are done charging.  Amazon also has this highly rated  Eneloop AA battery charger for just $18.21. Really, my guess is that all of them work pretty similarly so I’d go with whichever one strikes your fancy.

I recommend getting enough batteries that you always have a set of spare ones in the charger that way when your batteries die you can just quickly swap them out with the fresh ones and be good to go.

Do you use rechargeable batteries?  What do you love about them?

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Household Tip: Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Make your own Foaming Hand Soap from regular soap.

Why I recommend it:
It is an incredibly easy way to save money plus it literally takes a couple of minutes.

You might wonder, why use foaming soap instead of regular soap in the first place?  I like it for a number of reasons.  It lasts longer, so it saves money, I prefer the way it feels and washes and I have little kids.  If you have kids you know that even when they try not too, they tend to use way too much soap.  With foaming soap even if they get too much, it’s at least wasting less soap than if they were using regular hand soap.

How much will it save me?:
One small bottle of hand soap will usually make me 4 to 5 bottles of foaming hand soap.  A small bottle of hand soap often costs around $1 for the generic brand.  If you use one small bottle of hand soap a month, you’ll save at least $9 a year!  That’s enough to get almost 3 gallons of gas, 3 small lattes, 2 1/2 gallons of milk….well, you get the picture.  Obviously if you use more soap or use a more expensive brand of soap you’ll be saving even more money!

How to:
Making your own hand soap is so simple your child could probably do it.  Here are the steps:

1. Pour 3/4 to 1 inch of hand soap into a foaming hand soap dispenser.

2. Slowly fill almost to the top with warm water.  Filling it slowly is important so that you don’t get a bunch of suds.

3. Put on the soap dispenser top.

4. Gently shake from side to side until soap is mixed into water.

5. Use and enjoy saving money every time you wash your hands!

Misc. Info:
* Wondering where to get a foaming hand soap dispenser?  I just bought some Foaming Hand Soap at the store and used that dispenser when it was empty.  You easily remove the label on many of them to leave you with just a plain bottle.  You can also buy fancier looking dispensers at places like Walmart or Target.

* Almost every kind of hand soap that I have used has worked for this, although I have discovered that some seem to mix up better than others.  I typically use the Softsoap brand but have also used Melaluca, Mrs. Meyers and Bath and Body Works.  The Melaluca and Mrs. Myers worked the best but I don’t usually feel like spending the extra money for that kind of soap.

I’ve linked up this post to Mostly Homemade Mom’s Show and Share Wednesday post.

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