Archive for the ‘ Ways to Save ’ Category

Recyclebank: 95 New Points- redeem for coupons or gift cards

Monday, May 19th, 2014

One of the ways I save money is by earning coupons and gift cards through Recyclebank.  By spending just a few minutes each month earning points I can soon accumulate enough to redeem a few coupons or if I save them a little longer I can use my points to get a gift card.  Currently they have gift cards for CVS, Target, Starbucks, Lowe’s, Applebees, T.G.I.Friday’s, Kmart, Sears and more!

Right now you can earn 95 points when you complete the following 4 activities.  And if you are new to Recyclebank, once you set up your account, click on the “Earn Points” tab to find more point earning opportunities.

Short-term, you can prepare for storms. Long-term, you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Did you know you can recycle Ziploc® bags, grocery bags, and other plastic films?

Only 20% of Americans consistently recycle in the bathroom. Will you join them?

Learn why two wheels are better than four, and earn 10 points.

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$25 off Airbnb.com (great way to save on vacation rentals!)- new users only

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Planning a weekend getaway or vacation?  Airbnb.com is a place to book unique accommodations, at any price point, around the world.  You’ll find everything from an apartment for a night to a castle for a week to a villa for a month.  With listings in more than 34,000 cities and 192 countries, there are lots of options!

The great thing is, if you are new to Airbnb.com you can sign up here and you’ll save $25 off your first purchase!  (In order to get the $25 off you don’t have to book anything immediately.  Just sign up and the credit will be in your account and used the first time you make a purchase.)

We’re hoping to take a short family vacation sometime this summer and so I’ve been perusing Airbnb.com looking for ideas of where we could go.  I found lots of lovely, reasonably priced places- everything from single rooms to entire houses.

Here are a couple of places that caught my eye.

* A beach getaway- a small guesthouse in Cape May, NJ for $130/night

* A beautiful, entire house in Charleston, SC for $97/night

* Lovely little cabin in the Poconos (Pa) for $106/night

* A cute lakeside cottage in Louisa, Virgina for $109/night

Have you ever used Airbnb.com?  What did you think?

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5 Tips to Spend Less but Get More

Friday, March 7th, 2014


I’m super excited to share this guest post from Monica!  Like many of you, Monica was intrigued by how I save so much money with stockpiling and decided to try it for herself.  When she emailed me to tell me of her plan, I loved it and asked her if she’d be willing to write a guest post for you all about her experience.

You’ll find more interesting reads over at Monica’s blog, Blue Skies and Shoofly Pies.  There she writes about the adventures of family life and homemaking on the tiny farmette she shares with her husband and 2 year old son.

­­­­I’m honored to be sharing about my experience implementing Lydia’s saving strategies, or as I like to call it, the Thrifty Frugal Mom system. To give you a bit of background, I had been couponing for years and followed many money saving blogs, but the Thrifty Frugal Mom blog held special appeal to me because I could see every week that Lydia bought many of the same household items that I did, and also cooked similar meals to the ones we eat at home, but spent far less money. She also made a lot of items from scratch and had similar nutritional goals for her family.

After watching and learning for about six months, I decided to start copying some of her strategies to get the thrifty-frugal ball rolling at my house. I started slowly and began chipping away at my grocery bill a little each a month. Here is what I learned:

1.  Start small
I started making my own iced coffee concentrate and unable to fully stomach a soup bucket, started saving my vegetable scraps and making my own soup stock. I also paid cash for a used smart phone and signed up with Ting so I could take advantage of coupon apps and save on my phone bill. These “little” things all added up to slowly make a noticeable difference in our spending.

2.  Be willing to invest some time
I put aside a block of time each week to scan the store circulars, visit store websites, and make a list of where the best deals are so that I can deal match. Sometimes I visited one store, sometimes I went to five. Even if I didn’t need the item right away, I went ahead and bought it at the lowest “buy” price so when I ran out, it would be in my stockpile. This required a shift in my purchasing habits because I was used to buying items when I ran out, even if that wasn’t a good price. It took some discipline to shift my thinking on this one. Which leads me to…

3.  Allow a shift in thinking
Once I made the commitment to purchase items at the lowest possible price, I only had to see what was in my pantry or stockpile in order to make up my menu plan. Believe it or not, I used to write my menu for the week and then buy whatever those meals required. What an expensive way to eat! Now, I rely on items that are in my stockpile inventory or items that I can get a good deal on by matching coupons with sales.

Just a note from Lydia:  To help you save time and deal shop like Monica and I both do, I highly recommend finding a blog that does coupon match-ups for the store(s) that you shop at.  To do this, Google something like the store name and “coupon match ups”.  You should be able to find a blog that will show you what is on sale at the store you shop plus also show you what coupons you can use to get an even better deal!  This makes deal shopping super easy and less time consuming.

4.  Understand the stockpile concept
It took me a while to comprehend why I was buying five shampoos instead of one, but once I figured out that buying more meant paying less per item and therefore saved me quite a bit of money in the long run, it all clicked. Not only did I pay less per item, as a bonus I also didn’t need to worry about seeing that item on my shopping list for a long time.

5.  Don’t expect big savings right away
My first month only saved me around $50 from our usual grocery bill and I was ready to throw in the towel. What I didn’t understand was that the stockpiling method requires time for a savings snowball effect to take place. Here’s why.  Stockpiling saves you money because it enables you to buy items at rock bottom prices and stock up on them.  As a result, this saves you from having to pay full price for the item the next time you need it.  In turn, this gradually saves you money and as you continue to build your stockpile you’ll find that eventually you rarely have to pay full price for anything because you were able to get it when it was on sale and add it to your stockpile.  And so while the initial savings is gradual, as you continue to stockpile, the savings grow considerably.
And so I kept at it, and my second month the savings increased to $200-250! I anticipate saving more each month ­until I eventually reach the monthly budget amount I’m aiming for.

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In doing anything new, there are some pros and cons, and here are mine:
*  A big pro is that the system is very flexible to my family’s needs. I can buy products we know and like and eat healthy meals that we have always enjoyed while saving money. There is also enough room for new recipes.
*  The need to create a stockpile by buying multiple items at the rock bottom price was both a pro and con for me. We have a small home without much space to store an inventory of consumables, so I’m never going to have room to store many cases of paper towels for instance. It was also hard to understand how buying more of something is less expensive than buying one or two, but with some deals that is often a fact. However, I found I could mini-stockpile by buying say, three of something rather than ten, and it would keep me far enough ahead until the next deal came along for that item.
*  Another mixed pro and con was food preservation. I’ve been gardening and canning for years, but we lack space for the large chest freezers that many people own. I suspected that not owning a chest freezer would be a real challenge to the system, and I feel that is true. Canning my own food helps, but I miss out on stockpiling deals for ice cream and other freezer items that could save us lots in the long run.
Likewise, if you aren’t a canner, and don’t can a lot of meal stretchers, it might be more of a challenge to reach that $200/month grocery budget goal.
*  One mixed blessing of this project was that two months after starting, I had an accident and broke my ankle. For six weeks, I was off my feet and our family relied on dinners brought by our family and church, and some convenience meals mixed in to get by on during that time. While I was sad to disrupt my grocery budget goals, I was very thankful to have some staples stockpiled in the house so my husband did not have to run out for every little thing.

So will I eventually be able to feed my family on $200 a month? Because the Thrifty Frugal system is so flexible, I think some families can implement it and easily end up with a grocery bill that is even less than that.  But because family size, eating styles, and personal needs obviously vary a lot, there’s not going to be a one size fits all number and so others will end up having a monthly budget that is quite a bit higher.  However, I’m not even near my lowest spending point and I look forward to finding out how much less I’ll be spending six months from now as I continue to have fun using the Thrifty Frugal Mom for inspiration and more savings. Thanks, Lydia!

How to Buy Baby Gear on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Gear on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Gear on a Budget

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Reader Tip: Save Big by Purchasing Marked Down Meat

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

I love when my readers take the time to comment on my posts.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve been inspired or learned something new about saving money from you all!

Reader Joelle recently left this great tip on my 6 Ways to Save Money on Meat post:

I have to eat gluten and dairy free and also need a lot of protein. I am also disabled. This leaves me with the compounded issue of needing to buy some of the more expensive items to round out my diet with a very small food budget (often as low as $70 at this point- includes toiletries etc-, which is not much in Boston7).

One of the best ways I have found to save money on meat is to find out when they do last day mark downs- meat and poultry are marked down significantly every single day in every store, throughout each department, usually around the same time each day, the day before the sell by date. There is nothing wrong with this meat. Stores will mark it down at least fifty percent but I often find it marked down sixty five or seventy percent. If you find a cut that is not marked down and has a sell by date for the next day, most stores will just mark it down right there. They do this because they need to get it out of the store or lose money on it.

I have asked the butchers at the stores what time they usually do their mark downs and come in around that time when I can budget in a bit of time and money- I pick up several cuts and prep them with marinade and put them in the freezer. Freezing them with marinade is great because the marinade works into the meat better, btw. Anyway, this is pretty much the only way I can afford meat that is of a decent cut with any frequency and it saves a huge amount of money. I’m surprised this is not posted here. :)

While I personally haven’t found meat marked down as low as what Joelle mentions, I have been able to occasionally get some great deals on meat by watching for marked down items.  I’ve learned that some grocery stores do this more quickly than other and for me, our local Weis Markets is the place that I’ve been able to find the best deals.

If you are looking to try to save money (and aren’t we all!), I’d highly recommend at least scanning your grocery store’s meat department each time you are there to see if  you can find any good deals on marked down items.  Many stores also do this with the pre-packaged items in the produce department too.

Do you by marked down meat?  Have you ever asked to have something reduced?  How do you save on high priced items?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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How to Save Money & Build a Diaper Stockpile (includes approximate diaper usage for 1st year!)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

If you’ve read my post about 7 Easy Ways to Save on Diapers and Wipes, you know that one of the big ways that I save is by stockpiling.  In fact, I take diaper stockpiling so seriously that by the time our daughter was born 2 years ago, I had already stockpiled 42 packages of diapers and around 30 packages of wipes, all bought at rock bottom prices.

Stockpiling has helped us save significantly because it meant that I never had to pay full price for either diapers or wipes.  Since I planned ahead and started buying diapers while I was still pregnant, I could wait and purchase diaper/wipes when they were at their lowest prices and add them to my stockpile.  As a result, I had a nice sized stockpile by the time our daughter arrived and then was able to continue to purchase diapers and wipes only when they were at rock bottom prices.  In fact, I’ve never had to pay more than $5 for a package of diapers and $1 for a package of wipes, which is at least 50% savings off of the regular price!

For me, one of the hardest things about diaper stockpiling was knowing how many of each size to buy.  When I was pregnant with our daughter I discovered that a friend of mine kept track of how many diapers her son used in his first year.  I found it incredibly helpful to refer to that when I was I was purchasing diapers for my stockpile and, although we ended up using different amounts, it gave me a bit of a guideline to go by.

I kept track of our daughter’s diaper usage during her first year too.  Below you’ll find both my friend’s and my record.  Hopefully it will help give you a bit of an idea of how many of each size to stock up on.

(The packs referred to below are the smaller jumbo size packages of diapers, not the larger mega packs or boxes.  I included the approximate number of diapers since some of you may prefer buying the big boxes instead.)

Our Daughter’s Diaper Usage During First 12 Months  (she weighed 8lb. 4 oz. at birth)
Newborn: 6 packs (approx. 216 diapers)
Size 1: 4 packs (approx. 160 diapers)
Size 2: 16 packs (approx. 640 diapers)
Size 3: 19 packs (approx. 684 diapers)

Friend’s Son’s Diaper Usage During First 12 Months  (he weighed 7lb. 12 oz. at birth)
Newborn: 7 packs (approx. 252 diapers)
Size 1: 7 packs (approx. 280 diapers)
Size 2: 14 packs (approx. 560 diapers)
Size 3: 38 packs (approx. 1368 diapers)

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A couple of tips for diaper and wipe stockpiling:

1.  WATCH DIAPER SIZE
Huggies Little Snugglers diapers
are smaller than Huggies Snug & Dry diapers of the same size.  (I’m meaning that the diaper itself is smaller, not the package.)  So if you buy any of the Little Snugglers diapers, be sure to use them first as your baby will grow out of them more quickly.

2.  WATCH PACKAGE SIZE
You’ll find that the Huggies Little Snugglers and the Pampers Swaddlers diaper packs have less diapers per pack than the Huggies Snug & Dry or the Pampers Baby Dry of the same size.  Some stores don’t carry the Snug & Dry and Baby Dry diapers in size 1 & 2, but if they do, I try to purchase them instead of the Little Snugglers and Swaddlers just because I’m getting more diapers for my dollar.

Also, currently Huggies has more diapers per package than Pampers brand.  So, if you aren’t set on using Pampers brand diapers, often it is cheaper to buy the Huggies brand because even though the packages might cost the same amount, you are getting several diapers more in each package!

3.  SET A BUY PRICE
Figuring out how much you are willing to pay for diapers and wipes makes it easy to know whether a deal is worth buying or not.  If you aren’t sure where to start, it might help to peruse store ads a bit and see what the sale price of diaper/wipes typically is in your area.  Once you figure out your “buy price”, stick to it and only make a purchase when you can get them at that price or lower.

*  I typically try to pay no more than $0.13-$0.14/diaper.
Since diapers vary a lot in cost per diaper depending on the size and brand, I simply figure my cost per diaper by using size 3 diapers.  This works well for me since diapers are typically the same price per package no matter what size diapers you buy.

When diapers are on sale and I want to figure out whether a deal is worth doing, I just calculate the cost per diaper figuring the size 3 package amount.  So if there are 36 diapers in a package and they are on sale for $5.00 then I divide 5 by 36 and figure out that they are $0.14/diaper.

*  I typically try to pay no more than $0.02/wipe
Again, I figure this price by dividing the cost of the package by the number of wipes.  Most packages have 64 wipes in them and if I watch sales and use coupons I can often get them for $1.00 which comes to just $0.016/wipe.

4.  KNOW WHERE TO GET THE BEST DEALS
I’ve discovered that I can usually get the best deals on diapers and wipes at drug stores and here’s why.  Places like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens have programs that give you money back via store rewards when you buy certain items.  This means that when I can combine a sale and one of those reward deals with a coupon I can often get really good prices.

For instance, CVS often has diapers on sale for $10 each and when you buy $30 worth you get $10 Extra Bucks (a coupon that gets you $10 off your next CVS purchase).  So I’ll purchase three packs of diapers and then use a $2 coupon on each of those 3 packages, maximizing my savings.  That means that I can get each pack for $4.66 or for just under $0.13/diaper when using Size 3 as my price guide.

Obviously, some of you aren’t going to feel like shopping drug stores is feasible.  If that’s the case, I’ve found that Amazon is the second best place to get diapers and wipes.  They frequently run deals on diapers and wipes and although the prices aren’t quite as good, they still are very decent!  Plus, you can get the items shipped right to your front door which is pretty convenient!  FortheMommas.com does a weekly Diaper Deal Round-up post and this is a great way to find out what deals Amazon is currently running.

How do you save on diapers and wipes?  Do you find buying ahead helpful?

* Free Nursing Cover (just pay shipping!

How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget

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