Showing posts with label money saving tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money saving tips. Show all posts

Friday, August 2, 2013

Remodeling a House and Staying in Budget

Saving on Remodeling
Planning Ahead to Stay on Budget

My husband and I owned a home remodeling business for several years and we just finished remodeling our own personal home. We have remodeled two personal residences and while the first home was a money pit this second home has been a joy to buy, remodel and live in. I wanted to share what we have learned.

Get the Right Loan

If you can go with the first time FHA homebuyer loans, then that is by far the best way to go. In fact, I recommend waiting to buy until you qualify for one of these mortgage options. FHA has a special category for remodeling with a great rate. We were about to roll our remodel into our FHA mortgage and we still got a great rate that is assumable to boot. We still came out ahead on the value of our home because the FHA guidelines are in place to ensure it. I believe there might be a similar loan product for those of you who are looking at refinancing your home mortgage and rolling the remodel in. Of course you have to discuss this with a good mortgage officer. I recommend finding someone from a trusted friend.

On the Right Foot with the Contractor

FHA Financing makes it easy to get off on the right foot because you have to get approval from the mortgage company to uses the contractor. Once your contractor has been approved, make sure you get an itemized list of repairs that are going to be covered, this will help keep surprise costs to a minimum.

If It Isn't Broke Don't Fix It

Make a realistic list of what you are going to fix. With our first remodel we practically stripped the house to the bare bones to update cosmetics and still ended up with surprise repairs down the road. If something is a little outdated but working just fine then resist the temptation to change it. With our second remodel we were concerned with the age of the kitchen appliances but the bathrooms were in great condition. We cleaned up the caulk around the tub and accessorized the pink tile with grey and black and it looks vintage sheik.

Sell It On Ebay

One regret I do have is that we didn't try to sell our vintage appliances on Ebay. We bought and remodeled a 1966 ranch home with all the original fixtures. The light fixtures are so charming and in great repair, the doors are just beautiful, but we feared the oven would kick the bucket on Thanksgiving Day (I heard a story.). Anyway, imagine my surprise a month or so after move in when I discovered our old wall oven was selling on Ebay and the local refurbished appliance store for around $300! It could pay to check out the market before you take it to the landfill.

A Few Last Tips

At least for the first year, roll a home warranty into your purchase contract or purchase one yourself. These warranties usually start around $175 for the year and they cover major appliances, plumbing and air conditioner repair, even pest control. Until you live in your home you really don't know what is going on with it and lets face it, the owners are moving out for a reason. Of course you should have anything major replaced before purchase. We had our roof replaced, that saved us $7000 on our remodel. Consider rolling solar panels into the remodel, they raise the value of your home and lower your electric bill.

If your home is old enough to possibly have asbestos then you will want to hire a contractor to assess the possibility before you begin a remodel project. Asbestos can cause Mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer. Find out if your home could have asbestos before you begin the project so that you can include any removal in the price of the remodel.

You may also want to consider installing solar panels and or a solar water heater while your home is under construction. Installing Solar panels can give you thousands in tax credit and possibly eat the cost of the remodel. You can read more about solar in my post Solar: Is It Right for You?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Finding Affordable Health Insurance

health insurance
Finding Affordable Health Insurance
Sifting through the maze of health insurance services and information can be overwhelming and sometimes scary.  When surveying ways to save money you need to look at all of your options, not just your insurance coverage, because sometimes paying out of pocket can be less expensive in the long run.

 Reduced Fees for Paying Cash

Ask your health care professional if they have a reduced fee if you pay cash.  Most health care professionals want to help and they understand that you are more likely to come in for treatment if you can afford to.  Many health care professionals will cut fees by 50-75% if you ask them for a cash discount. But beware of medical discount plans! These plans are often marketed by big name companies as health insurance but they are nothing more than a discount card and can actually cost you money.  Medical discount plans usually come with large co-pays and the health care professional will charge you the full price to boot. Sliding Fee Scales

Consider a doctor who charges on a sliding fee scale.  This is a common practice and there are many nationally acclaimed doctors and dentists that will work this way.  The intake specialist will ask you for verification of your income and expenses and then set a fee based on what you can afford.  The professionals that work this way don't usually compromise on service and are usually quite caring.  A variety of professionals offer this option from dentist to acupuncturists.
Use Clinics for Routine Services

Many retailers, such as Walgreen's offer routine health care shots and screenings for all ages.  These clinics will give you substantial savings on routine screening for diabetes, allergies as well as low cost flu shots.  If you don't have insurance, or you are under insured, take advantage of these clinics to help prevent a doctor visit in the future.

Ask for Generic Upfront
When your health care professional gives you a prescription, make sure you ask the pharmacist for the generic first.  Generic prescriptions are usually exactly the same as the name brand; your pharmacist can verify this for sure.  These generic prescriptions are often a fraction of the cost of the name brand drug.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Money Saving Legal Alternatives

saving on legal
Saving Money on Legal Matters
Every family has legal needs and while the ideal situation would be to employ a law firm and professional accountant it may not always be practical to do so.  A family should always have some form of will, and a family business should always be licensed and incorporated.  As a temporary solution to a situation where you cannot afford legal council for these important documents, there are several money saving alternatives.

Download Free Forms Online
Free forms including living wills and last will and testaments are available online.  You simply save the appropriate form to your computer, make any adjustments and then you take it to a notary to have it signed and stamped.  Find is a great place to download free legal forms.
Paid Services Available Online
Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer as well as several other sites now offer low cost incorporation and legal documentation of forms.  These online sites are similar to the online tax software that we now see around April 14 every year.
Prepaid Legal Services
Prepaid legal is another low cost alternative; with prepaid legal it is important to know what you are getting into and what is actually covered.  It is wise to check with your state bar association before signing a contract for prepaid legal as these can be scams, however some are very legitimate so don’t rule prepaid legal out all together.  Many prepaid legal services offer legal representation much like insurance, for a low monthly fee you can have  a legal department review any forms that you may need to sign and possibly cover you in the event that your small business is sued.  It is very important to read the fine print if you choose to purchase pre paid legal; know what is covered and what is not.
Use a Paralegal Instead of an Attorney
Consider a paralegal service instead of a law firm.  Most routine documents can be handled by a paralegal at a rate much lower than a traditional lawyer.
Finally, if you are in a real ‘pickle’ and you need representation or serious advice then you can find a list of attorneys who will help by searching “legal aid” for your state.  Arizona legal aid will bring up a list of state agencies that are often non-profit and designed to help those in need of low cost or no cost legal.  The American Bar Association is another great place to find information on legal service providers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Simple Money Saving Beeswax Candles

beeswax candles
Beeswax Candles Have a Natural Gold Color
We started candle making as part of a home school project last year and are fast growing to love it. Our first experience was with soy based wax which turned out to be hard to use and didn't burn well. We buy honey from a local farmer, so I thought why not call him and ask about beeswax? As it turns out, beeswax from a local bee keeper saves money at $3 per pound! What a steel! It's very easy to work with and smells great too so you save money on scents, unless you want to use them of course.
Here is a list of what you will need:
3-5 Pounds Beeswax
An old Crock pot
An old Ladle
Glass or metal containers
Clothes Pins
Butchers Twine
Epsom Salt
A small bowl of water
About Melting the Wax

Melting the wax is very simple. I have an older model crock pot that I keep in the mudroom for candle making. Place your beeswax in the Crock pot, nothing added, and set the pot on high until it is melted, This will take much of the morning, just keep an eye on it. DO NOT set the Crock pot and leave the house like you would with a roast. Once the wax melts completely, turn the dial to low.

Choose a Jar and Cut Your Wick

Next you need to choose a jar, one with a regular canning jar size opening. If the opening is too wide the clothespin will fall through, if it is too small the wax will spill out. Now cut your Butchers Twine several inches longer than the height of the jar. Do this with every jar. Set your jars aside until later. Tie a double knot in the bottom of each piece of twine.

Prepare the Wick

Now mix a table spoon of Epsom Salt in a cup of water and soak the twine for about half an hour or so and lay them flat to dry. Once the twine is completely dry, dip the top portion of the twine in the wax holding it above the wax until is stops dripping. Lay flat to dry completely again.

Tie a Double Knot
Soak in Epsom Salt for a Clean Burning White Flame
Dip the Wick in Wax to Firm

Pour the Candle

Hang in there, you are almost ready to pour a candle. Dip each knot in wax and place it immediately in a jar. Place a clothespin on the top to hold it upright and strait. Now you can use your ladle to pour hot beeswax into the jar. Once the jar is full, allow it to set!

More uses for beeswax and honey.

jar candle
Secure the Wick with a Clothespin

Monday, September 3, 2012

Finding affordable organic meats

Finding organic meats at the grocery store for an affordable price can be really tough sometimes. After a year or more of practice we have come up with some money saving tips that have made it a little easier to find and afford to eat green.

Cook with less...
finding affordable organic meat
Finding Affordable Organic Meat
For starters we have changed our lifestyle all together. We eat less meat and cook with less meat so we have room in our budget for organic meat. By serving meatless meals two to three times per week we save money on the amount of meat we use. When we do cook with meat, we have cut our normally 1 pound recipes down to 3/4 pound and sometimes even 1/2 pound. Instead of serving each person a steak, we serve one large grass fed steak sliced four ways.

Buy managers special...

Another money saving tip is to buy meat on managers special and freeze it. I was surprised to find out that my local farmer's market runs managers specials on organic ground beef and chicken just like any other meat. Sometimes you may have to get up early one weekday morning, but the trade off is usually half price meat. The trick here is to take it strait home to the freezer. A Food Saver is super great for this too.

Wild caught, humanly treated and kosher

When you can't find organic meats, humanly treated, kosher and wild caught offer a reasonable alternative. I watch for wild caught salmon in the freezer section and I buy it in bulk. I watch for ground buffalo meat on manager's special and lamb is often available in the spring.

Buy in bulk...

Finally, consider buying in bulk from an organic farmer. Some local alternatives in Arizona are Date Creek Ranch and Topline Foods. When you buy in bulk on a quarterly basis you might pay more upfront but you will often save per pound in the long run.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saving Money on Movies

Saving Money on Movies
Take Your Own Popcorn

There are lots of ways to #save money on movies; whether you like to watch at home or view in the theater, you can find discounts and even free movie tickets just about anywhere you look. What if I told you that you could get your movie fix for free?! Yes there are ways to #save money on movies as well as get them for free.

Preview new releases for free with tickets for movie premiers from Gofobo. The catch is, you have to go when they tell you and you have to be there early to wait in line but it is a great way to view for free and we have even previewed fancy dinner theaters with free dinner!

Build A Collection

Sometimes it is just as cheap to buy a movie as it is to rent it for a few days. We look for discounted movies at all the big retailers and we trade old movies for "new" ones at the used bookstore. Amazon also has reasonable prices on used copies of old favorites. 

Xbox Live

Most major video game consoles have started offering live video feed thru websites like Netflix and Hulu. While you may have to pay for a discounted service, you will still save money and can likely cut your cable bill to boot.


Did you know that most public librarys carry the new releases as well as the classic movies?  You can get a library card for free and there is usually no extra charge to check out DVDs.  Our library lets us check out up to ten movies at a time.  We go online to reserve the more popular ones and the new releases.  The movies are right there waiting for us on Friday night; all ten for #free!

Dollar Theaters and Matinees

Most theaters have an early morning discounted matinee showing. Our local theater offers matinees before noon for $5 as opposed to $8. We also have a theater in our neighborhood where all movies are always $2.  They don't usually get new releases however. They show movies that are just about ready to be released on DVD.  Perhaps you can wait a couple more weeks and get them at the library for free, but the dollar theaters are still great for a budget night out. Pop your own popcorn and take your candy with you to save even more.

Ticket w/ Purchase

Pay attention to everything you buy. I have purchased everything from DVD's to pizza that had free movie ticket rebates attached. Take advantage of these coupons for discounted or #free movie tickets. You can also buy slightly discounted movie tickets at some wholesale retailers like Costco.

A final word on snacks. Movie popcorn and candy is not only high in fat and calories, it is also expensive. Sometimes more than the movie ticket itself. We purchased a Stir Crazy popcorn popper to make homemade movie style popcorn. We use olive oil and sea salt and it taste better and saves money. We also purchase our candy at the local grocery when we buy groceries.

You may also enjoy reading Saving Money on Groceries.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Green grocery list

Coupons go high tech and green with mobile apps.

Grocery iQ is just one of the free mobile apps available for smart phones. These mobile grocery apps are a great way to store your grocery list and find the best prices. Most apps also download coupons to your local grocery card and can even scan a bar code.

I have to admit my husband and kids were the first to get me started with these savvy programs because they were all having so much fun scanning the pantry. Switching to a mobile grocery list is both frugal and green saving money and paper.

Other handy shopping apps include Foursquare and Out of Milk.

Friday, December 30, 2011

20 frugal Tips from Your Grandma

frugal tips from grandma
Frugal Tips from Grandma
As I was scraping butter off the paper and into the cookie batter I was reminded that everything I know about saving money I learned from either my grandmother, my mother or my aunt. They were the original experts on reducing, reusing and recycling (usually as an arts and crafts project but sometimes as a household item). Here is a list I have compiled, perhaps you will recognize a few. Does anyone remember the soap savers like the one pictured below?

#Money Saving Tip Number 1/Use a Spatula

Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Use a butter knife to scrape the butter or margarine off the paper; a spatula to clean batter from the bowl.

#Money Saving Tip Number 2/Use the Butter Container

Save your plastic butter containers. That butter container can double as "Tupperware" (my grandma had a cabinet full when she passed, kind of like the "Friends" episode with the Sweet & Low).  I can remember several gifts given to our family in the form of homemade strawberry jelly in a sealed glass pickle or mayo jar. Few people these days you can reuse those jars with a standard canning jar lid.

#Money Saving Tip Number 3/Use the Grocery Bag

Plastic grocery bags make great bathroom trashcan liners.

#Money Saving Tip Number 4/Use that Brown Box

My grandma didn't go to Target and buy plastic closet caddies, she made her own from used boxes and contact paper.

#Money Saving Tip Number 5/Can and Freeze

Every year my Aunt Clara planted a fruit and vegetable garden and all summer long she home canned enough jam, pickles and other essentials to feed her family and give wedding and holiday gifts to the rest of us.

#Money Saving Tip Number 6/Repurpose the T-Shirts

T-shirts and unmentionables with holes? Those make great cleaning clothes, quilt filling and rag rugs. In fact, white t-shirts are great on glass. We also used newspapers on glass for a streak free shine.

#Money Saving Tip Number 7/Turn Out the Lights

Don't turn the lights on until you need them. grandpa took this to extreme. It literally had to be dark outside before he would let you near the reading lamp, but I sure do miss him and it is good advice.

#Money Saving Tip Number 8/Eat at Home

Eat at home and cook with what you have in your cabinet (this is probably why I always keep powdered or canned milk on hand). Even if you only eat at home some of the week you will #save more money than eating out all week long.

#Money Saving Tip Number 9/Patch it, Paint it, Duct Tape it if you can

Fix it till it completely falls apart; patch it, paint it, duct tape it. This one is hard to do considering the quality of merchandise that we are left with these days, but the basic principle holds true. If your sofa is looking bare, slipcover it, if a book binding is falling apart tape it (packing tape and neutral duct tape work great for non-collectible books). I remember my parents and grandparents sanding and painting the same bedroom suits and dinning room tables over fifty years. They were satisfied to give it a new look rather than going shopping on credit.

#Money Saving Tip 10/Service is a Luxury

As long as you can bend over, paint your own toe nails, clean your own house and wash your own car. It is also highly recommended that you mow your own lawn unless you have a teenage son or daughter.

#Money Saving Tip 11/Sew it

If your clothes become too small or become torn, sew a patch on it. My grandma was noted for using lace (which was great for us girls and lol for the boys). Denim works just as good too.

#Money Saving Tip 12/Take Your Snacks with You

Make your own popcorn and take it to the movie theater in a bread bag. I have a great memory from when I was a teen visiting my older brother in CA. Although he had embraced the sunny California life, he still showed up at the movie theater to see Top Gun with a bread bag of popcorn and candy bars in his pocket.

#Money Saving tip 13/ Bake Your Own Cakes

Bake your own birthday cakes. This one is a little tough with all the beautiful character cakes in the stores but if you get your kids used to it when they are young they will look forward to it. In fact, my kids get into the planning and surf the web for great decorating ideas. If you are artistically challenged then an alternative is to pick up some inexpensive sprinkles and cake toppers at the party store. We also make our own party favor bags and we don't do a big party every year. It is a great way of teaching our kids to make choices.

#Money Saving Tip 14/Freeze Your Leftovers

If you aren't going to eat it before it expires freeze it. If it is a fresh vegetable, cook it and then freeze it or serve it for dinner.

#Money Saving Tip 15/Shred your own cheese.

If it is about to grow mold, shred it and freeze it.

#Money Saving Tip 16/ Buy on Sale

Wait for it to go on sale or even clearance. This one is so true with the holidays. Resist the temptation to go out and buy new decorations for a holiday, instead save your money and stock up the day after when they are 75% off. You will have new ones next year and more money in your pocket.

#Money Saving Tip 17/Pack a Lunch

Take your lunch to work. Invest in microwavable containers and take last nights leftovers. We take this a step further with our kids. When we are going to be out running errands all day, we #save money on fast food by packing a "snack bag."

#Money Saving Tip 18/ Use Less Meat

We buy our meat in bulk, divide it into just under a full pound servings and vacuum seal it for the deep freeze. We have done this for so long that when we use a full pound of ground beef in a recipe it just doesn't taste right. It's much healthier too, less fat and calories per serving.

#Money Saving Tip 19/Save Gas

Carpool, walk to work, plan your errands. Just think about how much gas your are using in general. My grandpa only filled his car once every two weeks.

#Money Saving Tip 20/ Use the Waste

Do you remember pie crust cookies? or if you were unlucky, leftover casserole on Saturday morning (I don't recommend this, it was pretty scary). See my post Love Affair with Leftovers for some better ideas.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Buying at Farmer's Markets Saves Money

Buying from Farmers Markets
Buying From Farmer's Markets Saves
Buying your produce from local farmers markets is a great way to save money while buying organic produce and it promotes green living.  Not only does buying local reduce the amount of transportation and packaging it also supports the local farmers which is a key to sustainable living.  Buying local organic produce sends a message to the government and local economists by upping the demand for local organic produce in your area.  There are several ways to buy local organic produce.

***Farmers Markets are one.  Find a farmers market in your area and patronize it regularly.

***Pick Your Own.  There are also Pick your own farms throughout the country.  Find a Pick your own farm in your area.

***Buy from a local coop.  Food coops are a great way to buy local and they often come right to your doorstep.

***Grow your own.  Growing your own produce is another way to save on organic produce and who knows you may even start your own farmers market.  If you are in the part of the country that is undergoing the changes of fall you may want to consider indoor gardening.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Organic Cleaning Products in Your Pantry

Organic Cleaning Products
Find it in Your Pantry First
Good housecleaning products do not have to be the most expensive to be organic. They need to be the right products for the job and they need to do the job for you. Always make sure the following list of products are in your cabinets. Once you have these goods and products at your disposal the task of cleaning should be a breeze.

The Cleaning Products:

White Vinegar works great for sinks, counters and floors. I like to mix a bit of Seventh Generation lavender dish soap with this for a really great smell. White vinegar also makes a great fabric softener in the laundry. 

Baking Soda is good for scrubbing bubbles action when mixed with vinegar. This will work in the shower and bath or you can use a natural all purpose cleaner.

All purpose cleaner is a little stronger but it is really necessary for toilets, and some baths and showers. I like Green Works all purpose cleaner.

Lemon Oil is really what is best for the care of wood furniture and it also shines up old aluminum trims without harsh chemicals.

A stack of small old hand towels is a must; always recycle old bath towels and underwear this way. T-shirts are great for streak free glass.

Green scrubbing pads made from recycled materials or organic fibers are sometimes necessary for tough spots. Make sure you spray harsh bathroom stains with all purpose cleaner first, let it sit for 15 minutes and then come back with the scrubby; you shouldn’t have to use too much elbow grease.

More tips to help you keep a green/organic house...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Easy steak for a family of four around $3.97

saving on steak
Buy Steak on Sale and Serve it in a Dish
Steak is a luxury we all crave and in this tough economy it is often a menu item cut in lu of it's less expensive counterpart the ground beef.  Steak however can be a flavorful and affordable option when prepared at home.  The trick is knowing what cut of steak to buy and how to prepare it.

Don't let price shy you away from the better cuts of meat.  Fry's food and drug often has Boneless Rib eye, New York Strip and T-Bones on sale.  This week Boneless Rib eye is on sale for $3.97 per pound.  Purchase the higher quality meat in smaller portions.

Do take the time to marinate and grill your meat purchase properly.  I like to keep my marinate simple, seasoned salt and olive oil over night in the back of the fridge.  I grill my steak to medium rare and then let the meat rest for five minutes to retain the juices.  Once the steak is ready, I slice it against the grain so it will be tender. 
Steak Alfredo Pasta

1 box Alfredo noodles
1 envelope Knorr Alfredo sauce mix
1 pound sliced steak

Steak Fajitas

1 bag frozen fajita mix veggies
1 package fajita seasoning mix
1 pound sliced steak
12 flour tortillas

Purchasing a higher quality of meat in smaller portion is not only a great way to save money it is also a good way to afford organic, grass fed beefSliced steak will make just about any recipe where you normally use ground beef more rich and satisfying.  You will be saving money and still eating like a king.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

6 Tips for Overcoming a Bad Economy

tips for bad economy
6 Tips for Overcoming a Bad Economy
Overcoming a bad economy starts with overcoming the almighty dollar sign.  There are so many ways to get what you need to survive from housing to food without having to "pay" one single dime; you just have to learn where, when and how.  Here are 6 tips to start living with more resources and less money.

1  Consider your resources both physical and intellectual.  You will want to sit down and make a list in each category.  What are your strengths? Who do you know? Do you have an education or a special talent?  Perhaps you have a fantastic backyard and a green thumb...grow your own food, sell or trade at the local Farmer's Market.

2  You can usually get it for free.  It may not be exactly the condition or color that you wanted but check craigslist and OLX before you go out and spend your cash.  They have everything from firewood to furniture for free.

3  Network, Network, Network.  Build a successful social network both online and in person.  If you are a homeschooler then join a home school support group, if you are in business join the local chamber.  The more people you know the more resources you will have access to.  Networking is the best way to find bartering and exchange opportunities.  You may even consider joining a bartering club.

4  Learn to negotiate.  Negotiate price, negotiate salary, negotiate the bottom line.  Negotiating is simply asking for what you need and finding a compromise between what you need and what someone else can offer you.

5  Diversify your efforts.  You know the old adage "don't put all your eggs in one basket." Well it is true.  Don't be limited by networking in business.  To some extent it is good to let your business life spill over into your personal and home life and vice versa.  You never know who you might know at church or school.  Perhaps someone has a house for rent that they will exchange for work that they need done on it. 

6 Finally, be a creative problem solver.  What do you really need and how can you get it?  When my husband returned to school we realized that we would need housing during his education.  By finishing my degree at the same time we were able to secure a place in campus housing as well as additional grants that we would not have received otherwise.

Overcoming the bad economy is not as hard as you might think; it just takes a little creativity and forethought.

You may also want to read 20 Money Saving Tips from Grandma.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Saving with Green Stamps

I remember back in the day when my grandaddy bought everything with S&H Green Stamps.  I remember the fun of going to the store with him to pick out surprises for my grandmother and how magical it seemed that he could just hand the man behind the counter a book of stamps in exchange for a major appliance like a grill or a vacuum cleaner.  S&H Green Stamps worked much like credit card rewards do today; when you purchased groceries or hardware goods you would collect stamps and then trade them in for durable goods.  Sounds great! It had a novelty about it too; we were all so sad to see S&H Green Stamps go....and now, they are back! 

You can now collect S&H Green Stamps on the web.  They have been renamed S&H Greenpoints and you collect them electronically, but they are back.  If you go to the website and sign up then you will collect S&H Greenpoints using your grocery card and online purchases; you can use your points to purchase durable goods from the S&H Greenpoints online store.  I tell you these are very valuable; between gardening and S&H Green Stamps my grandparents didn't have a dime in living expenses! Should you find yourself with antique S&H Green Stamps you have one of two choices; you can redeem these stamps at the online store or you can keep them for their collectable value.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Easy Repurposed Furniture

repuposed tv stand
Repurposed TV Stand to Kitchen
Repurpose by Way of Slipcover

You don't have to be a woodworker or seamstress to #repurpose your old furniture into something new.  I successfully repurposed old dinning room chairs this weekend with simple $7 slip covers that I picked up at Big Lots.  I saved well over $200 that I would have used to purchase new chairs and rescued four old ones.  These #money saving slip covers are available for just about any type of furniture at retailers such as Big Lots, Ross and even Target. Slip covers are just one money saving way to #repurpose old furniture without getting dirty.

Repurpose by Way of Location

Consider repurposing by way of location.  Old living room end tables make great night stands or children's art tables or a tiny desk.  You can purchase single children's chairs to pair with an old end table at IKEA or consider rounding up some old foot stools to serve as tiny chairs.  Old TV stands can be #refurbished into toy kitchens in an afternoon.

Old armories, side boards, and dressers all make great new TV stands when relocated to the living or family room and could potentially #save you a lot of #money over a large unit.  Consider using a dresser as a side board in your dinning room.  Repurposing old furniture is not just refurbishing it; it is considering a new way in which to use it.

Repurpose by Upgrading
Another way to get extended use out of old furniture is to upgrade your mattress.  European foam mattresses are all the rage but they can be expensive.  Try a new European foam mattress topper for a fraction of the cost.  European foam toppers can be purchased at Target, Overstock and Big Lots for between $20 and $100 and they can extend the length of your old mattress by as much as a couple of years.  If you have a futon with an old cover you can recover it inexpensively with a neutral toned fitted sheet of the same size or better yet a duvet.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Saving with Farmers Markets and Coops

saving with farmers markets
Save with Farmer's Markets and Coops
Many people have had great success purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from a farmers market or coop. You don’t have to have a large family for a coop to be worth while; if you love fruits and vegetables or want to add more to your diet then a farmers market or coop may be for you.

Purchasing from coops:

• When you purchase from a coop you pay a weekly or biweekly fee and the coop brings you enough fresh fruits and vegetables for that period of time. You will usually be asked to bring a laundry basket to a designated pick up location in your area and the basket is usually stocked with a variety of seasonal produce and it is locally grown to boot. Locally grown produce is fresh and contains more nutrients and requires fewer chemicals. The coop will usually email care and cooking instructions along with tasty recipes shortly after the produce is delivered.

• There are several different types of coops; some specialize in only organics, and some offer meat and dairy. There is even one valley coop that offers a selection of fresh granola and home baked bread. What ever you choose, a coop is usually a good deal, and the vegetables are fresh enough to keep in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Purchasing from farmers markets:
Farmer’s markets are also a great way to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as well as local food specialties. There is a variety of famer’s markets through out the Phoenix area. Downtown Phoenix Public Market is open Wednesdays and Saturdays; they take all kinds of payment including food stamps. Tolmachoff Farms offers locally grown seasonal produce as well as home canned jams and jellies; they are located at 75th Ave and Bethany Home Road.

12 Best Farmers Markets in America according to Delish...
More Arizona Community Farmer’s Markets….

Even more Arizona Farmer’s Markets….

Monday, September 27, 2010

Save on Groceries with Indoor Gardening

Indoor Gardening
Saving with Indoor Gardening
Fall is upon us and most of the country is looking at closing up their outdoor gardens and living off their canned and frozen produce, but you don't have too.  Consider indoor gardening as an alternative to giving up your garden.  With indoor gardening you can continue to save money on your produce bill while you enjoy fresh produce all year long.  Indoor plants also purify the air in your home while providing you with more oxygen.  It is estimated that one houseplant will clean up to 10 feet of space.

Indoor gardens are becoming very popular and they are nothing new.  People have been successfully indoor gardening for decades. Many people have successfully grown cooking and naturopathic herbs such as basil, thyme, rosemary, dill and lavender. Some gardeners have even grown garlic, cherry tomatoes and green beans indoors.

Green bean and tomato plants can be grown indoors using hanging planters when hung in a south to southeast facing window. The trick is making sure the plant is kept away from any draft and is exposed to 6 – 8 hours of natural sunlight every day.

Many people have made very creative indoor window gardens with hanging planters while still others have re purposed old aquariums into new terrariums.  There are several new herb gardening kits available on the market that take up less space while providing you with wonderful kitchen herbs.  There is at least one herb gardening kit in my Amazon store.  Some other indoor gardening ideas include using wash tubs or cat litter boxes.  Choose the proper light, use your imagination and you too can make a successful indoor garden in just about any room of your home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saving Money on Groceries

saving money on groceries
Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
Using up leftovers and clipping coupons are practical ways to save on groceries but here are a few more tips you may want to try.

Serve Breakfast for Dinner

Serving breakfast for dinner one night a week can put a small dent in your grocery bill.  On the average breakfast cost $1 - $3 per head while dinner is closer to $4 - $ 12.  Bacon and eggs, fried potatoes, grits, pancakes and sausage or waffles are all low cost alternatives to dinner and serving breakfast for dinner can be a lot of fun too.

Soup Supper

Serve Soup once a week for supper or even once every two weeks.  Soup is a great alternative year round and there are some really yummy ones such as Chicken Tortilla, or Clam Chowder.  Having a chili supper with fresh corn bread on the side will do the trick too.

Try the Pantry Challenge

There is a new trend called the Pantry Challenge.  People who have stocked their pantry pretty well are seeing how long they can eat off what is in the pantry without going to the grocery.  Some go so far as to use powdered milk while others make exceptions for fresh milk and produce but what ever the case I have heard that it does work for some.


Learn to make casseroles and you will stretch your groceries and save money.  Casseroles in general are usually very filling, use less expensive ingredients as well as less meat per serving.  Casseroles are a great way to save money.

More Tips

  1. Always shop with a list.
  2. Don't shop around too much.  If you stick to one low cost store you will learn their sales.
  3. Try Coops and U Pick Farms to save on Produce.
  4. Pair Coupons with Store Ads for the lowest price.
  5. Buy in bulk but price check first, bulk isn't always best.

Monday, August 23, 2010

News in coupons!

Yes, late breaking news in coupons!  There are several late breaking news stories in the world of coupons.

This just in....Fry's Grocery Stores are now taking competitors coupons!  Yes, you heard me right, even the competitors coupons that print off at the register.  They are also reading all manufacturers coupons under a dollar as if they are a $1.

This just in...are you tired of getting the newspaper just for the coupons?  There is a new website where you can print off the coupons you want or even load them to your grocery card!

And one final late breaking story....there is a new website called Groupon where you can purchase with others and save 50% to 75%.  You simply bid on a purchase, whatever you are willing to pay and if enough other people bid on that item you all get it for the same price.  If no one else bids you will not be charged.

Low Cost Dance Lessons

saving on dance lessons
Tips for Saving on Dance Lessons
There are low cost dance lessons for young and old throughout the Greater Phoenix Area. Most establishments give a free first lesson, so remember to shop around before you commit.

AZ Lindy Hop Society offers swing dance lessons at a variety of locations though out the Valley on just about every night of the week ranging from $5 to $7 per person. Check their calendar for the time and location nearest you.

• Both the City of Phoenix and the City of Glendale offer youth classes in tap, ballet and hip hop at drastically reduced prices. The classes are taught by well qualified dance instructors and offer the same fun and opportunity as those found at pricier studios.

• A great way for adults to save on dance lessons is to pick a less popular style, perhaps salsa dancing or hula. The community center is a great place for adults to learn as well. The City of Glendale community center is offering free belly dancing lessons as well as low cost Mexican folk.

• Elite Dance Studios is giving first month free if you bring in a coupon found at Gold Savings. Dance FX has open dance nights.

• There are several sites dedicated to free online dance lessons, should you prefer to learn in your own home. These sites are a good place for beginners who may not feel comfortable in a classroom.

Arthur Murray is offering a free trial lesson. Fred Astaire is offering a $40 introductory package. The package includes 2 private lessons, 1 group lesson and 1 dance party. Check Valpak and Gold Savings for coupons before you pay for a full session.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Love affair with leftovers

Have I mentioned that, in the past, I have hated leftovers....but not anymore.  In fact I am learning to stretch our groceries quite far with the creative use of leftovers.  There are a couple of tips to keep in mind when cooking with leftovers.

#1.  Use them while they are fresh. 

#2. Use them as close to their natural form as possible; i.e. spaghetti turned into baked pasta, roast beef shredded into loose meat sandwiches.

This weeks creative use of leftovers has gone something like this: Tuesday I slow cooked a pot roast with potatoes and carrots in the crock pot.  I served three adults and two children and put the leftovers in the refrigerator.  Today I cut up the leftovers and put them in the crock pot with the addition of packaged brown gravy and a can of corn (use whatever vegetable you have on hand).  This meal fed another three adults and two children.

Now, I fed my husband soup so later tonight he is going to be hungry again at which point I will cut up some leftover steak and assemble steak and cheese tortillas for a late night snack.

Keep track of how much food you cook and use up what is leftover and your groceries will never seem to run out.

Other uses for leftover pot roast; beef BBQ sandwiches or shepherds pie.

How I became Considering frugal

Fueled by the growing list of pollution related allergies my family suffered from each day, and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who could recycle ANYTHING before recycling was cool, back in 2011, I decided (in the spirit of the Julie/Julia Project...) to embark on a journey to see just how much one family could do to change our planet. I didn't consult any other parties before I launched this idea. Thankfully my husband, daughter and son are usually my biggest supporters. Here is the catch; as I'm normally very thrifty (you can note from early blog posts), I was looking for ways that I could reduce our carbon footprint and make socially responsible purchases without increasing our spending. Mmmmmm. We succeed in changing some of our habits a bit and finding ways to reduce our footprint. There were lots of fun epic fails alone the way too! But the biggest change we have made over the course of the last six years, was to move from the mega city of Phoenix to Wyoming. You can read my full bio on my About Me page.

Legal Disclaimer

While it is true that I am working on a PHD in Psychology and very smart and frugal, I am not a medical doctor, criminal, personal or accident lawyer. I do not sell insurance nor am I an accountant or mortgage advisor. While some of my posts may offer good ideas on home, health and business solutions, I am not personally responsible nor is Considering frugal for any advice, ideas, recipes or menu plans that you decide to use. This blog is intended to be helpful and fun. Any products you purchase from my Amazon store or any other retailer advertised on my blog must be returned to them. I may sometimes endorse a product that I love. This is simply my opinion, you must try all products at your own risk. While I personally do not use tracking cookies or share information, my affiliates are third parties and they may do so. Please click, travel and purchase at your own risk.

frugal advice

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask." Matthew 6:8