The Art of Garage Saleing

garage-saleLast weekend my wife and I went to over 21 different garage sales looking for good deals. It was really the first time that I had been exposed to such madness. I was a greenhorn in a whole new world. After a few sales under my belt, however, I was ready to go. Here are three things that I learned that will make your garage saleing experience successful.

1. Have a game plan: I’m always a fan of a plan. Knowing what you’re looking for and where you’ll be going is essential to making your time effective. Check out craigslist for garage sales in your area, or keep an eye out for those colorful signs and directions.

2. Have a sidekick: Having someone to ‘garage sale’ with you is of paramount importance. They can serve various important purposes while you are on your adventure. They can be a spotter, finding garage sale signs. They can be a navigator, helping you find those mapquest locations. They are also a great ‘protector’. What I mean by protector is they keep you from spending money on the things you really don’t need, preventing a further perpetuation of the garage sale ‘junk cycle’.

3. Stay hydrated: Bring water and snacks (and buy lemonade from the sweet little girls at the garage sales). Taking care of your body while you are saleing is pivotal to having a fun and healthy experience.

We’d love to hear from you and add any tips you might have about how to make garage saleing an amazing experience.

5 Tips to Help You Save on School Supplies

854122_618421301. Do some home shopping. Before heading to the store to buy whats on the school list, check what you already have at home. Don’t be afraid to reuse last years supplies if they are still in good condition.

2. Take advantage of Tax-Free weekends. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia offer this shopping perk: During one weekend in August, back-to-school items, like backpacks and footwear, are tax-free.

3. Comparison shop. Check out the sales at different stores to see who is offering the best deals. If you can find a store that price matches, you wont have to burn up extra gas to get the good deals that each store offers.

4. Buy a backpack with a warranty. Book bags take a beating, so buy your child’s backpack from a reputable company, such as LL Bean, REI or the North Face, that guarantees its merchandise. If a zipper breaks, the company will replace the backpack at no charge or it may give you your money back.

5. Only buy what you need. Once you’re in the store, all those fun extras can be tempting, especially for the younger ones, stick to your list and leave the store with only the items you need.

6 Tips to Help You Save Money on Dry Cleaning

1000115_42973077Everyone is looking for ways to save money in this economy and if you work in an office, you probably have a hefty monthly dry cleaning bill. Here are some helpful tips on how to save money on dry cleaning.

  1. Apply Makeup, hair spray, and perfume before getting dressed. They can all stain fabrics. Allow these cosmetics to set for at least 5 minutes before getting dressed.
  2. Omit odors at home. If your sweaters are a bit stale(but not stained), use heat-activated dryer sheets, such as Dry Cleaner’s Secret.
  3. Spot-Clean. If you get a small stain, treat it immediately with a product like Oxiclean Spray-A-Way and save yourself an emergency trip.
  4. Check your local newspaper for coupons and deals. Cleaners generally offer discounts(10 to 33% off) in the spring and fall.
  5. Practice Moderation. Overcleaning can decrease clothings longevity, so dry-clean only when necessary. You might get away with cleaning a wool suit once or twice a year, and wool sweaters and skirts may be worn up to six times before you need to send them out.
  6. Wear a machine washable shell under your jacket to protect it from perspiration stains.

How to Set up a Family Budget

884071_98364012Setting up a Family Budget is not always easy but sometimes very necessary. Sometimes we do a budget and we find out that where we thought our money was going is not where the majority is going. It also can help us in making big decisions such as if you should finance a car or start a new project around the house. It also helps when you are planning for future expenses, like college tuition.

eHow has some great advice on How to Set up a Family Budget in 7 easy steps.

  1. Get out three months of pay stubs and determine your average monthly income.
  2. Gather three months of bills, add them up and divide by three to calculate your monthly fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities and phone, car payment, insurance and student loan payments.
  3. Add together three months of other monthly expenses, including groceries, clothing, credit card expenses, medical bills and cash outlays. Divide by three and add the result to your monthly expense total.
  4. Evaluate your expenses; look for opportunities to economize, and develop a plan to cut back spending in specific areas.
  5. Develop a monthly budget and stick to it.
  6. Set up a savings plan such as a passbook account, CD or IRA, and begin making regular deposits.
  7. Track your income and expenses monthly to evaluate how the plan is working, then fine-tune to produce the desired results. Use personal finance software to gain an accurate overview of your spending and locate problematic habits.

The Joy Of Buying Local

7e9362b702fcdea82bd7-lYesterday my colleague Deanna posted about ways to cut your grocery bill in half. I want to expand on number six and share with you my experience last week.

There’s a great little place called Highway 22 cafe near the city where I live. The have amazing food and even better milkshakes. Its an eat out favorite for all of our family and friends. So, for a special date with my wife last week, we went out to the Cafe to have a marionberry milkshake. I’m not sure what the special recipe is for their milkshakes, but I would pay a lot of money for it. After we enjoyed our milkshake, we walked around some of their other buildings outside of the restaurant and realized that the Highway 22 Cafe is much more than just a restaurant.

In their outlying buildings they have fresh produce and plants on sale for the public. We perused all of the fresh fruit and vegetables and picked up some marionberries, blueberries and other great berries and vegetables.

We then proceeded to take many attempts at producing our own amazing milkshakes. While we fell short, the point is this: we saved a bunch of money buying fresh, local, healthy produce from a local business that will last us a while and curb our ‘eating-out’ cravings.

So this summer, consider making your own homemade icecream or milkshakes, and other snacks that your family will enjoy. You’ll save money on eating out and create special summer memories together.

7 Tips to Help Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

groceriesSaving Money – That’s the name of the game. If you can cut your grocery bill in half, then you will be on the way to saving a lot of money.

Here are some helpful tips to save you money on our next shopping trip:

1. Stop buying plastic wrap, tin foil, and sandwich bags – For everything you would need those items for, their are re-usable (ec0-friendly) alternatives like tupperware or fabric bags that keep your sandwiches fresh.

2. Use Coupons – Over at Twin Mama Loves she posted about How to build your stash of coupons. Online you can find a ton of great coupon sites to help you find the coupons you need.

3. Grow your own – Even if you live in a small apartment you can grow a garden with a sufficient amount of food to help cut your grocery bill.  Oh My Apartment has some helpful tips for starting an Apartment Garden. And if you live in a house, you have many choices on where and how much to grow.

4. Don’t shop when you are hungry – This is probably the most important tip. If you shop when you are hungry you end up buying things you don’t need, so to counteract those impulse buys, grocery shop after a meal.

5. Always eat your leftovers – Try making extras so that you have left overs for another meal in the week, saving you time and eating out. Try not to let your left overs get thrown away – this is a big money saver, using what you have and not wasting.

6. Make food from scratch – This may take more time but the amount of money you save by cooking from scratch is well worth it and if that doesn’t get you, the taste alone should.

7. Check the store ads before you go – Before you go on a big shopping trip check out the ads to see where you will save the most money on the things you need.

Keeping Your Summer Water Bill Low

watering-lawn-or-gardenAs the heat of summer turns up, trying to keep the grass green and the plants growing can consume tons of water and send your monthly bill through the roof. Here are some tips to help you keep the summer water bill at a reasonable level.

1. Try to take showers instead of baths.

2. Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.

3.Collect rain water and recycle it to water the plants.

4.Make sure your faucets aren’t dripping.

5.Use a bowl full of water when doing the dishes instead of leaving the tap running.

In general, turf grasses need about 3/4″ — 1″ of water per week to maintain green color and active growth. However, during certain times during the summer when high temperatures are the norm, you should allow lawns to naturally slow down in growth during those extreme conditions. You may let the lawn go almost completely dormant in hot weather. Many factors such as the soil and weather all have a role in the lawn’s water needs.

Check out American Lawns for more info on how to water your grass efficiently.

Save money while pregnant with WIC

wic_logoRecently my wife and I found out we are having twins! We are very excited but have, no more than ever, been thinking about ways that we can save money. We both work part-time and so we have to be very efficient with our finances. A friend of ours told us about an Oregon program called WIC which provides nutrition and free groceries to mothers who are expected or have newborns. The process was easy and we qualified! We went shopping yesterday and received $25 of groceries for free! Things like milk, cheese, beans, cereal, some fruits and vegetables and other essentials are available for those that qualify.

Food, nutrition counseling, and access to health services are provided to low-income women, infants, and children under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, popularly known as WIC.

WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children who are found to be at nutritional risk.   State Contacts

Established as a pilot program in 1972 and made permanent in 1974, WIC is administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Formerly known as the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, WIC’s name was changed under the Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act of 1994, in order to emphasize its role as a nutrition program.

Most State WIC programs provide vouchers that participants use at authorized food stores. A wide variety of State and local organizations cooperate in providing the food and health care benefits, and 46,000 merchants nationwide accept WIC vouchers.

The WIC target population are low-income, nutritionally at risk:

  • Pregnant women (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or after pregnancy ends).
  • Breastfeeding women (up to infant’s 1st birthday)
  • Nonbreastfeeding postpartum women (up to 6 months after the birth of an infant or after pregnancy ends)
  • Infants (up to 1st birthday). WIC serves 45 percent of all infants born in the United States.
  • Children up to their 5th birthday.

Benefits

The following benefits are provided to WIC participants:

  • Supplemental nutritious foods
  • Nutrition education and counseling at WIC clinics
  • Screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social services

You can check out the eligibility requirements at more here.

Urban Spoon

us_spinUrban Spoon is the world’s leading provider of time-critical dining data, a major division of a very important multi-national corporation, and an all-around BIG PLAYER in the multi-billion dollar restaurant information industry.

Subscribe to the Urbanspoon Monthly Newsletter and get the scoop on the restaurants in your area.

They are an informative site with cheap eats to find dining. Giving you the top ten in each category. You can vote on if you like a restaurant or not, which is a help to those who are checking out a restaurant for the first time and want to know what people think. They also have a blog portion of the site with pertinent information along with user reviews, a map and menus to look at before you go.

And if you can’t decide where you want to eat, you can spin and ta da! You have a restaurant to try. You also have options, like neighborhood, cuisine or price.

Urbanspoon is a very helpful site filled with everything you could ever want in restaurant reviews. Check out Urbanspoon and you will never get stuck eating at a bad restaurant ever again.

Quick Fixes for Wardrobe Malfunctions

555604_65730830Wardrobe malfunctions seem to come at the most inopportune times. Making it difficult to fix quickly. But Wisebread has come up with a list of ways to repair those unsightly wardrobe malfunctions using tools and items you are surrounded by daily at work or at home.

One of the most fascinating quick fixes is using a a staple to repair broken hook and eyelet fasteners, but Sharon(the Frugal Duchess) can help you put together a survival kit for fashion emergencies.

Here is the complete article; Cheap and Easy Repairs for Wardrobe Malfunctions.

For more great tips on living large on a small budget dig around Wisebread, its a great site full of frugal living tips and tricks.