textbook, textbooks, text, book, college, university, books, used, resale, re-sell, sell, chegg, rent, profit, make money, cash, amazon. College TextBook Buyback Strategy

For college textbook savings for our daughter, we've used and found that in come cases buying books are as cheap as renting them. The bonus is that at the end of the semester several of the books can be sold back to the college book store or the bookstore located near the campus. We've learned that selling back your books during finals week gives you the most success.

lemon, meringue, pie, recipe, recipes, favorite, tart, delicious, pies, lemons, merange, merang Our Favorite Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

This is a super delicious receipe and it's one of our favorites because we grow our own lemons. Even if you have to use store bought lemon juice it will still be a tart and sweet favorite.

Pie Crust Instructions

  • Bake Pie Shell at 350 degrees. 
  • Once you have pressed the pie crust dough into the pie tin, cover it with clean glass marbles. 
  • This will prevent bubbles from forming under the crust. 
  • Bake crust by itself before putting in lemon meringue filling for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Pie Filling Ingredients:

This is THE famous Libby's pumpkin pie recipe that's been on Libby's canned pumpkin label since 1950. It's our family favorite. Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie

This is THE famous Libby's pumpkin pie recipe that's been on Libby's canned pumpkin label since 1950. It's our family favorite.


  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
  • 3/4 Cup white Sugar
  • 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 2 Eggs
  • (15 ounce) Can Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can Evaporated Milk


facebook, swip, swap, swipswap, garage, sale, stuff, money, cash, cha-ching $1000 to Swip Swap My Stuff

I've earned more than $1000 in the past month selling left-over yard sale items on Facebook. My town and several surrounding towns has a Facebook group page  (Princeton Yard Sale Page) and you post a picture, add a price and cha ching. I've only had three items not sell.

Once it's sold, I drive 2 miles to town and meet the buyer in a public place and voila, money in the bank!

I've made money on un-needed stuff  that was just lying aorund the house. So far items usually sell within a few hours some sell in seconds. Of course it could be different in a big city. I live in a pretty small town of 12,000. I can get to town in about three minutes. Traffic is never a problem . . . we only have 2 stop lights!  

pie, crust, pillsbury, frozen, crust, crusts, pies, blueberry, apple, pecan, banana, creme, cream, french silk Nanny's Never-Fail Pie Crust


  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Crisco or Margarine
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • 5 TBS Ice Water


Mix flour and salt: Cut in Crisco or margarine. In a separate bowl whip together egg, vinegar and ice water.

Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix until dough sticks together and forms a ball.

Roll out between sheets of waxed paper. Peel off top layer of waxed paper and flip rolled out dough onto pie plate.

This dough can be rolled and re-rolled, it does not get tough. Can be refrigerated for one week. Makes 1 double crust pie.

sloppy, joe, joes, joseph, camp, stew, sandwich, ground, beef, delicious, recipe, easy, simple, yummy, scrumptous Simple & Delicious Sloppy Joes

An easy one-pot meal. The ingredients are simple and when combined makes a delicious dinner or lunch.


  • 2 Lbs Ground Beef  (TVP can be substituted for up to 1/2 of the ground beef)
  • 1 Medium or Large Onion — diced
  • 1 Cup Celery — diced
  • 1 Green Pepper — diced
  • 1 Cup Ketchup or 1 small can of tomato paste with 1 Cup water
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper


Stack of Pancakes, blueberry, pancake, homemade, pancakes, strawberry, banana, whipped, cream, whole, wheat, rice, flour, raspberries, eggo, egg-o, waffle, eggos, frozen, pancake, Steve’s Super-Delicious & Decadent Pancakes

This is our all-time favorite, healthy, delicious and easy to make huge batch recipe of pancakes. Add fresh fruit, chocolate chips or marshmallows to make it decadent and fun for kids. 

We always make a huge batch, eat some that morning and freeze the rest. We stack the left-overs in four stacks, five pancakes high in a zip lock bag and pop them in the freezer. They pull apart easily and can be reheated in the microwave or toaster oven. Eggo pancakes have nothing on us. 


DIY, how to, do it yourself, canning, vinegar, sweet, cherry, peppers, recipe, how to, instructions, instructables, step, step-by-step How to make Sweet Vinegar Peppers and save 90%

One of our all-time favorite meals is roasted chicken with potatoes and sweet vinegar peppers. It is indescribably delicious!! Because of the vinegar peppers mixing with the chicken broth it has a savory and tart flavor that will keep you coming back for more. 

Watch as Annette makes our own vinegar peppers for about 50 cents per quart (32 oz jar) rather than buying them for $3 per pint (16 oz jar). According to our calculations including the canning jars, lids and propane we saved more than 90% of the cost of store bought peppers. We did encounter some problems with our canning jars that almost resulted in Annette almost swearing on camera - watch at 5:17 and then again at 6 minutes.

chicken, pepper, cherry, vinegar, peppers, potatoes, potato, ez, easy, recipe, preparation, simple, cooking, recipes, roasted, crockpot, crock, pot, slow, cooker Delicious Chicken & Peppers Recipe

One of our all-time favorite meals is roasted chicken with potatoes and sweet vinegar peppers. It is indescribably delicious!! Because of the vinegar peppers mixing with the chicken broth it has a savory and tart flavor that will keep you coming back for more. And better yet, the prep time for this meal is only about 20 minutes.


  • Chicken, 1 whole. Variation: any cut of chicken with the skin on will work for this recipe - including breasts, whole chickens, leg quarters, legs, etc.
  • Mild Cherry Peppers (1 to 2) 16 ounce jars. Variation: Sweet Vinegar Peppers (see video below for how to make them at home)
  • Potatoes, cubed. One potato per family member.
  • Garlic Powder. 2 tsp sprinkled over entire recipe.
  • Salt & Pepper sprinkle to taste


Cube potatoes, and put chicken, potatoes and peppers (including all juice from the jar) into a large roasting pan or crock pot. Sprinkle with Garlic, Salt and Pepper.

Crock Pot Cooking Directions: Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. When in doubt use a meat thermometer to ensure that chicken is fully cooked.

brandy, snifter, bowl, easter, eggs, craft, resurrection, centerpiece, decor, decoration Easy Easter Centerpiece

This easy Easter centerpiece can be made from items you already have around house. We started with a large glass brandy snifter, but any large glass bowl or jar would do. We've seen some people use a one gallon pickle jar for this craft, and trim it with a pastel colored, satin ribbon wrapped around the top threaded part of the jar, and tied into a pretty bow.

Fill the bottom with Easter grass or similar packing material like Excelcior or Kraft crinkle cut paper with appropriate Easter colors.

Place several plastic Easter eggs on top of the grass and you're ready to set a beautiful table. 

We picked-up our excelcior on clearance at Michaels Arts & Crafts. We found the pastel colored Easter eggs at a garage sale.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
Easter, Resurrection, Day, Christ, Cross, craft, easter, holiday, decor, decoration, crucifixion Easter Cross

Years ago Steve took a couple of two by four pieces of wood and built this resurrection day (Easter) memorial cross for our entry courtyard.

The tallest piece is 6 feet long, the cross bar is 3 feet long and the foot piece on the upright is about 6 inches long. He used 4 nails in the cross piece and two in the foot piece and used black tempra paint for the wording. We clipped some olive branches for the "Crown of Thorns." Over the years the wood has aged to have a more rustic look. 

Gifts / Holidays
muffins, cheese, parmesan, cheddar, soup, delicious, recipe, tasty, muffin, quick, bread, easy, ez, homemade Tasty Cheese Muffins

Delicious Super Tasty Cheese muffins are a addition to any soup meal or as a snack for your kids. Whenever we serve these muffins they fly off the table—they're simply that yummy!


  • 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup white Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 TBS Baking Powder
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar Cheese grated
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Oil
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top


Preheat oven to 400º.
Grease 12 muffin cups – don’t use paper liners for this recipe.
Stir together the flours, cheddar cheese, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl combine eggs, oil, milk and honey.
Stir liquid and dry ingredients together.
Mixture will be lumpy, but that’s okay.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on top. 

pea, split, soup, ham, creamy, bone, peas, winter, soup, delicious, recipe, gluten, free Warm & Creamy Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup with Ham is a great, filling meal for a cold winter evening. Even in Arizona’s mild winter temperatures we enjoy a soup meal about once each week during this season. This recipe is a family favorite. This recipe is inexpensive to make and very filling. This recipe serves 10 - 12 people.


This is a simple vegetarian and glueten, free, family, favorite, recipe, terrific for using up an abundance eggplant, zucchini, tomtoes Easy and Delicious Ratatouille

This is a simple vegetarian and glueten free family favorite recipe - terrific for using up an abundance of eggplant.


Zucchini, Zucinni, zuchini, reslih, relish, recipe, easy, simple, amazing Amzaing Zucchini Relish Recipe

If you planted a garden this year and have an overabundance of zucchini, you’re not alone. Zucchini is probably one of the easiest vegetables to grow. So what do you do with your bumper crop? You can make zucchini bread, muffins, and pancakes, or things like deep fried zucchini or grating it into salads. But once you tries all of these things, then what? One year in the midst of hundreds of pounds of prolific production, Annette called a friend about other options for eating up our zucchini. Sue recommended making zucchini relish. It is a little involved, but a lot delicious. By the way, in the photo, that's our daughter Becky with Steve who is clowning around with two of our home grown zucchinis.

Zucchini Relish


Fluffy, bath, robe, fleece, terrycloth, terry, cloth, goodwill, kmart, walmart, sale, clearance Big Fluffy Frugal Robe

I really wanted a big fluffy robe this winter, but I didn't want  to spend a lot of money. So I headed to Kmart, where stuff is cheap.

I was in luck: they had robes 50% off, yippy! Unfortunately, the robes where priced at $34 each....what?
So I took a chance and headed to a new Goodwill store in our neighborhood. I was in luck! I got a like new, big fluffy Nautica robe for $5.99!

Now the kids fight over it, begging for a turn to wear the warm robe. And don't forget Goodwill Industries helps people with disabilities. So my purchase benefited more than just me!

Blue Jeans, Kids, savings, thrift, store, shorts, knees, patch, jean, dungarees Kids Blue Jean Tips

When buying kids clothes, I always buy with things with elastic waistbands.

For blue jeans, during the summer, I buy them a size bigger then needed, so they will fit in the fall or winter. If the knees wear out faster then the rest of the jeans,  patch them with some leftover fabric from prior jeans. Once spring comes, take the pants and cut them into shorts and hem. Once they are outgrown, hand them down to a younger sibling. If the jean are from a girl its very easy to turn them into a skirt.

I usually pay a dollar a pair for pants at yard sales. Save worn out blue jean fabric and use for patches. 

Fruit Salad - Fresh, scrumptious, delicious, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, ugli, fruit, pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries Disappearing Fresh Fruit Salad

This delicious fresh fruit salad recipe gets a 10 on our family favorite rating system. If you make the recipe too small, it will disappear in just a few minutes. We usually fill an 8 quart bowl with the mixture. It's great for feeding a large crowd and having some left-overs for the next day.


Dice your favorite fruits — purchased in season of course! Here are some of our suggested combinations. Feel free to use your favorites and your creativity - you really can't mess it up!

Summer: 1/2 Canteloupe; 1/2 Honeydew; 4 Peaches; 4 Nectarines; 20 Strawberries; 1 container of fresh Blueberries

Avoid using watermelon - it just doesn’t do well in this recipe.

Fall / Winter: 4 Apples; 5 Oranges; 1/2 of a whole fresh Pineapple (or one 20 oz can); 3 Kiwi; 3 Bananas

Mix in 8 oz to 16 oz of flavored yogurt (vanilla, strawberry or raspberry). Coat the mixture liberally with yogurt.

Optional: Mix in a 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows.

Call the crew to eat . . . just stand back to avoid being trampled.

If stored over a couple days, the marshmallows will eventually dissolve and the fruit will give off more liquid. If you have kids, this recipe probably won't last more than a day or two.

cappacuino, coffee, starbucks, keurig, kuerig, david, bach, latte, factor, save, money, economiser, America's Cheapest Family, cappacuino Free Coffee - No "Latte Factor"

Instead of buying a $3 coffee while I'm out doing errands, I take advantage of the free coffee offered at my bank and credit union.
financial institutions in my area have a an automatic one-serving coffee maker with to-go cups for customers. Some even offer flavored coffees! 
Once or twice a week when I am doing my banking, I'll make a cup of coffee while there, and then take it with me to enjoy while completing my other errands! No latte factor!

Entertainment / Recreation
Flavored tea recipes 10 Refreshing Iced Tea Recipes

Creating delicious iced tea combinations is a snap with these 10 tried and true recipes from tea loving friends.

1) Simple Iced Tea with Lemon
4 regular tea bags in ½ gallon of water. Serve with lemon slices.
Submitted by Donna B.

2) Mint Tea
Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
Add 6 tea bags and a handful of mint leaves. Let Steep for several hours. Strain and pour condensed tea into a gallon pitcher and fill with cold water.
Submitted by Amy S.

3) Light Orange Spiced Tea
Put 6 bags of decaf Green Tea and 3 bags of decaf Constant Comment into a pot to boil.
Turn off the heat when it comes to a boil and leave uncovered to cool down. This makes 1 gallon of light, orangy-spiced tea. Option: Add ¾ cup of Stevia to sweeten.
Submitted by Martha H.

French, Onion, Soup, delicious, easy, recipe, economides, frugal French Onion Soup Recipe — Delicious & Easy

This is one of our family favorites on cold winter nights.


  • 6 to 8 Onions (sliced into rings)
  • 64 oz water with 8 beef bullion cubes or use beef stock
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions: This is a great recipe to prepare in a crock pot or 8 quart sauce pot. We usually put all ingredients in the crock pot and cook it on low all day. Ladle into ceramic bowls or very large ceramic tea mugs. Place bowls on a cookie sheet for ease of getting them in and out of the oven. Top each bowl with a piece of bread and a slice of Swiss cheese. Adjust oven rack to get the bowls fairly close to the broiler. Slide tray with bowls into oven. Set oven to broil and cook until the cheese starts to turn golden brown.

Serve with baked potato and veggie toppings for a more substantial meal.

Computer Mistakes Fast Mistakes

Computers have allowed us to make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila
~Mitch Ratcliffe 

Office / Computer
cabbage, salad, oriental, sesame, almonds Awesome Oriental Cabbage Salad Recipe

Oriental Cabbage Salad. This is one of our all-time favorite salads to have any time of year!  Easy to make and great for taking to pot-lucks, big events, entertaining or as a side dish for dinner. If you don’t finish it all at one meal, just be aware that the oriental noodles and the nuts will get soggy, so you may want to toss those on to individual servings instead of mixing them in.


chicken, turkey, pot, pie, easy, recipe, veggies, vegetables Simple Chicken Pot Pie

This is a delicious and easy way to use up left-over chicken or turkey. You can also use up left-over veggies you have in your refrigerator or a bag of mixed vegetables.

Start by making your own pie crust — any general information cookbook will have this recipe. If you’re really strapped for time, buy a ready made pie crust from the dairy case of the grocery store.

Pot Pie Filling - Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 Cups Diced, Cooked Chicken
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (10 oz.)
  • 1 Bag, Frozen Mixed Veggies (1 lb.) or 3 to 4 cups of left over veggies from your refrigerator.
  • Season to taste with onion powder, salt and pepper

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Lay bottom pie crust into a glass (or aluminum) pie plate. Pour ingredient mixture into pie crust. Place top crust over mixture and flute the edges to seal the crusts. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until crust is golden brown). Let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with applesauce and enjoy.

Banana, bread, over, ripe, overripe, bananas, chips, chocolate, recipe, easy, fast, quick, bread Tasty Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This recipe is a great way to use up overripe bananas. We store the bananas in a zippered plastic bag in the freezer until we have enough to make several loaves.

We also use this recipe to make Christmas Banana bread (if we've run out of our annual recipe of Christmas Pumpkin Bread). The photo was taken last Christmas when Annette made an extra batch of Banana Bread — about 20 loaves.


Cracker, Barrel, apples, baked, cinnamon, delicious, easy, recipe Delicious & Easy Baked Apples

Annette came up with this simple recipe after a trip to a Cracker Barrel Restaurant on a recent vacation. Their baked apples are tender, sweet and juicy — mmmm mouth watering. This is a great way to use up apples that are past their prime or have a few bruises on them. 


  • 10 to 15 apples
  • 1 stick Margarine or Butter
  • 1 to 2 tsp. Cinnamon (to your taste)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar

Instructions: Core and slice the apples in eighths, leave skins on for nutrition value. Melt margarine or butter in large frying pan or pot. Add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook on medium heat leaving the lid on the pot or pan, stirring several times until apples are tender — about 15 to 20 minutes. Thicken the juice with cornstarch or flour. Yum – everyone loves these.

Refrigerate leftovers and eat as a snack or put on top of ice cream or pancakes.

cinnamon apples, baked, apples, delicious, recipe, easy

beef, jerky, recipe, easy, simple, london, broil, beef, steak, jerk, fast, delicious Simple Beef Jerky Recipe

This is a fantastic tasting recipe. Whenever we make it, much of the finished jerky never makes it into storage — it disappears right as it comes out of the oven.


Start with 1 London broil, approximately 2 pounds.
When meat is partially thawed, slice with a very sharp knife. Cutting when the meat is partially thawed will help you cut it more evenly.
Cut strips no more than 1/4 in. thick.
Mix the following ingredients:

4 Endearing Children's Books

You all know that we love books. And reading books to our kids was a part of everyday life from their youngest days. We also love to find heartwarming books that give us and our kids a sense of what each holiday truly means and some of the history about it. And that's what you'll find in each of these books.

Gifts / Holidays
easy, recipie, recipe, meringue, easy, merange, maringe Nana's Easy Raspberry Meringues

This is one of our family favorites. Always light and super tasty. 


  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Vinegar
  • 1 small box Raspberry Jell-O Mix (do not use sugar-free)
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips (optional)

Also need brown paper or parchment paper
Electric mixer with whisk attachment


Beat Egg Whites with salt til foamy.
Add jello and Sugar gradually.
Beat until very stiff (with electric mixer using whisk attachment).
Mix in Vinegar.
Fold in Chocolate Chips.


Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet covered with Brown Paper or Parchment Paper.

​Super Football Bowl Snack This is the perfect appetizer or hors d’oeuvre for any party or get together. We’ve called them Piggies ‘n blankets (other names include: Sausage Roll, wiener winks, kilted sausages, mini crescent dogs and franks in jackets), but our kids call them delicious. Great for holidays such as New Years Eve, birthday parties, brought them to potlucks and they are super for entertaining.  Economides, America's, Cheapest, Family, Snacks, hot, dog, football​ Simple: Piggies 'N Blankets — Super Football Bowl Snack

This is the perfect appetizer or hors d’oeuvre for any party or get together. We’ve called them Piggies ‘n blankets (other names include: Sausage Roll, wiener winks, kilted sausages, mini crescent dogs and franks in jackets), but our kids call them delicious. Great for holidays such as New Years Eve, birthday parties, brought them to potlucks and they are super for entertaining.

walmart, biscuits, pillsbury, rhodes, grands, crescent, roll, refrigerator, hot, dog, bar,s, bar-s, franks, dogs, farmer, john, morrell, morel, morrel, ball, park, hebrew, national


  • 4 pack of 7.5 oz cans of buttermilk biscuits (10 biscuits per can). We’ve used Great Value (Walmart) and Pillsbury
  • 3 packages of 8 count hot dogs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees 

 sausage, smokie, lil, sausages, hot, dog, bar,s, bar-s, franks, dogs, farmer, john, morrell, morel, morrel, ball, park, hebrew, national

Cut each hot dog into 5 pieces and put all into a large bowl.

easy, delicious, pumpkin, bread, recipe, Annette Economides,, America's Cheapest Family Easy Delicious Pumpkin Bread

This is a family tradition at the Economides home. Every year Annette takes Halloween pumpkins (picked up for free after Halloween), cooks and processes the flesh, then freezes it to be used in December baking. She bakes close to 100 loaves of pumpkin bread (in various sizes) to be distributed to teachers, coaches, mechanics and even the mailman and garbage truck driver. The loaves are inexpensive (about $1 for a large loaf and about 25 cents for a small one). She wraps them in aluminum foil and finishes it off with a simple red or green ribbon.

The video shows you how we go through the entire process of mixing, baking and wrapping the pumpkin bread.

​Crumbly, Frozen, Cheese, Solution, Cheddar, Swiss, hard, Parmesan, Colby, Monterey Jack The Secret to Slicing Frozen Cheese!

I came across the frozen cheese problem as well. If you freeze it, then thaw it, it can’t be sliced – it crumbles.

Here in Sweden, cheese is sickeningly expensive, but I needed to have hard cheese a couple of mornings each week.

Freezing it was no problem, but how to thaw it was. The trick is to let it “sweat it out” at room temperature. I set it on the counter on a plate and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave it out until it comes to room temperature and starts to sweat. Then put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. It will be easy to slice after that.


Stash Tea, Bed & Breakfast Guide, StashTea Buy one night get one free Stash Tea Bed & Breakfast BOGO

My husband and I use the Stash Tea Bed and Breakfast guide when we take small vacations, they offer a deal that is buy one night and get the second free. The customer must buy three boxes of Stash Tea and send in the UPC code with $3.95 to receive the guide in the mail. Here is the link!

Shelf Items, Vacations / Travel
Walt DisneyWorld, Deals, Smart Vacation, Disney The Foot Locker — Disney Savings for Military Families

Shortly after September 11 (9/11), Disney Theme Parks began offering one free seven day park hopper pass for active duty military personnel and half-off for immediate family members.

My husband had just returned from  deployment, and our children, then 6 and 7 ½, were the perfect age for a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. With their discounted fare and some careful planning, we were able to enjoy an almost ten day vacation for around $2,500 for a family of four (this included gas, lodging and food).

Lodging: Many of the park hotels offer discounts for military, but we found staying outside the park (Lake Buena Vista) was even less expensive. We took advantage of the free shuttles to the park. To save on dining, we packed our own breakfast and snack foods in a foot-locker, brought a toaster and small electric griddle for eggs. I was able to get half-off the cost of the daily rate for an in-room refrigerator by asking for a discount from the hotel.

Breakfast: In the morning, we would have bagels and cream cheese, instant oatmeal or a quick scrambled egg sandwich and fruit.

Snacks: To save on food at the theme park, my children each had a small backpack that was stocked with a boxed drink, a crunchy snack, a sweet snack and fruit slices. (Prior to our trip, I gave each child seven sandwich bags {labeled with the seven days of the week we would be at the park) markers, crayons and stickers. After decorating, they were allowed to fill each bag with the non-perishable snacks of their choice). This greatly reduced our food costs and kept the children content while waiting in line for rides. An added bonus was that no one was starving when it came time for lunch and we could often split just two adult meals.

Vacations / Travel
Squished pennies - Elongated pennies - coins Squished Memories

Our favorite souvenir has become the squished pennies out of the machines. They are just about at every tourist spot we have been to and only cost less than $1.  Long ago, I purchased a little album that they fit into for around $5.


Photo Courtesy of

Vacations / Travel
discount cruises, cruise, save, bahamas, sailing Cruising For Way Less

Cruising for Less

We (hubby, grandson, and me) like to go on cruises. We plan ahead, booking the cruise with the "Early Saver" rate usually in January. By booking that rate we can call in and price reductions taken off of our balance prior to cruising or, if we’ve paid in full we get on-board credit. At this point we have more than $1000 in onboard credit. I check the site regularly looking for price drops. Hubby has a Carnival MasterCard that we charge some of our monthly bills on and pay off a day or two after we use it so we never have a balance. We earn points on this card and have almost enough points saved up for another $200 in onboard credit. Try CruiseDirect to find discounted cruises.

Other Ways to Save

CVS: I have been couponing at CVS to earn gas cards for the drive down to Miami from SC. I’ve earned 8 so far. It takes a while to accumulate as I don't buy anything we don't use or that I don’t have a great coupon on.

Coke: I save Coke reward points to earn $3 off a case coupons which I also use in the CVS deal when Coke is included in the gas deals.

Kellogg’s: I save Kellogg's Family Reward points to use on high value Kellogg’s items when they are included in the gas deal.

Vacations / Travel
Groupon Vacation Meal Deals - save money on vacation Planning for Discounted Vacation Meals

My husband and I just returned from a vacation and we were able to save a lot of money on food by searching Groupon and for meals prior to our trip. We went to Vegas and about three-months prior to trip I started watching Groupon and other sites for discounts on meals. I was able to get 6 meals (one per day of our trip) and they were all on the Vegas strip. They were all restaurants that we had never been to before and our total cost for meals was only $93! Plus, we were able to pay for  them in advance so we spent very little additional on our trip!!!  

The best part about these meals was that we had extra leftovers to bring back to our hotel to snack on later .   

I suggest that you start checking these sites on a daily basis about 3 months prior to your trip to see if they can get some good deals as well. We use Groupon, Living Social,, Double Take Deals, Get My Perks.  It's well worth the time and makes vacationing way more affordable!

Vacations / Travel
Texas Travel, waffles, tips, vacation Texan's Travel Tips

Gas: If we’re taking a driving vacation, I go to Walmart and put money on a gift card if I know we’ll pass by a Walmart during our travels. You usually can save about  5-10 cents/gallon. This really adds up if you’re driving a long distance.

Hotel: My husband isn't one for roughing it. And having a young child, I don't get many opportunities to stay at hotels. To get the best deal I check different websites for hotels in the areas I'm staying. I usually end up using The second best one has been

Food: We take an ice chest to bring lunch items, drinks, snacks, & even breakfast stuff like fruit, oatmeal, bagels or cereal (unless we’re staying in a hotel that provides free breakfast). We also prepare sandwiches ahead of time and pack them in an ice chest. If you want, you could buy sandwich fixings when you get to your destination and prepare them again before you head home.

Dining Out: If eating out, have your big meal at lunch time as lunch tends to be cheaper than dinner especially during the week. If you have kids, research which chains have “kids eat free” days. Try to plan you’re schedule to hit these and save.

$10 off $100 coupon with coupon code THANKS10 at!

Vacations / Travel
Steve  Economides, Slicing cheese, moneysmart, America's Cheapest Family, frugality, expert, saving, money, expertise, author Cutting the Cheese and Saving

Watch how we sliced 20 pounds of cracker sized cheese for appetizers for our daughter's wedding. We found a way to do it quickly, consistently and less expensively than buying presliced cheese from the grocery store.

BYO - Oil?

 I recently had my oil changed. When I went in, I asked for their very best deal . . .   I wanted to let you know what they said they would do if I really wanted a good deal on getting my oil changed.
At Express Oil Change (located in 13 states), they said if I bought my own oil and filter and brought it to them, they would change my oil for me for $17 instead of the $38 it normally costs in our area.  I thought that was a great deal and wanted to share it with you frugal friends!  If you can find a good sale at the auto parts store for oil and a filter you can really cut the price in half of what it would normally cost you to get your oil changed. 

It pays to ask if your local oil change facility will do the same.

Auto Saving Money Online Coupon Sources

If you have time, coupons can save you a boodle. We find most of our coupons in the newspaper and magazines we receive. We also download special offers from our local grocers loyalty programs. But another great way to find high value coupons is through a couple of great websites:


2) Grocery Coupon Network

Both sites have hundreds of coupons you can search through. requires you to download their printer app which sometimes can be a problem.

No Fuzzy Strawberries

We love strawberries—especially when we buy them on sale. But we hate seeing our savings turn into a science experiment. We've gotten into the habit of eating fresh strawberries for a day or two, then slicing and freezing the rest. We can then enjoy strawberries, bought on sale, for months to come. 

We slice the strawberries in half or quarters and lay them out on a cookie sheet. 

We put the cookie sheet in the freezer overnight.

In the morning we scoop up the strawberries and put them in a zippered bag. 

Frozen strawberries cost between $3 and $4 per pound. Ours cost at least 50% less and sometimes even less!

That's a really sweet deal!

Frozen Foods
100 MoneySaving Websites

This list of the top 100 money saving sites was sent to us by Joseph Atkins who is the blogger in chief and managing editor of
Here's what he writes about this list:

Let’s face it—we could all use an extra buck nowadays. But it’s a given fact that many of us don’t know about the thousands of freebies and tips there are on the net to help us save money. This list gives you a great jumping-off point for learning how to live frugally and save your money for the more exciting things in life.

Chopping Shopping

How we shop to save time and money

”I’m running to the store to pick up a couple things for dinner— be back in 20 minutes.” This is the mantra of the harried shopper, home from work or rushed at the end of a day of non-stop errands or transporting kids to various activities.

For some families a trip to the grocery store has become a  “daily necessity.” We shop once a month and spend an average of $350, which includes all food items, paper goods and cleaning supplies. Limiting our food shopping not only saves time but loads of money, too. It wasn’t always this way—here’s how 
we started.

When we were first married and living in an apartment—with a very small refrigerator/freezer—Annette went food shopping once each week. A year later, she met a neighbor who had a free-standing freezer in her apartment. This neighbor offered to share a shelf in her freezer, so, we took her up on the offer. We stretched our shopping to two-week intervals. It took about the same amount of time to shop for two weeks’ groceries as it did for one. With this one change, we cut our shopping time in half.

In 1984, we purchased a small 9-cubic-foot used chest freezer. We decided to try to stretch our food shopping to once a month to feed our family of three. We’ve been doing it together ever since—twelve times a year we go on a “hunt” for a month’s worth of food. The whole process from leaving the house to putting the groceries away takes about  five hours. Over the years, the process has evolved. Here’s how we do it now.

Manna for Life Manna for Life

We have drastically reduced our food bill every month by using a program that is offered in our area called Manna for Life that is offered by our church.  It is a box of $130 worth of food that you can buy for $30.  My mother-in-law also has a bread ministry at her church.  She picks up left over bread, pastries, etc from Albertsons and brings it to her church and then they put out the bread on Sundays for people to get for free.  When we need bread we tell her and she gets us some bread from this ministry.  It helps us a lot and has been a blessing.

Cheap Sweaters Make Great Gifts

I have gotten sweaters half off at Goodwill, I only purchase items that have the discounted colored tag of the week. I then make slippers/leg warmers out of the sleeves and throw pillows out of the body.

Clothes, Gifts / Holidays
Military Museum Store Men's Gifts - Military Stuff

Look for gifts in small, unique shops. I volunteer at a Military Museum where there is a store that sells Military and Camoflage items. I have found that some of the best gifts come from small and independent stores. They are not the most expensive gifts, but they are different, unique and memorable.

Gifts / Holidays
Claussen Pickles For Pickle-Lovers: Re-Pickling!

My daughter came up with a great idea recently.  We love Clausen pickles.  After consuming the pickles I cut up cucumbers and put them in the juice to enjoy.  I can use the pickle juice about three times (3 separate cucumbers) before i have to throw the juice away.

Shelf Items
Out to Eat with Kids for Free Kids Eat Free

If you've got kids and you want to know which restaurants in your area offer free kids meals visit Out To Eat With Kids. Just put in your zip code and you'll find restaurants listed by miles from your home and day of the week that they offer free kids meals.


Entertainment / Recreation, Kids
vegetable, garden A simple gardening idea

We've been successfully using a modified version of Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening concept for years. His concept is to plant 12 inch squares of the items you want to grow rather than long rows. We like planting in squares because it affords us the ability to cover the squares with a wire cloth cage to keep birds from eating the tender shoots as they come up. Birds are the worst predator to our gardens.

square foot gardeningMel's method makes gardening for beginners much easier.
Visit the official site of Square Foot Gardening and Mel Bartholomew.

It has photos, teaching videos and directions to create your own small or large garden. It even includes tips on how to make "Mel's Mix" a simple soil mixture that will make most anything grow.

Mel also has a book that describes his method. Read about it here.

Start small and expand as your gardening expertise improves. You'll be eating healthy, organic veggies before you know it.

economides garden beds
Here's a recent picture of four of our garden beds, taken in April. Our tomato plants are about 2 feet tall, our Chinese pea pods (a winter crop) are starting to die out, radishes and spinach are growing like crazy. We've also got some hollyhocks, artichokes, oregano, and asparagus growing in this photo.

Budget, Stretch, mvelopes, finance control A Better Way to Control Your Spending

The more control you have over your money, the more money you'll have.

This is the best computer based budgeting system out there. uses the same system we describe in our book. It's better than Quicken and MS Money, both of which only track your spending after the fact. Mvelopes helps you save money in advance of your purchases. You'll be amazed at what happens when you know that the money is in the bank before you spend. You'll have so much more confidence and peace, and you'll probably spend much less too. Mvelopes claims that you'll save at least 10% by utilizing their system.

We've been using a system like Mvelopes since 1982 and we've never had a car payment, paid off our first house in 9 years and paid cash for everything else. Budgeting isn't a restriction — it creates financial freedom.

In the past Mvelopes charged for their basic budgeting software. Now it's completely free. If you want to have more than 20 budget categories or want help managing debt they have services available for a fee. We've talked to different members of their staff and like their attitude and customer service. We've also set up an mvelopes system for our business.

Budget, Education
Never Pay Retail I Avoid Black Friday!

I have not participated in Black Friday in the past nor will I ever. Here's a better tip in my opinion.

I shop at thrifts and consignment stores. Our spoiled society gives away the most amazing good quality items. I pick up all kinds of super gifts for pennies and my friends and family are always pleased. Most are out shopping like lunatics at the chain stores, so the thrifts are not at all crowded. Just my way of saving money and hassle and not contributing to the big retail corporations.

Awesome, cleaning, solution, homemade, hydrogen peroxide, carpet, cleaning, laundry, dawn dish detergent Clean Nasty Carpet Stains

We spotted and cleaned our entire family room carpeting a little more than six months ago. We had some stains from kids and dogs that looked like they were cleaned, but all of them resurfaced. It was discouraging.

Steve found this "recipe" on Pinterest and decided to try it. Our carpets now look brand new — it's amazing.

- 2 oz Hydrogen Peroxide (3% - brown bottle from drug store)
- 1 oz Dawn Dish Soap (blue original formula)

He put it in a spray bottle and lightly sprayed the carpet in a no visible area to test it. It didn't bleach or stain the carpet, so he tried it on the nastiest area that he had previously cleaned with conventional carpet cleaning solution several times.

He sprayed and then scrubbed with a clean rag in multiple directions.

Then he took a second spray bottle with filtered water and sprayed and scrubbed again - lifting off even more dirt. He wanted to remove as much of the detergent as possible.

The result was amazing. We're going to watch the areas because they looked clean after using conventional carpet cleaning also. We'll update in six months.

Dawn and Hydrogen Peroxide - Miracle Satin RemoverThere are other variations of this recipe using less dish soap that might work, just test for yourself and see.

Bonus Update:

Housing & Home Repair
Rice Krispies Treats Crummy Cereal Dessert

When my two sons were growing up, they always left that last inch in the cereal box because they both hated the "fluff" at the bottom.  I could not just throw it out, so I put all cereal leftovers into a large container. 

Since I cook in large batches, I turned this mix into dessert, using either the Rice Krispie Treat recipe or the Puffed Wheat recipe.  Patting this all into a very large pan and letting it cool, I then cut it into squares.  Then these were wrapped into wax paper singles and put into the freezer.  My sons and two nephews all loved this 'new' dessert!  And when the box of cereal was Fruit Loops, the squares were quite colorful!

Here's the recipe:


3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
— OR —

4 cups miniature marshmallows

6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal (or cereal crumbs)


1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.


In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Follow steps 2 and 3 above. Microwave cooking times may vary.


-For best results, use fresh marshmallows.
-1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.
-Diet, reduced calorie or tub margarine is not recommended.
-Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container.
-To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Post-Its Help Me Stick to the Meal Plan Post-Its Help Me Stick to the Meal Plan

I got your Grocery Book and love it! I was writing the meal plan on the calendar, but then when there was a change in plans, such as unexpected company, or everyone sick with the flu and only eating chicken soup, I had to cross out, erase and rearrange. Now I figured out that if I simply write each dinner on a post-it-note, I can simply move it to another day. So easy to stick to the plan even in an unpredictable world!

Celiac Disease cure I Like Facebook for Celiac Disease

I live in a small city and I have celiac disease.  To save money and add variety to my diet, I communicate on Facebook with several other gluten-free households.

vinegar and baking soda for cleaner drains No More Drain-O

We no longer buy drain cleaners. We use a combination of 1 cup of baking soda pour into the drain then 1 cup of vinegar on top of the baking soda and let it set for a few minutes then run hot water down the drain. If it doesn't get all the clog try again and let it set longer before running the hot water. You'll get clean drains w/o the harsh chemicals and they smell so much fresher too.

see photo below

Cleaning & Products
Farm Sense for Chickens, Pigs and Worms Farm Sense for Chickens, Pigs and Worms

Egg Shells:I bake my egg shells for a few minutes, usually I pop them into the oven after turning off the oven, and let the shells bake while the oven is cooling down. Then I then crush them and feed to my chickens (along with their food) as a calcium additive w/o having the expense of buying it at the store.

Potato Peels: If I feed potato peelings to my chickens, I pour the boiling water left over after boiling, as raw peelings take as much energy for the chickens to process as they would get from them, so by boiling they get the energy without burning as much.

Molting: Also, if your chickens are molting, offer them dry cat food along with their regular food, it gives them the protein they're burning trying to grow out new feathers.

Cayenne for Laying: If they're not laying well, give them some Cayenne pepper flakes, I just sprinkle it over their food once a week. It does help them lay and they'll snap the flakes up faster than the food.

 Cayenne for Pigs: Or I put them into a compost bucket for my feeder pigs along with any other scraps that don’t include bones. I try to de-bone all meats before cooking and offer the raw bones to my livestock guard dogs, cooked bones aren't good for any animals.

Worms: All paper products, used napkins, paper towels etc, are put into the compost bin along with used muffin tins, coffee filters with coffee grounds, and tea bags and give it to my worms.

Meredith Vieira The Today Show with Annette Economides — Dough Ornament Simple Dough Ornaments

These are extremely easy to make and a great craft for younger kids to help with.


4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tsp powdered Alum
1 ½ cups water 

simple dough ornamentsMix ingredients in a large bowl. Roll out dough to 1/4” thick on pastry sheet with a rolling pin. Use cookie cutters to cut holiday shapes.
Poke a hole in the top of each ornament with a pencil or nut pick.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 60 minutes at 250 degrees. Turn and bake an additional 60 minutes until hard and dry.
Let cool. Sand lightly and decorate with paint, marker or crayons. Once paint is dry, spray with a clear coat or shellac. Insert ribbon through hole and hang on your tree.

Matt Lauer with a home made dough ornament



Matt Lauer with his personalized dough ornament,
on the set of The Today Show with Steve, Joe, Annette and Abbey. 

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
Easy & elegant tinsel wreaths for holidays: Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, St. Pattrick's Day, Elegant & Easy Tinsel Wreath

This is an inexpensive favorite of mine. Start with a wreath — Styrofoam, straw or grapevine — about 18 inches in diameter, and two bunches of metallic tinsel garland.

Take two large paper clips and cut them in half so you have four narrow “U” shapes. Loop the end of the garland around a “U” shape and poke it into the wreath to secure the end.

Slowly and firmly wind the tinsel around the wreath. When the first string of tinsel ends, make a loop in both ends of the first and second string and secure them with another “U” clip. Continue wrapping until the wreath is completely covered.

Secure the final end with a third “U” clip.

To finish off the wreath, make or buy a bow with a wired edge and attach it to the top. This project will take less than one hour to make and always elicits oohs and aahs from those I give it to.

I usually find the tinsel on sale after Christmas or at garage sales. I love to put this in a “My First Christmas” gift that I give to newlyweds — they usually have so few holiday decorations.

This idea isn't just for Christmas, you can also make these wreaths for other occasions by varying the color — pink or red for Valentine’s Day or Red, White and Blue for Fourth of July. You get the idea.


easy, elegant, tinsel, wreath, christmas, valentines, day, st. patty, saint, patrick, easter, chaunacka, haunnaka, 4th of july, fourth of july, independence, day

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
teen money, family, budget, savings, maturity, allowance A Child Running Your Household Budget!????

I know you just wrote a book on kids and money, but here's our best tip:

We put our 15 year old in charge of the family finances. We homeschool, so he'll get 1/2 a credit for it too. We began by taking him to a free six week  course on money sponsored by a local church. We talked about budgets, credit, tithing, and accountability. Then, we showed him our finance folder:   

1) The "master" 2012 budget which lists each category and how much money is  allotted each month to each category.  

2) Monthly budget sheets --or budgeting software, to track each individual category

3)  Monthly sheets which compare the average spent thus far during the year for each budget category, so we can easily see where we need to cut back or make other changes.

4) List of short, medium, and long term goals.  

5) Small book to record every expenditure every day.  

Then, I  cut him loose!  

For six months, from June to December, he is the "budget guru". He lists daily expenses according to their individual category,  totals them at the end of the month, and makes suggestions for changes.  Believe me, he is now fully aware that every penny must be accounted for now  that he is actively tracking our money. Money choices are now absolutely REAL to him! It's more effective than any finance curriculum that I could  have bought!

Budget, Kids
wash you hands and stay healthy Foaming Savings

I use those soap bottle that automatically makes foam to wash hands. BUT, the  refills can be quite expensive so I buy a big refill of Soft Soap regular stuff, fill my foaming soap bottle about 1/2 an inch with the regular soap and fill the rest with water. Shake and voila—foaming soap for a fraction of the cost. I have a day care and 3 daughters of my own, plus me and my husband and the refill bottle last about 5 to 6 month. And the foam sticks to little hands instead of sliding right down the drain. So their hands are cleaner.

Image courtesy of JackThumm /

Health & Beauty
shank ham lunch meat Cheap Lunchmeat - is it worth the effort?

Pork prices have been pretty low lately. We've found pork chops for 99 cents a pound and shank hams as low as 78 cents a pound. Watch this video where we slice our own lunch meat from a shank ham and let us know if you think it's worth the effort.

Don't laugh at our video skills - we're still learning . . . and Steve being headless is actually a blessing . . . right?

If you're interested in finding an inexpensive meat slicer, check out Ebay and Craigslist.

College Textbooks More College Textbook Saving Ideas

We've been using Chegg for the past two years now to rent my daughter's college textbooks. But sometimes they don't have the more expensive books, so then we turn to and have found that sometimes she can buy the books as cheap there as she can rent them. And at the end of her semester she can sell the books back to the college bookstore or the one right off campus, which pays almost as much money back as what she spent buying them on

We always check both Chegg and Amazon.

Also, last semester we had to pay an additional $58 to Chegg to keep two books a week longer than their contract lasted for. I was very upset as I am living on $880 a month income.

international editions save money, textbooks, college, university, debt, studentloans, loans, loan, debts, borrow, textbooks, text, College Text Book Savings - International Editions

I've been taking college classes for some time now and found that many times I can find an "International" edition of a specific textbook for less than the US edition listed for class. I've found them mostly found on These editions are paperback and usually contain the exact same material, but look at the description carefully.

When class is over I've sold the books through for close to what it cost me. It has been a real money saver for me, sometimes I am able to recoup all but about $10, which can make the book cost extremely low.

bill, bills, debts, invoices, savings, cable, cox, centurylink, review, debt, retirement, interest Saving By Evaluation

Go through your bills and identify expense charges on items that don't make sense! I just went through three accounts and "found" what amounts to a total of $535.56 in annual "savings."  This includes eliminating a worthless insurance plan on a three year-old cell phone, and eliminating a second HD Cable Receiver Box in a spare bedroom that apparently already gets HD channels from the main box in the living room. 

I really wished I looked at this last year, this money could have been put into my retirement account and have been earning interest. Well at least it will be put there now!

Telephone Pictionary Cheap Fun—Telephone / Pictionary Game

We learned this game from a college-aged friend a few years ago. Every time we play it we laugh until we cry.


- 1 pencil for each person
- Paper, either 1 piece per person (accordion folded so each person only sees one section of the paper) or each player gets between 4 and 9 pieces of paper (1 piece of paper per person playing- stapled into little pads). Watch the video below to see the pad example.

Number of players between 4 and 9

Ages: between 6 and 100

This was the first time we ever played Telephone Pictionary—we loved it. We each used one sheet of paper that was accordion folded (purple sheets).

Here's how we played:

1. Everyone writes a phrase on the first piece of paper.

All of the pads of paper get passed to the right.

2. The second person reads the phrase and draws a picture depicting the phrase on the second piece of paper.

All of the pads of paper get passed to the right.

3. The third person writes a phrase based on the second person's drawing.

All of the pads of paper get passed to the right.

The game continues until the pads of paper return to the person who wrote the first phrase.

We take turns reading the cards and showing the pictures.

It's a simple game that can bring you hours of fun.

Watch this three minute tip about Telephone Pictionary.

Entertainment / Recreation
coupons Cut the $ Coupons Sites

Instead of wasting more money  joining sites like The Grocery Game find free ones suchs as:

These websites match coupons to stores in your area to the weekly advertised sales. I also found that these F*REE sites have the grocery stores that I go to, unlike the website that asks me to pay and doesn't include the grocery stores I frequent.



spreadable butter Spreadable Butter - Cheaper

I purchased a container of spreadable butter and saved the container when it was empty. Then I purchased some real butter and mixed it in my blender with milk—this stretches it and makes it spreadable, just like the manufactured kind, only this is real butter!

I'm so glad my grandmother taught me this trick! Here are a couple of other options:

            OPTION 2
Use canola oil to stretch the butter:

- 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
- 1/3 cup canola oil
   (or any flavorless oil you prefer)

This is a higher calorie options as
oil is 100% fat whereas butter is
only about 80% fat.

    OPTION 3
- 2 sticks of butter

- ¼ cup oil
- ¼ cup water









after christmas sale After Christmas Bargains

I shop the after christmas sales to stock up on gifts to give throughout the year. Many toys, sweaters, slippers, and jewelry go on sale at reduced prices of 75% to 90% off. Four years ago I bought five $15 cosmetics cases for $3 each and I just gave away my last three this Christmas! What a great deal!!!!







Gifts / Holidays, Health & Beauty
great, new, garage, sale, thrift, store, consignment, rummage, hasbro, mattell Garage Sale for New Toys

Don't overlook garage sales and thrift stores for great kids gifts. At first my husband thought I was crazy, but I found three toys, unopened, still in their original packaging, for $1.99 each. I just dusted them off, and they were like new! The toys where not age appropriate for my boys—they were "baby toys" and one was a "girl toy." We decided to donated them to a local toy drive at Christmas. Last year we spent almost $50 on 3 toy donations, this year we only spent $6.

Get Used Womens Magazines at the Library Cheap Magazines

I love reading women's magazines. I find it relaxing to sit and read them while I wait to pick the kids up at school, or while they play at the park.

Unfortunately magazine individual copies can be expensive, from $1.99 - $4.99 each.

Well, our local library has a "used" book section that sells magazines for 5 cents each. I found three, current month, magazines, in like new condition, and paid only 15 cents total. These would have cost about $12 new. Then I make it even better by donating them to the local clinic for their waiting room.

Camera Price Tags Price Tracking by Phone?

I recently went to the supermarket armed with my paper and pen to record the prices and units of all the items I use when my cell phone rang. That's when I remembered I had a camera on my cell phone.

I went around taking a picture of all of the labels of the items I use and when I got home I was able to make a list at my leisure. It was a lot easier and less time consuming then  hand writing them all in the supermarket.

It was fast and easy!

puppy, pillow, project, simple, fast, craft, flannel, pillow, case, chewed pillow Puppy Pillow Project

I had a twin sized pillow that got old and ripped on the side. Instead of tossing it I washed it, patched it up with some needle and thread, put it inside of an old flanel pillow case and reused it as a doggie bed from my puppy. She thought it was a brand new bed! She really likes it when I put the pillow in my laundry basket. She'll hop in and stay warm all winter. My mother-in-law has two German Shepherds and a cat and she uses her shop-vac to vacuum dog and cat hair. She said that her other three house vacuums don't compare to the suction power of her shop-vac. It's on wheels and glides well on her floor.

Crafts / Decor, Pets
Pill Splitter Savings, pills, lipitor, Paxil, Lexapro, Hydrocodone, Xanax, Tramadol, Vicodin, Lyrica, Oxycodone, Lisinopril, Cymbalta, Lipitor, Percocet, Zoloft, Metformin, Effexor, Ambien, Prednisone, Atenolol, Wellbutrin, Morphine, Naproxen, Phentermine, amlodipine Splitter Savings

To save on prescriptions, have your doctor write the prescription for double the dosage and then split the pill in half with a Pill Splitter. For example, my husband takes Lipitor 40 mg. I called the doctor's office and told them I was wanting to save money by getting his dosage for Lipitor at 80 mg. and then splitting the pill, since the 80 mg was about the same price as the 40mg.  This is saving us about $900.00 per year. Now that Lipitor has gone generic the savings aren't as great but this idea can still work with other solid pill medications. Not all medication can be split in half, but if you are taking an expensive medication, check with your doctor to see if this will work for you.





alterations - thrift store clothes Repurposed Sewing

If you have some skill with a sewing machine, this is a fun way to have the clothes you want at very little cost. I like to get larger sized clothing from thrift shops and 'repurpose' them. You can find colors and prints that you like and cut them down or totally redesign a different item. For example, a dress becomes a cute top... It's frugal and fun!

Clothes, Crafts / Decor
Dilute Dish Soap Dilute and Save

When I get low on laundry detergent, I add a little bit of water, shake and use this when I wash clothes that aren't real dirty.

I also use this same strategy with dish soap.

Another idea is when emptying a bottle of bbq sauce, add water and use this when cooking, for example in baked bbq pork chops.

Cleaning & Products
Dryer Sheet alternative Dryer Sheet - Sock your Fabric Softener

A small bottle of fabric softner last me about 8 months.  Take an old sock or wash cloth and add 1teaspoon of fabric softner. Throw it in the dryer and you have an instant dryer sheet for almost no cost!

Cleaning & Products
grilled applesauce sandwich Instant "Apple Pie"

Cheap snack for kids!  Take sandwich bread and top with applesauce and cinnamon.  Make a sandwich and butter both sides.  Cook like a grilled cheese sandwich. Sprinkle with sugar and you have an instant apple pie.  The kids love it!




veggies in the bag Veggies in the Bag

At the end of dinner time if you have a spoonful of left over corn, beans, peas etc add them to a freezer bag.  When you have enough make some vegetable soup.

Produce, Recipes
Price Tracking at the grocery store Bottom Line on Price Tracking

Every time you put away your groceries, put the price you paid on the bottom of the product. That way you will always know the price you paid and I try to always beat that price.  It's keeps me focused and I never forget prices.

finger painted wrapping paper Artistic Wrapping Paper

Saw your tips on the Today Show for gift wrap. I have a similar idea. When my boys were young (now 19 and 16) they loved to paint pictures so I bought them the paper from office supply stores that comes in easel pads and when they were done with the pictures we used it for wrapping paper. They loved telling everyone that they had made the paper.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays, paperback books Swap Your Media is a great way to get rid of books you no longer want or DVDS etc. You can list books, etc. on their website. You wrap and pay for shipping of your book or DVD to a person who requests it, you receive a credit for each one that you ship which in turn you can request a book or DVD you want. You also get credit for referrals. Image courtesy of Gualberto107/


Entertainment / Recreation
Graduate School Cash College No Debt Power Budgeting
As a single guy, saving to go to grad school, I’ve seen the value of sticking to a well defined budget. With careful planning I’ve been able to save between 30 to 40 percent of my income while still enjoying my lifestyle. Yes, I’ve eliminated a few “luxuries” but haven’t really noticed a decline in my enjoyment.
netflix Cable and Commercial Savings

Cancel Cable/Direct TV and switch to Netflix - you will save a bit on  the cable bill, but you will save a small (or large) fortune not watching all those commercials.Think about it—cable TV for $30 to $100 per month or Neflix for $7 per month. If you "need" to see a special cable show, buy a bunch of snack foods and visit a friend who pays for cable. You'll still be money ahead.

Entertainment / Recreation
family, vacation, trip, journey, inexpensive, fun, holiday Vacationing with Kids

You spoke recently on In The Marketplace With Janet Parchall, about ways to 
save money on food while traveling.  Here's what I do when we travel with our 
six little children. 

  1. Prepackaged Snacks  I divide non-perishable, snacks into individual portions, in zip-top, snack bags. 
  2. Drink Water  I also buy bottled water.  I used to bring  sippy cups or water bottles, and a water jug, but I was always pouring or  running out, and some places have really bad water.  I found that bottled water is clean and had a cover and each kid can have their own.  It just works better).
  3. Snacks  By bringing snacks with us, I can simply hand my kids snacks and water, as we are driving, and we don't have to really stop for food.
  4. Cool It   I also bring along a small cooler, with ice.  I pack foods like string 
    cheese, or even packaged meat sticks or pre-made sandwiches.  We can eat very inexpensively this way, and totally avoid restaurants. 
  5. Bring Milk   If I have a younger child, I can even  bring milk in a small container, for their sippy cup.  We still eat healthily and the kids think that it is great fun! 
  6. Save Your Cans & Bottles   Another tip, for people who live in states like Michigan, is to save all of your soda cans and bottles (we get 10 cents back for every can/bottle that we return) until just before your trip.  Then cash them in for money and use this money for things like gas and tolls.

Doing these things has made travel quite affordable for us.

Image courtesy of DigitalArt / 01.27.14

Vacations / Travel
visit a night at the museum, Smithsonian, science, industry, history, aquarium, visit, vacation, tour Nights and Days at the Museums

Buy a membership to a museum or aquarium. The total cost depends on how many you want to put on the membership. But, you'll save money after several uses. It also gives you places to take visitors when you have company. There discounts even at their gift shops. But one of the best things is that some memberships are honored at related museums in other states.

Entertainment / Recreation
meal planning cards Playing Cards in the Kitchen

I write down my entrees, sides, desserts, etc. on a separate 3 x 5 card. When it comes time to plan a meal based on what I have in my pantry and/or what's on sale, I can take an entree card, choose a side card, and choose a dessert card, too. That way I can mix and match my selections without having the same things over and over again. Then I put those meals on my menu planner (in my computer) and print it out.  I put that on the refrigerator so that my husband can see what I've got planned. When I'm through menu planning, the index cards go back in my index card box to wait for the next meal-planning session.

feeding kitty cheaper Cutting the Cost with Cats

I buy cat food at Dollar General for $0.25 per can (chicken, tuna, and salmon flavors) and my cats like it just fine. I serve it to them on "paper plates," but not the cheap absorbent paper ones. Instead,  I pay a little more and get the plasticized nonabsorbent ones. I take these inside, wash them off, and reuse them. I buy 50 plates for $2.39 at Dollar General. Plus I save meat packages and other flat store packaging to use for as cat plates. The plates cost $0.0478 each, but with at least three uses per plate, I get the average cost per plate down to around $0.016 per use.

trial sizes, small sizes, samples Buy Small / Save Big

Instead of buying in bulk, I use coupons on the smallest package available which lets me purchase the the item for the greatest discount.

Another option is to wait for the larger package to go on sale and use a 
coupon to get it for even less.

In our area a store doubles coupons to equal $1 or less, which makes some 
name brands cost only a few cents when they are on sale and I use the coupon.

One important thing about stocking up: Don't forget to rotate your products as we purchased automatic dish washing liquid and after a year it separated and would not go back together.

brads deals, black friday ads More Free Stuff

Here's how I save money and time during the holidays. Why wait til Thanksgiving to see the ads—checkout the black friday lists on line. I really like When you sign up they send the stores list as soon as available and you can also save your own customized list sorted by store and items which you can print at any time. They make it so much less confusing! I also go to JC Pennys for their free Mickey Mouse snowglobes (it's an annual tradition I've done for years with my son and now with my grand kids). I love free but get confused easily in my mature age, so BradsDeals really helps me stay on track.

Gifts / Holidays
family, fun, picnic, park, grandpa, recreation, free 21 Inexpensive Recreation Ideas

Recreation doesn't have to be expensive to be fun.

Try some of these ideas:

Winter: Ice Skating, sledding etc

Annual Events
Horse Show / Livestock show
Parades / Rodeos

High school / Colleges
Drama productions
Sporting events

City, State and National Parks

Field Trips
Factory tours—candy, bread and milk
Farms—dairy, egg, and horses
Tours—newspaper, post office, airport and radio / TV station

Museums  (look for free admission days)

Political / Patriotic / Historical
State capitol tour
Presidential Museums
Historical reenactments

Upcoming Holidays
Easter—Church Musicals
Fourth of July—Fireworks / picnics
Christmas-Church pagents

At Home Fun
Board Game Nights
Volleyball / Basketball
Flag Football

Tools to use

Entertainment book (discount coupons)
AAA Tour Books
National Parks Pass

For a more detailed list and explanation, read Chapter 10 of America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on The Money

Entertainment / Recreation
Pancakes from scratch No More Bisquick!

I never buy baking mixes. Just Google recipes for bisquits or pancakes and you will see that it's just flour & leavening (baking powder or soda) and water or milk... maybe a pinch of salt. For pancakes you need an egg, otherwise that's it. You'll save a ton of cash learning to bake for yourself. website subscribers can access Steve's Killer Pancakes from scratch recipe here.
Image courtesy of
Grant Cochrane/

childhood cancer, cancer recovery, hospital stay Childhood Cancer Family — Hospital Camping

As a former Childhood Cancer family—Thank God remission continues to hold—but... we are oh sooooo very BROKE!

Saving on food   Meals for parents and family members visiting the hospital get really expensive with 3 meals and snacks each day.

One way we found to get around some of that expense is to bring in 2 totes with lids (cold and dry storage) and a bag of ice and use them to store food in your child's room.

Include your beverage of choice (off brand pop, gatorade, juice, etc) cold cereal, 
popcorn (microwave at nurses station) bread and sandwich makings, yogurt, etc.

We also brought our favorite flavored creamer and kept it on ice and bought thermos to drink plain Jane coffee rather than hit the espresso stands.

Planning and packing ahead can offset a lot of spending!

Saving on bandaids   My daughter wanted the same fun band aids they had at the hospital, at home. They were really expensive, so I bought plain, inexpensive bandaids and then purchased so fun and colorful stickers at the Dollar Store to stick on top of plain bandaids—I just used scotch tape to keep it. These were fun for her and protected just as well after my daughter was poked or had things to keep covered.

If you're dealing with long term hospital stays, you basically have to think Camping Mode :0). Our budget didn't have room for fun just function


Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/


Health & Beauty, Medical
S.O.S. Brillo pads soap pads SOS: Half the Pad, Twice the Life

I cut S.O.S. (or Brillo) pads in half and only wet part of it when I use it. It 
lasts a lot longer if you don't wet the whole pad and doesn't rust as quickly.


Photo Credit: Steve Economides

Cleaning & Products
stock up and organize with jars and containers Bulk Storage Saves Money and Time

i buy my flour, sugar, and pasta in bulk then i put it in gallon glass or plastic containers to store.  I only have to buy these iems once or twice 
a year.

Shelf Items
clean up after your kids Toy Clutter Solution

All year long our kids leave toys and things throughout the house and we end up picking them up. To help our kids and our wallet we collect them and place them beyond the reach of the kids and hold them till Christmas time. The large box is then wrapped with all the kids' names. They now actually ask for their toys back as part of their Christmas list. An added bonus is that some lovely toys are forgotten and become more interesting again when regifted to the child that owns them. If you're interested in a book that deals with the subject, read our review of The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room.


Gifts / Holidays, Kids
postcard collecting Postcards for Home

You find gift shops everywhere you go these days.  My children are ages 5 and 7.  They tend to want to get something as a souvenir whether we are at the zoo, on a road trip, etc.  To allow them to purchase something with their allowance, but still avoid spending s too much, I have started a post card album for each of them.  When we are on vacation or a special day trip, they can choose a couple of post cards to add to their album of memories.  This is also a great way to avoid having all of the "junk" cluttering their rooms.

Vacations / Travel
meat slicer, save on deli ends Discounts at Closing Time

If you shop in smaller shops, bakeries or butcher stores you can be lucky and get extreme discounts shortly before closing time or if you buy the end-pieces of sausage or cheese.

Dairy, Meat
priceline, entertainment, disney savings Priceline and Entertainment—Super Savings on Hotels

For many years, I have been bidding for hotels on

But this year I found out that The Entertainment Book had coupons for an extra $10 off per night on any hotel booked thorough Priceline! You can save $10 per night for up to ten nights—that's $100!!!

So, when I bid $30 a night for a hotel, it actually bids $40.

We just went to Disneyland and paid $181 (tax included—$36.20 per night) for a five night stay at a Ramada Inn—with continental breakfast included!

Another way to save with Entertainment is to register your book as soon as you get it. They have additional coupons and discounts online AND they'll send you an offer next year for a hugely discounted price on your new Entertainment book.



no one deals like we do!

Vacations / Travel
frozen grapes Grapes Stay Great Longer

When you get a great deal on seedless grapes - sometimes there are some left that are starting to go soft - and no one wants to eat them. I pull them off the stems, place them - single layer in a container and freeze them. They taste great frozen!

shredded cheese Cheese—Shred It Then Freeze It!

I saw you on TV recently when a caller commented about cheese spoiling within a month. Not so! Here's what I do. I shred chunks of cheese, and freeze it flat in small ziplock bags. I just pull it from the freezer and use it in as a topping for a dish, in scrambled eggs . . . etc. Nothing goes to waste and it stores really easily.

pumpkin seed poinsettia ornament Poinsettia Pumpkin Seed Ornament

One year, we made poinsettia ornaments out of pumpkin seeds.

- Clean and dry pumpkin seeds.
- Cut out cardboard circles about 2 inches in diameter, then trace a circle about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and another about 1 inch (I think I used a quarter and a nickel to trace mine) - these are your guides to glue the pumpkin seeds.
- Start on the outer circle and glue the rounded ends all along. Repeat with the next inner circle, and then finally the smallest circle.
- Let dry, then paint red.
- Put a blob of glue in the middle and sprinkle on millet seeds (I think we bought them in the bird feed section). Once it's completely dry, spray it with some craft gloss sealant.

I used a ribbon for the hangers, and glued a loop of it onto the back and covered it with a circle of felt.

I made these 16 years ago, and they're still hung on our tree every year, so they really last!
Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
Egg Cartons for fire starters Fire Starters

My son makes firestarters from old cardboard egg cartons. Sometimes grocery stores will give you cardboard holders, but they are really cheap online. He first buys candles at a thrift store in our area . . . (go when it's 50% off day) then melts them down over the fire. Then, he adds sawdust or dryer lint to the bottom of the egg carton and pours the melted candle wax over each compartment. It is easy to just tear off the individual fire starters when needed...and they work great!

Image courtesy of Artur84 /

Crafts / Decor
Left overs for soup Leftover Soup

I have a large family: a husband and our 8 kids.  At the end of the week I use the accumulated leftovers and make a wonderful soup. I usually have everything I need in the cupboard (canned tomatoes or tomato paste, beans of any kind, noodles of any kind, frozen chicken broth I save after stewing chickens or leftover beef broth I save after doing a roast); and then I toss in almost all leftovers. This might vary each week with the type of vegetables and meat I might have. 

Believe it or not almost all my kids and husband love this soup everytime! 

I use the largest pot I have and dump it all in. It lasts in our house for at least another meal or 2.  I have used leftover roast beef, chicken, pork, etc...fresh tomatoes,  canned, paste or sauce.  I don't dump in pizza and stuff like that, but little bits of any kind of veggie and meat or even sauces and gravies or mashed potatoes. Since I do a small garden I usually add fresh carrots, zuchini or whatever I might have. After it simmers for a while and you season it up, it is one of my favorite meals.  If you don't think you have enough leftovers after 1 wk, freeze in baggies or containers until you do.

Photo Credit: Steve Economides

chopped veggies for soups Veggies for Soups or Stews

I keep a plastic container in my freezer and after a meal if there is a small amount of veggies left I place them in the container. When I make a soup or stew I just dump the container contents in my pot and have a great variety of veggies.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/

Produce, Recipes
Clean Windows with car windshield fluid Cheap Window Cleaner

Instead of buying (Windex) type of window cleaners I use the one for your car windshield. It costs less then $2.00 for a gallon. I pour it into a refillable spray bottle I saved from another product.
Image courtesy of Luigi Diamante/

Auto, Cleaning & Products
frozen Grapes Frozen Grapes

 I freeze grapes so they last longer. I like them frozen, too.

Get Free Stuff by calling manufacturers Calling For Coupons

I call the 800 number on the back of the products I use and ask if they could send me coupons.  Lots of times they do.  Purina allows me to call once a month and request coupons and they send me 4 of them, enough for a month, which is great because thats all my great dane will eat.



Image Credit: Steve Economides/

Coupons, Pets
MapQuest Google Maps for Gas Locations Map to Gas

Go to Mapquest, click on the gas icon at the top of the page, enter your zip code, and a map will appear showing the gas stations with the lowest prices in your area.You can do the same thing with GoogleMaps and


Image courtesy of Artur84 /


Auto, Vacations / Travel
BancFirst Finance works Budgeting at the Bank

I live in Oklahoma, and bank with BancFirst. They have added a program to their online banking called Financeworks (by Quicken). It links automatically to your account, and you can have it incorporate any of your other online accounts, other bank accounts, credit cards, loans, savings, etc. You can set up a budget, pay bills online, set up reminders of recurring payments and deposits, track spending, even have tracking for business related expenses. It even categorizes your purchases for you, but you can change them if it puts them in the wrong place. You can also 'split' purchases into separate categories. Great program. It can really help you get a realistic view of your finances in one location.

hand wipes Home Made Hand Wipes

I have found a good way to save on all those anti-bacterial wipes.  I use an empty container and cut up paper towels, usually in four pieces, then roll them up, stuff them in, and pour rubbing alcohol over them so they are wet.  Alcohol is a great anti-bacterial and you can find it for $ 0.50 - 1.00 a bottle.  Great when you need to wash your hands.  I use them a lot in the car.

Health & Beauty
just between friends Just Between Friends

Just Between Friends Consignment sales.  It's a great way to make cash for stuff that your little one or yourself has outgrown/doesn't use anymore.

Check out their website, they have locations in many cities across the U.S.

Clothes, Kids
Handmedown Hand Me Down Clothes Pass it Down and Pass it On

My little tip is to accept and pass on hand-me-downs. I saved every piece of clothing from my first son. Five years later I had my second one and here I am, using all the old clothes. I am now saving baby's clothes that don't fit him anymore to give out to a friend who is expecting. By the way, I am not selling or donating because I received lots of hand-me-downs for my first one, so I am sharing in kind. My favorite group is Freecycle! I've gotten lots of toys for my kids that way and when possible, I give things away, too.

Image courtesy of StockImages /


Clothes, Kids
Spices - delicious, yummy Spicier Spices for Less

I just read your article on the Dollar Stretcher about spices and how expensive they are at the grocery stores.

I buy my spices from Penzey's Spices, a small chain of spice shops and mail order catalog.  The spices are at least 1/2 what you normally pay in the grocery store and are far fresher and stronger than anything I've purchased anywhere else.  (Don't buy your spices in the dollar stores, you are throwing your money away because you'd have to use 3-4 times as much to get the same strength of flavor you'd find in Penzey's Spices). 

Most stores store their spices incorrectly or too long and you are buying junk. 

Penzey's makes small batches and keeps stock rotated in the stores so you are assured of a fresh product.

Image courtesy of Artur84 /


Shelf Items
Fresh Veggies Co-operative Produce Shopping

I am in charge of a produce co-op.  We shop about ever 4 to 6 weeks (4 weeks in prime season and 6 in off season). For $15 each, we get 3 cooking vegetables (for example, we usually get 12 to 14 pototaoes, 8 to 10 onions, 20+ carrots), 3 salad vegetables (3 heads lettuce, tomatoes, 6 to 8 squash) and 3 fruits (15 to 20 apples, 20 oranges, 1or2 cantaloupe).

Our co-op has 10 families. When it's time to shop, a team of two go to the Dallas Farmers Market to the wholesalers and make selections for a total of $150. The mimimum is always 3 salad, 3 cooking, and 3 fruits but when the prices are right, we can get up to 12 to 14 different items. 

Then each team takes the wholesale quantities and splits it among all the families. The team that shopped makes the produce available at a specific time for everyone to pick up. 

It is AWESOME!  Many times we are able to buy directly from the farmers saving us a lot of money while getting fresher produce that wasn't shipped hundreds of miles.  Its great and we love it!

Image courtesy of Hin255/


Smarter Salad Keeper Smarter Salad Keeper

When you make salad, store it in a glass bowl or 9 x 13 pan.  The cold glass keeps your salad crisp and lasts 3 times longer.  Cover tightly.

Homemade Laundry Soap Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

Instead of buying laundry soap, I make it myself.  I can make 2 gallons of liquid soap for around $2.50.








1 - 2 gallon bucket with lid


Other instruments needed:

Large pot

Blender stick


Cleaning & Products
Suave for Body Wash Cheap Body Wash

For body wash use a cheap, nice smelling shampoo (Suave) and fill a bottle.  It is cheaper then buying actual body wash and smells just as great.
Photo Credit: Steve Economides

Health & Beauty
Cheap Ink

I found a cheap place for computer ink online at  I was able to get remanufactured cartridges for $5.99 each plus only $5.95 for shipping. The shipping cost is for as many cartridges as you want to order.   


Office / Computer
half priced Sponge Cut Rate Sponges

Whenever I use a sponge I always cut it in half, right down the middle with a scissors. I only need half to wash with. The sponge lasts twice as long.

Cleaning & Products
Cow Fresh Meat Fresh From The Farm

I haven't purchased store bought meat in over 1 1/2 years. What I don't raise myself, I buy fresh from the farm.  I can get the cuts I want and at liveweights of 50 to 98 cents a pound plus processing—which is usually under 30 cents a pound. 

For those who aren't in the rural areas and can grow their own foods, check your local papers for farmers who are selling beef, pork or poultry and look for a processing plant near you. You'll get great cuts of your choice, without all the additives found in meats in the supermarkets today.  I raise poultry, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea hens for meat & eggs. I barter whole fresh cow's milk and make cheese, butter and have fresh milk too without any the additives.

Dairy, Meat
hydrogen peroxide Peroxide - Versatile for Health and Laundry

I want to share what I learned from a doctor's wife, Becky Ransey of Indiana, about the benefits of using peroxide instead of the bleach I was using for cleaning.  

Editors' Note: This tip has been circulated on the internet for years. We checked it out with and it is mostly true, with several of the applications listed as unproven. As with any frugal tip, do your own research and proceed with caution. Damaging your health is not worth trying to save 50 cents. Read more here

My husband has been in the medical field for over 36 years, and most doctors don't tell you about peroxide. Have you ever smelled bleach in a doctor's office? NO!!! Why? Because it smells, and it is not healthy!  Ask the nurses who work in the doctor's offices, and ask them if they use bleach at home. They are wiser and know better! Did you also know bleach was invented in the late 40's? It's chlorine, folks! And it was used to kill our troops.  Peroxide was invented during WWI in the 20's. It was used to save and help cleanse the needs of our troops and hospitals.  Tips for using peroxide:    

1. Take one capful (the little white cap that comes with the bottle) and hold in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit it out. (I do it when I bathe.)  No more canker sores, and your teeth will be whiter without expensive pastes. Use it instead of mouthwash.  Truth, but with limited use.

2. Let your toothbrushes soak in a cup of peroxide to keep them free of germs. 

Medical, Personal Care
all you magazine Tons of coupons - All for You!

Have you ever heard of the magazine, "ALL YOU"? It's sold exclusively at Walmart (but I get it cheaper through a subscription...only $1.69 an issue) and every magazine has $50 to $90 worth of grocery coupons in them!  I know magazines are a luxury, but when they actually pay for themselves in coupon savings PLUS give you great advice on living on a budget, then it's a great buy!

Get a great deal on AllYou Magazine through Amazon or directly from the magazine:


walking european style Walking our way to savings

We used to shop at stores that offered a gas discount, but then found their prices were higher and typically were out of our way :( We decided to move closer to all the places we typically shop and walk instead. We live on 3 major bus lines, our children ride the school bus, and I take my college classes for the most part at home on-line.

Auto, Health & Beauty
Caution at Warehouse clubs costco, bjs sams club Savings at Costco with Caution

I typically shop at Costco because I get more for my money. You can buy huge bags of certain produce, use some fresh and freeze the rest. Same with their chicken and Tiliapia. I put all my cereals, rice, snacks etc. into reusable large plastic storage containers so my children cannot see the brand and do not protest over it. If it's in a plastic container they never know the difference.  I also find huge savings on buying my spices and coffee from Costco as well. Not only do we eat healthier but we save a lot of money too.


room for rent Free Rent as Landlord For Landlord

I'm renting a room in a house from a laid-off construction worker ("John").  He doesn't own the house - he rents the whole house, keeps the whole upstairs to himself, rents out the downstairs bedrooms, and effectively lives in the house for free under full occupancy.

The landlord is okay with this as John does all but major work on the house, allowing the landlord to maintain a hassle-free income stream with minimal effort.  Because vacancies represent a cost to him (John) - not to the landlord - his screening standards are pretty lax. (I moved in because it was the only room - other than a fleabag SRO room - I could afford to move into on my poverty-level income.)

Editors' Note: SRO A single room occupancy (more commonly SRO, sometimes called single resident occupancy) is a multiple tenant building that houses one or two people in individual rooms (sometimes two rooms, or two rooms with a bathroom or half bathroom), or to the single room dwelling itself. SRO tenants typically share bathrooms and / or kitchens, while some SRO rooms may include kitchenettes, bathrooms, or half-baths. Although many are former hotels, SROs are primarily rented as a permanent residence.

So for those who have handy house skills and enough money to rent a house, are willing to play landlord and have an agreeable landlord, a person could 
live nearly rent-free. 

Housing & Home Repair
Charming Charlie Has Great Deals Charming Charlie Has Great Deals

I found a great deal at a store called Charming Charlie while in St. Louis visiting friends and family.  We also have one of these stores in Lafayette, LA, that has fantastic deals.  I wanted some of those larger bracelets and got 2 of them for $1 apiece!!!  Yay!  What great souvenirs! 

Editors' Note: Charming Charlies has locations in 19 states. Find a location near you.

Gifts / Holidays
Re-Selling Yard Sale Clothes Re-Selling Yard Sale Clothes

Whenever I go to yard sales where they have children's clothes and are doing "bag" sales ($1 to fill the bag), I buy up most of the kids clothes that are in good shape. I take them home and sort through them to see if there is anything that will fit my granddaughter. If not, I take the rest to a Kid-to-Kid location and trade them in for store credit. Then I can take my granddaughter shopping there for the clothes she needs. I did that the other day. I spent $4 and got $40 in store credit to spend!

Editors' Note: Kid-to-Kid is a franchised operation and has locations in over 20 states and also in Portugal. Click here for more info.

Multiply Your Yard Sale Clothing Deals

I have a trick that I use. Whenever I go to yard sales and they have children's clothes and are doing "bag" sales ($1 to fill the bag) I buy up most of the kids clothes that are in good shape. Then I take them home and sort through them and see if there is anything that will fit my granddaughter. If not, I take the rest to a kid-to-kid location and trade them in for store credit and then i can take my granddaughter shopping there for the clothes she needs. I did that the other day. I spent $4 and got $40 in store credit to spend.

Clothes, Kids
Century Gothic, Save, money Save 30% on printer ink

I just read a news story where the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay has switched the default font of their whole email system from Arial to Century Gothic. The director of computing, Diane Blohowiak says that this simple change will reduce the amount of ink used by 30 percent just because of the way the font is designed.

With ink jet cartridge ink costing almost $10,000 per gallon the savings could really add up.

So change your font and you could save too!

Here's what the news article said:

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WTAQ) - UW-Green Bay officials say they’ve found an easy way to save money while helping the environment. The school changed the print style on its e-mail system from the Arial font to Century Gothic. Information technology director Diane Blohowiak says it costs a lot less when e-mails are printed. That’s because Century Gothic uses 30 percent less ink than Arial. It means less ink and plastic cartridges to be thrown away – and Blohowiak says the ink in those cartridges adds up to about $10,000 a gallon. She says Century Gothic uses even less ink than the widely-touted “Eco Font.”

It’s part of a 5 year plan by the Green Bay campus to go green. Blohowiak says the money saving is enough to make lots of people support the change. The e-mail font was changed while students and staff were on their spring break. Since then, she has not heard any complaints.

Office / Computer
Negotiating Negotiating Better

One great way to save money is to negotiate the price you're willing to pay. We've negotiated at the grocery store, thrift store, universities, with people selling selling their own appliances, cars and with our own family members — especially for halloween candy.

These quotes express how we view negotiating.

* * * * * * *
In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.
Chester L. Karrass
* * * * * * * 

My father said: “You must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals.
J. Paul Getty

* * * * * * * 

Necessity never made a good bargain.
Benjamin Franklin
* * * * * * * 

Quite often, your indifference can be the greatest negotiating weapon you have.
Max Markson

* * * * * * * 

You must be fully prepared to lose a great deal in order to make a great deal.

* * * * * * * 

Amazing Price Tracker Sheet, Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half, Economides, Save Money Price Tracker Sheet

The use of this form is described in more detail in our book, Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family.

We used this form when we were first learning our prices (we got the idea from Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette newsletter and modified it for us). It's a great tool to track prices between stores and price increases over time. Use one page for each item you want to track. You can fill in prices from the grocery ads or as you walk the aisles of the store. When you see a low price you'll know it's time to stock up and save!


We've reproduced the form in .xls.doc and .pdf formats

After you've tried the form, leave a comment here and tell us if it helped you save any money.

Love of Books

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. 
  Love of books is the best of all.”

 Jacqueline Kennedy

college, text, books, textbooks Don't Pay Retail for College Text Books

The average college student is paying between $500 to $900 per semester for books. By doing a little sleuthing, we found savings as great as 87% on books needed for this semester. Before your start your search, get as much information about your text book as possible, including: Complete title, Author, Publisher, Edition Number, Year Published and ISBN number.

Here are the places we searched:

Buy used from the university bookstore and save 25%. We buy all the books at the bookstore (used whenever possible) - several weeks before classes start - then we start searching on-line using actual ISBN numbers on the books we have in hand. These books will be returned if and when we find better prices. 25% – 40% College Text Books  This site searches all of the other sites and helps you find the best deals around.

To save the most money, start your research as early as possible.

Less Stress Budget Budget Success

Just wanted to let you know I have really enjoyed all the articles you've written. I feel like I know you through your website and having seen you on TV a couple of times.

My husband is retired and disabled with Emphysema. I quit work before I could collect retirement so I could care for him. I will be able to collect retirement in another year. So, you see, we have really used much of your advice. It is such a load off our shoulders knowing how to live on less than we have coming in. Thank you!

We have done so many of the things you have suggested. The Budget Book is the only way to go! Yes, it’s extra work, but it sure helps to see what we have available to spend in each category — it’s all there in black and white.

I still have trouble with some of my wants and desires, but I am working on it. It does keep me in check, if I think I want something, to write it down and wait a month before making my final decision.

It also helped me to read Larry Burkett’s books too, glad you suggested it. My whole attitude changes each time I remember that I need to seek God’s purpose for what is supplied to us. Can’t wait until you write your next book!!

Cookin' Double

Tax Refund

Sixty-four percent of Americans have or will receive a tax refund this year. Unfortunately, most of the money will be used to catch up on bills. We encourage everyone to develop a plan for windfalls — unexpected money. Having a plan before the money comes in multiplies the effectiveness of the windfall and minimizes the emotional attachment to it. This is one of the techniques we used to pay off our houses. For more details read, "Windfalls — Bonus or Bust?".

Home Depot, OOOps, paint, returned, returns, wrong color, Paint from "OOPS" Mountain

If you know you have a painting job coming up, start scouting out the “oops” shelf at Home Depot. This is where unused, returned paint is sold at a steep discount. The paint is usually returned because the tint didn’t work for the person who purchased it. You can often find a suitable color for just $5 per gallon!!! Many times matching quart cans of trim paint can be had for only $3.

Housing & Home Repair
Mom is Cooking Again!

I really love your web site. It’s just what I’ve been needing all these years. It’s really helped me in more ways than one. I’m a single mom and for years it’s always been easier for me to go to a fast food place or restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And of course, I never had money for other things we needed. But thank God you opened up my eyes! I have since started looking through the ads on Wednesdays and I’ve gone to the grocery store (something I haven’t done for years). My fridge, freezer and pantry are overstuffed and boy is my family happy. Mom is cooking again!!!

Not only that, I’ve saved money and been able to take care of our other needs that I didn’t have money for before. Thanks for your help!

Jean from Dallas, Texas

Editors' Note: We love hearing your success stories! Keep up the good work Jean!!!!!!

College Knowledge?


So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’”

Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P
interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer in 1976.

Gift Subscriptions

Gift Subscriptions   If you want to encourage someone on their journey to financial freedom, consider purchasing a gift subscription to the HomeEconomiser Newsletter. We know it sounds like we're selling, but if you could read some of the success stories we get to read, you'd know that getting finances under control is a real struggle in many families. And the joy budgeting brings reduces stress, increases enjoyment and beats just about anything else in life!


Gifts / Holidays
Cut The Card Impulse

If you need a little more incentive to minimize impulsive credit card spending, just go to a garage sale or two. We just hosted one as a fund raiser for our scout troop. You would be amazed at the number of discarded items that were barely used or brand new.

Budget, Gifts / Holidays
Baby Food in Ice Cube Trays DIY Baby Food

Making my own baby food saved a lot of money. I used regular ice cube trays to freeze pureed fruit, veggies, or even casseroles that the rest of the family ate. I stored the food by type in zippered bags and pulled out two or three cubes for each meal. I could use two or three of the same type, or mix different foods together for variety. The book, First Meals by Annabel Karmel describes the process and has some great ideas for every stage of feeding.

More Resources below:

Expired Military Coupons Military Coupon Update

We left out some key information in a previous tip about using expired coupons on military bases. The six-month extension of expired coupons applies only on overseas military bases. But your expired coupons can still help by either mailing them to someone stationed overseas - via an APO address - using US domestic postage or by calling your local military base family service department and asking if they have a coupon exchange program in place.


Here's an excerpt from our book "Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half"

There is an organization called the Overseas Coupon Program and their Web site,, lists the bases around the world, along with addresses and names of the volunteer coordinators where you can send your expired coupons. They also provide instructions on how to package the coupons and properly fill out the customs forms. At this time they don’t accept internet or store coupons, just manufacturer’s coupons. About $10 million worth of coupons are sent to military bases each year. It’s a great way to rally around our military families and help them stretch their paychecks.


Check Your Tires!!! Seriously Important

A dear friend, Judy, sent us this link to an ABC 20/20 report about old tires being sold as new. This is EYE OPENING and DANGEROUS. Check your tires and be safe!

Auto - Save on College Text Books

College text books are a source of frustration and great expense for many students and parents. We currently have one kid taking college classes and are appalled at what the bookstores are charging for text books.

For years we've done the research using ISBN numbers and edition numbers to find used books through, Ebay and Amazon. We've racked up some significant savings — sometimes saving 90 percent over the new price at the bookstores.

Just recently we received this tip and think it's great. Even if we get a great deal on a text book, we still have to either sell it at the end of the semester or store it or give it away. It's another hassle. Renting text books is a great solution — and with prices as low as $35 for a semester for a book that sells for $125 it's a bargain (this was a real life example for a Meteorology text book this year). Just know that there may still be some situation where it will be better to buy the book, but renting is a great option to consider.

Hi! I'm a poor college student who really can't afford to spend a lot of money on textbooks. I found this really neat website called which allows you to "rent" your textbooks for the semester for about 1/3 the price of buying it. This is a great option for liberal studies textbooks you “know” you'll never pick up again after the class is over!

Ebay for holiday shopping Ebay for the Holidays

There is no place like eBay for the holidays (shopping that is). Especially if you're buying smaller items - books, cd's and dvd's all of which can be shipped pretty inexpensively. We've been doing some late night shopping — after the kids are in bed — and have been picking up some bargains. eBay, for most items, is a buyers market — overstocked with items, many of which go unsold. Three tips to protect yourself.

  1. Rating: Always check out the sellers rating - too many negatives in a 6 month period and we pass on them no matter how low the price.
  2. Shipping: Confirm the shipping cost. Don't buy unless you know exactly what the charge will be.
  3. Bidding: If you can time it right, bid in the last minute. If not, bid when you can and take your chances. Know your maximum bid price (include shipping in your calculation) before you start, so you don't get sucked into a bidding war. Watch for auctions that close late at night in the middle of the week. Fewer people will stay awake to bid on these. Especially watch for items closing on holidays, when most people are celebrating – less competition means greater savings.

Start your shopping NOW!

If you're a website subscriber, check out this article for more indepth strategies: eBay in your PJ's.

Gifts / Holidays
gas savings, cheap fuel, grocery savings, safeway, giant eagle, price chopper Discounted Gas from Grocers - Follow-Up

Lorraine writes: At King Scooper when you spend 100 you'll save ten cents a gallon.


Giant Eagle is a grocery retailer in Ohio, Maryland, western Pennsylvania and central West Virginia. Giant Eagle offers fuel perks which is their reward program for shopping with them. For every $50 you spend you receive 10¢ off per gallon of gas at GetGo, which is their own gas station. You can also get fuel perks for buying gift cards at Giant Eagle for a large list of retailers. I have bought gift cards not just for giving out as gifts but if I know that I am going to be shopping at one of the retailers I buy a gift card for that store. In doing so I can limit how much I spend at that retailer and get flypapers for doing it. They often run specials when you get double fuel perks for purchasing gift cards (i.e. 20¢ for every $50).
I have six children and have often been able to build up to free tanks of gas (up to 30 gallons).
Here is a link to the information: 
Spring Ashmore

Price Chopper, Sunoco Launch Fuel AdvantEdge in New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

cookies, recipe ideas, christmas, cookbook, holiday ideas Cookie Recipes

The is a great site for holiday preparations and ideas. Of particular interest is their cookbook section. They have hundreds of holiday cookie recipes from all around the world. Check it out here

turkey leftovers, cheap turkey, recipes, after thanksgiving Turkey Left-Overs Don't Have To Just Be Sandwiches

Four Easy Post-Thanksgiving turkey ideas— supplement with side dishes for a complete meal.

1. BBQ Turkey Mix sliced, diced or shredded cooked turkey with your favorite bar-b-que sauce.

2. Turkey Enchiladas Mix diced turkey with sour cream (or plain yogurt), cheese and salsa. Roll mixture into flour tortillas, set in a baking dish and cover with more salsa or enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 until cheese on top is melted and ingredients are hot — about 45 minutes. This is a family favorite.

3. Turkey Parmesan Take diced or sliced cooked turkey and generously mix with spaghetti sauce. Spread evenly in a baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

4. Turkey Soup Once the turkey is carved and most of the meat removed from the carcass — don’t toss it out. We take all the bones, wrap them up in the tenting foil and save them in the freezer for later use. When ready, fill a large pot with eight quarts of water, add the turkey bones along with onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper. Boil on high for at least one hour. With a slotted spoon remove the bones and dispose of them. Add ingredients such as celery, carrot, mixed veggies and small pasta for a delicious soup. If you want to learn a quick method for cooking a turkey read this article.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more that 45 million turkeys are cooked in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day with over 525 million pounds of turkey meat being consumed. That’s 1.8 pounds of turkey for every — man, woman and child (there are no figures available for how much is consumed by begging pets — but we’re sure it is considerable). Ninety percent of American homes serve turkey on Thanksgiving and fifty percent serve it again on Christmas.

walmart warranty, car batteries, full replacement Wal-Mart Car Battery Deal - Wow, What A Warranty
On June 8, 2003 we researched and purchased a new car battery for our 1997 Honda Accord. Based on a Consumer Reports review, we decided to change from using Interstate Batteries - always reliable, but rather pricey, to Walmart's brand. Consumer Reports rated Walmart's EverStart Maxx batteries about the middle of the pack. They weren't the top rated, but their Life Test, Reserve Capacity and Cold Cranking Power were all above average. One thing we failed to note was the warranty period — 24 months full replacement / 72 months prorated. We plunked down $47.99 (tax included) and didn't give the battery a second thought.

Last month — October 2007 — a full 51 months (4.25 years) later, the battery started to loose cranking power. We discovered it had a bad cell, but it continued to work fairly well. In early November, Steve got stuck - the battery wouldn't start the car. Steve went to a nearby Wal-Mart. Normally batteries in Arizona don't last more than 3 years, so Steve was prepared to pay full price to replace our old battery.

The service tech at Walmart offered us free installation of a new EverStart Maxx battery AND because of the pro-rated warranty we only paid $15.93 . . . 15.93 for a new battery!

Now we've had batteries with replacement warranties before, but they've never been this generous! The full retail price was supposed to be $73.48. We received a savings of $57.55. Steve questioned the Automotive Department manager to make sure she was performing the transaction correctly. It just didn't seem right. She checked it twice and then re-explained Wal-Mart's warranty policy. The new battery has a 36 Month Full Replacement / 108 month prorated warranty.

Miracle Shopping List - remember what you need, get in, get out and save money on groceries Free Shopping List

This Miracle Shopping List will save you time, money and mental energy. It can be customized to have all of your favorite foods on it. Just print it out, check off what you need and head to the store. What could be easier?

Many years ago, Steve created a personalized shopping list for Annette on our computer. It's been revised and fine tuned over time and is something we use every month to help us remember what foods and other staple items we normally buy. We check off what we want and write the quantities next to it. It's really simple to use. Having a pre-printed list that contains your regularly used foods makes planning a lot easier and faster.

You can download our list and modify it in MS Word or use it as is in a .pdf format

Download .pdf

Download MSWord doc



We've seen lots of different kinds of shopping lists, but this one has to be one of the . . . well, of all of the shopping lists we've seen . . . this is a memorable one (we hope it wasn't yours!).

bad shopping list


Aldi Stores Ways to Save At the Store

Here are a few other ways to save at the Grocery Store

- Eat less
- Gardening
- Fish/Hunt
- Foraging - I froze 43 pint bags of berries
- Sprouting

My favorite grocery store is Aldi's. For the past 3 months, my FOOD budget for myself has been $45 (per month) I almost never buy processed foods that you would need a coupon for. I ONLY buy EXTREMELY low priced "loss leader" foods for the most part.

how much times does a quick trip to the store take Quick Trips?

How long does a “quick trip” to the store really take? Just a few minutes? Let’s calculate and see where our time goes.

Drive Time: 10 minutes. Let's assume you only have to drive about 10 minutes to get to the store, or you hit it on the way home from work.

Shopping Time: 30 minutes. Of course you only need a few items for the next couple of days, but you wander through the produce section and the bakery and the deli. You keep moving, picking up the items on your list and "just a few" impulse items. But what happens if you meet one of your neighbors or a friend in the store? Whew! Kiss another 20 minutes good-bye.

Check-Out Time: 10 minutes. Could be longer if you shop at dinner time.

Load and Unload: 10 minutes

Put Groceries Away: 10 minutes.

There you have it. A “quick trip” to the store can easily eat up an hour and 10 minutes (or more).

Limiting your trips to the store can save you time and money too!

save on gas, grocers, fuel discount, safeway, price chopper Discounted Gas from Grocers

Price Chopper, Sunoco Launch Fuel AdvantEdge in New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

free crafts for kids, lowe's, family time, build and grow Free Craft Projects for Kids at Lowe's

Lowe’s offers a workshop for children and their parents. It is called Build and Grow. The best part is that it is Free; Lowe’s supplies each child with the materials. Here is the web site: It is also a great opportunity for family time!


Crafts / Decor, Kids
free pumpkins, recipes, fall cooking, harvest food Pumpkins for Free - and a few ideas for what to do with them

After Halloween, you should be able to find pumpkins for FREE.

Look for churches with harvest festivals, street side pumpkin stands, grocers with an over abundance of pumpkins. Don't let them go to waste, use the following recipes.

Cooking a Pumpkin

- On a large counter or floor covered with newspaper, slice the pumpkin in half.

- Scoop out the seeds and soak them in a large bowl of salt water.

- Throw the rest of the pulp into your compost bin.

- Place pumpkin cut side down on a cookie sheet.

- Bake at 375º for approximately one hour or until skin is easily punctured with a meat fork.

- Scoop flesh from skin and puree in food processor or blender.

- Put colander in sink with a thin dish towel or linen sheet scrap.

- Ladle pumpkin into your lined colander and let drain or squeeze towel to remove excess water.

Use in cooked pumpkin in recipes right away or freeze in zippered bags for use throughout the year.

Cooking, Recipes
Start Saving on Car Insurance Now!

We regularly promote quoting your Auto and Home Owners insurance.

Plato's Closet - Clothes for Teens and Twenty-Somethings

My teenage daughter loves shopping at Plato's Closet. It is a teen resale shop that only carries name brand clothes like Hollister, Abercrombie and Aeropostle. They are located in many states. They are a bit more expensive than a regular resale shop or garage sales, but it is full of clothes all teens would love to wear. My daughter has bought $80 jeans for $12. Let someone else pay full price! Another great thing is they will buy name brand stuff on the spot from you which means cash in your pocket. We checked out Plato's Closet web site. It looks good. Over 200 franchise location across the US. Find a Plato's Closet near you

cheap textbooks, low price college books, save money Don't Pay Retail for Text Books

The average college student is paying between $500 to $900 per semester for books.

cheap school supplies, sale price, ad match School Supplies

Are you stressed and don't have time to run around town to pick up all of the school supplies your child needs? Okay, here's the easiest way to get it done inexpensively.

1. List   Get a list from your school's web site
2. Ads   Sit down with the newspaper ads and your child's school supply list. Make a list of the cheapest items at each store that you need to pick up (along with the store's name).
3. Shop   Pack up your hit list with the ads and head to Walmart. Pick up all the sale items on your list and head to the check out.
4. Price Match   Tell the checker that you want to "Ad Match" the items. As the checker rings them up simply tell them the sale price and which store advertised it. You'll get the lowest advertised price on all of your items and only have to go to one store. What could be easier?
5. Smile   You just save a boatload of money and a couple hours of time!

It's so simple you'll wonder why you never tried this before.

My Kids Aren't Fussing

I loved your article on Freezer Cooking (February 04).

It's Never Too Late!

Your July 04 issue has changed our lives!

I'm Immeasurably Content

I loved your article on contentment (March 04) - it really made me think.

Psychological Help!

I loved your articles pertaining to Menu Planning (Issue 1 and Issue 16) and Grocery Shopping (we have lots of these, so check our back issue index).

I'm Saving Money

I am an avid reader of your web site and newsletter.

Mom Is Cooking Again!

I really love your newsletter and your web site.

reader comment, america's cheapest family I'm Thinking Cheap!

One of my favorite articles was, Is Your Money Disciplined? (June 04).

reader comment, america's cheapest family The Windfalls Plan Really Works!

One of the first articles I read was about Windfalls.  I found it interesting and told my husband about it that same night. We both wrote down 5 things we each wished for. Some things on our two lists were the same things, some were not. We combined these and added debt payoff (50%) and charities (giving -10%). I typed the list up with a prayer at the bottom. Within 3 and a half months my husband received 2 raises at work and we received 2 windfalls totaling $10,700.00!!!!!!!! All completely unexpected. We completely paid off credit card debt and achieved a couple of our windfall goals. Our other goals now have nice starting points too. It was so wonderful to know exactly where the money would go before it came in. No stress. No arguments or debates. It was all written down. My husband also received 3 gift cards to local dinner spots and one to a movie theater. We were able to treat the whole family to an afternoon at the movies, something we almost never do. We have been so amazed with the blessings and prosperity that has come our way recently. I absolutely love your newsletter. We have always been pretty good at keeping our debt down but we've been very "reactive" to our monthly paychecks. Not proactive at all. Your two most recent newsletters helped me so much. I am so motivated to get these accounts going. I have dedicated this year to making our finances proactive and to work for us. Thank you, thank you so much.

Listen to an interview where we describe our Windfall plan

Neighborly Advice

I love your articles and stories, your newsletter shares so much personal information that I feel like you're my next door neighbor.

Something for Everyone!

Keep up the great work, your website provides lots of variety and contains something for all of us (and I'm over 75 years-old!). I've saved over $250 this year by cancelling my seldom viewed satellite TV service!

Entertainment / Recreation, Utilities / Phone
New Tricks for an "Old Dog!"!

Many thanks for all your money saving tips, they are much appreciated.

Pure Gold for Grandkids - Grandma Likes It Too!

Your book reviews each month are perfect.

Budget Lifts Burdens

Hi there, I just wanted to write and let you know I am working on a family budget now!

Subscription Supplements Social Security!

My wife and I are surviving on Social Security. Your cost cutting, resource management ideas have been very helpful — well worth the annual subscription price.

Budget Series Brings Peace of Mind

Not only has your budget series (June, July/August and September 2004) saved me money and time, but it has created tremendous peace of mind. It is truly changing my life for the better. Thanks.

You're Funny and You Even Make Sense!

I really enjoy your style of writing and sense of humor.  You make sensitive subjects easy to understand and changes easy to implement. Thanks!

College Re-Education

We wish the issues about paying for a college education were around ten years ago, we could have saved THOUSANDS!

reader comment, america's cheapest family Laundered Money

Hi Everyone,
You'll never believe this, but I was sitting at the laundromat today reading the sample issue of the HomeEconomiser you sent me.

Even Smart Spenders Can Save More

Inspired by your advice, I bought a perfect-fitting suit at a high-end consignment shop for $24.99 and two quality silk ties, which looked unworn, for $8 each.

Kids and Cars

Kids Can Pay If your teens drive have them help with the expenses – gas, insurance and payments (if you have them).

Four Gas Saving Ideas

Here are four more Gas Saving Ideas

Nothing on top - Carrying a load on top of the car creates drag. If at all possible keep the outside of your car free from protrusions. Some experts say that this will save 5% on your gas mileage.

Have a budget – save money in advance for gas and other categories – get our June 04 issue for an article on how to start a budget that works for you.

Save in other places - You may need to reduce expenses in other areas to make up the difference.

Walk or bike to near by locations

3 Ways to Save Gas Together

Carpool to work – many large companies (100 employees or larger) have programs to encourage car pooling and may even help with expenses.

Use Public Transportation – some companies subsidize your costs. Students get discounts.

Share rides to kids activities – look at the club or team roster and find families who live in your area. Cooperation and helping neighbors makes America great!

Lighten the Load

Don't carry unnecessary weight in your car.

4 Gas Saving Ideas

1) Buy a different car - If it's time to replace your old car, buy a more fuel efficient one. Alt fuel vehicles and hybrids are great options too.

Think Diesel

Get a diesel car - they use far less fuel.

Tune It Up!

Here are some tips I've discovered:

3 Ways to Get Better Mileage

Tires - Keep your tires inflated at manufacturer specified levels.

Drive Conservatively - Avoid "Jack Rabbit" starts and racing into red lights. Look ahead and drive carefully.

Cruise Control - On open roads use cruise control

Plan Your Trip

AAA has a website where they calculate distances, your vehicles gas mileage and gas prices so you can better guess-ti-mate how much your driving trip will cost.

Gas Buddy helps you save money Find Gas Cheap

Know the least expensive gas prices in your area – an patronize those stations.

nail trick, wood splitting, split ends, flatten nail tip Carpentry 101 - To the Point?

Old Scotsman Arnie's nail trick. He was a great carpenter and cabinet maker who did a lot of work for our company. When I saw him hitting the point of the nails with the hammer and flattening them a bit, I was very curious. He was putting molding on cabinets and asked me if I saw any of the thin wood splitting. Nary a one . . . highly unusual. The trick was that the flattened point of the nail would tear through the wood fibers instead of spreading them and causing the wood to split. That one tip has saved me oodles and oodles of "split ends".

Housing & Home Repair
Quick Paint Tray Clean-Up

When painting, put a supermarket plastic bag over the paint tray, then pour in the paint. When you're finished painting you can pour any unused paint back into the can then pull off the plastic bag so that it turns inside out. I've used this method for years and it really shortens cleanup time considerably.

Housing & Home Repair
Free Construction Materials

I have gleaned many useful items at my local dump and used them in several small construction projects around my 12-acre place. Our dump has a used paint table where others leave their old paint and stain. If you look carefully, you can often find brand new, unopened cans of paint. I always pick up the enamel paint because it can be stored through our cold winters better than latex paint can. If you really want to be creative, you can use the discarded glass, broken tile or dinnerware as mosaic pieces in concrete work. I've also found copper pipe and lots of metal shelving. I'm currently building a green house out of salvaged glass that I hauled away for free from a local glass shop - I saved them the dump fee. Fencing can often be picked up for free from people who just want it removed.

Housing & Home Repair
Pallet-able Furniture

I was shopping for craft items at Michael’s one day. When I left the store, I saw a man in a pickup truck — with a boat behind it — parked next to a big dumpster. I assumed that he was dropping off some trash, but instead, he started pulling out some wooden pallets and throwing them into the back of his boat. Then it hit me, he was going to use the wood for projects or possibly for firewood. Since then, when I see large wood pieces in a dumpster and I can fit them into my car, I take them and make something useful out of them. Just this week I found two good pieces of wood, painted black, which I am repainting to use as shelves in my spare room. The possibilities are endless. I heard of a family who builds picnic tables out of pallets that they have found. In the past few months, I’ve also found some brand new books and vases. I took the books and donated them to the library “Free” table. I repainted the iron vases to match my decor. I keep my eyes open now, because you never know what gems may be sticking out of a dumpster.

Housing & Home Repair
cheap disney world, kids stay free, coupon books, discount, off-season rates Magic Kingdom On A Shoestring

My husband and I wanted to take our five children to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Vacations / Travel
suitcase smells fresh, fabric softener sheets Suitcases Smell Fresh

When I empty my suitcase after returning from a trip, I put two or three fabric softener sheets into it.

Vacations / Travel
Very Smart Vacation Victuals

Limit eating out to 1 or 2 meals a day by staying in a hotel that offers a decent continental breakfast: cereal & milk, fruit, muffins, pastries, coffee & juice.

Vacations / Travel
cord wood, free, neighbor, tree, died, landscaping company, cut down, wanted Re-Cord the Savings

Cord wood for free! I love those words. This spring, a neighbor had a large tree die in his front yard. He called in a landscaping company to cut it down for him. When I saw all the wood in his yard my thoughts turned to the winter and our wood-burning stove. I went and asked if the owner wanted the wood. He said I could take what I wanted. The landscaping company was more than happy to deliver it to my front yard rather than pay the disposal fee at the local dump. It took some work on my part to get it all the size I wanted, but I saved hundreds of dollars. Always be on the look out for free stuff.

Housing & Home Repair, Utilities / Phone
Food for the Long Haul

When we take car trips, rather than pay for expensive fast foods, we pack up a small cooler with healthy lunch favorites, snacks - fruit, vegetables, cheese, for example -and drinks.

Vacations / Travel
Wash and Water Your Plants

I contacted our local plumber to ask if it was within code to route my washing machine rinse water to the back yard to water the grass. He contacted two city offices and confirmed that this practice was within code in our area. We are sure to have a major savings in our water bill once I convince my husband to do the plumbing job.

Housing & Home Repair, Utilities / Phone
Sandwiches To Go

I laughed when I read your idea of buying a crock pot from a thrift store on your vacation.

Vacations / Travel
save on vacation, after holidays, lower prices Post Holiday Vacations

Here's a great way to save when you are planning a vacation.

Vacations / Travel
Picking Pays for Vacations

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two little boys.

Vacations / Travel
Keep You Septic System Smiling

For people who receive their water through private well and septic systems, it is often not recommended to use harsh chemicals and antibacterial cleansers as this kills the bacteria necessary for the septic systems to continue to operate properly. Save yourself a lot of money (and coupon clipping) by using plain old household vinegar to clean your coffee makers, humidifiers and toilets.

Cooking, Housing & Home Repair, Utilities / Phone
Maps for the Asking

In some states, at rest stops on major highways you can ask for free state maps.

Vacations / Travel
Frequent Flyers Plan Ahead

A quick tip for anyone wanting to use their frequent flyer miles for free travel-book your trip as far ahead as you can.

Vacations / Travel
light, bars, bathroom, 25 watt, bulbs, socket, 250 watts, flip on, electricity, Lighten Down

Our bathroom has two light bars that hold five light bulbs a piece. Even with 25 watt bulbs in each socket, that’s 250 watts of light each time we flip them on. We’ve decided to only screw in two bulbs tightly in each bar, and leave the other three bulbs in, but loose, so they don’t light. We save electricity, light bulbs and most importantly, save our eyes from the excessively bright light early in the morning.

Housing & Home Repair, Utilities / Phone
cheap nascar, save money at races, low cost camping A Day at the Races

My husband and I take 2 vacations each year at the local NASCAR races here in Phoenix.

Vacations / Travel
free disneyworld, magic kingdom cheap, inexpensive hotel, acting websites Disneyworld for Free

Last year my family and friends (total of 24 people) spend two days in the Magic Kingdom for FREE.

Vacations / Travel
mail slot, foil, painters tape, weather, cold, Foil Cold Weather

Bitter cold weather last year had people scurrying about to make their homes airtight. This is especially critical with the cost of heating oil increasing. Last November, I discovered a leak in my house. I was doing some work by my front door and noticed a large amount of cold air coming in through the mail slot! I never noticed it before. I made a temporary cover out of foil and painters tape. I hinged it so I could raise it out of the way when it was time for the mail to be delivered, and then lowered it down again afterwards.

Housing & Home Repair, Utilities / Phone
Free Vacation Time

We love to go to timeshare presentations.

Vacations / Travel
disney vacation homes, cheap lodging, inexpensive home away, orlando rental Less For Disney Lodging

We’ve been taking a biannual trip to Disneyworld for a number of years.

Vacations / Travel
amtrak curtains, masking tape, duct tape, fix-it Tape Tips

Before my husband went home to the Lord, we traveled a lot on Amtrak in their sleeper compartments.

Vacations / Travel
coupons, checks, newspaper, sunday, half-price, Check It Out - Bank On It!

One of the things I haven’t seen mentioned in the Tips Section of your website is ordering checks from one of the many companies that advertise in the Sunday paper. I order the largest amount which often includes a free box of checks. When I do run out, I order from another company, as the best prices are for new customers. This is much less expensive than getting checks from the bank.

Office / Computer
Free Checks - Just Ask

Recently I discovered that our bank was offering free checks.  I overheard the promotion being explained to a new customer. They didn't send out a letter to existing customers. I asked and received the same promotion. So, always ask if there are any bonuses that have been added as a thank-you feature.

A Cold Cellar

To save on utilities during the winter I lower my

Utilities / Phone
My Own Calling Plan

Recently when I got my phone bill I noticed that I had made a lot of long distance calls that I could have made for free on my cell phone, but I just hadn't thought about the call being a toll call at the time.

Cell phone savingsAlso many in the family use the house phone for long distance even though we all have a family plan of cell phones. So, I called my landline phone company and asked them to remove the long distance portion of my phone service. They were charging me 7 cents a minute for the "deal" I was on anyway, plus a bunch of taxes and package fees. I then went to Costco and got an MCI calling card which charges me only 2.85 cents per minute for those calls I still want to make from my landline.

We really like T-Mobile's customer service and their pre-paid calling plans. This is who the Economides family uses for cell phone service.

Utilities / Phone
Saving More by Drying Less

To save on electricity, don't over dry your clothes.

Utilities / Phone
Change in the Wind

Do you know that most ceiling fans have a little switch, next to the pull chains, that will reverse the direction that the fan spins?

Utilities / Phone
Curtains Warm Rooms

With winter cold and rising fuel costs, keeping nice and warm in at least one room of the house is very comforting.

Utilities / Phone
Is It Deductible?

There are several ways to determine the IRS allowable value of donated items.The Salvation Army has a valuation guide online at, I personally find it a bit vague, but somewhat useful. I currently use the ItsDeductible software that includes the valuations for thousands of household and clothing items at three different levels of condition. I've been using it for a few years and find the annual $20 cost more than worth in the amount of work I save (and the deduction I get on my taxes!). ItsDeductible can be found online ( or in retail stores.

Bundle-Up and Save

With the cost of oil rising, my husband and I have been looking for ways to keep the cost of heating our house down.

Utilities / Phone
Solar Shower Savings

Living in Arizona, our summers can provide "free" hot water. Our water pipes are on the west side of our house and by late afternoon, when we take our showers, we just turn on the cold water faucet and it's plenty warm. We take solar "sailor" showers from May to October - get wet, turn off the water, soap up, then rinse off. Surprisingly, the free hot water lasts long enough for more than one shower.

Utilities / Phone
Bank Savings

Many banks offer free internet banking and free bill-pay.  I pay everything online now. It saves fees for ordering checks and postage. You can also indicate what date you would like to have your bills paid, and the bank guarantees it. You can set it up ahead of time, go on vacation, or simply not have to worry about payments getting where they have to be on a specific date. You can also set up email reminders if you don’t want automatic payments made. It’s a great service.

Chill Out For Less

I am retired now and every year my utility bills seem to get worse and worse.

Utilities / Phone
Free 411 Calls

Dialing 411 for directory assistance is like flushing $2 down the toilet every time you do it, and it adds up.

Utilities / Phone
Frugality Helps You Sleep

I want to let you know how much your book and website have helped my family during this past year. I have had ongoing health issues (surgery, pneumonia, hearing loss and ongoing tendon issues in both feet). I have missed a total of five months of work. As of today, I am still on work disability, but I only have one month of family leave left. My job could be in jeopardy, but because we only owe on our house, I am able to sleep at night. Yes money is tight, but it is do-able. We took your advice in your newsletter to do some caulking, get out more blankets so we could keep our heat between 62 and 65 degrees. With all your other tips, I do believe we will be okay even if I do lose my job.

Health & Beauty, Utilities / Phone
free checking, banking, charter, national Bank On It For Free

Nationally chartered banks have to give you free checking, that is part of their charter. You can call the bank or just look for a bank with the word “national” in it, and you have free checking. Great for new Girl/Boy Scout troops or eBay accounts where your initial balance may be small!

Bargain Birthdays

I have a card organizer that I use to sort birthday, anniversary cards etc.  I make a list of all the occasions for the year and make one to two trips per year to the dollar store where they sell cards 2 for $1. This saves me time, it assures that I have cards ready and on hand, and saves a lot in the way of money spent on cards.

A Hunting We Will Go!

Don't shop as a recreational activity - like when you're bored (unfocused) - make it a hunting trip. If you shop without a goal, you will surely find something to spend money on.

Entertainment / Recreation
Patience Pays . . . Dividends

The biggest money saver I've discovered is patience! Know what you want and then wait for it to be on sale. I can't tell you how many times I've saved 50% or more just because I watched and waited.

Round Trip Errands Organized Errands

Organize your errand runs so that you aren't going out everyday. And when you do go out make sure that you don't back track and waste gas – especially at today’s prices. Think about taking the most efficient route so you save gas and time.

Online Savings 1, 2, 3

Here are four ways to ensure you get the best deal possible

1. Test  Go to the larger department stores to have a demonstration of the product you are researching. Be sure, particularly with computer printers regarding speed and consumable costs.

2. Research Go home and do a search on the internet for the specific model you tested.

3. Verify the on-line store. I only buy from reputable on-line stores that are located in my country - this way I can phone them first if I have any questions or doubts about their service.

4. Compare prices and you'll find vast differences - as a result you can save much, much more. And, they courier to your door - sometimes at no charge.

By following these four steps I've found savings in excess of 30 percent with a full guarantee.

Office / Computer
Out of Stock list pad Pads Prevent Crisis Shopping

This is so easy and will cost you almost nothing to do.  Just put a notepad and pen in your bathroom toiletries closet and your kitchen pantry, or where ever your family goes to "shop" in your house when they're out of something. If anyone takes the last one of that item, ask them to simply jot it down on the notepad. Once a week I tear off the top sheet, stick it in my purse, and while I'm already out I keep my eye out for good deals on those items. Because of the advanced notice, I usually have plenty of time to find the best price in my travels. No more rushing out to the expensive corner shop for a bottle of shampoo or contact lens solution. This strategy also eliminates wasted time and about $30 worth of other over-priced impulse buys, quickly thrown in the cart, due to being in crisis shopping mode!

cash, cashier, incorrect change, speak up, mishap, retailer Speak Up For Cash

I like to pay with cash instead of using other methods. However, there have been several times when I've run into difficulties at a store or restaurant when paying the cashier. After I've handed them a twenty-dollar bill, they'll forget what I've given them and start making change for a ten! They swear that I only gave them a ten! This is really frustrating. Since it's my word against theirs, the business always seemed to win. So, I came up with an alternative strategy when paying. Now when I pay the bill with a twenty, I say OUT LOUD, "And here Sir (or Ma'am) is my Twenty-Dollar-Bill that I'm paying with." I say this loud enough for my wife and usually several others to hear. No more mishaps and everyone stays honest. In all fairness, there are many "quick change" artists that do pay with a ten and insist that it was a twenty, so I can understand the retailers' caution.

Target Logo Target Savings with Rain Checks

Here are a couple of tips for smarter shopping at Target. Target offers rain checks for most items that go on sale, whether the item is sold out at the moment or not. They allow a substitution of a similar item with the same percentage off as the sale item. We use this to our advantage by obtaining a rain check on an item. Then, we pick out an item that is similar but less expensive and use the discount from the rain check. Keep in mind rain checks do expire. Also, if you purchase something full price (God forbid!) and see that it has now gone on sale, you can take your receipt back to the store and get the difference back if it's been less than 2 weeks since the initial purchase.

calendar, anticipate sales, monthly planning, when to shop Sale Tracker

I keep a 12 month calendar in a 3 ring binder.  Regularly I make notes of sales with dates and other finds I come across. After the first year of doing this, I started my second calendar. Now, each month I look back at the previous year in anticipation of what sales should be coming up each month. This gives me a good idea of when to shop for certain items or at certain stores.

Coupons Galore

I can't say enough good things about this website Members post great deals under corresponding stores (many categories to choose from). They will tell you when there is a great deal at a store, as well as whether or not there are coupons in circulation that will make the deal even sweeter. I use this list as my "Refunder's Bible" to buy things cheaply/free to add to my stockpile for future use. I also often donate items to the needy. This website is free to join. If you don't have a computer, you can check either your local library or your college library to see if they have Internet access.

Other good coupon sites include:

shop year round, christmas, day after sales, discount, holiday The December 26 List

To help save money, I shop year-round for Christmas gifts but there are certain stores that I do not miss the day after Christmas for their sales.  On Christmas, I make a list of who I need to shop for the following year for all gifts . . . birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, special occasions, etc. When I get up early on the 26th, I go to Hallmark and Kohl's (department store) with my list in hand. I have been known to buy Yankee Candle Items at 50-75% off which come to between $5-8.00 and make lovely teacher or Sunday school teacher gifts the following Christmas. I also stock up on cards, wrapping paper, and my sister-in-law's holiday china pattern for the next year as well. These are all items that will keep in the basement.

Gifts / Holidays
Bounce for Books - No MIldew Bounce for Books - Kills Mildew

I purchased an old cookbook I wanted for my cookbook collection - the book smelled of mildew but only cost $1.
I placed several dryer sheets between pages (about 6) and then enclosed the book in a freezer bag with a few extra sheets on the outside of the book. I forgot about it for 6 weeks. When I opened up the freezer bag and took out the book I was pleasantly surprised - there was absolutely no mildew smell at all!

inexpensive, christmas, cheap, CD,, free catalog, discount, books Books and More for Less

A great, inexpensive Christmas gift is a Christmas music CD. I always look for after Christmas markdown sales, but as that is not much help right now I will share my favorite Web site for Christmas music CD's - Christian Book Distributors, or you can order a free catalog by calling 1.800.247.4784. They sell more than books and their prices are really great! Even with shipping these CD's to myself, the cost is under $10 per gift. You can easily find Christmas music CD's for around $3 at this site. They are brand new CDs and range from classical music to modern. One great gift example is "We Need A Little Christmas" by Andy Williams on CD for $1.99. They even had some cassettes as low as 29 cents!

Gifts / Holidays
free calendars Calendar Cost Cutting

I receive several free calendars each year from various organizations I am affiliated with. If I ever need to buy a calendar, I'll go to the dollar store and buy one for $1 rather than paying full price at a regular retail store.

Image courtesy of Keerati/

Office / Computer
Shop Smarter A Few Of My Favorite Things

There are always ways to save money if you are creative and you keep your eyes open. Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Never grocery shop with children.
2) Always buy used cars.
3) Get a hobby that is fun AND pays money - I'm a Justice of the Peace.
4) Always negotiate the purchase price.
5) Use coupons when grocery shopping, especially if you can't stand the store brand.
6) Use your library card for museum passes (this works in our area).

Image courtesy of StockImages/

Auctioneer, Auctions, Buy at Auction, wholesale Antique Auction Deals

I have several antique furniture pieces that I bought at a wholesale antique furniture auction on New Year's day a couple of years ago. Most of the people that were there buying furniture were retail shop owners with tax I.D's. Because these shop owners are in the business of making a profit, I was able to get the furniture pieces I wanted by bidding just a little bit more than they would. I still paid a lot less than the same pieces would have cost retail. Also, I like buying antiques because they hold their value. In some instances they can appreciate. If you do your research, paying a little more for antiques, over new trendy store bought furniture, can be a wise investment over time.


Crafts / Decor
garage sale, lamp shade, reuse, another's trash Shady Garage Sale Deals

You never know what someone wants to dispose of. Just recently I took just a short time and went to about ten garage sales, driving less than eight miles (gasoline is expensive, you know).

My main purchases were;

1) a brass floor lamp in perfect condition (the shade was in the original wrapper) for two dollars;

2) a window shade with a small fringe and a 10 year guarantee (in original wrapper) for one dollar; and

3) ten books (not cheap paper back novels) for a total of $7.50. I have a library of about 900 books so have a good estimate of prices for different types of books. The books I bought were probably in the range of $12.98 to $29.98 each.

I considered my day a success. If you've never tried this type of entertainment, I would definitely recommend it — I always meet the nicest people. Praying for guidance before starting out is a definite plus.

Budget, Crafts / Decor, Entertainment / Recreation, Housing & Home Repair
Bags of Books! Books by the Bag

Here's my low-cost way to buy books: Several times each year our local library holds weekend book sales. The second day of the sale is "Bag Day," when I can get a grocery bag full of books for anywhere from $2 to $3. After selecting the books I'm interested in, I usually have room left in the bag. I then choose enough other good-condition paperback books with higher cover prices to fill in the sack. Then I take these and any other paperbacks I no longer want to a paperback exchange store. At this store, I get credit based on the cover price, which I can then use to buy other books I want from that store.

Entertainment / Recreation
Quilt and trade Barter, It's Smarter!

I am surprised I haven't seen a tip on your web site about bartering.  I've found it to be a terrific way to save money. I make quilts (crib size to king size) and am always looking for ways to use my quilting as a bartering tool. Recently I placed an ad on a local free web site offering to barter a quilt for someone laying flooring in our RV. I received replies from several interested people. I have bartered quilts for massages and other things our family might need. It works great. You could even barter kids school uniforms-someone willing to trade size 6 uniform pants (4 pair) in great shape for several size 8 shirts, etc. Bartering is a terrific tool.

Budget, Clothes
yard sale, still new, Christmas gift, treasure trove Just Ask for Yard Sale Deals

Yard sales can be a virtual treasure trove of good usable stuff. Over the years we've managed to save a bundle at them not only for our use, but for Christmas and birthday gifts as well.

You'd be surprised at how many things you find still new in packages.

I always bring a list of things I need with me, and I always look for items that look nice and would make good basic gifts for birthdays and other occasions.

I've been able to spend an average of $30 per year on Christmas gifts for all of my three young children, and each year they have an amazing spread.

Also, if there's something on your list that isn't displayed, go ahead and ask. My husband and I were hunting for guitars once and got a great deal on one that the sellers simply hadn't thought of putting out. Someone else at the sale overheard us and we got a second guitar from them at an even better price.

I've gotten a lot of things that I've needed and saved a lot of time simply by bringing a list and asking.

Gifts / Holidays
military discount, exchange retail, commissary Salute the Discount

I was in the military for several years and one thing that military people should always ask is "Do you offer a military discount?"  Many companies and stores offer these types of discounts, but you have to ask. Also we always took advantage of shopping at the military commissary and the exchange retail store.

employee discount, part time, extra cash, services, closeouts Perks From Work

Consider working part- or full-time at a place that offers employee discounts on services or products that eat into your budget?  I work 20 hours a week for an animal hospital. Not only do I earn some extra cash, but I receive discounts on all services, products, etc. for our three dogs. My mom is considering working part time at a home improvement store in order to cash in on product discounts and closeouts. This idea has saved us lots of money.

Budget, Pets
One Dollar Calendars

Calendar prices are outrageous! I know that I can get them for free from various businesses, but these aren't the kind of calendars I can give as gifts. The other day, I was at Michaels Craft Store and found a wide variety of very nice calendars for this year for just one dollar each. This was their regular price -and they carry these every year. I even found a calendar that is set up so that when the month is done, you tear off the photo and it becomes a postcard - what a great reminder to send someone a note.

Gifts / Holidays, Misc
Black Friday Web Sites

The Friday after Thanksgiving will be the busiest shopping day of the year. Deals abound, so it helps to have a strategy for your shopping. Start making your list now! Several web sites post sneak peeks of advertising circulars starting in October.

Check them out here:

Black Friday Ads,

These sites get their information from secret sources, so each will have different information. Happy saving!

Gifts / Holidays, Misc
clearance sale, dillard's, end of season sale, clothing sale, christmas shopping High End Store - Low End Price

We shop at Dillard’s Department store frequently. They have some awesome end of the season sales— such as clothes for 99 cents, domestics 75 to 90 percent off and expensive decorator items for 99 cents. We regularly find expensive items for next-to-nothing. These deals make Christmas shopping a lot cheaper. Many of the high-end stores have great sales like these. Get to know the salespeople and they will let you know when you can expect the really big discounts and sales.

Gifts / Holidays
discount books, free books, paperback swap, swapacd, used books Book Swap on the Web

Since my daughters home school their 5 kids, sometimes it can get pretty expensive to find the books they need. We found the web site and have been getting most of the books we need for free. It doesn't cost anything to sign up and you can list books you no longer want, and request books you need from others. It's saved us lots of money since the whole family enjoys reading! Also, you can get book credits for referring people - so if you decide to try it out PLEASE say that "cowboyfan" referred you so I can get more credits to use for more kids' books! They also have a similar site called for music.

Entertainment / Recreation
Clearance Deals Online

My kids are 7-and 9-years-old and are growing like weeds and I have recently lost a lot of weight. I am the cheapest woman alive when it comes to clothes and I've found great ways to get unbelievable deals. I do most of my shopping online. I go to the more popular web sites like Penney's, or Old Navy (search for bargains). I only shop at places where I can return items I don't like to a nearby store and not have to ship them back. I go straight to the clearance section of the web site, I view each category in order of price from lowest to highest and only look at items between $1 to $8. I mostly shop for then next season or next year. Then when I'm ready to check out, I go to a web site like, or www.DealLocker.Com and get codes for free shipping and an extra 10-40% off the entire order. Recently I bought 19 items, from shirts for my husband and son, to capris for me, and I paid an average of $5 per item, brand new!

Saving my Conscience

Sometimes the desire to save money and the desire to do the right thing collide. We've started shopping for groceries monthly like you suggested in your book Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half.  Should I shop at Walmart (20 miles away) or at the store in the small town near home (9 miles away)? Of course, groceries are more expensive at the small store, but the owner has said the store can’t survive if people just stop by to pick up the occasional item. Is saving money more important than supporting the local economy? I think I’ve answered my own question. I’m going to shop at the local store on the day they give a 10% discount to seniors. That way I can save money AND not feel guilty doing so.

I'm Not Embarrassed

We were out shopping for back to school clothes when I decided to pop into a local thrift store. My son was not pleased, but went along with his crazy mom! Well, lo and behold there was a pair of jeans just my son’s size! I convinced him to try them on and they fit perfectly. Best of all, they were only 3 dollars! When we went to pay for them I discovered they wouldn’t accept checks. So I dug around in my purse for 3 dollars in change. The last dollar was in pennies — He-He — the cashier didn’t mind and neither did I, but my son could of died from embarrassment!

Clothes, Kids
Lions Den Resale shop, volunteer, senior citizens, local charities, inexpensive Resale Deals and Steals

I know many people shop at thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army but sometimes you can find one that is run by volunteers and the prices are much cheaper. The local Lion's Club in our area runs a thrift store called the "Lions Den Resale Shop". The building is donated and the store is run by senior citizens who volunteer their time. Jeans cost only $1; shorts and tops are 50 cents; winter coats and jackets run from $1 to $3; Dresses are $1; purses are usually 25 to 50 cents; Shoes are $1 for adults while kids’ shoes 50 cents and kids’ clothing goes for 25 cents to 50 cents. As you can see, everything is dirt cheap! I buy things at the Lions Den cheaper than at garage sales. All of the money from the store goes into the community to support local charities, so it’s a win-win situation. Most people can't believe I get my clothes for so inexpensively. Another great way to get deals is when a church has a rummage sale — usually on the last day they’ll have really great discounts like, $2 for a bag of clothing or fill a bag with anything for a fixed price.

Free, Free, Free

I have been very, very frugal for over 9 years. Even though I have been disabled for several years, I want to help provide for our household — it makes me feel useful. So I started searching the internet for free things. The more I searched, the more I found. I decided to help others to get free stuff too, so I started a YahooGroup for freebie links. I have not had to buy the following things for almost 10 years: Shampoo /conditioner, deodorant and razors (I have a huge supply of all of these); feminine products; handheld battery operated fans; lotions (body, foot, and facial); diabetic meters (several different brands); laundry detergent; pledge wipes; journals with pens; t-shirts, magazines; books; greeting cards (holiday, birthday, anniversary, etc); Christmas ornaments; candles; American Indian blanket; wooden basket; panty-hose; underwear; pens; erasers; snacks; Walmart gift card; CVS gift card; L.E.D. flashlight; perfume; makeup; body spray: calendars; crafts supplies; yarn (lots of skeins); Audio CDs; Movies (DVDs and VHS); photo albums; candy; vitamins; food; toilet paper and a lot more. If I took a picture of everything that I’ve gotten for free it would cover my entire living room floor and go into the hallway!

Entertainment / Recreation, Gifts / Holidays
Component Compatibility

If you purchase electronics and want to purchase an additional accessory later on, take the owner’s manual(s) with you to the store so the salesperson will know exactly what you’re working with. This is especially helpful if you go to a different store and will give you a better chance of having all of the components working together.

Low-Ball on Craigslist

In a past issue one of your readers commented on the benefit of Craigslist. We agree wholeheartedly! We purchased a very nice treadmill and a like-new baby crib for hundreds of dollars less than their original owners paid. One trick we’ve employed is bargaining just before the listing expires. Craigslist ads in our area are limited to one week before they have to be re-posted. Most sellers don’t want to field emails for another week or bother with re-posting their item, so we found that making a “low-ball” offer on items we want a day or two before they are about to expire, is a great way to get some awesome deals.

Retirement Entertainment Tiring Retirement

We live in a retirement community and the amount of activities are overwhelming – emotionally and financially. The pressure to participate is constant. Resist it. We've come to realize that we don't have to take part in all the activities. Ask yourself, "Am I living beyond my means financially," and "Am I allowing time for family and community service."

Image courtesy of PhotoStock /

Entertainment / Recreation
aarp, tax-aide, 60 or older, middle or low income, home visits, taxes Free Income Tax Preparation

People of any age can receive free help preparing their taxes through the AARP Tax Aide Service. I have been a volunteer for a number of years and find it very rewarding. Here are some details. It is a free service supported by over 30,000 volunteers across the country. It is available to people of all ages with middle and low income, with special attention to those age 60 and older. We prepare tax returns and answer tax questions. To find one of the 10,000 locations near your home, call 1-888-227-7669. AARP Tax-Aide sites are located in places convenient for taxpayers to get to, such as senior centers, libraries and malls. We can also visit taxpayers in their homes, if they are physically unable to visit a site. This program is available from February 1-April 15 each year. For more information visit the website -


Budget, Misc
Socialize by sharing magazines Socializing Helps the Environment

If you're retired and don't see your former co-workers enough, here's an idea. My former office-mates love to read all of my magazines after I'm finished with them. We get together to have lunch every two or three months, and when I leave the office, their recyclable cans and bottles go with me - they don't have recycling pick-up at the office. The end result is that they get my magazines, I get to socialize with my friends and I also help keep the environment cleaner.

Entertainment / Recreation
Pennies add up, frugality pays off Fears Flee From Frugality

My hubby was downsized out of his job of twelve years. This could really sink a family financially, but we have no fear since we're debt-free except for the mortgage and have saved up an emergency fund of six to nine months of living expenses. We could be fine for anywhere from nine to twelve months (and that includes our sons tuition payments). He has two years of college remaining. Remind those out there just starting on the journey that frugality pays off.

Gratefully Debt Free

We have all of your resources and refer to them regularly. We are so grateful for your help in bringing us to the place of becoming debt free so many years ago. We tell people that outside of our salvation, marriage and children, being debt-free is the best thing that ever happened to us. As a result, we are always encouraging those we live with here and back in the states to do the same!

Pet Boxers

Pet toys are expensive so we use cardboard boxes!

Inexpensive, recyclable, water, bottle, plastic, bottles, landfills, crunchy, noisy, toys Pet Bottles

Our dog Jake, loves to play with toys that make lots of noise. We’ve found that smaller empty plastic soda bottles make excellent toys. They give him quite a work out, because they slide across the floor and are difficult to grab. And, when your pet is finished playing with them they can still be recycled.

dog, breath, greens, No More Doggie Breath

Our dog is staying healthy with some very easy additions to her dog food. It does take a minute or two, and the greens (well-chopped parsley, kale, alfalfa sprouts, lettuces) keep doggie’s breath fresh, too! If digestion is a problem, plunk the chopped green stuff into half a cup of water & microwave it for a minute or two, to cook it just lightly. Then stir in some high quality protein-leftovers, or a spoonful of cottage cheese or an egg — again, cooked — and mix it all into their food. If you get one of the brands that includes the fatty acids for healthy coat, Fido’s fur will look really outstanding. Your pet gets a varied menu, a tastier dinner, and a substantially improved nutritional mix-and you have the relief of knowing you’re feeding your dog very well indeed.

Lots of Pets? Shots of Savings!

You can save a lot of money if you learn to give your pet shots.

Pet Meds on the Net

I have three dogs and live in Florida. They must be on heart worm meds and flea protection here. It is a necessity. But the meds are so expensive that I have a hard time purchasing them from my vet. I started ordering over the internet and the savings were tremendous. When my vet realized that he was losing business from so many people ordering the same medicine he was selling he began to match prices. Now I just print out a price list from my internet site (I use and take it to the vet and they match the prices. That way he keeps my business and I keep my savings.

Fostering Pets

Here's a great idea if you love having a pet but can't afford one - shots, vet appointments, food, etc.

sand, home depot, gerbils, toilet paper rolls, Happy Thrifty Gerbils

Gerbils are desert animals and love sand.

Pet Rx Price Match

To save money on our pets' health care costs, we search web sites for the medication they are prescribed. Banfield, the national pet hospital chain (and possibly other vets) offers a price match with a printout (including price of the medication with the shipping charge). For one particular medication we needed, the vet was charging close to $1.00 a pill. We found the same medication listed on (they have the best prices we've seen) for $.50 per pill and the vet matched the price, with no questions asked!

cat tree, lumber, carpet, drywall, plywood, trash, free Cat Tree for a Little Scratch

There is a lot of new home construction in our area.

Planned Giving

We have a manila folder that we save charity appeals in. At various time during the year and in December, we sort them out, and decide which ones to support. We review how much money we've set aside and divide it up as we are able.

Gifts / Holidays
Scratch Pads From Junk Ads

I use the backs of all the blank advertising mailings for my scratch paper and grocery lists.

Office / Computer
Long Distance Paper Saver

We use computer paper twice and put it in the printer upside down and print on the unused side.

Office / Computer
Envelopes Mark the Spot

To mark pages in books, don't fold down the corners - it hurts the book. Cut a large corner off of a used envelope and slip it over the corner of the page you want to mark.

Office / Computer
junk mail, copier paper, scrap pads Pads of Scraps

I save junk mail and used copier paper and make scrap pads out of them.

Office / Computer
Moving Stationery

When a place you work for changes addresses latch on to all the old envelopes and stationery (if they are going to toss it out).

Office / Computer
rags, old shirts, rewash, Rags to Increase Riches

Here is a way we save money around the house. We consider paper towels a luxury, so to save money and clean up spills, I use lots of rags and just rewash them.

Cleaning & Products
Free Post Cards

I have five great-grandchildren whom I stay in touch with by sending post cards.

Office / Computer
cow, pieces, beef, cuts Free Tips From the Past has hundreds of thousands of eBooks available for free.

Office / Computer
white board, dry earse marker, White Board Magic

If someone uses permanent marker on a white board don't try to remove it with solvent.

Office / Computer
Cheaper Technology Buys

My husband and I never buy new technology. We wait a few years for the glitches to be worked out, the size to decrease, and the price to go down. Then we buy on sale. Never pay full price for anything!

aol, aok logo, AOL is AOK!

I just switched my internet service to a highspeed cable provider and called AOL to drop their service.

Office / Computer
tape, paper clip, The End for Paper Clips

This is a tip for finding the end on a roll of masking tape or packaging tape.

Office / Computer
Two Door File?

We needed to set up a work / school area in one of our older girl's rooms.  We didn't have a desk, but we did have an old door and an idea. We set out to find a couple of two-drawer filing cabinets at garage sales or in the newspaper. It took a couple weeks, but we soon found a couple filing cabinets at a good price. We set them up with enough space between them so a chair could slide in, put the door on top and we were in business.

Education, just ask, search engine, Just Ask!

Your newsletter was very helpful, as usual.

However, there was one search engine that you failed to mention: I've used it many times and it has a lot of features not found in the other search sites.

Messy Ink Savings

I have been refilling my ink cartridges for several years with a refill kit I picked up at a discount store.

It's a messy job and every time I do it, I mutter, "When this stuff is gone, I'm not doing this again." Plus, the color ink is not compatible with our printer, so my kids complain about the colors not being right when they make cards or try to print pictures. I was ready to bite the bullet and buy it at the store again. But based on your article about office supplies, I went shopping on the internet. I found a company called and purchased refill cartridges for our Canon printer for $4.65 each or if I ordered 4 or more they were discounted another $1.10. If I ordered $45 worth of products, I got free shipping, so . . . I ordered one of each color to make sure it is compatible and the rest black to total enough for free shipping. I bought 12 cartridges arriving for $45.60! Wow!

Office / Computer
laptop, cooling rack, Hot Idea for a Cool Laptop

We regularly used our laptop computer on the dining room table.

Office / Computer
Draft Your Printer

One simple thing that helped my husband and me to save on printer cartridges through graduate school was to adjust the default printer setting to Draft. Most of what we print is for ourselves and Draft quality is just fine. If we are printing out something for someone else we simply put it on Normal or Best.

Office / Computer
Inky Deals

I just got a great deal on injet cartridges!

Office / Computer
inkjet cartridges, Win the Ink Recycling Game

Here’s how I save money on printer ink.

Office / Computer
No-Stick Spaghetti?

Add a tablespoon of cooking oil or margarine to the water you cook spaghetti or noodles in. The water won't be so eager to boil over and the noodles won't stick together.

Bag Some Savings

Wash out your plastic zip lock bags and use them over and over again instead of throwing them away after using them only once. They last a really long time.

Paper Goods / Disposables
1 Chicken- 3 Meals

Get 3 meals out of 1 chicken. 

  • Boil or Roast a large chicken – include onions, celery and other spices.
  • De-bone and de-skin the chicken.
  • Divide the meat into two piles.

- Meal #1 – Chicken Salad Sandwiches.

- Meal #2 – Use the second pile for Chicken Stir Fry or Chicken Stew.

- Meal #3 – Put the bones, with a little meat still on them, in a pot of water. Add onion, celery, carrot and other veggies you have handy. Throw in rice or pasta and you have Chicken soup or broth. You may find different ways to stretch the usefulness of a chicken, but the key is to think and plan and waste not. Don’t be chicken!

Cooking, Meat
trash can, trash bags, waste basket, Can the Trash Bags

Save time by storing a roll of plastic kitchen trash bags in your garbage can under the trash bag that is currently being used.  When the bag is full, take it out and tie it up. Then just reach down into the plastic can and take out your next bag. No wandering around the house looking for trash bags. Keep an air freshner down there with your roll of bags and even your trash will smell better.

Paper Goods / Disposables
Cutting Mats for Free

Salvage clean plastic / waxed paper bags from cereal boxes when they are empty. Great for using as a disposable cutting mat for chopping veggies etc. and easy to discard.

Paper Goods / Disposables
College Knowledge?

So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts,  and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’” Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer in 1976.

Leave College Loans . . . alone!

"64 percent of college graduates take on some kind of student loan." Ben Kaplan (author of the best selling book, "How to Go to College Almost for Free.")

homemade, yogurt, yummy, home, made, grown, yoghurt, joghurt Easy Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Yogurt is cool and refreshing and healthy! And even better you can make it yourself for a fraction what it costs in the store. You will need:

Yogurt starter (I have used everything from Plain Mountain High or Dannon Commercial Yogurt from the regular grocery store to Natren's Live Cultures from the health food store).

Milk – We think whole milk makes the best and most creamy yogurt, but I have made it from 1% and 2% also.

A wide-mouthed thermos or plastic insulated cooler jug.

A heavy saucepan a little bigger than the thermos or cooler jug.

Instructions: Pour milk into the cooler jug to within 1" from the top – This is to measure how much will fit into your jug. Then pour the milk into the saucepan.

Put 2 - 4 tablespoons of yogurt – or the appropriate starter – in the cooler jug to come to room temperature while you prepare the rest.

Heat the milk in the saucepan on a medium level until the milk is very near to boiling, but not yet rolling – about 180 degrees. Watch closely, you do not want it to boil. When this level is reached, turn off the burner and allow the milk to cool until you can hold your finger in it – about 120 degrees. The more gradually it cools, the creamier it will be.

Pour about one cupful of the warm milk into the cooler jug with the starter and stir gently. Gradually add the rest of the milk stirring as you go.

Dairy, Recipes
lighter, hot sparks, bar-b-que lighter Hot Stuff for BBQ

I use old Hot Sparks to light my bar-b-que. After the butane runs out the spark will light a gas bar-b-que as long as you turn on the gas. It works great. I've been doing this for at least 5 years. The Hot Spark has a magneto inside that will never wear out.

Housing & Home Repair
cinnamon, boiling water, small pan, removing odors, potpourri, It Makes Scents

For those that are sensitive to potpourri here is a recipe that I was given. It works great for removing odors — particularly fish— or for making your house smell like you have been baking!


  • 1 to 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • Water in a small pan Begin by boiling the water and cinnamon sticks on top of the stove.

Then simmer for as long as you like. I leave mine on the stove and reuse for days by just adding more water as needed.

Housing & Home Repair
plug, outlet, nailpolish, Plugged In

Since I’m a senior and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, I’ve been having trouble inserting these newer polarized plugs into outlets. They can only go in one way because of the larger prong on one side. I have marked the top of the plug with a line of nail polish. If I can see the polish, I know the plug is going to go in.

Housing & Home Repair
Meat Balls are in the Bag

My goal is to double and freeze one meal on my menu per week. I can take 5 lbs. of ground meat, make one meatloaf for dinner, prepare a second meatloaf to freeze, and use the rest of the meat for meatballs. I freeze the meatballs on a tray overnight (covered with wax paper) and then pop them in a bread bag in the morning. They freeze well, but I don’t like to put raw meat into my zipper bags. That’s why I use an old bread bag to put the meatballs in first, according to family portions and company portions. Then I put them into the zippered bag to store in the freezer. The meatballs are versatile, because you can cook them with a BBQ sauce, Sweet and Sour sauce, or use them with spaghetti.

Cooking, Meat
Blend Your Crummy Crusts

I save the crusts and end pieces of my loaves of bread in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. When it’s full, I make my own bread crumbs in the food processor. I add whatever spices I want, such as Italian seasoning. Then I use these bread crumbs to coat chicken and my family loves it. They are much more flavorful than the canned bread crumbs and way less expensive.

Refrigerator Door handles, recycled appliance parts Recycled Handles

Twice I have visited an appliance recycling center and obtained excellent material to replace refrigerator door handles. With only a screwdriver, a hack saw and a drill I now have handles much better than the originals. Of course accurate measurements and a tape measure are essential. Our county puts old appliances in a central location where the public is welcome to remove any unit or part free of charge. There is a wealth of material available with very little work--chrome bars and knobs, stainless steel bolts and screws, even wire racks which I think are much preferable to the glass shelves manufacturers seem to think the public wants.

Housing & Home Repair, Utilities / Phone
Put Plastic in the Can

I've found a few of great uses for all of those plastic grocery bags that I've accumulated. 

1) Use them to line small waste baskets. It makes them very easy to empty.
2) Use them to collect "garbage" when cooking or baking. Place egg shells, wrappers, discarded fat, etc, in the bag while cooking, tie closed and toss in the trash.
3) Take them to my local park and put them in the dispenser for dog-lovers to use when they pick up their doggie-waste.

Paper Goods / Disposables
movies, dvds, family night, kids, summer Summer Activities For Kids

We always had a movie night once a week during the summer.To help the kids not get bored in the summer we planned a weekly movie day with friends and picked a movie we could all enjoy from the local video store, had popcorn, and other munchies (you could also pick one up at the library for free). This was something they looked forward to each week. But, as the ages of our kids got older we had trouble finding a movie to make everyone happy so we changed it to a swim date at the community pool or at a relatives house.

Entertainment / Recreation
red, blue, white, birdhouse, home depot, crafts, gifts Crafty Kids at Home......Depot!

My husband takes our two boys (5years and 10years) to Home Depot's Monthly Kid's Club.This is a workshop for children to make a craft item - example: recipe holder, bookshelf, wind chime, birdhouse, jewelry box, bubble gum machine, etc. These crafts make excellent gifts for parents, grandparents, Uncles, and cousins. And the best part is that it’s completely FREE!!!

Gifts / Holidays, Kids
kids, teeth, tooth, point, money Brush Your Teeth - Get The Point!!

I put into play the give/save/spend system.
I was wondering though as to how long you have your children save their money. I told mine it's a yearly thing to save for those big items they want, but I'm curious what y’all use it for. I also put into play the point system. We have been using chore charts for years, but your simple point system looks neater. And I actually have stuff in there that the typical child wouldn't actually need, as one of my children has autism - so we have TEETH POINTS ... brushing teeth without a fight.

piano, music, intsurment, Play it Again and Again - Sam

My kids have been taught to write in their piano books in pencil. When they are finished with the book, I erase all the writing and use them over again for the next one in line.

cake, car, decorate, race car, Birthdays Made Special

When my sons were little, we would make a special birthday cake for their party.

kids, costumes, dress up, girl, boy, The Costume Box

For many years, we’ve gathered costumes from various sources and stored them in a costume box.

Clothes, Entertainment / Recreation
summer, school, iron, thread, cooking, cleaning, Summer School - Life Skills 101

One summer I had to learn a bunch of new stuff.

snack, filters, coffee, Filtered Snacks

I use coffee filters instead of paper plates for snack times at my house. I buy 500 basket filters for a little over $2 and paper plates are $1.89 for 100 quantity. The basket shape holds pretzels, popcorn, crackers, chips, nuts and fruit nicely. I portion out the snacks and put away the boxes so we don’t eat too much.

Shelf Items
clothes pin sealing bag Close Pins

We use clothes pins instead of those expensive chip clips for clipping bags shut.  Also we use clothes pins instead of the expensive music clips sold in the music stores to hold our music on the music stand or to hold the book open on the piano.

Pre-soaked Bulk Beans

I read in a bean and legume cookbook,  that you can soak large amounts of beans at a time and freeze what you don't use, in portion sizes for later use. It saves me loads of time and takes care of a big, time consuming task all at once. It really makes it easier and faster to use dry beans in recipes because I have eliminated the soaking step by doing it earlier.

No Bull...ion

I freeze all of my chicken, beef and vegetable broth in ice cube trays. Once they are frozen, I store them in freezer bags or plastic containers. When I'm ready to use them, I just pull them out one or two cubes at a time depending on the recipe.

That's Italian

A wedge of real parmesan cheese is expensive. The "rind" is not coated with wax as many may think but it is salt hardened. Do like the real Italians do and place the rind in the soup pot towards the end of cooking. You'll like the flavor and there is no waste.

Freezer Pleazer!

I just reorganized my freezer using plastic bins.  It's great and really easy to find what I need. I marked them "Beef," "Chicken" and "Pork." This has really helped me to know what I already have in the freezer so I can shop more carefully.

Frozen Foods
Hamming It Up

Every Christmas I get a 20 lb ham, cook it and separate it. It makes about 11 one pound bags of cooked ham, which I freeze. Here's what I do with all of this meat: One of the meals I make is Ham and Beans. Early on a Sunday Morning I will put on two pounds of beans in my crock-pot and add one bag of my cooked ham, let it cook all day and for dinner we will have beans with tortillas and butter. I then take what is left and divide it in half keeping all the juice with one of the halves. The next night I add one pound of hamburger and a can of stewed tomatoes to the half of beans with the juice and we have "cowboy chili" with crackers. The third night I make red chili, with Bueno's frozen red chili and one bag of my ham, I take the last portion of beans and make bean and cheese burritos, cover in the red chili and bake, that's three meals out of one pot of beans and three pounds of ham.

Meat, Recipes
Think Small, Save Big

I want to tell you that thinking of saving small amounts of money has an unexplainable result in saving large amounts. I have saved $2000.00 in two months because I have limited my food buying to twice a month and have resisted spending small amounts here and there or spending what is not on my budget. I've always had a budget before but now I am not spending into my next credit card bill but keep everything current.

Budget, Groceries
Cheers For Once-A-Month Cooking

I just did our first once a month cooking with our family. It was fun and also met my goal of sending all my kids out into the world with the ability to cook. I had also thought it wasn't for me because I love to cook. But what I am finding this week is that having the meals in the freezer is so freeing that I am more cheerful at dinner and often have time to make a dessert.

meat pie Get Stewed

Here's another way to stretch a meal. One night I'll make beef stew and the next night I'll put the remainder of the stew into a pie crust to make a beef pot pie. Sometimes if I make a large enough pot of beef stew I can make four pot pies out of it and then freeze them. Most people cut the beef for stew beef into large chunks. If you dice them up smaller there is an appearance of more because there are more little pieces of beef in each bite.

Great Broth - No Bones About It

Whenever we eat bone-in chicken, I freeze the left-over bones until I have a soup-kettle full. I fill the kettle with the bones, a carrot, an onion, celery tops, a turnip, a couple of bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, 1/2 cup of white wine (which will help pull calcium from the bones), and water. I simmer this brew for 4-5 hours, then strain it through cheesecloth and freeze in various-sized plastic containers. This broth is very potent, and I can dilute it by at least half for any recipes calling for chicken broth. I love to try new recipes, and there is hardly the unsuccessful dinner dish I cannot transform into delicious soup with the help of my homemade chicken broth, assorted vegetables, and maybe a can of minestrone.

Squeaky Clean

When I was younger, I worked for a deli, where it was extremely important for us to have not only scrupulously clean counters and equipment,  but also shiny counters and sinks! We put straight isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol into a spray bottle. Spray it on the counters, plastic surfaces, stainless steel sinks, anything that's glass, including windows and mirrors. It works like a charm, doesn't streak, the excess will evaporate, and you will have surfaces which have been disinfected, too! Hospitals have also been using rubbing alcohol to disinfect for years. The only type of surface that you need to be careful with are painted surfaces (always test first!) There are some types of paint that will be lifted by the alcohol. Any time you use it on a new surface, it doesn't hurt to test in an inconspicuous spot first. I never use alcohol on wood surfaces because it could dry it out (Murphy's Oil Soap works great on wood!).

Cleaning & Products
Grease And Scum Busters

For built up grease on surfaces such as vent hoods, stove parts, etc.  I make a paste with baking soda and just enough water to dampen it. Then I rub it on the greasy surface. You'll need to rinse it off, but it is not-abrasive and cleans quick and easy. For hard water build-up on my clear glass shower doors, I get an SOS pad impregnated with soap, and dip in vinegar and lemon juice mixture. The steel wool does not scratch the glass and the acids dissolve the hard water, the soap cleans the scum that starts sticking to the glass. We squeegee the shower every time we're done, but it eventually gets a dull build-up on it. I don't have to do this very often. But it really keeps the shower looking nice.

Cleaning & Products
Cooking Under Pressure

My Grandmother, my Mom, my Sister and I are big fans of pressure cookers. We all own more than one. Except for rice, pasta, pastry and soups, we cook almost everything in a pressure cooker. The cooking time is significantly reduced, thereby cutting your time spent in the kitchen and your energy usage. Most veggie dishes take 10-15 minutes, meats take around 20-45 minutes depending on the cut. The initial investment may be a bit expensive, but the cookers last a very long time, so it sure is worth it.

crushed can Cans Can Make Money

I recycle aluminum soft drink cans.  I mentioned this to my boss and now about every other month he and his son bring me a large trash bag full of aluminum cans. There are 28 cans in a pound and in our area I can turn them in for about $.70 per pound. So if you recycle aluminum cans for extra cash, tell your friends to save their cans for you too.

2011 UPDATE   The price of aluminum is constantly changing—in the past few years it dropped as low as 30 cents per pound in our area. It now stands around 60 to 70 cents per pound, so this tip is still a good one especially for kids who want to earn some extra cash or as an ongoing fundraiser for a non-profit.

Here's what Joanne Lehrke from Cloquet, MN had to add to this discussion:

Start collecting pop cans. The money you can earn from recycling you pop cans can be used for trips with the family or a speical treat. If there is a sports field or playground within walking distance of your home, they can be a gold mine for earning extra money.  



phone book pages in plastic cup Phone Books Clean Up

Instead of throwing out the out-of-date phone books,  keep them and tear out several pages at a time. Store them in a big plastic cup under your sink. Use these sheets instead of paper towels when you peel vegetables, etc. You won't buy paper towels nearly as often.

Paper Goods / Disposables
Green Tomato Pie

Last night we had our first freeze. That means it's time for one of my produce favorites. Green Tomatoes! I use them like apples to make green tomato pie or green tomato crisp. Just follow your favorite apple pie/crisp recipe, adding 1 tsp. baking soda to the spices that you put on the apples before baking. If you didn't know it was tomatoes rather than apples, you would never guess!

Produce, Recipes
One Pot Cooking

Your newsletter is exactly what I needed right now. I am working slowly into the once a month cooking. It's kind of hard living in a foreign country when you only have one pot, two burners and limited containers. But it is going well and I am loving it. Two days ago I made sauce that will be used for multiple meals: spaghetti sauce, pizza or chili. I also cooked some ground beef that can be added to the sauce or used for tacos or stuffed peppers or whatever. Today I cooked beans for chili or burritos. I am also experimenting with my pizza dough. I usually make it and use it right away, but this time I put some in the fridge and some in the freezer to see what that will do. We are so glad to have been influenced by you during the early years of our marriage.

Zipped Up Omelet

This works great-it's an easy way to prepare several omelets without waiting for the frying pan to be available. First, start a large pot of water up to boil. Then have each person write their name on a quart sized plastic freezer zippered bag. Crack two eggs into the bag and shake to mix them up. Set out bowls with various toppings in them: cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc. Each person puts their favorite toppings into their bag. Remove all air from the bag and zip it up securely. Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly thirteen minutes. You can usually cook six to eight omelets in a large pot. If you need to do more, use a second pot or do two rounds of cooking. Open the bags and the omelet will easily roll out. The first time you do this everyone will be amazed. Serve with fresh fruit, coffee cake and conversation.

Diluted Savings

I find that a squirt of full-strength liquid dish washing detergent is usually too much for my needs.  So I fill an old bottle of dish soap half-way with detergent and then the other half with water. Now I have two bottles full of detergent for the price of one (it's even less expensive because I usually use cents-off coupons).

Cleaning & Products
Worry Free Containers

Save your empty margarine tubs and other plastic containers  so when you send left-overs home with friends and family you don't have to worry about getting "Aunt Tillie's" antique casserole back.

Paper Goods / Disposables
gloved hands scrubbing potato Handy Veggie Cleaner

I have tried a variety of vegetable brushes for cleaning produce, but never felt like I was getting it cleaned thoroughly or fast enough.

Cleaning & Products
Advanced Cooking Saves "Face"

About once each month we have a party for the students we teach at the English Corner here in China.  Most are thrilled to be invited to an "American" home to eat American food. For one party we were expecting about 15 people to attend. You can imagine my surprise when FORTY showed up. I had dinner already prepared and knew there wouldn't be enough food. As the guests kept arriving and eating, I began to panic. In the Chinese culture it is considered incredibly rude to run out of food. Also since several of our friends had invited more people than they had originally communicated, they would have felt unbelievably embarrassed for putting me in an awkward position. I quickly ran into the kitchen and opened the freezer. Fortunately when I had done my once-a-month cooking, I had pre-cooked and frozen the same meal I was serving that night. I microwaved the packages of frozen meats and transferred the contents to the crock pots already on the table-nobody was the wiser. As is appropriate for the custom, I had plenty left over and no one lost face!! Thanks for the impact you have had on our lives. You are influencing Asia now!!!

Entertainment / Recreation
Great Cooking Ideas

I just came across this Web site today and thought you'd be interested. There are lots of money and time saving ideas for cooking meals, plus tons of recipes and other helpful kitchen information. Ellen was raised in a military family and traveled the world. She started cooking at age eight and loves to teach others her secrets.

Broiled Bulk Beef Is Better

Here's how I save on lean ground beef. I watch for bulk lean or extra lean ground beef at a good price and buy a lot of it. Then I break it up and bake all of it on a broiler pan in the oven so that the fat drips below. Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hour. After cooling a bit, I separate it into quart sized freezer bags - approximating one bag for each pound of precooked meat. Then I freeze them and when I need a pound of ground beef for a recipe I just defrost a bag in the microwave or submerge it in water to defrost. This saves a great deal of time and mess when I am in a hurry to put a meal on the table. And I have lean ground beef for the price of regular ground because I bought it in bulk!

Cooking, Meat
Cool As A...Banana

I have heard many people say they freeze bananas  for future use in banana bread, etc., but I was never sure how to prepare the bananas for freezing. One woman told me she just puts the whole banana (peel and all) in the freezer and then thaws it later when ready to use. I am one who doesn't want to wait for the thaw. Therefore, we just peel the bananas, wrap each in plastic wrap, and then put them in a freezer bag for easy storage. Frozen bananas that have been prepared this way are easy to mash for banana bread, make the perfect frozen ingredient for a smoothie in the blender, or are in great as frozen popsicles in the summer. To serve this cold treat without a stick, just peel back the plastic and wrap a folded paper towel around the "handle" part. Cut in half, these banana popsicles were some of our children's favorite teething coolers.

Frozen Foods
Pre-cooked is Pre-pared

I save time by frying up a pound of bacon and then freezing it. Later when I want to make a BLT or need bacon bits, the bacon is ready to use. I do the same with sausage links. My mentally handicapped son enjoys link sausage with scrambled eggs for Sunday breakfasts — he’s with me on weekends from his Group home. It’s much more convenient to quickly reheat the sausage in the microwave than to cook-it-up and then clean-it-up.

computer screen with plate of food Now I'm Cookin!

Being a software/computer driven person, I stay away from pen and paper solutions. I found a shareware program that allows you to create a database of recipes that are searchable. You can plan a set of meals for a specific time period, and it will generate a list of everything you should buy. You can even input coupons and store pricing, and it will generate the cost of your shopping list. The program is called “Now You’re Cookin,” you can find it at (it’s for PC users only). They have a library of recipes that you can download or you can input your own.

A Bounty Of Paper Towels

I have tried to use really inexpensive paper towels but always come back to Bounty’s “Select-a-Size.”  My smart daughter-in-law does something I have now copied. Next to her sink she has a decorative ceramic container that she puts lightly used paper towels in — i.e. those used in zippered bags with veggies and fruit. They are crumpled up and dry quickly. Later, when there is a pot or dish that needs to have grease or sticky residue wiped out, or a mess on the counter, sink or floor to clean up, these are the paper towels she uses. My husband and I do this now, and I notice that our rolls of paper towels last much longer.

Paper Goods / Disposables
scrubbing around faucet with toothbrush Old Brush, New Smile

I couldn’t clean my house without an old toothbrush.  No matter what I’m cleaning or what kind of product I’m using, I can get into the tiniest places and get them cleaner with an old toothbrush. It sure does shorten cleaning time and saves my fingernails too! Give it a try, you’ll smile!

Cleaning & Products
Automatic Crud Buster

If you are planning on washing dishes right after your meal,  fill the sink with hot water and put some of the pots and pans in to soak while you eat. By the time you’re ready to wash them, most of the “crud” will be loosened, making your job faster and easier. It’s also helpful to put more dishes in the suds to soak while you’re emptying dishes from the rinse water.

Cleaning & Products
Double Duty Vinegar

I use vinegar to clean my coffee maker — but I get double duty out of it.  After I run the vinegar through the coffee maker, while it is still warm, I go to each bathroom sink and pour in ? cup of baking soda and then a little warm vinegar — then I let it sit. Afterwards, I run some fresh water through the coffee maker to rinse out the vinegar, and then pour the warmed water down the drains to rinse out the baking soda and vinegar.

Cleaning & Products
rocks in bottom of basket with rolls Hot Rock Buns?

Collect a few flat rocks, wash them thoroughly and heat them up in the oven (350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes) while you're cooking biscuits.

Save On Cooking

I save on my energy bill when cooking. When an item cooking in the oven has about 15 or 20 minutes left to go, I turn off the oven and leave the item in there to finish cooking. The oven is hot enough to complete the job. If I’m cooking pasta, I bring the water to a boil, add the pasta, put on a lid, bring the water back to a boil and turn off the stove. I stir it occasionally and it usually takes about 15 minutes to cook.

Cooking, Utilities / Phone
Tender Wrapping

I go grocery shopping only once each week. If I buy meat, I bring it home and take it out of the store packaging. I live alone and most packages have more than one steak in it. I wrap each steak individually in plastic wrap or foil. But before I wrap it up and freeze it, I sprinkle meat tenderizer on both sides of it. I take it out of the freezer the day before I use it. When I cook it over my little grill it comes out so tender you can almost cut it with a fork.

roll of paper towel being cut in half Cut It In Half

I was reminded of this while reading a recent newsletter and tip about paper towels. We use paper towels sparingly. The sheet size on most brands we’ve found are just too large for most of our uses. Here’s our simple solution: when we open a roll of paper towels my son gets out the electric bread knife and cuts the roll in half. The roll lasts twice as long and we waste less paper. We do the same with fabric softener sheets, just cut them in half with the bread knife.

Paper Goods / Disposables
Garbage Soup

I just finished reading your article about “Tapioca soup” — garbage soup. My Mom used to make this soup for me when I was a kid. With 6 mouths to feed, this soup was always on the menu. Thanks for the great story that not only made me laugh, but brought me back to my childhood. It makes me question what exactly was in that soup Mom made! Desperate times call for desperate measures!

carton of chicken stock Stock Up On Cheap Stock

No more store bought cans of chicken stock. I use stock in all sorts of recipes but have found the price going up steadily over the past few years. So I switched to making vegetable stock at home. At first I just used a carrot, a couple stalks of celery and an onion, then I realized how much I was throwing into the compost pile that was usable from my daily cooking. I started saving my carrot peelings, outer layers of onions, tops and bottoms of celery and other various vegetable “cut-offs” in a re-sealable container. Once I accumulate enough to make a batch of stock (several handfuls worth), I roast the vegetables in the oven for about 30 minutes, add some bulk dried herbs and a few quarts of water and bring to a boil. After the stock boils and looks about the color of weak tea, I add some salt to taste. “Rinsings” from canned tomatoes add some wonderful flavor to stock as well. I use the stock in homemade soups or any other recipes that call for cooking liquid. Freeze the finished stock in re-sealable containers, allowing a little head room for expansion.

Produce, Recipes
Don't Trash Feed Bags

Just discovered your book and love it. Here’s a money-saving idea I have been using for years  and it is especially helpful for folks who have horses or large dogs: I haven’t purchased a plastic garbage bag in years. Instead, I package all my trash for pickup in my empty paper feed sack bags and staple the bag tops closed. They are 1000 times better for trash because they are extra large, have a waxed inner lining to contain moisture, and are more eco-friendly.

Paper Goods / Disposables, Pets
library, public, borrow, checkout, save, money, free, resource, librarian, libraries Preview, Review and Buy

I just read all the suggestions on your website. It looks like some people have really found ways to save money using the library. I do, too - I use it to preview things I’m interested in buying. For instance, my toddler and I like listening to music while she eats or we’re driving around. I take CDs out of the library first and give them a “trial run.” If she and I like them, I return the CD and buy it from the store. We’ve also done this with picture books and reference books that my husband and I may use.

Entertainment / Recreation
backpack, neutral, gender Family Pass Downs

If you have more than one child, buy items in gender-neutral colors. Label backpacks and lunch boxes with your last name only. This way you can pass the items from child to child without having the wrong name on them!

Spread the Word & Pass it On

I have been blessed by a great number of women at my church.  We have formed somewhat of an informal clothes trading ring. I get clothes for my kids that they can grow into and when my kids grow out of things, they are in turn passed along to other moms. (We also do the same with toys!). I don’t know about you, but all the women involved love to see the favorite outfit that Junior outgrew, much too fast, being enjoyed by another child. I think that in this the children can learn that there is no shame in wearing hand-me-downs (or as I like to call them, “new-to-me’s”). It is also the way that the Lord provides for us as a one-income family (my husband is a public school teacher) and we in turn can help bless others. It’s also helpful to keep Papa's & Nana's informed of the current sizes that the kids are wearing — especially if they are the kind of grandparents that occasionally buy your kids clothes. I also enlist the help of my mother — she is a hard core 2nd hand shopper — if I am currently shopping for something specific, but not able to find it in my favorite haunts.

pictures, portraits, kids, sittings, Kids Pics For Free

Thanks for the valuable information and savings incentives.

I have an idea to share to get free professional pictures. Go to and click on “what’s new”. There’s always a seasonal promotion and a coupon. If your child is 0-12 months click on “smilestones” and you’ll receive coupons for your baby. If your child is little older click on “birthday club” and sign up for a free 8 x 10. These promotions are true to the coupon. Just be sure to check the expiration dates. Of course the company would like for you to purchase more pictures but with the coupons you are under no obligation and you can use a different coupon each month. The Picture People are located in many shopping malls across the USA. You can also call 1.800.341.HOUR (4687) for promotion details.

rocket, launching, It is Rocket Science

I participated in a project along with a friend who is an aerospace engineer. We helped a group of Explorer Scouts build and launch a rocket. My friend spent many sessions, helping these kids build the rocket and included great lessons in rocket technology, physics, mathematics, etc. They were also taught how to determine the altitude of the rocket flight. Then, we went to Vandenburg Air Force Base. The Explorers stayed in military barracks, toured the military base and launched the rocket. This project would involve locating an aerospace engineer with a specialty in rocketry to work with the young people and a location for the launch. There are also rocket clubs that may have qualified members willing to work with young people. On this same trip, we also enjoyed a tour of a nuclear power plant-more science lessons for the Explorers.

kid, pirate, party, costume Arrg Me Harties!

For my son's 7th birthday I had a pirate party. I found the cake idea in Family Fun magazine as well as some game ideas. The kids enjoyed a game called "Walk the Plank." We put a wide plank of wood over our Little Tykes swimming pool and floated plastic alligators in the water. The kids all enjoyed walking the plank. They also enjoyed the foil wrapped cardboard swords that I gave them as a prize for walking the plank. Then we had a treasure hunt with clues. This resulted in the kids finding a cache of gold candy coins that we divided evenly between all the pirates. They took their "booty" home with them in their little wooden treasure chests. I also did an internet search and found the Boardman Web site ( He has suggestions for more games using the pirate theme. I got free pirate hats from Long John Silver's restaurants. I also learned to shop for the theme idea a few months ahead to get the best deals. I did find some gold coins at the 99-cent store, but the quality wasn't very good. Later I discovered that See's Candies had delicious gold coins.

Entertainment / Recreation
magazine, train, library, Magazine

My 3 year-old son loves trains, and once we bought him a model train magazine for $5. Later, I found out our library sells back issues of magazines for 10 cents each. I bought a year's worth of the same magazine for $1.20! He didn't care that the magazines were two years old and neither did I!

Entertainment / Recreation
hose, water, sidewalk, car, wash, Saving Water With Kids

Water is a commodity we too often let flow through our hands. Taking it for granted lets it take a greater chunk of our wallets. Here are three easy water saving tips: 1) Have your children help with the laundry, both loading and unloading the washer and dryer. It helps them see how many dirty clothes they go through. Older kids might take better care of their clothes if they know they'll need to be doing more laundry chores, like pre-spotting.

2) Put a clock where your children can see it when they take a shower. If they know how long they are in, they are less likely to dawdle and use less water in the process. (Editor's Note: We like to use an egg timer.)

3) If your teenager desperately wants to wash their car, send them to the car wash. If they have to feed quarters to keep the water flowing, they will quickly learn how to do the job faster and less often.

Utilities / Phone
Car Ride Sanity

If you are taking a long car trip with children, it pays to plan ahead.

Vacations / Travel
pencils, school, supplies, Salvaged School Supplies

When our children were school age, I would collect all of their leftover school supplies as soon as they arrived home on the last day of school. This allowed me to salvage whatever could be used for the following school year and start planning what would need to be replaced. Buying new supplies was spread out through the summer, which avoided a crunch just before school resumed and allowed me to watch for the best deals on items we needed.

Education, Kids
playground, toys, plastic, shovels, rakes, Recycled, Recyclable Toys

I dip into my recycle bin for "park toys" for my kids.  Clean butter containers, laundry detergent measuring cups, and any other plastic containers make the best sand toys and scoopers! They are free, come in a variety of great shapes and sizes, and I don't care if we lose them or share them with all of the other kids at the park! Once they are broken or unsafe, I throw them back into the recycle bin for collection by the city.

Entertainment / Recreation
Senior Portrait Savings

High school senior portraits are so expensive that it pays to shop around. The studio your school selects will take your student's photo for the yearbook free of charge, even if you don't order the rest of your photos from them. We shopped around and found significant savings. We had our son's pictures taken at J.C. Penney. They did a terrific job . . . and by using an online coupon we received (3) 8x10's, (3) 5x7's, (4) 3 1/2x5's, (18) wallets, and (9) billfolds. (1) 8x10, one 5x7, (3) wallets and (3) billfolds are imprinted with his name and 2007. We paid no sitting fee, had 2 outfits, and could have all pictures emailed to us for an additional $5 (we didn't choose the email option). Our total cost was $41.05. The closest package the school's studio offered for two poses, had (2) 8X10's, (4) 5X7's, (4) 3 1/2X5's, (32) wallets for $229. They also charge a sitting fee of $15, but they often waive that with special promotions. The online proofs cost $10 and they charge $19.95 per script (name and or year on picture). The only drawback was the lack of some props. J.C.Penney's did not have the big graduation numbers that are popular for senior pictures. That is why I had the year inscribed on some of the pictures.

work, mop, kids, college, library, Hard Work U

I was recently made aware of a college in Missouri called College of the Ozarks, located right outside of Branson. The college's nickname is Hard Work U because the students pay NO tuition to attend -instead, they all have to work on campus. I attended a conference there and saw the student staff everywhere on campus (very few "adults" working except for professors). C of O has been recognized as a Top Comprehensive College by U.S. News & World Report yearly since 1989. It is an excellent place to receive a quality education debt-free. Their website is

spiderman, lunch, box, Kids- Pack Up and Save

I always bring a sack lunch with me. Whenever I go to the mall with my kids - especially if we go in the morning- I pack water bottles, snacks, and a sack lunch of PB and J, frozen Go-gurts, and fruit in a lunch box. This way, when we get hungry we are not tempted to eat at someplace in the food court, which can add up quickly. It also saves me the hassle of trying to maneuver through a busy area with kids, stroller, and food on a tray all the while looking for a table and a high chair! We are all set to eat whenever and wherever!

Entertainment / Recreation
Cheap Kids' Fun

We love to take advantage of story time at the library, bookstores and even some children's stores.

They're always free and they do a wonderful job with the kids. Chik-fil-a has a story and craft time that includes a free kids meal with adult food purchase. Another place for less expensive but still great quality classes is a local community center. Ours has everything from ABC's to tumbling to a mommy-and-me science club.

Entertainment / Recreation
chegg, text, book, free Don't Buy Text Books

Hi! I'm a poor college student who really can't afford to spend a lot of money on textbooks.

Buy, Consign, Sell and Swap

We have a newborn and BOY (pun intended) does he go through clothes FAST! We always go to Goodwill's half-off days and pick out the best, cutest stuff for him to wear. Then after he out grows the clothes, I consign what I can (for store credit) and sell the rest on Craigslist. Whatever I have left I take to a clothing swap and trade my stuff for new stuff! The clothing swap isn't always a guarantee but it’s fun and I usually end up with at least two or three things I love.

Clothes, Kids
Groovy Party Ideas

My daughter recently had her 12th birthday party. We cleared out all the furniture, purchased an inexpensive disco ball and strobe lights and had a “Groovy” dance party. We found that if you plug an iPod into a speaker amp it sounds just like a club sound system. I had Sydney download her favorite current songs from iTunes and for under $20 plus the cost of food and lights we had a unique experience without a huge expense. The girls loved having my middle son DJ their favorite songs, and we had a singing and dance contest. Every girl received a little gift bag. We filled the bag with peanuts (shelled) and movie theatre style candy (Gummy Worms, Skittles Hershey bars, gum drops) purchased at The Dollar Store. I took skewers that you would use for kebobs and made a candy bouquet out of them. The girls loved the bouquet and I am now going to make them for the endless upcoming parties my daughter will be going to. The best part is that everything is edible! A few weeks later I made a cookie bouquet using Oreo cookies and candy bars. My 19-year loved receiving that for his birthday.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
moving van Relocated Equity

We are in the process of moving from Massachusetts to Rhode Island — why — because Massachusetts housing prices were too expensive.

We were able to find a wonderful home in RI for less than the cost of a two-bedroom condo in Mass., and this house has four bedrooms. So far this is the best money saving experience we have had and we look forward to continuing the trend with the tips we learn from your newsletter.

Budget, Housing & Home Repair
room for rent sign Rent For Room - Free & Clear

Rent out a room to help pay the mortgage on your new home.

Housing & Home Repair
signs in yard indicating property lines Don't Cross That Line!

I recently had a property dispute with a new neighbor who claimed her survey (which was 10 years old and from the previous owner) said that I was encroaching on her property by two-and-one-half feet!

Housing & Home Repair
Furniture and Rock Bottom Prices

I have purchased almost all of my furniture in Hickory N.C. (High Point, N.C. is another good place) from furniture stores selling either samples used in photo shoots or factory damaged, high-end pieces. I have saved thousands of dollars furnishing my den, bedroom, and dining room. The damaged pieces included problems like: a leg of armoire not stained, an interior shelf missing, and some minor scratches and dents. I touched up the pieces and they all look great.

Crafts / Decor, Housing & Home Repair
keys Key Security Idea

I live alone and am concerned about intruders. Here’s what I do. I put my car keys beside my bed at night. If I hear a noise outside my home or someone trying to break in, all I have to do is press the panic button for my car. The alarm will be set off and the horn will continue to sound until I turn it off or the car battery dies. Most burglars won’t hang around if there is a lot of noise. I learned this from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Before you do this, test it and see if your panic button works from your bedroom to your car. Also remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there.

Zip Lowers Insurance Rates

I live in Glendale, Arizona— where the Super Bowl was played — but have a Peoria zip code. This has always seemed a little strange to me. A while back our neighborhood received a notice from the city that we would be allowed to vote on a proposal to change our zip code to a Glendale address. Initially, I thought it was a good idea, but after talking to one of my neighbors I changed my mind. She told me that she had researched it and said that it would raise her six month auto insurance premium $100 to $200 per year. An increase in insurance premiums had never occurred to me so I called my insurance agent. He confirmed that my premiums would increase with a Glendale zip code. Thankfully the change did not go through. So if you’re looking for property to buy or rent, and you’re torn between two homes in different zip codes, be sure to compare your auto and homeowners insurance costs.

5 Ways I've Saved

Here are just five of hundreds of ways that I’ve saved money while living in Southern California: 

1. Rent a room in your house (I’ve done this since 2001 to earn $400 each month). I look for tenants who are over the age of 40 and work full time. I clearly communicate the following rules: no alcohol, no smoking, no pets and no visitors.

2. Rent your garage or yard for storage.

3. Buy TV’s, stereos, answer machines, telephones, etc. as separate components.

4. Use rechargeable NiMH batteries and a battery checker.

5. Take your lunch to work to save $l000 or more each and every year — I’ve done this since 1992.

Budget, Housing & Home Repair
Fragile: Handle With Blankets

During our last move, we used all of our towels, blankets, sheets, etc. to pack our fragile items in boxes.  It saved a lot of money in bubble wrap and packing paper and kept our fragile items from breaking just as well if not better! It also kept us from having a lot of trash to dispose of after unpacking the items.

woman walking Free Health Care

'"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"...

It Pays To Tell Your Age

Once you reach the best years of your life

broken eyeglasses Twisted Visions

If you or any member of your family wear glasses,

dentist working in patient's mouth Say Ahhhh...For Less

With our recent move, we no longer have dental insurance covered by an employer.

We checked out a local college that offers a dental hygienist program. We got all our routine cleanings, X-rays, and fluoride treatments done by second year students, under the close supervision of their instructors, for a fraction of the price of seeing a dentist (2 adults and 2 children for $78.00). They were able to schedule all of us during the same time slot which helped offset the extra time it takes to have this work done by a student. If we had gone to a dental office, they would have done only one or maybe two of us at a time. If you have more time than money, it's a great way to save on dental care. Oh, and I have never had such a thorough dental check-up!

pills Rx For What Ails You At Sam's Or Costco

Prescription drugs can cost an arm and a leg, or more, these days.

Manage Your Co-Pay

If you have prescription coverage with a co-pay as part of your health insurance, ask your doctor to write your prescription for a three month supply.

Prescription Reduction

Yes, prescriptions are extremely expensive!

Chicken Soup For The Flu

I have a great book entitled Eat Right to Live Long by Dr. Cass Igram.

basket at bottom of stairs Upstairs, Downstairs?

We live in a two story townhouse.

Test Drugs First

Pharmacies always fill a prescription the way the physician ordered it

Mouthguard Take A Bite Out Of This

The dentist recently recommended that I replace the bite guard that I wear at night.

Seizure Drug Savings

I'm on a maintenance drug for a seizure disorder.

Looking Good & Seeing Better

When it is time to get new prescription glasses, I buy the frames on eBay for a few dollars and have my optometrist put in the new lenses.

Prescription Perks

Right now there is a big competition among local pharmacies to get your business.

dentist working in patient's mouth Smiling At The Dentist

I was blessed with my fathers easy going personality, wittiness and his less than perfect teeth. On a recent trip to the dentist I was advised that I would need two crowns, not to mention a small cavity that needed to be filled. I asked for the price of one crown and they said it would cost me $1364 ($2728 for two of them). Yikes, so much for our Disneyland trip. My husband has a great job but no dental insurance. A few weeks earlier, I had seen a dental plan online with my dentist's name on it. The receptionist confirmed that they did accept this plan, which is a discount plan not insurance. She informed me that if I signed up for the plan (Aetna Dental Access) that same $1364 crown would cost me only $691. The same service for almost half the price! I went home and signed up for the discount plan at Affordable Dental Care (they had several plans to choose from).

It cost less than $90 for one year. I can now get two crowns for the price of one, and the filling which would have cost me $159 is now only $76. It certainly pays to investigate and be an advocate for yourself. These plans are available in most states. Even if you have dental insurance, you can benefit from these discount programs. Keep Smiling, I know I am.

Emergency Room Contact

If you must go to the emergency room, get the name of the nurse who treats you in case you have questions after leaving.

Vigilance On Medical Bills

Always double and triple check your bills and the Insurance EOBs (Explanation of Benefits) statements when you receive medical care.

pills Generic Dosage Saves

I take several prescription drugs, and one of them just became generic.

Mousse Less - Hold More

I'm a professional hair dresser. If you use hair gel, you can double your savings by running water over your hand to thin out or liquefy the gel before applying it to your hair. You'll use half the amount of gel and get the same look.

Health & Beauty
Hair Raising Savings

Most salons charge outrageous prices for a haircut. Learn to cut your family's hair yourself! There are videos and books in the library showing you how. Or maybe you have a friend who is a professional stylist and would teach you the tricks of the trade. Invest in a good pair of scissors and a cape (find them at a beauty supply store). I cut my husband's hair and he cuts mine. We do it out on the patio so the house doesn't get dirty. You can learn to do this! And you'll save a ton of money each year.

Health & Beauty
Baby Face For $2

Beauty! For ten years I used an expensive skin cleanser because my skin was so sensitive to soap. Because of an eye infection, I had to use baby shampoo on my hair. I later discovered that the shampoo also takes off eye make-up very well and left my skin really soft. So I started using it as my facial cleanser and my skin hasn’t been better. It costs only $2 a bottle instead of $18!

Health & Beauty
Soap Slivers Live On!

After you use a bar of soap for a while, it gets too small & slippery to work very well. Right? Here’s how you can get more suds out of your bar of soap. After you’ve saved up a handful of leftover “slivers”, take a pair of old panty hose and get out your sewing machine. Using the panty hose, cut out & make a small bag to enclose a handful of soap slivers. Make it snug around the soap slivers. Sew it up, keeping the slivers inside. I use the resulting ‘soap pouch’ at the bathroom sink. I’ve been doing this now for about 6 months and it works great. Sometimes I think it lathers & cleans hands better than a plain bar of soap — I suggest light-colored panty hose and thread for a nicer appearance.

Health & Beauty
curling iron in mit Hot Curling Iron Mit

I use my curling iron 2-3 times a week and hate to leave it in the sink, unplugged but still hot. So I took my old ironing board cover and made mits for the differing sizes. The smaller one is: 11 1/2" x 4 and the larger is 12" x 6 1/2". Add a short pocket in the front for the plug and they store great. I cut the pieces for the smaller one by laying the material flat and measuring 8 1/4" across, this is 1/4" seam allowance and 4" wide finished size. I then make another cut that is 12" long, again leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. I fold it in half and make the cut edge rounded for aesthetic reasons. I then cut another piece half again the length, but same width for the plug pocket. I sew a piece of binding tape along the top edge of both pieces. Then I lay the pocket piece on top of the larger piece of material and fold in half. I sew the cut edge with seam binding and it is ready to go! I also store these in my cupboard in their cases and have used quilted placemats (lining it with ironing board material) from yard sales and thrift stores to make them as gifts. I have also taken a small piece of the matching material and added a hanging loop for those that hang their irons.

Gifts / Holidays, Health & Beauty
various lipstick colors on lips Custom Lipstick Colors

Take colors of lipstick that you don't care for and mix them in a lip gloss container. Melt in the microwave for 10 - 15 seconds. You then have a color no one can imitate and everyone adores. Mix blues with browns, flat colors with gloss - just about anything works. This is a great way to use up the remnant parts of lipstick stuck in the bottom of the tube. It also helps to clean out your cosmetics drawer of unwanted colors.

Health & Beauty, Personal Care
Sew What?

I am rough on my necklace chains and had an Altoids tin full of chains that had come detached at or near the clasp in the back.  Either a link had broken or the finding connecting the chain to the clasp had bent open. I have found that many of the larger linked chains can be repaired by taking a needle and thread and "sewing" the still undamaged links together on either end of the break. This also works on undamaged necklaces that you simply want to lengthen a bit. Just sew on a length of thread. Unless you have short hair, no one will be the wiser.

Men's Touch-up For Women

A friend at work revealed a secret to me the other day. She told me that she colored her eyebrows by using a men's mustache and beard hair touch-up coloring kit. It's cheaper than going to a professional and it looked really natural to me.

Health & Beauty
Lotion Lift

I've come up with an easy way to save money on lotions. When an expensive lotion bottle is about three-quarters empty I add baby lotion to the bottle, shake it up and I have extended the expensive "smell" for just a few pennies.

Health & Beauty
Pearly White Polish

I've found that toothpaste makes an excellent polish for silver jewelry.  Pepsodent works well, and I can usually find it at the 99-cent stores, Big Lots and the like. Simply "shmear" it on, rub it in with your fingers, rinse, dry with a soft hand towel and voila! Shiny, like new jewelry!

Good Hair Days!

The Super Mall in Auburn, Washington has a hair salon that gives haircuts for $9.95 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Their normal price is much higher. It’s a good idea to ask your salon if they have discount days also.

Health & Beauty
Get Gnats Gnow

This is something I’ve been doing for years to keep from getting bitten by gnats. Rub a thin film of baby oil on all exposed skin before heading outside if gnats are active. The oil forms a barrier against gnat bites.Susan & Stephan Baumert — Falls Church, VA

Health & Beauty
bottle of hand soap The Dawn Of Soft Soap

One expense around the house that seemed unnecessary was the cost of hand soap. In D.C., it's gone up to $3.50 for a bottle of Method foam pump hand soap, and while we both appreciated the benefit of clean hands, we were wary to make this purchase a second time. Our solution? Diluting Dawn's new Direct Foam for dishes into the used bottle. We found that three or four pumps of Dawn, combined with water, provided enough soap to keep our hands clean and it costs us pennies to refill rather than dollars. The good news is that Dawn is regularly on sale, and coupons, of course, are always a hit.

Cleaning & Products
bottles of shampoo Suave Moves

Since most shampoos and body wash products all are made of the same types of things — I buy lots of cheap “Suave” shampoo and we use it for body wash, hand soap, shampoo and everything else. It saves us a lot of money!

Health & Beauty
Enlist Your Expired Coupons

Military Commissaries have an extra 6 months to turn in their coupons for redemption. So, if you have expired coupons, give them to someone who shops at a commissary - they'll be saving money longer.

ABC - Alpha Betical Coupons

I have a different way to keep my coupons. Of course, everyone thinks it is way different, but it works for me. I file the coupons alphabetically--then when I shop I just look for the product by name (i.e. Palmolive Dish Liquid) I look under P and find it.

pumpkin Prudent Pumpkin Eater

I got a free pumpkin this year and it is in the freezer - except for what I have eaten. It is delicious with nothing added as I try to avoid too many sugared products. After washing thoroughly and removing the seeds and strings, I cut the pumpkin into three-inch pieces. I fit the whole pumpkin into my tall stock pot, added a little water and cooked until it was tender. Then I processed in my food processor, skins and all. It took a little longer than usual because of the skins but I ended with great pumpkin ready for the freezer. It had a much better flavor than pumpkin I had cooked previously. I wondered if it could have been that this time, I left the skin on. It made it much simpler as well. I think I had retained more nutritional value as with many vegetables more vitamins are just under the skin. (Strictly my idea, valid or not?) There was certainly no waste except the stem portions. Next year, I plan to get 3 or 4.

Cooking, Produce
Generic Savings

My husband and I buy mostly generic / store brands when we grocery shop.

When we first started we only bought one or two to see if it was as good or close to the same quality as name brands. Most generic brands are just as good as the name brand and about half the price. We also buy what we can in bulk. But you have to be careful and take the time to see if it's actually less expensive.

Cooperative Veggies

My sister-in-law belongs to a produce co-op. With a group of friends, they take turns going to a produce warehouse (that sells to restaurants and grocery stores) ... one person goes once every 2 weeks and spends approximately $20 per person, collected beforehand. They purchase produce by the case (so it is a good idea for the group to be 6 or 12 people because cases of produce are usually divisible by 6 or 12). They get the wholesale price and then divide it up and deliver it to the other members of the co-op. They get tons of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables for a fraction of what they cost at the grocery store. Eating healthy is a great long-term money saver, too.

Take One For The Road

Years ago when we just starting on our frugal trek, we discovered many ways that we were wasting money. One of them was soft-drinks. When we'd go out for a weekend drive and get thirsty, we stop at a fast food place to get a soft drink. On a daily basis, it didn't seem like a lot of money, but on a monthly basis, it really started to add up. We decided to start taking our favorite drinks with us. A little planning in advance can really add up!

Entertainment / Recreation
A Bounty Of...Bounty

We reuse paper towels that have been used to absorb water off of freshly washed vegetables. We simply leave them out for a day and they're dry and ready to use.

Paper Goods / Disposables
stock, up, bulk, coupons, pennies, dollars, Stock-Up on Sales and Save

I’m always watching the newspapers for sales. When I see a storable food item at a steeply discounted price I don’t just buy one or two, I stock up on as many as I have coupons for. Often times I pay pennies for dollar items. I always keep in mind how much storage space I have and the shelf life of the item.

fast, food, car, race, Fast Food For Fatigued Families

With three kids and homeschooling, my life has been busy. I generally cook from scratch, but some days I’m just too tired. So as not to buy fast food or the likes, I have resorted to buying some ready-made foods on sale, to keep on hand. Items such as frozen pizza, canned tamales mixed with canned chili, macaroni and cheese or other canned soup make an easy meal. This saves money and the kids think it is a treat.

Entertainment / Recreation
Caution At Costco!

Be careful at Costco. You are better off purchasing sale items with coupons for paper goods, bread and other stuff at the local grocery chain. There are only selected items that I purchase at Costco.

Clip Coupons for Free Flights??

I wanted to share a money-making idea for children – as well as a money saving idea for the family budget! I have been price matching at Wal-Mart for several months and have realized a savings of about $35.00 per week. This helps tremendously, trying to feed ten of us – including five teen-age boy athletes! I am not fond of the coupon hunt but my 14 year old is. So, he does all the clipping and sorting, and I split the savings with him each week - he has earned quite a bit of the green, that’s for sure! It took a little “training” on my part to make sure the coupons he cut for me weren’t all junk food! He still slips in the occasional junk food ones once in a while. I even reward his hard work and buy that treat for everyone! In a very short time, he has saved enough money to fly to California and spend a weekend with his Grandma. He is thrilled and so are we!

Monthly Meat Bought in Bulk

During the last few months I’ve been trying to get a hold of our expenses and came across a really cool tip. Buying meat in bulk on a monthly basis. I’ve found a butcher near our home who sells a month’s worth of meat for $80. You can mix up the type and amount of meat. This has been wonderful because I feel “well stocked” and can plan or make a meal without running out for main ingredients. The money I save goes to stocking up on dry goods and frozen veggies. Of course, I purchase store brands and not the expensive stuff. I’ve found that even with coupons, most times the store brand is less expensive.

Groceries, Meat
celery, foil, Fresh Celery Gets Foiled

Here is a tip that really works! After bringing home celery from the store, take it out of the plastic and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Store it in your refrigerator veggie bin and it will last for weeks.

To the Flea Market We Go!

Our area has a great flea market across the bay in Oakland.  I’ve found a “damaged food” vendor and have bought some great items for a fraction of the regular grocery store price. Most items have received damage to their box or container, but the food inside was free from damage and still sealed. These vendors are also negotiable on their prices! A real bonus is that on Wednesday and Thursday, entrance to the flea market is only 25¢ and 50¢ respectively.

Fast Food Pantry

I always keep taco fixings on hand (and usually have cooked ground meat in the freezer to zap in the microwave), spaghetti, pasta, and tortillas. Tortillas can be used as a quick individual pizza crust, roll ups (with whatever leftovers we happen to have), scrambled egg burritos (which also freeze well) or just melt cheese in a folded tortilla and dip in salsa.

carrots, bag, towel, moist, paper Long Term Veggie Storage

I’ve found that cutting up veggies, like carrots, celery or cauliflower and then putting them in storage bags along with a moist (not dripping) paper towel helps the veggies not to get dried out. Another benefit is that they last longer too.

The Fast Food Pantry

We live 20 miles from the nearest fast food restaurant, so I have devised my own fast food menu. I keep my pantry stocked for a few easy meal nights. When 4 PM hits, and I don’t feel like cooking, or have not pulled anything out to defrost, I look at my pantry.

bushel, basin, bucket, beans, Co-op Makes Great Expectations

Here is an outstanding idea for saving money on groceries (besides having a garden): a food co-op or wholesale purchasing group.  Friends can form a food co-op, give themselves a name, and obtain groceries at wholesale prices, if there is a natural foods warehouse in their community. It worked beautifully for about a dozen of us in the Seattle area: we called ourselves the "Better Bread" group - and yes, we did experiment with making bread, too. We gathered a few friends and met monthly to get the grocery list going. It's a wonderful way to learn about new foods, "We need three more people to take a few pounds of couscous," or, "Red lentils are on sale if we get a full bushel," and, of course, to make lasting friends. The food truck delivered to one person's home, and we'd converge to have our meeting, discuss a topic or two of common interest, and divvy up the large parcels of interesting groceries. Warning: after a few months, a high proportion of our members were 'expecting' again. We decided it was due to the vitamin E!

shopping, cart, bags, food, Shopping Less, Saving More

I took your advice and have reduced my trips to the store. I was one of those people who would shop at the store two or three times each week - spending 75 to 100 dollars each time. I now shop one time each week spending a total of 100 dollars. This change has cut my weekly food bill at least 100 dollars- that's about 400 dollars each month!!!!

Impulse Buys In the Basket

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I put one of those hand baskets in the child seat area of my cart. As I shop I put anything I pick up that is not on my list in the basket. This way I can easily see my impulse items and evaluate them before I get to the check out lane. There are always some things that I don't really need so . . . they get put back.

grinder, beef, food, side, Here's the Beef

Early in our marriage we had six children, and I worked outside of our home. To feed our large family, we would buy a load of meat (usually a side of beef) from the butcher. Of course, we received some less than desirable cuts of meat, so we'd get creative. For example, we'd take several pounds of ground beef and make two or three large meat loaves to freeze raw. We'd also make large batches of meatballs (about 80 at one time) and freeze those too. Then we mounted a hamburger press on a board and let the kids take the rest of the ground beef to make loads of hamburgers - we separated them with waxed paper to keep them from sticking together. Buying in bulk and working together fed us well and saved us lots of money.

Smart Beans

As a single mom with three children, I have found that cooking with beans is a cost-effective and healthy way to stretch my monthly food budget. Here's one way I include beans into our meal rotation: 1. Cook a pot of beans in the crock pot and serve with rice, biscuits or corn bread. I usually serve a salad too. 2. Place the leftover beans in a food processor to make your own "refried beans" for bean burritos the following night. 3. The remaining beans can be placed in smaller plastic containers and frozen for future usage.

Coffee Using the Bean

THERE is a difference between the whole bean and the ground coffee!  When I look at coffee prices in the grocery store, there is a $1 difference between the whole bean and the ground coffee packages - the ground coffee being more expensive. Here's what I do: I buy the less expensive one (whole bean) and then use the coffee grinder there in the store to grind it up. Not only is it less expensive, but I also grind it at the finest setting, which means that I end up using less coffee than the pre-ground -which is more coarsely ground- to get the same strength coffee in my coffee maker.

Shelf Items
coupon, mom, website, I'm a Coupon Mom

I started using coupons about a month ago and already have seen a change in how much I pay for certain items.

One day while I was on my lunch break, I went online to look for more coupons and came across This web site is awesome! You not only get tons of coupons but the best part of this site is that they do the research for you. They tell you how to match up coupons with deals in the stores so you get the item for less. It's great for someone like me, who just started using coupons. I'm still learning how to match coupons with deals to pay less and this web site takes all of the mystery out of it. I recommend this site for anyone, just sign up for their newsletter and sit back and relax.


Lots of frugal coupon-clipping moms are telling us that All You Magazine is well worth the subscription price (6 issues for $10 / 12 issues for $19.95). There are hundreds of dollars worth of excellent coupons in each issue. We’ve picked up a few copies and agree. It’s one magazine that actually pays for itself.

food, boxes, S.H.A.R.E, It Pays to S.H.A.R.E

We have been buying food from SHARE (Self Help and Resource Exchange) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the last 8 months. We have saved nearly $80.00 a week by simply not going to the grocery store two to three times each week. We normally spend between $175 and $200 at SHARE each month and we always have food left over at the end of the month. Our freezer is full and we can help out friends in need. My two best friends have started ordering as well and we see them having to shop less also. It has been such a wonderful experience. Visit for more information.

UPDATE: SHARE has ceased operations in Wisconsin in April of 2012 after 27 years of serving families in Wisconsin and Minnesota. You can read more here.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services provides food assistance to low income families. Get details here.

frozen, grapes, cold, refreshing, healthy, summer, snack No Sour Grapes Here

After I buy grapes I stem, wash, dry, and then freeze them. Frozen grapes make a refreshing, healthy summer snack, and they last much longer this way. Another benefit: Our eight-month-old loves to chew on them in his baby safe feeder. They are great for relieving the pain of teething.

Trimming Margarine Expenses Better Butter Control

I can get so much more out of my butter or margarine by using this simple tip. Most wrappers on sticks of butter or margarine are marked to cut the stick into 8 tablespoons. I get more “mileage” out of my butter or margarine by taking the new sticks and scoring (or marking) the top of each stick into 12 to 16 pieces with a knife. This helps me with portion control and makes my sticks last almost twice as long. This is really helpful as I’m on a very limited budget.

Comics, presents, gifts, kids, Comical Presents

I save the Sunday comics to wrap kids birthday presents in them. They're bright and colorful, always available and the kids love them.

Gifts / Holidays
Low Stress Holliday Planning

I keep a gift list all year long and buy gifts throughout the year, so when Christmas comes around I don't have much holiday shopping to do. Also, I can buy things when they are on sale. I don't buy clothes though since those might need to be returned and by the time the holiday comes they may not be in stock anymore. Another thing that our family does is we draw names by family (there are five of us siblings and now our kids). We buy a gift for the family instead of a gift for each person, which can be a major expense with such a large extended family.

Gifts / Holidays
Dr. Seuss, book, oh the places you'll go, Oh, The Places We Don't Go!

While not too frugal, my standard graduation gift to give for the High Schooler (and only to those who send me an announcement) is a copy of Dr. Seuss's, "Oh the Places You'll Go" along with a small check because every graduate needs cash. 

For the College Graduate I give a copy of one of the "Worst Case Scenario" books and a modest check. This is my standard gift for those two events. I do keep a "gift" box so that when my daughter needs a last minute gift item for an event she has been invited to, I don't have to rush out shopping. Walmart and Target after Christmas have neat "gifty" things that have worked over time.

Gifts / Holidays, Kids
Counting the Days

Send advent calendars with the paper doors to open one a day (available from Current catalog) to relatives and close friends with small children in lieu of other gifts. This is a very thoughtful gift as kids get to help count down to the big day and the parents know you thought of them. One year when I didn't think far enough ahead I found Christmas place mats at the dollar store and sent them in early December. Their mom reported they were a big hit.

Gifts / Holidays
pinata, christmas, tree, candy, Take a Swing At These Ideas

Some Christmas gift ideas we have made in the past. A fun family gift is to make a pinata, and fill it with coins wrapped in foil, cookie cuttercandies, and little trinkets. Another gift is to find 2 or 3 cute cookie cutters and wrap them with a bottle of sprinkles and your favorite sugar cookie recipe.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
photo album page Get The Picture

Whether for Christmas or any other occasion, out-of-town family members appreciate this: Take your photographs and arrange them on a plain sheet of white paper--usually four 3 x 5's, or two 4 x 6's--they can be held in place with a loop of scotch tape on the back. Add neatly-written captions, and then the one "master" sheet will make copies at the going price (usually less than $1 now). This saves both time and money over making multiple copies of pictures; and despite the ease of sending photos online, now, these paper photo-sheets are appreciated a lot. (Send them in a large envelope, 9 x 12, so they're not creased. Of course used envelopes are fine.) I have seen these taped up on 'fridges and on bulletin boards months after they were received, & used as a way of keeping family news & faces alive for all concerned, between visits. Since it involves a really valuable content, and takes time to prepare, it does make a valid gift. Artistic improvements can be made on the edges or with the lettering, too–or use stiffer paper, make photos into a collage, add a colored border, etc. – it's fun to be creative with the display.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
Wrap It Up In Brown Paper

I had just completed a quilt for our friend's wedding shower. Looking around the house, we didn't have a box big enough to nicely wrap the quilt. I thought, "Why not wrap the quilt in one of those plastic storage bins? They're relatively inexpensive, AND who couldn't use a storage bin?" So she ended up getting a nice, sturdy storage bin with lid for $3.89. And rather than use rolls of expensive store bought wrapping paper, Linda used a yard or so of brown Kraft paper, and wrapped the box to resemble an old fashioned suit case. I added some "travel labels" (Paris, Rome, Venice...), fashioned a handle from pipe cleaners and attached a "luggage tag" (made from a file folder and brown duct tape) wishing the soon to be wed couple, "May the rest of your life be as wonderful as a sunny day in Paris". The package AND the quilt were a big hit, and there was hardly anything to throw away.

Gifts / Holidays
Great Gifts By The Bag Full

Great gifts for the older generation, college students and people just starting out on their own —Postage stamps, phone cards, Walmart or grocery store gift certificates, boxes of birthday and greeting cards with stamps included. Other gifts that are always welcome include a grocery sack filled with soups, small cans of fruits and veggies, canned tuna, salmon, chicken, ham etc., packets of hot cocoa, coffee or tea, small packets of crackers and cookies, paper goods – the list is endless. Set a price limit and see how full you can make the bag!

decorative tins Tin Stockpile

Decorative tins can be purchased at the flea market, garage sales, etc. I fill them with homemade cookies or other treats to be given as gifts. Most of the tins are so pretty they require no wrapping at all.

Gifts / Holidays
picture, frame, jazz, decor, craft, easy Jazzing Picture Frames

Inexpensive photo frames purchased at garage sales can be jazzed up by:

  1. Gluing buttons of all shapes, colors and sizes on the frame
  2. Cover the frame in lively paper - comics or whatever.
  3. Paint dark dull frames in bright colors.

If you have a photo of the recipient, insert it in the frame before presenting it as a gift.

Also, cigar boxes can be painted, covered in cloth remnant, lined in felt to make nice jewelry boxes for grown ups or "treasure boxes" for children.

Crafts / Decor
And The Envelope...Please

Kind of like socks without mates, I found several of my greeting cards did not have envelopes. So I went into an office supply store that sold greeting cards and asked if I could buy their extra envelopes. Well for about a nickle per envelope and about 45 minutes of time, I came out with envelopes that were prettier than the original ones.

Gifts / Holidays
Wrap It Up For Pennies

I purchase wrapping paper and ribbons at garage sales for pennies. A large plastic container (wastebasket size) filled with ribbon I got for $1. I'm still using the ribbon. And the container holds magazines and newspapers in the bathroom.

Gifts / Holidays
Discontinued Gifts

Many times throughout the year I get invited to home parties of all kinds. I take advantage of the “Discontinued” merchandise that they have on sale. Sometimes the demonstrator has over-purchased or is over-stocked on products from the distribution department. I can get up to 50-80% off gift items that I store away for Christmas or that occasional gift that I was unprepared for. These gifts usually come in handy for a “hard-to-buy-for” person on my list.

Gifts / Holidays
wrapped present Wrap It Up For Less

I buy Christmas wrapping paper when it’s 50% to 75% off, but I look for the solid color prints or the wrapping paper that doesn’t look like Christmas. I use the wrapping paper between birthdays, weddings or whatever comes up. This is a big savings. I stocked up two years ago and still have plenty for another year or two. Another way of using this paper, is when mailing through the post office and your package needs to be wrapped, just turn the paper inside out to wrap your package and then write directly on the paper for your mailing address.

Gifts / Holidays
Cards Online, Save Cash In Time!

I have discovered sending E cards through email. With the cost of greeting cards reaching $3- $5, it is great to do it online. Many companies offer a selected number of free cards. Just do a search for “e cards” and a lot of results will appear.

Gifts / Holidays
Stocking Up On Scholastics

When my son comes home from school with a Scholastic Book order, there are always one or two $.95 books listed on the front. I stock up on these for birthday gifts, or even baby shower gifts. Sometimes they will even come with a matching pencil or other item that make a great gift. And for only 95 cents. No more running out at the last minute and paying more for a gift when my children are invited to a birthday party. And I love giving books as a gift anyway, instead of toys.

Gifts / Holidays
A Jungle Of Books - Used And New

Almost any books or CD’s that we choose to buy— as opposed to borrowing— we get used on Amazon.comThe item descriptions often state that the book is brand new or CD is still in the wrapper, so we use this for gift-giving too. I have purchased more than 25 items “used” this way over the past several years, and have saved on average per purchase $8- $10 per item AND done it from the convenience of home to avoid any other impulse buys.

Gifts / Holidays
A Bazaar Idea For Christmas

In our area churches have bazaars featuring handmade items. These are usually reasonably priced --afghans, pillows and baby clothes. You can do a lot of Christmas shopping there. And as long as weather permits, sometimes well into November, bargains can be found at neighborhood garage sales. I suspect that some items being sold are presents - never used!

Gifts / Holidays
pile of junk Declutter And De Tax

When you donate to the Salvation Army or Goodwill they will give you a blank receipt. Before you leave the donation site, fill in the items, their condition and have the Collection Agent sign the receipt. Then file the receipt away with your tax info. The IRS has a standard deduction amount for many things and the better the condition the greater the deduction. This is great right before holidays, birthdays and between Christmas and New Year because it helps you de-clutter and make room for new things.

Kid Friendly Christmas Tags

Instead of buying tags for our gifts this year, I scanned a photo of each family member and printed out several 2x3 copies on regular paper for each person. I cut these out and used them as tags, writing on the plain side. Our younger children could easily help pass out gifts without having to read, and it was fun seeing all those smiling faces under the tree! But best of all, for the low price of 5 pieces of paper and some ink, we had custom tags for all of our gifts.

Gifts / Holidays
Your First (Married) Christmas

If you know you will be attending a wedding in the next year, why not prepare a "First Married Christmas" box. Most newlyweds (especially younger couples) do not have many holiday decorations of their own. Shop right after Christmas for ornaments, table linens, candles, stockings, etc. You can really fill up a box of nice things for a low total cost.

Gifts / Holidays
jar of jelly The Jelly Trade

Jelly is an easy-to-make and priceless gift. I always put the word out that I will trade a jar of homemade jelly for extra jelly jars. This year people have given me over 30 jars. Then I pick wild fruit, and make jellies to give away as Christmas gifts. Last fall, my sister-in-law and I spent the day together. We first picked wild grapes along a roadside, then made jelly while our children played in her back yard. The kids had a great time, and we canned 39 jars of jelly in under seven hours (including the time to pick the grapes and feed the children lunch). With the jars given to us and free fruit, each jar costs under 50 cents, and makes a wonderful Christmas gift for church friends, relatives or acquaintances. This year alone, I have canned strawberry jam, wild grape jam, wild cherry jam, raspberry jam, salsa, and several "combination" jams. I'm looking forward to picking free apples this fall to make applesauce and apple butter. I not only have gifts for just about anyone, but I have an easy dish to take to a pot luck. Homemade jam and rolls is always popular!

Cooking, Gifts / Holidays
Spiderman lunchbox and watch Watch Spiderman Eat

A great way to get new and inexpensive gifts is to watch for companies that are running various promotions. They usually require you to send in a few UPC's from a product, your receipt and a couple of dollars to cover the shipping and handling. I recently sent in three UPC's from Kraft Cheese singles and got a Spiderman lunchbox and watch set. It only cost me $1.95 shipping and handling! Most of the time the promotions are on products I'm buying anyway, so it really is a great deal.

Gifts / Holidays
basket full of stuffed animals Share My Bear

Over the last several months I have been encouraging my children to think about sharing a few of their stuffed animals. We watched for baskets at the thrift shop and bought Easter grass at Walmart. We found several Christian books about Easter and made Easter baskets. We then took these to a local church which has a "store" (all items are given away, no charge) for families torn apart by domestic violence. Many of these women and children (primarily) flee their homes with nothing. The volunteer staff is very good about reminding my children that sharing in such a way is like sharing with Jesus! It's wonderful. At Christmas we also shared things that were still nice and clean.

envelope with Valentine Mysterious Greetings

My husband and I enjoy exchanging cards for different holidays during the year, but we never address the envelope. Instead, we save and recycle them. That way we always have plenty of envelopes, especially the large size, for the occasional card- purchased or home made - that we need an envelope for.

Gifts / Holidays
Giving To Help

I make most of my charitable contributions to my church. But on occasion when I hear of a need to fund moral issues that I believe in - sanctity of life, marriage amendment etc., I give what I can. I stay away from medical causes (unless I know someone with that particular disease) and political campaigns.

Gifts / Holidays
Giving Thoughtfully

My husband and I decided on three charities to support as a family-he chose one, I chose one, and we chose one together.It wasn't difficult; we both like all three charities! He supports an animal charity. I support an organization that I volunteer with. The third was a child/baby charity. Any other charitable giving, has to come from our own personal funds - we each get a monthly "allowance." Recently, I gave additional money to "my" charity and on occasion others - for example, I love Girl Scout cookies and often send a small amount to my alma mater. If any other group calls or comes to the door, I just say, "We've already chosen where to donate our money this year." I don't feel guilty because we made thoughtful choices about issues that are of importance to us.

Gifts / Holidays
Put On Your Giving Bonnet

My favorite place for charitable giving is Newborns in Need in Houston, Missouri. But I don't just give money. Every few months, I put my fabric scraps and sewing skills to use to make baby bonnets and quilted diaper bags. They are given to families in need. It helps them and gives me a warm feeling.

Budget, Crafts / Decor
stack of laptops tied with ribbon and bow Giving Stuff Instead Of Money

Your suggestions to consider non-financial gifts is one that more charitable minded givers ought to consider. For example, I welcome gifts of used laptop computers and Christian books. I pass these along to ministries in the developing world as I travel. Friends can donate their frequent flyer miles to help toward my ministry travel needs. Professionals of all kinds donate their services as a means of "supporting" me. Here are some examples I've experienced or heard of: medical services; dental services; counseling services; tutoring for the children; grooming (hair cutting and styling for men and women; nails for women; etc.); tax preparation; financial counseling / planning; attorney services. Other businessmen have provided: materials at their cost or accommodations (i.e. hotel rooms or apartments). I'm so thankful for these creative ways that people can give and receive non-financial gifts.

Gifts / Holidays
airplane with banner Infrequent Flyer Rewards

I have found a way to buy magazine subscriptions, for myself or for a gift, using frequent flyer miles.

Vacations / Travel
encyclopedias Smart Donation

I had a 1974 set of World Book Encyclopedias which I never used, preferring Google and for reference. Re-sale shops said if I donated them, they would shred them. One of my daughter-in-laws suggested that I donate them to an adult day care center. They not only welcomed the set and the year books but also gave me a receipt for a tax deductible donation.

Gifts / Holidays
Scrap Christmas, Be Creative!

We have a large family and cannot afford to buy Christmas gifts. A few years ago I discovered a wholesaler who sells fleece and cotton fabric to retail stores. I noticed that they had a lot of scraps lying around. I mentioned that I would be happy to pickup their scraps instead of them throwing them out. Now, about twice a year they call and ask me to come and get the scraps. The scraps are large enough for neck scarves and fleece hoodies. I use the cotton scraps to make crazy quilt tops. For two years I haven't spent a dime on Christmas gifts for family, friends and even their pets. Everyone knows to expect something handmade and a jar of jelly. This year we found a company in our area that sells 50 lb. bags of Epsom Salts. Now I pass out quart canning jars of Epsom Salt bath crystals with a few drops of scented oil added to them. After a recent fall, my step-daughter was excited to find her new aches and pains were gone by morning from using my scented Epsom Salts.

Gifts / Holidays
Wrapping With Bags

I save paper grocery bags and use them for wrapping packages to mail. I also use them for anything that needs to be wrapped in heavy paper and if you’re creative you can even add a colorful bow or raffia to make a present look great!

Gifts / Holidays
pair of Heeleys shoes Christmas On CraigsList

I am a stay-at-home mother of four (my oldest is 8). I stay pretty busy and don’t often have time to go store to store to shop for anything! I am very frugal — always trying to find the best deals. I recently discovered and have been thrilled with what I have found! Most of my Christmas purchases were made from items I found listed there. Here are two examples. I wanted to get my daughter some Duplo Legos. We have some, but the kids were always running out, so I wanted to add to the collection. In the stores, they run about $15 for 33 pieces! That is outrageous! I searched on CraigsList and ended up getting two HUGE garbage bags FULL of Duplos for just $25! The nice lady also threw in a pillowcase full of Lincoln Logs as well. What a steal! My son wanted Heelys for Christmas— which cost anywhere from $40 to $80. I wasn’t willing to spend this much. I found them on CraigsList brand new for $15! We have also purchased a barely used, large table and chairs for a fraction of the store price, an electric pasta machine, a robot, etc. So many people make frivolous purchases and end up not using (or barely using) the items they’ve bought. They end up selling them for much less! Now, when I need something, I search CraigsList to see if anything similar is available. Because I wait and search, it eliminates impulsive purchases. We have also introduced our 8 year-old son to Craigslist! He loves looking on it to see how much money he can save by buying things used! It has been a great teaching tool as well!

tissue paper and bows Pennies For Gifts

When I’m invited to a birthday party, I usually volunteer to help clean up the “after unwrapping the gifts” mess. The hostess usually wants to keep the gift bags, but I gather the tissue paper and ribbons. The colorful paper and ribbons can be ironed and reused. The bows can be re-used also. Doing this will give you a great selection of wrapping tissue and bows with no cost for gift wrap supplies. Most people welcome the clean up help and don’t care about the tissue and ribbons and bows! This also works at Christmas.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
Pennies For Gifts

Here’s an inexpensive idea for all those office Birthdays! I grow beautiful hydrangea bushes in my backyard. They multiply over time and you can start new bushes from clippings. I pick up beautiful vases for around 50 cents each at yard sales and run them through the dishwasher. They come out looking like new. Then I make bouquets from the hydrangea, put a ribbon on the vase and then give a beautiful gift for the girls in the office for only pennies!

Gifts / Holidays

I often reuse kids' birthday cards by cutting out the artwork from the front of the card (often a car, dragon, princess, etc). This artwork becomes a large, decorative name-tag for a child's birthday gift. Because I have four children this saves me money and time. I no longer shop for birthday cards every time one of our children is invited to a birthday party. I simply use the cut out artwork as a homemade gift tag / card.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
coasters with photos Back To The Beach

I recently went yard-saleing and found a set of those coasters that you put pictures in. I went through my Mom’s old black and white pictures and found photos of my brother when we were kids, playing at the beach. I copied the photos and put them in the coasters. I plan on giving the coasters to him for Christmas for use at his beach house. They make the cutest economical gift.

Gifts / Holidays
flowers growing from seed trays Seed Money

Beth (my wife) and I saved money in planting flowers. While neighbors were visiting the garden centers to buy 4 to 8 inch high perennials, we just replanted what we grew from our seeds. Of course we had to start about three weeks before our neighbors were planting their new plants. However, the gardens around our house looked every bit as nice. At first it was our own science experiment. We bought three packets of seeds, three different types of flowers. Used plant starter trays were available at the local garden center. All we had to do was add dirt, water, and create a warm enough environment for the seeds to germinate. Our closed in back porch served well as a warm room. The porch faces south and the sun shines in through the glass panes keeping the room warm during the day. For about three or four evenings we used a little space heater over night to keep the room at about 85 degrees. The seeds grew. It was exciting seeing 300 small plants growing from just $2.25 worth of seeds. When the plants were about three to four inches tall we planted them in two hot beds in our back yard. While freezing was possible, sheet plastic worked well to protect the plants. When our neighbor was planting her store purchased plants, we transplanted again, all around the yard. We had so many plants that we gave some to neighbors and friends. We had blue flowers along the west side of the house, yellow flowers in one hot bed, purple flowers in another hot bed, and blue and red flowers in pots on our porch. Then in fall, we harvested seeds and did it again the next year. This is our third year of doing this. We enjoy beautifying our yard while we save in the process. Annual savings about $75.

Housing & Home Repair
No Turn Compost

You can make your own compost without turning the pile. Collect garden debris and leaves in the fall and moisten the pile. The pile can be huge, as it will settle over the winter and lose up to two-thirds of its size. In the spring, rake the pile into a heap and then plant directly into it. You may need to place the plants or seeds into small pockets of the garden dirt.

Housing & Home Repair
Soak Your Water Bill

The cost of water can be quite expensive these days.

Utilities / Phone
Shake, Jiggle and Plant

At garden time I always let the last of my spinach and lettuce go to seed. I also give the dead plants a good shake before the snow falls. In the spring, I have volunteer plants coming up even before the garden is tilled. Then I transplant the spinach and leave the lettuce and parsley in their beds to mature. I’ve heard that some people even do this with potatoes and carrots.

sunflower reading newspaper I Shred To Mulch!

I always mulch around my garden plants to reduce the need for weeding. Unfortunately, I don't have a ready source of free mulch, such as grass clippings. But I do shred my receipts and bank statements. My Dad gave me the idea to use the shredded paper! Now I shred everything that comes in the mail that's on regular plain paper as well as all financial paperwork. I'm delighted to recycle right into my own garden. Also, if you put newspaper down before you mulch, you'll not have to mulch as often.

Housing & Home Repair
flower growing in coffee grounds Grounds For Frugality

I thought of you guys when I found out about this program. I've tried it and it's great! Nationwide, the folks at Starbucks are glad to give their used coffee grounds away. I call ahead - about four hours - and when I arrive they usually have a huge trash bag full of Espresso grounds ready for me. I take the grounds and work them into our vegetable beds, and around our roses and citrus trees-the worms love them too! For more details visit Starbucks web site (confirmed 11.3.09).

Housing & Home Repair
Two Gallon Worm Farm

Rather than buy a prebuilt worm farm, I took a couple discarded two gallon plant containers, lined them with scrap landscaping fabric, added some wet cardboard and topsoil, then my recently purchased earthworms. The containers fit nicely into a hole dug in the ground; I keep them covered with an old trash can lid to keep critters and sunlight away. I have steadily added kitchen scraps: coffee grounds, pulverized egg shells, vegetable peelings, etc. And the worms continue to thrive by converting the scraps into nutrient rich soil additives.

Housing & Home Repair
Land Of The Fruits And Nuts

My 82 year old grandmother recently shared this great idea . . .

Housing & Home Repair
pitcher of lemonade with lemon slices Lemons Aid Parties

We live in the citrus belt of the Southwest. Lemons are easy to come by. Many friends have citrus trees and can't use all their fruit, I accept whatever is offered. I make lemonade and serve it at parties. The fresh stuff tastes better and is much less expensive than soda.

Entertainment / Recreation
Scrap The Subscriptions

Local libraries are good for more than free videos.

Entertainment / Recreation
The Movie Bank

We live in a missionary compound in Papua New Guinea with several other families.

Entertainment / Recreation
name cards Business Cards For Dinner

I use old business cards for name cards when I am hosting large groups of people for dinner.

Entertainment / Recreation
Baseball, Fun Hot dogs, baseball, apple pie and frugality

We love to go the see the Oakland A’s play, but don't like to pay the high ballpark prices.

Entertainment / Recreation
Cake, Wedding, save Cut The Cake And The Cost

We attended a wedding of our pastor's daughter. As you can imagine the church was packed, between blood relatives, church family and friends.

Well,they got ready to cut the cake and it was the smallest two layer cake I had ever seen. They decided to save the top layer for their one-year anniversary, so Ron and I were thinking, ?However can this small second layer ever feed all of those people?? What we came to find out, was that in the church kitchen, they were cutting pieces of sheet cakes for the guests that were the same as the wedding cake. This must have saved the bride's parents, who paid for the wedding, a lot of money on the cake.

Entertainment / Recreation
plastic, knives, forks, spoons, reusable Reusable Plastic Is.......Entertaining

I like to "re-use" plastic ware for parties

Entertainment / Recreation
food, Cafeteria, Deal Great Food Operations

Here's a great way to get a tasty meal for just a few bucks.

Entertainment / Recreation
Readers digest, new yorker, dinner, laugh Laughter In The Dining Room

We collect a whole lot of jokes or other funny stories from The New Yorker or Reader's Digest.

We each take turns being the person to read them. They make us laugh, aid digestion and table conversation. It makes dinner a fun family time. A couple of favorite books I draw from are: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Poetry from Where The Sidewalk Ends.

Fun, Bowling, Universities Bowling for Less Dollars

I am a professor at the local University. My children and I have bowled every Friday night for the past 6 years (here and previously at Kansas State University).
We don’t travel to the local bowling alley, paying its high rates and bowling in a smoke filled environment. Instead we bowl here on campus where shoe rental is $1.00 and bowling is $1.00 a game (versus $2.50+ at the local alley), and smoking is not allowed. This last holiday season, the campus recreation organization allowed anyone to rent the entire facility for two hours for $50.00 (16 bowling lanes and 8 pool tables) with bowling and pool at no
additional cost (even bowling shoes were free). The kids invited all of their school friends. Over 40 children had a wonderful time (we had the children bring canned goods to be donated to the local food pantry as admission to the fun holiday event.)
I’m always amazed at how many people think that University bowling alleys are only for students — wrong! The reduced costs are made available by student recreation fees, but the facilities are there as a benefit to the local community.

Entertainment / Recreation
Movie, Library, DVD, Cinema Check it Out

Public libraries in my area now have extensive DVD and VHS collections that I raid on a regular basis.

Entertainment / Recreation
Dinner for Lunch

When we get a craving for Chinese take-out food, we plan it for a day I can pick it up while already out on errands. I go during the restaurant’s lunch hours. It costs about 2/3 the price of a dinner meal, AND the lunch specials usually include extras such as soup or egg rolls that the dinner meal does not. Thanks, I’ve been enjoying the newsletter each month.

Entertainment / Recreation
magazine subscriptions Renewal Control

I keep a running list of all subscriptions to magazines and newsletters with the expiration date. This way, when I receive a renewal notice I know just how many months I should have left. Some publications start sending renewal notices up to a year in advance.

Entertainment / Recreation
Swimmin' In A School

Contact your public schools to see if there are any family night/open swim nights at the school indoor pool. These nights are often sponsored by the local YMCA, and the cost is usually $1-2 for residents. We go with our toddler for $4 and have a nice family activity. This is a great change-of-pace in the wintertime!

Entertainment / Recreation
TV Free

I have been TV free for eight months now. You can't believe all the things I can accomplish since I turned off the tube. And then there is the quiet and stillness that I'm learning to love - I can actually hear myself think again. With each new season, it seemed to me that TV had just become too violent. I also notice that I'm more content with the things I have, now that I've filtered out all of those advertisers who constantly were barraging me to buy their stuff. It wasn't an easy choice, but I'm glad I did it and it's getting easier every day.

Entertainment / Recreation
stack of books Book Return Credit

I take books that I've read and don't want to keep to a used bookstore near my home.

Entertainment / Recreation
Thank You's - Very Easy

Here's a time-saver for bridal or baby showers that I learned from a friend recently.

Entertainment / Recreation
Pack It Up And Save

I'm terrible about eating at fast food restaurants.

Vacations / Travel
Nine Cent Tea Party

I used to go to the expensive coffee shop and order a mocha for about $3. Since economizing, I still go for "coffee" with my friend. But now I carry my own favorite tea bags (purchased in bulk for 9 cents each) in my purse. I ask for a cup of hot water and pop in my own tea bag - most restaurants are really nice about giving it to me for 10 cents or less. I also use this tactic when I am running errands or taking the kids here and there. It helps me avoid heading to the nearest place to buy coffee especially when I'm tired.

Entertainment / Recreation
Recycled cards and memories

What do you do with all the greeting cards you receive for birthdays, anniversaries, valentines, etc.? Most people display them for a while and then throw them in the trash. What a shame and what a waste of money. Well, we came up with a novel idea for recycling them. I created a system consisting of an inexpensive binder with a package of about 6 plastic pockets. I mark each pocket with a category: birthday, Father's Day, Mother's Day, anniversary. After a card sits out for a few weeks, we place the card in the appropriate pocket. We have one album for me and one for my husband. When those holidays or occasions come around again, we 'shop' in the album for our card. The most beautiful thing about it is that aside from adding our new sentiments in the card for the current occasion, we get to read the previous sentiments. It's so beautiful and meaningful. So instead of just discarding all those cherished words, we get to relive them over and over again.

Gifts / Holidays
turkey sitting in recliner Thanksgiving De-stressor

Here's something we did which de-stressed our Thanksgiving tremendously! I cooked the turkey the day before - exactly the same way I've roasted it in the past. After it was cooked, my husband took his time and carved the entire bird. I put the pieces in the fridge and the next day I put some water in the bottom of a roasting pan and covered it with foil and basically "steamed" the meat until it was warm enough to serve. It turned out GREAT! Everyone commented on how good the turkey was and it made my day so much easier knowing the turkey was already done and carved! All I had to do was get the side dishes ready!

Old radio Tune In And Win

I listen to the radio and have won numerous prizes by just calling in. Most radio stations give prizes such as; tickets to concerts, amusement parks, movies, vacation packages or airline tickets. Many stations limit your ability to win to once every 30 days. Three years ago I started trying to win prizes from my favorite station. Since then, I have been able to win tickets to Great Wolf Lodge Amusement Park, tickets to seven different concerts and tickets to the local dinner theater — a $125 value. I’ve also won numerous DVD’s, zoo tickets, and other things that make great birthday or anniversary gifts. Just for fun, I entered my daughter’s teacher in a contest for the best teacher in our area . . . she won second place and received a $100 gas card. If you’ve got the time to listen and dial the phone, you could win too!

Entertainment / Recreation, Gifts / Holidays
Fitness Center sign Save On Gym Memberships

Instead of expensive YMCA or private gym memberships check out the prices of joining the gym or pool at your local college or university. We found the pool and gym membership at a local college to be almost half of the Y. With the money we save we can easily afford the extra non-member fee we pay for our kids to play in the Y sports leagues, and we still come out money ahead.

Entertainment / Recreation
Dinner Out for Less discount dining cheapI had 2000 frequent flyer miles on United Airlines that I had forgotten about. I was able to redeem them for $100 in credit at Find out more at United Airlines Web Site. With you purchase gift certificates for a discounted price and then when you go out, you only spend like $10 for $25 worth of food. Also, they have a “diners club.” For $10 per month you get a $25 coupon and an additional gift certificate each month. Memberships are 3, 6 or 12 months in length. Also, regularly sends out “discount” codes for I’ve received codes for as much as 80% off, and the gift certificates from are good for a full year. Last Christmas that’s what everyone got and it only cost me something like $8 for the whole family. This is the ONLY way we go out!

Entertainment / Recreation, Vacations / Travel
Glue Sticks

Don't throw away the old foam paint brushes. Remove the foam. Underneath is a flexible plastic strip firmly attached to the handle. I find its great for spreading glue on craft projects.

Crafts / Decor
Room Décor in a Bag

You know how you can get really good deals on those "bed in a bag sets sometimes? They usually contain the comforter, 2 shams, flat and fitted sheet, dust ruffle and 2 pillow cases. I bought one recently and the sheets in these sets are not usually a real high thread count plus I don't care if my sheets match the comforter and shams anyway because you are not going to see them when the bed is made up. My nightstand is one of those round tables, you know the inexpensive kind that you cover with a round table cloth? Well I took the sheets that came with my comforter set and cut out a round table cloth and made valances for my 2 bedroom windows and they matched my new comforter set completely!

Crafts / Decor
needle, emery board, file, sewing Get the Point... Again

I thought I was the only one who pinched pennies the way you all do. I'm always looking for new ways to save. I love to sew and also do alterations for myself and for a living. One way I save money and time sewing is, when a needle gets a blunt end rather than throwing it away, I repair it. I just rub the tip lightly on an emery board or file until it is pointy again. You can do it three or four times before replacing the needle.

Crafts / Decor
granny squares, scrap yarn, crochet, baby blankets Scraps for Wraps

I love to crochet as a hobby. It can be done anywhere, I even take it with me when we go camping. When I have saved enough scrap yarn, I make up "Granny Squares" and connect them together to make Afghans, baby blankets, pot holders and a variety of other things, even sweaters. I use most of these for Christmas or birthday gifts. Using scraps makes them almost free.

Crafts / Decor
Flower Tin, jar, bottles, silk flowers, memorial flowers Flowery Memorials

I save cans, bottles and jars to use as containers for silk flowers. I cover them with foil or colored paper and add flowers. If I need to weigh them down I use rocks or gravel in the bottom. This is especially helpful when I place my flower arrangements on grave sites. The added weight keeps them from being blown away by wind gusts.

Crafts / Decor
file cabinet photos on free magnets Photos with Magnetism

Instead of throwing away the small rectangular magnets that come attached to pizza boxes or in the mail advertising a new business, I cut them into small pieces and use scotch tape to attach them to the back corners of my favorite photos. This avoids taping the photo to a surface and potentially tearing the photo when you need to remove it or ruining both your photo and your wall with thumb tacks. It also saves some money not having to buy frames, allows the photos to be moved around more freely, and allows you to display your best pictures whenever, instead of tucking them away in an album. My desk at work came with an ugly metal hutch and adding my family photos to it this way, has made my office space much more appealing. This idea can also be applied to the family fridge or any other metal surface.

Crafts / Decor
Calendar Cover-Up

A couple of years ago I bought myself a calendar on the markdown table in January. It was a very nice large, colorful calendar with pockets for each month. I used the pockets to store reminders of upcoming events, schedules and cards I had chosen for someone's special day. It was so useful! When the year was over, my calendar was still in good shape. I wanted to get a new one, but couldn't bring myself to pay $14.95! I thought about taking a "free" calendar from a local business and covering up the old monthly pages, but it didn't fit. I did find that a sheet of regular copy paper, turned "landscape," covered the old month's grid. So, going to my computer's home publishing program, I printed out pages for this year. I just glued the new pages over the old ones and had a new calendar-and kept the pockets that I found so useful! It was cheap and didn't take very long at all. My old pocket calendar is still in good shape after 2 years it may be getting another round of pages!

Crafts / Decor
Coverlet Cover-Up

I inherited a coverlet from my mom a few years ago — it was for a double bed and fit on the top of a Queen sized bed with just a few inches extra. Since it was lightweight and a double wedding ring pattern, I really wanted to use it, but it just didn’t look right. I came up with the idea of adding to the coverlet. I went to the mill outlet store near me and bought enough 12-inch wide eyelet material to go around the edges. I gathered it and added to the sides and bottom and it turned out beautifully. I always think of my Mom when I use it.

Crafts / Decor
Red Cross Stripes

I do a lot of volunteer knitting for the Red Cross. Whenever we receive small balls of yarn that cannot be made into a blanket or sweater, I use them to make colorful stripes in a blanket. I pick one color for the overall theme and then have many different color stripes, it always looks great.

Crafts / Decor
3 Stacked Shoe Boxes Shoe Box Crafts

You can use shoe boxes for almost anything!

Crafts / Decor
Clothes on the Line Savings Are Blowin' In The Wind

We use a clothes line to save money out here.

Clothes, Utilities / Phone
Stretching The Life Of Your Stretchy Clothes

I make my clothes last longer because of these simple ways!  I stretch my clothes budget by buying the highest quality clothes possible at the cheapest prices--end-of-season sales, designer resale shops, and department store clearance centers. To make clothes last longer, I separate whites from colored and dark laundry, and heavier items (such as towels and blue jeans) from lighter weight items, such as permanent press and delicates. Wash on the lowest temperature with the least amount of detergent, and dry on the lowest setting. Bras and things with spandex, like jogging bras and leggings, hang to dry to preserve their elasticity. Remove permanent press clothing and delicates before the dryer stops and hang them on hangers or fold them immediately so you don't have to iron them.

3 Pairs of Kids Shoes Shoes Shoes Shoes

I'm always needing shoes for my triplets!  I am a recent newbie to your website. I have been blessed with triplets. They are 3 1/2 years old and always in need of some type of clothing. Recently I just went through the “Mommy, my shoes are too small” syndrome. Since I like to have extra shoes for the kids so the same ones are not worn every day (yes, they tend to have very sweaty and somewhat stinky feet!) I buy one new pair — almost always on sale — and the rest I find in 2nd hand stores or see if the cousins are ready to hand some down. The other day I found four pairs of shoes for less than $19. Most of the 2nd hand shoes are in pretty good shape since kids at this age tend to outgrow the shoes before wearing them out. If I find a pair that are a bit dirty but in good repair, I hit them with a dose of Lysol and then throw them in the wash machine.

Lint Brush Hair Brush Brush Up On Lint

I made my own lint brush and it works great!

Blazer Obscene Clothing?

At age 44, I finally got serious about shedding my excess weight.

I went from a women's size 28 to a size 14. At first this was exhilarating. I would rush to the mall to shop for my new size and consequently run up a charge bill. As the weight continued to come off, the thrill of growing a larger charge bill went away. Since I had to get clothes that fit, I finally learned to shed my excess pride too. I learned about thrift stores and I haven't looked back. I am still amazed at the brand new designer clothing I find at thrift stores.

My latest find was a blazer that I picked up for $6. I took that blazer to the "one price" drycleaner and had it cleaned for $3.39. When I picked it up from the cleaners, I realized I had purchased a $150 blazer for less than $10. I find that the thought of going out and buying new clothes from the mall is now obscene to me.

Clothes Cost Less

I save money on clothes by sewing my own. I can buy material at Walmart for one-dollar per yard or pick it up at yard sales for even less. Then I find a pattern I like that is "universal" and easy to sew. I am not a normal size, so I would have to pay much more in the stores for clothing and don't usually find things in my size at thrift stores either. So this idea really does save me a lot of money. I use the left-over fabric scraps to make Barbie clothes, which I give to my nieces for their birthdays and tote bags that I use or give as gifts to others.

I can buy material at Walmart for one-dollar per yard or pick it up at yard sales for even less. Then I find a pattern I like that is "universal" and easy to sew. I am not a normal size, so I would have to pay much more in the stores for clothing and don't usually find things in my size at thrift stores either. So this idea really does save me a lot of money. I use the left-over fabric scraps to make Barbie clothes, which I give to my nieces for their birthdays and tote bags that I use or give as gifts to others.

Crafts / Decor, Gifts / Holidays
Hanger with Rubber Bands Slippery Clothes

Keep slippery clothes on the hanger.

Cash In On Garage Sale Finds

I like to garage sale -- I often buy clothes for my children, Christmas gifts, etc. this way. Last year, I found a way to make garage-saleing even more profitable. I can buy children's and infant clothes and toys (only in excellent condition) often for about a quarter. Then I resell them at a local semi-annual children's consignment sale. At this sale, clothes sell for 1/3 to 1/2 of retail price -- so I can easily get $5 or more for a pair of children's jeans purchased for a quarter. I get to keep 65% of the sale price, and the remainder is donated to charity. I'm making money and contributing to charity!

black and white tee shirts Clothing Choices Are Black And White

Laundering tips to preserve "like new" clothing.

Clothing Deals For All Ages

I started shopping at second hand stores.

Cute PJ's / Cheap PJ's

I get lots of children's clothes right after major holidays.  Last year after Halloween I found 100% cotton pants and tops for 50 cents each! These work great for pajamas for the kids. I ended up spending 3 dollars instead of 30 dollars and got three sets of PJ's - and I must say, they look really cute.

Clothing Fever

Last year I changed careers and needed to change my fairly casual wardrobe to business attire.  I now wear suits or blazers with dress slacks or skirts and dress heels everyday. I scoured Goodwill and Value Village (Savers) for clothes and now have a complete wardrobe. When I show up at work with a new, high-quality designer outfit, my co-workers gush with compliments. Often I say, "Thanks!" I bought it a Goodwill!" After hearing my response a few times they have finally stopped being shocked and are now curious. One of my co-workers has started talking about getting her clothes at Value Village. She recently shopped there on one of their 50 percent-off days and found several lovely blazers and suits. Every time she wears one of these new outfits, she proudly tells me how much she paid for it. The idea is catching on! I know some people think I'm weird because I'm proud of how much money I don't spend. But it is really worth it when someone else catches the fever! Good quality dress shoes are expensive. I have problem feet and need extremely comfortable shoes for work but I must also follow a strict dress code. Finding good shoes at a thrift store is almost impossible for me, but I've discovered Nordstrom's Rack (clearance center). I've found great comfortable designer shoes at extraordinary prices. Now my clothes and shoes last much longer than lower quality items purchased at local discount stores.


Deals "Near The Mall"

Growing up, my mother would buy my brother and me clothes and accessories. When we asked her what store they came from or where she bought them, she would say, "Near the mall." As we got older, we realized this was her code for a garage sale or a thrift store. But by then, we didn't care what store things came from, we played along with her secret. She was smart to hide it from us when we were younger. I think we would have been too embarrassed to wear the things if we had known.

Fast-forward 15 years. Last year at Christmas, my mom gave my brother two Brooks Brothers shirts from the outlet store. He asked if these were from "Near the mall". My mom didn't get the joke, but I laughed for more than one reason. It turns out several presents I was giving that year were from "Near the mall". I guess it goes to show that we are our parents' children.

Clothes, Gifts / Holidays, Kids
hang clothes on hanger to minimize wrinkling Fewer Crinkles and Sags

If you have clothes with crinkly fabric, don't just hang them up like other clothes.

Pep-Up Clothes With Vinegar

Often times, dark clothing, especially items made of cotton, appear to be faded and dull.

Simplify Purses

Buy one top-quality, all-purpose purse and use it until it wears out.

Big 5 sporting goods, gym shoes, sneakers, save, cheap A Real Shoe In

I took my daughter to Big 5 Sporting Goods ( to look at tennis shoes. The shoes on the table were marked $20 each. Then the manager told me that their special sale that week was buy the first pair for $20 and get the second pair for $10. We searched through a large number of shoe boxes. Many of them were marked with a retail price of $50 or more depending on the brands. We found a pair of Vision Street Wear and LA Gear shoes. We purchased two pairs for $31.45 (tax included). They have great sales all year long. They just moved into our neighborhood earlier this year.

Cold Sweaters

Sometimes you do frugal things for so long you forget how good they are. For years I've been chilling my woolen and cashmere clothes before storing them for the summer. I do this to eliminate moth eggs and larvae. I put the clothing in a plastic bag and then stick it in the freezer for 24 hours. Then I take it out and transfer the clothes to an airtight plastic storage bag. The clothes will stay moth free and be wearable next winter.

Use Used Cars Again and Again

There are two principles that we've always lived by regarding cars.

First, never by a new car - there are always great deals on used cars around, you just have to look. Second, make them last forever by taking care of them and drive them until they fall apart.

New Life for Wiper Blades

Here's a tip for drivers in the rain. When I worked at Blue Star Auto Stores in high school, I could buy replacement wiper blades for a dime all the way up to 25 cents.

Car Payments No More!

After reading your "Cars are Expensive" article – Nov/Dec 03 – we decided to get rid of our mini-van and the payments that came with it each month.

We sold the van and used the cash we received to purchase a gently used Honda Accord. For the first time in our married life we have no car payment! It feels great!
Laura Rognstad – Phoenix, AZ

Buy Small Cars - save money Pay cash for cars Less Car — More Funds and More Fun!

I appreciated your article, "Cars Are Expensive (Duh!)" (subscribers only) it is especially useful.

Socialites Auto Insurance Discounts

Car Insurance Discounts are not only given to good drivers but people who are social. Some insurance companies give discounts if you are a member of a certain organization, social club or have a certain credit card. Don’t be afraid to ask, if they don’t ask you. It could just save you a bunch of money.

Pickups Aren 't for Kids

Between work, errands and family activities I drive about 20,000 per year. Normally, I keep my vehicles a long time. My first truck was brand new when I purchased at the age of 16 (yes, I paid for it all myself). I kept it 10 years and in 1999 purchased a new extended cab pickup. However, I didn't factor in the children aspect - I'm married now and we just had a baby. When we travel or run errands, we have to pack up our young son with a car seat and stroller and my 6' 5'' husband into the truck. The truck is now so inconvenient that we simply don't drive over 20 miles anywhere as a family. If we go out, we have to move the stroller from the back of the truck to the cab - we don't want it to get stolen while we're in a restaurant or store, etc. It's really difficult to get our son out of his car seat even with the extended cab. It is a pain! My suggestion to others is this - think ahead more than 2 years, especially if you are the type to buy and keep a vehicle for a while. You may end up buying something a bit larger than what you need now, but you have to ask yourself - "What will my situation be in a few years and will this work for me then?"


Three Gas Savers

1) Try checking mileage with and without cruise control.

I have found that driving on a long trip in moderately hilly country without cruise control is better for fuel mileage. Allow the car to slow a little going up hills rather than insisting on maintaining a set speed as a cruise control will do.

2) Buy a new car with a standard transmission to save about $900. As a bonus, the acceleration and fuel mileage will be better. Shifting gears in the city is not difficult.

3) Slow earlier for anticipated stops. Red lights can often be anticipated on a known route. This not only saves fuel but brake linings too.

Light On / Lights Off

When winter sets in, leaving the headlights on becomes such a problem in an old car that won't turn them off automatically.

Savings By Degree

I was reading the tips on your web site and saw the one about car insurance and social clubs.

When we switched to Mercury Insurance we discovered that if you hold a degree in any science or engineering, you received a special discount. I have heard about discounts for teachers or rotary club, etc., but not based on a certain college degree. Had I not been bored and read every single page that came with our welcome packet, I would never have known to ask for that discount. Who knew my husband's Chemistry degree would save us an additional $500 a year!

Make Sludge — Budge

I have a 99 Toyota Sienna whose engine is prone to oil sludge.

There is a class action lawsuit on these engines that span from 1997-2002 and includes the Lexus brand as well - more info can be found here: I took the car to the dealer and they refused to repair/replace the engine. I am currently fighting the dealer's decision but, in the meantime, I need to maintain my engine as I plan on driving it until it dies. So, I have used a product called Auto-Rx which essentially loosens the sludge which then moves through the engine and into the oil filter. I have no affiliation with this product but just want others to know they can save their engine, avoid costly repairs and keep their car running well, longer. I have been using this product since 2003 when I first learned of the sludge issue. I have my engine oil analyzed through a lab periodically and as soon as sludge starts to develop, I do an Auto-Rx treatment. My understanding is Auto-Rx dissolves the sludge so it can be trapped by the oil filter. More info .

Wipe Up and Save

I make homemade baby wipes. I started doing this with our oldest son because of allergies, but continued with our younger one because of the cost savings and convenience.


- One half paper towel roll,cut cross wise
- 1 1/2-2 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons soap (I use Grannies soft soap)
- One large plastic container with lid


Pour water into container and stir in soap, then put paper towel roll into container and put on lid. I let it soak overnight, then by morning, I have wipes ready to go. --Just take out the inner tube from the paper towel roll and pull the wipes from the center. Note: the amount of water depends on how thick the paper towel roll is, I find the Bounty Big roll works the best.


Health & Beauty
Mom's Membership Makes Memories

One of the best deals I've found is membership in my local mothers' club. Dues are $30 per year. For this fee a world of opportunities are available for me and my family: Monthly meetings with informative speakers; inexpensive group outings, free baby sitting through the club's babysitting co-op, membership in a movie-moms group - we get reduced price tickets and go together- opportunities for community service and leadership. Last summer we took advantage of a two-night camp-out at a regional park with 15 other families from the club. We paid 15 dollars per family which included two meals, arts and crafts and other activities. Through the mothers' club, I joined a play group when my oldest son was 7 months old. Some of my closet friends are the moms in this play group - we've watched each other's kids for six years! This club is priceless!


Entertainment / Recreation, Vacations / Travel
Save Gas — Leave and Be

Here’s my best way to save gas — Leave early and Be organized. I gather the things I need for the next day and put them by my purse. I also leave early for any appointment or trip and thus I am less likely to speed which saves me gas and a possible $200 speeding ticket. This money saving tip costs you nothing but a little bit of time.


Friends for a Song

Before signing up for an expensive Mommy/Child play group, or Gymboree class, call around to different public libraries & investigate their story-times for kids.

Wash Cloths — Bottoms Up

Instead of making my own disposable baby-wipes, I just wash my babies bottoms with a wash cloth. A wet wash cloth seems to do even better than a diaper wipe, and can be tossed in the next load of laundry or into the cloth-diaper pail. The cost of wash cloths can be minimized by purchasing an old beach-towel at a thrift store, cutting it up and zig-zagging the edges.

I'm Going Cloth

Cloth diapering has come a long way, and will save parents a whole lot of money. Here is a web site that I’ve found to be very helpful: But basically you need to know this: If you buy the cheapest cloth diapers and covers, you’ll spend about $270 and have supplies for ALL of your children. Of course cloth diapers do wear out after a few thousand washes, so if you have 10 kids, you might need to buy more. Laundry on cloth diapers is very inexpensive as well. In three and one-half years of using disposable diapers on my son, I estimate that we spent at least $2500 for diapers and wipes. For my next child, we’re going with cloth.

Gerber Baby Food Containers Re-Purposed Baby Food Jars

I’ve discovered many uses for the new plastic baby food containers with resealable lids — I never throw them away!

1. Great for holding ranch dressing in my husband’s lunch. Makes veggies more appealing for my picky non-vegetable eating husband.
2. I keep some in my sewing box to hold pins, buttons, and other small things.
3. Good for freezing small amounts of wine for sauces or other purees for cooking. They aren’t great for long term freezing, so I place the containers in a freezer bag.
4. They’re great for making larger ice cubes or frozen fruit juice for my 2 year-old.
5. Fantastic for holding hair ties.
6. Great for Cheerios in the diaper bag and trail mix for me (holds perfect amount for snack size, and prevents over indulging).
7. Of course good for toddler portioned left overs.
8. Poke holes in the lid, add a little grass and they keep a lady-bug or a roly-poly bug happy for a little bit (until mom releases them into the wild when her 2 year-old moves on to something else).
9. Fantastic for saving seeds in for replanting (with wet paper towel).

When I first discovered them I had no idea how many uses I would find. I now make my own baby food, so to re-use the containers makes me feel better when I do have to buy them. They’re also made of recyclable material so when they have seen their last days in our home, they will be used to make something else!

Gas for Less

I just read your gas savings page on-line and wanted to tell you how we save on gas. I drive a diesel, but my wife's car is gas. We both purchase our fuel at a gas bar that is owned by a grocery chain. We get 3.5 cents off a liter of our fuel which is given to us in the form of a coupon that we use to purchase groceries. Presently our gas is selling at the equivalent of $4.16 a gallon ($1.04.9 a liter), so any amount of discount we can get is welcome.