Monday, May 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Due to our busy and fun weekend, I didn't get a chance to really plan our meals for this week. Here is what I've come up with.

Sunday: Leftovers from the FOUR different restaurants we ate at this weekend! (We had a friend in town)
Monday: Memorial Day cookout at friends house
Tuesday: MorningStar veggie burgers, black bean hummus & pita chips, corn on the cob
Wednesday: White chicken lasagna & salad
Thursday: Not sure yet!!
Friday: ?homemade pizza

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 53

Tip # 53 Never pay for boxes when you move

Aside from purchasing 4-5 super sturdy boxes for heavy valuables like your tv and computer, it is so easy to get free boxes if you're planning a move. Most businesses break them down and throw them away (or hopefully recycle them). All you have to do is call around, explain you are moving, and ask if you can swing by early in the morning or in the evening to pick up some boxes. I'm lucky enough to work in a hospital where thousands of boxes get broken down daily. Grocery stores, office supply stores, and liquor stores are other good places to get boxes from.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 52

Tip # 52 Recycle old clothes/blankets/sheets/etc

Think twice before you throw away that old ratty t-shirt or donate that old blanket to Goodwill. Believe me, I'm all about trying to decrease clutter and get rid of things you don't need, but there are several ways to reuse some of these items. Old t-shirts make great rags for cleaning up spills or washing the car. Old blankets make good padding when you need to move furniture and keep either your car or your furniture from getting scratched up.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Publix Trip

I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out to Publix this weekend or not, we have a friend visiting from out of town. I managed to sneak out on Saturday before the Flyers game while the guys hung out and watched some lacrosse on tv. I'm glad I did because I had a ton of coupons and knew I was going to score some great deals.
Total Spent: $21.37 ($17.77 before tax - the sunscreen alone would normally cost that much!)
Total Saved: $55.63
4 Bottles of Kraft ranch dressing
4 Country Crock spread (this freezes really well)
2 Breakstone sour cream
1 4-pack Bic Soleil razors
1 4-pack Bic Comfort 3 razors
2 boxes MorningStar veggie burgers
2 bottles of Coppertone sunscreen
1 Helluva Good dip
1 ear of corn (I needed something else to make my number of items equal to my number of coupons)
1 Kraft Cheese Singles
1 loaf of Publix Italian bread
1 Q-tips 375 ct.

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 51

Tip # 51 Don't go for every deal

Now that you are being frugal, you have probably come across hundreds (or more) of deals, sales, discounts, etc. It's great that you are in tune with this, but it is so important that you continue to analyze every purchase and don't get sucked into "buying" something just because it's free, but, oh wait, you have to pay $10 shipping and handling.

The same is true with coupons. A lot of stores will have coupons for $10 off a $30 purchase or free item with a $15 purchase. Only use these coupons if you were already intending to buy items from that particular retailer. Don't spend the money just because you have a coupon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 50

Tip # 50 Sign up for free samples

One of the benefits to following frugal bloggers via a feed is that they are always the first ones to let you know about free samples available. Free samples are a good way to trial a new product or stock up on travel size products. Many of them come with high value coupons as well. To decrease an accumulation of clutter in your house, only sign up for the free samples you will actually use. I probably only sign up for 1/4 of the samples that I see advertised on various blogs.

If you don't subscribe to any blogs, don't worry, there are several websites that you can check every so often for free samples. Here are a couple that I have used in the past:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 49

Tip # 49 Follow frugal bloggers via RSS feed or email

This is a great way to get motivated to be more frugal and to find out about new deals as they become available. I have listed a few of the ones that I follow on the right hand side of this blog. I personally use google reader to stay caught up on various blogs, but there are other feeds available as well and a lot of frugal bloggers allow you to subscribe via email.

You can start by subscribing to Frugal Made Fun by clicking on "Posts" under the "Subscribe to" section on the right side of this blog.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mailbox Day!

I have accumulated a few more free items that came in the mail the past couple of weeks! I love mailbox freebies!

  • Pantene Curls travel size shampoo & conditioner
  • Suave travel size shampoo
  • John Frieda shampoo & conditioner sample
  • Taste of Home magazine (I don't think this was free, but I think I paid $2.50 for a 1 year subscription)
  • Scott coupons
  • Uncle Ben's rice coupons (including 1 coupon for a FREE bag of rice!)
  • Kotex U samples
  • 2 Betty Crocker coupon books
  • Dunkin Donuts coffee sample
  • Renu contact solution (travel size)
  • $4/1 Renu coupon (this should make for some very cheap contact solution when paired with a BOGO sale at Publix)
  • Cascade dishwasher sample

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 48

Tip # 48 Don't spend money on things you don't need!

This sounds so obvious, but the world has done a good job convincing us we need things that we really don't. Looking at kitchen items alone there are tons of gadgets that it is easy to fall into the trap of buying. Chances are you already have a knife/pot/bowl, etc that you can use just might take a little more of your time.

One example I can think of off the top of my head is a KitchenAid Mixer. I want one so bad!! But my 6 year old, $5 hand mixer works just perfect for what I need it for. Maybe someday I'll invest in a heavy duty mixer, but for now, I'll get along just fine with my little one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 47

Tip # 47 Trial a hobby before going full force ahead

There are a lot of hobbies that are great, but also can be really expensive. Make sure you do your research and talk to different people before you decide you want to go "all in" for your new project. Maybe just buy a pair of knitting needles and ONE spool of yarn or talk to some friends who homebrew before going out and buying all of the necessary supplies.

Or maybe just really consider the time commitment before starting something up (say, a frugal blog!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what we have on tap for this week:

Sunday: Beer Can Chicken, corn on the cob, salad (We didn't have beer can chicken two weeks ago because I forgot to thaw the chicken!)
Monday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
Tuesday: Broccoli Casserole (with chicken)
Wednesday: Southwest rollups (we have a TON of these from freezer cooking day last month)
Thursday: Tom's Surprise 30th Birthday Dinner (those of you who know him probably have an idea of what some of the ingredients are going to be). I'll post the recipes next week on the off-chance that he might read this blog sometime this week ;)
Friday: Jim 'N Nick's!!! (One of our good friends from PA is coming to visit so of course we have to hit up our favorite Southern BBQ restaurant!)
Saturday: Snacks, hors devours, high gravity beer (we're having a High Gravity sampling party since Mike is in town....and maybe to celebrate Tom's birthday!)

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 46

Tip # 46 Kick that bad habit

Whatever it is, chances are it's eating away at your budget. Alcohol and cigarettes are the two most expensive bad habits that come to mind, but for all of you candy addicts and Diet Coke drinkers, that can add up too! If you can't completely kick your habit, try to significantly limit it. Your wallet (and probably your heart and or lungs) will thank you!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 45

Tip # 45 Turn off those lights!!

Hopefully they are at least energy efficient lightbulbs. We always turn the lights off when we leave for the day, but it was kind of scary when I made a conscious effort to pay attention to how many lights were on when no one was in a particular room. While you're at it, turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth and unplug those appliances that are rarely used!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Publix Trip

I really wasn't even planning on going to Publix this week, but I'm kind of obsessed with it and there were a few things on sale that I had coupons for so I figured I might as well stock up.

Total Spent: $33.51
Total Saved: $36.19
(This is pretty good considering we bought a 12 pack of beer that wasn't on sale and a small package of Krab that wasn't on sale either!)

Here is what I bought:
4 ears of corn
1 Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamer
3 packages Croutons
1 bagged salad
1 12-pack Yuengling
1 package Krab
2 boxes Brownie Mix
1 package Seattle's Best coffee
2 containers of Lysol wipes
2 Right Guard Total Defense deodorants
1 Herbal Essence shampoo
2 bottles Ken's salad dressing

P.S. I've been trying to snag the free Nivea body wash and free Schick razor and shave gel, but my Publix has been out of them every time!! Bummer!

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 44

Tip # 44 Make your own seasonings

It's so easy to make your own Taco Seasoning or Italian Seasoning, and there are tons of recipes available on or recipezaar. You can also find recipes for salad dressings or marinades and you might be surprised how easy (and tasty) it is to make these things for yourself!

Friday, May 21, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 43

Tip # 43 Use tupperware instead of ziploc bags

Use small tupperware containers instead of ziploc bags for things like croutons, chips, cookies, crackers, candy, cereal, or other small treats. I've not officially done the math on the cost of buying the initial tupperware and then washing it as opposed to buying the ziploc bags, but at least you're creating less waste this way!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 42

Tip # 42 Shop at the right time of the year

Believe it or not, there are certain times of the year that are better to buy almost everything! Check out this article at MSN Money. Not only will you get a better deal, but this allows you to save up enough cash for whatever it is you need to buy! Here is another article that breaks it up by month and by "food" and "non-food" items.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 41

Tip # 41 Combine the last 5 tips when making big purchases online!

Whenever you need to pay a lot of money for something online (plane tickets, vacations, or you finally saved up enough money to buy that new computer), follow these simple steps.
  1. First go through a cashback site (Even 1% cashback on $1000 is $10 for free!)
  2. Search for any additional discounts (A lot of times you can get something like $50 off a purchase over $500 or 15% off your total purchase, etc)
  3. Make the purchase using a credit card that offers a percentage cashback or certain amount of points per dollar spent.

But remember, you are only doing this sequence of events if you have first budgeted and saved up the cash and done your research. This way you can pay your card off in full as soon as the bill comes in.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 40

Tip # 40 Do your research!

Before making any big purchases (or even "minor" purchases for that matter), do your research! It should only take you 15-20 minutes online to do a few searches and read some reviews. You can find reviews for just about anything online, from irons to trash cans to vacation destinations and hotels. Some common sites I uses are Amazon, Expedia, & TripAdvisor. Even Target & Walmart offer "comments" sections so you can see additional feedback before buying it.

If you have a little more time, go ahead and comparison shop at a few different stores (Lowes vs. Home Depot for home improvement, Best Buy vs. HH Gregg for electronics, Walmart vs. Target, etc, etc). Some stores even beat competitor pricing so be sure to ask about that too!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Here's our plan for the week:

Sunday: Lasagna, salad, garlic bread
Monday: Same (there was so much leftover!)
Tuesday: Birdseye Voila meal, corn on the cob
Wednesday: Broccoli casserole
Thursday: Zatarain's cheesy jumbalaya with shrimp & sausage
Friday: Crab cakes, rice, veggies
Saturday: Dinner out

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday over at Org Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 39

Tip # 39 Budget for EVERYTHING!

Everybody should have a budget. Yeah, I said it. It's really not that hard to do, and it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be! You can use a spreadsheet with formulas or you can write it on a piece of paper in a notebook. Here is an easy way to get started:
  1. Write down your take home pay for the month.
  2. Then write down all of your monthly expenses (rent/mortgage, heat/gas, water, phone, cable, internet, cell phones, gas, car payment, gym membership, daycare, etc, etc , etc)
  3. Substract that amount from your monthly income. (If this puts you in the negative, sign up for Financial Peace University right now! Go do it!)
  4. What you are left with you then divide up between groceries, household supplies, pet care, various savings, emergency fund, etc, etc.
  5. Every dollar should be budgeted for, but don't be afraid to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room, you know, in case you live in Alabama in the summer and your electric bill DOUBLES!

Once you have your general household budget in place, it is important to think ahead and "budget" for upcoming expenses (special events, travel, car maintenance, Christmas, day care, etc, etc, etc).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 38

Tip # 38 Take advantage of your credit card reward programs....

....BUT ONLY IF YOU DON'T CARRY A BALANCE AND PAY IN FULL EVERY MONTH! And whatever you do, do not sign up for a credit card just because of it's reward program. But if you already have a credit card that you use regularly (and pay off every month), by all means, look into their rewards program! If you're going to be using the card for everyday purchases anyways, you might as well get a little something extra from it!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Publix Trip

I ran into Publix to pick up a few things before we went to the beach the other day. I'm glad I did, I didn't realize we were almost out of coffee!

Spent: $30.69
Saved: $77.63
8 bags Eight O'Clock coffee (our fav)
2 bags Gorton's Grilled shrimp
4 boxes Phillips crabcakes
1 box Cinnamon Toast Crunch
2 bags Birdseye Voila Dinners

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 37

Tip # 37 Do a search for online coupon codes

After you click through your cashback site, do a quick search for any coupon codes online. Retailmenot is probably my favorite site to look for any additional discounts. Or you could always just use google and see if anything turns up.

Friday, May 14, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 36

Tip # 36 Shop through a cashback site when shopping online

I have to admit, I really don't like shopping online because I hate paying for shipping & handling. But there are times when even the most savvy shopper needs to buy something online (and sometimes even with the S&H, you can get a better deal online).

So if you have to buy through the web, at least go through a cashback site. All you do is create an account, click on the website you want to go to (through the cashback site), and when you accumulate a certain amount of cashback, you'll receive a check in the mail. Simple as that!

Below is a list of sites I use the most. I've received a check already from ebates and I've received cashback through Discover and Upromise. Every little bit counts, and it especially adds up with bigger purchases (think plane tickets and hotel rooms).


Thursday, May 13, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 35

Tip # 35 Avoid unnecessary fees

Overdraft fees and late payments are two things that make me want to hit my head against the wall when they happen to me! Fortunately, it's only happened once or twice and luckily I was able to either go into the bank or call the credit card company to ask them to waive the fee as a "one time forgiveness."

To avoid overdraft fees, make sure you give yourself a little cushion in your checking account. I know some people who keep thousands in their account and some people who let it dwindle down to pennies in between paychecks. While it's beneficial to keep most of your money in an interest-bearing savings account, you don't want to end up worrying that you're going to overdraw from your checking account every month. Whether you decide on a $100 cushion or a $1000 cushion, just remember that something is better than nothing!

As for the credit cards? Hopefully you are paying them in full, but regardless just try to get in the habit of paying them as soon as you get them in the mail (or your inbox).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 34

Tip # 34 Look into benefits and discounts at work

Some companies are better than others at making sure their employees are aware of all of the benefits they offer. Aside from the obvious health insurance, vacation, retirement, etc, there are often many other discounts that are available through your work. All you have to do is ask your HR representative.

Here are a few of the benefits I am able to take advantage of through my employer:

  • $10 off a Sam's Club membership
  • 22% discount on Verizon Wireless
  • Financial Finesse (Basically free meetings and advice from financial planners)
  • Commute Smart (You can earn $120 just for carpooling and logging your commutes. If you continue to participate and log a certain number of "clean air" commutes each quarter, you get an gift card for free gas!)
  • Virgin Health Miles (Depending on how active you are, you can earn up to $500 cash in one year!)

Other common employer benefits include discounts on gym memberships and public transportation.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 33

Tip # 33 Eat from the freezer/pantry!

About once every one-two months, consider an Eat from the Pantry/Freezer Challenge. Not only will you save money by not going to the grocery store, but you may find some food hidden in the back of your cupboards or bottom of your freezer that needs to be used up! This is a great way to re-evaluate what you have in your kitchen as well. Still have that box of instant cheese gritz sitting on the shelf? Then you may not need to buy 4 boxes the next time it is on sale just because you have a coupon!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Here is our plan for the week. Thankfully we're still eating mostly out of the freezer because my creativity is lacking in the cooking department lately.

Sunday: Pesto, pasta, chicken, & mozzarella casserole
Monday: Southwest Rollups (We didn't get to these last week...too many leftovers)
Tuesday: Italian crockpot chicken (literally just chicken and italian dressing in the crockpot all day. Easiest. Meal. Ever.) and rice and veggies
Wednesday: Broccoli Casserole
Thursday: Dinner out
Friday: Homemade pizza
Saturday: Beercan chicken, summer veggies or salad

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up with their menu plan...which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 32

Tip # 32 Reuse Ziploc Bags

Ok, before you say "Ewww" and stop reading this blog forever, just hear me out! I'm not talking about washing out your bags and hanging them inside out to dry. I'm talking about reusing a bag once or twice, and only if it had dry, easy to clean up ingredients inside of it (think croutons, cereal, crackers). The only other time I'll reuse ziploc bags is if I'm using them to contain something I already wrapped in the freezer to eliminate freezer burn.

Also, I haven't compared the cost officially, but I know that we bought a multi-pack of Ziploc bags from Sam's Club when we moved here and they lasted us almost 2 years!! Consider that before buying the box of 25 bags from Walmart or the grocery store.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 31

Tip # 31 Join your local library

Libraries are an often overlooked source for free entertainment. In addition to books, libraries have a lot of recent movies available. Remember this the next time you get ready to head out to Blockbuster for a movie night!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Publix & Walgreens Savings

We didn't really do a lot of grocery shopping this week (because we were at the beach!!! Wooooo!!) I did make a quick trip back to Publix and a trip to Walgreens earlier in the week. The Publix items are on the left and the Walgreens items are on the right.

Spent $7.89
Saved $18.21

1 jar Pace Salsa
1 bag Mahatma rice
1 McCormick Garlic Powder
1 box Jimmy Dean sausage
1 pkg Dentastix for Bailey
John Frieda Root Awakening shampoo
John Frieda Root Awakening conditioner

Spent: $1.71
Saved: $5.95
1 box envelopes
2 rolls of Scotch Tape
1 box Puffs Plus Lotion tissues

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip #30

Tip # 30 Never pay ATM fees!

This is one of those things that may not seem like a lot at the time, but it sure can add up over a lifetime! If you know you are going to need cash, just plan ahead and swing by your bank's ATM before heading out. OR, if you're lucky enough to have a bank that reimburses ATM fees (like us - I love that feature!) make sure you save those receipts!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 29

Tip # 29: Cut dryer sheets in half

Seriously. A half of a dryer sheet does the job just as well as a whole one. And you can usually score these for free or cheap with coupons!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 28

Tip # 28 Use Public Transportation

If you can't part with that second (or third) car, or if you can't give up your only car entirely, consider using public transportation. Unfortunately, everyone doesn't always live in an area where this is entirely possible. If you're lucky enough to live in a city with decent transportation, just look into the pricing, and you might be surprised. Plus there's the added bonus of avoiding road rage and being able to catch up on things or read while riding the train/bus.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 27

Tip # 27 Get rid of that extra car!

Ok, so I realize that this is something everyone cannot do, but if you're in the position where you have 2 cars (or more) and there is a possibility you could make it work, you should strongly consider the option! We only have 1 car more out of luck and necesity than to be frugal, but it has been so easy! We've been fortunate enough to work close together and have similar schedules so carpooling has not been a challenge at all, and it's actually been nice to spend that extra time together during the commute. We didn't even realize how much money we were saving until a few years later (think: one car payment, one insurance payment, maintenance for one car, gas for one car)!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 26

Tip # 26 Preserve your harvest

If you followed tip # 25 and decided to grow your own vegetables or herbs, make sure you use or preserve as much as you can!! Think drying herbs, freezing or canning veggies, or giving away to those friends and neighbors! There are tons of "How-to" websites so don't be intimidated if you've never preserved anything before!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Here's our plan for this week:

Sunday: Mom's Baked chicken, salad, pasta side
Monday: Chicken Tortilla Casserole (an early Cinco de Mayo celebration!)
Tuesday: Broccoli Quiche
Wednesday: Southwest roll-ups
Thursday: Sandwiches
Friday: Pizza Hut!! (My favorite!)
Saturday: Crablegs and ???

Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up with their menu plan...which means lots of new recipes and ideas!

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 25

Tip # 25 Grow your own herbs & veggies

This is something that anyone can do, even if you start with only one plant! I don't really have the greenest thumb (and I don't even think I have a "greenish" thumb, considering the past 3 years I have had to buy a new basil plant at the beginning of each summer). Even though I spent $3 on a new basil plant each year for the past few years, I still saved a ton of money not buying basil leaves from the grocery store.

If you don't have access to a large area to garden, you can ask your friends/neighbors/co-workers what they grow, and you could pick something different and then exchange herbs/veggies with them. When you grow your own herbs and vegetables, it's easy to have an overabundance when they start to grow!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip # 24

Tip # 24 Drive the speed limit

Here are some helpful tips to drive more efficiently, and in turn save a few extra dollars. I'm definitely guilty of driving (a little!) over the speed limit on the interstate. However, driving even 5 miles above the speed limit causes your car to use gas less efficiently. The same is true for accelerating to get around that slow person texting on their cell phone just to get to a red light. According to, each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas! That adds up!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grocery Savings

I managed to get a pic of my Publix trip AND my Aldi trip, so I'm including both in today's post.

Spent: $22.27
Saved: $35.34
1 bag Sun chips (free with coupon)
3 boxes Jimmy Dean Sausage
2 bags Salad
2 pkgs shredded cheese
2 pkgs block cheese
3 pkgs Carefree liners (these were all free)
1 pkg croutons
4 boxes Zatarain's Cheesy Jumbalaya
4 cans Hunt's Diced Tomatoes


Spent: $16.36
Saved: ? $8.14
(estimated based off of prices of items at regular grocery store)
2 dozen eggs
1 pkg lunch meat
1 pkg lunch cheese
1 pkg cream cheese
1 pkg block cheese
1 canteloupe
1 pineapple
1 bottle white wine

100 Frugal Tips in 100 Days: Tip #23

Tip # 23 Shop at discount Grocery stores

Don't be afraid of discount grocery stores like Aldi (I was at one point in time, when I was a teenager and my mom would stop there). But now we shop there every week. I mostly just buy the basics (milk, eggs, bread, and often times fruits and veggies, and actually their $2.99 wine isn't too shabby either!) Aldi is a great alternative to save money on basic stuff that doesn't always (or ever) go on sale at the grocery store. Just make sure you follow Tip # 22 and clean and eat your produce asap.