Archive for July, 2007

The Month of Savings

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Starting tomorrow, I am going to be doing thirty days of savings on our blog. Each day I am going to highlight one small way that you can save money and share the approximate savings with each entry. At the end of this month, I will have a final tally of savings, to show how saving money really is all about those little expenses. These entries will then be converted into an article, that you can refer back to.

For the truly zealous penny-pincher, the concepts might not be new, but I am hoping that it will inspire others by sharing all of the little things one can do to save some cash.

I hope you will join me for The Month of Savings!

Hospital Hospitality

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

I am sorry that I have not been posting as much this week. My grandfather had to undergo surgery, this past Thursday, and I have been back and forth to the hospital to be with him. He had an aneurysm that needed to be operated on, and has been suffering some setbacks from his surgery. He is currently in ICU and is needing lots of prayers, so please keep our family in your thoughts. I know he would really appreciate the good thoughts and prayers, as do the rest of our family.

I never know what to do in crisis situations except to cook. Since I knew everyone would be sitting in the waiting room for hours on end, I figured I could make some snacks for everyone while we were waiting. I made some of my granola bars, Rice Krispy treats (with whole grain Cheerios mixed in since I ran out of Rice Krispy cereal), and some of my trail mix.

I save my oatmeal containers since they make the perfect container to put snacks in. When I send treats to college students, I use these containers and decorate them. I really love to give gifts in the oatmeal containers. They make a great presentation for anything containing oatmeal like oatmeal cookies, granola bars or anything else that utilizes this ingredient.

There are a variety of ways to decorate oatmeal containers to pretty them up. Here are some examples of cute ways to decorate these:

– Take wallpaper or gift wrap and wrap the container.
– Crinkle a brown paper bag and cut out a circle to go around the top of the container. Use a wide ribbon to secure the paper bag on top.
– Take a hole punch and punch out two holes on the top of the lid. Loop ribbon through the top of the lid and tie a bow on top. You can also loop a gift tag through it and stamp or decorate the tag with well wishes.
– Get your child involved and have them help you decorate the container. Have them draw a picture on Kraft paper or on construction paper and have them write their name on it. This can make the gift even more special for grandparents.
– Have your child cut out pictures of their favorite things and make a collage on the outside of the container.

The containers themselves make a practical solution for transporting treats, since the snacks are less likely to get smashed, and you will have no worries about leaving the container (unlike your favorite Tupperware).

If you know of a family who will be at the hospital, this can be a thoughtful gift to bring along with you. As someone who has been spending a little more time than usual at the hospital, I can attest to the fact that the days are long and the food is bad, not to mention expensive. Save that family some money and provide some healthy snack alternatives. I guarantee they will appreciate the gesture. There might not be much you can do about the situation, but making it more bearable is appreciated by the family members.

Tuck in some snacks for the family, the newspaper, old magazines and a favorite book. These things can help make the days less long for families and they will really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Related Readings:

Chewy Granola Bar Recipe

Teaching My Kid to Say Thank You
How to Make Trail Mix
Sharing the Bounty

Sound Off: What are some other containers that you like to reuse in your house? Do you have any hospital hospitality tips to share?

New Article: Milking the Milk Budget

Monday, July 30th, 2007

As you all know, grocery savings is a huge topic on our site, so I was excited to talk this week about how to save some money in the milk category. With milk prices rising, my grocery dollars have been screaming for mercy. I did some research on ways that you can keep your costs down and still have tons of milk in your house to drink.

Adding the powdered milk was not a new addition in our house, but freezing our milk has been something new we have been trying. I hope you will have some time to read my article, “Milking the Milk Budget.”

For the locals, this will be our topic focus tomorrow (Tuesday) on Moms First on WSBT-TV morning news. I will be on sometime between 6:30-7:00 AM. I hope that you can catch it and I can share more about this topic with our local moms out there!

Related Readings:

Grocery Shopping Tips
Hillbilly Housewife’s Guide to Powdered Milk
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Orange Julius
Magic Milkshakes & Slushies
Iced Peppermint Mochas
Powdered Milk & Christmas Drink Mixes

Sound Off: How much is milk going for in your area? How much milk does your family go through each week?

Ebates Makes Shopping More Rewarding

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

I am a HUGE fan of Ebates and have received almost two hundred dollars back in checks for shopping and referrals. In fact, I just had to purchase some new appliances and I decided to order through Ebates to receive a 2% cash back bonus from Sears. Doing the in-store delivery gave me free shipping to our local store, so I didn’t even have to pay for shipping. Why not get a little reward for your purchases if you have to make them anyway? If you want to read all about my experience with the company you can read my entry here. I promise that I only promote companies on my blog that really work for me and I think this company is truly a winner.

Just when I think that Ebates can’t get any better, they have added a new Coupons On Demand feature. This is an excerpt from their website explaining all about this new feature:

We post thousands of offers on our Coupons and Specials page but there are bound to be a few that we miss. Can’t find the one you’re looking for? Request it here and we’ll do the work for you!

How it works:

1. Check the Coupons and Specials page to see if your coupon is available. We only provide coupons for Ebates’ merchant partners. To see if your store is on that list, visit our All Stores page.

2. Use this post on the blog. You can click on the “Coupons on Demand” link on the Blog Homepage to link back to this post.

3. Leave a comment here requesting a coupon. Free Shipping? Money Off? Free Gifts? You name it, we’ll try to find it. Important:

4. Wait for our response. Monday through Friday, we will reply via email within 24 hours if you provide your email address when you comment. Otherwise, check the comments section for our response! We can only post coupons approved to be used on Ebates.

If you do decide to sign up with Ebates, I would love if you used this link to sign up because I do receive a $5 bonus for each person who signs up. But better than that, you receive $5 too!

Don’t forget to sign into your Ebates account when doing your school shopping for uniforms, school supplies, and all of the other stuff those darn kids need to get started! I noticed that they have a Back-to-School section on their blog now, highlighting really great deals for the fall season.

Freebie Friday: July 27, 2007

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Friday Fun Question:
What is the best money-saving tip you could give or that was given to you?

Health & Beauty:

Sign up to receive a free sample of M perfume created by Mariah Carey.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Beautiful perfume from Estee Lauder. Click on the “Request a Sample” link.

Sign up for a free sample of the healing garden skin organics reNourishTM moisture lotion SPF 15, from the healing garden’s newest line.

Fill out the form to receive a free sample of Energizer Hearing Aid Batteries.


To receive the Sun-Maid New Taste Of Tradition Recipe Booklet, please complete the information.

Nestle Crunch is giving away 2,000 bars each day between 9-5 PSTD. You can try the new Nestle Crunch Crisp Bar for free and enter for a chance to win a Wii.

Vote here with a simple click and receive a coupon for a FREE cup of Stonyfield Farm yogurt (Limit one vote and coupon per email address, coupon is redeemable for 10 days after download and not redeemable in Canada).

Try a free sample of Honey Bunches of Oat Cereal.

Try a free sample of Yogi Tea.

Home & Garden:

How about a free Do-it-Herself Workshop from Home Depot? Now’s a perfect time to finally organize those messy closets. We’ll show you how at this FREE workshop. You’ll learn useful tips from the experts to help make more of the space you have. Plus, we’ll review smart products — such as ClosetMaid Selectives. Designed for easy installation with minimal tools, these well-designed products will make your closets work better and stay organized in an elegant fashion.

Try a free sample of Pure Essentials form Tide, Downy and Bounce. Look for this sample in your mailbox in six to eight weeks.


Get a free subscription to Garden Design Magazine. Garden Design is a lifestyle magazine edited for the upscale, design-conscious reader who is serious and passionate about the beauty of gardening, the satisfaction of fine design and decorating, and all the pleasures of outdoor living.
This subscription to Garden Design magazine has been purchased on your behalf by (Note: You will need to sign up for a Start Sampling account, but it will make it much easier when signing up for future freebies because the account will store your address information. No need to sign up for any offers!!)

If you have a Palm, Pocket PC/Windows Mobile, or a BlackBerry, you can have a free one year subscription to Zagat to Go. This gives you access to restaurant ratings and reviews. The promotion code will be sent to you via email.

Get a complimentary subscription to Cruising World Magazine.

Claim a complimentary one year subscription to American Cowboy Magazine.

Claim a complimentary subscription to Giant Magazine. This is one of our favorites in our house- enjoy!

Claim a complimentary digital subscription to green light magazine.

Miramax is offering a free advance screening to Becoming Jane. View the website for participating cities.

Claim a complimentary subscription to Body & Soul Magazine. (Note: My “homemaker” profile did not work for this one so you might need to enter something differently).

Claim a complimentary subscription to Interview Magazine.

Claim a complimentary subscription to Spin Magazine.


Now through August 31st, you can print out this Victoria’s Secret coupon for $10 off of one of their pink items. You can credit it towards a large purchase, or buy something $10 or under, making this free!

Help rid the classroom of germs that may cause illness with a free Clorox® Clean Up the Classroom! kit**. You can pre-register now for a kit for your classroom next year or nominate a teacher to receive one. The multimedia kit contains:

  • Coupons for disinfecting and sanitizing products
  • Educational information on germs in the classroom
  • Fun activities for your students

Pre-register for your kit today! Kits should arrive in September 2007.

Sign up for a free New Mornings Daily Survival Kit from the Hallmark Channel. Delivery of the kit will take four to six weeks.

Sprint customers can receive a free ring tone. Follow the instructions on this page and enter the promotional code U3T6X6P4 to get this freebie.

Get a free Saturday Card from Hallmark. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and limit one sample per household.

The Dollar Stretcher 07.26.07

Thursday, July 26th, 2007
For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!


It never fails. Shortly after you put a clean plastic liner in the kitchen wastebasket, something really smelly gets thrown away before the bag is full. I’ve found I can eliminate rotten odors in a wastebasket by completely covering the offending waste with a few layers of newspapers. I use the newspaper ad supplements that fill up my mailbox each week. The paper absorbs the smell entirely so you can use each bag to capacity.
Julie B. in Houston TX

The Hanging Heat Reducer

I did something very inexpensive this year that made a huge difference in the temperature of our kitchen. It would work on any room in the house.

We live in Texas. Summers are very long and very hot here. The large window in the eating area of our kitchen faces West. From about 2pm on each day, the sun pours through that window and bakes the room. By the time we sit down for dinner, the area is unbearably warm (despite air conditioning) and the bright sun is blinding to those of us facing the window.

This year, I cut a large piece of “black-out fabric” a bit larger than the window. Black-out fabric is actually white and can be purchased very inexpensively at fabric stores. I installed three grommets across the top. Then I tacked three small finishing nails above the top of the window above the wooden trim. At noon each day, I can easily hang up the curtain, and by 5pm when we eat dinner, the area is much cooler and there is no more glare! After 30 years of eating at a miserably hot dinner table, it’s finally very comfortable!
JR in Houston

Cheaper Flavored Teas

Many people in our area enjoy the raspberry flavored iced tea available at restaurants. Enjoy it at home by using dry drink mixes as the flavoring agent. Kool-Aid is a very concentrated flavor so use sparingly. Select a flavor (raspberry, lemonade, cherry, orange, etc.) and add to dry instant tea to make a dry mix. It can also be added to reconstituted instant tea or brewed tea for a ready-to-drink beverage. Store it in the refrigerator. Add your own preferred sweetener.

For a flavored hot tea, an alternative with more flavors available would be the gelatin dessert mixes such as Jell-O. Besides more easily accommodating different preferences, these also can be more frugal than other flavored tea options.

Cereal Savings

I bought three cylindrical plastic containers with lids. I no longer buy a cereal just because it tastes good since we normally go through 15 to 20 boxes a month. I now buy the bags, discounted damaged boxes, and cheaper brands. I pour the cereal in the clear plastic container when I get home and then everyone can see what it is and won’t shun it because it’s generic or has a dented box.
Candy M.

Doggie Toys

If you have dogs, you know how expensive and short-lived dog toys can be. Instead of purchasing new, consider your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. We can buy a large box of children’s stuffed animals for the price of one PetSmart dog toy (without putting a dent in the thrift store’s sad, abundant supply!). Our box will last all year and the dogs love the suspense of a “new” toy, especially at Christmas. Best of all, the money dished out goes for a good cause. If you don’t have a thrift store nearby, consider Just be sure that there’s nothing that could be chewed off of the toy that would be dangerous for your pet.
Mary in IL

Charitable Causes

One of the things that drives me absolutely bonkers is when a charity I have never heard of before sends me a solicitation that includes nickels or dimes and then goes on to explain how even these small amounts can do wonders for their cause! I am also aggravated when some organizations send me return envelopes that already have the postage on them. To the organizations that send cash, I send nothing and give that money to other charitable causes. As for the stamped envelopes, I soak the stamps off guilt free and again use them when I mail to other charitable groups.
Ed G.

Meals to Go!

When we needed to travel across the country to spend time with our grandchildren, we went as inexpensively as possible. I doubled the recipe of some of our favorite meals while I made them for supper and froze them in resealable bags. We were gone for four weeks and traveled 2,000 miles in our little camper trailer we pulled behind our truck. I also bought chips and snacks ahead of time while they were on sale. I made meals of fried chicken, meatloaf, etc. and we kept them in the cooler with dry ice.

I would take supper out of the cooler when we ate breakfast, place it in the fridge while we traveled, and it was ready to eat cold or warm up when we stopped for the night. I also put a frozen breakfast in the slow cooker on low at night and it would be thawed and ready to eat when we awoke in the morning.

We saved a lot of money, especially at campsites since it was out of the normal tourist season. We did not have any upset stomachs from eating out all the time and saved a lot of time by having our meals already prepared. We only ate out once when our kids took us out to eat before we left!
Judy in NE

Lettuce Keeper

If you will slam your iceberg lettuce against the inside of the sink with the core taking the hit, it allows you to pull the whole core out by hand and rinse the lettuce without inserting a knife. It doesn’t bruise the lettuce at all and this will help it stay fresher in your refrigerator.
Diane S. in Oklahoma

An Organized Desk

Recently, I redid our home office and found myself in need of several different sized containers for organizing things. I bought a roll of contact paper and just covered cardboard boxes (with the top flaps cut off) in sizes that I needed. I reinforced the bottoms and corners with packing tape to help them last longer before covering them with the contact paper. When I was finished, I had several really nice matching and perfectly sized organizers for the cost of a roll of contact paper.
Heather B in CA

Fly Away

Suspend a gallon baggie half full of water from each section of your porch (between each post). Stapling is the best way to secure. The light refraction through the water in the bag repels flies. We have even had a large table filled with food set out and not a fly on any of it. It’s nice to not be bothered by flies without having to spray expensive chemicals or light stinky candles.
Jennifer K. in Ingraham, IL

“No Sew” Curtains

Curtains for the sewing-challenged can be easy. Use the curtain hooks that have little clips to hold the fabric on them. They are sometimes called curtain clips. Then you can use any fabric you like with the hooks, such as a patterned flat sheet. You don’t have to sew at all and you can use the fabric later for something else. Curtain clips are inexpensive and can sometimes even be found at dollar stores at ten for a dollar. They seem to be very fashionable now.
Emilie J.

Ask Frugal Momma: How Do You Organize Your Pantry & Cupboards?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I know you guys were most impressed with the way we organized our closet, but what you *REALLY* wanted to know is how do we organize our pantry.

Remember when I revamped my laundry system and my yard sale system? That day I hit up the same college student for a great bookcase that she was getting rid of for only $20! I knew right away what I wanted to do with it and couldn’t wait to bring it home and put it in our basement.

First, let me give you some background information on our house and previous storage solutions. My kitchen does not have very many cupboards or pantry space so I have had to be more creative with my storage. Our big dream is to expand my tiny utility closet into a walk-in pantry, but until that happens I have been storing the majority of my pantry items in our basement.

Previously, we had a dark wood bookcase that was extremely deep that we were using to store the pantry items. We had ripped this “bookcase” out of our closet that we had turned into an entertainment unit. Yes, you could say that we are pretty creative with our smaller home. We have tried to maximize the space in places that were not being used properly instead of moving into a bigger home.

Due to the depth and darkness of the unit, what had ended up happening was that I found myself doing the repeat-buying. I would look in the unit and say to myself, “No tomato paste?” And then I would rush to the store and buy tomato paste. When I would pull items out though, I would see twenty cans of tomato paste that I had already bought. This was not frugal and the bookcase was working against me.

The location of the unit was also not the smartest place for me. With a quad level home, I was already making the trek down all of our stairs to retrieve items and then walking into the farthest corner of the basement to get what we needed. It was inconvenient and not a functional storage solution.

Welcome to the new home for my canned goods! This bookcase rests just at the bottom of the stairs in a well-lit area of our basement. The light wood color makes it easier to see what is in my pantry and the labels (created with my label maker) make it easy for even my husband to find what we need out of the pantry.

Our upstairs cupboards needed revamping as well. We have the same problem with our cupboards as we did with our former basement storage solution. One cupboard was extremely deep and items would get shoved back there until we said, “Hmmm… do you think that this is still good if it expired in 2003?” Obviously, we were wasting food and valuable cupboard space.

Repeat the same scenario above with the Lazy Susan unit that we had, but just make the items revolve in mass chaos. Clearly, we had a serious problem!

I got these handy storage baskets for less than two dollars each and divided our pantry items into categories. The storage baskets made it much easier for me to pull down exactly what I needed, rather than climbing up on a chair to try and dig through the back of the pantry. It also makes throwing items out quicker, when I need to clean out the pantry, and makes tasks easier because I had grouped like items (or cooking projects) together.

Here is how I grouped the items:

Spices- All of the spice containers were gathered together and imagine my surprise that we had plenty of repeat performers in this category. I wiped down the spices and consolidated them into one container. The spice container is residing in the cupboard closest to the stove. I can pull the small basket down and take out whatever we need and slip it back into the cupboard when I am done cooking. This is much easier than rifling through fifty teeny bottles and makes shopping day easier too!

Cake/Cookie Decorating Supplies- These are items that are used less frequently, but still needed a home. I put these higher up in a basket with handles. Piping bags, piping tips, cookie cutters, food coloring, sprinkles and the birthday candles (that no one could ever find) all went into this container.

Baking Supplies: This is a pretty general category, but it was all of the items that I needed, but could never find. In this larger basket went our baking powder, baking soda, confectioners sugar, shortening, and cocoa powder.

Rice/Pasta: These ingredients went into a larger basket and all of the boxes were consolidated and smaller pastas and the rice were placed into clear Mason jars. The mason jars were labeled and have the cooking instructions labeled on them (unless I knew the directions by heart). In the Mason jars were white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, orzo pasta, macaroni, and couscous. Larger pasta included linguine, angel hair, and thin spaghetti. Everything fit more neatly and anything extra went into the downstairs bookcase unit.

Flour/Sugar: This organizing unit went into our Lazy Susan. This included wheat flour, white flour, self-rising flour, cake flour, brown sugar, and white sugar.

Syrups/Oils/Vinegars: This organizing unit also went into our Lazy Susan and included corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, molasses, honey, and maple syrup. Using this unit eliminated the “sticky” factor, which usually occurred, making a huge mess in the bottom of our pantry. Any extra condiments also get put in there, as they are often used in recipes.

Finally, the items that I like to keep on hand upstairs all go into our pantry door. We bought one of these wire units that mounts on the door and keep items that I might need on hand. A smaller unit, that clips onto the larger unit, houses all of those little packets that we might need to assemble a meal. I try to keep what we need for the week in the upstairs pantry door and then the excess (or whatever doesn’t fit) ends up going downstairs.

If you want, I am happy to share where we keep appliances and stuff like that, just leave me a comment!

I hope that this will help give you s
ome creative storage solutions for your pantry!

Note: You can click on the pictures to expand the size.

Related Readings:

Free Up Pantry Space & Make a Snack
Making Your Spice Rack Usable
Getting the Car Organized
Gettin’ Quick in the Kitchen
Living Out of Your Pantry

Sound Off: What storage solutions have you found work in your pantry?

Where to Get Free Wi-Fi

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I don’t know about you, but I love any place that offers free Wi-Fi. In fact, right this moment, I am sitting at our local library enjoying the benefits of their free wireless internet. The nice thing about going to our library is that I am not required to buy anything and there are no strings attached with me sitting here. I have no sales person hounding me and no one waiting to take my table here.

More and more retailers are beginning to see the benefits of offering free wireless internet access though. Patrons may take up tables longer, but they also tend to place bigger orders while doing their business on the internet.

There are many national retailers that are offering free wireless including Apple Stores, Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee, most McDonald’s, Office Depot, CompUSA, Schlotzsky’s Deli, and many hotels and even some airports.

How do you find local places that offer free wireless? You can search under this directory, utilizing your zip code or state, and find a spot in your town or even a town that you are visiting. I was amazed to see all of the great places, in our area, that are offering free wireless that I didn’t even know about.

How about when traveling? Here are some listings that might come in handy:

National Hotels That Offer Free Wi-Fi

RV Parks & Campgrounds That Offer Free Wi-Fi

Airports That Offer Free Wi-Fi

Just how secure are wireless internet connections though? This is something that has always made me nervous, as I do worry that someone could hack into our private information. Back in January, a New York Times columnist explored this by performing a test in his local coffee shop. You can read his surprising experience and how you can protect yourself from this happening to you.

Sound Off: Do you look for places that offer free wireless internet? Do you have a favorite spot that you like to visit?

Lessons from Miss Meredith

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

This week Meredith, the lovely blogger of Like Merchant Ships, is offering a week’s tutorial for an Online Finishing School. She is sharing the special touches that make her house so homey and the best part of all is that all of her ideas are very budget-friendly.

I hope you will join her class this week. I can’t imagine a better teacher and I have already benefited from her first few lessons.

Sound Off: Who taught you how to make a home? Are you a self-taught homemaker or did you have a great influence in your life?

Spending Money Like We Got It!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

This weekend, my husband and I had a date night. We went to a very nice restaurant in town. We ordered fancy drinks, an appetizer, two delicious dinners, a dessert, and then we shared more drinks after the meal was over. We didn’t really glance at the prices and we spent about seventy dollars on dinner.

You must be wondering how someone who preaches frugality to the masses could be dining out like she has money to spend? If I saw people eating the way we did, clutching our bellies because we were so darn full, I would wonder how they could afford all those “extras” during their meal.

Lucky for me, I was able to mystery shop this restaurant and was reimbursed for my dinner out. In return for paying for my meal, I had to complete a short survey on the service that I received there. It took me about a half hour to fill out so for a sixty dollar reimbursement, that was a pretty good time investment.

Mystery shopping is a legitimate work-at-home opportunity. I personally never relied on it for income purposes, but I did rely on it for meals out or small cash rewards for taking the time to fill out surveys. In fact, before the site started to take up a lot of my time, we only went out to eat or had date nights when I had a mystery shopping opportunity.

Don’t think this is for you? Well, you can still spend money like you got it by using gift certificates from This has been the latest way that we have been able to afford dinner out. Our favorite restaurant recently dropped out of the program, but there are still a few restaurants in our area to chose from.

They are currently running an awesome promotion, that won’t last long, where you can get $25 gift certificates for only $3 using the coupon code PRESENT when checking out. This is a 70% savings and you can stock up on these as holiday gifts or for your family. The gift certificates are good for an entire year! The coupon code is good from July 24-31.

If you do decide to get these, I would love if you used this link provided because I do make a small bit of money from the affiliation. I promise I would only promote something that I absolutely loved and these gift certificates have funded many of our fun nights out.

Related Readings:

Taking the Mystery Out of Mystery Shopping
A Real Review of
Don’t Throw Out Those Take-Out Menus
Holiday Bling Without a Bling Budget

Sound Off: How do you save money when dining out?