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19 Jun 2011   ·   42
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: 10 lbs. of raw sugar, 5 cartons of almond milk + more!

Dillon’s: Spent $13.78

There wasn’t much we needed to buy in the way of groceries this week, so I just made a quick trip to Dillon’s and the health food store to get some of the deals.

The Health Food Store: Spent $20.15

Two of my children are currently off milk, so I was thrilled to be able to get these markdown prices on the hemp, almond and rice milk! We’ll use the chocolate milk to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothies. It’s a delicious treat for a hot afternoon. I want to get some popsicle molds so I can freeze it and make homemade fudgsicles, too.

Also shown in the picture is the raw sugar my friend Angie found clearanced to just $1.25 per pound at another Dillon’s location. She picked up 10 pounds for me. (It’s such a wonderful thing to have fellow frugal friends who are always on the lookout for deals and willing to snatch up extras when they find them!)

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Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

18 Jun 2011   ·   2
Money Saving Mom

This Week in Review: Free Home & Life Management Planner, Recycle a T-Shirt Into a Skirt + more!

17 Jun 2011   ·   160
Money Saving Mom

Cloth Diapering 101

Guest post by Brittany at Mom Answers With Brit

More and more parents are choosing to use cloth diapers instead of disposables. They are more comfortable for the baby, they are good for the environment and, in most cases, they save you money. I must be honest, the main reason we chose to use cloth diapers is the last one.

As I started researching cloth diapers online I was instantly overwhelmed. I was blessed to have friends and family around to help guide and teach me the “diaper lingo.” After much research (and convincing my husband) we decided to change to cloth diapers, and now we are addicted! Using cloth actually makes changing diapers, dare I say it, fun.

How to get started using cloth diapers:

1. Calculate how much money using cloth diapers will save you.

The Diaper Pin has a cloth diaper calculator online to see how much you will save by using cloth diapers. This is a great tool to use to determine if it is worth it for you to switch to cloth diapers and to decide how much you want to invest upfront. The calculator computes water/electricity usage for cleaning them.

The total we spent on our infant was $550 (this is with choosing a more expensive kind of cloth diapers, and choosing to use sized and not one-size diapers). If you normally purchase diapers on sale with coupons, you’ll probably spend at least that much — if not more — in a year by buying disposables. While you still have to add in the water and electricity costs for washing the diapers, if you plan to use them for longer than a year and if you use the same cloth diapers for multiple children you can save a significant amount of money by using cloth diapers.

2. Decide what kind of diapers to use.

As you start looking online, you will see that there are several different types/brands of cloth diapers. Most people I know use either an AIO (all-in-one) or a pocket diaper.

We chose to use FuzziBunz pocket diapers, and we absolutely love them! Be encouraged that there is definitely not one perfect brand or type. It was very overwhelming for me to decide, and our primary reason we chose FuzziBunz Pocket Diapers was because I found a good deal on them. Many parents are happy with many different types/brands of cloth diapers.

3. Find the best deal on cloth diapers.

Most of the best cloth diaper deals are found online, but some areas also have local cloth diaper stores. In Kansas City, we are blessed to have a wonderful cloth diaper store and we found it very helpful to actually go to the store and see the diapers face-to-face instead of just reading about them online.

It is sometimes hard to find really good deals for cloth diapers, but there are sales out there. The Diaper Pin has a list of cloth diaper sales and deals on their homepage.

If you are expecting and someone will be throwing a shower for you, ask for them for shower gifts or request gift cards to online cloth diaper companies.

If you want to get creative, here’s an article on How to Cloth Diaper for Practically Free. Or, you can also read how to make your own cloth diapers.

4. Don’t buy accessories that you don’t need.

Don’t feel like you need everything out there (like the diaper sprayer). I would say the basics are: diapers, extra liners for night-time use, pail-liners, bacteria killing spray and detergent. I also enjoy having a wet bag for the diaper bag, but if you don’t go out much, a plastic bag will work just fine!

Cloth diapers are not for everyone, but I hope to encourage you to look at them a little differently. You don’t have to get your hands gross or worry about poking your baby with a pin. Today’s generation of cloth diapers have improved immensely from what our parents/grandparent’s experienced.

Brittany Grim is a wife and mother to her son, Isaiah. She works full-time in the insurance industry in addition to blogging at Mom Answers With Brit. She loves to share what she has experienced and researched with other moms. She loves God, her family and reading!

photo from Baby Hoots

17 Jun 2011   ·   78
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: We save $100 a year by simplifying our children’s wardrobes

Ashley emailed in the following tip:

One of the ways our family saves $100 per year is by simplifying our children’s wardrobes. Each of our four children have 4-5 play outfits, 2 “nice” or church outfits, a nice pair of shoes, a play pair of shoes, a package of underwear and a package of socks.

I have found that maintaining a simple wardrobe for our children compared to having a closet full of clothes, many which are hardly worn, saves me at least $30 per child per season. In a year, it saves $90-$120 per child!

An added benefit of fewer clothes is that you can’t get very far behind on your laundry, so you’ll never again have mountains of dirty laundry sitting around! -Ashley

photo credit

16 Jun 2011   ·   115
Money Saving Mom

Freezer Cooking In An Hour: Corn Dog Muffins, Chicken Stuffing Casserole, Oatmeal Raisin Muffins, Italian Pasta Bake

Well, I sort of cheated for yesterday’s Freezer Cooking In An Hour session. First off, I baked the chicken during dinner the night before to save me time and then I gave myself two hours to accomplish my list instead of one. But I still got a lot done in a shorter amount of time — and that’s truly the point of why I challenge myself to do Freezer Cooking In An Hour each week.

4:00 — I set the timer, tied on my apron, pulled my hair back and got to work. I put the dough in the bread machine for Failproof Bread Machine French Bread. I started the ground beef, mixed the oats and yogurt for the Oatmeal Raisin muffins and started mixing up the Honey Cornbread recipe.

4:20 — While the ground beef was cooking, I chopped the onion to add to it and then went back to finishing the Honey Cornbread. I assembled the Corn Dog muffins and stuck them in the oven and then started the pasta boiling.

4:45 — In the middle of mixing up the Oatmeal Raisin muffins, I heard the familiar “mo-o-o-o-o-ma” coming from Silas’ room. I got him up and made popcorn for a snack for all the children and then sent them downstairs to play.

5:10 — The pasta was done, so I assembled the Italian Pasta Bakes and then took a break to clean up the kitchen. I really wanted to make the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and the Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge, but I was running out of time and energy. So I opted to just finish up what I already had started and save those to make later in the week.

5:25 — I pulled the oatmeal muffins out of the oven — yum! — and then started chopping up the chicken while the water was boiling for the stuffing. I couldn’t believe the children were still downstairs playing quietly! It’s a rare occurrence that all three of them play together for longer than 20 minutes without someone getting hurt or a fighting ensuing (we’re working on it, but it seems to be a slow learning process!).

5:35 — The chicken was finally chopped, so I put together the Chicken Stuffing Casseroles together. I then went to pull the French Bread dough out of the bread machine. So much for it being failproof. The dough was really stiff — way too stiff for French Bread. I tried to make it work, but I finally gave up. I think I better find a different French Bread recipe! (Anyone have a more proven failproof recipe to share? Or a suggestion of why mine didn’t turn out?)

5:45 — Finally done!

4 pans of Chicken Stuffing Casserole

12 Corn Dog Muffins (I used my Honey Cornbread Recipe and Beef Hotdogs. These are very yummy — for kids and adults alike!)

I small pan of Honey Cornbread

12 Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

3 pans of Italian Pasta Bake

16 Jun 2011   ·   130

Thrifting Tips: Lessons Learned From My Thrift Store Shopping Experience

Looking for thrifting tips to help you on your next thrift store shopping trip? This simple advice is great to keep in mind!

{Planning to take your kids? Read this before you go!!}

Lessons Learned from my First Thrift Store Shopping Trip

Guest post by Carrie Hurst at My Favorite Finds

I went to Goodwill for the first time in my life today. Here are a few thrifting tips I learned…

If you’re going to pay for it — even if it’s secondhand — make sure you love it.

If I buy five pairs of jeans for $3 each without trying them on and go home and find that only two of them fit, I’m out $9. I don’t justify secondhand purchases with “It’s only $3.” By doing so, I waste money and I’m disappointed.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from a “great” bargain.

This afternoon, I tried on a pair of COACH canvas slip-on shoes. I loved them! They were only $22, and I wanted them badly.

However, they were a bit too tight in the toes. I ended up not getting them because of this and the high price tag. Even though I loved them, I left them behind because I wasn’t willing to pay for something that I wasn’t 100% convinced about.

Look for brands you are familiar with.

If I’m going to buy something secondhand, I want it to be decent quality and have a history of lasting. Today, I got a Land’s End swim top/trunks for my boys, two pairs of Banana Republic shorts for me, a pair of Saucony sneakers, a pair of American Eagle flats, a Baby GAP tank top for my daughter, an Old Navy polo for my boys, a pair of plaid Cherokee shorts for my boys, a Circo swimsuit for my daughter, and a Rare, too dress for my daughter. I got all of this for less than $30!

I chose these based on what we needed andwanted, but also based upon brands that I know we’ve liked and felt have held up to wear and tear in the past.

What thrifting tips do you have? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Carrie is a pastor’s wife, and a mom of twin boys and a toddler girl. She loves the Lord, and tries to be an example for Him. Visit her blog, My Favorite Finds.

photo credit


16 Jun 2011   ·   68
Money Saving Mom

How to Make Money Blogging: 10 Ways to Build & Increase Your Readership (Part 2)

photo credit

Read Part 1 if you missed it.

6. Host giveaways.

Readers love giveaways. It’s a way to generate buzz for your site, give something back to your readers and get additional traffic by linking up to giveaway link-ups (ours goes up every Monday afternoon).

If you are a new blogger and wondering how on earth you get started hosting giveaways, it’s really very simple. Read my other post for some tips and suggestions for getting started offering giveaways.

If there’s one thing I want to encourage with giveaways, it’s this: don’t overdo and don’t make people jump through a bunch of hoops to enter. Okay, that was two things, but I think they are both vital for giveaway success.

Giveaways are great — in moderation. Unless your blog is primarily a product review blog, any more than 10 to 20% of a ratio of giveaways to regular posts is probably too much. And make it simple for people to enter. I promise your readers will appreciate it.

As a side note: be honest in your reviews if you’re including them with a product. If you didn’t love something, there’s no need to gush up and down about it.

Your readers appreciate honesty and forthrightness. Show pros and cons. But, as I’ve learned the hard way, if you only have critical things to say about a product, it’s probably better to skip the giveaway altogether since most companies aren’t really excited about sponsoring a giveaway where the blogger just posts a very negative review of the product.

7. Interact on Facebook and Twitter.

A year and a half ago, my husband suggested I set up a Facebook Page. I wasn’t too sure if it was worth it, but I went ahead and did it. I was shocked at how much traffic it generated from the start and how many people signed up as fans!

The beautiful thing about a Facebook Page is that when someone interacts on your page, it shows up on their personal page. Many people have told me they originally found my blog through a friend on Facebook.

In addition, my Facebook Page is one of the highest generators of traffic to my blog each month. Needless to say, I’m listening more carefully when my husband suggests I add something to my blog. 🙂

A successful Facebook Page doesn’t sit dormant. It should be updated at least once a day, preferably a few times per day. Post links to all your blog posts, share posts from the archives and throw in the occasional picture or real-time funny story, quote or question. The more you interact with your fans, the better.

By the way, I recommend posting your links manually on Facebook, instead of using an auto-post set up. Not only does this cause you to see if people are commenting or leaving questions, but this also shows up more readily in people’s feeds (auto-post tends to bury posts so people never see them).

8. Link liberally to other bloggers.

Want to know one way to have people find your blog? Link to their blog!

Most bloggers track their stats and incoming links and will click over to see if someone has linked to them. They might just end up linking back to you if they like what they see.

Now, I’m not advocating a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sort of mentality here, but I know that some bloggers are so scared they might lose traffic if they link to another blog. I’ve found the exact opposite to be true.

If you find a great blog or blog post that you think your readers would love, share it on your blog or Facebook Page! Don’t keep a good thing to yourself.

I got a little long-winded with these three, so I’ll save the final two ways to build and increase your readership for next week.

15 Jun 2011   ·   213
Money Saving Mom

Sacrificing to Start a Clothing Stockpile

Guest post by Danielle

I don’t know about anyone else, but money is so tight right now in our household that putting even $5 or $10 extra per month towards stockpiling clothes isn’t available. But instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to do something really different this summer.

If you “have your ear to the ground” economically, you know that cotton prices are continuing to climb steadily. As we get into fall and winter where clothing requires more material, therefore costing more, it could really be a hard squeeze for some families. We decided to change our perspective and plan accordingly.

Our Plan: Make do with what we have for the summer.

I know, it’s crazy, but we’re extremely serious about it for the next three months! My two oldest children, a boy and a girl, have only four outfits each. We have a washer and dryer in our home, so I do one load per day and they have clean clothes every day. My third child, a girl, has more clothing simply because she’s wearing hand-me-downs from her big sister!

We decided not to buy sandals this year because their athletic shoes will fit them through the summer. We aren’t buying swimsuits right now either, because with my husband’s hectic work schedule we can’t even make it to the pool! (We are blessed to have a community pool included as part of living in our townhome complex.)

Here in another month life will slow down a bit, and swimsuits will start going on sale! We’ll buy each child one then, and when they’re clearanced out at the end of the summer, we’ll buy their swimsuits for next year.

So far, because of our strategy to use budgeted “summer clothing” money to purchase clearanced fall and winter clothes for the upcoming season, we’ve been able to purchase from Walmart’s clearance racks:

  • 2 fleece outfits (4T) — $1 each; originally $8 each
  • 2 sets of fleece pajamas (matching for the girls) — $1 each; originally $9 each
  • 1 fleece sleeper (4T) — $1; originally $7
  • 4 long sleeved shirts (4T & 24 months) — $1 each; originally $3.50 each
  • 1 long sleeved shirt (24 months) — $1; originally $3.50
  • 1 heavy fleece-lined fall jacket (24 months) — $1; originally $8
  • 1 pair leggings (24 months) — $1, originally $3.50

Grand Total: $12 for $70 worth of clothing!

My goal isn’t to supply my children’s every need with clearanced clothing, because realistically, that just may not be possible. However, I can make a huge dent in our fall and winter clothing budget, and then use that money to start purchasing clearanced spring and summer clothing for next year!

I just want to encourage everyone that even if you only have a few dollars, if you’re creative and willing to sacrifice a little bit right now, it can pay off in big ways just a few months down the road!

Danielle Bradbury lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, son and two daughters. She and her husband are working hard to rebuild their life after bankruptcy. They are also looking forward to starting homeschool with their son this fall.

14 Jun 2011   ·   89

Freezer-Friendly Baked Oatmeal Recipe

So many of you requested more specific directions on how I froze the Baked Oatmeal recipe that I made for my Freezer-Cooking-In-An-Hour session last week that I figured it might be good to share the adapted recipe. But I wanted to make sure it turned out okay after being frozen, thawed and then baked.

We tested it this week and, as I suspected, it worked beautifully to freeze. It was so, so easy to pull out, thaw overnight and bake. And my husband and children raved about it all during breakfast. I almost felt guilty that it was so simple to pull off. 🙂

It was definitely a hit — and something I’ll be including more often in our regular breakfast line up now that I’ve found a way to make it ahead and freeze it!

 

14 Jun 2011   ·   211
Money Saving Mom

How to Stockpile Clothes By Shopping at Yard Sales

Guest post by MaryEllen at The Deal Scoop

The reader tip last week on stockpiling clothes is something our family has already been using to save an incredible amount of money each year. As I read through the comments on the post, I noticed some readers’ concerns.

There were some readers who don’t think they could find good enough deals at yard sales to make stockpiling clothing worth their while. Some felt that all they can find at yard sales is junk and that they would rather buy clearance items at the stores. Then there were those who admitted that they aren’t organized enough to know what they need and don’t need.

Here are a few tips on how to get the best prices at yard sales and how our family has been able to make stockpiling clothing work for us:

On Friday night, check your local paper or Craigslist.org ads for Saturday’s yard sales.

(Or if you live an area with a lot of Friday sales, check on Thursday night. Go whenever is best for the area in which you live.) Most people will list some specific items that they will be selling. Mark the ones that specifically have kids’ clothing listing and skip the rest. In my family’s experience, you will barely have time to make it to just those yard sales, and there is no sense wasting time and gas going to yard sales that don’t have what you’re looking for.

Plan your route ahead of time.

If you need directions to certain places, be sure you have them all printed out the night before so you can go from place to place quickly and use gas efficiently. The more gas you use, the more those yard sale clothes will cost you!

Go as early as possible in the morning.

Many people think there is only junk to be found at yard sales, but a lot of times that’s because there are high-quality items to be had for nearly pennies. The first ones at the yard sales find all the best stuff before it’s gone!

Set a target price and don’t be afraid to make deals in order to hit it.

This is probably the most crucial part to the whole game of stockpiling clothing, and I’ll be the first to admit that my husband is more skilled at it than I am. Our family’s personal target is $0.25 per clothing item, $1 for a pair of shoes and up to $1 for nice dresses for our daughter. That may seem like quite an ambitious goal, but my husband has proven to me that it is quite doable. Here’s what I’ve learned by watching him:

::If a seller has high quality items and is asking 50 cents each, pick out three things and ask if they will take $1 for all three. Nine times out of ten, they will. Although that is $0.33 per item and not the target $0.25, you can average it out later.

::Ask the seller if they will consider a bag special. If there are a good number of items in which you are interested, ask the seller if they will allow you to fill a shopping bag for a certain price. If they will sell you a bag of clothing for $3 to $5, you should be able to hit your target price. (This is especially true when you’re buying smaller sizes because you can fit more pieces into the bag.)

If they charge $5, you’ll need to fit at least 20 pieces into the bag in order to hit $0.25 an item. (It’s amazing how many pieces will go in when they’re folded neatly!) If they charge $3, you need to fit at least 12 pieces in the bag in order to hit your target.

Then, there are always the sellers who surprise you by saying, “Sure, fill a bag for $1!” It happens, and those are the times that help you bring your average back down to the target price when you’ve paid a little more for something you really like.

::If a seller is asking $1 for a pair of shoes, ask if they’ll take $0.50. The worst they can say is “no”, and if they say “yes”, you’ve just brought your average price per item down. If they’re asking $2, ask if they’ll take $1. Then you can get the shoes at your target price.

Skip the junk.

Don’t buy something just because it happens to be your target price. If you don’t like it or it’s worn out, skip it. You’ll find something else later.

Buy only classic styles and colors.

Remember, by the time your children wear the clothes you find, it may be a couple years down the road. Trendy things go out of style very quickly and you’ll end up not using them and wasting your money.

Keep a detailed list of what you have and what you need.

I don’t think it makes sense to buy another pair of pants, even if they are only $0.25, if our son already has enough pairs in that size. On the other hand, if the end of yard sale season is approaching and we see that he still needs pants for the upcoming winter, we can up our target price for that item. I’d rather pay $0.50 or $0.75 for the pants instead of waiting until we get out the winter clothes only to find out we have to run to Walmart and buy a couple pairs at full price.

Spreadsheet Tip:

Our family uses two spreadsheets, one for boy clothes and one for girl clothes. Each spreadsheet includes every size from birth through several sizes beyond what our children currently wear.

There are categories for every different item, such as play shirts, shorts, dress pants, dress shirts, etc. We also include every size of shoes.

Every time we come home from yard sales we immediately wash everything and add it to the spreadsheet. The next time we find something at our target price we can check to see if we already have enough of that item in that particular size. We keep a copy of our spreadsheets on the computer, and carry a printed copy with us to the yard sales.

Properly organize all the clothes you have stockpiled.

It’s no fun to know you have clothes available when your child has a growth spurt, but you can’t find them anywhere! I like to keep everything in airtight tubs that are labeled by size and gender. I haven’t figured out a better way to do shoes, so everything just gets thrown into either a “boy’s shoes bin” or a “girl’s shoes bin”.

When one of our kids outgrows their shoes, I just look on the spreadsheet to make sure we have the next size for them. Then I can rummage through the bin to get their next size shoe. I love being able to make a trip to the attic when our kids have a growth spurt instead of making an emergency trip to the store!

We Save Over $140 Per Year By Stockpiling Clothing and Shopping at Yard Sales

If you’re still not convinced that stockpiling clothing from yard sales would be worth it to you, here are a couple rough figures of how much money we save this way. Let’s say my little girl needs a minimum of five tops, five bottoms, three Sunday dresses and three pairs of shoes for each season. If we buy the five tops and five bottoms at $0.25, the three Sunday dresses for $1 each, and the three pairs of shoes for $1 each, we end up spending $8.50 for an entire season’s worth of clothing.

If we found some really great sales at Target or Walmart and bought the same amount of clothing for $5 a piece, we would spend $80. So we save at very minimum $71.50 per season, or $143 a year per child.

The more children you have, the more your savings will multiply. Plus, though I have nothing against clothes from Target or Walmart, our children are wearing Children’s Place, OshKosh, Gymboree, and Carter’s clothing instead. Many times the clothes and shoes we find are brand-new with the tags still on.

I do understand that this method of saving on children’s clothing is not going to work for 100% of you due to lack of storage space or because you may live in a rural area with very few yard sales. However, I do hope that those of you who have the means to do so will give some of these tips a try. You may be surprised at how well you can do!

MaryEllen Bream is a stay-at-home mom who is always looking for more ways to stretch her family’s budget. When she’s not playing with her kids or shopping yard sales for their clothes, she can be found sharing deals and money-saving tips on her blog.

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