Saturday, July 30, 2016

Frugal Summer Fun

As summer vacation draws to a close (at least here it does), I've been thinking about the ways that I've been keeping my kids entertained all summer long (without breaking the bank…).

THE LIBRARY--has been huge for my kids this summer!  Not only did both of my boys get library cards, but they also offer many summer reading events throughout June and July.  We had a really awesome library system in MI that gave you points for books you read over the summer that you could turn in for prizes.  Check out your local library for the summer reading program near you!

THE DISNEY STORE--is offering Summer Play Days everyday all summer long (even after school starts back up here).  There are various events (story time, trivia, learn to draw etc.) that occur every day at the store for free.  At the end of each event, the kids are given a wrist band with a different Tsum Tsum character on it.  A new bracelet is available starting on Wednesday of every week.

POOL PASSES--Our township offers pool passes for residents to use the 14 or so township pools.  The cost for my family of 5 is about $140 total for all summer long.  With an admission of $6 per person per day, the season pass more than pays for itself and its a relatively inexpensive option once you shell out the initial amount.

MEMBERSHIPS--Use those memberships to museums.  You've probably already paid for them so all you need to do is pack a lunch and you've got a frugal, fun day/afternoon/morning planned.

PINTEREST--There are numerous ideas for keeping kids entertained on Pinterest.  My kids gave all of our Cars a bath the other day on the back porch and all it required of me was 2 deep pans filled with water and a water/soap mixture.  I saw an idea for a marble maze that looked pretty awesome too that we might try (once I get a large box to use).

PLAYDATES WITH FRIENDS--We have gotten together with numerous friends from school and church all summer long too.  Gather some phone numbers for friends (or neighbors) and text and set up some playdates.  I've found that if I do the initiating (which is often the hardest part for some…), its super easy to find some friends to hang with (and most of the moms are appreciative that you reached out).

I'm sure there are some other great ideas that I've missed but hopefully this list is a great starting place.  Happy Summer!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Free Township/City Events

Since we've moved several times across several states for the last nine years, I always make it a point to seek out free community events in the area.  Not only do they load you up with all sorts of freebies (I got my favorite hat free at an event), but they can provide you with valuable resources and information for the area in which you live.

The Meet Your Local Community (fill in the blank) are really valuable because not only do you learn about things like neighborhood watch and numbers for the fire department/police but because you can learn about things that are offered free to residents (or you are already paying for in your taxes…).  My kids got to grab some donuts and some activity books and sit in some fire vehicles while my husband and I learned about neighborhood watch, vacation watch, the best way to control the TX mosquitos in our backyard and free engravers (to put identification numbers on your valuables if they ever get stolen) and paint kits (for painting your house number on the curb).  All of these things were very useful to us as newcomers to the community.

I encourage you to check out the websites for your local township or city and see what events they are holding (most of the time they are free!).  Educate yourselves on your community and build relationships with the emergency personnel where you live.  What do you have to lose anyway?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wholesale Shipped to Your Door? With Discounts and Rewards Points!?

I recently discovered  What is it?  It's a website that sells wholesale items without you having to pay a membership fee.  I love this as its a bit complicated to get to the wholesale clubs near me and doesn't justify me going for the few things I'd buy.

Are there discounts on items?  You bet!  They also have a rewards program where you earn points for credit on their website.  And there are some great discount codes for their website too.  I have yet to pay full price for an order.  Here's a code for a $15 credit just for signing up: QWXWS.

Their shipping is super fast too.  I put in an order around 3pm CST yesterday and my order will reach me here in TX from GA tomorrow.  They state that it usually takes 3-4 business days to receive your order.

All in all, I'm impressed.  I can get Annie's fruit snacks for my kids without paying close to $5 a box for 5 packets.  Thirty-six packets are $14.99 on sale right now!  I also stocked up on baking powder and condiments.   Need diapers?  They have them too!  They also carry Honest brand which is chlorine free and better for the environment.   If you live in select areas of Brooklyn or Manhattan they are also testing delivering perishable groceries (read: fruits and veggies, frozen etc.)  Check it out.  I love not having to drag my kids to the warehouse club and ending up with a whole bunch of stuff I didn't need….

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lower cost napkins for the kids

I have a 5, 3, and 1 year old.  My kids are notorious for making a mess of their faces and hands at every meal.  I don't have an exact count on how many paper napkins we'd go through but it would be a lot and I'd be buying them frequently.  Therefore, to not only save some money but also some trees, I purchased some kids' washcloths to use instead.  

You can pick them up at Target or TJMaxx, Ross, or Marshalls for fairly inexpensive (even better if you can find some with the red markdown sticker, because honestly, who cares if they are hot green or mud brown if you are going to wipe a dirty face with them?)  I can get them wet if I need to and add a little soap (Can paper napkins or paper towels do this WITHOUT falling apart or living paper traces?) or the kids can use them dry.  I throw them in with my towel laundry so its not like I have to do extra special loads to keep them clean.  I save the environment and my money :)  

See what I mean?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Craft Supplies on the Cheap

My kids like to do crafts.  I don't like to spend a ton of money on craft supplies though.  I've begun over the years (like before my oldest was born), to collect craft supplies when I find them super cheap somewhere (free, on clearance, given to me from a friend, recycled from other things I purchased, etc.).

Now, I don't go crazy and I'm not a pack rat by any stretch of the imagination.  I have one stacking bin with pull out drawers to fill.  I fill it with little things: paper, markers, crayons, stamps, pads, pipe cleaners, buttons, etc.  Whenever I happen to be somewhere and there's a really good deal on something, I pick them up and put them in the bin.

All the little things I picked up over the years are kept in that bin and now my kids help themselves to craft supplies and paper to make their masterpieces.  I encourage them to use their imaginations with what I have on hand instead of making trips to the craft store for specific things.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Kitchen Creativity

We are getting ready to move out of state.  That means I need to start paring down my pantry and finish up all the stuff in my freezer.  I am finding that in order to clean them out and use everything in there I'm having to be very creative in the kitchen when it comes to meals.   This means that I'm also saving money but not being wasteful (i.e. trying to use absolutely everything up) and not going grocery shopping.

I got to thinking that this is not only a good tactic for when one is getting ready to move but living solely on what you have in your freezer, fridge and pantry can be a good exercise to save some money in any given month.  Inevitably, you stock up on stuff that's on sale some weeks so there's always something lying around that you can whip up in a creative dish.

Heck, you could make it a challenge and see what any given family member can come up with with only the ingredients on hand!  Whoever has the best sounding dish, gets their dish prepared for dinner that night…Better yet, make the winner prepare said dish!

Moral: Save money.  Be less wasteful.  Have some family fun on a boring Sunday evening.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dinner Pancakes…My 4 year old loves 'em!

I usually feel like I have to pull teeth to get my 4 year old to eat any vegetables.  But if I make Dinner Pancakes, he just eats them up.  He knows there are vegetables in them, but he loves them anyway!  Here is my working recipe for Dinner Pancakes:

pancake mix (your favorite store bought or homemade)
some vegetables (I've used broccoli, mushrooms, onions, corn, carrots, and zucchini)
olive oil

I start by chopping up the vegetables into small pieces.  Then I sauté them until soft in a pan with some olive oil.  I mix up the pancake mix for however many pancakes I want.  Then I add the cooked veggies to the mix.  Then I just make the pancakes as usual in an olive oil coated pan.  Serve with some sour cream.  That's it!  Be creative and try new combinations.  You may discover one you really love.  I love adding corn to mine since it gives it a bit of a sweet taste.

This is a great way to use some veggies that need to be used in the fridge.  It also takes little time to throw together.  It's also frugal since its meatless.  It's a total win-win; I save money and my four year old eats veggies…