Category Archives: Frugal

Thrifter

Last night, on a  whim, I decided to randomly browse the Hickam Thrift Store FB page. They periodically post pictures of things they have for sale in their store along with events and specials.  GOOD THING I DID! (of all days…) I found out last night that TODAY would be the $10/bag SALE!  Say whaaaaaaat?!  Yep, whatever could be squeezed into a brown plastic commissary  shopping bag = $10 (only including clothing, belts and shoes). SO, bright and early this morning, the kids and I headed out for some thrifty shopping! We are on a budget after all….

Finding one of the very last parking stalls in front of the thrift store, and “just” missing the opening doors rush at 9am, we all headed hand-in-hand into thrifting HEAVEN….a.k.a. chaos…( Excuse my lack of photographic proof…..I was too in-the-zone to take any pics “in” the thrift store!) Good thing Monroe was in the Ergo…there was NO way a stroller was getting anywhere in there…  Picking up our plastic shopping bags just inside the door, we all made a beeline to the baby section (Monroe has been in DIRE need of some new clothes lately, and the Target sale racks were yielding no good finds lately, so what a blessing to be able to hunt for treasures for her here!)  I went to town – Maya holding open her plastic bag as I filled it with adorable dresses for her.  That girl I tell you….she has a definite fashion sense. She made sure she had final approval before anything made it into her bag.  After hitting a dress jackpot for Maya, I again began looking for clothes for Monroe. There were a TON of newborn-6m baby clothes (for both girls and boys) and a lot of 3T and up clothes for girls, but I had the hardest time finding sizes in between for Monroe. Finally, after squeezing through the crowds, I found a bin with a few things for Monroe…a few items that she can wear now but most that are 12-18m. I was just happy to find great deals that the girls can both grow into!  Poor Milo. There was just nothing for him there. But that’s ok. He’s perfectly happy with his “comfy” Old Navy pants and would live in those and only those every single day if he had his way.  So, 45 minutes later and with a few extra add-ins, this was the result:

IMG_6152

(looks are deceiving – this was a massive Sears shopping bag…like the ones that hold comforter sets…and was about 1/2 full with over 40 items)

More specifically…I found clothes for Monroe (an adorable beach hat, bibs, dresses, sleepy outfits, tunics, etc):

IMG_6191

Clothes for Maya (umm….are you seeing that Flamingo dress?!):

IMG_6192

Super comfortable, just the right size wedges for myself:

IMG_6179

A pair of brand new slippers and sandals, along with a pair of white corduroy capris for my mom (not pictured)

All fitting into 2 bags! (@$10 each so $20 total!!) ….we could’ve probably squeezed more into those bags, but after 45 minutes of chaos, I think we all were more than happy to just buy what we had and escape the crowd! BUT, not before first letting the kids play in the toy room.  The way the Hickam Thrift Store is set up, there’s a cute toy room area tucked away just inside the main shopping area. Since toys weren’t on sale as part of the bag deal, there was NO crowd in that area.  Perfect because it gave the chance for us all to catch our breaths in there and the kids had a blast browsing/playing with all the neat 2nd hand toys.  Maya found this little princess, spinning, light-up toy and fell in love.

IMG_6177  IMG_6178

At $1…I was sold.  She’s been playing with it all day. I think we’ve gotten a good dollar’s use out of it so far 😉

Milo’s been on a puzzle kick lately.  The way his mind works…he’ll sit there and try and try (sometimes for hours….literally!) until he figures things out – which makes puzzles perfect for him.  I saw this sitting in the corner and knew it would be right up his alley. He agreed (although in retrospect I think it’s too easy for him) and he held the puzzle in his lap all the way home where he quickly went to work.  At $3, it’s more than I would’ve “liked” to have spent, but still a deal nonetheless.

IMG_6176 IMG_6154 IMG_6157 IMG_6160

All together, I walked out with a big shopping bag filled with over 40 clothing items, 3 pairs of shoes, a puzzle and a little toy, all for $25.08 (this is including tax)…knowing that that money was going to a good cause. (<—all profits from the Hickam Thrift Store go to helping community charities, local schools, military-affiliated non-profits)  I am ALL FOR getting a great deal “and” feeling good about it knowing others are benefiting as well 🙂

Advertisements

Working for their $$$…

About a month ago, Marv saw these Financial Peace Junior kits go on sale on the Dave Ramsey site (we LOVE Dave Ramsey….if you have no idea who he is…you need to click HERE <— ) and we decided that although the kids are still young, we wanted to get them started RIGHT! We also figured this would give us a good idea on how to start working with them regarding finances:

IMG_5763 IMG_5762 IMG_5765

Included in each kit (to name a few since I’m sure I’ll forget something…) was an activity book, crayons, parent’s guide, 3 clear money envelopes, magnets, a sticker sheet, clear vinyl “chore” stickers, and last but not least the awesome chore chart!

IMG_5764

There were lots of pre-made chores on vinyl stickers to choose from, but I picked the ones the kids (2.5 yrs and 4 yrs) would be able to do on their own (or with a little help from me) and left the rest for later as they get bigger.  The reason Marv and I decided on this Financial Peace Junior kit is #1 – we believe in Dave Ramsey and follow his financial advice for OUR finances, #2 – it makes sense to us to pay the kids based on a “commission” system vs automatically earning weekly allowances…they need to deserve it first, and #3 – this looked like such a fun, easy to follow system for the kids to grow with!

IMG_6010

SO, how does it work? As seen above, the chore chart consists of – obviously – a bunch of chores. Going down the list, I checked what I wanted the kids to do for each day of the week (some will be every day like “get dressed,” “pick up toys,” “pick up clothes,” while others will only be every M, W, F – like “get mail” <—WITH mom! etc.  We decided that each chore would be worth 10 cents and we would pay out their commissions every night before bed. (we do this every night for instant gratification for the kids whereas older kids could be paid out weekly). Usually the kids each get 30 – 80 cents a day (depending on what chores are checked for the day and how ambitious we were!). We then go upstairs to the office where we have 2 sets of “Give, Save, Spend” piggy banks. I help them allocate their commissions into their three piggies (10-ish% going into the “give,” and the rest split evenly into the “save” and “spend” piggies)

Well, this past week, we decided the kids had earned enough – so we transferred their coins from their “spend” piggies into their clear “spend” envelopes and headed to Target to let them lose in the DOLLAR SECTION! (They each had $1.10 to spend).

IMG_5978

We must’ve spent an hour looking at eeeeevery single toy in those aisles. (aren’t those $1 sections FANTASTIC?!) Maya in particular had a blast playing with the princess wands and headbands while Milo was stuck to a yoyo.

IMG_5983

They each finally decided on their goods – a princess notebook set (that included a pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener, tiny notepad and larger notebook) for Maya and a Thomas the Train game for Milo. They were each $3….(darn you Target!)….but we had already told the kids that they each could pick out ANYTHING in that section, which they did, so to the registers we went!

IMG_5987 IMG_5988

We were lucky to get a lady who was so patient with the kids! We explained what we were doing with them – that the kids had each EARNED their money and using it to purchase their own goodies and she was SO sweet with them – making them feel grown up and didn’t complain at all that they paid with so many dimes.  (Since they each only had $1.10, and their toys cost $3…Marv discretely swiped his debit card to cover the difference for each of the kids 🙂 )

IMG_5991  IMG_5992

Next stop – Target cafe to eat a snack after our long day of $1 section shopping 😉 and to let the kids bust out their new purchases….earned with their COMMISSIONS!

 

 

 

 

 

Mini couponer here!

With all those episodes of “Extreme Couponer’s” nowadays, it gets one thinking “hey, I can do that too!” Or, “One of these days, I will be able to do that!” “Maybe I’ll get around to using a coupon next shopping trip.”  “Wait, how DO I use coupons exactly?” Or perhaps more aptly, “What the heck are they going to DO with ALL THAT STUFF?!”  I have to admit, I’ve thought all of the above at one point or another.

I love saving money where I can (within reason) and for me, couponing is right up my alley! I’ve been using coupons here and there now for years (especially when we lived in FL since things were so much cheaper to begin with, coupon values were higher than here in Hawaii, and subsequently, the deals were SO much better! Moving back to Hawaii, moving while here “in” Hawaii, adding another member to our family, etc etc….I’ve fallen off the couponer bandwagon.  YET, now that things are slowing down and I’ve been getting into a rhythm, I’ve been starting to slowly dip my feet into the coupon craze once again – stocking up on deals as I see them (or read about them). I fully understand that initially, the coupon world is overwhelming, confusing, and perhaps even a bit intimidating, so I want to start sharing my coupon deals when I can to break it down – everyone deserves to get these deals!  SO, here’s what I bought today, spending just $6.91 from one of my favorite stores, TARGET!…

unnamed

Here’s how it breaks down:

– 2 L’Oreal Boost It Mousse $4.49 each
– 4 L’Oreal Lock It Hairspray $3.94 each
– 1 ultra soft, super comfy pair of hot orange lounge pants – on clearance at 70% off – for $7.18 (Yep, these pants alone cost MORE than what I paid out of pocket for EVERYTHING)

unnamed-2 unnamed-3 unnamed-4

Right now at Target, there’s a special where for every L’Oreal advanced hairstyle product you purchase, you would receive a FREE trial sized L’Oreal shampoo or conditioner. I could’t find them for the life of me, so I finally asked a manager and he said that their shipment of those “freebies” hadn’t arrived yet, so in lieu of that, they were taking $1 off of each product (where one of these freebies was advertised) at the registers (since those trial sized items are usually about $1 anyways). SO, this immediately brought the mousse down to $3.49 each and the hairsprays down to $2.94 each. Already pretty good deals!

From this point, without using any coupons, my total out of pocket should have been $26.91. But of course, this is a post about couponing right? So bring on the coupons!

If you go to Coupons.com, you’ll be able to find a L’Oreal coupon for $5 off 2 L’Oreal Advanced Hairstyle products. I printed 3 of these – 2 off of my computer and 1 off of my phone (you can print 2 of the same coupons per device, so I frequently print things from my computer, iPhone, and iPad if I find great coupons!). Since I was buying 6 L’Oreal products, I was able to use 3 of these $5 off coupons for a total of $15 off.  I always make sure to read the fine print on my coupons to make sure that you’re allowed to use multiple coupons in 1 transaction.  (Usually, it’ll state “no more than 4 of like coupons to be used in same transaction”.)  The last discount I used was a $5 off $15 personal care purchase via a Target Mobile coupon. In the personal care aisles at Target, there are signs posted all over the place about how to get these mobile coupons  (text “care” to 827438), then show the cashier the text barcode to scan. SO easy.  Once you sign up for those Target Mobile coupons – you’ll periodically receive texts with new offers. ALWAYS worth a browse….I’ve been able to get discounts on fresh fruits, veggies, paper products, detergents, etc…all on things I was going to buy anyways!

SO, here’s an overview on how my coupons broke down:
– Mousse (x2) – $4.49 x2 = $8.98
– Hairspray (x4) – $3.94 x4 = $15.76
– Super comfy sweats (on clearance) – $7.18
TOTAL before ANY discounts = $31.92

– $31.92-$6 (minus $1 on each L’Oreal product since they didn’t have the free trial sized items w/ purchase) = $25.92
– $25.92-$15 (3 $5 off 2 L’Oreal Advanced Hairstyle coupons) = $10.92
– $10.92-$5 (Mobile Coupon – $5 off $15 personal care purchase) = $5.92
-$5.92 +TAX (however the math for that factors in) = $6.91 TOTAL out of pocket.  Since the pants alone were $7.18 which is MORE than my end total, this means that I actually made money (to use towards those pants) from purchasing these 6 hair products. I’ll take “making” money while shopping anyday! Even if your Target has those trial items in stock (the free gift with purchase) and therefore isn’t taking off the extra $1 per item, you’ll still end up with free trial sized items, and spending about a buck (give or take) on each item.  That’s still a DEAL in my book!

Now, before you go thinking that I’m hoarding hairspray (and mousse), I just wanted to say that they’re not all for me! I barely even use hair product (aside from plain old shampoo/conditioner), but my mom does, and I’ll be delivering all these this weekend to her:
unnamed-1

See, wasn’t that fairly easy? Who wouldn’t want to coupon and get free or super cheap items?! 🙂

Who needs to buy Almond Milk…..

…..when you can make your own anytime you want it!

Now, in this family, we go through almond milk FAST – mainly in our daily Shakeology shakes and with cereal.  (YUM!)  We used to get our almond milk in a 2 pack from Costco for just over $8 (or $4 for each carton).  WELL, a couple months back, we invested in a Vitamix, AND, in the recipe book that came with it, there was a recipe for almond milk! Turns out, it’s as simple as simple comes to make it.  SO, thus began my almond milk making endeavor.  Seriously, it’s SO simple….

First, pick up some almonds.  I like to buy in bulk and get the 3lb bags from Costco for $16.

IMG_4114

Then, I soak them in water for anywhere from 30mins to overnight.  Soaking isn’t necessary since the Vitamix pulverizes everything so easily, but I like to “rinse” or “clean” them just a bit. (I think it yields a smoother, cleaner tasting milk)  Once soaked, discard water.

IMG_4040 IMG_4041

Place in blender.  The Vitamix recipe book almond milk recipe calls for 1 cup of almonds to 3 cups of water.  After making it this way a few times, I realized I like my milk thinned out just a tad more, so I up the water amount to closer to 3.5 cups per cup of almonds.  Even by “thinning” the milk out with the extra water, this recipe produces almond milk that’s stronger, and more almond-tasting than our previous store bought milk!  If using a vitamin, blend on Variable slowly increasing to level 10, then on High for 40-60 secs or until everything looks adequately blended.

IMG_4042  IMG_4043 IMG_4044  IMG_4045

Here’s what it’ll look like all blended up:

IMG_4046

Next, strain the almond milk through a nut milk bag or yogurt strainer.  I use a nut milk bag (purchased on Amazon).  It looks like a super fine mesh or cheesecloth drawstring bag.  Now, some recipes say to just pour the milk into the bag and let it naturally drain through.  Well, I’m just too darn impatient to sit around waiting all day for it to drain on its own! So I let the bulk of the milk drain through for a couple minutes, then – while holding the top of the bag shut – gently twist and squeeze the rest of the milk out.  All that’ll remain is the almond pulp in the bag. (discard pulp and thoroughly wash nut milk bag for next use)

IMG_4047  IMG_4049

This whole process is truly SUPER simple! I’m just trying to outline every step….it really takes just a matter of minutes start to finish.  And, you’re left with fresh, amazingly tasty, homemade almond milk! I store my milk in a sterilite secure top closure pouring jug in the fridge …each batch usually only lasts 2-3 days 🙂  Maya approves of it too!!

IMG_4095  IMG_4096 IMG_4109

P.S. Cost-wise, I’ve figured out that store bought almond milk runs about $0.50/cup.  My home-made milk runs closer to $0.78/cup.  Yikes! BUT…..I’m LOVING the fact that there are NO extra ingredients in this.  It’s amazingly smooth tasting, has an intense almond flavor, and is FRESH.  No preservatives to hold its shelf life (as found in store bought almond milks), and I can make it whenever I want 🙂  I can also play around with the flavor profile – increasing or decreasing the water I add to it (store bought almond milk definitely tastes more watered down compared to “my” version, lol), and I plan on trying a vanilla version soon using pure vanilla extract.  Hey, if Maya loves it, I must be doing something right, right?

* I fully intend on doing an organic version in the future….but those organic almonds are just SO pricey! (like 2x’s the cost….)

Overall review….Both Marv and I (and apparently Maya too now) are loving our homemade almond milk!  I’ve had many cooking/baking/experiementing flops lately. Thankfully, this was not one of them! 😉

 

Fluffy Bum

That’s what I call Monroe when I see her in her cloth diapers 🙂

Backtracking though, when Maya was 5 months old, after some much needed Cloth Diapering 101 info from a fellow military spouse in Florida, I took a leap of semi-knowledgeable faith and started cloth diapering. This time around, with Monroe, I knew from the get-go that I wanted to start her in cloth early on. However, I was weary of washing sticky black tar-ey poo out of cloth diapers (If you’ve ever changed a newborn’s 1st diapers…you know what I’m talking about!) so I intentionally  made the decision to start using cloth on her after the 1 month mark.

Monroe is now 8 weeks old.  Up until the 5 week mark, I used disposables exclusively. (Pampers, if you reeeeally wanted to know 😉 …..I would only buy them with coupons, and stocked them up throughout my pregnancy during sales, etc.)  Ever since her 5 week mark – for the past 3 weeks, she’s been in cloth! ….And I must say, I.Am.Loving.It!

Type of Cloth Diaper
Let’s get back to basics. What kind of diapering system am I using? I am using prefolds and covers. (with Maya I used BumGenius, Alva and Kawaii pocket diapers that required tedious stuffing of the inserts, and a longer drying time)  Prefolds are perhaps the type of diaper that most resemble diapers of long ago – you know, BEFORE disposables? (Did there ever exist such a time?! YES!)  These consist of a soft multi layered cotton cloth that you then fold up to fit inside a waterproof cover.  The cover has snaps and/or velcro that allow for adjusting the size to best fit baby. (I use Thirsties covers)  With this system, when you have a wet diaper, you only need to change the prefold (cloth part) – you can reuse the cover all day long as long as it doesn’t get soiled. If it gets slightly damp on the inside, simply give it a quick wipe, and you’re good to go! But I would hiiiighly recommend changing everything with a poppy diaper. I don’t mess with those… Here’s the covers I use:
unnamed-10
Now that you know the type of diaper I chose to use, I’ll move into how I prepped them, since you MUST prep the prefolds before use otherwise they won’t absorb adequately!

Prepping Cloth Diapers
Now, if you’re like me, the moment your cloth diaper goods arrive in the mail, you’ll want to start using them. Because, you know…a cloth diaper just sitting around waiting to be used isn’t doing anyone any good!  Sometimes I get so excited I tend to skip over a few details, BUT, you NEED to prep them. This is how my prefolds looked when I received them.  I purchased 2 brands: Osocozy unbleached cotton prefolds, and Diaper Rite organic cotton prefolds. 
unnamed-2

unnamed-6 unnamed-7
I made sure to carefully read the packaging care instructions on prepping the prefolds and also did some trusty Google-ing of my own to get the best comprehensive idea of how to prep these.  Good thing I did because I was able to learn a little trick that saved some time and water with my prepping.  Now, what kept coming up over and over in my prepping research was that in order for the prefolds to obtain optimal absorbency, they needed to be washed in VERY hot water.  Most people would just throw them in the washing machine, raise their water heater temp, and let the washer do its thing.  (Keep in mind it’s recommended to wash it this way 2-3 times (drying each time in between).  Well, to cut out 2 of those washing machine washes, I simply boiled my diapers on the stove in the biggest pot we had.

unnamed-3  unnamed-4
I had to do this a few times to get through all the diapers, BUT I didn’t mind at all! I felt so accomplished because as I boiled each batch, I could see the water changing – all of the oils were getting released from the cloth.  Here’s the after shot of the water, so you know what I’m talking about:
unnamed-5
Next came throwing all these “stove prepped” diapers into the dryer – drying them fully, followed by another washing machine (HOT) wash and another dry. Make sure to empty out your dryer filter each time! You’ll be amazed at all the fuzz that comes off of these…  But, it yields fluffed up prefolds – as seen here:
unnamed-8
From the “prepping” process, these prefolds shrunk, quilted up nicely and grew in thickness about 2x’s! (I also gave my diaper covers a quick wash and line dried those to get them ready to use.)

Using Cloth Diapers
Satisfied that my “stash” was fully prepped, it was time to test it out on Monroe!
unnamed-1  unnamed
I’m still learning about this whole process, but the way I use the prefold is to simply fold it into thirds, place it in the diaper cover, fold down the front of the prefold to make sure everything stays contained within the diaper cover, and snap (or velcro) it shut. So far, this is what works for me, and since Monroe’s not yet mobile, I don’t have to really worry about anything shifting or moving.  Within the next month of 2, I intend to start practicing other folds and I do have a couple “Snappies” waiting in the wings too (for securing these various folds that wrap the cloth entirely around baby’s bum)

Overall Review (so far…)
I must say, so far, I am LOVING cloth diapering Monroe with the prefold/cover system.  I tell Marv this all the time, but every time I do diaper laundry (usually every 2 days), I just think “ka-ching, ka-ching” (a money sound in case that wasn’t obvious…lol). Yes, it adds an extra load of laundry onto my ever growing pile of regular laundry, but I actually don’t mind doing laundry and LOVE saving money even more….  And with the price of disposables constantly on the rise (have you noticed how Pampers diapers boxes/bags are getting smaller and smaller yet the prices are going up?! Robbery I tell ya…..) I’m happy to have consistency in our budget.  My initial investment into my cloth diapering “stash” was about $200. This included:
– 24 size 1 prefolds,
-12 size 2 prefolds
– 5 size 1 Thirsties covers
– 4 size 2 Thirsties covers
– 1 Planet Wise large hanging wet bag
– 2 Planet Wise wet/dry medium sized wet bags
– 2 pack of Snappies
– 12 cloth wipes
– 2 spray bottles of cloth wipes solution
I anticipate this “stash” to last me until Monroe is basically out of diapers….maybe with a couple small purchases of extra prefolds, detergent, wipes spray etc. along the way.  But at a cost of roughly $60/month for disposable diapers, I should be breaking even by about the 3 month mark from using cloth, which makes me VERY excited! I’m all for saving the environment (landfills from poopy diapers) WHILE personally saving money! 😉  Marv even says this system so far is WAY easier than the pocket diapers we used on Maya and he has NO problems changing Monroe, although he does tend to lean towards using the velcro covers… 🙂  We’ve had no explosions or blow-outs since using these cloth diapers – everything stays nicely contained due to the elastic around the waist and legs which is GREAT.

All in all, I guess you could say I’m a cloth diaper cheerleader now.  I’m still learning as I go, but if you have ever thought about using cloth, have questions about it, or can even give me some advice, I’m here to help/answer/listen!

 

Not just your ordinary cupcake tin…

About a year ago, at a yard sale, I stumbled across a plain old cupcake tin.  Nothing special to it,  just a regular cupcake pan.  In addition to finding DEALS, I also love to repurpose items!  I quickly envisioned a finger paint holder! (at the time my kids were 1 and 2.5 years old).  Since I was already getting some other toys and books for the kids, I was able to get this beauty thrown in for FREE. Can’t pass on free!  This got packed away as we moved from one house to another – and just recently got pulled out again.  Picking up some inexpensive washable paints from WalMart – this FREE cupcake tin hence became an amazing paint holder!
unnamed-2   unnamed

A cupcake tin, by design, is already segmented – so none of the paint colors get mixed up.  It’s easy for my kids to distinguish which color they want to use, it’s mess free, and increasingly more important —-> re-usable! (vs. having to throw out a paper plate with all the paints on it, etc) Just wash and store until next time!  My 2 year old LOVE painting and this makes it super easy for us both 🙂

unnamed-4   unnamed-1

I mean… just look at her go!

unnamed-7  

Aaaand, the finished product. Her favorite part is helping me hang it up on their artwork wall.

unnamed-6

Another great paint holder would be egg cartons. (Don’t forget to recycle them once you get your painting fix out of them!) Having fun doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg…it just takes some creativity and thinking outside the box!

Now, until my next yard sale find….. 😉

Cartwheeling…

Well, not THAT kinda cartwheel, although it does make me wonder if I can still do a cartwheel these days…  But I’m talking about the Target Cartwheel app!  I’ve briefly heard about the Cartwheel app before, from a website that highlights coupon deals, but I never really looked into it much.  Well, this morning, I saw a Facebook post from that same savings website, and it mentioned that all Target Up&Up brand products were 10% off when using the Carwheel app. SO, I decided, this was just the interesting push I needed to download it.

unnamed

Yes, it’s free to download.  You just need a Target account to log in, and you can begin immediately searching for deals! It’s similar to the Target Coupons site except the coupons from the Target site require you to print them out. Using the Carwheel app, you simply pick deals via the app, and have them scan the barcode on your phone at the register.  (Kinda reminded me of scanning my phone via the Starbucks app at Starbucks to use my Gold card when buying drinks)  

unnamed-1

This app is so easy to use that after running some errands with my family today – and having 2 out of the 3 kids fall asleep in the car (Marv stayed with them in the car) – I was able to make an impromptu trip to Target and add some deals directly while in the store (using Target’s nifty wifi too…).  I originally ran in for a pair of workout capri’s (I already own an all black pair that I LOVE) since they were on sale from $17.99 to $12 this week.  Of course it’s nearly impossible to leave Target with just ONE thing…..I ended up picking up a few other odds and ends along the way too.  Before checking out (since the lines were SOOOO long…on a Sunday, I should’ve known…) I quickly scanned the deals on the Cartwheel app and was pleasantly surprised to find a deal for almost everything in my cart!

unnamed-2

 

Here was my “haul” :
– Blueberry bagels ($1.37)
– Market Pantry brand cream cheese ($2 on sale and 5% off w/ Cartwheel = $1.90)
– Up&Up brand lysol spray ($2.84 on sale and 10% off w/ Cartwheel = $2.55)
– Mirrored edge picture frame (on clearance for $4.78 and 15% off w/ Cartwheel = $4.06)
-Mossimo brand stretchy capri’s ($12 on sale and 15% off w/ Cartwheel = $10.20)
– flossers for the kids ($2.99 regular price)

unnamed-2

My 2 particular favorites were the capris (the only item I actually set out to specifically get…) and the mirrored picture frame.  The capris, as I mentioned earlier, I also own in black. It has a fold over waistband, is stretchy and is SO super comfortable! I use these as lounge around the house pants, AND workout capris.  Since my body is still kind of in an in-between stage after having Monroe, the stretch waistband is perfect! I wore the black pair a TON in my later stages of pregnancy with Monroe and recommend these to anyone who’s pregnant! So comfortable and at only $12, the price is hard to beat….except of course you have the Cartwheel app… Had I known these were an additional 15% off with the app, I very well may have just had to get another pair. 😉  My other favorite item was this mirrored picture frame. I had my eye on it about 2 weeks back when it was marked down at 30% off.  I just couldn’t spend the money on it though. Well, today, when browsing the household goods clearance section, I found this hiding – and marked down to 70% off!!  With the Cartwheel app, add on another 15% off and this became (to me) a steal at just $4.06. It’s so unique and classy looking. Now to just find the right picture for it…

unnamed  unnamed-1

Anyways, at the register after scanning all your items, all you have to do to use your Cartwheel app (after adding all your discounts onto your app beforehand of course) is to show the cashier the barcode on your phone – they scan it, and voila, discounts applied! Today, I saved $2.94. May not seem like a ton, but I was ecstatic! I LOVE saving money and getting deals. Yep, you could say I “won” today at Target 😉  SO, moral of this post = Cartwheel app is amazing, free and so easy to use…if you didn’t know, now you know!

 

One man’s trash…

You know that saying “one man’s  trash is another man’s treasure”? Well….I LOVE finding treasures!  This past weekend, we participated in the MWR Richardson Field Super Garage Sale.  It’s held quarterly on a huge field right across from Aloha Stadium (next to Pearl Harbor). You have to be military to have a booth there, (and it costs about $20 if I remember correctly…all of which goes to supporting the MWR) but anyone can come to shop.

Usually, there’s close to 100 booths (guestimating) but due to a rainy week and overcast morning, not a whole lot of people showed up to sell – perhaps closer to 75? Regardless, rain or shine, LOTS of people came to buy!  In the hectic-ness of trying to set our garage sale booth up and take care of Monroe, I missed taking a picture of the 8am opening mad rush of shoppers, craaaaazyness! but here’s a pic to get the general feel of the sale set-up (the field was set up with about 3-4 long rows with booths on both sides).

unnamed-1

Our booth was filled with random things we found around the house and LOTS of clothes! Man, you never realize exactly how much clothes you have until you start going through it all…  It seemed like every weekend in the month leading up to the Garage Sale, I would take 15-20 mins and sort through my dresser and closet – pulling more and more pieces to sell. It’s hard to part with some items, but I figured if I hadn’t worn it in the past year or two (probably closer to two, since I was pregnant this past year…lol) it was doing no good sitting in the closet and would serve a better purpose bringing in a couple bucks!  With that mindset, purging the closet became SO much easier!  We ended up with a 1/2 filled mini van of odds and ends – LOTS of clothes, toys, kids clothes, shoes, backpacks, books, etc.

Here’s our “booth” 2 hours into the 4 hour sale:

unnamed-2  unnamed-3

We’d already been mostly cleared out so the pics don’t do it justice…but you get the idea 🙂  Monroe was a champ too…she was so content the entire time:

unnamed

When everything was said and done, just from selling our knick knacks and things we weren’t using around the house, we ended up making over $300 profit! WOW. Just goes to show – one man’s trash…

But aside from selling, I loved getting to walk around and browse at all the other booths too (while Marv held down the fort back at our booth).  I wasn’t really in the “buying” mood but I did happen to find this gem at the Girl Scout’s booth – they were fundraising for a Troop trip to Alaska.

unnamed-4  unnamed-5

How much? $1! Yes, that’s right, ONE DOLLAR!  Kids LOVE their new pop up bus play house thing and have been using it daily since. While getting rid of our “trash”….I was able to pick up this “treasure.” Ah, I just LOVE finding deals! 😉

 

 

Taco night on a budget!

Now that Marv’s back from his deployment and it’s not just “me” cooking for the kids – it’s now our “family” eating together again – I’ve decide to get back on track and  implement a monthly meal calendar which will also greatly help with our grocery shopping and food budget!  We’re strong believers in Dave Ramsey and try to budget monthly for everything.  Lately, I’ve fallen off the grocery budget bandwagon so, this is my food budgeting rebirth I guess you could say!

To begin with, I started by purchasing a nice, practical dry erase board from Target ($15).  Then, I looked through our fridge and freezer to see what types of meals I could throw together with ingredients already on hand. (Don’t you just hate it when you forget something’s in the fridge and it ends up going bad? Talk about $$$ going down the drain!) I was able to come up with a weeks worth of meals on hand (give or take) before needing to go to the grocery store again.  (I keep this dry erase meal calendar in my kitchen right next to my fridge for easy meal planning).

unnamed-8  unnamed-9

On tonight’s menu – tacos!  A few weeks back, I purchased a taco kit from the commissary – complete with 6 crunchy taco shells, 6 small soft tortilla wrappers, a salsa packet, and taco seasoning.  Usually I don’t purchase these pre-packaged meals and instead opt for buying it all separately – since it usually comes out cheaper – this time I opted for a quick “convenient” packaged meal….AND it was only $3.  This weekend, on a small Costco for necessities, I also picked up a 4-pack of ground turkey.  Every time I would go to Costco – I would browse the meat section for ground turkey (we don’t eat much meat…but could stretch ground turkey pretty far, and it’s a nice lean protein…).  Anyways, I’ve never been able to find it! I FINALLY found a meat-man putting some meat out, and he pointed me in the right direction. It was under my nose the entire time 😦  I was able to pick up this 4 pack (just under 6lbs) for $16.

unnamed  unnamed-1

Now, I know what you’re thinking – that’s a LOT of ground turkey! But here’s what I did (and what I do with chicken that come in packs like this as well).  I took 8 ziplock bags – folded over the tops to keep them clean, cut each package of meat in 1/2, and placed them in the ziplock baggies – being sure to write the date on each bag heaven forbid they get lost in the bottomless pit of the freezer only to be found months from now…. 😉

unnamed-2  unnamed-3  unnamed-4

And voila! 8 portions of ground turkey in perfect meal amounts (for my family of 4 eaters…baby doesn’t count just yet…)  At just $2 per meal, I would say this isn’t that bad and SO easy to just reach in the freezer and grab one of these baggies to prep dinner!

So, here was our dinner tonight – ground turkey tacos and burritos. It was the kids’ 1st time having “build your own taco night” and they loved it!

unnamed-5  unnamed-7  unnamed-6

Dinner breakdown:
– taco kit $3
– ground turkey – $2
– homegrown tomatoes from my parents’ garden – FREE
– small bowl of cheese – 25 cents?
– 1 head of lettuce sliced up (from Costco pack of Romain lettuce) – $1.25

Total cost of meal: $6.50 
Kids had fun, we all were fully fed and satisfied, and we got our veggies and lean protein in 😉

By planning out our monthly meals on this calendar, I anticipate saving time, money, not having to make as many trips to the grocery store, and not wasting foods/ingredients that we already have on hand.  I plan on having dedicated “leftover nights” as well as “eat-out-on-a-budget” nights!  (Denny’s on Tuesdays from 4-10pm for kids eat FREE meals anyone?)  This will encourage our family to get more creative with meals and think outside the box (especially towards the end of the month if our food budget is dwindling down).

Here’s to no longer standing in front of the fridge thinking “we have nothing to eat”.  All I have to do now is turn to my left, look at the food calendar on the wall, and start fixing whatever it says to fix – since I would have already shopped accordingly and should have all those ingredients on hand!

 

Fun Frugal Find

I LOVE FINDING DEALS. It’s the thrill of the hunt and all the random treasures that you may (or may not) find that draws me in. My favorite thrift store on the island is the Hickam Thrift Store on base due to the constantly new stock, well laid out merchandise, friendly spouse volunteers and GREAT prices! Plus, 100% of the profits go towards charities on island via the Officer’s Spouses Club who runs the thrift store. Since it’s only open M, W, F, Sat (and today’s Thursday…) my mom and I decided to visit 3 other ones today. Visiting THREE was completely by chance since they were all within such a close radius of each other – we simply happened upon two of them while looking for the Goodwill! First up, Salvation Army…..nothing enticing. 2nd stop, Savers…..too expensive and not much stock anyways. Last stop, Goodwill! This was by far the smallest of the three but the one we spent the most time at! The kids and I ventured to the back “kid” area where they had all sorts of goodies while my mom went off to browse at everything else. Kids were in love with all the fun toys and SO well occupied.  I was able to browse through a great selection of baby clothes – all heaped together in a baby crib – and all pieces were 12 for $5. How can you NOT resist that?!  Found some adorable name brand like-new pieces (12 pieces to make use of that amazing $5 deal) AND the kids benefitted from their own amazing deal:

From this cute little seemingly inconspicuous toy kitchen container thing: kitchen 1  kitchen 2

This is what was inside the “container” box thing….kids helped me wash everything:    kitchen 3

And THIS was the end result! All washed, assembled, and ready to play with:
kitchen 4  kitchen 5

I originally just thought it was a container w/ a few play kitchen items in it (since it was completely taped shut – and Milo just LOOOOVES kitchen things, so I was already sold, but once home and assembled, WOW! And did you see that $2.99 price tag on it?!  Yes, this is what I would call a Fun Frugal Find!