Summer Saving: Taking Advantage of SALES!! Part 2

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In my last post, I shared that I bought almost $700 worth of new clothes for just over $220.  And as promised, I will share my secrets to scoring these huge savings!  Get ready.  It’s amazing.  Jk.  but hopefully you will read something worthwhile.

1.   Shop at outlet malls.  There are various articles as to why outlet malls are scams (I’ll let you google those for yourself), but I personally have had great success shopping at outlets.  I love getting really cute, brand name clothes for literally a fraction of what I would pay in store.  The trick is knowing retail prices beforehand, and making sure you are paying less.  Because these stores are some of my favorites to shop at, I know what a pair of jeans, a dress, or knit top run at the retail stores (regardless of what the tag says, as some items are made specifically for the outlet stores).  I made sure that I got a bargain based on what the regular stores would sell the items for.

2.  Vow to never pay retail price.  Regardless of where you shop, make the decision to never pay the full retail price.  In my opinion, the non-sale price is usually wayyy overpriced anyway.  Anytime I walk into a store, I head straight to the clearance section.  I don’t even look at the stuff that’s not on sale, because eventually it will be, and I will get a deal on it then if I still need to buy something.  I literally can’t remember the last time I paid full price for anything.

3.  Know your personal price point.  I already mentioned to know what retail stores charge for apparel.  But it’s also important to know exactly how much you personally are willing to pay for an item.  For me, I will never pay more than $30 for a pair of jeans.  I determined this price based on what I have been able to find in stores, accounting for the fact that I have to purchase petites, and those are harder to find, especially on sale.  If I can find a pair of jeans at $30 or less, you can guarantee I will buy them!  *The ones pictured above were $25 each.

4.  When you find a good deal, stock up!  If you look at the picture above, you will notice I bought multiple colors/patterns of the same items.  For example, the two dresses (identical style, different pattern) retail for $50.  They were on sale for $24, plus an additional 50% off, so I paid $12 each.  I’m pretty sure I can’t get a dress at WALMART for $12, so I bought one in each pattern available.  Same goes for the jeans, cardigans, tshirts, and sweaters–soooo… everything I bought.  I literally got one of everything in the colors that I liked that were still available in my size.

5.  Buy neutral, casual clothes that you can spruce up.  Ok, I don’t have any scientific data to back me up here.  But in my experience, neutral, casual items tend to be less expensive than the super slinky, ruffly, fancy-designs clothes.  I always buy clothes with a simple pattern and usually in a tshirt material.  They are easy to make look fancier by adding the right accessories or dress slacks/skirts, but can also be worn for day-to-day activities.  An added bonus:  since the items are neutral, they can be worn lots of different ways, so your wardrobe options grow a lot!

Bonus!!  Don’t buy at the first store you walk into.  This was a great tip from my husband!  While shopping, compare prices at similar stores, and then go back to make a purchase, after you feel confident you are getting the best deal. When we were shopping, we walked into Ann Taylor first.  I knew going in that Ann Taylor was a little on the pricey side, but I do love their clothes, so we decided to go anyway.  I found 3 shirts there for a total of $40 on sale.  That was slightly more than I care to pay in general for knit tops ($13 including tax), but I thought they were really nice and bought them.  The very next store we walked into (New York & Co.) had similar clothes that were equally beautiful for about $7 apiece.   Had I waited to check out the comparable items at other stores, I probably wouldn’t have bought the Ann Taylor shirts.  I even asked my husband if I could go return the shirts from Ann Taylor, but he said I should keep them anyway, so I did 🙂

So using all of these tips (except for the bonus one that we learned afterward), I was able to find my new wardrobe for less than 1/3 of the retail price.  Hopefully if you need to shop soon, this list will help you do the same!

What are some of your tips to save money while shopping for clothes?  Comment below 🙂

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Ergo Baby Carrier for $67 shipped!

Great deal on an Ergo Baby carrier! $67 shipped!

This carrier is amazing & I wouldn’t survive going anywhere without it for my son! If you’re in the market, or know someone who is, refer them here!!

From Money Saving Mom.

Summer Saving: Saving on Water

Saving on water.  Let me just start by saying that the biggest way my family has cut our water bill was by selling our house with the big yard and built-in sprinkler system.  During the summer, since we live in Texas, we would spend anywhere between $150-200 PER MONTH on water, and our grass was still brown.  I believe in watering the ground, but not at that cost.  So yea, tip number 1, to save money on water, sell your house and get a smaller yard.

Just kidding.

I mean, I’m not, but that’s a really unreasonable thing for me to suggest.  I have a few other things that we have done to save on the cost of water during these summer months.

1.  Take timed showers.  Decide what a reasonable amount of time for a shower is for you and your family, set a timer, and stick to it!  I would suggest setting it on your phone (if possible) so you can set a 5-minute warning timer first, and then have the second and final one go off at your cut-off time.  Or you can purchase one of those sand timers that stick to your shower wall and have a visual reminder.

2.  Don’t let the water run while washing dishes.  I started doing this a few months ago when I realized I spent about 20 minutes per day washing dishes (I happen to let them pile up frequently), which means 20 minutes of mostly wasted water per day.  I decided I would start filling the sink with warm, soapy water instead and use that water to rinse off dishes before going in the dishwasher.  I don’t do this for hand-washed dishes though because that’s gross.

3.  Collect rain water for plants, gardens.  I wish I could count on this in Waco.  I don’t think we get enough consistent rain here in Central Texas for me to be able to do this all the time, but for those of you in climates that actually get frequent rains, this is a great way to keep your plants going.

4.  Don’t play in sprinklers.  For those of you with kids, see if your city has a splash pad you can take your kids to play.  I know in Waco, we have five different FREE splash pads around the various parks in town.  I guess it’s technically not saving actual water consumption, but it will definitely help you save on your personal water bill.

Just a few thoughts.  I’m sure lots of you have great ideas for saving on your water bill.  Leave more ideas in the comments!!

Summer Saving: Make Your Own SPF Sunscreen with Coconut Oil

I found this post a while ago, and thought it would be perfect to share for my Summer Saving series.  Health Starts in the Kitchen shares this recipe for homemade all-natural sunscreen with SPF 20 protection.  See her recipe here.

I calculated the cost for this recipe so you can see the savings.

Coconut Oil, 16 oz.                       $8.99

Shea Butter Lotion, 13 oz.         $8.79

Zinc Oxide Powder, 16 oz.         $11.87

When I did the math to figure out the cost per batch, I discovered you will pay $10.17 for an all-natural, chemical free sunscreen!!

The all-natural brand name suncreen that Health in the Kitchen compares this to is Dr. Mercola.  I found an 8 oz. SPF 30 directly from the Mercola website for $18.97.

This homemade recipe yields 16 oz. and is $8 cheaper!   I will definitely be trying this!

*Edit:  Mercola’s sunscreen costs $2.37/oz.  This recipe is $0.64/oz

Today’s Grocery Run

To begin our celebration of summer (my husband Josh is a teacher, so summer is indeed a celebration), we are going on a mini-vacation/hunting trip.  This was sort of a last-minute decision, so we had very minimal funds in the budget to make this happen…  But Josh was determined that he would get us a hog, and I’m not one to discourage free bacon, so we made a way in our budget.

For the entire trip, including gas, we budgeted $150.  This is for a two and a half day stay at a friend’s ranch that is three hours away.  We are only providing one meal and our stay at the ranch will be worked off by my husband 😉

I needed to make a grocery run because we are providing breakfast on one of the days.  Also, I don’t believe in traveling with cloth diapers and frozen baby food (been there, done that, not doing it again), so I needed to pick up some of those things to make life simple.  Take a look at what I got for just $35!

vacation groceriesFrom left to right:

  • 4 loaves honey wheat bread at 67 cents per loaf (reg. $1.67)
  • Pillsbury cinnamon rolls $2 each (not on sale)
  • Sweet Home Farms granola $4.47
  • HEB Vanilla Greek Yogurt FREE with granola purchase (reg. $3.98)
  • Hill Country Fare 42-pack disposable diapers $4.98
  • HEB coffee $2.68
  • HEB digestive cookies FREE with coffee purchase (reg. $1.98)
  • HEB baby puffs $1.56 each
  • Gerber natural baby food $1.08 per 2-pack (not on sale)
  • 2.77 lbs bananas at 48 cents per pound
  • 1.5 lb bacon $8.78
  • HEB ready made sausage and biscuits FREE with bacon purchase (reg. $2.98)

With coupons and store-brand savings, I saved $19.82.  That means I got $55.51 worth of groceries for $35.69!!

Using $36 of our budget for groceries for the weekend means we still have $114 for gas and enjoying ourselves while we are gone.  Feeling pretty good about that.

 

Summer Saving: Saving on Energy, Part 2

Earlier this week I shared some of the things we do around our house to save on lighting and cooling.  Today is all about saving energy on appliances and electronics.

Let me start by saying that yes, you can save money by purchasing all energy star and HE appliances!   And if you have budgeted to purchase new, energy efficient appliances and other electric items in the house, by all means do so!  It will definitely save you in the long run.  But for those of us who aren’t in that same place, here are some ideas on how to save on appliances and electronics without having to invest anything.

1. Lower the temperature on your water heater.  I have read that for every 10 degrees you turn down your water heater, you will save between $12-30 annually.  While that’s not huge (a dollar per month barely seems worth it), when you do this in addition to lots of other small energy saving changes, it starts to add up!

2. Turn off the heated dry setting on your dishwasher.  I did this a few months ago.  I’m totally not the person who wants to stand at the sink for an extra ten minutes to hand-dry all of my dishes… so when the dishwasher finishes, I just open it and let the dishes air dry.  I know myself and I don’t unload the dishwasher immediately anyway.  So at least this way I have an excuse as to why I’m not unloading it…  or so I tell myself 😉

3.  Use hot water for laundry sparingly.  I do about 5 loads of laundry each week.  One load for my husband’s and my clothes, one load of our son’s clothes, and then usually 2-3 loads of diapers (we use cloth diapers).  The only thing that always gets washed in hot water is the diapers.  With the rest of our laundry, I give it a once over to see if it will work to just use cold water, or if it needs a little temperature boost to help get rid of stains, etc.

4. Don’t preheat the oven.  I have never done this mostly because I always thought it was a wasted step anyway.  For those of you who actually know what you’re doing in the kitchen– if you know why a preheated oven is important, then please tell me.  But until I figure out if it’s actually necessary, I don’t plan on doing it.  Using the oven is already going to heat up your house.  Leaving it on for longer will just give it that much more time to get warm.  At least that is my reasoning.

5.  Shut down the computer and turn off the TV.  We have a habit in our house of leaving the computer on all day (and sometimes all night).  In fact, after I finish this blog post, I’m guessing I will walk away and forget to shut down, even after writing this!  I also like to have something on TV as background noise while I do housework.  These are a waste of energy, obviously, since the electronics are running when no one is using them.  I am still working on this one, but I’m committed to doing it 🙂

That’s all I’ve got for today.

If you have other ideas on how to save on energy during the summer, share in the comments!!

New Series–Stay Tuned!!

This week I will be starting up a new series.  Still working on a title more awesome than “Summer Saving Series…” because that is not awesome at all actually.

But as the current working title suggests, I will be sharing some things that we have implemented over the years to save during the summer months.  Topics will include saving on utilities, family activities/vacations, personal pampering, gift giving, holiday celebrations and more!  I am super excited to save with you this summer!

I will also be sharing some content from other bloggers as well.  If you have a post you think would be helpful and would like for me to share with my readers, let me know in the comment section!

Series begins on Thursday.  See you then 🙂

 

The Price Book by Kansas City Mamas

This info about The Price Book by Kansas City Mamas is so awesome.  Kelly, the woman behind Kansas City Mamas, shares information about how to get the absolute lowest prices on your most purchased grocery items without clipping coupons.  This is so brilliant I can’t get over it.  I am starting this on our next budget!!

See the original post here.

How to create a price book

Home Made All-Purpose Floor Cleaner

By now I think everyone knows I like making my own cleaners.  Not only do I think it’s a lot of fun, it also saves a lot of money.  And any extra money we can save all goes toward paying off our (my) school debt.

I have been trying to find a hardwood floor cleaner since we moved into our new house.  The floors in here are the original hardwoods (which means they’re 71 years old).  They also need to be re-finished, but that is not a priority on our list of projects right now.  The former owners left several different wood floor cleaners under the kitchen sink, so I have slowly but surely been trying them all out to see which one I like the best on these old floors.  And after trying them all, I haven’t been satisfied with any of them.  The floors never really feel very clean and several of them leave little water marks where the liquid initially touched the hardwood… I think because the finish is basically worn off in a lot of areas.

So my mission has been to find something that actually makes the floors feel clean and doesn’t leave behind water marks.  and I found that cleaner this weekend.

I was originally introduced to the amazing-ness of liquid Castile soap by my sister-in-law.  We recently visited her family and she told me about how she made her own liquid hand soap and dish soap using this product.  For those that don’t know, Castile soap is an olive oil based soap.  Because of this, you can literally use it for everything, from hair and body to dishes to washing produce to cleaning your house.  It is not that cheap per ounce (my 32 oz. bottle was $11.99), but it is intended to be diluted with any use, so that brings the cost down a bit.

This floor cleaner can be used on any type of floor (wood, tile, vinyl, laminate).  However, I strongly recommend testing it on an inconspicuous spot before committing just to be sure you get the results you are hoping for.

all purpose floor cleaner recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup liquid Castile soap

8 cups (1/2 gallon) water

Based on my other cleaning recipes, you probably know that I like to keep things simple.  Just pour the ingredients into a bucket and start mopping.  I only did 1/2 gallon of water and I felt like it cleaned our entire 1400 sq ft house pretty well.  Feel free to use more or less based on the area you are cleaning.

A few side notes:

  • One thing I noticed and that I plan on adjusting for later is that this soap gets very foamy.  I had to mop over each area a couple of times to make sure the foam was wiped up.  I plan on trying this recipe with 1/4 cup of the soap mixed with the same amount of water next time.  I will update this post after I have some tangible results.
  • Another thing– I wanted to get an unscented soap, but couldn’t actually find one at our local drugstore.  I ended up getting peppermint, but the smell really wasn’t strong and didn’t leave a lingering aroma as I was mopping, so I really liked that.
  • And finally, I really loved that I could use this throughout our entire house.  We have tile floors in our bathrooms and hardwood in the rest of the house.  It had been bothering me that I would have to use one cleaning solution for the bathrooms and a separate one for the rest of the house, but with this recipe, I can just make one batch and use it everywhere.  It is awesome.

Enjoy 🙂

A (Possible) Solution to Our Never-Ending Naptime Saga

For those of you that know anything about my family, you have probably heard me talk about our Never-Ending Naptime Saga.  The gist of it is our son doesn’t nap.

The more detailed version is that since he was about 2 weeks old, we have struggled with naps.  We have literally tried everything.  Part of the problem is our son is very alert, so it takes him a long time to settle down.  Also, he is used to running on fumes, so to speak, so he will literally go 6-8 hours without a nap, and be completely happy.  He doesn’t even fuss.  But then when 6:00 pm rolls around, he starts to lose it and we all pay for the fact that he hasn’t napped well.

BUT

I think I have found a solution to this problem.  First of all, the munchkin’s room already has thermal light-blocking curtains, but because of the moulding on the bottom of the windows, they don’t lie flat, so his room is still pretty bright.  bright nursery

This morning, was a really cloudy, rainy day, and his room was super dark, like it would be at about 7 pm.  When I put him down at 9 for his morning nap, he went right to sleep and slept for TWO. WHOLE. HOURS.  Yea.  You read that right.  Two hours.  My baby.  Yep.  I’m in as much shock as you are.

When I put him down for his afternoon nap though, it was a completely different story.  The rain had cleared up a little at that point, and his room was its usual brightness.  No nap.  Which got me thinking…  Maybe he just needs it to be really, really, REALLY dark in there.  So I started doing some research to see where I could get some light-blocking window treatments to go directly onto the window.  Unfortunately, these treatments were really expensive.  As in $30 per window.

This kid has 3 windows in his room and I was not about to spend $90 that we really don’t have and didn’t budget for on something I figured I could DIY for cheaper.  So, here is my easy guide to creating seal-able room darkening window treatments.

supplies

 

The only two items I had to buy were shower curtain liners (yes, it’s from Walmart… I actually stuck to my budget though because I was on a mission!!) and self-adhesive velcro.  I wanted to buy strips of velcro so it would seal all around the window, but that wasn’t very budget friendly.  I decided on these velcro circles instead. Also, I didn’t want to commit to darkness 24/7, and the velcro makes it easy to remove to clean windows, or just to enjoy the daylight.

I’m not very detail-oriented, so I just stuck the velcro on the edges of the window frame and stuck the shower curtain directly on it and then trimmed the edges to fit the window.  No measuring or anything that involves brain power.

The cost of this project was about $20 to cover 3 windows.  It took me about 15 minutes to finish the whole project.  I tried to take an after photo, but couldn’t because his room was too dark!!  Now it’s just a matter of time to see if he is able to sleep!!

It also occurred to me once I got home that I probably could have purchased a large tarp from the hardware section, which may have saved me more money.  Oh well.