Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving and Christmas Season: Stocking Up on Baking Supplies Saves $$

I should have done this blog a couple of weeks ago but time has a way of getting away. From a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving until Christmastime, I save a lot of money by stocking up on baking supplies. There are also other types of foods you can stock up on this time of year as well, like turkey, cranberry sauce, and the like.

This time of year, I buy all the baking supplies on sale I can and then I use them for the next 6 months or so. Most stores have a limit on the sale items you can get so I buy a lot and stock up. As an example of the savings I get, above you see:

Gold Medal Flour .99

Sugar 4# .99

C&H Pure Cane Brown Sugar $1.27

Hershey's Chocolate Chips .99

Canned Pumpkin: .63

I'm not even sure how much these items cost at full price, but I am going to guess I saved at least $4.00 on these few items. Since I buy this type of item whenever they are on sale and stock up, I probably save the $4.00 times 6 on the items above ($24.00) plus whatever I save on items like powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk (which can actually be made with powdered milk!), cake and brownie mixes, crackers, and on and on. This time of the year is the time to buy these types of items. It is NOT the time of year to buy most Christmas presents and decorations. So, if you can get the when to shop down, the extra costs on stocking up for groceries this time of year does not become too taxing.

Here's to a full pantry and a happy holiday season. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Secretly Stretching Milk, Almond Milk and Juice: Snicker While You Save

For years, I have been stretching the juice, milk and almond milk in my house. I started doing this secretly because I was afraid the kids (husband too) would say "Mom! What are you doing?? Now it tastes funny!!" and the like. Much of that is psychological. So, I just did it in stealth mode. When I knew nobody was going to be around, like a ninja I would take milk out of the fridge and fill the jug back up. Of course, you can only do that so much before someone WILL notice for real.

This is a gallon of whole milk. I hardly use milk in my house anymore as we have switched over almost completely to almond milk (the angels sang hallelujah at that feat!). But we used to go through A LOT of milk. So, when the jug would get probably a little lower than shown above, I would fill it back up once and shake it. When you consider the price of milk and how much we used, I am sure I saved a few hundred dollars doing this. The above jug would then look like the one below:

I add water to almond milk and cashew milk now. I do it so it is hardly noticeable because I don't want to notice either. I have thinned juice since the kids were very small. When you consider that this also cuts down on sugar intake, it not only saves money but it is better for everyone as well. Oh, and I don't do it secretly anymore! Happy saving!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Old Gray, The Truck: Almost 19 Years, 118,036 Miles, $16.37 a Month. .03 a Mile

The Old Gray Truck, she ain't what she used to be. My husband bought this truck 18 years and 10 months ago. We sold it this morning. We both literally had tears in our eyes. Okay, that's a little embarrassing, but we had Old Gray for a long time.

My husband paid $5,500.00 for this 1989 Toyota 4WD pick-up truck in 1996 when we lived in Oklahoma. Of course, it looked a lot better then. This old truck hit three deer and never left us stranded one time. Front panels were replaced, bumpers and other parts replaced, but Old Gray just kept on a-going. About 18 months ago, after Old Gray just about lost a trailer on the road, we decided to fix her up one last time. We said we were going to drive it briefly but then had a goal to buy a newer one in a year or two.

We paid cash for Old Gray when we bought it, so Old Gray never had any payments. My husband just sold her for $1800.00 this morning. So, it cost us $3700.00 to drive Old Gray for almost 19 years. That doesn't include insurance and registration etc. but you get the idea. Old Gray was a work truck, not a truck we used for driving around, at least not in later years. Old Gray moved us 6 times and my daughter 4 times. Old Gray hauled many tractors that my husband bought and sold and used for plowing and grading. Old Gray took us camping. Old Gray took my husband hunting and hauled many deer home for us.

$5,500.00- $1800.00= $3700.00. That is .03 a mile.

Goodbye, Old Gray, you were a good ol' pick-up truck.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Give Yourself a .06 Cent an Hour Raise Tax Free for a Family of Four! Low Flow Shower Heads.

There are so many variables with this I almost don't know where to start. There are many, many kinds of shower heads. In addition, some heat with gas and some electric. However, I do know this: a low-flow shower head will save you money.

According to this article, you can save up to $32.50 per year per person in your family by switching to a low-flow shower head. There are a lot of nifty facts in this article to help you see the facts and figures on this topic.

If you want to be super duper frugal and save the most you can, you could purchase a navy shower head. You can turn the flow of water off with these so you can suds up with no water running. Personally, I'm a little more spoiled than that, but somebody might love this idea!

On a very quick google search, I see low flow shower heads from $9.62 (navy head) to $62.04. If you had a family of four and have an electric water heater, and you installed a low flow head  for $62.04, according to the facts and figures in the linked article, you will have paid off the shower head in about 6 months. After that, you would save $130.00 a year every year! That's about a .06 an hour raise for the year, tax free!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Buying Off Season: Three Bags of Candy for .25 each

One of the best ways to save money is to buy off season. This candy was marked down last week but I didn't buy any. I took my chances and waited to see if I could get some at rock bottom prices. Today I was at the store and BINGO! I got:

1 bag jelly pumpkins 1 lb. 2 oz for .25

1 bag peanut butter kisses 13 oz. for .25

1 bag 18 oz Autumn Mix for .25

They were just marking them down when I was there and I could have bought a whole lot more but it's not really a good idea to have that much candy laying around. :)

I buy most things off season this way, like decorations, wrapping paper etc. Autumn after autumn, Christmas after Christmas etc. The main thing is getting used to switching things around. After Halloween is probably the best candy buying time. The day after is probably best for chocolate etc. and you can save it in your freezer and take it out when you want some (sorry for not doing a blog on this earlier when the candy sales were really going on). This year, I didn't buy any but what you see above and it's 11/13, so you can get some later on but this will likely be the end of autumn candy sales.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How I flew to Santa Cruz, California for $0.00

Some of you know I just got back from Santa Cruz. Of course you didn't really think I paid for that, did you? No, of course you didn't! :)

We have an airline miles card. Some of them are better than others, but we like to have one with no annual fee. Right now, we have a Capital One Venture card. I use this for my online business to make purchases and we also use it for some other purchases as well. For this, we get airline miles. We pay this card off every month to make sure that we never have any interest or fees to pay. We make sure just get perks.

Here is a list of airline miles cards you can get:

Here is another site that may also be of help:

I frankly find it very difficult to compare one card to another. I'm sure there is a way to do this but things vary so much from card to card I find it very hard to compare. Maybe some of you have some good pointers on that.

So, after we rack up miles for quite a while, we use this to take trips with. So far, my husband and I have gone to Savannah, Georgia together for free and my son and I went to Washington DC for a total of $70.00 one year. 

This year, my husband and I would like to go someplace warm together this winter. Since I used some miles already, it's hard to say how close to free we can get, but we will try and see what we can do. I think the main thing to remember is to always, always pay off the card every month, or there is a good chance you can go backwards and end up paying more than you might save on a trip. 
Happy travels. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Saving Money Making Your Own Mix Recipes

There are many ways to save money making your own mixes. This does take time. However, once the mixes are made, you can just grab and use. Here are a few mixes that you can make. Many more can be found online. Back in the olden days, pre-internet, I was thrilled to find this thrifty cooking book at a garage sale, when recipes weren't at your fingertips.

Here is one for a brownie mix. I have also included a link to a recipe online for easy bookmarking:

You can make your own taco mix! For this, I would recommend buying the spices at a bulk food store. Bulk food stores usually sell spices very inexpensively. The price range on spices can be pretty big between regular stores and bulk food stores. You also know exactly what goes into your mix and can eliminate MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) and things like that.

Instant cocoa for those cold winter months! There are a lot of different recipes for this, some with powdered sugar and creamer and some not. You can experiment and see what you like best!

Biscuit mix!

There are so many money saving recipes at your fingertips! Anything you can thing up can simply be looked up online and it will likely be right there. I hope you have fun with these and save some money to boot!