Saturday, October 31, 2015

Eating on a Dime: One Meal to Save you Money

Today I made this yummy split pea soup! I used half of the split peas in this bag so the split peas themselves cost $1.10. 

Yesterday, I used up some ham that I had packaged up that I wrote about in another blog.

I used the meat for sandwiches for 6 people yesterday and then I used the rest of the bone in part to boil into this soup. It was $1.58 lb and this part with the bone was probably two pounds when I pulled it out of the freezer so once the meat was cut off for sandwiches, let's say one pound, is a total of $1.58 for the ham. 

                                     I used old bacon fat to add that I had saved and frozen.

I added celery flakes, garlic, salt and pepper. 

After yesterday's sandwiches, these were leftover so I warmed them up to go with the soup for .45.
 I served them with homemade pickled okra and cheese. The cheese I had gotten on sale $4.98 for 2 lbs and we used it to sprinkle on the soup. We ate about half of the soup tonight and have half leftover for tomorrow's meal! So, altogether, this meal for tonight cost about $2.54 total and it served 4 people which comes up to .64 a serving! Making an inexpensive meal like this every week, if you are used to paying $10.00 per meal can save you almost $30.00 in one month!

Happy Savings!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

How a Four Day/Three Night Trip Cost Less Than $300.00 Including Gas and Meals!

My husband and I just had a four day/three night trip for less than $300.00 total, including the cost of the gas to get there! This is something I do on a regular basis and anyone can do it with a little planning.

First, I prepare a travel folder. This does take some time. I usually spend about 4 hours on preparing a travel folder every trip we go on. This was was a little easier because we decided to not do a whole lot but to just take it easy.

First, I did a search on for a hotel. I decided to look for one that had an indoor swimming pool, hot tub and breakfast all for a great price. I didn't choose the city first but looked at a few cities and did some price checking. I found one hotel that the price looked right but it didn't look nice at all. So, I kept looking until I found a real nice Econolodge on Trivago. Here is the breakdown of the prices Wed night $47.99/Thurs night $47.99/Fri night $55.99/Taxes $23.56 for a total of $175.53 on the hotel. This hotel also had a mini-refrigerator and microwave in the room which I count as a great bonus so all meals don't have to be eaten out.
For lunch the first day, we ate before we left the house. Then later on, had an ice cream snack on the road. This time of year I have a birthday so I use birthday coupons from restaurants to save money. You have to sign up for these deals. I usually use a separate email account for these so I don't get so much spam. One of these was a buy one get one free blizzard from Dairy Queen.
I also had a gift card that my daughter gave me and so these blizzards cost me $0.00. If I get gift cards, I tend to save them for vacations.

I had a coupon for supper that night at a nice supper club. I have mixed reviews for The only reason I bought coupons from them is that I got an awesome deal a few years ago where I could get $25.00 coupons for $2.00 each and they never expire and they can also be exchanged so I bought $40.00 worth! We have had many very nice meals with these at places that were not just nice as far as food, but atmosphere and experience. However, this one was a dud. We went to the supper club and when we walked in, there was a sign that said they were no longer taking coupons but the place looked nice and was quite busy and reasonably priced so we decided to stay. No one greeted us or seated us, so eventually we seated ourselves. Two couples came in after we did and they were brought drinks. No one, however, came up to our table. After sitting there for about 10 or 15 minutes, we decided to leave. No one even noticed! At this point, it was getting late and my system was not wanting food as much so we got something off the dollar menu at Burger King. This cost $6.67. This was quite disappointing but we knew we had a couple more days to eat well.

Every day, the breakfast at the hotel was decent. And every day it was free!

For lunch the second day, we decided to eat at Golden Corral. Lunch at Golden Corral is a fair amount less than dinner so we went for lunch for this reason. We love Golden Corral and there is not one where we live so if we find one where we vacation we always go. Golden Corral has a club sign up and you can get a Buy one Get one free for your birthday, but I didn't know this until after my birthday. I did get a free beverage coupon for signing up. We walked to the restaurant but I forgot the coupon so I didn't even get to use it! But, we almost always get water at restaurants and so we just did the usual. We usually squeeze lemon into our water. When we were there, my husband noticed that they have little to-go boxes that you can fill on your way out (after meal purchase) for $1.99 each. We got two of them to put into the refrigerator for lunch the next day so the total for this meal plus to go boxes was $22.22. We were still full at supper since we ate about 2:00 so we popped some popcorn around supper time and went for a hot tub and swim.

These to go boxes fit an amazing amount of food in them so for lunch the next day we had a plate full of food and we still had some left to take home. Here is our lunch in the hotel room heated by the microwave.
We went to an amazing historical place and that cost $5.00 each for a total of $10.00.
For supper that night, we went to Red Lobster. My sister had given us a $25.00 gift certificate (thanks, Sis!) and I had a $4.00 off two entrees coupon. Red Lobster has this really great 4 course meal with Soup/Salad/Entree/Dessert plus all you can eat biscuits for $16.99. My husband and I both ordered this so with the gift certificate and coupon it cost us $6.48 plus tips!

(Sorry, I took a bite before I took the photo!)

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing.

The hotel had a pool table and exercise room so after breakfast the fourth morning, we played a game of pool and used the weight room. We also used the hot tub and swam before packing to leave.

On the way home, we stopped at Old Country Buffet as I had a Buy One Get One Free Coupon for the buffet for my birthday. Lunch is always less and so the buffet cost $8.96 total.

Gas for the trip was about $62.00. This would have been less had I driven my Prius (which gets about 50 MPG) but my husband wanted to take his truck because there was a tractor implement he wanted to buy where we were vacationing and his truck gets 19 MPG.

So, all told, this trip cost less than $300.00, was a great time, with great food and very relaxing. Plus, we have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow!

Happy Savings!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How to Save Money on Heating Costs

Put your house in a scarf!

Heating costs can eat up a lot of money in the colder months, especially in colder climates. There are a number of ways to save money.

1. Turning down the heat is an obvious step but an even better one is turning down the heat and buying a programmable thermostat that turns the heat down for you when you are sleeping and/or away. This way, you can turn up the heat shortly before you get up or get home so you never really feel the temperature change, but you can save a lot by doing this even though you will need to make a small initial investment of a programmable thermostat. You can buy programmable thermostats for around $40-$70 and save between 10% and 20% on your heating costs. When you figure out how much you spend on heating per month, and shave 10%-20% off, that is cash in your pocket!

2. Using humidifiers is not only good for your health but makes the room feel warmer so you can have the temperature at a lower setting.

3. Turn your ceiling fan blades to blow up in the winter, so the air is not blowing on you but blowing the hot air down to you.

4. A lot of heat escapes out of windows. Clear plastic sheeting can be purchased to apply to the windows to form a air barrier to keep warm air in. A very cheap way that I have seen some do this (although it is not beautiful but practical) is to simply take bubble wrap and a spray bottle and squirt water on the window and affix the bubble wrap. Another way to save money if you don't want to spend the money on clear plastic is to cover your window with blankets put up with tacks.

5. Don't use exhaust fans in the winter.

6. There are filters made for dryers so you can blow the dryer air into your house rather than outside. I personally have never found one that keeps the dust down but there may be one out there.

7. You can make your doors draft free with weatherstripping.

8. Open your oven door after baking.

If all of these suggestions are done, it will make a difference on the monthly bill! Pennies turn into dollars and dollars turn into great savings!

Happy Savings!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Stock Up on Groceries Now! Make $30.00- $60.00 /Hour!

This time of year is right after harvest in many part of the US, which means that a lot of groceries go on sale as processors move their products out. I got some great deals today. Many of you also know that I do ad match at Wal-Mart I also hit the bakery reduction cart every week. I didn't have time to take photos of every single item I got a deal on this week so I wanted to write up a list. When I find deals like this I stock up so I hardly ever have to buy anything at full price! Here are some of the deals I got today:
The rolls you see above, normally $2.28 for .68. ($2.28/.68)
Lemon cake, $4.92/$1.48 
Tuna Fillets $9.97/$6.95
Haddock $8.74/$5.94
 Trout $9.98/$5.94
Split Pea Soup/Bean and Bacon Soup $1.25/$1.00
Gallon Apple Cider $4.99/$2.99
 Cake Mix $1.28/.68
Spaghetti Noodles $1.29/.68
Tortilla Chips $2.98/$1.68
Mushrooms .68/.58
Chicken Broth $1.19/.58
Tomato/Children Noodle Soups .78/.38
Green Beans .78/.38
Chili Beans .78/.48
1/2 Gal Orange Juice $1.78/.98
8 oz Kraft Shredded Cheese $2.29/.99
Kemps Gal. Chocolate Milk $5.28/$2.99
2 lbs Shredded Cheese $7.98/$4.98

I stocked up! I get deals like this every single week! On average, I save probably $30.00 a week (this week, I'm sure it was more!) It takes me about 30 minutes to an hour total to scan the ads and get them ready plus doing the price checks at the store and checkout time. This is $30.00 a week for 30 minutes to one hour of my time! 
Although ad match is done at Wal-Mart, most grocery stores have some great sales this time of year on many different items so check out your local grocery stores. 

Happy Savings!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hotel Savings!

Normally when we travel, I have used Priceline to book our hotel. After having a couple of negative experiences with them, I decided to shop travel differently. Priceline has a feature called "Name Your Own Price". This feature is good if you don't care what amenities your hotel may have. You can choose how many stars your hotel has but in my experience, you don't always get what you ask for. The deal on Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" is that once you get the hotel, you are locked in and there is no backing out. And when they say "no backing out", they mean it.

I did a "Name Your Own Price" with Priceline and asked for at least a 2 star hotel. The price I got was very good, however, the hotel itself was definitely not a 2 star. Not only that but the hotel was cheaper on another site where I didn't have to take the hotel blindly. I complained to Priceline. They matched the other site's price but when I told them about the reviews on this hotel and said it was not a 2 star, they refused to budge. So, I was stuck. I told them I usually use Priceline but that after this, I was trying other avenues and they didn't care. So.....this time I tried another avenue,

I found a really neat site called trivago.

When you are getting ready to travel, you can type in the city and what amenities you want. Then, trivago searches all the hotel websites for best prices. 

We are getting ready to take our fall vacation soon. I searched a few cities on trivago and found a really nice hotel with a pool, whirlpool, breakfast, and exercise room for only $51.00 per night. I was able to see all the photos before choosing the hotel and knowing they have breakfast can be a great money saver. They had a picture of the breakfast bar so I know it is more than a granola and an apple with coffee. :) 

I have gotten hotels for about $42.00 a night on Priceline, which is a great deal but you are not guaranteed breakfast which can definitely cost more than $9.00 per day depending on which route you take. You are not guaranteed a pool which I really wanted as well and know I got with trivago. 

So far, I like trivago because you can see all the hotel prices side by side and I don't have to call and haggle if I found out the price was lower elsewhere. So, I booked our hotel for $51.00 a night through expedia and I know I got what I wanted.

Happy Savings!