Friday, February 19, 2016

How a 3 Night Stay in a 2 Bedroom Duplex and Winter Fun Cost $259.00 vs $1225.00

My husband and I just got back from a great 4 day/3 night winter vacation! We had a blast! Check out the great accommodations! 

 The total cost for this trip was $259.00. Normally, this trip could have cost us about $1225.00. First of all, I am signed up on This is a great site that gives great deals on things. All you have to do is sign up and get email notifications. The resort we stayed at was offering a $705.00 vacation stay for only $149.00 plus a $50.00 coupon dinner voucher. This time, there was a catch. We had to sit through a 90 minute timeshare presentation. There was an income requirement and a few other minor requirements. You may feel that you wouldn't want to do that, but we look at it as being paid $556.00 for 90 minutes of our time, which is a great rate of exchange! We did learn a lot about timeshares but we didn't buy. We learned enough in that timeshare presentation to now research timeshares and see if we can't find a great buy on a used one though. They wanted about $13,000.00 for a timeshare but after we left the presentation, we saw there are timeshares for sale on ebay for $1.00 so if we were truly interested, we could buy one on the used market. There is no obligation to buy. Anyone can sit through a presentation and say no if they want. The company is giving the great deal because they are taking the risk you will want to buy. Timeshares bought new are usually not a good deal. Buying timeshares on the used market might be for the right person. Sitting through a presentation is like taking a class if you are interested and, if not, you got a great vacation for 90 minutes of your time. If you are someone who can't say no, this is probably not something you want to do.

We had an awesome meal with the $50.00 voucher for dinner. My husband had Canadian Walleye and I had Shrimp Scampi and we split with each other so we could each try both. Total cost for this meal to us was $12.97 with taxes and tip. For our other meals, except one, we had a full kitchen so we brought food and ate in. We spent about $25.00 on food whereas if we ate out we may have spent about $125.00 or even more for the trip (I figured it at $125.00 for the larger trip cost). We did eat at one local place on the way home. We could have gotten $1.00 burgers at McDonalds but decided we could both have a nicer meal and support a local restaurant at the same time, so we decided to do that. That cost $20.77 with tip.

We trailered our snowmobile up and had fun riding it! This cost us more in gas than driving our car. We spent about $46.50 in gasoline altogether. If we had rented a snowmobile, it would have cost us $249.99 for 2 days.
 We had buy one get one free Dairy Queen Blizzards because I had a coupon. This cost us about $4.00 instead of $8.00.

We went cross country skiing/snowshoeing. We went on free trails rather than the ones you had to pay for saving us $24.00. We also brought our own equipment so we paid nothing for those (except initially). Rental would have been $40.00.
We love massages too! A massage for both of us for 30 minutes would have cost us $100.00 but for us it was free because I simply brought a bottle of oil and we gave one to each other! Very relaxing after using the Jacuzzi tub in the duplex!

So, we had a great time and with a little forethought it cost very little. The prep work on this didn't take too much because all I had to do was buy the groupon and get the dairy queen coupon off my email (I am signed up to their website and they give deals regularly.) I don't think I spent anymore time prepping for this trip than I would have otherwise. The only real work put into it was bringing the food and preparing it. The only way it could have been better is if the friends and family we invited could have made it!

So, sitting through a timeshare presentation can be a great way to get a great vacation for 90 minutes of your time. Just be prepared and if you are someone who can't say no, this vacation could cost you a lot so think it through before you sign up.

Happy Savings!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Clearance Bonanza! Shop Clearance to Save Lots of Money! Make $57.21 Per Hour (More or Less!)

I got a ton of things last week on Clearance at Wal-Mart and Wal-Greens. I love finding things on clearance that I will eventually use anyway and even a few things that are just nice to have. February is typically a great month for clearance. Most times I shop, I breeze past the clearance aisles. Very often, I buy nothing. The reason for this is I often find the prices to be what I have called for many years "pretend clearancing". This is when the store wants to get the items gone but are not lowering the prices too much yet. However, last time I went by the aisles, they were serious about getting rid of the items. Stores often want to get rid of inventory in the February to April range for tax reasons, so it is a good idea to have some money set aside for clearance items during this time.

Here are some of the items I got:

Hat: (Normally $6.75 Now: $1.00) $6.75/$1.00
Patio Cleaning Sponge: $5.00/$1.00
Bandage Wrap: $3.50/$1.00
Crest Sensi-Stop Strips $14.88/$1.00
Safe Harbor Natural SunScreen: $7.97/$1.00
Natural Dramamine (4) $4.88/ $1.00
Bi-Fold Door Repair Kit $4.97/$1.00
Pool Repair Kit $4.97/$1.00
Biotin $10.88/$5.00
Oral B Toothbrush Pack $4.88/$1.00
Acetaminophen $8.79/$1.09
Gift Card Holders $1.96/ .50
Vitamin C $4.44/$2.00
Cinnamon $4.88/$2.00
Lip Balm (2) $2.97/$1.00
Reach Floss $4.88/$1.00
Gift Tags $2.84/$1.00
Flax Seed (2) $5.84/ $1.00
Act $4.97/$1.00
Oral Relief Spray $5.79/$3.49
Beef Jerky (2) $6.99/$2.99

I added these up at the regular price and it came to $153.47. I spent $39.06. This is a difference of $114.41. I spent about 30 minutes extra in the store looking at clearance items. This amounts to $57.21 an hour I was paid to shop the clearance aisle! Now, someone may ask, "But do you really need these items?" I only purchase items that I will very likely use. My husband uses Dramamine, for example, and I like that this is natural. I happen to have a bi-fold door that needs repairing. We set up a pool in the summer that sometimes need repairs etc. I don't like to buy things I won't use. But I believe I will use every one of these items eventually. I get paid to take the risk that I will use these products and store them until I do.

Making a habit of stopping in the clearance sections of stores can help you know when something is really a good clearance buy. I am very happy with these purchases and know they are a great bargain.

Happy Savings!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Saving Money on Eye Exams and Glasses

It's that time for me again. If you are like me you hate forking over all that money for your new pair of glasses. Especially for those of us who now need bifocals or trifocals, it gets very expensive!

I don't have insurance for eye exams or glasses so I like to shop around. Today, I was going to make an appointment at the Wal-mart eye center because that is where I usually buy my glasses. I asked how much for the eye exam and was told $79.00. Hmmm... I just remembered that I saw an advertisement for a $29.00 exam at Visionworks. So, I looked online and, sure enough, a printable coupon for my area. So I made an appointment and will get the exam for $29.00.

At you have to punch in your zip code to look at the local offers. There are also some more deals for glasses there but last time I went, I was unable to find a pair I liked. Some people can look good in many pairs of glasses. Me, I only look good in one or two pairs after looking at many stores. My face is very small so I have to look hard.

Wal-Mart usually has some very good deals on frames and lenses and I usually get my glasses there. I suggest starting at the lowest price area. If you can't find anything there, look at a higher price, but why fall in love with a pair of $129.00 frames if you can find a pair you like a lot for $19.00? If you never see the frames you fell in love with for that high price, you won't feel cheated. Sometimes, you have to let your head lead your buying. 

If you are one of the lucky people who looks good in many pairs of glasses, you may want to purchase your glasses online. There are pros and cons to this. Here is an article of the pros and cons:

And another food for thought article:

There are some good YouTube videos on how to buy glasses online as well. You can really save some money if you decide to do this. Some people are very happy with their online purchases. It's up to you to decide if you want to take this risk but it's always good to know it is an option!

For me, it's very important that I get a pair that looks good and works functionally well for me. I do a lot of computer work and I want to make sure I am not straining my eyes or tilting my head too much in any direction so I will spend a little more to make sure the lenses are what I want. Sometimes sacrificing quality is not the best investment, so I try to save on the exams and frames as much as possible and then spend what I need to (while cringing) on the lenses. 

Eyewear is always an expensive purchase but it is something you will be using and wearing everyday for a year or two so it is important to do it right. If done well, a person can both get a great pair of glasses and not break the bank!

Happy Savings!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Four Cheap Protein Foods!

Meat is one of the most expensive food items on most of our food lists. Here are four cheap sources of protein for when you need protein on a smaller budget.

1. Eggs are a great source of protein at about 6 grams per egg and are quite inexpensive. Bought on sale in my part of the country, you can get a carton of eggs for as little as .99. That makes each egg .08. Or, if we double the price, .16 per egg. If you ate one egg with one piece of bread in the morning for breakfast, assuming you bought the bread on sale at .99 a loaf making your bread about .04 a slice (or if we think higher at $2.49 a loaf, .10 a slice) you could have breakfast for .12 a day (or thinking at the higher prices .26/day.) You can't beat that cost! Plus you have a great protein start to your morning! And eggs can be made in so many ways. Compare this with coffee and a donut at a convenience store and your wallet and your health will both thank you!

2. Beans are wonderful and very versatile! You can eat them baked. Out of a can is inexpensive but make your own and the cost is even less! You can add chili beans to many dishes like tacos, burritos, and chili as a meat stretcher. You can make bean soups like bean and bacon soup from a can or on your own. Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup has 7 grams of protein per serving. Beans are very good for you and improve your digestion. If you don't like the flatulence side effect, you can eat them on the weekends or buy Beano and use that (but Beano does cost money) or simply start with a few and increase your intake over time.

 3. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and again, can be eaten many ways such as in a sandwich, on crackers, or with celery or apples. You can also make cookies with peanut butter. This peanut butter has 7 grams of protein per serving.

4. Tuna can also be made many sandwiches, with pasta or on crackers. This tuna has 10 grams of protein per serving.

Eating too much meat is not good for you and is hard on the wallet. In cutting back on food costs, cutting out a few meals of meat a week and incorporating these items in your diet will not only be cost effective but good for your health as well.

Happy Eating and Happy Savings!

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