Monday, November 20, 2017

Kitchen Facelift for $2.29!

I had these gray plastic handles on my kitchen cabinets. They were there when we moved in. Menards often has some awesome rebates and they had some oak/brass handles for free after rebate. 

Here is a "before" photo of my kitchen drawers:

I am very pleased with the "after" outcome! 

 My husband had to buy a few extra screws for the handles because the screws were too short. Those came to $2.29!

I am very pleased with the kitchen face lift for next to nothing! I wish I had a "before" snapshot of this view but you will have to use your imagination with the first photo. I love the nice face lift for next to free!

Happy Savings! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pennies, Pennies Everywhere! Using Your Leftovers

Do you throw out your leftovers? If so, here is a great way to begin saving some money. You might look in the bottom of this pan at these few bits of rice and chicken and say "That's not enough for my family of four!" and dump it into the trash. Oh! It hurt me to even write that! The thought of people throwing out good food and wasting money gives me a pain in my heart. What can you do with what is in this pan? Read on!

I have used our leftovers for many years. For me, it was a necessity. But not only is it a necessity for many, it's very important that as a society we move to be less wasteful. This bit of food would make a great lunch for one. It could be eaten right away or put into a freezer container as an easy to grab lunch. 

Another option: Cook more rice and add it to the mix. You could add some more frozen broccoli and stretch it out for a full meal.

One of the greatest advantages to leftovers, besides saving money, is saving time. It's so easy to throw some leftovers on the table.

I read this article today and was shocked! The article is called "Why Americans Have Stopped Eating Leftovers". People are throwing out so much food! People complain so often about not having enough money to go around but I see these pennies, pennies everywhere! 

I wonder how we have gone to being a frugal and thrifty people to being so wasteful? I don't want to sound moralizing here but our mantra should be Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without. We used to be a country of immigrants who understood want. Now people complain about not having enough money while throwing good food in the trash. Inexcusable!

Okay. You got my feelings on that issue. ;) I feel really good when I save money. And eating leftovers and saving money and time makes me feel really good. Over the years, those pennies add up and they make a nice cushion so you don't have to live paycheck to paycheck. We can all be more free when we make freeing choices. 

Happy Savings!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gluten Free Mississippi Mud Cake: Guest Blog

This is a guest blog. I recently had a birthday and my daughter made me this gluten free cake! It tastes great. I have recently started eating gluten free and I feel much better. Eating gluten free is not cheap though, so we make a lot from scratch. Purchasing a gluten free cake like this would be very pricey!

Gluten Free Mississippi Mud Cake
16 servings
Begin making this cake early in the day, and allow plenty of time for cooling.

To make this cake, I merged two recipes together, and modified them a bit to suit the cake. The original Mississippi Mud cake recipe is found in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts. (Their recipes are not even a little bit gluten free. Shame on them! :P)

Credit for the chocolate cake recipe goes to Sarah at Her blog is full of delicious looking gluten free recipes, so feel free to check them out too!

The recipe looks a bit intimidating, but don't let it fool you. Each step is quite easy, and there isn't a whole lot to mess up. Making this cake will take up a good chunk of your day, though. So make sure to budget some time. (I believe it took me about 3 hours the first time I made it, not counting cooling time.)

It's totally worth it though! This cake is super rich and can only be described as decadent. I've been making the gluten version of this cake for years, and it is always super popular wherever I take it. This gluten free version is actually better than the original in many ways!

Full Ingredient List:

* 1/2 cup butter, plus 3 tablespoons
* 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup oat flour
* 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour blend
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups pure dark cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk (or you can use 1 cup milk and mix with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.)
* 1/2 cup oil
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, plus another 1 1/2 teaspoons
* 2/3 cup hot water
* 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (check label to ensure it is gluten free)
* 8 oz semi-sweet melting chocolate (check label to ensure it is gluten free)
* 3 tablespoons water
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (check label to ensure it is gluten free)

Step One: Walnut-Mixture

* 1/2 cup butter (save the extra 3 tablespoons for later)
* 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup oat flour

Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper.
Over low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in the walnuts, brown sugar, and oat flour.
Divide mixture evenly between your prepared cake pans and pat to evenly cover the bottom. Set aside.

Step Two: Chocolate cake

* 2 cups gluten free flour blend
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk (or you can use 1 cup milk and mix with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before adding to the batter.)
* 1/2 cup oil
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Drizzle in hot water slowly, scraping the bowl while beating on low. Batter will be thin.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and gently tap pans until the batter is evenly spread.
Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. [I did find that Sarah's estimate on baking in cake pans was a bit off. My cakes were in the oven for about 35 minutes. Just keep an eye on it, and remove when the toothpick comes out clean.]
Cool in pan until just cool enough to handle.

Step Three: Assembly

* 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows (I was out of mini marshmallows, so I sliced regular sized marshmallows into fourths.)

While still hot, carefully place one cake layer, with the walnut-mixture side up, on a cake plate.
Top with a single layer of marshmallows.
Immediately place second cake layer, walnut-mixture side down, on top of the marshmallows so they will melt. (I used a dinner plate to flip the cake out of the pan, and then flip again on top of the marshmallows.)
Insert long skewer in center of the cake to keep the top layer from sliding.
Allow cake to sit, or refrigerate, until completely cool.

Step Four: Glaze

* 8 oz semi-sweet melting chocolate
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons water
* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Once the cake has fully cooled, begin making the glaze. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate, 3 tablespoons butter, and water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.
Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature.
Add the powdered sugar, beating with a spoon until well blended and a thick spreading consistency. (If your mixture is a grainy texture, add a bit more water.)
Remove the skewer from the cake. Spread glaze over the top and allow it to drip down the sides of the cake.
Garnish as desired. (I used chocolate chips and dusted a bit of powdered sugar on top.)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pennies, Pennies Everywhere! Save Your Pumpkin Seeds and Toast Them!

 Every year I grow pumpkins. Mostly, I grow them because I like how they look on my deck in the fall of the year. (I did not grow all of these in this photo!) I also take the cornstalks I grew, tie them in a bundle, and use them for fall decoration. One bonus to growing pumpkins is toasted pumpkin seeds! When you cut open the pumpkin there will be a gooey glop of pumpkin seeds in the middle of the pumpkin. These need to be scooped out. 

Then comes the fun part, pulling all the glop off the pumpkin seeds! 

 Here is a recipe for toasting pumpkin seeds: There are a few different ones out there. Some of them have a Cajun flair if you like that. In short order, you will have some yummy toasted pumpkin seeds that are mostly free to you, since you probably otherwise would have thrown them out! 

I had a small pumpkin this time and I am cooking it just for scooping and eating. You can also make pies or bread with pumpkin. 

Happy Savings!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Make $71.00 an Hour Tax Free! Or How I Purchased $286.07 of Stuff for $72.40 Today in Three Hours!

I haven't done too much writing this summer but I have been consistently saving money. This is how I live my life! For me, frugality isn't something I do once in a while but it is a lifestyle. I love to save money! Today, I went out shopping and here are some of the deals I got.

I love fall mums. These had been $3.94 but they were marked down to $2.76. I placed them on a table (that I got brand new for $1.99 a few years ago) with a pumpkin from my garden. (My garden has only given me this one pumpkin so far this year!)

My husband asked me to look on the "Oops shelf" for paint to see what I could find. He has been building a tree stand (with mostly scraps!) He said he wanted an exterior flat paint in either brown or gray or dark green. You can find paint that someone else rejected pretty inexpensively, usually in a corner somewhere in the paint section. I found this. However, it was tan. I asked them if they could make it more brownish. The man at the counter tried but I don't think he knew too much about mixing colors without a chart to go by. The first time, it turned out exactly the same color. The second try, he got it closer to a brownish gray and so I took it! This was normally $17.77 and I got it for $8.88.

The tan color is the original color and the grayish is the end result, which my husband was happy with!

Here is a photo of the tree stand in progress. All the lumber my husband had as scraps in his shed. He did have to buy some roof and side parts. I bought the carpet from a garage sale for $5.00. 

I found this beautiful oak rustic table at a garage sale today. They were originally asking $45.00 for it but had marked it down to $25.00 since it was getting late in the day. I didn't ask them to take any less since they had already marked it down. I love it! 

I got a lot of deals at some stores today. I have a photo of them below. Here are some of the deals. I will mark them as normal price/sale price:

Cranberry drinks: $4.95/$2.50
Sandals: $9.99/$1.09
Collagen Gummies: $14.99/$5.99
Let Freedom Ring Block: $3.99/.40
4th of July Window Decals: $1.99/.20 x 5= $9.95/$1.00
Christmas Present: $9.99/$1.59
Excipial Cream: $14.70/$3.49
Heart rate monitor: $29.99/$2.99
2 Folders .79/.08=$1.58/.16
Men's Shorts $13.93/$1.00
Women's Shorts $12.00/$1.00
Greens $18.99/$13.49
Pecans $4.98/$1.00 x 10=$49.80/$10.00
Almonds $4.98/$1.00 x 5= $24.90/$5.00
Christmas Present $19.96/$2.00
Erasers .97/.10
Toilet Brushes $4.98/$3.00 x 2 = $9.96/$6.00
Grapes $5.96/$1.96
Sunscreen $7.76/$1.00

I am only going to add up the regular cost and the clearance costs on the items I purchased today. I am not including sale costs on things I purchased such as cereal etc. There are a number of sale items I bought but it's just too much work to include it all! I am also not including garage sale items or items like the pair of Lee Jeans I found for my husband at Goodwill today. 

The clearance items were a total of $286.07 at regular price. I paid $72.40 for a difference of  $213.67. It took me about three hours to shop for these items. That works out to about $71.00 an hour tax free! 

Some people don't understand why someone would shop like this. They would rather buy things when they need them, one at a time. I understand that. It's easy and convenient. The reason for shopping like this is in the numbers. If you don't mind some inconvenience, shopping like this can really pay. And when you do it week after week, month after month and year after year, it all adds up! We all have to make our choices. For me, this lifestyle makes me happy! I would rather have some financial freedom and a little inconvenience. 

Happy Savings! 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Back to School Savings!!

Back to School! This can be a really challenging time for parents who are trying to budget. There are supplies, clothes, school fees. It can seem never ending! I haven't needed to do back to school shopping for a number of years now, but I remember how it was. For me, the biggie was the school fees because there wasn't any way to scrimp and save on those, so I just concentrated on scrimping and saving on everything else!

The way I saved on clothing was that I bought clothes off the clearance racks at the end of every season and saved them until the next year. I don't think there was ever a year that the next size up didn't work for either one of my kids. I supplemented with the thrift store. That way, they had new clothes but they also had a decent amount of them. I don't remember them ever complaining.

I also bought a lot of school supplies the year before whenever I was at a store that had certain things for next to nothing, so I never had to spend a ton on supplies.

What can you do if you haven't shopped ahead and need things now? Here are some tips:

1. Look at the flyers of stores you regularly go to (and maybe some you don't) and find different things they have on sale. You can find crayons and markers at one, folders and tablets at another. This does take some running around, and you have to decide if the gas and time spent are worth it, but if you are taking a day for back to school shopping anyway and these stores are close to each other, it may be well worth your time. 

2. If your kids are fussy and/or you simply want to provide them with new clothes, you may have to get the new things at an inexpensive place like Wal-Mart. Then, after you purchase a modest amount, just so they can have something new, you could go around to a number of thrift stores. Some people are afraid of thrift stores but I am not by any means! You can find amazing things there, better quality than Wal-mart and sometimes even brand new!  If your kids don't want to go and browse, I would suggest doing it yourself. You can buy a few things you think they will like and return them if they don't. 

3. Garage sales are still going on and you might find a few things there. 

All in all, back to school doesn't have to cost a fortune. It always will take a bit of a bite, especially with the school fees. A good thing to remember too, is when you are buying those great deals from store to store to pick up enough for next year too, if you can, and know you have planned well ahead. If you do this every year, and get ahead of the curve, even if you have a very skinny year financially, you will know ahead of time your kids will be well stocked.

Happy Savings! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How a Concert and Dinner for Two Cost Less Than $35 Including Gas!

It's been a very busy summer so I haven't been doing a lot of posting but I can say I've been having a lot of fun! One of those fun things is this Three Dog Night concert. The whole thing, two tickets, two dinners and gas to get there cost about $35.00.

When I am looking through papers and emails, I am always scanning for opportunities. My husband mentioned earlier that he would like to find some concerts to go to. I like going to concerts too but I always cough at the price tag-anywhere from around $35-$70 per person for a ticket. 

 When I saw Three Dog Night was playing at a festival not too far from our home and that they started at 6:00 PM (another bonus!) and it was only $10.00 a person, I jumped at the opportunity!

 They had bubble blowing and a balloon raising and a lot of other fun things going on too.

When we are out and about and we (mostly me) don't feel like spending a lot on dinner, we will go to McDonalds or some other fast food place and do my cheapy buy. This time, we each got a McDouble (always less than a double cheeseburger, but more than a regular cheeseburger), one small french fry that we split and a side salad that we also split. We order water to drink. I take the cover from the side salad and divide it into two and get an extra fork. This was $7.24.

This time, we wanted sundaes afterwards. We got one hot fudge and one caramel. This came to $3.14. 

So a total of $10.38 for food and $20.00 for tickets. That equals $30.38 and it probably cost less than $4.62 for gas. 

All in all this was a very inexpensive way to have dinner for two and a concert on top of it!

Happy Savings!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lifetime Pass for National Parks for Seniors $10.00 until Aug 27th!

Lifetime passes for seniors to National Parks is jumping from $10.00 to $80.00 on August 28th! Get your lifetime pass before this opportunity passes! Here is an article from the AARP on this:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Walgreens Savings: All this for $6.17

Today I started garage sale season and I found an office chair for my son for $5.00 but that isn't what I'm going to write about! I needed to stop at Walgreens and pick up a magnifying glass and while I was there, I found some great clearance deals!

1. Men's Multi-vitamins for .79 for 65 count AND they were buy one get one free! They had five so I picked them all up. Expiration date: 10/18

2. Fish, Flax and Borage Oils 120 count $2.19! Expiration date: 11/18

3. Emergen-C superfruit 30 count for $1.29! Expiration date: 1/18

The total for the supplements was $5.85 and then .32 tax. (There is extra on the receipt for the magnifying glass). What a deal! Every time I am in a store, I scan the clearance area and it's amazing what you can find!

Happy savings!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bathroom Face-lift: Total Cost About $6.00!

I've been wanting to re-do my bathroom for quite some time. It had this ugly purple striped wallpaper in it. The wallpaper probably looked pretty good at one time, but it was old, stained in spots and the edges where the wallpaper was put together was getting a black edge from the moisture and there were areas I had to wipe down with bleach a couple of times a year because mold was growing there. It was time to do something! 

 Taking the wallpaper off itself wasn't that hard. It took about a half an hour.

 It was scraping this that took so long. Ugh! Just looking at it makes me feel pained! It took a couple of days to painstakingly squirt this old paper-backing/glue with a hot water and soap mixture and scrape and peel it all off. 

 Here are the walls partially prepped! I also sanded some areas. 

 I got out my supplies. These were all free from rebates! I have an area in my basement that I store freebies like this and I get them out when I need them! 

 When I was looking for paint to do the project with, I decided to check the clearance area. Often, people don't like the paint color they chose and then they return the paint and you can get it for next to nothing. This time, they had a gallon of Glidden paint on sale for $5.00 AND it was just the base so I got to choose the color too! I love good, high quality paint and I will pay more for that if I have to, but I did not have to! This is a paint and primer which was perfect. Glidden is a good brand too. I chose "Summer Sandcastle" for a color. 

Here are the walls prepped and ready to go. I put masking tape around everything and my husband removed the towel holders. 

And here is the final product! I want to replace the register on the floor still as it's peeling. I would also like to replace the switch plate covers to something nicer and the window blind. I have not done that yet. 

So, this paint face-lift cost about $6.00! $5.00 for the paint and about $1.00 for the masking tape! Other than that, it was a lot of hard work and elbow grease! I thought about painting the register with the same color paint but it is really rusty so I thought better of it. So, it will cost a few more dollars for the completed project but I feel very good about what I paid for this! The project took about 3/4 of a gallon and will give me some left for touch-ups later on. 

Happy Savings! 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Springtime Dandelion Greens! Food From Your Yard

Here's a springtime money and health hack for you! Eat dandelion greens! Dandelion greens in early spring are good and good for you. Here is an article on how to find and use dandelion greens:

 Dandelions have calcium, iron, Vitamin C and Vitamin A and Vitamin K.  Here are some dandelion green nutrition facts: Dandelions are great for your eyes, containing both zeaxanthin and lutein.

A couple of rules:

  • Make sure you know what you are picking! Use online resources so you can compare and know for sure. If you are not certain of what you are picking, take them to your local extension office for verification before consuming.
  • Make sure they are not covered with pesticides or other pollutants. 
  • Remember you are responsible for what you eat. Safety first! Never put anything into your mouth when foraging unless you are sure you know what you have. This goes for all foods you pick. 

You can cook dandelion greens in a few ways. You can saute them in a pan like in this recipe:

I like to take a few like this, and just throw them into a smoothie!

Food right from your yard! Now that is frugality!

Happy Savings!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Work From Home! Hilton Hotel Is Hiring!

Apparently Hilton Hotels is looking for people to work from home! I don't know anything about this personally but am just passing on what I read, so I can't vouch for any of the information given here. Some of you may be interested and it would be great if you could get a good work from home job because of it! So, if you apply~Good luck!

Here is the link:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Giving While You're Getting

This week, I found a great deal on a Sunbeam Humidifier. It was originally $129.00 and it was on clearance for $45.00. The old humidifier works but it wasn't a whole house humidifier like the new one and I just wanted one that worked better.

After I got home and set the new humidifier up, I rolled the old one out to the end of the driveway and put a free sign on it. It was gone in short order!

We regularly put free things at the end of our driveway. I hate to throw anything out and you would not believe the things people take when they are free! Last year, we took some old stairs off the back of our house so my husband could build a deck. I talked him into putting a free sign on them. He didn't think anyone would take them. They were gone within a couple hours! I love the idea that someone was hopefully able to re-purpose the wood. 

When you get things for next to nothing, (I bought the old humidifier at a garage sale for $5.00) it is easier to put a free sign on it and give it to someone else. You really feel like you got your money's worth out of it already and it's great to give while you're getting! Not to mention the fact that you don't have to spend the effort (and money) hauling it to the dump! Win/Win!!

Happy Savings! 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Stealing The Legal Way! Make $205.85 in An Hour: How $238.61 Worth of Items Cost $32.76

As I mentioned in my last blog, many stores are having great clearance sales right now because they are getting rid of excess inventory before they count their inventory for taxes. "Tis the season! 

All the items seen here on my Amish bench I picked up today for a total of $32.76 and that includes tax! Some of this will be used right away, some will be stored for later use. 

Here is a rundown of what I purchased and next to it, the regular price:


3 packs of a 2 pack of culinary dish towels for .75 each/ regularly $4.88
2 packs of kitchen set (oven mitt, pot holders, kitchen towels). $1.00 each/regularly $4.97
Pioneer Woman 2 pack dish drying mat. $1.00/regularly $9.96
3 piece BBQ tool set $1.00/regularly $4.96
2 2 pair packs men's work gloves $1.00 each/regularly $5.94
2 pair women's gloves $1.00 each/regularly $9.97
1 pack Fish Crisp Coating Mix $1.00/regularly $4.96
Hair Polisher Heat Protector $1.00/regularly $7.27
2 Pure Silk Shaving Cream .50/ regularly $1.98
6 CocoLopez Cream of Coconut Cans $1.00 each/regularly $2.49
3 60 inch black grill cover $1.00 each/regularly $14.96
Men's Hanes Camo Pants $1.00/regularly $9.97
4 Placemats $1.00 each/regularly $2.00

Goodwill (brand new, never used)

3 Real Tree Men's Shirts .49 each/regularly $9.99
Tru-Fit Fleece Jacket $1.99/regularly $24.99
Men's Tru-Fit Button Down Shirt .49/ regularly $6.99

Totals $32.76 vs $238.61

 These items will all be used one way or another. I try not to buy anything I don't think I will use. I just *know* someone will read this and say "Why did you buy three, count them, three BBQ covers??" So, I will answer before anyone gets the chance! Last summer, I bought a BBQ cover. I bought it for full price and it's a nice one. However, after only one year of being on the deck, it's faded and I can see that, in the wind etc., it will be no time and it will need to be replaced. I figure that these three will last me a number of years just like the outdoor flags I got for free. I got about 6 free flags one time and, year after year, I have a fresh nice new flag outside my house. Fortunately, I do have space to store them. 

Here are some more examples of the items I picked up today. 

 It took me about an hour (if that) to look over the clearance aisles and choose these items for purchase. One thing I like to do after buying clearance is to consider in hours how much time it would have taken me to work and make the same amount of money saved. This only counts if you will actually use the items and would have purchased them (or something similar) anyway. 
 The total saved is $205.85. At my rate of pay, it would have taken a number of hours to make this up! These kind of sales are more likely to happen this time of year. See what you can find! See what you can save.
Happy Savings! 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Clearance Sales: How I Saved $92.75 in 10 Minutes

Many stores are clearancing items before they count their inventory. This is a great time of year to find some great bargains! I have been finding (and not reporting here) things weekly. I thought I would share this because it was such a phenomenal deal!

First, we have decks that need waterproofing every couple of years. I have been using some free waterproofer I got previously on rebate but that is starting to run out. Thompson's is a great brand. This 5 gallon sealer was $85.00 marked down to $21.00! That is a savings of $64.00.

I also got this ice melt, which was $8.97, on sale for $1.00. I bought three bags for a savings of $23.91.
With tax, the total savings comes to $92.75!! All that for walking down the clearance aisle and buying when there is a deal! If I were getting paid by the hour, that would be $556.50 per hour! Great to get while the getting is good!

Happy Savings!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thrift Store Deals! Patio Door Curtain Find!

 Thrift stores are great places to find some great deals. I was so excited to find these curtains! I had just been thinking about getting some curtains. The problem for me was that I have three patio doors that needed matching curtains and the chances of finding that was very slim at a thrift store. I had just started looking and almost forgot to look the second week, when I felt a little internal nudge to go look.

I was so excited to find three sets right away and in colors that look great in my living room and dining room! Each set was $5.99. I also needed three matching rods and I got the rods for $9.99 each at Wal-Mart. So, I was able to decorate with these three sets for under $50.00. I think someone upstairs was looking out for me this day.

There are lots of great deals at thrift stores and thrift sales. My house rarely has anything brand new. Buying the rods new was a bit of a step out for me but I knew I wasn't going to get the look I needed unless I bought the rods new. A single similar curtain at Wal-mart is about $11.00, so the 6 would have cost about $66.00 plus the rods for $30.00 for a total of $96.00 new for a difference of $46.00 in savings.

Happy Savings!

Monday, January 16, 2017

How a Five Day Cruise to the Bahamas for 2 Cost $1018 including Flights, Hotels and Everything Else

 My husband and I just took an amazing trip to the Bahamas on a five day cruise for our 30th wedding anniversary. We've never been on a cruise before so it was very special. In total, the cruise cost us $1018.59. I will break these costs down, so you can see what we paid for what. I also figured that only a couple of slight differences could have cost us about $2300. I used the $2300 figure for comparison purposes.
 First of all, cruise prices pretend to be very cheap. This is actually a masquerade for what really happens. For once, because it was our 30th wedding anniversary, I was willing to cut loose a bit and spend some money for some fun in the sun. Last year, when we went on a vacation where we had to sit through a timeshare presentation, they gave us a "free 4 day cruise" with the package. They didn't have the free cruise available for the dates I wanted and they would not allow me to look myself (I had to use an agent of the company to "guide me"since it was the "free" cruise) so, in all actuality, when I compared to prices online I could have booked myself, I saved $62.00 on the trip because of the "free" part. So, it's a good thing I was ready to actually fork over some cash. The cruise itself cost $208.20 per person, but once they add on the taxes and port fees, it came to a total of $599.10 for the two of us. If I had booked myself, it would have come to $660.50.

They make you give them your credit card number up front and make you pay "gratuities" up front too. Our gratuities cost (which are a surprise at the end of the cruise) came to $113.42. This is because we ordered absolutely no pop or alcohol, which has an automatic 15% gratuity every time you order in addition to the high cost of the drinks. Any iced tea, lemonade or morning beverages, coffee etc is free with the package. I figured a flat $200.00 for the $2300 figure for someone who maybe had a few cans of pop and a couple drinks.

The food was utterly fantastic and I ate more than I have ever eaten in one week in my entire life! All you can eat buffets for any meal and many other offerings. You could also eat specialty meals for an extra fee, which we did not do. A person could easily spend a LOT of money if they were not careful. No cash is used on the boat and you just use your "sign and sail" card they give you and with no cash actually changing hands, and no tally in front of your eyes, it would be real easy to get carried away! I added another $47.39 on for food eaten in specialty shops to come to the possible $2300 figure.
Every day excursions were offered. We didn't take any. There was plenty to do with no excursions taken. I put down the cheapest excursion offered for the possible $2300 trip at $39.95 X 2 for two to go to the beach. But we still got to go to two other beaches for free. You could spend a ton on excursions and other things. You could rent a little house on the beach for the day for $499.99 if you wanted. There was so much entertainment for free, you could not do it all. So, we did all the free stuff. Concerts and comedians and karaoke, movies, fun stuff for kids. All free.

Because we were celebrating our anniversary, we were given one free photo from the cruise ship. This would have cost $11.95.

The gas to and from the airport was, for us, $7.42 because my husband drives a Honda Insight and it gets 70 MPG. I figured in $16.21 for a car that got 32 MPG for the $2300 trip.

We got a free day of airport parking because we had been doing a program with them. We had a card we had been carrying with us there every time for years and finally had enough stamps for a free day! The parking cost us $80.53 vs $92.53 regular price.

I saved a lot on the flights. I got them for free. We have a credit card that I get airlines miles for using and paying off every month. The tickets would have cost $770.38.

I used priceline for a hotel that we stayed at both before and after the trip for one night. The nights were each $67.24. If I had used the hotel website instead of priceline, they would have cost $93.00 a night. I made sure there was a free shuttle to and from the airport to the hotel and a shuttle to and from the hotel to the port, which was $10.00 per way, per person. As it turned out, the shuttle was full and we were going to have to wait to get there so my husband called an Uber driver who was there in 3 minutes. She cost us $16.50, saving us $3.50. We took the shuttle back and when I told the hotel desk person we needed to pay for the trip back, they said don't worry about it. I said "Okay!!" Apparently they only take money for two way trips, saving us another $20.00. This hotel also had a free breakfast in the hotel.
We were also given a $50.00 gift card for use at the spa, but when I saw the prices, I opted for the usual massage...the one where my husband gives me one and I give him one. So, we still each got a massage and saved a lot of money. !

We did need to eat in the airport and one meal at a restaurant after we left the ship. We walked to the restaurant, saving us a taxi. It was a 15 minute walk and we needed the exercise anyway. These meals cost about $56.00 total. I charged the same for these meals as for the $2300 trip but someone could have easily chosen a taxi and cost more.

I bought a T shirt and a magnet, which were $11.00 total. I put $30.00 into the $2300 figure.

Of course, anyone could have spent any amount on this cruise. I chose $2300 because it was a reasonable number that anyone could have spent and it wasn't using outrageous numbers. The difference between the two, nearly exact same trips is $1282! I don't think it took me any more time to take the $1018 trip than it would have to take the $2300 trip and I don't think I would have had any more fun!! No matter which trip I took, I was still going to have to do all the work of booking the flights and cruises etc. Someone may prefer not to worry about money on a trip like this, especially for a 30th wedding anniversary. For me, I would rather spend the extra tiny bit of effort, and know I saved a chuck load of change to the tune of $1282!! Most people might not remember those few extra sodas or drinks they had or that extra T-shirt or dinner but I'll remember that I saved $1282!!. That's enough for a full other cruise. I'll need to think about booking that. :)

In the meantime, here is a breakdown for the typical average cruise:

Happy Savings! ~