Top 5 Money-Saving Tips

money-saving tips

Today I am guest posting on my friend, Lisa Jorgensen’s blog, Pebbles and Piggytails where I share my Top 5 Money-Saving Tips.

Here’s the opener of the article:

Did you know that saving money is one of the best habits people can have to increase happiness? By saving money, not only will you have more money for your goals and dreams, but you’ll also have money for those unexpected emergencies. Here are my top five money-saving tips I want to share with you. . .

Head over here to read the rest of the article.

And be sure to follow Lisa’s Pebbles and Piggytails blog where she writes about finding peace in motherhood and in life.

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Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets Final

My oldest girl just loves these Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets, and she requests it almost every morning. She actually prefers the homemade over the store-bought packets, which is fine by me because it’s less expensive to make it homemade. I added in chocolate chips this last time, but she preferred it without the chocolate chips.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

To each ziploc bag add the following:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon or less cinnamon
  • chocolate chips or raisins (optional)

Store in an airtight container or freeze for up to three months. To serve, pour the instant oatmeal packet into a bowl and add 3/4 cup water or milk. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until cooked. Stir and serve.

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How to Save Money on Baby Products

 Baby Products - Save Money

The average middle-income family spends about $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life! That’s a lot of money! So as August approaches, I am looking for ways to save on baby products that I need for when our baby boy arrives. Here are some tips to save money on baby products.

1. Shop at Second-Hand Stores and Yard Sales
When I found out we were having a boy, I was excited. I also realized that I needed to purchase baby boy clothes. I have bags of baby girl clothes in my basement, but I only have a few outfits for baby boys. Purchasing clothing, as well as other items, can be expensive, but if you shop right you should be able to pick up some good deals. Try finding new or gently used clothing and other baby items at these places:

  • Children’s Consignment Stores – Stores such as Kid to Kid, Just Between Friends, and Once Upon a Child buy and sell new and gently used children’s clothing and baby items.
  • Thrift Stores – They offer a wide selection of clothing for children. It may take some time to search through the racks, but you should be able to find clothing that is still in good condition.
  • Yard Sales – These can be a great place to find children’s clothing and baby items inexpensively. Since babies grow out of their clothing before they wear it out, you should be able to find outfits that are in good condition at yard sales. To save time, try to plan your trip during neighborhood sales so you can stop by more places at once.

This past week, I headed to a second-hand clothing store in my area that sells new and gently used clothing for children. I looked through all of the 0-3 month baby boy clothes and picked out 23 pieces of clothing for about $60 (see photo above). If I would have spent that $60 at a store like Target, Kohl’s, or Old Navy, I would have only been able to purchase 6-10 pieces of clothing. I now feel I have enough clothing for when our new addition arrives.

You might also want to read the post How to Save Money On Children’s Clothing.

2. Borrow Items and Accept Hand-Me-Downs from Family and Friends
If someone offers you free baby clothing or items, take advantage of the offer and say yes. You might not know if you will use it at first, but there may be items your baby will use and clothing your baby will wear. With the items that you won’t use, donate it or give it away to someone who will use it.

And be sure to ask family and friends if they have baby items that are sitting in storage that they might let you borrow. Most of the time, family and friends are happy to loan items to help you out. I’ve been blessed to have family members give me baby clothes that they no longer are using. I also had a friend give me a changing table that she was trying to get rid of. This helped me so I didn’t have to spend as much money on baby clothes and items.

3. Purchase Diapers on Amazon
One way I’ve saved a lot of money on diapers over the years is by purchasing them on Amazon.com and using the “Subscribe & Save” on the right hand side. And the diapers ship to your house for free! Plus, you can cancel or change shipments for Subscribe & Save at any time. A lot of the time I can get diapers cheaper on Amazon.com than shopping at Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, or Walmart. But before I purchase diapers on Amazon.com, I always check prices on other sites too to make sure I’m getting the best deal, which would be less than $0.20 per diaper. If Amazon doesn’t have a good deal on diapers when I need them, then I will purchase diapers from Sam’s Club.

If you haven’t already signed up yet, and if you are a parent, expecting children, or are a caretaker, then you’ll want to sign up to be an Amazon Mom Member. It’s FREE to sign up!  You’ll get a free three-month trial, and you’ll receive these benefits as an Amazon Mom member:

  • An additional 20% discount on select diapers and wipes when you sign up for Subscribe & Save delivery (you can cancel or change shipments at anytime).
  • 3 months of FREE Two-Day shipping with Amazon Prime.
  • Exclusive discounts and deals for Amazon Mom members.

After a three-month free trial, you will be automatically upgraded to Amazon Prime for $99 a year, but you can opt out online after the free trial so you don’t have to pay.

4. Be Patient
Don’t feel that you need to pick up everything right now for the baby. Purchase the items that you really need such as diapers, blankets, clothing, and a few of the other necessary items. It’s okay to wait until after the baby is born to pick up any additional items you need. Because having a new baby is exciting, don’t rush to purchase items that will end up being unnecessary or you find out you won’t use it or need it. Learn to be patient and watch for sales on items you need.

5. Baby Deals
Here are some other deals to help save money on baby products. I recently ordered the free car seat canopy and nursing cover in the mail. These would also be great gift ideas for new or expecting mothers.

Score a FREE CarSeat Canopy ($49.95 value!) from CarSeatCanopy.com when you use the promo code ENBABY at checkout. You just pay shipping of $12.95. I was going to make my own car seat canopy like I did when my girls were babies, but by the time I purchase fabric and spend time sewing, the price of shipping really isn’t too much.

 

Receive a FREE Udder Covers Nursing Cover ($35 value!) when you use the code ENBABY at checkout. You’ll just pay for shipping, which is $11.95.

 

Get a FREE Seven Slings Baby Carrier ($40 value!) when you use the code ENBABY at checkout. You’ll just pay $11.95 for shipping.

 

Score a FREE Nursing Pillow ($40 value!) when you use the promo code ENBABY at checkout. Just pay shipping, which is about $12.

 

Receive 5 FREE Pairs of Baby Leg Warmers ($50 value!) when you use the code ENBABY at checkout. Just pay shipping and handling.

 

pampers gifts to grow

Pampers Gifts to Grow is a rewards  program where you can earn points from the diapers and wipes you purchase, as  well as obtaining free online codes such as the one above. Once you earn enough  points, you can redeem them for prizes like gift cards. If you aren’t a member  of Pampers Gifts to Grow yet, sign up here and you will  receive 100 points just for signing up!

 

What are ways you save money on baby products?

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How to Make Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Oven

How to Make Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Oven

I had no idea that you could make hard boiled eggs in the oven, so I had to try it out with my Easter eggs that I needed to cook. Here’s what you do:

Place room-temperature uncooked eggs in a muffin tin to keep them from rolling around. It’s important to allow the eggs to come to room temperature. Bake the eggs for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Take them out of the oven and place the eggs in a bowl of cold water.  It’s that easy! I ate one of the hard-boiled eggs to see how it tasted, and it was delicious and perfectly cooked! Plus, peeling the shell off the egg was extremely easy!

You’ll have to give it a try next time you want hard-boiled eggs!

 

Hard Boiled Eggs in the oven

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Rainbow Pudding Pops

rainbow pudding pops summer dessert activity

For summer, I wanted to do an activity that was simple and fun with my daughters. I saw these Rainbow Pudding Pops and knew I had to try them out. They are very easy to make and the girls just loved them!

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 boxes (3.4 oz.) of instant vanilla pudding
milk
food coloring
plastic or paper cups
popsicle sticks

Directions:

  • Pour both packages of vanilla pudding into a mixing bowl, follow the directions on the package to make the pudding.
  • After the pudding is mixed, divide the pudding up evenly into 6 small bowls.
  • Use food coloring to make a different color of pudding in each bowl and stir well. The colors of the rainbow we used were red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  • Layer the colors of pudding evenly in a plastic cup. Then insert a popsicle stick in the middle (see photo below).
  • Place the cups of pudding in the freezer until they are completely set up.
  • When we were ready to eat them, we used scissors to cut a vertical slit at the top of the cup to make it easy to tear the cup off the pudding.

Rainbow Pudding Pops 1

Rainbow Pudding Pops 2

Rainbow Pudding Pops 3

As you can see, my youngest daughter enjoyed the pudding pops a lot! My older daughter enjoy it later after she woke up from a nap.

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Valentine’s Day Activities and Ideas

Valentine's Day Activities FinalAs Valentine’s Day approaches, here are some Valentine’s ideas and activities that you can do with your spouse, children, or the whole family. Plus, these ideas don’t cost a lot of money. This Valentine’s Day Activities and Ideas post are ways to show your spouse you love him or her. Some of these ideas could also be modified to be for the whole family. To see fun activities you can do with your children, check out the Valentine’s Day Activities and Ideas (Part 2) post.

 

Valentine’s Acts of Love – Count down the day to Valentine’s by creating these service Acts of Love for your spouse or the family. This can also be a cute centerpiece in your home.

 

$5 and Under Valentine’s Day Ideas – Show your spouse smaller tokens of affection over a longer period of time rather than spending money on one nice gift for one day.

 

Lucky in Love Valentine’s – Create these inexpensive Lucky in Love tickets that your husband can scratch off each day before Valentine’s that include a quotes, love notes, coupons, or activities to do each day together.

 

Valentine’s Day Date Ideas – If you aren’t sure what date idea to do with your spouse on Valentine’s Day, here are 33 Valentine’s Day Date Ideas that don’t cost a lot of money.

 

Valentine for Him Crossword Puzzle – This is such a unique and cute Valentine gift to give your spouse. Using facts about your life together, create this free crossword puzzle.

 

valentines - 14 Days of Valentine's

14 Days of Valentine’s – Give these little gifts to your spouse to every day before Valentine’s Day to let your husband know you love him.

 

If you have ideas to show your spouse you love him or her, please share them with everyone. And be sure to check out more Valentine’s Day Activities and Ideas (Part 2) here.

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DIY Hand-Warmers Featured on Fun Cheap or Free Blog

DIY Hand Warmers Final

Yesterday, Fun Cheap Or Free featured my step-by-step tutorial on how to make these cute DIY Hand-Warmers! Check out how easy they are to make. It only takes less than 20 minutes to complete a set! This could be a neighbor gift idea for Christmas next year!

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Frugal Indoor Activities for Kids

Frugal Indoor Activities Final

After the excitement of the holidays, January can be somewhat of a let down because it’s cold outside and there isn’t an exciting holiday coming up. Since being outside in the cold is not something I like to do in January, check out these fun and frugal indoor activities you can do together with your children during the winter. This will hopefully give you some creative ideas, as well as be activities your kids can look forward to doing.

 

Good Things Utah Feb

Check out my Good Things Utah segment where I share five fun and frugal activities.

 

DSC_0690 (2)

And check out my other Good Things Utah segment here where I talk about more fun and frugal indoor activities for children.

 

Below are some fun and frugal activities, many of which I shared on my Good Things Utah segments.

 

Balloon Paddle Ball – Make paddles with oversized popsicle sticks and paper plates, then blow up a balloon and have fun paddling it back and forth.

Laser Beams – Use streamers to make laser beams in the hallway. Have the children try to get through the hallway without touching the laser beams.

Squishy Bag – Use this activity to practice writing skills. It’s also is a great sensory activity and offers a calming effect for some children. All you need is a gallon ziplock bag, food coloring, full bottle of hair gel from the dollar store, and glitter (optional). Mix is together in the bag, then place the bag on top of white paper.

Snowflake Art – This is an easy painting project. All you need is a canvas board (which is actually inexpensive), a few different shades of blue paint or color of choice, and masking tape.

Masking/Painter’s Tape Roads – Make a road for cars and trucks using masking tape or painter’s tape on the hard floor or carpet. Note: If you place the tape on the carpet, don’t leave it down for weeks or you will have sun-bleached lines from the tape.

Make sure to check out all of the fun and frugal activities and ideas posts that you can do with your children indoors during the winter:

Frugal Indoor Activities for Children during Winter (Part 1)
Frugal Indoor Activities for Children during Winter (Part 2)
Frugal Indoor Activities for Children during Winter (Part 3)
Frugal Indoor Activities for Children during Winter (Part 4)

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3 Tips to Save Money on Eyewear

save money on eye contacts

 

Americans spend 33 billion dollars every year on prescription glasses and contact lenses. I understand how expensive eyewear can be since I wear contacts. And because glasses and contacts can be so expensive, I want to share some tips, as well as my personal experience, on how to save money on eyewear.

1. Get an eye exam at Costco, Sam’s Club, or Walmart
If you don’t have insurance that covers an eye exam and you are in need of an eye exam, don’t go to an eyeglass chain or a private eye doctor office. It will cost so much more money. Instead, get an eye exam at Costco, Sam’s Club, or Walmart. At Costco, it’s usually about $70 for an eye exam and $120 for a contact lens eye exam. Sam’s Club and Walmart cost about the same. Store prices vary by region, so call and check a few stores prices before making an appointment. And these stores have licensed optometrists that perform the exam in an in-store exam room.

2. Buy Eyeglasses and Contacts Online
Don’t get stuck purchasing glasses and contacts from the optometrist. I’ve worn contacts, and sometimes glasses, since I was a teenager. For years, I always just ordered my contacts and glasses from my optometrist following the appointment. And for the longest time I didn’t know that there were other options out there that are less expensive and just as good quality. The contacts I wear normally cost $55 per box if I order them from my eye doctor, but by purchasing them online I was able to save nearly 50 percent! I researched many online stores to find the best deal for contact lenses and here is what I found.

The best deal for my contacts was from DiscountContactLenses.com. They were $34.99 per box, which includes six contacts and is a 3-month supply. Plus, I found a 20 percent off promo code for being a new customer, which brought the total per box down to just $27.99. And they shipped the contacts to me for free. So instead of paying $55 per box, I only paid $27.99 per box! That’s nearly half of the cost of what I’d been paying to purchase them from my eye doctor. And it was the exact same brand and box of contacts. (Side Note: For about 7 years, I purchased my contacts from VisionDirect.com, but unfortunately, as of May 2017 they shut down, so I did a lot of research to find which online stores had the best prices on contacts.)

I researched other online sites and found that the next best places to purchase contacts is from Sam’s Club and Costco. Then Walgreens if you locate a good promo code, and then Walmart.com. Other sites that I haven’t tried but I’ve you might want to consider looking at for contacts is 1800AnyLens.com and 1800Contacts.com. It is always a good idea to check a few sites before you order contacts online to make sure you find the best deal for what you need to order.

If you are looking for eyeglasses, purchase them online from Coastal.com or ZenniOptical.com where you can get generic frames and lenses for $20 shipped! The reason they can sell them so inexpensively is because they make them, and they don’t have to go through a middle man. And sometimes, Coastal.com has promotions where you can get your first pair of glasses free. All you’ll pay is shipping and handling and the cost of any lens upgrade. This promotion comes and goes, so you have to watch for it. For your first pair of glasses, you might want to consider ordering them in-store to ensure the fit is right, but after that, order them online!

3. Keep Your Old Frames
Just because you have a new prescription, it doesn’t mean you need new frames. While you may need new lenses for your glasses if your prescription has changed you don’t need to purchase new frames if your old ones are still in good condition. When shopping for new frames, be sure to stick with elegant and classic styles, rather than the latest trend that way you can have with them for a few years.

By doing these things, you can save a lot of money on glasses and contacts. What other tips to do you have to help you save money on eyewear?

 

 

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DIY Hand Warmers

Hand Warmers

I made these DIY Hand Warmers for my girls and my nieces and nephews for Christmas. They were a HUGE success! Apparently, the microwave has been running non-stop for a few days at both of my sister-in-law’s homes. And the kids are looking forward to placing them in their pockets to keep their hands warm when they go to school.

Plus, these hand warmers were very easy to make. It didn’t take too long to make a few of them.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 pieces of 3″x3″ cotton fabric (no blends)
  • sewing machine and thread
  • uncooked rice

Directions:

  • Pin two pieces of fabric together, wrong side out.
  • Use sewing machine to sew around the edges, leaving at least an inch opening.
  • Turn square right side out.
  • Fill square 3/4 of the way with rice (I used a small funnel).
  • Either hand sew or machine stitch the inch opening closed.

To use the hand warmers, place them in the microwave for 25-30 seconds. Let them cool for a minute, then pop them in your pockets before you head out the door.

 

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