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Spending $1.97 for Sweaters with a $104.00 SRP

A few weeks ago I had received some discount and cash off coupons that Kohls so generously sent my way. I have a tendency to ignore these unless we have a need for something, and that particular week we had some things that we both needed. So off we went to see what we could find. Well, we found plenty, although we were both a little stunned at the cost of hose for me, and socks for him, and we won’t even talk about the cost of underwear. Basically, I was beginning to think they were being custom made in the back room, simply for our needs!

Okay, a little transparency: I do not shop frequently, and when I do everything is on sale and I try to buy things in bulk so that I do not have to return anytime soon. Apparently I was away for far longer than I thought, at least for these type items. Well, we left with the basics, and obviously with no extra’s to stash away for when these items might need to be replaced, but we did leave with a $10 Kohl’s cash coupon. I personally do not enjoy this gimmick to get people to return and spend money, so much so, that I will give them to one of my daughters or someone else if they are in need of something at Kohl’s. In addition, I do not believe in credit cards, yet they can work if you only spend what you have available to spend. The only reason I have a Kohl’s card is for the discounts they send my way.

Well, since that visit, I acquired various coupons along with that Kohls cash.  For some reason Kohl’s decided to send me $10 for the Veteran’s day weekend through the mail and another one (different code) via email. Then another $10 because I willingly said “sure” I’ll be happy to get my bill via email”, and another one for the “yes2you” rewards program. Needless to say, I had $50 that I was having a difficult time saying “no” to. Mind you I was a little bummed that they were not offering any % discounts on top of all this savings, but one must not be greedy while being thankful for what one has.

So tonight I returned to Kohl’s thinking that first I will get a few extra pair of hose, but wanted to check out the dresses and sweaters. I found one sweater dress that looked amazing on me, but even on sale, the “see through winter look” was not the fashion statement I was looking for, and certainly NOT for the $79 sale price. I know, I hear some of you ladies thinking, but it would only net out to $29!!  Okay, sure, a great deal, but I struggled in knowing that this sweater dress was noticeably see through. In addition, I just paid off my Kohl’s card for that previous purchase and I had no intention of adding more to it.

So, I browsed a bit, and finally selected a few classic sweaters and a fashionable cardigan. These will work well with dress pants, jeans, and skirts. Yes, I thought about the full wardrobe benefit before cashing in my FREE money. So three sweaters later, my husband and I walk to the register. The total rings up as $51.97 before the coupons. And yes, you math wizards have calculated my total correctly. I ended up putting $1.97 on my Kohl’s charge, and only because they insist that you use their credit card to utilize some of the discounts. Silly them!!

Don’t you just love it when the cashier looks at the total dollars saved and announces  that “you saved $102.03 on  your order today”. They are so perky that I really hate to disappoint them. Seriously, I saved $50, NOT $102.03, because you see, I would never pay full price knowing that Kohl’s always has things on sale and many times for 40-50% off their regular price.

My husband loves shopping with me, not because he enjoys waiting for me to decide what I will be buying for the lowest price possible, but rather to see how much I will not be spending. As we left this evening with my gleeful giggles, he chuckled and asked if I could find a way to save at BassPro and leave there spending no more than $5.00 for his wish list of a new tree stand, a new pistol for each of us and a rifle. Hmmm…guess I need to do some serious thinking there. So far I have not accumulated much on their reward card, so that could take awhile. Yet, if we win their huge sweepstakes they currently have going on, we could walk away with more than his wish list. Then again, I’m not sure I really want to win considering the tax implications.

Being frugal is not about being cheap, but rather about using your resources wisely.

Laura – Frugal Value Lifestyle

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Candle Scents Continue Burning

Keep the candle incense burning even when the wick stops burning.  NOTE: Be sure to keep safe from little curious hands. Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Keep the candle incense burning even when the wick stops burning.
NOTE: Be sure to keep safe from little curious hands.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

If you are one who enjoys the quality candle scents one finds at shops that sell Yankee candles or even the candles sold at Bed and Bath, you are keenly aware that these candles continue to provide a scent much longer than most inexpensive candles.

As the candle continues to burn, yet flickers out with candle left in the jar, one might consider throwing the jar and candle completely away. Personally, since these candles are not inexpensive, I have a hard time tossing what remains.  So instead of tossing, I continue to burn the scent. How might you ask?

1st – you need to remove the candle wax from the glass jar. I do this by putting the cooled candle and jar into the freezer for a day or two. This process makes it easier for you to break the wax apart, allowing you to remove it from its glass container. Sometimes the wax is already cracked for me, yet if not, I take a dull knife and put pressure on the wax until it breaks. Finally removing the chunks of wax.

2nd – place a few of these chunks in an oil burning unit, where you would normally place the oil, then below place your tea light. The tea light warms up the wax, making it liquid, allowing you to continue enjoying your favorite candle scents.

NOTE: The scent in the picture was that of Chocolate Mint, so the chunks look like chocolate chunks…BE SURE to LABEL your container or storage bag and KEEP AWAY from little curious hands.

Now, what about that beautiful glass jar that your candle arrived in?

1st, you need to clean this out, using hot soapy water. Let it sit for a bit if necessary, understanding that you might need to repeat.

Two Options:

  1. Personally, I take the jars and use them as storage units. NEVER for preserving foods, but have used them for gift containers for covered candies. I use them for paper clips, sewing supplies, etc. Once the labels are removed, they are clear containers with lids, that are functional as well as decorative.
  2. Use as gift containers.  NEVER for presenting preserved foods such as jams, jellies, etc. You can never be too sure that you have removed all the wax. I have used them as gift containers for covered candies – consider hiding a gift card within the candles. A sweet treat for any recipient. If you bake cookies (for the larger jars) be sure they are in those cellophane food bags, that not only protect the taste from potential wax residue, but also gives the jar a decorative look as well.
  3. Make new candles – this is an easy craft, but can be dangerous if you are not careful. Instead of using the wax chunks as burning chips, you can save them to reuse in new candles. Use new wax, creating your own candles. Ask friends who typically burn candles if they toss their jars, if so they might provide you the containers to work with. Craft stores provide incense oils that can be added to your wax, along with a variety of supplies. In a future post I will share how I have made candles in the past.

NOTE: For those who decide to make new candles, you might be able to reuse the wick holders that are left if you are careful in removing them from the bottom of your glass container. If not, they are not very expensive and can be found in craft stores.

Laura – Frugal Value Lifestyle

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Taking Natural Birch and Lighting Things Up

 

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. This is a set of three which I enjoyed displaying together as a unit. Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
This is a set of three which I enjoyed displaying together as a unit.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Other than Oak, one of my favorite trees, regardless of season is that of White Birch.  It has character that shares strength with delicate features. I love the white that is shadowed with black from wounds created by nature.

This past spring I started to look for fallen white birch along my path, yet when I spotted any, it was rotted to the core. My husband and father’n law knew that I wanted this for some project, not quite sure what, but set in hopes to locate some in their travels as well.

Upon a visit my husband made to his dad’s house, he was gifted with some beautiful pieces of birch that had fallen along the paths that my father’n law frequented. He was not sure whether it would work for what I had envisioned, but felt it was worth picking up and carrying home. My husband told his dad that although he did not know what my plans were, he was pretty confident it included some of his help.

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. This piece fits nicely on a bookcase as one enters into our living room.  Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
This piece fits nicely on a bookcase as one enters into our living room.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

He was correct. There are two gifts that he is working on for me, one which is completed, while the other gift item we are waiting a spell to see how the birch dries. After he completed these two gift items, there was plenty for him to  use his own creative mind to make some projects he felt I would enjoy during this season of holiday decorating.

So, with a little time to set-up, cut, and drill, these candle holders were made. I am thrilled to no end, appreciating his thoughtfulness in making me something out of nature he was sure I would enjoy. He chose to use the battery operated candles, so that I did not have to worry about making sure the candle did not burn too low, plus one would not want to put an actual burning candle in a piece of wood.

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. This log piece has five candles and my preference was to have it in my window sharing a more natural, flickering display. Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
This log piece has five candles and my preference was to have it in my window sharing a more natural, flickering display.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Using nature with added love, time and talent, a warm and inviting decor has been added to our home.  The only cost was the battery candle lights, that were purchased at a reduced price.

One can purchased fallen, cut birch at Michaels now.  My husband and I were surprised, yet we are grateful that we were able to do this with natural resources that we already have available to us. The battery tea lights can be found at a multiple of craft stores, but use your resources wisely, and take advantage of sales and coupons that your store might offer.

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch. Here I have the set sitting in our kitchen window. Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

One of the different candle holders my husband made using a fallen birch.
Here I have the set sitting in our kitchen window.
Laura of Frugal Value Lifestyle
www.frugalvaluelifestyle.reflectivetapestryoflife.com

Laura – Frugal Value Lifestyle

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Slow Cooking Meals – A Frugal Option

Frugal Value Lifestyle Slow Cooking

Utilizing the Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) – Making great meals for a crowd, the freezer, lunches and meals throughout the week.

One of my favorite methods of cooking, most especially with the fall season now upon us with winter fast approaching, is in utilizing my Slow Cooker.  It saves me valuable time  at the end of the day when the family is hungry.  In addition, depending on family size, meals prepared in this manner can provide additional meals that can either be frozen for later, or eaten throughout the week.

The most valuable cost benefit that I have found is that you can utilize dried beans versus the more costly option of canned, as well as lower priced cuts of meat.  Personally, I still like grass fed meat sources while taking advantage of the lower priced cuts.  Due to personal flavoring along with the slow cooking method, the meat is tenderized and flavored nicely.

The health benefit is that the lower cooking temperature in utilizing a slow cooker is that your nutrients are less likely to be lost as compared to cooking at high temperatures.  In addition, as you add your own fresh ingredients and seasonings, you are aware of the nutritional benefit as you avoid the preservatives so commonly found in foods that you might find pre-made in a can or in the freezer.

Please note: I am not a proponent of pre-made slow cooker seasoning packets.  I found that they contain a great deal of salt that takes away from the natural flavoring along with ingredients I might not otherwise use (nor be able to pronounce).   I would much rather utilize my own personal choice of seasonings and add a little salt (my preference is sea salt).  I tend to salt lightly while cooking.  This allows the individual to determine the amount necessary to satisfy his/her tastebuds.

Many meals can be made in the slow cooker, ranging from soups, stews, roasts, sauces, desserts, breakfasts, and more. As a result, one has the ability to bring something healthy for lunch to work the next day, an easy meal option to be frozen or used for ready-made meal on a busy day within your week.  In addition, when you have unexpected company, a meal prepared in the slow cooker provides the ability to share your meal with others.  Of course, that is dependent upon family size.

When expecting that your day will only get busy with family activities with different schedules, a slow cook meal will keep food hot and healthy for everyone as they arrive home at different intervals.

Personally, what I love most about using a slow cooker, is that once everything is prepped and put into the appliance, I can set and let it cook throughout the day.  It opens up my day to focus on reading, writing, sewing, gardening, spending time with loved ones (okay, maybe some chores as well) without the worry of getting wrapped up in a project to later realize how quickly time flew by while hungry family members begin to “what’s for dinner?” 😉

Slow cooking is a healthy way to feed your family and save money.  From using garden vegetables and herbs to naturally fed sources of meat, one is able to make amazing meals that family and friends will enjoy.  In addition, these meals are perfect for social gatherings, so be sure to keep your appliance clean and looking nice.

I’m beginning to think I need to hint at acquiring a few more for those weekends I am in one of those moods for a cooking marathon. 🙂  Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have a hot meal in one and maybe a peach cobbler or apple dessert in the other?

~ Laura

NOTE: I personally do not like to leave my slow cooker on when I leave the house.  I know that many others do. I just personally find that any appliance that produces heat to be a potential hazard if left unattended.  I tend to utilize my slow cooker on the weekend or days in which I am home.  If I have to run out for an errand, I either let a family member know it is on, or unplug my unit and reset it when I return.

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Trick or Treat? – Have Some Simple Harvest Fun

 

Trick or Treat? - Have Some Simple Harvest Fun

Trick or Treat? – Have Some Simple Harvest Fun

Our daughters are now grown, and although we were never really big on Halloween, if there was a year that they wanted to go trick or treating, we would let them.  In all honesty though, they rarely went.  Many times their preference was to dress up and give things out to the little ones, then be disappointed by the adults who came to the door with their children, with bags of their own.  Yes, it happens, yet fortunately just a fraction of them do this.

So, how does one get through the Halloween excitement when needing to feed their own family on a budget?  Or, how about those who buy ahead of time, eat the treats then have to go purchase  more for the trick or treaters, causing one to overspend and overeat all at the same time?  I am going to share some costume ideas as well as meet the kids at the door ideas.

Fortunately I am able to sew most anything.  And with the cost of disposable costumes (in my opinion) I found it to be most economical to create our own.  One does not need to know how to sew to make a unique costume that your child would enjoy, just a little imagination.

Costumes you can make with what you have on hand:

  • daddy’s flannel shirt – scarecrow – tie a rope around the waist, add some leaves into the shirt, add a cap (what-ever you have) with leaves as well.  Dirty up the face a little, add rosy cheeks and provide a paper bag with handles (I’m sure you have one of those from a gift you received or shopping at a specialty store.
  • pillow case – a ghost…for the little one, just cut a large hole for the face so that they can see well, cut two arm holes, then let it hang freely.
  • old white bedsheet – ghost – if you don’t have one, check out the thrift stores for stained ones..it’s going to get dirty anyway.  Let you child design this.  Provide permanent markers so they can create big eyes, yet cut some holes for them to peer out of.
  • Older siblings clothes make for a great clown costume.  Add a rope belt, or tie an oversized belt.  Add some big patches that do not have to be permanent.  Just attach them with safety pins underneath.  Make sure you let them enjoy wearing the oversized floppy boots.  Ask a grandparent for a wig, you just never know what a grandparent can dig up for your kids.
  • Cowboy/Cowgirl – jeans or denim skirt they already own.  Add a long sleeved shirt, using a long-stitched sewing stitch on  your machine, apply some fringed trim.  A nice fitting belt and to make it look western, use aluminum foil to create a belt buckle.  Possibly a cowboy hat…check w/family and neighbors, as sometimes they have exactly what you need for cheap or to borrow.
  • Pillow cases can be made into almost anything…use your imagination.
  • Have a variety of fabric hanging around that is weird colors?  Do you sew?  A cute little jumper style pattern can be made into a clown costume
  • A 50’s style skirt can easily be made with fabric on hand, an old sheet no one uses.  Add a shirt, white ankle socks and sneakers.
  • A 50’s style greaser kid can roll up his jeans, white ankle socks, sneakers, white t-shirt w/rolled sleeves
  • A geeky kid…pants they outgrew in length, yet still fits at the waist, is perfect!!  Add a slim belt, button down shirt and bow-tie.  White socks and dress shoes (sneakers if you do not have dress shoes)
  • The older kids…well, they might be a little more of a challenge, but we have made pirate costumes, witch costumes, even a Winnie-the-Pooh from some fleece, etc from things we had on hand (or possibly from fabric I had on hand, possibly purchased on clearance or given to us).

Okay…what to give at the door, OR, do you give at the door?

  • pencils, small pads of paper, etc.  (I used to buy these in bulk at the beginning of the school year when they sold them for 10 cents a pkg – trust me, with over 100 children coming to our door each year, it was the most cost effective item).  Believe it or not, the kids loved this idea!!  Even the middle-high school students.  If they are in the middle of testing, it is perfect!
  • Consider large party bags of game style treats…similar to what you give at birthday parties.  You can find these at dollar stores.  Plus, even though they are not made to last long, they do not add to the over consumption of sugar, and gives them some frivolous fun.  Mini card packs are fun for the teens.
  • WAIT until right before Halloween to buy treats on sale (and use coupons) to avoid consuming them yourself.  Toss all extra coupons so you are not tempted to buy extra!!
  • Buy only what you do not like as it will keep your hands from being tempted to participate in the “one for you and one for me” scenario.
  • bring your children to the community Halloween bash/contest events that many community centers and fire stations provide. Some high schools have events as well.  They always need volunteers and chaperones, allowing you to be aware of what is going on.
  • If you do not have the money to feed your family then you should not be spending money on candy you can’t afford to give.  Instead, make some popcorn or cookies, hot cocoa, etc…keep it simple, then pull the shades and turn off the lights and provide some candles safely placed and lit (consider battery operated ones if you have them), then play some fun games by candle light, or watch a spooky movie in the dark.
  • Consider a Halloween party of your own with a few families with the same aged children.  Parents can share in the goodie bags the kids go home with.  Don’t overdo it.  For six to twelve children, each parent can spend $1-$2 dollars at the dollar store for the goodie bags.  Each can either bake a snack or provide a beverage.  Then have the kids play a few games and end the night with a kids movie.
  • Have you thought about asking your children to visit at a retirement home?  Call ahead to see if it is okay, then go over during the day when your kids are at school to drop off some treats for the residents to give out.  OR, find out how many residents there are and have your kids give THEM the treats (possibly homemade cookies).  This generation loves seeing the little ones in costumes.  Consider having your kids put together a little skit that would entertain the residents.  This type of gesture would teach your children about giving of themselves, not only at Christmas but at other times of the year as well.

Although I am not a big Halloween person, as it has never been a big interest of mine, I do enjoy dressing up and seeing the little ones.  We keep things simple and limit what we buy.  But, the years we don’t have the resources, I do not fret about turning the lights out and keeping things simple and quiet at home.

This year is one of those years in which we do not have the funds to share in the fun.  And since it is just my husband and I left at home, we might  not watch a scary Halloween type movie, but maybe hold hands and watch a romantic comedy instead.

May you enjoy your Harvest fun!!

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Getting Full Value From Chicken

This is a picture of my nephew's chickens that he raises for eggs.   We used to have chickens when we lived in ME, but for now we rely on the local farmers and grocers for our source for chicken protein.

This is a picture of my nephew’s chickens that he raises for eggs.
We used to have chickens when we lived in ME, but for now we rely on the local farmers and grocers for our source for chicken protein.

Without taking into account the cost per pound for chicken, sometimes the best value for your dollar is purchasing a whole chicken that you will bake or cook within your rotisserie.  I realize that buying the pieces makes like easy, and sometimes the cost makes it worth it.

NOTE:  Always shop with your health in mind first, buying quality brand cuts of meat.  A healthier lifestyle saves on medical costs.

But, have you opted for the whole chicken in order to get all that you can from this roaster?  I enjoy utilizing my rotisserie, but also enjoy the oven baked chicken.  With both options, you can get more than just an evening meal with possible left-overs for lunch or the next evening.

With a 3-4 pound chicken I am able to serve my husband and I three – four meals.  Of course, these meals are portioned sized allowing us to enjoy more vegetables, while not over consuming on protein.

But what about “boring” repeat meals?  It does not happen.  Each evening or lunch, the chicken can be used in a casserole, sandwiches, or another dinner variation with different vegetables and side dishes.

In addition to the meals, I am able to get at least four cups of chicken broth made from boiling the carcass in water and seasonings.  No preservatives, no salt, etc.  This provides enough broth to make a batch of soup, use in a casserole or a side dish of rice.

When our three daughters were living at home, this size chicken would produce one full evening meal, leftovers for a casserole, along with the broth to make home-made chicken noodle soup.

When I purchase boneless chicken breast, which is the only other type of chicken I purchase, I do not have the option to make broth.  I still enjoy buying my chicken this way for the other meals I prepare, but when I need to stretch our grocery dollars, this is one option that makes sense.

What do you do with your leftover chicken?  Share here in the blog, as I would love to hear from  you.

We can all eat healthy on a slim budget.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

The Sales are Abundant – Are You Buying?

Sales are Abundant Frugal Value Living

The budget is tender with limited funds that need to be focused on housing and utilities.  Even grocery resources are limited to necessities.  Yet, we as Americans are still swamped with sales flyers and daily emails that shout “sale”, “save 20%”, save 40%”, “Buy 2 get 1 free” and more.  How do the gimmicks affect you?

Sometimes the sales can be rather tempting most especially if there is an item you have been waiting for quite some time to go on sale.  But, one thing to keep in mind when the flyers and emails arrive is that the companies offering the sales are not the ones who will be paying your bills.  They are not interested in knowing whether you will have a roof over your head, food on the table or whether your utility bills will be paid on time.  So, if the item is something you have been saving for, it is definitely worth the investment for the deal you find fair to your spending.

The pressure to spend is everywhere we turn.  From the coupons and store flyers that arrive in our Sunday papers to the email alerts from vendors we love to shop with.  There are other options to spend when we think about our entertainments “needs” for culture and relaxation.  Just because there is a one-time event, a special deal or coupon to entice you to spend, it is not a necessity for one to pass out their resources as if there is a never ending supply of cash.

My first question to ask would be:  To attend that one-time event, purchase that one-time deal, take advantage of those “wow” coupon savings, will you have to forego paying a utility bill, your rent, or worse, use your credit card?  If you answer is “yes” to one or all, then I will bluntly share “you do NOT need the item(s)!”  If you really need the item, consider how you might be able to cut back on groceries or reduce your utility usage so that you can acquire it next month.  Or, consider asking it to be a gift from someone during the holiday season, birthday, etc.

Somewhere in society, the adage to “have it all” has become the norm.  It has fueled the retail establishments to overprice their goods, because they have found that offering a 40% coupon will awaken the minds of many to spend, even when they do not even have the resources to do so.  Think about the insane Black Friday sales events.  Did you know that many of those same deals are happening year round?  Actually, if you plan well, you can have your gift shopping done prior to the holiday decorations are even being displayed in the store.

Unfortunately, the value of the dollar has gone out the window in America.  My current focus is to pay our basic bills – Mortgage, car, electric, phone, cell, water, fuel, ..yup, that’s it.  We are fortunate not to have any credit card debt.  I want my Mortgage Bank to be happy, my utility providers to continue to provide me service (I am not talking about a TV service as which is not an expense that fits within our budget – we consider this a “want” vs. a “need”, we also consider it unfortunate that we can no longer get the local news for free), and the ability for my husbands’ vehicle to have a full tank of gas so that he can get back and forth to work each day.  We then focus on basic groceries, followed by necessary clothing, then what we call luxuries (the extra’s).  Sometimes this means going without “new” clothes for quite some time.

If we all took a look in our closets, we would probably find plenty of clothes that would last us longer than a year.  Sure, we have our favorites that get worn out, but consider wearing the items that are in the back of the closet.  If you find you are not interested in wearing them, then either re-fashion, get alterations, sell or give to a charity.  Make room in your closet so that you can see the potential your wardrobe has for you.

I recently shared with my hairdresser, who by the way I had not seen in over a year, that we had not shopped for clothing, extra’s or even at JoAnn’s in over a year.  She was amazed at my willpower.   I never really thought about it being “willpower” but rather a necessity and having my priorities in line.

Not having a haircut in over a year was difficult.  Yet, the resources did not allow for it, plus I tend to trim in between cuts.  Although I do not normally go a year without her fixing things up, this year I needed to stretch the visit as far as possible.  To save even further, I only got the wash and cut which saved $4.00, in addition the girl who booked my appointment gave me her $2 coupon off my cut.  Sometimes waiting allows one to experience God’s generosity of others.

There will always be a sale, a 40% off coupon, or better yet, the potential item you have been so patiently waiting for goes to an incredible 80% off clearance price.  The “want” will always be there, but we can soften the desire by rationalizing whether it is an actual “need” vs. a “want” in addition to saving in a separate account or savings jar.

Try for one week to avoid shopping for anything more than your “basic” groceries.  And on this trip avoid the candy, ice cream, potato chips, etc. also known as the “junk” food items.  Purchase only the basics and make do with what you already have in the cupboards and freezer.  Make a dessert from scratch, go without a dessert.  Play a board game, read a book or watch a DVD you picked up from the library.  At the end of the week, decide for yourself if it was worth doing without.

So, during a time of needing to watch our spending, how do I avoid the sales gimmicks?  Well, I certainly glance through the flyers and breeze through the emails, and have become quite good at using my delete key on my keyboard and looking for “necessary” items on sale at the grocery store.  There is absolutely no room to “stretch” in order to have something that is not needed.

These are gimmicks that drive me insane:

  • $50 (or more) rebate after purchase.  Stores no longer give you a discount at the register.  Instead they want to hang onto your resources, in a bank, that gains interest for “them”, while you prepare the paperwork to submit your rebate.  This can sometimes be done online saving you a stamp, yet many times you still need to pay the postage and fill an envelope with a variety of paperwork.  You do not regain your cash for at least four to eight weeks.  They do this to discourage you as well as hope you forget about it when you get home. Then, when all this is done, the new gimmick is that the consumer now receives a credit card to spend, versus a check to put back into one’s checking account.  Seriously?  You told me that I would get my money back, and now I need to use this to buy something.  You cannot use this on a credit card bill (if you have one) Why?  Because they want to be “sure” they are getting their hands on your money.  Buyers do not despair. We all need groceries and gas for our vehicles in which we can use these cards for.  I simply do not like it when stores offer these incentives then send a credit card.
  • Buy TWO and get ONE FREE:  Well, I only need one, or I only have sufficient funds for one, so there goes that option.   Or, in the case of a shoe store, you can only find one pair that fits you or all members of your family.  What does one do?  Purchase two more, in a size that does not fit or a color that is unappealing?  Okay, there are a few products that we will use more than one of, such as shampoo, but if I only need one and things are tight, I only purchase what I need.
  • 3 hour sale, 1 day sale, 3 day weekend sale.  So, you normally shop on a Thursday, but the grocery store is offering an amazing deal on fresh fruit for this Sunday.  This causes one to either dip into the funds necessary for other bills making it necessary for you to wait until the next pay period to pay the bill you borrowed from.  Or, how about that craft store that is enticing you to run in and stock up on scrapbooking supplies. I would rather wait until the sale lasts a week, allowing me to make one trip into town, not causing gas to be wasted, allowing for a well thought out shopping trip used to its advantage.  One of our local grocery stores lost me as a customer because I just did not find that their “sale” was worth the wasted gas to run into town each day of the weekend, unless I was already down there.

We are coming close to the holiday season, the email deals are coming in daily, and store flyers increasing the desires in our minds to spend.  Consider trying a week at a time to go without.  Put the extra in an account for a “rainy day”.  In doing so, you will be amazed at how much you can save over the course of a year or two.   For us, it gave us an extra year of resources to make ends meet.

As always, living a frugal life, does not mean living a “cheap” life, but rather a fullfilling one instead.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

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Is the Coupon Worth It? – Chips

Every now and then I will share my experiences and thoughts on coupon usage.  You will find that I do use them, but I am not a huge fan of them because sometimes they are simply not worth the fuss.  Yet, I still browse through the Sunday flyers as well as online sites.

Much of my focus with coupon use is for products we actually use, and yet I will sometimes cut a few for what I consider “luxury” items.  Today I saved $5.55 on my trip, a 7% savings.  Certainly not as much as I would like, but in reality, it wasn’t just about saving with an available coupon but also in value.

Our goal today was to purchase only the items we needed, which was some dairy, fruit, veggies and water.  Yet, considering I had a craving for chips last night, my morning list included trying to use a coupon for pringles.  Two things caused me to avoid using that coupon:

Choosing the healthier option with a cost savings over the coupon option. Pringles vs. Lays

Choosing the healthier option with a cost savings over the coupon option.
Pringles vs. Lays

  1. Since I am focused on remaining gluten free, I found as I read the label that Pringles is made with wheat starch.  This does not bother my husband, but for me it makes a difference.  Okay, maybe I do not need chips this time around….
  2. Well, lets compare prices.  Pringles was at a price of $1.50 and next to them was Lay’s Stax at a price of 99 cents.  Okay, frugal momma here.  The coupon for Pringles is $1.00 off 4 containers.  Seriously??? I need to purchase 4 canisters to use this coupon?  basically 25 cents off each container.  Let’s do the math…25 cents off one canister makes them $1.25 each, still more expensive than Lays Stax at 99 cents and no pressure to purchase four canisters at once.

As a frugal shopper, my goal is to purchase what we need, at a fair price, use a coupon is available, with a focus on quality.

  • Did I need four canisters of chips?  No.  This purchase was to satisfy a craving but not a need.  To purchase extra canisters in the house would first require that I spend more than planned and also meant that there would be the temptation to consume more than necessary throughout the week.
  • Did I look for a fair price?  Of course.  I know that in the past that Pringles is a chip that our family enjoys.  But, when they are suggesting a higher price than its competitor, and requiring a bulk quantity to tempt me into purchasing their product, then I do not consider it a great deal.
  • Access to a coupon?  No coupons were in my coupon file of products we use, yet I still saved by not being drawn into having to purchase four canisters in order to use a coupon.  Sure, coupons can help save on the groceries, but only if used on products you will consume.
  • Looking for quality:  In reading the ingredients, I found that not only did the Lays Stax have healthier ingredients, it fit within my need to stay away from milk and gluten.  Plus, I personally find that the Lays brand has a thicker chip, and a better flavor.

NOTE:  We only purchased two cansiters of Lays Original.  I did not look at the labels of their other flavors to see if they contained milk or wheat, but my comparison “original to original” to each brand, scored with Lays as having the better nutritional value.

NOTE:  Soy is contained in this product.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Making Use of Worn Out Shirts

A tear, wear and some fading just means the shirt needs to be upcycled to another useful purpose.

A tear, wear and some fading just means the shirt needs to be upcycled to another useful purpose.

You can always tell a person’s favorite shirt by how often it is worn and the shaby look it acquires after constant wear.  Fortunately, when shopping for my husband, I focus on finding clothing that is made with quality fabrics so that he can wear them as long as possible.  And, in keeping to a budget, many times I am able to strike a great deal when puchasing them on clearance at the end of a season, yet, unfortunately with most of them being long sleeved.  The only drawback to the long sleeved shirts is that I need to shorten all the sleeves, as my husband finds them to be uncomfortable.  Not really a terrible situation for a wife who has been a seamstress and sewn since her early teen years.

As time passes, after continual wear and washings, the shirts present this tiring look with worn collars (that I will reverse if it is a favorite shirt), fading beyond my liking, with holes beginning to form at the corners of pockets from constant use.  

This weekend I equipped myself with scissors in hand, as I share with him the two shirts that were in the category of “must go”.  Soon after, he came to me with a third shirt that simply torn at the pocket as he began to button it up.  I smiled bravely as I graciously took another one of his favorite shirts with me to my secret place with seam rippers and scissors.  Off came the buttons first!  Then, I bravely proceeded with the sharpest shears in the bunch, and cut the shirts into large pieces of rags and piled them nicely for future use, with very little being trashed.

I realize that I could have given these shirts to a charitable organization, but I do not find it very charitable to give worn out, ripped or even stained shirts to the less fortunate.  We prefer to give these organizations items that are still in very good condition and excellent repair.  If the only reason we want to move them out of the closet is because we found we were not wearing them  because we did not like the style, then that is when the act of charity of most appealing.  Buttons in tact, zippers all working, snaps functionable.  i find it rude to give away something that we ourselves would not wear because a button was missing, a zipper stopped working, a rip in the seam, etc.

Anyway, as you can tell, these three shirts were not something I was willing to give away, and certainly not because of greed.  So i decided to take the buttons off and save them for future use, either on a shirt (or two) that I will make for my husband, replacement buttons on aother shirt (if needed), or possibly a craft requiring buttons.  I do collect buttons, but I do not find buttons on a mans shirt to be  very exciting.

After removing the buttons, I proceeded to cut the shirts into rags.  These shirts were going to be perfect for my husbands use in changing the car oil, cleaning up paint, stain and oil spills, and whatever else he can use them for. By using worn out clothing for rags, we are saving ourselves from purchasing rags (yes they sell them in auto repair stores) and making good use of them.

I also use rags from clothing that is no longer useable, for cleaning around the house, either dusting or other damp cleaning.  Although one shirt was an ideal cotton fabric for my use, my husband was out of rags and was very receptive to having a new supply to work with. I sometimes find that the fabric is perfect to use as backing for securing buttons onto other work shirts, adding patches to the inside of jeans, and other sewing purposes.  

Whatever the purpose, I make an effort to save from filling up our landfills, by either giving and sharing with others the clothing items that are in very good condition, or utilizing the worn out items in a way that will benefit our needs without having to spend our financial resources.  Paper towels are nice and convenient, but rags are always needed, and in some cases can be washed along with the rest of the laundry to be reused again.

Please consider giving to others what you tired of, not what you wore out.  And, the items you wore out, consider using them for another purpose.

Living within our means by not wasting what we have,

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Frozen Dessert Molds – Finding Value at the Register

Frugal Value Lifestyle Frozen Pop Molds 1

This summer I made the decision that I wanted to make my own healthy ice pops and frozen non-dairy dessert bars.  To do this, it meant that I needed to purchase some molds.  Although the time frame in which I was looking to do this was late summer, after picking a variety of berries, I still felt I would be able to find what I was looking for locally, and hopefully on sale.

Unfortunately, what I thought would be an easy find turned out that the opposite was true.  As I scanned the housewares and summer season aisles of our local stores, there were none to be found.  As I gave up the search for purchasing locally, I decided to scan what might be available online.  I must have had a 70’s mindset of price, because what I found for pricing was a bit more than I was willing to spend.

When I shop, I first look for quality followed by a price-point value system.  I inspect the product to determine if it will work for what I plan to use it for.  I rarely ever impulse buy (I will either walk around a store for a bit or wait a day if shopping on line to really evaluate whether it is a need vs. want item).  And with the evaluation, I determine if the price will benefit the intended purpose of my purchase.

A few weeks passed when my husband and I went out to shop for a needed sneaker replacement.  While he browsed the shoe department, I decided to browse the housewares clearance area.  As I turned the corner I was delighted to see exactly what I was looking for.  Yet, I was braced for that “clearance price” that is usually 20-30% off (normal sales pricing which never grabs my attention and in this particular store their regular pricing is usually overpriced by the same).  I was delighted to find that the exact freezer pop molds I was looking for was marked down 80% and with a $10 birthday coupon combined with a 30% off coupon, I scored what I was looking for at a phenominal price.

Of course the accountant in me was tallying up my prized find, fumbling with them in my arms as I carried them over to my husband with the biggest grin saying “Look!!  I found exactly what I was looking for!!”  His response was, “Do you really need four sets?”  His excitement was not quite the same as mine, but I will contribute that towards his earnestly trying to find a pair of sneakers that not only fit but had good arch and ankle support, while staying within our budget for sneakers.

Of course I rattled off the reduced price from the overpriced SRP of $16.99 that was marked down to $3.39, reminding him that I had a $10 coupon and my 30% off coupon (which of course could have been used for his sneakers) I would spend less than $10, still $7 less than the original price for one set.  If I did not use the $10 coupon, I would have still been able to get the four sets for $15.10, still less than the SRP of one set.

Knowing my rationale, length of time in searching and frugal spirit, he supported my smile as I put them in the cart.  Of course, they had two more sets on the shelves.  I was definitely tempted to go back and pick them up, but I knew that it would be stretching the “need vs. want” category. In all, I obtained 4 sets of 6 frozen dessert pop molds for a final cost of $ 8.07.

To make my own, individual frozen desserts, I scored a great find!!  Purchased 4 sets at $3.39 each, with a $10 coupon and 30% discount resulting in $8.07 for four sets!! Even if I did not have a $10 coupon the final cost for the set of four would have been $15.10 which was still less than the original SRP.

To make my own, individual frozen desserts, I scored a great find!! Purchased 4 sets at $3.39 each, with a $10 coupon and 30% discount resulting in $8.07 for four sets!!
Even if I did not have a $10 coupon the final cost for the set of four would have been $15.10 which was still less than the original SRP.

Since this purchase, I have made a few healthy frozen desserts, one of which was shared on my Gluten and Milk Free Lifestyle Blog  

Living within our means, stretching the dollars, and still having nice quality items we will use,

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

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