Penny Pinchers


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Planning for the Holidays

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I've already told the BF that our holiday gift-giving this year will come with a strict budget.  There's nothing that we desperately need and we buy what we want when we can, so is there any point in spending a huge amount of money at Christmas just because we're "supposed" to? No. Still, we can't just tell everyone that there won't be any presents this year because well, we can't.  But I did find this helpful article today on Yahoo that could help us all save a little extra this year during the holidays.

http://news.yahoo.com/frugal-head-start-holiday-shopping-130900463.html

Also, here's a list of presents that don't cost a lot but can mean a lot to those in your life:

Photo calendars or books using Shutterfly, iPhoto, etc.

Small home improvements like adding shelves to a cabinet, organizing the closet, etc.

Baked goods (always a favorite!)

OR shop the clearance areas of your favorite bookstore (yes those do still exist), grocery store (sometimes you can find fun flavored vinegars, etc that people like to get as gifts) or hardware store (as we discovered yesterday Lowe's DOES have a clearance section!)

Really think about the person you're buying for and what will be helpful to them. Then create neat gift baskets or bags for them.  I have a friend that I bike with quite often and I know she loves Lara Bars.  Those are often on sale for $1 each.  I can get 5 Lara Bars, SPF chapstick and dog treats for her 2 dogs who often accompany us on our outings for around $10 total.  That's a great little gift for a friend.  At least, in my opinion it is.

So be creative this year! Make cookies for your coworkers, send photo books to your parents and just spread the love instead of the cash this holiday season :)

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Clearance Flowers?

By Julie Norman
Monday, September 15, 2014

Did you know Lowe's had a clearance section? Me either! My best friend, who lives in Georgia, sent me these pics last night of flowers she found in the clearance section at Lowe's.  She said it was way in the back and you sort of have to hunt around for it.  It seems worth it to me though if you're looking for transitional season flowers as she was.  I'm beginning to think we should all be hunting for the clearance sections any time we're in ANY store!

This one was on clearance for $5, down from $15!

These were only .50 cents!

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Hmmm…Is it Worth It?  AND a mission update

By Julie Norman
Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'm on my second round of these Fluffy Homemade Hamburger Buns and this time I actually took the time to do some rough calculations to see if it was really worth it.  I guess, honestly, it depends on the type of buns you'd normally buy at the store. If you average $1.99 for 8 buns, then I'm saving 5 cents per bun.  Maybe that's not huge, but we're also using these for sandwiches, so they do double duty.  Even better, I know exactly what went into them.  There are no preservatives or strange colors, etc.  All they have is good old fashioned ingredients: A mix of white and wheat flour (I use equal amounts), butter, sugar, milk, eggs and yeast.  I can make 24 of them for less than $4; yes, these are a little more time consuming, but the total hands-on time involved is still only about 30 minutes.  I think they're absolutely worth it.

In other news...an update on "THE MISSION."  My first thought was that perhaps it would be cheaper to order shelf-stable organic milk online in bulk.  I checked Amazon but the prices didn't really seem any cheaper than they'd be if I just bought 1 box in the store. THEN I read an article about Wal-Mart selling a Great Value organic milk.  That's my next stop.  I'll let you know what I find out!

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A new mission

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I've been given a mission! Richie and Ann, two of my coworkers, would love to purchase organic milk (or even just "middle class milk" says Richie) for their families.  However, both families go through about a gallon a week (or more) and it's difficult to spent over $7 a gallon on milk! Though we'd all love to have endless amounts of money to spend on good food for our families, but alas, it just isn't going to happen. SO my mission is to try to find some more affordable options when it comes to organic milk.

Wish me luck! Stay tuned for updates...

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10 reasons why camping is the Everyman vacation

By Julie Norman
Monday, September 8, 2014

This past week we took a vacation that was half camping and half VRBO condoing.  While we were camping at Cedar Breaks National Monument, I paid close attention to those camping around us and came to the conclusion that camping is the Everyman vacation.  Anyone who is willing can participate in camping. It's a great way to see some beautiful parts of the country for not a lot of money.

1. Campsites are fairly cheap.  They range in price from free to about $18 a night for tent sites.

2. Assuming the weather is good, just about any old tent will do.  Now, if it's super rainy you might start thinking of upgrading to a high quality tent, but still...for most occasions that 15 year old Coleman tent will work just fine.

3. You can bring all the blankets from your house and not even worry about sleeping bags.  We still like sleeping bags, but I'm just saying...and air mattresses or pads can be found for little expense as well.

4. Camp food is whatever you feel like buying!  Spend a little or a lot or somewhere in between.

5. Entertainment is free.  It's called nature.

6. If you're really trying to save money, take your own wood for the campfire (as long as it's not from out of state...some places have issues with that).  At Cedar Breaks you could get a 5 gallon bucket of wood for a suggested donation of $3.

7. Don't have a camp stove? You can always purchase some cheap or old pots and pans from Goodwill and a little grate to go over the fire and cook right on that.  I don't like ash in my food, so I'm not crazy about that idea, but you could do it and even I have!  Although honestly you can find 1 burner camp stoves for as little as $25.

8. (this goes along with #4) You are making all your meals.  That's a ton of savings right there!

9. Camping means doing as little or as much as you like.  We like to bike all day; others like to poke at the fire and read.  BOTH are awesome ideas that are also free.

10.  Camping brings everyone together.  It's not even just that it brings your family together, but you come into contact with all sorts of people.  On our trip we encountered lots of foreign tourists, people with small pop-up trailers from California and people with ginormous RVs.  Everyone can be found camping!

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