Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shopping Savvy

Shopping is one of the necessary evils. One way I make it more fun is to save as much money as I can doing it. It is a challenge, so if you enjoy challenges, here are some ways to work the system.
1. Use sales flyers and shop for the best bargains. You can plan your menus around the bargains, or use your shopping list. Always use coupons

2. Shop loss-leaders. These are the items the store loses money on but they draw customers. They are usually placed on the ends of the aisles. Again, you can plan your weekly menu around these items.
3. Shop at Wal-Mart. They will match the prices in the sales flyers and it is one stop shopping.
Keep a notebook with prices of items you buy most often to help keep track of bargains and to compare prices.
4. If you shop in bulk, know prices. Just because it is bigger, doesn't mean it is a bargain. And they don't let you use coupons at Sams and Costco.
5. Know which stores use Rainchecks and use them for sales items. If they run out of the item during their sale, they may let you have that same item later when it is in stock.
6. I will repeat it. Use coupons, but use them effectively. Take a calculator with you if needed, but always work out if you are getting a better deal with the coupon or another brand without the coupon. Don't use coupons just because you have them. If it is an item you don't normally use, don't bother with the coupon.
7. If you find refund/rebate coupons, these are also good. You can use them to get free items or free coupons.
8. Use a shopping list and stick to it. Plan a menu and take stock of what items you need. Clean out freezer and refrigerator before you shop so you will have room and see what items you have on hand. You might not need another chicken or package of hamburger.
9. Write a list on an old envelope and keep the coupons that go with it inside the envelope.
10. Don't shop for groceries while you are hungry. You will buy more and most of it will be junk.
11. Shop with a notebook, listing clothing sizes. Carry swatches of color samples and measurements for decorating projects. This would be handy for when you come across unexpected sales or go out to yard sales
12. When shopping for a large item such as a house or car, take Polaroid's of your options to review at home, when you're not under pressure.
13. When shopping for pre-bagged produce, always weigh and choose the heaviest ones. The weight marked is the minimum weight required, so always try to get the most for your money. If you are buying a head of lettuce or broccoli, for an example, for a set price, weigh to find the largest one.
14. Buy pasta sauce in cans rather than in glass jars. They weigh the same and the cans are cheaper than the glass.
15. Buy bags of frozen vegetables instead of boxes. You will get more for the money.
16. Avoid high prices for small containers of spices and herbs. Buy large containers and share with your friends.
17. Buy large turkeys when the prices are low. Ask the butcher to cut them in half for easier storage and less waste for non-holiday meals.
18. Contact manufacturers with complaints or compliments. You may be rewarded with coupons for free or discounted products



These come with meat and produce. Wash them well before you use the trays from the

Use them as saucers for your house plants

Place them under sticky bottles and jars before you put them back in your kitchen
cabinets. The trays will catch the sticky mess and it will be easier to keep your cabinets

Let the kids use them as art canvases. They can be painted on or glue items on them to
make a collage.

When you go camping or on picnics, these trays can be great plates or platters.


Use them as cleaning rags.

Make puppets

Place over containers containing powdered cleaners such as AJAX, to minimize spills

Slip over sneakers while washing in machine to help muffle the noise.


Fill with flower bulbs and hang it in a dry place to increase air circulation and keep them from molding before you plant them.

Use to hold and drain bath toys. Attach to shower wall with plastic suction cup hook.


Store ropes, extension cards or clothesline inside the tube.


Perk wrinkled paper (which you saved from packages given to you, of course!) by lightly
spraying starch on wrong side of paper and ironing with a warm, not hot, iron.


Recycle your old ironing board cover into potholders and oven mitts. Make sure the
metallic part is used for the inside or underside.


Take a ragged paintbrush and cut it into an angle to use for painting corners.


Fill them with candy and small toys. Wrap with colored tissue paper and tie ends with
ribbons to make party favors.


Use these as pillboxes while you travel, store buttons, screws and washers, coins for the laundry.

Use one as a pocket cereal holder for your small child’s nibbling needs

Use one as a holder for lunch or milk money for school age children.


Store cereal, rice, sugar, popcorn, etc. in one them

Early Christmas Shopping at a Bargain

I have opened a store at It is a free site where you can list items you would like to sell. It is free to list, 4 photos are free, it is free to sell. You can find some great items.
My store address is

To date, I have some new, never-been-used items such as girls handbags, Pierre Cardin pen set, candle sets, and a Marie Osmond figurine by Avon. I also have used items such as books, and tiger slippers. Keep checking. I have about 20 plastic totes of items that have to go!

I invite you to list your blujay or yard sale sites here in my comment section.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Brown Bag It

One way to save money is to pack lunches for work or school. Start with the right lunch box. If you have snacks during the day as well as a lunch, you may need a large container. There are many fun lunch boxes that you can purchase or you can recycle and decorate something like a large ice cream bucket with a lid. If you rather not use a lunch box, carry your lunch in bread bags, or grocery bags, or any other bag that can be recycled into a lunch container.

You also need to keep lunches exciting and different, otherwise it will get boring. Use a variety of colors and flavors each time. Most importantly, keep it frugal. Don't buy the expensive drink boxes, prepackaged snacks, or Lunchables. Recycle small plastic containers with lids and drink bottles. If you use sturdy zipper bags, you can wash them in warm soapy water, rinse and air-dry. Buy large bags of chips or other snacks and pack them in containers. Make your own Lunchables with crackers and meat and cheese that you cut up yourself. Save plastic cutlery and condiments packages from fast food restaurants to add to sandwiches. This will keep them from getting too soggy as they sit and wait for lunch time. Make sure that you add a freezer lunch cube or have a place to refrigerate your lunch if there are perishable in it. You can also freeze your drink and let it thaw until lunch. It will help keep food cold. Make sure food is food is tightly sealed, otherwise it might get soggy when the drink thaws. A thermos is a good lunchtime investment. Heat up soup or canned pasta before going to work or school. Pack crackers or a small salad with it. A helpful hint: If you pack a salad, keep the dressing separate in a small container and add before eating, or you can put the dressing on the bottom of the salad bowl and place salad on top. Mix before eating. I have done a lot of research and experimenting. Here are more ideas to get you packing.

· For a nutritious and low calorie lunch, pack some raw vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or carrots. Add a small container of dip or individual package of salad dressing.

· Stuffed tomatoes make a nutritious lunch also. Stuff with tuna or egg salad or even potato, pasta or rice salad.

· Boil a couple of hot dogs and put them with a little boiled water in a thermos. Wrap hot dog buns so they don't get stale, and add a couple of condiment packages.

· Start a Brown Bag Club at work. Divide the week between 5 co-workers and each day a different person is responsible for packing the lunches for the others. Or, get together and find a new place to eat each day. Take your bagged lunches and sit at a park, or an ice skating rink, or a mall.

· Core an apple and stuff the inside with peanut butter. Top with raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds or toasted coconut. The filling will keep the cut apple from turning brown.

· Pack fresh fruit with yogurt dip.

· Make fancy sandwiches by cutting shapes out of the bread with a cookie cutter (use the crusts and scraps to make breadcrumbs or croutons).

· If you are packing the lunch for a child or spouse, leave little love notes, or jokes, or something inspirational to help them make the day a little more special.

· Make pita pockets with cooked chicken, lettuce, shredded cheese and salsa or mayo.

· A healthy alternative to a sandwich is ham and cheese rolled inside a lettuce leave.

· Use a hot dog roll to make a kid-sized hero sandwich

· Kids love popcorn in their lunch bag

· Stay away from vending machines. Bring your own beverages and snacks. It is cheaper if you buy them from the grocery store.

· Condiments can be stored in a film canister or pill box

· Don't forget to plan dinner leftovers for a great lunch if your work or school has a microwave handy.

Please post some of your brown bag ideas


This is my first blog attempt. In these times when money is leaner and it is harder to stretch a dollar, I will pass on my hints on ways this can be accomplished, as well as freebies that I might find, great websites, my personal accomplishments, etc. I am always looking for what others might have to offer on this subject. I would love this to be a place where all the tightwads can come together and share insights.