Posts Tagged ‘bargains


Pictures for Christmas

As I was putting dates on my calendar this week, I realized that I do not have a free Saturday until December 20th. Needless to say, no free Saturdays does not thrill me, especially with the holidays coming up. I decided that I need to get my rear into gear.

In addition to not having a ton of time on my side this year, I also do not have a lot of money. I have too large of a family to just go out and throw caution to the wind. I started debating on what to do and while my Christmas list is far from done, I think I have taken care of a good part of my family just this morning.

A few weeks ago something crazy happened, we were able to get most of our family together. As we have gotten older, it has become quite the chore to get us all in one place. Somehow, with one random family cookout at my house, everyone showed up. Needless to say, my mom was thrilled and we decided to take advantage of the moment. We took pictures.

We were able to take pictures with each of my sibling’s family units with only one nephew missing. We took pictures of all of the siblings together and with my parents and my siblings. No Olin Mill’s for us. Our casual attire backyard photos are as good as we get. I decided that these would be the perfect gifts for each family, my parents, and my grandmother.

Yesterday, on my lunch break, I ventured into Ross where I was able to find boxed frame sets to make a gallery-ten frames for $10! I picked up two, one for myself and one to separate for gifts. I will likely go back for another today to ensure I have enough to give everyone. I figure I will do their individual family and then one with our parents/siblings to each of my siblings. I will give my parents a large picture of them with their kids, and then do a collage frame or gallery for them of each of their kids with their family and maybe sprinkle in a few random cute pics I have of grandkids.

I, personally, love Shutterfly and downloaded the pics onto their site where I was able to designate which sizes I wanted for each photo. I found a coupon code allowing for 30 free 4×6 prints which knocked down the price a little. Bing, bang, boom! My siblings/their spouses have a gift and so do my parents and grandmother. I will likely do more, but I at least have a start towards Christmas and at a reasonable price. I will likely end up with $30 in frames and around $15 in pictures with that covering six gifts; I think $7 a gift is pretty darn awesome!

Now, if only I can get so lucky with my kids’ Christmas gifts….


Homecoming on the Cheap

Back to school time sucks. The supplies, clothes, activities, blah, blah, blah. Usually, with a little planning, I make it through okay. This year has been rough. It has been mainly due to poor planning on my part, but some has been out of my control. Homecoming was one of those things.

Homecoming was almost a month earlier this year than it was last year and it came up on us fast. Despite my attempts to plan, I was really wondering what the heck we were going to do. We had little time to shop with our crazy schedules and then even less money on top of that. Despite all of the odds, I have to say that Homecoming 2014 turned out okay. Here is a quick rundown on how we made it happen.


The Dress
Needless to say, this is one of the most important things when one thinks of homecoming. It can also be one of the most expensive. This year, however, we got lucky and a friend of mine had a couple of bridesmaid dresses that she no longer wanted. One of the dresses fit rather well and with some alterations it looked great! Total cost for the dress: $25 for the alterations.

I am an accessory girl; I spent years working in retail management for an accessory store. I know the value of some great bling. We hit up the mall one Saturday morning with only about an hour to shop. During that time, we managed to score a pair of sparkly shoes for $17. We purchased a card of earrings (at least nine pairs) for around $7 from H&M and got a nice simple, but blingy, necklace from Claire’s for around $10. The shoes and jewelry are all reusable-even if she doesn’t want to, little sister is coming up fast behind her.

Really, I cannot take credit for the hair. My teen searched the internet and found a couple of great ideas. From there, my sister took over. We spent an evening playing with her hair preparing and determining the best style. Then, my sister came over the day of and took over. Gotta love free!

It really is all in who you know! In this case, it was my mom, who was previously a nail tech. While my sister was doing hair, my mom had control over the mani and pedi. Can we say my daughter is a diva?

My daughter did not have a date, so we had to pay for a ticket which was $15. Normally, we would have to pay for dinner, but she went with a group of friends which met and went together. The group met beforehand for pizza and refreshments. They took pictures together saving us from the “professional” pics offered through the school.

In all, Homecoming 2014 cost us less than $100. The kid looked like a million bucks and had a great time which is priceless. I doubt we could have done any better. I can only hope to do so well next time.


Frolic Remodel/Restoration #2

It has been a while since I posted on the progress we are making with Maybelle. Probably because I really did not feel like we were making much. Really, though, I was surprised last night when we finished working on a project and I took a picture and compared the before and after. She is slowly coming along!

After the roof was sealed and the air conditioner put back into place and sealed, we moved on to the front end. The front end was a little scary. The main issue was that the outside panels had pulled apart allowing us to see inside the old girl. And we could see some old yucky wood. On the inside of the same area the leak had damaged the wall.

To get to the boards we needed to replace, we had to remove the inside wall. New boards were added and then Larry was able to slowly ease the panels back into place and reinforce everything. Pretty impressive.

Then, we had to put a new board inside. A curved board. We went with an ugly paneling which is not a big deal since I will have to paint eventually. We measured countless times since it was an odd wall. Once we got the board back inside we were in for a surprise. It was an inch too short on either side. How? We will never know. Rather than starting over, I decided to find a trim that could cover the gap and was able to find a bendy lattice piece that worked at Lowes for next to nothing.

Once the wall was in place, we had to decide what to do with the bunk. While I liked the idea of having the ability to sleep additional people, I decided that the bunk really would not be that functional for us. We took the piece that normally faced out that had a ledge to hold the mattress in place and made it into a shelf and put it back in the place where the bunk would normally go. It is pretty amazing how much it really opened the area up and I do think the shelf will be much more functional for us.

The front end projects have definitely proven to be difficult and taught me that I am not nearly as handy as I ever thought I was. I have become slightly frightened more than once at Larry who I am pretty sure hates me and Maybelle some days. Really, though, I think he has impressed himself with his handy work.

Larry did make sure to mention to me yesterday that my camper will most likely not end up looking like the campers I swoon over online. Really, that is okay. I am looking forward to seeing the finished project and having a camper that meets my individual needs.

Next up, I think we are going to look into getting some professional help. We found as we started poking around that all of my gas lines have been messed with and cut and closed off and who knows what else. The plumbing is kind of in the same boat. Pretty scared of what that mess will cost me. We will rebuild the dining area and such after that is complete since storage tank and heater are underneath the seats normally and lines will need to be run.

In the meantime while I try to prepare myself for the next challenge, I am nesting big time. I found a great picture to put inside and super cute, and cheap, dishes. I am going to have to get crafty soon and make curtains and cushions somehow. I am not great with a needle. I did manage to buy a sewing machine over the weekend-for only $10! Maybe with some luck I can make something cute.

Ultimately, I am hoping to camp in some fashion, with or without gas and water, before the end of camping season. Fingers crossed!



During; tearing up the wall

During; tearing up the wall

After.  New wall and shelf installed.

After. New wall and shelf installed.


Savings Success

Some of you probably have followed me long enough to know that I am on a money saving kick this year.  I am not, by any means, trying to live like a pauper.  But, if I can maintain my quality of life and save, why not?  I had a few really good successes and thought I would share a few with you.


When I started working on my budget, Larry pointed out that I was paying a lot more for my coverage than his was.  Upon a little research, I found I could save by changing.  I called around, but was not impressed by the other agent’s customer service (not one place I called for a quote returned my calls).  Finally, I went to my agent to see what was up.  Apparently, I was grandfathered into a plan with more benefits-benefits I was paying for but not using.  I got them to give me a new quote on auto which saves me over $20 per month.  I also had them check on my homeowners plan; there, they were able to save me around $300 annually.  My total savings-over $500 a year.  Not too shabby!


I am not one to spend a lot of time or money on myself, normally, but on occasion, I do love a mani/pedi or to get my hair done.  My favorite nail salon offers deals periodically and I purchased one before Christmas for a gift only to find that I could not print it out the way I wanted.  I kept the package, a mani/pedi for $25 (usually $40-$50), and was able to treat myself this week.

Also, this week, I got my hair done.  This was done with a Groupon.  I was able to score a haircut, style, and highlights for $29.  The deal was actually for $39, but they were doing a promotion where they gave $10 for coming back to them.  Great deal for me, and they did a good job.  I will probably go back.


If you have never been to Khols, you are really missing out.  I had two great trips over the last few weeks.  First, I was able to score bras for my teen for less than $3 apiece.  They were on markdown with an additional 25% off.  Added bonus, I have an awful time buying bras for my teen because she is an odd size and she actually likes them!  I am going back to see if I can get her a few more.

My second Khols experience was a total fluke.  I did not plan to go or plan to be shopping at all, really.  My brother needed to run in and, while he was looking, I found household clearance.  I was able to get four plates (which I really needed), a bathmat (another necessity), and a new shower curtain.  As I wandered I also found some earrings for my grandmother and a cosmetic gift set that is going to be super cute in my teen’s Easter basket.  Everything was on sale with the additional 25% off coming to just over $30.

I mentioned above that I will be going back to for more.  You are probably wondering why.  Well, I got a coupon in the mail for 20% off and, then, my mom gave me two coupons for $5 off on any purchase.  I cannot resist!


This is one area that I usually do not get to use a lot-either full price or otherwise.  I generally am a homebody anymore which is kind of sad because I love to be out and about.  That is probably why I am so excite about these finds.

First, we have a great music festival coming to town this summer.  It was announced a while back and, I was able to score tickets before they went on sale.  Doing this, I was able to save $10 a ticket.  I would have gladly paid the full price which I thought was not bad either at $35 per ticket for a day of music.  But, because I was actually paying attention, I got them for $25 apiece and I cannot wait for the show!

The other deal that I got on entertainment will, hopefully, get used tonight.  Our newspaper has a deal of the day sort of like Groupon.  This week, they offered tickets to hear bands play at a local vineyard which just happens to be one of my favorite places.  Pairs of tickets are half price at $10 apiece and you could get two packages.  Weather permitting, we will be there tonight and still have a cheap date night (or girls night out) for later on.

You can live well and not spend a fortune.  It is totally worth your while to check out the deals around town and to do some research.  Hopefully, I will have more to share in the coming weeks and months on what I have saved!  If you have found a great way to save, please share; I am always looking for new opportunities to improve!


Budgeting-Saving With Simple Changes

January was a particularly hard month for me financially.  I had let a few things slide over the holidays and was hit hard by reality when, at the end of the month, I was broke.  I decided then and there that I needed to do better.

Now, generally, I feel like I am pretty frugal.  I use coupons, but only when I really feel like I am getting an amazing deal.  My kids love going to Plato’s Closet (a consignment store for teens) and Goodwill find their jeans and wardrobe staples.  Also, for awesome household items, I am a negotiating queen with vendors at our local flea market and junk stores (it is a pretty awesome skill that can be a little embarrassing for Larry and the kids). Around the house, I am constantly turning off lights, we use the fireplace to keep the heating bills down and a programable thermostat (best thing ever), and we have weather proofed windows and doors.

In an effort to do better, I started talking to WB (Work Buddy).  She is also trying to do better and work towards goals.  We both have started reading, researching, and sharing our finds.  One thing that we agreed we should do is set a budget.

I did some research Friday night and, with suggestions from my Twitter friends, found a budget that I felt I could utilize.  For the life of me, I cannot locate the blog that I found it on.  I will keep looking and share it with you later, for anyone interested.

Then the fun began (I hope you can sense my sarcasm).  Yes, I spent my Friday night pouring though my checking account transactions filling them into the budget so that I could see just how much I spent and where.  It was shocking.  If you have never done this, I really suggest doing so, even just once, to see where it all goes.

My largest expenditure was food.  I alone, not including anything that Larry purchased, spent $600 on food.  This is grocery store and eating out combined.  I am certain that is high due to not having a kitchen due to renovations, but we can definitely do better.

My second largest was clothing.  It was also an odd month for my spending in this department.  I purchased my tennis shoes and new dress shoes which I was in need of.  My youngest needed tennis shoes and my eldest had to have waterproof pants and a new coat for a ski trip.  These, partnered with my other finds totaled a whopping $380.  Again, I can do better.

I started setting my limits for future months and decided to share my finds and plan with Larry.  As he was looking at the expenses, he noticed that I pay a lot more than he does for car insurance.  I started looking around and can, potentially, save $30+ per month by switching!

Here are a few things on my personal to do list; hopefully, they will give you aha moments like some of them did me.

  • Look into switching my car insurance.  I want to get a few more quotes before making my decision.  Then, whatever savings I find, will be put into my car payment to pay it off more quickly.
  • Get quotes on new homeowner’s insurance
  • Pay off credit cards
  • Get the current pay off on my car.  With credit cards gone, I can focus on this expenditure which is a large chunk of my money each month.
  • Switch utilities to budget plans rather than having fluctuations each month for easier planning.
  • Look into changing phone carriers.  My friend at church just got a great new plan that is comparable to mine and less $$; they are buying out contracts for people that switch.  Worth looking into.
  • Meal plan and limit trips to the grocery store.  I always do better when I have a menu in place and a list to go by.  It will be a bit of an adjustment planning this far in advance, but it will also limit the back and forth that we usually have over what everyone wants for dinner.

January Bargains

20130127_171531 (1)

Normally, I try not to shop a lot in January.  We don’t need a lot being right after the holidays.  This weekend, however, I had to shop; I was pleasantly surprised with the results that I had and thought I would share a bit.

First, on Saturday, my tween had to have new tennis shoes.  I had promised her that we would get some this weekend when it was just the two of us as her sister dominates the conversation anytime we enter a shoe store.  Originally, I planned to go to Rugged Warehouse and get some Nikes or Reeboks.  But we went into a Shoe Department first.  There we scored a pair of New Balances for her at $32.99.  I was pleased; New Balance is my favorite brand.  Added bonus for this stop, shoes were buy one get one half.  I got myself a pair of Teva ballet style flat shoes for $9.99-they were originally $49.99.

Then, we hit up Target.  This is another store that is better to shop with one kid.  We didn’t find much this trip, but I did get the kids some hats that were marked down to $1 and a multipack of three gloves for $1.  We can never have enough of either this time of the year.

Sunday was my big find day.  I had to go out again, this time for the teen.  She is going on her first ski trip and had to have pants and a coat.  She hates coats and tends to wear her Northface all winter instead of a true coat.  The other necessity that I had to get was makeup.  I dropped my foundation last week and the bottle busted.

We started our search looking at Goodwill.  I figured it would be a hard find, but wanted to give it a try.  We did not find the gear, but I did uncover a super cute cave girl costume for my tween to wear this Halloween.  It was only $1.95; the package said it was originally $24.95.  It was just the dress, but accessorizing will not be difficult and I have plenty of time!

After Goodwill, I headed to the ghetto CVS.  I prefer to shop the ghetto CVS; the store closer to my home is very high traffic and the markdowns are gone before I ever see them.  I was able to get 2 foundations originally $12.99 a piece for 75% off and then I had a $2 off coupon for each of them.  I was also able to score eyeliner at 75% off and mascara at 50% off.  Both of these had coupons as well.  At the end between the sales, coupons, and my Extra Care Bucks, I spent $6.  This also included three sodas and a candy bar for the tween.  I could have done a dance!

Finally, we resigned that I was going to have to pay a fortune for ski gear.  We headed to Gander Mountain.  There, we tried on many various on piece contraptions, jackets, and lined pants.  We settled on a jacket that was on mark down for $29.99 and pants that were regular price at $49.99.  When we got to the register, the pants rang up half!   It was still more than I wanted to pay, but I figure they can be used for many years to come between the two kids.


Christmas Bargains

I try to be a good shopper.  Some days, I do better than others.  Right now, I am trying extra hard to watch my spending.  Christmas this year is on a shoestring budget, so I am trying hard to find great deals in addition to creating my own crafty gifts.

Last week, I made my way to the dreaded mall.  I had originally hoped to avoid it, but I was not able to get a key item that one of my kids wanted online Cyber Monday.  Plus I had a gift cheque that I wanted to use for either myself or my mom.

Justice-Normally, I always have a coupon for this store.  Somehow, last week, I did not.  Luckily, they were able to allow me to use one for 40% off that was available by simply verifying my email address.  I was able to knock out three gifts in this one store at a discount. Go me!

Lane Bryant-I love my rewards card; please, pay me to shop in your store.  It is like Christmas anytime I receive one.  Last week, was no different, I had received a cheque for $40.  I was able to find two shirts; one for $39.99 and the other on mark down for $19.99.  When I got to the register, the shirt marked $39.99 rang up $29.99.  I was able to get both shirts for just over $10-one for me and one for my mom.

CVS-I hear great stories about CVS, but have not been able to master their couponing using the Extra Care Bucks to get all my shopping for virtually nothing.  It is awesome, but I just do not have the time to devote to being that shopper.  But, last week, I ran in for one item and was able to get an Extra Care Buck for $2.  While there, I noticed Axe Gift Sets and almost got one for my brother for $9.99.  Today, there is a coupon for $3.75.  This means, I can get it for $4.24.  And, then, I get another $2 Extra Care Bucks to use on something else.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me.  I just hope that they still have them tomorrow when I head to the store on my lunch break.

I am confident that there are more great deals to be discovered and will be searching for bargains throughout the rest of the season.  I hope to have more to deals to share as we move closer to Christmas and hope that you find some deals as you mark names off your own lists.  Happy shopping!

Twitter Updates

  • RT @texasstalkermom: Fuck. -me, about 456,782 times a day 1 week ago
  • RT @texasstalkermom: I’m not trying to be someone new in the new year, just me, but even more awesome. 2 weeks ago
  • Rang in the year with my kid, bonus kid and best friend. Spent the day with the kids and another best friend. I like where 2019 is headed. 2 weeks ago
  • RT @SwampyTrump: I just wish there had been signs that trump would be such a fucking disaster as a president- like bankrupting a bunch of b… 2 weeks ago
  • RT @mjs03093641: My New Years resolution is to be more active. Sexually. 2 weeks ago