Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reusing Envelopes

I have officially run out of envelopes from a box that my parents bought me in college. It was a sad, sad day since I no longer have fresh blank envelopes. : (  You may ask "how did that box last her so long?" (Especially since many of you know how long ago I entered college.) Well, it's because of how often I reuse/repurpose envelopes.

Any envelopes I receive to send back payments and such, I keep. You can just put a white label over an unwanted address or white it out. There's no law against reusing an envelope you just have to make sure it's clear where you want it sent and put the proper postage on it. The only thing that I have come against is that you have to make sure to black out any barcodes. Otherwise the automated USPS system will send your letter somewhere you don't want it to go!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Yesterday I told someone that I canned applesauce last Saturday. (Yum!) She questioned if it was cheaper to can your own food versus buying it at the store. My answer is usually a firm "yes," but it got me thinking as to how much a difference it was.

Let's take the applesauce for example. I paid $28 for 40lbs of apples. It costs me on average $0.25 per canning lid and I processed 19 quarts.
My grand total = $32.75
Price per oz = $0.06
I priced a Mott's Natual Applesauce at $5.99 for 23 oz
Price per oz = $0.26
19 qts of Mott's = $158.34

I just saved $125.59!!! Is it cheaper to can your own applesauce? YES!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Frugal Wrapped Canvas Photos

This tip comes from my friend, Megan. She was telling me a few days ago about a way to get the canvas picture look without the high price tag. In a nutshell she mounted a photo enlargement onto a canvas she bought herself and painted the sides of the canvas. She got this idea from the blog bexcaliber and there are detailed instructions on how to do it on her site (just click on the link). Here is Megan's cost break down:

Total for a two-pack of 11x14 canvases with Joanns 50% off coupon: $6.50
Total for two 11x14 prints from Costco: $5.74
Total for one bottle of Elmer's spray glue from Joanns with 50% off coupon: $2.39
Bottle of black acrylic paint= 75 cents from Joanns
Grand total= About $15.50 total for TWO 11x14 canvases compared to about $60 (Kits Camera) or $80 ( EACH.

That saves you $144.50 if you were going to get one from Shutterfly.

The other great thing is that the spray glue and paint can be used for other projects too. Thank you Megan for telling me about this awesome money saving project!

Uses for Newspaper Roll Ends

Thanks to a previous boss who had me pick these up for him while he was moving, I was made aware of newspaper roll ends. They are the ends of rolls that newspapers print on that they can't use. The Seattle Times here in Bothell, WA give them away for free. Here are just a few ways to use them:
  • packing paper
  • art paper
  • sewing patterns
  • wrapping paper
I'm sure the list could go on and on, but I'll leave that to those of you who comment!

Here's how my daughter used it today.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Coupons and Making The Drive

I needed material to make some PJ pants and decided to order the material online. However when I looked at the shipping price ($6.95) I decided to take the time and make the drive (about $2). The other reason for my trip was that I had a 50% off coupon and didn't want to let such a valuable thing go to waste and expire.
My coupon saved me $20.61 and my drive saved me $5. I just saved $25 by making the drive and using a coupon. I know it may be the opposite in some situations but take the time to figure it out, it might just save you money.

Here's another thought your way. Those PJs that I'm making, they are for a Christmas present. I have already figured out what I'm getting most of the people on my list and have started to look for them on sale or are gathering materials to make them. I am almost done shopping and have hardly spent anything. I can't quite divulge what I'm making and give you break downs for fear of someone on my list figuring out what they are getting, but I will try to remember after Christmas to tell you how I did.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To Costco or Not to Costco

In my money saving schemes I once made a deal with another family to split their Costco membership just so I could save $25/year. Before I did anything rash I actually sat down and did the numbers.

At the time, and just looking at gas, our local gas station was $.10 more expensive than Costco gas. We filled up about once a week for a 11-gallon tank car.
52 weeks in a year*(.1*11) = $57.20
A Costco membership is $50 a year, so just in gas I save $7.20 a year. However, this does not even count the groceries (or cellphones--coming soon) that I save on every year from shopping there. You do have to be careful though because not everything is cheaper. They get you on some items.

So, if I had paid for part of the membership I would have only gotten groceries since we wouldn't have had our own card and would have been to the mercy of whenever my friend went to Costco. Since we get gas there too it is worth it to have our own memebership.
It goes to show that sometimes you should crunch the numbers. Your findings might surprise you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wheat Grinding

Over the weekend my husband and I ground wheat into flour. This was a brand new experience for both of us, but we are pleased with our results.

The budget is pretty tight right now so after we ran out of flour we decided to use the buckets of wheat we had stored. I can't remember how much the wheat was (we purchased it over three years ago), but by borrowing someones wheat grinder we didn't have to pay a cent for three 4-gallon buckets worth of flour.

We used the flour twice yesterday, once for pancakes and once cornbread, and it was so good! I couldn't believe the difference fresh flour made on taste.

THE NUMBERS: My source of wheat (LDS Church's Home Storage Centers, costs $11.45 for a 25lb bag. So 25lbs of whole wheat flour is $11.45 by grinding your own wheat. Going to the store and buying whole wheat flour costs me about $6 for 5lbs which is about $30 for 25lbs. I just saved myself $18! Even if you bought a grinder, the cost of it would be covered over a few years and you would be surprised how many people have grinders just sitting around being useless. They are begging to be used! Begging! (Can you hear them?)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Speaking of Rapunzel....

We're on our way to see "Rapunzel" at Molbaks in Woodinville, WA. For those of you who don't know, Molbaks is a garden nursery and boutique. In addition to other fun events they have year round, they also do plays. And they are FREE. My oldest is pumped! I couldn't be a cooler mom right about now. :)

Below is Molbaks "Rapunzel" times and days. It runs through the end of October.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Rapunzel.....let down your hair! Now you say it, mommy."

This is the phrase I keep hearing from atop my daughters bunk bed as she pleads for me to say it to her. Guess what she wants to be for Halloween?

When she told me that she wanted to be Rapunzel for Halloween I cringed at the thought of paying for a Disney princess dress. I never imagined a Disney Rapunzel dress would be $42.50. $42.50 for a one time wear dress!!! I don't think so. I was talking with my mother-in-law about my daughter's wishes and she immediately thought of a purple skirt that I could use for material. With that in hand I watched Tangled for the millionth time with my daughter and just looked at her dress. I could make that, I thought.

Next trip to the fabric store I scowered the sale patterns to see if I could find anything close to it and low and behold I find the trademarked Disney Rapunzel costume pattern. And even better it was on sale for $0.99! Needless to say I picked it up. The purple skirt wasn't quite enough for the entire dress, but I sifted through my fabric bin and found enough scraps of a white material to do the rest with. I had scrap ribbon (from my wedding 9 years ago) and I just used white thread.

Grand total? $1.08 for one Rapunzel costume that my husband has dubbed "adorable." To make things even more adorable I'm going to use more left over material from my wedding and make our youngest Pascal (the chameleon from Tangled). Her costume will be completely free.

(The yellow is fabric for her very long hair.)

Even if you don't know how to sew you can borrow, trade, and barter for a killer costume this year. In fact I just heard about a store in Kirkland, WA that is doing a costume swap. Its deadline is past (I heard about it too late), but I'm sure there are others like it out there. Just get creative and spread the word. You never know who will have what you need.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Messy Eater

My youngest is a really messy eater. And to make things worse her neck is so skinny none of the waterproof bibs completely cover her neck. All of her shirts have a brown haze on their necklines. Instead of buying new clothes, or new bibs, I got creative and made these:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh Cheap!

I was at a playgroup today and the hosting mother had a craft out. And what an easy and inexpensive craft it was. The kids made paper bag puppets and then put on a puppet show. Each kid used one paper bag, scraps of paper, and crayons. If you were to purchase the materials it would only cost a few cents per puppet! I usually keep small paper bags in good condition for such an occasion and I scrapbook so I always have a pile of scraps for my daughter to use. I could safely do this craft for free.

No need to pay outrageous prices for art kits. A well stocked art corner (with lots and lots of free and recycled materials) are all you need.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Returning for good......hopefully!

I'M BACK! I have survived another child's baby years and am ready to get back into blogging. :) I will be doing it a little bit different than I did before but posts will still be packed with money saving tips and creative ideas to help anyone live more frugally. Hope you enjoy!