Saving Money

Fun Things to do on a Budget

Are wanting to do fun things with your family but don’t want to break your wallet doing so? If you look around in your surrounding towns I’ll bet there are many things you can find to do that are cheap or free. Here’s what we did this weekend.

Festivals

We went to the Summer-fest for our town this weekend. And although there were many things that cost money there were also many things that didn’t cost anything at all.

Local Talent

Friday night had a talent show and beauty pageant which were free.
We walked around all the booths and decided ahead of time where we would want to spend money We watched the parade although a lot of it were the tractors for the tractor race later in the day.

Eating Treats

We didn’t plan on eating meals there as it was easy to go home and eat but to just spend money on treats we didn’t usually have. And we shared. We shared an elephant ear, homemade root beer, fresh caramel popcorn they made in a huge cauldron and the best-smoked brisket I had ever tasted. But had it been farther away we would have brought our own food for part of the day.

Sit a While

Saturday night they had huge hot air baloons and a very impressive fireworks show for such a little town. We brought folding chairs, water and visited with people while waiting for the festivities to start.

Shows

Sunday the guys went to a car show and shine. They got to gaze at cars you normally only find in museums. And they got to gab with the owners.

Finding Things That are Free, Cheap and Fun

So how do you go about finding all these fun things for cheap or free? I found a book of Indiana festivals at the library. It listed every festival all year. Since details are a little sketchy and I wanted to know more I went to a website if listed. If not, I just looked it up. Many towns have a website or at least a Facebook page.

First Fridays

Instead of a festival how about first Fridays or second Saturdays? Many towns have these nights to come to their f town and highlight local businesses. Some have specials for restaurants or special themes. My favorite is Fire and Ice where they have ice sculpting and a chili contest. But beware of the really hot chili.

Parks Department

Another place to look is the town or county parks department. Usually both have something listed. Ours has outdoor movie nights, free music concerts and other family nights. There are walking trails, and in winter, sledding or tubing parks and even winter wonderland walks. One park near us just put in zip lines. There is a cost for this but I found a Groupon for it.

Groupons

Which brings up way to save money. Use Groupons. Put in the area you want and then things to do. You’ll find a huge variety of things from paint balling to plays to escape rooms to amusement parks.

What are you going to try free this week?

I hope this has helped you find things to do at a reduced price or even free. Which idea are you going to try first? Do you have any I missed to share?

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Discount Store Shopping

I’ve gotten some great deals at our local discount stores lately. I came home with an entire cart full, underneath t with 4 cases of Zavia for only a $1 each and we still carried eggs at a dollar a flat and 50 pounds of onions.  Here’s How you can get great deals discount store shopping too. too.

Different Kinds of discount Stores

I shop at several kinds of discount stores. I’ve found clothing, furniture and groceries depending on where I go. And knick knacks. Definitely, too many knick knacks.

Thrift Shops

You can shop at Goodwill or Salvation Army for clothing, dishes, artwork, bedding and so much more. Don’t forget to check out churches that have stores in your area too. Some may have limited hours but usually great deals.

Home Goods

Habitat for Humanity had Restores where they sell house furnishings and things to make your home better. I’ve had great deal on rugs there. hey regularly get hotel furnishings like headboards and nightstands. Office furnishings like desks are plentiful and even appliances. They also have boxes of flooring that are usually new. Just buy extra because when you go back it probably won’t be there.

Grocery Discount Stores

These are my favorite. Probably because I buy more groceries than furniture or clothes. You need to know normal sales prices in your area because sometimes the prices at the discount store as in your regular grocery store. But you can find tremendous deals. I just found out that our discount grocery store marks produce down on Friday afternoons. They are only open half day on Saturdays and not open again till Tuesday. So I got aparagus for $1 a case and strawberries at $1 a flat.

Tips for Shopping at Discount stores

Buy now if you want it. It’s not like department stores where they’ll get another shipment in. And it probably won’t be there when you go back.

Buy extra if its there for a project but…

Returns

Check their return policy. Some places they have a no returns, some have store credit only. You need to find out when you buy it.

Budget

Set a budget. There are some days I sdee so many great deals I would definitely go overboard on my spending. need a budget amount I can spend. Now, I also save it if I don’t find anything there for the next time.

Days and Times

Know your hours and days. Most discount stores have more limited hours than regular stores. So always check ahead.

Learn Their Sales Cycle

Learn their sales patterns. Goodwill always have half off dsys. Salvation Army has different sale days by category. So if you want a certain category go on that day. Leqrn when they mark down items, like the grocery discount above where they mark down produce on Friday. I do that in regular stores also by asking when they mark down their meats.

Make list

Make a list of what you are looking for. It’s great to browse and fihd great deals but you may end up with a lot of things you don’t need just because it was so cheap. Like I have 20 cans of coconut milk in my cupboard when they were 5 for a dollar. Then I looked up recipes. But make sure you find what’s on your list first and then add in those great buys.

Be Flexible

And although it seems to be counter to the last tip, you need to be flexible. Because you never know when you can get strawberries for $1 a flat.

Have a Space for it

It’s no good to buy all these great deals if you don’t have a place to put it. I have seen so many deals I’ve had to pass up because  I just don’t have room. Even worse, I’ve had stuff spoil because I didn’t have as much freezer room as I thought. But I have bought things in mind by just giving them away. I’ve gotten things so cheap even with what we gave away what we had left was still cheap and I was able to bless others.  Tuesday we got a box of 20 pounds of doughnuts for $2! I was able to give more than half away and we still have a great treat!

Pray before you go.

I pray over my list and ask God to help me use our money in the best way possible. I know I have been blessed many times because of it.

There you go. Many more ways to save money. How many of you have used discount stored? Please put which is your favorite in the comments below. Or put your greatest find there.

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We’re Moving into a Camper

Our New Adventure

As I shared in the last post here we have had a lot of new things happening.  New decisions, new move, new school, new church, new (temporary) home. I told my children we have a new adventure awaiting. We’re moving into a camper. Yeah!  I keep telling them it will be an adventure, but I’m not sure whether it’s to convince them or me. Maybe both.

Learning about Campers

I have been watching lots of Youtube camper vlogs. Camper tours, camper organization, fulltime camper living, camper hacks, and getting along in a camper. Although sometimes it’s hard to get along in a large apartment so I think this will be a challenge with losing over 1400 square feet. Through these, I have learned a lot of new things. I now know that Command hooks are my new best friend; with the Instapot coming in at a close second. I know more about grey and black water tanks than I ever wanted to know. Oh, and Sailor showers. Most rv’s have a cut-off water value that you turn off after you get wet to use soap and shampoo and then turn on again to rinse.  With only a 6-gallon hot water heater my teenage daughter will not be a happy camper. Ha ha.

Packing

Since we are moving into a camper it makes packing more of a challenge.  I have packing that goes into storage, packing for the camper and the in-between stuff. Things I don’t need now, but I will need to be able to access when I need to. Like clothes. I have 2 big closets that are almost 6 feet long. Now I have 1 6 inch closet. Yikes!

Minimalism

I think most campers or rvers must be minimalists.  Otherwise, you would never have room to walk. I just never thought I would be one. I have a daughter who is a minimalist. She came over a few months ago and helped me with my kitchen. We took out 6 boxes to Goodwill and 4 bags to the trash. But I know even that won’t be enough. I am actually astonished at how much stuff we actually have. Trying to pare down to what will fit and not be too crowded will be a difficult job. I think I will actually put in the stuff in the camper I want to keep and then box up the rest. We do have a garage there so I can put boxes in there that we’ll need later in front. Like winter clothes. Although I haven’t packed them yet. We had snow here, on spring break.

We’re Moving into a Camper

So our camper was delivered tonight. That was one thing I asked while looking because we have no way to haul it. I lot of them looked at me strangely. Why have a camper unless you’re moving? This will be our home forever how long it takes until we have a house. A house is just a place. A home is the people there and what you make of it. One of my favorite books is First We Have Coffee. It is about a minster’s wife and my favorite line in the book is “Where we have heart room, we have house room.” So while our house may be small, my heart is big and I love to have guests over. So we’ll have the crowds over in the summer with big backyard BBQs and small dinners in the winter.

A Simpler Season of Life

I sat waiting on the patio for the camper to arrive and the stars felt brighter and closer. I didn’t hear one siren wailing in the night. It was peaceful. I know moving to a small town will still have problems. But they won’t be the same problems. I won’t have my daughter coming home from school after another code blue saying” No big deal. they just found a list and a picture of a gun in somebodies locker.”  They’ve had 1 code blue in 5 years here. The congestion on the road is usually a horse and buggy or a farm tractor. I’m looking forward to a slower pace of life. A simpler season of life. Less stuff. More time. Less hustle. More Peace.

A New Season of Life

So I’m looking forward to this new season of life. We’ll only have 2 children at home. That’s a first in 30 years. We’ll have a much smaller space, a lot to do with the property itself but not a lot of cleaning. I hope more time to enjoy. Enjoy each other, family and friends.

What is God doing in your season of life?

 

 

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Making Birthdays Special on a Budget

Making Birthdays Special on a Budget

We have 2 birthdays coming up next week. I have 2 children only a day apart. I love to celebrate birthdays but I also have a small budget. So I’ve learned to get creative. So I look to see what each child likes and they get to pick the meal and dessert. They also get to pick who they would like to come over. We don’t have birthday parties every year with friends. But they can have a friend or two. So let’s look at the different things we need to budget to making birthdays special on a budget.

Food

I let each child choose what they would like for supper and dessert. Usually, they’ll pick a favorite we don’t have very often. Mostly because of the time it takes but I’m glad to make it for their birthday. One daughter loves fried chicken but with everyone there, it takes about 4 chickens and a long time to make them. As my children have gotten older though different ones are glad to help and do something for the other child’s birthday.  Next comes dessert and it doesn’t have to be cake. We’ve had apple, strawberry, chocolate or peanut butter pie. Ice cream cake and of course many different kinds of cake. I make them myself, sometimes with a child’s decorating help. That means lots of sprinkles.

Decorations

Some birthdays have had a theme with decorations usually from the Dollar Tree. But you can find good deals at most stores I always look on end caps for sales. My daughter just found sparkly napkins 70% off for her birthday later this year. If they want a certain character or theme you don’t have to buy all of it in the same line. You can buy one or two things and fill in with cheaper color coordinating paper plates, cups or napkins. Streamers can be any color that goes with it.

Gifts

I have my children give me a list. A written list. If they are just telling me when they see something they like while we are shopping, I probably won’t remember it. So if it’s not in writing then it’s not considered on the list. A great time to look is after Christmas. I find gifts that I know that person would like and stash it in the closet. I do write it down so I remember it. While I’m shopping I always browse the sales. Now I’m not saying to buy something just because it’s on sale or cheap. No. Just be looking around while you are already shopping to see if you find something you know that person would love to have. Something they would pick out for themselves if they could. That’s why I shop early. I want them to love it and know I picked it out specifically for them. I want them to feel loved.

So, do you have any hints on making birthdays special on a budget? Please leave a comment below to share yours.

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Cutting Costs in the Kitchen- When Menu Planning Doesn’t Go as Planned

Cutting Costs in the Kitchen- When Menu Planning Doesn't Go as Planned

Meal Planning

I actually love to meal planning. I have all kinds of meal plans, including 6 weeks of Trim Healthy Mama meals plans, 2 months worth of Weight Watcher meal plans, not to mention all the meal plans I have previously made. My problem is follow through. I love to make meal plans but I don’t follow it. Part of it is that doesn’t sound good today  Sometimes I lose them or forget to check it.  A lot of it is lack of discipline but I think most of it is just because I learned it differently.

Organize

In my previous post Cutting Cost in the Kitchen – Meats    I talked about following sales cycles and buying meat for rock bottom prices. Now I know I have more freezer space than the average person and right now they’re messy. I try and straighten them out about once a month but it’s been about 3 due to surgery. I have 2 fridges with small freezers on the top and a small chest freezer that I hate. What I really want an upright freezer since they would be so much easier to organize. In my mind, it is always looks organized and styled with pretty bins and I can find everything. But since I don’t have one, I keep an inventory list. I keep a list with boxes with a line through it for inventory and had a line to make an x when I use it. Then,  I add in boxes or a new line with the item when I buy more. I also keep ( what is actually for photos) a book with index cards for meals. I use this for my kind of meal planning.

My KInd of Plan

As I said I don’t plan anymore in the traditional sense but I do plan ahead. I keep freezer inventory of main dishes and meats since that’s what we use for dinner. I have my little “photo planner” that is filled with index cards. My first one says menu plan. Serve 1 main dish category, salad, side or starch, vegetable,  and bread. Now, this may seem excessive to you. In fact, I am trying to serve less and simplify a lot of things this year and am starting with this. I was taught this by my grandmother and she was a farmers wife. And the menu for thrashing parties and hay balers was twice as much. But we don’t need to eat like farm hands.  I saw Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Home Cooking on Hulu. He only serves 2-3 dishes per meal. And he’s a chef!!  So I decided if he did that small for meals I could at least try to do that also.

Menu Index Book

My menu index card also has “suggestions” for each day of the week. Example- Monday-Chicken; Tuesday- Pork or Fish; Wednesday- Italian; Thursday- Mexican; Friday is Pizza and movie night; Saturday we try and do a big breakfast, the same with Sunday. Saturday is beef for supper and Sunday dinner is chicken, usually something in the crockpot. For lunch or supper on the weekend that I don’t make a big meal, we usually have leftovers or soup. I make a big pot on the weekend and freeze the rest so we can always have soup. I have 4 different kinds in my freezer now.

Anyway, I have index cards for categories with our family favorites in each.

Salads

Main Dish Salads

Soups

Sandwiches

Lunches

Snacks

Sides

Bread

Chicken

Italian

Mexican

Beef

Pork

Fish

The last cards are for hospitality. And I covered that here.

 

Daily Meal Routine

So then that day, while I’m cooking dinner, I think about the next day. And I pull out of the freezer whatever I want for the next day. Then I cross it off my list. Somedays the children pull what they want for the next night. I do have a plan as listed above that I sometimes follow but I have the flexibility to change.  I keep both my pantry and my freezer stocked so that I can plan meals from the staples and meals I have in there. Since I have the main ingredients it makes it easier. Now I know doing this all at the beginning of the week would probably be the smartest thing to do. I have read books on meal planning.  I know it makes sense. But if you’re like me and have trouble following it, try this way of “planning”.

What do you do for meal planning?

 

 

 

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