Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dishes.....the eternal ENEMY!!

I don’t know about you--but I HATE doing dishes!! They never end…they make my kitchen seem constantly messy…and they occupy an insane amount of my time!

My children have a tendency to get a *new* glass each time they need a drink--especially during the summer. I want to encourage my children to drink LOTS of water--so during the summer we have color coded extremely LARGE cups.
Orange=my oldest, Green=my husband, Purple=me, Pink= my middle child, Blue= my youngest
 They are to use ONLY this one cup throughout the day. They are in charge of rinsing their cup out after anything but water. This way I am saving time AND stretching my resources.

HOWEVER, it is summer. That means friends come over to play--a lot. They can go through as many cups as my children can! Well, I learned a great lesson from my wonderful mother-in-law about what to do. (She has 35 grandchildren with their sets of parents…just imagine how many cups SHE could go through when people are over visiting!  Each person is given a cup & then we write their name on it.) So, for those whose friends who need a cup…

The “Recipe”:
1. Pull out a cup
2. Write their name on some masking tape
3. Place it on their “assigned” cup while visiting!
Happy Stretching pennies!

P.S. FYI…Since writing this, I have officially decided I need to find some small-medium color coded cups for the school year because I washed WAY too many cups this past school year!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beverage & popsicle savings....

My husband is a big fan of kool-aid, particularly in the summer. When school is in session, I fill my children’s beverage bottles with kool-aid. I know. I know. It’s filled with SUGAR….However, when all my children’s peers around them have Capri Suns, soda, and juice boxes I see this as an “ok” splurge OR substitute. I mean it is a fraction of the cost and they feel like they get a special drink too!!!

When unsweetened kool-aid goes on sale for 10 cents each, I stock up. (And I mean stock up….like around 60+ packets!) Usually, I can find a coupon for buy 10 get 2 free. Quite frankly…I probably only buy it 1-2 times a year! Although this last week I scored. I had my traditional coupons, brought my own bags (which gave me 5 cents off per bag) AND had an ecoupon for 55 cents off.

ANYWAY…I learned this trick from one of my 8 cute sisters-in-law at a family reunion. She was going around asking anyone if they would like some “magic water”. I got really curious and asked her what was in her little baggy she was adding to all the kid’s drinks. Turns out it was just kool-aid with a new snazzy name.
Now here’s the REAL tip (time saver too): You know the premade canisters that have the lids that measure it out for you? (1 quart/2 quarts) Keep them!  When they are empty, they hold 2 packets of unsweetened kool-aid and 2 cups sugar. I got this canister on sale for 99 cents…but it has come in handy for making new flavors and spending SO little money to make! We call it “magic water”.
Why not be friendly to the environment and your budget and make your own sweetened kool-aid? When you use their measurements you usually get 5+ quarts (instead of the 4 is says on the package)!

The "recipe":
1. Pour 2 unsweetened kool-aid packets into the empty container.
2. Use a funnel to pour 2 cups of sugar into the container.
3. Screw the lid on and....SHAKE!
4. Make as much or as little kool-aid as you want!

Another tip:
Every summer my neighborhood is filled with the sounds of the ice cream truck. I swear they make a million bucks. There are days when it will go by 2 times in one day! And I see so many children buying popsicles!! 
Why not make your own “homemade popsicles” with the easy kool-aid mix you just made?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A new product in my bathroom....

I was in Sally’s Beauty supply store the other day, picking up an “apron” for cutting my boy’s hair. (We have always made them stand in the bathroom for easy clean up…and they have always HATED the little tiny hair pieces on them. The removable handheld shower head has always been a saving grace for them when the haircut is done. It has been more difficult as of late because my oldest wants it longer on the top. We decided it was time to have them sit on the chair with an apron. ) ANYWAY… I decided to browse to see what mass beauty supplies they have. They have always resembled a foreign language to me….PLUS, I am always looking to see what is on sale.

What a new idea!!! A NEW PRODUCT…
I found a GALLON of shampoo on sale for $3.49 (regularly priced at $9.99)!! But it got even better when I read the small print: “concentrate”.
In other words, I thought I could maybe dilute it OR just use a peas sized bit to wash my hair. That gallon of shampoo could stretch so far!! I bought 2 and decided to give it a shot.

I tried diluting it and putting it into an old soap dispenser bottle for convenience. Quite frankly, it didn’t work. It was too watery. The reused hand soap bottle was working great! So, I am using that pea sized bit of concentrate to wash my hair, which IS working. It is a far cry better from the Suave I had been using AND cheaper. (I know. I know. Suave isn’t good for your hair—but it was what we could afford.) And now I just found a cheaper and better for my hair way to wash it!

Now when my children use 4 times the needed amount to wash their hair I won’t start twitching about the hard earned money going down the drain!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Packaging for Mailing things can be REUSED!

Mailing people packages can become expensive. Why not be friendly to the environment AND your budget and reuse?

I honestly don’t remember the last time I paid for a packaging envelope to mail something to someone. I learned this little trick from my mom. Every time a big envelope would arrive in the mail, she wouldn’t rip it open, she would cut it open. This provides an envelope that can be reused and taped shut.

All you have to do is:
1. Cut open the flap part.
2. Take a sharpie and scribble out the address.
3. Attach a white label and write the NEW address on it.
4. Insert your items. Tape the flap closed.
5. Bring it to the post office…….
Happy Stretching those Pennies!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Making sure that lotion bottle is REALLY empty…

You know you are getting to the end of your lotion bottle when you have to squirt it several times just to get a sufficient amount of lotion! It continues to get worse and worse. You tilt it, shake it and bop it just to get enough to use.

When our lotion bottles get to this point, I make sure we SQUEEZE every drop out of it.
1. I cut it open with kitchen shears.
2. I use a rubber scraper to remove and the lotion
3. I transfer it into the next bottle to “top it off”.

This easily adds another 2 weeks (or more) of lotion. Thus, extending the bottle and stretching our pennies further. The best part is: when it’s time to “clean up” I give my hands a thorough moisturizing rub before stick the rubber scraper in the dishwasher!

Happy Stretching Pennies!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Garage Sales are a TOOL!

Garage sale hunting can be a great way to find a great deal. BUT it can also be a way to accumulate junk and spend money unnecessarily.

I don’t go to garage sales all the time. I don’t even go regularly. I believe garage sales are a TOOL to save. I wait until I have small list of about 8+ things that I have in mind that I am looking for. Spring & summer are great times to pick up those random items you’ve been wanting, but not willing to buy at full or discounted prices. When I have that mental list I that I sometimes even write down) I will go out. I will go out on a Saturday after sleeping in, a leisurely breakfast and try 4-8 garage sales. I don’t go out for a long period of time and I have a rule to only buy USEFUL things (as defined by our lifestyle and home).

Today, I brought ALL of my children for the 1st time and it went surprisingly well. (Ike was backpacking with the scouts.) Since I’ve started preparing food in the freezer—I’ve really been wanting a new cookie sheet and muffin pan—so I could prepare more in bulk, but couldn’t justify paying full or discount prices just for an extra pan. I got my wish 50 cents total! I also found an inner frame backpacking pack. It was dirty, but in great shape. We’ve wanted to add that as a family activity and Cole will be an 11 years old scout next year. I got it for $10.
Wow. $10.50 We probably hit 8 garage sales—but it was worth it!