Category: Saving Money 101

Saving 101: How I Just Got A 2-1 Laptop For $279

HP 11.6inch 2-1 Tablet / Laptop with 500 gig storage.

With HP and other brand 2-1 Laptops starting at $350 and the Surface starting at $500, how did I manage to get an HP 2-1 Laptop for only $279?

Well, I took my time and did some research, using Google shopping, Amazon and Best Buy as my starting places. In looking at Best Buy, I noticed that they sold some refurbished machines. Some were sold through partners of Best Buy and some were sold and warrantied for 1 year by Best Buy’s Geek Squad. It was in looking over these refurbished machines directly from Best Buy that I saw they had a couple of refurbished 11.6 inch, 2-1 laptops for $279 = I was sold. I had seen those Surface ads for awhile and I really wanted one, and this was a close second and nearly $250 less! With the warranty, I felt this was a sold purchase and I saved over $100 on the price of a new version of this machine.

Since I am writing this post on this new machine, all is well so far and I can’t wait to flip it over and use it read some Kindle books I haven’t been able to read very well on my old machine.

Search Ebates for coupons from your favorite retailers like Best Buy for $20 – $1000 off of products and 12% cash back on all purchases.

Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links.

Tips And Tricks From Richard Syrop’s Effortless Savings – Part 1

 

effortless_savings

I was given the opportunity recently to review Richard’s Syrop’s frugal living / simple living book: Effortless Savings: A Step-by-Step Guidebook to Saving Money Without Sacrifice. Instead of just a basic review, I thought I would share some tips from his book, along with some tips and commentary of my own and turn this into a Saving Money 101 series. This might sound cliché, but following just one tip from this book would be worth more than the purchase price!

Richard starts his book business with a very smart move, not only does he write a book with tips that can save you $1000’s per year, but he ties the book into the Effortless Savings Website, which includes links to many of the money-saving programs he mentions.  Please note that this review is not an endorsement of the businesses in the book and on the site, since I have not take the time to research them individually. Therefore, it is recommended that you research the companies before purchasing anything through them.

On To the Tips

We are going to start at the beginning, Chapter 1 – Telcom Services, and share a couple of great tips (but certainly not all – you have to get the book for that):

  1. You can save up to 40% on your mobile / cell phone plans by going with a MVNO (a Mobile Virtual Network Operator), which is basically a wholesaler for mobile phone services. Each major carrier has someone wholesaling their service, including Verizon (Page Plus Cellular). There is also a pre-paid wireless version for most of the major mobile carriers.
  2. You can usually negotiate your telephone/internet/TV bills down, especially after the end of a promotional package. Although Richard suggests having a “poker match” with phone / utility company and take the route of trying to cancel the service to get the rate, I found that up-front honesty worked for me – maybe this is the difference between a male and female approach. About two months ago, I called our phone company as our intro rate had ended and our bill had gone up about $20 per month.  I just told them that this was more than we could afford and that I had shopped around and seen that I could get phone and internet for $20 – $30 less per month, but I didn’t really want to go through the hassle of changing companies. The rep was very helpful and our bill dropped by nearly $20 a month going forward.

Want to know more about how to get the best rate on telephone, mobile phone, internet and other services? Purchase a copy of: Effortless Savings: A Step-by-Step Guidebook to Saving Money Without Sacrifice today!

 

Disclosure: I was given this eBook for free. I was under no obligation to do a review, but chose to do so.

10 Things For Children To Do This Summer Under $10: #3 – Arts and Crafts With What You’ve Got

10 Things Kids Summer Under $10 Art
A great idea for a rainy summer day!

Last week, we played at the park – a great, simple, and usually free activity. However, as much as we would like to be outside every day in the summer, the reality for most of us is that we just can’t. Sometimes it rains (thank God), sometimes someone doesn’t feel good, sometimes we all just get burnt out, or like many moms, sometimes we just have work to do.

Update 2017: Although we do still do some simple crafts for fun and learning, we have upped our game a bit and we opened an Etsy shop with our handmade items: LoveBySarah Etsy Shop.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Rain, Rain, It Is OK You Are Here

Two of these things happened this June – it rained, which is a real shock here in Idaho – and mom needed a couple of quiet hours to write. With no money in the budget to purchase something, I looked around at our supplies and found:

And there you have the makings of a classic collage project! I remember doing these in school many years ago.

Basically, you give the children a pile of pictures (mostly magazines), they pick out things that are interesting to them, then they cut out the pictures and paste them onto construction paper.

My children spent nearly two hours looking through the pile of pictures and cutting and gluing. Even the 3 ½ year old was able to do most of the project on her own and was occupied nearly that two hours.

A Little Psychological Insight

One side benefit of this project is that you learn something about your child after doing the project – what they like, what interests them, and why. My girls love pretty girly stuff, like pink bedding and kitties. But I also found that my oldest was becoming interested in weapons. I may want to give her archery lessons in a year or two, but I also realize that a few of the shows they were watching (Star Wars, for one) was more violent than they need to be seeing and so we will wait until they are older to watch such things.

The end result of the project was a great success – two hours of purposeful, useful time and some insight gained into the thoughts and likes of my children.

10 Things For Children To Do This Summer Under $10: #1 – Summer Reading Program

10 Things Under $10
10 Things Under $10
What is your favorite free or frugal summer activity?

Update for 2017: Our girls STILL love the summer reading program and we are doing it again this year!

The first item on our 10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10 list is not only free (or nearly if you are like me and have the occasional late fee), but most summer reading programs also give the children stuff – just for reading!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Our local library’s summer reading program lasts from June 1st – July 31st. There are 3 levels of prizes, which usually include free meals @ local restaurants for the children and free skating, bowling and/or other activities. At the end of the program, the children get a shiny new book. Last year, my children picked out Boxcar Children books.

As you can see in the photo, the girls are excited for the program again this year! As a bonus, my older girls sometimes read the required 20 minutes to the younger one. More reading, less TV, real quiet time, and prizes – this is our families #1 thing to do this summer under $10.

Now go ahead and read the rest (yes, I know there is only 5. I promise someday to get to 10):

10 Things To Do This Summer #2

10 Things To Do This Summer #3

10 Things To Do This Summer #4

10 Things To Do This Summer #5

Extreme Cheapskate Challenge 3#: What Are You Willing To Pay For?

Extreme_CheapskateChallenge_3

I have enjoyed learning through this series. If you haven’t read them yet, please check out Extreme Cheapskate Challenge #1 and Extreme Cheapskate Challenge #2.

For the last of the Extreme Cheapskate Challenges, I ask the question:

What are you willing to pay for?

We can’t get everything for free or even cheap – and there are just somethings that are worth our money and resources.

For me, these are the things I am willing to pay full (or nearly full) price for:

  • Special occasion meals out at a Japanese / Sushi restaurant.

  • Homeschool curriculum that support ministries or missions like YWAM (affiliate), Voice of the Martyrs Kids of Courage, or Master Books.

  • A quality bed.

So please share this week what you are willing to pay for.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Extreme Cheapskate Challenge #2: In What Area Of Your Budget Could You Be More Extreme?

Extreme_CheapskateChallenge_2.jpg
In what area of your budget could you get more EXTREME in?

I am humbled by last weeks Cheapskate Challenge #1. I posted the challenge, many women responded to the post, and I learned that I was not a frugal as I thought – or as I could be.

This is what lead me to this weeks challenge:

In what area of your budget could you get more EXTREME in?

For me, I realize that it is time I start making my own soaps and other household items, especially since I have a very sensitive child and all our soaps and detergents need to be fragrance free. I want to get extreme in our household / necessities budget.

If you have a great homemade, fragrance free recipe for:

  • Soap
  • Laundry Soap
  • Dish Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Other???

Please share it!!!

Don’t forget to share where you could be more extreme in your budget!

BTW, If you don’t have a budget, then You Need A Budget!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Extreme Cheapskate Challenge #1: What Is Your Extremism?

Extreme CheapskateChallenge_1,jpg

In light of the recent contact from the TLC Reality Show “Extreme Cheapskates – Season 3,” I have decided to lay down a challenge to my community.

What is the most EXTREME thing you do to save money? 

I watched a couple of clips of the show and here is what some folks do:

  • Don’t use toilet paper, use soap, water and towels instead.
  • Shower together / time shower for 2 minutes, sharing their shampoo (like taking the suds off of the woman’s head and putting them on his).
  • Dumpster diving.
  • Entire living room furniture consisted of a TV on the floor and a card table with 4 folding chairs, one of which was broken.

One of the most extreme things we do to save money is not use paper towels.  I purchased a cheap pack of washcloths from Wal-Mart – a 12 pack for $4.95 – and we use them as napkins, to clean up messes, and as rags for cleaning. The last for about a year and we save around $150 a year on paper towel costs.

I look forward hearing your stories.

Feed A Family For Less Than $60 Per Week: Asian Week


I love Chinese Buffets. It is a weakness of mine. However, even though the price of a buffet usually ends up less than a sit down restaurant, we still don’t eat at one very often. So, I decided to do my own week long Chinese Buffet, making a different Asian dish each night and having leftovers for lunch. The challenge is to use similar ingredients and keep the budget under $60 for the week!

Asian Week Menu:

  • Orange Chicken, Rice & Veggies
  • Pho (a Vietnamese soup)
  • Green Thai Chicken Curry with Pineapple & Carrots, & Rice
  • Pad Thai
  • Lettuce Wraps + Pho
  • Sesame Peanut Chicken Noodles
  • Fried Rice

Note: Our breakfasts were American – we ate oatmeal (x3), grits (x3), and waffles (x1), eggs with some of the hot cereal days (x3)

Shopping List:

  • Orange chicken (frozen, much better than what I can make from scratch) – $6.95
  • Fresh veggies – cabbage, onion, romaine lettuce, shredded carrots – $5.75
  • Fresh herbs / Spices – ginger root, cilantro, garlic – $1.60
  • Lime juice – $.80
  • 2.2 lbs rice noodles – $2.75
  • 3 lbs chicken breasts – $6.95
  • Fish sauce – $2.00
  • Thai Chile Sauce – $2.00
  • Curry paste – $4.95
  • Sesame oil – $3.00
  • 2 cans coconut milk – $3.00
  • 1 can pineapple – $1.40
  • Tamarind concentrate – $2.65
  • Rice Vinegar – $3.25
  • Soy Sauce – $4.00
  • Ground turkey – $2.65
  • Water chestnuts – $.75
  • Grits – $2.40
  • Eggs – $1.75

Note: We got most of our Asian ingredients from an Asian Market. They get imports that are usually less expensive than similar items in the American stores.

Pantry List:

These are items we purchase throughout the year in bulk and usually have on hand.

  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Oatmeal
  • Baking Powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Peanut Butter

Curious about my recipes? Follow my blog and I will post them over the next couple of weeks.

Print Free Coupons

Not sure what your budget for your groceries even is each week? You Need A Budget!

Here are some HOT Asian Cookbooks to inspire!

 

 

Saving Money 101: The Chocolate Secret

Saving 101: The Chocolate Secret
Saving 101: The Chocolate Secret

There are only a few delicacies affordable for the average person today and chocolate is one of them.

In an effort to make chocolate more affordable to our family, I have found a couple of secrets and I am sharing them here with you.

Least Expensive Quality Chocolate Bars

I only eat bars with 60% or more coco in them – no Hershey’s® for this gal! My two preferred bars are Lindt® and Ghiradelli® 60% or 70% cocoa bars. The typical price I have seen for these 3.5 ounce bars are around $3.00 per bar. Walmart® has the best prices I am aware of for the past year, ranging from $2.40 – $2.70 per 3.5 oz bar and this was the price I was (willing) to pay…until I discovered a secret:

If you go to the baking isle of Walmart® and look amongst the baking chocolate, Ghiradelli® has a 4.0 ounce baking chocolate bar – for $2.08.

So, not only is the bar bigger, but it costs $.30 to $.60 less than the candy bar. The ingredients are the same as the one in the candy aisle, only the packaging is different. I (although I admit I don’t have the most discerning palate) can not tell the difference in flavor / taste when I compared the two.

Now, in all fairness, when I went to the candy aisle this week to pick up the 3.5 oz bar for the photo shoot, I did notice the candy bar was on sale- $2.23 to be exact or $.63 per oz. The baking isle bar is $.52 per oz, so still a better deal, especially if you pick up a few at a time.

If you don’t have a Walmart nearby (or don’t like Walmart), you can get a Ghirardelli Bitter Sweet Baking Bar, 60% Cacao-4 OZ bar from Amazon for $2.99.

Make Your Own Simple, Healthy, Cheap Chocolate

I came across a recipe awhile ago in my search to make my own chocolate using coconut oil, and after a little modification, I can produce a homemade chocolate bar that I enjoy and know is healthier and cheaper than most of what can be found on the store shelves. The recipe follows:

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup raw cane sugar

½ cup cocoa powder (100% cocoa)

Instructions:

1) Grind the raw sugar (blender, coffee grinder, etc..) – this makes it “powdered” and will dissolve easier in the coconut oil.

2) In a small pan, heat the oil on medium-low. Add the sugar and stir gently for a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

3) Add the cocoa and stir until the cocoa is well blended.

4) Pour the mixture into a well greased small baking dish and then put in the refrigerator to set for a couple of hours – or if you can’t wait that long to dig in, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5) Since coconut oil melts at 76 to 78 degrees, you will have to store your chocolate bar in the fridge unless you keep your house cooler.

The best deal I could find to purchase organic, dark chocolate online was for Newman’s Own Organics 2.25oz Dark Chocolate Bar for $2.57.

The Work At Home Mom: A Penny Saved

Stack Of Pennies
A Penny Saved…

What IF, the first thing you need to do as a mother working from home, is not to figure out which product to sell, MLM to get in on, or party business to throw next? What if, instead, you need to figure out how to make use of what you already have?

Ben Franklin said: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And God calls us to be a good steward of the money and things we already have.

Could you consider for a moment that you might do more for your family by learning how to budget, save, and make use of what you already have than you would by selling Amway (or Avon, or Scentsy or ???)? Not that I am nay-saying these legitimate businesses, some of which have great products.

I am just suggesting that before you commit yourself to a business and the work that comes with it, that you are sure you are already doing everything you can with what you already have.

It is a much simpler life (and therefore a lot less stress) to do so.

Here is an example:

Our “household items” budget was too big and we needed more money to spend on food. One item that we were purchasing monthly kept bothering me – paper towels. We were spending $15 – 20 a month on paper towels and that just seemed like a waste to me. So, I purchased a 12 pack of colorful wash-cloths for $5 and started using them as our cloth napkins at the table. We started to use old towels as rags for cleaning and we almost eliminated the use of paper towels in our household. Even considering washing a load of towels every week or so, we are saving at least $15 a month from our budget.

This is $15 I did not have to go and earn. I just made a simple change in how we do things around the house. Everyone got use to it and our environment is a bit happier for it too.

The practical to do:

Make a list of why you want to start a businesses from home. If one of the main reasons is money, then make a list of what you want the money for. Then, consider it for a few days. Are there other ways to get the money?

  • by saving from income already coming in

  • by reducing your budget in some way

  • by selling things you don’t really use or need

  • by creating something out of stuff you already have and selling it

Next: How to Start Budgeting

What if you have no idea what your household budget is, or what you spend on anything in a give month? Where should you start?