It used to be that I kept the few (maybe two?) essential charger cords that we used in one drawer in the kitchen.  Well recently that number has gone from two to 22 (not really but it seems like it!) and the cords just get to be a tangled mess.  I looked into getting a charger cord organizer, but I really don’t like spending money on that sort of stuff and we do not need all the cords out all the time plus we don’t have that much counter space to begin with.

I thought about it for a few days then came up with a simple and totally cheap solution.  Zipper bags.  Yep, zipper bags. You know, the plastic sandwich type ones with the sliding zipper lock?  Those!  I got a box of 15 for $1 (one dollar) at the Dollar Tree. I made sure to get the one with the sliding lock so that they were easy to use for the kiddos too.  I put each different charger cord into its own bag and labeled it with a Sharpie (I love sharpies!) and dropped the bags into the same drawer I had been using.

Simple. Cheap. Easy. Done!

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As a mother to four children I can easily understand that the decision about a kids allowance is difficult.  Should kids get an allowance?  On the one hand, kids chores should be done no matter if there is money tied to doing them or not.  Chores are a responsibility and part of being a family.  Everyone has things that they must do for the household, no matter if they get paid or not.  I totally agree with that point of view.  However, I recently changed my mind and here is why:  there is logic to giving allowances.

Out of my four children, two are still at home with me (my 12 year old daughter Shelby and my 8 year old son Ben).  I recently started giving the kids allowance ($5 each per week) because it accomplished several things, all of which are beneficial:

  • It makes them eager to do their chores:  they now understand if they don’t do the work, they don’t get paid or they lose money from their pay.  This is a good basic concept for Ben to learn early! Because he has a learning disability, sometimes it takes longer for things to really take hold for him.
  • It makes saying “No” a LOT easier: “Mom can I buy a book from the book fair?”  “Can I get some candy from the store?” “Can I get a new toy?” – I can freely say NO to all those requests unless the child wants to pay for the items themselves with their allowance!  This has saved me a lot of money!
  • It lightens my chore load : they do some of the things around my house that I had previously done all myself.
  • It holds them responsible:  “Mom can I go outside to play?”  Only if you have done your chores.
  • They learn how to keep house:  If they learn these skills now, they are more likely to take care of their home when they eventually move out on their own.
  • They are learning to save: Ben saved his money until he has enough for the Lego Batman 2 Wii game (he also made sure to use a coupon!) and Shelby saved her money to go buy some new clothes at the mall (she did not spend one cent of her money once we were there – she decided the clothes were too expensive and not worth it!).  When they ask for a large ticket item, I tell them to start saving their money.  If it is important to them, they save for it!

In addition to chores and an allowance, I have recently started a “Kids Cook” night.  One night every week, the kiddos are in charge of cooking dinner and making dessert.  Since I plan my menu in advance, they decide on a few dishes and desserts they would like to make that month and I put them on the menu.  Again, this lightens my load and teaches them life skills and responsibility.

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Okay, so Ben LOVES his video games and lately he has been bugging me to get him a new xbox console.  Of course my son wants the 360 with 250 GB and all the goodies that go with it!  That is just not possible for me to do right now, so I set out to find him a cheap xboxSomething that would satisfy him and not kill my bank account.  Since the Microsoft Free Xbox deal was never really do-able for us, I needed other options.

There are a few reasons that Ben wanted an Xbox.  Certain titles are only available on Xbox and we did not own an Xbox.  We owned  a Wii and a Nintendo 64.  As far as electronics go, I make sure that we take care of them and I do not replace them unless they are dead and fixing them costs more than replacing them with a newer model.  So, both the Wii and Nintendo 64 still work and we have a ton of games for them and there really was no justification in buying another video game system.  However, a new system would offer new possibilities for gaming.

The Xbox 360 WOW’ed me when I was in the local Best Buy checking them out.  I have to admit it is quite impressive!  Especially on the huge screens!  Still the $300 price tag was just too much. And that only included one game!  More games were $20 and up per game!

I scoured Ebay to see what the original Xbox consoles were going for.  Now that everyone else has bought an Xbox 360 and Kinect, the original Xbox consoles were going for much less!  I was able to get a cheap xbox console (new to us!) along with all the cords needed, two controllers and 18 games for $84 which INCLUDED shipping!  Now that is a deal!

My reasoning for this is :

  • my son is happy because he now has a new Xbox console and a bunch of games to go with it
  • when the prices go wayyyyyyy down on the Xbox 360, the games we have for the older Xbox will still work on the 360
  • there are now a bunch of games that Ben has never tried that he can try now
  • the games for this system can be easily found for under $5 each

In my book this was a win-win!  Sometimes it just pays to wait!

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I love a freshly painted room.  When you paint a room it’s like starting all over. It’s clean, warm and inviting!  It is also a pretty cheap way to liven up your home and make it feel new again! Once you decide to paint your room you need to know what you need to paint a room so that you have all the supplies on hand and don’t need to rush to find something once you started.

*NOTE:  I am not a “professional” painter and I am just relaying my own experiences here. Also, this is just a bare bones budget list.  There are all kinds of neat tools and goodie you can buy to use to paint a room but I am keeping this list simple and short and cheap!

What you need to paint a room:

  • Hammer (to pull out any old nails from the wall and also to put the lid back on the paint can when done)
  • Flathead screwdriver (to take the outlet and switch covers off the wall before you paint and to put them back on again afterwards * also to use to open the paint can)
  • Spackling or putty (to fill any small holes in the wall before you paint)
  • Drop cloth (old sheets, newspapers, etc to keep paint drips off the floor)
  • Paint brushes (use an angled one like in the picture above for cutting in at the top and bottom and around the outlets and light switches)
  • Small bowl for paint (to use when cutting in with the brush)
  • Wet and dry rags (like cut up old tee shirts or towels you can throw away when done)
  • Paint roller and roller covers for applying the paint to the walls
  • Paint tray (to use with the roller)
  • Paint stirrer (get this for free when you buy your paint)
  • Paint and primer (the people at the paint store can help you figure out how much you will need)
  • A small container for storing extra paint for touchups once you are done (I use a clean, washed, plastic mayonnaise jar with a screw on lid * like the one you see in the picture above * free and easy to open and re-close * also easy to see what color is in it!)

Most of these items can be washed and re-used over and over.  Just make sure you store them together so they are easy to find when you want to paint again.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding all the little bits and pieces yourself, you can always just order a painting kit with everything in it like the one over at  Amazon:

What you need to paint a room KIT

 

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How many times a week do you run to the grocery store for “just one thing”?  Then realize as you are walking out of the store that you spent $25 instead of the $5 you planned to spend?  You just spent twenty extra dollars!

Here is a simple trick I learned years ago that might not be so obvious.  If you need one thing that is usually carried at a convenience store (like milk or bread or even a bag of chips) it is a better plan to just get it at the convenience store instead of going to a grocery store.

If you go to the convenience store to get milk, and the price of the milk is $5 for a gallon, chances are really good you are only going to buy the milk then go home since things there are overpriced.  So, total spent is $5.

If you go to the grocery store to get milk, and the price of milk is $3.50, chances are good you will also buy other things while you are in there.  If you end up spending even just $10 instead of the original planned $3.50, you have spent more than you would have spent at the convenience store where milk is more expensive!

Sometimes even if it appears to be more expensive, it is better to go for convenience instead of “savings” which are not realized.

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Over the past few months I have gotten some really good deals over at Living Social. Just this past week I bought a certificate for $16 worth of seafood at a local restaurant and I only paid $3 for it! I like this site much better than Restaurants dot com. With Living Social you get what you paid for. There are no “must spend $35 to use coupon” type restrictions. I previously purchased a $20 certificate for Coldstone Creamery thru Living Social for $10 and it was enough for four of us to get the largest ice cream sundae they make and still have 2 cents credit! LOL! Try Living Social’s website. You just might like it!

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I do several things here at home to save money when I print things from the web.

I recycle paper.   If I have full sheets of paper with something printed on one side that I do not need, when I need to print I will just print on the other side.

I buy generic refill cartridges on ebay.  I only pay about $5 per cartridge and that INCLUDES shipping

I always always always print in “Fast Draft” mode.  Not only does it use WAYYYY less ink, it prints faster too!  You can learn how to set your printer to fast draft here:

http://printscan.about.com/od/howto/ht/Draft_Mode.htm

In our home there is NO computer that is hooked up to the printer all the time.  The kids computer is not even set up to print at all!  My laptop is the only computer we can print from here and it has to be physically walked to the printer and have the usb hooked up in order to print.  This saves us so much unneeded printing!

 

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Ever since I first heard of the website restaurant.com I have been trying to wrap my brain around why people think it is such a good deal?  Today I am actually going to attempt a few different scenarios here on the blog to see if it is ever a really good deal or not.

Scenario #1

Going with a midpriced restaurant you can buy a $25 gift certificate for $10 but the minimum purchase is $35 and an 18% gratuity is added BEFORE they take off the $25 gift certificate.  Hmmmm…… lets assume you go for dinner (which is also a requirement) and the bill comes to $50.  $50 PLUS the gratuity of 18% ($9) and tax of 6.5% (3.25) = 62.25 then you can take off the $25 gift certificate you bought which brings your out of pocket at the restaurant to a total of $37.25….. But remember, you spent $10 on the gift certificate to begin with so the meal really cost you $47.25.  This gives you a savings of $15 by using a $25 gift certificate

Scenario #2

Going with a higher priced steak-house type restaurant you can buy a $100 gift certificate for $45.  Again the minimum purchase is $35 (not an issue since it’s a $100 gift certificate) and the 18% gratuity is added before they take off the gift certificate.  So lets assume you come in at $125 on the bill PLUS the 18% gratuity of $22.50 and the tax $8.12 = $155.62 then take off the $100 gift certificate brings you an out of pocket at the restaurant total of $55.62 ……. then again, add on the cost of the gift certificate of $45 which means the meal really cost you $100.62.  This gives you a savings of $55 by using a $100 gift certificate.

So, apparently you can achieve some savings by using these types of certificates.  However, given the restrictions on them (dinner only, minimum purchases, mandatory 18% gratuity calculated before savings, you cannot use special offers or discounts, some are only valid Sun-Thurs, dine in only, excludes happy hour and holidays and special events, no split checks, only one per party/group/table/person per month, on and on and on) it sounds like a royal pain to try to even use the things.  I think I would prefer just to go to the restaurant of my choice, at the time of my choice, and be able to use any special offers and coupons that the restaurant offers.

I must be missing something since so many people rave on and on about them.  Anyone care to share their experience with this type of gift certificate?

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I have been wanting to get an Ipad ever since they came out.  Unfortunately they have always been out of my price range.  This past weekend I saw an ad for a large discount store that had a tablet computer, similar to the Ipad, on sale for $89.  I got excited because I figured that with all the “little bits” of money I had saved, I probably had enough.  Here is where those “little bits” came from:

$10 in my wallet left over from last week + $40 in birthday money + $10 in rebate checks that came in + $10 I won after on a scratch off ticket I got for my birthday + $27  for some items we sold on half.com = a PAID IN FULL  android tablet computer/reader !

I just wanted to post this to encourage people and let them know that all the little bits here and there can add up!  Oh, and I didn’t get the tablet computer from the store.  They were all sold out.  I ended up ordering a better one online for the same price!

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The holidays are a mere four months away, are you planning ahead yet?  I am in the process of getting all my online ducks in a row (swagbucks, e-rewards, and other incentives that I plan on using to purchase Christmas gifts).  I thought now would be a good time to share a personal, POSITIVE experience with regifting.

My best friend and I met through our sons.  Both are on the Autism “spectrum” and they attended the same school a while back and they became fast friends.  Soon playdates followed and she and I became close friends as well.  She is an avid purse collector.  She loves purses!  That is her “thing”.  Usually I notice her new finds when she uses them but there was one purse in particular that I really liked when I saw her using it.  Boy what a purse it was!  A bright pink, metallic, Ed Hardy purse!   It was not a “purse”…. it was a PURSE! LOL!

Anyhow, time went on and Christmas rolled around.  We arranged to go to lunch and she said she had a gift for me.  It was the purse!  She decided that she did not like it as much as she had thought she would and so she gave it to me!  The fact that she would give me this purse instead of returning it to get her money back just impresses me!  I love this purse and all it’s “bling-y-ness”!

If someone has told you in the past that they really admire something that you have and you are no longer using it, consider “regifting” it.  I think that as long as the item is in good condition and the person would really appreciate and use the item, it is okay to purposefully regift.  Obviously use your best judgement in this situation…. only you know how the people you are regifting to will react.

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