Penny Pinching Tip – Using Butter Wrappers to Grease Pans

using butter wrappers to grease pans

using butter wrappers to grease pans

When it comes to saving money, it’s not just one thing that adds to huge savings, it’s tons of little tiny actions/methods that add up over time.  I learned this tip from my grandmother, and while I know some of you already use it, I thought I would share, in the off chance it might be life changing for one of you. :)

Next time you finish a stick of butter, instead of tossing the wrapper in the bin or compost pile, place it in a ziploc bag in the fridge.  Then, the next time  you need to grease a pan, take the butter wrapper out of the bag and smear the leftover butter remnants all over the pan.  You don’t have to use any additional butter, AND you get one more use out of the wrapper.  Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm inside?  I thought so.

Now go forth and save, fellow penny pinchers.

~Mavis

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15 Ways to Stop Spending Money

15 Ways to Stop Spending Money

15 Ways to Stop Spending Money

Okay, so now that the holidays are over are you pouring over your credit card statements wondering how you are ever going to catch up?  Honestly, I think it’s the worst to feel stressed out by money problems—it makes everything in life feel overwhelming.

If you are trying to catch up, here are a couple of tips to help you stop spending and get you back in the black.  Think of them as steps toward good health, because let’s face it, stress is a drag.

  1. Stay out of the stores.  Seriously, limit the temptation and just stay out.  I guarantee that if you look hard enough, you will find an amazing deal every time you walk into a store.  Even great deals cost money, though, so if you’re looking to save, it’s best to avoid them all together.
  2. Decide on a recreational activity other than shopping.  I know tons of people who “go shopping” for something to do.  Try coming up with something else to replace the habit with when you get the urge.  Choose a new t.v. series to watch, pick up knitting, exercise…whatever, just do it every time you get the urge until it becomes your new go-to when you are bored.
  3. Be honest with yourself about needs vs. wants.  I know we have all heard of this before, but how often are we honest about it?  Next time something breaks and you are looking to replace it, ask yourself, “Can I live without it?”  The answer might surprise you.
  4. Issue yourself a 30 day challenge.  30 day challenges are all the rage right now, so you will be soooo cutting edge if you try it.  Try to go 30 days spending money on NEEDS only.  Make a list of the wants that you forego—if at the end of 30 days, they still seem important, consider them.
  5. Make a list.  Stick to your shopping list.  Impulse purchases, even at the grocery store, really add up.
  6. Consider simplifying and minimalizing.  I know this one kind of sounds weird, but when you simplify your life by eliminating clutter, it really highlights just how crazy our spending can sometimes get.  Force yourself to sell, trash, or donate unused items.  It will give you something to do and make you really face your purchases head on.
  7. Go cash only for a month.  Ask a friend to hold your credit cards.  Use only cash and see how well you do when you can see the finite amount dwindling.
  8. Ask yourself if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt when it comes to shopping or actually owning and using the item.  If it is the first, you may want to evaluate what need your really fulfilling {not trying to go all therapist on you there}.
  9. Start a spending moratorium with a group of friends.  Meet once a week to go over budgets, etc.  It will help you stay accountable, plus it will give you a social event to look forward to each week.  Several years ago, Oprah showed a group of women doing this—they were each saving money for different reasons—they made it sound actually kind of fun.
  10. If you don’t shop for you, but instead like to give gifts to others to show your love, consider coming up with new ways to show love–offer services and emotional support instead, or even better, offer your uninterrupted time.
  11. Make a spending savings account.  Every time the urge to spend something that  isn’t a “need” strikes, write it down in a little notebook instead of purchasing.  Include EVERYTHING from a coffee to a new shirt.  At the end of the month, you will have a really concrete idea of how much money you are spending on unnecessary items.  The number might shock you.
  12. Use cash and take only the amount of money you need into a  store.   While it isn’t always possible to know exactly how much you will need, you can usually estimate pretty close.  If you aren’t carrying enough cash to cover extras, you simply won’t put them in the cart.
  13. If a spending freeze is impossible, decide how much “extra” money you will get a month.  When that money is gone, the spending for the month is done too.
  14. Consider quitting possible addictions–if you are a junk food junkie, gambler or a smoker, the costs add up.  Quitting will put a major halt on spending.
  15. Become addicted to saving instead of spending.  Spending is a habit, just like saving is a habit.  Repeat the habits long enough, and they will stick.  Make a conscious choice to replace old habits with better ones.

Financial freedom is a really big deal.  While money can’t buy happiness, being responsible with it certainly can.  Stressing over money just isn’t worth the toll it takes on relationships, your mental and physical well-being, and your overall goals.

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Money Saving Tips for Hosting Christmas Dinner on a Budget

Money Saving Tips for Hosting Christmas Dinner on a Budget

Money Saving Tips for Hosting Christmas Dinner on a Budget

Christmas has to be the most expensive time of year.  I don’t think it was meant to be that way, but it has certainly evolved into a real potential financial crisis.  My kids are pretty good about the presents part of the equation, they really don’t ask for that much.

Christmas dinner is where keeping the costs low and still maintaining traditions takes a little bit of effort.  The good news is that with planning, it really is possible to put on a great spread for family and friends without breaking the bank.

Here are couple of tips to get you on the road to a tasty meal for a price you can afford:

  1. Make a menu and STICK WITH IT.  Making a menu allows you to stock up on specialty food items when they go on sale.  The earlier you make the list, the more sales cycles you have to score deals.
  2. Bring the outside in with your table decor. Where we live there are plenty of pine and cedar trees, not to mention pine cones.  If that doesn’t have all the makings for a traditional Christmas centerpiece, I don’t know what does.
  3. Shop seasonally when it comes to fruits and veggies.  Providing a grapes in your fruit salad is going to be a heck of a lot more expensive than oranges.
  4. Have everyone bring a dish.  If you can get away with providing the staples, and your guests provide the sides and appetizers, you can cut the cost SIGNIFICANTLY.
  5. Figure out proportions.  Over-cooking leads to overspending.  There is a delicate balance between having plenty and having an offensive amount of left-overs.
  6. Take advantage of store promotions.  Most stores offer free turkey with minimum purchase.  {If they offer it only at Thanksgiving time, consider buying and freezing your Christmas bird then.}
  7. Now is the time to transfer prescriptions.  I know this sounds crazy, but lots of stores will offer gift cards for transferred prescriptions.  Transfer them now, and put the gift card to good use by buying the groceries.
  8. Cut energy costs by dropping the thermostat if you are having a lot of guests.  The sheer amount of people will raise the temperature in a room, no need to pay for additional heating costs.
  9. Make everything from scratch.  It will taste better and cost significantly less.
  10. Keep it simple.  No need to provide 18 appetizers and 14 desserts.  All those extra ingredients add up.

Do you host Christmas dinner?  How do you keep costs low?

~Mavis

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Safety Tips for Using Your Credit Card Online

Safety Tips for Using Your Credit Card Online

Safety Tips for Using Your Credit Card Online

You probably already know that I am a HUGE fan of online shopping.  I like that I don’t have to battle the crowds, the parking lots, the lines.  Best of all, I don’t drive all the way to the store only to find that they don’t have the size, color, or even item I am looking for.  No thank you.  So, with the holidays fast approaching, I thought I would share a couple of tips for keeping your identity safe and still enjoying all of the perks of online shopping.

  1. Don’t use debit, only credit cards.  Credit cards usually have better consumer protection plans, and even if your debit card does have one, remember, if someone gets into your account, your money isn’t returned right away.  There has to be an investigation by the company–which could mean you have ZERO cash while you are waiting for it to all get sorted out.  If you don’t prescribe to the notion of credit cards, buy yourself a visa gift card to use for online purchases.
  2. When possible, use Paypal.  Paypal is designed to protect you from fraudulent charges and you can pay using your debit card if you want.  Plus, if something does happen, you get your money back almost immediately.
  3. Don’t make online purchases on public computers or public WiFi.  Period.  Do it from the comfort of your home {preferably in fuzzy pajamas and with bed head}.  Public computers are a breeding ground for identity theft.
  4. Make sure you have anti-virus software installed and up-to-date.  It will save you a lot of hassle.
  5. Shop only at reputable sites.  This is a big one.  I try to stick to websites of stores and online retailers like Amazon, otherwise, you just can’t be sure that the product will be guaranteed and that your personal information is safe-guarded.
  6. You can tell if a site is secure via your mobile device if the website has https in the address.
  7. Create a folder for all receipts on your email account and save EVERYTHING there.  You can also print it, but I don’t like the paper clutter.  That way, you will have a spending trail to show your financial institution should someone get a hold of  your information.
  8. Be smart about passwords and make a different one for every site.  It’s also smart to change them up a couple times of year.
  9. Log onto your credit card account DAILY during the shopping season.  That way, you will know RIGHT AWAY if something is awry.  {As an added bonus, it will help you track your personal spending.}
  10. Check with your credit card company, a lot of times, they will allow you to create a disposable one-time credit card number that is linked to your account.  You can use that number to make a single purchase.  Should anyone get a hold of your information from that transaction, it won’t do them any good.

How do YOU keep yourself safe when shopping online?

~Mavis

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10 Money Saving Tips for Hosting a Thanksgiving Day Feast

10 Money Saving Tips for Hosting a Thanksgiving Day Feast

10 Money Saving Tips for Hosting a Thanksgiving Day Feast

Have you ever offered to host something, because you thought the whole tradition of it would be awesome, and then, after you had committed, realized that it was going to require you to take an advance on your retirement in order to afford it?  Thanksgiving can totally be one of those times.  Over the years, though, I have learned quite a few ways to put on a generous spread and still keep the budget in mind.

If you are hosting this year, here are a couple of ideas to keep money in your pocket and food on the table:

  1. Right off the bat, the easiest way to have a nice spread is to go potluck, or at the very least, take people up on it when they offer to bring something.  It totally eases your load in the kitchen too.
  2. It’s never too early to stock up on non-perishables.  If you notice that chicken broth is on sale {and be still your beating heart, there is a coupon too!} in September, swipe it up and store it for the big day.
  3. Make up for upfront costs with creative uses of left-overs.  Make turkey pot pies with leftovers that you can freeze for later, when you aren’t sick to death of the sight of turkey.  Supplementing later meals will help to balance out your budget.
  4. Know common ingredient substitutions.  No need to buy buttermilk if you can make it with the ingredients you already have at home.  It could save you a lot of time and money to just use what you already have.
  5. Keep the meal simple.  Yes, it would be awesome to make every single recipe you pinned on your appetizer board on Pinterest, but that gets time consuming and costly.  Be realistic about how much food you actually need.
  6. Use what you already have for your centerpiece.  Cut some boughs off of your tree, sprinkle in a couple of candles, put fall leaves in mason jars, etc. and you have an instant centerpiece that cost nothing.
  7. If you serve alcohol, keep it simple.  Provide beer and wine.  Anything more gets super expensive.
  8. If you only use sage and thyme {or whatever the spice may be} once a year, consider buying it in the bulk section of your store.  I know the word “bulk” implies that you have to buy a ton, but that’s the beauty, you can literally just get the tablespoon worth you need.  It will save you big bucks–and valuable kitchen storage space.
  9. Hit Farmer’s Markets.  You can usually find a much better deal on produce around this time of year if you have access to a farmer’s market.
  10. Cut out the convenience foods altogether.  For example, a jar of gravy costs waaay more than homemade gravy, which literally cost pennies and extra time.

Do you have any money saving tips for hosting the Big Feast?

~Mavis

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How to Find Free {or Cheap} Firewood

firewood

How to Find Free {or Cheap} Firewood

With winter right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about stock piling wood for all of those long cold days ahead.  While I love the sound of a crackling fire on a cold night, I am not a huge fan of paying for a cord of wood.  I know lots of people head to the mountains, permit in hand, to cut their yearly firewood, but if that’s not for you, there are a couple of ways to score free {or cheap} wood.

First, craigslist is the Mecca for firewood.  You have to be right on top of it, though, and willing to scavenge all year long.  It’s usually someone looking to get rid of a tree that a storm took out, or something like that.  Look under “free” in the listings.  You’ll probably have to do some chopping, but even “free” comes at a price.  On that same token, sites like freecycle also have wood from time to time.  Again, the key is to check it daily.

firewoodCall around to your local tree services.  A lot of times, they have a wood chipper and just send the wood through anyway.  You may be able to negotiate a deal where you pick up the wood and haul it off.

Keep an eye out for new construction sites.  A lot of times, the crew will come in and clear the lot, including trees, before building.  With a little smile and a plate of cupcakes, you might be able to talk them into letting  you haul off the wood.

If you are brave enough, dumpster diving {with permission} at construction sites can yield quite a bit of burnable wood.  Just make sure to watch out for nails and other scraps of metal that could be a potential diving hazard.  Also, don’t burn treated wood–unless your interested in gassing yourself in the months to come.

Contact local sawmills, cabinet makers, etc.  You might be able to arrange to come pick up their end cuts–especially if you are saving them disposal fees.

Word of mouth is pretty powerful too.  Make sure to let friends and family know you are willing to come do a little manual labor to haul off unwanted wood.  People will call when they see or hear of fallen trees.

How do you get your firewood?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

10 Tips for Maintaining Your Front Load Washing Machine

10 Tips for Maintaining Your Front Load Washing Machine

10 Tips for Maintaining Your Front Load Washing Machine

Front loaders are becoming pretty standard these days.  In fact, if you are in the market for a new washer, chances are, you will end up with a front loader.  Top loaders are harder and harder to come by, the choices are few, and the general trend is to steer everyone toward front loaders for their lowered water usage and efficiency ratings.  If you are new to the front-loader game, maintaining them is a bit different than a top-loader {which required almost no maintenance}.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Leave the door open when not in use.  Smelly machines is the biggest complaint when it comes to front load washers.  The key is to allow the drum and the door to dry out completely between washes.  Giving the rubber door seal a quick wipe down aids the process significantly.  Don’t give mold the slightest chance to grow.
  2. Use High Efficiency detergent.  Seriously, these are not just guidelines–regular detergent will have too many suds and confuse the heck out of your machine.  Remember that your front loader is basically a computer–if it senses something is amiss, it goes haywire.  The HE soap is more expensive, no doubt, but it goes a long way. {If you want to save to moolah, consider making your own detergent.}
  3. Rinse the detergent/fabric softener dispenser regularly, and then leave it out to dry.  Mold can build up in your dispenser and then end up swirling around with your clothes.  Rinsing out residue and trapped liquids pretty much stops it from growing altogether.
  4. Inspect the rubber seal on the door regularly.  Socks like to hide in them.  Wet socks left long enough can cause, drumroll please…mold!
  5. If you use bleach, remember to cut waaaaay down on the amount.  Front load washers use so much less water that you can potentially ruin your clothes with too much bleach.
  6. Clean your front loader at least once a month.
  7. Use a hot water wash every so often.  Most detergents can now do the job with cold water–which is awesome, it save money and energy, but residue builds up in your front loader and it can benefit from a regular hot water rinse.
  8. Plan for extra time.  There is no such thing as a “quick load of laundry” when it comes to your front load washer.  They flat out take significantly longer–one of the downsides of them using less water.  For some, this fact requires a shift in how they manage their laundry.  On the plus side, though, drying time will be significantly less.
  9. Make sure the machine is perfectly level.  Again, your machine has a computer on board, so it functions best when it is level.  Take the time during set-up to make sure it is level, and check it regularly to make sure it stays level.  If it gets off, it can throw off the cycle, because the washer will try to recalibrate.
  10. Clean out the drain pump filter regularly.  Your machine {in a different location in every machine, check your manual} can get clogged by bits of lint, hair, etc.  Make sure to clear it so that your machine can drain properly.

Front load washers are definitely a little more work than top-loaders, but the maintenance {once you wrap your mind around the fact that they have to be maintained} is really pretty quick and painless.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

It seems like everyone has a front loader these days.  I’ve heard total horror stores of them stinking and then ruining your clothes. While front loaders are more efficient, they definitely are a little higher maintenance than their top loading parents.  They need regular maintenance to avoid the dreaded smell–and by regular, I mean at least once a month, if not every two weeks.

heinz vinegarYou’ll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Rags/Cloths

How to Clean a Front Load Washing MachineDirections:

Start by running an empty load on the hottest setting with vinegar instead of detergent.  After the load is complete, repeat the process using bleach.  Then, open the doors {it’s really best to always keep the doors open when the machine isn’t in use anyway} and using the rag or cloth, wipe the rubber door seal down with vinegar and warm water. Dry completely.  Pull out the detergent drawer and rinse it under hot water.  Allow it to soak in vinegar for a bit if it still has detergent build-up.

Overall, the whole process is pretty quick and painless.

How do you clean your front loader?

~Mavis

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20 Tips For Selling Your House Fast

dog food dish

20 Tips For Selling Your House FastIs it just me or does it seem like the economy is finally starting to turn around a bit?  I am seeing more and more for sale signs in the yards of houses–which to be honest, I haven’t seen in awhile.  It’s like people are recovering and starting to move on.  {Or, at least, I hope that’s what it means.}

If you are hoping to sell your house this year, and want to get it done fast, here are a couple of tips:

  1. Clean out closets.  Buyers want to see LOTS of storage space.  Clear our the clutter and keep your closets half-empty.  Buyers are going to open up the closets anyway, might as well let them know that they will have ample space to store their own belongings.dog food dish
  2. Keep the critters hidden.  You might love your dog, cat, and hamster, but buyers want to believe that the space is clean–and whether or not you are or not, animals don’t scream:  CLEAN.  It’s better to hide the dog bowls, litter box and cages.  That way, all they will see is a clean house.
  3. De-personalize.  You love your Aunt Gladys, buyers don’t.  Take her picture down, and everything else that is exclusive to who you are as a family.  Then, buyers will be able to imagine their own stuff and their own lives it the house.
  4. Keep it clean.  Be ready for impromptu showings.  The more restrictions you put on showings, the less traffic you will have.  The less you traffic you have, the fewer potential buyers.  If you are diligent about keeping the house clean, impromptu showings will be a non-issue.  {If you have little ones, all I can say is to remember:  the sooner you have a buyer the sooner you can get on with real life.}magnum glass greenhouse
  5. If you really want out fast, consider leaving behind higher ticket items.  Leave appliances, a pool table, a greenhouse or a flat screen t.v.  Those higher ticket items really entice buyers.
  6. Upgrade, but not too much.  If carpet needs replaced, replace it {or offer an allowance in the terms of the sale}, but don’t get the top of the line.  It just won’t pay out dollar for dollar.
  7. Remember to tell your own friends the house is for sale.  Word of mouth is a powerful selling tool.  Use Facebook to get the word out–you never know, a friend of a friend of a friend might find out about the house and be in the market.mavis butterfield
  8. Don’t forget the exterior.  First impressions are key.  Plant flowers, keep the front porch swept, and lay out a welcome mat.
  9. Be honest with yourself about the worth of your house.  You may have put a ton of money into it, or may “need” a certain amount out of it in order to move to the next house, but none of that matters, really.  The only thing that matters to potential buyers is that it is priced fairly for the square footage, neighborhood, and finishes.
  10. Know your competition.  If the house down the street is for sale, know its list price, square footages, etc.  It can help you to draw in some of their potential buyer traffic by staying competitive with price and finishes.crap
  11. De-clutter.  De-cluttering isn’t just for closets.  Consider putting knickknacks in boxes an storing them.  Clear off kitchen counters–even if it is full of kitchen-y things, like a toaster, blender, etc.  Remember, you want buyers to see how much space they will have.  They can figure out their own acceptable amount of clutter when they have purchased your house.
  12. Find an agent you TRUST and  then LISTEN to their suggestions.  It might be hard to hear that your house isn’t worth what you thought or that your bathroom is in need of an update before it is sellable, but it is their job to sell your house, they won’t steer you astray {in most cases}.painting
  13.  Try to make sure colors are as neutral as possible.  If that means a fresh coat of paint or a cheap-o bedspread, consider it a worthy investment.  Colors can be very off-putting to potential buyers.How to Organize Your Bathroom
  14. Hide personal items in the bathroom.  Yes, everyone wears deodorant {or I hope so}, but not everyone wants to see it.  Put all toiletries away neatly in drawers and under the sink each day.  It’s a giant pain in the behind, but hopefully it won’t last long.
  15. Make the most of awkward spaces with staging.  If you have a weird little room under the stairs or a nook that really does nothing, consider staging it to give the illusion of more space.  Turn it into a little office space with a simple desk and chair, a reading nook,  or storage closet with organized shelving.  The investment will be minimal either way.lucy the puggle dog
  16. Make a habit of opening up all of the blinds every day.  The better the lighting, the better people feel about the space.  In dark rooms, don’t be afraid to leave the lights on.
  17. Keep on top of your agents marketing activities.  You are paying your agent big bucks to sell the house.  If you don’t feel like they are doing everything they can to sell the house, make sure to have concrete reasons why and tell them.potting bench pictures ornamental cabbage
  18. Season permitting, stage outdoor spaces.  If you have a beautiful deck or patio, help bring focus to it by setting the patio table to look Sunday brunch-like.  I know it feels ridiculous, but buyers will feel like they will have a backyard retreat that they may not have imagined otherwise.
  19. Make sure the kitchen is up-to-snuff.  Kitchens are the heart of the home, consider painting old cabinets, installing a new, updated back splash, etc.  Buyers usually offer considerably less than asking price when the kitchen is dated, even if the rest of the house is awesome.
  20. If you are brave enough, find out what your house is worth, and then consider shaving 10-15% off the price of the house right up front.  Odds are, you will be priced low enough that people will flock to your house and a bidding war will ensue.  Some realtors swear you typically get more than you would have with a standard asking price.  {I have to admit, I don’t know if I would be brave enough to take the gamble on this one.}

How about you, have you learned any tips from selling houses in the past?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Back to School Shopping Tips and Tricks

Back to School Shopping Tips and Tricks

Back to School Shopping Tips and Tricks

I swear, I somehow blinked and missed this whole summer.  How in the heck is it back to school time already?  I am starting to see ads for school supplies and lunch boxes are making their way up to the front of the stores, so I guess it’s time to start thinking about it whether we are ready or not.

Here are a couple of tips to keep you sane as you navigate the back to school frenzy:

  1. Make a list.  Know exactly what your kiddo needs for back to school.  Add school supplies, clothing and shoes to the list.
  2. Shop at home.  Since you have a list, now go through and start shopping at home.  Kids don’t need a new backpack if they already have one.  They don’t need new tennis shoes just because it’s the first day of school if theirs aren’t worn out.  Pencils that still have life in them, go into the school supply box.
  3. Watch the ads and look for coupons.  With a little pre-planning, you can get pencils, erasers, etc. for a penny.  The stores hope you will stay and do all of your shopping at once, but if you are willing to buy it slowly over a couple of weeks, you come out waaaay ahead.
  4. Go through what the kids have grown out of or don’t wear and take the usable stuff to a consignment store.  Either get the cold hard cash or take a credit and do some school shopping right there.
  5. Arrange a swap with friends and neighbors.  This is a great way to get clothes and fall sporting equipment.  If you can get enough families in the swap, everyone wins.
  6. If you don’t have time to run all over town to hit the sales, focus on your biggest ticket item.  Find the best price for that item and do your shopping there.
  7. Some states have “tax free” shopping dates.  You get a couple of days to shop for back to school without paying sales tax.  To see if your state participates, click HERE.
  8. Sign up for emails from your favorite back to school stores.  Place like Old Navy will compete for you business this time of year by offering some pretty deeply discounted email exclusives.
  9. Don’t get too hung up on name brands for things like socks, underwear, and undershirts.  They pretty much all wear the same–save a little money by buying these items at discount stores.
  10. Go in with other families and shop in bulk.  School supplies in bulk are usually at significant savings, if you have someone to split the costs–otherwise, you just pay $10 for 18,000 pencils and then you have to find a place to store them for the next 5-7 years.

What creative way have you found to save money on back-to-school?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Does Shopping at an Outlet Store Really Save You Money?

Does Shopping at an Outlet Store Really Save You Money

Does Shopping at an Outlet Store Really Save You Money

Do you think shopping at outlet stores really save you money?  Back in the day, outlet stores were a chance to snag slightly defective items at a pretty hefty discount.  Now, though, they have new items {made at a lower quality than the store’s originals} and a lot of times, they are still expensive.

Sure you can get the occasional off-season item or defective item at a discount, but wading through the racks to find them is sometimes just kind of exhausting.  Since school shopping is right around the corner, I was kind of curious what you peeps thought–outlet shopping or no?

I still prefer online shopping, but if I do decide to try my luck at the Outlet Malls, here are couple of things I’ve learned:

  1. Not everything is a deal.  In fact, very little of it is actually a deal.  Sometimes, I will throw the item in a search on my smartphone and see what they are selling for at the actual store.  A lot of times, the price is the same, but the quality is different.  If it isn’t a great deal, pass on it.
  2. A lot of retailers have started making brand new products specifically for their outlet stores–so you might think you are scoring 50% off a pair of boots, but really, they are just a lower quality designed specifically for the outlet.  So, check for quality–what is the item made of {i.e. synthetics vs. leather}, does the stitching seem good?  It may turn out that the “knock-off” is totally worth it, just make sure to inspect it.
  3. Don’t fall for the price-tag trick.  Outlet stores love, love, love to pretend that the clothes have their “original” price-tags and then they slash through them and write a new price on them.  That is a marketing ploy–yes, a shirt might be 80% off retail, but if it still is $50, it might not be a good deal.
  4. Join email lists.  A lot of times, outlet stores offer coupons through their email lists.  The coupons, combined with lowered prices can actually result in a pretty decent deal.
  5. Don’t feel obligated to buy.  Outlet malls are usually located right on the edge of the earth, so you feel like you have to pack a lunch just to get to them.  With that commute, comes the feeling that you have to make your trip worth it by buying.  Not true.  Resist the urge to buy unless you find a fantastic deal–which may mean you leave empty handed.

So back to my original question:  will you be hitting the outlet malls for back to school?

~Mavis

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How to Save on Prescription Drugs

How to Save on Prescription Drugs

How to Save on Prescription Drugs

A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with a chronic illness that is going to require a lifetime of daily medication.  As if that weren’t bad enough, when she went to fill the prescriptions, she found out it would cost her $350 per month.  Holy buckets, people, that is crazy talk.  I can’t imagine that a lot of households can bear that kind of load–especially when it takes you by surprise.

The silver lining, though, is that there are ways to save.  I thought I would share a few, in case any of you are in the same boat.

  1. Be honest with your doctor.  They are people too, and if you can’t afford the scripts they’ve written you, they may have a solution.  It’s at least worth a try as a starting point.
  2. Make sure you know which brands your personal insurance covers more.  Yes, they actually have preferred brands of the same general drug, and I am not talking generics here.  Whether they are cholesterol pills or allergy pills, check to see which pill your insurance prefers, and then check with your doctor to see if s/he will write that specific drug.
  3. Ask for samples.  Doctors get tons of samples from drug reps–if you are in a bind, they may be willing to help you supplement a little at first with samples.
  4. Generics.  This one is kind of a no-brainer, but make sure to ask both your doctor and pharmacist.
  5. Double the dose.  Sometimes a higher dose pill is the same price as a lower dose.  If the pill is scorable down the middle, you might be able to get the double dose and only take half a pill.  It basically doubles the life of one bottle of medication.
  6. Go straight to the source and check with the pharmaceutical company.  There is a HUGE mark-up on pills.  Sometimes the pharmaceutical companies have “assistance programs” where they will offer you their product for a lower price.  All it means, really, is that they are willing to lower the price rather than lose your business completely.
  7. Check to see if big box retailers like Target and Walmart offer your drug in generic form at a significant discount.  These kind of stores offer a wide range of generics for $4-$10 a month, in hopes that you will also do some shopping while you are picking up your prescription.  It’s worth a try to see if your prescription is available through their discounted program.
  8. Check for coupons.  Yes, even prescriptions can come with coupons.  Look online or ask your doctor.  A lot of times, you can get anywhere from $50-$100 off coupons {which, again, totally shows you their mark-up}.
  9. When all else fails, order your prescriptions from Canada.  First, beware of online pharmacies–sometimes, they are selling subpar products and are largely unregulated.  BUT, I do know some people who have found reputable Canadian pharmacies who are willing to ship their prescriptions at a FRACTION of the cost that it is to buy them here in the U.S.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve when it comes to saving on prescription drugs?

~Mavis

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Make Your Own Vitamin Water

Make Your Own Vitamin Water

Make Your Own Vitamin Water

The Girl Who Things She’s a Bird has turned into sort of a vitamin water freak lately.  She’s whipped up so many different concoctions, I can’t even keep track.  Apparently, vitamin water is all the rage right now.  And, you know me, I’m cutting edge {ha!}, so I figured, I better get on board and ride the vitamin water train.  Who knows, maybe this is the key to drinking more water?

I know you can buy vitamin water at the store, but they don’t look nearly as sophisticated as The Girl’s versions, and I am sure if you got right down to it, they probably aren’t nearly as healthy.

Make Your Own Vitamin Water

Basically, all you need is:

  • A Picther or Mason Jar
  • Water {filtered, Evian, or my personal favorite:  tap}
  • Fruit
  • Ice
  • A wooden spoon

This stuff is basically like lemon water on crack.  It turns it up a notch.  Get together some fruit {no bananas} and slice ‘em up.  Think berries, pineapple, watermelon, citrus anything.  You can add herbs, which is supposed to be a flavor sensation {I’m thinking mint would be awesome}.

Place the fruit/herbs in the bottom of the pitcher/jar, and using a wooden spoon, mash up the fruit.  No need to abuse the fruit, just mash it enough to get the flavors out.  Then, top the fruit mixture with ice, and finish with water.  Now pop that thing in the fridge and let all of the flavors marinate.

How easy is that?  Plus, everytime you pour yourself a glass, it feels like you are at an upscale spa—well, it does if you close your eyes tight enough to push the pile of laundry in the corner that needs folding out of your mind.  {Side note:  if you don’t like the bits of fruit in your glass, you can always pour the mixture over a strainer into your glass, leaving just the flavored water.  I kind of like the fruit bits, though.}

~Mavis

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How to Save Money Using the Library

How to Save Money Using the Library

How to Save Money Using the Library

Now that the kids are out of school, you might be looking for some inexpensive forms of entertainment to keep everyone occupied.  When my kids were little, we used to hit the library once a week.  It seriously saved of TONS of money over the years and it kept them reading throughout the summer, so come the new school year, their brains weren’t mush.

summer reading books

Lot’s of people think that the library just has books, but it has totally evolved into a free multi-media entertainment shop–only instead of shopping, everything is FREE.  Here are a couple of tips to help you get the most out of your library:

  1. Use the “hold” service if your library has one.  This is probably my favorite thing about the library.  You can get an online account, search for whatever, put it on hold, then they notify you when it has come in.  You go pick it up, where it is ready and waiting just for you.  It helps you get exactly what you want without having to take the gamble that it might already be checked out.
  2. Instead of having magazine subscriptions, check them out from the library.  While you can’t check out the current month’s issues, you can check out all of the back issues.
  3. Borrow movies.  The library has pretty much every movie you can possibly want {unless you live in a super small town}–and it’s free.
  4. Borrow video games.  Did you know that most libraries now have video games.  You can even put them on hold {suggestion #1}, so your kiddos can totally try out the latest game before you buy it.  Or even better, maybe you’ll never have to buy it at all.
  5. Books.  I know this is a no-brainer, but seriously, read them at the library first.  If you know you will reference them or reread them over and over, then buy.
  6. Digital books.  Most libraries have digital books that don’t even require you ever getting in the car.  So, if you have a laptop, kindle, iPad or some other device, chances are you can get some free reads by just logging onto your library’s website.
  7. Take advantage of educational computer games and the internet.   The children’s part of the library usually has computers loaded with fun educational games.  For older kids, Wi-Fi offers a little bit of surfing with some pretty strict restrictions that will keep them fairly safe.
  8. Music.  Want to check out a CD?  The library has those too.  I can’t tell you how much this has saved me over the years–sometimes I end up finding out that owning the whole album just isn’t worth it.
  9. Newspapers.  Take advantage of your local newspaper or even the Wall Street Journal while your kiddos peruse for books.
  10. Take advantage of programs.  Most libraries have tons of free programs and classes.  Younger kids can go to story time, older kids can do book clubs.  My library even has a Lego club {where kids get to build massive creations} and a knitting club {for all skill levels}.

I’m telling you, the library has really diversified, and it’s totally worth your time this summer.  Do  you use the library?  What’s your favorite part about it?

~Mavis

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DIY Homemade Febreze Recipe

DIY Homemade Febreze Recipe

DIY Homemade Febreze Recipe

With two teenagers in sports, sometimes I feel like I should take out stock in Febreze, or at the very least, at the rate we go through it around here, a loan.  Luckily, making your own is super easy and costs literally pennies.

DIY Homemade Febreze Recipe

You’ll Need:

Spray bottle {a cheap-o dollar store one will do}
2 Tbsp. fabric softener {any scent that makes your sniffer happy or make your own}
Warm water
2 Tbsp. baking soda
A funnel

DIY Homemade Febreze Recipe

Directions:

Place the funnel in the spray bottle.  Add baking soda and fabric softener.  Fill up the remaining space in the spray bottle with warm water.  Screw back on the sprayer and shake, shake, shake.

Now get out there and freshen the crap out of everything you own {that statement might be an oxymoron, but whatever, you get the drift}. 😉

~Mavis

DIY Homemade Febreze Recipe

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DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

I’m still really digging my DIY Laundry Detergent that I shared with you awhile back, but I have to admit, the new tablet craze is winning me over–I love the ease of throwing a pre-measured tablet into the washer, plus I know exactly how many loads I am going to get out of each batch.  {This recipe is safe for front-loaders}

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

You’ll need:

1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup grated bar soap {I used Fels Naptha, but you could also use Zote, Ivory, etc.}
1/2 cup vinegar
15-20 drops essential oil {optional}
Ice cube tray {this is my favorite one}

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs Fels Naptha soap

Directions:

Start by grating your soap.  I grated mine on the smallest setting so that I could get it into a fine powder–otherwise, I feel like the soap doesn’t always dissolve completely in the wash.

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

Mix the grated bar with the Borax and Washing Soda.  Pour 1/2 cup vinegar over the mixture and stir to combine.  The mixture shouldn’t be too wet, just wet enough to pack into your ice cube tray. I use  1″ square ice cube trays to make the tablets uniform.  {Just don’t fill the ice cube trays up to the top, or the detergent door might not close on your washer.}  I have found that a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop is just the perfect amount to use. After packing the mixture into the tray, leave out to dry–usually about 12 hours.

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

When the tabs are dry, pop them out of the tray and put them into a storage container.  Use one tab for front loaders and two for top loaders. Makes 45 detergent tabs.

~Mavis

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

Here are a few more of my DIY Recipes:

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner
How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
DIY Fabric Softener
Homemade Soft Scrub
DIY Dishwasher Tablets
DIY Daily Shower Spray

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How Long Should You Keep Your Financial Paperwork?

How Long Should You Keep Your Financial Paperwork

How Long Should You Keep Your Financial PaperworkIn my effort to purge my house of unwanted clutter a few months ago, I came across A LOT of paperwork.  Some of it, I know I have to keep, but some of it, I’ve stashed away just in case.  The thing is, “just in case” is starting to get a little overwhelming, so I decided to find out exactly how long I need to keep it all.

After a little digging, here’s the 411 on paperwork:

  1. Receipts.  These really pile up, especially after Christmas.  If they are for standard goods, keep them only until the warranty expires or until the exchange/return policy runs out.  If they are for tax purposes, keep them for 3 years.
  2. ATM receipts.  If you bank online, you can toss these {shred them} as soon as you’ve verified the amount recorded on your account is the same as the receipt.  If you still go with paper statements, balance them to the statement each month and then toss them.
  3. Paycheck stubs.  Keep them for one year.  Make sure to double check them to your W-2’s and social security statements, then shred them.
  4. Utility bills.   If  you take a home office deduction, you need to keep these for 3 years, otherwise, you can get rid of them after a year.
  5. Bank statements.  Again, unless you need them for tax purposes {3 years}, you can get rid of them after one year.
  6. Credit card statements.  Keep until reconciled, or 3 years if needed for tax purposes.
  7. Income Tax Returns.  Hold onto these for 3 years.
  8. Medical bills.  Keep these for 3 years.
  9. Records of selling a house.  3 years.
  10. Annual investment statements.  Hold onto these for 3 years AFTER you sell your investment.
  11. Records of paid-off loans {other than home mortgages}.  Keep for 7 years.
  12. Keep the following forever:  marriage licenses, birth certificates, wills, adoption papers, death certificates, records of paid mortgages.

Now that I know how long to keep everything, I can sort through the little piles that build up over the year–and really give my shredder a workout.

~Mavis

 

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20 Moving Tips

20 Moving Tips

20 Moving Tips

Plan on moving this year?  Moving can be ultra stressful–on everyone, but I swear, organization is the KEY to surviving a move.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind if you are making a move this year:

  1. Have each member of the family pack a suitcase of essentials and comfort items.  That way, the first night in the new house is a positive one.  You may not get to unpacking every bit of every room, but at least little Suzy will have her blanket and teddy bear to ease the transition.  Plus, how nice will it be when you hop in the shower after a long move to easily grab clean jammies and a toothbrush?
  2. Save money on bubble wrap.  Pack the dishes with the linen closet.  Wrap breakables using pillowcases and towels.  You’ll save money and kill two birds with one stone.
  3. Label boxes.  Don’t just label what’s in them, but also, what room you want them taken to.  Movers or friends/family will be so much more helpful when they don’t have to stop and ask you where you want “this box.”
  4. Show up pre-move and clean the house to your standards.  It’s soooooo much easier to clean and empty house.  Get in there ahead of time and give it a scrub.  Have the carpets cleaned now too.  That way, it will be “move in ready.”
  5. Place toiletries in plastic ziploc bags OR open the lids and put a piece of plastic wrap on the top, then screw the lid back on.  It will minimize spills and messes.
  6. Don’t pack up all of your drawers.  Just slide the drawer out and use it as a box, then when you place the dresser back in your new home, all you have to do is slide the already unpacked drawer back into place.
  7. Put ALL screws, curtain mounts, electronic cords in LABELED plastic ziplock bags.  You may think you will remember what they go to, but in the chaos, it might just become a mystery screw or cord.
  8. Take a picture of the back of your television so that you can remember how to put it back together in the new house.  Remembering where all those cords go is just a hassle otherwise.
  9. Make use of suitcases, laundry baskets, etc.  You can really cut down on boxes by using the containers you already have.  Just make sure to tie a label onto each of them.
  10. Pack a lunch the night before.  Unless you are ordering pizza or something, having to stop to make a meal in a kitchen that is probably chaos, is a big fat pain in the behind.  Pack sandwiches and snacks–that will keep the kiddos in a better mood anyway.
  11. To pack your hanging clothes, just grab a garbage bag.  Keep the clothes on the hangers, and bag them from the bottom up.  Pull the drawstring around the top of the hangers, and off you go.
  12. Number your boxes.  That way, you’ll know if you are missing a box right away.
  13. Minimize your grocery shopping one to two weeks prior to the move.  If you can, use up what you have in the freezer.
  14. Unplug and clean your fridge {if you are taking it with you in the move} the day before you move.
  15. Contact utility companies and let them know your move-out date and your move-in date.
  16. Keep valuable items, like pictures and passports in YOUR car on the day of the move.  That way, they don’t potentially get lost in the shuffle.
  17. Remember to keep a roll of toilet paper out, so that you can immediately put it in place in the new house.  Friends and family that are helping you will thank you.
  18. If you won’t have beds set up in time, remember to keep sleeping bags, air mattresses, etc. handy.
  19. Throw a shower curtain in your overnight bag.  You will want to take a shower after a day of moving, and digging through the bathroom boxes may not be too appealing.
  20. Bottled waters.  Remember cups will be packed away, so remember to get a case of bottled waters for the day.  Make sure to get enough for the people that are helping you move {the ones you like, anyway, ha!}.

Any more tips you’d like to add?

~Mavis

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10 Simple Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

10 Simple Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

10 Simple Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

I don’t know how it is where you live, but here I am starting to see houses for sale like crazy.  I wonder if that means that people are starting to see relief from some of the economic craziness of the past few years?  Whatever the reason, if you are thinking about putting your house up for sale too, here are a few tips on increasing the value of your home, and hopefully putting more money in your pocket:

  1. Paint.  A fresh coat of NEUTRAL colored paint can make the house appear cleaner.  Staying neutral gives you a better chance to appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers.  Plus, paint is relatively cheap–so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
  2. Remove personal items and put them in storage.  Yes, the pictures of your kids are endearing, but when people see personal items, they focus on them, rather than picturing themselves in the home.  And, as much as you love your life-size paper mache zebra in the living room, it might not be someone else’s cup of tea {they may prefer giraffes}–it’s best to keep it a blank slate so people can imagine their own stuff in the house.
  3. Clean.  Seriously, clean like your mother-in-law is coming to visit.  The place should pass the white glove test.  Don’t forget the insides of drawers, etc.  Potential buyers will open and search through everything.
  4. Deodorize.  Everyone has a unique smell, unfortunately, that is not always a good thing.  If you have pets, you may not even notice the smell of your house, but potential buyers definitely will.  Light a candle or bake a cake before your house shows.  If you go with the candle, go with classic food smells {apple pie, etc.} over perfume-type smells.
  5. Create an inviting entrance.  If you don’t have curb appeal, it’s pretty hard to convince the average buyer that the house is worth their time.  Put a potted plant at the entrance {flowers in the summer/spring/fall and maybe a topiary in the winter}.  Set out a welcome mat.  Make sure the yard is tidy.
  6. If you have to replace floors before you can sell, opt for eco choices {like bamboo}.  They are a selling feature for the home.
  7. Up the wattage in your light bulbs for the showings.  The brighter the space, the more inviting it is to potential buyers.
  8. Kitchen cabinets.  If the kitchen cabinets have taken a beating over the years, painting them can give new life to the kitchen for minimal cost.  I don’t know about you, but nothing is more depressing than walking into an outdated and drab kitchen.
  9. Staging.  If the weather is nice, make sure to stage outdoor selling features too.  Make sure to set up the table on the patio.  Put the umbrella up.  Turn on the outdoor fountain if there is one.  You want to draw their eye to features they may miss otherwise.  Make ’em believe that entertaining outdoors is just a quick escrow away.
  10. Window coverings.  Fresh curtains/blinds can add a lot to a room for pretty inexpensive.  Old faded drapes can make a space feel dated and dark.   Head over to Target and grab a couple of new panels–you’ll be shocked at what they do for the room.

Did you recently sell your house?  Did you do any of these?  Did they work for you?

~Mavis

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How to Sell Your Stuff at a Garage Sale

garage sale sign

How to Sell Your Stuff at a Garage Sale

Every few years, I get enough accumulated stuff that it becomes totally worth it for me to have a garage sale.  Garage sales are my way of de-junkifying–but, not in the sense that it is “junk.”  I want the stuff out, because it just is no longer working for me, but it is still really good, usable stuff.  Plus, the money goes straight into our vacation fund, so I can usually convince The Girl and Monkey Boy to help out.

I’ve learned quite a bit over the years about having garage sales–or even better stated:  having successful garage sales.

garage sale sign

First things first, advertise.  Use signs and craigslist to get the word out.  For higher ticket items, take some pictures and include them on craigslist.  People love that crap.  Also, get change.  You can keep it in a lock box, a money belt or wear an apron with pockets.  The good thing about the apron is that if you are alone, you don’t have to worry about stepping away from the money.  Also, have plastic grocery bags handy to bag people’s purchases.

garage sale price stickers tags

Price all of your items the night before.  This is essential.  You WILL have early bird shoppers who will cramp your style if you are still out there pricing.  The busiest time of the garage sale will be from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  After that, things will slow down significantly, so it’s just best to be prepared to deal with your customers straight out of the gate.  Be realistic with your pricing.  People expect screamin’ deals at garage sales.  That’s the downside.  The upside is that you would have probably just donated it otherwise and made nothing.

Easy Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Next, get up extra early and make a crock pot meal {Go HERE for some recipe ideas}.  Otherwise, by the end of the day, you will be too pooped to pop and will end up loading the family into the wagon to go out.  This one little move cuts into your garage sale profits significantly.  I have learned it the hard way, trust me.

blueberry-muffins-with-crumb-topping-recipe

Have the kids set up a muffin and coffee/tea stand.  Lots of people do the slow drive by and then move on.  Early morning coffee and muffins always entice them to stop and browse.

Make sure everything is displayed as orderly as possible.  If you have clothes, hang them up–they WILL sell much better that way.

Haggling is a sport for some people–like they legitimately get thrills at the idea of it.  Don’t be offended when people haggle for your stuff–meet them with counter-offers, {The garage sale game is very Donald Trump like.  Embrace it.}  Know your bottom line and have a little fun getting there.

Around noon to 1 p.m., it’s time to start slashing prices.  Your traffic will slow down considerably, and unless you are interested in a marathon type garage sale, it’s time to make sure the stuff goes for at least some money.

Thrift store donation

Arrange for a local charity to swing by and pick up the leftovers or haul them that afternoon to the thrift store yourself.  That way, you don’t have to haul them back into the garage, where they could potentially take up residence again.

How about YOU, what are your tips for having a successful garage sale?

~Mavis

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How to Clean Fireplace or Woodstove Glass

How to Clean Fireplace or Woodstove Glass

How to Clean Fireplace or Woodstove Glass

Now that all of the cold weather is behind us, I decided to clean the glass on the fireplace.  I used an ash method, but there are a couple of different ways to do it.  You can use ammonia and water.  Fill a spray bottle with slightly diluted ammonia.  Spray it on a cooled glass only.  Wipe with paper towels.  Repeat until clean.  Resist the urge to use any sort of scouring pad or scrub pad.  It will scratch the grass.  You can also get commercial sprays to do the job, but since I don’t really know what’s in them, I wasn’t super excited about that method.

How to Clean Fireplace or Woodstove Glass

To clean the glass with ash {I liked this idea, because I already had the ash from having a fire in the fireplace}, lay down a good amount of paper on the hearth.  It will prevent everything from getting coated in a any loose ash.  Dunk some newspaper in a little water and then coat it in ash.  Scrub the glass until it’s sparkly clean.
fireplace

I will admit, it took a bit of elbow grease, but it did the job, and I didn’t really need any supplies I didn’t already have.

How to Clean Fireplace or Woodstove Glass

So pretty.  Isn’t it satisfying when you complete a job that you know you won’t have to do again for an entire year?

~Mavis

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Spring Lawn Care Tips

spring lawn care tips

spring lawn care tips

As I mentioned last fall, taking care of the grass is totally my husbands department–but if watching him work counts for something, then I am a pro!  Ha.  Here’s a quick guide on spring lawn care, which we take very seriously here in suburbia:

If you didn’t aerate last fall, spring is another good time to do it.  With all of the spring rain, those annoying dirt clods will be gone in no time, and your grass will be the thick, lush envy of all of the neighbors.

Before you start mowing again, give your lawn mower the once over.  Sharpen the blades if they need it, change the oil, and give ‘er a good once over.  You can start out the spring with shorter grass, make sure to raise the blade as the weather gets warmer, though.  If you don’t mind the mess, taking the mower bag off and letting the grass clippings stay on the lawn is a great way to provide free food for the grass.

If you live in a rainy climate {like I do} let the weather do the work as far as watering.  If not, make sure to water less often, but in larger quantities {remember the good old days of flood irrigation?  Think about replicating them.}

Wait until it’s a bit warmer to apply fertilizer {at least 50-55 degrees soil temperature}, that will ensure that the grass is awake enough to receive a feeding.

That’s pretty much it for us around here.  What do you do to wake up your grass?

~Mavis

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How to Get a Price Adjustment from Amazon

How to Get a Price Adjustment from Amazon

How to Get a Price Adjustment from AmazonYou know how it’s great to know an accountant during tax time, a personal trainer when you’re trying to lose weight or a stockbroker when you’re looking to invest? Having an expert at your fingers tips to give you insider tips is awesome. And I’m here for you. Not as a gardening expert today, but rather an Amazon expert.

I feel that the sheer number of purchases I make on Amazon each year totally qualifies me as an expert. So I’m here today to share one of my very favorite Amazon expert tips: Amazon price adjustments.

cast iron tea potHave you ever bought something on Amazon only to see the very same item drop in price the next day? It’s so frustrating knowing if you would have held out to buy it, you could have saved some cold hard cash. Well Amazon is so awesome, they’ll refund you the price difference if you ask. No, seriously.

Now before I let you in on this rarely known secret, there are a few things you should know.

1. This is not a formal Amazon policy, so your experience might be different than mine.

2. I’ve personally done this multiple times and it’s worked.

3. I’ve only ever tried it with items shipped from Amazon, so it might not work when you make purchases from an outside seller.

4. I’ve only ever received a price adjustment in the 1st week after buying, so I’m not sure how long they will honor it.

5. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

bob's red millHere’s how it works:

1. Scroll to the bottom of the Amazon homepage and click on the “help” button, which will take you to the Amazon help page.

2. Click on the yellow “Contact Us” button on the right hand side of the page.

3. Sign into your Amazon account.

4. Click on the “An order I placed” tab and find the purchase you’re requesting the refund on.

5. Under the “Tell us more about your issue” section, select “Payment issue” from the 1st drop down menu and “Price change on website” from the 2nd.

6. Select how you would like to contact them: email, phone or live chat. I always use live chat because it’s easy and fast.

7. Then simply explain the item you bought dropped in price, and you’d like a refund for the difference.

8. Amazon refunds your money. Wallah!

Like I said, it might not work every time, but it’s certainly worth a shot. Let me know if you ever try it and if it works for you.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist

How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist

How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist

Okay, so right out of the gate, I really need to say, I am probably the only person on the planet who is not a fan of craigslist.  Something about meeting a total stranger in a Walmart parking lot to do a transaction feels sketchy.  The HH loves craigslist, though.  To date, he has bought a weight lifting set, a punching bag, and some sort of weird storage rack for the garage. {All of which I ended up donating to the Goodwill because they were absolutely dumb purchases.  He felt bad not buying them during the meet-up, though, so he bought them anyway.}

SELLING your crap on craigslist is awesome, though, because you don’t have to pay shipping costs like you would on ebay, and you just never know, your crap can literally be the exact crap someone has been dreaming about.

How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist

Here are what I think are craigslist basics:

  1. Take pictures.  No one wants to contact you just to get pictures you promised them “if they are interested.”  Provide good quality pictures.  Plain and simple.
  2. On the same picture topic, clean up the area around where you will snapping the photo.  Yes, you may store the item in the garage, but if people see it amongst dust-laden items and on an oil-stained floor, they will automatically think it is dirty and used {which it might be, but there is absolutely no reason to advertise that.}
  3. Clean your item.  You are getting rid of it for a reason, but make it look appealing.  Dust it, vacuum it, spit shine it…whatever, just make it sparkle.
  4. Price it to sell.  This is where it gets tricky in my opinion.  Price it too high and you won’t get a single bite, price it too low and people will think something is wrong with it.  Search for like items in your area and set your price accordingly. How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist
  5. Write a good description of the item.  Give details–not the bad ones, feel free to leave out:  “the cat peed on it last week.”  But provide details about how old the item is, if appropriate, why you are getting rid of it.  Be real about the condition of the item too {i.e. “Not in perfect condition, but perfect for a college student”}.
  6. If possible, meet somewhere other than  your home {in a neutral location–like a Walmart parking lot.}  It keeps you safe.
  7. Provide a phone number.  If you are serious about selling an item, don’t make it frustrating for the buyer, provide a phone number so that they don’t have to email, wait for your response, and potentially send follow-up questions.  When you list your phone number, spell out some of the numbers, like call at 5-five-five-5-five-five,5–that way you don’t get put on some random computer generated spam calling list.
  8. You will get offensively low offers.  It’s just what people do.  Know your bottom line and don’t be afraid to let a sale pass you by.  Say no, and wait for the right buyer to come along.
  9. #8 leads me to this little gem:  never be in a hurry to sell something on craigslist.  If you are, you will cave at the wrong price.  Patience is key.
  10. Forget listing it, take it to the Goodwill and then pay yourself for your time you would’ve spent selling it.  Ha!  Kidding, but wouldn’t it be soooo much easier?

Happy sales,

~Mavis

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How to Save Money at the Dollar Store

how to save money at the dollar store

how to save money at the dollar storeDo you shop at the dollar store?  I kind of have mixed feelings about it myself.  Sometimes, you can get things for a steal, other times, I think they kind of bamboozle {do you remember that word from the show Friends?} you into thinking that it’s a good deal because it’s only a dollar.  I typically do not buy food there at all.  Party favors, art supplies, seasonal stuff, yes.

Here are a couple of quick and easy tips to save yourself a dollar {pun intended} next time you are at the dollar store:

  1. If you are going to buy food, check the labels.  A lot of times, those off brands will skimp on ingredients to drive down the price.  Decide if it is worth it to you to consume potentially cheaper ingredients {read:  partially hydrogenated oils} to save what might amount to pennies.  Make sure to check expiration dates while  you are at it.
  2. Shop with a list.  It’s so easy to throw something you otherwise would not have purchased because “it’s only a dollar.”  If you went in to get wrapping paper, put your blinders on, get the wrapping paper, and get out.
  3. Greeting cards.  While the selection might not be stellar, greeting cards in the mainstream stores are pricey.  For kid’s birthday parties, etc. the dollar store is where it’s at.  Stock up on a few so that you don’t have to go in very often.
  4. Seasonal items.  The dollar store has pretty unique holiday decor and seasonal items.  It can be a great place to put together fillers for holiday presents, etc.  It’s also a great way to decorate for school functions, etc. on a budget.
  5. Stack dollar store savings with coupons.  Quite a few dollar stores are now accepting coupons, ask the manager.  If you get lucky and find name brand items {think:  toothpaste and soap} it could add up to pretty substantial savings.
  6. Cleaning supplies.  If you don’t make your own, the dollar store can equal pretty good savings.  Sure, you’ll get off brands, but the ingredients usually are the same.
  7. Common cooking spices.  If bulk is not an option for you, stocking up on basic cooking spices at the dollar store offers pretty good savings.
  8. Socks.  Weird, I know, but actually, they have a pretty good selection and they hold up just as well as department store socks, in my opinion.
  9. Open stock glasses.  If you are having people over or just want to add a little variety to your glassware–the dollar store is a great place to do it.  They usually have some pretty fun glassware and for a buck, you won’t be sad if they get broken.
  10. Flower pots.  Every year, my dollar store typically has smaller clay flower pots.  They make AWESOME herb gardens {think:  teacher’s gifts} and won’t set you back.

How about you, how do YOU save money at the dollar stores?

~Mavis

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How to Find the Perfect Babysitter

How to Find the Perfect Babysitter

How to Find the Perfect Babysitter

I talk about a lot of things I love on this site: my chickens, gardening, yummy recipes, bartering, Lucy the Puggle Dog. But at the end of the day, nothing even comes close to the love I have for my kids. Being a mother is hands down my thing on the planet. Sure when they were little they made me want to rip out my hair from time to time, but they are really my greatest joys. I suspect you feel the same way, so leaving them in the care of others takes a bit of a leap of faith. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect sitter for your family (cause let’s be honest, sometimes that time away from them keeps you sane!):

1. Get referrals: Ask people you trust to refer people they trust. It’s a great place to start. Gather a list of names and numbers of qualified referrals your friends, neighbors and  family members have used in the past.

2. Check references: If you are unable to get referrals from people you know, make sure you gather and touch base with references from your potential babysitter. Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions because this will be your only opportunity to get a glimpse of their previous babysitting habits.

3. Interview them: Conduct a phone interview with them to get to know them a little better. Do they have previous experience? Have they ever cared for infants? What is their hourly rate? Before you leave them alone with your kids, have them over for a short interview so you can meet them in person. It’s not only important to gain information from them (ie. are they CPR and 1st Aid certified? Have they taken any babysitting courses?), but to see how they interact with your children.

4. Trust your gut: If something feels off, pass. Even if everything about the potential sitter looks good on paper, if your “parent sense” is off, listen to it.

5. Agree on pay: Before you ever hire them, make sure you’re on the same when it comes to money. Ask what they charge. If they suggest that whatever you pay is fine, try to get them to tell you what they’ve been paid in the past, so you know what their potential expectations are. If you are clueless as to what to pay, pose the question to your friends on Facebook or to your neighbors and get feedback that way.

6. Check in on them: Once you’ve hired them, make sure you call to check in. Ask to speak to your children (if they are old enough) and see how things are going from their perspective. You can also ask a neighbor to peek in if you’re still nervous and they’re able. If you have one available, a nanny cam might come in handy as well.

7. Follow up: Make sure you ask the sitter how they felt the experience went. Did your children behave for them? Did they enjoy it? Then ask your kids how they liked the sitter. Only then will you know if it’s truly a good fit.

Any other tips or advice when looking for a new babysitter? What do you think a fair rate is for a sitter in your area is? Have you ever had a terrible experience with a new sitter?

~Mavis

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How To Find the Best Deals at Costco

How To Find the Best Deals at Costco

Did you know there is actually a way to decode the pricing at Costco?!  I stumbled on to this little decoding gem on King5.com {a Seattle news station} a while back, and thought it was so cool I just had to share.

It all basically comes down to paying attention to the cents part of the pricing.  The amount of pennies on the price tag will let you know exactly what kind of deal you are getting.

How To Find the Best Deals at CostcoPrices ending in .99 are full price items.  {That doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad deal, it just means that it is the standard set price for Costco to sell the item.}

How To Find the Best Deals at CostcoPrices ending in .97 indicates a deal decided by the manager.  So, this price might vary from location to location.

How To Find the Best Deals at CostcoPrices ending in .49 or .79 mean the item is a manufacturer’s special.  The price is lower than Costco would typically sell it for, because the manufacturer has set the price so that they can test it out at Costco.

Prices ending in .00 means the item is about to go.  These are probably the best deals you are going to find on that item, and once they are gone, they are gone.  The manager wants those items out of the store.

A price card with an asterisk {*} means the item has been both discounted and discontinued.  It’s an indication that this is your LAST chance at that deal.

This is totally going to change how I look at prices at Costco.  Did you already know this?  Has it changed the way you shop at Costco?

~Mavis

 

 

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How to Care for Your Septic Tank

How to Care for Your Septic Tank

How to Care for Your Septic TankWe had our septic tank pumped yesterday and let me tell you Bob, I’m glad the HH keeps on top of the whole maintenance thing around here, because it made getting it pumped quick and painless.

If you are knew to the septic tank world, here’s a couple of guidelines to help you maintain it:

  1. Don’t overload it.  Plain and simple.  Try to minimize your water consumption, because when it’s full, you have to pay to pump it.  Fix leaky faucets, wait until the dishwasher is completely full to use it {all of the stuff you are probably already doing}.  The less water that drains into the septic system, the less often  you will have to pay to have it pumped.
  2. On mature properties, tree roots can become an issue fast.  They can damage the tank.  Keep trees 100-150 ft away from the septic tank.
  3. Don’t wash things down the drain or toilet that will clog up your septic tank.  Only flush toilet paper down the toilet–NOTHING else, and don’t dump coffee grounds, egg shells, grease, etc. down the sink.  It clogs up the whole system faster than you’d think.
  4. Keep the drainfield clear.  Don’t drive over it, build anything on top of it, etc.
  5. Don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals.  This includes laundry.  The more inorganic stuff that heads to the septic tank, the higher the likelyhood of trouble.
  6. Routinely check pumps, filters and controls.  If something is broken or amiss in any one, fix it immediately.
  7. If your system has a filter, make sure to clean it regularly.

That’s about it.  Any other septic tank people out there with more tips to offer?

~Mavis

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How to Keep Foods Cold During a Power Outage

How to Keep Foods Cold During a Power Outage

How to Keep Foods Cold During a Power OutageHere in the U.S. we are pretty lucky.  Power outages are rare, and usually resolved fairly quickly, but every once in awhile, inclement weather or freak accidents can knock out the power for a lot longer than expected.  Since it’s no secret how much I DESPISE food waste, it’s probably no surprise that it’s the first thing on my mind in the event of a power outage.

How to Keep Foods Cold During a Power OutageFirst, at any given time I have 2 to 4 plastic milk jugs filled with frozen water in my freezer.  In the event of a long term power outage, they serve to keep the food colder longer.  It is KEY not to open you fridge and freezer unnecessarily during an outage.  It allows the cool air to escape, and speeds up the thawing process.

How to Keep Foods Cold During a Power OutageInstalling a thermometer inside your fridge and freezer is also a great idea.  During power outages, food that has stayed at least 40 degrees or colder can be safely refrozen.  If you don’t have a thermometer inside the appliance, you will have to individually take the temperature of each item.  I don’t know about you, but that would take me forever.

As a rule of thumb, if your power is out longer than four hours, you’ll probably need to throw out refrigerated perishables like deli meat, milk, poultry, etc.  That is a sad, sad waste of food, so if possible, you may want to consider loading them into a cooler with blocks of ice or dry ice  or into the freezer {if they are available}.

Perishable items can safely be left out for 2 hours, so any items you can’t find room for in the fridge/freezer/cooler should become dinner.  Weather permitting, make it a BBQ night, so that you can properly prepare the food without electricity.

What precautions do you take to save your food during power outages?

~Mavis

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How to Avoid Impulse Purchases

How to Avoid Impulse Purchases

How to Avoid Impulse Purchases

With the holidays come and gone and a LONG stretch of winter yet to come, it’s easy to pass the time with shopping.  Plus, now is the time they start clearancing  out pretty much EVERYTHING from the holiday rush.  The temptation to grab a killer deal is in your face pretty much every time you walk into the store.  All those great deals can add up–financially and physically cluttering your space.

Here’s few tips to get past the impulse to buy all of those steals you come across:

  1. Set a time limit.  Maybe something like a week?  If you are still thinking about it in a week, it’s probably something you would use.
  2. Don’t use shopping to cure a bad mood.  It’s a nasty trap to fall into, and it really doesn’t, in the long run, fix the problem.
  3. Stay out of stores.  Period.  It’s really easy to avoid shopping–or finding that serving dish you didn’t even know you HAD to have if you never step foot inside the store.  Plus, on the bright side, you won’t even know about the “deals” you are missing.
  4. Remember what your mom used to say?  Birds of a feather flock together.  This applies with impulse shopping.  Avoid going shopping with friends who also have impulse shopping habits.  It’s easier to slip up and justify an unnecessary purchase when you have help.
  5. Replace the urge to go shopping with another healthier habit.  For example, clean something or exercise.
  6. Keep yourself busy with meaningful tasks.  I know that sounds super cheesy, but if you don’t have time to shop, you won’t.
  7. Apply the one in, one out rule.  If you buy something new, you have to get rid of something you already have.   I have a friend who did this with shoes.  She got a shoe rack and all of her shoes have to fit on the one rack.  If she buys new, she has to get rid of a pair–if she doesn’t have any she wants to get rid of, she doesn’t buy new pairs.
  8. Even if you do make a purchase, remember stores have return policies for a reason.  You still have the opportunity to take it back {if it is unused, of course} if you get it home and feel remorse.
  9. Establish a self-imposed layaway plan.  Divide the cost of the item up over a month or several {this obviously applies to those bigger purchases}.  Put money aside each week.  If you don’t have money to put aside one week, the purchase date gets set back.  If at the end of the “layaway” you have the money and still have the desire to purchase, you’ll know it’s a solid, guilt-free purchase.
  10. Pay cash.  Cash is still king.  Using a credit card gives you instant gratification in that you get to have the item right away, but the bill still comes.  Using cash may make you think harder about the purchase.

How about YOU, how do you avoid impulse purchases?

~Mavis

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Must-Have Money-Saving Smartphone Apps

amazon app

Must-Have Money-Saving Smartphone Apps

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that New Year’s Resolutions are made right after the biggest spending season of the year. Almost everyone I know, whether they spend a lot or a little around the holidays, are ready to go on some sort of debt diet come January.

With the invention of the smartphone, there are like a bazillion apps that can help you do just that. You can save so much money with just the tap of your finger. It might seem like a dollar here and a dollar there, but all of those savings add up and will help get your spending back on track for the new year. Here are my favorites:

Ibotta

Best Apps to Use at the Store:

Ibotta

You have to take a poll or watch a short video in order to earn your “coupon,” then buy the item, take a picture of the receipt, scan the bar code and submit it. Seems like a bit of work, but it would equal about the same amount of time as clipping coupons. You can really see the savings add up, especially if you are pairing this with other actual coupons and savings on items.

Cellfire

You can load electronic coupons directly onto store loyalty cards and even get store alerts that remind you about those coupons when you walk into a store.

Cartwheel by Target

Just sign-up using your Facebook profile and instantly save on things you already buy in Target stores by adding offers to your Cartwheel. Select from hundreds of exclusive discounts (starting at 5% and up to 30%), all available on your phone. Best part? These aren’t one-and-done discounts. Use them as many times as you want before they expire.

ZipList

You can sync your grocery list and recipes, find store coupons and even sort stores by aisle. Wahooo!

Shopkick

Get rewarded just for walking in to your favorite store. Earn even more reward points when you connect your credit or debit card {don’t worry, they don’t charge you anything!} and spend money atr specific stores like Target. Trade your points in for awesome gift cards.

Weekly Ads & Sales

This app is awesome because it not only tracks sales for grocery stores, but retail stores too like Old Navy and Best Buy, etc. You never have to fumble around with a paper ad because they are all right there on your phone!

Grocery iQ

With Grocery iQ, you don’t have to do all the leg work of finding and matching coupons on your shopping list. It does all that work for you and you just get to sit back & enjoy the savings {okay so you still have to get off your butt and go shopping, but it’s one less step!}.

SavingStarSavingStar

SavingStar works a lot like Cellfire because you’re loading electronic “coupons” onto your loyalty cards, but it’s even cooler because you can combine those offers with manufacturer’s coupons. Double the savings!

Jingit

If you’re an avid Walmart shopper, this is the app for you. You can earn money just for checking in at places like Walmart and earn extra money if you watch and answer questions about some ads. You can still earn money if you don’t shop at Walmart, it’s just geared mainly towards Walmart shoppers.

Retail Me Not

My favorite place to search for coupons when I’m on the go! They search for coupons for just about everything. If you’re headed out to lunch or to the mall and want to see if that restaurant/store has a coupon, just type in the name and it will not only show you all the options, but tell you the success rate of each coupon so you know the offers are legit and working. They pull up offers for printable coupons too, but I’ve mainly used it for online coupons so I can just flash my phone and enjoy instant savings.

Red Laser

Perhaps my favorite money-saving app! It allows you to shop around and compare prices without hitting 10 different stores. Simply scan a product’s bar code, and it compares prices of that product with other local retailers as well as online stores. Then you can head out & buy your product at the store with the lowest price, or ask the store you’re currently in if they’re willing to price match the lowest price to keep your business. I’ve had great success with that.

amazon app

Best Store Apps:

Amazon

Before I ever leave my house to shop for something, I pull up prices on Amazon. I almost always find comparable prices so I never have to change out of my pjs and head out to the store. But if I happen to be at a store, I can quickly check to see if Amazon has a better price on an item, order it right then and with Amazon Prime, get the item in 2 days without paying a dime for shipping. Sweet!

Ebay

Sometimes if you’re patient and bid, or if you find a smokin’ hot “Buy it Now” auctions, you can save crazy money on eBay!

Fred Meyer

Target

Safeway

Walgreens

Walmart

Rite Aid

CVS

Kroger

Whole Foods

mint.com app

Best Random Money-Saving Apps:

FareCompare When-to-Fly

Best app if you fly often or are searching for cheap flights somewhere. They send you real-time price drop updates so you can snatch up cheap flights ASAP.

Allpoint Global Surcharge-Free ATM Network

Tired of getting dinged with ATM surcharges? Find free ATMS anywhere in the US with this app.

Hotel Tonight

This app kicks Priceline’s butt! You obviously can’t use this app to plan a trip, but if you’re a spur of the moment traveler or have ventured out on a last second road trip, this app is going to find you last second hotel deals at crazy good prices.

Mint.com

My favorite free budgeting app. I can see exactly what I have in all of my accounts in real-time. If you run your accounts down to the last penny each month, this app will help prevent you from those nasty overdraft fees because you can see your big-picture budget.  It also tracks all of your budgets for the month and alerts you if you are about to go over in any given category.

Gas Buddy

Find the lowest gas prices near you. Perfect if you’re on a roadtrip and looking for a cheap place to refuel.

Award Wallet

I love this app because it tracks all of my frequent flyer miles, hotel points, & credit card rewards in one place. For as often as I travel this app is so helpful! Even if you travel occasionally, you’d probably find it helpful too, especially if you use multiple reward programs.

Those are some of my favorite apps, what are some of yours?

Mavis wants to know. :)

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

There’s more than just a chill in the air, now it’s just plain old cold.  If you live in an area where winters are super harsh, or if you live in an older house, now is the time to start taking steps to make sure your pipes don’t freeze.  Because water expands when it freezes, frozen pipes can lead to busted pipes–which can lead to tons of money out of the door in repairs.  A few easy steps could save you some moolah and heartache.

First things first, locate your pipes, if you don’t already know.   Pipes in uninsulated attics and crawlspaces can be vulnerable to freezing.  So, make sure that any cracks or holes in the foundation, roof, and/or walls are sealed up.  Think about where cable lines or phone lines enter the house , if a hole was drilled to get them into the house, that tiny hole could be enough to freeze your pipes {depending on  your location, of course}.

Semi-Split Pipe Wrap Insulation

If you live in an area that a freeze is less common {like me}, your pipes are actually more susceptible to the weather.  They will likely be located in places where they aren’t protected, because freezing is so unlikely.  So, if you get a freeze warning in an area like that, make sure to take proper precaution by insulating the pipes or using a special heat tape.

In the dead of winter, simply opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to the heat of the house can go a long way.  Also, if your house is in an area that is susceptible to frozen pipes, it’s best not to drop your thermostat at night during those coldest nights.  Keep the temperature steady–even the slightest drop can tip the scales.

Remember your outside faucets have pipes that can freeze too.  So, make sure to disconnect hoses, etc. that would encourage water to stay in that short span of pipe behind the exterior of your house.

If you travel during the holidays, or just to get away for a little winter-blues therapy, resist the urge to turn down your heat below 55 degrees.  Shut off the water before you leave.  If you can, also drain the whole system.  If turning the water off isn’t an option for you, it’s probably in your best interest to have a neighbor check in on your house, just to make sure it stays warm enough and all is well.

Running water is awesome.  Broken pipes are not.  So, how do you keep your pipes happy in the winter cold?

~Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Sales Cycles – What’s on Sale in December?

Sales Cycles - What's on Sale in December

Sales Cycles - What's on Sale in December
Wowzers, where did the year go?  December is here and so is the end of 2013.  If you are anything like me, money seems to fly out of the door this month–’tis the season, I guess.  Luckily, if you play your cards right, there are plenty of great deals.  Watch for sales on these items while you are out in the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season:

honey-suckle-turkey-cure-81-Spiral-Ham

Food

Eggnog
Ham
Butter
Cheese
Baking Supplies
Pie Crusts
Refrigerated Cookie Dough
Pie Fillings
Dried Fruit
Boxed Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing Mix
Cornbread Mix
Cookies
Cold Cuts
Crackers
Dips
Gravy and Gravy Mixes
Seasoning Packets
Broths and Soups
Canned Pumpkin
Canned Cranberries
Whipped Topping
Canned Yams
sweet potato casserole recipe

Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

Seasonal Produce

Avocado
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Celery
Cauliflower
Fennel
Grapefruit
Mushrooms
Mandarin Oranges
Oranges
Pears
Spinach
Sweet Potatoes
Pomegranates
Papayas
Tangerines

elf-on-the-shelf-christmas-present2

Non Food Items

Toys {AFTER Christmas Clearance}
Christmas Decor {after Christmas}
Laptops
Movies
Bikes
Wrapping Paper {after Christmas}
Thanksgiving Decor {clearance}

Is there a particular item you always notice for sale in December? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

Saving money is cool!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

10 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

10 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill

You know when  a sweatshirt, coat, mittens, hat, gloves, scarf, moon boots, etc. are no longer cutting it, that it’s time to turn on the heat.  I hate the thought of having to pay for warm air–I get it, but I don’t like it.  Keeping costs down, so that I have more money to spend on things that I love, like travel and cupcakes, is priority one for me.  If you are in the same unheated boat, here’s a couple of tips to keep costs low this winter:

  1. Make sure furniture isn’t blocking any heating vents.  No reason to pay for heating the underside of your couch.
  2. Use all of the heat your pay for.  Whenever I bake in the winter, I leave the oven door cracked after I turn it off.  I figure, I already paid for the heat, I might as well disperse it out into the room.  {Probably not a good idea if you have little ones, though.}
  3. Replace your furnace filter religiously.  It seems like a bummer of an upfront cost to buy filters, but a blocked filter will cost you way more than a new one.
  4. Install a programmable thermostat.  Seriously, if you do one thing, do this one.  You can program it to kick on 30 minutes before you wake, or to drop the temperature when you are at work.  You just set it and forget it, using valuable heat only when you need it most.
  5. Seal all of the leaks around the windows, door, etc.  A tube of weather caulking is super cheap.  About 1/3 of a house’s total heat loss is lost through the windows and doors.  Seal ’em up.
  6. Use the sun to your advantage.  That’s a little harder for me here, but I hear tale of places where the sun still shines in the winter.  Open up the blinds on those days and take advantage of the earth’s free heat.
  7. On the flip side, pull the blinds and drapes when it is dark outside.  It will create one more layer of insulation to heat loss.
  8. Lower your thermostat at night.  Supposedly, we sleep better when it’s cooler anyway.  Invest in a down comforter and drop the temperature.  If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set it to start warming up about 1/2 hour before your feet even hit the cold floor.  Ain’t technology grand?
  9. Make sure to change your ceiling fan direction {so it pushes the air down} and turn it on low.
  10. Close off rooms and vents that are not used regularly.

How do you save money on your heating bill in the winter?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

10 Ways to Save Money at Christmas Time

10 Ways to Save Money at Christmas Time

10 Ways to Save Money at Christmas Time

The holidays always seem to cause a hemorrhage in the money department.  There are tons of ways to keep up with the spirit of giving without breaking the bank, though.  Here’s 10 easy ways to slash your Christmas spending without really even noticing:

  1. Christmas Wrap.  Expensive Christmas wrapping is completely unnecessary.  There are tons of creative ways to wrap presents without spending money on wrapping paper.  Use the newspaper and add a red or green bow.  Ask for paper bags all year round at the grocery store.  When Christmas comes around, turn those suckers into wrapping paper.  There is something nostalgic about a brown paper wrapped present, anyway.
  2. Make homemade Christmas presents.  If you canned from your garden this year, they make perfect, can’t buy in the store gifts.
  3. Send e-Cards instead of Christmas cards.  You’ll save on the cards, the postage, and the waste.  
  4. If you will be shopping online, make sure to shop through sites like ebates so you can receive cash back on your purchased.
  5. Set budget boundaries up front and stick with them.  Sit down with the kiddos and get real with them over their expectations.  Agree on spending limits for them as well.
  6. Think about gifts that are personalized and discounted when ordered in multiples, like calendars with personal pictures, etc.
  7. Use old Christmas cards as gift tags.  Cut the front picture off and write on the back.  Attach it to your gift with some ribbon.
  8. Turn your Christmas gatherings into potlucks.  You’ll get to sample your family and friends favorite dishes, plus you’ll save money by not having to provide all of the food.
  9. Ask family to participate in a name draw.  Put everyone’s name in a hat and pull one out.  Set a dollar limit and you only have to shop for one person.
  10. Christmas is a great time for charity, but there are soooo many great ones to give your money to.  Decide as a family where you will allot your charity budget upfront, that way, as the requests roll in, you know exactly whether or not they are part of this year’s budget.

I hope some of these help keep the holidays a little less stressful.  Do you have any great money saving tips you use to cut costs around Christmas?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How Much Should You Give Your Children for Allowance?

How Much Should You Give Your Children for Allowance

How Much Should You Give Your Children for AllowanceDo you pay allowance?  Do you expect chores in return?  I have heard both side to the chore argument–one is that allowance pays for their services, the other is that they do chores because they are part of the family and allowance is just their spending money, irregardless of services performed.

I sit somewhere in the middle of both of those camps.  I have teens and give them both $60 a month and they are responsible for buying most of their clothes, gifts and movie tickets {or other entertainment} or anything else they want.  They get this irregardless of what chores they do, but believe me, when I ask them to help me out, I expect them to help.  And they are great kids–they do help, they help in the garden, the run errands for me, they help clean, etc.

I give them allowance to help them learn to manage their spending, so when they leave the nest, budgeting won’t be a shock to them.  I get that in the real world, if you don’t show up to work, you don’t get paid–but occasionally my kids will have a CRAZY week filled with sporting events and have major tests to study and not be able to help out as much as they normally would.  I consider their schooling part of their work, so I pay them anyway.

chore chart{Melissa and Dog Chore Chart}

I looked up a couple of articles {this one, and this one} because I was curious what the standard thinking on allowance was these days.  One of the articles suggested starting allowance right around kindergarten.  One even gave a formula for deciding how much {suggesting either $.50 to $1.00 per year of age}.  So, a 7 year old might get anywhere from $3.50 to $7.00 a week.  I don’t know about you, but that seems a little high–has inflation really impacted the rates since my kids were 7?!  I like the idea of little ones having to save for a toy or item they want–like for awhile, so they can see that it takes time to save for something you reaaaally want.

Both articles suggested increasing the child’s financial obligations as they aged.  I thought that was a pretty good idea.  Obviously, your kindergartner can’t be expected to pay for their clothes, but should they pay for birthday gifts for friends out of their allowance?

How Much Should You Give Your Children for Allowance

I saw an idea on Pinterest not too long ago where a mom had made a list of EXTRA chores and assigned a monetary value to them, so if kids wanted to do extra work to earn money faster, they could.  I thought it was a pretty cool idea for little ones–it puts them in charge of their “savings plan.”  {I would like to put out there that I will pay ANYONE’s kid $1.00 to clean toilets at my house.  Ha!}

I’ve also heard of people who keep a notebook.  Rather than giving little Johnny cash each week, they write down the amount in the notebook.  It’s like a savings account that they can draw from when they are ready.  That way, when they are at the store, they can make a purchase from their account {mom or dad buys, based on the amount they have in their account}.  It is supposed to be helpful for parents, because let’s face it, it’s hard to stay consistent with allowance when come Friday, you don’t have any $1 bills.

So, of course, I’m curious, HOW MUCH do you pay in allowance?  Do you expect CHORES in return?

~Mavis

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How to Replace a Furnace Filter

How to Replace a Furnace Filter

How to Replace a Furnace Filter

Over the weekend the HH and I took a trip to Home Depot to get a new filter for our furnace.  Holy Cow!  There are about a billion choices, each more boring than the last.

It all started when the HH pulled out the old filter to give it a quick check.  He said it was time to get a new one.  I believed him, largely due the fact I wouldn’t be able to tell otherwise.  As we drove, though, I started to think maybe I should know a thing or two about stuff like this, so I asked the HH to give me the rundown.

How to Replace a Furnace Filter

Here’s the basics:

  1. Check your filter regularly.  Houses are built airtight these days, so the filter really has to work to keep the air clean.  A dirty filter can affect the performance of your furnace, your furnace’s longevity, and your power bill.  After comparing a brand new filter to our rather gray and dingy one, I can totally see what I need to look for.
  2. To remove the filter, shut off the power at the electrical outlet on the furnace and open the access panel.  Pull out the filter.  For a newbie, like me, it’s a good idea to mark which side of the filter faced up and which faced forward, etc.  A sharpie and some arrows should do the trick.  Then, when you get the new filter, you can compare it to the markings on your old filter and make sure you put it back in correctly.
  3. Make sure you know what size of filter you need, because I am not kidding you, Home Depot had a ton.  The size should be listed on the side of the filter.  Also, just so you know, if you don’t have an HH, you may want to google different types of filters.  You can get disposable {most common} or a variety of Cadillac-type filters that do everything but the dishes.
  4. To put it back in, open that access panel again, and slide the filter into place.  Make sure you have the right side facing toward you.
  5. As a sidenote, since your in the general area, don’t be afraid to grab the shop vac and do a little cleanup around and in the furnace access panel.  Make sure to turn the electrical outlet on the furnace to off before you do, though.

That’s it.  Pretty basic stuff when you get right down to it.

~Mavis

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How to Store and Dry Firewood

firewood rack

How to Store and Dry Firewood

Do you have a wood-burning fireplace?  I just love the crackle sound of a fire in the fireplace–and I love the dry heat that pours off them.  Here in Washington, it feels wet most of the time, so a nice dry heat on a cold day is awesome.

How to Store and Dry Firewood

Yesterday we had a cord of wood delivered so I thought I would share some tips about how to store and dry firewood that I’ve learned over the years.

If you are new to firewood storage, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, drying the wood.  Dry wood burns cleaner and more efficiently. Green/wet wood puts off a lot of smoke and not as much heat–so the extra step to make sure your firewood is dry is totally worth it.

The easiest way to dry firewood is to split it and then leave it in a sunny dry spot to dry completely. Split wood allows more surface area to get air and dries the wood faster.  Resist the urge to cover your wood {unless there’s rain, of course}.  More air means faster drying time.

firewood rack

Once your wood is completely dry, you’ll need to stack and cover it.  Move it to a shed, garage, or cover it with a tarp.  If you go the tarp route, you’ll want to anchor it down with something to keep the moisture out.  To stack the wood, it is best to get it up off the ground, if possible.  A firewood rack is ideal, you can buy it or make it out of 2×4’s.  The goal is to give the wood good air circulation.  After that, stacking is simple–take a little extra time to make sure the wood is stacked well, and retrieving it will be a lot easier.

That’s it.  A little work up front and you’ll be sitting in front of a roaring fire in no time.

How do you dry and stack your wood?

~Mavis

 

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Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid

Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid

Homemade Windshield Washer Fluid

With all of the rain and resulting mud around here, it is not uncommon for me to drain my window washer fluid in a couple of weeks.  Rather than running out to buy it in bulk, I decided to try my hand at making my own.

You’ll Need:

A gallon sized jug {an old cleaned out distilled vinegar jug works great}
1 Gallon of Water
1 Tbsp. Dish Soap
½ Cup White Distilled Vinegar

Directions:

Fill your empty jug with the water.  Add the dish soap and vinegar.  Put the cap on the jug and gently swirl the jug around to mix all of the ingredients.  Pour it into the wiper fluid container in your car.  Doesn’t get much easier than that.

***If it gets super cold in your area, you may want to add 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol to prevent it from freezing.  It doesn’t get cold enough for me to be too concerned about that, but I thought it was a pretty good tip for those of you who have tougher winters than we do here in Washington. 😉

This literally costs pennies to make, and eliminates who knows what kind of chemicals from the commercial washer fluid.  Wahoo!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Sales Cycles – What’s on Sale in November?

Sales Cycles - What's on Sale in November

Sales Cycles - What's on Sale in November

Wow, is it really November already?  Seriously, where does the time go?  With Turkey day nearly upon us, Black Friday {which should really now be called Black November}, and the start of the Christmas rush, there are literally TONS of sales to watch out for while you are shopping this month.

old fashioned pumpkin pie recipePumpkin Pie Recipe

Food

Halloween Candy {clearance}
Turkey
Butter
Cheese
Baking Supplies
Pie Crusts
Ready Made Dough
Dinner Rolls
Cake Mix
Cake Frosting
Pie Filling
Spices
Nuts
Dried Fruits
Oatmeal
Marshmallows
Gravies and Gravy Mixes

how to make apple chips dehydrate apples

How to Make Apple Chips

Seasonal Produce

Apples
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Celery
Carrots
Cauliflower
Kale
Leeks
Potatoes
Chicory
Cranberries
Greens
Mushrooms

pie plates

Non Food Items

Halloween Decor {clearance}
Halloween Costumes {clearance}
Aluminum Foil
Plastic Wrap
Disposable Baking Pans
Electronics
Cookware
Bakeware
Carpeting/Flooring
Tools
Furniture

Is there a particular item you always notice for sale in November? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

Saving money is cool!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Negotiate for a New or Used Car

How to Negotiate for New or Used Car

How to Negotiate for a New or Used Car

With four drivers in our house you can be sure the HH and I know a thing or two about negotiating for a car. Here’s a couple of our favorite tips to take with you to the car lot to make sure you get the best deal possible:

  1. Remember the sticker price is just a sticker.  It is not their rock bottom price.  Think of it as a starting point.
  2. Do  your research.  Know the value and worth of the car you are looking at.  Make sure to let the salesperson know you’ve done your research.
  3. Have your own top dollar amount and don’t let yourself get talked into more.  They are in the business of selling cars, your tenacity will pay off…eventually.
  4. If you have a trade-in, remember there is wiggle room on that end too.  If they can’t get the price of the car to what you want, tell them you want more for your trade-in.
  5. The salesman will ask you what monthly payment you are looking for.  Do NOT answer this question.  They can get your monthly payment by giving you a 45 year loan, and still charge you an arm and a leg for the car.  Know how much you want to spend total and stick to it.
  6. Shop around.  It gives you negotiating power to tell the salesman.  S/He knows you are not committed to buying a car from him/her, but for getting the best price for the best value.
  7. Don’t be in a hurry.  You don’t want to be forced to take a deal that wasn’t right.  If the car you had your eye on sells before you are ready to buy it, another will come along.  Grandma was right:  patience is a virtue.
  8. When in doubt, walk out.  If something seems shady, just leave.  No biggie.  Social etiquette does not apply to car shopping.
  9. If you are buying a used car from a private seller, remember:  cash is king.  Not having to wait for financing to go through, etc. will be extremely appealing to a seller.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales manager for a different salesman.  Sometime people just don’t click.  You won’t be able to come to a mutually beneficial deal if you don’t see eye to eye.

What strategies have you learned over the years?

~Mavis

Looking for more Money Saving Tips? See the full list of Money Saving Tips HERE!

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner

I just love it when someone else does all of the research for a make-your-own cleaning product and all I have to do is follow the recipe. I found this window glass cleaner recipe a while back on Crunchy Betty and I’ve been using it ever since. I LOVE it! It’s quick, easy, and I never have to buy any fancy ingredients when I want to whip up a new batch.

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cup warm water

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients together in a spray bottle and shake.  {You will need to shake it each time you use it}.  Then, use it like you would over-priced, over-chemicaled {that’s a word, I’m sure} store-bought versions.

~Mavis
DIY Cleaning Products
Here are a few more DIY Products I make:

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
DIY Fabric Softener
Homemade Soft Scrub
DIY Dishwasher Tablets
DIY Daily Shower Spray

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

DIY Dishwasher Tablets RecipeI love the convenience of dishwasher tablets, but the price is just crazy.  So lately I’ve been making my own, and guess what? Making your own dishwasher tablets is super easy, and it doesn’t break the bank either.

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

You’ll Need:

1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Epsom Salt
3/4 Cup Lemon Juice

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

Directions:

Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice and mix thoroughly.  You want to get the consistency wet enough to mold, but not too wet that it will fall apart.  You may have to add a little more lemon juice to achieve it.

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

Because they dry pretty quickly, and I have major OCD, I like to place the mixture into 1″ square ice cube trays to make the tablets uniform.  {Just don’t fill the ice cube trays up to the top, or the detergent door won’t close on your dishwasher.}  I have found that a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop is just the perfect amount to use.

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

Once you have the DIY dishwasher detergent in the ice cube trays, give the trays a little shake to even out the portions. Allow the tablets to dry for a few hours and then put them into an airtight container until ready to use.

DIY Dishwasher Tablets

Making your own stuff is awesome!

~Mavis

Here are a few more DIY Recipes you might like:

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

DIY Fabric Softener

DIY Daily Shower Spray

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Sales Cycles – What’s on Sale in October

Farmer's Market Foods Organic Canned Pumpkin, 15-Ounce Cans

Sales Cycles - What's on Sale in October

Fall is officially in the air and so is the kick-off to holiday baking.  Yum!  October hosts Halloween, Columbus Day, and the end of Harvest, so while you are out shopping this month, take advantage of these possible savings:

Farmer's Market Foods Organic Canned Pumpkin, 15-Ounce Cans

Food

Canned Pumpkin
Pie Crusts
Baking Chips
Chocolates
Candy
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Sugar
Flour

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar

Seasonal Produce

Apples
Sweet Potatoes
Carrots
Kale
Leeks
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Mushrooms
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Winter Squash
Broccoli
Spinach
Lettuce
Cranberries
Apples
Pomegranates

7 jeans

Non Food Items

Grills {final clearance}
Tires
Back to school clothing {beginning of the clearances}
Trees, Shrubs, Bulbs
Garden Supply {clearance}
Patio Furniture
Denim

Is there a particular item you always notice for sale in October? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

Saving money is cool!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Money Saving Tip – Get Cheese Loaves Sliced in the Deli for FREE

Money Saving Tips Get Cheese Loaves Sliced in the Deli for FREE

Money Saving Tips Get Cheese Loaves Sliced in the Deli for FREE

My local grocery store {Albertsons} has 2 pound loaves of Tillamook cheese on sale this week for only $3.99 each. Since this is our favorite cheese, I went ahead and picked up a loaf and brought it directly to the deli counter and had it sliced for sandwiches.

Tillamook krafy cheese

You might think that’s a little weird, but when an 8 ounce package of Tillamook pre-sliced cheese is selling for $2.99 a package, getting the 2 pound loaf of cheese sliced in the deli is a HUGE savings.

What would you rather have?

{4} 8-ounce packages of cheese for $11.96 or

{1} 2 pound loaf sliced in the deli for $3.99?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Taking care of the grass is totally my husbands department, but I know some of you do it all, so here’s a quick and dirty guide on fall lawn care and prepping your lawn for winter:

First, now that it is cooler, lower your lawn blade {keeping your lawn blade higher in the summer protects fragile roots from too much heat}.  Leaving it too high for winter creates an awesome hideout for mice and other rodents–which repay you by destroying your lawn.

Fall is also a great time to aerate your lawn.  An aerator is pretty inexpensive–and goes a really long way when you get a group of neighbors who want to go half-sies with you.  It will also prep your lawn to receive a winter feeding.  Fertilizing the lawn before winter gives the grass a much needed boost to ensure strong roots the following year.

If you have thin or bald spots in your lawn, fall is perfect for seeding.  The weather is cool, and you don’t have to worry about a spike in heat that will affect germination.  Make sure to rake in your seed to improve germination too.

If you have trees with leaves, make sure to rake them up and get them off of the lawn.  Leaving them there through the winter can lead to fungus and other diseases in the grass.  Imagine the leaves being a blanket that creates a hotbed for unwanted disease.  Rake ’em up and compost them, if you like, just make sure to get them off the lawn.

Finally, make sure to think about weed control.  Destroying them now, whether with an organic weed killer or by hand, will make your job A LOT easier come spring.  All weeds do is compete for nutrients anyway, filthy beggars.

That basically the 411 on fall lawn care around this house.  Is there anything you do differently?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

10 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

10 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

10 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Ah, finances!

You know, that topic everyone worries and fights about?  And since money makes the world go around, when the money doesn’t stretch far enough, next comes a plummeting credit score.  How is it that one little number can dictate your life?

If your credit score has got you down, here’s a couple of sure-fire ways to get it back up and get you back on track:

  1. Patience.  Remember that only time is going to heal a credit wound, so be patience and mentally prepare for the long haul.
  2. Check your credit report regularly.  Make sure that everything is accurate and check to make sure you are up to date on all of your payments.  Get current on all of your accounts. I have used Credit Sesame in the past. It’s free, and easy to use.
  3. Keep up with monthly payments.  Even if you have what seems like an insurmountable pile of debt, keeping up with monthly payments goes a long way with the health of your credit score.  Decide which debt you are going to tackle first.  I like the Dave Ramsey method of tackling the smallest debt first, because it gets you out of a payment faster, but you can research whatever approach is best for you.  Once you have allotted which account will get more than the minimum monthly payment, set up auto pay for minimum monthly payments on the rest of your debt.
  4. If you find that #3 is impossible, and you can’t make ends meet to make the minimum monthly payments, contact your creditors to make an arrangement.  Creditors want to get paid, they are typically willing to work with you {this is not always the case, though}.  If you don’t want to contact the creditors, contact a legitimate debt credit counselor who will on your behalf.  Contacting and dealing with a debt counselor will not hurt your credit score in any way.
  5. If you don’t have debt, but want to raise your credit score, there are a couple of tips to make sure you don’t inadvertently lower your score.  One, make sure you don’t open too many new accounts all at once.  This is considered a credit risk and negatively affects your score.
  6. Closing your account after you have paid it off may negatively affect your credit score because, in part, your score is determined by the amount of debt to available debt ratio.  You will have to weigh the option on a personal level as to whether that dip in your score is worth it to you not to have a revolving line of open credit.
  7. Use open credit cards lightly.  It is best for your score to never maintain a balance of more than 10%-30% of your total limit at any one time.
  8. Miss one little payment?  Nip it quick.  If you have been a good customer, some companies might be willing to overlook a missed payment if you ask.
  9. Only apply for new credit when absolutely necessary.
  10. A mix of credit seems to improve your score, i.e car loans, mortgage, credit cards.  While all credit cards equals sad times.

Have you been in the credit slumps before? How did you get out?

Good luck,

~Mavis

CreditSesame – Free Credit Score and Monitoring

* Receive daily credit monitoring alerts
* Get your FREE Credit Score Monthly
* Limit ID Theft Damage
* Find Potential Errors Sooner
* Get Access to Better Loans and Save Money

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How Long Will Foods Last in the Freezer?

How Long Will Foods Last in the Freezer

How Long Will Foods Last in the Freezer

Have you been a busy little squirrel gathering nuts for the winter?  I know I have been freezing, canning, and dehydrating like crazy.  I love to freeze foods from the garden and Mr. Produce guy, but even with the best practices, they don’t last forever {the taste and texture start to deteriorate a bit}.Here’s a quick reference for how long frozen foods last:

Asparagus – 1 year
Beets – 1 year
Peppers – 3-4 months
Broccoli – 1 year
Carrots – 1 year
Cauliflower – 1 year
Corn – 8 months
Beans – 1 year
Leafy Greens – 8 months
Apples – 4 months
Apricots – 6 months
Bananas – 8 months
Berries – 6 months
Cherries – 6 months
Cranberries – 4 months
Peaches – 4 months
Fruit juice – 1 year
Nuts – 2 years
Butter – 9 months
Bread – 3 months {if you wrap it really well, I think you can get more time that this}
Pesto – 8 months {no cheese} or 3 months {with cheese} {I personally think you can get about 6 months with cheese}

I personally try to use most of what I freeze within a year.  These are the “suggested” storage times, what’s your experience?  Do foods last longer than this in the freezer or do you follow the guidelines strictly?

~Mavis

How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

If you haven’t done so already, be sure and check out my How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables tutorial.

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