6 Ways to Save at the Ballpark

6 Ways to Save at the Ballpark

6 Ways to Save at the BallparkThe HH and I went with some friends to watch the Mariners play the Tigers last night.  Because I am not a big fan of concession stands, I typically bring my own snacks while the HH gets a ballpark weenie and beer.  I try not to worry about the $9 hot dog and $8 dollar beer, because for the HH it’s a guilty pleasure.  Still, at the end of the night, if you aren’t careful, a night out at the ol’ ball field will leave you…well, broke.

peanuts

If you plan on taking the family out to a game this season, here’s a couple of ways to enjoy yourself without taking out a second mortgage:

  1. Bring your own treats/snacks.  Check the field policy before you try to smuggle anything in.  Safeco field allows outside food, so long as it is wrapped properly.  And while you can’t bring in beverages, you can bring in an empty water bottle and fill it in the water fountain.ballpark food
  2. See if all-you-can-eat seats are available.  It adds money to the ticket price, but in the end, if you are planning on more than a hotdog and drink, it will pay for itself.  More nachos?  Yes, please.
  3. Eat before  you go.  Other than the tickets, food will be your highest cost.  Eat right before  you leave for the game so that you aren’t tempted by the roasted nuts and popcorn.
  4. Opt for middle of the week games.  They are less expensive tickets…usually by a lot.
  5. If your state allows ticket re-sales, check out craigslist, etc., you might score on great tickets because someone else needs to unload them fast.
  6. Consider walking into the stadium from a pretty good distance.  The closer you get to the stadium, the higher the cost of parking.
  7. Ask family/friends with season tickets if you can buy tickets for the games they can’t make off of them for a steal.  Better yet, offer to water their lawn/garden, get their mail, etc. while they are gone in exchange for the tickents.

Are you a take me out to the ballgame kind of family?  How do you keep costs low?

~Mavis

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Money Saving Tip: Make Bar Soap Last Longer

soap

soapYou know the remnants of your bar soap, the ones that are too small to keep from sliding out of your hand but too big to toss without feeling wasteful? Well I have a perfect little tip so you can combine them and go on your merry washing way.

Depending on the size of the bar, you can do one of two things. First, if it’s just a sliver, you can wet the new bar, set the old bar on top and press them together. Leave them there until they dry and they should seal right up creating a new bar.

If your older bar is a bit larger, you might need to take a fork and run some parallel groves on both the old and new bar. Wet the grooves in the new bar and line the groves of both bars up and press together. Let dry and Wallah! New and old bars combined make a new and improved bar!

~Mavis

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How to Save Money on Gas

How to Save Money on Gas

How to Save Money on GasAs gas prices are on the rise again {no doubt because most of us are planning our summer vacations}, I thought I’d offer a couple of quick tips on how to get the most out of your tank {and your summer travel} while still sticking to a budget.

When we road trip, gas is always a pretty good chunk of our budget.  This may come as a huge shock, but I’m actually kind of frugal, 😉 and get a charge off of seeing how much I can save.  Here’s the ways saved on gas in the past:

  1. Drive to your destination, but walk once you are there.  Just because you have your car, doesn’t mean you are forced to use it.  We have spent many vacations with our car parked in the hotel lot, while we take advantage of shuttle services and our own two feet.
  2. Stockpile your store loyalty points.  If you shop at Safeway, or another chain that offers gas discounts for loyal patronage, stock up your points to get a couple of cents shaved off each gallon you purchase on your road trip.  {Assuming the gas stations will be available wherever you are going…which is not always the case, but at least the first and last tank will offer some savings.}
  3. Make sure your car is in top shape before you head out.  Make sure the oil change is current, the tires are inflated, and your air filters are clean.
  4. Don’t wait until empty to fill up.  Waiting until empty means you will be at the price mercy of wherever you stop.  Watch prices as you head down the highway and stop when you see a good one.
  5. Windows down, air conditioning off.  Air conditioning is a gas suck–roll the windows down and make the most of the summer breeze.  It will make your kids appreciate the good ol’ days…or at least give them something to complain about the next time they see their therapist.  :)
  6. Plan your route.  A lot of time, we like to make stops a long the way, but I always map out our route to be sure we are traveling the shortest distance possible.  Less miles, less gas.
  7. Resist the urge to put the pedal to the medal.  Somewhere in a florescent lit room, there are mathematicians that have calculated gas mileage for 55 mph, 65 mph, and 75 mph.  They landed on 55 mph giving you the best gas mileage, so embrace  your inner grandpa and slow down and enjoy the scenery.
  8. Check your car manual–it tells you what octane of fuel you need to use to get the best performance out of your car.  Guess what?  It’s very rarely premium grade.

Do you have any more tips to add?

Happy travels,

~Mavis

photo credit

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Lawn Watering Conservation Tips

Lawn Watering Conservation Tips

Lawn Watering Conservation TipsAfter getting the utility costs down inside this year, I plan on heading off the rise in my water bill from lawn/garden maintenance pronto–no more learning the hard way for me.  Although I get quite a bit of rain in my area, I still have to water pretty regularly in the summer months {nothing like the hotter regions of the country, though}.  I have used these watering saving tips in the past with success, so I thought I would pass them onto you so you can use them as they apply to your area:

  1. Water early in the morning or late in the evening.  That will cut down on evaporation.
  2. Mulch your plants.  Give their roots a layer of cool insulation, that way, they can retain water.
  3. Plan a rainwater collection system.  That is FREE water {after initial investment costs}.  I love pretty much anything that is free.
  4. Group plants with the same watering requirements together.  That way, you don’t over-water/under-water any of them.
  5. If you plan on putting a walking path in your yard, use porous materials–like gravel or bark.  That way, any water run-off will soak back into the surrounding areas.
  6. Leave grass clippings on the lawn when you mow, instead of bagging them.  That way, it will shade the roots of the grass and retain moisture.
  7. Aerate your lawn in the spring.  It makes it easier for your lawn to pull in moisture.
  8. In the west, most varieties of grass only need about 2.5 cm of water per week.  You may be over-watering unintentionally.
  9. Dig a circular trench around plants so that water will stay where it needs to…it’s like a moat for the plant to draw on.
  10. Water slowly for a longer period of time, rather than blasting the spot with a hose for a couple of seconds.  That way, the soil can absorb the water without it just running off to places you don’t need to water.

How do YOU conserve water in your garden/yard the summertime?

~Mavis

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Money Saving Tip – Ask for a Cash Discount at the Dentist and Orthodontist

crappy British teeth mavis butterfield

Even though you may already have a dental plan {or if you happen to go over your allowable benefits because you need 3 new teeth this year!!}, there is still a simple way to save money. Ask for a cash discount.

My children’s dentist gives a 5% cash discount if you pay up front. I realize that is not always an option, but if you do have the ability to scrape together some cash, it just might save you a good chunk of change!

Simply ask your dentist if he’d be willing to give you a discount for paying in cash. Since you’ll be saving him money on credit card fees and he won’t have to pay someone to handle all the billing, I bet he might be willing to give some sort of discount. Paying in full at the time of service in cash might be something hard for him to turn down.

He might also say no, but it never hurts to ask. And if the answer is yes, you just saved yourself some money with one simple question. Not too shabby I say!

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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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