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Get Ready: Encores Time is Here February 17, 2009

Filed under: Frugal Living Strategies — frugalinfranklin @ 8:21 pm
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In case you’ve forgotten, the Encores and More Consignment Sale begins this Friday.  You can get all the details at their site.  Preparing for Encores is a big deal in my house (and has been for 13 years now).  I thought you might like some tips on getting ready for this event.  If you aren’t from Franklin, Encores is a massive consignment sale held for one week, twice a year.  They specialize in children’s clothing, toys, etc… but they also have adult clothes and home decor items.  These tips will also be helpful come garage saling season, so keep them handy.

(Note:  I’ll be at the sale with a Frugal in Franklin table.  Be sure to stop by and introduce yourself!)

Before the sale:

  1. Clean out all of the clothes for the upcoming season (right now that means summer).  Weed out all those things that were never worn or don’t fit anymore.  Also, check toys, maternity clothes, children’s furniture and anything else you might want to clear out.
  2. Prepare your items to sell (it’s too late for this sale), but keep it in mind for next time.  Or, decide who you might be able to share the items with.  If you are going to hand them down to a friend, do it in advance of the sale so that she doesn’t buy unnecessary items.
  3. Make a checklist for each child for whom you will be shopping.  You can do this on a 3×5 card or create a spreadsheet that you can re-use.  It depends on your personality.  If it’s a really hectic day, scrawl it on the palm of your hand.  Be sure to include the following for each child: clothing sizes, shoe sizes, and measurements (maybe waist, inseam, and arm length).  Then create a list of needs for that child.  My list would look something like this:
  • 5-7 outfits for play
  • 1-2 church outfits
  • windbreaker or sweater
  • swimsuit(s)
  • 1 pair of decent pajamas
  • dress sandals
  • casual sandals

This is an entire season of clothes for one of my kids.  I would pare down the list, based on what we had already obtained from other sources.  Don’t forget to consider other needs you may have.  Ask yourself about:

  • Birthday gifts
  • Shower gifts
  • Sporting Equipment
  • Yard toys
  • Bigger car seats, strollers, beds, or potty chairs

Lastly, think about items you may want to pick up for yourself or your home.  Would a breadmaker help you cut your grocery budget?  Would a table lamp help you cut back on overhead lighting?  Do you need any clothes for the summer?

On the day of the sale, be sure of the following:

  1. Make sure you have eaten, are well hydrated, and have had a bathroom break before you go.  If you are expecting, this goes double for you.  The lines can be long!
  2. Dress comfortably-especially your shoes.  Also be sure to dress for the weather.  In the summer it’s hot and in the winter it’s cold.  Dress accordingly.
  3. Bring a bag or basket for your finds.  I think it’s helpful to  have sold sign to put on top of your stuff if you need to put it down in a corner for just a second.
  4. Your list!
  5. A tape measure.
  6. Take big kids (over 10) who will be picky about what you buy.  Leave little kids at home.  Children under 10 are not allowed, and you won’t want them with you anyway.
  7. Patience and great attitude. 

Have a great time, and feel free to come back here to tell us about your great deals!

 

“Fireproof” Valentine for My Sweetie February 10, 2009

Filed under: Frugal Living Strategies — frugalinfranklin @ 10:54 pm
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flame-heart1Valentine’s Day is always a frugal affair at my house.  I usually treat the kids to a $1 box of chocolates and a small token (about $1) at the breakfast table.  My hubby is the difficult one, as he and I try to keep to a budget under $15 (and preferably $10).  Adhering to the budget, while purchasing something meaningful, is what makes the gifts so special.  You really have to know the other person to pull it off.  So here goes my plan for this year…

Just a few weeks ago, we rented and watched the movie “Fireproof.”  If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that it’s about a couple who are struggling in their marriage.  The husband reads a book that has 40 days of challenges in it.  Each day he must work on another “love dare” that will help him to care for his wife.

There is a book published by Broadman Holman, called the “Love Dare.”  It has some great ideas in it. But, I wanted to custom make the dare for my husband.  So, I sat down and wrote out a list of 40 things that I could do to show my husband how precious he is to me.  My plan is to give him a card announcing my 40 day challenge on Valentine’s Day.  Then every day, I will follow through on my plan, giving him an opportunity to guess what the challenge was at the end of the day.

You might wonder where I came up with 40 days of ideas.  There is a great blog posted by Amanda  here, that lists 3 months of ideas.  If you know your spouse very well, you can probably think of a few things you can do on your own.  I won’t share all 40 of my days, but they include things like:

  • Walking with my husband in the morning
  • Asking for more input on the menu plan
  • Surprising him at work and taking him for coffee
  • Cleaning some of my junk out of the garage

I am so excited to turn 1 day of celebrating our love into 40 days!  If you have any clever ideas for presenting my plan to my hubby, I would love your comments!

 

Freezing the Unconventional February 6, 2009

Filed under: Frugal Living Strategies — frugalinfranklin @ 9:02 pm
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Have you ever stood by a refrigerator case, looking at a fabulous bargain, but you have to pass it up because you won’t be able to use it in time?  Most frugal moms think to freeze things like cheese and bread, but what are the other possibilities?  Here are some things that we have successfully frozen in order to extend their shelf-life:

  • Yogurt (my kids actually prefer it frozen)
  • Eggs (lightly scramble with a pinch of salt)
  • Cream cheese (will change the texture, I don’t mind-but my hubby does)
  • Nuts, seeds, flours, and whole grains (keeps the oils in them from going rancid)
  • Milk (be sure to drink some first so the carton doesn’t split)
  • soft cheeses like feta, blue, etc…
  • Boxed broth (only used part of the container, freeze right in the box)
  • Mashed Potatoes (good for refrigerator potato bread)
  • Bruised berries and old bananas (great in smoothies, just toss them in a bag and freeze)
  • Fresh Produce (lightly blanche and freeze)
  • Hummus

Over the years, I’ve found that you can toss just about anything in the freezer.  The day I learn how to freeze lettuce, I should be all set.

 

Why would a frugal person pay $700 for vegetables? February 1, 2009

Filed under: Frugal Living Strategies — frugalinfranklin @ 11:18 pm
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It is that time of year again, when my family signs up to participate in a local CSA.  The term CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.”  The basic idea is that you invest in a share of a local farm for a given season.  In return, the farmer shares his harvest with you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for that season.  Our CSA costs $700 and entitles us to a half bushel of produce every week from mid-May until the end of October.

So why would a family with such a tight grocery budget spend so much money on a CSA share?

  • If you are committed to buying local or eating organic, there is simply no cheaper way to get your veggies.  I’ve priced out equivalent amounts of produce at Publix, Whole Foods, and Kroger.  While we do not eat an all organic diet, this gives us the opportunity to eat largely organic produce and helps to support a local food supply.  There are some great books at the local library about why you should eat local, but if you don’t have time to read them, just think about the peanut butter recall.  It should give you one good reason to think about local food.
  • When the food budget is tight, it’s easy to think you can’t afford fresh produce.  Committing to purchasing it in advance, means you won’t be tempted to skimp on your veggies.
  • It’s almost unthinkable to waste produce that has been grown and hand picked just for you.  You will not want to waste it.
  • The produce in our CSA is so abundant that we can eat it year round (see this weeks menus from February)

So how do you make the most of a CSA:

  • Choose a great CSA.  Be sure to ask around and find a CSA that has a good reputation with people you know.  Although sharing risk is part of participating in a CSA, choosing the right farm minimizes the risk your family is taking.  If you live in Franklin, TN or surrounding areas, we use and love Delvin Farms, you can visit them here.
  • Be prepared to do some extra cooking.  It takes time to clean and cook fresh produce.  Dittos on preserving it, but if you let it rot in your fridge, you haven’t saved anything.
  • Be prepared to preserve the extras.  Imagine enjoying your produce year round.  It’s time consuming in July, but popping open the canned tomatoes in January is easy!
  • Be open-minded in your eating.  There are tons of great resources on the web for learning to cook unfamiliar veggies (and you are sure to receive some).  Experiencing new tastes is part of the fun.
  • Stick with it for more than one year.  I am convinced that it takes more than a single season to maximize your value.  You have to adjust the way you cook, learn to preserve your produce, and learn to enjoy some new foods.
  • Share with others.  If you can’t use everything in your share, consider splitting it with another family that has different preferences from your family.  Maybe they love salad greens and salad fixings and you prefer squash and cooking greens.
  • Learn to eat vegetarian part of the time (or all the time).  Making this produce the centerpiece of your summer meals increases the value of the CSA and saves money on groceries.
  • While you are saving money on other groceries, start putting away money for next years share.  We put away $35 every two weeks to cover the cost of  our CSA and the wheat we buy for grinding.

Participating in a CSA may seem like a budget buster if you haven’t planned ahead or you aren’t willing to be flexible in your eating and cooking habits, but with a little forethought it can be a great money saver and lots of fun!

 

Getting the most from a $6.99 haircut January 27, 2009

Filed under: Frugal Living Strategies — frugalinfranklin @ 2:45 am
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Great Clips is having a $6.99 sale on haircuts, now through the 28th.(Please call your salon to confirm.)  I stopped in today and got my frugal ‘do.  It was well worth the price.

I have been using walk-in salons for the better part of the last three years, and I’ve learned some tips along the way:

  1. Walk-in haircuts are perfect for busy moms.  My favorite thing about them is that you don’t have to hire a babysitter while you pay lots of money to get your hair cut.  With a walk-in, you can go in the evenings or on the weekends while dad stays home.
  2.  The manangement of a salon makes all the difference.  I’ve seen a business turn for better or worse in just a month or two.  A great manager can mean a great cut. 
  3. Once you find a stylist you like, don’t be afraid to ask about their normal working hours.  You can request a stylist (some chains charge a few extra dollars for this).  I have found two stylists over the years who have given up salon ownership in favor of managing one of these chain shops.  They gave wonderful high end haircuts for the walk-in price.
  4. Know what you want.  These stylists are trained to give the customer exactly what they ask for when they sit down.  This is not a place to say, “Just be creative.”  (Of course that may change once you get to know your stylist).  Be prepared to explain to the stylist exactly how you like it cut.
  5. Don’t go during peak hours when they may be tempted to rush you.  When they do start cutting, make sure you sit in the chair until you are comfortable with their work.  Take time to look at the cut from all angles.
  6. Most of these salons will not wash or style your hair (or charge extra if they do) so arrive with a clean head of hair.  If you are planning on running other errands, be sure to tuck some styling products in your purse. 

It definitely takes some planning to get the most from a chain salon haircut, but in the long-term it’s worth the effort.