How To Save On Your BBQ Essentials

Summer is just around the corner and with that comes barbecuing! Nothing like the smell of the smokey grill, fresh cut grass and listening to the neighborhood kids laughing- that is when you know summer has arrived! With this you need to stock up on all your BBQ necessities to make for a great day of backyard and barbecuing.

One of the best places to hit to save big on BBQ essentials is the dollar stores. For less than $25 you can load a cart full of all the items you will need to make for a great day at the grill. Anything from your ketchup, paper plates, snacks, sauces, tongs, foils, and so on are just a few things you can pick up for just one dollar! Our local dollar stores are starting to have such a large variety of items that you will be sure to find everything you need!

When it comes to picking up your meats and produce wait until the last day of your ad circular. When a local store weekly ad ends on Saturday evening, head in around 9pm on that last day, you will see prices drop quickly. Items that were in the weekly ad and are still on the shelf need to be moved out of the store to make way for new product and new sale items. So managers will start to slash prices to get them off the shelf-quickly! This is the best time to snag a large amount of meat or produce for very little out of pocket.

If you are looking for the bigger ticket items such as a grill, hold out just a little longer. With Memorial day right around the corner, retailers will start handing out great discounts on grills and all their accessories. Match these great sales up with coupons or online coupon codes and you will be sure to snag a super cheap grill. Better yet, if you can hold out until the summer is coming to an end, most retailers will not hold onto outdoor grills through the colder months, so slashing prices to get them out the door will be something you will see come September! Patience is a necessity for this option!

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Tips To Save On Graduation and Wedding Gifts

When most people think of graduation or wedding gifts, the first thought is money, lots of money! With most people just graduating or just getting married they will be accruing many expenses and need all the extra cash they can use! New homes, new jobs, furniture, college tuition, etc are all expenses on their list. But not everyone feels comfortable with forking out $100+ to everyone they know that graduates or gets married. There are a few ways to save when getting gifts for these newly weds and recent graduates!

Handmade items are quickly becoming one of the best and least expensive gift to give. Now don’t think this means grab a handful of colored pasta and make a macaroni necklace, you will need to put some real thought and a little cash into this gift. Even though you won’t or can’t spend much, you want the recipient to see how much thought and care you put into your gift. Pinterest is full of great gift ideas if you are looking for inspiration. Frame their graduation announcement or create a personalized wedding album, are just a couple ideas to save big on your next gift.
Shop online! This is the best way to save the most- save gas, save time, save money. Almost every store offers coupon codes or free shipping codes to grab a great gift without paying full retail price. Memorial is just a few weeks away and you will see many online retailers offer great savings, just in time for graduation and wedding season.
Most brides spend hours at the nearest Bed Bath and Beyond scanning every item they think they need to start their newly married life off right! Needless to say most brides still have several appliances or gifts from their wedding, that was never used or even opened for that matter. So don’t feel bad if you look for a deal somewhere other than where she registered to grab that triple shot espresso maker. You can check their registry but then head out to local retailers or even check online for big savings. With stores price matching, coupons from the newspaper or online coupon codes, you can get big savings by shopping other stores!
If you feel that you have to give cash but don’t have a lot to give, get creative! There are many ways to make $20 in singles look fun and interesting all folded up as a cash bouquet. Once they see the super cute design, they won’t even want to open each one to see how much they got!

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Save On Mother’s Day Jewelry Now, Don’t Wait til May!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and if you are looking for a great piece of jewelry to give to mom, then here are a few tips to help you save big when selecting your next jewelry purchase.

Most local retailers will start running some specials a few weeks before Mother’s Day but you don’t have to wait til then to get the best deals. Start searching jewelry counters at your local stores for clearance now. Some stores are still clearing out jewelry left over from Valentine’s Day and even Christmas. These items are usually priced pretty low to make way for new jewelry for Mother’s Day and can be a great inexpensive find. They will tend to be items that are usually red and may say I Love You, but mom will love it and never know it was from the last holiday sale!

Shop online– there are many retailers that have sales now, just like local retailers, to make way for new Mother’s Day pieces. Now these items may not be as discounted as a local retailer since they are not paying to take jewelry counter space. But you can combine these special prices with online coupon codes and free shipping codes to snag a gift for less. Don’t forget social media as well. Facebook for example is quickly becoming a place to not only stay in touch with your old friends but keep in the loop on the latest trends, hottest deals and promotions at your favorite retailers.

Another great way to grab a jewelry gift for mom without breaking the bank is to check online auction sites, like Ebay. There are many people trying to clear out their jewelry box and make a little extra cash by selling their gently used jewelry to you. Some items you may be able to pick up for half the regular retail price just by bidding at the right time.

Other ideas to save big on Mother’s Day jewelry is to make your own. Micheal’s Craft Store or your local craft retailer has tons of products to make your very own design. You can make everything from beaded bracelets, jeweled necklaces or loopy earrings. Whether they like gold, silver, red, blue or sapphires, at a local craft store you can find almost anything to please everyone! Most mom’s would love a personalized gift that was hand made by their child or loved ones!

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Fox19 News: Saving Money After The Holidays

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

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Ways To Save: Print Your 52 Week Plan for Savings!

52 Week Plan for Savings

52 Week Plan for SavingsIf one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to save more and spend less, start a savings plan to use for either your holiday shopping or to put away for a rainy day! With just a little each week, you could easily save $700 by December! This is a great way to not break the bank each holiday season or have a fund for emergencies! Print this plan here!

Looking for more Ways To Save, check out these great tips!

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Kids Frugal Fun: Boredom Busters for the Winter Months

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Winter months brings more time spent inside. With kiddos that can mean a lot of together time! Finding projects to do inside with the kiddos without breaking the bank can seem impossible. But there are many things you can do inside that are FREE or really cheap by using items already in your house!
Homemade Play Dough is probably our favorite project to do at home! Using items you already have in your pantry; flour, salt, oil, cream of tarter, food coloring and water you can mix together some fun time cooking with the kiddos but also hours of fun playing with their new play dough! You can make any color you want and with your cookie cutters and a few utensils, you can spend all day creating funny snowmen, wordy letters, silly faces and even scenic beaches- wishing for warmer weather!
Creating your Own Bookmarks is another great FREE project! Everyone has those paint color card stripes laying around the house after one of their painting projects. Then grab a few scrapbooking die cuts to make some fun shapes, markers or crayons, stickers or ribbon to decorate your stripe anyway that you want. Then grab your favorite book and cozy up next to the fire with some cocoa and read to the kiddos!
We all use this, so we should all have plenty of these left over! Grab a few of  those empty toilet paper rolls and some construction paper, ribbons, markers, glue, glitter, etc. and make your  very own imaginary creature. Add wings, horns, curly hair or whatever you want to make the funniest creature you can think of! This is so much fun to let the kiddos really think outside the box and be as creative as they want!
Grab the shaving cream and let the kiddos hang out in the tub to graffiti the walls. We love adding a few drops of food coloring to my hubby’s shaving cream and grab some paint brushes to paint our favorite art on the tub walls. We can then wash it all away with the shower head and then create a new one! I do have to warn you this project can becoming very addicting to your kiddos and you may have to change the water several times due to their water going cold!

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5 Tips to Stop Eating Out – But Mom I Don’t Want To!

burger and fries

burger and friesWith New Year’s Resolutions popping up every where, I wanted to make a few that were more reasonable than ones I have set in the past! With several kiddos in sports, after school activities and doctor appointments galore, we are always on the run! So sometimes fitting in dinner is a quick run through our local drive through restaurant, eat in the van and then drive to our next activity. With this comes a lot of issues, cost, nutrition, health and “But mom I don’t want to eat at home!”. After a visit to the doctor yesterday for my youngest daughter, I was advised that her eating habits were not exactly what they should be. She is a very picky eater and basically of the 4 things that she eats, all 4 are on her no eat diet. And all 4 are items we pick up at our local drive through restaurant on a regular basis! Not to mention the cost of eating out, seems to increase every time we go! With 6 of us at a burger place we can spend $50 easily. Multiply that by 4 times a week and that is more than my weekly grocery shopping budget! So I made a plan and here are some tips to help you and your family hit the drive through less!

My plan is simple, 5 little things I am going to do to each week to lessen our visits to the drive through!

Make a Meal Plan: Each week I use to make a menu of what I was going to cook and then cooked it. We ate out less and had healthier meal options! But each day seems to get busier and busier, putting it on the back burner. The health of my family is my priority and I need to make sure I do everything I can to keep them at their best! Having a plan will help with the I don’t know nights of what to cook, meaning we eat out! So be on the look out for my weekly meal plans and be sure to share yours with me as well!menu plan monday orgjunkie

Plan a Bulk Freezer Meal Cook Day: Again I use to do this all the time and it was great to be able to grab a bag, leave it on the counter to thaw during the day while I was at work, running errands, toting the kiddos to all the appointments and activities and then come home and throw it in a pan, cook for 30 minutes or so and have dinner! This is great if you have older kiddos that beat you home from work! They can simply throw the meal in a crockpot and turn it on for you, dinner will ready by time you get home. This is also a great way to spend a half of a day cooking with your kiddos and getting them involved in making healthier meal options! What are your Bulk Cooking Plans?

Stockpile at the Grocery: Now I know if you are around here at all you have to see all the posts I share about grocery store sales and great deals each week! When you see these items, these are the times to stockpile as much of them as you can at the lowest price to help keep your food budget down, but to also allow you to have food readily available! How many times have you simply ate out just because you didn’t have all the items you needed to cook dinner. And instead of piling in the car, running to the grocery and getting what you need, you simply just called pizza for delivery! If you have food in your pantry, you will be less likely to call for take out!

Simplify Your Meal Plan: Yes if you want to impress the neighbors with a 6 course meal with all the fixins on your night to host book club, then go right ahead! But on a normal basis, your family will love your meal just the same if it is simple, quick and allows you more time with them instead of slaving over the stove! When planning out your menu for the week or your Bulk Freezer Cooking Day, make items are that staples that everyone in your house loves but can go with anything! I will cook several pounds of chicken on Sunday and use it for 3-4 nights during the week for meals like Tacos, Chicken Noodle Soup, Chickens N Dumplins, or Salads!

 chicken salad blt

Don’t Give In & Make an Incentive: One of my biggest problem for eating out, is not being able to say no! There are many times that we simply ate out because I just couldn’t say no! There are times when we will be heading home and we all exhausted but it is still 6pm, plenty of time to head home, make a quick meal and then start bed time routines! But one of the kiddos will ask for that yummy burger we had last week from the burger joint we will be passing in 3 minutes and it will just be so much simpler to stop, eat their yummy food, not have to cook, not have to clean up and just go home and lay on the couch, veg out to the latest American Idol episode until they need baths! I know, sounds amazing right?!?!? But even though all of that sounds great, I should just tell them no, we will be home shortly and I will make a even better meal at home! You can also throw in a little incentive! That if we don’t eat out this week, we can go to a nice dinner and movie later in the week in exchange for the everyday stops! 4 times a week at $50 is $200, where a nice dinner ($75) + movie tickets ($40-$50) is $110-$120, it is a bit of a savings but extra time doing something with my kiddos is the ultimate payoff!

So what are your tips or ideas of how not to eat out? Share below

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Use Resealable Plastic Food Containers to Freeze Your Meals!

Freezing meals can be a huge money and time saver if you take the time to plan out your menu. We are always on the go, so taking one day to prepare a few extra meals and freeze them for later, is great! Just lay them out in the morning to thaw by dinner and you have a meal ready without spending an hour preparing it! There are many factors for successfully freezing meals. Here are a few tips we use to keep our freezer meals fresh and tasting great when you’re ready to cook!

 The key to keeping your freezer meals good for a long period of time is to know what foods freeze best. There are many foods that freeze very well such as fruits and veggies, cooked meat, cakes, broth, waffles/pancakes, and pre-made meals like casseroles, burritos or soups. I have a great list of items that freeze well! With this come foods that do not freeze well such as cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, lettuce, un-cooked potatoes and some fruits can become mush if not properly frozen.
Keep your freezer meals in smaller portions so they stay fresher, will freeze quicker and then thaw faster as well. Also before freezing hot foods, be sure to wait until they are completely cool. Placing them in the freezer before they are cool can cause other foods to warm up if you place hot food next to them.
Don’t forget to remove all the extra air in your container or freezer bag as well. You want to keep the food fresh and help prevent freezer burn. Just leaving a small air pocket for items such as soups will give the soup just enough room to expand as it freezes but still keep it fresh!
Keeping your freezer meals in freezer bags or resealable plastic food containers is the easiest and most efficient way to store your freezer meals.  Rigid containers and flexible bags make for the best way to freeze foods. Be sure to date and label all your freezer meals bags and containers to know what you have. This is great for planning your meals for the week. Just pull out what meals you need for each day, thaw, cook or re-heat and dinner is served!

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Now That Christmas is Over, It’s Time To Shop!

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IMG_4741Now that Christmas has come and gone, it is time to hit the end of year sales and start shopping for next Christmas! I know that may seem a little crazy, but this time of year is when you are able to grab some pretty hot deals! Especially Christmas decorations, winter attire and toys! Stores are now making way for items such as weight loss products, exercise equipment and Valentine’s Day items- so items left over from the holiday shopping season are making their way out the door at rock bottom prices!

Christmas decorations are now marked down 50% to 75% off regular price and this is the time to grab as much as you can! I always stock up on wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper and gift tags- savings tons of money. A roll of wrapping paper can cost around $3 a roll, at 75% off you are only playing .75 each roll, meaning you could grab 4 rolls on sale for what you would normally pay for one before the holiday sales! I also grab a few more Christmas tree decorations each year to add to the tree- this is how I have 3 different themes for our tree and rotate each year. Paying full price for 3 sets of tree decorations would have cost us a fortune, but with deep sales, I got them for basically pennies! Outdoor decorations are another great item to snag now to save you big! Some of these outdoor decorations for Christmas can run as much as $200 or more, depending on the item. So getting them now at such a great price and storing til next year, can help keep your Christmas budget under control next year! Plus I always feel like I get extra presents when I get to go out to the garage and open our Christmas totes filled with items I got on sale the Christmas before!
I have 3 children who are always growing out of things, loosing items and getting something on all their nice clothes! Baby clothes and kids clothes for the winter will start going on sale at 50% off or more making way for the spring! I love finding pants, coats and cold weather attire for the next year at rock bottom prices! You do have to get really good at guessing what your kiddos will wear a year from now, but it can pay off big in the end! Last year I was able to get 3 brand new coats from Old Navy for my girls for $40 total! I do this year round to help keep our clothing budget on track!

Now yes you just spent the last 6 -8 weeks hitting the stores looking for those must have toys for your family, so shopping now for more toys may seem like a little overkill. But this is the time to grab some hot deals and save you big time on your Christmas budget for next year! This will also save you some time and your sanity by staying home during these crazy shopping days leading up to Christmas next year. I keep a notebook in my purse and write down every gift I purchase for the next year. This way I know what I already bought and who for! I then hide these gifts in totes in our attic so that the kiddos can’t find them. This is great, because I always have great gifts on hand and at a great price! Once November hits, I am left only having to buy a few gifts for friends and family!

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6 Tips to Save on Your Next Vacation

When planning your next vacation, here are a few tips we used last summer to plan our summer vacation to Florida!

  • Skip The Hot Spots- When planning your vacation don’t try and stay directly in the hottest city, look for a hotel or vacation home a few miles out. This will save you big! Hotels in our local city (15 miles away) run $300-$400 a night, hotels near our home are just $80-$100 a night. Yes you will have the convince of being downtown and close to everything, but saving several hundred dollars a night with make up the gas and time you will be spending!
  • Use Your Phone- Calling your hotel or resort may get you a better deal. I know there are a lot of places online that state that they can offer you the best deal and biggest savings, but calling sometimes is best! It will mean a little more work for you but in the long run I have saved several hundred dollars off a house rental by calling around and finding the best deal!
  • Pack Light- If you plan on flying then be sure to keep your baggage in check. Almost all airlines charge per bag and are very limited to size and weight. So over packing an over-sized bag is going to leave you to larger airline ticket fees, killing your travel budget!
  • Keep Your Schedule Flexible- There are many times you can find a great flight or car rental but it is not when you wanted. If you can open your schedule a little when planning your vacation you will be able to save even more. There have been many times that we were able to save more than a $100 by moving our vacation just by 1 or 2 days.
  • Time Your Vacation- When planning your vacation, check for peak times and avoid them. Now through April is a pretty expensive time of year to book vacations for warm weather locations, but with the right timing you may be able to grab a hot discount! Keep an eye on holiday deals and specials and steer clear of March- which typically hosts most schools spring breaks. Most people are not planning a vacation around MLK Day but you may get a deeper discount for it!
  • Look for Discounts with Loyalty Cards, Rewards Programs & Membership Deals- There are so many places that offer special travel savings or discounts such as AAA, warehouse discounts, as well as employer discounts and military deals! Everything and anything that you and your family are a part of call and ask if they offer any discount deals. Some of these can even offer deals on restaurants, attractions as well as your hotel, car rental and other travel arrangements. They may not be huge savings but every little bit counts!

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