Thursday, May 31, 2007

Festival of Frugality

I usually don't participate in carnivals-no particular reason, but I did this week. I shared some Yard Sale Tips

Blogging Away Debt was the host this week

Check them out for some more frugal ideas saving money with Winnie the Pooh as well as cost effective exercise!

5 simple tips for the college graduate

Most colleges have already graduated the last few weeks, but many recent graduates are deciding what to do. Do they have a job? Will they need to go and live with their parents again. They might burn a "hole in their pocket" with all of the extra money.

Here are some tips from BankRate on how to maintain a frugal lifestyle.

1. Create an emergency fund

My mother alwasy stressed having a rainy day fund. Ir may take longer than expected to find a job or your car may break down. Ideally, you want 3-6 months of living expenses out. Take some of the graduation gift money and put it away.

2. Be thrifty.

Dressing for a first job can be pricey. Be sure to check out the career-wear bargains available at thrift stores. You don't need to shop at Macy's or other high end stores. Marshalls, TJ Maxx all have good career appareal.

3. Watch those cell phone bills.
The suggestion is to get a Prepaid phone because you are more aware of the costs. If you are going to have high-speed internet considering getting VOIP then you won't be using the cell phone as much at home.

4. Learn to cook.
Eating out can ruin anyone's budget. Strive to pack your lunch a few days a week for work. Keep some cans of Progresso soup in your desk. Do potluck dinners with your friends instead of going out to eat. They can be very fun.

5. Join your company's 401(k) plan.
Join the day you can. Saving money for your retirement in your early 20s is a big part of having a good retirement nestegg. Many companies fully or partially match their employees' contributions. Most employers let you sign on as soon as an initial probationary period ends. Setting aside 10 percent to 15 percent of each paycheck toward retirement is a good goal. If you can't do that, atleast do the company match.

So do some frugal tips make you want to gag?

We all know some money saving tips out there are especially crazy. The Tightwad Gazette is the bible of most frugal folks out there. Some ideas are a little gross. Jana Thompson praticially gagged on this one.

I believe one columnist had a reader who suggested collecting all the mostly used-up bars of soap in the house, wadding them into a ball and tying them in the amputated foot from an old pair of nylons. Run the “package” under water, and voilĂ , it’s bath time! Loofah away. I’m going to throw up now. OK, I’m back. Yikes, lady! Just pop for another bar of soap.

That one is just plain old gross.

Here is a better tip for using old soap.
Don't throw away bar soap that dissolves into those little pieces. Save them and add water, then slowly melt them down on the stove and use as liquid soap. Or melt them down without water and pour into greased jar lids or anything you want to use for the a mold and you have new bars of soap!

Another tip that one reader sent me was to use a tissue as toilet paper later on. Yikes! Sheryl Crowe might like that one, but never in my household.

One that I don't find too bad is reusing the the small plastic baggies or the gallon size ones. Unless I am putting in produce or meat, I like to reuse them. My husband thinks I am nuts.

Any tips out there that you said No way! That's gross or just plain old disgusting.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Simple and easy enchiladas

This is a very easy recipe to make. It is good pantry challenge recipe because most of this you will have on hand to make. We usually get enough for leftovers as well.

1 lb ground chicken, turkey or beef or shredded leftover chicken
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1 can re-fried beans (no refried beans in the house- take a canned beans and mush them up)
1 package tortillas
1 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
¼ cup sour cream (can be omitted)
¼ cup Miracle Whip (can be omitted)
1 small can green chilies (can be omitted or use a can of tomatoes instead)
1 cup shredded cheddar

Brown the meat. Stir in taco seasoning mix and beans. Spoon mixture onto tortillas. (Amount will vary according to size of tortilla & preference.) Roll tightly leaving ends open. Lay closely together in square or rectangle baking pan. Use a pan where tortillas will fit tightly.

Mix milk, soup, sour cream, Miracle Whip, green chilies. Heat thoroughly; can thicken if desired. Pour over enchiladas in the baking pan. Sprinkle top with cheese. Heat for ½ hours at 350 degrees.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Are we better off than our parents?

Are we better off than our parents finacially were in their 30s? CNN's money question asked

American men in their 30s are earning less than their father's generation did, challenging a long-held belief that each generation will be better off than the one that preceded it, according to a new study published Friday.

Relying on Census Bureau figures, the study's authors found that after adjusting for inflation, men in their 30s in 2004 had a median income of about $35,000 per year, for a 12 percent drop compared with $40,000 per year for men in the same age group in 1974.

Interesting question that I am not sure I really know the answer. Of course, I know my family's financial history-we were middle class. Dad a union construction worker who did a lot of extra work and overtime. Mom was a stay at home mom. We went to private Catholic school. Mom didn't start working occasionally until I was in high school and her whole salary went to tuition payments. My parents were fairly frugal and even bought some real estate including a vacation home that they still spend time in.

As for my husband's family, middle class as well. Dad was a cop, Mom was a pretty much a stay at home mom, but occasionally did nursing jobs as well. Both kids went to private Catholic school as well.

As for us, middle class, Husband is in sales, I am a work at home mom. I bring in some income through some online marketing stuff. No Catholic schools here. We couldn't afford the tutition.

Is my husband's salary the same, below or above my Dad's or his own father when they were in their 30s? Who knows? I never asked their salaries. Considering it was 30-40 years ago, I would say we make comparable in today's dollars vs then.

What about you?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Mary

Mary is a frugal work at home mom from Pennsylvania. She is a Shaklee consultant/ and shares recipes and cooking tips at MK Kitchen
What is your financial life?
We are 1 income family living on 35,00 a year and I have 1 teenager still at home. I have just started a home business, so we are hoping that will bring in some income soon. We are working paying off our 45k mortgage and whittling away my student loan debt of 25k. Luckily, we don't have any credit card debt and we are working on an emergency fund.

What is your budget buster?

Unexpected auto repairs and home repairs really put a bind on us. They do not happen often but we do drive older vehicles with high mileage. In about a year we will need to replace at least the car.

What is your favorite money saving tip?
Using concentrated products for our home cleaning is a great way to save money. We also use compact light bulbs, keep all unnecessary lights off in the house, and we never do our errands without planning out a route to save time and gas money. We always combine errands into one day instead of several trips over a weeks time.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?

Go out to eat then the rest go towards our savings account!

What is your best resource for frugal living? is a great resource of frugal living! is a great source for ideas on going green and being responsible for our earth and our homes.

Thanks Mary for sharing all of your story! Let us know if you would like to be profiled in the Frugal Five

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Frugal Dinner Planning week of May 27th

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend!! It is a pretty boring menu this week.

Sunday Steaks on the grill

Mon turkey burgers

Tues Pizza going over to my mom's for her birthday

Wed Lasagna without the noodles (hubby is trying to watch his carbs) We hav done this in the past and it is quite filling. Good for any one on South Beach diet or Atkins.

Thurs Grilled chicken, stir fry veggies

Fri Leftover Lasanga

Sat Homemade pizza

Lazy and frugal weekend

I love long weeeknds especially like the one we are having. Nice weather, nothing to do but sit and relax. The next few weekends will be hectic as we got graduations, christenings and cub scout fishing derbies going on!!

I shouldn't say lazy because I did have a couple of errands to do yesterday. And my car didn't pass it's annual inspection. Now I got to figure what that is all about now.

It was warm yesterday so the boys were able to go swimming in the pool for a few hours. Hubby and I watched a few movies last night that we rented from Netflix.

Dinner was some homemade pizza. The oldest went to sleepover at his friends house.

Today is more of the same. We are planning to grill some steaks and tomorrow will be some turkey burgers.

Yard Sale Tips What to buy there

If you are going to check out the local yard sales, here are some tips:

1. Make a plan for yard sales. Many people advertise the classifieds of the local newspaper but a lot of people will just put up signs, post a flyers place a free classified ad on a local community website etc. See what they are advertising! You do not want to waste your time or gas going to a yard sale that might not have anything that interests you. Craigslist is also place where people are advertising their yard sales as well. If you are looking for kid stuff, going to the yard sale of an elderly couple who is looking to downsize might not be your best bet! Use to make a map if you are not familiar with the location.

Check out group yard sales. My local twin group runs a few each year to help clear out their extra from their resale shop. Tons and tons of stuff!

2. Baby products are a huge market. However, these products are soon disposed of after being used. Why not save some money and get your baby products at huge discounts at your local yard sales. When buying baby furniture, make sure it meets current safety standards. Yard sales often have many used cribs, rocking chairs, and other baby needs that will save you over 50%. Baby clothing is also a good deal at yard sales.

3. Find clothing for your older children. There are some great deals out there. Try to buy a season ahead. Learn your brand names on them as well and you can tell the quality.

4. If you are a huge reader, pick up some books at the garage sale. Many sellers sell books for quarters or less. If you sell books, on ebay or half sometimes you will get some great deals.

5. Use the yard sales for Christmas shopping! You can save big money and look for toys at a great discount. Make sure all pieces are there. Kids get tired of games and toys so great deals are to be found.

6. Craft supplies. Many people start craft projects and never finish them. You can find all sorts of brand new supplies at yard sales for pennies on the dollar. Everything from paints to scrap booking to yarn. Mighty Bargain Hunter got a super deal on scrapbooking stuff from a former scrapbooking consultant. My local scrapbook store also organizes a scrapbooking yard sale where you can find parts of kits, etc.

7. Home decorating stuff. My mother has some wonderful finds over the years that we teased her about. We have a beautiful clock that she bought 20 years ago from a yard sale. Picture frames, small tables that might need some tender loving care but overall still in good condition. You can tend to pick up this stuff when they stress that it is a moving sale at bargain prices.

Whether you are the seller or the buyer at a yard sale, there are great deals to be found. Enjoy your yard sale experience!

How to sell books using ebay and online auctions Books Using simplified the whole eBay process for me. There seems to be so much to learn and to remember about using eBay effectively and your book took some of the guesswork and uncertainty away. Learn how to make a profit selling your books on ebay (and

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Yard Sale Selling Tips

It is a yard sale season! Sometimes called garage sales, tag sales or even rummage sales. It is all the same People looking to pick up bargains. Remember one mans trash is another person treasure. Here are some tips if you are going to have a yard sale

1. Start with a plan. Pick a date a few week in advanced. Weekends tend to the best days to have them. Saturdays over Sundays as most folks have more church and family obligations on Sunday morning. Open early. Most service yard sale shoppers like to see sales that open at 9am or earlier.

2. Check to see if there are restrictions in your area for having a yard sale. Some cities and towns may require a permit to have them. Also there are restrictions in some area about how many that you can have each year.

3. Advertise your yard sale. Run ads in local papers, run ads on other similar internet sites and put up flyers. Be specific about what sort of merchandise you have: clothing, antiques, whatever. You'll get the people who really want that stuff. Make sure you take down the signs after the yard sale.

4. Go through your house and decide what goes. If you haven't used it in two years, you can probably do not need it. But don't throw anything away. Even if you think it's junk, someone else collects it. If you are selling your children stuff, ask them before you sell as you do not want them to looking for it.

5. Be organized .Organize the merchandise, putting like with like, so shoppers can fund what they're looking for. If you're selling clothing, put it on a rack or string up a clothesline and hang it for people to see. Also make sure you are put prices on items. Have change and shopping bags available as well!

6. If you are towards the end of the day and just want to get rid of everything. Have a fill a bag for a $1.00 or what ever price that you see suitable. If it doesn’t sell, give it away to charity. You could also post it towards the end of the day on your local freecycle group.

Additional resources:
Ebay auction tips! As a result Alex was able quit his job in construction and become a full time online entrepreneur. The money he earned was more than 3 times his old salary.

Frugal Julia Roberts

Yes Julia Robert is planning to be more frugal with her new baby.

The 'Pretty Woman' actress - who is expecting her third child with cameraman husband Danny Moder in the autumn – is determined to be more frugal after splashing out when twins Phinnaeus and Hazel were born in November 2004.

A source is quoted by Britain's Daily Express newspaper: "Julia spent a lot when the twins were born.

According to
Easier Lifestyles
"She kept most of what she needed from Phinnaeus and Hazel. The rest she picked up from friends and she has even been in a few charity shops

I know I use a lot of hand me downs and when my boys were born, alot of people gave their kids old clothes as well I used my oldest sons. I spent a lot of time in my local twins resale shop.

I tend to buy higher qualify stuff for my oldest because I know 2-3 kids will be wearing the clothes.

How much does clothing really cost?

Take your favorite shirt.

Do you remember how much you paid for it?

Now how often do you wear it?

A simple formula of price paid/how often you wear it equals the true cost of the clothing.

Have you ever done that? Most people don't JD at Get Rich Slowly/ did for a favorite pair of pants. I never did either, but thought I would try it out.

I have had a favorite winter jacket that cost $150  that I probably wear 5 times x 15 weeks a year. I have had the jacket for 4 years now. It is still in good condition. The cost per wear is about 40 cents. If I keep it more years, the cost will go down.

For kids, jackets. My kids get new ones each year due to them growing  However I am not going to spend $150 on a winter coat for them. I think the most I have spent is $25 at consignment store   since the cost would be roughly 33 cents per wear. If the jacket can be hand me down, the cost goes down even more.

The next time you pick up a nice shirt or pants that might be a little higher than what you usually spend, think of how many you will wear them and calculate the cost.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Frugal gardening and lawn tips

I love to garden especially vegetables. Nothing like some fresh tomatoes off the vine. Keep the flower beds and lawn looking good can take time and money.

Here are some tips for keeping a frugal garden:

Do it yourself

The most obvious way to save money is not to hire a landscaper to mow the lawn, mulch and weed the grass. If you do need someone to mow your lawn, see if you can hire an individual vs a landscaping company. Gardening is good exercise as well as mowing the lawn so maybe turn off the TV for a few hours a week.

Leave the grass clipping on the lawn
When you are mowing leave the bag off and the grass clipping go right on the grass. Bottom line you can use less fertilizer and weed killer plus they make your lawn look nicer.

Use homemade weed killer
Use boiling water or vinager to kill the weeds. A lot cheaper than the commerical weed killers on the market.

Creating a rich soil can be as simple as mixing in some fallen leaves that you've let sit in a trash bag over the winter with some ventilation holes cut in it. Mix the leaf debris into your soil for spring planting. Things like coffee grounds and egg shells can be thrown in as well.

Use what you got
You can use old garlic cloves or potatos-plant them the garden to see if they will grow.

Grow a salad
Salad greens are so expensive. Growing different types of lettuce for variety can help decrease your overall produce bill.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cranberry Crock pot Chicken

Cranberry Crockpot Chicken

1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I put in frozen)
1 can (16 ounces) whole berry (or jellied) cranberry sauce
1 bottle (8 ounces) fat-free French, Thousand or Catalina salad dressing (I used fat-free Catalina)
1 package (1 1/2 ounces) dried onion soup mix (optional) (I used 1/2 package)

Spray the crockpot with Pam. Mix together all ingredients in crockpot except for the chicken, then added the chicken and mixed to coat the chicken with the sauce. One pot cooking = less dishes
I cooked it for approximately 8 hours.
Great over rice can stir in cooked rice in for the last 30 minutes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Cathy

Cathy is a frugal grandmother from New York.

What is your financial life?
I have been married to my husband for 30 years . I have a 19 year old son still at home and a 28 year old daughter, married with 1 son. My daughter and her husband lived with us for a few years while they got on their feet. We have a mortgage and a second mortgage. We also have credit card debt is that is approximately $6000. (Check out Tips to get out of debt) We are looking to retire in the next 5 years or so.

What is your budget buster?

Gas is getting so expensive. I have been really trying to watch my driving.

What is your favorite money saving tip?
I like a good bargain. I watch the sales, never pay for anything full price and often buy on clearance.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?

I would put it towards our credit card debt. I feel that is hanging over my head.

What is your best resource for frugal living?
Using my own common sense is my best resource. There are a lot of great sites on the internet for learning about money and saving.

Thanks Cathy for sharing all of your story! Let us know if you would like to be profiled in the Frugal Five

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Frugal meal planning May 20th

Sunday Family celebration no need to make dinner yeah me!!

Monday Cheey Beef and Broccoli

Tuesday Fish ( we are trying eat more healthy these days by incorporating fish into the diet atleast once every 2 weeks

Wed Asian ground beef (basically ground turkey or beef with a bag of cole slaw, some soy sauce, onions, mushrooms-yummy)

Thurs Cub scout pizza night!

Fri Clean out the fridge night! Some sandwiches if we dont have enough leftovers

Sat Pizza

Thanks to Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday. Go and check out more great menus!.

Newlywed financial tips

Today is my sister's bridal shower. I am 99% sure she knows, she hates suprises. This is the girl that would unwrap her Christmas presents and then rewrap them!! As her and new soon to be husband settle down in married life, I thought I would share some financial tips for newlyweds (or marrieds if you haven't done this yet)

1. Know where you are going. As soon as you set a date to start your life together, begin sharing intimate details about each others financial life. If you find both of you hate financial planning you can decide who will do what now. It will not be any easier now than it would after your marriage, but there is less pressure to "just do it" and get it over with.

2. Share the news with the Government. Visit the Social Security website at for information on replacing your old Social Security card if you are changing your name. Also don't forget the Department of Motor Vehicles to change your driver's license. If you have other dealings with state or federal agencies, you will want to change their information about you as soon as possible to avoid any problems later.

3. Hang onto your marriage certificate. Before you put this little piece of paper away somewhere you "won't forget it", keep it handy the first year to show as proof of your nuptials. Financial representatives can not accept a picture of you cutting cake at the reception, and some airline frequent flier miles programs won't update your information unless you have a legal document as proof.

4. Consolidate to save money and arguments. The two of you are married now, act like it financially. You do not need separate checking accounts for separate paychecks to pay for merged bills. By having one checking account you may save on bank fees. To overcome the risk of checks not being recorded, use checks with the duplicate feature and put both of you on a cash allowance. This will help prevent over-use of the check book and arguments about where the money went.

5. Make a financial date night. Choose a night early in the month after all the bills have arrived and spend some time paying the bills together. One writes out the check, the other records the payment and stuffs the envelope. Use this time to discuss finances, goals and clear the air about concerns you may have. These date nights may lead to deep discussions about personal goals, household responsibilities, or even career plans, so listening is critical.

6. Re-evaluate your insurance coverage. Changing your marital status may lower your auto insurance premiums. Employer provided health plans may be consolidated under a family plan, or is it more advantages to maintain individual plans? Do some looking around and get quotes on your health and auto insurance needs from multiple sources.

7. Other insurance considerations. Now that you have a family, do you need more life insurance? Nobody likes to think about it, but disability income and life insurance policies can greatly reduce worry and stress on a family in the event an accident or premature death occurs. The advantage to buying life insurance while you are young is the lower cost. Buying 20-year level term insurance can be a more inexpensive method of buying protection during the time your children are still living at home.

8. Will you, or will you not? If you die without a will, the passing of your assets to your heirs is determined by a judge who determines how much of your assets go to your children, your wife, your father, your uncle, and every other relative who thinks they have a claim to your estate. A quick trip to a lawyer for a small fee, or an hour with a good computer program should put your mind at ease that your family will be taken care of the way you want. Planning on estate division can raise difficult issues, but this is a vitally important thing to do for your loved ones.

9. Promises, promises. You promised love at your marriage ceremony, no make some further promises. Promise to consult each other before making major purchases, setting a price as to determine when discussion needs to occur before the purchase. It doesn't matter if the sports car you have always dreamed about is being sold right now, if you cannot talk to your spouse about it, don't buy it.

10. Respect each other. It is normal for you to not always agree with your spouse about money. This doesn't mean someone has to be wrong and have their resistance worn down. Listen to their opinion and respect their right to have it. You never know, their idea may be better for your family.

America's Financial Guide can be found at ==> Subscribe to Money Basics via

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Free summer movies for the kids

Many movie theatre chains offer free movies during the summer for kids during the movie! Not first run and many are already out on DVD but hey it is a free movie and the kids will probably enjoy sitting the movie theatre. We have taken advantage of this quite a bit-last year we saw Jimmy Neutron, Ice Age and a couple of others. The kids love it.
AMC Theatres
Regal Entertainment Group
National Amusements - Programs Kids over 6 must bring a book report

Dickinson Theatres It says free on the website but some feedback from a reader shared this. I live in Kansas and our local theatre is a Dickenson movie theatre. However, the movies aren't free. They are still extremely cheap. Our local elementary school sells a book of 10 tickets for $6...that's less than $1 a movie. Plus, our school earns 50% of the ticket price. So, each book of tickets sold earns our school $3. Still an awesome deal. I just wanted your readers to know that they aren't necessary always free movies...almost free though:) He may be referring to older movies though. IL MN OH WIPay $2.50 but get a drink and popcorn
Crown movies CT, IL, MD, MN, NV

Free outdoor movies in Orlando
Movies under the Stars Atlanta, GA
Screen on the Green 2007-Free Outdoor Movies at the National Mall in Washington, DC

If you know of more places that offer movies either theatres or outside please place in comments!
There are lots of ways to keep the summer fun and frugal

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's my cariversary

Two years ago this week. I bought a new to use, but used Chysler Mini-van . I don't believe in buying brand new cars. It is just not a good financial decision long term. We still have 12 more months on the loan. While I am not crazy about debt, a car loan of $200 or so is reasonable in my opinion for 3 years.
During our car shopping experience we even heard about ballon loan for a car. Yikes!

I don't do a lot of driving me a work at home mom- mostly local. I have put on 15k miles in these past two years-only about 42k on it. It also go stolen for a joy ride, but luckily we found it in good condition back. It is a 2001 and I hope to have it atleast 7-8 more years on it.

Once this our mini-van is paid off early next year, we are hoping to replace our 1996 Dodge caravan that we have had since 1999. And it will be probably with a 3 year loan.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Save money on your Disney Trip Part 2

Here is our second set of tips for Saving Money at Walt Disney World. Check out our first 10 tips at Save money on your Disney Trip part 1

11. For larger families, reunions or any other get-together at Disney World, it may make better financial sense to look into renting a vacation home, many of which offer enclosed garages, private backyard pools and washer/dryers.

12. If you are visiting one of the Disney World theme parks with young children, don’t forget to bring along a backpack with some snacks or juice boxes.

13. You don’t have to shell out big bucks to stay on Disney World property at one of Disney’s budget all-star resorts – Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s All Star Music Resort and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort (all of which offer complimentary transportation to Disney theme parks and feature onsite food courts). The one downside of a value resort is that families with 5 or more people can't stay in one room, they must get two rooms or one of the All Star Music Family Suites.

14. Instead of spending a fortune at a Disney character breakfast, take your kids to Town Square at Main Street, U.S.A. for autograph and photo opportunities with Disney characters.

15. Choose the appropriate Disney World ticket deal based on your family’s length of stay in Orlando and remember not to overdo things – you will want to schedule time for rest and relaxation during your trip.

16. If you choose to eat at the Disney World theme parks, try to make lunch your big meal of the day when prices are considerably lower than for dinner (especially at Epcot’s World Showcase).

17. Whenever you leave one of Disney World’s theme parks, make sure to get your hand stamped. Then after you rest awhile and enjoy a cheaper dinner off site, you can head back to the park after the crowds have thinned out.

18. You may want to schedule your Walt Disney World vacation around one of Disney’s highly acclaimed annual events and festivals, many of which are included with the price of admission such as the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Star Wars Weekends, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Festival of the Seasons, ABC Super Soap Weekend, Festival of the Masters and Holidays Around the World.

19. Carry your own water bottle into the Disney theme park and you can fill it up at any of the abundant water fountains throughout the day. ( It has been highly recommended to have Staples ship down a case or two or water to your resort as well.)

20. Establish a budget for Disney World souvenirs and stick to your budget (no matter how many cool gifts you see as you stroll through Epcot’s World Showcase!).

21. If you are an AAA or AARP member, take advantage of any special rates or discounts that are available during your Disney World vacation.

22. Many off-site hotels and motels with onsite restaurants offer “Kids Eat Free” deals (one child eats free per paying adult).

23. Purchase such necessities as film and sunscreen before you arrive at Disney World, since prices at the theme parks are more expensive for such items.

24. If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts, take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express, which provides complimentary shuttle service to and from the Orlando International Airport (reservations are required for Disney’s Magical Express).

25. If possible, try to avoid Disney World during holiday weekends and Spring Break when prices are higher and the theme parks are most crowded.

Orlando, Florida Guide, the most comprehensive online guide to Orlando and Disney World, also features discount Disney World tickets, incredible deals on Orlando hotels and individually tailored Orlando vacation packages

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Saving money on your Disney World trip part 1

Believe it or not, you can live it up at Walt Disney World Resort – whether you plan on visiting Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom – without making a huge dent in your wallet. By planning ahead, seeking out the best online deals and following the money-saving tips listed below, you can enjoy significant savings on your Disney World vacation getaway – without sacrificing any of your family’s comfort or enjoyment.

1. Seek out discount Disney World tickets, budget accommodations convenient to Disney attractions and individually tailored Disney vacation packages before you arrive in Orlando.

2. If possible, plan your Disney World trip during the off-season and you will usually discover significantly lower airfares and hotel/resort rates.

3. If you are staying at a Disney resort, take advantage of complimentary transportation to all Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney.

4. Some of the area factory outlet stores such as Orlando Premium Outlets sell Disney merchandise at significantly lower prices than you will find at stores within the Disney World theme parks.

5. Check out some of the free things to do at Disney World such as strolling around Disney’s Boardwalk and Downtown Disney, or hiking through the Disney Wilderness Preserve.

6. Take the family to one of the all-you-can-eat buffets that lie just outside Disney World property such as Bill Wong’s Famous Buffet, Sweet Tomatoes, Boston Lobster Feast, Golden Corral, Ponderosa, Sizzler, Captain Nemo’s Seafood Feast or Angel’s Lobster, Crab & Prime Rib Buffet.

7. If you don’t mind staying off Disney property, you will discover numerous budget motels and hotels (many of which provide complimentary transportation to Disney World theme parks) along Highway 192 in Kissimmee just East of the main entrance to Walt Disney World Resort.

8. Look for free publications such as I Love Orlando magazine, which contain a multitude of discount coupons to Disney area attractions, restaurants and specialty shops.

9. Before you book a hotel or motel, check if they offer guests a complimentary continental or full breakfast each morning.

10. Check out comprehensive online guides to Disney World such as Orlando, Florida Guide for in-depth information on Disney World discount tickets, accommodations and vacation packages.

Orlando, Florida Guide, the most comprehensive online guide to Orlando and Disney World, also features discount Disney World tickets, incredible deals on Orlando hotels and individually tailored Orlando vacation packages.

Naked Burrito

Naked Burrito ... go naked and this is sooo good. All the great burrito filling with out the tortilla.


2/3 cup rice (cooked)
1 cup fat free refried beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
8 oz. cooked ground skinless turkey breast
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. salsa
1 Tbsp. reduced fat sour cream
black pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients.

Makes 4 serving. If you need to make more than 4 serving. Increase the rice and the ground turkey and salsa. I have also made this with leftover chicken that I shredded in the food processor. Yummy.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Yvette

Yvette is recently transplant to Florida who runs several wahm businesses including. Work at Home Business Buffs which helps newbies build a home business.

What is your financial life?

My income has been very erratic in the past few years since my husband retired! My husband decided to take our pension funds and invest them himself, since he though he could do better than the mutual funds they were in. Well, that was about the time of the mini stock market crash in 2002! Our funds were suddenly reduced by 2/3s! Since then we have recovered and now we are living the best that we ever have!
Our one problem is owning 2 homes. We've recently moved to Florida and we just did sell our Pennslyvania home, so that will be a lot of expense off of us. My husband has even been able to "gift" our kids in the past 2 years, because of our successful stock market ventures. He watches it carefully and is educated in making trades. In fact, he has recently hired our son to work with him! Michael has recently quit his "day job" to work entirely on the internet because he was being so successful. Now his father has insured him a paycheck, so he can be more secure.
Our credit cards are only 2, plus one for my business. We pay them off monthly, so no interest to pay. I'm afraid we do have a mortgage, new car pmt, etc, because my husband figures he can better use the money to invest with - he can earn more interest (20-30%).

What is your budget buster?

Hospital insurance and all those medical expenses are a huge drain. It adds up to over $1000 a month.

What is your favorite money saving tip?

Since credit card debt is so expensive %-wise (up to 20+%!), I advise paying your bills in total every month so you don't have the interest to pay! Paying the interest is a big chunk of your monthly payment! At least, pay extra on your cc debt each month to reduce it quicker so you can pay the total monthly. Do some scrunching and denial and don't add to those bills until you get them under control! (Check out Tips to get out of debt)

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?

That's difficult to say, since it's not very much money anymore! I'd like to add it to my business account, so I could be a little more free in my advertising costs

What is your best resource for frugal living?

I've had my own Accounting practice and we've had retail businesses, such as a Cheese Shop, and now I'm working on the internet and my husband in the stock market, so we've learned a lot over the years. I read Financial Magazines , such as Inc.and the new one: Revenue.

Thanks Yvette for sharing all of your story! Let us know if you would like to be profiled in the Frugal Five

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Frugal meal planning May 12th

Happy Mother's day

Sun Steak and Potatoes

Mon Crustless pizza

4 oz. Mozzarella cheese
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. tomato sauce
1 c. green pepper
1 lg. onion
1 c. mushrooms

Cook ground beef, and when almost done, add all vegetables and tomato juice. When cooked to your preference, place mixture in a baking dish and top with cheese and place under broiler until melted.

Tues Lasagna

Wed Chicken dish

Thurs Pork chop (they were on sale)

Fri Clean out the fridge night aka leftovers from the week

Sat Homemade pizza

Money habits and my mom

I was reflecting on my mom and money this morning because of Mother's Day I written a post almost 2 years ago as I sat in their vacation home. Did I learn my money habits from my mom

I honestly do not know if I got my money habits from my mom. My mom looks at me crazy when I talk about online banking. She just started using an ATM this year-she always paid cash for everything. Paying cash and not pulling out a credit card is one thing I do remember. That is one thing I get from her

Two years later my mom is still rarely using an ATM and forget about online banking or online shopping. The more I think about it, cash was king in their household is and still is. Their dream car was a black cadillac (I think more my Dad's, but my mom drives it every day) they paid cash for it.

Mom has been at a job for the last 18 years (the one she got when I started college) and her division is closing. She found out that her last day will be in June. Is she scared? At 60 years old, she really doesn't want to retire nor will she. She said she is going to enjoy the summer and then find a part time job in the fall. Luckily, my mother has been planning for the rainey day since she got married.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! And to all the mom's out there.

Dirty Dancing Then and Now

You don't realize how fast time flies and then Dirty Dancing is celebrating it's 20 year anniversary. I was 16 yr old and my junior year of high school when this movie came out-it was awesome! I had the soundtrack cassette of the movie and I think I danced to it all the time. The theme song I had the time of my life was my prom theme (as I think every other school at that time) Who didn't think Patrick Swayze was hot!

And I was working at a Bakery making just about minimum wage $4.50 an hour.

Let's compare some price from 20 years go to today:

Stamp 22 cents Today (well tomorrow) 41 cents

Gas .95 cents a gallon Today Almost $3.00 a gallon

Gallon of Milk $2.28 Today $3.39 a gallon

Movies $5.00 Today $10

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Don't go broke for the prom

It is the junior prom tonight in my town. I have a few older kids that live on my street so I will go out and check out the dresses!

If your son or daughter (or maybe even you) is going to prom this year here are some
Frugal prom tips that I shared last year.

Stay safe and of course do not drink and drive

Disney Trip paid in cash

We will be going to Disney over the summer! If you have been following my progress, we have been planning this for over 1.5 years-it is a once in a lifetime trip. I charged the trip, but immediately paid the credit card off!

Our trip will be costing us approximately $6000. It is not exactly a budget frugal mind vacation, but is a vacation that will a once in a life time trip.

1. We will be staying at the value resort-actually the Disney All-Star Music Suites. Since we are a family of 5, it was either two value rooms or this. So our room price isn't all that cheap.

2. We will be using the Disney Dining plan. The Disney Dining Plan puts guests on a two-meal-and-a-snack per day diet for each night of their stay. For adults it is 37.99 a day and for the under 10 crowd 9.99 a day. It is actually great not to have to worry about paying for each meal individually.

3. We will be using Disney Transportation called the Magical Express from the airport to the resort. Since we will not be renting a car, we will use the Disney buses.

4. Included in our $6,000 budgeted for this trip we have $1000 spending money. We probably won't spend all of that but I would rather budget more than not.

5. I saved about $250 a month for our trip plus used our tax refund for this year to help pay for this all. This will not be a trip that we will be paying for years.

So a frugal minded family can do Disney with some proper planning. My favorite resources for Disney include:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Simple gift baskets for Mother's Day

Mother's Day baskets are a great way to show off your creative talents while also showing your mom, mother-in-law, grandma, or another special mom how much you care.

I've put together some theme ideas to get you started. I've included several easy recipes, and also some links to give you some more ideas and to help you put it all together.

Most of these ideas you can make yourself from the following recipes. I've never made biscotti before, but there's a great hazelnut biscotti recipe included that I think I'm going to try when I make my Mother's Day baskets this year. Have fun! Your mom will be so impressed.


Garden Basket:

Garden seeds, gardening tools, gardening gloves, peat pots, kneeling pad, iced tea mix.

Coffee Basket:

Chocolate-covered coffee spoons, coffee syrups, chocolate-dipped pretzels, biscotti, flavored coffees, instant cappuccinos.

Tea Basket:

Herbal and fruit teas, flavored honeys, tea bread, tea infuser, tea cups, inspirational book.

Bath Basket:

Bath salts, massage oil, natural soaps, bath powder, bath sponge, hand towel, massage roller, fragrant candle.


Chocolate Covered Pretzels:

Pretzel rings
Wax paper
1 (16-oz.) bag semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, stopping every 15 seconds to stir the chocolate. Dip each pretzel, one at a time, into the melted chocolate. Lay the pretzels on wax paper and let cool.

Chocolate Covered Spoons:

20-24 plastic spoons
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Wax paper

Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, stopping every 15 seconds to stir the chocolate. Dip spoons into chocolate. Place spoons on wax paper and refrigerate until chocolate hardens. Wrap each spoon separately and store in a cool dry place.


Tea Bread Recipes:

20+ Biscotti Recipes:

Flavored Coffee Mixes:

Make Massage Oil, Bath Salts:

Putting the Basket Together:

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at Creative Homemaking!

Cheesy Beef and Broccoli

Cheesy Beef and Broccoli is a healthy recipe but satisfying.

4 cloves garlic (or throw minced garlic)
1/2 cup raw white onion
1lb ground beef
2 cups broccoli
2tbsp flour
2tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups low fat milk
4 oz lite cheese

Saute until onion begins to soften 1-2 minutes

Add ground beef and stir till beginning to brown. Add broccoli and cook until broccoli is tender. While beef and broccoli are cooking whisk together white flour, Worchesthire sauce and skim milk
( I found 2 cups made it a bit too runny so I used 1 1/2 cups instead)
When broccoli is tender add the milk mixture and bring to a simmer allowing to thicken for a minute. Stir in cheese and blend well. Allow to stand for 3-4 minutes.

I serve this with 1/3 cup of brown rice or 1/3 cup pasta and add
1 starch exchage.

Cheesy Brocolli
Yummy dinner
Family loves it and it is great frozen and reheated. I also top mine with No salt added seasoning for extra flavor or hot sauce.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Sharon

Sharon is a single women in her mid 20s who is trying to make sense of her financial life.

What is your financial life?
I am currently renting an apartment with 2 roommates. I have been working for 3 years and have a 401k with $5000 and trying to pay off my student loans. I also have $4000 of credit card debt that I am trying to get serious about. I am not charging anything new on the credit cards.

What is your budget buster?
Weekends It is very easy to spend a lot of money each weekend. I am learning to say no though and suggest more quiet evening with friends. I am also taking my lunch to work each day as well.

What is your favorite money saving tip?
Don't use credit cards-they have gotten me in a lot of trouble.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?
The smart answer would be to put it towards my credit card debt, but the most realistic answer would be to blow it on a vacation.
What is your best resource for frugal living?
I started to read Debt-Proof Living: by Mary Hunt. I also subscribe to a few yahoo and msn frugal groups.

Let us know if you would like to be profiled in the Frugal Five

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Frugal meal planning May 6th

Sun Leftovers from son's 1st communion party

Mon Lasgnana

Tues Italian crusted tilapia (fish)

Wed Naked chicken burritos

Thurs English muffin pizzas

Fri Leftover naked chicken burritos

Sat Probably sandwiches-going to see Spiderman at the drive-in

Can I afford it?

The reason a lot of people are in credit card debt is because they don't ask the question- Can I afford it? They just pull out their credit card and say "Charge It"

Suze Orman does a great segment on her CNBC show called Can I afford it.

Some of the things that I have seen asked

Coach Bag for $500

I don't get the whole concept these high class pocket books. I don't think I have spent more than $50 a good bag and most of the time my mom gives me one for my birthday every other year. LOL

The 24 year old girl said she was debt-free but had a $5000 bill in collections and had over $400 on her credit card. She was going to use her work bonus on paying for the Coach bag. Suze denied her "Can I afford it?" No, no put that money towards your credit card debt-you have no business spending $500 on a pocketbook.

18,000 Harley

I thought for sure Suze was going to approve this one. The mid 40 guy makes good money-has $26,000 in personal savings/emergency fund and he was going to pay cash for the Harley. She said his 8,000 won't be 6-8 months of an emergency fund. She denied it! When you think about it good advice-bulk up more of the personal savings and he would do it once he gets the 6-8 months of an emergency fund.

She does approve every once in a while-she approved a 30 years for a $75k vacation home.

I have been enjoying Suze's money sass lately and really do need to pick up her newest book.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Authors and credit cards

This article interviews 5 different authors (Stephen King, Sue Grafton, Augusten Burroughs, Nicholas Sparks, Danny Scheter and talks with them about their experiences with credit cards.

A few stories were interesting- nothing outstanding. But I thought it was a good concept to get real life celebrities talk about their own experiences with debt and credit management.

Spiderman, pringles and much more

In case your are living under a rock, Spiderman 3 openned yesterday at the movies. I have 3 boys who are huge Spiderman fans. However my 5 year old is a really big big fan- obsessed with Spiderman. When he gets older he is going to change his name to Peter Parker. (If C only knew that his name could have been Parker but I changed my mind last minute)

We have just about every Spiderman action figure from 1 and 2. X-box games, comic books, puzzles etc etc. I had to run into Wal-mart yesterday for a present for a birthday party that my oldest is going to.

C had thought we had run into Spiderman heaven-more Spidey toys, Spidey food etc etc. He really wants Spiderman 3 game on x-box but he says he will have to go to one of his uncles house to play new xbox game since it is only for xbox 360.

He wants the new webslinger water gun, he wants the new Spiderman villians. Luckily, he understand no means no.

However when we see Pringles with Spiderman on it- he goes crazy. Potato chips with Spiderman. I get him those..

Guess what he slept with last night.. the Spiderman Pringles Container. LOL

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hanging solar lamps for outside

Elisha wanted to share a frugal idea on the Solar Lamps! I haven't seen these at my local hardware store, but hopefully they are available in your area!

There was a recent tip in the Dollar Stretcher newsletter about using a
solar yard lamp during a thunderstorm. I can take that one step further.

When I lived with two roommates, we had little extra spending money. We
were always looking for ways to save a buck or two. Electricity was one
area where we thought we had done enough, but we were wrong!

During a trip to a local hardware store to pick up some nails, we
noticed that there were TWO types of solar yard lamps available- fixed
(on a spike or stake), or hanging (from a hook, sometimes connected to a
stake). We saw that it was only $20 for a three-pack of solar lamps
(I've since seen four packs for the same price, on sale). We bought two
packs of them and six of those pretty plant hangers that people
sometimes use for their hanging plants (the ones that look like pretty
shelf brackets, but with hooks).

When we got home, we mounted the plant hangers over or next to four
windows in our house & put the solar lamps on them. Then, we hung the
other two on the house, next to the front and back doors. In the late
afternoon or early evening, we would open up the blinds to allow the
sunlight to "charge" the indoor lights. The outdoor lights took care of
themselves. At night, we had free household lighting that would last
until sunrise if we'd charged them long enough! We kept a piece of nice
material in rooms that we needed to sleep in, in order to cover the
lights when it was time to go to sleep.

The day after we started doing this, we had a neighbor call us to let us
know that we'd left both our porch lights on overnight. We asked if it
had disturbed her.

"No," she said, "I was just worried about your electric bill. Actually,
I felt safer when I came home from work and they were on, because I
could see to put my key into the lock!"
"Well," said my roommate, "You'll feel safer EVERY night then, because
we're leaving them on from now on- in fact, we CAN'T turn them off!
They're SOLAR lamps & the power is FREE!"

I hope that this tip is useful to all of you & to your readers.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What stay at home moms earn has come out with it's annual assesement. This year, they say the work of a stay-at-home mom would command an annual salary of more than $138,000 dollars. That's up about three percent from
last year at $135,000.

For working mothers outside the home, the amount is put at more than $85,000 dollars this year. That is on top of any money earned in the workplace.

Of course, it is priceless to be able to stay at home with your children. Make Staying Home With Your Kids a Reality: A Six Month Plan
is a good step by step plan.

What stay at home moms earn has come out with it's annual assesement. This year, they say the work of a stay-at-home mom would command an annual salary of more than $138,000 dollars. That's up about three percent from
last year at $135,000.

For working mothers outside the home, the amount is put at more than $85,000 dollars this year. That is on top of any money earned in the workplace.

Of course, it is priceless to be able to stay at home with your children. Make Staying Home With Your Kids a Reality: A Six Month Plan
is a good step by step plan.

Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells

I am making a recipe book for my sister for her bridal shower. My cousin who is a vegistarian sent me this recipe and I am drooling over it. I can't wait to make it and try it out!

Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers
1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes with added puree (such as Progresso)
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded provolone cheese, divided
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped or I use 1 can of artichoke hearts
1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 cooked jumbo shell pasta (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat; cook 12 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup provolone and the next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl. Spoon or pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pasta shell; place stuffed shells in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon tomato mixture over shells; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup provolone. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese melts.
Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 4 stuffed shells)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ideas on how to save money on gas

I filled up my gas tank yesterday $55! I think $50 was my high around this time last year. I fill up once every 10 days or so. Today, May 1st offically starts the Summer driving season so I have been hearing all sort of things on the radio-one good hurricane in the gulf this year will have gas prices at $4.00 per gallon.

Remember before Katrina we thought $2.50 was a very expensive; now it is a bargain.

I have shared these before but they are still worthwhile
gas saving tips

Ideas on how to save money on gas

I filled up my gas tank yesterday $55! I think $50 was my high around this time last year. I fill up once every 10 days or so. Today, May 1st officially starts the Summer driving season so I have been hearing all sort of things on the radio-one good hurricane in the gulf this year will have gas prices at $4.00 per gallon.

Remember before Katrina we thought $2.50 was a very expensive; now it is a bargain.

I have shared these before but they are still worthwhile
gas saving tips