Friday, May 31, 2013

Free Kindle Downloads

You can download the free app to read these on any device, or Amazon has a selection of Kindles starting at $69

Download a  free copy of Budget Cooking: 30 Recipes for Under $5.

Download a free copy of The Art of Speed Cleaning & Organizing.

Please note: Amazon pricing, promotions, and availability are subject to change at any time without notice. Please confirm the price is $0.00 before completing your purchase

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

I love ice cream! My fondest childhood memories usually include ice cream. Root beer floats from the A&W after family night at the swimming pool, Sundaes from McDonald's as we drove around the lake. My first job was at Zesto an ice cream shoppe. Two of my sister's first job was at the local Dairy Queen. When mom sent dad to the store, he always came home with a gallon of ice cream too. 
I still don't think you get it. I actually vividly recall the birth of the Blizzard. It was an ice cream invention that blew my mind. Ice cream plus candy, seriously? Sliced bread can no longer be used as a benchmark. When my dad was hospitalized near the end of his life, the one comfort we brought in was a Snicker's Blizzard.
Even though they are my favorite food EVER, I have a hard time spending the money. As you know we live a pretty tight budget. For $15 we can buy them for our family. Or I can by buy the individual ingredients for $7 and have enough for our family and plenty of extra for later.
They are easy to make. 2 ingredients and 1 appliance.
Scoop enough ice cream in your stand mixer for the number of people you are serving. Chop the candy bar into large chunks and add to the bowl. It is a thick mix so use a heavy duty mixer and a flat beater.

Mix until combined. Do not add milk. Do not use a blender. They are suppose to be thick.

Scoop into a dish and serve immediately! The difference between a shake and a Blizzard is consistency. Shakes have milk added and can be sipped through a straw. The difference between a milk shake and a malt, is malt powder (essentially ground up malted milk balls.) it is a difference in flavor not consistency.  I like candy, but if you've bought a Blizzard recently, you can add any flavor just like a shake. So let your imagination run wild!

Disclosure: I do not own stock in an ice cream franchise, I am not a dairy farmer. I did work briefly at Kemps in customer service and in my brief tenure ate more Kempswiches than a decent person ought too. I also once was a part of an event held by the MN Dairy Association. They served the richest, creamiest, ice cream I have ever tasted.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Save on your Groceries WithOUT Coupons

The average American family spends $6,700 a year on grocery store food, housekeeping supplies, and personal-care items. Super shoppers who use coupons and surf supermarkets to get the best deals can save up to 50%, that takes time and effort though. What if I told you there was a way to save 20% of your grocery budget and still shop the same store you've always shopped, buy the exact same products and brands that you currently buy without clipping coupons?

Awesome, right? You will need to get over one fear, Yep I'm going to use the word stockpiling. I'm not talking Armageddon preparation or hoarding so stick with me for a minute. It is about strategic shopping. Some stores will mark items up in order to put them on sale. Avoid this trap, by keeping a price list, a simple notebook of prices on the items you buy regularly. This will help you to know when something is truly on sale.

The second part of this strategy will change your budget. Instead of shopping weekly for what you need, you only buy what is on sale. Loading your pantry and freezer with sale-priced foods. When you run out of something, instead of running to the store, you just grab a new jar from your own pantry. Soon you will have a discount convenience store in your own basement!

Most items go on sale on average every 12 weeks. Only buy enough for your family to last until the next sale. With that in mind, you are obviously limited by perishables. Don't let that stop you though. the savings in those other areas can still add up to a savings of $1,340 a year.

Here are a couple of tricks to maximize the savings.
*Look at the stores flyers. Items on the front and back pages are likely to have the deepest discounts. Often even loss leaders - which simply means the store sales the product so cheap they lose money, anticipating that you will buy other more expensive items while in the store.
*These same stockpiling savings applies to toilet paper, toothbrushes, batteries, shampoo, and other non-food items as well.
*I have a second freezer to store frozen foods including some fruits and vegetables that I purchased fresh.
*Use a calculator. Shop by unit price, know which is the best price the 12-pack or the 24-pack of soda. Saving a nickel a can add up to a $70 a year savings.
*Eat before you shop. You will be less likely to purchase impulse items that aren't even on sale.

How often have you run into a store to pick up a single item only to walk out with $50 worth of stuff? If you were able to grab that item from your pantry you just saved $50.

Try stockpiling for 3 months to see if it works for you. You can always revert to buying groceries at full price. Most people though will find that they save big money by knowing what's on sale and only buy what's on sale.

This article is about how you can save without coupons. But if you are willing to include couponing strategies with stockpiling, your savings will be significantly bigger.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Make $$ in your PJ's?

As a full-time mom I am always looking for ways to save or make money. One of the ways I afford small luxuries is surveys. Depending on the company you can earn Amazon Gift Cards, PayPal credit, Free Product Trials, or cold hard cash!

Here are some of my favorites:

Mindfield (low cashout threshold)
VocalPoint (Free Product)
HouseParty (Free Product)
Pinecone Research (Cash)
Dollar Surveys (PayPal)
Ibotta (Smart Phone App, Virtual Coupons get paid for purchasing household goods)
Jingit (Smart Phone App, get paid for watching advertising and shopping)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

Compost tumber he made in 2011
May 4th and we are still wearing winter coats. That isn't stopping me from gardening though! The seedlings are looking good, and are waiting for the ground to be ready. I decided to work outside though!

Those way to energetic folks over at Young House Love have issued their Spring Pinterest Challenge. You know I love a good challenge, and I am addicted to Pinterest so...

My Vet was able to procure some food grade barrels that we've been using around the house for a couple of years. Today I turned one into a rain barrel. It was actually pretty simple.

I did need help from my Kindergartner to hold the spigot in place while I crawled in the barrel to hand tighten the washers and nut in place.
If you are shorter than me, or you don't have a long plumbers wrench then you might want a helper for that part too.
To make the stand I just grabbed some left over pressure treated lumber.
My scrap lumber already had a lower shelf so I just cut them off.

I then cut the longer board to my desired length. Length was determined by the pre-cut length in my boards and the diameter of the barrel.

Attached boards to the top. You could probably use nails, I just suck at hammering them in, so I like to use screws.
A little bit of water to test. A fuller barrel will have better water pressure so that I can use a hose. In hind sight I would have made the stand a bit taller so that a 5 gallon bucket would fit under the spigot.
I still might paint it like I did the compost tumbler, but the weather will need to cooperate first!