Our local Wal-Mart was offering nice bath towels for $4, but the matching face towels were $3.50 and the wash clothes were $1.75. My solution was to buy three bath towels and cut one into four equal parts and further cut one quarter into two pieces. With a little simple sewing to hem the edges, this gave me two complete sets for $12. Veronica
The Ice Cream Parlor
Who doesn't love taking the family to the ice cream parlor in the summer? It can get expensive though. Store brand ice cream flavors have come a long way. I bought Moose Tracks store brand ice cream that was on sale for $1.39 after a $1 coupon and using my store rewards card. I also bought 12 cones for $2. We had our own ice cream parlor for several nights.
In our "camping days," I learned the fastest and easiest way to get a perfect grilling fire every time! Take a coffee can (large size) and cut off both ends. Set the can in the middle of the empty grill and fill it (the coffee can) with charcoal. Gently lift the can to about an inch or so off the grill bottom (to add an updraft). Add a small bit of fluid to the center and light it. You can add a few coals around the can depending on the size of the cooking area you need. When the coals inside the can are red hot, carefully lift the can off and the coals disperse and you have instant glowing coals!
Repurposing old, unwanted objects into objects with new uses is a great way to recycle. I made a discarded basket from a walker into a hanging planter. An old teapot made a pretty planter for trailing ivy. Take a step back and look at what you have to see if it can be given new life. You may save yourself from buying brand new, and you may find great uses for things headed for the trash.
Calculator + Cash = Savings
I've heard the advice before that you should take a calculator with you to the store to do your grocery shopping, but most people have a calculator on their phone under the "tools" menu. I have to take my phone to the store anyway, so the kids and the husband can send me a note with the four things they invariably forgot to tell me I needed before I left the house. Taking a calculator and a set amount of cash really makes quick and easy work of sticking to things you really need and cutting out unplanned expenses. You may be tempted to put all those extra things in the cart, but when you can easily see that those extras add $30 to your bill, you won't hesitate to put them back on the shelf.
My favorite budget-friendly tip is to shop my local Super Wal-Mart around 8:45pm. Every night at 9pm, the deli is closing and cleaning up, and they discount their whole rotisserie chickens from $4.98 to only $2! You might have to check with your local store to see if they have a similar policy. When I'm low on chicken, I go to my local Wal-Mart around 8:30pm. The deli is at the entrance to the food section. I put two or three rotisserie chickens in my basket, then continue on with my shopping. As I'm going down the aisles, I hear the PA speaker announcing that "the deli chickens are now on sale for $2." If you wait until you hear that announcement, they'll all be gone. If you put them in your basket as you enter the store, you've already "shopped" for the best, biggest chickens. Just remember to tell the checkout clerk that the chickens are on sale, and they may have to adjust your total. When I get home from the store, I de-bone the chicken, shred the meat, and freeze it flat in resealable bags. When I need two cups of chicken for a casserole or chicken salad, all I have to do is thaw the shredded chicken!
Hanging Artwork for Less
Recently I bought some art prints to decorate the walls of my recently-purchased home. Due to either size or shape, the prints would have cost a fortune to frame, but I didn't want to just stick them on the walls with tacks like a college dorm room. I bought black-on-black (meaning the foam is black and the outer paper covering is also black) foam board for less than $3 each. I also bought some fabric at the same store for $2 a yard. Then I cut the foam board to size, piecing it together with duct tape for the larger prints. I then covered the board with the fabric. I used duct tape to secure the fabric to the back of the board, folding the corners of the fabric in the same way I would wrap a present. When I was done, I centered the art print and applied white glue under the edges of the print with a cotton swab. Finally, I super glued pull tabs from soda cans on the back for hangers, leaving just a bit over the edge to catch the nail. I applied duct tape over the tabs for good measure. Once I hung them on the wall, my prints looked fantastic, and they were framed for just a few dollars! You can save even more by skipping the fabric if your print fits on one board and you like a black frame.
Finding a Free Pet Sitter
My family was going on a two-week vacation to visit family in Chicago and didn't want to pay to get a pet sitter for our dog. It would have been about $30/day plus tip. We emailed our friends and relatives to ask if anyone would like a free place to stay and a free car to use for a two-week vacation in Atlanta (where we live) in exchange for feeding and walking our dog daily. A friend in California took us up on the offer! We just got back and our friends were so appreciative. They left us all kinds of gifts. They even cleaned the house before they left! We saved money on a pet sitter and they saved money on a hotel, food (since they could use our kitchen), and car rental. Also, although we live in a safe neighborhood, it was nice knowing someone was staying at our house while we were away so it wasn't a target for thieves.