23 07 2011

femmefrugality has moved!

Same site, new home. 🙂 Click the link above to see new posts!  Sorry for any confusion!

My Harry Potter Savings

22 07 2011

I have a guilty pleasure. And its kind of weird. I like to get peanut butter m&ms and rice crispy treats out of the vending machine at school. And then decorate my rice crispy treats with peanut butter m&ms. I can’t believe I’m telling the world this. But I have a few m&m wrappers that have contest codes on them. I never win contests, but I decided to enter anyways. The contest was for free movie tickets or movie theater discounts. I won twice! It was $3 off a ticket. Which isn’t much. But that’s how much extra it is to see a movie in 3D. So when we went to see Harry Potter, we paid regular price instead of the 3D price. I’ve decided I’m entering contests more often. Why not?

On top of that we went with these awesome people that found a great deal for movies in the South Hills. At Carmike 10, if you go see any movie between 4:00 and 5:30 PM, it’s only $5. (Plus $3 for 3D.)

There’s also a dollar theater in West Mifflin. They run movies after the regular theaters are done with them. But I don’t go there anymore. One of their employees called me a witch with a capital b one time. I asked her why they didn’t have regular salt, and then she tried to charge me for a huge container of that weird season salt. So I voiced my opinion. But I didn’t cuss. I told her manager, a dirty teenager with his fly down, but he told me he didn’t care. So I don’t go there anymore.

I won’t write anything about the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it yet…naturally if you read the books there are always going to be disappointments, but it was a fun time!

How to completely destroy a piece of furniture and then make it all better

18 07 2011

Furniture is expensive.  Baby furniture is expensive.  So instead of buying a dresser that would be used for a few years with tiny drawers and a huge price tag, I found this solid wood dresser that will last hopefully until college off of craigslist.  Its original stain was beautiful, but I wanted all of our furniture to be white, so I undertook the endeavor of repainting it.

Opps! I started to sand the top before I got a "before" picture, but if you look at the bottom you can get the idea.

 Things you will need:

  • fine grit sandpaper
  •  paintbrushes
  •  rags (1 damp, 1 dry)
  • primer
  • paint
I spent $35 on the dresser, borrowed some paintbrushes from a neighbor, spent $15 on a quart of primer and sandpaper, and got a free quart of paint from Glidden’s yearly paint giveaway which occurs roughly around May every year.  It took about a month to get here, but it was free!  (For this piece of furniture, a quart of each primer and paint was MORE than enough.)
First, you want to sand down the furniture.  You’re not trying to kill it, although you might start freaking out after you’ve started demoing a perfectly fine piece of furniture for the sake of aesthetics.  I did.  Anyways, you want to score the existing stain/paint without tearing up the wood itself, moving in a circular motion.  Use the dry rag to dust off to check on your progress.  When you are done, use the damp rag to remove any remaining dust.  Another way to remove the dust is to use your vacuum hose with the brush attachment.


Here you can see the sand job a little better.

After you’ve sanded, you want to apply a light coat of primer.  The idea here is not to make your furniture white, but just to apply a light base so the paint will go on smoothly.  I also only primed and painted the areas that would be visible..I didn’t want layer after layer of change to affect how the drawers slid.


After priming, you’re finally ready to paint!  I used an eggshell paint not only because it was free, but because I’ve heard when its done it looks more “finished.”   For both painting and priming, make sure your brush strokes are going with the grain of the wood.  This dresser had some detailing, so I actually busted out an art kit and used little tiny brushes for the little tiny crevices.  If you find that you need more than one coat, wait at least four hours between applying new layers.  Let the furniture dry for at least overnight before you attempt to use it.

Yay! Finished!

So instead of buying a new piece of furniture that would last a couple of years for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, I got a great dresser that should last for many years for a grand total of $50 and a couple hours of work.
Note:  Don’t sand, paint, or prime while pregnant.

Frugal Cooking 101

15 07 2011

My not-so-extreme couponing has led to way cheap cooking.  Usually I like to make stuff from scratch, which is a good way to save money if you have your staples at home.  But this meal was made almost all out of the box, which is convenient and apparently can be cheap, as well.  Here was my spending on it:

Hamburger Helper Philly Cheesesteak–On Sale 3/$4 plus $.75 coupon when you buy three (coupon doubled to $1.50 off)=
$.83 for the one box
Ground Beef–$5.50/2lbs plus $2.00 off coupon because I bought Hamburger Helper=
$1.75 for the 1lb of meat (saved other pound for another meal)
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls–On Sale 2/$3 plus $.40 coupon when you buy 2 (coupon doubled to $.80 off)=
$1.10 for one package of 8 rolls
Veggies–On Sale 10/$10=
$.50 for the half bag I used

So I spent a grand total of $4. 18 on this meal.  The only addition I made was adding paprika and a little bit of butter to the veggies.  This was a ridiculous amount of food for two people.  It could feed at least 3, and then 4 if you made more veggies.  I don’t know if this was extreme cheap, but it was $2.09 for each of us, which is cheaper than what you’d pay for a “meal” on the dollar menu.  Not to mention it was way healthier.

How to eat healthy, shop cheap, support your community and the environment.

12 07 2011

First of all, I want to mention this great blog I found…MomVesting.  It’s all about investing in different areas in your life…self, family, and, yes, finances.  These women know their stuff, too!  It’s good to find some reading material in this area that’s actually…well, readable.  Finding information on managing your finances is one thing…understanding what you’re reading is another.

Today’s investment on femmefrugality:  farmers markets.  I’m so excited about them.  Spring and summertime you can find local stands in your communities that sell all kinds of great food at cheaper than grocery store prices.  When you shop at these stands, you’re buying direct from the farmer.  By buying direct you’re saving money, and you’re helping your community out, too.  Your local farmers actually make more money by selling direct to you at a retail price than selling to those middlemen, as they purchase from the farmers at wholesale prices.

You’re eliminating food transportation costs along with costs associated with packaging the product.  These costs aren’t just monetary ones.  There aren’t many ways to be green while saving money UP FRONT, but farmers markets are one of them.  The manufacturing of the plastic products is now eliminated, as is the waste of the plastic itself (you were probably going to throw the package in the trash when you were done, weren’t you?)  Then, of course, less transportation means less gas used which we all know is a great thing.  Organizations like the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture also help local farmers operate their farms in a way that is not intrusive to the environment.  A lot of the markets around here are associated with them.

So you’re saving money.  You’re supporting your neighbors and local economy.  You’re being green on purpose or as a fringe benefit.  You’re also going to be eating healthy.  A majority of what these markets provide is produce relative to your area.  In Pennsylvania, that means corn on the cob! (Along with myriads of other fruits and vegetables.)  At some stands you can also get locally grown flowers, locally made baked goods and prepared foods, and other products.

There are farmers markets across the country, the world, even, so don’t hesitate to locate one in your area.  If you are in Pittsburgh or anywhere else in South Western PA, you can visit The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or the Buy Local Buy Fresh website.  Happy and healthy shopping!

Baby and Kids Clothes and Gear-Resale

9 07 2011

I’m quickly realizing that baby and kid’s stuff is expensive.  Ridiculously expensive.  So I’m happy resale stores exist.  You can go in and buy gently used items (some are even brand new) for something ridiculous like 70% or more off their original sale value.  On top of this…if you’re looking for a way to find some quick cash, resale stores are a great way to go.

Now, there is resale, and then there is consignment.  With consignment you take your gently used items in, they will price them, and then when they sell you split the profit with the store.  Often if the item doesn’t sell within a certain time period it will automatically be donated.  Which is wonderful, but leaves you with nothing.  Many times you will have to be on top of your stuff, calling into the store to check and see if your items sold.  Otherwise they will not contact you and keep your profits, hoping you will forget about them.  (Not true for all stores, but it does happen.)  I prefer resale.  You take your items in.  They review them and offer you a bid.  You can either accept or reject.  If you accept, you’re walking out with that money in your pocket regardless of if the store can sell it or not.

A great resale store is Once Upon a Child.  They are very selective in what they will purchase from you (must be clean, relatively new, and meet current safety standards.)  The flip side of this is the reassurance you get when you go in to purchase from them.  They’re nationwide and have a store locator on their website.

If you’re in Pittsburgh, I’ve heard good things about a place called Pennystix in the South Hills.  Never been there myself, but they are also resale as opposed to consignment.

Have fun saving or selling!

How to find treasure in the woods with a dork machine

8 07 2011

An amazing sculpture garden I never would have known existed if there had not been a cache nearby.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what geocaching is. And its fantastic. The “dork machine” is a GPS (Global Positioning System) device that, after you type in some coordinates, will tell you which way to go to find your “treasure,” which is the cache (or container holding a log book for those who found it at the least, and full of goodies ranging from a McDonald’s toy to a Gameboy Color my brother once found at the most.)

This activity is FREE. It gets you outside. You can choose to do incredibly easy or incredibly difficult caches, making it great to do with kids or a group of intensely active adults. You might not have a GPS device. The one I have is incredibly basic. Pretty much I can type in the coordinates for the cache and set a marker for my car so I can find my way back. If I really wanted to, I could probably figure out the two other functions that it has. But it works. Have a GPS system in your car for directions or a cell phone where you can download apps? Odds are you can use them to geocache, as well. While most car GPS systems are not so great for off-road hiking, there are a few models that can do both like the Magellan Crossover and Garmin Quest (and Quest 2.) Or, if you have a cell phone, odds are it has a GPS chip in it already. All you need to do is download the Geocaching Live App. So while initial investment can be extravagant, it probably doesn’t have to be.

You go to the official geocaching website and create a FREE account with your email address to find caches in your area. By typing in your zip code, it will find a ton of caches (treasures) close to you. You find one that fits your desired difficulty and goals (there are historical caches, eco caches, themed caches, the list goes on…) and plug the coordinates on the website into your GPS device (if you’re using the app, it’s a different but nonetheless easy process.) A lot of caches will also have parking coordinates so you’re ready to go.

Showing our travel bug some classic Pittsburgh at Primanti's.

Geocaching is a very new and green sport. When you’re visiting the site, leaving nature better than you found it is more than encouraged. When you find the cache (which will be hidden under a rock, inside a stump, inside a crack in the cement, another endless list…) you will undoubtedly find a log to sign. You may also find treasures. When you take sometime out, you MUST put something back in! Trade a pack of cards for a bracelet, a pokemon toy for a batman figurine, whatever. Just try to keep your item equal to what you’re taking. I’ve used McDonald’s toys, cheap little things from tourist shops I’ve picked up while on vacation, and dollar store items to keep my caching cheap. Once you’ve started, you can also recycle items you’ve found but don’t necessarily need to keep.

If you find an item inside with a tag on it, it’s a trackable. These items should be logged into the geocaching website and be moved on to a new cache. My favorites are the travel bugs, which are little toys that you can take pictures with to upload onto the site. Then when they’ve passed on, you can continue to follow them and see where they’ve traveled after you’ve let them back out into the wild. Geocaches are hidden WORLDWIDE so I’ve seen some of the ones I’ve found make it to Australia, Guam, and all over Europe. It reminds me of Flat Stanley from Kindergarten.

Starfish at the Ovens

The best part of geocaching is the adventures. One time we rescued a starfish and saw a seal on a cache. Another time we found a teepee someone had made in the woods. It can also force you to be a tourist in your own town. I’ve been so many places in Pittsburgh that I never would have even known existed without geocaching. One time we were visiting family in Maine, and found a cache in a place called the Ovens, which is a series of amazing rock formations that is covered by the tide during certain times of the day. Our family was amazed that they had lived in the area for 10 years without knowing this place existed.

Example of what a cache container may look like.

I’d love to hear about your adventures and do my best to field your questions or help you get started!

For more information:
Geocaching Website
More Info on GPS Devices