Before You Travel
We can’t afford theme park vacations, but we do like to get away for a week or two each year. So we typically pick a national park or some area that we’d like to visit. To make the vacation more enjoyable we begin to prepare weeks before we leave.
We begin by searching the internet for interesting places to visit and things to do in the area. We always look for a Chamber of Commerce or tourism authority site for the city and county. You’d be surprised how much info they have and many of the places are free or low cost. We’ll also check out Groupon.com for that area. Often we can get discount tickets or restaurant discounts.
This year I think I’m going to buy one of those discounted massages and treat myself! By checking things out early we can extend the vacation. We also can make sure that everyone gets to do some of the stuff they want. Can’t wait to hit the road!
Help Selling Your House
Having spent 10 years selling real estate, I feel that the number one pre-sale improvement you can do is to rid your home of extra clutter. Remove all the extra furniture, too. All surfaces should be clean, dust-free, and as bare as possible. It doesn’t cost anything (except for a storage unit if you have too much) and having a garage sale can help with moving expenses. Be sure the garage, if you have one, is free from all the toys (both kids’ and hubby’s). Put the out-of-season stuff away, too. Have a friend go through and help you decide what should be put away.
Cheaper Cleaning Supplies
Wherever possible I like to learn from professionals. So when I saw a janitor’s cart at my son’s school, I couldn’t help but look at the cleaning products that they use. I didn’t see anything that I buy at the grocery store for my home. Instead all the cleaners were industrial strength and had labels on them from a local janitorial supply store.
I visited the store and found that they sell retail. And you don’t have to buy in case lots. You can buy just one of most things. The best thing is that the prices are much less than what I had been paying and the products are often stronger. Some even are made to be diluted!
So now, every couple of months I make a stop at the janitorial supply and stock up on cleaning supplies.
Turns out a simple overhang made of metal or other material shading an air conditioner at least 2 feet over it can reduce A/C costs up to 10%. Makes sense.
Leftover Hotdog Buns
I always have leftover hot dog buns, especially during BBQ season. Left over hot dog buns can make great French toast sticks for breakfast (use with your typical French toast recipe). They also make great garlic bread sticks. I butter and garlic them and sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 375 for 15 mins. My family loves it and can’t tell they are old hot dog buns!
If you like to splurge on a good meal during your vacation, make it lunch. Most restaurants have nearly the same selections for lunch as for dinner, for less $. Smaller portions may be attractive too, since you may not have facilities for a doggy bag.
Natural Mosquito Shield
Take vitamin B capsules for a week before you go where mosquitos are. They will buzz nearby but they get a whiff and take off without landing. My doctor told me this tip years ago. It never fails. I use multiple B vitamins.
Taking a Day Off
My local museum and art museum offer free admission one day a week. I am recently unemployed, and taking advantage of these offers. This gives me a nice day out between applying for jobs and interviewing at no cost.
Cheap and Easy
Cardboard boxes make good garden mulch and are also a cheap alternative to landscape cloth. I get free large packing boxes from local retailers after they get shipments. Once the boxes are cut open and laid flat, they work well to prevent weed growth and retain water in the garden. They also work under bark mulch in the lawn. Eventually, the boxes break down, which is good for the soil, and also avoids the problem of having shredded pieces of landscape cloth all over.
I hated the thought of dusting the ceiling fan over my bed since it always rained dust bunnies down on the quilt below. Then, as I was stripping the bed one day, I had an epiphany! I pulled off the quilt and blanket, but left the sheets. I climbed up on the bed, dusted the fan blades, and then gathered up the sheets with all the dust bunnies trapped inside, and took it off to the washer. No dust on the quilt! Same thing works in other rooms. I take a sheet that I’m going to wash anyway and put it under the fan, clean the blades and then toss it in the wash!
Who’s In Charge?
Here’s something I learned awhile back when you’re looking for a discount. Find out if the person you’re talking with has the authority to give you a discount. Often they’re not, but they won’t say anything if you don’t ask. Instead they’ll just say ‘no’ to your request. Often getting the right person makes all the difference. You’d be surprised how often they’re willing to knock something off the price.
Don’t Throw Away Spoiled Food
I keep a magnetic dry erase board on my freezer door. Anything in the fridge or freezer that has a ‘use by’ date is listed on the board along with the date that it should be used by. I’m finding that a lot more food is getting used up instead of thrown out now!
Natural Rinse Agent
Your dishwasher has a place to put rinse agents. I put plain vinegar in the dispenser. My dishes come out squeaky clean. Saves money on the expensive commercial rinse agents. No chemicals, all natural. Also helps keep the dishwasher free from detergent build up.
Noodles can make for a filling meal. But, by themselves, they’re pretty bland. So I’ve gotten in the habit of frying them with some onion, butter and maybe some mushrooms or tomato sauce. If I have some leftover veggies or meat, they get thrown in, too! If you want, you can add a little grated cheese when you’re done cooking. It’s a great way to use leftovers and create a new meal every time!
The Free Table
My dad passed away recently. He lived in a trailer park and had many close friends there. While cleaning out his place, I found many items that I didn’t want or need, but were too nice to throw away. I put a few of the more expensive things on freecycle and set up a “Free” table in front of his house for the rest. This was a big hit with his friends, and it was a good way for me to meet his neighbors and friends.
I’m a Grinder
Ground beef has gotten so expensive! One way to fight that is to watch for sales on roasts or London broil. When I see one, I’ll buy a couple of them and take them to the butcher’s counter and ask to have them ground up into hamburger. I get a better quality meat for less money. My next purchase is going to be a grinder so I can ground the meat myself at home.
My wife and I both like to work with our hands. It’s a relief after spending all day in an office. I’m more into repairing things. She likes to be creative. We watch craigslist for things that we can repair or repurpose. It’s a great hobby! We’ve even turned it into a small business. Once we’ve performed our magic, we put the same things back on craigslist for sale!
I’ve started doing some of my grocery shopping online. It saves me money. When I’m in the store, it’s hard to avoid impulse purchases. When I’m shopping online, I only buy what I have on my list. I don’t do all of my shopping this way, but I’m happy to save whenever I can.
This is not a new tip. But the other day I was going down the hall to the laundry (I am now an apartment dweller, always had my own home before). It occurred to me if I were still in my home, I’d have hand washed much of this and hung on the line to dry. I turned around and hand washed six blouses and three sets of underwear. Hung them on hangers and hung them on the shower rail! Saved one washer and dryer of $4. Not huge but I will now only machine wash towels, jeans and bedding.
I know it’s summer, but I want to share a winter travelling tip. I purchased a small device called Winter Watchman from Ace Hardware. Here’s what it does. It alerts you when your furnace is broken so that you don’t have broken pipes when you return from your trip. It is not hooked up to your phone.
You plug it into the wall and then plug a lamp into the Watchman. I put this on the second floor of my house and ask the young boy next door to look at each night. It is positioned so that he can look at this from his house. He does not have to enter my house.
If the furnace is not working, the light will go on. If that happens, I have instructed him to call me or one of my kids who will call a repairperson to fix the furnace.
It gives us peace of mind when travelling during the cold months.