Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Favorite Store...ALDIs!

Yes you know that weird looking store with the orange and blue logo that has very limited store hours in comparison to most grocery stores? Why is that you ask? Killer deals!

I have to admit, the first time I entered an ALDIs, it was with my parents, and I thought we must be poor or something. There are no shelves for groceries, they are merely stacked upon pallets like a warehouse, only much much smaller. ALDIs does not have "luxury items" in their grocery store, this is basically the essentials in terms of food. Whatever you find here is what most human beings eat, and at a very good generic price. If you are into cooking, this could be your dream to save money. 79 cents for a loaf of bread? 99 cents for a box of generic nutri-grain bars? 39 cents for hot dogs? The deals keep coming, for many reasons. If you have ever seen the Duggar family on Discovery Health channel, or maybe TLC, they feed a family of 19 for less than $2,000 a month on food from here.

First, you will notice this is a smaller than average store...less to run, less to cool, less to heat, and less employees you will need. Second, they hold their shopping carts hostage. Thats right, if you want one, you'll need a quarter. The reason they do this however is to keep the store needing less employees. When people put their carts back, you do not need another employee to run out and get carts like at your local Wal-mart, whose sole job it is. Third, there are also no employees to bag your groceries, or bags to use to put your groceries in for that matter. ALDIs does not provide customers with bags, although you might be able to steal some boxes from pallets of food in the store. You can also purchase bags at the store, but hopefully you have your own by now! Fourth, since the store has such limited hours they do not need to have extra employees around to work the check-outs. In addition, cashiers at ALDIs make good money, I believe, in the $10 an hour range.

Perks with this store chain are consistent. The produce you will find here is typically incredibly fresh. While I would still recommend your local farmer's market first, this would be my second choice. Every so often there is some interesting deal in the "non-food section", some thing that you have either been looking for but haven't found the right price (enter ALDIs) or an item that looks like something you could use. Most also have a small Health and Beauty section so if there is a need for a random item you wont need to run across the street (or town) to get it.

If you are at a loss of what to cook from the items available at ALDIs, The Aldi Queen can help you find great recipes made entirely from foods from ALDIs.

So if you haven't given ALDIs a try, look for one. I grab everything in that store I even remotely want and can't leave spending more than $28. Me and my reusable grocery bags, finding deals!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Renovate and save!

Habitat for Humanity not only builds houses for needy families, but they also run Habitat Restore stores in many communities. Since all the materials to build Habitat homes are donated, a lot of times they will have excess stuff that they do not need for the homes they are building, and many corporations will donate to the store as well. Habitat Restore will sell these items to you for a VERY minimal cost. If you are big into DYI jobs, Habitat Restore can be a frugal person's dream, saving you hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the size of the job. In addition, by putting your money towards Habitat Restore you are putting money back into building more homes for the needy and the community.

To find a Habitat Restore near you, click here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Green" film of the month

My apologies for absent posts, things have been chaotic lately, the in-laws have been visiting :)

Anyways, today I would like to recommend a film for you, rent it on Netflix or Blockbuster or you can get it from Best Buy. I am a huge fan of documentaries and loved Netflix for the fact they had as many documentaries as I wanted to see. The sad part about documentaries is that they are hardly available at local video rental places and other types of video stores. So for this weekend, give "Who killed the Electric Car?" (2006) a try, as my "green" film of the month. This film documents the coming (and unfortunate going) of the EV1, a vehicle made by GM and was serviced by Saturn dealerships.

The film provides humor, but is also very educational regarding how recent cars like the "hydrogen fuel cell" car actually works. The director goes through each prospective new "greener" car, if its any good, and also who is to blame for the loss of the electric car (EV1). You'll also run into some interesting people throughout the show, like Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, and Ralph Nader, if you are into famous people. It is also narrated by Martin Sheen.

If you haven't been a big goer of documentaries before, the point is to educate you, but in the end to make up your own mind.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Getting a AAA Membership

If you own a car, or travel with someone frequently in their car, consider getting a AAA membership. Although they provide many forms of insurance, their membership program provides 24-hour roadside assistance at very reasonable prices. Basic membership dues start at $53 a year. Plus, you save by using your AAA membership EVERYWHERE. Hotels, restaurants, entertainment, you name it, you will likely get a discount of some kind (The AAA website provides a list of discounts for your area when a zip code is entered.)

I can advocate that AAA can be a real lifesaver when those inconvenient, and sometimes huge car emergencies come up. My Grandmother still has a membership and anytime I was having an issue with the car, like one time I got locked out of the car, she called AAA, they dispatched an associated AAA towing/auto service, and they came and unlocked my car, free of charge. All you have to do is have the AAA member present. Just this past winter I was in another car conundrum on the road (on the way to the airport, just our luck), and I wished we would have had a AAA membership (We have since moved out of my Grandma's area :( ) it would have saved a lot of worry and money, since towing a car in it self is usually around $100-$150 dollars. (Depending on the level of membership, AAA will agree to tow your car x-amount of miles.)

For the discounts and personal reassurance a AAA membership can provide, I believe it is worth the small cost. Check out what they can offer you at

Friday, July 25, 2008

My first trip to the Co-op

Since starting my green/organic venture, and since I moved here about a year ago, I took my first trip to my local Co-op today pick up some things for lunch. I was overwhelmed by its size, I have only been to one other co-op in my life and in comparison this is much bigger. For a city of 100,000, I guess I had to expect something bigger ;) Anyways, I was looking for some organic romaine hearts, so I picked up some of those for $3.99, I also bought some fair-trade organic dark chocolate ($3.49), and some Cinnamon Swirl bread ($3.49). There was also a great deli area that provided a salad bar, fresh pizza, and other items to eat on the spot in their restaurant area. One thing I do plan on picking up in the future is milk, which comes in the nostalgic glass bottles, and from my own area. The glass is reused, which means less waster for the environment, in addition to less gas wasted traveling the products from far away. While in the check out lane, I picked up an issue of a magazine dedicated to living green in my own local area. Awesome! In addition to getting a discount for using my reusable bags, you can also get a discount for becoming a share-holder of the store. As a part of being a co-owner, my local Co-op also provides coupon books, cooking classes, and you can even share in the Co-op's profit through patronage refunds. I think I might take up this tempting offer soon.

I would encourage you to check out your local Co-op or Natural Foods Store, even if you don't get anything. I remember being amazed the first time I went into a co-op and found out just how many things that are good for the Earth (like detergents and other cleaning products) or how many things that can be organic. There is even organic soda! So check it out sometime, you'll be surprised. Don't know where your local co-op is? Check out the Co-op directory service

In addition, I also mentioned I purchased fair-trade chocolate. What exactly is fair-trade?

"Fair trade is a system of exchange that seeks to create greater equity and partnership in international trading system by

  • Paying fair wages in local context;
  • Supporting participatory workplaces;
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability;
  • Supplying financial and technical support;
  • Offering public accountability.
  • Respecting cultural identity;
  • Building direct and long-term relationships; and,
  • Educating consumers."
(As quoted from Basically, when we import things from other countries for "cheaper", fair-trade items provide the producer in that country with a more fair amount if not equal to what is paid for it by the merchandiser in the United States. Fair-trade items are marked throughout the store.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spend some time at Ecobunga

Looking for great deals on organic and green products? provides great coupons, sales, rebates, and news regarding green and organic products you may find in your area or online. The founders of Ecobunga provide incentive for you to go green if you don't think it will save you money, and from what I have found from the beginning of this mission, is that being green means saving money most of the time anyways. Their goal is to provide you with all the resources to go green without being a major inconvenience for you or to make it a more expensive choice. But, as Kate Gosslin says (Jon & Kate Plus Eight on TLC), even if it is more expensive, I hope you see going organic as an investment in your health.

So anyways, if you are looking for some good deals on organic products, check out Ecobunga. If you check my blog often, there is an Ecobunga feed along the side bar if you want to see what recent deals have been posted. Go green! :)

Go Paperless

I know most cell phone companies offer this option of paperless billing, and perhaps some of your other local cable and utilities companies offer it as well. I just joined AT&T last month, and I see it as a good option to take. Most wireless bills are pages upon pages long due to your cell phone log and detailed list of everything on your plan and its charge. When you sign up for your account online, you have access to everything, and on AT&T I can even change my rate plan and features of my plan that I want to add or get rid of, so it saves that annoying trip to the store. To go paperless, typically all you have to do is sign up for an account online, and select the option to go paperless. Usually you will get an email when there is a new bill for the month.

In addition to going to paperless billing, also consider paying your bills online. I know it might be a scary thought about giving bank or credit card information, but usually even financial institutions have some sort of bill pay system, and they already have your information, so try that first if you are scared about giving away personal information. It will save you money on writing checks, and the stamps you use to mail those bills. Another way of saving on stamps is to bring your bill to a local bill pay center. Where I live, the majority of bills can be paid at your local grocery store service desk, which I am at the grocery store frequently anyways, as I am sure you are too. See what are options where you live, most companies will post online where you can pay their bills without using stamps.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Etsy that

So a couple of weeks ago I posted about making your own gifts, crocheting, jewelry-making, etc. as potential gifts for the holidays and other occasions. However, if you are an avid craft maker who has a lot of spare time, I suggest giving a look at to sell your items and make some cash! Etsy is a great website where you can create your own "shop" and sell your handmade items. Or, if you like handmade stuff, check it out yourself and get an original piece of art. There are thousands of beautiful items for sale that can make great gifts or treats for yourself. This site is a lot of fun to browse with the unbelievable amount of things you never knew could exist. If you are looking to buy or sell some lovely handmade items, give a try!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Subscribe to your favorite stores!

After investigating some of the websites I have posted for stores mentioned in this blog, I have come to find there is a great value (most of the time) in subscribing (via mail or email) to your favorite stores. As I discussed in the used store post, Half Price Books offers a wonderful coupon subscription service. They gave me a $5 off a $20 purchase coupon to start with, and it seems there will be more good deals coming my way via email or mail. I some how got on Kohl's list as well so I receive emails for their promotions. Be sure to watch out for the email overload if you subscribe to too many stores, I know some people who have an email account just for that purpose. Other big stores, like Best Buy and Borders, run great rewards programs through their stores for can only be benefited from this service! All you have to do is ask to sign up at the check out. After my husband and I bought our new TV we received $15 in gift cards from Best Buy. In addition, sometimes I use the coupons from subscribing to a local craft store to treat myself, so try to look for stores that you might stay away from because its not a "need". If there is a great local store in your town that you love, see if they have a website for promotions and such. There is nothing like giving to your local economy.

However, it is important to note the difference in how these coupons are used. I do not go into Half Price Books to buy a $5 book I need and then look for $15 more of books so I can use to coupon "to get a deal". This is how people sometimes end up hoarding things, because it was a "great deal". Its important to maintain the big picture when using coupons and rewards programs...make sure its something you would have bought without it.

On a separate note, I know I should not personally subscribe to clothing store ads or coupons simply due to the fact I still spend money on clothes like there is no tomorrow. Remember, if it isn't a "need"... (thats about how far I get when I am looking at that swim suit and think how cute it would look on me, and I never hear it again). Basically, as a shopper, know your weaknesses, know thyself! :) I bring my husband along sometimes because I know he will rush me through the store so I don't buy things I don't need.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

USA Weekend Insert

Did you get your Sunday paper today? Check out the USA Weekend Insert that has a huge article on "how to save on nearly anything". If you save paper (or money) by reading articles and news on the internet, its also available online.

Just a couple of highlights...

To elaborate further on Saturday's entry on used stores and consignment shops, USA Weekend has some helpful links to find places in your area: You can find local thrift stores here, or consignment shops at this website. The article also mentions outlet stores, which I forgot to, and there is a website you can look up those as well. I did not find the consignment shop website all of that useful since there were none listed in my area, but the thrift store website was much more helpful. Happy clothes shopping!

When dining out, try to budget out ahead of time what you would like so you do not overspend. You can view menus to thousands of restaurants online at or At, you can even make reservations and earn points.

Looking to compare grocery store prices for those competitor coupons? Try to compare prices at your local stores without driving all around town. After trying it out, this site is really helpful with finding coupons and ads for your own local area. You don't even need to buy the paper to get ads from Smart Source or Red Plum anymore! You can print the coupons on their website (Mac Users need to be using Safari to do so, FYI). Beyond that, I wasn't even aware of how many places technically sell groceries (Family Dollar, for instance) in my town!

The article also highlights how to save money on gas, haircuts, travel, entertainment, garden/lawn care, and furniture. Check it out and see how you can start saving more!

Planet Green - Watch it!

If you like television, might I suggest giving Planet Green a look, if you have it. Recently I have been turning it on when I can find nothing else, and I still have yet to find I show on the network I do not like. We also have most of the shows available On Demand since the channel is so new. One of my favorites, Renovation Nation, is a great show that looks at what people do to either make their home more green, or to build a home entirely green. I used to be in interior design in college, so I find green design particularly interesting. I never knew you could collect rain water off of your roof to run the toilets in your house! Some day...
Anyways, there is also another great show, Emeril Green, which is basically Emeril, but on this show he finds someone with a tough cooking situation, like having a vegetarian daughter and another meat loving daughter, and takes them through the local natural foods market or co-op, and shows them how to buy and cook the food. I'm learning a lot so far (plus I am not really much of a cook yet anyways), and I am definitely going to try the sweet potato french fries! All the recipes are available on the Planet Green website.
There are a ton of other great shows that can teach you a lot about how to be more green, or make you feel a little more at home if you are trying it yourself. Its nice to see so many people concerned about the environment and keeping our Earth a beautiful place!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Used Stores Galore!

In my area, there are tons of ways to find gently used books, music, DVDs, and clothing at great prices. Besides recommending finding what you need online and scavenging rummage sales, here are some of the stores and websites that offer you more quality for less.

Plato's Closet is a used clothing store for young women. They usually keep high quality popular brand names in store, like American Eagle, Gap, Old Navy, Aeropostale, etc., and are also willing to pay you top dollar for the clothes you don't wear anymore. Remember, a good rule of thumb is if you haven't worn something in 2 years, you likely won't wear it again. So you can get some cash or use the cash you get to get some new clothes.

There are many other types of consignment shops, especially for children and maternity clothes that can offer you a lot for less. In addition, if you live near a large metropolitan area, check out which offers free baby and maternity items for free! There are consignment shops for regular clothes too! Give a look around your area to see what is available.

Half Price Books and Hastings are two stores that offer great prices on books and other media. You can also sell your used items to these stores. If you are looking for even cheaper books on a budget, I highly recommend your public library! Its not just a place to go when you are a kid!

In addition to these, there is also your basic Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. Every town and city is different, like the Goodwill here I know basically looks like my Grandmother's basement, which is unfortunate, so we go to other stores and options in our area. So check out what is in your area, and take advantage of what your local used, consignment, and thrift stores have to offer.

Gina, a fellow reader, reminded me about freecycle, which I sometimes forget about since I think everybody knows about it, which isn't at all true! Anyways, if you are looking for free stuff in your community that someone is also looking to get rid of, check out Thanks Gina!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Creating a Holiday Account

Today I did something that I would guess most people already do, but to me this is a more foreign concept, so I will mention it here. After going through a yearly budget yesterday, and looking at the "gifts" category, it hit me that Christmas season will be here soon and the money we have been so preciously saving will dry up from the Savings account like water in a hot desert, and I will be stuck feeling like an idiot (I do the bills) because we won't have any money left, just like in previous years. So, today I created a Christmas account at my credit union. Christmas accounts are great for several reasons:

1. Saving over the course of the year is small. Imagine only missing $5 from every paycheck over the course of the year. It adds up fast and you wont even notice it.

2. You can't touch the money until a certain point of the year, so you don't have to worry about caving. Most financial institutions I believe is around the beginning of October.

3. This puts a limit on your spending (or at least in some ways it would). If you draw from your savings to buy Christmas gifts it is easy to spend away when it seems like what you have is a huge amount. When in reality, most of that huge amount needs to go to keeping you afloat every month. This way, the amount you see is what you get, period.

I am finding that even the idea that this account has been created is giving me a piece of mind, not having to worry about how to afford Christmas when you are trying to create a decent amount in your savings account. So if you haven't thought about saving for Christmas, think about what it has been like for you in previous years. If you always end up close to breaking even or a little under, think about trying a Christmas or Holiday account at your local financial institution.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Make a Wishlist

Here is my latest tip from "The Everything Budgeting Book", and so far I have found it very useful. The author advises to make a wish list of everything you want, from things that are high on the need list to even expensive, impossible "want" things like a Honda Element (However, I just put reasonably affordable "want things" on my list). Then, write down the price, and the urgency of getting this item. Periodically update the list. The idea is that when you make a wish list, it feels like you actually have the items, since they are all stored in a place. As Americans we have this idea that we like to "own" things...that feeling we get when the bag is handed to us after a purchase, even though we can just as easily take that item and throw it in the closet for a year and not even think about it. I have to say, this wish list does work for me. Also, by making a wish list, I realized that there just aren't many things that I actually want to buy (Seriously, I have like 4 things). I like buying clothes, but I do that on the spot, which explains why I can spend so much money on them (I don't make a list of clothes I want). When you have a list of things you wish to buy, you can track how much they cost, and you even could make them like a reward item after reaching a saving goal. That way, when you do buy your item, it feels that much sweeter and worth the purchase...its something you have really thought about. Or, I am actually saving much of this list as Christmas ideas for my family, since I have a hard enough time thinking of items 3 months before Christmas. So, if you are struggling with buying your "wants" rather than your "needs", give the wish list a try, the feelings are very similar to actually having them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's your number?

In late 2007, stores began to pull Nalgene bottles that produced a chemical called bisphenol A (BP-A), which can cause behavioral, neural, and hormonal changes in fetuses, infants, and children. I know I have also heard this chemical may cause breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other undesirable conditions and cancers. Studies have shown that old-school nalgene bottles, and many other popularized forms of them labeled 7 on the bottom, secret BPA, which mimicks estrogen. Either way, for all of you wishing to be green and using the same bottle of water everyday to take with you to work or school, here is a chart to explain what is safe and what you should avoid.

(Basically, avoid bottles or containers numbered 3, 6, and 7). Click on the image to see it in its entirety. Notice that in addition to being unsafe, number 7 bottles also are not recyclable or healthy for our environment. Again, most Nalgene bottles or those similar to them are a 7.

Nalgene also now produces a line of BP-A free bottles, and there are many other options out there for those wishing to keep using their water bottle. After finding out about this, I went home and got rid of all of my Nalgene bottles (all were 7s), and I have bought a cheap $4 bottle (32 oz.) from Target made by Rubbermaid that fits the bill perfectly (number 5). So on your way to saving the planet by reducing the amount of bottled water you use, make sure your health is safe too.

Note: My friend over at Green and Cheap blog did a follow up post on this with some more great research, so if you are interested, check out her post

Monday, July 14, 2008

Purchasing Canvas Bags

Although this idea is not new, it has been becoming increasingly more popular with the advent of 99 cent reusable bags. The idea is simply to buy a few of these bags, and bring them along with you when you go grocery shopping. By doing this you save the use of plastic bags at the store, and further waste down the line into landfills, etc. I thought it might be an inconvenience to do this, since I usually have a lot of trouble remembering things, and often will decide to go shopping on the spot. However, after I put the groceries away, I simply put the bags by my purse so I remember to take them out to the car. Then, I just keep them in the backseat of my car so they are there whenever I decide to get food, or anything else. If you go into a place that is likely not to use reusable bags, I typically impose. At CVS this past week, I gave them a reusable bag and asked them to put my items in there. Although I got a weird look, I'd like to think I am admired for my cause ;) In addition, many grocery stores will reward you for using reusable bags. Most take 5 cents off of your total per reusable bag used, because not only are you saving the Earth, but you are saving them money. As a former grocery store employee, we are told to impose using plastic unless paper is requested because plastic bags cost 1 cent to make, while paper bags cost 5 cents.

Some bags are nicer than others, some are more expensive, and some are even more fashionable. The bags I bought from HyVee, a local grocery store, are much taller and even come with a rubber plate for the bottom so groceries stay level, than bags bought from Wal-Mart. They can be found at Co-ops, Wal-Mart, Target, most grocery stores, and online if you are looking for something special. If I can make a recommendation, I would say to definitely grab an insulated bag for cold things (bag with the silver lining on the left). They keep things cold up for 3 hours, which means that you don't need to rush home to put things in the fridge (should you worry about that kind of stuff). The bag has a zipper on the top so it closes completely, and only cost 50 cents to a dollar more than a regular reusable bag.

If you don't feel this is the route for you, some say to save the plastic bags you do use when you get home to either be recycled or be reused by you or your family in some way (Target often posts multiple ways to reuse your plastic bags on their bags themselves). However, many websites claim that plastic bags collected for recycling never get recycled due to the economic costs of such, so educate yourself about doing this. The big problem with plastic bags is that they end up in the oceans, in our environment, slowly releasing toxins into our water and being eaten by animals. Wal-Mart, Kohl's, and some grocery stores will have a bin to recycle plastic bags up by the front doors of the store. By using reusable bags, you are sending a message to other shoppers, believe it or not. Either way, help the Earth and all of its inhabitants by getting and using reusable bags, they are worth the small investment.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Traveling Hotel-free

Looking to travel the world but don't have the money to pay for hotels and lodging? If you're feeling brave and desperate, give the Couch Surfing Project a chance. I have a friend who traveled through Europe this summer for 3 weeks by sleeping on spare couches and beds of people he met through this website online. Simply log on, create a profile, and search for people living in your destination. I was even tempted to cancel my hotel for my own trip next month knowing it could save me $500. My friend told me it was a good experience, he and his girlfriend stayed with various people, and said there was the occasional weirdo (but not in a horror movie way), but it is definitely an experience that will give you memories of your trip (and my friend is obviously still alive). Profiles give extensive information about the potential person you will be staying with, reviews of other people who have stayed with them, and photos of what they even have for you to sleep on. So instead of staying at the Hilton on your next trip, give a local a chance to show you the town.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Save Money for Your Dog or Cat

PetCo has a nice program for dog and cat food that can help save you some money. Basically, when you buy 10 bags of food with your PetCo PALS card (free program) you get one free. This can be a good deal, but be sure to calculate the catches.
First, the deal is that 10 bags have to be purchased in a 12 month period. I know my large breed dog does not eat 10-40 lb. bags in a 12 month time frame. (Being a Lab comes with eating a lot of food, and buying 20 lb bags or less really doesn't make sense.) So if you buy a smaller amount for your dog or cat, or if you have multiple dogs or cats, you could have a good deal on your hands.
Second, if you buy a regular type of food that you can pick up at other stores, check to make sure that it is worth it. The food we buy is available at Target for $33, and at PetCo it runs for $38 (Although this week I caught it on sale at PetCo for $31), so over the course of time, make sure that you are getting a deal in the long run by going with the expensive pet store price.
Third, if you like organic dog or cat food, PetCo is known for many different organic/natural/holistic brands (the "All-Natural" aisle) that you would most likely not find anywhere else. The only issue I am having with the all-natural food is their lack of specific food. For example, my dog being a large breed should be on large breed food, mostly due to prevent joint pain later in life and other problems. From what I have seen, natural foods do not offer large breed formulas. But anyways, regular or organic, you can keep track of the food you have purchased as a part of the programs on or it can be found on the receipt when you use your PetCo PALS card (see photo). So if you have a PetCo nearby, look for a potential deal for your pet.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bring out that creative side

So for those of you who might know me personally, you know I like to make stuff. I have been crocheting for years and have begun to use my projects as Christmas and birthday presents. Its a great way to personalize a gift, plus its definately not a gift you would throw away. I know I still have all of the blankets ever made for me. They are quite a bit cheaper than buying a regular gift, especially if you are making something smaller than the blanket. There are plenty of books and magazines out there on crocheting and knitting, and it is fairly easy to learn. Craft stores like Michael's may also offer classes on the subject, and there are also plenty of how to videos on the web if you are a more visual person. After you learn a repetitive pattern, you can just sit in front of the TV while you go at it. Project ideas are endless with different colors, yarn, patterns, etc. In addition, there are also "green" yarns out there, unfortunately you will be paying top dollar for them. Lion Brand makes Nature's Choice organic yarn, and there are also yarns that are derived from corn, bamboo, and recycled yarn.

This is my current project in the picture above, an "ocean wave" blanket, and of course my dog always have to be the center of attention, so he is here too. Close to being done! In addition to crocheting, I am also beginning jewelry making, (see photo on the side). Again, there are many books out there that provide instruction, and I plan on taking a class at the local arts center in the fall if it is offered. So far, all I really make is earrings, and am slowly working on a necklace. They also can be quite fun to make, picking out the beads, colors, textures, etc. You can make a lot of earrings (or any type of jewelry, for that matter) for a very decent price. The hooks cost no more than $2, and thats for a large amount of them, the beads will vary in price, wire is also cheap, and all you need is the pliers. Be careful with the bead sales, I was at Hobby Lobby and the beads were 50% off so I bought a decent amount. Making can be fun, easy, and a lot quicker than crocheting/knitting something. Plus there are very advanced forms of jewelry making should you ever need a consistent challenge, I know I have a friend who even makes her own glass beads and runs a small business online with her jewelry. So in sum, check out the craft section of your local bookstore and see if anything sparks your fancy, and try making gifts rather than buying them. Have fun!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

The husband and I are headed out to baseball game today, and tomorrow as well (big fan, if you can't tell). Anyways, since we will already be hit with high gas prices for the ride there (we live about an hour away) and parking costs at about $8, I will be making some yummy snacks for the car ride for supper so we do not purchase concession stand food. I will likely hit up the grocery store tonight to pick up a few basic items, for sandwiches and chips. Although nothing beats ball park dogs, when you add it all up, 2 hot dogs plus 2 sodas comes up to around $20, depending on the park. If you only go to a game once in a while, its understandable to just use the money for your fun night out and get the good food. However, this will be our 4th or 5th game this season (I think) and since we are coming out tomorrow as well, things can get pricey with gas plus parking plus program/scorecard plus concession food. Its also important to note that, as far as I know, although you might want to check with your local ball park, food is not illegal to bring inside the park. Drinks, however, are. It is not like a movie theater, as I feel it may seem to most. Think of getting into a ball park is just like going through airport security with a carry on, basically no liquids and no very large bags or coolers. So be smart and pack some goodies ahead of time so that if you need to, you might only have to spend $3 on a bottle of water. (There should be water fountains at the stadium too I would hope.) Play ball!

note: In the comments listed under this entry someone was concerned that I was advocating for the use of bottled water, which I am not. Bottled water is highly wasteful. However, in comparison to other beverages, water is by far the healthiest. After conducting some further research on my local ballpark, I have found that you can bring water in a plastic cup or bottle into the park, but no other type of liquid container or liquid. Be sure to check the regulations of your local sporting arena, because I am sure it varies by location. Thanks again for the comment.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sell that Crap!

About a month ago, even though we have recently moved into a much bigger place, I noticed we still have too much stuff and are close to filling most of the space we just moved into. So, after going though my books, video games, and DVDs, I decided to start selling them on
Only after a few days, I was selling the majority of my DVDs and video games, meanwhile the books, since they were a little older and textbooks, none the less, were a little harder to sell. The books I have sold were novels from English classes in college, so its no wonder they sell. The sweet thing about selling on is you don't need to take pictures of your stuff, like you would on ebay, you can still use your ebay account, and your sale is automatically transfered into your listed bank account. There is a small commission for selling on, but it rarely affects my sales since the items are not high priced. So far, I have made around $80 selling items online, and have sold 9 items, my most recent being yesterday (see photo above). Its a great way to minimize and make some money in the process. I am not looking to make a lot of money here, but I am also not wanting to give most of this stuff away for free to Goodwill, although the main aim is to get it out of my house. If you are considering selling a lot of items, I would suggest buying envelopes in a larger quantity. I know I sell mine in bubble envelopes, and I usually get 4 to 6 packs from Target for a cheaper price than buying individually. In addition, if you do not have time to stop some where to put on postage, has an option with Paypal to print off postage right off of your computer. I am sure there are many other multiple ways of selling your stuff, but I prefer due to my laziness. Good luck!

Taking the Bus in the City

Well, before I got my car in February, I took the city bus pretty much everywhere for the past 5 and a half years. I don't think I need to tell you that taking public transit saves the Earth and saves you on gas, which is getting more and more pricey, so I will cut to the technology that is making your life easier. Fortunately, I lived in a small town, and the maps were pretty easy to read and to find an appropriate route. For those of you in bigger towns and cities, this might be a little more difficult. Looking at a route map can be incredibly complex and not very detailed, and you might just say screw it, I'll take a cab, or my own car. Luckily, Google is in the process, and currently has many cities and towns public transit routes available on Google Transit. All you have to do is give your starting location and your destination, just like on Google Maps, and boom, you have a route planned all out to get where you need to go, and a list with the times you are looking to leave, no questions asked. There are routes available for bus systems, subway systems, public rails, etc. Unfortunately, this service is only available to a limited amount of cities, but I am sure Google will have more cities up soon, they are quick in getting things like this up. I saw this on my local news since it has moved into our area, and would recommend it to those living in appropriate areas.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Grocery Shopping and Coca-Cola

So today I followed a tip I read when grocery shopping: make a list of what you have, and go through the store searching only for those items. Grocery stores are obviously designed to make you go through tons of products before finding what you want. Fun Fact: Industry experts say you will spend an extra $2 per minute in the store after buying everything you need. Its a very "masculine" way of shopping in my experience, which is basically... not browsing. Maybe it would save a lot of money to just send the husband out to the store, who knows? Although it was effective in reducing my amount of items, I still bought a mat for the dog (not on the list), which in my opinion, he needed.

In other news, I have also gotten a year subscription to Ready Made, a magazine which shows you how to make things for around the home and finding multiple uses for things you already have. I am a sucker for my creative side, I am always making crafts and things, so this magazine fits right in line with what keeps me happy and productive. But, hey, I hear you say, that's spending money! Ah ah, if you are a frequent buyer of Coke products, use your points to get cool stuff like magazine subscriptions, and other things that might suit your fancy. We frequently buy 24 packs of soda, worth 20 points each, and magazine subscriptions (they do have many different flavors) typically cost around the 110-125 point range. So after 6 or 7 packs of soda, you have it already. There, you got the green, and the money saving aspects in one swoop. (Just be sure you recycle the magazines.) Awesome!

In the beginning...

Welcome to my blog I have created to document my (attempt at) turning from a shopaholic to a frugal, green girl. I hope you will join me in my quest to budget money while helping the Earth to my fullest potential and feel free to follow along with any tips, ideas, or plans I may use on here.

Before I start, I will let you know a little bit about myself. I am a 24 year old graduate student at a large Midwestern university (FYI - money is already tight). I have a husband, and a large Labrador retriever. I am trying to earn my Ph.D., and will be in school for quite some time before making the big bucks. My husband and I are both horrible spenders and lack self-control when it comes to buying things, which is a big problem. What can I say? I love stuff! So anyway, I am sure you will learn more about me as I go, but lets jump in to the good stuff.