Saturday, July 31, 2010

Update on Hobbies

Today on my way to work, I stopped in at Big Lots by my work.  I hadn't been to this location before.  I went in the scrapbooking section and found so many adorable packs of paper for only $5!  REALLY cute ones.  I was so excited.  $5 is a steal.  If any of you are scrapbookers, you really might want to start stopping in at Big Lots and see if you find anything at the store by you.  The store I stopped in at was the one off the 95 and Decatur (for anyone who is here).  You would be surprised at how great of deals they have.  It's hit or miss from my experience though, so I don't be disappointed if you don't find anything on a certain day. 

Post any comments to tell me if you have any great finds at the location by you.  :)


I am a single mother.  I don't have the opportunity to stay home with my kids, so I have to have someone watch them while Mommy goes to work.  Most people choose any daycare to put their kids in.  I, on the other hand, have found a way to significantly save on child care.  I pay my grandparents to tend my kids. 

First, I would much rather have my kids with someone that I know personally, and who better would you know than a relative?  :)  My grandma watched me when I was younger, and I think I turned out okay.  My grandparents do an awesome job watching my children and they charge me significantly less than a daycare would.  As my grandparents watching my kiddos is a job for them, I wouldn't even think of them doing it for free.  They feed them and spend the majority of the day with them. 

Let me rewind back to when I had my baby girl.  My grandma was originally watching her while I worked.  Then my daughter's grandma (my daughter's dad's mom) offered to watch her for free since she stayed home anyways.  I gladly accepted, as that saved so much.  As time progressed, my ex wasn't paying child support so my kids' grandma watching them was the child support in her eyes.  I had no problem with that arrangement, as trying to get money out of my ex just.... let's say DOESN'T WORK.  So it worked out great for us, and again the kids were with family, someone I knew.  And what better way to spend growing up than with family?  About a year and a half ago I think it was, their grandma's sister died and their grandma just couldn't handle tending the kids, as she was an emotional wreck.  I couldn't argue with that.  She just said she couldn't do it anymore, and they were going to be going to the funeral in California.  I had no idea what to do!  I talked to my friend's ex sister-in-law who I knew, and she said she would watch them for $150 a week.  First, let me say that going from free childcare to $150 a week was a shock.  Especially when you are a single mom.  I had them there for I believe it was 2 weeks, and then the sitter said she was done watching kids, as they were moving into her mom's house.  I couldn't argue with that.  I was at a loss for what to do with my babies yet again.

I was talking to my grandma and she said to just bring the kids on over and she would watch them.  Man, do I LOVE my grandma.  Bless her sweet heart.  She charges me much less than that now and, as I mentioned before, I think it is a much better atmosphere than just some day care.  My niece and nephew are also tended by my grandma, so my kids have playmates and have learned to share and manage to be around others.  My grandma also teaches the kids about cleaning and chores, as she taught me and my sister when we were at her house. 

Another big thing that I believe in is if I do have to pay someone to watch my children, I would much rather have that money kept in the family instead of to a stranger (or even a friend).  It just makes sense to me.  I am not trying to make myself to sound like the good person here.  Please don't take it that way.  My grandparents are the ones who are the Saints.  At their ages, they could easily say they have had enough and don't want to watch kids anymore.  Thankfully they willingly have the kids there.  I just feel better knowing that the money I pay helps them out in exchange. 

In conclusion, if you have to resort to having others watch your kiddos when having to work, ask around to people you know.  No, not begging.  Just seeing if anyone is interested.  And if not them, maybe they know someone who babysits?  Just remember that it doesn't hurt to open your mouth.  Well, sometimes...  *grin*

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cutting on housing costs

At the peak of the housing market, prices were way too high.  I'll never forget trying to buy a short sale at the peak.  The only thing I could find was a "fixer upper" which needed major work for $240,000.00.  I thought I needed to buy it because everyone kept telling me prices were just going to keep rising and rising.  So I put an offer in.  Could I have afforded it?  No.  Not really, but I had been talking into it by my friend who was working at a mortgage company and she convinced me that they would make it work.  My payments would have been $1500.00 a month she said.  I pretty much would have been paying for the house and that was about it.  Well after putting in my offer, it was rejected and the bank said they wanted more money, even though we offered what the asking price was.  I really prayed and thought about it, and I had a feeling that it wasn't time to buy.  I really wanted to buy a house so badly.  It was the American dream.  Buy a house and live happily ever after. 

Years down the road, you see the current housing market.  Forclosures galore are all over.  I was watching the news yesterday and was told Las Vegas is the only area that the housing market hasn't started going up.  In fact, I bought my house a year ago ( which at the peak was $271,000.00) and it is showing that my house value has already gone down?  I don't know.  Kind of weird. 

For the past year I rented a room out to my sister to help out.  It was working out great untill she slowly started to be late on rent, or only having this amount or that.  I was patient with her and willing to work with her on it.  I know everyone is having hard times.  I also lost my job in January, so the rent surely was helping...well, at least when she was paying it. 

If you have an extra room in your house, a great way to help you out would be to rent out a room.  If you aren't using the space anyways, what would it hurt?  Just make sure it is someone that you trust and know.  Many people put ads up on craigslist or what not and they do fine with it.  For me though, having young children in the home, I would never put them in that kind of situation.  I made sure it was someone that I knew.  I did not charge my sister a deposit or cleaning fees or anything.  Some people might suggest that. 

Has anyone else had a room renting experience?  How did it go?


Never in my life did I know all that Barbie has.  Complete house, townhome, furniture, jet, cars, RVs, SUVs, tons and tons of clothes, dolls, the Ken dolls, babies, kids, and everything. For anyone who has a Barbie love in the house, you can reap in the savings by finding items at yard sales.  My daughter is such a lover.  When she started getting in the Barbie phase, my friend and I were talking about Christmas.  Her daughter was twelve and had outgrown the phase and was talking about getting rid of a Barbie house that was just sitting in their garage, which just so happened to have been passed down to them from another friend seven years prior at Christmastime.  I was jumping for joy when she brought it to me at work along with a box of furniture and clothes.  I cleaned it all up and  Santa gave it to my daughter for Christmas.  My daughter was soooooo ecstatic.  I also had found a blue VW Barbie Bug on Black Friday for $15 and I thought that was a steal, because when they had come out they were $30. 

I started stopping at yard sales around a year later and wanted to kick myself when I found how cheap Barbie cars are at yard sales.  I couldn't believe all the fun Barbie things we found while we were out and about.  Believe it or not, these are the things I found at yard sales (and I am sure I will think of so many more items later on that I forgot about):

1) Barbie furniture galore (50 cents to a dollar a piece)

2) Barbie boat ($1- I looked it up on ebay and found one at the time listed for $30)

3) Barbie cars (50 cents to $3)  *remember I paid $15 for a Barbie VW Bug and believe it or not I found VW Bugs ranging from $1-$3

4) Barbie airplane (ready for this only $5!!!)

5) Wooden Barbie house ( only $5 and I looked it up on ebay and found them for $169.00)

6) Barbie jet ski ($1)

7) Barbie RV (originally they wanted $10 but I literally only had a five dollar bill on me so they let me have it for that)

8) Barbie dolls (25 cents to $1)

When I was young I had this awesome huge pink Jeep Wrangler for my barbies.  We gave the barbie stuff away when we grew out of that phase.  For my daughter's birthday my friend gave her cash and told her she could buy whatever she wanted with it, instead of giving her a gift.  My daughter wanted to go to Deseret Industries.  Believe it or not, we found a Jeep Wrangler just like I had when I was little for only $5!!  We also found a Barbie cruise ship for $5.  My daughter was so excited.  She plays with that Jeep Wrangler all the time.  It was such a great buy. 

In conclusion, when it comes to toys for kids, look at yard sales and thrift stores.  You would be surprised how cheap you can buy items instead of paying full price.  Your kids can have hours upon hours of fun for little money.

Having A Baby On the Thrifty Side

A lot of people have mixed views regarding used items.  I for one have no issues accepting anything used.  It has saved me so much money in my time as a mom.  Heck, even before becoming pregnant I was okay with used items.  In high school I actually thought it was an adventure going to Deseret Industries and finding awesome clothes at so low prices.  It was fun. 

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I got a huge bag of maternity clothes from an awesome lady in our ward who was done having babies, and it helped out so much.  They were all in good condition, and when I was through with them, I gave them to another friend of mine when she got pregnant.  The joys of passing on ;)

Another friend gave me all the outgrown clothes from her baby girl when they came in town.  I was so happy.  It saved so much money.   Another friend had been given a cradle but already had one, so she sent it my way.  (Which I passed on to another friend who was to have a baby when my daughter was a year and a half and it was just taking up room.)  My daughter's crib came from a yard sale that a friend found for only $10.  She called me and asked if I wanted it and she brought it on over.  It was a Jenny lind crib in great condition.  That same friend found a box of baby clothes at yard sales and gave them to me.  When it came to my baby shower with my daughter, I didn't register anywhere for gifts.  When people asked what I needed, I told them diapers would be helpful and surely we received lots of diapers, in addition to other clothes and other awesome things.  I also bought baby clothes at Deseret Industries that were in great condition (at the time I was working there, employees received a 25 percent discount, which really added up).  My daughter's blessing gown came from her Nanna (my mom) in Europe.  My mom also sent a parcel with blankets and a few cute baby items.  Other things were received from friends and family.  I did buy a few things, but it really saves a lot when you accept lightly used things for your baby.  Also, the things received at the baby shower helped a lot.

With my son I did register and was truly showered with gifts.  I had given away the crib to someone who thought they would be having babies soon and other things.  A friend offered her crib, because she was done having kids.  I borrowed a bassinnet from another friend since it would only be used for a couple months (which in turn we found out she was pregnant so she would need it back shortly, which worked out perfectly).  As for clothes another friend offered outgrown clothes, and I looked through my baby girl clothes to see if any would be fine for baby boy, which a lot of them were.  I needed a double stroller so both kids could be pushed if needed and looked on Craigslist and found one listed at $20.  When I went to look at it, it wasn't in bad condition.  The lady just wanted it gone and offered to let me have it for $10 if I took it right then, and surely I handed her the cash and walked away.  The car seat was given by my manager at the time, whose wife was so excited to buy for a baby since her kids are all grown and it looks like years til they have grandbabies. 

Over all I think it can be pretty inexpensive to clothe and provide bedding for a baby.  You just have to be open to lightly used items.  My kids and perfectly healthy and fine.  It didn't hurt them any by having used items. 


We all have different hobbies and interests.  Some hobbies are very expensive, while others aren't.  I have found significant ways to save money in the hobby field.  Let me first tell your about my hobbies.  I love taking pictures.  And with photography comes SCRAPBOOKING !  :)  I love scrapbooking.  I learned how to scrapbook when I was twelve years old in our church Mutual program.  From then I have been hooked.  I have spent so much money on scrapbook supplies it isn't funny in my lifetime.  To me it is worth it though.  But in recent years I have found ways to significantly save bundles on my supplies.

LOOK IN THE MOST UNTHOUGHT OF PLACES.  As simple as that might sound, you would be surprised at the deals you can find in places you wouldn't think of.  I have found awesome scrapbook supplies at Big Lots and ROSS.  Oh and you can't forget the 99 Cent Store!  Yes, you read that right.  And the savings are so big, you would be in shock.  I got my friend hooked on going with me to scope out the deals.  And you might be thinking these are just junky scrapbook kits, but they aren't.  I bought packs of scrapbook items for $3 each, complete with papers, stickers, die cuts and everything.  I have made some awesome pages from these frugal buys. 

Other ways I save on scrapbook supplies is waiting til JoAnn's has their 40 percent off sales on their paper stacks if they are the stacks I have been wanting.  Recently they had their sale and I had been wanting a certain stack that was $20.  After the discount was taken, I only spent $12. 

I tend to make scrapbooks as Christmas gifts and spend hours upon hours making them.  The recipients rave about how awesome their gifts are, and I feel all the happier knowing how much I saved buying the supplies to make them.  :) 

Grocery Savings

Different people have different techniques when it comes to grocery shopping.  I have heard many people claim that they save so much money by couponing.  I will admit that I have tried it a few times.  I went out and bought the newspapers, viewed the coupons and realized that my kids and I didn't really eat the foods in the coupons, or if we bought the store brand of the item it was still cheaper.  Maybe some of you have had better experiences, but that is just my personal experience. (And if any of you manage to save significant amounts by couponing for things that your family actually eats consistently please feel free to share your strategies as I guess I just don't get it  ;)  .) 

So here are some of my favorite ways we tend to stretch our grocery dollars:

1)Make a list.  Really make a list of what you are shopping for.  Unless there is something that is a really good sale that you didn't know about ahead of time, stick to the list.  Without a list, you are shopping blindly.  How many more things do you end up buying when you see them in the store?

2)NEVER go shopping when you are hungry.  I know what you're thinking, "Sassy I have heard that before.  People just must not have any self control.  I am different. If that is what you are going to start referring to as a tip then I am gone."  STOP.  Think about it honestly.  How much more do you buy when you are hungry?  I will be the first to admit that I want all the snack and junk foods while at the grocery store if I didn't eat before going shopping.  Suddenly things that aren't on my list start looking mighty edible to my eyes, and I start to think that I should buy some of those things.  If I did that, I would be spending more money.

3)Look at the ads before you go shopping.  Is there something you can make that is on sale this week?  I tend to watch the sales and stop at the different stores while I am out and about.  Unless there is a REALLY good sale, I don't make a special trip just to save a few cents.  If it is a really good sale, then I will make a special trip for it, but I try to combine my shopping while I am out.  While looking at your ads, be open to different stores.  In our area there are many stores trying to compete for our business.  I am noticing a lot more "Mexican Mart" flyers.  At first I thought that I would never shop at any of those stores.  Then I started noticing how great their prices were on sale items.  For example I noticed in their flyer this past week that they had canned corn for only 39 cents a can!  In my area, I haven't seen that price for corn in a long time.  Since I know my family likes corn, I bought 4 cases.  Also, I saw that they had pasta in 2 pound bags for only 89 cents.  Since I know my kids love goolash with macaroni noodles I bought 12 bags to stock up so I wouldn't have to pay full price some other time.  From my personal experience with the "Mexican Marts" though, I only buy the sale items there, because the other items in their store are so much more than the usual prices that we pay.  That is just my experience from comparing prices.

4)As I started to explain in number 3, STOCK UP on items when they are on sale.  It sure beats having to pay full price for things later on.  But please do NOT stock up on items that your family doesn't actually like or eat.  Unused food gets thrown out, which means wasted money.  So when something that your family loves to eat goes on sale, buy plenty to last you til you find a really good deal later on.  You can save so much money by shopping this way. 

5) Don't be afraid of store brands.  They are your friends.  Store brands save you so much, as they are typically so much cheaper than the name brand.  But don't be fooled- compare the prices and make sure.  MOST store brands are cheaper but not always from my experience.  I was at WalMart and was about to grab the store brand of marshmallows last year when I noticed that the name brand was cheaper.  I was a little shocked.  Just make sure which one is cheaper.

6) Compare prices by ounce instead of by package.  You might be surprised to find that it doesn't always save more money to buy the larger package.  Other times it saves you so much money!  Just do your math. 

Welcome and The Start Of My Quest For Helping Others Save

I was raised frugal by my parents and have maintained being frugal, but I am human- as we all are.  Yes, I have blown money many times in my life.  Who hasn't?  You live and learn.  That is how life works.  With the current economy and how things are going though, it really is neccessary to watch your pennies. Times are tough, as I am sure we can all attest to.  My objective in starting this blog is to inform and help those around me (and online) to learn how to save their hard earned money.  Feel free to share your input.

Something that not many people know is that I always wanted to write a personal finance and "money saving" book.  Instead, I present this blog.  Join me and enjoy.