Tag Archives: save money

How to Get What You Want…FOR FREE

How to use what you have to get what you want for free. Frugal and creative living at its finest!

Okay okay, so there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But have you ever thought about bringing back the barter system?

I absolutely love bartering. If I have something that you need, find useful, or believe is beautiful, it makes sense to trade! Money is tight for many of us, and the thrifty home manager finds creative ways to stretch a dollar. Bartering is a way you can live “for free,” since the exchange of money is not involved and uses only what you already have.

Last summer I traded a gallon of Tropical Tradition’s coconut oil for several pounds of meat for my family. Read about it on my MoneySavingMom.com reader tip.

In December I was able to trade again. We had been talking about getting a toy chest for Tristan’s ever-growing toy population, and I happened to see a friend (who actually lives in the same neighborhood) put a large toy chest on the local buy/sell/trade site for $60. I knew we wouldn’t spend $60 on a toy chest but I also knew she had been wanting a few essential oils for awhile. So I messaged her and asked if she would consider a trade and she agreed! The following weekend she brought over the toy chest and I gave her three bottles of essential oils ($60 worth) I had purchased with free product points. It was a great trade!

What do you think about the practice of bartering? Have you bartered before? Tell me in the comments!

Why I don’t extreme coupon…anymore

Why I don't extreme coupon...anymore...and how I still save on HEALTHY food!

Yes, it’s true. I used to be an extreme couponer. I spent hours each week clipping, organizing, planning, and executing my multiple-transaction purchases. I had enough deodorant, shampoo, hair dye, toothpaste, and non-perishable food products to last me a good 3 years.

And then I went hippie.

When you make your own toothpaste and deodorant because you are concerned about toxic chemical overload, $0.25 toothpaste isn’t a draw anymore. And unfortunately, most places don’t have extreme coupon scenarios for their coconut oil.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned since transitioning to the bright side:

  1. Occasionally, there are coupons for organic produce. I have found coupons for organic salad greens, nuts, peppers, and more. I have also written to companies and they have sent me coupons for free products as well as $ off coupons. Target’s Cartwheel app also frequently has deals on produce.
  2. Organic is becoming more widespread, so places like WalMart and Aldi now carry organic produce, organic/gluten-free boxed foods, and even organic coconut oil! At my last trip to Aldi I noticed they have a bag of organic quinoa for less than $3. Brilliance, I tell you.
  3. It is much more convenient to make your own care products than to spend hours searching for free toothpaste. Because after so many hours of clipping/planning/driving/shopping, was it really free? I discovered a couple one-time investments in ingredients made it possible for me to mix up toothpaste for myself and my husband for two years! Plus when you realize at 11pm that you’re out of toothpaste, it’s much faster to mix up a quick batch than to get dressed, run to the store, pick out the toothpaste, drive back from the store, brush your teeth, and get back in your pajamas. Just sayin.
  4. I can use the creativity and problem solving skills I learned while planning my coupon trips to find creative ways to save on organic foods. For example, I learned to buy organic for free.
  5. Use coupons for other things. I still use coupons for clothes, books, toys, and everything else. Just not to the extreme, because I do not need 10 bath towels.

How do you save money on healthy items? Would you like me to start posting coupons for healthy products when I come across them?

Teavana.com

6 Ways To Cut Your Heating Bills This Winter

save money

We are coming up on our third winter in this apartment. The first year, we kept the heater on as much as we wanted, despite the costs (which were almost double). But last year we were barely scraping by financially after multiple job changes, so we avoided turning on the heat in the apartment for as long as we could. Basically, we didn’t turn the heater on until Tristan was born on December 19th.

This year, while technically we can afford to run the heater as much as we want again, we are also about to go into 2016 having met our 2015 savings goal by 150%, so we want to maximize our savings! Here are 5 tips we learned last year that will help us this year:

1. Wear layers

It might seem like common sense, but wearing layers doesn’t come naturally to this happily barefoot hippie. Wearing house shoes is a new habit I’m getting used to, but I don’t like socks.  However, it’s winter, and my toes don’t like winter. So socks and house shoes it is.

2. Get a reliable space heater

Rather than turn on the heater for the whole apartment, use a portable heater for wherever you are. Some portable heaters can be fire hazards, so be careful when choosing one. We have two electric fireplaces for this winter that are quite warm and add such a homey feel to our home. Opt for an energy-efficient heater if you can find one.

3. Curl up with a good book and a blanket

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder, great news! I was just reading about a Danish practice called “hyggye,” which basically is intentional relaxation and “in-the-momentness.”  It’s a time to mindfully indulge in something that makes you feel good, which can be anything from a long soak in the tub to a cozy homemade meal with friends. Apparently this is how the Danish combat long winters.

4. Drink coffee/hot cocoa/tea

Going along with the good book and blanket, drinking a hot drink is a great way to warm up. It’s common knowledge that I love coffee, but I recognize that there are other options.

5. Bake something

This morning the apartment was the kind of cold where you don’t want to get out of bed. So rather than turn on the heater, I turned on the oven instead. Sunday is typically my baking day, so I enjoyed the warmth of the oven – and the delicious aroma of bran muffins (I use this recipe, but I use almond milk and coconut oil instead of buttermilk and vegetable oil).

6. Winter-proof your home

Approximately 11% of heat escapes through your front door.  Last year Peter noticed a large draft coming through our front door, so our maintenance man installed some new weatherstrips on the inside.  It was a simple fix and now there isn’t a draft! We also have blackout thermal curtains that help cut the draft around the windows with an A/C unit.

By implementing these 6 simple steps, we estimate that we will only need to turn on the heater on the coldest of cold days, and then only for a few hours as our home is appropriately weather-proofed. I hope they help you save too!