Monday, September 29, 2008

A Whole New Look!

Just wanted to point out the new banner for my blog! A great Nestie, GreeyPie custom made it for me. Isn't she AWSOME! Be sure to check out her awsome photography (or get a customer banner of your own) from

Monday, September 22, 2008

Deal of the Week...

Sorry I have been neglecting my new blog the past couple days. Things have still been pretty hectic with the aftermath of the storm from last Sunday. My in-laws finally got power Saturday night though, so no more entertaining them each night, feeding them, and doing their laundry! Yeah!

Anyhow, as if I didn't have enough going on, I still found time to shop! Here are a few of my favorite finds of the week:

This was the biggest deal of the week by a long shot. As I posted before, we recently got a new buffet in the dining room. I really had no clue what we were going to put in the empty space above it and I was afriad to even ask if I could purchase a $200 mirror or piece of art work. So it continued to be blank. While I was getting new toothbrushes on our weekly grocery trip to Meijer, Todd started wondering around. He comes back with this great mirror and says, "Hun, what do you think of this? I thought it would go well over the buffet table and it's on clearence for only $15!" This my friends was shocker to me that one, he's giving decorating advice to me, and two, that he even mentioned it to me. But then again, this is why I married the man. Always keeping me guessing. Anyway, this is our new $15 mirror.

This is also a cheap piece of "art" I put together this weekend. I already had these picture frames hanging above our couch in the family room, but I'm waiting to get prints for Christmas. So I decided to decorate them for fall. I just took some scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby ($.59 each) and a fake leaf from Hobby Lobby ($2.99 for about 40) and put it in the frame. Looks pretty good huh?

And last, but not least I want to share with you my favorite Dollar Tree Deal of all time (aside from my pregnancy test that gave me a positive reading on the first try)....

For $1 I got a pack of 12 spooky looking lables. So I took a few bottles we had around the house in various colors and stuck the lables on them. They look great as a Haloween decoration on the buffet table and only cost a fraction of a dollar since I still have 9 left!

Anyway....check back tomorrow for pictures of the goods I got at the Mom's Market two weekends ago. I only went for a few things and came back with two garbage bags full for $80! Not exactly being "thrifty" but it was fun. Plus, I justify it by thinking I'll be able to sell the clothes for the same price I paid for them....Anyway, keep posted!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Hurricane in Dayton?

The picture at left was pretty much a common site here in Dayton, OH today. After yesterdays storm that brought wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour, many trees are down as well as the power lines. We were in the lucky minority. We lost power from about 2pm Sunday until 7am Monday morning. We are in the 20,000 that had power restored. Some 400,000 are still without power, including our neighbors across the street! How the heck does that happen?!?!?

Anyway, we're very thankful that nothing happened. No big trees down on our house and thankfully rain didn't accompany the wind. Even with the absense of rain, we still spent time out of every hour manually emptying the sump pump. Getting a battery back up for our sump pump just moved to number one on the priority list and we don't care how much it costs! Lugging over 500 bucket loads of water up stairs and down the driveway for 12 hours is NOT fun!

Anyway, to all those people without power still, we'll be praying that everything is okay, especially you moms of little ones. I know first hand that running to the store to get more ice so that the milk stays cold is NOY fun either. So good luck and hopefully everything will be back to normal soon. I might almost miss the contant sound of chain saws in a few days...

100 Days till Christmas?!?!?!

Yes, there is officially 100 days until Christmas! Can you believe that? Where has the past year gone?
At first thought, this was a total shock to me, but then reality set in......will I be ready? Can I start now? That's when I came across an awsome website that suggested an 18 week plan to stay sane through the holidays. The only problem was trying to catch up. 2 of the 18-week "program" has already passed. So this week I'm dedicated to getting through the first three weeks. Keep posted for progress...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deal of the Week!

Here is the story of my deal of the week:

When we first moved into our house in March 2007, I knew it would be a long time before we had a functioning dining area, yet I still felt the need to figure out how I would decorate it and what I would buy for each space. At the time, Bombay Company was one of my favorite stores and they had just opened a new store by us. I fell in love with the Alexander Buffet and knew that was the exact piece I wanted for our dining room buffet. Just a few short months later I started seeing going out of business signs for Bombay everywhere. With a brand new baby at home, it was a little challenging to get out, and by the time we finally did make it out there, they were all gone, including any online.

So, for over a year now, I had been looking at suitable alternatives. The only thing I even remotely liked though was the Montego Wine Buffet from Pottery Barn, but considering I only had $5,000 to the entire family room, living room, AND dining room, there was no way I could afford $1300 just for a buffet. I looked and looked and nothing seemed like it was going to work. Everything was either too big, too small, too country, too contemporary, too dark or too light. Then, finally, I thought of checking Walmart's new canopy collection. And what do you know, behold, the most perfect dining room buffet I ever could have asked for, the Anywhere Console. And better yet, at only $299 PLUS free shipping to the store, I couldn't beat the price if I tried! When I saw that, I thought I had dies and went to heaven.

So, without furthur new dining room buffet:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Night Planning

I truely believe that in order to live the high life on a small budget, it takes a lot of planning. Since having my son, planning has been essential for making the most out of my weekend. Being a working mom, we don't have the casualty of just grabbing a sandwich to eat in the car and go grocery shopping on a Wednesday night. Not we have to sit down, make a meal that hits all the food groups, and give our son at least 45 minutes to eat it all (40 minutes of it is playing with his food). And then after all that, he has to be in bed by 7 and we're exhasted at well.

So Thursday night is now my planning night. I take inventory of the food items I have on hand, mainly focusing on what meats are in the freezer and what freezer meals are available if I know a particular night will be extra chaotic. Then, I get out the sales ads from the paper and write a list for each store of items we like that are a good deal. The store with the longest list is where we shop that week. This week, Kroger's won out.

This weeks meal plan:
Fri: Salads with leftover chicken and last half of salad bag
Sat: Mexican Crockpot Chicken (makes enough for two lunches as well)
Sun: Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread
Mon: BLT Sandwiches with roasted potatoes and peaches
Tues: Tacos
Wed: (Breakfast night) Cinnamon Rolls, Eggs, and Bacon
Thur: Calzones

Here is my grocery list:
Kroger Ice Cream - $1.99 + coupon $1.00 off
Eggs - 4 for $5
(2) Cinnamon Rolls - $3 + (2) $.60 off
Goldfish - $1.50
Oscar Meyer Deli Meat - $3
Deli Creations - $1.99
Gala Apples - 2 lbs for $2
Kettle Chips - 3 for $5
(12) Yoplait Yogurts - 12 for $7 + (2) save $.80
Pop Tarts - $1.98
OJ - $2.99
Gerber Graduates - 5 for $10 + save $1.50 on one
(3) Toaster Strudel - $6 for 3 + $1.70 off in coupons
V8 Fusion - $2.99
Meow Mix Cat Food - $6 + $1.00 off
Lettuce - $1
Bananas - $2

So we will be under $45 this week. It really helped that I shopped sales before because I had almost everything on hand for the dinners this week, so all we needed was some breakfast food and lunch food which we stocked up on for the next couple weeks.

I also plan on getting my fall decorating done this weekend. In the past, we were REALLY poor, so I bought most of our decor from garage sales. I have a lot of nice stuff, but it's not exactly the look I want to go for anymore. A lot of it just has a hint of tacky to it. So this weekend I'm on a mission to find some new decor. Here is the plan for Saturday among my other errands:

8am - Mom's Market sale to get pajamas and jeans to complete Luke's fall waredrobe
9:30amam - Dollar store to check on decor
10:00am - Pick up organization books on hold at library, get new release movie, books for Luke
10:30 - Flower Factory
11:30 - Old Time Pottery
12:30 - head home, eat lunch and Luke's nap, play with Luke
6:00 dinner
7:00 Luke in bed and Todd and I decorate while enjoying some new beers we got a few weeks ago (sounds like the perfect romantic night huh?)

Sunday our mission is organization. It's going to be a lazy Sunday, but I really want to get my closet cleaned out, Todd's closet cleaned out, Luke's closet cleaned out, and the linen closet cleaned out. Let's see if I can do it while avoiding spending ridiculous amounts of money on all the organization items in stores now a days. I'll be using this article from Better Homes and Gardens as my inspiration:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our $1.46 dinner!

Todd was running late from work (it rained all day yesterday) and I was feeling motivated to get my blog started, so I decided to make one of backup meals instead of the chicken broccoli casserole I planned on making. Anyway, we were at the grocery store a couple weeks ago and cruising down the pizza aisle when Todd moticed a Chicago Deep Dish frozen pizza marked down to $1.46. We have an eye for the little orange discount tags at Meijer, but we'd never seen a deal like this. It was originally over $15! We figured it was only $1.46, so why not try it. Tonight was the first time trying it and it was pretty good. Took almost an hour to cook, but other than wrapping it in some foil and defrsoting the sauce, it's about as easy as a meal can get. Nothing I would have paid $15 for, bt it was delicious for the price we paid. Plus, we always drinka big glass of ice water with dinner. We think it's a good habit to get in with our son and it's free! So at $.73 per person.....and we couldn't even finish was one heck of a meal!

Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

I think that even for people who like to save money, renovating their home is one place they often think they just can't save. Now I don't think anyone shoud scrimp on quality, but the mark up on most of the stuff is ridiculous. I'm here to tell you that you don't need $40K to re-do a kitchen. In fact, we did ours for less than $7,000! Yes, you read that right and that includes all new appliances! So let me walk you through the process:

Here was the kitchen before (realtor photo):
As you can probably tell, the purple and gold really isn't my cup of tea, and covering up horribly cheap cabinets with a coat of black paint wasn't fooling off we went in the hopes to stay under $10K!

Existing trim was painted white and the walls got a fresh coat of paint. We choose relaxed khaki from which is a Sherwin Williams paint color we had matched at Walmart and got in ColorPlace paint. We learned a lesson, paint is one place not to skimp on quality. (The paint needed three coats and isn't olding up well. We will be repainting this winter with Behr or Sherwin Williams.) Total cost of paint $50.

Almost everything removed from kitchen. Since we did it ourselves, the only cost was the dump fee at the city dump - $20 plus the gas. Also, our appliances were not in bad shape, so we listed them on Criagslist and got an additional $1,000 for our remodel.

We enlisted the help of family to help us install the cabinets. We got all cabinets for $2300 through my dad at 30% of list price. Some might think.....well, great, but my dad doesn't sell cabinets, how can I get a deal. All you need to do is take the time to look around. My dad sells to a place right down the street from us that only sells them for 40% of list price. Lowes sells them for 60%-70% list price. Anyway, we went with the Shrock cabinets which are the same as the Thomasville cabinets at Lowes. The color is called Briarwood and the door style is called Princeton. It's one of the low end "value" doors, but you could never tell. They are great quality so that is what matters most to me.

And here it is with all the doors on, cabinets installed, countertops on, and flooring in. This took place in the course of a week and our was so chaotic, I didn't take a picture until this point. Anyway, appliances are Fridgedaire Professional Series. We saw these on sale at HHGregg for $1999. We had a coupon though for 10% off BestBuy when you purchased 4 appliances though, so we went there and their price was more expensive, so they beat the $1999 price by 10%, gave us an additional 10% off, and threw in the free delivery which HHGregg didn't offer. Plus, we took advantage of their 0% APR credit card for 18 months and just put the money we were going to use to buy the appliances in a money market earning at least 3%. Also, for the coutertops we went with LG Solid Surface. I dreamed of granite, but for the price, it's just not a choice in our area. It would cause our kicthen to have more in it then it's really worth. Anyway, Lowes gave us a quote of $3200 for what we wanted. We asked them who they have install it for them and as luck would have it, they actually told us. You guessed it, we just called that company directly and got it done for $1200 out the door. (PS - we offered to pay them cash, so we got an extra $100 off.) The flooring is Columbia Clic Xtra in Mayan Ridge Merbau. Again, we got it through my dad, paid about 30% of list, which was about $800 for 800 sq ft.

The last step was adding the travertine back splash. Originally I had just picked out a nice ceramic tile from Lowes, but we headed to the Tile Store just to make sure they didn't have anything better. We got to talking with the sales person and she said they could just let us borrow their wet saw instead of renting it. So we ended up picking out this travertine instead, even though it was a little more expensive. With getting the wet saw for free, we ended up saving money and getting a better product. We just went to one of their tile clinics, learned how to cut it all, used the products they told us to, and voila.....backsplash complete! We also added some nice brushed nickle pulls from Lowes to complete the look. Backsplash cost was about $500 and the pulls were just under $50. Lastly, we spent just under $400 on odds and ends, like a new pantry door and door to basement, hardware for doors, etc.

So let me total that up for you......we spent a total of $6920, well under $40K for the average remodel! We also had an appraiser friend come through just to see how well we did. Even in our low cost of living area, we increased our home value $30K with the kitchen! How's that for an investment?

Free money!

Hmmm, free money and Pottery Barn gift cards, do I have your attention yet? There is nothing more fun then getting free money, and I'm not talking about when you find a penny on the ground when you're out and about. I'm talking real money here.

While I have normally never believed in any of those "rewards" programs, I've gotten really lucky the past couple weeks with them.

First example, we do our normal banking through our credit union who doesn't really deal in rewards and such because they don't rip people off with a bunch of extra charges in the first place, and therefore can't afford to give customers all those little perks, but for my husband's business, he's gone through National City long before I came along. He doesn't have a ton of expenses for his business besides gas, maintenance, and the occassional lunch with a client (he ownes a lawn and landscaping business in case you care), but in the past three years, they really added up. He had just over 100,000 points. So he chose the $100 Home Depot gift card (41,500), which I got o choose the $100 Pottery Barn gift card (40,000 pts). Woohoo! I did say he could put it away and give it to me for a Christmas present though. =(

Second example, we buy our gas from Speedway gas stations 90% of the time. It just so happens with my husband's landscaping business, we use A LOT of gas. So we've been collecting speedy points for awhile now. I usually pay no attention to our points, but looked at the reciept yesterday and noticed we had almost 90,000 points. So not only did I redeem my points for a $100 gas gift card (66,000 pts), but I also snagged a $25 JCPenney gift card (19,000 pts). Hmmm, one step closer to that end table I want!

And lastly, I'm a member of the Mariott rewards program. I don't travel a whole lot, but from time to time, I have to go to DC for work and we always stay at the Mariott. I've probably only stayed maybe 40 nights in the past two years, but they constantly call us with killer deals. The other night, they railed me in. I put down a $199 down payment for 5 nights, 4 days to either Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Aruba, St. Kitt or St. Thomas. If we decide to stay within the US, we only have to pay the $199. If we go to Aruba, St. Kitt or St. Thomas it's only another $200! Yeah, there is the whole catch about listening to a 90 minute presentation, but even at 25 years of age, Todd and I are experts at these things. The key, get into a huge fight about money and act like your going to get a divorce. Works every time!

Dream Vacation on a Dime

The first thing I think of when I hear "living large" is dream vacations. Maybe it's just me, but to travel the world in search of the most beautiful beach would be like dying and going to heaven. But, then I get knocked back into reality and realize it's never gonna happen. So, how can I visit a beautiful beach while on a budget. Well in this post, I will give you what I know. Feel free to add in additional references in my comments section!

A life saver for us is No matter where we go in he world, I always check this site first. Sometimes you can find some AWSOME deals. Here are a couple of our favorite KILLER deals: - St. Thomas for $770/wk - St.Thomas for $600/wk
Here is a few other deals we found for our trip this coming March: - $77/night for cottage in St. John -$80/night for cottage in St. John - my personal favorite, 1900 for 2 people for 7 nights lodging, 5 dinners and breakfast, 2 Painkillers, and 2 t-shirts! I'm SO there if only I can get the hubby to fly!
Also found an awsome option for cruising on a dime:
But sometimes the flights alone can turn a cheap trip into trip into a year long credit card bill. So here's a few of my favorite sites: ***these sites all check multiple places, so it saves you time which will email you low rates

Introductions please...

Hi! I'm Andrea, 25 year old wife and mother of one with a dream of the "perfect" life. I constantly stuggle with trying to be the best wife, the best friend, the best mom, the best daughter, have the nicest house, cook the best food, throw the best parties, etc. But it's tough to do in todays world, especially when that word "money" rears it's ugly head. We aren't millionaires, and we work hard for our money, so really, I'd like to get as much out of is as I possibly can. So over the years, I've become quite thirfty and I'm always on the look out for the best deal or how to do something cheaper.

We constantly get asked by friends and family how we get such killer deals. My best friend even jokes that we sleep with the sales people. But really, it's no secret at all, you too can find those deals of a lifetime. So this blog is a collection of everything to do with saving money, from organization (the foundation of every cheap lifestyle), to meal planning (aka recipes), to remodeling and decorating on a dime (the whole reason I am cheap). My hope is to help others find deals and to have some fun in the process! So welcome and I hope you stick around for some fun!