Savvy Chic

tidbits, thoughts, and ramblings. . .with a Mormon twist

Frugal Tips July 30, 2007

Filed under: frugal,savvy thoughts,thrifty tips — savvychic @ 8:12 pm

I found these tips in a file I created for a friend who asked for help in becoming more frugal.  I discovered I have a bunch of tips in other files.  So. . .perhaps a series on thriftyness is coming up!

When you decide to live a more frugal lifestyle, consider the following: 

Set priorities—what’s important to you?

            New/trendy clothes

            Soft tissue paper

            Eating out

If it is really important to you, don’t skimp there.  There are plenty of other areas that can be worked on so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.

Baby-steps—don’t try to drastically change everything all at once.  You’re likely to burn out and not think it is worth the effort.  Work on one thing at a time till it becomes second nature.  You’ll be ready to move on to the next priority.  (FlyLady.net has a lot of good advice about this—and everything else!)

Painless ways to cut back

*For the basics, shop at Wal-Mart, Aldi’s, or Crest.  However, pay attention to the sales at Albertson’s, Safeway, and Smith’s.  Often, their sale prices beat the “everyday low prices” of the other stores.

*Plan meals around items on sale, found in the ads

*Try out the store brands—often, these contain the same product as the brand names, just different packaging and a lower price.  However, sometimes, cheaper ingredients are used and the product is indeed inferior.  Great Value products seem to be consistently good from my experience.

*Sack lunches

*Price journal—keep track of the price you pay so you will have a reference in the future so you know if you are getting a good deal

*Look higher and lower than eye level on the shelves.  Usually you’ll find better prices

*Shop with cash, when it is gone, it’s gone—can’t fudge

*Make a shopping list before you go to the store(s) and stick to it

*Make your list throughout the week

*Go to the store only once per week, or less!

*Read The Millionaire Next Door and Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends

*Do not be embarrassed to return defective or incorrectly priced items (Wal-Mart has a 200% money back guarantee for customer satisfaction in the meat department.)

*Less steak—meat could be incorporated into the meal rather than being a main dish.

*Shop for Christmas and birthday’s year-round—have a gift box

*Use the public library

*Print using draft mode when possible rather than the regular mode—it saves expensive ink.

*Shop online for new/used books (e.g.  Bookfinder.com, half.com, Addall.com, Amazon.com)

More frugal steps that require a bit more work:

*Cook more meals at home from scratch

            –Not Just Beans is a great frugal and simple cookbook

            -Learn to appreciate beans and other meatless complete proteins

*Cloth diapers 

*Have only enough clothes for a week—maybe 1 ½ weeks—at least for the kids.  Less $$$, easier to sort laundry…

*Cut back on extracurricular activities

            -More and more studies are showing your kids need more downtime anyway

*Learn how to cut hair

*Develop talents

            -Gardening—grow some of your own food (Salad greens are a great way to start)

            -Sewing—sew your own or your kids’ clothes, mending, make your own home accents (valances, decorative pillows, etc)

            -Knitting/crocheting—baby shower gifts! and other gifts in general

            -Cooking

*Pay off all credit card debt and always pay the full balance every month!

*Know where to get good deals (Clearance racks, Dollartree—be careful there though.  Many things cost less at Wal-Mart, and there is the temptation to buy more than you need because it is only a dollar)

*Subscribe to Dollar Stretcher and Dollar Stretcher for Parents (mailto:sub-dollar-stretcher-parents@hub.thedollarstretcher.com

*One instance where I will buy at full price–when I need now it and I can’t find it for less (e.g. most groceries).  Otherwise, I almost always buy items discounted or used.

*Wait for it to go on sale, use what you have, use it up, make do with what you have, or do without

*Look for sales in ads, online (half.com, etc).  Make sure it is really a sale–some places mark prices up and then have a “sale”, others just have inflated prices and their sales bring the price down to the same everyday price of other stores.

*Don’t just buy something because it’s on sale. 

Savings

*Put $$ you save from each grocery trip/hair cut/etc. into a savings account, or use it to pay off debt (and then, after the debt is paid off, put that saved money into your savings account)

*Only buy what you need and what you will use.

            -Do you really need that CD/ DVD?

            -Do you really need another knick knack. . . even if it is really cute?

*When you pick up an item that you like but aren’t sure you need, ask yourself, “do I want this enough that I am willing to take care of it?” referring to the extra cleaning, storage, etc. that it will require.

There are so many more ideas!  Please leave your own favorites.  I’ll be adding more as I have time.

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How to Tell Family and Friends That You’re Pregnant July 15, 2007

Filed under: baby,savvy thoughts — savvychic @ 10:43 pm

Well, you could write a family e-newsletter and direct everyone to a blog titled “How to Tell Family and Friends That You’re Pregnant.”  That would probably do the trick! (Yes, family and friends . . . this is an announcement!)

But for those of you who are coming to this article searching for other creative ways to tell the world your great news, I have a few ideas and a few websites with more ideas!

For my first child, I was just so excited that the home pregnancy test had two lines, I came out of the bathroom, showed my husband, and then we called our parents.  For the second baby, my son and I bought some blue and pink balloons and a king size Hershey’s candy bar.  We wrapped the candy bar with another paper, strategically placing holes over the candy bar’s name, making the candy bar read, “He or She. . .we will have wait and see!”  It didn’t take long for my husband to figure it out.  Soon we called our families to spread the news.  This time around, I included the pregnancy test in a baby countdown clock all wrapped up with a book on parenting as a Father’s Day gift!  Then we sent out a family newsletter with a link to this blog!

A friend of mine told her husband she was pregnant by preparing a treasure hunt with the clues inside of balloons.  Other fun ideas include creating personalized t-shirts for your youngest with the words, “I’m a big brother/sister!” Or you can wear a shirt with the words, “Baby on Board” or simply with the word, “Baby” and an arrow pointing to your belly.  These would work in a picture you send out to family, or if you were to wear the shirts to a family dinner.

Sending a picture from the ultrasound in a frame to family or friends, or just a baby frame with a note mentioning the picture will arrive on 2/18 (due date), is another fun way to spread the news.

My aunt figured out I was pregnant (with my first) when I told her I couldn’t use benadryl for a poison ivy rash.  I didn’t intend to drop the hint, but I have seen others give creative hints to clue in individuals. (Note: some OB/GYNs say that it is okay to use benadryl while pregnant.  You will want to check with your doctor before you use any over-the-counter medicines.)

On a less light-hearted note, but also very important, you may want to keep in mind the timing of your announcement.  Some people recommend waiting until you’re 10-12 weeks into the pregnancy before announcing it to the world as that is when the risk of miscarriage decreases significantly.  Other people recommend announcing early because if you do miscarry, you will have more support as you work through the loss of the pregnancy.  I tend to wait as I did miscarry my first, after announcing the pregnancy, and found it very difficult to tell people that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

There are so many creative ways to share the news.  You can also get away with just proclaiming, “I’m pregnant!”  However, in case you need some more cute ideas, check out these websites:

http://www.parenthood.com/articles.html?article_id=10168

http://www.babytalkradio.com/transcripts/creative-ways-to-tell-family-and-friends.htm

http://www.babyfit.com/archive_posts.asp?imboard=139&imParent=2085526

http://pregnancyandbaby.com/pregnancy/baby/Creative-ways-to-say-Im-pregnant-526.htm

And soon you’ll be thinking about all the gadgets and gizmos you’ll need for the little one.  See my posts on other really useful baby tools: ring slings and moby wraps.  These are some of the most wonderful items I believe you can have!

Ezra T. Benson taught, “No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother. There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother.” Best wishes on your pregnancy and journey through motherhood.

 

Orchids July 12, 2007

Filed under: garden,garden tips,plants — savvychic @ 8:39 am

As posted on LDS Image

In the flowering plant world, orchids are the most diverse and have the most species. Orchids grow nearly everywhere, Antarctica and deserts being the exceptions. Orchids have a well-deserved reputation for being more difficult than your average flowering plant. . . but the rewards for your patience and diligence will be well worth it when you succeed.

In the past, growing orchids was a hobby only the wealthy could afford. Today, orchids can be grown by anyone who has an interest. And with the wealth of information available online, from hobbyist, and from your local garden store, picking an orchid that will work for you has never been easier. To find an orchid that will thrive in your environment, let’s explore some basic information.

Orchids can be divided into four types according to the growing conditions they require: epiphytes, lithophytes, saprophytes, and terrestrials. Most orchids are epiphytes, or air plants, and grow on trees. In your home, epiphyte orchids can be grown in bark, cork, pebbles, or marbles. Lithophytes cling tightly to rocks while saprophytes prefer mulch as they are accustomed to growing on the forest floor. Terrestrials grow in sand or soil, but still not the typical potting soil of most houseplants.

The leaves of an orchid will also tell you about it’s light and water preferences. Thick, wide dark green leaves prefer lots of sunlight and can tolerate dry roots. Tall, grass-like leaves prefer shade and need to stay moist, preferring a more humid environment. There are many types of orchids in between these two extremes. Keep in mind where these plants are native. This will give you clues to what they need to thrive elsewhere. Also, many houseplants do not like chlorinated water. Orchids may benefit from distilled or bottled water. You can use tap water, but let the water sit on the counter for a day or so to let the chlorine evaporate.

Orchids tolerate a wide range of temperatures. You’ll need to find out what your specific orchid species needs. Typically, the temperature you are comfortable at in your home will work for your plant. And as you may like a breeze, orchids prefer gently moving air to stagnant conditions.

The orchid flower can last from one week to four months, depending on the plant species. Some flowers are extremely fragrant, while others have no odor. There is great variation in the flower structure between plants. You can explore the many options in books and online!

The most famous of the orchids is the vanilla orchid. If you like vanilla flavoring, you owe your gratitude to the orchid family. The vanilla plant is the only orchid that is grown for food purposes.

Orchids are very rewarding plants to grow. With a little research about your specific orchid species and these general tips, you will be well on your way to a successful, thriving plant. If you choose to get more involved with orchids, you may consider joining an orchid growers society (locally or on-line– make sure you have your parents support in this so that they can keep you safe). Some orchids can live for many many years when given the right conditions. It won’t be long until you are the expert of your own orchid.

Want more information? Check out the sites I consulted:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchid

http://retirees.uwaterloo.ca/~jerry/orchids/orchfaq.html

 

Independence Day!!! July 4, 2007

Filed under: savvy thoughts — savvychic @ 10:18 am

Corn-on-the-cob, watermelon, potato salad, apple pie, fireworks. . .these are a few of the things I love about this day. I also love that I live in a free nation. I’m free to think, say, do, worship, travel, and learn. I have a right to my own opinion and many opportunities to fulfill dreams. I am able to raise my children to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their own actions. What a great country we live in! I love the USA!!!

This past year has made these feeling more meaningful to me. Especially while living in Washington DC and tromping on the ground of my forefathers. Visiting the home of George Washington, Mount Vernon, and reading a biography of this great man, opened my eyes to how fragile this freedom is. Reading David McCullough’s Biography of John Adams taught me how hard this freedom was to obtain, and that it was only with divine guidance and much perseverance of dedicated individuals, that the United States of America actually came into existence.

Today, this freedom is still not free. Many brave men and women place their lives in harms way to maintain that which we deem our right. Many have gone before them and many will stand in that same perilous place in the future. I am so grateful for these brave souls and the families and friends that support them. I too offer my support and love and prayers.

John Adams penned the following words, “I must study politics and war so that my children may have the liberty to study mathematics, commerce and agriculture so that their children have the right to study painting, poetry, music and architecture.” How grateful I am that I could study anything I chose when I attended BYU.  I am able to use that knowledge everyday of my life.

I love this country. Happy Birthday USA!!! Thank you again, to all those who have served, who are serving, and who will serve this great nation in all the many capacities this country offers and requires. Happy Independence Day!

 

 

Crafts–I Spy Pouch July 1, 2007

Filed under: children,crafts,frugal,kids,thrifty tips — savvychic @ 9:10 am

I first saw an I Spy bag at a friends house. Although it was supposed to be a children’s toy, it fascinated me and I had to find each and every listed item before I could put it down. Then, a couple of years ago, our Relief Society made I Spy pouches for enrichment. I wasn’t able to attend, but I got the basic information and then created my own version. As requested, here is how I make these toys. Whether or not you share it with your kids is your own prerogative.

Here is the basic layout of the I Spy pouch. The pouch is made with three layers–two layers of fleece and one layer of clear vinyl (available at Walmart in the fabric dept). One layer of fleece has a hole in the center, the layer of vinyl is sewn to that fleece piece around the hole. Then, the vinyl/fleece piece is sewn to the remaining fleece, leaving a hole to insert the fillings.

The fillings may include beads (these are my favorite–so much variety!), foam shapes (you can make your own), card stock paper punches, ribbon, paper clips, a tiny picture of your child, puzzle pieces, legos, miniatures, beans, popcorn seeds, googly eyes, shells, little bells, small Christmas decorations, and confetti. Use your imagination! Look around the house. Visit your local craft store (Hobby Lobby often has beads on sale) to peruse the little stuff. Once you have a collection of tiny things, keep them handy. You may want to make a bunch of these–they are great, creative, thrifty gifts.

You will also need a big filler–doll beads or rice work well. While rice is obviously cheaper, doll beads do not disintegrate if the pouch happens to get wet! Use the 40% off coupon to get the doll beads–one bag lasts quite a while.

Okay, so now you have your fleece, vinyl, doll beads/rice, and the I Spy goodies. Now you need the details. How big or little do you want it to be. I have a couple of sizes–4″ x 4″ and 2″ x 2″. In the 4″ square, I put about 30-35 items for the child to find and about 3/4 cup of the doll beads. In the 2″ square, I put about 20 items and about 1/3 cup of doll beads. You don’t want the pouch to be very full. Little fingers need room to manipulate the bag to find the items.

Also, decide on the hole size you want. My 4″ pouches have a 2″ square hole (conveniently sized for when I make the 2″ bags). However, a friend of mine made her pouches with a 1″ square hole to make the searching more challenging. You can make the hole into different shapes too, just keep in mind that sewing the fleece on the vinyl is a wee bit slippery so you don’t want to do anything too complicated.

After you insert all the fillings, sew the opening up, trim any excess vinyl, and you have an I Spy pouch! To make it a little nicer, you may choose to include a list of what the child is to find. I like doing this because I forget what is in each little pouch. Just make your list, laminate it, attach it to a ribbon and securely sew it to the bag.

If you really get into this, you may want to have pouch themes: Christmas, outside, at the beach, etc. I would recommend making a few of these, especially the 2″ ones. This way you can slip a couple into your purse. By having a few different pouches, they will keep your child’s interest longer too.

I Spy pouch