How to Save Money

There is definitely a sense of satisfaction from going to the store with nothing but a few dollars and a handful of coupons and coming home with a sack full of stuff:)   Sometimes I even have more coupons than groceries!  Playing the “coupon game” is a fun challenge with some great benefits.  For Russell and I it’s allowed us a little more freedom in our budget to do fun activities with the kiddos.  It’s also allowed us to share our savings and blessing with others.  We’ve been able to take some of our savings and donate to our local food bank.  The great thing about using the couponing technique is we can give so much more.  It’s a great feeling.  If your interested in learning how to save on your shopping experience, check out our links below and give it a try!   Who knows…you might look this excited the next time you grocery shop:) DSC_0168_edited-1

Kroger mega event savings
Budget strategies for saving meat
Amazon Prime is it worth it?
Grocery Sale Cycle
Shopping like a pro at Target
Frugal club bargains
How to save money when eating out
Bidding on Hotels and Priceline
Frugal Family Fun
How to Save 50% on Groceries
Photo Deals
Free Books!!!
Cheap Airfare
A Word about Thrift Shops
27 ways to make your Groceries last as long as possible
Remodeling on a Budget
Strategic Shopping
Diaper Deals
Online Coupon Codes
Groupon Deals and Savings
Kohl’s Rewards

Saving Money at Aldi Stores


Aldi is a relatively newer store in our area, it’s small and cheap.  The things I appreciate most about this store are that it’s small which makes grocery shopping easier especially if you have kids.  It’s super close to Kroger (across the street) so it makes it super easy to make a quick run for our favorite produce.  However, don’t let appearance fool you, sometimes the ‘cheapest’ looking stores aren’t the cheapest in town. With that said, here are a few tips if you’re looking at shopping at Aldi to keep in mind.


Bring a quarter:  you have to insert a quarter to get a basket.  But you will get the quarter back when you return the basket. Also, bring bags in order to keep the prices low, Aldi requires you bring your own bags and bag your own grocries or you can purchase bags from Aldi when you check out.


Shop produce… I’ve seen very few stores ever beat the prices at Aldi when it comes to produce and Milk. Make sure you check for quality of produce.  The picture above reflects one of my Aldi shopping trips.  You cannot use coupons at Aldi, the prices are what they are.  But the key to knowing if you’ve found your best deal is by knowing your best prices on the particular item.  Don’t assume all their prices must be low, many times consumers assume all the prices must be low on their items because of the ‘cheap’ marketing strategies.  Lastly check for  quality, most      items at Aldi are their own brand. You’ll find there are some items that compare just fine with the name brand but you’ll also find a few others that don’t.  What has been your experience at Aldi?  We’d love to know!

Dish Detergent Tabs

I have tried a handful of homemade dishwasher detergents.  I hated most of them.  I have always bought the liquid variety and wanted to make a copycat.  I tried, but it left a film on my dishes and cups that had to be re-washed.  So I gave up and tried making powder detergent.  It worked much better but clumped up and got hard as rocks.  So….what is the solution?  Homemade dishwasher detergent tabs.  YES!!  I love them, and they clean just as good as a commercial detergent.

Here is what you need:


1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda

1/4 cup salt
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup lemi shine (You may have to search, but it is sold at Wal-Mart.)

20130702-200008.jpgDump everything into a bowl.  The vinegar will cause a little fizzing.

20130702-200018.jpgMIx until everything is moist and there are no more dry spots.

20130702-200025.jpgScoop 1 tablespoon at a time into ice cube trays.

20130702-200032.jpgPress it down firmly into the mold.

20130702-200037.jpgSet them aside to sit overnight.

20130706-112425.jpgPop the tabs out of the tray.

20130706-112435.jpg 20130706-112443.jpgWhen it is time to do a load of dishes, put your tab into the detergent container and pour about 1/4 cup of vinegar into the pre-rinse department.  (I have tried to do dishes without the vinegar and they are spotty every time….so go ahead and just use it!)

Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

Recently a recipe I was using called for a can of sweetened condensed milk.  I happened to have a can in my pantry, so I went ahead and used it.  It got me thinking though…..surely I can make this stuff.  Since I began my quest to make all our food from scratch, I have discovered that there are very few things that I cannot make on my own.  (Sure wish I had a cow!)

As I researched how to make this sugary milk, I learned a couple of things.  You can make it from fresh milk, but it takes a couple of hours.  Milk is made up of about 80% water and you want to get that out in order to condense it.  I will give this healthier option a try in the future, but the recipe I am going to share now is super easy and only takes a couple of minutes……in the MICROWAVE!


Here is what you need:  (I found this recipe here.)

1 1/4 cup Dried milk

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup sugar.



Dump your water and milk powder in a microwave safe bowl and mix well.  Make sure all the bumps are gone.



Add your sugar and stir once more.


Put it in the microwave for about 1 minute and stir well.

That is it!  This will make 14 ounces which is the equal  to one can of the stuff on the shelves!

Homemade Lasagna

I have been building up to this for days!  I decided to venture into cheese making and made some mozzarella and ricotta cheese.  Once I knew photo(47)I was going to make lasagna, I wanted to do all of it from scratch.  So…short of raising the cow I did it!  It was super fun and TASTY!!

Here is what you need:

12  ounces mozzarella cheese

8 ounces ricotta cheese

9 strips lasagna noodles

1 pound hamburger meat, browned (You could use sausage if you prefer.)

26 ounces pasta sauce

1 teaspoon salt



Dump your meat, pasta sauce, ricotta cheese and salt into a bowl and mix well.


Use about 1/4 cup of your sauce and spread on the bottom of your pan.  Then, lay three noodles across the bottom. (I used fresh pasta and did not cook them ahead of time.  If you are using packaged lasagna noodles you don’t need to boil them, but add about 1/3 of a cup of water to your mixture.)


Use about 1/3 of your mixture and spread evenly over your pasta noodles.  Repeat this two more times until you have three layers of lasagna in the pan.


Spread your mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.  Since I used my homemade mozzarella cheese, I just sliced it rather than grate it.  I wanted to get good tasty chunks of cheese!!!

Bake on 350 for 30-40 minutes.

This is fantastic with some cheesy garlic bread!!!  ENJOY 🙂

Remodeling…..on a budget!

photo(18) photo(15)

With five kids in the house, the bathrooms can get pretty nasty.  I feel like I clean them all the time and still feel like I am visiting the local gas station every time I walk into their bathroom.


After bleaching the floor, and changing out the base boards, I still couldn’t walk past this bathroom without feeling like I needed a bottle of disinfectant.  So I did what any SANE woman would do……..I tore out the floor!


I decided that if I tiled UP the wall, maybe, just maybe, I could get this bathroom clean once and for all!!


In preparation for tile, I pulled up the linoleum and cut out three feet of the sheet rock.  We put in the cement backer board and installed the tile.  (Since I am NOT an expert on how to tile….I will tell you that everything I learned came from You Tube.  I watched about 20 videos teaching me how to tile and I did it!)

photo(16)I stained the cabinets.  (This little job cost me less than $10 and it made a drastic difference!  I purchased the Minwax PolyStains.  You do a light sand and two coats of stain to finish the job!! THIS is the video I watched to know how to do it.)


Painted the walls, bought a new shower curtain and TADA…..New, improved, non-stinky bathroom!!!!

I talked to a contractor, and he told me he would charge me $900 in labor to do this job….plus the materials.  That sounded INSANE!!  Once I got two days into the project, I understood.  This was a LOT of work.  But in the end, I am glad I did it.  I love looking at it knowing that I did it!!!  And it saved me a lot of money.  Here is the break down of what  I spent:

$20 for a tile saw on Craigslist

$75 on tile

$12 on thin set mortar

$50 on cement backer board and screws

$15 on grout

$20 caulk, bathtub trim, and sponge

$15 on shower curtain

$30 on paint and paint supplies

$10 on stain and sandpaper for cabinets

$25 Misc. stuff (mirror clips, sheet rock knife, base boards, etc…)

I was amazed at how little the cost of supplies actually are.  The majority of the money spent on a remodel goes to labor….because it is laborious!  I am inspired to watch more videos and learn how to do simple remodeling projects for the rest of my house.  We have put many of them off because it is so expensive to hire people to do things for us.

Maybe you don’t have a smelly bathroom that needs a make over, but before you put off another project let the experts who posted over at You Tube give you a few lessons on how to do things for yourself!!


100 Household Ways To Use Vinegar

I’ve been doing some reasearch on ways to use vinegar and I was amazed at what I found.  If your like me, I have 10 different cleaning products in my house.  Window cleaner, deodorizers, carpet cleaners ect.  I then realized I probably spend more money than I should on cleaners, whearas a 4Liter bottle of white vinegar cost between $1.79 and works just as well.  Not only is vinegar a natural organic bi-product of fruits, vegetables and grains, it’s shelf life is almost indefinite.  I also wanted to mention while vinegar does have a distinct odour, it’s a clean smell that dissipates quickly and 97% of us already stock vinegar in our homes which makes for a frugalistic deal!

100 household ways to use viniger
Cleaning Kitchen
1. Naturally disinfect all surfaces {mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle}
2. Scrub stuck on stains {make a paste with vinegar and baking soda and scrub with a sponge}
3. Clean your dishwasher {pour 1 cup into the bottom of the dishwasher and run it with no dishes inside}
4. In place of “Jet Dry” {fill the Jet Dry cup on your dishwasher with vinegar instead}
5. Clean out your coffee maker {pour 2 c. white vinegar and 1 c. water into the coffee maker and run a full brew cycle. Remove and replace the filter and run 2 cycles of just water}
6. Disinfect cutting boards
7. Clean and disinfect pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, etc.
8. Clean your hands with vinegar to remove strong onion and garlic odors
9. Keep sponges and kitchen rags fresh by soaking in vinegar overnight. {rinse them before using again}
10. Clean “un-washable appliances” {spray white vinegar on electric griddles, George Foreman grills, etc. and then just wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel.}
11. Unclog your drains Pour about 1/4 cup of white vinegar or vinegar concentrate down the drain and let stand at least 20 minutes. Another very effective cleaning action can be created using a quarter cup of baking soda and then adding the vinegar – the resulting foaming action will clear the pipes. Flush the drain with hot water. Freshly boiled water works best.
12. Natural de-greaser {clean with vinegar and then rinse with cold water}
13. Microwave: {pour 1/4 c. vinegar and 1 c water in a glass bowl; microwave on high for 5 minutes; wipe clean}
14. The steam from a boiling a bowl of vinegar and water can loosen caked-on food and get rid of odors in the microwave, too.
15. Mix vinegar with citrus juice to freshen your garbage disposal {citrus peals work great too}
16. Naturally clean your fruits and veggies by soaking them in 1 part vinegar and 1 part water
17. Clean a non-self-cleaning oven by spraying the inside with vinegar and then sprinkling with baking soda. Let sit for 5-10 minute and then scrub with a sponge
18. Clean your stovetop
19. Remove hard water spots from stainless steel by wiping with a cloth dipped in vinegar
20. Clean the insides of water bottles and coffee thermos by “swishing” with vinegar — this will naturally kill any bacteria lingering at the bottom where you might not be able to reach
Cleaning Bathroom
21. Clean counters and all surfaces with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water
22. Toilets {pour white vinegar directly in the toilet, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub with toilet brush}
23. Mirrors {Christy’s frugal gal recipe for glass cleaner}
24. Showers and bathtubs
25. Stinky towels {wash towels with 1/2 c. of white vinegar in the rinse cycle}
26. Mold and mildew {mix 3 T. white vinegar, 1 t. Borax, and 2 c. hot water. Shake, spray, and let it soak for a few minutes, then rub the area with a soft brush or cloth}
27. Remove hard water stains from your shower nozzle by pouring 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a plastic bag. Use a rubber band to attach the bag to the nozzle and let soak for 10-15 minutes.
28. Remove limescale buildup on your shower door or in your tub by heating a small container of vinegar to the boiling point. Pour vinegar over the problem areas and it should loosen the lime.
29. Wash your shower curtain by putting in the washing machine with a few old towels. Use 1/2 c. laundry detergent and 1/2 c. baking soda for the wash cycle, and then 1 c. vinegar for the rinse cycle.
30. Clean the grimy soap build up from your soap dish by soaking it in 1 part vinegar and 1 part warm water
general home cleaning…
31. Wood floors {mix 1 c. vinegar with 1 gal. warm water; clean floors with this mixture and then dry with a clean cloth}
32. Use it in a steam mop to clean most surfaces
33. Leather sofas/chairs {spray white vinegar over surface and “buff” with a soft clean cloth}
34. Walls {wipe down pretty much any wall surface with a cloth dampened with white vinegar}
35. Disinfect kid’s toys, books, etc. using 1 part vinegar and 1 part water.
36. Remove dirt and stains from your mattress by blotting with a clean cloth dipped in vinegar. If the spot is still damp, simply sprinkle a little baking soda over the area and vacuum it up.
37. Clean the filters in your dehumidifier / humidifier by soaking them in vinegar for 1 hour
38. Clean mini blinds by soaking them in a bathtub filled with warm water and a few cups of vinegar
39. Spot clean carpets by spraying a little vinegar on the spot and blotting it with a damp cloth
40. Wipe down the inside of all your refrigerator shelves and drawers for a food-safe alternative to traditional cleaners.
41. Wipe down electronics {computer keys, mouse, phone keypad, etc} by wiping with a rag dipped in vinegar.
42. Clean residue and build-up on the inside of your washing machine by dumping in 2 c. of vinegar and running it on the quick cycle.
43. Remove water rings from wood furniture by mixing 1 part white vinegar and 1 part olive oil. Dip a soft cloth in the mixture and rub on the affected area {going with the grain}. Then wipe with a clean, dry cloth.
Laundry – Simply add about 1/2 c. to your rinse cycle to…
44. Remove built-up soap residue
45. Reduce static cling
46. Naturally soften your clothes, towels, blankets, etc.
47. Stop colors from running
48. Whiten whites
49. Reduce irritation for those with sensitive skin
50. Prolong the life of your tights and nylons
51. Remove lingering odors {cigarette smell, smoke, gas}
52. Eliminate that “moldy” smell from damp towels and work-out clothes
53. Remove yellow stains from sweat (Check out Christy’s frugal gal recipe for stain remover)
54. Remove blood stains {let soak for 10 minutes}
55. Remove ink stains {mix 2 parts vinegar and 3 parts cornstarch, rub on stain, let dry, wash}
when ironing, use vinegar to help with…
56. Removing wrinkles {mist clothing with 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water}
57. Cleaning the inside of your iron {fill the water reservoir with white vinegar}
58. Cleaning the metal plate of your iron {mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part salt and scrub the plate with this paste}
59. Eliminating scorch marks {rub the scorched area with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and then blot with a clean towel}
Health & Beauty:
60. Hair rinse {in place of conditioner}. Just pour 1/2 c. or so over your hair and rinse well
61. Clean your children’s retainers or Invisalign braces by soaking them in vinegar for a few minutes
62. Strengthen your nails by regularly dipping them in vinegar
63. Prevent infections by spraying small cuts with vinegar
64. Dry up a cold sore by dabbing it with a cotton ball soaked in vinegar
65. Drink 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to help relieve constipation and/or heartburn
66. Kill lice by spraying warm apple cider vinegar onto the scalp just before the final rinse. This will break down the “glue” the nits/lice use to attach to the hair
67. Soften your cuticles by soaking in a bowl of white vinegar for 5 minutes
68. Get rid of blemishes by mixing 1 part vinegar with 10 parts water and dabbing the solution on your freshly-washed face with a clean cotton ball
69. Soothe sunburned skin by soaking a towel in vinegar and then laying over the burned areas
70. Naturally whiten your teeth by dipping a toothbrush in white vinegar and brushing your teeth {only do this once a week and rinse thoroughly with water after you are finished}
71. Put cider vinegar on the pad of a bandage and cover your warts. Replace with a fresh bandage every night and the warts should be gone within a week
72. Mix a few tablespoons of vinegar in your babies bath water to help with diaper rash
73. Remove the hairspray residue from your flat iron or curling iron by wiping with a rag dipped in vinegar
74. Clean brushes and combs by letting them sit in a 1 gallon of water mixed with 1 c. of vinegar
Home & Garden:
75. Clean your windshield wipers with vinegar to keep them functioning properly
76. Loosen rust — like rusted-on screws or rusty patio furniture by soaking the areas in vinegar
77. Keep flying bugs away from your outdoor parties by putting cider vinegar in a shallow dish away from your food. By the and of the night, your dish will be full of “floating bugs”!
78. Make a fly trap for your kitchen by filling a mason jar half full of cider vinegar. Then punch holes in the lid and put the lid back on. The flies will crawl through, but won’t be able to get out again.
79. Mosquito spray — just pour vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz on your skin. The vinegar smell will go away after a few minutes, but you should be bug-free all night!
80. Clean the grill by scrubbing the grates with vinegar and scrubbing with a grill brush
81. Spray it on your weeds as a natural weed killer
82. Clean all your patio furniture with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle
83. Clean your lawn mower blades {spray vinegar on the blades and scrub off}
84. Keep cats out of your children’s sand box by pouring vinegar around the outside of the box
85. Put a few drops of vinegar in your dog’s water bowl to neutralize his/her urine and prevent those ugly brown/yellow patches in your grass
86. Keep flies away from your pool by pouring vinegar around the outside edges of the pool
87. Spray ripening melons and pumpkins with vinegar to prevent mold from growing on the skin
88. Quickly clean bird droppings by spraying the area with vinegar and then wiping with a cloth/sponge. This will also disinfect the area.
89. Keep uninvited guests out of your veggie garden by soaking several rags in vinegar and then placing them around your garden. Repeat the process every 7-10 days.
90. Before you start painting, wipe down the surfaces with a cloth dipped in vinegar and let dry. This will assure that all the dirt and grease is removed and the paint will adhere properly.
91. Remove the “skunk smell” from dogs {or anything else} by washing with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and then rinsing thoroughly with warm water.
92. Make your favorite vinaigrette or salad dressing
93. Tenderize tough cuts of meat mixing a little vinegar in with your other marinating ingredients.
94. Use it to “pickle” almost anything!
95. Freshen smelly shoes by spraying the insides with vinegar, placing them in a paper bag, and then putting the bag in the freezer overnight.
96. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water when boiling an egg to prevent the yolks from turning brown
97. Add 2 tablespoons to the water when poaching an egg to stop it from “spreading” out
98. Naturally sanitize baby bottles/nipples by washing with vinegar and warm water and then storing in the freezer
99. Remove sticky residue from labels, stickers, gum, etc. by rubbing the area with a rag dipped in vinegar
100. If a child has an “accident” on a mattress, clean it with a solution of vinegar and water. Afterwards, pour some baking soda onto the mattress, and brush or vacuum the residue once it’s dry.

Original content from Readers Digest, and


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