frugality, budgeting, minimalism and saving money

silver and gold coins

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There is a simple, no bells or whistles website, THE FRUGAL SOURCE,  that lists links to  publications, blogs and websites, all having to do with saving, investing, retirement, budgeting, minimalism, do-it-yourself and using money wisely.

In my attempt to stretch our budget a bit tighter, I have found many of these sites to be helpful.  May you find something that can bless you too.

 

free budgeting apps

money coins cash currency

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“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” — Dave Ramsey, financial radio host and best-selling author.

 

Everyone can benefit from budgeting his/her money, but having a chronic illness makes your financial life more complicated…….every dollar ( at least in my situation ) must be stretched in order to be able pay all the medical bills and their bill friends that come along for the ride!

Below are links to free budgeting apps, each a little different, so you should be able to find one that fits your specific needs.

 

mint

goodbudget

wally.me

everydollar

nerdwallet

pocketguard

dollarbird

honeyfi

claritymoney

fudget

spendee

expense-iq

“Beware of little expenses: a small leak can sink a great ship.” — Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers, inventor, diplomat, and the author of The Way to Wealth

~ wendi, under the pen name Charlie, is the author of Frugal Seeds:  501 Ways to Make, Save, or Stretch a Dollar

stores with free download fridays

 

grocery cart with item

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When you are watching your pennies, or dollars if you are lucky, a freebie now and then is a nice blessing.  Below is a list of stores who provide free weekly downloads.  May you find something that can be a blessing to you!

 

Baker’s

City Market

Dillons

Food 4 Less

Foods Co

Fred Meyer

Fry’s

Gerbes

Jay C

King Soopers

Kmart

Kroger

Owen’s

Pay Less Supermarket

Quality Food Center

Ralphs

Smith’s

 

~ wendi, under the pen name Charlie, is the author of Frugal Seeds:  501 Ways to Save, Make or Stretch a Dollar

food freebies for your birthday!

lighted candles on cupcakes

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Here is a (partial) list of food freebies that you can receive on your birthday.  Happy Celebrating and saving money!  I mean who doesn’t love to save money?!

 

Abuelo’s – free treat on your birthday & anniversary

http://www.abuelos.com/join-our-mi-abuelos-rewards/

 

Applebee’s – free dessert

https://www.applebees.com/en/sign-up

 

Arby’s – free milkshake

https://arbys.com/get-deals

 

Au Bon Pain – free lunch

http://aubonpain.fbmta.com/members/UpdateProfile.aspx?Action=Subscribe&_Theme=21474836609&inputsource=w

 

Auntie Anne’s – free pretzel

http://www.auntieannes.com/terms-and-conditions

 

A & W – free root beer float

https://www.awrestaurants.com/rootys-corner

 

Baja Fresh Mexican Grill

https://www.bajafresh.com/clubbaja/

 

Baskin Robbins – free ice cream

https://www.baskinrobbins.com/content/baskinrobbins/en/thescoop.html

 

bd’s Mongolian Grill – free entree

https://www.gomongo.com/join-bds-club-mongo/

 

Bertucci’s – free treat on birthday and half birthday

http://bertuccis.com/email-club-sign-up

 

Benihana’s – $30.00 birthday certificate – must follow all instructions

http://profile.benihana.com/registration/

 

Bennigan’s – BOGO entree and free dessert

https://bennigans.com/e-club-sign-up/

 

Big Boy – free birthday dessert

http://www.bigboy.com/email-club/

 

Black Angus Steakhouse – free steak dinner w/a purchase of any dinner – 1st year

https://www.blackangus.com/contact/#terms

 

Boston Market – free dessert

https://www.bostonmarket.com/eclub/

 

Buca di Beppo – free $20 for your birthday, free pasta just for signing up

https://www.bucadibeppo.com/eclub/

 

California Pizza Kitchen – free dessert

https://cpkpizzadough.myguestaccount.com/guest/

 

Cinnabon – free treat for signing up & on your birthday

http://cinnabon.fbmta.com/members/UpdateProfile.aspx

 

Cold Stone Creamery – BOGO

https://www.coldstonecreamery.com/mycsc/

 

Culver’s – free treat & BOGO value basket just for signing up

https://www.culvers.com/delicious-perks/join-the-club/join

 

Dairy Queen – special treat on birthday and half birthday & BOGO blizzard just for signing up

https://www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/Blizzard-Fan-Club/?localechange=1&D

 

Dave & Buster’s – free $10 game play

https://www.daveandbusters.com/rewards

 

Del Taco – free milkshake

https://deltaco.com/contactus

 

Dippin’ Dots – free dippin dots

https://www.dippindots.com/dotcrazy/signup.html

 

Dunkin’ Donuts – free beverage when you sign up and on your birthday

https://www.dunkindonuts.com/en/dd-perks

 

Denny’s – free grand slam

https://www.dennys.com/search/?q=birthday

 

Don Pablos – free nachos for signing up & $10 for birthday

http://www.donpablos.com/hab-club

 

Edible Creations – free gift

https://www.ediblearrangements.com/rewards/

 

Einstein Brothers Bagels – free egg sandwich w/purchase

https://shared.einsteinbros.com/join

 

Iguana Mia – free meal and fried ice cream

//www.iguanamia.com/

 

Firehouse Subs – free medium sub

https://www.firehousesubs.com/birthday

 

Friendly’s – free sundae

https://www.friendlysrestaurants.com/login/?login=register

 

Fuddruckers – free 1/3 pound burger

http://fuddruckers.fbmta.com/members/UpdateProfile.aspx?Action=Subscribe&inputsource=w

 

GOVIDA – free treat

http://www.godiva.com/get-chocolate-rewards?baseURL=get-rewards

 

Great American Cookie – free treat

http://greatamericancookies.fbmta.com/members/UpdateProfile.aspx

 

IHOP – free meal

https://www.ihop.com/en/pancake-revolution

 

Jersey Mike’s – free sub and drink

https://www.jerseymikes.com/email-club

 

Margaritaville – free treat & free appetizer just for signing up

https://www.finsupclub.com/

 

Moe’s Southwest Grill – free burritos

https://www.moes.com/rockin-rewards

 

Olive Garden – free dessert

https://www.olivegarden.com/specials/free-birthday-appetizer-or-dessert-with-your-meal

 

Orange Leaf – $3.00 off

https://www.orangeleafyogurt.com/rewards

 

P.F.  Chang’s – free appetizer or dessert w/purchase

https://www.pfchangs.com/faq/

 

The Melting Pot – free chocolate fondue

http://pages.themeltingpotclubfondue-email.com/Profile_Center

 

The Spaghetti Warehouse – free meal & appetizer for signing up

http://www.meatballs.com/join-our-club/

 

Pinkberry – free yogurt

http://www.pinkberry.com/loyalty/

 

Planet Smoothie – free smoothie

http://www.planetsmoothie.com/eclub/

 

Red Robin – free burger

https://www.redrobin.com/royalty.html

 

Rita’s – free birthday treat, if closed on your birthday will receive on 1/2 birthday

https://www.ritasice.com/connect/birthday-club/

 

Ruby Tuesday – free burger

http://pages.rubytuesdayrestaurants.com/page.aspx?QS=5c591a8916642e737829bde7e144b86f195bb33af6913d4c5dda6ef500467c48

 

Sbarro – free birthday treat

https://sbarro.com/slicesociety

 

Shula’s – free entree

https://www.shulas.com/shulas-clubs/

 

Smashburger – free side or shake w/purchase

https://smashburger.com/smashclub/

 

Sprinkles – free treat on birthday and 1/2 birthday

http://sprinkles.com/perks

 

Starbucks – free drink on your birthday

https://www.starbucks.com/card/rewards

 

Sonny’s BBQ – free big deal combo

https://www.sonnysbbq.com/reward

 

TGI Friday’s – free dessert & free dessert or appetizer for signing up

https://www.tgifridays.com/rewards/faq

 

Western Sizzlin

https://www.sizzler.com/join-the-club

 

Wienershenitzel – free coupon & free chili dog when you sign up

http://www.wienerschnitzel.com/specials/

 

Zaxby’s – free nibbler & free sandwich meal when you sign up

https://www.zaxbys.com/zax-club/

 

Zoes Kitchen – free birthday treat

https://zoeskitchen.com/rewards

resources available from a small town library

 

bookcase books bookshelves hallway

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Here is a list of FREE things currently available from my Midwest small town library.  I have wanted to do a post on all the free stuff that is available to you at your local library as I believe it is an underutilized community resource, especially for those of us living on a limited budget.  Although I knew my small library had a lot to offer, doing research for this blog, I discovered even more resources……….so I encourage you to check out what your local library has to offer you!

FREE resources:

Museum passes

Books

DVDs

CDs

Audiobooks

Magazines

Newspapers

Free rooms that you can reserve for studying or meetings (has computer, white board, and markers)

WiFi

Charging stations for electronics

Links to two local newspapers through their website

E-books

Hoopla – movie, documentaries, TV shows, audiobooks, comic books and ebooks

Play-a-ways

Xbox & Wii games

Portable internet tablets that can checked out and used inside library

Faxing

Notary Public

Cynoculars – can be checked out for home use

Portable recharger – can be checked out for home use

WiFi hotspot – to check out for home use

Computer Lab

Monthly book club – adults

Monthly book club – homeschool grade school

Needle art group

Knitting group

Crocheting group

Ukulele classes

Paws to read – kids read to therapy dogs to increase reading skills

Story time for babies

Story time for toddlers

Saturday  crafternoons  – drop in crafts for school aged kids

Weekly teen classes

OverDrive – audiobook and book downloads

My  library rewards – receive points for checking out items and earn free food, classes and museum passes from the surrounding communities

RB digital – free e-magazines

Tumble book of the day – animated audio kids’ books

eSebco database – digital nonfiction childrens’ books

MyON books – digital childrens’ books

Exam proctoring

Genealogy room – Librarian to assist with your research needs

Childrens’ area – w/books, tables, computers and lego play area

Teen area – booths, tables, books, board games, coloring sheets

Inter-library loans

Bookmarks

Community events information

Paper recycling

 

Please take some time to see what your library has to offer you……..

 

~ wendi, under the pen name Charlie, is the author of The Frugal Seeds: 501 Ways to Save, Stretch or Make a Dollar

 

 

 

Until next time….

‘health food’ find of the week – $0.94

I have found trying to eat healthy and feeding a family on a budget to be quite challenging.    Although some would not consider this health food, I thought it was a great deal and if you are going to eat corn chips, this is a great choice.

This is Great Value (Wal-Mart’s store brand) organic, blue corn tortilla chips made with only three ingredients…….ground organic blue corn, organic sunflower oil, and sea salt and they are naturally gluten free.  One 8oz. bag is only 94 cents!  I thought this was a HUGE deal and hope you do too!

IMG_1196

 

 

list of free (and $1.00) summer activities for kids

assorted underwater animal toys

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It is hard to believe, but summer is just around the corner and with the warmer months brings more time with the kiddos.  It can get very expensive trying to find ways to entertain children/grandchildren/nieces/newphews without losing your mind or physically exhausting yourself.    Below is a list of free activities your kids can participate in and some require minimal outings on your part.

These activities may not be available in all locations.

 

Free summer reading program for kids grades 1-6

https://dispatch.barnesandnoble.com/content/dam/ccr/pdf/2018/summer-reading/bn-summer-reading-journal.pdf?x=y

 

Free summer reading program for kids to 14 years old

https://www.halfpricebooks.com/fyb/pdfs/FYBReadingLog.pdf

 

Kids to 14 years old can bowl 2 games/day free all summer.

https://www.kidsbowlfree.com/

 

Regal movie theaters are offering $1.00 movie tickets through the summer two days/week.  One of the movies is Max and is something that is not a predominately a kids movie so adults may enjoy it too!

https://www.regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express

 

Free movie/game rentals in JUNE for each A on a child’s report card at Family Video

https://www.familyvideo.com/community-involvement/

 

Every 4th grade student and their family gets a free National Parks pass to be used as much as wanted by August 31, 2018

https://www.everykidinapark.gov/game/adventure/start

 

Free family summer camps

https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/family-summer-camp

 

Free camp at apple store ages 8-12

https://www.apple.com/retail/camp/notify.html

 

Free workshops for kids ages 5-12

https://www.homedepot.com/workshops/#change_store

 

Free month Lego mini-build ages 6-14

https://shop.lego.com/en-US/minibuild-registration

 

While your at it, sign your kiddos up for a free lego magazine

https://www.lego.com/en-us/life/magazine

 

Free fishing – nationwide schedule

https://www.takemefishing.org/how-to-fish/how-to-catch-fish/free-fishing-days-2018/

 

Free classes for kids

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/locations/events-for-students

 

Free summer audiobook program for kids 13+

http://audiobooksync.com/

 

Another book program for kids

http://www.bookadventure.com/Home.aspx

 

Pottery Barn kids book club

https://www.potterybarnkids.com/customer-service/store-events.html

 

Free tokens from Chuck E Cheese for completely logs such as reading

https://www.chuckecheese.com/deals-offers/rewards-calendars

 

If you live in the Boston area, here is what I found for free

https://bostonlivingonthecheap.com/always-free-cheap/free-museum-days/

 

If you live in the Chicago area here is a link to free days at their museums

http://www.chicagoparent.com/learn/museums/museum-free-days/

 

If you live in the Houston area, here is a link to free dates/time for free museum entry

http://houmuse.org/free-admission-times/

 

If you live in the Indianapolis area, here is a link to free and discounted museums

https://indywithkids.com/free-indiana-museum-days-2017/

 

If you live in the NYC area, here is a link to free or pass as you wish museums

https://www.nyc-arts.org/collections/35/free-museum-days-or-pay-what-you-wish

 

If you live in Oregon, below is a link to free admissions

http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/12/get_free_admission_to_12_orego.html

 

If you are in southern California, below is a link to free museums

http://www.socalmuseums.org/free/

 

In the St. Louis area, here is a link to free admissions

http://www.familyattractionscard.com/single-post/2015/04/07/15-Free-Things-to-Do-in-St-Louis

 

If you are in the Washington DC area, here is a link to free activities and museums

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/free-things-to-do-in-dc/

 

Don’t forget that many libraries nationwide have free summer reading programs!  This has always been a favorite of my kids.

Free summer lunches, and in some places breakfasts, are available nationwide for kids through 18 years of age.  These are available in select public schools and parks.  Below is a link but you may have better information googling your state and free summer lunch program.

https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

 

Until next time…………………..YOU are a superhero!

money saving tips

money pink coins pig

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Do you ever feel that your money is not your own?  For me, it seems as if most of the money goes to treating my CI one way or another: special foods, supplements, medication, and medical bills.  Over the years I have had to stretch our resources so bills (especially those darn medical bills!) can be paid.  I have also learned that every little bit of saving helps, small expenses can add up quickly.  So here are a few things I do to stretch a dollar.  I would LOVE to read yours!

Reuse (cleaned) plastic zip lock bags as long as they did not previously hold meat or eggs.

Reuse (cleaned) aluminum foil as long as it did not cover meat/cheese/eggs.

Turn off lights every time you leave a room.

Plug electrical devices into power strips, turn off power strips at night.

Run dishwasher on shortest cycle for each load.

No cable TV.

Cook from scratch as much as possible- bulk ingredients are often cheaper than prepackaged foods.

Purchase meat in bulk.

Eat less meat.

Buy as many products as possible from a dollar store — price compare per unit.

Purchase clothing from thrift stores.

Shop end of season sales for clothing.

Combine errands (this is to save both gas money and personal energy!).

Keep meals simple.

Eat leftovers.

Eat out only on special occasions.

Use coupons when eating out.

Take advantage of free grocery store downloads (Kroger, K-Mart, Giant Eagle).

If possible, shop at more than one store.

Cut up empty cereal/cracker bags into sheets to use as waxed paper.

Drink mostly water.

Set grocery budget and stick to it.

Check clearance grocery section first.

Purchase bulk foods that have a long shelf life.

Get rid of all memberships and subscriptions that are not regularly used.

Use plastic grocery sacks as trash bags for small waste cans.

Use empty plastic/glass food containers as storage tubs for leftovers.

Use mesh produce bags tied in knots as a scrub pad for dishes.

Use a small dry erase board on the outside of fridge to write down leftovers waiting inside – cross off when consumed.

Save brown paper that comes in delivered packages to wrap own packages.

Save the cotton from bottles of supplements for cosmetic use.

Turn off  stove/oven when food is almost done, let it continue cooking/baking.

Open shades in winter to let the sun in and warm up the rooms.

Close shades in the summer to keep the sun out and keep rooms cooler.

Use the library to check out free books, movies and take classes.

Install led lights as bulbs go out.

Send away for all rebates immediately.

Shop discount grocery stores.

Use cash whenever possible – you spend less money.

Eat as healthy as possible so you can feel as good as possible.

When shopping on-line always look for discount codes first.

Purchase used when possible.

Cut up old clothing that can’t be donated into rags.

Use rags to save on paper towels.

Use Walmart’s saving catcher program.

Sign-up for stores’ reward programs.

Use both sides of the paper.

Use printer mistakes as scratch paper for kids’ drawings.

Pay bills on-line.

Send postcards vs. greeting cards.

Purchase generic foods when possible.

Request generic drugs when possible.

Certain medications are free at: Winn-Dixie, Meijer, Publix, Reasor’s Foods, Price ChopperHarvey’s and BI-LO.

Walmart has a list of $4.00 medications.

Visit local parks as a free source of entertainment.

Make your drinks of choice at home.

Save and reuse gift bags.

Run dishwasher only when full.

If clothes are lightly soiled wash in cold on the shortest cycle possible.

Wash laundry in cold when possible.

Hang up clothing to dry, saves wear and tear on clothing.

If you purchase juice, buy it frozen and add extra water when mixing.

Take recycling to a drop off center – no longer pay for curbside pickup.

Purchase all wrapping paper after Christmas, make sure to get some solid colors that can be used for other occasions.

Cut-up and freeze produce before it goes bad……perfect for smoothies.

If you use milk, try powdered.

Once the toothpaste tube appears empty, cut the bottom off to get to what is left.

When no more shampoo will come out of the bottle, add water and shake and instant shampoo again.

If you buy soda, cheaper to purchase a 2-liter than a single bottle at check out.

Take a thermos of water and snack with you when you run errands, it keeps you from going through a drive-thru.

Put all loose change into a container to save for a special occasion or purchase.

Purchase nonperishable food items in bulk such as beans, rice and oatmeal.

Get free food grade buckets from Walmart’s deli counter for storage.

De-clutter your home so you know what you have, avoiding duplicate purchases.

Clean out and organize your freezer so you know what you have.

Clean out your pantry – makes it easier to know what you have on hand so you don’t over purchase.

Eat what you freeze before it goes bad.

Stuff unusable socks with plastic grocery bags and put at the bottom of doors to keep out drafts.

Pay bills on time to avoid late fees (this may not always be possible).

Carry a small notebook as a price book – keep track of prices/unit so you know if you are getting a good deal or not.

If you have a garage, clean it out so your vehicle can be kept inside, save gas from having to warm it up in winter.

Comparison shop when purchasing supplements.  You can usually find them cheaper than the prices at your health care professional at places like Amazon, Vitacost, Swanson, The Vitamin Shoppe, and  Mountain Rose Herbs just to name a few.  If you sign-up for a company’s newsletter you will usually receive a coupon code.

Floor models, open boxes and things about to expire are always cheaper, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on these items.

Shopping at the end of the day at garage sales will save you even more money – people don’t want to haul all their stuff somewhere else.

Don’t purchase something just because it is a good deal, make sure you need it.

Comparison shop for car insurance, cell phones, trash and internet service and other monthly expenses or even call your current providers to see if there is a cheaper plan.

Bring your own bags – some stores charge for bags and others give you a small discount if you bring your own.

If someone asks, request gift cards as presents to your favorite restaurants or stores.

Grow any of the food you consume – even apartments have a space for one pot in which you can grow herbs or a tomato plant.

Please check out Frugal Seeds to read more money saving tips.

 

 

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The Complete Tightwad Gazette: my favorite book for money saving tips

pink and white ceramic pig coin bank

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If you are anything like me, you need to watch your pennies.  My chronic illnesses have put an enormous of strain on our budget requiring me manage it closely.  As with de-cluttering books, I have read many (and I mean many) books on how to save money, budgeting and frugality.  Some of the books were a total waste of time, others have been very helpful, but the one that changed my life more than any other money saving book is, The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette is not a typical book that reads like a story, instead it is based on the subscription newsletters that Ms. Dacyczyn published from 1990 – 1996.  Therefore, the book is divided up into smaller articles ranging from………..should you let a bar of soap dry out before using it, how to make a volleyball net with plastic rings from a 6-pack, to a basic muffin recipe, and everything in between.  Because the newsletters were published in the 1990s many of the money saving tips are now outdated and no longer relevant.  Despite the book having some out dated money saving tips, I found it extremely useful.  I did read the entire book cover to cover, all 959 pages, and it was the only book I have read that encouraged me to start thinking of as many ways as possible I could save us money, how to creatively use up what we already have, and make the most out of every single penny.   No other book has pushed me past my comfort zone, to think creatively and encourage me to search for even the smallest ways to save…………hey, it all adds up!

Because this book has been so wildly popular you should be able to check it out from your local library.  If you cannot find the Complete Tightwad Gazette, you maybe able to find one of the first three volumes:  one, two and three………the later ones would probably be more beneficial.  I have seen copies of her books at Half Price Books and Goodwill.  In my very humble opinion, it is worth the time and effort to find a copy of her book.

 

~ wendi, under the pen name Charlie, is the author of Frugal Seeds:  501 Ways to Save, Make or Stretch a Dollar

 

 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Being prepared with a chronic illness

aroma aromatic assortment bottles

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When you are chronically ill, it is extremely important that you are prepared for the unexpected.  Why you might ask?  Because many of us with CI are physically unable to walk miles through rough terrain to get necessities if roads were impassible due to a snow storm, tornado or hurricane.  Many of us have a difficult time gathering enough energy just to make it through a typical day, let alone add on the major inconveniences of what mother nature can bring unexpectedly.

In addition to natural disasters,  there are also other situations that may require us having additional supplies on hand .  These situations may include: a loss of income, an extended time period where we are physically unable to get to a store, or a high medical bill that stretches our budget even tighter making food purchases financially challenging.  So, how can we simply prepare for such events?

I believe it is extremely beneficial to always have extra supplies on hand so we can be as prepared as possible.  These things include:  food that can be stored for longer periods of time like canned and dry goods, extra medicine and supplements, hygiene products, bottled water, cleaning supplies, and anything you would need to live for a minimum of one to two months without having to purchase any additional goods.

I know this is something that can be difficult for those of us with CI to add to our already tight budget.  But if each time you went to the store (or had food delivered), you purchased one or two additional items that you already eat and/or use and add them to your collection, you would have a nice stockpile within the year.  Just keep purchasing items to add to your supply until you have an amount that makes you feel comfortable and would allow you to be self-sufficient for an extended period of time.

As those of us with CI know, life can hand you a whole bunch of crap.  We have little control over our CIs, so I believe it is important for us to have as much control as possible over other areas of our lives.  Being ready for an emergency, financial or natural, gives us this sense of control and the ability to take care of ourselves if the need ever arises.

Until next time………….You are a superhero!  (And superheros are always prepared!)