Cleaning Up

This blog seems to have become a saving money blog of late. Mostly it is because I feel guilty about staying at home with my son who at 14 is technically able to supervise himself. In reality though, I have noticed a few seriously worrying judgement calls on his behalf lately so I’m sticking around for a bit longer. Perhaps the year he starts High School is not the year to disappear back into the world of work. It’s a funny age for teenage boys, 14. Still interested in lego and trading cards, but also interested in girls.

So to make myself feel better I do what I can to save cash. One of the ways I save serious money is by making laundry detergent. I found this recipe on The Simple Dollar blog and have been using it for the last year. The ingredients are simple and cheap, other than a big bucket with a lid, no special tools are needed and best of all, it is really fun! I love messing around with gloopy buckets of stuff, and this is most certainly gloopy buckets of stuff.

All you need is

  • One bar of soap – I use Fels Naptha laundry soap but I have heard of people who use any bar of soap you might have on hand. Not the beauty bar types, the old fashioned bar of soap is what you need.
  • One cup of washing soda – some supermarkets stock this, mine doesn’t so I buy it at Walmart.
  • One half cup of borax – also found at Walmart. This is optional but I always put it in. People seem to be scared of borax but I use it all the time. It is great for cleaning up dog pee, I know this thanks to my insecure Chihuahua.

You will also need a clean 5 gallon bucket with a lid, (Home Depot, Lowes, your garage etc.) A big saucepan, spoon and grater. You can use old utensils if you have them or do what I do, clean them really thoroughly afterwards and them soak them in baking soda to get rid of the smell of laundry detergent afterwards if it lingers.

To make the detergent simply warm water in the saucepan – fill it up no specific quantity is necessary. While the water is warming, grate the laundry soap and add to the warm to hot water incrementally. When it has dissolved add another handful. Keep going until all the soap is dissolved into the water.

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Ingredients, not shown is the bar of soap.

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Soap grated ready for dissolving into water.

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Soap dissolved into water. The whole house smells of laundry soap now.


Add the soapy water to the 5 gal bucket and top it up to almost the top.

Stir in the washing soda and then the borax. You will feel the liquid start to thicken up. Put the lid on and let it all cool down, I leave it overnight. 

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Mix in washing soda and borax.

You will be left with a lovely solid jello like substance. You can use it like this or give it a big stir and break it up a bit. I give it a stir because it is fun. Sometimes I get my hands in there too, Freud would probably have something to say about that.

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One final stir and ready to use.

I use about a cup or so of this stuff per load and it works as well as any shop bought detergent. A major bonus is that it is a lot less fragranced. My husband and son are delicate flowers who have to have the un-perfumed shop bought stuff, this is fine for them. I have been using it for about a year in my machine and my machine seems just fine. I don’t know about HE machines, I don’t have one, but I can’t imagine it would be a problem, it dissolves really quickly into the laundry water. 

Just think how much less plastic there would be in the landfills if even 1% of us did this! And think of the electricity saved if we then line dried those those clothes instead of putting them in the dryer! Being English, where we all line dry our clothes as often as possible I am a fan of line drying. Plus everything smells nicer line dried. The only thing I can’t do is line dry my towels. We live in a severely hard water area and line dried towels can practically stand up on their own in the bathroom. They absorb much better though, and if you ever need to exfoliate your luck is in! A quick rub down with a line dried towel in this area is like an expensive microdermabrasion – another way to save money! OK off my soap box now, haha get it?

The Simple Dollar website estimates the cost per load as around $0.03 I haven’t crunched the numbers myself but that seems a little low for me. I use the more expensive laundry soap because I found it cleaned better than hand soap. I can’t imagine it’s much more than say $0.05 per load though, if that. I don’t actually pay anything for it because I confiscate all cash that comes to the laundry in pockets and put them in a jar. When I need something, say soap, I use the cash in there. My family knows the rules. I find that this bucket will last me several months which also means I don’t have to carry big bulky laundry detergent home from the store. Yet another bonus.

Give it a go and tell me how you get on. If you have any questions I am happy to answer them in the comments. Happy glooping!



Freebie Play Time

After signing up for two freebie sites (or product review sites to give them their proper name) I have had tremendous fun trying all the products that I have been sent. Of course being me, I take the product testing very seriously and am now at the stage where those around me groan when I say, “Do you prefer this flavor or that one?” My teenage son is just waiting for the time I get a video game to review. I hate to tell him that as I’m not the demographic for that I probably won’t get one at all! Even though I have played video games since Asteroids was popular, and I was fantastic.

So, one of the products that I was sent by Influenster to test and review was nail polish called SinfulColors. Now let me start by saying I am not a girly girl. I don’t regularly have the time or inclination to paint my nails, plus as I am constantly cooking or gardening or painting something I find that the nail polish has a tendency to migrate into my bread dough or onto the trim in the dining room. It gets in the way, and then after a day or so it looks so scruffy and the day I spent feeling ladylike and polished is marred by the week of scruffy nails, until I can find the nail polish remover, which has been used to remove sticker residue from something and left in the garage, with the top off, and evaporated meaning a trip to Walgreens, etc. etc. you get the point. But in the interests of being a good Influenster I did actually paint my nails, and then I made bread, and then I weeded the back yard, and then I cleaned the toilet, and then I unblocked the sink in the bathroom, a typical day really. And at the end of the day, it was all still on! I was amazed. Actually it stayed on and looking really good for four days or so, which considering the punishment I give my hands was incredible!

Now, as the color I was sent to test was a lovely blue color, I did feel a little mutton dressed as lamb-ish but the funny thing was my husband said he liked seeing me wearing nail polish – he has never said such a thing in almost 30 years of being together! He quickly qualified it by saying, “It means you have taken some time to pamper yourself.” Ah, what a love bug!

As I am unlikely to wear blue nail polish much, I decided to see what else I could do with it.


The traditional way to use nail polish.


I think a whole set of wine glasses in different colors would be a fantastic gift!


No more wondering if it’s the hot or cold tap in the laundry room!



Son on an almost daily basis: “Mum, which key is the front door key?” Me before: “The one by the car key.” Son: “There’s two by the car key!” Me now: “The blue one.” Son: “OK, cool!”

This range of nail polish can be found @Walgreens.

#SinfulColors #contest #Influenster #GotItFree

Freebie Heaven from #Influenster and #BzzAgent

In a previous post I checked out Influenster and BzzAgent as product review sites and I must say I was somewhat skeptical. Do companies really send you stuff for nothing in the hopes that you like it and review it? What if I hate it? Anyway, I signed up, completed all the surveys available and did a few product reviews and then moved on with my life for about three weeks. Well, this week I reaped the rewards and received my first Influenster VoxBox and my first BzzAgent package as well!

As one of the tasks asked of the Influenster people is you create and upload yourself opening the VoxBox I also got to create and upload my first YouTube video. It’s really fun and I can see why people enjoy it so much. Here’s the link if you are interested. Bear in mind it’s the first one I’ve done and I haven’t really had time to set up my channel yet!

I got some fun stuff in my Influenster box:

Freebies from Influenster

Freebies from Influenster 

In this little box of fun – the #SurfsUpVoxBox I got the following:

A coupon for a free Jamba Juice Smoothie Kit and a $1 off coupon, a 2oz bottle of Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun, a First Aid Shot Therapy pain relief liquid, a bottle of SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish and finally a tube of Covergirl Bombshell Curvaceous by LashBlast Mascara. This is about $20 worth of products but let’s be honest I wouldn’t probably buy blue nail polish on a regular basis. I do buy mascara though and After Sun.

Also from BuzzAgent I received a 3 lb bag of Purina Beyond Tuna and Egg dog food valued at about $8.99 and two $3 off coupons to share. And on the way from them are three new flavors of Crest Toothpaste to try. Again I wouldn’t usually buy Purina dog food because I am very particular about the food I feed my dogs but this looks better than the typical purina stuff, no corn, soy or grain for a start. I feel a product face off coming!

Buzz Agent Freebie

Buzz Agent Freebie

Once you receive these products the idea is you use them and then start conversations about them online. Yes, I have blue nail polish on as I type this, which seems a little at odds with my personality but hey I’ll try it!

As I’m still in the using everything phase I will post product reviews at a later date. I’m very interested to see if my dogs like the idea of tuna and egg food. I’m not sure how nice that sounds to be honest but who knows?

So far I’m pretty impressed with both BzzAgent and Influenster, honestly I thought it would be more trial sizes and coupons but I think they want you to enjoy using and reviewing these products. And come on, who doesn’t like getting free stuff in the mail?


Saving Time AND money!

Like everyone else in the world, I do not have enough time to do everything I want to right now. Add to that the fact that I am not able to go out much at the moment – bad back again! Sigh…and that money is tight and I start to feel deprived. Deprived is dangerous to living on a budget, it sneaks up on you and whispers in your ear, “You’ve got so much going on right now, why not have a cookie or ten?” To combat this and being unable and unwilling to pay for a $5 frappachino – seriously how do you spell that, am I close? – I decided to make up a batch of iced coffee. The inspiration came from Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman show but I have changed it up somewhat, I like my iced coffee sweetened so I add it to the pitcher. Saves me adding it later. If you are opposed to sugar just leave it out, if you like it stronger add more coffee, do what you want, it’s your coffee and this is America, damn it!

In a pitcher add half a packet (6 oz) of good quality coffee. This makes a big difference, don’t cheap out on coffee, not ever. I’d rather have no coffee than weak or tasteless coffee.

Top up the pitcher to the top with cold water – I use a 1 gallon pitcher. Actually I use two you’ll see why later. These pitchers cost $2 each from Walmart.

Then give the coffee a stir and leave it to steep for a good few hours, I usually leave it overnight.

In the morning – or 8 hours later or how ever long you can wait, start straining. Now this does take a while but just go about your day and let it do its thing.

At this point I make a simple syrup of one cup sugar and one cup water, put them in a saucepan and warm until the sugar dissolves completely, then put it in the pitcher.

When it’s all drained stick it in the fridge and let it chill down. This pitcher lasts my family a week or two and it’s never gone bad on me. I find that it feels super decadent but it’s not too bad for calories, especially if I avoid the extras which I usually do, using almond milk helps. You could omit the syrup and use a sweetener like Stevia if you wanted to. Like I said, it’s your coffee.





Here’s my serving suggestion – ice cubes, almond milk and some whipped cream. I don’t always add the whipped cream, because I don’t always have it in the fridge. I have also blended it to make a frappachino and it’s ok but it does separate pretty quickly. I have also added caramel sauce or chocolate sauce or Toffee syrup which was delish but my teenager found it and the expensive bottle of syrup is now in the recycling having been drained in a couple of days! Kids, sometimes only the thought that one day my son will be a parent and all his stuff will be appropriated is all that keeps me going.

I’m going to have one right now.

Saving Money in the Kitchen

I have never been much of a one for boxed or convenience food. I also don’t own a microwave, not because I have anything against them, I’m sure they have their uses, it’s just I never really got the hang of them. Food either came out desiccated and rubbery or desiccated and still frozen in the middle. Plus I have very limited counter space. I used to have a microwave until one weekend I put it on top of the fridge to make more room, and there it stayed totally unused for about two years until someone else needed a microwave and I gave it away. That was about ten years ago and only once or twice since have I thought it would be useful.

Going back to basics in the kitchen can be really useful. The first few times I tried to make mayonnaise it was a complete failure. I could not get the eggs and oil to emulsify, I tried a food processor, a blender and an immersion blender. After wasting so many eggs I was practically crying with frustration and as a last resort got out a balloon whisk and had one more try. It worked, I am now the queen of mayonnaise – but it struck me as interesting that the manual tool is where I had to begin. I can now make blender mayonnaise, I figured out what I was doing wrong while I was standing at the counter whisking a drop of oil into an egg yolk for twenty minutes, but I don’t think I would have figured it out without my trusty balloon whisk.

So I decided to go back to basics with something else – sugar. I use quite a bit of sugar, I bake every week and I usually have granulated, sometimes superfine, confectioners and light brown and brown sugars in my cupboards.

I have seen elsewhere tutorials on how to make brown sugar and I will go into that another day, but then I wondered if I could save money making my own sugars.

The first thing I realized is that buying superfine sugar (we call it castor sugar in the UK) is a complete waste of money. If you really feel you need it just plop the required amount of granulated sugar in the food processor and pulse a few times and hey presto! Superfine sugar. It doesn’t even require a recipe. Now, never buy that overpriced sugar again! Next up – confectioners/icing/powdered sugar. It is almost as easy except for each cup of granulated sugar you put in the food processor add a tablespoon of cornstarch. Then zap for a few minutes until you have confectioners/icing sugar. Ta-dah! You just saved some money. Again it’s not really a recipe but here are some pics:



Yes, a tip – let it all settle after a few mins before you take the top off the food processor or you get confectioners sugar on the ceiling, walls, dogs, your own eager face, and the inside of your lungs. I speak from experience.

Here are the numbers:

On sale granulated sugar was $2.79 for 4lb. If you use a quarter of that bag to make a pound of powdered sugar it would cost you $0.70. Powdered sugar was $1.99 per one pound bag on the same day. Add on a few cents for cornstarch and I’d estimate I’m saving $1.24 per bag.

This is assuming that one pound of granulated sugar makes one pound of powdered sugar – the mushroom cloud will have thrown off my figures a little! I’m never buying powdered sugar again.

It’s even more for superfine sugar. Dominos sugar is listed at $2.17 a pound. Use the granulated that’s been processed in your food processor and you’d save $1.47 a pound.

Money in the bank!

As to quality I’d say it is not as fine as bought powdered sugar – I tried using my blender instead of food processor and it was much finer, less of a cloud too. I’ll be using the blender from now on!

Time for Creativity!

My last few blog posts (like my life) have been all about saving money but this week I needed a creativity fix. I was vaguely pondering what to do when one of my neighbors put this on the sidewalk. Now putting things on the sidewalk is code in our locale for, “Please someone take this hideous thing that the dog has chewed to pieces because I just can’t stand to look at it for one more day. Plus I have replaced it with something better and/or found the dog a new home.’

So I sent my son and my husband over there and this is what they came back with:


In fact I had to send them back for it because my husband thought it had woodworm (English version of termite damage!) and wouldn’t bring it over. It turned out to be dog tooth indentations and gnawing – poor bored dog!

But I liked the shape and figured the worst of the damage could be covered up. I spent Monday prepping and sanding the cabinet and filling most of the holes with filler. I say most because I ran out of filler. Then headed off to the store for supplies. Tuesday was painting and more painting. Luckily it is really dry and warm here so the paint dried within an hour. I decided to stencil a pattern on the drawer and it took me a while to figure out a pattern. I have a cricket (diecut) machine so I cut out my stencils to the size I wanted and got stippling.

Here is the cabinet half way done:


To make this a useful pretty thing I decided to tile the top – plus I have never laid a tile in my life and wanted to have a go. I chose little white mosaic tiles, they come on a big sheet so it was really easy to use, plus they were the cheapest tile in the place. I added some trim to hide the edge of the tiles and some more dog damage and ended up with this:

You can see Cesar taking a long look at it, no peeing or chewing allowed!

I’m thinking of using this as an outdoor buffet/cocktail cabinet but after the husband has seen it he wants it inside. I’m not so keen though, it is still a little, shall we say ‘rustic’? I don’t mind imperfections outside but I think it is a little rough for the dining room!

Well I got dirty and paint splattered, used a saw and learned how to tile. That’s a good couple of days work!

Cost of all materials: $75 or so.

Now, I really need a potting bench, I wonder if I can make one?


Still saving money over here!

Recently I have been investigating earning/saving cash in the home. In previous posts I mentioned saving money by bundling home phone, internet and TV and also by changing our mobile phone plan. Well, after an hour long phone call with AT&T (no I didn’t get paid to write this review!) I managed to save $1,428 a year on everything. Plus I will get $150 in a rebate card. I get more TV channels too, even though all I really care about is BBC America, don’t judge me I’m a Doctor Who fanatic, I’m British remember? I grew up watching Doctor Who and I will never give it up, ever, not even for a jammy dodger. If you know what a jammy dodger is you are either a Brit too or a Whovian. Which ever you are, welcome. One tip I can offer you, call and speak to a representative. Don’t order from them right away, but take their number, then call another representative a few days later. Tell them what the other person said and then go back to that first person. I didn’t plan on doing this but it is how it worked out and we saved another $8.00 a month. Small potatoes I know but, and say this with me, every penny counts. $8 a month is almost $100 a year, it can be in your bank account or theirs, you choose.

I have also looked at a gift card saving site, called (also not paid to review this site, honestly!). It is really a simple idea, if you know you are going to have an expenditure in say Lowe’s, go online and take a look at their offers. Today there is a Lowe’s gift card with a value of $74.84 for sale for $67.66. That’s 9.6% savings. Quantities are, of course, limited as are the stores they offer but most of the major chains seem to be represented, as of today – Starbucks 18% off, Target 5% off, Aaron Brothers 20%, Marshals 16% off. These are not coupons, they are gift cards so you can use them as cash in the store and with a coupon. You might even be able to pay off a balance on a store credit card with them. Most of them are in-store only, check if you want them for online purchases. There are no other fees for you to pay and no postage. I ordered a PepBoys card for my husband’s oil change, well his car’s oil change really, and everything went fine. No problems at all, the card arrived in a few days and you can see on the picture we paid $27.61 for a card worth $31.27. It just takes a bit of advance thinking. Keep looking for great deals and save up for the holidays. You can sell unused gift cards to them too, I haven’t done that so I don’t know how it works exactly but their website says you choose the amount you want for the card, mail it off when it sells and get paid once you confirm postage. They take 15% of the selling price. If you have unused gift cards you will never use, it’s better to get something for them than nothing.


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I must say that I am loving the money saving. It is getting a bit addictive, to be honest. I have found that I do have my deal breakers – iPhone, BBC America, heinz ketchup looking at you all here – but being mindful of what the cash is going on makes me appreciate those things even more.

As always, I am happy to answer any questions if I can, I love to hear from people! Makes me feel loved.



Finances Part Three – Still Saving Pennies

The next installment of saving cash or earning at home really focuses on a few reviews of what I call micro earning. You’re not going to pay the mortgage with any of these but as every penny counts, these small amounts add up over time to something worth having. I often save these up for certain times of the year, you’ll see what I mean as we go.




Viggle is an app for smart phones where you can check in to T.V. programs and music you are listening to and earn points for every minute you’re checked in. For example that morning TV show, or Ellen or pretty much any program you watch you can get points for. You also get points for music you might be listening to. The app does have some bugs, sometimes it just wont ‘hear’ the T.V. show at all and you have to put it in manually. Once you have some points you can redeem them for gift cards (my preferred option) or discounts for some stores, even save them for ever for a cruise! Now, I am not much of a numbers person but I did a bit of math – and if you just check in to regular shows you have to be logged in for 50 hours to earn $1 on a gift card. This is an approximate number, some gift cards are more or less and I’m not good at dealing with numbers that run to 8 decimal places! But, there are ways to ‘super charge’ those check ins. Some programs are promoted by Viggle and you can get double or triple points, or if you watch say six out of eight episodes you could get 1,000 points in a ‘streak bonus’. There are ads to watch too for a few points here and there and games like MyGuy where you choose which basketball player (for example) is going to do something good next and compete with other live players who are logged into the game. Sort of like fantasy football I think? Yes OK I never really figured out MyGuy, not being into sports but if you are you might enjoy it. Like I said, you won’t be paying the mortgage with Viggle but I save up and either use it to get a redbox movie rental free every now and then or turn it into Christmas gift cards like iTunes, Best Buy or Barnes and Noble. I have had no problem redeeming the points.

Checkout 51 is a coupon rebate website, I wrote about it briefly last post but I have actually used it for a little while now. The new offers come out each Thursday on a smartphone app and include a bunch of stuff I never buy like Arizona Iced Tea for example, and then after you scan your receipt they credit you with (in this case) $0.25. Earn $20 and they promise to send you a check. I will be waiting a long time for my check I think, but if I can get $20 by Thanksgiving I’ll be happy. Each week they do have a few basics that most people buy, this week for example it was $0.50 off a gallon of milk, which I don’t buy, $0.50 off eggs which I always buy, and $0.25 of tomatoes which I also usually buy. So $0.75 for me this week. Most people would probably be $1.25 at least a week. $65 a year for scanning a receipt. There are also pretty cool recipes and a chance to win $500 if you upload a receipt over $60. The funny thing is I suspect they may use mTurk to deal with these receipts as I have on occasion transcribed receipts much like this! I might come across my own receipt and get paid twice! You can also use a regular coupon for the items in question. This would be great for serious couponers . . . couponeers?

Gigwalk – using a smart phone app you become a secret shopper and log in to assignments for shops/businesses near you. It’s pretty cool, the map shows you jobs that need doing, you select one and off you go and do what they want. For example, I have seen assignments that ask for a photograph of the inside of a restaurant, or asking a customer service rep a question. You then have to compile a short report/upload receipts etc and then get paid.  I have tried this twice over the last three years and both times I have found that there are no assignments in my area – I tried it the second time because I had moved and I thought there might be more. Thing is it’s just not worth driving 20 miles to earn $5.00. I never earned a penny from this.



Influenster – this is a review website for people who like to rate things. It is pretty time consuming and there is no cash involved, just the vague promise that you might get some free products to review if you do enough and have enough social media contacts. You link up your facebook/linkedin/pinterest/blog accounts etc. and start reviewing products or services. I have so far given it a couple of hours and will keep up for a while to see if I get any free products to review. It’s quite fun as there are many badges to collect but unless I get something out of it, I won’t continue.

Slice The Pie is a music review website where you listen to songs and then review them. You listen for 90 seconds or longer and then give a thoughtful review. It is mostly new songs and you can choose the genres of music you like, but you still may get a thrash metal song and have to review that. This is great if you actually have an interest in music. I do so I quite enjoy reviewing these songs, some of them are terrible and some are fantastic. You will earn between $0.02 and, my highest so far, $0.12 per review. The longer or more articulate the review the more you get paid. Once you earn $10 they promise to mail you a check. I haven’t gotten that far yet but I will give it a serious go and see what happens.

So there are my five micro earning reviews. I have more to come but I need to actually do them first! CafePress update – still no sales!

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments, I will do my best to help!



Finance Part Two – Saving Money

In my bid to seriously change up my life I have embarked on a series of small changes, hoping they will ultimately lead to a better life and lifestyle for me and my family. Micro changes. Several are ongoing but it is time to address our financial situation. I am a stay at home parent and see the value in that. My son has had some challenges in the past few years, he’s a talented, sensitive teenager and although he is very mature for his age in some ways (he just got himself his first job with no input from me at all) he still needs some supervision. So going back to work is out of the question for now.

I earn a small amount on mTurk and have amped that up somewhat but now it is time to address saving money. Frugality can be a dirty word in some circles I have found. Tightwad, skinflint, money grabbing, cheap, many of the words used are negative but I see saving money as being responsible, smart and creative. So below is a list of things I currently do or are thinking of doing to save some cash/wonga/ackers/benjamins etc. Feel free to comment on my list or add suggestions of your own, I will try almost anything. But first I need to check that the lights are turned off in the house. 

1. Cook at home. I already do this as I said in previous posts. I cook almost everything, I love the challenge of learning new ways to be creative with cheap ingredients. I actually prefer bean burgers to the meat kind and have realized that soup is my favorite part of any meal – or just a meal in itself.

2. Grow food in the back garden. This I also do, my cucumbers are my pride and joy! My results are erratic, can anyone say Tomato Hornworm? But producing food is the stuff of life and I love it.

3. Make cleaning products at home. I do make some cleaning products already, for example laundry detergent which saves a fair chunk of change, and I also tried my hand at liquid soap. Next up will be cleaning spray (I usually use 409) made with vinegar or lemon juice. 

4. Couponing. Now this is a thorny topic for me because I have tried couponing in the past and found it to be almost a complete waste of time. The trick, I have found is to only clip coupons for items you actually use. Thing is, most of those coupons are for things like scented candles or boxed food which I absolutely never use. So sorting the wheat from the chaff can be a total time suck. I stick to a few basics – I use the coupons I get mailed from the grocery store, they are targeted to what I use anyway, I go onto and print any coupons that I actually want, you can print these out three times so I do that, then I wait for a sale and use them in conjunction with a store sale. I am also trying out a coupon rebate site called Checkout 51 where you upload your receipt and get rebates for certain products, again mostly products I just don’t use so we’ll see if it is worth it. I will usually go with a generic product too if I can, I have zero customer loyalty (unless it’s ketchup or cornflakes my family just won’t eat the cheap versions of them!).

5. Phones. Our family have three iphones. I know that is a bit excessive but I just won’t swap. My phone has saved my time, gas costs and my sanity. I love it and will not give it up, neither will my husband and although my son is not allowed his full time he will be getting it back when he starts his job. But our plan is expensive – we pay $205 a month for three lines. There might be a saving there somehow, needs some investigation.

6. We have two cars. One is paid for, one is still being paid off. My husband has checked out the credit union at work and they are offering car loans at 1.69% so he is going to refinance the rest of the loan. It was tempting to him, to extend the term of the loan and make the monthly payments even lower but after I pointed out that we would end up paying more he saw the light. We will save $24 a month on this. It’s not a lot but it’s $650 or so in total.

7. The trash company have smaller rolling trash carts which cost less per month. As I recycle most of our waste – compost and the recycle bin and we don’t buy a lot of pre-packaged foods, the smaller bin is plenty big enough for the three of us. Again, it’s only saving $4 a month but that’s $48 a year I don’t have to pay and I’m helping the environment.

8. I pay all my bills online. Can’t remember the last time I ordered a check book – oh wait yes I can it was when we moved house and we needed to update the address. I also buy very few stamps, only really for cards which I think are much nicer than e-cards.

9. We pay about $60 a month for internet and $80 a month for DirecTV. I could look at getting this cheaper. We survived before without cable TV and could do so again I suppose. There is a point at which frugality and quality of life collide though and this could be it! No Dance Moms? Sigh…

10. We switched our back lawn to a water wise garden and although we are having to water to establish it, we will be able to cut it down next year. Another way we save water is by putting a bucket in our shower, in the morning the bucket fills up with run off water and we either use it to water the plants in the garden or flush the toilet. If everyone did this, think how much water the state would save!

Okay, that’s 10 items with a couple for me to look into, anyone else got ideas? I’d love to hear them.

Below is a iPhone case I designed, the text reads :”In the future phones will play music, take photos and fit in your pocket” I should have also put, given you directions, played a movie and allowed you to read the entire world’s newspapers, but it was too long! Sometimes I feel very old.


1970s dudes shooting the breeze.


Piggy Bank Cooking

So, in my efforts to save money I have coined a new phrase, well nothing is really new is it, but it’s new to me so that’s what counts. I call it Piggy Bank Cooking, because it saves us money to fatten up our piggy bank. Or we have to resort to using our piggy bank to have anything to eat. Either way works. Our local supermarket has a magical aisle, magical to someone like me who uses coupons, makes her own laundry detergent and would still be cutting her kid’s hair if she hadn’t been asked very nicely a few years ago to, “Get those clippery things awaaaaaay, aghhhhh!” as kid runs screaming from room with half a hair cut.

So, when I see a bargain I have to act. And I have been acting. The grocery store has an aisle, as I said, filled with the marked down items they want rid of. Bashed up boxes of cereal, odd brands of over priced pasta, six packs with only three bottles left, things like that. I don’t care what the box looks like so I’ll often pick up these offers and bring them home, gleefully to my pantry/garage. They have been accumulating somewhat and today seemed like a good day to get rid of some of them.

I should say that I cook everything (well almost) that my family eats. I cook breakfast for those who will eat it – mostly just me unless it is a weekend then everyone wants some! I make lunches for work and school and I make dinner every night. I also make all our bread, all our cookies/treats/ice cream/jam/pickles/mayo. OK, well mayo is kind of an issue because I love to make it fresh but as it only lasts a few days I only make it infrequently and the rest of the time I use the bought stuff. I cut myself some slack, I do plenty. I have the same philosophy with pasta, I love to make it and I make it fairly often but I am not making hand crafted pasta for my kid to have slathered in cheese sauce, the dried kind will be just fine for that. Now ravioli on the other hand… but I digress. 

So, being in a monumental hurry, as usual and having got my daily loaves rising I realized that the full tray of chocolate chunk cookies I had baked on Monday had all gone. Every one. I had eaten exactly two. As I always send my boys to work and school with a treat, I realized I had to make something but I have to head out to the school in about half an hour to pay the first installment of the mandatory fundraising my son needs to donate in order to do band this year. $700! I’m buying bashed up boxes of cereal, picking up pennies on the ground and working for about $4 an hour on mTurk and we have to pay $700?! Sigh…rant over. Rice Krispie treats it is, is there any cookie/bake/bar as quick to make in the world and as cheap as these little beauties? 

Two minutes later I had raided my pantry for marshmallows, rice krispies and found a mostly eaten box of cocoa puffs. I hate half eaten boxes of stuff. Like most Moms/Mums (I’m English remember so even though I insist on Mum I usually get called Mom) I have this recipe down. Six, one, one. Six cups of cereal, one small bag of marshmallows (minus the one or two I may have eaten between bag and saucepan while no one was looking) and one stick of butter. This time though I changed it up and made two of the cups of cereal cocoa puffs, I didn’t want them all huge so I zapped them in the food processor until they’d broken up some but not too powdery.

OK, so measure this, melt these and stir. It’s not much of a recipe but that’s why I like it.

One tip – when you come to mush it all down into the greased 8 x 8 inch pan? Use wet hands, otherwise you’ll get rice krispie strings and globs of cereal all over your hands/kitchen and possibly in your hair. That has absolutely never happened to me ever, at all, not even once. Yeah right. I once went out with rice krispie goo on my back, how that happened I do not know.

Let it cool, cut it up and the next time you look they will all be gone because school is out and, “What is there to eat? I am STARVING!”



Oh and with all the ingredients ($0.59 for the marshmallows, $0.25 for the other cereal and $0.60 for the butter) this came to approx $1.44. I will cut them up into 12 pieces or so that comes to about $0.12 each. Way cheaper than buying them and I haven’t contributed to the trash crisis on the planet. Plus you can’t buy rice krispie treats with cocoa puffs, because they are Kelloggs and General Mills products respectively and they don’t talk anymore.  They’re sort of the Montagues and Capulets of the cereal world. Not bad for 15 minutes. Took me longer to type this post.