Friday’s Date Night

26 05 2010

We crowned a new tradition in 2010  –  Friday Date Night  –  shortly after Rob’s homecoming.  Allotting this new expense helped strengthen our homecoming reunion. 

It was only recently that we realized we could save cash by tweaking Friday’s Date Night.  Here goes:

  • Use coupons!  We signed up with Restaurant.Com.  You can purchase a $25 dining certificate for as little as $2 when you use a coupon code.  Some restaurants want you to spend $35.  The calculation is:  $35 bill minus the $25 dining certificate = $10 out-of-pocket for dinner plus the $2 you spent for the dining certificate = $12 total out-of-pocket (not including tip).  This is an amazing dinner deal for 2 adults (an average NYC meal can cost $50).
  • Saturday Lunch Dates.  Browsing restaurant menus one Saturday afternoon lead to an amazing idea!  Change Friday’s Date Night into Saturday’s Lunch Date.  The prices truly are unbeatable.  And by unbeatable we mean 1/2 price!  The extra money that would have been spent on food goes back into savings to grow.
  • Frozen Pizza.  Sometimes Friday’s Date Night doesn’t happen (weather, etc.) and we are inclined to order pizza.  A large pie plus tip averages $20.  The average price of a frozen pizza at the supermarket is $5!  The cost of having frozen pizzas on Friday’s for an entire month equals the price of one pie from a pizzeria!

We want to hear from you, drop us a comment.  Do you eat out on Friday’s?  Are there other ways you can save money on your “Date Nights”?

Budget Blooms

24 05 2010

As summer quickly approaches and spring coming to a close, homeowners are rushing to tackle their winter-barren gardens (or flower boxes for the renters).

Naturally we run to the garden center/home improvement store and purchase a few sheets of plants, then spend the next hour in combat!  When all is said and done, you step back to admire your work and efforts.  Pride fills your heart as you stare at your garden in all its glory.  What once resembled a desert of death is now fruitful and filled with flowers.  Instant gratification! 

But what if you approached this facelift differently in order to achieve the same results?  This approach will save you money, but not necessarily time.  Let’s assume you want to save money and can do without the “instant gratification“.  Here goes . . . .

Let’s assume for calculation purposes ten sheets of plants cost $5 each ($50 total) and ten seed packages cost $0.59 each (5.90 total).  That is a difference of $44.10!  The results will take longer but there is a $44 savings to be had  –  it may not be much, but that savings could pay for any pots or soil you may need.  Or, just deposit that $44 and grow your savings!!!

If you are not tempted to take the slow route, think about purchasing plants at a store that guarantees the plant’s life (some stores offer a one-year guarantee towards the plant’s life).  You might also want to consider joining Home Depot’s Garden Club for special offers, expert advice and discounts (plus it’s free(!) to join).

Red White Blue Tip  –  Don’t forget to use your military discount if you are deciding to purchase plants or seeds at the Home Depot.

We want to hear from you, drop us a comment.  Which route would you take – Instant Gratification or Slow and Steady?

Fixed it Fridays: Don’t Stop the Momentum

21 05 2010

The crowd cheers.  Fireworks are going off.  You FIXED IT!!! 

You –

  • Saved your first $50
  • Opened an Emergency Fund at the bank
  • Avoided contributing to your debt by charging something on that fantastic plastic
  • Made a sandwich rather than buying that overpriced $8 sandwich
  • Opened a 401(k) at your job
  • Deposited money into an account for your child’s college
  • Realized you needed to fix your financial situation
  • Turned down going to the mall with your friends
  • Created a monthly budget and spending plan
  • Held a family meeting and discussed the family’s financial future

Whatever steps – big or small – you have taken right now are shaping your financial future! 

Don’t stop.  Keep going.  Run Run Run!!!

We want to hear from you, drop us a comment.  Tell us what you Fixed!

Viva Your Cooking!

20 05 2010

Is everyone else hearing Elvis’ voice in their head now? 

A few months ago I ventured into Williams-Sonoma (high-end kitchenware store) after hearing about their fabulous recipes from co-workers; which by the way are printed on recipe cards and placed throughout the store free(!) for your picking!  Nestled in the rear of the store is their mini kitchen*, completely equipped with their very own chefs!  Me oh my was I surprised.

I grabbed some recipe cards at the kitchen counter and the ever-so-amazing-chef handed me a complimentary technique class schedule.  I couldn’t believe they offered free(!) technique classes (the cheapest classes I spied were $75).  After a quick browse of the schedule, I signed up for their upcoming weekend class.

Thus far, I have attended roughly 10 classes – Thanksgiving cooking series, sauteing, braising, desserts, knife skills, dutch ovens, etc.  The techniques are ideal for the amateur through expert level and in no means are you required to purchase any items showcased in a class.

Attending these free(!) classes with your friends or spouse will be a great way to spend an afternoon without having to spend a dime!

Red White Blue Tip:  For those going through a deployment, this class will help you 1) improve your cooking skills so you can surprise your military member with a great home-cooked “welcome home” meal and 2) pass the time and keep you busy so you’re not feeling so alone while your military member is deployed.  For Rob’s welcome home meal, I made ancho chili ribs braised in coffee – YUM!

*Note:  Not all stores have this kitchen.  Please check locations prior to visiting.

Use Cash, Get Ahead

19 05 2010

We usually celebrate the Fourth of July together but Rob was deployed overseas last year. We spent our Independence Day independent from one another. When Rob returned to the States, he brought back a flag that was flown overseas during combat. Our intention is to encase the flag, print a certificate and present it to Rob’s mother this Fourth of July.

We scoured the internet for deals (it literally took ten minutes).  Ah ha! The local craft store is selling flag display cases for $19.99 (original price $39).  Armed with a $20 bill, we drove to the store and ran down every aisle searching for that steal-of-a-deal flag case.  Low and behold!  They were discounted again to 9.99!  My brain was saying “cha-ching“. 

We walked to the never-ending line.  There were roughly 20 people ahead of us and another 40 behind us.  The line simply was not moving.  Then, a voice from the heavens poured down some good news, “If you are paying with cash go to register number one.” We moved off the line and walked to that register.  We were the only ones paying with cash.  Cash-money!  When the cashier scanned the item it rang-up at $19.99. We immediately pointed out the error and the cashier adjusted the price.  It is important to pay close attention to the register because more often than not prices do not scan correctly.  Nobody should be overcharged.  In this case it would be a 50% increase!

Before leaving the store, we took notice that customers weren’t paying with cash.  They were still waiting on that ever-so-dreaded line.  Could it be that everyone was charging their items?  I was hoping they were using their debit cards versus credit cards.  But still, I couldn’t help but think the customers were drowning themselves in debt.

We were thankful for getting ahead of the line.  Driving to the store we knew we had enough money to buy the item we needed.  We could have spent that $10 savings but didn’t (it will go back into our envelopes).  Discipline always pays off.  You will get ahead when you stick to a plan; your spending plan. 

In the end, we have a personalized gift that only set us back $10.  That, our friends, is priceless.

Sunday Circulars

16 05 2010

Sunday morning. You wake up to a hot ‘cup of Joe’ and the Sunday times.  Quiet time at its best.  Flipping through the paper you reach the glossy advertisements.  What’s that?  The electronic super store is having a super-awesome deal on blueray players.  And the home improvement store is advertising the newest barbeque grill at a ground breaking price.  Just when you thought the prices couldn’t drop any lower . . . . you notice a 7-piece dining room set with your name written all over it.

By this time you probably have read all circulars cover to cover.  Your coffee is cold and “buyer’s adrenaline” has kicked in. Could it be that these circulars were sent from the heavens above? Could it be that these “steals and deals” are too good to pass up?

In the past, I’ve fallen prey to the rush of “buyer’s adrenaline”. But what happened to me the next day I’d like to call “buyer’s remorse”. I knew I was only purchasing things because they were on sale.  I didn’t need the new vacuum to replace my old one that still worked.  Or that stainless steel coffeemaker to replace our dated white one.  I reclaimed my Sunday morning by choosing to ignore those ads all while remaining content with the things I have.

Sunday used to be a day of rest.  Let’s kick that “buyer’s adrenaline” and keep money in our pockets.  Buying things just because they are on sale is pointless because you can go broke trying to “save money”.

Fix It Tip:  The less you spend, the more money that remains in savings.

Fix It Tip:  If it’s not broke, don’t replace it.

We want to hear from you, drop us a comment.  Definately some great deals, but maybe we should rethink the initial urge to run out and make that purchase?

Giving: Letters for Lyrics

15 05 2010

Let’s give thanks to our troops overseas, by writing them a letter, through the campaign “Letters for Lyrics” (courtesy of the Zac Brown Band and Ram Trucks).  Drop your letter off at a Ram dealership and receive a free(!) CD.  Rolist did and we are sending that CD to troops overseas.

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