TMR Frugal Living Tip #82

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Today’s thrifty living tip is to use sports bottles or commuter mugs. I do have some plastic Tupperware mugs and big sports bottles to bring when I’m traveling and to use at school. It’s an environmental friendly way to cut down on trash and of course it does save you money.

It saves you money by making your own coffee to bring with you instead of buying it on the road. This can easily save you $20+ per month or even more depending on the size of coffee you purchase. It might not seem like much, but that is $240 per year! You can also save money by not spending $1.25-1.50 for a 20 oz bottle of water. Now if you bought a case of water (16 oz) you still spend $4-5 per case. You won’t save as much money unless you buy a bottle daily at the vending machine. But you can refill your bottles or mugs, and it cuts down a big amount of trash. Even if you recycle the bottles, it still isn’t as environmentally friendly.

There is a big debate of plastic bottles vs stainless steel. Many of the plastic sports bottles and mugs were made with BPA which we found out was harmful since it leached into acidic (orange juice) or hot liquids (coffee and hot tea). Now you must make sure that your stainless steel bottle doesn’t have a liner as it will contain BPA. I’m not going to have that debate and will leave it up to each individual.

Vote For Your Favorite: Puppies vs Babies Online Contest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Puppies vs. Babies for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Finally a Puppies vs. Babies online contest to answer the age old question of who is cuter? I’m not much of a gambler, but I will wager babies will come out as the winners. While I love animals, I would prefer to cuddle an adorable baby over a drooling puppy any day. I don’t really care for being licked in the face or having a cold wet nose on me. I have yet to be licked by a baby, but I have been drooled on by both puppies and babies. I really enjoy listening to all the funny sounds babies make, and they melt my heart with their tooth less smiles. I think the real clincher for me has to be that wonderful baby smell. Of course I am a little biased as my nephew is just too cute.

Swing by the Puppies vs. Babies contest to cast your vote today. The best part is the winner will receive a $5,000 prize! Now that is a lot of bones (yes pun intended) or a lot of diapers. But hurry as the contest ends on November 23rd! I am curious to see who comes out as the top dog or baby. I would love to know who you voted for and who you think will win. Let the smack talk begin.

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Land Lines- Ditch or Keep?

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In this digital age where almost everyone owns a cell phone, the question becomes, do I even need a land line?

I have a packaged bundle with Charter which recently ended. My husband and I use our cell phones much more than the house phone. Actually the majority of the people calling my house phone are those pesky telemarketers, but we still receive the occasional call from a relative who doesn’t call us often. Now that I’m back in school all day, I really rely on my cell phone more for text messages and emergency calls from my son’s school.

It seemed obvious it was time to ditch the land line. I called Charter to negotiate my rates when I was told it wouldn’t make sense for me to drop it. It would cost me more to not have it, but I felt like maybe that was part of a scheme to keep me bundled. More money in their pocket. After talking to a couple of higher-up’s, I got a great deal on a new contract and yes the land line is included. I have a great rate for all my services for two more years. It’s not terrible having the land line. It’s probably better to have it for 911 but that’s a decision everyone has to make for themselves.

I know many people are ditching their land lines so you really need to consider all the benefits or negatives like an extra bill. Sometimes it also pays to call the company and negotiate for better rates. You never know unless you try.

TMR Frugal Living Tip #81: No Sew Halloween Costumes

homemadehalloweencostumesthriftycostumeideascreativecostumesToday’s thrifty living tip is to be more creative in making your child’s Halloween costume. I personally don’t have anything against store bought costumes, but I find that most are overpriced junk. Some years I have purchased a $10-15 costume from Wal-Mart that would basically fall apart during the first wearing. I have also bought better quality costumes from the Disney Store that would last several wearings, and then sell them used on ebay for more than I paid new. I would purchase them on clearance, and sometimes buy the extra accessories which would complete the costume. The problem now is my son is too old for most of the Disney costumes as those are for babies. *SIGH*

Not everyone knows how to sew a costume themselves. The fabric can cost you a pretty penny, and not to mention the time, unless of course you really enjoy sewing. I don’t enjoy sewing so we have gotten more creative in putting together a costume for my son by just digging in his closet. There might be times I have to purchase an item to complete his costume, but he usually already owns the items to put together a fun Halloween costume for him.

Here is a picture of his homemade Halloween costume from two years ago. He was his favorite wrestler, Ray Mysterio, complete with the mask, a jacket, a Ray shirt (you can’t see but it’s under the jacket), a pair of jeans and tennis shoes. He used one of his toy wrestling belts to complete the costume. He already owned everything so cost to me was FREE! He actually received a ton of compliments from other kids and adults on his costume. I think the authentic mask was the true gem of this costume as a friend of mine gave him the mask as a present. This was one of those expensive replicas they sell and not the cheap plastic one.

Last year he dressed as a military man. I don’t have a picture but he already owned a camouflage shirt, shorts, and hat. I have a pair of military issued combat boots that I wore when I was in the army many years ago that he was able to wear at the age of 10! Since we are trick or treating, we are not bringing any toy guns. Everyone will know what he is supposed to be anyway. Again total cost to me= FREE! These creative costumes are actually his idea as he complains about how the store bought costumes are itchy and fall apart. I have taught my little grasshopper well. This year he decided to be a Zombie with a skull mask (I bought on clearance for $1 last year) and some jeans, a sweatshirt, and shoes. I know not original but he is getting to that age that he wants to be cool. He is not trick or treating but wants to hand out candy which is fine by me. I usually end up wanting to eat most of it. I definitely don’t need any candy.

I would love to hear other creative solutions for Halloween Costumes. Happy Halloween and be safe while Trick or Treating!

Get a Jumpstart on Christmas Shopping with a $50 Gift Card Thrifty Momma Ramblings Giveaway!

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Christmas is right around the corner so Thrifty Momma Ramblings is hosting a $50 gift card giveaway for one lucky reader to get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping! You can be totally selfish and use it for yourself if you choose. I will post the list of stores you can choose from for your gift card. The rules are super easy and this contest will end on Sunday, November 6th at 11:59 PM CST. So basically midnight. The winner will be announced on the blog the following day and I use Random.org to pull the lucky winner by number.

Giveaway Rules:
To enter this drawing all you have to do is leave a comment about how you would spend the $50 gift card if you won. As I said, you could use it on holiday shopping, regift to someone else, or use it on yourself. No anonymous posters please. You don’t have to have a blog but leave your name at least in the comment. All anonymous poster comments will be deleted. I hope you enjoy the giveaway. This giveaway is only open to United States (US) Residents! Only one entry per comment, but and I have included a a couple of extra ways to earn more entries.

EXTRA ENTRIES:
2 Extra Entriess- Blog about this drawing on your blog linking back to this post. Leave me a comment with the link that I can follow and see it.
1 Extra Entry– Subscribe to my email list located at the top right hand side below header.
1 Extra Entry– Retweet this contest or follow me on Twitter (You can do both but you only get credit for one.)
1 Extra Entry– Follow my page on Facebook or Share on your wall (You can do both but you only get credit for one.)

Stop reading already and leave your comment for your chance to get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping with a $50 to one of the following stores of your choice. Thanks so much to all my readers. I wouldn’t have much of a blog without you guys. Good luck!

$50 Gift Card List:
1) Wal-Mart
2) Target
3) Amazon (online)
4) CVS
5) Walgreen’s
6) Best Buy
7) Rite-Aid
8) Itunes

Paint- It’s Cheap and Comes in a Can

paintremodelingkitchencabinetsinexpensivesavemoneyfrugalgreenIt’s called paint- it’s cheap and comes in a can.” This has to be one of the best quotes I’ve heard while watching a tv show. I really wished I could remember which show I was watching, but this is exactly how I feel about paint. Paint is a wonderful inexpensive way to spruce up just about anything. I didn’t want to replace my kitchen cabinets since they are actual wood and not cheap particle board. The cabinets are in excellent condition but just needed a facelift. To paint or not to paint was the question. I really wanted the kitchen to be brighter and stained wood darkens spaces. In the end, I decided to paint them. Below are the steps that I took and some pictures. (Oh quick note, that picture was drawn by my husband. I asked if he could draw me a paint bucket with brush for this post. I outlined it in paint, but will eventually figure out how to actually paint in photoshop. I think he did a fabulous job!)

How I Transformed My Kitchen Cabinets
I must have looked up almost a hundred articles and websites looking for information on properly painting previously stained cabinets. The problem is so much of the information, even from the “experts”, varies by technique and even properly cleaning or degreasing the doors. I decided to use a no rinse TSP cleaner. Then I did lightly sand the doors since the stain was pretty old and faded. After I wiped them down with a clean tack cloth, I have knotty pine wood so I used a shellac primer in a spray can just on the knots. The knots vanished after I primed the doors with a regular primer.

Finally I did use 3 coats of white Kitchen and Bath enamel paint. It is a little more expensive than a semi-gloss, but it’s made for specifically for a high humidity. I used a paint brush and not a sprayer. I didn’t know how to use a sprayer and I definitely was not willing to experiment. I used a very high quality paint brush made to eliminate brush strokes. I have to admit it came out great. I can barely see any strokes, and I am very happy with the results. The whole process of cleaning, sanding, and painting took me about 2-3 days. I had 16 doors so I had to paint eight one day and paint the remaining eight the next day. I did let the doors dry for about 4-5 days. I was a little paranoid. Most experts recommend at least three days. I know many people would not use a white, but I have found it very easy to keep the cabinets clean. I just wipe them a couple of times a week after I do the dishes. The best part is my kitchen is much brighter, even with the lights off.

Spray Paint- Who Knew?

I really wanted to replace the door handles, but we couldn’t find new handles to match up as the old ones are hung differently than today. I cleaned them, but couldn’t get all the rust out. My brilliant husband suggested we just spray paint them. We got a flat satin black and one with the primer already mixed in. It cost us about $8 with tax and it worked perfectly. The handles look brand new again! I am thrilled with the results, and it was much cheaper than buying 20 new handles. The total project cost us $90! That includes all the paint, primer, brushes, and sandpaper. I did get some discounts with coupons that I was mailed. I think that saved me about $12-15. I have brand new cabinets and handles for under $100! We did splurge on the better paint, but I think it was worth every penny. I think a picture is worth a thousand words…literally!

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Warehouse Clubs-Big Savings or Money Drain?

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First I want to mention I only have a Sam’s club near me so my experience is limited. I have been a member for a couple of years. Lately I haven’t noticed much in the way of savings. I’m finding better deals by just watching the other store sale ads. For instance, Sam’s has a 30 roll package of Scott’s toilet paper for over $22. I can buy 3 packs with the 12 rolls for $6-7 on sale and end up with more toilet paper for the same price. I’m not saying there aren’t good deals to be found at these clubs, but you should just ask yourself a few things before buying.


Can I get this cheaper on sale somewhere else?
Do I really need such a big size of this item?
Will we just eat it all quickly since it’s in the house?
Will it go to waste before we can use it?
Do I have enough room to store these bigger packages?

I am guilty of some of the above. I like buying my groceries and health/beauty items in bulk, but I have noticed some of the snacks don’t last as long as they should. Or I’ve had some items go to waste before we could use it all. I mostly try to stick to dry goods and frozen foods for this reason. I live in a bigger home, well big for 3 people, but I do have plenty of space to store items. I hope these questions can help you stop and think before buying something you don’t need or can’t use.

There are other savings such as the pharmacy, travel discounts, office supplies, tires, appliances, and such. I split my membership with my mom. I have a card and she has one so it does save money by only paying $20 yearly. I asked and it’s acceptable at Sam’s. I do save money on gas but I will be doing some more number crunching come renewal time next year.

Are warehouse clubs big money savers or money drains? I would love to read your thoughts.