10 Free Things To Do This Summer

photo credit: Smoke Trails via photopin (license)

It’s summer and everyone is ready to get out of the house and have some fun. Today’s post is 10 ways to have a great time without spending a penny, a win win.

  1. Story time at Barnes and Noble– Sit and listen to a story this summer. We love to go to Barnes and Noble and listen to stories once a week, and afterward we work on a craft or coloring. It’s totally free, unless Mom or Dad takes a trip to the in store Starbucks.
  2. Check out the library – Following up on story time, libraries offer story times, movies, and other great programs or activities during the week.
  3. Museum passes – If your library offers museum passes, take advantage! These are fabulous. Our library gives us access to two Children’s Museums and many others in our area. We can take up to 6 people with each pass! Visit your local library to find out more.
  4. Visit a farmer’s market – A great place to see and learn about colorful produce and flowers.
  5. Summer festivals – If it’s a summer staple, there is a festival for it! We went to a Red, White, and Blueberry Festival with blueberries as far as the eye can see.
  6. Fourth of July Fireworks – A must for the summer, pack a blanket and snacks.
  7. Be a hometown tourist – Take a fresh look at your hometown. What sights would you like to see if you were visiting for the first time?  Historical sites are often public places or parks and no cost.
  8. Take a nature hike – My daughter, Lillie, is amazed by the sights and sounds in the park when we go on the trails, she points to trees, flowers, and squirrels. Take time to look at the surroundings, or use a bird watching app, like this one from Cornell University.
  9. Movie night – Invite friends over, make popcorn, and watch a favorite movie. After all, no school in the morning.
  10. Visit a farm – During the week, we have a farm that is open to visitors for free (on the weekend you pay a small entry fee). We visit the farm stand, say hi to the goats and horses, and see apples growing on the trees.

Bonus ideas (not free but still fun!)

  1. The Philadelphia Art Museum offers a pay what you wish day twice a month. This is a chance for families to visit the museum without spending the $20 per adult and $14 per youth admission rates. Check to see if your museum does the same thing! Great for big families with older kids. Now cue the Rocky theme song.
  2. Visit a kids gym for open play, some offer free time for $5. It’s much cheaper than membership costs.
  3. Pack a picnic – pack up lunch and a big blanket and head to the backyard or a park.
  4. Put on a play or create a movie. With iPhones and iPads everyone can make a movie at home.

Save the cash for vacation and enjoy each day of summer!

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12 Secrets to Save Money when Holiday Shopping Online

12 Secrets To Save When Online Holiday Shopping

It’s that time of year! I love the Christmas lights, holiday movies, homemade treats, and even the music. One thing I do not love is holiday shopping at the mall. It is chaos. You will not find me out at 3 am wrestling other customers for a TV or toaster.

My ideal shopping situation is sitting in my PJ’s drinking a mug of tea and buying gifts online as the snow falls. I avoid all of the stress of shopping and still get what I want and save money while doing so.

By this point shopping online is my thing, I try to save money however I can when online shopping so I can make my money go further. Here’s my list of 12 secrets to save money when holiday shopping online.

  1. Wait for the sale – It’s a game to figure out when your item will be on sale. You want to maximize savings with a sale and online coupon. I know that the Disney Store Online rotates through promo codes, sometimes up to 40%. I would never buy something without scoping out the deals and sales on their site for a few days. It’s absolutely worth it.
  2. Coupon codes, coupon codes, coupon codes – Need I say more? I do not buy anything online without a coupon/promo code or a really great sale. Google “XYZ Store Coupon Code” and see what pops up. Check out retailmenot.com and couponcabin.com sometimes you can find a really great code.  If you’re lucky, you can use more than one on an order. They are out there, it’s free money. Who doesn’t like free money?
  3. Sign up for Email Updates – Sign up for email updates from your favorite store, they are happy to tell you what they have on sale. What’s even better, you can sometimes get a discount code for signing up!
  4. Facebook – Like a store on Facebook, again, they will be happy to share with you their coupon codes and sales. Some coupon codes are just for their Facebook fans.
  5. EBates – I recently started using ebates and I was thrilled to receive $7.15 from a purchase I made at Old Navy online. Free money for doing almost nothing. You can sign up here and receive a $10 gift card when you make your first purchase. After signing up I got $10 gift card to Target and I saved $7.15. So I’m up to $17.15 for just a few clicks of the mouse. All you have to do is go to ebates first, choose the store and enter their site to check out. It’s so easy.
  6. Amazon Coupons – I really did not know about Amazon Coupons until I stumbled upon the site recently. It’s a gold mine. I saved $30 on a gift I bought. $30 from a website! Definitely check this out before you complete your order on Amazon. So many categories apply, books, electronics, toys, food and household items.
  7. Look for Gift Card Deals – This might require you to go to an actual store, or not. Check flyers and online deals for gift cards at a lower price such as a $25 gift card for $20. You can use this with your online purchase and save $5. A grocery store near my family offers “Fuel Perks” or money towards gasoline purchases, so they like to buy gift cards for their purchases and then get free/discounted fuel!
  8. Free Shipping – Do not pay for shipping. Many online retailers offer free shipping this time of year, some offer free shipping if you buy a certain amount of items, and some have coupon codes. Some stores such as LL Bean always have free shipping. Yay!
  9. Use Google Shopping – Did you know Google will price compare items for you? It’s awesome. Especially when buying bigger items, use Google Shopping to compare prices. If you’re looking for a specific item, search for it and the website will tell you who has the lowest price for your item. Note: Personally, I will only buy from stores that I am familiar with, there are a lot of online retailers that pop up with lower prices but I do not know their reputation so I will skip them and go to a retailer I know is credible.
  10. Be Cautious of Flash Sales – Sales with a timer are tricky psychologically. It could get you to buy something you really don’t want just because there is a timer on it. Think it through first.
  11. Create an Account – Avoid checking out as a guest on a site. By signing up for an account with the company, you will receive updates and your order attached to your name will be in the system. This helps a lot if you have an issue or need to return an item, since you are already in the system.
  12. Check Prices Later – If a product you buy goes on sale after you’ve purchased it, you can contact the company to see if they will refund the difference. It never hurts to ask and you could save!

There you have it, 12 ways to save money with holiday shopping! What tips do you have for online shopping? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions.

Happy Shopping!

Disclaimer: The ebates link goes to my tell-a-friend account, this means that if you sign up I receive a little bonus for telling a friend.

 

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Grow Your Own Flowers Without Spending A Penny

Grow Your Own Flowers Without Spending A Penny

I found myself singing “You gotta reduce, reuse, recycle” when I was starting flowers for my garden. I love doing things myself, saving money, and waste. So here’s how to start flowers for your garden for free. Of course you can also use this to start herbs or vegetables.

It takes a little time to save up all of your supplies but it’s something we all have on hand. If you need to, you can purchase the seeds at your local nursery or store but I saved mine from last year’s flowers. Impatiens are especially fun to collect, you have to get the seeds in the bag before it explodes!

What you’ll need:

  • Empty Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Rolls
  • An empty lettuce or spinach box
  • Potting Soil, or regular old soil
  • Seeds

How to:

  1. Cut toilet paper rolls in half or paper towel rolls in quarters.
  2. Place the flat side down in your empty lettuce box, arrange rolls so that they all stand upright. I ended up using 16.
  3. Fill each roll with soil. Don’t worry about spilling into the gaps, this is going to happen anyway so don’t drive yourself crazy.
  4. Fill tubes with seeds. I used a pinch of impatien seeds to each roll. I lightly pressed the seed down and covered it with a bit of soil.
  5. Water the seeds. I used a measuring cup with a spout to direct the water into each compartment. Be aware that this set up does not have a drainage system. We want to avoid a muddy mess so go easy on the watering. If you aren’t keeping these inside, you can poke holes in the bottom of the lettuce box to drain excess water. I am keeping mine in my upstairs window and need to keep things clean.
  6. Place box in a sunny place and regularly water.
  7. Soon you will have little plants to put in your yard.

I think Jack Johnson would be proud!

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8 Free Workouts to Do at Home

8 Free Workouts To Do At Home

I recently learned that Netflix is no longer streaming workout dvds. Which is a MAJOR bummer.  I always had these workouts on the back burner to turn to when  I wanted to mix it up or try a pilates workout.

I went on a search for free online workouts and found 8 videos for you to use when you need a change of pace. Some of the Exercise TV videos are a little cheesy but the get the job done!

Jillian Michaels Daily Dose: Booty Bootcamp

Jillian Michaels Daily Dose: Killer Abs Workout

Jillian Michaels Mini Workout – Lean and Mean Leg Workout

Jillian Michaels Mini Workout – Armed and Dangerous

Total Body Pilates

Six Pack Abs: Incredible Abs

Rock Hard Body by Jake:

Bikini Body Makeover Bootcamp Calorie Burn

Now you have no excuses to get off the couch and get active!  Check out Exercises TV on hulu for many more workouts.

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How to Cook Beans in a Slow Cooker

 Cook Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker

Cooking dried beans is an easy way to save money. All it takes is a little prep time and a day of crock pot cooking.

Supplies:

  • 16 oz dried beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pepper, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes. Whatever spices you like. Use a teaspoon or 1/2 teaspoon of each of your favorites.
  • Crock pot

Method:

  1. Rinse and soak dried beans in a large pot over night.
    Black Beans 1 Continue reading
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