5 Things to Buy AFTER Christmas

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5 Things you should buy AFTER Christmas to Save Money

It seems like we just put the trees up, hung the stockings and plugged in the Christmas lights but in just a short while it’s over - the wrapping paper is in a pile…the stockings tossed aside and mistletoe taken down.  Yet, there are many items that buying on clearance AFTER Christmas will bring the best deals.

1. Decorations for next year.  I’m going to be completely honest- my Christmas Tree has seen better years.  About ten of them to be exact!  Being frugal means we’ve used the same artificial tree for the last ten or so years.  All that fluffing and then packing away has taken it’s toll and this is the last year that we are going to be able to use it.  Even plastic trees loose their plastic needles after a while!  Now it actually looks pathetic.  Starting a few days after Christmas most things will be 30%, 50%, 75% and even up to 90% off.  As the percentage off grows- the selection goes down so to get the items you really want- you’ll need to head out a few days after Christmas. Besides trees, ornaments, tinsel, Christmas lights and other holiday themed items will go on sale.

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Freezing Foods

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I was asked to repost this.  You may also be interested in my favorite way to organize a chest freezer!
One of my favorite ways to save is to use freeze foods and with the B2G3 Cheese at Harris Teeter- it’s the perfect time to stock the freezer with cheese!

Tips for Freezing Foods, meat, cheese, yogurt and vegetables

The USDA has a great section of their page about Safe Food Handling- including Freezing foods!

Here are some highlights:

  • Food stored at 0 degrees will always be safe BUT quality suffers with long term storage
  • Nutrients are retained during freezing
  • It is safe to freeze meat or poultry in it’s original packaging but overwrapping is suggested to retain quality
  • The color of the food can change- especially beef. It turns dark brown
  • Thaw foods ONLY in the fridge, cold water or microwave
  • Once food is thawed, it is safe to refreeze without cooking although quality may suffer
  • You can cook raw or cooked meat, poultry and casseroles straight from the freezer

Here is the Freezer Times from the USDA (this is for QUALITY ONLY)

Here is what I freeze and how I do it (I am NOT an expert but this has worked for me for 12 years)

Meat: I wrap the original package with butcher freezer paper, keeping it tight and freeze in the deep freezer. See HERE about marinating meat before freezing. Hot dogs, sausages, etc frozen in their packaging. Marinated meats I keep in freezer bags.

Vegetables: I freeze onions, carrots, green beans, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes. I blanch the carrots, green beans, tomatoes and zucchini before freezing. See THIS post about veggies.

Fruit: I wash and cut strawberries and freeze on a tray and then once frozen transfer to a freezer bag.That is the only fruit I personally freeze. This is a good article by the University of Georgia about freezing fruit.

Milk: I have frozen all varieties of milk in the gallon jugs successfully. I do not pour any out and just put the gallon in the freezer with the # of days left until it’s original expiration date on the front. If I have 3 days- then I start that count down the day I pull it out of the fridge. It takes at least 1 full day to thaw- and I take it out and shake it up several times to break up the chunks of icy milk inside.

Orange Juice: I have personally never tried this. Searches online show many success stories of freezing OJ. They put the cartons or jugs in the freezer- some pour some out others do not. Some re-package – others do not.

Cheese: We go through a LOT of cheese so when it’s on sale- I may end up with 30 bags! I put the bag in the freezer just the way it is. If I am baking a dish with it- I use it from frozen. If we are using it on tacos, etc I let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Chunk cheese does NOT freeze well.

Yogurt: Yogurt cups can be frozen- but when thawed the look and texture is a bit different. Allow to thaw before eating.

Bread: Baked or unbaked- they freeze well. Wrap bread in foil and/or saran wrap. After 3 months quality drops drastically. Tortillas freeze well too.

Butter: freeze very well. Keep in original wrapper

Eggs: do NOT freeze in the shell. Raw egg whites and yolks freeze well. Cooked egg yolks freeze well;cooked egg whites- not so well.

Rice: freezes VERY well! Cook and place in freezer bags. Lay flat to freeze.

This is a GREAT resource for freezing foods: HERE

The Top 5 Stockpile Blunders

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5 Stockpile Blunders & how to Avoid them

We’ve worked hard to build our stockpiles- clipping, shopping, organizing.  We stand back in awe at the amount we’ve managed to get for pennies on the dollar.  Some of us just stand there and admire them for minutes every day- grateful to know that if disaster strikes; the loss of a job, illness, car breakdowns- that we can feed our families and wash our hair.

There are some major blunders that many of us make that greatly reduce the value and lifespan of our stockpiles!

  1. Stockpiling the wrong things.  Sixteen cases of canned tuna is worthless to a family that will not eat canned tuna.  Forty bottles of mustard is worthless to the family that won’t use it.  Twenty bottles of the best lotion is worthless to the family who breaks out when using it.  Stockpiling the wrong items is wasteful of money (most of us  have to pay sales tax on the pre-coupon price) as well as space used to store it.  Picking up freebies and money makers is always a great thing when possible – but if you won’t use it- it’s a better option to either skip it or place it right into the donation bin.
  2. Storing them wrong. I recently moved things around in my pantry and realized I had 4 boxes of crushed Nutri-grain bars.  The reason? I had laid the boxes down instead of standing them up in order to maximize the space on my self.  The weight of those boxes crushed the bottom 4.  They were flat masses of cereal bar and fruit spread.  Ugh. No one wanted to eat them.  Think of your shelves the way a grocery store does.  Placing items in the boxes the way they are packed by the manufacturer usually ensures that boxes and packages are not crushed by the weight of others.  In addition, be sure that your stock pile is stored in a cool, dry place.  Heat & Humidity is dangerous to any stockpile!
  3. Storing them too long. Things expire.  Putting new items in front of the old ones just causes things to expire.  Think like a grocery store- pull the old things to the front and put the newly purchased ones behind them (check the dates to ensure that you are really putting them oldest to newest!)  Nothing is worse than going to get the last bottle of ketchup and finding out it’s two years past it’s expiration date.
  4. Throwing them out too early.  That can of peas had an expiration date that was yesterday?  Most likely it’s still good!  That box of pasta says it was best by last week?  It’s fine to use too.  As long as the packaging is intact, the food wasn’t exposed to extreme heat, cold or moisture most things are fine to use.  This doesn’t apply to foods that spoil quickly like milk, cheese or moldy items, like fruit, etc.  If crackers are a few days past expiration date just be sure they aren’t stale and they are okay to eat.
  5. Not keeping track.  It’s easy to go overboard.  That super deal on granola bars?  Sure, we’ll get 500!  Then in three months we might realize that we’ve only used 2 boxes!  We’ll never get through the other 498 before they all go bad!  We have an awesome stockpile calculator on MoolaSavingMom’s Couponer’s Toolbox.  Plugin how many you will use each week, today’s date and the date the product expires and it will tell you the max # that you should stock of this item.  Obviously if it comes back with 75 boxes of cereal you don’t need to buy all 75 at once but it’s a good number to have in your head that “I should NEVER have more than X number of cereal boxes in my stockpile.”  On the other hand, if it’s A.1. sauce you can disregard that number because you can NEVER have enough A.1. Sauce and if you find yourself with a surplus please contact me and I will take it because I LOVE that stuff!

Stockpiling requires that we think like a grocery store- because that is what we have- a grocery store in our house!  Only buying enough that will be used (sold) before it goes bad, rotating stock (merchandising the shelves) so that stock isn’t wasted.

What stockpile blunders have you made?

Discounted Newspaper Subscriptions

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newspapers

Every week there are lots of upset couponers because their newspaper was missing one or more inserts.  This can happen for lots of reasons: the machinery malfunctioned and missed that paper, someone stole the inserts or the newspaper ran out of inserts.

My #1 tip for having a better chance of getting all the inserts due?  Have your newspaper delivered.  Most newspapers only guarantee that the delivered papers will be “complete” (i.e. have all the sections and coupon inserts).    One site I’ve used before to get discount subscriptions is Discounted Newspapers. They have over 400 newspapers!  I’ve seen subscriptions start as low as $.75/Sunday!

Click here to see what rate your local paper is offering!

Be sure to check out the Sunday Coupon Preview every week!

Selling & Buying Coupons: Legal?

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This image was sent to me and I thought it was very interesting.  The Tampa Tribune is offering a reward for information that stops people from getting newspapers in unauthorized ways (i.e. stealing them). They’ve even set up a webiste page to accept information turning in sellers.

Long time MSM friends know that I don’t support buying or selling coupons for several reasons.

(1) When we buy coupons we are paying for something that is free with the purchase of a newspaper.

(2) Many coupon sellers obtain their coupons in less than honest ways.  Many times they steal (or have a newspaper employee steal) the newspapers to sell the inserts from them.  That’s why many stores and boxes have coupon-less newspapers.

(3) I’ve seen reports of people paying for coupons only to get copied printables or even flat out fake coupons.

I’ve heard stories of people meeting to sell inserts with vans full of newspapers- newspapers that aren’t even scheduled to be delivered for a few days!  Clearly they didn’t get them in an authorized manner.

If newspapers begin cracking down (and I hope they do!) on theft of coupons and newspapers- it may be the ones easier to go after are the ones buying and redeeming the stolen inserts…and that could possibly mean charges of receiving stolen property- or even worse Dealing in Stolen Property, which in Florida is a Second Degree (F2) felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine….regardless if the item is a 1/100th of a cent valued coupon or not….

So just a thought before we hope on the buying coupons train…and I know it’s tempting!  With that HOT Barilla Pasta Sauce deal at Harris Teeter, my area didn’t get the Barilla coupon so I was sorely tempted to give in but I knew I couldn’t and so I will head to Harris Teeter coupon-less and pay 80¢ a jar after catalina!

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Another organization, the Coupon Information Center   is looking for information specifically about Facebook Groups that sell coupons or promote coupon fraud.

We’ve already seen Ebay make a change last year (although I think it was not really a strong enough change) on the coupon selling policy.

What do you think?  

Family Halloween Costumes

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Family Halloween Costume Ideas

Tired of the same old same old Halloween costumes and want to incorporate the entire family?  Check out this roundup of family costume ideas!

Crayola Crayons

Cruella de Vil, Jasper, & Dalmations

The Flintstones

The Simpsons

The Laundry Crew

The Wizard of Oz

Tree, Acorn, and Squirrel Trio

Honey Bees & Bee Keeper

Alice in Wonderland

The Incredibles

Star Wars

The Blooms have faded- but now is the time to buy!

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Buy Distressed flowers for a gorgeous spring garden at a fraction of the price!

Summer flowers have passed their peaks and if you look in the home stores and nurseries you see a lot of plants that are past their prime this year.  But this is actually the time I best like to buy flowers!

When you go into a nursery and find a beautiful, flowering bush or other plant- the look so pretty so many people buy them and plant them at home.  A few weeks later- all the blooms are gone and they barely had a chance to enjoy them in their garden.  Instead- buy plants that are past their bloom in the fall and plant for a gorgeous garden NEXT year!

Many times I check the “distressed” plant areas in my local Lowe’s and Home Depots and even Walmarts. These plants may look as little wilted or brown but a little bit of TLC, and a fraction of the price, and next year you will see a beautiful plant!

A few tips:

  • Check that there is at least 50% of the plant still green.  Depending on the plant you can often prune off the dead parts, feed it and love on it (fertilize, water, etc) and it will bounce back.
  • Be sure to get the ride shade/sun plants for your area or the outcome will NOT be successful.
  • Don’t buy annuals.  They may be cheaper but you will have to replace them each year.  Perennials are the best bet- they come back year after year.
  • Think plants that you can stretch- plants that propagate themselves and grow bigger- think ground covers that spread out or Hostas. Plants that can be divided or grown from cuttings are great ways to stretch the budget.
  • Start small- try one or two this year and if successful buy more next year.
  • Don’t go overboard- be sure you have the room before bringing 25 plants home!

 

The same goes for houseplants!  I’ve bought SO many “distressed” plants that have taken off once given a little TLC!