Feed The Pig {Small Savings, Big Reward}

Hey y’all! Do you want to go on vacation next summer? Us too! We can’t afford to make a line item in our budget for a vacation, so we’ve had to get tricky and think outside the box in order to fund our first ever family vacation. Yes, I said first ever. We’ve never been on a real family vacation before, so we’re planning to take one in 2017 no matter what. 

But how will you fund this thing, you ask? We’re feeding our pig! No, we don’t own a real pig. We have a big, chubby piggy bank we’re feeding every time we find a coin or cash in our bottles and cans for money. All of that goes straight into the pig.

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Seriously the saddest photo of a pig I’ve ever seen. This pig needs to go on vacation!

How did you ever get such an odd idea, you ask? I got this idea on my birthday when I was thinking up ways to give a gift to my family because they have given me the gift of love everyday. I shared my idea with them and they love it!

Originally, we’d started saving coins in a clear two and a half-gallon jug, but we could see the coins and after years of emptying it every time we had an “emergency” we decided that just wouldn’t work, so now we’re feeding the pig! So far, we have it about half full already! We estimate there is about $50 in there, but to be fair…it was already about 1/4 full when I first got the idea.  I’m excited to crack that piggy open next summer and see what’s inside!

You might be asking “well, what happens when you fill the pig? Will you empty it out and refill it?” Well, yes and no. We’re going to leave all the money in there until next summer. When this pig is full, we’re going to fill another pig. Ideally, we’ll make our own pig out of fun recycled materials. If we do, I’ll be sure to share the tutorial of how we did it. If not, you know me…I’ll fess up and humble myself enough to tell you we broke down and purchased one at the Dollar Tree or a yard sale. 😉 I estimate we’ll fill this pig by the end of summer, but we’ll see!

We have some ideas about what we want to do. The kids obviously want to go to Disney Land, but I am vehemently opposed. I do not fit that into my list of values. There are much more frugal things to do with that money, y’all! Personally, I’d prefer my kids experience a national park or a cool new beach. I want to experience the outdoors and reset our natural clocks…maybe get Anthony to wake up before 8 am for once? (Yes, I am one of those annoying morning people. I wake up happy, want the house cleaned and children fed before 9 am. I swear, I was meant to be an Army drill sergeant. I missed my calling.)

Anyway, this is going to be a really interesting experiment. If we can all keep up with it, we’re going to have an amazing time. If not, well, I hope the kids like beans and wieners cooked over a campfire at a local campground because I am absolutely serious when I say we’re going on a vacation next year and it’s absolutely not going to be funded by our line item budget – this is all to be funded by coins and bottle returns.

What is the oddest way you’ve ever funded a vacation? Have you ever tried to fund one from bottle returns and coins? How did that work out for you? Share in the comments below. And remember – feed your pig!

 

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A random photo of my adorable son enjoying his first BBQ rib last night. Because my sense of humor is nuts and I love showing off my super amazing kids. Enjoy! 

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The Frugal Nerd {Grocery Store Savings}

I know, I know…I’m a complete nerd. I spent the morning calculating price per pound, ounce, and cup of each item in the Fred Meyer ad for this week. It was really eye-opening for me to see how much each item costs. Some of the Easter candy on “sale” is actually about $25 a pound! At that price, investing in a nicer piece of jewelry or a well made toy is more cost-effective.

Also, it’s cheaper to purchase pancake mix than to make it yourself from scratch, even if you buy *all* of the ingredients on sale. That surprised me!

Flour and sugar purchased from the store brand is significantly cheaper than a name brand. It’s roughly 25 cents cheaper per loaf of bread to make your own at home, assuming all ingredients were purchased at sale price and you’re making 2-4 loaves at a time. This includes electricity and water prices for baking at home, so the initial savings will seem like even more before you see your electric and water bill.

The price per pound of fruit isn’t always cheaper when purchased frozen – it’s about $1-$2 more per pound to purchase most fruits frozen this week. So look at the fresh selection and buy that instead if you can.

If you’re in a bind and need a dessert now, most bakery desserts are selling for about $1 per serving, some are closer to 50 cents a serving in the freezer aisle. Choose wisely or make it yourself for less. 

As most of us know, it’s significantly cheaper to consume beer than wine. It’s about a 40 cent per cup savings there. Extra beer can be used to make delicious bread, pancakes, and batter for fried foods, not to mention it’s very effective slug deterrent for your yard. (Not the most healthy, but quite delicious for a sometimes treat.)

Instead of purchasing M&M’s candy, you can save about $1 per pound by purchasing chocolate chips on sale (even name brand!) and serve these to kids instead. I know, not as fun, but it’s significantly cheaper. Perhaps pair these with some nuts and dried fruit for a fun and tasty trail mix snack? Or toss into homemade granola bars, which can cost up to $3 less a pound to make than the store-bought kinds! WOW!

Frugal Nerds

My happy helpers! They’re always excited to learn and to help me plan the grocery shopping trip.

Store brand peanut butter is about $2 a pound cheaper than the stuff you squirt out of a fancy machine into a cheap plastic tub. Guess what? Both are genetically modified and it’s incredibly difficult to find any peanut butter that isn’t these days. So if you’re going to indulge in PB&J, just spring for the store brand and save yourself some dough.

Those fancy little cheeses near the deli section? They’re selling for $7-$10 a pound! Best to wait for cheese to go on sale for $2 a pound and stock up. It freezes really well, especially if you shred it first and store it in air-tight freezer bags.

Finally, when looking at the price per pound of meat, a suggested serving size is 1-2 ounces of meat per person, so consider dividing the price by 8-16 to see what the cost per serving will be. It will really surprise you, especially if you’ve thrown out any meat recently that’s gone bad. It’s amazing how much money goes into the trash can each month!

Purchasing seeds or plant starts is extremely cost-effective, even for those of us in apartments. We purchased some of those nifty railing pots and have them on our back patio. We’ve got herbs for tea and cooking, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cucumbers growing out there on our tiny deck. And yes, the kids play out there, too!

As we work hard to cut down our debt, we save a lot of our money at the grocery store. Now I know to cut out a few more things in order to save even more!

Homemade {Laundry} Cleaners

I’ve been making my own laundry soap for about four years now and I really love the price – about $10 for a year’s supply, and I do a lot of laundry! Recently, I stumbled across another blogger who does it even better than I do, and I’m excited to share her page with you. The Not So Modern Housewife not only has a more economical recipe (assuming you can buy in bulk as I do), but it’s greener and safer for your family too!

Before I share her recipe, I’ll go ahead and share mine for those who might be interested. You can make this as a powder or cook it to make a liquid. The liquid comes out looking a lot like egg flower soup.

Economical (but not as green) Laundy Soap

(makes 5 gallons of liquid, approx 2-1/2 gallons of powder)

Ingredients

  • 1 box Borax for powder, or (1-1/2 Cups for liquid)
  • 1 box washing soda for powder or (1-1/2 Cups for liquid)
  • 2 bars Fels naptha, grated
  • 1/2 box epsom salt for powder. (I do not add this to liquid)
  • 1 – 3lb box OxyClean

Directions for powder soap

  • mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container. Use 2 Tablespoons per full load, regardless of how heavy the dirt is. For half or small loads, use 1 Tablespoon.

Directions for liquid soap

  • In a large stock pot, boil 1 gallon of water, then add in the grated fels naptha. Stir to combine, then turn heat down to medium (about 4). Continue stirring every 2-3 minutes until soap is fully melted, to prevent soap from sticking to bottom of pan.
  • Add in Borax and washing soda in 1/2 Cup increments until fully combined. Stir every 1-2 minutes to keep soap from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Turn off burner and pour soap into a clean, empty 5 gallon bucket.
  • Using stock pot, fill bucket with cold water. Stir with the end of a clean mop, broom or other long handled stick. (I’ve even used a clean vacuum attachment handle!)
  • Let sit for 24 hours with a lid on. (Does not need to be on tightly except for safety reasons. You don’t want kids or pets to get into this. If kids and pets not a problem, just set lid on top to keep dirt, bugs, etc out)
  • Use 1/4 to 1/2 Cup of cleaner per load of laundry. I use about 1/4 Cup or less with regularly soiled laundry and about 1/2 Cup with very heavily soiled laundry.

Other cool “do it yourself” laundry tips

  1. Distilled white vinegar rinse for clothes as a fabric softener. (I’ve been doing this for about 4 years and only on pillows has there ever been a risidual smell) I use about 3 Tablespoons per load in the rinse cycle.
  2. 3 Tablespoons of inexpensive hair conditioner for fabric softener
  3. 2 Tablespoons epsom salt for fabric conditioner
  4. Pure lemon juice in place of bleach
  5. 1/2 Cup hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 Cup washing soda in soak cycle in place of Oxyclean to whiten and brighten clothes
  6. 1 Tablespoon tea tree oil, 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 Tablespoon baking soda in loads containing pet items. (I use this primarily in the heart of flea and tick season, as both fleas and ticks abhor tea tree oil)

All of these laundry recipes and tips and tricks are very economical, costing just a fraction of a penny per use, but there is this one from The Not So Modern Housewife that I recently found that got me all excited!

Out of respect for her blog, I will only list the ingredients, not the recipe here. I encourage you to go check her page out for the full recipe HERE.

She uses

  • baking soda (on amazon for $0.92/lb) (I have found this for $0.65/lb and less at Winco before)
  • washing soda (on amazon for $2.40/lb)
  • epsom salt (on amazon for $1.49/lb)
  • salt (on amazon for $0.49/lb)
  • a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. (price varies depending on oil)

The amount per load you need is less, which is a major money saver for us frugal folks!

What’s more, The Not So Modern Housewife points out that Fels Naptha can cause a build up on clothes, especially cloth diapers, which can lead to leaks. Yuck! I’m glad I found this out before having baby #3!

I have a friend who recently turned me onto Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for all my housecleaning needs as well. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve found some good deals on it on Amazon.com. You can find them HERE.

So what’s your secret to saving money on laundry soap? Do you have any special recipes, tips or tricks? Any favorite scents you use? Feel free to share in the comments section.