52 Weeks of Saving (Week 44 of 52)

Week 44 – Large Scrap Paper

There are countless things that large pieces of paper are good for, even if they are already used on one side. S loves to draw on them, I use them for patterns and templates, and most recently we have been using them for packing paper. Matt is able to bring home rolls and rolls of large pieces of scrap paper from work so we have a pretty much endless supply. I estimated that using recycled paper saved us at least $30 or $40 in packing paper.

While we are lucky that Matt can just bring home large pieces scrap paper from work, you could probably ask any engineering type firm or printing company if they have scrap paper you could have. My mom used to get rolls from the local newspaper printer. If you have a young child who likes to draw and paint, or if you are moving, finding a free source of large scrap paper is definitely a money saver.

A Year to Clear (Week 44 of 52)

Week 44 – Bridesmaid Dresses

CaptureI had a couple of nice bridesmaid dresses in my closet that I wasn’t sure what to do with. They are “special to me” (as S would say) because I wore them in weddings of people I care about, but I know there is almost no chance I will ever wear them again. I didn’t want to just give the dresses to a thrift store like Goodwill, but I also knew keeping them wasn’t very practical. When I read about Project Princess I finally had my answer.

According to their website, the mission of Project Princess “is to provide central Texas underprivileged women with the opportunity to experience the once-in-a-lifetime magic of their high school prom without having to worry about the financial obligations the event requires. We work very diligently to see that a girl does not miss her prom based on monetary troubles.”

So today S and I dropped off my bridesmaid dresses at a store that collects the dresses for Project Princess. We did have a bit of an issue yesterday when S wanted to wear the dresses to play in, but when we dropped them off she was thrilled to run around all the racks of wedding dresses at the store. I hope some high school girl will be able to give the dresses a second life and that the dresses will help make their prom night special. Oh, and the dresses weighed three pounds.

52 Weeks of Saving (Week 43 of 52)

Week 43 – Discount Days

KiddieAcresQuite a few museums and places like amusement parks will have discount days either once a month or once a week. One of our favorite places in Austin is the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and I know they actually have a few days over the summer that are completely free. We haven’t taken advantage of the Wildflower Center free days because we are members, but now that S is a little older I am starting to pay attention to other places that have discount days.

On Wednesday we went to the tiniest, oldest, amusement park that probably exists, anywhere. I took S on Wednesday because tickets were $1.25 each instead of $2.25. I’m glad they were because the rides were so small and there were so few of them that she wanted to go on each ride atleast twice and we went through tickets fast, so fast I had to go buy more. Despite the fact that there were only five ride, a train, a few ponies, and for the first hour we were the only ones there, S had a great time. She walked around with an expression of pleased bewilderment on her face and was so happy to discover that she could go on the rides by herself. She is growing up too fast. The morning was worth $20, but I don’t think it would have quite been worth $35 so I am glad that it was discount day.


A Year to Clear (Week 43 of 52)

 Week 43 – Cookbooks

We have quite a few cookbooks and to be honest, we never use most of them since we usually get recipes from websites online. I also have compiled our favorite recipes on the website Plan to Eat so we don’t have to pull out the cookbook or look up a recipe every time. There are a few more specialized cookbooks that we use and a few that have been gifts that I don’t want to get rid of, but there are also some that we have collected over time that we just don’t need any more. So this week, while I was packing stuff up to move, I found eight pounds of cookbooks that I decided to get rid of and donate to Goodwill. Hopefully someone else who hasn’t entered the digital age quite yet will find more use for the books than we have lately.

A Year to Clear (Week 42 of 52)

Week 42 – Baby Stuff

Babies have so much stuff! As a first time mom I was pretty determined that there was a lot of stuff I didn’t need despite what all the stores like Babies R Us try to make you believe. We didn’t want to be “that family” whose living room was overtaken by baby gear and baby toys. We were never quite overtaken, but we did end up with a lot of “stuff” and I am still working on clearing it out. Today I went through S’s closet and found 21 pounds of baby “stuff” that I don’t think we need to hold onto including a play mat, nursing pillow, blankets, hangars, and clothes. Since I don’t know anyone who needs it right now I am going to take it to a local organization that provides assistance for victims of sexual and domestic violence. By taking it there I know that it will go to someone who really needs it and help make their life a little bit easier. I was worried S would see some of her baby stuff and resist giving it away, but she seemed OK with it, she just wanted to make sure that we weren’t getting rid of her books and the cushion that I made her. I hope making her part of small things like donating items to people in need will help start her on a path of giving to others and lending a helping hand whenever possible.

52 Weeks of Saving (Week 42 of 52)

Week 42 – Second Life for Children’s Clothes

PajamasKids grow fast. I think S grew more than an inch in the past month or two. Also, what they like/want to wear seems to always be changing. This means kids go through A LOT of clothes. Recently S decided she no longer wants to wear footed pajamas at night. I buy her expensive organic pajamas so I was kind of bummed when she started refusing to wear them. I tried to wait her out and see if she would change her mind, but nope, I think we are through with footed pajamas. Instead of buy her new pajamas, I took the pairs with worn toes and cut the feet off. If I had bought new organic pajamas I would have spent at least $20 a pair (she still refuses to wear two piece pajamas, only one piece, footless ones). So far I have chopped the feet off two pairs of footed pajamas, saving us over $40.

Other ways I have discovered that give S’s clothes a second life: use outgrown dresses as shirts (so cute with leggings); hold onto leggings that are too short until they fit like capri-length leggings and then let her wear them again;  and cut outgrown pants into shorts. She also likes to wear her cousin’s hand-me-down dresses that are a size or two too big for her, I guess in a way it is a good thing since she will be able to wear them for at least another year or two, saving me from having to buy her new dresses and saving us money as well.

A Year to Clear (Week 41 of 52)

Week 41 – Tools

SawbladesWhile packing a few boxes this week with Matt I discovered that he had a small collection of dull saws/saw blades (three pounds total). They aren’t ones that can be easily sharpened so Matt decided he didn’t need them anymore. I assume they had been hanging around the garage because Matt didn’t really know what to do with them despite the fact that he knew he would never use them again. So now I am getting rid of them, the question is, what is the best way? Can I do something besides throw them in the garbage? A quick search on Google indicated that I could cut them up and turn them into knife blades (not going to happen) or turn them into wall art or clocks (also not going to happen), so what do I do with them? I’m still trying to figure that out. I am hoping that our neighbor who was collecting scrap metal will want them, if not I’ll have to figure something else out, hopefully something besides putting them in the garbage can since I really feel like they should be recyclable.

52 Weeks of Saving (Week 41 of 52)

Week 41 – Negotiate

I’m pretty happy that I live in a culture where we don’t barter and negotiate for everyday items. I can’t imagine having to negotiate the price for a block of cheese or new shirt. On the other hand, when it comes to big items that we do negotiate for (like cars and houses), I find it mentally exhausting. Maybe if I was a poker player it would be a little easier because I feel like the whole negotiation process is just trying to call the other party’s bluff. This week we were negotiating the final sale price on our house. Since the market has gone up quite a bit in the past five years we are lucky to be in a position where we won’t lose money when we sell our house. However, that doesn’t mean that every dollar doesn’t still count.

Earlier this week we had gone back and forth with the buyer a couple of times on a final contract price. Matt was about to just say “give them what they want and be done” for fear they would get mad and walk if we kept pushing them for more money, but I decided to try for another $1000. It is easy to lose perspective when you are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, but $1000 is still $1000. We presented one more counter offer to the buyer and they accepted it. We had a final contract and a $1000 more than if we had just gone ahead and accepted their last offer. So my lesson for the week is don’t be scared to negotiate, it just might pay off and save you a good bit of money, like $1000.

Where else is it good to negotiate for a better price? I have called cable companies before and asked for a better deal so I guess that is sort of negotiating. I have also called and asked for better deals with service providers like Sirius radio. Other than that I don’t usually question a price unless it says something like “OBO”, but maybe I should, maybe I would save more money if I just asked for a better deal, especially on big ticket items.

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