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‘Thrifty Tips’ Category

  1. Match Game

    March 20, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2925_2We’ve discussed price matching previously as an excellent means of shopping frugally.  If you get the Sunday paper, you can check circulars for product pricing on many items you may want.

    But we wanted to take a post to remind you of the ease and money saving opportunity of price matching to!

    Tip: Make sure you are familiar with each store policy on price matching.

    On a recent trip to Target, we were shopping for a single new filter for our sink water filter.  We were shocked to see that Target was charging $19.99 for one replacement filter!  Knowing that there had to be a better price, we searched online and located the filter on for $8.99.

    Our young cashier didn’t know if Target allowed us to price match to Amazon, but she called over a manager to assist.  We were directed to the courtesy desk where, after a super quick verification of the online price, we were checked out and on our way home.

    Tip2:  This is another great use of your smart phone.  Don’t hesitate to take a minute to check a price online.

    We celebrated a 50% savings by simply searching for a product on our phone prior to checking out of the store!  And now that we are more aware of Target’s policy, we will complete our price check research prior to some of our shopping trips to make the experience even smoother.

    Enjoy your savings!

  2. Two By Two

    January 28, 2015 by admin

    ccall_bi02_38892_md Kids from birth to around 16 years of age do a tremendous amount of growing. Recently our Bluey hopped from a size 5T to 6T within mere weeks. His PJ bottoms inched towards his knees and his jeans were way too tight.

    You can make yourself crazy trying to keep a stock of well fitted clothing and shoes.

    So what to do? Well, a lot is dependent on the age of your child. You can find many unique solutions to the constant need for clothing and shoes when your kids are under 10. But once they start to inch towards puberty, we have found that kids become a lot less flexible about exploring options.

    Our Bluey is six, so we’re enjoying his laissez faire attitude.   We’ve tried a couple of different things to keep ahead of the constant growth.

    Thrifting is a great resource if you have time and patience. Since the stock of clothing is constantly changing, you might not easily find that pair of size 4T pants. You then have to consider if the savings is worth the effort.

    Hand me downs are great- when your kids are the same gender and/or have the same taste in clothing. Our Bluey has inherited many an adored pink kitten shirt from his sister. But the dresses and nightgowns are summarily rejected. So we have an abundance of certain sizes and styles without actually filling the current needs.

    A whole new wardrobe every few months is fantastic. But our budget just can’t handle the turnover demand. We try to stock up, when funds allow, on sale/clearance clothing a few sizes up. But that strategy if very hit or miss. And again, we typically end up with more of one particular item rather than a well-balanced future wardrobe.

    76313_washer_mdOur tried and true problem solver has been to always have at least two pairs of pants and two shirts in the proper size. We have our own washer/dryer and we do a load of wash every day-with four people in the house, the dirty clothing adds up very quickly!  Bluey doesn’t really care what he’s wearing as long as it is comfortable and happens to mostly conform to his broad sense of style.

    Although his clothes wear out pretty fast under this system, they keep up with his knack for outgrowing them, so it all works out.

    We aren’t necessarily saving a boat load of money with this solution to the clothing crises, but we are sane and happy. And Bluey always has something that fits!

  3. Digital Coupons

    January 9, 2015 by admin

    IMG_9688We are a couponing family. Growing up with couponing parents, we can’t resist following suit and teaching our kiddos the skills to knock down the prices of their favorite finds.  We haven’t quite mastered the art, so we’re not what you’d call ‘extreme couponers.’  But we’re always researching and growing our resources for maximum cost savings.

    We figure every penny saved adds to our opportunity to go out and have more adventures or allows us to buy more supplies for the next big art project.

    A lot of folks seem to think that couponing takes a ton of time. They can’t be bothered with the gathering, sorting, and scissoring. And forget about remembering to bring those little bits of paper along on a shopping trip.

    Welcome to the digital age! We have some favorite mobile coupon apps that are a snap to use and will save you money 90% of the time.

    Cartwheel for Target:  When this app was first released, TRMom hated it. But now, thanks to Target’s fixes to its shortcomings, it is in constant use. We especially like the feature that allows you to scan products. Once the barcode is read, the app will tell you whether or not a cartwheel savings exists!IMG_9687

    Tip1: Target will price match to Cartwheel (and other store circulars) for any purchases made within 7 days as long as you have your receipt. This was a huge bonus at Christmas when prices were constantly moving.

    Flipp:  You no longer need to go through store circulars. This app gathers all that information for you. Curious about who might have the best price on Beneful dog food? Search in Flipp and find out. Stores like Walmart will price match to competitors circulars.

    Tip2: Check the price matching policy of each and every store prior to shopping. Walmart has an incredibly lenient price match policy but Target is rather strict.

    There is really no excuse to pay full price for a ton of items. Download some mobile apps today and start saving!

  4. Holiday Tunes Update

    December 19, 2014 by admin

    fairy_10_mdWe are huge fans of holiday music.  Each year we try to seek out as many new songs as we can find to further fill out our extensive holiday playlist.

    And we attempt to do it for free.

    That’s right!  There is so much free holiday music out there, that each season we are able to add several hundred tunes to our collection.  You just need to know where to look.

    Free downloads are somewhat harder to come by than they used to be.   The big push to convince people to stream music instead of owning it outright has led many purveyors (like Amazon, for instance)  to offer “playlists” and streams, rather than true downloads.  But they are still out there.

    Here are a few starting places for you:

    Noise trade:  Many artists use free downloads from Noisetrade as a way to gain fans.  And this is no less true for the holiday season.  Head over to the Noisetrade website and type Holiday or Christmas into the search bar.  You’ll instantly see dozens of albums, eps and singles available for free download.

    iTunes:  Each week, the Apple iTunes store offers a free download from one of its many artists.  Stop by and add few free tunes!

    Let us know if you find other reliable sources for free holiday tunes and we’ll add them to the list!!

  5. Tweet For A Track

    June 20, 2014 by admin


    You know we love pointing out sources for free and legal mp3s.  Here’s a new one we discovered recently, thanks to Righteous Babe Records.

    How about a simple way to combine supporting artists while you spread the word about them, and then they give you free music?

    Could it be simpler than sending a tweet?

    At Tweet For A Track, you find a song you like and send out an auto-composed tweet about it.  Then the service sends a download code to your email for the track.

    It’s free,  It’s simple. We’ve picked up tracks from Joan Jett and Ingrid Michaelson, as well as tons of new artists, all for a simple tweet.

    Give it a go!

  6. Little Saver

    June 11, 2014 by admin

    We’ve been teaching our young Bluey the value of saving his money.

    We recently got a bank account for Bluey and Plum when our bank opened a branch within walking distance of our home. So we periodically take a walk to the bank and deposit a few dollars that we hope will pile up into something big in their future.IMG_6330

    But we’ve also been tackling the other end of the saving spectrum: purchasing. We’re trying to help our Bluey learn not to blow through all of his spending money every time he has a few beans in his pocket.

    What if, instead of buying a thing you don’t really want so much, you saved your money until another time? Then you could buy yourself one of the bigger ticket items that has caught your eye.

    So far, the process is working pretty well. Bluey has a piggy bank allocated for short-term savings goals.  When he skips buying a small toy, he puts his money in there. He’s starting to see that if he foregoes a few purchases, he can later afford something really, really cool.

    It’s a start. We know Bluey will still be attracted to nifty little things at various gift shops and stores we visit.  But our hope is that with each purchase deferred, he’ll learn more clearly the value of saving up for the things that really matter to him.

  7. The Pabst Theater

    May 4, 2014 by admin

    Pabst TheaterWe are always on the search for sites offering free, legal Mp3s to expand our musical knowledge-base.  A frequently overlooked source for free cutting edge songs is the venues that host concerts.

    Many theaters are able to host songs from bands as promos for upcoming shows.

    2767747155_0ef8e6cac9A great theater we love (where TRMom and TRDad saw the ubercute Martha Wainwright, among others) is the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee.

    A quick view of the Pabst website shows the “Free Mp3” tab on the right-hand side.  A few seconds later you’ve got eight or ten new songs to enjoy.

    You don’t need to attend the concerts, or join the theater’s website.  You don’t need to live in Wisconsin, or anywhere near the Pabst.  Just download and enjoy!

    Is there a theater near you offering free music to entice ticket sales?  If so, let us know!

  8. New Musical Express

    April 4, 2014 by admin

    images-1New Musical Express, once the go-to magazine for news about the hottest bands in the UK, is now host to a great website that includes tons of news articles, retrospectives, free album streaming, and free downloadable Mp3s.

    NME (as those “in the know” call it) is one of the largest online music magazines these days!  And did we mention the free music?

    Only trouble is, freebies aren’t grouped together into one single part of the site.  So the best way to find the many free tunes is to head over to NME, and type ‘free mp3’ into the search window and marvel at all the posts that pop up.

    Just today we found remixes of Roxy Music, 19 free songs from London-based record label Something In Construction, and songs from The Weather and Seven Saturdays.

    Although NME is a UK magazine, the music reviews and downloads are not all British bands- indeed the last two bands noted above are from Portland, OR and LA, respectively.

    So put NME in your bookmark file, and check in regularly.  You are bound to find some great new music (along with keeping up to date on the latest in music news- like Kate Bush doing live shows! )250px-Nme_cover


  9. Dream Bikes

    March 23, 2014 by admin

    Oh, those growing kids!  With her ever-increasing height, our Plum needed a new bicycle for this spring.

    So the search was on for the most affordable bike- something she’d be happy with, that would be reliable, and hopefully would allow her some room to grow.  We take a rather meticulous path to finding the best value for a major purpose, so we started checking out the stores that might have inexpensive models.  We also started looking about for any used bikes that were on the market.IMG_1600

    We stopped at a great local bicycle shop in our neighborhood- Revolution Cycles!  We love the crew at Revolution, and knew they would help us out.  They made a few recommendations about what size bike would work for our Plum.  But unfortunately, they were currently sold out of used bikes that would fit her.

    What to do?  We asked Revolution for ideas and they immediately suggested Dream Bikes.

    Dream Bikes is a non-profit that situates their stores in underserved neighborhoods.  They take in used bikes, fix them up and sell them to the public, using the profits from the sales to offer good jobs and training to local teens who make the repairs and run the bike shops.

    We headed over to Dream Bikes and were astounded by the great selection and service we found.  Our salesperson, David, was patient with our Plum, listening to her wants and showing her a number of bikes that he thought might fit the bill.  Her final choice- a vintage Schwinn Mirada (the same model TRDad rode for over a decade)- was decked out with a rear double basket and a horn, all for an amazingly low price.IMG_5237

    We can’t recommend Dream Bikes enough to anyone in the Madison or Milwaukee areas looking for a new bike.  We are thrilled to have found a place offering great bikes at fantastic prices that provides excellent service and contributes to the community.

  10. Free on iTunes

    February 28, 2014 by admin

    itunes-logoAs you know, we are big fans of free and legal music downloads.  We search regularly for opportunities to sample new songs and find new artists to listen to.

    One of the places we head to frequently is the ‘Free’ section at the iTunes store.

    You may already have an iTunes/AppleID account, but don’t forget to make a regular stop at the “Free” page.  As one of the largest sources of online music, iTunes is able to host free downloads from the major label artist you have already heard of and may already like.  The free songs rotate regularly, so check back often.

    Tip: You can also download videos, TV shows, books and movies from the free section.

    Kelly Clarkson, Zola Jesus, Kellie Pickler along with other top artists and up-and-comers have had free tunes up on iTunes recently.  So make a point to stop by, see what they’ve got to fill out your playlist a bit more.

    Maybe you’ll discover some great new music.