Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Freezing Individual Servings

As regular readers of Save 4 Fun know, I like freezing food. It helps to have ready-made meals prepared as well as a means of stocking up on sale items. However, I've found that sticking a whole package of meat in the freezer isn't always the best idea. Once you thaw it, you have to cook it. Maybe I don't want or need the whole package. Something I tried recently has worked well to help with this problem.

The first tip involves bacon. If you freeze a whole package, you can forget trying to pry one or two strips out until it's thawed. I don't always need a full package at once. So, the last time I bought bacon, I pulled apart the individual strips. Then, I laid them out on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer. Once they were frozen, I put them into a freezer bag. Now, I can just pull out a piece or two when I need it. The other night we had baked potatoes for dinner. I took two pieces of bacon out and cooked them. It was great on the potatoes. The rest of the bacon stays in the freezer until I need it another time.

The second tip is for chicken breasts. On Sunday when I purchased a package of skinless, boneless chicken breasts on sale, I decided not to freeze the whole package. Instead, I cut the three breasts length-wise. That created six thin but good sized chicken breasts. I froze them in the same way as I did the bacon. I'm kind of picky about my chicken. So, I was able to clean it up even more than how it sold before freezing it. Now, it is all ready to be cooked - either one piece or a bunch of them, depending on what the need is.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Saving on Moving Boxes

When we moved my sister out and my husband-to-be in, neither of them had to buy moving boxes. That's good because that seems a little ridiculous to me to buy boxes.

Angie's friends had just moved and had lots of boxes that they had purchased from the moving company. They were nice boxes that both she and Michael used.

They also used the boxes that reams of paper come in too. Those are great sized boxes for carrying and for stacking. They work well for storage as well. We got those for free from our offices.

Another source of boxes was the shipping boxes in which many of our wedding gifts arrived. They were also good sized boxes because they were big enough to hold a fair amount of items but not too big to carry once filled.

If none of those sources works for you or doesn't provide enough for your needs, check out Freecycle and Craigslist. I see people giving away moving boxes all of the time on those sites. Actually, once we get settled, I'll give ours away that way too. It's better to give them at least one more use than to recycle them since they are all still in good shape.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saving on a Moving Truck

Last month when we got a rental truck to move Michael's large pieces of furniture into my place where we would live post-wedding, I found out a little savings tip. Trucks are often less expensive to rent on Sundays than on Saturdays.

We had waited until the last minute to book a truck. So, even though we wanted to move on a Saturday, there weren't any trucks nearby that were available. We had to do it on the following day instead. But we saved $20 on the truck rental at Budget by getting it on Sunday rather than Saturday.

In quickly reviewing the Budget website as I began to write this post, I noticed it seems that moving truck rental prices are much like airfare and hotel rates. They vary based on demand and the time (date/day of the week) of use. You can get the same truck today for $29.99 plus $.79/mile that goes for $69.99 plus $.79/mile next Saturday. Next Sunday, the price is $49.99 plus $.79/mile.

If you have flexibility in your dates, especially for a local move, it might be worth looking into the prices for different dates. If you are available today, you could save quite a bit by moving now. Or you might find that booking in advance will help you save.

One word of caution: like hotels and airlines, rental truck companies also overbook. We got to the pick-up place fairly early when we got our truck. However, the person just two spaces in line behind us was told that she'd have to go get her truck at another location because they had run out of all of their trucks that morning. Like the rest of us in line, she had a reservation. Get there early!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wedding Full of Deals

I'm back from the wedding and honeymoon. They were both fantastic! There is so much to do to set up our new house, but I'm going to try to find a little time for the blog.

Not to worry - I won't fill Save 4 Fun with all kinds of wedding things. However, the other day on the bus on the way home from work I jotted down all of the things for the wedding that I got on sale, on clearance, with a coupon, or for a low price. There actually may be more, but this amused I thought I'd tell you about it.

11 candles on the altar in honor and memory of family & friends came from the Dollar Tree.

The beautiful wedding cake was from Wal-Mart. (This was an amazing deal...I will probably have to post a picture of it when I get one because it was lovely.)

We got the wedding bands online from two different vendors (Blue Nile and Of course, we had coupon codes! And Blue Nile is a partner with Shop Discover, so I got an extra Cash Back Bonus there.

My wedding shoes were on clearance (for $13 -- regular $80) at the Naturalizer outlet.

I thought I was going to wear Mom's pearl necklace that I like, but it was too short for the neckline of my dress. Not wanting to spend much on a new necklace, we got one at Kohl's on sale and with a coupon for about $13.

The dress I wore for the ceremony was my grandmother's wedding dress. It did require some repair work; however, it was still less than a new wedding dress.

The frames I used to display pictures as centerpieces at the reception were from yard sales and Freecycle.

The baskets that I used to hold the favors and for the bubbles (that guest blew for our exit) were from yard sales, Freecycle, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army.

The silk flowers and ribbon used to decorate the bubble baskets and gift card holder were on sale.

The ribbon we used for the bows on the chapel pews, doors, and outside railings and lights were purchased with coupons.

My custom-made guest book (a Kodak Gallery photo book of pictures of Michael and me from birth through our engagement) was purchased with a coupon code, and I got Upromise credit.

The flower girl's basket and the ring bearer's pillow were on clearance. They were white, but everything else for the wedding was ivory. That wasn't working for me, so a very talented friend covered them in ivory lace. They were beautiful!

The chocolate lollipops that my sister made for favors were not only tasty and cute, but we got the supplies on sale and with a coupon.

The photographer gave us a 10% discount for paying in full up front.

The glass platter that the wedding cake sat on was a few buck from the DAV thrift store.

The knives and servers for the wedding and groom's cakes were purchased with coupons.

Our DIY invitations were on sale.

Our matching DIY programs were purchased with coupons.

I wanted the flower girl to use silk flower petals. I couldn't see paying $9.99 at the craft store for them. Even on sale or with a coupon, they were too much. The Dollar Tree had packages of the same quantity (300 count), obviously for just a dollar. However, all they offered were white. I needed ivory. So, I tea-stained them, and they looked great.

It was simply good luck, but I found the perfect necklaces for the bridesmaids at Talbot's -- and they were on sale!

I got the flower girl a monogrammed silver locket from Blue Nile with a coupon code. And again, I got an extra Cash Back Bonus from Shop Discover.

In the end, I was really pleased how everything turned out with the wedding. It was by no means inexpensive. We were blessed to have a generous budget from my parents and from my own savings. However, it was far less than the national average for the cost of a wedding. I really didn't have to sacrifice anything that I really wanted because of a tight budget. In fact I even got my top choices on several of the vendors...and ones I still really liked even if I didn't get the top choice on other things. And then things like the cake that I didn't actually care much about turned out far better that I could have imagined.

I will eventually be converting my blog for wedding guests into a blog about the tips and tricks I learned along the well as my comments on the vendors we used. It will be a while to do that. However, once that's ready, I'll let you know in case you or someone you know is planning a wedding.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

I'll Be Back!

Dear Save 4 Fun Readers,

It's nearly wedding time! I'll return to writing in two or three weeks. I've had lots of saving ideas lately on all sorts of subjects. However, I have little time to write because of all of the wedding preparations. So, I thought I'd officially let you know that I'm temporarily signing off.

I hope you will return mid-August and read the new tips.

Take care!

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