yardsalesign

Yes!  Spring is here and you know what that means: the start of yard sale season!  I have been looking forward to this since yard sale season was over last year.  Today started a beautiful weekend and I was actually feeling better (I am getting over a REALLY bad cold.  yuck!)  so I decided to make it a ‘Girls Morning’ and take my daughter out to a few yard sales.  I buy and have bought a ton of stuff from flea markets and the like.  It’s a great way to get some great stuff at a fraction of the cost or sometimes even free.  Plus, the clothes don’t shrink when you wash them!  The only downside is that it’s luck of the draw.

Here’s a list of things I look for at yard sales flea markets:

  • Kids clothes
  • Books
  • Adult clothes
  • Shoes (This really depends.  They have to be in good condition)
  • Craft supplies
  • Flags
  • Stuffed animals (ALWAYS wash these first!)
  • Board games (make sure no pieces are missing)
  • Electronics (inexpensive ones)
  • Furniture
  • Home goods
  • Dishes and kitchen stuff
  • Tablecloths
  • Holiday decor
  • Cookie tins
  • Toys
  • and lots more!

Of course, I always wash clothes, sterilize toys and clean things as best I can before I use them.  I love a good bargain and I will always try to negotiate prices too!  Now, while I look for certain things, I also stay away from certain things too.

Here’s a list of things you might want to skip at yard sales and flea markets:

  • Bathing suits
  • Lingerie
  • Baby bedding (like crib liners and soft bedding.  They are known to cause SIDS)
  • Carseats (these get recalled all the time and they expire too. Plus, they are only made for ONE accident.  You never know. Just be careful or stay away altogether)
  • Old cribs (see above)
  • Cosmetics (they could be old and you might be asking for an infection if you buy them)
  • Baked goods and/or food (a lot of this stuff has been baking in the sun for hours.  No thanks!)
  • Water bottles and baby bottles (BPA is the culprit here)
  • Always check battery compartments before buying.  They could have battery corrosion in them.

These are just suggestions. You should always use your best judgement before making any purchase.  I always check stuff out very thoroughly just for my own benefit, but also because the seller might give you a better deal too!  I can still recall some of my best deals:

  • A dual tuner Tivo for $10 (pricing varies since the Tivo Roamio came out)
  • Two Winnie The Pooh walkers for $3 (originally $70 for one!)
  • A ThirtyOne insulated lunchbox with my initial monogrammed on it for $8 (originally $18 w/o monogramming)
  • A Little People A to Z Learning Zoo for $5 (originally $70)
  • A vintage baby boy snowsuit for $2.50
  • Set of Retro cafeteria style plates for FREE!
  • Vintage black heels for $3

So get out there and enjoy yourself.  I start out with a predetermined amount of cash.  Then once it’s gone, it’s gone.  That way, I can control my spending and it really makes me think before I buy.  I also keep a running list of items that I am always hunting for.  It makes it more fun!  Timing matters too.  Early gets you the best selections, whereas late gets you the best deals.  Happy hunting!

Do you go to yard sales and flea markets?  What are some good deals that you’ve gotten before?

 

 

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Holidays can be fatal to your budget…but only if you let them.  As you know, I am a self-proclaimed cheapskate.  Not a day goes by that I don’t try to think of new, creative ways that my family can use to save money and/or get something for free.  Some of my ideas are unorthodox but they work for us.  Certain holidays are not celebrated in my family, at least not on the specified day or in the traditional sense.  Valentines Day is one of those holidays.  So, while everyone is trying to outdo one another with flowers and candy, the Lane family is plotting how we can have the most fun with the least amount of money!  Here are some of the things we do for Valentines Day:

* We buy our candy on February 15th.  It’s still fresh and it’s always around 50% off.  No, it’s not the BEST deal but it’s the best selection and sometimes that works out better.  Buy the leftovers later to use in recipes and so forth.

*We go out using one of our Christmas gift cards, combined with a coupon of course. We also either go to lunch or a few days early or late.  Get caught in a crowd or pay holiday prices?  What do you think I am, an amateur?!?!

*We buy our decorations on clearance.  The Lane family stocks up on Valentines decor and cards one year in advance.  This way, you don’t have to rush out at the last minute plus you get everything at the best price.  Just be careful that nothing has a year on it.

*My flowers come from a grocery store, again, the day after.  Grocery store bouquets are just as pretty and they usually have some leftover after the holiday, on clearance.  Just put those babies in water and add some Sprite. They will perk right up!

*We might make a special dinner at home.  Restaurants cost a small fortune.  Plan a menu of what you would order at your favorite restaurant and then find the recipe.  Make it at home, together.  Thank you, Pinterest.

*Use your imagination.  Make your loved one a gift.  Those are more heartfelt anyway! I made this man-bouquet for my husband a few years ago.  I used a vase and ribbon that we already had and cheap heart sprigs.  The jerky and candy were on sale too.  It costs around $5 to make and he loved it.

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These might be common sense but I hope you might rethink how you spend Valentine’s Day.  Don’t let card companies and jewelry stores tell you how to celebrate!  🙂

So, what are your plans this V Day?

Yes!  You just have to have an open mind and a closed wallet. Haha!  One of the things my family loves is trying different restaurants and going out to eat.  However, we stick to a very strict weekly budget and it takes some creative planning on my part.  When we go out to a restaurant, we utilize as many of these tips as possible.  Order up!

1. Plan Ahead– Just like with most things in life, a plan helps things go smoothly.  We decide early in the week that we are/have to eat out this week.  Then I search for coupons in the newspaper, online, or just by asking friends.   I decide on a restaurant and then sign up for their email newsletter (in advance and I use my ‘freebie email address’ but I’ll have another post about that later).  Then in a day or two, you usually get a coupon for a free appetizer or a percentage off your meal!  Gift cards are also a great buy.  If you get them at certain times of the year, they offer extras.  For example, if you buy $50 in gift cards, you’ll get a free $10 gift card for you.  They don’t know that they are all for you!  Then use them throughout the year, combined with coupons/deals to save even more without breaking your budget.

2. Drink water– This one sucks sometimes but it’s totally worth it.  Sodas can rack up a bill, costing as much at $3 and some places don’t have free refills!  Don’t get me started on cocktails!  Water is free.  If you really can’t stand water, ask for lemons, squeeze them in your water, and then sneakily put a packet or two of sweetener for a makeshift lemonade.  Hey, I said I was thrifty!  You might get embarrassed by some methods.  To each his own.

3. Eat locally & know the specials– Remember tip #1.  See?  It comes in handy.  Local restaurants like local customers because you will come back if you enjoy it.  Therefore, eat when they are having a special deal.  Kids eat free some nights, certain meals will be cheaper, etc.  One local diner in our town has Italian Night every Wednesday and you can get homemade Eggplant Parmigiana, spaghetti, garlic bread, and all you can eat salad bar for $6.  It’s enough for two meals plus, I bought a locals card from the area high school that gets us an extra 20% every time we eat there after 4pm.  Seriously.  It pays to know the specials.

4. Waste not. Want not – We never waste food.  If they give us free bread and we don’t eat all of it, I take it home.  Someone will eat it, even if it’s our dog.  You can even tell them how much you love the sauce/bread/whatever and a lot of times, the server will wrap up an extra one for you.  It pays to be nice to your server.  Take all your leftovers home!  Even a tiny bit of veggies or meat can be added into tomorrow’s dinner.

5.  Happy Hour– My landlord used to go out every Tuesday with her husband and sit at the restaurant’s bar.  She got amazing specials and got to try delicious food for a fraction of the price.  You don’t need to drink to sit at the bar.  But if you ever want a cocktail, this is the way to go.

6.   Go around closing time– This works best for fast food.  Sometimes if you show up around the time they close, they want to get rid of the food that’s left over so you’ll get it at a better deal or even for free.  It tastes the same or maybe even better since the deal was so sweet!

I hope you can use some of these tips and found them helpful.  I know they come in handy with my family.  Who doesn’t like saving a little money?