Frugal Ways to Show Your Love on Father’s Day

baby deals(Photo Credit: Culvert Cafe and Catering)

I am always looking for ways to cut costs, and Father’s day is no exception! With all the advertising and commercialization of the holiday, it’s hard to avoid going overboard with expensive presents. But, like most gifts, it’s the thought that truly counts.  My fabulously creative and thoughtful sister came up with several ways to tell Dad or Grandpa that you love and appreciate them without spending a lot of money:

  • Have the kids make cards: You can supply the paper and crayons, the kids can provide the creativity! You can even print out a card template online to get them started.
  • Make Dad breakfast in bed: Even toast and cereal is special when the little ones help, plus your kiddos will be so proud of themselves for contributing!
  • Do something together: Keep the day focused on family time and have it all planned out. Pack a picnic lunch and play catch at the baseball field, Frisbee at the park, or take a hike together. Just be sure it’s something dad will enjoy!
  • Make a photo gift: If you’re anything like me you have roughly a billion photos of your adorable children. You can order a photo mug for less than $10, and it’s an easy way for dad to show off pictures at work.
  • Create a handprint gift: Uses fabric paint and make hand prints or foot prints on a shirt, beach towel, or pillowcase.  If you have more than one kid, make a card out of giant posterboard and have the kids personalize it with their own little hands (Grandparents love this one!).
  • Make a coupon book from Mom to Dad: Think of things dad loves that he doesn’t get to indulge in very often: Sleeping in, going to a car show, etc. Make some certificates and make dad happy!
  • Clean his car:  What man (or woman) doesn’t want a clean car? Clean out all the junk from the inside, dust the surfaces and wash and wax the exterior. Give the kids sponges and bowls of water so they can help wash the outside.  It will look great and he will love it!
  • Make a gift basket:  Use items from your stockpile or pick up a bunch of small items (be sure to check out your dollar store!).  The themes are endless:  Car Care, Men’s body care, handyman, tasty treats and so much more!
  • Create a Thoughtful Card:  Pick up a nice greeting card for $.50 at Dollar Tree. Write a letter or card to him telling him a special memory or time when you thought he was a great Dad.  Have the kids help.  It is amazing what kids will tell you when you ask them to say special things about Daddy, and I guarantee it will touch his heart!

Remember Fathers Day is supposed to be about showing the dads in your life that you care for them.  Make Dad feel important and appreciated; that’s what really matters!

What are you doing for Father’s Day? Will you be giving gifts or doing something special? Share in the comments below!

10 Ways to Go Green With a Baby and Save Money at the Same Time!

baby deals(photo credit: seanmcgrath)

I’ll be the first to admit it: there’s quite a bit of room for improvement in my life, especially when we’re talking about living a greener lifestyle. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I’m guessing a lot of you BGB readers are doing the same! Today I came up with a list of (mostly simple) ways to go green with your baby and hopefully save some cash, too! If you have ideas to add, please leave a comment to share them with other readers.

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Saving Money 101: How to Get Coupons

The following is a guest post by my sister, Molly. She and my mom have taught me almost everything I know about saving money!

If you are reading this websit eyou know that coupons can save you a lot of money.  Pair a coupon with a store sale, clearance deal, rebate or ,if you are lucky enough to live in an area that double coupons you can get excellent deals.

But How do I get a coupon stash started? That’s the question lots of people who want to start saving money ask. It might seem like the first newspaper you buy after you commit to start clipping coupons has useless coupons for products you wouldn’t use, or it might be a holiday and there aren’t any coupons at all! Here are some other ways to start building up that coupon file:

::Print: Check out the online coupons at Coupons.com or SmartSource.com.  If there is a great diaper coupon I know I want more of, I’ll ask my mom (or my sister!) to print them for me as she would not use this coupon anyway.

::Let the Companies Know You Like Them: You might get some coupons by sending an email to your favorite companies.  It just takes a few seconds and sometimes they send you out coupons as a “thank you” for being a loyal customer.  If you sign up on the products website as an email subscriber, join their club, become a fan on facebook, sometimes they send out coupons or samples in the mail or printable deals via email.  If you’re worried about cluttering up your inbox with a bunch of mass mailings, a second free email account works great for this!  If you sign up for a free samples of products they usually come with coupons in the mail.

::Buy or Trade Coupons: Sometimes it is worth it to buy coupons on Ebay.  Just be really careful that you will get the coupons in the mail before the deal is over!  You can also join message boards on websites such as afullcup.com and Hot Coupon World to trade coupons.  How this works is you list what you have to trade and other people list what they have to trade.

::Keep Your Eyes Open: Coupons are in all sorts of places! There are tearpads on displays and all over gas stations and grocery stores. There are “peelie” sticker coupons stuck to a number of products at any given time. One of the grocery stores in my area has a bin of coupons in the front of the store for customers.  I bring the ones I do not want and take the ones that I want.  I have read that some libraries do this also.  If you belong to a playgroup or mom’s group consider starting a coupon box where everyone can share their coupons!

::Buy the Sunday Paper: Even if you were disappointed the first time you looked at a Sunday insert, keep trying! As you learn more about coupon shopping, you’ll find better deals and more uses for many of those coupons that seemed worthless at first glance!  If you do not get the paper ask your non-couponing family members or neighbors if you can have their coupon inserts.  Most people are glad to give them away and reduce waste since they’re going to throw them out anyway!

Spend a little time gathering coupons before shopping and you could save a tone of money!

How to Save Money on Baby’s Bath Time

The following is a guest post from Amy at Raising Arrows.

Baby’s Bath Time: No Need for Your Money to Go Down the Drain!


baby-deals

Baby’s first bath at home is nothing short of magical.  In our family, it is an event worthy of videos and photographs with a whole pile of siblings looking on.  With all the baby bath paraphernalia out there, you’d also think it is an event worthy of spending a mint on.

But it isn’t.

Bathing baby shouldn’t cause money to go down the drain with the bath water.  You can easily give baby a bath on a teeny tiny budget.  In fact, all you need are just a few things to give baby a wonderful bath time for months to come. Here is a list and cost break-down of precisely what you need:

baby-bath-deals1. Comfy Bath Sponge/Cushion – $7.99 This is all we’ve ever used with all 6 (soon to be 7) of our children.  When they were newborn, we laid them on the sponge on the floor of the living room to give them their sponge baths.  When the cord fell off, we moved the sponge to the bath tub with just a small amount of water to wet and warm the sponge and bathed them there until they could sit up.  When they were bigger, we used the sponge as a slip guard for them to sit on.  It was perfect for all our needs for many months.

baby-deals2.  Ivory soap bar – 3/$1.99 Ivory soap is a nice pure soap you can buy for cheap.  Since baby is laying down for those early baths, you need not worry about it getting in his eyes.  However, if you are concerned about that, keep a small bottle of baby shampoo on hand just for washing baby’s hair.  In fact, you will probably come home from the hospital with several of these.  Since baby only needs a small amount of soap to get clean, those free trial sizes can last a long time.

3.  Trial size lotion – Free-$.99 Those little bottles of lotion go a long way.  Even my 10 pound babies didn’t need much lotion to coat their little bodies.  The bottles of trial size lotion you received as shower gifts or at the hospital will more than likely last you a long time.  I do not lather my babies up with a ton of lotion because I don’t like how slippery it makes them.  Plus you never want to put lotion on their little hands (you know, the ones that are always in their mouths and eyes! )

4.  Washcloths – Free (or close to it)  The best baby washcloths are flannel or t-shirt knit.  More than likely you have an old shirt or sheet or something you could cut up into washcloth size squares perfect for bathing your sweet little one.  I like to take old t-shirts and cut two squares and serge them or zig-zag stitch the edges together to make baby washcloths (exactly the way I do for my homemade baby wipes).  But even if you don’t sew, the raggedy edges are well worth the wonderful softness of these homemade washcloths

5.  Bath Towel – Free While a bath towel isn’t initially free, I am almost positive someone in your family uses a bath towel.  I am also positive that same bath towel can be shared by baby.  Yes, the little hooded towels are utterly adorable, but the hoods rarely fit on their heads right.  The precious terry cloth robes are fun, but somewhat of a pain to actually get on baby.  The real purpose of all towels is to dry off wet bodies.  The bath towels the rest of your family uses will work just fine.

So, there you have it…months and months of baby baths for a whopping $10.97!  Perfect for baby!  Perfect for your budget!

Amy is the mother of 6 children, with another on the way.  She blogs at RaisingArrows.net on everything from homeschooling to large family living.  She is by nature and necessity a frugalista.

Frugal Baby: How to Make a Girl’s Dress Out of a Dish Towel

The Pillowcase Dress is so 2004, don’t you think?

Actually, I absolutely love pillowcase dresses, but that’s a story for another time!

Back to the point: I was doing some blog-hopping a few days ago and I came across this: a tutorial for a girl’s dress made from two dishtowels. It was so cute, I knew that you frugal readers out there would love to read about it! Really, all it takes is two dish towels, some thread and a spool of ribbon! The author even used dish towels she bought for $1 each at Target!

I can hardly use a sewing machine, but I’m 99% sure even I could pull this off!

Sorry I don’t have images to illustrate the adorableness of this idea, but I haven’t actually made them yet, and I’m not about to use someone else’s photos. So, click here and see the dress for yourself!

Frugal Baby: How to Save Money on Gifts


The following is a guest post from a good friend and mom to several kids!

How to Save Money on Gifts for Kids (and Adults, Too!)

The Gift Closet/Gift Storage Solution

It always seems that one of my kids’ birthdays is right around the corner, or someone is invited to another birthday party, or Christmas is coming in just a few short months. Since there’s usually something happening that requires a gift, I had to learn to money on these items as they took up a huge chunk of my budget.

Here is my strategy: I have a small storage closet in my basement that I have named The Gift Closet. When I’m shopping and I find an item discounted by at least 75%, I consider if it would be a good gift for any of our family members. If it’s the right price and I can see potential in giving it to someone in the future, I purchase it and store it in The Gift Closet!

The month following Christmas is one of the best times to stock a gift closet. Holiday merchandise is not all red and green with snowflakes! Last January, I found several Disney Princess items for 75% off (less than $5 each) and they did not look “Christmas like” at all.

I also find a ton of items at “Back to School time” when crayons, markers and other art supplies are on the cheap. For adults, I shop the semi-annual clearance sales at Bath & Body Works, The Body Shop and Victoria’s Secret and snap up full-size lotions and soaps priced at $2 or less each. If I have a high-value coupon for Kohl’s or JCPenney ( like $10 off $10) I buy something in advance. Everything I buy goes into the Gift Closet for future presents.

If you can’t afford the space to give up a closet for gifts, don’t worry! Pick up a few big plastic totes and label them by age. You could simply label Kids and Adults or you could get a few more and sort by Baby/Toddler, Pre-School, Elementary School, etc. Even if you just have one tote and you dump all your gifts into it, you’re ahead of the game and saving money!

Use Coupons
If you play The Drugstore Game, you know that you can get some pretty nice free items at Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid each week. Many of those finds are definitely gift-worthy, especially when grouped with other items! I can put together a lovely gift basket with free body wash, lotion and a $1 bath scrubber, and no one knows that the entire thing costs only as much as the basket and scrubber!

Personally, I like gifts that I can use – I do not need any more knicknacks or trinkets! Food is a great and much-loved gift. My dad truly loves and appreciates a gift bag filled with special snacks like peanuts, mixed nuts, candy, and cookies. These can all be cheap or free if you use coupons and watch for deals at websites like Common Sense with Money.

Shop The Dollar Store or Dollar Section
Sometimes my Dollar Tree has great items for gifts. I have found great cookbooks, kids books, calendars, coloring books, photo frames and other wonderful items that originally cost much more than $1. Remember, lots of dollar stores carry brand-name goods that were liquidated from other retailers. If you start looking, you might get lucky and find some great deals for a dollar.

The “One Spot” Dollar Shop at Target is another great place to find bargain gifts. You can even find this stuff on clearance for up to 75% off at different times throughout the year! Other stores with dollar sections include Michael’s and Toys R Us. Think creatively when you browse through Dollar Stores and dollar departments. Could you put a coloring book with markers and some bubbles into a cute beach bucket for the next toddler party you attend?

Greeting Cards
I also purchase all of my cards at Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree always has nice cards and they are 2 for $1.00. If I’m in a pinch I know I can find a decent selection of cards for $1 at most drugstores. I never pay more than $1 per card.

My kids also love to make cards for relatives and the recipients always love it! It is a double bonus – something homemade and free! Last year I bought a white piece of poster board for $.25 on sale, and the kids made a huge birthday card for their great grandma. Grandma loved it so much she cried, and the kids were so proud of themselves for making her such a wonderful keepsake.

Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags
I reuse gift bags! Most of the time these are in “like new” condition when my family receives a gift in them, so why not reuse them! After holidays I usually can pick up tissue paper, wrapping paper, and new gift bags for up to 90% off. A solid red or green gift bag can be used for any birthday! The kids have also painted or colored on plain paper bags to make a homemade a gift bag. The recipient really enjoys this as part of the gift too!

Homemade Gifts
People really like homemade gifts. Even if you are not creative there are plenty of things you can still do. You can bake cookies for your child’s teacher, homemade sweet bread for a neighbor, or if you have an elderly person in your life could you help them out with yard work or another job.

Have your child make a special gift for Grandma and Grandpa, they will treasure it more than any store bought gift. If your child is small you could take a picture of him or her and frame it for an inexpensive gift!

My kids think it’s really special when I make them little “gift certificates” for part of their birthday present. Dinner of your choice! Special time with mom! Help mom bake cookies of your choice! Don’t underestimate the power of quality time, and giving kids the Independence to choose when they want to do something really special with you!

Affording Christmas and Holiday Expenses
A different way we make sure we have money set aside to pay for our holiday expenses is to open a “Christmas Club” account at our favorite credit union. We automatically put a small amount each paycheck into this account and it earns interest. I also put “found” money into this account. Rebate checks, cashed in change, etc. It is hard to believe that $5 to $10 can add up so quickly. I use this to purchase items like gift cards and take advantage of special deals that pop up around the holidays. I also sometimes find that my gift closet doesn’t have a gift for one or two people on my list. I use the Christmas Club account to pay for those presents.

Find Deals on Gift Cards
If you have a specific item on your list that can only be purchased at a specific store, you still might be able to save money! Did you know might be able to buy a discount gift card to that store? You can then turn around and give that card as a gift, or you could combine it with a store coupon to buy the item and maximize your savings!

Remember Birthday and Holiday shopping should be in your budget. You should spend what you are comfortable with and not feel pressure to buy if you do not have the money!

Readers, do you have any other tips for saving money on gifts? Please share your ideas in the comments!