Saturday, June 18, 2011

6 Tips for Yard Sale Shopping

It's that time of year again -- Yard Sale Season!

I'm an admitted yard sale junkie. I remember the first yard sale I ever went to: I was about 8 years old, and I was absolutely astounded by the fact that I could walk out my front door, step into my next door neighbor's garage, and buy a Coca-Cola glass for $.25. Looking back, I think I got swindled out of my allowance on that deal.

Since then, I have gone to a LOT of yard sales, and have developed several strategies for getting the best stuff at the best price.

1. Know your target price.
This will vary based on your circumstances, how much you need an item, and what geographical location you live in. My target price for children's clothing items is $1. However, DON'T BUY SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE IT'S CHEAP! The target price is for quality items that I know will last for multiple children or multiple seasons.

2. Know WHY you are shopping yard sales. 
This seems obvious, but if you can answer this question it will help narrow down which sales you will go to, saving you time as well as money. The number one reason I shop at yard sales is so I can find good quality, name brand items for lower than consignment store prices.  In addition to being somewhat of a label junkie, I've found that certain more expensive brands really last longer and wear better than many of the discount store brands. Of course, you can get cute kids' clothes at Target or Walmart for $1-$3 per item.  I like going to yard sales, so I don't mind the extra time it takes to find more durable clothes or good deals. In addition, consider that buying used is the same thing as recycling; less goods need to be produced, packaged, and distributed.

3. Don't stop at every yard sale you drive past.
If you've spent any time at yard sales, you know what a bad sale looks like. Haphazard or non-existent signage, items strewn all over, and un-priced items.  You can spot them from the street, so don't even get out of the car.  I almost never stop at unadvertised sales. 9 times out of 10, it's a complete waste of time.  

4. Know where to find the good sales
The two primary places to research garage sales are Craigslist and your local newspaper. Starting around Wednesday or Thursday, I'll get on Craigslist and search both "Garage Sales" or "Baby & Kids," since I'm usually looking mostly for kids' stuff.  It will make your life easier if you sort the results by town; I have had the best luck at expensive suburban neighborhoods because that's where the higher quality goods tend to be.  

5. Plan your strategy in advance
Another advantage of focusing on one town or neighborhood is that if you focus on sales within a 5-mile radius, you are making better use of your time and gas money.
Once you know what sales look good, it's time to plan your route.  I go to GoogleMaps and type in every address I'd like to get to, with the farthest away first, and the closest last. That way I will know how to get to each sale from the previous sale I've been to. I'll then print out the map and directions with some notes on what to expect at each sale; that way if something comes up and I am pressed for time, I can better judge which ones to skip.
You could also program the addresses into your GPS; yard sale-ing is the one situation where I would really love to have a GPS in my car. There is even an app called Garage Sale Rover that saves your favorite sales from Craigslist, optimizes your route, and gives you turn-by-turn GPS navigation.  Now THAT is the way to shop!

6. Know what to bring

  • Cash is a given here, and try to have exact change.  Quarters, ones, and fives are a safe bet, and never bring more cash than you want to spend!
  • Reusable Bags -- bringing your own bag ensures you don't have a 8-year old plastic Walmart bag flapping around the back of your car for the next 3 months. 
  • Reusable Water Bottle & Snacks -- I can't go anywhere without food & water, and it's not just for the kids. You don't want to have to pull into McDonald's because you're about to pass out from hunger. I usually bring a Kashi granola bar or a banana.
  • Speaking of kids -- for optimal results, bring as few kids as possible. I know this isn't always feasible, but you'll get to more sales, make better time, and find better deals if you don't have to worry about your toddler crashing a plastic Thomas the Train into a streetlight (thus ensuring your purchase of said Thomas).
What great yard sale tips do you have? What's the best yard sale score you've ever gotten??

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New Amazon Grocery Deals

Earth's Best Organic Fruit Yogurt Smoothie, Pear Mango, 4.2-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12)
You can get amazing grocery deals at Amazon by combining Subscribe & Save with sales. Here are the some of the best deals at Amazon this week. To see more deals, click here

Skippy Peanut Butter, Natural Super Chunk, 15-Ounce Jars (Pack of 6) --$1.55/jar by using Subscribe & Save with code SKIPPY45 
Earth's Best Organic Fruit Yogurt Smoothie, Pear Mango, 4.2-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12) --$.93/pouch by using Subscribe & Save with code EBSMOTH3
Plum Organics Super Puffs Orange, Mango & Sweet Potato, 1.5-Ounce (Pack of 4) -- $1.93/ea by using Subscribe & Save with code PLUMPUF2.
FiberPlus Antioxidant Bars, Dark Chocolate Almond, 5 - 1.2 oz Bars per Box, (Pack of 12) -- $2.10 each by using Subscribe & Save with code FIBRPLUS

Annie's Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies, Family Size , 11 Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4) -- $3.44/box by using Subscribe & Save with code ANNIEJUN
Annie's Homegrown Berry Patch Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks, 5-Count Pouches (Pack of 4) -- $2.85/box by using Subscribe & Save with code ANNIEJUN
Annie's Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese, 6-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12) - $1.36/box by using Subscribe & Save with code ANNIEJUN

Remember, you can cancel Subscribe & Save at any time after your order ships by looking at "My Account."  If you don't cancel it, you will continue to receive shipments of the product at regular price.


Sunset Magazine for $10 year

Today through June 21 on Mamasource (Mamapedia's new daily deals site), you'll get $6 off your subscription to Sunset Magazine. This offer also includes three booklets, on gardening, cooking, and home decor.

Good on new subscriptions only.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Natural & Organic Coupon Roundup

Lots of great natural and organic coupons this week! Make sure to hurry and print them out if you think you might use them as many have a print limit!

$1 off 1 Alexia Product (we love the sweet potato fries!)
Brown Cow Yogurt and Milk Printables (Thanks, The Thrifty Mama!)

$1 off any Kashi Product when you sign in and leave a comment
*Deal Idea: Buy Kashi GoLean Protein & Fiber Bar -- $1.49 at Wegmans
Final Price= $.49

$.55 off 1 Bigelow Tea (This is from Mambo Sprouts' print publication; look at pages 10-13 for the coupons)
$.50 off 1 Luna Bar -- Deal idea: Buy 1 Luna bar for $.99 at Wegmans, FREE when coupon doubles.

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$25 Gift Card for $3

Until Tuesday, get 70% off your purchase. That means you can get a $25 gift certificate for only $3. I found a ton of great Rochester-area restaurants listed, too! Use code DAD at checkout.


Sign up for Vocalpoint, get Free Juice!

Sign up for Vocalpoint here, then come back and click this link to sign up for your free sample of Motts for Tots 40% less sugar juice.

Vocalpoint is a site that offer coupons and samples of new products. I've gotten high value coupons for Kashi, International Delights Creamer, and Frosted Mini-Wheats in the past.

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$5 Fridays: CSA Edition

To celebrate the first week of receiving a CSA basket for the year, I'd like to share one of my favorite, super-simple suppers: Pasta with Spring Asparagus

*Note* Even though I got the asparagus in my basket, I'm using the price at Wegmans this week to calculate the total cost.  I'm not even going to attempt to calculate the price of one produce item for one week of the CSA share.

Pasta with Spring Asparagus
 (Serves 4)

1 small bunch asparagus (about 1/2 lb) -- $1.75
1 box pasta -- I used the Ronzoni Garden Delight, which was $.69 after using the $1 off 1 coupon in the 5/15 SS insert
3 tbs olive oil -- $.50
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese -- $1.75
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Drizzle the asparagus with 1 tbs oil (Wegmans Basting Oil works well) and season with salt and pepper; grill for about 5 minutes until tender but still has a bit of bite.
2. While grilling, cook up the pasta on the stove. When both pasta and asparagus are finished, drain pasta (reserving about 1/2 cup cooking water).
3. Combine pasta, asparagus, the remaining oil, and the reserved cooking water (just use the pasta pot -- no need to dirty another dish!)
4. Finish with Parmesan and any fresh herbs you may have, and serve!

Total cost: $4.69


Annie's Products -- Save 20% at Amazon

Annie's Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies, Family Size , 11 Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4)
Through July 9, 2011, all Annie's products are on sale at Amazon.

To get this deal, use Subscribe & Save to get 15% off, then enter code ANNIEJUN at checkout for an additional 5% off.

Here are some great deals:
Annie's Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies, Family Size , 11 Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4) -- $3.44/box
Annie's Homegrown Berry Patch Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks, 5-Count Pouches (Pack of 4) -- $2.85/box
Annie's Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese, 6-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12) - $1.36/box
Annie's Organic , Chocolate Chipper, 0.98-Ounce Bars (Pack of 4) - $2.73/box


Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's in YOUR CSA basket this week?

I was absolutely thrilled to pick up my first CSA (community-supported agriculture) basket this afternoon. If you are unfamiliar with the term, basically a CSA is sort of like being a shareholder and a farm is the "corporation."  The customer invests money (and sometimes time) at the beginning of the season, when farms need an infusion of cash, and then gets paid dividends in the form of the freshest, most beautiful produce all summer long. 

Our CSA farm is Maxwell Creek Farms in Sodus, NY.  The farmers there really focus on organic, sustainable methods of growing herbs and vegetables, and it definitely shows in the lovely, healthy food we receive from them each week.

Some of what you can see in the picture is already gone: we had a gorgeous salad of fresh lettuce, baby salad greens, and radishes for dinner.  I'm planning on grilling the asparagus tomorrow, and I'm sure the strawberries won't last past breakfast. 

Yes, you correctly see TWO luscious bunches of rhubarb in my basket this week. When I went to the pick-up house today, I mentioned to the woman who lives there how excited I was to get the rhubarb, and she offered me hers! She said she was sure, but I think when I send her the recipe for Big Crumb Rhubarb Coffee Cake she may regret that decision. 

Everything in the basket is pretty much accounted for, and we've only had it for 4 hours! I can't wait to see what we're getting next week!

Did you get a CSA basket this week? Leave a comment and tell me the best thing you made with your fresh produce. 


New Wegmans Coupon: $1 off Basting Oil

Wegmans just came out with a $1 off 1 coupon for their signature Basting Oil, which I love, even though I know it's just high quality olive oil with some herbs mixed in.   I love drizzling it over fresh veggies to grill.

This coupon expires July 2, 2011.

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FREE 8x10 Photo Collage at Walgreens

For the cost of an 8x10 frame, you can create a gorgeous collage for Father's Day at Walgreens.

Use coupon code 1FREEBIE at checkout, and choose in-store pickup to get free shipping.
Just head here to create your collage.

(Thanks, Hip2Save!)

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$10 for $20 Old Navy Groupon

It's back again!  The Old Navy Groupon was so popular a few weeks ago that they're offering it yet again!

If you're having trouble finding it -- search under Toledo. You'll be able to find some great deals with this $10 off a $20 purchase Groupon, especially if you combine it with other in-store sales, like the one for $2 tank tops on June 25!

(Thanks, Money Saving Mom!)

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20% off Everything at Kohl's

With this Kohl's Coupon, you can save 20% off everything in the store -- including Sale or Clearance merchandise.  If you focus on the clearance racks, you could score some fantastic deals!

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Kiwi Magazine as low as $3/year

Today on Mamasource (formerly Mamapedia), you can get a 1 year subscription to Kiwi Magazine for $6, or a 2 year subscription for $10.

Make that deal even sweeter by using these codes:
1-year Subscription: KIWI2OFF for $2 off, making it only $4/year
2 year Subscription: KIWI4OFF for $4 off, making it only $3/year

Kiwi is published bi-monthly (6 times per year) and has helpful articles, hints, and tips about green living and parenting.  I am a current subscriber, and this month's issue also has several good coupons, including $.75 off Organic Agave Nectar and $1 off Peanut Butter & Co. Peanut Butter.

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Cheap and Easy Father's Day Gifts for Procrastinators

We're getting down to crunch time here for Father's Day. If you haven't ordered it by now, it's not going to be here by Sunday -- unless you pay for 2-day shipping, which would make me very sad, since I hate paying for shipping at all, let alone expedited shipping.

So if you're like me, and realizing Father's Day is three days away and have nothing prepared, I've compiled a list from around the web of easy and free or cheap things to do or make for the special dad in your life.

At TTBowtique, you can see how to create this popular gift:

All it requires are two wood or plastic letters which you could buy at Hobby Lobby or Michaels, some paint (which you probably have already), a frame (pick this up when you buy the letters), and some cute kids. On quick trip to the store, a photo session, print out the pics, and Voila! Instant, adorable Father's Day gift.

Family Fun Magazine has a similar idea, but -- genius -- uses homemade pretzels instead of wooden letters. It's a keepsake AND edible. What could be more perfect?

If you have some cardstock, or can pick some up, you can use this template to make your own frame for this beautiful keepsake. It's from Martha, of course.

The Princess and the Tot shows you how to create this daily perk-up for Dad. All you need is a jar, some fabric, and colored paper. (Oh, and 365 ideas!)

You can never go wrong with food. My husband would LOVE this Father's Day cookie cake:
If cookies aren't his thing, you could do this with Rice Krispies Treats or homemade ice cream cake. Neither would be turned down at our house!

What are your favorite frugal Father's Day gifts?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crocs as low as $12.99

If you love Crocs for kids, Zulily has great deals today for kids and adults from $12.99.

This deal ends Saturday 6/18 at 9pm EST.


FREE PDF: Herbs at A Glance

Herbs at a Glance: A Quick Guide to Herbal Supplements is available as a free PDF download from the National Center for Complementary or Alternative Medicine.

I just downloaded it, and it has a lot of great information about herbs and supplements like aloe, fenugreek, and milk thistle, among many others. 

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eBooks on Amazon $.99-$2.99

Today is the last day of Amazon's Sunshine Deals Sale. There are over 600 eBooks at Amazon's Kindle store at these low prices!

Stock up now for your summer reading!

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$2 Tanks at Old Navy

On June 25, Old Navy will be having a blowout sale on women & girl's tanks.  You can purchase up to 5 tanks for only $2 each.

This is a 1-day only sale, but you can bring your $10 off $50 Facebook coupon AND the recent Groupon if you bought it!

I'm marking June 25 on my calendar!


FREE PawSafe Non-toxic Household Cleaners at PetSmart

PetSmart is offering PawSafe Cleaning products for only $.99 each until June 25.

Even better, use this coupon for $1 off 1 to get it absolutely free! 

PawSafe cleaners use organic ingredients and vegetable-derived surfactants to clean without toxic chemicals.

(Thanks, Happy Deal-Happy Day!)

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Handstand Kids International Cookbook Sets only $13

Today on $13 for a Handstand Kids International Cookbook Kit ($25 value).
This is a great gift idea, or something to bring out when the kids are bored this summer.  

  • Handstand Kids creates international cookbook kits that introduce children to the culture, language, and cuisine of a new country
  • Choose your favorite cuisine: Chinese, Mexican or Italian
  • Each adorable kit comes uniquely packaged with a special cooking accessory: a take-out box with a set of chopsticks; a tortilla bag with a child-sized oven mitt; or a pizza box with a chef's hat
  • May purchase up to three kits
  • Price doesn't include shipping

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thredUp's Summer Book Swap is Live!

thredUP_kids clothing swap_free membership
From today through August 1, when a box of books you have listed on thredUP has been picked and reviewed by another family, you will get:

  • $25 credit towards Bookswim book rentals
  • 30% off at Chronicle Books (+ free shipping!)
  • 5 credits towards eBookFling to borrow eBooks for your Kindle or Nook
If you haven't heard of thredUp, it's a new site where members can swap boxes of outgrown children's clothes and toys with each other. It costs nothing to list and send a box. If you choose to pick a box, you pay only $5 plus $10.95  for shipping.

Books are a resource- and space-consuming commodity. By sharing and swapping our books, we are able to save money and resources. What a great way to recycle!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kohlrabi= German for Delicious

All week I've been thinking up delectable things to do with  what will be in my CSA (community-supported-agriculture) box on Thursday.  The strawberries and rhubarb are a no-brainer, and I have no problem whipping up a delicious, fresh salad from the salad greens, spinach, and radishes.  The kohlrabi, though, had me stymied, until my husband reminded me of the amazing kohlrabi slaw I made last year.  

I'm embarassed to say that when I first saw it in my basket, I didn't even know what it was. Always the etymologist, once I found out that "kohl" means cabbage in German, I immediately decided I was going to make a slaw with it.If you're stumped by this bulbous, Sputnik-shaped growth in your CSA box, here is a fabulous recipe that will have you falling in love with kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi Slaw, serves 4
2-3 large kohlrabi bulbs, stems and outer skin cut off, julienned
1 large onion, diced
1 cup craisins
1/2 cup Wegmans Yogurt Coleslaw dressing (or whatever cole slaw dressing you prefer)

Mix it all up, refrigerate, and you have a beautiful, healthy summer salad!

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Borders: 30% off One Item

From today through Thursday June 16, you can get 30% off one item at Borders or

Borders is also offering 40% off all DVD box sets.

Free express shipping on orders over $25 until noon on Wednesday when you use code FASTERDAD.

Download the coupon to your smartphone and save on paper and ink!

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$15 for $30 at

Here's another great Vitacost deal from Groupon (search under Toledo, OH).
$15 for $30 worth of health, beauty, and natural living products from

I bought this the last time it came around, but I'm tempted to do so again because Vitacost has such a great range of natural products at great prices.

(Thanks, Hip2Save!)


Extreme Couponing Lite Part IV: Anatomy of a Shopping Trip

In last week’s article, Extreme Couponing Lite: Organization, I explained how my coupon binder works. this week I will be taking you through a typical shopping week with me, from clipping to checkout.
First, I always start with my list. I work on the list throughout the week as we use things up so I know exactly what I need and don’t have to go scrounging in all the cupboards.  Usual things that we need every week are milk, bread, lunch meat, cheese, and produce. Those things are generally a given, so that’s where I start looking for coupons and deals. A couple of those things are easy: I always buy Wegmans White Whole Wheat bread, and I always buy cheese at Aldis, unless I know I have a great coupon. I check my binder, because I always clip the coupons for products I know I will use, even if they are not the normal brands I buy. 
Next, I check the coupon database for coupons on the things I know we’ll need. We always use both regular cow’s milk and non-dairy milk like soy or almond every week. That’s where I’ll start looking for coupons. Silk has had a number of coupons out recently, so I’ll print those out. Then I’ll see if there are any coupons for cow’s milk -- Horizon and Organic Valley often have coupons. To do this, simply go to the coupon database and search “milk.”  You’ll see what coupons are available for related products and where to get those coupons, whether they are printable or in a recent newspaper insert.  If I can’t find any coupons for organic, I’ll buy my cow’s milk at Aldi because I’ve found their prices to be the lowest. (No, I don’t always buy organic milk. I try to if I know I have extra room in the budget that week or there is a coupon, but at $5.99/gallon it just isn’t feasible all the time.)
Because it makes my life so much easier during the week, next I do my meal planning. I’ve already perused my coupon binder and the inserts, so I have an idea of what is on sale. I also try to meal plan using what I have in my pantry already, since I like to stock up. Usually at least 3 of our meals for the week are from the pantry, and at least 2 are meatless. Both ideas really make a difference at checkout. When I’ve done my menu plan, I add what I will need to the list, and again check the coupon database if there are coupons available for those items.

**Note: I am currently working hard to offer a coupon database that you can access directly from MindfullyFrugalMom!
Finally, I do some online research to see what the good deals are this week. It’s easy to find national drugstore deals online, but to really make a dent in your bill, find a site that does coupon match-ups for the store that you shop at the most. On MindfullyFrugalMom, I focus on Wegmans simply because that is where I shop the most.

Now, you might be thinking, but this will take so much time!  The first couple of times you do it, yes, it might take a few hours from start to finish to plan your list. I like to think of it as a job. In the example below I saved $27.23.  That weekend I spent an hour and a half to plan, clip, and organize.  In that case, my hourly "wage" was $18.15. Not too bad! And I did it while I was watching tv after the kids went to bed. 
A couple tips for when you are at the store:
Have your list organized before you leave. I use an blank junk-mail envelope, write the list on the outside, and stash the coupons inside. 
I organize both the list and the coupons inside by where the item is in the store. I know that sounds pretty over-the-top, but it saves time in the store when you’re trying to price check the item to see how much your final price will be after the coupon.
When you get to the cash register, first hand the cashier your reusable bags (you are using them, right? :) ) I’ve found on recent trips that it works best if you give the cashier your Wegmans (or other store) coupons first, then “real” coupons, then printables last. The computers sometimes have issues with the printables and if you keep them all together it’s easier to keep track of them going through. 
Here is a receipt for a recent Wegmans trip:
And a close-up:

My inital total was $86.57, but it dropped down to $59.34 after coupons. I love it when the coupon section is longer than the list of things I bought!
Happy Shopping! I hope this series helped you save money, eat healthier, and live more Mindfully Frugal!

If you missed any of the first three articles in the series, check them out here.

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