Entries by Diane Schmidt (116)
Before heading out shopping, be sure to download Shopkick first! SIGN UP, it's totally free! They regularly offer high value kicks (points) just for walking into stores like Old Navy, Walmart, Macy's and more! When you earn a gift card, it is sent directly to your phone instantly! So easy!
Get started here! I've been using Shopkick for 2+ years and have cashed in points for gift cards to Fandango, Target and more.
Not familiar with Shopkick? Shopkick is a free mobile app for your iPhone or Android mobile smart phone. By allowing it to see your location using your GPS, it will automatically recognize when you enter a participating store, retailer, or restaurant, then reward you. You'll earn "Kickbucks" by simply entering the store and can earn by scanning barcodes within the store.
1. BREAD BAKING
Have you paid attention to the prices in the bread aisle recently? No, really. Store bought bread is expensive and contains all sorts of strange ingredients. I've started baking most of our bread at home to save money and keep our food simple. Some of the best recipes I make require nothing more than flour, yeast, and water. The rest is in the mixing, rise time, and actual baking. Start with this ubiquitous No-Knead Bread recipe by master baker Jim Lahey. You'll let it rise overnight and then bake in a dutch oven for an amazingly crisp crust. (See also: A Beginner's Guide to Homemade Bread)
2. FROM-SCRATCH EVERYTHING
In the past, most people actually made their pantry items from scratch. For example, oat flour is nothing more than rolled oats pulsed in your food processor. Same goes with almond meal. With some practice, you can blend together an amazing batch of hummus that costs half as much as its store-bought counterpart. The list goes on. And after a while, making wholesome foods in your own kitchen becomes automatic. (See also: 35 Grocery Items You Should Make at Home)
3. FOOD PRESERVATION
Eating local, seasonal produce is usually the cheapest, healthiest option for feeding your family. But what about in the off season? Instead of forking over extra cash to eat tomatoes from who-knows-where in January, consider learning the re-emerging art of canning. You'll need a few tools and some know-how (I love the Food In Jars book, which breaks down the method of small batch canning into bits and pieces). I have yet to master it fully, so I choose to prep and freeze a lot of my ingredients to enjoy year round — most produce lasts a year this way. You can also pickle and dehydrate foods for unique taste and texture. (See also: How to Preserve In-Season Foods for Off-Season Feasts)
Better yet, learn how to grow your own food in your backyard (or, for those of you with small outdoor spaces, on your patio). There are a number of hearty plants even beginners can cultivate and harvest with much success. Start with easy-to-grow beets, snap peas, carrots, radishes, squash, peppers, lettuce, and a variety of herbs, like dill, cilantro, and basil. Just be sure to pay attention to the soil, light, and watering suggestions on your seeds' or plant's guide. (See also: Get a Great Container Garden Started With This Guide)
There was a time not so long ago when a hole in a shirt didn't mean it was fated for the donation or garbage pile. Instead, a quick stitch would fix it right up like new. By learning how to sew, you can also customize your wardrobe and even add new wearables for very little cash. Get started by picking up an inexpensive sewing kit or a needle and thread. Then learn some beginner mending techniques, like how to sew on a button, repair small holes, and fix torn seams. It's a lot of under-over-under-over and tying off to finish. (See also: 20 Cute and Frugal Clothes You Can Sew For Your Kids)
6. CLEANING BASICS
There weren't a lot of brightly packaged cleaning products back in the day. Instead, people made their own cleaners and solutions at home. Here are five laundry detergent recipes to get you started. I've saved a bundle of money (and plastic) by making laundry soap at home, and my clothes are just as fresh and clean. All-purpose cleaning is also made simple with a mixture of 1:1 vinegar and water solution. Pour them together in a spray bottle and get busy cleaning. Add some alcohol to the bottle (a couple tablespoons) to make a streak-free window and mirror cleaner. (See also: How to Clean Everything With 3 All-Natural Cleaners)
7. SOAP MAKING AND MORE
Even the whole bath and body DIY phenomenon has its roots in the past. After all, the general store didn't carry limitless products and solutions. Of course, you can get fancy by mixing together bath bombs and sunscreens. I like to stick with the basics and use coconut oil as a moisturizer. Melting together olive oil, beeswax, and essential oils makes a quick and useful Vapor Rub. Once you acquire the core ingredients, you can make most anything yourself. (See also: 50 Amazing DIY Bath and Body Products)
Whether it's a purchase for a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, or simply sprucing up your home or wardrobe, these 10 products will shine — without eating a hole in your savings account.
1. PEARL JEWELRY
Unlike diamonds, which are controlled by a cartel, pearls are relatively affordable. The ability to grow real pearls on oyster farms gives the jewelry business a resource for inexpensive, but genuine, cultured pearls. It's no longer a game of hit and miss for divers, who once trawled the oceans in the hopes of finding an oyster with a pearl. You can find beautiful cultured pearl necklaces and earrings for as little as $10. They will have the luster and weight of natural pearl jewelry that costs thousands — and only a real expert can tell the difference.
2. MOST PRODUCTS FROM IKEA
Let's face it, Ikea is insanely popular for a reason. One look through the Ikea catalog and you'll see an awful lot of great design at a price that even Walmart would find hard to beat. Designers from around the world have put forward stunning products and furniture for a fraction of the price they would usually charge, including Matali Crasset and Scholten & Baijings.
3. INVICTA WATCHES
The name Invicta conjures up images of expensive timepieces and wads of cash, but that's not actually the case. While you can find Invicta watches that cost over $1,400, you can also buy models for around $50 to $100. They're heavy, well-made (usually in the USA), and water resistant to hundreds of feet. You get a fantastic presentation case, too. ThisInvicta watch at Amazon looks like it could set you back a grand, but it's only $70. Invicta watches make great gifts, and can often be found on discount sites at massively reduced prices.
4. H&M CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
When you look at what H&M has on offer, you might think it's high fashion. But the great thing about H&M is that you get incredible style for a steal. It's not unusual to walk into H&M with $100 and come out with five or six items of clothing, including shirts, jeans, sweaters, and even jackets. Take a look at the current H&M sale and give yourself a little test. Put the things you really find stylish and attractive in your cart without looking at the prices. Then, guess how much you've spent. The chances are, you'll be way over — probably by three to four times more the actual cost.
5. LEATHER GOODS
There's something about leather — maybe it's the smell, or the fact that so many shoes and jackets are made from faux leather. However, real leather can be as affordable as the fake stuff, and on occasion, even cheaper. What you have to do is shop selectively, and shop when the sales are at their peak. Right now, places like Wilsons Leather are dumping their winter stock, and you can find leather jackets for 75% off. Stroll into work wearing a $500 jacket — no one has to know it only cost you $125.
6. MUJI PRODUCTS
When products get really expensive, you have to search high and low for the brand name. It's one of those "people who know, will know" deals. Now imagine products that have that sense of style and simplicity, but don't come with the ludicrous price tags. That's what it's like to shop at Muji. From clothing, clocks, and furniture, to bags, storage items, and electronics, Muji is sophisticated style on a modest budget. Not everything at Muji is really cheap either, which means it's really hard to know what your Muji item cost. Maybe it was a few bucks, maybe a few hundred.
7. SCRATCH AND DENT APPLIANCES
We live in a society obsessed with getting everything brand spanking new, and absolutely perfect. The very idea that someone would sell you a stainless steel fridge with a scratch or dent in it appalls some people. If you're smart, you'll take advantage of that. Scratch and dent (aka "dent and ding") appliances are perfectly functional, and have just a few superficial flaws. Perhaps it was on a showroom floor and got a tiny scratch, or a dent in the bottom of the door from a careless delivery. These tiny flaws, however, come with massive savings. If you don't mind a few dings, you can take hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars off the price of a brand new, name brand appliance.
8. USED HIGH-END CARS
If someone asks you what you drive and you reply "a BMW," they don't usually say "oh yeah, is that one of those high-mileage used ones?" A BMW is a BMW, and a Mercedes is a Mercedes. You would be astonished at the prices some of these cars are going for, right now. A quick look in my area of Colorado brought back results for BMWs with less than 60k miles for under $7,000. And these are not old junkers, they're 2002 – 2007 models. You can get financing, and for less than $150 a month, you can be driving around a top of the range BMW. A word of warning though… get it thoroughly checked out first, and make sure you know a garage that services BMWs for affordable prices.
9. CUSTOM, HANDMADE GIFTS
With the rise of stores like Etsy and eBay, homemade gifts are becoming much more prominent. Not made by you, but someone skilled and willing to charge a lot less than retail stores. You can find people on Etsy ready to make a personalized hat or scarf for next to nothing. They often do this as a hobby to earn extra cash, and the hourly investment is less than minimum wage on their part. But for some reason, they enjoy selling their wares. Justcheck out some of these ideas on Pinterest.
10. PERSONALIZED PHOTOBOOKS
In the past, getting a custom made, hardbound book of photos, poetry, or stories would have been an expensive proposition. But now, on demand printing means you can have a site assemble a book of photos for as little as $13. Of course, you can put in all the bells and whistles and make something really extravagant, but even then the cost is going to be much less than you think. When you hand over a book, you are also showing people how much effort you have put into the gift. And if you really want to go all out, visit a store likeLulu. Here you can have someone's novel (a friend's or family member's, perhaps?) printed and published, and ready to purchase.