Family Friendly Fun for FREE!

It’s October! Unfortunately that means dodging creepy-bloody-death decorations everywhere, but it is also one of my favorite times of year because I LOVE fall and I love costumes. I almost can’t even handle all the imaginative creativity and cuteness every year when I see kids dressed up.

There are also so many  activities going on that you can wear your costumes to. Here are three of the free family friendly dress up activities we’ll be participating in again this year.

Chucktober

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If your child wears a costume to Chuck E. Cheese ANY day in October you get 50 free tickets. That’s 150 free tickets between my three kiddos. We went over and over again last year. The kids wore different costumes every time (we’ve accumulated a collection which I’ll talk about tomorrow). I bought a handful of tokens ONE time that they used very sparingly throughout the month. The fun of Chuck E. Cheese is only amplified when you get to make believe!

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Ikea

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Our local Ikea is hosting their trick or treat event on a Tuesday October 27th (the day kids eat free in the cafe!) You can get more use out of your costume while going from station to station collecting candy and doing crafts and having a free meal. Check your local Ikea, mall, and retailers for events like this that could be happening throughout the month.

Church

Our church does a trunk-or-treat fall festival every Halloween. It’s always a lot of fun. I’ve lived a lot of places and no matter where we are there are always tons of free church, school, library, and community organized activities available at no cost. So I’m sure that there is something near you. Some of these options are also great if the weather is bad, which seems to happen a lot here in Ohio!

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So even though you may not have the same exact events available in your area, check online (or click the links above for more details on the three I’ve mentioned here). Between that and all the farms and pumpkin patches there is sure to be something going on all month long that lets you have some super frugal family time.

Why not get more than just one use out of those costumes?

 

By | October 8th, 2015|Frugal Living|6 Comments

I Dream of Pig Parties

“I think I’ll combine the boys birthday this year and just keep it really simple because it’s going to be so close to when the baby is due.”

I distinctly remember having that conversation with my family. Z and Ezie’s birthdays are less than a month apart and I DO have a lot going on, but what can I say? I love to party!

Here are some behind the scenes details about the Ezie’s third birthday this weekend.

The original idea was Three Little Pigs theme which I thought of last year (these are the kind of things I think about when I can’t sleep). Since Ezie is turning three it seemed fitting, but the idea has evolved into more of a full blown farm theme with some 3 Little Pig touches.

First I inquired amongst friends and family for hay, costumes, decorations… anything farm related that I could borrow (trying to keep costs low here). It was looking pretty bleak, until I called my aunt who is not on Facebook and she had so many awesome things that I will be integrating.

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Not to mention I got to visit her in the country while the leaves were falling AHHHH, and Ezie got to feed a horse and pony and pet some other animals. It was like a mini surprise before his birthday even started.

Next I looked everywhere for farm theme party stuff. I spent the day going from Party City to numerous craft stores with Ezie in tow and I was exhausted. I made one final stop at a random Dollar Store and JACKPOT! I found farm theme party paper goods and for $1. I was stoked.

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One of the 3 Little Pigs idea I had was to have a “House Building Contest” where families team up using cardboard boxes. So I called up my local Kroger which really came through for me when I needed free boxes for packing. This round was a little small than I had hoped, but I was grateful and hauled a load home. Then J told me they have tons of huge boxes where he works (the place he started this week) and he brought some home yesterday.What are the odds!?

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Lastly, my aunt had an old saddle that she just wanted to give to us. So J joined in with his creativity by crafting a wooden “saw horse” so that the kids can sit on the saddle.

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Needless to say I did not keep things simple this year, but it’s all coming together and I feel great about it. Ezie didn’t have a party last year and he is about to loose his status as baby of the family so what better time to celebrate him. Not to mention I just love autumn and farms, so this is very therapeutic for me. I am just really looking forward to the family time. I think it’s going to be fun for all ages. After this I’ll be ready to get down to business because before you know it our latest addition will be arriving!

By | September 25th, 2015|Frugal Living, My Life, Parties|5 Comments

A Homemade Birthday


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I wasn’t going to do anything major this year for Z’s birthday because of the baby on the way and all that. So I kept his party pretty low key… kind of. I mean, I didn’t have a theme so that should be proof that I did use some restraint! I did however get a bit crafty with certain aspects of the party and I think it went really well. Z was so happy and his reaction to all of the surprises that I made for him was totally worth the effort!

He said his favorite part was the piñata.

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This is the third Piñata I have made for his birthday and it was pretty simple because it was just a box made to look like a  Minecraft Creeper. Everything in Minecraft is made up of pixels so cutting tissue paper out in squares may have been tedious, but the design was very basic.

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Everyone got a turn to whack and smack the creeper with a plastic bat.

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Even after all the candy flew out they continued to play with it and the boys got to be boys as they tore the Minecraft enemy to bits. They made it look so fun I thought I might need to take up piñata fighting as a hobby.

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The funny thing is all of my “art work” for the party are things that are meant to be devoured or destroyed, but I don’t mind. I prefer to get a picture before hand, but I am totally cool with how temporary it all is. The memories are what last.

Z also had a big cake with Mario popping out of the top.

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I cheated with this cake because I bought the chocolate fudge cake pre made from Kroger and then just made a confetti bunt cake and stacked it on top. I covered the whole thing with store bought chocolate frosting and stuck Mario in the middle of the bundt cake. It was far from pretty or perfect, but Z loved it. The kids ate the bundt cake in a matter of minutes and our family has been snacking on the leftover fudge cake which everyone agrees is capital D-licious. I definitely considered this cake a success!

Lastly, Z really loves fruit pizza and we have had some fun creations in the past, so I knew I wanted celebrate this occasion by making one of his favorite characters out of fruit.

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Emmet from the Lego movie was a natural choice. Z loves Legos and it’s kind of like the Minecraft character because when you are working with things made from cubes (or Lego bricks in this case) the shapes are way easier to replicate than with something found in nature. The fruit pizza was not only super fun to make and to surprise Z with, but it really is so yummy! Seriously, everyone always goes on and on about how amazing these simple sugar cookie fruit creations taste. I have the recipe here.

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So that was pretty much the party other than lots of food and 14 children ages 1-8 running around slipping and sliding for two hours. It was a perfectly chaotic, wild, and messy time. I love having some family traditions like these. Casual, frugal, homemade fun. Next up Ezie’s birthday!

By | September 8th, 2015|Crafts, Creativity, Parties, Projects, Uncategorized|3 Comments

What to Expect to Pay at Yard Sales

Yard sale season is upon us. In fact, this coming weekend (August 6-9) is the annual world’s longest yard sale. The same one I participated in a couple years ago.

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As someone who has hosted many yard sales and gone to hundreds I feel pretty qualified to share some of my expertise with the world.

There is no way I could fit all of my tips in at once, so let’s just start with what to expect to pay. If you are selling then this would apply to what to expect to get.

There are many different factors, and you can find countless lists online that give price ideas for specific items, but as a general rule I like to expect to pay 90% off retail value.

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I know it sounds crazy (especially to the person selling) but I have kept this rule of thumb for years and I always use it as a gauge when I am deciding whether or not I should jump on something.

Remember this is just a rough reference point to get you started. There are many things to keep in mind when using the 90% off rule whether buying or selling.

1. Some stuff will actually go for less

For example last weekend I got this old Little Tikes Picnic table for $2. If I bought one new it would be at least $50. However, this one is like 20+ years old and needs some TLC so it was a steal. I have pinned refurbishing ideas that I really hope to implement, but even if I threw it out tomorrow we have gotten our $2 worth out of it already for sure!


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Some other examples maybe some jewelry that was once worth $35 is only going to sell for $1. Or a couch that was $800, but has been through the ringer and no one is going to pay more than $35 for it now.

It depends on the condition, age, and popularity.

2. Some stuff will go for more

On the contrary you can certainly ask or pay more than 90% off. A couple days ago I found an Ikea canopy like this one.

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I had just been looking at the ones at the store and wanting it for the girls room so I know they retail for $20. The asking price was $5 and I jumped on it. I wasn’t thinking that I was tied down to the 90% off rule. I felt it was fair deal.

For all you sellers please keep in mind that yard sale clientele are looking for BARGAINS. If you have something valuable that you don’t want to give away for pennies you can always post it on Craig’s List or Ebay. That’s when you’ll get buyers looking for your specific item and they will pay more.

3. Items are often priced by category and not original value

For example books 50 cents, clothes $1, DVDs $2. You can’t get nitpicky about individually pricing everything. You can also usually pay less if you buy more. I call it bundling because that’s what they say on American Picker’s and it doesn’t get anymore pro than that right?  I got all of these pajamas for $5 so it ended up being like 30 cents per set.

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There were some really cute all matching PJ’s which I split between my daughter and niece. SCORE!

I actually don’t enjoy haggling. My personality is more likely to just skip something altogether rather than negotiate. ALTHOUGH, if I am really knowledgable about a product or the market prices in that area I am sometimes confident enough to do so. Knowing the 90% off rule has helped me a lot because even though I can’t stress enough that it’s a really rough estimate, it helps me stay focused and have a plan as I shop. 

For example, this weekend I found some really ugly stained stackable lawn chairs (which we really need now that we have a yard) and I thought I could probably clean them up and spray paint them.

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The lady wanted $3 a piece. I wanted $1 a piece and that’s what I ended up walking away with. She actually begged me to take them. I think we both felt good about the end results. The chairs are worth about $10 a pop in perfect condition, but they are badly stained so I am going to have to invest some time and money into them and she was probably going to end up throwing them in the garbage.

The point to this whole post is very simple. The baseline price for most items at garage sales is 10%  (90% off) what it would retail for brand new in the store. I just loooove yard sales and they usually last through part of October in my area so I look forward to a couple more months of dirt cheap goodies.

Are you a yard sale junkie? I’d love to hear your tips!

By | August 3rd, 2015|Frugal Living, Uncategorized|11 Comments