Monday, August 31, 2009

Green and Frugal: Save on Home Energy Costs

Slash Your Home Energy Costs Without Adding A Single Watt of Extra Energy Or Compromising Your Lifestyle

By Peter Lindemann

It is becoming a popular craze these days to generate your own energy to cut your power bills.

Solar, wind, and other sources can supplement your energy supply in whole or in part. But, wouldn't it be great if you were able to do something that would allow you to get the same amount of benefit for a fraction of the cost or time required to install these other energy sources?

Of course you would! For example, it may cost you $10,000 for a certain amount of solar equipment to give you a certain amount of benefit. But what if you were
able to get the same benefit for $1,000?

How? This is the question that many people are asking because everyone is programmed to believe that turning down the thermostat so that you freeze in your own home and throwing a thin little bit of insulation around your water heater are the smart things to do!

Most people are also becoming programmed to believe that making your own electricity at home is also the answer. But I'm not interested in anything that takes a lot of time, money or effort.

If you want to know what the power companies, the green builders, and other so-called green thinkers aren't telling you wouldn't that be worth a few minutes of your time to find out?

Check it out here:

Join the growing number of people who are Saving on Home Energy costs right now.


Peter Lindemann has been educating thousands of people over the years in various renewable energy technologies and sciences. He also has the #1 searched website on Free Energy in the world.


Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Go Green: Videos on How You Can Be More Eco-friendly

Are you ready to see some green in action? I was checking out YouTube recently (it's always good for a laugh or two). But I was looking at ways to go green and came across some pretty cool videos. Check out ways you can be greener.

How to Make a Worm Composting Bin

The Solar Powered Attic Fan From U.S. Sunlight Corp

How to Be Green at Work

Let me know what you think of these videos. Do you like watching videos online, or do you prefer to read or listen to information? I, for one, like reading. I can skim and go as quickly as I'd like.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Where did the summer go? It's hard to believe that this is the last Friday of August. Next week the kids are off to school. With rainy weather we had in June, summer got a late start, which is probably why it went by so quickly.

Here's this week's best blog posts:

Have a fabulous, rain-free weekend!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Green and Frugal Living Gets "Top 100 Blogs" Award

I'm tickled pink to get a "Top 100 Blogs" Award from The Daily Reviewer. Their selection committee compiles an exclusive list of the Top 100 environment Blogs, and mine was included!

What is The Daily Reviewer?
The About Us section on the The Daily Reviewer site notes:
"Daily Reviewer selects only the world's top blogs (and RSS feeds). We sift through thousands of blogs daily to present you the world's best writers. The blogs that we include are authoritative on their respective niche topics and are widely read. To be included in The Daily Reviewer is a mark of excellence."

I'm thrilled and honored to be recognized by The Daily Reviewer.

You can check it out at

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Frugal Ways to Get More Protein

I always assume that protein = expensive, but that's not always the case. Our friends at The Greenest Dollar explain how to get your protein in a most frugal way...

If you’re like many people who have had to curtail their food budget because of the recession, then chances are you’re eating less meat.

As a vegetarian myself, I see this as a good thing!

If you’re trying to eat less meat to save money, or you’re eating less because of environmental concerns, then you might be feeling a bit over your head. I know I was when I first stopped eating meat. In fact, my first month as a vegetarian was a quiet disaster. But, that’s another post…

Now that I’ve been on the veggie train a few years I’ve learned a few tricks for sneaking more protein in my diet. And, I thought I’d write up a post to share them!

But first, let me lay out why eating less meat is such a great idea…

Advantages To Eating Less Meat

1. Curtailing Your Consumption of Meat Means You’re Not Supporting Animal Cruelty
I promise I will not get on my soapbox about this. I will simply say that factory farms are incredibly cruel places for animals, and their quality of life in these places is horrendous. This is the #1 reason why I stopped eating meat. I just couldn’t in good conscience support the industry once I learned what it was really like.

If you’d like to learn more about what life is like in factory farms, check out PETAs video “Meet Your Meat”.

The video is a very sobering look at where our meat really comes from. If you watch it, I promise you’ll never feel the same.

2. Eating Less Meat Saves Money
When you think about it, meat is probably the most expensive item you put in your shopping cart each week. After all, what’s going to cost more, tofu or steak? Lentils or chicken breasts? Black beans or shaved ham?

Meat’s definitely costly, so you can save big by cutting it out of your diet.

3. Eating Less Meat Helps the Environment
It’s amazing to me how bad large factory farms are for the environment.

Here are a few interesting stats from The Daily Green:

  • Two thirds of beef cows are raised using hormones and steroids. Their bodies can’t fully process all these chemicals, so every time they pee those same chemicals and pharmaceuticals get transferred to the local watershed.

  • It takes 600 gallons of water to raise and produce one hamburger patty.

  • It takes 2 lbs. of grain to produce 1/4 lb. of burger meat. We could feed many more people if we were raising fewer cows.

And, there are many more cool stats in this great article, so if you’d like to learn more on how our meat is negatively affecting the environment, give it a look!

Sneaky, Frugal Ways To Get Protein
If you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian full-time, or just becoming a “flexitarian” (someone who only eats meat occasionally), you might be wondering how you’re going to replace those hamburgers and chicken breasts in your diet.

Well, here are some of the sneaky ways I work protein into my diet. You can compare all of these foods, nutritionally, to a 3.5 ounce chicken breast, which has 30 grams of protein on average.

Cottage Cheese
Did you know that cottage cheese is loaded with protein? Well it is. 4 ounces of cottage cheese has a a whopping 14 grams of protein.

Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great, healthy snack (in fact, I’ve got a bag of organic pumpkin seeds on my desk right now: yum!). They’re also very high in protein.

How high? Well, 1/4 cup has 9 grams of protein.

Not only are almonds a great protein source, but they’re also very high in fiber and a great source of Vitamin E.

And what’s the skinny on the protein? 1 cup of almonds has 20 grams of protein.

I eat a lot of tofu. Tofu is great because you can make it taste like anything!

One half cup of tofu has almost 20 grams of protein. Yowza!

It’s also cheap. We pay $2.50 for one 14 ounce block of organic firm tofu. Each block contains 40 grams of protein.

We’ll usually get 3-4 hefty servings from one block.

Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is, arguably, one of my most favorite foods. I’ll eat peanut butter on just about anything! It’s cheap, it’s tasty, and it’s good for you.

2 Tablespoons of peanut butter has 7 grams of protein.

Soy Milk
If you’re already buying organic milk, then soy milk is going to be in that same price range of $5-$6 per gallon. While soy milk isn’t exactly frugal (after all, regular milk is a few dollars cheaper) I think it’s well worth the price.

I buy Silk, and it has 7 grams of protein per cup.

Whole Grain Bread
Yep, whole grain bread rocks. The Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Oatmeal bread I buy has 4 grams of protein per slice.


Now because I have a serious problem with the chicken industry, I only buy eggs from local farmers. That way I know I’m getting eggs from happy chickens that are roaming free and aren’t getting injected with bad hormones.

Ok, I’m climbing off my soapbox. Again. Sorry.

Eggs are a great source of protein. One medium sized egg has 6 grams of protein.

My Daily Nibbles
So, you can see how eating a little here and a little there could easily get plenty of protein in your diet.

What do I eat? Well, most of this stuff to be honest. Here’s a sample of my daily nibbles:

1.5 cups Fiber One cereal
1 cup Soy Milk
Total Protein: 13 grams

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Total Protein: 15 grams

Handful of pumpkin seeds and a piece of fruit
Total Protein: 9 grams

Jumbo shells stuffed with cottage cheese and spinach and tomato sauce (Next time I make this I will take pictures and post the recipe for you all because it’s not only cheap and healthy, but it’s also delicious!)
Small Salad
Total Protein: 25 grams

Other Foods
I left out the glasses of wine and Oreo Cookies since those don’t have any protein to speak of.
Sample Daily Total: 62 grams

This is actually quite a bit of protein. WebMD suggests that adult women need, on average, 46 grams per day, and adult men need 56 grams.

Last Word…
Do you have any vegetarian tips you’d like to share with me and other readers? Do you have any amazing recipes you’d like to pass along?

If so, send them in! I’d love to add some more variety to my diet, and I’m sure other readers would too.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 21, 2009

TGIF: This Week's Best Green and Frugal Posts

Thank God It's Friday! Here are some of the best green and frugal blog posts that I stumbled upon this week:

Sorry for the short list. I had a hard time finding some good nuggets. Let me know if you have any to add.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Product Review: Toland Home Garden Art Flag

The hubby and I escaped this past weekend for some kid-free time in Cape May. It was one of the nicest weekends on record in NJ -- sunny and in the high 80s. During our getaway, I always stop by the Cape May Wicker shop. It's a store with some nice decorative items for the home -- shelves, small furniture, baskets and garden items. I was in need of some new garden flags. I have small wrought-iron flag holder that welcomes guests just outside our front door. I like changing the flags as the seasons change, but I needed an "in-between" flag that I could keep out throughout the seasons.

The shop had a great selection and I found a beautiful flag with a lovely electric blue butterfly (shown here). As I read the tag, I realized not only was this a gorgeous flag, it was recycled! Best of all, the price ($7.65) was comparable to the other flags on display that were not considered green. So this product was green and frugal -- score!

The flag is produced by Toland Home Garden. Six 16 oz. plastic bottles were recycled and used to create the flag. Even the header card packaging was made with post-consumer recycled materials.

Here's what the packaging says:

How a Water Bottle Becomes a Flag
The process looks like this: Recycled PET products, or #1 bottles, are reprocessed into flakes, melted and spun into fibers. The fibers are spun into strands and then are woven into a fine synthetic polyester vloth. We take the cycle full circle by combinging our great flag designs with this cloth. We're even making sure the rest of the packaging is made from recycled plastic and paper. We still use our unique sublimation process guaranteeing a flag with fabric durability, vivid color, and retention of shape for years to come but now we've added a "greener" spirit so you can fly flags responsibily.

Plus, the flag boasts:
  • Environmentally sensitive
  • Superior performance
  • Vivid color process
  • Fade & mildew resistant
  • Permanently dyed
After a Google search, I found their website , which could be dangerous. Let's see what other items I can find...

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Collect $5 Bills

Each day, take all of the $5 bills you have and put them in a dedicated piggy bank or other container. This is an easy and painless way to save money each month towards something you want, whether it's a new car, massage or other treat. You won't even miss those $5 bills and it becomes somewhat of a fun game.

How much can you save each month by stashing your $5 bills?

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Website Review:

Reduce Your Footprint & Earn Money -- Does It Get Any Better?
I somehow stumbled upon It's basically a site that helps you identify your personal carbon usage, exchange it and earn money for reducing your carbon footprint. MyEmissionsExchange tackles the increasingly important issue of global warming in a new way: by paying individuals for reducing their carbon emissions. is easy to use, and they break down the process into three steps: Measure, Reduce, Earn.

First, you MEASURE your carbon footprint relative to your home energy use. When you create your profile on the site, you enter your electric and heat usage for the last year.

My then offers a variety of tips to REDUCE home energy use. As you begin reducing carbon emissions, just enter your utility usage once a month. The website does all the calculations for you and tells you how much you are saving on energy and earning on credits! will then certify these reductions and award members carbon credits similar to those currently granted to companies, states, and countries.

Members receive their EARNINGS via Pay Pal.

I just signed up. Now there is a bit of data entry of past utility bills. I'll keep you posted on whether or not I end up with earnings.

Have you tried this site? What's been your experience? I'd be interested to hear from you.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 14, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Wow, it's already the second week of August! Before we know it, the summer will be over. How did that happen? Here's to a green and frugal weekend:

Let me know if I missed any, or feel free to link to your own post.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frugal Living: Small Steps to Save Big

Thanks to our friends at The Greenest Dollar for today's fabulous post:


When it comes to saving money, we’ve probably all heard the same tips. Stop going to the coffee shop! Don’t buy frivolous things like artwork and jewelry! Start cooking at home!

And, it’s all good advice. But I think many of us fall into the trap of being “penny-wise and pound-foolish”. That is, we focus on the super small savings and then miss the big steps to save money.

A good example of this is “The Latte Factor”; you know, that little piece of personal finance wisdom that says if you stop spending money on lattes, you’ll save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. And, it makes sense. If you spend $4 per latte twice a week, that’s $384 per year. Significant.

But, you could potentially save that much with just a few phone calls. You could shop around for cheaper car and home insurance, or renegotiate a better rate with your cable TV and internet provider. These are easy ways to save big that don’t involve daily or weekly sacrifices.

So, let’s look at some other small steps you can take to save big money.


Store and brand rebates run the gamut, from $5 to $500. But the shocking thing is that most of us shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to rebates. According to a study done by Leflein Associates, 41% of people who buy a product with a rebate forget to send it in.

And, I’m wholeheartedly in this camp. Just this summer I’ve missed out on $26, all because I forgot to send in the rebate forms.

Will that $26 break the bank? Well, no. But you can bet I sure wish I hadn’t forgotten

And what about when Dell offers a $250 rebate on their computers, or Whirlpool offers a $400 rebate on their washing machines? That’s big money. And, a whopping percentage of people will never get it because they simply forget to send in the paperwork.

Rebates take very little effort, and they’re a great way to save money. When you think about the time it takes to send in the paperwork versus the time it takes to resist the urge to go to the coffee shop every week, there’s no comparison.

Regular Upkeep

I don’t know about you, but I loathe getting my car’s oil changed. It’s $30 each time, and I can think of a thousand ways I’d rather be spending that money.

But, regular upkeep on my car saves me big time over the long term. Why? Because it keeps the car in good condition. If I skipped the regular maintenance to save that $30 every few months, my car would eventually need thousands of dollars in repairs.

Spending money for upkeep on things like a car, a home, or even a nice coat, can be irksome. It can feel like a waste because you don’t really see an immediate benefit. But over the long term, these little expenditures have a huge return simply because they help you avoid big, costly repairs.

High-Yield Savings Accounts and CDs

If your savings account or emergency fund is currently sitting in an account with a non-existent interest rate, you could be earning money simply by taking the time to look for a high yield account.

Now, it’s true that rates have fallen big time. This time last year I was making 3% at ING. Now I’m making 1.4%.

But, that 1.4% interest rate is still higher than my bank’s offer, which is 0%.

And while I was Louisiana earlier this summer visiting family, I saw some truly stunning offers. For instance, Farm Bank in middle-of-Nowhere, Louisiana, was offering 5% interest on savings account. 5%! I almost swerved off the road. Another small bank in Mississippi was offering 4%.

If I didn’t live a thousand miles away, I would have gone in right then and opened an account.

I haven’t seen offers even remotely that good from the bigger banks, so I’m assuming it’s the only the small, community banks that are able to do this.

So, want to start earning some easy money? Then spend just a little time shopping around for interest rates. And, don’t pass up your smaller, community bank. They just might have the best rate around.

Physical Fitness

I can’t say enough about how much money you can save simply by getting and staying in shape.

Want a good example?

Ok. I live fairly frugally, but I spend $32 per month on a gym membership. Of all the things I spend money on each month, I truly believe that this is the expenditure I get the most benefit from.

Here’s why: as a self-employed writer, you can only imagine what my health insurance is like. The nice way to put it is that it’s for emergencies only. Any visit to a doctor is going to cost me at least $80. And if I get sick and can’t work, there are no “sick days” or “personal days” to fall back on.

When I’m sick, I make $0 for the day. Not good.

Before I began going to the gym regularly two years ago, I seemed to get sick all the time. I’d come down with little colds, the flu was a regular visitor, I had bad allergies, and I got tired easily. All thanks to sitting behind a desk all day.

But since I started running and working out, I’ve hardly gotten sick at all. I haven’t seen a doctor in years, and I feel great almost all the time. I’m more productive, more positive, and I have far more energy.

All of this is because I’m getting plenty of exercise. And, while I can’t say exactly how many hundreds or thousands of dollars my physical fitness has saved me, I know it’s a lot.

To me, that $32 per month is a small drop in the bucket to what I’m getting. I’m avoiding the doctor, as well as making more money because I’m more productive and alert.

Many people view gym memberships as frivolous expenditures. But in my mind, nothing could be further from the truth. Getting regular exercise is an easy way to save yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical bills. It also increases your quality of life, and helps you work better because you have more energy.

Definitely worth the money in my book!

Last Word…

I know there are plenty of ways to avoid being “penny wise and pound foolish”. These 4 are just the tip of the iceberg!

What small steps do you do that save big over the long-term?

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday: Making Versus Buying

I saw this great wine cork bulletin board kit (pictured here) that I really liked. The kit was for a bulletin board made out of corks. When I saw the components -- wooden frame backing, glue and some padding (I had to provide the corks) -- I realized that I could easily make this myself without paying $19.99 for a kit.

It got me thinking. What other things could I make myself versus buying that would save me money in the long-run? While you always have to consider the time investment (figure out what your hourly pay is or would be, how much time it would take to make your masterpiece and compare that to the retail price.)

Here are few items that come to mind:
  • Food (the less pre-packaged, the less expensive)

  • Exercise (all you need are sneakers and a place to walk or run)

  • Gifts

  • Cleaners -- all you need is some vinegar, baking powder and salt

  • Cards (greeting, birthday, holiday, etc.)

  • Wrapping paper (use comics or take butcher paper and decorate it yourself)

  • Toys (how often do children end up playing with the box the toy came in vs. the toy itself?)
With some ingenuity, there are loads of things you can make versus buying. What others did I miss?

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 10, 2009

Greening Up Baby Showers

No one deserves more to be celebrated in an earth-friendly way than moms-to-be and their babies. After all, everyone wants the best for their children and the best, as we now realize, is to make healthier choices for people and the planet.

Throwing a "green" baby shower doesn't take extra work, just planning. Start by thinking about the various aspects of a shower and how you can apply the 3Rs--reduce, reuse, recycle. For instance:

  • Reduce the amount of decor you buy, the amount of food you purchase, the amount of disposables, whether for wrapping, plates or table covering.
  • Reuse by repurposing items for decor. For instance, if you're giving the mom cloth diapers, hang them on a clothes line strung along one wall. Intersperse with colorful pieces of cloth, cute dresses or tops or pre-used ribbons. After the party, she takes everything home (including the clothes line).
  • Recycle everything from the event. Pass on decor items, compost what leftovers cannot be sent home with guests.

Most showers involve food and maybe some games. But almost inevitably, the focus is on opening gifts. While everyone loves giving and receiving, especially when it comes to adorable baby items, how about a little more emphasis on mom and a little less on "stuff?"

Showering mom (and dad, if he's present), with loving, thoughtful gifts from the heart costs almost nothing and will help her (and him), feel amazing. Some ideas (note that these are alternatives--not every parent or group of guests will be interested in every one):

  • Create an calming atmosphere by dimming the lights, perhaps lighting some beeswax candles, settling mom into a comfy chair, offering her socks or slippers if she'd like. Ask someone to create a CD of mom's favorite relaxing music to be played during the event, then gifted to her.
  • Offer mom a rosewater footbath or a massage for hands, feet or neck. If the guests are comfortable with this (as well as mom), each one can take a turn offering mom a "touching" gift.
  • Prepare a selection of drinks--made from fresh organic fruit in summer or organic tea in cooler weather.
  • Have everyone bring a bead. Guests sit in a circle and string the beads one at a time explaining their choice as they do. Perhaps the color reminds them of the mom's eyes, or a place she loves. Maybe the bead came from a broken necklace inherited from a beloved grandmother. Guests also can write their explanations on a piece of paper that mom can keep with the bracelet or necklace. Encourage mom to wear the item or keep it nearby when she gives birth, or if she's adopting, when she receives the baby, as a reminder of the love that surrounds her.
  • Make mom a special plate of food. Each item can represent something about being a mother. (Remember to choose local and organic when possible, and of course, respect mom's tastes and/or allergies.) Some ideas include: a carrot representing family "roots," a mushroom representing "shelter," a cluster of grapes respresenting "closeness," blue cheese or another "smelly" one representing some of the distatesful things moms have to do etc. The items can be brought out on a plate, an example of what one represents offtered, then guests can toss out their own ideas.
  • Ask everyone to bring a stone from where they live. They can write a wish for the mom or baby or write their names in permanent ink. Add the stones to a pot in which a small live tree has been planted. If appropriate, parents can plant the tree with the stones around it as a lasting memory of the event.
  • Be sure to make laughter a part of the event. Maybe guests will recount cute things their kids have said or the silliest thing they ever did as a parent, or the time they "lost it."
  • Ask the mom and/or dad-to-be, to bring a piece of clothing, baby book or photo from when they were babies and talk about their childhood memories, how they perceived their parents, and/or the most important things they want to do for and with this baby.
  • If the parent-to-be's mom or dad is at the shower, encourage them to share memories or humorous anecdotes about the expectant parents as kids.

Eco-tips for Choosing Green Baby Shower Gifts

  • Select clothing items without chemicals (which are readily absorbed by a newborn's thin skin). Look for organic cotton, hemp, wool or silk.
  • The safest toys are made from natural, pesticide-free materials such as untreated wood or the fabrics listed above. Seek out products made locally, and/or that are handmade and that will last.
  • Give a gift of yourself such as preparing meals for the family, driving or doing errands weekly for the first months after the baby is at home, offering to rent a movie and preparing a "parents night in," along with babysitting, or doing a year's worth of car washes.
  • Choose to wrap your gifts in items that keep giving--baby blankets, crib sheets, towels, scarves or other reusables.
A special thanks to Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson, who are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Frugal Rant: NJ Taxes are Unreal

We moved to Bergen County around two years ago and made the move due to a new job I had accepted. Moving enabled both my husband and I to enjoy an 8-mile commute. In the process, we looked at no less than 30 homes. Many times, we would avoid entire towns due to their ridiculous tax rate. For example, for a small piece of land, you could pay $10,000-$15,000 a year in taxes. I just couldn't bear to pay more than $1,000 a month in taxes.

Eventually, we confined our search to Mahwah, one of the towns with a very reasonable tax rate for living in Bergen County, NJ. Keep in mind, the State of NJ boasts one of the highest property tax rates in the entire country.

When we first moved in two years ago, we were paying $7,800 for our home on 1.3 acres. I just received our new tax bill, which is now $8,800!! How on earth do our taxes go up $1,000 in two years when property values throughout the U.S. are dropping?!?!? I can't fathom how this works.

Anyone want to clue me in? I'd love to know how this works. Ah, the joys of home ownership...

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 7, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Let's hear it for Friday!! My son goes for eye surgery this morning. It's his second one to correct the alignment of his left eye. Needless to say, I'm a nervous wreck!!

Here are some of the top posts to peruse at your leisure. Enjoy!
Let me know if I missed any! Have a fabulous weekend!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stay-cations Aren't Always Cheaper

A Not-So-Frugal Family Vacation to Hershey Park
The weather was not our friend this past weekend as we packed up the kids and headed to Hershey, PA for a long weekend. We met my brother, his girlfriend and her two kids for what was supposed to be three fun-filled days at Hershey Park. It turned out to be one and half days of rain and one and half days of fun.

Hotel = $298 (includes a $30 credit)
After much research and asking around, I made reservations at the Mainstay Suites, a Comfort Inn property. The main reason was because we needed three beds as well as a efficiency-type room with a kitchen and eating area. It helps to have some extra room for my 2-year-old and 5-year-old to run around.

Plus, the hotel boasted an indoor mini golf course, basketball court, arcade and swimming pool with a giant slide. A hot breakfast was also included each morning.

Curious about the credit? The hotel was fairly new, so there were a few quirks, one of which included our door lock not working properly. We realized this when my son showed us his new trick -- how to open the door without the key. The hotel manager was very apologetic and credited our account. Needless to say, while we weren't thrilled about compromising our security, we were very happy that they were so accommodating.

Food = $200
If I had more foresight and ambition, I would've packed lunch meat, bread and lunch fixings like my brother's girlfriend did. But the vacation sneaked up on me and I was completely unprepared. We packed snacks and drinks for the 3-hour ride. But we stopped at McDonald's for breakfast ($18), at lunch at Red Robin once we arrived at Hershey Park ($42) and then treated for dinner that evening ($38). (My brother treated the following night.) Then there was lunch the second day ($38) and snacks for the ride home ($11).

Park tickets = $270
The most economical way to get tickets for three days was with a 3-day flex pass. We purchased two adult and one junior 3-day flex pass. My daughter was free since she was under 3 years old. (Amen for that!!) Unfortunately, it began to rain one hour into our first day. As we left, we got three vouchers that were good for 30 days. Plus, you could come back to the park after 7:30pm to get a free preview with the purchase of tickets for the next day. Once the rain stopped, we returned to the park and stayed until it closed (11pm).

The second day we hit the water park, went back to the hotel in the late afternoon, ate dinner and then went back for the evening. The third day was severe rain and thunder, making it impossible to even go to the park.

Essentially, we have three 2-day passes to Hershey. We plan to put these on eBay to see if we can recoup some of our ticket costs. Looking back, we should've bought tickets each day, but we really didn't think the weather would be such an issue.

Misc. (e.g., gas, parking, etc.) = $100
Then there were all of the other incidentals that come with a road trip. We filled the tank before we headed out ($30) and when we headed home ($30). Parking was $10 per day ($20), but you could leave and re-enter as many times as you wanted. I bought my son ice cream one night ($5) and we rented a locker when we hit the water park ($15).
TOTAL = $860

Whew! That's pretty steep for a 3-day vacation! We used coupons whenever possible. But for the most part, it was hard to save money on this trip.

Any frugal vacation stories you'd like to share?

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday: Yet Another Use for Vinegar

Back in March I wrote about the numerous uses for vinegar when it comes to cleaning. I especially like how well vinegar cleans glass. So as I was loading our dishwasher one night and realized that we were out of rinse aid, it dawned on me that vinegar may be a good replacement. I filled the rinse aid component and let the vinegar do its magic.

My glasses sparkled like never before. Cost-effective, environmentally friendly, safe for the dishwasher and easy to use -- vinegar is the ideal rinse aid for the dishwasher.

Have any other vinegar uses you'd like to add?

Bookmark and Share