January – 2012 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

January 2012

Getting Frugal With Bunk Beds

When you mix the word “frugal” together with the words “bunk beds”, the first thing that comes to mind is usually a set of boring wooden twin bunks that you’d see in a local campsite. These days, however, bunk beds are being manufactured with the end consumer in mind, and nowadays people are looking for something better. You can find cheap bunk beds that are stunning and modern without having to break the bank.

Secondhand bunks

Kids can outgrow bunk beds very quickly so it is quite easy to find secondhand bunks on classified ad sites on the Internet. While you probably will want to replace the mattresses, you can purchase a cheap frame that is stylish. It’s easy to wash down these frames so that you don’t have any concern about germs or bacteria. They are available online in both traditional wood designs and in modern metal tubing bunks.

Online stores

You’ll often find bunk beds at a cheaper price on the Internet, even once you have factored in the cost of shipping. Online stores buy bunks directly from the manufacturer, which cuts down on the overhead significantly. If you were to buy a bed from a retail store in your local area, you would be paying for the utility costs, the rental and leasing costs and the overall upkeep of the store itself. This is not to mention the wages for the employees or the shipping costs to get the bed from the manufacturer to the store.


From time to time you can find fantastic sales in stores where bunk beds are marked down to almost a wholesale price. These sales don’t come along too often, however, and when you find that you’re in need of a bunk bed you’re not usually in a situation where you can wait too long.

When you’re looking for cheap bunk beds make sure that you take proper measurements before heading out to look for them or searching for them online. Bunk beds come in all different shapes and sizes these days and it can get quite confusing once you start shopping to envision how they would fit into the room. This is, in fact, one of the most important things that you can do before you start shopping. It will be a quite a situation if you happen to fall in love with a set of bunks only to find out later that they simply cannot fit into the room as imagined.
If you haven’t seen bunk beds recently, you’re in for a treat. The old style of campsite bunk beds are still available, but there are also stylish and modern bunks that can fit into the decor of any bedroom.

I Love Avocados

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Avocados from Mexico for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

It’s true, I do. I have to admit it wasn’t love at first sight. It wasn’t until, as a newlywed, my husband encouraged me to give them a try. Since then, I’ve been a huge fan! On burgers, on sandwiches, on tacos, with rice, by themselves, and most definitely in a freshly made guacamole, I absolutely adore adding Avocados from Mexico to my food.

If you’ve never tried making homemade guacamole before, by the way, you should go for it – it’s amazing! We make ours with 5 avocados, the juice of two limes, half a can of Rotel w/ cilantro & lime juice, minced red onion, minced garlic, chopped fresh cilantro and salt to taste. You can also add diced jalapeno if you want a little extra spice.

Do you love avocados too? Apparently we’re not alone. Over 27,000 people like the “Avocados From Mexico” page on Facebook! This page makes it easy for us avocado fans to share the love – they have ringtones, wallpapers, and badges you can download for free. I got one of the free ringtones. All I had to do was scan the QR code with my smart phone, fill in my email address, and they sent the ringtone right to me.

I also found this cute badge that I think I should add to every recipe I post with avocados in it:

Do you love avocados too? Visit the I love avocados on Facebook page, catch them on Twitter at @guacgrl, and tweet the love using the hashtag #iloveavocados.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Turn Something Old Into Something Bold – Home Decor On the Cheap

If you’re looking for a way to spruce up your house but don’t want to spend a lot of money, just get creative! There are a lot of ways to turn old items you have around the house into something new and great. Here are a few inexpensive ways to add some flair to your home decor and give everyday household items new life:
1. Turn an old picture frame into a vanity tray. Whether you keep the frame “as is” with old photograph and all or insert patterned gift wrap in the frame, picture frames make a terrific vanity tray.  The frame edges keep items from sliding off, while the glass top can be easily cleaned. Paint the frame to make it match your decor. You can even buy handles at your local hardware store pretty inexpensively if you want to add something more to the tray.

2. Re-use a sleek wine or water bottle as a vase.  Turn glass bottles you already have around into a great home décor piece for fresh flowers.  For example, you could add champagne colored stones into an empty VOGA Italia Wine Moscato bottle to match the champagne colored detailing.

3.  Turn cake pedestals into decorative displays. If you think cake pedestals look gorgeous with a one of your homemade cakes on top, try using them as a decorative piece for candles, flowers and more.  Add some height to your centerpieces and displays by putting some elements at surface level and others on the cake plate. You’ll free up space in your kitchen cabinet, too! I also have used square plates as candle bases before – just take a large white square plate (I got mine for just a couple of dollars) and group candles on it. Voila! Much cheaper than buying something specifically made for candles!

4.  Turn old clothing into throw pillows.  Turn outgrown, outworn or even stained clothing into great throw pillows.  Cut two squares of equal size from your clothing of choice, sew the edges and fill with pillow stuffing. You can add embellishments to dress it up a little, or leave it as is for a fun look.

5. Reuse glass bottles as soap dispensers.  Use old glass bottles to dispense your hand soap, body oil or body wash.  I love the idea of using vintage bottles, but you could even use a basic clear bottle for a clean and fresh touch.

6. Turn old jars into hanging candle holders.  I think this is such a charming look, especially for summer. For an elegant & fun touch to your indoor or outdoor décor, wrap wire around the lip of old jam jars and create a hanging loop.  Display under porch beams, curtain rods or anywhere you need a playful touch – and if you feel like this is out of your realm, you can find really cute mason jar creations and more in the Treasure Again shop on Etsy!

I love repurposing old items – I’ve also taken old windows found at garage sales and turned them into tables or picture frames. What’s your favorite way to repurpose something? Do you have a project you’re particularly proud of? Share in the comments – I love hearing ideas for this kind of thing!

Project 365 Update

So, it turns out I’m not doing so great with remembering to take a photo every day. I think my project should be called project three-hundred-and-something. When we just had J, it was easy to take multiple photos of him a day. In fact, I think I took almost as many photos when C was little – only because everyone warned me the amount of photos taken shrinks with each subsequent child. But now, even with my phone I forget. I decided not to sweat it, because it isn’t fun if I’m stressing over it like homework in high school. So, without further ado, here are eight pictures taken at some point over the course of the past two weeks. Here’s hoping I’ll do better this coming week!

In this first photo, Brian & J are standing in front of the duck pond at the park I grew up going to (Brian did too… I always wonder if we were ever at the park at the same time throughout the years).

We were insane and decided to take our giant lab/golden retriever puppy, Sally, with us to my parents’ house TWO HOURS AWAY. She acted like you’d expect a giant puppy holed up in a small space to act. She wiggled around pretty constantly and chewed the edge of our floor mat. And our dark carpet got covered in fur. But she sure did have fun!

Monday I was off work for MLK Day, and it was in the 70’s, so I decided to take the boys to the zoo. We had a lot of fun! My little monkeys loved climbing the fence and watching the monkeys at the zoo!

Tuesday night I decided to make Brian’s favorite cookies. There sure is something relaxing about baking cookies… maybe it’s knowing that you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor soon after.

We went shopping – for groceries, mind you – and I randomly decided to snap this photo to capture what it’s like going to the store with Brian and the boys. They all three want to stop on the Lego aisle. I’m so outnumbered.

Thursday I got called from the boys’ day care – C was running a high fever, wouldn’t eat his lunch and was acting lethargic. I picked him up and took him to the doctor. The verdict? Strep throat. He was SO pitiful.

Last night some friends braved our sick house and came over to play games. J and C adore their boys, who are much older and are SO sweet to them. J had a blast hanging out with big kids! Of course, he’d group himself into that category too.

This last picture is from tonight – J loves to turn off the lights, pop popcorn and watch a movie. C was asleep, but the rest of us enjoyed an episode of Cat in the Hat before bedtime.

I already know what my photo tomorrow will be – after church we’re going to be putting in some work on finishing our bathroom remodel. Can’t wait to take a picture of our progress!

Are you taking photos (almost) every day? Link up in the comments so I can check your photos out!

Support Healthy Living With Supplements

As I get older, I become more and more interested in taking measures to be healthy. I’ll be honest, taking a multivitamin in my twenties (aside from prenatals) was a rarity. But now I am much more conscious about making an effort. My parents have been good about this for a long time – they’re really knowledgeable about herbs and oils, and the benefits of everything from Echinacea to Fish Oil.

There’s a newer oil supplement out that I’m hearing more about and am interested in – Krill Oil. This is the oil harvested from antarctic krill, a shrimp-like crustacean that lives deep in the ocean.  The Krill oil site says,

Krill Oil also contains critical DHA and EPA but there’s one HUGE difference. When you take Krill Oil, the Omega 3 fatty acids are structured in phospholipid form and NOT triglyceride form. Phospholipids are the same type of fat cells found in the human body! This means there are no triglycerides to break down and the Omega 3s can directly enter your body without any additional work or conversion! Just by switching to Krill Oil you immediately gain 50% more DHA and EPA to boost your health!

I’m definitely going to be looking more into the benefits of krill oil – I’ve heard for a long time about how good fish oil is for providing crucial Omega 3 fatty acids, and the extra DHA and EPA from krill oil is really appealing!

Do you take supplements? Have you heard of krill oil before? I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions/experiences!

Note: http://cmp.ly/3

Your Words Shape Your Child’s Life

I was going through some old files on my computer and found my design portfolio from college. While going through the images, I found two public service announcements I created. Although the OCD person in me would love to go back and redesign them, the message still resonates, so I wanted to share them with you.

I’m fortunate to have parents who encouraged me and praised me, and as a 30-year-old I can say I’m certain that helped guide my direction in life – I felt like I could do anything I put my mind to. And now, as a parent myself, I can see how great of an impact my words have on my children. Their faces light up when we commend them for being a good helper, or for being so smart to figure out that puzzle all on their own. Little words that, over time, build a foundation of self-worth that our children deserve.

That all children deserve.

How Do You Make Extra Money?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m trying to shop smarter and save more money, but the other side of that is figuring out ways to make extra money. What are some ways you do this for your family? Here are the top three that come to my mind:

Garage Sale: This one has a dual benefit for me – clearing out our clutter and making a little extra change! I’ve had some successful sales in the past. Here are a few tips I’ve discovered over years of sales:

  • Have a sale with your friends. It’s more fun, and shoppers love to go to “multi-family” sales. My friend Amanda and I have had many great sales together!
  • Clean/spruce up your items before you put them out. Dust, spots, or scratches will turn people off from making a purchase, or will provide immediate reason to offer a lower price.
  • Organize your items in categories. I felt a little OCD doing this the first time, although it rang true to my love of organization, which is why I tried it to begin with! But let me tell you – it works! There’s a reason why stores do it this way. If people are looking for CDs, don’t make them hunt through piles of your junk to find them. My friend and I used categories like electronics, games, movies, accessories, kitchen, etc.
  • Diversify your advertising – posters, signs on store bulletin boards, an ad in your local paper and in American Classifieds.
  • Ok, here’s one that sounds totally stupid but I swear it works! If you’ve got a lull in traffic and you see cars headed your way, take turns hopping up and pretending to be a customer. I mean, think about it – if you drive by an empty sale, your first thought will be that it must not be worth stopping by, right? But if people see others shopping, that makes them curious about what might be up there worth looking at. Amanda and I make great pretend shoppers. :)

• Sell online. One bad thing about garage sales is that you’re not going to find a targeted audience for unique or very specific items. Have a Coke bottle collection? The likelihood of finding a collector in your city that just so happens to swing by your garage sale is slim to none. But by going online to sell, you can easily connect people who are looking for what you have to sell.

  • Sell gift cards for cash. Have a card to a store you’ll never shop at? Don’t let it go to waste – go online and sell it. You can often end up with a pretty considerable percentage of the card’s value, which is way better than ending up with something you don’t want at all.
  • Sell your items on sites specifically tailored to audiences looking for what you’ve got. For example, you can sell your CDs, DVDs and games on a site like www.musicmagpie.com, where you know there will be people looking to buy those kinds of things!
  • Sell local, but online. Yup, you know what I’m talking about – Craigslist. This free service makes it easy to sell goods, especially those that are larger and that you wouldn’t want to try and ship.
  • Sell on eBay. Shocker, I know!  For collectibles or certain brand items, this is a great location to find a specialized buyer who will appreciate the value of what you have to offer.

• Make money by making something – use your talents! Love to make jewelry? Are you great at knitting? Take your skills and make money doing something you love. Etsy is filled with people who are successful doing just that, and more and more buyers appreciate buying handmade.

What methods do you use to make extra money? I’d love to get more ideas to add to my list!

Note: http://cmp.ly/3

Kindle Fire & $75 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway {TWO Winners!}

I’ve teamed up with 12 wonderful bloggers to bring you an awesome giveaway! We’ve all pitched in for two great prizes – a Kindle Fire and a $75 Amazon gift card – yep, that means there are TWO winners for this!

It’s super easy to enter! Simply “like” each Facebook page on the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win. Each “like” is an entry for a maximum of 13 entries! (Please Note: You may need to wait a minute for the Rafflecopter entry form to load.) If you haven’t used Rafflecopter before, just click each of the “Do It” buttons to complete the different entry options. SO quick and simple!

Prize Information

Grand Prize Winner will win a Kindle Fire ($199 ARV)
Runner Up Winner will win a $75 Amazon Gift

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shopping Smart in 2012

Anyone who knows me can tell you I love coupons or finding a good deal. I enjoyed it even before having kids thanks to my mom’s influence, but now we’re working even harder at living on a budget since we have the boys – and especially since we have a few big goals for our family in 2012.

One of our goals for this month is to finally finish our master bathroom remodel. When we moved in, it had carpet, floral wallpaper, a rusted sink, a beat up vanity, and pink towel bars. Brian gutted it and we’ve been working on creating a bathroom that’s more of an escape than a nightmare. We shopped around for good deals and so far have been able to keep our budget on track pretty easily thanks to some hunting! We found travertine tiles on sale, and got a great deal on a free-standing vanity with granite counter and under-mount sink. Finds like that make a big difference, but I’m working on accessorizing frugally too. For instance, I found a deal on a curtain rod and set of blinds… the total for both? A whopping $6. I’m going to look locally and online for towel bars, a toilet paper holder, and all of the other finishing touches. I’m sure I’ll do a whole post on the bathroom project and can break down our costs there, but suffice it to say – I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to get done for a beautiful, quality bathroom.

But that’s just one project, and sometimes it’s easier to stick to a budget when it’s a single task like that. I’m also trying to get back to shopping smart at the grocery store again too – watching circulars online to see what’s on sale and lining up my meal plans to take advantage of discounts. Coupons make a HUGE difference, and I always love seeing what savings I can achieve.

When it comes to clothes, shopping for the boys is a big weakness of mine. It’s just so easy to find adorable things for them! I can find a lot of savings for them too, though. For instance, if I just hop in the car and head to Children’s Place I might pay regular prices for said adorable clothes. If I go online I can find a Children’s Place coupon code that could save me money on the clothing and even give me free shipping.

For everything we shop for I can try to save money with a little foresight and planning. I’ve decided that whenever I save money at the store, I’m going to take the amount we saved and put it into savings. It may be a tiny amount sometimes, but it’ll add up over time – and I’ll feel a whole lot better about having the money in our savings than in a store’s cash register!

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