December – 2015 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

December 2015

Buying a Used Car 101

The other day I shared a post about how my husband and I love to buy used vehicles, and wrote a little about why we think it’s a great way to go.

Buying a used car can be intimidating, though. If you’ve never bought a car before, it might seem easier to just buy a new one – but if you shop at a reputable dealership and ask the right questions, buying a used car is not a big deal at all, and it just might help you get a great bargain in the process.

I wrote a post over on the Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota blog all about questions to ask when you’re purchasing a used vehicle. One question I always ask?

Can I see service records? Find out if the car received regular oil changes and tune-ups; if any parts that wear down over time have been replaced. You want to make sure the used car you’re purchasing has been taken care of so you don’t have unforeseen problems down the road.

Find out my top question that you should always ask by checking out my guest post!


Classic Gift – Etch A Sketch Turns 100

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

We received an Etch a Sketch to facilitate this post.

I’m betting 99% of you have played with an Etch a Sketch at some point or another. I know I spent quite a bit of time throughout my childhood making all sorts of creations and figuring out various ways to write out my name across the screen. There’s just something fun and almost addicting about it, which is probably why it’s still going strong 100 years after its inception.

The Etch a Sketch is a great gift for any child, or a fun nostalgic item for someone who played with one as a child. You can find them online and in pretty much every big-box store out there!

Buying Used Vehicles: Yea or Nay?

If you’re considering buying a used vehicle and are asked me whether you should or not, you’d get a resounding yes. We’ve owned 8 vehicles between the two of us, and six of those have been used.

We love buying used cars. When you purchase from a good dealership, you know the vehicle will have been thoroughly inspected for any potential problems. And you know that you’ll get much more vehicle for your money, too. If you love the idea of having a navigation system but can’t swing the cost of it as an added feature in a new vehicle, buying a used car with the navigation system is a perfect solution.

I wrote a guest post over on the Fletcher Chrysler blog all about why you should buy used vehicles. Here’s one reason:

Less depreciation of value. A new car can depreciate about 30% in value within the first year you own it, but if you buy a one-year-old car you can take advantage of getting a lower price and minimizing your loss of value.

For more reasons to buy used vehicles, go check out my guest post!

50% off Plans at Sprint – Plus a Giveaway for TWO Smartphones!

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I’ve really loved being a #SprintMom ambassador this year; I’ve learned a lot about the great devices and services they offer, and have gained even more appreciation for the company. Their latest news, though, has me really impressed!

In celebration of the launch of its new LTE Plus network, Sprint is introducing the biggest wireless offer in U.S. history – 50 percent off the price of most Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile rate plans. This is a great opportunity to try the Sprint network that’s performing better than ever. I love finding good deals, and 50% off a cell phone plan is seriously amazing. This offer is available through January 7, 2016 so don’t miss out! This would be a great gift for a pre-teen or teenager who you’re wanting to get a phone for anyway!

If you decide to take advantage of this and become a new Sprint customer, you can get your new device through Sprint Lease, iPhone Forever, installment billing, or by paying full retail price. You’ll get the 50% off rate until January 2018.

To continue the celebrating, I’m thrilled to be hosting a giveaway for not one, but TWO smart phones from Sprint – that means two of you will each win a great new Sprint phone!

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Spreading More Cheer with Betty Crocker! {$20 Visa Gift Card Giveaway}



If you saw my post the other day, you learned about a fun way to spread cheer to friends and neighbors – Betty Crocker’s #SpreadCheer printables are a great motivator to do something simple and sweet that will really make a difference in somebody’s day. We made our cookies on a school night – it’s that easy! We used the Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix and rolled the dough in Christmas-colored sprinkles before baking, then packaged them up cute and left them on our neighbor’s doorstep with instructions on how they could keep the chain going by sending cookies to someone they care about!


There’s a giveaway in that post for a $20 Target gift card; and guess what? I’m getting to spread even more cheer with another giveaway! This time I’m giving away a $20 Visa gift card so you can get everything you need to make some cookies and package them up to share with your friends and neighbors.

It’s super easy to enter! Here’s how:

You can do one of the following social media shares, and then comment on this post with the link to your share:

  • Post the following message on your Facebook page, making sure that it’s set to public, and that you’re tagging @Frugal Novice and @Betty Crocker:
    “I learned about a great way to #SpreadCheer from Frugal Novice and Betty Crocker!”
  • Tweet this message:
    “Try this great way to  from  and     
  • Post my sprinkle cookie picture (found at on Instagram, with this text:
    “I learned about a great way to #SpreadCheer from @FrugalNovice and @BettyCrocker! Find out more on the Frugal Novice blog (link in their profile). #cookies #cheer #Christmas #holidays #baking”

Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm Central on December 28, 2015. 

Full Home, Happy Home with Sam’s Club {Giveaway!}

Acorn Disclosure

We’re pretty excited that Christmas is right around the corner. Well, I’m pretty excited. My kids are absolutely thrilled and are convinced time isn’t moving quickly enough to propel us to December 24.

As a parent, though, I’m thinking about all that needs to be done between now and then. I’m not nearly far enough along with gift shopping, I have cleaning I should really get done for company that’s coming, and of course I need to stay on top of all the essentials we need around the house.

Sam’s Club is a really great solution for us in this most busy time of year; I can get both what we need and what our friends and family want for Christmas.


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Green Toys Dump Truck

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

We love Green Toys, and our kids have had several of their vehicles over the years. Their products are made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emission. Chunky, sturdy, and durable, the fleet features a front loader with a moveable scooper, cement mixer with a revolving drum, and a dump truck with a classic open-box bed.

Perfect in a sand box, toy box, or gift box, these pint-sized trucks are just right for little hands, and can easily be tossed in a diaper bag for on-the-go fun. Each vehicle comes with its own bulldog construction worker, and the figures are interchangeable among all three. Great for individual play, or sharing and swapping with friends.

No BPA, phthalates, or PVC, and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Packaged with recyclable materials and printed with soy ink.

We received the dumper, which is smaller than some of their other trucks like the fire engine, for instance. We plan to give this to our baby nephew so that it can be one of his first trucks when he gets old enough to play! You can find this truck, and many other Green Toys, on Amazon.

Creamy & Crunchy Chicken Crescents: Mini Chef Mondays

Oh my word, guys – it’s December. We’re even getting a few cold days here in Texas, and there’s nothing better on a cold day than a nice, warm, comfort food meal – and these creamy & crunchy chicken crescents are just that. We’ve made these for years, but this was the first time E helped me make them – and she loved it! There are lots of opportunities for getting your hands dirty, which kids love.

Here’s the recipe – and don’t forget, as always I’m sharing step-by-step photo instructions so you can make this with your mini chef!

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Blu Bot Robot Great for Beginning Robot Enthusiasts

Holiday Gift Guide 2015


We received a Blu Bot Robot from Silverlit to facilitate this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

Our oldest son, who’s 8, has had a robot on the top of his Christmas list for months. To be honest, we were a little hesitant to buy him one because we weren’t sure if it’d be something he’d lose interest in quickly. When I got the opportunity to try out the Blu Bot, it was a great chance to test the robot waters.


The Blu Bot is available from Silverlit and has two modes of play:


  • Pre-programmed steps for moonwalk style movement
  • Built-in I/R sensor for motion detection
  • Different facial expressions when robot moves


  • Gesture control, robot moves per screen touch and see the real time movement from the dedicated app
  • Voice changer brings extra fun
  • Spy function for recording and playing messages

If you want to do Bluetooth mode, there’s a free app available from the app store that’s easy to use and have a lot of fun with.

The bottom line is this: The Blu Bot is a great starter robot. It has some programmable movements which kids will have fun with, and the spy function is something straight out of movies (and who doesn’t want to have a tool in their arsenal with a little brother or sister around?). Our boys had fun with it and argued over who got to play with it next. A few weeks out they play with it a lot less, but at its lower price point I still feel like it’s a worthwhile purchase if your child really shows a lot of interest in robotics.

Spread Cheer with Betty Crocker this Christmas!

We’re in the midst of the Christmas season, and I’ve been trying to brainstorm about what to do for our neighbors. They’re great – always happy to keep an eye on our house when we go out of town, and just all-around good people.

We decided it’d be fun to spread a little holiday cheer to them by making some cookies to surprise them with. Betty Crocker inspired the idea with their free gift tags and info sheets about how to participate in continuing on with spreading the fun to others.

It’s a busy time of year, though, and we knew there’d never be a perfect time to work on cookies. Then I remembered how quick & convenient the Betty Crocker cookie mixes are, so we knew we could make some great cookies even on a busy weeknight. We ran over to H-E-B to pick up the mixes and the few other things we’d need.


We decided to make sugar cookies, and besides the mix we only needed two other ingredients – a stick of butter (melted) and one egg. SO easy, and stuff we already had on hand in the fridge.

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Put HP Envy 5540 & HP Instant Ink Under the Tree This Year!

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

This post is compensated, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

We all have those people on our list that are so hard to shop for, right? I know I do! I spend countless hours researching ideas for gifts so I can give something that will be appreciated and useful.

The HP Envy 5540 e-All-in-One printer is a perfect gift idea for virtually anyone. Whether your college-aged son needs a printer for class projects, or your mother wants to scan old family photos, the Envy works for everyone and is definitely something that will get lots of use. It lets you do printing, scanning, and copying.

Right now when you buy the HP Envy 5540 e-All-in-One printer you’ll also get 3 months free of HP Instant Ink!

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Biscotti & Kate Mack – Ultra-Chic Fashion for Little Girls!

We have three kids – two boys, and then our youngest is a girl. It’s a night and day difference between clothes shopping for our sons and for our daughter. The boys couldn’t care less, but our daughter loves to pick out what she is wearing and has quite an opinion about it all!

It can be hard to find great clothing that isn’t too cutesy; but there are places out there, like Biscotti & Mack, that have really great clothes for little girls. You know, clothes you kind of wish were made in your size too! I love their style, and I’ve got a great deal for you – right now if you sign up for their email list you get 10% off! Just click here to sign up!

Happy shopping!