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Follow up on ditching cable – we love our Roku!

Roku

Several months ago I wrote about our ever-ending quest to find larger items to save money on. We finally “bit the bullet” and got rid of our cable. Even after reading about others who had done it, I thought we could never live without it. It was our one splurge – not eating out much, not spending much on clothing, makeup, recreation, etc. As my friend Mara (of Kosher on a Budget) calls it – there are no sacred cows. So we did it – but after some careful research! Here is my original post: Save big on your phone and cable!

The hookup of our Roku device was very easy – however, we first bought the wrong one. We didn’t realize that our TV would not work with the hookup of the newest Roku model. It said it worked with most HD TVs, so we just assumed it would be fine with ours. Wrong! Be sure to check what kind of hookup your TV requires and be sure that model of Roku has that connection! And be aware that the Roku devices do not always come with the cable you may need. Read reviews for this, too, so you know all the parts you may need to get.

So we returned the newer one and got the previous model (which did save us $50, by the way) and thanks to Amazon Prime, it came in just two days. The hookup was then quite fast and we were able to watch in a few minutes.

The hard part was figuring out the multitude of channels. I still do not know what they all are for and many have charges that are not specifically stated on those first home screens. We have stuck with using HuluPlus ($7.99/month), Netflix ($7.99/month), and Amazon Prime ($79/year or $39 if you are a student). My boys also like PBS Kids, which is free.

Here were my original worries about giving up our AT & T:

  • we wouldn’t be able to keep track of our favorite shows and when new episodes were available
  • we would get behind on our favorite shows
  • our favorite shows would not be available

So far 2 out of 3 of our worries were unfounded. HuluPlus lets you add shows to your Favorites list and then new episodes appear on your Queue as they are available. You can also manually select any episodes or shows to your Queue. The font size is a bit hard to read on HuluPlus on our smallish TV, but no biggie!

The last, that some of our favorite shows would not be available, was true. Neither HuluPlus, Netflix or Amazon Prime seem to have current episodes of Disney, ABC Family, Lifetime, USA or CBS shows – without an added fee. You can often buy one episode of a show for $1.99, but I am not about to pay that for one show!

So for now, we are watching older seasons on Netflix when we can find them (Disney, some ABC Family, and CBS are available). And we are waiting and hoping all of the above mentioned stations will work out some deal with these streaming providers soon! The other option is to watch them online, but that is not as convenient for us with my laptop which often overheats. A friend has mentioned hooking up our laptop to the TV screen, but that is for another day!

The boys love it and really have so much to watch. They are loving catching up on older episodes of their favorite shows, finding every superhero show imaginable, and the watching the PBS Kids channel, which has a large selection of great shows (Arthur, Magic School Bus, Wild Kratts, Dinosaur Train, Word Girl, and more).

Have you made the switch? Share your feedback below in the Comments section!

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The best $10 a month I spend – Dropbox!

A few years ago, right around report card time, my laptop got one of those horrible trojan worm viruses. It hid all of my files and I couldn’t access anything even though I could see the files were somewhat still there. It took me hours to do research and figure out how to bring them back. Shout out to Bleeping Computer for helping me solve this awful problem!

But back to my story… After this I went out and bought an external hard drive, for fear of losing my files again. I had eight years of digital photos and all of my teaching and personal files on that computer! The hard drive worked great, right up until a month or two after the warranty and then for some reason it stopped turning! We took it to Best Buy and they said it could not be fixed for any reasonable amount of money. It would be a couple thousand dollars to recover the data! That’s was the last straw! I also had lost about a 100 ebooks from Scholastic (that luckily they reloaded for me on their website, but now I have to take the time again to download them!). I would not be relying on an external hard drive or any device again!

Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

I had heard of Dropbox, but had never tried it. I decided it was worth looking into. With Dropbox, a cloud storage solution, you can get up to 2 GB of space for free. You can then earn more free space by referring others and sharing Dropbox via social networking sites and completing other activities. However, even with that extra space, it was not enough to store all of our files and photos.

So for $9.99 a month, I get 100 GB, which is more than enough. However, there are higher plans that can accommodate 200 and 500 GB. They also have business plans for multiple users.

Why should you try it?

  • Gives you the peace of mind that all of your files are protected and backed up.
  • You have the ability to share files and folders with others. This has been great for accessing my husband’s files. He doesn’t need to keep sending me certain files I need when he updates them; I just click on the link on the first email he sent me with that file.
  • It is easy to set up.
  • It works without you doing much. You just put everything you want to be backed up in your “Dropbox” folder on your computer. It backs up files any time you create new ones, make changes, delete files, etc.
  • You don’t have to remember to back up your computer on a certain schedule. It does it every time your computer is on.

Definitely worth that $9.99 a month! Give it a try and let me know what you think! FYI – I am using a PC; I hear from friends with Macs that backing up your information is done differently.

Note: I am not working for Dropbox and receive no benefits from posting this information!

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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Other savings tips, Reviews

 

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Save big on your phone and cable!

Money

During my quest to save money, it has been much easier to find small ways to save. And those small ways can add up over the course of a year. Finding those big-ticket items can be more problematic. However, in the last two days I have found two new things that will together save us more than $1600 a year!

Phone service:

The first came from my friend, Mara, who writes the blog “Kosher on a Budget,” which I often refer to and link to. She did a post on an internet-based phone service. The Ooma system hooks up through your internet connection and you pay as little as $120 for the unit (yesterday’s price on Amazon). Then you pay less than $4 per month for fees (this may vary based on your area). Our current phone bill is up to $64 a month!

THE BOTTOM LINE:

ooma deviceFor one year that means we will pay $120 + $48 = $168 for Ooma. The unit would be paid off after three months compared to what we paid before.

In contrast, a year of AT & T is $64 x 12 = $768!

That is a savings of $600! Now, I do have to add one more expense to this. I bought the Ooma wireless adapter to make sure the unit would work with my wireless internet, because I wasn’t sure we had all the parts to do it using cords. That was an additional $40. However, even adding that in we save $560 the first year! After that we save $720 a year! That is quite a savings. I can’t wait to get the unit and try it out (and tell AT & T goodbye!).

I have heard of other internet-based options out there, but none as cheap as this. The Straight Talk unit from Wal-Mart costs $100 for the unit and $15 a month for service, which adds up to $280 a year.

Cable:

After the excitement of yesterday’s find, I started looking into other ways we might cut some of our biggest expenses, one of which is cable. We got suckered into getting AT & T U-verse a few years back when they first came to our neighborhood. They offered to upgrade our internet service to fiber-optic cabling and we could try out U-verse for a month for free. The cost for the Internet was not much higher than what we were paying them for DSL and I was glad to have a faster connection.

Then I got hooked on the DVR. We had previously used our VCR or DVD player to tape our favorite shows to watch after the kids went to bed. However, there were many times we would forget to program something, the time would change, or the tape or disc was full. The DVR offered a way to not have to deal with all of that. Plus, we were enjoying getting to watch the Disney Channel and a few other cable networks.

Our financial situation has changed for the worse again and this seems like a luxury that we should adjust. I also hate that I am paying so much to the cable company when we really only watch a few channels. So I think we are going to make the leap one of the new streaming device offerings.

Roku unitI did some research today and there seems to be a lot of evidence out there that the Roku device is best. It hooks up to your TV via the internet and allows you to watch tons of free programming and have access to a variety of streaming channels, the most popular being Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video. Through some research I have found that Netflix offers many Disney shows and Hulu Plus allows you to be fairly current with the regular timely offerings on TV.

I am no expert on any of this and have been reading many articles on the different channels, their programming, and the pros and cons. But for me, the bottom line is that I can still watch my favorite shows and my kids can still see the Disney Channel. We will be able to use our Netflix account or Amazon Prime right on the TV (currently my husband used Netflix on his iPod and our Amazon Prime was mainly for the free two-day shipping).

The unit costs about $100 across the board at various retailers. However, Amazon has it right now for $99. I had thought Target might be a good place to get it with my 5% Red Card discount, but the tax eats that discount up and you end up paying more than $100. Netflix and Hulu Plus are about $7.99 each per month.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Even if we add Netflix and Hulu Plus on top of the cost of the unit, our yearly cost for this first year using Roku will be $100 + $192 = $292.

Our U-verse cost (taking out our Internet fee which we will still to pay) = $90 + $10 (bundle discount we will lose) per month. That means $1200 a year!

That is a savings of $908 a year.

In two days, I have figured out how to save us $1628! I would say not bad for a few days work!

Please let me know your experience with phone systems and cable so that we can all learn from each other. I will be excited to share our results with you after we install both. However, from what I have read of reviews online, both seem like great options to save a bundle and take advantage of some great new technological options.

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Some other ways we save significantly:

 

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Printer ink can cost a fortune!

This image shows an opened Canon S520 ink jet ...Our printer recently died and HP told us that it could not be fixed. They offered us an upgrade at a lower price. I checked out Amazon and it was a lower price than they could offer. Our new printer came very fast and I was excited that I can scan, copy, and print from one device. But who knew that the ink would run out so quickly. I have been buying ink every few weeks! Here are my tips for saving as much as you can on printer ink.

1) Print in draft mode as much as possible. This will limit the amount of ink used on each printout. Print your coupons in black ink instead of color to limit your color usage, too.

2) Buy ink online whenever you can and be sure to compare prices with your local stores so you know when you have found a good deal. I often can find my ink for $5 – $10 cheaper than in stores. I mostly purchase through Amazon, so that if I need to return the ink, I have a reputable company to make sure the return goes well.

3) Buy remanufactured ink when you can, but be sure to check the reviews for that company and product. Some remanufactured inks are not as good as others. I have read many reviews of products that did not last long or didn’t even work when they were first opened.

4) Check reviews online for your printer ink. I almost bought a set of three colors and black ink together. By reading the reviews I found out that the four-packs for that ink number are only available as the setup packs that the printer comes with.

5) Buy XL inks when you can. These have more ink for the cost. However, be sure to read the specifications for these. You printer may take that number model of ink, but not the XL version, as mine does not.

6) Get your ink refilled at an office supply store when possible. Many inks can be refilled for a minimal cost instead of being replaced. See what your local store provides.

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Why I love Target!

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain

Tonight I had a very successful trip to Target. Some trips, particularly those when I take the kids, I leave exhausted and frustrated. However, there are those like tonight when I find so many good deals that I can’t wait to get home and share them all with my husband. For those of you who haven’t discovered Target’s finer points, or for those who just want to save more there, here are my reasons Target is one of my favorite stores:

1) Coupons:

Target has their own coupons you can print from their website. They can be stacked with manufacturer’s coupons, so you save even more. They have coupons on everything from name brands to their own brands to specific sections of the store. On most trips, I can save at least $20 in coupons! I even get coupons in the mail from Target. I think I get these from having a Target baby registry at one time and for making purchases online from their website.

2) Red Card:

You can get a Target Red Card: either debit or credit card, which gives you 5% back on each purchase. The discount is applied immediately – no waiting for rebates or reward cards. We do not have any credit cards, so I love that I can get these same rewards with the debit card. The money comes right out of my checking account as a regular debit card does. Tonight I saved an extra $10 from using my Red Card!

3) Bag discounts:

When you bring your own bags to use for your purchases, Target will give you $.05 back for each bag. This also comes right off your total purchase cost. Every little bit adds up. For more information on bag discounts, see my post “Reusable shopping bags = savings.”

4) Seasonal sales:

Target is a great place for getting great deals on seasonal items. No matter if you celebrate the holiday or not, the days after can provide some wonderful sales! See my post tomorrow for all the goodies I found during after Christmas sales! Target also has a great variety of items they only have available for different seasons and holidays and some that are only found at their store such as: home decor, organizational items, food, novelties, gift items, dining/cookware, and more. We have gotten several things during some of these seasonal sales that have lasted us years. See my related post on “Shop those Easter sales today!”

5) A fun shopping experience:

I love finding new items every time I go to Target. Maybe it is a new line of dishware. Maybe it is a new line of craft items. Or a new line of toys for that time of year. There is always something new to find and normally at great deals. The dollar aisle has also yielded some great gifts, toys, and teaching items for me and my family!

6) Sales on staple items:

I know that even if I don’t have a coupon, Target is going to have a sale on items I use often at some point. And for many items, even if I do not have a coupon and it is not on sale, their price still beats many competitors. I like not feeling so guilty if I have to make a purchase there without a sale or coupon! This is where my price list really comes in handy. See my post on “Keeping a price list.”

7) Good quality clothing for reasonable prices:

With my busy schedule, I do not get a lot of time to shop. I love that I can find clothing for everyone in the family at Target. I especially like that I can find staple items for good prices, whether or not they go on sale. I depend on Target for pajamas for the family, sweats for the kids and myself, socks and underwear for everyone, etc. Pajamas for my boys can get quite costly. At a department store, you can easily spend $10 or more for one set. At Target, I get the Carter’s First Year brand and spend $12-$13 for two sets together. They sometimes go on sale for a few bucks less, and then there are days like today where I found three sets of the same size for half price! They sell sets year-round tailored for each season and the designs change. They are comfortable and last. My boys love them!

Their clothes last and look good. My little boys wear many items that their older brother wore that I probably paid less than $5-$10 a piece for! I often find such good deals that I even buy sizes for later and then store them in the basement. Today I found hoodie jackets for $2.98. I also found sweatshirts and sweatpants for $2.08 in the boys’ department! I bought three hoodies for each size S – L (I could only find one XL)! They will be set for a few years! See my post “Staying on top of your kids’ clothing.”

8) Black Friday is a breeze!

I am not a diehard Black Friday shopper that will stand in line hours before a store opens or camps out the night before. My Black Friday shopping route in simple: CVS and Target and occasionally one or two other stores. For the past two years, Target has had some great Black Friday deals like cheap pajamas for the family, great toy deals, and cheap hat/glove sets for the kids. I have not had to go right when the store opened. I get there mid-morning, and for the most part all the items I have been looking for were still in stock! They don’t just provide a few each of their good deals, but plenty for many shoppers! I am not shopping high-priced items, but I still come out with some great deals and am quite happy!

9) A clean and usually well-stocked store:

I know I can find good deals, too, at Wal-Mart, but I found the clutter and disorganization to create more stress than success. I like that Target is always clean and orderly and I know where everything is. The order of the store makes sense and it is not so large that I am very exhausted when I finish a trip complete with groceries, too. Occasionally the dollar aisle is a mess, but overall the store is pretty well-kept!

10) Plenty of online deals as well:

Target often has a sale on something I need more than one of, but the store doesn’t have that many or the right size in stock. However, the website does. I recently got tennis shoes for my boys and paid a minimal amount for shipping! Shoe costs can add up, so we were all very excited! And compared to the Wal-Mart shoes I have purchased, these have lasted a lot longer! I have also gotten some great skirts from their daily deals as well as other items. See my post “Online shopping tips” to make the most of your Internet shopping.

11) Clearance sections:

It seems that so many stores have junk in their clearance sections. However, at Target, I find stuff all the time. I particularly love to shop the clothing clearances, as I mentioned before. I always find great deals on clothing for my kids. By putting those purchases and hand-me-downs aside for later, my kids love when they grow out of a size and I bring up boxes of great stuff for the new season. The boxes include new and used, but they don’t care. By thinking ahead, I rarely have to buy much for the new season!

Target also has clearance sections in other departments. The end caps of aisles are always full of surprises and there are always tons of items on clearance in the home department! Today I got two great toys to put aside in my gift drawer and gingerbread cheesecake cookies only available for a limited time and so yummy! See my post on “Preparing for gift-giving = savings.”

NOTE: To find the best deals for Target each week, check out “Kosher on a Budget” and “Totally Target,” two great blogs.

Happy shopping!

Please feel free to share why you love Target in the Comments section!

 

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New series: Highlights from my favorite cookbook

This week I was very excited to get in touch with my favorite cookbook author, Sarah Fritschner. She has written many cookbooks and worked as a food writer for several newspapers, most recently as the food editor for the Louisville Times and Courier-Journal. Since 2009, she has served as the coordinator for the Louisville Farm to Table, created to bring together area farmers and their locally-grown foods with Louisville consumers in their homes, schools, restaurants, and workplaces, bolstering the local food economy.

My favorite cookbook of hers is “Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook,” We use it several times a week and love the simple, easy-to-prepare recipes that involve 10 ingredients or less. The cookbook includes recipes for main dishes, sides, desserts, soups, pizzas, and more. We eat vegetarian on most weekdays (due to cost mostly, but it does benefit our health, too) and so this cookbook has become indispensable!

I originally bought this cookbook back in college when I had often thought about going vegetarian. Who would have guessed it would be my favorite cookbook for my family of six? We have had this book so long and used it so often, that the pages are turning yellow and we have many post-it flags to mark our favorites! Unfortunately, it is out-of-print. However, you can get it used from various sellers on Amazon, or possibly from your local library.

Since starting this blog, I have wanted to share some of the recipes from this cookbook. Thankfully, I got permission this week from the author to do this! So starting next week, I hope to feature one recipe a week from this great cookbook. I will include pictures of the finished recipes, too!

For more ideas on menu planning and great recipes, check out my posts:

 

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Wash, store, and save! (Two favorite kitchen products)

We have many things in our kitchen that hardly get used, even though they seemed like such a good idea at the time. Getting cookies just right without burning seemed like a great reason to buy a cookie sheet stone, but I think we have used it maybe twice! The second crock pot was great for making parve soups, but how often do we use it?

There are two things we do use nonstop in our kitchen. They save us time, money, and space. They also help reduce our food waste!

The first is our salad spinner bags.

Our favorite is the Argee “Spin ‘n Stor” Reusable Salad Spinner Bags. We first found them at Whole Foods, but now we buy them online. However, they last a while, so we very rarely need to buy new ones. These bags work just like a salad spinner, but without having one more gadget to store in your cabinet or refrigerator. You wash the lettuce and then place it in the bag. Then you close the top with your hands and spin it around. The water gathers on the bottom in a little reservoir. Then you pour it out the side of the bag. We love it. The boys think it is funny to see my husband swing the bag around!

After we wash a bunch of lettuce, we then store the washed lettuce in our second favorite kitchen product – produce bags.

We love the Debbie Meyer Green Bags. These hold your washed produce and keep them fresh. They work great and help us also distinguish between what has been washed and not washed in the refrigerator. Our fruits and vegetables last much longer stored in these.

I have not priced these out to see who has them cheapest, but Amazon offers them both from various retailers. You can also try Pricegrabber (see my post “Savings Tool Review: Pricegrabber”) to compare prices at several retailers at once. I have seen the Debbie Meyer bags in stores as well.

For more ideas on saving money in the kitchen, see my posts:

Do you have any kitchen products you can’t live without? Please share in the comments section!

 

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Making the most of your AAA membership

Most of us belong to Sam’s or Costco for bulk savings and have a AAA membership for emergency auto assistanceBut did you know that these membership programs have more than their advertised benefits? Why not take a look to see if you are really getting your money’s worth and all the extra perks provided.The AAA logo

Here is what I found out about AAA. For Sam’s Club, see my previous post on “Making the most of your Sam’s Club membership.” Costco to come soon!

Of course, the first thing I checked out was the savings discounts you can get with your membership. Did you know about some of these offers?

SAVINGS DISCOUNTS

Approved Auto Repair – Save up to 10% on parts and/or labor at participating Show Your Card & Save Approved Auto Repair facilities. Some restrictions and maximum discounts may apply.

Jiffy Lube – You can save 15% on their signature service at all participating locations in Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri. See my post on “What does an oil change cost?” for more Jiffy Lube deals.

Optical services at LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, & Target Optical – Get discounts on complete pairs of eyeglasses without a coupon. This page has details on each store’s deals.

Payless ShoeSource – Members can receive an exclusive 10% discount on all regular price merchandise, excluding gift cards (at stores in the US and Canada). They even have an extra coupon available on this page.

Six Flags – $5 off general front-gate admission or $2 off general front-gate admission at Six Flags Water Parks. You also can get a 10% discount on merchandise purchases of $15 or more at all Six Flags operated locations.

St. Louis Cardinals – Get $10 off a regular ticket priced $20 or higher for any Monday through Thursday home game during the 2012 season. See this link for ticketing information and how to get this deal.

St. Louis Science Center – $5 off St. Louis Science Center Friends & Family membership levels and $1 off OMNIMAX movies. See my post “Become a member!” on why memberships are a good deal. (They have many other amusement/attraction deals that vary based on your area.)

Target.com – Members can save $10 off $100 online. Some exclusions do apply.

This is just a sampling of savings discounts that AAA offers in categories such as Play, Hotels, Travel, Shop, Auto, Dine, Services and Health.

MORE WELL-KNOWN SERVICES

Automobile splash

Travel:

  • Travel discounts and booking as well as TripTik driving directions and maps, online TourBook guides, eTourBook Guides
  • Travel checklists, event calendars, and vacation ideas
  • Information on foreign travel requirements
  • Car rental discounts

Insurance:

  • Auto, home/renter’s, and life insurance
  • Car buying tips
  • Health/Medical insurance – they even offer short-term insurance. I wish I had known about this three months ago while we have been waiting for my husband to be eligible for health insurance at his work!

Financial:

  • AAA Member Rewards Visa card
  • Travel money
  • Free identity theft monitoring (I am going to look into this, especially since this can be a costly thing to sign up privately.)
  • How to videos on money tips

News & Safety:

  • Information on gas costs and pricing
  • Safe driving tips
  • Travel magazine

Automotive:

  • Tips for taking care of your car
  • Links to AAA approved sites and battery service information

* NOTE: The links provided are for my AAA region, which serves Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, E. Kansas, S. Illinois, S. Indiana, and Texarkana, TX. To find information on your local AAA region, your computer should redirect you to your region’s website. However, if it doesn’t, you may need to click on “Other AAA Clubs” at the bottom of the AAA homepage.

Are you taking advantage of all you can with your membership! Check it out now! Tell me about how you saved!

 

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Coupon “re”-organization

For the past many years I have organized my coupons in small vertical photo albums that hold three photos on each side (see my post “Organizing coupons” for details). This worked great because I could just slide my coupons in the slots and I could see six sections at once. I didn’t need to fold many (except the Target coupons which are a bit bigger) and I could see the whole coupon. I could open them in the basket of the shopping cart and they were lightweight. I was using more coupons and could easily compare deals while in the store, versus how hard it was to find what I needed when I used an expandable small coupon holder. My husband and I often got compliments at stores on what a great idea they were.

However, we needed three of these such albums to hold all of our coupons: one for groceries, one for toiletries/supplies/household items, and one for store coupons and amusement. It was a pain switching between albums while at Target and sometimes they wouldn’t stay open in the cart basket. The pockets were also ripping a bit and it was sometimes hard to get a small coupon out, since you could only reach inside the pockets sideways.

So I decided to make a leap to try the cloth zipper binder method that so many couponers use. I decided against the decorative coupon holder/bags, because I am sure my husband would not want to carry something that looks like a lady’s purse! I bought a 3″ 3-ring Case-it zipper binder from OfficeMax, not as cheap as they later went on sale for at Target; but my husband couldn’t find any at our local Target.

I then researched page protectors/coupon holders and decided that I liked the three slot holders best because it would be similar to what I was used to. I found a great deal from Hobbies Depot for a pack of 100 for less than $20 (and no shipping charge).

They arrived the other day and much to my dismay and surprise, they were one-sided! I had no idea they were like that. My friend and fellow couponer, Jessi, assured me that I had not bought the wrong thing; they all were one-sided.

Thus, my dilemma – how to maximize my storage capabilities and still have a system similar to what I was used to (6 sections to see at once).

In comes my patient, helpful, and intelligent husband, who obliged by listening to my problem. Then he came up with a brilliant solution! Adhere the page protectors back-to-back so that we had slots on both sides! I found some double-sided removable Scotch tape in my office supply stash, and applied 5 small strips to the back of one protector and attached it to the back of another protector, so that each had the pockets facing out and the tops the right way.

Perfect!

The only downside is that our “coupon” albums had a white backing behind the pockets so that you didn’t see through to the other side. We thought about maybe putting a piece of paper between the two page protectors, but this would have made a lot of extra work (with needing to tape twice for each set of pages) and more weight for the whole binder. We will just have to get used to it!I did steal a few ideas from Laurie at Passionate Penny Pincher, thanks to her video tutorial on her coupon organizing. I used a few plastic sleeves that have diagonal or horizontal slits in them. You can get them with or without divider tabs. These I used to hold coupons that I don’t need to necessarily see laid out at a store like automotive, amusement, home repair, medical, etc.

I am so excited to use my new binder! I love that it has a pocket for the coupons I have pulled for the checkout and dividers to hold sale fliers, etc. I even plan to put a copy of my price list in the front. I normally keep it in my purse, so that even if I am shopping without coupons, I have it handy. With the price list in the binder, my husband can use it, too, and it will be easier to flip pages.

* For more information on couponing, see my posts “Coupon websites – updated!” and “Don’t throw out your expired coupons!” My friend and fellow blogger, Mara, at Kosher on a Budget, has lots of great information on couponing in her series Couponing Basics.

Let me know what your coupon organizing style is and how you have made yours work!

 

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Is your CO detector really accurate?

A few years ago on the last day of a Yom Tov (Jewish holy day) our carbon monoxide detector went off. We opened all the windows until the detector stopped beeping. We then had to wait until after Yom Tov to call the fire department. The firefighters who came out could not figure out what had set it off except, that we had our blech (hot plate on the stove) and oven on at the same time. He said the fumes get trapped underneath, which may have then converted to carbon monoxide. However, the levels that would have resulted should not have been enough to set off our detector, he said.

Then he looked at our carbon monoxide detector. We had the kind that you attach to your wall and change the batteries every so often. It was even a fire alarm, too. His reaction was, “That is the problem there!” He explained that carbon monoxide detectors operated by batteries do not accurately detect carbon monoxide levels. The carbon monoxide can build up inside the alarm and then give you a false reading – actually showing a large amount that is inside, rather than what your home currently has.

He recommended that we get the kind that plugs into an outlet. You still should place it on a main level of your home near the bedrooms, but now it needs an outlet. He explained that the best kind were the ones that you can get from your gas company. I know he had nothing to benefit from directing us there since he was a local employee, not one for Laclede Gas!

You may be able to get yours cheaper somewhere else. At the time, I did not shop around. I got it for close to $60, which is the current price. Laclede Gas will even charge it to your regular monthly bill in installments!

We have been very happy with this device and have had no false alarms since. The unit saves us on batteries and time checking that it is working. Not really a money-savings, but it does give us piece of mind that our family is safe and that we have a reliable product.

* Click here for more information and how to purchase this Carbon Monoxide Alarm and to read FAQs on Carbon Monoxide.

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Do have a favorite product that has saved you time or money or has proved itself worth the money? Please share in the Comments section!

 

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