Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wrapping Up July

Writing my entries for the month of July helped me to take an inventory of all the out of the box ways we can make our dollars stretch. I hope you got something out of it and more importantly, I hope you took some action and embraced a small change or two.

For August, we're going to change directions a little and I'm going to share with you my experience and education of bringing an idea to fruition, and a product to market. Please keep in mind, I'm not the mega success story yet, but rest assured, I will be.

I'll share with you my idea (actually, Dave and I have done this together, but for simplicity in writing, I'm writing this in the first person.), how I came up with it, why I finally chose to do something about it, and what I did. As I go through the steps, I'll also share all the great advice and mentoring I've received (some free, some not), and hopefully I can not only inspire you to get moving on your great idea, but share my resources as they're appropriate.

Of all my blog topics, I think this one will not only be interesting, worthy of sharing with your family and friends, but fun! Let's wind down the summer with something exciting and possibly your million dollar inspiration!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Use What You Already Have

This is one of those things I struggle to do. Use the stuff you have. I have a stash of body wash, shampoo, lotions, face creams, you name it. I probably could go months without having to buy health and beauty products.

Challenge yourself to take a quick inventory of the stuff you have in your bathroom cabinet, and then don't buy anything until you're completely out. It's not as easy as it sounds. You see the Sunday paper with the ads tempting you with buy one get one free, or 30% off the expensive drug store eye cream, it's easy to think you can't pass up the deal.

In reality, if you use the stuff you have until it's all gone, you will very likely save hundreds of dollars a year, and have less clutters around your house. This holds true for pantry items, cleaning supplies, and clothes! Yes, clothes, too.

Give it a try and you might find you like not having extra stuff everywhere. I'm fairly certain you'll like the extra cash in your wallet!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Recycle and Save!

There are many things you can recycle to others (like clothes your tired of), or use again yourself.

One suggestion came from our good friend Roberta, "Poor Man's Tupperware" as she calls it. It's the bowls that cottage cheese, sour cream, small yogurts, and sometimes sliced deli meats come in.

The one that deli meat comes in is Gladware, which I have now classified as "Middle Class Tupperware." The only thing I can see people having trouble with is knowing what's actually inside the bowl, that at a glance looks like cottage cheese. Don't let that stop you though, I can't tell what's in the actual (and expensive I might add) Tupperware I use!

I say, use the poor man's stuff for lunches, picnics, and when you need a really small container, that way, if you lose it or give it away, it's no big deal when you don't get it back! Recycle and Save!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is Going On Around Here?

Okay, I know this month is about ways to make your dollars stretch, and having fun this summer while doing it, but something weird is going on this week!

I'm not going to bore you with the gory details, but the last few days, if it could go wrong, it did. I had to think it had something (or everything) to do with me and my energy, but in speaking with numerous people, they were expereincing some of the same stuff. E-mails not being sent or received, a credit card payment not arriving on time (one by mail, one electronically), our usually house broken dog pooping in the house, a large lemonade being spilled all over the dresser, leaked into the drawers, all over my son, and the floor right after we had all gotten snug in bed, and learning that someone didn't tell the other someone the deadline changed and now we're not ready. It's all small stuff (relative to the big picture), but like a dripping water, pretty soon you have a big, heavy bucket of water weighing you down.

Hopefully with this rant will come the acknowledgment to the universe, "Thank you for these lessons, and the opportunity to test my patience and resources." I got it, now stop! Laughing! If this strange phenominon is only going on in Auburn, CA, I'm happy for you. If you, too, are expereincing this nonsense, I hope it stops now!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Let's Keep Making Summer Fun

With little or no money! Here's one for those of you with littler kids (ages 3 1/2 - 6). We may be trying to hard to find things for our kids to do. Mason is almost 5 and last week he came in the house informing me he needed to see our family doctor. When I asked him what for, he told me that he needed to have his imagination checked. He said that there are monsters in the backyard and in his bedroom.

"Real monsters?" I asked.
"Yes, and you should be scared too, because they're in your bedroom, too!"
Now here I am wondering if my son sees dead people, so I ask him again, "What kind of monsters?"
"Mom, they are monsters in my imagination, they are everywhere." he laughed. "I think I should have Dr. Maple look at my head and make sure that I'm okay before I start kindergarten." he said somewhat seriously while nodding his head.
I pulled him to me on the couch and said, "Mason, your imagination is perfect. It's bold, and wild, and colorful, and wonderful just the way it is. You have an imagination just like your mommy has. Sometimes it's so good, it can be a little scary. But here's the important thing to remember; you are in charge of your imagination. You get to pick all the things you see and think, and if you don't like something, you just imagine it gone."
He paused just a minute looking thoughtful and said, "Cool mom, can we bake a cake?"

So, instead of wondering what to do with your kids this summer, imagine your backyard is the ocean and they are pirates. Go with them on a walk in your neighborhood and have them tell you what kind of hike you are on; an African safari, a bear hunt through the woods, or cross country skiing in the snow. Let them tell you and enjoy the ride, real life will be here way too soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Coming in August

August is all about the many "World's Biggest Balls of String." Not specifically, but as a general explanation of the one of a kind things that you can see as you travel the United States and the world.

It could be the world's biggest ball of string, the world's biggest frying pan, Flintstone Town, or any number of other things that you find yourself face-to-face with while on vacation and know you absolutely have to stop in to see.

What is that one of kind roadside attraction you've visited in your life? Or maybe you want to visit. Let's see how many of these wonderful gems we can come up with in a month. I will post them all, no matter how many. So, do tell and send pictures if you have them!

Friday, July 18, 2008

One Dollar Movies and Matinees

Another way to do summer on the cheap is with the $1.00 movie theatres and matinees.

We have a theatre not too far away that is $3.00 for any, and we do the early shows whenever we can. Where we are, matinees are $6.50 and of course, we bring our own snacks. When we can't do a cheap movie (no appropriate movies for Mason), we use our Entertainment book and go to a theatre that has a BOGO free coupon. One way or another, we're getting a deal on a movie!

Check out your area and see where you can do something special and save a little money. You'll be surprised!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two Mediums or Family Size?

"Sooo, Missy SUPER VALUE SHOPPER! Which gives you more pizza? 2 mediums, or 1 family size? This is really just rhetorical...and the TP thing is funny. The TP I used to use was washable and reusable, but it felt like buffalo hide, and stickers got caught in it easily..." LOL Rob Wagner

Okay Mr. Rob, washable tp that's not soft? Not worth it! Laughing!

As for the pizza question, it depends on where you eat pizza. Round Tables medium is a 12 inch pizza, 8 slices, and their extra large (or family) is 15 inches and 16 slices.

Mountain Mikes on the other hand, has a medium that is also a 12 inch pizza, but they have a Mountain size that is a 20 inch pie... they don't specify how many slices each pie provides.

Papa John's on the other hand, shows that it's clearly a higher yield to purchase two mediums, but there's a catch, their medium (12 in) and large (14 in) pizzas are slightly different in size, but yield the same number of slices, 8. Their extra large pizza is slightly bigger and only provides 10 slices. So there may be a science to pizza, I don't think this question has a definitive answer as far as slices go, but in the mathmatical sense, I'm sure it does.

For the Partak clan, we will almost always do two mediums 'cause we all like different stuff! If you want to save a few dollars, go to the web site of the pizza place you plan to eat because most of them have an on line coupon you can print and use!

How's that? Smiling!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Action Scrubber by Scrubbing Bubbles

This is a great product for those of you that clean the tubs and toilets in your home! Here at the Partak homestead, it's me who does the dirty work, and dirty it is!

I usually go the way of an old wash cloth and some powder cleaner. Talk about how old habits die hard! The powder cleaners are hard on our bodies, hard on our appliances, hard on our skin, hard on our plumbing, and they leave a gritty residue that is the last thing you want to feel when trying to relax in a hot bath. Did you notice the one word that kept coming up in that list? Hard!

The new Action Scrubber by Scrubbing Bubbles is not hard. It has a soft, grippable handle that makes cleaning the tub a breeze. For those tight spots, you just remove the pad from the soft handle, get in the grooves, and throw away the pad, dirt, and grime. Easy-peasy!

Check it out for yourself by going to to get a $2.75 off coupon! Worth every penny just for the ease of use!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Uh-em...Let's Talk Toilet Paper

Do you know what you spend each month on toilet paper? This might seem like a silly question, but if you have kids, you know how they go through the stuff. It's like flushing dollars down the toilet.

I know for a fact that you can save anywhere from $3.00 - $10.00 per month on TP if you use the good stuff, and use it responsibly. That's funny, I just advised you to use toilet paper responsibly!

So here's what I know, if you use the 2 ply, extra soft, double rolls, and you use only two to three squares at a time (I know there are jobs that require a few more squares), you can make a roll of TP last twice as long, thus buying half as much! How many times in your life can you buy the best, softest, highest quality product and save money?

Just get present and think about how much you use each time, and you'll see that the big pack of the cheap stuff really isn't all that cheap at all!

For more fun facts about toilet paper, go to

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday's Tip

Share your newspaper and magazine subscriptions with your neighbors and friends, or at the very least, recycle them to charity.

We get a local paper and I thought I might ask my neighbor Amy is she wants to pay for half the basic monthly rate and I'll drop it to her each day. We get it, read it in (usually) under 15 minutes, and in the recycling bin it goes.

I also buy magazines at my local thrift store and then donate them back when I'm done reading them. It's not as cost effective as the library, but at .49 a magazine, I'm doing a whole lot better than new stand prices! I'm also being green by giving them back to the thrift store to sell again.

So there you go, your green, money saving tip for this weekend! Post one that you're using, share the wealth!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mason's Favorite Jeans

This is one of those things I never imagined I would actually do, but I did. The reason I thought I would never do it is because my mom did it, and I just couldn't imagine I would "need" to.

Turns out I didn't really "need" to in the same way my mom did, but I needed to because they are Mason's all time favorite pair of jeans. Like all 4-8 year old boys, give or take a year or two, Mason wore holes in both of the knees of his favorite jeans. I started to do what I've done with the other pants that came to this fate, when I saw the puzzled and then crushed look on Mason's face.

It came to me like the voice of God, when in fact it was my mom's voice in the back of my head that simply said, "patch those knees." I bought two iron on patches, Pirates of the Caribbean, ironed them on (it took a few times with a damp cloth to get all the edges to stick), and he has easily worn them two dozen more times, and their still going!

A little money saving tip, that happens to be green, and it made Mason SO happy! Thanks mom, and the people who made the iron on stuff, cause I don't sew!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bring Your Favorites Back to Life!

Mason and his friends watching Toy Story 2 for the umteenth time!

So, how did you do taking your lunch? I made Mason cheese ravioli for dinner on Monday night and packed two little side dishes for lunches.

Today, I want you to think about your favorite movies, the ones you loved enough to buy on VHS, and maybe even on DVD. Instead of going to rent movies, watch your favorites that you haven't seen in ages.

Mike brought this gem to me saying that he and Neave watched an old VHS movie last night and though he had seen it before, it was as if he were watching it for the first time. There were entire scenes he had forgotten, and he even found he couldn't remember how it ended! A benefit of slight memory loss as we age! Laughing!

This morning on the Today show they had two families on who spent a month seeing how they could cut back on expenses. They cut the usual stuff like Starbucks, little water and snack stops, but they also did stuff like washing the car as a family. This was really fun for them, and they saved $25! They also found themselves hanging around the house with nothing to do. They stated at this point they would have gone out shopping or for a meal. Instead, they took the kids to the park and fed the ducks. In another instance, instead of a family day at the water park, they went to the store and bought a Slip-N-Slide that the kids played on for hours. In the end, it was lots more family time, and way less money spent.

What are your little tricks for cutting back on money but not on the quality of your life? Chime in, we want to hear from you!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Take Your Lunch to Work

Since we're getting back to basics this month and trying to make our dollars stretch, plan to take your lunch to work at least four days each week. According to a recent poll, lunch out costs an average of $8.50 on the low end and $15.00 on the high end. If we meet in the middle, you could be spending $50.00 a week on lunch alone (that's $200.00 a month, $2400.00 a year), and for just one person!

Taking your lunch may have some challenges, but it can be done. The first thing to think about is that you don't have to go out and buy cart full of special food just for lunches. Dave and I think about what kinds of food will work for lunches when we plan our dinners. When making dinner, we make just a little extra and before cleaning up the kitchen, we package the leftover so it's ready to go with us the next day. We are also big fans of green salad for lunch. We have invested in several good Tupperware-type storage dishes so we can pack a salad and a little dressing in a separate little container. The nice thing about salads is you can put a little chicken or tuna, lots of veggies, and you don't need a heat source like you would for some other tasty leftovers.

Get creative, there are so many things you can take for lunch that are healthy, far more tasty, and way less expensive than eating out every day. Give it a try for a week and see what you find. I'll even challenge you one step further and say, see what you can make for lunch tomorrow without buying anything special, work only from what you have in your house today! I'll check back on Wednesday and see how you did.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4, 2008

Mason decorating the back yard with his own sense of style!

Mason and Kathy at the Black Tie Arabians July 4th Celebration.

Dave and Mason watching fireworks!

Fireworks the way we used to do it!

Mason experiencing his first sparkler!

Happy 4th of July from our family to yours!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Welcome to July!

This month we're going to pull together and help each other see some of the best ways to get through tough times. It could be that money is tight, time is short, jobs are less secure, and there's an overall feeling of unrest all around us. Are you feeling the pinch of high gas prices? What about the rising price of groceries? I know our family's feeling all of these things.

For us, the single most important component is family. People come first, and when we recognize that we're in this together, for better or for worse, united all the way, we can't fail! Everyone in the family needs to feel safe to express their fears and frustrations, and that goes for mom and dad, too. The adults being able to let the other family members know they may be worried or frightened is real life. Kids need to know that we all feel many different emotions, and most importantly, they need to see us get through them, cope, and come out with a solution of some kind - together.

"People First" is going to be our foundation for everything else we do this month. We can share budgeting tips, tricks to make our dollars stretch, and anything else you can think of when it's time to tighten your belt and get back to basics. So, what do you know? Tell me how you're saving in one area so there is enough money for say, the higher expense of fuel. I know you all have great ideas, because I believe we as Americans are some of the most resilient people alive!