Posts Tagged ‘saving money’

Dollar Movies

Thursday, July 19th, 2012


The summer is a great time to go to the dollar movies, and yes, they still exist in many cities. The tickets usually cost $3.50 instead of $1, but that’s still good when you have a family of six. The movies have been out of the real theaters by the time you see them at a dollar theater, which is about two months behind.

In Spokane, the dollar movies are at the Garland Theater, which is huge and quite beautiful for an old movie theater. Yes, the floors are sticky, but who is going to complain? Oh, and every summer they show a free movie certain mornings, to help people get out of the heat. (Or to get them hooked on going to that theater so that they can stay in business throughout the year.)


We’ve watched several movies at this theater over the years, including “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “Tangled.” It made us want to build boats out of sandwiches and float lanterns up into the sky. My kids love seeing movies on the big screen.

If you have a zero budget, another way to watch fun movies during the summer with your family is to get some entertaining DVD’s from your library. Not all the videos are educational. Some of them are just for fun, and many are recent releases. Check them out, go home, pop yourself some popcorn, and declare a movie night!

Related article: The Aftermath of a Movie

Used Curriculum Sale

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

used-curriculum-saleThis week I attended a used curriculum sale. It’s basically a garage sale for homeschoolers. An entire church gymnasium is full of tables covered with homeschool curriculum that homeschool moms are selling. I used to rely on used curriculum sales heavily back when I had no money at all. You really can homeschool on a shoestring even if you are poor if you rely on God and ask Him whenever you need curriculum. God has always supplied my needs and even my wants through the years.

I haven’t been to a used curriculum sale in quite a while (because I buy things new to support homeschool companies), but since my unit study this fall is “The Renaissance,” I wanted to get a whole pile of stuff on the Renaissance, especially hands-on activities. Well, I found lots of Renaissance materials, which I will be showing you on my YouTube channel in September. One of those items was a video curriculum for the Reformation, which happens during the Renaissance. We’ve already seen the first one, and it’s good. My husband is glad that I’m teaching our kids about the Reformation, because it’s part of our church history just like the book of Acts is church history.

The best item I found was an interlinear Greek-English New Testament. My dad taught me biblical Greek three years ago (I show you what course it was in my Ancient Greece Unit Study YouTube video), and I always wanted a Greek New Testament with the English beside it. Those Bibles normally cost at least $40, and I bought mine for $2, and it was in new condition. I tried not to jump up and down when I saw it for fear that the seller would raise the price.

I bought a calligraphy set for $1, which my kids used today, after watching the video about John Wycliffe translating the Bible from Latin to English. This was before the printing press, so all the copies of Scripture had to be written by hand.

I picked up a copy of a book Roller Coaster Science for $1, since my sons like to know the physics behind the roller coaster rides. We are planning to go to Silverwood Theme Park this summer, since the kids earned free passes from “Reading is the Ticket.”

I thought it was sweet that one of my sons insisted that we buy Foods from the Bible, with recipes from Bible times, for 50 cents. We also found a modern Junior Cook Book from Better Homes and Gardens, a kid’s cook book. (I collect kid’s cook books. My kids enjoy cooking, and kid cook books are always splashy with color.)

I bought a new cursive handwriting book for my third son, who wanted it. It cost half of what it cost new. I got a “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” computer game to replace the one we used to have, which mysteriously disappeared. I found a crystal radio kit for my husband for $1. He collects old electronics kits for some reason, and he shows our boys how exciting the world of electronics can be.

I found a spy gadget kit for $1 (a backpack alarm), a pair of glasses that makes you think you’re a fly for 50 cents, a watercolor how-to book, The Hiding Place (book), and The Federalist Papers (book). My husband was pleased that I bought The Federalist Papers. He’s strongly into the Constitution, which I’m sure all homeschoolers are, since we value our freedom and independence.

I got several other things, but the one book I put beside my bed was Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Yes, I think I’ll read that one first…

Do Warehouse Clubs Save You Money?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

warehouse-clubsDo warehouse clubs save you money? The answer is: sometimes yes, sometimes no. Thankfully one of the perks of my husband’s job is that he gets a free membership to Costco, our local warehouse club. It would normally cost $40 or $50 a year, so unless you save more money than that, you are probably better off without a membership. Often items cost more at a warehouse club than at your local supermarket, and who wants to store a huge amount of something that just ends up rotting? Things that need to be refrigerated are especially horrible to store, because large containers jam all your space in your refrigerator door, making you wish you hadn’t bought such large containers.

I remember, though, back when many of my children were in diapers. There was a specific diaper that didn’t ever leak for my boys, so I wanted that name brand. A large box of those diapers were $10 less at Costco than at any other store at the time. This may no longer be the case, but other name brand items like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese used to be only 50 cents at Costco but a whole dollar at the grocery stores. So you basically need to know your prices if you actually expect to save money.

warehouse-clubs-2Gasoline is substantially lower if you are a member of Costco, and this alone could save you enough money to make the membership worthwhile. But do you actually buy your gasoline at Costco, or do you buy it at a gas station whenever you are running out? In other words, you might be saving money in your imagination because you only bought gas at Costco 4 or 5 times last year instead of every time. Don’t multiply your savings in your head unless you are actually buying it at Costco.

Some people say not to go on the weekends because there are samples, and you end up buying more. Other people are freeloaders that say you should take your whole family and gorge yourself on samples for lunch, thereby avoiding having to spend any money or effort making lunch for your family.

warehouse-clubs-3Meats are nicer at Costco, I have to admit. I think the prices are about the same as grocery stores (grocery stores are definitely cheaper during sales, and you can freeze the meat), but the meat has less fat in it and tastes better when cooked, when it comes from Costco. If you have a large family or are having people over for a barbeque, buying nice meat in bulk might be just fine. I remember, though, back to when my husband and I had only babies and toddlers. We had to buy freezer bags and freeze the meat in one-meal portions. Then the meat might get freezer burn, and you might as well have just bought it on sale at a grocery store for a cheaper price.

Kirkland Signature is the generic brand for Costco, and it’s actually really high quality, unlike grocery store generic brands, which taste like cardboard. So you could save money by buying the warehouse brand of salad dressing, grape juice, or whatever, and it will usually taste great.

warehouse-clubs-4Costco coupons are wonderful. They offer $3 off the toilet paper we love, and other great discounts on real food that you probably already are buying. They also sell tickets to amusement parks, hotels, and movies at a considerable discount, if you have the budget to have fun with your family in this way.

I got my eyes checked at Costco by an optometrist, and I bought my glasses there. It’s supposedly cheaper than other places, although the reason I did it was because I was already there. (Gasoline costs a lot, and if you are already at one location, you save money by not having to drive to another location.)

So do warehouse clubs help you save money? Maybe. If you have trouble feeding your family, or if you have any credit card debt, I would definitely cancel my membership. You can buy food at grocery stores called “loss leaders,” stocking up on the food that is on sale, and spend way less on groceries. But if you are a middle class family with no debt, and you go to Costco twice a month and buy your gas there, then it’s probably worth it.

Learn Value of Money at Chuck-E-Cheese?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

chuck-e-cheeseWhen my children were young and I had no money whatsoever, I would feed the kids a full lunch at home. Then I would go to Chuck-E-Cheese. When the children walked through the door, each child was given one free coin. (I’m not sure if they do this any more.) I had my children come to a table, where we pooled all our coins. Then I would give one coin to the children. I said, “Choose a ride that you all want to go on, and get on. Then put the coin in.” I sat with my baby while the other three children walked around and weighed the pros and cons of each ride. They discussed with each other which ride they wanted to go on, and then they enjoyed the ride.

When the first ride was over, they would come back for the second coin, and on it went. Believe it or not, my children went on more than four rides. It was more like ten rides. How, you ask? I huddled the children together and showed them how other children would put coins into the rides, then walk away, not valuing the coin because they had so many. I told them to keep an eye out for empty rides that were still going. “Hop on and enjoy it!” I said. So my children rode on those free rides in between the four rides which we bought with our four free coins. When we were out of coins, the children played on the play structures. They had a fabulous time. It cost us absolutely nothing.

Other times, my husband found coupons for $20 worth of coins for $10. So we would get the coins, divide them in half, and use half the coins one evening. A couple of weeks later, we would come back as a family, and we would use the other half of the coins.

Now that our family is slightly better off, we go ahead and get the overpriced pizza and hot wings, because we want to reward Chuck-E-Cheese for all the times we played without buying anything. But even the $10 we spent for two nights was still a $10 profit to them. (Whenever I wasn’t buying anything, I would go during the off-hours so that other people would not see an empty Chuck-E-Cheese, because that looks bad for business.) We now use Chuck-E-Cheese as a reward whenever our kid swims across the swimming pool for the first time, or when they pull out a loose tooth that hurts.

Most children are too bratty to go without coins. They would just throw fits. But my young children expected nothing, so they were grateful for whatever coins they were given, and they were always careful with their coins. Later when they were older and had lots of coins, they still consulted their siblings and would ride rides together to maximize their money.