There are so many great apps and websites that are perfect for saving money this summer. Here are a few that you may enjoy.
Entertainment: There are a lot of great sites and apps for saving in entertainment. I've listed a few, but I'd love to hear your ideas too.
- AAA Member: If so, don't forget that your membership includes discounts on movie tickets, theme parks, travel/hotels, luggage, restaurants, retail stores, and so much more. AAA.com has all the info.
- Plastic Jungle: PlasticJungle.com is a site where you can buy or sell new or partially used gift cards for almost everything from restaurants, retail stores, pet stores, and other entertainment. The site sells gift cards that it has purchased from individuals who didn't use them or barely used them. The only downfalls I saw were that the savings do vary. In my opinion, some weren't that great of a deal. However, if you are planning to buy a gift card any getting a percentage off the card value is always a plus.
- Groupon: I'm sure that you have heard about Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com by now, but you may be forgetting to take advantage on some great savings. Both offer great discounts on everything from clothing and gadgets to travel, entertainment, and restaurants.
- Actors Theater: Actors Theater offers a lot of great discounts from $10 "Try Us" tickets, group discounts and more. Check out actorstheatre.org for more info.
Eat Well: Eating fresh and/or organic foods may cost a bit more, but in the long run if you fuel your body with better food you will save money on medical expenses, etc. Farmers markets are a great way to 1) get fresh food that is in season and 2) sustain the local farming community.
- Farmers Market Directory: Check out kyagr.com for a list of local farmer's markets. Every year they put out an updated list. Many of the farmer's markets will continue into the Fall Season.
- KY Proud: KyProud.com will give you a list of local restaurants and stores that sell food from local farms.
- Local Harvest: LocalHarvest.org is a site which will direct your to local farmer's markets in any area of the United States that sale fresh local produce, baked goods, cheese, and meats at competitive prices.
- Coupons from Red Plum: Snag some great coupons for groceries, restaurants, and more at RedPlum.com and don’t forget to check manufacturer’s sites. You may have to sign up to get coupons and offers, but it can save you a bundle.
- Coupon Cabin: Another website that you could use for some great coupons is couponcabin.com
Sell Stuff: If you plan to have a yard sale or sale any used stuff online you may have some trouble pricing your items. There's a free site called Pricenomics.com which will give you a suggested asking price and also and acceptable price range based upon the items current value.
Fuel Savings: Gas prices are outrageous so don't forget about GasBuddy.com which will show you where the best gas prices are. Also, don't forget that using "Avoid Tolls" on your GPS or Maps program will save you money on your next road trip.
Airline Baggage Fees: Your airline ticket might be cheap but if you’re paying for each bag, flying a family can double your ticket prices. Don’t be surprised by new baggage fees. Know before you book your ticket who charges what for checked bags or even carry-ons. AirfareWatchDog.com has a chart for the top 10 airlines. Pack lightly and make this expense a part of your budget. If you’re sensible with credit cards (never carry a balance) and fly often, you can save with an airline-branded card, such as the Delta SkyMiles American Express, which always allows for first bag checked, free. Compare credit cards at NerdWallet.com.
Back to School Savings:
A lot of people have already been back to school shopping, but for those who haven't started or aren't finished. I found some tips on Woman's Day that may help save you some money.
- Use what you have: According to Christine Koh, founder and editor of Boston Mamas, you probably already have all the school supplies you need right in your house. "It's just a matter of finding them and assessing." This year she gave her daughter a list of everything she needed for school and turned it into a scavenger hunt. "She went through the house and pulled out folders, pencils, pens, etc.—and she had everything on the list!" So take inventory before you begin shopping; it could save you tons. Do this with school clothes too to save even more. If you don't have friends to swap with, the Internet can be another great source for no-cost clothing. "ThredUP is really fantastic," says Christine Koh. "It's a site where you can swap clothing with other parents; just stuff a flat-rate USPS box full of clothing and list it on the site. Then you get credit to pick a box for yourself. It's super-easy, convenient and practically free!"
- Back-to-School Swap: Get fellow moms or if you are the student get together with your peers and have a Back-to-School Swap. After taking inventory of your supplies, have everyone bring extra items that they don't need including uniforms their kids have outgrown, etc and swap. There is even an online option, Emily Roemmich, editor of Busy Mom, likes SwapMamas.com, a swapping website that includes a section for school and office supplies. Connect with other moms to trade items you no longer need for supplies you can use, so you won't have to spend any money.
- Know when to Splurge: Backpacks are an item where it doesn't pay to get the cheapest product on the market. Make sure that it has excellent shoulder support, etc. Plus, a higher quality backpack will last for more than one year.
- Shop Out of Season: Instead of paying premium prices for the latest styles, supplies, backpacks and more stock up during clearance and sales events. Try purchasing winter items in the summer and vice versa. "You'd be amazed at how many things you can get for rock-bottom prices that way. If your child is still growing, you can 'guesstimate' what his or her size would be or buy a size or two larger so there’s something to grow into."
- Change your Mindset: Try to remember that you don't need to buy anything. You can save money by not buying into the need for new things every school year. Since it's usually still summer weather when school starts again, you may not need to start the first day of school in a brand-new outfit. This will give you time to scout for sales, and once the rush dies down you will find some great bargains. Try reusing backpacks, lunchboxes, etc for several years.
- Save on Lunches: Try to utilize as many reusable items as you can to save at lunchtime such as cloth napkins, real flatware, reusable containers and drink bottles. Stefania Pomponi Butler of City Mama loves using LunchSkins, which are BPA- and phthalate-free reusable snack and sandwich bags that can go in the dishwasher. "It's a small investment, but they last forever." Also, don't buy snack-size. Instead try buying full-size bags and then make your own snack sizes with reusable containers. You will save a lot of money. For creative out-of-the-packaging lunch ideas, check out the photos of the daily lunches Catherine McCord of Weelicious packs for her son.
For those of you who were listening today, you heard me mention that zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables. I did plant some in my small garden this year, but I've not harvested any yet. The plants don't even have any blooms just yet. Thankfully, a friend gave me three huge zucchinis, which means I've been experimenting with new recipes all week. First for those of you who aren't familiar with zucchini, here's some tips. I'm still working on posting the recipes.
Zucchini and Summer Squash Basics
Zucchini is simply an elongated, cylindrical, usually green variety of summer squash. Zucchini and other summer squash are in season during the summer, peaking at the end.
Look for zucchini and summer squash that are firm and heavy for their size; the skin should be brightly colored and blemish-free. Because they are harvested earlier, smaller squash are more tender than larger ones and have thinner skins; choose squash that are less than eight inches long. The larger the zucchini the larger the seeds; seeds tend to be harder to eat when the zucchini is large. Personally, I use medium size zucchinis for grilling, baking dishes where I will be using thinly sliced rounds. I use the large zucchinis for recipes that I will be dicing or grating and avoid the large seeds.
Do not wash until ready to use. efrigerate in a plastic bag for up to four days.
This afternoon I pulled out my mom's Zucchini Bread Recipe. The kitchen still smells so good. Even better that that, the bread turned out super delicious!
Momma's Zucchini Bread
Zucchini Lasagna (w/ Noodles)
Penne with Zucchini Pistou
Good Morning Muffins