Save on Senior Pictures

The invitations for graduation parties are piling up! As I was recording them on our family calendar I remembered those who would be graduating next year. Now is the time to make your appointments for senior pictures.

When my youngest graduated from high school, we were torn as to where to get his senior pictures taken.

We had three options:

Photographer A: took the senior pictures of my first two children.

Photographer B: is a close friend of the extended family. So close, that her family has attended our family reunion for decades.

Photographer C: is related to my daughter-in-law. She took a family picture of us.

They all are excellent photographers and we were worried about hurting feelings. Then I remembered the deal I made with Photographer A.

My oldest son was to graduate in 2005. I saw a picture of a 2004 graduate that captured her personality. The picture was taken by Photographer A.

When I called to make an appointment, I told her I had a senior and a junior and asked her if she could make me a deal if I had my daughter’s pictures taken there the next year.

She offered me two free family sittings. I used the first free sitting for my extended family in 2004. I never used the second one.

I called Photographer A and reminded her I still had a second free sitting. I asked her if we could use it for my youngest sons’ senior pictures.

She said, “Yes!”

Sitting fees are based on the number of outfits worn for pictures. In this case it was $25.00 per outfit. Derek wore a uniform and three other outfits for his pictures. That saved me $100.00 in sitting fees.

Derek in his baseball uniform.

Top Ten Tips

1. Book your appointment in June. Most photographers will have a reduced rate or throw in free pictures for early bookings. My sitting fee for my first son was 75% off because I booked in June. Every photographer has their own incentives.

2. If you have more than one child, ask for a deal and have all of them photographed by the same one. The pictures will have a similar feel because each photographer has their own style.

3. Limit the number of outfits your child wears. This is especially hard with girls!

4. Ask if the photographer has a “Participation Bonus”.  You get a free gift or picture when your child is photographed wearing a uniform: band, sports, even FFA.

5. Have your child be a model for the photographer for a free or reduced sitting fee.

6. Order the minimum number of pictures needed. Make a list of all the relatives you are buying for and write the size of the print you want for them next to it. Buy a large print for yourself and an 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 for your child. Don’t order hundreds of wallets. Derek graduated with 129 other students. I ordered 100 wallets for Luke and had a stack left over. I ordered 88 wallets for Laura and used them all. So, I ordered only 88 for Derek and used them all.

7. You may get more opportunities for free pictures later in the year by writing a review, etc.

8. In January they go on sale. You will be contacted to see if you need more photos, sometimes at reduced prices. You can also get a copy of portfolio or picture DVD at a reduced price.

9. Some photographers throw in a free bonus picture if you pay in full when you place your order.

10. You can also get free photos and other freebies based on the amount of money you spend, i.e. Spend $200.00 – get one freebie, Spend $300.00 – get two freebies.

If your photographer is a family member….

…don’t expect a free sitting. This is how they make their living. Be willing to pay full price and be grateful if they offer you a discount.

…don’t expect them to clear their schedule to accommodate you.

…don’t cancel at the last-minute, unless it is an emergency, and pay them the sitting fee anyway.

Being frugal is not about being cheap;

it is about making the most of your money!

Saving at Kids Ball Games

Baseball and Softball are in full swing! You can spend a lot of money on food, drinks, clothes and equipment. Here are some tips and tricks I have learned over the last fourteen years of having kids playing ball.

Food –

  1. Bring it from home. Pack several snack bags with non-perishable snacks. Raw veggies, fruit, pretzels, crackers and nuts make good healthy snacks. Kids like cookies and hard candies. If you pack perishable items use a cooler and have plenty of ice. Keep the cooler closed and in the shade.
  2. Sunflower Seeds. I buy a large package and put one-half a cup into snack size baggies. I think he could do with one-fourth a cup, but my husband wanted me to use one-half a cup. (He probably gets into them too!)
  3. Bubblegum. Another “must have item”. Buy the large bag at a discount store and just take what you need in snack size bags for the game.
  4. Just the Entrée. Pack your own drinks and chips and purchase just a hot dog or hamburger. This is a good alternative when you are at a tournament all day long.
  5. Plan to Eat Out. Or eat a picnic lunch and plan to stop at a local restaurant after the tournament. It will give you a good meal and a place to cool off.

Drinks –

  1. Water. I fill bottles with water run through a Brita or “Pur” pitcher. I freeze a couple of bottles when my son is scheduled to play at a tournament.
  2. Gatorade. You can buy canisters of powdered Gatorade and mix it up yourself. It is much cheaper than purchasing bottles at the store and exponentially cheaper than buying it at the concession stand. It also freezes well for a tournament.
  3. Coffee. It is not always hot at games. Sometimes it is freezing! Bring a thermos of coffee, or hot chocolate for the kids, and cups.

Special Note – Umpires are sometimes given a bottle or two of water or Gatorade. Some ball parks will even give them food. If you know the rules of the game and are willing to spend the day or part of the day at the ball field you will be kept busy. It is best if you umpire games your child is not playing in, at least behind the plate. You will need to start with the younger kids and work your way up.

Concessions Stands – Sales from the concessions stand helps keep the cost down for the individual teams. Many stands will have a bucket or pass a bucket for donations. I prefer to bring my own food and make a donation when I see the bucket.

Clothes –

  1. Pants – My son wears 32″  x 34″ pants. When his uniform was given to him the pants were too short. I let the hem down and sewed black elastic strips to the bottom of each leg. The elastic can go over his socks or over his shoes. It keeps the pants down to a respectable length. If the pants are too long you can roll the legs up inside them a couple of times. The elastic will hold them in place. If the waist is too big you can either tighten the belt or sew two darts in the back to make the waist smaller. If the waist is too small, ask for another pair. The legs would be too tight and would restrict movement.
  2. Socks – At the end of the season, baseball socks will go on clearance. I used to buy one of each color in his size for the next year. If your child is selected to play on the all-star team, you never know what color they will choose.
  3. Shoes – Do not buy used shoes. They are broken in to conform to the first wearers feet. I start looking for baseball shoes between Christmas and Easter. The shoe stores are trying to get rid of last years models before this years models arrive. We have used  final-score.com (a division of eastbay.com) and baseballsavings.com.
  4. Unisex clothing – Baseball pants are the same as softball pants. Baseball socks are the same as softball socks. Under-armor for the cold games are the same. (They do wear different types of sliding shorts.) Save the unisex clothing for your other children.

Equipment –

  1. “Play It Again Sports,” playitagainsports.com, is my favorite because not only can you buy equipment, you can sell the equipment your child has outgrown.
  2. Garage Sales and “Resale” shops are another place to find used ball equipment.
  3. Gifts – Ball equipment makes great birthday or Christmas presents.
  4. Budget – When your child is old enough to earn their own money you can give them an amount to buy, say a glove, and if they want a more expensive model have them pay the difference. They seem to take better care of their equipment when some of their hard-earned cash went into the purchase.
  5. Storage –  Clean the dirt and sweat off of bats, balls, catchers equipment and allow them to air dry. Wash gloves with saddle soap, wipe off excess, put a baseball or softball inside it and place a rubber band around it.

Park Proactively – You don’t want to park too close to the field. Many a foul ball has cracked a windshield.

Gas for the “Away” Games –

  1. Gaspricewatch.com. You can zoom in on the map to any city and it will show you the gas prices at the stations there. You can compare them with the stations at your destination and the towns in between. You may save if you wait to fill up at your destination.
  2. Take the team – give kids a ride and ask their parents to chip in a buck or two for gas. Make sure at least one other parent rides with you for crowd control. It will make the trip more pleasant and you will be able to concentrate on your driving.
  3. Leave early – you don’t want to make up time on the road by speeding.
  4. Combine errands – If you have an older child that has to ride the bus to and from the game you can use this tip. We do not have an Aldis grocery store in our town. When our son is playing in a town with an Aldis we go an hour early and stock up on non-perishable items. The money we save can cover the gas. (I don’t recommend this if you have a van full of ten-year olds!)

Umpires – It’s a part-time job!

  1. Umpires for the Babe Ruth Leagues are paid – You need to go to baberuthleagues.org for details.
  2. Money and Time –  You will need to take a class, take a test, pay yearly dues and purchase special clothes and equipment.
  3. Physical condition – This is for the serious athletic dad or mom. You will need to be able to squat for hours at a time and take cold, high heat and humidity.
  4. Strong Marriage – Your spouse will be alone for most of May and June.
  5. Wisdom of Solomon – Every play is viewed through the lens of how it affects their team. You will have to know the book of rules to back your call.
  6. Be a Diplomat – You will be tempted and tried to the nth degree of your patience by parents, fans and sometimes coaches or players. You have to be able to keep your cool while retaining your authority.
  7. Need a Bookkeeper – The money paid for umpiring must be reported on your income tax. You can deduct dues, mileage, equipment and clothes you buy for yourself. You must keep good records and have receipts to support all of your deductions.
  8. High Pain Tolerance – You will get hit by the ball. You will get bruised and run into from time to time by players. Avoid the bat at all costs!
  9. Allergies? Forget it. – Part of your job is to sweep home plate to keep it visible to the pitcher. It will be hot, humid, and windy most of the time.
  10. 20/20 Vision and Thick Skin. – You will be accused of blindness at least once a game. If you do not have 20/20 vision then you will need to see the eye doctor every year. Having an accurate glasses prescription is a must.
  11. Love Kids – Baseball and softball is for the kids. Parents, coaches, and fans forget that sometimes in their quest to win games. Part of your job is to make sure the kids play safely. Their shoes need to stay tied, shirts tucked in, no jewelry and they need to slide correctly to prevent injury.  You also have to watch for behavior that would injure another player.
  12. Understand the Weather – The umpire calls the game when storms threaten. If someone sees lightning, the game is called to protect the kids. You don’t want kids playing when it is too cold to control the ball. You need to watch for heat stroke and heat exhaustion during hot weather…especially the catcher who is wearing all of that protective gear.
  13. Make it Fun – You will need a sense of humor. Enjoy your time on the field. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be there. Remember these kids will only be here for a couple of years.

My kids are grown; but I couldn’t resist posting a picture of college boy when his team won the championship for the 10-12 Year Olds.

Quentin, Colton, and College Boy when they won the championship in 2003.

Quentin, Colton, and College Boy when they won the championship in 2003.


Shredded Mini Wheat Shreddings

I like to use every drop of food in each bottle, bag, jar, and box.

A few examples are:

Use a Different Utensil: http://wp.me/pKNzn-CN
Cube Your Heels: http://wp.me/pKNzn-4D

Last week I thought of a way to use the crumbs from a box of shredded mini wheat…I put a spoonful on top of my fruit and yogurt. After all, it’s not much different from granola! (Under the yogurt are walnuts and ground flax seeds.)

Shredded mini wheat shreddings over my fruit and yogurt.

Shredded mini wheat shreddings over my fruit and yogurt.

Frugalfish Recipes

I would like to say that I did not publish any posts last week because I was finishing up my Frugalfish Cookbook.

I would like to say that, but it would be a lie.

I was just one sick Fish!

I thought I could fight it off on my own and waited until my fever was 3 degrees above normal and my blood pressure was 30 points above normal. When I got to the doctor, bacteria had spread from my sinuses to my bronchial tubes.

Lovely.

I don’t get sick for a day or two…I usually end up in bed for several days. I finally went on this blog on Friday after a Daily Post from WordPress that inspired me.

Many writers make money off of blogs by writing a book. I debated writing a cookbook because all of my recipes are frugal. Then I read in the Daily Post about putting a recipe button on the top of my blog. I decided to do that instead.

All of the recipes I have shared over the last 5 years can be found under that button next to the “Frugalfish Story” button.

I think frugal recipes at your fingertips will make up for a few missed posts.

CIMG0849

 

 

 

 

Self-Serve Closet

My friend posted on Facebook that she was going to do a closet purge last weekend. She was inspired by a post from dallasmomsblog.com, see http://dallas.citymomsblog.com/why-i-got-rid-of-my-wardrobe-capsule-wardrobe/.

I thought, “I don’t need to do that…I have a self-serve closet!”

A “Self-Serve Closet” is one where everything matches and you choose an outfit based on the temperature outside. When you put clean clothes away, you put them in the back of their section, i.e. short-sleeved shirts, turtlenecks, etc. Each day you wear the shirt at the front of the section based on sleeve length. (I actually have all four season in one closet.)

But I am not posting a picture of that closet.

Why?

Because, I got bored with my clothes and started buying different colors and patterns. It was a huge mistake. There are so many items in my closet that I am overwhelmed!

It’s time for me to do a closet purge again.

Luckily, my daughter recently moved out and I have an empty closet. I think I will use it to help me weed out my clothes. I have several items that do not match everything else. Sure, I can wear them with jeans or black pants, but I cannot layer them.

Sometimes, it’s hard letting go of clothes. I plan on moving them to that closet and sending them to Goodwill at a later date. If they are there at the end of the summer, I know I am ready to let them go.

How do I know I will be successful?

Because I only have four pair of shoes: black athletic, white athletic, red boots, and black pumps. The dress code for the band I play in is: jeans, sneakers and a casual shirt. I rarely wear the pumps or a dress.

I actually have a work outfit: jeans, sneakers, tee-shirt or button down blouse, and a sweater or blazer. That outfit is who I am: a writer who works from home.

Once again I need to remind myself that less is more.

The closet in the guest room.

The closet in the guest room.

Do You Know Which Way the Wind Blows?

It was 3 am and I was up, moving allergy screens from the upper windows on one side of the house to the lower windows and doing just the opposite on the other side of the house. I was moving fans and changing their directions also.

Why?

I want to avoid using the air conditioner as long as possible. It may be pleasant outside, but hot inside.

I check the direction of the wind 2 or 3 times a day. When it is from the south, I open the lower windows on the south side of the house and the upper windows on the north side of the house. The cool air comes in with the breeze and the warm air goes out the other side of the house. I help the air flow with fans.

Unfortunately, the wind direction changes throughout the day and night. If I happen to wake up in the middle of the night, I check the wind direction. I really want to pull in the cool, night air. Those allergy screens do not let a lot of air through!

My home is slightly angled to the south-east. I do not have any east facing windows. When the wind is coming from the east, I stick a fan in the front door and try to pull it in that way.

I also use curtains to block the heat of the sun, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-jg.

Let the wind cool your house for you.

Pulling in the east wind with a fan in my southeast facing door.

Pulling in the east wind with a fan in my southeast facing door.

A Tale of Two Purses

My first job was working in a waterbed store next to a shoe repair shop. It was a family business and the son would help us out after work setting up waterbeds for our customers.

Normally, you do not get fashion advice from a shoe repair shop, but they told me if I bought a leather purse, that had a cloth lining, I could use it for years. They said they could repair any part of it that broke.

I thought of their advice when I bought a purse a few weeks ago…and ignored it. Yes, it was man-made materials, but the color was perfect and it was so cute!

It broke 11 days after I bought it.

I chose it because it was the backpack style and I had one of that style several years ago. After a few shopping trips, coming home with a sore shoulder, I decided I needed to go back to that style.

The plastic zipper on my purse doesn’t always close and I knew it was just a matter of time before it broke completely. Besides, I don’t have the best posture and I believe it will help in that area, too.

After the rivet broke, I dug out my old backpack purse. It still looked fine. No wonder…it’s leather with a cloth lining! It has to be 15 years old! I am not even sure why I stopped using it.

This weekend, we went to University of Iowa Hospital to visit a man injured in a motorcycle accident. I remembered when my dad was in the same unit. I rolled up a tee-shirt, undies, a few toiletries, and that purse doubled as an overnight bag.

We went shopping at the mall and ran into some old friends. As we stood and talked for an hour, my shoulders didn’t complain at all. The weight of my purse was evenly distributed between them. We returned the new purse.

Frugal people do not make a purchase, they make an investment. Cheap items are neither an investment or frugal.

My 15 year old leather purse and my 15 day old man made material purse...with a broken rivet.

My 15-year-old leather purse and my 15 day old man-made material purse…with a broken rivet.

Your Buried Treasure

The words “Buried Treasure” make you think of precious metals underground, but sometimes they are just buried. Treasure can be defined as: wealth, rich materials or valuable things.

Last week I found a treasure that was not made of rich materials or expensive. In fact, it was free…it came with the item it was designed with which to be used.

That is what made it so valuable. I could not purchase another one. What I was using as a substitute did not do the job completely.

Where did I find this treasure?

In my storage room.

I was actually looking for a curtain rod, when I picked up a basket and saw it inside. The funny thing is I had been looking for it for months. I don’t know how I possibly overlooked it!

During my many years of being housebound, I spent fifteen minutes a day doing what flylady.net refers to as decluttering. I went through every room, closet, shelf, and drawer pulling out items to give away and throw away. When I finished the final room, I thought that was it. I no longer needed to declutter.

Unfortunately, life is in a constant change. Our granddaughter was born and I accumulated many items just for her use. Those items and toys were taken to the storage room and stacked.

She has outgrown the bouncy chair, pack and play, high chair, and baby gates. At the ripe old age of four the only item she still needs is a car seat.

When we purchased the car seat, it came with a plastic zip on cover. I folded it up and put it in a basket in the storage room.

When we bought a new van, my husband brought the car seat in the house. I set it in the entry way and looked vainly for the plastic cover to protect it from dust. I used an extra-large space bag, but it only partially covered it.

Yes, my buried treasure was the plastic, car seat cover. I have to protect that car seat because I plan on using it for many more grandchildren.

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to the store, picked up an item and found I already had one. I’m looking at a scarf right now that I should return because I found an identical one in my closet!

The point is, we waste so much money because we let things pile up and things get buried. Decluttering is a job that is never finished. I need to put it back in my daily routine.

Only this cover fits the car seat.

Only this cover fits the car seat.

Senior Picture Gallery

We have three children and after they graduated, I wanted to display all of their senior pictures. (I do have a large portrait of each child in my living room.)

When we first moved into our 640 square foot home, I displayed family pictures in the big room in the basement. But the humidity got to some of them and they stuck to the glass in the frames, destroying the photos. I did not want that to happen to the senior pictures.

I decided to give each of them one wall in the hall. There is no furniture in the way to keep you from getting close to the smaller photos.

But by the time I had that idea, our oldest was married and had a baby! I included an engagement photo, wedding photo, and one of the first pictures of their baby on his wall.

I didn’t go to the expense of purchasing matching frames. I think the variety of frames adds to the uniqueness of the display.

 

My photo gallery of senior pictures.

My photo gallery of senior pictures.

Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

 

This Is Not A Shot Glass

Part of my eye wash system.

Part of my eye wash system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s that time of year again…tree pollen triggers watery, itchy eyes.

I’ve already woke up with one eye that suspiciously looked like pink eye. Yet, when I rinsed it out, used Patanol eye drops, and popped two Benadryl, the redness faded.

The last time I was at the eye doctor’s we had a discussion about pollen affecting the eyes. We talked about using an eye wash system. I could buy one and use purified water, but I explained to him my more frugal method.

First I boiled water, that I had run through my PUR water filter pitcher, in a tea kettle.

Boil purified water in a tea kettle until it whistles.

Boil purified water in a tea kettle until it whistles.

After I let it cool, I poured an 8 ounce glass and sprinkled a dash of salt in it. I stirred the water to dissolve the salt. I poured the water in my clean hand and blinked a few times in the water. I repeated the procedure in my other eye.

The salt and water rinse the pollen off of your eyeball! According to the eye doctor, there is more salt in my tears than the sprinkle I put in the glass.

While away for the weekend with my sister-in-law, I told her about my eye wash system and that I was looking for a shot glass to use. I thought it would be safer than using my hand. She inherited a collection from her fiance’s grandmother and gave this one to me.

Now it is not a shot glass…it is a neti pot for my eyes!

Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish