Daily Dose of Thrifty

7 Steps to Get the Best Deal on a Used Car

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by Alex

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Buying a used car and getting a great deal is not as tough as many would lead you to believe. It is true that you can be taken if you don’t do the legwork, but getting a great deal is possible as well. The key is to be thorough, don’t take shortcuts and never act on impulse. Here are some tips to getting the ultimate deal on your next used car:

1. Accept the need for a quality mechanic

If you are buying a used car, the first step you need to take is to secure a really good mechanic. If you don’t have one already, find one through friends and family. A mechanic can assess a car with eyes that are not focused on the car but on the engine. Even if you are a mechanic yourself, you should have a different one check it out to remove the bias.

2. Follow the paper trail

Every car has a paper trail. Purchase receipts, mechanical work and oil changes all provide history and that history in front of you makes a car much more valuable. Try to find cars that have all that paperwork and actually look at it. People that keep paperwork and can show a history of good maintenance are far more likely to have a solid vehicle to offer.

3. Put extra emphasis on one-family vehicles

Used cars that stay within one family are also a great sign of a good car history. Generally speaking a car that hangs around in the family like that is going to be well cared for.

4. Never make a snap offer

Before you ever talk price, you should make sure the car is in great shape and you want it. Some guys purchase cars based on repairs that they feel they can make. This is almost always a losing proposition. Car repairs are far too unpredictable for the average person. Check the car out and then consider price.

5. Bring cash (as well as a couple of friends)

For safety, you should always meet in public and bring a couple of friends along. That said, cash still talks. If you have the cash in your pocket and extend it to them when you make your offer, that will sometimes sway them to take less than they normally would.

6. Never offer what they are asking

Except in the rarest of cases, people have added a buffer into the price of their used car. Because of this, they almost always will take less. The key is to work them to their absolute best offer. This begins by making a fair offer that is not your maximum out of the gate. For example:

They are asking $3000. That means they will probably take around $2500. You know that you have $2000 in your pocket, so you actually offer $1800. From there, you can work your way to as much as $2000 and you are more likely to actually get it. Stay firm on your offers until they give in a bit. Once they do, then you give in a bit. When you get to your final offer, make sure you say so and stick to it. (Even if that means walking away) Some people will make you begin doing so before giving in to your price.

7. Be patient

Ultimately, you may have to walk away from several used cars you love before you find the one that you are meant for. Many people get frustrated and either blow their budget or settle for less than they hoped for. Stay patient and vigilant and you will find the used car that is meant for you.

In the end, we hope that these tips will help you to maximize your investment and make the most of your used vehicle purchase and your money.

See more on Frugal Living Tips and Articles HERE

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Alex & Cassie
 

How to Perfectly Reheat Leftover Steak or Prime Rib

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by Cassie

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I finally found a way to reheat leftover steak that turns out nearly as perfect as when you ordered it in the restaurant! It is always such a disappointment to have a nice dinner out every once in a while and have this beautiful steak or prime rib that you just can’t finish to bring it home and have the reheat not so great!

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So I wanted to share a method to recreate that perfect steakhouse steak at home again!

It is actually going to be by steaming it! But you want to retain the juices and the flavor of the original steak.

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So this is how to perfectly reheat leftover steak and prime rib:

  • Place your leftover steak or prime rib in a piece of foil.

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  • Then, using the au jus your steak came with, or a beef broth, use cover your steak in 2-3 tbsp worth. Hint: most restaurants provide au jus for prime rib and you can ask for a “to-go” cup of it.  In addition, if you have a regular steak, you can just ask if you can have a small to-go cup of au jus with your leftover steak.

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  • Fold the foil around the steak and au jus, so it is fully sealed and covered.

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  • Then, place in the steamer basket and steam on high for 3-6 minutes (depending on how big your steak is) with the steamer covered with a lid.

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  • Once it has been steamed, unwrap and place on your plate and enjoy!

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Enjoy your perfectly reheated steakhouse steak once again! 

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Alex & Cassie
 

Why You Shouldn’t Tell Your Kids: We Can’t Afford That

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by Alex

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This is a topic that has been on our hearts and our minds.  We want to help you understand where we are coming from which might be difficult without really knowing us outside of our site.  We hope you see that we attempt to be as transparent as possible, even with a screen between us and you.  However we also know that when you can’t hear our voices, when you can’t see our body language, and when you can’t read our facial expressions – it might be hard to understand our heartfelt and sincere thoughts when we share anything – even a quick tip, a DIY project, or recipe – but even more so on articles like this.

But see, our relationships with each other, our children and our friends are so very important to us.  We try to be intentional and genuine in each area of life with those we come in contact with.  And most importantly we try to be even more so with our children.

Our children are entrusted into our care.  It is our responsibility to raise them and teach them wise money skills and a healthy view of money.  So we believe that we not only should be transparent with them, but to be good stewards of our children that we must be transparent.

Without teaching them from their early years a healthy view of money, children may grow up with many misconceptions about money.  They may learn an unhealthy love of money (which we know is a root of all kinds of evil) or conversely grow up even hating money.  Without being taught how to be responsible from a young age they will have a strong tendency to be irresponsible with money as they start to manage their own accounts.  Without teaching them financial responsibility they may grown up embittered towards us for not instilling in them wise money-management skills.

Even for us parents that have been foolish with our own money in times past, taking the time to teach them from our mistakes can help them avoid learning from years of their own later on.  In sum, we want our children to grow up learning from our mistakes with the hope they won’t have to start their own site one day on how to get out of $100K of consumer debt.

So after all of that, we wanted to share just one tip we use to help our children to avoid some of those pitfalls when they grow up.  That is one reason why we are encouraging you to not tell your children that you are broke, or that you can’t afford things. When you say something like this to your children, it implies that you have a “love/hate” relationship with money or that perhaps you are bitter towards what YOU don’t have or not content with what you have.  Whether or not you feel that way, children interpret this.

Does that mean then that you give them everything they want and in some sense “show off” your highly responsible money skills in the form of a lavish life no matter the cost, just so you can look like you have it together with your kids?

Of course not!

So how do you tell your children, “no” without adding the excuse that you are broke or can’t afford it.

The answer is simple really.  The answer that we use in our home is…”This is not a financial priority right now”  or “This hasn’t been budgeted this month” (week, quarter,  year, etc. however you budget and however big the expense).

What this demonstrates to your children is that you have a healthy respect of money, that you are a wise money manager, that there are limitations to life and spending money and wise decisions need to be made about where the money will go each month.  You are teaching your children that its perfectly fine to live without something.  That being content and thankful with the money you have is what we need to be.  That we can’t just have anything and everything we feel like. That we need to plan and budget.

When and where to use this term…

  • Not with a toddler… at least not very often.  Toddlers are not asking for expensive things (generally) but rather the “I wants” of the usual suspects that catch toddlers eyes of candy, toys, etc.  With this age, a simple “No” without explanation is all that is needed (this also helps teach simple obedience).  They just simply need to learn to live without. It may seem harmless to “give in” on a $1 item, but this is only teaching them bad habits that will not only grow in desire, but in cost.  Teach them young to appreciate and be content with what they have.
  • It becomes more appropriate as your child gets older.  A simple “no” may suffice in many circumstances, but as you try to be a responsible parent and demonstrating responsibility with your money, it is often good to tell your child, “no because this purchase is not a priority,” or “it has not been calculated into this month’s budget, etc.”
  • It is most appropriate with older children and teens.   They understand what you are saying, they see your responsibility, and it helps demonstrate to them a healthy money environment – one that they will hopefully want to adopt as they start to manage their own financial affairs in the near future.

With this, we encourage you and your children to discuss money matters all along the way.  To discuss the budget, to discuss the goals, to discuss reckless spending, to discuss ways the family can improve on meeting financial goals.  Obviously (or so we hope you see from what we just mentioned) with age-specific boundaries on what you share.

We involved our children with our debt payoff.  They saw our family’s goals.  They understood what we were working for.  They understood why our spending was very calculated as our priority at that time was to pay off our debts.  We did not involve them in the nitty-gritty, ugly, stressful details – that is too much for children to handle.  However, we have discussed with our children why you should not go into debt for most everything, how you should live within your means and even shared how the burdens were lifted when we paid our final debts.

Since becoming debt-free, we still decide on our financial priorities and budget as a family.  We’ve never told our kids “we’re broke,” or “we can’t afford this,” etc.

What we have shared with our children is “this is our budget, and we’re going to stick to it.”  These are the things we have made priorities and perhaps we can discuss their requests at our next family meeting.

This gives the really big money purchases and even the small ones, a reasonable and understandable excuse instead of your children thinking you are irresponsible, that you can’t give them as much as “so and so” has, or even that you’re being mean or unreasonable.  And hopefully it helps them to start understanding that we need to be wise with our limited resources and that godliness with contentment is great gain.

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Alex & Cassie
 

How To Spotlessly Clean Shower Heads and Faucets With Ease

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by Cassie

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Shower heads and faucets are a breeding ground for bacteria.  Many times, we don’t even often look at the end of the spout to realize how dirty and the amount of build-up that has accumulated.

And then, once we look at it, we realize how gross it is! Well, it is the type of cleaning job that needs a good deep cleaning…like a good long soak in a good cleaning solution.

But… we also want as natural as possible, while being effective cleaning.  Deep cleaning with harsh chemicals is bothersome to me for my family as we shower and use the water coming from those faucets.

And, like every case of homemade natural cleaning, it is actually cheaper to make the homemade version, so it is a total win-win.

When it comes to cleaning my faucets and shower heads, this is not a daily task and so only I only make the solution for the immediate time of use and don’t make it to store. There really isn’t much to it to justify needing to make it before like many of our other homemade cleaner recipes.

The supplies you need are:

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Original Blue Dawn (this is the only dish soap I have tried for this and original blue dawn has many non-dish cleaning wonders)
  • Toothbrush for scrubbing

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  • Ziploc – for thriftier ideas, reuse the same ziploc for all the faucets/showerheads that day. We have even recycled bread bags for this purpose too! They are nice and long for long faucets.
  • Rubberband

It is really, really simple to make the solution.

  • In the ziploc bag, add 2 TBSP of Baking Soda and add 4-5 drops of blue dawn dish soap.
  • Place the bag around the faucet/showerhead.

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  • Then add enough vinegar to the ziploc to cover the surface you wish to soak (about 1/2 cup). It will foam up!
  • Secure the ziploc in place with a rubberband.
  • Let soak for at least 30 minutes, but 1+ hours is great too!

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  • Then remove the baggie and rubber band (and then place on the next faucet if it didn’t get too dirty or make a new solution and the same bag for the next faucet).
  • Then, using an old toothbrush, scrub away!

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  • To rinse, I just pour cups of hot water over it until the soap residue is gone.

The GREAT thing about this type of faucet or shower head cleaning process is that no matter how many crevices, nooks and crannies there are or the type of faucet, this works super well!  It is also not very time consuming, although very effective.  It can sometimes be a lot of work to scrub and scrub and scrub the faucets and shower heads, but by giving them this presoak, the gunk really breaks down nicely.

Find many more cleaning tips, recipes, shortcuts, hacks and tricks in 

the cleaning section of our site here

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Alex & Cassie
 

How To Get A Great Deal On Fresh Bulk Chicken Nationwide (No Added Hormones or Additives!)

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by Cassie

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YAY! This Nationwide Chicken Deal is available again.  We get to tell you about this a couple of times per year and the last time was back in December of last year, so it is certainly over-due and we are glad that they are selling this again.

This is the main way that we have bought chicken for 3-years now.  It saves loads of money and is a bit better option that just any ol’ chicken from the grocery store.

So let us tell you about what we do for bulk chicken supply a couple of times per year.  This is a smart frugal option vs. buying chicken in the grocery store. 

A popular company called Zaycon Foods offers different meat offerings a couple of times a year.  Once they sell out, it is gone until the next sale in about 6 or so months.  They have a different offering all of the time, but we have only purchased chicken and ground beef.

The prices for boneless, skinless chicken breast is $1.89 a lb., which is really, really good price compared to the grocery store.

But EVEN BETTER is the quality of the chicken compared to many grocery store options. This chicken has no added hormones, additive or artificial ingredients.   It is NOT organic.  We just wanted to make that clear. However, here’s how we see it: this is a good alternative to organic when you can pay $1.89 for good boneless, skinless chicken breast vs. the $5-$7 per lb. price for certified organic chicken.  Would we LOVE to get certified organic – YES, but it simply does not fit in our budget.  There have been a few rare opportunities where we have gotten certified organic chicken for a great price, but certainly not enough for our family size for a long term solution.  But you bet we will grab it when it fits in our budget. 

So, this is the second best thing and this is the only chicken we have to buy, except for the rare organic deals.  In fact, it is actually cheaper than many grocery store low quality, unnatural chicken breasts.  You really cannot go wrong.  

What is Zaycon Foods?

This chicken is sold via Zaycon Foods which is a nationwide company that provides fresh chicken, beef, pork and seafood to families at an affordable price. Their meat is higher quality and in some cases a natural option. They only have meat offerings at certain times of the year and for a certain type of meat. The last natural chicken breast sale was in the winter.  You do not know how often or when they will have these sales

If it’s not sold in the grocery stores, how do I get it? 

The way that this works is that you place your order online and then you will pick up your order from a local pick-up site as they are delivered to the area fresh in a cold truck.  The chicken comes right from the processor and is not frozen beforehand, so it is super fresh. The pick-up spot is usually within a few minute drive of your home and they are in a parking lot of a private business/organization (like a church parking lot) and the pick-up time for your area will be on a certain date and a small window of time (usually 30 minutes) on that day.

To get this chicken for the price of $1.89 per lb., you do need to order in bulk.  The bulk boxes comes in 40lb. cases and you can get multiple cases or split a case with several people. Whatever your needs are! Currently, you order today through the next few weeks (or until they sell out, which they do!) and then pickup is in mid-October. For the specific date/location/time, you will need to check your area on the website.

This comes out to be $75.60 each 40lb. box. This is an AMAZING price per lb. for this quality of chicken breasts.

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We often get two 40-lb. case boxes as this is pretty much the only chicken we have.  We also have a growing family and our little kids are getting bigger, so we are starting to need to make more per meal.   One 40 lb. box will last our family for about 3 months.

We freeze half of the chicken raw in ziplocs and the other box we cook it all up and chop it up and have cooked cubed or shredded chicken which makes dinner so much easier as this is always the hardest part for me (defrosting and cooking the meat).  So the days I have very little time, the cooked chicken is the answer.

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Read our post HERE on how these come packaged and then how we prep them for the freezer

We highly encourage you to look into this and to place your orders soon as they sell out of this product. One time, I waited too long and the locations that were 3, 15, 25 minutes away were sold out and I had to go with the fourth option that was 45 minutes away, when I literally had an option up the road.  It was still worth the 45 minute drive, however, I don’t wait any longer because I want to pick-up close to home and order before they sell out. 

Here’s details about the chicken that they offer (this information is from their site):

Our Trademark Event

• 100 % natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients

• Comes directly from the processor and has never been frozen

 • Sold by the case — 40 lbs in each case

 • Case dimensions—18 in wide x 12 in deep x 7 in tall

 [NOTE: Our chicken is delivered in its original wholesale packaging, a water resistant cardboard case containing three or four plastic bags of fresh chicken breasts. The smaller bags are typically sealed in a larger plastic bag. The smaller bags are not uniform in weight. There will be small amounts of naturally occurring liquids (i.e.,"chicken juice") in each bag and case. Chicken breasts typically come in double-lobed pairs ("butterfly") and will have small attached amounts of fat.]

Just as we have mentioned many times in our classes, we rarely buy meat at the store.  Between our beef supply from a local farmer or the ground beef from Zaycon, and these opportunities to buy chicken in bulk, we are set for most meals.  Most all of our weekly budget goes to the fresh produce and dairy and small portion to the coupon items that we use!

Head to the Zaycon Site HERE and register (or log-in if already a member). 

You have to be registered to see the prices, pickup and delivery details and dates for your area and additional details. 

Don’t miss this event as it is only open for orders the next few weeks or until they sell out and then it will be gone again for a while!

 

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Alex & Cassie