Frugal Living

7 Steps to Get the Best Deal on a Used Car

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by Alex

7-steps-to-get-the-best-deal-on-a-used-car

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

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by Cassie

how-to-get-a-great-deal-on-bulk-chicken

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.

zaycon-chicken-sale189

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.

how-we-prep-bulk-chicken-plus-tips-and-tools-to-make-it-easier

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
 

Free Amazon Prime for College Students (Plus Earn Unlimited $10 Credits)

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by Cassie

college-students-get-free-amazon-prime-for-6-months

Amazon never ceases to amaze us.  We actually do a good bulk of our grocery, baby, household and any other needed, non-perishable shopping on Amazon throughout the year because of their highly competitive prices – often much lower prices than even going to Walmart or Costco.  We even end up using the digital coupons on Amazon and not have to cut out coupons and drive to the store.  Our items arrive to our door in a couple of days and we are just happy thrifty campers.

We have a great guide on how every household can maximize Amazon Prime HERE to get better than Walmart or Costco prices. 

Well, they have an even more attractive program for starving college students – the Amazon Student program.

It is basically just like Prime, only you get it for free for 6-months, then if you want to continue, it’s half the cost of Amazon Prime at only $49 for a year.

If you or anyone in your household is a college student to anywhere then this is the WAY TO GO for sure!

So, we love our regular prime that we pay full price for (because it is that worth it!), but we wanted to share the benefits with you again in case you are not sure of the Prime benefits that also equate in the Amazon Student program:

amazon-student-benefits-chart

Basically, you get the first few options totally free the first 6 months – the benefit of the free-2-day shipping is alone worth it!

Then after 6 months, the Prime membership for most households is $99 for one year, but for students you get it for $49 – then you get the benefits of the movies, books and songs all year for free.

PLUS…. this is where this is really cool, and only for students who are using the Amazon Student program. You get to earn a little extra money too! After you join, you can tell all of your buddies about this and then you get $10 referral credit added to your account for each college student friend that also signs up! It does not appear to have a limit, so refer away and earn your college living, because you really can live off Amazon. ;)

We aren’t referring as we are not students, but this is a definite triple-plus of the whole deal for you college students!

So, by joining Amazon Student, you will receive many benefits. To be qualified to sign-up, you will need to enter your school and major and have an email address ending in .edu.  My own mom even qualified for this same free Amazon Student Membership.  She is in her 50′s and went back to school after all her kids left home.  She is very happy with this freebie and brags about it to everyone. :)

Get signed-up for free Amazon Student HERE today to start reaping those benefits!

Don’t you just love Amazon :) Saving others money and giving others opportunity to earn money too! Those are the sorts of things we get excited to tell you about! 

If you are not a student……

If you are not a student, don’t sweat it…there is another way you can get a FREE Prime Membership: Everyone can get a free 2-month trial of the Amazon Prime program here. I know, it’s not 6 months, but 2-months is still great. Be sure to read the details!

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Alex & Cassie
 

Innovative Sock Organization: The Crazy Trick for Socks That Saves Our Sanity

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by Alex

crazy-sock-trick-for-socks-that-saves-our-sanity

Do the socks in your house drive you crazy?  Well, in our family of 7 and 7 sets of feet and the 14 pitter patters hundreds of times a day, the socks are an issue.

I know, I have tried so many things – washing in nets together (which only works if your family members keep them together to begin with), having the matched and unmatched bin and the sad and lonely unmatched socks, whom eventually get turned into cleaning rags or crafts if their mate doesn’t show up for eons.  It’s a sad fate for those little guys.  And it is a funny process to witness as the unmatched sock bin becomes more and more full each week.

Well, we finally found a solution (and one that we have done for a couple of years) and that also makes like easier, minimizes your “stuff” and makes life more enjoyable instead of a “hurry up” fight in the morning!

WARNING: it is a little weird.  I will totally admit that.  But at the same time, it is totally smart and totally makes sense.

And we can testify to the fact that IT TOTALLY WORKS! 

Are you ready for it?  Here it is…….

Throw out all of the socks in your house right now and go and buy a week’s worth of socks for every family member in your household.  BUT…. the new socks you buy need to be all one color or design per person and all different from each person.

Why?  Because, when you wash your socks with your laundry, and you go to fold and put away, it is super duper easy to identify whose socks are whose, it doesn’t matter if you have an odd number as they all become pairs (and maybe you will find the one that was missing, and if not still keep it for when another sock is lost and you will be even again ;)), it doesn’t even matter if you match them up! Better yet, throw them in a pile and tell your kids to come get their socks.  Our kids keep theirs in a gallon size bag in their drawer.  This makes it even easier!

It is a seriously easy, peasy, life-changing thing to do.

I know that throwing out old socks and buying new does not seem very thrifty – but the time and sanity you will save is worth it.  In fact, you know the old adage “time is money” and anything that saves time and helps you be more organized is worth the money.

But in terms of expense, this really is less than $10 per person.  Even high quality socks are not usually more than $10 for 7 pairs, but when we do refreshers on this (as the socks get old), we can typically get around $4-$5 per person with sales and bundled deals.

We have been doing this for a couple of years.  However, I drug my feet implementing this plan as I seriously thought was a bit extreme! 

But because of desperation to stop having the sock fight, to stop rummaging through bins of socks, to stop this insanity – I finally did it and it has been one of the best things ever for managing this area of life.

minimizing socks

There are a few things that are also learned from this experience:

Having less is more. I know it may sound silly, but there is real truth to that statement.  Just a lesson on minimizing socks has taught us this.  We feel like we have more with less socks, with less choices, with less laundry, with less “sock bins”…. it is more.  This concept can certainly carry over into other areas of our lives and we are still working on minimizing and simplifying other areas too.

How does being a minimalist/simple equal thriftiness? Well, in our opinion, you will spend less money (even if you are buying things for rock bottom prices), it trains your mind to not think you need to take advantage of every deal because you don’t want to have to deal with those extra things, you have less things to wash and take care of (which cost money!), and you are saving loads of time – which equals more money!

It also teaches yourself and your children to be content with what they have. This is a virtue that is often lost in the “stuff minded” world we live in! You cannot put a price on that!

We encourage you to join us to Be Intentional and get our lives simplified and more organized.  You can join our email list (we never sell your email or spam you – these are just personal emails from us to you about living a more frugal life – whatever the topic at hand be!) and our Facebook group to watch for updates and new challenges to encourage a more organized and simple life! 

What do you think of this idea? Do you think it is extreme?

Please share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions – we’d love to hear!

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Alex & Cassie
 

26 Amazing Reasons to Have Lavender Essential Oils on Hand

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by Cassie

26-amazing-reaons-to-have-lavender-essential-oil-on-hand

As a frugal and trying to be healthy family, we do and have used essential oils in our home.

First, as mentioned many times before, we have used essential oils in cleaning for 8+ years now.

Second, a few years ago, we started using essential oils for personal care too! The combination of the two uses have been life-changing for our family and our health.  We are very thankful to have healthy, affordable and effective options.

So as we shared with the 17 Household Uses for Lemon Essential Oil, we wanted to talk about our favorite oil – Lavender!

Some of these uses can also be in the dried and fresh form, in fact, I am trying to grow lavender as well as there are many, many benefits to fresh and dried lavender.  But the benefit of the oil is that if you buy the right oils, you are getting a pure, unadulterated highly concentrated form of lavender that goes a long way and can be used much easier than a fresh or dried version – however, don’t throw out any dried or fresh lavender either!

The Details

Let’s talk about what lavender does (I am quoting my aromatherapy books and an essential oils encyclopedia where the hundreds of sources/tests/studies are listed).

Properties

The properties of lavender essential oil are that it has acted as an analgesic, anticoagulant, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-fungal, antihistamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, antitumor, cardiotonic, regenerative and sedative in hundreds of studies and tests.

Historical Uses

It has been used for thousands of years for homeopathic care and everyday use.  In a nutshell, lavender has been traditionally used for emotional issues, calming, cardiovascular functions, nervous system and for the skin.

Precautions

First, always use an oil that is approved and certified for internal use or therapeutic use before you use an oil for the purpose (see notes below).

Second, evidence suggests that long term use of lavender has shown to be beneficial for hormones for women, but cause hormonal imbalance in males.  With that, we would suggest using it sparingly with young children and males.

Qualities of oils

I wanted to mention something very important – the types of qualities of essential oils that you purchase and use. First, these are not fragrance oils and you cannot get them at big box or grocery stores – those are different. Essential oils can be purchased at health food stores and online.

Cleaning Grade Essential Oils

For cleaning and many household uses, I will buy the more affordable pure essential oils that are about 1/2 the cost as the very high quality oils.  The reason why is that I am not convinced it is totally necessary to use the highest quality of essential oils for cleaning.  If you can afford the highest quality, then by all means, but for those on a budget like us, then a pure essential oil works just fine.

Essential Oils for Personal Use

For any personal, aromatherapy use – this is where I personally draw a hard fast line.  I think it is essential (no pun intended :)) to use the highest quality oils that you can get.  They already offer a more affordable option than medicines, and so this is not a place to skimp.  I am talking about when the oils touch your body or taken internally.

Where to get these different grades of oils?

I have quite a collection of both my cleaning grade and higher quality personal use oils.  Both companies that I purchase from are also available internationally (for those that have asked in the past).

Natures-Alchemy-100-Pure-Essential-Oil-Lavender-079565003177-sm

For cleaning grade, I have purchased all of them from Vitacost website and they are affordable, convenient to get and have worked well.  You should also be able to get them at health food stores and from Amazon. For the best deal, see our post HERE on the 7 Best Essential Oils for Cleaning. 

lavender-doterra

For the higher quality oils, we understand that a few companies meet this criteria.  We personally have only tried doTerra, which is once such company that offers the highest quality of pure, therapeutic grade essential oils that are safe for personal use and even consumption. These have worked well for us.  We get the purest quality of oils from doTerra HERE (aff link).  They can seem to be pricey, but note that a 15ml bottle contains about 300 drops – so these really do last a very long time!

How Households Can Utilize Lavender Essential Oils Today

We personally find that we use lavender the most, or rather for the most purposes.  If anyone were to ask what one oil they should start with or have on hand, it would be lavender.

Personal Uses (we would only use the highest quality, pure, therapeutic grade oils for these) 

  1. Use lavender oil to help with sleep issues and sleeplessness. The main use that most everyone knows about is for anxiety and help with sleeping.  We have used it for this purpose for a very long time! It’s WONDERFUL this way! This is also a great use for the fresh and dried leaves, as well as the oil! We simply diffuse the oil or place on a cottonball and stick in pillowcases.
  2. Relieve headaches naturally.  I get headaches a lot.  Lavender oil has been my go-to natural drug.  I don’t like using OTC meds too often due to risks associated with them.  However, lavender has been amazing and I am so grateful and thankful that don’t have to worry about it being to harsh on other parts of my body.  When I have a headache, I rub diluted lavender oil in a rollerball (I dilute with fractionaed coconut oil, but many carrier oils will work) and roll this on my temples, the base of the back of my neck and sometimes my feet/toes. I was so amazed at how well this works. In fact, I used this even today as I was blogging (I get headaches from working on the computer :)) and I had relief in 15 minutes – you can see my picture on Instagram HEREAre you following us on Instagram yet? It’s a great place to see what we are up to each day! 
  3. Heal and relieve burns. If myself or anyone else gets accidentally burned from a pan or something, a drop of lavender oil will help to heal the burn and heal much quicker.
  4. Heal, clean and relieve cuts. If there is a skin abrasion, this is the go-to oil! We will sometimes use others in addition to lavender for further help per issue, but on it’s own is mighty fine!
  5. Help clear acne. Due to it’s antimicrobial and healing properties, it can clean out the acne and help your skin to recover.
  6. Help relieve and heal sunburns. We have also used vinegar, but we will follow some burns with lavender because of how helpful lavender is for the skin.  In this case, it is best to apply by spraying. Dilute the lavender in a glass bottle with purified water.
  7. Seasonal allergy reliever! Smelling lavender, diffusing lavender oil and even rubbing it on your feet or temples helps to relieve seasonal/environmental allergies like hay fever.  Honestly, this works sometimes, and sometimes this works best when combined with allergy meds too.  We only have to take allergy meds a couple of times a year (assuming this must be our extreme allergy time) and the rest of the year, the other reactions are often relieved with lavender!
  8. Menstrual cramp reliever.  Just rub it on your abdomen during that fun time of the month!
  9. Cold Sore healer. Similar to the acne issue, cold sores can be relieved the same way.
  10. Achy muscle soother.  If you have a muscle ache, rub lavender oil on your sore muscles for relief!
  11. Most any issue involving the skin, lavender is a great option!
  12. It is also my most favorite oil in my homemade personal care recipes (and be watching for those as I will start sharing them now :))

Household Uses (many of these are links to other articles)

  1. Make aromatherapy tissues for allergy and cold relief.
  2. Make your own laundry detergent with scent like Tide
  3. Make your own fabric softener.
  4. Make your own Downy Unstoppables laundry scent booster, but with natural ingredients.
  5. Make your own soothing baby wipes.
  6. Fabric refresher - Create this by mixing purified water with lavender oil. Just spray your fabrics when needed!
  7. Diffuse in the air with an oil diffuser. Check out the post HERE on diffusers. 
  8. Make your own fragrance diffuser.
  9. Spa Baths – Enjoy a calming, relaxing and healthful bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Even use epsom salts with lavender oil in your bath! 
  10. Lavender pillow or rice warmer.  Fill a small pillow with rice and then sprinkle lavender oil and warm this up in the microwave for less than a minute for a sinus, headache, calming treatment.
  11. Make your own cleaning products. Because of the many cleaning, purifying and cleansing properties of lavender, it is a GREAT ingredient to add to homemade cleaning products for a chemical-free option. We share over 26 homemade cleaning products on our cleaning page HERE and some of these contain lavender oil.

homemade-cleaners-button

Many of these cleaning recipes use lavender oil! 

Cooking Uses (only the high quality, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils for this purpose!) 

  1. Teas – brew your own tea with dried lavender or even with lavender oil.  As a tip, don’t let the water boil – remove the water right before it reaches boiling point. If not, it will burn the oil.
  2. Homemade breads – adding a drop of lavender can really enhance and make a very earthy and yummy flavor to your breads.  This requires experimentation, but lavender is an herb and think about how yummy breads are with herbs!
  3. Flavor enhancer in recipes.  Yogurt, salads, ice cream, Soups, Mediterranean and Italian dishes are nice with a very slight hint of lavender – one drop is more than enough. Another area where it is fun to experiment and receive nice flavor and health benefits too!  I don’t use lavender often in the kitchen (not like other oils that I will talk about later) but I do use it on occasion.

What uses do you use lavender essential oil for?  

See more household tips HERE

See our Essential Oils Pinterest Board HERE 

*Please note, this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition or replace any medicines or medical treatment, it is purely our opinion from our experience and research from a non-medical perspective.  Please confirm all of these things with your doctor. 

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Alex & Cassie