Archive for the ‘Frugal with Kids’ Category

Amazing offer alert! Franklin Goose is offering $5 per review for anything on their website, and it is unlimited! Review 10 items and get $50! They explain it on their Facebook and blog, but there is no mention on the site itself. They’re a bit overwhelmed by the response so it may take a few days to get your credit. I spent most of the evening reviewing natural toys, cloth diapers, and any other product on their site I’d seen in person to give a fair evaluation. This will be fantastic for birthday and Christmas presents!


I took the kids over to the Elizabeth Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto today. It was lovely weather and a trip to see many gorgeous flowers was in order! They loved running around the paths with their buddy who joined us, and I loved seeing all of the colorful flowers and plants coming into spring.

I also finished using my Kohl’s gift certificates, buying a few pairs of jeans for myself and a Mother’s Day gift for both of our moms. It wasn’t as good a deal as the other day, but I saved over $200.00 and had a nice chat about finding bargains with the sales clerk who helped me. (Hi, Carolyn!)

I’ve been a busy bee over here and completely neglected my Scratch vs. Store Bought Refried Beans tonight. They’ll be made tomorrow and reviewed for a Saturday post. The next couple of days are likely to be busy, too, with a few mystery shops, activities with the kids, babysitting, a night out with a girlfriend, and my super secret project announcement, which will be here Sunday.

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Yes, I’ve said that this isn’t a deals blog, and yes, I’m posting yet another deal. No excuses other than to say that I’m making my dollars stretch as far as possible and want to help you to do the same. That said!

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are coming out on Blu-ray this week, and they’ll make a great addition to my son’s Christmas gift box. You know I’m not going to pay the full price – $29.99 each! You know I’m going to stack coupons and sales, right?

I was excited to find $5 coupons for each movie. (The coupons are for either USA or Canada, so be sure you print the right one.) If you already have the DVD or VHS, you can get $10 off coupons!

Then I found a scenario at My Frugal Adventures laying out how buy the movies at Toys R Us for $23.99 for both movies and an extra DVD by pre-ordering.

Transaction 1: (This is the preorder)
Pay deposit for Toy Story 1 $5
Pay deposit for Toy Story 2 $5
Buy a 3rd DVD for $19.99
Subtotal: $29.99
Get $15 off instantly on a 3rd DVD for pre-ordering both movies
Get $4.99 off instantly for buying a Disney movie
Final Price: $10

Transaction #2:
Buy Toy Story 1 Blu Ray at $16.99
Buy Toy Story 2 Blu Ray at $16.99 (ONLY this price if you order both 1 and 2!)
Subtotal: $33.98
Minus $10 -which is your deposit from above
Use (2) $5/1 coupons
Final Price: $13.98

So your total is $23.98 for the DVD you select, Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2!

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have an old Toy Story VHS or DVD you can log into your Disney Movie Rewards account HERE and enter the UPC and get $10 off coupons rather than $5 off! That makes your total $13.98 instead of $23.98 for all 3 movies!! (there is a $10 off coupon for Toy Story 1 and another one for Toy Story 2)

Also I did not expect that extra $4.99 discount to come off and I did not see any signage in the store about it.  I can not promise that you will get the same discount I did!  So if you decide to try this deal you might pay $4.99 more than I did!!

Let’s make the deal sweeter, shall we?

I bought The Princess and the Frog DVD as the 3rd movie, using a $5 coupon. My final price on transaction #1 was $5.55, including tax, and I got a free jewelry box. I’ll sell the movie and jewelry box on E-bay. Currently, the movie alone is selling for about $12. Selling it and using the coupon will take $17.00 or so off the total price – and I got the movie for free because I pre-ordered the two Toy Story movies!

Next, get a free movie ticket to see Toy Story 3 in theaters with each purchase of a Toy Story or Toy Story 2  Blu-ray and DVD combo pack. That saves us $14.99, the cost of two tickets at Costco. A fun, free Mama-Kiddo date is in our future!

You can also hold onto your tickets and the codes inside your Blu-Ray/DVD combos to enter into Disney Movie Rewards. I haven’t signed up yet, but apparently you get free stuff for entering your movie codes.

Altogether, I’ll get two Blu-ray/DVD combos, and two movie tickets for a mere $6.98 (after selling The Princess and the Frog DVD and jewelry box.) That is more than a 90% savings off the original price!!

The movies will join a Toy Story Lego set that I bought with a coupon last week ($14.99 – the coupons are no longer available), and inexpensive Christmas gift for Peanut is in the works. I’m expecting to spend under $50 per kid this year.

I’m making him an art bag with lots of pockets – he loves bags and pockets – and a crayon and marker roll-up, using a pattern I bought for $.99 on Black Friday, sturdy orange freebie fabric that was left over from a paid sewing project in December, and some really cute rocket fabric from my stash. Adorable, right?

We do four gifts per kid each Christmas, plus one gift from Santa, a stocking, and gifts from the family. It’s more than enough every year! Peanut’s gift is already shaping up:

  1. Something you want (Legos and movies inside the art pouch,stocked with art supplies bought for next to nothing at Back-to-School time and a box of Toy Story Band-Aids, $.32 after coupon.)
  2. Something you need (To be determined)
  3. Something to wear (An outfit and shoes, likely a Gymboree deal later in the year)
  4. Something to read (Stone Soup – using Swagbucks – with seeds for next spring’s garden and possibly a little gardening kit – he loves digging and I’m sure gardening will be well received)

And Sweet Pea’s plan is similar:

  1. Something you want (Princess and the Frog Blu-Ray/DVD, a fairy princess dress made out of my wedding dress – I’ve mentioned her love of all things pretty, right? – more to be determined)
  2. Something you need (To be determined)
  3. Something to wear (An outfit and shoes from the last Gymboree sale – cute snowflake patterns on jeans, two long sleeve shirts, and a sweater)
  4. Something to read (Books using Swagbucks, titles not yet determined, but something like Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees or Paper Bag Princess or Cinder Edna, to counteract the Disney-fication of little girl toddlerhood and princess adoration.)

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My kids are well dressed, nearly for free. I have tried a variety of methods  and seem to have stumbled upon one that works well for me. Here’s how I do it.

1. Plan ahead. Shop ahead.

I make a list of what each kid will need in each of the next few sizes and keep that list in my purse. Sweet Pea is currently in size 18 months, but I have nearly a full 2T wardrobe ready in the wings, which saves me from having to buy clothes at full price and gives me time to be picky about getting cute stuff on the cheap. As I shop, I note what I got, so I can see at a glance where there are gaps. I also plan each kid’s wardrobe around a few colors and try to shop for pieces that will mix and match.

Here’s the table I use to determine how much of each type of garment to buy. I got the amounts from a website for what foster kids need, and added to give a well rounded wardrobe consistent with our climate (California, no snow) and once-a-week laundering. Peanut is 4 years old, wearing 4 T currently, so I’m working on  5T and 6T acquisition. The one I keep in my purse has space in the notes to write out the color/pattern/image on shirts so I remember what’s in the closet.

Here’s his list:

BOY – 5 T Needed Purchased Notes
Underpants 10
Undershirts 10

Socks 10
Pajamas – light 3
Pajamas – heavy 3
Dressy outfits 2
Everyday shirts – short sleeve 10
Everyday shirts – long sleeve 10
Shorts 10
Pants 10
Sweaters/Sweatshirts 5
Light jacket 1
Heavy jacket 1
Swim suit 1
Winter hat 1
Summer hat 1
Rain coat 1
Dressy shoes 1
Sneakers 1
Sandals 1
Slippers 1

Sweet Pea has a nearly complete 2T wardrobe, so I shouldn’t need much for her right away.  I always put bike shorts or leggings under everyday dresses and skirts, so I list them together. Here’s her list:

Girl – 2T Needed Purchased Notes
Underpants 10
Socks 10
Pajamas – light 3
Pajamas – heavy 3
Dressy outfits 2
Everyday shirts – short sleeve 6
Everyday shirts – long sleeve 6
Shorts 4
Skirts & bike shorts 2
Pants/Jeans 6
Dresses & leggings – summer 4
Dresses & leggings – winter 4
Sweaters 5
Light jacket 1
Heavy jacket 1
Swim suit 1
Winter hat 1
Summer hat 1
Rain coat 1
Dressy shoes 1
Sneakers 1
Sandals 1
Slippers 1

My kids have been consistent in sizing, so it’s easy for me to determine what size they’ll need. I have a hard time gauging shoe sizes ahead, though, so I tend to stick with closed-toe shoes that can go year round. Sweet Pea is a lover of “cute” clothes and already a shoe-loving girl (she doesn’t get that from me) so I anticipate that we’ll have more need for shoe columns as she has more of a say in things!

Generally my list gives about a week’s wardrobe plus a few spares for spills or accidents. Also, I hang clothes in outfits rather than folding individually, so while we could get away with fewer pants than shirts, it is just easier for me to have equal numbers. I buy 10 pairs of the same socks per kid as well, so every sock matches every other sock. No more sock hunts! (I do this for Mr. Penny and myself as well; we actually share everyday short socks.)

This picture is from last year, when I instituted the one-hanger-per-outfit rule. A top, bottom, and underwear for Peanut are all on the same hanger, so he can pick out his own outfit and it matches every time. I’ve since removed the hanging shelf and those clothes hung up or in the dresser, but I’ll maintain the single hanger option as long as they’ll let me. Putting clothes away is so easy!

2. Second hand and know my brands
I don’t buy kids clothes often, but when I do, I buy lots. Craigslist lots to be specific. I’ll buy a lot, or group, of clothes for about $1 per piece, often cheaper, and have a nearly complete wardrobe very inexpensively. I haven’t had great luck finding good quality cheap clothes at local thrift stores and garage sales; they’re frequently no less expensive than clearance at regular stores, and I have a hard time finding things in really good condition that I can later resell.

I look for ads with pictures that state damage free (no holes, no stains), brand name clothes in excellent or very good used condition, from non-smoking households. I am not a brand name shopper for myself, but I have found that some brands hold up better to being worn by multiple kids than others. No-name brands fall apart quickly, while better quality brands can go through multiple kids and washes without falling apart.

This trick seems to work best for small kids. After age 3-4, kids wear out clothes faster than they outgrow them, so fewer lots in great condition seem to be available. As Peanut is moving into big-kid sizes, I’m having a harder time finding used clothes in good condition for $1!

3. Stock up at Gymboree (really!) and other clearance sales

Now Gymboree isn’t known for it’s cheap kids clothes, but they have really good sales and it is worth learning how to take advantage of them! I use the method outlined at Never Pay Retail Again and routinely save 60-75% off retail price. I try to get a variety of pieces in the same series so I can easily mix and match for a variety of outfits at the least expense.

Starting Thursday, 3/18, they’re offering a Fill-A-Bag sale – 30% off your entire purchase – PLUS you can stack a 20% coupon and earn Gymbucks toward a future order! Check out the details over at Never Pay Retail Again.

Clearance sales in general are fantastic to keep an eye on, but have a bottom line, a dollar amount you won’t exceed per item, to make it most cost effective. I will not spend more than $5 per piece for anything other than jeans ($10) or jackets ($20). I have had great luck with finding quality pieces with this limit in mind.

Target often marks down 30%, then 50%, and occasionally more. Carter’s Outlet will mark down to 90% off, and frequently offer coupons, but they’re in-store only. Old Navy has crazy end-of-season sales smack dab in the middle of the season, and they occasionally have 50% off of already clearanced items. I’ve been able to stock up on new things for the kids for under $1 in the store. I could save even more next time by buying gift cards online for less.

4. Resell it!

These are all tricks to buying clothes inexpensively, but inexpensive is not practically free, so I’ll let you in on part 2 of my kids clothes plan: I do my best to keep clothes looking good and then resell them when they’re outgrown. (I buy stain remover in bulk!)

For lots that I purchase on Craigslist, I pull out the clothes I like and then rebundle what is left to sell. I resell good brands in lots on Ebay, where I can get a few dollars per piece. Less great brands or basics sell at garage sales for $1 per piece. Recently, I bought a lot of 80 pieces for $30, including 7 Gymboree outfits that will be resold to recoup the entire $30; what’s left is free!

When I buy clothes, I leave the tags on until the kid is ready to wear the outfit, because occasionally a piece never gets worn and the resale value is higher with tags.

And there you have it, my method for clothing kids close to free: plan and shop ahead, buy good brands used and on clearance, and resell to recoup your money.

Do you have tips for buying kids clothes that I missed? Leave them in the comments!


This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

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My kids would happily eat PB&J for every meal if I let them, and because it is inexpensive, healthy, and tasty, we do have peanut butter sandwiches several times a week. We’re not alone in our love of the peanut butter – there is even a restaurant in New York City called Peanut Butter & Co., dedicated to the PB&J!

I get bored, though, and want the kids to grow up exposed to a variety of healthy flavors, so I put together The PB Sandwich Matrix. Pick an item from each column and combine to make a unique lunchtime treat.

Bread Spread One or More Toppings
Sliced Wheat or White Bread Peanut Butter Jelly, Jam, or Marmalade
Cinnamon Raisin Bread Almond Butter Crushed Pineapple
Pita Bread Cashew Butter Sliced fruit, like banana or kiwi
Mini Bagel Sunflower Seed Butter Honey
Tortilla Soy Nut Butter Chutney
English Muffin Tahini (Sesame Seed Butter) ¼ c. orange juice and 1 T orange zest (mix with spread)
Waffles Cream Cheese Apple butter, pumpkin butter, other fruit butter
Pancakes Nutella Shredded coconut
Graham crackers Pureed pumpkin and cinnamon
Apple slices and cinnamon
Marshmallow Fluff (makes a Fluffernutter)
Raisins or other dried fruit
Shredded carrot
Sunflower Seeds

Make it creative!

Cut your sandwiches with cookie cutters to make fun shapes.

Use two different types of bread for a checker-board effect.

Grill it like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Roll up your tortillas and slice them into rounds like sushi.

I have the Cut-N-Seal sandwich sealer from Pampered Chef, so I can make a home made (HFCS-free) version of Smucker’s Uncrustables.

You can get even more adventurous and make a Thai-style chicken satay sandwich, peanut butter and bacon, or The Elvis – adding cheese and banana and grilling it up. The sky’s the limit!

My dad makes grilled PB, mayo, and banana sandwiches, which he describes as “deliciously trashy”, but I should point out that he makes dinners like “The Heart Attack Burger” – bacon cheeseburgers with a fried egg on top and mayo on the bun. Rich foods are in his blood (and likely clogging his arteries), and may not be to your taste!

Want to branch out with the PB&J flavors but not interested in a sandwich? Try one of these recipes!

Peanut butter and jelly bars

Peanut butter and jelly cookies

Peanut butter and jelly muffins

Peanut butter and jelly hot wings

Peanut butter and jelly smoothie

Peanut butter and banana crepes

Warm peanut butter and jelly dip

Peanut butter and jelly parfait

Peanut butter and banana bread pudding

(I haven’t tried and don’t vouch for these recipes, but wanted to show the variety of uses for PB&J.)

March is National Peanut Butter month, so go try something new with this tasty, healthy, inexpensive staple!

This post is linked up to Works for Me Wednesday.

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Looking for an inexpensive zoo membership for your family? Check out this deal, and hop on it since it expires Thursday!

First Sign up for a free membership at Savvy Source, and then click this link for a family membership – two adults and up to four children – for just $40! That’s more than 50% off of the regular membership price, and pays for itself in just one visit if you’re taking a family like ours – two adults, two children, parking one car would cost $43.

What you get:

  • Free admission, 363 days of the year, at the Oakland Zoo for the two named, cardholding adults (ages 18 and up) and any four children (ages 2-17)
  • Free parking at The Oakland Zoo for one vehicle
  • Free guest pass (for one-time use) for 2 adults and 2 children at The Oakland Zoo
  • Eight free coupons for rides
  • Free admission to our Members’ Nite event and subscription to Roar! the Zoo’s newsletter
  • Discounts at the gift shop, for Zoo Camp, birthday parties, for Walk in the Wild, ZooLights, and other special events as well as to 125 zoos and aquariums nationwide
  • Activate your membership by September 30, 2010.

Enjoy your visits with the monkeys!

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Yogurt is not our only live active culture! We strongly believe that kids need to experience a wide variety of activities and see things outside of their everyday scope to become well rounded members of society. Having a small budget doesn’t mean our kids don’t get to experience some of the highlights of living in our  culturally rich area! Here are a few activities we’ve enjoyed with our kids, and other free and cheap activities worth checking out.

Free days at museums

Many local museums offer free days. I found quite a few here at Kid Matter, including the California Academy of Sciences, where the above photo of Sweet Pea admiring “dishies” was taken recently. The indoor rain forest, living roof, planetarium, and aquarium were all just amazing!

We’ll be taking advantage of the free admission for 17 Bay Area Museums this Mother’s Day – listed on the link above!

So far this year, we’ve enjoyed free days at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and Coyote Point in San Mateo (get there early enough to see the river otters being fed daily at 12:30).

Palo Alto’s Junior Museum and Zoo, which has changing, hands-on exhibits for young kids, Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto, Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford campus, Cable Car Museum and The Randall Museum in San Francisco are routinely free and great for kids, although donations are welcome. Go to The Randall Museum on Saturday if you have a train-loving kid, so you can see the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club’s train layout. The Museum of American Heritage has a Lego train display every December; it’s a $2 entrance fee, but it’s worth it to see the whole model railroad set up in Legos. And Peanut talked about the Cable Car months after a trip with Daddy!

Check out Bay Area On The Cheap for discounted tickets to local events and upcoming free activities.

Outdoor Activities

Of course, parks are the go-to outdoor activity for many families. I found a nice review page for local parks here, and we’ve visited several of the wonderful parks spotlighted.  Of course, there are the biggies like Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Vasona Park in Los Gatos, but there are some special neighborhood parks worth a visit as well. Bol Park and Mitchell Park in Palo Alto are fantastic, and Mitchell has a tot-lot, as does Holbrook Palmer in Atherton, where you can watch the trains come by. (Have you noticed a train theme yet? Trains are a huge hit for our little guy!)

Burgess Park in Menlo Park has a shady, gated tot-lot, and a duck pond, library, community pool, and community center just a short walk away; it is our most commonly visited park! Central Park in San Mateo is fun, with a little ride on train and a Japanese garden.

For walks, we love the Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View right behind Shoreline Ampitheater along the bay. Seal Point Park in San Mateo is great, too, for walks along the bay and for the playground, which has a water feature the kids can play in. On hot days, that is a great feature! (It is closed until May 2010 for renovation.) They also have a dog park, but we don’t have a dog so that isn’t something we seek out.

Mid-Peninsula Open Space District offers kid friendly hikes and outdoor activities. Check out their calendar for upcoming events.

Hidden Villa is a working farm, and it is free to walk around from Tuesday through Sunday, 9 am to dusk. Guided tours are available for a small fee, and parking is $5 a day.

In the summer, we’ve had a great time visiting local u-pick farms and picking our own fruit.

We enjoy taking a packed lunch to the duck pond in Palo Alto, right next to the little airport, and sitting on a picnic bench to watch small planes take off and land while we eat. Each time we visit we have to explain to the kids why we don’t feed the ducks, as we see other families doing; we show them the signs posted about how feeding the ducks is unhealthy and can hurt them. It’s a fond memory from my own childhood, but we want our kids to respect the animals’ health first and obey the rules in public places, so no sneaking treats for us.

Local towns, and Stanford, often have festivals in the summer. Watch the local paper for events.

The farmer’s market is great for a Saturday morning activity and learning adventure, picking out fresh food, talking to the people who grew it, and often hearing live music. It doesn’t get much better.

And of course, there is the beach! Half Moon Bay is our favorite, with plenty of sand to make castles, water to splash in, and fresh seafood right off the boat. MMmmm, local crab…

Community Events

Menlo Park is having an Egg Hunt on April 3 at 10 am and Kite Day on April 25 from noon to 4 pm at Bedwell-Bayfront Park. We’ve attended both, and hid our own eggs last year after a run in with a particularly aggressive bunny and big kids the year before, but we may attempt it this year. Palo Alto Art Center is hosting a hands-on family art day called Project LOOK! on April 4 from 2-4 pm for children ages 5 and up.

Both Palo Alto and Redwood City have parades in May – the May Fete Parade is on the 1st in downtown Palo Alto, and the annual Pet Parade is at the end of the month in Redwood City.

Menlo Park and Redwood City both offer outdoor concerts in the summer. Menlo Park has concerts in the park on Wednesdays, and Redwood City has a number of offerings, including music on the courthouse square, salsa dancing, and other musical activities. The series’ calendar will be posted later in the year.

Redwood City’s community events calendar offers a variety of fantastic  free outdoor events throughout the year. Over the summer, we enjoy concerts and movies in the courthouse square in Redwood City.  The annual Independence Day celebration starts off with pancakes at the firehouse for a small fee, parade, festival and fireworks, a very fun, very full, free day. Last year, there was also a series of “Target Days” – kids activities sponsored by Target, including bands, clowns, and street artists, crafts, a bounce house, and a bug discovery area where kids could touch enormous insects, a BIG hit for my little guy! Hopefully they offer this again in 2010.

In October, a trip to Half Moon Bay’s Art and Pumpkin Festival is a must! We pick a pumpkin, enjoy live music, and appreciate the art, for the price of the pumpkin. The city of Menlo Park has a Halloween parade and trick or treating as well, for more fun, free holiday celebrations.

Hometown Holidays are our favorite! A full day of free  fun, including snow (which in our area is non-existent), meeting Santa, bands, a parade, and fireworks! Santa and his singers coming through on CalTrain to sing carols, and the finale is an outdoor movie in the courthouse square. Last year, it was the original cartoon “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” We bring a bag of popcorn and hot cocoa in a thermos for the movie, and a very full day of entertainment costs nothing.

We’ve also enjoyed going to California Missions in the area (Fremont, San Jose, San Francisco so far), which often ask a small donation, and the lighthouse at Ano Nuevo is a fun day trip.

Our community offers a lot of free activities, and I’m always on the look-out for free things to do!

Indoor Activities

Westgate Mall offers a Mommy & Me kids program on the first Wednesday of every month from 10 am – 12 pm games, puppet shows, face painting, balloon artists and educational programs. (I will not be getting the free gift for having spent $300 in the mall during the previous month!!)

Home Depot’s Kid’s Workshop
Free how-to workshops for kids 5-12, from 9 am – 12 pm the first Saturday of each month. Contact your local store to see if they offer the Kid’s Workshop.

Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics
Free wooden projects every Saturday at 10 am for kids in 1st through 5th grade.

Lakeshore Learning Stores
Free craft activities every Saturday from 11 am – 3 pm.

Over the summer, check out Kids Bowl Free to see if your local bowling alley participates. Kids get two free games every day for the whole summer!

We’ve also had fun at IKEA, wandering around, trying out furniture, playing in the kid section, eating lunch overlooking the street, buildings, bay, and hills across the bay. It’s free if you don’t buy anything! They also have Smaland, where you can leave your  (fully potty trained) kids for up to 45 minutes to play in the ball pit or giant shoe. If you need a quiet cup of coffee on a rainy day, it’s an option!

Story Time

Kepler’s in Menlo Park offers stories every Sunday morning at 11:30. They often have author events for kids and adults; they hosted Barbara Kingsolver back in November, and it was so awesome to see one of my favorite authors read from her new book and answer questions, for free, in the small venue of the high school’s performance art center. (She signed my copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I nearly swooned from the excitement, haha!)

Of course, local libraries are a great resource for inexpensive activities for kids! Story time for toddlers and preschoolers at our local library is always a hit, and local libraries often have the scoop on upcoming free activities sponsored by the community; make friends with your childrens’ librarian!

Other Resources

I frequently check the calendar at the Bay Area Parent Magazine, free in the Auto Trader and apartment magazine section of the grocery store. They list upcoming community events, including free activities, and have a Family Navigator edition out now that includes a Freebies section. Our community activities calendar, with the community center schedule, is another handy resource.

A friend recently e-mailed me to recommend the Stanford newsletter for families in the area as a source for family activities. Here is what she says:

Subscribe free to Stanford’s excellent monthly e-newsletter called “Stanford for You: Inviting Neighbors to Campus.” It is designed beautifully, so you can skim it quickly for what might interest you. It only comes monthly, so it doesn’t clutter up your inbox. It includes many free or low-priced on-campus events suitable for all family members, including: tours, dance, continuing ed for adults, summer camps for kids, art, music, health and wellness, sports, parenting (infants, toddlers, kids and teens), readings, film, lectures, faith and religion, public service, global issues, and links to other Stanford resources. You will soon be amazed by the abundance of affordable activities available right in our own back yard. It could also give you ideas to keep houseguests happily entertained when you’re busy. Here’s where to subscribe: http://4you.stanford.edu

As you can see, culture and fun can be found for free in the Bay Area, and I’m sure I just scratched the surface. Do you know of other free or cheap activities for families in the Bay Area? I’d love to hear them! What kind of activities are available in your neck of the woods?


Did you appreciate this post? It took me several hours to compile, and if you think it would be helpful to other families looking for free fun in the Bay Area, I would appreciate it if you would pass it along! Tweet it, post it on your blog, e-mail it, StumbleUpon it, Digg it, share it with anyone you think would benefit from it!

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Thank you!

(Photo credits all belong to their respective linked sites.)

This post is linked to Thrifty Thursday and Frugal Friday.

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Another week of pantry eating is upon us! We have quite the variety of dry beans, so you’ll see those as the staple of the week, and likely for the next few weeks as well as we work down the stash!

Monday: Black bean and sweet potato soup

Tuesday: Chinese meatballs, brown rice, green beans

Wednesday:  Mac and cheese with white beans, broccoli

Thursday: Lemon chicken with capers, brown rice, carrots

Friday: Baked beans, cornbread, oranges

Saturday: Creamed chicken with cornbread dressing, mixed veggies


We spent the day at The Tech Museum in San Jose today. Every second Sunday is free day, and we took advantage! Readers, would you be interested in posts about local free events and activities for families?

Their current display shows technology benefits humanity, with technologies that are making a difference in the lives of impoverished people around the world. The one that struck me was a stair-master type water pump to irrigate fields and provide drinking water to people who otherwise would be reliant on rainfall. We take easy, affordable, readily available drinking water for granted, and explaining to Peanut that not everyone has running water reminds us that our situation, which I often think of as “poor”, is so much better than so many people who are struggling around the world just to have basic needs met. I am humbled and grateful!

For more menus, check out Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com!

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Putting away $6,000 is a lofty goal for me. I’ve never been able to save that much, and it will take diligence and creativity to stretch each quarter as far as it will stretch and bring in extras to supplement the savings. I’ll be testing as many ideas for finding and earning extra money as I can, and documenting it along the way.  Here are a few of the ways I’m planning on saving, and what you can expect to find on the blog:

Scratch vs. Store Bought

In this weekly article, I’ll be determining whether it is more cost effective to make from scratch such items as condiments and convenience foods, household cleaners, and bath and beauty products, testing recipes and reporting the results.

Dialing for Dollars

Our service providers will be receiving a phone call to reduce rates for regular expenses, like auto insurance, phone service, and even the water company. I’ll post the outcomes of my negotiations, hopefully finding significant savings!

Menu Planning

Wasted food wastes money, and having a plan is the most effective way I have found to reduce food waste. I’ll be posting my low-cost menu plans each week.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Use it up, wear it out, make do, do without

Finding creative uses to keep things out of the landfill, keeping spending on new products mindful and to a minimum, and keeping our things in good working order will certainly keep money in our pockets. As I try new ways to use items up and do without, I’ll be sharing them with you.

No-Spend Days

Clearly eliminating all spending for a set period of time will save me money, but it may also help me to redefine and focus in on needs vs. wants, hopefully helping me to spend more mindfully when I do shop. My goal to start is 7 No-Spend Days each month.

Money Making from home

I’ll be exploring a number of options for making money at home, with a more detailed list of ideas tomorrow. Your suggestions for legitimate, legal ways to make money from home without upfront costs are welcome!

You’ll also find a monthly wrap-up to see what’s working and how well I’m doing at reaching my goal, tips for frugal home making, crafty goodness, and inexpensive activities, projects and products for the family.

Sound interesting? Subscribe now and don’t miss a thing, and post your comments with ideas, questions, or encouragement!

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