Tag Archives: frugal

A use for your rock collection

I have a decent-sized agate collection but all it ever does is sit in a box. I love looking at them (some of them are gorgeous), but don’t really want rocks sitting all over my apartment and even if I did, they would end up getting lost or buried under a pile of papers. While visiting with one of the ladies at our apartment office the other day about her agate collection, I came up with an idea for displaying my agate collection: Put the agates in a vase, jar or other clear container, fill it with water, and stick a plant in it. While Weatherman was napping tonight, I did just that. I found a little vase, filled it with some of my agates, added some water, and stuck a little baby spider plant in it (I think Pothos would probably work well, too). Here are the results:

I think it kind of looks like I pasted the vase into the picture.
I actually set the vase on the railing of our balcony and then took the picture.


Lovely agates.


A close-up of the baby spider plant.

This certainly didn’t take all my agates, but now at least some of them are out where I can enjoy them!


Student Discounts on Computer Software

In my searches around the ‘net yesterday, I managed to stumble upon a couple of neat things: 1) College students can get some darn good deals at Microsoft’s website (which is useful only if you don’t hate Microsoft) and 2) College students can get some super deals at Adobe’s website, on things like Photoshop and Lightroom!  I’ve wanted Photoshop for a loooooong time.  Looooong time.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to get $300 before the end of summer so I can purchase both programs (yep, I can both for about $300).  As I’ve yet, I’ve had no brilliant ideas.  Anyone ideas?  And does anyone know if Photoshop does the same stuff Lightroom does?  Is buying both programs worth it, or would it be overkill?

One or both of the sites also has discounts for K-12 students as well as schools and possibly teachers (I forget who all was eligible, you’ll have to investigate further if you’re interested).  Adobe requires some sort of verification that you are, in fact, a college student.  Here are the links to each company’s site about educational discounts (I have no affiliation with these companies – I’m just sharing my new-found knowledge with you):
Adobe’s Higher Education Discount
Microsoft’s Education Discount

When Husband and I were looking at laptops to buy, we discovered Dell has a student discount program that also includes Alumni from certain colleges.  Go to dell.com, scroll down and click on “Public Sector”.  Click the appropriate link from the listing (K-12 education, K-12 employee, higher education employee, etc.).

In similar news, I also discovered that our local Target Optical offers some sort of student discount for eye exams and a 30% discount for AAA members.  If you plan to spend a decent chunk of money in Target’s optical department (and they, too, offer this great discount), it may be worth it to buy an AAA membership.  Plus, you get all sorts of other discounts if you’re an AAA member.  Oh, and you get the AAA member benefits, too, like roadside assistance and all that stuff.  It’s a good deal all around.

There are many other places that offer student discounts, too.  Movie theaters often offer a student price.  There are other places that do, too, but I don’t remember what they are right now.  If you’re looking to buy something, trying searching for whatever you want to buy + student discount and see what you come up with.  If you’re in a store, ask them if they offer such a discount.  The worst they can do is say ‘no’, right?  Happy shopping!

Five Tips for Reducing Laundry Costs

As I mentioned before, we recently moved.  While there are lots of up-sides to our move, there are a few downsides.  One is moving further away from my parents, and thus, their washer and dryer and our “free use” washer and dryer.  (Lest you think I only visit my parents for the free laundry, let me assure you I don’t!  I love going up there each week to spend time with my family, get out of the city, help in the garden, etc.  Free laundry was a perk of going up there each week.)  When we lived at our old place, we rarely did laundry in the apartment’s washers and dryers, which saved us a fair amount of money.  Now that we live further away, we’ll have to do more laundry in the apartment’s washers and dryers and I’ve been trying to come up with more ways to save money on laundry.  Laundry is also more expensive here than it was at our last place, thus adding to my desire for creative solutions.  Here are some tips I’ve used in the past and plan to start using:

1) Combine two wash loads in to one dryer load.  At our previous place, the dryers could easily handle one-and-a-half or two washer loads, depending on clothing type, thus saving us the cost of one dryer load.

2) Skip the dryers and use drying racks.  Now that we have a larger apartment with more room to set up drying racks, I’m going to look in to getting one or two more.  There are a wide variety of designs and many of them fold up for easy storage.  Here’s a great article that has pictures of more varieties of drying racks than you could ever imagine.  If there are a few articles of clothing you need for work the next day, do one dryer load and hang up the rest.  I tend to send the larger, heavier items to the dryer and save the drying racks for smaller items, like socks and underwear, so I can fit more items on the rack.

3) See if you can use a friend or family member’s washer and dryer.  Consider offering something in return for the use of the washer and dryer.  Cook the person a meal, do a bit of cleaning while your clothes wash, take their pet for a walk, or offer some other service or item you’re good at.

3) Have fewer clothes.  Much easier said than done (at least for me!), but having fewer clothes means fewer clothes to wear, which means less laundry to wash.  Within reason, of course.  If you get rid of too many clothes, you’ll just be doing mini-loads of laundry every other day!  That’s no good either…

4) Wear clothes more than once.  In my mind, everyone already does this, but I understand that reality maybe different, so I’m adding this one to the list.  If you only wore that sweatshirt for a few hours while you watched TV, it can certainly be worn again.  This may work well for work clothes, too, depending on your job.  I work at a kennel and while my clothes don’t stay the cleanest, I can usually get a couple days of wear out of them before they’re too dirty for me to look presentable while I’m running the office.  No point in putting on a clean pair of pants just so they can get muddy five minutes after I arrive at work!

5) Make your own laundry detergent.  This doesn’t help reduce your weekly washer/dryer costs, but it can still save you money.  Making your own detergent is fairly simple and doesn’t take much time.  You’ll need three ingredients: washing soda (not baking soda), borax, and bar soap (any regular bar soap, soap flakes, Fels Naptha, Zote, etc.).  Side note: Zote soap can also be used as catfish bait.  Mix equal parts of each and you’re done.  Use one or two spoonfuls.  If you prefer a liquid laundry detergent, check Trent’s step-by-step guide over at The Simple Dollar.  In the three or so years that we’ve made our own laundry detergent, we’ve bought two boxes each of borax and washing soda.  I’ve also used liquid detergent here and there if I find it on sale or ended up at my parents’ without my laundry detergent.  I’ve found Zote Soap, Fels Naptha, the washing soda, and the borax at local grocery stores.  With the exception of the Zote, all the items were in the laundry/cleaners section.  Zote soap is in the ethnic section, although I have seen it in the laundry section of some Wal-Marts.

Those are some of the techniques I use to try and save money on laundry.  Do you use other tricks that I didn’t mention here?  Let me know – I’d love to hear about them!

This Saturday – Free Admission to Many Museums

Many museums, as well as some zoos and arboretums, are participating in Museum Day 2008 – a day where you can get free general admission (limit of two people per household) to many museums.  You must present an admission card to get the free admission.  You can find a card in the September 2008 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine or print one off here.  You can find more information here, as well as search for participating venues.  The Smithsonian Magazine and a few other sponsors are making this possible.  If you’re looking for something to do this weekend and don’t want to spend a lot of money, try visiting a local museum.  Unfortunately, we won’t be able to take advantage of this, as we’re moving this weekend 😦  I’m trying to figure out how I can sneak in a visit to our local zoo, though…

Thanks to JD over at Get Rich Slowly for sharing this.  I knew nothing of this until I saw the post on his blog.

Mmmmm, jam…

Right now, I’m listening to jar lids “pop”.  I love that sound!  My jars of jam finished boiling a few minutes ago and now they’re sitting on the counter.

I started making jam the summer we got married.  I had never made it before and had never helped anyone make it.  One day, I just decided I wanted to learn how to make jam.  Off to the library I went and came home armed with a few good books.  My mom helped me make my first batch.  We ended up with a peach sauce instead of jam, because we ended up nearly pureeing the peaches instead of chopping them, but the sauce was really good!  Since then, I’ve made cherry jam, pear jam, plum jam, and more peach jam.  It’s really not as difficult as it seems at first.  It does take some time, but it’s relatively simple process: Wash up all your jars and lids, chop the fruit, combine the fruit with sugar and lemon juice, boil it, add the pectin, boil it some more, put it in jars, put lids on, boil the jars of jam, let them sit, then enjoy!  There are no complex steps, but the instructions do need to be followed carefully or your jam won’t set or may not seal properly (in which case you can re-process it in the boiling water or just refrigerate it and use it up before too long).

I haven’t determined if making jam is more economical than buying it at the store (perhaps I’ll run down costs in a future post), but it tastes sooooo much better than the store jam. There’s also the satisfaction I get from making the jam and then eating something I’ve made.  If you like working in the kitchen and you like eating jam (or have a lot of extra fruit around), try making some jam.  The results will be tasty!

What is a “Frugal Vet Tech (Student)”?

I’m a non-traditional veterinary technician student. Most of my classmates are just out of high school. I’m not. Some of them are just getting engaged and have most things paid for by their parents. I’m married, have been for four years, and we are paying for (most) everything on our own. We make enough money to pay our bills and even have a little fun, but we’re not swimming in money. I’m forever looking for ways to spend less while still having fun and without eating ramen noodles five days a week. Husband and I both have student loan debt and credit cards that we’re working hard at paying off. I work as the manager of a boarding kennel and Husband is a meteorologist (weather man – and no you won’t see him on TV). We have no children as of yet. We have a Collie and some fish and will someday have lots more critters.

So that’s what a “Frugal Vet Tech (Student)” is (or at least what this one is). What does a person like me write about? Here’s what I’m planning to focus the majority of my posts on:

1. Being a vet tech student. Stories about class, assignments, homework, classmates, and what I’m learning in school. When I’m done with school (sometime in 2009), I’ll add stories related to working as a tech.

2. Being a kennel manager. Working in the pet industry means there’s never a lack of interesting stories to tell.

3. Being frugal. Husband and I are on a mission to pay down our debt, yet still have fun in the process.

4. Living life. Anything else related to life.

Sound fun? It’s not always fun, but it’s usually never boring. Just watch – you’ll see!