Monday, August 3, 2009

Ways to Save. Tips to tighten your belt in an Uncertain Economy

i'm sure by now you've figured me out..i love to hang out in the city and enjoy all that our wonderful city has to offer..but just like the rest of America i'm also concerned about being smart about spending these days...i like to find innovative ways to save money so that i can funnel more fun money to do the things my family and i like to do which is explore all the hot spots in the in the spirit of these times i offer something a little different on the blog this month...great ways to save money so you can have a little something extra in your pocket to have a fun...if you have innovative ways that you do as a single or perhaps as a family to save money, please feel free to post a comment. i'd love to hear from you!


*I only go to the ATM once after payday. i take out enough cash for the week and keep it in an envelope..when we run out, we wait till the next payday to hang out

*we go to alot of free stuff..festivals...parks and shopping malls to just hang out

*i fill my gas tank once a week

*i buy gift cards for amazing restaurants at

*we buy late model cars at discount car lots..Carmax is awesome!

*i have a budget that i prepare 3 months at a time..i earmark only a certain amount for "fun money" each payday

*we buy our cars at the end of the model year or the last few days of the year and drive them till we pay them off

*we have a discount car insurance (Geico is way cool)

*we use a babysitter who charges a flat rate fee rather than per hour

*i never buy breakfast during the week. i make my own coffee and cook my own muffins, bring fruit, yogurt, granola, english muffins, oatmeal for a healthy breakfast..i save the weekends for a splurge for brunch!

*i try new places at lunch when typically the menu options are much cheaper

*i search the web for special days when special places (Fernbank, Imagine IT museum, Zoo atlanta) offer discounts

*i grocery shop once a month and buy in bulk from major discounters (I am a big fan of super Walmart)

*i shop for papergoods and cleaning supplies at family dollar and big lots

*i only shop for furniture at major discount retailers (Rooms to Go outlet and Big lots have quality furniture at a steal)

*we book Vacation packages thru Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia..typically you can save a bundle if you book airline tickets, the hotel and rental car as a package

*we take vacations off season

*everytime i break a big bill i save all the singles and deposit them in a savings fund at the end of the month

*i love to shop..but i only shop at off-price discount chains (the designer brand selections are amazing..but you have to dig)

*i shop off-season..on the regular i shop for winter clothes when they are slashed to make room for summer clothes and vice versa..i peruse the fashion magazines to stay in touch with what will be trendy for the season and buy accessories to keep my wardrobe fresh...

*my new clothes purchase are minimal..but shoes..well erra that's another shop my fave designers (liz claiborne flex, dr. scholls, tory burch, steve madden, aerosoles at outlets and at the major stores during their seasonal sales)

*i typically buy fragrances once a season and i love body oil! 1/8 the price of major cologne brands

*everytime i have loose change i save it in a big jar and cash it in at my credit union and deposit the total in a savings fund

*i believe in managed health employer has an HMO that i am a member of and i find the absolute best doctors in network and pay a flat rate for deductible visits..visit my primary care dr for everything...and pay rock bottom prices for dental visits...

*i take natural supplements to stay healthy...i also eat reasonably well, floss like a fiend and get plenty of rest to cut down on seasonal ailments and surprise visits to the dentist..and i am religious about hand sanitizer..germs live everywhere and it only takes a sec for you to catch something

*i pray, meditate and exercise to cut down on's amazing the ailments that everyday stress can cause! the mantra i chant is "this too shall pass"

*i ask my doc for samples of prescriptions during drs visits to cut down on visits to the pharmacy

*you have a checking account that is fee-free right? no? run to your local credit union! lol

*i have a Health Savings fund thru my employer that i use for pre-tax dollars..when i pay my deductible for any prescriptions or dr visits the fund pays me back by depositing the amount back in my checking account

*i also have a Dependent care account thru my employer..same concept using pre-tax dollars..all after school care monies i pay are directly deposited back into my checking account at a time i choose

*i set my kid's expectations low for toys..before we enter the store he repeats the rules "No means no...when it's time to go, it's time to go..and no whining and crying for anything" ..try it...the little ones get it really quickly.. lol....

*Repeat after are your

*i have one major credit card..we plan major purchases and pay them off within 30 days before the interest kicks in..repeat after me....installment agreements with interest are evil unless in emergency yes that includes big screen tvs

*i estimate all the tax deductions i'm entitled to upfront (i have very smart tax accountants on my speed dial) and get all my money from Uncle Sam upfront in my tax refund is minimal and i love to "break even"...many may argue with me...if you disagree fine...plan to use your tax refund for that major purchase you've been salivating over like that flat screen tv instead of putting the purchase on a credit card and paying for it for the next 5

*i wait until tax free weekends once a year to buy major computer purchases

*i utilize budget billing for all my utilities..esp the power bill and gas co

*we bundle services thru our cable company for phone, dsl and cable services

*i work out at monthly gym fees! i even use the neighborhood pool if i need a change of pace

Repeat after me..the Dollar store is your

Perfect Party Places for Young Knaves

i love little boys...perhaps because i have 2 boys...i have a goddaughter that i adore and spoil rotten...but my area of expertise is certainly the young knaves..there is nothing more exhilirating than getting a group of 10 or so young boys under the age of 6 in a room together and feeling alive with the spirit of youthfulness...are you buying any of this? i didn't think seriously though..i love love love hanging out with the little guys..they are so easy to to run and play..cupcakes...and perhaps something to run, jump over or climb on...and they are good! so without further ado i introduce to you, my top Hot spots for the little rascals...and of course they all have my 5 year olds stamp of trust me...i'm from the

Karate Kick Miami Circle

Malibu Grand Prix

Mario Andretti Speed Car Racing

Laser tag in Pleasant Hill (may be too intense for youngsters under 6)

Skate boarding at Discover Mills

Dave and Busters

Bowling parties

Young Chefs Academy in Toco Hills

More to come....


Outdoor Adventures in Kiddieland - Awesome Apples, Pumpkin Picking and Delicious Dairy Farms!

With fall coming, one of my very fave things to do is go out to one of the local farms and go ahuntin’ for a pumpkin. Sound corny? It is! But great fun…lol….Many of the local farms in the area bring in extra revenue by having berry/apple picking in the summer and pumpkin patches in the fall.

For all the cityfied cynics….Have you ever done a hayride? If not get thyself there! The kids love ride a tractor trailer, everyone jumps out and runs wild trying to get the best pumpkin, you jump back on and end up back at the start for homemade icecream, apple cider or some other delight..and normally there is a petting farm of grab your overalls (ok you really don't have to wear and welcome Fall by heading out to one of the local spots to get your Pumpkin patch on! You have plenty of time to prepare as the pumpkins are just now growing and will not be available till mid-late September….CALL AHEAD TO GET THE OPERATING HOURS…

Hillside Orchards. Old Hwy 441 South, 18 Sorghum Mill Drive, Lakemont Ga 30552, 706-782-2776
Head up to Ellijay area to Hillside orchards, a nice drive, and lots of fun things to do once you get there, great apple cider, donuts homemade on site as well! Opens mid September…

Burt's Pumpkin Farm. 4801 Highway 52, Dawsonville, GA 30534, 706-265-3701 or 1-800-600-BURT
It is very child friendly and has hay rides. Also, about 15-20 minutes away there is a great place to go for apples/apple cider/individual fried apple pies, etc. - it's called Panorama there are several apple places near Burt's to buy apples if you want to do it all in one day, but the most kid friendly is Burt’s farm…Opens September 1st

Berry Patch Farms. 786 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock, GA 30188, 770-926-0561
Hayride and pumpkin patch. They have picnic tables for lunch and a LITTLE petting zoo. They have farm animals and hayrides (all free) and blueberry and blackberry picking in the summer. Closed for 2 weeks in August..Pumpkins start early September…

Washington Farms. 5691 Hog Mountain Road (Hwy.53), Watkinsville, GA 30677 (706) 769-0627
Washington Farms opens up their Athens/Watkinsville Farm for pumpkins in late fall…. Kids love the pumpkins, hayrides, a petting zoo, regular play ground, a corn maze, and the cow train which was a hit with my little ones. They are not open on Sundays, though, so you would want to go early on a Saturday or not too close to Halloween or it will get crowded. Opens late September for pumpkin picking…

Cagle's Dairy Farm. 362 Stringer Rd., Canton, GA 30115 (770)345-5591
They show how they fill milk containers. Let you feed calves. Hay ride through the farm with a sheep dog demonstration. The hay ride stops at the pig race. They race for chocolate milk. There is a victory garden, original from WWII, that is explained. Last year there was a big bouncy for the kids. Extra fee for a pony ride. You can buy sausage sandwich and BBQ sandwich. Purchase already picked pumpkins. A fun little country store. Okay you see I enjoy the experience at Cagle's Farm

Uncle Bob's Farms. 3781 E. Happy Valley Circle, Newnan, GA 30263770-253-8100
Tractor-pulled hayrides, Choose pumpkins from their extensive store area, or roam the fields to find your own. Their store also carries lots of other farm products and homemade, as well as Halloween/fall decorations.Additionally, there was a haybale maze for small kids, cornstalk maze for bigger ones, puppet show (cheesy, but the kids liked it), spinning demonstration (the farmer's wife spun hair directly off the bunny's hind end while it sat on her alp, which made an impression on me if not the kids), and if I remember correctly bees & honey demo (although that might have been at another farm, I'm not sure). It was a nice drive out there, as well. Opens for pumpkins late September….

Southern Belle Farm. 1658 Turner Church Rd. McDonough, GA 30252 (770) 898-0999
They have a hayride thru the pumpkin patch. Opens late September...

Look at the Georgia Organics website ( Their directory has farms listed. Directory is online and you can pick up a hard copy at Whole Foods. New directory released occasionally.