Free Sam’s Club Membership- Today Is the Last Day, 9/29/15

Sam’s Club has a current promotion for a free membership for new moms.  Pregnant mothers and mothers with children one year old or less are eligible. Today (Tuesday 9/29) is the last day, so you need to move fast.

Here’s what to do:
1. Go to the Sam’s Club email contact page here.
2. Fill out the form.  It looks like this:freesamsclub

3. In the “Question” section, make sure to include the following:
-your complete name
-your email address
-your phone number
-your complete mailing address
-that you would like to receive a free New Mom’s Membership Promotion.
– why you qualify.  I explained that I had a baby in May 2015.
I know that you filled in your information at the top, but make sure to write your complete name, email address, phone and mailing address again. This is important.
4. They will mail you a voucher for a free membership redeemable before 11/15/15.  My emailed response looked like this:
Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 4.06.57 PM

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Posted in Laura's Cheapskate Secrets by with no comments yet.

How to Fix a Spiral Bound Book With A Missing Cover

I homeschool. I don’t write too much about our homeschool adventures because I’m learning as I go.  I’ll make an exception here and tell you how I figured out to fix a spiral bound book with a missing cover.

I have a love-hate relationship with spiral-bound books.  Your homeschool, like mine, may include several.  After making their way down the line (or down a few lines like this hand-me-down book I’m talking about today) you may loose the cover or pages.  We’re fixing it.

Gather your supplies.  You’ll need:
* the spiral book
* a scissor
* scrap ribbon pieces
* a cheap three prong folder (These are maybe 25¢.)

Here’s how to do it:
1. Loosen folded “spine” of the three prong folder.  Basically, you want to make it able to have a thickness at the folded part and not be just flat.
2. Use the holes on one side of the “inside paper holder” to tie the spiral book into place.
3. Use the holes on the other side of the “inside paper holder” to tie the spiral book into place.
4. You now have a new cover on your spiral bound book!  (It’s sure cheaper than buying a replacement book.)

Here’s a recap of how to recover a spiral bound book with pictures:

Step one: Gather supplies and loosen the "spine" of the three prong folder.

Step one: Gather supplies and loosen the “spine” of the three prong folder.

how to cover spiral bound book

Step Two: Tie the spiral book into the prong holes of the folder on the front side.

spiral bound recover

Step Three

spiral bound recover

Step Three: Tie the back of the spiral bound book into the back of the folder, putting the ribbon into the holes for the prongs. (Using the assistance of little fingers helps to hold the knot in tightly.)

spiral bound recover

Step Four: You will have a new cover on your spiral bound book. Label it if you desire. Of course it’s not professional, but it will keep additional pages from coming unbound, it will stay nice on the shelf and it only costs about 30¢.

spiral bound recover

Here’s the finished product. Take a look inside a random page.


Posted in Homeschooling in Our Little School on the Prairie, Laura's Cheapskate Secrets and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

Free Long Distance for DSL

Many of you probably aren’t like me long distance-wise, but for anyone who is, I will tell you the secret to free long distance.

Here is my situation:
1.  We live in a rural area so we do not have many local phone carriers or internet service providers available.
2.  I’m actually a fan of the local phone company because they are local and provide good jobs to the community.  They do not, however, offer an unlimited long distance package like the local phone companies do in most other areas.
3.  We have DSL through that local telephone company.  They have the best service and best value here for internet access.
4. Cell phones do not work in my house.  We’ve tried GSMs and CDMAs and they both don’t work here.
5. My loved ones live in far away place like New Jersey and New York.

Let me translate what this means for us:
1.  There are no long distance unlimited packages available here.
2.  We make a lot of long distance calls.
3.  We can’t make long distance calls on cell phones in the house.
4.  If we got VoIp or Magic Jack or something, we’d have to still keep the phone line to have DSL to have internet so they can work.  We’d have to have two numbers for that.  Keeping an extra phone line would eat away at our savings, too.

Here you can see my corded phone, DSL modem/ router and my local phone book. Yes, that really is the local phone book and it covers an area geographically bigger than New Jersey. And, yes, I keep a corded phone.  My old one broke and I found this one at a garage sale for 25¢.  A corded phone is necessary out here because I like to have a usable phone if the power goes out (and my cell phone doesn't work in the house).  Also, being that the corded phone is attached to the wall by a phone wire and therefore cannot move, I always know where it is.  I have six kids six and under.  Phones migrate and sometimes they loose charge when they are lost.  (This happened when my old corded phone broke and my pasture was on fire three years ago.  I had to go to the neighbor's house to call 911.)

Here you can see my corded phone, DSL modem/ router and my local phone book.
Yes, that really is the local phone book and it covers an area geographically bigger than New Jersey.
And, yes, I keep a corded phone. My old one broke and I found this one at a garage sale for 25¢. A corded phone is necessary out here because I like to have a usable phone if the power goes out (and my cell phone doesn’t work in the house). Also, being that the corded phone is up high attached to the wall by a phone wire and therefore cannot move, I always know where it is. I have six kids six and under. Phones migrate and sometimes they loose charge when they are lost. (This happened when my old corded phone broke and my pasture was on fire three years ago. I had to go to the neighbor’s house to call 911.)

I have the cheapest long distance service that I could find (Pioneer) but at 2.9¢ per minute, long distance calls still add up.

I have solved the long distance problem with GoogleVoice. GoogleVoice is a free service which enables one to have free texts, multiple numbers rung by one number, free voicemail, etc.

I use GoogleVoice three ways:
1. I text from the house.  I am the worst text-er. Lots of people use texts and I have joined the bandwagon, too.  I used to not have texts on my phone plan.  Even now that I have free unlimited texts, I have no signal in my house and horrible technological abilities to actually send texts.  I sometimes text people using GoogleVoice from my desktop computer.  It’s free, works in my house and I get to use my real keyboard.
2. I use GoogleVoice to make free long distance calls.  I enter in the number and click “call” and they ring my home number.  When I pick up, I hear the other phone ringing and GoogleVoice connects me.  Yay! Free long distance.
3.  I use GoogleVoice differently for my very frequent calls.  We all have a few numbers that we call more frequently than others.  For me these most frequent calls are to my mom and a friend of mine in Jersey.  I have given them local-to-me GoogleVoice numbers that ring into their respective phone lines.  So when I call them, I simply dial that local-to-me phone number and they pick up their phone in New Jersey.  (Note that GoogleVoice only allows one GoogleVoice to ring into a phone line, so if your loved one also has another GoogleVoice number, it won’t work.)

This is a screenshot from my GoogleVoice screen.

This is a screenshot from my GoogleVoice screen.

(Also note that I had to set this up with a verification code and email.  It’s easy.)

(I do keep my Pioneer Long Distance available for emergencies, internet outages and calls that I know will only be two minutes. My bill runs about $3 per month.  This is doable.)

I realize that I’m probably one of the only people stuck in the stone age with DSL, no unlimited long distance available in my area, no cell phone service in my house and up until a few months ago pay-per-message texts, but if there is possibly anyone else out there somewhere like me, GoogleVoice may be your answer, too.


Posted in Also Known As Logistics and Management in a Large Family, Knowing What to Do to Feel a Little Bit Less Like the Woman in the Shoe, Laura's Cheapskate Secrets, Money Saving and Cheapskate Tips and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

Free Seed Starting Trays

snuffyI will make a confession here: free is my favorite price.

My farming dream includes my abundant garden where I grow organic heirloom vegetables.  I would grow all these vegetables from seed, seed that I have collected myself.  Of course right now this is just a dream, as I have failed and failed and failed with my garden.  I hope and pray that this year will be the year I will figure it all out.

One big key piece of the dream is to cultivate vegetable starter plants from seed.  There are basically three costly inputs to starting your own vegetable starter plants: seed, soil and seed starting trays.  (Of course there is water and sunshine, too, but I am referring to monetary input costs.)  Believe it or not, the most expensive “ingredient” is the seed starting tray.  Those seed starting trays will cost $1.00 or $2.00 each.

I am now going to share with you thee secret method to getting free seed starting trays…

1.  Go to the garden center section of a big box store, maybe Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-mart, etc.  Make sure it’s at the peak of the season.

2. Do the work for the garden center employees.  Consolidate trays of flower and vegetable starter plants.  You want to look for “holes” in the display trays and condense the trays to fill up some and empty others. Be mindful and respectful of the job that the employees have to do: make sure you only combine trays of the same type and price point and variety.  You are doing them a favor.  They are doing you a favor.

3. Ask permission of an employee to take the trays home.

stickynote2It’s that simple, really.

Here are a few other things to be aware of:
I have never received a “no”. Ever.
Some holder trays are better for seed starting than others.  It really just depends on the style used and there are probably hundreds of variables.
The big box stores throw these trays out anyway.  The trays do not have an inventory.  The grower purchases these trays by the truckload, so their cost for the trays is nominal.  They do not reuse these.
The “experts” will tell you to disinfect the trays with a solution of 10% bleach to kill any diseases present.
There’s probably a chemical residue on the trays because I can guarantee you that that grower bathed these starter plants in an assortment of chemical ick.
Isn’t it better to repurpose these trays rather than have them end up in a landfill?

You may also be wondering how I came up with my “system” for obtaining free seed starting trays… Once upon a time in Jersey a very long time ago, I used to manage garden centers.  I was Assistant Manager (and even Acting Store Manager briefly) of the now defunct Frank’s Nursery and Crafts.  I also ran the Garden Shop and Patio departments of a K-mart for an entire season.   I observed these trays being thrown out.  I threw them out myself as I consolidated the trays or delegated consolidating.  I managed the whole process of selling thousands of dollars worth of starter plants daily, ordering directly from the grower.  (Perhaps I should add that running garden centers was really the precursor to me becoming a farmer.  Perhaps that is a story I’ll share with you in the future.)

And of course, just because my kids are cute, I’m going to illustrate this….

Step One… Arrive at a Big Box Garden Center.

These "holes" are  what you want to look for...

Step two… These “holes” are what you want to look for… start consolidating here…

Again... look for "holes" in the display trays and then work on consolidating them.

Again… look for “holes” in the display trays and then work on consolidating them.

This is not a bad amount for April.  The garden center business peaks in May.

This is not a bad amount for April. The garden center business peaks in May.                       Step three…. Make sure you ask permission from store personnel before you take them home.

 

These are seed starting trays from two years ago.  My seeds never grew, but it wasn't because of the trays.

These are seed starting trays from two years ago. My seeds never grew, but it wasn’t because of the trays.

(Linked to The Barn Hop.)


Posted in Being a Good Environmental Stewards, Feeling Nostalgic, Laura's Cheapskate Secrets, The Garden and tagged , , by with no comments yet.