Archive for Savings Experiment Staff

Save on Back-to-School Lunches


Did you know…Back-to-school lunches don’t always have to set your budget back as well?

Let’s start with the big money-drainers…the pre-packaged snacks. Sure, they’re convenient, but those chips, pretzels and nuts can be marked up by as much as 50%! Instead, buy snacks in bulk or family size, and split the goodies into your own re-usable snack and sandwich baggies for each meal.

Next, we have the little juice boxes, notorious for their big mark-ups. Bottled drinks can cost up to $2 a pop. So to keep your kids hydrated without squeezing your budget dry, ditch the drink packs and invest in a re-suable bottle. Not only will you recoup your initial cost in the first week, you can use low-cost drink mixes and even start introducing healthier alternatives to soda.

Finally, a good time to find other re-suable containers is during back-to-school sales in early September. Make sure they’re dishwasher safe and are durable enough to last through the year. And don’t forget to have your kids test them out to make sure they can open and close easily too!

So when it comes to your little scholar, try out these tips, and you’ll see that you don’t have to spend big to pack a smart lunch.

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Category: back to school, food and grocery, packed lunches, Savings Experiment, school lunches

The Do’s and Don’ts of Saving with Bulk Bins

When we hear the phrase, “buy in bulk”, a lot of us think of warehouse clubs, where buying higher quantities gets you a lower bulk rate. But today, we’re going to talk about the bulk bin section of your grocery store – you know, that aisle with the clear bins filled with beans, nuts and grains? With bulk bins, buying only what you need is what’s going to help you bag the most savings!
Let’s start with spices. Things like cinnamon can be ridiculously overpriced in the bottle. If you look at how much you’re getting versus how much you pay, this stuff prices-out at around $60 a pound! But, head over to the bulk bins and you’ll only pay about $8 a pound! That’s a savings of over 80%! And this doesn’t only apply to spices! Grains, beans, dried fruit, coffee and tea can also be super-low cost in the bins.

Now before you start hoarding pounds of cinnamon in your basement, remember that all these ingredients have a shelf life, and the key to saving is to buy only what you need. Nuts and seeds can only hold for a few months unrefrigerated, and spices can go stale and lose flavor after about 6 months so it’s important to know how long your items will last and store them in a cool, dark and dry place.

Lastly, remember that just because some items are cheaper in the bulk bin section, it doesn’t mean that all items will be cheaper by default! Like with most groceries, make sure to compare the per-ounce or per-pound prices to make sure where the best deal lies.

So don’t let the lack of flashy packaging and marketing fool you! Check out the bulk bins, and you can save a lot of money, and keep your ingredients fresh as well.

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Category: bulk buying, bulk food deals, grocery savings, grocery shopping hacks, grocery shopping on a budget, grocery shopping tips, grocery store bulk bins, Savings Experiment

Save loads with homemade laundry detergent

Did you know: You can make a year’s worth of laundry detergent for you and your family for under $20?
An average family can spend over $70 on store-bought detergent per year. Making your own isn’t only better for the environment, it can save you over 80 percent — and it only takes three ingredients.

First, take one bar of natural soap (like castile or a gentle glycerin soap) and finely grate it with a cheese grater. Then, take the soap flakes and sprinkle in one cup of washing soda and one cup of borax, sealing your new cleaning concoction in an airtight container.

When it’s laundry time, mix in about 1-2 tablespoons per load. It doesn’t take much with this concentrated material — one batch of super-soap can get you through 40-50 loads.

Make more as needed, and you can even add powdered fabric softener and essential oils for a fresh scent. And yes, it’ll even work in your high-efficiency washing machine too.

Spend a few minutes making your own laundry detergent, and you and your family can see savings all year long.

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Category: cleaning products, did you know, home hacks, Laundry Detergent, savings experiment

The meal planning schedule that will save you hundreds — Savings Experiment


Meal planning — we all have a general ideal of how it works, though a lot of us never bother to do it. But if you’re looking to eat healthier and save money, it’s one of the easiest things you can do.

The most intimidating part of starting a meal plan can be planning it all out. So to keep things simple, plan just one meal a day in the beginning, like dinner.

Next, look at your calendar for the week and take note of any events that may affect your mealtimes, like friends coming to town on Monday or a trip to the beach on Saturday. Put it all down in your schedule, because this will help determine how many meals you need and how much time you’ll have for prep.

The next step is to create a master recipe list with all ingredients listed. Be sure to note the serving sizes so you’ll know how many meals to expect. Once you have a few ideas down, take a look at what ingredients you already have in your kitchen and cross those off the list. Whatever’s left, you go shopping for.

The final step is grocery shopping and meal prep. Since you’ll be preparing your meals in batch, pick a day where you’ll have the most time. Have all your containers ready to go and once you’re done cooking, fill them up and put them in the fridge.

Give these basic tips a try, and you’ll see that the more meals you plan, the more money you’ll save.

Related: 5 foodie sites that can find you fine meals for less

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Category: grocery shopping, meal planning

Easy and cheap ways to make your home more secure — Savings Experiment


Did you know: Home security doesn’t always need to come with a hefty price tag?

To make sure your home isn’t a target for burglars, use inexpensive plug-in timers to operate your lights and appliances while you’re away. Leaving a small desk radio on for 6 hours a day only costs about 22 cents per month.

Also look into motion-detecting floodlights, which cost as little as $12. Just remember to put them in a high enough place so they can’t be broken or dismantled easily.

Lastly, remember the most common entry points for thieves — the front, side and back doors, the first floor window, and the garage. Always keep these points locked and secure, and while you’re at it, put up home security stickers in these spots too. You can find these for as low as $10 on eBay. Having a few displayed will make anyone think twice before breaking in.

So remember, even if you don’t have a big budget, there are some low-cost ways you can protect your home.

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Category: did you know, home security, Savings Experiment

The Spend-Free Weekend Challenge


Meet Jonesy and Brittany, a young Californian couple. This adventure-seeking twosome is planning to embark on the ultimate trip — a two-month backpacking sojourn through South America — next year, but there’s one significant hitch. Thanks to their penchant for pricey weekend getaways, they can’t seem to save up the $8,000 they estimate they’ll need to make their dream vacation a reality.

That is, until The Savings Experiment team proposes a potential fix: spend-free weekends. Can Jonesy and Brittany enjoy time off without paying a single dollar? Check out the video above to find out!

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Category: savings experiment, spend-free weekend, weekend getaways

What’s the cheapest week to travel this summer?

Did you know: The last week of August can have the lowest prices for summer air travel?
Recent studies by Cheap Air and show that the final week before Labor Day is the cheapest time to fly to most destinations. During this time, tickets can be about $40 cheaper per person than in July. For a family of four, that’s savings of $160!

Also, book your flights around two months in advance if you want to get the best summer rates.

And it gets even better. According to Orbitz, hotel prices are at their lowest the last week of August as well. Rooms average over $15 less per night than in July. For longer stays, those savings could really add up!

So when it comes to summer travel, remember that the biggest savings come to those who wait!

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Category: cheap flights, cheap hotels, did you know, Savings Experiment, summer travel

Boost your wardrobe with Memorial Day sales — Savings Experiment


The Memorial Day sales frenzy is fast approaching. To separate the legit deals from the spending traps, you have to know what to buy. Here are a few bargains to hit — and a few to skip.

First, avoid buying summer items. While it may be tempting, items like BBQ grills and patio furniture don’t typically reach their lowest prices until the end of summer, so hold off until then if you can.

TVs and laptops are also cheaper towards the end of the year. Go for laptops during back-to-school sales in September, and TVs during Black Friday in November if you want to score bigger savings.

So what do you buy?

If you’re looking for the best deals, spring clothing and accessories is the way to go. You’ll see discounts ranging from 40 – 90 percent off at stores like Macy’s, H&M, J.C. Penney and Eddie Bauer. Plus, designer brands like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Steve Madden will also be slashing prices by up to 75 percent off.

Lastly, don’t overlook the stackable coupons and promo codes that typically accompany these sales and can take up to 40 percent off the already discounted price.

So make the most of your time and money this Memorial Day, because knowing what to buy can make all the difference.

Related: 6 best things to buy at Memorial Day sales

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Category: best deals, memorial day sales, Savings Experiment

Supercharge your garden with this miracle ingredient

Did you know: Epsom salt can be your garden’s greatest ally?

You can easily find this miracle ingredient at your local pharmacy for about $4 for a 3-lb bag.

While it’s typically used for pain and stress relief, it’s the magnesium found in Epsom salt that actually works wonders for plant growth.

To improve seed germination, simply add 1 cup per 100 square feet of tilled soil, or sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons into the hole before dropping in your seeds. This will not only lead to stronger seedlings, it will also encourage blossoming and fruit production, without the need for costly chemical fertilizers.

And to help deter slugs, snails and other vegetable bugs, try sprinkling some Epsom salt around the garden for natural pest control.

So give Epsom salt a try, and watch your garden — and savings — flourish!

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Category: did you know, gardening, pest control, Savings Experiment

Get financially fit with a home gym — Savings Experiment

We all need exercise, but that doesn’t mean you need a pricey gym membership to stay in shape. We’ve rounded up 3 essential items you can use to get fit without ever leaving the house.
Let’s start with a little strength training.

If you’re aiming to gain functional strength rather than big muscles, try using resistance bands. The bands may look simple, but they’re actually very versatile. Just hook them on a door, table or any immovable object and you can do a whole range of full body exercises.

Sets can cost anywhere from $10 to $150, so shop around to see which type works for you.

But all the muscles in the world won’t help you without a little endurance, which is why a good jump rope should also be on your list.

They’ve been used by athletes and boxers for years to build conditioning, speed and core strength. And best of all, they only cost about $10 and travel easily.

Last but certainly not least, there’s the stability ball. It’s one of the most important things to have in your home gym and you can find it for as low as $10. Ab crunches, squats, hamstring curls – this simple ball can do it all, while improving your core strength and balance.

So depending on what your goals are, you can still get fit and save big by incorporating these fitness essentials into your home gym.

Just don’t let your favorite TV show distract you!

Related: 6 low-cost aids for your fitness program

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Category: exercise equipment, home gym, savings experiment

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