Dollar Deals

People say a dollar doesn’t buy you anything anymore. Well, they obviously don’t shop at the dollar store…..or the bargain section at Target…..or the dollar bins in the Walmart toy area…..or the bakery when they are trying to get rid of bread that is close to the expiration date. Let me tout the benefits of each!

Dollar Stores

I LOVE Dollar stores. Seriously, it’s an affliction. It’s too bad the closest one to me is an hour away! It’s ok though, I get there when I can. I go to dollar store for a lot of different items, however there are a few things that I think get you the best value. The first are gift bags/ wrapping paper.

Have you tried to buy a gift bag at a party store? They ask some ridiculous prices for these things! I love the dollar store because you can find some really cute ones for a buck, but you can also sometimes find several of them (a bag of bags, if you will) bunched together and you still only pay a dollar. Especially around Christmas, I go to dollar stores for my bags, wrapping paper, ribbon, gift tags and bows. SUCH a better deal.

Another thing I get there is aluminum pans for cooking.

They have all different sizes at the store I go to and have several in each package. Score!

I have also found cute fabric bins for my kid’s socks and toys there.

Dollar Stores are also a great place to go for kids coloring books, party supplies, and seasonal decorations.

Target/ Walmart Discount Sections

Now these are the classic ‘impulse purchase’ areas (especially Target who cleverly slips this section right next to the shopping carts in the front). I have found myself sucked into this section and holding 4 containers that ‘look like old fashioned popcorn bins’ on more than one occasion. Have you seen these things?

They are so cute, but really? I have to then pry them from my hands and convince myself that I need no such thing! Anyways, be careful when you wander into these sections. However, you can find some great items. I have found perfect stocking stuffers for the kids here. I have found frisbees for the dogs here. I have found those socks that are so soft you feel like you’re stepping into a cloud here. If you are careful, you can great deals without buying unnecessary items. And in the Walmart toy section, they have a little area with cheap toys. These are perfect for my 3 year old’s prize basket. When he gets a certain number of stickers, he gets something special. Sometimes it’s a popsicle, sometimes it’s a cartoon, sometimes it’s a toy from this basket:

Silly little things, really. But to a 3 year old, the best prizes ever! And nothing in the basket ever costs over $1.00.

Bakery at Your Grocery Store

My husband and I buy the bread from the bakery at the grocery store because it tastes soooo much better. The Italian loaves we get are only $1.60 at their highest price. However, if they have some at the end of the day, they will discount them. Otherwise they have to throw them out. There are also entire stores dedicated to ‘almost expired’ bakery items. I don’t have one near me anymore, but in Arizona I used to go to one all the time. It was great….breads, pastries, bagels, desserts….all over half off.  And when you buy these items, you are not only saving money; you are keeping the items out of the trash!

Now I am not advocating buying items just because they are a dollar. That is how we all get too much stuff! What I am advocating is planning ahead, considering your options and buying certain items in bulk because you know you will use them.

So don’t listen to those people complaining about the dollar. It can still go far!


Time for Change

So this weekend was time to take a break from the routine. Stop the work, stop the cleaning, stop the organizing and get out of town. Me and the fam escaped for a one night mini vacay to Pagosa Springs, CO. And how did we pay for the majority of our trip? Quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies friends! We have been planning this trip for a while and had already booked the hotel, but we still had to pay for everything else. So last week, we gathered up the change we had around the house and had ourselves a counting party!

We keep little containers for change around the house so it doesn’t end up hanging out on the counter or in our pockets. We prefer to use pretty containers so they blend into the decor and can be functional AND beautiful.

I’m so pretty!

We rolled the change into coin rolls, exchanged them at the bank and had enough money for road trip groceries, a tank of gas and a decent dinner! This was perfect! We just did a one night trip and we made lunches for both driving days. Our hotel offered free breakfast so we only had to eat out once. Instead of doing costly activities, we walked along the river, stopped at two different playgrounds for the kids and sat in the garden at our hotel in the evening. On the way back, we stopped at the Sand Dunes National Park, which only costs $3.00 per adult (and kids are free)!

Now why should you care about all of this? :) Well, this post is about two things that are very important to me (and I think to most people)…Spending and Saving. That is, SPENDING time with family and SAVING money. I think it’s so important to have a clean and organized house that makes you feel comfortable and secure. However, what good is that if you don’t invest time with the ones you love and also plan for your future. I will be back with the organizing this week, I just needed to post about what is most important to me in the long run!

Sunday Survey Time!

Who gets the credit?

A couple of years ago, I got a call from Visa asking me if I just purchased 20 tires in Georgia. Um, no I did not. Not only did I not buy 20 tires in Georgia, but I was at my sister’s house in Connecticut. It turns out that someone had skimmed my credit card number and created a fake card for their tire shopping extravaganza. Luckily, the purchase of 20 tires alerted a clerk who was on the ball and they reported it to Visa. I was refunded for the tires and my card was canceled.

About 6 months ago, I tried to buy gas and my card had been deactivated. It turns out a grocery store in my area had their computers hacked into and hundreds of credit card numbers were stolen. I quickly called the credit card company and the verdict?…another fake card fabricated for someone’s personal shopping spree in Florida. Again, no I did NOT try to spend $200 at the Build-A-Bear Workshop. Seriously? Who steals a credit card so they can buy 15 talking stuffed animals. Weird.

Not My Kind of Shopping Spree!

The point is that you never know who is gaining access to your personal information. It is super important to stay on top of these things as much as possible. Clearly you can’t prevent every Build a Bear or tire enthusiast from skimming your info, but there are certain things you can do to make sure your personal information and credit are staying intact.

One of the most important things you can do is check your credit through the 3 credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. There is so much information out there about how to check your credit. From years of research, here is what I know: There is only ONE authorized and free place to check your credit. This site is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission, whose main mission is to maintain fair business practices for consumers.

From, you can process each of the 3 reports one time per year. You can get them all at once or you can spread them out throughout the year. I choose to pull mine every four months. In January, I pull Equifax. In May, I pull Experian. In September, I pull TransUnion.  That way, I get a more consistent idea of what is going on with my financial security.

Keep in mind that this service does not provide your actual credit score (called a FICO score). This is the number that lenders look at to determine eligibility for a loan.  If you are considering applying for a loan or would like your FICO score, Equifax can process reports from all 3 credit agencies for a fee.

However, if you’re not in the market for a loan, you probably don’t need to obtain this number every 4 months. What the free reports from will get you is a TON of information, including open accounts, accounts in bad standing or collections, flags on your account, previous names and addresses you have used, and much more. Once you are able to review all of this information, you have the right to dispute anything you feel is incorrect. It’s just a smart and free way to keep track of your accounts and also see what lenders may be reviewing regarding your financial history.

Here is my warning: Do NOT trust the commercials and websites that promise you free credit reports, such as Most of these sites will either make you sign up for an ongoing service that you have to pay for (they say you can easily cancel, but are counting on you to forget) or they inundate you with credit card offers because they are actually gathering your information for marketing purposes. Plus, they have super annoying commercials with songs that haunt your dreams. Just remember…the songs will fill your head, the credit card offers will fill your inbox and the monthly charges will fill your credit card bill. Don’t do it!

Only use to pull your credit if you want to keep your information safe and have the service free of charge.

Now what does this have to do with Neatening Your Nest? Lots of things, my friend. Financial stability is one of the hallmarks of an organized and stress free home. You owe it to yourself and your family to ensure you are doing whatever you can to maintain control of what is yours. It also gives you a clearer sense of where your money is going, allows you to get a big picture of money you may currently owe, makes you follow up on accounts you have closed, and lets you make sure that no one has opened any unauthorized accounts. It’s also easy and free, so why wouldn’t you do it. I just pulled my Experian report and it took me less than 15 minutes to obtain and review it.

So, who should get the credit for YOUR credit. YOU should! :)