Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 1/30 – 2/1

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

AmericanGirl

National Activities:

American Girl:  January In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During January, they include Grace’s Travel Tags craft, Grace’s Apron Craft & Cookie Decoration, Twists & Braids hands-on hairstyles, Princess Bitty Baby Story Time, Making Memories with Mom and Dad, Valentin Card Craft and more.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, January 31st: 10:15 AM – Recording Made Easy for iPad
  • Saturday, January 31st: 10:15 AM – Group Guitar Lesson

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, January 31st from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Masquerade Mask.

Michael’s Kids Club: Kids can enjoy making a craft every Saturday. This week they are making a Wooden Valentine’s Frame. Designed for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child). Starts at 10 AM and runs every 30 minutes on Saturdays. You can shop while they create.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, January 31st at 9:30 AM ~ This Saturday Junior Chefs will learn how to make Valentine’s Day No Bake Treats. Check the webpage for additional details and make a reservation.  For ages 5+.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

3 Free or Inexpensive Gardening Hacks

More and more people are gardening today because it is a way to put healthier food on the table. It’s also a great way to save money, get exercise, and have the whole family join in on doing something good for the home. In fact, just about the only way it could be improved upon is by using some inexpensive or free gardening hacks.

Free or Inexpensive Gardening Hacks

Mix in Free Mulch

In the springtime, cities and counties both trim branches and trees that have broken over the winter or are getting a little too close to power lines. They might also trim through the alleys to keep them clear for emergency vehicles and garbage trucks. Rather than leave the trimmings on the ground, they mulch them. The mulch is then dropped off at a place designated by the city or county. They then pass it along to citizens. Otherwise it simply builds up and creates a hazard. In most places you can simply pull in and ask for a truckload. Without leaving your vehicle, you will have a free truckload of mulch.

Take the mulch home and spread it through a garden that has a hard time retaining moisture. The mulch can be mixed in with the existing dirt to help the ground with moisture. While you don’t want your garden to stay wet, some areas are sandy and can benefit from the addition of mulch.  See another idea for cheap mulch here!

Grow_Food_from_Kitchen_Scraps

Start with Kitchen Scraps

Before heading to the garden supply store, take a look in your refrigerator. You may have items in your vegetable drawer that can be grown in the garden. Celery, potatoes, garlic, onions, scallions, and many more vegetables that you buy in the store can be grown from scraps.

Use Two Liter Bottles to Hold Your Plants

Whether you want to reduce waste or you just need to find a way to create a vertical garden, two liter bottles may be your ticket. One way to use them is to lay a two liter bottle on its side and cut the (now) top off. Use a nail to add some drainage holes. Hang the two liter bottles on the fence and fill with soil. Add seeds and water regularly. If you want to create multiple garden walls or you don’t have a fence, attach the two liter bottles to the inside of pallets that you have standing on their sides.

From saving the seeds from the vegetables you cook to making your own compost in the backyard, there are an unlimited number of inexpensive gardening hacks you can use. In fact, the more you garden, the more hacks you will find as you try to get creative and make use of your surroundings.

diy-compost-bin

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Follow our Homeschool Garden Pinterest Board for more gardening ideas & tips!

Follow The Happy Housewife’s board Homeschool Garden on Pinterest.

Photo credit, cc license

Rodney Southern is a long time content writer specializing in a wide array of niches both online and in print. His work has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com, The Sporting News and numerous others over an eleven plus year career. He also runs his own website on diabetes called Dashing Diabetes. He was the National Call for Content Winner for 2008. Southern resides in Greensboro, NC with his wife, Julie and identical twin daughters, Valerie and Brooke.


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 1/23 – 1/25

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

AmericanGirl

National Activities:

American Girl:  January In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During January, they include Grace’s Travel Tags craft, Grace’s Apron Craft & Cookie Decoration, Twists & Braids hands-on hairstyles, Princess Bitty Baby Story Time, Making Memories with Mom and Dad, Valentin Card Craft and more.

Barnes and Nobles: This Saturday, January 24th at 11am, participating locations will be holding an I Love You Night and Day Storytime!

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, January 24th: 10:15 AM – Recording Made Easy for Garage Band
  • Saturday, January 24th: 10:15 AM – Group Guitar Lesson

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, January 24th from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a My Friends Photo Board.

Michael’s Kids Club: Kids can enjoy making a craft every Saturday. This week they are making a Mardi Gras Frame Project. Designed for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child). Starts at 10 AM and runs every 30 minutes on Saturdays. You can shop while they create.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, January 24th at 9:30 AM ~ This Saturday Junior Chefs will learn all about making delicious finger foods. Check the webpage for additional details and make a reservation.  For ages 5+.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

The Secret to Lowering to Your Monthly Bills

Did you know that the price you are paying every month for services like cable, internet, cell phones, and other subscription plans might be too much? It could take a simple phone call to get your bills reduced and help you save more money.

My friend Mike has been doing this for years and when he shared his strategy with me a few weeks ago I told him I had to share it with my readers.

secret to lowering your bills

Think you don’t have time to make the calls? Mike has been keeping track of this for five years and figures his hourly wage for these phone calls is almost $200! I’d make a few phone calls for $200 and hour, wouldn’t you?

Below is the “script” he uses when he calls to get his bills lowered.
If you are like me, then you make 1 or 2 phone calls per month with various companies to get your bills reduced, fixed, or cancelled.

I want to give you a simple yet unconventional approach that has nearly always worked for me over the years. This script is so good it even got my wife a brand new iPhone after she dropped it and had no Apple Care (Apple is notoriously stingy on credits to customers).

Step one is utilizing gethuman.com or the gethuman app to figure out the most efficient way to get the right customer service representative (CSR) as quickly as possible. Gethuman is the machete that slices your way through the phone tree. Also, make sure you have your account number handy and that you are an “authorized user” on the account.

Step two is going to the right department. If the goal of my call is to get my bill slashed, credited, reduced, or cancelled then I always go to the CSRs in the “retention department.”

Sometimes you have to say things like “cancel my service” in order to get to this department. The reason I go to this department is because in nearly all call centers this department has the authorization to give you the best credits, deals, freebies, or other incentives to retain your business.

Step three is rapport and attitude. No matter how upset you are, you need to shelve it and be very likable. Imagine having a job where people are upset with you all day and how nice it is when someone interrupts that pattern with an empathetic mindset.

Smile while you are talking to them. Ask them for their name and address them by their name. Find one thing that you can connect with them about during the duration of your call.

Step four is finding three things to compliment their company, product, or business. If you are immediately irate and launch into your complaint than the CSR is likely going to think that there is a low probability of retaining you as a customer.

However, start by building up their company or product with three specific things that you have enjoyed about their brand. This softens the blow of step five while still having the CSR lean towards you being most likely retain-able.

Step five is communicate your complaint, frustration, or desire to cut costs. Be specific about the core issues that you have. Recall that you have already built up the company, their brand, their product… etc. in step four – this gives you the right to say that they haven’t measured up to their own standards.

The CSR will be more inclined to agree with your complaints because you’ve already built up the company, brand, product, or experience. The magic phrase here is that “I am really disappointed with company name here and I expect better and I know you are capable of it.”

A helpful phrase to soften your complaint is, “I know this isn’t your fault and I am not upset with you, BUT…”

Note:  If you have an actual tech support issue, retention will not be able to help you, but may be able to compensate you – but this will have to either be a phone transfer or a separate phone call.

Step six is be quiet and listen. The first rule of negotiation is that whomever speaks first… loses. Wait for the CSR to respond. Usually the CSR will respond with two or three things:

  1. An explanation of a policy that may have led to the bad service
  2. A quasi-sincere apology on behalf of the company
  3. An offer of some sort of refund, rebate, freebie, hidden/secret offer, one-time credit.

Step seven is actual negotiation. Sometimes CSRs will ask you what you want, try as best you can to lob the ball back into their court with something like, “I really don’t know, whatever is typical or customary for a circumstance like mine.”

Then wait and listen for their offer. If the offer is no good, then you can always say that it isn’t agreeable or acceptable to you and you can negotiate for more. However, if you spoke first, you will never get anything better offer than what you throw out there.
If all of these steps have failed, then there is the optional step eight.

Optional – Step eight is either asking to “escalate the phone call” or to hang up and start with step one with a different retention CSR.

Good luck with your calls. I keep a spreadsheet of my call logs to make sure that they are worth my time. My running five year average is $196/hour in credits, rebates, and/or other incentives.

I don’t make that in my job so these phone calls are still worth my time. The key is being able to get to the right human quickly, be winsome and efficient on the phone, and sticking to the script.

You can find Mike on the web at MichaelSGraham.com and Mike & Sara Graham Photography

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.