Archives for May 2011

Create a Price Book to Save Money on Groceries

A few years ago I started reading a blog that posted grocery store coupon match-ups. After reading for several weeks I got my list together, clipped my coupons, and headed to the store to stock up on all sorts of free products. Except when I arrived at the store nothing was free, or even close to free. In fact only one of the six deals I was trying to buy at the store was even a good deal compared to what I usually paid at the commissary.

The problem, the blog I was reading used prices from the midwest and I was shopping in the DC suburbs. The difference was amazing. I’m sure if this is true for me, then it is probably true for many of my readers as well. How do you know if a good deal you see on a blog, in a newspaper, or in a store flyer is really a good deal?

Create a grocery price book.

A grocery price books allows you to track the prices of groceries at the stores where you normally shop. Creating a grocery price book is a great way to know what the best prices are for your area! A few weeks ago I was talking grocery prices with some friends and the price of milk varied by $2. The stores where only three miles apart! Since the price of groceries varies so much based on location a price book is the best way to determine when to stock up.

For example, if the price of tuna never goes below $0.75 a can at your store, then you know to stock up when it goes on sale for $0.44 a can at If you can find tuna for $0.25 a can, then you don’t need to snag that deal. A price book works because you keep track of your best prices, not the prices of people who live 1,000 or even 100 miles away from you. You can use the grocery price book with the grocery store coupon match-ups to find the best deal for you!

By using a price book, you determine the best price and when to stock up. I have yet to create a price book for my new location, but it is on my summer to do list. Do you have a grocery price book? Has it saved you money on groceries?

Image source: Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

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

Explore Your City This Summer: Year of the Staycation

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite places to visit in Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland. I know many of you don’t live in Maryland and aren’t planning on visiting anytime soon. That’s why I’ve teamed up with over 80 bloggers to bring you some of the best places to visit all over the United States. Click on any of the links below to virtually visit a city near you or one you’ve been thinking of visiting this summer. You’ll find great fun and frugal places to visit this summer right in your own backyard!

Frugal Vacation Tips

Vacation or Stay-cation: Eating without Busting the Budget – Eat at Home

New England

Connecticut – Parenting Miracles
Boston, Massachusetts – ? Maven of Savin’
Manchester, New Hampshire – Common Sense with Money
Western Maine – Bubblegum and Lollipops


Erie, Pennsylvania – Growing Kids Ministry
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Somewhat Crunchy
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Family Balance Sheet
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York – Coupons, Deals and More
New Jersey – Oh! Diane


Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Indoor Garden Musings
Mansfield, Ohio – Live the Adventure
Cincinnati, Ohio – Savings Lifestyle~Cincinnati
Mount Vernon, Ohio – Living Better One Day at a Time
Dayton, Ohio – Savings Lifestyle~Dayton
Grand Rapids, Michigan – Kitchen Stewardship
Metro Detroit, Michigan – “Cents”able Momma
Oakland County, Michigan – Bargain Shopper Mom
Warren, Michigan – Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Forks, North Dakota – Frugal Front Porch
Indianapolis, Indiana – Bargain Briana
South Bend, Indiana – Excuse The Mess
Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri – Kansas City Mamas
St. Louis, Missouri – The Pickledpigsfeet
Branson, Missouri – Getting Freedom from Debt
Springfield, Missouri – I Think I Can
Rochester, Minnesota – Everyday Notions
York, Nebraska – Heavenly Homemakers
Omaha, Nebraska – Mom Endeavours
Madison, Wisconsin – Many Little Blessings
Oshkosh, Wisconsin – A Little Bit of This and That
Chicago, Illinois – Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Champaign, Illinois – Chambanamoms
Black Hills, South Dakota – Little House on the Prairie Living

South Central

Checotah, Oklahoma – Blessed With One Income
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Gadsden, Alabama – Aint Mimi
Dallas, Texas – Funky Faith Girl
Dallas, Texas – Grocery Shop For FREE
East Dallas, Texas – Surviving The Stores
Fort Worth, Texas – Smockity Frocks
Austin, Texas – Stetted
Houston, Texas – Moms Travel Tales
McKinney, Texas – Wisdom Begun
East Texas – The Full Pantry
Murfreesboro, Tennessee – Life in a Barn
Nashville, Tennessee – The Country Chic Cottage
Mobile, Alabama – A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
Birmingham, Alabama – iGoBOGO
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia – Teri Lynne Underwood
Alpharetta, Georgia – Cuponeando
Atlanta, Georgia – See Jamie Blog
Augusta, Georgia – Hyperactive Lu
Athens, Georgia and Mississippi – Tractors and Tire Swings
Little Rock, Arkansas – It’s Real Life

South Atlantic

Ft. Bragg, North Carolina – Military Wives Saving
Charlotte, North Carolina – The Carolina Clipper
Charleston, South Carolina – The Tween & Me
Greensboro, North Carolina – Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Jacksonville, Florida – Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida – Orlando’s Best Deals
Virginia Beach, Virginia – The Singley Fam Blog
Richmond, Virginia – Daily Dwelling
Hampton Roads, Virginia – A Home Made by Kiki
Charlottesville, Virginia – How to Have it All
Blackwater Falls State Park/Davis, West Virginia – Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling
Treasure Coast, Florida – The Cardamom’s Pod
Saint Augustine, Florida – Jypsie Visions
Lake Norman, North Carolina – Stretching Pennies Saving Dollars
Washington, DC – The WiC Project
Baltimore, Maryland – The Happy Housewife


Tucson, Arizona – Saving with Pam
Phoenix, Arizona – Mom Endeavors
Albuquerque, New Mexico – The Chou Life
Kalispell, Montana – Our Family Adventures
Salt Lake City, Utah – Just the 2 of Us
Thermopolis, Wyoming – The McDonald Family
Denver, Colorado – Denver Bargains
Colorado Springs, Colorado – Colorado Springs Bargains


San Diego, California – Life As Mom
Yosemite National Park, California -Handbook of Nature Study
Seattle, Washington – Queen Bee Coupons & Savings
Whidbey Island, Washington – Manning the Homefront
Olympia, Washington The Coupon Savant
Portland, Oregon – Frugal Living NW
Willamette Valley, Oregon – An Oregon Cottage

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

Staycation: Exploring Baltimore & Annapolis Maryland

Gas prices are rising and many vacations have turned into “Staycations.”  Save money this summer by exploring your local area. I’m sure there’s more to do than you realize.

If you live in the Baltimore/ Annapolis area there are numerous fun and inexpensive activities awaiting your family this summer. In fact there are so many great possibilities I couldn’t list them all, so here are my highlights.

If you don’t live in Maryland (or aren’t planning a trip in the near future) come back tomorrow. I’ll be sharing over 75 links to staycation articles written by bloggers around the web.

Year of the Staycation

Exploring Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland

Free Outdoor Movies in Little Italy

Every Friday starting July 1, movies are projected on the outside wall of Ciao Bella Restaurant. Live music starts at 7pm, the movie starts at 9pm. Movies are free and so is the popcorn.

Baltimore Farmer’s Market

Baltimore Farmer's Market

Every Sunday from April to December the Baltimore Farmer’s Market is located under the Jones Falls Expressway at Holliday and Saratoga streets. A trip to the Farmer’s Market is a great way to encourage your children to try new foods. My kids tend to eat food they discover at these markets.

Free parking is located at Guilford and Pleasant streets.

Inner Harbor

Baltimore Inner Harbor

I love strolling around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Even when it is hot there’s a breeze and people watching is always entertaining. The Inner Harbor is filled with shops and stores, but window shopping is just as fun.

The Walter’s Art Museum

Free admission except for special exhibits. There are numerous free art museums in the greater D.C./ Baltimore area, but if you live close to this one stop by for a visit.

Historic Ships of Baltimore

My husband promoted on the USS Constellation, and I highly recommend taking a tour of this ship. A pass to visit all five ships in the harbor is only $11 for adults, $5 for children, free for military and children under 6.

U.S. Naval Academy

2008 USNA Commissioning Week

The U.S. Naval Academy’s campus is beautiful and the museum admission is free. Check the security requirements and bring an id for access to the campus.

Quiet Waters Park

The Quiet Waters Park is beautiful and admission is only $6 a vehicle, free for military and their dependents. The park has a beautiful playground, plenty of green grass to throw the frisbee or stretch out and enjoy the weather, and art exhibits. You could easily spend the entire day at this park.

Chesapeake Children’s Museum

I wouldn’t pay full price to visit the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, but take advantage of discounted days. This museum is old, and could use a little face lift, but it is totally hands on and your kids will love it! From finger painting to puppet shows your kids can enjoy the day exploring the different rooms of the museum, with minimal supervision.

Wednesday Night Boat Races


Every Wednesday during the summer months, hundreds of sailors take to the Severn River for this weekly race. Get a great view of the finish line from the drawbridge that separates Annapolis from Eastport.

National Cryptologic Museum

This free museum located next door to the National Security Agency is a fun place to spend the afternoon. If you plan ahead you can arrange for a scavenger hunt for the kids and learn more about our nation’s cryptologic history.

National Wildlife Center

The National Wildlife Center is actually closer to D.C. than Baltimore or Annapolis, but I highly recommend visiting this refuge. My family went a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed their time. The crowds are minimal and it is free. There is a small charge for the guided tram tours.

My Favorite Places

These are not inexpensive but are on my short list of favorite places to visit in the Baltimore/ Annapolis area.


If you want a taste of “real Maryland” try Cantlers. Butcher paper tablecloths, waitresses that call you “hon” and “sugar” and full crabs tossed right on your table is all part of this experience. This place is a local favorite so be prepared to wait on a weekend evening just to get a parking space.

National Aquarium

The National Aquarium is expensive but well worth the price of admission. When we lived in Maryland we received a membership to the aquarium for Christmas. Personally, I think touring the aquarium takes more than one day if you have several children. My kids of every age loved our visits and learned a ton while exploring the multilevel building.

What are some of your favorite frugal activities in Maryland?

Photo Credits: Jeff Kubina, Radio Rover, ursusdave, The ClayTaurus

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

Turn Down Your Hot Water Heater (While on Vacation)

If you are traveling this summer you can save on your monthly electric bill by turning your hot water heater to its lowest setting or even turning it off while you are away.

It wasn’t until a few years ago I even checked my hot water heater’s thermostat. According to the US Department of Energy for every 10 degree reduction in temperature you save 3-5% in energy costs. Any temperature higher than 140 degrees is dangerous, most households can safely set their hot water heater at 125 degrees and still kill bacteria but not burn yourself if you let the water run too long.

Next time you head out of town, turn down or off your hot water heater. You will have saved a few cents on your next bill!

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