Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recycled School Savings

School time doesn't have to put you in debt. I challenge you to keep your credit cards in your wallet and open your eyes to new ways to buy what you need each school year. I have learned over the years that some things are needed and some things are not. Mostly not! 

Here are a few simple ways to save money. Even if you just try one thing I promise you it will keep that hard earned money in your wallet. 

Clean, Organize & Take Note
Pretty simple thing. Before you try to buy anything you need to go through your children's closet. If you have other children then you can hand down what is too small, store whats too large and donate what you cannot. Try calling your local schools to see if they have a program that gives clothes to needy families. 
Once cleaned go through and note what you need more of, sizes and remember to think all seasons not just summer clothes. Winter jackets, boots & etc. You might consider looking for things one size up if your child is still growing. 
Write everything down and keep this list in your purse/wallet or in your car. Being prepared will save you money in the long run and it means you won't miss out on a deal. To be safe make two list. 

Hand Me Downs
Once you have organized you will have things too big or too small.  Now you can hand those down to your younger or older kids. There are many times that we don't need to buy much at all.  One year we only needed school shoes and a few supplies. That was a awesome year! This year I will be able to hand down things to my oldest because we are only one size difference. Luckily she has a cool mom who has good taste. Not the case when I was young. Sorry true. lol. 

Friends & Family Hand Me Downs
During the summer I get the word out that if anyone has any clothes/shoes to give away to think of us.  I also ask around to friends/family who have children younger to mine. I let them all know that we go through our stuff and anything their kids can fit they can have. Helping each other helps save everyone money.  Every few months a co worker gives my husband bags of clothes for our girls. We also go through our twins things and give them to another co worker who has 2 little girls. My older girls give things to our neighbors girls. It makes us feel better to know someone else could use these things that we loved and cherished for so long.  So remember to get the word out and keep the list of names. Every bit helps to all.

Garage & yard sales
Okay here is where your list come in handy. I recommend hitting up yard/garage sales on any day. Fridays are good for key items you really need. Let's say a Winter coat. Those go quick and are expensive if you have to buy new. Same with shoes. Things you know you really need bad get first. Saturday are days to search for shirts, jeans and sweatshirts. These are always at garage sales for cheap and sometimes even in the free box.  Sundays are excellent days! People want to get rid of things and most the times give excellent deals.  Remember to bring small bills,  bring your own bags and never be afraid to ask for a cheaper price.  When you buy something remember to check it off the list (both list!). 

Thrift Stores
Sometimes you just can't find what you want at garage/yard sales. Thats when you hit your good old thrift store. I try to visit my favorite stores regularly and be friendly with the staff. This helps if I am looking for something in particular. I can just ask & they usually know me and show me what they have. Its good to know your favorite store workers no matter what store you are at. They always know where the best deals are! Thrift stores are a great place to find a certain style for that oh so picky child.  Keep an eye out for the weeks color tag thats 50% off or shop on the day thats 50% off.  Whatever the deal/day remember it & make note of it. And never forget that whatever the price its better than buying brand new retail prices.

It is only when I cannot find something in particular that I will look in retail stores.  For example yesterday I went to Target to buy socks and undies.  My girls hand down these things to each other. I wash them, I know where they have been and I know there are no harsh chemicals/toxins on them.  My older girls need new ones ever so often. They don't grow fast because were small people in general which comes in handy. I walked out of Target spending $22.49 for 19 pairs of socks and 9 pairs of undies. Those were sale prices and still too spendy if you ask me.  I also don't like the plastic involved in the packaging, toxic sprays which I'm sure they spray on the fabrics and don't get me started on the cotton to make the fabric which I'm sure are sprayed with pesticides and who knows what. But organics are just not a financial option for me right now. Oh how I wish it was though. 

That pretty much sums up how I save money each year. I have 4 daughters and if I bought everything new for each one of them I would be in some serious debt.  And the best part of this is that you can use these idea's for school supplies too! As your kids get older they will not need to share school supplies. Your child can reuse their school supplies each year saving you money. Except when they want you to buy a new fancy calculator that cost $100. That was my problem last year! That calculator will be taken care of and handed down to my next daughter when she needs it. We will continue to reduce, reuse and recycle what we have and donating what we don't need anymore. 

The idea that you need to buy "new" things each year just boggles my mind.  Be smart. Reuse and buy used. Its just another form of recycling! 

NW Portland Locals here are a few of my favorite places to buy used:

Goodwill's-185th/Baseline or Bethany/Cornel Hillsboro locations.
Goodwill Outlet-TV Highway/Century BLVD Hillsboro. It's my "go to" place to find everything. 
Plato's Closet 185th/Evergreen Hillsboro. Here you can shop for that teenager and not go broke. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Green Review- Soaps to Live By

One thing I will never go back to doing is buying cheap soap. When we kicked all toxins our of our life  I found that mainstream soap was packed full of toxins and waxy oils. This was a huge issue for us because we are a family of girls with allergies and eczema.  Just changing to non toxic natural soap had a huge impact on our skin. No more flare ups and no more dry flaky skin.  

I recently stumbled upon Soaps to Live By in my blogger network.  Andreea Ayer's the Founder of Soaps to Live By send me three 4 ounce bars of soaps to try and review for free. Soaps to Live By have amazing customer service (which makes me happy!) and has been great to work with.  

Here are some reasons why I'm falling in love with them

-Each organic bar of soap is handcrafted from natural and organic ingredients.  Things like coconut oil, sustainable palm oil and pure essential oils.  Each batch is hand poured, hand mixed and hand cut here in the USA. Now thats awesome!

-Their labels are made from something called "biostone" which is fully compostable and biodegradable.  Thats right stone not trees! Yeah for the environment not being harmed!!!

-They also have partnered with Trees for the Future.  Thats right! For every soap they sell a tree will be planted!!! I love my trees!

-Each bar of soap has a word of wisdom stamped on them. This makes the soap perfect for gift giving! 


Oatmeal Cloves (reviewed)
Peppermint Rosemary (reviewed)
Patchouli Orange
Orange Lime
Lemongrass Sage
Thyme Lemongrass
Lavender Rosemary
Shea Honey
Citrus Lavender (reviewed)

My Review

Peppermint Rosemary soap I decided to use in my shower.  There's nothing like waking up and a kick of peppermint does the trick.  It lathers so much so you could make the soap go further by using a loofa sponge or wash cloth.  Rinsing was easy peasy and took just a few seconds. I was squeaky clean but nice and soft once I was dry. Oh how I look forward to my morning shower. Ive even used this soap to shave with and it worked very well.  Why spend money on toxic yucky foam shaving cream when you can get double use from your bar of soap? Makes no sense to me. This soap is fantastic! 

Citrus Lavender soap I use at my kitchen sink.  Since Im in the garden each day I need a good soap to clean my dirty hands with. Needs to get my hands clean and leave them soft and ready for more.  I keep the soap on a cast iron soap holder that allows water to drip off the soap and the soap stays dry in return lasting longer.  That really is the key to making use of your soap as long as you can. A dry bar of soap! I just LOVE the smell of this soap. Just enough smell to keep you smelling fresh but not enough soap to make your food smell like it. Perfect for the kitchen. Nothing worst than toxic soap that oils stay on your hands and leach into your food you are making. Yuck! Not with this soap! 

Oatmeal Clove soap I decided to use when making my own laundry soap.  I simply took 2 pounds of baking soda and grated in 1/2 a bar of oatmeal clove soap. I use 1 tablespoon of my laundry soap in my HE washer.  Less if your clothes are not super dirty.   Wow was the smell amazing.  Again it cleaned my clothes great, smelled amazing but didn't have that lingering smell like toxic soaps do.  Nothing worst than walking by someone and being assaulted the the smell of their soaps or softeners. Seriously people you smell way too much and it makes me sick. Best part of this soap is that it has oats in it. Best softener you can get naturally!  Just a little secret most people don't know. Oats are a eczema girls best friend! Tip-Take a old sock and add 1 teaspoon of oats. Tie a knot and use this to wash your body in the shower. You will be amazed how soft your skin is afterwards. Or just buy this soap because all the work is done for you! 

My Verdict 
I really would recommend this soap highly. It has many uses than just washing your body.  It leaves our skin feeling amazing and smelling wonderful.  At $8.00 a bar it doesn't make me go broke. Better yet buy a gift set and save yourself $4.00!  Or even better sign up for the soap of the month and get 2 bars each month saving you $52.00 each year! You can also sign up for 3 months if you are not ready for a full year. There are ways to save money just gotta find whats right for you.  

$8 is about a average price of a good quality of soap. But as I pointed out there are some  huge differences in products. With Soaps to Live By you get a clean eco friendly purchase. Trees planted, compostable labels and lets not forget the amazing product. 

The only thing I really didn't like personally was that the soap came in with bubble wrap around the soap. I asked and here is what they told me.

"We used to send them without bubble wrap and they got damaged in the box, so we started the bubble wrap.  However, if someone buys only one or two soaps, we send in a bubble mailer and don't wrap it again.  It's the only way to send it without getting it damaged, unfortunately.  The only other option would be to put it in a box, but then we'll have to increase the price to $10.  So this was the best alternative to cost vs eco factor." 

I then asked if it was okay for a customer to request plastic free and okay with damage if any at all.  My gosh Beth Terry would be so proud of me! I feel as if I have a little Beth on my shoulder. She's always keeping me in check! lol

"Yes definitely! And I am even thinking of giving the option to order without a label at all (I have to see if I'm allowed to sell it without labels though). And I am always looking for more eco friendly and affordable alternatives to the bubble wrap, so if you have any suggestions, let me know! "

See what I mean about amazing customer service? They rock! 

Thats my only small issue otherwise I give this amazing company a big fat YES! 

Find them on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest too! 

Now go check them out here or find a local retailer here. What are you waiting for? 

Check out my disclosure to the left. These soaps were sent to me for free and all opinions are mine and only mine are are not influenced by money/companies what so ever.