When you can't pay your bills..

No matter how frugal you try to be, there may come a time when you simply can't make ends meet. What do you do when you're faced with termination of a utility because you can't pay the bill? It's happened to me a few times throughout my life and it wasn't in my lack of planning or because I was spending frivelously. The fact was plain and simple, I didn't have enough money. So what can you do?

Prevention is key when it comes to termination notices. You know when you're behind on a bill so it couldn't hurt to call, explain your situation and ask for payment arrangements. A lot of companies are willing to work with you but you need to contact them before their service people are at your door to disconnect.

You might be able to pay the bill off by raising some quick cash. Some great ways to get cash quickly is to sell things you're not using on eBay or Craigslist. If you have enough time, you could have a yard sale. Another idea is to take some things to the pawn shop. Pawn shops take all sorts of items from video game consoles to jewelry so that might be a good way to get some cash and you'll be able to buy your items back later.

If you have no luck with payment arrangements or selling things, perhaps you could borrow a bit from a relative or friend. Now, I know this isn't what you want to do, but in order to keep your gas, electric or water going, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Make sure you have a clear agreement of when the money will be paid back and stick to it. If you pay them back as promised, if the time ever comes in the future (Lord forbid) that you need a loan again, they'll be more likely to help you out.


As a last resort you can always look into getting help from social service agencies. I know the Salvation Army will help people out with their utility bills if they fall short. You can contact your local Department of Health and Human resources to see if they have an emergency assistance program that you may qualify for. There are income guidelines to meet of course but it can't hurt to try.

Frugal Baby Tips

I was looking up how to make homemade baby wipes and found the most amazing frugal baby site that I wanted to pass along. There are fabulous tips including natural bug spray and info on homemade baby toys. If you have a baby or know someone who does, you won't want to miss Frugal Baby Tips!

I've done my shopping for the week and managed to save $100 more than usual. There are a few things that I still need to pick up from Walmart because Save a Lot didn't have them. I'll use coupons though and I'll surely spend less than normal. The problem with Walmart shopping is in my area it's always crowded, I'll have to take the kids with me and I always spend more than I should!

I'm also planning to stop by AC Moore craft store and use the 40% off coupon I printed out from SmartSource. Not sure what I'll be buying yet but I just love to browse that place.

I did my CVS shopping earlier in the week. I bought some bottled water, cereal bars and Coke and got back $16 in ECB. I might go back today for some more water and deodorant which will give me $4 more in ECB that I'll use for the new sale starting tomorrow! I'm really getting into this.

That's all I have for now. I need to do some laundry then I'm off to the storea! Wish me luck, it's Saturday so I know it's a jungle out there!

Flea Market Shopping 101

With money being tight, a flea market can be an excellent place to search for items you need. If you've never been to a flea market, you don't know what you're missing. There are so many treasures to be found! Don't let the rows and rows of tables intimidate you! You'll surely find some great deals but it does require a little effort and planning before you head out the door in search of treasure. Read on for some tips on how to shop at a flea market.

1) Do your homework. Find the right flea market depending on what you're looking for. Are you wanting to spruce up your living room on the cheap? Looking for kids clothes? Trying to find collectibles to resell? Sometimes different flea markets offer different items. Some have collectibles and antiques others offer newer items, clothing, electronics and whatnot, and then there are the ones that have a combination. Do an online search of "flea market and your state", ask friends and family and check local newspapers for flea market listings. There are also a lot of groups on Facebook for local yard sales and flea markets in your area. If you don't know how to get to a location, be sure to print out driving directions online.


2) Dress properly and be prepared for any kind of weather. Wear comfortable clothes. Jeans or shorts and a t-shirt will do nicely but make sure you have pockets for your cash. Comfortable shoes are a must as you'll be on your feet for long periods of time. If there's a chance of rain bring a raincoat with hood and if it's cooler bring a jacket. Leave the purse and umbrella behind because flea marketing is a hands on sport. Sunblock is very important as well so make sure you apply it and keep some in the car. Having a pair of sunglasses isn't a bad idea either.


3) Eat before going because flea market food is usually expensive, greasy and may give you the runs (sorry, it's true). Porta-potties aren't so great at flea markets either and some flea markets have no restrooms at all. You might want to pack a lunch because some flea markets have no concessions. Pack your cooler with sandwiches and drinks then leave it in your car. Consider a canteen style drinking container that attaches to your jeans or belt so your hands will be free to dig for treasures.

4) Arrive early if you're worried you'll miss out on the good stuff. It is common sense that being first in line will give you first pick at items. Don't discount arriving later in the day though. Many times you'll get a better deal toward the end of the day. A lot of sellers would rather let something go for cheap than pack it back up and lug it away.

5) Cash is king. Carry plenty of cash in all denominations. Most vendors won't accept personal checks or credit cards. Get a receipt when you buy a high ticket item to help you keep track of money spent.

6) Be careful who you take with you. You'll want as little distraction while you're bargain hunting as possible so if you do take someone, make sure they'll leave you alone and let you "snoop".

7) Learn to haggle. Don't be afraid to offer less for an item. Most flea market vendors expect it and usually mark items up just a bit for that reason. If something is already priced fairly, don't ask for too much off because it's insulting to the seller. Consider buying more than one item from a vendor and they will be more likely give you a discount. Don't feel bad about walking away if they won't deal with you. It's all part of playing the game.

8) Don't buy something just because it's cheap. Make sure you actually have a use for an item before handing over the cash. It's a shame to waste money on something that will end up in the attic or on a shelf at Goodwill. Ask yourself "Who will use this or where will it go?" If you can't answer, don't purchase.

9) Know what you're looking for and research it. If you're buying antiques and collectibles, have some idea of the value and condition. Consider making yourself a cheat sheet as a quick reference about the items you seek. I like to carry a running list of things that I want and need so I can keep my eyes open for those items.

10) If you're shopping to resell,use your cell phone to check completed listings on eBay.

11) Take a tape measure if you'll be buying clothing or trying to find a piece of furniture to fit in a specific space. Speaking of furniture, make sure you have a way to transport any larger pieces you may find.

What are your flea market shopping tips? Do you have any awesome finds to share? Tell us! =)