Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thrifty Travel Tips: The Big Island

As I mentioned here, we recently returned from a trip to Hawaii. It was a fantastic trip. In case any of you are looking to plan a trip to the Big Island, I thought I'd share some of our favorite places and some thrifty tips.
View from Huggo's on the Rocks
Huggo's on the Rocks: This is the less-formal of the two Huggo's restaurants in Kailua Kona. They have a really good happy hour from 4-6pm that includes beer, some mixed drinks, and some food. The location can't be beat, it's literally right on the ocean, the floor is even covered in sand. We went to Huggo's on the Rocks twice, once with a large group for dinner and once just the three of us for happy hour. The sunset was gorgeous and there is live Hawaiian music every night. Our rental car company had given us a 10% off coupon, so we were able to use that for dinner, too.

Some of our farmer's market purchases
Keauhou Farmer's Market: We went to this farmer's market, which was right across the street from our condo, on Saturday morning. There were many local vendors offering everything from fresh fish to avacados to coffee to interesting tropical fruits. We even had a fresh-made California roll. It was really interesting to see and try several fruits we had never seen before. Everyone was friendly, and all-in-all it was a great way to spend a morning.

Kona Coast Resort: As I mentioned in this post, staying in a condo with a full kitchen and laundry is a great thrifty travel strategy. We were able to cook our own meals and the washer and dryer meant we could use our cloth diapers during that part of the vacation. The price was great, too. Kona Coast Resort had lovely grounds, gas grills for guests to use, and several pools and hot tubs. The pools could use a facelift, but all in all it was a wonderful place to stay.

Hapuna Beach State Park: This was one of the best beaches we visited. It was wide and sandy, with small waves. There was no fee to get in and there were places to change, restrooms, as well as a snack bar. The only downside was very little shade on the beach, but there were covered picnic areas nearby.

Harold H Higashihara Park: AMAZING park and playground for kids! We spent two mornings here with our toddler. It's the biggest wooden playground I have ever seen. There is a special toddler area, baseball diamond, picnic ground, and bathrooms. If you're looking for a place for your kids to run off some energy, this is the place to go.
Such a fun park, and the view isn't bad either

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thrifty Recipe- Pasta Salad

Photo From

In the summer, there is nothing like a cool pasta salad with lunch or dinner. It's relatively easy to make, portable, and can be changed and tweaked to fit your guests. In the past I have bought a ready-made kit, but have realized that it's thriftier and more fun to come up with my own combinations. Here are some suggestions of ingredients and mix-ins, what are some of your favorites?

Pasta Salad Formula: Base + Mix-Ins + Sauce= Pasta Salad

Base: One box of rainbow rotelle or other hefty pasta such as macaroni, cooked until done but still firm. Rinse and allow to drain and cool.

Mix-Ins: There are so many ways you can go here. Some suggestions are below.
  • Diced bell pepper
  • Diced onion (green or white)
  • Pepperoni pieces, quartered
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Cooked ham, diced
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Olives
  • Feta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Chunks of cooked chicken
  • Chopped spinach

  • Tomato juice, makes it more of a gazpacho
  • Italian salad dressing, here is a recipe if you are interested in making your own
  • A combination of sour cream, mayonaise, or plain yogurt for a creamy salad
  • Vinegar and oil
Just mix the combination of Base + Mix-Ins + Sauce together, amount of mix-ins and sauce vary based on your taste.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Maybe I've got this all wrong?

A couple weekends ago I heard a segment on Marketplace Money that really got me thinking. The author basically recommends that instead of cutting down on expensive lattes and finding other ways to save a little money, we should focus our time and energy on bringing in more income. In his estimation, this will be a better use of our time and will allow us to continue to live the lifestyle we want. Some ideas include giving private music or other lessons, helping create PowerPoint presentations, or organizing people's closets.

I see some flaws in this theory. First of all, if we increase our income but still continue to live just at or above our means, we will still have the same problem and will just have to keep earning more money. It seems to me that a combination of cutting our spending and increasing our income would be the best strategy. Come to think of it, I think that we could possibly solve the current fiscal problems in our state (Minnesota, where our state government is currently shut down), as well as national budgets with a similar approach!

So, you're looking to earn some extra income, where to start? If you have professional or technical skills, try, which offers a way to connect businesses who are looking for writers, accountants, and many other skilled professionals to complete specific jobs or assignments. Craigslist has a section with similar postings. If you have some time, possibly look into direct selling such as Pampered Chef. If you're a stay-at-home parent, maybe you could watch another child some days. Or if you are handy you could do some maintenance or fix-it work for friends or neighbors.

Just don't forget to stay thrifty once the extra money comes rolling in.

Link to transcript of the segment: A new way to save Marketplace From American Public Media

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Extreme Couponing: My Edition

Colgate T/P TOTL Plus Whte PST Size: 6 oz
Image from Google Product Search

As you may recall, I posted here about extreme couponers who go nuts buying items with multiple coupons and then storing the items until they need them. I decided to give it a limited try.

My first target has been toothpaste. It's something we use all the time, is easy to store, and we are not picky about the specific brand and type. Over the past few weeks, I have been clipping most manufacturer's coupons I have seen for toothpaste. This week, my first opportunity presented itself. A Target coupon book came in the mail which contained a $1 off Colgate Total coupon. Ha!  I had clipped a $1 off Colgate manufacturer's coupon two weeks ago. I marched over to Target and picked up a tube of Colgate Total for 64 cents by combining the two coupons.

A small victory, but I will take it. Do you have any recent coupon victories?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Post-Vacation Recovery

We just returned from a two-week vacation (one excuse for so few blog posts lately).  It was an amazing, memorable trip but wow we are now in major vacation recovery mode. I've been thinking about all of the things I/we have to do to recover from vacation. Here are a few:

Food and Drinks: We spent over half of the vacation in a rental condominium with full kitchen so that we could cook our own food and avoid eating out every meal. Still, the time away, with new restaurants, fast food, and fruity adult beverages and local brews to tempt us, left us in need of some detoxing. My usual strategy when we get home from time away, even if it's just a weekend road trip, is to cook and eat as healthily as possible for the first week. My trip to the grocery store when we got home included lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and my meal plan for the week includes fish, chicken, and milk or water to drink instead of beer or mai tai's.

Spending: When on vacation, it's OK and expected to spend more money than when we're at home (and we budgeted for it). Fun outings that can't be done at home (like diving with manta rays) come up, as do extras, like that fun new candy or flavor of ice cream you don't see at home or a cold bottle of water when you're out and about. Now that we're home, it's back to buying only what's on the list and planning out our bigger expenditures ahead of time.

The Random Things: There are a bunch of random things that have taken up my time since we got home. Things like laundry, opening two weeks worth of mail, organizing the almost 1000 photos we took, catching up on email and blogs, even adjusting our family's sleep schedule have all taken time. I'm almost there, though.

Soon to come is a post wrapping up the thrifty strategies we used while on vacation, as well as some specific reviews and suggestions if you're ever traveling to The Big Island of Hawaii.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thrifty Strategy: Buying kid-sized clothes for adults

Right before a recent vacation, I realized I might need "water shoes," those flexible shoes that you can wear on the beach or in the water when there are a lot of rocks. I headed to Target to see what I could find. It turned out that the boys size XL shoes fit me better than the women's size 7, and were about $4 cheaper. Can you guess which one I picked?

I've used the same thrifty strategy when buying souvenir t-shirts, often the kids size large or extra large is the same size as an adult small, but costs less and sometimes has cuter design choices.

Have you found any similar deals?