A Week in the Life: Make-ahead smoothies, renting textbooks and returning my life away

by Melody on September 16, 2013

Welcome to a Week in the Life.  Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money or time.  Or both.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.


Make Ahead Smoothie Kits

My little brother (operative word, he’s over 6′ and has the world’s largest feet) has moved in with us while he plays basketball for our local community college and so our grocery shopping and menu planning has changed significantly.

We eat a lot of eggs for breakfast and he has trouble digesting them, so we found an easy alternative for him that he can make on his own and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort.  He is really trying to eat clean, so we wanted something healthy with minimal sugar.  Enter breakfast smoothies!  We throw together a week’s worth of smoothie ingredients (spinach, banana, frozen fruit) in a Ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer.  All he has to do is grab one out each morning, add a little liquid (generally just water) and blend.

For tons of smoothie ideas and a great breakdown of the “smoothie kit”, click here.  The only thing that would make this easier is a Vitamix.  Someone go buy me one.


The Queen of Returns

My husband makes mad fun of me for never trying anything on and returning just about everything.  Granted, I do have this problem, but I don’t think it’s a bad one to have.  I am a stickler for saving receipts and returning anything under the sun that can possibly be returned.  I keep a bag on the counter by my bills and paperwork for “return” items.

While you might not think this is noteworthy, I return things that others might overlook.  I bought a pair of $3 flip-flops at Walmart for a rafting trip and ended up not using them. Return.  Accidentally picked up the wrong athletic tape at Rite Aid. Return.  It may not seem like much, but those items would have collected dust in our house until I eventually donated them or threw them out.

The only caveat here is that I try to not make a trip just to make a return, especially if it’s a lower value item.  I try really hard to combine errands to make it worth it.


Renting over buying

As I mentioned before, my brother moved in with us and is starting college soon.  I’ve been helping him get ready for school, so we’ve been looking into book options.  Obviously you can buy brand new, but most of the books out there are CRAZY expensive.  We looked into buying used and stumbled across an option to RENT on Amazon.  What?

We were able to pick up a few books for well over 60% off the brand new price and return shipping is free!  They give you more than enough time to get the books back after the semester is over as well, I’m super excited about this option.  If you are interested, just search by book name or ISBN number and the rent option will show up if available.

If you are a student, you can sign up for Amazon Student FREE for 6 months.  This comes with free 2-day shipping on all Prime eligible items, exclusive deals for students, unlimited streaming of your favorite shows and more.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

Are you a compulsive returner like me?

Do you have any great suggestions for finding inexpensive college textbooks?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

amanda September 16, 2013 at 6:29 am

Dealoz.com compiles multiple websites to get you the best deal on textbooks. You have the rent, new or used option as well. It’s also a great site to see who will give you the most $$ for your book when you’re done!


Kim September 16, 2013 at 7:04 am

I majored in English, so had to buy a bunch of “novels” (classics). I found the best prices at Powell’s in Portland and then was able to sell back the ones I didn’t want to keep after the classes to OSU’s bookstore for more than I paid sometimes! My husband teases me this only works with English classes 🙂

I am also total returner. I exchanged defective sewing needles to JoAnn for $1.50 and garage wall hooks we didn’t use to Home Depot for under $1 just this last week, while picking up other things of course! No point in any amount of money being wasted.


Alison September 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

I most often used half.com for textbooks (part of eBay). Used books, and you can sell them back on the site also. I actually made $10 profit on a math book one year! It has been about 4 years since undergrad so I’m hoping this is still a useful suggestion!

Will definitely use the smoothie bags, I just froze a bunch of fresh local fruit, too!


Angela R September 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

My husband is in law school and had had great luck buying and selling textbooks on Amazon. Some of his textbooks he’s actually made a profit on! He just found one for $17. New it would have been $200!


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