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I’ve recently started to clip coupons in an effort to save money on our groceries and toiletries. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about tricks I’d gathered from other bloggers about how to be coupon savvy. Since then, I’ve learned a few more tips to maximize savings through coupons.

As a recap, here are the tips from the first post (where each is explained in detail):

  • Coupon stack
  • Give up brand loyalty
  • Shop for bargains, not items
  • Shop at multiple stores
  • Make multiple purchases at the same store

Here are some more tips that I’ve recently learned, followed by their full explanation:

  • Let others do the work for you
  • Shop when other people don’t
  • Shop the same store at the same time each week

A. Let others do the work for you. I’ve been getting coupons from the Sunday paper for several weeks now. I have amassed a lot of coupons and it’s hard for me to keep them straight (serious couponers have sophisticated sorting systems, but I’m not yet sophisticated — in many ways!). But it turns out that I don’t really have to be so organized because there are lots and lots of people who blog about coupon savings (for example, see here, here, and here). These people are the really serious couponers, and they do the work for me. They write posts each week about the best deals at the major drugstores and grocery stores. So, for example, CVS drugstore changes their weekly deals beginning on Sundays. By Friday or Saturday of each week, the serious coupon bloggers have learned what items CVS will be offering for sale for the coming week, and have posted about the best deals — the ways to stack coupons by combining manufacturers’ coupons with items on sale or items that offer ExtraCare Bucks. These bloggers detail the source of the coupon to use to get the deal, and if available, they’ll even link to a coupon you can print online. Here’s a small example of a CVS deal for this week as posted on Frugal Coupon Living:

Old Spice or Gillette Body Wash – 10 to 18 oz $4 (get $4 ECBs) Limit 2
B1G1 Gillette or Old Spice P&G 5/2
= $4 MONEYMAKER wyb 2 with B1G1 coupon

Here’s what the above deal means in non-experienced-couponers’ language: CVS has Old Spice and Gillette Body Wash on sale for $4. If you buy one of these, you’ll get $4 ExtraCare Bucks (ECBs) back; but you’re limited to purchasing two body washes. The next line details the coupon to use: a buy-one-get-one-free (B1G1) coupon on Gillette or Old Spice from the Proctor & Gamble (P&G) coupon insert from the May 2nd Sunday paper. The third line details the savings: you’ll essentially be up $4 (MONEYMAKER) when you buy (wyb) two with the buy-one-get-one-free (B1G1) coupon. (Frankly, even if you don’t have a B1G1 coupon, this is still a good deal — buy a body wash for $4 and get back $4 ECBs to use on another purchase).
Now that I know about these serious coupon bloggers, I search their sites for the biggest store deals each week. These are deals for things that I can get for free (or close to it) or for items that will pay me back (the “moneymakers” like the Gillette deal above).

On Saturday night, I reviewed the CVS deals posted by the bloggers and went looking for the corresponding coupons I had. Luckily for me, I had the Old Spice/Gillette Body Wash coupon. While we don’t normally use body wash, if it is free or if CVS is essentially going to pay me to buy it, then I’ll buy the body wash, water it down, and use it as hand soap (or I could always donate toiletries to a local homeless shelter). In my online search for CVS deals, I found that I also had another coupon for cereal that I could use in conjunction with a sale at CVS. Finally, I wrote down a list of the deals I was going to get at CVS the next morning so that I wouldn’t get confused once I got there.

Here’s the step-by-step of what I did yesterday at CVS so you can get a sense of how I maximized some deals:

1. Scanned my ExtraCare card when I entered the store. I received 5 coupons which, although I didn’t use them yesterday, I’ve put aside for another time.
2. Bought two Gillette Body Washes using my B1G1 coupon. The retail price for each was $4.99; CVS was offering the body wash on sale for $4 and offering $4 in ExtraCare Bucks for each. The cashier rang up the items and the pre-tax total came to $8. I gave her my B1G1 coupon which, it turned out, was based on the retail price ($4.99) rather than the $4 sale price. So $4.99 was taken off my bill, making my pre-tax total $3.01. The cashier gave me my receipt which had my $8 in ECBs coupon at the bottom.
3. I went shopping for several items. First, I picked up some dental floss that was selling for $1.99 with $2 back in ECBs. Second, I had a coupon for $2.50 off $12 worth of CVS brand items, so I picked up the following:

  • 2 CVS pantiliners on sale from 2 for $1.49 to 2 for $.99
  • 1 package of CVS wet wipes (which, by the way, are the best wet wipes around) for $4.99 (on sale from $6.99)
  • 2 bars of CVS bar soap (knock-off of Cetaphil bar soap) for $3.79 each

I took my items to the cashier and the total came to $15.55. Then I handed the cashier the $2.50 coupon as well as the $8 ECBs I earned from the Gillette body wash. The final pre-tax total was $5.05. But, the dental floss gave me an additional $2 ECBs.
4. Then I completed a third transaction. Kellogg’s cereal was on sale from $4.49 to $1.66 a box. I had a coupon for $1 off 2 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal, which brought my pre-tax total down to $2.32 for both boxes of cereal. I then gave the cashier my $2 ECBs I had just earned from the dental floss, so I ended up paying $.32 for the cereal (before tax). (I hadn’t gone in to CVS knowing about the dental floss deal; I just found it while I was there. Had I known about the deal, I would have bought the dental floss with the Gillette body wash, received my $10 ECBs in one transaction, and then just bought the rest of my items in a second transaction rather than having to complete three transactions.)

Here are the items that earned me money: 

I paid $5 for these three items and earned $10 in ECBs

My $10 in ECBs (plus CVS sales and my two additional coupons) got me these seven items for $3.38:

Had I bought all of these items at their original retail price, I would have paid $35.02. Instead, my entire visit to CVS cost me $8.38 plus tax (which represents a 76% savings).

In addition to the weekly deals that coupon bloggers post, CVS also does the work for me to find special deals. Their weekly flier, which is included in the Sunday paper, not only lists their sale items for the week, but also lists which of their sale items have corresponding coupons in that Sunday’s paper. For these items, there’s a little black icon next to the sale item in the flier which depicts a pair of scissors and says “coupons in Sunday’s paper.” Couldn’t be simpler.

I’ve been consulting the coupon bloggers for weekly CVS deals for several weeks now, but I only just realized that there are also coupon bloggers who post the best coupon deals for my local grocery store. I found them yesterday by googling, “Harris Teeter coupon 5/19” (Harris Teeter changes their weekly specials on Wednesday of each week, so I knew the latest deals began on May 19th). Google returned several hits of coupon blog posts for current Harris Teeter deals (like this and this; if you’re near a Harris Teeter, both of these sites show some items you can get for free along with a link to printable coupons for those items). To find deals at the stores where you normally shop, just do a similar Google search for bloggers writing about those stores. I’ve routinely seen posts about weekly specials at Target, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens, just to name a few.

B. Shop when other people don’t. As a novice coupon user, at times I get confused by deals, especially when I’m trying to stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons. Store salespeople are very knowledgeable about coupons and, in my experience, are happy to help clear up confusion. I shop at odd times rather than during busy periods so that if I have a question or if I want to make multiple purchase transactions during a single visit, they will help me and not get annoyed.

C. Shop the same store at the same time each week. This tip goes hand-in-hand with shopping when other people don’t. I try to go to CVS first thing Sunday mornings. I’ve been doing this for several weeks now. I started going on Sunday mornings because it was convenient for me and I knew the store wouldn’t be crowded. An unexpected benefit of shopping on the same day and time each week is that the same salesperson is always working. She now knows me and we’ve developed a friendly relationship. She knows I’m trying to save money with coupons and has started pointing out deals to me or offering tips on how best to maximize the coupons issued by CVS. Frankly, who better to offer tips about the CVS deals than the cashiers? They see people successfully saving money all the time. Also, cashiers have the ability to override the register; that is, if a coupon doesn’t scan properly, the cashier has the ability to enter the discount manually. This happened to me twice yesterday and both times the cashier pleasantly gave me the discount herself. Though I’m sure she would have done this for any customer, she seemed particularly nice about it because we now have this friendly relationship. I, in turn, helped her out because she was trying to train a new cashier and needed someone to act as a “guinea pig” customer. I was more than happy to oblige because I got to hear her explain coupon stacking to the cashier trainee, which was certainly beneficial to me.

So that’s it for my newest tips on how to be coupon-smart. But what about you — are any of you experienced coupon users? Are any of you just starting out like me? Or, do some of you completely hate coupons (in which case, thanks for reading this crazy long blog post — you must really be Yikes Money fans!)?

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Many years ago I routinely clipped coupons, but over time I found that I wasn’t really saving any money. Instead, I fell into a trap wherein I’d buy an item just because I had a coupon for it. Sometimes I’d buy things I wouldn’t ordinarily purchase and didn’t really need. Other times I’d buy something I needed, like toilet paper, but would buy the name brand I had the coupon for even if the store brand without a coupon was less expensive.

With our new budget, however, I’m particularly interested in saving money on our groceries and toiletries. So I’ve been looking for tips online about how to maximize the use of coupons. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Coupon stack. Coupon stacking refers to using manufacturers’ coupons in conjunction with store discounts. When coupons are released by manufacturers, stores often follow suit by discounting the same item. Experienced couponers don’t use their valuable manufacturers’ coupons without additional discounts from the store. Manufacturers’ coupons are usually good for about 4-6 weeks. Grocery stores and drug stores offer discounts on items for one week and will rotate their discounts about every six weeks. If you have a coupon for an item that isn’t currently on sale at the store, wait to use your manufacturers’ coupon until it is on sale.
  2. Give up brand loyalty. If Colgate toothpaste is on sale and you have a coupon for it but you normally use Crest, well, buy Colgate. This makes sense to me, of course, but there are some products I’m not willing to give up because I love them. Below I detail how I broke this rule during my recent trip to CVS (although I still managed to get a pretty good deal).
  3. Shop for bargains, not items. By reviewing the coupons you have in conjunction with store discounts, choose to purchase items because they’re bargains, not necessarily because you need them at the moment. This is a tough idea for me because we are trying to live on a weekly budget. Why would I buy toilet paper this week if I don’t currently need it? The answer is because for items that will necessarily be needed and used at some point – like toilet paper – buy it when there is a bargain and stock up.
  4. Shop at multiple stores. To get the best bargains, it may be necessary to shop at multiple stores. For me, I do this sparingly because I just don’t have the time to drive to several different stores to do my shopping. That being said, I do routinely go to the grocery store for food items and the drugstore for toiletries in the course of a week. Also, I sometimes will go to our big chain grocery store followed by a trip to Trader Joe’s a few days later. I could easily plan better to save more by shopping for specific sale items at the different stores.
  5. Make multiple purchases at the same store. I address this money-saving technique below as I recount my recent trip to CVS pharmacy.

Putting My Coupons in Action

Using the tips above, I decided to see whether I could score some good deals using coupons. Mark bought a Sunday paper for $2.00 just so we could get the coupon inserts (I think if you’re really savvy, you could get the inserts for free by going to your local library and ask for them from one of the several Sunday papers they get). The Sunday paper also had the CVS flyer that lists the in-store sale items for the week.

CVS offers a free discount program called “Extra Care” which works in the same manner as grocery store customer discount cards. My Extra Care card hangs on my key chain and the teller scans it when I pay for my items. CVS only offers discounts to Extra Care members. CVS also offers Extra Care Bucks (called by experienced couponers “ECBs”) to members. ECBs can be used on anything in the store. An example of an ECB deal might be something like this: buy Dove liquid soap on sale from $4 to $3 and earn $1 ECB. That means that a shopper will pay $3 for the soap and the receipt will show an additional coupon for $1 Extra Care Buck to be used on the next purchase.

With the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts and the CVS flyer laid out on the dining room table, I followed rule #3 above and looked for bargains. First up, I reviewed the CVS flyer for items I knew we could use (either now or in the near future). Then I leafed through the coupon inserts to see if there were any matching coupons for those items. When I found those coupons, I cut them out.

At CVS stores there is a special red machine which scans items for a price check. If you scan your Extra Care card, it will automatically generate coupons for you. You can scan your card more than once; the machine will tell you when you’ve reached your coupon limit. I’d never noticed the machine when shopping at CVS before, but I learned about it while doing my “smart couponing” research. At our local CVS, the red scanning machine is located just to the side of the front registers.

So here is the play-by-play of my recent shopping trip to CVS.

From a previous trip to CVS, I had two coupons:

  • $2.50 off CVS brand items worth $12 or more
  • $1 Extra Care Buck

On the way into the store, I scanned my Extra Care card twice at the red scanner machine and got the following five coupons:

  • $2 off 2 bars of soap
  • $2 off $10 worth of CVS cosmetics
  • Buy 2 Hershey’s candy bars, get 1 free
  • $1 off 2 CVS brand Earth Essentials Cleaning products
  • $2.50 off CVS brand items worth $12 or more

Some of these coupons weren’t relevant to what I wanted to buy that day (and might never buy – I doubt I’ll use the CVS cosmetics coupon or the one for Hershey’s candy bars).

I went to the soap aisle and put the following things in my cart which we routinely use and were either out of or close to it:

CVS was offering a special: buy $20 of CVS brand facial cleansing/moisturizing products, get $5 ECBs.

I went to the register with my items and here’s how the cost broke down:

  • 2 bars of soap: $3.79 each
  • Liquid cleanser: $8.49
  • Moisturizing cream: $10.49

Total without tax: $26.56

Then I used three of the CVS coupons I mentioned above: $1.00 ECB, and the two coupons for $2.50 off CVS brand items worth $12 or more. I tried to use the coupon I had for $2 off 2 bars of soap, but the teller’s scanning machine rejected it (I guess I’d used my coupon limit; I can use that coupon another time).

Total without tax using the coupons: $20.56 (19% savings)

As an aside, the products above are the CVS version of Cetaphil products. I started using Cetaphil products over 15 years ago and I love them. They’re very gentle (the liquid soap is especially good as a body wash for babies and a facial cleanser for people with sensitive skin). As an extra aside, I’m actually not a big fan of antibacterial soaps which these bar soaps are, but CVS was out of the non-antibacterial-Cetaphil-knock-off bar soap. Anyhow, the CVS versions of the Cetaphil products are just as good and about 2/3 the price. But, I broke coupon rule #2 above – don’t be loyal to a particular brand. Had I been willing to purchase any soap and moisturizer, I would have saved a lot more money.

The bottom of my receipt from this transaction had my $5 ECB coupon for spending over $20 in CVS products, so following rule #6 — make multiple purchase transactions at the same store –I tore off my $5 coupon and went shopping for a few more items at CVS. It was time to put rule #1 — coupon stack — to work.

Here’s what I bought:

I had manufacturers’ coupons from the Sunday paper for all of these items and CVS was offering additional discounts on all of them. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Oil of Olay facial moisturizer: $8.99 original price, $2.00 off using CVS discount, and $2.00 off using manufacturer’s coupon. Final cost: $4.99 (44% savings)
  • Nivea shower gel: $6.00 original price, $1.11 off using CVS discount, and $4.00 off using manufacturer’s coupon. Final cost: $0.88 (85% savings)
  • Tampax tampons: $3.79 original price, $0.82 off using CVS discount, and $1.00 off using manufacturer’s coupon. Final cost: $1.97 (48% savings)
  • Always pads: $3.79 original price, $0.82 off using CVS discount, and $1.00 off using manufacturer’s coupon. Final cost: $1.97 (48% savings)

Subtotal: $9.81

Then I gave the teller my $5 ECBs coupon that I had earned in my first transaction.

Final total (without tax): $4.81.

Had I bought all of these items at their original price, the total would have been $22.57. This represents a 79% savings.

Now, truth be told, I don’t normally buy shower gel (we routinely use the bar soaps and liquid soap I bought in the first transaction instead). But, we’re out of liquid hand soap. Since I got the Nivea shower gel for just $0.88, this is substantially cheaper than buying the same amount of liquid hand soap. I’ll just refill our old hand soap dispensers with the Nivea shower gel instead.

Here’s the final cost-savings tally of my trip to CVS:

Total (before tax) on all merchandise before using coupons and CVS Extra Care discounts: $49.13

Total (before tax) on all merchandise after using coupons and CVS Extra Care discounts: $25.37

Total savings: $23.76 (48% savings)

While I’m very happy with this result, I should tell you that this amount of savings is nothing compared to what experienced couponers can save. There are some people who are so sophisticated at this that they can walk out of stores paying next to nothing for a large amount of items. Oh well, there’s a learning curve to being coupon-smart, and I’m definitely still learning.

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I wrote here and here about how we recently received a check from our mortgage company for $807 which represented the overage in our escrow account. We have lots of plans for that money and I thought I’d chronicle the different ways we make it stretch. After putting $264 aside to cover the $22 a month increase in our mortgage payment (yes, our mortgage payment went up even though we had an overage in our escrow account for this past year), we have $543 left to play with. We took 10% of that and donated it to a relief agency helping victims of the Chilean earthquake. That left us with $489. Yippee!

First up, curtains for windows in our den. We had these wooden blinds on the windows:

They came with the house and we’ve been happy enough with them for the 5 years we’ve lived here, but recently they’ve posed a safety hazard. Charlie has taken to standing on top of the back of the couch, grabbing the pull strings on the middle blind, and jumping onto the couch. This terrified us because we imagined he could get the strings wrapped around his neck (it would take a little effort, but it was definitely in the realm of possibility). No amount of pleading begging screaming urging seemed to persuade him to stop, so the blinds had to go.

Here are the windows without the blinds. You can get a sense of what Charlie was doing (sorry, the photos aren’t great, but I had to snap them quickly!):

In place of the blinds we needed something safe for Charlie. That basically left roller shades or curtains; we decided on curtains. We measured the windows, and off we went to Target to see if they had anything we liked. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money though because, as I said, we have lots of plans for our $489. We came home with four of these panels:

Each panel was just $7.99. We debated about whether we wanted a color and/or a pattern on the curtains. Ultimately we chose these white panels because not only were they inexpensive, but since they’re white, they can easily be laundered and even bleached, if necessary. Then we bought an extra long curtain rod for $19.99.

I thought it would be a good idea to wash the panels because if they were going to shrink, it would be best if they shrunk before we measured and hung the rod at a height we liked. So I washed them and then decided to iron them. And that’s when our fun curtain project took a turn for the worse.

This, Mom, is why I don't iron.

Well, shoot. I swear the iron was on the curtain panel for less than five seconds. But I guess these curtain panels aren’t the highest quality fabric (what a surprise at $7.99 each). So I went back to Target and bought another panel.

Mark borrowed a power drill from our neighbor (I’m beginning to think we should invest in our own power drill given how much we end up borrowing our neighbor’s. By the way, thanks Jim!) and installed the curtain rod. We deliberately hung the curtains wider than the windows so that when the curtains are pulled all the way open they don’t obstruct the sides of the windows.

And here’s how the new curtains look:

We love them. The blinds had been fine, but only fine. The curtains look great. I can’t believe what a difference they make to the feel of the room.

The tally:

one curtain rod: $19.99
four five curtain panels at $7.99 each: 39.95

Grand total (with tax): $63.39

Not bad. If we subtract that from our $489, we still have $425.61 left.

I’ve been knocking ideas around about how to make use of that extra white panel — the one whose edge the iron ate. By the way, that curtain panel did not go down without a fight; it left the iron in a very ugly shape. So in my next post, I’ll detail how I went about trying to clean the iron after my little fiasco.

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Composting is a way of recycling your food scraps and yard trimmings – thus keeping them out of landfills — and turning them into a valuable material to use in your garden. Using compost on your plants will add nutrients to the soil and improve absorbency thereby helping your plants to grow stronger. And, it’s fun to produce compost at home instead of buying it at the nursery. Composting is good for the environment, your plants, and your wallet. Heck, these days it’s even good for your image – didn’t you know that “green” is the new black?

Last week I made my second compost bin out of a trash can. Now I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about the very basics of beginning to compost.

Before I started composting, I was a little intimidated by it. I didn’t know exactly what I could compost and I thought there was some formula I had to follow. There isn’t really a formula, but there are things to keep in mind. Remember, however, that you can make a lot of composting “mistakes” and still end up with compost—it just may take longer than other peoples’ compost or it might smell funny along the way.

This EPA site offers a nice list of things that can and cannot be composted. The highlights: along with both kitchen scraps and yard trimmings, dryer lint, animal and human hair, shredded paper, newspaper, dust bunnies, and eggshells can all be composted. Do not compost meat, bones, fats (including grease), or dairy products.

Compostable materials can be thought of in terms of “greens” (rich in nitrogen) and “browns” (rich in carbon). Greens are things like fruit and vegetable scraps, and browns are things like leaves and twigs. This site does a good job explaining the science behind balancing greens and browns in your bin. I’ll give you the take home message for an easy way to make compost: add roughly equal amounts of both kitchen scraps (such as fruit and vegetables, coffee grinds, egg shells) and leaves.

Shredded leaves (also known as “leaf mold”) are a great brown material to add to the compost bin. Our town offers free delivery of shredded leaves during the fall and winter season when they’re picking up our raked leaves at the curb. I had them dump a pile of shredded leaves a year ago and I’m still working my way through it. I use the leaves as mulch for garden beds, and when I was working on my little front yard landscape project, I dug the leaf mold into the soil to improve drainage (we have heavy clay soil). I keep my compost bins next to the pile of shredded leaves so that when I’m in need of brown material to add to the bin, I just pick up some of the leaves and toss them in. Simple.

It is important to maintain the proper moisture level in the bin. The material should be like a very slightly damp sponge – not so wet that you can squeeze water out of it. If the pile is too dry, it will take much longer to break down; if it is too wet, the beneficial little microorganisms won’t get the proper amount of oxygen they need to help break everything down. This site recommends the following as a quick moisture test: Squeeze a handful of the compost. If water drips out, it’s too wet; if the compost crumbles apart, it’s too dry; if it stays compacted without water dripping out, it’s perfect.

For items I collect in the house to compost, I keep an old plastic container (with lid) under the kitchen sink. When it’s full, I just take the container out to the bin and dump the contents in. It’s important that your container have a lid because otherwise it will quickly attract little fruit flies and other uninvited guests.

So let’s get this compost bin started. Begin by filling up the bin about 1/4 of the way full with dirt, topsoil, or, if you’re really feeling fancy, some of the compost from your first bin (complete with earthworms!).

Add some leaves (if they’re shredded, they’ll break down more quickly).

Add fruit and vegetable scraps and anything else you’ve collected in the house. If you’re interested in speeding up the decomposition, cut up the food scraps into small pieces before putting them in the bin. I don’t do this because I’m lazy. Also, if you add eggshells to your bin, it’s a good idea to crush them because they take a long time to break down.

Give it all a pretty good watering from the hose. While I occasionally use a thick stick to stir everything up, I generally just put the lid on, turn the bin on its side, and have Charlie do all the work for me.

Now that the bin is started, just remember that for every “layer” of green material you add, throw a layer of leaves in. Then roll the bin about once a week.

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Late last summer I began a small landscaping project in our front yard. It is, alas, an ongoing project because the money for the landscaping budget went to fix the car unexpectedly. Though the project seems discouragingly never-ending, it did get me interested in composting because I bought quite a lot of compost to add to the soil to prepare it for my new plants.

Our town actually sells very nice compost bins, but they cost $50 each. You can buy a lot of compost for $50, so I decided to try to make my own bin. Last fall, I did just that. The bin is pretty full now and since compost needs some time to “rest” so everything can finish decomposing, I decided to make another bin for all the food scraps and other compost-able things I collect in the meantime. Since the first bin is working out so well, I made the second bin just like the first. Here’s how I did it.

What you’ll need:

  • power drill
  • large outdoor trash can with lid (the one I got is 32 gallons)
  • bungee cord (optional, but probably a good idea)
  • newspaper or tarp to catch the little plastic bits

Put the trash can on newspaper before drilling the holes. I forgot. I had to pick up a lot of little bits of black plastic from the deck.

The compost bin needs air to aid in decomposition, so drill holes in the bottom, sides, and lid of the trash can. I drilled about four holes in the bottom, but I’m regretting that now and think I probably should have drilled more. It’s just that the plastic on the bottom of this bin was very thick and hard to drill through so I gave up after four. Having lots of holes in the bottom helps with drainage, which is a good thing.

Four holes probably isn't enough -- drill more.

Then I drilled about 25 holes all around the trash can and 8 holes in the lid.

Drill holes all around the bin.

Then I placed the new compost bin next to the one I made last fall. Don’t they make a pretty pair?

The new bin is on the left.

I put a bungee cord on the old bin when I made it last fall because I read that critters might get interested in the contents of the bin which creeped me out. But I’ve never seen a critter anywhere near the old bin and the new bin’s lid fits quite snugly, so I didn’t bother with this one. I’ll change my mind at the first sign of a critter though.

So how much money did I save by NOT purchasing the town’s $50 bins?

The tally:

2 trash cans: $20 (Yup, that’s right. Each trash can cost only $10.)
bungee cord: $2 (I actually can’t remember the cost since I bought it last summer, but it can’t have been more than $2.)
power drill: FREE, since I borrowed it from my neighbor.

Grand total for two homemade compost bins: $22
Total cost if I had purchased two of the town’s bins: $100
Savings: $78!

In my next post I’ll go over how to get the party started — what to add to the bin and how to stir it up. Here’s a sneak peek though:

The best little compost mixer around.

Update — 5/17/2010

I was having trouble with the bin not draining properly which made the contents too moist, so I drilled several more holes in the bottom of the bin (and even a few more holes in the sides) which seems to have solved the problem. Also, if you’re interested, I’ve written several posts on composting which you can read here, here, and here.

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