I wrote a post a little before our garage sale and figured it would be good to recap everything and our overall thoughts about the sale.

Before The Sale

A couple weeks before the sale, we systematically went through the house from top to bottom, through all drawers, closets and boxes to locate anything we thought we didn’t use or want anymore. Even though we thought we found everything, it seemed like there was always something else to add to the sale. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you accumulate over the years.

We did the same in the garage. Went through all the totes, boxes, and cabinets. By this point I had to start leaving one of the cars in the driveway so I had a place to collect all the garage sale items. We also tossed out the idea to close family asking if they wanted anything sold that we could put it out for them. More on this to come.

Once we had everything together, it was time to price the items. We found these cool little labels pre-printed with prices at the dollar store which really came in handy. They also included some blank ones so you could write in your own price. I also prepped the main “Garage Sale” signs we picked up at the dollar store with our address and dates/times of the sale.

We didn’t have enough tables so we were lucky enough to borrow a couple from a friend. It made set up much easier as we could set them up in the garage prior to the sale.

Our village requires a garage sale permit. So after going down to the village clerk and forking over $10, we were good to go. There are a few rules in our village: signs need to come down after the last day of the sale, hours are only between 9am-6pm, limited to 4 sales a year, and signs must display address, times, and dates of the sale. There are fines here for not following the rules. Check your local village/city for requirements.

Our sale ran just a Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday I started posting the sale on Craigslist and then each day from then through Saturday. I also posted it on Nextdoor. If you’re not familiar with Nextdoor, it’s kind of a social network for your neighborhood. Check it out and see if your neighborhood has a following.

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This is the weekend! After careful analysis of the garage sale market, updates from the Chicago weather teams, a scientific study from MIT…well, not really. More like Joe has finally stopped dragging his feet so the garage sale is finally happening! Thankfully, the forecast is looking good. We’re only doing the sale on Friday and Saturday as I wasn’t sure we would have enough product for Sunday. But who knows, once we’re set up, we’ll see what happens and maybe run Sunday as well.

We’ve been pricing all the items we have up for sale this past week and trying to get things set up in the garage so we can just pull them out on Friday morning.

We came to realize a few things:

  • Pre-printed price labels – must have
  • Plenty of tables – must have
  • Kicking the cars out of the garage so you can set up – must have
  • Hanging up clothes, looks better and doesn’t take up table space – must have
  • We really only had a couple of tables ourselves and wqickly realized we needed more. Thankfully a friend had a few she let us borrow. This will make our presentation look all that much better.

    And forget visiting the local Target/Walmart/Home Center for garage sale supplies. Instead hit the dollar store. Cheap and pretty nice. You don’t want to spend $30 on supplies and start the day having to make all that up first.

    I’ll put together a recap for next week after it’s all done and we’ve sold everything! A guy can hope we sell almost everything.



    I tried four new recipes over the last week and have to say, Pinterest never fails me. I think they all turned out really good and I’ll definitely put these into the regular rotation. It’s funny though, there aren’t too many meal recipes I’ve made twice since being out of work. Why? There are so many recipes to try out there! There are a handful which I’ve made a few times; those are our go-to meals. But there has been far more new recipes I’ve made.

    All the recipes can be found on our Pinterest board.
    Extrapolate This!

    Chocolate Chip Scones

    I haven’t tried baking much since being out of work, and I’ve been wanting to give scones a try. I found this low calorie scone recipe that looked really good and easy. What’s nice about this scone recipe is that it comes in at only 155 calories because there really isn’t much sweetener involved. Aside from the chocolate chips, the only other sweet ingredient is the maple syrup. But don’t worry, you won’t miss it. There is just enough sweetness. These scones were great with a hot cup of coffee.
    New Recipes

    Next up: Easy Baked Taco Pie. Another fast recipe to make. Just one pot and pan. The only adjustment I made was to the chili powder. I didn’t use any; instead I used Ortega taco seasoning as we have a bunch in the pantry. I also baked it in a 9″ square baking pan instead of a round one. We ended up getting 2 1/2 meals out of it. Not bad for what amounts to about $6 in ingredients.

    New Recipes

    Malibu chicken

    I didn’t snag a picture of this one, the pic below is from Pinterest. I changed this recipe more than any of the others. I didn’t end up breading these at all. I just baked the chicken breasts with some salt and pepper. Once done, I topped them with ham and baked them in the broiler for just a minute to crisp up the ends of the ham. Then I added cheese and put them back under the broiler for about half a minute. Pretty simple. The thing I liked about this recipe most was the dipping sauce, mmm. I would make that again to use with other recipes.

    New Recipes

    Marinated Baked Pork Chops

    This one we had last week. We were a little skeptical at first because the ingredients in the glaze seemed a little basic and the ketchup threw me a little. But the glaze was great. I’ll end up using it in other recipes just like the sauce from the Malibu chicken. Note – if you’re buying canned green beans, grab some fresh ones from the produce market. They’re not only a good price, but so much better and worth the extra effort. We haven’t had canned green beans in a long time.

    New Recipes



    What a first week of May it’s been. In typical Chicago fashion, the spring weather is going back and forth from cool and fall-like to the 80’s. Looking forward to some warm days to come.

    So far our experience with Ting Wireless couldn’t be better. It’s only been a month, but we’re really pleased. Read all about it and our savings in Nicole’s post about it here or below.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!

    DIY Oil Change – Is It Worth It?

    Our First Month With Ting Wireless

    Magicjack Review – Landline Or No Landline?


    Extrapolate This - Weekly Roundup


    We bought my vehicle, a 2008 Ford Escape, brand new. That’s her below, right before driving it off the lot.

    Joe's Top 5 Albums - 1985-1989

    It came with the first year of oil changes and like a dutiful new car owner, I took it into the dealership right on the mark. I would still get a receipt from the dealer, with the cost marked down to $0.00. But the $34.99 cost of the oil change they were charging got me wondering if I should be doing it myself.

    Let me back up a little (while). My dad used to own his own service station – that’s what we call a gas station today. Back then they would provide service for any needs your car had, including maintenance. My dad was a mechanic for many years. Growing up I can remember spending time with him in the garage or in the driveway watching and *helping* him when he was working cars. It didn’t seem like much at the time, but as I got older I realized that taught me quite a bit about how to work on a vehicle. I can thank him and those learning experiences for my knowledge and appreciation I have of cars today. There aren’t too many auto repairs where I feel intimidated and won’t at least try it myself.

    Back to the oil change. I stick to the same type of oil for each change, which is important. Switching back and forth between types (synthetic, semi-synthetic, and conventional) can damage your engine. Your car can use any of these types, but once you choose the type, it’s best to stick to it moving forward. Fortunately, the Valvoline oil I like has frequent coupons and is already a good deal from Walmart. My SUV takes 6 quarts of oil, so here’s the material cost breakdown.

      $ 15.00 – 5 quart Valvoline oil
      $ 3.00 – 1 quart of Valvoile oil
      $ 4.00 – Fram oil filter
      $22.00 – Total Cost

    That’s the regular cost, however, without any discounts. I typically only buy oil when I have a coupon. Valvoline regularly puts out $4/off coupons so I stock up when I get them. That reduces the cost to $18.00/oil change. Not a bad deal.

    To be fair, I priced out oil changes at a few places around town (including the extra quart of oil needed, which is an extra charge). The best price was $24.31. Basically, I am saving $6.31 on each oil change. Multiply that times the number of oil changes I’ve done over the 120k miles I’ve put on my Escape after that first year of free changes and that adds up to 24 oil changes, or a savings of $151.44. Not huge, but that does cover the cost of a couple of trips to Target for groceries!

    Considering the work takes me less than a half hour, is it worth the effort? Many people would say no, but I say yes, just not so much on the money side of things. Being able to say I can do the work myself and understand how a car operates and is maintained is, in my option, priceless.

    I’ve already had my son sit with me during a few oil changes so he can see the process. I’m looking forward to him getting his first car so I can show him on his own car how rewarding it can be to do the repairs yourself.



    The verdict is officially in, and just as we suspected, we’re saving a ton of money after switching our wireless carrier to Ting. Our first bill, including taxes & fees, was $34.01, which breaks down as follows:


    What a difference compared to the $135.70 we were paying to AT&T monthly. Plus this first bill was covered by the credits we received so we didn’t have to pay anything. Why oh why didn’t we switch sooner?

    Full disclosure: I don’t think our monthly bill will be quite this low moving forward because we were trying to see how much we could lower it so we were a bit restrictive in our overall usage. That being said, we do have certain habits that keeps our usage naturally low.

    Who uses their phone to make calls? But seriously, we don’t talk on the phone much, and I’ve been using our MagicJack service via the iPhone app for long conversations with my family since we’re already paying a set amount for that service. No need to jack up our wireless bill unnecessarily.

    Our AT&T plan restricted us to 200 texts per month or we’d pay extra per text, so for years we’ve been using an app called eBuddy XMS to communicate with each other and Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts to “text” with friends and family.

    I was grandfathered into an unlimited plan with AT&T so I never bothered connecting to Wi-Fi outside our home and consequently would use about 2 GB of data every month. One of the biggest changes I made after switching to Ting was taking advantage of free Wi-Fi networks when we’re out. I enjoy surfing when Joe is driving and I didn’t do much of that this first month either. Now that I know that it won’t impact our bill very much as long as I avoid the data hogging apps (I’m looking at you, Facebook), I’m going to be a little more relaxed about it.

    Final Thoughts
    I anticipate our Ting bill will be under $50 every month which is still an $80 savings over AT&T which is awesome.

    How to switch to Ting
    If you’re interested in switching to Ting, check out my post about our switch for full details, or check out my quick instructions below.

    1) Open Ting account, order SIM card.

    2) Request that your current carrier unlock your device.

    3) After receiving your SIM card, log into your Ting account and choose activate.

    4) Request through Ting that they port your number (optional).

    5) Once port request goes through your old carrier will automatically cancel your account. Or if you’re not porting a number, call your carrier to cancel your service.

    6) Install your Ting SIM card and follow your former carrier’s device unlock instructions.

    7) If you have to pay an ETF, send that final bill to Ting and they will credit you back for a portion of it.

    Enjoy the savings!




    Our story of cutting the cord (a detailed post coming soon) actually began about a year and a half ago. We wanted to reduce our Comcast monthly bill and the first casualty was phone service. At first we contemplated not having a landline at all. But then after hearing good things about magicJack we decided to investigate it further.

    After reading the Amazon reviews, we decided to give the magicJackGO a try. We paid around $50, but now it can be found for $39.99 @ Target or Amazon
    which includes the hardware and the first year of service. Even at $50 we figured it was worth a try.

    Installation couldn’t have been easier. We plugged the magicJackGO into the power adapter and then into a power strip. Then we connected an Ethernet cable from our router to the magicJackGO Ethernet port. After that it only required a cord from our phone to the phone port on the magicJackGO.

    The process of setting up the magicJack service was easy as well. After connecting the actual magicJack device to a USB port on our computer, it downloaded and updated software on the device.

    Once installed, the magicJack softphone screen came up which looks like a phone dialer. There is a registration link on the left that takes you to the magicJack registration site to begin the process of account set-up – name, address, new phone number/porting, payment method, etc.

    If you have an existing number with your current phone provider, porting your number is simple. You can go here to confirm your number is able to be ported to the Magicjack. After it’s confirmed all you need to do is to go into your magicJack online account, which you should have set up by now, and go to the TRANSFER section of your account to begin the process. The site claims it can take 5-10 business days for the porting to be completed but ours only took a couple of days.

    After you’ve set up your account, completed the software updates, and either chosen your new number or ported your existing one, you’re pretty much done. We opted to plug in the magicJack directly into a power outlet and connect the Ethernet cord to it so we are able to make calls through a regular cordless phone handset.

    Another nice thing feature is the magicJack App, available for both iOS and Android. You can use the app to make phone calls (from your home number) either via cell coverage or over WiFi, regardless of your location. You can also see and answer phone calls to your home number from the app even when you’re not home.

    The one additional cost we didn’t catch when we originally signed up is that there’s an annual 911 fee of $11. The renewal fee for the magicJack service is $35, so your total annual out of pocket expense is $46/year ($3.83/month) if you want to have a landline in your home which is much cheaper than the $15 per month we were paying Comcast.



    Extrapolate This - Weekly Roundup - 417 to 423

    What a crazy week it’s been in entertainment news, right? Among other deaths this week there was Doris Roberts, Chyna and Prince.

    I’ve always felt I grew up in a stellar time for music, the 80’s. I was in my teens for the majority of the decade. And oh, what a decade it was for music. Stadium rock bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Queen. Big hair bands like Poison, Whitesnake, and Warrant. The great alternative bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order and the early days of Smashing Pumpkins. And then there were the one-hit (or two-hit) wonders that were so prevalent during the decade: Come On Eileen (Dexys Midnight Runners), 867-5309 (Tommy Tutone), and Relax (Frankie Goes To Hollywood). I could go on and on with bands and songs, I can remember them like they just hit the radio. SO many great bands and songs. Prince And The Revolution was definitely part of those memories for me. You have to appreciate the contribution Prince made to music.


    March Dining Out Expenses

    Housecleaning @ ET!

    Healthcare.Gov – My Review