5 Tips to Help You Save Money at the Grocery Store

Grocery Shopping

Groceries can be expensive—especially when you are shopping for a family. Food is necessary, but when we don’t plan ahead or we start throwing together meal ideas in the store, it can add up quickly. As we are living in this uncertain time, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at our budgets and see where we can trim a little. If you have found yourself leaving the grocery store with a cart full of stuff you didn’t need, or fell for a store’s “sale”, keep reading to check out 5 of our favorite tips for shopping smart and saving money.

COMPARE WEEKLY ADS

Before you head to the store, take a look at all your local store’s weekly ads. Some stores may have tempting sales like “Buy One Get One Free” advertised, but another store may still be selling it for a cheaper price. If you don’t receive a newspaper with advertisements there are several different free apps you can download that not only allow you to view each store’s weekly ad, but compare prices for different advertised items. This can make your research go much faster!

KNOW YOUR STUFF AND STOCK UP

It’s important to know when something is a good deal or not so you don’t waste any money at the grocery store. Some people keep a list on their phone that has main items and the best stock-up price for each one. For instance, if you see boneless chicken breasts drop under $1.99/LB, it may be a good time for you to grab a few extras for your freezer. If you are able to stock up a little when your most used items go on sale, you can save money when the prices inevitably shoot back up.

MAKE A LIST AND STICK TO IT

Once you have pored through the weekly ads, you can make your weekly meal plan based on items that are on sale. By making your list in advance, with a commitment to not make spontaneous purchases, you will be able to save quite a bit of money. When we sit down to write a list, we are much more conservative with what we want to get. Another way to save money is by using curbside or delivery options. Many of these programs have been expanded to meet demand, allowing you to choose each item carefully on your phone or computer, moving things to and from your cart to adjust your total. This will certainly eliminate the problem of shopping while hungry or being tempted by flashy sales on things you don’t use or need!

JOIN LOYALTY PROGRAMS

Almost every store has some variation of a loyalty program that either offers you additional savings or earns points that you can use on other things, like a discount on gas prices. This is an easy way to save money because once you join, all you have to do to save money and earn rewards is swipe your card at the store.

USE COUPONS AND CASHBACK PROGRAMS

Coupons are another way you can save money at the grocery store if you follow one important rule: do not buy items you do not need just because you have a coupon! Sometimes, you can save more money by sticking to a sale items, or an off-brand instead of using a coupon. Paper coupons are hard to keep up with, so if you don’t have the time to go clip coupons and organize them, check out your store’s digital coupons. You generally can load these to your loyalty card and use them when you check out. You can also use cashback programs like Ibotta to make a little extra money on your regular purchases.

We hope these tips help as you try to save money at the grocery store. Feel free to stop by our Facebook page and share your money-saving tips with our Zippy Shell community. If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, be sure to give us a call at 888-947-7974 for a free, no-obligation quote. We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Tips to Maximize Your Pantry Space

Organized Pantry

In most homes, the area designated for the pantry is typically far too undersized for our needs. The standard pantry tends to be packed full of overflowing boxes and bags of food. This sometimes leads to waste when the “out of sight, out of mind” food in the back goes unnoticed for too long. If this has happened to you and you are ready to try something new in your pantry, take a look at 5 of our favorite tips to help get that space back under control.

MOVE YOUR SHELVES

If you have adjustable shelves, change the heights of your available space to more closely fit your needs in the pantry. Depending on the types of foods you are storing in the pantry, you may benefit from adjusting your shelving to have less height, giving you the ability to add an extra shelf or two. If your shelving is not adjustable and you feel you are unable to appropriately use the large spaces without stacking boxes and cans, try using hanging shelves. These are racks that have “arms” that hold onto the shelf and giving storage space underneath. You can find these in many sizes and choose the ones that work best for you.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Adding lighting, whether motion detected or touch-activated, will not necessarily add space to your pantry, but will make it feel bigger and more accessible. Lighting is not typically added to the standard pantry, but you can buy lights that you stick onto the wall to give your pantry some much needed illumination. We suggest opting for rechargeable lights as opposed to ones that use up a lot of batteries.

USE YOUR DOOR

You can use the back of your door to increase the storage space in your pantry. You can buy specially designed shelving, or you can DIY some extra storage space using a hanging shoe holder.

ARRANGE CAREFULLY

Sometimes, simply changing how you arrange your food items will create a lot of space. You not only need to arrange items of most use in the front but try to arrange the taller, more visible items in the back and the shorter items in the front so they do not get lost. Don’t waste space by putting small cans on your largest shelf unless you intend to have them stacked to take advantage of the vertical space.

UNIFORM CONTAINERS AND BINS

Anyone who has ever played Tetris knows there are a few pieces that you wait and hope for because the uniformity helps fill out the space. Instead of trying to fit together a bunch of different sized cereal boxes and bags of flour, buy clear plastic containers of similar shapes and sizes to better arrange your food items. This will also help keep household pests out of your food! Buy bins that you can pull out easily to store loose items.

We hope these tips are useful to you as you work to maximize your pantry space! If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 for a free quote. We also offer mobile and onsite storage to help you cover all your moving and/or storage needs. We look forward to hearing from you!

Are the Mosquitoes Ruining Your Summer?

Summer outdoor party

We have all been spending a lot of time outside enjoying the summer weather and fun backyard activities. But we aren’t the only ones! The mosquitoes have been out in droves threatening our peaceful evenings outside. With their constant buzzing and biting, it’s hard to tolerate for too long. Some use pest control companies to treat their yards when it gets bad, but we have a few tips you can try first.

KEEP IT DRY AND TIDY

We can’t control the weather, but we can do our best to limit standing water and active water sources around the home. Mosquitoes love water, and if given the opportunity, will use the available water to lay eggs in. This means a mosquito population that you won’t be able to ignore this summer. Walk around your home and yard looking for any possible water sources that would allow mosquitoes to thrive. This includes toys that hold water, buckets, wheelbarrows, or anything that allows water to accumulate. You should also make sure your gutters stay clear of debris.

NATURAL REPELLANTS

While there are many chemical sprays and DEET repellants available in most stores, there are natural options you can use in your yard or on yourself to help keep the mosquitoes at bay. Citronella candles are great for smaller areas. There are many different types of oils that you can get to make your own repellant sprays. Citronella, lemon-eucalyptus, cedarwood, and lavender are some of the most common oils that are used for DIY mosquito repellant. You can do a quick search on Pinterest to find hundreds of different recipes to fit your needs. A word of caution: not every repellant recipe will be appropriate to use on children or around pets.

AVOID SCENTED LOTIONS AND BODY PRODUCTS

Some people attract more mosquitoes than others. There are a lot of different theories to explain why one person is untouched by mosquitoes, but another ends the evening with 20 bites. Some believe your blood type determines your mosquito magnetism, while others believe it has to do with your hormones. We don’t know if these are true, but we do know that certain scents attract and repel mosquitoes. It has been theorized that mosquitoes are attracted to scented body lotions and products. Try to avoid applying scented products before going to hang out outdoors to keep the mosquitoes away.

WEAR LONG SLEEVES

Sometimes, despite all our best efforts, you will find the mosquitoes are relentless. If this happens in your yard, try wearing lightweight long sleeves and pants. It’s not ideal to wear long sleeves and pants when it is hot outside, but if nothing else works to keep the mosquitoes off, the cloth barrier will give you a needed reprieve from the unwanted bites.

We’d love to hear how you keep the mosquitoes from ruining your time outdoors. Stop by our Facebook page and share with our Zippy Shell community.

If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, give us a call for a free, no-obligation quote. We are standing by to assist you with all your moving or storage needs!!

Decorating Tips on a Budget

Woman Doing DIY Projects

Redecorating rooms in your home doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, it can be easy to stay within a small budget and change the look throughout your home. If you are ready to transform the appearance and feel in your home, take a look at our 6 favorite tips to redecorate on a small budget.

SHOP THRIFTY

Shopping secondhand stores and estate sales can be a gamechanger when you are decorating a home on a small budget. As you are shopping, try to keep an open mind to the potential of each item. Sometimes a coat of paint or new hardware can completely alter a piece of furniture to be the perfect piece for your home.

PAINT

Repainting the walls, trim, or even door is a fast way to dramatically change the appearance and atmosphere in your home. If the cost for paint needed for an entire room exceeds your budget, consider painting an accent wall to create a focal point.

ACCENT IT

Use new throw pillows, small rugs, or new lampshades to create accents to your current furniture and décor. You can also find inexpensive hardware to transform your current cabinets and drawers.

CREATE YOUR OWN

You don’t have to be a professional artist to create beautiful pieces to display around your home. Youtube is filled with tutorials on creating practically any type of art you can think of. With some canvas and paints, you can create a personalized piece of art that will bring you joy in your home—and for a fraction of the price you would pay at a retail store. Plus, it’s fun!

MOVE THINGS AROUND

If you don’t have any room in your budget for redecorating right now, you can simply move items around in your home to change the look. You can take things from other rooms and switch them around. Repurposing items from your own home is an awesome way to change the atmosphere without spending any money.

USE NATURE

Bringing in real plants, flowers, or small trees will give your home a natural feel that can be achieved with a small budget. You can even bring in items from your own yard that will cost you no money. Ask your friends and family if you can have cuttings from their plants to use in or around your home. There are also community plant exchange groups where you often can find people offering plants or cuttings at little to no charge.

Do you have any small budget decorating tips that we missed? Stop by our Facebook page and share with us and our Zippy Shell community. If you are getting ready to move or you need a secure way to store your stuff while you are remodeling or redecorating, we’d love to assist you with a free estimate to help you get started on your next adventure.

Fresh Curb Appeal Ideas

House at dusk

Many people have transitioned to more of a “work from home” lifestyle. In many cases, this means a much shorter commute that can add hours to your day. So you may finally have the time to freshen up your curb appeal! Of course, now you may be wondering what exactly is curb appeal? It is essentially how appealing your home looks when first viewed from the street, like a first impression. Curb appeal matters if you want to sell your house, if you want to welcome your friends and family, if you want to feel a sense of pride every time you drive up, or if you just don’t want to make the neighbors mad!

Front Door – The entry door is artistically referred to as “The Portal to the Soul of Your House” – sounds important, right? Fix minor imperfections by sanding the area down, filling it with wood filler, and repainting or staining. Speaking of paint, a brightly colored door will definitely turn heads. Check out the inspiration found here to help your front door stand out from the crowd. When you update the front door, don’t neglect the hardware. A new knocker and doorknob in a matching finish will complete the look.

Bold, Vibrant Accents – If a boldly colored front door is not your style, consider adding vibrant accessories like flowers, planters, or door decorations. Welcome signs, welcome mats, and porch furniture are also a great place to incorporate pops of color.

Exterior Illumination – Well planned outdoor lighting is essential to curb appeal. Done right it will set the mood and welcome nighttime guests. Use the right combination of wall sconces, lanterns, step and path lights to highlight your architecture and showcase the landscaping. Also, fresh new light fixtures can cast a brighter light and they give the impression that your home has been updated recently.

Make it Shine – Making the exterior of your home sparkly clean can probably add more power to your curb appeal than anything else. After everything is cleaned up, take time to repair any places that need attention. Focus on chipping paint around the windows, missing shingles, or siding that needs repair.

Landscaping – The simplest way to boost curb appeal is to have a well-manicured lawn. Healthy looking, weed free trimmed grass, clean lines around walkways and flower beds, and trimmed bushes and trees will set the foundation for curb appeal you can be proud of. Put in a few perennial flowers to brighten things up.

Paint Your Mailbox – Your mailbox sees a lot of wear over the years as it is constantly attacked by the elements so a little paint can provide an instant curb appeal boost. You can use inexpensive craft store stencils to let the kids add a creative design.

Looking for some extra storage space to clean up the outside of your home? Zippy Shell has onsite and portable storage solutions perfect for the job! You can learn more by visiting www.zippyshell.com today!

How to Build a Vegetable Garden at Your House

woman gardening

As we are all spending more time at home this summer, it may be the perfect time to start your first at-home vegetable garden. Gardening can bring a sense of order and calmness to the chaos of the year 2020. It is a fun activity that the whole family can get involved in to make the long days at home go by just a little bit faster. Plus, the end result is yummy home grown vegetables that will help boost your immune system!

Select and clear the area for your garden. The goal is to select enough garden space to meet your needs without taking away from your ability to enjoy your backyard with your family. You also need to take into consideration which vegetables you plan on growing as some plants take up more space. And don’t forget to check for sunlight. Most vegetables and herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Once you have selected your spot, make sure the area is free of grass, debris, and leaves. Dig or till up the soil before planting to freshen it up as well as allow roots to penetrate the soil more easily. Another popular idea is to use raised planting beds. They allow for a longer growing season with better drainage and fewer weeds.

Fertilize your soil. The more fertile the soil, the better your vegetables will grow. Unless you are purchasing pre-fertilized soil, most soil will not contain the nutrients that your garden needs to thrive. The only way to truly determine the level of nutrients in your soil is to test it. These are usually available for free or at a low-cost from your local cooperative extension.

Choose your plants. You want to select plants that will grow well in the area where you live and in the space that you have available. Of course, if you won’t eat it and you don’t have anyone to gift it to, there is no reason to grow it in your vegetable garden! When you are planting, make sure to give each plant room to grow.

Add some mulch. Applying a layer of mulch that is 2-3 inches deep around each plant will reduce weeds and reduce moisture loss through evaporation. If you use an organic mulch, such as bark, compost, or cocoa bean shells, it will nourish the soil as it decomposes.

Keep your garden watered. A rule of thumb for watering is that plants need around one inch of water per week during the growing season. Sunny, windy conditions dry out soil more quickly than cool, cloudy weather. If you are still not sure, feel the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Attract the birds. For some natural pest control, incorporate birdbaths or birdhouses into your yard. Birds will help control the pests that frequently attack gardens, all while leaving friendly insects such as spiders or ladybugs alone.

We’d love to hear from you! Stop by our Facebook page and share with our Zippy Shell community what you and your family are growing this summer.

7 Homebuying Mistakes to Avoid

homebuying

If you are looking to buy a home, you know it can be an overwhelming process—especially if it is your first home. It is a lengthy process and has a lot of moving parts. Hopefully, you have found yourself a reputable mortgage lender and real estate broker to work with and guide you through this tedious adventure. If you haven’t reached that step yet, take a look at some of these common homebuying mistakes you should avoid.

NOT GETTING PREAPPROVED

If you are out looking at houses before you have been preapproved for a mortgage, be ready to miss out on those homes. It is currently a seller’s market and homes are moving fast. Mortgage lenders have their hands full right now and it can take longer than usual to get your preapproval letters ready. Some real estate agents will not even show houses if you don’t have your preapproval ready.

GETTING DISTRACTED BY UPGRADES

Flipping houses is a big business right now and has been profitable for many people. Unfortunately, some of these homes have a lot of surface upgrades, but not much is done for the important things. The new paint and shiny appliances can sometimes distract potential buyers from the items that truly need upgrades. Look at the condition of big-ticket items like the roof, the HVAC system, the plumbing, any water damage, and the septic system.

GOING TOO LOW

Since this is a seller’s market, homes are going quickly and most are going for asking price or more. Your real estate agent should be able to guide you in making a smart and enticing offer. If it is a home you really love, don’t lowball your offers.

WAITING TOO LONG

Some potential buyers, especially when they first start looking, will hold off making an offer on a home they really love because they want to look at other homes first. Unfortunately, if you wait too long during this market, that home will most likely have been scooped up while you were touring other homes.

NARROW PARAMETERS

You should definitely love the house you buy, but one mistake some people make is refusing to keep an open mind. Widen your parameters for the homes you want to tour you never know you may be surprised at what you find, and even fall in love with!

SKIPPING AN INSPECTION

This is a big no-no when it comes to buying a home. While everything can look just fine on the surface, you may be shocked to learn what a professional home inspector finds. There may be damage or need upgrades that you are just not prepared or willing to deal with.

GOING OVER BUDGET

This is a hard one because it is very easy to be tempted into a home that costs more than you can comfortably afford. Be firm with your real estate agent that you do not want to see homes outside of your budget. Even if you can make the monthly mortgage payments, you need to be prepared for rising property taxes and home maintenance that can be surprisingly costly.

We hope these tips will be helpful to you as you get ready to buy a home this summer or fall. When you are ready to move, be sure to give ZIPPY SHELL a call for a free quote. We are ready to help you with all your storage and moving needs!

Dog Breeds that are Great for Small Homes

dogs

Zippy Shell knows that pets are part of the family! If you are a dog lover living in a small home, we have good news for you. There are plenty of dog breeds that will thrive in small spaces. It is not just about the size of the dog, but also about their temperament. A dog’s energy level, noisiness, and even friendliness need to be taken into consideration if you are living in a small space that is in close quarters to your neighbors, as is the case with apartment living. Check out the breeds below that will adapt to your space and steal your heart!

French Bulldog

They are bred to be smaller than their standard Bulldog cousins, so they’re perfectly suited to a small space. A brisk walk each day will sufficiently keep them in shape, and they rarely bark. As a bonus, they have short hair that doesn’t need much grooming.

Yorkshire Terrier

These precious pups are the perfect size for a lap dog. They are easy to train, hypoallergenic, and they only require short walks for daily exercise.

Greyhound

Although on the larger side, they only need a little bit of space, enjoy naps, and they love short bursts of exercise. These beauties are loving, affectionate animals that enjoy a good snuggle and don’t bark very much. Plus, there are many retired racing Greyhounds that need homes!

Bichon Frise

These cuties are in the poodle family but much more petite. Bichons learn quickly and love just about everyone. They don’t drool, bark, or shed very much, but their social nature will require a lot of playful attention.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These dogs love to cuddle and become very attached to their owner. Their size is just right for small spaces and they are very easily trained.

Pugs

Squishy faced pugs are playful and loyal pets. Due to their inactivity, quietness, and size, they make a good pet for homes of any size.

Dachshund

Dachshunds are the smallest of the hound dogs. They are joyful, lively, and have the cutest personalities. Their short legs allow them to be exercised entirely indoors, if needed.

Maltese

They are affectionate dogs who become very attached to their owners so you will have a constant companion! Another bonus is that they have no undercoat so they are not shedders.

Poodles

Toy and miniature sized poodles are a good size for a small space. They are intelligent, easy to train, and hypoallergenic.

As you are searching for a lifelong companion, it is important to remember that every dog is an individual. Put in the research time to carefully pick a pet that will fit your home, lifestyle, and personality.

5 Summer Space Saving Tips

organization

Summer is officially here and it’s a little different this year. Most of our kids have been home from school for several months due to the global pandemic, and many will continue virtual schooling from home in August. It can get cramped when the entire household is home at the same time, so we have come up with a few tips to create some space in the home over the summer.

PACK IT UP

Perhaps one of the easiest and quickest ways to make some space in your home is to pack up things you are using this season. Grab some vacuum-space bags and pack up all your winter clothes, bulky coats, heavy bedding and put them away under your bed. You will be surprised how much space you can make in everyone’s closets.

GET RID OF IT

Many thrift stores have reopened to donations, and after months of being closed would welcome any donations you may have. Go through your clothes, books, toys, and furniture for anything you know is not getting much use and is just wasting space in your home. It’s also possible to hold a socially distanced yard sale if you have a lot of items that you would like to make some money on.

STORE IT

If you have a lot of items in your home that doesn’t get much use, but you are not ready to donate or sell, you may benefit from storing your items. Mobile or on-site storage is a good solution when you need a secure, weatherproof unit to keep your items safe, but out of your living spaces.

GET CREATIVE

One of our favorite ways to save space in the home is by using multifunctional furniture. There are many options for different areas of the home. For example, instead of a plain coffee table, you could replace it with a small table that has cabinets or drawers underneath for storage. Or maybe you have a bench in your foyer to make taking your shoes off a little easier—you could replace (or DIY!) a storage area underneath to hold shoes discreetly.

INVEST

If your budget allows, consider investing in expanding your living space. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a contractor and build an addition on your home. It could simply be taking an area of your backyard and creating a beautiful outdoor oasis that you and your family can enjoy on warm, summer nights. You can turn your front porch into a space where everyone wants to enjoy their morning meals and coffee. Utilize the spaces you already have and find creative ways to make them more usable and enjoyable.

We hope these tips are helpful to you as you start trying to find ways to increase the space in your home this summer. If you need help with mobile or on-site storage, feel free to give us a call at 888-947-7974 or visit us online for a free, no-obligation quote. We have a variety of solutions that are available to meet all your storage needs!

5 Grilling Tips For Your 4th of July Barbecue

Grilling

With most parades and firework shows canceled across the country, 4th of July is going to look a little different this year.  Fortunately, we are still able to celebrate with our families at home. If you are planning to barbecue with your family for Independence Day, check out some of our favorite grilling tips.

PREPARE YOUR MENU AND SUPPLIES IN ADVANCE

Don’t wait until you are about to get the grill fired up to make sure you have everything you need. Stores are generally packed and out-of-stock on classic 4th of July foods and supplies, so make sure you get stocked up beforehand. Check your propane tank or charcoal supply in advance as well. Plan your menu and do your shopping a few days before.  If you plan to marinate your meat, get that ready the night before. It is also important to take the time to make sure your grill and all the grates are clean and ready to go.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Try to not overwhelm yourself with a complex menu. The more variety that you have, the more you will have to keep up with. It can be hard to cook multiple types of meat and veggies at once if they require different temperatures and cooking times.

HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED ACCESSIBLE

You should have all your tools and supplies that you are going to need nearby and accessible—clean pans to put the food in once cooked, a meat thermometer, spatula and tongs, aluminum foil, and a spray bottle in case of flare-ups.

JUST LET IT COOK (NO SQUEEZING)

Once you get your meat cooking, you want to leave it alone as much as possible. One common mistake is pressing down on the meat and squeezing out the fat, which will drip down causing flare-ups. The goal is to keep the fat in the meat, so don’t press down on it! Try to keep your flipping to a minimum as well.

REST YOUR MEAT

Once your meat has reached the appropriate temperature, allow it 5-10 minutes to rest. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it nice and moist. We know it is tempting to jump right in once the food is done, but trust us, this extra time will make a difference.

ENJOY!

Grilling out is a favorite pastime for a lot of us, especially on celebratory days. We hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. If you have any other grilling master tips, we’d love to hear them! Stop by our Facebook page and share with us and the rest of our Zippy Shell community.

If you have an upcoming local or long-distance move, or you are in need of mobile storage, give us a call at 888-947-7974. We would be happy to talk with you and provide you with a free, no-obligation estimate. You can also use our website to reserve your move at your convenience.