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Category — Frugal Living Tip

Enjoy the Simplicity of the Holiday Season

The holiday season is once again upon us and what was once in youthful times a joyous and happy time has become a dreaded season of commercialism, overspending and unmitigated stress. Many people can only recollect the magical feeling of joy during the holidays of their youth. They are exceedingly jubilant watching carefree children blissfully enjoying the spirit of the season devoid of responsibilities and free of stress.

Thanksgiving and Christmas bring families and friends together every year to celebrate the exalted traditions of the season of thanks and good will. For those who spend hours working to make everybody else’s experience wonderful, their own often comes up short. There are several ways that some of the work and stress can be reduced, and the enjoyment extended to all by simply increasing everyone’s participation and contribution in the preparation of the victuals. Planning a Pot-Luck or partial Pot-Luck allows for the delegation of many of the smaller tasks, such as providing desserts or appetizers. After all if everybody always has to hear about Aunt Betty’s famous apple pie, she might as well bring it. This way, everyone can enjoy the pie, and make Aunt Betty happy by showcasing her gift of culinary artistry.

There are many ways to consolidate work, stress and expenses of the holidays. There is no way to avoid the expense of buying gifts, but it can be stretched over the course of time. Picking up a present here and there during the course of the year is the smart way to shop but few people are inclined to practice this. For those who enjoy Christmas shopping, buying the first present for themselves is a veritable reliever of stress. This may seem a bit cynical, but it is a delightful incentive to go shopping without the anxiety brought on by the pressure. Perhaps buying a decorative piece to use every holiday can lower costs for future holiday celebrations.

Decorating can be simple for those inclined to the creative arts. Simple pine cones, fallen leaves, pine needles and other natural gifts of nature, combined with glue, interchangeable colored ribbons, wrapped up gingerbread figures, and other decorative items purchased at the dollar store can serve as both Thanksgiving and Christmas wreaths and table settings. These can easily be transformed between holidays with a few minimal changes like candy canes and assortments of figurines and trinkets. Getting the children involved with these kinds of projects not only gives them the opportunity to participate, but also stimulates their creative instincts, and can lead to the elevation of their spirit of the season. Children will appreciate their own creations over the artificial store bought decorations. It also endows them with a sense of pride as they have made a contribution in a direct and personal way. This is far more satisfying for them than just participating in the perfunctory tasks of placing artificial nick knacks in designated locations around the house. Creative thinking is the key to abating costs and stress.

November 11, 2010   No Comments

Use the Internet to Save Money on Holiday Shopping

Online shopping can be tricky. Shipping charges alone can eat up a Christmas budget before the season gets going good. There are, however, countless opportunities to save money by purchasing online. It just takes a little organization to take advantage of them all.

Sign up for e-mails
This is a first and vital step, and to maximize the money saved, it should be done at the beginning of the year. This allows a shopper to take advantage of sales all year around. To begin, make a list of stores that you enjoy shopping from. Then go to each store’s website and sign up for their e-mails. To minimize spam, create a whole separate e-mail address for this, using a free service such at yahoo, hotmail, or Gmail.

These e-mails will ensure that you are alerted to sales when they happen and sometimes give you early access. It also means that occasionally you will receive promotion codes for percents or dollars off, or free shipping. Take advantage of these deals as they come along throughout they year, rather than waiting until the last minute to make purchases when these deals may not be available. This is especially true of free shipping. Shipping charges can ruin a great online sale.

Do a code search
Never complete an online purchase without first doing a search for coupon codes. Sites such at retailmenot.com and currentcodes.com list hundreds of stores alphabetically along with currently available coupon codes. A simple search can sometimes save up to 20%.

Shop through a cash back service
Sites such as Ebates.com and shopathome.com offer cash back on purchases from hundreds of online stores. This is paid quarterly by check or PayPal. Taking advantage of this all year long can yield a nice little nest egg at the end of the year to go toward Christmas or to be used as a special holiday treat.

Swagbucks
Sign up for Swagbucks and search, search, search. Searching through Swagbucks.com earns points called “swagbucks” that can be redeemed for all kinds of merchandise, including gift cards that can be used to buy Christmas gifts, or can be given as gifts themselves.

The scenario
Utilizing the tips above, an online purchase may look something like this:

  • ABC Company is one that a shopper enjoys to shop at. Back in January the shopper signed up for ABC Company’s e-mails. Now it is October and they have sent and e-mail that they are having a huge sale and offering free shipping through the end of the week.
  • The shopper goes to Ebates.com and enters the store’s website there. ABC Company happens to be offering 4% cash back through Ebates.
  • Once on ABC Company’s website, said shopper selects several gifts at sale prices that allow him or her to purchase gifts worth $100 for $70, or 30% off.
  • Now the shopper opens a new tab and goes to a coupon code site to do a search for ABC Company. They happen to have a code out for 20% off an order of $50.
  • The shopper clicks over to the checkout and enters the code where it is requested. The total drops to $56.
  • The sale includes free shipping on orders over $50 through the end of the week. After taxes the order goes up to $60.
  • The check out process is finished, and in a few days $2.40 is deposited into the shopper’s Ebates account. This shopper just spent a net of $57.60 on $100 worth of products.
  • The tips and scenario above should encourage all holiday shoppers to take advantage of resources available online to maximize their dollar during the holiday season, and all year long.

    November 4, 2010   No Comments

    Money, money, money, money!

    So the economies still in the tank, and you’ve probably been affected in one way or another.

    The good news is, even though the economic pie is a little bit smaller right now, consumers are still spending money. That means there is opportunity for everyone to make money.

    DollarDays would like to help you do just that, which is why we’ve teamed up with Superior Financial Group to make sure that you can get the financing you need to purchase our products in this difficult economic climate. These low-interest, business loans are the perfect place to start your wholesale selling adventure.

    So don’t hesitate. In this economic climate, make sure that you can keep your shelves full, and your customers happy.

    Apply for your loan today!

    November 1, 2010   No Comments

    Have Yourself a Frugal Christmas Now!

    One of the best things to come from the uncertainty of today’s environment and shaky economy is a new emphasis on frugal living and a return to more spiritual values. Will the need to save money and be eco-friendly put a damper on the Christmas season? It does not have to; on the contrary, this may be the best holiday season ever. All of those packages piled under the tree and the list of social events are not what brings happiness, anyway. It is the simple act of giving from the heart and being with those we love that makes Christmas special.

    Instead of buying sweaters and electronics that sit in the closet or end up in a Goodwill store, why not give the gift of an experience? Depending on the budget, this could range from a night at a country inn or a massage to a coupon for free babysitting or a free car wash. If you enjoy shopping and preparing special meals, this could be a gift in itself. If you do not, however, consider taking the family to volunteer at a homeless shelter and buy take-out on the way home. Chances are no one will miss all the fuss, and most likely they will feel thankful to be eating a meal together as a family.

    Maybe you already succumbed to the quick fix of an artificial tree, but what if you prefer a live one? Why not find a live tree that you can plant after the holidays? Granted, this takes some time and planning, but you will be improving your lawn or neighborhood in the long run. If you are lucky, you might have friends who will let you cut down a tree from a wooded area on their property. After all, Charlie Brown’s special Christmas tree had its own magical charm. As far as decorations go, nothing is more Norman Rockwell than fresh green limbs, red berries, and pine cones; and they don’t have to cost a penny. Some tree sellers give the trimmings away, and others charge little for them.

    The likelihood that you are ready to give up all gifts is slim, but that does not mean you cannot get the most for your dollars. A guidebook to bed and breakfast inns with a certificate for a free night will create memories for years to come, and a book of entertainment coupons for nearby attractions will bring joy throughout the year. If you order gifts from online vendors, you can save big bucks by using search engines or discount codes. You can even print coupons online to use in local stores, and signing up for email alerts makes the search even easier.

    With all of these options, time is still limited. For multiple party favors, special gift wrap, or Christmas cards, online wholesalers might have just what you want. From themed gift baskets and scrapbooks to warm fleece blankets and designer fragrances, they offer a wide selection of affordable choices for the busy shopper.
    There are many ways to have yourself a frugal little Christmas, but the best one is probably to slow down, enjoy the moment, and be grateful for friends and family.

    October 28, 2010   1 Comment

    Black Friday for the Frugal Savant

    “Seasons change … ” and so do our habits over time as we deal with different economic and resource realities. During the summer, a glass of water is valuable. During the winter, a warm coat is more expensive. During tough economic times, people need to develop more frugal living habits to make sure that their money goes further.

    Many businesses achieve significant savings due to the “economies of scale,” whereby they can receive a “lower per unit cost per item” when buying supplies. Three of the primary limitations to this “bulk purchasing” include 1) need for more money, 2) need for more space, and 3) inability to buy “perishable” foods. Once these limitations are addressed, it only makes sense to “Purchase large quantities at a lower unit price.”

    When one person thinks about “bulk purchasing,” he may doubt its effectiveness. He doesn’t have enough money, space, or appetite to make it work. But what if he gets his friends and family involved? Many families go through colossal amounts of food and bathroom supplies. In fact, by its very definition, a “family” is already “pooling” resources for “bulk purchasing.”

    It only makes sense for a community to cooperate when purchasing common non-perishable items, like soap and toilet paper. They can solve all three limitations of bulk purchasing by “working together. They can “pool” their money to pay for the items. They can assemble storage shelves for storing flour, rice, or canned food. They can divide any perishable food amongst themselves evenly for consumption or place it in a common freezer.

    Businesses understand that many people are more frugal now, so these companies offer stores that appeal to discount, budget, or bulk purchasing. “Dollar stores” are popping up all over the United States that provide many of the most basic commodities for every day life. Discount buying clubs offer great deals for a community that buys large crates of products.

    When communities “divide the costs and divide the benefits,” everyone succeeds. The community members become closer and more efficient. Less is wasted. The entire community can receive a “lower per unit cost per item” by shopping at large discount stores.

    When a community is involved in “bulk purchasing,” it is merely following the pattern of co-operatives, which pool their resources for a better price. Individuals or even families might not need large cases of toliet paper; yet, a group of friends or community can divide up the products accordingly. “Bulk purchasing” achieves the goal of “frugal living” while making sure that the large amount of product is not wasted.

    “Bulk purchasing” is a great way to get wholesale or warehouse prices on every day items. Your friends, family, and community will grow closer while saving money. Everyone benefits by your frugal living.

    October 21, 2010   No Comments

    A Frugal Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving can be a great time for family to gather and share love, laughs, and great food. It can also be a time where great amounts of money can be spent if you’re not careful. Lots of people want to get on the road for travel; others may choose the air. Many other people want to host the gatherings and buy tons of food. That may be fine for all of those that actually want to do those things. You may be frugal if you don’t fall into that category. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s still possible to have a frugal Thanksgiving that’s exciting and joyous with a little creativity.

    The first line of defense against overspending starts with the travel. You obviously need to check to see if it would be cheaper to fly than it would be to drive. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised. You can be certain that tickets will be quite costly on the day before Thanksgiving. You need to consider your vacation time. If you have at least vacation time you can fly in earlier. It would give you more time to spend with the family, and you may even find cheaper tickets.

    If you make the choice to drive, on the other hand, you will need to look for different ways to save. Take the time to pack snacks, beverages, and sandwiches during your travel. You could stop several times and you might find yourself paying several dollars for a candy bar, lottery ticket, and a bag of chips just because it’s convenient. The inconvenience of so-called convenience stores can really take a toll on your wallet. Don’t travel without any awareness of what you’re spending. It’s easy to lose track of what you’re spending when you’re on the road, but you can maximize your savings by heading directly to your destination. Resist the urge to take the detours for the sake of shopping. You’re in town to enjoy the company of family and friends. You’re already spending money with a road trip. There’s no need to add an unnecessary items to your travel expenses.

    If you’re in the same city as your family members you should consider yourself lucky. You don’t have to worry about traveling, but you may spend just as much time and money if you’re hosting. It’s hard to save if you’re hosting, but it’s still possible. The most important thing involves obtaining a count. This helps you reduce the possibility of buying and preparing more than you actually need.

    Once you have determined the number of guests you should take the time to delegate. A good way to save here involves getting family members to bring dishes. Others can bring beverages. This helps you cut down your cost tremendously. Take the load off yourself by making a joint effort with family. This will help you enjoy Thanksgiving without the stress of preparing huge meals and spending large sums of money that you may not necessarily possess.

    October 14, 2010   No Comments

    Grocery Saving Tips

    The monthly grocery bill is usually more of an emotional barometer than a reflection of wise planning. If you are hurried and stressed, the monthly bank statement will probably be littered with numerous, small trips to the corner grocery store.

    Shoppers who are chronically short on time are shocked to see that the dozen or so hasty trips to the grocery store rack up receipts that are hundreds more than expected. Another breed of disorganized shopper finds that instead of devoting enough resources to groceries, money disappears elsewhere, leaving the family to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and upteen spaghetti dinners. Whether you are trying to reclaim your grocery budget or tame it, the following strategies will put you back in control of your grocery dollars.

    • Set a realistic goal. The first step to staying in budget is setting one in the first place. Determine a reasonable amount of money to spend and stick to it.
    • Plan a menu with the full understanding that you – and not a personal chef who is blessedly free of kid-chauffeuring responsibilities – will be doing the cooking. In other words, create a menu that fits your life, as well as your enthusiasm for cooking.
    • But, learn how to cook anyway. Not only is processed food more expensive, it’s loaded with sodium and plenty of other unpronounceable ingredients you don’t want to feed your family. There are plenty of simple recipes that taste great.
    • Make a list of these meals and have the ingredients on hand.
    • Stop throwing away leftovers. Most leftovers can be frozen or reinvented in another recipe. An alternative is to reduce the amount you cook in the first place.
    • Use fresh ingredients first. Vegetables are especially versatile, and just because the recipe calls for frozen corn, doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to work in the celery in the fridge instead. Get creative. Instead of milk in the macaroni and cheese, use the last spoonful of sour cream.
    • Identify the items you can’t go without yet seem to always run out of. Determine how much of these items you need for one week. Then, determine the place that sells these for the best price. If the place across town sells milk 40 cents cheaper than the corner store, buy enough gallons and freeze the extras (remember to pour a small amount from each gallon before freezing.)
    • Plan enough time for grocery shopping each week. You may have to go on a different day each week, but set aside a couple of hours so that you can shop without feeling rushed.

    September 30, 2010   No Comments

    Grow Healthier Food and a Healthier Budget

    The idea of providing fresh food for your family–dirt cheap–can become a reality for you. Not only can you save money over what you’d buy at a store, but your food will be more flavorful. Your fruits and vegetables will also be healthier for you, because you harvest them at their nutritional peak, and can avoid chemical sprays or fertilizers. Gardening can be a stress-relieving, inexpensive hobby, and, if you involve family or friends, provide satisfying time together.

    Where to begin? With your taste buds. What fruits or vegetables do you like to eat? Your next step is to call a local gardening expert with questions of what grows well in your climate, what growing space requirements do individual plants have, and when is a good time to get seeds or plants into the ground. In the United States, county extension agents provide such advice free of charge, oftentimes online.

    Some plants require lots of growing room to really flourish, others are beautifully suited to container gardening. Based upon what you’d like to grow, what room do you have available? A plant has only four basic requirements: sun, good soil, water, and an adequate growing temperature. How can you provide these four elements for your plants?

    Once you’ve chosen the spot for your garden, prepare your soil for planting. Any plant can thrive if its roots can freely grow down into the dirt, and if it can readily find the nutrients it needs for growth. Buy some compost–bulk prices are cheaper than bagged–and toss it over the soil you’ll be working. Using a shovel or digging fork, mix the compost into the ground, and turn it over as you work. If you’re working with a container, make sure you blend in some top soil with your compost. When you finish, the compost will be mixed into the soil, and no large clumps of dirt will remain.

    One word of caution: start small if you’re just starting out. Get a feel for how things work the first year; those extra seeds will keep just fine for next year if stored in a cool, dark, dry place. When you’re ready to branch out, consider planting more, or different types of plants. Experiment with succession planting: using that carefully prepared soil for growing more than one crop in the course of a season. You could even try growing your own starts from seed.

    September 23, 2010   No Comments

    How to Save Ten Percent or More Every Month

    One of the most simple yet overlooked ways to save money is the “imagination technique.” No, it doesn’t mean to imagine you’re incredibly wealthy, although that can be fun too!

    The imagination technique involves picking a percentage of your monthly (or bi-weekly if you prefer) income that you would like to save. Say you would like to save 10% of your earnings, but like so many others, can’t seem to figure out where your money goes.

    The next time you’re out shopping, you’ll use your imagination to pretend everything you’re buying is 10% more expensive. That grocery bill of $50? Pretend it was $55. Bought yourself a new article of clothing for $25? Your imaginary expense kicks in, it’s $27.50. As you can see, it doesn’t seem like much, but these little piles of 10% will stack up quite quickly.

    You may be thinking this is going to be hard to keep track of. It does require a little bit of effort, but after you notice your savings adding up, it will become much easier. A great way to keep track of your imaginary 10% “pretend tax” is to just keep a little notebook in your pocket. After you make a purchase and get back in the car or get home, whip out your notebook and make a note of the 10% amount (although don’t wait too long or you’ll forget).

    Now the hard part. Obviously you still have the money you pretended to spend, and it sure will be tempting towards the end of the month to use it. Don’t. Part of the imagination technique is to pretend that the money has actually been spent – it doesn’t exist anymore. Train yourself to accept the idea that the money is spent, it’s gone, and you’ll have to make do without it.

    Of course if there’s an actual emergency or an urgent need for the money, you’ll have to use it, but isn’t that part of the reason you’re saving in the first place? Even a few weeks of using the imagination technique can add up to enough to fix minor car repairs or pay an unexpected bill.

    This way of saving money every month is fun, easy, and the only effort required on your part is to make use of something you’ve always had – your imagination!

    September 16, 2010   No Comments

    DIY Plumbing – Frugal Living

    Frugal living means making the most of the resources available to you. Some people are frugal because their resources are limited, others because they have a parsimonious character, but being frugal is smart. It saves you money, it can help the envirotnment, and best of all you don’t necessarily have to always meditate on money to be frugal. A little planning and forethought can go a long way to avoid waste and save money.

    When the home needs repairs, people call the repair man. Whether it is a plumber, electrician, carpenter or more specialized technician for air conditioning, heating or appliances, it is usually expensive. After all, these technicians have trained and need to be paid for their services. There is another option for someone who can take the time and make the effort. Find a do-it-yourself class, for example in plumbing, and learn how to do the minor repairs yourself. This will save you a lot and, if you want, let you help your friends and family. If you are not in an area where a class is easy to attend, try the internet.

    http://www.diynetwork.com/topics/plumbing/index.html

    http://www.ultimatehandyman.co.uk/plumbing_centre.htm

    http://www.explainthatstuff.com/plumbing/

    http://www.theplumber.com/faq.html

    http://www.doityourself.com/scat/plumbingairandheat

    Plumbing is the most important function in a home. When the toilet or drains don’t work, the house is almost inhabitable. You can make sure that your septic system works, your drains are unclogged, your pipes don’t leak, your taps function properly and your toilets flush correctly. These are relatively simple things to do that will save you a lot of money in the long run.

    Once you have an idea of how to deal with clogged sinks, dripping faucets, leaky pipes and plugged-up toilets, you will not have to call a plumber again. In some cases, you can fix the problem yourself even before the plumber calls back to make an appointment. Duct tape, a coat hanger and a kitchen knife will not get the job done. You may need to make an initial investment in a few tools, fortunately they are not expensive:
    Two sizes of tongue-and-groove pliers
    Hacksaw
    Metal file
    Basin wrench
    Adjustable wrench
    Two sizes of tubing cutter
    Hand auger (plumbers snake)
    Closet auger especially for toilets

    You will not only save money, but you will get a great feeling that you are keeping your home running smoothly. You may even decide to branch out and start other types of repairs. Some other tools you may want on hand are a hammer, screwdrivers, utility knife, safety goggles, work gloves, drill driver and a toolbox to keep them clean and handy. Do you have any other DIY suggestions to help make the most of frugal living?

    September 2, 2010   No Comments