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Category — Frugal Living Tip

Frugal Doesn’t Mean Cheap

Our current economy seems to be forcing us to be frugal. Save money where you can and try to curb your impulse buying. A good exercise is to write down every penny you spend for an entire week, you’ll be amazed where you can cut back a little.

So how we can cut back on our current expenses?

Take a look at car pooling to work whenever possible. Some companies actually pay you to use alternative transportation or car pools. This can really cut back on fuel costs plus put a little extra in your pocket.

Some banks have an automatic savings plan where they take your ‘change’ and put it in a savings account. Others will give you one dollar every time you use your bank card for a transaction. This is a great, painless way to set a little aside and it adds up pretty quickly. Although you aren’t spending less, you do have a little stash ‘just in case’. And if you don’t bank at one of these institutions, throw your change in a coffee can and leave it until it’s full. You will be amazed how much money a coffee can holds!

How about all those errands you run? If you make a trip every day or two, think about waiting and doing all of your driving around on one day of the week. Map out your trip so you are not backtracking. Start at the farthest destination and work your way back home. Try to make appointments for same day too. Haircuts, doctors, servicing the car. These all add up to extra cash!

Now let’s look at freebies, deep discounts and some retailer secrets!

For example, January and July are the best times to buy furniture and prices will be rock bottom. If you can plan around those times of year for your purchase, you will save a considerable amount of money. Buy furniture in packages if you can. You will get more for your money. Sometimes retailers will ‘throw in’ an additional matching piece.

If you are planning to replace your stove and can hold off purchasing it right away, try to plan around annual sales. Major appliances are often a good deal in September and October. You can get last year’s models at a bargain price so stores can make space for the new model year. Look for rebates on these items as well.

Don’t be afraid to buy floor samples or scratch and dent items. Most times there is very little visible damage to any of the pieces. If the damage is visible, there are ways to hide or camouflage it. In any case, you may save up to 50% on a refrigerator or washing machine.

If you do your homework and plan ahead you can really save a bundle.

August 26, 2010   No Comments

Using Loss Leaders to Save Money

Every week, you probably receive a pile of circulars from the grocery stores in your town. Before you say “junk mail!” and throw them in the trash, consider the ways that you can save money using these ads.

The great deals that you see on the front of the circular are called “loss leaders.” These are extra low prices that actually cause the store to lose money. Why would they offer you products at a price lower than their wholesale cost? The answer is because the stores understand how people spend money. If they offer you, for example, breakfast cereal at $1.50 per box, chances are that you are going to buy marked-up milk to go with it. Even better for the store is if they set up an attractive display of breakfast cereal, toaster pastries, orange juice and breakfast sausage. Now suddenly you are buying all of the things that you don’t need, all for the sake of saving a dollar or two on breakfast cereal.

The good news is that you can beat the stores at their own game. Gather up all of the circulars that are within a few miles of your home. Don’t worry if they’re in opposite directions; chances are, you will be going past them all within a week’s time anyway. You don’t have to do all of your shopping in one day, after all. If you live in an area that is inundated with grocery stores, then pick three stores that you would like to visit this week.

Make a list of which items are a great deal at each store. You might be buying breakfast cereal and chicken at store A, milk, eggs and pork chops at store B, shampoo and apples at store C, etc. Now make a rough menu plan. Can you incorporate all of these great deals into your weekly menu? If they’re non-perishable, can you use them within a month? If not, cross the items off. Buying food that will go bad before you eat is is not going to save you any money. What else do you need for the meals that you have planned to eat? Look through the circulars again, searching for those items. You should now have a list of where you will buy each item that you need.

While this approach takes a bit more time than doing all of your shopping in one place, it will save you money in the short- and long-term. How do you organize your shopping to save the most money?

August 19, 2010   No Comments

4 Tips to Save Money on Your Electric Bill

The trick to saving money on your electric bill is to look for small changes you can make. Each of these small changes may have a minimal impact on your bill, but when taken together the savings will add up.

  1. Turn Off Your Computer At Night
    Many people leave their computers on at all times, but there are large stretches of time when the computer is not being used. Why pay to leave the computer on overnight or while everyone is out for the day? A PC Energy Report US in 2009 found that $2.8 billion could be saved each year in the US if everyone turned off their computer each night.
  2. Avoid Standby Power Loss
    Standby power loss occurs when appliances and chargers draw small amounts of power even when they are turned off. This is what powers lights on your TV or DVD player for example. The short term cost for each devise that is left plugged in is small in the short term, but when you consider the long term cost of multiple devices, the costs add up. Some sources estimate that as much as 10% of a typical residential power bill comes from these standby losses. You can cut down this amount by unplugging devices that do not need to be on. You can make this easier by plugging things into a power strip and then simply turning off the strip.
  3. Switch To CFL Bulbs
    Using CFL or compact florescent bulbs in place of incandescent bulbs to save money. Although CFL bulbs have a higher upfront cost, they can last 10 times as long and use 75% less energy. Replacing just five 60 watt bulbs in your home can save you over $30 the first year alone and as much as $180 over the life of the bulbs.
  4. Buy a Programmable Thermostat
    Buying a programmable thermostat is another tip that involves an upfront cost. A programmable thermostat allow you to set a comfortable temperature while you are home and save energy on heating and cooling costs during the hours that you are out. Depending on your habits, you may save as much as $100 per year.

By making these 4 small changes, you will start to see savings on your electrical bill. What other small changes have you made to save electricity and lower your bill?

August 12, 2010   2 Comments

Online Couponing

Coupons are a fantastic way to save money on your weekly grocery trip. Of course, almost everyone is familiar with the coupon inserts found in the Sunday paper, or advertisement pages in magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Redbook that feature clippable coupons.

However, not everyone is aware that many money saving opportunities can be found online. Some websites require registration, so be ready to supply an email address where you do not mind receiving advertisements from the service.

Internet Coupon Sites
The Internet offers a wealth of resources when it comes to websites that publish printable coupons. Often these online coupons are for the same brands and savings amounts as are found in newspaper inserts. Anyone with access to a computer and a printer can take advantage of these services in order to save money on their grocery bill.

For many of these sites it is necessary to download and install a small client in order to print their coupons. This means that you will have a limited number of coupon prints available per computer. The more computers at your disposal, the more coupons you are able to print. When printing coupons at home it is also important to balance cost (toner and paper) versus savings. Some individuals are highly organized where others may find that it is wise to wait until a coupon is actually needed before printing it.

No Clip Coupons
Consumers do not always have the time and energy necessary to track down and print the best coupons out there. Or it may be that a great coupon is missed simply due to the overwhelming volume of coupons on the market. The following services allow the user to add coupons directly onto their store club cards. The electronic coupon is then redeemed automatically at checkout. It is a great way to save on time and coupon clutter, and every member of the family has access to the same savings opportunities when shopping.

Are you an online coupon user? What kind of great deals have you found?

August 5, 2010   1 Comment

5 things you’re wasting your money on

Frugal living is as much about what we spend our money on, as it is how to reduce the amount we spend. Common sense will tell us to clip coupons, shop sales ads, and buy generic brands as much as possible. But because life is hectic, our need for convenience can sometimes get in the way of common sense.

Let’s look at 5 things you’re wasting your money on. Chances are, you are spending your hard earned money on these very things.

Books. Why is anyone paying full price for books anymore? There is just no need. With all the book swapping and auction sites online, you can get gently used books for a fraction of the price of new ones. Buying books by your favorite author in lots is also a great way to save money. If a book you already have is included in the lot, sell it and earn a little extra money!

Convenience snacks. Anyone with kids has, at some point, broke down and bought the convenience snacks at the store. They are just so darn convenient, we forget that they are a big waste of money. Instead, buy one large box of snacks and a box of Ziploc bags and make individual portions. This applies to cookies, crackers, candy, pretzels, chips, etc.

Coffee. Yes, coffee is delicious and a necessity for almost all of us. But, do you really need to grab that $ 4.00 cup of specialty coffee at the local cafe? Even if you only treat yourself every other day, that still totals roughly $ 60.00 each month on coffee. Instead, invest in a good travel mug and brew your own at home.

Warranties on inexpensive items. Most stores offer warranties on everything you buy. Toys R Us even offers a warranty on Slip N’ Slides! Paying for these warranties is a complete waste of money, especially when you consider most people pay for them and never even use them. Unless your purchase is costly, skip the warranty altogether.

Now it’s your turn! Tell us what you stopped buying and how it’s helped.

July 29, 2010   No Comments

How to save money shopping for college school supplies

College is an exciting time for everyone. For most young people, it is the first time they will be living away from home. It’s also the first time many will have to pay their own way in life, and have the responsibility of college-related bills. There’s a lot more to college than just tuition! Today we’ll look at how to save money shopping for back to school supplies college style.

Buy in bulk. There are a lot of things that can be purchased in bulk as students get ready to go to college. Pens, Notebooks and erasers are all good staples – get it? Staples…

Textbooks. Aside from tuition, textbooks are the most expensive supplies for college you will encounter. Before you pay full price for a textbook, do a little online research. Find out if the textbook you need is available as an e-book. If so, you can save up to 50% for the price of the book. Also, see if renting your textbook is an option. Another way to save money is to see if your college textbook is available for a free download online; some of them are, so it’s worth looking into.

Computer. Every college student will need a computer. To save money, find out if your college offers a student discount by purchasing the computer through them. Some college campuses offer refurbished computers at a deep discount. Another option is to check into student programs offered by computer manufacturers, such as Dell, HP, and Apple. Oftentimes, you can even delay payments until after graduation.

Buy a discount card. A discount card for students can be used to save money on virtually everything you will need for college. You’ll pay a one time fee for the card, but then it can be used to save money on food, school supplies, clothing, computers, and much more. Check out websites like Student Advantage to find out more about this great money-saving discount card.

Barter. Never underestimate what you bring to the table. What skill do you have that can be used to barter for school supplies you need? Place an ad in the classifieds stating your desire to barter goods. Perhaps you are a skilled typist who could offer to type research papers for a used textbook. If you don’t have a particular skill, barter something material that you no longer use.

Buy away from college. Don’t purchase supplies at the school bookstore, as prices are typically higher there. Instead, stock up on supplies while you’re still at home. Buy in bulk and then store your supplies in a lockable container, to prevent them from being stolen or ‘borrowed’ without your permission.

July 22, 2010   1 Comment

Back to School Shopping Tips

Back to school. Back to shopping. Back to spending. Back to headaches. Why not avoid the headaches this year and save a little money doing it as well?

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
Garage sales, thrift stores, consignment shops and flea markets comprise the 21st-century rendition of the Island of Misfit Toys. They are renowned for containing treasures at bargain-basement prices. Designer clothing, gymnasium equipment, musical instruments, office supplies and the like are simply waiting to be hawked away. Laura T. Coffey of MSNBC, writes: “On certain days of the week, some thrift stores allow you to fill an entire bag with clothing and buy it for $3 or $4.” What a back to school bargain.

Dial It Up
Online shopping has long been known as back to school bargain alternatives to traditional shopping, forever altering the schematics of shopping. Buying clothes and textbooks online are – well, textbook back to school shopping tips. If you’re looking for a place to find great bargains…I think DollarDays knows just the place ;)

Think Tax-Free
In some localities, governments host tax-free holidays. In an era of 6-10% sales taxes, this can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings, especially as the average mom spends $1,200 per child for back-to-school needs. Find out more about tax-free holidays

Fight the Man
Forgive the 60’s mantra, but the flower children may very well have been onto something. Brand names – Hollister™, Abercrombie™, Nike™, etc. – are designed to do one thing: make the wearer feel more important. Teach children something about personal security and don’t bedeck them in expensive apparel just to “fit in.” You can find great cheap clothes to fit your kids at great prices if you know the right places to shop.

July 15, 2010   No Comments

The Frugal Teacher

Working as a teacher can get very expensive. The school is not always able to get you the supplies you need for your classroom. Being frugal is a must to have your classroom set up and having supplies for teaching your students. You can find a lot of websites to simply print out worksheets and other items for your class. These classroom supplies are free and a great addition to your teaching.

One way to get teacher school supplies is by checking out discount stores. Dollar Tree carries flash cards, wall charts, stickers, and more. You can check out DollarDays.com for online ordering. These are great supplies at a price that anyone can afford to purchase. If you don’t need the volume that DollarDays provides, many stores give discounts to teachers so do not be afraid to ask for this option.

Do not be afraid to use home items and recycle for your art projects. When you need classroom supplies many of these can be found in your own home. There are a lot of art projects that can be made with empty toiled paper rolls. You can also use egg cartons, milk jugs, and many other items from your home. Use your imagination and look up ideas online. Parents love to help out the classroom and will bring these items from home if you just ask them to help out. These will not cost the parents or you anything at all.

Many schools ask parents for gifts for the classroom. You can specify to parents that you would prefer these rather than gifts for yourself. Many parents buy the teacher a gift at holidays. By asking for other items, you can get videos, books, or other items you normally could not afford for your room. Parents do not mind as long as you make it optional. Do not force them to help you and most will be willing to do it.

Use your imagination when teaching your students. Nature is a great way to learn just by stepping outside into the world. Do not feel like you have to spend money on everything. Children can learn just as much from experiences that you can show them or tell them about in a story. This will also help to show the kids that you don’t need money for everything.

July 8, 2010   1 Comment

Back To Basics At Home

We are all looking for new places to save money. After cutting back on the extras, we start looking at the money we spend on the necessities. One area we can not escape spending money on is our home. Taking care of our home may not be an option, but how much it costs can be. A few simple steps and a few key ingredients can help you to clean and maintain your house and save you money!

Humans are messy
They always have been, and they always will be. That messiness has not changed, but everyday there seems to be a new product on the shelves to clean it up. Our grandparents did not need all these choices. And we do not need them either. Stock up on baking soda, vinegar, soap, borax, washing soda and lemon juice and you will have the solution to anything from dirty floors to grimy windows. Each of these costs pennies per use and none of them are toxic, making them earth friendly, too. Some even serve double duty in the kitchen as part of many recipes. Just combine lemon juice or vinegar with baking soda and you will see a simple, nontoxic chemical reaction that will clean everything from a clogged garbage disposal to the grout on tile floors.

Cleaning up goes beyond floors and windows
For most of us, laundry is an ongoing battle. The piles never seem to end, making laundry detergent a necessary expense. But there is a way to wash a years worth of clothes for the cost of two bottles of detergent! These recipes have been around for years and show how simple saving money can be.

Being frugal is not only for the indoors
It is just as simple and inexpensive to take care of your yard. You can save a lot of money by making your own pesticides and insecticides. Mix soap and water in a spray bottle and regularly spray your plants. This will keep aphids and other bugs from eating their leaves. You can add garlic to add an additional deterrent. The never ending problem of ants can be fixed by pouring boiling water over the mound or by treating them with a mixture made of equal parts of borax and sugar. You already have what you need to enjoy being outside without the frustration and pain of unwanted guests!

We all want to care for our homes and gardens and protect the environment. Special organic products are very expensive and make going green seem out of reach. But many natural ingredients make it possible to go green and frugal at the same time. Nothing could be easier!

We are all looking to save money and time. Thinking out of the box and getting back to basics are the way to do it! What ways do you save money around the house?

June 3, 2010   No Comments

Frugal Gardening Tips and Tricks

One of the latest trends that has come to the forefront in the past year is thriftiness. Saving a few bucks here and there adds up over the long haul. Many have taken to home gardening to shave their grocery bills down and that’s a positive step in the right direction. There are a couple of things you can do to maximize the effectiveness of a home garden.

Homemade Fertilizer
Supplies like mulch, fertilizer and other equipment from the garden supply store can be really pricey and negate a lot of the cost saving effects of growing your own vegetables. The big number one tip is composting. Almost every bit of organic scraps and leftovers from your kitchen can go into a compost pile in the backyard. Whether it’s old coffee grounds, peanut shells or grapefruit rinds, all will make for productive and nutrient-rich soil for your personal garden.

DIY Supplies
You can use old cardboard egg containers as seed starting pods for seedlings. For trellising and other structures, lumber yards are a great place to find surplus wood. Many local businesses will gladly let you rummage through their refuse heap and take away old pallets and other unneeded wood that you can use for fencing or supports. If you’d really like to take the whole concept to the next level, some relatively cheap sheet plastic and scrap lumber can be used for a no-frills, do-it-yourself greenhouse so you can get started earlier without the risk of losing plants to frost.

Seeds, Odds and Ends
While Home Depot and other mega-stores will usually have a decent selection of seeds and starter plants in the spring for you to buy, consider shopping for bulk seeds online to save some extra cash. Amazon can ship you seeds for every type of produce imaginable for free, so if you’re a regular customer and order from them frequently you may as well pick up some of your gardening supplies from them. They also ship tools like trowels, spades and the like.

These are just a few ways to start up a great low-cost, organic garden on a budget. For more helpful information, Garden Guides offers plenty of advice on the choice of vegetables and plants you can grow, as well as tips and advice to get the most out of them. Fellow gardeners in your area are also a terrific sounding board for advice and ideas, so make sure to hit up message boards and forums as well as the local farmers’ market. If you plan it out right, you can get a superb home garden going for next to nothing, allowing you to eat better and save on fresh vegetables in the long run. So, what are some other good ideas for the perfect money-saving home garden?

May 27, 2010   No Comments