Friday, April 30, 2010
I can't tell you how many times I've let produce go bad in the fridge. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. You're literally just throwing money away when you throw away bad fruits and veggies. This is one of those things that doesn't require a whole lot of extra effort but is definitely worth it!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
- "Green" coupon book - full of coupons for organic and health foods
- A bag of popcorn, along with a coupon for $1/2 (a lot of times the coupons that come with free samples are higher value than ones you'll find in the Sunday paper or online)
- Puffs Plus Sample, along with 4-5 coupons for $0.50 off and one coupon for $1 off. This sample came from VocalPoint, a marketing website that anyone can sign up for. They send you free samples and coupons in hopes that you'll spread the word, share coupons with friends, and come back and leave feedback on the products you receive. I usually bring the extra coupons to work (let me know if you want one!)
- 3 $25 BP gas cards!! Tom and I joined this program, Commute Smart, where they basically reward you for carpooling. We were only supposed to get 2 gas cards, so I need to call them and see if they want me to send the 3rd one back (I'm hoping they'll say, "We appreciate your honesty - why don't you keep it?!")
- Kotex U - free tampons and coupons
- Dove for men shampoo - great for traveling or for the gym
- Shape Magazine - A few months ago there was a promotion where you could get a free 1 year subscription to Shape magazine! This is great for reading at the gym!
How do you even find out about free samples? Usually I find out from some of the other frugal or money-saving blogs that I follow in Google Reader. I rarely go "out searching" the web for them. Occasionally I'll check Walmart's Free Sample section of their website but mostly I just sign up when something interesting pops up in my google reader.
Due to the current state of the economy, this should have crossed your mind at least once in the past year or so. If you have credit card debt, don't worry, so do thousands of other Americans. The best way to get rid of credit card debt? Just start paying it off! I recommend either
1) The Dave Ramsey method: choose your card with the smallest balance, and pay as much as you can on that card every month until it is paid off.
2) My method: choose your card with the highest interest rate and pay as much as you can every month until it is paid off. Put any and all extra money toward your cards until they are paid off!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This is something we have been doing for years. Holiday bonus at work? Savings. Tax refund? Savings. Under budget for the power bill this month? Savings. Birthday money? Savings. Win an award? Savings. Make extra money at work? Savings.
Honestly, it's one of the easiest ways to save money. You don't even miss it because you never really had it. And it really does add up fast. There is only one better way to spend windfall money...stay tuned for Tip # 21!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
This is one of those things that you're not going to realize how much you're saving unless you don't exercise and develop health problems. Exercise has been shown to help you not only lose weight, but prevent diseases associated with increased body weight (including Type II Diabetes, Coronary Artery Disease, and High Cholesterol). It can also help curb depression symptoms, help you quit smoking, and help with many, many other illnesses or bad habits that cause you to spend more money.
Not only can exercise save money on potential health problems, but you can save some gas money (and car mileage) if you're fortunate enough to live close enough to the store, work, or daycare that you can walk or ride your bike instead of drive every day.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Here is our plan for the week. Cooking should be a breeze for the next several weeks thanks to my recent Freezer Cooking Day!
Sunday: Herbed Potato soup, World's Best Potato Salad, green salad
Monday: Broccoli Casserole (we ended up not having this last week)
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie, veggies
Wednesday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
Thursday: BBQ pork sandwiches, frozen veggies
Friday: Homemade pizza
Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up with their menu plan. Which means a lot of new recipes and ideas!
This is a simple thing that you can do to save money AND energy! You can still save money even if you don't have a programmable thermostat simply by changing the temperature before you leave the house for the day or when you go to sleep. This website has a lot of information to help you learn more about programmable thermostats.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
There are several reputable websites that put out coupons every month and more and more stores are accepting them (make sure you check at Customer Service before trying to use them). Using only internet coupons is a good way to ease into the coupon world. You can visit these sites a couple of times a month (or do a google search for a coupon before you go to the store). A lot of manufacturers place coupons directly on their website. This way, you won't end up with a ton of coupons you can't use. Here are a few of my favorite sites for coupons:
A few things to know about internet coupons:
- You will need to install a "coupon printer" on your computer. It's a harmless program that needs to be installed before you can print from most coupon sites.
- You cannot photocopy them. This is illegal. A legit internet coupon should have a watermark on it anyways when it prints out.
- There is a limit on how many of each coupon you can print. Usually this limit is 2, but sometimes it's only 1. To print two coupons (per computer), simply hit the "Back" button, and then hit the "Refresh" button.
- There is an overall limit on how many coupons that can be printed from each website or manufacturer. Basically, if you come across an internet coupon that you think you might use, go ahead and print it because it may not be there for long.
- Some sites require you to "register" with them before printing coupons. If you are concerned about your inbox getting bombarded with spam or coupon messages, simply go to yahoo or google and create an email address specifically for coupon sites.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Saved $48.21 Here is what I bought:
6 Campbell's Chunky Soups
2 Trop 50 OJ's
3 Boxes Fiber One bars
4 Green Giant frozen broccoli
4 Cascadian Farm frozen berries
1 Pepperidge Farm Sandwich flats
1 box Cheeze-It's
1 can Fruit Cocktail (the penny item)
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to use coupons. The wrong way is to get the Sunday paper, cut out all of the coupons, and try to use as many as you can before they expire. The right way is to get the Sunday paper, cut out all of the coupons (and organize them either by genre - food, household, personal care - or alphabetically) and then ONLY USE THEM WHEN THE ITEM IS ON SALE!!!
Honestly, I probably only use 1/3 of the coupons that I cut out. I'll be honest, it is kind of a pain to cut them all out and organize them, but when I don't cut and organize them, I miss out on a bunch of deals, and spend even more time trying to find the coupons I need before a shopping trip.
Money Saving Mom wrote a good post about why everyone should use coupons and answers some commons "complaints" that people have when it comes to using coupons!
Friday, April 23, 2010
If something you use regularly goes on sale (say, for half price during a BOGO sale), by all means, buy several!! I've gotten so used to doing this that I cringe if I have to pay full price for a bottle of salad dressing or a package of shredded cheese! (Or pasta sauce, toothpaste, contact solution, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, coffee, pasta, frozen veggies, etc, etc etc!)
Sales at grocery stores are cyclical, meaning, every 6-8 weeks chances are the same things will be on sale (not always, there are definitely a few things that rarely go on sale - so if you come across those things you definitely want to stock up!)
If you're new to this whole concept of "stock-piling" or if you just don't have the space, just buy 2 of whatever you were planning on buying (when it's on sale, of course). It will probably be easier to start out small, because then you can really get a feel how quickly you go through various items. And as always, check the expiration date. The last thing you want to do is have to throw food away and waste money because you forgot you had something or it got pushed to the back of your pantry (I hate when that happens)!
This concept goes hand-in-hand with menu planning and keeping a price-book.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Rebates are one of the easiest ways to save a lot of money. I can't even tell you how many things I've been able to get for free over the years simply by using rebates. Sure, they take about 5 minutes of your time to fill out the request, and occasionally a stamp if it's not available online, but it's still definitely worth it. As soon as I get the checks in the mail I just deposit them into our account!
But where do you find rebates? They're everywhere! Sometimes they are in the Sunday paper, other times they'll be on company websites or even in various stores (as an in-store display or a member programs like Rite Aid's Single Check Rebates - *sidenote - I've been able to get so many things for free from Rite Aid, and on numerous occasions I even made money!). Honestly, I find out about most available rebates by subscribing to a few "money saving blogs" in my Google Reader. Bloggers who are way more advanced than I am post deals almost 24/7 and they will be the first to let you know about available rebates.
Companies offer rebates because they know not everyone is going to take the time and fill them out, but trust me, they are so worth the extra few minutes! Recently, some things I've gotten for free or close to free via rebate are: body wash, lotion, razor, face wash, a book, and a discount on our contact lenses.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
There are so many things that can be frozen and used at a later time. Have you ever bought fresh fruits and vegetables or a package of meat with good intentions to use it all only to have all or some of it go bad a week later?
Aside from the obvious things that freeze well (chicken, ground beef/turkey, fruits and veggies), there are tons of other foods that you can stock up on when they are on sale and simply keep them in your freezer. My favorites include shredded cheese, butter, and bread).
There are some items that don't necesarily freeze well as a whole, but if you cut it into pieces or throw it into the food processor and freeze individual portions, you can save a lot of money. (Think onions, peppers, etc). How often have you been cooking and the recipe calls for "half of an onion" or some other vegetable? You can double the recipe, or prepare and freeze the other half of the ingredient for a later date.
Don't forget to label your items so you know when you froze them! Ziploc freezer bags work great if you don't have a Food Vac.
Here are some helpful freezer tips to get you started.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
This goes for your whole family. I like packing my lunch soooooo much more than buying lunch at work. 1) You know exactly what you're having because you packed it. 2) It's only a few steps away in the fridge so you significantly cut down on any wasted time during your lunch hour by having to go to the cafeteria or out to eat. You can either be more productive or simply sit and enjoy your lunch break. 3) It saves sooo much money!!
Even if you buy bread, lunch meat & cheese, fruit, and a snack at the grocery store without coupons, it's still cheaper than buying your lunch every day. If you don't mind eating leftovers, just make sure you make enough for dinner to have some leftover for lunch the next day. This can prove to be challenging though if your husband eats like mine does ;)
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday: Italian Spinach Pie
Tuesday: Roasted veggies and baked pasta
Wednesday: Corn tortilla quesadillas with cilantro-avocado sauce
Thursday: Broccoli Casserole
Friday: Southwest roll-ups
Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up with their menu plan. Which means a lot of new recipes and ideas!
My mom used to get these all of the time when I was growing up. I somehow forgot that they even existed until about a year ago. The next time you go to the grocery store and they are out of what you had planned to buy, simply swing by customer service on your way out and pick up a raincheck! It only takes a few extra minutes. The best part? Sometimes a coupon shows up while you are waiting for them to restock the product you have a raincheck for!!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
...but only if it's worth it! And you must show restraint when shopping, just because you're buying a "value pack" doesn't mean it's cheaper. I've heard Costco is great, but we have a Sam's Club membership, mainly because it's less than a mile from where we live and the gas is always at least $0.10-$0.20 cheaper than other local gas stations. Before even setting foot in a warehouse club, I highly recommend sticking to your shopping list (Tip # 8) and knowing if you're getting a good deal or not by comparison shopping (Tip # 9)
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Total Spent: $21.54
Total Saved: $41.07
Not as good as last week, but when you can get peanut butter for $0.91/jar and your husband has recently rekindled his love affair with peanut butter AND his favorite kind goes on sale....you'd be crazy NOT to stock up!!
Especially for the things you buy the most often. My challenge to you is to pick 5 things that you buy the most, and in the next 2 weeks, when you are out at various stores, jot down the price on a piece of paper in your purse or wallet. You may be surprised how much cheaper things are at one store versus another.
The next step in comparison shopping is to keep track of what things cost when you get them on sale or with coupons. Another way to do this is to keep a price book. This way, you'll know what you can usually get the item for and can stock up when prices are low so you can make it to the next sale. You should never have to pay full price again!
2 Tips within a Tip
1) It doesn't hurt to do this a couple of times a year, even if you're a seasoned couponer and deal seeker. I used to always buy frozen chicken from Sam's Club, until I realized that it was actually cheaper if I bought it when it was on sale and just took the time to freeze it myself. Recently, I've been waiting for boneless, skinless chicken breasts to go on sale because I am planning a Freezer Cooking Day this month, but they don't seem to be on sale anywhere. I decided to check the prices on the frozen chicken in Sam's Club the other day, and the prices have come back down! It's actually cheaper at Sam's Club (and less prep work too!)
2) Make a game of it! My friend Penny had the great idea to (drag?) bring her husband along with her to Walmart one evening. She gave him a list of items that she wanted to price check, and she had her own list. Whoever got through their list first got to buy the item of their choice for $10 or less!
Friday, April 16, 2010
This is key to helping you stick to your budget and limit impulse buys! Before going to the grocery store, take 5 minutes to look through the flyer and write down the things you need that are on sale. The same rule applies to any store you need to go to (Walmart, Sam's Club, Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, or Petco!) You need to stick to your list and not buy anything that you haven't written down.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I have yet to do this, but have been seriously considering it. Maybe when we run out of laundry detergent. (But when you can get 2 bottles of Purex for $0.64 from Walgreens when they are BOGO and you have a BOGO coupon, what's the rush?) Trent over at The Simple Dollar has a great step-by-step blog post about how to do this.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
You save money because you don't need to heat the water. It's also good for the environment! Some people even claim it's better for the life of your clothing too! We've been doing this for years and everything comes out just as clean with cold water as it does with hot water.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
This is such a common frugal tip that it has it's own name: "The Latte Factor." But seriously, this can save you a ton of money, and time, especially with a programmable coffee maker! Simply set it before you go to bed, and when you wake up in the morning, Voila! Coffee is ready! We've tried all different brands, mainly because we buy whatever is on sale and I have coupons for. In my opinion, Eight O'Clock coffee is the best tasting and the most budget friendly!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday - Crockpot Italian Chicken, salad, cantaloupe
Monday - Baked scallops, butter noodles, veggies
Tuesday - Zatarains Cheesy Jumbalaya with shrimp & sausage, salad
Wednesday - Morningstar veggie burgers, Betty Crocker hashbrowns, black bean hummus with pita chips
Thursday - Sausage & Spinach Crescent Braid
Friday - Sushi Night with Kelly!! (Yes, we're going to attempt to make our own sushi! I can't wait!)
Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizign Junkie's website. Over 300 bloggers link up with their menu plan. Which means lots of new recipes and ideas!
This is a relatively new concept to me. It's so incredibly easy I can't believe I haven't been doing it my whole life! On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I survey our pantry, freezer, and fridge and make a mental note of what we have. I'll then look through my recipe book or head over to allrecipes.com to come up with 5-6 meals for the week.
If you are just starting out with this whole concept of saving money while you grocery shop or if you don't have a stockpile of supplies built up, you'll want to look at the flyers/ads before you go to the grocery store and base your meals off of what's on sale that week.
Another thing that I did that I've found really helpful was to make a list of our favorite meals/recipes in Google Docs (and link to the recipe if it's online). If I ever need any inspiration or feel like I'm in a rut, I'll just pull this up and cook something from this list.
If there is a recipe that calls for a lot of prep-work, I'll make that recipe on the weekend or I'll at least prep some of it on Sunday so it requires less time during the week.
If you're interested in reading more about menu planning, there are some helpful posts here and here.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The next time you make a casserole, pot of soup, pasta dish, or even cookie dough, just make two and freeze one of them. It really doesn't take that much extra time to make that second dish, and it saves a ton of time on the night you're going to make it, and hey, time is money, right?
Here is a great post over at Money Saving Mom about how to make the most of your regular freezer!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Aside from their amazing customer service, they double coupons up to $0.50, put out their own store coupons each month, and allow you to use a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item! Some stores even allow competitor coupons! Not to mention they have great items for BOGO (buy one, get one free) every single week, so it's easy to save money, even if you don't use coupons. Here is what I bought this week at Publix:
I spent $8.46 and I saved $30.08!!
3 packages of strawberries
2 4-packs of Fiber One Yougrt
1 package Immaculate Baking Co. Cookie Dough
1 Bailey's French Vanilla Creamer
4 Greek Yogurts
4 2-Liter bottles of 7-Up
2 packages of Green Giant frozen veggies
Walmart makes 3 different kinds available in a 64 oz bottle. You can purchase the smaller Softsoap or Dial hand pumps and simply refill them. Softsoap usually goes on sale for $1 or less and often times there are coupons available (and if your store doubles you can get these for close to nothing!) Some people really prefer the Bath and Body Works anti-bacterial soap (I enjoy these too, but rarely purchase them for us to use on a regular basis). These frequently go on sale for 4/$10 and there are usually BBW coupons available for 20% off a single purchase OR a free product with a $10-$15 purchase. My frugal advice would be to stock up on these soaps when they are on sale and use a coupon to save even more money or get a free lotion/body wash/candle/etc to use in the future.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Tip #1 Open up a Savings Account!
Preferably one that earns interest on your money such as ING Direct or HSBC. Your local credit union may even offer a savings account with an APY. Even though the APYs are measly right now, it's still better than nothing! When we first started saving in our ING account, I was so motivated to just log in and see our number go up! It made me want to keep putting money in the account instead of buying another pair of shoes or splurging on a dinner out!
Open up an ING Account and receive a $25 bonus, email me at email@example.com for more details!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I highly recommend and strongly encourage rescuing a pet from your local shelter or humane society. Growing up I always had border collies so I had my heart set on getting a border collie as our first dog. I don't have a single regret about not getting a border collie and rescuing Bailey from the shelter has been such a wonderful experience that I think we will always go to the local humane society whenever we are considering a new pet!
- Buy from the Shelter - There are so many good reasons to rescue a puppy from a shelter, not to mention this is your best bet if you want to save money (and get the most bang for your buck - most shelters spay/neuter puppies and administer vaccines and medicines that you would have to pay for out of pocket if you get a puppy from a friend/neighbor or buy one from a breeder). And PLEASE, whatever you do, do NOT buy a puppy from a pet store!! A lot of these puppies have been linked to puppy mills where animals are kept in tortuous conditions.
- Swing by Salvation Army, Good Will, or a few garage sales for pet gates. We priced them in Walmart and the Pet stores and the cheapest ones we found were around $30. I picked one up from Salvation Army for $4.
- Borrow from friends or co-workers! A lot of people may have old crates or gates that they no longer use or that their pups outgrew.
- Consider any fees you may need to pay if you have a pet. This mostly applies to people living in apartments.
- Comparison shop for puppy school/training classes. The cheapest options are usually offered at chain pet stores, but there may be others at your community center or vet's office. Search the web and make a few phone calls.
- As with anything else, the web can be helpful and not so helpful, all at the same time. There are plenty of websites and online pet stores that can make you believe you need a million extra things. Only buy a handful of toys to start. Your dog might end up being pretty picky in regards to what they like to play with. We've had Bailey for a year and a half and the only toys we have that have lasted this whole time are her Kong, Orbee Snowball, and various Nylabones (she's a HEAVY chewer!)
- Dog treats are one thing I get for free or close to free. Combine coupons and grocery store sales and these are definitely NOT a budget breaker. (Stay tuned to learn how to master this technique!)
- Food - As with most anything, the bigger package is usually a better value. Invest in a large food container (ours fits 25 pounds worth of food). This will not only keep your dog's food fresh but also keep any unwanted pests out of it (in turn saving you money by not having to throw out perfectly good food!) As for the brand? My advice would be try to find the "healthiest" food you can but make sure it's something your dog will actually eat!
Hopefully this helps. I can't put a price on the happiness and companionship that our dog has brought us! She's certainly worth it!
I grew up in a fairly frugal household. Mom always clipped coupons and Dad always paid cash for used cars and drove them until they died (the Ford Econoline van they bought in 1987 that died last year is a prime example of this!) I'm extremely thankful for my parents financial mindset, and feel that it has helped shape me into the person I am today.
My plan for this blog is to post various frugal and money saving tips, along with (hopefully) some deals along the way. Feedback is always welcome!!