Thursday, February 21, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #50 -


I mentioned in two posts last week about ways to save by shopping on-line. In case you missed them you can find them here under tips #44 and #45. is a site that offers you a rebate that is a percentage based on the amount you purchase from the on-line retailer. The amount varies, but once you have accumulated $20 in your account they will send you a check. You are really getting paid to shop on-line. I looked back at my account and I primarily used it for holiday shopping. Over the last 2 years I have earned almost $100 back!

It is as simple as going directly to their site - - look for the retailer you were planning to shop with - click on the retailer's icon and start shopping in the window that pops up. I always like to double check the discount code to make sure it gets applied at checkout.

Do you use or a similar site to get cash back on your purchases? Please feel free to share any experiences you have had with these type of sites.

***The link above is my referral link, thanks if you click on it and sign-up through me. My opinion is based on my personal experience and not on any additional compensation from the site.***


Frugal Living Tip #49 - Certificates Gift Certificates

If you haven't checked out yet, you need to. They offer gift certificates to local restaurants at discounted prices. The inventory changes periodically, and so do the prices. Several times a year they will offer $25 vouchers for only $2! I have snagged a few of those over the years. Make sure you subscribe to their site to find out when they are going to have those deals.

As with any type of deal make sure you check the fine print on your voucher, how your savings will be deducted. Please don't forget to tip your server based on the original amount before the gift certificate was applied.


Frugal Living Tip #48 - Grocery Store Fuel Discounts

Grocery Store Fuel Discounts

I have vivid memories from the summer of 2008. I was home adjusting to life with a newborn and a very active 2&1/2 year old. I was going stir crazy in the house - it was too hot to be outside for long with a newborn. Gas was hovering close to $4 a gallon. It cost me over $60 to fill up my SUV. (I know some things have a way of repeating themselves.)

Well, my trip down memory lane has to do with the introduction of a fuel savings program in Richmond. Ukrop's Supermarkets and Uppy's Fuel Centers combined forces and introduced fuelperks! to us. The concept was that when you spent a certain amount you received a set credit off a gallon of gas.

It was a great idea - two things you had to buy groceries and gas!

In the last 5 years, we have lost Ukrop's to Martin's and Uppy's has been bought by another company, but the opportunity to buy groceries and save on gas is still available. In Richmond, Kroger also offers a discount at their fuel centers based on the amount you spend on groceries.

Do you take advantage of the fuel discounts available at the grocery store? Are there other stores that offer this type of discount?


Frugal Living Tip #47 - Use a Water Filter

Use a Water Filter

This is a topic that can cause great dissension, because it comes down to personal taste.

Steve has no problems drinking the tap water at our house. I swear it has a "taste" to it and can't drink it unless I get it from the refrigerator water filter. I can even tell when it is time to change the filter before the light comes because the water starts to get a taste.

Using a water filter for people like me, who swear they can taste a difference in tap water, can save lots of money compared to buying bottled water. Bottled water can range from ~$0.50 a bottle to over $2 a bottle! I am not saying to never buy bottled water, but for everyday use buying bottled water can be a huge expense.

I have several reusable water bottles that I fill-up almost daily. I try to use one even if I am going to be home for the day so that I can make sure I am drinking enough. I take one with me when I am out running errands, I take one to the YMCA, I take one to work, I have even been known to take one to church.

I will admit that if you were to visit my house you would find a case or two of bottled water. I keep it on hand in case we are traveling to keep in the car, or in case of an emergency and we don't have access to clean water. But, the bottom line is that a small investment in a reusable water bottle and a water filtration pitcher or faucet attachment can save you money in the long run.


Frugal Living Tip #46 - Produce Box Delivery

Produce Box Delivery

A produce box from July

I have mentioned several times over the last few years about my bi-weekly produce box delivery from Dominion Harvest. I love it!

I first met one of the owners about 2 years ago at the expo for the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k. He explained to me that his business is a little bit different than a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) co-op. The biggest differences are that you don't have to buy a certain number of shares, and they deliver it to your house as opposed to you having to be at a certain location during a certain time frame.

I have had a wonderful experience with them over the past two years. This winter is actually the first time that I have experienced a price increase -not surprising the way gas prices have risen.

I personally get the cardinal box every other week. I have a small container garden over the summer so I supplement with that or a trip to the store. That is what works out for our family. The great thing about Dominion Harvest is that you can pick what works for your family and choose add-ons if you want to try something new.

I feel like purchasing the produce box is a savings. I save money because It comes from a local farm - less travel means lower shipping cost. It gets delivered to my door - I save on gas and avoid picking up other items while I am shopping. The best part is that I am also helping to support local farms.

Do you get a similiar produce delivery? I know there are similar businesses so please share their name and info if you use them.

***Please note this is truly my opinion of a service that I subscribed to for my family. I pay for a bi-weekly delivery and have not been compensated by Dominion Harvest for this or any previous posts on Ann’s Crazy World.***


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #45 - On-line Coupon Codes

On-line Coupon Codes

I mentioned in my post about prepaid phone cards that by purchasing them from an on-line site that I get them for less than the actual value. I also discussed the pros and cons to on-line shopping in the previous post.

If you have ever made a purchase on-line you have probably seen a box when you are entering info at check-out asking for a promo or discount code. It only takes a few minutes to look for the code and if you find one it can mean free shipping, an upgrade to a faster shipping option, or a discount on your total purchase. You can go to a few sites that provide a database for these codes such as or The other place to look is an Internet search engine. (This is a great way to try to get more Swagbucks!). You can just enter into the search engine "promo code", "coupon code", or "check out code" and the name of the retailer you are shopping with.

Do you try to look for an on-line code when you are shopping on-line? Do you have other sites that you like to search for check out codes to save on on-line purchases?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #44 - On-line Shopping

On-line Shopping

Shopping on-line can save you money compared to shopping in a store. This can be because of the ability of the on-line retailer to purchase in bulk, and not having to operate stores. Just like so many things there are pros and cons to on-line shopping.


  • It can be less expensive
  • More selection
  • You don't have to go to multiple stores looking for an item or to compare prices
  • You can also get a gift sent directly to someone for a wedding, new baby, birthday, or other special occasion
  • You can also get free shipping from some sites or free shipping if you pick it up from the actual store


  • You can't see the item in person
  • You have to wait to receive the item
  • You may have to pay for shipping
  • You have to leave information like an e-mail or telephone number in addition to your shipping address which may lead to future solicitations
  • For some people making an on-line payment can be an issue.

I like to try to support local businesses, but sometimes the deal at the on-line retailer are almost impossible to beat. It is also nice to not have to make an additional trip with kids in tow. How about you do you buy things on-line? Do you have a favorite place like amazon, or eBay that you buy from regularly? What kinds of items do you buy?


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #43 - Prepaid Phone Cards

Prepaid Phone Cards

I have not had a cell phone contract for almost 6 years. I have had a cell phone, I just don't have a contract with a carrier.

You may be curious as to how this works. I realized at the time that I was not maximizing my plan and it was costing over $60 per month. My husband gets his cell phone from his employeer, so we weren't eligible for a multiphone discount. I was able to look at my usage and I figured out how many minutes I was using a month and purchased phone cards from T-mobile that would allow me to use all of the minutes at my own pace. At that time I was able to have a 1000 minute card that cost a little under $100 last me close to 3 months. It was a huge savings!

In the last year I have had to change my plan slightly. Because of rates per minute changing, the increasing costs of sending and receiving texts, and wanting a data plan to go with my iPhone, my husband found another prepaid plan that works out better. We stayed with T-Mobile and were able to take advantage of an unlimited text, talk, and data plan for $50 per month. Also, because this is not a contract, the plan is not subject to all the additional taxes of a traditional cellphone plan. We have found it to be a great fit for me. We are also able to buy the refill cards at a discount by purchasing them on-line from The plan has worked out great for me and I am saving money. I am able to change phones at anytime if I need to, or even plans if I discover a better one.

Do you have a cell phone contract or do you use prepaid mobile phone cards? Have any of you looked into these types of prepaid plans for your teenagers? I would love to hear if that has been helpful.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #42 - Credit Card Rebates

Credit Card Rebates

If you are a Dave Ramsey fan you probably think that I am crazy suggesting a credit card. I am not encouraging you to go out and open up new credit card accounts. I also want you to understand that in order to receive the rebates that I am going to be talking about you need to pay your bill in full each month.

We have two credit cards that we routinely use - an American Express from Costco and a Visa from Old Navy. We primarily use the American Express because we get a rebate check once a year that pays us back a percentage of what we purchased with the card, both at Costco and outside of Costco. We have the Old Navy Visa to use with merchants that don't accept American Express. I get vouchers to use at Old Navy based on the dollar amount charged to the card.

We were recently invited to a dinner for a local charity. I realized when we were getting ready that I was all out of checks, and thought we would have to make a pledge and mail the check later. When we got there we realized that they accepted donations with credit cards. We made a donation with the Old Navy card to help out a local charity, and received a store credit to use for Christmas presents.

Do you use a credit card that you pay in full every month in order to receive a rebate?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #41 - Warehouse Membership

Warehouse Membership

I know that there is a big divide among people who feel that warehouse memberships are or aren't worth the cost of the membership.

I feel that they can be, but like I have mentioned other times, it is important to know the prices for the items that you buy. I have found that I can find items like ground beef and chicken breast on sale at the grocery store for less than the everyday warehouse price. But, if I need a large quantity for a special event and there isn't a sale it is less expensive to buy it at the warehouse. I have found that I can get the best prices on organic milk and Greek yogurt at Costco. I get baking supplies from there along with items like nuts and dried fruit.

There are lots of items available at warehouse stores outside of huge packages of food and gallons of laundry detergent. I personally have found great deals on clothes for my family at Costco. They also have great deals on small appliances. I got a new crockpot for Christmas from there that was comparable to the ones I was looking at in other stores, and less expensive. My siblings and I went in on a Keurig for my dad for Christmas. We shopped around and found the features that my dad wanted along with the best price to be the one sold in Costco.

One of my favorite things to pickup in warehouse stores are gift cards. We have found gift cards worth $100 for only $80 to restaurants such as Ruth's Chris Steak House or Old Original Bookbinders. I have snagged those when I knew we would be having a big date and started our big night out with a 20% savings. They also have iTunes gift cards, movie tickets, and amusement parks.

Do you have a warehouse membership? Do you use it to buy groceries and household items, or do you buy other items?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #40 - Reusable Containers

Reusable Containers

First Day of School Lunch

I have an entire shelf in one of my kitchen cabinets devoted to plastic storage containers. I use them primarily to store leftovers from a meal. This summer when I was getting my oldest daughter ready to start first grade I had a great idea. (Ok, really I saw something similar on Pinterest.). Use a reusable container with multiple sections to send her lunch to school in place of plastic bags. You can save money and "be green" from using reusable containers instead of plastic baggies for lunch and snacks.

I found a set of Ziploc containers that had three compartments. We were also looking for a new lunch box at the time so we made sure that that container fit inside the lunch box. We have now made it over half way through the school year and we are still using the two containers I bought back in August. She takes her lunch four days a week and gets a hot lunch once of week when they deliver pizza to the school. I also noticed that she is eating more of her lunch because she sees it all at once versus opening up multiple baggies and containers. I purchased a pack of silicone cupcake cups that I use to add a small item, like grapes, to the large section. The only thing disposable right now is her paper napkin.

I purchased a three pack of cloth snack bags that I send snack to preschool for my other two kids. They like to take some sort of dry cereal or crackers mixed with Craisins so all I have to do is dump out the crumbs and wash the bags once a week.

All three of my children take water in a reusable water bottle to school for their drinks.

Do you use reusable containers for lunch and snacks? Do you use them for things other than good storage? I would love to hear the ways that you repurpose them.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #39 - Host a Party

Host a Party

You are probably wondering where I am going with this. I am referring to hosting a direct sales party. There are an assortment of companies that sell jewelry, kitchen products, bags, organizational items, or food storage. I have hosted parties in the past for Pampered Chef, Thirty-One, and Premier Jewelry. The concept is you invite your friends over, a consultant from the company comes over and shows you and your friends some of the products and gives you a catalog to see other items.

The hostess can earn a lot of free products and additional discounts. The benefits vary with each company, and generally the higher your party sales are the more benefits you receive.

I know that a lot of people don't like to attend these types of parties because they feel pressured into buying something, or spending money that they shouldn't. I make it very clear to anyone who comes to one of these parties in my home, that they are under no pressure to buy anything. I never want anyone to think that I invited them over just to buy something. You also have an option to have a catalog only party. It can be really easy these days with catalogs available on-line and promoting it with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

I would suggest hosting a party if you see a catalog item that you like, but it falls out of your price range. I have been able to get several big ticket items at a 50-60% discount thanks to hosting these types of parties.

Have you ever hosted a direct sales party? Did you get items that you wanted for free or discounted? Do you have a favorite company that you like to order from?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #38 - Online Bill Paying

Online Bill Paying

We all have bills that we have to pay on a regular basis- mortgage, electricity, phone, cable, just to name a few. The question is how do you pay them? Do you write a check and mail it in a few days before it is due?

My husband actually takes care of our bills, but we have started using online bill pay. He has us signed up now to use an online service - We have participating companies, such as Dominion Virginia Power, send our bill to them. They in turn send us an e-mail notifying us of a new bill and for us to log into our account to view it. We can then schedule the payment for after a paycheck has been deposited, but before it is due. Check with your bank to see if they offer a similar service for free.

Paying bills online not only saves us the cost of a stamp and writing a check (which you are also paying for), but it also keeps us from misplacing a bill and having to pay a late fee.

Do you use online bill pay for any of your regularly occurring bills?


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #37 - Pay With Cash

Pay With Cash

I have a confession to make. I talk about saving money on all kinds of things, but I like to get my nails done. There is just something about having a manicure and a pedicure that makes me feel pretty even on the days when I barely get out of yoga pants.

Now you are wondering what on earth does this have to do with today's frugal tip. Even though I am going to the nail place in the mall to get a pedicure - I make sure I have cash on hand. They give me a punch on my punch card, and when I have 5 punches I get 2 free nail designs.

Nail places aren't the only place that you can receive a savings by offering to pay cash instead of using plastic (retailers have to pay a transaction fee whenever they process a card, even a debit card). You can bargain yourself down on a furniture purchase or a car purchase. (You can also work it out to bring in a cashier check so that you don't have to carry around large sums of money.) The other great thing about paying cash for big purchases - you aren't acquiring debt, or paying extra interest.

Have you ever asked for a discount if you pay upfront in cash for the entire purchase? What are some places that you can save a little by paying with cash?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #36 - Oops Paint

Oops Paint

Have you ever been in a home improvement store and noticed the shelf of mixed paint that is sitting there discounted? It is usually oops paint. When the paint got mixed it ended up not being the exact color that the person was looking for. Because the original customer doesn't want it, it can be a huge savings for you.

If you have a large area to paint, oops paint probably isn't your best choice, but if you are dong an accent wall or a small area it may be just enough. We painted a half bath in a previous house with a can of oops paint. Steve was smart enough to save the area behind the mirror for last. That was great because he ran out just when he got to that area. I am apologize to the new owners in case they have decided to change the mirror and now realize they have to paint too. You will have a hard time finding that exact color.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #35 - Open Box Deals

Open Box Deals

Open box deals, are items that someone has bought and returned. It could be that it is some type of electronic device that the store can't resell at full price once it has been opened. I recently found a wheat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer in Target marked down on a clearance end cap. It was there because it is an item sold on-line only that got returned to a store. It saved me over $30! I am now slowly learning how to bake with my fresh ground wheat.

My husband was the one who first introduced me to this section of the store when we were dating. We had gone to Circuit City (yes, it was a while ago) and after looking at what he was interested in mentioned the open box section. He picked up several electronic things for us when we were first married thanks to that section.

Like anything you buy just because it is a great deal you need to evaluate whether or not you really need it, can afford it, or will use it. If it doesn't fit any of those categories spending money on something you don't really need, can't afford, or won't use is just wasting money - and that is far from frugal.

Have you ever found something that you were in search of as an open box special?


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #34 - Contacting Manufacturers Part 2

Contacting Manufacturers Part 2

I talked about contacting manufacturers in tip #26 to obtain coupons and free samples. Have you ever had an item that you like, break, and then you can't find replacement parts? Throw them away and buy a new one? Don't do that - contact the manufacturer.

I recently had two OXO plastic storage container bases break. I had had them for several years and knew that I had broken them. I had looked in several different stores for replacement containers (the special lid was still functional, and that is why I wanted to replace just the base). I finally sat down one day and searched the company's website looking for replacement parts. I couldn't find any. I picked up the phone and called the toll free number. I talked to a representative and explained what had happened and asked if I could purchase just the container base. I was told that they did not sell them as individual parts, but when I told her what sizes I needed, she offered to send them to me at no charge! I was beyond excited and I figured it saved me close to $20.

I have also found replacement parts for the kids' sippy cups, some I had to pay for, some I got for free. The point is that I saved an unnecessary piece of plastic from going in the trash, and I saved money by replacing a small part and not the entire item.

Have you ever contacted a manufacturer for replacement parts? I would love to hear your story.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #33 - Redbox Codes

Redbox Codes

Have you ever rented a movie from Redbox and seen where they ask if you have a promo code and wonder how to get one?

It is really easy and there are a few ways to get the codes.

  1. Sign-in to and reserve a movie for pick-up on-line. If it is the first time you have taken advantage of this service you will get a code for a free rental when you return the movie.
  2. Sign up for text alerts, text the word REDBOX to 727272 (only available on participating carriers, message and data rates may apply, and you can always text STOP to quit). Once a month redbox will send out a text that includes a code specific to your account that will give you a free rental code.
  3. "Like" Redbox on Facebook. It will sometimes give you a code.
  4. Use the same credit cards every time you reserve your movie. It helps them see how often you are using their service. It will sometimes result in you being sent a free code via e-mail or text.
  5. Check your e-mail. I recently checked my e-mail to discover that because it was an anniversary of setting up an account with redbox that they sent me a code that was good for two weeks.

Do you rent movies from redbox? Do you have any additional tips for getting free codes?


Friday, February 1, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #32 - Bring Your Own Coffee Mug

Bring Your Own Coffee Mug

I mentioned several weeks ago with tip #9 that you can save a few cents by bringing your own reusable shopping bags. Well, you can do the same thing when you are getting a cup of coffee.

I generally bring my own coffee mug to places that have self serve coffee because of my picky coffee palate. I like to already measure out my milk and add my sweetener then fill up my mug with the coffee I want. It is my way of getting a coffee house cafe au lait or misto, for just a fraction of the price.

You can also get a discount on the price at a lot of places by bringing your own mug. I have seen a discount available at Wawa, 7-11, Starbucks, & Einstein Bros. Bagels just to name a few. (You may want to check with the location closest to you as it may vary from store to store.)

Do you bring your own mug when you are going to grab a cup of coffee?


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #31 - Kids Eat Free

Kid's Eat Free

If you have little ones like me, buying multiple kid's meals, or even one adult entree to split between multiple children can really make a dinner out become even more costly. That is why we have become very familiar with restaurants near us that have special nights where kid's can eat for free.

Just like any promotion there are different rules at each restaurant. There can be age restrictions, such as kid's under 10 or 12. There can be a limit to how many free meals you can get - some are one per adult entree purchased, some are two per adult entrees, some are a limit to how many you can get per check. Of course the free meal also must come from the kid's menu, but some places don't include a drink when it is kid's dine free night. It is also usually only valid for dining in purchases, and during certain hours.

There is a card that you can purchase for the Richmond area that allows you to get one free kid's meal per card, with the purchase of an adult entree. You can purchase it on-line from We actually won a card from the $10 school supply challenge this past summer and found we used it enough to purchase one when it expired. We only get one free meal at the participating restaurants because of the card, but that can still be a savings.

Being able to enjoy a dinner out as a family for less is always nice, but please remember to tip your server based on what your bill would have been if you had paid for the kid's meals. They still had to do the work to take your order and make sure it was prepared the correct way, and make sure that you had plenty of ketchup and napkins to go along with your free kid's meals.

Do you take advantage of kid's eat free nights? Have you purchased or used the kid's dine free card?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Frugal Living Tip # 30 - Consignment

Consignment is something that I have mixed feelings about. I know that there are a lot of people who have great success in finding clothes and accessories at consignment, second hand, or thrift stores. I am not one of them. I have given them lots of chances and tried stores in different areas, but I have difficulty finding things that work for me. I often will find a cute shirt, but then realize it is a few seasons off from my pants and I now have to be extra aware of being modest whenever I sit down or lean over.
I have had some success with children consignment stores, but primarily with items that don't get a lot of use here in Virginia - like snow boots and ski bibs. I have found that a lot of the items are more expensive than what I can find on the clearance rack when I buy ahead for next year at the end of the season.
We are fortunate that the school that our oldest daughter attends has a used uniform store. The store allows us to buy used uniforms pieces that others have donated at a fraction of the cost. (I have learned to understand the higher cost for Lands End items after I have seen the way she wears the used pieces and how well they have held up.)
I also know there are people who take all of their children's outgrown clothes to these places and get cash or store credit to buy new clothes. I personally have not done that either. I find it easier to just take a box of clothes to families that we know who have a child that can use what we have outgrown. I have heard moms say, well I give away whatever the consignment store doesn't buy from me. That is up to you. It makes me smile when I see a little girl that I know wearing a dress that my girls also wore.
I guess the bottom line is that consignment has the same shopping guidelines that anything else I buy. Is it something that I need? Is it in good condition - free of tears at the seams, not missing any buttons, not stained? Can I buy a similar item new on clearance for the same price or even less?
How about you? Do you regularly check out consignment stores? Do you find items that you need? Please share any tips that you have. I would love to hear about buying or selling to consignment stores.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #29 - Swagbucks


When you go on-line do you normally know the URL you are trying to get to, or do you go to a search engine such as google or yahoo in order to find the web address? If you are using a search engine for a lot of the time that you are on-line you may want to look into Swagbucks.

You can earn Swagbucks just from performing on-line searches. You can also earn them from watching videos, taking surveys, and playing games just to name a few. The easist way to earn Swagbucks is to get friends to sign-up under your referral link. That way you both can earn Swagbucks! (By the way - my referral link is throughout this post, so if you click on it and sign-up -Thanks!)

You can then redeem your Swagbucks towards all kinds of prizes. My favorite are the gift cards - they have Paypal and Amazon ones in addition to lots of other retail stores and restaurants. I have read of people who have saved up all of their Swagbucks towards gift cards that they used to purchase Christmas presents.

Have you ever used Swagbucks? If you have, what are your favorite rewards?


Monday, January 28, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #28 - Pampers Gifts to Grow

Pampers Gifts to Grow Program

Gifts to Grow Tag

You may not have a little one still in diapers, but you can still take advantage of Pampers Gift to Grow. The codes are found inside the packaging on most Pampers products. The points associated with the code have to do with the Pampers product that you buy. You will earn more points for diapers than wipes and the larger the package you buy the greater number of points. Pampers will also release temporary bonus codes. These are shared and posted by numerous blogs and deal sites.

So, if you see these codes what can they get you? First, you will need to set-up an account. Then start adding codes, they will give you points. I have done google searches for additional codes. Feel free to browse the rewards section. You can redeem your points towards all kinds of items - baby toys, coupons for products, photo developing, magazine subscriptions, and gift cards.

Have you taken advantage of the Pampers Gifts to Grow program? My favorite reward has been Starbucks gift cards - how about you?


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #27 - Social Media

Social Media

I am going to assume that if you are computer savvy enough to have stumbled on this blog post, then you have heard of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Even if you don't have accounts with them, you have heard of them.

I first discovered Facebook about 6 years ago. I hate to admit it, but I am in my late 30's now. It was pretty happening for me to be on Facebook and not be a college student or a recent grad at the time. I am not going to go off on a tangent and talk about all of the changes that have happened since then, but companies have really taken to Facebook to promote their products. It is not uncommon for there to be some sort of giveaway, or coupon available if you go and "like" their page.

I recently won a $10 Target gift card from "liking", commenting, and sharing a post from's Facebook page. I have also claimed a lot of free samples or coupons for a free product by "liking" a company on Facebook. I got coupons over the summer for free small McCafe beverages by becoming a follower of Richmond McDonald's on Twitter.

I find some of my best deals by "liking" local businesses on Facebook. I can find discounts if I say a certain phrase at check-out, make my purchase at a certain time, or even wear a certain color.

It can get a little bit more complicated when a company asks for permission to view certain information from your Facebook account. I would encourage you to take the moment to make sure you aren't giving away more info than you would feel comfortable sharing with a company on their site. Do you really want them to have access to all 765 of your closest "friends"?

Do you use Facebook or Twitter on a regular basis? Do you have local businesses or companies that you like on Facebook? Do you sign-up for free samples or coupons using Facebook?


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #26 - Contacting Manufacturers

Contacting Manufacturers

Is there a product that you love, but you can't find coupons for it? What do you do? Do you only buy it on special occasions? Do you ration it out and make sure you use e.v.e.r.y single drop? Do you put it on your wish list for Christmas and birthdays? Have you ever thought to contact the manufacturer?

Contacting the manufacturer is really easy thanks to the Internet. You can easily find manufacturers' websites from either their packaging or from doing a quick google search. There is usually a contact us button that allows you to share compliments or complaints about their product. Leaving either will generally result in a response from the company and sometimes coupons or samples of their product.

It is possible that you will get a "thank you for your interest in our product" form letter. But, don't be discouraged. By filling out the general information portion on the contact us form you may go into their database. This may lead to you getting special insider offers, or special coupons, or even something for your birthday. LUNA has sent me this same birthday present for the last 2 years!

My Birthday Present from Luna

Have you ever contacted a manufacturer? What types of responses have you received?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #25 - Finding Your Own Coupons

Finding Your Own Coupons

I have mentioned in a previous post about finding deals through blogs, deal sites, and in another post about subscribing to The Grocery Game. But, what if you need to buy a certain item and you want to see if there is a coupon available? Do you have to look through all of your inserts and hope that you will stumble across a coupon for what you are looking for?

The answer is no, you can search a coupon database. There are lots of sites that have coupon databases available. You will find them on lots of blogs and on deal sites. I personally use the one on Hot Coupon World's site. It is one of the first ones I used and the one I have become most familiar with.

The way the databases work are really easy. You just enter a search term - the more generic sometimes the better - and it will tell you if a coupon is available, where to find it in an insert, magazine, or the link to a printable site, the value of the coupon, and the expiration date.

You can also use the database to find your own match-ups. For example, I do the majority of my weekly shopping at Libbie Market. Because they are a small independent grocery store, there isn't a blogger or deal site covering their deals. I just look at their store flyer on-line and look for any coupons that coincide with what is on sale.

Do you look for coupons in a coupon database? Which sites do you use?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #24 - Shopping the Kroger Mega Sale

Shopping the Kroger Mega Sale

My Shopping List

I mentioned in my last post that I subscribe to The Grocery Game and get a weekly list for Kroger. The biggest reason why I do that is because of the Mega Sales that Kroger offers throughout the year. It is during the Mega Sales that I can stock-up on a lot of my kitchen staples at a fraction of the shelf price.

There are several factors that play in to being successful with saving money during the Kroger Mega Sales. My biggest tip is organization. If you go in there with just an ad and no game plan it is going to be a frustrating and expensive trip. (This can also be true for any grocery shopping trip!)

Here are some ways that I get organized and stay organized before and during my shopping trip:

  1. I select and print my list of deals from the TGG website.
  2. I also check out a great Kroger blog,, she does a great job of filling you in on another deals like Catalina's that are also going on.
  3. I pull out my coupon inserts, print any coupons necessary, and cut everything out.
  4. I figure out how many items I can buy with the coupons I have available.
  5. I make my list (see the picture) - it is usually hand written and broken down into groups of 10 (or however many items I need to buy to get the discount).
  6. I paper clip my coupons to the list and put them all in an envelope, and hit the store.
  7. When I get to the store I know how many groups of 10 I am planning to buy, so I bring in that many reusable shopping bags.
  8. When I am in the store I fill each bag individually with 10 items. When that bag has 10, I start a new bag. This keeps me from having to constantly count the items in my cart and separates any deals that may not be part of the sale.
  9. I always have a few low cost items that we use written on the list to serve as fillers to get me to 10 items in case something is out of stock or they don't have the full quantity that I want.
  10. I double count each bag, my list, and my coupons before I head to the check-out.

I don't normally pull out my coupons while I am shopping. I normally only refer to my list, and then double check everything before I check-out. I do carry an ad with me so that I can verify items if they aren't clearly marked.

I honestly will spend about 2&1/2 hours between printing off the deals, gathering and clipping coupons, making my list, and shopping. If this is your first time trying this method it may take you longer.

How do you organize yourself for special sales like these? Please feel free to share any tips or tricks that you have when shopping.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #23 - The Grocery Game

The Grocery Game

I am going to start off with my disclaimer- I am in no way being paid or receiving any compensation for this post.

With that said there may be many of you who are familiar The Grocery Game (TGG). I am copying a description of what they provide from their site.

The Grocery Game, launched in 2000, is the oldest and largest grocery savings website in the U.S. We provide members with weekly online, all-in-one lists (called Teri's Lists) of tens of thousands of grocery deals at over 150 local grocery and drug stores, coast to coast.

Teri's Lists track more important information than ANY site out there, matching sales with manufacturers' coupons, online printable coupons, coupons found in newspaper inserts and manufacturer coupons that can be sent to store loyalty cards. We are also the only site to track almost impossible to find unadvertised sales as well as sales trends.

The great thing about TGG is that they already have the deals figured out for you. You can choose how you want to view your list, items can be broken down the percentage of saving, or by the color codes based on items that are free, stock-up prices, or just buy what you need prices. I also like that you can remove items you don't shop for like baby or pet items. It really is a matter of just browsing the list, checking off what I want, and then the list tells me where to find the coupons. It gives me links to printable ones and to ones that I need to add to my store card. I already file my weekly inserts so I just have to grab the file, find the insert, and clip what I need.

When there is a promotion that you need to buy certain items, such as Buy 10 save $5, it tells me that it is part of that sale so that I get the right number. It also keeps me aware of the requirements for the coupon. If the coupon is a save $1 off 2, TGG tells me to buy 2 items.

The one downfall is that the site is not great at posting or sharing other promotions that manufacturers may have, such as Catalina deals when you buy certain products.

There is a fee for subscribing to TGG - it is $10 for the first store and $5 for each additional every 8 weeks. Personally, I tried every store in my area during the free trial period, then decided to only keep Kroger. I figure that it has easily allowed me to save more than an additional $10 every 8 weeks.

I have found that TGG can really help people that are first learning how to coupon because it makes it easy to see what is a good deal and where to find the coupons. If you haven't tried it out before, look into subscribing for a 4 week free trial. (Just make sure to make a note of when it ends so you don't get charged if you don't want to keep it, or all of the stores you signed up for.). If you would like to help me get some "free weeks" leave a comment with you e-mail address and I will give you mine for a referral credit. Don't worry all comments left here go to me to approve before posting, so it won't be made public. :)

Have any of you tried or currently use TGG? How do yo feel it compares to other free sites such as blogs and deal sites?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #22 - Discovering the Deals

Discovering The Deals

So, you may have bought a few Sunday papers by now and glanced at the weekly ads, but you haven't figured out how to get the big savings. Here is the good news - there are lots of people who already do that and you can find the information on-line for free!

There are lots of free resources to find sales. It really just involves you performing a Google search. If you find a site that you like, bookmark it or become a "follower" or "subscriber". Some words that I would suggest for your search are "coupon", "match-up", "sale", the name of the specific store you are planning to shop at, and the time frame of the store's ad. Most ads either run Sunday-Saturday or Wednesday-Tuesday.

I have a few blogs that I like to check out. When I was still shopping at Martin's I would look at For The Mommas, she is in Pennsylvania so she shops at Martin's sister store, Giant. Another great site that you can check out is Money Saving Mom - she has a section that she gets contributors from all over the country to submit their local store deals. Tiffany is a blogger in Richmond who posts match-ups for Martin's and Kroger at Young and Frugal in Virginia!. If you just want a heads up on the best grocery deals in Richmond check out the weekly post that Alison, of Richmond Bargains, post every Wednesday to RVA deals on the RVA news site.

There is also the option of joining (for free) couponing sites such as Hot Coupon World, We Use Coupons, or A Full Cup. They have forums that are broken down by store and people will discuss deals that they found, help you figure out a game plan, and post previews of the weekly store ads.

The great thing about any of these resources is they tell you what is on sale and what coupons to use in order to get the best price. When I first started couponing more seriously a few years ago I appreciated learning from the forums and bloggers what was a good price on an item and the sales cycles.

There is a little bit of lingo that you may want to learn so you can understand what they are talking about. I am leaving you with this link to a page from Hot Coupon World - Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Coupon Terms.

Do you have a favorite blog or deal site that you like to check out? Please feel free to share a link!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #21 - Manager Markdowns

Manager Markdowns

One of my favorite places to find deals on groceries is to look for manager markdowns. They can be a great savings on meats, produce, or bakery items. My mother-in-law was one of the first people to tell me about what she called "thrift aisle" at Ukrop's. I remember her telling me about getting up early to be outside of Ukrop's before they opened on Monday mornings at 7AM to see what was on thrift from the weekend. (For those of you not from Richmond, Ukrop's was a Richmond-based grocery chain that was family run and closed on Sundays.)

These items are generally a day or two away from their sell-by or best before dates. Sometimes the department got a new delivery and needs to get rid of the older product. It could also be that the box got crushed, or the can dented.

I obviously use common sense and my same criteria for buying something on thrift that I use with the rest of my shopping. I look to make sure the product is still usable - not stale, molded, or just looks generally "off". I evaluate if it is something that we will eat, can use in the next day or so, or if I am able to freeze it. I also keep my target prices in mind, just because it is markdown doesn't mean it is the best price.

It is important to keep in mind what your budget is for that trip, or week, or month. If it isn't something that you need, or can use, regardless of the deal don't buy it.

Do you regularly check out the manager markdowns?


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #20 - Rebate Checks

Rebate Checks

My Prepaid Rebate Card

I mentioned prepaid rebate gift cards very briefly in my last post. It was coincidental that as I was getting ready to begin this post, I received a $15 prepaid gift card as a rebate from Proctor & Gamble in the mail.

Rebates are not anything new, but they are another way to increase your savings. They require a little bit of work and you have to make sure that you follow all of the instructions and guidelines on the rebate form and the fine print at the bottom of the form.

This is another case where organization helps. I try to paper clip the receipts to the paperwork in the event I don't have all of the requirements needed or time to fill it out immediately. I also try to clip any UPC's that are required before I put the items away from my shopping trip. I used to make copies of all of my receipts and forms. I generally only do this on higher value rebates like $10 or higher.

Rebates are becoming easier to submit via the Internet. Staples is a great example of easily submitting rebates on-line using codes that print out on your receipt. I was able to do this recently also with a Starbucks coffee purchase. I just had to submit pictures, that we took with a cell phone, of the receipt. It can still take 4-6 weeks for these electronic ones to be processed and to receive your check, but not having to pay postage is another savings!

Do you submit rebates on a regular basis? Do you have any tips for keeping everything together?


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #19 - Gift Card Promotions

Gift Card Promotions

I am sure you have seen the store sales flyer that advertises if you buy a certain number of a select item or group of items you will get a gift card for a certain amount. I have seen these in numerous places, sometimes it means that you still have to fill out a rebate form and mail it in for a prepaid credit card. My favorite ones though are the ones that Target offers.

The Target ones are usually rather straight forward and the great thing is they are available to use immediately after the transaction is complete. I have bought just the select items in one transaction and then loaded the rest of my purchases on the counter to use the gift card and get the savings in my second transaction. I sometimes hold onto them if they are a lower amount like, $5, and will use it to fulfill the promise of a snack on our way out to my kids for being good while we were shopping. I also hold onto them to redeem on a future gift card offer. The great thing about the gift cards is that they don't expire!

I know someone is reading this and shaking their head wondering how on earth is buying stuff to get a gift card frugal? Well, you are right. If you are buying something that you don't need it is not frugal. Target often combines gift cards to buying multiple packs of diapers, toilet paper, or Starbucks coffee beans---Things that I buy on a regular basis and can combine with manufacturer and sometimes store coupons to get a really good deal. When I factor in the additional savings that I am getting back in the form of a gift card it can make the deal even better. Yes, it can be seen as "bait" to get me back into the store. But to be honest, I was going to come back anyway - with or without the gift card.

It is important to check the policy or read the fine print at other stores when they have this type of offer. I remember several years ago having my plan fail when I went Christmas shopping at Toys R Us with a coupon for a gift card if I spent a certain amount. I knew I was going to be buying that much and was excited to get a little bit back, only to realize that the gift card that I was getting was not going to be activated until 6 hours after my purchase - forcing me to come back and use it. I still saw the gift card as a savings, like I said I already knew I was going to be spending that amount. I didn't add extra things to my cart to make me hit the target. I just had to be strategic about when to come back and what to buy the next time.

I have also used $5 Target gift cards that I didn't immediately redeem to give out to homeless people on the street. I figure it allows them to maybe get some small toiletries or if nothing else get some food at the snack bar.

Do you utilize gift card offers? Do you normally hold onto the gift card or do you redeem it right away?

Please feel free to share any tips that you have!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #18 - Understanding Store Policies

Understanding Store Policies

Not knowing the store policies can cost you extra money. It can be things like a limit in how many days following the purchase you have to return an item, their coupon policy, or what items are included in a sale.

One thing I learned as a child shopping with my mom is always ask if an item can be returned. But, even if it can be returned it is important to know if there are any exceptions in when or where an item can be returned. There can be different time frames on different items. Some stores are starting to print on their receipts how long the receipt is valid for returns and that is making it easier for them and us. Purchases that include electronics or video games usually have a short window of opportunity and generally have to be in the original unopened package. I recently saw a sign in a store that clearance items with a certain percentage off or higher had to be returned within 3 days. It is also important to make sure that if you are buying an item from a store with multiple locations that you can return it to a different location.

Not knowing that there is a limit to how many coupons a store accepts, will allow to double, or will combine with other offers can also cause your savings to diminish. It is also a huge time and frustration saver to know whether or not they will accept printable coupons and if their is a limit on the amount of the coupon. I have not found a store in the Richmond area that will accept a coupon printed from my computer that has the word free in it. That means wording such as "buy 1 get 1 free" or just a free item up to a certain dollar amount.

The other thing I have had happen to me is that I have a coupon, or see advertised a sale and select a few things to purchase, only to get to the register and have a higher total than anticipated. It is usually then that I discover the item is not part of the sale or covered by the coupon. It could be because the item is already on sale and the coupon is for regularly priced merchandise only. It could be that the item is one of the gazillion exclusions that I thought I read, but somehow overlooked in the fine print at the bottom of the coupon. It could also just be that it had been put in the wrong place by someone.

My best advice is to actually go to the store website and look for their coupon policy, if possible print it and take it with you. I have discovered that cashiers do not always understand coupons. Having the policy with you can help you out. Remember that if you think you are using the coupons correctly and the cashier refuses to accept it you can always ask to talk with a manager or finish your transaction and then take the items in question over to a customer service desk.

Please feel free to share any tips or personal stories!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #17 - Understanding Types of Coupons

Understanding Types of Coupons

You may have realized that next to the expiration date on most coupons is the phrase "manufacturer coupon". This of course means that the coupon was released by the company that makes that particular product.

The other thing you may notice on manufacturer coupons is the phrase "Do Not Double". This is really only a concern if you shop at a store that doubles manufacturer coupons.

You can load coupons to your store loyalty cards. I know that I have received e-mails from both Kroger and Martin's with special coupons for our household. Make sure you have registred your card with each store to get these offers. These coupons have been for both store brand and brand name items. The Kroger site allows you to add lots of manufacturer coupons to your card. These coupons will not double like some manufacturer ones will in my area. You also cannot use these with a manufacturer coupon unless you are buying more than the electronic coupon covers.

You may have also noticed that there are a few coupons that say "store coupon" and then have the store name and logo on the coupon. Target store coupons say "Target Coupon". In case you are wondering where you can find the store coupons. Target coupons are occasionally in the Sunday paper, but they always have them available on their site. Walgreens has their store coupons at the front of the store in the monthly coupon booklets. CVS has a machine that prints coupons at the front of the store when you scan your CVS card.

What you may not realize is that you can "stack" manufacturer coupons and store coupons. Target, Walgreens, and CVS are the stores that I have been able to do this. This can be a big savings!

Please feel free to add any information I may have missed or contact me with any questions.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #16 - Buy Generic Holiday & Seasonal Items

Buy Generic Holiday and Seasonal Items

My All Occasion Gift Bags

If you read tip #15, you may think I am referring to store brand items again. That is not at all what I mean.

What I mean is buying items that can work for more than one occasion. This can mean buying things like wrapping paper and gift bags in solid colors or patterns that can work for more than just birthdays or showers. Buying decorations that can extend past the holiday and represent the season, like pumpkins and fallen leaves in the fall, and snowmen in the winter as opposed to more specific Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations like black cats, turkeys and Santa Claus.

You can even use this idea for party or shower decorations. Instead of buying everything within a theme, focus on a color that coordinates with it and just get a few of the themed items - or better yet use what you have available. Items like teddy bears, trucks, trains, dolls, books, or blocks for a baby shower or candles and flowers for a bridal shower. Let the food be part of the decorations. Curly lettuce can make a plain serving platter look more colorful and attractive.

You may even want to look for notecards that you can add to a gift instead of buying a specific card. You can also use these for thank you notes, or just a note to let someone know you are thinking about them.

When you have generic items available it can save you money and a trip to the store.

Do you have any ways that you use generic themed items?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #15 - Buy Generic

Buy Generic -Store Brands

As a pharmacist I am always encouraging my patients to buy the generic equivalent of what they needed. This is true of over the counter medications and prescription drugs. There were always a few exceptions, and I won't go into those, but generally speaking store brand ibuprofen is a huge cost savings compared to brand name Advil.

This is true of lots of items in the grocery store. I haven't found coupons in years for a good deal on canned beans or tomato sauce for taco or chili nights. I have learned to wait until I see a good sale or an in-store deal. The store brands will follow the sales cycles that I mentioned a few post back.

Although I have been satisfied with the majority of my store brand purchases, the big one that I haven't been happy with is paper products, like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues.

How about you, do you buy store brands? Are there some products that you will only buy the brand name?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #14 - Wait To Buy

Waiting to Buy: Avoiding Impulse Shopping

I have talked about understanding sales cycles and buying this season's clearance for next year. Avoiding impulse shopping falls in the same category.

My husband, Steve, and I are both big research before we buy people when it comes to a high dollar purchase. We always check consumer reports and any reviews along with shopping around for the best price. The jeweler who sold Steve my engagement ring commented every time we stopped in to get it cleaned and inspected, that he had never had a customer who had done as much research as Steve. I like to think that reflects highly on him choosing me. :)

I realized recently that this concept needs to applied more diligently to our everyday lives. I enjoy being able to go through the Starbucks drive-thru for a pick me up when I am out in the afternoon, but spending $3 on a cup of coffee is far from a frugal idea. For the record, I don't do this daily but at least 2-3 times a week, and that can add up significantly. If I can forgo the instant gratification of hitting the drive-thru and wait a few minutes and make my own cup of coffee at home it can be a savings of $6 -$9 a week, which leads to a $24-$36 savings a month, and $288-$432 savings a year!

Starbucks may not be your weakness, but perhaps adding miscellaneous items to your grocery cart that aren't on sale or needed for your weekly menu plan is. Buying an item from the clearance rack may save you some money from the original price, but if it isn't something that you really need or have a definite use for, it is not a savings. I know that I have personally found lots of "deals" that I ended up not using and then placing them in a goodwill or yard sale pile.

The bottom line is if it isn't on your list or something that you have been looking for then buying it - even on sale - isn't a savings. Especially if it ends up being clutter or something that you have to end up giving away.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #13 - Menu Planning

Menu Planning

My very first tip was get organized. Menu planning requires some organization, but is a great way to help you save both money and time.

Menu planning is a great way to take advantage of what you already have on hand in addition to weekly store sales. When you have a plan for what you have on hand, you have less waste and save money.

I was surprised at how much easier my day seemed to go when I didn't have the what is for dinner question in the back of my mind all day long.

Meal planning is not intended to be something that causes you more stress so do what works for you. I generally plan for a leftover night and a dinner out once a week. Having meals or portions of meals already prepped and in my freezer also helps to make menu planning easy to do.

Here is an example of my weekly menu plan: (the dinner leftovers were planned for lunches this week)

  • Sunday- Chicken Tortilla Soup (made extra and froze it for another night)
  • Monday- Cheese Tortellini with peas and bacon crumbles
  • Tuesday- Hawaiian Chicken (a meal from the freezer that cooks in the slow cooker) with noodles and steamed veggies
  • Wednesday- Community Group - I am bringing Mac & Cheese for the kids
  • Thursday- Taco Night
  • Friday- Pancakes, Eggs, & Bacon with applesauce and fruit
  • Saturday- Dinner Out

Do you menu plan? Please feel free to share any tips for how you plan and a favorite meal.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #12 - Freezer Cooking

Freezer Cooking

Meals Ready For The Freezer

I know the name may imply it, but freezer cooking does not mean that you are cooking your dinner in the freezer. What it does mean, if you are not familiar with the idea, is that you spend a little bit of extra time cooking extra and prepping items in advance and then putting them in the freezer for a future meal.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love freezer cooking. It has saved us from take-out or delivery so many times. It has also allowed me to help out others when they are sick, had a new baby, or just to bless them when they have a lot going on. My favorite thing is that I make a big mess all at once and have less to clean-up on the other nights.

There are several different ways to freezer cook. Some people like to take an entire day and make enough meals to last entire month. Personally I like to take advantage of deals when I find them and prep and freeze the items. I always have ground beef and boneless skinless chicken breast frozen in meal sized portions (for us that is about one pound). When I find these items at my stock-up price I buy about 10-15 pounds at one time. I will clean-up the chicken and cut some of it into bite size pieces and strips so that it can easily be added to a soup or stir-fry.

You can make freezer cooking work for you based on what your family eats on a regular basis. I like to put several pounds of chicken in my slow cooker with barbecue sauce then shred it, and place it in several quart sized freezer bags. This allows us to have barbecue chicken sandwiches for a quick meal on a busy night or for a Saturday lunch. You can start off slow by just browning twice as much ground beef one night and freeze half. That is what I love about freezer cooking, it allows me to take advantage of a day when I have extra time and save myself some sanity on a day when I don't have extra time.

Do you utilize freezer cooking? Please feel free to share a favorite recipe or tip.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #10 - Understanding Sales Cycles

Sales Cycles

You may already be familiar with the concept of a sale cycle. It essentially means that there is a week or two out of each quarter for the store that an item is going to be at it's absolute lowest price. There are always exceptions to every rule, and in this case you may see highly competitive items like sodas and cereal hit this rock bottom price more than once a quarter.

If you use coupons this is a way to get great savings and sometimes free items. If you don't use coupons that is ok. This concept can be applied to non-grocery items and also relates to frugal living tip #7. Sales cycles are not only based on quarterly sales in the store, they are also based on seasonal demands. Think about it, fresh produce is always at it's lowest price during the months that it is harvested.

I wrote this post back in November 2010 that breaks down what months things tend to go on sale. I hope it helps you.

Feel free to ask any questions.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #9 - Bring Your Own Bags

Bring Your Own Shopping Bags


Bringing your own shopping bags is not only environmentally friendly, it can also be friendly to your wallet. Several stores will give you a discount if you bring your own shopping bags to the store. It is generally a discount of $0.05 for each bag that you are able to use for your purchases. If you are not interested in the small savings, there are several stores that give you the option to donate your savings to a local charity. CVS has a tag you can attach to your reusable bag and have the cashier scan, after four scans you earn a $1 ExtraBuck.

For those of you that have trouble remembering to bring your bags into the store write it at the top of your shopping list, or place your shopping list in the bag before you leave the house. Those are two things that work for me.

Do you have any tips for remembering to bring your own bags?


Monday, January 7, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #7 - Buy Now For Next Year

Buy Now For Next Year

Costumes for Halloween 2013

This past week has been a great time to look for items like gift tags, ribbons, and wrapping paper to use for next Christmas.

In the next few weeks stores will start bringing out clothes for Spring and Summer. That means they need to start clearing floor space and reducing fall and winter items. I have been able to get some great deals on kids clothes this way. It also helps that my kids aren't growing as fast now.

This concept can work for anything - I buy Valentine's plates and napkins after Valentine's Day and then I have them the next year for school parties. I bought all of my kids Halloween 2013 costumes at Target for 50-75% off after Halloween 2012.

Buying ahead is a great way to save money, but like I mentioned in frugal living tip #1, you have to be organized. If you don't remember that you bought it, or where you stored it, it isn't a savings. I keep items like Valentine's Day plates, napkins, and stickers to make this year's valentines in a tub. I keep the Halloween costumes hanging in a closet in the guest room. I pack any holiday items up with the holiday decorations and they go to the attic.

I want to leave you with this final thought - you aren't saving money if it is something that you don't have a real use for or a place to store it neatly until you can use it. That makes it a waste of valuable space and a future garage sale/donation item.

Do you have any items that you always wait for the end of the season? Do you have a special way of keeping them straight and remembering what you bought?


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #6 - Shop From Bulk Bins

Shop From Bulk Bins

Photo credit Simply Shari's

Have you ever paid attention to the per pound price for items that you purchase? You may be able to save money by shopping from the bulk bins. I have found the bulk bins to be a great place to save money on items like nuts, dried fruit, grains, and spices. It is also great if you only need a small amount of an item or want to try out something new and don't want to buy an entire package.



I first discovered the bulk bin savings about 12 years ago when I was making a a dish of poppy seed chicken for about 50 people. The recipe (when changed from 6 servings to 50 servings) required close to 1 cup of poppy seeds. I was floored when I was in the grocery store and realized how much it was going to cost to buy enough in the little bottles found in the spice aisle. I ended up at Ellwood Thompson and found it in the bulk bins for a fraction of the price. I can't remember how much I ended up paying, but I remember it being a dramatic savings!

Do you normally shop from the bulk bins and if so what do you buy?


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #5 - Don't Buy It - Make Your Own

Don't Buy It - Make Your Own

I know that some of us are better gifted in this area than others. I have tried to make clothes before, but after the time, frustration, and my poor sewing skills I realized that it was better to buy them when I could find a good deal (like on the clearance rack).

I have discovered that for us I can save money by making things like my own chicken broth. It is super easy to make, it uses items that I have on hand, and best of all I know exactly what is in my chicken broth as opposed to reading a list of ingredients on the side of a box. The same goes with baked goods, and nothing beats a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven!

Homemade gifts are also well received. I enjoy sharing the jams, applesauce, and applebutter that we make throughout the year with friends and family. I figured out how to make a nursing cover when my youngest was born. I have used the same pattern and made several to give to friends. I have fun finding the fabric that fits them and their personality, and it is a fraction of the price compared to buying one in a store.

What are some of your favorite homemade items? I would love to hear what some of you are making instead of buying.