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?