Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Changing Your Life

...on making money.

    Ramit from I Will Make You Rich has some very thoughtful insights here. (Skip the biz pitch at the end, though, unless you plan to take his program.)

After years of trying this and that, I've found that I must do one thing to really start getting ahead. And this mantra of financial responsibility is:

Practical ways to do that? They generally boil down to three things:
*Find ways to cut back...not just on what you want, but what you need.
*Make extra income (or get stuff you can use or sell) -- a contest won, free product offers, stuff sold, quick job for someone, a freelance project. Doesn't matter if it's small or large.
*Now put the money saved away...in a bank, a CD or other investments. Don't forget other ways to invest, either -- like buying a case of your favorite soup when it's on sale.

Keep doing this, and watch your money grow, slowly but surely. Three years ago, I had $75 a month automatically drawn from my credit union account (another way to save...on fees!), and deposited in another investment account. Last month, I opened the statement...and nearly fell down, to see how much had accumulated in there.

You can do this, too -- with as little as a ten-spot. But it has to happen every week...or every month. Without fail.
   You can do it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Free Coupons, Free Items...Just for the Asking!

I'm guessing you wouldn't mind getting coupons for discounts on, or even free items...
would you?
    Try this list of companies who provide them -- for just a quick e-mail!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Holiday Thoughts...in June!

Maybe it's the sizzling temps and hot winds we've had to endure lately, but I find myself reading Christmas stories. Thinking about snow and cold weather is one way to cool off!

In the same vein, I've started to think --
What are we going to give for Christmas this year?

Better now than later, here are three excellent links that give a lot of ideas:

The Get Rich Slowly Holiday Gift Spectacular. (But don't miss their "Ask the Readers" ideas for frugal Christmas presents and traditions, either.)
Plonkee has some good ideas for frugal purchased gifts. (Broke Grad has some helpful thoughts on the subject, too!)

Those balls of interesting yarns have been in the corner for a year -- I want to knit some of the people in my life some swanky, warm house socks. I also want to cross-stitch names on the family's Christmas stockings. (Marker on 3 x 5 cards, pinned to the sock, has worked far too well for too long.)  I was even thinking about mixing dough for some of our favorite cookies now, and stashing it in the freezer -- we may use it up before Christmas, but maybe not!

One thought: Daughter #1 is a whiz at covering blank books and notebooks with unusual fabrics and wallpaper...I wish she'd do a whole set for me this season. (I may just give her the blank books, as a little hint.  :)

It might be a good time for you to start considering this subject, too...at the least, it will keep you thinking cool.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Frugal Tips from the Great Depression

My grandma lived through this period as a young housewife with several kids to support. By the time I came along, some thirty or forty years later, she was still doing some of the things that had kept her going through that period, including:

*Don't throw any scrap of fabric away. If you can't repair the clothing, cut out the less-worn areas, and make quilts. (Or braid or crochet rugs.)

*Grow a big garden. Now can and freeze everything possible from it. (I never saw Grandma dry veggies or fruit, though it's helpful to know -- and do.) 

*Pick it yourself. (I remember Grandma picking blueberries into her apron, looking like a German peasant. I was picking berries, too -- straight into my mouth!) Make friends with the farmer, and glean fruit, potatoes and such when the regular work is done. Or go to a pick-your-own place.

*Sell some of your extra for cash money. Grandma would get up early and take garden produce, as well as eggs from her flourishing henyard, and go to her stand at a farmer's market in Grand Rapids. People vied for her stuff, including bouquets of Queen Anne's Lace and chicory that she harvested from the ditches and fields around her place.

Grandma died in 1972 -- I miss her. But I still use many of her precepts today.

Here's another grandmother's tips, learned well from hard times.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Saving for College

Getting ready for college this fall...or starting to save for college? Here's more than a hundred tips that will help you save money, time and energy.

Money was tight growing up, and some things really helped me make it, all the way through grad school. These may help you, too.

*Alternate sources of protein -- if you can't afford steak, try tofu. We often ate smelt, a tiny fish that you munch, bones and all. Octopus was surprisingly cheap, too. (Try an Oriental grocery for even better prices.) Beans and rice are the standard; they're cheap, tasty and pack a real wallop.

*Work your way into housing. Become an R.A. for your dorm, or do custodial or cafeteria work to pay for your room. Find a family who needs help, and offer your services. I had a lovely top-floor room, plus access to bath and kitchen, in an old house in exchange for cleaning, taking care of the youngest child occasionally, and walking the dog.

*Keep your eyes open for freebies. Is that a chair parked by the edge of the dumpster? Take it home, scrub it up, and you've got a comfortable place to study -- for free. Garbage pickup days are the best -- or when students from the university are moving out. (Boulder, home of the University of Colorado, is famous for goodies on days like this.) If you can't use it, sell it.

More tips coming --  

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Save Even More at the Dollar Store!

...by joining their readership, like Dollar General's e-mail newsletter. Check up with them on Facebook, too, for extra savings.

Big Lots has a similar program, except you get your own little customer card, and a chance to rack up points toward rewards discounts!  FAQs are here.

Every little bit helps...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Travel In Style

Taking a cruise may be cheaper than ever, thanks to our tight financial times. Cruise ships still need to fill their cabins -- and they're willing to cut prices, if that's what it takes. Right now, especially if you can leave within the next few weeks, you can do the Caribbean for less than $300 roundtrip!

I've been pricing Alaska cruises for September...just thinking, mind you... and they're clocking in at $599 or more -- a 50-75% discount. Wow.

The two best sites, so far -- Vacations to Go and Last Minute Cruises. Vacations has a "90-day ticker" that gives you best prices all over the world, including the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico and Europe. Their regular search is excellent, too, and they'll give discounts for seniors and military experience.

Last Minute Cruises excels in that -- trips that are a few days, weeks or even months ahead. A June 20 Carnival cruise to Alaska -- 7 nights for $449! (The link has a bunch of other specials, too...take a look.) 

Take some care when choosing your plane ticket (late Tuesday night and very early Wed morning are the best times to look -- try Kayak), and you've got a luxurious trip for less than a cheap hotel and meals. Now that's a bargain!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Songs to Download...Free!

Free workout music, thanks to Subway and The Biggest Loser! Park yourself here...the download only takes a minute, and you've got twelve new songs, everything from "Telephone" to a Lady Gaga selection.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Living Carefully When Others Aren't

Are you living in an area that demands more to live there? I know all too well what this feels like. For the past twenty years, we've been residents of Douglas County, Colorado -- considered one of the highest-income counties not only in Colorado -- but the country.

And if you're wondering -- are we higher-income? Nope.

Here's a helpful post from one of Money Saving Mom's associates on thriving in a high income area...even when your income is a bit less!  Lots of good tips.

Hope you had a good Memorial Day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Purex 3-in-One Laundry Samples!

I got to test these out when they first came on the market...and they're fabulous. Seriously. One sheet -- toss it in the washing machine, along with your dirty clothes. They provide the soap and softener...as well as a handy dryer sheet when those wet clothes go into the dryer! How convenient can you get...

What I especially liked about these, though, was their versatility. They're much handier for vacations, camping and getaways than lugging along soap, etc. -- or having to try to figure out where to get cleaners without buying a big box. Household tip people suggest keeping a dryer sheet in your suitcase to minimize odor and keep out bugs. Keep one of these sheets, and you've got a quick way to do a last-minute wash, as well!

Get your own two-pack FREE by requesting them here.

NEW Giveaway!

It's a new contest! Blog readers liked the Carolina Pad collection giveaway so much that I'm doing it again --

take a minute to leave a comment on any of the posts for the next few weeks, and you're entered to win a "Chat Bundle" of Carolina Pad's "Chat" collection -- including a binder, 1-subject notebook and three 2-pocket folders. (In fact, it's so new that it's not on the website yet! But each item is covered with stylized words and letters...perfect for a returning-to-school kid or writer of any age.)

You can follow Carolina Pad on Facebook , or Twitter (@carolinapad). Contest ends June 10, and we'll draw a random winner soon after.

Take a minute to let me know your favorite Carolina Pad collection...or:
What would you use your "Chat" collection for?

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free Year's Subscription to Ready Made!

Run, do not walk, to this site and nab yourself a FREE 6-issue subscription to Ready Made magazine. It's part crafts, part home dec, part woodworking, art and sewing -- and a heck of a lot about repurposing items, making do, and redesigning. You'll be amazed at how much it broadens the possibilities of what you can do with your clothes, furnishings and home.

Both girlies have found this mag refreshing and helpful, too. Quick, hurry before all the subscriptions are gone!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Food for a Buck

Could you do it? These people lived on $1 a day for their food costs -- and quite successfully, too. (A plus: they also cut way back on their junk food eating...and lost weight.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Junk Mail Conquered! (Or At Least Reused)

Is your junk mail piling up in a dusty corner? Try Grocery Cart Challenge's ten suggestions on what to do with junk mail, from a handy funnel (just cut a corner of the envelope) to ethnic jewelry. Kewl...

Daughter #2 just said (about her father): "He's got to let his mind just wander sometimes. It's old enough to be out by itself..."   !!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant...free!

Samples are here, courtesy of Walmart. This is great stuff, if you have trouble with this area of your life. Very effective!

Be sure to stay in the neighborhood before you leave Walmart.com. They have other samples worth requesting!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

95 New Frugal Thoughts

95 collected posts on a variety of frugal subjects,  thanks to Rowdy Kitten. They range all over the place, from transportation to jobs to food to...

Take your time, and enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Great Food on A Food Stamps Budget

Three chefs and a food magazine editor were asked to fix a week's worth of meals on roughly $68 -- a basic amount for food stamp recipients. Here are their results..and they did better than you would think!

One rule they uniformly followed -- avoid processed foods.

They also used a lot of chicken, ground beef. Beans made regular appearances, as did chilies and other spice-ay stuff. (Beans and rice are a complementary protein -- and bring out the best in each other nutritionally.)

Part of me was a tad amused at all this fussing about price -- the two of us live on $40 or less a week for food. Combined. Without being on welfare. I'd add a few things that have helped me (Husband doesn't shop much):
*Check the marked down/scratch and dent bins regularly
*If possible, buy everything on sale...or with a coupon...preferably both!
*If things are really tight, a pound of meat (ham, ground beef, pork) can be used in two or three meals. (Just means less meat in your chili or soup -- substitute rice, more vegetables, or in the case of soup, a beaten egg.)
*Eggs for breakfast help keep you from being hungry later in the day. Ditto yogurt. (I can get the latter for 25 cents a cup in the marked-down dairy section at King Soopers.)
*If it's on sale, and you can't use it all now, freeze some. Milk does well with a little poured out, then the gallon frozen. Chop celery, onion and such and freeze it in the bag - you may need to dip other veggies in boiling water quickly (this is called blanching), or saute them in butter before freezing. (Mushrooms benefit from the latter.) Warning: don't buy more than you can use in 6 months or less -- freezer burn gives items like meat and ice cream a yucky taste and consistency. 
*Shop at ethnic markets. The Chinese imports grocery I go to in Denver has leafy greens for about a third of the more conventional grocery stores. A Sprouts market just opened -- another great place for insanely low sale prices on veggies and fruits.

Then again, like Peter, we'll have our own greens and sugar peas -- well, maybe not carrots. The garden goes in this weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Earn Amazon Gift Cards...Fast!

This post explains a batch of things to try....I've earned five gift cards, so far, from Swagbucks, and you can, too -- just click on the 'join' button (far right) on my Swagbucks 'Swidget,' on the top right of this blog. All you do are the same searches you always do -- only Swagbucks rewards you for doing them!

And to those of you who follow my other Saving Site blog...it's starting up again, with tips, hints, coupons and specials for saving $$. Which we can all use on Tax Day!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are You Getting What You Pay For?

Do you really get your full money's worth in the products you buy? April Dykman at Get Rich Slowly has a thought-provoking post on this subject, including cosmetics. (Especially don't miss the blogger who compared Crisco with a fancy face cream...and guess what won!!)

Here's the general post -- don't stop reading until you finish up the comments. (Some good stuff here, from people who know from experience.)