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Archive for January, 2008

Always Look at Your Receipts

January 31st, 2008

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There are two very good reasons you should always look at your receipts when you get them – both at stores and restaurants.

The first one is fairly obvious. You want to make sure you were charged what you should be. While you were most likely watching when items were rung up, if there are a bunch of items sometimes it can be hard to watch all of them. Plus, you want to make sure that only your items were rung up. Sometimes discounts can come off at the end…and you want to make sure you got those as well!

That isn’t the only reason you should always look at your receipt though. Lately, I have started seeing surveys showing up at the bottom of many of my receipts. While some have a message like “take our survey and enter to win x dollars”, I have seen a lot now stating that they will give you a percentage off your next purchase!

The last time I was at Bath & Body Works, at the bottom of my receipt it said that if I called a phone number and took a survey, I would get $10.00 off my next purchase of $30.00 or more. When I went to Old Navy over the weekend, I got a receipt that said if I did a survey with them in the next 5 days, I would get 10% off my next purchase. I don’t remember what restaurant, but recently I got one there too saying that if I took a survey, I would get a free appetizer the next time I ate there.

I don’t know about you, but I love getting discounts for things I am going to do anyway! It is definitely worth the 2 minutes of my time it takes to do the survey in order to get that discount.

So next time you get a receipt, take a closer look. Don’t only check the numbers, but see if there are any discounts for future purchases as well!




Ways to save money around the house: Bedroom

January 30th, 2008

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When looking for sheets, comforters, pillows, always make sure to look for sales and coupons. Places like Linens ‘N Things and Bed Bath & Beyond always have coupons out for 20% off an item or $5.00 off which can get you a better price on almost anything. You should also look out for sales. Take for example the sheets on our bed right now. We got nice Queen size flannel sheets in navy blue for $4.99 at Amazon. They were trying to get rid of them, hence the amazing price. We have now used them for over a year, and they are still in great shape!

One thing we have in our bedroom (but which can go anywhere in the house) is a great way to help save money.

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We have a big coin bank that can hold a LOT of change. Every time we have extra change, we put it into the coin bank, and when it gets full we’ll count it up and put it into the bank to use for something special. If you’re trying to help “force” yourself to save money, this is a great way to do so. Every time you get change back, put it in the jar, and don’t touch it. It will force you to save the money.

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We love to read magazines. I am almost embarrassed to tell you how many magazines we get each month. They range from travel magazines to sports magazines to money magazines and more. I really think we get about 20 different magazines (such as Popular Science, Woman’s Day, Money Magazine, Entrepreneur, and many, many more) each month. How much do we pay for them?

Nothing. Many we subscribed to for free because they were offering free subscriptions. For others, we watched some videos or filled out surveys to get the subscriptions. Whenever we do find offers for free subscriptions, we share them in the newsletter.

One big expense for many is clothes. How do we save money on clothes? We wait for sales, and check out the outlets. It’s incredible how cheap a once expensive item will get when it goes on clearance. It doesn’t matter what brand of clothes you like, when the store puts the item on clearance, you will save a LOT of money on it.

I’ve seen shirts that were originally $70.00 go for under $10.00. Earlier this year I stocked up on t-shirts when Old Navy had some nice polo shirts and t-shirts for between $2.99 – $4.99. You don’t need to buy used clothes or non-name brand clothes if you don’t want to. You can still wear any brand as long as you know where to look.

Well, that about finishes up the bedroom. On Monday we’ll go over a few general ways to save money in the house.




Ways to save money around the house: Laundry Room

January 29th, 2008

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When doing laundry, make sure you only use the amount of detergent you need. A lot of the newer detergents are ultra concentrated and you only need to use a little bit to get all of your clothes clean. They still give you a huge cap though, knowing that you’ll probably put in too much and therefore have to buy more even sooner. If you make sure you use the right amount of detergent, it will last you longer and you won’t have to buy it as often.

Here is another great tip. When drying your clothes, if you put a dry towel in with the rest of your wet clothes, it will help your clothes dry a lot faster, saving you money.

We keep a second freezer in our laundry room (we don’t have a garage), and recommend everyone have a second freezer if they can find room to store it. I can’t tell you the number of times I have come across an amazing deal but didn’t have enough empty freezer space, and couldn’t take advantage of it.

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For example…in the summer we eat a lot of ice cream. With coupons, we have gotten Dove, Godiva, Klondike, and many more for free. The problem? If you only have one freezer, you won’t have a lot of empty space, so you will only be able to get a few. These sales usually only last for a week, and then they go back to full price. So if you could get 10-20 cartons of ice cream, you’d be set for the summer. If you only had room for 1 or 2, in a week or two you’d have to go buy more ice cream – this time at full price. You end up saving a LOT of money if you have the room to store freezer items.

Another example is french fries. We go through a lot of fries, and really like the brand Ore-Ida which are regularly $3+ each, and are usually on sale for $2.00 – $2.50. Once or twice a year though, grocery stores have a really big sale where with the sale and coupons the bags come out to about $0.25 each, sometimes even less. You can imagine how crazy we go when this happens. We usually try to buy between 15 and 20 bags, and only stop there because we don’t have enough room, even with our small second freezer. It really helps though, so we very rarely have to pay the full price or even sale price for french fries!

A second freezer is definitely worth the price, as you will see how quickly you will be able to recoup the cost.  You will be able to take advantage of a great sale, and not have to limit yourself on a great deal because you didn’t have the room for it.  I can tell you, when we get our next house, the first thing we will be buying is a bigger freezer!

I think that about wraps it up for the Laundry Room. Tomorrow we will go over how to save money in the Bedroom.




Ways to save money around the house: Bathroom

January 28th, 2008

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Let’s start with the shower head. If you want to cut down on the cost of your water bill by a little bit, you can get a low flow shower head. They also have toilets that use less water – but unless you’re in the market for a new one anyway, it’s not really cost effective. In the same vein, when brushing your teeth, make sure you turn the water off while you’re not using it. These things will save water, and save you some money.

The way I really save money in the bathroom is with all of my toiletries. Shampoos, body washes, toothbrushes,

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toothpaste…all of that. How do I save money on them? I’m happy to say that most of them I get for free, or at most pay $0.25. I am embarrassed to say how many bottles, boxes, etc. I have of this in my house though. Let’s just say it will be a very long time until I need to buy any of the above, and it’s a very good thing that they all have very long expiration dates!

Seriously though, these can get very expensive. I know many shampoos are over $4.00 a bottle, and some brands of toothpaste are about that as well. How do I save so much then? Do I go for the ultra cheap dollar shampoos and tubes of toothpaste? You might be surprised, but no. Just a few of the brands that I currently have in my bathroom include Garnier Fructis, Dove, Back to Basics, L’Oreal, Softsoap, and more.

Most of them were gotten for free using coupons at the grocery store, and a combination of coupons and rebates at different drugstores. But since these are things that are used every day, it’s a great way to save money.

If you take a look at our Sonicare toothbrush, it is normally priced at over $70.00, but what did we pay? Nothing. I am part of BzzAgent, where I get to buzz different products. In order to buzz this product, they sent it to us (to keep) for free so that we could try it and know what we were buzzing. A few months ago I was also asked to Buzz their new Sonicare UV Sanitizer an we have been enjoying that as well. It goes to show that you can have some very nice and expensive items and you don’t have to spend anything to get them.

I think that about wraps it up for the Bathroom. Tomorrow we will go over how to save money in the Laundry Room.




Enter Contests

January 25th, 2008

Here are some contests you can enter. Good luck!




Ways to save money around the house: Office

January 24th, 2008

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Let’s start with computers. Each time we have needed an upgrade, we have always taken our time waiting for a sale. We personally like Dell, and once we decide which laptop we want, we will keep looking at both Dell Home and Dell Business looking for sales and coupon codes. We even check out their outlet as well. The last time I wanted a laptop, the model I wanted (the Inspiron 8600) wasn’t being made anymore, so I looked around at their used laptops until I found a good price on the model I wanted.

No matter what desktop/laptop you want, between a sale and a coupon, you can save a few hundred dollars off of your purchase! Also look for things like “Free printer with purchase” or other things like that if you’re in the market for other electronics as well. If you don’t need a new monitor, buying a desktop that doesn’t come with one can save you a few hundred dollars as well.

Many times printers can be very close to free after a rebate. If you’re good about sending in the rebate form and receipt, it can be a great way to get a cheap printer. As far as ink, your best bet is to go with an off brand, as the name brand inks are so expensive! We have been buying off brand ink for years, and have never had a problem, and don’t pay a lot for ink.

Another way to save money is to get products for free. While I can’t list exactly what, I have tested some electronic products in the past. Sometimes I have had to return them and got a gift card as a payment, but other times I have been able to get the final version of the product for free. See our post on ways to make money if you’d like to see how you can test products.

While talking about hardware, software is often very expensive as well. There are many free versions of software that are perfectly legal that are great to use. You don’t need to buy expensive software. Before you buy any of it, first look to see if there is something else that is free or open source. This way you will be able to save money but still have the software you need.

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Saving money on books. I love to read, and therefore have a lot of books…and want to save money whenever I do buy a book. There are many ways I go about buying books for less (websites, used books, etc…) I will go into this more in a later post.

I also have many books I have gotten for free. How do I do this? Well, for example some times there are free books that are offered online. I got a Sandra Lee cookbook that was offered for free on a website. It was in our newsletter as well, so hopefully many others got it as well. A while ago, when the best selling book “You: The Owner’s Manual” first came out, in the Sunday paper there was a little ad in the coupon section that just said to send your name and address to them, and the first x amount of people (I don’t remember the exact number, but it was huge) would get a free book. Well, I sent it in, and 6-8 weeks later we got the book, which sells for $24.95. There are many ways you can get books for less, so I very rarely pay full price for a book!

When buying office supplies, I usually check out places like Staples or Office Depot as they usually have the best prices. They often have coupons that you can use if you spend a certain amount, so if you wait and get a lot of things at once, you’ll save even more.

Another expense for the office can be nice office chairs. If you’ll be spending any decent amount of time in them, you’ll want chairs that are nice and comfortable. A good chair can easily cost over $100, but you can spend a whole lot less. The same office supply stores as listed above often have sales on good office chairs, and you will sometimes see rebates on these same chairs. We were able to get our nice leather chairs for about $30.00 each, regularly around $100.00 by waiting for a sale price, and using rebates.

I think that about wraps it up for the Office. On Monday we will go over how to save money in the Bathroom.




Ways to save money around the house: Kitchen & Dining Room

January 23rd, 2008

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When you think about the kitchen, of course one of the first things that come to mind is food! We often talk about saving money with groceries, and how you can use circulars, coupons, and going to multiple stores to get the best prices on your food, so we won’t get too much into that here. If you are interested, you can read our post on ways to save on your grocery bill for more tips.

While I won’t go into how to get your groceries here, this might be a good place to say that you can usually use your food for more then you realize. Unfortunately, food often goes bad before we get to use it, or get to finish using it. We try not to buy more then we can eat, but sometimes it just happens. You can try to think of other ways to use it though.

For example, is your bread going stale? As long as there is no mold on it, you can still use the bread to make homemade croutons or breadcrumbs. If your banana is too brown for your liking, you can use it to cook with. You can make some banana bread. This works for scraps as well. If you are making something with vegetables and have a little left, but not enough for another serving, consider making a soup with the scraps, or even freeze them so that when you have enough you can make a nice soup or stew out of it.

Speaking of wasting food, another great way to save money is to make sure no food goes to waste. If you make too much dinner, instead of just throwing out the leftovers, keep them for lunch the next day. If you don’t have many nice containers, I suggest the Ziploc disposable ones. When on sale (especially with a coupon!) they can be very cheap, or even free. They are pretty good quality, and clean very well in the dishwasher so you can use them over and over again. Then you can very easily just put your leftovers into one of those, and have it again the next day for lunch.

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Another way to save money is to use your kitchen more often! Many people will find that a lot of their monthly budget goes towards restaurants. Don’t get me wrong; we used to be really bad about that too. It isn’t only that it’s so much easier to go out, but sometimes you get set into making only the same certain items, and you want something different, so you go to a restaurant.

Why not try some copycat recipes. You can make some of your favorite restaurant items in your own home. Here are a few links to get you started: Recipe Source and Robbie’s Recipes. Besides these, there are many online websites that have copycat recipes, or even original recipes if you’d like to try something different. When you find a bunch more foods you really like, you’ll find that you don’t want to go out to eat as often. We used to go out a lot…but after trying new recipes and copycat recipes, we now go out a lot less, and our bank account is happier for it.

Another way to save money in the kitchen is to use as few paper products as you can. If you use paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc… for everything, you will end up going through a lot and spending a lot of money to keep replenishing it. Don’t get me wrong, we use some paper plates, napkins, and paper towels too, but we try to keep it to a minimum.

If you can, use a regular plate. Sure, it’s one more plate to wash, but you have to do the dishes anyway, so what’s one extra plate in the dishwasher. If you get a few rags (or even nicer towels) you can use those to clean your counters, or any spills that happen. This means you will go through less paper towels and napkins, and you can just throw the towel into the laundry.

When looking for those pretty platters or cake plates or even regular plates, glasses, etc. keep your eye open for sales. For the cake plates and pretty platters, you can often find a place like Mikasa or Lenox (either online, in store, or even in outlets) where you’ll find them really cheap. Also, places like Linens ‘N Thingsicon and Bed Bath & Beyond where not only do they have good prices, but both almost always have coupons (both online and in store) where you can save either $5.00 or 20% off making these prices even better. If you just keep looking for things like this, you’ll be able to get any kitchen or dining room item for a lot less.

Again, to show how you can save money with furniture, our entire dining room is furnished from old furniture from our parents.  We didn’t have to buy any of it, and we really like it and enjoy using it.

You can save money on your appliances too, if you use them in a smart way. Only run your dishwasher when it’s completely full. It will use the same amount of water regardless, so you might as well wash the most dishes you can out of it. Try to keep your freezer as full as possible. You can always put bottles filled with water in it to help keep the freezer full. This will help the freezer have to work less.

I think that about wraps it up for the Kitchen and Dining Room. Tomorrow we will go over how to save money in the Office.




Ways to save money around the house: Living Room

January 22nd, 2008

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Starting with the living room, let’s take a look at furniture. While it’s only a one-time purchase, most likely you will spend a lot of money to get the furniture you want.

One way to save money is to not have to spend it at all! If someone in your family is getting rid of some furniture, they might be happy to give it to you. It isn’t new, but it might be better than what you have! It’s especially a great way to help furnish your whole house if you are buying your first house. Sometimes parents have some extra furniture they are holding onto but don’t need, and will be happy to give it to you.

Another way to save on the furniture you buy is to comparison shop! If you go to a few different stores, you’ll notice they have some of the same pieces, and at different prices. This is also a great time to haggle. Many furniture stores are willing to haggle prices with you, especially if you are buying multiple pieces from them.

Next, let’s take a look at the TV. You might have a big screen TV, or be looking to buy one. When we got our 50” LCD TV, we spent a few months doing research to find the exact TV we wanted, and then started looking for the best price. We looked both online, as well as many stores in our area. We knew roughly what we wanted to spend, and were willing to wait for it. We ended up getting the best price from a P.C. Richards which after a sale price and some haggling, gave us not only $550 off (we bought the TV and the stand together), but we got a year to pay it off with no interest.

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DVDs. Right next to our entertainment system, we have our DVD collection. This is also where you can save a lot of money! Most new releases are between $15 and $25. We hardly ever pay that, and a good portion of our collection we spend between $5 and $10 per DVD. We even have quite a few where we spent less than $5 per DVD! The main way we did this was to wait.

Instead of getting the DVD within the first month or two it came out, we waited until it went on sale. Sometimes there are some really good sales at your local stores, or at websites like Deep Discount.

On our couches we have throw blankets and pillows. They not only make the couch look nice, but are great when we’re cold! You can find throws and pillows at all different prices. Recently both Kohls and Amazon had

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some really nice throw blankets for under $10 each. We really like Disney, and found that their website Disney Shopping sometimes has some amazing deals. We had liked these 2 pillows, but they were $39.95 each, and there was no way we were paying that much. Well, back in June we stumbled upon a sale, and ended up getting each of them for $4.99 each. We were more than happy to pay that, and now we enjoy them every day, and also enjoy knowing that we didn’t spend much to get them. If you look for sales and discounts, you can often get exactly what you want for a whole lot less.

I think that about wraps it up for the Living Room. Don’t get me wrong, we have gotten some great deals on other items in the room, but these few examples show how you can do the same! Tomorrow we will go over how to save money in the Kitchen.




Ways to save money around the house, room by room – Overview

January 21st, 2008

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Ways to save money around the house, room by room.

There are so many different ways you can keep more money in your pockets that sometimes it’s hard to think of them all. So what I’d like to do is go room by room through a house, giving some examples of how you can save money – or get free things that will help you keep more of your money, but still have all of the great items that you need and want!

I will also use some examples of what we have in our house, and how we’re saving money. Hopefully this will help you think of some more ideas on how you can hold on to your money instead of having to spend it all to get your house to be the way you want!

We’ll start tomorrow with the Living Room, and will continue until we have saved money in each room in the house.




Contests to Enter

January 18th, 2008

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One way to save money is to get something for free that you would have otherwise paid for. Here are a bunch of contests you can enter, and hopefully you’ll win something you have wanted for a while!




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