Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spend Black Friday at home, online for the best deals!

I don't like crowds. I especially don't like crowds that are hyped up. I stay at home on Black Friday, and still get the best deals of the year. Here's how:

$5 off your first purchase at Use code ROQ627! GOOD YEAR ROUND!

Amazon's Black Friday Deals!

Free shipping & Black Friday Discount at Macy's. Use code PERK.

Free shipping and 10 days of Thanksgiving sale at

If you must go out, be sure to use these printable coupons via The Bargainist!


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Money-saving Websites

As a tireless bargain hunter, I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to save. Because I'm also a bit of a homebody and an introvert, much of that savings is found online. My latest finds:

RetailMeNot: Created by the folks behind BugMeNot (a great privacy saver), this is a searchable database containing coupon codes for zillions of online stores. Like any really good system, it also allows you to add your coupon codes to the database for others to use, and has a feedback system that tells you what is working and what isn't. Search by store or by keyword.

JungleCrazy is a site associated with that holds a database of products that are 70% or more off the retail price! There are some seriously amazing deals here.

And now to list some of my old, tried and true favorites (you'll also find these on the sidebar):

The Bargainist - offers sales info, freebies and coupon codes on tons of stores, as well as some good articles on saving money. They also have an email subscription service that allows you to get your choice of bargain info delivered to your inbox.

Bookmooch - A place to swap the books you have for the books you want.

SwapaCD - is a site designed to allow you to trade your old, unlistened-to CDs for the things you really want to hear.

SwapaDVD - is the same as above, but for DVDs!

Craigslist - Look to the Craigslist nearest you for bargains and freebies on new and used items of every description.

Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saving Money - Setting Limits (Part 1)

In a long ago business math course I took in high school, I learned the concept and value (and also the how-to) of creating a household budget.

I suck at making and sticking to budgets...or at least the traditional sort of budget. I've learned, though, to work around my budget-following deficiency. Here are some tips that might help you to do the same.

Use Cash

Using cash to pay for stuff helps to save money in a number of ways.

First, it forces you to (at least roughly) itemize what you're putting into your shopping cart, to ensure that you have enough to pay for it when you're done. Like dieting, simply becoming more aware of what you're consuming (in terms of hard numbers) will help you to curb that consumption. It also will help you stick to the list you've hopefully made before getting to the store.

There is a second way for it to help. If you've created a budget, you know that you should break purchases up into categories like food, gas, entertainment, healthcare, etc. (If you've never created a budget before, go here, read up, and give it a try). A trick that I've found useful is to actually divide up my cash into those categories, too, each with their own clearly labeled envelope. If you're going shopping for one category (food, for instance), take ONLY the food envelope with you; leave the envelopes for the other categories at home in a safe place. This will keep you from "borrowing" from one category to splurge in another.

Using cash will often help you at the gas pump, as well. Many stations charge extra for credit or debit card purchases.

Know the Difference Between Need and Desire

We're all guilty of it: choosing a more expensive option than necessary when buying something we need. There are probably dozens of reasons we do it, including convenience, emotional attachment, and status. You *can* break away, though.

Take, for instance, meat. My household eats meat, and in the past we have frequently purchased whatever looked good at the moment, or suited a particular recipe we wanted to make. Now, however, we're changing our ways.

I studied the local grocery flyers for a few weeks, and I realized that there are many meats available for under $2 a pound. So I decided not to spend more than that on meats unless it were a special occasion. It's worked out wonderfully. We dine on many cuts of chicken, london broil, lean ground meats, pork loin and various roasts. It's a choice that we haven't regretted at all, and that has saved us a ton of money. Study the grocery flyers in your area and pick a price point that makes sense for you, and get started saving!

There are lots of other examples of creating a limit that fulfills a need without succumbing to a bloated budget:

-I don't buy shampoo that costs more than $1 per 15 oz.
-I buy coffee out only rarely. It's cheaper (and frankly, often better) to brew it myself and bring it along.
-I put on a heavy fleece pullover when I'm cold, instead of turning the heat up. In winter, I keep the thermostat at about 60.
-I buy almost all of my media used, or I trade for it. eBay,, yard sales, thrift stores and sites like , and are invaluable.
-I never, ever buy shoes that aren't on sale or used. Clothing, either.
-I buy local, in-season produce, often at the farmer's market, rather than expensive, imported, out-of-season stuff from the grocery store. Even there, you'll find that local in-season produce is usually cheaper.

Try some of these strategies out or make (and hopefully share) your own!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Saving Money - Some Simple Math

With food prices higher than ever, most of us need to take a closer look at how we spend our grocery dollars. One of the best ways to do that is to simply do the math.

Take starches, for example. Unless you and your family are on the Atkins Diet, you spend some amount of your hard-earned cash on carbs. The basics are: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes.

In my area, both bread and pasta run about $1/lb. Rice, between 50¢/lb. and 99¢/lb. Potatoes? 40¢/lb. Got that? Rice is cheaper than bread or pasta. Potatoes are cheaper than either one. Plan your meals and your shopping list accordingly. Also, check out this book:

My second point isn't as specific, but it is equally important, and it is this: Don't be fooled by packaging tricks. This means to always, ALWAYS check the price per pound pricing on items you're considering buying. Think that buying in bulk will save you money? It certainly *can*, but it doesn't always. Somehow, sometimes buying something in lots of little containers is actually *cheaper* than buying something in bulk. I've noticed being the case with both paper towels and tuna recently. Crazy but true.

Next, don't assume that your big box club (Costco, BJ's, Sam's Club and the like) is really saving you money. Once upon a time this was definitely true, but in today's marketplace, you can often find better deals elsewhere, whether it be online, at your regular grocery store, department stores like Target or K-Mart, or even drugstore chains like CVS. The point is, don't assume, CHECK. You might well find some surprises.

Finally, while it's often true that you can get a better deal by driving more, beware! With high prices at the pumps, doing the math is more important than ever. Here's how:

Take your average miles per gallon* and determine how many miles out of your way you would drive for the sale. That should tell you how much of or how many gallons you'll use getting there. Multiply that by the current cost of gas per gallon (and don't forget that most gas pump prices are sneaky - $3.59 is actually $3.599. Round up to $3.60) and voila! You've learned how much gas money it will cost to get you to the sale(A). Now decide how much savings you'll get at the sale(B). Is A bigger than B? If it is, don't go! You'll just be ripping yourself off in the long run. Is B bigger than A? If so, then go enjoy the sale!! Remember to use this formula when deciding whether to drive farther for cheaper gas, too.

So - don't cheat yourself, or allow sneaky marketing to cheat you! Do the math!

*If you don't already know this number, it is well worth your time to work it out. Find out your gas tank size (usually in handbook). Fill it up. Set your trip counter to zero. Drive until you are on empty. Take the number on the trip counter and divide it by the size of your gas tank. Tada! Your average miles per gallon!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Faves

Today, we have some great deals from Home Depot! If you own your own home, this place is practically indispensable. It's even a handy place if you're a renter - we all like to make small changes in our living spaces. The savings at their online store includes:

Ceiling Fans under $100
Free shipping on power tools

Home Depot Online

They're also having a sale on Pergo laminate flooring, and free shipping is included on that as well:

Pergo laminate flooring

They're selling out quickly, and there's no info on when the deal is done (maybe when they're all sold out).

If you order before 7/28, you can use an additional coupon for $10 off $100 purchase using this code: SAVINGS94, though there is no info on whether the Pergo is eligible for the additional coupon.

My picks from this week's Amazon Friday Sale:

Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 34-Ounce Tins (Pack of 2)

75% Off Market Patio Umbrella

If you're in the market for new cookware, now is the time to strike:

There are lots of shoes on sale for 50% off or better, and some additional savings can be picked up on this page.

Enjoy your savings!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Saving Money - Food Shopping (Part 4)

Plan your route.

Not only will you save gas by planning the most efficient shopping route, you'll get the shopping done faster. What's not to love? Consider carpooling grocery trips with neighbors for added savings. You can use Google Maps to chart your best route.

Consider online options.

Don't forget about Amazon's Grocery Section, and that their Super Saver Shipping offers free delivery on orders of $25 or more. This is especially helpful for those of us with restricted diets - I just bought a case of gluten-free pasta at a better price-per- package than I can find at any local store, and the shipping was free! Other websites may offer similar shipping deals.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saving Money - Food Shopping (Part 3)

Buy in bulk.

Buying in bulk whenever possible will help reduce your overall grocery bill. Yes, it's a bigger initial cash outlay to buy in bulk, but it is absolutely worth it. Whether it's meat or rice, the overall savings will amaze you. Not only will your price-per-pound be better, you reduce the number of trips you make to the store, saving on gas as well. To help to ease the pain of the initial outlay, choose a different bulk item to purchase every trip, don't try to buy them all at once!

Be careful of over dependence on big-box club stores like Sam's Club, Price Club, Costco or BJ's for your bulk items - they aren't always the best deal! Take the list you created from your sales papers, and compare the price-per-pound.

Shop during "off" times.

You'll find the shelves better stocked and the atmosphere less harried if you shop during non-peak shopping times. Weekends are the biggest peak time, for obvious reasons, so try to go during the week. Middle of the week, middle of the afternoon is ideal, if you can manage it. If you must go on the weekend, try very early morning, or after 7pm.

The advantage to shopping during the off-hours in terms of saving money is this: If you are less harried, you can pay better attention to your shopping. Believe it or not, this is really important! When you are paying attention, you can sometimes compare unadvertised prices to what you found in the sales papers. Sometimes store brands are cheaper than what is advertised in the sales papers, and there is rarely a difference in quality. It does happen occasionally, but you'll quickly learn which products have that issue.

Also, look out for better per-unit prices on different sizes than what was advertised. The breakdown on store tags can be useful, but beware! They aren't always correct. Bring a calculator and do the math yourself for best results.

Attention to the little details can save you more than you think.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Faves


A great stainless steel cookware set, for only $40!
Gibson Verrone 7 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set

A sweet summer dress marked down over 70%, and in three colors:
Bailey Blue Junior's V-Neck Empire Lace Dress

Other Deals:

Perry Ellis Summer Sale - 70% off, plus an extra 20% coupon! Use code PED20SUM for the extra savings. Also, if you order $75 or more, shipping is free. Check it out, their clothing is super-comfortable, and usually too expensive for the penny-pinchers among us.

Enjoy your Friday shopping!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Saving Money - Food Shopping (Part 2)

Plan your meals.

Pull out your cookbooks (for fun, you can see some of my favorites here), or your internet browsing fingers, and create meal plans around what's on sale, what's local, and what is in season. My personal favorite recipe site is Recipe Source, but I've had good luck with Epicurious and Food Network as well. Be sure to plan for snacks, too.

Make a list.

You know how for real estate, they always say that the important thing is "location, location, location"? Well, for food shopping, it's "list, list, list"! Seriously.

After looking through your local sales papers, create a list of the groceries you plan to buy from each store. Include the sale prices (and any limitations), so that you can comparison shop at the other stores. Don't forget to put items you need, but don't find on sale on the list.

Impulse items can add as much as 50% to your total food bill. So, when you're at the store, DON'T DEVIATE FROM THE LIST. The list is your friend. Don't buy stuff that isn't on it. So: no toys, no snacks, no makeup, no magazines. NOTHING, unless it made it to the list. To help stick to your list, make sure that you and anyone you take with you shopping has recently eaten.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Saving Money - Food Shopping (Part 1)

Shoppers Scrimp as Food Prices Rise

Does this recent news item seem all too familiar to you? If you're like most of America, it does. So how do you survive the crazed gas and grocery prices and still eat well? I've got some tips for you below.

Read your local sales papers.

Chances are, you receive a weekly deposit of grocery and drugstore sales papers, either in your mailbox or in your Sunday paper. If you don't, a Sunday paper is a good investment in order to get them. The Sunday paper is also a good place to look for jobs, cars and furniture bargains, as well as being one of the best places to find coupons.

If neither of these options work for you, try looking for the sales circulars online. Most large chains now post their weekly circulars on their websites.

Find your local fresh-food markets.

Farmer's markets and other fresh veggie options are a terrific way to save money. Buying the food fresh, local and in season helps you create healthier meals, and is often cheaper than even the best megamart sales. Both the USDA and Local Harvest offer lists of farmer's markets by state, and Sustainable Table tells you what's in season in your area.

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Economic Stimulus PLUS

Look here to find some ways to get extra mileage out of your economic stimulus checks!

Or put it into savings!

Friday Faves

While it's not technically a Friday Sale deal, it's still a great deal: Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and Amazon and Taco Bell are offering a deal on their packaged foods in celebration (as are many other companies - check your local sales papers!)! This particular deal offers an extra $5 off your Taco Bell order (use the code TACOBELL at checkout). Deal is good until May 5.

At a loss for what to put in all of those taco shells? Try out The Well-Filled Tortilla Cookbook by Victoria Wise and Susanna Hoffman. Under $10, and a great way to push your total up to $25 for the free shipping deal.

Normally 79.99, today you can get a 66% savings on lovely goosedown pillows. $26.99 each, deal good through the end of today.

And finally, I can't pick just one item from the Home Improvement section; they have so many nifty gardening goodies! Browse through yourself and see what you find!

Amazon's Friday Sale

If you read this blog much at all, you will learn that I am an absolute fan of*. They often have the best prices on whatever item I'm looking for, they have free Super Saver Shipping with purchases of $25 or more, and they have the Friday Sale!

So I'm going to start putting a post up every Friday, that we'll call Friday Faves. This will be a post highlighting what I think are the greatest Friday Sale deals.

*While you may notice that I am an Amazon Associate, and so get some kickback if you buy stuff that you've followed my links from, I like Amazon because of the good deals, not the kickbacks. Frankly, I expect the kickbacks to come to little or nothing, financially -- though I'd certainly be happy to be surprised about that.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day Green Sales

Earth Day (April 21) has become a great day for sales of "green" products. If you poke around, you're sure to find a few, but here are my favorite picks:

Amazon has Gold Box and Lightning Deals as well as regular sale items, and don't forget their Super Saver Shipping - free with $25 or more purchase! Sale ends 4/23.
- Up to 40% off and 10% back (rebate deal)...and they have free shipping after the $25 as well! Sale ends 4/25.

I love free shipping.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

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