Do you want to save some money? We have replaced dryer sheets with wool dryer balls. As an added bonus these have no harmful chemicals. For more money saving tips visit www.JillRussoFoster.com and subscribe to our blog.
Are you looking to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your dollars with a discount? Here are some ideas you may not have thought about:
1. Free food on your birthday – many restaurants offer you something on your actual birthday (some during your birthday week).
2. Using your situation discounts – I am talking more than senior discounts. There are others such as military, memberships, student, government worker, etc. I have used my student discount for admission to museums, my senior discount to pay less for hotels and more.
3. The day after discount – if you shop the day after a holiday you can usually receive a 50% or more discount on those items. Think more than wrapping paper and greeting cards the day after Christmas, there are other holidays throughout the year.
4. Double dipping your coupons – some stores will let you use multiple coupons for the same item to get an even bigger savings. I have used the case price discount and a manufactures coupon for items on sale to save even more.
5. Don’t forget to ask for price adjustments and coupons. It never hurts to ask if there are any other discounts or coupons available at the checkout. Sometimes a sales person has that ability to give you even greater savings. If you get a coupon after the purchase, go back and ask for an adjustment for the original purchase within a certain time limit.
6. Remember to buy off season. With the particularly warm month of December here in the northeast, winter merchandise seemed to go on sale even earlier. When you buy a snow blower in the spring or swimsuit in October you can save money.
7. Sign up for emails (remember to use another email address) as there can be many emails to deal with. Companies offer coupons and discounts to their subscribers.This works for more than products, I have received discounts for concerts too. You can also try leaving items in the cart without checking out. Sometimes they will email you with a discount to place the order.
8. Free Stuff – there are so many special days in a year it’s impossible to keep track of. National days such as donut day will give you a free donut, ice cream day etc. National Parks days throughout the year will waive the entrance fee. You can get some prescriptions filled at your local supermarket for free. The list goes on and on.
Let me know what you do to get discounts and free stuff.
Getting ready for the holidays? That will put extra stress on your time and budget. Every time you shop, you’ll be facing temptations that could send your finances off the cliff. If you want to keep away from the edge , keep listening:
- Every store will push their own card. They’ll offer a 10-15% discount if you sign up at the register. With your little pile of purchases in front of you, it will sound like a good deal. Don’t do it.
Why not? Because they’ll run an inquiry on your credit report, instantly lowering your credit score and costing you more money in the long run. Don’t forget that store credit cards charge the highest interest rates out there. Think about the temptation you’ll face. With one purchase safely tucked away on a new credit card, you’ll find some breathing room in your checking account for more holiday purchases. Before you know it, you won’t have enough left to pay the store card in full. In the end, that discount will have cost you over 15%, putting you in the hole.
- You will be off your routine and forgetful. Between preparation, gatherings, and parties, something will probably slip through the cracks. You might even forget to pay a bill on time. Don’t do it.
Why not? Missing a due date will cost you a late fee – sometimes $35. If it’s a credit card payment, they could penalize you with an increased interest rate at a time you need it least. Worst of all, the late payment could end up on your credit report, lowering your credit score.
- You will want to spend more than you can afford. Don’t kid yourself. Holidays are a time of giving and sharing. You will get caught up in the moment and spend more than you planned. You may even spend so much, that you won’t have enough left over to pay your credit card in full when the bill arrives. Don’t do it.
Why not? It could take forever to pay off. If you have a $500 balance and only pay the minimum amount due (typically 2%) then it will take you 85 months (or 7 years plus) to pay off the balance. That is assuming you don’t make any other charges. Plus, you don’t want to start the New Year with new debt.
Plan ahead and use cash for holiday shopping to stay within your budget. That way, you can enjoy the holiday season without facing budget busting debt in January.
We’ve been updating the house for the past few years – on a budget. That means doing most of the work ourselves and finding bargains wherever possible. This year, I really wanted to tackle the bedroom.
Here are the details.
If you remember from #30Ways2Save, we painted our own bedroom in a weekend. It only cost a few cans of paint and was easy to do.
The carpet really needed to go. Our older home has small rooms, so we were able to find an inexpensive Berber carpet remnant, fully installed. We saved money by ripping up the old carpet ourselves (and moving the furniture). This was another weekend project that saved us money.
Finally, we really wanted new furniture. We’ve had the same bedroom set for 15+ years and it wasn’t high quality to begin with. It was past time for it to go. We didn’t need, or want, to pay for a full bedroom set, so we were open to different styles if they looked good together and the price was right. I grabbed my good friend Lori, and off we went. She’s an expert shopper and knows where to find the best deals. We were able to find a dresser and armoire, both on clearance, at two different stores. They look great together.
I am getting more comfortable with negotiating lower prices just by asking (and with touching up furniture). I was able to ask for additional discounts because of some minor scratches, which reduced the prices even more.
Bottom line: With time and effort you can have what you want at a cost that works with your budget.
Some of you may know this already, but I’m taking a few classes to finish my degree. For those of you going to college, have a child in college, or about to go to college, this may help your wallet.
I have talked about the cost of text books before, but this was my first experience as an adult in today’s market.
I took a class this summer. The textbook was $60 used or $40 for a rental. Thinking I’d like to keep it for future reference, I decided to buy used. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the college bookstore didn’t carry the textbook for a class the college was offering. I had to prepay and have it ordered in.
After the class was over, I was shocked again when the bookstore wouldn’t buy it back. The college is offering the same class with the same book, so why not? Wanting to recoup some of my costs, I sold it online for $11.75 (postage was paid by the publisher).
Now I am taking my second class and that textbook was substantially more – $200 to buy new and $100 to buy used. I did my research and checked a number of websites for the best deal (remember to search by the ISBN number to get the correct edition). I decided to rent it for $40. On the first day of class, the Professor mentioned that we could have used prior editions. Knowing that ahead of time would have saved me a lot of money.
1. Don’t shop at the college book store.
2. Compare prices (new, used, or rental) from several online retailers.
3. Check for digital editions depending on your learning preference.
4. Plan ahead so you don’t have to expedite shipping. The cheaper the shipping the better the deal.
A couple of hard lessons learned that I will put to good use for the remainder of my classes. Textbooks are expensive. Learn from my mistakes to cut a nice chunk off of college costs.
Let’s talk about negotiation. I’m not as comfortable negotiating as I would like to be, but I’ve been trying it out and it works!!!! Honestly, what have you got to lose? The worst they can say is “no”.
I bought Dave a big screen TV with a great online deal, but when we tried to set it up, we realized it didn’t fit on the TV stand. That never occurred to me, and we had company coming for the holidays. So the search was on to find a media console at a good price, in a style that matched our furniture, before the family arrived. Was it possible? Yes.
Both Dave and I (together and separately) checked many stores – furniture stores, clearance centers, consignment shops, online websites, etc. Some stores had what we wanted but couldn’t meet our timeframe. Another store had one we liked, but the price was over our budget. We even found one that we liked and fit our budget, but it was out of stock. This was a full-blown all-out search as time was running out.
Then we found it – the perfect one. So here’s how we negotiated:
1. The store couldn’t get it to us in time, but we asked if we could buy the floor model. Yes, we could.
2. They had a poster in the window advertising 20% off with store credit. We asked if we could get the store credit discount if we paid in full right then. Yes, they gave us the advertised discount even though we didn’t open a store credit account.
3. The floor model had a few nicks and scratches, so we asked if they would give us an additional discount for imperfections. Yes, they would.
We walked away with the media console that afternoon at an amazing price.
Bottom line, it wasn’t horrible to negotiate. We simply asked questions. We were not pushy or demeaning about the product or the staff. And, yes, we would have politely walked away if we didn’t get a price that worked for us.
So, the next time you’re out shopping, ask questions that might help you negotiate a better price. You may well get the answers you wanted to make the sale a win-win for everyone.
The gift-giving holidays are around the corner. If you don’t believe me, go buy some Halloween supplies. You’ll have to walk around Christmas decorations to get to the costume aisle. My warehouse club had Christmas decorations on Labor Day weekend. That’s way too early, even for me.
Depending on which holiday you celebrate, you have about a month for Chanukah and about two months before Christmas. Where does the time go? It seems that we were just talking about planning your summer vacations.
Don’t panic. You still have time to tackle your to-do list so you can stay within your budget.
Here are my suggestions to keep the holidays bright on a budget:
1. Make a list. Write down all the names of the all people you want to give gifts to. This includes family, friends, coworkers, teachers, service people (baby sitters, hair dressers, delivery people, etc.). Then, don’t forget the additional expenses that happen at the holidays: special entertainment events, parties, and travel.
2. Set your budget limit. This is how much you can afford to spend without having credit card debit in January.
3. Put dollar amounts next to each person and event on your list. Don’t forget to include shipping and travel costs. Also, add in the hostess gifts and food for the events you participate in. Those should be part of the budget, too.
4. Compare your budget limit and your list. How is that working? Do you have more people than your budget allows? If so, go back and make adjustments. You don’t have to leave people out – think of fun alternatives, instead. Can you do a family gift, a gift-less potluck, or a name-draw gift exchange? You want to be able to afford the holidays and enjoy them. You do NOT want to spend more than you can afford. There’s nothing worse than greeting the New Year with January credit card debt.
5. Start shopping. Comparison shopping is by far the best way to shop. Know what you want to buy, do your research and don’t stray from your list. Compare retail and online for the best deal, but, don’t forget the after-sale deals. You should watch for rebates and make sure the store will give you a refund if you purchase something before it goes on sale (within a reasonable time period). Keep those receipts handy.
6. Buy hot items early. These are gifts that are guaranteed to go out-of-stock because every child (and some adults) think they have to have it. It might be a video game or console, or a new kind of toy. Whatever it is, if it’s important to your gift plans, don’t wait.
Remember that planning ahead and taking your time will help your stress level. Pace yourself, and follow your list, so you can relax and enjoy your special time with family and friends.
Does this ever happen to you? You go to the grocery store to buy a few recipe ingredients. After walking the aisles, you find yourself at the checkout with 2 full bags of groceries and a receipt for $60-$90.
Here are some tips to prevent grocery store overspending. The most important (and easiest) fixes are on top.
1. Use cash! This is the most important and the easiest rule to follow. In the example above, if you’d only brought $10 in cash to the store, you would have walked out with just the butter, eggs and cinnamon you needed for your baking project. You cannot spend more cash than you bring with you – as long as you leave your credit and debit cards at home. (I do this myself)
2. Don’t shop when you’re hungry! This is also an easy rule to follow. If you shop hungry, your body will tell you that everything you see is delicious and that you must buy it right away. In fact, you’ll think it’s a good idea to get 2 or 3 packages of all kinds of foods you’ll regret buying later.
3. Compare prices in store. As long as you’re standing there, it’s not too hard to try to choose the best price on a can of tuna or package of grated cheese. Store brands are usually the best deal, but if they want you to buy 2 to get the sales price, the brand name could be a better deal.
4. Plan your meals and shop from your list. This is a little harder because it means you have to plan before going to the store. Once you have your meal plan, check your cupboards and fridge to see if you already have any of the recipe ingredients. This prevents you from buying something you already have at home.
5. Rewards cards. You have to plan to get the best use out of them, but when you do, you can save substantial cash. They give you discounts and coupons, but you won’t get the same discounts on the same items every week. You’ll need to be on top of what’s in your cupboards, be careful to buy only the items you’ll actually use, and sometimes you’ll have to wait on a purchase until the discount cycles around again.
Make your trip to the grocery store less costly the next time you shop. What do you do to save money in the grocery store? Tell us in the comments below.
I am always asked for money saving tips. I’ve mentioned common tips like eating at (and from) home more often, using cash whenever possible, and buying off-season or used. But, what if you do all of these already, and you still want to save more money?
At a recent speaking event, I decided to share my more creative ideas – things I actually do myself – that might not be so common.
So, here are those two tips:
Produce Garden – yes, you heard me. If you’re a long time reader, you know that I’ve always gardened and feel that there’s nothing better than picking something right off the vine to eat right away. I’m not certified organic, but I don’t use chemicals or questionable practices. Let’s just say that if someone wanted to certify me, I’d be fine.
Even if you don’t have room, or interest in working in a garden, you can grow lettuce. It’s probably the easiest produce to grow and can be grown in a pot pretty much anywhere (even indoors). A pack of seeds costs about $1.50 and can give us (a family of two) lettuce for about 6 weeks. That’s a lot cheaper than buying a head of lettuce each week.
If you don’t eat salads at home, just because you feel bagged lettuce is expensive and doesn’t keep well, this is your solution.
Someone raised an objection about time. Lettuce is not time-consuming or fussy. You’ll need to thin the leaves out during the growing stages, but you’ll be eating it as baby micro lettuce – so it’s not like it’s fussing just because it has to be done.
This year I am trying vertical gardening. My whole garden, once it’s planted, takes me less than 30 minutes a week to maintain, and I have many plants – tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, green beans, peas, a few types of lettuce and herbs. This year I am trying corn, blueberries and butternut squash.
Cleaning Products – make your own – I do! I use vinegar diluted with water in place of glass cleaner. Works great. I use baking soda with water to make a paste to clean the bathroom. These home-made products are completely safe, effective and chemical free and cost pennies.
What I haven’t yet found is a replacement for dishwasher or laundry detergent. Although, I do know that vinegar in the rinse cycle can get rid of excess detergent in your towels and get rid of that moldy smell if your towels have been out by the pool too long.
Ideas for home made cleaning supplies can be found on the internet, but make sure you’re looking at a trusted source for reputable information.
Let me know how you save money.
Maybe my garden photos will inspire you.
Ever wonder why the cashier asks for your zip code? Maybe you thought they needed it for credit card approval (like a gas station). Maybe you thought they were looking to open a new store closer to the people who actually shop there.
Most of the time, they’re collecting zip codes so they can target you with marketing or to sell your contact information.
When you pay with a credit card, they can keep your full name in their records – add the zip, and they can find your exact address. They’re determining who their customers are, where they come from, what types of products they purchase, etc. They can develop a whole file of information about you with those two pieces of information which they can use themselves or sell to retail partners.
You may have noticed that some retailers will ask for your zip code no matter how you pay. They’ve asked for my zip code when I pay with cash. They might not know my exact address, but they may choose to target my neighborhood with flyers.
You can choose to be a part of this by giving the cashier your zip code – you’ll most likely get more mail and/or coupons. Or, you can decline to give your zip code to the cashier. I am vigilant about my mail (and privacy), so I personally choose not to give out my zip code. The choice is yours to make.
Note – this is not the case with unmanned transactions, such as self-service gas stations. In an unmanned transaction, you may be required to enter your zip code on the key pad to authorize the credit card transaction. In this case, the credit card company itself is attempting to verify your identity. This is NOT zip code harvesting because the gas station isn’t keeping your information.
Remember the choice is yours.