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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My First Black Friday

This is a draft I found lying around from December, after a bit of a touch up for my Writing Wednesday I deemed it blog worthy. Enjoy

So, I did a little Black Friday shopping this year. Emphasis on a little. For one, I was working that day, for another I can't stand crazy crowds. (makes me want to scream or puke or both) So at midnight I drove up to the nearest Target. When I got there, the line wrapped around the building despite the 30 degree temperature.

As soon as my sister saw the parking lot she drove off with a good luck text. And I admit I was a little intimidated myself but I needed a new cell phone badly. I had reactivated a four-year-old phone after my two-year-old one bit the dust. After some research online I discovered that Target had the LG Optimus V (Virgin Mobile) for $49.99 in lieu of the normal price of $149.99. I had put a lot of thought (aka drool) into purchasing an Android phone and $49.99 was about as low as I could get for a new one. So I parked in a spot too small for the SUVs that were trolling around (people double parked in order to block out other shoppers, but couldn't stop my little Aveo) and waited in the warmth and security of my car until the line got into the store. After the half-hour it took the shoppers to disappear, I strolled into the store and made a bee-line for the electronics department. It wasn't easy considering the shear number of people just ambling around talking on their cell phones and looking at products that weren't even on sale. I channeled the dodging abilities I developed from years of having to quickly navigate the crowed halls of my high school and was able to expertly duck and weave my way through the crowd  without mishap. Just as I was patting myself on the back for making it to the electronics department I spied the empty peg-hook where my phone supposed to be.

After an internal dramatic wail, I cast my eyes about for an employee. I doubted I would find one but I tried anyway. After a few minutes I snagged one as the flow of traffic threw him past me. After thanking him for even trying to help, I asked if there was any way he could check in "the back" to see if there were any more phones lying around. He promised to do so and leaped into another stream of traffic. In the meantime I moored myself to the cell phone shelf to wait and entertained myself by watching the mayhem. After a few minutes he swam back and handed me a very disheveled box containing my phone, informing me that it was the last one. I thanked him profusely again. I believe I said something to the effect of "You are so awesome you are a freaking god". I hugged the box to my chest and waded back into the crowd.

I had entertained the idea of getting an xbox controller while I was there as they were on sale for ten dollars off and I had a coupon for an additional ten dollars off as well as my Target Red Card, one glance at the tower of people next to the xbox display and I did an about-face toward the exit. Sure it would have been a great deal but I didn't think it was worth the time or energy. Plus a man ran by me carrying an xbox like it was a football. The line to the registers was the deciding factor though. there wasn't much of one yet but it was just beginning to grow. I found the entrance to the roped off area leading to the registers and was able to quickly navigate the dizzying path up one aisle and down another. It was only a five minute wait accompanied by a really nice couple before I reached the line attendant. As I only had the one item I got to go to the express lane. I stood a the counter a little while before the clerk noticed me. I can't blame her though, considering how few people would have ten items or less. All together with the promo price, my 5% discount, and tax I purchased my phone for exactly $52.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Connectivity

The internet is up and functioning along with television service. We didn't really need the tv service considering we have Hulu and Netflix, but the internet was cheaper if we had both. And considering the fact I have grown tired of watching the Venture Brothers seasons 1-3 over and over since August, I welcome the service.

Looking forward to blogging again!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Getting the Interwebs

So I had thought we were getting internet as I mentioned in my earlier post however this was not to be. The company we wanted internet from couldn't give us a straight answer as to whether they had service in our area and if so what kind. At one point they said they would send a tech to find out, but he never showed. After a month of being strung along we began looking elsewhere. This gave us an incentive to find the best price. Before we were trying to simply get internet (we are addicts, or at least I am) but now that we've suffered through the withdrawal we might as well shop around. So far we have a really good price on a TV/internet combo that is to be installed tomorrow. If it is, I will post again as soon as it is up and running.

Miss you guys!

                                             Me without internet ^

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stingy Tip no. 8 Keep the Receipt!

Well, Blogger has a new interface so I know I have been gone awhile. I recently realized I hadn't listened to the radio in a long time when I turned to a preset and the station had changed names. Now that my new place is getting hooked up with internet service my posting should become fairly regular. But on to the topic at hand!

Would you like a receipt?

An emphatic YES! There are so many benefits to getting a receipt that I don't even think twice about it. If you ever look at a receipt not only is there a record of what you bought, there is a host of personal info, company info, store info and quite often coupons, surveys, giveaways, freebies, and more. Getting one of these for something you were buying anyway (especially if you got it for free with a coupon) can be better than the actual purchase.

Some of the reasons to get and keep your receipt:


  • Security- if the receipt is printed anyway, especially if you used a card, you keep it. An employee is just going to toss it in the trash where any good stalker is likely to rummage. At the very least you can take it home and run it through a shredder (or give it to a couple gerbils that delight in tearing up anything that is paper or plastic in nature)
  • Record keeping- If you do the old fashioned way of balancing a checkbook keeping your receipt as a record is a must. Even if you keep an eagle-eye on your bank accounts online some things take longer to post than others so it is always good to know what you have spent to ensure you don't have an overdraft or the accompanying fees. 
  • Returns- If any item you purchase doesn't work out the only sure way to get your money back is to have your receipt. Some stores will issue store credit but the receipt allows you to get your money back in the form you gave it i.e. put back on your credit/debit card or cash.
  • Proof of Purchase- Cashiers are people, and they make mistakes. They scan stuff twice, miss items, forget discounts, et cetera. If there is something wrong with your transaction and you have no receipt you're pretty much SOL.
  • Surveys- Traditional surveys are links tacked on to your receipt that enter you in a drawing for prizes/ money in exchange for your feedback.
  • Rewards- sometimes you can enter your transaction number into an online account to get points to use towards coupons or free items.
  • Coupons- These can be tacked on the end of the receipt, printed on the back, or spat out of a Catalina. Most of the time they will match a coupon currently in circulation although sometimes they have a higher discount or they will be specific to the store. 
  • Freebies- sometime they give you a straight up reward usually in the form of food. :P
Know any other uses? Feel free to add them in the comments area.

Thank you for your patronage, have a nice day!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Day

 Well this isn't going to be much of a post but I just wanted to mention a couple things about my day today.

I went to Target to shop for some shampoo that I had free vouchers for plus some random things I needed. Upon reaching the shampoo isle, I noticed that the shampoo I had two vouchers for had a special where if you bought four items listed on the tag you would get a $5 target gift card. Naturally the "awesome" alarm went off in my head and I began searching through my coupon binder for other products on the list. I decided to get a Suave lotion that I also had a free voucher for (25% more size), vaseline lotion (that came with a pack of q-tips), and the two suave products I had the vouchers for. I didn't realize that the suave lotion was not included in the special, but I will expound on that later. I grabbed some food that I did not have coupons for but they were on sale. Then I happened by a clearance rack that had several items I had coupons for (more *awesome* alarms). I only got a bottle of Febreeze Air effect as it was the best deal of the bunch.

At the checkout, I used several coupons plus I got $0.05 off for the target bag I purchased and 5% off my total cost with my new Target Red Debit card. I didn't get the $5 gift card at first but I went back and got another Suave product and solved it. In all, I saved $17.35 and paid $5.36 on this transaction.

I also purchased two bottles of lemonade at World Market for $0.34 (the tax)


Basically I bought everything in this pic (including the bag) for $5.70!

For some karma points I gave a Pantene voucher to a couple who were buying the product anyway and left some coupons on top of products I wan't interested in.

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Little Filler

I know I took another big break from posting. It was mostly due to a lack of internet access over my vacation. It was my first vacation so I suppose it was a good thing over all (For those wondering, yes many coupons were used but not so many that I focused on it).

I have been doing research on upcoming topics for my posts and hope to have a new on up next week. For the time being however a couple of quick updates:

1) This weekend is the tax-free holiday for school supplies in the great state of Alabama. The tax exemption is primarily for K-12 students and is rather limited and very strict. It includes items such as computers not exceeding $750 and clothing not exceeding $30. I find it best to look at the rules and adhere to them rather than to try and loosely interpret them as it will just lead to frustration of you and the sales person who has no control of the tax status of the item. You can find all the info you need (which can be clear as mud) here.

2) A list of topics I am considering:
-Affording a kid (because not all college students are sans family obligations)
-Going green to save green
-Pampering without the price
-Keep the receipt (the value behind the proof of purchase)

3) My favorite! I now have my own business cards! They aren't as pretty as some I designed on my computer but they were totally free and look professional so I can't (and won't) complain. I also have a business card hold I received for free from SaleADay.com so I can keep them on me to give to anyone curious about my blog. (sadly I expect to use them primarily for giving out contact info to my friends but that still makes them useful).

Well that's all for now, thanks for reading and hope to see you again soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stingy Tip no.8 Don't be Late

No time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!

While I admit I am a procrastinator and am frequently late myself (I'm working on it), being on time is financially beneficial on many levels.

Numero uno, your job. If you have any kind of job (except perhaps the online kind) showing up early gets you more money. Obliviously if you clock in early and work ten minutes longer than you would have if you had shown up on time you get more money, but there's more money to be had from this simple act. When you show up consistently early your higher-ups are likely to notice- which may or may not lead to a promotion but at least if you change jobs it should get you a good recommendation.

Another benefit of not being late is the relief from stress. As a repeat offender of tardiness I know for a fact that running late can wreck your nerves -if you care of course. You get antsy and agitated. You spend the drive trying to go as fast as you can. Which tends to make the nice police officers not so nice, costing you the money for the ticket, your insurance hike, potential property damage from an accident, and the additional time spent off the clock. To finish off the ball of badness you arrive in a foul mood to work making the customers upset, hurting sales, getting fired, turning into a super villain and destroying the world.
... well maybe not that far, but you get the idea.

Then there's every other appointment in your life. Whether it is a date, dentist appointment, interview, photo shoot, any time that you have paid for that you miss is loosing money. If you have paid for it why wouldn't you use it?

When it comes to tardiness, time is money and when you're early you're on time, if you're on time you're late, if you're late you're broke.

Keep hoppin' white rabbits,

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stingy Tip no. 7 Reap the Rewards

Want new stuff? How about free stuff? One of the best ways to do this is via rewards programs.

Now I know I have mentioned rewards programs before in passing but I thought perhaps I would go a little more in depth. Also, for the convenience of this post the term "reward program" will henceforth be referred to with the acronym RP.

One definition of RP is "a structured and long-term marketing effort which provides incentives to repeat customers who demonstrate loyal buying behavior." (About.com) Most businesses will have a RP of some kind. It can be as simple as a stamp card at your local coffee shop (such as the awesome Coffee Loft in Fairhope), or as complex a points system such as with Best Buy Reward Zone (complex does not mean bad). There's a whole myriad to choose from.
I divide RP into two main groups: real world and digital. Real word are the RPs that are connected to a physical store, even when you manage rewards and can make purchases online. Digital is RPs that exist only in cyberspace.

So what RPs should you use? Any you think are worth the time! Time is money and some rewards do require some effort. Here are a few criteria:

Do you visit the store/website twice a week or more?

Is the store/website a favorite of yours or people close to you?

Does the store/website sell 20 or more products you would like to own at any given time?

Does the RP's rewards sound highly appealing and useful?

Can you earn a desirable reward within a reasonable time frame?

If you answered yes to two or more of the questions, then you should probably join the RP.


One of my favorite types of RPs are for advertising websites. Basically you get rewarded for watching sponsor's ads through the site. Unlike with regular RPs, you are not required to buy ANYTHING -although some give the option. Performing tasks or watching ads earns you points which you will use to buy gift cards or merchandise listed on the site.

Using RPs can get you cool stuff and save you money for doing what you already do, requiring only a little extra effort in order to track your rewards. So what are you waiting for?


Here are some of my favorite RPs

Search & Win

Swagbucks gives you points to search, play games, use coupons and more!

Club Bing
Earn points for playing games like Chicktionary to buy cool things like solar-powered backpacks (I'm not kidding, it's on my wishlist). All by Bing.

Bing Rewards
Again from Bing only you get points from searching for random stuff like you do anyway. It has plenty of gift cards and product to choose from, even subscriptions to magazines, Hulu Plus, and points for Xbox Live.




Inbox Dollars pays straight up cash for reading email, watching ads, using coupons and more. Earn $30 and get a check. The more you do the faster you get the moolah.

Wishing you many happy rewards,

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stingy Tip no. 6 Cheap(skate) Date

So, I apologize for the almost exact month that I have not posted. I was endeavoring to procure additional funds from a new job that will be filed under the "mistakes" tab of my life (and potentially this blog if I can figure out how to add tabs). It ended up costing me time, money, and a whole lot of energy. The only thing I can say was beneficial about it was the exercise I got from the excessive amount of walking it required.

But I promised a post about affordable dating, not a giant vent, so here it is:

Dates primarily consist of Food, Fun, and Fraternization. (I love alliteration! Plus it helps with memory)

Food:
This one is usually the easiest. Restaurants give out tons of coupons; they are betting on the fact that you are more likely to eat there with a coupon than you are without and a little less money overall is better than none at all. It is similar to the philosophy that led to the invention of the gift card. (With a gift card, if the giftie uses less than was on the card the store still makes the amount paid for the card, if they spend more than the card, the store makes even more: win-win)

Anyway, the easiest way to get a restaurant coupon is to sign up for their mailing list. About a week prior to the date sign up for several local restaurants' mailing list and printing off the coupons they send you. Most will be for a free appetizer but some are better. Ruby Tuesday's is the best bet in my opinion.

Other options include finding coupons via an app on your phone, cash back offers though your bank or credit card, and Restaurant.com gift cards (they sell gift cards for less than their value but have strict stipulations that limit use such as "on purchases exceeding $20" or "cannot be combined with other offers").

If you want to let your date pick the place the day of the date, keep all the coupons on you that are likely choices. If you can decide beforehand it gives you more time to plan. Also, if you want to be covert about using a coupon, wait until your date has gone to the bathroom -or make an excuse to go yourself- and slip the coupon to the waiter/waitress.
If you have to present it in front of your date just think about the fact it is less embarrassing to use a coupon than to have to go dutch.

Fun:
This tends to be the hardest to find discounts for. Not that there aren't any, it just takes a little more digging and creative thinking.

The best thing to go with is local attractions; public events, parks, and fund raisers. These are all free-to-see deals where you can get to know each other. Fund raising events may not sound like fun for a date, but events like Relay For Life can have dancing and games plus you feel good for helping others.
Check out the websites for local radio/TV stations as they will generally have a page devoted to discounts for local stores, events, and concerts.

Barring that, the movies and the local mall are good standbys. There are various ways to get free or discounted tickets to a movie theater. Find out if the school you attend sells movie tickets (or have if they sponsor special events at the local theater, such as the "Cheapdate" movie of the month deal at The University of South Alabama where you can purchase tickets for a specific showing of a specific movie for $2). You can also check to see if a local theater offers a student/military discount. Some banks will also have offers. There is the occasional online offer for a free movie ticket, but they are few and far between. They also have many rules about where and when they can be used and have expiration dates. I recommend using these only if they happen to work for your date anyway.

The mall offers tons of options, if you know the stores that your date prefers, repeat the advice for the restaurant coupons. Same principle.

(btw gifts are a good idea)

Fraternization:
It shouldn't cost a thing! Be yourself and try to have fun. If you spend to whole date as a nervous wreck the date will suck for both parties. If you can't help it fake confidence until you feel confident. Like smiling when you are upset it triggers a reaction in your brain to make you happier.

This is a bare-bones outline of a date, it is up to you to fill in the gaps. Us your imagination to make it fun and my guide to keep it within budget.

Till next time :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Stingy Tip no.5 (for shopaholics)

Don't be so picky!

It is the mantra of many parents when their kids don't want something because it isn't just right. But being picky can save you from yourself if you love to shop. Shopaholics can see an item in a store and instantly they HAVE to have it. Being picky can prevent the cost of an impulse buy. Even if you return an impulse buy it has still cost you the price of gas and the mental stress of regret. Don't buy the item you saw unless you have thought about buying it for at least two weeks.

The best way to get that shopping fix without the price is to plan. If you know that you will be going to the mall, decide how many items you will buy and how much you can spend for the night (including tax, food, and gas). Know about half the items you plan to buy, how much they will cost, and what stores they are available in. Check the stores' websites to find any sales/ coupons that are applicable to your item to get the best price. There are also ways to shop for free. Look for coupons for free items by mail and online. Victoria Secret frequently sends out coupons for a free $8 panty, no purchase required. Not too long ago Bath and Body Works had a print out coupon for a free moisturizer in their new scent.

Window shopping can also be fruitful. Some stores allow you to get reward points just for visiting. Hot Topic has a scanner in stores to get ten points every day you stop by. Or like with Best Buy you can attend private parties for members where you are entered for prizes just for attending. You should join the reward program for any store you shop regularly (or really like)if they have one. I suggest having a separate email address so your inbox doesn't get cluttered.

Happy hunting!


Up next: how a cheap date doesn't need to be a crappy date.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Couponing!

Just posting a few pics on couponing

This is not my transaction unfortunately, it is a friend of mine's who let me come along. I hope to get that good at it.


My new coupon binder! Also a form of recycling due to the fact that it is my old Yu-Gi-Oh! binder. (knew those card sleeves were worth the money)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stingy Tip no. 4

Transportation

Especially when gas prices are on the rise, gas can take a large chunk out of your budget. Minimizing that cost can be difficult but it is one of the best ways to save money.

If you live in a city or on campus where you can either walk or ride a bike from point A to point B- do so. Not only will it save you on gas, it will be great exercise. There are drawbacks of course, it will (usually) take longer than driving and you will be exposed to the weather. So walk when you can and drive when you can't.

Another option is driving a scooter for short distances. They are available in gas or electric forms and can be very cheap. This is good if you don't have a vehicle or if you cannot walk long distances due to health problems and don't want to drive your vehicle. I recommend the electric ones as they are cheaper to buy and can be charged on campus if they get low on power. They will typically go about 10 miles on one charge.

If you live in a rural area like I do, waling isn't really an option. In this case, try improve your gas mileage and carpool when possible. The best way to improve your vehicle's MPG is to keep up to date on maintenance.
It does have an up-front cost but it will be worth it in gas and sooner or later you have to do it anyway. The preventative measures can also save you from the higher cost of breaking down.
The main things to watch:

  • Tire pressure- under (and over) inflated tires can change how your tread grips the road, making your engine work harder to move your vehicle.
  • Tread- check your tread fairly often, if the tread is shallow or has no definition it will be prone to drifting as there is less traction. This can cost in gas mileage and even cause a wreck!
  • Oil/fluids- if your car didn't need them it wouldn't have them. Check levels at least once a week for older vehicles. If you subscribe to Onstar they can sometimes check for you.
If you drive a truck, replace the tailgate with a net if you can. It makes a big difference. Just don't drive with the tailgate down, that doesn't work sadly. Not using the heat/AC can also raise the gas mileage as gas is used  in these systems.

If you ride the bus, find out if there are any discounts for you such as a student discount.

If you fly a helicopter to school... why are you reading this blog?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stingy Tip no. 3

Desperate Measures

This is a list of some of my penny-pinching moves that aren't very fun to follow but can make a big difference. They will mostly apply to those who live off-campus.

Energy: To make your electric bill do the limbo here are some ways to avoid using power.

  • Study during the day- while our brains are geared to be more active in the later hours, sunlight is cheap and lamplight isn't. Don't burn the midnight oil unless it is actually oil (or a candle)
  • Charge your gadgets at school- take the chargers for your most used tech to school and charge them between classes, that's a few hours of use you won't pay for once you go home and small items like cell phones and MP3 players can be charged in your vehicle for free.
  • Know what you need from the fridge before you open it- the less time you stand with the door open the more energy it takes to keep it cold. Time = money.
  • Dress appropriately- instead of turning the thermostat up/down wear more/less clothing, pretty self explanatory just don't go overboard. If your toes are blue and you can't feel your face you've gone too far 
Utility:

  • Use the Force (Wi-fi) If you aren't addicted to the internet (which reading my blog means you probably are) don't get internet service for your home, I only recommend this if you are really headed for trouble as the internet can be a mega source of money if you know how to use it, a topic I plan to expound on later. If you decide to do without hopefully you're lucky enough that someone living near you isn't tech savvy and doesn't know how to put a password on their wi-fi or there is a business nearby that offers it for free. If you aren't so fortunate visit your local library or the campus or have a study date with a friend.
  • Use public restrooms- this might sound gross but if you are paying for water it can really add up, take a restroom break at school before you head home and if your recreation center has a shower room use it too whenever you exercise.
  • 21st Century TV- While I'm still waiting for my flying skateboard at least I don't have to pay in appendages to watch my favorite shows. If you have no money to spend on TV, you have Hulu, which has tons of currently-running cable and standard shows as well as classics, movies, and anime. You have to watch some short commercials but they aren't so much of an interruption that it outweighs the benefits. If you have a little to spend on TV there's Netflix. Netfix has a huge selection and you can choose to view instantly or on DVD. The subscription price is pretty low and if split among roommates the cost is almost negligible.Most websites for TV channels will also have streaming episodes. I recommend using all of the above in combination to get the most for the least. For best viewing connect a laptop to your TV to view everything and use a wireless mouse as a remote.
  • Groceries- I cannot stress how much you can save using coupons, discounts, and incentives. Really if you need to save money this is the first idea to consider. I wish I had started here. 
I would have more to expound upon but I fear I am becoming tired and that usually leads to my writing being nonsensical. Any serious questions can be either commented below or sent via email to student@disposable.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stingy Tip no.2

Invest in the future

Would you like to walk across a tightrope for the first time without a net or, if you had no choice in the matter, how likely is it that you would try to do a trick? The same goes with life. You take more risks if the danger is less extreme. Financial advisors agree that, if possible, you should keep 3-4 months' expenses worth of money in the bank in case of financial hardship, i.e. losing your job. This can be problematic at best for a college student when vast amounts of money get devoted to tuition twice a year instead of smaller amounts taken in payments like most expenses.

If you can't keep large sums on hand try stockpiling food and supplies instead. This is a tactic employed by many if not most couponers (or couponistas) where, when you find an extreme deal on grocery items where the product is nearly free, free, or better than free (overage)-you stock up. This is recommended for non perishable, freeze-able items, and paper products. Do not buy more than you can reasonably consume prior to the expiration date (believe me, eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner three days a week gets old fast). That being said you can keep plenty of dry, canned, and frozen foods on hand for the first couple weeks of the semester when you have only $20 to live off of until your next paycheck.

Granted if you live on campus you will usually have a meal plan and limited storage but you will need to plan for the weekends and holidays where you have to fend for yourself. In addition, depending on the state of your school's cafeteria(s) being able to cook a meal with more flavor than cardboard will help lessen any homesickness and make you VERY popular amongst your friends.

In short: plan ahead and learn to cook

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stingy Tip no.1

Never pay full price for anything. This can be difficult starting out, and there are times when it is unavoidable, but for the most part if you are willing to do a little digging, you can usually find some kind of discount. Frequently, it is as easy as typing what you want into Google. It is crazy how many things you can find coupons for or get for free online: vehicles, rent, food, textbooks, shampoo, underwear, medication, parties (yes you can host parties for products and receive tons of free stuff, I've done it), pet supplies, eBooks, music, et cetera. Now you can even use your smartphone for instant savings at restaurants.Even Facebook can save you money, many bands give away products and coupons right on their wall. So when you can keep all that money in your interest-bearing savings account, why pay retail?



Mission Statement

This blog is my way of sharing ways to save money that I have learned (sometimes the hard way) to help others afford college and life in general. I decided to do this in response to the hundreds of websites that are devoted to saving "mom" money on groceries and saving students from credit cards. There always seemed to be an echoing void for anyone trying to scrape by on their own. So I will try to publish as much of my hard-earned wisdom as possible and hope to help someone out.