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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.