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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." ( 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)

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 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.

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)

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 :)