October 2011

Big on Reading but Low on Cash? Check out Free Kindle Books

The Amazon Kindle helps save money.

The Amazon Kindle has really revolutionized how I read.  Always an avid reader, my budget has been far exceeded by my ambitions when it comes to buying books.  As time went by and kids kept coming, reading went to the back burner.

That all changed when I discovered Kindle.  Not only is the device itself great to read on, but the sheer selection of free – that’s right, free – books available has turned me into a bookworm again.  You don’t need to spend $100 on a piece of plastic for reading when you can read all the Kindle books on your PC, Android, iPhone and others.

Always Search for Coupon Codes When Shopping Online

For many years, I simply threw away my money when shopping for things online.  Then I learned how many big retailers and websites offer coupon codes that are readily available for anyone willing to do a little digging.  Just this morning, I saved 10 percent on a new domain name for a website project, and it cost me about two minutes of time to find the coupon code.

Ditch the Paper Towels

If you’re like me, you look around your house and cringe at the way money seems to pour into the garbage.  This fad surrounding paper products has me scratching my head.  Are we so rich we can afford to use something once and just toss it in the garbage, filling the landfill and emptying our bank accounts?  One of the quickest fixes when it comes to weaning yourself off paper products is to ditch the paper towel addiction.

The Gradual Frugalatarian

My Start Up Steps to Saving Money

It took me a long time to come to terms with frugality. In fact, I am sure I'm still evolving.  As a single, no dependent, addicted to my job - I had lots of disposable income. I can remember many times being advised of something or another being on sale somewhere, and responding with, "My time is worth more than what it would save to shop around." Maybe then it was. I did make a heck of a lot more per hour than i do now. hatever the case, that was me at 20. Me at 40 says, "Wow, you're an idiot! Look how much money you could have saved over the years if you had just taken the time..."   It's never too late to start saving money, though.  I thought I'd share the first few changes I made that got me excited and on a roll to stick with it and find more ways to save.

Do It Myself Beauty I had already made small changes in this area. Started browsing the cosmetic aisles at the pharmacy and shopping online instead of going to the big make up counters.  For some reason that made me kind of depressed though. It wasn't until I started coloring my own hair that I noticed the big savings and felt in control.  $70 every 6 weeks for color is a lot of money. I decided to try it myself and really enjoyed the freedom of being able to browse and choose different colors every time, and the creativity of plotting out my highlights. Since I was having fun with it, I didn't feel as much like i HAD to do it, but that I WANTED to.  Although I can no longer relate to the negative feelings I had early on when I had to go on a budget, I do remember them and think that getting in the right mind set is helpful in moving toward a more financially responsible lifestyle.

Store Brand Experimentation Even in my spendy days I never really was a brand snob or terribly materialistic.  My boyfriend turned fiance turned husband was (kinda still is!) caught up in all that. So although it's been a slow, creative process to get him to admit that Kroger "Cheerios" are as good in taste and quality as the real Cheerios, this was actually an easy one for me. I mentioned Kroger because of all the grocery stores I have shopped, Kroger consistently has the best tasting generics. My one exception is Miracle Whip. There is no substitution. 

Switch to a Credit Union Chase Bank was charging me a small fortune in fees every month. They also had too many rules that made life difficult for me at times when my balance was low. My credit union charges no fees. It reimburses me for the ATM charges I accrue at any bank. And my money is available immediately upon deposit, whereas Chase made me wait for it if I didn't have enough money in my account to cover it. The switch from big bank to credit union saved me money and made my life easier. 

Free Ways to Watch Movies

With the recent Netflix hike coupled with my husband’s job loss, we haven’t had Netflix in a long, long time—which equates to months in my home. In order to watch movies super cheaply (or even freely), we have devised a few strategies that I think might be helpful to other families trying to save money, such as…

Blockbuster. We used to use Blockbuster by mail before (during our really good financial times a couple of years ago, we used both Blockbuster and Netflix, believe it or not! It sounds stupid now, when you think about it), and you might be familiar with Netflix’s free two-week trial already. Blockbuster, however, gives a full month’s trial, and we have rented over a dozen movies for free this month via my husband’s brand-new account.