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26 Apr 2011   ·   42
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: How I saved $156 per year by asking for introductory rates

Here’s a great tip that Rochelle emailed in:

I have been an AT&T customer for 10 years now. I have a bundle package with them, which includes home phone, cell phone and DSL. Every year the bill seems to go up, so I look it over and then give them a call. I contact their Retention Department and tell them I have been a long-time customer and then ask them if I can have their introductory rates (like the rates you see on TV for new customers).

Recently, I was able to reduce my bill by $13 per month ($156/year), plus they increased my DSL speed to a faster connection, just by making a phone call to their Rentention Dept. The new lower rates will be in effect for one year, then I will have to give them a call after my one year is up to ask for a discount again. -Rochelle

How do you save at least $100 per year? Submit your tip here and possibly be featured on my blog or in my upcoming book.

23 Apr 2011   ·   15
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday

My book manuscript is almost done (yay!), so I’m enjoying jumping back into using coupons again after taking a break for a few weeks to focus on writing. I’ve missed it!

Here’s what I bought this week:

Target Shopping Trip: Spent $6.47, saved $14.29 — see the full list of what I bought and coupons I used here.

Dillon’s Shopping Trip: Spend $7.89, saved $22.95 — see the full list of what I bought and coupons I used here.

Walgreens Shopping Trip: Spent $0.49 — see the full list of what I bought and coupons I used here.

I also bought three dozen farm-fresh eggs from my brother. We’ve been going through so many eggs recently and I’m thankful to have a source for such high-quality, delicious eggs.

I still need to go to Aldi to pick up some fruit and vegetables since we’re almost out and they have $0.99 strawberries and pineapple again this week!

Would you like to know what the best deals and coupon match-ups are for your local stores? Be sure to check out the Store Deals section of our site where we post the best deals and coupon match-ups each week for over 100 different stores across the country. You can sign up to receive the top deals in your email inbox each week as soon as they are posted!

Find

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

22 Apr 2011   ·   76
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash :: Crock Pot

We paid cash!

Note from Crystal: I think that this story illustrates how we all save for things in different ways and have different mentalities towards saving — and that’s completely okay! If Debi had asked me how to save to pay cash for a crock pot, I would have told her to skip eating out a few times over a one or two-week period and use the money saved to buy a crock pot at the thrift store or garage sale.

However, she has a very busy life so she chose to continue eating out and save up her Swagbucks to pay for the crock pot instead. In the end, it worked well for her!

A testimony from Debi at Bluegrass Savers

It dawned on me one day that having a crock pot might make my life a whole lot easier. Since I started blogging in addition to my full-time job, I had less time to devote to making dinner so we were eating out at least six times each week including lunches.

For a while it was fine because I was spending so little on our groceries and supplies using coupons. Over time, the cost was beginning to adding up, though. Frozen dinners were also becoming frighteningly popular — and my husband hates frozen dinners.

I love to cook and was really distraught over this situation at home. The weirdest thing is that we always have so much food in the pantry and freezer but it was rarely cooked.

I realized it would really help to get a programmable crock pot so that I could make dinner in the morning and it would be ready when I got home from work. The only problem was that a crock pot was not in our budget.

When I saw the $20 Amazon.com gift card for $10 through Living Social, a plan began to take root in my mind for how to get one with cash. I had also been seeing so many people talking about getting an $5 Amazon.com gift cards using Swagbucks, so I joined toward the end of January, 2011. I quickly started winning points and got my husband to sign on as well. Within a few weeks of doing that, both accounts were mysteriously canceled for violating the rules.

I contacted their customer service, only to find that it was against the rules to have more than one account per household! I had only redeemed one $5 gift card and was waiting for two more to be posted. Needless to say I lost those and over 1000 Swagbucks. (If I would have seen the series on Swagbucks sooner, I may have avoided this costly experience.)

I then created a new account and saw several daily deals that I could use, so I purchased them through Swagbucks, allowing me to earn points faster and I continued to search as usual using the tool bar. I redeemed $20 more worth of Amazon.com gift cards and added this to my Living Social deal to purchase the slow cooker for $2.21 to cover the taxes! The Amazon.com list price for the slow cooker was $59.99; they had it on sale for $44.54. I ended up only paying $12.21, including the cost of the Living Social deal.

I’m so excited to be able to come home and have dinner ready instead of having to eat out so often!

Debi Smith is 24 and has been married for two years. She lives in Kentucky where she works full-time in the medical research industry, and also writes Bluegrass Savers.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

21 Apr 2011   ·   52
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Target Shopping Trip: Spent $6.47, Saved $14.29

After stopping at Dillon’s today, we headed to Target. Here’s what we bought:

2 Reach floss — $0.97 each, used 2 $1/1 coupons, free after coupons

1 Up & Up Detangler — $1.34, used $0.50/1 Target Baby item coupon (no longer available), $0.84 after coupon

1 Up & Up Lotion — $1.37, used $0.50/1 Target Baby item coupon (no longer available), $0.87 after coupon

1 A&D Ointment — $3.34, used $1/1 manufacturer’s coupon, stacked with $2/1 Target coupon (no longer available), $0.34 after coupon

2 Circo socks — $1 each, used $1/1 Target Circo coupons (no longer available), free after coupon

1 Up & Up Foil — $1.22, used $0.50/1 coupon, $0.72 after coupon

1 Up & Up Eye Drops — $2.19, used $0.50/1 coupon, $1.69 after coupon

2 Tide travel packets — $1.07 each, used 2 $1/1 coupons, $0.07 each after coupon

1 Up & Up Nail Polish Remover — $1.02, used $0.50/1 coupon, $0.52 after coupon

2 Wish-Bone salad dressings — $1.60 each, used $0.75/1 manufacturer’s coupon, stacked with $1.50/2 Target coupon (no longer available), $0.48 each after coupons

Before coupons and clearance prices, my total would have been $20.76. After coupons, I paid $6.47.

I also picked up three clearance t-shirts and jeans, all priced at just $3.15 each!

I’ve been printing the good Target coupons as they’ve come available the past few weeks and then I finally had enough to make it worth making a trip today. This is typically how I roll with Target and Walmart — I just collect coupons to use there in their designated coupon envelope in my coupon box and then I make a trip every few weeks.

21 Apr 2011   ·   27
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Dillon’s Shopping Trip: Spent $7.98, Saved $22.95

We stopped by Dillon’s today and here’s what we bought:

1 Clairol Nice ‘N Easy — used free product coupon

1 package King’s Hawaiian Rolls (My husband loves these rolls, so I bought them as a special treat for dinner tonight!) — marked down to $1.29

1 bag of popcorn (Buying kernels and popping corn in our air popper is so much cheaper than buying microwave popcorn!) — $1.99

1 Renuzit Air Freshener — $1, used $1/1 coupon, free after coupon

1 Heinz ketchup — $1.99, used $2/1 coupon (no longer available), free after coupon

1 Luna bar — $1, used $0.50/1 coupon (doubled), free after coupon

3 Mars Easter Eggs (not pictured, these were my children’s rewards for good behavior at the store. They are long gone as candy is a rarity at our house!) — $1 each, used $2/2 coupon from All You magazine — $0.33 each after coupon

2 bags Lay’s Kettle Chips — $1.99 each, used 2 $0.55/1 Lay’s Kettle chips coupon from the 3/13 SmartSource insert (“doubles” to $1/1), $0.99 each after coupon

My total, after coupons with tax, was $7.89. My receipt says my total savings was $22.95.

See the full list of Dillon’s match-ups for this week here.

18 Apr 2011   ·   40
Money Saving Mom

How Selling on Consignment Works for Me

Guest post by Carrie Hurst at My Favorite Finds

For about four years, I have been cleaning out my closet every season with the goal of taking items to our local consignment shop. At first, I thought it was cool that I could go in there with a lot of stuff I didn’t want, maybe make a little bit of money and they would donate for me what wouldn’t sell. It was a win-win situation.

Within the last two years or so, I’ve become more serious and focused on what I take to our local consignment shop or our local kid’s consignment sale and what I donate so that I can get the best value for my time and money. Here are some ideas if you are considering consignment:

Always be sorting your clothes.

I sort our clothes (kids and adults) in three ways: a) To sell, b) to donate and c) to throw out. I don’t wait until the end or beginning of a season to sort clothes into the above three categories; I do this on an ongoing basis.

I am also fairly realistic with my clothes. If I haven’t worn it at all that season or if it doesn’t fit right, I don’t keep it.

Be organized about it.

I keep a bin in my daughter’s room for things which will go to the yearly consignment sale. Anytime the kids outgrow something, or it is out of season, it goes in the bin if it’s able to be sold. I keep a garbage bag or a big shopping bag in the laundry room for the clothes I donate to our local thrift shop. Finally, I also keep a storage bin in the laundry room for the adult clothes that I take to the consignment store.

Be loyal to one or two stores.

When I walk into Worth Repeating, the local adult consignment shop I sell my extra clothes to, the lovely ladies there know me by name. They also know that I want to know what my store credit is, and they know that I’ll probably saunter through the kids’ section and probably find something. I love that. I am also signed up for their email list and their Facebook page. That way, I know for sure when they are taking items. Since I typically have a few things sorted and ready to go, I can easily take them with me and drop them off at Worth Repeating when I’m out driving.

Buy new with resale in mind.

If I’m going to make an investment in my clothes, I’m going to get my money’s worth. That also means that when I buy something, I consider the brand and quality of the item because chances are, it’ll end up at the consignment shop in a few seasons.

This is especially true of my kids’ clothes. I have learned that the brands such as Carter’s, Gymboree, GAP, Children’s Place, etc., not only yield more at the consignment shop, they also sell faster. That doesn’t mean I pay full price at these stores — I shopped at the Children’s Place last summer and bought a few things for my daughter during their Monster Sale for $0.99. I am sure that I can easily sell those items and gain $3 at least at Worth Repeating.

Also, I don’t take the tags off of something until I know for sure my children or I am going to wear it. Clothes with tags attached yield more because they are “brand new”.

Inspect your items before taking them in.

I consider if I would buy the item or not. I make sure the zippers work, the buttons are buttoned and that most of the clothes are on hangers. Not only is the consignment shop trying to make a profit, but so am I. The better condition the clothes are in, the higher they’ll price the item, making it more profit for me.

Be realistic about your profit.

I don’t consign my items to make additional income. If I get a month’s worth of weekly Starbucks visits out of the deal, I’m happy.

I don’t like having or going to garage sales — so I have the ladies at Worth Repeating do the job for me! Thankfully, they’re honest and will tell me what will sell and what won’t and I have learned to be okay with that.

I will call them about every two weeks and ask what my store credit is. Sometimes it’s $12, sometimes it’s $30. It just varies.

Take your seasonal items in as soon as you know they are accepting them.

When I get an email or see on Facebook that Worth Repeating is accepting items for the upcoming season, I’ll be ready within a few days to drop the bulk of my items off. I consider the fact that my items could spend a few days to possibly a week — depending how much they have to sort through and price — in the back room before it reaches the floor.

I want to get it there ASAP so that they can get it out and hopefully it can sell soon. They are on a 90-day consignment. So, after 30/60/90 days, the price is reduced.

If I take a lot of summer items in mid July — even though they’re still accepting them — more than likely I’ll get them back because they didn’t sell. Ninety days from mid-July is mid-October. By then, my items could be supremely discounted and people aren’t shopping for summer clothes anymore.

What will happen to your items that don’t sell?

At Worth Repeating, they’ll either donate them to a worthy local cause, or they’ll give them back to you. I decide based on the group of items I have dropped off if I want them donated or returned.

Most of the time, I have the kids’ clothes returned so I can possibly sell them at the local consignment sale. I usually have the adult clothes donated. I figure that if I didn’t want to wear it so much that I was hoping to consign it, or if it didn’t fit, I don’t want it back. But since I have a possibility of selling the kids’ clothes at the consignment sale or at the consignment store the next season, I go ahead and take them back to hopefully sell later.

Store your items neatly at the end of the season.

As I weed out what my children will be able to wear next fall/winter, I store the out-of-season clothes in plastic bins with lids. I wash, dry and neatly fold their clothes that are going to the consignment shop next fall and put them in a stack in the basement. I won’t remember what’s in those containers two weeks from now, let alone next fall. So, I make sure they are folded and ready to go when the season rolls around to take them to the shop.

My name is Carrie. I am a pastor’s wife, mom to twin boys and an 18-month-old daughter. I also work full-time outside of our home. I love to find ways to save money, be a better parent and a better Christian example to others. I’ve been a MSM reader/follower for over a year, and I’ve learned so much. If you have a chance, I’d love for you to visit my blog, My Favorite Finds.

photo credit

16 Apr 2011   ·   97
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday

Other than a stop at the health food store to purchase the above (I was so excited to get coconuts for $0.59 each!) and peanut butter at Aldi (we were hoping to get some $0.99 strawberries and $0.99 pineapple, but they were completely cleaned out!), we didn’t do any other shopping this week. Our pantry and freezer still have plenty in them so I’m curious to see if we can make it to the end of the month on this minimal shopping.

It also helps that we’re sticking to super simple meals which can be made in around. Dinners have been mostly marinated chicken, fish or steak with frozen veggies, toast and fruit. Yes, super, super simple, but no one is complaining yet. We’re also having a lot of peanut butter and honey sandwiches — even having them for breakfast a lot of mornings (weird to some people, I’m sure, but the children actually love them and it seems to keep them full until lunchtime!). I have missed baking and creative tinkering in the kitchen, though, and I’m looking forward to having more time in a few weeks (once my manuscript is turned in) to resume more varied meals. 🙂

In other shopping news, I also went to a kid’s consignment store on Thursday. I had a $15 Groupon to use (that was only $7 to buy) and was hoping I could get at least 10 items with it. I guess I was a bit naive and didn’t realize how much more expensive some consignment stores are than Dollar Days at the thrift store! When I pulled out the first item and looked at the price tag and saw $6.99, I just about had heart failure. I try to pay no more than $5 or $6 per item brand-new at retail stores, so paying $6.99 for used clothing seemed crazy.

I ended up only getting four items with my $15 Groupon and I still had to pay $10 out of pocket. They were all in great, like-new shape and one was even GAP brand, so I figured that it wasn’t the world’s worst deals ever. But I’m certainly not impressed with that particular consignment store’s prices. I’m going to try some other consignment stores in our area to see if they have any better clearance or regular prices. If not, I may just stick with shopping at the clearance racks at Target and Old Navy, as well as going to consignment sales, as that seems to be working fairly well for buying children’s clothes inexpensively.

______________

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

15 Apr 2011   ·   123
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: We save $100 a year by owning laying hens

I loved this money-saving idea from Alice of Farewell, Office:

While I realize that not everyone has the space to do this, we save a lot of money (and earn a little, too!) by owning four laying hens.

Initially, we didn’t know how well this would work and so we went for minimal investment. We bought four chicks for $2 each and set them up in an unused dog kennel and an old dog house with straw inside for a nest. Now that they are full-grown, each hen lays an average of one egg per day and, because we have mild winters, they lay year-round. We get an average of two dozen eggs per week from our hens. We keep a dozen for our family and sell a dozen to friends or family for $2 per dozen.

This gives us $8 per month to pay for feed to supplement their diet, in addition to the scraps we feed them. This means that we pay essentially nothing for having free-range eggs year-round, saving us a good $100 per year.

This has worked so well that we just bought four new chicks, and next year we are going to add four more. Taking care of 8 – or 12! – isn’t any harder than taking care of four. You just throw them a cup of feed every day and collect the eggs. This is a perfect chore for my 7-year-old and we’ve decided this is going to be his job and business, with his savings portion going to his college savings account. -Alice

photo credit

15 Apr 2011   ·   84
Money Saving Mom

We Paid Cash! :: Our Wedding and Honeymoon

We paid cash!

A testimony from Angela

My husband and I got married in February of 2010.

From the start of our relationship, we decided we wanted to plan a wedding and honeymoon that would leave us debt-free. We decided it was more important to go into our marriage free of debt, so we could save for a home and a family, than it was to have a large, elaborate wedding.

Saving for the Wedding

  • We both moved back home with our parents and put the money we were saving on rent and bills in our “wedding fund.” We also put any bonuses, gift money, etc. into this fund.
  • We cut down on “date nights” and put that money in our fund as well.
  • We had some donations from our parents, and I had started saving some money every month when we first started dating that I added to this fund.

We were able to save a total of $5,000 in just nine months. This was our Wedding Budget.

Planning the Wedding

We planned a wedding for $5,000.00 and a 10-day honeymoon for $3,000.00. Here’s what we did:

  • I got creative. I made our “Save the Date” cards and wedding invitations at Vistaprint.com using coupons and discounts. I got our Save the Dates for the cost of shipping only!
  • I used Craigslist. I saved hundreds of dollars buying a used wedding dress, spending only $125.00. I also bought my center pieces and most of the reception décor on Craigslist, spending only about $200 for all of the décor.
  • We asked for help. We have friends and family who are gifted in photography, floral arrangements, organization and a family member who is a pastor. We asked all of these people to help us on our wedding day. They all were glad to help!
  • We made our own food and asked family to help. We asked our family to bring a large salad, side or drink instead of buying us a wedding gift. My mom and I made the main dish (beef brisket) at home. This saved us thousands on a caterer.
  • We took the time to shop for the best deals. I spent hours upon hours looking for the lowest prices and best deals. I never rushed into buying anything. This saved us hundreds of dollars.

Wedding Ceremony

We knew we wanted a long honeymoon somewhere warm. We decided to go to an all-inclusive resort to save on food and drink costs, and went for the smallest resort we could find. We were able to go to Jamaica for 10 days — flight, food, drinks, hotel and entertainment all for under $3,000.00.

It took a bit of work and imagination to create the wedding of our dreams on such a tight budget, however, the pay off was worth it. We are now planning and building for our future, debt-free!

Angela and her husband, Michael live in Western Washington where Michael is a Chiropractor. Angela works in Telecommunications and has a passion for providing her family whole, natural food, while being the best steward possible of the financial blessings the Lord has trusted them with.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

14 Apr 2011   ·   55
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: We’re saving $200 per year by switching to “Time of Use” energy plan

Lisa submitted the following tip:

We recently switched to a “Time of Use” plan with our energy company. Rather than a flat rate for electricity, our rate now varies depending on the time of day. The rates for off-peak times are one-third of what they used to be, while the rates for peak times are twice as much. Programs vary, but our peak times are Monday through Friday from 10AM to 9PM. Everything else (plus designated holidays) is considered off-peak.

If you can shift 65% of your electricity usage to off-peak times, you will start to save. We now only do our big ticket energy activities (laundry and dishwasher) during off-peak hours. We’ve also shifted many other activities like charging the laptop and baking to help the savings grow. Note that this program is for electricity only, so our gas rates (which is how we heat our home) remain the same.

We also find that we’re more likely to play a family game rather than watch a movie or go for a walk rather than waste time on the computer. Regardless of the dollar savings, our family has definitely benefited from this program.

After three months, we have already saved 25% off last year’s electric bills. At this rate, the savings will be saving over $200 this year. -Lisa

photo credit

14 Apr 2011   ·   51
Money Saving Mom

15 Ways to Save Money on Gasoline (Part 2)

I started the 15 Ways to Save Money on Gasoline last week. Here are eight more ways to save money on gasoline submitted by Chrystal Turner from Sea of Savings:

8. Take it easy.

Rapid braking, punching the accelerator and other forms of forceful driving can cut fuel efficiency by as much as one-third at highway speeds and five percent in the city. Driving more carefully can save you up to $1 per gallon.

9. Carpool, if possible.

While this won’t work for everyone, if you can split the costs of gasoline with someone else, you’ll definitely save a bundle. Plus, if you share driving responsibilities, it will allow you to read, write or accomplish other work instead of always driving.

10. Lighten up.

Reducing the weight in your car by 100 pounds can increase your fuel efficiency by up to two percent, the EPA says, or up to $0.07 per gallon. Don’t haul anything unnecessary.

11. Don’t idle.

Idling wastes gas. The bigger the engine, the more gas wasted.

Consider going inside to order your lunch rather than waiting in a long drive-through line. Using cruise control and the overdrive gear at highway speeds will also help improve your gas mileage.

12. Get regular tune-ups.

A car that isn’t running well wastes gas. A tune-up and other repairs can improve your gas mileage by about four percent, or $0.15 per gallon, according to the EPA.

Fixing a serious problem can improve mileage by an enormous 40 percent. The repairs might be expensive, but at today’s gas prices, it will be cheaper in the long run to do the repairs.

13. Clean it up.

A clogged air filter can decrease your gas mileage by up to 10 percent, or $0.37 per gallon. And using the proper grade of motor oil can save one to two percent, or $0.04 to $0.07 per gallon.

14. Check your tires.

Properly inflated tires improve gas mileage by up to three percent.

15. Buy where it’s least expensive.

Finally, make sure you’re getting the best gas prices in your area by checking GasBuddy.com.

Chrystal Turner is a mom of one little energetic 4 year old, wife, work at home mom and blogger. Her blog, Sea of Savings, features the latest coupons and freebies, and routinely features work-at-home jobs and tips for working at home.