6
Jul

How Being Organized Can Save Time and Money

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

So are you bad with money or are you just disorganized? So many folks who think they just aren’t “good with money” are in actuality lacking good organizational skills. Being good with money is more about having a good mindset and good habits. Those habits need to be rooted in a very organized system. It is time to release your inner nerd and GET ORGANIZED! Once you do that, the money stuff will flow a whole lot easier.

The same applies to time mismanagement. You have all the time you need, you just need to allocate things better and organize your life better. Organization is beneficial for everyone and can be easily adapted to suit individual needs. Being organized in your everyday life actually saves you time and money. Here are a few of the reasons why.

Efficiency Creates Stress-Free Living

If you keep your belongings organized…if everything has a “home” (ie KonMari), you don’t need to spend time looking for them when needed. This is especially handy in the case of important yet rarely used items, such as that immersion blender you only use for homemade soup or insurance or tax information that you need once a year.

The key to keeping things organized is to come up with a place to keep something and stick to it. If you want to keep important mail in a desk drawer, make sure you keep all of your important mail in that drawer. Don’t be afraid of sorting your things too much. The more categories of things you come up with, the easier it will be to find exactly what you need when you need it. Imagine tax time without having to search through piles of paper or multiple filing cabinets. Imagine knowing exactly where that birthday cake pan is. Everything (and I do mean everything) needs a home.

organized to save time and money

Organization Keeps You From Wasting Money

Being organized keeps you from buying items that you already have, but you’ve forgotten about or lost in your household or workplace. How much food have you thrown out because it was expired and yet you kept right on buying more when you needed to use up what you had? It used to happen to me all the time. I also had to keep buying new items to replace ones I could not find. You’re more likely to forget about a pack of batteries you bought several months ago and never opened, than your car keys or your wallet. Combined, these types of purchases can end up costing you a significant amount of money for items that you already have or never needed in the first place.

Fortunately, this is a very fixable problem. By cleaning and organizing the designated “junk” drawers in your home or office and creating an inventory list of all the items, you will easily find the item you’re looking for the next time you go searching. This prevents unnecessary purchases and impulse buys at the store.

Organization Keeps You Sharp With Details

It can be hard to keep track of every detail when you have a lot going on in your life. Sometimes, bills can get lost in the shuffle and go unpaid, or household maintenance gets overlooked. By keeping all of your activities organized, you can get them done in a more efficient manner and you make sure that every detail is taken care of. Mail needs a home, unpaid bills need a home, bill payment needs a process and a place on your schedule, think about the processes you go through and organize them. Never pay late fees because you forgot a bill or run the risk of damaging your furnace because you forgot to add filter replacement to your calendar. You really can tackle all these little life details with better organization.

I love the ListPlanIt website for all the little details. They have a collection of lists that are so helpful. Do you need a weekly cleaning checklist, a fall cleanup or winterization checklist, a coupon inventory, or a car maintenance schedule? They have all of these and hundreds more.

Being Organized Saves Money on Shopping

If you plan out a menu for each month, you can buy many of your groceries in bulk, saving you time and frequent trips to the store. If you prepare a list ahead of time, you can also look for coupons or rebates ( I love iBotta!) that offer savings on the things you plan to buy.

The same applies to non-food items, which can be bought in bulk and stored for later use. Staying organized and keeping essentials stocked up saves you the stress of running out to make a special trip for more. You can also plan out birthday or holiday gifts well ahead of time, so that you can keep an eye out for a good deal AND start saving for bigger ticket items by putting money aside every week.

While it may take a bit of effort (or alot), organizing your life allows you to use your time more efficiently and to take full advantage of your finances. You become the master of your time and money and not the other way around! Not only that, but the more thought-out your budget or schedule is, the less you will worry about them.

30
Jun

Frugal Friday – Feeling the ibotta Love

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Here are my recent wins with money…

ibotta – So I am a bit late to this game I think. I joined the app about a year or so ago and quickly decided that the rebates offered where not for stuff I would normally buy. So just like coupons for random stuff you don’t need, this app was not a good fit. Fast forward to NOW and there are some rebates here and there I will use. The weekly .25 cent refund for buying anything and the .25 rebate for bananas…sure. I will take .50 cents every week. Oh but then they offer $2.00 for coconut water when it is already on sale for $2.99 and $2.00-3.00 off craft beer, which my husband buys every week. Yep, sign me up. In three weeks time I made…$27.25. Download it, redeem two different rebates on branded items, and get $10 back immediately.  Oh and from the rank section of my app I can see how much my Facebook friends are saving. A local friend has earned over $8,000 from this app. Good golly!

Admittedly it seems like an invasion that you can even see this info but you can see how much your Facebook friends “earn” from ibotta. One of my friends has made over $8,000. Good golly!!!

Facebook Marketplace – I LOVE that Facebook now has a marketplace. In addition to local buy sell groups on Facebook I have been selling off unused or unwanted stuff with great success. Every little bit helps because we just renovated our master bathroom!

It is also great for buying stuff cheap. My daughter and I have started playing tennis and we got two rackets for $5. We could not have done any better at Walmart.

Menards Rebates – We love Menards for all the rebates they offer, including their famous 11% on everything offer. We bought kitchen counters during one of their 11% events. Booyah! Anyway this month we used $46 in rebates to buy stuff for our bathroom renovation, making all the paint (and not the cheapy stuff) pretty much free.

Focus Groups – Did two focus groups this month and got paid $215 for three hours of my time, which was spent sitting and chatting. Nice.

How are you winning with money right now?

14
Apr

Frugal Friday and Craigslist Love

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Whew! It has been a long while since I did one of these posts. Truth be told I don’t feel as though I have been very frugal or smart with my money lately. I never even got around to making a budget for last month, let alone sticking to one. That said I did have some frugal wins, even if it meant I spent a wee bit too much.

Got two loft beds on Craigslist. I was about to buy a loft bed for my daughter from Ikea for about $300. The one she actually wanted was from Pottery Barn for $800 so the Ikea one felt like a deal. At any rate I checked my local Craigslist ads and found two loft beds for $100 each. One was brand new and the other barely used. They both retailed for over $400 new. Now both of my younger kids have new beds. Score!

loft bed

My husband meets tons of people through his line of work and awhile back he met a man who empties out the apartments at an assisted living facility when they are vacated. Thanks to this connection we got two free exercise bikes we paid $100 for a barely used washer and dryer set.We turned around and sold the set for more than double our money. I sold one bike for $60 and the other we are keeping.

My Goodwill meanderings have paid off recently too. My fave Goodwill is next to a Target store and I am always finding brand new Target merchandise there. I got a 5-Shelf Trestle Bookcase ($69.99) new in the box for only $29. I had been admiring this style of bookcase for years! I also scored some storage baskets from target there for only $1.99 each and then later saw them at Target for $8.99 each.

I was desperate need of some new shoes and pretty much the only kind I buy are Reebok Nanos. They last, they fit my wide feet, and they are super comfy. The last time I bought some, Reebok was selling the 2.0 version of my beloved shoes. When I looked this time they are selling 7.0 versions. Knowing nothing about the 7.0 and not liking any of the designs I was not about to buy any for $130. They are seriously ugly! So I looked on eBay and found some new in box 3.0 Nanos in pink for $75 shipped. I adore them!!

I discovered a consignment furniture place near me and sold three older lamps we had laying around and made $15.

Earned $11 cash back this month via Benefit. Whenever I buy on Amazon or go out to dinner with my hubby to Texas Roadhouse we buy a gift card on Benefit first and pay that way. Then I print out a check for my cash back and deposit it through my bank’s app on my phone. Easy peasy!

Earned $25 through Ebates last month.

Lastly we bought new stainless appliances for our kitchen remodel. Did you know Lowe’s negotiates? I didn’t! We got a $2500 fridge that was a floor model and had a dent so they discounted it to $1400. Then they mentioned that one handle would not attach properly so we offered $1000. They agreed. With an energy rebate and selling our current fridge we ended up getting it for $700. So you never know. Oh and we fixed that handle issue in two seconds and covered the dent with a magnet. We also got a refurbished dishwasher allowing us to get a $800 dishwasher with bottle jets for only $311. Amazing!

See what I mean about spending?? I need to do a spending freeze.

11
Nov

Frugal Friday – The Rebate Shopping Game

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

the-rebate-shopping-gameLast week I started to make some gift purchases. I knew I wanted to maximize every dollar by playing with rebates and cash back offers and so far it has been quite profitable.

I started with my Amazon wishlist where I had been keeping the long list of the stuff the kids had mentioned wanting over the past few months. I created a general budget $600 or $200 for each child. I used Amazon to collect the wishlist items but I also shopped around at other places to compare prices and make sure Amazon was actually the best deal, sometimes they are not but usually they are.

I eventually decided that I would need at least $500 for Amazon purchases. Rather than add the items to my cart and spend the money immediately I went through a couple steps to ensure the most bang for my buck.

I checked my Benefit app to see what the rebate was for buying a gift certificate (GC) through them (3% or $15 cash back). Just by going through them and buying a GC first I save $15. Not bad right? Well, I also decided to do the math and see what I would get back if I bought the GC at Giant Eagle or Kroger. The rebate would be fuel and not cash but if it was more savings than its a no brainer since buying gas to run my car is kind of essential. Giant Eagle came out ahead. If I bought the GC there than I would get $1.00 in fuel perks. That $1.00 can used for up to thirty gallons of gas so that is a $30 rebate.

So 3% with benefit or 6% with Giant Eagle? I chose 6% with Giant Eagle. Also the 3% with Benefit is contingent upon you using your checking account via direct draft and not a credit card. By going with Giant Eagle I was able to use a rewards credit card with 1.5% cash back. I don’t carry a balance so the cash back is just butter on the biscuit.

So….now I am up to 7.5% (or $37.50) off my $500 purchase just because I took 20 minutes to go to the store to buy a gift certificate. But the story does not end there. Now I am ready to make my purchase and there are options for earning rebates there too. Ebates offers up to 7% back and there are a host of other sites that offer options like this. You simply go to Amazon through their link on their site and they earn a commission on your purchases which they then share with you…usually 50% of the commission.

What I tend to do is use Hubpages for my Amazon purchases. I have a number of articles I published to the site and whenever someone clicks on the affiliate links I get 50% of the commission generated and this counts for my own clicks and purchases as well. I just got a check this month from them for $56 and quite a bit of that was cash back on my own purchases made in the previous three months. I use Ebates or Giving Assistant for other online stores.

So far I have only ended up spending $446 dollars of that $500 but by going through my hubpages account to make the purchases I earned $21.86.

Here is the breakdown:

  • $30.00 earned by getting a gift certificate
  • $7.50 earned by using a cashback credit card
  • $21.86 earned by shopping through a source that offer rebates or commissions

I got that $500 gift certificate for $433. Booyah!

28
Oct

Frugal Friday – A Winter Utility Bills Challenge

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayI am looking for ways to save money this winter on heating costs. Last winter our peak bill was close to $600. That about knocked our socks off. It of course reminded us that we should have looked through a year’s worth of utility bills prior to buying this house. I don’t know for sure if we would have passed on making the purchase but we probably would have. But now we own it, and we do love it, so it is time to stem the bleeding.

I am going to make a challenge of reducing the bill and get the family involved. Every dollar we save compared to the previous year’s bill will be divided five ways (five family members). Hopefully the kids will be more serious about turning off lights and unplugging gadgets before they leave the home for school each day. For my part I have a couple ideas…

We already installed a new thermostat last year because our other one was ancient. We may actually go ahead and get a smart thermostat that will adjust when no one is home and that we can control from our phones. I am thinking about getting Honeywell’s smart thermostat. It has great reviews and it is much cheaper than the Nest.

We were ready to redo the insulation in our attic just a few weeks ago and go from batting insulation to spray foam. But then my husband realized that the batting was not going to budge without HUGE amounts of work so we are now thinking about having more insulation blown in instead. And if we have money leftover from not doing the spray foam we might add insulation to our garage doors.

We bought some oil filled radiators to heat specific areas such as upstairs bedrooms rather than turning up the furnace. I also saved money on them by using the Benefit app to buy gift certificates and get an automatic rebate and then using Giving Assistant to make the purchase which resulted in another rebate. Double dipping! Anyway, we are impressed so far with their ability to heat a room pretty quickly and then sustain that heat even after they are turned off. It was some obscure frugality newsletter from 20ish years ago that mentioned them and inspired to me to try.

I plan to buy some nice down comforters and duvet covers for each family member. It is a side goal to make my bed as luxurious and comfortable as that of a posh hotel. Why not ooh and ahh when you get in bed every night instead of doing so only when you go on a nice vacation??

I will be adding more thermal curtains to some bare windows. We have four windows that are still bare or have minimal (ie too thin) curtains. I am not sure if this will help because the house has all new windows and doors and they are super nice and high quality so there are no drafts. The fact that the previous homeowner had recently spent many thousands of dollars on new windows and doors is a clue we should have picked up on, LOL. If the new curtains don’t help with warmth at least they will look nice.

Other frugal wins for the week:

  • We are doing a small kitchen remodel with a budget of $1500. More than half that went to buying new kitchen counters. We opted to buy our counters from Menards while they were offering an 11% rebate so we will be getting almost $90 of that money right back. You have to use the rebate money at Menards but that means I will be be able to get all new drawer pulls and cabinet knobs for FREE! There might be some left over for paint brushes too.

How did you do?