12
Feb

Frugal Friday – Always Check Your Bills

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayHappy frugal friday all!

My frugal wins for the week include:

  • I guess this same item is a fail and a win. For the first time in seven months I actually LOOKED at my Internet bill. I was being charged for equipment insurance and a monthly magazine outlining their cable offerings. Called and got those removed, saving $9.00 a month. The fail part is because it took me too long to catch that!
  • Scored a brand new, with tags pair of $60 shoes at the thrift store. Paid only $15 and now I can stop wearing shoes with multiple holes in them. Also got two pairs of designer jeans for $5.99 each.
  • Purchased a Harry Potter/Universal Studios vacation package and got a great deal including three day park hopper passes for the price of two. Yeah for a real (and pre-paid) vacation!
  • Scored a glass top oven and a frig in like new condition from a homeowner who decided they wanted stainless after a kitchen renovation. Got both for $150 and I am positive we can sell our old ones for at least that much.
  • Free stuff galore: Took a 10 minute survey and got a $50 Amazon gift card. Also got two free tablets, a free restaurant.com gift certificate, and a free night at a hotel. Woot!

Frugal Fails:

  • Last month we $200 over budget on food. Ridiculous! Too much eating out.
  • Also last month we received a huge electric bill. We need to have our furnace inspected and I switched to another provider. Hoping we can reduce these winter bills!

How did you do this week?

26
Jan

Cutting Cable From the Budget, Easier Than You Think!

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Cut Cable tipsWhenever you read articles or blog posts about budgeting and saving money there is always, always a tip to disconnect your cable and save $80-100+ a month. While I cannot dispute that this is a great tip and great way to save money, I was always firmly in the heck no camp. I don’t watch a huge amount of TV but I do have some shows I like to watch…Property Brothers, Outlander, Grimm, Supernatural, etc. Some of those I could watch on my computer but honestly I don’t enjoy watching that way. Therefore getting rid of cable was not going to happen.

A funny thing happened when we moved last year though. We were basically forced to get rid of cable because our preferred provider (and the one we got for a very discounted rate) was not available in our new neighborhood. We had to decide if paying full price with a new provider was worth it and for me, it wasn’t. Well, I was willing to go without for a couple months and see how we managed. It has been over six months now and we have managed just fine. In fact, I cannot even believe I waited this long to make the leap. I wasted some serious money on cable for YEARS!

Cable TV Alternatives

In general cable service costs about $80-$100 per month. For much less you can subscribe to streaming services and/or buy a couple devices and still manage to watch most or all of your favorite shows.

Streaming Services or Software:

We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Kodi. Netflix is kid friendly and my son loves it. It has a collection of TV shows and movies. The movies and shows are all older (already aired) with the exception of their original shows, which are pretty good if you ask me.

Amazon Prime has a collection VERY similar to Netflix so it may seem redundant to have both but I use their two day shipping often and I also use Prime Music. Amazon prime also offers subscriptions to Starz and Showtime for $7.99 a month I think. This is a great way to get premium cable channels without having to pay for the basic channels. This feature will allow me to watch my fave show, Outlander, without paying for cable and I only need to subscribe while the show is in season.

Hulu is a streaming service that allows you to watch current shows from several major networks. You can usually watch your favorite TV shows within a day or two of them airing.

Kodi is free software that you can install on a laptop computer or even a Firestick (though it must be jailbroken first). With this software you can stream just about anything….from TV shows that just aired (including cable ones) to movies that are still in theatres. I don’t say this to enter into a debate about ethical streaming I am just pointing out that Kodi provides it all. With Kodi I can watch just about every single TV show I want and any movie I want, new or old. To watch it on an actual TV and not a computer you just plug the laptop into your TV (HDMI). The Firestick attaches in the same way.

Streaming Devices:

You will need a device to use streaming services, unless you have a smart TV.

We have all of the above. Rokus are the most user friendly way to stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. You just plug a Roku in using an RCA connection (like you would a DVD player). You can also get one with an HDMI connection. Streaming can be set up in minutes as long as you already have the accounts with the streaming services, like Netflix.

Gaming consoles can also stream the popular subscription channels but you may need to pay a membership fee to the game manufacturer…xBox for instance requires an xBox Live membership and PS4 requires Playstation Plus which average $55-$60 a year.

Our monthly for streaming services is only $22. If you add in game console memberships (x3) that brings it to $33 a month. $33 a month and the whole family can watch whatever we want to watch…from local channels to cable shows to movies. That is about $800 a year in savings.

Are you willing to try it?

6
Nov

Frugal Friday

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayHappy frugal friday all!

My frugal wins for the week include:

  • Paid off a credit card. We got a Lowes card about four months ago to purchase a riding mower. We got a nice chunk of money off the mower and had six months to pay it back interest free so we jumped on it. Paid it off in four months.
  • Made a big pot of ham and beans on the weekend and had enough for lunches for most of the following week.
  • Went out of town and prepped meals for the husband to make while I was gone so he and the kids wouldn’t be tempted to eat out every night. It mostly worked. :)
  • Got a free ticket to Disney (any of the parks) but could not fathom using it for only 2-3 hours, since that is how much free time I had between other events on my trip. Decided to save that baby until spring.

Frugal Fails:

  • Did not bring sunscreen or a hat with me to Orlando. Since I knew I would be spending several hours on boat I ended up buying a straw hat in the gift shop at Disney’s Yacht Club resort. Spent $32 on a hat. Ouch! And I still got burnt. Double ouch.

All in all a very good week! What frugal wins or fails do you have to report?

Friday, November 6th, 2015

No Comments on Frugal Friday

23
Oct

Frugal Friday – Thrift Stores

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Happy frugal friday all!

My frugal wins for the week include:

  • Finding compost buckets at the thrift store. I paid $1.91 each and now we can stop using our mixing bowls. Yay!

compost buckets

  • I found the clothing for my daughter’s Halloween costume at the thrift store for $4.00, then I just had to buy a small bit of makeup and some masking tape. Fairly easy and very cheap costume. She is going as a creepy marionette, if you wanted to know.
  • Picked up like-new winter boots for my youngest son at the same thrift store for $3.00
  • Bought an Aldi meal plan and made/froze 20 meals for about $160. This is a huge time saver too.

Frugal Fails:

  • Poor planning resulted an evening of eating out with the kiddos one night this week. This in itself is not so bad except that the eating out budget was being reserved for the weekend, when hubby would be around to enjoy with us. Funny thing though…the very next day a gift card to a restaurant showed up in my mailbox. It was a generous gift from a company I recently blogged about.

Have a great weekend all!

19
Oct

Paying For Purchases With Your Phone & CurrentC

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

currentc_og

I love the idea of paying for your purchases with nothing but a phone. I do so many other things with my phone…ie appointments, investments, banking, bill paying, etc. It only makes sense that I would be down with using an app to pay for the stuff I buy, like groceries. Of course until this week I thought most good options were limited to those who have an iPhone. I am a die hard Android girl and a Samsung Galaxy fan. I was look forward to a reputable app I could use. I like the idea of not having to bring my wallet with me everywhere but I never leave home without my phone.

I was thrilled to find out a few weeks ago that CurrentC is in beta for use in Columbus, OH. That is where I live! CurrentC is an easy-to-use mobile app that saves you time and money by centralizing your loyalty cards and payment accounts, and automatically applying coupons, promotions and loyalty rewards at checkout. It can be used at the cash register, restaurant table, drive-thru or fuel pump.

Ready to give it a try, I installed the app.  First I added my checking account as a payment method. I then added my Giant Eagle loyalty card because that is one of the participating stores I go to regularly. I can also enter gift cards as a method of payment at many participating stores. If adding a checking account bothers you, you can go that route instead.

Once I was set up I went to Giant Eagle to take it for a test run. I needed to buy some food for packed lunches, Halloween candy to pass out, and some other various things. They had a few good sales. Even though it is not my main store (Aldi is my fave!) I still go here when Aldi does not have what I want or need because we use the fuel perks to get free gas. This is also the closest store to my home.

Giant Eagle Columbus Ohio

When I was finished shopping I went through a self checkout lane because that is pretty much the only checkout lane I use. I scanned all my groceries and then when it was time to checkout and select my method of payment I selected CurrentC. I then opened the app on my phone and did the following:

Entered my secret code to “unlock” the app
Selected Checkout at the bottom of the screen
Selected “Shop” (Other options are Dine and Pump)
Scanned the QR code on the Giant Eagle touchscreen

The method of payment is displayed just above the window where you scan the QR code, so you can verify that this is the right payment source before scanning. For me it said this purchase would be pulled from my checking account. After scanning, the checkout computer spent a few seconds thinking and I was notified simultaneously on the checkout screen and on my phone that my transaction had gone through. Easy peasy!

It is important to note that there is a code to unlock the app that must be entered before you can use it. If someone steals my phone they won’t be shopping with it. And if you are still worried, you can call their customer care and they can lock the app completely.

Giant Eagle Receipt

As you can see from my receipt, CurrentC is the method of payment. Since most people would use it to draw directly from checking or savings accounts, this app potentially saves the retailer lots in card processing fees. They have to pay fees every time you use your debit card or credit card. So apps like these are kinda win-win. I get the convenience of paying with my phone and participating stores get to save money.

Also be aware that seeing you break out a phone while at a self checkout lane can make some people go berserk. Because before you pay for all the groceries you just scanned OF COURSE you are going to text, surf the Internet, or take a selfie right? Yeah, I had a really rude lady behind me demand to know what I was doing and how long it was going to take. Just try to smile and say “I am paying for my groceries with my phone. You ought to try it!”

Enjoy!