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!

2
Oct

Frugal Friday – Yay for Rebates!

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayMy husband and I have recently started to see financial matters in a new light. I think it may be because we have never (until recently) in 17 years of marriage, made a budget. That never really put us in the red though so we saw no reason to change. But now with a new house and some other financial obligations we are starting to see that operating without a budget and a plan has meant lots of wasted money over the years. Lots of money we could have saved rather than pissing it away willy nilly.

At any rate, these days I am all about budgets, Dave Ramsey, Clark Howard, and giving every dollar an assignment.

Frugal wins for the week include:

  • Soap score. I meant to make some DIY foaming hand soap to refill my existing dispensers but then I noticed that most of them were broken and cracked from being reused and abused. So I bought six new soaps at Menards for .88 cents each and with mail in rebates they will end up being only .33 cents each.
  • We also needed lawn rakes since our new yard actually has trees. Bought two rakes at Menards for $4.99 each and after rebates they are .99 cents each. The leaves we rake up will be mulched and spread around our apple and pear trees for winter.
  • Took two surveys that paid in $5 Amazon gift cards. Used that money to buy a book on Straw Bale Gardening. We have borrowed it from the library a couple times because this is the method we plan to use next year. I figure we need a copy of our own. It’s awesome.

Frugal Fails:

  • Bought a cheapy $15 bluetooth headset for work after the headphone jack on my phone broke. Argh! I was not willing to go even one day without my podcasts so I bought cheap from Big Lots. It broke after one day and I lost the receipt. Double argh! Now $60 later I have the LG Tones I wanted in the first place.

What frugal strides have you made lately?

 

23
Feb

Health + Wellness Enhancing Things To Buy With Your Tax Refund

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

healthy tax refund ideas

Okay, it is that time of year. Tax time! You may be thinking (or agonizing) about how you have to do your taxes or maybe you already have them done. Either way, if you are expecting a refund from the government then you have already started dreaming about what you will do with it. Same here.

So…what to do with the moola? Well, big or small there are probably a few purchases that you can make that will be beneficial in the long run…helping you a new level of wellness. I understand the tendency to want to blow the money on a trampoline for the kids or a down payment on a newer (but really unneeded car). Part of our personal refund is in fact allotted to purely fun stuff. Hello, DisneyWorld! But now is also the time to make smart purchases that will pay all year long and even for years to come. Investing in your future is always good. Here are a few ideas:

Start Using Essential Oils – I am a HUGE fan of essential oils and have been for about 20 years. Last year I started using Young Living essential oils and fell in love all over again. I discovered quality that I never dreamed of and my family has been benefiting greatly. I use them every single day and I have not been sick in ages. Plus my three kids haven’t seen the inside of a doctor’s office in years. That is an amazing savings.

Save about $40-$150 of that tax money, sign up as a wholesale member (distributor) and get a starter kit. Plus as a wholesale member you get 24% off any future oil purchases and you can even make money when you help others get started with oils too. This small investment can have a big impact on your life in multiple ways.

Join a Herdshare or CSA – Health begins with healthy food but it can be hard to manage on a modest income. Use the extra cash from tax time to invest in healthy food for a big portion of the year. A CSA share requires a larger one time investment and then you get a bag/box of fresh fruits and veggies all throughout the growing season. A herdshare is a great way to buy grassfed or pastured meats in bulk and save money. Fill your freezer with a quarter cow and half pig and you will be set with healthy meats for a long time.

Grow Your Own Garden – Take charge and start growing your own healthy, organic foods. Look into raised beds, a rain barrel, a compost bin, garden tools, heirloom seeds, and even some fruit bushes and trees. Once you get the garden going you will benefit for years to come.

Alternatively you could also buy a plot at a community garden.

Take Cooking Classes – If healthy eating and cooking is a struggle for you then take some classes! Learn how to cook from scratch, bake your own bread, can and preserve food from the garden and farmer’s market, and generally be more self sufficient in the kitchen.

Join a Gym or Hire a Personal Trainer – With a little money in your pocket you might want to prepay for some CrossFit classes or sessions with a personal trainer. Investing in fitness is a win win.

Buy A Bike – Bicycle riding is great exercise and it is great or the planet. Get a good bike and promise to pedal more instead of using your car.

Invest in Healthy Sleep – A great green mattress is wonderful way to reduce toxins in your sleep environment and give you a health boost. If that is too much money then try a good wool mattress cover, some eco friendly pillows, and organic sheets.

We can always find clever ways to save money and invest in the things that matter, that make us healthier. To make your investments go even further you can get creative and find ways to save in other areas of the budget. Do without cable, cancel your Netflix, use coupons, and use online codes like the beautyBOUTIQUE offer code to save money on regular household purchases.

How will YOU use tax money to enhance your health?

Health Wellness Enhancing Things To Buy With Your Tax Refund

15
Aug

Back to School Shopping for all Seasons

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Back to School Shopping for all Seasons

It’s that time.  Time to go back to school and get all of the supplies you will need for the coming school year. It might be tempting to buy clothes for all weather scenarios that might arise during the school year. If you did that, though, it would probably be a mistake. You’ll just end up spending more money than you need to. In fact if you wait until the back to school season to do most or all of your school related shopping then you ARE spending too much money. I know, I know everyone is having back-to-school sales right? This is the best time for shopping according to store adverts and media but is it really?

If you have already finished your school shopping no worries, you can pick up a tip or two for next year. Try these tips to effectively buy back to school clothing.

How to Shop for Back to School Clothes

1. Think about what you NEED. Take an inventory of what still fits, what is stained/distressed, and what you actually need for each child. Then once you have that base information you can fill in gaps. Also only get one or two special outfits for the first day/week of school. Kids just don’t need a new outfit for each day of school.

2. Make a clothing buying calendar. Use the aforementioned inventory to figure out what is absolutely necessary for clothing and figure out the best times to buy. Sweaters and coats are best purchased after the season because they’ll be cheaper that way. You can split up your purchases to use them as gifts for birthdays and holidays. This way it will help fill out your gift giving and you’ll also save money by not buying everything all at once.

3. Utilize consignment shops for buying and even selling clothing that your children have outgrown. Consignment credits can go a long way towards buying newer clothing for your kids.

4. Remember, the kids are going to keep growing. Buying for the whole year could leave you with clothes never worn because your child had a growth spurt you were not anticipating.

5. Swap clothes. If you have friends with kids a little older and a little younger than your own, then work out a clothing swap with them. You can do this at the change of each season even, to keep rotating the clothes out of the house. The more families that participate the more choices you have. Have a clothing swap party.

6. Wait until after Labor Day to shop. Those back to school sales aren’t as great as they might seem. It’s great for school supplies, if you need to stock up on glue and crayons, but clothing, not so much. So wait until after Labor Day to get the savings.

7. Buy clothes that can be worn during many seasons…think layers. A nice polo shirt can be worn over a long sleeve shirt in the colder months. A summer dress or jean skirt paired with some leggings will get extra wears.

8. Check into online deals with places like Zulily. They have great gear at low prices, the catch is that you have to follow what they have available because it changes weekly. Not only can you get clothing for great prices you can even get them free if you refer others. Share deals via email or social media (like Facebook and Pinterest) and when other click through and purchase you get $15 in credit. I personally have found that it is actually pretty easy to rack up lots of money in credit and thus get lots of free clothing, shoes, sporting goods, kitchen items etc for the whole family.

9. Shop those clearance racks. Snatch up that out-of-season sweater in a size up from what your child is currently wearing to make sure you get extra wears out of it.

10. Don’t forget about the thrift shops. You can get some nice high end items very cheaply, to help fill in any wardrobe to make it through the entire year in style. If your kids wear uniforms or have a dress code such as polos and khakis then thrift stores can be a real jackpot for you. If the schools in your areas have strict dress codes then the donations at area thrift stores will be rich in this type of clothing all year long. Make sure to check them out frequently in December when families are donating more often to get last minute tax write-offs. Also make sure to shop half price days!

Back to school shopping is often a cause for anxiety. I recently heard that the average family spends $700 per child per year for back to school stuff. Yikes! That can really break the bank so a little planning can go a long way. If you plan things out and shop sales and shop the seasons instead of buying all at once, then you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and a lot of money.

Below is a picture of two of my cuties on their first day. I only spent $130 for the year on back to school stuff and most of that was supplies, for three kids. They are set for the entire school year but I will have an eye on the next school year very soon…

How do you save money on back to school purchases?

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