Abundant Frugal Life

Finding Deals, Spending Less, Being Content

Archive for the ‘FRUGALITY’ Category

Jan
06

Do You Haggle?

Posted by Lisa

When it came to buying my first new car, my father told me, “Everything is negotiable.”  How right he was – not only the price of the car, but the warranty as well.  Don’t worry.  I haven’t purchased a new car since.  I’m a firm believer in used vehicles and I certainly haggle like everyone else.

Haggling isn’t reserved for those buying cars and homes.  In fact, in today’s economy, haggling is on the rise.  You might want to consider trying it especially if you’re making a high dollar purchase.

Haggling Tips

  • Don’t be attached to what you are haggling for.  You must be prepared to walk away empty-handed.
  • Know when you can and can’t haggle.  Pick your battles.  Bargain at flea markets, large electronics shops, mom & pop stores, craft stores, jewelry stores, and any service related business.  Any purchases you are buying in bulk or buying multiples of should be haggled.  Haggling for groceries (unless you’re buying in serious bulk) will be a disappointment and will make you look cheap.  Some stores have strict policies against haggling.
  • Know whom to haggle with.  Store clerks usually don’t have the authority.  You’ll probably need to speak with the manager/owner.
  • Before you head out the door, do some research on pricing.  This will arm you with evidence that their rival can give you the product cheaper.
  • Set a price in your head and don’t budge.
  • Be polite and respectful.  Don’t evoke anger.  Don’t haggle too long or in front of onlooking or listening customers.
  • Point out imperfections of the product.
Nov
15

Prices Might Not Be Rising, But Product Is Shrinking

Posted by Lisa

As consumers are tightening a grip on the old pocketbook, manufacturers aren’t necessarily raising prices, but they’re skimping on coupons, and changing their packaging which is even more irritating to frugal shoppers like us. Have you noticed how the coupons have changed over the last six months? Even worse, though is this new marketing tactic.

Here is an example (Skippy peanut butter) of how items may still appear the same, but after a close inspection, you will see how we’re still paying the same price, but receiving less product. Doesn’t that just irritate you?

Starkist is another offender – downsized their 6oz. can to a 5oz. can.

Apple Jacks cereal has gone from an 11oz. box down to an 8.7 oz. box, but the box is actually the same size.

Tropicana OJ has gone from 96oz. to 89oz., and the bottle is still as tall as it was before.

Sparkle paper towels have a Big Roll (90 sheets) and a new Giant Roll (84 sheets). Since when is Big bigger than Giant?

Breyers ice cream still has the same package size, but instead of getting the old 1.75 quarts, we’re now getting 1.5 quarts.

Tubs of Country Crock still look the same, but they’ve gone from 3lbs. to 2lbs., 13oz.

Bars of Dial Soap for Men have gone from 4.5oz. to 4 oz.

Okay, if this doesn’t chap your hide (no pun intended) nothing will. Scott brand toilet paper is still 1000 sheets, but the sheet size has changed! That’s right. Instead of a sheet being 4 inches long, it is now 3.7 inches long.

And don’t even get me started on products which are getting watered down (like the larger size Act mouth wash, packages of cooked ham/pork, etc.). Who wants to pay for water?

Not all manufacturers are guilty, but the list of examples is far more extensive than what I’ve listed. Yes, it’s all legal and up to the shopper to realize. Yes, people will still pay for that which they want, but I’ve got to tell you…it’s irritating!

Sites like mouseprint.org help us remain savvy, frugal shoppers.

That’s enough of my Saturday morning, non-PMSing rant. You may join in with a comment if you’d like.

Oct
26

Another Recipe

Posted by Lisa

I just added a quick & easy recipe to my Household Recipes page for a gallon of disinfectant that will cost you less than 5 cents to make.  It only has 2 ingredients!

Oct
24

Free or Nearly Free Prescription Drugs

Posted by Lisa

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance brings together America’s pharmaceutical companies, doctors, other health care providers, patient advocacy organizations and community groups to help qualifying patients who lack prescription coverage get the medicines they need through the public or private program that’s right for them. Many will get them free or nearly free. There is NO COST INVOLVED! Here is their site.

For more Works For Me Wednesday tips go to Rocks in My Dryer.  Feel free to stay and look around my site.

Oct
22

Check Out My New Page!

Posted by Lisa

Well, this is the longest break I’ve taken from my blog. I needed it though. I’ve been homeschooling, teaching piano, teaching a speech & debate club, getting involved in an international student ministry, driving kids and living life. I will resume posting, but only as time allows. I have a very full plate.

I have been tired of half my grocery bill going to laundry detergent and toilet paper. I’ve been looking for acceptable alternatives for items that needlessly suck money out of my wallet. I have a lot of recipes to share with you, but will only do so after I try them, tweak them and accept them. I refuse to use recipes that are not up to my standards. I currently have 4 recipes on my Houshold Recipes page. If you’re interested, please take a look.

I’ll let you know when I come up with a toilet paper alternative.  No, the Sears catalog, leaves and expired coupons aren’t acceptable.  :)

Sep
05

Are You Content With Your Level of Frugality?

Posted by Lisa

Here is a great article to help you find your level of happiness/contentment with frugality.  I’ve talked about frugal burnout before.  These two articles go hand-in-hand.  I hope you enjoy the read.

Jun
20

Making a Price Book

Posted by Lisa

I know grocery prices are increasing so quickly that it seems a price book would be outdated in a few short weeks. However, if there has ever been a time to make and keep one, this is it.

If you’re one of those people who can keep the prices in your head, hats off to you. I could never do that. Seemingly everything in my life needs to be written down or it gets forgotten. I’m 44 years old and have never been able to keep prices in my head. I have a handful, but apparently that’s my capacity.

I keep a price book arranged in the same manner as my coupon book. The dividers are the same, and I keep 5 columns across the top of the page which read:

Item Description      Walmart      Target      Kroger      Tom Thumb

Rice Dream milk             2.88                                    3.88            3.96
1 qt.

Kraft mac & cheese         .33                  .44               .50               .52
small box

And the list goes on. I keep plenty of space for each price because I also break it down to PPU (price per unit). More helpful if you have one product in several different sizes. When I first made my price book I spent a day at all of the stores and didn’t do any shopping. I just walked around with my book, writing down the prices of everything we normally purchased.

I made my first price book shortly after we were married. We’ve been married 15 years now. I wish I had my original just to see how prices have changed.

Yes, it’s time consuming like everything else, but it just may be worth keeping to see if sale prices are truly good prices. Some people think that with GroceryGame, one of my favorite things, you really don’t need to keep a price book. However, even I, have found better deals (same item, same week) at another store on more than one occasion. I’ve also found stockpile worthy items that GG never mentioned. No slam on GroceryGame here. I absolutely love it and encourage everyone to play the game. GG does the work for me. However, GG isn’t perfect.

Consider how you would organize your own price book and when you would have time to make your first. Upkeep is much easier once it’s established. I usually update by looking at receipts.

Jun
13

Items I Get, But Don’t Pay For Anymore

Posted by Lisa

Though the deals haven’t been so sweet this week, I look at the long standing record and realize how much I’m saving my family. I consistently pay nothing for the following items (and many times actually make money for taking it off the store shelf). Having shopped like this, it truly bothers me to see someone at check out actually paying for these items.

Shampoo
Conditioner
Deodorant
Body wash
Liquid hand soap
Bandaids
Toothbrushes
Toothpaste
Mouthwash
Gum (I’m a piano teacher-we chew it all the time)
Excedrin (of one sort or another)

Lotion and some other items would also be on that list if I wasn’t so stinkin’ picky.

Not to mention all the items I pay pennies on the dollar for (pasta, cereal, toilet paper, paper towels,etc.). It also makes me wonder why, when I teach women how to shop like this, they don’t always jump all over it and take advantage of the incredible savings.

Okay ladies, help me out. What have I left off my list?

Jun
05

Saving Money in the Kitchen – Summertime

Posted by Lisa

1. Grill out and do more microwave cooking – Don’t heat up the kitchen with the stove/oven.

2. Make your own popsicles – Such a variety of fruits & juices to use and it’s so much cheaper than store bought. Kids love to assist you in making these little treats. Much easier than baking cookies and less of a mess to clean up.

3. Keep your freezer and refrigerator stocked – The more food you have in there, the longer your unit will go without turning on to cool.

4. Open your dishwasher before the heat dry setting comes on – Keeps your kitchen from heating up even more. Just let your dishes air dry.

5. Ice, Ice, Baby – Did I just date myself? Use ice in your drinks to help keep cool. It’s a no-brainer for someone like me who is repulsed by room temperature drinks, but I know plenty of people who keep their drinking water on the counter (we do in cooler weather). Place it in the fridge if you have the room (see #3).

Jun
04

How Do I Save Money? Let Me Count the Ways.

Posted by Lisa

WHAT I DO:

1. GroceryGame.com Yes, I play the game and love it. It required some time to learn and do, but it is always worth the money I save. After you play it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll be hooked – especially when you see how much you’ve saved! You can try it for $1. However I always tell people to clip coupons for about a month before you start GroceryGame. You can still play & win, but not as much fun without a coupon stash.

2. CVS shopping Need I say more? If you’re unfamiliar with it, read my page on how to shop there. You just can’t beat the freebies!

3.Garage sales (have and go) I’ll buy almost anything used, with few exceptions (let me lump Craig’s list, Half Price Books and the like in this category). I love getting up early to slam down breakfast and run out the door. I don’t have many opportunities to go because we have 3 kids in activities, but I love finding those little treasures when I have the time. Also, I am not a pack rat. I love to get unused items out of the house as soon as possible. The cash in hand after a garage sale is a sweet reward.

4. Light green living CFL light bulbs, turning off the lights, shorter showers, recycling, reusing items, finding new uses for old items (in-home recycling), etc. are important to our frugality and to our stewardship of natural resources.

5. Freecycle.org Have you joined yet? Our local loop is very active. This is a loop you can join to get used items for free. You may also get rid of things you don’t want anymore. Something wonderful to take advantage of. Keeps items out of our landfills.

6. Freebies in the mail I sign-up for everything I can. Samples in the mail may be small, but they’re still free. I never snub a free deal.

7. Cut luxury items What luxury is to me, may not be luxury to you. I don’t have a maid and my husband doesn’t pay for lawn care. We are able-bodied and have 3 children. However, we do eat out every Sunday after church (at Dickey’s where kids eat free). I don’t take magazines unless they are free subscriptions (of which I get plenty). We don’t take cable, but we’re fortunate to be in an area where it’s not a necessity in order to watch television. Little things like that can really add up.

WHAT I NEED TO DO:

1. Garden I currently don’t have the know-how and the time that would be required of me. I suppose I would make time if I wanted to do this, but quite honestly the thought doesn’t appeal to me. I have actually researched square foot gardening, but have implemented nothing (part of my “light green” living status). Any encouragement in this area would be appreciated. I truly know nothing about gardening – soil, mixtures, what’s good in my zone, bugs, plant diseases, etc. The task seems too large to conquer.

2. Walgreens I have a great aversion to deal-doing at Walgreens. I’ve heard so much chatter about people not being able to use their Register Rewards (like ECB’s at CVS) and not receiving their rebates. I can’t imagine the frustration. Rebates are time consuming to begin with, but to not be able to collect – ugh. It’s all been chatter though. I’ve never tried. I go to Walgreens if there is a straight deal (no RR’s/rebates involved). Few and far between though.

Jun
04

Freecycle.org

Posted by Lisa

Have y’all joined your local Freecycle group? It’s a yahoo loop I’m new to, but loving! The loop for my area is incredibly active and things are taken within one minute of posting. Unbelievable. I probably get about 75 emails a day from it, but it sure is fun to sniff around all those freebie deals.

Jun
01

I Don’t Coupon Shop Because I Eat Healthy

Posted by Lisa

I hear that statement all the time. I believe it is still worth it to clip coupons and use them. I’m sitting here flipping through my coupon binder and let me tell you all that’s in there for you health nuts.

Diapers, pull-ups, wipes, olive oil, sugar (I know you still keep some on hand), batteries, make-up, coffee, natural juice, tea, whole grain breads, canned fruits & veggies, frozen veggies, household cleansers, condiments, yogurt, eggs, milk, dish soap & detergent, food storage containers, baggies, trash bags, vitamins, internal cleansing system, deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, mousse, hair color, feminine hygiene, shavers, bandaids, sunscreen, laundry detergent, lotion, over the counter meds, peanut butter & jelly (don’t even try to tell me you don’t keep/use these), toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, paper plates, produce (salad, tomatoes), dried fruit, whole grain pasta, brown rice, spices, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, dog food, cat food

Not every coupon is just for brownies, pre-processed foods, candy, hot dogs and bacon. However, since I understand that getting Hamburger Helper and fish sticks for free doesn’t work for you, check out Organic Grocery Deals for specials on items you might use.

May
28

Frugal Gift Giving

Posted by Lisa

Frugal gifts don’t always need to come from garage sales, the local dollar store and Walmart. They come from the heart.A dear friend of mine told me her best wedding present was one her sister-in-law gave her. It was an outdated calendar, but in it was written every family member’s birthday, anniversary, and special moments days. She was so thankful for the present and many, many years later still uses it. What a perfect gift to give a new sister-in-law!

I also remember a friend in college who was from New Jersey, but was going to school in Texas. He had to have some sort of operation on his jaw while at school. Several of his NJ friends got together and sent him a care package. They sent him pictures, letters, baby food and beautiful autumn leaves as packing material (no autumn in Texas). It’s been over 25 years, but I still remember how much my friend was touched by such a creative, funny, simple (and frugal) gift.

As a going away present for a friend, I made her a book by cutting out pictures from magazines and writing silly captions which told the story of our friendship and how much I appreciated her. It took a lot of time, a lot of heart, but no money. It was fun and it turned out to be such a hit I wish I had made a copy for myself.

I’m still hanging in there with drawing and would one day love to do portraits as gifts. I don’t consider myself anywhere near ready yet.

I love creative, thoughtful, funny homemade gifts like those. I run out of ideas quickly and would appreciate any and all help with fresh new gift ideas. I can’t bring myself to do coupon gifts or any recipe in a jar gifts. Yuck. I’m too old to give those cheap, outdated (not to mention the fact they’re not thoughtful or creative) gifts. Got any ideas to share?

May
25

The Frugal Burnout

Posted by Lisa

Even if you’re not new to the frugal mindset, you can still get caught up in catching all the deals, the rush of getting an amazing deal, and the thrill of watching your stockpile grow (not in a hoarding way mind you).

So you clip coupons, organize them, make your lists, and head out the door, seemingly every day, to find and take advantage of all those wonderful deals.

You eventually start to realize you’re making deal catching way too high of a priority, yet when you cut back you get bummed that you’re not catching all the deals you see posted by all those zealous bloggers. You end up chalking up frugality to an all or nothing activity (not a mindset), and you pitch it for the sake of more time with your family and other, more noble, interests. After all, it’s not worth penny pinching just to get a few freebies every week! You then figure you’re spending too much time and money just to save a few bucks.

Take a deep breath and relax. Step back and take another look. You may just need to assess a little. If you have 10 children all under the age of 4, God bless you! Quit washing out the baggies – throw them away! Invest in Rubbermaid and leave it at that. Just because you’re only saving $15/week doing GroceryGame, and not cutting your grocery bill in half, you’re still saving and doing better than before, right? How much time and effort you spend on being frugal is completely up to you. You don’t need to stress about catching all the awesome deals out there. After all, NOT spending money is the most frugal you can be.

Frugality is a mindset, not an activity. It’s fine if you save $15 this week on groceries and splurge $4 on a cup of Starbucks on the way home. You’re still saving.

Frugality is wise management of your resources. Not only is money a resource, but consider your time, your energy and your sanity resources as well. Adjust to your fun and comfort levels. There are days I just love doin’ the deals! There are days I hate leaving the house to shop and I shut frugality down. I certainly can’t and don’t even try to do every deal I post – not even half! GroceryGame, CVS shopping, coupon clipping are always there for you. Frugality is meant to free you up, not to enslave you. The deals will always be there to work for you. Now you can breathe.

May
24

Stockpile Garage Sale Results

Posted by Lisa

I just finished my first stockpile garage sale. I made $241.00 – woo hoo! I sold all those freebie CVS items I’ve stocked since February for the following prices and they sold like hot cakes. I held my ground, didn’t go down on price for anyone and they flew off the table!

$1 – Toothpastes, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, liquid hand soap, Johnson’s Buddy bath bars, unopened make-up

50c – Revlon emery board packs

Not only were those items freebies, sometimes I was paid to take them off the shelves (if I used coupons). Not only a great deal for me, but a great deal for those who came to the garage sale.

Not to mislead you – I made over $100 on the freebies. We had other junk I got to get rid of as well. Let’s hear it for decluttering!

It’s over and we’re ordering pizza for dinner. I may be frugal, but I’m no fool. Going to bed early tonight!