Category Archive 'Tips for saving money'

Quick tip before the holiday splurge: check

Tips for saving money

I’m guessing that most readers will already know of this site, but for those who don’t, you might want to consider joining before you start shopping for those presents this year. The site offers cash back for a huge range of online stores. (Do it right, and you could “double dip” by getting cash back with a reward-based credit card as well as through Fatwallet).

The only catch is that you have to join up as a member (free) and visit the online store via their link before making your purchase. I’m not a big shopper, but I’ve used them in the past for Orbitz, Expedia, Zappos, and some online sports stores. Your account is credited within about 60-90 days depending on the merchant, and once you’ve accumulated over $10, you can request them to send you a check.

Fatwallet also just introduced something in October called Charity Bucks, where they give you 10% of your earned cash back out of their own pocket and allow you to donate it to one of their listed charities. (Of course, you can also opt to donate your cash back earnings to a charity.) They’re also looking for suggestions for charities to add since it’s a new program.

Finally, Fatwallet has a slew of useful forums, many of which readers here will already have heard about:

  1. Free stuff: I had a fun little post a while ago about all the freebies I received from reading this forum. It’s a frugal way to stave off shopping temptations, and many products (especially beauty-related) might make good stocking stuffers if you can get them in time.
  2. Finance: This is the home of the famed Treasury Bill thread, plus discussions on the best credit cards, CDs, and a myriad of other personal finance-related items. Just be sure to search for your question before posting there.
  3. Other forums: I don’t visit these as often, but some popular ones are hot deals, one-time use coupons, and travel deals. They can all prove very useful for the holiday shopper looking for a bargain (there’s even a thread on taking advantage of Black Friday deals), and the hot deals forum is a favorite haunts of tech geeks looking for ways to stack up deals and rebates to get “free after rebate” or even “paid” to purchase an item, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So, while it’s not really frugal to go on big shopping sprees, if you have to do it for the upcoming holidays, why not do it smartly? Get cash back, find great deals, possibly get some freebies, and maybe even donate to a worthy cause. It’s seldom I find a service that I can recommend, but Fatwallet is one of them (and no, I don’t receive any compensation or benefits from touting Fatwallet), so check ’em out.

Festival of Frugality #48 — with bonus cartoons!

Personal finance, Tips for saving money

Welcome to the 48th edition! This week’s submissions were particularly strong, so be sure to check out all the entries below. I made some “Editor’s picks” on posts that I particularly enjoyed and also took the liberty of adding in a few illustrations inspired by some of the posts. (I would have liked to have done more, but I’m headed out-of-town and will be gone for most of today.)

Saving while shopping

    The Common Room presents Bookswapping and Frugal Gifts. A fine review of bookswapping sites on the internet. Didn’t know about these! (Editor’s pick)

    VicPicks presents VicPicks: First Date Ideas on a Budget. Save money on that first date while still keepin’ it classy. (Editor’s pick)

    The Bargain Queen presents Sale, clearance or quit stock: which is best?. What’s the difference between a sale and a clearance?

    Blogging Away Debt presents Ways I Save Money – Browse Around the Internet for the Best Price. How one woman got that must-have toy through some online research.

    Not Made Of Money presents Not Made Of Money : 5 Christmas Gift Baskets You Can Put Together For An Inexpensive (but thoughtful) Gift. Nice ideas to encourage creativity and fun using a dollar store. (Editor’s pick)

    Money & Investing Dogberry Patch presents Buying Books on the Cheap. Another way to save money on books!

Saving on every day items

    Binary Dollar! presents 5 Ways To Save Money On Haircuts. He hasn’t paid for a haircut in years! Find out how he’s managed it.

    Debt Free presents Don’t Make This Shopping Mistake at the Grocery Store – It’ll Cost You. An exposé on grocery store pricing schemes.

    Frugal Duchess presents How I Get Cable Shows For Free. Yes, the legal way ;)

    Stop The Ride presents 200,000. Contrary to popular belief, driving old vehicles can be a way to save money.

    Scott On Money presents Saving Money With Vonage. Scott reviews his experiences with Vonage so far.

Saving while traveling

    Simple Dollar presents Saving Money on Road Trips. Oh, the myriad ways you can save on a road trip with just a little planning. (Editor’s pick)

    Queercents presents New York City on a Budget. Don’t plan your trip to NYC without a stop to read up on Paula’s suggestions!

    Makingourway presents money saver when travelling!! a cheaper way to rent cars. Don’t just look at renting from airport locations!

Making items last longer

    Enough Wealth presents Frugal living: Recycling Calendars and Diaries. This is taking frugality to an all new level!

    Free Money Finance presents Save on Gas by Losing Weight. Extra pounds aren’t just bad for your health.


    Tired but Happy presents Budget categories redux. Ever wondered what someone else’s budget categories look like? Here’s your chance!

    My Wealth Builder presents Saving Money for College. One man’s plans to save enough for his daughter’s college expenses. – Get Your Think On presents Adult Allowances. A description of one couple’s method toward getting spending under control. (Editor’s pick)

    Worldwide Success presents How much should you save? A wise recap of all the reasons to save, plus a nice example of how you might get from a 10% to 20% savings rate. (Editor’s pick)

Commentary presents Beyond the Latte Factor… Look at the Income side! A friendly reminder that the income side of the money equation is also important to consider.

    The Digerati Life presents Saving Money: Frequently Asked Questions. A comprehensive guide to the why, how, where, and when of saving money. (Editor’s pick)

That’s it, folks! Note that if you submitted something to the Festival that wasn’t included, it wasn’t related to frugality, wasn’t recently written, or didn’t have enough original content. Thank you to everyone who participated, and remember to check for future and past editions! Next week’s Festival will be hosted by a real expert, Dawn at Frugal For Life.

4 easy foods to make that you don’t need to buy prepackaged

Tips for saving money

“Americans must have been sadly alienated from the kitchen for pancake mixes to ever have gained a foothold in the market, for these are ridiculously easy to make.”

    -Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything

Have you ever noticed how everything we eat tends to come packaged these days? All that inedible extra stuff sure makes things look more appealing, but we end up paying more for it, too. Here are four common foods that are will cost you a lot less to make at home, will probably be healthier, and might even be easier, too!

Pancake mix: I used to be a sucker for gourmet pancake mixes but now know that pancakes are simple to make with ingredients I probably already have in my cupboard. Here’s a simple recipe from the cookbook above:

    Makes 4-6 servings

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 T baking powder
    1/2 t salt
    1 T sugar
    1 or 2 eggs (optional)
    1 1/2 to 2 C milk
    2 T melted and cooled butter (optional) or oil

Mix dry ingredients together, then add wet ingredients, just as you would with a pancake mix you bought at the store. I actually simplify this recipe a lot by not using eggs, and I add in some water as well (because hubby likes his pancakes on the thin side). You can use your imagination and add in other flavors like blueberries pretty easily too!

Popcorn: Instead of buying that microwaveable stuff, you can get a whole bag of popcorn kernels — even the gourmet kind — for $3 or less. Put in 1T of canola or other neutral oil for every 1/4 C of popping corn (that’s about 2-3 servings) in a deep pot with a lid and pop over medium heat. On a gas stove, this takes no more than 2 minutes to pop, or the same time as the microwave popcorn (not to mention it’s healthier). You can season with onion or garlic powder for flavor, salt, or even real butter, too.

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Subscribe to The Economist, Barron’s, Financial Times, WSJ using frequent flier miles

Personal finance, Tips for saving money

Never use up your frequent flier miles? Are they too annoying to redeem? You might be able to put them to good use by subscribing to some leading financial publications. Not all of these are available all the time so now might be a good time to subscribe, especially since annual subscriptions to many of these can easily cost over $100 a year. I’m not sure if gift subscriptions are an option, but if so, they might make nice purchases for Christmas gifts, too.

Here are some links:

    Northwest Airlines: Barron’s @ 1,700 miles; The Economist @ 3,200; Financial Times @ 2,000; WSJ @ 1,800.
    Delta Airlines: Same mileage costs as above.
    Continental Airlines: Same mileage costs as above.
    American Airlines: Barron’s @ 2,600; WSJ @ 2,700.

(Found via Fatwallet.)

Take Metamucil to lower cholesterol (health tip of the month)

Tips for saving money

I realize most of my readers are here for investment-related tools rather than health tips, but I’ve got a helpful one that I thought worth sharing.

I went to my doctor last week for my regular checkup and found my cholesterol level had risen to 223. Just to give you some background, I’m 5’3″ and about 110 lbs, I do exercise regularly and I tend to eat home-cooked meals, so this isn’t a case of needing a major lifestyle change. Actually, I think it’s largely genetic in my case. I sound like some sort of perfect candidate for those cholesterol-lowering medications you see on TV, right? The truth is, I’m pretty averse to taking medication if I can help it, what with all the potential side effects, especially if there are all-natural alternatives.

What’s my solution? Well…it’s, uh, Metamucil. Two years ago, my cholesterol level was at 243, and the nurse practictioner who was working for my primary care physician told me to lay off the refined starches (pasta, potatoes, rice) to lower my triglycerides (which were also high), and to take Metamucil for the cholesterol, which many of her patients had discovered was very effective.

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