TurboTax reminded me again that my refund was really an "interest-free loan to the government." So I changed my withholding to reflect my giving, marital status, and dependents better than I had. As long as you have most of what you should be paying in taxes throughout the year (check the tax codes for an exact definition of "most of what you should be paying") then you can have more of your money at your disposal for saving, earning interest, spending, whatever.
I recently got some composition books at a grocery store. They were a good price -- 59 cents apiece.
When I got them to checkout, the price was $1.39! I had someone go back to check the price. I got the items for 59 cents each, PLUS got one free because I caught their mistake!
It's good to try to keep a mental note of about hom much things cost as you go through the checkout. It can pay off!
Finally got my dryer working. Total cost of parts was $55 (got a 10% off coupon from the phone book!) and about 12 hours of feeling my way around the innards of the dryer with a bunch of pieced-together tool sets, a multimeter, and a how-to-fix-your-appliances book. Beats $230 for a new one any day, and it kept me out of trouble for a few days and I learned a lot about my dryer in the process.
Thankfully the weather was warm enough here that we could line-dry for part of the time that the dryer was down!
Our clothes dryer is getting pretty old. It was the original one that came with the house, so it's about 15 years old. I need to replace a set of drum glides and a thermal fuse, which probably would run me about $70. Now, a brand new one from Lowe's would cost me $230. I might break down and get the new one after this repair, but the flip side is that I might get another few years out of it if the fixes work.
I was able to get away with my wife to our favorite German restaurant -- Zum Rheingarten -- to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. We had a free dessert coupon that we received last year when we went for our second anniversary. We remembered why we had the free dessert card on the way out. We got it because we mentioned to the server that it was our anniversary! Doh! Oh well....
Maybe I've just been Captain Clueless but I just noticed tonight that EBay had a new section called "Want It Now." Prospective buyers place their wants here, and sellers can respond with their auctions. I found someone who wanted one of my magazines that I had tried to sell before. Since I got the magazine for free, I could beat all of the other offers that had responded to the Want It Now ad!
Found five 12-packs of Waist Watcher ginger ale for $1.49 each. (We like this brand because it's sweetened with Splenda rather than aspartame.) Also got 19 Wolfgang Puck Chicken Tortilla soups for 99 cents. (I haven't been buying him out like I had because he bumped the price up on me, but I make an exception for Chichen Tortilla!) These cans weren't even dented!
I've started keeping track of the loose change I've found on the ground. Since the beginning of the year I've found almost a dollar. Granted, it's a penny and a dime at a time and it's not going to pay my daughter's tuition, but it pays for a cup of coffee once in a while! I found out a while back that one guy from the church, who's a real estate investor, does this too.
We get Angel Soft bathroom tissue. No other brand will do for my better half.
Normally I try to find the double rolls (only need to change them half as often), and the best price of late was $4.99 for 12 rolls on sale.
Wal-Mart was selling 24 single rolls for $4.03. Score!!
My wife balked when I loaded up the cart with six packages, which is a gross.
"Does the stuff go bad?" No.
"Are we going to quit using it?" No again.
We managed even to find a place to store them!
We went to the Salvation Army thrift store on December 30th. Turned out to be a great time to buy stuff, because everyone was trying to beat the buzzer for their 2004 tax deduction. People were bringing in stuff by the truckload!
We got a high chair, a baby swing, and a baby bouncy chair for $12 each. A 6' folding table for $5. A good paper shredder for $3. And a laser printer (with an extra toner cartridge) for $10. We practically stole this stuff.
I recently signed up one service organization I work with (Dahlgren Lions Club) into the Food Lion Shop and Share program. Basically the charity gets a portion of the grocery sales for everyone who links their shopping card to that charity.
It's an easy way to donate to your favorite charity. Other grocery stores may have similar programs!
My wife was very kind to let me get these. She's very conscious about the "bargains" I go after
Someone had donated a decent collection of CDs to the Salvation Army. ("Decent" to me means 70s and 80s rock; your tastes may differ.) This thrift store is reasonably priced; they were selling the CDs for $2 apiece -- just a tad too much to grab them all.
So I asked the cashier if I could make an offer on all of them. We got all 107 of them (plus or minus) for $1 apiece. There were some duplicates, but we can re-gift those or re-sell them (CDs go for $2 usually at flea markets around here.) We got the CDs for the cost of one song on iTunes!
These guys would bargain. Some other ones in the area are firmer on their prices. Doesn't hurt to ask, though!
I'm going through and testing a bunch of Commodore computers that were part of my childhood. Many of them still work, but some don't. Some I probably fried testing them.
Even broken Commodore computers sell on eBay, though, since they can be cannibalized for parts.
This is a great time for sellers since the holidays are just around the corner. Good time to de-junk!
Yep, we'll be dealing with those in less than two months, God willing
Good cloth baby diapers, we find out, cost less than a fifth of disposables overall. She found an article at www.cutofcloth.com that spells all of the math out. I can deal with an extra $2,000+.
We got a starter set of cloth diapers to try them out. Supposedly the ones that you can buy in places like Wal-Mart leak really badly.
With this little bundle of joy on the way I'm sure there will be lots of extra money-saving tips that we come up with.
But start small.
The things I've tried so far:
1) Re-selling magazines on eBay
2) Placing a few candy machines in businesses
3) Investing in stocks
4) Buying a large-format printer with a friend to sell large prints
5) Online ventures (traffic generation sites)
6) Loaning a friend money for a real-estate flipper
I haven't made a lot of money at any of these at the moment, but I've never put in more than I could afford to lose, and I haven't quit my day job (yet). It's a lot easier to try new things if you budget for them and know that you won't depend on the success of the venture to eat and clothe yourself. If it ends up doing that, great; otherwise, you can always learn from the experience.
Found a clearance cart at Wal-Mart that had a few of these. 1000 for $1.50....we won't need any more for a couple of years now. If you have the room, stocking up on non-perishable items is good to do if the price is great. Found spiral notebooks 6 for $1 as well a few months back.
Vanessa asked me today "What do you want for Christmas?"
Yes, it's a bit early, but she's hoping to beat the rush because she's expecting in mid-January, and doesn't want to waddle much around the mall looking for gifts.
"I don't know," I responded.
I'm just not a big gift person, I guess. I also don't view the holidays as a big excuse to spend a lot of money on things we don't really need.
But, I wouldn't mind spending money for things I know that I could use or need, or things that my daughter will definitely need in just a month or so after Christmas.
That's making the Christmas gifts "count."
Some people toss their magazines after they read them, or recycle them. I resell back issues of magazines on eBay to people who collect them or are interested in them.
I also have never paid for a box to ship the magazines in. Used boxes that are of an appropriate size work great. Ones that are too big work to make shipping envelopes rigid to protect the magazines during shipping. Also, I use plastic grocery bags to make the packaging more water-resistant.
And a lot of my customers are happy with how carefully I pack their items! What's more, I give some materials one more use before they're recycled.
It's hard to track everything.
We started at the beginning of this month. I was good for a few days in organizing our receipts and such. Then I fell lazy. Yesterday I watched Vanessa sort all of the receipts from the last couple of weeks. They were just piling up.
In any case, it can be a good learning experience to track what you spend. It's probably more in some areas (like trips to the coffee shop) than you imagine.
If you run into the same problem that we did, just spot-check a few areas each week or month.
Estate auctions are great. Often you can go to the auction and find something that you want or need. When the bidding comes around, you can usually get the item you want (sometime plus a lot of other stuff) for well under the cost of the item new.
Case in point: We have wanted a port-a-potty. (Sorry for the potty humor here.) New at Wal-Mart: up to $65 for a flushable model. We found one (clean) at the auction. Our final bid was $25, and we got twelve other boxes of stuff along with the port-a-potty. We may be able to sell off the other stuff that we don't want to further reduce the price of the port-a-potty.
Vanessa took one of our dogs for his shots during the "wellness clinic" that our vet provides. It's given every week. Going in during the clinic saves us the vet's office fee, and we only pay for the shots. At $28 a pop this adds up. The main drawbacks are the limited hours and the possibility of a longer wait, since appointments take precedence. But Vanessa got in without a wait this time.
I went home for my sister's wedding this weekend, and it reminded me of something that my mom used to do for me when I came home from college.
She used to put change (coins) from her groceries/shopping into a piggy bank. When I came home from college every few months, she'd let me empty the pig. It was good for a few pizzas when I went back, and I knew that my mom was thinking of me when I was up at college.
Sappy, but true
Couple of things here.
Stopped by Big Lots, and Vanessa goes to Hancock Fabrics down a few stores. She's gotten to know that when I call while I'm shopping, it's usually because I've found something that I think is a really good deal and I want to check with her. First words out of her mouth were "What did you find?"
Found Honey Nut Crunch cereal for 60 cents a box. I thought that the cereal for 99 cents a box was good! I bought 6.
It had expired two days before. Opened it up and it still was crunchy. I'll manage to get through it before it goes bad. Even if two boxes go a little stale, we still can make some kind of crispy cereal treat out of them, so we're good to go.
...I paid for most of it with change I found on the ground. I found 67 cents yesterday just lying around...soda machine change returns, checkout aisles, on the counter (no it wasn't a tip). It's amazing that people would pay so little attention to their money that they would leave it in the change return.
By the way, if you like spicy snacks, the new hot cheetos are really good!
My wife is the one who typically does the regular shopping.
I tend to shop opportunistically, usually in the evening after work.
Cereal goes on sale for 99 cents a box. I grab six.
Star-Kist Tuna goes on sale for 22 cents a can. I buy a gross.
Cereal bars are in the clearance section of Big Lots--$1 for a box of 8. I grab two dozen boxes.
Ramen is 12/$1. I'm there with a shopping cart.
This is basically "stock up when things are cheap" but I think it's more like a treasure hunt than shopping.
1) Slice 4 bagels and put on top:
2) Spaghetti Sauce (Emeril's Roasted Gaaahlic bought for $1.49 at discount grocery store!)
3) Mozzarella from a big bag that we bought from Costco, froze, and have used for about 6 months
4) Home-grown banana peppers and cherry peppers
They were gone in about 4 minutes.
I work as a civilian at a naval base. I recently heard that they're closing the mess hall to civilians. (For reasons I'll probably never figure out.) This had been a great, cheap place to eat for me and my colleagues.
But, on the bright side I suppose, I'll be packing my lunch more, which is certainly going to be cheaper than the $3.30 I was paying for lunch at the mess hall.
Stopped by at Food Lion tonight for some shopping. Most of the frozen foods aisle was severely depleted, probably because FL took a big hit last year because hurricane Isabel knocked out power for almost a week. With Jeanne possibly on the way up here, I can see why they're paring down a little.
Anyway, if your grocery store offers a discount card (like the Food Lion MVP card), by all means sign up for it. I spent about a third less tonight because of the discounts. I bought stuff that I knew was a good price (boxes of cereal for 99 cents, or pasta 3 lbs/$1.00).
Also, I found out recently that FL will donate to charities of your choice when you use your MVP card. Easy money to your favorite cause!
Got a $25 restaurant gift certificate from MyPoints today. Just for reading e-mails and taking trial subscriptions for some magazines that I ended up re-selling on eBay
The certificate arrived a lot faster than promised (they said 4-6 weeks and it was here in less than 2).
All of the e-mails that you receive from them are worth something ("points") so at least you're getting an opportunity to get something back for reading your e-mail.
I'm going up to a comic book convention in Baltimore with my business associate at XionStudios.com. We're needing to get to the convention center early in the morning, so we got a hotel up there.
First we checked some of the standard places -- travelocity, hotwire, expedia. Found a hotel room for $55/night + taxes and fees. Not horrible, but....
Went to priceline.com (through ebates, so that I got an extra 2%!) Started by bidding for a 2 1/2 star or better at $40/night. Didn't get that one. Then I bid on a 1 or 2 star hotel for $45/night. Got that one! Fees were $108 total, minus 3% (2% from ebates and 1% from my credit card). Less than $55/night, everything included!
Checked the hotel website, and going rates for rooms there started at $89/night.
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