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Archive for September, 2004

Big Lots

September 29th, 2004 at 10:31 pm

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.

Bought an impulse item, but...

September 27th, 2004 at 05:51 pm

...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! Wink

Opportunistic shopping

September 21st, 2004 at 07:37 pm

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.

Fantastically frugal late-night snack

September 17th, 2004 at 08:46 pm

Bagel Pizzas!

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
5) Broil!

They were gone in about 4 minutes.

My cafeteria's closing!

September 16th, 2004 at 08:24 pm

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.

Grocery shopping tonight

September 15th, 2004 at 07:56 pm

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 MyPoints.com gift certificate today

September 10th, 2004 at 05:10 pm

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 Smile

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.

Pitting hotels against each other

September 9th, 2004 at 10:40 pm

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.

One trick to save money

September 9th, 2004 at 12:01 am

One trick that I've used a few times is to deposit unexpected bonanzas into my savings account rather than my checking account. This includes things like income tax refunds, rebates, travel reimbursements, etc. I also throw my loose change into a jar and deposit in into the savings account when it gets full.

The savings account is very accessible, but not so accessible that the money burns a hole in your pocket. You have to make a point to withdraw from the savings account -- either at the ATM or at the teller. It keeps the checking account a little leaner than it normally would be, and you spend a little less.

More discount grocery buys

September 7th, 2004 at 05:21 pm

Cell phones are fantastic things. (I wouldn't have told you this before I got one, because I was very wary of the electronic leash effect it has.) Anyway, I called up Vanessa (my honey) to double-check what flavors of gum she likes. The grocery store had a bunch of her favorite flavor for about half of what Costco charges. So, I got her 80 packs Smile

Another quick money-saver: If you have a cell phone, check with the provider to see if your workplace provides discounted service. I found out that gov't employees got a 5% discount. It's $3.50/month right back in my pocket!

Unicycle for $2

September 6th, 2004 at 08:04 pm

Saturday we went to a garage sale and got a unicycle for $2. I have a friend who's a lot more acrobatic than I am, and it was definitely $2 worth of fun for him.

Recent more useful finds were 3 unopened Pur filters at $1 each (these run $10 apiece) and a baby gate for $2 (we registered for our first's baby shower today at Babies 'R' Us, and the gates ran $20 and up).

Garage sales are a great place to spend less the easy way.

Savings at CVS

September 4th, 2004 at 10:12 pm

My wife and I were getting a prescription filled at CVS. The receipt comes back with a coupon: $3.00 off your next $15.00 purchase.

So we looked around for things at good prices. Campbell's Kettle Creations: 99 cents, good price around here. My wife's sugar-free candies: 79 cents apiece, better than she usually gets. Used our credit card for possible UPromise.com savings AND got an extra rewards rebate AND stocked up enough soup to burn through the $3 coupon.

We were so enthralled with all of this, we left the prescription on the counter and had to drive back to get it. OOPS! Smile

Article advocates budgeting in debt service?!

September 4th, 2004 at 10:00 am

I read an article on msn.com yesterday about how college students are bombarded with credit card offers, the pros and cons of having a student with a credit card, etc.

One bullet caught my attention. It advised sticking to a budget -- not a bad thing in itself. But it then suggests not using more than 10% of your take-home pay for debt. Basically, if you take home $750/month, make sure that no more than $75 go toward credit cards.

Now, we could interpret this to mean "charge no more than $75/month" or we could interpret this as "don't charge so much that you'll need more than $75/month to meet your minimum payments."

I can only think of a few instances where it would be advisable to buy anything on credit (i.e., not for convenience). Otherwise, I think that this is a very irresponsible way to view credit cards. Budgeting in consumer debt service is asking for trouble.

Just took me aback when I saw experts talking about what an acceptable amount of consumer debt is. I thought it was wise not to take on any if you could possibly avoid it.

Clean out your car to save $$$

September 2nd, 2004 at 08:44 pm

I finally took my own advice and cleaned out some of the magazine recycling from the trunk of my car. (After checking that I couldn't sell the magazines on eBay, of course.) Wink

If you're carrying around junk that you don't need in your car (or important stuff that you don't need in your car -- basically anything that has mass) your gas mileage is suffering. About 1 MPG per 100 pounds of extra stuff.

Your friends will appreciate that your lead brick collection is now stored in your garage and away from where they put their feet.

Scratch-n-Dent groceries?

September 1st, 2004 at 10:44 pm

Tonight for dinner I had some Campbell's Select. I got it for 99 cents at out local discount grocery store--their everyday price. This matches or beats Food Lion's loss leader on the same product.

The can was a bit dented. The discount grocery store specializes in salvaged goods -- out of date, dented, or discontinued. I've had no problems with any of the items I've bought there. They don't always beat the supermarket price, but they are competitive most of the time and sometimes blow them out of the water.

Bonus: My credit card company thinks that it's a gas station, so I get the higher rebate on the purchases! Smile