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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

Cascading discounts

August 30th, 2004 at 08:20 pm

Bought a new computer programming book. List $49.99.

1) Checked addall.com. WalMart.com had the best price. $34.75 shipped.
2) Clicked through a rewards rebate site to save 8% off of this.
3) Used a rewards credit card to save 1% from the original price.

Paid $31.62 for a $50 book that was published June 2004.

Re-sell magazines on EBay for extra $$

August 27th, 2004 at 10:22 pm

Check this out before you recycle your old magazines. Depending on the magazine, you can re-sell your back issues (i.e., the ones you just finished reading) on EBay.

I check to see if people are actually buying the magazine I want to re-sell, then set the price low and add a reasonable shipping charge (usually USPS printed matter rate to the farthest zone I would ship to). If the price is right and the magazine is not something with quickly dated material, people will bid!

You can carry this a step further and look in thrift shops or libraries for magazines to buy. I picked up a few magazines for a dime apiece that were actually worth a few dollars apiece. One magazine went for over $20!

Why chuck your old magazines if you can pass them on and make some money in the process?

Spend 7% less at McDonald's?!

August 19th, 2004 at 08:18 pm

This may fall into the more-trouble-than-it's-worth category, but here goes anyway....

Use a cash-back rewards credit card to buy gift certificates. (1% off the top right there--McDonald's recently started accepting credit cards around here!) Sign up for upromise.com and get a 3% redemption on your gift certificates.

Now, I'm sure you're thinking: 1% + 3% is 4%, not 7%!

Choose one item from the dollar menu. (My favorite is the McChicken sandwich.) This is about $1.05. Pay with $2.00 in gift certificates. Get 95 cents CASH back. Repeat five times. You spent $5.25 for 5 McChickens, burning through $10 in gift certificates in the process.

The rebate is 3% of $10 (30 cents) plus 10 cents rebate back. The percentage savings is $0.40 / $5.25 = 7.6%.

A really strange spend-less idea, from your friendly neighborhood Mighty Bargain Hunter. Wink

Cutting dishwashing liquid

August 14th, 2004 at 09:36 pm

Glad I ran across this. Looks like there are a lot of interesting things that people do to save money!

My name is John Wedding and I'm the webmaster of mightybargainhunter.com. I live in Virginia with my wonderful wife Vanessa and our three dogs Mosby, Timmie and Bucky.

I'm not sure where I saw this idea, but I save a little on hand dishwashing soap by diluting it. The reasoning here is that if you squeeze a bottle of Dawn while it's full strength, you'll get way too much in the sink. By cutting it quite a bit (I usually do it about 10 to 1) you can still get plenty of suds and make a bottle last for a long time.

I heard that one consumer products maker was accused once of making the liquid soap runnier so that people would go through it faster. But that might be an urban legend.

I hope to share what I know with you all! This should be fun!

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