Category Archives: frugality

10+ Ideas for Saving Money

We bought some garden supplies yesterday. A while back I discovered how and where to get the supplies cheaper than I had before. The regular retail price of what we bought was $12. I paid $4. The $8 difference isn’t huge, but do that 5 or 10 times a year? Yep, it’s significant.

frugality image

These  are my “secrets” although none of them are secret.

  1. Be willing to buy something that isn’t in pristine shape, frequently you can get it cheaper, maybe a lot cheaper. We’ve done this with all sorts of goods: luggage at the L.L. Bean outlet with the wrong initials on them, used diner dishes from a thrift shop, etc. I buy clothes, china/glass at thrift shops. I go to my local salvage (scratch & dent) market before I go to the supermarket. (See #2 below.)
  2. Go through sale items before you shop elsewhere in a store. True at L. L. Bean’s outlet, the supermarket, the salvage store, a consignment shop, thrift shops, etc. Most stores have a regular sale corner or shelf. If you learn where that is, or where the markdowns go and go through them first, you avoid buying 4 new rolls of paper towels instead of 3 and one with a rip in the plastic cover for 1/2 off.
  3. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale. I wanted 2 things yesterday: cloth paint tarps and the garden materials. Got everything for just under $20. I know I can find the garden materials on sale, it’s just locating them, so if I hadn’t found them on sale, I would have passed. The paint tarps (not on sale, but usually smaller and cheaper than other tarps) are to put over the ever-larger leaf piles, so leaves aren’t blown back into the yard and to speed up composting.
  4. Be willing to walk away or have an alternate plan if what you want isn’t on sale. First time I looked for the garden materials this year I couldn’t find them on sale. The alternate plan for this is a lot of weeding. or using a home-grown substitute for what I bought, but it’s messier and doesn’t work as well.
  5. Be willing to do some work to get the bargain. I had to go look though the store for my bargain yesterday, then find someone to talk to. Needed help from the cashier too. If you’re always in a hurry, this will probably keep you from getting those bargains.
  6. Don’t damage items or try and bargain with the retailer, unless you know they’re okay with it. I had a retail store for years. I hated people who would pick up a $5 book and ask me to sell it to them for $3. Asking for a break at the end of the season is one thing. Or, if you truly need to buy a lot of something, talk to them beforehand. Don’t ask for extra discounts during sales.
  7. Buy in or out of season. In season for perishable items, like produce. Out of season for nonperishable items, like winter coats. The bargains in nonperishable items usually start as the seasons change, and get larger (with less selection) as time goes on.
  8. Know what customary retail is on an item before you go bargain hunting. If you’re paring down your food bill, frequently people make a “price book.” No one (or very few people) seem to do the same thing for durable goods they’re interested in: sofas, tires, prom dresses, etc.
  9. Find websites which will help you save time/money. I will tell you as a person who has spent a lot of time finding these, there are too many to review in any kind of timely way. If you want food coupons, there’s some really outstanding ones. If you want info re organization, same goes. If you want to save money in general, there’s a bunch of those too. If you go looking for general “save money” websites, you can quickly be overwhelmed. Be specific what you want help with before you go looking.
  10. Learn about cheaper substitutes: chicken thighs instead of breasts, for example.
  11. Limit what you’ll buy. For us, that’s six month’s worth of something which isn’t perishable, if I have the room. I bought shampoo a while back. I had coupons good for $2 off 2 and it was on sale as well. I had 3 coupons. I got 6 bottles. Normally, I’ll only buy 3 extra, max., but the shampoo won’t go bad, and my coupons were about to expire. Also, I’d just cleaned out the space where I’d store these, so I knew I had room.
  12. Be willing to comparison shop by phone if you’re buying either a large quantity or something that’s expensive. I just read an article by someone in the business who recommended this for caskets, etc. dealing with the death of a loved one. I’d never considered that, but why not? If it’s true of caskets, it’s certainly true about 4 dozen azalea plants or 1 tonne of gravel or 3 cases of tomatoes or 25 lbs of ground round. (See Jill Bond’s Mega Cooking if  you’re interested in strategies re food bulk buying.)

 

Today

DH is working on upgrading the electrical system on his motorcycle. He helped me with some of the leaf moving (rake, then relocate). Later today, we’re off to the storage to work on that.

There are probably more books here ready to be gotten rid of. I gave one  to a neighbor. Have another to ask a second neighbor about and the yard is tidier than it was. All good.

The fertilizer I used up (we’d had it for 2 years, why?) was rained on for the next two days. A lot of it went into the bulb beds, and the daffs. and other bulbs are shooting up green sprouts all over the place. Partly because it’s time, but partly because they got fertilized just as they were starting their spring push. The rain was a blessing for them.

So we need to buy more mulch for the bulb bed to keep out the weeds (grass), but the bulbs should spread out quite a bit this year because of the timely fertilizer and rain.

I’ve been working on the spring/summer food/garden plans,  Between the farm we belong to and the garden I grow (sometimes, didn’t last year) we are usually drowning in green stuff by June. I want a better plan for what comes in/when and what I intend to do with it this year! I’m about 25% done with this piece. Finished the initial data gather yesterday. Pulling it together.  There are 2 or so more data gathering steps before I can make an actual plan, but it should get there.

Off to the storage — ho!!!!

J

We took a file box full of books and a few besides to the market which has the book bin. Gone! I have gone through one box since we got home and have started the 2nd. There’s about 10 more books in a bag to be donated, wherever it is we go next that will take them.

Worked on Storage, Yesterday

Intend to do more, today. And yet more, tomorrow. I may have to rent a tiny unit to take the furniture. I’m not sure if the antique store has a place for furniture in its new location. If not, then pieces need to be hauled to auction, sold otherwise, or given away. (Purged books from the house today instead.)

We are getting a new back roof this year and maybe some storage space along with it. However, it will NOT be filled with boxes of books. If I bring the stuff home and it just sits here, I have only gained the price of the storage. And the price of the addition has to be considered in there too. The difference of course is that an additional utility area adds to the value of our home, not just a landlord’s bottom line. But as we’re talking about it right now, it will be a much bigger undertaking than we’d originally planned.

I still have WAY too much stuff. My ultimate goal this year is to have NO storage unit by 12/31 and be able to sanely (no box stacks, except perhaps in the attic) store what we keep. There’s a huge amount of stuff to shed between us and that goal, but I’m really tired of hauling things back and forth, trying to sell them or determine what happens to them. I don’t need the camouflage anymore and I’m tired of drowning in stuff!

stuff stacks

I have no idea how well we can manage this. All I can do is try!

J

Took a box to the dump’s swap shop today. Also wrote notes to booksellers, collectors, etc. who are friends. Were they still interested in x or y or z type of book? If so, exactly what did they want? Got answers, Am getting a list together.  More stuff gone. Also, will have a way to sell the best of the stuff it looks like. Hurrah!

Always Unplanned

I picked up a load of stuff from my car last night and brought it in. Remembered, just now, that my phone’s battery needed charging. Phone wasn’t in any of the places where it gets put away, no ringy-dingy when we called it. Thought I’d left it in the car?

Nope. It had fallen out of my hands onto the ground last night. And it poured last night and poured. My phone is almost certainly dead. DH said, “Well, maybe those $60 waterproof cases are worth it?” because my case cost $20 and as far as I was concerned it should have been $10. We’ll see. The phone currently sits in a bowl of rice. My bet is that it’s fried.

sick cell phone from images.google.com

I guess I need to do a spot check, every night: phone, wallet, and keys. I usually do that as I’m walking out the door. Too late then if I’ve left it somewhere or dropped it, like this.

Blast!

J

Phone was in its case. We removed it and put it in a bag of rice. Last time we tried this, it didn’t work. But this time, it did! My phone is working.

What To Do?

I got the runners I’d intended to use for the stairs, yesterday. The pieces visible thru the clear plastic they were shipped in didn’t resemble what I thought I’d ordered. Looked like stripes instead of checks. I opened one.

The jute in at least one place was dark and unattractive, but the piece was sound, and striped. DH and I talked about it. It was cheap. What to do? We decided to return it. If the image had resembled what’s here, I never would have ordered it. I cannot imagine using striped anything on a staircase, good way to set yourself up to fall. I do NOT want an optical illusion on my staircase or anything which might confuse us about where the edges are.

During the talk with their customer service person I said it wasn’t defective, it isn’t, it’s whole and sound. Looks like hell, but it’s sound. They wanted $33+ (on a $60 order) to return the 3 pieces. I arranged, finally, to pay to ship the things back to them, without them charging me 1/2 of the cost in a shipping charge. (Shipping had been free.)

So, after all of this, I am feeling rather like I’ve just been ripped off. The image, although it’s the right colors and materials and says it’s the right line, only vaguely looks like what arrived. Because of the conversation about the  insane shipping return fee, I went looking for reviews.

What has happened to me has happened to others. Apparently, they are a thinly veiled bait & switch company. They buy up goods from other companies, sell the best stuff, and the worst they don’t change the image, and make it difficult/impossible to return.

When I got up this  morning, I had all but resolved not to return the stuff, as I can probably get about 1/3- 1/2 of my $ back selling them thru the booth. But I have since decided against that too. Even if they charge me for the package I opened with the dark jute (arrived that way, as I said, I had the package open < 1 hour before I asked for a return authorization), it’s $20. If they try to charge me for the 2 packages I never opened? The easy answer for that is to take pictures, lots of pictures, before I ship the return, today.

Is it worth it? At this point, the way I feel is that either:1) they’re a legit company and they’ll do it right or 2)they’re creeps and even if I only get $20 back, I do, and it will cost them more to process it and deal with me and 3)Whether I get all my $ back or none of it, I will tell my friends, however it works out. I know how retail and mail order work and are supposed to work. I ran a mail order business for 10 years. I will make noise, a lot of it, file a complaint with the BBB, etc.

They sent me a customer service survey right after I talked to whoever to get the authorization. I won’t fill it out until I find out what they’re going to do.

First time I’ve really regretted closing my FB account. Having 500 “friends” online to post about this might just have guaranteed my getting all the $ back.

We’ll see. Continue reading

Revised To Do List 3/6

to do list 1

Keep using pantry goods. Empty the freezer before June 1. Should be as empty as is practical to make it!

Finish the doormat.

Box up the rest of the stuff for the flea market in April

Finish getting the tax info to the tax person before the appt.

Get ahold of my student and tell her when I’m available this week.

Get at least one piece of one item off of the long-term list!

Differences

I just ordered three runners, to cover our staircase, again. I will likely paint them this summer, then put the runner(s) on them. It was a really good deal and I’m glad I did it. Runner(s) for the staircase have been on my radar to do for some time, but my price point (<$100) meant that almost everything I found was plastic (Not here!) or ugly (No!) or colors, styles, patterns which were not to my liking. As I said, I’ve been looking for a while.

What I bought is three of these:   Continue reading