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This post was written by staff writer Crystal Stemberger at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, where she writes about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting in the fun stuff along the way.

Extreme Couponing: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

by Crystal Stemberger on July 20, 2011

CouponsAlthough I’ve been clipping coupons from my Sunday paper for a while, I just heard about extreme couponing a few months ago.  At first it seemed amazing that whole loads of groceries could be bought for less than $50, but at what cost?  I was surprised to hear about how much time extreme couponers spend planning each trip.  I personally only spend about half an hour each Sunday planning out the week’s menu with my husband and another half hour at the grocery store at the beginning of each week.  Here’s my personal view of extreme couponing: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Four Frugal Hobbies You Might Not Have Tried

by Crystal Stemberger on July 19, 2011

Blogging started off as my hobby job.  Before I knew that I wanted to do this full time, I had been skipping around to different money-making part-time activities in an effort to find a hobby that I’d like and that would give me some extra cash to boot.  I personally worked in a local bookstore on the weekends for a few months, then tried petsitting for about half a year, and even babysat for a few weekends.  Here is a closer look at these hobby job ideas.

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Tips for Getting a Great Deal at a Car Dealership

by Crystal Stemberger on July 18, 2011

Car DealershipI have been working with a car dealership software company for 6 years.  In that time, I have seen thousands of deals from a dealership’s point of view.  The only difference between making a good deal and a bad deal is what you know before you step onto a car lot.  Here are a few tricks I have figured out to get a great deal on a car if you will be buying from a dealership.

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Four Dog Expenses to Consider Before Adopting Fido

by Crystal Stemberger on July 14, 2011

Cute BeagleWhen my husband and I got married, the first big decision we made together was to adopt our first dog, Miss Doxie.  A few years later, we adopted another dog, Mr. Pug.  We knew these were big decisions because dogs, and pets in general, can be expensive.  They cost money from the day you get them to the day they go to doggy heaven.  I personally think that each dog I ever have in my life is more than worth it, but here are the costs to consider before getting a dog.

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Best Travel Deal Websites – Which Ones Work For You?

by Crystal Stemberger on July 13, 2011

My husband and I travel every summer.  He is a public school librarian, so we fit all of our longer vacations into the months that he has off.  If our trip requires getting plane tickets, I start searching for the best prices up to 6 months in advance.  I always hit a bunch of sites, but my favorites have been Airfare Watchdog, Travelocity, Expedia, and Southwest Vacations.

Airfare Watchdog

Airfare Watchdog is an awesome way to monitor the prices of flights in your area.  I have bought a ticket through their site once, but I have also simply used the information it throws my way to pick the best times to patrol all of the other sites to get the best deal.  I love the fact that it is easy to use.

If you’d like to keep an eye out for the best prices on plane tickets to or from a certain place, simply sign up for email notifications.  Airfare Watchdog will then email you when specials occur for the trip you set it up to monitor.  For example, I was looking for a cheap ticket to Chicago to go to the Financial Blogger Conference at the end of September.   I signed up for email notifications in March for any good deals from Houston to Chicago and jumped on a $215 ticket that they notified me about a few weeks later.

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Frugal Methods on Dealing with Garden Critters

by Crystal Stemberger on July 12, 2011

My husband and I started a raised garden in April and our tomatoes are looking pretty good.  They are plump but are still very green and hard.  I was getting excited last week until I woke up one morning and something had taken big bites out of my best looking tomato!  It looked like gnaw marks, so our best bet is that a squirrel has been in our garden.  Here are a few frugal methods I have found to deal with garden thieves.

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Frugal Summer Fun Ideas

by Crystal Stemberger on July 07, 2011

Summer SandalsI do not know how it is where you live right now, but it is really hot here in Houston, TX. The humidity has stayed high and the temperature has been hitting nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day for the last few weeks!  That sort of heat keeps me from walking around my job’s parking lot at lunch like I used to.  I have had to come up with other ideas.  Here are a few suggestions for frugal summer fun.

Bird Watching

One of my husband’s coworkers suggested that I take up bird watching.  The best time to see a variety of birds is early in the morning while the temperature is still bearable.  Despite the fact that I am not a morning person, I did head out one morning last week and strolled through our neighborhood looking for interesting birds.  I was surprised to see an actual woodpecker since our area is pretty developed, but I also saw the normal birds in our area like hummingbirds at the feeders and pairs of robins.  If nothing else, it was nice to walk around without needing a gallon of water afterwards.

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Garage Sale Tips for Finding Hidden Gems

by Crystal Stemberger on July 06, 2011

Garage Sale TodayA close friend, Tonia, has been trying to get me interested in garage sales for a couple of years now.  She swears that it is a ton of fun to spend her early Saturday mornings browsing through the sales around town.  I personally don’t want anything enough to wake up at 6am on a weekend to go after it, but her garage sale plans were detailed enough that I knew I should share.  Here are Tonia’s tips for finding exactly what you are looking for at garage sales.

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