Frugal Living 
6
comments

Get A Stimulus Check Every Year!

With Presidential hopeful Barack Obama mentioning a potential second economic stimulus check, many folks are clamoring to know more. Unfortunately, there’s much else to say about it other than that he’d push for one in the short term.

I, however, offer a different solution. In order to find an additional $600, you only need to cut $50 a month. In reality, that comes out to only $11.54 a week. Reduce your spending by eleven dollars, fifty four cents a week and you will have created your own stimulus check. That’s it. Can you do it? I’m betting that you can and here are some recommendations of what you might want to trim.

Subscriptions

NetflixGet a list of all the subscriptions you have and really take a long hard look at what you really use. Do you have a $50/month (or more) gym membership that you don’t use? Do you have a $15/month Netflix membership but have had the same DVDs for the last three months? Do you get a copy of Good Housekeeping every month yet you never do anything except leave it on the coffee table? Trim it.

  • Gym memberships,
  • Video rentals memberships,
  • Magazines,
  • Cable television,
  • Internet,
  • there are plenty more…

Food & Fuel

Food and fuel are the two largest expenses for most families so it makes sense, after trimming that which we can live without, that we turn to these two categories to find further savings. (what doesn’t make sense is why they’re not included in “Core-CPI,” oh wait I remember, it’s so the number seems better! :) )

First, let’s tackle food.

Food:

Yellow SquashEvery Thursday there’s a farmers market within walking distance of my home in which fresh produce is sold at very low prices. I can get yellow squash for $1/lb. versus $1.49/lb. at the local Giant supermarket. That’s a 33% discount and while we don’t eat a ton of yellow squash, savings is savings.

Another recommendation I’ve heard, which I am trying to follow, is to eat more vegetables and less meat. Vegetables are healthier for you and far cheaper. Chicken breast, at it’s very cheapest, was $1.69/lb. and usually $2.99/lb. Beef? Forget it, you’re talking the north side of $4 a pound and sometimes much higher depending on the cut, grade, and whatever sale’s going on. Supplement your meals with more vegetables and some meat, for the various nutrients, but eat more leafy greens than fatty meats.

Lastly, be sure to review the circulars. You can see what’s on sale for the week ahead and plan your menu accordingly. We know that the front page of the Giant Food supermarket circular has the sales so we structure our meals according to what’s on sale. This week we had some shish-kabobs and will prepare some “crumby chicken” (it’s chicken breast coated with breadcrumbs, except it’s Ritz crackers) tonight. Chicken is on sale. :) (oh, and a leftover calendar helps reduce spoilage… still going strong with nothing going bad yet!)

Fuel:

I’m a huge proponent of car pooling, as it has the potential for the greatest savings. A second best option is to employ some techniques of realistic hypermiling. Don’t tailgate trucks, but consider easing off the gas if you see a red light and not slamming it when it turns green.

Everyone can tell you to car pool or hypermile, how about something no one else has said before? Go to Google Maps and plot out your daily commute. Google will often give you the fastest route but not necessarily the shortest one. What you can do is drag the path and investigate some alternative routes to see if it reduces your total mileage. While there are factors not illustrated on the map (rush hour zones, traffic lights, etc), it will give you an accurate count of the miles traveled. You will have to decide for yourself whether the trade-offs are wroth it.

In my case, I plotted my former commute and was able to reduce the trip from 16.1 miles to 15.5 miles. Qualitatively, the shorter commute had three more traffic lights, took smaller roads, but often missed a stretch of two highways that are usually clogged during rush hour. I felt the two were equal, except one route was shorter by 0.6 miles. 0.6 miles may seem inconsequential but it’s actually worth $40 a year! At $4/gallon gas and a 30MPG car, each mile costs 8 cents. If I make the twice a day for 250 days, the typical work year, then I save $40 by cutting out the 0.6 miles. This, of course, assumes both trips take the same amount of time.

So, plot your trip and any frequent trips you make (such as to the grocery store, doctor, dentist, etc.) to see if you can squeeze any efficiencies out of it.

There you go, some damn good suggestions on how to squeeze an extra stimulus check each year. :)

(Netflix image by Ross C., Yellow Squash image by tombarta)


 Frugal Living 
21
comments

Save Earth & Cents with Reusable Shopping Bags

This Is Not A Plastic BagFrugality has met environmentalism at my local Giant supermarket as those 99 cent reusable shopping bags can now net you a five cent discount at the checkout register. It’s estimated that Americans consume a hundred billion plastic shopping bags each year and we recycle about none of them. Those hundred billion end up in the woods, in the water, and in the throats of small furry animals, so do your part and start using reusable shopping bags because it can actually save you some money too.

At 99 cents each and a nickel discount each time you use them, it’s a mere twenty visits before each bag pays for itself. After the twenty visits, you start turning a small profit on the bags and can save yourself some money while saving the environment. And if you don’t want to spend the dollar on a reusable bag and you don’t have any totes, you can always turn a tanktop into a shopping bag (or use some other feat of ingenuity). :)

These stores offer some sort of discount for using a reusable shopping bag:

  • Giant Foods,
  • Whole Foods,
  • Trader Joes,
  • Krogers,
  • Super Fresh

If you know of a store that offers a discount for using a reusable bag, please leave it in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list.

(Photo by bsing)


 Frugal Living 
7
comments

You Don’t Always Need The Best Deal, Just A Deal

On relatively inexpensive things, it’s oftentimes good enough to get a decent deal rather than hold out for the absolute best deal ever.

Every once in a long while, usually around large sporting events or during the hot summer months, my local Giant Food has a great deal of five 12-packs of soda for ten dollars. At $2 a pack, this brings the price per can of soda down to less than 17 cents a piece. This is compared to a regular price of $3.99 a 12-pack (I think, but I can’t be certain because I’ve never purchased it at full price before) which turns that seventeen cent piece of caffeinated heaven into a nearly 34 cent David Bach-worthy indulgence (okay, there was a bit of hyperbole involved there but you catch my drift). Those five for $10 deals aren’t very frequent and oftentimes Giant Food throws its customers a bone and offers the 12-packs at three for $10 or sometimes four for $10. At those prices, the unit cost of a can is only slightly lower but don’t carry the stigma of full price.

My strategy for weathering the droughts between good soda deals was to not purchase soda at all. It’s arguably better health-wise to skip the soda (one of my friends doesn’t drink soda on the advice of his dentist because the acidity damages your enamel if you let it linger) so I often go for more coffee when it’s cooler or plain water when it’s hotter. However, every so often I’ll crave a soda and then drop $1.29 for one of the plastic 20 oz. bottles. The end result is that it’s either feast or famine… I either get the deal and buy cans at seventeen cents or a bottle at over seven times the price (ignore the fact that I get eight more ounces because it’s not really relevant for the purposes of this discussion).

So lately I’ve been following my own maxim of getting a decent deal in the absence of the best deal. The five for $10 isn’t always available, but the 3 for $10 and the 4 for $10 is usually available and I pick up one to hold me over. By spending a little more, I prevent myself from going all the way over to the other extreme and get more value for my dollar in the long run.

Or I could quit drinking soda and stick with tap water, which costs nearly nothing. :)


Advertising Disclosure: Bargaineering may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.
About | Contact Me | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Terms of Use | Press
Copyright © 2014 by www.Bargaineering.com. All rights reserved.