Monday, October 13, 2008

In the Mailbox:Business Cards

About a week and a half ago I WON something online!I was the 500th follower of VPG_Printing on Twitter.

My prize? 500 of my choice from business cards, flyers, bookmarks or return address labels from Vertical Printing.I chose the business cards for my cafepress website. Laura was awesome to work with, she took my information and made up a cute design that I adore, and even bumped the amount of cards to 1000.

You could win some free items from Laura as well.She has weekly freebies plus she is giving away an even BIGGER prize to her 1000th follower.I love the high quality of the business cards and am so glad that I was able to find someone whom I would enjoy working with on future printed needs.Thanks Laura!

Here is a proof of my cards, isn't it cute?

P.S. If you want to follow me on Twitter I'm right here.

In the Mailbox: 10/12

Here's what I received in my mailbox this past week:

Tampax Sample from Walmart
Planet Heros and GeoTrax DVDs from Fisher-Price
September and October issues of Field & Stream from AdPerk

I don't know why they sent two months together but I am happy that I finally received them.If you recall I did the AdPerk promotion for a free 1-year subscription back in early August for my boyfriend's birthday and he has been eagerly awaiting the issues.

Now hopefully the apartment office will open up soon and I can pick up those fabulous business cards.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Coupon Board!

Tada! Here is my restaurant coupon board.Isn't it a beauty?No?Oh well, I like it. It was my boyfriend's idea and a way to compromise on me going completely nuts over couponing, and him trying to stay sane.He comes from a family that loves to eat out almost as much as they love to cook. We both have long days with school and work so sometimes being able to pick up a burger or pizza is just going to have to cut it. How do you organize coupons from restaurants ?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Walgreens, CVS, and more Walgreens

I should posted my $10/40 purchase last week but didnt have the camera so here's the loot I picked up this week for under $25!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Check you Inboxes!

CVS sent an email out with a $/$$ coupon.

Mine was for $5/30 but there are also reports of $3/$15 and $4/$20

As always thanks to the wonderful people at HCW!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Motivation

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

I went to Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Kroger this week. Here's what I got:
2 Right Bites
2 Poptarts
2 Fudge Shoppe Cookies
2 Rice Krispies Treats
3 Cheez-it
1 Elf Fudge Cookies
1 Kashi Strawberry cereal bars
1 Kashi Mighty Bites cereal
1 Kashi Trail Mix granola bars
1 Kashi Peanut Butter granola bars
4 CleanTeam baby wipes
1 J&J Buddies Soap
1 Cottonelle 4-pak toilet paper
2 Schick Quarto disposable 4-paks
1 ACT mouthwash
1 CVS cotton swabs 50 ct
1 Revlon ColorStay nail polish
1 Skin Genesis towelettes
3 Robitussin
4 SB Action Scrubbers
2 SB Sprays
1 SB Shower Foamer
2 Oust Air sprays
4 Chex Mix
2 Candy bars

Total OOP: $30.47
Plus: $10.99 in ECBs, $10 in RR, and $17 on a gift card to Target.

WOW!What a week for me.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Danger of Double Counting Your Savings at Stores

We see it all the time. It is one of the best marketing techniques around and even the eagle-eyed, non-brand-loyalty frugal bloggers fall for it. I'm talking about the "Price of X after Y savings" technique. Let's take a look.

In the CVS ad for 9/7 through 9/11 we see this:
Right Guard Professional Strength
it’s like getting it for...$1.99
after extra bucks
thru Sep 11
Deodorant solid 1.8 oz or aerosol 6 oz.
you pay $6.99 - $5.00 extra bucks® rewards = $1.99 after extra bucks
Extra Bucks® offer limit of 3 per household with car

Because I worked at CVS I know a lot of people get confused and think they are only supposed to be charged $1.99 instead of the $6.99.They are wrong.

You will pay 6.99 OOP if you do not pay with a gift card, money card or ECBs.You will lose $6.99 of your money not $1.99.You will however get 5 ECBs towards a future purchase.

The danger in that is customers are double counting their savings in their mind.
A lot of people think in this situation "Oh well, it IS just like paying $1.99 afterwards". But than later on a future purchase they use that $5 ECB on a $4.99 purchase and think "I can't believe I'm getting this free."

They didn't get that item for free. They paid for it when they choose to spend $7 on deodorant.

Am I saying there is anything wrong with thinking that way?Yes.If you are not careful you could be spending way more than what you intended because you are letting marketing departments play tricks on you. If you keep an eye on you expenses that's great! If however your new to "the game" it is important to not get stuck in this mind trick.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Apologies

I'm sorry I haven't updated in a few days, I've been a little bit under the weather due to a sickness that's been going around the area. I hope to be posting regularly again soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September Financial Goals

Well since this blog is a way for me to on up and record my progress I'm going to join Crystal's monthly update. Since I didn't do this in August there really isn't much to update so instead I'm going to post the goals I'd like to achieve this month.

  1. Find a job. I had to quit the job I had at U-Haul because of poor employeer practices. I have enough money to cover expenses this month and next but I need to find employment soon to bring in a steady flow of income.
  2. Create a budget. I think I'm going to do this one with my boyfriend.He has agreed to help me pay bills at my apartment because he uses as much if not more of the electricity and water and tv than me. We've also been dating for almost 2 years and this will be a good exercise to see where we both stand on our views towards money and where we need to compromise when we choose to get married.
  3. Maintain at least a 2.7 GPA. Although not primarily a financial goal, I must have a 2.7 GPA at the university in order to move up to junior level courses in the spring(this is my first semester there). This is more like protecting an investment so I don't go wasting money and time on classes this spring that don't go toward my degree.
  4. Save up $500 for a winter course. This is a multi-month goal to be completed after I get a job but before December. Before I can take any junior levels I have to get this histor class out of the way at a community college. I rather not take finiancial aid out on it.

So those are my goals. How about you?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

CVS trip for August 31-Sept 6

It was a decent week at CVS.I'm still trying to figure out the best possible scenarios each week so I probably could have done better.I still need to go to my parent's house and pickup their coupons so I may be doing a little bit more shopping before the week is over but here is the result of my first trip:

Transaction 1:

2 Cover Girl Aqua Smoothers Foundations $15.98
1 Earth Essentials Paper Towels 3-pack $1.99

Total before Coupons $ 17.97

- CVS BOGO Covergirl Sale -$7.99
- Covergirl BOGO coupon -$7.99
- $1/1 Covergirl coupon -$1.00
- $1/1 CVS Brand Paper Towels CRT -$1.00

Total after Coupons -$0.01

Transaction 2:

1 Dawn Ultra Dish Soap $0.99
1 Febreeze Noticeables Kit $6.99
2 Kiss Nail Glues $3.98
2 Glade Scented Oil Warmers $9.98

Total before Coupons $21.94

- $0.50/1 Dawn Dishsoap -$0.50
- $4/1 Glade Scented Oil Warmer -$4.00
- BOGO Glade Scented Oil Warmer -$4.99
- $5/1 Febreeze Noticeables Kit -$5.00
- Extra Care Bucks -$5.79

Total after Coupons $1.80

Transaction 3:

1 Cover Girl Wetslicks Amazmint $5.99
2 CVS Chocolate Covered Peanuts $1.98

Total before Coupons $7.97

- $1/1 CoverGirl Item -$1.00
-$2/2 Gold Emblem Nuts -$2.00
-ECBs -$5.00

Total after Coupons -$0.03

Total Money Spent $ 1.80
Total Money Saved: $46.08

Total ECBs Spent $10.79
Total ECBs Earned $10.99

All in all a good trip. I love my CVS store's employees. I strive to have good relationships with them and in return they don't mind adding taxable items to make my balance positive or take coupons expiring 8/31 at 12:30 AM on September 1st. And yes that is when I do most of my shopping.

How did you do this week?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Getting a Millionare's Mindest

Yahoo Finance has highlighted an article from Investopedia about adjusting your mindset in order to achieve being a millionare by the time you retire. The article covers the basics like:
  • Cut out indulgent spending
  • Contribute to your retirement savings
  • Educate yourself about taxes
  • Decide on a lower-cost car
  • Know your worth
All in all, it's a little repetitive if you've been reading about the same topic for a while. Still iits a good article for people just getting started, as well as a refresher for those who've been at it already.

Read the full article here: Getting a Millionaire's Mindset

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Does this make me a money saving nerd?

I just went trashcan diving in the mailroom of my apartment complex for coupons that my fellow redidents have been trashing.I had three people look at me like I was crazy and all the while I'm just stacking up the coupons and humming a tune.

Does that mean I'm official crazy?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

10 Ways to Keep Your Money in College

Let's face it. College is all about one thing :self-discipline. It is what employers really see when they look at your transcript. It's why many people have a career in an area that has nothing to do with their diploma. Can you rely on and make yourself study for those tough exams? Can you hold down a part-time job and still keep a 3.0 or better. Perhaps the most important question, for yourself and not your future employer, do you have a firm handle on your finances?

It's a tradition passed down from generation to generation.Broke, starving and struggling. But you can make the best of what little you have without reaching out for a line of credit.Here's how:

  1. Take Advantage of the Free Transportation. Most college campuses offer free bus rides and various routes. Some even have stops at apartment complexes. If your campus does not have it's own system, check to see if your campus as a bus stop close by your campus and than check the city's transportation website to see if they offer free fares for college students with a valid student id. Check out Public Transportation if you live in the US, for a thorough list of transportation systems in you state and city.
  2. Save Money on Classes Using CLEP.CLEP or College-Level Examination Program is run by CollegeBoard and can save you a ton of money by taking a test that earns you college credit. While it does cost $70 and you have to get a satisfactory score(based on the school you send the results to), it is as easy as using an old textbook to study and costs about a quarter of the amount of attending a community college. Search to see if your school accepts CLEP or look at the tests being offered.
  3. Use a Coupon Board.What is a coupon board? My version is a whiteboard hanging on the wall with several magnets. Whenever I receive coupons for restaurants or fast-food joints I clip and stack according to the restaurant and than stick them to the board. Whenever I'm running low on cash and decent food I can go through the coupons for whatever food I'm in and get a meal or two for dirt cheap. It's not the healthiest tip but it is handy come exam time when I don't have time to work and therefore no money. It's also a good to have when you have friends over and no food to feed them, you can get a lot of food with lots of variety for very little. (It's also a handy little money maker when you do your neighbor a favor and go grab them lunch because they're too busy).
  4. Do Your Homework When You Buy Textbooks.It's horrifying to walk into the college bookstore on the first day of classes and shell out $800 for new books because they're out of used.Don't do it! Most schools start registering for the next term when you still have a month or two left in your current one.Take the time and go register.Once you have your new schedule in hand, communicate with your new teachers.Ask them for a copy of the syllabus so you can plan the required purchases and be ready for the first class.If your schedule says Staff, go to the department or department head and they will be happy to help. Next make several copies of the ISBN numbers of the textbooks you will need.Grab a computer and make the first stop the on-campus bookstore website. Find each book by searching the ISBN number.Note down the price(New and Used) for each book and title the first page On-Campus Book Store. Do this for each off-campus bookstore, even if you have to go to location. Also do this for other websites such as Amazon. Once you priced each location, cross-reference each store to find the lowest prices.Double check to make sure you can buy books in-store and if they have updated their used book selection. Than go buy those books.Order online ASAP to get the books in before the semester starts, or if your in-store won't allow you to buy books just yet mark your calendar for the first day you can. Remember: don't buy any supplement books, just check them out from the library. For example, your literature class will be reading The Iliad. Check with your teacher to make sure it's OK to have your own copy if you will be reading in class, and than go borrow it.
  5. Sell Your Textbooks Back, Keep the Giftcard. This one works up until you graduate. When selling back your textbooks it can be very tempting to just take the cash and run for the hills.It makes more sense however to accept the giftcard option instead. College is an investment.Shouldn't you be rolling your money each semester for that investment?Say you spent $800 on textbooks(you didn't read tip 4 very well did you?).You'll get somewhere between $100-$200 dollars back.If your on-campus store is run by a company such as Efollett you can choose to get that money back on a giftcard and they will add 10% more money on the card.So instead of just $200 you now have $220 to spend towards books and school supplies.If you choose to buy another $800 in books, you'll now only spend $680. That can be quite the relief to a college student.
  6. Free Entertainment is Everywhere. One of the best parts about being a college student is that the school and surrounding areas are always scheduling some sort of event that can be attended free with student id.Check the school website, Facebook and Craigslist for events near you. For free movie rentals try Redbox on Monday evenings with a promo code. Just do a Google search to find the codes each week, or try RetailMeNot for codes that aren't just tied to Monday.Use the library to check out books, movies and more for free.
  7. Master Your Gas and Food Expenses. These two things are in the top 5 expenses so you need to try to get a better handle on them. I recommend playing the "Grocery/Drugstore Games" to help you learn how to pay pennies for food and necessities. It can be a world of difference if you learn how o maximize the coupons you receive in the mail and newspaper.Although the Grocery Game cost some money($10 every 8 weeks for one store list) a lot of people say the list is worth it.The Drugstore game can save you boodles of money on everyday items such as deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, toilet paper and more. Two great articles to read about the Drugstore game are at Get Rich Slowly and Money Saving Mom.Once you get the hang of it become a member at Hot Coupon World to help plan your shopping trip and find the best deals for a multitude of stores. As for gas, implement tip #1 and you could go from using a tank a gas a week to using a tank every 2 weeks. Use sites like GasBuddy to find the cheapest place to pump.Don't limit your search to just the city you live in though. I frequently travel through 4 cites as I go to school, visit family, work and do my shopping. Gas prices can differ as much as 15 cents among the areas. That's a decent chunk saved if I do my research and plan my trips correctly.
  8. Shop Around for a Bank Account. While using cash is the ultimate way to go having a bank account while in college is important.Some colleges link a student account t to a debit card. You could also pay bills online, use ATMs and more depending on the account you choose. Many banks offer special checking accounts for college students.I have an account at Bank of America, but Wells Fargo(to get accurate information be sure to change your state if you don't live in Texas) and Compass are also good choices. Be sure that there is a branch where you living and could live within the next 5 years. Collegeview has a good article on choosing the bank that best suits your needs.
  9. Search For Refurbished or Employee Discounted Computers. Buying a laptop or desktop for school nowadays is not quite a requirement, but you'll find most teachers will expect you to have 24/7 access to the internet. While doing all your school-related activities on the computers in the library is certainly cheaper it can be impractical for some. But before you go spend $1000 on a brand new laptop consider looking into refurbished instead.If you buy from a manufacturer you can get a computer that has been tested and has been deemed to be of good quality, with a few dings, for a lot cheaper.Read a great article about what to look for in a refurbished computer at About. Another option to look into is employee discounts.Many companies offer discounts on their products to corporation employees.If you or a parent work for a well-known company check in with them to see if they offer discounts on electronics. With my father's employee discount I was able to get a great deal on a laptop for school with an option to upgrade later for over 50% off the original price.
  10. Do Yourself a Favor and Learn to Cook and Sew. Mastering even the basics of these two skills can save you tons of money, not only in college, but the rest of your life. Check out some books for beginners, swing by the grocery store with the help from tip #7, browse the discount bins at a craft store and join an online community like Craftster for help and ideas to breathe new life in your wardrobe and dinner menus.

With the help of these ten tips you should be able to keep more of your own money instead of shelling so much out for school. Some of these tips are well-known like walking as much as you can instead of shelling out $180 for a parking sticker.All of these tips come from my own experience(OK, not all of them, I'm still working on number 10 myself, but I already see the benefits).I see an incredible difference in bank account from back when I first entered college 3 years ago, to know. I know you can too.

If you have any tips you would like to share, please leave them in comments section.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm Back!

Well I am back from my cruise and it was a blast! I even got a free razor that came with a coupon.

Also, I start a new semester today and boy it does not look good for my wallet two classes and already I need to buy 4 books.

Because I wasn't here this week no CVSingfor me. :( but I will be going soon as I have ECBs expiring this week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hello Mexico

I know I just started this blog, but from tomorrow August 18th to August 23 I will be out of the country on a cruise in Mexico with my boyfriend and his family. I hope to return refreshed and ready to begin a new semester at school and continue blogging here as well.

Adios mi amigos!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frugal Fun - Casual Games

If you haven't heard of casual games yet, than your missing out. According to Wikipedia:

A casual game is a video game targeted at a mass audience of casual gamers. Casual games can have any type of gameplay, and fit in any genre. They are typically distinguished by their simple rules, in contrast to more complex hardcore games.[1][2] Casual games typically are played on a personal computer online in web browsers, although they now are starting to become popular on game consoles, too. Casual gaming demographics also vary greatly from those of traditional computer games, as the typical casual gamer is older [3] and more predominantly female,[4] with over 74% of those purchasing casual games being women.[5] They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play, and there are comparatively low production and distribution costs for the producer.

Most casual games have similar basic features:
  • Extremely simple gameplay, like a puzzle game that can be played entirely using a one-button mouse or cellphone keypad
  • Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks or, in the case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation
  • The ability to quickly reach a final stage[6], or continuous play with no need to save the game
  • 2D, abstract graphics
  • Some variant on a "try before you buy" business model or an advertising-based model

I particularly like to play a casual game in-between studying for about 15-20 minutes. Typically casual games cost around $20 a pop, however it is becoming more and more common for sites to allow full games of either popular or old games to be played for free, providing you don't mind watching a short (usually 30 seconds) ad, although the frequency depends on the site from which you downloaded.

Most sites that offer these "unlimited trials" are completely spy-ware and ad-ware free, however there is one site that I caution you to stay away from, and that is Iwin. There have been reports that Iwin's game manager does have some malicious content(in fact, my boyfriend's laptop is in the repair shop after I downloaded a game from that site, oopsies) plus, the frequency of the ads on their unlimited games is pretty annoying.

Here are some of my recommendations to get you started:

Time Management/Action/Arcade
Hidden Object/Puzzle
Remember they are casual games, but easy to get addicted to so keep a watch or a timer on you so you don't lose track of real life.I'm not much of a match 3 or similar type gamer, but if you are and you want me to add some games to the list please drop a comment and I will add them.

Here are the websites with the free with ads games: Most Fun GameHouse Yahoo

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Man I Love Country Songs

I'm from Texas and being down south all my life I've grown up loving country music (although there are born and bred people down here who don't, the crazies). Even if you don't like country music you have to hand it to Brenn Hill who was recently featured on NPR this month.

On his latest album he has a song titled "Debt". Run as fast as you can over here and take a listen and I bet you'll be nodding your head right along with the message he's sending out.

Thanks to The Cappuccino Life for originally posting about this awesome song.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Cupcake!

Today my boyfriend turns 22 and I am very proud to say that this year he actually got a birthday present from me.Last year I got seriously ill right around May and had to quit my job at CVS and was barely able to pay rent until September when I finally got completely better.

This year, thanks to all the wonderful bloggers who post deals I was able to get three presents:

  • Crystal posted about AdPerk where you watch short videos and earn credits towards mostly magazine subscriptions. Starting in September he will be receiving a one-year subscription to the magazine Field & Stream.

  • Crystal also posted about the free trial of Amazon Prime with a free $10 credit. He loves his new cameo chair.
Total Spent: $6 His reaction: Priceless

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My deals of 8/3-8/9

I seem to be missing a receipt for the week so the first transaction won't have prices

Transaction 1:
1 Zicam on clearance
1 Vicks 44e on clearance
1 CVS Flu Relief Daytime on clearance
1 Infants Advil Drops
1 Soft Lips value pack
1 Colgate Total Advanced Whitening

Coupons used:
$2.00 off Advil
$1.00? off Colgate

ECBs earned:
$5.79 for Advil
$2.00 for Colgate Total

Transaction 2:
1 Dawn Dish Liquid $0.88
1 Advil Children $5.79
1 Covergirl Trueblend Foundation 7.99
1 Cover Girl Blush set $7.49 FREE after promotion
2 American Greeting cards $7.28
1 J&J Buddies Easy Grip Soap $0.99

Coupons used:
$0.50 off Dawn Dish Soap
$0.99 off J&J Buddies
$2.00 off Advil
$3.59 off American Greeting B1G1
$7.99 of Covergirl B1G1

OOP: $8.20
Saved: $24.37
ECBs Earned:
$5.79 for Advil

My boyfriend used my phone number when he went to stock up on mountain dew.The cashier talked him into getting those Energy drinks so I have an $4.99 ECBs that I did not personally pay for.

Care to help? 8/10

Since I'm still processing how to get the best deals I still run into problems on how to figure these things out.I want to get the best deal possible on the baby page of the 8/10 ads.heres the scenario:

My nephew's birthday is coming up and he's turning 1.I'd like to use the baby deal this week to fill out his gift, however my sister is very particular.

No Huggies Diapers
No Diaper Bag
No Stroller
No Enfamil
No boots or clogs

However she does love Huggies wipes.Everything else is fair game, including Buddies.I do have about $15 in ECBs I could use.I also have the 2/10 I could use as well.

I appreciate any help I can get on figuring this out.I know there are the johnson's printables, as well as some Huggies coupons in the past few papers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How I got started

It all started with a book, this book in fact:

I received this book from my parents for Christmas. Chapter 2 is all about assessing you personal finances. Of course I've been learning from the start that I need to have money in order to start a business, but this book helped me realize just what all its going to take working on myself before I can even realistically conceive owning and managing a business.

Than a few weeks later my boyfriend and I were watching Unwrapped on the Food Network, and I was introduced to The Grocery Game.The concept just blew my mind and I searched the web for more ideas like that.

This led me to J.D over at Get Rich Slowly, which is now one of my favorite personal finance blogs.Back in May there was a guest post on GRS about the drugstore game from Chief Family Officer.

Well last summer I actually worked at a CVS for a couple of months before I had to leave due to a serious illness, so I am very fond of CVS Pharmacy and was already familiar with Extra Care Bucks but I had no idea the amount of savings to be had when utilizing the program.

Back to the handy-dandy Google for more searches which lead me to Crystal at Money Saving Mom where I began my hand at the deals to be had. Inspired by her series on blogging yourself, I decided to start my own here.

So here I am on the path to control over my own financies so that I have the proper tools to handle my business' finances when the time comes.

So I decided I can blog....

So I took the plunge and decided to start my own blog to track my frugal progress.Let's hope this goes well.

Ever since I was in middle school I was fascinated with business. In high school I decided I wanted to open my own business. Now in a few months I will be filing a tentative degree plan for a major in entrepreneurship. Believe me I am scared out of my wits.

Why blog about frugality? Let me count the ways:
  1. It's a great habit to get into
  2. There's a sense of responsibility to write down my progress
  3. I've always been a penny pincher
  4. I absolutely love the community in the frugal blogosphere
Now here I am ready to start recording my dance down the frugal path of life.Care to join me?