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Even More Valentine’s Day Tips For Guys

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 13th, 2014

Guest post is by Gabrielle Greene who co-blogs on TipsOnHowToSaveMoney. Her friends often refer to her as “Gaby Gabs A lot,” especially if it has anything to do with freebies and saving money!

I was reading, “Valentine’s Day 2014,” and I just had to laugh at some of the things that were said because I can relate to them. I’m really not a fan of Valentines Day and never have been. In fact, my best V-Day was spent with my best friend when I was still single.

Seems now that I’m married there ultimately seems to be a fight that occurs on this day, but of course and it just stinks!

First I declared that I didn’t want to even participate in V-Day at all. Like the Frugal Diva herself, I don’t need the chocolates (my low-carb diet is already killing me, but that’s another story) or the flowers that will die (I swear mine die even faster than they should).

You would think he would be happy about this, but I think in his mind that even though I was saying I didn’t want to participate that I secretly did so if he didn’t do something then it would be yet another fight. Wait, did that make sense?

Men, generally speaking, women fall into two categories and you should know which one. We either swoon over the cliché and typical Valentines Day or we hate it. So take the time to know your woman and what will make her happy. Here are the things that we worked out and I am now looking forward to the dreaded V-Day for the first time in years.

Flowers – Instead of roses buy tulips, a plant or an herb. They last longer and they smell just as good. Rosemary, Sage and Lavender are all good choices.

Chocolates – Again, I’ve been killing myself on this diet (most women are always on a diet, sigh) and I don’t need any stinkin chocolates. But I would love some Starbucks! I will never say no to coffee; if I could get a caffeine IV drip, I would! I’m not the only one. If she doesn’t like coffee, get her tea. If fountain sodas are her thing, do that too. You get the idea.

Favorite things – Every girl has favorite things, two of mine happen to be Bath & Body

Works and candles. So buy the things you know she will love. In fact, Bath & Body Works is having one of their famous sales and it’s Buy 3, get 3 free. Retail Me Not has a great app for finding coupons for almost any store that you can access right on your smartphone. I recently started using it myself.

Household Items – There are some women that will have a complete meltdown if any sort of home appliance or bath room accessory is bought as a gift. I definitely do not fall into that category, although without a doubt, my best friend does. Please do redo my bathroom
cabinets or buy me a Keurig. Heck, I will even take a new vacuum or blender, even a new comforter. With age I have learned to appreciate these things.

The moral of the story? Guys, are you paying attention to your woman? We aren’t hard to figure out, we just want to know you are paying attention and know what we like. It took me years to convince my husband that I WANT BOOKS. He doesn’t like buying them  (or even a gift card) because he says that is not a proper gift. But if I love books and I want books why does he get to tell me it’s not a proper gift? Can you see how some of our arguments start? It’s totally his fault. Get her what she likes, even if you think it’s crazy.

Trust me, it’s just easier.

Now, I have to say, ladies, be fair and do the same for your man in return. I did buy him a bottle of cologne (because I liked the smell) but I also ordered him some things for the garage that he has been wanting but hasn’t bought for himself. Valentines Day is sold as a holiday for flowers and chocolate but it doesn’t have to be. Buy gifts that are more personable for the person you love. You don’t have to get it, or even agree, but it’s a good time to spoil the person you love and to make it count!

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Cash For Trash

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 29th, 2014

The Frugal Diva always wondered what you did with unwanted gift cards – Pep Boys and you don’t own a car, Wet Seal when you are over fifty, and Five Guys for vegetarians.  Here are some options from BeFrugal.com. founder and money saving expert Jon Lal. He shares the following frugal advice on cleaning out the clutter while cashing in on unneeded items.

Unused gift cards: To get rid of unwanted gift cards without losing out, simply use a legitimate website that buys and sells gift cards such as Cardpool. Before selling through Cardpool.com, first head over to coupons & cash back site BeFrugal.com and get money back on top of what you are selling the cards for. Rates can change today, but today you will get 4% Cash Back on sale of a Gift Card to Cardpool. Note that Cash Back is only available for the first $1000 in transactions from your Cardpool account (this includes all history in your Cardpool account).

Extra clothing: Why not clean out the clutter and cash in on last year’s fashion? Gently worn garments can be sold in consignment shops or online using eBay. Any item that does not sell in a consignment store or on eBay can be donated and you can save money with a tax write-off.

Old electronics: Sell unwanted electronic items to a site like Gazelle.com, BuyMyTronics.com, NextWorth.com or BuyBackWorld.com. These sites will pay you for gadgets you no longer use.

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Pop Your Cork

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 29th, 2014

The Frugal Diva cannot tell Two Buck Chuck from Chateau Lafite-Rothschild so it was up to my friends to inform me of this policy at many restaurants – free corkage. You bring the wine and they provide the glasses, you sip and they serve, you pay nothing and they stand by at your service. In an effort to brave the new realities of consumer spending, many restaurants allow patrons to bring in their own wine at no fee.

This is a great perk for those who have an extensive collection of wine or for those who just want to stop by a market and pick up a decent bottle for $8 to $12. Twelve dollars is just about what a  glass of wine goes for in many places and you will be getting four full glasses for the same price. When choosing restaurants for a night out this usually leads to a minimum savings of  about $50.

Opentable.com allows you to check out which restaurants are letting you bring wine at no charge.  Some like the Daily Grill only allow it on Tuesdays, others such as Roy’s have a changing policy, and Magnolia in Hollywood allows it anytime. On the Open Table left hand side they have free corkage and BYOB listing for restaurants in every city.  Policies change quickly so always call to verify before making a reservation.

Stop by Fresh & Easy on your way to dinner and find award winning bottles at great prices.   I pick wines, the same way I pick race horses-by their names.  So I was drawn to Pacific Coast Highway’s Chardonnay and took it when joining friends for dinner.  Everyone applauded my choice of this lovely white wine and no one guessed it came in under $10.  Unlike my choices at the track, this wine was a winner for price, quality, and remembering long wonderful rides up the coast when I first moved to LA.

Another plus about Fresh & Easy, you don’t have to negotiate through an huge store when in a hurry or high heels.

Disclaimer: Fresh and Easy sends The Frugal Diva occasional samples and gift cards plus her stepson works there as a buyer.

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Los Angeles Free Museum Day

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 22nd, 2014

In a joint effort to present the arts and culture to the diverse and myriad communities in Southern California, SoCal Museums (previously the Museum Marketing Roundtable) announces the ninth annual “Museums Free-For-All” Saturday, January 25, 2014. The museums–presenting art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science–will open doors and invite visitors free of charge. This offer is for general museum admission only and may not apply to special ticketed exhibitions. Regular parking fees apply; consult individual museum websites for hours and other visitor information.

Participated museums are as follows:

Annenberg Space for Photography
Armory Center for the Arts
The Autry National Center of the American West
California African American Museum
California Science Center
Fowler Museum at UCLA
The Getty Center
The Getty Villa (Timed tickets are required. Visit http://www.getty.edu.)
Hammer Museum
Japanese American National Museum
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial (Hollywood and San Pedro)
The Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Latin American Art
Orange County Museum of Art
Pacific Asia Museum
The Paley Center for Media
Pasadena Museum of California Art
Santa Monica Museum of Art
Skirball Cultural Center

SoCal Museums unites the diverse museums of Southern California in joint marketing and communication efforts to increase visitation and membership in museums in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. SoCal Museums leverages the museums’ collective strengths, working together to reach current and potential museum goers.

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H.D.Buttercup

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 7th, 2014

Maybe some people are less phobic about buying furniture then the Frugal Diva, maybe they know what they want right away.  While usually quick and decisive, furniture makes me quake in my discounted shoes. And why is that?  Well, this is a big purchase where you usually can’t return the item without a truck and at least one sturdy helper, that is if you can return it at all. Furnishings are more permanent then a Hollywood marriage, more indicative of your taste then the movies ordered from Netflix, and almost as costly as your car. This your statement to every guest – look at all my eco friendly sustainable wood, I love anything from the fifties,or antiques malls are my favorite vacation.

If I haven’t scared you to the point where wooded crates and a futon seem like a decorating plan, let me tell you about a fun place to learn what style suits you. H.D.Buttercup in Culver City houses over 20 manufacturers of varying genres and prices. You can stroll the vast space and learn a lot just by asking the very friendly and non pushy salespeople.  Now where is the bargain?  There are two ways to save here.hd-buttercup-chairs

The first is one of their twice yearly sales that is after Christmas and goes to January 17th and another around the 4th of July.  The whole store goes on sale (or almost all of it), including vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces.

The summer sale will feature 20%-70% off sofas, tables, lighting, chairs, artwork, rugs, linens, and more at the LA store. Stay tuned for the exact dates.

The second is the Backroom at H.D. Buttercup  across the street. This lower priced space gets both older merchandise and brand new merchandise sold at a lower price point.  They also have a mattress and bath store called Dream where a number of smaller items  like candles, home fragrances, rugs, etc. are all reasonably priced with a high-end look.

H.D. Buttercup is surrounded by other great shops and restaurants however Let’s Be Frank , the gourmet hot dog stand, is your best bet when saving up for furniture.

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Simple Solutions for Happier, Healthier Holidays

Posted by The Frugal Diva on December 20th, 2013

Guest blog by: +Elizabeth Lotts writer for Vitacost.com

Do you feel full just thinking about holiday feasts? Don’t you wish for a way to stay fit and healthy, despite all the “stuffing”? Well, put down the fork and pick up a pen, because we have all the dos and don’ts you’ll want to follow. With these tips added to the holiday agenda, the only thing you’ll feel full of is victory!

DO…Take advantage of time off from work to sleep more and exercise longer. The beauty of having a day or two off from work is that you don’t have to wake up for the 5:30 a.m. spin class. But it doesn’t mean you should slack off, either. In fact, use those extra hours to stay active throughout the whole day – just 10 minutes here and there will do.

DO…Find a local race to keep you motivated (and moving!) Fall typically brings the perfect weather for running. Regardless of your fitness level, this time of year is abuzz with holiday-themed events, particularly jingle bell 5Ks, charity bike rides and the like. Committing to an event will help ensure you don’t miss a workout. Besides, accomplishing your goals will help lift your spirits as the holiday hub-bub ensues.

Do…Substitute for simpler, better ingredients. Holiday cooking can be loaded with unnecessary saturated fat, sugar galore and mountains of salt. Trim the fat when you can by using coconut oil in place of butter. Try low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise in deviled eggs and potato salad. And skip the extra dash of salt, especially if dishes already contain sodium.

DON’T…Feel guilty about saying “no.” Some things are irresistible, especially when they’re homemade or involve family and friends. Unfortunately, not all temptations are worth their price. Even though you’re a social butterfly, you may not be able to make every holiday party you’re invited to. Don’t sweat it; there’s always next year. Same goes for Aunt Jo’s candied pecans. Dessert doesn’t have to be off-limits, but choose your favorite and stick to a single serving. You’ll be more satisfied choosing the things you really want instead of killing yourself trying to please everyone else.

DON’T…Let stress get the best of you. Cooking, decorating, wrapping, traveling, socializing…the list goes on. It can become overwhelming for anyone. But stressing can pack on the pounds and leave you moody and fatigued. Break the vicious cycle by scheduling time to focus on your own health. Exercise is a great place to start, because it boosts feel-good endorphins and helps you release any pent-up frustration.

DON’T…Underestimate calories in. Keep a food journal to track each morsel of mashed potatoes, so you can avoid overeating. Writing down what and how much you consume translates to mindful eating. This kind of practice can give you a greater appreciation for how food nourishes (or upsets) your body.

Isn’t the taste of victory sweet enough?

This article has been provided by the folks at Vitacost.com. They know that a healthy lifestyle is more than organic vitamins and natural supplements.  That’s why Vitacost.com offers essentials for your home, your baby, your pantry, your beauty routine – even your furry, four-legged friends! Since 1994, Vitacost.com has been taking the cost out of healthy living. Today, you can shop over 35,000 products from your computer, tablet or smartphone with just a click of a button. Shop for vitamins for nails, vitamins for skin, vitamins for hair and more.  Some might say Vitacost.com is the silver platter of healthy living – let them serve you. Vitacost.com is not affiliated with this blog and isn’t responsible for content outside of this article.

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Save Money during the Holidays Using your Smartphone

Posted by The Frugal Diva on December 13th, 2013

Don’t leave home without reading this guest post.

I made the decision not to participate in Black Friday this year because I wanted less stress. Although, this is slightly crazy because, this Christmas season I have six children to shop for and four of them are teenagers. That alone is going to cost a pretty penny and I haven’t even mentioned all the other family members that I have to buy for! With that in mind, I set up my smartphone so that it can help me save money and you can too by using the following apps.

Money Saving Apps

Amazon Price Check – Amazon by far is my favorite site of all-time no matter what day of the year it is so using the app during the holiday season is even more helpful. The app is updated constantly to let in-store shoppers know if they can get a better deal on Amazon.com and its millions of online merchants – by simply typing, scanning or snapping a product name into the app – which has been the case for me on several occasions.

PriceGrabber – This is another app that allows the user to compare prices across thousands of online merchants and local stores. And it also allows the user to compare prices and read product reviews and lastly displays merchant ratings as well so that you can make ensure you are shopping smart.

Shopular – This app provides access to coupons from popular store merchants such as Target, Walmart, Bath & Body Works, Kohls and more. In fact, an alert pops up in real-time when you are out shopping at any given store to make you aware of the best deals.

GiftIt – Shopping this time of year can cause even the calmest of humans to have an anxiety attack between spending an entire months payroll on gifts to trying to remember who needs what and the items you already bought and yet still need to pick up. This app takes away all that confusion by helping you to keep track of all your purchases so you don’t miss anyone or overspend on something twice.

TheFind – This app is the first of its kind to combine your online and offline shopping experiences into one. You can map out  your plan of attack at home in your pajamas and then access it later on your smartphone while you are out shopping. It scans barcodes, detects your location and shows the best stores nearby and best of all is the app is ad-free and free to use. You can sync your smartphone app to the website meaning, if you don’t want to make a purchase with your phone you can wait and make the purchase from your laptop at home.

BuyVia – This is another comparison shopping app that features local and online retailers that offer the best pricing on everything from shoes to laptops and in-between.

RedLaser – The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning RedLaser. This app is not too different from the others listed above as it compares prices, although it has been around a lot longer. But, the one special feature that I have found extra handy is that it helps while food shopping by assisting to avoid allergens in foods or special dietary needs – which helps with a daughter that has severe food allergies, a husband that is lactose intolerant and a father that is diabetic.

Utilizing one or more of these apps will help you to save money during the holiday season. Each of them is free for Android and iPhone users. If we missed one that you would recommend using, please comment and let us know! Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

Gabrielle Greene co-blogs on TipsOnHowToSaveMoney. Her friends often refer to her as “Gaby Gabs A lot,” especially if it has anything to do with freebies and saving money!

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Birthday Freebies

Posted by The Frugal Diva on December 9th, 2013

A Guest Post by Shannon Byrne in Free Offers

Ever wonder why every major restaurant chain has invented its own birthday song when “Happy Birthday to You” is literally the most recognizable song in the world? It’s not just because it’s hard for servers and patrons to clap along to – it’s because the proprietors want to avoid copyright infringement. That’s right: the 150 year old tune is still under copyright until at least 2030. (That’s also why you’ll seldom hear it in movies or TV shows, either.)

Even though you have to wait ‘til you get home to listen to the real birthday song, one birthday tradition only seems to be gaining strength … and it’s one we can totally get on board with – free birthday food! While you may be used to a free birthday dessert and serenade, the advent of Internet mailing lists (and companies’ desperation to get you to join theirs) have increased the popularity of free birthday treats tenfold, and we’re letting you in on all the best birthday freebie secrets.

Tips for Redeeming Birthday Freebies

Sign up now for the email lists, even if your birthday is months away. Some require membership on their email list for at least a month before they’ll relinquish the coupon. Depending on the list, you may get coupons for free stuff more often than just your birthday, too.

And don’t think that the only night you can redeem your freebie is on your actual birthday. Check the coupon – many are valid for a whole week or even the month.

One more tip: Don’t try to beat the system and just print a copy of someone else’s coupon. Most restaurant systems are savvy enough to catch a duplicate coupon.

Check out their list of birthday freebies at this link. If you can’t find info for a merchant you love, let them know in the comments and they will try to find one for you.

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Food Shopping on a Budget

Posted by The Frugal Diva on December 3rd, 2013

A very helpful guest post for supermarket strategy

Looking to trim some bucks from your grocery shopping bill? Here are a few easy ways to save money at the supermarket.

Sign up for Rewards Cards. Pretty much every store offers a free loyalty program. These programs not only give you discounts on select items at the store each week, they can also lead to additional savings throughout the year. For example, the Giant supermarket chain in the Washington, DC region mails coupons to their Rewards members based on the items they’ve purchased in the past, along with dollars off total order coupons.

Clip Coupons. Clipping coupons are quite the craze these days. There are even television shows dedicated to people who save hundreds of dollars with coupons. You don’t have to go to that extreme to save some bucks on your food bill.

Focus on the items that you know you need to buy and clip coupons from your Sunday newspaper inserts for those products. If you don’t get the Sunday paper, consider signing up for a subscription. The money you save from the coupons would more than offset the cost of the subscription. Or, you can ask a friend or neighbor to pass along their paper when they’re finished with it. If getting an actual copy of the paper is not an option, some coupons are available online for printing.  Good sites to check out are: http://www.redplum.com/ and http://www.smartsource.com/

Shop on the right day. Grocery stores want your business and to get it, they’re offering special discounts to certain groups. For example, Harris Teeter offers 5% savings every Tuesday for adults 60 and older. Select Kroger and Publix stores offer seniors up to 10% off when you shop on certain days. Check with your local stores to see if they participate in the discounts.

Skip the Brand Names. Many stores carry their own line of products. These private label items are often much cheaper than the brands you see advertised on television, and in many cases, of equal quality. From pasta and frozen vegetables, to sugar and cheese, you can save a good amount by skipping the popular brands and opting for the less expensive store-branded items.

Read the Price Tags. When we’re shopping we typically look at the price of an item and move on. But there’s another number we should pay even more attention to than the price—the price per ounce or pound. This amount is typically found on the left side of the price tag on the shelf.

Most people believe that the biggest box/can/jar is the best deal, but to truly determine that, you need to look at the price you’re paying per ounce or pound. There are times when the smaller box might be the better buy.

Who couldn’t use some extra cash, especially at this time of year? Follow these simple steps and start saving on your weekly bill today.

This article is written by  + Stu Lieberman the writer for Nutri-Health.com, an online High Quality Supplement and Health Store.  Assisting people and helping them find quality supplements and health products online is what Stu has been doing for over 2 years.  Nutri-Health.com carries Digestive Supplements to Probiotics to Joint Health.

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Black Friday Shopping & Safety Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on November 15th, 2013

Today’s guest post is by Gabrielle Greene who co-blogs on TipsOnHowToSaveMoney. Her friends often refer to her as “Gaby Gabs A lot,” especially if it has anything to do with freebies and saving money!

Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching and Black Friday shopping is right on its heels. And, this year, the deals are starting even earlier with some retail stores opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

There are two types of people those that love Black Friday and those that hate it! If you fall into the group that loves it and is counting down the days, this post is for you. Below are shopping tips as well as safety tips while shopping.

Black Friday Shopping Tips

  1. Preparation makes the difference – Without a plan, you will get lost in the crowd. Most major retailers have already released their Black Friday in-store specials, so start your research online and outline out a plan. Sites such as TheBlackFriday.com or GotADeal.com to check the best deals. These sites can be extremely helpful before even leaving your home and joining the shopping madness that awaits you.
  2. Use Email Alerts – Stay ahead of the curve with your favorite stores by using e-mail alerts offered by most retailers. Shoppers can see what products are available, which ones are online only or need to be picked up at the store or perhaps if there is free shipping offered.
  3. Social Media is your Friend – Monitoring your favorite retailers on Social Media can also prove helpful because companies commonly offer extra incentives and discounts for liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter.
  4. Smartphone Savvy – Before you pull out of the driveway make sure your smartphone is armed and ready to provide you with key shopping information by downloading a few apps such as – RedLaser and ShopSavvy. The apps help you to compare prices while you are out shopping. Several stores suspend price-match guarantees on Black Friday but try asking for one anyway!
  5. Budget. Budget. Budget. – It goes without saying that the most important part of Black Friday shopping is to save money so create a budget and stick to it!

Black Friday Safety Tips

This year shoppers will be out and abound earlier than any other year and your personal safety is most important from criminals as well as just navigating the crowd.

  1. Avoid being alone if at all possible. And, avoid purchasing more than you can carry.
  2. It was only a few years ago that a man was trampled to death on Black Friday, in New York. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Wear comfortable footwear, such as sneakers, so that you are safe on any type of flooring, whether it be tile or hardwood floor. If the weather is bad that day – depending on where you live – the flooring can be wet and slippery.
  3. Carry your purse close to your body to deter pickpockets and keep your wallet separate.
  4. Before exiting the store, have your keys out and in your hand so that you aren’t fumbling at the car with an arm full of merchandise trying to find them.
  5. Do not leave any packages visible to people passing by your vehicle. Keep them in the trunk if possible.
  6. It may not be an ideal option but try to leave small kids home. If that isn’t an option and you are taking children, keep them close by and if they are old enough, make sure you have a central meeting place.

This post is not meant to be an exhaustive list of tips but rather touches on some of the most important helpful shopping tips and safety measures that shoppers should consider before leaving their home. Happy Shopping & deal hunting!

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