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Super Bowl Savings Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 16th January 2013

When did the Super Bowl become a national holiday?  It seems like you must be either attending a party or throwing a party to not be considered a total social reject. Here are some great ideas for savings.

Super Bowl tips from coupon site BeFrugal.com founder Jon Lal:

If you are throwing a party:

o Use an online service like Eventrbrite for free invitations & tickets.

o Go with a potluck style party – where attendees each bring a dish – to reduce the expense of throwing a party.

o Purchase supplies like decorations and paper plates in advance. Plan ahead and buy them online from a store like Party City, Target, Walmart, CVS or Walgreens so you can double dip your savings by using a promo code plus earn cash back! For any last minute party needs, check a weekly ad online before heading to the store so you know what is on sale, and don’t forget to use a grocery coupon.

· When purchasing game day gear and buying a new TV, be sure to make your purchase online so you can use a promo code plus earn cash back. If you are using BeFrugal’s CouponomaticTM browser add-on, there’s no need to search for a promo code. When you reach the checkout stage at 3000+ online stores a drop down list of coupon codes will magically appear to help you save.

If you want to travel to the big game:

o Use an online tool to see what’s the best transit method. The free Fly or Drive calculator compares the time, cost and carbon emissions to get from one area to another.

o Book online so you can get immediate savings from using a promo code plus get cash back (a portion of your spending) deposited in a free account for you).

o Book early as prices will increase as the date gets closer (with the exception of very last minute travel).

o Accrue rewards or points for free membership of travel companies. It only takes a minute and signing up is free with most travel providers.

o If you are 50+, ask about a senior discount when you book travel. Some senior discounts are offered for folks as young as 50. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

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When to Splurge & What to Save Money on for Your Pets

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 19th September 2012

Today we have a guest post from Jeffrey O’Brien who blogs about food and entertainment. When he is not writing about the latest and greatest, he is hiking or fishing in Howard County, Iowa.

Americans have a love affair with their pets. So much so that in 2011 they were willing to drop over $50 billion on pet needs. Almost two-thirds of the spending was on basics: food and medical bills. Services for pets made up almost $4 billion of the splurging. The other third went to toys, accessories, and beds. Why not let them sleep on your comfy mattress from Sleepys.com instead of spending money on their own. As both families and their pets get older, this particular service segment is expected to grow in 2012, increasing spending overall.

The spending begs the question how much is enough? There are plenty of areas for saving, but some make more sense than others.

Potential Savings

Training is a big service cost that many pet owners will pay just to get some peace of mind. That puppy or kitten is so cute when it first comes home, but six months later when the $10,000 couch is destroyed, it’s another story. Because we tend to be a convenience society, we want quick solutions. So we pay people to train us to care for our pets. With a bit of studying and researching, many owners can learn what’s needed to self-train. That alone saves $25 to $50 an hour for training sessions at a minimum (private lessons reach $100 an hour).

Toys are a cheap, addicting expense, especially if an owner takes his pet with him to the pet store, which many now allow. Keep in mind, dogs especially and cats will stick their nose in everything new; it doesn’t mean they want that toy! But we think they do, so we buy them. Savings are easy here; buy the cheapest toy possible. If it squeaks and rolls, good enough, doggy or kitty will be more than happy with something new. They don’t care if it came from the 99 cent bin either.

Cleaning supplies in the form of cat litter and puppy pads are necessities which add up over time. The big box stores tend to have the best discount deals for bulk purchasing, allowing a pet owner to save up to 30 or 40 percent on retail cost. They also have good pricing on dog chew toys, pet beds, and bulk pet food. Alternatively, a pet owner can save further money on his dog or cat by letting them sleep on his own mattresses or floors rather than a distinct pet bed.

Pet daycare has become a hit service for pet owners, but it costs a pretty penny. If you like to see your dog running around with other dogs, find a dog park in your area. Dog parks are popping up as cities are finding they are good resources for spending tax dollars on recreation. Dog parks are far cheaper to use, your dog is happy as can be, and most parks tend to be free to use.

Potential Splurging

Yes, there’s a lot of cheap pet food out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best, healthy option for the ol’ pooch. For a long, healthy life in a pet, the best food mixes tend to be a better path. A bit more in food spending could save hundreds or thousands in vet bills later on in the pet’s life. Cheaper foods tend to include a significant amount of filler material that is eventually unhealthy. More expensive brands tend to have direct, organic food components which digest far better.

When working with a vet, the right pet care is essential. With a serious condition, trying to go cheap could permanently disable a pet or worse when treating a condition. However, directly paying vet bills can be expensive. For example, an eye scratch in a dog with surgery and drugs can run upwards of $2,500. So consider pet insurance to lessen the financial hit. Still pay for good care, but with an insurance plan you can offset some of the bigger hits at least partially. In some cases, the insurance can cover as much as 40 or 50 percent of treatment cost.

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A Pantry Makeover: Get Healthy, Save Money

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 21st August 2012

Clean Out Your Pantry, for Better Health and Savings!

This is a guest post from the folks at Vita Cost who help you get healthy and save money with a Pantry Makeover.

Toppled bottles, expired cans, scattered remnants of a bag of rice that fell on its side. We’ve all been there. After months of hurried meal making, rummaging kids and intentions to eat well falling by wayside—your pantry is a mess. You’ve got stuff you’ll never use, stuff that’s stale and stuff you may not even be able to identify.

Cleaning out food cabinets every once in awhile isn’t just necessary for sanity’s sake, or to keep bugs at bay. It’s also a great way to get back on track with healthy eating habits—and to shave a little off your family’s food bill. Staying organized helps prevent waste, which can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Roll up your sleeves, slide the trash can close to the door and follow these simple steps for a budget-friendly, healthy pantry makeover:

Clear the Way
First, remove everything from your pantry shelves. Glance at labels as you do, and toss anything that’s expired or has a funky smell. Divide what’s left into two piles: things you know you’ll use in the (near) future and things you’re pretty sure you won’t. Chances are if it’s been stacked in the back since last Thanksgiving, you should get rid of it. Donate these items to a food pantry or soup kitchen.

Make It Shine
Skip the harsh (and expensive!) cleaning solutions. Make your own wood-shelf cleaner by filling a spray bottle with ½ cup water, ½ cup vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Add six drops of essential oil for scent, if you’d like. Shake well, spray shelves and wipe with a soft cloth until clean.

Makeover Time!
Before you start lining up spice jars and arranging cereal boxes by height—stop. Take a good look at what your family is eating. Are smiling cartoon characters dancing on your cracker boxes? Do you have enough canned soup to survive a month-long power outage?

Start weeding out unhealthy staples and snacks, replacing them with whole, unprocessed foods that actually nourish rather than harm health. For example, trade white rice for brown; vegetable oil for olive or canola; processed peanut butter for natural. Avoid anything with “hydrogenated” on the label, and always buy fresh and frozen over canned.

While healthier foods can be more expensive, you’ll find great discounts at online health food retailers such as Vitacost.com. You can also buy in bulk, watch for sales, use coupons and sign up for emails from (or “like” the Facebook page of) your favorite natural food brands, which may offer exclusive deals for subscribers and fans.

Get Organized
Ever open a snack package, stick it back in the cabinet and forget it exists until it’s no longer edible? Of course you have. The best way to avoid food waste is to keep things well sealed, clearly labeled and easily accessible. Buy a variety of large glass jars or canisters and BPA-free plastic storage containers, and label them with permanent marker or decorative tags. When you buy something—say, a bag of whole wheat flour—dump it in, seal the container and place it with similar items on the shelf.

Once you’re used to labeling foods, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to start. Just like your entire pantry makeover—stop putting it off, you’ll feel fantastic when it’s done!

This article has been provided by the folks at Vitacost.com. Vitacost.com has been selling discount vitamins since 1994. Since then it’s grown into one of the biggest online marketplaces for healthy living essentials-with vitamins and supplements being just one of their many helpful categories! Get the best price on vitamins, nutritional supplements, health foods and diet products. Want to read about chia seeds benefits or just want some green cleaning tips Vitacost is the place for you. Vitacost.com’s customers mean the world to them, and it’s their goal to provide you with the best nutritional supplements, natural foods and sports nutrition to help with your health and wellness. Vitacost.com is not affiliated with this blog, and isn’t responsible for content outside of this article.

By: +Rebecca Chopin writer for Vitacost.com

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Finding the Best Back to School Clothing Deals!

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 15th August 2012

Today we have a guest post from Jason DeCosta who writes about shopping and parenting.

Although the beginning of the academic school year can prove an unwelcome jostling to most kid’s peace of mind, parents relish in the back to school sales. Adding to the laundry list of necessary items for back to school season – books, pens, and folders – many parents scramble to locate the best deals on back to school clothes for their kids. This article will outline some general strategies to employ alongside some specific stores to frequent in order to locate the most affordable, highest quality back to school clothes.

Mailing Lists
Identifying one’s favorite clothing store and subscribing to that store’s mailing list might be the most prudent way to capitalize on back to school clothing deals. Sometimes the choice of store is almost chosen for parents because only certain stores carry, say, the right uniform or in vogue pair of jeans. At any rate, mailing lists can usually be found both online and in stores. The beauty of being on a mailing list is that you have a good chance of becoming the first parent on the block to be informed on back to school deals on clothes, school accessories, and backpacks.

Coupons
As an adjunct to traditional mailing lists, parents might opt to look online or in stores for coupons on children’s clothes. Although quite similar to online mailing lists, coupons found online can apply to individual items and alert parents beforehand to upcoming sales. There are some helpful websites out there – like Coupons.com – that cater to just this kind of parental need. One would simply go on a site like Coupons.com, enter one’s location and favorite stores, and voila: instant savings on back to school clothes. Another effective strategy, perhaps less planned and more desperate than subscribing to a mailing list, is to enter the name of one’s favorite store alongside keywords like “savings” or “coupons” into a search engine and see what materializes. This is really a wildcard option but the payoff can be tremendous!

Free Shipping?

Most vendors savor this time of the year because it affords them the opportunity to generate revenue while moving clearance items. That said, the best deals can often be found online! Online retailers, like Target.com or Walmart.com, and broad purveyors of back to school merchandise, like Amazon.com, often provide free shipping on already discounted back to school items as further incentive to shop with them. Especially as regards the three sites in the last sentence, parents can actually do all of their back to school shopping – including clothes and school supplies – from an omnibus online retailer while paying zero dollars in shipping!

Search Engine Shopping!
Search engines like google.com are not only places to squander time researching. In fact, sites like google are increasingly being used to pinpoint the best deals on apparel. From the main menu of top of the google homepage, parents would be wise to select shopping, enter the piece of clothing that they need most for their kids, or perhaps the items that their kids need most from their parents, and then filter the results by price. Oftentimes there can be a disparity of double the cost of the item, say a girl’s top or boy’s Converse shoes, between items of identical make and quality! As an added bonus many of the yielded items will be free shipping!

This article has investigated the ways in which parents can save the most time, money, and energy while purchasing back to school clothes for their kids. All of the listed options have included some online component. Actually all parents interested in saving money on back to school clothes should explore online shopping options. With perks like free shipping and optimized searching, why not?

Jason DeCosta writes about shopping, parenting & finding the most affordable dental insurance quotes.

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6 Super Secrets for Saving on School Supplies

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 13th August 2012

Today we have a guest post from Melissa Collarson
When it’s time for the kids to go back to school, moms feel the big hit on the pocketbook with all the school clothes, supplies, and accessories for that first day back. Even though spending money is great for our economy, there needs to be some kind of budget and way to save on all those expensive items you have to purchase to go back to school. Below are 6 great secrets for saving some money on school supplies and accessories.

School Lists
Most schools give your child a list of things they need to get. Parents often go out and buy plenty of school supplies while they are on sale before they get this list which can actually cost you more money. Wait for your child’s list to come out and stick to only buying what’s on the list and nothing more. If you buy ahead of time, you may buy things your child won’t even need. You can find some really cool deals for “hip” school supplies at dollar and thrift stores.

New Clothes
Kids consider new clothes a part of their school supplies. Kids don’t need a new wardrobe just because schools in session. Your kid’s clothes didn’t disappear from a month ago and they can wear what they have been wearing those first days back to school. If your child needs a new pair of shoes or jeans, get those things as opposed to things they probably don’t need yet. Winter will be just around the corner and you will be buying new clothes then. Save now, buy later.

Sales
Take advantage of the back to school sales you see. If your kids go through a bunch of wide ruled paper, get it when you see it on sale. Crayons, notebooks, backpacks and lunch boxes will go on sale plenty of places before school starts for just about nothing and that’s the time to get out and get them. Don’t buy things on sale your child doesn’t normally use just because it’s on sale.

Last Years Supplies
Go through all the supplies you bought last year and see if you have things that are still usable. Rulers, a good calculator, binders that never got used and file folders are all things you won’t have to buy if you still have plenty. Save where you can save.

No Tax Weekend
Some states offer a weekend that you don’t pay taxes on any type of school supplies, clothing, computers and more. Take advantage of this tax free weekend so you can save a lot of money. If your child is going to college and you need to buy tons of dorm supplies and a laptop, the savings can be amazing just not paying a tax.

New Look
Let your child use some of their old things but pizzazz them up with a new look! What about that book bag that’s not so bad but could use some changing up or the book covers and lunchbox? Let your child get out some glitter and stickers and decorate them up to personalize them with their name or school mascot symbols. It’s a unique way to make things look great and have it very personal to your child.

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to be as expensive as it seems to be. Use a few of these smart tips above and save lots of money when going back to school.

Melissa Collarson writes about finance, parenting & finance finding cheap dental insurance.

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