Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Money Saving Tips

I shared with you a couple of tips for getting financially healthy - put away the credit cards or hand them over to someone else and unsubscribe from temptation emails. For me, those emails were J. Crew, Gap, Pottery Barn, West Elm, etc. Just know this - with Gap and J. Crew, there will always be a sale. Seriously, their stuff is in constant rotation and you can usually score 20-40% off on any given day. So if you are really needing those Super Skinny Jeans and that blinged out tissue tee, just access the store's website when you need something. But pay cash! No I don't mean hold your $20 bill up to the computer and wish for cybersuction. Use a debit card. If you are Target-paranoid (that should be a new dictionary term), use your credit card but then go onto the credit card's website and immediately make a payment for the amount just charged. Don't wait for the bill to arrive - pay that sucker immediately or you're more likely to spend the cash on something else.

Want more? Do your own freggin' nails. I don't know about you but I've been getting some pretty lazy pedicures. I hate coming out of a salon with freshly painted toes that look good but are still dirty under the nail bed. Half-assed pedicures are just not worth my $20+. So I grab an elongated plastic container, fill with soapy water, and soak in front of the TV. Ahhh. Nice warm water and a good show. And no unnecessary broken English conversations that go something like this, "Do you have kids?" "No." "Where you live?" "Tampa." "You like it there?" "Yes." And done.  You can purchase all the necessary supplies once from Sally's or Walmart and dig and chop and shape til you feel pampered. Paint your toes, speed up the drying time with your blowdryer, and repeat as many times as you want during the week or month.

Coupon. Yes, sit at your dining room table and cut coupons Sunday morning. Take advantage of the Bogo deals at your grocery store. I shop at Publix. They accept competitor coupons so I can take printed Target coupons and those weird bulk store coupons for $5 off $40 purchase. But I also check out Walgreens and CVS circulars. I have a Diet Coke habit. Me lovey diet soda. I don't have a coffee habit. I have a soda habit. It's my vice that I'm not giving up. Publix usually doesn't have as great of deals on soda that the drug stores do. Same with toilet paper and paper towels. The rule I like to follow is to use a coupon when the item is on sale for maximum savings.

Cook in bulk. If I'm cooking a pasta dish, I'll double or triple the recipe so that I can freeze leftovers. I'm the cook in the family. Hubby will start dinner if I give explicit instructions, but for the most part, it's on me to cook. So when I'm feeling tired, like I have been lately, I'll take something down from the freezer the night before and let it thaw in the fridge. Tonight we had a veggie alfredo dish with a side of MORE veggies and some bread I heated in the oven. It took 15 minutes to prepare, which allowed me time to blog and do my tootsies.

Sign up for restaurant emails. I get emails from Pei Wei and PF Changs and often take advantage of their specials. I can go a few different ways home from work and one of the ways takes me past Pei Wei. I have two coupons for Bogo meals and we will take full advantage of it tomorrow night. I typically order Veggie Lo Mein and Honey Seared Shrimp with extra veggies and extra shrimp. For under $15, hubby and I have a nice Chinese meal (better than some expensive not-so-good Chinese fast food near the house) and typically lunch the next day. And takeout at your favorite restaurant will always be cheaper than dining in. This Valentine's Day we plan to pick up a gourmet pizza and play with the kitchen torch on crème brulee while we gaze lovingly into each other's eyes.

Adjust your thermostat. This mostly applies to my Southern peeps or for those living in a 2-story with two A/C units. It could be 39 degrees one day during the winter months in FL and then jump to 80 the next day. Florida's weather is all over the place. If we are running the A/C, I'll turn the A/C up before I leave the house in the morning for the upstairs. Since hubby works from home, we keep the thermostat set at a comfortable level for him downstairs. There's just no need to run the A/C full force when only the bottom part of our house is being used during the day. Same thing goes for lights. Turn them off when you leave a room! You heard your parents - now listen to them you little energy wasters.

Conserve gas. I have a long commute. I drive 35 miles one way to work four days/week. I'm constantly filling up my tank. There's not much I can do about it except get gas in Pinellas county where the gas is cheaper or near my house further inland from the highway where it tends to be cheaper as well.  I lost my Winn Dixie card so I don't take advantage of the rewards but I'm not a fan of shopping at Winn-Dick-Me, so that's a moot point. I used to leave work every day at lunch and go run errands or just do mindless shopping. I rarely do that anymore. I pack my lunch, surf the net, figure out ways to save money or work on my budget plan at lunch now.  Even just going to Target, which was seven miles away from work, wastes 14 miles of gas. If I need something, I'll typically go on the weekends or stop closer to home. There's a Publix one mile from my house.

Do your own hair. I've done this before. I've done my own gray roots. I had a Sally's card to save money on products and while I lived in Connecticut, I did my own roots and highlights. I killed the back of my hair with the highlights, but the roots were pretty good. I even had hubby help me with the roots a few times. We would call him "Antonio" and he would speak in a foreign accent. Yeah, we're weird. Next time you go get your roots done, watch how your stylist parts your hair and how she applies the product. Ask her what "level" your color is. I'm currently a level 8 (light blond) with 20% volume developer. Typically developer and color are mixed in a 2:1 ratio. Two parts developer to one part color. Buy a plastic bowl and application brush, section your hair, hang a mirror on the wall in your bathroom so you can see the back of your head and apply. Leave on 35 minutes and save $50! I don't do this anymore since I budget for my hair color once a month but I may resort to it again.

Prime your face. Invest in primer. I use Hourglass Veil. It's very smooth and goes on like liquid talc powder. If you use an expensive foundation like I do (Dior, which I buy once a year for $50), the primer will cut down on the amount of foundation you need. And on the note of makeup - you don't need "makeup" brushes. I find art store brushes work better than those specifically sold as makeup brushes. My eyeliner brush is a very fine art brush (18/0) that gives a much better wing than anything MAC sells. I bought mine at a scrapbook store when I went with my sister last year. Michael's is a good place, too. Then you can use a 40% off coupon!

And finally - sell your clothes on eBay or consign them. eBay may give you a better return since you don't have to give the consignment store their 40% cut. I plan to list a bunch of items that just don't work with my lifestyle anymore (or my 10lb weight gain). So get ready! Lots of good stuff going up on eBay this weekend.

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  1. Can't wait for eBay! I agree with the unsubscribing from the emails. I don't want to unsubscribe because I do like to score the occasional deal on a treat for me piece, but I delete them without even looking at the subject line 99% of the time. All of these are great tips.

  2. Good tips! My nemesis was hautelook.. gawd, I had to unsubscribe that their emails.


  3. That's right. I totally agree because those aren't just money-saving measures, but appliance-saving measures as well. Appliances can easily break down due to overuse. They can stop being effective, or simply ruin their internal machinery through time and continued use. That is particularly important for A/Cs, since those are what you have to unleash the most when the weather is scorching hot. Use your appliances wisely and efficiently for them to function efficiently. Thanks for sharing!

    Shelley Coday @ C & C Heating & Air Conditioning

  4. Great tips, Niki! It’s unfortunate how some people tend to ignore these little schemes to save up. I’m sure it will make a huge difference once one manages to follow them consistently. Adjusting your thermostats, for one, can help save in the heating bills. Not that I’m against the use of AC, but one could opt for solar screens or invest on fans to bring some breeze inside the house, instead of relying on an AC unit entirely.

    Tommy Hopkins @ AccuTemp