What's it all about?

It's a little about me and my five sugar cubes.
Never a dull moment.
Sit down, buckle up and enjoy the ride....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm not cheap, I'm a "Frugalista"

Not until lately has it been so cool to be "cheap".. If a tanking economy is what it takes for people to wake up and stop wasting money, that's great.

I love to save money. Who doesn't? Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be born with the "gift of thrift".. My mom used to tell people that she could send me to the mall with $20 and I would come home with 2 outfits and change.  I've always had the ability to spot deals. Not to mention, later in life, I worked retail, in the sales field and behind the scenes as a buyer, so I knew what the markup was on most things.. RIDICULOUS.. I do not like to pay full price for anything.

When I had disposable income, I never went without, but rarely did I buy things that weren't discounted. I spent what I wanted, put 10% of my pay in savings, but never thought about "budgeting" my money, or even really preparing for the future. Aside from my father's subtle attempts to stress the importance of the 401k (which I ignored,  because then I would have less money to spend on clothes and shoes) I really didn't have guidance about money or saving or planning for the future.  When I met Mike, he was financially stable because he adhered to a budget. This was foreign to me. I had used Quicken on my computer, mainly because it was fun to hear that "flushing" sound when I entered my receipts, but never set aside specific money for food, clothing, entertainment, etc... I had money and I spent money, and I saved a little. I was doing good- or so I thought. Then Mr "Financially Responsible" comes along, and put things in a whole new perspective. I would shop sales, and look for discounts, but never did I ask people for a further discount (save the time I was in Mexico on Spring Break and tried my hand at bartering..). Well, Mike didn't hesitate to ask people to "sharpen their pencil". I was so embarassed the first time we went shopping at Penney's and he asked the clerk "is that the best you can do?" I was like "SERIOUSLY? Did you just ask a retail salesperson for a discount? You're not buying a car!" Guess what? The girl gave him an additional % off. JUST FOR ASKING!!! I admired that. I knew I wanted him with me the next time I bought anything. I really thought that question was reserved for the car lot. Silly me. He's done it with everything, and you would be surprised how many people will give him more off. What surprises me about this whole thing is, sometimes he will NOT ask for a discount, and when I question him, he will explain that he thought the price was fair. (I guess JC Penney's price was NOT FAIR?... sorry hon).

Anyway, before you start asking what my point is (see my prior posts), I have been asked to share some tips on saving money. There are a billion and one websites out there that help, and I have not even BEGUN to scratch the surface of what some of those sites consider "saving", but I think I do a good job for myself and my family. We are able to be a one income family, we don't dress like hobo's (not that there is anything wrong with that), we eat healthy, and don't need much. (Although, I'm wanting a front yard and back yard right now- but that's not much though, right?!? Oh, and a new TV, and some new clothes, and shoes- my favorite boots are starting to show wear, and a pedicure b/c it's flip season..and..and..and........and I keep reminding myself that those are "wants" not "needs"..)
Moving right along....

I tried Coupon Sense - great concept, but I wasn't crazy about stockpiling 130 boxes of Cheez-its and 95 bottles of Suave shampoo. Even if it they were free. And I'm not a big fan of going to multiple stores to shop. I do draw the line at some things. (I already shop Fry's, Trader Joe's and Costco). I do ♥LOVE♥ their blog and have gotten a TON of tips there. For example- Tropicana OJ- if you sign up for their reward program  you can get coupons for a BOGO. Pair that with a coupon from the paper- like a $1.50 off 2 and a sale price (Fry's has it on sale for 2.88 right now) and you end up getting 2 OJ's for a little more than $.60 each. I know it sounds confusing, and I am nowhere near the expert, but I am learning how to maximize savings and am enjoying it so much. I scored on diapers at CVS the other day- pair a sale price with coupons and get Extra Bucks back, then use EB + coupon + sale price for the next transaction and I got diapers for next to nothing. Stacking coupons has got to be the best trick ever. If something is on sale for buy one get one free, most people think that's a deal. BUT what if you have two coupons for those items? You can use a coupon on each item, plus it's on sale for bogo. Badabing-badabogo, you got a smokin' deal. I also tend to do big grocery spends when they have coupon specials. Fry's always doubles coupons (*random mid sentence thought* do you say Q-pons? Or coo-pons? I say either, depending on my mood), and sometimes (like now) Fry's has ALL COO-pons are worth $1. Very good deal.

Other sites that I found to be useful are Money Saving Mom and hip 2 save. Also, did you know that Bed Bath & Beyond takes their own expired coupons? NEVER EVER EVER throw out a Q-pon from them. You can also use more than one per transaction. I've used one for each item, although some stores have a limit of 8. Usually the salespeople will help you figure out which is a better deal, the $5 off $15 or the 20%. I always have a thick stack of discounts for them.

Another great idea is to sign up for reward programs, or emails from companies that usually don't have a lot of coupons in the paper (Earth's Best, Horizon Organic). I have also gotten FREE food coupons for just writing a company and telling them that I like their products. People want to get products into your home, you'd be surprised how much they will give to have you try.

I could go on and on about saving. I'll save you the reading. I'm sure you have more important things to do than read my blaahhhhg all night. If you take anything away from this, know that usually there is a better deal out there, don't be afraid to ask, and it's good to be thrifty. That doesn't always mean that you are a cheapskate. Consider yourself a "Wise Frugalista". I do.

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