Frugal

Frugal Living – The Miracle of Paint


It doesn’t matter whether you are young and just starting out in life or whether you are older and focused on saving for retirement, if you’ve been shopping for furniture lately, you’ve noticed the big dollar amounts on all the price tags.  Even a relatively plain dining room chair can cost nearly a hundred dollars!  Is it really necessary to pay such steep prices for furniture and accessories or is there another way to affordable furniture?

For those do-it-yourselfers and those interested in frugal living, a can of paint or wood stain might end up being your best friend.  If you need furniture, whether it is a bed frame, nightstand, dining room chair or plant stand, consider going to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill store to find some really interesting and eclectic pieces.  Craigslist and local garage sales are also great places to find some cool pieces of furniture or other accessories at rock bottom prices.

Many people have furniture items they no longer need or they have pieces with a scratch here or a stain there and they don’t have the time or the knowledge to make the proper repairs.  It really isn’t that difficult to learn how to paint or use stain to restore wood items to their original glory.  Furniture refinishing can be as simple as painting an item and leaving all the dings in place for the “shabby chic” look or sanding down the entire piece, using wood filler to fill in the holes and then staining or painting to make the piece look like new again.

Often it is the unique, older pieces of furniture that really help to make a house a home.  There is also the sense of accomplishment that one receives after taking something that was once destined for a landfill and restoring it to its former beauty.  An expense of $30 or so in refinishing supplies is a small price to invest in a piece of furniture that is just right for your home.   

Go Frugal With Discounted Gift Cards

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How would you like to get a discount on almost every purchase you make?  One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and for every person who has unwanted gift cards, there is someone like you who would like to buy that unwanted card at a discount that is sometimes quite substantial.

Gift Card Granny is a one-stop shopping place for people looking to sell unwanted gift cards and frugal people looking to save on everything ranging from dinner at their favorite restaurant to appliances at Sears.  Gift Card Granny lists thousands of gift cards from a multitude of vendors who offer discounted cards for sale.  For the more popular stores such as Walmart, the discounted cards may offer just a few percentage points off the price of a regular gift card.  However, for other gift cards, it is not unusual to see them available for sale at well over 20%.

For those who like to shop online, many of the discounted “gift cards” are simply e-codes you buy which are then sent to your email.  After you receive the e-code you simply use the discounted e-code and PIN number to complete your purchase at your favorite online store.  Gift Card Granny also lists companies that mail out physical gift cards.  Most of the companies offer free shipping.  For the other companies who do charge a nominal fee for shipping, Gift Card Granny will list the shipping fee.

Like anything else, it must become a habit to make most of your purchases with a discounted gift card.  Initially, you might even forget you have a discounted card and pay with your credit card as usual.  But once you get into the habit of using gift cards as payment, you will actually find it loathsome when you have to pull out cash or a credit card and pay full price for an item.  Great bargains are only a few finger clicks away for frugal shoppers who make their way to Gift Card Granny.

The Frugal Folks Guide to Eating Out


This post does contain affiliate links

The most efficient way to save a few bucks is by eating in. However, this can become dull fairly quickly. If you need to keep it frugal, you may feel like cooking at home is your only option. However, this isn’t entirely true. Here are some things you can do to cut down on the cost of eating out.

Skip the Drinks

Soda at a restaurant can run you as much as $2.50 a cup. By skipping the soda you can save that $2.50 per person and get all the health benefits of drinking water. If you must have a sweet drink, try keeping your fridge stocked at home or share a soda with a friend and split the cost.

Discount Gift Cards

Websites like Raise can help you save a dollar or two by selling you discounted gift cards to some of your favorite restaurants. These gift cards are sometimes sold for as much as 25% off. If you buy those Raise gift cards through TopCashback you can save even more through cash back.

Groupon and Living Social

By using crowd-sharing sites such as Groupon and Living Social you can discover some great local food spots and save a bundle. Save even more by waiting around for discount codes (sometimes as much as 25% off) and purchasing discounted gift cards for Groupon via Raise.

Restaurant.com

Restaurant.com is another great way to save some money on local eateries. Just make sure you read the fine print before buying anything. You can save a bit more by purchasing discounted gift cards for Restaurant.com via Raise.

Survey Sites

By using survey sites and apps such as Swagbucks and Survey Mini, you can rack up points which can be exchanged for free gift cards to your favorite chain restaurants. Saving up points can take a while, but this is a great way to get some free grub.

By using the tips listed above in addition to deals and rewards programs offered by individual restaurants, you should be able to eat out for a fraction of the usual cost. This means more cash in your pocket and more food in your belly.

The 3 Best Stock Trading Apps

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There are several new apps for stock trading directly from your mobile device. A few of the most popular ones are Robinhood, Acorns, and Stash Invest. They are all available on Android and iOS. Let’s take a look at some of the best stock trading apps.

Robinhood is known for its easy to use interface and award-winning design. It has won awards in both the Google Play Store and the Apple Store. Other pros of Robinhood are that it doesn’t require a lot of money to get started with trading. Once you make money through the app it is easy to transfer from the app directly into your checking account. On the con side, having to wait till your earnings are listed as settled before you can transfer them to your account can cause key opportunities to be missed. If you want to reinvest and you have to wait 3 days for your earnings to post, you may miss something. Many of these stock trading apps work in similar ways. There is a good how-to article with screenshots on businessinsider.com.

The Acorns app is based on investing spare change. When you make a purchase using your linked checking account,  the total is rounded up to the next dollar and used to invest. There are only 5 portfolios to choose from, though. The fees are relatively low at $1 a month for accounts under $5000 and .25% for those over $5000. Depending on how much you make though the fees can be high. If you are not making more than a few dollars a month then  the $1 a month fee can seem kind of steep.

With Stash Invest, you can start investing with as little as $5 in your account. The site allows you to choose your investment options but will give recommendations. Stash Invest gives the choice of 30 or more investments. Their fees are the same as Acorns’ fees.

When choosing a mobile app to use for investing, be sure to read the fine print on fees and disclaimers. It’s a good idea to read through the app store reviews as well.

This Post Contains Affiliate Links.

 

What types of rewards programs are there?

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Rewards programs are available nearly every place you shop (even at some of your favorite Foodie Places). Whether it’s at the mall, at the grocery store, or on your phone, rewards programs help save you money as you shop, play, and surf the web.

1) Phone rewards- Apps such as Lucktastic and Google Play Rewards offer money for a few seconds of your time a day. Lucktastic is a lottery game where scratch off cards offer points as winnings. After so many points, they can be cashed in for items such as gift cards and sweepstakes entries. Google Play Rewards, run by Google itself, offers rewards for surveys based on location, shopping habits, and even opinion. Rewards vary in amount, and can be used to purchase items in the Google Play Store.

2) In-store rewards: To bring in more customers, some stores offer instant reward dollars after so much money is spent on their products. Stores such as Victoria’s Secret, Torrid, and Kohl’s offer deals year-round that can then be used to reduce the out-of-pocket expense of shoppers later on in the year.

3) Credit rewards: These stores also offer reward points based on money spent using store-issued credit cards. Points are often issued so many per dollar, and after a certain amount of points are collected, the cardholder may receive a voucher in the mail to use on their next visit to the store.

4) Gas rewards: Supermarkets and supercenters that have connections with gas stations often offer a reward card that, while taking cents and dollars off of products in the store, also takes cents off at the pump. Kroger’s shopping card, issued free, gives points according to dollars spent, much like credit reward cards. After so many dollars are spent per month, shoppers can take off more per gallon at the gas station.

There are hundreds of rewards programs across the internet. While it seems like just another card to keep up with, participating in reward programs can ultimately save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per year– just for swiping a card.

3 Delicious Rewards Programs for Your Foodie Needs

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As much as anyone would love a good home-cooked meal, eating out and ordering fast food has become increasingly popular. Wouldn’t it be nice to get more for your hard-earned money? We think so, and that is why we have found 3 rewards programs that will make your wallet happy.

Papa Rewards: Do you like Papa John’s or pizza in general? If so, then this is the rewards program for you! Their motto is “Order. Eat. Earn. Repeat,” which is literally you get to do. Basically, you create an account and enroll in Papa Rewards. Afterwards, you will earn 1 point for every $5 you spend when you order online. For 10 points, you can get a chocolate chip cookie, cheese sticks, or garlic knots. For 20-30 points, you can get a free large pizza.

Piece of the Pie Rewards: Yes, another pizza rewards program. This time it is by none other than Domino’s! Similar to Papa Rewards, you will have to create an account and enroll in their reward program. Every online order of $10 or more will earn you 10 points (only one order per calendar day can earn points). Once you earn 60 points, you can redeem them for a free medium 2-topping pizza.

Subway Rewards: Subway Rewards requires you to get a Subway Card and to load money on it. Each time you swipe your card in-store, you will earn 1 point per $1 spent. You will even get 25 free points just for signing up, and you can opt in to receive a free birthday goody along with bonus offers. You can redeem your points for a variety of treats, such as a cookie, chips, drinks, or even subs. Not bad, right?

Tell me about the reward programs you use.

How to Change Spending Habits into Saving Habits


Saving money and living a more frugal life isn’t so much about how well you can budget, it is about changing your habits. You can set up the most solid budget in the world and still find that your bank account is leaking money due to your everyday spending habits. By changing these spending habits, little by little each day, even the most compulsive shopper can find that living frugally becomes second nature.

Analyze Your Life

One of the best ways to start a frugal life is to start adding up all those small expenses. If you stop at Starbucks maybe once or twice a week, that’s about $15-$20 dollars. A daily trip to the vending machine could be another $10 a week. This may sound like chump change on a week-by-week basis, but it adds up on a monthly or even yearly scale. Sometimes all it takes is to do the math to discover that you really do have a spending habit.

Tackle One Habit at a Time

Say it’s the beginning of the month after hammering out your new frugal life. You’re all gung-ho and want to start saving money by bringing your own work lunches, making your own coffee, avoiding the vending machine that accepts credit cards, and no longer taking hour-long showers. There is no possible way that you won’t save money with all that, right? Well, that’s true, right up until you get burned out from trying to drastically quit everything you love.

Some things just make you happy, but by taking everything that you are used to out of your life at the same time, you will break quickly. Focus on one bad spending habit at a time, and you will find the adjustment period is much more bearable.

Replace Triggers With Positive Habits

After a bad day at work, your first impulse may be to go do a little shopping to cheer yourself up. Work can be a serious trigger for many people to go out and try to buy their way into feeling better. However, instead of spending some serious cash, instead try to find a positive action that could replace all those spending triggers. Perhaps spend some time on a hobby, exercise, or go meet up with a friend. The positive action doesn’t need completely free at first either, so long as you are spending less than you otherwise would out shopping.

Rewards Programs are Essential to Keeping Customers Coming Back.

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Rewards programs are something that I take advantage of whenever possible. They are an incentive for me to continue using a company’s product. You will find reward programs with various credit card companies, restaurants, and clothing stores, to name a few. It is a great marketing tool to keep you coming back for more. Essentially, it is like training a dog. If you want the dog to sit, you must give the dog a treat if it obeys a command. No, I am not likening humans to dogs, but if you think about it, we enjoy treats too and if we buy, just as the dog sits, we get a treat.
I am especially drawn in by the awards that I receive via email or mail, that award me $15 off if I redeem $15 or more in the store or online. From the comfort of my home, I go to their website, shop a while and secure the deal. Sometimes you can save more by going to the store and buying there to avoid shipping and handling.
There are also “cash back” awards where you earn pennies on the dollar each time you use your credit card. Again, this is a nice treat after logging in to pay a credit card bill and see that you have earned $5.86 in reward money that you can use towards your payment. Not to dampen the spirit of rewards, but if all you do is charge and pay the minimum, they are happy to give you $5.86 as they take $25.00 in interest from you each month. Make sure you do your math when choosing credit cards and the interest rates associated with them.

Free Star Wars: The Force Awakens DVD/Blu-ray After Cashback

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Okay, so maybe Han Solo was speaking about some mystical energy out there in the universe but it holds true for this here amazing freebie offer!

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Thanks to a special promotion with TopCashback.com, all new members can get a Free Star Wars: The Force Awakens on DVD/Blu-ray combo after cashback!

It may sound like some Sith ploy or Jedi Mind Trick, but it’s not. It’s 100% legit! Just make sure you follow the directions below.

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Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Click here to sign up to TopCashback.com as a new member. It’s totally free! (You should see my member name: JonBird87)

Step 2: After joining, go to the Star Wars DVD offer page where you can click the pink GET CASHBACK NOW button.

Step 3: At Walmart, buy the Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) combo for  $19.96 and select In-Store Pick Up.  Important note: Do not add anything else to your order. Only order 1 copy of the Star Wars Blu-ray/DVD and nothing else, or else the deal won’t be valid.

Step 4: Within 21 days, $22 will become payable in your TopCashback account. (See, TopCashback even covers tax!)

Note that this offer is ONLY available for New Members to TopCashback.com, and it’s valid through April 10, 2016 at 11:59pm PT.

E-coupons are better than coupon clipping

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For those who found that the majority of their sales are to people who shop online, it is ideal you improve your online reward system. However, if a larger portion of your business is conducted in person, then an in-store reward system may be the way to go. Luckily, there is flexibility in your decision making, with respect to the requirements your business as well as the setup of your merchant processor.
Clipping coupons is a regular task for people who are often looking for new deals. Together with the development of digital cash-saving programs, like print- at-home and cashback apps, more and more of the people are simply turning to using coupons to cut costs on their shopping.
According to studies, it is forecasted that there will be tremendous growth in the number of mobile coupon users. But, the question now is: what will be the reason for this growth and what does it means for cash-savers?
Customer expectations and technological improvements are the drivers of this trend. The growth of cash-savers in the world has continued to grow for the past couple of years. Nine out of 10 of us ‘believe it is great to be frugal’ and two thirds of shoppers won’t make a purchase before looking for a discount online.
What impact will digital coupons make on cash-savers?
It’s projected that coupons worth $350 Billion are printed on a yearly basis and nearly 99% of them were never redeemed.
The most probable reasons for this are unwanted and forgotten scrap of papers.
It’s a gigantic shame to realize why these savings are not utilized, but the growth in digital redemption would support reducing these figures.
In America, where this technology is broadly used, mobile coupons have a 10% redemption rate – which implies that more individuals are saving.
Ease-of-use, audience accessibility, and fraud detection are a number of the key ways those involved are benefiting. The progress in technological advancement has made couponing more accessible and lots of brands release coupons.
Other good benefits of digital coupons are that you wouldn’t forget to always take them with you and you wouldn’t have to travel to as-many stores or supermarkets to redeem your as-many coupons.
However, technology continues to be a concern for a number of shoppers like 68 year old grandmother of seven, Natalia Hunt, who said: “I’d still favor the paper ones, better to organize. It is simple and fast to make use of them. So, why change that?”