Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trimming the Fat

Sorry I haven't been updating y'all! I have been working a lot this week and have a busy schedule until Saturday. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you guys about "trimming the fat" and shaving a couple dollars off your budget here and there to help your savings grow. 

Image from A Moment Please

Last year, Jake gave me a 1 month Netflix free trial, and it was all downhill from there. I love Netflix so much. (We're currently marathoning Lost and Parks & Rec.) After my free trial ended, I signed up for the 1 DVD out at a time program, which costs around $10.69 a month. The problem was, I would get a DVD and then hold onto it for like 5 months. (Literally. I have only ever gotten about 3 DVDs from Netflix and I had two of them for around 4-5 months each.) So recently I decided to downgrade my Netflix account from the $10.69 1 DVD at a time membership to the $7.99 Instant Only membership, which works just fine for me. Moral of this example: tailor your budget to fit your needs and what you're actually doing. There's no need to pay $3 extra for a service you aren't using, so cut it out. 

My other example is something I haven't actually done yet but will do next month. I currently get a $9/month generic prescription from Kroger, but they have a 3 month version of this prescription for $24, which means my per-month cost would be $8/month. That would save me $1/month or $12/year. Doesn't sound like much, but combine it with my Netflix savings of $32.40/year and I will be saving $44.40/year just from making these two simple switches. Combine this with other savings, like eating out one fewer meal per week or walking instead of driving, and you can see your savings start to grow. Moral of the second story: buy "in bulk" when you (and your wallet) can, since many businesses offer discounts like this one. 

Lastly, how do I turn this into actual savings? It's so easy to say "I'm now saving $5 a month!" and then turn around and spend that $5 at Subway. Luckily, it's even easier to actually put that $5 a month away. All you have to do is set up a transfer of funds at your bank; you can easily set up a transfer of $5 (or however much) per month from checking to savings to reflect the saving you are actually doing. And once it's in savings, don't touch it! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Update on My Goal for Fall

Y'all might remember about two weeks ago I decided I didn't want to pay anything out of pocket for textbooks for the fall. Since then, I have a few updates about this goal that I wanted to share...

Image from Vox Populi

  • Selling my textbooks: this was awful. I made a total of $15 (only one of my five textbooks got sold). I gave this money to Jake for some personal reasons. I'm going to wait until fall to try to sell some of these books on Facebook.
  • I won a contest, though! Kristin at Couponing to Disney was holding a contest on her blog where she was giving out $5 Amazon gift cards to her readers... I entered and I won! So there's that, at least. 
  • I found out about Bing Rewards! I already mentioned Swagbucks, a site where you can earn and redeem "digital dollars" by searching the Internet, but I just found out about Bing Rewards! You earn credits by searching through Microsoft Bing; you earn 250 credits just by signing up for the program. They have tons of awesome rewards, and a $5 Amazon gift card is just 541 credits! I signed up 10 minutes ago and I already have 267 credits. I'm so excited about finding this program! 
  • I also found out about Checkpoints! Checkpoints is a FREE app available for iPhone and Android. Basically, you "check in" when you go places like the grocery store and you can scan items with your phone, earning you points, including points for an Amazon gift card. Best of all, enter the code "swagbucks" when registering to get 20 Swagbucks as well as 300 points on Checkpoints, which is already enough for $1 on Amazon (this information comes from Couponing to Disney). 
I will keep y'all updated on any new programs I find out about!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Budgeting for the Beach

This time last week Jake and I were at the beach (Hilton Head, SC) and I would be lying if I said I prefer being in Athens. Anyway, knowing that a lot of people go on vacation during the summer, I thought I would describe how we saved up for the beach and didn't go too horribly astray from our budget...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Get a free sample of Garnier Fructis!

Image from Deal Seeking Mom

Hey guys, make sure you go to the Garnier website to get a free sample of their anti-dandruff shampoo! 

By the way, if y'all were wondering where I've been... I was at the beach last week from Tuesday to Saturday and I arrived home to my apartment to discover my roommate (who had moved out) had taken the router with her (it was hers, so it's not like she stole it or anything lol) so I haven't had internet at my apartment. I'm getting a new router tomorrow so I will be posting regularly again soon! My first post back will be about how Jake and I budgeted for a beach trip, so if you're going on vacation soon, be on the lookout for it!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to Shop... at Earth Fare

I thought I would start a new series of posts about how to shop at various places around Athens. I was going to start with Publix and Kroger, but then I figured why not choose something more challenging?

Image from Southern Savers

A lot of people believe that it's very difficult to eat healthy food on a budget. It's true that many organic products are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but even here, you can use coupons and sales to your advantage. Earth Fare is a grocery store in the Southeast which specializes in organic and healthy food, and for that reason, many people (including me, a while ago) think that it is super expensive and impossible to shop at without using up your entire budget. Prices at Earth Fare can be overwhelming at times, but I have some tips and tricks I have learned from shopping there that makes your grocery list much more affordable.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Goal for Fall: Not Spending Money on Textbooks

Image from The Daily UW

As any college student knows, buying textbooks sucks, plain and simple. It sucks if you're a liberal arts student (like me) and all you have to buy is novels that are never more than $15 each, but it REALLY sucks if you're a science or math student (like my boyfriend) and your textbooks cost about as much as an MRI... each.

Okay. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but really, we've all had at least one class where we had a textbook that cost at least $80, and then you have to buy the online e-learning package or pay lab fees or whatever.

So, with that in mind, I've created kind of a lofty goal for myself: not to spend any money out of pocket for books this fall.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What I Got in the Mail...

I got two things in the mail today!

This is a free sample from U by Kotex. It came with a pad and two tampons and a coupon for $1.00 off any U by Kotex product. 

This is a coupon from Suave Professionals for a free bottle of dry shampoo or a hair product by Suave Professionals!

If you're interested in getting either of these yourself, here's what to do:
  • U by Kotex sample
  • Suave Professionals: I got this coupon by signing up on their Facebook page during a promotion. The promotion has ended, but check out the link because they always have giveaways and there may be another promotion coming up. 

Laura's Guide to Couponing: Matchups

Image from Shop Local

Now that you have your coupons and have them organized, what exactly should you do with them? The answer: grab the circular (weekly ad) for your store and start on your matchups!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Get a free drink and save some gas money!

Hi everyone, I came across this deal tonight on a forum I belong to, and I wanted to share it with everyone. It's a coupon for a free drink at a Murphy's gas station (there is one on Lexington Road in Athens) as well as up to $2.00 off a $10.00 gas purchase!

Image from Hunt for Freebies

First, go to the Murphy USA Facebook page. Next, "like" them and complete the app (click "enter") to get a coupon for a free drink. They will be giving out a coupon for a certain amount of money (up to $2.00) off a $10.00 gas purchase; the more people that like them, the higher value the coupon will be! 

The Murphy's in Athens has some of the lower gas prices on the East Side anyway, and getting some extra money off is awesome! Be sure to take advantage of this offer!

Selling Your Textbooks

Sorry I'm not really updating as frequently right now; finals week is officially underway and I am so stressed. But I thought I would take a minute to share a couple of options that you have for selling textbooks and how to get the most money out of selling.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Laura's Guide to Couponing: Organizing Your Coupons

Now that you (hopefully) have a stack of coupons, what should you do with them? There are many, many different ways to organize coupons, including using a shoebox, buying a coupon organizer, and using a binder. The trick is to find the organization method that works for you. I used to have a coupon organizer that I bought from OfficeMax for around $5, but it became way too disorganized for me, so last week I bought some baseball card holders and dividers and stuck them in a 1" binder I had left over from my bio lab class last year.

This is the front of my binder. Nothing too fancy, obviously... 

This is the inside of my binder. The dividers are labeled "Produce/Meat/Dairy", "Grocery", "Frozen", "HBA" (Health & Beauty Aids), "Household", "Restaurants/Services/Retail", and "Store-Specific" (this one is for those coupons that say things like "$5 off your next order", which I call OYNOs). 

There are tons of different ways to organize your coupons, but it really is all about finding the way that works for you. Obviously, a binder for a family of six is going to look really different from a shoebox for a college student living alone, so don't feel like you have to aspire to any lofty goals when storing and organizing coupons. Let me know if you need any advice about organization ideas!