Thursday, June 26, 2008

Frugal Learning: Languages

Heres something that might be worth checking out. If you ever wanted to learn Japanese, Spanish, French, Hindi, German, or Mandarin Chinese - Check out LiveMocha.

Found via this slickdeals thread, where it is immensely popular. I am checking it out and will be taking courses to improve my Japanese skills. Please do let me know if you use or sign up for LiveMocha!

In other news, I got my free sample of Kashi Granola(expired) and Playtex Gentle Glide Tampons(here) yesterday. I'll probably keep the granola in my car for when I am in desperate need of a snack!

I also got my pedometer today! A few weeks ago, my roommate and I ordered pedometers from Amazon. I'll check in and let you know how having the pedometer (hopefully) makes me more conscious of how much I exercise! Apparently I walked 0.5 during the first half of my work day, I wonder how much I'll walk over a complete day.

PS - Sign up for a free sample of Purex laundry detergent here!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alison's Frugal Food: Marinara Sauce

I'm back! Well, where did I go? No where too far, but I thought I would give an update about the happenings of the week...

I actually had a great experience doing some frugal cooking this week! I've accumulated a nice stash of Muir Glen organic tomato products (paste, sauce, and whole tomatoes) so the plan was to create a simple, but delicious, marinara sauce. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures when I was cooking, so bear with this detailed retelling of my adventure:

I started by sauteing 1/2 of a yellow onion and 2 small cloves of garlic. Now I know this may seem like too little to some of you *ahem...Katharine* but I promise that I add more flavor to it! Once that was done, I added one heaping table spoon of dried herbs. The herbs I used were actually a souvineer that my fellow femme, Katharine, brought back from her travels in Italy. This was a mix of herbs that included: basil, chives, celery, and more garlic...of course. Finally, I stirred in a small can of tomato paste and then one whole regular can of plum tomatoes. I let this simmer together for about 45min-1hr and it came out fabulous! Plus, it was the perfect amount for the three people who were eating.

This is definitely going to be one of the things I serve next week to my house guest--delicious, kind of impressive (to others, lol), and only cost me $0.20! Add a pound of pasta at $1 and I'll be feeding six people for a total cost of $0.20/person!So other than this challenge, there's not much else going on. I actually am going to run now to the upstairs computer to print out some coupons, since I am about to do a huge shopping run! Good luck everyone!



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Favorite Frugal Recipes

I make no secret of it, though you may not know, but I love food! I like expensive food, I like cheap food, I like fancy cuisine, and I like food that people turn their nose up at! Do you have a favorite frugal recipe? Most of the recipes we make at my apartment are very frugal, or close to free! My roommate and myself spend less than $30 a week on groceries, combined! Now, I know there are many bloggers who are better at this than I am, but here are some of my Favorite Frugal Recipes!

Pasta with Sauce

This is as simple as you can get! A pound of pasta and a jar or less of sauce, costs less than $4 (and closer to $2 if you buy on sale or use coupons), and makes about 8 servings! Alison has a great post on her almost free pasta sauce coming up! Estimated cost? 25 to 50 Cents a serving!

Healthy Tip: Mix frozen vegetables and shredded or ground meat in with your sauce for a fully balanced meal!

Mexican night

I was really lucky about a month ago, and acquired about 40 tortillas and mixings at the end of a club event. Tortillas freeze well, but the trick is to freeze them flat! My last 'gift' from my parents was a Costco sized container of taco seasoning which you can add to any ground or shredded meat for a great mexican meal! Buy shredded cheese when it is on sale and make a cheese quesadilla for the ultimate frugal mexican meal! A ten pack of tortillas and a pound of shredded cheese should run you about $5 total, so 50 cents a serving for quesadillas! If I have sour cream or salsa on hand, I dress my tortillas up that way, but we buy the large jars of salsa, so the cost per meal is very low.

Healthy Tip: Make vegetable tacos! Stir fry green beans, onions, thin carrot sticks, peppers, mushrooms, etc with some taco seasoning, or add to a Quesdilla!


Casseroles are amazingly cheap, and make many servings, which can be packaged and either frozen or eaten later. My family's traditional casserole is not the most healthy though. We use leftover ham (blended into tiny crumbles), a can of Campbell's Cheddar Cheese soup, refill the can with milk, and a pound of cooked pasta (spaghetti or shells). Mix it all together and add some of whatever cheese you have laying around on top for crunch, and cook @ 375 until you can't see the milk in the bottom of your casserole dish. This makes easily 8 servings for about $5, so about 63 cents a serving. It's not the most healthy, and is quite salty, but I've been thinking about adding some frozen corn for a bit of sweet.

Fried Rice

Though I don't make it very often, I really like fried rice, and this post over at Apartment Therapy is what really inspired my post today! I haven't made fried rice in ages, and it is really cheap, and a change up from what I've been making lately, so maybe I'll give it a try later this week. To be really frugal, stir fry some mixed vegetables, with some onions, garlic, and either teriyaki or soy sauce. Add in the rice, and cook until warmed through. Then make some room off to the side, and cook your egg, for a bit, and then scramble it in! Eggs are some of the cheapest and healthiest protein you can eat, according to this post at Serious Eats!


So what is your favorite frugal recipe?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Learning to manage my finances the frugal way

We decided to start this blog because of our recent interest in personal finance and frugality. I read a lot of blogs. To keep track of them all I use Google's RSS Reader solution - Google Reader.

Don't know what RSS( is? RSS stands for Really Simple Sindication, and it is a type of web feed. Atom is another type of web feed, and the one used by Blogger. Feeds are methods of distributing content. Instead of remembering to visit The Femmes Frugal every day to check for an update, you can sign up for our RSS feed () along with the feeds of many other blogs), and check your Feed Reader whenever you have a moment. That is what I use Google Reader for. I have more than 70 personal finance, frugality, and freebies web feeds. I also have more than 100 other feeds, including webcomics, technical and gaming news, and photography feeds.

I've just added a widget to the side of the site called Katharine's Blogroll. This serves up the most recent personal finance, frugality and freebies web feeds that I am subscribed too. Though it is a great resource, I would discourage people from signing up for it, and instead encourage them to sign up for the feed of the originating blog - besides that fact that 72 blogs produce a lot of content to keep track of!

Happy reading!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekly Spending and the Deal Trifecta

Well, after my hiatus, I am re-energized and ready to tell you all about this past week's frugal and green adventures! It has been a long week, so I'll start out by going back to the goals I set last week.

Financially, it was a pretty heavy week. Father's Day was my biggest expense--I took my dad to a flea market, which he loved, and spent $20 on gas, $4 on admission for both of us, and bought a book for $5. Not a good start, but the week got better. I ended up saving a lot of money by staying home and doing things that applying for jobs, etc. Even on Wednesday when my family and I went up to Boston, I packed a cooler of goodies for us--sandwiches, yogurt, cookies, juice--and we ended up only spending money on gas! I though that was excellent...(we also enjoyed some coffee and cake, courtesy of Simmons!) Then on Thursday, my only other spending for the week was $0.06! I picked up two trial size bottles of Gold Bond healing lotion and used 2/$1 off coupons (here).

Today was a stocking up day for me. I took a trip out this after noon to the deal trifecta: Target, Walmart, and Stop and Shop. Deals were pretty slim, but worth it:
Target: Travel size Extra Strength Tylenol - $1 - $1off(here) = free
5.8oz Colgate Total Advanced Clean w/2 trial size bonuses - $3.19 - $1.50off manufacturer's coupon (Probably 6/1 Red Plum) - $1off Target coupon (here) = $0.79
Total: $0.79

Walmart: Bic Soliel 4-pack - $4.67 - $4off coupon (6/21 Smart Source) = $0.67 + tax
Kashi Heart to Heart cereal - $3.24 - $2coupon = $1.24
Total: $2.19

S&S: Kashi GoLean Crunch - $2/6 - $2coupon = $1

So the overall total for today was $3.98. Not my best, but I had a bunch of coupons about to expire and everything I got was a deal, even if it wasn't a steal.

Green outlook is looking pretty good. All of my plants have been getting a lot of water from the crazy rain we've been getting, so they're happy. I'm trying to drive greener, which I definitely need to do more research on. I recently heard that using your breaks less burns less gas (not a very safe premise, but I'll try anything!), so I tried that while I did my errands. Biggest complaint about this method: other people! I could time it perfectly--coasting towards a light, inching along, etc.--but the people in front of me never get themselves moving in time for me to avoid breaking! If anyone knows any other methods, send them my way and I'll tell you how it goes...

I will definitely be posting more this week, so never fear! And I'll make Katharine post more, too...


Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Frugal Grocery Haul

This week at Shaws, their pasta is on sale for 2 for $1! This is a great deal, as their pasta is usually 10 for $1, and it isn't uncommon to see a pound of pasta run more than $1 a box lately.

I did some couponing at Stop and Shop, which was great fun, but showed me that my envelope system for storing coupons isn't quite right yet. Well, it wasn't quite right, and now its a mess! I had a printable for $1 off any Regina vinegar or cooking wine, which, while it wasn't on sale, I needed to pick up. For the Kikkoman products - I had a $1 off 2 register coupon that expired today, and that worked out pretty well, as I got a $.55 off coupon on the low salt soy sauce, and 2 register coupons! One for $1 off my next Kikkoman order, and one for $1 off my next Stop and Shop trip! The Patak's Sweet and Smokey sauce was on sale for $2.59, and I had a printable for $1.50 off, so I'll be trying some Indian this week. The Crystal light was on sale for $2.00, and I had a $.50 off coupon that came with my free sample, which Stop and Shop doubled! So I spent a total of $6.76 on $12.66 worth of merchandise, which is the equivalent of 46.6% off! (The Patak's and Regina printables are available here)

Lastly, on the far right is my free sample of Nature Made vitamins, from wal-mart (here). I have the sneaking suspicion that someone at the Post Office is not happy with my free sample ordering - I'm having very few show up.

Another essential I picked up was a new gallon of milk. Did you know that one kind of milk is almost always significantly cheaper than the rest? The 7-11 near my apartment has the best milk prices in the area. Though I prefer skim milk, the 1% milk is almost a dollar cheaper!

How did you do this week? Happy couponing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tracking my spending and protecting my investments

So this is goal week--essentially a huge couple of objectives including financial and health. The financial is actually something thought up by Katharine and I'm jumping on the band wagon. I'm going to be keeping track of everything I spend, every little penny (because sometimes, yes, I do spend pennies). I'll probably refine my system as I go, make up some catagories, etc. and hopefully come up with some method that will make it easy to read and maybe adopt. Also on the financial horizon, I'm expecting a house guest, my best college friend from Smith, Alla. She'll be staying for a little less than a week and I'll be trying to take some of the financial burden off my parents by buying some of the meals. I'll definitely be doing this with coupons and sales and I'm hoping to provide each meal for five/six people for about $3. Stay tuned...

A lot of health goals for this week: I'm trying to wear my retainer every night to straighten out my teeth--I hope I have the sympathy of those of you who have been through this... Also I'm going walking every morning this week, hopefully, because this week is a lot cooler. I'm walking around the neighborhood, firstly because I like to enjoy the morning weather, and secondly because it uses no energy (unlike a treadmill). When I was at college I used to work out on the elliptical, which not only ran on electricity for its general stuff, but also for the TV that was mounted on it (totally awesome, but kind of ridiculous).

I'm trying to figure out some green goals for this week, probably tending to my herbs, and I'll let you know how that goes. These storms we've been having have been pretty intense. Good luck to everyone with your projects and have a great week!



(Katharine says: Do you keep track of your spending? Electronically? In a notebook? What categories do you use?)

Monday, June 16, 2008

The 3 R's of being Frugal and Green - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Hi again!

Thinking about Alison's post earlier (here), being frugal and green is definitely not easy. That being said, its not too hard, if you are willing to get creative!

The #1 rule of being green is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Come to think about it, this is the number one rule of frugality too!

Reduce - From a green perspective, this means reduce your consumption... Use only what you need, and no more. From a frugal perspective, it means reduce your spending! Buy only what you must buy, and no more! So we want to reduce our use of items, and also our spending, and these two go hand in hand! Use causes wear and tear, and could lead to breakage, which leads to having to replace things. Not to say that you shouldn't use the things you have, but use them as necessary!
A great example of this is laundry. Are your dress clothes really dirty after you come home from work? Maybe if you were sweating on the job at a construction site, but sitting in the office at a desk? You can probably wear those clothes again. When I get home from work I strive to take my dress clothes right off, and hang them up towards one side of my closet, in the once worn section. Obviously, all is moot if I've spilled something on myself, into the hamper it goes. You may still have to do laundry weekly, but odds are you will have fewer loads, and your clothes will last longer if you wash them less! Washing is the main cause of wear and tear on most clothing.

Reuse - Reuse things as much as you can - the more you reuse them, the longer you can hold off without throwing it away. Eat lots of jam? Reuse the jars to hold nails or small parts (or crafts). This saves the environment, because your things aren't in the trash, and it saves you money, because you didn't have to buy something to store your nails in! Reusing can be a great way to be both green and frugal. A great way to reuse items is through Craigslist or Freecycle! If you won't use something, other people might! These websites are also a great way to get something you need for free or cheap!
A good example of this is Alison's situation from Friday's post (here). She got a bunch of free samples, which if she was also green in her choices, are things she would already use, but that she just got for free. I must confess, I also got the Charmin toilet paper dispensers. I must confess, I never would have bought something like this, I have a perfectly good toilet paper dispenser. However, when the roll is new, I have trouble unrolling toilet paper, and, combined with the free-factor, I decided that it was worth it to save me the hassle of peeling my TP one sheet at a time. Everyone has to decide if the green trade off is worth it every time they get a freebie, but to me it was. Addressing the excess of packaging that comes with free samples a great way to reuse this would be as padding! Tear the cardboard boxes into small pieces, bunch the plastic wrapping into a ball, and put them in a plastic bag... Next time you have to send something, instead of going out and buying bubble wrap, use shredded cardboard! Though you may want to remove you personal information from them first, depending on who you are sending it to. On the other hand, you could just recycle the cardboard. Which brings me to number three.

Recycle - Recycling is also both frugal and green. Frugal, because, lets face it, a nickel back for every soda i drink is a lot of money! Now, to be truly frugal, I am trying to cut way down on my soda drinking, and hopefully give it up altogether, but the caffeine addiction makes it a slow process. My goal is to have quite completely by the end of the month. Recycling is Green, well, because it reduces the amount of raw materials necessary to create new products!

So I guess the message of my post is Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! It's frugal, it's green, and it's just plain smart!


P.S. If you have a Shaws near you, you may want to check out their deal on Near East Couscous! They are going for 10 for $10, which is a steal, but combined with the manufacturers coupon (here), they are free! Shaws automatically doubled this manufacturers coupon for me. I'll be going back to stock up on more couscous before Thursday, which is when they sale cycle at Shaws this week ends!
The Tylenol website (here) has a coupon for $1 off any Tylenol product. As Alison mentioned Friday, this is good at Target, but it is also good at CVS too! Check your local store's travel section.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Being Frugal and Green is Hard - Resisting Freebies

Hello, Readers! **crickets chirping...silence**

Ok then, with the optimistic thought that someone, someday, might read this and be amused, or even get something out of it, here is my second update:

Rule #1 of being frugal and green: This is hard! Finding free things = definitely a challenge, and staying green while doing it = almost impossible. Take yesterday for example. I got a windfall in the mail of four awesome freebies: Playtex ultra glide tampons -- and just in time (Katharine: This is still available here from Walmart and here straight from playtex - I got the links from this Freebies4Mom post), Ban deodorant -- nice scent (Katharine: this is still available here from Walmart, I got mine Wednesday too!), a sample of French Vanilla Splenda(Katharine: Available here - link from the "Cent"sible Sawyer), and two Charmin toilet paper dispensers - I don't know why I ordered these, but I should probably reference the comment in my first entry that I tend to go overboard when I go into "free-mode" -- it was free, therefore I want it(Katharine: these are still available here - link from the Bargainist). The latter two I have no idea where I got, but I'd guess from

Now, while getting all of this free stuff was great (well, exciting at least), I'm now in super-guilt green mode. You should have seen all the extra packaging that there was on everything! There were cardboard boxes inside of cardboard boxes. Other things were wrapped in plastic bags and the result was that all of this created what looked like an open landfill around the chair I had been sitting in. I was really disgusted by this.

So what have I learned from this minor debacle? Well, lets just say I'm going to try and prevent myself from ordering everything I see that has the word "free" or "sample" under it. I think limiting myself to things that I will actually use, or know someone who will, may hopefully prevent green catastrophes like this in the future. I'd love to hear Katharine's opinion on this, because I know that she, like me, really enjoys ordering free samples...


P.S. Everyone run to Target's trial-size section w/ your coupons! Free Satincare shave gel w/ $1off coupon and free Tylenol w/ $1off coupon!! Check Smart Source circular from 6/6 for the first, and go to the Tylenol website (Katharine: here) to print the other one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Welcome to the Femmes Frugal! (again)

So, I have to post my own introduction message... I'm Katharine, though someone else you might have been recently introduced to has taken it upon herself to dub me Kathy, but I've forgiven her. I am really excited about starting this blog as well. I read a lot of personal finance blogs. And by a lot, I mean like, at least 50... and all by RSS feed, so I don't miss much. I also use the PFBuzz main feed to discover new blogs and read articles I wouldn't otherwise have found. I am currently a university student, and trying to manage feeding myself and paying my rent through graduation, which will be in May of 2009. I do this by getting as many supplies as I can off of freecycle and craigslist, or trying to find some way around my need for it.

In my recent escapades through every single PF (personal finance) blog I can find, I was disappointed to see that a lot of bloggers were stay at home moms, and the deals they provide, while great, are not quite applicable to students... I also could not find any blogger that did deals for Stop and Shop! Since Stop and Shop is the only grocer near me (I could go to Shaw's, but I would have to pay for the bus), I am going to try and come up with the best Stop and Shop deals I can find, and post them here. I have just begun using coupons, so hopefully I can come up with some good deals for everyone. Though I carry no credit card debt, I use my Bank of America (BoA) WorldPoints card for every purchase, to get rewards. Even so, my spending has been out of control lately, and I am looking to cut back significantly. I have been spending over $150.00 a week! I expect this to go down significantly next month, when I return my mothers car to her, but for now I am stuck paying for gas every week.

Anyway, look for me to post money-saving and personal-finance tips, as well as freebies, coupons, links to other blogs, and anything technical or web-based that you might be able to use to save money or become more financially aware.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Welcome to the Femmes Frugal!

Welcome to the Femmes Frugal! (not that anyone's reading this now, but hopefully someone will in the future...) I'm Alison, sometimes Ali, and I'm really excited about beginning this blog. Things to watch for from me in the future will be my frugal/freebie adventures, converting friends and family to the frugal/green life, and my struggles to stay frugal and green. Trying to stay entertained is also a huge thing so free and green travels and activities are a must. I'm looking for a job, but until I find one I'm supplementing my income/needs and that of my family with freebies and gardening, which makes me feel like I'm contributing (besides by my manual labor). Sometimes I go overboard when I find a deal (such as having 6 boxes of cereal and 3 cartons of soy milk stored away because I got it all for free). I do love to break down the how, when, and where of my shopping deals, so watch for that. And even though you probably won't see me talking about very high-tech stuff, I'm very into doing things to conserve and live greenly. My biggest project for this summer is that I'm trying to get grants from the state so that my parents can install solar panels on our garage mostly for free (*crosses fingers*).

So at this point my favorite websites for coupons and freebies are and And as far as freebies go this has been a pretty good week. I tried out my sample John Frieda Weather Works shampoo, conditioner, and serum on Sunday, which I got from Walmart. It was really excellent and I'd recommend ordering it, but just a warning--it was very strongly scented. So while my hair was soft and frizz-free, it also smelled like an elevator full of rich women just after their anniversaries (aka lots of expensive perfume).

Some other good things were a free sample of Dunkin Donuts coffee, can't wait to try that. I also got my first movie from my free one-month Netflix subscription (technically my second, but the first time the sent the wrong movie grrr....).

On the shopping front its been pretty good as well. So here is my Monday shopping trip: I've spent some time stockpiling LiveActive cereal using the coupon from the website. You can print a $3 off coupon and at StopandShop its on sale for $2.50, so its FREE! So I got one box of that for free. Yo+ yogurt is 2/$4, using a $1 off coupon, I got one pack for $1. Then I saw Kashi crackers marked $2.29, yay--I have a $2 off Kashi coupon! But then I get to the self-checkout and it rings up $3.29. So the lady comes over to help and it turns out I'm right--duh. Now good to know: S&S has a policy that if they get a price wrong you get the item for free...SCORE! And after I got that one box for free, I had another that they had to give me at $2.29, so I whip out just one of the coupons. $0.29 for two boxes of delicious organic crackers! (Also, it anyone can get a hold of a $1 off Quaker Simple Harvest coupon, now is the time to use it on the oatmeal--its being discontinued at S&S so its 50% off $3.50, which makes it $1.75 minus $1 makes it $0.75. --I don't have one though) Yogurt, cereal, and two boxes of cracker all for $1.29? Now bad, grasshopper...

Only other deal stuff going on today was when I went to Walmart with my mom. I needed new razors desperately, and I found a pack a four Schick Soliel (?) for $4.67. I had a $2 off coupon, making it $2.67 and then since my mom wanted to put it all on her charge card I bought her a tube of Colgate toothpaste (6.4 oz $1 - $1coupon = FREE) and later used another $1 off coupon for something the family needed for groceries. I figure since so much of the food I get for free feeds the family anyway, it all ends up even somehow.

Oh, and I also spent some time getting a couple of magazine subscriptions from! Neat site, kind of annoying, though. There's a choice of about four magazine subscriptions and to "earn" it you have to watch a certain number of commercials. Not a bad deal in my opinion (considering I did it twice from two different emails--I sent one to my grandmother and one to my mom), but I'd recommend multi-tasking so you don't go too nutty. Go for it!

Stay Green and Free!