Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Frugal Living in the Pioneer Valley (Part II)

Alright, so in the first part I fed you, exhausted you, and probably got you drunk. This time around I'm going to hit on a few more ::ahem:: cultured and low-key options, which I'm sure will be much appreciated as you deal with any food-induced/head-banging headache that I may or may not be partially responsible for.

Scenery / Outdoorsy
Once again, let's start at my Alma Mater: Smith College. For those of you outdoorsy types, direct your attention to Paradise Pond. Directly behind the Admissions office there is a lovely pond with an island in the middle. By the edge, there is a dock, which makes a lovely place to picnic and tumble around. Also think about going for a hike or a jog around the nature trail that circles the pond and goes into the woods. If you made it to the pond, at this point you're tantilizingly close to the Smith College Lyman Plant House, home to a fantastic indoor garden. This botanical oasis was a favorite escape of mine and is open all year round.

Also, if you're bookish at all, make sure to check out some of the libraries. I used to work in the Sophia Smith and College Archives in the Alumnae Gym--if you've ever wanted to see an Oscar statue, a gold album, or other great stuff, thats the place to go! Hitting the Mortimer Rare Book Room is a must if you want to do the most educational thing possible. The curators there are amazing and will let you touch/look at pretty much any historical book you want. When I brought my family there we all got to handle Cuniform tablets, a Rennaisance prayer book, and rare original children's books!

Artsy types, the Pioneer Valley is your place! The Smith College Art Museum is free to all on the second Friday of the month, 4:00 - 8:00 pm. Check the websites of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College (amherst.edu), Mount Holyoke (mtholyoke.edu), and Hampshire (hampshire.edu) to find free times for their art museums. These museums are fantastic because they are constantly showing new exhibits since students are taking courses!

Finally, a bit of history. Northampton Historical Society is absolutely adorable, fun, and nearby. Venture a little further out and find the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Historic Deerfield, and the Pratt Museum of Natural History. Really, don't be afraid to go exploring! You'll come across so many neat things--also, Springfield, MA is nearby; stop there for the Basketball Hall of Fame and Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Hopefully this part will make you a little more curious about the area if my last article didn't sit too well with you. And always remember to take plenty of breaks at coffee shops: Haymarket, Starbucks (for you sellouts), the Woodstar Cafe, and the Yellow Couch!

Happy travels!
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Frugal Living in the Pioneer Valley (Part I)

Kathy asked me to do a couple of articles on the topics of being frugal and green while having fun in the various places that I've lived and we'll all expect her to repay the favor. As you may have noticed, I'm a graduate of Smith College and after spending 4 years in the Northampton area (including summers!), hopefully I'll be able to offer some tips that visitors or even residents will find useful. This post is for the Money Life Network's "Frugal Things To Do In..." series.

Frugal Eating
Well, as a college student I guess I should start with the things that college students do best: eat and party. If you've been to one of the Pioneer Valley towns, you probably noticed that almost 50% of the retail area is populated by restaurants. So many different options and so many of them are budget-friendly! There is an amazing selection: two tacos at La Veracruzana, $3.95; a huge falafel sandwich at Amanouz, $5, an amazing lunch at Taipei and Tokyo complete with soup or egg roll, rice, and entree, only $5. Add to that, the amazing number of street fairs, sampling opportunities, and special events in town and at Smith College open to the public and you will have an amazing time at my home away from home. My best food freebie: the Hotel Northampton on your birthday! Your entree is completely free--any entree. There are a couple of amazing vegetarian choices, like the ravioli, yum, and also so many other non-veggie choices. Fillet mignon on your birthday? Free! The only downside is that the staff doesn't typically sing "Happy Birthday", but according to my experience with a little encouragement it can be done!

Frugal Partying
Partying is also something that Northampton does better than most small cities. Clubs and music venues like Bishops and Divas feature amazing local music for free or a small cover charge ($5 for 21+). This little area tends to attract a lot of big names from the music industry and the Iron Horse music hall is definitely the place to find all of them and get tickets for as little as $15 each! Try to time your trip to take advantage. Also, plug for Smith again, you can find so many musical events on one of the 5 College campuses. This spring Smith brought Fiest to campus and tickets were sold for $10 to the public. Also, Jason Lavasseur is performing Sept. 28th in a free concert at the campus center (he's a really amazing indie-rock type musician/singer).

Frugal Shopping
Besides these youth-oriented activities, there are so many other options! So much shopping, little boutiques, consignment stores, and so much more. Favorite stores of mine are Urban Exchange (consignment store for designer clothes), any store in Thorne's marketplace, and of course, Deals and Steals. Deals and Steals is a super amazing discount organic food store where I have found terrific deals on chai concentrate, gourmet chocolates, etc. and they always have out some samples that you can snack on as you shop! When I go back to the Valley in Auguest that will be one of my first stops. To get around the Valley, I recommend the PVTA--takes you anywhere you could want to go and only costs $1/ride! Sometimes so much easier than driving and a much needed break from walking.

Ok, since I didn't hit on nearly half of the great things to do in the Valley let's consider this Part One. Tune in for Part Two where I'll fill you in on more frugal activities and family fun!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Frugal Fun in Toronto!

Exciting news! On Thursday I will be leaving for Toronto!! As you can tell from my use of exclamation marks, I am so very excited about this. However, I am also a little nervous. I'll be staying with a friend who is, let's say, a little more financially secure than I am and also a LOT less frugal. Needless to say, if anyone is from the Toronto area/familiar with it, I would love love love any suggestions of free, frugal, and fun activities!

So far we've planned to visit the University of Toronto (I'll hopefully be meeting with someone from the Museum Studies Program), the Parliament building, and an art museum that my friend told me is free at a certain time. I love museums, parks, and historic things in general, so suggestions of that nature would amazing. Also, any food freebies/cheap eats--I would much rather spend my money on fun than food.

My plan for travel is, I think, quite excellent and frugal. I will be taking a Greyhound bus from New Haven to Toronto. Roundtrip I am paying a total of $88! I feel that this is a pretty good deal, especially since it would have been $97, but because I registered for greyhound Road Rewards I'm getting an extra 10% off. At this point, I unfortunately have to discourage any excitement about the new Greyhound Neon busline from Penn Station in NYC to Toronto. They advertise low-fares, even 1 seat per bus that is sold for $1, but my advice is to not get on the Neon bandwagon. Sure, it sounds great, but you will never find the $1 seat and the customer service people will definitely not help you (even if you offer them a special review on your blog)...Take the regular Greyhound line, its cheaper in almost every senario and without the disappointment of not getting the dream fare.

Also, since the busride is 14+ hours, I will be trying to entertain myself. Sleep sounds most promising, new downloads from Publicliterature.org will take up a lot of room on my MP3 player, and I will be carrying a bag full of meals and snacks (any advice on meals that travel well without a lunch box/cooler?).

Happy Travels!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Frugal Living: The Where, Why and How of Couponing

Ok, so I've been hearing a lot of methods about couponing: where to get them, when to cut them, how to store them, etc. Now for little, old me to weigh in (**announcer voice: 'at 105lbs...Alison 'The Femme' Frugal!! crowd: cheers**).

The Where: Everywhere--duh! I cannot tell you how many deals I would have missed out on if I had not been cutting coupons from the Smart Source and Red Plum circulars on weekends AND searching the internet! Obviously the paper route is a great way to find deals that might not be online, but I like it mostly because I can cut out coupons that I wouldn't bother printing. You know, those coupons...the "well, I don't really use that brand/never tried this, but its a great deal" kind? Like take last weekend, when I found a B1G1 L'Oreal Pro Vive Hydra Gloss coupon in the Smart Source ad. Now normally, that is a product I would never think of buying, its expensive, brand-namey (which I totally rebel against by nature), etc. But since CVS is doing a B1G1 event on that same product this week, I'm totally getting my two free shampoos! On the other side are the internet coupons. Sites like couponbug.com, coupons.com and others are great to find an assortment of coupons really quickly and scan through to find what you need. Online is also my best bet to check the websites of products that I use regularly, like Silk Soy Milk. For a while this spring, they were offering a coupon for $2.25off any 32oz or larger carton of their product. This translated to 9quarts of free, shelf-stable vanilla soymilk for me (which goes great on my free kashi cereal--$2off coupons at kashi.com, often onsale for $2 at Walmart). Bottom line: paper = browse, online = don't waste the energy.

The When: Now, I actually do have a definite opinion about this. Katharine was telling me about this popular method where you don't cut out the coupons immediately, but instead mark the page somehow and then cut it out right before you go to the store, so you don't have a bunch of coupons floating around you house/apartment or something like that. At this point I would like those of you who are infinitely more politically-correct than I am to skip to the next line--ready? That is absolutely RETARDED!
Why don't I just thumb through the study the day before I have to give a report on it and then read it in detail 30 minutes before class? Oh yeah, because I would FAIL! Same basic idea here: prepare as best you can, as early as you can, to avoid pain later.

The How: Fun time! Well, its not totally unique, but I am sort of proud of my coupon storing method. Using an empty CD case with lots of pockets, I store my coupons pretty logically, according to what they are, how the stores in my area are generally arranged (cereals together in the front, frozen foods last, and so on), and coupons for specific stores. Before I go out for a shopping trip, I go through my coupon-holder and put the coupons I plan to use in their own compartment, so that I can find them easily. Also, the CD case is awesome: totally didn't cost me a thing and it is designed to keep CDs from going anywhere, and is therefore more than sturdy enough for little bits of paper!
Enjoy your Friday and keep clipping!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Free Sample Roundup, Coupons, Amazon, and a new Frugal Service!

Free Samples
Free sample of MultiGrain Cheerios from Walmart here.  This isn't new, but a re-stock and I was able to sign up again.
Free Kotex sample courtesy of Sam's Club here.
Free sample of Oatmeal Crisp cereal from Walmart here.
Free sample of Stayfree products here.  This is another one that isn't new, but I was able to sign up again.
Free sample of Health ToGo drink mixes here.
Free sample of Airborne Power Pixies here.
Free sample of Yappy Treats dog treats here.
Free sample of dog's health food here.
Free sample of Gillete High Performance Shampoo from Walmart here.

Frugal Articles and Other Stuff!
Coupon round-up via Money Saving Mom here.
To get $10 off any Amazon.com purchase if you have never been an Amazon Prime member, see the details at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity here.
Deal Seeking Mom has a great article about Frucall, a service that lets you check online prices form anywhere!  See the details here.

Get any good samples lately?

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sample Roundup and Some Great Frugal Articles

Free Samples!
  • Free sample of GLAD ForceFlex here
  • Free Obama '08 sticker for those inclined here
  • Free Obama button here
  • Free sample of Tide TotalCare here
  • Free sample of Kotex here from WalMart
  • Get a coupon booklet worth $27 here
  • Get a free sample of BeneFiber here from WalMart
  • Free sample of Mosturizing Renewal Creme here
  • Get an Orajel coupon here
  • Free sample of Neutrel Heartburn Relief bar here
  • Get Free Coffee and Tea here
  • Free sample of earplugs from E-A-R here
  • Join the Zoe's foods Consumer Advisory Panel for coupons and a free sample of Zoe's Granola here
  • Get a free Chocolate Explosion Recipe book here
  • Speaking of Recipe books, there are a whole bunch more over at Coupon Cravings here
  • Free American Indian themed notecards here
  • This website is broken on my PC - but supposedly they have a free sample here
  • You can get a free sample of Montreal Steak Seasoning here - Newsletter registration required for free sample.
  • Deal Seeking Mom has a good roundup of free magazine subscriptions here!
  • Free sample of Earthblend Super Premium Dog Food for new customers only here
  • Free T-shirt for signing up for publication here
  • Free sample of VetBalance sample with brochure here - If you select the free shipping option, you do not have to supply a credit card.
  • Free sample of Trojan condoms here
  • Free sample of Dove ProAge here
Frugal Articles and Other Stuff! :)
  • Mommy Making Money has a great roundup of free or cheap summer movie options here
  • I went to a matinee of The Dark Knight with Alison on Saturday, we only paid $6 each :) There was a trailer for the Watchmen, which is celebrated as like, the best graphic novel ever! Get a free copy of the Watchmen Motion Comics on iTunes until August 1st here!
  • A great way to save money is to only buy Fruits and veggies when they are in season... Wise bread has a great list here - of Fruits and Veggies in season by month!
  • Money Saving Mom has a post about Free Passes to indoor water parks! I live in Boston, and my folks live near Waterbury, and I have never heard of this place, but I'll have to go looking now :) See here for details.
  • Money Saving Mom also has a coupon for a free American Greeting card at CVS here
  • Cheesecake is only $1.50 at The Cheesecake Factory on 7/30/08 via Consumerist here
  • Hooray for Free-bates! has a post about Sales Tax holidays here - Massachusetts doesn't have one, but I'll have to remind Alison and my parents that they Connecticut one is coming up fast!
  • My Good Cents has a post about a great Survey Site here - I haven't personally used this one, but I'll be signing up!
That's a lot of stuff to sign up for!


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Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Benefits of Frugal Living

Katharine here.  Just wanted to introduce our first guest poster, Miranda from DestroyDebt.com!
One of the personal finance trends gaining popularity right now (especially with the current economy) is frugal living. Frugal living is a lifestyle in which you spend much less than you earn, and take steps to avoid excessive consumerism. And, increasingly, frugal living is becoming tied to green living. While it may seem that frugal living is a recipe for denying yourself, the truth is that there are plenty of benefits involved in frugal living.
Benefits of frugal living
Frugal living includes a variety of benefits that can help you change your thinking. Once you start looking at frugal living as a way to benefit, you'll be surprised at how much more appealing it is.
  1. Save more money. This is probably the benefit that comes most often to mind when you think of frugal living. With frugal living, you take the time to get the best value for your dollar, helping your budget stretch further. Additionally, frugal living includes a lifestyle of fewer consumer purchases, so you spend less money buying things you don't really need anyway.
  2. Enjoy better health. In many ways, frugal living can help you enjoy better health. If you are buying your produce at the farmer's market to avoid pesticides and chemicals, you are keeping harmful chemicals from your body. Consider this: Walking, public transportation and riding your bike all require more exercise than driving your car. And you don't have to spend money on gas. And, if you plan to prepare and eat more meals at home to save money, you will have less processed food and fewer "filler" calories that do little beyond contribute to weight gain.
  3. Help the environment. Many frugal living practices are now being applied to the environment. Conserving energy, driving less, buying local when possible and reducing consumer waste are all things that help the environment while saving you money.
  4. Less stress. A consumer-based lifestyle is stressful. Having debt is stressful. Trying to figure out where to put all your stuff (and taking care of it) is stressful. Frugal living can help you reduce the stress you feel in your life, and it can reduce stress that you might feel in your relationships with others. Plus, frugal living means that you have room to build up your emergency fund, creating a safety net in case something unexpected happens.

Frugal living is a lifestyle choice. And it is one that can result in benefits for you that move beyond the financial. The choice to live frugally can also affect your health, your relations and even the environment.
Miranda Marquit edits information on debt consolidation for DestroyDebt.com.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Frugal Cooking: Practicing What We Preach

Part of what we've been addressing in this blog is how going green and being frugal can go together. Its a great experiment that, I think, so many people are getting interested in because of the environment and the economy. Not to mention the average person's hectic life, where its hard enough to make time to eat food, let alone make it. So really, what we are suggesting is a win-win: cook once, eat twice.

Now that may not really sound too appetizing. "Eating leftovers every other day? EVERY day?" This challenge is something all of us go through. We want the ease of a quick fix, without the pain of having to cook a meal from scratch. My advice is more of a compromise: cook a staple food and use that as a base for more than one meal. Voila!

Using myself as an example, let me tell you about the past two days for me. Last night I made my quick-fix marinara sauce--lovely chunky tomatoes, plenty of herbs, and layered flavors. Once again, all tomato products were free, the herbs were a gift, and the rest of the ingredients are quality, but inexpensive. That over spaghetti was my meal last night and there was some leftover sauce for another meal. But the important leftover was the spaghetti. Today, I had plans to go on a beach picnic and needed to pack a dinner. So, within about twenty minutes this afternoon, I pan-fried a slice of tofu and assembled a peanut-noodle dish using: left-over spaghetti! Simple and totally different. This wonderful dish is great cold and goes well with the wakame seaweed salad that I made as well.

This is a skill that I honed when I was living abroad in Scotland. Totally changing directions with a staple food becomes easier the more daring you're willing to be. Rice, for instance, provides limitless options almost and can easily be made in great quantities, to be refrigerated and saved for later. I once cooked a huge quantity and went from a Chinese side dish to Mexican to cold rice salad and finally to fried rice. Give yourself a chance and you'll be surprised with what you come up with! Cook once, eat multiple times!


More Technical Difficulties

Unfortunately, my internet is down again. Apparently it is not an outage this time, but a problem with my connection. I should be up and running again tomorrow, but may not post again until Friday.

Stay frugal!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Frugal Shopping: Shaws and Stop & Shop

Shaws has Rice-a-roni and Pasta-roni on sale this week for $1 a box.  There is a printable at Smartsource.  When I clicked on the food category, it was at the bottom of the first page.  Since Shaws doubles your $.50 off coupon, you get them free!  Stop and Shop also has Rice-a-roni on sale for $1 a box this week.  Does anyone know if they double?

Other good deals are Wishbone Bountifuls on sale for $2 each.  There are a few $1 off coupons, try here.  I also had one from a flyer, but I am not sure which flyer I got it from.

I also had a coupon for Wishbone salad dressing for $1 off two, and the 16oz vinaigrettes were on sale for $2, so I picked up 2 of those too.

I also grabbed a bottle of Hunt's ketchup since I have a free-bate for it, from here.

What did you guys pick up this week?

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Freebies

  • Free sample of Degree for Men deodorant here.  Click on the Hand, enter your zip code, hit submit, and then click 'get a free sample.'
  • Free sample of Clorox 2 Color safe bleach here.
  • Free sample of Zim's Freeze It - Advanced Therapy Pain Relief Gel here.
  • Free CFL bulb here.
  • Cheerios is offering a reminder to get a free box of Cheerios here.

Freebies are the most Frugal!

I talked about updating with freebies daily last week, and then I didn't sign up for any for a few days.  Here's what I signed up for this morning:

Free Bath and Body Sample here.
Rumor has it that if you sign up for the Tazo mailing list, they send you free samples of tea.  Go here and click on Be Enlightened.
Get a free sample of Playtex Sport, OB Tampons, Kotex sample pack, and Playtex Gentle Glide.
Get a free sample of Fiber One cereal here.
Free pirates and princesses poster here.

A few more over at Affluent Pauper!


PS - What do you use your freebies for?

Frugal Habits: Get the most for your money!

Provident Smart Checking promises a 5.01% APR interest rate (up to $25,000) on their free checking account!

This seems like a great rate, and you have to meet 3 simple requirements to get it.
  1. Make 10 POS transactions with your Visa Debit card per statement period.  These are the signature based transactions
  2. Receive one Direct Deposit or one automatic ACH debit per statement period.
  3. Receive online statements.
If you don't meet the requirements, you still earn a 0.25% APR interest rate.  If you have a balance of more than $25,000 you earn 2% APR

Now, I have never used this product. I don't know if there is a catch.  I would sign up, but I don't get direct deposit.  Has anyone used this? Is it too good to be true?  Please don't take this post as a reccomendation to sign up, and read all the associated literature!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Frugal Shopping: "New" to Me!

I thought this post might be a good time to bring up a favorite past-time shared by my parents and myself: giving a new home to previously loved treasures! We find them everywhere, from the street to tag-sales, flea-markets, and auctions. Originally, my mom started going to auctions because she is an art collector, but then my dad and I got on-board, especially with tag-sale-ing.

I've learned a lot about problem-solving from watching how my parents make use of their finds. For instance, after I graduated from college, my mother wanted to put on a graduation party for me, but we couldn't find the extra boxes of drinking glasses that had been put aside in a "safe place." So what to do? Well, the party was on Sunday, so on Saturday my mother went out tag-sale-ing. Lo and behold, she returns an hour later with about 1 1/2 dozen glasses that she bought for $0.10 each! What a success!

Of course there have been some other great finds throughout the years. When I was on the golf team in high school, a full set of golf clubs in a carrying bag was picked up for free by the side of the road. Various kitchen accessories have been found for under $1 or free from many places. My college coffee-maker for instance--left out by the road after someone's tag-sale...this college necessity was all mine for nothing!

After reading this, I hope the message you all get isn't to go dumpster diving (although I do have a cousin who used to do this--they actually do arrest you if you get caught!), but to explore other avenues of acquiring the things that you need. Yes, some things you may want to purchase from a store; like I have never bought previously worn shoes, eww! But sometimes, you get lucky, whether you're hunting for something specific or not. Just because someone else used it before you doesn't mean that its useless! Take a minute to take a drive, go tag-sale-ing on a Saturday morning, or join an online website like Freecycle.com. It will always be worth your time!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Frugal Shopping: The Farmers Market and Recent Freebies

Today I went to Haymarket. For those of you not from Boston, it is an insane Farmer's market that runs Friday and Saturday, all year round, rain or shine. My haul today was along the lines of the following:

3 leeks for $1 - I love leeks. I made an Asparagus leek risotto before, and I think it would work without the asparagus. I've also checked out A Year of Crockpotting, and it looks like its not hard to do in the crockpot which would be great!
2 Asian pears for $1.50
10 heads of garlic for $1
2 blocks of cheese for $5
1 Chayote for $1 - I'd never heard of Chayote before, I think I'm going to try something along these lines. Apparently I should have let the guy talk me into 2 for $1.50, but I'll make a judgment about that after I've tried it.

Recent Freebies!
Seattle's Best Coffee
Pantene Color Expressions - My mother uses this regularly. She has brown hair, but uses the blond expressions products, and her grey hair comes in blond!
Almond Accents - though I imagine the first 100 are long gone, as this was posted on Bargainist, there is also a coupon here.

This site has a resource to make sure your printable coupons are legit(thank you SlickDeals)! Both SlickDeals and FatWallet have active forums where you can find the most up to date freebies or hot deals (see the Freebies section in the right column). You can also get the forum as an RSS feed(see my blogroll in the right column). I wouldn't subscribe to my whole blogroll, it is ginormous, but it may be worth working off of!

That's all for now. We will be silent tomorrow, in mourning of my taking the GRE... I've certainly made up for it today! Hopefully on Sunday I will post about my Chayote or Risotto recipes!


Frugal Idea: Complain!

No Credit Needed just posted about his lack of internet at home.  This reminded me about what happened to me last week.  In an example of supremely bad timing, my internet went down for 3 days due to 'weather-related issues' when Alison and her houseguest... were MY houseguests.  When it went back up, I called the customer service line, and politely asked for a percentage of my monthly bill to be credited, as they were not providing me with the service I was paying for.  In about 15 minutes I got a $6 credit on my cable bill!  That's about $24/hour.  Not bad for something I can do while I am browsing the internet.  Though I will have to be sure to double check my bill when it comes to make sure I have received the credit.  If I don't I may look up some internet cafe rates for Boston and show them how much it could have cost me to go without internet for 3 days.

Moral of the story?  Complain, but do it politely!  If the cashier messes up(honestly Alison, complain a little more!), complain in line at the checkout.  If your utilities company messes up, call a customer service rep and complain!  Check your receipts, check your bills, don't let anyone cheat you out of your hard earned money.

Another thing to keep in mind is that everyone has different thresholds for complaining.  Alison's Walmart incident didn't cross her threshold, but my internet-outage sure did!  What is your threshold?

Frugal Failures: Shopping and Dining

Hello, everyone! So this is more of a post about frugal failures, unfortunately. Well, some successes, but in general, I think I got out of practice taking that vacation, haha.

So on Monday, I did a shortened version of my shopping rounds: Walmart, Stop and Shop, and Shoprite. Walmart was kind of a disappointment--the result was one tube of Colgate ($1-$1off coupon from P&G 6/29=free) and one tube of Crest ($1.66-$1off coupon from P&G 7/5=$0.82-->ok, the cashier messed this up clearly, but there was a big line and I didn't want to make a fuss). But anyway, $0.41 a tube for brand name toothpaste isn't all that bad.

At Stop and Shop I grabbed a couple of cans of Muir Glen diced tomatoes w/Italian herbs (the whole tomatoes were gone, but these were being discontinued as well). The price for these broke down to: $1.59-50%off-$1off coupon=free. I also picked up a package of Yo-plus vanilla yogurt (2/$4-$1=$1/1). I really like this brand because the cups are so convenient, without having the high price tag of other individual cups that cost at least $0.69-$1.19 each.

Finally, at Shoprite I picked up a bunch of Muir Glen tomato pastes ($0.99-$1off coupon=free) and a bottle of International Delight coffee creamer for $1.66. The latter I got because my mother's birthday was the next day and I wanted her to have something to make her morning special in a simple way. Also, Blue Bunny novelties weren't on sale at all, so that was a big disappointment in this weather.

I guess the other thing I need to start working on is remembering that I don't currently have a source of income. For instance, on my mom's birthday, she wanted to take me and my sister out to lunch. Yes, it would have been very nice, but I would have felt so terrible...So instead I snuck off to talk to the waitress and had her charge the bill to my card. And then, when my mom and sister saw me take the bill at the table to sign off on it, I got so nervous that I left a 25% tip, after, let's face it, pretty poor service. Grrr...The main point of this is that this is something I would normally do without thinking. The difference is that now, for the first time since I was 17, I have no independent source of income. I hate to stop doing spontaneous things like this for my family and friends, but I guess I have to be a little more sensible. Chalk it up to a frugal lapse.

The final frugal failures have been an attempt to go to the free family film festival with my mom(here), only to find it completely overtaken by busloads of camp-kids. Next time we try this, I'll definitely call the theatre ahead of time and ask if they are expecting any large groups! This was replaced by our weekly shopping trip, for which I had forgotten my coupon book...

Hopefully you all are having more success than I have had and I'll learn from my mistakes!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Frugal Update: Where was I last week?

Well, after such a long hiatus I've been dying to get my life back and get a chance to do an update! As Kathy mentioned in one of her previous posts, I spent a little more than half a week as her houseguest. Definitely the best frugal choice, as she was such a lovely, wonderful friend that she did not ask for any compensation from me and my friend from Toronto who also stayed with her! We enjoyed some new forms of self-entertainment (namely Guitar Hero III, my friend left with a severe addiction!) and some friendly meals together. Other fun things included coupon sharing and swimming.
Besides spending time with Kathy, however, which totally satisfied my inner femme-frugal, I also experienced the not-so-frugal side of Boston. Basically, I spent a lot of time going around the city with friends, who although well-meaning, definitely don't have the frugal ways that I've been trying to cultivate. I was able to encourage them to experience some highlights of Harborfest (Boston's Independence celebration, July 1-11) and the fun of window-shopping/poking around. I would definitely recommend walking around Charles Street (everything there is required to look historic--even the 7-11!) and if you've got the stamina like my group did, you can also treat yourself to a walk through the Boston Commons Garden, which looked very lovely with the roses in bloom.
The week definitely took a turn for the better once we got back home, though. On Friday, my friend stayed with me and we had breakfast and a small lunch at my house, followed by spending the rest of the day at Kathy's family picnic! This was probably one of the highlights of our weekend--it was a lot more relaxed than my house would have been, we went swimming in a rainstorm (awesome!), I got to play with a baby (yay!), and Kathy's brother set off some pretty impressive fireworks. Saturday only had one big expense, which was going to see the movie "Hancock" with Will Smith. Unfortunately, it was definitely not worth the $10.75 it cost to get in--and that was the matinee price! Sunday we enjoyed an amazing chance to view Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and "Cypresses"--completely free. This was preceded by a lovely lunch at a Turkish cafe, which served basket after basket of warm bread.

Now that everything has calmed down there will definitely be more updates! We'd love any comments about your frugal trips or experiences travelling with less-than-frugal companions!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Soliciting Feedback

In the little less than a month since we have started doing this, we have received almost 200 visitors. To be honest, a fair amount of these are probably myself logging on from different machines, and my family and friends, as I have shamelessly spammed them with the link to this blog. Today, I would like to talk to the rest of you.

I've toyed with the idea of doing a post of all the freebies I've signed up for, but I'm afraid that would get a bit overwhelming on a daily basis. On the other hand, on a weekly basis, there might be so many links it becomes difficult to manage, and some offers may have expired. What do you think readers?

PS - Free sample of Pantene Pro-V color enhancing shampoos and conditioners here. Free sample of Seattle's best coffee here. Free samples of Biore here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Carnival of Personal Finance and Technical Difficulties

We were listed over at the Carnival of Personal Finance! Take a moment to check it out. There are some great entries over there this week.

Unfortunately, my internet is down, and Alison is currently my houseguest, so it does not look like there will be any more posts this week. Next week you can look forward to some great content though!