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Christmas Shopping Help – Free Shipping Day December 17!

December 11, 2010 · Filed Under Frugality · 2 Comments 

It seems like everyone is extremely busy nowadays – especially this time of year (you might have noticed how long it has been since I published a post. In fact, I’ve been too busy to even read my BFN email lately – I apologize if you’ve written me an email lately but haven’t received a response yet!). Parties, Decorations, shopping, travel (or preparing for visitors), cooking, shopping, and doing all those end of year financial tasks that I’m positive my readers take care of each year! Oh, and did I mention shopping?

Free Shipping Day

Well, for those of us who like to do as much shopping on-line, in the comfort of our own homes, in comfortable (and warm) clothes, at whatever time of day is convenient (last year my pregnant wife did most of our shopping in the middle of one night when she couldn’t get to sleep!), I’d like to point out an upcoming event that might hold a great deal of interest for you- Free Shipping Day 2010!

Free Shipping Day this year occurs later this week – Friday December 17th – and it is pretty much what it sounds like it is. According to the website, FreeShippingDay.com, “On Friday, December 17, more than 1,000 participating merchants will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve in the continental United States.” In fact, the website currently states that more than 1300 merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day.

These include big name merchants such as Sears, Ann Taylor Loft, Office Max, Toys R Us, and so on. For those with kids (like me) you might be interested to know that Melissa and Doug is participating. For those who play around musically (like me) you might also be interested to know that Guitar Center is participating. Ok, I’m not going to list all of them!

So, if you are still scrounging around for those little minute gifts and don’t have the time to actually leave your house and scrounge around for them, you might want to check out the participating merchants.  Hopefully you can get that perfect something (or that list of perfect somethings) and still get it shipped in time for Christmas without paying more for shipping costs than you do for the actual gifts!

Guest Post: Remodeling in a Recession: Why You Shouldn’t Wait

June 29, 2010 · Filed Under Frugality · 4 Comments 
Today’s guest post was contributed by Jennifer Kardish.  Jennifer is a communications coordinator at Kitchen Cabinets. You can check out their free design tips for your kitchen and home.

With the economy still in a decided downturn and foreclosures reaching all-time highs, now might seem like the worst time in recent history to think about remodeling your home. It certainly won’t be easy to get a loan or a line of equity on your house with the real estate market slow to rebound and banks pulling the purse-strings tighter and tighter. However, if you can find a way to scrape together a little cash, or if you’ve been saving, now is a great time for the frugal shopper to do some home upgrades.

For starters, a little can go a long way in this economy. Retail spending is, simply put, not what it was. Vendors that were thriving a few years ago are now being forced to slash prices and even close their doors. The point is, they want your business! And you can use it to your advantage. Shop around to find the products you want and you will be amazed at the discounts you discover (shopping online may be even more fruitful). Then go to several stores and find out if they are willing to price match or give you a better deal to stop you from going to the competition. You can often get an outrageous bargain just by asking for it. Also, if you’re on a tight budget, consider a merchant that sells reclaimed items (like flooring, cabinets, hardware, etc.). Although it may not be the newest product on the market, and it might have a little wear and tear, you can often find merchandise that has a higher value (in terms of construction, quality, materials, etc.) than you could get for the same price if you bought something new.

And that’s just the parts. You can also save on labor. Of course, there is always the do it yourself method, which is great for handy people. For the rest of us, a contractor is necessary to get the job done. And while contract work has a bad reputation for getting very pricey, very quick, we are currently in a buyer’s market. Building of new structures has slowed significantly and as a result, the market is flooded with contractors looking for work. If you seek several bids (make sure to get recommendations) you stand to save a lot of money on labor. That said, don’t be afraid to do some of the work yourself. Almost anyone can learn to install a backsplash, replace a lighting fixture, or swap out a faucet, so get yourself a home improvement guide to save even more.

Why wait to build your dream home? Even if you plan to upgrade as a way to get more value out of your house, you don’t have to wait until you’re ready to sell. Remodel now, while you can get the best price, and you stand to appreciate an even better return on your investment in a few years when the housing market rebounds. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a custom-made interior in the mean time.

Guest Post: Reduce Your Energy Bills Effortlessly

February 24, 2010 · Filed Under Frugality · 4 Comments 

Winter is a time of increased power consumption, and therefore a good time to mobilize and begin saving energy to make bills as painless as possible. Easy to say, but is it difficult to do?  It doesn’t have to be. Here are some simple changes that you can introduce to your daily routine to save some cash with little effort.

  1. When cooking, use as little water as possible and cover the pot with a lid. This simple rule can save up to 15% on energy, and your meal will be ready faster!
  2. If you have a pressure cooker, use it when possible. It can save you up to 40% on energy.
  3. Don’t keep refrigerators and freezers colder than necessary. The correct temperature for refrigerator compartments is 38° F, and 5° F for a freezer. If possible, don’t keep the fridge close to heaters and don’t leave the doors open longer than needed. It will use more energy to cool back down.
  4. Defrost food in the refrigerator. It will give away the cold, resulting in consuming less energy. On the other end, don’t put hot products inside the fridge, as the appliance will have to work harder to keep the temperature low.
  5. Remember that electronic devices left on standby are still considerable power eaters. Fortunately, they can be stopped without incurring any additional spending. Simply shut them off completely when going to work or to bed. TVs, radios, DVD and CD players, electric toothbrushes, printers, scanners, copiers, you name it. Stop them from eating your money!
  6. Most computers have power management features, so use them! Set up your PC so that the monitor enters sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity and turns off after 30 minutes.
  7. Surprising as it may be, a charger left in the socket still consumes energy. Unplug it once your mobile phone or MP3 player is fully charged.
  8. Run your washing machine only when fully loaded. In many cases, pre-washing or high temperatures are not necessary and require more energy. If possible, let your clothes air-dry.
  9. Use 100% of your dishwasher’s capacity, and check for eco-friendly options.
  10. Avoid excessive heating or air conditioning. If you feel cold, try putting on a sweater before turning the thermostat up. Turn the heat off when leaving doors or windows open.

As you can see, it’s easy to start saving on utility bills today. You just need a little patience and practice to make use of these simple tips in your everyday life. Of course once you put aside a little bit, I encourage you to invest in energy-saving solutions. Always look for the Energy Star logo when choosing appliances, lightning, heating and cooling systems, home electronics, or office equipment.

Today’s guest post was contributed by PennySaverUSA.com.  Visit them online to find energy-saving appliances for sale.

Guest Post: How to Search for Money-Saving Opportunities on Google and Twitter

August 25, 2009 · Filed Under Frugality · 3 Comments 
Today’s guest post is provided by Ann Smarty. Ann Smarty (http://annsmarty.com/) is a search marketer, Internet entrepreneur and social media enthusiast.  Please have a read, leave a comment, and check out her site…

Saving money is not only about counting each penny: it’s about being informed. To be able to find useful timely information, you should be aware of smart Google and Twitter search tips:

1. Search Google

Google has recently tweaked its search interface in a way that it became more shopping-friendly: now you can search for reviews, forums as well as see most recent updates. The options are available in the left sidebar after you click “Show options“. Let’s see how these innovations can help you in practice:

Reviews: that’s easy: just search for anything you plan to buy, then just choose “reviews” in the sidebar and the search will be refined:

Google search: reviews

Forums: this handy option allows to see relevant discussions related to your shopping plans. Use it if you need to know what others say about the thing you are going to buy.

Google: forum search

Time Frame: this option allows to sort search results by time to find updates published past 24 hours, a week or a year. The best thing about the option is that it can be used in conjunction with the above ones – thus you can find most recent reviews or forum discussions:

Google search: time frame

Search any site: with site: Google command you no more need to look for the site search option. With it, you can search your favorite site and enjoy the above mentioned tmeframe sorting.

Example: say, I want to find all recent deals and coupons for laptops on my favorite budgeting community Buxr.com. All I need is to search Google for [site:buxr.com laptops] plus using “Past 24 hours” option in the left sidebar:

Google site search

2. Twitter Search

Twitter search is another great tool budget shoppers can take advantage of. It may turn especially useful if you are aware of some less known but useful tips:

Negative reviews: Twitter search allows you to find what people are saying about the product right now and moreover, what dissatisified people are saying. Just use 🙁 sign when searching and you will be shown Tweets with some emotional coloring:

Example: [Godaddy 🙁]

Twitter search: negative reviews

Questions: Knowing what questions people ask when discussing something may clear up some things you would be unaware of otherwise.

Example: [ipod touch ?]

Twitter search: questions

JetBlue’s “All You Can Jet!” – Offer Ends Tonight

August 18, 2009 · Filed Under Frugality · 2 Comments 

Update: All the Passes are Sold Out

Let me start off by saying that I love JetBlue.  I’ve only flown using them one time but it was quite lovely.  And now whenever I need to fly anywhere, the first airline I look for is JetBlue.

“Fly anywhere you like, as often as you like”

Speaking of JetBlue, I came across this interesting opportunity recently – JetBlue’s new “All You Can Jet!” pass for $599.  Basically, you buy the pass and then you can fly (on JetBlue, of course, but that’s the best part) “anywhere you like, as often as you like” from September 8th to October 8th. In fact, for domestic travel, taxes and fees are also included in the price (though you will have to pay taxes and fees for international flights and flights to Puerto Rico).  One other caveat is that you need to schedule your flights via the phone – you can’t use their normal web reservation system.  A cool feature is that you can change or cancel flights for no extra charge as long as you do so more than 3 days in advance.

This is a pretty intriguing deal, though unfortunately I won’t be able to take advantage of it (we only have one trip planned during the time period and we already bought the plane tickets).  I’ve never heard of such a deal before from an airline so I applaud their effort to try to do something a little different.  But does this deal make financial sense?  Certainly if you can travel often during the month, you could make out very well with the plan.  But I think you’d probably want to be pretty sure that you will be able to use it enough to get your money back.

Probably best for people with flexible schedules or for business travelers

If you were single or a couple with no kids and your schedule was very flexible that month, this might be a great way to get a whole bunch of travel in during a short period of time.  I can think back a few years before we had kids where I might have jumped at this opportunity to spend each weekend for a month in a different city – catching up with old friends, exploring new places, maybe even taking some days off work and making an international trip.

If you are a frequent business traveler, then you might also be able to reap some serious benefits by purchasing the pass.  Maybe you have some trips scheduled next month or maybe this enables you to finally make all those customer visits you’ve been trying to get in.

Of course, there is some fine print to the offer that you will want to check out before purchasing.  But if you are interested, make sure you read up and make your decision – the opportunity to buy the pass ends Wednesday, August 19th 2009 at 8 PM MDT.

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