Sunday, December 28, 2008

Credit Card Rewards

Okay this tip is not for the weak at heart. I have credit cards. I use credit cards. I pay off my credit cards. I have no problem with using credit cards and therefore I will seek out deals with credit cards. However, if you are someone who sees a low credit card balance and thinks it’s disposable income you need to not read any further.

I would rather use my credit card to buy gas, groceries and other day to day expenses instead of keeping cash on hand or using my debit card. Then when the bill comes in, I pay it off so I don’t accure interest. Since, I’m paying it off, I searched for a card that offers awards rewards that I want instead of a low interest credit card. Check out Index Credit Cards a site that keeps updated information on all credit card offers . Decide if you want cash back, points, miles or all of the above and find the card for you.

I use a card that gets me free miles. I keep track of my balance online and when it reaches a certain amount I stop using it. I have it set up to email me just before payment is due to remind me to go online and pay it by wiring money from my checking account to my credit card. Is that easy. And you can have extra cash in your pocket or you can horde the points for that HDTV you want.

Again who knows why you pick the cards you do.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Ok, maybe it's Fall Cleaning but still. I was looking in the usual spot for cleaners and I found them. A gaggle under the kitchen sink. A gross in the bathroom closet. All filled with chemicals and all costing $4 - $8 on bottle. Talk about an expensive waste of space.

Meet Vinegar. Vinegar is your friend. I'm sure you might have heard about the power of Vinegar. Do you doubt it's potency? Well I'm here to tell you, don't doubt. Run, do not walk to the stores throw down your $1.00 for a 32 oz bottle of white distilled vinegar and with the money you saved buy a spray bottle or two.

As a Window cleaner, use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Keep a spray bottle of this around.

For an all purpose cleaner use equal amounts of vinegar and water. This is perfect for counter tops, surfaces and as an every day cleaner. There goes your second spray bottle.

Just remember the stronger or harder the stain the stronger ratio of white vinegar you want to use. Poor it directly into the toilet to get rid of rings. Or add 1/2 cup to your laundry as a fabric softener. Possibilities seem endless don't they? Check out Vinegar Tips for a growing list of uses and stop throwing your money away on chemical laden wallet, emptying cleaning supplies.

Who keeps cleaning supplies out in the open anyways.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grocery Shopping for Deals

Grocery Shopping, I know you hate to do it, so you make it quick. Just run in and run out grabbing the things that you need for the next few days. If you go at all. You would be surprise how many
people skip the grocery store and order take out every night. But grocery shopping is a necessary evil especially if you are trying to save money. And you can't buy your Mr. Clean from Domino's. Taking the time to plan your visit will save you money every month. And yes you will notice the savings. If you are like me, you have 2-4 different grocery chains within a few miles from one another. And each one every week has specials for you to take advantage of. I'm not telling you to go to every store every week and I'm not telling you to buy something you wouldn't normally buy. But if boneless chicken breasts are on sale for $1.99 / pound why would you just buy enough for one meal? Priced normally at $5.99 and up, buying several pounds of chicken and freezing it for future meals adds up to huge savings. Only use Tide to do laundry. Well guess what, when it goes on sale by two or (gasp) even three and you have enough to last you until the next time it goes on sale. Only use Gillette razors - well you get what I'm talking about. It's called the art of stock piling. And it saves people $$$$ every time you shop. Every week, grocery stores send you their weekly specials in the mail and more than likely every week, you throw them out, without looking at them. Well glance at them next time you are eating your shrimp fried rice. Find out which store has the most items of your favorite items on sale, MAKE A LIST, and spend some time visiting the aisles of your grocery stores, stocking up on your favorite items. Look at that insert, Cereal is only $2.00! There are pages of sale items every week from stores begging for you to visit them. Note, If you don't get the sale circulars in the mail you can always go on-line and view the weekly sales from the store's website. Most even have the ability to create a shopping list on line so you can print a ready to go list.

Also, in order to ta
ke advantage of most sales, you have to join their club. DO IT! It's harmless. If you don't want to carry a card every where you go or if you are prone to losing them, several stores can look you up by phone number. And if you are still paranoid more than likely, the cashier or the customer next to you in line can offer you one to scan - especially since they are getting the credit for your purchases which adds up to bigger savings (for another post, don't want to confuse you).

I admit, I feel funny when I have four boxes of Cocoa Puffs in my cart and on my shelfs but I can't live without my chocolate fix. And if I can have it and save money at the same time, I'm CucKoo for them (sorry, had to throw that in)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lower You Heating Costs

I know, I live in sunny California so what do I know about Winter chills. But I didn't always live here. I remember the cold frosted days that freezes your lungs from the inside. Even worse I remember how much money I spent every month keeping my house warm when it was 20 degrees outside. So despite the fact that I tend to keep my windows open in December, I'm going to pass a huge money saver to all of my northern friends.


Don't believe me? Wait until January and place your hand on a window. Feel how cold it is? Hold a match to your window. Does it flicker? That's cold air leaking into your house and dollars leaking out of your windows. Now step into your time machine so you are back in the present and can do something about your windows.

Windows Stay SnugYou can find these anywhere. Hardware store, Grocery Stores, Drug Stores even Bed Bath and Beyond (yep another use for those coupons stored in your car). They come in a variety of sizes, even ones large enough to cover a door-wall. Buy whatever brand you want, they all work the same. Apply the two-sided tape around your window, stick the wrap on it, trim to size (if necessary). The last step, use your hairdryer to tighten up the seal, remove wrinkles and make it clearer so you can see the ice clinging to the trees outside. In the spring pull it off and enjoy the summer breeze. Note: to get the double side tape off without any residue bring out that tested hairdryer to heat up the tape and it will loosen up a bit for easy wipe off.

Feeling ambitious and want something you can reuse every year. If you are the do it yourself type. Click on over to the Everyday Crafty Goodness blog for instructions on how to make your own window insulators that can be rolled up and reused year after year. I was never that ambitious.

Honestly, you would be surprised how many people insulate their windows this way and you just never noticed since they are behind curtains and shades. Beside you can laugh to the bank with the money you save every month with this tip so who cares.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Save Money by Going to the Doctor

I know you hate going to the doctor and you really hate spending money going to see someone who may cause you pain. But I bet if you think about it, now is the perfect for an appointment. Why? Because I bet you met your out of pocket deductible for the year.

Remember back in January when you had the flu? And then in May when your allergies were acting up. How about the physical you had last month. All of those appointments drained your wallet and savings account but it also did one other thing. It when against your yearly deductible. Double check and I bet you will be in the same position that I am in right now. Sitting pretty with a paid off deductible and a check list of things to take care of.

That puts us in a big money savings situation because outside of an office co-pay which is anywhere from $20 - $30, other fees will be paid 100% by your insurance. That includes the expensive blood work and lab fees that occur on any typical visit. Schedule a yearly physical with full blood work and see how much you save while you are taking care of yourself. Just think what you would have to pay if you made that appointment, in the new year.

Go see the podiatrist about that unsightly foot odor - it's paid for. What to have a mole checked out and removed make an appointment to see a dermatologist - it's paid for.

Save even more money if you are on a family plan and have matched your family deductible, make sure everyone schedules appointment for what they want and more importantly what they need.

Again this money saving tip is for your own good and has no side effects.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shopping for Quality not Price

There was this store (to be nameless) where I use to buy my jeans. I would go in, buy a $30 pair of jeans and wear them for one year. Almost to the day one year later, those jeans would become torn, ragged and shredded in the knees. Now I'm not saying I would throw them out, wearing torn jeans, especially ones that happened, instead of bought are great. But I would still have to buy another pair of non-holed jeans. So off I would go to the same store and buy another pair of $30 jeans.

I did this three years in a row and then I realized, I spent a combined total of $90 on jeans with a combined shelf life of 3 years. I decided to suck it up and spend $90 on one pair of jeans. That was 5 years ago. I'm wearing those $90 jeans as I type this and they are perfect. Worn a bit to make them relaxed but no holes no tears.... perfect. At this rate, they will last 5 more years.

Lets do the math:
One $90 jeans for five years is $18 a year. (not counting the fact that I am wearing them longer than 5 years.
Three $30 jeans for three years is $30 a year.

I came out ahead with the more expensive pair of jeans AND they fit better, they look better and they are more stylish. So am I telling you to go spend over $100 on a pair of high quality jeans? Well if they are stylish WITHOUT being trendy they will last more than a season before going out of style and, most importantly, you look great in them; definitely!

You need to start looking at a cost per wear factor not a cost per item. Obviously I'm not telling you to spend $150 on a pair of sequined purple velvet jeans that you are going to wear to for one night and never wear them again because they are so last year. But for a classic pair of denim suck it up spend the money on quality and enjoy them knowing in the end you are coming out ahead.

Are you kidding? You actually look like you have money when people see that designer label across your bottom. And less waste so feel good that you are helping lessen the load on landfills with the holier than thou cheap jeans

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gas Prices

I wasn't actually going to even post this tip thinking that everyone knows about but I was shocked when a co-worker said, "I wish there was a site that told us where the cheapest gas is." Unless you have a Costco membership (and why would I have that as a single person living in Los Angeles. I have no use or space for 120 rolls of paper towels unless I wanted to create a bed with them) is the know all of gas prices, even covering our friendly Canadian Neighbors to the north.

Enter your zip code and it will immediately pull up all the gas stations near you and highlight the cheapest one (wow $3.23 down the street from my work). Use the filters to confirm that the high end or diesel is also the cheapest in your area. But before you drive 10 miles to save $.05 / gallon on gas do the math, it's probably worth it to go to the closer place than to drive further away.

If you feel like volunteering, sign up on their page and you can enter your own gas prices. Volunteers are entered in sweepstakes for prizes, money and of course gas cards. Not too shabby if all you have to do is look out your office window and the local Arco.

Of course I could tell you to slow down saving you even more gas but that's no fun. And you mom already told you to do that.

If you are driving by 5 gas stations to get to the cheap one it's going to look a little odd but just tell your passengers the bathrooms are cleaner.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Drinking Water on the Go and at Home

I know your lips aren't going to touch your city's water right from the faucet especially after reading the latest study (don't ask just google it) but does that mean you should be spending so much money on bottled water?

Even if you buy it in bulk or large jugs at a time it still adds up to a lot of money on basically something that we grew up drinking for free. And if you really think about it, it's almost as yucky as drinking from the same unwashed plastic bottle and it is drinking from the bathroom sink. If you don't believe me, leave your Evian water bottle out in the hot car all day and then smell it the next day. That smell, that's heated plastic and that can't be good for you.

I'm not telling you to suck it up and drink from the kitchen sink because that doesn't help when you are on the go (and see google link above for the other reason). My solution, I bought a filtered water pitcher. Both
Pur and Brita make great pitchers just find the one you like keep, it in the fridge filled with water and presto you have filtered water. If you want, buy the adapter for your faucet and you won't have to worry about someone leaving an empty pitcher in your fridge. I prefer the pitcher since it's in the fridge it's always cold which is just the way I like to drink my water.

Now, I know you aren't going to take the water pitcher and throw it in your gym bag so you have to make one more purchase. A reusable water bottle.
Sigg makes a ton of bottles. Same with Kleen Kanteen. Actually you find reusable water bottles anywhere from Bed Bath & Beyond (hey you can use your coupon) to the 99 cent store. Just do yourself a favor, stay away from reusable bottles that are made out of polycarbonate. These have been known to contain chemicals that can be harmful to your body, especially when heated (remember that hot car).

I know it looks like I'm costing you money with this tip. $25+ for the pitcher, $10+ for filters and $10+ for a water bottle. But think how much money you spend on water in a month and I bet you have the money to buy the pitcher and bottle. Save the filters for the following month with all of the money you save then. And you are set for a while. And if you really want to get petty, you are saving money on garbage bags too by not filling them up with your plastic bottles of waste. It's a cheaper alternative and lets face it, it's a greener alternative so you are killing two birds with one stone.

Please this actually makes you look like you have money toting around with a "designer water bottle" You are too good for Arizona Springs anyways.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bed, Bath & Beyond Coupons

You get them in the mail every week, they show up in your Sunday paper. They populate like rabbits and I bet you throw them all away. Well knock it off! Don’t you know how much money you can save. Especially since:

1. Even though they say they expire - they don’t. You can use them no matter how old they are.
2. You can use Bed Bath & Beyond Coupons at Linens & Things and vice versa.
3. You can used one coupon PER item you buy. So yes for those sitting in the cheap seats, if you have 5 $100 items you can use 5 coupons saving you 20% off of each item. Not bad.

Make sure you pay attention to the coupon some of them say $5.00 off of $20.00, $10.00 off of $30.00 and once or twice a year they send out a 20% off of your entire purchase. But generally what you see above is what you get. So stick a few in your cars or at work so you have them for those days when your toilet overflows and you need to buy a plunger (I speak from personal experience on that one).

Remember both stores sell a lot more than just towels and sheets. After all it is Bed, Bath & Beyond!!!! Appliances, candles, cleaning supplies, and yes even coffee and food. Seasonal items like Margarita Mix in May and Hot Chocolate in December I even saw a Beer of the Month box there once (hiccup).

Go in, take a look around but don’t forget the coupons.

Not too bad. Can perhaps be a higher rating if you walk to the register with 15 items and 15 coupons but trust me, those cash register girls are use to it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Free Books, DVD & Music

Free Books, DVD & Music
Originally uploaded by

There are a couple of media swapping sites that seem like a great concept. You list the items (books, DVD or Cd's) you have that you want to get rid of. When someone wants the item, you get an email and you send it out. When they receive it, they mark it as received and now you have a free credit that you can use to request something. Obviously it cost to mail out your item but then you get the ones you want for free. Cheaper than buying used on Amazon! They all start you off with 2-3 credits if you list a certain number of items. Below are three that I have used and love. This site is for books only. List 5 items get one credit, List 9 get two credits. So far I have sent out over 20 books and requested almost as many. This site is clean, easy to navigate and you can rate the condition of your book and choose what condition book you want to have. You can hide that reader's copy of "Reckless Abandonment" while showing the like new copy of "The Great Gatsby".

It started with
Paperbackswap and soon SwapaCD showed up followed by SwapaDVD. List 10 books to get 2 credits (DVDs and CD have similar setups). They also have a forum where people can discuss and review items. The only thing I don't like about this site is you have no idea what kind of condition the book that you request is in. It can't be an Advance Readers copy or anything like that but it could still be in poor condition. But I guess that's okay if I just wanted to read it and then list it again. And you can leave feedback so you can read other people experiences with the trader. What makes this site the best is you can put an item on your wish-list you fall in line behind other wishers and when it's your turn, they will email you and hold the item for 48 hours while you decide if you want it our not. This also seems the busiest so there are more books available.

Titletrader - You don't get any credit until you ship out your first book. But then you get 3 credits which you can use to request books, Cd's, magazine, DVDs and games. Actually they have everything you can exchange for credits, I even saw candles and ornaments. It has similar features of the other two. You can list the condition of the item and you can give feedback to the sender. They require a fee to use some of their 'premium services' ($19.95 / year) which I don't find useful, but you get 30 days free to try it out. After that I can still use the site I just can't create buddylists and save my searches. Which is no big deal.

Take what you want use what you need and get rid of what you don't. Keep a steady flow of entertainment in your house without paying retail. And no one is the wiser.

Please who is going to know where you got your Harry Potter from Barnes and Noble or

About This Blog

So here’s the deal. I’m single, 30 something and live in Los Angeles. I am living as a single income household yet refuse to let that stand in the way of having what I want and deserve. I have no credit card debt (okay very little credit card debt - lets be honest here), I live alone in a beautiful home (okay wait I have a cat), drive a Mini and am constantly seeking out little tricks to continue my way of life WITHOUT going into debt and WITHOUT compromising.

My plan, to show you my tricks and ideas to maintain the way of life that you deserve especially in these times of high gas prices, housing, education, groceries and well lets just face it, everything is rising except your salary. And it sucks. The only way to fight it is to lower your cost of living and that’s where I come in.

No I’m not talking about buying two-ply toilet paper and turning it to one-ply so it lasts twice as long (does that even work?) or using only one sheet ala Sheryl Crow. I’m not talking about buying used underwear and socks. And I’m really not talking about relying on handouts from your parents.

I’m talking about discreet ways to cut costs on everyday things so you can enjoy some of that hard earned money you work for. How discreet? Well that led me to my next idea. How about a scale that shows you how discreet it is so you can decide if you want to be flamboyant in your frugalness or have everyone assume you make twice your salary based on the material things in your life.

Stay Tuned!