Jan 18, 2010

Miscellaneous Tips for Living Frugally

Sometimes it seems that you have cut every possible corner in your budget, and yet you still have more month than money.  Even if you're doing fine financially, I'd like to post a few tips that I use that may be a blessing to you.  Every idea may not work for you, nor is every tip applicable to everyone.  Just a little something to help out!

Do-It-Yourself Haircuts:  I know this sounds extremely intimidating, but it really is a skill that I think anyone can learn.  When I was 12, my dad bought me a pair of clippers and had my brothers toss a coin to see who would get the last official barber's haircut.  I think my brother Harold won, and I remember sitting in the barber shop watching intently as the barber deftly and effortlessly cut his hair in about 10 minutes.  Fifteen years later, I am still cutting hair, but now it's my husband's, Ben.  Buy a used pair of clippers with the plastic guards and a pair of barber's scissors, and watch a few video tutorials on cutting hair.  Your first few attempts will probably take forever and not look as good as you would like.  As with anything, practice makes perfect.  Furthermore, my dad always say the difference between a bad haircut and a good one was only two weeks.  Oh so true!  My husband refuses to go to a barber, and always reminds me how much we've saved since we've been married.  In June, we will be married 5 years, so he estimates with a $10 haircut per month, we will have saved $600 or $120 per year!

Homemade Cards:  Ben bought a software program once that included a free Hallmark CD with free printable cards.  I don't remember the last time I purchased a special occasion card!  This particular program allows you to customize all the text, choose from a wide variety of artwork, as well as add additional text and photos!  I really love how personalized these cards can be.  I know people appreciate these homemade cards far more than the cards you pick up at the store.  They cost a mere fraction of the normal $3-4 cost of the store-bought cards, even considering printer ink and card stock.  I just did a quick search on Ebay for "Hallmark Card Software" and I saw several different editions for $15 or less.  I think this would be a great investment that would pay for itself very quickly.  I'm sure American Greetings or other card makers have similar programs, but I am not familiar with them personally.  This is an ideal purchase, especially if you are not crafty.

Rechargeable Batteries: This tip requires a little investment, but the returns on your investment make it well worthwhile.  Our little ol' Kodak digital camera eats batteries at the rate of 2 batteries per 30 pictures or less!  That was getting very costly in terms of missed pictures and money, and I decided to check out rechargeables.  I was able to purchase a charging unit and 4 Duracell batteries for about $15 at Rite Aid during a sale with rebate last year.  I loved how much money we saved, but I hated how fast the batteries ran out.  I eventually took the plunge and bought the more expensive rechargeables and I LOVE THEM!  They say 2650 mAh on them, and I have no idea what that means, but I know these batteries last!  I took 4 with me on my trip to Chicago, but I only used the two that were already in the camera for the entire trip!  I took about 100 pictures and at least 3 videos, and I had already used the batteries for about a week before my trip.   

Shop early for Christmas and birthdays:   This past Christmas, I was determined not to feel the Christmas gift pressure on our budget in December, so early in the year, around May, I began to scout out gifts.  I shopped resale shops, clearance aisles, and looked at household items twice to see if they could be to build a homemade gift before giving it away.  The only hard part about this technique is if you have a gift exchange with family, you don't know who you have until you do it.  It might not be a bad idea to request to do the name exchange at Easter or some other family gathering early in the year.   The one thing that I am really loving about this way of thinking is that I am already getting started on next year!  Because my mind is turned in that direction, I have been able to scoop up 2 good deals for nephews and nieces for this coming year!

Shopping surveys:  Ever notice on the back or bottom of your shopping receipt a little blurb about rating your shopping experience?  DO IT!  I have taken surveys for several companies and received coupons for free items or % off my next shopping order.  It seems nearly every company would like to know how you rate your experience with them.  I have gotten free bread from grocery stores, 15% off my next purchase at JCPenney (which could be combined with other coupons!), free shipping on my next order with an online company, and more.

Portrait coupons:  Most department store portrait departments or other portrait chains issue coupons.  Use them!  But have a strong backbone, or, if you're weak, carry only the cash you need to cover the cost of the photo package coupon and a sitting fee, if applicable.  This is especially true if you have children.  The portrait studios hope to lure you into their shop with the low portrait package, but their hope is that once you see the gorgeous shots they've taken, you'll be snuckered into buying one of their very, very pricey photo packages.  Usually the coupons are good for one pose, and it can be oh. so. difficult. to choose! 

If you have little ones and you plan to have their picture taken several times in a year, you should seriously consider purchasing a club membership at your favorite photographer.  I have a membership with JCPenney's Portrait Club.  It cost me $20, and I receive unlimited free sitting fees for two years.  This is well worth it for me, since they do a good job, and I will have another infant in August! 

Another thought: if you are planning a great big family photo of grandparents, babies, aunts, uncles, etc., consider buying the CD-ROM with copyright privileges.  We did this last year for our whole family, and the savings were significant.  We were able to get the rights to every picture taken, and we printed exactly the sizes and number we needed.  This included probably 30 poses or more.  The cost per family for each of the four families was about $30 if I remember correctly. 

Hope this helps!  Please leave a comment if you have another frugal tip that has really helped you saved money!  I love to hear what you are doing to save money!

3 lovely comments:

Karens-Korner said... Best Blogger Tips

Excellent tips... I try to be as frugal as I can... One tip I use is to find a breadstore... I can go to our discount breadstore and bring out 6 loaves of bread, package of bagels and cookies for $5. Cant do that in the grocery stores. These are NOT stale items. These are fresh as fresh can be and my freezer loves them.

Come on over and visit my blog as well.. gonna start posting more frugal stuff as well.

Be Blessed

Phyllis Blickensderfer said... Best Blogger Tips

Love that family photo! The CD is a great idea, and an innovation not available to us those many years ago. But, (she said with a mischievious grin) could the haircut be the reason for the current headcovering in the banner photo? (She continued to giggle.) Seriously, the savings on haircuts do add up. (And, I've seen pictures witihout the hat!)

content2be said... Best Blogger Tips

Very cute post, Grammy! You're a mischievous one, you are.