Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cash is king!

(As Dave Ramsey would say :) )
Retailers get starry eyed when you pull out a wad of cash.

Last year I had my car worked on, and the bill came to $740. I asked them (notice a theme? ) if they would let me give them $700 in cash. They didn't even hesitate. For a two minute drive to the bank, I saved $40. This works REALLY well for big purchases. I also did this when I got pest control last year. I asked them if they would give me a discount for paying cash. They knocked 10% off the bill. We've done this with everything from pest control to buying our Christmas tree.

Cash has the other benefit of making you really FEEL when you spend money. It hurts to lay down 7-$100 bills!!! You become more in touch with your money when you actually have to count it out and give it to someone. When I used to use my debit card for everything, a lot of times I wouldn't even hear what the cashier said my total was. I'd just hand over the debit card. A study done by Dunn & Bradstreet found that people paid an average of 12-18% more when they paid with credit cards rather than cash. McDonalds did a focus group study that showed that customers paid an average of 47% more when they paid with a credit card rather than with cash.

Want a discount? Ask!

Stores want your business. Even at chain stores, managers have a lot of leeway to keep customers happy.

Two weeks ago I needed to buy a new mop. The one I'd bought at Big Lots had broken within two times of using it, so I wanted one that would be better quality. Sack and Save had a nice looking one in their ad for $7.99. When I got to the store, the only one that they had that looked like the one in the ad, was marked $12.99. I asked the manager to show me where the one in the ad was. He couldn't find it either. I knew that if I stood in the aisle looking uncomfortable for long enough, that he'd try to keep my business. He walked me to the front of the store and told the cashier to give me the $12.99 mop for the sale price. So I got a much nicer mop than the one in the ad, for about half the price.

If you are at a store trying on clothes, and you notice a defect with your item, ask for a discount! I know that Sears will almost always give you 10% off for an item with a little stain or a little rip in the fabric. The same is true at the grocery store. I love to buy marked down milk and freeze it. At another grocery store the dairy manager asked me if I was finding everything okay. I told him yes, except I was hoping they would have some milk marked down. He went and got a marker and marked some milk down to 99 cents for me. Meat managers will do that as well.

I rarely have anyone tell me that they can't mark an item down, but even if I did, it didn't hurt to ask!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Frugal Cleaning supplies

Well, you all probably know by now that I do not hire a maid. In fact, I actually was a maid for a while, back when I first started college :)

It is extremely rare for me to buy cleaning supplies. I've found that baking soda and vinegar will clean almost anything, with the added bonus that they don't have the harsh chemicals that give my husband headaches.

I do usually buy some knock-off Comet, for when the tubs get really gross and the baking soda isn't cutting it, but the baking soda takes care of most jobs.

About five years ago, I took an old windex bottle, rinsed it out, filled it with 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water, and I've just been refilling it ever since. I use it to clean my kitchen/bathroom counters, floors, toilets, mirrors, etc. A couple of times a year I rent a rug-doctor to clean my floors, and instead of buying their expensive cleaner, I fill it with vinegar. It deoderizes really well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kids Haircuts

When Ethan was 2 1/2, I attempted to cut his hair to save money. I tried to convince myself that it looked okay if I combed it to one side and looked at it from a certain angle. We ventured to the grocery store and had no sooner passed the bananas when a woman asked my child, "Awww, did you cut your hair, honey?" To which I replied (with a smile, of course), "No, his Mommy did." I swore off trying to cut my child's hair, and just opted to let it grow long and shaggy until I was forced to take him to a professional to have it cut.

A couple of years ago, I borrowed Amy Dacyczyn's The Tightwad Gazette from my library. My favorite section was on how to cut a boy/man's hair. There was a very simple diagram and instructions on how to do it. It took me about an hour and a half and a very cranky kid, but I actually managed to do a good job! Since then, I usually cut my boys hair myself. I occasionally will take the older one in to get his hair cut, when there is a good coupon for a $6 haircut. I'm much faster at it now, of course :)

Andy's hair has been a challenge because he has these gorgeous baby curls that I love. So I decided yesterday to just trim it up. I really only know how to do an all over, short, boy cut, so this was new for me.

Savings (per haircut): $10

Friday, April 11, 2008

Finding deals on staples

I tend to shop at various stores, because I've noticed that certain stores always have things marked down, or always seem to have good deals on certain things (dairy, meat, produce). I've found this to be true in the last three cities that we've lived in. In Fort Worth, Sack and Save almost always has great deals on produce. I always check Kroger's ad vs. Sack and Save's ad. Save a lot is my staple store. If I can't find it on sale at Kroger or Sack and Save, I get it at Save a lot.

I found half gallons of milk at Save a lot for 50 cents. They were on their expiration date. I bought all nine that they had and froze them. We didn't buy milk for several months. Gallons of milk are on sale at Kroger right now for $3 a gallon. Savings: $18

I found butter at Sack and Save for 98 cents. I froze a bunch of them. Nothing wrong with them. Just a loss leader. I bought a lot....maybe 10? I usually spend $2 on butter at Sack and Save. Savings: $10

Jumping in!

I decided to jump on the blog bandwagon with my own blog about my frugal family! We are getting out of debt on the Dave Ramsey plan , and one of our strategies is frugality!

We've been living this way for two years, and so far we've paid off two family loans, a small credit card, and most recently, Michael's car! We've committed not to take on any more debt, including student loans. I am a full time student and we have paid for all of my school expenses in cash. We've cash flowed a root canal (me), big car repairs, and a two-week trip to Florida to see Michael's father who has been sick for a long time. Michael teaches at a private school and I work part-time at the YMCA while I go to school, so we have a very modest income.