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How to Eat Free on Election Day

November 4th, 2008 at 01:29 pm

You're certain to be hungry after standing in line to vote!

Check out How to Eat Free on Election day for meal deals.

CVS Savings Alert

August 18th, 2008 at 09:26 pm

My new life is proving to be busier than my old life, but I will resume regular posting again, soon.

If you're male, there's no need to continue to read.

In the meantime ladies: head on over to CVS and pick up a 72-count box of CVS Brand Tampons (plastic or cardboard) for $2.99. That's $10 off the regular price of $12.99.

Spending and Selling

July 23rd, 2008 at 02:10 am

Sidestream Income:
$3279.93 old total
$60.00 dehumidifier
$100.00 kitchen table and chairs
$25.00 artwork
$100.00 washer/ dryer
$40 reel lawn mower
$20 area rug
--------------------------
TOTAL: $3624.93

I'm still alive! I just need about 4 more hours in the day in order to get everything done.

I told Mr. Bean I've been too busy spending money to post!

Although I've been doing my share of spending, I've also been doing some selling of things that either don't work in our new place or were sold just as we moved but I hadn't added to the tally yet.

The money from the sales is helping to off set some of the moving expenses and purchases for the new place. We didn't really buy much for the house after we got married in 2004 since we were starting grad school, so we're upgrading some of our ramshackle furniture.

The largest of the purchases was a new-to-me dining room table, chairs and sideboard off Craig's List for $1000. The furniture is from Crate and Barrel and according to the seller cost over $4000 in 2002. The seller was asking $1200, but took my offer of $1000. It looks great in our new place and I can envision this being our dining set for the rest of our lives. I suffered from some serious sticker shock once I started looking at new furniture. Used is definitely the way to go. Not only is it cheaper, but it also allows you to see how a piece wears after a few years of use.

The next thing we're looking for is lamps and night tables. Anyone selling anything? :-)

Prix Fixe Anniversary

June 6th, 2008 at 06:13 pm

I'm with Mr. Bean weekend to celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, since I left my place on Thursday morning I wasn't able to find a rider to take with me since most riders want to go for a weekend trip. Oh well. This should be my last trip here before I move here for good.

To celebrate our actual anniversary (it was Thursday), we went out to a nice restaurant meal and had the before 7pm Prix Fixe option of 3 courses for $32. Appetizers were priced $9-11, entrees were $20-$24, and desserts were around $7, so the Prix Fixe was a good way to go.

Hello, Lover!

June 4th, 2008 at 02:43 am

All the Sex & the City afficionados know this is what Carrie says when she spies a pair of Manolo Blahniks in the window of an upscale boutique.

I had a similar reaction this weekend. Only I was in the Goodwill. And the shoes cost 2.50. But aren't they beautiful?



I went to the Goodwill to drop off some clothes, but I convinced myself to go inside. The Goodwill in my new town might not be as plentiful, right?



This find was especially fortuitous because I was in the market for a pair of shoes just like this. You know, for walking to school. Kidding. Here's the story-- In summer of 2006 I bought this dress on eBay:



It has served me very well. I've worn for at least 4-5 different weddings and am taking it on the wedding circuit again this summer. However, the shoes I wear with this dress have never done the dress justice. I told myself that if I saw a reasonable priced pair of strappy, gold shoes at a store this summer I should buy them as a reward for getting 3 seasons of weddings out of the dress. Yes, I know that's irrational.

I thought I would end up getting a good deal if I found a paid for under $30, so imagine my glee when I saw these FOR LESS THAN $3!

But the good fortune didn't end there! Oh no! Then I spotted these pointy toe leather Bandolinos for $5 (perfect for jeans or black pants),

and then these adorable brown leather Naturalizers for $3.25.


Total cost: $10.75

Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw.

My New Favorite Freebie

May 31st, 2008 at 01:44 pm

I'm in love. With a woman. Her name is Pandora.

I think you'll fall in love with her, too.

Pandora is the culmination of project started in 2000 which assembles hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. To quote the Pandora site:

Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.


So what does this mean for you? Pandora allows you to create, for free, "stations" by defining musical elements you like, specific singers, bands, etc. There are no audio commercials, just free streaming music chosen specifically for the qualities you indicate. Furthermore, you can give individual songs a thumbs up or down to further guide Pandora to the types of music you like. Also, unlike radio, if you don't like a song you can just push a button and move onto the next.

Check it out! But beware, like a new relationship, you might find yourself wanting to spend all your free time with her!!

Free Suze Orman "Women & Money"

February 14th, 2008 at 03:53 pm

Download a free copy of Suze Orman's book "Women and Money" until 8pm tonight from Oprah's web site.

The related show looks very interesting. Unfortunately I'm traveling and won't be able to watch my Tivo'ed episode until next week!

1/3 Life Crisis!

January 17th, 2008 at 04:00 am

Sidestream Income:
$701.93 old total
$25 babysitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $726.93

I earned $25 babysitting this evening. Thanks to the house sitting earlier this month 2008 is looking GREAT!

Now, if I can only quell my spending! I just ordered the granddaddy of ceramic hair flat irons for $100 earlier today. Designer jeans, highlights, expensive hair products? What has become of me! Is this my one-third life crisis? When all is said and done, the total for these items is ~$225. Let's hope the splurge is complete!

Beauty dilemmas

January 14th, 2008 at 09:43 pm

Sidestream Income:
$211.93 old total
$480 housesitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $701.93

I got paid for the house sitting I did last week. House sitting involves living/sleeping at the house and taking care of the dog, mail, trash etc. The home is ~10 miles from where I live, so I used much more fuel than I typically do in a given week, but it's still a good gig to have.

I wrote a lengthy entry last night about the money I've spent in the beauty/fashion care department in the last week (new jeans, highlights etc), but lost the entry before it was published. Hopefully I'll find the time to re-write it. The post basically told the tale of woe that I've been feeling really frumpy as of late. It's probably not coincidental that I also turned 30 this week. To be honest, I'm happy with my size and shape, I just don't feel like I have the right clothes or take the time to look a little better. I think with turning 3-0 I came to realize I might as well enjoy what I have because it won't be around forever.

Interestingly, other bloggers I read have recently expressed similar feelings. I took a plunge and got highlights last week--but held onto my frugal ways and had them done at the beauty school. I couldn't be happier! They look great and they cost only $30! I wouldn't go to an inexpensive chain salon like Super Cuts for highlights, however. Why? The stylists at the chains are typically inexperienced and they are pressed for time. The beauty school stylists can take all the time they need (note: don't make an appointment at the beauty school if YOU have someplace to be!), and they have an experienced instructor guiding them.

The money saved on the highlights will help to offset the the price of the designer jeans I also splurged for :-) People say having one great pair of jeans is better than 8 pair of ill-fitting jeans. Well, I have 8 pair of ill-fitting jeans, so and the verdict is still out on this purchase. I will say their fit is definitely better, and the store altered the length for no extra cost. I had been contemplating taking the designer denim splurge for some time, but Madame X's musing on the topic helped remind me of this pressing priority! The jeans were originally $175, but on sale for $79.50. Yikes! Frugal? Heck no! But my butt looks good!

6 tips on how NOT to get taken to the cleaners when buying a new bed

December 4th, 2007 at 03:57 am

After spending the past 3.5 years sleeping on my husband's 10 year old futon, the Bean's are upgrading to a bona fide bed! Alleluia!

Here are some main points I learned in the process:

1. Mattress prices are negotiable.
Do not pay the sticker price, nor the price that the salesperson says is the "sale" price. Negotiate. If he/ she will not go down in price, head elsewhere. I was getting initial price quotes of $599 and $699 on the exact same mattress at the exact same store chain in retail outlets less than 4 miles apart. When I asked the salesman at the $699 store if it included the frame and he said "no", I realized he thought he could take me. I said thank you and headed for the door.

2. Different stores sell the exact same mattresses using different names.
This is to confuse you and make it harder to comparison shop. Take careful note of the mattress you like so that you can compare it with those at other stores. For example, Simmons offers three lines of mattresses. The lowest is "Classic". A Simmons Classic mattress at Mattress Warehouse is probably the same as the Simmons Classic mattress at Mattress Discounters. Make note of the details and compare. When I tried to tell a salesperson at one mattress chain that I had been offered a better price on the same mattress at a competitor, he asked me the name of the competitor's mattress and then proceeded to pull out a sheet from his desk that named the names of all the mattresses sold at their store with the names of comparable mattresses at other store. Oh how I would have loved to get my hot little hands on that sheet! Alas, I couldn't steal it from him, but it confirmed what I thought was true.

3. Sales at mattress stores are fake.
Don't be pressured to buy something because it's on sale. Mattresses are never truly on sale. You can get the same price weeks later.

4. Ask the sales person to write down the name of the mattress you like on a business card with the price.
Not only will this help you keep the mattresses and their silly names straight, you can also use this as a quote to negotiate with other chains.

5. The sales people will try to keep you away from all mattresses priced under $1000.
When we first started shopping, I thought mattresses under $1000 didn't exist. Then I realized we were just constantly being steered away from them. I had one salesman tell me the mattresses lined up against the back of the store (where the less expensive mattresses were displayed) were only for "children and guest rooms". Huh? So, would it be illegal me to purchase one for my room? I guess so! If you're shy and want to at least test a less expensive mattress, tell them you're shopping for a spare room. Generally speaking, the farther back in the store you go, the less expensive the mattresses will be.

6. If you need a frame, don't get ripped off.
You can order a Queen sized bed frame from WalMart.com for ~$45 and have it shipped free to a store. Don't pay $80+ for a frame at a mattress retailer.

We ended up buying the Simmons Palm Cove Queen Size mattress, box spring and frame from Mattress Warehouse for $550 with free delivery. The sticker price was $699 + $59 for frame. Interesting, in the city where Mr. Bean lives, the identical matress at the same retail chain had a sticker price of $899. Yowsers!

Back in my neck of the woods, the salesman initially he said the best price he could give me was $640 + cost of frame, but when I said his competitor offered $599 and I had a card to prove it, the price dropped to $550 and included a frame.

I can't wait to sleep in my new bed!

More great mattress buying tips are available at MyMoneyBlog Part I and Part II. Make certain to read the comments-- I learned a lot from them!

Big Lots, Baby!

November 28th, 2007 at 03:15 am

Did you know Big Lots is a great place for baby clothes? A friend of mine is due to have her first boy and mentioned she needs simple Onesies and other easily washed clothes for her upcoming arrival.

Big lots has a great selection of Carterís and other name-brand baby clothes for a fraction of retail price. Once I get these items packed up in a one of the cute Dollar Tree gift bags youíll never know the gift cost less than $18.



I know my friend loved Robeez for her daughter, so how could I resist these Robeez imposters for $4?

In total, there are:

2 long sleeved, footie Sleepers
2 Long sleeved, footie coveralls (similar to Sleepers)
2 Long Sleeved Gowns (or as I like call them: baby sacks)
2 Shoes!

Goodwill Splurge

August 19th, 2007 at 06:56 pm

I made a voyage to my local Goodwill today. I admit, the trip was purely for entertainment. I try not to use to use consumption and shopping for entertainment, but despite my best intentions, I like getting "new" things. I've come a long way, but my inner consumer rears its head every now and then.

Sundays are usually 30% for Students, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were running 50% off the entire store (in which case the student deal is void, but hey, who's complaining about 50% off?)

I got this fun pair of Sandals for $2.50 (they've never been worn!) I know this "George" brand is a WalMart label, but it doesn't bother me since it's second hand. I would never buy shoes like this in a store since I know I can get a lot more use out of something black or brown, so these will be a pleasant little burst of color.



For myself I also got a sun dress from the designer Dex ($3.50), a light blue Ann Taylor linen button down shirt ($2.50), and a flirty "going out" top ($2.50; again, not something I would buy new, but as a result I often feel like the ugly duckling when I'm out with friends). I'm not familiar with the designer of this top, but I have the impression that it might be a more high end designer based off the look of the label and the cut of the shirt. The designer is "Salt & Pepper" if anyone knows anything. The last item is a GAP maternity shirt in excellent condition for a friend who is struggling to find inexpensive maternity clothes ($2.50).

Total expenditure: $13.48.

There's a part of me that feels a little foolish since I didn't need any of this. I'm still trying to find a way to spend "fun" money sans guilt. Maybe once I wear the "new" clothes and bask in the compliments I'll lose the guilt :-) I rarely tell people my clothes are Goodwill finds. I would say that that I'm not embarrassed, but then what keeps me from 'fessing up? I don't know. Something to think about.

Same destination, but different prices!

July 18th, 2007 at 02:21 pm

I'm planning to join Mr. Bean on his next business trip to LA in September. He's planning on taking a direct flight from Dulles to LAX. I'm going to fly from my podunk little town to Dulles and then connect to the same flight as his so we can fly together. I'm not buying 2 separate tickets- it's all the same carrier and just connects through Dulles. Interestingly, as the prices stand today, the entire cost of my round trip flight is $69 cheaper than his direct flight- even though we'll be riding together on my final leg and my trip has more miles.

Who would have guessed?

Challenge Money and a New Bike!

July 11th, 2007 at 03:28 am

Old Total: $1486.23
+ 20.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1506.23

I made $20 babysitting tonight. I still need to take those clothes to Plato's Closet and start rounding up stuff to sell at my parents' garage sale next week. So much to do, so little time!

I bought a new bike today to replace the one that was stolen. I was perusing some online classifieds for bikes (both to buy and to try to see if anyone was selling mine) and ending up emailing someone about a used bike for sale. He was asking $100 but told me he would take $75 if I bought it today. He even drove the bike over to my office so I could test it out. The bike is a Mongoose Pro Rockadile SX from 2002 and had hardly been used. I think it probably sold for ~$230 when it was new. After testing the bike out, I wasn't sure if I loved it (I think I'm still mourning the loss of my last bike). I asked him if he'd take $60- and he consented. I'm happy to have wheels again and feel like I made out pretty well for $60. The guy said he won the bike in a card game, so I figured he had no use for it (plus it's way to small for a man his size).

Dollar Tree- How I Love Thee!

June 21st, 2007 at 11:40 am

There are so many reasons to love the Dollar Tree: The cute gifts bags, the cleaning supplies, the adoreable party decorations (I recently saved bundle buying all the decorations for a baby shower at the Dollar Tree).

But, by far, the item I buy most frequently at the Dollar Tree is greeting cards. The cards, unlike most items at the Dollar Tree, are $0.50 / each. There's a wide selection, and the quality of the card stock is pretty good.

Recently while looking for a birthday card for Mr. Bean I found this one:



It reads: "I'm not the type who buys the first birthday card I see, ya know!"



"First, I check to see how much it costs. Happy Birthday"

Perfect! Dollar Tree, you've done it again!

Goodwill Finds!

May 20th, 2007 at 11:39 pm

I ventured back to the Goodwill today. The trip was more of a form of entertainment than to fulfill a specific purchase. I admit itís not the most frugal form of entertainment, but it sure is cheaper than a trip to the Mall. I ended up with great some great clothes that I canít wait to wear.

For the current summer season, I found a great pair of cropped khaki J.Jill pants (I paid $5.59, new I imagine they cost at least $49). For Fall I found a pair of Ann Taylor cords for $0.25, and a Mossimo sweater for $4.99. The picture doesnít do the sweater justice, but I just LOVE it.



I also picked up this cute little fleece for my niece ($1.20)



I also couldnít resist this beautiful orchid plate for $0.69.



It will add a nice touch to the whimsical feel Iím trying to create on our porch. Meredith at Like Merchant Ships has been a great inspiration to me to try to find thrift store bargains to beautify the home.

$1 Spring Wardrobe Makeover

March 29th, 2007 at 09:57 pm

My new socks cost $1.



I kept looking at them all day thinking that spring is ALMOST here.

Secret Shopping

March 29th, 2007 at 02:48 am

A friend of ours is enrolled in a Secret Shopper program. His most frequent assignment is local Mexican Restaurant. Unfortunately for our friend (but lucky for us) his daughter got sick and they asked us to fulfill the assignment in his place.

We get re-imbursed up to $40 for the meal in return for filling out a 9 page online questionnaire about the experience. Not too bad of a deal! We ended up spending $52 at the restaurant, but we could have kept it under $40 if we wanted to (we got an appetizer, drinks, entree, and dessert).

I'm going to have to look into how to sign up for this myself!

eBay for Cosmetics?

March 22nd, 2007 at 11:50 pm

I use Clinique Super Defense Moisturizer for my face. Iíve tried a few other types of moisturizers, but for me, none work quite as well. The only drawback is the price: $39.50 + tax for 1.7 ounces.

Since my current supply is running low, Iíve been contemplating if I really need to be paying so much for moisturizer. I thought about switching to something cheaperólike a drugstore variety moisturizer.

So, off I went to CVS (coupons in hand) to seek out a substitute. But alas, even at the drugstore most facial moisturizers with SPF (my one requirement is a SPF of at least 25) were in the $15-$20 range. Thatís a lot of money to spend on something I might not be happy with.

I decided that Iíd just stick with the Cliniqueóat the very least I know that Iím buying a product I like.

Luckily, before I re-stocked at the department store, I decided to look on eBay. Good gollyóeBay is a hot bed for cosmetics! My particular moisturizer was being sold by dozens of wholesalers. I ended up being the sole bidder on a brand new jar for $19.50 + $6.50 S&H. So, my total cost was $26 compared to the $41.87 I would have spent at the department store after tax. Total savings: $15.87 and I didnít even need to leave my house. I know this is the still a chunk of change for cosmetics, but this is a product I consider to be very high quality and itís the only expensive cosmetic I use. Gosh darn it- if I'm going to fully fund my retirement savings I need to make sure I have fabulous looking skin in the golden years, too!

I looked for an eBay vendor with a lengthy sales history and positive feedback since I know counterfeit cosmetics exist. I plan on inspecting my purchase carefully with my current container to look for any difference in the packaging or other indication that itís not authentic.

Anyone else shop eBay for cosmetics?

Get a Free Starbucks Coffee Today

March 15th, 2007 at 01:07 pm

Thursday, March 15th, Starbucks is holding their 2nd annual Coffee Break.



Stop by your local Starbucks between 10am and 12 noon for a free tall brewed coffee.

I walk past Starbucks on the way to my office, but unfortuabtely, it will be before 10am. Luckily, I'll have my trusty thermos to get me through the morning.

Clothes Shopping Fix!

January 26th, 2007 at 04:39 am

Only 2 / 4 of my items on eBay sold. Neither is a big ticket item (a pair of shoes and a pair of jeans), but it feels good to get them out of my closet; not to mention the few dollars I'll make in profit.

I'll add the money to my $20 Challenge after they get mailed so I can calculate the exact profit. A paperback book I had listed on Half.com also sold today.

Motivated by the great Goodwill finds I've read about on Savings Advice, I made my second sojourn earlier this evening. The first time I went I was a little overwhelmed- the place was a little disorganized. Thursdays are 15% off for students and senior citizens so I thought I'd take another look.

My timing was great, because they were having an unannounced sale of 50% everything in the entire store today - Sunday. I thought the selection and organization seemed better than my last trip, too. I ended up buying a nice sweater (originally from Express) and a pair of cords (originally from old Navy) for a grand total of $5.49!



I wasn't in dire need for new clothes, but it's fun to splurge on some fun stuff without breaking the bank! I might go back this weekend when I have a little more time to look around and see if I can make any speculative purchases for sale on eBay. It seems difficult to judge what's going to sell on eBay, so this might be a little "risky" from a money making perspective-- if you can call Goodwill speculation risky!

Positive review of Swim-Outlet

January 20th, 2007 at 08:25 pm

I recently made my first purchase from Swim-Outlet.com. Bathing suits can be ridiculously expensive-- in a sporting goods store, most suits will start at $45.

At Swim-Outlet.com I found a nice selection of women's competition suits (ie. suits you wear for swimming laps) for as low as $19.99. Granted, I might not be so keen to purchase a bathing suit online if I were looking for a glamorous 2-piece for lounging on the Riviera or for entering a beauty contest, but competition suits are usually full coverage suits that can be fitted with your bust, hips and waist measurements.

I will admit that the suit I ordered was a little small, but all I needed to do was mail the suit back to the distributor (the cost for me to mail the suit back was less than $2) and they sent me a larger size and waived the shipping charge. Total turn around time was less than a week!

If swimming is part of your New Year's fitness resolution, I recommend checking them out. They also sell goggles and other swimming fitness equipment.