Tag Archives: thrifty

How To Save Hundreds of Dollars on your Holiday Shopping

November 11, 2010

Holidays can be a stressful time for people. How and when are you going to get all your shopping done?! The key to surviving the crazy holiday shopping rush is to plan ahead, and you can walk away with hundreds of dollars in savings.

As everyone knows, this year Friday the 26th after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday” where brick and mortar retailers experience stampeding customers, 4 a.m. openings, and mad sprints to the electronics department, not to mention a massive increase in sales. With the economic downturn over the past few years, big box stores have gotten more aggressive with their offers, which means big savings for you.  But that’s not your only day to save.  The following Monday, termed “Cyber Monday” (November 29th this year) is when online retailers post their version of door-buster deals.

How do you find out about all of these great savings? Besides getting on the big box retailer mailing lists, you can subscribe to their email lists as well.  But to get a more comprehensive view (and not get inundated by junkmail and spam) I would suggest going to one of many websites dedicated to consolidating the many retailers’ deals into one location.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals can tend to be electronics focused when looking at Target, Walmart, or other big box retailers.  If you have a favorite store in mind and can’t find their deal, just ask them! Below are just a few examples of websites found when doing a quick search for “Black Friday deals”:

Cyber Monday is the other huge holiday (online) shopping day where you can find ridiculous deals.  If you are looking for mid-priced electronics especially computer accessories, digital cameras, and video games then pay attention to the Cyber Monday deals.  Often, free shipping is part of the online retailer’s offer.  In order to really “win” with any of these deals, it’s important to pay attention to any fine print details.  As with the Black Friday websites, these are websites entirely dedicated to posting these deals.  Here are just a few found when doing a simple search for “Cyber Monday deals”:

Outside of these two big days there are literally hundreds of websites you can utilize to save serious cash.  Popular ones include coupon websites where coupons are posted by consumers as well as businesses.  Some of the more popular ones include:

Two of the rising stars in the online discount world that have given it a unique twist are two of my favorites -Groupon.com & LivingSocial.com.  You can sign up for huge deals offered by local businesses. These deals are always substantial discounts, with 50% off the product or service being the norm.

As you navigate the madhouse that is holiday shopping, try to shop consciously by keeping an eye on what’s green, sustainable, local, and still affordable.  Remember that shopping local supports your local community.

(Note:  Websites mentioned here are not endorsed by McKenzie Books Inc. and are only provided for informational use only. There is no benefit to McKenzie Books Inc. for mentioning or linking to these websites.)

Ready to share a car with the neighborhood?

July 30, 2010

We hear a lot about global warming and how driving is one of the major factors contributing to it. Cars & driving are deeply entrenched in American life, whether it’s anticipating your first driver’s license, summertime driving through back roads with the windows down & music blaring, or simply getting to and from work.

But, all of our driving adds up. According to the Environmental Defense study, The Climate Impact of America’s Automobiles, personal vehicles in the US emit roughly 10% of the global CO2 emissions that come from fossil fuels. In 2004, this came out to 314 million metric tons. That much carbon could fill a coal train 55,000 miles long; that’s enough to circle the Earth twice. Ah, nothing like a frightening statistic.

There are lots of ways to cut back on driving, from carpooling to using public transportation. However there are times that life is hard without a car. Activities like moving, taking a weekend trip, or simply grocery shopping often require the use of a car.

A movement that’s been gaining momentum recently is car sharing. Companies such as ZipCar, U Car Share, HourCar, and others have made it possible to ditch one (or perhaps all) of your cars, and only use one when you really need it. Zipcar.com includes some interesting tidbits on the impact of car sharing:

  • “Every Zipcar takes 15-20 personally-owned vehicles off the road.”
  • “After joining Zipcar, 90% of members drove 5,500 miles or less per year.”
  • “More than 32 million gallons of crude oil left in the ground total—or 219 gallons are saved per Member.”

The impact of car sharing isn’t just positive for the environment. Zipcar also claims that their members can save over $500 per month by sharing instead of owning a car. When you consider that maintenance, insurance, and even gas are included in the membership, this may not be too far off. Don’t believe it? Try out their calculator to test the theory yourself.

Car sharing companies and co-ops are popping up in urban centers all over the country, and most have the basics in common:

  1. Reserve your car online
  2. Unlock the car with your personal card or key (or phone!)
  3. Drive away
  4. Return to a specified car-share location before your reservation time expires
  5. Leave car as clean as you found it

Pretty simple, huh? Do your kindergarten teacher proud and give sharing a chance.

Thrifty Adventures

July 21, 2010

Ah, summer. There is no better time to get out of the house and get to know nature a little better. The best way to do this is to go camping! I know what you are thinking: “I want to experience nature from my air conditioned hotel room in Waikiki!” Well this is frugal blog, darnit, so let’s compare the two trips.

  • Travel Expense
    • Flight from Portland, OR to Honolulu round trip for a family of four:
      • $1680 (double that for you East Coasters)
    • 200 mile round trip drive to favorite campground:
      • <$60 (assuming you aren’t an H2 driver…)
  • Hotel Expense
    • 3 star hotel in Waikiki:
      • $130 per night
    • Campsite fee:
      • <$30 per night
  • Fun Expense
    • Waikiki
      • Snorkeling with the fishes
        • $60 each
      • Taking a helicoptor tour of a mountain
        • $120 each
      • Touring a pineapple plantation
        • $12 each plus pineapple-y souvineers
    • Camping
      • Going fishing
        • $14 each (and in many states, kids under 14 can fish for free) 
      • Taking a hike up a mountain
        • Free! (Just make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks)
      • Touring a pinecone “plantation”
        • Free!
  • Food Expense
    • Waikiki
      • Breakfast – Banana crêpe with coconut syrup and fresh ground Kona coffee
        • $14
      • Lunch – Glass of POG juice, deep fried mahi-mahi, and a mango shave ice
        • $9
      • Dinner – Succulent pork roasted on a spit, by a master chef, over a bed of fire heated lava rocks
        • $24
    • Camping
      • Breakfast – Burned pancake with a slightly squished banana and a glass of watery coffee crystals
        • $3
      • Lunch – cup of Kool-Aid, pan fried lake trout, and a couple of ice cubes found at the bottom of your cooler
        • $0.50
      • Dinner – Succulent hotdog roasted on a stick, by your 10 year old son, over a bed of random things you decided to burn (YUM!)
        • $1.25

As you can see, a camping trip is clearly a great option for those who want an adventure on a budget.  I recommend looking at these great resources to help plan a camping trip:

Do you have any great camping stories? Tell us about them in the comment box below.