Friday, January 29, 2010

January Savings Totals $458.32!!

These are ideas that I have incorporated into my family lifestyle and activities. These ideas may not work for everyone, but this is what I am saving! (compared to the way I used to spend)

Bountiful Baskets: I assume that a family would normally pay $35 per week in produce. Using this route you will pay $16.50 for product. Monthly savings = $80.17

Grocery Shopping with a List: I assume that a family would normally pay $135 per week for groceries not planning weekly dinner menu and not shopping with a list. Monthly savings = $173.33

Craigs List: I assume that if a household gathers all their unwanted items annually they could earn $600 by posting these items on Craig’s List. Monthly earnings = $50.00

Museum Passes: I assume a family will purchase 6 entry passes to local museums in a year. By getting them free at the library Monthly savings = $5.75 I assume a household uses 1 coupon per month for a $100 meal. Discounts are 60% of half the meal. Monthly savings = $30.00

Cell phone: I assume each household has a separate plan per household and this suggestion is to combine plans with someone else. Monthly savings = $42.00

Flea Market: I assume I have to replace the battery in my Honda key every two years. By doing this at the flea market versus the dealership I save $52 per key. Monthly savings = $2.17

Sushi Happy Hour: RA Sushi offers half off during happy hour. I assume a family eats sushi once per month. Monthly Savings: $50.00

Paper Products: Eliminating the use of paper towels, paper napkins, paper coffee filters and start recycling (use less trash bags) Monthly Savings: $24.90


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Save big bucks on your dry cleaning bill!

My husband is a big man which means he wears big clothes. These things take forever to iron. For some it may be a splurge to have clothing laundered or dry cleaned, but for me it is a must. If you are going to use this service don’t pay more than you have to.

There are two ways here to watch how much you pay.

First, find the least expensive dry cleaner in your area. We have one that charges $2.25 to dry clean any clothing item. It is called the $2.25 Cleaners. I called the cleaners around the corner and they charge $5.45 to dry clean any clothing item.

Second, drycleaners charge different prices for laundry versus actual dry cleaning? At the “$2.25 Cleaners” they charge $2.45 to launder pants and $2.25 to dry clean. Choose dryclean. They charge $2.25 to dry clean a shirt but only $1.45 to launder it. Choose launder.

I estimate that in a month my husband will need 20 shirts and 10 pair of pants cleaned. The difference in the dry cleaning bill between the two cleaners would be $96.00.

The difference in dry cleaning and laundering the shirts and pants at the $2.25 cleaners is $16 per month.

free credit reports and how they impact your savings

Don’t pay for monthly credit monitoring. You can get a free credit report every year at You can also check your credit score for a small fee. Monthly credit monitoring costs $8 to $12 per month which is significant over a year.

There are three credit reporting agencies. I recommend cycling through one of them every 4 months. You will be getting your free credit report 3 times per year. Review it and if you see anything that is wrong, and immediately dispute it in writing.

Keeping your credit report clean of errors will keep your scores higher and your interest rates lower when it comes to major purchases such as buying a car or a home. You may also be surprised to find out that car insurance companies check your credit report/score and so do some employers.

Power bill savings.....

Programmable thermostats are great for controlling the temperature. Prior to buying ours I would always forget to change the setting on the thermostat before I went out the door to work. Be very careful of the hours you set the temperatures. I went a whole summer without realizing that if I set 72 degrees for 5PM that my programmable thermostat told the air to come on in time to have the house cooled to 72 at 5PM. I thought 5PM is when the air would kick on. This becomes very important if you use the next service.

Srp point of use program will reduce your per kW charge by nearly 50% during off peak hours and a slightly elevated rate during peak hours. Summer peak hours were 5 to 8PM. Be careful to watch your statements for winter hours. Even though we saved hundreds during the summer months I have lost a few dollars over the winter months when the peak hours changed to 5AM to 9AM and 5PM to 9PM

Change your air filters every 30 days. Some filters are made to last longer than 30 days, but the dust still piles up making your air conditioning systems work harder.

Finally, do NOT sign up for the program that charges you the same amount monthly. In Phoenix, SRP will only allow people to sign up for it during the winter months (when power bills are generally next to nothing). This means THEY keep all the extra you are paying in the winter and THEY are collecting the interest on your money. This is the same principal as getting a tax return. If you have a monthly budget, and you should, plug in extra for the power bill in the summer months. By paying the same amount every month you are in effect paying a non interest charging bill before you need to.

stop using paper products

I continuously look for ways to decrease my expenses and/or save money. This month alone we decided to give up many household paper goods that in our culture are deemed necessities. By giving up paper towels I estimate I will save $225 per year. I bought a reusable coffee filter and will save $16.43 per year. I started recycling and cut down on my trash bag use by half which will save me $20.28 per year. We bought cloth napkins which will save $43.51. It is little bits here and there as well as actually taking those small changes that will make the big differences in your expendable dinero

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

got sushi? save 50%

Can you go out to dinner one hour earlier than you normally would and save 50%? We did

I mentioned before here ( that many restaurants have happy hour and reverse happy hour. This weekend we took the family for sushi. Rather than going at 7PM we opted to go at 6PM while it was still happy hour.

My drink of choice with sushi is a cosmo. It’s classified as a martini so they usually run $10 to $13 a pop here in the valley. RA Happy hour pricing is $4, and they have many other great cocktails from which to choose. Every sushi item we ordered was half price during happy hour, and it wasn’t a limited selection.

Our weekly “eating out” budget is $50. Aside from dessert we were able to stay under our weekly budget and have a really nice sushi meal. If our meal goes over $50 we must pay that from our allowance….which will be another topic in and of itself.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

swap meets, farmers markets and flea markets

take advantage of swap meets, flea markets and farmers markets. we stopped by this afternoon and found poblano chile for less than $1 per pound.....cheaper than the grocery store.

if you are looking for a specific tool you will be in luck. yes, they are used, but they always get dirty anyway.

there are many other items at significantly discounted prices such as toiletries, kids toys, costume jewelry, jewelry repair, watch batteries.

the battery in my honda key is dying which would likely cost no less than $50 at the dealership to have replaced. we got a quote at the swap meet for $6.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

do you use your cell phone or does it use you??

There are many ways to cut down on your monthly expenses, and reviewing your cell phone bill can save you hundreds of dollars in a year. Here are some steps I have taken for our family.

If you can get by with just a cell phone then cancel your home line. This could save you a minimum of $30 per month with taxes and fees.

Options to reduce cell phone expenses:
1. Limit capabilities to what you really need, ie. Texting, internet, data, minutes etc.
2. Split a plan with family members. I share my minutes with my husband and my parents. Adding my parents to the same plan rather than having separate plans saves me $42/month and saved my parents about $60/month.
3. Review the number of minutes you are using. If you use less than you pay for reduce your plan. Plans typically jump by $30 per increment in minutes.
4. Sprint has an unlimited cell phone feature that doesn’t charge you anytime you speak to someone on a cell phone plan which can help you reduce your plan minutes. Does your carrier provide the same service?
5. Review the corporate discounts where you work. We get 23% off our bill just because of where I work.
6. DO NOT call 411. The charge is $1.79 every time you call. Put a phone book in your car or if you keep internet access on your cell phone google the numbers you need. Store every number you call in your phone. That way, if calling 411 is a must at least you will only do it once.
7. If you need to call internationally get a calling card for international calls.

Friday, January 15, 2010

going out to eat? plan ahead, save money....

People go out to eat for many different reasons….to try something new, for some social interaction, because they are too busy or too tired to cook. Planning ahead only takes a few minutes of your time, and you can still enjoy a decent meal without breaking the bank.

You can purchase coupon books specific to your city on these coupons usually give you buy one meal get one free. or you can purchase discount coupons at websites like the coupon or gift card usually costs 40% of the total value.

Depending on where you live many restaurants offer happy hour or reverse happy hour with half off specials.

No matter where you decide to go always preview the menu on line to determine before you arrive what you will order. When you get to the restaurant you won’t even need a menu. This will help eliminate impulse purchases or appetizer purchases to tide you over until your meal arrives. And finally, the less time you spend in the restaurant the fewer pricey adult beverages you will be likely to purchase.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Free Museum Passes

all of the phoenix libraries are running a program with free "culture passes" to the zoo and many local museums (children's museum, bead museum, art museums, etc).

each pass is good for four people and one entry within a 1 week period. i'm taking my family to the zoo on saturday for free, and this would have cost us $61!!

you can check on the web site for the library to see when the passes are available.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

increasing the value of your 401K

your #401k will grow significantly more if you contribute to it than if you don't. have you been out of work this year, on reduced work or #furlough, #unemployment or had a spouse going through one of these events typically seen in a #recession?

well, signs are pointing towards a more positive future. as people start to enter the workforce again family incomes will be increasing. you made it through last year alright, so now consider this "extra" income for your family.

take that money and put it in your #401k. #retirement is coming faster than you think. if you were on a 10% paycut for example, like i was, when you get that 10% back increase your #401k by 10%. if your spouse was out of work and now has a job that could mean a 100% increase in pay so set both #401k account contributions to 15%.

and remember the annual max to contribute to your #401k as a tax deduction is $16,500. that is 15% of a $110K annual salary. if you make less than $110K annually see if your account manager will let you contribute more than 15%!

~#frugal phx

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is your junk my treasure?

have a few things NOT in your #budget that you really really want? need a way to come up with a little extra cash to get them....or to fund an unexpected bill?

time to clean out your closets and post those unwanted items on #craigslist. i made $600 last month from items i had around the house i no longer used. i mean things from flower pots that sold for $10, baby items that have been outgrown, lawn my son's nintendo DS that he no longer used. $10 here and there adds up.

be careful shelling out your address, though, it may be safer to meet at a more public location to make the exchange. only give your item about 10 days on #craigslist. if no one buys it then donate it for a possible tax writeoff. finally, do not sell to people that want to send a check or a shipper - those are scams.

~#frugal phx

Grocery Shopping

so now that you have your bountiful basket stock full of produce it is time to plan the weekly menu. having a menu keeps you on task and on time in the grocery story. use the menu to plan your weekly meals and identify the items you still need.

doing this will save you time and money in the grocery store. those that meander around the store pick up items that aren't necessary, and inevitably you will realize during the week that something else is turn, that equates to another trip to the grocery store (more time and money).

i also look for expensive meat items that are on sale. if i don't need them this week to fill my menu i purchase them anyway and use them the next week.

~frugal phx

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bountiful Baskets

If you aren't already using this great local find you should be. For just $16.50 per week you get one laundry basket of fruit and another of vegetables. Although you don't get to pick what comes in the basket it is more than a family of four could use in a week.

You log in on Monday or Tuesday, pay and pick up at your specified location on Saturday mornings. Sometimes they have extras such as the Chinese Package, Italian Package or Mexican Package.....or 22 lbs of fruit or a gallon of honey.

I use the contents of the basket on Saturdays to plan my weekly menu. I also bought a juicer to make juice from all the wonderful fruits. Now, I rarely buy the processed and expensive juices at the store....opting for fresh and healthy.


Living Frugally in Phoenix

My husband and I both work. We have two children, two dogs and a house we are in the process of other words we are still paying the mortgage, but we do not rent. After reading The Millionaire Next Door, Stop Acting Rich and Living Like a Real Millionaire and The Millionaire Mind I have been inspired to share some of our habits, hobbies and ideas for others that want to live frugally.

Some will be specific to the Phoenix area but most could be applied almost anywhere one chooses to live.