Penny Pinchers


Page 16 of 25


Traveling is Worth the Money

By Brittany Dale
Thursday, March 27, 2014

You know what isn't cheap? Driving to the front range and back. Even less affordable are the trips to eat or shop with family and friends. But it's absolutely worth it.

My boyfriend and I packed our furry children into the car with a suitcase and headed to Broomfield for a wedding this past weekend. We took two extra days off of work. Let me rephrase. I took two days off, he, deservingly, has started his spring break and didn't have to request the time off. The wedding was beautiful and we both always love getting extra time with family and friends. 

    

Our puppies just love the car. :) 

The trip isn't cheap. We use an entire tank of gas but we both drive cars that get great gas mileage which makes the $50 fill-up easier on the debit card than a $100 truck fill. We always try to bring snacks and sunflower seeds so we don't need to buy food on the way. We fill the iPod with podcasts (free) and good music to get us through the drive.

On a just-for-fun (ha!) trip to the huge Cabela's in Thornton I told myself, and everyone else, we wouldn't be buying anything. I have been looking for a good pair of hiking boots (after my slide down Mt. Garfield in my tennis shoes) for months and of course I found a very nice pair for $50 which I was told is a “great price”. My lesson here is that once I say “I'm not going to spend any money” I always find something I have been eyeing anyway. I unclenched my jaw, walked around in them for a while and gave the nice gentlemen behind the counter our debit card. I'm sure they will last a very long time and I will need them so it was a smart purchase but being overly frugal makes it hard to spend anything at all. 

Sometimes the idea of spending extra money is completely outweighed by being able to have time with our family and friends. It was wonderful to see everyone and I'm glad we were able to do so. We are very lucky to both have jobs and make enough money to be able to take trips and afford our bills every month. I'm reminded that I am lucky to even have the option to be frugal at all.  

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Hulu Pros and Cons

By Julie Norman
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When we left cable about a year ago we used our Roku box to continue streaming Netflix shows and movies.  We also added Hulu Plus and, eventually, Amazon Prime.  All three channels have their pluses and minuses and together they still cost us less than cable.  We always have something to watch; with cable we'd spend fifteen minutes just flipping through channels.   Hulu Plus was my choice.  Amazon Prime was the BF's.

I originally chose Hulu because it has a huge variety of cooking shows.  It wasn't until after I started trying to watch them that I realized many were only available online.  I could watch very old Emeril Lagasse shows, but man...they were OLD.  They were before BAM!  I kept hunting around though and eventually found this guy: James Reeson and his show, "The Occasional Cook."    It was so interesting!  Each episode actually focused on a unique situation:  camping, a kid's birthday party, etc.   So, while the shows I originally wanted to watch weren't available, there were plenty of new and interesting food shows to find.  One point for Hulu.

We love to watch Comedy Central shows like "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" but, without cable, we have no access to Comedy Central.  No matter! With Hulu we can watch these shows' latest episodes the day after they air.  We never have to miss out on Jon Stewart even though we don't pay the cable company and arm and a leg.  This is also true of network shows like "Blacklist" and "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."  We watch "The Blacklist" when it comes on on Mondays, but we never manage to stay up late enough to watch "The Tonight Show."  Still, on nights when network television is repeats or it's a weekend night and there's nothing on, we can watch an episode of "The Tonight Show" from earlier in the week, or even an episode of "Saturday Night Live," using Hulu Plus.  Another Point for Hulu.

One of my favorite things about Hulu is their large amount of workout shows.  In particular, I love that Hulu gives me access to all 33 Yoga Zone episodes.  Each episode is about 20 minutes.  This means that, if I'm quick, even on much lunch break I can get in a 40 minute yoga workout!  Yoga for Abs parts I and II, Yoga for Strength Training, even Yoga for Fat Burning are all available!  This scores bonus point for Hulu because it means on rainy or cold days I can exercise at home - no gym membership required!

Hulu DOES have one downfall.  It has a tendancy to freeze up in the middle of episodes.  Sometimes you can restart the episode and then it works fine.  Other times (about once a month) we have to completely restart the Roku box.  It's an annoyance for sure. Still, for $7 a month I think Hulu has proven its worth to us.  We can watch our favorite Comedy Central shows, watch lots of inventive shows that we'd otherwise never see and even catch up on late-night shows that we're too tired to stay up and watch during the week.

If you're considering cutting the cable cord, do it! There are so many ways to watch what you want when you want without cable.

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What $100 gets you

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brittany's on vacation this week, so here's a photo I took a while back. It was everything I purchased at the store that day...I spent right at $100.

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The Consignment Shop

By Julie Norman
Monday, March 24, 2014

I am an admitted tag popper.  (Thanks Macklemore!)  Usually it happens like this:

Co-worker:  Hey, that's a cute top! 

Me:  Thanks, it's Ralph Lauren.  I got it at Goodwill for $5.

OR

Co-worker:  Is that a new purse?

Me:  Yep!  It's a Liz Claiborne.  I got it for $7 at Uptown Again.

I like wearing name-brands.  Come on, we all do.  Still, I hate paying full-price for them.  It's much more fun to go to the consignment store and then get to say things like, "I just a pair of lined Ann Taylor pants at the Encore Shoppe for $10!"

I took this pic the other day of all my consignment finds...and then realized this didn't include the shirt I was wearing at the time or the 3 or 4 skirts that I have from there as well...or the hand-me-down pants that I got from a co-worker a few years ago (which aren't from a consignment shop but fall into the "gently used" clothing category).

Anyway, in this pile are several Gap shirts, Ann Taylor pants, a Fossil purse...those jeans were originally like $198 or something absolutely ridiculous.  I found them at Jo's Clothes for $20.  My point is, you can get all those name brand items you want, right here in Grand Junction, without setting foot in the mall.  Between the Encore Shoppe, Fashion Junkie, Uptown Again, Runway Fashion Exchange and the myriad of other consignment stores in town, you can find just about anything. 

Need an appliance?  Try the Habitat Re-Store or Goodwill!  Want books?  Goodwill.  Need a business suit?  Uptown Again.  Just some new items for the closet?  Try them all!  You really never know what you might find.

Of course, all of my clothes aren't from consignment shops.  I make a few trips a year to department stores to get a few new items too, but when I just feel tired of wearing the same things over and over, I head to a consignment shop.  It's exciting to see what I can find, whether it's shoes, jeans or a new shirt. So get out there!  Go find some bargains!  And then feel free to brag about them.

To save even more money, check out our Coupons Page for great coupons from some of these shops!

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Simplicity of Mail

By Brittany Dale
Thursday, March 20, 2014

One of the best feelings I can think of is to receive a letter or package that came from a human being I love. My name scrawled with ink from a pen and a real stamp affixed to the top. I love getting real mail. We get junk mail every day, piles of it. The amount of junk mail floating around makes my heart hurt. A couple of weeks ago I grabbed the mail as I hopped in the car to run an errand with my boyfriend. I wondered how the mail person even carried the stack to my mailbox. As I was sifting through the abyss I noticed a handwritten envelope. I looked at my boyfriend, smiled and tossed the rest of the mail into the back seat. My grin stretched from ear to ear as I opened the lovely note from my best friend and college room mate. Real mail is wonderful. She later told me she found the card in a thrift store and thought it was so creepy she couldn't help but buy it. Perfection.

Source: www.anartfulmom.com

If getting mail is wonderful, sending mail is equally gratifying. I don't send as many just thinking of you letters as I should. I once had a goal of sending at least one letter each week. That dream kind of ended up like most new year's resolutions. Maybe I should try again.

Sending a letter can get fairly expensive depending on how you do it. Yesterday, even though I used a coupon for $1.50 off of 3 greeting cards, I spent $8.00. While I think it's worth it to buy a real card every once in a while, I also really like to make my own. A few years ago I experienced a moment of “I'm absolutely going to use this package of exactly 1 million matching card stock and envelopes.” I'm still making good on that promise with around 500,000 cards to go.
The cards are simple and sometimes I write silly or sappy heartfelt things. If I'm feeling particularly crafty I will add detail or drawings but just the card itself is enough. I believe the tiny effort can make someone else's day.

The world wide web is an excellent resource for free or cheap ways to tell someone hello. I searched “e-cards” and not surprisingly found hundreds of resources. Most e-card sites are completely free which is an added bonus. Your intended target will receive an email with whichever card you chose. The process is simple and magical... oh ya, and free.

Another very popular option is sending a photo as a card or postcard. Sites like snapfish.com or shutterfly.com allow you to create photo greeting cards and send to family and friends. Any printing facility such as Walgreens or Target also has options for printing photos in various ways. While this option isn't free, it's a creative and enduring way to let your loved ones see your beautiful face... or someone else's if you prefer. Books, mugs, shirts, hats.... the options of places to plaster your photos are endless!

Take a moment this week or weekend and send a card. Just one. Send it to anyone for any reason and know that you made someone's day. You might even get one in return. Mail is a beautifully easy and affordable way to show you care.  

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