Tag Archives: save money

They don’t call them smart phones for nothing

I am not against spending money or buying things…just ask my husband. I just like to know that I am not leaving money on the table when I shop. A little bit of effort can support your nasty little latte habit…and loads of other bad habits.

If you shop online a lot, you probably already know this. But just on the off-chance that there are some of you out there that do not…I feel that I am honor-bound to share this information. Never, ever finish an on-line purchase without checking for online coupon codes. Ever. Even if it’s a small or local retailer. Popular (with me) sites are retailmenot and couponcabin but there are many, many more. I usually just use the search engine. For example, if I am shopping at, let’s say, Old Navy, I would type in “online code Old Navy” and see what comes up. Retailmenot and Couponcabin also have apps you can download on your smart phone. You can also use the apps Couponsherpa or SnipSnap, which I will discuss more detail below to see if deals are available for your purchase.

Now, are you ready to save some real money…or at least have your iPhone pay for itself? Then keep reading…

If you are at an actual, physical store, use an app called red laser to compare prices for other retailers on the items you are purchasing. Many stores will match the competition’s prices. If not, they may go ahead and offer some sort of discount. Many store managers are empowered to give a discount. Just ask. Most people don’t ask. You’d be shocked at what happens when you ask. One time when the manager could not come down any more on an item already on sale, my husband convinced him to throw in some batteries, just because. A reliable source told me that when he worked at Walmart one of his managers would routinely offer a 15% discount.

There are also many stores where you can upload a coupon instantly to your smart phone even if you forget it at home. For example, at Michaels or Hobby Lobby you can easily find the link to the smartphone coupon on their respective sites. However, not all stores make it as convenient. For those more inconvenient stores where you find the latest must-have, try downloading the app couponsherpa on your smart phone. Couponsherpa takes coupons from the web and allows you to access them on your smart phone. This app is my new favorite.

Several stores like Walgreens and CVS, have their own apps you can download and check for coupons at the store prior to checking out. However, deals at these sites tend to be item specific. For a fantastic blend of everything, try the app SnipSnap. Also my new favorite. On SnipSnap you and I and the rest of the planet upload coupons. Any coupons. Some may be of use to you. These could be on an item you are already buying, like, for example, Tide detergent, or for BOGO offers at restaurants, or to get a free something. If a coupon exists, people are uploading it. What this means for you on top of using everyone else’s great savings is that the moment your favorite Macy’s and Kohl’s coupons come in the mail, you no longer have to shove them in your car or purse and then forget all about them. You can put them in SnipSnap with a couple of quick photos and now you have them. Forever. Throw away the cards so they don’t litter your house, purse, wallet or car. Or, better yet, let someone else get the trash and let them upload it and just use theirs.

SnipSnap is the app I designed in my fantasies when I became frustrated with never taking my coupons with me. BUT, my dream app had one more fantastic feature. You could scan an item to figure out if you had a coupon for it, or could find a coupon for it, or could find a coupon for a similar item or category. SnipSnap stops short of that. That’s okay. These apps have come a loooong way in a short time and my perfect coupon app is sure to come.

When you first upload SnipSnap, try this: type in the word “free” in the search box. I bet you’ll find something tempting. For free. I would just recommend that you go inside and order to make sure the coupon works.

All of these apps are free. And they’ll bank you a lot of lattes.

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Shaving Off a Bit More

Here is one of my husband’s contributions: a vintage razor. Yes…the kind you have to buy actual razor blades for. Out of the blue, my husband, we’ll call him Bruce, began to notice how many disposable razors he was using. Being in a profession that required a suit on a daily basis, he also needed to be clean shaven. Plus, he was never satisfied with the shave that the disposable razors were giving him. He had tried various electric razors over the years with dismal results.

So as a complete surprise to me, who didn’t even realize this was an issue…or an area we could save money in, he ordered a 1955 Gillette Super Speed Double Edge Safety Razor. The initial outlay was around $20 from eBay for the razor, which was used but in pristine and sanitized condition. He also ordered a shaving brush for around $10–though these, I understand can get very expensive. The shaving soap he got from the corner pharmacy for less than two dollars. The box of double-edged razors he got from Sally’s Beauty Supply for around a dollar for 12 blades. For those, non math whizzes out there, this adds up to around $33. This all went down in December 2012.

As with most transitions, the start-up costs are a bit high. But let’s say he was spending around five bucks a month on crappy disposable razors…with this new system, it’s now the very end of March 2013 and he still has razor blades. He finally had to buy more shaving soap two weeks ago. Accordingly, the break even point is June 2013 and, thereafter, the monthly cost is around around 50 cents, if not less. I really don’t know how long that box of razors will last.

My husband is also very excited that he is not dumping all that plastic into the environment with those plastic razors. On top of that, he says he has never had such a good shave. This style of shaving is called wet shaving. While researching the issue he discovered that the modern disposable razors with all their fancy multiple blades were nothing more than a marketing success story for a pretty lousy product.

It is true that there was a learning curve for shaving, but honestly, he used to bleed more with the disposable razors. It is possible some would argue that he was never using quality razors before, but that would only add to how much he was spending every month on a product that he would throw away. Did I mention how much he raves about the shave he gets? I cannot begin to tell you how many times he has made me feel how smooth his cheek is.

I have not been brave enough to try it yet…and I am not even sure I would be allowed since it is still currently one of his favorite new-ish things…and you know how they always think our leg hair dulls their razors, but at least I have other options available to me, like waxing. So I am content he found this new system and that it adds to our three goals of saving money on a monthly basis, producing less waste and having nice things.

First… admit you have a problem.

My dear, beautiful sister was always so proud of herself for getting such fabulous deals on after-holiday items, decorations and wrappings.  Perhaps the best example was Christmas.  Every year, she would buy her wrapping papers, tissues, foils, boxes, bags, decorations on super sale after the season and put them away for the next year.  She got such fabulous savings!

When she moved from Illinois to Arizona three years ago she brought out from under the house FIVE bins of Christmas stuff, much of it never opened. Together, with hands held, and tears in our eyes, we acknowledged she had a sickness.  If you buy things and never use them, it’s no deal at all, no matter how cheap it was.

Now, I will admit, I took a lot of it…she couldn’t take it with her and we weren’t going to throw it away…it was all free for me.  But, I have to be honest,  it will be years before I actually go through it all.  Especially since I have made a vow to never buy wrapping paper and gift bags again.  Once you make a conscientious effort to save tissue, gift bags, cellophane, bows, ribbon, fillers, foils, and boxes, it adds up very fast.  People may look at you strangely at a baby shower when you are folding all the tissue into manageable folds, but you’ll be glad you did. (Baby showers are gold mines for tissue paper, by the way).  There are so many uses for tissue paper.  You can shred it and use it for easter baskets, shipping delicate products, and gift baskets. You can even wrap presents with it. You can use if for decor on gifts of plain bags, such as making tissue flowers, bows, or taking some watered down glue and decoupage-ing.

At Christmas time, I collect the ribbon and tissue and bags that people otherwise throw away. And they throw so much away! Everyone so far has rolled their eyes at the idea of shredding and composting the wrapping paper, but I hope to put that into effect soon.  I also collect small boxes and ribbons like the ones that come with all those yummy office gifts. Even if it’s too small to actually use to wrap, ribbons are great for crafting.

Occasionally my husband also has a good idea. Sometime ago he collected a handful of flight maps that the local flight school was getting rid of.  They have now become his signature wrapping and everyone remarks on how clever it is.  Repurposing things like maps, comics, your kid’s coloring book pages, instructions, newspaper, magazine pages, and tissue as wrapping paper is a great and FREE idea. Don’t forget to shred and compost after wards (I know…I haven’t gotten around to that yet, but I WILL.)