Your frugal bounty can help those who need it the most.
I recently bought two backpacks, five packages of notebook paper and five boxes of crayons at Office Depot for $3.25 including tax, thanks to the magic of recycled printer cartridges and loss leaders. Then I went to Walgreens and bought two-pocket folders and five-packs of mechanical pencils for a nickel apiece, plus two-packs of gel pens and eight-packs of washable markers that will be free after rebate.
I don't have kids at home. I'm buying these for other people's children. You can, too, and I sure hope you will.
Just as Christmas items show up in stores long before it's time to trim the tree, "back to school" specials are making inroads earlier and earlier. Back in the first week of July, Staples was offering things like 10-packs of pencils and small bottles of hand sanitizer for 1 cent each.
Don't let the fine print stop you from saving.
A recent Safeway ad had a coupon for a dozen eggs for $1, a swell deal these days. I consider eggs a fridge staple because they make a quick and cheap light supper. Besides, finals are coming up, and I always fortify myself with bacon, eggs and toast on exam mornings.
However, the coupon's fine print -- there's always fine print -- said shoppers needed to spend at least $10 to use the dollar-a-dozen coupon. The thing was, I didn't need $10 worth of stuff. Just eggs. But I wasn't about to let a teeny-tiny disclaimer keep me from getting cheap protein. I have a frugal hack for just such an occasion.
These might entertain adults, too.
We have to admire anyone who can come up with a list of 90 tips about anything, let alone ways to keep kids occupied in productive ways. Debbie Dragon's list at Destroy Debt is incredibly creative and amazingly simple.
In fact, we want to try some of these because they sound like so much fun. There's "target squirting." Put plastic cups on a fence post or a person's head and squirt them off with a water gun or simple plastic water bottle. She also suggests a fun game to play with water balloons. (We're in!)
Your scores will likely take a small hit.
Breaking up is hard to do, but canceling a credit card is easy. Call the company, tell them it's just not working out, then cut up the credit card. Easy, right?
What's a little harder? Understanding the impact that can have on your credit history and score.
There's plenty of blame to go around, but don't point fingers at the penny-pinchers.
People who watch their spending are taking heat in some quarters for helping to wreck the economy.
The argument goes like this: Our refusal to buy every little thing we want or eat out for every meal is causing a tidal wave throughout the business world, hurting retailers, suppliers and manufacturers, who are then forced to lay people off.
Attempt to protect yourself could backfire.
This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.
Recently I had lunch with Hardy, a Get Rich Slowly reader here in Portland, Ore. We chatted about life (and personal finance) over burgers and fries. He generously offered to pay the bill. When the waitress returned with the credit card slip, she asked to see his driver's license.
"What was that all about?" I asked.
"Asking for my ID?" said Hardy. I nodded. He flipped over his credit card and showed it to me. He'd written "see ID" where his signature ought to be.
"Does that work?" I asked.
Save your plants with an old pantyhouse and a plastic bottle
Going away and afraid that your plants will dry up, particularly now that you've become a container gardener? Or maybe you're just too forgetful to keep them watered.
Michael Nolan's Frugal Mania presents the cheap way to make your own self-watering device.
It doesn't get much cheaper than this. All you need is a plastic water or soft-drink bottle and a piece of old pantyhose.
Find out how to maximize your savings.
This is something that retailers won't want to hear, but January is a particularly good time to shop at thrift stores, The Thrifty Chicks advise. Thrift store shelves and racks are full of end-of-year charitable contributions of things and Christmas gifts the recipients didn't like.
Before you go, get over the silly notion that "if it's not new, it's EWW." Once there, follow the shopping tips from The Thrifty Chicks, a site dedicated to thrift store shopping. "Our tips will turn a novice into a master," thrifty chick "Ms. Shopping Golightly" says.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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