Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Don't expect big smiles when you show up with jars of pennies.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 26, 2009 4:03AM

Putting all your change in a jar each night is a time-honored frugal hack. One guy bought himself a new pickup after setting aside coins for years. A Smart Spending message board reader named "Amberstorck" wasn't aiming that high -- she just wanted to save some money. 


But now she's having trouble unloading the lucre. Local grocery stores refused her rolled change. Her bank charges a 6% coin-counting fee. "What is the point of saving coins if nobody will take them?" Amber wrote in a message board thread


The fact is, banks are legally allowed to charge a counting fee or to refuse to accept Miracle Whip jars full of pennies and nickels.

 

Your frugal bounty can help those who need it the most.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 26, 2009 3:56AM

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.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 26, 2009 3:47AM

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.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 3:20AM

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.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 3:14AM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.


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.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 3:05AM

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.


"Vh" at Funny about Money summarizes the theory this way in a post called "Is frugality un-American?":

 

Attempt to protect yourself could backfire.

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 3:01AM

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

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2009 2:41AM

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.

 

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