Jul 28, 2010

A credit report that's actually free

Have you seen the cutesy freecreditreport.com commercials? People are singing and dancing; everyone knows their credit score and the world is a better place. But, if you've ever gone to that website and got your credit report, you know that it is NOT a free service. In fact, it costs you $12 if you don't cancel immediately.

I signed up and saw the report pop up on my credit card. In annoyance, I tried to contact the company to tell them that I did not want their services...I thought it was free! But, I couldn't. They make it so hard for you to talk to a real person in hopes that you give up, pay the bill and then cancel or forget to cancel so the process repeats itself and you're more frustrated and they make more money.

But alas, there is another website out there that is actually free: it's called annualcreditreport.com. This website lets you see your credit report for free, once a year. I know this, because I tried it and it is absolutely free. Unfortunately, the website does not tell you you're specific score, but it shows your credit history and lots of other valuable information about your standing that is worth checking out. The service is available for each person to view one time per year. So if you haven't checked out your credit report yet this year, check it out for the lowest cost you could ask for: free, free, free!
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Jul 26, 2010

Movie Theater Popcorn vs Me
Popcorn = Victor

Today I did what no thrifter should do: I bought movie theater popcorn. I sat in the theater awaiting the much talked about movie Inception, with Reeses Pieces and water bottle packed neatly in purse, when smells of sweet, buttery popcorn rose to my nostrils. All these kids sat in the row in front of us (not allowing me to put my feet up); they ALL fell prey to the theater's overpriced popcorn. I can't blame them, they're just kids!

I had only minutes before the movie was set to start and my mind whirled with arguments of pleasure v. inner sense of price rationality. But, I was no match for the popcorn's striking allurement. I fell captive.

The damage: I payed $4.75 for a small popcorn with lots of extra pumps of butter nestled inside (clearly this isn't a weight loss blog). Hint: you can usually sneak out during the movie and ask for extra pumps and they won't charge you at all for them. Unfortunately, I couldn't even do that because with this movie I felt like I miss something super integral, so I stayed. Bahhh!!! So who I am to be giving advice at this stage of the game?!?!

Today, I confess, I am a out of control spending hypocrite! But buttery, delicious movie theater popcorn, I promise you this: We will meet again.

Jul 24, 2010

Renting a movie? Know your options, save some cash

I think a lot of being a thrifter is realizing the resources that are available to you. Most people realize their town or community has a public library, but they haven't fully scooped it out or utilized it to it's full potential. The biggest example is its dvd section. The Reading Public Library has tons of dvds, including lots and lots of tv series on dvd, none of which costs you a penny.
Movie rental cost = free, my friend
Last night my boyfriend and I rented "Who Killed the Electric Car", which I highly recommend. We had talked about a couple documentaries we were interested in seeing including that one and "Food, Inc.". My mind immediately went to Blockbuster. Since I don't have Netflix and it's pretty unlikely my local Redbox will have either of those in their possession, I thought a $5 one-night movie rental at Blockbuster was my only option.
Unlike most people, paying $5 for a dvd completely infuriates me, probably to an unhealthy extent, to the point where I will not, cannot pay it. It disgusts me because I know I am being overcharged. If you keep reading my blogs, you'll probably notice a pattern in this. Luckily, my anger jogged my memory to another accessible resource: my public library. So, we drove over to the community college library, part of the public library system and sure enough, both dvds were in and available for me to rent for free...and I had all week to view them.
So, if you're thinking of renting a movie...here are some options to avoid high rental costs.

1) Go to your local library. If you're tight on time you can call them or go their website and see if they have what you want in stock. If you're renting a movie with friends, seriously take a group trip to your lib...they probably have a lot more in stock than you think. Don't have a library card? No problem, just bring your drivers license or ID and become a card-holder when you get there. Unlike American Express, everyone qualifies for a library card.
Hint: If you're library doesn't have what you're looking for, first see if you can order it in from the local system of libraries that it's connected to for future viewing.

2) If you watch a lot of movies, and have friends that watch lots of movies, consider doing a dvd swap. Most people don't like the idea of letting other people borrow their things, but I think it's a waste to have a movie that you may only watch a couple more times in your lifetime just collecting dust on your shelf. I recommend, lending them out to people, because why should they rent/buy it when they have a good friend like you!
A couple hints: Put your name on your dvds, maybe get those name stickers that are pretty quick and won't damage the case or dvd. You can consider keeping track of your private rentals, but really if you lend one out, you should accept the fact that eventually, you may not get one back. Remember, losing a dvd is not equal to losing a friend.
SAN RAFAEL, CA - AUGUST 14:  A sign advertisin...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
$1 day, but limited selection

3) Red Box & Blockbuster Express. Not a bad third option, really. Check out your local Red Box or Blockbuster Express Kiosks that are located in groceries stores, convenience stores, heck - these days they're all over the place! Rentals are $1 a day, but for new releases, sometimes Blockbuster kiosks are the way to go, as many production companies have a deal with Blockbuster to release it only to them for the first 30 days. With both of these companies, you can see what's available and even rent the dvd online before you go to the kiosk; this is what I recommend.

4) The rest of them: Netflix, Blockbuster, other video rental companies. For me, these are last options. Part of living a cost-saving lifestyle for me means cutting out monthly costs, so I will probably never be a Netflix customer, and I pretty much avoid Blockbuster at all costs. One thing I would consider, if you have a Wii and you get Netflix, you can instantly stream movies from your console and still do the mail in movies. The movies are limited, but for $8.99, I think it's a pretty good selection.

My biggest piece of advice is don't settle for a video rental without considering the free and cheaper options. Once you start looking in the library and borrowing from friends, you'll find it hard to remember why you settled for the video store. Hey, anyone want to borrow Garden State?
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Jul 21, 2010

Coldstone Creamery: go the cheap route!

There's nothing better than cake batter ice cream with peanut butter cups, white chocolate chips, fudge and even the occasional cookie dough addition. I know what you're thinking: "Holy Buckets Batman! Such expensive ice cream! Is this any way to start a blog about living thrifty?" (I can sense your passion, really). But alas, you can get Coldstone without spending a fortune, and here's some tips on how.

Valued friend = coupon sharer
  • First off, Coldstone offers free ice cream on your birthday if you join their birthday club. It's just silly not to do this.
  • Grab a frequent buyer punch card to get that free ice cream on the 10th purchase. That's 10% your ice cream, even in combo with a coupon or other deal.
  • Find a Enjoy 2 ice creams for $5 coupons (as shown to the right) and various other similar coupsons. Coldstone accepts coupons repeatedly, so when you give them a coupon, they give it back to you. This is a beautiful thing. So, grab a coupon, hold it tight, save it somewhere important because you can and will save again.
  • My biggest piece of advice: Share with a friend. Why? Because if you don't have a coupon and you want lots of mix-ins (like me) and just don't feel like spending a bundle, convince your friend to like your ice cream or, if you must, compromise. So, get a chocolate ice cream with brownies and cherries (cause your friend likes 'em) and just get it a bigger size. Get a Love-It size, or even get a pint or a quart. Then ask for two bowls and two spoons and split the price! Congratulations, you just made your own discount.
Now that you've saved some cash, enjoy your Coldstone guilt free (monetarily speaking only, of course). Check back, more blogs to come.

Welcome to The Thrift World

Blogging is an old hobby I've since put by the wayside, but I haven't stopped thinking about it. As someone who knows something about blogging, I realize that you can't just talk about your day and random topics and sustain real interest from readers (especially those sought-after readers who don't actually you know in 'real life'). Finally, some friends reminded me that I do have a topic of expertise (aka obsession).  I've decided to create a blog about living a thrifty life.

So welcome to my thoughts, my spending habits, my secrets, my passion, my world: The Thrift World. May your pocketbook and spending habits never be the same.
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