Nov 27, 2010

Sick of paying .99 cents per song?

I have only met one person in my entire life who did not like music. I imagine right now that person has a sad, dark life...when he cries he only has his silence to comfort him. I have "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. in my corner which reminds me that the world hurts too...and I can sob aloud, not feeling so alone, but feeling a bit of comfort, even camaraderie in my sorrows. This person sobs with no comfort and no friends.

I'm grateful that I have music, but like any other thing in my world, I feel that everything has a price and then everything has a fair price. I do not feel that .99 cents per digital download is a fair price.

Sure, it beats buying an entire album for $15 when you're paying for songs you don't want or even like without ever having the chance to listen to them (what did we ever do without the internet streaming music?) But, if you consider that many albums have 12-15 songs on a cd, at a dollar a song, you're paying the same amount for the digital download but without the physical disc or the casing. Same music but with less overhead - if they get a break on the deal so should we.

iTunes does sell some songs for .69 cents and $1.29. For a little bit cheaper, sells mp3s, which range from .64 cents to 1.24 cents per song, but who really wants to support Walmart? There must be better options! Alas, Amazon comes to the digital music rescue!

Amazon offers 100 albums at the price of $5 each every single month. In fact, this month The Weepies new album Be My Thrill is on that list: $5 of pure musical bliss. They also have some albums by Norah Jones, Beyonce, Maroon 5, Jimmy Eat World, and many more listed for $5.

They also offer certain "best-seller" albums for $7.99 and then even some other music for free. Might be worth checking out if you're into the Veggie Tales' Christmas album, various sample cds or a bunch of stuff I've never heard of (maybe you have?)

Check out their full collection of $5 albums here. While you're there, check out the $3.99 daily deal of the day (this is what I call a legal music steal) and let the music bargains begin!

Nov 24, 2010

Black Friday Tips

The biggest shopping holiday of the year is just two days out. Are you prepared? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you depart on your early morning shopping extravanganza.

1. Bring a game plan. Do some research before you head out. I found this website that uploads all the ads of the major companies that are running Black Friday specials. It's a good place to look at all the deals in one place.

2. Comparison shop. Even though Black Friday is the day for deals, not everything on the shelf is on sale. A lot of things are still regular price. Check out for the best deals on what you're looking for.

3. Leave the coffee at home. Coffee + stress = more stress. Your adrenaline will already be pumping, so have a couple less cups in the morning. Plus, you'll get out of the house earlier and you'll be able to skip those long bathroom lines.

4. Eat a protein bar. You will need energy and strength to complete this day of shopping turmoil. And more importantly, when another customer tries to shove you out of the way before lunging for the last $179.99 Acer will have the strength to knock them on their butt and snag it first and then yell HA! in their face (if you're really into it).

5. Consider staying at home. Save the gas, save the stress and avoid impending injuries. Lots of companies are doing Black Friday online so check out for those deals before you leave the house.

***Another way to save money and protect yourself is to drive safe on Thanksgiving and beware of other drivers. Thanksgiving is the most dangerous holiday for driving, not New Year's Eve.

Have a safe holiday!

Nov 22, 2010

Groupon comes to Reading, PA!

Recently when I was in Boston (finally I felt like I was on the map) the friends we were staying with told us about the website Groupon. I was really excited about finding daily local deals at restaurants, attractions, events and even on local goods. The problem was, I checked into Reading, PA and it said "coming soon". I was like: yeah, sure. But I did sign up to be alerted when the website reached my town and that day came before I knew it!
My friends, you can sign up TODAY Groupon delivered for free to your inbox. The whole idea is the coupons are local deals and they are pretty extraordinary. Things like 50% to 90% stuff in your city; it's a great way to explore new places! You can print the coupons directly from your email or show the coupon to the local business with your smart phone. For example, the Groupon today is for Pauline's Soups & More on the corner of 5th & Penn in the city. You get $8 worth of lunch for $4, not bad. So you actually pay Groupon $4 and then print your coupon. This one specifically expires in 1 year. It works like any other coupon except for you show up to the business and you already paid s0 you can leave your wallet at home.
This website really appeals to me because I love the idea of exploring the area and knowing all about what's around me so I can take full advantage of it. Hopefully this website can begin to introduce me to new places around Berks County by giving me a discount (a pretty good reason) to try them out. Thrifting and exploring: for me it's like chocolate and peanut butter - they just go together.

I'm excited to get my Groupon on!

Nov 19, 2010

Use a coupon, get it free

My friend Amanda just wrote a thrift-worthy post on how she acquired 3 Yankee Candles for free... with just a little creative thinking in the pocket.

We can all learn from her story. It's posted on her blog: Project 365: day 137. Click here to check it out.

Nov 17, 2010

$1 Burrito!

My last post supported mom and pop shops, and so with this post I may look like a hypocrite... BUT who can turn down a $1 burrito?

Specifically a Moe's most expensive burrito: the Homewrecker: normally $6.99, today only $1. Unbeatable.

Basically that food chain lost money on me today. No drink, no thank you. Thrift success!

Nov 13, 2010

Sense of generosity > cents on the dollar

Last night I was at Lickity Split, a food and ice cream shop in New Holland, PA, seeing my boyfriend and a friend do some fine playin' and singin'. The experience reminded me of how much I love mom and pop shops. I love seeing their unique menus and charming decor as well as supporting a couple or a family in a dream business venture. In these businesses, family members often serve as staff and treat you like they truly appreciate your visit and want to give you the best they've got. You feel like you're in their second home, because, well, you are.

The owner was actually our server and we were complimenting her place and asking her to tell us more about it. She told us that while her and her husband were restoring it to open, her husband was collecting unemployment. When Lickity Split did open, the government found out about the business and told him he had to repay all that he had collected because he was not considered eligible to work. She explained the frustration they felt that by trying to make it for themselves by opening their own business; they felt as though they were being punished because they must repay this money.

At the end of the night when everyone was leaving, the owner called out, "does anyone want a cup of coffee for free?" I, of course, said "oh I do!...while various people I didn't know started chuckling. Apparently I was a bit eager in my response. We know how much I love free stuff.

I admire this woman, who only just aired her financial dilemma frustrations but followed it with a generous offer to her customers to give away product for free when it could have easily just been dumped out.

She was not changed by that situation; she was grateful to have so many people eating in her facility and was eager to take care of her customers in a way that any chain restaurant/ice cream shop would not have done.

Throughout the years of my life when I, undoubtedly, will experience being swindled or financially punished for something I felt was unfair, I hope I can still grasp that sense of generosity, of giving more of myself, because that's more important than holding on to feelings of resentment.

Mom and pop shop, I will return!

Nov 10, 2010

A natural cleaning alternative for much less $$$

I am a big fan of the Earth. I don't think anyone can say that they truly hate the Earth (unless you are an emo kid). But oftentimes when it comes to buying Earth-friendly products, we don't want to dish out the extra money...and it always costs extra money. But we don't want harmful chemicals fumes* in our home and going into our environment. What is the price we are willing to pay? Consider my green cleaning product of choice:

Green works by Clorox. It's all natural, cute packaging and I can usually find a coupon for it. The problem is, without the coupon, the product costs just under last week's pay. Okay, it's not that bad. It runs about $4.39 per 32 ounce spray bottle. That's almost 14 cents an ounce.

A Thrift World reader recently suggested a cost-saving, streak free cleaning alternative: ammonia. For about $1 you can buy a half gallon jug of the stuff equaling only $0.015 per ounce. Buy a spray nose for your jug or transfer to an old spray bottle and you're good to go! For some people, the smell is a bit a too much, so start by adding it to water and increasing the amount of ammonia to see how strong of a scent you are willing to deal with.

It's great for all surfaces including stove tops, windows, bathtubs, tile and much more. Plus, you can use it to unclog drains. A few articles I read said do not combine it with a product using chlorine, which is lethal. I'm suggesting you use ammonia only with water, completely avoiding mixing products.

Check out these two resources for more info on how to use ammonia to replace all your pricey cleaning products.
How to clean with ammonia
Using ammonia to clean

By the way, I added a new page to my blog called "In the News". This page is dedicated to recent news articles about thrifting. I'm always reading articles I want to blog about but don't have the time, so I'm posting them there. :)

*I have received some comments regarding the safety of ammonia fumes. I will say that although ammonia is considered natural, the fumes can still be harmful so it is best to use it within a well-ventilated room. Here is another article that specifies its hazards as I do not wish to overlook its dangerous capabilities: Is Ammonia the Best Oven Cleaner, Floor Cleaner, Microwave Cleaner? and Guide to Green Living: Natural Cleaning Products

Nov 7, 2010

A new way of shopping

Last week, one of my old college roommates and I got together to go shopping and hang out. We struggle with finding an inbetween spot for us to meet up and she said suggested we go to the Park City Mall. Admittedly, I was a little excited about this venture because I had not been casual shopping with a female friend in a mall for possibly more than a year. Quickly I remembered what it was like. The stores hold beautiful shiny, new items, packaged in delightful boxes and papers, but with prices that don't appeal to me much. I feel as though, in general, the mall leaves me wanting more and more stuff that I didn't realize I ever needed. Luckily, it's browsing at the mall is not a frequent habit of mine, so the temptation was minimal and I was able to resist.

My preferred method of shopping is going to second hand stores to buy used clothing, games, household items and decor and whatever I need! Recently my boyfriend and I took a trip to Boston and of course we stopped at several thrift stores in the hip city. I got extremely lucky in my finds - I was hunting for jeans and scored two pairs. One of them Gap, the other Abercrombie and Fitch for a combined total of $11.

Many times, it's not always so easy to find great name brands for a cheap price - though most of my clothes are from thrift stores and fit that category. But in fact, if you've been through thrift stores, you know that there is tons of ugly crap on the shelves that you would never dream of buying. This mini plaque-like item of a deer hoof (?) is one of those items. My boyfriend, who is a committed vegetarian, actually found the piece to be quite vile. For some reason, the Goodwill in Shillington has this item on its shelf expecting that someone might buy it. Honestly, I almost did. I think it would make a great gag gift.

You never know what you'll find at second-hand stores. But I've learned that it really is a way of life. Once you get into it, you know what you can find and you don't buy those things anywhere else. Look hard enough and clearly, you can find just about anything.

Nov 2, 2010

Utilize your Christmas list

Though stores have not yet started playing Christmas music (we'll give it a few more days) it is still getting closer to the big day. Remember, when we were kids and Christmas was a magical holiday? Those were the days we tried to be good and left Santa cookies and milk by the tree because we wanted to up our chances of getting the best stuff under the tree. Somewhere between ages 5-10 we found out the truth - some of us held out longer than others including me. As soon as that hit, Christmas has never been the same. Now it seems more about shopping, decorating and parties. Overall, Christmas can be expensive. But thinking about your own list carefully can save you time and money in the future. How do you do that?

Ask for things you "need". I'm 24 years old and I have to say that there are few things I am in need for. I have plenty of food, a more-than-adequate shelter despite the old wood-paneled walls, and plenty of clothes. But, there are things I spend money on like body care products, groceries, coffee (obviously), entertainment and other items I am likely to buy in the future. Thus, my Christmas list is full of items I will eventually buy throughout the year so that I actually save money by not buying it myself. The other half is filled with gift cards to places I will eventually buy things at.

So this year, consider your list and what you fill your list with. Do you really need that Keurig single-cup coffee maker with pricey refill cups, even more clothes or a bigger iPod? Do yourself a favor and ask for things you "need". It will save you some cash down the road.

More Christmas savings tips to come!
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