Dec 27, 2010

Post-holiday thrifting tips

Our major gift-giving holidays are over, that means some quick action could save some cash for next year. Here's what to do:

1- Save received holiday bags, boxes, bows and sturdy ribbons. Toss tissue paper and wrapping paper unless it's in pristine condition, otherwise it shows its wear. All of these things can be re-used next year if they are still looking good. This saves you money because you don't have to buy as much next season. Plus, reusing is going green.

2- Hit the after Christmas sales! Buy the rest of the gift bags and bows you'll need for next year and buy more decor, tissue paper, wrapping paper, holiday cards, and labels - its all half off! If you're really feeling daring, buy some 2011 gifts...just make sure you buy stuff the person won't buy from now 'til then or won't go out of style (future gift examples: holiday scented candles, decor or whatever you may find!) Keep an open mind and always keep your receipt.

3- Look to exchange, and re-gift appropriately but don't let that stuff pile up. I know what it's like to receive an ugly sweater, unneeded scarf or silly game that you're really not interested in. Don't hang it in your closet, don't put it on your shelf. Every time you look at that item you'll feel a little sense of guilt for not wanting it (or is that just me?) I recommend you google the item, find out where it was bought or where it can be bought and try to return it. Many stores will give you a store gift card without a receipt. If that idea fails, just give it to goodwill or look to regift. If you're not sure about giving it away, consider: will I miss this item in a month? If the answer is no, get rid of's just taking up space.

4- Consider changing the date of next years' festivities til after the holiday. This is for our expert thrifters. The idea is you wait to buy your gifts until the one or two days after Christmas because everything is on sale! Everyone could get more gifts for the same cost, or the same amount for a cheaper price. Remember, Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25th, that's made up, so if your family is strapped for cash, consider moving your Christmas party to a later date. A merrier Christmas for everyone!

Dec 24, 2010

I want to live like Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg has more money than Steve Jobs. He drives a black Acura TSX, rents a house in Palo Alto, and lists "eliminating desire" as an interest on his Facebook page. He says, "I think it would be very easy to get distracted and get caught up in the short-term things or material things that don't matter". Considering his estimated $6.9 billion fortune, he lives a modest life. Not to mention that he just signed The Giving Pledge, promising to donate half of his fortune to charity. It takes holding quite a healthy perspective on money to join that foundation.

We are living in a society whose health and wealth depends on people spending money above their needs. We are living in the season of celebration, and shopping. We stack wrapped clothing, coffee makers, laptops, and toys under our green fir symbol of everlasting light and life.

We must maintain a loose grip. Otherwise we may see financial stress clouds hovering over our day and our desire for nicer things mastering our minds.

The challenge: live a simple, content life above our desire for more and better stuff.

How can we accomplish this task? We start by finding satisfaction in our current state of affairs and proprietorship. We continue by seeking only items of practicality. We end by living in financial freedom and a sense of inner-contentment. This enduring process can be accomplished with determination and an understanding to resist temptation.

Start after Christmas. Stop going to your favorite store. Stop peeking at the shopping websites on your toolbar. Aim to make and create above purchase, and to learn and discover above items of gratification. Look within and pour out a sea of spirit and inspiration. Find a boat to rest on that sea and leave the life of longing behind.

Cast your anchor. Feel satisfied because you've eliminated the plugging desire for the bigger, the better, and the shinier. Feel cool because you live in the same neighborhood as Mark Zuckerberg.

Dec 20, 2010

Microtraveling: Holidays on the Cheap!

As part of the 20 Something Blog swap, Andy Jones, our guest poster from England (as in the country, not New England), will now tell a tale of how he thrifted his way through Europe. I believe we can all be inspired by his story. Check out his blog here: Andy hmmm and enjoy his post!
During my final year of University I invented something that I call Microtravelling*. I had three problems; I am quite a wanderlustuous, I didn't like the final year stress, and I was in a job that effectively paid less than minimum wage. Those three things don't go well together.

Anyway. To skip to the end of the story, between November 2008 and November 2009 I had been to Denmark, Spain, Poland, Wales (it counts), Sweden twice, Norway, Germany, and Italy. When I tell people that (not that I tell people, but more when they see on Facebook) they think I must have loads of money, but that is far from the truth!

It all started when I saw a 'Flights 1p' offer. These offers are renowned for actually costing much more (more like £100) due to the hidden costs. I was determined that, since that is the advertised price, I would do all I can to pay as little as possible. I had to prove it to my family with receipts, but the final cost of my flight to Denmark cost 8p... 1p there, 1p back... I even treated 3 of my friends. Getting that price wasn't too difficult. I had to open a new bank card, the only card that doesn't incur £10 fees per person, and I had to accept not having any bags, which was fine.

The hotel I found was £25 each, for two nights, which is the benefit of having 4 people. It had the bonus of not needing a map to find, as it was pretty much attached to the airport. But still, beggars can't be choosers. Denmark is a notoriously expensive country... I had to accept that I couldn't eat too much. This was made easy by finding a big pack of biscuits that cost £1. In the time I was there I got by on one burger, one pizza, one pack of biscuits, 70cl of vodka and two bottles of coke. Student style. Total cost: £48.02. And great memories, and a Captain Vestman picture**.

Finding the cheapest flights can take some time, but it’s worth it. Take time to find out which cards don't carry any fees and make sure to get one. Hotels can often be expensive; instead I usually look for alternatives such as apartments (which you can usually get much cheaper). Norway was a little bit different. To avoid paying fees for that I had to get a 'prepaid MasterCard'... I hadn't even heard of one before. Hotels cost a stupid amount there, so we decided to split a £25 bag fee between us and take a tent! That’s thinking outside the box. Although the holiday became much more expensive when I paid £6 for a 6" subway. £1 an inch! In Sweden we saved money by staying on a boat!

It has taught me that you don't need much money to go on holiday. The flights may only be relevant to European, but the idea that saving money by 'slumming it' any way possible is relevant everywhere, and in my experience, leads to much better memories!

*I may not have invented it, but I haven't heard it used before.
** Souvenirs cost too much money. A drunken photo of me, wearing a tight, gay vest is more than enough.

Check it out

Today I am participating in a blog swap hosted by 20 Something Blogger's. That means I will host a post from a guest blogger and he will host a post from me. Come back later as Andy Jones will take a shot at posting on The Thrift World.

For now, check out his site: Andy hmmm to read my guest post! His blog is based on 100+ things he wants to do before he dies. I beat him to number 3. For the full story, click here.

Dec 16, 2010

Weaver's $20 gift certificate giveaway!

Thank you Weaver's for giving me a free $20 gift certificate for simply showing up at your store yesterday. No minimium purchase, no fine print, just plain free. The line out the door was CRAZY! I actually had a "wait, is this black Friday?"moment.

We got there, and the line was 15 people long. According to the Amish woman in front of us, it was the shortest it had been all day! And we walked up to the door and they just handed you the ticket, no form to fill out, no questions asked, here's your money. Needless to say, I didn't buy anything yet because the check-out lines were half the length of the store. But I will be back because the gift card doesn't expire:)

Men - your chance is coming up. That giveaway is happening next Wednesday, December 22 at Weaver's Store in Fivepointville from 5-9pm. Just show up, be a man or do some fine convincing and you're golden. Don't miss it!

Dec 13, 2010

Best gift card deals

I decided to expand on one of my previous posts about buying gift cards because I had a couple sweet deals to share...

Recent and/or Local Gift Card deals:

**Weaver's Store in Fivepointville is giving out free $20 gift cards their customers who drop in between 5-9pm and who are 16 years of age and above on the following days mentioned below. You can spend the gift card that night or any time you like. I know it sounds a bit too good to be true, and that's what I thought too, so I just called to confirm and it's true.

Free gift card for ladies: This Wednesday, December 15
Free gift card for men: Next Wednesday, December 22

**Again, today is offering a discount on their gift cards. Today's code is "GIVE"; with that you'll receive 70% off your purchase.

**Starbucks offers rewards to card-holding members. So if you load a Starbucks card, register it, and then use that card for your purchases, you can earn rewards such as free birthday drink, free coffee & iced coffee refills, and free soy & extra flavor shots. They also send you a coupon for a free drink via snail mail for every 15 purchases you make.

**Discounted gift cards can be found at: plasticjungle and ebay (if you're lucky).

**Receive free gift cards when you redeem your credit card points. Unless you're using your rewards to donate to a charity, this is the best bang for the buck. Usually buying items in the credit company's rewards store isn't the best deal. If you need help learning how to earn rewards with your credit card, visit

**I'm tempted to again, use the "G" word...but I've overused it these past few posts...

Additional gift card strategy
Around the holiday season, businesses are dying for you to buy gift cards for everyone on your shopping list. It means they get money for that purchase, because when you receive a gift card without a receipt (as a gift), you can't return it. Plus, if you don't use it, the company makes that money back without giving away any product. So they REALLY want you to buy gift cards...some places are even offering deals and discounts associated with the purchase. Here are just a few I saw offered in the past couple weeks:

-Free lunch with a $40 gift card purchase (Hoss's Steakhouse)

-20% off gift card purchase (Lords & Ladies Salon)

-Buy a gift card over X amount and receive a free cup of coffee or bag of coffee(Starbucks, Max Crema's)

Why does this matter? Because if I'm already going to Lords & Ladies every six months to get my hair done, I may as well buy a gift card while it's discounted and use it on myself. That's 20% off all my purchases. The best part is, you can combine that 20% off with other coupons or deals. Or if I know I'll use that Hoss's Steakhouse card, then I may as well take the free lunch and hold on to the card and just use it next time I go there.

Just be sure you will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt use that money, otherwise it's lost. And of course, it's best to do this with places you already frequent so as not to spend additional money at extra places.

Dec 8, 2010 80% off today w/code!

Today which already offers discounted gift cards to local restaurants, is 80% off with a special code. Today's code: JOY. Great to buy for yourself for future use or even to use it a semi-lame gift; after all, it is a coupon.

Make sure you read the fine print, all gift cards have a minimum purchase amount required BUT, it's still a great deal. So today, and today only, you can get a $25 gift card (with $35 minimum food purchase) for $2. There are lots of restaurants and gift card dollar amounts (10, 25, etc) to choose from.

Save money on oil changes

I am happy to say that beginning Monday of this week I will spend half as much on oil changes for the rest of my car's life.

I was reading an article I posted in the Frugal Living in the News tab of my blog, which is where I post recent articles about living thrifty, mostly from Yahoo! news. Anywho, the article is called "6 Ways Conventional Wisdom Wastes Money" (very intriguing title). #1 of the article caught my eye.

#1 - Change your oil every 3,000 miles. This is what your mechanic tells you, this is what the sticker on your car tells you, and this is what conventional wisdom tells you... BUT, this may not be what your owner's manual tells you. And really, we should listen to our car (especially when it saves us money).

The article goes on to say that most newer cars do not require an oil change every 3,000 miles because newer car engines and oil have advanced beyond that; in fact most cars only need an oil change every 5-10,000 miles.

I already was trying to save money by having my sister's boyfriend change my oil, giving him some cash and still saving some as well. Plus, I was using synthetic oil which supposedly lasts longer than the typical oil change, so I was changing my oil every 5,000 miles, not 3,000. Then I came across this article and decided to consult my manual (who would have thought?). My car isn't that that new, it's a 2000, but I figured I'd check it out anyway.

And walah! My owners manual actually says change your oil every 10,000 miles!!! I feel a little silly for not realizing this early, but I just assumed 3,000 was standard for every car. Now, I can change my car's oil HALF as much as I did before which is half off!

So, be sure to go out to your car, find your owner's manual and make sure that you are not over-changing your oil. Who knows, you may save as much as cash I will!

Two additional tips: 1- do not assume your car can go more than 3,000 miles without an oil change before first consulting your manual. 2- if you can change your oil less frequently, you should still check your oil levels periodically and add more as necessary.

Dec 4, 2010

Save money all year with an Entertainment book

Last year my boyfriend and I received an Entertainment book for Christmas loaded with coupons to local restaurants, coffee shops, entertainment and travel. Many of the deals are buy one get one free (BOGO), or buy one get one half off (BOGOHO?). You can check to see which coupons are available in your town by doing a zip code search.

Today the website says book are $10 off (which makes them $25) with free shipping but I think $25 is the normal price, so never pay $35. You can also order the book through and get the book $25 and then receive 35% cash back in your account, which is $8.57.

In my experience, we definitely saved more than the cost of the book, especially considering it was bought for us (put it on your Christmas list). But every person is different, so check the locations out to see if you actually go to the places listed. Coupons are good til Nov. '11.

Sometimes coupons can get you to spend more money because you weren't planning on going to that restaurant or shopping at that store, but if you're already a customer, you may as well get a coupon, which is why I recommend this book. It could also be a great gift for someone who just moved as a way to explore their new location. Personally, I'm excited to find my Entertainment 2011 book under the Christmas tree this year.

Go go go BOGOHO!

Dec 1, 2010

How to save money on Christmas gifts

'Tis the season to be jolly...and thrifty. Not cheap, thrifty. It is the gift-buying season, which means Christmas lists and shopping trips. But don't think you need to spend a fortune. Sometimes the most practical and meaningful gifts can be less money than the traditional, generic gifts that fill the aisles of department stores. Here are a few ideas to get you started shopping.

The best places to buy gifts are the wholesale retail and discount stores like Ollies, Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Tuesday Morning and much more. For many people, it can be difficult to shop at these stores because you never know what they'll have in stock or what you'll find. But during the holiday season, go explore these places and bring your list. You never know what treasures you will find for much less than the average retail prices. Plus, they're great for buying inexpensive gift wrap.

Allow yourself to buy less. If you find a wine rack for $12.99 instead of $25, don't feel obligated to buy more stuff. Honestly, most of us don't need more impersonal, obligatory gifts to fill in those monetary gaps. Buy great gifts for your loved ones, and when you find it for less, reward yourself. Cross that person off your list.

The best gifts are not the most expensive ones. People appreciate gifts that are well thought out and personal. Really take time to think about what each person would like to receive. Also, consider buying practical. If you're not sure what the person would like, think about what they "need". My favorite gifts are the ones that I can use immediately, not the typical throw-away gifts that serve no purpose. We buy those only so we can say we got them something; it's more for us instead of them.

If you're really not sure what to get someone, consider buying a gift card to a place they frequent or you think they'll enjoy. Think about where they like to go out to eat or where they buy their coffee in the morning. Even though giving gift cards can seem impersonal at times, most people love to receive them. Just make sure you double check that there is a store nearby their place. I've already received a gift card to a store, where the closest one was 45-minutes away. Don't make it hard for them to spend your gift! If you do decide on a gift card, be sure to check out discounted gift card deals at (requires minimum purchase amount), (my latest obsession) (a gift card exchange site).

Good luck bargain hunting! More holiday tips coming soon...

By the way, if you have a thrifty idea that you'd like to see mentioned on The Thrift World, just post it as a comment or send me a message. I love hearing readers' ideas on creative ways to save money.
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