Dec 17, 2011

Extreme Christmas saving ideas

Maybe it's just a trend in my family but we have loads of gifts laying around even before we go Christmas shopping. My mom has books, picture frames, body lotions, crafty items, and tons more that she's gathered all year long. It's during the Christmas season that she finally breaks them out and wraps them up.

Sure, lots of stuff is on sale during the holiday season...or at least stores want you to THINK everything is deeply discounted. They just want you to buy stuff, so they'll do pretty much anything to convince you to grab everything in site while it's so cheap. But the truth is, the best time to buy gifts isn't between Black Friday and Christmas Day.

Special sales and deals happen throughout the year, and if you think ahead, you can save a bundle by shopping during each season's discounts. My mom starts Christmas shopping generally around yard sale season. I don't care what anyone says, you can find amazing gifts, new and used, right in people's back yards. We do it every year. Why should it matter if I spend $2 on your gift? If you love it, that's all that matters.

We don't just have to talk about yard sales either. If we want to get really crazy and save money, we can buy Christmas gifts from Dec. 25-30. Yep, that's when EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE goes way on sale. All those gifts that were $10, they'll all now $5. Every piece of electronics that was crazy cheap before Christmas, well guess what, it's even cheaper now.

If you want to get even crazier, I mean crazy like your friends and relatives might consider putting you away somewhere,  consider moving Christmas. ::gasp:: I know, I know. I went a little far but let me just explain. If you moved your Christmas party until a few days after Christmas, everyone could buy everything deeply discounted those couple days after Dec. 25. You would save so much money, you could either (a) buy everyone twice as many gifts or (b) save a boatload of cash...probably a little of both.

With any of these options, wouldn't it be nice to have lots of your gifts ahead of time? Then the holidays might not seem as absolutely nuts as they already are with everything going on.

I have lots of posts about savings during the holiday season, be sure to click through and see my past articles on the topic. You can click "holidays" in the Thrifty by Category section.

Dec 14, 2011

10 Money-saving options for the unemployed

Guest post: Written by Ellie Smith

‎10 Money-saving options I've explored since becoming unemployed:

1. "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down"

2. working in the semi-dark loaded down with blankets to save energy


3. home haircuts


4. going without deodorant and showering every other day (hey, it's winter!)


5. eating popcorn for at least one meal a day


6. baking my own bread and cookies


7. not leaving the house except to walk the dogs


8. making one trip to PriceRite last two weeks


9. cancelling my Netflix subscription and relying on network tv for entertainment


10. banning all Christmas-related expenditures


Estimated savings: $1,892.56


I realize it sounds really sad when you lay it all out there, but I gotta admit I'm kind of proud of myself. Now if only I could put all that energy into finding a job...

For more writings by Ellie, visit her blog: elliesmith.wordpress.com

Nov 28, 2011

Gobble up the savings!

If there's one thing November is good for, it's turkey. And you don't just have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. It just so happens that this time of year, turkeys cost only about 58 cents a pound, making it the best time to buy them...and freeze them. Compare those prices to chicken, and you've got yourself pounds and pounds of savings.

Save on food costs, by buying a couple turkeys for your freezer to stock up for the year and then enjoy them for special occasions, group dinners, or just have and eat leftovers! 

Nov 24, 2011

Black Friday door buster tips

It's 10pm on Thanksgiving night which means some of you are ready to head out to stand in line for door buster items. This year Black Friday is beginning even earlier and the deals are better than ever. It's easy to get sucked in to the chaos of the early morning rush and just buy everything in sight. Here are some tips so you stay on budget:

1. Unless you're already in line, you won't get that flat screen on the cover of Best Buy's ad. People camp out, sometimes for days, to get those big ticket items. Read the fine print, most big ticket items are only available in small quantities, but so many people show up at midnight expecting to get one. Then once they get you in the door, you'll feel obligated to buy stuff cause you made the trip. Don't fall prey to these tricks. Many times you can find similar great deals online from the comfort of your home.

2. Don't just buy something because it's cheap. When I was looking at laptops, I was tempted to buy anything with a great price, but instead, I made a list of the qualities I really wanted in a laptop. This way, I didn't just hit "buy" or grab something when an item in my price range came up. For instance, I wanted a laptop that got great reviews, had a long battery life, and had at least a 10 inch screen. I refused to buy anything unless it met those qualifications.

3. Consider shopping local first. Skip the big chain stores and support your small businesses and mom and pop shops. Did you know small businesses are much more likely to invest in the community? In the hustle and bustle of the big shopping holidays, it's easy to forget the importance of supporting local businesses, but this holiday, make it a priority.

Nov 19, 2011

Bargain books

Got to love a good book sale! I snagged these this week at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg for a total of $4.50! All the books were outside and it was quite chilly, but as one of the few who braved it, it definitely paid off.


Nov 16, 2011

Ink Cartridge Savings

Have you printed something lately and the bottom half of the letters are all cut off or your images are faded? You've reached that dreaded moment: you need more printer ink. Depending on the printer you own, it can seem like the new ink cartridges cost more than just buying another printer..sometimes this is actually true. BUT, there are a couple ways around paying a high cost for new ink.

1) BEFORE you replace your cartridges, give them a good shake, you'll get a few more good pages out before you replace them. If you think your cartridges may just be dried up, take a wet paper towel and rub it on the bottom of your cartridge until ink starts dribbling out; this will moisten the cartridges. Pop them in and try again.

2) In my town there is a store called Cartridge World. They refill your old ink cartridges for a fraction of the cost instead of giving you new ones and they guarantee their service works. Check to see if there's one near you on their website and start savin' on all your refills!

3) If your current printer cartridges cost a bundle, do consider investing in a different printer. The cost of the new printer will include 2 ink cartridges, so do the math before you make your next purchase. When I picked out my last printer, I researched the ink cartridges prices that matched my printer and made sure they were affordable so that I would save money over time.

4) Do you have old printer cartridges sitting around? Places like Staples and Office Max actually give you a few dollars credit for every cartridge your recycle. Check out your local office supply store to see what they are offering for your old ink.

Have another suggestion? Post it here!

Oct 22, 2011

Coupons at work

This is my kind of coupon deal. I wouldn't say I'm an extreme couponer, but I do like to save money on eating out. A friend and I went out to Moe's and we both had different sweet coupons...for all this food combined we paid a mere five dollars. Never underestimate the power of a purchased coupon book...it's contents, when properly utilized, far outweigh it's cost.


Oct 17, 2011

Find thrifty phone accessories

My biggest piece of advice to people who want to thrift well is to know your resources. We all need to buy stuff, and sometimes we need to buy in a hurry...so it's important we know where its selling for the cheapest.

The other week I left my phone charger at a friend's place who lives several hours away. Having a newly acquired smart phone means my phone battery life lasts only hours so I needed a charger that day. Most people just would run to their local cell phone provided store (in this case T-mobile) and buy a charger. Simple. Of course, the simple way isn't always the thrifty way. In fact, usually it's not.

Cell phone companies charge an arm and a leg...no more like your entire body for cell phone accessories. T-mobile, Verizon, AT&T and other companies actually lose money, break even, or make barely anything when they sell a cell phone because they didn't make the phone, they purchased it from another company. Therefore, they need to make money on the cell phone plan and the accessories. That is why I never, ever buy anything from T-mobile. Check out their prices (according to T-mobile.com):

8 gb memory card: 26.99
10 screen protectors: 13.99 (who needs 10??)
phone case: 16.99
wall charger: 39.99 (is this for real?)

Anyway, going to T-mobile is certainly the most convenient choice but not the best financial choice. Here's what I did instead. First I ran to Best Buy, thinking I could snag a better deal on a generic charger, and I walked out with a charger for about $19. I was disgusted with that price...so I decided to venture over to Five Below just a mile down the road. I knew they carried phone accessories, so I thought I'd give it a try and... BAM I walk out with a $5 charger!! I immediately drove back to Best Buy and return the overpriced one. And guess what, the charger I bought  for next to nothing works perfectly fine.

In terms of other phone accessories, I shop on Amazon.com or Five Below. From those places, my 8gb memory card was $10, phone case $10, skipped the screen protector and then spent $5 on the charger.

So the lesson is go to stores with lower prices like discount stores, thrift stores, dollar stores, stores like Five Below etc and check out what kind of items they have in stock. Then next time you need to buy something in a hurry, you've got a plan in your back pocket...along with some extra cash.

Links: The Thrifty Home

Sep 24, 2011

Sep 23, 2011

Thrifty find

Ok so I'm normally not a big shopper but today I grabbed a steal. This purse was on sale for just $15 at Target...gotta love their sales racks!
On another note, I apologize to everyone for my lack of posting. I did receive a full time job so it's definitely taking some adjusting. But with the pay increase, and with some fighting with T Mobile, I was able to secure an Android phone with a cheap plan. Now I can take pictures and write posts from my cell phone (like this one). So expect shorter posts with more pictures for a bit. This is the new era of The Thrift World....and I hope you like it! Thanks for reading!

Aug 28, 2011

Yard sale find photo

Photo taken at a local yard sale in Seattle, Washington by Thrift World friend, Caryn Nelson Adams.


Aug 22, 2011

Salesmen: It's all about the numbersAndriod

Yesterday I went into T-mobile with my sister and brother-in-law to join a family plan together to save money. I had heard that T-mobile just unleashed some brand new "value" plans that allow you to pay only $10/month for a smart phone data plan. Competitors charge $30/month for data. Clearly this is something for a thrifter to be excited about.  In fact, the plans are way cheaper than any other plan, but an unsuspecting customer might end up leaving the store with the value plan but not saving a penny over other plans. Why? I call it salesperson trickery.

Our salesman's name was Jeremiah, and he was really excited we were signing up for a new plan under him. He even told us quite frankly that he makes his money off commissions, but Jeremiah was very disappointed when we didn't buy new phones from him. T-mobile's new values plans are super cheap but don't give a discount on new phones, in fact you have to pay full price. For me, this isn't a problem.  I'm so used to buying used phones from friends, Craigslist, and Ebay, but for the normal consumer, this presents a large problem.

Jeremiah desperately wanted up to each put down $100 up front and then just add a "mere" $15/month to our phone plan to pay off  our new phones. When I picked up a $200 phone, he told me he "wouldn't feel comfortable" selling me that phone because it doesn't have enough frills.  He calculated we were saving over $400/year on our plan, so why not put that saved money toward the best new phones...right? Wrong, Jeremiah.

Our phone plan currently will cost us, in total for 3 people, a total of approximately $105 = $35 per person per month. If I were to buy the latest Android phone, I would pay $100 up front, then $15 per month until the phone is paid off. The problem with this deal is that, over the 2 year period, I will have paid over $400 for the phone...this completely cancels out any savings I would have made by choosing the cheaper plan.

Salesman always disguise the overall costs, telling you how much money you already saved and how little you'll need to pay per month Do yourself a favor: DO THE MATH. A little here, a little there doesn't seem like month, but over time, that little amount adds up, and in this case, its a largely deceiving amount. Too bad the poor guy didn't know what he was dealing with.

Dear Jeremiah,

I understand salesman speak and I see through your lies: I did the math and I don't buy it. Good luck with your monthly sales and commissions (with no help from me).

Angela

Aug 18, 2011

Saving Money on Higher Education (written by Amanda Leeann)


Today, I am taking part in Blog Swap day with 20 Something Bloggers! This means I write a guest post someone's blog and they write a guest post on mine. Be sure to check read her guest post (below) and then read my post at Amanda's Musings posted here.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Hi all! I’m Amanda, and Angela has agreed to let me take over her blog for a day!

While I don’t run a blog about thrifting, I do consider myself a thrifter. For instance, today I wore a 50-cent {no, I’m not talking about the rapper} belt to work and got more compliments than you could shake a stick at. But I digress.

Yesterday, I started my fourth year of college. Guys, college is expensive like whoa. But there are ways to cut costs. & thus I am presenting:

Amanda’s Guide to Saving Money on Higher Education

1.   Community College
I know, I know. It sounds lame. In all honesty, it is kind of lame. What’s not lame is that {at least in my experience} one semester at a community school is less than half what a semester costs at a state university. If you’re worried about your degree sounding lame, don’t be. I had a counselor tell me “you’re only as good as your last degree” and it’s true. While I do have an Associate of Science from a smaller school, I will ultimately have a Bachelor degree from a state university, but with much less debt.
2.     
      Used Books
Text books are a rip off. They change a few page numbers every couple of years and then act like they’ve done everyone a favor by having a new $100 book to buy. I don’t think so. If you have to have a specific edition, try sites like Amazon, Chegg, etc. I type a book’s ISBN number into Google and see what pops up. Many professors know books are expensive and don’t require the newest editions. If this is the case, buy the older edition! The leg work is more in the beginning {changing page numbers on the syllabus} but for the savings, it’s worth it.

3.   Scholarships
Make sure you ask about EVERYTHING. I transferred in January, and only just found out about a transfer scholarship I should have been getting that I didn’t even know existed. The hassle of financial aid offices is overwhelming and annoying, but there’s always the chance you could be rewarded.
4.   
        Tuition
The university I attend offered small scholarships for summer classes this year. While class in the summer is kind of lame, saving money isn’t. Check to see if your school offers any such things for summer or mini-term classes.

College is expensive. A higher education isn’t going to come free for most people – I have to think of it as an investment when I start to be paranoid about the loans I’m accruing. But there are ways to save money. It can be a lot of legwork, and time consuming – it takes much more time to type in ISBN numbers and compare prices on the Internet than simply going to the campus bookstore and handing them your class list. While a college education can’t exactly be thrifted, it can be done for cheaper. As long as you stay away from private school. 


For more blog posts by Amanda, and to check out my guest post on her blog, go to Amanda's Musings!

Aug 3, 2011

Get all your hairs cut for less

I'm lucky. I happen to have a friend who is a hair dresser. This is called the best case scenario. 
If you don't have a hair dresser friend or family member and don't want to pay typical hair styling prices, there is another option out there.

In my town there is a beauty school which offers discount hair cuts, hair dying, hair styling, manicures, pedicures, and more for way, way less than you'd pay normally. 

Sure, there is some risk involved in getting your precious mane cut by an student ultimately practicing their trade on your head. But, at our local beauty school, after the cut is done, a teacher always comes by to check on the finish product and makes adjustment as necessary. I have gotten my hair cut at our local beauty school several times in the past...the only damage done? $8 measly dollars and an acceptable haircut. If you want to save a few bucks and you're willing to take the risk, you will save a few dollars, just call your local beauty school for pricing.

Jul 26, 2011

Beachin' it? Bring the water

There are many days I think about ways to save a ton of money, but even more frequently I think of little ways to save a buck of two. I spent the past two days at the beach and the thriftiest thing I brought with me was bottled water. You may be confused as I have blogged about avoiding bottled water in the past, but in this case, bottled water really saved the day.

When lounging on the beach in the hot sun, it's easy to get desperately thirsty and drop $2 + on each bottle of water throughout your stay. To avoid this travesty (and I do mean travesty), I would recommend packing a few bottles for your trip and bringing one or two along with you each day. This helps avoid impulse beverage buys on the boardwalk ($3 lemonade, mostly ice) or buying a beverage with meals if you're ordering at the counter.

Another option is to fill up a reusable water bottle in the hotel or consider investing in a water bottle with a built-in purification system. Personally, I'm too much of a water snob to use the hotel water and just haven't bought the purified bottle, but what I did worked for me, and sure did save me a few dollars.

Jul 15, 2011

5 Job search tips

We all know a good job is hard to come by. Jobs with good benefits, decent pay, and coworkers we don't despise are not exactly numerous these days. Unfortunately, many of my friends and family members are in a similar place of being jobless and desperately seeking employment. As a recent graduate, I also fall in this category. If you don't have a job, you don't have money, which makes you possibly more drawn to my blog, but that's not exactly how I want to gain readership. This is my second go at actively seeking full-time professional employment and I've learned some things along the way that I would like to share to help out all those in a similar position.

1. Don't expect to get your dream job tomorrow. So many of my friends still think, despite the economy, that they will and a job in just a month or so. The most important thing I want to stress is to be realistic in your job search. I don't need to tell you that hundreds of people are applying for each job that you are applying for. Expect to find a job 3-6 months at best.

2. Consider seeking out temporary employment while you search. Go to a temp agency or apply for part-time jobs. I currently have a part-time waitressing job and if anything, it motivates me to find a professional job faster. If you are afraid you might get stagnant in the job search by taking something temporary, ask a couple friends to keep tabs on your job search (in an encouraging manner).

3. Have someone review your resume. Ask a friend who has some business success or know-how to take a glance at your resume OR, seek out your old college/university career services staff; those offices are set up to serve their alumni and trained to help you on your job search. Since your resume speaks for you until you get an interview, make sure it's the best it can be.

4. Consider volunteering. The best piece of an advice I got from a professor was to volunteer or somehow get involved in your field while jobless. Go to local meetings, try to join committees, offer to help out with projects of interest in the area for free. By getting involved, you'll meet people, gain current references and gain more experience in your field.

5. Get the word out that are you are job seeking. It's so important to explore your network of friends/church members/family members and seek out old colleagues to see where they're working and who they know. If they are in the same field as you, ask if they know anyone to pass your resume along to. It never hurts to let people know that you are actively seeking employment. Along the same lines, if you meet someone who has a job in a field that you aspire to work in, ask them to meet you for coffee or lunch to find out more about their company/job and seek advice on gaining a similar position. I've done this several times and usually the person is more than happy to share their connection, help me get interviews or tell me about jobs not-yet-posted to the web or newspaper.

I want each of us to have a job we are satisfied with, but even when we get them, we must not forget our thrifty roots. Find a job but don't forget the little blogs that may have helped you on your search!

Jul 1, 2011

What to do with old CDs: Abundatrade review

A secret passion of mine, besides thrifting, is organizing and getting rid of stuff (and trying to get money for it). In these past few weeks I've moved, and therefore have been going throw all my things to figure out what to keep and what to chuck. I LOVE doing this, it's like a disease.

One collection I've thought about parting with for sometime is my CD collection. I've spent hours ripping all my CDs to my computer and then transferring the MP3s to my iPod (which I got on craigslist for dirt cheap). Now I hate having the clutter of the discs and the cases...who needs them really?

But the question is, what do I do with all these CDs? I don't want to lug them around every time I move considering they can be easily consolidated in mp3 form. I paid maybe anywhere from $10-15 per CD back when I was just a kiddo...now I want to part with them by taking a trip to Goodwill? It's unjust really! So I started to wonder, what are my other options?

I googled "sell used CDs", but didn't come up with much, so I eventually asked around. One friend who tried to sell his collection on facebook, told me about a site called http://abundatrade.com/. I took a peak.

Abundatrade is a website that buys your old CDs from you and then resells them on the website. I entered in just a few of my CDs and it turns out that some of them are worth between $1-2.50 each, which is excellent for old, used CDs. Plus, this site allows you to buy used CDs for cheap as well. Overall, it seemed like a good idea to me.

So, I went through the tedious process of entering each CD UPC code into an Excel spreadsheet and uploaded it to the website. I decided I would send them every CD worth more than 50 cents. With that being said, the amount they would give me was about $60. I was a bit skeptical of the total considering the website said the prices were assuming these CDs were in "like-new condition", plus you have to pay your own shipping fees.


BUT I just received my check in the mail from Abundatrade for $45. In their letter to me they told me three of the CD cases didn't have CDs in them (whoops) and only 2 were not in the proper condition. I was pretty pleased with the check amount considering FYE and other stores buy back old CDs for mere pennies; this is a considerable improvement. Plus for the optimal CD condition, I employed a trick at the advice of a friend. I took all the CDs that were worth something, that were housed in ragged cases, and swapped the cases and with CDs that were worth nothing but in better condition, thereby improving the condition of the CDs I could get some money for. This seems to work out well.

After I got my check and those CDs were gone, I took all the leftover CDs that I did not send and sold them at a couple yard sales for 50 cents each, and make around $10. All in all, $50 for all my old CDs is certainly not ideal, but it's better than getting nothing for them.

More to come on this topic. Hope all my thrifters have a super holiday weekend!
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Jun 12, 2011

How to yard sale with the best of 'em!

Look in your local merchandiser, check craigslist.com, the best deals out there can be found in people's backyards across the country every Saturday morning! It may seem like an odd concept to travel to other people's homes and dig through boxes of stuff they are getting rid of. In reality, people give away junk as well as treasures for pennies on the dollar each week. It's your job to find the treasures, and trust me, they can be found.

Here's some tips on how to make the best of yard sale outing:

1 - Good stuff can be found all day, but the GREAT stuff goes early. Try to go out as early as possible to snag the best deals

2 - Go to well-to-do neighborhoods. They've got money so they've got the best stuff.

3 - Find community yard sales. I am not a big fan of driving around to independent yard sales even though my mom swears that's where you find the real treasures. I love community yard sales because you just park your car and walk around the whole neighborhood, saving on gas and time spent searching for people's homes. Figure out which strategy works best for you and just go with it.

4 - No price is permanent. If you'd pay less for something, offer it out. Most people just want to get rid of their stuff and will probably take you up on it or counter offer.

5 - Consider upcoming gift-giving. I buy lots of brand-new or new-looking gift items at yard sales for future birthdays, baby showers, weddings, etc. Sometimes I don't even know who I'm going to give it to, but I buy something anyway knowing eventually it will make the perfect gift for someone. I've bought journals, candles, baby growth charts, picture frames and lots of other goodies that I've given as gifts that looked brand new (some stuff was). Remember, gifts don't have to be expensive to be meaningful and exactly what someone wanted.

I have gotten SO MUCH great stuff at yard sales! In fact, I've got too much stuff, so my friends and I will be hosting our own this Saturday and hopefully I'll be able to sell some of my CDs, housewares, decor and other stuff I don't need anymore. If there's anything I love more than thrifting, it's getting rid of stuff! More on this next time!

Links:

Jun 11, 2011

Fight allergies for less

As summer begins, pollen levels soar, leaving us stuffy-nosed, congested, and pretty miserable all around. If you've taken a trip the drugstore lately, you know that name-brand allergy medication prices are through the roof. But you're in luck. There are ways to fight allergies without falling to prey to sky-high prices.

Short-term plan
To cut medication costs, trying buying off-brand/generic drugs. For me, Claritan works best in clearing up my sinuses when the grass allergy is high, but it's exorbitantly priced at about $20 for 30 pills. Luckily, the off-brand I found at Target (Up & Up), only cost $3.99 for 30 pills and uses the same active ingredients as Claritan. I actually approached the store's pharmacist and asked him if the off-brand would work. He told me he gives his kids off-brand medication; if it uses the same active (fighting) ingredients, it will work just as well. I happily took my medication home knowing I saved about $15. Not too bad.

Long-term plan
Though allergy medication helps in the short-term, allergies come back every season which require more medication. But if you want to fight allergies in the long-term, start with local honey; it's known as a possible natural remedy to reduce allergies. The idea is that since honey is comprised of local nectar, by eating a spoonful a day for a month, your body starts to become immune to local allergens.

To find local honey, go to your local farmers market or stand. Be sure to check the label and make sure it's truly made nearby. I bought mine at an independent farm stand for $4.35 and have had some success in reducing my allergies by taking it, so it's worth a shot! Plus, if it effectively reduces your allergies, it will save money on medication in the long run. And of course, saving money in the long run is always the goal around here!

Next for The Thrift World: How to Get the Best Deal at a Yard Sale

Links:

Jun 6, 2011

Cheap summer entertainment

Yesterday, I got together with some friends from church to have a picnic and we participated in some good old fashioned fun. We played some foursquare (costs include $5 ball, and $1 chalk @ Target).

The temptation during the summer months is to try as hard as possible to stay in the air conditioning by going to a pricey movie, eating out or lounging in a coffee shop. While none of those things are bad, it's important to remember that there is TONS of opportunity for next-to-free/fun entertainment everywhere in the great outdoors!

We need to get out and embrace the sunshine and the heat. Once we're used to it, the heat becomes bearable and we can be free to participate in outdoor activities. It seems that during the summer, people are just way more willing to get together and gather in groups to barbecue and just hang out, so we'd be foolish to not take advantage of that.

Lots of games/activities have very low equipment costs depending on how much you already have, how frequently you use them, and what equipment your local parks already have. Here are some suggestions for outdoor activities that won't cost you a lot:

-foursquare
-volleyball
-bocce ball
-ladder ball
-tennis
-picnic
-board games on the deck
-shuffle board
-tether ball
-quates/horseshoes
-badminton
-hiking

...and there are plenty more.

Gather some friends and revive an old game or play some news ones! Pat yourself on the back for indulging in cheap entertainment, you thrifter you!
________________

May 31, 2011

And.....WE'RE BACK!

This has been a time of finishing up school, applying for jobs, and moving! Finally, after all the busyness has cleared, I can re-start blogging!! Thank you all for being loyal, for "liking" and "following" The Thrift World, even in the absence of new material. Though, as promised, I am returning blogging in the month of May (just barely), The Thrift World re-design has been pushed back to late June...but changes are coming!

While I'm been on blogging hiatus, and when I started to plan my return, I began to reconsider WHY I chose to start a thrifting blog. Spending time with family and friends, having conversations and balancing my own new budget only reinforced my excitement and motivation for blogging about thrifting.

The motivation of The Thrift World is: I want to help people avoid becoming a slave to money.

Think about it. Many of us or many of our family members work 40 grueling hours a week, and then spend the rest of our days recovering from work(I know, this is a bleak outlook). Even though we are getting paid and have an income, we do not conquer money, we become its slave. We are heaped with bills, taxes, debt and the money we work long and hard for, always seems to slip away. How can we control our income? How can we become masters of our monetary domain?

We can thrift. We can watch how we spend our earnings. We can learn to get the things we need and want for less, leaving us with some disposable income and less financially stressed life. We can become people who have enough and can give. We can be happy without constantly worrying about our finances.

We can be thrifty and free! Learn how to do that here. Now I can happily say, there is much more to come. Stay tuned!

Mar 24, 2011

The Thrift World: Status Update

Dear fellow thrifters,

I write this letter with mixed excitement and disappointment.

My very talented cousin has offered to give The Thrift World a much needed face-lift for a bargain of a price. An exact look is not quite nailed down quite yet, BUT the new site will be up and running by mid to late May - that is a definite. The Thrift World will be newly cleaned, polished and thrifty as ever in less than 2 months, going full steam ahead.

Until that time, I regretfully announce I be taking a pause in blogging. While my cousin is designing, I am finishing final projects for my masters degree. It seems like a natural time for a break in writing.

In an effort to keep in touch and get status updates on the new website, please "like" The Thrift World on Facebook to engage in thrifty banter and discussion. I will continue to post new ideas and thrifty thoughts via that medium.In the meantime, look on the left hand panel of my blog for "thrifting categories" to read up on previous thrifting posts you may have missed. You can also check out a new online magazine I'm a writer for called The Modern Domestic.

Thank you all for your support & thrifty ideas. I look forward to future blogging this May!

Angela


Mar 15, 2011

Explore local restaurants for cheaper

Just about every person I know enjoys eating and drinking out. I love exploring new pubs/restaurants in the area and supporting local businesses. What I don't love is paying the bill after my visit. How can one combat this conflict of interest? Two words: weekly specials.

For example, every Tuesday night my friends and I venture out to a local pub for 1/2 price appetizers and $3 micro-brews. I suggested we try another pub and some friends knew another local place with 1/2 price appetizers, $1 off micro-brews, 75 cent PBR beer. I said, sounds like a winner already!

Lots of restaurants and pubs have weekly food and drink specials. You've heard of them: all you can eat wings, 1/2 price appetizers, $1 off beer/wine, and other special deals on certain days and certain times. It may seem like a simple peice of advice, but if you want to check out a new place, why not go when food and drink is cheaper? So, when embarking on a journey to explore your city, first pop on locations' website. Find out which days and times you can get the best bang for your buck, and enjoy the new spot without dreading the bill.

In case you're you're a regular reader of my blog and you're keeping count, you might realize I blog about saving money on liquids a lot. I just realized this myself. I have 2 previous posts on beer, 2 posts on water, and 4 on coffee drinks. Check 'em out by clicking on any of their links below.

Beer:
Boston & Beyond: Get free beer
Get free beer (part 2)

Water:
Thrifty alternative to restaurant beverages 
Kick the habit: bottled water

Coffee:
How to save money at coffee shops
The lure of buying iced coffee
Beware: Keurig single-cup coffee maker
Starbucks Rewards program review

Mar 10, 2011

Dominican Republic: What are we thrifting for?

We all have a problem in this country: we are addicted to money. Can I tell you how I know this?

We rely on our morning Dunkin' to get us through the day. We shop for fun. We need to organize, sell, donate, and clean out our stuff regularly because we have so much of it. We are aware of the fact that there are people in the world who have nothing, not even fresh, available water on their streets and yet we are reluctant to give.

On this trip to the Dominican Republic, I was struck by the fact that I spent 0 dollars the first 3 days we were there. I didn't buy a coffee, or a sandwich, or ice cream, or any gifts. In fact, I never even brought my money with me when our team went out. Our meals were provided for us, and we were face to face with people who were willing to do anything for a good education and a fair opportunity at life. Buying a latte never crossed our minds.

Our team walked the streets of Los Tres Brazos, where naked children ran down the streets unaccompanied, with glass and trash stacked on the corners. We reached a farther section of town where a local told us "this is the part of town where families have no well access". We saw a man and women, together, carrying buckets of water to their homes because they simply had none in their homes or on their block.

I've been to third world countries before, but not like this. We walked into peoples' homes who had not even 200 square feet of living space. One home had only a cramped bedroom with a dirty uncovered mattress for the family to rest their head and a small television set that broadcasted the lives of the "haves" to the "have-nots".
I'm planning to save money my entire life and be thrifty and save money. But, for what? What's the goal? I want to live simply. I want to give. I want to make a difference with my money. 

Now, how can I break this to my pleasure-seeking self?

Mar 4, 2011

It's good to invest...

...in others. Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves that we forget to invest in others. If we ever think our financial situation is bad or our life is not working out so well, consider there are always those who have less and are in tougher situations than you.

I will be unable to blog in the next few days because I am taking a trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. I am heading there with my masters program to try to create a 3-5 year strategic plan for the community. This community is impoverished. I am sure to see plenty of people who have much less than me. It will be like stepping into a new world...

But from what I've heard, the people have much joy in their lives, though at this point, I cannot say how or why. I'll have more to report when I return next week. Until then!

Mar 2, 2011

Your purchase broke? Write a letter!

I made an "investment" a few months ago, or so I thought. I bought a $12 Nalgene bottle. If you've read my blog about water bottles (read it here), you'll know that I made the switch from disposable to reusable bottles a while back and this has saved me a decent amount of money over time.

Anywho, I spent $12 on this Nalgene, and though it may not seem like a lot to you, I felt like it was a lot of money to spend on something that ended up breaking a couple months later. The cap busted and quickly my "investment" turned into a waste of money.

I was pretty annoyed to say the least. BUT, unlike every other time this happens, I actually decided to do something about it. I decided to write to Nalgene. And I did, using very harsh words about how I bought a Nalgene due to high recommendations from friends and was an extremely dissatisfied customer because it broke so quickly. I'm not sure the wording matters in this case, but I had fun making it sound like a really serious issue.

Less than 1 week later (I'm not kidding), I got this in the mail:

Nalgene sent me a new cap for my bottle, a couple stickers with a hand-written note explaining a strategy on how to make the cap last longer this time around. I was impressed, though i'm not sure what to do with the stickers?

The point of this story is, if you buy something and it breaks sooner than you think it should, try writing a letter to the company. Tell them you're dissatisfied. I know people who do this all the time and usually get back vouchers for free stuff, get new replacement parts or sometimes even full refunds. The letter-writing took me a good 10 minutes and the cost of a stamp. It saved a $12 water bottle and the cost of buying a new one.

Next time you don't like what you paid for or something breaks, write a letter! It's definitely a thriftier strategy than going out to buy a new product. It's worth a shot!

Feb 25, 2011

Thrifting resources: woot.com + deals.woot.com

I believe one of the keys to being a thrifter is knowing what resources are out there. Today I want to share two websites that can act as a great personal thrifting resources for great deals available online. Those two (related) websites are woot.com and deals.woot.com.
  • Woot.com is a website of daily deals. Each day, they offer a special offer on electronics and other stuff at a special discounted rate. I've bought several things off that site including the netbook I'm typing on. They also have other categories of daily deals including kids.woot, shirt.woot, wine.woot and sellout.woot, each offering a different item each day for cheap.
  • Deals.woot.com is a related site that highlights daily good deals found on the all over the internet offered from other companies. Many of the deals I've shared on The Thrift World come from here. It's definitely a good source for finding freebies and thrifty deals online.
If today's deals don't strike your fancy, poke around the woot.com and deals.woot.com sites and see what cool discounted stuff you can find. If you like what you see, good news, the sites have new deals everyday. For more thrifting resources, simply click on The Thrift World tab called "Thrifting resources".

Happy weekend!

Feb 22, 2011

Get free beer (part 2)

This past weekend a couple friends and I attended a beer and wine festival called Friendfest. If you've never been to one of these gigs, basically breweries and wineries set up at tables and offer free samples of all the different kinds of booze they brought.

Overall, beer and wine fests are a great way to try out new drinks, but honestly, they are usually pretty pricey. In my area they can run anyway from $25-$50 per ticket and may or may not include food. But, there just might be a way to avoid the ticket price.

Volunteer for the festival.

My friends and I volunteered to work one of the two sessions of Friendfest (about 3 hours of work) and then got to drink for free in the other session. In some situations, depending on the state the fest is in,  you have to be certified to serve alcohol if you're helping pour drinks for a brewery or winery which can present an upfront cost to do the training. But if you plan to attend several festivals, it might be worth it to get certified.

To set up volunteering, find out who's in charge of the festival and offer to help out in any way they need it. They all use volunteers so this won't be a foreign concept. Contact them as soon as you find out about the festival to maximize the possibility that they still need volunteers for the event. Then, enjoy the perks that come with the job.

If you missed my other post about how to get free beer. Check out my other post: Boston & Beyond: Get Free Beer.

Feb 18, 2011

Starbucks Rewards Program review

I recently became a Green Member of Starbucks new(ish) rewards program. It took me a while to get this status. They started the program a bit ago and I registered and started earning Green Level Rewards. They then changed the program and I lost my reward status and had to purchase 5 again to requalify for a rewards status. I was a bit annoyed. BUT finally I purchased another 5 drinks and therefore now hold Green Member Status. You might be wondering why I even go to Starbucks considering the high prices conflicting with my thrifter status...but I just love buying speciality coffee. I've written several posts about this obsession. Read more of them here.

Overall, the rewards program is growing on me. With my Green Membership I qualify for free flavor shots, free refills on hot and iced coffee and tea, a free birthday drink, some special coupon offers, and a free beverage with a whole bean purchase. To register for a membership, you must use a Starbucks giftcard to pay for your drinks - so you have to continually load it with money (which can get you in trouble). Then you must register the card online to start earning member rewards.

Beyond the Green Membership, you can also earn a Gold Membership which is reached after purchasing 30 Starbucks drinks (slightly less than a car payment). At that point you start earning one free drink for every 15 you buy. This is clearly for the Starbucks-a-holics. I think the Gold rewards are a bit weak but then again, this deal clearly isn't set up for me.

Overall, I enjoy St. Arbucks (as they call it in England), though I'd rather support the local mom and pop coffee shop. BUT, as the spring thankfully approaches, I plan to begin ordering tall iced coffees with a free mocha flavor shot and as many free refills as I can handle for a mere $1.45 on my future visits. They really shouldn't let us thrifters in on these membership deals.

We're just going to take advantage of them.

Feb 15, 2011

A simple household cost-saving fix

I'm very excited about a recent household purchase. I'm easily excitable really, but this new buy is going to save me some money in the next few months which is always cause for a mini-celebration.

My roommate and I have really crappy drains that get clogged up all the time. We buy $8 Draino every couple months which really adds up. Plus I just hate to think about the environmental impact of using that stuff all time. Sometimes when we de-clog our drains, the Draino goo is clumped down in there too. I feel like it helps and hurts at the same time.

Finally, I bought a solution.

These little guys (not sure what to call them) came in a pack of 3 for just $1.99 at an Asian market in Lancaster, PA. Random, right? Plus, this pack of 3 fit perfectly in our kitchen sink, our bathroom sink, and our bathtub drain. It's like they knew the dimensions of the drains in our apartment somehow (creepy, right?)

Anyway, these stainless steel contraptions catch everything! It can actually be a little annoying, because you have to de-clog them and clean them. BUT, I have confidence we will never have to buy Draino again. Since we've made this purchase, our water runs straight down our drains, showing no sign of getting held up at any point.

Thrift success!

Feb 9, 2011

Thrifty Valentine's Day tips


Dilemma: you want to express your love to that special someone in your life... but you don't want to break the bank. A common misconception about Valentine's day, in many cases, is that the amount of money you spend is what matters most, but luckily, it's just not true. What's more important is the thought behind the gift and the effort behind that special dinner/plans you arrange for your sweetheart.

Here are some tips on how to have a meaningful Valentine's Day without spending a fortune and still winning some points with your significant other.

1. Hand-make your gifts. Consider busting out your creative side to try to construct your card, instead of buying it, put a few pictures in a collage or frame, home-make chocolate covered strawberries or heart-shaped cookies, make a mixed cd, create a personalized coupon book your partner can redeem...get creative! If you're an expert artist, consider writing your loved one a song or a poem. Check out some more home-made gift ideas for Valentines day on this website.

2. Create a romantic dinner at home. Lots of restaurants get totally booked every Valentine's Day so they take that opportunity and jack up all their prices on that day. You will pay more to eat out on Valentine's Day and it will be overcrowded. So why spend $50 on a steak dinner that you can re-create at home for $25 or less? Get out your best silver, light a few candles, and enjoy a romantic evening at home with some home cookin'. If you're really stuck on dining out, I recommend going out the day after Valentine's Day to avoid the crowds and avoid the high-priced dinners.

 3. Arrange a special day of doing your partner's favorite things. Go to their favorite coffee shop, store, park, or arrange to do their favorite activity together. This can be as inexpensive as you make it and your partner will appreciate your thoughtfulness and attention to detail.

Remember, hand-made gifts and home-cooked dinners and specially arranged days are cheaper and always more meaningful. You don't need Hallmark or a dozen roses to tell someone how you feel, your partner would rather hear from you and your personalized handiwork anyway. Good luck planning your special day!

Feb 6, 2011

Need more clothes without spending more cash?

We all love adding clothes to our wardrobe. Having new, fresh items to pick from the closet just makes the morning selection process go smoother. We've been building up our wardrobe almost our whole lives so you'd think we would never need to buy more clothes, but styles change by the season and its easy to feel pressured to keep up. Did you know Gap specifically changes their jean color every few months so that we feel pressured to buy the next new shade? Let's not fall prey to the marketing schemes of the clothing companies.

Here are just a few tips on how to spend less on clothing.
1- Aim to buy "timeless" clothing, stay away from the trends. I remember when I was a kid, I wanted to buy a pair of red, cotton flannel pants. Trust me, they were all the rage at my middle school and I was determined to look cool. My mom told me not to waste my money on them because they'd be out of style by next season. I ignored her advice and sure enough, by the next year, I wouldn't wear those ugly things out of the house.

This is an extreme example, but it happens to us all the time. When you go shopping, look at styles and colors that last more than a season so you can build up your wardrobe instead of replacing out of style stuff every year.

2- Fix the clothes you already have. Grab your needle and thread and fix the buttons on your pea coat and the hem on your work pants OR, go to the store and buy a quality stain remover and soak the stains of the clothes you already have. Once you spruce up your current selection of clothes, you'll find yourself with more quality choices and feel less inclined to go out and buy more.

3- Throw/Attend a Clothing Swap! Time to change up your wardrobe? Here's the perfect way to make it happen. Sort through your clothes and pull out any items that you are done wearing. This can be items such as shirts, pants, sweaters, belts, scarves, purses, etc. Bring all the items to the "Swap" and get started. Whatever items are not swapped and don't go home with anyone will be donated to Goodwill. Get rid of items clogging your closet and even liven up your wardrobe with a few new items. It's the perfect event!

I'm almost set to go to a clothing swap next weekend, I've got a huge bag of clothes to give away already but I haven't even gone through my main shirt rotation yet. I'm excited, I love getting rid of stuff.

Remember, Punxsutawney Phil says spring is coming early this year, so set up your clothing swap now with your family and friends just in time for spring cleaning!

Feb 1, 2011

Ways to save at the pump

Gas prices usually go down in the winter and go up in the summer. This season has been different - gas prices actually went up. I wish I had tips on ways we could take gas companies by storm and drive their prices down, but I don't know that it will work. I'm still brainstorming that idea, but in the meantime, I can only offer some advice on how we can stop using so much gas (a thrifty, and much safer alternative). Here are some practical ways we can all save some cash at the pump.

1. Drive like your grandmother. Accelerate slow and don't drive above 65. Accelerating quickly wastes a lot of gas, so notice how quickly you pull away from the stoplights and practice easing on the gas pedal - it feels unnatural at first but will save you money. Also, your car's gas mileage goes way down when you drive beyond 60mph (55mph being the optimal driving speed) so slow it down a bit. Try leaving a few minutes earlier so you don't have to rush when you get in your car. This can also help prevent accidents, which can be quite costly as well.

2. Check your tire pressure. In the winter, the air condenses and your tire pressure goes way down. I checked my tires last week and they were only 2/3 as full as they should be. If you haven't checked your tires yet this winter season, you are probably in the same situation. Check the dpi number on your tires and then go to your local gas station and fill your tires (and if you live near Reading, PA check out a Wawa for free air pressure nozzles). Filling up your tires makes a huge difference in gas mileage and will absolutely save you money.

3. Take some weight off. Lose any extra, unnecessary stuff you're carrying around in your car or trunk, it's only hurting your mileage. In the winter when your car is covered in ice and snow, scrape it all off, that stuff is heavy! Don't forget to get rid of your roof rack when you're now using it, it adds drag to your car and decreases mileage as well.

4. Get tuned up. Small things like getting the check engine light diagnosed and fixed, changing your oil and air filters in a timely manner, and doing little needed repairs can make a huge difference on your gas mileage. If your car is working well, it will run more efficiently and use less gas.

5. Consider getting a gas card. If you frequent a gas station, look into the gas card they offer and its rewards. Your loyalty might just save you a few bucks. I personally use the Discover Open Road credit card that offers 2% cash back on gas purchases and restaurant dining. It may not be much, but it's something I can put back in my wallet. And something is better than nothing.

6. Don't settle for the first gas station you see. Notice gas prices when your tank is getting low and go for the cheapest one that's on your way. You can also check out gasbuddy.com or download an app that tells you which stations near you have the cheapest gas at the time.

For more thrifty tips than you see here, "like" The Thrift World on Facebook in the upper left-hand corner. Drive safe thrifters!

Jan 28, 2011

Free Quaker Oatmeal Squares sent to your door!


***Sorry Thrifters, this deal has expired***

Quaker is giving away free cereal, with free shipping. So tell your mom, tell your roommate and don't forget to send a couple to yourself (using different email addresses). I actually really like Oatmeal Squares, so I'm excited about getting my free samples in 6-8 weeks.

Sign up here at deals.woot.com. Just click "I want one" and then on the next page click "share the squares" - enter your email address and well as anyone else you'd like to give free cereal. Then check your email and follow the link. Bam! Free cereal sent to your door.

Not a shabby deal. Thanks, Jeremy, for the tip!

Jan 25, 2011

A thrifty day's theme: WAIT to buy

In terms of thriftiness, yesterday was top notch. Let's review the day.

1 - My good friend and I went to Dunkin' Donuts for $0.99 lattes thanks to accompanying coupons from the newspaper. Their 10oz mochas are great for the price, but I think it's helpful to add some sugar for a sweeter taste.

2 - I went to my grandmother's house in the evening and she not only inspired me for a future blog post, she also gave me a coffeemaker! My roommate and I have had a crappy coffeemaker ever since we moved in to our apartment together two years ago. We've had  a Gevalia machine (which comes free with a $20 coffee purchase) that makes bleh-tasting coffee and never brews as hot as I'd like. I happened to mention to Grandma that I was looking for a new one and walah! She happened to have a one lying around. This proves a point.

When you need something, instead of immediately going out to purchase it, simply mention it to friends when it comes to mind. Not "hey guys I could really use a X, can you give me one". Just "I've been keeping my eye out for a coffee maker lately, mine just isn't doing the trick". That's how I got my camera, my new-to-me coffeemaker and my item in #3! Let's face it, all of us have a lot of stuff we don't need...so it never hurts to put that need out there; you never know what's collecting dust in someone's closet or basement.

3. My beloved cousin phones me to say he would like to redesign The Thrift World! I am ecstatic! He already has a degree in graphic design but is taking a refresher course that requires him to build a website, and he thought of me (again, I plugged my need). Therefore, The Thrift World will be looking a bit different in coming months, that means a new logo and a new overall design. I am very excited! If you have ideas or suggestions, send me a comment or "like" The Thrift World on Facebook and post on the wall.

Jan 19, 2011

Items of luxury v.s. everyday luxuries

My new bathroom read is called "Frugal Luxuries" by Tracey McBride. It's about embracing the simple pleasures of living the frugal life. I love this book. Plus, I just bought that little basket it's sitting in for just $5 at Target, which I think is so cute.

Recently I read a section of the book that discusses the idea of allowing yourself to delight in little things and ordinary occurrences instead of items of luxury, like ipods, laptops, coffeemakers or whatever item you have your eye on in the stores. How do we do this? Well, we can start by noticing things around us that make us happy and to appreciate what we already have. The book recommends making a list of things in your own life. Okay, I'll go first.

Things I appreciate/enjoy about everyday life:
  1. cookie dough ice cream (I'm eating some right now and it is fab)
  2. my cozy apartment and wonderful roommate who puts up with me
  3. organization
  4. the ability to write creatively 
  5. the opportunity to learn about different people and different cultures
If we can master finding pleasure in the simple, everyday occurrences of life, we will have less need to go out and buy the next best thing to bring us satisfaction. The goal is NOT to stop buying things we need and want, the idea is to find contentment in everyday things so we don't need to self-indulge at our favorite store to enjoy life.

Now, make your list: What can you find appreciation/contentment with in your everyday life? Try to notice and appreciate those things this week. Practice being content with what you have and what you've got going on right now.

Jan 15, 2011

Home

I am home everyone! I will be back to my normal blogging schedule again. I apologize for my leave of absence. The first days of my trip, I was blogging and uploading pictures but somewhere around day 7 of 15 I hit a wall: I was exhausted. I am still pretty tired but things will be back to normal soon.

By the way, meet my new camera! My good friend Steve gave me his sweet Panasonic...I guess it shows if you put off buying something long enough, eventually you might get lucky.

Keep thriftin'!

Jan 4, 2011

Ireland is heavy on the wallet

I've been in Ireland for 4 days so far and I must admit, I'm doing a terrible job of thrifting. Here are some of my excuses. I'm not sure any of them are justified.

1)The bills look like monopoly money.
2)The coins look like, at max, 25 cent pieces even though they range from a penny in worth to 2 Quid.
3)I'm seeing beautiful stuff that my friends and family would love in every store. Oh, did I mention I love it all too?
4)The menus are full of amazing food like fish 'n chips, Guinness Stew, scones (not like the ones in the U.S.) and creamy hot chocolate...and it's all quite expensive.
5)I will probably never be back here again so I should live it up, right?

Okay, even though I'm a flaming hypocrite, there are still a few pieces of advice I could give to the common traveler.

  • Stay in a hostel. It's extremely cheap compared to a hotel. It's a little less comfortable, but for under half the price of a hotel, it's worth it.
  • When you order a meal consider splitting it. I've only done this one time so far even though I should be doing it at almost every meal. The portions are huge, just like here in the U.S.
  • Instead of souvenirs, consider shopping for friends and family at the grocery store. Even though I've seen so many wonderful things, I'd go broke if I bought them all so I've decided to bring back chocolates and pastries for my loved ones. It's cheap, it's unique and it's delicious (shout out to Carrie for suggesting this one)!
For more pictures of my trip thus far, you can visit my Facebook album by clicking here.

Cheers!

Jan 1, 2011

Thrifting: Ireland Style

Happy New Year everyone!

I am fortunate enough to be in Galway, Ireland and will be taking a Europe tour for the next couple weeks. You might be thinking, well that doesn't sound very thrifty of you, does it? Well, you gotta spend that stale cash somehow and I usually choose travel. I feel like if you haven't seen the world before you die, then you haven't fully seen the human experience. Thus far in my life I have been to Canada & Mexico, Egypt and Spain. After this trip, I add Ireland, England, Whales and France to that list. Eventually I'd really like to go to some part of Asia, Australia/New Zealand. Back in the U.S., I'd love to go to Oregon, Washington and Alaska. One day I'll get there, if I save enough cash.

Still in Ireland I've thus far made two attempts at being thrifty, cause this place is expensive. I'm one for two.

1) First story: we get to the JFK airport and everyone on my trip decides they will buy Euros in the airport. Before the trip, I read up on the euro/dollar trading. I knew I should get about $0.75-79 per U.S. dollar. I saw that JFK was offering a mere $0.66 cents with a $10 fee if the transaction was under $500. I was appalled at the prices and decided to take a chance. I had no idea what I would get in the Ireland airport, it might be better or it might be worse. Members of my crew advised me to trade $20 just so I had something in case of emergency, but I didn't because of the $10 fee per transaction...I'd be paying $30 U.S. and really getting $20 towards the Euro. There's no way that was happening.

When we get to Ireland, I head straight for the euro/dollar trade airport woman and try to decipher the numbers on the large scrolling board. Finally, I just asked the woman what a U.S. dollar would get me and she said $0.72! But then after their 3% transaction fee, it was really $0.69. Though $0.03 doesn't sound like a lot, since I was only trading $400 I would have eaten the $10 fee and paid $12 more for my money equally a savings of $22. Not too shabby. Thrift success!

For future reference, I did some additional research and found it is best to do your exchanging at your local bank or post office to get the best rate. Either way, I would advise to shop around. 

2) Next, yesterday I urged my group to head to the grocery store so we could pick up some necessary items including bottled water, snacks and whatever else. I decided to grab a couple grocery-store made soups and put them in fridge in the hostel as to avoid eating out for every meal. They have community fridges at the hostel so you can label your stuff and stick it in, obviously taking a risk. This morning I went to grab my cheaper lunch from the fridge and my soups were gone!! Which means either I labeled them incorrectly and they got thrown out, or people stole them. It was a little heartbreaking - 6 euro down the tube. But alas, they did not eat my yogurt, so I am enjoying a little parfait instead of going out for an expensively delicious pub lunch (though I asked someone to pick me up a chicken sandwich from a fast food joint (still much cheaper) because we might be hiking today and I need something substantial!

During my trip, my blogs will most likely be limited but I will attempt to give a couple updates as I am able. Hope everyone is doing well in the U.S.!
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