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!
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