Dec 30, 2012

Let's share that meal, says the Stubborn Saver

I had a friend tell me recently that they wished they could thrift like me and save money the way I do. Of course I told them to read my blog if they want to change their life, and we laughed and they said they already did. I thought for a moment and realized there was one factor that separates a serious thrifter who saves money on nearly everything from a normal everyday saver that may use a coupon every once in a while. The difference is the ability to be undeniably stubborn.

This is a picture of the meal I had for lunch today that was about $17...actually I split it with a friend. It's my belief that a lot of people don't want to go through the trouble to save little money, in this case, admitting to the server/owner that we didn't wish to pay for our own meals, instead, we were going to split one. Honestly, it's always a little uncomfortable (at least for me) to split a meal. Its a little time-consuming to wait until you find the item  you want at the thrift store. And its a little stressful to refuse to pay a price that is just too high - but these are things that, in the end, can save you a LOT of money.

Most people are not willing to go through the effort or the anxiety, and that's okay, you can still save money, but its the drive that moves me to save more than other people. It's a sickness that is sick and tired of watching people fall prey to debt and lose control of their finances because they don't know how to get what they need and spend less money. There is another path. I can teach you the secrets. Just don't be afraid if you find yourself becoming a tad bit financially stubborn. It's part of the way out.

I wish everyone a happy 2013, and here's to blogging more, because I like it so I should do it, damnit. Here's to a fresh restart.

Nov 1, 2012

Losing a domain name: the thrifty solution

Pheew that was close. You may have noticed has been down a few months. I'm sorry for the confusion...but it makes for quite a thrifty story.

A few months ago I bought a house, and I was dealing with buying stuff for my house, figuring out how to pay bills, moving things in, repainting walls, and ripping up carpets. While all this is happening (AND I have internet connection problems at my house), I get a renewal notice from Google regarding my domain name (, which is supposed to automatically renew. Well, it didn't automatically renew, and the email got lost among the messages/bills/notifications/everything. And then one day, the website is down, and I am FREAKING OUT. My website has lost its home.

I call Google, and they want 90 stinking dollars for me to retrieve my expired domain. 90 dollars. By the way, it normally costs 10 dollars per year for my .com, so 90 is quite a hike. But I'm thinking to myself - What if a domain buyer buys it up and wanted thousands for it? What if they reopen the URL for $100/year? What if? Google is telling me I need to buy my domain now to get it back.

At this point I have a choice. I could turn my back to myself and my beliefs and pay an exorbitant amount of money to retrieve my beloved domain name, or I could take a chance and wait for it to become available again to purchase. In the meantime, anyone who has ever bookmarked my blog is getting a blank page...they think my blog is dead, but I decide to wait anyway. So I wait, and wait, and wait. Everyday I check to see if the domain name was back on the market.

Today, at work, I checked godaddy and my site is finally available! Price? $10/year. BAM. Patience, in this instance, really, really paid off. And truly, I took a chance. This is unknown territory for me, I wasn't sure what could happen. But the good news is, I'm back online. And while I may have lost some followers who thought my site was no longer running, I saved $80, and more importantly, I saved my pride.

I stayed true to myself and to my blog. I won.

Sep 3, 2012

Cable bill bliss

I think hating your cable company is part of being an American. There are constantly connection problems, service appointments are only given with 3-5 hour time windows, their customer service is annoying, and their prices are a complete money suck. Did I miss anything?

While we can't change the attributes of our cable company, we may be able to do something about the price we pay for our services. 

I wanted to set up cable at my house (basically so I can watch football), and because I am American and a complete tight wad, I hate this entire process. So I did some shopping around and finally called Fastrack* to set up cable. I asked the man on the phone what his absolute cheapest plan available was. He told me about their $29.99 plan, which is also what I saw on the website. I asked him if he had anything cheaper, and he replied no. Then I told him I had previously had a $14/month plan about 2 years ago when I was a customer...was that still available? He said, oh yes we do have that plan. Funny how he didn't mention that. Excellent, I said, I would like to purchase that one. He said that is only the most very basic channels, and I said that was fine.

A few days later, the cable company comes out to install the receiver and the service man tells us we'll be getting more than just basic stations, and after checking, we in fact do receive over 30 tv channels, which is not what we were initially told. The story continues...

I happened to stumble on an incredible TV deal on, the best place to buy electronics for cheap, and all of a sudden I needed to upgrade to HD Cable. A little frazzled, I assumed I would need to upgrade to that $29.99 plan I did not want. So I called the company back.

They informed me I would only pay $2.40/month to upgrade to that's not a typo. And then for the kicker. I go to cable company's office to upgrade to a digital receiver and the woman at the counter tells me my plan includes the company's on demand service where you can instantly watch hundreds of new tv shows and stream free movies, oh, and it also includes 40 music stations. Frankly I didn't believe her. But I didn't want to question why I would receive all these incredible services for $17/month. So I just simply said thank you and went on my merry way.

I go home, set up my receiver, and to my udder and complete shock, I did have the on demand services and the 40 music channels the woman told me I would have. I went on their website and found out that the $29.99 plan doesn't even include these services! Is this real? I successfully found a loop hole.

The moral of the story is being stubbornly cheap can really work in your favor..but doesn't always come this easily. For instance, I spent hours making phone calls and arguing with different internet companies so I could get the cheapest deal possibly and eventually did get the best deal, but it came with a great bit of hassle. But all these efforts are just part of my belief that the key to economic freedom is lowering your monthly costs so you have money for everything else. I will hold strong to this belief even when it's completely time consuming and stressful. But, hey, saving money comes with a different sort of a cost. The question is: are you willing to pay it?

*not the actual company name. I'm afraid they will find my blog, change my services, and destroy my life. Please don't find me, please don't find me.

Aug 20, 2012

Bed, Bath & Beyond: Oh how I loathe thee

I have an abnormal distaste for Bed, Bath & Beyond. I went there today...but it was my last option. See, I bought this house (why I haven't been blogging) and I have this roommate. And I can't continue to agonize over little things like finding the perfect, moderately inexpensive bathmat because it simply means we will not have a bathmat for several months. Of course, I'm used to this because I am this way with everything, but it's not fair to her. She deserves to have a bathmat, ya know?

So I went a couple places without finding said mat and finally decided to take the thrifter's walk of shame into the famously overpriced retail store that makes it money off wedding registries for people who aren't actually paying for the stuff, but making their friends and family cough up the money, and maybe the stuff is kinda nice, at least the marketing is good, but seriously why the crap would you pay $95 for an over the toilet shelf when they are $20 at Target! ahhhh!!!! Okay, okay, back to the story.

But if I'm going to be honest here today, I was a little surprised at how much I didn't hate walking into Bed, Bath & Beyond. In fact, my experience was quasi positive and so I decided to create these lists...

Things I didn't completely hate about BB&B
1. Since I had just gone to several stores in an effort to avoid that very store, I was very familiar with price points on the items I was looking for. I was surprised to find their prices to be the middle of the road not just marked up like a billion percent.
2. Their 20% off coupons are generally inescapable. They send them to your house, they put them in the paper, they put them in every coupon book imaginable. They do everything but hand you one when you walk in...but  actually if you sign up for their email or text list, you will get 20% that day anyway.
3. I actually found a bath mat. And I don't love it, and my roommate actually told me she doesn't like it, but its better than a towel, and the price was acceptable for the emergency situation (not having a bathmat for several weeks).

Things I was still moderately annoyed about:
1. I thought by using the famous 20% off coupon that my $14.99 bathmat would be like $5.99 or something, but it was still over $12. That disappointed me.
2. Their customer associate was really just too friendly. She asked me what I wanted, I explained I wanted a brown bathmat, and she just made it her mission to point out every single brown bathmat they had in stock. She later noticed I was still staring at the bathmats...she doesn't know me, this is what I do. So she comes back over and continues to make more suggestions. When I shop, I really don't want your suggestions. Frankly, I don't trust you. I don't think you have my best interest in mind and I'd rather you didn't speak unless you're spoken to, but I couldn't just walk away. I mean, I'm not rude.
3. I still basically hate Bed, Bath & Beyond. 

Jun 9, 2012

Have you seen this? It's a review

Just a few weeks ago I ordered my very own pair of Oxford sunglasses online, from The website gives a large variety of prescription and non-prescription glasses to choose from including different styles, shades, colors and more for glasses and sunglasses.

Website: I love that the reviews for each pair of glasses is right on that page, which always gives the consumer some confidence, and it's certainly very convenient. Each pair of glasses shown offers a glance at the pair of specs on a certain face shape for an idea of what they may look like on you. Overall the website is easy to navigate, clearly displaying prices, and providing a fairly specific search engine to find different products. My only complaint (or rather compliment on their marketing squad) is that the majority of the glasses are not really 39 dollars. Some of them are, abut most of them in the  $50-$60 range.

Glasses: The pair I ordered were non-prescription sunglasses with a grey tint. When I was looking through the website, I couldn't believe how many different options there were for choosing the right pair of glasses. My purchase, like all other purchases from the site, included a hard case, a micro-fiber cleaning cloth, and a 100% guarantee and a tiny eyeglass repair kit. The glasses (and lenses) I received are very light weight, as noted on the website, so unfortunately they don't stay on  top of my head. But surprisingly they do stay on my face when I play ultimate frisbee, which was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, I think for prescription lenses, you probably won't find a better deal out there. All of their glasses are also manufactured in the United States, which is also always a plus. I do think for regular non-prescription glasses, they are a tad expensive compared to my usual flea market/yard sale sunglasses finds. But, hey not everyone is as cheap as me:)

May 14, 2012

Discount Grocery via The Food Aisle

The Thrift World is excited to host a guest post by good friend and respected blogger, Crystal at The Food Aisle. Be sure to read her post below and follow her cooking blog.

I write this post with one sole purpose: to get you to find and visit a discount grocery store near you. I have a long history of visiting "scratch-and-dent" stores with my mom, some of them way off the beaten path, like that tiny Amish shop in eastern Iowa that didn't have any electric lights. Right after getting married, though, it was enough work to think about just stocking my own pantry and refrigerator with the resources I had close at hand, so it's been only recently that I've ventured beyond our local big-chain grocery stores.

Lucky for me, I don't live in Iowa anymore, so even though I didn't find a huge selection of discount grocery stores when I searched online, I did find one gem: BB's Grocery Outlet, with several locations in the southeast PA area. It's definitely the biggest discount grocery I've seen, and the most comprehensive. The milk is regular price and the produce is passable, not amazing, but still, they have milk and produce along with aisles and aisles of dry goods. Even though I have no prejudice toward generic products, what I particularly like at BB's are their numerous high-quality, name-brand items. We're talking Yoplait Greek yogurt w/ granola topping for a quarter a piece. Softsoap handwash for a dollar. Even a Martha Stewart all-natural carpet cleaner spray for less than two dollars.

I could keep going, but the most persuasive way to do this is to show you a picture:

This glorious load cost me...

wait for it...

Fifty dollars and change.

Just in case this still isn't clear (maybe you don't do large grocery trips very often, or maybe you cook too infrequently to know the relative cost of groceries), let me break this down.

Buitoni fresh four-cheese ravioli: At Giant, $4.49. At BB's, $1.79.
Fresh limes: Giant, $.50 each. BB's, $.25 each.
Kraft veggie macaroni and cheese: Giant, $1.50 each. BB's, $.50 each.

As far as high-quality, name-brand items go, this pile also contains:

Hilshire Farm smoked bratwurst 
John F. Martin cheese dogs (quality local meat brand)
Townhouse Flatbread Crisps
Kleenex tissues
Turkey Hill chocolate milk
Terra sweet potato chips
Scott select-a-size paper towels
Post Great Grains cereal
Cascadian Farms organic frozen strawberries
Snapple Sorbet Pops
Annie's Naturals goddess dressing
Kotex product
Stubb's beef marinade

If I'd had the energy, I would have been tempted to go to Giant and price everything out to really wow you, but instead I'll give you a rough estimate. My best guess is that for this batch of groceries, I would pay between $80-$100 at most of our local grocery chains. And I took it off BB's hands for $50.

A few tips for shopping at discount grocery stores:

  • First, find one. Google "discount grocery" with your zipcode, or ask that Mennonite lady down the street. If Google fails and you know no Mennonite ladies, ask a hippie.
  • Plan to spend a substantial amount of time shopping. Discount groceries are notoriously unorganized, and you will likely have to sort through shelves of mismatched products to find the gold.
  • Save discount grocery stores for stock-up trips, not quick errand runs. The potential inconsistency of the merchandise and long lines of insane, cart mountain, I-only-come-out-of-my-house-once-a-month-to-feed shoppers may frustrate you if you need to get in and out.
  • Keeping the first two tips in mind, I recommend taking time to browse. Don't write a store off just because you don't see useful products on first glance. Poke around, shove things aside. Because discount grocery stores are not as pristinely organized as regular grocery stores, sometimes the good stuff is hiding. That being said, I do recommend choosing a store that, on first glance, looks like they use some kind of organizational structure.
  • Check dates! Only two or three items in my pile above were just slightly past their Best By dates, and since I've read plenty about how those dates are conservative, I deemed them just fine. I did see plenty of product that was wildly out of date, however. Just be conscientious.
  • Don't settle for bad food just because it's cheap. This will ruin your diet and enjoyment of food. I am sometimes tempted to buy food that's not very healthy or flavorful just because it's that darn cheap. But no matter how many Hamburger Helpers I walk out with, the price isn't going to make them taste any better. If you have to choose between settling for a mediocre-looking version of an ingredient you need or paying full price at a normal grocery store, suck it up: buy the better product. You're saving enough money elsewhere with those 45 packs of crackers for FIVE DOLLARS!!!

May 12, 2012

Yard Sale find: wine rack!

Best yard sale deal ever. I was looking at these wine racks in a home decor and furniture store for over $100. Today's price = $1.

The wine/liquor rack was the best find of the day, but here are some others:
3 shirts = $1.50
1 wooden chess board = $1
1 flask and leather case = free
2 packs of sticky page flags = $1
1 retro Phila Eagles hat = $1

...this is where most cliche writers would say: blah blah blah = priceless. Don't worry folks, this isn't a cliche blog. I may go thrifting, but I don't use cheap words. That's where it counts.

Apr 28, 2012

Learn the lingo

This is some sample jargon from the home I was raised in.
Like mother, like daughter...
In this case "sailing" is referring to the act of yard saling, a typical  morning endeavor  most commonly occurring on Saturdays.

Apr 24, 2012 review: should I wait to buy?

I am a thrifter so naturally, I labor over all my purchase decisions...okay so maybe I'm also horrendously cheap but that's besides the point. It is not uncommon for me to spend long periods of time staring at an item in the store contemplating: Should I buy this? Do I really need this? Am I getting a good deal? Is this the right time to buy?

Thanks to apps like ShopySavvy for Android I can tell if I'm getting the best price on item at a particular store that given moment...but the app won't tell me if it's the best time to buy the product. comes to the rescue. gives current product price predictions, advising consumers to wait to buy or buy it now. Predictions are based on past product price history, future model release dates, the typical product release cycle among other factors. Unfortunately for me, this means I will feel ripped off unless I am getting the lowest possible price...but I digress.

The site is equipped with a search bar that allows you to search for a product specifically or non-specifically. You can search "panasonic lumix", which will bring up every product model for you to select the one you want, or "panasonic lumix DMC-FH25K"to get exactly what you want...although in this case, I have to wait to get what I want. Just one of life's little irritating themes I guess. is one of the many sites I have listed in the Thrifting Resources section of my blog, a bank of thrifty, money-saving websites. Please let me know if you have one to share!

Apr 8, 2012

Spotify review

The best thing since Pandora, or iTunes, or whatever you're using to play music is out. It's called Spotify and it appeals to thrifty people like me, and like you.

I'll admit, I don't really buy music unless it's a desperate situation or unless I've been collecting the band's albums since I was 11, like Reliant K. The equation is generally: Not wanting to buy music + wanting to listen to music = Pandora. BUT what we all hate about Pandora is if you choose a song you want to listen to, they simply won't play it...maybe not for hours. And if you want to listen to a band, they'll play them, but you'll have to wait for every 4th song...but, wait no more.

Spotify allows you to choose an artist or band and then stream their albums right from their music player, which by the way, has many less ads than free Pandora, though it does require a download. You don't need to download any of the music though and you definitely don't need to pay for it. For instance, do you like The Shins? Type them into the search bar and up will pop 7 of their albums including their recently released album "Port of Morrow" and lots of songs that were featured in soundtracks and other singles throughout the band history. This saves you gobs of money on buying music, I mean, who does that anyway?

Did I mention it's free? Of course they don't have every song/album ever made but they sure do have a lot. Plus you can choose to upgrade the program for $10 a month and get the app and play music instantly anywhere ad free...but thrifters like us should probably just be happy with the free program. It's pretty darn good.

Unfortunately, a Thrift World dedicated reader pointed out an unfortunate clause within the Spotfy agreement that is worth mentioning: "The Spotify Service can be accessed (i) as an ad-supported free-to-the-user service having no monthly cap on listening hours or a cap on number of plays of a unique track during the first 6 months following creation of your Spotify account but thereafter a cap of 10 listening hours per month and a cap of 5 plays per unique track," per their Terms and Conditions. So pure Spotify freedom only lasts 6 months...but who says you can't just delete your account and create another one? We'll just have to see!

Jan 4, 2012

New year: new spending habits

According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, the median household debt is estimated at more than $200,000. How did we get there? As it turns out, school loans and houses are quite expensive...but the third biggest reason for debt is credit card spending. We, as Americans, have a LOT of credit card debt.

When you're shopping, how much easier is to buy something if you whip out your plastic? A 2000 MIT study showed that people at an auction were willing to pay twice as much for something when they use a credit card instead of cash.

If you want to cut back on your spending in the new year, here's something to try. Use cash when you shop. Instead of making most of your purchases using your credit card or even your debit card, get your weekly budgeted money out in cash and put it in your wallet. 

There is something more real about handing over dollar bills and coins; you have a baseline for how much you have and how much you have left. With a credit card you are spending imaginary money that you can't see or even only lives in your card. It's easier to spend that imaginary money, so much so that we can easily forget that we don't even have it at all.

Just a note - this is my 100th Thrift World post! Thank you to all my readers for your eyes and support. And hey, don't be afraid to leave a comment every once in a while.  I know so many of you have thrifting tips of your own that could benefit many others, so if you have some, please share:)
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