Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saving for Internet Shopping!

If you're as busy as I am, or you don't have easy access to going shopping, or if you're stuck behind a computer most of the time, you might like internet shopping. And there are great deals out there on the world wide web, but don't you hate that you have to calculate in shipping costs??? I DO!

I'd been informed of this great website, www.freeshipping.org, recently.

This FREE site (you don't even have to register, yes!) gives you codes for free shipping coupons to over 850 stores, including JCPenney, Kohl's, Macy's, Dell and Gap! It also tells you when an internet store has a free shipping special. It's well organized, easy to navigate. You can locate free shipping coupons by store name, category, soon to expire and most recent free shipping coupons. And a cute little bonus is, this site is run by a husband and wife team of Luke and Maisie Knowles. Let's support small sites who help people save munnies.

~Jenny Bunns!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Frugal Holiday Shopping

image from www.petafoo.com

What a tough year, eh?

I found a good article from Mr Cheap Stuff that'd be a good start to Frugal Holiday Shopping. Click below!

Mr. Cheap Stuff's 15 Ways To Spend Less On Holiday Shopping

Okay, now a tip from the Frugal Bunny herself. As always, this is just what's worked for me - this should just be inspiration to think of what would work for you.

I'm grateful for those who've helped me through the year and my career, so I've made it a tradition (inspired my my tattoo shop alma mater's tradition) of sending holiday cards to, not only my beloved friends, but clients and anyone else who've helped me along my professional and personal life. This is the solution to reaching out: I make my own cards, a limited edition each year. You don't have to be an artist to do this. You can be crafty. If you're not crafty, there's always clip art :) The receiver will see the effort you've put into it, even if it's just stick figures, when they see that you've custom made your own cards, and made your own personal message. I either go to Kinko's to print, or if I hadn't procrastinated (ahem), I use Overnight Prints. They print my snazzy business cards, too.
Between the printing costs and postage, you've said "HAPPY HOLIDAYS! THANK YOU FOR BEING IN MY LIFE!" to everyone while not going terribly broke. Feel spread too thin? Don't feel guilty. It's tough times, everyone will (or should) understand. And however small a token, the whole point of gift-giving is just to let someone know they matter to you. And you do, my bunny friends :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Water Bill Went Down!

Well, I'll be a bunny's uncle.

Last month's water bill (as I groaned about in a previous entry, Water Conservation) was the highest I've ever had in the one and a half years I've lived in my house. Well, this month's water bill, I can happily say, was one of the lowest!

I'm sure there are a lot of factors going into why - no guests during last billing period... um... well, I think that's pretty much it. But I'd like to think that most of the reason why this month's water bill was so low is because those water conservation tips I've mentioned before ACTUALLY WORKS.

I wasn't a total stickler for each and every tip mentioned, but I did the best I could. The main thing is to always be aware of conservation, and it really does help to be rewarded with a low water bill! YAYYY!!!! :D

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Video Games Sucking Energy?

I happened upon this article about the worst culprits of energy sucking video game consoles. If you have any of these, try unplugging them when not in use. Annoying to do, I'm sure. But it might be worth the lower energy bills!

Energy Wasting Video Game Consoles

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Water Conservation

I got my water bill a week ago. It was twice as much as it was the month before. Granted - I have been home more, therefore having more time to cook (which requires water usage), and I DID host 3 extra people for a week, all of whom took showers every single day. But TWICE as much??? Really?? I'm not going to blame anyone or anything - it's time to take matters into my own hands. I have to be more ever more conscious about conserving water - not only to save money, but also to help the environment and my community. So I've compiled a list of things that could help conserve water. It's not that I have to do every single thing on this list, or that I feel that I have to completely change your lifestyle. I'm just going to keep the ones in mind that I know I can do, and slowly integrate it into my lifestyle. Once I get that lower water/sewer bill, I'll keep it up because you've reaped in the benefits in a concrete way.

*Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.
Actually, the cost of sewage is waaay more expensive than the actual water itself, according to City of Atlanta Dept of Watershed Management. So you might want to examine your own water bill, if you live outside my neighborhood. So this might actually be a good idea. Problem is - I don't wash dishes in a tub or anything. This one might take me some time to figure out how to do without having to consciously think about doing it.

Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.*Verify that your home is leak-free, because many homes have hidden water leaks.

Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year which will add to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or strain your septic system.
Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain tank.)

I just fixed a badly leaking toilet. It cost me a chunk, but at least I know it isn't wasting water, causing water damage to my walls or floors (which could cost 10 times more than the repair in the long run). It really is worth fixing leaks, however small.

*Speaking of toilets, create your own low-flow toilet by placing a half-gallon milk jug filled with water and putting it in the toilet tank.
I also put a teeny bit of bleach in the milk jug full of water, to prevent algae and what-not from growing. One should probably replace the water once in a while - but replace it with used water!!!!!

*Take shorter AND fewer showers. Replace you showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
When it comes to showers - I'm all business. Get in, wash, rinse, get out. I've also replaced the showerhead with a water-saving unit I got at www.waterpikecoflow.com. Singing in the shower's great - just pick a short song, to abridge your shower routine!
Also, during the colder months, I tend to shower every other day, as opposed to every single day. Unless one sweats profusely or partakes in hard physical activity every day or shovels poop (sorry for speaking so frankly), showering every other day can actually be ideal. THe natural oils on your hair protects it from damage and can help keep it shiny and soft.

Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
I had a couple of roommates in my life who put everything and anything in the toilet and flushed it down. Hair, q-tips, tissues, etc. Eventually it clogged up the toilet and we had to get a plumber to fix it. BAD roommates, bad! This is what a trash can in the bathroom is for!

Don't let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.

Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using. Also, if the season/weather is okay for this, line dry your laundry.
I never saw the point of washing A blanket, or A pair of pants. I guess it's the anal retentiveness of my conservationalist personality that really irked me about people who do that. I also had an ex who, instead of ironing his clothes or pulling his clothes out of the dryer and folding/hanging them up right away, every morning he'd put his outfit for the day in the dryer and dry it for 30 minutes. OMG. HORRIBLE. I'm getting hives just thinking about that.

When washing dishes by hand, quickly splash some water over the pile of dishes. Wet the soapy sponge, and scrub/soap up all the dishes in one sink or basin. Then, quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
I remember this is how my parents washed dishes when I was a kid. I was re-introduced to this easy and quick method of dishwashing from my Spanish friend, Lara. Leave it to the Europeans - they really know how to unclutter and live a more minimal lifestyle.

Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.
Or if you can get used to room temperature water, then you don't even have to worry about this step!

Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mr. Cheap Stuff's Energy Saving Tips!

This is a great article that Dean (Mr. Cheap Stuff) wrote:


Friday, October 10, 2008

A Money Disorder??

Ah, how I love intelligent friends and their Deliciouses (thanks Jonathan). I found this article from Heather M - it's about "money disorders". What is that? Well, I'll let you read the full article if you're interested, because if I told you, it'd negate the whole reason for posting a link to it. Also... I get paranoid about copying someone else's work. Oh, and because I'm lazy.


Anyway, this article reminded me of my friend/financial planner's money group. It's just a small group of pals who talk to each other confidentially, of course, about money issues and how to deal with them practically and even mentally. The meeting I was able to attend had everyone share their own story about how they came to have their attitudes toward money. My own - well, without going into gruesome detail...

My mother was a spender, my father was stingy. Both had clever ways of saving money, though they both saved for very different reasons. My mom saved so she could spend it on lots and lots of things, some of them big purchases. My dad saved in case of emergencies, or for helping his children pay for their educations. I don't mean to make my mom seem like a bad parent - a lot of things she bought was for us kids, too. She also helped me set up my first mutual fund when I was 16. Anyway, when I was very young, my primary caretaker was my mother. Up until they separated and divorced when I was 11-12, and from then on my primary caretaker was my father. Because my upbringing was split up, I've noticed, as an adult, that I've taken traits from both parents (as most people do in this situation).

The more responsibilities I got, the less I bought "things". I had no desire to purchase trinkets, leisurely items such as books, CDs, DVDs, accessories, etc., a trait I'd picked up from my dad. I started saving as much as I could (something they both do), for rainy days or large purchases, such as a laptop or remodeling parts of my home, justifying it - and rightly so for the most part - as an "investment", a largely "mom" trait. I don't really suffer from "buyer's remorse" as much as I suffer from "OMG, what if my car breaks down or I break my leg and I can't pay for it because I bought this important, but not THAT important, item?" - a reactionary trait my father inadvertently cursed me with. When I go out with friends or with Jason, I spend money freely, because I want everyone to have a good time and not to worry about silly things like money - that's my mom talking. But then again, I also hate spending on myself, and when alone I eat gross combinations of victuals because I don't want to spend the money going to the grocery store - that's my dad. This is the dichotomy within myself.

I, too, suffer from - perhaps not as severe as a "disorder" - but I certainly suffer from money-related issues stemming from my upbringing. I can't blame my parents for my financial stresses, though. They've taught me the valuable lesson of saving money, investing it in long-term funds, spending only on essentials and investments but also splurging responsibly - and most of all, they taught me the value of money and the correlation that goes with hard work and perseverance. People are also influenced by their environment and the people around them.

I just want you to think about where you came from, and why you do the thing you do. Sometimes knowing where you come from can help you find the root of problems - and triumphs - you may be struggling with pertaining to your financial habits. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Frugal Modern Home Interior Painting 101

With the immense help from my darling Jason, I've FINALLY started doing something with it. After a year and a half of financial ups and downs (mostly downs, and the ups were more like "uphill battles") and having an absorbingly hectic schedule, I've finally gotten to a point in my career where I have more time to pay attention to my home - my abode, my sanctum sanctorum. It's a little overwhelming to think about all the plans I'd like to do to the house, so I have to slow down and just take one thing at a time. But knowing myself, it'd be more like 2-3 things at a time.

I wanted to share with you my experiences with this because between coming to the slow season for my business, the economy, the gas crisis - a girl like me has no choice but to be frugal about her home investments. My friend, Heather M. posted this NYTimes article on her Delicious account about becoming inspired by the frugal, yet creative mentality of many college students. I LOVE stuff like this - taking found objects and turning them into cool, creative, and functional household furnishings/items. ReadyMade Magazine is also one of my favorites, its namesake inspired by one of the masters of modern art, Marcel Duchamp and his avant-garde "readymades". But I digress.

Let's start with one of my first goals: PAINTING (interior)

I used to do murals here and there before I became a tattoo artist, so I've learned a few tricks that I was excited to utilize again. First, choose general color schemes. For example, I wanted the hallway to have a terra cotta kind of feel to it. I want the bathroom to have spearminty greens on the walls and inside the cabinets. Now that I know what colors I want, off we go to Lowe's and Home Depot in search of good quality paints - but for less than half the price.

HOW?!!! If you're adventurous (I'd say "like me", but I would NEVER go bungy jumping), you'd go to the "OOPS PAINT" section. This is my favorite shelf of the paint section.
oops paint n. house paint sold at a discount because it is deemed of unsatisfactory or wrong color, has been returned by a previous customer, or was specially mixed but never sold.
Oops Paint is usually sold for $5-7 a gallon at Home Depot, and $7-12 at Lowe's. But most of them are good quality paint brands, they were just orphaned. Even when I'm not looking for paint, anytime I go to those stores, I'd take a glance at the Oops Paint shelf. If I see a color that has potential, I'll snag it. If it's not the EXACT color you want, it's no big deal. You can mix paints! Do you remember what your art teacher taught you about the color wheel? Okay, so not all of you did.

But here's a good general rule of thumb, even for the most inexperienced:

*When choosing Oops Paint, try to choose a color of the same HUE as the color you want. For example, my hallway paint is to have terra cotta colors, which is like an earthy orange tone. I found a paint called "ginger", which was way too dark for what I wanted, but it was the HUE I wanted. It was muted like a plant pot, not bright and saturated like a creamsicle. So all I had to do was buy a can of white paint to lighten it to my liking.

*Better the Oops Paint be too dark than too light. Dark paints can always be lighten little by little by white paint. Light paints are harder to darken, unless you have a good grasp on the color wheel AND how paints mix with other kinds of colors.

*Make sure the paints have the kind of finish you want. If your Oops Paint is a matte finish, but you want an eggshell, then lighten your paint with a white with an eggshell finish or even a step above that - a satin finish, to compensate for the matte.

*If you want to do more than one color in a room, make sure you do some sample painting. Pick a small section of wall and paint an even coat of each color right next to eachother so that there's no space in between them. Colors may "look" different when juxtaposed with other colors. So make sure you have an idea of how they'll look together.

This may seem like a dangerous chemistry/art project - and it certainly can be a trial and error process. But if you have the mentality that anything can happen, and just freaking go with it kind of attitude, this can actually be really fun! And once you're done painting, you can tell people "I custom mix all my paintwork". That really gets them impressed. And it's even more fun when you've only spent $15 worth of designer brand paint on your new hallway.

For paint equipment, like rollers, dropcloths, etc. I've found the best place to go are places like Big Lots. The quality is just as good as at Home Depot or Lowe's, but cheaper. Use the plastic dropcloths over and over again. Rollers are re-usable, you just have to replace the actual roller covers. Buy a paint tray (or 2 or 3, depending on how many colors you're using in one session), and then buy paint tray liners. You can get 10 for just a few bucks. The liners are disposable, and you've still got paint trays to last and last. Paintbrushes can be re-used, as long as you clean them thoroughly with mild soap and warm water. If you take care of your equipment, they can last a long time.

(note: the blurry thing of brown and white is my dog, Millhouse)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vampire Energy!

Jason sent me this link about Vampire Energy - energy spent on items in your home that are plugged in, even though not in use. This article shows how much energy is used annually, to give you an idea of how much it is included in your electric bill. It'll take me a while to get used to unplugging various items in my home and at work! It might be that much money, but it DOES add up AND it's not good for the environment. Any little bit helps!

CLICK HERE for the article on Vampire Energy!

Thanks, Hunny Bunny! :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The "Bailout"

I wanted to share with you an article that my financial planner sent to me. It's really important for us to put things in perspective when all this sensationalist news is coming out about our economy. It's bad, but it's not that bad. DON'T PANIC. If we do, things will get that bad, because we feed into our own fears.

CLICK HERE for "Don't call it a Bailout"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a mad, mad max world (tips on SAVING GAS!).

Sometimes I procrastinate on refilling my gas tank, so when I get close to the 'E', I start hypermiling - a cost-efficient way of driving to save gas! It includes the use of coasting, slowing down on highways to that "sweet spot" of 55 mph, the most fuel-efficient speed, accelerating slowly, etc. On my Honda Fit, it's gotten me pretty far in times of need- but now, because of the gas shortage in the Atlanta area, I'd made a permanent conscious effort to change the way I drive.

I've taken these steps in hypermiling from ehow, but I've edited some of them because some steps are actually kind of dangerous (like shutting of your car when you're driving, that's too crazy!)!

1. When you go above 38 mph in most cars, you lose mileage. For every 5 mph above 55, you can lose as much as 10 percent of your fuel economy. So slowing down can save you gas. Drive the speed limit.

Driving without brakes or in hypermiling lingo,d.w.b. is all about coasting. You need to maintain a constant speed and not let it get ahead of you when you are driving in traffic, so that when traffic starts to slow back down you'll catch up. This can be tricky as in a lot of cases when ever you allow distance between you and another car, another car will take advantage of it and cut in front of you.

Do it when possible -- but be careful.

Avoid big hills and stop-and-go traffic by trying different route because a longer route may have better driving conditions and less traffic which uses less gas. Also, changing your work schedule 30 minutes to half an hour can mean less traffic. Try working out at a gym next to your job and then driving home. Test different routes to see which is the smoothest ride.

Scheduled oil changes result in better fuel economy because as the oil gets older thus thicker it is harder to push through the engine.

Traffic lights are the biggest cause of you using gas while idling. If you see a red light in front of you, take your foot off the gas and let your car coast up to it. Hypermilers practice riding the "waves and jams" caused by congestion to minimize time accelerating, decelerating, and sitting stopped. When you can turn off your car, like when you are waiting to pick up someone, or in your car in line, like at the bank or drive through, turn off your engine to save gas.

Accelerate slowly. The longer you take to achieve a speed, the less fuel it will require to get there. In many cars, using cruise control to slowly approach the desired speed will help regulate accelerations. A rule of thumb is to press down the accelerator an inch at a time.

Using cruise control on the highway, though, really does have a noticeable effect on fuel economy. In Edmunds.com's test using a Land Rover LR3 and a Ford Mustang, the Land Rover got almost 14 percent better mileage using cruise control set at 70 miles per hour rather than cruising at driver-controlled speeds between 65 and 75 miles per hour. The Mustang got 4.5 percent better mileage.

Using cruise control cuts down on unnecessary speed changes which can eat up gas and it prevents "speed creep." the tendency for a driver's average speed to gradually increase with time spent on the road.

If you want the biggest gain in fuel mileage, you need to lay off the pedals when driving around town. Accelerating more slowly away from green lights and stopping more gradually for red lights cut fuel consumption in Edmunds.com's tests by 35.4 percent for the Land Rover and 27.1 percent for the Mustang.

Slamming down the gas pedal pushes more fuel into the engine while it also keeps the engine running faster.

Tips & Warnings

Tests have proven that turning off your air conditioner or inflating your tires has little effect on saving gas.

Say your car gets about 22 miles per gallon. By adopting a laid-back driving style you should soon realize 30 percent more in fuel mileage, which means an increase to about 30 miles per gallon

To learn more about hypermiling, click here for more resources and articles. Happy fuel-efficient driving!

~Jenny Bunns

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Economic Fall-out? DON'T PANIC!

The economy is crashing. You can't get a loan for anything anymore. The US dollar is weak. Job security is teetering. Omg, what are we going to do???

I say... do what we've BEEN doing (that is, if you've already been practicing frugal habits AND saving your extra moolah into savings accounts and/or mutual funds, etc).

The other day, my dad made his weekly phone call to me and suggested that I cash out my mutual funds. I totally understand where he was coming from. Things seem hopeless (almost). The market's way down, let's just panic and cash out and stow our munnies into our mattresses instead!

But let me tell you something. It's a REALLY simple concept that everyone should know, especially young people. When you invest in mutual funds, and the market gets really low - it's actually the best time to put more money into those funds! How is this possible? Well... think of it as a sale. WHen the market is low, shares are priced low. So you buy more shares for your money. THEN, when the market recovers again and makes a rise, your shares blow up, when you bought a whole bunch of them when they were "on sale"! I am no financial expert, so I will say no more. I just wanted to throw this out to you. If you need more information on this, please contact your friendly neighborhood financial planner. I, of course, recommend my own planner (who is the most socially responsible and genuinely caring money person ever!), Ellen Coleman of the Oak Tree Group. If you want her contact info, shoot me an email or comment and I'll give it to you.

Um... okay, I think that's it for now. I'll be writing more about these rough times we're having when I get more moments to do so! (me busy! eeps!)

ps- I'll also be giving more tips on being frugal and saving munnies so that you CAN benefit in the long run with these mutual fund investments :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Free Software tips!

I got this email from my Skinwerks family member, Scotty Padget - graphic designer extraordinaire!

I get a lot of tips/tricks from friends who do nothing but test / search / and use free software’s across the net for different purposes. So I thought I would pass some of the latest versions your way.

AVG - www.grisoft.com

(free light weight antivirus protection, uses very little memory, # 1 download)

Syncplicity - www.syncplicity.com

(Online Data Backup, It’s really good when you have 2 or more computers that you have all the same files on, ex – laptop vs desktop)

Monday, September 1, 2008


Several months ago, I was at Target, with my roommate, Jonathan. I needed laundry soap. I only do laundry once every other week to a) save water and b) my clothes are small. Needless to say, I don't often need to buy laundry soap. Anyhoo... I was standing at the laundry soap aisle for what seemed like an eternity, while Jonathan stood there patiently for me to decide on what kind to use. I was baffled. There are SO many choices, now. AND they're super expensive! Did I just go through a time-warp??? Geez!

Shortly after I finally decided on something (only because I needed to not spend my life at the laundry soap aisle and get on with it), I received an email from an old friend of mine from my hometown of Rochester, MN. She directed me to this website about how to make your own laundry soap! My friend said that, at first it seems painstaking, to find all these ingredients. But they're easier found than one would think. And once you do a batch - you really don't need to do it for a LONG LONG time. My friend calculated that (she has two children and owns two daycares, so she goes through a lot of laundry!) she saves over $300 a year on laundry soap alone! For us non-daycare-owning people, we'd still save a good bit. It's also GREEN! It's natural and hypoallergenic, biodegradable, so it's easy on the earth and our skin, too. My friend says it makes her clothes surprisingly clean AND cleaning smelling!

Here's a link for making your own dish soap, too.

ALSO... and this is something that I do now, after an experiment with foaming hand soap dispensers...
You can save tons on liquid hand soap by getting those foaming hand soap dispensers (like Dial Complete). Instead of buying the refills of soap that's made specially for those kinds of dispensers, you can get a refill of regular hand soap. When refilling your little dispenser, pour one tablespoon of REGULAR hand soap in the bottle, and fill the rest with WARM water. Shake well. Viola! That's all you need! This will last you a very long time, and save you a few bucks! :)

Happy sudsing! :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

My friend, Jenn.

I wanted to repost this comment my friend, Jenn, made on my myspace. It's funny, because I was just paying my end of the month bills last night and thought of something I did that I could post on here.... which Jenn also mentions - when balancing my checkbook, I round up. I started this when an ex's grandmother's furnace went kablooey. She was able to pay for a brand new one (that's about two grand!) with all the little change she accumulated in her checking account by doing this. Awesome. Anyhoo, without further ado, I now repost Jenn's comment!

I hope you don't mind that I comment here instead of on Google.. I don't have a Google account and already have more user names and passwords than I have toes and fingers...Your blog is full of good information!! You are welcome to use any of this info on future frugal bunny blogs, if you would like...

For those who aren't ready to open all those accounts, there is also the change-saving method.. pay with paper money, do NOT give a cashier coins from your pocket or the bottom of your purse. EVERY DAY, take ALL the pocket change that has collected and dump it into a box or a jar that you won't be tempted to open (glue it shut if you have to). As often as you can, toss in some paper money too.. all the single dollars, or a ten/twenty once in a while.. this cash adds up SO fast, in a few short months you might have $300 (I have done this a few times in my life)

Hell you can even do that method by putting the money in the jar instead of making that daily Starbucks run, or that pack of cigarettes (helps you quit too lol), magazines or anything like that .. items that only cost a couple bucks, so we don't mind buying, when really we can buy a can of coffee and make our own for a fraction of the cost, or read the magazine online, etc. Small purchases are typically a HUGE portion of spent money; usually it results in thoughts like, "Where did all my money go?"

Also, if you are one to balance your checkbook, always round up.. if you spend $23.39 at the grocery store, note it in your bank register as $24.00 or even $25.00. These few pennies also add up fast and provide a cushion to your account.. no more worries about bouncing a check.

The cash method is especially great for saving if you are in a position where you earn tips. bank round up better when you have direct deposit.

Also, if there are special purchases that you want to make, simple pleasures or even daily necessities, try to hit a sale with a friend and split the cost on BOGO's or bulk items.. For instance, where I work, we're doing a Buy Three, Get Two Free sale.. well this will save a person about $20, but means they have to spend about $30. For customers who KNOW they would be buying the item next month at full price, it benefits them to buy it all now.. no reason friends can't go in on this sale together and each spend $10 or $20 for twice the amount of product.

A lot of people don't realise how much money goes into the simple packaging that something comes in.. for instance, individually portioned or wrapped foods for the single person are astronomically more expensive than a family pack of the same item. This is what freezers are for lol

ok those are just a few off the top suggestions that can certainly be written more effectively, just thought I'd throw in my few cents on the matter. It's funny.. or sad.. how many people don't realise how much they spend on crap they really don't need.. I have a friend who buys every DVD she sees on sale. The infamous ol' "oh It was only five bucks!!!" Three months later I ask, so how was that movie (knowing it was terrible), and hearing the response "oh, we haven't watched that yet".. This friend has over 300 DVDs.. most of them have not been watched, but they were all on sale for cheap.. to me, that's at least $2,500.00 collectively that were wasted on stuff that now clutters the home, and required spending more money on shelving to put them on, etc.. Personally, I will only buy a DVD if it is a movie I KNOW I will watch several times over, and let my friends borrow, so it gets used enough to make the cost worth it.

sorry to write a whole blog in your blog comments =(

Jenn, don't be sorry! THANK YOU for your contribution! I heart my friends! :D

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

10 No-Budget Budget Tips from the Frugal Bunny!

I don't have a budget. I've tried a few times, but it feels to hindering and I never follow through on it after a while. But knowing my own personality, I do things to help me save money, and then save money. This may not work for everyone, but hopefully this will help people with a similar personality as I do, and/or inspire others to look into their own personality and develop their own little frugal tricks!

NOTE: Because of my career as an independent contractor (I'm a tattoo artist), I have to handle my money a little differently than most people, so some of my habits have evolved through that. BUT I hope it still inspires others to make their own system...

1. No matter what, I always put 20% of my weekly paycheck into my savings account. No exceptions.
I developed this habit when I came out of my apprenticeship and became a full-blown professional tattoo artist (independent contractor). For the moment, I pay my taxes all at once, once a year. Most of you have the convenience of your tax money taken out of your paycheck for you. Because I don't have that luxury, I had to take care of it on my own, so I made this system. That way, when tax season comes, I won't be worried about having to fork out a huge chunk of money and not having it! After paying taxes, whatever I have left over, I split into 3 categories - fun money (a reward for 12 months of disciplined savings), Roth IRA money, and money to just keep in my savings account.

2. Open an Orange Account with ING Direct.
Speaking of savings, this is something I JUST started. This gem of advice was given to me last week, by my friend/financial advisor/client, Ellen Coleman from Resource Horizons. This is a convenient way to put your savings into an account with a much higher interest rate. Right now, ING Direct's APR is at 3%. My bank only gives my like 0.01%. I earn about a dollar and some small change per month at the bank, while at ING, I earn about $16. That's a big difference, yo! So if you're going to sit on your money, you might as well earn a little more than what your stingy bank gives you, right? Check it out!

3. Open a Roth IRA.
Again, because of my job, I don't get a 401K like most people. I have to handle all that by myself. So for now, I figured a Roth IRA would be a good start to insuring my retirement will not put me into a cardboard box on the street. Depending on which kind you choose (let your friendly neighborhood financial advisor explain things and help you choose the kind that best fits your lifestyle), they can be tax-free or tax-deductible. Roth IRAs are less risky than playing stocks and bonds, and are the best kind for long-term savings/investments. I encourage all people, but especially young people, to open one.

4. Write down your monthly bills.
You'll see a pattern of seasonal ups and downs, and will help you prepare for what you need to fork out each month on essentials - like mortgage, utilities, cell phone bills, etc. Knowing what you need to pay for at what times of the year will help you lay out the rest of that no-budget budget. I also right down my weekly earnings, since it fluctuates seasonally in my kind of job. This also helps me lay out the my no-budget budget.

5.Give yourself a weekly allowance - and stick to it.
Each week when I get paid, I give myself an allowance in cash. This is money I use for the week (mainly my days off) for groceries and leisure activities. If there's something I need to buy, like a ladder or toilet paper, I also keep that in mind when I give myself the allowance. Anything left over from a usual week, I put the cash away for when I need to buy that ladder or toilet paper. I call this microsaving.

6.Only use a credit card if you know you can pay it off in X amount of time.
I use a credit card for when I purchase supplies for work, when I travel, or buy big things, like computer software. All these things I write off in my taxes, too. Anyway, only use it when I know I can pay it off when the bill comes in IN FULL. For larger purchases, I tell myself to pay it off in x amount of months, as a goal. This way, I won't get into credit card trouble! You must know yourself enough to do this. You have to be able to keep your own promises to yourself. If you can't trust yourself, who can you trust?

7.Save your receipts!
Again, because I'm an independent contractor, I get to do business write-offs. Do some research and see what you can write off. And then DO IT! If you have lunch with a friend or a group, and you talk about your business once, it's a tax write-off. If there's a pair of jeans you only wear to work because you know you'll get ink stains on them, it's a tax write-off (as work uniform). If you get that Wacom tablet you've always wanted so you can use it make more artwork, it's a tax write-off. If you fly somewhere to do a guest spot at tattoo studio, your plane ticket and other expenses are a tax write-off. If you buy white-out, it's a tax write-off. Your mileage to work or work-related places is a tax write-off. That album you bought from iTunes, so you can listen to it at work - it's a tax write-off. Okay, so these examples are from my own job. But you get the drift - the amount of time and effort you take to find out what YOU can write off is worth every penny you save on taxes!!!!!

8.Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Spread your money out. That way, if one fund runs out for whatever reason, you have a backup or two or three. For example, I've kept my bank accounts from Minnesota, and I put a little in there for safe-keeping and emergencies. My main bank account here in Georgia, is the one I use to pay my mortgage and bills. Then I've got my ING account, my Roth account, a safe deposit box full of cash for other emergencies and/or savings goals for things I want, and my weekly allowance. Yes, it seems like I'm spreading myself too thin. But with patience and discipline, I do eventually get the things I want, and I can pay it in full, instead of going into debt like most Americans do.

9.Live Well Within - If Not Below - Your Means.
Too many Americans don't do this, which is why we're in such financial debt. If you live simply and cost-efficiently, you can still have style and comfort without having that debt. I hate seeing people who have these crazy expensive cars, but only have like two dollars in their bank accounts. They are living BEYOND their means, and are in horrible debt - all for what? To look cool? To impress the ladies? It's not worth it to me! I don't like buying STUFF. In fact, the less stuff I have, the more mentally happy I feel. I often go through my crap and always find things to give to Goodwill (ooh, another great tax write-off!). When digital TV starts next year and my rabbit ears will be useless, I'm going to throw out (okay, give to Goodwill) my television. When I have less clutter in my home or work station, it makes me feel like there's less clutter in my mind, too. And when there's something I want, I save up for it so I can buy it without debt. Yes, it takes time, but the rewards are worth it in the end. The simple life is a happy life.

10.To Save Money, Give It Away.
Yes, I said that right. Giving to charities and non-profit organizations is a tax write-off. To go even further, you can volunteer, and your travel/commuting expenses can be written off, as well! The more you give to the causes you believe in, the less money you have to give to Uncle Sam. So you not only save money on taxes, and not only do you feel good giving to good causes, but you also are empowered by the fact that you're taking control over your world and helping shape your community.

~Jenny Bunns!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Whole Foods Budget Shopping

Whole Foods is trying to wipe away their "whole paycheck" reputation by giving special tours of the store, highlighting cost cutting solutions to those who are on a budget, but want to live healthy. Click here for the original article.

Whole Foods tries to shake 'whole paycheck' image with free value tours
Friday, August 8th 2008, 4:00 AM

Allison Smith leads budget-minded shoppers on 'value tours' of the Union Square Whole Foods to point out smart shopping techniques.

Bold yellow signs indicate sale items, like these raspberries.
Think Whole Foods means whole paycheck? The national supermarket chain wants to change your mind.
Faced with rising food prices and a national recession, Whole Foods has launched free value tours, leading groups of bargain hunters through the aisles of natural, sustainable and organically made goods.
"It's the economy," says Whole Foods' Allison Smith, who leads the tours for the Union Square store, "everybody's looking for a deal now."
Just a few weeks old, they take place mainly at suburban stores, says Smith, but the three she's led at Union Square have been well-attended. (To sign up, call any store or look for notices on their bulletin boards at the entrance.)
While Smith's ultimate goal is to change our perception that the store has high prices — some Whole Fooders float the theory that "whole paycheck" is from someone wishing they could spend their earnings at the store — there are real take-away tips from the exercise.
The tours move their way through Whole Foods like any shopper would, highlighting great buys along the way. There's the bulk bins at the newest Tribeca store, where their fanciest granola mix is $2.99 a pound. Or the fact that Earthbound Farm organic bagged lettuces are always same price or cheaper than any other supermarket, says Smith, because "we just buy so much of it."
Other Whole Foods' deals include their house line of 365 shampoos and conditioners (16 ounces for $1.99; 32 ounces for $3.79). There's their Whole Catch line of frozen prepared foods ($3.99 for a 10 ounce box of fish sticks) or their fresh, 6-ounce individually portioned filets of fish for roughly the same size per pound as bigger cuts, nice for one or two people.
For all proteins — like chicken, beef, pork or fish — there's a case of family-sized "value packs" that are at least a $1 per pound less. And for literally any dry good item in the store — meaning everything from diapers to spaghetti sauce to bottled water to energy bars — you can get a 5% discount if you buy it by the case.
Beyond these specific deals, however, the tours are also designed to highlight overall strategies for cutting costs on your bill.
That's reading and shopping from the weekly sales flyers, shopping seasonally for produce, buying in bulk to cut waste and save per pound and using store brands, which are just as great quality.
These are the ideas, says Smith, to keep in mind where ever it is you're shopping. And with any luck, there'll be plenty of your paycheck left over.
Allison Smith's Whole Foods Bargain Hunting Techniques:
USE WEEKLY SALES FLYERS: Like most other markets, says Whole Foods' value tour guide Allison Smith, the store puts out its new yellow weekly sales sheet on Wednesdays, marking each sales item in the store with a large yellow sale sign. So once you learn what tags are used for sales at markets, you can easily scan the store for deals.
SHOP SEASONALLY: "In produce," says Smith, "the really big thing to look for is seasonally and locally." When you buy local food some of the transportation costs have been cut out, she says, and when you buy what's in season, there's more of it, meaning the price goes down.
BUY STORE BRANDS: Many house brand items are just as good as brand names, and some stores even contract with the same people who make brand name products to create their versions. They're often much cheaper than sales items or even post-coupon prices.
BUY IN BULK: If you can buy just the amount you need from bulk bins, says Smith, food won't go to waste and you'll save on packaging costs. Or if you can buy in larger quantities, you'll save on cost per pound or unit, too.
CONSIDER COUPONS: Many times store brands are cheaper than items bought with a coupon, but you should still check out weekly newspaper circulars and mailings for brands you buy regularly.

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