Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shopping Addict

I admit...I love shopping, after all I'm a bit of a girly girl and enjoy the whole shopping experience. I also appreciate some of the "finer" things when it comes to shopping (like I'm the one with Coach and Dooney & Bourke and Guess bags, leather coats, an iPod, an SUV, etc etc etc) but I don't like to pay for them. Do I steal them? No, not quite; that is illegal after all. I just never pay full price for those things. There are some really smart ways to get the things that you want, at a discount (sometimes a deep one), and no one has to know -- unless you're like me and likes to say "OMG, I just got this great bag that's normally $100 for $20, how awesome is that!!"

For me, shopping on a budget can be really fun and a bit of a struggle all at the same time. It's fun when you find an awesome deal on something you want, and disappointing when you have to put something down that you want because it's out of your budget. But there are ways to get more of what you want out of your budget, without a lot of effort.

Sign up for email alerts If you have stores that you frequent a lot, check them out online and see if they have email alerts. Sometimes you can also sign up for periodic mailings where they will send discount cards in the mail that you present in-store for additional savings. Some of my favorites are New York & Company, Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, Macys and JC Penney. I get frequent emails and regular mailings from all the stores, plus you also get email "heads-up" about upcoming sales before then general public. Most stores you would find in a mall have an online store and have a place to sign-up for offers/updates.

Shop discount stores Now, I admit, I've gotten some great deals on random things at Walmart and Target, but these are not the discount stores I'm talking about. I mean stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, Kohls; even online stores like and These stores generally carry the same brands you can find at department stores, but at lower prices. About two months ago I found this style Dooney and Bourke bag at Marshalls for $89.00, and the bag retails for over $200. It's huge and I use it for my book bag for school.

Plus, these stores usually have Lay-A-Way options. If you're close to pay day, and not sure if you can swing the cost, but don't want to lose it; put it on layaway, which will hold it in store for 30 days. You usually have to put at least 10% down and there's a $1-5 layaway fee added to the cost of the merchandise, but it's a great way to pay out the merchandise before you take it home.

Clearance racks "But aren't clearance racks full of last years clothes?" Well yea, but you still wear "last years clothes" next year if they fit, right? It's the same concept here. Many times you'll find "last year's clothes" on the clearance rack, but sometimes you can also find things that are very current. They could be on there because the store is trying to make room for new merchandise or they could have been mis-marked (their loss is your gain in this one). Clearance racks are also a great place to find staples or layering pieces. I find a lot of regular t-shirts, jeans, work pants, etc on clearance racks. Even when it comes to accessories, you can find "costume" jewelery for $5 a lot of the time, and handbags and shoes, etc. Sears had a really great clearance sale a few months ago and I walked out with about $250 worth of clothes for abut $60.

Ebay Another awesome place to save some money on clothes, shoes, etc. Ebay is really good, especially if you are searching for something specific. You can also set search parameters for price, size, color, and even items that are brand new with tags still on them. Of course, with shopping online, you usually have a shipping charge, but depending on the item, it can still be less than buying it in the store. This is where I have gotten a Coach bag, a Dooney and Bourke, countless Guess bags, as well as two leather coats, and my J. Crew peacoat two years ago. This is a great place to look for that item you put back in the store because it was way out of your budget. On Ebay it might just be inside of your budget.

Consignment stores These do take a little searching to find, sometimes. You can usually do a google search of "Consignment store" and your zip code to find them in your area. These stores sell "second hand" (and sometimes items that were never used/worn - with original tags) items that are of good quality. The owners of these stores inspect the items before they are put out for sale, so there is nothing with holes or stains, or anything like that.

These are some of my tested and true methods of being able to shop without busting your budget. Does anyone have anything else they do that works for them?

A Magazine made for the Frugal Enthusiast

I know, you're thinking "Just what my house needs is more magazines!".

True, but this one pays for itself!

This is one of my favorites. Basically it's a magazine full of tips (and coupons!) on how to live well and save money. It has tips from where to shop for clothes, to saving money at the grocery store, even meals that are delicious and inexpensive to make.

In every issue there is anywhere from $50-110 in coupons. Some of them are high value ones that are specific to the magazine and wouldn't be able to find anywhere else if you tried.

You can only find this magazine in Wal-Mart's or online. In stores it costs about $2.49 an issue (which is a lot cheaper than the celebrity gossip rag you were gonna buy). If you look for it online, Amazon generally has the best deals on subscriptions, with the issue price being between $1.44-1.67. Once you've used two or three coupons in this magazine, it will have paid for itself.

Also, All You has an on-line component where you can find more deals, as well as online coupons, menu planners and on-line specific deals. Right now, they even have a deal where you can try 2 issues completely free to see if you like it.

If you're worried about it cluttering up your house, it doesn't stay around long enough in mine for it to be a problem. This is a magazine that I basically cut up every month. I cut the coupons out of it, and any articles/recipes (I keep a couple folders specifically for each designation) that I may want for later. Whatever I don't want just gets thrown away so it doesn't clutter the house.

Laundry Samples

You can try the new Purex Complete 3-in-1's that they have out here. These are great money savers because you just need the one sheet to wash and dry your clothes. Some have even stated that you can cut the sheet in half to double your value and it still washes just as effectively.

Allow up to 10 weeks for delivery. While supplies last.

Sam's Club also has a sample of the Bounce 4-in-1 Dryer sheets currently available. You do not have to be a member (it asks for membership number) in order to receive the sample.

Feminine Products Samples

Want to try some new products??


Many Feminine Protection products always have a way for you to give their products a try before you buy them, and many times they might even have a little trial package that allows you to sample several different products at one time.

Also, in many cases, when you've signed up for the sample not only will you get coupons for the products in the sample package, but you could also receive coupons in the email that you provided (use your deal email here) for future purchases.

Here are some current promotions:

Poise Pads : in this package you will receive a regular liner, a long liner, an ultra thin pad, plus a coupon - it doesn't say for which product is for, it could just be a general $$-off coupon for any Poise product.

Playtex Tampons : In here you receive 3 regular unscented tampons, plus you have the option to sign-up for Playtex emails for future product updates and coupon offers.

Kotex : They have the choice of three different sample packs so you can choose which is better for your needs:
Sample 1: 2 Regular Maxi Pads and 2 fresh and dry long liners
Sample 2: 1 Super Tampon, 2 Regular Tampons and 2 fresh and dry long liners
Sample 3: 2 Ultra Thin Pads with wings and 2 fresh and dry long liners
Kotex also, often, has coupons in the Sunday circulars so if you like their products, you can usually find them at Walmart or Target pretty cheap.

Always : They currently have a promotion to try their new Infinity pad and a different promotion to try their thin Flexi-style liners. Not sure if you have to choose which promo or if you can sign-up for both, but you can try. They also have a tool to do a product selector so you can choose which of their products would work best for you.

Tampax has a current promotion to try Tampax Pearl. You do have to register with P&G Everyday Solutions (they are the printers of one of the Sunday circulars), but it will send you emails about other deals and coupons as well, so it could be a good thing for those that are interested.

Stayfree often has free trials of different products, although they don't seem to have any at the moment. Currently they have a $1.00 coupon offer. They are someone to bookmark or sign-up for email alerts if you want to try their products.

Email tip

Many times deals require you to provide a valid email address in order to get them. Once you do that you have a tendency to get a bunch of junk email that you really didn't ask for/want.

To combat this, set up a separate email account for this specific purpose. Get a separate, free email from gmail or yahoo or hotmail and set aside specifically for deals/freebies. This way all of the spam stays there and out of your personal email. I usually keep my yahoo email for all my deals/freebies and I have a separate gmail one for the more important emails because gmail has a better spam filter than yahoo, in my opinion.

You can also do this for survey sites, so that your survey emails don't get lost among your other emails. I usually direct my survey emails to my yahoo account as well.

Making a new email might seem like a lot of effort just for this purpose, but the one time you accidentally delete an important email when you were clearing spam out of your inbox, you'll wish you had taken the 5-10 minutes to make another email address. (Yes, I've done it, and it sucks...a lot.)


I'm here, and I have a bit of a deal dump, which I'm going to get on as soon as I'm done this.

Also, I might be changing stuff up a bit, so if things look different that would be why. I'm planning on taking today and giving this place the attention it's been lacking over the past week or two.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I'm not ignoring, completely, I promise. School has brought me a mid-term from hell, so it took a little (or...a lot) of my attention this past week, and it's still not done yet.

I'll be back posting in the next day or so, I promise!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coupon Resources

The Sunday paper isn't the only place to find coupons for the things you buy.

*Check out online coupon clipping services - services like charge a small fee for handling and sorting of the coupons. It can be valuable for coupons you would use a lot of.

*Coupon Databases - There are some websites that dedicate themselves to keeping lists and links to coupons all over the web that are printable. Hot Coupon World has a good database. My personal favorite is the A Full Cup database.

*Ebay - Believe it or not, there are lots of coupons to be found on eBay. You can buy some coupons in bulk (like if you want Barilla pasta coupons, you can buy a stack of 10-20 of them for about $1), you can also buy auction lots of random coupons that have been clipped from newspapers. Most of the time, these lots do cost a couple of dollars, depending on how many coupons you are looking for but you make up the initial cost in savings at the grocery store checkout line.

*Manufacturer's websites - Often you can find coupons somewhere on the product website. Most of the time, these are unadvertised, so if you want them you have to go and look for them. It can take a little digging and footwork, but sometimes the websites have higher value coupons, which are worth a little extra effort.

*Printable Coupon Sites - The most well known resource are websites like Similarly, there is also and where you can print out coupons, similar to those you would find in the Sunday Circulars. Most of the time, you can print these coupons twice for double the savings.

As always with printed coupons, you might want to check with your store management before you get into line about their policy on internet coupons. These days, most stores will take them (despite what the cashier says), but there are stores that will either limit the amount you can use, or say they don't accept them at all. Most grocery chains do have their coupon policy on their website; sometimes it's in their FAQ section, or in a link of it's own. If a cashier tries to go against the store coupon policy by saying you can't use them, remain calm and polite and inform them of what you were told by management. Many times, in this instance, being nice will get you further than snapping back at the cashier.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Steals

A few little deals to grab this weekend.

Dishwasher water softener kit if you have problems with water spots and scaling on your dishes, it could be the hard water. This will let you test your water and see if that is the culprit.

Valid at JC Penney online ONLY use the code TEN4YOU to save $10 off of any purchase of $10 or more.

Poise Sample Kit comes with a couple samples of different pads, as well as a coupon.

P&G Brand Saver has a magazine called Rouge that you can request for free. P&G is the coupon book in the Sunday paper where you can get a lot of hair, face product and cleaning product coupons from. The Rouge magazine has has beauty and cleaning tips in it, but it is also loaded with more coupons that you can use!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Freebies!

*Fekkai Hair Care Glossing Cream Sample. Will take up to 4 weeks to arrive.

*Aveeno Hair Care Samples

*Free Cream of Wheat sample.

*Sample of Emergen-C. Fill out the short survey and it should take you to a confirmation page.

*Free Address Labels All you have to pay for is shipping (starts at $3.79) if you choose one of their current free label designs. There should be a link in the top left hand side for the labels. You can also upload your own image for $1.49 more.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bath and Body Works President's Day Sale

Bath and Body Works is having a President's Day Sale. All prices are effective through Monday.

*Buy 3 Get 3 Free of B&BW Signature Collection. This is great for any upcoming birthdays, Valentines Day, or even to save it for Mother's Day.

*Buy 1 Get 1 Free Wallflowers starters and refill kits.

*5 for $5 Anti-bacterial PocketBac hand sanitizers. Regularly $1.50 each.

Prices are valid in store as well as online.

Want to try Excedrin for free?

If you fill out a short survey on the Excedrin website, you'll get one of two coupons.

If you HAVE NOT used Excedrin in the past 12 months you will get a coupon for a free bottle of Excedrin(up to a $5.99 value).
If you HAVE used Excedrin, you will get a coupon for $2 off any bottle.
Take the survey here.

Barnes & Noble is having a Winter Sale Spectacular. 45% of Cookbooks, Craft Books, Activity Kits, Games, TV Series Box Sets, etc. Everyone receives the sale price whether they are a B&N rewards member or not. Sale ends 2/15.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Centsable Momma has a good post about $10 DVD's that are available only on You can get some great DVD's for the whole family!
Being stuck in the house during the second blizzard in a week can make a person crazy - like me. Only plus side is I'm getting in on a lot of freebies that I might have missed if I was, ya know, working..grrr (sorry, only slightly bitter about all the snow).

Sweet Libertine Mineral Cosmetics Free Sample Program
Provide your email and address, they will send you a sample of two mineral eyeshadows (random colors). Due to popular demand it will take 6-12 weeks for delivery. Mineral make-up is all I wear, so this could be nice to try something new.

Youth Eye Complex by iS Clinical
Limited quantities available. 6-8 weeks for delivery

Full Size Aveeno Sample!
This is a full size of Aveeno's new Stress Relief Lotion. There were some issues with the link working. Once you hit submit, you may need to hit refresh a few times for it to go through and be fully submitted.

Support the ASPCA Wristband

Tuesday, February 9, 2010



My name is Stephanie and I'm 23 years old, and I want to welcome you to my new blog.

As a little background; I currently live (born and raised, actually) in Baltimore, MD, and still live at home with my mother and my 28 year old brother (who was born with Down Syndrome and also later diagnosed as autistic, as well).  I am a Graduate Student at Loyola University, pursuing my M.Ed in School Counseling.  Being in graduate school doesn't always leave a lot of wiggle room in my budget, which is partly why I still live with my mother (the other reason is to help care for my brother).  Given the momentous cost of school (not to mention car payment/insurance, credit card bills, etc) I've been trying to live the frugal life while still enjoying my life.  I've had a lot of success with it so far, and I actually find it fun to see how much I can get for how little.  It's become like a game, that's sometimes more fun than shopping itself (which my bank account appreciates).  

As time has gone on, I have friends coming up to me asking me how to get deals on certain things, or how to use coupons, etc.  In fact, my own mother won't even go to the grocery store anymore.  She has me do the shopping for the whole house now when it comes to groceries, household cleaners, toiletries, etc because she figures I'll have a coupon for it or be able to get it cheaper than she would.  I managed to bring our our grocery bill down from about $150/weekly for three adults down to about $60/week.  She even tells me, she'll go to Target, see a bottle of shampoo (or whatever) she wants and won't pick it up, because she figures I can probably get it for less elsewhere or with a coupon. 

I do work, two jobs, in fact.  Given the status of the economy, I have many friends my age that have multiple jobs in order to make ends meet.  That being said, I'm not starting this blog as a way to make money.  I'm starting it, because I find so many deals and tricks throughout the day and throughout my perusing of the web that I want to share it with others, and maybe learn some new tricks myself.  You can never know too much when it comes to saving money, I believe. 

I'm not your typical frugal blogger, in that, I don't have children or a husband to speak of. But, I am your typical blogger, in that, I get super excited over an awesome deal (like I get ridiculously excited when I see my grocery store receipt and see how much money I DIDN'T spend).  I believe that there is very little in life that you have to pay full price for...and there IS very little I pay full price for.  Despite this, I still consider myself a newbie to the frugal arena.  Hopefully this blog can be helpful to others, and I can get some new insight on things along the way, as well.

So as you read this, I hope you enjoy, and maybe get a few deals or tricks that you can use for yourself.  Pardon any bumps that may occur as I am new to this and I'm learning as I go along.  Anyone with suggestions, I am open to hearing them!