“Keep The Change”

 

coins-01

All great things are only a number of small things that have carefully been collected together.

I am a BIG believer in the philosophy that: every little bit counts. This guiding principle can be relevant to a potpourri of life topics, but today I will be discussing its relationship to the humble coin. I think it can sometimes be easy to overlook the significance of spare change, but those nickels and dimes can really add up. The average U.S. household has about $90 in loose coins lying around the house, according to Coinstar, a prominent company in the coin-counting kiosk business.

If you pooled together your coins instead of tossing them into wishing wells -or perhaps losing them between the sofa seat cushions- it might be possible to eat an extra meal out at a restaurant, or even add cash to your bank account. Here are some tips to consider if you want to make every coin count:

  1. Use a Coin Jar. If your spare change is banished to the bottom of your purse and various locations around your home dwelling, you’re hardly doing yourself any favors. To be able to use your money, you need to know where it is. {Seems simple enough} Set aside a designated “coin jar” or other convenient holding area in your home to collect the steady accumulation of nickels, dimes, pennies, and quarters.
  2. Collect. Make sure to amass the coins that are already hiding in the various recesses of your home. Start with the most obvious spots, such as purses and dresser drawers, and then move on to scavenging the laundry room, junk drawer, inside the automobile, and underneath the sofa seat cushions. Leave no stone unturned.
  3. Exchange Your Coins. You have two main choices when it comes to exchanging your coins: bringing them to the bank, or to a local coin-counting kiosk. The largest difference between the two options is how much of your own money you get to pocket.
    • Bank– Coin exchange policies will vary depending on the bank you do business with. However, most banks will give you a 100% return rate if you relinquish the coins to them pre-sorted and wrapped. You should be able to get coin wrappers of all coin denominations for free from your bank- just ask. Some banks will tally account-holders’ coins for free using various methods. Call or reference your banks’ website to figure out their policies in advance.
    • Coin Kiosk– Coinstar is the nations biggest coin exchanger, with thousands of kiosks at retail locations throughout the United States. Simply locate the Coinstar kiosk nearest you, and dump your coins into the machine. You’ll pay for the convenience (an average of 10.9 percent service fee is applied), however there is no service charge for converting your coins to gift cards, PayPal funds, or charitable donations, as of current.

Even the mighty oak tree was once a small acorn. So remember, keep the change.

 

How To Cut Cable & Satellite TV Costs

Family watching television, c. 1958

Family watching television, c. 1958 (Wikipedia)

The average basic pay and premium-channel TV subscription cost $86 a month last year, according to the NPD Group, a market researching firm (Pay TV costing a pretty penny, and rising); amounting to a total of $1,032 dollars in a calendar year! The NPD Group predicts that consumers will be paying an average of $123 a month in 2015, and $200 a month by 2020, an annual loss of $1,476 and $2,400 respectively.

Now that you are aware of how much money you’re potentially spending, lets talk about how to accomplish some savings.

1.) Go Back to Basics. If you are not already subscribed to basic cable or satellite programing, consider making the switch. With more content available for free or low fee online, cable has become much less of the “necessity” it once was. Another option: consider dropping a few premium channels or extra features paid for in addition to the TV package.

2.) Consider the Competition. As with any purchase, compare prices and options amongst competing brands in the local area. If you do not want to deal with the hassle of switching providers, try calling your current cable company and letting them know you have found prices for a similar product cheaper elsewhere. You can fib a little if you did not find a better deal. The point is to simply lead them to believe the competition is vying for your business, & that you might migrate if they don’t act fast. See if your current television provider can’t be persuaded to drop their price to compete for your continued patronage.

3.) Cancel Your SubscriptionMost basic public television channels -ABC, PBS, CBS, NBC, Fox- can be accessed for free online on the broadcast channel’s website, or for the one-time low price of rabbit ears and a digital converter box. Other options include, the video streaming website Hulu, which offers many TV shows and movies for free! & while Netflix is a paid service (7.99 a month), it offers unlimited streaming of television shows and movies, straight to your computer or gaming console. Netflix is a considerable savings when compared to the cost of cable or satellite, and Netflix offers a months’ free trial to test drive their selection and services. If you prefer not to watch content from your computer, you can purchase an HDMI cable to connect your laptop to your television screen. Other products to look into: Apple TV and Roku- both streaming devices to bring media to your television through the magic of wifi internet.

4.) Throw Out the Television. This may be an adjustment for some, but think of all the money and time you will save with less multimedia consumption. When there is no TV to watch, it forces you to make other choices. You might find you spend more time with family, cultivating a hobby, reading, learning a new skill, or a numerous list of productive possibilities. You cannot put a price on a life well lived or time well spent. Plus, there is the added benefit of not needing to point all of your living room furniture towards an unsightly electronic appliance.

Consider your options above, and mix and match a savings solution for your particular needs and personal situation. & as always, Happy Savings!

Freebies!

All of us love freebies. Who does not love something that is free? Today I want to talk about the resource Hunt4Freebies.com. Hunt4Freebies is a website that scours the internet for free offers, and amasses them in one convenient location. The site has other money saving features such as “coupons/deals”, “sweepstakes”, “hot deals”, and “mailed coupons”, but their primary focus is on freebies.

Simply head to Hunt4Freebies.com, and scroll through the offers until something interests you. Then click the available link & follow the provided directions. Most freebies are offered through a business’ Facebook page, Twitter account, or company website. All offers will ask for information such as e-mail and snail mail address. Some offers will inquire for a few more bits of information, typically pertaining to their marketed product. The entire process usually takes no more than a mere minutes to complete.

FREE Sign

(Photo credit: Alan O’Rourke)

Personally, I have scored: a free roll of toilet paper, enough shampoo and hair care to last a year, disposable diapers and baby formula, toothpaste, a whole tube of superglue, vitamins, children’s cold medicine, a box of cereal, smoothie mix, multiple magazine subscriptions, makeup, and more!

Some samples are small, but others rival a travel size item or larger. & I must admit, it is quite exciting opening your mailbox to find freebies inside. It adds a little adventure and mystery to the routine task of mail retrieval.

Unfortunately, spam can accumulate fast in your e-mail inbox from filling out all the online freebie forms. I solve this problem, by simply creating an alternate e-mail address dedicated to freebies and other junk mail; checking auto-insurance quotes online for example, or any other internet activity that might solicit your e-mail address before rendering services. You could also “unsubscribe” to each e-mail, or block every company that solicits you, but I find having a separate e-mail address seems to do the trick.

Make sure to add Hunt4Freebies to your bookmark bar, so that it is easy to check daily and see what is new. The savings will really start adding up, especially once you begin receiving multiple samples of personal care items, and other products.

Happy savings everyone!

7 Ways to Save Money on Printer Ink Cartridges & Reduce Printing Costs

Printer ink cartridges are expensive. However, there are several things you can do to help put some green back in your wallet (or purse) when it comes to printer ink cartridge costs:

1. Purchase the Right Printer
If the moment has not already passed, compare ink cartridge prices for the various printer brands before purchasing your new electronic hardware. The cost of printer ink may not be on the top of your priority list, but it’s a factor worth considering. Some printer models may cost a tad more upfront, but make sure to do the math, as the ink cartridge costs may make the printer a more economical option (and better investment) in the long-run.

2. Compatible Ink Cartridges
Many retailers, such as Staples and Office Max, and numerous online companies sell “compatible” printer ink cartridges (a.k.a third-party, or generic brand printer ink cartridges). These compatible cartridges are designed for your printer but usually cost significantly less due to not being manufactured by a brand name company.

3. Ink Cartridge Refills
Businesses like Walgreens, Costco and Cartridge World refill used printer ink cartridges for a fraction of the cost of a new cartridge. These retailers only refill certain types of printer ink cartridge models though, so do your homework and check ahead of time on the internet or by phone.

4. Shop Around
Always shop around and compare prices online when making any purchase. That being said, I have discovered that Ebay.com is a treasure trove for deeply discounted brand name printer ink cartridges. To give you an example: A package (a “package” in this instance includes all five ink cartridges my printer requires to operate) of brand name printer ink cartridges costs $42.71 on Amazon.com. The compatible printer ink cartridges for my printer cost $22.15 for two packages on Amazon.com. However -on Ebay- I can purchase four packages of brand name printer ink cartridges for just $23.96, including free shipping!

5. Remanufactured Ink Cartridges
Remanufactured printer ink cartridges are recycled, refilled and resold. They can be 30-60 percent cheaper than the name-brand cartridges. Typically these are sold online rather than at retail outlets. Some websites to check if you are interested include:

Amazon.com
CarrotInk.com
InkGuides.com

6. Printer Settings
Set your printer quality setting to “draft” when you don’t need a perfect copy; this setting will consume less ink. Print in “grayscale” when color is not necessary. If your printer’s ink is manufactured into separate cartridges, the grayscale setting will allow you to purchase color ink cartridges less often, thereby saving you money.

7. Print Only What You Need

This is an obvious one, but it is worth repeating. Print only what you need. Make sure you specify which pages to print, and only print the pages that contain the content you want printed.

In closing, always recycle your printer ink cartridges. Places like Staples, Office Depot and Office Max have rewards programs for printer ink cartridges. Turn in your cartridges and get $3 in store credit or coupons. And Target stores have receptacles for recycling printer ink cartridges located at the interior entrance and/or exit of the building. However, if you are still unsure where to recycle your printer ink cartridges, Earth911.com allows you to search for recycling solutions near your location for just about any product.

Happy savings!

Saving Money with Glass Food Storage Containers

Glass food storage container with Easy Find Lids

(Photo credit: Rubbermaid Products)

Before our household had a set of Pyrex glass storage containers, a set of plastic Tupperware containers inhabited our cupboards. What initially attracted my husband and I to plastic storage solutions was the cheaper initial cost when compared with glass products, along with fancy sales-pitch phrases and adjectives such as “Easy Find Lids”, “Lock-its Technology”, and an assortment of pleasing color options. Ultimately, we ended up with a disorganized mess of slightly morphed, melted, plastic shapes; the clear parts of the containers tinted dingy due to use.

Swapping out your plastic food storage containers for glass containers will put cash in your pocket in more ways than one. Lets start with the basics.

1.) Glass storage containers are durable. Quality usually prevents you from having to purchase quantity. Shielding you from the hassle of future repeat trips to the store, and the eventual cost of purchasing products over and over again. Do it right the first time, so you don’t have to do it a second, third, or fourth time.

2.) Depending on the brand, glass food storage containers are microwavable, oven,

Glass food storage containers - Glass Oven Safe

(Photo credit: Rubbermaid Products)

freezer, fridge, and dishwasher safe, allowing them to be multifunctional kitchen solutions. This alone will save you from having to purchase other unnecessary baking and cooking products. An added bonus is that you can store the food you cook, in the same container you prepared it in, saving you both time and money on meal clean up!

3.) Glass storage containers help reduce food waste. Glass does not stain or retain odors, and is thus much more transparent than plastic, allowing you to see what you have in your fridge at a glance. Increased awareness of the contents of your fridge assists in leftovers being consumed, and aids in the prevention of fresh fruits and vegetables spoiling in storage. This effectively lowers your food costs and expenses.

Glass food storage containers - Fridge

(Photo credit: Rubbermaid Products)

Additionally, the majority of glass storage containers are stackable like their plastic Tupperware counterparts, and will withstand a drop from elevated heights like a champ. If you are thinking about investing in glass food storage containers, here are some tips on how to get the best prices on your purchase.

Ask family members, it’s free. Pyrex glass storage containers are passed down through generations of families, and are one of the few products in existence that are better used than new. This is because, the glass containers began being manufactured out of soda lime instead of borosilicate sometime around 1998, when the Pyrex brand was bought from Corning by the company World Kitchen. Glass made of soda lime is less expensive to produce, however, soda lime is more susceptible to damage during sudden temperature changes and has a lower resistance to high temperatures compared to borosilicate. Pyrex still ranks among the top brands for quality glass kitchen products (and is my recommendation when choosing glass food storage containers), but your grandma’s Pyrex will still be superior to what you can find on store shelves today.

Garage sales and Craigslist. Used is as good as new, as mentioned prior, so scoring

Glass food storage container - Preparing Meals

(Photo credit: Rubbermaid Products)

yourself a set of Pyrex glass food storage containers at a yard sale is a real bargain. Do not fret if the Pyrex containers are missing lids, as they can be purchased at the World Kitchen Shop online. Previously, there was no such place to purchase new plastic lids for glass food storage containers, so use the lid-less factor as a haggling point when making your deal (even if that point is just that you will have to buy new lids). This is a good route to get high-quality Pyrex, possibly even some made of the old borosilicate recipe, for rock bottom prices.

Last, shop when there are sales and search for coupons and discounts on the internet. If you would like to purchase a set of glass food storage containers now, without the hassle or fuss, price compare and purchase from the retailer with the cheapest deal. Remember to do a quick internet search on RetailMeNot.com, or a Google search for coupons, before making your purchase online or in-stores.

Shop Online with Coupon Codes

When shopping online, do not be too brisk at check-out. A few minutes of time could save you anywhere from 15 to 50 percent off your purchase, or score you free shipping.

Most online retailers use what are commonly referred to as “coupon codes”, but can also appear under the guise of “code”, “promo deal”, and “discount code”, among other variations depending upon the retailer. A coupon code is basically a sequence of numbers and/or letters that you enter during your online check-out experience to score discounts and deals. The majority of you have more than likely seen or used a cyber coupon code at some point during your online shopping career. Some retailers advertise coupon codes on their website when they are available. For example, J.Crew is presently running a sale on their webpage, “FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS WITH CODE FREESHIP”. However, some coupon codes can only be found at coupon sites that partner with retailers to create exclusive online coupons.

Clipped Coupons With Scissors 3

(Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com)

A favorite of mine –Retailmenot.com– has coupons for 130,000 stores, a downloadable iPhone app, and features “Top Coupons of the Day”. RetailMeNot provides you with the expiration date of the coupon code, and the last time it was tested so you know whether or not it is still in working order. Just simply type in the store you are looking to make a purchase from in the search bar, and apply any applicable codes you find during the check-out process on your retailer’s website.

A second option I sometimes employ is typing the phrase “[name of retailer] + coupons” into a trusted search engine. There are a wealth of websites offering exclusive online coupons, so if you have a little extra time, comparing codes can occasionally fetch you different and/or improved deals. Many online retailers do not let you stack coupons, so choose the coupon code that gives you the best discount when comparing options.

If you take the brief time it requires during your future online shopping endeavors to look up possible coupon codes before you check-out, than you can expect to be scoring deals and discounts in no time!