Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Free Samples - In Stores and with Online Purchases

Everyone likes something for nothing and partaking in free samples is a way to do just that.  I have friends who like to fill up on the free samples when they are food shopping.  They find that in particular, Costco is a reliable source for promotional hand-outs.

Kiehl's is another good source for freebies.  When you shop online, you can choose up to three products to sample.  And if you visit their stores, most sales associates are quite liberal with the hand-outs -- even if you don't buy anything.  Sephora and BlueMercury are similarly generous.

Drugstore.com has a special page listing their current gifts with purchase.  It pays to see what's available for free whenever you shop with them.

Uniqlo offers a different kind of freebie: free tailoring/alterations.  If you constantly need to hem pants or sleeve lengths, this is a particularly valuable offering.

Want to read more about how to get stuff for free?  Click here for links to companies that will send free samples your way.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Drugstore Deals: Face Serums for Less Than $25

Now there is no need to blow your budget on looking young and beautiful.  Real Beauty's Budget Buys: Face Serums For Under $25 lists 13 luxe potions that will brighten your face, help repair sun damage and lots more (for each serum, they describe its special features).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

365 Ways to Save - April

April brings showers, of course, but it also brings a transition to warmer weather.  As you put away your heavy woolens and bring out your t-shirts and shorts, keep the following tightwad tips in mind.  They will help you take care of your clothes and accessories so that they last for many seasons to come (and because you won't have to replace them, that will help you save lots of money).

Caring for Your Clothes

88.  Wash or dry-clean all clothes before storing them.  Stains that aren't visible now might otherwise oxidize and set while the garments are in storage.  And anything that isn't perfectly clean is more likely to attract months and other pests.
89.  White blouses in particular are subject to sweat stains.  To remove them, pre-treat the underarms with vinegar before you put the item in the laundry.  Then wash in the hottest water that's safe for the fabric.        
90. Whenever possible, store your clothes in an area where the temperature and moisture levels remain fairly consistent.  Dramatic changes in either temperature or humidity can make fibers expand and contract, which can cause misshaping of your garments.
91. I like using cedar blocks or lavender sachets to keep bugs away, rather than mothballs because the strong smell of mothballs is so hard to remove.
92. For hanging clothes, be sure to use something rather than plastic dry-cleaner bags to store your off-season garments since the plastic film can trap moisture and cause fabric to degrade.  Look for fabric garment bags, or thicker plastic ones with air holes.  Or just cover with an old pillow case (cutting a hole for the hanger), which will keep dust off and prevent fading.
93.  Before you pack away winter boots, practice good shoe maintenance - brush suede or clean and polish leather.  And keep them away from direct heat so that the leather won't crack.
94.  Place a rolled up magazine into each of your calf- or knee-high boots so the boots will maintain their shape until next fall.

Make the Most of What You Have

95.  As you bring out your summer clothes, try them on and make any adjustments necessary to make sure they are ready to wear, sewing on loose buttons, fixing sagging hems, etc. 
96.  Really assess how you look in the mirror.  If you've lost or gained a few pounds, it might be worth it to tailor your clothes for a perfect fit -- when you look your best in what you already have, you'll be less interested in shopping for new things.

Shopping for Spring Clothes and Accessories

97.  If you do decide that you need to go shopping, remember that there are lots of ways to save while buying some great new spring outfits.  Shop the sales, head to the outlets, go online or check out the discount stores.  If you are doing the latter, be sure to read these tightwad tips that make cheap clothes look luxe first.
98. One of the best ways to update your look without spending lots of money is to shop for accessories.  A colorful or print bag can really add some zing to fashion basics.  Belts not only spotlight your waistline, but they can add a pop of color, too.  And lightweight scarves continue to be on trend and, since they are available at all price points and in all sorts of patterns (think neon or ethnic this spring), they make a great fashion statement.
99. As you shop, consider the cost of maintaining your new purchases.  For example, that fawn-colored leather skirt you find at 75% off might not turn out to be such a huge bargain if you must pay for a specialist to clean it every time you wear it.  You might be better off paying a little more up front for a similar skirt that can be tossed in the washing machine. 
100. And while we're talking about the cost of cleaning, check out these tightwad tips for cutting your dry cleaning costs.
101. Buying new shoes this spring?  Remember that fit and comfort are paramount.  When you are trying on new shoes, make sure you can flex and curl your toes. You need 3/8 to 1/2 inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe to ensure long-lasting comfort.  (Remember that no matter how low the price is, you are just throwing your money away if the shoes end up sitting in your closet forever because they are just too painful to walk in.)
102.  Also note that some shoes - such as fabric espadrilles with hemp soles which are everywhere this spring - won't last long, especially if you are caught in a shower - and you should pay accordingly. 
103. It is always better to pay a little more for quality, e.g. leather uppers, and sewn rather than glued soles. While they might look ok at first, cheap shoes don't wear well and you'll end up spending more money replacing them than you would have for a quality pair in the first place.
104.  Are you dying to buy some new things but absolutely can't afford it?  Consider putting together a clothing swap, where friends and acquaintances bring what they know longer wear and exchange it for something else.
105.  No matter how you acquire some new duds, be sure to follow the frugal fashionista's four fashion rules and know when to save and when to splurge.

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Earth Day also takes place in April.  Many tactics that are useful for saving money (buying less, re-purposing what you have) also help protect the environment.  And in some cases, recycling will actually put some green into your pocket.  Here are some tips that are wallet- and earth-friendly:

106.  If you already separate cans and glass, see if you can make some money for your trouble.  Many privately-run recycling plants will pay you market rate for your used metal and glass items. Find a list of nearby plants from earth911.com and then see if they will pay you.
107.  Or if you live in a state with a bottle bill, simply redeem recyclable bottles and cans for cash at the grocery store or other redemption center.
108.  Ship your old laptops, cellphones, cameras, MP3 players, Blu-Ray discs, video games and more to Gazelle and you will not only prevent toxic materials from these electronics from piling up in landfills where they can affect the water supply, but you will receive a Costco Cash Card.
109.  Recycle ink and toner cartridges, also sources of toxic materials, in exchange for $2 in Staples Rewards.
110.  Send your old books, electronics, dvds and video games to Amazon (their trade-in program even provides free postage) in return for Amazon credit you can use to shop online.  Note that Amazon also allows you to sell books and dvds you no longer want to customers directly, and although selling through their site is sometimes more lucrative, you must wait for a buyer and pay for shipping and a commission to Amazon out of the proceeds.
111.  Receive a Best Buy gift card when you trade in old video games, musical instruments, select electronics, and CDs and movies. You can ship items to a trade-in center (print out a prepaid shipping label at bestbuy.com/recycling) or bring them to your local store.
112.  GameStop is another good place to trade in used video games. You'll receive a Gamestop gift card good for purchasing anything at their stores or website.
113. RadioShack has a useful program for trading-in old electronics. The service is available in their stores and online. As with many other programs, you'll receive a Radio Shack gift card.
114. MyBoneyard and  venjuvo.com are two additional resources for recycling used electronics. You can estimate the value of your items online, and then choose to receive a prepaid shipping label for mailing items in. Assuming your items have a cash value, you can elect to receive the money yourself or donate it to charity.
115.  Electronics aren't the only items you can keep out of the landfill.  Trade in used sports equipment at PlayItAgainSports and receive cash or new sports equipment from the store.
116. Use reusable containers (made of plastic or glass) instead of plastic baggies, aluminum foil or plastic wrap to store leftovers and other food items. Not only will you save money, but you'll be adding less trash to our nation's landfills.

Want to see more of our 365 ways to save? Check out the list of tips from January, February and March.