One way I have found to save money on hair care, particularly coloring, is to do it yourself. I’m not talking about box dye kits, however.
I like buying the developer and color from Sally Beauty Supply. I learned many years ago that you don’t have to sign up to be a member to purchase products from their stores and since then I haven’t touched a boxed dye kit. Not only is my method healthier for your hair, it’s very inexpensive. A bottle of developer will run you $3-$5 and the color is typically $5 a bottle or less. Depending on how long your hair is you might have to buy two bottles of color but your maximum out of pocket expense shouldn’t exceed $15. You can’t get a coloring for that cheap at the salon, that’s for sure! And if you have an awesome husband like I do you won’t even have to do it on your own – he colors my hair for me.
Just an idea if you’re looking to save a little moolah but love to update your look.
I just love a good deal! And I don’t mean “I love spending money on something I wouldn’t have otherwise bought just because it’s on sale” because that is not saving money, that is spending it. I’m referring, instead, to when there’s something you’re planning on buying anyway (whether you need it or just have wanted it for a long time) and you’re able to get a discount on it.
I’m a big fan on stocking up on everyday items when they go on sale but I like to stick to non-perishables like toilet paper, laundry soap, garbage bags, etc. as nothing irks me more than to waste food. So when it comes to food, unless it’s canned items that have a shelf life of over a year, I am careful not to stock up too much. But with other stuff I really go whole hog. For instance, last year Target had our preferred toilet paper on sale. In addition to the sale they were giving out $5 gift cards for every two packages of toilet paper sold and there was a “save $2 now” coupon attached to each package. In all we saved approximately $7 per package of toilet paper and we’re still working through our supply of it well over six months later. Sure, we spent a lot of money at once to acquire it but that’s an expense we’re not going to see again for quite awhile. These are my favorite type of savings because they are on things I would have bought anyway so it’s a win-win.
For things that one wants, such as a new TV, it’s not as exciting because it’s still money out the door that could easily have stayed in your pocket. For those such instances you need to weigh whether you can truly afford it (hint: if you’re buying it with a credit card that doesn’t get paid off in full at the end of each month then you shouldn’t get it), how long it will last, and how much enjoyment you’ll get out of it. Certain items can be considered an investment, such as a new suit to wear on interviews and/or special events, whereas others are pure enjoyment – that new smart TV you’ve been drooling over. There’s nothing wrong with buying stuff you want (and really don’t need) as long as you’re realistic and smart about it; just do your research! Amazon.com is fantastic for reviews even if you decide to buy it elsewhere. Camelcamelcamel.com tracks items sold at Amazon, Best Buy and NewEgg and provides a price history as well as allow you to set a price threshold and get notified by email when it has been reached. You can read more about CamelCamelCamel here.
I also highly recommend the wait and see approach. Many times when someone wants something they want it right away and thus end up spending more money than if they had been patient for awhile and waited for it to go down in price via a sale or temporary price cut. The added bonus here is that the anticipation sweetens the feeling when the item is eventually acquired.
In addition, try practicing feeling grateful for the things you already own. Just because you don’t have the latest, greatest device doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Too often people take their possessions for granted which results in them constantly wanting to acquire new ones to get that happy feeling again. But that initial feeling is fleeting, so if you train yourself to appreciate the things you have you’ll find yourself enjoying them more and spending less money at the same time. Before you know it you’ll have accumulated extra money in your savings account which gives you a peace of mind that trumps that high you get when you buy something new.
Try it, and feel free to share your strategies in the comments.
Speedway (a gas station) has a great reward program called Speedy Rewards (go here for details). For all you users, here’s a way to build your points even faster. Speedway is offering 500 reward points for every $25 in gift cards purchased. Instead of putting the gas on your credit card at the pump, pick up a gift card to get the extra points. And there’s a plus – when you’re at the pump using the gift card, you can also use your Speedy rewards card to get your regular points too!
If you use Speedway and their rewards card, you may as well take advantage of this “double dipping” and rack up points faster! And if you’re not, what are you waiting for? Sign up now so you too can earn points that can be used toward gas, food/drinks, gift cards, and merchandise.
Have you heard of a website called camelcamelcamel? Perhaps not. This site gives you some fantastic insights into whether the price of something at Amazon.com is a good deal or not. All you have to do is the following:
1. Locate the item on Amazon.com
2. Copy the Amazon.com URL from the address bar of your browser.
3. Go to camelcamelcamel.com
4. Paste the Amazon URL into the search box.
5. Click the Find Products button.
Ta-da! Now you’re given a pricing history of that item you’re coveting and you can see whether the price Amazon is currently asking is really a good deal or not like in the below example (click to make larger). You can also gauge by the pricing history whether that item is likely to decrease in price anytime soon.
On top of that, you can have the site keep track of the price for you and email and/or send you a tweet via Twitter when the price reaches your desired amount. It’s as easy as filling out the Desired Price, Email, and/or Twitter boxes and clicking the Start Tracking button (click the image to make it larger).
You’ll get an email confirmation as well that leads back to your private tracking page so you can make adjustments or cancel the tracking once you’ve purchased the item.
I use this service all the time for big-ticket items to ensure that I’m not overspending on the things I want. You do have to have some patience, however, as sometimes it could be months before the item you want reaches your desired price. But it’s definitely worth it to save a few bucks on those items you don’t really need right away.
Here’s a quick tip when you’re shopping online or getting ready to head to the grocery store – Google the product(s) you want to buy and add the word “coupon” or “deal” to your search. You’d be surprised what you might find! I do this all the time and while I don’t always get coupons for everything I need, I do find enough to make the task worth the time and effort.
Two examples from this year:
1) I had to give a foster cat some medicine and hiding it in his food was just not cutting it; he’d smell the smashed up pill and refuse to eat. I had read about these treats called Pill Pockets but knew that they’d be on the pricy side so I Googled the name along with the word coupon and found that if I signed up at the manufacturer’s website I could print a coupon for $2 off a package. So instead of paying $6 I only paid $4. It was a lot, yes, but these treat worked wonders and the cat finally got the medicine he needed.
2) My hard drive crashed. I went to Google and put in “hard drive deals” and the first hit was for a site called Tech Bargains where they were linking to a hard drive on sale at NewEgg.com for $80 (normally $100). In addition, they had a checkout code for an additional $10 off. So I got a replacement hard drive for $70 instead of $100. Talk about a deal! I had to get one anyway but I saved $30 just by doing some quick research.
Keep in mind if you’re shopping online make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. When in doubt, or if the price seems way too good to be true, skip it as it might be a scam. In any case, try this tip next time you’re getting ready to make a purchase and see how it works for you.
It’s not always necessary to buy plastic storage containers from the store when some of the food you eat comes in one that you were planning on throwing away or recycling anyway. Unlike my grandmother, however, I don’t like the idea of reusing containers that still have their labels on because not only do they look tacky, but it makes it difficult to know what’s actually inside them.
Recently, I came across this blog entry which explains a quick and easy way to remove labels from yogurt and sour cream containers using acetone. The only change I made was that I used a paper towel, set it on the top of the container, and poured the acetone on top, letting it soak for maybe 30 seconds. Then I was able to wipe the label off with barely any effort at all. I repeated the procedure on the sides, and as the pictures show below, it worked like a charm!
I made sure to do this in a sink while wearing rubber gloves and I kept the lid on the container so that no acetone got inside. I washed the outside of the container with dish soap (Dawn) thoroughly and then washed the inside. Now that I have a plain container I could decorate it, write on it in magic marker, or make a label of my own to stick on it.
For this particular container I am not doing any of those things because I’ll be using it to store my hamster’s yogurt treats on the shelf beneath his cage so I already know what’s in there. I’ve already re-purposed an empty Nutella container to keep a few weeks’ supply of his block food so I don’t have to constantly go in and out of the resealable bag every evening when I feed him.
These containers are great for storing leftovers, but I would not recommend heating those leftovers in the microwave since the plastic is likely not BPA-free and could leech into your food.
One last tip – I noticed that certain brands’ labels are easier to remove than others. I have a lot of luck with the brand in the photo as well as Market Pantry (Target’s brand).
If you have any tips on how to re-purpose other containers, please share them in the comments!
If you have a library card, you instantly have access to free admission to museums in your area, including free general admission to Brookfield Zoo which many people wouldn’t think of as a museum. Why pay for full-price admission when you can get 2 or more people in for free?
Visit Museum Adventure Pass to learn more about this great money-saving program.
You might not be a total geek like me and just love love love visiting the library. Perhaps you don’t like to read. I highly recommend you try it, but to each their own. However, all is not lost, dear non-reader. If you’re looking to shave some money off the entertainment budget the library can help you out with that because the majority of them now allow you to check out CDs, DVDs (even new releases and movies on Bluray), and video games for free. Sure, Redbox is only $1, but the library has a larger selection! In addition, you can keep most of the materials for a week or more (except for new releases which tend to have a 24-hour loan period). Thinking of buying a video game but want to try it out first? Go to the library! Same goes for sampling new music. Why buy a CD, or even download MP3s, before you even know whether you’ll ever listen to the album again? Save yourself some money and try before you buy.
In addition, if you’re ever without a computer or internet access head to your local library and check out their computer lab. Whether you’re looking to work on report in Excel, type up documents in Word, play World of Warcraft, or just connect on Facebook, the library has you covered.
Your local library also has magazines, information to help you find a job, tax forms, and even coupons. It’s not just dusty old “boring” books anymore.