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My next door neighbor and I both wanted to redecorate our living rooms, but we didn’t have money to spend. We decided to swap end tables, coffee tables, and table lamps. We each got a brand new look and didn’t spend a dime.
The real meaning of ‘lite’
Don’t be fooled by grocery store labels. Sometimes “lite” just means diluted with water or other cheap ingredient. My favorite is fruit juice. The lite versions are often 50 percent water. Don’t pay full price for half the product. If you really want diluted juice, you can add water yourself for free.
Near the end of my spring cleaning, I look for a warm day to clean my kids’ toys. I pull out their wading pool and fill it with water and some dish soap. Then we put in their toys that can handle being wet. Usually it’s too cool for the kids to get too wet, but if I pick a sunny day, it doesn’t hurt if they have to come in to dry off after the clean-up.
Pre-vacation check up
About this time each year, my family starts to think about our summer vacation. This year, we’re going to the Tennessee Mountains. We begin to research the area. We look for places to go and things to see. We especially look for things that are low or no cost. We also look for discounts and ways to save on the places that we want to go. My kids love doing online research, and they know that the money they save can be spent somewhere else on the trip.
Between nieces, nephews and friends’ kids, we know a lot who will be graduating from high school this year. I was looking for an affordable gift idea and came up with this. I’m putting together gift baskets with some college essentials. I’ll include a few things that they’ll need in the dorm like a flashlight and dust cloth. Also, I plan on including a basic first aid kit and topping it off with a gift card for Starbucks. I’ll spend about $20 on each, but I think that it will be money well spent.
Triggering online discounts
I bet you didn’t know that you can fake out online stores. Here’s how. Once you’ve filled your online shopping cart, make it look like you’re about to leave the site. Just “mousing” over the URL space at the top of the page usually is enough. Some sites are so concerned about losing a customer that as soon as you do that, it’ll open a pop-up offering a discount code that you can use when checking out. I never complete an online order without trying it. It takes a second and it is surprising how often I save a few extra dollars.
Unhappy with your purchase?
Want to get your money back when a purchase doesn’t do what was promised? I’ve found that if the clerk refuses to issue a refund, you need to do two things. First, ask to speak with a supervisor. Don’t waste time arguing with the first person you speak with. If the supervisor won’t help, tell them that you’ll call the credit card company and request a chargeback. A chargeback hits them with merchant fees that they don’t want. Often that's enough to get them to give you the refund you deserve.
If you have a family, your clothes dryer can be a big expense. Therefore, you want it to work as efficiently as possible. I had my vents cleaned, and the guy who did the service showed me that I should clean the lint trap, too. Not only pull the lint off of it, but also take it out, wash it with dish soap, and scrub it. It seems that there’s something in dryer sheets that causes lint to cling to the screen and block the air. Since I had the vent and lint trap cleaned, my dryer doesn’t work nearly as hard as before.
With three kids under six, we weren’t able to afford a regular date night. Restaurants and movies are expensive, and babysitting just makes it worse. Therefore, we do it differently. While I put the kids to bed, hubby goes to one of our local restaurants and gets two desserts to go. Once the kids are asleep, we have our desserts in front of a streaming movie or talk with some music in the background. Now we can afford date nights weekly. It’s been wonderful for our marriage.
No interest until warning
Be careful with those ‘no interest until ... ’ deals. We assumed that meant no interest was charged until that date. That was not true. There’s no interest charged if the entire bill is paid by the date. If any balance is due, interest is charged from day one. We were shocked when we found out that we were being charged four months interest on the unpaid balance on our living room furniture. Next time, I’ll read the sales agreement before signing it!
Online shopping trick
Here’s an online shopping trick I use. Most websites will send you an email with a discount offer shortly after you register on their site. It is usually sent within 24 hours of registering, so I leave whatever I was going to buy in the shopping cart until I get the discount code. Then I go back and complete the transaction with the code. Usually I get a percent off or free shipping. Either way, it’s free money to me.
Checking account surprise
It pays to review your checking account regularly. This is especially true if you pay a lot of bills online. It’s easy to just look at the balance to make sure you have money there and not get into the details. However, if you review your bills, you may find that there are errors or that you’re being charged for something that you canceled. It’s also a great way to spot patterns in your spending. For instance, I had gotten into a bad habit of hitting the ATM three or four times each week. Each one wasn’t for much, but they added up quickly. Now I take a look at my account at least every other week. I may not like what I find, but at least, I can fix it!
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