Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Michigan Half Off - Emagine Entertainment (Movie Theaters)

You Will Receive 4 (four) No Restriction General Admission passes for entry into Emagine Theatres for a single movie.

MichiganHalfOff: Michigan Half Off - Emagine Entertainment (Movie Theaters)
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

MichiganHalfOff: Michigan Half Off - Blake's Apple Orchard

MichiganHalfOff: Michigan Half Off - Blake's Apple Orchard

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MichiganHalfOff: Michigan Half Off - Cheli's Chili Bar-Clinton Township

MichiganHalfOff: Michigan Half Off - Cheli's Chili Bar-Clinton Township

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Road Trip Tip For Readers

Just learned of a little road trip tip from Budget Travel and had to share. For the readers out there, when traveling on the long road trips stop at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Most often you see many along your route and that is why this is a great tip. They have audio books you can rent at any location. This means you can finish a book during your journey and stop at another location and pick up a new one. You pay for the first book (from $10), and when you return it, you can check out another book for $3.50.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Gotta Love The Freebies!

I am sure no one reading this minds knowing about ways to not only save a few bucks but to get things for FREE! Yes, we all are in love with the freebies. Just admit it. After all, don't they say that some of the best things in life are free. Penny pinchers, you may want to brace yourselves.

  • Free Birthday Stuff. Lots of companies give you free stuff on your birthday. Join the birthday club at Toys R Us and your child (younger than 10) will get a free toy or gift card every year. For the adults, if you sign up at your favorite eatery you could eat for free on your birthday.
  • Free Shipping. Many retailers offer free shipping for online shopping. Some include: (shoes), (jewelry), (shoes). Others offer shipping options where you can ship to a local store and still avoid personally paying shipping. Some include:,
  • Airline Freebies. What?! Airlines still have freebies? Yes! Southwest lets you check two bags for free. Most others charge. Jet Blue lets you check one bag for free, plus gives you access to free TV, satellite radio and all-you-can-eat snacks. Continental still serves free meals on several routes. And all kids under 2 years of age fly free on your lap on all airlines.
  • Free Books, Movies, & Music. Yes, I've mentioned this before. Don't forget about your library. Its your golden key to lots of free books, CDs, and movies. And some offer free seminars and events.
  • Kids Eat Free. Yep, free meals for kids at Denny's, Lone Star Steakhouse and Roadhouse Grill every Tuesday night with a paying adult. You can search for eateries in your area at
  • Free Digital Storage Space. Free online backup storage to protect your files or photos from computer crashes or natural disasters. and each give you 2 gigabytes of free and secure digital storage space. You can also use and for your photos and videos. Or there are photo-print ordering sites where you can also store photos such as and
  • Free Technology Recycling. Not only is this free but you can also get some cash here!,, and recycle and refurbish your old technology and send you a check in return! They take cameras, cell phones, MP3 players, game consoles and more. Check them out!
  • Free Music. Dance to your hearts content at Great way to discover new music. You will have to listen to some ads on occasion but they are short. At Pandora you will receive 40 hours of free listening per month. Another site to try is where there is no limit on your free listening!
  • Free Directory Assistance. Save and dial 1-800-GOOG-411 next time you need directory assistance. Google's free phone service will connect you with the business you're looking for, and there are no ads to listen to. But, note they don't offer residential listings yet.
  • Free e-Books and Sheet Music. When copyrights expire on books and music they become "public domain." So you can get free and legal copies. At you can download more than 30,000 e-books. At you can search the text of seven million books (even those that are still under copyright)! And at, you can print sheet music by more than 250 composers.
Thanks to Kiplingers for some great ideas.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Laziness Pays

Do you want to save money but just don't have the discipline to put forth the extra effort to do so? You can be lazy and save money. Here are some ideas.
  • Automatic payments. Try scheduling at least your fixed monthly bills to automatic payments so that you don't miss a payment and get charged the extra late fees.

  • Eat the food in your house. What?! Yeah, just eat your own groceries. Stats show that Americans regularly throw away nearly 15% of the food they buy from the grocery store. That can really add up to a lot of money depending on your budget.
  • Watch the dates. Mark it on your calendar when you rent things like library books, videos, etc. so you can avoid the late fees. Many places now also offer email reminder notices. Be sure to sign up!
  • Use your perks. Are you an AAA member? Do you belong to the AARP? What about your local credit union? Check organizations you have memberships with to see if they offer buying privileges or discounts.
  • Just Ask. Really?! That's right, just ask. Doesn't hurt, just ask if you can have your interest rate lowered on your loan or credit card. Worst they can say is no. Can't go any higher. Or ask for discounts on services like your cell phone or pet care instead of switching to another vendor to save money.
  • Have the awkward conversation. According to Financially Fit by Bank of America, Americans average more than $750 yearly on holiday gifts and that's probably much more than most would like to spend. If your gift-giving is costing you more than you can realistically afford there's a good chance it’s more than your relatives can afford (or would like to spend) as well. Take the plunge and broach the subject. Offer a more reasonable alternative. More than likely your relatives will be grateful SOMEONE finally raised the subject and you’ll save money in the process.
  • Forget the pet. I can't agree on this one but do want to share the idea. Sure it sounds heartless but did you realize that welcoming home a little puppy can cost you an average of more than $1,500 a year - or $15,000 over 10 years? Kitties are pricey too - just under $1,000 a year or approximately $9,000 for 10 years of care.
Thanks to Bank of America for sharing some great ideas.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Knock Down Rising Food Prices

Don't let rising food prices discourage you or throw you budget out of wack. Consider these ideas to keep your food budget at bay.
  1. Eat at home. You can make the same healthy and nutritious meals you get in restaurants at home. And that includes the great tasting coffee. This excludes meals with lower nutrition as those can be found at bargain prices throughout fast food chains.
  2. Shop with a plan. Don't just put everything that catches your eye in your cart. Plan it out. Make a list at home before you go to the store and stick to it. Planning your meals out helps too so that you only buy what you need for those meals. All helps you not to buy extra and spend extra.
  3. Put on the blinders. Don't let the impulse purchase items catch your eye. Shopping with a plan and a list will help as you will find you will not have to go down every aisle and be tempted.
  4. Eat before you shop. You will be less tempted to buy the extra things not on your list if you are not hungry when you go shopping.
  5. Avoid prepared foods. Yes, its convenient in this fast paced world we live it. But, it also comes with a premium price tag. Instead, buy the ingredients and make it yourself and save money.
  6. Avoid the bottled water. Easier on the pocket book and the environment. If you don't like tap water consider installing a filter. You can also add lemon to your water which will also add nutrients to your diet.
  7. Avoid shopping with kids. They can add minutes to your shopping trip and added time can equal extra purchases that can sneak into the cart that you didn't plan on.
  8. Use coupons. And pay attention to use them at stores that offer doubling deals. Many websites also have coupons you can print off. The few minutes you spend looking for coupons can equal great savings.
  9. Buy locally. Its often cheaper since there aren't any transportation costs.
  10. Look down and around. Stores often place the more expensive items at eye level. Look down to see cheaper alternatives. This also applies to the brand name item. Look around them to find cheaper generic alternatives.
  11. Watch the dates. As the "sell by" or "best before" date approaches, you are virtually guaranteed a discount.
  12. Substitute recipe items. If you have a higher-priced item that reoccurs in your favorite recipes, it may be time to shake up your taste buds. Often a lower-priced alternative can be found. "For instance, if you consistently bake with olive oil and you see that the price has skyrocketed, a simple switch to applesauce (something that you might even be able to make if you have an apple tree) is a great cheap and low-fat substitution for many recipes."
  13. Shop less. Keep the number of shopping trips at bay to reduce chances of unnecessary purchases and money spent on gas.
  14. Keep items on hand. Keeping your kitchen well stocked will help you to not run out of staple items and have to run to the store at the last minute. This will also allow you to be able to wait for sales.
Thank to Lisa Smith from Investopedia for some great ideas.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Kids Eat Free

Is the economy preventing your family from enjoying a dinner out? Here is a great link that I wanted to share for those in the Detroit area. It shows restaurants that offer free meals for children. This is a great way to be able to enjoy a dinner out and a smaller price!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Frugal Travel: Pre-planning Tip #2 - Save on Food

Another item we can spend quite a bit on when traveling is food. Also, its one area that may not be as easy to control. Given we are on vacation we don't necessarily have access to a kitchen and we will eat out much more. So how can we save? shared some really great suggestions.

  • Before you leave do some research. Check out local restaurants and eateries online to see which have reasonable price ranges for meals.
  • Coupons. Some local restaurants may have discount coupons on their websites. You can also check out an Entertainment Book. Take a peak and print some off before you leave.
  • Easy to prepare meals. Some hotels will offer in room kitchenettes. Consider lodging at these places and find easy meals you can prepare in your room instead of going out.
  • Order to go. Ordering to go avoids ordering drinks and leaving the bigger tips and reduces your cost. Consider getting a meal to go and taking it back to your room.
  • Don't forget about the freebies. Take advantage of any free meals your hotel may offer.
  • Eat out for lunch. Consider eating out for lunch instead of dinner to avoid pricier entrees.
  • Snack it up. Take snacks to keep you satisfied through the day so that the hunger doesn't build to draw to the big expensive meal.
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Frugal Travel: Pre-planning Tip #1 - Transportation

Let's face it. Traveling at reasonable costs requires not only good planning but also requires you be persistent. Go after what you want and don't give up. Over the next few posts I am going to share some great pre-planning tips I learned from Erin Huffstetler. Let's start with a big one: transportation.

Transportation is most likely one of the biggest expenses when you travel. There are costs associated with getting you to your departure destination and with the mode of transportation used. And then when you arrive you need transportation not only to get to your lodging destination but also just to get you around town. Besides traveling off peak and using discount providers, here are some other ways to pre-plan to reduce costs.

1. Save on car rentals.
  • Book early. The cheapest rental cars go fast. Don't get forced into an upgrade. Book your car as soon as you have solid plans.
  • Comparison shop. The rates between the website, toll free number, and local dealer are not always the same. Be sure to check all three.
  • Reserve the smallest car possible. Rent the smallest car you need and hope for an upgrade. Small fleets are often overbooked causing dealers to upgrade their customers.
  • Compare daily and weekly rates. There is a big range between daily and weekly rates. Check both to ensure you get the best price.
  • Use a non-airport facility. Check out local renters that are not exactly at the airport. You may find you save the price the airport renters charge for convenience.
  • Skip the rental insurance. Your car insurance providing often provides coverage for rentals. Be sure to check first. You may be saving big on extra insurance you don't need.
  • Fill the tank yourself. Some rental companies charge a fee for returning the car without a full tank. Be sure to know what's in the contract to save yourself some money.
2. Save on gas.
  • Rely on local transportation. Not only does traveling using local transportation (subway, bus, etc.) allow you to see everything as the locals see it but it save you some headache on parking too.
  • Rent a bike. Where are you going? If going to a beach or other tourist-focused areas why rent a car when you can rent a bike? Its also can be an easier way to get around town.
  • Seek gas card offers. With the increase in gas prices some hotels have begun to offer free gas cards to offset the cost.
  • Walk. Pick a pedestrian friendly destination. Many big and small towns can be easily explored on foot.
  • Look for a shuttle service. Bigger hotel chains often have shuttle service. Take advantage of it. And get a tour guide as a bonus.
3. Save on airfare.
  • Be flexible to consider off peak schedules.
  • Look into flying into near by airports. You can save by arriving in one airport and leaving from another.
  • Online search alerts. Sign up for pricing alerts and also search day before and after where you can get some really good deals.
  • Avoid online service fees by doing research online and then book with airline.
  • Sign up for last minute email alerts from airlines for some great last minute deals. They often reduce prices at the last minute to get rid of any remaining empty seats.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

7 Days Of The Week, When To Buy

Knowing a little more about the sales cycles of certain products and services and retailers can add much value to the your hunt for a deal. According to Smart Money, there are certain days of the week when you can find the best prices for things. If you have experienced success with this I'd like to hear from you.

Airline Tickets
Best to buy
: Wednesday morning
Why: Airlines usually have deals over the weekend but the war begins after the weekend when other airlines are trying to match the prices set by the first airline that reduced prices over the weekend. Prices reach their lowest point by late Tuesday, early Wednesday.

Best to buy: Mondays
Why: Car dealers love the weekend because that is when they make the most sales. On Monday, they are already looking toward the weekend and the low foot traffic makes it seem like it will never come which gives the consumer a little more negotiating power.

Best to buy: Thursday evening
Why: Kathryn Finney, author of "How to Be a Budget Fashionista" says this is when retailers begin to stock for the weekend and when retailers such as Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and Express start their weekend promotions. It brings people out to shop mid week.

Dinner Out
Best to buy: Tuesday
Why: Most restaurants don't receive food deliveries on the weekend and throw things out on Sunday (they should donate to the food rescue mission instead). By Tuesday they have received new deliveries so food is fresher and you get more bang for your buck.

Best to buy: Thursday before 10 a.m.
Why: In addition to oil prices, consumer demand also drive up prices. Weekend demand is higher when more people are traveling. Most gas stations change prices Thursday mornings and by getting gas then you will sneak in before the price change and weekend rush.

Department-Store Wares
Best to buy: Saturday
Why: Many department stores have a lot to mark down for their Sunday circulars, so they frequently start the process on Saturday evenings before store closing to prepare for the Sunday rush. Even if the markdowns haven't been made, many employees will honor the sale price if you ask. Print out the circular preview from the store's web site, and bring it with you when you head to the mall.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Food Cents

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

One of my favorite days because I love Mexican food. I know you can eat it all the time but there something about having it on Cinco de Mayo that makes it better. And of course we can't forget about the margaritas. But, back to the food. I was excited when I learned of some low cost Cinco de Mayo recipes from Eating Well today. Now I know what I am having for dinner. Great recipes for less than $3 per serving! Can't beat that. Following is a sampling.

Crispy Turkey Tostadas: Shredded leftover turkey tops homemade tostadas in this Tex-Mex favorite. Making your own tostada shells from fresh corn tortillas is easier than you might think—crisp them up in the oven while you prepare the toppings. Choose either regular petite diced tomatoes or those with added jalapeños, depending on your inclination for spicy food. Serve with black beans, rice and extra salsa or hot sauce on the side.

Calabacitas: Enjoy this traditional Southwestern dish of sautéed summer squash, onions and peppers as a side or as a vegetarian filling for tacos.

Salsa Rojo: Here’s a homemade version of the tomato salsa served at taco stands and burrito joints everywhere. Try it with all your favorite Mexican foods—it even works as enchilada sauce.

If you make any of these let me know how you like it!

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spending 'Cents', Common Money Wasters

I am always looking for ways to scale back a bit. Especially now that I am unemployed. I was reading an article recently by Lori Bongiorno that contained a couple things I hadn't thought of yet. Things I thought maybe others hadn't heard of either and may benefit from regardless of their job situation. So here are some ways you can spend more 'centsfully' and avoid wasting money.

  • Bottled Water. It hasn't been proven in the U.S. that bottled water is safer than tap water. They New York times estimates that it costs someone $1,400 per year to drink eight glasses per day of bottled water vs 49 cents for an annual supply of tap water. A scaled back option would be to install a filter and drink filtered water. It is still healthier and less expensive.
  • Dryer Sheets. They can do more harm than good with the chemicals that are in them that can get in your clothes and then absorbed into your skin. A cheaper and healthier alternative to achieve the same result would be to use distilled vinegar and baking soda in your laundry (1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda). If you want the 'scent' a dryer sheet can give put some of your favorite essential oil onto a piece of fabric and toss it in.
  • DVDs, books, and TV shows. This is a great one. We all know about the library option to save money. You can borrow DVDs and books there for free right. But, that means you have to keep an eye on the due dates. If you don't prefer to do that check out Swaptree. They can help you trade books, movies, music, and video games. You can also eliminate your cable television service. I know you may think this is crazy but trust me I did it and its not that bad. You can see a lot of your favorite shows for free on Hulu. And, depending on which network you watch, you can catch some current episodes online. I love to watching Dancing With The Stars and although my digital converter box does give me basic channels to watch basic TV stations my schedule doesn't allow me to catch this show. Since I don't have cable television to give me the DVR option I just catch up online. ABC has all full episodes of their shows on their website.
  • Trash bags. A necessity for all of us but it doesn't mean we have to pay for them. Try using those left over grocery shopping bags that seem to always pile up (instead of throwing them away). I know we all know this but it doesn't mean we actually do it. I am guilty of this. Time to put it into action.
  • Wrapping paper. You can get creative with this one although I am not sure yet whether I am even fully on board (let me know what you think). Look through you house for items to recycle like old maps, sheet music, kids' artwork, newspapers, magazines, paper bags, and more. Wrapping gifts in newspaper or magazines doesn't have to appear tacky especially with a little forethought. Think about the gift recipient. What are they like? Are they a sports fan, gardener, or do they like to read books? Choose relevant images or wacky photos. Paper bags can be cut up and decorated (or not).
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where Will Your Tax Refund Go?

Approximately 71% of Americans will receive a tax refund this year.  Where will it go?  Let us know what your economic stimulus plan is.

Will you pay off or pay down debt?  You may not experience instant gratification, but, you will feel financial relief.

Will you invest it?  Maybe contributing to an IRA especially if you are laid off and are not currently contributing to a 401k as a result.

Will you use if for personal enrichment?  Some view this as a way to squander their return.

Will you donate it?  Afterall, many charities are hurting as well as a result of the rough economy.  It will help advance recovery and could be a chance to donate beyond your normal means.

Let us know what your economic stimulus plan is.
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Dollar Stretching Exercises For Tight Times

Regardless of whether or not we are in a recession I think times are tighter and cost of living has increased.   I've done some research and have gathered some good tips that have been shared by blog readers regarding ways we can stretch our dollar to make it go further.  Much of it has to do with our mindsets, however.  Instead of thinking "what do I need to buy?", think, "what do I have that I can use?".  That is how many got through the Great Depression.  Follow are a few things you can do to work out that dollar.  I've put them into categories.

Cooking and Eating Savings
  • Bring lunch from home.
  • Eat less. The average American consumes too much food.
  • Get creative with leftovers to reduce waste.
  • Make your own jello or pudding cups rather than buying them.  Its cheaper.
  • Always take a snack or water where ever you go. Will reduce temptation to stop at fast food.
  • Cook large amounts and freeze for busy nights.
Car and Gas Savings
  • Walk as much as you can or ride your bike
  • Keep tires properly inflated to appropriate pressure
  • Regularly maintain you car
  • Fill up with gas in the morning.  Air is cool and gas is dense. You'll get more gas and less air.
  • Use to find the lowest gas prices.
  • Don't suddenly stop or accelerate. Try to maintain consist speed to improve gas mileage.
Utility Savings
  • Keep lights off during the day.
  • Let dishes air dry after running them through the dish washer.
  • Line dry clothes by setting drying racks over heating vents during winter and outside during the spring and summer.
  • Turn off the PC if you won't be using for an hour or more.
  • Keep the freezer full.  If you have to, put milk jugs filled with water in the freezer.  It's less expensive to keep a full freezer cold than an empty one.
  • Never leave the water running when brushing your teeth, rinsing dishes, etc.  Only use the water you need.
  • Use a programmable thermostat and don't run the heater at night.
  • Use a fan.
Savings Around The House
  • Store batteries in the refrigerator.  They last longer.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Email for free samples.
  • Use water from boiling food or a dehumidifier to water your plants.
  • Use a kitchen rag instead of paper towel.
  • Wash a re-use Ziploc bags.
Entertainment Savings
  • Eat out only once per month.
  • Prepare special dinners at home, rather than going out to celebrate.
  • Go to the park and have a picnic.
  • Take advantage of 'get in free' days at museums, etc.
  • Visit your local tourism guide for special events.
  • Do free things for entertainment: hiking, free city concerts, game nights, etc.
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Be Frugal, Be Happy

There is a connection between frugality and happiness.  For some it may be hard to believe because some people may equate being frugal to not spending money on things that make you happy.  In reality, you can be frugal with things that end up allowing you to be able to save money to spend on things that make you happy.  Of course this is if its done correctly.   

You must have a higher purpose for the effort.  Don't be prudent just for the sake of prudence.   For example, if your purpose is your family you may work toward saving on day to day basics such as groceries or energy so that you have money to put towards college for the kids or a family vacation.  You can take this a step further in being frugal on a vacation to make everlasting happy memories.  Finding ways to cut the cost down on lodging (condo rentals, hotel lodging, etc.) and car rental can give you more money to spend on a fun excursion.  The same can be used if you are single.  Perhaps your higher purpose is getting a college degree or buying a new car or going to that big concert.  By being frugal on other things you can save money to put toward those that make you happy.

The level of happiness tends to be higher for experiential purchases vs. material purchases.  Experiential purchases would include things that create a memory to hold on to.  These purchases can also make those around you happy.  Referring back to my previous example with the family vacation, being able to go on fun excursion can be fun and memorable for the entire family and not just the buyer.  While experiential purchase create more happiness, according to studies by Ryan Howell at San Francisco State University, the level of the experience doesn't affect the level of happiness.  For example, a $400 weekend getaway can provide as much satisfaction as a $40 dinner.

To read more on this topic, visit Laura Rowley's blog.
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Couch Is Your Couch

Summer is coming and that means vacation time is coming.  Are you planning one?  Thinking of taking a smaller one?  After all the economy is a bit tough on the pocket book, right?  Well, hold on a minute before you think further.  Maybe you can take the big vacation after all.  Maybe even the trip you wanted to take to your favorite international destination.  I know what you are thinking, that's way too expensive for me right now.  What if you could go and didn't have to pay any lodging?  That could change the cost of the trip a bit.  That is what Casey Fenton was thinking when he found an inexpensive plane ticket to Iceland back in 2000 and had a idea to email 1,500 students at the University of Iceland to see if he could stay there.  This led to the idea of Couch Surfing.

Per wikipedia, the CouchSurfing Project is a free, Internet-based, international hospitality service, and it is currently the largest hospitality exchange network.  The project was commenced in 2003 and formally launched on January 1, 2004.  To date there are more than one million registered users.  You don't have to offer up your home to be a user of the site.  You can use it solely to 'surf' for a 'couch' to stay on.   After a traveler finds accommodation, the communication is consensual between the traveler (a.k.a. surfer) and host. They work out logistics between them that satisfy both parties.  It is expected to be free but the surfer may offer to pay for food expense or compensate in other forms such as helping to clean up a little when they stay, etc.  Also, the host can also accommodate by offering to the surfer to show them the sites around town.  Its really an added bonus to receive that from someone who lives there.  The site also offers other safety tips if you are thinking of 'surfing'.

But, how safe is this?  Feels as though you would be staying with a total stranger.  First, keep in mind there is correspondence between the two parties before arriving.  You have some time to get to know each other a bit.  Also, CouchSurfing has implemented things to help strengthen the trust circle.  Their network is built with friend  link-strength indicators and testimonials. They have a voucher system where members can vouch for each other (referrals).  And they also have a verification process where they validate name and address. Once you complete the entire process your member profile is marked as being validated.  So if you are surfing you can choose to interact with only those members that are validated if you choose.

I have not yet used this service but would love to hear from anyone who has.  If you have used CouchSurfing can you share your experience?
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Can We Be Sympathetic As We Cut Spending In Our Budgets?

I was at a networking event last week and I met a man who is a small business owner.  He owns a nail salon.  We were talking about how business was and he was sharing how hard it was to run a small business particular like his in this economy.  Not only in Michigan but in general.   People are cutting back and are becoming a little more frugal and getting your nails done at the salon is one of those things that is the first to go.  It is considered a luxury item that some can live without.  

This got me thinking though.  As I have been networking over the past few months to find a job I have seen how so many people have pulled together to help each other out in their job search through referrals, information sharing regarding companies that are hiring, etc. Yes, this is part of networking in general and has always been this way. But, its different now. Some people that weren't willing to take an extra step before to help are more willing now due to our current economic situation.  Or at least that has been my experience.  People are compassionate toward one another to find a new job and to try to get people back to work.  Maybe we can also be compassionate toward the small business owners when we are cutting back our spending.  Maybe even prevent more jobs getting lost in the process.

As we tighten up on spending and before we cut the small things out lets stop and think about those businesses.  How can we still support them if we can't even support ourselves?  Well, maybe instead of cutting things out of the budget entirely we can just cut back so that the small businesses are taking as big of a hit.  Here are some ideas.  

1.  Nail Salon.  If you get tips and visit the salon bi-weekly to get fills the cost can add up in the long run.  Instead of deciding not to get your nails done at all, consider spreading out your visits to the salon to lessen the cost.  Or if you can't afford tips maybe you can get manicure's.  They are less expensive and the salon still retains your business.

2.  Hair Salon. The same can apply here.  How often do you get your hair cut?  Maybe spread out the visits here as well.  Or if you get your hair colored and have to go once per month for touch ups consider spreading them out a bit.  Hair color can get pricey.  An alternative is to switch to non permanent colors.  Non permanent colors fade but you won't have roots that need to be recolored so often thus you can go longer periods of time before having to get it colored again.  Consider this before you stop going all together and buy the over the counter at home coloring kits. 

3.  Lawn Service. Summer is coming.  Do you normally hire a lawn service to cut your lawn? Thinking of stopping the service this year?  Before you do and take away business the lawn service is relying on to survive consider working with them to cut back on your service schedule.  Maybe have them come every other week to where you then could cut your own lawn when they are not scheduled to come.  It is cutting back on your lawn care expense but is also still the lawn service to retain business.

4.  Dinner Out.  Do you eat out often and enjoy it and can no longer afford to?  Let's say there are just two of you.  While this may seem like a stretch its really not for some where times are tough financially.  Still go out and enjoy dinner but change the routine. Maybe sit in the bar area and order one meal to share.  We know some places give you enough food for two people anyhow.  This way you can still enjoy a night out and the restaurant is still receiving some of your business.

I think you get the idea.  Think a little before you rush to eliminate an item or activity out of the budget.  Get creative.  They may be a work around.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do You Even Need To Buy Cleaner?

Do you even need to buy cleaner?  Well, no not really.  It these tough economic times if you are in a pinch to find places to save a little money consider making your own cleaner.  Not only does it keep things green but its a great way to save a few bucks you can use elsewhere. 

Consumer Reports shares products that can be used to make cleaners and what those products can be used for.  Some include:  white vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda.  These can be combined to make common household cleaning products.

  • Sanitizer:  You can sanitize cutting boards by spraying them with vinegar and then spraying them with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  • Tub and Tile:  You can clean the tub and tiles by mixing 1 2/3 cup baking soda,  1/2 cup liquid soap, and 1/2 cup water.  Right when you are ready add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  The vinegar will create a chemical reaction with the other ingredients so you don't want to add it too soon.
  • Furniture Polish:  To make furniture polish simply mix olive oil and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio and polish with a soft cloth.  To clean windows simply add 3 tablespoons of vinegar per one quart of water to a spray bottle.
  • Air Freshener:  Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of vinegar (or lemon juice), and 2 cups of hot water into a spray bottle and spritz your room.
  • Wood Floors:  Add 1 cup of vinegar per pail of hot water.
  • Laundry Detergent Booster:  To reduce the amount of detergent you use try adding baking or washing soda.  These products soften the water and increase the detergent's power.  For liquid detergent, add 1/2 cup of baking soda at the start of the washing cycle.   For powdered detergent, add it during the rinse cycle.
For many more ideas including handling mold, dry cleaning, carpet cleaning, cleaning toilet bowls and drains, check out Consumer Reports Greener Choices by clicking here.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Designer Clothes At Non-Designer Prices

Do you want the designer look but can't afford the designer prices?  There are ways you can still have that exact look without wearing imitation designer clothes and without paying the price.  Here are a few tips.

1.  Know when to buy.  You can save money if you buy at the right times when sales kick in.  Keep an eye on your favorite stores and you will start to see a trend of when the sales are held.  If you don't mind being slightly behind the curve on the trend you can also shop at the end of the season to stock up for the next season.  Step out to your favorite store now.  I am sure you will see winter clothes already on clearance.  Maybe pick up a few things for next winter at much much lower prices.  Wait long enough and you could save up to 70%!

2.  Shop at discount stores especially high end ones.  You can find lower end designer clothes at reasonable prices at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.  Should you want to raise the bar go to Loehmann's.  Loehmann's has some of the best deals on high end fashion.

3.  Shop at discount stores online.  I wanted to buy an English Laundry shirt for my brother.  When I went to the mall all the shirts I saw were in the $90 price range which was way out of my budget.  I knew I could probably find one cheaper elsewhere. had some for $23!  Talk about a savings!  As an added bonus, also has low shipping charges.   Another great site is Smart Bargains.  For those that are high end fashion addicts check out BluFly.

4.  Visit retail, vintage, and thrift stores.  You never know what people get rid of and where you will find a bargain.  Patience is also needed.  I have had several experiences where I have found brand new designer clothes with tags still on at thrift stores.  I even once found a pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes that were hardly worn and only paid $5.00!
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Use What You Have - DIY Tech Fixes

Paul Boudin of the Wall Street Journal wrote recently how we may be entering a time similiar to postwar Japan where their economy wasn't so good so people found multiple uses for common household products.  Some engineers have shared some great tips on ways to solve high tech issues spending money.  There are some great ideas.  Its worth trying to save money on repairs.

1.  Cell phone battery issues.  Does your cell battery not hold a charge good.  Do you carry it in your pocket?  Batteries hold charge better in cooler places.  If you carry yours in your pocket try changing to your purse or belt loop.

2.  Dry ink cartridge.  Has you ink cartridge began to run dry in the middle of a big print job?  Try taking it out and running a blow dryer over it for a few minutes.  The heat will loosen the remaining ink to finish the job.

3.  Cell phone in water.  Ever dropped your cell phone in water?  If this happens remove the batter immediately. Then wipe the everything off with a towel.  Put your cell in a jar with rice. Yes, rice.  Rice has a chemical affinity to water and will act like a magnet and draw it out.

4.  Crashed hard drive.  If you hard drive ever crashes put it in the freezer.  Yes!  Put it in the freezer overnight.  The cold will contract parts and sometimes free anything that is binding.  A tip from Fred Langa on his Windows Secret Website.

For more tips check out Paul Boudin's article.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Use Gas More Efficiently

While gas prices seem to be holding steady near or under the $2 mark it is still high and will probably increase again in the future.  Why not get in the mode of using gas more efficiently now and making it a habit.  Helping to save money in the end. While I am sure we all have learned of ways to operate our vehicles better to save gas including using gradual acceleration, using cruise control to maintain efficient speeds, and performing regular maintenance there are other things we can do outside of the way we operate our vehicles.

1.  For working professionals.  Use the phone a little more rather than making in person visits to clients.  I am not suggesting elimination of visits.  Just try scaling back a bit.  Or call before meetings to ensure they are still on.  If they are canceled it will save you a trip.

2. Make a driving plan.  Try to make appointments that are located near each other around the same time to eliminate driving back and forth.  Or plan your errands.  When I go to the gym which is 10 miles from my house I make stops along the way.  It saves me having to drive back out again after I get home.

3.  Park and walk.  Do you have appointments that are within blocks of each other. Rather than drive around looking for the perfect spot for each appointment try parking in a central location and walking to them.  It will also provide a little excercise.

4.  Adjust your working hours.  If you employer allows it try altering your working hours around rush hour.  Sitting in rush hour traffic uses more gas.

5.  Cut down on eating out for lunch at work.  Eating in the office more often will eliminate the daily trips to get lunch.

For even more tips please visit Rhonda Abrams, 'Strategies: How To Save Money On Gas'.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Big Offers for Detroiters

Great Stuff and WWJ Newsradio 950 have paired up to offer some great deals from Michigan Half Off. Be sure to check out this week’s special offers, including discounts to Angelina's Italian BistroGirlie Girlie Spa and BoutiqueSigns By Your Design, and a whole lot moreClick here or above to find out more.  There are lots of great deals and you can register your email address to receive alerts for new deals as they become available.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Use The Internet To Save On Groceries

I can remember growing up how great my Dad was at saving money on groceries for the family he raised on a single income.  But, I also can recall all that was involved to do so.  The time spent cutting coupons.  And knowing when to use the coupons.  This meant keeping an eye on all the sales ads to match the coupons up to.  But, also knowing whether it even made sense to use the coupon on a sale item.  This involved consumer knowledge of just knowing your prices for products and when the prices were hitting the lowest.  Basically, it involved a lot of time.  My Dad became a master at this without the use of technology (things weren't as sophisticated then).  We joked about it often and at one point even bought him a license plate that read 'Coupon King'.  With the internet we can now save time AND money so easily.  

Laura Rowley recently wrote about this and in her article even spoke to how you could save $400 a month on groceries.  All through the internet!  Here are some quick tips.

Watch the prices.  This doesn't have to be time consuming manual anymore.  There is a site called 'The Grocery Game'  that tracks prices for thousands of products in hundreds of stores. This allows you to see when products hit their lowest price.  

You can also print coupons off the Internet.  The Grocery Game does offer them.  Other sites do as well including: and  The Coupon Mom. While The Coupon Mom is a great source and does track sales across multiple stores as well it does not tell you when the lowest prices hit like The Grocery Game.   Also, The Coupon Mom is solely funded by advertising so bear with the navigation of the site.  Additionally, this may not be for everyone.  You have to plan well and have storage because you may find that hitting products when they are low to get the best value may mean stocking up on some items that may keep well over time.  But, save a lot in the long run.  

Plan, plan, plan.  Plan ahead and be flexible of brands.  Also, keep an eye on unit prices. Retailers today point everyone towards buying big or in bulk.  You may find that the better deal is in the smaller size.  Learn more from Gary Foreman at The Dollar Stretcher.

Do you shop a warehouse store to save money?  If you do, did you know that has a grocery service and you can buy in bulk for non perishable items and receive free shipping  if you spend more than $25!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Great Money Savings Tips

I just read an article by Brett Arends from the Wallstreet Journal Online (Small Investments With Big Returns) that had some good ways to save a few bucks. With the state of the economy today this could be helpful.  Here are a few tips that he shared which I thought were great ideas.
  • "Buy a bread maker.  You can buy one for $55.  If it saves you just $4 a week on store-bought bread, that's $208 a year.  A 280% return."
  • Don't forget about the library. "If it even saves you $10 a month on books thats a savings of $120 a year."
  • Grow your own herbs, vegetables, etc. We all know this one and some of us have tried it. Others may not be able to.  "But, if you spend even $10 on seeds and saved a mere $50 on the year. That is a 400% return on investment."
  • Make your own coffee to take to work.  A good thermos may run you $20, $10 for filters and papers, and maybe $60 for ground coffee for the year. "Then skip the $4 per day drive thru. It saves you $1,000 per year!"
Hmmmmm...... Something to think about.

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