Jul 232012
 

A few months ago, I did a post on small savings – all the wee little ways I try and save some moola here and there. I loved all the comments  from posts and there’s been a requests for more – so I’ve decided to try and make this a little series. Thus presenting – Small Savings, Part Two! A few more of my favorite ways to save a little money, and some great reader suggestions from Part One are included at the end too.

Spafinder via Costco. I love massages. LOVE! There are few things more relaxing in the world to me. Unfortunately, though I adore spas in general, they are a splurge and I always agonize a bit over the price. My method of making the bill hurt a little less has always been to buy Spafinder gift cards at Costco. They are available at $80 for a $100 Spafinder gift certificate, giving you an instant 20% off. And a ton of really great spas and hair salons take Spafinder – not just Watercourse but my favorite spas in Las Vegas too (Canyon Ranch at the Venetian and the spa at the Mandarin Oriental).

Final note – these gift cards are only available seasonally so when they pop up, I try to stock up a bit (they’re up online now). If Costco is out though, I can always find at least a 10% coupon code for Spafinder on the web. Try here.

Our monstrous monthly Comcast bill

Comcast. Is it sad that two of the major “must haves” of my daily life are cable television and high speed internet? Pitiful as it may be, our Comcast bills are pretty high each month – yet we’re basically trapped, since we can’t give up cable or internet. So every ~12 months or so, I log into Comcast live chat and negotiate our bill down a bit. I’m polite, tell them that our full bill ($170 or so) is just too high, and reference their promotional rates in our area for the same package (usually around $99). I never get the bill taken down to the $99 but typically they meet me somewhere in between, and I usually get more channels added each time as well. I re-negotiate every 12 months because the contracts are usually for a year. This is a very low pain negotiation (for those who mentioned being nervous in this post to negotiate) and a great way to practice! If you have questions on this, feel free to leave them in the comments.

My recent library picks

Library. I love reading and I have an unruly, huge book collection. Can I make a little confession here and state that one of the reasons I have so many books is that for the longest time – I avoided the library? Too many high school aged memories of out of date books, musty smells and difficult to navigate catalogs. About a year ago though I ventured into our local library out of curiosity and was amazed – it was so beautiful inside, with a coffee shop and tons of bright natural light and spaces to read.  I could reserve books online and then pick them up a few days alter, all bundled together and held for me. Amazing! I was so in love with it all that I actually joined the board. Now, I still buy a lot of books on Amazon, but for books that I suspect are a “one time read” (like the Sookie Stackhouse series), I go to the library. A great way to save a lot of money on books.

*****

And now, here are a few reader contributions from Part One of this series – there were so many great ones (I encourage you to go and read them all) that I’m sorry I couldn’t include more!

Cee also mentioned that she loved the library: Libraries are like my second home. Aside from textbooks, I think I own two paperback novels. I just can’t bring myself to spend money on them when I can just wait a few days.

Urban Fashion Jungle recommended pre gaming (a trick I liberally employed in grad school)  - To save money when going out we typical pregame at the house so we buy our own bottles. This works for me since I live in the Downtown area and drinks are NOT cheap. After three drinks I could have purchased a 750ml of alcohol. Just sayin’.  

Couture Coco on cleansers: I switched to a normal priced brand natural unperfumed face cleanser and saved my money for expensive day + night creams that get to stay on my face instead

Pret a Porter P on saving $$ on dry cleaning : I like The Laundress wool/cashmere shampoo. it’s much cheaper and less damaging (cracked buttons) than taking knits to the dry cleaners. I’ve even seen on their website/blog of them home washing chanel jackets and wool blazers, but I’m not so brave myself!

Stephanie Nguyen on cleaning supplies: Vinegar + water is the ultimate cleaning solution (especially for people with dogs)! :)

Ella Pretty on home brewed drinks when going out: I like my home-made coffee and tea better than store-bought ones…so I buy the dixie insulated paper cups with lids – and make my own tea or coffee before heading out.

Dagmara on saving on furniture: Oh and I practically bought all my furnishings secondhand on craigslist or at antique shows.

 

Thank you all for reading! And please leave some more of your favorite ways to save money in the comments – I adore reading them and I’ll make sure to keep including contributions in further posts.

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  34 Responses to “Small Savings – Part Two”

  1. I second the cleanser tip – a dermatologist told me to spend more of my hard earned scheckels on things that will stay on my face for longer than 60 seconds.

    Some of my own shameless savings tips:
    Shopping ethnic markets. Produce is cheaper, and there are many exotic fruits and vegetables to try! I tend to stay away from the meat though – it just looks icky.
    Reusing plastic bags (from the outside of bread, the ones they give you at grocery storesetc.) as garbage bags & plastic containers (e.g. the ones from big tubs of yogurt or sour cream or what have you).
    Reusing ziploc bags a couple times. My mom is hardcore and will wash them too, but I just tend to reuse them a few times if they look clean, and toss them when they start to look old.
    Putting water in hand soap/body wash containers when it’s about half full. Also works for shampoo.
    Having a bottle of nail polish thinner handy to revive old, thick polishes.
    Taking care of my shoes and bags, and regularly taking them in to get conditioned/repaired at the cobbler (costs less in the long run than buying new stuff), same goes for mending clothes right away if I lose a button etc.
    Taking old jeans and having them hemmed to shorts, if the bottom is all frayed and unacceptable as long jeans (jeans full of holes & scuffs are a pet peeve of mine).

    That was a long list… But I’ve learned a lot of this from my parents and grandparents who learned to live frugally while Korea was still developing after the war!

    • Ines this was amazing, thank you for writing this all out! Some great tips here, the putting the water in when soap/body washes are half full is something I hadn’t thought about! Great tips.

      • Oh, I should add – don’t reuse the plastic containers from yogurt etc. to store hot food or to microwave stuff (BPAs and other scary chemically whatnots). I just use it to keep cold stuff – like pre-minced garlic or that one half of onion that I’m going to use after. A quick post it and sharpie lets you know what’s inside, even if it’s not clear like the fancier Rubbermaid containers.

      • Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I
        clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
        Anyhow, just wanted to say superb blog!

  2. Thank you so much for this next installment and including my little tip :-) Since your original post, I’ve embarked on a big change in my shopping habit and closet which is still in the early stages (so there’s time for it to go pearshape!).
    Look forward to the next post!

  3. The comcast tip was AWESOME. I always run into this and end up switching between Comcast and ATT which is a pain in the butt. every year!

  4. Hi Katherine!

    If you like spas and travel a lot, booking hotels via http://www.whatahotel.com or through Amex (platinum) travel often yields extras like room upgrades, late checkouts, and spa credits.

    I must confess, I buy so many books because I have an irrational fear of overdue library fees (some recurring nightmares about finding overdue books years later – yikes)

    • Thank you latkes! I used to use Amex FHR and need to get a card again. But I now use an independent agent who gets me the same upgrades, sometimes better with the same rates – let me know if you want his contact details, just email me!

      I’m scared of library fees too :)

  5. Thanks for including my tip…seriously still loving my homemade coffee LOL – whenever my friends come over they ask me to make it for them (1 tsp Taster’s Choice classic roast or Nescafe Gold Blend, 2 tsp turbinado sugar, 1.5 tsp coffeemate) – I just love Nescafe so much!

    My sister and I used to use Way Spa certificates at our local spa for facials – but they started giving us attitude about it – ugh! If they didn’t want to honor them, they shouldn’t be affiliated with them! No surprise the spa went out of business soon after…may have to give the spa coupons another chance – I’m long over due for a facial!

  6. I’m a huge fan of the library. Umm…yes, I’ve incurred my fair share of fines but thankfully, the total amounted to less than a couple of books over a 3 year period.

    Personally, I like to think savings as savings so on most occasions (unless I’m beyond desperate), I refuse to dip into it when it comes to clothes or bags. I have the 1 in 1 out rule so I sell what I no longer use to pay for the new stuff.

    In the UK, there are programs like nectar, quidco as well as Avios (airmiles) etc. I’ve joined all 3 and I get money back each time I purchase anything from eBay, Amazon etc. I like having friends over for coffee and a slice of cake. I live right in town nestled amongst tons of cafes. I just don’t see the point of going to a cafe which costs me £2 per cup plus tips. A bag of good quality ground coffee beans cost no more than £4 but I get more than 30 cups of coffee from it. As for the cake, it costs no more than £2.50 to whip up a cake to feed 8 people. Each trip to a cafe costs me £5-6 so I’d much rather save that money.

  7. Great blog. I am now following you via Bloglovin’!

  8. I need to try that with Comcast; the bills are a little ridiculous but at the same time, I don’t want to be cut off!

  9. Hi Katherine,
    Have you considered getting a Kindle? There are a lot of ways to get ebooks for free. A lot of libraries offer ebooks that you can get delivered through a simple wi-fi connection. I used to read books exclusively from the library (because I’m a cheapskate :P), but then I didn’t have time to go to the library in college, ironically enough, so I just read ebooks off my computer. I ended up just buying a Kindle due to eye strain, but I actually really love having so many books at hand with such a portable device. There are sites like gutenberg.org that have a ton of free ebooks that are available legally because their copyright has expired – mostly classics though. Amazon also has listed a bunch of resources to get free ebooks: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=2245146011
    I also found another site that was really helpful for tracking deals/sales at various stores. It’s called Hipiti (hipiti.com). I believe it’s in beta right now, but I found access through some blogs it was featured on (a quick google search would probably suffice). Basically, it just sends you one email a day with all the sales/deals from a bunch of stores you have selected to receive information from (e.g. J. Crew, Gap, etc). They’ve pretty much got all the major stores covered so it’s pretty useful just to be in the know for when to go shopping.

    • I love Hipiti! I need to sign up, they actually emailed me to :) I do have a Kindle and you are right – there are a ton of e-book resources out there, thank you for the reminder – I need to get on it!

    • I love getting free books onto my Kindle. The free ones offered on Amazon are actually pretty good. But if there’s something I really want that’s not free, I’ll borrow it from the public library and have it sent to my Kindle. The loans usually last 14 days and once it ends, the book becomes unavailable on your Kindle. A trick I learned to keep it for longer than the normal alloted time is to turn off your wi-fi. If the library can’t connect to your Kindle, it stays there until you turn the wi-fi back on =] so download a few books and turn off your wi-fi so you can read it past the return date!

  10. That’s a great post, especially thanks for sharing the spafinder certs! That is a big score! One thing that Mr. Classy and I did for bills is that, he got me a really cheap phone plan ($39.99 a month I think) for unlimited data and some minutes. That’s why I don’t use iphone because those plans are really costly compare to this deal with Sprint. I think it is gone now but he went some forum and bought these employee plans and transfer it under our name.

    and did I mention skyauction.com for hotels?

  11. I love these tips! I do so many things to save – I use sale aggregator e-mails or alerts (Sale bite for store e-mail or slick deals/fatwallet for keyword search.) to gather up coupon codes, check out the largest cash back rewards (evreward is good), and only then do I shop.

    I save a bit on food (we try to go out only once or twice a week) by prepping my produce during the weekend. People eat out not only to socialize but to avoid cooking time! I’m trying to spread out prep time during the weekends so I can cook quickly during the week.

    I always carry an Earthlust water bottle with me to save on bottled water everywhere (my husband is always thirsty!) We try to buy coupons through group deal sites to try out local services and it is pretty great.

    I have so many more tips (especially for travel!) and am writing a post on that soon! Reward sites like hotels.com or agoda are great though if you stay at a variety of hotels, but still want to collect a free night. I’ve already written about clothing savings and also love to buy directly from others via Purseforum (stalking a Chanel or two now)!

    xoxo,
    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  12. I love the point you made on visiting the library. I was an English major in college, and all the years leading up to it, my dad and I always went on our weekends to pick up books. I am a strong believer that the tablet will never replace the same feeling of flipping through a page or the smell of a familiar classic :)

    My favorite money-saving tactic has been to cook dinner at home during the weekdays, and to make my own lunch as much as I can. It’s not to say that I skimp on the types of produce and meat that I buy, but I don’t have to worry about gratuity, and in some cases, I can buy even better products, than say, if I ate at the popular restaurant. I usually buy my salads in bulk and pack them a few days in advance. My colleagues used to laugh when I had my own drawer in the fridge at work, but after watching me slim down and fatten my wallet, I see more folks eating in during lunch!

    Cheers.

  13. I adore this post Katherine! To tell you honestly I learned so much about your blog. From bags, to saving tips and the most recent I value is your post on negotiation. Learning tips from you and from your reader means a lot in my everyday living.

    Thanks goodness that spa service is cheap here in the Philippines. For a spa nearby it’s about $8 and when I want it luxe, somewhere and around less than $19. I also learned from my officemate before that here you can wave the credit card annual fee as long as you could talk to somebody or give a written request but I’m too shy to negotiate then. Now it just pop on my mind when you tackle about the cable/internet fee.I should try to negotiate next time.

    For saving tips I have been a member of my loyal supermarket store for years now and convert points into peso value. Usually I end up getting the reward in December in time for Christmas shopping/groceries. So I can cost free around $100-150/ annually. It’s a great deal for me.

    • Aww thank you! That’s so sweet :) I really really want to visit the Philippines – your description of the cheap spa services just makes it sound more alluring!

  14. The library is good for dvds too. I haven’t rented a dvd in years.

  15. GREAT TIPS AS USUAL KAT. I THOUGHT ABOUT LIBRARY BOOKS BUT I LOVE BOOKS TOO MUCH I RE-READ THEM OVER AND OVER. HERE IN DUBAI WE SAVE A LOT WITH THESE CARDS CALLED ‘EMIRATES PLATINUM CARD’ AND ‘EMIRATES PILOTS CLUB’ THAT GIVES GREAT DISCOUNTS (I GUESS THERE’S A PERK TO BEING A PILOT OR PILOT’S WIFE HERE) AT RESTAURANTS, BOUTIQUES AND SALONS. THERE’S ALSO THIS ANNUAL VOUCHER BOOK CALLED ‘ENTERTAINERS’ THAT WE CAN BUY AND IT GIVES BUY 1 GET 1 FREE KIND OF OFFER FOR FINE DINING, CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES AND EVEN HOTEL ROOMS! WE SAFE A LOT THIS WAY ESPECIALLY WHEN EATING OUT, PERFECT FOR THE 4 OF US :)

    MRS JACK OF ALL TRADES DAILY where Fashion and Food collide!
    http://mrsjackofalltradesdaily.blogspot.com/

  16. The tip about comcast was so awesome! I’m doing this this week!! Love it.

    Red Soles and Red Wine

  17. I’ve been eating out less by preparing a lunch. I also try to save money but not tempting myself. I avoid stores to not go over budget. Also I save loads of my money with my Netflix. I rarely go out to rent or see a movie outside of my house.

  18. I love the library too. I recently got a Kindle, but I don’t use it even a tenth as often as I could because there are so many great selections available for free. I only wish my library would allow me to take out e-books.

    My “small savings” include smuggling my own snacks into the movie theatre (inside a huge purse, of course), charging all purchases to my credit card so I can collect cashback rewards, and making my own fancy coffee with a vietnamese drip coffee maker!

  19. I always look at the weekly flyers for drug stores like CVS and Rite Aid and compare who has the best deals. Then I figure out how much $ back I will be getting, a lot of times it’s in CVS dollars but it’s still good to use on pretty much everything except rx’s. I also save all my change and exchange @ coin star for a gift card or cash. And I always grocey shop @ giant or Safeway where I can earn points toward my gas.

  20. I share the same love you have for spa. I love massages ALOT! The best thing that my bf did was he bought this package which was like I think a 48 hours spa package for me and it took me a whole year to finish it! =D

  21. Prolific thinking!Though it’s called ‘small’ saving but as we know that lots of tiny stone make a mountain so store of small savings can be a huge after a specific time so we should continue it. Thanks for inform about he gift cards.

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