July 2011

Save On Groceries: Kick the List

The Shop Smart Magazine Blog had a great article recently on grocery shopping strategy: go list-less! This flies in the face of everything your parents ever told you. (Or in my case, my grandmother.) The conventional wisdom is to always bring a list to the grocery store. "Stick to the list!" is the old mantra.
But while this is a good way to plan ahead and reduce impulse purchases, it simply doesn't go far enough. Faced with escalating food costs, just about anything that isn't on sale is essentially an overpriced impulse item.

2 Situations Where It's Okay To Haggle

Attempting to haggle in the wrong situation will get you some pretty dirty looks in America. In other countries, haggling is the norm. Things don't just have a price, you have to bargain for it. But for the most part, in the United States, things cost what they cost.
That being said, there are some situations where it's acceptable to haggle. And you can get some pretty sweet deals, if you know when (and how!) to ask!

The Best of Amazon's $5 Record Sale

Amazon may be kind of a jerk sometimes (hey, I miss bookstores), but their mp3 purchasing system has always been my favorite. Inexpensive full albums, good quality sound, no DRM. That's more than iTunes has been able to say. I've never bought music on iTunes and probably never will. When it comes to buying music while bypassing that whole physical record business, Amazon has been my guy.

And they have fantastic sales. Every so often, they'll put a hundred albums up for five dollars each. And they're not your standard dollar bin fare. No Now 32 or Enrique Iglesias's greatest hits to be seen here. Just solid, classic music for much cheaper than usual. And it's all digital, so you don't have to worry about scratched discs or bad vibes. 

Amazon's latest music sale is a solid roundup, but it's only going on through the end of the month. If you don't already have these records and you have a spare fiver or four somewhere, do yourself a favor and fill these gaps in your catalog. 

Comparison Shopping: Toilet Paper

It seems like every day the relationship between shoppers and companies becomes more adversarial. For example, I recently discovered that it has become essentially impossible to comparison shop toilet paper. Not even between different brands, but between different varieties of the same brand!

I was in the market for some Charmin Extra Strong. I found myself with two choices: 12 "Super" rolls for $7.99, or 9 "Mega" rolls for $9.98. Standing there in the aisle with my calculator in hand, I still couldn't get the numbers to add up properly.

Where Do You Draw The Line With Store Brands?

Today on Reddit someone asked "what store brand items do you particularly go for?" Frankly, I find the opposite question to be a lot more interesting: for which items will you NEVER buy the store brand equivalent?

I have a short list of things where I always buy the national brand:
SODA

I never ever buy the store brand cola. I have yet to find one that's worth drinking over tap water. The same goes for root beer, which has yet to be reproduced palatably as a store brand.

Amazon: Allerclear Loratadine Tablets (10mg), 365 count - $12.65

FREE shipping with $25 or Amazon Prime

While supplies last, Amazon is offering this Kirkland Signature Non Drowsy Allerclear Loratadine Tablets, Antihistamine, 10mg, 365-Count for only $12.65 with FREE shipping if you spend over $25 or have Amazon Prime. If you suffer from allergies - this will be one of the best investments you can make - it's pretty much a year supply (if you take as directed) and at only 3 cents a pill its a price that can't be beat. In case you are wondering, Kirkland Signature is the "generic" brand for Costco and generally just as good (or better) that the original!

Features:

  • 24 Hour Relief
  • For Indoor and Outdoor Allergies
  • Compare to Claritin Active Ingredient

Borders Liquidation: The Opposite of a Sale

Adding insult to injury, or just demonstrating how clueless they have been all along? Reports from the field are that the "liquidation sales" at various Borders stores not only price books higher than you can buy them for at places like Amazon - they also set prices higher than they were at the same exact Borders store, the week before the bankruptcy was announced!
The most likely theory is that Borders management wants to maximize their profits, and are counting on the magic words "liquidation sale" to make consumers' brains turn off as they hit the stacks. Unfortunately, they are probably right on both counts.

I'm open about being sad that Borders is dead, for a lot of reasons. From a frugality perspective, I had really come to count on their constant flow of 40% off email coupons. Whenever you wanted to buy a book, you were within a few days of getting another coupon. And if you had a (free) Borders Rewards membership, you got free shipping from borders.com at the $25 mark.


This combination was a pretty sweet deal, and it soured me on used books. I had forgotten how nice a brand new book really is! So unmarked, untrammeled, unfingered, non-grubby, no page corners dog-eared. Just a pristine book, waiting for you in its lovely box at the post office.
And now that Borders is gone? (Leaving behind them the best example of an anti-sale I can think of) How are we to get the best deal on books? Barnes and Noble is no help - their membership club costs money, which is an automatic non-starter.

Amazon: Weber 22.5-Inch One-Touch Gold Charcoal Grill ( 751001) - $122.33

FREE shipping!

For a limited time, Amazon is selling this Weber 22.5-Inch One-Touch Gold Charcoal Grill ( 751001) for only $122.33 with FREE shipping. This is actually a pretty amazing price for this model and one of the best, long lasting grills on th market!

Features:

  • The Weber One-Touch Gold charcoal grill has a heavy-gauge porcelain enamel that prevents rust
  • The One-Touch cleaning and venting system allows you to empty the ash in seconds without getting your hands dirty
  • The grill is made of black heavy-gauge porcelain-enameled steel lid and bowl
  • The hinged cooking grate allows for easy re-fueling
  • 10-year limited warranty

iTunes Store: FREE iPhone / iPad Games

For a limited time, the iTunes Store is offering a few really fun FREE iPhone / iPad Games, including:

Airport Mania: Non-Stop Flights By Lemon Games, SL: Hundreds of airplanes are on their way to your airport! In Airport Mania: Non-Stop Flights, you'll face the challenge of coordinating an endless number of incoming flights for as long as you can.

CashMachine By GreenMines Games: CashMachine is a puzzle game based on the match3 concept but with a innovative idea. Each time you match 3 or more items of the same kind, they transform into another kind of item of higher value.

Animal Crash! By EzMoBo: a physics based animal crashing game in which the goal is TOTAL DESTRUCTION!  The bad bad lizards have pushed the animals around for far too long, so the animals assembled their ragtag group of friends to go and show the lizards just exactly who’s the boss!

Walmart: Various Wii Games - $10 with FREE Shipping

While supplies last, Walmart is offering a selection of Wii Games for only $10 with FREE shipping, including:

Spiderwick Chronicles (Wii): Plunge deep into a fantasy world full of mystical creatures when you join the Grace children on their quest to discover the secrets of The Spiderwick Chronicles. Based on Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Films' movie adaptation of the best-selling book series, the video game lets players take on the roles of Jared, Simon and Mallory Grace as they enter the hidden world of the unseen.

Deal or No Deal (Wii): Based on the popular TV gameshow, Deal or No Deal lets you play as either the contestant or the banker and also offers a variety of minigames.

Mushroom Men (Wii): gives players the opportunity to jump into the fantastic microcosm that is the backyard battlefield. Take control of the crusade, creating devastating weapons from everyday items and teaming up with other sentient plant forms that will leave the enemy sliced and diced.

Monster Lab (Wii): set in an eerie, supernatural world where the evil Baron Mharti rules the region with a cruel hand. The player takes on the role of an apprentice scientist who must perform a vast array of intricate experiments to create their very own monster from over 150 available monster parts. Taking control of your monster, the player can then explore the land; searching for ingredients to make more monster parts, hunting out other monsters to defeat in combat and uncovering fun quests and challenges.

Word Jong Party (Wii): The smash online and Nintendo DS puzzler WordJong is coming to Wii with all-new multiplayer modes, gorgeous new visuals and more in WordJong Party! Use a set of lettered tiles to create words and clear the board in both single-player and intense four-player modes.

Monster Truck Mayhem (Wii): In Monster Trucks Mayhem, you can get behind the wheel of your favorite monster truck and cause all kinds of damage.

DONT FORGET - you can also get 2% cash back on this purchase with MrRebates. If you are a new member to MrRebates you will get $5 just for signing up! See my review of MrRebates (and Ebates) for more information!

Goggles4U: Prescription Eyeglasses - FREE

Plus $4.99 shipping

For a limited time, Goggles4U is offering a pair of Prescription Eyeglasses absolutely FREE whgen you use coupon code 69Tfxl4c0o during check out (frames $4.99 and under are the only ones included). You will have to pay for shipping ($4.99), but the frames and 1.50 standard lenses are included. Additional options may incur slightly higher, but reasonable, charges.

This deal is actually slightly better than the Coastal Contacts one that pops up occasionally - the difference being that the Coastal Contact deal generally has a few "name brand / designer" frams available where this deal is for "generics".

What Is Your Time Worth?

Someone asked a great question on Reddit today. It's a question that everyone should keep in the forefront of their mind, especially on the quest for frugality. It becomes all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole, and realize that you just spent four hours getting, clipping, and sorting coupons, all to save a whopping four bucks (or whatever).
The easy answer to the question is "The amount you earn per hour at work." Let's say you earn $20/hour at work: your time is then worth $20/hour. This is a valuable rule of thumb, but it only covers part of the story.

Amazon: Wii Console Bundle Plus $30 Amazon Gift Card - $149.99

FREE shipping!

While supplies last, Amazon is offering this Wii Console Bundle Plus a $30 Amazon Gift Card for only $149.99 with FREE shipping. This means once you use the credit you will only pay $119.99 for the Console Bundle - one of the best prices I have seen.

Included accessories - Wii Mario Kart, One Wii Remote Plus controller, One Nunchuk controller, Sensor Bar, Standard composite cable, Power cord

FeaturesControls - The Wii Remote controller is easy to use. The familiarity of a TV remote, combined with motion-sensing technology makes for a seamless experience. Just pick it up and make the motions you would as if you were really bowling, playing tennis, or golfing.

Games - Experience hundreds of games for the Wii console

eBay: Hear Now Talk & Train Pet Collar with a 2-Way Wireless - $5.00

FREE shipping!

While supplies last, eBay is offering this Hear Now Talk & Train Pet Collar with a 2-Way Wireless for only $5.00 with FREE shipping ($4.90 if you include "eBay Bucks"). There is currently only 2 sizes available - mini and large (for pets under or over 30 lbs).

Includes:

  • Wireless Digital Pet Collar
  • Wireless Digital Handheld Controller
  • Heavy-Duty Collar Strap
  • Audio Ear Buds with In-line Microphone
  • Clothing Clip
  • Neck Strap for Controller
  • Belt Clip for Controller
  • Rechargeable Batteries for Collar and Controller
  • Power Adapter/Charger for Collar and Controller
  • Instructions

Features:

Video Features Train your Dog or Cat
Video Features 2-way wireless voice command
Video Features New retail 
Video Features Talk, train, listen, find and call a pet even when it’s out of sight
Video Features Call owner collar button calls you for 2-way voice communication if someone finds your lost pet
Video Features LED collar lights for nighttime use
Video Features Backlit LCD displays on collar and controller
Video Features Collar unit is waterproof in up to 12 inches of water
Video Features Controller is water resistant in rain and snow
Video Features Rechargeable batteries and chargers included

Amazon: Proctor Silex Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder (E160B) - $12.47

FREE shipping on $25 or more.

Searching for the best price on a highly rated coffee grinder? If so, Amazon might have you covered with this Proctor Silex Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder (E160B) for only $12.47 with FREE shipping iff you have Prime or spend over $25. If you are not currently grinding whole beans for your coffee - you don't know what you're missing! The flavor and the intensitiy are both very much increased. This is the best price I could find as I am looking for one as a gift! Check it out.

Need some coffee to go with your new grinder? You can use this $3 off coupon for some whole Community Coffee beans at Amazon, too. The best price is likely going to be for the decaf - but if you need the caf - check out the Community Coffee Whole Bean Coffee, French Roast, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 3) for only $13.41 after coupon.

If you do not have prime and you grab both you will also be eligible for FREE shipping - pretty sweet, eh?

Bed Bath & Beyond: Chroma Glass Mug with Handle (Set of 4) - $7.99

FREE shipping!

While supplies last, Bed Bath & Beyond is offering this Chroma Glass Mug with Handle (Set of 4) for only $7.99 with FREE shipping.

"These contemporary glass mugs with metal handles are the perfect way to serve everything from a cup of tea to your favorite latte. This set has a great look and will coordinate with any pattern. 7 ounces each. Hand wash. Set of 4."

Don't forget - you can also get 2% cash back on this purchase with MrRebates. If you are a new member to MrRebates you will get $5 just for signing up! See my review of MrRebates (and Ebates) for more information!

Walmart: Xbox 360 Games with FREE shipping

While supplies last, Walmart is offering a selection of great Xbox360 games on the cheap with FREE shipping, including:

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace (Xbox 360) - $8.85 with FREE shipping

Bakugan: Battle Brawlers (Xbox 360)  - $8.96 with FREE shipping

Guitar Hero Aerosmith - Game Only (Xbox 360) - $8.96 with FREE shipping

All-Pro Football 2K8 (Xbox 360) - $8.96 with FREE shipping

Vampire Rain (Xbox 360) - $8.96 with FREE shipping

Project Sylpheed (Xbox 360) - $8.96 with FREE shipping

Golden Compass (Xbox 360) - $8.96 with FREE shipping

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Xbox 360) - $9.96 with FREE shipping

DONT FORGET - you can also get 2% cash back on this purchase with MrRebates. If you are a new member to MrRebates you will get $5 just for signing up! See my review of MrRebates (and Ebates) for more information!

5 Free/Cheap Places To Hang Out In Air Conditioned Comfort

The killer heat wave is marching across the country, with no signs of stopping. Welcome to summer! It's time to cool off!
1. Starbucks, et al
This is definitely the most popular place to hang out and suck up the air conditioning. For the price of a cheap coffee (about $1.50 for a tall Americano) you can camp out essentially indefinitely. Many coffee shops have a somewhat child-friendly atmosphere, but it's helpful to bring some portable activities (like board games, or coloring books for older kids) to keep the little ones occupied.

iTunes Store: FREE Games & Apps (iPhone, iPad, iTouch)

For a limited time the iTunes Store is offering several FREE games and apps, including:

Miniatlas Obesity By ec-europe: Wherever you are, the enormous database of images related to Obesity is there at your fingertips when you need it.

OfficeDrop By Pixily, Inc: OfficeDrop is the best way to scan, search, organize and store your paper files, PDFs and other documents.

TIMER : MINUTES TO GO By Neuron Industries Inc: MIN TO GO is a revolutionary timer and alarm clock app that puts the minutes remaining on the icon.

Contact GPS By Meiotic Inc: With Contact GPS, you can search, view search and dial with speed and ease.

Waze GPS & traffic - Social, fun! By Waze Inc:  Waze is a free social traffic and navigation app that uses real-time road reports from drivers nearby to save commuting time and improve your everyday driving.

Touch DJ ™ Evolution By Amidio Inc: Touch DJ™ Evolution is the world's most innovative DJ app, simply the ultimate mobile DJ experience.

Deadlock: Online By Crescent Moon Games: From Crescent Moon, makers of the hit titles Aralon: Sword and Shadow and Gears, comes a new breed of Multiplayer game.

Haypi kingdom By Haypi Co., Ltd: You will be a general managing a kingdom in a strategic game - boosting resource production, adventuring in extensive wild land, reaping legendary treasures, equipping your troops with advanced abilities and battling against other players - with the ultimate goal of becoming the strongest kingdom in the ancient world.

BATTLE BEARS -1 By SkyVu Pictures: Defend the flagship Ursa Major from an onslaught of confused creatures hewn from the deepest, darkest corners of the cosmos' disturbed imagination.

You can download these games on iTunes or directly from your device by slicking the links above.

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