Friday, March 5, 2010

Great Clothing Finds in Thrift Stores

On average, most people clear out their closets at least twice per year. All of the clothing they no longer wear is taken to charity locations and thrift stores. Many people donate clothing items that they only wore a couple of times or that still have the tags on them. The most common thrift stores to find such clothing are the Salvation Army and the Goodwill. Both of them inspect clothing for stains and tears so you can be sure you will find good quality clothing for men, women, and children at very low prices.

Many people think these thrift stores only carry outdated clothing but that is simply not the case.  I have found some awesome career clothing in the thrift stores, name brand items that I would not be able to buy especially a weeks worth of clothes to wear in a professional office.  Additionally, children often outgrow clothing before it has been worn out or the style has faded. There are also plenty of clothing articles that never go out of style including t-shirts and denim jeans. While you may not find the same styles offered at the trendy retailers in the area you will find plenty of quality clothing for less than you will pay for it anywhere else. I have walked out of such thrift stores with bags of clothes that cost me less than purchasing one outfit at a retail store.

Jackets are very expensive but not if you purchase them from a thrift store. There are plenty of winter jackets, pullovers, and windbreakers to choose from. To make finding things in the right size easier most thrift stores separate clothing by the type that it is and by sizes. However, you will need to spend your time looking through what is available. The downside is that if you do find something you really like and it doesn't fit you won't have very good luck finding it in another size as you do in a department store.

Depending on the location of the thrift store, they may carry various household items as well. Some of the larger facilities offer used furniture, appliances, and books. Over the years I have found some great household items in some of the thrift stores that I frequent; kitchen table and chairs, wicker dog crate, cookware, artwork and even christmas decorations just to name a few.  I always love going into the thrift stores because you never know what treasure you might find.

Too many thrift stores have gotten a bad reputation for being viewed as a place to shop for individuals who don't have very much money. If your pride keeps you from visiting thrift shops then you will be throwing your money away. If you have never been into a thrift store you really should take the time to do so. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you find there.

Another good alternative is shopping at consignment stores. These are places where individuals take their unwanted clothing and furniture to be sold. The store splits the profits made from anything that sells with the person who brought it in. Most consignment items can only be on display for a limited amount of time. Towards the end of that time frame the items are generally sold at a discounted price before they are taken off the list of items to be sold.

You will pay more for items at a consignment store than you will at a thrift store but you will also be able to find some wonderful bargains that still save you money over buying them retail. The reason you will pay more is because the person selling the items and the store want to make as much profit as possible. You generally won't be able to negotiate the prices though.

One good example of saving money at either thrift stores or consignment stores is for party dresses, wedding dresses, and prom dresses. It is likely that they will only be worn once so it is silly to spend hundreds of dollars on such a gown. You will likely be able to find a good selection of such dresses that are still in style. Even if you have to pay to have the dress altered a bit you can still have the beautiful dress you want without the expense.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The value of using Coupons

Most retailers understand the amount of competition they have out there, especially in larger towns. To help encourage customers to remain loyal to them they accept coupons for various products. One of the best uses of coupons is for purchasing grocery items you already use. Look for stores that offer you double or triple the face value of the coupon. Some stores only offer double and triple coupon values on specific days of the week so make sure you take advantage of them if at all possible. You will be amazed at how quickly this type of coupon system can help you slash your grocery bill.

It is very important that you make sure the store isn't inflating the prices on their items though because if they do you won't save much with the coupons. Don't be tempted to use a bunch of coupons in items you dont normally use though or your grocery bill may end up increasing!

You can get coupons from magazines and newspaper ads. Pay close attention the to the expiration dates on them as well. If you have access to the internet go to the sites for the products you use. Many of them offer coupons that they will mail to you or that you can print at home. If these sites offer an opt in list for you to get promotions and coupons by e-mail then take advantage of it.

Some retail stores that welcome coupons offer a counter where you can take your unwanted coupons for other people to use. At the same time you are welcome to pick up various coupons others have left to make your own purchases. There are great coupon organizers that you can use like a mini filing system. You can categorize the coupons by the listed areas as well as create some of your own categories. This will reduce the amount of time you spent going through them while you are shopping.

Many retailers are more than willing to honor the coupons for a competitor so that you will purchase the item from them instead of the other store. The best way to approach this issue is to take the coupon into the store with you. Ask to speak to a manager and explain that you really want to make the purchase from them but that the other store offers a much better price. In most cases they will at least match the price of the competition. Other retailers will even beat the price to encourage you to remain a loyal customer of theirs.

Any time you plan to visit a museum, amusement park, or other activity check to see if there are coupons offered anywhere. Many times you will find buy 1 get 1 free coupons for such outings and that can be a great savings for your trip. You can usually find this out by looking online or calling the chamber of commerce in the area of the event. Online auctions like Yahoo! Auctions and eBay offer you plenty of opportunities to take advantage of discount coupons that others are selling as well.

Restaurants often offer discount coupons to get people to come in and eat. You do need to pay close attention to the details of the coupon though. Many of them will have specific days of the week they can be used. Some of them also have a set time frame where they can't be used after 4 pm or something similar.

If you take the time to seek out coupons for items you will already spend money on then you can get the rewards of spending less while still getting all the things your family needs. You may think it is silly using a $.75 cent coupon here or a $2.00 coupon there but it will really start to add up over time. When you consider the amount of money you spent on groceries, eating out, and entertainment for a whole year those coupons really start to sound good!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Can you really find a Bargain in a Dollar Store?

It seems like dollar stores and other various discount stores are becoming a common retailer in most areas. Can these discount stores really offer you a bargain or do they just sell poor quality items? In my opinion, there are plenty of great bargains to be found in dollar stores and discount stores if you look for the right items.

I give lots of cards to people, but they can cost $3 each at most retailers. I can find some great cards at discount stores for about $.50 each. They are still funny or pretty or sentimental in nature and I never feel like I had to settle for less than what I wanted to say.

Disposable items for a party are a great deal at discount stores. The cost of napkins, paper plates, cups, silverware, invitations, and tablecloths can really add up fast. Wrapping paper and gift bags are another area of party items that can be found for a good price at discount stores.

Seasonal items and decorations are a great find in the discount dollar stores. Most of the ornaments on my Christmas Tree come the discount stores. And I have to say that each year that I put up the tree there is a real satisfaction as I feel that the tree looks good and I spent very little money. But no matter the Holiday or the season you will always find some great buys in the discount dollars stores that will add a bit of seasonal decor to your home.

I wouldn't recommend going into discount stores and buying gifts for your family members or friends, but there are some good items in there. I personally enjoy buying picture frames from discount stores because they look just as nice. However, I would feel bad giving picture frames from these stores as gifts. For example I bought a very nice set of three frames from a discount store recently. They look like glass and make a beautiful display on my dresser. Yet when you pick them up you can quickly tell they are made from lightweight plastic.

Most discount stores have cleaning and laundry products as well. Cleaning products can really be expensive and I like to save my pennies by getting my cleaning and laundry products at the discount dollar stores.

There are plenty of fun children's toys you can get from a discount store including cards, marbles, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and coloring books. These all make great items for stocking stuffers or even for traveling to make the trip go by faster. Every time I visit my husband's family in Turkey I make sure that I visit the dollar store before we go so that I can bring some small toys for the kids. I have to say the bubbles are always a great hit even with the adults.

There are also plenty of items at discount stores that you can use to decorate your home. I refuse to pay $35 for a shower curtain! It just isn't going to happen. I always get them at the dollar store for just a couple of dollars. They last a very long time and they were well. I have not problem at all when the time comes to replace it. I have also found neat soap dishes and wall hangings for my bathroom at discount stores.

Office supplies are something most of us use on a regular basis. You can get them for a very good price at discount stores. Notebooks, paper, pens, glue, rulers, scissors, calculators, and envelopes can all be found for a really good price. I have never had any problems with the quality of such items. They are very comparable to those I buy at other retail stores for much more money.

I think when it comes to finding bargains at discount stores there are some to be found. It is important that you don't have too high of expectations when it comes to the quality of the items. Yet in most of the cases relating the different items I have described above, the quality doesn't have to be exceptional. They will work to serve the purpose without costing you a fortune. This makes party planning much more fun when you know you have the budget to cover it all. If you don't shop at discount stores you are really missing out on some great bargains!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't Deny Yourself Entertainment!

Times are tough! You hear it everytime you turn on the news. More people have lost their jobs and others are just not spending money. Yes times are tough and we all need to tighten our belt. But, we also need an escape from this headache even if it is just for a few hours. We need to laugh, we need to play, we need to take care of ourselves and have some fun.

If you watch a lot of DVDs, get an online DVD store membership: Membership to online movie stores like Netflix or Blockbuster Online can save you a lot of money compared to buying DVDs or renting it from a local store. You need to wait once you order the movie, but if you watch a lot of movies at home, then you can easily get into the habit of ordering ahead of time so you always have something at home. If you are patient and your library has the resources, check to see if they have a movie section. You won't get anything very new, but they are free.

If you like watching movies at the theater, go before 6:00 pm: This is one of my soft spots when it comes to spending. I really like watching movies in the theater with the big screen and the great sound effects. But instead of paying ~$10 a pop for the ticket, I usually go before 6:00pm when the tickets are a little less expensive. Also, for movies that I don’t absolutely want to watch right away, I just wait until it screens on the discount theater where the tickets are $2 a pop. I avoid the temptation to buy snacks, by usually going for a theater some time soon after lunch or sometimes sneaking in my snacks in my purse. Many stores such a Walmart, CVS and others sell movie size candy. I always make a stop so my son can have a treat without spending excess money.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

International Travel- A real saver!!

This week I needed to search for plane ticket for my family to travel to Turkey this summer. We have family in Turkey and I always dread the task of searching for airline tickets. Summer travel is more expensive and I hate it so I am always searching for the best rates possible. I can not tell you how many websites I go through before I find the best price. Somehow I came accross the website Vayama is a site for international travel. To my amazement I found tickets that were $300 less than the major travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia. Needless to say I bought the tickets immediately and saved $900 as opposed to purchasing through other travel websitses.

If you are looking to travel internationally you should definitely check out It can't hurt and it might save you some money!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too! Eat Out and still Save Money!

  • Eat out at restaurants for lunch instead of dinner. The menus are often the same, or at least very similar to evening meals, but the prices are often much cheaper.
  • Clip restaurant coupons out of the paper and keep them in a binder for future use. Also make a note of any specials like "friends eat free" or "dads eat free " nights at your favorite restaurants. If you have children, look for "kids eat free nights". Many restaurants will have specials to attract business on otherwise slow nights, such as Mondays and Tuesdays. Be sure to check your bill to make sure the discount was included. One of our local restaurants advertises "kids eat free" on a certain week night, but they only give you the discount for kid's meals if you specifically ask for it.
  • Participate in a restaurant coupon program. For a small fee for processing and handling you can receive coupons for restaurants of your choice. This simple program can save you over $1000 dollars for just a $10 processing/handling fee. Take a look at
  • Sign up for email lists that any of your favorite restaurants may offer. Restaurants often send out discount coupons this way. Also make note of early bird specials. If you are old enough, check to see if your favorite restaurant offers special menus for seniors.
  • If you feel like getting out of the house but can't afford a full meal out, eat dinner at home and just go out for dessert and coffee.
  • One of my favorite things to do is visit
    where I can purchase a $25 gift certificate for only $10. This is beneficial in two ways. I can purchase a gift for a friend or I can use the certificate myself. I have found some great local restaurants that I may not have tried had it not been for this site.
  • One more way to have your cake and eat it too is to get the recipe of your favorite dish from your favorite restaurant and make it at home. I have found a great recipe book to get all my favorite recipes, and for those days when I just can not justify spending any money eating out, I can still treat my family to something special. Take a look to see if your recipe is here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cash Back Rebates Shopping Online!

I have to say that I love looking for that deal. I am always searching for new ways to save my money and I have found a great site, Big Crumbs, that will give me a CASH BACK REBATE for shopping at some of my favorite online retailers such as Walmart,Target,BestBuy and even EBAY. Click hear to learn more about BigCrumbs!

Take a look below at just a few of their online retailers and the rebates that are offered.

Avon: 4% rebate
Baby Center Store: 3% rebate
Barnes & Noble: 2.5% cash back rebate
Bass Pro Shops: 2.5% cash back rebate
Best Buy: up to 1.5% cash back rebate 4.5% cash back
Dell Home Systems: 1.5% cash back
Ebay: Receive 20% cash back from the seller's total fee
Eddie Bauer: 3% cash back
eHarmony: 32.5% cash back Receive up to 3.6% cash back
Hammacher Schlemmer: Receive 5% cash back when you shop. 2.5% cash back when you shop.
Kodak: 3% cash back
Linen's-N-Things: 1.5% cash back
Macy's: 2% cash back; 1% on clearance
Motherhood Maternity: Up to 7.2% cash back
PETsMART: 4% rebate earned when you shop. Up to 1.7% or $2.70
Saks Fifth Avenue: Up to a 4.5% cash rebate
Target: Receive up to 5% cash back
Toys R US: Receive up to 1.5% cash back
Travelocity: 2.5% rebate
Walmart: Receive up to 2% cash back
Weight Watchers: Receive $5 cash back when you join Weight Watchers.

Click hear to learn more about BigCrumbs!

After you join the site and are ready to use Big Crumbs for your discount, there are certain steps you can take to insure you will receive your full discount.
  • Clear your computer cookies.
  • Make sure you log into Big Crumbs before making your purchase.
  • You will not receive your discount unless you log into Big Crumbs first.