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The Frugal Edge (43)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:53

Unusual ways to use regular household products

Written by Michelle Fern

The next time you're in need of a pest repellent, stain remover or something to remedy an ailment, check your pantry before heading to the store. You might just find what you need and, surprisingly, it may simply be a common kitchen ingredient.

For years people have had their own uses for different products, some of which seem very unusual but work. So I thought I would take some time to surf the web and talk to a few friends to compile a list of great, thrifty and eco-friendly uses for everyday household items that you may not have thought of.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 16:37

PB&J five days a week

Written by Michelle Fern

The kids are back in school and as much as I jump up and down with glee, I feel somewhat melancholy because with each new school year means that they are growing up. But it also means harder homework (for both the kids and me) and dreadful lunch-making.

If it were solely up to me, I would just default to peanut butter and jelly. While my kids love PB&J, five days of it a week can get a little boring. But don't knock the venerable sandwich it's been the largest staple lunch sandwich in the U.S. for over seven decades and the average American child eats 1,500 peanut butter sandwiches by the time he/she graduates from high school.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:31

Breaking news

Written by Michelle Fern

 Heads up couponers! Those with a Dollar Tree nearby will be happy to know that on Sunday, Aug. 26, the retailer will begin to accept manufacturer coupons.

The Chesapeake, Virginia-based discount retailer has more than 4,500 stores in the U.S. it touts more than 300 in Florida alone and it stocks everything from beach toys and holiday decorations to toothbrushes and various food items. While the majority of its merchandise is off-brand, the discounter does sell some name-brand merchandise.

During the currently difficult economy, stores like Dollar Tree have done well by going for the lowest denominator when it comes to enticing shoppers it offers merchandise for $1 or less. And now they've added another weapon to their marketing strategy to attract more customers by accepting coupons. Other competitors such as Dollar General and Family Dollar already accept coupons and although Dollar Tree doesn't say they are competing with them, this is surely an attractive incentive to shop more at the discounter.

Wednesday, 08 August 2012 21:50

Doing dorm bedding right

Written by Michelle Fern

As our oldest child heads to his new adventure at college, it's been a busy summer planning for all of the things he'll need when he gets there. From books and a meal plan to even his new laptop, we've tried to think of all the things today's college student has to have.

And then there's the college dorm room.

For college students, the dorm room is their home away from home and it's important to furnish and decorate it comfortably and inexpensively. And most colleges provide twin-sized beds; however, many use extra long mattresses to accommodate taller individuals. Buying the correct bedding can make all the difference, as the bed takes up the majority of both physical and visual space in the dorm room.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 21:26

Back to school on a budget

Written by Michelle Fern

This year is a bit different for our family when it comes to back to school supply shopping. Usually it's just binders, book covers, pens, pencils and the various other things students typically need. However, we now have a college student along with our youngest who is still in middle school. This means two distinctly different lists of supplies.

Our youngest still needs the basics, but since I have stocked up a lot of items the past few years, I only have to get a few of the bigger-ticketed items such as a divider binder and backpack. On the other hand, our college student needs quite a bit more. He's living on campus, so we have to outfit his dorm room and also get special items such as an advanced calculator they can cost up to $150.

It would have hard to guess 10 years ago that we would be using cell phones to help us save money on goods and services today. Such shopping techniques using smart phones and tablet computers are becoming increasingly popular, and thanks to numerous applications ('apps' in mobile phone vernacular) you can use your mobile devices to not only find what you need but also to save quite a bit of money.

Whether you want to save money on gas or reduce your travel expenses, there's probably an app that enables you to do it. In fact, no matter where you are, you can consult your smart phone or tablet to reduce the price of just about anything, including items you shop for on a daily basis.

Many of these shopping apps scan barcodes and subsequently find detailed information about specific products, redeemable coupons, and also search the best price for a product in your area, either at a local store or online. Once you've found the product you're looking for, you can download another app to keep track of your finances.

Thursday, 28 June 2012 07:24

There's still time to grow a garden

Written by Michelle Fern

We finally planted our vegetable garden this past weekend. I was getting anxious because I hear gardeners say Memorial Day is the "do or die" critical garden planting day as if it was written in stone. However, we've had some really chilly days and nights (mixed with some heat as well) and the month of May and first two weeks in June simply didn't pan out for us to plant it.

Well, it sounds like a good excuse.

My husband built the raised bed about a month ago and my son finally picked up the compost last week. It was becoming a 'do it now or don't do it at all' scenario, so I bought some really nice plants at a couple of local greenhouses. Incidentally, it was actually a great time to get some discounts - $10 got me 13 plants. Area greenhouses begin to shut down by the end of June, so they start to clear out their leftover stock by the second week of June.

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 17:42

Are free samples worth it?

Written by Michelle Fern

I used to disregard free samples, often wondering what I would do with such a small quantity. However, I found such samples really handy when I travel or if a family member became sick and we'd try one of the over-the-counter medication samples to hold me over until I could buy the full size.

As funny as it sounds, today I submit every free sample offer that comes my way, tucking it away for future needs.

Free samples are a way for companies to entice you to buy their product. This gives you a chance to try a product you wouldn't normally purchase. They conveniently fit in your purse or car, and are great for emergencies or travel. I even saw a post online where some frugal soul put together great little teacher gift baskets using free samples, which apparently turned out amazing.

Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:45

Graduation party on a budget

Written by Michelle Fern

My oldest is graduating high school this year. Along with the realization that my kid who just yesterday was a little baby is now grown up and I've grown older along with him comes the fact that there has to be a celebration.

And yes, between him and his friends there will be party after party. And with the economy still in a slump, you'd think that people would be scaling back on their graduation parties. However, according to GraduationParty.com Americans will spend an average of $983 on cap-and-gown parties this year.

Here are some tips on having a great grad party without breaking the bank.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 18:14

Date night on a budget

Written by Michelle Fern

My husband and I have been together for 25 years. We spent a lot of time together in the beginning, but as we progressed in our careers and the kids came along we found it increasingly difficult to find time for each other.

We worked. We ate. We went to bed.

I'm not sure how we even found the time to fit the kids in over the years. There was also a period during our marriage when he traveled quite a bit and we barely saw or talked to each other. And as the kids grew older, our schedules were pressured even more due to activities, sports and the many other things kids do.

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