Monday, February 28, 2011

Blast From the Past: Depression-Era Penny-Pinching Tips!

Especially when it comes to saving money, our elders are/were in the know! Here are some suggestions from the Depression that helped our ancestors get through the tough times. I've scrabbled them together from across the World Wide Web and adapted them for the modern solo-apartment renter. They can all be put to use today to help stretch your dollar!

Also: Attention readers!! Next week's post will be dedicated to reader tips and wisdom -- all about cheap house cleaning! Do YOU have a tip about keeping things clean (while keeping things cheap) to share? Be sure to let me know, so that your advice can be included in next week's post!

Some Depression-era tips (for a modern apartment dweller):

  •  If you drink tea, use your teabag more than once before tossing it out.
  •  Use cloth napkins instead of always buying paper ones.
  • Instead of using expensive store-bought household cleaners, use vinegar and a baking soda/water mixture for floors, countertops, and windows.
  •  If heat is not included in your rent (an extra expense for you), put on a sweater instead of turning up your heater.
  •  Also, if heat is an extra expense for you,  be sure to block any drafts under your doors and windows with towels or another homemade "draft blocker" to save energy and money.
  •  If your heat IS included in your rent, hang your clothes to dry around your apartment rather than pay to run a dryer.
  • Before giving away old clothes to the thrift store, think about what you might be able to do with them. Could a pair of pants with a hole in the knee be made into shorts? Could part of an old sheet be made into a tablecloth?
Special thanks to and!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Couponing: Getting Started

Coupons are, of course, a great way to save some money. Getting started in the "world of couponing" can be a little daunting, though, especially if you've seen things like Extreme Couponers! Never fear - Captain Cheap is here with a few tips to get you started!
Types of Coupons

There are two kinds of coupons: manufacturer's coupons and store coupons. Manufacturer's coupons come straight from production companies and are good at any store where their merchandise is sold.
Store coupons are store-specific coupons, for use only at a particular store or a particular location.

Sources for Coupons


The Internet is a great place to find coupons. and offer a big selection of manufacturer's coupons, as well as deals on local restaurants and particular grocery stores when you enter your zip code. (Note: you must have a printer and be able to install the coupon printer application in order to use the coupons from these two sites.)

Some stores also offer digital coupons that you can "upload" to your shopper's card from their website. Kroger, for example, lets you upload up to 150 coupons to your shopper's card online  - and when the cashier scans your shopper's card at the store, your coupons will automatically register on the screen. These "digi-coupons" are separate from printed coupons and are available only online. Other stores that provide digital coupons downloadable onto your shopper's card include: Albertson's, Safeway, Smith's, Von's, and Fred Meyer. Click on any of these store names - the links'll take you right where you need to be to get started! (Note: you can't register on a store's website unless you already have a shopper's card.)

Manufacturer's coupons can also sometimes be found on companies' websites, so check those out, too. They may have printable coupons or they may send out coupons by regular mail. To get your company coupon search started, here are a few companies/brands whose websites are currently offering coupons: Campbell's Soup/Swanson Broths, Listerine mouthwash, Ronzoni Pasta, and Chi Chi's salsa.


Comic courtesy of Sweeties Sweeps
Traditionally, coupons have lived in local papers. This is still a good source for both manufacturer's coupons and store coupons. Coupon veterans suggest buying the Sunday paper on Monday or Tuesday (often the price on the paper is reduced after Sunday -- but the coupons are still good!), to get ahold of great coupons and not having to pay full price. I get my coupons from our county newspaper, which is free, but Sunday editions of metro papers are probably your best bet for a good selection.
Coupons also are sometimes sent in "mailers" or "inserts": SmartSource, for instance, might come to your house, so be sure to check what looks like junk mail for savings you can actually use before you throw these out!


Remember that sometimes buying something with a coupon is still not always the best deal. Be sure to compare brands by scanning shelf prices while you are shopping (and to check out your local store's weekly sales/ad!) to be sure you're getting the best bang for your buck!
 Happy coupon cutting, peeps -- and here's to another great week of savings!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day on the Cheap

For those of you readers who don't celebrate Valentine's Day - I, myself, am in your club - congratulations! Just think of the money we're saving by sitting at home on our couches alone eating leftovers! (But also - you don't have to be in a couple to enjoy the things listed below. Why not take yourself on a date, especially when it could cost you absolutely nothing?)

And for all of you frugal lovebirds out there, here's to you, enjoying a financially-stressless February 14th!

Thinking about a relaxed night in with that special someone? Why not:
          * Cook up a romantic dinner using ingredients that are already in your kitchen? Visit - you enter what you have, and they tell you what to cook!
          * Check out a movie from your local public library? While in my opinion, documentaries are always a great choice, libraries also have recent comedy and drama movies (yes, even "romantic comedies"!) for checkout on DVD / VHS. Libraries also have CDs for checkout if you're on the search for "mood music"!

Thinking about an adventure outside the house? Why not:
          * Visit an art gallery nearby? (Art galleries are almost always free to visit because the art on display is for sale, as opposed to a museum.)
          *  Speaking of: why not see if your local public library participates in a "Check Out a Musuem" program, where library holders can get free passes to visit regional art and cultural museums? (This program is certainly in place for these metro areas: Phoenix, Twin Cities, Detroit, Boston, San Diego, and Tacoma, WA...can your area be added to this list?)
Why not spend Valentine's Day exploring
art, culture, or dinosaur bones - for free?
          * If you live somewhere where this won't entail hypothermia, take the time to enjoy some natural scenery. Bring a picnic lunch or dinner to share along with you to a city, state, or national park nearby. What says romance better than dining al fresco? Note: Often, state parks do charge a few dollars for parking.
           * Colleges and universities frequently host poetry readings, film screenings, guest lectures and more that are often open to the public, and free (or very cheap.) Visit the websites of community colleges and universities near you to find a calendar of upcoming events.
For the cheap folks who want to look suave:
           * Remember this trick: If you have a coupon for a restaurant (say, an amazing 2-for-1 deal), before lunch/dinner is over, tell your date you need to use the restroom and pay the bill up front before it even comes to the table. That way, how much you're paying - or not - can go unnoticed, and that dreaded word, "cheapskate", will not even enter your date's mind. Plus, in general, it's just a suave move, coupon or not, although, of course, there is no reason to go to a restaurant without a coupon in hand! Keep in mind, though, inviting someone on a date with this line: "Hey, want to go to this restaurant? I have a sweet coupon!" is not generally a suave move. Remember, sometimes when it comes to romance, keeping deals on the downlow - no matter how great they are! - is sometimes the best idea.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Produce Tips From Readers!

After my Avoiding Produce Going Bad post a few weeks back, I got some great tips from readers about saving money and saving produce from the trash! I wanted to pass the wisdom along, so here we go:

Jennifer told me that dried beans are a much better deal than canned (at only $0.50 a pound, I'd have to agree!) I had a mishap trying to soak beans myself a few years back that has led to me buying canned ever since, but she has convinced me to give the soaking process another shot because of the great savings!
* Rory, another reader, pointed out that frozen vegetables are healthier than canned. Nutritional value IS something worth considering, because while saving money is great, getting the best possible value for your dollar is also good, too!

* Rory also writes that storing cut celery standing up in the fridge in a container filled with 2" of water can prevent, and even reverse, wilting.

*(My aunt) Linda pointed out that the reason lettuce turns brown is from a knife. If you shred lettuce by hand instead, wash it and dry it, and store in an airtight container in your refrigerator, it will keep much longer than cutting it.

Thanks for all the advice, readers, and here's to another money-saving week!