Monday, December 7, 2009

Updates Galore!

Well, it is now December, and I am finally feeling some relief from finals time at my university.

Today is the first day in a long time I have managed to not drink any soda - I drank just water all day. My strategy has been to think about how I will feel later, usually disgusting, and that helps me. I was excited to tell my husband, and he then suggested we possibly try quitting together. I was shocked by this, but I have come to realize after quitting McDonald's that when you live with someone else you tend to embrace a similar lifestyle - voluntarily or involuntarily. I noticed John commented on my earlier post on quitting soda that he is having trouble quitting coffee or caffeine. I have managed to quit caffeine myself, to the dismay of my fellow colleagues, and really it should be a process that should be weaned down gradually. Caffeine is a drug (more specifically, a stimulant), and like any drug, you shouldn't just be quitting cold turkey, otherwise you will experience withdrawal symptoms. I've had friends who have experienced some bad headaches for withdrawing from caffeine, so my advice is to be sure to do it gradually, until a point where you can go without it.

I also think though drinks like coffee can be a "morning routine" type of thing. Sometimes its also helpful to find a substitution like non-caffeinated coffee or tea. I know a strategy suggested to me, but I haven't tried it yet for quitting soda, is to drink carbonated water. Speaking as someone in the field of psychology, it will probably benefit your mind to have that substitution as well. Good luck John!

Onwards and upwards, I have been finding myself spending less and less on groceries every week! I used to spend $120 a week on groceries for two people, prior to having a meal schedule and shopping list, and this past week I spent less that $60. I'm finding it to be a fun competition with myself, since I have been spending less and less it seems each week for the past couple of months. The shopping list is the KEY to saving money. Stick to your list, avoid all the temptations in your supermarket, and you cannot go wrong.

In addition, finding good staples in a weekly menu can save a lot of money. For example, every other week, I cook a roast chicken. It may sound complex, but really all I do is take it out of the packaging, rinse it off, put it my baking pan, and sprinkle some pepper and salt over it. It goes in the oven for an hour and half, and its ready to eat. Afterwords, since my husband and I usually can't eat a whole chicken, I then take the remaining meat off to use in a soup to prepare the following day. I also make a large batch of soup, and put them in Gladware or Rubbermaid serving containers, and then I have my lunches prepared for the week. Talk about getting your money's worth!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast Deal

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (Nov. 4, 2009) – Dedicated to helping American families save money on both holiday traditions and gift items, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced today significant price reductions* on Thanksgiving dinner favorites, TVs and other popular electronics. In addition to seeking savings on gifts under the Christmas tree, recent research shows more than 50 percent of consumers plan to shop price discounts in the coming weeks on non-gift purchases for themselves or family.**

Starting Saturday, Walmart stores will begin their first one-week electronics savings event with special buys and Rollbacks, including a new $298 HP notebook computer. In addition, as shoppers evaluate the impact of tight budgets on holiday meal planning, beginning today Walmart will feature select 12-pound turkeys for less than $5, helping families serve a complete Thanksgiving meal for eight this year as low as $20.*

“We’re proving that we’re committed to helping moms afford the holidays in these tough economic times,” said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president, groceries, Walmart. “That’s why we’re offering incredible pricing on the turkey and all the fixings.”

A turkey dinner for eight as low as $20
According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, last year’s average cost of a turkey was roughly $1.19 per pound. Beginning today, select Grade A turkeys are available for 40 cents per pound at Walmart.* These gobblers are part of Walmart’s $20 Thanksgiving menu guaranteeing family favorites will be on the dinner table this holiday season. Walmart’s $20 Thanksgiving feast includes:

  • One 12-pound Grade A turkey*
  • Three 11 to 15.5-ounce cans Green Giant vegetables
  • Two 14-ounce cans Ocean Spray cranberry sauce
  • Three 6-ounce boxes of Stove Top stuffing
  • One 5-pound bag of red potatoes
  • One 12-count package of Sara Lee dinner rolls
  • One 22-ounce pumpkin roll cake
For the full press release, click on the title of this post above. Just another way to save for the holidays. Also, be sure to check out your grocers in the area, as I have heard ALDI is running a similar deal for $30 and Super Target has also put out a deluxe Thanksgiving meal for $45 and $60, depending on what you want included. Look at your retailer's weekly flyers!

Here's to the start of the holiday season!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quitting the Addiction

Probably at the worst time of the semester (the few weeks prior to final papers being due), I am trying to give up my addiction on soda. After successfully given up caffeine, I am slowly weaning off of soda, getting down to one a day right now.

I've been finding that when I drink soda, thinking about its actual taste, its quite disgusting. Its just a very sugary taste, as appropriate being most of the soda is composed of such. I teach an undergraduate class three days a week, to which I usually drink my one Sprite during, and this week a student asked me "how can you drink non-caffeinated soda?" While I cite health reasons, I did ponder the question. What is the point of drinking soda if there is no caffeine in it? What is the purpose? I believe sugar is an equal addiction, and this "friend" in my entire life has never been a friend at all. When I was in 7th grade, I was hospitalized after consuming around 7-8 cans of soda a day, for dehydration. I trying to realize that soda does me no favors, and its time to let it go, just like any other drug. This is also the thought that has kept me away from drugs my whole life - what is the benefit of it?

But water? I hear so many people say how much the taste of water is so bland and boring. While I can understand, it is water's purity that makes me feel better during the day. Another thing I commonly put together with supper is a pitcher of Crystal Light, which is essentially water with some low-calorie flavoring added to it. In addition, thinking about the money we spend on soda, it can be quite draining. After adding a filter to my refrigerator, I find the taste of the water to be great, and I just fill up my reusable bottle every morning with water and ice. Water is much cheaper on the wallet than soda. In addition thinking about the resources consumed to make soda, and its containers, water is much better for the earth.

The other thing I come to find, is when you take up healthy habits, or give up bad habits, those around you will also take notice. For example, in 2001, when "Super Size Me", the documentary regarding fast food came out, I pledged to never eat McDonald's again. To which, I have still kept this promise to myself. However, over the course of the years, since I didn't go to eat there, that meant my husband would go by himself. It became less and less of an occurance for him, until it got to a point where he didn't find the food appetizing anymore. You CAN influence other people, particularly the ones you care about most. I'm hoping what I have said here may influence you as well, to start a new healthy habit for the havoc of the holidays is here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 100th Post!

I have recently decided to begin a (home) career in cooking, in order to save some money. I have been making things that I would normally buy pre-made, from scratch. This past week, I bought 2 loaves of french bread, a can of pizza sauce, and a bag of mozzarella cheese. I normally buy Red Baron's French Bread Pizzas, which at their cheapest, cost $3 for 2 french bread pizzas (Wal-Mart). I buy these for the reason that they are a one serving, easy to make meal. So either for lunch, or a night when one of us is in class, there is an easy "dinner for one".

Anyways, I purchased these things at my local grocery store:
French Bread Pizza (2 Smaller loaves) - $2.19
Can of Pizza Sauce - $1.66
Bag of Mozzarella cheese (4 cups) - $2.68 (on sale)
Total: $6.53

As you can probably already, tell, its going to be a much cheaper route to buy these items individually and then to buy the pre-made ones. With the bread I purchased, I managed to make up 8 servings of french bread pizza. That's 82 cents per serving. In addition, I had enough pizza sauce and cheese left to make more after I purchase more french bread, so really its less than that, my guess would be around 50 cents per serving in the long run, since the bread doesn't require a lot of sauce or cheese to be covered. I also cover the bread with some olive oil before putting the sauce on.

I made these this past Monday while making my soup (lunches for the week) and some seasonal pumpkin bread. They don't take long to make once the bread is sliced, simply wrap in saran wrap and put in the freezer, eat as needed! Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes.

This is just one example of how you can save money by making things at home, and possibly from your local area. The pizza sauce I purchased was made by a local distributor. Also, you can make pizza sauce even cheaper by simply making it from tomato sauce. The Simple Dollar has instructions on how to do this, but all it really is is adding some spices to the tomato sauce (basil, cilantro, etc.).

Think about some things that you may buy pre-made, and could possibly freeze as well!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Use for Junk Mail

Yesterday my husband asked me if we could put a shopping list somewhere in the kitchen so I knew when he was out of items only he used. I had a very old clipboard on the fridge which was actually from a high school locker kit I bought probably about 10 years ago. A couple of months ago it finally ran out of the original paper that came with it. "Now what?" I thought. I doubted I would be able to find a pad of paper to fit the size without being to heavy. Looking at the pile of junk mail on the counter, I took all of the sheets of paper I would have normally thrown in the recycling and cut them up into fourths. It didn't take too long and I had all the paper I would need for probably some time. I simply use the back side of the paper that is blank, and you have a new pad of paper.

I know probably a lot of you out there already do this, but it is a great way to reuse another piece of paper before having it recycled! Plus I save money by not going out and buying more pads of paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saving Money: The Plan

Well, unfortunately it has been a while. I'm getting closer and closer to the whole dissertation process, so that ends up eating a lot of my time. Anyways, a great deal has happened over the past month or so, in terms of my (probably one of many) breaking points with money.

Basically, one of our cars needed a transmission replaced. Yeah. I was ready to panic when they told me. For those who don't know, to replace a transmission of a car it can cost upwards of $3500. Luckily, the repair shop we used also provided used transmissions (which is always a good thing to ask about should you ever be in that situation). However, I spent a lot of that day looking at potential new cars. The car we have is a 1998 Nissan Maxima, so it is definitely a good car, but we have no idea how long it will last, and I wasn't sure the investment was worth it if it would break again in a few months or years.

But going through this, I had a very huge sense of failure. Much of our savings were depleted after the move to our new house, as well as myself adjusting to a lower paying job and having a higher living expense every month. For some reason, I had not glanced at our budget for quite some time. After my father gave me that "you need to be saving money" talk (to which I also got quite defensive) I took out the excel spreadsheet and listed our income versus the amount of bills we have each month. I then examined the remaining money, and what should be going into savings accordingly. Additionally, I felt overwhelmed by my car insurance bills this month, and decided I instead would save $20 each week to put towards the car insurance bill, rather than trying to find 200-300 for two months in a row. Since I had to put the car repair on our credit card, I also outlined a strategy of how this would be paid back each paycheck.

With credit cards, the sooner you pay, the better! Even if it is in small amounts, all of your recent payments show up on a credit report, which can show your good faith in paying off your credit card, rather than waiting for some big amount.

I was surprised by the time I had finished how sophisticated it looked. It was a map for our money, where everyone had their appropriate place. Another rule I am beginning to use is a page from Dave Ramsey's books - pay for things in cash. Each week I take out a certain amount for food, in cash. This is all the money we are allowed for the week, and what I am already coming to find is we don't need as much money for food for another part of the plan: planned meals.

First, I wrote down a full menu of all the meals I can make, with a column for lunch meals and dinner meals. I then sat down after printing out a blank Google calendar, and wrote down what meal I will cook each day, and lunches for weekends. Next, I wrote a shopping list of all of the ingredients I would need to make these meals, and any other food items like snacks we may like to have over the week. I keep this calendar on the side of the fridge, and I have already found that my husband will get excited over certain upcoming meals and tell me earlier in the week. If your family doesn't like what you serve, then ask them to be on the meal-planning committee!

After going to the store, I could not believe how simple it was. I buy things accordingly, and feel I nearly cut my grocery bill in half, because I don't buy things I don't need or wont use. So many times I would go through the grocery store just buying things that sounded good to eat or thought I would make for that week, and I would end up with a lot of expired food. I'll admit, buying only what you need is still difficult, because you do see sales and things you didn't think of, but as long as you limit yourself to that one snack, rather than 2 or 3, its a start!

So my plan of action has only been in place for a week, but so far I am coming out under budget. If you are looking for more ways to see where your money goes every month, there is a great free version of Quicken called MoneyStrands, located at

Happy saving!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New and Upcoming!

Well, it has been a while. School has taken over my life again, as usual. However, I am making plans for an upcoming series of posts entitled "Adventures with Borax". Borax is a cleaning agent that has been around since the 1800s, now sold in stores for a cheap price (at my grocery store it was $2.99), that has multiple, wonderful, helpful uses around the house.

In the meantime, I have gained interest in a new snack - Wheat Thins "Toasted" Great Plains Multigrain chips. One day, while enjoying my chips, I was looking at the side of the bag, mentioning a recycling program, called TerraCycle ( TerraCycle essentially pays you (although its not much) for your garbage, and then makes practical items like grocery bags, backpacks, and pencil cases from them. There are tons of different products that are collected, like Capri Sun pouches, Cliff Bar wrappers, Malt-o-Meal bags, and more! You can search your area for a "brigade" that works to collect certain kinds of garbage. Similar to the BoxTops for Education program, there are also instances where you can donate your "garbage" for profits for your schools.

Not thrilled about the idea of shipping these things? Don't worry! Manufacturers and retailers pay for the cost by sending pre-paid envelopes that you usually drop off at your local UPS. What are you waiting for?! Go to and join a brigade (or start a new one) today!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Someone is about to become very rich

Hopefully you have heard along the way that the appliances that we keep plugged into power outlets are still sucking power, even when we don't have them turned on. They have also been referred to as "vampire power", since they "suck away your power" and it turns up on your electric bill. Around 10% of our electric bills represent electronics that are what we think are off and really they are not. To solve this issue, power strips have been a common solution since you can turn the whole strip off by flipping the on-off button. What about for the lazy person in us? I am expected to do this every TIME I leave the room?

Have no fear, you have no excuses now, because Monster Cable has come up with a "green" power strip, that automatically turns off power to electronic items that are on offline or stand-by mode. This works for computers, TVs, computer modems, and other electronic energy sucking items. When you need them back on, the power center recognizes this and gives the power back when you need it. While they are a bit pricey (ranging from $70-$130), they are an investment for sure. You get the quality surge protection for electronics, and you'll save a big chunk of change on your electric bill. I also don't have to mention you are doing something great for the environment by CONSERVING ENERGY. :)

I know what will go on my Christmas List this year!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pandora: Radio of the Future?

So either I found out I must not be around my friends enough (which could be true), or I am behind the times, because I have finally discovered Pandora Internet Radio (! Now that I am back at school, I find myself sitting in offices for long periods of time, and Pandora has been helpful in making life less dull. At Pandora, you can create your own internet radio station, and you can rate songs as you like (and they will look for similar ones in the future) or you can say you don't like it and they will take the song out. Commercials are minimal, however, you can even pay for a membership if you want all the benefits, including no commercials.

Radio stations are created by you entering the song title or an artist you like. If you create a profile, you can save all of the radio stations you have created. There are also "shared stations" which run different genres or decades of music.

I am big into music, so this has been a really refreshing experience for me. Its great to hear new songs, or ones that you haven't heard in a while. Nowadays, you don't have to own every piece of music you like to hear it, you can just make your own radio station! I am pretty convinced this is the future of music as we know it, in terms of radio. Pandora even has compatible devices so you do not have to listen on a computer, but your own home stereo, table-top radios, or other products, like the iPhone. If you're stuck at a computer a lot, like myself, consider giving Pandora a try, its free awesomeness!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Winners of Book Giveaway!

Through a drawing of random numbers, readers Marie and Kim will be receiving their free copies of "The Penny Pincher's Club" by Sarah Strohmeyer. Thanks to all of you who entered the drawing.

Well, I know it has been a while for me, I was on vacation for a while, and still try to settle into our new house. In the meantime, there have been a couple of new websites that I have found helpful, and I would encourage you to check them out.

Mr. Rebates
- This is a great website where you can find cash-back rebates at many popular online stores. If you shop online, you probably go to these stores already. Right now, there are also some popular back to school specials. You can also sign up to receive emails (which they are giving $5 bonus for right now), which will provide you with weekly announcements regarding the great deals for this week.

Another great website,, which distributes bulk gift items (which logos or images can also be put on) has some great environmentally-friendly products out there. If you are in charge of getting a small gift for a massive amount of people, is a great provider for items that can be biodegradable, sustainable, or recycled. You can get bamboo covered flash drives for your group rather than getting ones covered in plastic. Even if you are considering something small like office pens with a company logo, they even have biodegradable pens! No kidding! I had never heard of such a thing before either. You can see a list of their eco-friendly products here.

Love books? If you are like me, and cannot stop collecting books, you know they can be a big hit to your wallet. On Frugal Green Girl and numerous other experts in frugal living, advocate for buying used first, and always if possible. If the same books keep showing up in your local used books stores, try looking at Libraries have book sales all the time, and with this website you can find out about book sales in your area. Support your local library and buy a couple (usually ungodly cheap) books!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vacation Time

I am currently in my home state of Wisconsin right now, on a 2 week vacation before classes and jobs begin once more.

First off, I want to say only 2 people have entered in the drawing for a copy of "The Penny Pincher's Club", so please enter with your email address to, otherwise there will be no drawing, simply a giveaway to the two people who replied.

We have finally gotten all moved into our new home, which still remains mostly unpacked because we are out somewhere else for a while. During our first week in our new house, we decided to begin leaving our dog out of his kennel, as planned. However, the second time we left him out, he decided to have a massive diarrhea spell all over our dining room (which is carpeted). After scrubbing as much as I could, however, there was still a couple of stains which I know have simply been rubbed into the carpet, I went to the store and ended up leaving with the Bissell Pet Spot Bot. I was debating between that and the Bissell Little Green Cleaner, which was similar but the Spot Bot had a mechanism where you could put the machine over a section of carpet and would wash out fresh or set-in stain within a 6 minute time frame. Just set it over the spot and leave it work its magic. Needless to say, the stains came out wonderfully! While the product was a bit expensive, however, I think that if you have a dog or a child, or a husband for that matter, you are bound to use this again and again, whether its mud, food, or even feces.

Be back in a little while, but in the meantime, keep the entries for "The Penny Pincher's Club" coming!

Friday, July 24, 2009

More on Books...

So this has clearly been a coincidental week of books for me, but I was thrilled about my recent savings on textbooks for the next upcoming school year. Both my husband and I are students, he is part-time while I am full-time, and his school comes out with textbook lists much earlier than mine fortunately for the one of us.

After gathering his list for 3 classes, the books would cost roughly $375 with taxes. After searching on (which you probably would think I am working for by now, but no), I began to shop using the feature where you could buy the books new from other sellers. You could also buy used from other sellers for even cheaper, but with used books you never know what you'll get until you see them, so we went for new. From this method I got all of his books for $227. Since these items are not taxed, it also makes it much easier for the wallet. So for the same quality of books delivered to my door, I got them for $150 cheaper, which is something that even as a retailer could not beat.

There are many great textbook sites out there, is another one of my favorites. The issue is, you have to have your list of books ready a great deal ahead of time, otherwise, you won't be able to get them on time. With, all books are generally shipped through Media Mail, which can take up to 3 weeks to get to you. Buying books from independent sellers may also prove a similar route, with standard shipping ranging up to 15 business days.

Keep sending your entries for a free copy of "The Penny Pincher's Club" to!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book Giveaway

After my entry on the Amazon Kindle below, I also realized I have an offer for my loyal readers at Frugal Green Girl!

"The Penny Pincher's Club" by Sarah Strohmeyer, a new chick lit type book was released earlier this month, and I have two copies to give away to readers of Frugal Green Girl. Like "Confessions of a Shopaholic", it follows the story of a woman going through a financial strain and is forced to give up her material possessions to get her life back in order. Along they way, you'll learn some tips yourself on how to save money. I'm happy to trade one of my boring personal finance books for an adventure, and I hope to post more information on this book in the future as I find opportunities for it.

In the mean time, I will give readers until August 15th at midnight (Central time) to enter in the drawing for a copy of "The Penny Pincher's Club". Email me your name and a way to contact you (email address is fine) to Join along with us, even if you don't get a free copy, and share the tips you find helpful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Paper is so last year

For my husband's birthday this year, I decided to get him a not-so-frugal, but what I would consider a very "green" gift - an Amazon Kindle. They have recently dropped in price, but are still at a quite outrageous $299.

My big thing with gifts is that I want them to be practical. While this gift costs a lot of money, I think it will pay itself off in the long run. I spend a lot of time researching more expensive purchases and finding customer reviews, which is something I would advise to anyone. At first, I didnt think buying a Kindle would be worth it, but after learning more about it, I saw how practical and useful it could be for him. My husband really loves to read classic novels, ones written quite a long time ago. For a while, he was collecting the anthology books by famous classic authors from Barnes & Noble, which tend to take up a lot of space in our apartment (soon-to-be house this weekend). The great part about these books is that the copyright has expired on them for quite some time, and now you can get all of these books for free on an electronic book, like the Kindle. This is also the reason why they are so cheap in stores, you are merely paying for the paper and ink the book was printed with. There are also websites like that have lists and lists of free books to read. So far, he has only really purchased one book (Eragon, for $6.99), which costs half price than buying a hard copy since you aren't paying for the components of the hard copy version of the book.

Additionally, this device provides a form of "free internet". By that, I mean you can search the Kindle store at anytime, anywhere. It utilizes Verizon wireless's "whispernet", but there is no data plan to pay. My husband was out with his parents this weekend driving in a large city and looking for a local store. He pulled out the Kindle to find what they were looking for. Be warned, this is a version of the internet that would look like what you would get on your mobile phone. Basically, it can do the job you are looking for, but is not a computer. You can search google or wikipedia, but don't look for YouTube videos on there.

Plus, and my favorite part, you are saving paper and saving space in your home! The Kindle can hold roughly 1,500 books, which I would think is very hard to fill (But I wouldn't put it past my husband). It also can give you your subscriptions to newspapers or magazines too. Another thing we loved is one of the newest features of the lastest version of the Amazon Kindle, it's text-to-speech function, which will read your newspaper, magazine, or book to you. While it is a somewhat creepy electronic voice, it does its job quite nicely. Publishers are also given the choice to not offer the text-to-speech feature, since this would likely hurt the audiobook sales.

There are other versions of "electronic books" available at other book stores, like Borders sells a version from Sony, however, I don't know if the features would even come close to the Kindle. also carries such great deals on books, that I don't know where you would get a better price.

If you have a special someone in your life who loves to read, a Kindle or similar product might be a more practical purchase than you think, and convenient! Books download to your Kindle in 60 seconds!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My adventure at Plato's Closet

First off, my apologies for being a while since my last post. Life has gotten chaotic recently and my internet connection has been bipolar lately.

Anyways, with our upcoming move into our new home in two weeks, I began going through all of my old clothes and deciding what I could get rid of. While I know we all like to hoard clothes, a good rule of thumb is, if you have not worn it in the past two years, you probably can get along without it. I ended up with a very large box of clothes to take over to Plato's Closet, a store that specializes in buying and selling used clothes for the young crowd. You may have something similar near you as well, that will pay you for your used clothing.

After giving them all of my items and doing some looking myself for about 30 minutes, they had my offer for me. They showed me the basket of clothes they wanted to buy, which out of the 30-35 items I probably had in there, they only took about 5-7 I would say. I'm not going to lie, they are pretty picky since the trends change so quickly. They told me they will typically not buy anything more than a year old, and do not take higher than a size 15 (for women). However, it was something that I was expecting to hear. They aren't going to buy things from you they cannot sell. I was happy to get whatever money out of this that I could, since they likely would give me as much at a rummage sale or from donations to Goodwill. I ended up getting about $15 from what they wanted, and I used some of it towards some clearance tank tops they had for $2 each. I got one American Eagle Outfitters top, one from Hollister, and another top I could use for my work, all for $6. Can't beat that!

Although it is tough to sell stuff to them, I think they offer a lot of good deals in stores like this. It was a weird experience for me because you are used to seeing racks with the same item in different sizes. Here, everything is categorized by size, then color. I remember last year wanting to find a specific color of blouse to go with a pair of pants I had, and going to a place like this would have been a lot easier than searching a typical store. If you have clothes that you should get rid of, or you haven't gone through your closet in a while, consider minimalizing your wardrobe and get some money for it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Recent Struggles Update

Well, my husband and I are officially homeowners! We are still renting our house to our seller, due to the fact we also need to complete our lease at the end of July. We were completely thrilled that everything worked out okay and our closing went, well, as smooth as it could have gone.

Anyways, I'd also like to take this time to tell you about a recent struggle with consumerism that has been a problem with getting a new house. I have such an awful compulsion to fill it with new furniture. For some reason, since this is our first home, I find myself wanting it to look like a "real house". While I bought the previous piece of furniture in the last post on Craig's list, this has been one of my most difficult battles with consumerism in a while. Additionally, while I switched my major 7 times in undergrad, one of them was interior architecture, also known as interior design. When you know about all the colors, gadgets, and furniture that you have been staring at and learning about for years it is so hard to not think about putting it in your own place. I don't know how interior designers keep any money in the bank! I am artistic by nature, and enjoy projects like this where I am suddenly given the freedom to paint walls and exercise the other freedoms that come with being a new home-owner.

As I have likely said in a previous post, its so much better to replace items in the house one at a time, then they are more affordable, and I am using this post mainly to reaffirm that to myself. I keep telling myself our savings needs to stay put. Even when looking at used items, like I was considering a sewing machine so I could make throw pillows and curtains rather than to pay a high price for them, however, I haven't used a sewing machine since the 7th grade. I would really want to take a refresher class, which is an additional expense. I would like to think skills with a sewing machine would pay off in the long run as an investment, however, I am still debating about whether the class and sewing machine would be worth it or just wait to afford the appropriate home accents and decor.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's that time of the season

We have a strange tradition in my family, its been there as long as I can remember. My parents are incredibly frugal, and they have done so via the yard sale. We have both run them each year, and a frequent shoppers of them. When they come to visit me, it also seems to be a tradition, in addition to a game of who can find the best deal. Sometimes we try to find the goofiest things as well.

My husband and I just closed on our first house this past Monday (hence why my posts have been behind), and now we are amidst looking for some new pieces for our new home. Craigslist, which in my opinion, can be comparable to a rummage sale, has been a new haven for me to search. I just got this year old lounger for only $150 (after talking them down from $175 of course). Especially when we are moving into a new place, its tempting to fill it with new furniture we can't always afford. Here are some good tips to follow when we find ourselves in this situation:
  1. If looking for new pieces, fill your home slowly by replacing pieces one by one as you can afford them. A few months ago I posted on creating an account that puts a small amount of money in it every pay check. Before you know it, you'll have some money for a new piece.
  2. Rummage sales can be your best friend in this scenario. The best times to hit, especially when you live in a college town like myself, is during May and July when the summer is providing great weather and college students' apartment leases are close to being up. Many live on another side of the country and won't be able to take some of their things with them. If they are selling a lot of their items (mine was trying to get rid of everything in the house), there is a good chance you can probably get a better deal by talking them down in price. If you can't, don't be afraid to walk away - they are likely more despirate than you to get rid of their furniture since they will be charged if it still in their apartment after their lease is up.
  3. Craiglist can also be resourceful for links to both furniture, rummage sales in the area, or anything, as you may know.
  4. I have also been finding websites like to be helpful in the search for new furniture at decent prices. If any of you know of other great websites, please let me know or share them in the comments!
Its amazing to find the big deals, plus there is even a greater sense of satisfaction when you know how much money you saved - brag to your friends!

My friend over at Green & Cheap has also just recently written on this subject, so be sure to check it out as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hair Cuts for Cheap

When I was a kid, my mother or grandmother always cut my hair. In fact, my mom did, and still does, cut many of my cousins' hair. However, both of them were also licensed cosmetologists. But for many families you don't have to be one to give haircuts. There are always commercials on for the next set of clippers to use on the men in the family. But what can women do?

I'm lucky to find that local beauty academies are great ways to save money on haircuts. Today I got my haircut for $7. When I go to my normal salon, I pay $25. If you are willing to sacrifice cutting the ties with your current salon or stylist, and perhaps not having a usual one either, consider going to get your hair cut by students. I've also read that if you are willing to get whatever style they choose, to be a model, you could get a hair cut for free.

Another issue for me is that I keep my hair very short. I struggle with it because to keep it at the desired length it has to be cut almost every 2 months, if not sooner. Shelling out $25 each time that frequently pained me a lot, but now, I can get them as often as I need, and I can keep the short hair that I love.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


This post is a part of a weekly section for the month of June on how to save money for weddings.

This is what I believe many people think of when the word "honeymoon" comes up. It is a conventional, prescribed way of seeing things, given to us by the many vacationing commercials from places like Sandals, etc. In fact, this is a photograph from my honeymoon, in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. I thought this was what I wanted, but in fact, I often say the wedding was for me and the honeymoon was for my husband. I found out I was not so fond of the excessive heat and humidity (especially in one of the worst months, August), and I was also stung by a jellyfish while swimming in the ocean off of the shore of our all-inclusive resort.

The recommendation of the all-inclusive resort came from my parents, who come to a place like this every year during the winter. While you can get your money's worth, if you aren't into drinking a lot, or eating a lot, you might want to reconsider your options. However, where we DID save money was the fact we did take this honeymoon in the off-season. We also took a package deal through Apple Vacations to save some money, which I don't know if I would recommend again, but technology keeps expanding every year and we now have great websites like, and, that can offer stellar deals. I have been actually watching cruise line deals with Priceline for a while now, and last week there was a deal for a 4 day cruise to the Caribbean for $199 a person!

Booking through a travel agent you will come across extra fees, booking fees, etc., so I would recommend booking a trip for yourself if at all possible. The real deals will be online if you know the right places.

The other thing to note, as I was saying earlier, is make sure to find a place that both of you can have some fun. The tropics are just one place where people go. My parents went to Yellowstone Park, and my husband's parents went to Niagara Falls and Cooperstown, NY (My Father-in-law is a big baseball fanatic). If I could do it all over again, I would have considered a cruise. While they are all-inclusive too, I found myself bored sitting at a resort all day. I am someone who needs an adventure everyday, while my husband was content just reading a book on the beach. Find what is fun for the both of you! And while my parents recommended this to us, be sure its what YOU want.

Also, honeymoons do not have to be an extravagant expense, it is another thing pushed onto us by society. A couple of years ago my friends did a road trip of the state, another one of my friend's getting married next month is staying at a cabin for their honeymoon. Weddings are so much about prioritizing, because it is likely that everything you want will not be there. If you can live without a fancy honeymoon, than go without it. The important part is that you have fun and enjoy the special time to bond with your new spouse.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Free Redbox Rental

Looking to rent a movie for the weekend?

Sign up for emails from Red Box
and you'll be offered a promotional code good for one free rental.

After using my free rental code from Red Box, I got an additional free rental for signing up for emails. So, you might get two free rentals from Red Box when signing up for promotional emails.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weddings Galore!

Its getting to be that time of the year...June (and the rest of the summer for that matter), the most common month to be getting hitched. This next month (and this week) features an additional weekly post on ways to save on wedding expenses.

I was married not too long ago, in August it will be 3 years. I grew up with very "frugal" or "thrifty" parents, and since weddings are no friend to anyone's wallet (except maybe the bride and groom if its very traditional) we were stuck with finding ways to cut back on wedding expenses. There were some actually good solutions in my opinion, and one I took up again recently after being asked to stand up in a wedding.

The dress can be by far one of the most expensive parts of the wedding. After watching shows like "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC, women are willing to spend thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, on that one special dress that will make them feel like the beautiful woman that they are. I recall my dress shopping trip with my mom to a nice bridal shop in a nearby town. As I walked upstairs to where all of their bridal dresses were, it was there, on a mannequin. It was the first dress I saw. My mom was not so pleased by the $800 price tag, but I actually thought it was not so bad. Later that night, I started exploring on the internet, determined to find my dress for a price my mom could not refuse. And it was on ebay that I found the same dress for $630. I know it sounds crazy, but if you know the style and size of the dress you want (and tried it on in the store), look for it on auction sites like ebay. Sometimes, the savings are quite astonishing.

Women who are standing up in weddings can also follow suit. I am standing up in a wedding this summer as a "groomswoman", which was nice because I was given the freedom to choose my own dress as long as it was black and floor-length. Again, I went to ebay and found a Jim Hjelm dress, selling from $250-$355, for $47. Brand new. As with any ebay purchase, look through the seller's feedback and check what the fitting sizes of the designer are. Bridal wear is such a tricky business because for some reason they all seem to run small. Typically, whatever size you are in jeans, you need to up it by one or two sizes. Strange, I know, but since you aren't buying it from a shop, either check your measurements or try on a dress made by that designer in a store if you can't get the actual one. I would also say your best bets are the ones selling from New York, which is where both of my dresses came from. With all of their shops and being the high-fashion city they are, they always seem to have plenty to give to the rest of us.

Additionally, after getting my dress in the mail, my mom had a friend who was a seamstress. As any bridal magazine doing an article on budget-savers will tell you, having friends who can provide services for you will save you big time. My aunt did most of the flowers, a family friend made our wedding cake, a family friend (with a professional camera) did our wedding photos, my bridesmaids and I put together wedding favors and service programs...I could go on. But if you're on a budget, these are some of the best ways to save money.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Remembering Life Before...A Commentary

Recently, a new Wal-Mart opened in our town. We already have a "supercenter" version on one side of town, and after a long battle between citizens and the city, the second Wal-Mart was built and opened this past month. I'm not about to get into the politics of shopping at Wal-Mart - I know many people who refuse to shop there due to personal reasons, so putting these beliefs aside, just follow me on this. Anyways, I went to this new Wal-Mart, and I was shocked to walk in to see how small it was. Its less than half the size of the typical supercenter version, but yet, I stood remembering back to the time when all Wal-Marts were this size. Now, I cannot think of one Wal-Mart in my life that did not upsize or start off as the Supercenter. At this new Wal-Mart, I could see both the back/front and both sides of the store from where ever I was. It still had a small grocery store section on one side as well. And you know what the funny part was? I didn't miss anything. I had an assortment of odds and ends that I needed (including food), and found them all, and faster since the store is so much smaller. So what is taking up all of the space in these gigantic Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target Supercenters? I can only fathom that the variety of the same product might be it. However, this experience has helped me realize that the point of these large stores is to make money, raise consumerism, and have you realize you can't live without it. But the point is, there was a time before Supercenter stores and we did live without them, just fine in fact.

This is a postcard that was just posted on this week's Postsecret blog. If you haven't yet seen the blog or books on Postsecret, I highly recommend them. A couple of weeks ago I left for school without my cell phone, and realized it once I got there. I suddenly had feelings of confusion and loss...what if someone calls me?! Note, I probably only receive 1-2 calls a day, but for some reason I think today may be an exception. My supervisor at my job, as understanding as she is, lets me go home to go get my phone (approximately a 3 minute drive). She understood because she knew she couldn't live without her phone either. Cell phones were not really a part of my life until I was 16 years old, and even at times in between then and when I got married, I didn't have a cell phone...and some how I got along without one. What are we so afraid of in leaving our cell phone behind? Sure, we have families and times of emergency, it certainly makes sense, but what does this promote? If we disconnect ourselves from the world, will that benefit us? I think many of us would say "yes", and others who might say "no" or "possibly". Either way, I am amazed at the feelings of panic or stress that we get from leaving electronic items like cell phones at home, and we don't know how to cope. Its like an addiction.

That being said, I would encourage you to think about what your life was like before luxury items like cell phones were a "want" and not a "need". Some how, we all survived.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Frugal Green Girl Returns!

Well, its 12:33am, and I have finally finished my last paper for the semester, yay!

Now, its graduation time for many, and I was happy to order some "recycled" gifts for some people I know who are graduating. I know its hard to believe there are any things that are worthwhile in ordering, rather than just giving plain old money, which I am sure most graduate would enjoy. However a lot of the gifts out there are very unique, artistic, and can be more personal. Plus, most college graduates, or even high school graduates, are looking to move out into their own place, why not look for something that could be a cool conversational piece, or something that just has a "more-expensive-than-college-dorm-posters" look. You'll be amazed at what is out there! is a great place to get some ideas and have some really cool items and designs. There are also many ideas that you can make yourself, from ReadyMade magazine to plenty of videos on YouTube. Nothing is greater than when you can say you made it yourself (then they'll HAVE to keep it). If you are looking for something in particular, try googling the item along with "recycled". You may find either instructions or a place to buy, or both!

Happy hunting and congratulations to all the graduates this month!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

That time of the semester again...

Hi everyone,

My apologies again on the lack of posts these past two is finals time and my weekends have been spent doing the kind of writing I don't like to do - writing papers. Anyways, I will be back after this weekend.

Stay Green!
-Frugal Green Girl

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone! Luckily I have a beautiful day outside to watch from my office window to observe (I'm trying to be positive here).

Although I know its a little late in the day, there have been some awesome giveaways today that I thought I would share with you in case you still have some time. Reusable totebags seem to the popular giveaway, and I think you will find them quite useful. This information has been gathered from other websites, like, and

  • All Disney Stores are handing out free Mickey Mouse totebags today. Bring in three plastic bottles to any location to get yours.
  • Head here to get a mail-in rebate form for Reynolds Wrap’s recycled foil wrap. Then, you can go buy a roll of it and get your money back (up to $3.99).
  • Walgreen’s is giving out free recyclable tote bags today. All you have to do is print out the coupon here and buy anything in the store to get yours. The coupon will also give you 15 percent off most items in the store.
  • You can get a free reusable tote bag from The Body Shop, too. No coupon needed — you just have to spend at least $30 and they’ll give it to you. The store will also donate $2 from all purchases today to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Target stores are offering $2 coupons for GE Energy Smart compact fluorescent light bulbs for the first 1 million guests to check out in each store. They’ll also hand out free reusable tote bags.
  • Check with your local Subaru dealer or Whole Foods store, but the two have been putting on a "eco-tour" for Earth day, where if you test drive a Suburu, you will receive a $20 gift certificate to Whole Foods, and a potential tote bag.
  • Earthbound Farms is also giving away a free tote bag if you are the first 10,000 people every week in the month of April to request for it. You just have to read and do a little pledge.
  • For our Canadian friends, Starbucks in Canada is offering free coffee on April 22, 2009 if you bring in a travel mug. They will fill it up with a complimentary brewed Pike Place Roast!
  • Not to vote for more consumerism, however, Old Navy is one of my favorite places to shop due to moderately low prices and nicer clothes. They are currently running a special when you buy a $1 tote you will receive 10% off your purchase and may find more on ways to save (i.e. coupons) on their website.
There are more awesome deals for you out there, so be sure to look around at what is in your area!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Enjoying the Great Outdoors...

My apologies for the tardiness of this post...its getting to be that point of the semester when many large papers are due, so the next month may be more sparse for new posts. I'll let you blame my teachers too.

A couple of months ago I created a post on checking out gyms before buying membership. Well, here would be the first place to go - outdoors! Not only is it free, its also a great way to utilize nature's (or your city's) beautiful scenery. The money that can be spent on a year gym membership can be quite extravagant, and the machines also use a lot of energy to help you do something people can do out in the real world - walk, run, or bicycling. Now I understand gyms have many other uses, like strength training and other valuable equipment, but many people do go to gyms to simply use the treadmill or exercise bike. I personally found myself at gyms for a few reasons: a) cold weather/time of day, b) the ability to control pace and distance with a machine, and c) the personal safety of a gym. For me, a and b have been resolved, but the security of a gym environment in comparison to running outdoors can be a challenge, especially for women. I think the key is to be smart about it - Don't run in the dark, stay on routes with heavier "traffic" (i.e. more publicly used areas), and don't run the same route all of the time. [However, as a side note, I also think this is an illusion that can be created in our mind. A gym can be just as a dangerous place as running routes in your city or town, don't be fooled.]

Anyways, about a month ago, I was planning to start doing some marathon training outside, but I was left very frustrated with methods of measuring the distance of runs. I didn't have the money to afford a fancy GPS running watch, which can track your routes, and I was finding difficulty calibrating my iPod Touch with Nike+ program (i.e. a type of accelerometer mechanism). After much time spent on the internet scoping out potential tools to help me figure out the distance of my runs, I came across a website that utilizes Google Maps to help you figure out your mileage. All you have to do is click points that follow your route on the map to start. Using the satellite view, I was even able to calculate off road routes, like my local dog park. Its available at, and its been an absolute god-send for me to keep me running outside. If you are looking for a better way to document your routes rather than just driving them with your car to use the odometer first, please give this website a try, a great resource to getting more runners outside. You can also see routes people have documented doing in your area!

Even if you aren't into the whole exercise thing - now is the time to start getting outside to absorb some vitamin D from the sun! Enjoy what the outdoors can bring to you or your family.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Recyclable Style

My mother-in-law is very much into Diet Coke. She has the shirts, memorabilia, but first and foremost, keeps gallons of it at her house. Over this past Christmas I had really wanted to make her a very cool hand-made project by using Diet Coke wrappers, in particular, a purse. She had loved the afghan I crocheted for her during the previous year, and lets face it, its much cheaper (and more personal) than buying a gift. However, I failed to realize that collecting these wrappers can take a long time. I have been meaning to try to collect these over the year, but I thought it would be cool to share this project's instructions with you, in case you might know of someone who would like this as a gift.

I found instructions for this project from another blog, on the candy wrapper purse blog by Mylinda Agler. Once you learn this folding technique, you can pretty much use any type of wrappers, from potato chip bags to candy wrappers. The colors, the style of the bag, the material, and any other editions provide you with an awesome amount of creativity to work with.

If you aren't into the arts and crafts scene but would still like to get one of these bags for you or someone you know, check out Ecoist bags. With over 50 styles of bags in tons of colors, they provide a great eye catching bag while saving the Earth. Even if you know you wouldn't buy any of these, they can be a great source of ideas on what kind of bag you might like to make.

Finally, if you are more of a visual learner, there are a couple of good videos on You Tube showing the methods of candy wrapper folding. Some of the better ones (in my opinion) can be found here or here.

Who would have thought you could make an awesome gift out of garbage?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Economically Efficient Ways of Buying Soda

While I cannot claim that soda is at all a green or healthy lifestyle choice, I'll be the first to admit my addiction to it and I won't quitting anytime soon. Now that we're being realistic, I've been thinking about the most efficient way to purchase soda. As you know, soda can be bought in many forms, from 12 ounce cans to 2 liter bottles, to a 24 pack of cans. But which way gives you the most bang for your buck?

Obviously, going generic would be an easy way to make buying soda more efficient, which usually is half the price of name-brand soda. In this case, I will examine what happens when we look at name-brand soda since it will be the most expensive and generally carry the same price across the board. Generic sodas can range in price, so be sure to check out what your grocery store offers.

If we look at the name-brand, 24 pack of soda, with no sale price, this usually goes for about $7.99, not including tax. When we break that down, that comes down to about 33 cents per 12 ounces of soda (which is the general form of measurement I will be using here as a standard). A 12 pack of can soda will typically come about the same price or even more, since it usually is priced at $4.50. At $4.50 its about 37 cents a can. If we look at the 2 liter bottle of soda, at the name-brand price, its usually $1.29, again with no sale price. Translated into ounces, 2 liters is equal to approximately 67.6 ounces. This is equal to about 5 and a half cans of soda, which then levels out to about 23 cents per 12 ounces of soda! We save approximately 10 cents per 12 ounces of soda when we buy 2 liter bottles of soda.

(I am not aware of the price of the 6 pack bottles of soda, just because I usually can't drink that much at a time, but I have left my equation for calculating these numbers at the bottom for you. Next time I go I will check out the price and add it here as well.) After checking at my local grocery store, for a 6 pack of 20 ounce bottles goes for about $4.29. At this rate, you are paying 42 cents per 12 ounces of soda. Again, this assuming there is not a sale, and this is a price of a name-brand soda.

Our other ways of buying soda, like 20 ounce bottles up by the check out counter, are clearly over-priced and used as a type of impulse buy for you. These are also priced at about $1.29 a bottle. At that rate, you are spending 77 cents per 12 ounces of soda! Thats a huge difference, so next time you are waiting in line at the store, look away from those displays, because their purpose is to rip you off and satisfy your need for whatever you like to drink.

Pepsi and Coke have also been selling these "half-cans" of soda, which I hope you can already predict these are a rip off as well. Aluminum is an expensive material right now, so you will be paying for it. If you cannot drink a whole can of soda at once, again, consider the wallet-friendly 2 liter bottles of soda. You only have to pour as much as you can drink.

In addition to saving on buying 2 liter bottles, watch for sales! This week my grocery store had a sale for 88 cents on name brand soda. That brings me down to 16 cents per can of soda, or basically half the price of canned soda! Again, with generic soda, you're likely to see similar savings, so if you can bear with it, give generic soda a chance, and consider just buying name-brand soda when its on sale.

Now, if you are drinking SO much soda, it might be possible to profit back from such, by turning your aluminum cans in for some pocket change. In our area, a large 20 gallon garbage bag of non-crushed cans gave us about $1.50 back, so its up to you whether this is something to pursue. However, I would encourage you to recycle these containers, plastic or aluminum, to keep our Earth clean. You can also make a lot of cool things out of 2 liter bottles, and there is a list of awesome ideas here. I remember when I was in 3rd grade we made miniature green houses out of them, and watched a plant grow a little bit everyday in our bottle. I use one now to work with my dog's water dish (like a water cooler works) so I dont have to fill his dish as often. In addition, since using 2 liter bottles requires you to use your own glasses, this can also be a more eco-friendly way to serving (assuming you are not using disposable cups). Since you wash and reuse these glasses, you are not filling our landfills further.

To use this equation in figuring out what you are paying per can of soda at your grocery store, I used to following:
(With 12 or 24 packs of soda:) Price divided by number of cans.
(With 2 liters of soda:) Number of total ounces divided by 12, then the price divided by the number you got from the first part of the equation.

Damn those math teachers in school, I really am using math in real life!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Frugal Green Girl buys a house!

Well, over the past couple of months, my husband and I had been in limbo about to continue renting or to consider buying a home. Both can have advantages and disadvantages. Not really acting on our thoughts about buying, we happened to stumble on our dream starter home, with a pretty dreamy price. After discussing things with our potential seller, we applied for and received pre-approval on a loan. And after negotiating happened over a day, we settled on an offer. Right now we are amidst of a home inspection and final loan approval this week. While I know all of you are not looking to buy a home right now, I plan on featuring a couple of posts on the home-buying process since there are many opportunities to afford homes at reasonable costs - especially in the buyer's market that exists right now.

While being a graduate student does not supply a great income to our dual income, we found we were still able to afford a reasonably low down payment with an FHA loan. FHA loans are loans that are insured by the government (specifically the Federal Housing Administration), that are provided to lenders to let people, who may typically not be eligible for a loan due to a small down payment or low income, afford a home. These are very common with first-time home buyers who generally cannot afford a hefty 20% down payment, and FHA loans allow down payments at 5% or even less. These types of loans are also good for people with credit problems or bankruptcies, and provide a great way to rebuild credit. In addition, much of the down payment can be gifts from relatives (which some lenders may not traditionally allow). However, these loans are not just for first-time home buyers or people with bad credit - anyone can qualify and there are no income limits. More information on the potential benefits of FHA loans are available in home buying books, on numerous websites, and specifically the FHA's website.

While this sounds like a good deal, there obviously can be catches to something that seems to good to be true. In many ways, FHA loans can be more expensive than a traditional loan, because of the fact of the low down payment and the insurance you have to pay for supplying such a small down payment, so be sure to do your homework before considering FHA loans as an option for you.

More to come on first time home buying for sure, as this is proving to be quite a journey and learning experience in the world of personal finance. :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

From your fellow readers

Hello everyone,

This week, especially due to mid-term exams before spring break, I would love to take this opportunity to turn this post to you guys, the readers!

Jamie, a fellow reader, told me about TerraCab, a new business that has recently launched that provides fleets of emission-free pedicabs. Plus, they are sponsored by other companies so they are absolutely FREE to riders. These cabs will start becoming available on Earth Day, April 22nd, in Seattle, Washington, but they do plan to expand nationally. The vehicle works via petal-power by a trained driver, which contains a rechargable battery to work the headlights and signal lights, and to assist on hills. Plus, the companies that also sponsor these vehicles give free coupons to riders. So a free ride, and an emission-free vehicle to get where you need to be, where do I sign up? For more information, check out their website ( or call 1-877-7FREERIDE. Hopefully they will be expanding nationally very soon!

Naomi, another fellow reader, told me about, a new price comparison website that will search the web to make sure consumers are getting the very best deal. This site works a little differently from most in that the more you search, the more the website will continue to grow! Be sure to keep an eye out for coupons as well to save even more, which can be found at

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to mention Frugal Focus, of which this blog is a feature of. Not only will you see posts from my blog on here, but you can also find posts from blogs very similar to mine, especially with ways to save money. Its a great chance to see more ideas in one spot, explore the other great blogs out there, and as always, hearing what Frugal Green Girl has to say this week!

Just as I posted reader submitted ideas here today, I always want to hear of the new things you have discovered in your frugal/green quests as well. If you have a good idea, feel free to email me at

Also, just as an FYI, I will likely not post until mid-week next week- a very cruel professor decided to make our essay mid-term due in the middle of our spring break week. :(

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Energy Saving Search

The power of our computers can be a huge, energy-consuming matter. While I love my computer dearly for all it helps me with in life, its not always a friend to the environment. There are lots of great computers out there that allow for an "energy saving mode", or carry the energy star compliancy sticker. So what if a new computer is not in your future right now or you don't have an energy saving computer? Well, believe it or not there are even more ways to save energy than just buying an energy star compliant computer, or turning on the energy-saving mode on your computer.

The colors used on your display screen can be an energy waster by the brightness of the color used. For example, Google is a prime example of a absolute white screen, that takes more energy to produce than, say, black. While I know not all of us can have the advantage of choosing a black over a white backdrop, its something to think about when putting a picture on your desktop, or keeping some windows down on the scroll bar, rather than keeping them up on your screen if you aren't using them. also wrote an article regarding this phenomenon:

"Take a look at Google, for instance, who gets about 200 million queries a day. Let's assume each query is displayed for about 10 seconds; that means Google is running for about 550,000 hours every day on some desktop. Assuming that users run Google in full screen mode, the shift to a black background will save a total of 15 (74-59) watts. Now take into account that about 25 percent of the monitors in the world are CRTs, and at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, that's about $75,000/year, a goodly amount of energy and dollars for changing a few color codes."

Also, many people have created "black" versions of Google's popular search engine:
While I know it seems using these search engines may be only a small drop in the bucket, every little bit helps! If we all adopt this strategy, it will begin to add up. You'll also save slightly on your electric bills for conserving energy, so its a win for our environment and your pocketbook!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Try Before You Buy: Gym Membership

Over the past month I have started training to run a half-marathon in April. I was very excited at the prospect, and I knew training for the event would be my biggest challenge. Staying committed to any type of program that requires discipline can be hard for anyone. Due to the cold weather that occurs during this time of year, I thought it would be too harsh for me to run outdoors having no real experience in running. Normally, I use our student recreation center, which provides free gym membership for all current students. However, on weekday nights, I found this place to be quite on my nerves. There are no fans on to ventilate the place properly, and it was incredibly crowded, which left me sometimes waiting in line to use a treadmill. In addition, I also have a minor phobia about crowded places, which got me to think of turning to a new place to continue training.

Looking at gyms for membership can be an overwhelming process, with a lot of information to consider. Now, obviously the most environmentally friendly route for exercise is to be out in mother nature herself, not on energy consuming exercise machines. Always consider that option first. In my case, I decided to take on gyms that would allow a one month membership, instead of committing myself to a year membership. Gym memberships can be so expensive, and they are hidden with loads of fees, even for just enrolling as a member. In addition, these rates can also increase every year. Although paying for membership on a per month basis will likely be more expensive than as an enrolled member, you are not committed to something that you risk not using every month. Hence, I enrolled for a month until the weather gets warm enough to run outside.

If you are thinking about enrolling in a gym membership, consider many options for information:
  • Talk to friends, family, or co-workers about where they go. What do they think? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a member at their gym? Sometimes referrals from other members can also get you discounts.
  • Check out online resources like that provide reviews on local businesses in your area.
  • By all means, take a tour! Take tours of multiple prospective gyms, especially if you are looking to train in a specific area. Do they have the equipment or the services you are looking for? Do not be afraid to ask questions about their gym, this is a big portion of your money that is going to them.
  • Many gyms will offer a trial membership, take advantage! Some are for a week, some a day, but either way it will give you an opportunity to feel what things are like in this environment. Often these trial memberships will be posted on the gym's website or a sign on the in or outside.
  • Beware of clauses in your membership contract. Someone I know enrolled in a gym for a specific group fitness class, which was later canceled after she had enrolled. She was not allowed for a refund or to cancel or transfer her membership.
  • BE SURE this is something that can fit into your monthly budget and will be worth the use! Gym membership is not getting any cheaper these days, so be sure it is worth the money up front.
  • If you are looking to use a single piece of equipment the entire time during your membership, like in my case, a treadmill, consider the advantages of purchasing this item. Generally the use of this item over its lifespan will be paid off much sooner than your gym membership, and you will still have something tangible after all is said and done.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Starting an Emergency Fund

Over the past couple months, I have decided to take up my mother's advice, and start a type of semi-emergency fund. I'm not talking about the emergency funds that the big boys in personal finance talk about, which apparently should be anywhere from 3-6 months of your salary in case the worst happens, I'm talking about a smaller version that we all can live with. The premise for this account is simple - open another account at your bank or credit union (I just call mine "extra") and set the account to take out a small amount, like $10-$20 per paycheck, out of your savings or checking account (where ever you put your paycheck).

Because it is such a small amount of money, you hardly even notice its gone. Over time, this amount will build up, not to a staggering amount by any means, but something to aid you in case your washer breaks, or the car needs repairs. The blow seems less detrimental to your budget when you already have an account set up for that sort of thing. I have had no real need to use this account yet, but now that I have saved up a decent amount, I would feel sort of sad if I had to take from it, which is a new experience in comparison to my normal bad spending habits.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Advent of Stainless Steel Waterbottles

Due to a time crunch last week, I was unable to post for that week, in turn you will receive two posts from me this week. So be sure to read the following entry after this one to get your fix. :)

Last month I was contacted by the owner of Cynergreen, a company that manufactures and sells various types of stainless steel water bottles in order to promote less waste and earth friendly products (They also do some other great stuff, but I leave it to you to visit the website if you want to know more). I had been noticing over the past couple of months that more and more of the stainless steel type of water bottle appearing around my place of work, and I was wondering if these would feel better and work better than my plastic Rubbermaid water bottle I had been using since the beginning of my going green days. Anyway, they gladly sent me one to give it a trial run. To say up front, these bottles are BPA free, which you may know from a previous entry here on Frugal Green Girl, is something to look out for. I would suspect that since stainless steel is generally treated the same, that most stainless steel water bottles, regardless of manufacturer, are BPA-free as well.

This is the water bottle that I received, which is just the right color for me and this blog. I tested this out for the following week, and came to the following list of pros and cons about using this type of bottle:
  • The stainless steel does a good job at keeping water cooler than my plastic Rubbermaid bottle, or in my mind it felt cooler at least.
  • This bottle also had a convenient carabiner for easier carrying.
  • Despite its wide mouth opening, spilling was rare for me (and that's something you don't want people to see at the office).
  • Holds a good amount of fluid (20 oz). However, stainless steel bottles come in all shapes and sizes. My boss has a gigantor bottle that holds 48 oz.
  • Something about metal in my mouth that I don't like...I don't know how other people feel about this, but metal on my teeth sometimes gives me a goosebump-like feeling.
  • I really didn't like the twist-off top. I would spend a lot of time trying to either get it off, or trying to put it back on correctly so it fit in the alignment of the lines in the metal to hold it on. This seems to be a common theme among all stainless steel water bottles, so if it doesn't matter to you as much, then there is little here to worry about.
Truthfully, I still use my plastic Rubbermaid one over the stainless steel bottle, but I will still use the stainless steel water bottle occasionally. The point is, if you aren't using a form of reusable water bottle by now, you should take its value seriously. Not only are you saving the planet by reusing materials, but you are also saving money by not purchasing bottled water and using water from either the tap or a Brita/Pur pitcher.

Making your own Bread!

If you can't tell by my blogroll, I am a huge fan of The Simple Dollar. If I could do blogging as a full time job, I would like to think this blog would be modeled similar to Trent's. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out! While his blog is mostly about personal finance issues, going green can often be a product of saving money. Anyways, one of his most popular entries is the value of homemade bread and how to make it. While I wasn't sure about this at first, since bread at the store typically costs a little more than a dollar (or 79 cents at Aldi stores), I wasn't sure if this could be a good timesaver. However, Trent talks about the amount of preservatives in bread in order to maximize shelf life, and what effect this has on the actual taste of the bread and your health for that matter. I remember when I was a kid during the 90s and popularity of the bread-baking machine, and tasting not only the goodness of homemade bread, but also the warmth from the oven. Its a really good taste, which is likely why I eat so much of it in nicer restaurants that make their own bread. So anyway, after reading Trent's entry I thought this would be worth a try, especially because I would like to be learning more about how to cook. I have pretty much never done any type of bread making in my life, but followed the instructions and some common sense logic, and turned out a beautiful and delicious loaf of bread. It was actually a fairly easy thing to do on a Sunday as well, which for me is like a chore day and a lounging day around the house, so adding in bread making wasn't all too much of an inconvenience. Plus, you get to punch the dough for a good ten minutes, which can be a great stress reliever! Nothing like hitting two birds with one stone on this one.

This was my end product for my first try at baking homemade bread, and it was quite scrumptious! The ingredients are a simple mixture, no real rocket science here, and getting in the appropriate amount of flour. All you need is a packet of yeast, milk, butter, sugar, salt, and flour. Again, for more detailed instructions (with great pictures) check out Trent's entry at The Simple Dollar. Even through industrial bread only costs a little over a dollar, the cost of the ingredients are likely to be less, especially if you buy them in bulk, and its flat out better for your health without all the preservatives of industrial bread. You could even use organic ingredients and make this even more healthy! Your local co-op is a great source for these ingredients, and many grocery stores are now adapting a "natural foods" section where organic foods are more available and affordable.

Consider giving this one a try, you might even enjoy it (the punching especially)!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Value of Customer Reviews

For those of you with larger dogs, I find trips to pet stores a challenge in terms of finding effective dog toys that aren't destroyed in seconds. I will spend a great deal of time standing in aisles, contemplating whether this toy will withstand my dog's chewing ability. After numerous attempts at trying to find "good" dog toys for my young lab at my local PetCo store, I decided to take up on's 4-for-3 deal on pet toys. I was on the hunt for the "indestructable" dog toy, hoping to find more than one. While the descriptions are helpful, the one thing I find myself looking to more commonly is the customer reviews. DO NOT underestimate the power of this information. I cannot tell you (nor do I want to think about) the amount of money I have spent on dog toys that have been destroyed in a matter of minutes.

This review is one that I read for the "Busy-Buddy Tug-a-Jug", one of the many toys that involves a puzzle with treats or food. I'm happy to say that after 4 days, it is still in tact and looks like it will be with us for a while. I was happy to find reviews written my dog owners with a similar problem - the power chewer. I plan to continue buying dog toys on-line solely for the customer reviews I can read after finding 4 good quality dog toys. While some are more expensive, I would rather spend the money on something that will last a year or two, rather than something that will be shredded to pieces within a few days. In addition, online retailers like Amazon generally have cheaper prices than pet stores, will have good deals like the buy 3 get one free, and have a greater variety of toys than any store. These reviews are on many retailer websites, like Walmart or Target in addition to Amazon, so be sure to look for them and take advantage of the information they have to offer.

I also used these reviews when making large purchases, like the recent laser printer I bought a few weeks ago. With 52 customer reviews and an overall star rating of 4.5 out of 5, this gave me confidence this printer would work well. The reviews also give you an opportunity to find out about minor faults or things that you wouldn't know about until you have actually purchased. The common complaint with my printer was the paper would curl easily, however, I considered it minor when deciding to purchase, and I do not have that problem after using it.

This practice is also very similar to Consumer Reports, which is something I subscribed to over the past year to purchase 2 vehicles and new cell phone service provider. Consumer Reports provides information on cars, electronics, appliances, insurance, child and baby items, and more. To date (our cars were purchased in February and April of last year), the cars that we have bought have had no problems, and neither has our new cell phone provider. You can receive all the information over the internet for only $5.95 on a per month basis, and cancel when you don't need it anymore.

Consider the power of customer reviews next time you are making a purchase that involves consideration of the variety of products available, it can save you a good deal of money when you buy right the first time around.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Reducing What You Print

Being a graduate student, I have a lot of crap to print. Professors always want us to read extra outside articles in addition to whatever textbook readings there are. Plus, I want to save a lot of these for my doctoral comprehensive exams in a few years for studying purposes. When I first moved here, I was fascinated by the fact that Kansas seems to lack an environmental awareness, and the amount of printing seems to only add to it. My undergraduate university had double-sided printers everywhere, which saved students A LOT of paper. Imagine the difference of only using 15 pages of paper rather than 30.

I know many of you are probably thinking, "Why don't you just read them on your computer? That is a much more ecofriendly way of reading papers for classes." I know. And I agree with you. However, I care about my vision, I'm not someone who can read 30 pages of pdf files for hours without getting a headache. Plus, I am also someone who likes to take notes on the paper and highlight certain ideas. Its much more generative for my thinking.

Anyway, so yesterday my husband was having issues with one of our older printers. He was trying to print homework for his classes and the printer just kept saying the paper was out when it clearly was not. We ended up printing from my printer (I seem to accumulate free ones when I buy new computers, and I have another in my office). But overall, I cannot express how much I hate inkjet printers. If one drop of water touches the paper, the ink goes everywhere, and I find myself conserving the ink as much as possible because it seems to run out so quickly, thus costing me another $30 to $35 for more ink cartridges. While I am sure there are ways to save in this department (refilling cartridges rather than buying new ones, primarily), I have decided to purchase a laser printer with double sided printing. When you actually look at the money you save buy going with a laser printer, in addition to the double-sided printing, its quite amazing.

With a laser printer cartridge (i.e. toner), I bought a $70 "high-yield" cartridge that prints approximately 7,000 pages. That's 1 cent per page. Comparing to ink jet cartridges, which can differ in price, but if you just say $35, which is what I paid on average for an ink cartridge for my Canon printer, averages about anywhere from 200 to 450 pages at 5% coverage. If you are at a higher capacity, (the 450 page mark) that's about 8 cents a page, and at lower capacity (200 pages) it costs around 18 cents a page. That's a huge difference!

With my husband now returning to school and needing to read outside articles, I could only see benefit in purchasing a laser printer. "But aren't those expensive? They are usually a very big and complex machine." I hear you thinking. True, but its a key to know of where are the right places to look., for example offers excellent deals on laser printers, rather than paying full or expensive prices at your local Office Max or Best Buy. I purchased the Brother HL-5250DN REFURBISHED printer. For a new one of these printers, it would be $190 on, or $250 at a store. A refurbished printer cost $160. New or refurbished, I don't think this printer is very expensive in comparison to other laser printers, especially ones with all the bells and whistles. But when I buy refurbished, I save $90! You can always save money by purchasing a company refurbished product, which also typically comes with a warranty to ease your mind.

Add this all up with the amount of paper you save by using a double sided printer (which you can always turn off if you have a paper to turn in that cannot be double sided), the savings are colossal. If you have a lot to print, consider looking at what else is out these. Laser printers are more affordable nowadays than you think.