Sunday, June 12, 2016

Stretch Your Budget Using Grocery Coupons

SECTION 3
An Introduction To Grocery Couponing.
Put to use coupons that are a right fit for you. Not all coupons will have your name on them. A huge part in using grocery coupons is having a system in place so that you can have accessibility to them. 

Your ongoing goal is to keep your coupons organized and ready for use. I like the binder method below for my main once a month monthly shopping, and a backup coupon box for anytime odds and ends grocery shopping trips.

I maintain both files and tailor them to my specific needs. I have vegan household, and pull together coupons that help me meet those vegan needs. I can normally save 50% to 70% off, and I'm happy with that. 


Your savings realized will depend upon the work and time you are willing to put in. Your knowledge base too will play a huge part in how much you save. Also, if the ends justifies the means take time out and learn more.

I know a lot of folks don't like to grocery coupon, and sometimes I don't, and I don't. I still, however, feel that knowing something about grocery couponing is a plus. Someone that I casually know was introduced to grocery couponing by me some years ago. 

I would just teach her a few couponing tips whenever I saw her in the grocery store. A co-worker taught me how to grocery coupon on our breaks many years ago. So, I was in essence paying it forward.


By chance I ran into her at the beginning of this year, and she was so elated to see me. She told me that her husband been laid off, but working again and now doing great. We chatted about a lot of things, however one thing that was a surprise to me, was that she told me she probably would have lost her home if she didn't know how to grocery coupon. She said that her #1 priority was to put food on the table for a family of 7, and grocery couponing made it possible. I am a firm believer that what is learned is never wasted.

How To Become A Grocery Couponder?

You too can join the ranks of millions that save extensively on their grocery bills. However, one has to take that first step to begin any journey. I highly recommend learning coupon jargon as step #1.

Buy One Get One, Known as BOGO
Buy one get one free usually requires no coupons and offers a 50% savings. Coupons can be found in Sunday papers all over the country.  There are so many ways to acquire coupons and discounts.

Don't Buy Into Every Buzzword
For example, you will see advertised hormone-free eggs. The use of hormones in poultry, as far as I know has been banned since the 1960's. Another example could be eggs labeled free range.
The free range sometimes, but will not necessarily always be what you may be thinking. The free range could be a concrete slab. For better assurance look for certified humane.

Chasing Loss Leaders Can Cost You Money
Loss leaders when gas was cheaper, was well worth chasing. Loss leaders are advertised items, sold at a loss, or next to no profit to the store. You see them first thing generally on the front page of your supermarket advertisement.  


They are used as a marketing tool to get you in the door, in hopes that you will purchase other items too.  It can be tempting to chase all of these great loss-leader bargains as they pop up, however with the cost of gas in today's world the money you save may  not make sense.

A better idea, in my opinion, is to simply stack pile the weekly sales ads in your vehicle, and if by chance you happen to be passing by, stop in and grab a loss leader or two.


e-Coupons - A New Kid On The Block
Electronic coupons are not paper coupons that you cut out or print. Instead, their value is added to your store loyalty card. Because manufacturers may limit  the total number of coupons that  can be downloaded, don't tarry. Some stores will not accept online printable coupons because of counterfeit concerns.

E-Coupons such as U-promise, and including some individual grocery store websites, have their own electronic coupons such as in my area Kroger.com. e-Coupons as you may have guessed, are not paper coupons that you print. Instead, their value is added to your store loyalty card.

When you buy the item and swipe the card, the discount is automatically applied.  Once you register you can view a selection of fantastic coupon offers and simply click on the ones you like. I also want to mention that these coupons do expire just like most coupons.

Want To e-Coupon? I Think A Good  Antivirus Protection Program On Your Computer Is Probably A Good Idea.
As a computer user you probably already know that you must be cautious downloading any information online, and coupons are no exception.  In my opinion, a good antivirus program is a must have on any computer.  

If you are going to print from various coupon sites you probably need good antivirus protection with a firewall. Print from little well known coupon sites with caution. There are many antivirus programs available. Check out the one mentioned above.




My Article Reprinted from EzineArticles:

How to Learn Couponing


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/J_McKnight/1220440 


Understanding Nutrition Facts
"Never stop learning because life never stops teaching."  
-- Unknown


I Want to Grocery Coupon What's My First Step? 
Your first step in my opinion is to start with a little grocery couponing vocabulary. You can start out with these 13, and add on when you are ready. Just stick your toe in first. You don't have to get overwhelmed, frustrated, and then possibly losing interest. Just your toe in for right now will be fine. 

01. BOGO, BIGI - Basically it's Buy One Get One Free.
02. Catalina or Cat - These coupons come out of the Cat machine located by the register, and often left behind, or thrown out by the cashier. These can be some awesome coupons. Ask the cashier, or store manager where your Cat machine is located at time of checkout.
03. Store Coupons - A store coupon is a coupon only to be used at their store. Manufacturer coupon is a coupon created by the manufacturer, or creator of the product to be used wherever the product is stocked, and accept coupons unless otherwise indicated. Manufacturer coupons normally are not limited, and can be used at any store.
04. DND - Listed on a manufacturer's coupon to inform the store Do Not Double, even if store policy.
05. Printable Coupons - A coupon printed off the Internet.
06. Stock Coupons - Is stacking more than one coupon or coupon code to purchase a product, which can reduce the price, sometimes to zero. Normally you can stack a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon.
07. $1/1, $1/2 - Take $1 off when purchased one, or take $1 with the purchase of two.
08. Product Matching - A retailer will match a competitor's price for a like item if you show some proof, for example a flyer etc.
09. Peellies - A coupon you peel of a product packaging that can be use on that particular buy. You peel them off yourself, and do not rely on the cashier.
10. Blinkies - A coupon dispensing machine with blinking light.
11. Tear Pod - A stack of coupons found on the shelf near a particular product that you tear off.
12. EXT - Excludes trial size.
13. Matchup - Matching sales ads with manufacturer or store coupons to maximize savings.

"When one teaches, two learns."  -- Robert Heinlein


An Entire Month of Meal Planning and Preparing Rocks

Stockpiling meals for me translate into cooking when I want to cook, bottom line. The taste and nutrition greatly suffers when I'm just not up to cooking, but must. Take-out advantages without the take-out is a major benefit. Providing nutrient dense, wholesome, economically meals are difficult to do last minute. 

When I stockpile, I have my 30 day meal prep at the forefront of my meal planning. So in essence my food stockpiling evolves around my 30 day meal prep.

A lot of my friends extreme coupon, and I like to extreme coupon too, however, I have found it very difficult for me at least, to put a meal together with unrelated inventory.


When I stockpile my goal is meal prepping, and not just accumulating a bunch of unrelated food items. Of course, it's nothing wrong with that, I just think it is important to know what your goal is when you stockpile.


The taste and nutrition greatly suffers when I'm just not up to cooking, but must. Take-out advantages without the take-out is a major plus. Providing nutrient dense, wholesome, economical meals are difficult to do last minute. 


An entire month of meal planning and preparing are in my opinion awesome budget stretching frugal tools. I started out doubling recipes and freezing one for another meal. No pressure. Now I bulk cook for a month at a time. Pressure in the beginning, but lessens as the skill becomes more and more comfortable with use. 


I generally have more than 30 meals ready to heat up in the freezer at any given time. However, I am not committed to any freezer meal. I know what I have in my inventory, and if I want something else I prepare it. 



"The expert in anything was once a beginner."--Helen Hayes

About Once A Month Meals
Once A Month Meals
Lots of people in today's world love the freezer meal concept. A friend of mine who teaches elementary school purchased the program, and tried freezing a few meals during her holiday break, just to see if she liked it, and to get her feet wet. Well is she glad she did? She now has a new skill that she says saves a lot of money. Some days she says she is just drained, and loves the idea that they don't have to eat out so much.



Over the summer when her Mom visits they stockpile meals together for the upcoming school year. Her husband especially appreciates their efforts. They call it cooking for the freezer.

Cut Down On Takeout
Freezer meals provide for me the take-out convenience without having  to do take-out. I control the ingredients which better my chances of putting a wholesome, economical meal on the table which is difficult to do last minute. Having to put a meal together without the proper planning can lack essential nutrients necessary for optimum health.  So my last minute meals are the exception, and not the rule. 

My thing is that we have many technological advancements in the food arena, case in point, the refrigerator and freezer, so why not put them to use to save some money? My grandmother had what was called an icebox, where they delivered ice to her home daily. She would have loved to be able to prep her lunch for a week, and then grab and go. 


The truth is in our modern day society, we take a lot for granted. I love stockpiling meals because for me it is a labor of love. Is it for you? If you think it could be, begin with knowledge.

Reheat And Eat
This resource has guidance that should provide assistance in getting started. We can sometimes piggy-back off the learning of others who have done what we are desiring to do. Frugal friends the time has come to re-heat and eat.
Once A Month Meals















"Every Accomplishment Starts With The Decision To Try."         -- Gail Devers




"The art of bread making can become a consumer hobby, and no matter how often and how many kinds of bread one has made, there seems to be something new to learn."  
-- Julia Child

My Article Reprinted from HubPages:

Not always cheaper to bake your own bread.

Updated on June 29, 2017

JM McKnight 


Not always cheaper to bake your own bread.

Frugal friends, it is not always cheaper to bake your own bread. When you factor in your time, your own ingredients, and creativity it's anything but cheaper in my opinion. So it just depends. My number one reason for baking bread at home is that I can control the ingredients. Bread is a staple in my household, and it is important to me to make sure I provide it at a good price without sacrificing taste, nutrition, and texture in that order.

One of the health issues in my household is high blood pressure. Sodium, better known as salt, can be a common restrictive dietary item in the management of this disease. Commercial bread can contain a huge amount of sodium. So, baking your own bread can be helpful in the management of sodium.

A lot of people are gluten free, and can start baking their own gluten free breads at home. People on a weight loss journey can custom make their breads. I know that I for one, tend to eat less bread when I make my own. This translates into me being able to keep a little more bread in my life when I am losing, or maintaining my weight.

The question is which is cheaper, baking your own bread at home, or purchasing bread at the store? A lot of individuals say that you can save money by baking your bread at home. I have been baking bread for a long time and have not been able to beat , or even meet the cost of commercial bread. So, my hat is off to these individuals.

Sometimes baking homemade bread cheaper than store bought can and does happen, but is not a given in my opinion. The cost of bread baking will depend on several factors, such as quality ingredients, quality being very relative. Frugal friends, you know first hand that quality does not come cheap.

Quality grains and seeds are expensive, in my book. Also, when I have time I grind my own grains for freshness which, in my opinion, is worthwhile and super easy to do. Cost is a major factor in stretching those bread making budget dollars. However, not everything is about dollars and cents.

Buying yeast in bulk does however help, but unlike commercial bakeries, I cannot buy wholesale my major ingredients for better pricing. Without this edge I am at a disadvantage to commercial bread bakers based on my cost. However, disadvantages sometimes can, with a little creativity, be worked around.

A lot of times when something is mass produced the attention to detail will not be on the same level as when the focus is more specific. This, in my opinion, is where the home bread baker can shine. Let's also factor in my time and electricity cost.

My skill in baking bread that is tasty and appealing to the senses takes time, not to mention lots of hard work, and sometimes with little payoff. If baking bread is a skill you would like to have, just stay with it. Trial and error will, in lots of cases, get you there. This is just a small part of learning an awesome new skill, that will pay for itself in many, many ways.

Frugal friends, tasty nutrient dense bread doesn't just happen. There is a learning curve, so if you would like to venture into making homemade bread, understand up front that no matter how easy the recipe, baking bread is a tool that will require skill. The skill of the baker and the quality of the ingredients, in my opinion, is not unlike a tailor made suit costing you more than buying a suit off the rack.

I think it is a pity that many people view commercial bread as being inferior to homemade bread. The truth is you can make very crappy nutritionally inferior bread at home too, and buy awesome wholesome bread at the store. I know first hand because I have done both. When I first start baking my own bread, I thought I was providing a good service for me, and my family by not saying no to recipes with cheap ingredients.

When I'm baking my own bread I am seeking something special compared to just buying run-of-the-mill bread. I have come across some awesome deals on store bought wholesome bread that I stockpile in the freezer. I thaw out one loaf at a time, and never refreeze.
So as you can see, I bake and buy bread. This is what works for me. A friend of mine never buys store bought bread because lots of store breads are loaded with preservatives. I have a little more tolerance in this area. The truth is I have only purchased what I concluded, after reading the label, to be good quality store bought bread, for 25 cents a loaf in many cases. I can't make bread for that price unless I use cheap ingredients and perhaps not even then.

In a modern society we are exposed to many toxins on a daily basis. I read labels, and decide for myself what is consumed by me and my family. Also, I rely on the intelligence of the body. If I consume a food that makes me feel sick, or perhaps drained, I will stop consuming it whether it is considered a health food or not.

If I can stockpile quality commercial bread at a good price that perhaps does not eliminate, but does however, lower my toxic load, I consider this purchase a win for me, but not my friend who has her own truth. It's been my experience, that when the quality goes up the cost also goes up, regardless of where the bread was baked.

By baking your bread at home you can produce, in my opinion, a better product that can be tailored to your specific needs, and requirements. It is your personalized creativity that will knock commercial competition right out of the park, with the many advantages that can far outweigh the price.
Visit link for more out of the box frugal ideas:


© 2017 JM McKnight


3 Ways to Eat Healthy When a Food Budget is Super Tight.


I, among many, believe that tasty, affordable, and nutritious meals can be had with very limited resources. If resources are extremely tight you might consider seeking the services of food banks in your area. The tool here is to put frugality to work for you. 

Contrary to popular belief, frugality is not natural, but an acquired skill-set unique to the individual. In this instance, your goal could be to buy cheap, but not to eat cheap which could compromise good health.

I have 3 ways to eat healthy when a food budget is super tight. Maintaining a positive mindset is probably the #1 most important thing you can do to get through this, with emphasis on through. 


Believe it or not your most important asset long term is not money; but is in my opinion, your ability to think and come up with ideas to work with or around money.


This may sound a little crazy but money did, for whatever reason leave you. It may not have been money's fault, case in point, a job loss whatever. The bottom line is your money is low or non-existent. So in essence money is free to leave, however, we never have to leave ourselves.

Money is important but not the be all end all. What we choose to develop within us will not leave us and is ours for life. I have read articles about the super rich losing millions on an investment but they appear to never be overly concerned. I think it is because they have developed proven skill-sets that will make more. So, it's never the money per se.

My #2 way is to intentionally overlap ingredients. For example, you took out a sizable portion from your food budget to purchase the ingredients for cornbread. This is what I call your meal anchor. You will then build the rest of your frugal meals around this anchor.

You might entertain cornbread and collard greens which is an absolute powerhouse of awesome nutrition. Another possibility could be cornbread and beans. One of my favorites is cornbread and milk, which is normally eaten like a cereal. All of these mentioned dishes I ate a lot of especially during my childhood. And who knew cornbread is freezer friendly.

I'm vegan and what I eat now is a lot of soups. If you are on a budget and want to eat organic, in my opinion soups are the way to go. I normally prepare large batches of soup with organic ingredients and freeze a meal or two.

I use in my soups brown rice and wild rice combination, lots of wholesome sweet potatoes, lentils, and chick peas for some protein. Not a soup fan, how about some chick peas and curry over rice? Also contrary to popular belief, you don't need to have every single ingredient in a recipe for it to still taste fine.

I like to grocery stockpile. Whether I'm stockpiling can goods, spices, or even a skill-set, stockpiling is an awesome budget stretcher. For example, knowing a little something about freezer meals, or how to prepare preserves could be a good place to put stockpiling to work. Stockpiling is very versatile. Do whatever speaks to you, with emphasis on the do.

My last and #3 way is to keep searching for new ideas and recipes that you feel will work for you. When I first encounter a recipe, the recipe title is the first thing that catches my attention. However, it is only after I scan the ingredient list that I make the decision to give it a go.

If I spot a major ingredient that is too expensive for me at the time I will pass it up and look for something similar. Sometimes you can do substitutions that will keep you on track with the original recipe, or you may discover you have created a different dish that taste even better to you than the original one.

I especially like recipes that touch on the basic food groups. Familiarize yourself with the basic food groups, which could serve as the foundation of your meals. The library has tons of free information about preparing healthy meals.

There is a lot to know, however just knowing the basics will serve you well. I might prepare a pasta dish that I want to up the protein on by adding a few lentils. Preparing wholesome, nutritious, tasty, and yet inexpensive meals may require you to be a little creative but are not out of your reach. 


Being able to put frugality to work, in my view is key. Life in my opinion, is not all about what you have on the outside, but what you have on the inside counts too!


"Food is ever-changing and ever moving forward and getting more and more complex."  
-- Alexander Guarnaschelli




Decoding Organic Food Labels Is An Awesome Budget Stretcher.
Information is critical in knowing as much as possible about what you are buying. When buying fruits and vegetables you may encounter a sticker that will provide you with some information about what you are buying. These stickers a lot of times will drive price. If you are comparing a product on sale it is critical that you are comparing a product that not only looks alike but is an exact match. 

Some basic codes based on my understanding are as follows:

1. 5 digits starting with 9 was organically grown.


2. 5 digits starting with 8 is genetically modified.


3. 4 digits starting with 3 or 4 was grown conventionally.



Organic food labels can be confusing, and based on the percentage of organic ingredients in the product.

4. 100% Organic foods, are foods that use the USDA seal, or are made with 100% ingredients.

5. Organic foods, may use the USDA seal and will contain at least 95% organic ingredients.

6. Made with organic ingredients food, cannot use the USDA seal, but may list specific organic ingredients on the front of the package, contain at least 70% organic ingredients.


7. Contains organic ingredients,  cannot use the USDA seal, but may list specific organic ingredients usually on the back of the package on the information panel, contain less than 70% organic ingredients.


"If you can't afford organic food and are unable to grow your own, it's crucial to wash all inorganic produce very carefully to minimize the toxins you consume. Soak everything for 20 minutes in water with vinegar and salt or water with fresh lemon juice and salt." 
-- Suzanne Somers

Is Eating Organic Affordable?  

It can be, however the truth is eating organic can be a little pricier, and at the same time very affordable, if you are willing to implement a few frugal tools. These tools will assist you in working around those higher prices that normally can be associated with buying organic. 

Some people will tell you that eating organic is just not possible for them, mainly because of the expense, and availability. This can be true if you are not implementing some awesome tools, to help you to work around the extra expense, of eating organic.

Buying conventional versus buying organic are 2 different animals and must be shopped for using very different techniques. From my experience to get good prices on organic foods you must be willing to shop around, and create good options for yourself. 

With grocery shopping especially, I think that there is no grocery store that will fit all. I get the best deals when I shop around. Every store has it's strengths and weaknesses according to my observations. My grocery shopping experiences go much better when I shop from strength to strength which is highly subjective.

The first tool to take out of the frugal tool box is to determine why you are interested in eating organic. For example, I purchase organic products to reduce my consumption of pesticides, and for better taste. 

I don't however, eat 100% organic because in my opinion I see this as unnecessary for one, and two, impossible for the most part to achieve. A case in point is a non-GMO crop can be cross-contaminated by a GMO crop in the field.

So I purchase some conventional, and organic foods that meet my goals. I see no reason to not take full advantage of buying lower cost conventional foods that have a lower probability of having a high toxic load. 

I think it is important to note that I feel from my observations from my grocery shops that it is a myth that eating organic is expensive. There is nothing more basic than eating a food the way nature intended. Organic foods are very comparable to conventional foods in price. In my opinion, it is the buying of pre-packaged organic foods that can greatly unlevel the buying field, making organic eating unaffordable for many.

When eating organic I find it cheaper to shop the bins, eliminating paying for packaging whenever possible. I also purchase conventional foods that are less likely to be GMO, and pre-packaged  conventional foods containing a GMO, but listed way down on the ingredient list. My main goal in implementing organics is to reduce rather than eliminate my pesticide intake.

Of course, there are the bread and butter tools that are used to grocery shop that are always in style, whether you are buying organic or conventional. For example, when you grocery shop you want to stay focused, and do not grocery shop hungry, in order to reduce impulse buying. Another example would be that you are paying attention to unit pricing, and the granddaddy of them all is to shop with a list.

Some out of the out of the box tools you can use, is to keep in mind that eye level is considered buy level. You might want to shop higher, or lower for the more economical options. Also, you could reconsider throwing out those organic, so called scraps, that can be put to work in various dishes to up the nutrition, as well as taste.

Broccoli, to me is awesome in polenta. So, for example, after using the broccoli florets in the polenta for the breakfast meal, you could peel, chop, and saute the broccoli stems, to soften them up, and add them to a lunch salad, to up the nutrition, for no additional cost.

I don't always buy certified organic, because I do a lot of my organic produce shopping at the farmers market, and from my own garden that's planted using organic seeds. These foods are considered non-certified organic if they meet the same requirements as growing organic. They may not have not followed through to obtain certification, in many cases because of the expense.

When you eat organic, basically you are eating a product that has not been radiated, has not been grown by using synthetic fertilizers, no synthetic pesticides, or sewage sludge, and no GMO. So eating organic is appealing to many. However, I must caution you to not lean too heavily on any given label, because organic does not mean lead-free.

I find organic, a lot of times, at off-priced stores, like in my area the $0.99 stores. When I come across the 100% organic label I pay close attention to ascertain whether or not this is a product that I can stockpile and purchase with a very handsome discount of more than 50% off regular retail.

When I see it I buy it, because a good deal heavily discounted like this one will not last. I visit often, maybe 2 - 3 times per week because inventory changes daily. This is not the type of place where you go back; you must buy right then and there or you will lose out.

Another frugal tool to help you buy organic is to buy in season. When organic produce is in season and on sale, I buy in bulk then freeze and dehydrate. Also if you interested you can learn how to freeze, can, and prepare your own flavored vinegars.

The final step I love doing each and every time I grocery shop, is to do a look over of all the foods in my cart, to make sure there are no second thoughts. This may sound simple, but is a powerful frugal tool, where you can realize savings of up to 25% or more. You want to feel good when you get home about the purchase of each and every item. This final step will help you achieve that.

These are ideas that could consequently, in my opinion greatly enhance your dining experience, for pennies. Whenever possible I like to buy local produce that has a shorter distance to travel from the field to my table. I like to buy in bulk, and buy from bins where I am paying for product only, no packaging.

I'm also a big advocate of buying organics online. Thrive Market is my go to place. Checkout Thrive Market for yourself. Sometimes you can buy cheaper online because of their cheaper overhead. Some of these online retailers will pass on those savings to you. Some require membership that in essence will pay for itself in no time at all, depending upon how often you shop. 

Thrive Market is an online retailer that does require paying an annual membership. This is not a problem for me. I already pay for an offline membership that is worth it's weight in gold. Now I have an online membership that also looks like a winner having been a member less than a year. Thrive Market meets a different need with a focus mainly on being able to purchase quality organic brands at awesome prices.

The more you shop the more you save, has been my experience. So, just utilizing these simple tools will give you a good start and enable you to bring the cost of purchasing organic food way down, and hopefully more affordable. 


Check Out Thrive Market For Awesome Deals on Purchasing Organics.
Thrive Market Review: Is Thrive Market The Bad Guy?
Have you ever heard of Thrive Market? It's an awesome online store where you can purchase organics at good prices. We have to think outside, as well as inside the box these days to bring wholesome nutritious foods, to the table without going over budget.

This is a review on Thrive Market, and some of the online reviewers of Thrive Market. Prior to a membership purchase I read many reviews about Thrive Market, and they range from totally awesome to not happy.

I was thinking why was there such disparity in the Thrive Market experience? Well, it’s impossible to know, however there is one possibility I’d like to explore.

After reading a great deal of the reviews, I came to the conclusion based on the comments, and not my experience, that it's a good idea to follow the procedure for cancelling a trial membership to the letter.

Entering a trial membership especially with a credit card requirement is serious business. I review the terms prior to entering into such an agreement. One thing I did learn from reading the comments is to make sure to use only one email, because you might run the probability of creating 2 accounts and billed twice.

If I am cancelling, and not moving ahead with the membership, I would cancel no less than one week prior to my trial membership ending. I would give myself at least that much time, because too many uncertainties can come last minute.

I would follow through to confirm my cancellation, preferably receiving something in writing. I couldn't help but notice, based on the comments, that Thrive Market will most likely hold you accountable to the terms of the trial agreement.

I think Thrive Market is a good company, but perhaps they have concerns too, about being taken advantage of. And of course you are not the bad guy, because of your complaint. You have a right to complain. Maybe nobody is the bad guy here, just a lot of misunderstanding, undotted “i”s and uncrossed “t”s.

Whenever you enter into a trial agreement you have to be on top of your game. I have had some not so pleasant experiences with trial memberships myself, where I had dropped the ball, and invited unhappiness. I allowed it to happen so many times that I just don’t do trials anymore.

There is nothing wrong with trial memberships. They are not just for me. In a lot of cases we don't realize, or want to accept that a trial agreement is serious business. It is imperative that you watch dates, especially if there is a chance you will be cancelling the membership.

I’ve had some companies give me a full refund, even after my credit card was charged, but I hadn’t used the service. I made a mistake in painting this experience with a brush, not fully accepting the fact that every company operates differently, guided by their own terms of service.

If you like the service, you could allow your trial membership to roll into a 1 year membership agreement. That’s the route I took. With Thrive Market, it is my understanding that you can cancel anytime during the trial period and not be billed. I didn’t read the terms. If I had gone the trial route, I most definitely would have. But I know me. “To thine own self be true,” says Polonius in Hamlet. I had been courting Thrive Market for a long time, and knew what I wanted.

My experience has been a good one with Thrive Market. They sell well-known awesome brands at way below retail prices. Some stores do sell close to Thrive Market prices, however, the quality of the brands is of no interest to me. Eating cheap and buying cheap are not synonymous to me. My goal is to eat quality, while buying at very affordable prices.

If this is something of interest to you, checkout Thrive Market for yourself. Today’s food prices are constantly rising, and we must be on the lookout for ways to stretch those food dollars. Thrive Market does require a membership of $59.95. Well, I feel the $59.95 is not a bad investment at all when weighing all the fantastic benefits that Thrive Market offers.

Thrive Market carries major brands that will be of interest to vegans, those interested in eating organic, paleo, among many others. Browse the Thrive Market catalog to see for yourself. Orders at the time of this writing, over $49.00 ship free.

I try to make sure to meet this requirement, because I hate paying shipping. I have cancelled orders from places where I felt the shipping was way too much. With just taking into account the free shipping alone, you could re-coup that $59.95 membership fee in no time.

I was introduce to Thrive Market through their awesome blog. There you will find informative articles, free recipes, and the like. Thrive Market, in my opinion is an awesome frugal tool. You can realize savings of up to 50% off retail. With so many wonderful benefit it’s sad to see people unhappy with their Thrive Market experience. However in my opinion, all is not lost.

You still have a membership that is an awesome budget stretching tool, to put to work for you. With a little ingenuity you could in no time re-coup the $59.95 membership fee, and make yourself whole. It’s not like you have a dress 2 sizes too small that is of no value to you.

There is a lot of money that can be saved by taking advantage of the benefits that Thrive Market has to offer. Where stressing is not working, perhaps re-couping will. 

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Stay On Track With Stockpiling

Take it from me when I say that you can get off track and defeat the benefits of stockpiling, and invite waste versus savings.   When things are on sale stay on top of your coupons, it's time to stock up. You don't however, have to coupon to benefit from stockpiling. Stockpiling is a fantastic way to save when you have a system in place.

Stockpiling is very individualized. Stockpiling is frugality at it's best when it is tailored to your specific needs. Stockpiling is not hoarding! Stockpiling is also not a stack it and forget it proposition. 

Your stockpiling has to be rotated, just like the grocery stores. You too have to be pulling from your older acquisitions,  paying close attention to your expiration dates and whatever else that is a good idea to do depending upon your individualized stockpiling. 

Buying 50 rolls of toilet paper will not cause the same issues as purchasing 50 boxes of cereal which are perishable items. If you and your family cannot use up 50 boxes of cereal without wasting you will lose money.  So when grocery stockpiling, I think it's important to choose a track that will take you to your specific goals.



SECTION 4

Awesome Ways To Save Money Whether You Are Grocery Couponing Or Not.
A Buffet Table of My Favorite Money Saving Apps and Products in My Frugal Tool Box
An app is a type of software designed to perform a specific task, and definitely has room in my Frugal Tool Box. Here are apps and programs that I think are awesome. 

Budget Stretch Using Kitchen Apps



SECTION 5
Frugal Household Budget Stretchers
Take good care of your mirrors. They are an awesome investment that will last usually for years with care. My grandma's windows and mirrors were always spotless. You might elect to try her very inexpensive mirror and window cleaner presented below.

My Grand-Mom's Favorite...
Mirror and window cleaner in a spray bottle made with 1/4 cup of white vinegar placed in one quart of water.  It's a good idea to  never spray directly on a mirror. 

If the moisture seeks to the edges and get behind the mirror's back side it could ruin the silvering which could result in dark spots.  I usually spray on a clean cleaning cloth then wipe and buff.

Blinds.com
Blinds.com












Being frugal is hard work. I'm sure my frugal friends would agree. Getting a lead can be a great time saver. Let me do some of the heavy lifting and please allow me to introduce Blinds.com. I have been doing business with them for years. Their quality, and customer service is first rate.

I would never consider moving into a place without good quality blinds that have been placed up prior. I grew up with blinds, and I just love the look. Blinds are my first layer when doing my window treatment. My second layer is my drapes that will go up over the blinds in my master bedroom, formal living room, and the kitchen. 

Blinds the same color, showing from the outside, give me a very consistent look that adds to my curb appeal. I then can be as creative as I want with the drapes. My cousin in real estate tells me that well chosen blinds help sell houses. No one enjoys having to put a sheet up upon move in. Sellers almost always leave their custom blinds but often take their drapes.

I buy quality blinds from Blinds.com, and treat with care. If you are in the market for blinds I highly recommend that you first check out some of the stores in your area. Hopefully you will see why I shop exclusively for blinds online at Blinds.com.


A Toothbrush Can Be A Gigantic Budget Stretcher

I am of the opinion that you can save yourself a lot of money just by being proactive with your teeth.  You probably already know that a toothache demands attention.

A toothache will not wait, and neither should good dental care.  Daily cleansing as well as good nutrition will go a long ways in providing you and your family with good dental checkups.

I make my own special tooth paste that has saved me a lot of money, and has served me well over many years.  Basically my recipe consists of my Toothbrush, and Baking Soda. I buy in bulk when I can; it saves money. I like aluminum-free. I brush twice a day.  I try to remember to brush at night, especially when I have had a sweet treat.

I floss too, once a day. Cleaning between teeth matters too. Every surface area of a tooth demands attention. Proper cleaning is a big part of maintaining healthy teeth, and proper nutrition is also a big part of it. I have allergies to some foods that have a high content of vitamin C. I discovered in my research that Vitamin C is critical in maintaining gum health. My dentist recommended I supplement vitamin C.

My baking soda over time has kept my teeth nice and white.  Baking soda tends to whiten somewhat slow, but in my opinion, is a good economical tool to whiten stained teeth.  I have been using baking soda for years with excellent results. 

Today, I usually ace my dental checkups.  But it hasn't always been that way.  I use to have some serious dental problems where my teeth were moving around in the sockets. Someone recommended to me to start gargling with sea salt which helped tremendously. I have had some extractions and loss a precious tooth in the front.  

I have had some expensive dental care that I will always respect.  I preserve that dental work that took me 18 months to pay off.  I decided to spend some time on my teeth, and clean them properly.

Teeth work very hard for us, and deserve our utmost attention in keeping them healthy, and intact. It's been my experience that dental insurance very seldom pay  the entire bill.

I had a great deal to pay for out of pocket over and above what the insurance covered.  Dental work is just so expensive, in my opinion.  So it makes cents for me to exercise my frugality working my toothbrush, and flossing daily. 


A Dental Savings Plan Can Be A Perfect Fit For Some.
When going in for dental services a dental plan can save you a lot of money.  With dental insurance there is usually a waiting period and an annual cap sometimes $1,000 to $1,500 which can be used up pretty quick.

Suze Orman, a personal finance guru have a lot of good things to say about dental savings plans in helping to stretch those budget dollars. They work similar to coupons. You get a discount, and pay at time of service. Having a discount plan in my opinion is so much better, in a lot of cases, than having regular dental insurance and surely better than having nothing.





Magazines.com, Inc.
Why pay more for the same magazines off the shelf when you can, with magazines.com, subscribe to high quality magazines like American Nurse Today, Inside Lacrosse, Food and Consumer Reports, The Oprah Magazine, Cooks, Essence, and Wedding Flowers to name a few, at great discounts. Just choose a specific category and browse. I've done the heavy lifting for you.


How I Save On Toilet Paper
You might be surprised by how much some places pay for toilet paper. A new neighbor of mine use to work for a college up north told me that they paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $30K per year for toilet paper. I don't know if the $30K included the dorms or not, but in my opinion this amount is nothing to sneeze at.

Still in disbelief, I came upon a site called sixfiguresunder, and again was very surprised to see that they had a post that gave 5 ways to save on toilet paper. If interested check it out. I enjoyed it immensely. 

Some months ago I decided cut my annual toilet paper expense. I came up with a figure that wasn't bad, and nowhere near 30K. But still I felt that it was a figure that needed some work to help it come down some. 

Well I came up with one awesome thing that has managed to bring down this expense by 50%. That one thing I do is buy commercial paper. I do still stockpile grocery store toilet paper when on sale, and with a coupon. I take my grocery store paper with me when I travel. I don't have to be concerned about whether or not I will have access to toilet paper. I have my own with me as backup. For the most part though, I use my commercial paper for home use.

I went through a few commercial brands and discovered one that I buy most often. It's tough and you don't need a bunch for the job. It's also nice for a change to get it to roll without a struggle. 

For the most part cheap toilet paper does not work for me. Surely, cheap is better than nothing, but for me not very cost effective. Sometimes instead of coming off in a continuous sheet, it comes off in bits and pieces, and paper ends up wasted.

There are time too that I can't find the end because I guess the paper is too thin, and therefore waste more paper trying to locate the end. Before you know it the better part of a roll has been destroyed. 

This toilet paper issue may not seem like a big deal to many, but the waste does add up over time. As I said earlier I don't mind spending, I just like spending smart. So I appreciate buying a good quality commercial paper I get from a local janitorial store.


Also I have learned through observations to be very careful about using toilet paper that's not on a roll.  A lot of public restrooms skip this step. So don't assume that toilet paper hanging on a roll is clean, because it just may not be. If the toilet paper is damp or stained, you may want to reconsider. I have seen first-hand toilet paper hung back up by the cleaning staff after rolling on the floor in urine. I think it's a good idea to be observant and aware. 




Don’t Over Stuff Your Frugal Tool Box
Animated train emoticonDon't get frugal fatigue. Exercising frugality is too important to your budget, your community, and the world. Being frugal in my opinion is a personal experience.

One who donates to a thrift store is exercising frugality as one who is the recipient of those goods.  Frugal fatigue can sneak up on you when you buy into every frugal idea that comes along. Some frugal tools will be a good fit, and some not.  Just be on the lookout for those tools that work great for you. 

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