Book sale!

Book sale!
Jonni's last inventory on sale!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Gift cards are increasingly becoming a popular gift. They no longer carry the stigma of "oh, you couldn't take the time to buy me a gift?" that they used to have :) A research organization ( has been polling shoppers (20,000 of them!) over a 5 year period, and they found the top 20 cards that are well received. Some of the top 10 will surprise you, as they did me. Especially #3, which oddly has been rising in popularity every year. Who knew!?

And even though it is late in the shopping calendar, I am sure that many of you are still trying to buy gifts and would appreciate some last minute ideas that are usually a success. Perhaps you can give one of these top 20 gift cards and it will be well appreciated.

listed in order of popularity:
  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Target
  3. McDonald’s
  5. Home Depot
  6. Lowe’s
  7. Costco
  8. Subway
  9. Visa
  10. eBay
  11. JC Penny
  12. Starbucks
  13. Kohl’s
  14. Darden Restaurants
  15. Walgreens
  16. CVS
  17. Best Buy
  18. Shell
  19. Macy’s
  20. Wendy's
Happy Shopping, and I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Places to check for extra refunds

After the fire, we did our usual applications for insurance refunds, and pushed a little in areas that needed to be adjusted. But there are less common places to get some cash back. We had service plans and warranties on all of our appliances and electronics that we were destroyed. I contacted each of them and cancelled the remainder of those warranties and got a bit of money back.

Every little bit adds up!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The gas we put in our cars is actually more important than most of us realize. Being frugalites, we tend to go for the lowest priced gas. But this may be costing you much more in the long run.

Many manufacturers have additives and even fillers in their fuel to make it less pure and less costly. These ingredients gunk up your engine and can cause expensive damage. It is for this reason that I researched and choose to buy a certain brand of gasoline even though it costs a bit more than the bargain gas.

For the past few weeks  I have been running low on gasoline in the downtown area. There is only one gas station near where I have been located, so I have been filling up there. It is, however, one of the gasoline manufacturers known for its additives. After two weeks of their gasoline running my car, the engine began to ping. I learned my lesson!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DIAPERS: The Endless and Divisive Debate

One of the hottest debates in the frugal mommie world is the cloth versus diaper debate. I dedicated an entire chapter in Miserly Moms to this topic, and explained in excessive detail how I calculated my comparisons. Nevertheless, I still get ugly mail about my conclusion: We found disposables (generic brand) to be cheaper. Many critics have decided I must be an unreliable source of any information since I came to "that" conclusion.
     As I explained in the chapter, the cost of electricity and water play a great role in the final results, and the cost of the disposable diaper also can sway things. The SF Bay Area was expensive so electricity and water were costly. We had found a generic brand of diapers that was 30% less expensive than the leading namebrand diapers, and they didn't leak!
     Another frugal friend developed a calculator to find out for yourself what will be cheaper. All you need to know is the cost per kwh and water rate in your area (it's on your utility bill), the cost per diaper of what you use, the cost per load of your detergent, if you have an old washing machine or new energy efficient model, and when you plan to potty train.
     I entered all of my information that I had used in Miserly Moms chapter on diapers and guess what.........he agreed that disposables (for my area) were cheaper!

Give it a try yourself:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Saving While Moving

Tis the season to move! More rentals take place in the summer than any other time of year. And right now, many college students are moving out of their school living arrangement.

Before you rent a moving vehicle to move locally, like across town, do some calculations. Many moving rental places charge a mileage fee on top of the vehicle fee. Some of us don't think much of this fee, but it can really add up. Many of us rent the smallest(aka cheapest) moving vehicle and plan on making 2-3 trips across town, thinking we have saved ourselves the extra $20-30 for the rental fee. But this day may cost you more than you planned.

When estimating your cost, calculate in the mileage fee they are charging, as well as the gas mileage of the vehicle. The mileage fees can be $1.00 per mile or more. Then there is the gas mileage. These vehicles can get as low as 6-8 MPG. So paying more for the daily rental fee of a larger vehicle and only going across town once may be cheaper than renting a smaller vehicle and making several trips.

Just food for thought :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beverages: The Black Hole

When I was first learning to be frugal, I did plenty of research and reading. I came across several statistics, but the one that jumped out at me the most was what the average American spends on beverages. Are you ready???
30% of our grocery bill goes to beverages!

I can hear you now...."Not me!"  But, it is sadly true.

If you consider all that goes into this category, it becomes more real:
  • milk
  • orange juice
  • all other juices
  • tea
  • coffee
  • soda
  • wine
  • beer

When we realized this expensive phenomenon, we made a rule in our home: when you are thirsty, have a glass of water. If you still want the other beverage you were going to reach for, then you can have it.

This rule applied at all meals as well: water first, others second.

Our bodies need the water more than we need the other items.
I get into discussions with moms all the time about milk and calcium intake, but that is another blog for another time. But here is a sneak peak: there is calcium in other less expensive sources.

To help you understand the cost, here is a breakdown to help you see the value of water:
1 gallon of milk costs $3.50
1 gallon of orange juice costs $3.21
1 gallon of soda pop costs $1.50
1 gallon of bottle water costs $1.00
1 gallon of tap water costs $0.01

This is an area we can make a quick dent in.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Are Cheap Oil Change Stores Worth it?

I dropped into Jiffy Lube this morning to have my oil changed. Before I can tell the employees that is all I want, I am being shown my dirty air filter and a PCV valve they pulled out. I did not appreciate that it got removed before I was asked if I wanted anything removed for examination. Since it was already out, and only cost $7 to replace, I let them replace that...but nothing else.
I pay for my oil and PCV valve and go on my way.

Two hours later, my check engine light has come on. I researched what this can mean in light of the recent PCV valve, and it could mean other things are now out, or the mechanics (I am unsure that is an accurate title for them) messed up something in putting the new one in.

So, off to my TRUSTED mechanic I will go tomorrow for further examination, We will see if my cheap oil change is going to be an expensive venture.

Stay tuned!