admin / April 30, 2008

Budget Meals with Pizzazz

Last week I told you about ways a Budget Smart Cook can add certain ingredients to jazz up foods. This week I thought I’d focus on actual recipes and foods that most people rely on when they’re watching their pennies.

Spaghetti
When someone says budget meal, spaghetti or any type of pasta, always is the first thing that jumps into my head. I also like pasta because it’s fast and easy to put together. And while you might immediately think spaghetti and a red pasta sauce, you can vary things now and then.
For a change of pace, pick a white sauce. One of my favorites is the Ragu low fat Alfredo sauce. It’s great with penne, spaghetti, even a base for macaroni and cheese. I often add vegetables like broccoli and red peppers to it and serve it topped with cheese. Sometimes I’ll even add chopped cooked chicken. This pairs well with the broccoli and I call it pasta divan. And don’t just think of Italian dishes, lots of great Asian dishes can be made using spaghetti. I like to toss it with soy sauce and add stir-fried vegetables like carrots, peppers, and then top it with roasted peanuts.

Macaroni and Cheese
And no, you don’t always have to rely on the stuff that comes out of the box. You can buy a box of macaroni noodles for less than $. And, as we all know, pasta fills you up, so a box goes a long way. I make my own cheese sauce or use the alfredo sauce I mentioned above. I often add sun-dried tomatoes and sometimes I’ll add Mexican spices and use pepper jack cheese.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
A classic and kids love it, but how about jazzing it up with mushrooms, or even some curry powder?

Fish Sticks
Another favorite with the children, but for the adults, they can be bland and repetitious. One thing I’ve come up with is fish tacos. I use mayonnaise and add some taco seasoning and spread it on either hard or soft tacos. I put the fish sticks on top and add lettuce and tomato. Even coleslaw works well too.

Cornbread
I always keep a few boxes of cornbread in the panty and I’ll add cheese and a can of chilies or shredded pepper jack cheese. I’ll serve it on top of chili. Another couple of ingredients I like to add to the mix is chopped basil and sun dried tomatoes. The best thing is it always looks homemade.

Meat and Potatoes
Sometime cheaper cuts of meat aren’t that exciting to serve or eat, so jazzing up a side dish is a must. One of my favorite ways to jazz up mashed potatoes is to add other low cost ingredients. Caramelized onions are my top pick. You need to allow about one cup of chopped onions for every pound of potatoes. Just sauté the onions in oil along with some garlic, a pinch of salt, sugar, pepper, and thyme. Cook for about 20 minutes over a medium high heat or until they’re golden brown. Another favorite of mine is cheese and diced chilies. And should you have any leftovers, you can use any of these varieties as a topping for a Shepherd’s pie.
And while we’re on the topic of potatoes, I started to make this quick and easy dish about ten years ago. It sounds plain, but if you like baked beans, cheese, potatoes this one’s for you. Plus, it’s a big hit with children. In fact, they love making this dish too. Bake a potato, cut it in half, scoop out all the potato and put it into a bowl. Mash the potato with butter/low fat spread, milk, and enough cheese to taste. Put the empty baked potato shells on a baking sheet. Take a can of baked beans and spoon the beans into the empty baked potato shells. Top with mashed potato and then top with more shredded cheese. Bake them in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes or until everything is heated through and the cheese is bubbling.

admin / April 29, 2008

The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to More Dirt Cheap Gardening

While it doesn’t feel like gardening weather where I live, hopefully, in a few weeks or so everyone will be heading outside to tackle this year’s outdoor projects. Here are some more tips for getting a beautiful garden without breaking the bank.

Start with Seeds
One great way to get beautiful blooms at bargain prices is to start them from seed. One trick I was told to successful seed growing is bottom heat. And a good spot is the top of your refrigerator. Make sure you keep them watered too, especially when you first plant them. Sometimes I’ve forgotten to water them for a day or two and the seeds didn’t germinate.
If you like to plant window boxes and hanging baskets with annuals, going the seed route makes a lot more sense. I love to see all the colors and blooms, but I hate the idea of paying a couple of hundred dollars just for three or four month’s viewing, and which in my opinion isn’t that budget smart.
And I found this site… yes, it’s actually called cheap seeds. They offer free shipping on all their products, and check out their free gardening advice section. The thing I like about this one is you can post your very own questions and not have to scan through a bunch of already posted topics. www.cheapseeds.com.

Nature as a Budget Buddy
One way you can double the amount of plants you have…and not to mention let the plants do all the work for you, is to pick plants that self-seed. A couple of years ago I planted some hollyhocks and now have so many of them, they’re ready to be transferred into another area of the garden. One word of warning through, pick a plant you’ll enjoy seeing more of…you don’t want to see your garden full of plants you hate.

Divide, Conquer and Exchange
Another way to stretch your gardening budget is to divide plants you already have in the yard. This year I’m going to start dividing the hostas and stonecrop and create a whole new garden area for free. And another idea is to get together with some gardening buddies and exchange plants that you’re thinking about dividing or even eliminating.

Free Gardening Advice
One of the quickest ways to lose money in the garden is through lack of gardening know-how. If you don’t know what to plant where and when, you end up with plants and yes, trees and sod, that just die on you. One resource I always fall back on is my local extension service. One year I had strange looking plants invade the flowerbeds and took a clump of them to the extension service. They couldn’t figure out what they were but sent a photo of the flower to universities in the area and finally came up with an answer. And they even told me the best way to get rid of them. Best of all it’s entirely free. Some will even have a master gardener who can stop by your yard to check out problem lawns and trees for you.

Drought Tolerant Plants
In the area where I live we have a permanent watering ban now in place. That’s got me thinking that I really need to switch the way I garden. Maybe plant more ground cover and less sod, which equals less watering. And I’m even thinking of selecting only plants that are labeled drought tolerant.

Keep Those Receipts
And remember one rule of being a Budget Smart Girl is to keep your receipts whenever you buy something. And when it comes to plants it’s a must. Most gardening stores, including places like Home Depot, will guarantee their plants for at least a year, if you keep the receipt. I photocopy the tag on the plant and staple the receipt to it so I know what goes with what, should they start to wilt or die within that time frame.

A Great Site
And here’s a site I recently stumbled upon and thought I’d share it with you. Even if you’re not in the mood for buying gardening supplies, it’s a fun site to take a ‘stroll’ through www.gardeners.com.

admin / April 28, 2008

The Blog-Can You Ever Be Too Much of a Budget Smart Girl?

I’ll be the first to admit I think that the tendency to watch those pennies is in my blood. I learned a lot from my late father and I think he taught me well. However, I recently asked myself if there’s a time when you have to draw the line.

And just what made me think about this topic? The day my husband presented me with a gift card to Kohl’s. It wasn’t my birthday, not our anniversary, so what prompted this kind gesture? My shoes. When he saw my puzzled look after I received the gift card he said, ‘for goodness sake, use that and buy yourself some new running shoes’. I remembered earlier that week I’d discovered that the soles and upper part of my shoes were starting to come apart and I’d put some heavy brown tape over the top of the toe to keep them together. My theory was I liked them and they were comfortable and I could get more use out of them. But apparently my husband had taken a closer look at them and discovered holes in both soles. I had to admit I bought them seven years ago and yes, you could say I’ve had my money’s worth out of my purchase.

I hate to admit that he was right, they didn’t look good with the tape stuck on them. And as I hadn’t noticed the holes in the soles, they were probably ready for the garbage can. So it was off to Kohl’s to get me a new pair. And an added bonus was they were giving away $10 gift certificates that you can use on any purchase this coming week. I still have some money left on the gift card and with this extra $10 I might just go back and get myself another pair. And yes, hopefully, these two pairs will last another seven years.

I read this interesting article on Yahoo the other day about loading up your pantry. The theory is if you have money to spare, a great investment these days is to stockpile food. The rational behind all this…food prices are going up and not coming down, so it’s a smart move. I always buy a few cans of beans, jars of pasta sauce, a couple of bags of frozen veggies on each trip to the store. I have two bookcases in the basement where I store canned foods, and a freezer for the extra frozen items. I don’t know if I’m going to rush out and fill the house with food, but I don’t think it can hurt adding a few more non-perishables to the grocery list. More on this topic in an upcoming Budget Smart Cook.

And speaking of stockpiling food, what do you think about the warehouse stores limiting the amount of rice each shopper purchases? Rice, of all things. I remember my dad telling me that rice pudding was one dish my grandmother made all the time because it was so cheap to put together. I don’t think it will be long before the supermarkets start rationing rice too. Who knows what else is going to be in short supply and hence more expensive in the coming months!

admin / April 23, 2008

The Budget Smart Cook Gets Sneaky

I’ll be the first to admit some budget foods aren’t the most appealing items on the supermarket shelf. There are only so many ways you can serve ground beef or tuna. But don’t give up on the low cost foods just yet. One way you can stretch your food dollar and perk up your taste buds is to maximize flavors. Here are some sneaky ways a Budget Smart Cook can add flavor to foods, and turn bland into gourmet.

Herbs and Spices
One cheap and easy way to add flavor to everything from, meat to veggies is to use herbs and spices. Fresh herbs will soon be hitting the produce department and farmer’s markets. You can add them to things like cream cheese, margarine, etc. and make a nasty spread for sandwiches. They work wonders in things like tuna and egg salad. Plus, you can pick up some herb plants at nurseries and farmer’s markets for a couple of dollars and have a steady supply all summer long.
And I recently got to taste test some products that I can highly recommend. They’re from a company called The Spice Hunter www.spicehunter.com. They have two new products. The first is their Flavor Discoveries line. I got to try the Mediterranean Grinder Rub and the Cyprus Chile Salt. I added the Grinder Rub to pasta sauces, and both cottage and cream cheeses and it really boosted the flavor. The Chile Salt I used on a baked potato. I usually wash the potato and sprinkle it with salt and pepper and wrap it in foil. Instead of using regular salt I used the Chile Salt and it was delicious. Another product they produce is their Grill Shakers, for meat, poultry and seafood. And all are ideal for the upcoming grilling season. It’s a good way to make cheaper cuts of meat taste ‘richer’.

Oven Roasting
Okay, this might not be something you want to do when the temperature starts to climb, but I’ve found a great way to get maximum flavor from veggies is to oven roast them. Things like zucchini, onions and peppers. Just add some salt and pepper, a little olive oil and roast them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. I’ve served them ‘as is’ with chicken or pork. And they make great roasted veggie sandwiches with cream cheese as a base.

Vinegars
Speaking of oven roasting, I sometimes add balsamic vinegar to the pan after the vegetables have finished roasting and serve the veggies on salad greens. If you make your own salad dressing try using flavored vinegar to kick up the intensity.

Cheeses
I always use stronger flavored cheeses like sharp cheddar, feta or blue cheese because a little goes a long way. Try these cheeses on things like potatoes and salads. Even stirred into pasta.

Stocks
One other trick I use for kicking up the flavor is to boil potatoes, rice and pasta in stock, veggie or chicken. And it’s the ideal way to use up leftover stock too.

Soups
While I’m a big fan of homemade soup, I do keep a few cans of store brand ones on hand for emergencies. However, you can always boost the flavor of any canned soup. For example, tomato-add salsa, or leftover cooked spaghetti that you’ve broken up into smaller pieces. And items like croutons or even the fish shaped crackers. Mushroom soup is great with Worcestershire sauce added to it, or even toasted pecans. For vegetable soups I’ve stirred in cheese and served with bread for a quick lunchtime meal.

With a little imagination and experimentation, any meal, even a budget one, can be turned into a feast.

admin / April 22, 2008

The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Gardening

Looks like spring has finally sprung and our thoughts turn to the yard and garden. The cost of getting and keeping a beautiful yard can be pricey, so this and next week’s Budget Smart Girl’s Guide is devoted to, excuse the pun here, dirt cheap gardening.

A Garden on the Cheap
This week I’d like to welcome a guest expert. Lance Walheim, gardening expert and writer at www.bayeradvanced.com. Walheim offers the following eight tips on how to have a great garden for $50 or less.
1. Consider a standout area of your yard to make the flower garden.
Placement is key. It’s easy to end up with flowerbeds in tucked away corners that feel like distant yard borders or aren’t visible to guests or passers-by. Design a bed rectangular shaped or circle shaped to be destined as a standout in the front yard.
2. Sketch your garden on paper long before you dig. When you see it set out on paper you can avoid pitfalls and make the final shape much more professional. When you do decide to dig, mark the area with colorful yarn and stake the yarn in the ground with vegetable plant stakes. It makes digging feel like coloring by numbers.
3. Plan a garden that will bloom through the early season and into the next – and the next. Daisies and buttercups bloom in spring, while daylilies like summer and zinnias enjoy late summer and mums do well in autumn.
4. Don’t overreach in the plants you want. A Japanese maple, Bradford pear or standout palmetto are each very beautiful, but they aren’t vital in designing a lovely bed, where blooms get the attention. That one nugget of knowledge can save you hundreds of dollars.
5. Go for greenery to balance the bloomers. A sea of tulips is pretty, but not practical. Monkey grass, ferns and other yard greenery that grows in your climate zone work well.
6. Select flowers that are native to your area or that grow well in your area. Planting exotics in an area that can’t handle the weather is like flushing away money.
7. Timing for buying and planting is important. Ask your local nursery, garden center or county extension agent what time is best to put out certain flowering plants in your climate zone. Most will have to wait to be planted until after any chance of late season frost expires. Dead plants equal money lost.
8. Make sure to care for the plants you purchase. Most flowers demand to be placed in full sun, but check to make sure before buying. And, make sure the greenery you choose can stand up to the same rigors. Water as often as the flowers’ plastic information sticks tell you. And, care for the flowers, with flower care products such as Bayer Advanced All-in-One Rose & Flower Care, which contains an insecticide, fertilizer and fungicide. There’s no spraying — just mix and pour around the base of the plant — and enjoy your pest-free flowers for six weeks.

They’re Free…well, almost
I’ve never ordered any plants from this site, but it’s worth checking out- www.freetreesandplants.com. The plants are free, but they do charge a shipping and processing charge of $7.95 per unit. The plants do come with a guarantee and refund should you not be happy with them.

Learn About Flowers and Plants
If you don’t have a green thumb, check out these two sites www.learn2grow.com and www.burpee.com.

Go Organic
I hate spraying toxic chemicals and other nasty stuff on the lawn and flowers, but I’ve found this site that sells natural products www.planetnatural.com.

Keep The Critters Away
If you’ve ever had deer and rabbit nibble away at your prize flowers or something you’ve just planted, despair no more. A few years ago I found a great product called Liquid Fence www.liquidfence.com, and it’s been a lifesaver… and not to mention a money saver too. I’ll warn you that it stinks, so don’t spray it on a windy day, or when the windows are wide open. That’s the downside, the plus side; it definitely works and keeps all the critters away from your favorite blo

admin / April 20, 2008

The Blog

Raise your hand if you buy produce with every good intention of eating it, but then end up dumping it into the garbage can? Okay, looks like most of us.
Newell Rubbermaid Inc. is offering a new food storage device to keep produce fresh up to 33% longer than its traditional Rubbermaid containers. The new line is called Produce Saver. The line features containers that have a vented lid, which allows veggie to breathe, and also a tray that lifts the food out of any moisture that’s hanging around. They’re available in 2, 5 and 14-cup sizes. Plus, they’re microwavable, dishwasher and freezer safe. Prices range from $2.99 – $6.99, and a set of four costs $9.97 to $12.99
Visit their Web site at www.rubbermaid.com, click on Produce Saver, and be sure to get their $1 coupon, and join their savings club.

If you’re a pet owner, a major concern is what to do if your pet is injured or suddenly gets sick. A couple of years ago my cat jumped up onto the stovetop. I’d been making soup and although the burner had been turned off for at least 15 minutes, he still got burned paws. He ran around the house crying, and I just didn’t know what to do for him. I ended up making a frantic call to the vet’s office who told me to wrap his paws in a damp washcloth.
If you’ve been thinking about taking a pet first aid course and didn’t have the time or the money, here’s one that’s offered online. It’s available through Petco and costs $35. And while you shouldn’t take your pet’s health or an emergency situation for granted, this course might give you enough skill and knowledge to save your pet’s life while you get him or her to the vet. www.petco.com

I’m working on an article about cosmetics that are toxic free and I came across some Web sites that compare brands and tell you which ones you should be buying. One particular Web site includes items like shampoo, deodorant etc. I’ve always been willing to pay a few dollars more for something that doesn’t contain ingredients found in a chemistry lab, but what shocked me the most was some of the products I’ve been using for years… and not to mention paying more money for, are actually not that good for you. And an even big shock was seeing that they score lower than some of their cheaper counterparts.
As you can guess I’m going to be covering this whole topic in an upcoming Budget Smart Girl’s Guide. And as make-up has remained a firm favorite with readers, I’m going to be talking about mineral make-up as an upcoming topic too. I’ve been finding some very interesting information about it.

admin / April 16, 2008

The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Earth Day-Go Green Save Green

There are lots of ways to go green this Earth Day…or any day for that matter. And the best thing about going green is you save green too.
Whether you want to do something for the environment or your bank account, here are some sites and ideas to get you started.

Sierra Club
The Sierra Club has a informative site www.sierraclub.org/wecandoit/ offering links to ways you can green your life and your wallet too. Check out the Get Brighter section, featuring Daily Green Tips and Smart Energy Solutions.

Earth Day Site
And this site www.earthday.net doesn’t offer tips etc, but it’s an interesting look at what you can do to help your local community save resources.

Green Your What?
I stumbled upon this site and love it. www.greenyour.com Click on topics, and then roll the mouse over one of the icons and you’ll be offered lots of ways you can green that particular item.

Harness the Sun
Using the power of the sun is a smart way to help Mother Earth and to save money, check out this site to get started www.solarstyle.com

Gardening on the Cheap
Composting can help you reduce waste and also be a free boost for your garden and yard. Visit this site to learn just how to compost your way to a beautiful yard.
www.compostingcouncil.org

A Reasonable Price
I like to use all natural and green products around the house, but some can be pricey. I found this site offering green cleaning items at great prices. And the best thing is you can order samples before you commit to the larger sizes. So there’s no wasting money on stuff you hate. www.sunandearth.com

Doing a Little DIY?
Are you in the mood for some do it yourself projects? Check out this site run by Habitat for Humanity. You can buy reasonably priced used and surplus building supplies and help a charity too. www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx

Recycle It
Want to start recycling but not quite sure where to begin or how to do it? Check out this UK site to put you in the know www.recycling-guide.org.uk/

Electric Cars
I’d love to buy an electric car and when I read an article about the Zenn Car, I thought this is the one I want. It’s as cute as a bug, but the only drawback is it can only travel 35 M.P.H. So freeway driving isn’t an option. But if you’re just looking for something that’s energy efficient to run errands, definitely check it out.
www.zenncars.com

Get Rid of Junk Mail
One way you can spend too much money, plus, load the mailbox is to receive one too many catalogs. They’re tempting and yes, how can you resist anything that’s got a lovely colored photo beside it? Visit this site to see how you can cut down or eliminate junk mail and catalogs.
www.catalogchoice.org

The Green Expo
If you’re in the New York area definitely check out this expo for exhibits and seminars. I only wish I could attend!
Go Green Expo, New York Hilton
April 26th and 27th
200 exhibits, everything from cars to food and wine
50 seminars
Purchase price of tickets before the event, adults $10 for a one-day pass. $15 for a two-day pass
Children under 12 and seniors 65+ get free admission

Tips for Being Green and Saving Green
Walk or bike instead of drive.
Line dry clothing instead of putting them in the dryer.
If you’re using your car, run all errands in one shot.
Borrow or rent before you buy.
Cut garbage removal costs by cutting down on the size of the garbage can you use and recycle more.
Buy in bulk and share with family and friends.
Use fans and close drapes instead of turning on the air conditioning.
Think about buying an electric lawnmower.
Invest in a rain barrel and collect free water for your lawn and plants.
Grow your own organic vegetables.

admin / April 16, 2008

April is Soy Food Month

In the not too distant future meat and poultry might not be the most expensive items at the grocery store, but for now, one way around higher prices is to go veggie once or maybe three times a week. One great meat alternative is products made from soybeans. And as April is Soy Food Month, I thought I’d make soyfood the focus of this Budget Smart Cook.

But It’s Tasteless
I know most people start running for the door when they hear the word tofu, also known as that white and wobbly tasteless food…and didn’t only hippies used to eat it? Yes, tofu eaten as is, is as appealing as nibbling on foam, but knowing how to jazz it up and what to do with it, can really help you make your food dollar go even further. This site provided by the Soyfoods Association of North America, www.soyfoods.org is a good starting point to learn about soyfood and has a great recipe section too.

Another site to check out is www.soyfoodsillinois.uiuc.edu. Lots of great advice, and once again, wonderful recipes. Plus, I thought this was a reasonably priced item. The Soy Starter Kit, it’s just $20 and includes a cookbook of your choice, and also free shipping and handling.
There’s also the Soy Connection www.soyconnection.com.
And if you are ‘brave’ enough to buy tofu, here’s a brand I like and their Web site’s really informative too. www.nasoya.com

Not a Load of Old Bologna
These aren’t really cheap veggie alternatives but if you’re looking to change to a veggie diet, the deli slices produced by these two companies are excellent, and even die hard meat eaters sometimes can’t tell the difference. www.lightlife.com and www.yvesveggie.ca

Milk Alternatives
The price of both milk and other dairy products are on the increase and a great alternative is soymilk. If you’re a beginning soymilk drinker, one I really recommend is Silk. It’s creamy, there’s no aftertaste, and you can add it to things like smoothies. There’s also soy based ‘ice cream’ or frozen yogurts that are really tasty. And you can buy non-sweetened varieties to add to things like soups and casseroles.

No Beef Burgers
And if it’s beef or especially beef burgers that you want to replace, you’ve got lots of choice these days. Some of my favorites include, Morningstar Farms products,
www.seeveggiesdifferently.com They also sell veggie sausages and bacon that taste just like the real thing. And I also like products made by Boca www.bocaburger.com. One of my favorites is the ‘bratwurst’ sausage, great flavor and texture and perfect for the upcoming grilling season.

I

admin / April 14, 2008

The Blog

I found a great way to enroll in reasonably priced classes and you can study in the comfort of your home. Yes, even in pajamas and your slippers if you really want to. My local community education class is offering a host of classes through a company called ed2go www.ed2go.com. There are a ton of classes to choose from, and if you register through your local community education center or another college, you get the tuition at even a better price. In fact, I compared prices and through my local community ed, the price for the class I’m taking is $85. However, if I signed up directly on the ed2go Web site, the price was $129. So if you’re thinking of taking a class, click on ‘participating schools’ and type in your zip code to see if you can register through a local school and save even more money. Even at $129, they’re still good value, but if a Budget Smart Girl can save some money, I say, let’s do it. If you take the final exam you get a certificate of completion that might be helpful in your career. And you might find a course that furthers your career, gets you a promotion, or even a new job…all of which can translate into more income for you. And if it’s related to what you do for a living, it’s possible it’s also a tax deduction next year. My class starts on Wednesday and I’m really looking forward to it.
Oh, and check out the ‘teach with us’ section on the Web site because they’re looking for instructors for certain topics. It might match one of your skills and you can make yourself even more money.

Last week I read that Pepperidge Farm is phasing out pre-pricing. The suggested retail price they used to stamp on their packages will be phased out by May to allow for more pricing flexibility. I wouldn’t be too surprised if more companies follow their idea. I suppose that means we won’t ever see those low prices again!

And I found this very interesting… according to a report conducted by market research company NPD about how economically challenging times affect in home meal strategies among those who were financially concerned. More than half of those surveyed said they are trying to prepare meals at home, use leftovers and stock up when items are on sale. Not to brag here, but that’s what the budget smart cook always recommends doing, good times or bad.

admin / April 9, 2008

The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Clutter Clearing-Books

If you read this week’s blog, you’ll know that last week I did some clutter clearing in my office and quickly came to the conclusion I have one too many books.
So this got me thinking about, one, how do I get rid of some of them…I mean other than tossing them away? And two, is it possible to make myself some money in the process?

Half.com
For the last four years I’ve listed books on Half.com, www.half.com, which is part of the eBay community. I’ve found some books sell quicker than others and that pricing them in a competitive range (the site does give you guidelines for pricing) seems to be the key to making the most money there. Half.com does take a commission, but you can send the books via media mail, with prices starting at $2.13. And the best feature is Half.com reimburses you for the postage.

Local Used Bookstores
For some reason these seem to be disappearing now, but you can still find the odd used bookstore or two. You don’t make any money, but you trade in your books and get in store credit. When you buy a book you get something like 70% off the retail price

Online Trades
One book swap site I’m already a member of is Frugal Reader. www.frugalreader.com. I list the books I no longer want, others browse through the list, request a book. I package it, pay the postage… usually around $2.13 and get a credit. When I want a book, I request it and then another member sends it to me, at no cost. Other online swap sites include www.paperbackswap.com and www.bluerectangle.com. Check them out and see which one works best for you.

Those Leftover Textbooks
When I graduated from university I had lots of textbooks that I knew I’d never read…or never want to read, ever again. Maybe no one else wants these books but one option is to make a list, price them, and then ask if you can put the list on a notice board at a local college or university. With tuition and the cost of books increasing, I’m sure some students are looking for bargain books and ways to trim costs. Or you can try selling them on this online site that specializes in just textbooks. www.textbookwheel.com

Not Just a Swap But a Way to Make Money on the Web
I did find these two sites. www.cash4books.net www.bookemporium.com
Both allow you to type in the ISBN and they’re tell you instantly if, one, they’re actually buying that book. And two, how much they’ll willing to pay for it?
I typed in a couple of paperback novels I’d just finished reading and both sites told me the same thing, that they’re not buying these titles right now. I then tried a couple of non-fiction books and was told they would give me $2.48 for each of them. For now, I’ve opted to put my non-fiction titles on Half.com and if they don’t sell there, I might give one of these sites a try. Failing that you can…

Donate To Charity
I can’t stand the thought of ever throwing books into the garbage, so once I’ve exhausted all avenues of selling or swapping them, I’ll donate them to charity. While you won’t make any money, do keep track of all your donations and claim them on next year’s tax return.

Check out the new Budget Smart Girl Store Dismiss