admin / February 9, 2009

The Blog-A Week of Deals

Last week the writing community was buzzing with news about a product called the Fly Fusion pen. You write with it then connect it to your computer and it downloads what you’re written straight into a word document. This sounded like a dream come true for me. Most of the time I use my laptop, but sometimes when the muse strikes while I’m watching TV, I’ll start writing in a notebook. Problem is I have to spend time typing my notes into the computer. This pen sounded very tempting so I went to the Web site and discovered it was originally $79.99 now marked down to $19.99. Had I read correctly? Yep, seemed I had. I ordered one and have been using it since Friday. I love it and I love it even more because it cost less than $20. Yes, it made this Budget Smart Girl smile.

And why do I mention this, well, I checked out some other products on the Leap Frog site, and if you’re looking for some birthday gifts for children or even want to start holiday shopping early, check out www.leapfrog.com. Their current sale not only includes the Fly Pen but some other great learning toys and gadgets for kids. If you’ve got some extra cash right now, go ahead and do some holiday shopping. We might not see prices this low again.

It seems like every retailer is drawing customers into their store by offering deals and more discount items. On Monday when I went grocery shopping and I noticed the supermarket now has a whole aisle’s worth of products that cost just a $1. I thought I might as well give some products a try and bought a box of dishwasher powder, a package of those dishwasher pouches that are supposed to make everything sparkling clean, a package of baking mix that looks similar to Bisquick and a Devil’s Food Cake mix. I plan to give them a test run this week and will let you know how they compared to higher priced items. Many people say all these products are made by the same manufacturers, so we’ll see if it’s true.

On Budget Smart Girl this week… some low cost, but oh, so delicious recipes with a Mardi Gras theme. And if you have children’s toys and clothes sitting around the house and wish you could trade them for something else, I think you’ll want to hear about this new swap site.

Have a good week and Happy Valentine’s Day.

admin / February 5, 2009

How to Never Pay Full Price Again!

Yes, wouldn’t it be great if you never had to pay full price for anything ever again? Well, there’s a way and it’s thanks to sites like the one I’m about to tell you about.
Karen Hoxmeier is the mastermind behind a Web site called www.mybargainbuddy.com I recently chatted with her to find out about the site and how Budget Smart Girls can use it to get the best deals on everything from kids clothing to dresses for that special occasion.

Budget Smart Girl (BSG)-When I read your bio it seems you’ve always been a Budget Smart Girl. Is that true and is that how the Web site got started?
Karen Hoxmeier (KH)-I’ve always tried to get the best deals on everything. And in 1999 I started to shop online, searching for bargains. I had three little kids so finding the best deals was essential. I got so good at it I started sending e-mails to my friends alerting them to the deals I found. Before I knew it, 200 people were on that e-mail list, and many of them I didn’t even know but they’d got to hear about me through word of mouth.

BSG-And I would think these days the site’s really popular.
KH-People are definitely in a bargain hunting mode and once you get into that mind set it’s almost impossible to give up.

BSG-Say I’m new to the site and online comparison shopping, how does it work?
KH-If you’re looking for a specific item you can type that word in and see what the search brings up. Say for example you’re searching for a good deal on a digital camera; the site lets you do a price comparison check too.

BSG-Are there more deals out there now?
KH-Definitely, you can pick up some great bargains every day. And one tip I have is if you find something that’s the price you like, buy it and buy it quickly because some of the deals only last a few hours and some have limited numbers. When the merchandise is gone, that deal is over.

BSG-I noticed you have a newsletter we can sign up to receive, what will we find in it?
KH-It’s sent out Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and it will tell you about five deals that are especially worth checking out.

BSG-And you have a prize drawing.
KH-Yes, some companies donate gift cards and you can win something twice a month, on the 1st and the 15th.

BSG-Are you noticing any particular buying trends during this recession?
KH-Yes, people are purchasing items that they consider necessities and not luxury items. Right now winter clothes are popular. Some prices are reduced as much as 75%.

BSG-Yes, I noticed while I was on your site that there was a child’s winter jacket on sale for $2.98.
KH-Yes, some of the deals are incredible.

BSG-Any insider secrets to finding the best of the best?
KH-Yes, you can sign up to follow mybargainbuddy on Twitter and find the most up to date deals.

BSG-And it’s not just about finding discounts, what other perks can you find.
KH-Check out the free shipping deals, sometimes that can save you money too.

BSG-This has to be a labor of love for you.
KH-It’s grown into a full time job for me. I’m at the computer as soon as I get up and checking what deals are out there to post on the site.

BSG-Any money saving tips you can share?
KH-Yes, wait till it goes on sale, never pay full price for anything. And with groceries, don’t buy it unless you have a coupon. And here’s something I do to save money. If I see a good deal I’ll buy it for later use. Put your good deal finds in storage containers and when a birthday rolls around, you don’t have to go shopping.

Thanks Karen and I’ll be using the site to find myself some good deals on jeans. I’ll let you know what I find.

admin / February 5, 2009

Jazzing Up Dinner

Being on a food budget often means you walk around the supermarket on automatic pilot putting the same old boxes of this and that into your cart instead of taking a chance on something new. And it also means serving the same recipes week after week. When I’m feeling in the food doldrums, here some things I turn to.

Cookbooks
I love reading cookbooks and they’re often a good source of finding new recipes and ways to cut costs. Take a look at the ones you have sitting around the house, or even take a trip to the library. Check some out and page through them. One I recently found was Taste of Home’s Budget Suppers. Reiman Media Group, ISBN 0-89821-419-X. It seems the book is no longer in print but some sites do have used copies. It’s a goldmine of recipes for dishes like chili spaghetti, soups made from simple ingredients, like tomato juice and milk. Yes, I thought it was going to be tasteless, but it was just the opposite. If you can find a copy, buy it.

Take a Trip to the Deli
There’s an upscale supermarket close to where I live and while I never do my main shopping there, I do occasionally stop by there for the odd item or two that I can’t find anyway else. And while I’m in there, I browse their deli items. Not to buy, but to get ideas for creating my own meals at home. Wraps, pies…just window shopping can get you inspired.

Take a Trip to the Co-op
A co-op is the ideal place if you need new ideas because they often sell items you won’t usually find at the supermarket. Things like spices and simmer sauces. Yes, co-ops have also increased their prices, but good deals can still be found there.

And Speaking of…Spices and also herbs. They don’t have to be expensive and I opt for the supermarket brand. Depending on what spices and herbs you want, you can shave a dollar or more off the cost. Try adding them to everyday dishes because they never fail to add some zing.

Try Adding Different Ingredients
I don’t know why I thought of adding this particular ingredient, but now I do it every time. I was making egg salad and wondered what it would taste like with some parmesan cheese added to it. You know the kind you buy in containers in the dairy section. I added a couple of shakes to four chopped eggs, added some minced dried onions, some pepper and mayo and now I don’t make egg salad without some parmesan cheese.
Sundried tomatoes are another favorite of mine. I add them to mayonnaise when I make sandwiches, mac and cheese. And another thing I’ve found…and if you like some heat is chipotle peppers. Smoky, hot and they add pizzazz to everything from sandwiches to soups.

Take a Cooking Class
Don’t think you have to be a master chef or have tons of money to take cooking classes. Some stores offer free cooking classes, some community education programs have them. And one good thing about this current economic downturn, lots of cooking classes are now showing people how to stretch their food dollar.

Go on a Restaurant Tour
I found this trick when I wrote restaurant reviews for one of the local newspapers. And, no, this tour isn’t going to cost you a penny. With the help of the Internet, you can just about find the Web site of any restaurant across the country, even the world. I used to check out the restaurant’s Web site before I dined there and I discovered 99% of them put their complete menu online. Look through some of the dishes and see what inspires you. Even challenge yourself to come up with something similar but within your own budget. In fact, I’m guessing right now some restaurants are offering their own budget meals. And just today I read that many are serving their own version of macaroni and cheese.

Take a Stroll on the Information Superhighway
And while you’re on the Web, why not check out some of the culinary magazine Web sites. Here’s some I found
www.cooksrecipes.com
www.topsecretrecipes.com
www.recipesource.com

Check out the new Budget Smart Girl Store Dismiss