Sunday, January 31, 2016

Extreme Couponing: A Money-Saving Q&A And Book Giveaway

 As much as I'd like to, and as hard as I try, I simply can't thrift everything. But that doesn't mean that I can't apply my thrift sense at the supermarket and beyond. And with the help of expert budgeter Miriam Wartell, that's exactly what I'll be doing. 

I recently attended the signing for Miriam's first published book I Don't Have Time To Save Money. Miriam, aka. The Kosher Coupon Lady, has applied five and half years of clipping coupons, comparing sales, and budgeting to help others navigate their own way to better finances. While her website features weekly deals she's found online, along with tips and tricks to maximize savings, this book is a beginning couponer's first step to understanding how it all works. 

And in a brief Q&A with the author, Let's Go Thrifting readers can get an idea of what Miriam's work is all about.

What are some of your biggest achievements in couponing?
"While some couponers may say their biggest achievements are their couponing hauls (my highest to date being $330.98 down to $14.85), I'd honestly say that the biggest achievement is being able to help my community in a way that I never thought I could. Couponing has allowed me to provide food, toiletries and clothing to needy families without breaking the bank. In fact, earlier this month, I was even able to buy a little girl a pair of light up sneakers for only .44 cents using free surprise points from Sear's Shop Your Way program."

How did you first come to educate others on how to save money?
"A lot of people have confided in me over the years about their financial hardships. I really just wanted to empower people to help themselves."

What is the greatest piece of advice you can give to a new couponer? 
"Start small and don't drive yourself nuts. Start at a pace you're comfortable with. I started off calling companies for coupons. It was something that I spent only a couple of minutes of my day doing. It wasn't until later that I got into the mainstream couponing process. The entire focus of my book is to help people save money according to the time they have available. It's not about creating a new "money-saving" lifestyle, it's about adapting smart shopping strategies to your regular flow of life."

And in addition to all the free advice and printable coupons offered at the Kosher Coupon Lady website, Miriam has generously offered a copy of her book FREE to one lucky reader. It's a quick and comprehensive read, with guaranteed results. 

So scroll down to the Rafflecopter giveaway below and get those entries in today. Open to all US residents, with one winner being announced on February 15th. Good luck and happy saving, everyone! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All images courtesy of Miriam Wartell, subject to copyright. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Teeny Tiny Secondhand Treasures: Finding The Dream Car

A 1969 original MiniBus. And here I'd never thought I'd see the day where one would be mine. Those rounded corners, and the iconic grill and headlight design. It's a beaut. Isn't it? 

Complete with a full sticker dashboard, and spacious seating for five Little People, this baby is perfect for trips to the beach...or sitting decoratively on a bookshelf. 

And at 99 cents/pound at the Goodwill Outlet, it was a steal. Being that this model is 47 years has some mileage on it. But the fine people at the Fisher Price dealership have made one hell of a durable machine. Now if only I could find the not-so-teeny-tiny Volkswagen version for cheap. I'd visit all of back-road America in search of flea markets far and wide, and roadside attractions like the biggest ball of string. One day it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine. 

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Can Secondhand Stuff Create A Brand New You in 2016?

Another revolution around the sun,  another resolution made. After all the whistles and noisemakers have been blown and the last of the celebratory champagne has been drunk, you likely swore a silent resolution to self-betterment. And in that regard, I hope that you have a healthy, happy, and productive new year. Now I'm here to help you make strides towards some goals you've set for yourself the only way I know how: thrift shopping. 

Resolution: Weight Loss
I'm going to start with the #1 most mentioned resolution, losing weight. While I believe that health and wellness doesn't always equate to numbers on a scale, if your goal is to lose a few pounds, then you can consider the thrift store to be your weight loss ally. 

You can find aerobic machines such as treadmills and elliptical rowers at a fraction of the retail cost. And workout DVDs are almost guaranteed to be found at relative ease. You can even find dietary cookbooks for recipe ideas, and use thrifting for clothes as  a means to dress for less when you find yourself between weight loss goals.

Resolution: Learn Something New
Hit the thrift for a dose of inspiration. Maybe you'll find foreign language software, a beginner's sewing machine, a box of magic tricks, a loom, a blank canvas, a DIY sushi set----who knows!? But with enough time and a little luck, you'll find something that both strikes your fancy and sparks your interest. 

Resolution: Better Finances
Plan your budget. Put more into your savings account. Clip coupons. And don't forget to go thrifting with a purpose. Thrifting is cool as a pastime activity. But buy what you need and what you'll actually use. 

Resolution: Increased Cleaning & Organization 
Sure, you could go thrifting for bookcases, filing cabinets, folders, and storage boxes. But before you go to the thrift store to bring more into an already cluttered home...consider purging the excess first. Ask yourself: "Have I used this in the last six months/year? Am I going to use it? Is it properly stored when not in use?" If the answer to any of these questions is no...well, it might be time for it to go. Bag it up and donate it to the thrift store, so someone else might find some use for it. And don't forget to get that tax-deductible donation receipt! 

Resolution: Helping Others
Visit your local thrift store and ask if they offer volunteer opportunities that would fit your time schedule. Even if you are unable to make a long term commitment, your services would likely still be appreciated. And if you are unable to volunteer in-store, you could ask about which non-profit agencies the thrift store benefits. Maybe those agencies are looking for volunteers on a day-by-day basis. 

While thrifting may not be the answer to every question, or the means to meet every resolution might be a good place to start for some. As for the rest? Seek help from the best resource you have available to you: a solid support system of family and friends. Here's hoping for a thrifty and productive year!

 Best of well wishes for a wonderful 2016, everyone!

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