Sunday, August 31, 2008

Get Educated - For Free!

Want to learn a new language? How about take a computer course, learn how to write a business plan or take a business management class? Or maybe it's time to take some college courses from MIT or Notre Dame. Well what's stopping you? You can do all this and more - for free.

Sure you won't get credits for these courses, or that fancy diploma, but you can learn a thing or two and all it's going to cost you is time.

Here are some good resources:

So while it may be true that everything you ever needed to know you learned in Kindergarten, everything you ever wanted to know you can learn online. For free.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Heads Up!

Just a quick heads up - is having a 60% sale! This is good through August 31st. Go to and enter LABOR during checkout.

For example a $25 gift certificate will cost you $4 with this deal.

I have discussed a previous sale in my post "Eatin' Out On The Cheap." It's a great deal!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cheap And Green

August 25 2008

Saving money and the environment at the same time. What could be better? Here are some ways to be green while saving some green.

Let There Be Light
Changing out all of the standard light bulbs in your house to Compact Fluorescent Lights will definitely save you money. Just doing this simple task can save you 30% or more on your electric bill. These will also last 10X longer than traditional bulbs. (Yes, you might find a dud or two out there.) When the bulbs do burn out, do not throw them in the garbage as they contain Mercury. You can take them to any Home Depot store and they will safely dispose of them for free.

These bulbs do not have to cost you a lot of money either. Your local power company may offer coupons or discount sources for bulbs. Shop around, in my area there is a local drugstore chain that periodically puts these bulbs on sale for about 35 cents each.

If you can't find a good deal in your area consider shopping online. I have several lights in my home that are on dimmer switches that I needed dimmable CFL bulbs for. My local hardware store was charging $12 per bulb for these. I thought I was going to be sick. I got over it though, when I found a source on ebay and paid $2 each including shipping costs.

Is Your Refrigerator Running?
Okay, I learned this one the hard way. I had an old fridge - say maybe circa 1985 - and it did it's job, so why would I waste money on a new one? Because it turned out this thing was using huge amounts of electricity. I didn't realize this until after it finally died and was replaced by one with an energy star rating. My electric bill went down 50%. With the savings the new fridge would pay for itself in less than two years. Keep this in mind for other appliances as well.
Also check with your local power company as they may offer a rebate for buying an energy star appliance. Another good source to check for these rebates and possible tax credits is .

Clean Green
No more paper towels. I bought a bag of cloth rags and keep them under the sink so I can just grab one to wipe up a spill or just for general cleanup. To clean them I just throw the rags in the wash.

I no longer waste money on toxic cleaning products. I use vinegar, baking soda and maybe a little lemon here and there. There are tons of tips for cleaning with vinegar here . I also alternate using vinegar or baking soda in my laundry. (Never mix vinegar with bleach as it may have a chemical reaction.) These are not only great for cleaning but also act as natural fabric softeners so I no longer need chemical saturated dryer sheets. As an added bonus using vinegar or baking soda in High Efficiency (HE) washers eliminate that "smell" that develops from water collecting in the door seal.

Also for laundry try using cold or at least warm water instead of hot and line or hang dry your clothes instead of using your dryer.

Garbage? What Garbage?
It was a real eye opener when my local garbage company added food waste recycling to their program. We already had regular recycling and yard waste recycling, but it wasn't until we started recycling our food scraps that the light bulb in my head finally lit up. It not only made me more conscious of how much food was being thrown away, but I realized my garbage now consisted of only one thing: plastic.

Our recycling program does recycle a lot of plastics, but not plastic bags because they get caught in the equipment the company uses. So I'm trying to stop using plastics. I had already quit using plastic water bottles and installed a water filter. If I want to take water with me, I fill up my stainless steel travel mug. I do not drink out of plastic. I've actually been trying to avoid plastics for quite some time because of the health risks from the chemicals released. If you are not aware of this you might want to look into it. The internet is full of information on this subject, one such site is .
Aaannnyyyway! Back to the garbage topic. So where was I? Oh yes, my garbage is now all plastic. Okay, so this all got me thinking it was possible to not have any garbage if I could stop using plastic completely, or at least recycle it in some way. That's when I found out a new hot trend is making stuff from "plarn" or plastic yarn made from plastic bags. Research this - it's pretty cool. So maybe I can give away my plastic.

It also occurred to me that I could compost my food and yard waste and make my own fertilizer from it. This is actually what our garbage company does, we put our food scraps in with our yard waste and it is then sold to a company that turns it into fertilizer. I've also thought about getting a worm bin for this. I haven't figured it all out yet, but it's high on the "things to do someday" list.

So it's very possible to stop using garbage service all together.

- Live cheap and green - Cheap Cindy

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cheapskate Home Improvement Tips

August 22 2008

Feel like your living in a money pit? Here are some ways to save on your home improvement projects.

The cheapest and easiest way to update your home. Look for the boo-boo or mistinted paint section at your home improvement store. If you don't see it, ask. These paints are the same high quality and average $5 a gallon compared to full price at $20 & up a gallon. The colors are usually up with the current trends and if you don't see a color you like don't be afraid to mix colors together as long as the paints are the same kind (latex with latex, oil with oil). I painted almost every room in my house this way. Check garage sales and craigslist for people selling or even giving away leftover paint. Also many cities have programs that offer free paint through their recycling programs.
Paint your old furniture. Update an old table, dresser and even picture frames. (You might want to add a protective clear coat over your finished project so it will last longer and guard against scratches and chipping.) Be on the look out at garage sales, swap meets, thrift stores, craigslist and even free giveaways on the side of the road. That ugly ducking someone else is discarding might just need a new coat of paint.

You can easily update the look of your home by changing out the fixtures. Light fixtures, cabinet knobs, faucets and door hardware can all be found at discounted prices. Craigslist is a great place to find cheap or free fixtures. Another option is ebay. I changed out all of the door hardware in my house and paid less than half of what I would have paid buying this at my local home improvement store.

Class Project Remodel
Okay, I haven't done this, but I hear some Technical and Vocational Schools might take on your remodel job as a class project. You still have to purchase the materials but the labor is free. This could be a great deal if you have a large project that needs to be done. You might also keep these schools in mind for auto repairs. If anyone has had any luck with this I would love to know. Please leave a comment.

Until next time - Cheap Cindy

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TV For Free

August 19 2008

Trying to cut down on your spending? You could get rid of your cable or satellite service and still enjoy TV. How? By watching Free TV on the internet. I'm not talking about YouTube (although it is pretty entertaining), but 100's of TV shows such as 24, Heros, and Monk as well as classics like Alfred Hitchcock and Charlies Angels. The best part - hardly any commercials! Maybe 20 seconds worth of advertising in a 30 minute show. Plus you can pause, rewind and watch these shows around your own schedule. Here are some of my favorite free online TV sources:

Be sure and search for the "Full Episodes" as some are just clips. For example on Hulu I go to "TV" click on "Alphabetical" and then look for the little TV icon next to the shows since this means it has full episodes.

Also check the websites of your favorite channels to see if they offer free episodes online. For example HGTV offers several shows, currently you can find these under "on TV" and then select "Full Episodes". I also see ABC, NBC and Fox have added free episodes on their websites.

For the Christmas show lovers out there you must check out these links to over 100 free Christmas shows you can watch:

And for those of you not as technologically challenged as myself, I hear you can hook up a s-video cable from your computer to your TV, enabling you to see the picture from your computer on your TV screen.

- I'm off to search out more deals. - Cheap Cindy

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Random Acts Of Cheapness

August 17 2008

These are a few cheap tidbits I thought I would jot down in between polishing my pennies.

The search is on:
Before shopping I type in the item I am shopping for along with the word "coupon" into a search engine (such as Google, Yahoo, Msn, etc). Often I can find coupon codes that can be used purchasing the item online or coupons that I can print off and use in a physical store. Another good search word to try is "promo". I also try searching "coupon" & "promo" along with the name of a particular store I am shopping at. For example a search of "Target promo" brings up deals Target is offering such as free shipping, discounts etc. Often these searches will bring you to 3rd party websites advertising these deals. One of the websites I like to use is . Here you'll find coupon codes, comparison tools, weekly ads for stores etc.

Cash backs:
Some websites offer discounts or cash back if you do your shopping through them. I frequently use Ebates, Big Crumbs & Fatwallet . Once you sign up with them (I always use a free hotmail account I've created just in case I get bombarded with spam and advertising) you can search to see what deals are offered. Usually it is a percentage that you get back on your total purchase. The percentage doesn't come to you from the store, but from Ebates, Big Crumbs or Fatwallet. Currently Ebates will send you your cash back in the form of a check or Paypal every three months if you've reached a $5.01 cash back minimum. Otherwise your balance carries over to the next check until you've reached the minimum. I feel if I'm going to buy this stuff anyway I might as well shop through these sites and get a little money back. Read more about cash back programs in my eHow article:How to Make Money With Cash Back Programs Free Online

- more coming soon, Cheap Cindy

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Forums Are Your Friend

August 14 2008

I've spent more time than I care to admit searching the internet for deals. There are a ton of websites crawling with cheap-o-holics such as myself. They tend to gather on forums to discuss bargains, freebies and money saving tips. Some of the best forums I've found are:

Here you'll find the low down on who's giving away free stuff. Some stuff you sign up for and the companies mail it to you. For example I recently received a reusable shopping bag from Earthbound Farms, a coupon for a package of Kraft cheese slices (valued up to $4), Post it Notes etc. In the past I've gotten T-shirts, hats, posters, calendars, magazine subscriptions and enough shampoo samples to last the rest of my life. All free. I look forward to seeing what's in my mailbox everyday. Sometimes I think my postal carrier must hate me.

Even if your not into receiving these little freebies you'll also find tips on what restaurants and stores are giving away the goods. Starbucks, Baskin & Robbins, McDonalds, Jamba Juice, 7-11 and Ben & Jerrys have all had days where they offer something for free, and you'll find these forums are a great place to get the heads up.

It's not all about the freebies though, these forums are full of information on what stores are offering great deals, who's got the best deal on a certain TV or computer etc. You'll find people sharing promotional codes for discounts and free shipping, discussions on finance, contests and reward programs.

I also like that people give feedback on their own experiences with these freebies and deals so you can weed through the bogus junk.

- Check it out. It's free. You know you want to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eatin' Out On The Cheap

August 12 2008

Just because I'm cheap doesn't mean I don't eat out. There are some really good deals out there - sometimes cheaper than eating at home. If you have a free neighborhood paper in your area this is a good place to start. Local restaurants will likely post coupons in these papers as well as in mailings you probably receive such as ValPak, Money Mailer etc. Also check to see if your favorite restaurant has a website as many have coupons you can print off. Another thing to look for is if they have a "Birthday Club" or a Mailing/Email list as coupons are likely sent out from these as well.

You might want to check out to see what restaurants are offering deals in your area. They sell "Gift Certificates" at discounted prices. For example they currently offer $10 certificates for $3, $25 certificates for $10 and $50 certificates for $20. You purchase the certificate, print it off and give it to your server. Be sure to check the exclusions for your particular restaurant, most have a minimum purchase and may limit it to week days only etc. The BEST deal is when runs a sale, which they recently did. I was able to purchase four $25 Gift Certificates for $2 each. That's $100 in food for $8. (SCORE! )

Always check with any clubs, groups you belong to or possibly even your job to see if they offer any discounts to not only restaurants but other things as well. I think you'll be surprised. I recently discovered Visa offers discounts for certain purchases made through their website . Look under "deal finder" and you'll find discounts on all kinds of things. Had I known this sooner my deal would have been another 20% off. I hear American Express and AAA have similar deals.

The Entertainment Book is another good source if they offer a decent selection of places in your area (you can check on their website). The books go half price mid year but you can often find people selling them discounted year round. I suggest setting up a swap trading the coupons you don't want for ones you can use. is a good place to try this as well as look for people selling/trading restaurant (and other) gift cards, coupons and even food itself.

Of course, if you don't mind eating at the "Senior Hour" you'll usually find it cheaper eating off the lunch menu which can run as late as 4pm at some places. Buffets are best because they pretty much offer the same food at lunch as they do for dinner for much less money and you'll be so full you won't be hungry again later. Also look for mid day deals with places such as Pizza restaurants as many of them will offer cheap pizzas during their slow times. You can always take it home and reheat it for dinner, or eat it cold - yummmm.

Other tips:

  • Only drink water - beverages in restaurants have a HUGE mark-up and definately add to your final tally.
  • Think about ordering your meal to go, that way you avoid paying the tip.
  • Don't order dessert...okay, at least split a dessert with someone else.

    - So what are you waiting for? Put your eatin' pants on!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Coupons Of Course

August 11 2008

Yes, coupons are King. Think of them as found money. I don't recommend scouring your local Sunday paper for coupons (for that matter why even waste money on newspapers when you can usually read them online for free). Instead I buy coupons in bulk from . I search for coupons on items I tend to purchase over and over so I know I will really use them. For grocery items I look for coupons with a value of at least $1.00 each and try not to pay more than 20 cents or so per coupon including any shipping costs. (Be sure to pay attention to expiration dates.) Once I get the coupons I check with my local grocery stores to see who has the item cheapest , or even better - on sale - and I stock up. Your really in luck if you have stores that allow double coupon days.

Another way to receive coupons is to write to the companies whose products you use. I send emails (why spend money on stamps?) to the consumer departments of my favorite companies telling them how much I love their products. Of course I mention that if they wanted to send some coupons my way I wouldn't object - I always include my mailing address. More often than not I start receiving coupons in the mail within a few days. I usually receive multiple coupons from each company but I don't recommend that you do this more than once a year.

-Until next time, live cheap and prosper!

Frugalography, Disclosures & Disclaimers

Hi, I'm Cindy, better known as Cheap Cindy. I guess I would blame (or thank) my Mother for my penny pinching ways. I grew up on coupon clipping, hand-me-downs and thrift stores. Of course I didn't appreciate this when I was younger, but it made me the proud cheapskate I am today.

I hope my ramblings provide a few money saving ideas that are useful instead of just clogging the up blogosphere. My tips won't make you rich but you might save enough to get that new pair of shoes you've been wanting (on sale of course).

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