Sunday, April 30, 2006

Colbert & The Economy & Comedy Central

Washington is buzzing about Comedy Central's Steven Colbert's sharp tongue at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, which was held on Sat. April 29.

With biting satire, Colbert roasted the Bush Administration about Iraq, Fox News and other sensitive topics. But what does Colbert have to say about the topics of thrift, the economy and recent gas prices?

I would be curious to hear his satirical comments on the subject of money!
Watch this space. I will make inquiries.

Beyond the NFL Draft: Online Touchdown Savings

Sports fan have been watching the NFL Draft this weekend, but I've been checking out options to save and shop. There are even sites for tracking down affordable bedding.

I've frequently spotted full-page advertisements for The concept -- brand-name merchandise for low prices and a flat shipping fee of $2.95 -- intrigued me. When my friend Ellen raved about, I checked it out. features excess inventory. For less than wholesale prices, Over purchases merchandise from manufacturers and sells those items at discounts of 40 percent to 80 percent below standard retail prices. In addition to partnership agreements with name-brand companies, Over acquires canceled orders from stores and items from companies that are downsizing or moving. Merchandise includes furniture, books, clothing and jewelry and other items.

In addition to its regular discounts, offers special clearance bins. A special page on the site features bins of books, music and movies for $1 to $5. Another bin features an assortment of bedding, shoes, accessories, jewelry, electronics and house wares for $25 and less. And regardless of the size or weight of your order, shipping is always $2.95.

While I was window shopping on my PC, I checked into a few other sites that promote savings. Here is a sample of my latest electronic expedition. (Shop It To Me) works like a personal shopper. You provide a profile of your shopping tastes (size and favorite labels), and Shop It To Me will find the lowest sale price from its pool of retailers. That list includes Nordstrom, Ann Taylor Loft, Kenneth Cole, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and other top stores. You can elect to receive daily, weekly or semi-weekly e-mails alerting you when the items from your wish list are on sale. sells discounts for restaurants in your area. For instance, after typing in my area code, I received a list of 212 restaurants within 15 miles of my home, including hot spots in South Beach, Coral Gables and the Brickell Avenue district. At those eateries, charges $10 for $25 gift certificates and $3 for $10 certificates. They are good for purchasing meals. Restrictions vary from restaurant to restaurant and are detailed on the website. One South Beach eatery, for example, requires a minimal food purchase of $35 and at another restaurant, the certificates can't be used for early-bird dining. offers discounts on beauty and personal care products, vitamins, prescriptions and other items typically found in brick-and-mortar stores. partners with Rite Aid and GNC, which sells vitamins and other health aids. Product savings range from 20 percent to 40 percent. Shipping is free for orders of $25 or more.

Of course, due to security concerns, many consumers are wary about online transactions. For that market, (bill me later) offers a solution. Through agreements with a wide range of retailers, Bill Me Later enables you to shop online, but receive hard copy bills through regular mail so that you don't have to use your credit card on cyberspace. According to a customer service rep, the merchandise is shipped as soon as you make the purchase, with the bill arriving later. Bill Me Later has financing agreements with Wal, Sports Authority, Linens-N-Things, Petco.Com and other well-known online merchants.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Smart Talk from American Idol Star

I just loved this smart, frugal talk from Carrie Underwood, a past American Idol winner, who was quoted in a fall issue of Woman's World.

She's fought against over-the-top spending suggestions from American Idol staffers.

"I had my battles with the American Idol stylist because he always wanted me to buy real expensive things. I was like, 'My mama raised me right. I can't spend $400 on a pair of jeans!' "

--Carrie Underwood

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Valet Parking Nightmares

Kenneth, a family friend, has a lot to say about valet parking. He'd rather walk a few blocks to a park-it-yourself meter than hand over his car keys to a valet parking employee. His fear is based on experience; Kenneth has either witnessed or heard tales about valet parkers who scratch, dent or otherwise damage automobiles in their care.

''They abuse the cars,'' he said. ''The more expensive the car, the more open it is for abuse.''

Frankly, I used to politely smile whenever Kenneth offered one of his tirades on parking. And then it happened. Last year, my husband and I attended back-to-back parties on the same night. After the first party, we blissfully drove away in our humble red Dodge Caravan, after tipping the valet parker, who closed our car doors for us.

Our trouble began just minutes later at our next stop, when my husband tried to open his door on the driver's side. The inside door handle, which worked fine before we handed it over to the first valet parker, was jammed. In a hurry to hop from party to party, we had not noticed the damage until it was too late. But Kenneth has a solution:

''When the valet parker gives you your car, do a quick once-over to make sure everything is OK,'' Kenneth said. ''If you do see a scratch or dent that wasn't there before, report it immediately.''

He quickly concedes that not all valet parkers mishandle cars and, in fact, there are many responsible valet parkers out there. Nevertheless, Kenneth prefers to park his own cars at conferences, parties and other large events.

''It's worth walking a few blocks to save time, aggravation and money,'' Kenneth said.

Valet parkers can be a friendly source of inside tips about sightseeing, dining and even parking. My editor, for example, received a valuable tip from a valet parker at one of the oceanfront hotels in Miami Beach, where a community-awards banquet was being held. The valet kindly pointed my editor to a large public lot on Collins Avenue, where parking was significantly cheaper.

Likewise, at a financial investment conference in Boca Raton, a hotel valet parker directed my car-pool driver to a frugal lot nearby.

And don't overlook public lots run by local parking authorities and municipalities. The rates are usually low and there are various discounts, including special debit card programs for parking.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Clearance Bin for DIY Party Favors

For a recent birthday party for my youngest child, my husband and I found great party favors/activities at Michael's...the craft store.

In the clearance bins, we found wooden door signs that hang from door handles like the do-not-disturb signs on hotel rooms. Each package contained 6 wooden door paddles in different colors and sold for the discounted price of $2 a package. That's about 33 cents per favor and we also picked up discounted glitter paint, stickers and other items to decorate the wooden door signs.

The kids spent a good part of the party decorating their door signs with names, messages (Yael's room: Keep Out!!) or pretty scenes. The activity was equally popular with the boys and girls.

So keep an eye out for cute projects, gift ideas and party favors in the clearance bins of craft stores. Children can actually save and use party favors that are craft projects. The alternative -- party bags stuffed with plastic trinkets and rubberized toys-- waste money and create clutter.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cheap Playoff tix Miami Heat!!!

Frugal Ticket Update

So....we had a great time at the Miami Heat game.{Shaq, D-Wade, J-Will, 'Toine Walker, Posey, the Glove and Co. played a great game) It was fun watching the Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls NBA playoff game from the upper level of America Airlines Arena.

We were in the standing room section at the cost of $12 per ticket. I felt a certain smug pleasure enjoying the stadium atmosphere, the hype and the action for such a low price.

There were great give-aways: free Heat rally rags and lots of other stuff. Radio Disney was there and my kids won a new Muppets DVD for my youngest child.

Of course, watching the game at home in front of the TV screen would have been the most frugal option. But for ardent Heat fans like us, getting inexpensive playoff tickets was a real thrill.

I believe in mindful spending. It's not a waste to (mindfully) spend money on the people, the activities and the things that really matter. And I really like watching the Miami Heat with my sons Tali and Gabi!!! GO Heat!!!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Cheap NBA Playoff Tickets!!!! Heats vs Bulls!!!

I am so excited. We're going to the NBA playoffs tonight and I did not pay a fortune for my tickets.

My boys and I are going to watch the Miami Heat play the Chicago Bulls tonight. We purchased standing room tickets for $12 each. That's great. I love the Miami Heat

So here's the tip: most stadiums and arenas sell standing room tickets for really, really cheap prices. We even purchased our tickets the day of the game.

Let other people play eye-popping figures for playoff tickets. You can see great NBA playoff games for low prices. Just check out the SRO tickets.


And PERSONAL SPORTS VENT: What's up with the NBA Brass??!???? It's so wrong that Udonis Haslem has been suspended for a game. Enough Already!!! It was bad enough that he was ejected!!! A technical was okay.

I disagree with Joe Crawford and the NBA decision about Udonis Haslem.

But hey, I'm going to the game tonight!!!! I'll cheer lots!!! I am such a big fan of the Miami Heat.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Zen-Frugal Tax Advice

Here's a Zen Approach to last-minute tax preps. I received this news release today and I thought it was cute--plus some of the ZEN moments have a frugal ring:

Jackson Hewitt has created five "Tax Zen mantras."

1. He who will not economize will have to agonize. Unless he takes advantage of all his deductions.

2. Make haste slowly. Except as April 17 approaches.

3. Everything has its beauty. Even taxes.

4. The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. The same goes for sorting all your receipts.

5. To know you have enough is to be rich. Getting the biggest refund you deserve helps too.

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. (NYSE: JTX) is the second largest tax preparation service company in the United States with over 6,000 franchised and
company-owned offices in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Organic Food for Less

Chefs at many high-end restaurants prefer to whip up their culinary treats with the vivid flavors provided by organic produce and food products.

Many organic products are tastier and healthier than their conventional counterparts. Unfortunately for those of us on a tight budget, the eye-popping price tags often put organic foods out of reach.

But you don't have to carve up your budget to serve organic produce and food, said Craig Minowa, an environmental scientist with the Organic Consumers Association, a nonprofit industry group.

Through comparison shopping, bulk buying and creative networking, it's possible to purchase organic products at prices lower than those of below-standard produce. Shoppers can even work out direct purchase agreements with farmers who specialize in organic crops.

''There are multiple techniques for saving dollars when buying organic,'' Minowa said.

His first tip is familiar to thrifty shoppers. Use coupons and store specials to pick up organic items. Like their industry counterparts, health food stores have weekly specials and other promotions. By combining coupons with weekly specials, it's possible to purchase organic products at reasonable prices.


Buying in bulk or special ordering a large shipment of a specific item is also a frugal alternative. Many food cooperatives and health food stores will accept bulk or special order purchases from consumers, Minowa said.

And don't forget standard channels. Conventional supermarkets such as Publix also offer periodic sales on organic produce. Organic products at bulk rate prices are also available at big box outlets such as Costco.

You can also start your own buying club or food co-op with friends and neighbors, Minowa said. To take this route, he recommends several steps: establish a monthly meeting; draw up a group shopping list; and research buying channels. Your club can either make bulk purchases through an existing food co-op or establish direct connections with different organic food distributors.

Companies such as Blooming Prairie will send bulk buyers a catalog with special prices and discounts. Many organic distributors also operate websites with details about minimum orders and product range.


You can also go straight to the source by tapping into the network of organic farmers associated with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system. Across the country, there are about 1,000 farmers enrolled in CSA. At varying rates, consumers pay a membership fee to a CSA farm and for that fee receive direct shipments of organic farm products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information about CSA farms throughout the country USDA CSA. Consumers can use the CSA database to locate a CSA farm close to their zip codes. You can also find local CSA listings by tapping into localharvest.

''This method [of buying organic food] has become very popular and very affordable,'' Minowa said.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Carnival of Debt Reduction Day 1

Welcome to the Carnival of Debt Reduction as hosted by the Frugal Duchess all this week!!! It's a great way to start April!

With thanks to the, I present the Carnival of Debt Reduction. Debt is an important subject and slicing down debt tops the agenda for many of us.

For the Carnival of Debt Reduction, I have some great submissions and I will be adding entries through the end of the day, Saturday, April 8, 2006. So, if you have any ideas about reducing debt, drop me a note ( or file a comment on this blog. I will continue to update the Carnival until 11:59 (EST) April 8.

Thanks to those who have submitted ideas, examples and technical advice! Thanks to everyone for stopping by the carnival.

By the way, next week's Carnival of Debt will be hosted by The Wandering Indian
The first carnival entry this week is from next week's host.

Carnival Entries:

Wandering Indian Monk
presents: How to ease the pain of high-interest credit card debt?
Summary: Strategies for dealing with eye-popping rates
presents: Which debt to reduce first
Comments: A couple has two debts they might want to tackle. Which is better?
Submitter: mbhunter

It's Just Money
presents Discover Card Cashback Program Review
Summary: Discover advertises its cashback program as #1 in the nation. What is that based on? Get the 411.
Submitter: LAMoneyGuy

The Common Room
presents:Financial Self-Discipline
Summary: Use self-discipline to accomplish your financial goals
Submitter: DeputyHeadmistress

Harrison Loke at Journey To Financial Freedom presents Pay Down Credit Card Debt based on APR or Minimum Payment

The Family CEO presents Going after the big stuff first: the mortgage posted at The Family CEO.