Sakariasen's Cheapskate Blog

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Three Ways to Cut Your Breakfast Costs: Part One October 31, 2010

There tend to be people who always eat breakfast and those who don’t but quaff the coffee as if they’re dying of thirst. Most of us waste tons of money on our breakfast items without even realizing it. Why? Often times, when we’re getting a breakfast item, it seems cheap. You think to yourself, “I’m only spending a dollar on that coffee. This sandwich only costs two dollars. That’s nothing.” But all of these dollars add up and they add up fast. I decided to write a bit about a few different ways to cut your breakfast costs in no time.

 

NUMBER ONE: STOP BUYING COFFEE FROM THE STORE


I know, I know. I heard a few people audibly cry as they read this aloud. If you’re hard up on cash, this is one of the first things you can do to cut your breakfast costs. (Or, for many people, lunch and dinner costs as well.) Consider the fact that a cup of coffee costs anywhere from $1-$5, depending on where you are purchasing your favorite brew. If you buy only one cup of coffee per day at its cheapest price, that costs you $7/week at minimum. That doesn’t seem like much until you compare this to what you can buy from the store.

 

You can buy a large container of coffee for anywhere from $6-$8 and you can always find coupons for popular brands, such as Folger’s or Maxwell House, regularly. That one container makes over 200 8 oz. cups of coffee. And if you’re dying for the iced stuff, make your coffee the night before and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re a coffee snob and need to cut costs, you might just have to get over it! There are plenty of brands out there with a variety of different roasts that you can experiment with to find your favorite.

 

You will be saving a ton of money in the long-run. But keep these other things in mind:

  • If you use sugar or artificial sweeteners in your coffee, purchase them when they’re on sale and stock up depending upon how much you use them.
  • If you need to purchase a coffee maker, you do not need to purchase a state-of-the-art stainless steel one. Mine is simple, does its job, has an automatic brew and shut-off and only cost me $30. You will make this money back quickly from what you otherwise would have spent on coffee.
  • If you don’t want to buy disposable filters, although you can find them very cheap, pick up a reusable filter at the dollar store. They last for a long time and you don’t have to worry about running out of the paper ones.

Stay cheap my friends!

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Why Credit Cards Are Not Always the Enemy October 29, 2010

I always hear things about credit card companies that, more or less, express nothing but complete disdain for them. People are often fighting against the “evil” credit card companies, as interest continues to pile onto the charges they so happily made days, weeks or even months back. Of course, things happen and sometimes credit cards appear to be the only way to pay for something that is necessary. But let’s face it: much of the debt accumulated by people is not absolutely necessary and in fact, people tend to overvalue what they need and pay much more than they have to for many things. It’s funny how fast personal responsibility fades when debt comes into play.

 

Of course, I think, more than anything, people really need to learn more about their finances. Period.

 

Now, back to the topic at hand. Frankly, I love using my credit card. I have two and primarily only use one. The one I use is a Discover card because of the cash back rewards that I receive. I have never, ever paid them a dime of interest. Ever. As  I always tell people, if you are very tight with money and cannot afford to pay whatever you are buying right off, then forget it. Like I said, emergencies arise and things happen. But I’m talking about people who really think having a newer TV is a necessity and plan on making payments over the course of the next few years. Right now, we are living paycheck to paycheck, as our income has been slashed in half, yet we are not in debt. And trust me, neither of us made a lot of money at all!

 

My first piece of advice to anyone who is considering getting a credit card is to shop around. There are a few main credit card companies out there but within each company are tons of different kinds of cards. Some have cash back rewards. Some have frequent flyer miles. Some offer nothing. It is really up to you to do your homework. I do not travel very often so frequent flyer miles seem pointless to me. Another reason to shop around is because you should not settle for any card. Cards also vary by interest rate. Now, if your credit isn’t so hot, you’re probably going to find some difficulty in getting the best interest rate out there. Thus, you need to be really careful with this. Do not get a credit card if your credit is terrible because you have an addiction to shopping. This is really ideal for people who are good with their money or for people who are trying to get their credit back on track and have self-control.

 

I chose this Discover card because of the 1% I get back on every purchase. Furthermore, every season, I can sign-up for things that will give me 5% cash back. For example, one season might offer 5% cash back on all grocery stores. That means every time that I shop at a grocery store, I will receive 5% cash back credited toward my Discover account.  (However, this can be limited. I have noticed it say, “Up to $300.” And that’s per season.) Additionally, Discover does something where if you shop through their website, you will receive a greater percentage back. For example, if I want to shop at Target.com, I will log into my Discover.com account first and then click through the website to get to the Target website. I have done this before to get 5% cash back as opposed to the 1% regular cash back. I actually went to check and they give anywhere from 5-20% extra cash back, if you click through their site to shop and use your Discover card for the purchase.

 

Now, when you want to cash in your rewards, you have a variety of options, which I also like. For straight shooters, you can have the cash deposited directly into your account. Personally, I do not choose this option because I like getting more bang for my buck. You can also purchase items directly off their website, which I’m not really interested in either. The thing I generally do is I turn my rewards into a certificate or gift card, especially considering I am usually buying things from these places. Discover offers a variety of stores to choose from so your options are seemingly endless. Let me explain why this is usually the best choice. I need to purchase books and I plan on purchasing them from B&N. Discover allows me to use $40 of my cash back rewards toward a $50 gift card. What does that mean? That means that Discover takes the $40 from your rewards account and applies it to a gift card, resulting in $10 of your gift card being free. Essentially, I just got $10 free to spend at B&N, which I was going to do anyway. But this way makes the most sense.

 

Keep in mind—you are not going to get rich by doing this. Again, I have not paid Discover a dime of interest but they have paid me, over the past few years, hundreds of dollars that I can use for whatever I want. We’re going to be really hard-up this Christmas, so my partner-in-crime, who has about $500 in cash back rewards and I will be either distributing gift cards to our families or buying gift cards and, in turn, buying things from those particular stores. Either way, this is why I love my credit cards—because I love getting things for free!

 

Three Cleaning Products to Be Miserly Over October 28, 2010

Household items are so easy to buy. Really. You might walk into a store and find yourself walking right into aisles and aisles of appealing products. But it’s really easy to cut costs here or there with household items. Here are three different products that are used to clean someone or something that you can save money on anytime!

 

1. Soap. I frequently see people buying bottles of soap. Often times, those little bottles are on sale. You’ll see them for about .99 cents. For example, when I first moved into my apartment, I bought a few different bottles of SoftSoap, 7.5 fluid ounces, for .99 cents a pop. I thought, “Good deal. I like the way they smell and they’re only a buck.” After that, I decided to buy a large bottle of liquid soap so that I could continue to reuse the same soap dispenser. I bought a four liter jug of soap over a year ago and I still have it. The jug of soap was approximately $8, though sometimes they are on sale for even cheaper. For the amount of soap I have in the jug, I would have to buy 18 of the abovementioned bottles, thus pay $18 plus tax for what I was able to get for $8. If you want to avoid all of this then I guess you can just ignore the entire idea of washing your hands. (Note: Joke was inserted at the end of this paragraph.)

 

2. Bleach. Drink up! (Note: Do not do that! Ever!) I bought a 22 fl. oz. bottle of cleaner, All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach, for $1. HomeBasics. I thought, “Good deal.” Then I realized, I can buy a big bottle of bleach for less than $2 and make my own cleaner by diluting the bleach.  Diluting the bleach and reusing the same bottle will save me a ton of money. Besides, bleach is one of the best things to use to clean your bathroom and kitchen. It is so simple yet so effective! Proceed to this link if you want to make your own cleaner: 

http://www.bukisa.com/articles/137906_how-to-make-your-own-bleach-cleaner

 

3. Detergent. Detergent is one of those things that lures you in by playing games with your olfactory system. Commercials make detergents incredibly appealing, attempting to wow you with their results. Can’t you tell that you should buy their products just by the sheer joy that people express upon washing their clothing? Their smiles are intoxicating! Okay, enough of that. The first thing you should do if you’re trying to save money and be as frugal as possible is to forget about those lofty dreams you’ve had where all you can think about is keeping the bright colors alive and well in your clothing! (1) You do NOT need to purchase detergent that runs from $8+ a bottle. (2) You do not need fabric softener, as nice as your clothing feels and as great as it smells. (3) Only buy detergent when it is on sale and stock up. I bought five bottles of Xtra Detergent for $10 almost two years ago and I still have plenty of detergent left. (4) Keep your eyes out for any detergent coupons as well.

 

Hope you enjoyed my blog entry for today. I’ll always take recommendations for what to write about and I have tons of ideas coming your way. Keep these ideas in mind to start saving money today!

 

Sakariasen’s Cheapskate Blog

Hello!

I decided, after having a rather lengthy conversation with myself, that I am miserly. Yes, that’s right. I’m cheap. I am synonymous with anything of the following terms you might have come across in your lifetime: cheap, frugal, thrifty, parsimonious, close-fisted, penny-pinching, tightfisted, stingy, cheapskate, and more seriously, penurious, impecunious, or just flat-out poor.

I was living comfortably. And now, not so much. So I decided to delve into the world of cheap.

Join me!