Thursday, November 30, 2006

Frugal Book Deals

Two good book deals going on right now:
Weekly Reader has a deal where you purchase 10 hardcover classics and you get four "free" hardcover books for $20. Shipping is $3.95, and you can use code 125553 for 10% off. That equals 14 hardcover books for $21.95, or $1.57 per book. A caveat: there's no way to know what books you will get. However, I am thrilled with what I got and after checking Amazon I found that all of these books retail for $10+ each. The books in this deal are all pictured except for Green Eggs and Ham. Note: on the order page, make sure you say 'no' when asked whether or not you want the unsecure items displayed. This will make the little lock appear that tells you you're on a secure site.
Also, are you aware of the Aquafresh Dr. Seuss book offer? Buy any combination of Aquafresh Dr. Seuss toothpaste or toothbrushes and get a FREE Dr. Seuss book by mail. I bought two toothpastes when they were on sale for .99 at Walgreens and I had a coupon. The toothpastes themselves went into my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. All I had to do was cut off the UPC labels, fill out this form, and I got Green Eggs and Ham by mail in about a month.
Want smart kids/nephews/nieces/grandchildren? READ TO THEM! That's why my head is so huge, y'all. To hold all my brains.

The Fruit of My Labor

On Tuesday I decided to wrap all of my Christmas gifts. This is everything except for two gifts that I have to finish making and some cookies that need to be baked. I am very happy to have this done! I will package together some extra notebooks and such just in case someone at school gives me a gift that I wasn't prepared for. I should mention that I decided to wrap these presents instead of studying for a test the next day. :P (Monica- do you recognize the packs of notecards in the front? That was such a great gift idea! Thanks for all of your great ideas!!!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Weekend Shopping: More Non-Frugal Outlet Finds

Well. On Black Friday my mom and I went to another outlet mall to shop. At a reasonable hour, mind you. I wound up with the finds above. First, I broke down and got a Brooks Brothers non-iron shirt. French blue, french cuffs, fitted version, size 10. It is so fabulous in person. I realize I am the only one who gets this jazzed about button down shirts, but this shirt is very well made! And it should be for the ridiculous prices they charge. In my defense, they are cheaper at the outlet and they were 25% off. And I had a 20% off your total order coupon. So it was a lot cheaper than normal but more than I typically spend on a button down shirt- ~$35 . Also in my defense, I have not been able to find a French blue button down in the last 5 months or so. This puppy fits me perfectly!
Next, I purchased not one, but two leather handbags at the Jones New York outlet. The pictures of them turned out rather crappy, but they are really pretty in real life. I needed a brown bag, and I just plain wanted the off-white one. I am very picky when it comes to bag: no pleather, metal hardware, no plastic zippers on the outside, must be a medium size, must not be garish or have too many competing details, no contrast top-stitching, must be at least semi-structured. With these requirements it is a wonder that I ever get any handbags at all. So to find two in one trip was quite amazing. They were both on sale but not cheap- $30 for the off-white (down from $118), $40 for the brown croc print (down from $88).
I used graduation money for these purchases, which made it a lot easier to spend so much. ;) This weekend I am going on a mini trip with my friend H, and that will pretty much use up the last of my graduation money. So thanks everyone!

Weekend Shopping: The Electronics Version

Here are the items that I ordered from Staples from the comfort of my home computer on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The mini mouse with USB port was $5 down from $30. I will use it if I ever get a laptop (I'd like to get a cheap laptop so that when I move for internship I don't have to move my big PC). The flash drive will be ~$7 after rebates, down from $60. I'm giving it to my mom since she is in need of a flash or jump drive. The power strip will be free after rebate. My only regret is that I did not anticipate buying anything from Staples, and I let myself get low on $3 ink coupons. Next time I will know better! :)

Monday, November 27, 2006


I am finally FINALLY finished with internship applications. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Now I just have to wait and pray that I get some interviews in January...

Email from Jesus

Okay, I should not be posting now since I HAVE to finish five cover letters in the next couple of hours (more on this later). But this is so funny that I have to share. I have Yahoo email, and it is very good about sending spam into my bulk folder. I also redirect emails from companies to this folder. I went in to the bulk folder to make sure it was all spam and not something I needed to read. Well, you guys, you know I am special, right?? In this folder I had an email from sender Jesus with the subject line How Is Everything. This made me laugh sooo hard. Well, Jesus, things could be better. I am really tired of school and am ready to end these somewhat-of-a-nightmare three years. But I am very grateful for Your constant provision and blessings. ;) God totally has a sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cleaning and Organizing

Last Saturday, I went to my Auntie T's house for a few hours to assist in cleaning out this big ol' closet that she has. Yes, this is my idea of a good time. Yes, I volunteered to do this. Yes, I will come to your house and do it for free if you pay for my travel expenses. Anyway, my label maker and I had a great time. She cleaned out lots of stuff and we got the rest neatly packaged into plastic tubs with labels. As a reward, Auntie T purchased for me the magazine Christmas Baking, which is delightful. She also gave me a loaf of fresh delicious bread. I had my choice of the stuff she was giving away. There was a lot of new stuff that she didn't want anymore, and you can be sure that I took it to go in my gift tub! The gets are: two brand new copies of the hardback book The Christmas Lizard, a coloring book and some small notebooks, a baby softball, handmade soap, wooden spoons, and some of those plastic outlet protectors. I have a couple more baby gifts to put together soon, so I will package the outlet protectors up cutely with the other stuff I give. I am keeping the wooden spoons and one of the notebooks for myself, but the rest will be future gifts. :) Good fun!

Much Better!

Well, my brief bout with the stomach flu has thankfully passed. Thank you ladies for the well wishes! An unexpected side effect is that I, a renowned eater-who-likes-to-shove-in-as-much-as-possible, am getting full on barely any food. For breakfast, I had peanut butter toast and skim milk and I am stuffed. Stuffed! If this keeps up, Thanksgiving should be interesting.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vomitous + Free Shipping

First, and most importantly, is having free shipping on *any* purchase. This pretty much never happens. I got the two skirts above for under $50. Which is not frugal at all, but is quite awesome for Anthro prices.
Second, and less importantly, I spent most of the wee hours of the morning trying not to throw up. I have been successful thus far (thank you, Lord!). Television at 2 and 3 am is odd at best. I had my choice of infomercials, news, a Katie Holmes movie, or the college courses taped at local universities and then played on PBS for distance learners. I chose History 122, where the professor lectured briefly about Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and then lectured extensively about JFK. The JFK part was boring, but I think the professor was a little obsessed with JFK as he talked about how wonderful and handsome he was. Hee hee!
Anyhoo, I am going to crawl back to bed now and try to get comfortable.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tessa As Depicted in Styrofoam By Her Nephew

Yes, I am this gorgeous in real life. Jealous?

Frugal Music

CDs have never been something that I've spent a lot of money on. As a child, I spent my money on books and then later on clothes (surprising, I know). My family likes to have a wish list from me at Christmas and at my birthday, so I would ask for CDs at that time and avoid having to buy them. I usually do not listen to the whole CD, just one or two songs. I became familiar with individual song downloads and have never looked back. I've found a few frugal ways to get both individual songs and CDs:
1) Wal-Mart music downloads. They are .88 a piece, which is one of the cheapest out there. They also occasionally have a free song you can download. Recently it was an Aaron Shust song. I received a giftcard to Wal-Mart from my bro and SIL for my birthday in June and I have been using it ever since to download songs. I still have $7.68 left on it. :P
2) Be aware of free downloads on the packages of other products. I recently had free downloads from Aquafresh toothpaste, Renu contact lens solution, and Bic mechanical pencils. I had to download a couple of different programs, which was a little irritating. But I got free music!
3) If you enjoy classical music, the Philadelphia Orchestra frequently has free downloads. You can also sign up on their email list and they'll let you know when there is new music to download. You can find the current free download here.
4) If you need or want the whole CD, is the way to go. If you are familiar with Paperback swap, it works in a similar way. In fact, you can "migrate" your account over. You list a bunch of CDs and then request music from others and others request CDs from you. The only difference with Paperback swap is you need to load money to pay for each CD. They will only cost you .49, so don't worry. My nickname on there is "Tessa" in case you sign up and would like to use me as a referral. ;) If you do not have Third Day's Offerings CD, sign up right now and get it. It is great. I also have gotten John Denver's Greatest Hits volumes one and two. :P
Happy Music Hunting!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Keeping Christmas Frugal

There are many ways to have a fun and frugal Christmas. Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
1) Start early and plan early. If you're like me, you can't stomach looking at Christmas anything in January. Get over it. Or start in February. ;) I keep a card and gift binder that has a list of ideas for next Christmas, what crafty supplies I have on hand, and what I have purchased so far. I recommend making a budget worksheet or getting one here.
2) Set a strict budget for each person, activity, and baking/cooking. Carefully plan each purchase with sales and coupons if possible. Remember that cooking supplies start to go on sale in November and coupons for these items are also available during this time.
3) Always be looking for gifts. Good deals are available all the time, you just need to keep an eye out for them. I have more posts on good deals here (September 21) and here. I finished my Christmas shopping before the end of August. It helps me have time to really enjoy the holiday.
4) Make your own Christmas cards! It's lots of fun. You can get the kids involved and have them draw on each card. If you want to have holiday photos, take them yourself or have a friend take them. Develop them cheaply yourself using the knowledge you gleaned here.
5) Use baked items as gifts for coworkers, families at church, unexpected guests, etc. You can save a LOT of money this way. Purchase baskets or plates for your goods at the dollar store or at garage sales.
6) Package your presents nicely with homemade supplies.
7) Attend free community and church activities.
8) Remember that Christmas is not about consumption!!!!!!!! We have taken a celebration of the birth of Christ and turned it into a spend-happy month of gluttony. Celebrating is wonderful. Traditions are wonderful. Do your kids need $500 gifts? Probably not. Just try to keep that in mind when you are crazed and searching for "the perfect gift."
Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Making Christmas Cards

Last summer, Monica at The Homespun Heart had some very informative posts about making your own greeting/note cards. Instructions are here. Scroll down to the 7th for full instructions. I have been doing this ever since and I find it to be a lot of fun. I decided to make my own Christmas cards using her templates. This was early in the summer before I had much experience making cards. I didn't have any cardstock at the time, so I used construction paper. I watered down a white acrylic paint that I had and used it to stamp snowflakes on the envelopes and across the front of the cards. I also added some details in red paint on some of the cards and mixed green with some of the white paint so the snowflakes would show up on the cream colored cards. On the inside, I am going to use a stamp that says "The Lord has come! Let the world rejoice." I just need to get to Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon to buy a green ink pad. ;) I also bought some foil seals to close the envelopes. I am already thinking about what I want to make for next year! :P

The Skirt In Question

If you came here from Rebecca's blog, here is the skirt in question. I couldn't get a picture of it where it did not look magenta, but it really is crimson in real life. You'll just have to trust me when I say that it really is darling in real life. And just the thing for the holidays if I can find what to wear with it! Oh- I also, um, have it in chocolate brown. Ahem.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Frugal Photos

My mom recently needed some photos developed off of her digital camera. I offered to shop around the free print offers online and see how cheaply I could get the photos. I considered the following companies: Snapfish, York Photo, Kodak, Photo Works, and Shutterfly. Pretty much all of these companies offer a designated amount of free photos when you sign up; you just pay shipping. Snapfish and Photo Works also are great for having coupon codes.

For reference, regular pricing for prints is as follows: Snapfish .12; York Photo .10; Kodak .15; Photo Works .19 for 1-24 and .15 for 25-499; Shutterfly .19. The shipping for each company is as follows: Snapfish 1.97 for 16-25 prints and an additional .49 for each batch of 10 thereafter; York Photo 2.09 for 16-25 prints and an additional .32 for each batch of 10 thereafter; Kodak 2.49 for 20-49 prints; Photo Works 1.95 for 1-20 prints and an additional .95 per each batch of 20 thereafter; and Shutterfly 1.79 for 1-10, 1.99 for 11-20, and 2.49 for 21-30. Shutterfly is very expensive all around and they rarely offer coupon codes that are worth anything to me as they tend to be for expensive "photo gifts." I generally use Snapfish, York, and Photo Works with coupon codes. For most of these companies, you need to download their software so that you can easily upload your photos.

For this experiment I used Snapfish to order 20 prints, Photo Works to order 30, and Kodak to order 10. In each case I only had to pay shipping. At Snapfish, shipping was .98 with a code. At Photo Works, shipping was 2.90, and at Kodak it was 1.49. Obviously Snapfish was the winner here. Overall, I spent $5.37 for 60 prints, which averages 8.9 cents per photo. I was very pleased with my results!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


You know how some people are compulsive packrats? I am the opposite. I am a compulsive get-rid-of-er. I cannot stand to have too much clutter around me. This even goes for my beloved clothing, which I am always cleaning out to take to the consignment shop. The one area where I am NOT like this is books. I love having tons of books around. It does not feel like clutter to me. The pictures above are of some recent gets:

Picture One: These were all purchased at my local library bookstore. I live in a small town with a tiny library, so needless to say it is surprising that we have a library bookstore. It is in a small house next to the library and is adorable! The book prices are great: .50 for hardback, .35 or .25 for paperback depending on the size, and children's books are free. I haven't gotten very far with these, but 52 Simple Ways to Make Christmas Special is actually really good. It is written in a Christian perspective and I would recommend it to anyone looking for unique Christmas ideas.

Picture Two: These were purchased at a library book sale in the larger town that I go to graduate school in. It was total madness. I went last Friday. I thought I'd go early before I had to be at the school clinic and that I'd beat the crowds. No. No, I did not. People were already lined up. With carts on wheels. I am not joking. And I might add that I was wearing a heavy wool coat and rather impractical heels. I did not look around much since the crowds were so daunting. I just got in and out as quickly as possible. I already have a copy of Your Money or Your Life, but I am enjoying it so much that I picked up another copy to give away. I am also reading The Millionaire Next Door and it is very fascinating. The prices here weren't great; they were $1 a book.

Picture Three: These were ordered for me by my dear Mumsie (Mom). She has joined a book club and got several free. She offered to let me have one free and I picked Vogue Sewing since I am trying to get myself back to sewing. Well, my sweet mother also ordered the Christmas books for me, too, because I was eyeing them. If you haven't noticed, I have a slight habit of collecting Christmas books.

That's all for now!


Three recent searches that have led people to this blog: "luckymagrewards", "coupon binder", and "really nearsighted and lenses". That pretty much sums me up!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tess Rocks!

No, not me silly. The delightful and witty Tess over at She offered up a bunch of yarn for FREE, and you know my ears perk up like a dog's at that word. I was expecting something hideous (I consider hideous yarn a challenge) but this is lovely. I'm not sure what I'm going to make yet but half the fun is in thinking about it! And I must say I am impressed by her shipping skills because she made all this yarn fit into a Priority box and I have not been able to get all it back in since I opened it. Thanks Tess!!!!!!!!! Now go visit her blog and tell her how awesome she is.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

To The Commenter Who Asked

about where I got the plastic pages in the coupon binder: sorry for the delay, I just saw your comment. They are baseball card display/collector pages that I purchased at Wal-Mart. They were located in the check-out aisle where the smoking paraphernalia is. No, I don't smoke, but apparently those who collect baseball cards do as the supplies are nearly always in this aisle. This system is working SO MUCH BETTER for me than the accordian file was. I can see everything much better. Hope this helps!

Not-So-Frugal Outlet Shopping

On Saturday my mom and I went outlet shopping. I love outlet shopping even though it's not where I typically get the cheapest deals. The top picture is the new briefcase I bought at Wilson's Leather Outlet. I need one to take on internship interviews in January, and my black briefcase is just about shot since I carry it to school and to both clinics. I bought this beauty on sale for $35 down from $200. I also like the way the picture makes it look like it's suspended in air. LOL. At Old Navy I got the green skirt ($2.38) and the pink polo ($3.99). The green skirt will be perfect for when I go to Mexico, and I'm planning on layering the pink polo over long sleeve tees. I got an additional 20% off at ON since I have a Banana Republic card and they are having a promo. The BR card is one of the few that is worth it in my opinion. It has pretty good perks (ONLY if you pay off the balance in full each month!!!). Finally, as you know, I have a weakness for button down shirts. Particularly those from Van Heusen. Unfortunately the one I bought is 100% cotton and not the no-iron kind. That means I will wear it maybe 2x per year when I get around to ironing. ;) It also cost me $16.60, which is not a great deal but is about half off the original price. And it fits me perfectly! Finally, I bought a pair of chandelier earrings ($1) for a friend's birthday. All in all it was a great day. Good fun!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Scroll Down

for another post on frugal gift giving. It's dated October 31. It took me a few days to complete. ;)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Kleenex Box Plastic Bag Holder

This tip is straight out of The Tightwad Gazette. I save plastic shopping bags to take my lunch in and to line trash cans. I previously had them stored in a large shopping bag, but it was way too bulky and took up too much room. I wish I had counted how many bags I was able to stuff in here. I think it was no less than 20. This has cut down on space and looks cute, too! If you're creative you can cover it with paper or fabric. Or you can be lazy like me and just look for a pretty box. Works for Me!