Sunday, April 22, 2007

America's Cheapest Family - Must Read Book

Turns out that I am only "1 degree of separation" from frame. My sister is friends with some lovely folks who wrote a book that got on the New York Times Best Seller List! And of course... what is it about? BARGAINS! Of course.

The book is called, "America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money" by Steve and Annette Economides. I had the pleasure of spending some time with the Economides family on a trip to visit my sister. They are wonderful people and live exactly like they save they do in their book. I, the Queen of Bargains, had a FABULOUS time talking with Steve and Annette.

Check this out. Steve and Annette have managed to feed their family of seven on just $350 per month, pay off their first house in nine years and purchase a second, larger home, buy cars with cash, take wonderful vacations, and put money in savings.

Their book is a must-read for anyone who is serious about living on a budget and getting the most for their money. I don't lightly tell people to BUY a book (when you can use the library) but this one you need to read from cover to cover. Click here: America's Cheapest Family to order the book. (of course, buy a used copy)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Shop Early - Save Big

OK... here is an important bargain shopping tip.

Don't grocery shop hungry and don't shop for presents in a hurry!

What I mean is this... don't shop for Christmas presents on December 24th. Don't shop for a birthday present on your way to the party. Don't try to find the perfect anniversary present on your way to meet your spouse at the restaurant. You will NOT find a bargain... you WILL spend more than you would if you weren't in such a time crunch.

I shop for Holiday presents all year long. I have a box (that becomes boxes) that is off limits to the rest of the family. Every time I find something that I think would make a great present, I buy it and stash it away in the present box. Most of the items in this box come from clearance shelves, yard sales, deep discount tables, thrift shops, etc. By the time the Holidays come around, I have almost all my shopping done. I then can go out and get some items that had to wait - like new shoes for growing feet.

I even have a box for presents for myself. (The rule is that I am not allowed to look at the presents in my own box. Then at the Holidays, I give my husband the box and have him wrap my presents! I always get what I want and I know it was a bargain.)

I also have a box where I keep presents that will be good for Birthday Party gifts. If I find a great craft kit that is age appropriate for my daughter's friends, I will buy several and put them in the Birthday Present box. Then, when I get 24 hours notice that, "Oh, mom, I forgot.... Sally invited me to her birthday party ... it's tomorrow." No worries... I just grab one of the kits from the present box, wrap and take to the party.

I must give credit to this idea from my mom, who always had a stash of wonderful "hostess presents" in the closet, just ready to take to the next party. She also had a freezer full of frozen cookies and fried chicken.. the women could feed a small army that just dropped in, out of the food in her freezer. But, that, is another story.

Hope this tip helps you save time and money.

Big Lots - Closeout Retailer

Big Lots, with locations all across America is a closeout retailer.

What is a closeout retailer? Per the Big Lot website:

"Closeouts are the same first-quality, brand-name products found at other retailers, but at substantially lower prices. We buy closeout merchandise from manufacturers who want to reduce inventory as a result of package changes, canceled orders, product discontinuation or test market products."

What this translates into, for you, the bargain shopper, is an ever changing inventory of stuff that didn't make it off the shelf of the store it was originally sold to. Why? Maybe because the packaging was the wrong color, maybe because the shipment came in too late, maybe because the shop didn't promote... or maybe because it is a yucky product. But... because the smart people at Big Lot were able to buy it for a cheap-cheap price.... you get a chance to buy it at a discount price.

I think it is fun to go into Big Lots when I just feel like I need to find a good bargain. My favorite aisle is the Stationery Aisle - home of craft supplies. I found some wonderful paint-by-numbers sets for $2.99 the last time I was at Big Lots. I bought a few for my "Emergency Birthday Party Present Box." A few days ago I was at Michael's Art Supply store and saw the exact same kits for $14.99. Now, that's what I consider a good deal.

You can't go to Big Lots with a shopping list (until you are very familiar with their inventory), but you can and will find all sorts of things you just KNEW you needed.

Find a Big Lots location near you.... enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

International - Free Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream

Alert, Alert all you Bargain Hunter Ice Cream Lovers.... Tuesday, April 17th, 2007 ... from noon til 8:00 pm, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream shops AROUND THE WORLD will be giving out Free Ice Cream Cones! WOW!!

You can go to their website and locate the participating store nearest you. It's amazing how many shops they have.

Take a picture of you and your clan eating a scoop in some far off land. I'll post the happiest picture on my site. Send to: Bobbisbargains.blogspot.com

New York City - Discount Theatre Tickets

I didn't want my East Coast friends to think that I have abandoned them, so I consulted with my Long Island Discount Queen friend, Linda, to find out what kind of great Big Apple Bargain I should tell you about.

She came up with a goodie that I didn't know about: The Theatre Development Fund... TDF.org.

This is a great group that has true discount theatre tickets for those who qualify. Who qualifies?
  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Union members
  • Seniors (62 or over)
  • Civil service employees
  • Staff members of not-for-profit organizations
  • Performing arts professionals
  • Members of the armed forces
  • Clergy
That covers A LOT of people.

Check out this site. There is an annual $25 membership fee, but you will easily make that up with the discount you will get on ONE Broadway show ticket. You can get advanced tickets to Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway shows as well as Dance, Performance Art and special events. Not all shows will be on this list, but there are A LOT. You can also check out this site and join up if you are going to go to New York for a visit. It will be worth it.

Makes me wish I still lived in NYC... I LOVE Broadway!!!

Penny Saver USA - another great internet free advertising source

Dear Bargain Hunters....

I have lived in many places in the United States. Each place has had its own weekly free magazine that you either got in the mail or picked up at the local corner market.

Penny Saver is one of those magazines. It has grown with the times and is now online. Yipee!

Penny Saver covers markets in nine states including: California, Florida, Connecticut and Arkansas.

You can select your local region to find anything from Houses for Sale to Farm Fresh Fruit. This is a great source for finding a rental, a used car or a garage sale. It is also a free resource to use for selling your own great stuff.

Those of you living in major metropolitan areas can use the site to get an idea of how much cheaper housing is in Idaho. Those of you living in the boonies (non-metropolitan areas) can get a reality check on how expensive housing is in Los Angeles before packing your bags to head for stardom.

Penny Saver is an old favorite of mine. Certainly Craigslist has taken away some of its earlier luster, but it is still in there kicking as a great source to find and promote local bargains.

Another Free Movie Screening - "Schooled"

(NOTE: The original post had the wrong email address for reservations. The correct address is: RSVP@studioscreening.com)

Oh boy, this looks like a REAL good movie! I'm very excited to be able to let you know about the free movie screening followed by a Question and Answer session of the movie "Schooled." The screening is scheduled for Thursday, April 26, 2007 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Here is what the website says that the movie is about:
"Schooled is an earthly character study about a teacher in crisis who discovers a shockingly alternative school that teaches him to connect with kids as people."

There is a trailer on the website that has truly peeked my interest. Reservations seem to be made by emailing: RSVP@studioscreening.com

(Note that the web site indicates there will be screenings in other areas of the country and I bet there even could be screenings in other countries if someone contacted them.... hint, hint.)

I really don't know anything more about the movie than what you will see on the web site. I'm not a friend of the director or anything like that but I have been involved with Alternative Education for almost 30 years.

Maybe I will see you there! Let me know what you think of the movie: Bobbisbargains@hotmail.com

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Receive updates by email

I've received several emails letting me know that subscribing to my blog is not the easiest thing on the planet. I know... I almost couldn't figure out how to sign up myself!

So, I have done some research (my favorite thing) and found a way for people to easily subscribe to my blog and receive updates by email.

There is now a little box on the top right hand side of my blog to subscribe by email. Just enter your email address. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

Please let me know if there are any problems doing this or if it is still too difficult. I will find a better way if necessary. I don't want any of you to miss out on any of my bargains.

By the way, you can email me at Bobbisbargains@hotmail.com

Also, if you have bargains that you would like me to include in my blog, send it to me and I will include it.

Happy Bargain Hunting!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Free Movie Screenings - Los Angeles area

One of the best things about living near Hollywood is that there are a lot of movie screenings available. However, finding a way to get invited to those screenings can be pretty tricky.

Being the Bargain Queen that I am, I have a way to get my readers on a very special list so they will be invited to free movie screenings. These screenings take place in the Los Angeles, Orange County and Ventura County areas (of Southern California.) You get to choose your area.

There are movie screenings going on all the time. Once you are on "the list" you will get email notice of the name, location and date/time of upcoming screenings about 4 days ahead of time. You choose which ones you want to attend. However, if you say you are going to go to a screening and then don't go... you will be taken off the list. The "ticket" is always good for at least two people - sometimes more. Sometimes you even get free popcorn and a drink. Sometimes the screenings are in the private screening theatres on the major studio lots. Nice!

Unfortunately, I can't post the link here.

You have to email me at Bobbisbargains@hotmail.com and ask for it. Put "free movie screening request" in the subject line.

Once I receive an email from you requesting the Free Movie Screenings information with your name and email address, I can then send you instructions on how to get on this list. I promise I will NEVER give this information to anyone and you can use a nickname if you want. I will, however, automatically put you on my email list once you request this. If you don't want to be on my email list, let me know and I won't put you on the list ... and I will still send you the free movie screening information. But... why would anyone want to opt out of MY email list??

OK... this is the best deal of the day. Don't pass it up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shows and Event Tickets for Less - Goldstar Events

Even Patrons of the Arts need a good discount! I love the theatre, but the going rate for tickets is above my budget.... especially if I want to take the entire family.

Of course, that means that I needed to find an easy way to get reduced rate tickets. Enter Goldstar Events! Now this is a nifty little idea. You sign up and then weekly you get an email listing all the events in your area that you can get discount tickets for. (They cover all the major metropolitan areas in the US.... sorry, only the US.)

This week, there are discounts on everything from $5 LA Clipper Tickets (basketball) to 50% off at the Cote d'Azur Beauty Spa in Pasadena. (of course, my listings are for the LA area) They are also listing Free Tickets for the upcoming Santa Monica Designer Shopping Party on April 26th at the Santa Monica Civic Center.

There is a service fee on the tickets, so even for the free tickets, you will pay something. But it is still a better deal than paying full box office price. Of course, if you know someone in the cast that can get your free tickets... even better!

Now, here is the deal. You DO have to sign up, but it doesn't cost anything to do so. Then you get an email every once in awhile letting you know about some upcoming events in your area at discount prices.

If nothing else, you will get to know about some fabulous events that are happening in your area. You can have a thrifty date and be in the know about the current scene in your city! What could be better?

PS.... here is another site: LA Stage Alliance. They list half price tickets and also show what shows are opening this week and closing this week. Same deal as above. Join and then they send you an email. Great way to get a "2-fer" date.


OK... please let me know if you see any great shows. Post your comments to my site and let your friends know about me.

Monday, April 9, 2007

College Money - Websites

Someone sent this to me. I'm passing it along.

Looking for ways to pay for college?
Check out these web sites for some tips and tons of information:

www.salliemae.com The nation's leading provider of student loans

www.fastweb.com Over $3 billion worth of scholarships. Detailed college profiles, jobs and internships, and tips for success

www.fasa-ed-gov or www.fasa.ed.gov lists Federal Student Aid options (I had trouble getting on this site, but try both addresses and keep trying. I think it just gets alot of traffic.)

www.finaid.org scholarships, loans, saving for college,
military aid, advice, calculators, info on testing, admissions, and jobs.

www.ed.gov Info on aid and grants from the Federal government.

Cool Free Astronomy info from Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA

Good morning all my bargain hunting friends. April 21 is National Astronomy Day. Who knew?

To honor this day, there is some really cool, free information you can get on the web.

There is a new video on the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) web site. It shows you what you can see in the night sky in April. Plus, there is tons of awesome space/sky info on the site. If you are in the Pasadena, CA area, JPL is having their Annual Open House on May 19th & 20th, 2007.

The Abrams Planetarium is making the April astronomy chart available for free. You can usually only get it by subscription. Here is your chance to check out how a star chart works. I've already printed out my copy. I'm looking forward to watching the sky this month.

So, just click on the blue highlighted words to go to these fun sites.

As always, enjoy your free stuff!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Time is money - cheap and easy way to organize your papers for taxes

Getting ready for taxes can be very stressful, especially if you are one of those people who just toss your receipts into a box or a drawer all year long. Here is a way to help.

At the beginning of each year, buy one of those big expandable file folder boxes (the ones with 12-16 sections and a handle on top) for around $10 at your local office supply store. Label each section:

Bank statements
Credit cards (I mark one file for my husband's cards and one for mine)
Medical/insurance bills
Tax materials (receipts from dropping off items to Goodwill, W2s when they arrive, articles about new tax laws that might apply to you at tax time, etc)
Telephone Bills
Utilities
Education receipts
Office Supplies

The idea is to have one place to keep the papers that you will need at tax time and do a presort on them. Then when you have to settle down and get ready to do your taxes, all the papers are in one place.

After you are done with your taxes, label the outside of the box with a big label stating the year and just store it away.

This saves HOURS of time and helps reduce the stress at tax times.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Cheap Candy

Dear Bargain Hunters.... today is the day before Easter Sunday and Easter Egg (Candy) Hunts have been going on all over your town. The grocery stores and drug stores have had shelves full of bags of candy wrapped in pretty spring colors.

Tomorrow (Sunday) they need to magically fill those shelves with other seasonal items. Egad! What will they do with all those bags of candy?

They will put them on sale at a DEEP DISCOUNT!

For a day there will be shelves of candy and Easter items at 50% and 75% off. The good stuff will be snatched up fast. The no-so-good stuff will linger but will also disappear. There will be cheap baskets, stuffed animals, "grass" and of course, candy!

In general, I have found that my local drug stores have the most seasonal items and put them on the deepest discount on the day of the actual holiday and the day after the holiday. You can ask your favorite store when they put seasonal items on sale and get there when the sale starts.

Go get 'em, bargain hunters.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Daffodil Garden in Running Springs, CA

Oh dear Bargain Hunters... sometimes we just need to find a great spot to "get some space." Nature is one of the greatest bargains on the planet.

I just found out about a wonderful Daffodil Garden in Running Springs, CA (by Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernadino Mountains) that is only open for three weeks out of the year. (late March to early April) This weekend (Sunday, April 8th) is the last day this year to view the Gardens.

Created by (Alma) Gene Bauer and her husband, Dale, starting in 1958 with 48 bulbs, this garden apparently blankets the mountain side. A visitor to the garden created a great site that can give you a taste of the gardens. (I can't believe that pictures can possibly capture the beauty and serenity that these gardens must exude.)

If you can't make the trek, then at least go to the site and check it out. (www.geocities.com/thedaffodilgarden/garden.htm) Just the concept of what this couple have done is awe inspiring... and let's face it... a little awe and a little inspiring can go a long way.

Enjoy!





Monday, April 2, 2007

Proctor and Gamble Freebies and Promotions

Proctor and Gamble... makers of Pringles, Charmin, Pampers, Tide, Durecell, Iams Pet Food, and on and on... have lots of promotions and freebies.

I just found a page on their website where they list their latest freebies and promotions. There are free samples, tips and contests. They are currently running a contest to write a new Jingle for Pringles. Winner gets a trip to the 2007 "American Idol™" Finale in Hollywood! Oh boy... you could visit me and sing me your winning jingle. I happen to know that a few of my readers are great song writers and COULD win this. (You know who you are.... so click here and start writing!)

I suggest that you don't try to find this page from their homepage... it's not the easiest to find. Just click here for the latest Proctor and Gamble Freebies and Promotions.

Enjoy!

Baskin Robbins 31 cent scoop night - Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Here's a goodie for ice cream lovers!

In honor of The Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Baskin Robbins will be selling ice cream at 31 cents per scoop... a great bargain .

Wednesday, May 2nd from 5 pm to 10 pm only!

This is a 5 hour sale.... so don't miss it. Mark your calendars now.

To find out more and to locate the nearest Baskin Robbins store near you, go to:
http://baskinrobbins.com/Promotion/31cent.aspx

To make sure you don't miss out on future bargains, subscribe to this blog .... scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up!