Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saving on gas: Part 3

Third in a series on ways to save on gas prices:

Today: A gallon of milk, a tank of gas:

Next time you head to the grocery store, look for the gas pumps. Seems like every grocery chain and megastore has them. Most of them tend to have prices a bit below the usual stand-alone station -- especially during their grand openings ;)

And to encourage your one-stop shopping, some offer money off if you buy certain products, or spend a predetermined amount. In my city, one grocery chain offers 10 cents off per gallon if :

You spend $100 in groceries in a month;
Buy $50 in gift cards;
Fill 2 prescriptions at their pharmacy.

Do I take advantage of all these offers? Honestly, no. I tend to do most of my shopping at another chain -- and I take advantage of their offers. But I still occasionally buy gas there when the price is right.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Helping pets in need

YMMV, but in some sections of the country, the Smart Source insert in the Sunday paper carried a coupon for a free can of MightyDog dog food. (There's also a $3 off 5 cans, which may make for some very inexpensive/free food, too.)

If you can't use the coupon (or don't know someone who can), please check with your local animal shelter. If it runs a pet-food pantry, it could likely use a donation of a can or two. Or a small shelter might be happy to get the coupon/s.

I stopped by my city's shelter yesterday to drop off my cans. The donation box was darn near empty ...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saving on gas: Part 2

Second in a series on ways to save on gas prices.

Today's tip: Patience

I've noticed an interesting thing: The gas station near my house is always packed on Friday afternoon. No big mystery here -- most folks get paid on Friday.

But I've noticed something else, too: Prices tend to rise on Friday, and stay high during the weekend.

I've wondered just how much money folks could save if they could shift that fill-up to, say, mid-week, when prices are usually lower again. (Notice that I say usually. Some weeks you'd be better off placing bets in Vegas.) But sometimes the bet pays off. In my town, prices were $2.81 to $2.76 on Sunday. By Wednesday, they were down to $2.72-$2.70

Admittedly, if you're traveling over the weekend, popping $5 of gas in the tank won't cut it. And I know that for some folks, if the $$$ doesn't go in the tank right then, it may not be available later.

But if you can wait a bit ... you can get a bit more bang for your buck (or 2 bucks.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saving on gas

Don't know about your town, but gas prices here are on the rise again.

There are plenty of good tips for using less gas. But there still comes a time when the gas gauge drops toward "E." Then what?
Let's face it, most of us don't have any control over prices. (And if you do, I'd love to have a word with you.) But there are ways to make things a little easier on the wallet. So for the next few posts, I'm going to offer some tips to make the fill-up a bit less painful.

Today: Comparison shop
We do it with groceries, appliances and other items. Why shouldn't we do it with gas? Unless you live in a very small town, you'll usually find some variations. Recently, the station nearest my house was selling unleaded for $2.81. But six blocks to the east, it was going for $2.76 a gallon.

This doesn't mean you have to drive all over town to check prices. Just pay attention to price trends when you're out and about. Perhaps a station near your doctor's office has cheaper gas. Or maybe that station next to the drugstore undercuts the competition. If you've got an appointment, or have to fill a prescription, why not fill up when you're in the area?

Even easier, check out This site lists gasoline prices (reported by volunteers) in just about every city in the country.
Other options: some TV and newspaper sites list prices, as do the Web sites of some gasoline companies.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

However you slice it

From the Wall Street Journal:

A shortage of tomatoes from weather-battered Florida is forcing restaurants and supermarkets to ration supplies amid soaring prices for America's most popular fresh vegetable.

Fresh tomatoes are in short supply because of the unusual spell of freezing tempertures that hugged Florida in January. The cold tempertures that dented citrus production also destroyed roughly 70% of the tomato crop in Florida.

Well, that explains those jaw-dropping prices in the produce section lately. Don't plan on fresh tomatoes for your sandwiches for a bit.

Sounds like a good excuse to used canned (which tend to be produced in California and the Midwest) .. or to eat seasonally.

Friday, March 19, 2010

False economy

The temperatures have warmed up enough to put thoughts of gardening in my head. Not that I should get too excited ... the weather service is talking about snow flurries next week. Ugh.

Anyway, my point: When we pulled out the hoses, I realized I'd been tripped up by false economy. I'd bought inexpensive hoses last year ... it's not like we fight fires with them.

Anyway, they've been nothing but a source of aggravation. They kink up, they've both sprung leaks. (Nothing like a bath while you're watering plants!) One of them leaks at the faucet, as well. Sigh.

So, out they go. I'll look for quality this time, even if it costs more.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

And may your corned beef and cabbage be purchased on sale!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cereal deal alert

YMMV, but the Wally world in my neighborhood several baskets filled with Kellogg's, Kashi and Post cereals marked down to $1.50 a box. Pair it up with some high-value coupons, and you could definitely pick up some inexpensive cereal!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A frugal goose

No, not that kind of goose ;)

We have a new addition to the casa de chaos. Lucy .. our own concrete porch goose. (BTW, that's not our Lucy in the photo ... but it is a fine example of a concrete goose. )

In case you're wondering why I've done such a thing ... well, we in the Midwest are a bit strange. We enjoy putting concrete ornaments on our porches and dressing them up. Google "concrete goose" sometime and you'll see what I mean.

Actually, I seem to be a bit behind the curve on this. It was tough to find an affordable goose. Now if I had wanted to dress up a concrete gnome or a dog, I could have had my pick.

The downside of this is that it can cost a small fortune to buy the little outfits. So in the interests of frugality, I decided to sew Lucy's wardrobe.

One problem: Goose clothing patterns are hard to find. Especially free patterns.

So I punted. I'd purchased a goose dress last year, so I crafted a pattern from that. I used an old T-shirt, and some edging and buttons from my stash to create a retro-style coat for Lucy. (and hey, it's washable!)

A hat ... well, I'm still working on that one.

In the meantime, I'm scouting for patterns that might be adapted for goose clothing. And I will buy some yellow vinyl, because a rain slicker is a must-have for every respectable goose, you know.

But in the meantime ... Lucy needs a new dress for Easter.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Price check

A few years ago, I began buying my allergy medicine through an Internet pharmacy (no, really, it was a real pharmacy that also did business through a Web site ... not one of those "enhance your whatever" places that clog my e-mail box with spam.)

Anyway, even after the meds became more widely available, I stayed with this company because they had the best prices.

Last time around, though, I realized that this was changing: prices were definitely going up. So, time for another price check.

Bingo! Seems a certain warehouse club offers its own brand: 365 pills for $16 -- about the price I was paying for a 90-day supply of generics.

Whoops! Time to change.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

February freebies

Short month, short list. Though a couple of these were really nice items:

Glad trash bag
2 Bounce sheets
1 Caress body wash
Kleenex (3 sheets)
1 frozen food bag
Uniball pen
2 Kashi cereals
1 DiGiorno pizza
car wash
iced tea