Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Redecorating the Bedroom for $50 or Less!

My dog sleeps on my bed. I know some of you out there are probably rolling your eyes or wondering how I do it. My husband and I were tricked by our dog when she was a puppy, thinking she was so cute and she'd grow out of it. Well, 50 pounds and 3 years later, she still sleeps with us. It is really cute when you wake up and she's sleeping next to you, or when her kisses become your alarm clock on weekends. But she definitely wreaks havoc on our comforter. Black dog + white comforter = bad news. We were in the market for a new comforter but definitely didn't have a couple hundred dollars to spend.

Enter Target. As I was walking up and down the aisles for a garment bag, lo and behold, I found their bedding section. They had solid duvets on sale for $20 all sizes! I picked up a King chocolate brown and a new pillow - voila! A whole new look for my bedroom for under $50! The sale on the duvets ends on Saturday, so if you're in the market for a new comforter, hurry!

My new bed/pillow - cute, right?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Frugal Femme and BudgetBabe Do the Farmers Market

This Sunday, Frugal Femme and I got together for some quality hangout time in the waning sunshine of late September to cruise one of Seattle's many neighborhood farmers markets. We had so much fun coming up with our weekly menus and ogling the fresh produce, I figured it could inspire some of you out there who have yet to visit a farmers market some motivation! Here are some tips to be prepared, save money and have fun when you do decide to go:

1) Bring CASH - I don't think I saw a single vendor who accepted credit/debit as a form of payment. Cash also keeps you honest. I only load my wallet with what I want to spend on produce for the week because the pastries, fresh flowers, goat cheese, strawberry lavender lemonades, etc., is all too tempting. If I have leftover cash, I might treat myself to a beautiful bouquet, but if I'm out of money, I can't and it keeps me from overspending.

2) Bring your reusable bags/coolers - you'll definitely need something to carry all your goodies in, and don't miss out on otherwise great opportunities to support local dairy farms/fisheries/meat producers because you forgot a container to keep them cool. Then, you'll also have an excuse to stay in the market longer!

3) Do a once-around the market before you purchase anything. So many vendors have different kinds of apples, potatoes, onions, and more, and they definitely charge different prices. Frugal Femme got some purple potatoes at one stand for $2.50 when another vendor was charging $4. Plus, it's fun to see what everyone's got. It's quite the sensory experience!

4) For the best selection, go early - you'll get first choice on everything there and it'd probably be easier to park and manuever your way around the market. But...

5) For the best deals, go late - a lot of times, vendors won't want to take their merchandise back with them so they'll be more likely to slash prices. Keep in mind that vendors may be out of a lot of things if you have particular items in mind.

6) Ask questions - you're most likely speaking to experts here. Ask them if you're unfamiliar with any of the produce, ask how to tell if something's ripe, ask how they like to prepare certain produce, ask what's coming in the next few weeks...the farmers are a wealth of information. It's a lot of fun learning about what flowers won't make your husband sneeze or that Jonagold apples aren't actually in season for a few more weeks...

7) Go with a plan but have some wiggle room - I've gone to farmers markets with and without lists. Without a list, I bring home fresh bread, goat cheese with herbes des provence, and flowers. With a list, I actually get things I can use for meals. But be flexible. Instead of the asparagus you needed, you might find some beautiful zucchini that would make for a great side dish.

Anyone frequent their local farmers market and willing to share some tips? Has anyone not been that's now planning to go?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Deals

I know, I know - it's been forever. Frugal Femme and I have been busy little bees so here's a Friday Deal that's been a long time coming!

*Buy 1 16 oz. Jamba Juice, get the second one for $1! Here's the coupon.

*FREE 14-day pass at 24-Hour Fitness. The Biggest Loser started again, but it makes me want to bake instead of work out...anyone else get that?

*15% off and FREE shipping on orders over $75 at Old Navy (ends 10/8).

*Victoria's Secret is having all kinds of sales - 25% off one clothing item or shoes, 7 pairs of underwear for $24.50 (code VSPANTY7) and this deal at PINK if you join their PINK Nation.

*FREE Museum Admission Day! Tomorrow (September 26th) is Museum Day sponsored by the Smithsonian Magazine. There are hundreds of museums across the country that will be free! Just go to this website and print the coupon! I will be watching my Oregon Ducks take on the Cal Bears, but please enjoy for me!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Free Lunch in Downtown Seattle

Hey Seattle peeps! Free lunch at Sazerac on 4th and Spring (in Hotel Monaco) from 11:30-1:30 today AND tomorrow (while supplies last). Get a pulled pork sandwich fresh from the grill, a bag of Tim's Potato Chips and a Dry Soda. YUM! Thanks to Joseph and Mari for your detective work!

Picture courtesy of Seattle Times

For other details:


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09-09-09 Deal at Restaurant.Com!

Hey everyone!

Thanks to my friend Melisa for pointing this deal out - to celebrate the lucky day of 09-09-09, restaurant.com is selling gift certificates for 90% off! Get a $25 gift card for $1! I haven't done it myself yet, but I believe you have to spend $35. Use the code NINETY when you purchase.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saving Money on Health Care

An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Oh, if it were only so simple...

Okay, so this is not going to be one of those blog posts about the current health care debate in our nation's capital (I'm so not going there), but it is about taking stock in how you currently take care of yourself and if it's benefitting your health and your overall bottom line. As I sat in my open enrollment meeting at work today, I got to thinking about how I could do an even better job of using my money most effectively to take care of myself. I consider myself very lucky to have health insurance, and most of my advice and thoughts come from a place of having health insurance. But I hope this gets everyone thinking about how they can put their health first without it costing them an arm and a leg.

#1 - Re-evaluate your pharmacy. This may not be for everyone depending on access to pharmacies, but I just always assumed that prescriptions were about the same at all pharmacies. They aren't! My health insurance company has their own pharmacies and if you refill there (in person or online), you get your prescriptions for 30% less. If you make frequent trips to the pharmacy, that could be a huge savings. Plus, if you order online, they'll ship to you for free!

#2 - Sign up for a medical flexible spending account. I am definitely a big believer in these pre-tax accounts. Basically, you take money directly from your paycheck (so you don't pay taxes on it) and spend it on medically related items. Well, what if you're lucky enough to not spend much on medicine? You can use it on co-pays, First Aid kits, and even sunscreen (of a certain SPF, of course). Apparently, baby oil does not count as a medically related item. I even found out certain vitamins or supplements can count if they can cure an ailment (example, if you're anemic and need to take iron supplements, etc). Of course, you'd have to check the specific company's definition (it varies from carrier to carrier, I'm sure), but overall, it's been a huge savings for me and it's nice to know that I've put money away for planned medical expenses. It has even helped offset the cost of unplanned medical expenses. The only bummer is it's a use-it-or-lose-it account: whatever you haven't spent at the end of your plan year goes away. Trust me - I have yet to have a year when I've had trouble finding a way to spend it.

#3 - Utilize urgent care facilites. Again, this may not work for everyone, but if there are urgent care facilities in your area, visiting them is almost always MUCH cheaper than the emergency room. I really don't think about urgent care at all - if I'm in a health emergency, I always think emergency room. But what happens? You usually wait for hours and you pay through the roof when you get your bill. An urgent care facility is well equipped to handle emergencies and in most cases, will get you out quicker. The extra bonus? You don't pay as much! Put the closest urgent care facility address and phone number on your refrigerator - hopefully, you won't have an emergency, but it will help to know where you can get reliable, quick and cost-effective care.

#4 - Get to know your benefit package REALLY well. I wear contacts and glasses, so I just assume that I need to have vision coverage, too. Well, not really. My health insurance covers a yearly vision exam. I have the flex account to cover expenses of my contacts. So I only need my vision insurance to cover the cost of frames that I get every couple of years. This year, I'm planning to forgo the vision insurance since I have contacts and frames to last at least another year, saving me $9/month. Hey, it's not a ton, but why pay for something twice? Talk to your plan administrator to see if you're duplicating some expense or ask for help to strategize. They want to keep costs down, too.

I wish everyone good health, and I hope some of these tips come in handy for you! Anyone else have ideas on how to minimize health care costs?

$5 Dinners

Hi All,

Wanted to share this great blog with you that features dinners for $5 or less. And the best part, they look delicious!

Share your favorite cheap meal in the comments section.