Friday, February 26, 2010

Trick #1: Coupons, Shmoopons

Wait, wait, NO! Coupons are awesome!

You should ALWAYS look for a coupon, or a good deal, or SOME WAY to make whatever you are buying, whether it be food, clothing, furniture, toys, artillery... cheaper. Seriously. It's a crime against your budget NOT to.

My friends say I have a gift for thrift. Yeah, I do. Hey, I HAVE to. Running one little family on one little income is not as easy as it looks. Being frugal is a necessity. It's non-negotiable.

I'm going to run through just FIVE of my sneaky little tricks.

1. Did you know that your local community center offers scholarships for every single class or pass they offer? Yeah. For reals. Well... at least in Portland, Oregon. The center closest to where I live is Mt. Scott Community Center. Last year, I wanted an annual pass so I could work out in the gym while Ian swam it up in the pool. I applied for a scholarship. Booya! Got it! For about $20 a month, both Ian and I had unlimited access to all of their facilities and drop-in activities. It was pretty sweet. A normal family pass costs around $495. Talk about savings!

2. FREE BIRTHDAY FOOD. It's so important, I put it in ALL CAPS. If your birthday is in, say, March, you should be able to get a free meal almost EVERY time you go out to eat during March, as long as you don't eat at the same restaurant twice (why eat there twice? How boring...). Wanna know which restaurants offer free birthday meals in your area? Here, let me google that for you...

Okay, this list might be from 2006, but you get the point. Free food, people. FREE FOOD. Most of the restaurants don't require that you come in ON your birthday either, but rather, during your birthday month. Take advantage! Celebrate you and yours being born. Get that food and eat it!

3. FREE KID FOOD. Equally important is the Kids Eat Free scenario. This is a very lucrative deal in my household. With one kid and one adult, it's basically like getting my entire meal half off. Some websites even offer search engines so you can find a place on a certain day in a certain city. It's sweet! is one of those sites. Check it out!

4. Don't buy new or full retail price for anything, whether it is online or in real life. Have you heard of Craigslist? Or FreeCycle? Or Or That's just the beginning. All the real thrifty nerds, such as myself, are no stranger to (including shirt.woot!, kids.woot!, wine.woot!, and sellout.woot!) , CD/Game Exchange, or Game Crazy.

You don't even have to go further than your google search engine to find a good deal. Do you already know what you want to buy? Simply go to Google Products search, type in whatever item you want and BAM, instant list of every online vendor that sells it. You can sort said instant list by relevance, price, and rating. It's slick and saves you time, time you could spend with your kids doing parental stuff.

Whew! Is your head spinning yet? Well, hold on to your hats, because this one is a doozy.

5. Want coupons on TOP of good deals? Check out RetailMeNot, the very first place you should go before you order anything online. This site lists coupon codes for over 50,000 stores and sorts them by success rate.

I could seriously go on forever about ALL the great deals out there and ways for you to skate along on pennies a day, but it will have to wait for another time. Besides, if I share ALL my secrets, I'll no longer have that aura of mystery that surrounds me and my friends will no longer look at my thrifty ways in awe, nor declare that my ability to scout out a deal is an "art form." So, another time.

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