Budget Stretching Secrets from a Frugalista Mom

Family and Kids

I have often been called Thrifty, Frugal and now the best term yet Frugalista!  I don’t mind these terms, in fact it is almost a little like a badge of honor.  I think it is in my blood (German I am!) to be a smart shopper, always looking for the deal.  It definitely came to surface during my years as a single mom – stretching those pennies as far as they could go and then some.
When I knew I needed to find a way to bring in some extra money I started a little used book business in my hall closet. I would buy used books at thrift stores and then resell them on half.com and eBay.  I actually made some money doing this and was able to do some extra things with my kids, like go on vacation.  But that is an entirely different blog post!
I wanted to share with you some of the things I do still today to stretch our family budget and even get things for FREE.  I have a lot and don’t have room to share them all, so I may have to do another post on this at a later date.
Got Swagbucks?
Swagbucks is a search engine that pays you to use their site. You register with Swagbucks and then search the Internet as you normally would; like you would Google.  Ever so often when you search you will be rewarded by winning some Swagbucks!  You’ll earn a different number of Swagbucks each time you win. Those randomly-awarded Swagbucks pile up in your account and you can redeem them for different items.
I personally save my Swagbucks and redeem them for Amazon gift cards. There are other prizes available too; including iTunes gift cards, Target gift cards, Disney Store gift cards, movie swag, posters, and all sorts of other things! They regularly add merchandise, so you never know what you’ll find in the Swag Store.
Fridays are Mega Swagbucks Days! You’ll earn bigger search awards, so plan to do a lot of your searching on Fridays!  This is a great way to get stuff you would normally purchase for FREE.
Are you a Grouponer?
I recently discovered this site, Groupon.com – a deal of the day site which features local businesses.  Each day, Groupon features an unbeatable deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in your city.   The deals are incredible.  I purchased a $25 gift certificate to a restaurant I had wanted to try for only $10.  You can register for FREE and then you are sent an email each morning with the deal of the day.  You can either purchase it or not – plus you can search other cities to see what their deals are. I did that over the weekend and got a custom 16” X 20” gallery wrapped canvas photo print that was regularly $126 for only $45 and that included shipping!  Can you say awesome gift idea?
Head on over and register for FREE and see what comes your way – you might be surprised!
Shop online?
I do 80% of my shopping online, even some grocery shopping!  I have a store in my area which often offers FREE delivery when you spend a certain amount, so I take advantage of that and stock up on regularly used items.  What mom likes to spend 2 hours grocery shopping?  I would rather be doing something else and have Mr. Delivery Man come to my door carrying my groceries or Mr. UPS Man dropping a box off from Amazon (they deliver food items too!)  I get some great deals on cereal, energy bars, and so much more a tAmazon.  When you combine some of their sale items with their subscribe & save discounts, you can’t beat it!  You save time and money; both are sacred for busy moms!  A special secret:  you can buy anything with the subscribe and save rate, even if you plan to only buy it once – you just go in and cancel future deliveries!
Another site I have used to save time & money is Alice.com, an online store that carrys household items, pet food, laundry detergent and so much more.  I check out their site often for sales, they even offer coupons – plus you can get $10 credit in your account when you spend $50.  They have an entire set up to make shopping easier for you and will remind you when you need to order more of an item you have previously purchased, like toilet paper!  Just think, you will never run out of toilet paper again!!
I do almost all of my clothes shopping for my family online.  Whenever I am about to order online from ANY company, I check the website Ebates to see if the site I am ordering from is listed.  Ebates is a shopping site that gives you up to 26% Cash Back every time you shop online, plus when you make your first purchase on any store listed on Ebates you get a $5 bonus.  Each quarter you will receive a check in the mail with the amount you have accumulated in your normal shopping you do online.  There are over 1000 stores including eBay, JCPenny, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Overstock.com and a ton more!  They even offer special discounts and free shipping offers exclusive to this site.  I have earned $134 in the 9 months since I started using Ebates.  This is all on items I normally would have bought, not extra things!  That is they key.
So here you have it, the confessions of a Frugalista.  I love to help others save time and money so am happy to share some of my secrets.  We are all in need of stretching our family budgets and it isn’t as hard or as painful as eating Top Raman for weeks in order to afford a dinner out.

(photo source)