Gift Savings With Price Matching

Many of your local big box stores are fighting back this holiday season in order to get your business. As you may know, some people have used their local stores to check out and compare items which they then purchase at a lower price online.

Stores such as Target and Best Buy will match the price offered at online stores. However, you have to ask for a price match, and you need to be able to prove it. So, don’t forget to bring your smartphone.

You may ask what’s the difference whether I buy it from Amazon or a local chain store. Remember, however, that a local store employs people from your community and pays taxes in your state. They also draw people in who may visit restaurants and shop at other local stores. Yes, you will have to pay sales tax, but that tax you pay benefits you too, since the state uses that money for education, road repair and other services.

Choosing a Toothbrush

Choosing a toothpaste is hard enough with all the options available. Picking out a toothbrush isn’t a whole lot easier. Adding to the mix of regular manual toothbrushes with soft and medium bristles, are several varieties of electric toothbrushes.

If you visit your dentist twice a year, you might receive a complementary toothbrush, which eliminates the added expense of buying your own. For most people, any ADA (American Dental Association) approved manual toothbrush works just fine. Dentists usually recommend soft bristles to avoid damage to the gums and enamel.

The most important thing about teeth brushing is not the toothbrush, but the method used. Electric toothbrushes come with instructions that suggest you divide your teeth into four sections and brush each section for 30 seconds. Reminder beeps go off to indicate when to move to the next section. This is a good rule of thumb to use when brushing with a manual toothbrush as well.

Another problem that people often have when using a manual toothbrush is brushing too vigorously, resulting in injury to the gums, and possible wearing down of the enamel. Electric toothbrushes solve that problem by doing the work for you.

In order to save money, brush your teeth with a manual toothbrush for a total of 2 minutes twice a day. Be thorough, but gentle. For tips on the proper technique, check out this ADA site:

Saving Money on Shipping Costs

Shipping packages is not that cheap, but something that everyone needs to do once in a while. In most cases, it’s not necessary to buy a box, since they are freely available almost anywhere. You can find them at grocery stores, office supply, appliance and electronic stores. As mentioned before, it doesn’t cost anything to get a one rate priority mail box from the U.S. Postal service. The advantage of these is that they ship anywhere in the country for the same price.

The disadvantage of using the one rate boxes is when you want to send something to a nearby location, such as in your state or a nearby state. To determine whether using your own box or a one rate box is less expensive, use the postage calculator on the postal service website ( If it is cheaper to send them in your own box, and your items fit in a one rate box, it is perfectly legal to turn the box inside out and use it that way as long as you send it priority mail.

Another problem most people have at some point is how to return unwanted clothing they’ve purchased online. Stores generally don’t offer free return shipping, so you want to find the least expensive way to send it back. Stores are obviously looking to save money on shipping too, so these days your merchandise often arrives in a reinforced plastic bag. Be careful when opening the bag, so that if you need to return something, you can just turn the bag inside out, and reuse it.

Save Money With Social Media

Cutting coupons out of newspapers and inserts isn’t the only way to save money. Stores and restaurants are keeping up with the times by offering deals through social media. If you are a regular user of Facebook, Twitter or other similar sites, get in the habit of looking for coupons and bargains along with interacting with your friends.

In order to get the deals, you usually have to like or follow the pages of the places from which you’d like to receive coupons or discounts. Group the stores you watch regularly into a list so that you can find them easily.

This is still a growing market. Although there may not be that many participants yet, more and more businesses will want to take advantage of this opportunity to reach customers. Be aware, however, that this is also another way for these businesses to track their users, so you will be giving up some privacy in order to save money.

Save on Printer Ink

Printer ink is expensive, especially if you buy the name brand product, and you use your printer a lot. If you are trying to save money by printing online coupons, you may find that the cost of paper and ink adds up quickly. How can you cut the cost?

Buy Generic. Unless you need to print high quality photos or important documents, you don’t need name brand ink. Off brands can be purchased for considerably less at places like eBay. Office supply stores also sell their own brand for less.

Purchase in Bulk. The more you buy at a time on eBay, the less the cost. Ink is usually guaranteed for two years, so don’t buy more than you can use up in that time.

Chip or No Chip. You will notice that some ink sold on eBay comes with a chip and some without. If you buy the one without the chip, you have to remove the chip from your old ink cartridge, and attach it to the new cartridge. If you feel comfortable doing this, you can save money by purchasing the cartridges without a chip.

Fill Your Own. Another option is to refill your own cartridges. Kits are sold in many stores which include bottles of ink and needles to use for filling. It’s a messy job, but it does save money.

Store Refills. Some stores such as Walgreens will fill your ink cartridges for you for a reasonable price.

Buy or Trade Sports’ Equipment

Sports’ programs continue to thrive, but participating in them isn’t cheap. Young children experiment with a number of activities while growing up, and most of them require some kind of equipment. Whether it’s a baseball bat, tennis racket, soccer ball or ice skates, each purchase adds up. If your son or daughter is a member of an organized team, he or she may have to buy more equipment or even uniforms.

Used equipment is often as good as new, so it makes sense to try to buy used items first, particularly if your child doesn’t stick with things very long. Yard sales, resale shops and specialty stores like Play It Again Sports are good places to start.

Hockey is popular in our city, but it is a very expensive sport, so once a year there is an equipment exchange day where people can trade their outgrown skates, pads, etc for another size. This would be beneficial for other sports too. Cleats, for instance, which are required for many sports, are often outgrown before they are outworn. If your community doesn’t have an exchange, consider starting one.

Neighbors and friends are also sources for sports’ equipment. Almost everyone has something lying around unused in their garage which could benefit someone who lacks the funds to participate in a sport.

Check out the classified ads in your local newspaper, or look online on Craigs List. You can also post a wanted ad if you don’t see what you need.

Flower Vase Savings

My husband loves to grow and give away flowers. Whenever he gives away flowers, he likes to put them in an attractive vase. That could add up to a lot of money if the person doesn’t return the vase. However, he has rarely spent more than 50¢ for a pretty vase. He acquires them at thrift shops and yard sales. They usually have an abundance of them in all shapes and sizes. One trip out often results in five or six vases at a time. The nice thing is that if the recipient doesn’t return the vase, it doesn’t matter.

Sunscreen Savings

If you are like many people, you probably are pretty confused when choosing a sunscreen. It used to be that you only had a couple of options. But now the shelves are filled with numerous varieties and SPF levels. However, it’s not necessary to spend a great deal of money to get good protection. Here’s a few things to look for.

  • UVA and UVB – Make sure that the one you choose blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or above.
  • Don’t waste your money on products that offer an SPF of more than 50. The increase in protection is minimal compared to the increase in cost.
  • Water Resistant – Be aware that this only means that it will protect you for 30 to 40 minutes in the water. Once you get out, you still need to reapply. If the label says waterproof, it may protect you a little longer, but it still wears off in the water.
  • Store brands are fine as long as they have the above protections. The most important thing is that you use it.
  • According to the FDA, sunscreens should be good for up to 3 years. After that, throw it out and buy new. Check for an expiration date when you purchase it.

Hold Off on the Weed Killer

When your lawn has suffered the effects of a long drought, the weeds are often the only thing that seem to look healthy. It’s tempting to treat them with weed killer. However, this is a bad time to do it, and a waste of money. Since your lawn is so stressed, the weed killer will cause it more harm. In addition, even though you may not think so, the weeds are suffering too, and the weed killer won’t work as well on them. Therefore, you could end up further damaging your lawn, and rejuvenating it will take even more time and money.

The weather will eventually cool off and there will probably be more rain. That is the time to attack the weeds. And, look at it this way. At least the weeds are green, and they cover up the bare spots.

P&G Visa Card Promotion

One advantage of checking out the grocery ads carefully is that you find out about special promotions that can save you money. The Proctor and Gamble company is currently offering a $10 Visa Prepaid Card for buying $40 or more in P&G products. In our area, the Meijer stores are advertising this special, which is good through August 4, 2012, but there are many other retailers throughout the country offering the same deal.

Admittedly, these are name brand products, which generally cost more than the generic or store brand. However, if you add in P&G coupons which are readily available, the total cost is further reduced.

Look around your home, and you may be surprised to see how many P&G products you use. The list includes detergents, facial tissues, paper towel, fabric softener, toilet paper, shampoo, batteries and more. Now is a good time to stock up, but it expires soon.