Published on October 12, 2010, by

Without naming any names, a friend of mine (okay, it’s me) has been a Mitchum deodorant man for years. The stuff works, but at the expense of quite a few shirts over the years that have gone to the trash with ugly yellowish stains in the pits. It was gross.

So a couple months ago I’d finally had enough. I decided someone must have already tackled the problem, and sure enough there it was buried on the very bottom row of the deodorant aisle: Speed Stick Stainguard for men and Lady Speed Stick Stainguard for the ladies.

I’m happy to say that the stuff does work as advertised and my shirts come out of the wash stain-free. I realize it’s not glamorous, but sometimes you feel compelled to share a tip with your fellow man (and woman).

 
Published on May 11, 2009, by

Yard sales are a great way to de-clutter your life and make a little extra cash. Our sister site YardSaleSearch offers free advertising for your sale and Google maps to sales in your town. Give it a try and let us know if it helped you.

 
Published on May 5, 2009, by

Ever wonder where folks find all those secret coupon codes for online stores? There are many sites that collect them, but for sheer ease of use there’s none better than RetailMeNot.com. Always check there before any online purchase and you’ll likely save some money.

 
Published on March 23, 2009, by

Sadly, it’s tax time again. The good news is that there are deals to be had even with tax prep. Many financial institutions are offering discounted TurboTax filing (either online or as a download), and one of the better deals is via T. Rowe Price. Just follow the link from their site to get a steep discount on TurboTax’s tax prep services — and you don’t even have to be a T. Rowe Price customer. TurboTax isn’t perfect, but I’ve used it for many years and it’s one of the better ways to go it alone at tax time.

 
Published on January 24, 2009, by

You’ve probably felt the sting of overpriced cables at some time or another. Stores know that when the family is waiting at home to try out that new DVD player, you’ll likely be willing to pay through the nose for a set of Radio Shack’s $30 component video cables. And the less said about Best Buy’s $100 Monster brand HDMI cables the better.

You don’t have to fall for it, though. As usual, the Internet can save you tons of cash if you’re willing to wait a day or two (or better yet — plan ahead) when you need that all-important cable or obscure connector. For some more common cables you could do a lot worse than Amazon, which offers decent prices and free or cheap shipping. But the real deals are found at Monoprice.com, the online mecca for super-cheap, good quality cables. Unlike most brick and mortar stores, Monoprice carries even the most obscure connectors and cables in just about any length you could possibly need without stringing three smaller ones together. And while the site’s enormous selection can be a bit overwhelming, once you’ve drilled down to the cable you want and seen the price you’ll feel like you’ve won a huge victory — if only for your wallet.

 
Published on November 23, 2008, by

What? You actually pay full price for Christmas gifts and decorations at Target? Read on, then get ready to stock up in preparation for next year:

  • All holiday merchandise at Target stores gets discounted to 50% right after Christmas, then 75%, then 90%. The exact days these discounts kick in varies by store, so expect to visit multiple stores on multiple days to hit them just right.
  • Even though decorations and other obviously seasonal merchandise will be moved to a clearance area near the back of the store, the discounts apply on merchandise in every department. Toys are an obvious place to find leftovers, though they may get discounted on a separate schedule after the primary wave of holiday discounts. Also look for holiday discounts on paper goods, storage bins, food — just about everywhere. That expensive can of cashews may be 90% off just because the box is red and that dog bed may be on sale because there’s a holly leaf stitched onto it. Other items are included in clearance pricing for no apparent reason at all.
  • In the toy area look for items marked “Only At Target” that are often included in clearance sales.
  • The seasonal dollar bin items near the entrance also go on sale, though not always on the same schedule as the rest of the store. The colored dot near the bar code indicates the item’s age, more or less, so look for items with a color different from most others on the dollar shelves.
  • Pay special attention to end caps (the display at the end of an aisle) facing the less popular outside walls. Clearance merchandise often gets dropped there but overlooked by shoppers.
  • Don’t trust sale signage or shelf prices to be correct. The signs often lag behind automatic discounts.
  • These same tricks apply to other holidays, too. Look for similar discounts after Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.
  • When in doubt, carry items to a nearby price scanner and SCAN SCAN SCAN to discover hidden deals.

Good luck!

 
Published on November 21, 2008, by

People are ditching land line phone service in droves, but for those of us who still need it there are a few things you can do to reduce the monthly charges.

First, make sure you’re not overbuying service. If your local phone company is like ours (Verizon), then their default plan includes unlimited local phone calls. This is usually more than folks need, but don’t count on the phone company to mention that they probably offer cheaper metered plans that include a parcel of local minutes for a lower monthly fee. As with many things in the land of Cheap, it can’t hurt to call and ask if you can downgrade.

Also, be sure you’ve ditched any add-on services that can push up your monthly bill quite a bit. We find caller ID indispensable at nearly any price, but can do without annoying call waiting, which is only a service to those calling you. And if you’re paying the phone company for overpriced voice mail service, consider getting a modern cordless phone system with digital answering for the same features and no monthly fee.

Finally, for those long distance calls you’re not making with a cell phone, look into a cheap alternative long distance provider. Their rates are almost certainly cheaper than your local phone company’s rates for both in-state and interstate calls.

 
Published on November 10, 2008, by

Do people really pay $100 monthly cable bills? We love TV as much as most folks do, but we’ve hit on some ways to save while still feeding our TV addictions.

How do we keep the bills small? First, we don’t subscribe to cable or satellite service. Instead, we pay about $12 per month for TiVo service and $9 per month for the lowest level of Netflix service that includes Instant Viewing, which is like unlimited Pay-Per-View with thousands of movies and TV shows to choose from. Taking advantage of these services required a $250 one-time outlay for the amazing TiVo HD box and $100 for the excellent Roku Digital Video Player, but both are a great value.

Update: The TivoHD and later models now include Netflix Watch Instantly support, so you can skip the Roku box, do it all from your TiVo, and save another $100.

The TiVo works silently queuing up our favorite shows from the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, WB, UPN, PBS, etc.) in perfect HD for free over a regular antenna. For movies there’s Netflix DVDs (just one at a time to keep the monthly fee low) and the steadily growing library of movies available via Netflix Watch Instantly.

Finally, there are still some shows from cable networks that The Missus can’t do without. In that case, there’s an automated BitTorrent downloading system I’ve set up using Torrent Episode Downloader, a free Windows application which lets you subscribe to shows almost as you do with TiVo, combined with uTorrent (also free) to run the actual downloads. Once the shows are on my PC (invariably in AVI format) I transfer them to the TiVo wirelessly using an amazingly powerful free application called pyTivo. You can also use the $30 official TiVo Desktop software to do the same job as pyTivo, but it’s far slower and less capable of handling some video file formats.

There you have it. With a moderate up-front outlay and very low monthly fees you have a great library of TV and movies ready whenever you want them. Give it a try. You may find you can live without cable or satellite too.