Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We Have Moved!

Mrs. T and I have decided to pack our bags and move over to WordPress. Our new blog address is http://thriftysuburbanites.wordpress.com/

Stop by and check out our new digs. We would really appreciate it.

Mr. T

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to Save on Heating Costs

Although this is coming a little too late, I am hoping that you'll remember these tips for next year. We all know that the cost to heat your home is getting more and more expensive. The good news is that there are some simple remedies to help you save some money during those cold months.

1. One of the first things I would recommend is investing in a programmable thermostat. This allows you to program times where the temperature of your house will automatically go up or down. They are easy to set up and cost anywhere between $40 to $100. By programming your thermostat to reduce temperature when you are at work or in bed, you can save on your heating budget. (Be careful with any daylights savings time changes, though...we just realized we're always really cold in the morning because our thermostat didn't automatically adjust after Daylights Savings Time!)

2. Another easy fix is to check for leaks in windows or doors. One good way to do this is to take a lit candle or lighter and hold it next to the window. If the flame flickers or goes out, it's likely you have a leak. This can be fixed with weatherstripping or caulk.

3. Keep your furnace in working condition. Make sure you check the filter and change it when needed. Filters are cheap and keep your furnace running efficiently.

4. One of our favorites: Do your laundry in cold water rather than hot water (when possible).

Follow these tips, along with others you've picked up, and you'll see your gas bill fall next winter.

Please add tips in the comments section. I'm always interested to hear how others are saving.

Mr. Thrifty

Sorry for any confusion!

Hi folks! There was a temporary glitch affecting our site - our apologies! It looks like a lot of folks tried to access through LipglossBreak, so sorry for any disappointments. Thanks for bearing with us, we're glad to be back up and running!

Monday, March 23, 2009

You're Shopping Where?

I have a confession. I've recently turned into a grocery store snob. Now that I have a house, and don't shop for just myself, I'm starting to understand the importance of a well stocked pantry. But I DETEST grocery shopping at most major grocery stores.

Enter my new love, Busch's. Or, even more scandalous....Westborne. Both are higher end grocery stores, with Bush's being a more traditional grocery store, and Westborne is more of a meat and produce market. Both are clean, well stocked, and are actually enjoyable to shop at. Until you reach checkout.

I've been trying to tell myself that the extra money is worth it because I am more willing to go to actually go and shop for fresh groceries, rather than putting off the trip and having to grab fast food or go to a restaurant. But, how much am I really costing myself in the end?

I'm obviously not the only person to analyze my grocery spending habits, and found one woman's 'study' enlightening. She found wrote a list of the top 20-30 items she purchased most often, then comparison shopped any nearby grocery stores she was willing to to tolerate. She discovered that one store was notably less expensive than the rest, and that since she could save $10/visit, she was saving herself about $520 a year!

I plan to do a similar test soon, and see if I think the savings is worth making the switch. While I hate long lines and crowded meat counters, I'm wondering if $500 or more may be enough to make me change my mind!

Mrs. Thrifty

Cheap Books!

As much as I want to be green, and save some cash, I am a horrible library patron. I don't return books on time, and I hate taking them on vacation out of fear they'll return home damaged, or worse, that I'll forget them at my destination! There are somethings you just want to have to keep, and books fall under that category for me.

So, out of necessity, I buy books, but I hate paying for something that most likely will only be read once.

Enter CheapestBookPrice.com, a comparison shopping site for, what else...books!

You can enter a title, author, or ISBN number, and the site will return several results from major websites like Amazon, Half, and TextBookX. I did several searches, and it seemed that the best prices were always on the Amazon Marketplace. My favorite option on the sites is that you can either go directly to their coupon section and get coupon codes for retailers!

Mrs. Thrifty

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My interest rate is what?

Credit cards are great, right? They're convenient. Every store accepts them. Some cards even offer rewards, like free airplane tickets or cash back when you use them. If you have a solid credit score, you might even have a low interest rate. However, credit cards can be dangerous, especially if you have a late payment.

The Universal Default is a clause written in most credit card contracts that states if you are late on ANY payment to ANY creditor, you are subject to the default rate, which could be as high as 28%. Basically, that means if you are late on your car payment, you get the default rate. You might be saying, “What does my car payment have to do with my credit card payment? The correct answer should be nothing. But the credit card companies feel that if you are late on one payment, you are more likely to be late on another, and thus, a risky customer. And we all know what risky customers get - a higher interest rate.

Once you get the default rate, it’s tough to talk the credit card company back down to a lower rate. So, the goal should be to avoid being late. We’ve all been late or close to late on a bill at some point in our life. The phone bill got lost in the pile, or I forgot the due date was last week. Below you’ll find some tips to keep you on-time and out of the default interest rate.

Some tips to avoid being late:

  • Set up automatic payments from your checking account for all your bills – This is the best way to be sure all of your payments will be on time. Even if you never use your credit card, set it up to deduct the minimum monthly payment (if there is one) out of your checking account just in case. Paying the minimum isn’t going to put in a dent in the balance, but it will help you avoid being late.
  • Set up online billing for all your accounts – Online billing is fantastic. You don’t get paper bills that you have to shred. You can see your account balance at any time. And you can usually make payments at any time. This is faster than mailing a payment and you can be sure your payment gets to the company on time.
  • If you get paper bills, pay them when they come – Don’t wait until two days before the due date to mail the check to the cable company. Pay the bill when it arrives. I’m guilty of this and I agree it’s a tough habit to adopt, but one that could save you money by never being late.
  • Call your credit card companies and request a different due date – Most credit card companies will let you change your due date if you call. Some will even let you request a different due date online.
  • Keep an Excel Sheet of all your bills and mark them off as you pay them – This one is easy. All you have to do is start and Excel Document and make a list of all the bills you pay each month, along with the due date (amounts aren’t necessary). When you pay the bill, place a check mark next to that company.

The default rate is no joke. It won’t always raise your minimum monthly payment, but it will affect the balance you pay over the life of the loan. If you have a $1,000 balance on your credit card with an 8% interest rate, your minimum monthly payment is probably around $25. If you pay that every month, it will take you 97 months and $285 in interest to pay off that $1,000. If that same card goes to a 28% interest rate, it will take you 667 months and $9,173 in interest to pay off that same $1,000. Don't fall into this pattern - you'll end up paying way more than you should in the long run!

Mr. Thrifty

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eatin' Good In The Neighborhood....

If you eat at chain restaurants from time to time, you'll love Applebee's current promotion: dinner for two for under $20.

Provided that you and your date can agree on a shared appetizer, you can definitely enjoy a cheap night out and go home full! My favorite option is clearly the Spinach and Artichoke dip, though Mr. Thrifty is more of a Buffalo Wings guy. Even if one of you has to make a compromise, you'll both get to enjoy a full size entree of your choice. With options like a 7 oz Sirloin, Fiesta Lime Chicken, Crispy Shrimp, and Oriental Chicken Salad (which is hands down, my favorite salad on the planet), Applebee's is offering you some of it's best entrees.

Of course, you'll have to factor in drinks and a tip, but when all is said and done, a sit down meal for you and a friend will easily cost less than $30!

Mrs. Thrifty