Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fabulous Entertainment on the Cheap

There are lots of opportunities for a good time at less than retail – or even free – enough to cut your entertainment budget in half or more. 

I do not have a television but I do have a personal DVD player, which I use all the time. Have you rented any DVD’s lately? Even at the very low Red Box price of $1.29 – it adds up, even if you’re just watching one a day; plus good luck even finding a new DVD to watch every day. I discovered my local library four years ago, and visit twice a week. It’s rare I can’t find several things I want to watch, including movies, documentaries and PBS television series; all of this for free. I average 3 Red Box movies a month, so as I calculate it, I’m saving about $30 a month just by using my library.

Have you taken yourself to the park lately? This is an especially great thing to do if you are an artist or writer. I get the best ideas while lazing around in the grass. I pack a picnic lunch, several bottles of water, my folding lounge chair and often I take along my computer. Again, this is FREE.
If you can land a gig as a movie reviewer for your community paper or even as an online reviewer of events and local eateries, you can get passes or reimbursed for your expenses. I did movie reviews long ago and found it a blast.  If this appeals to you, just send an email and see what happens.

Most cities have a free day for the local museums every month. Check it out. You may find that there are museums in your town you didn't even know about.

Locally, I can spend an entire day beside the American River, playing, sunbathing and even swimming, for a mere $10 at the nearby state park. This is less than it would cost me to go to the movies for two hours at most offered showings.

Speaking of movies, my favorite theater offers first showings for $2 less than the regular admission rate and even Senior Mondays, when all shows all day are just $5.75 for those who are 62 or older.

So, get creative. Look around and find a way to have a fabulous day at a great savings.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fabulous Finds are Out There

The very best way to save money on fashions is to shop thrift stores, consignment shops and garage sales. This doesn’t mean you have to swear off of new clothes, shoes and accessories. What it does mean is that you can accessorize and supplement to enhance your wardrobe at a fraction of the price you would pay retail.

I found the sterling silver earrings above at a garage sale this weekend and paid the asking price of $3. No, you don’t have to be a haggler to get a great deal. These pretty little bobs will be a gift to a friend who loves silver, only because they are a bit too small for me. The retail price on these babies would be at least $20 – what a great savings!

I formerly owned a consignment shop and can attest to the great bargains customers get in these establishments. I remember Dana Buchman suits, Ann Taylor dresses, J. Jill outfits, brand new Coach and Dooney Burke purses and Via Spiga shoes that would have (and did) startle seasoned bargain hunters. The list is too long to present, but trust me; you should visit a few consignment shops to get a feel for how fabulous you can be at a ridiculously low price.

Thrift stores are also wonderful places to find treasures but it is more work, in my opinion, than either the garage sales or the consignment shops. Thrift stores have changed a bit in recent years by hiring experts in both upscale fashion and antiques. A few will still have real deals, but again, you’ll work to find them. With garage sales, the prices are generally the best and with consignment stores you may pay a little more than a thrift shop, but everything is presorted for you.

I'll cover these three sources of bargains in more detail in the future, but don't wait! Jump in now and start saving. You'll feel fabulous when you find that first big bargain. 

Remember - have fun!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let’s Talk Food

I have given up on traditional grocery stores for most items and here’s why: I found Grocery Outlet and Trader Joe’s and the spectacular deals on quality foods they carry. 

The best news is that at both stores you can find fabulous deals on great food. In the picture above, I’ve shown you the wonderful, sweet Campari tomatoes (less the 4 I’ve already eaten), which I picked up at Grocery Outlet today for $2. Rich, ripe and cheap – that’s the fabulous, in my opinion. 

I also got a wonderful sour dough round from an artisan bread company for ½ price and an 8 oz. package of Tillamook Cheddar for $1.49. This was a quick stop so I didn’t score as much as I usually do at this store. My favorite finds are gourmet cheeses like Cotswold cheddars normally $9.99 lb. for around half price and brie rounds for $1.99.  Shopping here is like a treasure hunt and you need to be prepared to enjoy your finds for the week, rather than finding everything on a list you’ve created. 

A word of caution – Grocery Outlet sometimes sells items close to or on the expiration date, so always read your dates. However, I’m a big fan of good hotdogs, like Hebrew National and Nathan’s, so a few weeks ago, when Hebrew National jumbo dogs were featured for $.67 a package (yes, that price is correct!) because it was on the expiration date, I bought four packages and stuck them in the freezer. At prices near $4 a package normally, I came away with a steal. They didn’t last long either.

While Grocery Outlet is limited to the Western US, I don’t think that will be the case for long. They have stores in California, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho and Washington, at present.  

Trader Joe’s is currently in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Many people are already aware of the great deals you can get at a TJ’s but let’s review for those of you who have never visited one. You cannot beat their prices on wine and imported beer. Again, you will find excellent cheeses from all over the world that won’t kill your budget.  They have the best local prices I’ve found for organic milk, cottage cheese, eggs and regular bread prices.  

If you really want to treat yourself, try some of their cookies and desserts. The last thing I bought there in this category was the best chocolate ice cream ever – Ultimate Chocolate. Excellent. I also highly recommend their Dunkers – frosted oatmeal and raisin bars created just for dunking in your coffee. At $4.99 for a bucket of them, you can afford to take them to the office and share. The gang will love you.

If you do nothing else fabulously for yourself, treat your body, mind and soul to some good affordable culinary treats. It will make you feel special and your piggy bank will thank you too.

I’m sure there are other specialty food retailers out there and I hope you’ll add the info to this blog in the comments section.

Are you feeling fabulous yet? No? Come back tomorrow. We’ll work on this some more.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is Fabulous?

This is a blog all about bringing fabulousness into your world for way less more money that you’re used to spending. I’ll be showing you ways to get more for less, how to make yourself and surroundings special and unique, techniques for putting and keeping more cash in your wallet and methods for maximizing what you already have.

But what is FABULOUS? Good question. Fabulous is anything that makes you happy, makes you look good, makes you smile. It can be anything from a funky pair of shoes to an elegant dinner. Maybe you really love a good cheese. I’ll help you find one you can afford. Perhaps you’re in the market for something to spark up your bedroom (no – not a new mate – sorry) or bring out your best side for that interview you have lined up.

This is going to be a site that brings you information you can use to improve your life and your bank account.  Stay tuned for lots and lots of pictures, a gazillion ideas and good clean fun.

See you around the social media hood!