DEAL ALERT: 70% off at Restaurant.com through 12/31

Save 70% at Restaurant.com through 12/31, and get a free $15 deLaFlowers gift certificate with every order. Just browse the site, add gift certificates to your cart, then enter the discount code COUNTDOWN, and hit the "Recalculate Total" button. VIOLA! 70% gets lopped off your total.

Take advantage of this now, because the discount code expires on Monday, December 31 (New Year's Eve).




Ok . . . I have a new addiction. I love books, anyway, but PaperBackSwap.com has me even more addicted to them.

Like many of you, I often find myself with extra books around the house that I will never read. Some of them I'm not even interested in, and can't figure out how I ended up with them. Well, as they say, "One man's junk is another man's treasure," and odds are that someone out there is really interested in that book I was never interested in.

PaperBackSwap.com is a COMPLETELY FREE way to unload those books you're trying to get rid of, and find the ones you've been dying to read. All you have to pay is the postage to send your books to the person who requests them. In exchange, other people pay the postage to send you the books you request. Follow? In the end, the cost balances out, and you end up with the books you REALLY want, instead of the ones you don't.

When I signed up, I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I love it! I'm sold! You might have to wait a while for someone to post a book you're looking for, so that's the only down side. However, if you can curb you're impulse to buy it now, patience will pay off and you'll get that book you want. If you sign up, be sure to add me as a buddy (pala9801), so we can share books!

AND . . . don't forget to list me as the person who referred you!


DEAL ALERT: 70% off at Restaurant.com

Restaurant.com is offering 70% off all their dining certificates, right now. This is a great opportunity for you to save on eating out this holiday. Just browse the site, add gift certificates to your cart, then enter the discount code GIFTS, and hit the "Recalculate Total" button. VIOLA! 70% gets lopped off your total.

Take advantage of this now, because the discount code expires on Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas).




I will not be blogging for a few days, due to the holidays and limited access to the Internet, but I wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. May you find joy and peace this holiday season, and enjoy time with family and friends. Let's also remember those whose Christmases will be less merry than ours, and do something to help someone out this season. That's something we can ALL afford to do.


And now, just for fun . . .

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Add to My Profile | More Videos


DEAL ALERT: 60% Off Plus A Free $20 Gift Certificate at Restaurant.com

Get 60% off, plus a free $20 gift certificate at Restaurant.com!

Just enter discount code HOLIDAY at checkout and hit "Recalculate Total"!



Bargain Shopping Tenet #1: PATIENCE

For those of you who consider yourselves "bargain shoppers" or "treasure hunters", this first rule for bargain shopping is a no brainer. To be a successful bargain shopper, you must have patience.

The deal you are looking for will always come around—you just may have to wait for it.

This requires discipline and a willingness to not follow every impulse you may have. You may see the item you're looking for at a price you didn't want to pay, but because you want that item so badly you may be tempted to compromise your budget in order to get it. Don't listen to that small little voice that says, "Yes! Buy it now!" Resist the urge, and your self-discipline will eventually pay off.

Remember, this one little tip could save you LOTS of cash in the long run.

There's a reason they say, "Patience is a virtue," and that applies to bargain shopping too! That "it" you're trying to find will eventually go on sale, get marked down, get dropped off at your local thrift store, or auctioned off on E-bay.

Have patience, and it will come your way.

DEAL ALERT: 50% off at Restaurant.com, PLUS a FREE dining gift certificate!

Right now, Restaurant.com is offering a 50% off coupon, plus when you order you'll get a FREE $20 gift certificate.

To get this deal, click HERE and enter coupon code: STOCKING. After that, hit the "recalculate total" button, and you'll see your discount.

Hurry—this offer ends TODAY!

DEAL ALERT: 20% OFF and FREE SHIPPING at Sierra Trading Post (just in time for the holidays)!

Save an extra 20% off your Sierra Trading Post purchase, along with FREE SHIPPING for orders of $75 or more! This is part of their Christmas promotions, so act now! Use the link below, and the discounts will automatically be added to your shopping cart.

Sierra Trading Post


DEAL ALERT: Save 15% from Snapfish

Need to get those pictures developed before the holidays? Act now to save 15% off your film order at Snapfish.com. Just use coupon code LASTCHANCE07 at checkout, and they will take the 15% right off your order. This coupon is valid between now and December 17.


Your Comments Are Welcome

Hi, everyone!

I wanted to take a second and let you know that comments are welcome on this site. Please feel free to share your opinions, ideas, and your stories of great bargain shopping, so that we can all benefit from your experience.

I'm looking to save money, just like you are, so please feel free to share.

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season!

Holiday Shopping Deals Online and In line


Timing Is Key When Seeking Bargains

Hobby Lobby—this week's specials

Since so many of you are so talented and crafty, I wanted to make sure you were aware of Hobby Lobby's specials for the week—especially with Christmas coming up.

Click here for a link to all this week's specials.

There is also a coupon for 40% off any regularly priced item. Be sure to take that with you, if you're planning a visit!


Bargain Log
Shopping Date: 11/30

Friday night, we visited the new Salvation Army Thrift Store just up the road. It's a nice store, and they have lots of stuff right now, since they just opened. I've been looking for a new/used comforter set for my in-law's new vacation place. We're in charge of decorating the room we use when we stay there, so I've been looking for ways to do that on a budget so it won't cost them a ton of money.

As I was perusing the store, I came across what looked like a really pretty comforter. As I approached it, I was hoping, "Please let it be a queen, and please let it be a good price!" It was indeed a queen, and it was marked at $35.99. The best part was . . . it was a Waverly brand, and it came with the pillow shams. And yes . . . it was REALLY pretty and in brand new condition. It had great loft and was the exact color scheme I was hoping to find. I excitedly added it to my cart, and thought, "Sweet!"

But, when I got to the counter to check out, the cashier asked what price it was marked at. I told her $35.99. To which she replied, "Oh, that should be $25.99!" To which I said, "Well, it's marked $35.99, but if you want to give it to us for $25.99, I won't stop you." So, she gave us $10 off!! Who knew you could ask for an even steeper discount at Salvation Army?!

Beautiful Waverly comforter & shams . . . $35.99
Cashier's discount . . . . $10.00
The thrill of finding an awesome comforter set for $25.99 for my in-laws on a budget . . . priceless!

And that's my latest greatest deal!


DEAL ALERT: 20% off your order AND FREE SHIPPING at Sierra Trading Post

Get 20% off your total order of $150 or more . . . AND FREE SHIPPING, at SierraTradingPost.com!

Click here to get this deal. (expires Dec. 2)

DEAL ALERT: 60% off your total from Restaurant.com

Get 60% off your total from Restaurant.com!!

That means that
$25 Restaurant Gift Certificates are only $4! And the same deal applies to Gift Center purchases, too.

Just enter discount code THANKS at checkout and hit "Recalculate Total" to take advantage of this offer.

Hurry—the offer expires Friday, November 30, 2007!


Fluorescent vs. Incandescent:
How to save energy costs by making a simple switch

Taken from "Your Weekly Savings Tip"
by Benjamin Bankes

Switching at least one incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent can cut around $30 off of your annual electricity bill. Think about how many light bulbs you use in your household and see those savings multiply if you switch over all of your bulbs.

Fluorescent bulbs may cost slightly more, but they
provide the same amount of light as their incandescent counterparts, use two-thirds less energy and can last up to 10 times longer.

To get more ideas and money-saving tips, visit www.FeedthePig.org and subscribe to "Your Weekly Savings Tip".


You may have noticed a number of advertisements on Bargain Shopper's Paradise--that's great if you have!

I have enlisted the help of companies like Wal-Mart, Sierra Trading Post, Entertainment, Half.com, and others, to help bring the deals directly to you. These companies have been a source of much of my bargain shopping, and I've saved tons of money by patronizing them. Some of the deals I've talked about come straight from these advertisers.

And believe me . . . I'm not letting just anyone advertise. I've chosen to link up with companies that I have personal bargain shopping experience with. So, take advantage of the links they've provided, and have fun saving TONS of money!!

Swap Paperbacks for FREE!

Don't you just love the word "free"? Getting something for nothing is one of those simple pleasures in life that never gets old. :o)

I just came across a new website, that I think you'll enjoy! Frugalreader.com is a place where you can basically recycle your used paperbacks and get the ones you've been dying to read. It's also a place where you can discuss the books you're reading and interact with authors.

You just pay the cost of shipping the book via media mail, and other people reciprocate that when they send you books. So the cost balances out in the end.

Here's what their website says:

Get the books you want, when you want them, for as long as you want them. Three simple steps:
  1. List books that you own for other members to request.
  2. Request books from other members.
  3. Mail requested books to other members and they do the same for you.
Our members enjoy reading, sharing and relating with one another. Join us as we share these passions while saving time and money. Check out our huge selection of great books and then find out why it's more fun to trade with FrugalReaders!
Another great deal!


DEAL ALERT: 20% off your photo order at Snapfish.com

Get 20% off your photo order at Snapfish.com, now through November 20. Use coupon code GIFT20 when you check out!

I just recently used Snapfish for our last photo processing order, and fell in love with it. I paid so much less than I would have through any local processing center--and the prints turned out AWESOME! You can pretty much bet, I'll be placing an order in the next couple of days using the 20% off deal.



I'm into photography, these days, and my dream camera is like $4000. Well, that's just not going to happen for many, many years. Plus, do you think I would really pay $4000 for a camera, when I could probably get it WAY cheaper by just using my deal-finding skills? Ha!

Anyway . . . so, I've had my eyes open for a camera that would be a step up from the one I've been using (Fujifilm FinePix 3800). I've been wanting the Fujifilm FinePix S5100 or S5500—10x optical zoom, 4 mega pixels. It's definitely not what I want ultimately, but it's a step in the right direction, and it's affordable (if I save my quarters). So, I've had my bargain shopping nose to the ground in search of a good deal on a used one.

Well, craigslist.org came through again!! I wasn't even searching for a camera at that particular time, but I stumbled across a listing for the very camera I had been searching for: a gently used Fujifilm FinePix S5100!! They were even selling it with a 512 MB picture card, USB cable, software, and case. I was in heaven! The price . . . $100! Typically, even the used ones go for over $200—and brand new, they go for over $300!! That was a HUGE savings! I jumped on it, e-mailed the seller, and BAM—there I was at his house two nights later, forking over the aforesaid $100, and walking away with the almost brand new digital camera I had been looking for. All it took was some patience and consistency.

And that's my latest, greatest deal!

DEAL ALERT: $5 off shipment of $50 or more at Disneyshopping.com or 20% off sitewide!

Save money at the Disneyshopping.com's online store by using these promotional codes and links:

  • Save $5 off your order of $50 or more by using promo code SHIPFOR5. (expires 11/25)
  • Take 20% off sitewide by using promo code DISNEY20. (expires 11/18)


DEAL ALERT: 5$ OFF & Free Shipping on 2008 Entertainment Books

I just got this via e-mail and wanted to pass it along right away. The 2008 Entertainment books are now $5 off, and you don't have to pay for shipping. Our local book ended up being $20, and it pays for itself in our car wash savings alone—not to mention eating out, oil changes, movies, etc.!

Click here to get the deal!


Now That's a Good Deal

Top 20 Deals in Search

By Mike Krumboltz
Tue, November 13, 2007, 3:29 am PST

Everyone loves a good deal, and it's not just because you save money. It's the proof that you're no fool. You're smart. You're savvy. You're cheap, but in a good way.

You're also not alone. With the holidays approaching, searches on "deals" are beginning to climb. We donned our best bargaining hat and took a look at the top 20 "deal" searches from the past seven days. Enjoy, and remember—sticker price is for chumps. . . .

Read the rest of the article for links to the "top 20 deal searches".

SOURCE: Yahoo! Buzz


DEAL ALERT: Spirit Airlines 2007 Clearance Sale--just in time for holiday travel!

Spirit Airlines is having their 2007 Clearance Sale,
with airfare from $1 each way!!

They are clearing out all of their fares from 2007 to make way for the 2008 fares. Hurry, though, because the sale ends Monday night (11/12/07) at 11:59 PM (Eastern).

Here are the stipulations, according to the e-mail I just received:
$1, $2, $3, $5, $8, $13, $21, and some $34 and $55 fares must be booked on spiritair.com between 3:00 PM ET on November 9, 2007 and 11:59 PM ET on November 10, 2007 for travel on the dates as specified by individual market and by market direction. All other fares must be booked on spiritair.com between 3:00 PM ET on November 9, 2007 and 11:59 PM ET on November 12, 2007 for travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between November 27, 2007 and February 13, 2008. Please see the terms and conditions for complete restrictions and details.

So if you haven't booked your holiday travel, do it now!! The sale ends really soon!

Find coupons online for just about anything you need!

I was just made aware (thanks -C) of a great website for coupons that has coupons for just about ANYTHING you're planning to buy.

In fact, -C talks about it way better than I could, because she's had experience with it. Visit her post on "My Cup of Tea" to learn more about how you can benefit from searching Wow-Coupons.com before you make an online purchase.

Great find, -C! I can't wait to use this site!



I wanted to find a way to share some of the great deals I get, and hopefully inspire you to find your own great deals and share them. So, I'm beginning what I'm calling, "My latest, greatest deal" posts. Whenever you see a post with that title, you'll know that I'm sharing, well . . . my latest, greatest deal. Feel free to comment and share yours as well!


We have a pet cockatiel. She's very sweet, and we've been wanting to get her a larger cage for a long time. She's not a huge bird, but she needed a bigger space than what we were able to afford when we got her. Enter craigslist.org . . . one of my favorite websites. I will usually search our local edition at least once a day, just to see what's out there for sale or free. Well, Wednesday I saw the posting I had been waiting to see! Someone was selling a large cockatiel cage for $10!! Now, if you know your pet supplies, you should know that a small to medium sized bird cage goes for no less than about $30, brand new. The cage I found on craiglist was in great condition and twice the size of our ~$30 cage we had gotten brand new. I jumped on it and e-mailed the seller right away. Fortunately, it was still available, and that evening our cute little bird had a new home!

Cockatiel . . . $40
New, bigger birdcage . . . $10
Watching our cockatiel be able to spread her wings in her new cage, and hearing her tweet with delight . . . priceless.

DEAL ALERT: 50% off Restaurant.com Gift Certificates

Visit www.restaurant.com right now, and start adding gift certificates to your cart! Before you check out, enter discount code THANKS, and hit "Recalculate Total" to save 50% off your total. This offer expires Sunday, November 11 . . . so hurry!


Getting savvy about standby power

By Noah Buhayar, Fellow, Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org)

Ever wonder how much electricity your household appliances use when they're supposedly off—in "standby" or "ready" mode? Think of the clock on your microwave, your DVD player that's on but not playing a movie, or the little sensor on the bottom of your TV that waits for a signal from your remote control.

It turns out that these "vampire" loads are gradually sucking away power—a lot of power.

An estimated 13 percent of household electricity use, according to a recent study published by the California Energy Commission, is from appliances in low-power mode (which is to say, not performing any of their primary functions).

Standby mode, the least amount of energy an appliance can use without powering down, is just one example. Many appliances have multiple low-power modes.

A DVD player, for instance, may have both a standby and sleep mode. Computers, as well, often save power by shutting down one or more components without turning completely off.

What it costs
The costs of these low-power modes are enormous. Standby power alone accounts for 5 of that 13 percent of household electricity use.

In 2000, a group of researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that each year Americans spend about $4 billion just on standby power.

Generating that electricity puts roughly 27 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions into the atmosphere (more than 3.7 million cars' worth) every year.

While the amount of low-power mode energy required by most new appliances is going down, the number of appliances (from washing machines to air conditioners) with continual power needs is increasing—eclipsing those savings. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that standby power could consume as much as 20 percent of household electricity by 2010.

Worse yet, some of our electronics never go into low-power mode because they're hooked to networks that require constant feedback. Most desktop computers are left on all the time for just this reason—drawing (on average) a steady 70-watt current. The monitor may be off, but the processor, fan, and other hardware may still be running.

Your cable box, too, is perpetually drawing current as it talks to the network. Have an Internet phone? That, as well, is always on, ready to take a message.

Energy-efficiency experts are busy identifying ways that manufacturers can reduce the amount of energy required to maintain a network presence, hold a channel, or answer the phone when you're not there. Some promising work can be found here.

Why we don't sacrifice convenience?
If the net impact of all our leaky appliances is so huge, why aren't we compelled to change our habits—or do without a little convenience?

A colleague of mine here at Rocky Mountain Institute shares a useful anecdote. His home A/V system (TV, cable box, DVD player) and communications system (cable modem, WiFi router, Internet phone, and cordless phone with answering machine) uses about 45 watts of electricity continuously.

Even though he'd like to save that energy, he leaves the system on all the time. If he turns off the power bar that links everything to the wall, his phone won't take messages and he'll lose Internet connectivity.

What's the cost of this convenience? He estimates about $40 dollars a year.

What you can do
If you're looking to reduce your energy use and tread more lightly on the planet, changing your habits is a good starting point.

  • Shut your computer and printer down (all the way) when not in use. Some people find it useful to plug all their IT equipment into one power bar, then flip the switch once they've shut down.
  • If you have an A/V system that can be turned off entirely without sacrificing performance, do so.
  • Keep cell phone chargers out of the wall when you're not charging the phone. Those little power bricks often draw a little current—even when you're phone's not connected.

Making informed choices
Most importantly, educate yourself. The U.S. government's Energy Star program rates appliances and often has information about their standby (or low-power) mode energy use. For home electronics, low standby power use is a key criterion for qualifying products.

In 2006 alone, the program saved some $14 billion on Americans' utility bills and helped avoid more than 35,000 megawatts of peak power demand (equivalent to the capacity of 70 new power plants).

These small changes may not make a huge dent in your monthly electricity bill, but they can add up.

Noah Buhayar is a fellow at Rocky Mountain Institute


Low-cost, Creative Idea for Last-minute Halloween Costumes!

Frantically trying to figure out what you are going to be for Halloween? Never fear . . . your local thrift store or second-hand shop is here. Take a quick visit to one of these shops, and you'll find a plethora of vintage clothes that will outfit you nicely for Halloween. Ideas to shop for:
  • Mr. Rogers
  • Elvis
  • Hippie
  • Hobo
  • News reporter
  • Church lady
  • SNL characters
  • Cheerleader
There are so many more options, so if you're in a rush, just stop by your local Goodwill, Salvation Army store, or other consigment or thrift store. They're sure to have the right costume for you!

Avoid Scary Mistakes That Cost You Thousands

This advice comes from www.FeedthePig.org:
Something that can be as scary as Halloween's ghosts and goblins is the thought of recovering from a disaster for which you were unprepared. If you have not already, now is the time to learn what steps you can take to prepare yourself. Financial Planning - A Guide to Disaster Preparedness.

If you are recovering from an unexpected crisis, the information in this guide can help you through the steps you need to take to recover, Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues.

Have a safe and fun Halloween, everyone!

DEAL ALERT: 20% off clearance items at Sierra Trading Post

For two days only, you can save an extra 20% off clearance items at Sierra Trading Post. To get the discount, click HERE.


Decorating a Home Without Creating Debt

I found this great article by Sandra Walker-Mastin called "Decorating a Home Without Creating Debt—Re-purposing things you already have in your home can look great and save you a bundle in decorating". Click on the article name to read her great ideas!

Save Money & Have Fun by Picking Your Own Fruit!

Taking advantage of area farms that allow you to pick your own produce is a great way to have fun as a family, while saving you a lot of money on fresh fruits and vegetables at the same time.

One of my favorite late summer/early fall activities is going to our local "u-pick" farms and gathering fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and apples. The weather is usually a bit cooler, and the fruit is simply delicious! I've been so spoiled on fresh-picked fruit that it's hard for me to buy produce at the store. What can I say? It just doesn't taste as good. The store-bought apples are less crisp and more waxy. They just don't cut it, anymore. See . . . I'm spoiled.

We recently visited our favorite orchard (Vince Brown Farms in Conklin, MI), and picked a delicious 1/2 bushel of Mutsu and Golden Delicious apples. Yum! The nice thing about this particular farm is that they have a wide variety of apples to pick, and they take you around the orchard by way of a tractor ride. It's just so classic! You can also fill your basket with any variety of combinations. A 1/2 bushel turns out to be a TON of apples, too. The cost for our massive 1/2 bushel . . . $4.50. You just can't beat it!

I love to make homemade apple pies with them, which my husband doesn't complain too much about. Plus, it's so easy to buy pre-made crusts and make fresh apple pies that way, too. This morning, I made some really yummy oatmeal pancakes and sauteed some of our Mutsus with sugar, butter, and Cinnamon, to pour over the top of our pancakes. WOW! That was SO yummy. We have leftovers, and I can't wait to eat them up!

One of the other great things about picking your own fruit is the "free" samples! There's nothing better than walking around picking fruit and munching on them at the same time.

Last year, when we picked strawberries (we didn't get out in time, this year), I made strawberry pies and strawberry jam. I also had enough to freeze. Those strawberries lasted us a whole year, and we only paid about $6.00 for the whole thing. What a deal!

So, the bottom line is that picking your own fruit can save you a bundle and be a really great experience. It gets us outside, walking around, eating really healthy fruit, and away from the television. There's something to be said for stepping outside of normal life, visiting a fruit farm, saving money, and having fun.

Check out your local u-pick farms by visiting your state's website and searching for "u-pick". For you Michiganians, just click HERE!


    1. Heat griddle or electric skillet to 400ยบ F (if using a frying pan, set burner to medium heat).
    2. Mix together:
    • 1 cup multi-purpose baking mix
    • 1 cup whole wheat pancake mix
    • 1-1/3 cups milk
    • 1 egg
    • 2 Tbsp. sugar
    • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (if desired)
    • 1/4 tsp. unsweetened applesauce (if desired)

    Topping (prepared separately)
    • 3-4 tart apples peeled, cored, and sliced/diced, etc.
    • 1/4 c. melted butter (just melt it in your skillet or frying pan)
    • 1/4 c. sugar
    • Cinnamon

    Combine sugar, apples, and Cinnamon in skillet/pan with melted butter and sautee over medium heat until apples are well-coated and somewhat firm and somewhat soft at the same time.
Spoon topping onto pancakes and enjoy!


Tips to Help Save Money on Gas

"Whether it's global warming or the higher cost of gas, many of us are looking for ways to save money and be environmentally-friendly at the same time. Driving a hybrid vehicle is an easy solution, but for many of us, a new car isn't cost-effective.

"Fortunately, you don't need to own a hybrid to get better fuel economy from your car. You can save on gas by watching how you drive. Driving aggressively and jumping on the gas and breaks, wastes fuel. Also, it's important to keep your tires properly inflated, as an under inflated tire is going to use up extra fuel.

"Here's another tip to help save money and the environment -- cut down on the number of oil changes. In the past, oil changes were typically required every 3,000 miles. Now, with more sophisticated engines, you might not have to take your car in for an oil change as often. The fueling in engines these days is more controlled and the oil has higher quality additives so certain vehicles are known to go 9,000, 10,000 and even 11,000 miles without an oil change. New computerized technology also shows how you've used your vehicle, whether you've been in hot or cold weather, and can tell you exactly when you need to schedule your next check-up."


How to Find Great Savings on Everything

(ARA)—If the thought of saving some money entices you, you're not alone. But isn't there a better way to get a deal than waiting for the Sunday paper just to sort through and cut coupons that usually expire before you use them? Look to the Internet and the answer is yes!

The Internet provides so many ways for people to save. And because e-commerce changes so quickly, businesses want to attract you with some really great discounts. One site dedicated to connecting savings to active consumers is CoolSavings.com.

CoolSavings.com provides free grocery coupons, online coupons, printable coupons, free offers from a variety of top brands and even free samples. If you're looking to stock your fridge for back to school, this is a perfect place to look for savings. Or maybe you just bought a new puppy and you want to find some pet coupons. From babies to travel, automotive and entertainment, there are coupons for all aspects of life.

Many coupons are available to consumers who simply visit the site. Once there, guests have the opportunity to register in order to get additional offers that are tailored to their profile and personal needs.

Many visitors come on a weekly basis, but offers can change even within the same day due to the high demand. Some of the major featured companies are: Panasonic, Pillsbury, Westin Hotels, Netflix, TGIF, Macaroni Grill, Outback, Target, Apple and much more.

"CoolSavings is the number one coupon site on the Web. We're here to help you save in every aspect of your life. Keep coming back for new offers and money-saving ideas every day," says Trent Arkema, a director at CoolSavings.com. "We also provide articles and tips to help you make the most of your time and your money, so you're sure to save a ton."

To register and get valuable coupons right now visit www.CoolSavings.com.

Copyright © 2007, ARAnet, inc.

Saving energy, saving money??

Little changes can have a huge impact on energy costs

By Tanya Berkebile, Cadillac News
Jeff Broddle | Cadillac News

Phil Cornelius purchases heating ducts at the Cadillac Home Depot. Many times when a person buys a product to conserve energy, the energy savings exceed the cost of the product.
The average family spends more than $1,600 a year on home utility bills. Imagine how you would feel if you could reduce that bill by a quarter, which is a savings of $400.

What could you do with that $400? It may pay a month of rent, cover car repairs or go into a savings account where it can accumulate even more money.

It shouldn’t be difficult to make that 25 percent savings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, since a large portion of that energy is wasted.

It might be as easy as adding some caulk or weather stripping to a door or window, or changing to fluorescent light bulbs.

In many cases, reduced utility bills can more than make up the high cost of investing in a energy-efficient appliance, according to John Putvin, Jr. of Pell’s Appliance and TV.

Programmable thermostat

Roughly half of the typical home’s energy bill goes for heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy. Lowering a home’s temperature five to 10 degrees at night and when no one is home can slash your heating costs up to 20 percent a year. Just make sure you know how to use the thermostat — some models are confusing and might discourage savings. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, roughly 50 percent of homeowners don’t change temperature settings at night.

With the cost of programmable thermostats at about $100, a unit can pay for itself in a year.

Save money on water

Spend less for hot water. Set the water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or the low setting, which is hot enough for most needs. Lowering the water heater temperature from 130 degrees to 120 degrees can save up to 5 percent on heating bills. Also, wrap a water heater with insulation or a blanket if it feels warm to conserve energy.

To help conserve the water’s heat on its way to the faucets, insulate the plumbing with pipe sleeves. With these, you can raise the end-use temperature by 2 to 4 degrees.

Ceiling fan

Ceiling fans are not only for summer — they are just as useful in the winter. Fans have a switch that reverses the motor. This causes the blade to spin clockwise, which pushes warm air from the ceiling back to the living space.

This can help keep heating bills down and possibly knock off $10 to $20 a year.

Fireplace insert

Many people think a fireplace is the way to keep home-heating costs down during the winter. But an open fireplace can send up to 80 percent of the fire’s heat up the chimney and depletes warm air from surrounding rooms. To keep this from happening, Dave Nederhoed, owner of Positive Chimney & Fireplace of Cadillac, suggests having a fireplace insert installed.

What exactly is a fireplace insert? It’s a self-containing stove that sits partially inside the fireplace and is equipped with an outer shell to deliver heated air into the room and minimize heat loss to the masonry. It is more than five times as efficient as an open fireplace and distributes warm air throughout the home.

“A gas, pellet or wood insert is an efficient upgrade that adds not only another source of heat, but additional value to your home,” Nederhoed said.

Energy Star products

Energy Star is a U.S. government program to promote energy efficient products. According to the program, Americans who used Energy Star appliances had savings of $14 billion on their utility bills.

Since 1992, when the program began, products have continually been added to the list.

“There are Energy Star dishwashers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, laundry products — the list keeps growing,” said John Putvin Jr. of Pell’s Appliance and TV. “They are becoming more and more popular.”

For those who have older appliances, Putvin, Jr. said there is no doubt people will see a drop on their electricity bill with Energy Star products.

Sources: Consumer Reports, U.S. Department of Energy, Consumers Energy

Your local connection

Free ways to save energy... and money

  • Wash clothes in cold water. About 90 percent of energy is spent heating the water for the load. You can save substantially by washing and rinsing at cooler temperatures. Warm water helps the suds to get at the dirt, but cold-water detergents will work effectively for just about everything in the hamper.
  • Hang it up. With clotheslines, you spare the energy a dryer would use, and your clothes will smell as fresh as all outdoors. You’ll also get more useful life out of clothes dried on indoor or outdoor clotheslines — after all, dryer lint is nothing but your wardrobe in the process of wearing out.
  • Let the dishwasher do the work. Don’t bother prerinsing dishes with the idea that your dishwasher will work less hard. Consumer Reports has found that this added step can waste 20 gallons of heated water a day. All you need to do is scrape off leftover food. Enzyme-based detergents will help make sure the dishes emerge spotless.
  • Put your PC to sleep. Keep your computer and its monitor in sleep mode rather than leaving them on around the clock. You stand to use 80 percent less electricity.
  • Think twice before turning on the oven. Heating food in the microwave uses only 20 percent of the energy required by a full-sized oven.
  • Use the right pan. When cooking on the stovetop, pick your pan, then put it on an element or burner that’s roughly the same size. You’ll use much less energy than you would with a mismatched burner and pan. Steam foods instead of boiling. If you do boil, be sure to put a lid on the pot to make the water come to a boil faster.
  • Dust off the Crock-Pot. Slow cooking in a Crock-Pot uses a lot less energy than simmering on the stove.
Source: Consumer Reports

Energy-saving investments

If you don’t mind spending a few dollars, here are some ways to conserve energy—and save money.
  • A tighter home is a toastier home. Insulation is your home’s first line of defense against the weather, right? Wrong. Before you bulk up with fiberglass blankets, seal the leaks. Inexpensive foam strips and caulking can cut your heating and cooling bills by 5 to 30 percent.
  • Try do-it-yourself low-E windows. If your windows don’t have a low-E coating, consider applying a self-adhesive film on the glass. This treatment is a lot cheaper than replacing the units, and better-quality films are quite durable.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. Roughly half of the typical home’s energy bill goes for heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy. The easiest way to save is to use programmable thermostats. They can pay for themselves in about a year.
  • Switch to those funny-looking fluorescents. You may not be familiar with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), but give them a try. A single bulb can save from $25 to $45 over its life. And it’s a long life: Manufacturers claim that CFLs last between 5 and 13 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.
Source: Consumer Reports


5 Things My Mom Taught Me About Saving Money

There's something in my genes that compells me to bargain shop. I don't know exactly what chromosome that would be, but I can almost guarantee that I got it from my mom. My mom was a great bargain shopper, and she instilled in me some invaluable principles. The overlying rule of thumb is that you should never have to pay retail price for anything!

Here are some ways that I saw that play out, as I watched my mom's thriftiness through the years:

  1. When you walk in a store, head straight for the clearance rack. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 . . . you get the idea. You never know what you might find, or how much money you can save!

  2. Haggle, haggle, haggle. Everything has a negotiable price.

  3. Use coupons! Sure, they may take a small amount of time to clip, but the savings are worth it.

  4. If there's the slightest thing wrong with what you are trying to purchase, ask for a discount.

  5. Garage sales can be fun. Whether you're hosting one or visiting some, they can be really fun. You talk to some interesting people, and if you're hosting one, you can make a chunk of cash. When you're shopping garage sales, you can save a LOT of money on things that are slightly or never used--just depends on what you're looking for. Just remember—"One man's junk is another man's treasure!"
Speaking of garage sales, I have such fond memories from childhood of my mom hosting garage sales every year. My dad would go out and get us all fresh donuts early in the morning, and we would enjoy them as we watched the early birds stop by for the best pickings. I would usually have my little basket that said, "Everything in this basket is 10 cents." It was a fun way to get me involved, and teach me about math and earning money. Most of all, having garage sales was a really fun way to do something as a family. We talked with the people who would stop by, and interact with each other. Those memories stand out for me as some great times spent with my family, enjoying the outdoors, saving some money, and spending time together.



One of my favorite ways to find cheap or free items is on www.craigslist.org. This free online classified community is a great source for finding used items that won't cost you an arm and a leg. Postings last for 30 days, and are completely free.

My in-laws are trying to furnish their second home on a budget, and I recently found them a FREE full mattress set (in decent shape, and better condition than one they already had) and a queen sized wood, cannonball bedframe for $25. They were thrilled! The other great thing is that even though I don't live in their area, I can search the local craigslist in their locality and send them links to items they might be interested in.

We recently also sold a car, and bought a newer used car on Craigslist. Not spending the money on an ad in the paper was really nice, and our car sold within two days of listing it. The car we purchased was really nice, too.

So, check it out for anything you might be interested in: www.craigslist.org!


How long has it been since you took a trip to the library?

One thing that can save you a lot of money on books, music, DVDs, movies, etc., is dusting off that unused library card and making a trip to your local branch! I know that the libraries in our area are really great. They've installed self-checkout kiosks and allow you to access their catalog and pay fines online. You can also request anything from another library and have it sent to the one closest to you . . . all online! They will even send you an e-mail to let you know when it's ready to be picked up.

To avoid returning things late, I have it set up so that they e-mail me when my items are due in three days. If I need to keep them longer, I just log into my patron record and renew them.

I've rented popular movies, excercise videos, books, books on tape . . . you name it! It's really a great way to stay current, without spending any money (as long as you return things on time, that is).

Most libraries allow you to even check out software and popular music. A number have also started offering electronic resources that are accessible online.

In the past several years, I have renewed my love of our local library. I'm there a ton, now. So, instead of going out and buying the latest, newest, and greatest, check it out at the library. You'll enjoy the things you love, without spending the extra cash to purchase it.


Have I mentioned Aldi?

Wow . . . I cannot believe I have been so remiss as to not mention Aldi, yet! What is Aldi? Let me enlighten you.

Aldi is a way of life! It is it's own culture. Aldi is . . . grocery paradise!

According to their website, http://aldifoods.com/, "Aldi is an international retailer specializing in a limited assortment of private label, high-quality products at the lowest possible prices. Our unique way of operating makes it almost impossible for competitors to match our combination of price and quality. This means ALDI can offer Incredible Value Every Day. Aldi introduced the limited assortment concept to the United States in 1976 when the first stores were opened in southeastern Iowa. Today, Aldi Inc. operates over 800 stores in 27 states, primarily from Kansas to the east coast."

The bottom line is Aldi is a grocer that stocks mainly "off-brand" products at a huge savings for their customers. Trust me--if you are willing to go generic with your food choices, you will save a TON of money. Before Aldi, my husband could not bring himself to buy any other brand of macaroni and cheese than Kraft Deluxe. Now, he prefers the Aldi off-brand version, and it costs much, much less. I have watched enough of those under-cover, blind taste test programs where people think they can choose the brand name product over the generic one, and come out looking silly because they prefer the off-brand product. So, if you can just get past the fact that you're not buying a label, you will love Aldi.

Aldi is a unique shopping experience, though, so there are a few things you have to know before going.
  • Take a quarter with you. This is for the shopping cart. Aldi cuts costs by not staffing their stores with a ton of people, and they can do this because you have to insert a quarter to get your shopping cart, thus saving the cost of staffing people who have to run all of the parking lot to retrieve carts that people leave here and there. If you want your quarter back, you have to return the cart. It's really simple, and it works! Aldi has the most un-cluttered parking lots I've seen. And I can't complain because in the end, the cart is free and I still save money.

  • Bring your own grocery bags. Aldi does carry their own grocery bags, but you have to pay for them. So, I just save my old grocery bags from trips to other major grocery and chain stores, and reuse them at Aldi. That way, I'm not paying for more bags, and I'm keeping my old ones out of landfills.

  • Load your groceries onto the check-out belt quickly. The staff at Aldi work very quickly, and will be unloading your groceries from the belt as soon as you put them on, unless there's someone in front of you in line. It might feel hectic, but once you get the hang of it, it's no sweat.

  • Be prepared to bag your own groceries. Bring your own bags, bag your own groceries . . . you get the picture, right?

There are a few things you can't get at Aldi that you will still need to visit your normal grocery store for--things like fresh cuts of meat, and fresh fruit. You can get fruit at Aldi, but their selection is sometimes limited and it's sometimes not that fresh. However, it's hit and miss with that, so just keep your eye open when you're there. We normally get nice bananas there for half the price per pound. They usually have a great selection of grapes, and stock really nice kiwis, too. Like I said, it's hit and miss.

The bottom line is that Aldi's prices are so unbelievably low that you can easily save a TON on your grocery bill. The amount of food we get for $100 at Aldi would easily cost us over $200 at the major name-brand grocery store down the road. So, check it out!


Save money on gas!

Speedway gas stations started its Speedy Rewards program a couple of years ago, and many people have enjoyed racking up points since then. Earning points can get you anything from free snacks to free gas cards to gift certificates to several restaurants. The nicest thing about signing up for the program is saving $0.05/gallon during the summer! Because we're members, whenever we fill up at a Speedway gas station, we get $0.05 off every gallon of gas we pump. If gas is priced at $2.90/gallon, we pay $2.85.

With gas prices falling, right now, it's extra nice! And, even though the prices at the pump aren't as low as we would all like them to be, every little bit helps. So, stop by a Speedway and sign up now to enjoy the savings.

Some other tips for saving gas:
  • Make sure your tires are inflated properly and balanced.

  • If possible, set the cruise!

  • According to www.fueleconomy.gov, for every 5 mph over 60, you pay an extra $0.20 per gallon! Think about it . . . if prices are $3.00/gallon and you consistently drive over 60 mph, you could easily be paying $3.20 or more per gallon. Reducing your speed could save you a bundle!

Consider other tips also offered at sites like the Federal Trade Commission or www.fueleconomy.gov.



If I have not mentioned LowerMyBills.com, I have robbed you of a superb way of saving precious moula! We did our last cell phone plan through this site, and got our phones for free. The cellular company that we signed-on with wouldn't give us the phones for free, and when we went to them and asked if they would match the deal, they said, "No, but that's a really good deal!" So, we did it through LowerMyBills.com and were really happy with the way things turned out.

Wireless plans aren't the only thing you can look for there, either. Compare prices on mortgage rates, local phone services, internet services, credit cards, loans, and insurance (auto, health, life, home owner's, renter's).

It's a great resource and LowerMyBills.com does all the shopping-around work for you. You just get to enjoy the benefits!


Cheap Airfare

If you live near a major US city, you can save money on airfare. Unfortunately, those of us near smaller cities aren't able to cash in on these great deals, yet, but I'm hoping our day will come.

While saving money on airfare can cost you those nice little frills, it will definitely get you where you want to go without breaking the bank. Try using these two tips:

  • Southwest Airlines—Try downloading "Ding!" from Southwest Airlines. It will run while you're online and notify you (with a "ding") when Southwest posts new sales and specials on airfare.

  • Spirit Airlines—Ever heard of $0.08, $9, or $24 airfares? Spirit Airlines has introduced flyers to the no-frills, no-extra costs flying experience. Click here to receive their e-mail specials, and be the first to know when these jaw-dropping fares appear. I can't wait to take advantage of this one and fly myself and my husband to Orlando for a day at Disney!

Ten creative ways to save money now

  • Save money when you dine out by purchasing discounted gift certificates to your favorite local restaurants at Restaurant.com. Sign up for their e-mail updates, and you'll get offers for even steeper discounts (like 40%, 50%, and even 60% off) on their already discounted gift certificates.

  • Get your local Entertainment book! Visit Entertainment.com and purchase the book for your local area. The 2007 books are really discounted right now, and are valid through November. These books contain TONS of local discounts for everything from oil changes and department stores to movie theaters, restaurants, and everything else!

  • Shop your local thrift store. Thrift stores have junk...granted...but, you can often find treasures among the junk, if you're willing to look for it. And, you WILL save money! Plus, you'll likely help a worthy cause.

  • Buy an annual state park pass. A really fun way to get outside, get exercise, and spend time as a family is to visit your state parks. State residents usually pay a lot less for an annual pass than they would if they paid per visit. Plus, if you buy the annual pass you're more likely to want to make it worth your money by going more, and there's nothing more fun than getting outside and enjoying nature with your family.

  • Sign up for Hotwire.com's e-mail notifications. This is a discount travel site, where you can find tons of great discounted travel deals. But if you sign up for their e-mails, you'll get their "Travel Ticker" notifications that include radically reduced travel deals like $9 airfares from Spirit Airlines, and $300/person cruise deals. Why should seeing the world cost you an arm and a leg?

  • Look for the best price on the books you want to purchase by visiting allbookstores.com. This site will search all online bookstores and find you the best price on the books you love! They include a "buy" link directly to the store you choose.

  • Check gasbuddy.com for the best deals on gas in your area. They even have a widget for Mac users. They're tracking is kept up-to-date by local volunteers who report low prices they see. Become a volunteer, and help get the word out about low prices. It helps everyone!

  • If you are an outdoorsy person, like to camp, etc., you have to shop at Sierra Trading Post. Even if you're not outdoorsy, but like name brands like Teva, Chaco, The North Face, Columbia, etc., this is the place for you. They have everything for fishing, watersports, winter sports (skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.), backpacking, camping, cycling, etc., at WAY below retail. It's definitely worth it to sign up for their deal flyers, too. Other sites that are great for this kind of thing are www.campmor.com, www.outdooroutlet.com, and www.rei-outlet.com.

  • If you're suffering from high credit card interest rates (who hasn't been there?), just call your credit card company up and ask for a lower rate. More times than not, they'll give you a lower rate! All you have to do is ask.

  • And I saved the best for last: FREECYCLE! If you have not started freecycling, it's never too late to start. Visit www.freecycle.org and join your local group. Freecycle is like recycling, only people are giving things away. This organization gives a whole new life to the phrase, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." You just never know what someone might be giving away that you want--a George Foreman grill, a queen sized bed, a bike, etc. You name it...odds are that eventually you can find it on Freecycle. We got a wonderful electric skillet for FREE, just by searching our local freecycle. Many times people are giving away plants, pets, trees, household goods, landscaping materials, and everything else from A-Z. And you can give away your stuff, too! Just post it, and let someone else come take it off your hands.

Welcome to the Bargain Shopper's Paradise!

This is a site dedicated to all you bargain hunters and shoppers, and is filled with valuable tips on where and how to sniff out those bargains that will save you some much needed cash. Besides the fact that saving money is necessary, it can also be fun and something the whole family can enjoy. Throw-out your old presumptions about obsessive coupon clipping and outdated clothes from the local thrift store.

Life on a budget doesn't have to be about missing out!

That's what this blog is all about.

In our current culture, we seem to be very concerned with keeping up--having the latest, best, and brightest things we can. And yet, we sink ourselves deeper and deeper in debt, spend more time playing with our new "toys", and miss out on valuable relationships, financial freedom, and creativity.

So, the Bargain Shopper's Paradise is about having fun AND saving money. It's about grasping the difference between wants and needs, and allowing ourselves the freedom to not have to "keep up" with the newest, best, and brightest, while drowing in debt and the question of "how are we going to pay for this?" Yes--you can shop at a thrift store AND come out looking fabulous! Yes--you can clip coupons AND chuckle to yourself at the woman in front of you in line who paid twice as much as you did for her stick of Secret deodorant! Yes--you can have fun AND save money!

As a self-proclaimed "treasure hunter", I have a plethora of wonderful ideas to share. But I'm counting on you, too! Bring your ideas to the table and share them with everyone. Don't just keep that rush you get from finding the perfect Land's End fleece at a garage sale for $1.00 all to yourself. Share it with us, and maybe we can change the world into one big Bargain Shopper's Paradise!

Any profane, nasty, rude, or otherwise inappropriate remarks or comments will be deleted. Let's keep this clean!

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