Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Review of Frugal Websites

Just Frugal ( seems like a good website/blog/forum to join. They have a variety of forums dedicated to everything from the indulgence of the day to debt reduction. I've just joined and introduced myself on the "Introduce Yourself" forum and received some welcome posts. At least I know it's an active group. The posts are all recent, too. I look forward to lots of frugal sharing there.

I also visited Coupon Mom. Not so great. So many ads and sponsorships it was hard to tell what was legitimate and what wasn't. In fact, it was so laden with ads that it was overwhelming and my overall impression was let's see what we can get this consumer to buy. So, I give that one a thumbs down.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dollar Stores--A Comparison Study

After my trip to the 99 Cents Only store, I went next door to The Dollar Tree. I love the Dollar Tree for things that are great for parties, kids, gifts, and paper products. This is my store for choice for gift bags and wrap as well as a complete set of partyware and balloons. Every once in a while, they have neat kids tableware like the dinosaur plate and cup set in the picture above. And, they sell greeting cards for 50 cents each, 2 for a dollar. Take a look at the 8 greeting cards I bought for $4 which would be the equivalent of one Hallmark or American Greeting card! They have a pretty good assortment of greeting cards for kids birthdays which I like. I bought two birthday gift bags, one with a dinosaur design and another with cute animals.

So, here's my take on the 99 Cents Only versus Dollar Tree. 99 Cents Only caters to those who have limited budgets including welfare recipients along with the frugal/budget-minded shopper like me. I saw an interview recently with the founders of 99 Cents Only and they explained that they get remainders, overstock and poor sellers. Sometimes, they pick up real bargains like the larger size Heinz ketchup that Heinz decided not to sell anymore. Overall, they have a broader and more eclectic selection and they have a grocery/produce section.

The Dollar Tree, though, focuses more on the stationery, paper products, educational books and supplies, and kids' toys. So, they are my store of choice for kids' birthday party decorations and for kids' and school supplies as well as paper plates, napkins, aluminum foil pans and the like. Just a moment here about aluminum pans--they sell for $3 or more at regular grocery stores. So, to get a roasting pan that might cost $6 at a regular grocery market for $1 makes my heart sing.

In any case, you can find all sorts of deals and bargains at both stores, even remaindered books that are worthwhile reads. You just never know what you can find but you can usually depend on a certain group of items to be available at most of these places.

Do you frequent these stores? What have been your best finds at these stores?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dollar Store Diva

My secret shopping passion are the dollar stores. And, I found dollar store heaven in Reseda! The 99 Cents Only Store and the Dollar Tree are located on Sherman Way right next to each other. What could be better! I have the convenience of perusing the aisles in both locations while parking in the same spot. Susie's Deals are two doors down but I'll save that for another post.

So, here's a picture of some of the grocery items I bought today from the 99 Cents Only Store. If I had bought these from the regular grocery store, I would have paid the following for them:

Hunt's Pudding Snack Pack - $1.99
Nabisco Mini Teddy Grahams - $2.65
Oscar Meyer Lunchable Jr. Pack - $2.00
Sunmaid Mini Raisin Snacks - $2.29 (Best guess.)
Grimmway Baby Carrot Package, 1 lb - $1.99 (The package in the photo is 1.25 lbs)

So, at the grocery market, I would have spent around $11.00. Instead, I spent about $5.00 (since every item there is just 99 cents, of course!). I actually bought 3 of the Lunchable Jr. packs which means I actually have 6 for the boys lunches and snacks all week. The one thing you have to watch for are the expiration dates which were not an issue except for the Lunchable Jr. packs which expire on Jan. 30 so I made the decision that it was OK to use one or two days after the expiration date.

These 99 Cents Only stores are all over the LA area although, alas, there are none near me which means I need to drive at least 10 miles to the closest one and even further to my favorite one in Reseda!

Next post, my recent purchases at Dollar Tree and a comparative study between the 99 Cents Only Store and Dollar Tree.

Being Frugal in 2008

With the "R word" looming on the horizon, what better time to be frugal! However, being frugal during economic downturns, does not have to be an occasional hobby but can be a lifestyle for a lifetime. Being frugal was always part of my life growing up, in college, when I first started working and then saving and now as a mom while I still work. And, I think it pays big rewards. I don't feel that I am being a cheapskate or depriving my family. I think many of my frugal decisions have helped us be healthy and have a cleaner and safer home. And, in the end, saving money gives us the option to do things while knowing that we've put aside money for our retirement, our children's college education, and more. But, I believe I can do better. I want to share some of what I do and would love to have a community of others who share what they do. As you see, I'm calling myself FrugalMomLA because I live in an LA suburb. Living in LA adds a special challenge to being frugal. Gas prices are through the roof, housing costs are high, and there's the constant pressure to drive the nice car, go on the fancy vacations, and wear the trendiest clothes. And then there are the kids!!! Birthday parties, lessons, camps--it never ends. But, I have persevered and while LA has all these pressures there are so many options when you live in a place like LA. So, stay tuned, and I'll be sharing my forays into living the frugal life in LA.