Frugal Tips Archive
DINING OUT (FOOD)
Look For Deals
- Consider buying a few Restaurant.com Gift Certificates or an Entertainment Book for the area you are traveling to.
- Check Groupon for current restaurant deals in the area.
- Check for other coupons and discounts by doing a quick Google search.
Pack Lots of Snacks
- Pack a lot of snacks (granola bars, nuts, etc.) to have on hand to avoid unnecessary food purchases.
- Backpacks, lunchboxes, or a large purse allow you to easily store and transport snacks.
- If you’re driving to your destination, consider packing a cooler and a portable grill.
Take Advantage of Your Hotel
- Many hotels offer a free breakfast for guests – make sure to take advantage of this.
- Choose hotels with full or half kitchens so that you can prepare many of your meals right in your room.
- Ask hotel employees about any available special deals for certain nearby restaurants or if they can recommend any affordable options
- The most popular areas of any city (i.e. heart of downtown) will always be more expensive.
- By staying just a few miles away from major tourist areas, you can usually save a good amount of money.
*One caveat to this is that staying further away does add time and potential travel costs such as transportation fares and parking. Be sure to research nearby public transportation and see if anything is in walking distance*
Timing is critical to getting a good deal. The cost of a hotel stay can vary dramatically from one week to the next, depending on many factors.
- If you have a flexible schedule, consider staying at a hotel during the off-season.
- Less demand = lower prices
- As a bonus, this will also mean less crowds for you to deal with
- Even staying in a hotel during the week instead of during a weekend can usually save you money.
- Sunday usually has the lowest occupancy rate which might mean lower rates.
- Many hotels offer special promotions if you book months, weeks or sometimes just 10-days in advance.
- Not only will you be able to get the best price, you’ll also secure your room before they sell out.
A few potential alternatives to hotels include the following:
- Airbnb – rent a house
- Hostels – good for younger travels; many even have private rooms
Join Rewards Programs
- Many hotels, especially hotel chains, offer free rewards programs.
- You can earn points by booking hotel rooms that can get you rewards such as free hotel stays, upgrades, etc.
Hotwire – Save up to 60% on hotels
Tingo – Offers automatic refunds when a room rate drops
Hotel Tonight – Get amazing last-minute deals. Book wherever, whenever on your mobile device for tonight, tomorrow and next week.
Hotels.com – Instant savings up to 50% off with special prices on their app
After you find a good deal, make sure to compare it to the price on the hotel’s main website
The bottom line: Book your flight early and not on a Friday. Be as flexible as possible as to when you fly. Also, make sure to use different online tools to find the best flight prices.
Booking Date + Day of the Week
When you book your ticket can have a huge effect on your fare.
- Book as early as possible.
- Booking your ticket roughly two months (47-57 days) ahead of the departure date is recommended for domestic flights.
Research has shown that searching for flights at midnight on Tuesdays can save you 6% or more.
- The overall best day to book? Sunday, followed closely by Saturday.
- The worst day to book? Research has shown that Fridays are the worst day to buy flights (13% pricier on average). This is due to sales expiring and cheap seats selling out by the time Friday rolls around.
Flying Time of Year + Day of the Week
- Like everything else, it is a matter of supply and demand.
- July and December are two of the costliest months to fly (~30% more compared to April and February).
- Avoid flying on a Sunday if possible (you are likely to pay ~10% more compared to a Tuesday, for example).
- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are best
- It’s best to not check a bag at all and just take a carry-on with you.
- Booking a flight with at least one layover can save you $100 or more.
Flight Resources / Tools
Google Flights – One of the most useful tools for finding cheap flights. This tool gives you the flexibility to check a variety of dates, times and destinations. It also shows you all of the carriers that serve the route you’re flying.
Hopper – Predicts whether fares on a certain route will go up or down and alerts you when your ticket price has dropped to its likely cheapest point. Hopper claims to save a typical user around $50 per flight.
Airfare Watchdog – Monitors airline websites for deals and sends you email alerts regarding them.
Kayak – A aggregator that pulls together fares from a number of travel sites. They will email you daily or weekly when the price drops.
Travelocity – Another fare aggregator that will send you an email when airfare to your destination drops below the amount you’ve set the alert for.
Make sure to search for flights multiple times and over multiple days, both with and without the cookies cleared from your browser.
- Look for travel packages. You can considerably lower the price of your hotel stay by buying a vacation package. Get your flight, rental car and hotel reservation all at once through websites like Expedia or Travelocity, saving you hundreds of dollars.
Use Credit Card Points for Flights, Hotels and Cars
- Be sure to check out the travel discounts and rewards associated with your credit card.
- Several credit cards offer rewards like free flights, discounted hotel stays and more.
Saving Money On Your Wedding
It’s no secret that weddings are very expensive. In fact, Americans spend close to an average of $27,000 on a wedding, according to The Wedding Report. With a little creativity, however, it is possible to plan an unforgettable wedding even if you’re on a tight budget. Money Saving Quest is here to help.
Let me begin by saying that it is best to first decide what is most important for your wedding day. Try not to cut back on these things but do so on everything else. Are pictures most important? How about the location? Sit down with your soon to be spouse and start listing out these items on paper.
“The point is to be married to each other, not debt.”
- Limit the open bar selections.
- Don’t spring for premium brands.
- Serve beer and wine only. Maybe even champagne for toasts. This will be cheaper than a full bar.
- Consider boxed wine. You can pour the boxes into other drink dispensers (no one will ever know). Consider shopping Walmart for the cheapest options.
- Not sure how much wine to use? Check out this handy guide
- Consider having a dry wedding.
According to Bridal Guide, the average wedding cake cost $466 in 2014 (not including delivery and cutting fees)
- Order a small, decorated cutting cake (one or two tier) for photos. Then serve sheet cake to guests.
- Keep the cake add-ons simple.
- Consider cookies or cupcakes instead of a cake.
- Schedule the wedding in off-peak times (low demand seasons). When there’s less competition for dates, you can have more negotiating power for a better rate. January and February weddings (excluding Valentine’s Day) are typically the least expensive.
- Choose a day other than Saturday. Friday and Sunday nights cost less than Saturday nights. Weeknights are cheaper options, too.
- Consider renting or borrowing a dress. Purchase used from a second hand store, as chances are, it’s only been worn once. Look on OnceWed.com, eBay, Craigslist, or Tradesy for used gowns as well.
- Shop sample sales for cheap wedding dresses. These sales typically happen once a year and are a great opportunity to find designer dresses at low prices.
- Skip the favors. It may be wise to skip the favors all together and donate to a charity instead.
According to a survey conducted by The Knot, the average couple spends $2,141 on flowers.
- Do it yourself. Make your own centerpieces by ordering wholesale flowers from places such as freshroses.com.
- Check out Costco. They have a variety of wedding flower packages at huge savings that can be shipped right to your doorstep. However, keep in mind that Costco’s flower department is not an official florist so there may be limitations in what you can order.
- Stick to just one or two kinds of flowers in your bouquets and arrangements.
- Buy flowers that are in season.
- Compare buffet vs. sit-down pricing. Ask your caterer which are the least expensive entrees and whether a buffet is cheaper than a seated dinner.
- Limit the number of entrees. Perhaps one meat, one chicken, and one vegetarian selection.
- Try a combination plate. Eliminate a choice of entrée to save on your food bill.
- Be creative. Think outside of the typical wedding food options.
- Make it a daytime reception. It is always cheaper to to serve lunch than dinner. You’ll want to time your wedding away from a full meal, if possible.
*Perhaps the best way to save money on your wedding is to limit the guest list*
- The price difference between 150 guests and 100 guests is significant. Each extra person means higher catering costs (per person charge) and more centerpieces, rentals, etc. you’ll have to purchase.
- Don’t feel obligated to let single people bring a date.
- Skip the save-the-dates. They’re fun, but not necessary.
- Otherwise, email your save-the-dates to save on postage costs.
- Most photographers offer packages based on the amount of hours of work. If possible, send the photographer home early and pay for an hour less of service at the end of the party (some guests may have already left).
- Many photographers offer an assistant “second shooter” in their standard contracts, but others offer it as an option and charge extra.
- If you’re expecting fewer than 100 guests, you can get away with having only one photographer present.
- Choose a promising photographer who is just starting out. Many talented photographers are still building their portfolios and offer lower rates.
- Skip the lighting package. This includes uplights, spotlights, and other extras.
- Shop for packages. Many entertainment companies will give discounts if you sign up for multiple services (such as a DJ and videography)
- Hire a band or DJ who can do both the ceremony and the reception.
- If you’re having a photo booth, consider creating your own. Set up a simple backdrop and provide some fun props. Guests can use their phones or personal cameras to take pictures.
- Skip the DJ and use your monthly Spotify subscription for background music.
- Ask for non-wedding limo rates.
- Hire a car through Uber or other ride-sharing services.
- Consider a nontraditional venue.
- Find a venue that doesn’t require you to use their vendors.
- Have your ceremony and reception in the same place.
- Check out Airbnb for possible venue locations.
Super Savings For Your Super Bowl Experience
Since most of us don’t have $6,000 for a ticket to the big game, here’s a few tips on how to enjoy the game without breaking the bank.
- Ask your friends (guests) to bring their favorite Super Bowl foods to share with everyone
- Ask your friends/guests to BYOB
- Many grocery stores offer special discounts and prices on items like chips and soda
- Even if you’re not hosting a party, it is an excellent time to stock up on snack items
- Use coupons online or from the Sunday paper to capitalize on savings
- Buy food in bulk at places like Costco or BJ’s
- Put any leftovers in the freezer afterwards
- Instead of ordering pizza, cook one yourself
- Here is one pizza recipe to consider
- If you must order, check for deals at your local pizza restaurants
- Stick with big dish items that are inexpensive and easy to make
- Example: set up slow cookers with big servings of chili
- Beverage wise, soda and water are good choices
- Stick with big dish items that are inexpensive and easy to make
- Take a trip to your local dollar store
- Dollar stores have a lot of cheap decorations that can be used
- Party supplies, paper plates, plastic wrap, etc.
- Look for football themed decorations such as containers and dishes
- Dollar stores have a lot of cheap decorations that can be used
- Make your own decorations
- Wear the team colors with items you already have in your closet (rather than buying jerseys or t-shirts)
- If you must buy NFL-themed gear, check out the following sites:
If you are in the market for a new TV, there are some great deals to be had around this time of the year.
The following are some of the current TV deals going on:
- Amazon: TV Low Price Guarantee
- Best Buy: Up to 20% off Samsung TVs + more
- Consumer Reports Best Bargains
- LG Deals
- Target: Save big on TVs
If you can wait until after you game, however, there will probably be even better deals. At the end of February, new TV models are introduced so you may be able to get last year’s model at a bargain price!
It’s that time of the year again… the NY State Fair!
UPDATED FOR 2016!
Spending a day (or more) at the Fair can be an expensive outing (on average, visitors spend about $121). As the goal of this blog is to help save you money, I’ve compiled a list of ways to have a good time at the Fair without breaking the bank:
Tickets / Admission
- Advance sale tickets – Available through today (August 24) only – $6 for adults* (otherwise $10 at the gate)
- A full list of locations where these are sold can be found here
- Six-Day Frequent Fairgoer Admission Pass – allows one person to attend 6 days at the Fair for $30
- $3 admission Thursdays (August 25, September 1)
- Law Enforcement Day (August 26) – free admission to any active or retired law enforcement personnel
- Senior Citizen’s Day (August 29 and August 30) – free admission to senior citizens (60 years of age and older)
- Fire & Rescue Day (August 30) – free admission to any active or retired member of a fire department or emergency services organization
- Armed Forces Day (September 1) – free admission to any active duty or veteran with military identification
- Six Nations Day (September 2) – free admission for Native Americans
- Student Day (September 2) – free admission to those 18 years old and under
- Summer Send Off “Dollar Day” (September 5) – $1 admission on the last day of the fair
- This past February, the Fair sold $4 general admission tickets
*Children 12 and under are admitted free every day of the Fair*
Save on gas and parking (and hassle, too) by taking the bus!
Centro will once again provide its popular direct service to the New York State Fair. The 13 Park-N-Ride locations and schedules can be found here. Centro Ride Passes and transfers are accepted. For most of the locations, it is a $2 fare for adults (ages 10-64) and children 5 and under are free.
Money Saving Coupons
New this year!
Head over here to check out and download the State Fair Money Saving Coupons! The coupons include discounts on a variety of things including food, wine, bull riding, and more. These easy print at home coupons are the perfect way to save a buck.
- Wade Shows Midway Monday (August 29) – Special limited wristband offer, 10 rides for only $10.00.
- Midway Mega Pass Unlimited Ride Wristband Vouchers – $70.00 each for unlimited rides (all day, every day)
- Midway One-Day Unlimited Ride Wristband Vouchers – $20 or $25 each (all day, any one day)
Perhaps the best FREE concert series in America, the Chevy Court stage will host 23 free concerts this year from artists like Kesha, Daughtry, Dashboard Confessional, Chicago, and more.
For $2, you can visit the SkyRiver Butterfly Exhibit, where you can hold a butterfly on a q-tip.
The PAW Patrol Roll Patrol Road Tour is held on Friday, September 2 to Sunday, September 4 in the Family Fun Center near the Youth Building. There is no charge to take part in the tour.
There are dozens of other attractions at the New York State Fair that are displayed here, including free shows and exhibits.
Food / Drink
- Get a delicious 7 ounce cup of chocolate or white milk for 25 cents at the Rainbow Milk Bar (Dairy Building)
- Baked Potato
- Get a baked potato with toppings for only $1 at the Potato Booth (NE corner of Horticulture Building)
- Hot Dogs
- There are various food stands that offer $1 hot dogs (i.e. Emmi’s Hots)
- Ice Cream
- Utica Coffee Company offers $1 ice cream scoops
- Several ice cream stands offer mini-cones for $1
- Turkey Hill is handing out free carmel-peanut butter gelato cups this year
- Other $2 and under choices
- Las Delicias – Chicken Empanadas ($2)
- Several stands sell 12-ounce cans of soda for a dollar
- Chicken tenders – The Hofmann Hot Dogs/Twin Trees Restaurant stand offers tenders for $1 (Hot dogs and water, too)
Bonus tip: If you go on a hot day and/or tend to get thirsty often, plan on purchasing from a vendor who offers free refills. For example, you pay $10 upfront but get unlimited refills throughout the day.
Summer Send Off “Dollar Day”
- Adult admission to the Fair will be $1.00 per person all day (September 5)
- All of the rides in the Wade Shows Midway will be $1.00 per ride
- Vendors will be offering $1.00 specials on food, drink, and merchandise
- There will be also be a fireworks show after the Chicago concert
Do you know of any other ways to save money at the Fair? Please comment below 🙂
Have you recently purchased any new Blu-ray movies? Check inside for Digital HD (Ultraviolet) codes!
My Tip: *Sell these codes*
New releases tend to sell better than older movies, but you can except to get $2 – $8 depending on the title. Doing so helps to get some of your initial investment back on the purchase of the movie. Also, this often makes it a better idea to get the Blu-ray version rather than the regular DVD.
From a buying perspective, purchasing these codes can save you money. Although you won’t have the physical copy, you’ll have a digital copy that you can watch over and over again.