Thursday, April 9, 2009


As things continue to go precipitously downhill, TEAM CHEAPIOSITY reminds you not to overspend. Some ideas are new, some recycled, but we offer this sound advice intended to save you plenty of dosh.

Afternoon snacks. Instead of impulsively spending 2 or 3 bucks on that candy bar, energy bar, or a bag of chips, satisfy that hunger with some pre-planning. Buy your treats in bulk or at the grocery store and bring them along with you. No shame in brownbagging it. Not with the big bad wolf banging at recession's door. And while you're economizing, don't forget healthier (and cheaper) alternatives like an apple, orange, cheese sticks, carrots… get the picture. We're not your mother. Nag, nag, nag.

Bottled water. Yes. It’s important to drink a lot of water (and certainly better for you than soda) but buying bottles of water is a colossal waste of your hard-earned money. Not to mention, the news is filled with health concerns about toxic plastics leeching into your system. If your workplace provides you with filtered water, then bring a cup to work and fill it there; if you still want your bottle, you can refill it as long as you periodically and thoroughly wash the reused container. At home, it's worth investing in a water filter system, either built-in or portable (Brita and Pur for example). Bottled water companies are unregulated, and you just may be paying a premium for fancily packaged municipal water right from the tap. Do what the bottled water companies do; filter it yourself. Stay hydrated; don't get soaked.

A caffeine fix. Direct from our Department of Redundancy Department, a reminder to read last year's post on coffee: We can't say it any better. We're just that good.

Favorite tunes. Don’t rush out and buy the latest CD; download it from iTunes or other web providers. Downloading music is cheaper, faster and convenient. All this convenience can cost you. Be careful not to make lots of impulse buys you might regret later. And if you're good at bargain hunting, consider buying used CD's at local purveyors or online through eBay or Amazon Marketplace. Make sure to figure in shipping costs and quality assurances before making any purchases.

A night at the movies. Going to the movies has become a mighty expensive proposition. Yes, we know -- nothing quite replaces the big screen experience, but this just might be a time to cut some corners. What with gas, babysitters, skyrocketing admission prices, parking, and overpriced treats, date night at the multiplex can run up quite a tab. Think about joining Netflix or Blockbuster online. Oh sure, you may not feel on top of every hotbutton water cooler conversation, but you can catch all the trailers for free online and stay on top of the zeitgeist. Besides, most films are released on DVD only three months after their bigscreen runs. For considerably less than the cost of going to the movies, you can rent (or even own) the DVD and watch it multiple times with friends and family. If you only see a movie once a month, consider using On Demand from your cable or satellite company; most current features cost $3.99 or less. If you're a teenager, nothing we tell you will make any difference. Go. Spend. Hang out. It's only money, and you're only young once. See Watchmen six times. See what we care.

Fresh flowers. Buying flowers from a florist gets expensive. Try flowering plants that last longer or buy flowers from your grocery store, Trader Joe’s (if you're lucky enough to have one in your area) or your local flower mart. You’d be surprised at the drastic price difference.

Fruits and veggies. Everybody likes the idea and ease of pre-cut fruits and veggies, but the convenience adds a lot onto the cost. Go back to the old fashioned way. Cut them yourself and save money. They taste better too.

Credit-card fees. Every month, your friendly credit card company rips you off with finance charges and fees. Take a long hard look at what your credit is costing you; reevaluate whether or not you are overpaying. Make sure you’re using the card that’s right and cheapest for you. Many websites will do credit card fee comparisions (,, etc.) As we’ve mentioned before, your finance charge percentage is negotiable. Negotiate. Come on. Make the call. Advocate for yourself. Be smart.

ATM fees. Another rip-off from your bank. Be sure to use ‘in network’ ATMs and save those fees. They add up to real money. Use your debit card at grocery stores and get cashback without a fee.

FAX and mail services. If you don't have internet, you're not reading this so we don't have to hold your hand. Instead of paying your local mailbox store $1.49 to FAX a page, sign up to send free FAXes from an online provider such as faxZero or or
If you don't have access to a FAX machine, you can always scan and attach your documents to an email.
As far as sending mail or packages, the US Postal Service is still the cheapest way to send a letter. However, when it comes to packages, it’s a slightly different story. If you use a USPS Priority Mail flat rate container and the contents are heavy, then that’s your next best buy. After that, think ground as in FedEx or UPS. We have found that FedEx usually beats out UPS price-wise. Ground service takes about 5 business days for the farthest location and much less if your destination is closer. If your package is traveling within your State, ground service can take 1 day to arrive without paying expensive overnight rate. All carriers will give you price and transit time estimates, so shop around.

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