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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Books {Week 28)

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

As you well know, we’re book lovers around here. But we rarely pay full price for books. In fact, usually when we buy books, we get them for pennies on the dollar — mostly by buying them used.

Here are some of our favorite ways to find great deals on used books:

1) Amazon

If you’re planning to purchase a book for yourself on Amazon, always check for the price of buying a used copy versus a new copy. If the book has been out for a few years, chances are that you’ll be able to find a used copy for less than $0.01. All you’ll have to pay is a few dollars for shipping!

Note: Don’t forget to sign up for Swagbucks so you can earn free Amazon gift cards toward more books. You can really stretch the gift cards when you buy used books!

2) Dollar Tree

You never know what you’re going to find at Dollar Tree, but I’ve come across a few really great titles over the years. So I recommend always scanning the bookshelves at Dollar Tree when you’re in there. Paying just $1 for a brand-new book — especially if it’s a title you’ve been hoping to read — can be a great bargain!

3) Barnes & Noble

You can also check Barnes & Noble’s Marketplace for good deals on used books. You can get a copy of many different used books for around $5 shipped — which is typically 50% to 75% off the price of buying new.

Note: Be sure to so that you’ll get cashback on your purchase!

4) Thrift Stores

I haven’t had as great success at finding really amazing books at thrift stores, but I know many of my friends have. So maybe I’m just going to the wrong stores or at the wrong times?!

5) PaperBackSwap

I love swapping books through PaperBackSwap. I recommend adding books you want to your wishlist, as this is the way I’ve had the most success in getting copies of books. Sometimes I’ve had to wait a year or two, but it was worth it since it saved so much money!

Note: For more tips on using PaperBackSwap, be sure to read this article.

6) Used Book Sales

The favorite of all us book lovers! Used Book Sales are a goldmine of good deals. But if you want to get the best deals, you need to have a plan of action. This article outlines a lot of great suggestions for maximizing the mileage of your money at used book sales.

Want to Save Even More?

Check out my article on 5 Ways to Get Books for Free. Also, don’t forget that you can download a variety of books for free each week through If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app to your device or PC and read the books for free.

What are your favorite ways to find deals on used books? I’d love to hear!

52 Different Ways to Save At Least $100 Per Year: Shop at Aldi {Week 27}

How We Save Close to $1,000 Per Year by Shopping at Aldi

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

10 years ago, I stepped foot into Aldi for the first time in my life — and I was pretty much instantly sold. Since then, we’ve saved thousands of dollars by regularly shopping at Aldi.

In fact, I estimate that we save at least $15-$20 per trip every time we shop at Aldi. That adds up to around $780 to $1,040 in savings per year — or at least $9,000 in 10 years. That’s certainly not something to sneeze at!

Here are three reasons I think everyone should consider shopping at Aldi:

1. They Have Regular Low Prices

One of the best reasons to shop at Aldi is that their regular prices are almost always lower than you’re going to find at most any other grocery store. I love that I can count on these low prices. Without ever looking at a sales flier or clipping a coupon, I can see significant savings on my grocery bill.

2. They Have Amazing Produce Sales

Seriously, the Aldi produce sales can be incredible, sometimes even bordering on crazy low! I typically buy the most of whatever produce they have on special buys. If possible, I’ll buy extras to freeze, too.

As they rotate their rock-bottom produce sales every week or two weeks, we can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables — all at a fraction of the cost.

If you find that your Aldi consistently has a poor selection of produce, you can also price-match the produce sales at Walmart. This allows you to still benefit from the amazing sales, while almost guaranteeing that the produce selection will be in stock and high quality.

3. They Don’t Offer a Lot of Variety

At first glance, this might seem like a negative not a positive. But hear me out.

I love the fact that I don’t have to choose between 57 different varieties of cereal when I go to Aldi. There are just a few choices and they are pretty much all completely different.

There aren’t different brands, sizes, or choices that can make your head spin. Instead, what you see is what you get.

For me, this is incredibly freeing as it simplifies shopping. I can run in and run out of Aldi in nothing flat because I don’t have to compare ingredients or cost per ounce. I just pop the one kind they carry into my cart and move onto the next item on my list.

Recommended Resources

Need more convincing? Check out .

If you’ve not read , I’d recommend it. I especially loved Carrie’s one-month of Aldi menu ideas in the ebook. For more Aldi menu ideas, check out .

Also, I’d suggest . They offer budget-friendly Aldi menu plans. Best of all, all the work is done for you — you just print the grocery list, shop, and cook! Find an  to make it even more affordable!

Be Strategic: Stick With Staples

If you want to successfully save money by shopping at Aldi, you’ve got to stick with buying staples. I know that pop-tarts and chicken nuggets might be less expensive than their regular grocery store counterparts, but they are a lot more expensive than it is if you just buy chicken breasts or ingredients to make muffins.

So skip the pre-packaged stuff and fill your cart with staples. Not only will you probably be eating a more wholesome diet, but your pocketbook will also benefit a lot.

Try Things at Least Once

If you’re leery of shopping at Aldi, don’t be. Just be courageous and go check out your local Aldi store. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised! You can see a list of some of my readers’ favorite things to buy at Aldi here.

(Tip: If you have multiple Aldi locations in your area, visit each of them to check them out. Sometimes, the cleanliness and product availability can vary widely from store to store.)

Not every single item will be something your family loves, but commit to trying things at least once. After all, you can’t knock something until you’ve tried it!

Are you a fan of Aldi? Why or why not? I’d love to hear!

52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites {Week 26}

How to Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites to Save Hundreds Each Year

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One way we stretch our dollars is by buying deals from daily deal sites. They can be a way to get amazing deals on restaurants, local attractions, family fun, local stores, and more!

Here are three things to keep in mind when shopping through daily deal sites:

1. Stick With Your Budget

I don’t care how good the deal is, if you can’t afford it, it’s not a good deal for you. Daily deal sites only save you money when you actually buy deals that are for things you will use and have room in your budget for.

For instance, if you allot a $50 monthly budget for eating out/family fun, you can stretch those dollars much further by buying or for restaurants, bowling, and local attractions. But you still have to stick with the $50 budget.

No cheating is allowed just because it’s a “great deal.” Otherwise, you’ve defeated the purpose and it’s not saving you money but encouraging you to spend more money.

How to Save $100+ Per Year

If you want to guarantee that you save $100 per year by using daily deal sites, cut your current eating out and entertainment budget by $10 per month for the next year and try to make the lower budget stretch with vouchers from deal sites. Unless you live in small town or you are really particular about what types of restaurants you’ll eat at or things you like to do as a family, I bet you can make the reduced budget work just fine!

2. Read the Fineprint

Always, always, always read the fineprint carefully before purchasing a voucher. Check the details on whether there’s a purchase minimum. Be sure that the voucher is good at your local store. And double-check that you’ll actually use the voucher before it expires.

One good thing about is that they have amazing customer service and money-back guarantees. So if you do end up accidentally buying something that isn’t what you thought it was, you can usually get your money back. But I still recommend reading the fineprint with a fine-toothed comb and then taking a little time to think through the purchase and make sure it’s a good use of your money.

3. Shop Through

Once you’ve determined that the voucher is, indeed, a good deal for you, be sure to If you’re unfamiliar with , basically it’s a site that rewards you with a small percentage of cashback on your online purchases. All you have to do is sign up for an account and then go to , search for the online store you’re planning to purchase from, and click through to the site to make your purchase.

You’ll usually receive anywhere from 3% to 8% cashback on each purchase. It might not seem like much, but I think it’s worth earning a few dollars in cash back for taking an extra 30 seconds to click through to Ebates.

Each quarter, Ebates will send you a check for your accumulated cashback amount earned over the past quarter. It’s always a fun little bonus — and it’s FREE money that you’re earning for making a purchase you were already planning to make!

My Top 4 Favorite Daily Deal Sites

What are your favorite daily deal sites? What tips and tricks do you have to add to my list?

(Note: The links in this post are my referral links. .)

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Plan a Weekly Menu {Week 25}

How to Plan a Menu (Plus, Free Printables!)

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Menu Planning Saves You Stress and Frustration

Do you dread 5 p.m. because it’s when you have to try to pull something together for dinner or feel guilty about ordering takeout yet again? Do you often find yourself running to the store at the last-minute in a frazzled state rushing through the aisles and throwing random things into your cart in hopes it will magically create a five-course dinner?

The truth is, you could throw away the 5 p.m. dread and almost completely eradicate the frazzled last-minute grocery store trips if you sat down at the beginning of the week and made a menu plan.

Menu Planning Saves You Money

I can’t even begin to calculate how much we’ve saved over the years through the simple act of menu planning.

By planning ahead and buying all the groceries we’ll need for the week in one shopping trip, we save numerous trips to the store throughout the week. In addition, when you have a plan in place for what you’re supposed to be eating each meal and you’ve already purchased the ingredients for those recipes, it’s a lot harder to justify chucking the plan for takeout.

There’s No Perfect Way to Menu Plan

Everyone is going to plan their menu a little bit differently — and that’s perfectly okay! What matters is that you do it, and that it works for your family.

For the record, I’ve tried multiple menu-planning methods. Some have worked better than others and some have worked better for us in certain seasons than in other seasons.

from Gifts We Use

My Current Menu-Planning “Method”

I always start by planning my menu around what I have on hand and what’s on sale at the store. I’ve found that freezer cooking definitely makes menu planning easier since it means you have meals already in the freezer ready to go.

I also keep a running list of . I always consult this when making our weekly menu plan to get some fresh ideas and inspiration.

Finally, I add in things that I know I can get inexpensively — either at Aldi or elsewhere. I’m so thankful we have the luxury of having an Aldi close by!

There are times when my cupboards and freezers are pretty bare and it seems the sales are sparse. If that’s the case, I see how much grocery money I have to work with, and I usually pull out some cookbooks to get the wheels in my head going. Or I’ll go to some of my favorite food blogs for ideas. (You can also check out for a plethora of menu ideas from around the blogosphere.)

We keep our meals simple around here, so that makes menu-planning a lot easier. I also pretty much never follow the menu plan to a tee — I’ll usually shuffle some things around, nix a recipe or two for lack of time or because I discovered another recipe that I think will work better.

Find a Method That Works For You

You might find it helpful to take 30 minutes and to serve as inspiration if you’re ever feeling a lack of creativity while menu-planning.

Or, you could have pre-established themes for dinners each week. Tsh, over at , does this and :

Mondays – pasta
Tuesdays – soup, salad, and/or sandwiches
Wednesdays – stir fry
Thursdays – crock pot
Fridays – pizza
Saturdays – something new
Sundays – something easy

Jenna from left a comment sharing how she plans her menus:

I try to plan two meals around items I already have at home in the pantry or freezer, and then plan some meals based on what’s on sale, and some based on what we would like to eat. I keep my plan flexible and allow for anything that will pop up. I also like to keep items on hand all the time for a few quick meals like taco soup and spaghetti. This way, if some comes up, I can whip these up in a jiffy. –

It might seem like a daunting task at first — especially if this is all new to you! — but don’t be overwhelmed. Do the best you can do and remember that it’s never going to be absolutely perfect. Over time, though, you’ll likely begin to realize significant savings just by taking a few extra steps and putting the effort forth to make a plan.

Free Menu Planning Worksheet and Grocery Shopping Lists

To aid you in your menu-planning and grocery-list-making, and I put together some free downloads for you. (By the way, Joy put together a snazzy free downloads page here so you can access all the free downloads we currently have available. Enjoy!)

Meal Planning Worksheet :: This brainstorming form contains spaces to write down store deals, coupons, items on hand, and recipes that can be made from those items.

:: Contains space for the items to purchase, the cost of the item, whether there is a coupon for it, and how much the coupon is for. Also includes a space for notes where you can record extra information about your shopping trip.

:: Two separate shopping lists on one page, each of which includes space for the items to purchase, the cost of the item, and whether there is a coupon for it. Also includes a space for notes where you can record extra information about your shopping trip.

Psst! If you don’t have the time or energy to mess with planning a menu, but you really would like to benefit from the organization and cost-savings of having a menu plan, I’d recommend .


Do you have some menu-planning tips & tricks to add to my list?

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Coupon Database {Week 24}

December212012® Coupon Database

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Coupons are a great way to save a lot of money on your grocery bill, but they can be hard to keep up with. Clipping, sorting, and organizing coupons takes time — time that you might not feel you have right now.

Well, don’t despair! I have a very simple tip for you today to help be able to use coupons even if you don’t want to mess with buying the newspaper, clipping the coupons, and keeping them all organized.

Enter, the coupon database. This is a database of all printable and other coupons currently available.

You can access the coupon database at the top of this blog under the “Coupons” header.

You can search for any brand name or item name. For instance, you can search for bread and it will pull up all bread coupons available. Or, you can search for a specific brand name, such as “Nature’s Own bread” and will only pull up the coupons available for Nature’s Own bread (if there are any available).

Save Money on Groceries in Less Than 10 Minutes Each Week

The coupon database is one of the most effective and efficient ways to save money on groceries. Just plan your menu and grocery list and then, before heading to the store, search the coupon database for items you’re already planning to buy. In less than 10 minutes, you can print coupons for what you were already going to buy and easily save at least $5 for 10 minutes’ of effort (or less!).

If you have time, also check the deals at your local stores on your favorite local blog site. These two things can take you less than 15 minutes total and can save you at least $10 per week on your grocery bill. That’s the equivalent of saving $40 per hour — and it’s tax free money!

Even if you don’t have time to spend on extensive couponing, you can still save money by using coupons. Best of all, when you print coupons for things you were already planning to buy, you know that your time was well spent since you’re not chasing down deals on things you may not end up using!

 Do you have any time-saving tips for effectively using coupons?

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Follow a Local Deal Blogger {Week 23}

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One simple way to save at least $5 to $10 each week without spending a lot of time and effort is to follow a local deal blogger. This is someone who lives in your area who covers the deals at your local store, as well as who alerts you to special sales, clearances, and even free events and other tips on bargains in your city.

There are a few such bloggers in my area and I save a lot of money thanks to their tips. Plus, I love that they do all the legwork to match the coupons and sales at my local grocery stores.

Before I go shopping, I always check their complete coupon match-ups and it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll find a few deals that are going to save me at least $3-$5 extra dollars — often more! Best of all, I don’t have to spend time matching coupons and sales, so it saves me an amazing amount of time.

How to Find a Local Deal Blogger

When I talk about finding a local coupon blogger, the first question people always ask is, “Yes, but how do I find one in my local area?” I suggest starting by searching for your local city/town + “coupon matchups” or “deal blogger”.

If that doesn’t pull anything up, try searching for the towns around you. If you live in a very small town, you might not find anything, but if you live in a decent-sized town, there’s a good chance you’ll find someone — maybe even multiple bloggers!

If you still can’t find anything, then search your store’s name and “coupon match-ups” or “deal blogger”. You should definitely find something with that search. You can also check out our Store Deals section to find a blogger who is covering the deals at the stores you shop at regularly.

Once you find some bloggers who you think might be a good possibility, go ahead and sign up for their email newsletter or subscribe to their blog. Follow them for a few weeks and you’ll get a good idea if they are a good fit or not for the types of deals you are looking for.

Can’t Find a Blogger? Create Your Own Frugal Network!

If you can’t find a blogger in your area, don’t fret. Consider starting your own blog or just creating your own frugal network.

Ask some of your local friends who are interested in saving money if they’d partner together with you to share deals they find and pass along any bargains they come across. You could have an email list, private forum, or Facebook Page.

It’s amazing how effective working together to help everyone save money can be. Plus, you might take your frugal network a little farther and set up a frugal club. You can read more about how this might work here.

Remember: Just Because It’s a Great Price, Doesn’t Mean It’s a Good Deal for YOU

Following deal blogs can save you a lot of money, but you need to be careful that you don’t spend a lot of extra money or time chasing “bargains”. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to check to make sure you can afford something in your budget. In addition, when other people are all thrilled about a deal, it’s easy to forget to carefully think through whether you need to buy the item.

So just make sure that following deal blogs doesn’t actually encourage you to spend more money than you would otherwise. As I always say, just because something’s a good price doesn’t mean it’s a great deal for you.

Do you have a local deal blog? If so, tell us what area it’s for and share the link to it in the comments!