frugal hacks

I have been in the business of frugality for many years, starting in my early teens when I began to earn and manage my own money. Blogging about frugal decadence was a natural extension of both my passions for frugality as well as writing. Since beginning my blog four and a half years ago, I have scoured the web, talked with people, and learned many valuable ways to stretch my money even further than I thought possible. Because of honing in on this one particular subject, I am oftentimes no longer surprised with the usual saving-money-tips I come across. So nowadays when I find a new way to score something quality for cheap, or to otherwise hack the normal way of doing things in my favor, I get really excited.

When I find a new way to score something quality for cheap, or frugal hacks, I get really excited. Click To Tweet

Let me share with you some of my favorite, newly acquired frugal hacks in the hopes that you learn something new as well. And if you have any you’d like to share in the comments below, I would love to learn from you!

A hill of beans
Cartoon courtesy of Cartoon Resource.

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Score Free Money to Pay Down Your Student Loan Debt

You have probably heard of Upromise, an awesome program where companies will kick back a percentage of your purchases into a college savings account for an up-and-coming college student. I signed up for this program in 2002 for my niece, and have since accumulated $182 in free money to put towards her college tuition (or rather, to pay for a few textbooks). What you may be surprised to learn—I know I was—is that if you have student loan debt from certain providers then you can open an account for yourself! Link a loan through Upromise Loan Link, and each time your account accumulates the threshold of $10, then free money will automatically be put towards your own student loan debt.

Find Higher Quality Items By Choosing the Right Thrift Store

I both donate to and shop at thrift stores. One of my favorite tips, aside from shopping on their “sales” days, is to go to thrift stores in higher-income areas. It turns out that you can find higher quality items in these neighborhoods versus thrift stores located in lower-income areas.

Order Cold Subs to Avoid Paying Tax

Until recently, I had no idea that there was a sales tax difference between purchasing a cold sub versus a hot sub at sandwich shops. It turns out that if you purchase a hot sub, then you will pay sales tax for it. However, if you order a cold sub, you will not pay sales taxes on it. Some sources say that you must also purchase the cold sub to go, versus eating it in the shop in order to not be charged the sales tax, but I have no confirmed this.

Score Truly Free Digital Prints (i.e. Pay No Shipping/Handling)

I love free digital print deals like the next person. However, many of them come with hefty shipping and handling charges (try calculating the per-print cost of “free” digital print deals from the shipping and handling charges to make sure you are truly getting a deal). The solution to this is by picking the photos up yourself at a local photo center. I recently did this with a free 8X10 photo collage I got at Walgreens.com. I simply checked a box to pick up in the store nearest to our house, and the total was $0.00. Not every site will allow you to do this, but it’s worth a try.

Earning Free College Credits

Other than taking Advanced Placement courses in high school to receive college credit and/or getting a free ride on scholarships and grants, I had no idea that you could potentially earn college credit for free. Recently, I found this website where you can do just that. Before you get too excited, you need to make sure that your college will accept CLEP credit. I searched for the college where I graduated, and they do not accept CLEP credit. However, I found several universities that I know that do accept it. Imagine if you could shave an entire semester worth of costs off by taking an extra class online each summer?

Source Cheap Plants for Your Home for Years to Come

By now you might know about the clearance sections at Lowe’s, Home Depot’s, or other gardening centers. If not, be sure to ask someone at a cash register if they have an area where they keep their less-than-desirable plants to sell for clearance. To take this even a step further, keep on the lookout for perennial plants in the clearance section. I was able to score two perennial plants that had already flowered for a great price of $1.00. These were planted along the side of our house, and will hopefully keep coming back year after year.

Grab Cheap Holiday Swag for Next Year

I’ve discussed this one before, but it’s such a great way to keep money in your pocket that it’s worth a mention again. A simple way to snag the more expensive holiday items at 75-90% off is to purchase next year’s holiday decorations, cards, wrapping paper, etc. in the after-holiday sale this season. In the wintertime, if you find yourself grocery shopping or returning a gift, take the time to peruse the seasonal aisle as well. This is how I scored beautiful Christmas cards (the really high-quality kind) at 85% off two years ago, and thick wrapping paper for around the same discount. It’s an amazing way to save on seasonal items, and when you unpack it from the closet next year, you will be pleasantly surprised.

16 replies
  1. John @ Cough up the dough
    John @ Cough up the dough says:

    Another good tip for scoring some really good plants at basement prices, if you google plant hire firms, call them up and see if they have any ex rentals they are looking to get rid of, they’ll often give them away for free because they were going to get put in the trash anyway because they had a few leaves with bits missing, thats all. They looked perfect to me.

    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Intriguing John–thank you for sharing! I will definitely check one of these places out. I have never even heard of renting plants…but I guess you can rent just about anything.

  2. Pauline
    Pauline says:

    That’s weird about the subs. When I worked at McD there was a tax rate to go, in line with supermarket food and a higher one to stay, in line with restaurants.

  3. KC @ genxfinance
    KC @ genxfinance says:

    My wife and I love to go to thrift stores. You can get the same quality for a lesser price. And yeah, it’s a weird thing about the subs. And will check more about this upromise software too.

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