Aug 6, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

The Groupon Dilemma

I remember finding out about Groupon in 2008 from a girl that I worked with. None of my friends had heard of it, and they all thought I was a genius for finding a way to save 50% off of haircuts, dinners out, etc. Since then, the Groupon craze has taken over the nation (even the world) and there’s Living Social, Buywithme, Dealfind, Dailydeals, and a host of other Groupon-like services.

The groupon-craze is still going strong, but I notice that I’ve been buying less and less of these deals. Here’s why:

To me, Groupons have become a False Saving. I define False Saving as something that looks live a deal, acts like a deal but it doesn’t actually leave more $$ in your bank account.

Groupon is still an awesome concept. But just like Communism, Nair and plenty of other awesome concepts, the implemenation is not so hot.

For now, I mostly buy Groupons when they run their “Refer a Friend, Get $30″ Special.

Oct 13, 2014 - CheaperestHome    No Comments

Homemade Haircuts – Is it doable?

Last night, I stood in the mirror and checked out my frizzy dull brown hair and thought, “if I only could get great hair…then everything in my life would be magically fixed.”

Seriously though, there’s something about people and their hair that causes them to put copious amounts of money, time and energy into getting the perfect haircut, dye job, stylist, salon, etc.

And somehow, because it’s our hair, we never think of cutting the costs. Sure, we’ll buy generic toilet paper or take the bus to work to save money on parking, but cancel our $150 cut and dye appointment? Never!

So yesterday, as I stood in the mirror and shamefully started scheming how to afford a truly magnificent hairdo, I suddenly realized this would be a perfect Cheaperest post!

Is it possible to minimize, or completely do away with, all spendings related to my hair?

To figure out how much I spent on my hair, I figured out that I get a haircut every 2 months. At full price, that’s $40/haircut(Obviously, being the Cheaperest gal that I am, I never pay full price…but for the sake of math, let’s say I do). So we’re talking $240 a year, for haircuts. Then, let’s calculate hair-dye. Let’s say you’re a roots-friendly kind of person, and you only dye your hair every three months (Yikes, those are some BAD roots!), and for the sake of single-process color ladies, we’ll average the cost to be $85/per visit. That’s $340 a year. Now we’re at $580. Let’s add in some tips. If you’re a jerk, you’re tipping 10% ($58) but if you’re like most salon-going ladies, you’re tipping 20% ($116). For the sake of our calculations, we’ll say your tipping total for the year is $87 (a solid 15%), which leaves you at $667 for your yearly cost of getting your hair done.

Now, I decided to realistically figure out how many days of the year my hair actually looks good (i.e. is styled or worn down)…hmm…maybe 24 days out of the year? (remember I work from home, so my hair’s default setting is clipped up and dirty. You may work in a ritzy office and do your hair every single day. In that case, this equation is going to be a lot kinder to you.

So, my 24 days of moderately-good-looking-hair is costing me $667. That’s almost $30/day. And I’m not even talking a professional blow-out or french twist scenario. I’m talking me with my flat iron, trying to maintain some dignity!

So enough about the problem – here’s the Cheaperest solution:


Yes, I’m being serious. Unless you are actually working in a job that requires devilishly stylish hair every single day, you probably don’t need all of the hair treatments that you’re getting.

For starters, invest in a good trimmer and start cutting your husbands hair. It’s really not that difficult and nothing that a few google searches can’t help you with.

Then, if you’re still not ready for the giant leap of all-out-home-hair, decide what’s more important to you – perfectly chopped locks or dazzling color? Let’s say you’re pretty commited to getting a bob from your chic stylist…then do your dye job at home. You can buy salon-quality color at a beauty supply store. More importantly, if you do a strand test at home, you’re going to have more control over your results than you would at a salon. (CHEAPEREST alternative – save $$ by learning to love your natural haircolor)

If you love the hues you’re getting done professionally, then pick a haircut that is easy to maintain (skip bangs) and learn how to cut your own hair. Or even better, find a scissor happy buddy and give each other haircuts.

Before you know it, you’re gonna have a fat wallet and fabulous hair.



May 12, 2013 - CheaperestFinance    1 Comment

Sometimes simply asking to lower bill payment does the trick

I know this is going to be a similar type of post to the one I wrote few years ago about Comcast and T-mobile, but did you know you can save $120 a year by simply asking for a discount for your Dish Network subscription?

My parents have been subscribers to Dish for a couple years now. They have been happy with them most of the time, with sporadic exceptions when the weather was pretty bad, which made the receiver lose signal once in a while—how annoying it must be! As based on my experience from T-mobile and Comcast, and luck thus far, I wondered if it would be possible to shave off couple bucks off of their bill.

To do that, I went on live chat on their website, and asked to be transferred to the retention department. I politely asked if they could offer me some sort of discount given my parents have been with them for a couple years. Immediately upon typing my question, the rep offered me a $10/month credit for the next 12 months without renewing contract with them.

This is a total of $120 annual savings which took me literary less than 10 minutes to get! And I did that by asking to lower the bill!

I think the key to get this type of discounts is to pay the bill on time and be polite. It worked for me, so I hope it will work for one of you, too!

Sep 29, 2011 - CheaperestFood    1 Comment

Extra Fluffy Banana Pancakes! A Cheaperest Bonanza!

We’re both getting a little sick of cereal (which isn’t really that cheap if you’re buying healthy, fiber-full cereal and soy milk like we are!) so we decided to spice things up a little this week.
Enter the Extra Fluffy Banana Pancake!

****Cheaperest find alert***** we found the most amazing mix at Walmart (it kills me to compliment Walmart but in this case, I have to). It’s called Extra Fluffy Pancakes, but it also comes in Blueberry and Buttermilk…and it costs $1.47! No lie. And that’s your total cost, because you only have to add water and Bam! you have 15 servings of Extra Fluffy Pancakes. Now, head to the produce aisle and pick up two bananas ($0.25) and you have a weeks worth of deliciousness for breakfast, for two people.
If you have some spare chocolate, walnuts or coconut lying around, chuck them in! This is a great way to use up bits of spare ingredients!

I’m sure a lot of you have already experienced the mind-blowing wonderfulness that is Banana Pancakes, but this is truly a Cheaperest deal. #1: It’s Cheap #2: It’s Easy #3: It’s a very small Time Investment #4: It’s a Quality experience.

Sep 28, 2011 - CheaperestShopping    3 Comments

Second Hand Shopping – Is it really saving you money?

I have always been a huge fan of the Thrift Store. One of my earliest memories is at the Lemon Grove Salvation Army in San Diego, CA with all my friends, cruising for quality labels at dirt cheap prices.

I was five.

My mom trained us to know which labels were good quality, what her size was (and the sizes of all her friends) and what colors she would wear. Needless to say, my mom is the Empress of Second Hand Shopping.

Even though I still love a good pop into the Goodwill in South Boston, I notice that I am less and less a fan of Second Hand Shopping. The more concious I am of the difference between Actual Savings and False Savings, the more dubious I am of heading to the Goodwill. Here are #5 tips to keep in mind the next time you’re doing some discount digging.

A second hand that's a Cheaperest Idea!

#1: Shop Quality, not Quantity

The most important thing my mom taught me about second hand shopping is to Know Your Brands. A White Stag shirt for $1.50 might seem like a better deal than a Classiques Entier Atelier shirt for $6. But if you know your brands, you know that White Stag is a Walmart brand (think $6 new), and Classiques is a Nordstrom brand ($85 new). If you’re just shopping for the cheapest possible items, you’re better off buying new at Marshalls or TJ Maxx, since you can get more wear out a brand new item.

Obviously, it would be impossible to know every single brand (unless you’re my mother, in which case, stop stalking my blog) but there’s easy ways to figure out quality, like becoming familiar with the difference in quality fabrics, checking seams and buttons, or using the iPhone (my personal fav). My iPhone recently helped me score a Brooks Brothers purse from a local consignment shop in mint condition for $32. ($279 new). Enough said.

#2: Be Realistic with Yourself

No, you don’t need lime-green stockings, funky lamps from the 1970s with broken shades, a wall painting of the Dalai Lama or ANY stuffed animals (no matter the size or shape). Do not under any circumstances buy VHS tapes, audio tapes or CDs. Give me a break.

#3: Alterations = A Time Expense

This is a sub-section of Be Realistic with Yourself. If you need to fix it, hem it, or alter the item in any way, ask yourself if A. you’re actually ever going to do it B. the time investment will be worth the financial (or personal) savings. The path to financial hell is paved with intended alterations.

#4: Stick to a Budget

I know how easy it is to lose track of time when you find a really great thrift store. You’re flinging clothes right and left, creating a Hold pile in the corner and yelling into your phone about the amazing Feragamos you just found for half price…and in the wrong size. Yeah,you’re having a blast…but pretty soon, three hours have gone by and you have two carts full of purchases. Suddenly, you’re not having fun anymore, and you’re no longer saving time or money. Give yourself a time budget (35 minutes) and a cash budget ($25) and have a blast. Then go home, exactly thirty five minutes later.

Have any superb second hand finds you want to share?? Any thrift store horror stories?

Sep 27, 2011 - CheaperestFinance    No Comments

Get that discount from your cell phone provider!

I just wanted to share with you how I was able to shave off 15% of off my cell phone bill.

Not many people know that you can get a discount from your cell phone provider if you are a student, or simply work for a “big” company. I have HTC Sensation Android cell phone (Unlimited data/text) with T-mobile provider. The way to find out if you qualify is to simply call T-mobile Advantage department (1-877-453-8824) and ask them if there is a way for them to apply the discount to your already existing account. They will ask you what company do you work for or school you go to, and will try to “validate” this by asking to provide your manager’s phone number and/or your work e-mail. Because my company does not have any type of relationship with T-mobile, I have used my university e-mail address to qualify which worked out really well. It does not seem like they validate any of that information as I haven’t received any e-mail from them. Thus…you can probably get away by “pretending” to work or still go to school…

…which I do not recommend because there is always “what if—“ they would indeed validate the info you provide. I’m not sure what would happen then so I certainly don’t recommend laying to them! Nevertheless, it is worth trying and asking for a discount!

15% is going to save me around $17.50/month of off the bill for another two years which adds up to $414.

I’m sure Sprint and AT&T have similar discount program so this post does not only apply to T-mobile.

Let me know if it worked for you in the comments section!

Sep 27, 2011 - CheaperestFood    1 Comment

Lunch for Under $2!

$2 Enchiladas

The average American spends $8 a day on their lunch. That’s $40 for one work week (or your internet bill, a tank of gas, two dinners out) or $160 a month (just counting M-F). A lot of people assume that if they want to be healthy and feel satisfied after every meal, they can’t put a price limit on their food. WRONG.

Food can be your biggest expense…or your biggest savings.

In our house, we both have full time jobs. And we both feel the temptation every day to just go “grab some lunch.” We see our friends and co-workers eating at a different restaurant every day, and it definitely inspires a little jealousy. But here’s the thing – we don’t want $160 a month (EACH) just on lunch. There’s a lot of other really cool stuff we could do with that money.

So I bet myself that I could make us lunches for under $2. The lunches couldn’t be terribly unhealthy (i.e. poptarts) and they had to be satisfying. But keep in mind that when you’re getting a burrito or a sandwich, there’s not that much healthy food in there…yes, even if you order a few pieces of lettuce. On top of that, you don’t have any say about what goes into your food. Often, there’s a lot of hidden ingredients (I.e. butter, oil, animal fat) that you’re completely unaware of. The nice thing about cooking in your kitchen = your rules.

So this week we made Cheese Enchiladas with Mexican Rice. I tend to make a lot of meat-free items because let’s be honest – we’re sitting at our computers all day, not running marathons. We don’t need huge portions of protein, just enough food to keep us until dinner.

Price Breakdown for Cheese Enchiladas with Mexican Rice:

Red Enchilada Sauce (from Target) $0.89 X 2 jars = $1.78

Pack of 8 tortillas (from your local grocery store) $2.99

Shredded Cheese (from your local grocery store) $2.50

Spanish Rice (Rice-a-Roni style boxes on the Ethnic food aisle) $1.39 x 2 boxes = $2.88

1 large can of Diced Tomatoes (to mix into the rice) $1.19

This made us 7 big servings of Enchiladas and Rice. Total cost = $11.34.


*****If you want to make this even cheaper, cook your own Spanish rice.*******

******If you’re going to add Chicken or Beef to the enchiladas, add about $0.75/day******

The best thing about these enchiladas is they’re freaking delicious! Way better than plenty of Mexican restaurants I’ve eaten at, and a tiny fraction of the calories. There’s plenty of ways to spice these up too — try a green pepper and olive filling, or go wild and stuff some grilled tofu in there. You can sprinkle sliced olives on top, or put a dollop of sour cream I put a little bit of Sazon on the spanish rice and it added a nice kick.

Are there ways to make this cheaper? Any killer add-on ingredient?


Sep 26, 2011 - CheaperestFinance    No Comments

Save $180 in 20 Minutes

There’s a lot of speculation out there about ways to save money on your cable and internet bill. Anytime you’re dealing with a company like Comcast or Verizon, you know there’s a host of deals and coupons on the table that you have to figure out how to access. That can be the tricky part, and often people end up paying upwards of $100 for their cable and internet.

If you find yourself with twenty minutes to spare, here’s what we did, that saved us $180 (over a six month timeframe).

We currently have Comcast Premium Wireless. For the first six months, we paid $35 for it. After the six month promotional period expired, the bill went up to $60/month. $60+ was pretty much a 100%+ difference which neither one of us was too happy about.

As a result, we decided to cancel our service under her name, and sign up under mine, thus getting same 6 month promo period. To do that, my girlfriend called Comcast to cancel service with them and scheduled a date for the following week.

Right after her phone call, I called them to sign up for the new service so it would start one day after her scheduled ‘cancellation date’ to minimize our Internet interruption.

Surprisingly enough, a few days after her phone call, a Comcast rep called back to “see why she had cancelled.” My girlfriend explained about the 100% increase, and mentioned that Verizon was offering a $24.99/month deal for the same internet (not exactly true…but it worked!) The rep offered to extend the 6 month promotional period of $29.99 if she were to stay with them, which she accepted. I then called Comcast and cancelled my scheduled appointment for installation.

All these phone calls took us about twenty minutes total, and it will save us $180 over six months. That $30 a month could be a dinner out, a tank of gas or a month of lunches!

In the future (6 months from now), we will follow the same steps to save on the Internet. Even if the rep hadn’t called my girlfriend back to retain her as a customer, we will still be better off simply switching names every 6 months to continue receiving our discounted price on the Internet.

Anytime you see a competitor coupon offering cheaper internet or cable (even if it’s only for new customers or for slower internet) you can call your cable/internet provider and ask for a similar deal.

Here’s another interesting post about this same idea at My Money Blog.

Remember, there’s no harm in asking, and when in doubt, ask to cancel! You can always undo it later.