The Best Way To Manage Your Money

One of the most helpful tools I've found to track my spending is MINT.  Mint is a free online service that allows you to link up your credit cards, banks, investments and input assets to determine your net worth. It is read only and in the last year I've used it, I've never had any issues.
I love that I can log into ONE account to see an update of my expenditures and I can categorize and analyze them. For example, yesterday I realized that we're on track to spend $1643 this year on beer (we have a kegerator). That's more than we'll spend on groceries, which is on track to be about $1100 for the year. I also can see how much I make from rebates and secret shops by categorizing the payment checks.
So if you don't already use a budget tracker, I would highly recommend MINT.COM. You can sign up by clicking the banner or the link. Its free too.

Frugal Printer Toner Tip

Last night I was printing a few coupons and my low toner pop up came up on my PC. Its the first time I've seen that since I purchased my new Brother MFC7840 wireless laser printer around Valentines day. So I guess I'm close to the 2600 page limit of a toner cartridge. But who plans on replacing toner cartridges? I guess I usually do and have a spare for my other printer, a Samsung ML2010 that works just fine too - but its not wireless. Anyway, I need to start shopping around for a good deal on the toner, and see if I can get a coupon for one. The cartridge on Amazon is about $23 to $45 so I'll keep that in mind. I do have gift certificates I've earned from Swagbucks to cover the cost, so unless I get a really good deal somewhere else, that's where I'll buy.
But here's the frugal tip, actually two tips to make my toner last a little while longer while I shop and wait for a deal.
First, just remove the cartridge from the printer and shake it gently back and forth, side to side to spread the remaining powder ink around the chamber and redistribute it to areas where it can be used. This should give me at least 50 more copies.
The other tip is to fool the toner into thinking its not empty yet. The Toner Life LED light flips on and then the computer gets a pop up too, requesting you to replace the cartridge, even when there's still toner left in the cartridge. The machine detects end of life by shining a light through from one side to the other.

To circumvent the detection mechanism, remove the cartridge and put a piece of masking tape over the clear opening/circle on the right side of the toner cartridge, and then pop the cartridge back in. Eventually, you'll start seeing streaks, and then you'll know that the cartridge is truly empty.

P.S. So I checked my printer page counter and it says I've only printed 540, and I also discovered the first toner cartridge is a starter kit so it is only intended to print 1000 sheets. So, its telling me I'm running low when it should only be 1/2 out. Watch for an update to see when it actually does run out and what my count is. BTW, I covered the sightglass with masking tape so it circumvents the detection - I'll be able to tell by light printing and streaks in the printing when it really is running out.

Opportunities For You

  • The Tampa Bay Rays got 10 strikeouts last night so you have 24 hours to go HERE to print out your FREE 10" PIZZA certificate, and then you have a couple more days until 5/20/10 to bring it to your local KANES furniture store to get your Papa Johns coupon from the customer service desk. The coupon expires 6/30/10. You don't have to attend the baseball game or have any sort of id or ticket to do this. You can do it every home game where the Rays get 10 strikeouts.
  • I have some free Shutterfly 8x8 photobook codes ($29 value), and free codes for a set of 12 5x7 greeting card codes remaining from my houseparty last weekend. If you want them, just make a photobook on shutterfly, and "share" it with me at frugalapolis at gmail dot com and I'll email you the codes. Then if you go HERE and enter 5 email addresses of your "friends" they will send you a code for free shipping, and send your friends a code for a free 7x9 soft cover photobook.

Publix Sneak Peek May 20-26

Ruffles Potato Chips, Assorted Varieties, 9-10 oz bag, Excluding Baked! Light & Natural, $3.99

Nathans Beef Franks, Original, Bigger Than The Bun, Dinner, Natural Casing or With Real Cheddar Cheese, 12 or 16 oz Package, $4.99

Oscar Meyer Beef Bologna, Regular, Light or Thick Cut, 16 oz Package, $3.99

Grape Tomatoes, 1 pt Package, $2.99

Fresh Express Salad Blend, Assorted Varieties, 4.5 - 12 oz bag, Surprisingly Low Price

Seattle's Best Coffee, Assorted Varieties 12 oz bag, Excludes Seattle's Best Organix Coffee, $6.99

Ken's Steak House Dressing, or Lite Accents, Assorted Varieties, 7 or 16 oz bottle, Excludes 8 oz Salad Dressing, $3.29

Sweet Baby Rib's Barbecue Sauce, Assorted Varieties, 18 oz Bottle, $2.35

Chatham Village Croƻtons, Assorted Varieties, 5 oz Bag, $1.49

A.I. Steak Sauce, Assorted Varieties, 10 oz Bottle, $4.24

Pure Wesson Oil, 100% Natural, Vegetable or Canola or Corn or Best Blend, 48 oz Bottle, $3.79

Idahoan Mashed Potatoes, Assorted Varieties, 4 or 4.1 oz Pouch, $1.25

Knorr Sides, Assorted Varieties, 12 to 13.25 oz package, $1.49

Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Pasta, Assorted Varieties, 12 or 13.25 oz package, $1.79

Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie Mix, Assorted Varieties, 19.8 to 22.5 oz box or Dessert Bar Mix, 19.5 oz box, $2.69

Kellogg's Cereal, Assorted Varieties, Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops or Fruit Loops, 17 to 17.5 oz box or Frosted Mini Wheats, 21.5 to 24 oz box, $3.99

Mott's 100% Apple Juice, or Mott's for Tots, Plus Kids Health, Plus Light, or 100% Juice Medleys, Assorted Varieties From Concentrate, 46 or 64 oz bottle, $2.99

Crystal Light Drink Mix, Or Iced Tea or Green Tea Mix, Assorted Varieties, 10 or 12 qt Cannister, $3.99

Ocean Spray Juice Cocktail, or Cranergy, Juice Drinks, or 100% Juice Blends, Assorted Varieties, 4 or 6 pack. 10 or 12 oz bottle, $3.99

Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn, Assorted Varieties, 4.8 to 13 oz box, $2.75

Keeblet Town House Crackers, Assorted Varieties, 7.7 to 16 oz box, $3.99

Keebler Sandies Shortbread Cookies, Assorted Varieties, 9.5 to 16 oz bag, $3.95

Emerald Honey Roasted Peanuts, or Dry Roasted, Regular or Lightly Salted With Sea Salt, 16 oz Jar, $3.19

General Mills Chex Mix Snack Mix, Traditional or Cheddar, 15 oz bag, $3.39

Kit Kat Snack Size Treats, or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Peter Paul Almond Joy, or Hershey's Milk Chocolate or Cookies n Creme, Jumbo bag, 17.1 to 20.1 bag, $5.99

Nabisco Chips Ahoy! Cookies, Assorted Varieties, 9.5 to 15.25 oz package, $3.25

Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Vegetables, Assorted Varieties, 12 oz bag, $2.39

Dove Ice Cream, Assorted Varieties, 15.1 oz box, $3.29

Jose Ole Taquitos, or Tacos, Assorted Varieties, 20 or 22.5 oz Box, $4.99

Klondike or Slim A Bear Ice Cream Treats, Assorted Varieties, 16 to 27 oz Box, $3.59

Kozy Shack Pudding, Rice, Original, European Style or Cinnamon Raisin, or Tapioca or Chocolate, 22 oz tub, $2.99

Right Guard Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant, Total Defense, Assorted Varieties, 2 to 4 oz package (.55 Instant Coupon on Select Packaging) $3.99

Purina One Adult Dog Food, Lamb & Rice or Chicken & Rice Formula, 4 lb Bag, $6.99

Wisk 2X Ultra Laundry Detergent, Assorted Varieties, 2X Concentrated, 100 oz bottle, $9.99

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, Assorted Varieties, 56 or 80 count canister, $5.49

Spray 'n Wash Laundry Stain Remover, With Resolve Power, Regular or Max, 12 or 22oz Bottle, $2.99

Dixie Plates or Bowls, Assorted Varieties, 20-48 Count Package, $2.99

Hefty OneZip Bags, Storage or Freezer, Quart or Gallon Size, 13 to 22 Count Package or Fresh Extend Fruit & Veggie, 12 Count Package, $2.29
Post credit, thanks to Slickdeals

KanesStrikeOut Get A Free Pizza

I love this promotion and its back again this year. When the Tampa Bay Rays strike out 10 or more batters in a home game, their sponser Kanes Furniture offers a free Papa Johns personal pizza, for a limited time.
So HURRY -  the Rays struck out 10 players on May 15th, so within 24 hours you must click HERE and register and print out a certificate, and then within 3 days bring it to a Tampa area Kanes furniture store customer service desk and they will give you a little card that you redeem at Papa Johns. You have to get your butt into Kanes within 3 days of a strike out, but the card for a free pizza is good until November. At least thats how it worked in previous years.

Ten Tips to Earn Swagbucks

I'm sure a lot of you have joined Swagbucks for free by now and are on your way to your rewards. But did you know there are lots of ways to earn points besides just searching on your swagbucks home page?
Did you know that every Friday is MEGA Swag Bucks Day? SwagBucks has increased your chances of scoring BIG Swagbucks on Fridays. Swagbucks is a fabulous program that rewards you with AWESOME prizes just for doing your everyday searches online.

Since I've joined Swagbucks I have earned tons of $5 Amazon gift codes. Don't have a Swag Bucks account? Why not sign up today and earn 30 SwagBucks to get you started. 
Here are some tips to get more swagbucks everyday.
 -Make your homepage, or add it to your favorites. Doing this will help you remember to use the swagbucks search engine everyday. Did you know that you can win multiple swagbucks each day? I usually do searches throughout the day and try to use different computers. I have two words that I enter and ALWAYS win at least once on each computer with those words. So if you find a word that works for you, try it regularly. Keep in mind though, don't over search. The swagbucks search engine is designed to detect weird search patterns. If it feels you're searching too frequently you will be shown the rules screen. I've never seen the screen but have heard about it happening to others.
1. If you are using your personal computer, install the toolbar to make your searches easy to do.
2. Make it a point to do some Swagbucks searches on Fridays for sure. On Fridays, you can win as many as 100 Swag Bucks in one search.
3. Become a fan on Facebook and a follower on Twitter. Swagcodes are released daily through these sites.
4. Do the Daily Poll every day to earn 1 swagbuck.
5. Do the Special Offers (click RED square) every day but just select NO THANKS for each offer, click through a few until you are awarded from 1 to 3 SBs.
6. Earn Swagbucks by using the Swagbucks Shop and Earn site. By using this portal site to shop you will earn 1 swagbuck for every $5.00 spent.
7. Trade-in your old cell phone and electronics and exchange them for swagbucks!
8. Set up a Google Reader page, and install the widget on your feed page, or install it on your blog. Lots of codes are posted on the widget.
9. Check the Swagbucks Blog for clues and codes, usually there are codes a couple times a week posted there.
10. Check this forum discussion for codes that are currently active that other users have posted.
Give it a chance. It took me a while to develop routines of doing my searches through Swagbucks and figuring out how and where to find swagcodes.

Frugal Dental

A couple days ago I went to the dentist to investigate a little tenderness in my back molar when I bite hard stuff, like granola. They did a full set of x-rays since I didn't have a set on file. I decided to go ahead with it since they are valid for 5 years and I really wanted to know what the deal is with my bum tooth. All these dental decisions were a little easier to make since I had recently signed up with (my referral code is 65A21S68) in case you sign up too.
Since the insurance options offered by my employer are pretty un-frugal, we checked out other options. is not insurance, but is a discount dental plan designed for individuals, families and groups looking to save money on their dental care needs. Participating dental care providers have agreed to accept a discounted fee from plan members as payment-in-full for services performed. As a plan member, you simply show your membership card when visiting any participating plan provider to receive most dental services at discounted fees.
My DH had a chunk of his tooth fall out earlier this year and had to make an emergency visit to the dentist. We didn't have any insurance or dental plan, so the expense looming was not cool. I quickly searched the internet and found and my dentist participates, so I signed up and we were covered for the dental appt two days later. I think the plan cost about $140 for a year of family coverage, less than the price of two cleanings for the year. As it turned out he needed a root canal and crown which would have cost over $2000 with out any plan. With our discounted fees, it came to 1/2 that for $1000.
Now with my deal, it turns out I have a cracked tooth. When I bite down on the old filling it pushes the crack open and I feel some tenderness. There is no pain yet, but I need to get the tooth ground away, replace it with a core and a crown, for the estimated price of $700. Without the dental plan, it would cost about $1200 for the core and crown. So this year it is definitely paying off to have this discount plan.
So if you can't afford the dental insurance provided by your employer, I would suggest investigating a discount dental plan, its worth it.

Too Much of A Good Thing

This week there are tons of great deals at Publix, my favorite store to shop with coupons. There's moneymakers on Olay products (ends today in FL), free Fisher snacks, free Nivea body wash, free Schick Hydro Edge razors and a good deal on Sorrento Cheese Sticksters. The problem is that ALL the stores are out of stock of ALL these items.
I'm fortunate to live by 2 close stores within a mile of my home, plus there are 2 other stores that are out of the city in small new developments that usually have better stock than in town. Earlier this week I was able to find some coupon booklets and some product, but yesterday was frustrating. This couponing frenzy is getting too popular. Too many people know how to do it and some are not exactly shopping with integrity by clearing out the shelves. I'm sure every store in Tampa has orders into the main warehouse in Lakeland, but I'm also sure the warehouse is out of stock.
It would be nice if stores could anticipate our coupon shopping desires, but it seems like they don't.  I know some bloggers have contacted their store managers ahead of time to ask to see the sneak peek of the ad to help the store. They offer to alert the store about products they may want to stock up on before the sale due to increased demand by coupon shoppers with match ups. This seems like a win-win deal, but I'm not sure I want to step right under the radar by being the local coupon expert to my stores.
So, I've scaled back on my couponing chatter, especially to neighbors and co-workers who shop in my neighborhood. I don't want to create competition for the inadequate supply of some products the store stocks. Its real easy to tell if there is another couponer in your store because the moneymakers are always gone, and the good deals are nearly gone. I know rain checks are an alternative, but that is not quick or easy to shop that way, or under the radar. Plus stores won't give out rain checks for advantage buy items. I've started "rolling" my gift cards into new gift cards with my overages and I really don't want to explain how it all works to the store managers, as they may stop giving overage on items with coupons. IMO its ethical to get overage since the store gets reimbursed for full face value of the coupon, but some people don't understand and its better to just stay low profile.
So if any of you have any ideas on how to get your stores to keep adequate stocks, I'd love to hear it. Until then, my motto is shop early, shop often.

Frugal Racing Road Trip

This past weekend we drove 1200 miles on a road up to Darlington, SC to attend the NASCAR races. Its a trip we do every year because we are race fans, plus its close enough to drive to. The problem with attending out of town NASCAR races is that its possible for the race to rain out and be postponed until the next day. The Darlington Southern 500 is run on Friday night and then Saturday night, so Sunday is free to drive/travel home, or be the makeup date for a postponed race.
This year the weather was sunny, hot and breezy - so no delays. Anyway, back to the road trip.  We attend this race every year so we actually renewed our tickets last year so that expense was already taken care of. But they were not particularly cheap, the Busch race was $35 each and the cup race was $94 each. We have premium seats right on the start finish line, twenty rows up so we can see the entire track and we have the end seats so we can run up and down the stairs to get food and use the restroom. Plus when the big fat sweaty smelly guy sitting next to you stands up (and your nose is in his butt space), you can squish over into the aisle to get away from it. So the tickets put us back $264.
For frugal hotel expenses, we used our government id to get the cheap rate of $70 for each of three nights at the Marriott Residence Inn. This was a great deal to stay at a nice hotel with free newspapers, free hot breakfast and a full kitchen. The race weekend is an event weekend and all hotels within 100 miles are booked at full rate. We are lucky that this hotel was less than 10 miles to the track, and we know the back way to get there so we didn't experience the hours of frustration sitting in traffic that most race fans go through. The trick to getting the government rate at the hotel, is to book it online as soon as allowed for the next year, before the venue realizes that its race weekend. Unfortunately, most of the racing travel packages, and race teams and media all like to stay at the nice hotels too, and the Marriott actually called me last year to try to get me to cancel my reservation because they needed it for a team. I refused and they actually honored the reservation.  That's exactly why I always book our stay at least two hotels, in case one cancels us to get a full price paying customers. So the hotel cost us $235.
We drove so we could bring all our beverages and the kitchen sink too. The wonderful thing is I've been using my overage from shopping at Publix to get free or cheap beer. We also had free bottled water from coupons, and really cheap Powerade from recent sales and coupons. So we consumed 36 bottles of water, 60 beers (5 12 pks), a 12 pk of Diet Mt Dew soda, and a 6 pk of Powerade. Total cost $0.
Since this is a regular road trip for us, we know where we want to eat. We get a $50 gift card from the charge card and eat at Outback the first night for free. Then for lunch we get Zaxbys wings, and dinner is a Schlotzky's sandwich we bring to the track. The other wonderful thing about going to NASCAR events is that you can bring in soft coolers of beer and beverages, plus a bag for your scanner radio, peanuts and food. We brought everything in and didn't spend a penny at the track. Parking is even free on site. But we opt to pay the local dude $20 to park in his yard for a shady spot, and a quick getaway at the end. So in the end parking cost $40, and meals were $48. We also bought a pizza on the drive up there so we could eat in the car, for $10. Our Einsteins bagels were free with the facebook coupon, and I had a birthday card for free Starbucks we got free too.
Our gasoline for the trip was all paid using BP gas cards we got at Publix, so they were already paid for in March. Our average mileage was 31 mpg for a cost of $112 worth of gas, but I'm not going include that in this trips expense.
So our entire trip expenses totalled $600 for a 4 day weekend out of town. If we had had paid the regular hotel rate, had to pay for our beverages, food and gas the cost of the trip would have been $1517. So I'm proud of our frugal trip. The great thing is that I don't feel like we were being frugal, we got everything we wanted, and never hesitated on an activity due to expense.
Now thats the way to travel.

Publix Sneak Peek 5/13-5/19

Wander on over to True Couponing for a sneak peek at the new Publix Ad starting this Thursday. I'm excited to get some VIGO yellow rice (even though there are no coupon matchups), and some Post cereals.