10 Frugal Travel Tips

Deep Fried Cheese Curds
 
We just got back from our annual travel odessey Up North to visit our families and friends. We drove our rental car over 800 miles in ten days and maximized the trip. Between the family get togethers, concerts, State Fair, racing events and time with grandchildren and friends, it was a whirlwind tour. Of course we tried to do it in the most frugal way possible, so here a few tips I would like to share from our travel experience.

1. In the airport and airplane - we packed some granola bars, beef jerky, Diamond almonds and some candy for snacking on the plane and throughout the trip. We also brought along some Starbucks gift cards so we could enjoy a free coffee drink at the airport. Our home airport has free wi-fi so we could have internet while we waited for our plane.

2. Wi-fi - rather than be without Internet on our trip, I opted to pay Sprint a $1 a day to make my smartphone a wifi hotspot for the ten days of our trip. Our relatives who hosted us don't have internet so it was necessary. I also switched domain name registrars this month from Blogger to Godaddy and the switch happened to occur during our trip so I had to have internet to change nameservers. My site was down for a couple days, but I'm glad to say Google doesn't have control over my domain anymore.

3. Pack your favorite foods from your stockpile - Whenever we visit family we have to do our grocery shopping in different stores with different coupon policies. To avoid the frustration of having to pay full price for coffee or peanut butter, we pack it from our stockpile at home. I like to pack a few of the higher priced items that we know we want like coffee, peanut butter, beef jerky, and unique recipe ingredients.

4. Bring hostess gifts from your stockpile - I like to provide personal care items like razors, cleansing wipes, and cosmetics; gift cards, chocolates and candy as hostess gifts for our hosts where we stay. It's always nice to leave a thank you card too with some cash to show your appreciation.

5. Research your rental car discounts - Since we are state employees we can use the Avis rental car state code and get a great deal on rental cars. We paid $19 a day for a new 2014 Toyota Camry, plus taxes. If you don't have a corporate code from your employer, you can find these codes on Slickdeals.net by searching the forums for "rental car discounts".

6. Rent the cheapest car  - This has never failed us. We rent the subcompact car and when we get to the rental car counter, undoubtedly there are no subcompact cars available so they upgrade the car at no additional charge. Or if they give you a crappy car like a Kia, just say you can't safely see over the hood and want a different car. This works consistently at smaller airports like the ones Southwest Air flys to.

7. Pack Smart - This means pack light. If you can fit your clothes into a carry on bag, you can avoid airline baggage fees. Or you could just fly Southwest where up to 2 bags fly free. But it still makes sense to pack less and just do laundry once on your vacation. Bring your own detergent too. Plan your wardrobe colors to match so each item can be worn more than once. Borrow heavy sweaters and cold weather jackets from your host if the weather turns cold a couple times.

8. Use Local Coupons - Ask your friends and family to buy advance tickets to events if they are significantly cheaper, like the State Fair. Tell them to watch out for coupons for amusement parks and other activities you might be doing with them. Check the internet to find out the deals before hand and if you direct your friends to the deals they might even join you.

9. Bring or Borrow a Cooler - We always pack a small cooler for our trips Up North. It's nice to have water and soda available in your travels, plus if you have food that needs to refrigerated like party dip, beer or restaurant leftovers you can safely carry it around between events.  Use your hosts icemaker ice if you can, but don't be too cheap to buy a bag of ice if you need it. Stay hydrated.

10. Keep Couponing - Ask your hosts for their coupon inserts if you know they don't use them. If you're in a hotel on a Sunday morning, go through the free newspapers in the lobby to get inserts, or if you're stopping at Starbucks theres probably a newspaper there too with inserts.

It's important to remember that you are on vacation, and to take that splurge if you really want. These trips are to make memories and you don't want to have regrets that you were too frugal to spend some money for a wonderful experience.

My Publix Trip $1.06

This week at the grocery store the special is cheap Body Wash. I don't have a picture this time but this is what I got.

8 Dial body wash BOGO $3.95
(4) $2/2 body wash mq 8/4 rp + (1) $5 off $15 pq green adv flyer
2.84

4 Sundown vitamin A $3.29
(4) $1/1 mq 8/4 rp + (1) $5/2 pq green adv flyer
$-0.84 MM

4 Brawny paper towels BOGO $1.98
(4) $0.55/1 mq 8-11 rp
$1.56

2 Tena pads $5.19
(2) $5/1 mq insert
$0.38

$5/30 Winn Dixie store coupon

Total spent $1.06

Free Hair Cuts for Kids #Tampa

 
School starts next week and this free offer is available now. Remington College is bringing back their "Cuts for Kids" program in Tampa (and many other cities in the US including Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, plus more), providing free haircuts for children from August 1 through August 31, 2013.

Ask any parent about getting their kids ready to go back to school and they’ll tell you it can be a costly and time-consuming ordeal. In order to make the process easier, Remington College Cosmetology students, faculty, and staff hold an annual event called "Cuts for Kids" that offers complimentary haircuts for children 17 years of age or younger.

Appointments are recommended, but not necessary. The Remington College located in Tampa is in the Interstate Office Complex at 6302 E. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, near the intersection of I4 (across from McDonalds).

Publix Paid Me to Shop This Week


My Publix trip to the grocery store this week, finds there are a lot of good coupon deals. Some of the good deals are due to stacking coupons (store coupons plus manufacturer coupons) even if the item is regular price, but some of the great store specials also coincide with some coupons available. The store I shopped at today was out of all moneymaker vitamins (Sundown and Nature Made), plus they were out of Almay deodorant, Right Guard Xtreme deodorant and I thought they were out of Tena 14 ct pads because the shelf was empty. But low and behold, way down below a couple shelves, shoved in the back some previous couponer hid some Tena packages. The Tena is not a moneymaker this week, but gets your order up to a coupon threshold for low out of pocket, this week I was trying to reach $50 so I could use the Publix $10 off $50 store coupon that was in the Sunday paper last weekend.

There was plenty of Honey Bunches of Oats because it was just getting unloaded from the delivery truck, I got a few clingwraps and the Lipton Tea moneymaker was fully stocked too. There has been discussion that the cereal $3/2 PQ is not a match for this sale, and I agree the wording is ambiguous. It seems they always forget to add punctuation to coupons, so the coupon does look like it reads This flavor or that flavor or the other flavor 15-18 oz. I read it that only the last flavor needed to be 15-18 oz. Anyway, others have reached out to clarify and Publix has responded online. Publix said the coupon wasn't meant to apply to this weeks BOGO product, but in the interest of good customer service they are accepting the coupon. They just ask coupon users to be respectful and not abuse the deal.

I thought the tax would eat up any overage but my calculations were off in my Grocery Tracker app (my fault) and they ended up paying me $3.63. I saved $94.28.


Frugal Cooking - Make Meal Leftovers


The other day I was at my hair stylist and the patron next to me was telling her stylist how her boyfriend would not eat leftovers. And I thought to myself, never in my house would that fussiness be allowed. But I overhead the gal say that her boyfriend was from a large family of seven kids, and there never were any leftovers, so they never had them. If there were leftovers, it was because the meal wasn't very good.
 
At my home, since there are only two of us, we usually make meals that will have leftovers. Just this weekend I prepared a double batch of enchiladas. Some meals taste better the second time they are prepared, like enchiladas, lasagna and spaghetti. I guess the tomato based products are what make the best leftovers. And as long as you pack up your leftovers in a clean manner there will be no food safety issues. Use clean containers, clean utensils, no cross contamination of raw and cooked, and wash your hands first.
 
Preparing meals with leftovers in mind is a frugal way to save even more, on the already frugal habit of cooking meals at home. When you prepare larger quantities it means you can buy larger quantities of the ingredients saving on the big box. You also can save on preparation time since the leftovers will be easy and quickly reheated in the microwave, or on the stovetop rather than turning on the oven again. It also provides home cooked meals for lunches at work rather than going out to a restaurant to eat, saving $7 to $10 a day. And most leftovers can safely be frozen in individual portions for months so you can have that delicious meal again.
 

Saved 99% At Publix Today, Spent $1.06


The one thing I really wanted to buy today at Publix was the Wisk Laundry Detergent that was BOGO, but they were all out. The $2 coupon and the store sale makes it $1.25 for a 50 oz container which I guess is everyone's stockup price too. I still had a couple Quattro razor rainchecks so I decided to use some of those since other fillers were out too like the FUZE deal from last week, and the TENA pads were wiped out as well. Since I did get the $2/1 Right Guard coupon early in the free Spanish paper I was able to get a couple of those too ( a small MM).

I am shocked at the price increases in produce at Publix. Two weeks ago iceberg lettuce was on sale for $1.49, then it went up to $1.69, and last week it was $1.99. Well, today was the schocker at $2.49 for a head of lettuce. If I can't pay for produce with overage, I think I'm going to start going to ALDI or the farmers market because its just too expensive at Publix.

So, we got all our salad stuff including the free Wishbone dressings and spent $1.06, Saved $77.


Here's to hoping we get a good Publix coupon in the paper on Sunday!

My Weight Loss July Update

Well, its been a month since I posted about our weight loss since our cruise in May. If you remember, both DH and I had gained some weight and were determined to lose it. It's not necessarily a goal to lose weight fast, but by slightly modifying our diet and and increasing our exercise we did manage to lose five pounds in June.

July has been a little tougher because of the wonderful free sweet and salty snack deal at Busch Gardens this past month. We've been walking there several times a week and of course we have to get the free snack. Popcorn is the healthiest snack they offer, and then the frozen fruit bar could be considered healthy too. But, we've splurged a couple times for the dippin dots cookies and cream ice cream treat, and the snickers ice cream bar. So, there's that. Plus the fact that Ryan Newman won the NASCAR race at Indianapolis this past week and his sponsor gave away a free Bloomin Onion at Outback on Monday. I know all these excuses are lame, but that's the way life is. So, we only lost 3 more pounds.

The good thing is we've been eating healthy recipes and lots of fresh produce. Our daily healthy snack is some fruit. DH learned this cool way to cut melons on the cruise ship. The chefs just cut off the top and the bottom of the each round melon and then it sits nice on your cutting board so you can just slice off the rind, without wasting any fruity flesh. Then he just grinds up the rinds in the food processor with our other compost items and pours the whole mess into the garden composter outside.

So we've lost eight pounds in 8 weeks, for an average 1 pound a week. I would like to lose about eight or ten more pounds so I'll continue to eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water and exercise daily. These 3 diet tips are all you need to know.

My Publix Trip - Gas Card Deal 7/27

I didn't have much luck getting coupons for coffee so I wasn't really sure how I could get my order up to $50 for the gas card deal. I lucked out and they had the Fuze ice tea and then I used a raincheck for some Quattro razors. Which I just realized now the cashier missed one of my $3/1 Target coupons for the razors. Anyway, I spent $39 and got a $50 gas card and all my groceries for essentially free. This shop does not compare to how great we used to have it, but I still managed to get gas for 20% off.



Crispy Chickpeas Great Recipe Idea


This great recipe is quick and easy, plus these crispy chickpeas taste just like popcorn. Last night our dinner idea was to cook pan fried shrimp, and these delicious crispy fried chickpeas, or garbanzo beans. I just poured some oil (about 1/4 inch deep) in a skillet and turned the heat up to 6 on the dial. Then I opened a 15oz can of garbanzo beans and patted dry on paper towels to remove excess juice. When the oil was hot I gently put all the beans into the oil and covered it quickly, it will spatter. Then just shake the pan from side to side to roll them around and evenly cook. Cook for 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Pat the excess oil off chickpeas and then sprinkle with some seasoning - I used smoked paprika and garlic powder, plus a dash of sea salt. This food recipe is healthy and delicious, plus ads variety to your meal with the crunchy textures. If you're on a low carb diet, it is a good way to get your protein.

List of States with Tax Free School Shopping Days

 
School is starting just around the corner, and its time for the annual tax free shopping weekend all over the nation. Some states even include Hurricane preparation items too! Here is a chart from Fed Tax Administrators that lists all the states participating. This year in Florida you can get the discount on laptops and computers too.


State
Days

Items Included

Maximum Cost
1st Year

2013
Dates

Information Links *
Alabama3hurricane preparedness
generators - $1,000
supplies - $60
2012February 22-24http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/
Alabama3clothing - $100
computers - $750
school supplies - $50
books - $30
2006August 2-4http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/
Arkansas2clothing - $100
school supplies
2011August 3-4http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/
Connecticut
7
clothing and footwear - $300
2001
August 18-24http://www.ct.gov/
Florida3school supplies - $15
clothing - $75
computer - $750
2010+August 2-4http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/
Georgia2school supplies - $20
clothing - $100
computer - $1,000
2012+August 9-10https://etax.dor.ga.gov/
Georgia3energy and water efficient products - $1,5002012+October 4-6https://etax.dor.ga.gov/
Iowa
2
clothing - $100
2000
August 2-3http://www.iowaccess.org/tax/
Louisiana
2
all TPP - $2,500
2007
August 2-3http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/
Louisiana
2
hurricane preparedness items - $1,500
2008
May 25-26http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/
Louisiana
3
firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies
2009
September 6-8http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/
Maryland3energy star products2011February 16-18http://www.comp.state.md.us/
Maryland7clothing & footwear-$1002010August 11-17http://www.marylandtaxes.com/
Mississippi
2
clothing & footwear - $100
2009
July 26-27http://www.dor.ms.gov/
Missouri7energy star products - $1,500 2009April 19-25http://dor.mo.gov/
Missouri3clothing - $100
computers - $3,500
school supplies - $50
2004August 2-4http://dor.mo.gov/
New Mexico3clothing - $100
computers - $1,000
computer equip. - $500
school supplies - $30
2005August 2-4http://www.tax.newmexico.gov
North Carolina
3
clothing - $100
school supplies - $100
instructional material - $300
computers - $3,500
other comp. - $250
sports equip - $50
2001
August 2-4http://www.dornc.com/
North Carolina
3
energy star products2009November 1-3http://www.dornc.com/
Oklahoma
3
clothing - $100
2007
August 2-4http://www.tax.ok.gov/
South Carolina
3
clothing
school supplies
computers
other
2000
August 2-4http://www.sctax.org/
Tennessee
3
clothing - $100
school supplies - $100
computers - $1,500
2006
August 2-4http://tn.gov/revenue/
Texas
3
energy star products
air conditioners - $6,000; other - $2,000
2008
May 25-27http://www.window.state.tx.us/
Texas
3
clothing, backpacks and school supplies- $100
1999
August 9-11http://www.window.state.tx.us/
Virginia7hurricane preparedness items - $60
generators - $1,000
2008May 25-31http://www.tax.virginia.gov/
Virginia3clothing - $100
school supplies - $20
2006August 2-4http://www.tax.virginia.gov/
Virginia4energy star products - $2,5002006October 11-14http://www.tax.virginia.gov/