Saturday, June 20, 2009

Favorite Things: Ladybug Labels

As I've mentioned before, I'm a bit of a monogramming freak. I just love monogrammed gear; plus, it is really fun to give personalized gifts. I love giving Ladybug Labels. The labels can be used on stationery, as book plates, on party favor bags, and more. Colorful, cute and reasonably priced, they get the Cheap and Cheerful stamp of approval. Check it out!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cheap and Cheerful Chatter: Great Money Saving Ideas from our Faithful Readers

Three of Cheap and Cheerful's faithful readers sent in some super tips this week. Great advice from three great people. Enjoy!

The first is from Julie in Seattle:
"Hi there! Thank you so much for the blog, I check it every day now! Love it! I have another site I go to when I need new electronics, which is how I found my camera. It's called, and it's a consumer-driven site where people post amazing internet deals that they find...a lot of them are "mistakes" that are made online that customers can take advantage on. For example, one person may see that Best Buy accidentally marked their latest color printer down to 39.99 instead of 99.99, so you can jump on it if you act quickly enough. Other deals are just great finds that people post about, perhaps a one-day sale that Sears is having on treadmills or something. I found my amazing new Kodak Z8612 through slickdeals for 129.99 with free shipping, and most online stores carry it for around $200. Anyway just thought you'd appreciate the tip if you hadn't heard about the site before!"

Here's a tip from Todd in Sacramento:
"With gas prices on the climb, who wouldn’t take advantage of a steep price per gallon discount? If you shop at Safeway/Vons you accrue PowerPump rewards quarterly every time you use your Safeway Club Card. For every $100 you spend while using your club card, you earn a 10¢ off per gallon PowerPump Reward. If your family is like me, you can rack up a serious grocery tab over 3 months. You can save big on gas by simply purchasing your normal share of groceries, gift cards and prescriptions. The advertized price per gallon was $2.97. But by utilizing our saved up PowerPump Rewards, we cut the price per gallon by 80¢ and filled up two tanks at $2.17 per gallon. All together, our purchase of 27 gallons of gas saved us almost $22.00 and all we had to do is buy the staples our family traditionally buys and redeem the award before it expired. Fill’er up!"

And Jody in Gilroy wrote,
"Instead of eating out, eat outside at your own house. Dining alfresco can make a regular dinner feel like date night."

Keep the great tips coming! I'll "publish" three more reader tips next week. Will one be yours?

Deal of the Day: Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts

Remember Money Mantra #1 -- Buy cheap, it's always cheap. Well, there is nothing cheap about a true Ralph Lauren Polo shirt but you can get this quality item for 33% off at the Nordstrom Men's Half Yearly sale. There are colors to please even the most particular man in your life. Or if you are a man, buy one for yourself! The special someone in your life will appreciate your classic style. Plus, your budget will appreciate the savings.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Deal of the Day: Barefoot Contessa cookbook

As my sister-in-law is fond of saying, "Life is too short to eat bad food." If it is tasty food you seek, look no further than Ina Garten's latest cookbook titled Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. Ina's recipes keep it simple -- fresh ingredients prepared with layers of flavor. The book is just $23.00 -- 36% off the cover price on Trust me, if you buy this book, it will soon become your go-to guide when planning parties or having your parents over for dinner. Having Ina in your kitchen with you is a no-fail investment.

Cheap and Cheerful's Budgeting Basics

When it comes to saving money or simply using your financial resources more effectively, there are two basic strategies to consider. Each strategy can lower your bottom line and increase your savings (or your slush fund!). Even a combination of these methods can simply focus you in on cash flow and help you become more conscious of your spending habits.

1. The DIY (Do-it-Yourself) Strategy
Does cash have a sneaky way of finding its way out of your wallet whenever you leave the house? Try this: Make your own coffee. (No Starbucks.) Cut your own lawn. (No mow, blow and go service.) Wash your own car, iron your own shirts, bring your lunch to work. You get the picture. Please do keep this in mind: Small changes with this strategy can add up to significant savings. But as you choose which "chores" to bring back to the domicile, do keep your sanity level in mind. For example, if I ironed my husband's shirts, we might save between $40 - $60 a month. However, I'd have to gouge my eyes out with one of the metal coat hangers. Touch ups, yes. Pressing shirts, no. Sanity over savings in that budget category at our house. Also, please do not try at-home eyebrow waxing. Leave that to the professionals.

2. Slash and Burn Strategy
Reduce the categories in your budget that have become inflated. Maybe $100 a month on take out used to be reasonable but now it's zapping your reserve for much needed car maintenance or long delayed home projects. Eliminate or reduce the take out food category and roll that cash into another column. You might also reduce your allocation to categories like entertainment, cable/cell phone/internet, or gifts. Freeing up your money for bigger and better things can be really satisfying.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What two spending categories would you focus on if you applied either one of these strategies?

Favorite Things: Olive Juice Dresses

Public confession: I am a sucker for well made, unique dresses for girls. And sometimes to find such a dress, you have to be willing to shell out some cash. Since I try to follow Money Mantra #3 and never pay full price, I eagerly await the sales at Olive Juice Kids. Personally, I wish the Shelby dress (pictured here) came in my size! My daughter's closet is well stocked at the moment, but I had fun looking and thought you might as well.
P.S. -- Happy 7th Birthday to my favorite Olive Juice niece, Miss JCN.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Deal of the Day: Exposures Picture Frames

As someone who takes a lot of photos, I am always on the hunt for great deals on quality frames.
Exposures has some amazing deals right now -- up to 80% off. The frames pictured above are only $7.99 for an 11x14 and $4.99 for an 8x10. Check it out! Also on sale are holiday cards, stationery, and photo albums.
Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Where do you find good deals on frames?

Money Mantra #3: Sale -- our favorite four letter word

"Life is too short to pay full price."

At Cheap and Cheerful, sale is our favorite four letter word. It does the soul good to see those glossy SALE signs. 25% off is the "new black". Paying full price is so00000 1999. Deals abound in this economy, so how do you best capitalize on them? Share your tips with us! And as you shop, keep in mind Money Mantra #3. We promise that today's piece of advice will never steer you wrong.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: Do you have a favorite sale that you shop every year?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Deal of the Day: Your New Favorite PJ's

I can't think of $5 dollars without the Subway "$5 dollar footlong" jingle coming to mind....and what a great deal those yummy subs are! Brown bag it for two days and $10 can buy much more than just two yummy sandwiches, my money saving fashionistas!
Behold your new favorite PJ's, available at an Old Navy near you! They are the perfect length, so comfy, and they come in a bunch of cute patterns. Pair them with a tee or tank from your closet and maybe a hoody if you like to crank up the A/C at night -- instant relaxation!

$10 -- wow -- that's a whole lot of cute for a little dough (and no carbs)!!

Favorite Things: Five for $5 (or under!)

Here at Cheap and Cheerful, we understand the value of a good treat. And we rejoice when a good treat can also be a good value. Here are 5 treats that are $5 or less. Guilt-free indulgence. It doesn't get any better.

1. It's It ice cream sandwich
A little slab of heaven in your hands. Oatmeal cookies and your choice of vanilla, chocolate, mint or coffee ice cream. Sold wherever the shopkeeper is smart enough to keep them on hand.

2. An US magazine and Diet Coke
Enough said.

3. A fun coin purse
It will come in handy when saving those pennies!

4. The newest OPI nail polish color
Life is too short to buy cheap nail polish. My favorite OPI shade is a red called "I'm Not Really a Waitress".

5. $5 worth of new iTunes tracks
Nothing can boost my mood like some new tunes. Make it about you by picking five songs that would create a little soundtrack for your day.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What pick-me-up-treat under $5 would you add to this list? You know you've got at least two great suggestions. So, don't be shy. Add yours here!

Money Mantra #2: Less is More

"Less is more." -- Mies van der Rohe, architect

Although it is perfectly human to want something we don't have, our desire to amass material goods can sometimes become unhealthy. If we are caught up in a cycle of purchasing things that we don't need, it is more difficult to appreciate what we already have. I know I can stand in front of my well-stocked closet and exclaim "I've got nothing to wear" without thinking twice about my false statement. But if I took a minute to examine my collection of sundresses, skirts, and sandals, I could easily come up with a decent outfit. If I am surrounding myself with material goods that aren't essential and useful, I am cluttering up my physical space as well as wasting mental energy on strategizing uneccessary purchases.

My version of the Less is More mantra looks like this:

If you don't need anything, don't buy anything.

If it is time replace an item you own , invest in a quality item at a price point you can afford.

Once you've purchased the new item, do something with the item you've replaced. Pass it along to a friend, donate it to charity, or sell it at your next yard sale.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: How do you prioritize your need to buy versus want to buy list? Is your calendar bursting at the seams with activities and projects? Do you have a tendency to go overboard when planning birthday parties? Perhaps we can share some ways to avoid these common scenarios and learn from each other?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beg, Borrow, and Steal: Cash In Your Cabinet

Ready to save money without leaving the comfort of your home? Join Cheap and Cheerful for a treasure hunt in your own medicine cabinet. Are there some fabulous hand creams just asking to be used? A tube of hair tonic waiting to be applied? Some sweet shades of nail polish you've been neglecting? To illustrate my point, I examined my own stash and found these "forgotten" supplies:

After taking a good inventory, it becomes easier to see how few of these items deserve a place on your shopping list. After all, if you know you already have three tubs of body butter, it's harder to rationalize a spending spree at Bath and Body Works. And while you're searching for Band-Aids, you might bump into a six month supply of shampoo. The fewer beauty products to procure in any given month, the more money in your budget for other items. It's as simple as that.

That's all for now. I've got to stop typing. I've got some hand creams to test.

Deal of the Day: Pottery Barn Kids Counter Top Stove

Wouldn't it be nice if Pottery Barn Kids toys were affordable all of the time? But, I digress. At $29.99, this precious pink Counter Top Stove is as good as it gets from PBK. I only wish it came in some other colors as well because at Casa Ferrara, the girls and the boys like pretend cooking. And who knows? Maybe this toy will inspire the next Rachael Ray or Bobby Flay? Bon appetit!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Favorite Things: Olive and Ollie Bibs

If you haven't discovered Etsy yet, here's at least one good reason to spend some time browsing around this haven for all things handmade.

Olive and Ollie is an Etsy site that has the most adorable bibs, tees, and blankets. It's a perfect site for baby gifts or something special for your own kiddo.

Check out the creator's blog, too. Simply click on the Etsy link from her blog and you'll be led to complete cuteness.

Savvy Shopper: Audrey Hepburn Got It Right

Nothing completes an outfit like a great pair of sunglasses. Make sure they are useful as well as fashionable (read: no more buying them at the gas station or wearing an old, scratched, out-dated pair). New sunglasses can be like a great new haircut or some new cosmetics -- they help you put your best face forward :).

These Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses fit the bill and then some....they come in a few different colors (not all shown here) and they are A Real Deal right now at Nordstrom, only $79.90, originally $13o.00. The case they come is chic as well, sure to protect them in an overstuffed handbag or diaper bag.

Naturally, I have the brown ones and I love them -- a great new pair of quality sunglasses that will last longer than a couple cheap pairs can be a perfect update to your look, for summer and beyond.

Find a pair that fits your face, your lifestyle, and your budget!

Happy Shopping!


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