Thursday, January 15, 2015

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!

Welcome to Penny Pincher Journal!

Dr. Penny Pincher

If you are looking for easy ways to spend less money, you are in the right place!  Penny Pincher Journal is a blog loaded with FREE articles and advice to help you spend less money and enjoy life more.  You can even get a free eBook here with 101 tips to help you spend less money.

Take a look around and get free money-saving advice and tips from Dr. Penny Pincher.  Stop back soon- new articles and blog posts are added frequently.

Popular Articles

Sharpen Disposable Razor Blades and Save Money!

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Popular Topics

Easy Ways to Make Money (10 articles)
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Free eBook

Have you seen Dr. Penny Pincher's free eBook with 101 tips on saving money?

Free eBook: 101 Tips to Spend Less Money
Free eBook: 101 Tips to Save Money

The popular articles and popular topics above are just a small sample of what you can find FREE here on Penny Pincher Journal.  The more you explore, the more ways you can find to save money every day.

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State Farm Credit Card- Looks Like a Good Deal!

State Farm Credit Card Offer

State Farm Credit Card- It's a Good Offer
State Farm Credit Card- It's a Good Offer
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I get several credit card offers per week in the mail- sometimes even more than one per day.  Today I received a credit card offer that is a really a good deal.  It is a Visa State Farm Credit Card.  The offer was 2 years at 0.9% interest on balance transfers AND there is no balance transfer fee AND there is no annual fee.  Almost all of the credit card offers I get have a 3% balance transfer fee.  This would mean that if you transferred a $10,000 balance the fee would be $300.  I recycle any offers that charge a balance transfer fee.

The rate on purchases is 12.9% and the 0% introductory rate goes up to 12.9% after 2 years.

The State Farm Credit Card also has a benefit that you can get cash back if you use the State Farm Credit card to pay your State Farm Insurance bill.  The offer I received was a "pre-screened" offer that came in the mail.

Save Money on Your Insurance Bill- Use a State Farm Visa
Save Money on Your Insurance Bill- Use a State Farm Visa
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Of course, 0% interest would be even better than 0.9%, but you wouldn't pay much for interest compared with a $300 balance transfer fee.  The interest on a $10,000 balance transfer would be about $90 for 2 years if you pay it off.  If you check my math, it might not look like this adds up, but if you steadily pay down the balance over 2 years, the average balance would be $5,000 for 2 years.

This Is What a Good Credit Card Offer Looks Like...
This Is What a Good Credit Card Offer Looks Like...
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Seeing this credit card offer reminded me of a good way to save money on high interest credit cards- transfer balances with high interest rates to cards with low- or zero- interest and get them paid off.  Watch out for the transfer fee, which is typically 3% of the balance.  Also watch out for annual fees- some cards charge an annual fee of $50 or more, which I try to avoid unless the card has a really good points or travel miles program that offsets that cost.

If you have a credit card balance with a high interest rate, look for a deal like the State Farm Credit Card with $0 balance transfer fee, no annual fee, and a low interest rate.

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Almost Free Lunch- Only 4 Cents!

How Did I Get Lunch for 4 Cents?  Better Oats!

It is true that you can't get much for a penny these days, but I have my lunches taken care of for several months at only 4 cents each!

The cheap price is not the only good thing about my lunch plan for the new year- it is also quite healthy.

While picking up a few things at the grocery store for my wife's homemade chicken pot pies, I came across some boxes at the back of the grocery store with a sign that caught my attention.

Cheap oatmeal
Clearance Better Oats Oatmeal!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I checked this out carefully to make sure each BOX with 5 packets of BetterOats oatmeal was being offered for 20 cents, rather than 20 cents per bag which would work out to $1 per box.  But the offer was in fact 20 cents per box, which is only 4 cents per bag of oatmeal.

The next thing I checked was the expiration date on the boxes.  Some expired in 2 months and others in 3 months.  I figured that I could eat quite a bit of oatmeal in 2 or 3 months and my kids like oatmeal as well.  My parents eat oatmeal every day too, so I decided to load up the cart.

Bulk Oatmeal is a Cheap Lunch and Snack!
Bulk Oatmeal is a Cheap Lunch and Snack!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Cheap, Healthy, and Easy to Make at Work or at Home

I sent 10 boxes (50 packets) home with my parents and had about 15 boxes left.  After trying the blueberry muffin flavor, my kids informed me that 15 boxes would not be enough.  This was really high quality oatmeal with nice packaging and good ingredients like whole blueberries and flax seed.

I figured that the bargain oatmeal would be gone right away, but I happened to be in the store a few days later and there was still a good supply so I picked up about a dozen more boxes.

I have found that it is easy to make oatmeal at work.  Just pour the oatmeal in a paper cup, fill the bag with water (these bags have a mark for the correct amount of water), and microwave for about 65 seconds.

Check out this deal on Amazon for 52 packets of oatmeal:

I have been eating more than one packet of oatmeal per day, typically 2 or 3 packets so far this year.  There are several flavors including:

  • Blueberry Muffin
  • Apple Cinnamon
  • Chai Spice
  • Cinnamon Roll

The lesson I take from this is to keep an open mind about discounted items at the grocery store, but make sure you can use the clearance stuff before it gets too far "past code".

Plus I was reminded how much I like oatmeal and how healthy it is for you.  See if you can find some good deals on oatmeal- happy hunting!

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Work at Home as a Professional Penny Pincher!

Work at Home as a Professional Penny Pincher!

Spending less adds up to real money!
Work as a Professional Penny Pincher- the Money is Real!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Surfing around on the Internet, I see all kinds of offers for programs to work at home and make some extra money. Most of the concepts I see seem difficult and may or may not work. For example, not everyone is cut out to sell things, make phone calls, or write marketing copy. I suspect many of the work-at-home schemes make money for the people selling the scheme, but not for the people who pay for the program and try to make money.

Here’s an easy work at home plan: make your second job focusing few hours a week on spending less money. Now that I think about it, I am a professional penny pincher! If getting paid to do something makes you a “professional”, then I am a professional penny pincher since I save money every day.

This article describes my daily routine that adds up to over $17,000 of savings per year. That works out to nearly $1,500 per month. You may be able to save this much or even more if you are willing to work at saving money for a few hours per week- think of penny pinching as a part-time job. This sounds like a good opportunity to me!

I’ll go ahead and put out an advertisement for professional penny pinchers, I think this would be a better way for people to end up with extra money each month than most of the work-at-home schemes out there. Of course, I’ll need to describe this work at home plan in flashy marketing language to compete with the fancy advertising for other work-at-home plans out there. Here goes:

Now Hiring: Professional Penny Pincher

Work at home, set your own hours, and make hundreds- or even thousands- of dollars per month. No experience required. No need to purchase any program or start-up materials. Become a Professional Penny Pincher- start today for free!

Always carry your coupons when shopping
Find Ways To Spend Less Money as a Professional Penny Pincher!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Is Professional Penny Pincher the Right Job for You?

So let’s review. You are interested in working at home a few hours a week to make extra money. You want something easy to do that doesn’t require spending money to get started. The opportunities out there seem to require purchasing a program or doing work that you would rather not do. Plus it seems questionable how much money you could make at the work-at-home jobs.

Now you have come across an ideal work at home job: Professional Penny Pincher. You don’t need to buy any program or start-up materials to get going. You don’t need any particular skills or experience. You can choose how much time to spend working as a penny pincher. Your time spent working as a penny pincher can make a lot of money for you with only a few hours of work each week. I think we have found the ideal work at home job for you!

Save money on clothes at consignment shops
Your Time Spent Saving Money Pays Well as a Penny Pincher
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

How to get started as a Professional Penny Pincher

Here is a list of some expenses that many people can cut to get a jump-start on saving money immediately. Many people could cut thousands of dollars of expenses per year without much effort.

So you are ready to sign up- great! How do you get started? As with most things, getting started is the hard part. What should you do on your first day of work as a penny pincher? Since you are working at home, we can skip the tour of the building and showing you where the coffee maker and bathrooms are located...

The place to start is by thinking about your spending and attempting to separate spending into “needs” and “wants”. This task is difficult because there is often not a clear line between needs and wants, and also because you may view some of your “wants” as “needs”. You may be able to think of some expenses you could cut to spend less money with only a few minutes of thinking.

Since you are a “professional” penny pincher, you may want to go further and make a list of your expenses for the month. Some of the bigger expenses will be easy to list and you may even know the amounts already.

The quickest opportunity to save money right off the bat is often in the smaller expenses and unnecessary purchase you make out of habit. Since you have spending habits that are set, it may be difficult to see which purchases are unnecessary. Check out Penny Pincher Journal for specific ideas on ways to spend less money every day.

Some ways to spend less money do require effort, such as packing your own lunch or keeping track of coupons and shopping lists- but the payoff is high considering the amount of work required.

Over time, you can work at reducing your larger expenses. I have been able to move to a smaller house to save money on mortgage payments. You may also be able to get your car paid off and eliminate car payments as well.

Here's Where You Make Your Money as a Penny Pincher...

Next, bring income into the picture. As you find ways to spend less money, you will have more of this income left at the end of each month to save or invest. This is your payment for working as a professional penny pincher. If you calculate your hourly rate by dividing how much money you save by the number of hours you spend working at pinching pennies, being a penny pincher may be one of the highest paying work-at-home jobs around.

Working as a professional penny pincher has benefits that go beyond making money. You may find that you are eating healthier, have reduced stress, and have less clutter in your house. Good luck on your new part-time job as a professional penny pincher!

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Friday, January 2, 2015

Penny Pincher Skills- Improve Your Ability To Save Money

How Can You Improve Your Penny Pinching Skills?

Improve Your Skills at Saving Money
Improve Your Skills at Saving Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

It takes skills and abilities to be good at saving money instead of spending it.  Some abilities are more at the innate end of the spectrum, for example you may naturally be a patient person, or you may naturally be impatient.  However even something like patience can be improved with practice if you work at it.  Determination is another example of an innate trait that can be improved with work and through your circumstances.

Skills that can help you save money can be learned and improved.  For example, when I bought my first house I had no plumbing skills at all.  Over time, I learned to do more plumbing work.  Last week, I cut off copper supply pipes, removed a kitchen sink and sink base cabinet, and sweated on new shut-offs and installed new drain lines for the new sink.  I bet I saved well over $500 on plumbing bills by using skills to do something myself instead of paying someone else.

What Skills Help You Save Money?

If I were training you to improve at basketball, I would teach skills like passing, dribbling, shooting, and defense.  What skills can you work on to become a better penny pincher?  Here are some that come to mind:

Negotiation Skills:  There are many situations where having good negotiation skills can save you lots of money.  When buying a house, car, furniture, or other big ticket items there is often a lot of room for negotiation in the price.  The keys to successful negotiation are to understand the realistic market value of what you are buying and try to understand how you can sweeten the deal for the seller in ways other than paying more money.

Budgeting Skills:  Are you good at keeping track of expenses and how much you are spending?  Do you know where your money is going?  Some people seem to be naturally good at doing this, while other people struggle with keeping track of expenses.  No matter what your current skill level at budgeting, improving you budgeting skill can help you become more effective at saving money.

Home Improvement Skills:  There is a lot of opportunity to save money on maintaining and upgrading your house if you develop some home improvement skills.  You can save money if you can do simple electrical repairs and upgrades such as changing a faulty light switch or replacing a light fixture or ceiling fan yourself.  Plumbing skills, such as being able to replace copper fittings and install new sink drains, can save tons of money if you are planning upgrades to your kitchen or bathroom.  Painting yourself- both interior and exterior- can save you lots of money if you are able to do this work yourself.  The more landscaping and yard maintenance you can do yourself, the more money you’ll save.

Improve Your Home Improvement Skills to Save Money
Improve Your Home Improvement Skills to Save Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Couponing Skills: Coupons represent a lot of planning and work that people put into saving money.  It takes some time, effort, and organization to use coupons effectively- but the payoff is well worth the effort.   I would say that I use some sort of coupon of money-saving program almost every time I buy something.

Improve Your Skill at Using Coupons to Save Money
Improve Your Skill at Using Coupons to Save Money
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

“Smart Shopping” Skills:  I describe this skill as being able to accurately identify things that you need and obtain them at minimal cost.  This may involve shopping at clearance sales, or purchasing used items at consignment stores and thrift shops.  For example, today my wife found a pair of dress pants she can wear to work for $7 at a clearance sale.  This is a lot better than waiting until new pants are urgently needed and then risking paying full price for them.  A couple years ago, we had no chair in our living room and picked one up at a consignment shop for $38.  We would have paid 10x more at a furniture store.

Cooking Skills:  I’ll admit this is an area where I have a lot of room for improvement!  Fortunately my wife is good at cooking and enjoys doing it.  If you get good at making food at home, you can save a lot of money on eating out and eat healthier as well.

Gardening Skills:  Growing your own food provides a great feeling of independence, as well as an opportunity to save money on buying groceries.  If you are good at gardening, you can produce a lot of food using few resources.  If you are lucky, you grew up helping in the garden and know how to do it.  If not, you’ll need to read books and get tips from others who are good at gardening to increase your skills.

In the past, car maintenance skills may have made the list, but cars are so complex now that it is hard to work on them at home.  You can find coupons and get an oil change for under $20 which is hard to beat even if you do it yourself.  The oil change shops like to get your car in the door with a cheap oil change so they can recommend other repairs you may need while you are there.

Improve Your Penny Pincher Skills

So how can you improve your penny pinching skills?  Practice to improve your skills by taking on small projects or tasks and challenge yourself to see how well you can do.  Get some books at the library or read articles on the Internet to get up to speed on the knowledge required.  Choose a problem and see how well you can solve it while improving your skills at the same time.

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options

Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options

After publishing my second book and installing the copper supply lines myself for a kitchen remodeling project, I now have time to check my mail.  Today, I'll discuss cheap options for hot beverages that don't have too much caffeine.  Here's the question from a reader:

Dr. Penny Pincher,

You mention coffee in some of your articles and indicate the cost, preparation and taste of the coffee. Very interesting articles.

Do you have any suggestions for folks that want to limit their intake of caffeine by drinking decaf coffee or tea???  We don't seem to hear much about decaf these days.

Thank you-

A. Follower


Dear Follower,

Thanks for your question- I'll throw out some of my thoughts on decaf and low caffeine beverages and how to save money.

Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options
Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Drink Less Caffeinated Coffee

A simple way to spend less on coffee and to get less caffeine at the same time is to simply drink less coffee.

A couple years ago, I cut back on my caffeine intake.  I used to drink two 16 oz cups of coffee every morning and cut back to one.  As they say, caffeine is habit-forming and you can get headaches if you suddenly change your caffeine intake.  I gradually reduced my coffee drinking over two weeks a little at a time.  Here is an article that describes in more detail how to lower your caffeine consumption.  I now spend 60 cents per day rather than $1.20 per day on coffee.  This adds up to $219 per year.

Tea is Cheap and has Little Caffeine

Tea is really cheap and has a lot of health benefits from the high tannin and antioxidant content of tea.  Black tea has about 1/3 as much caffeine as coffee and green tea has even less caffeine.  You can even get decaf tea- I sometimes drink decaf Earl Grey tea.  You can get tea bags for around 10 cents each or more for higher quality tea.  You can also get loose leaf tea and use an infuser to steep it- loose leaf tea can have a lot more flavor than tea bags.

Coffee Alternatives

When I was trying out ways to reduce my caffeine intake, I tried out some coffee alternatives that were pretty good.  I found some chickory and carob coffee substitutes at the organic food store.  These are grounds that you brew like coffee and they taste sort of like a blend of coffee and hot chocolate with some nutty flavor.  My favorite was a brand called Teeccino.  It is sort of expensive, but is an interesting change from coffee and has no caffeine.

Here is an article that goes into coffee substitutes in detail.

How to Make Cheap Decaf Coffee

One of the simplest ways to get less caffeine and have a cheap beverage is to drink cheap decaf coffee.  If you make your own coffee at home, you can get cheap ground decaf coffee and make your own for about 11 cents for 16 ounces.  As with regular coffee, you can pay more and get higher quality coffee grounds or even get whole bean decaf coffee and grind it yourself.  Making good coffee from whole beans costs about 60 cents for 16 oz.  This article goes into detail about the cost to make coffee.

Decaf Coffee Costs the Same as Regular Coffee
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

It is hard to beat drinking coffee, but too much of a good thing is still too much.  Hopefully the ideas here can help you enjoy hot beverages without spending too much or getting too much caffeine.


Copyright © 2014 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pinch Like You Mean It! Free eBook

Pinch Like You Mean It!  101 Ways to Spend Less Money Now

by Dr. Penny Pincher

Book cover

Read this free eBook it in its entirety here on Penny Pincher Journal, or download it free to read on your favorite eReader or as a PDF file.  Also available for Kindle from

Pinch Like You Mean It! is all about ways to spend less money.  Why give so much of your hard-earned money away by spending it?  Get 101 free tips on how to spend less right now.  Topics include duct tape and other cheap repairs, how to get furniture for almost free, what steps to take in a financial emergency, and many tips on practical ways to spend less money every day.  When can you save money by applying for a credit card?  Check out tip #82.  What frugal tip did Lizzy Borden's father teach Lizzy the night before the infamous ax incident?  Read tip #72 and find out...

Table of Contents

Tip 1: Avoid sales tax on food
Tip 2: Save big at Kohl’s
Tip 3: Save 10% on milk
Tip 4: Make coffee at home, save over $500 per year
Tip 5: Pack lunch instead of eating out
Tip 6: Sharpen disposable razor blades
Tip 7: Cut cable TV or satellite TV
Tip 8: Buy less gas for your car
Tip 9: Enjoy cheap- or free- exercise
Tip 10: Save when eating out
Tip 11: Get pets at the animal shelter for almost free
Tip 12:  Have less stuff
Tip 13: Haircuts at home
Tip 14: Walk instead of drive
Tip 15: Credit card points
Tip 16: Avoid dry cleaning
Tip 17: A Subway $5 footlong is a good deal
Tip 18: Use energy efficient lighting
Tip 19: Improve home insulation
Tip 20: Reduce your house payments with a mortgage re-fi
Tip 21: Buy used items and save
Tip 22: Stop making car payments
Tip 23: Avoid recreational shopping
Tip 24: Cut small unnecessary purchases
Tip 25: Utilize free resources at your library
Tip 26: Free or cheap hobbies
Tip 27: Get an artificial Christmas tree
Tip 28: Plan meals, shop with coupons
Tip 29: Drop newspapers and magazines
Tip 30: Staycation instead of vacation
Tip 31: Stop buying lottery tickets
Tip 32: Stop smoking
Tip 33: Take shorter showers
Tip 34: Find out where your money is going
Tip 35: Avoid boarding your pets
Tip 36: Get multiple estimates for home improvement projects
Tip 37: Get enough sleep
Tip 38: Eat less
Tip 39: Cut down on travel
Tip 40: Install a programmable thermostat
Tip 41: Chew gum instead of eating a snack
Tip 42: Switch from soda to free water
Tip 43: Cut down on coffee
Tip 44: Pay off high interest credit cards first
Tip 45: Negotiate on hotel rates
Tip 46: Take advantage of kids eat free nights
Tip 47: Inexpensive foods that are healthy
Tip 48: Free stuff
Tip 49: Buy fewer things, but better quality
Tip 50: Avoid expensive clothing brands, especially jeans
Tip 51: When to buy food items at convenience stores
Tip 52: Sell unneeded appliances
Tip 53: Wait to buy materials for projects
Tip 54: Don't go for a test drive unless you want to buy a car
Tip 55: Watch out for high pressure sales pitches
Tip 56: Save on insurance with bundle discounts
Tip 57: Don't carry small bills
Tip 58: Wait 48 hours to buy
Tip 59: Use a black permanent marker to revive old clothes
Tip 60: Carry your best coupons in your wallet or purse
Tip 61: Spend more thought and less money on presents
Tip 62: Reduce/avoid knick knacks and collectables
Tip 63: Consider downsizing to reduce expenses
Tip 64: DIY projects to save money
Tip 65: Shop around for the best deal
Tip 66: Take good care of your teeth
Tip 67: Grow your own food in a vegetable garden
Tip 68: How to cut expenses quickly in a financial emergency
Tip 69: Carpool to save on vehicle expenses
Tip 70: Keep your car clean
Tip 71: Try not to move
Tip 72: Use old clothes for rags
Tip 73: Donate unneeded items and save money on taxes
Tip 74: Buy generic- why pay for advertising?
Tip 75: Don't go grocery shopping hungry
Tip 76: Get free checking, avoid bank fees
Tip 77: "Bank" at a credit union rather than a bank
Tip 78: Turn off unneeded lights and appliances
Tip 79: Can you eliminate an extra vehicle?
Tip 80: The art and science of the store return
Tip 81: Discount programs at grocery stores
Tip 82: When to apply for a credit card to save money
Tip 83: Fun night at home
Tip 84: Pizza can make you happy
Tip 85: Use coupons for oil changes
Tip 86: Get furniture for almost free
Tip 87: Shop on tax free day
Tip 88: No more late fees
Tip 89: No more postage
Tip 90: Duct tape and other cheap repairs
Tip 91: Repair shoes instead of throwing them away
Tip 92: Rent a truck instead of buying one
Tip 93: Get building materials for free
Tip 94: Save hardware odds and ends
Tip 95: Bake and decorate your own cakes
Tip 96: Stay off the hamster wheel
Tip 97: Avoid spending deathtraps
Tip 98: Don't throw away all the old batteries
Tip 99: Buy less stuff that is made to be thrown away
Tip 100: Use fans to lower your bills
Tip 101: Read Penny Pincher Journal
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