From the category archives:

Frugality

hardwood floorsAre you interested in installing hardwood floors in your home? This is one of the newest trends in interior design. Despite the fact that you may be interested in hardwood, there is a detail that could be holding you back: cost.

When compared to ceramic tile, vinyl, and carpet, it is easy to see that hardwood is generally the most expensive option. Sure, you could find expensive ceramic – or even granite or slate tiles – but generally, hardwood is usually more expensive.

Fortunately, saving money on the cost of hardwood flooring is easier than ever before. By taking the right steps, you can have great looking wood throughout any room (or multiple spaces) in your home in almost no time at all.

1. Consider Your Options
Not all hardwood floors are created equal. In fact, as you begin to shop around, you will find that you have multiple options. Your three basic choices include:

  • Solid wood floors
  • Engineered wood floors
  • Laminate wood floors

Solid wood floors are the most expensive. These consist of one solid piece of wood, usually ¾ inch thick. Solid hardwood floors come in many sizes, colors, and types of wood. The most common types of wood include maple, hickory, and cherry.

If you want the look and feel of hardwood, but don’t want to spend the money, take a step down to engineered wood floors. These floors are produced by laminating multiples pieces of hardwood plies. While not hardwood through and through, this is a great option.

What about laminate wood floors? This is the cheapest of the three. These floors are not made of wood, but do give off the appearance. If you are solely interested in getting the wood look and feel at the cheapest price, laminate is probably your best choice.

2. Look for Closeout Deals
With so many companies manufacturing hardwood flooring products, from time to time you will find great deals on “old” product. Buying a closeout product does not mean you are getting ripped off. At one point, this sale flooring was the cream of the crop – the new kid on the block.

You will have to do a bit of comparison shopping to find the best closeout deals. In addition to big box and local hardware stores, check online prices. Don’t be shy about ordering online if you are confident in what you are buying and are able to get a great deal.

3. Do It Yourself
One of the biggest costs associated with installing hardware flooring is labor. But what if you do the job yourself? This is by far one of the best ways to cut back on the cost.

Take, for example, a 500 square foot space. If you are able to find flooring for $3 per square foot, your approximate cost will be $1,500. However, if you hire a professional to install the floor, you can expect this price to increase by $1,000 to $1,500. Even if you don’t have experience, hardwood flooring products today are generally simple to install.

Final Thoughts
Upgrading your home can be a lot of fun. Adding hardwood floors is a great way to take the look of any room to the next level. If you are interested in this flooring option, but worried about the cost, consider the three strategies above. By employing one or more of these tips, you can save a lot of money.

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Last week my wife and I decided to make a drastic and radical change in our lives. It was a tough decision but after much thought we decided it was what was really best for both our finances and our family. WE CANCELED CABLE!  I know it sounds crazy but it turns out there really wasn’t any reason we had cable to begin with.

Think about it, why do you have cable? What do you really enjoy watching on TV? For us we love to watch shows like, NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, Bones, Criminal Minds, and The Amazing Race. Do you know what all of these shows have in common? They are all big Network Television shows. Guess what folks, they still send that mind numbing goodness out over the air, and it is even in HD. I went out and spent $20 on an indoor lay flat antenna and I pick up ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. Not only do I pick them up clearly, I get them in HD, FOR FREE!

To supplement our lack of cable television shows we did go ahead and sign up for NetFlix at the $8.99 per month pricing tier. With that we can watch unlimited streaming movies/television shows as well as have 1 DVD out at a time. So far it has worked out pretty well, we can watch movies and I have started watching Dexter and hope to start watching Mad Men shortly. The best part is I don’t have to bother with commercials and I can watch a season of the shows at my own pace.

Lets look at how much this drastic change is going to save me over the long run. I was paying an eye popping $197 per month for Cable and internet. We reduced that to $45 by eliminating cable and knocking our internet bandwidth down one tier. That is a per month savings of $152.00 which works out to $1,824 over the course of a year. That is a HUGE savings for not really much of  sacrifice at all.

Why do you keep your cable or do you?

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Many consumers are finding that there’s power in numbers. Group buying sites, such as Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com, and BuyWithMe.com, offer steep discounts on local services that are being promoted that day. Local merchants get a burst of new traffic that will hopefully lead to new customers and consumers get great deals. You might have seen recent stories highlighted on CNN, USA Today and other media outlets, heralding them as a the new buying revolution, the Web’s latest retail craze.

But it’s not as simple as you might think to cash in on these deals. Group buying sites vary in their business models. Some require a certain number of takers before validating the deal, while others let you click to buy immediately until all the vouchers are sold. Some sites offer an incentive to share the deal. Others use the threat of losing the deal if enough people don’t sign up. The more you share, the more likely the deal will go through.

Many of these deals come with some fine print. Here are some things to watch for when using group buying sites:

  • Check Out the Deal – Sometimes merchants run different deals on different sites. Don’t settle for the first deal you see. Check out other coupon and group buying sites before committing.
  • Know the Restrictions – Some deals are on valid certain days or for a limited time. Tax and tip may not be included. Most of these deals do not give money back if you change your mind.
  • Read Reviews - A deal is only as good as the product or service sold. Make sure this is something that you’ll want to use, and check out the place using review sites like Yelp, Google Maps, or ConsumerSearch.com.
  • Make Sure that You Can Afford It - Sometimes you can buy deals, such as get $50 worth of food and drink for only $25, but after adding the entrée, dessert and drinks, you might find yourself above that $50 budget. Make sure you know what the typical dinner or service costs before signing up.

Most of these sites offer a “How It Works” section. Read the rules before you start using a group buying site. Because these are local offers, make sure that the site offers deals in your area. If they’re not, you can sign up for the waiting list and when they add your city, you’ll start receiving emails.

These deals change often so you’re encouraged to check back daily or sign up for alerts to see the new deal of the day. As you get more friends involved with your group buying, you start getting peer pressure to buy into their favorite deals. Remember, it’s only a deal if you save money, not spend it. If you weren’t planning to buy that product or service then you’re wasting money on services and products that you don’t need.

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Cheaper Isn’t Always Better

April 29, 2010
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Buying the cheapest thing you can find certainly isn’t always a great idea. It is good to be frugal but quality is equally as important as price. I fell game to the cheaper is better trap the other day when I was in the market for a cornhole set. You know the bean bag game […]

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Suburban Garden Experiment – Year Two

April 6, 2010
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Some of you may remember my failed attempt at a successful garden from last year. This year I am aiming sites on a good harvest and a better experience all around. This year I am trying out true square foot gardening as outlined in the book All New Square Foot Gardening ($11.69 Amazon). Using the […]

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