Tag Archives: saving money

Frugal Friday: On the road again

20 May

Happy Friday all! I am rolling back up to Charlotte today and not looking forward to the 11 hour drive. I am driving back from the west coast of Florida (recap coming soon!) and am excited for a new route to take but nervous since I’ve never come from this way. Maybe one of these days I will finally put out the money for a GPS? Until then, it’s Google Map directions all the way.

Am I the only person who still uses paper directions? Maybe I haven’t bought into the whole GPS thing is because I have a problem with authority and don’t like people telling me what to do?

Some tips for saving money while road tripping:

*Bring a lunch box with you. I like to bring one with one or two ice packs so I can bring drinks, yogurt and other perishable items

*Instead of buying snacks at gas stations, stock up before hand. I raided my parents cupboard before I drove to my sisters and snagged some trail mix, soda, fruit and granola bars.

Holy crap, my parents are hipsters and now organic!

*Check your local newspaper for deals. I found a coupon for a $19.99 Mani/Pedi comboo—unhead of!

So there was a catch with this deal.

The place was huge however it reeked of old people, Aqua Net and moth balls.

Seriously, this troll looking senior was off her rocker. She kept talking about how bunions ran in her family but she was blessed because she didn’t have any. From the look on her nail tech’s face, she was lying.

I was the youngest person in there so that boosted my ego for a few minutes until I sat down and figured out what the deal was with the cheap price. You can get a regular pedicure (the one with the $19.99 combo) or a spa pedicure. The spa pedicure is like a normal pedi–chair, hot water, bubbles and all. The regular? Not so much. Instead of going into one of the comfy chairs, they brought me a foot bath to soak my feet in. It’s all gravy b/c you would think that it would be plugged in so the water would be kept warm right? Negative. So my feet sat in the foot bath while the water quickly went cold. Nasty. WTF??
There was one lady who shelled out the extra $5 to get the spa pedicure and the other old ladies scowled at her since apparently, she was a big spender. I wish I would have followed her lead and spent the extra $5. At least I got my nails did and they looked good.

*Go to local thrift stores for new digs, books, knick knacks, etc. I went to a Habitat for Humanity thrift store on Thursday and found this Nine West purse for $1

Do I need another purse? Hell to the no but for as many purses that I have, I don’t have a plain black one. I think it’s $1 spent wisely.

*Itching to work out on vacation? Check out the gyms in the area you are going to visit. I belong to the YMCA and checked out the one in Florida and my membership allowed me to go 14 times at another branch outside of my metro area. I checked into LA Fitness which offers three day passes for free and Life Time Fitness offered a one day pass. I ended up not going to either one but Life Time Fitness was a bit pushy about me coming in. Homegirl slice is still emailing me and even offered to buy me lunch if I went in!

*Rely on the kindness of strangers. Ok, maybe everyone shouldn’t do this. But if you know me, I am a social bird and a talker. I often chat it up with strangers when out and I was at a bar the other night and a guy overhead I was from out of town and bought me a free drink. Score. Bonus points if they buy you a mixed drink on $1 beer night!

*Go to the local supermarket or discount score to get goodies for the ride back. I went to Big Lots on Wednesday night and got the following for under $7:

Hello Bear Granola! I haven’t tried this brand yet but it’s been on my list of must try’s

Happy savings!

What’s the longest road trip you’re made?

Anyone have any fun road trips planned for the summer?

Frugal Friday Guest Post: Food Snob

13 May

Happy Frugal Friday! I have an extra special guest post today from Miss Monique from Food Snob.  I love Monique and I had the priviledge to hang out with her not once but twice last year when I visited NYC.  I am so happy I met her via the blogs since she is just all around fabulous and one of the blogs I have to check out every day! She is going to tell you all about her crafty ways to save money in the Big Apple!

I can’t exactly recall the moment when I discovered Ms. Shaka’s blog, but I know I became hooked immediately. I love her wit and cheery outlook on life. And who could resist a blog that has daily doses of cuteness with the adorable Lincoln? Seriously, who?

I met Tiffany last year in person and again a few months ago. We are two peas in the same pod. What’s not to love about this girl? When she asked me to guest blog, I was honored. Like, extremely and I sought out an opportunity to put a little bit of me and a little bit of her into one amazingly awesome blog post.

Her latest addition: Frugal Fridays, is turning into my favorite segment. I am, in no way, a bargainista. In the city that never sleeps (good ol’ NY, NY) saving isn’t as easy. But I have found ways of coping with the price tag that comes with dining out and having fun all while maintaining a breathable budget.

One thing that I have been doing as of late (and this is helpful to you single folk) is that prepare two new recipes per week and grocery shop ONLY for what I need to make those dishes. Sometimes, I purposely seek out recipes with 5 ingredients or fewer.

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For instance, these skinny chimichangas (http://www.iarethefoodsnob.com/2010/09/skinny-chimichangas.html) I made last year were healthy, cheap, and freezable! Don’t want to eat the same thing all week? Portion the meals into single servings in separate containers and freeze them. On those days you can’t find the energy to cook, pop one of those babies in the micro for a homemade meal. (this comes in handy after happy hours!)

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Another source which Tiffany is familiar with: Groupon! Deal Sites! I find many deals on great places to eat! I set a certain dollar amount in my mind and will not spend over that amount. When the deal comes along for that great hummus place I have been eyeing and is under my target I go for it. I recruit my best eater and we hit the restaurant together. And usually, as is the understanding my friends and I have, if I purchase the deal, the guest pays the difference. But this is not a recommended method with people you have just met or people that you aren’t very close to.

Lastly, I have discovered an amazing resource to feed my restaurant addiction. Restaurants.com. It’s a website that sells discount gift cards to restaurants. More times than not, the restaurants offering these gift cards are likely to be a little less than successful and use the gift certificates to reel in more patrons.

I found my local sushi joint on restaurants.com offering a $25 gift card for a mere $10. The catch is you have to spend $35 to get the deal and if done right, you can have a huge dinner for less than $20. On some days, I find promo codes that bring the price for the gift cards down to $1. ONE DOLLAR for $25 worth of sushi??? Yes please.DSC00912

I called my friend Bunz and told her about my deal and the next thing I knew, we were sitting in the quaint sushi joint and presenting our gift card. One word of advice: call ahead to ask if they still honor the gift cards. DSC00913

Since we were getting a great deal we decided to order the sushi love boat. It’s a $30 platter of sushi meant to be shared and even when I have Japanese I never order the boat because it’s a bit pricey. But there was no time like the present to try something new. DSC00915

Everything was amazing. And it was nice to try sushi that wasn’t salmon or tuna. The fish was fresh. Bunz, who only just recently started loving sushi, was equally impressed.

We rubbed our bellies and asked for the check. After the deduction our of $25 ($1) gift card, our total was a whopping $20 (we ordered an appetizer).

And if you break it down, split it in two, that’s $10 each for a sushi boat.

Not a bad deal! Not a bad deal at all.

I hope I haven’t bored any of you to death and hope that if you took anything away from this, that you know you CAN enjoy dining out on a dime!

Happy hour, hot babes and humidity

12 May

While hanging out here in Florida, I feel like I’ve been quite productive. Yes, the days have consisted of napping, hanging by the pool and beach and spending time with these pups

but I feel like I’ve gotten a lot done besides that.

I found the local YMCA branch in Boca Raton and dropped in the other day to see if I could work out there. I asked my local branch if they knew the rules when visiting Y’s in other cities and they said it’s at the discretion of the specific branch. So when I went to the branch here, I was pleasantly surprised when they told me I could visit 14 times in one month! woot woot! The place may smell like old people and they don’t have the latest machines like my Y in Charlotte but it is definitely useable. I went the past two days and had some decent workouts.

And holy hot babes at the Boca YMCA batman! I don’t know what these men do for a living but they are gorgeous—kind of like a toned down version of Jersey Shore-current and in 30 years. These men are out of control hot so it’s awesome to have some eye candy while working out.

The dbag wearing a wool hat to the YMCA when it’s 90 degrees outside? Dude, stop trying to be Colin Ferrell.

My mom really doesn’t cook that much anymore and my parents are always going out to eat. I am usually fine with dining on someone else’s dime however I do not want to be going out to eat every single meal since that just spells trouble. I told them instead of going out for every meal, let’s do one meal of lunch or dinner at home then go out to eat for the other. This has been working well except for the fact that my parents keep trying to get me drunk.

Don’t worry, they aren’t trying to take advantage of me anything. Or maybe they are trying to get me drunk so they can steal my car and my dog. Add the fact that I am unemployed to that and I’m a country song!

Ok, maybe not so much but Florida has happy hour specials whereas North Carolina doesn’t. So that means that here they do BOGO drinks from 4 to 7pm or whatever hours they do happy hour.  My parents keep pushing me to get a drink when I go out in a very ABC afterschool special kind of way. They don’t tell me that all the cool kids are having drinks but they are a step away from it. So, with that, more Blue Moons that normal have been consumed.

We went to The Quarterdeck on Tuesday night since we had a coupon for a free half rack of ribs

Yep, frugality runs in the family

We went in and sat in the bar area however once I sat down and saw the sketchers sitting at the bar, I asked the parentals if we could sit outside. I’m all for people watching however these guys were giving me the heebie jeebies! One of them had an eye patch on. I’ve never met a normal person with an eye patch so there has to be a story there, one guy was taking up three seats at the bar and looked like he brought his own pillow to sleep there and the others looked like they just got their sweet freedom from the Broward County Pen.

I ordered the fish and chips with a side of two Blue Moons.

When the fish and chips came out, I was stoked. Nothing like some fish and chips, especially when you’re near the beach but to put it nicely…..it sucked. I don’t know if the cod was past it’s hey day or what but it didn’t taste fresh and squeezing a few lemons and dousing it in tartar sauce didn’t even help. If I ever go back, I will stick to their conch fritters as I have in the past.

I met up with some of my sorority sisters on Wednesday for lunch at Rocco’s Tacos. Even though I went to college in WV, a few of them moved to FL after college and have been here ever since. I love getting to visit family and friends while I drop by.

Seeing friends and eating Mexican food? Count me in! My parents told me their guacamole was out of this world and they make it tableside for you. When we sat down, I was secretly hoping that we would order it and my friends told me we had to get an order. Success!

I could have ordered a bowl of the guacamole and been happy. Seeing that it was $12, it could have been a meal itself! Instead, I went with the blackened mahi taco platter with rice and salad.

The mahi was fresh and flavorful so I was happy with the 180 degree change of fish from the other night. However, instead of little pieces of mahi, they give you one huge chunk so it’s not as messy as potentially could be. A good time had by all though, it’s crazy to think that I’ve known these girls for over 10 years.

Other random things?

*I am totally down for being a Cicada bug. I think I could sleep for 13 years!

*I have a new love and it goes by the name of Temptations by Jello Strawberry Cheesecake

Yes, it may be gone after only three bites but it’s absolutely delish!

*I’m started to develop an unhealthy habit for Dunkin Donuts.

I went to three different DD’s within a 24 hour time span.This can’t be a good thing for anyone.

*I had Cool Whip for breakfast the other day. But then the adult in me spoke out and told me not to have Cool Whip…..put some fruit under it to get my produce in!

*Ross sells Philosophy for only eight bones!

*I thought Charlotte had bad humidity. I was wrong. I forgot how bad it is here and am finally just starting to dry off after being inside for 20 minutes. Gross.

*And how is Charlotte out of eggplants when Florida is selling them for $.99? Why is the Sunshine State hogging all the eggplants?

*The Coconut Mocha frappuccino is a gift from the gods. I really didn’t need to know that something so delicious existed but oh well, at least I got it half priced.

What’s your favorite frappuccino?

Do your high school or college friends live in your hometown? A lot of my high school friends still live there but since I went to college 18 hours away, not too many of my college friends?

Frugal Friday: I got your couponing right here

6 May

Happy Friday all! This week’s Frugal Friday is going to be on my couponing habits….pronounced couponing not q-poning, drives me BANANAS when people call it q-pons! Anyways, you all know I am forever on the prowl (rawr) for a good deal and saving money wherever I can.

Step 1: Getting the coupons

My mom used to work for a newspaper and would send me extra coupons they had sitting around there. But now, I have to be like everyone else and pay for my Sunday paper. It’s all good though, I don’t mind shelling out $1.50 in exchange for major savings. I love the Sunday newspaper because on the front page they tell you the amount of savings with the coupons enclosed.

Besides newspapers, I print coupons online. I primarily use Coupon Mom and Coupon Suzy to get them and print them off. I like a lot of brands on Facebook because many of them offer an introductory coupon for liking them so check out your favorite brands on there!

Step 2: Organizing the coupons

I’ve had my fruitalicious coupon organizer for six years and carry it wherever I go.

I organize in groups by brand name A-D, E-I, J-N, O-S, T-Z.

Now, the big issue with my coupons used to be making sure I used them in time. Sometimes once you clip the coupons and store them, the expiration date could pass right by you and you’re out of savings. We don’t like that. I go through my coupon organizer every week and when I do, I pull out the ones that are going to expire in less than a month and highlight them in the upper right hand corner.

By doing this, it stands out when you are looking through your coupons instead of hiding away with the others.

Step 3: Finding the Deals

Every week, I take the supermarket circulars that I get in the mail, lay them out on the floor and pull out my coupons to see if I have any coupons for the items that are on sale.

This past week was Super Double Coupons  up to $1.98 at Harris Teeter and I wanted to take advantage of the savings. I went to  Our Coupon Home and found a thread noting many of the items on sale and coupons that are currently valid for those items. On the site, they show how much the item is, what coupons are out there (a link to printable ones) then how much you will pay for the item. If you go to Our Coupon Home’s main page, you can select a supermarket near you to find the specials of the week! It’s a great website to use if you are looking to get the most bang for your buck!

 

Step 4 : Using the Coupons

Once I went to Our Coupon Home and looked at the specials for the week and checked if I had any coupons or could print them out online, I was ready to go. I made a list of all the items I needed to get. Some items weren’t on my original list but Our Coupon Home mentioned some items that I could get for free or under $1. No, I didn’t need some of those items right at the moment but there is a 98% chance I will use them in the next two months so I would stock up. That being said, I went to Harris Teeter on Saturday morning and had my eye on the prize. I had my sneakers on, two cups of coffee in my system and was moving at record speeds throughout the store. I organize my list by section of the grocery store: Produce, Deli, Middle Rows, Meat, Dairy, Frozen, etc. so I just make my way from front to back and collect my items.

Step 5: Show off the deals you find

I now present you with what I got on Saturday April 30 at Harris Teeter (please don’t skip the photos to see how much I got all of this for!) :

A lot of items right?

Total of all the items above? $58

But after my coupons? Are you ready for this??

$15.12!!!!

 

When the cashier told me the total, I seriously broke out into a happy dance at the check out stand (you’re welcome for shaking my booty towards you, bagboy) I couldn’t believe that my coupons saved me that much money! I got a number of items for free—the hummus, half and half, guacamole, chocolate bar, Luna Bar, So Delicious Coconut Milk, Tyson Chicken and Chef Michaels dog food. I got many other items for under $1—Tony’s Pizza—not the healthiest but for $.17 a piece? Yeah, I am buying it and will eat as drunk food! The Smart Balance milk was around $.60, Newman’s Own Salsa $.89 and  Yoplait Greek Yogurt $.44/each.

So if someone tells me coupons aren’t worth it or take too much time to look for/clip/organize, I will say come look at this post. You just have to dedicate a little time each week to doing so but there are sooooo many sources out there, you would be a fool not to use coupons.

What are your coupon tips?

Any good deals this week?

 

Gringos falling from the sky

5 May

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Or should I say Feliz Cinco de Mayo? No clue, I would have hoped that four years of Spanish would help me out with this but apparently not.

As you all know, I love Mexican food. I could exist on a diet of chips, salsa, nachos and tacos if possible.  To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I whipped up a batch of homemade salsa!

Ingredients:

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup frozen corn (thawed)

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbsp jalapeno flakes

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic

Directions: Simple-mix everything together!

Let chill for a few hours then pair up with your favorite Mexican dish! For Cinco de Mayo Eve, I made chicken quesadillas with red onions and red peppers

Served along side my salsa and a Wholly Guacamole Spicy style

I’ve only tried Wholly Guacamole Original version before and the spicy was a nice change. It definitely had me reaching for a glass of water!

For breakfast today, I started my day off with a big cup of coffee before anything. It was 39 degrees overnight…..in Charlotte….in May! That is completely unheard of and I believe it’s a new all time low for this time of year. As soon as I thawed out I made scrambled eggs topped with cheese, guacamole and salsa

For lunch today, I went to Moe’s for their $3 Burrito special in lieu of Cinco de Mayo

I love Moe’s because they yell at you when you walk in and you get free chips and salsa!

And soon–off to drink some margaritas and who knows, maybe meet some hot men. Maybe I will find a real El Guapo.

And if you don’t know who El Guapo (above) is, I weep for you.

Are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo?

Have you ever been to Mexico?

So, now what?

2 May

Some of you have asked what my next steps are going to be now that I am without job. In all honestly, I have no clue. All I know is that I’m taking a much needed break from life. However, while doing so, I’m going to focusing on three things:

1) Reclaiming my health-I’ve gained 15 lbs this past year due to depression and stress. Needless to say, I’m not too happy about that when I’ve worked so hard to lose weight in the first place. I’m going to start going to the gym more consistently because, hi, what other excuse do I have not to go? I’m going to check out some classes at the YMCA to take since they are included in my membership fee and up the ante with my strength training. I may also really up the ante and start swimming again since it won’t put a lot of pressure on my knee. They have a pretty sweet sauna and jacuzzi that I can use afterwards so when I go to the gym, it’s probably going to turn into a two to three hour event. Fine with me, I want to get my moneys worth and get back on the right track!

2) Unwind-This is piggybacking off of #1. I need to lower my stress level, I just have to. My most recent job put a lot of stress on me but so did my job before that, that I was in for four years. I like to think of myself as a laid back person but truth is, I’ve never been so high strung in my life as I’ve been in the past year. My blood pressure is borderline high and I’ve never had issues with blood pressure in the past (blaming weight gain and stress on that). Add the fact, that on a normal day I would down two to three cups of coffee from Starbucks (and I’m not talking tall cups, go grande or go home!) so I’m pretty sure that wasn’t good for my central nervous system. Also, depression is not a good look for me. The past five months have been rough. It got to the point where I didn’t want to talk to my friends or get out of bed in the mornings (weekends included) And all because of a stupid job. The money was great and I had a history with the bank but what’s the point in making all of this money if I can’t even look forward to enjoying it?

3) Travel-I’m going to Florida next week to see the parental units and my sister. I don’t have a set plan of how long I will be gone, which is nice for a chance. I have to be back in Charlotte for a wedding the weekend of the 21st so I feel like I have a lot of time to spend there with them, see high school friends and duh-work on the tan. Once I get back to Charlotte, I will be here for a week then go to Indianapolis to see my other sisters and nieces for Memorial Day weekend. From there I will be driving to Chicago to check out the scene there. NYC and Colorado may be making a special appearance in there as well! My lease is up June 30 so I have to be out of there by then and would like to be out of Charlotte by then as well. I am going to try to sell most of my stuff on Craigslist or Ebay and if that doesn’t work, give the bigger things to charity and if I still have a lot of clothes and random things laying around, put those in storage.

So, yeah, that’s it for now. Today was a perfectly relaxing yet productive start to my “me-time”

The first stop of the day was the Value Village to get some new digs for cheap! I found some pretty good deals. The tags of the day were any item that had a pink tag was 50% off and any one with yellow was 75% off. That being said, I had my eye on the prize since I am now without job and have to really be frugal. I kept my eye on the pink and yellow prize and kept singing to myself “Pink and yellow, pink and yellow” to the tune of “Black and Yellow” which worked out in my favor since the first thing I found was a Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirt. No pink or yellow tag but I didn’t mind shelling out $1.50 for the shirt since I know Neyal will love it.

Fila shirt –$1.50

NY& Company Skirt- $1.25

Nike T-Shirt-$.38

Eddie Bauer Cardigan-$.63

Pink T-Shirt-$.75

Plaid Shirt-$1.50

Denim Jacket-$3.50 (don’t think I almost put this away because it was so expensive compared to everything else)

Lincoln burrowing under all my finds-priceless

Total spent– $11.90

What would I do without Value Village? I’ll tell you-be in credit card from too much shopping. The only downside to the place is the questionable people there (I seem to be the most normal person there and that’s not saying a lot) and the fact that I need major hand sanitizer action going on afterwards

I went to Ross afterwards since I didn’t find a dress at VV. I was just looking for a simple sun dress or strapless dress to wear when I’m in FL and found this cute dress for $10. I wasn’t too happy about having to pay $10 for something new but it was on clearance so that smoothed the burn over a bit.

When I got back home, Lincoln and I went for an hour long walk. I can’t tell you the last time we went out for that long and it was a perfect day to do so! The past three months my knee has been killing me, so much that the single act of walking more than a few blocks would leave me in pain. But the past few days, not so much. Could stress from work really have been making my knee pain worse? I guess we will see but I just thought it’s a bit odd it starts to feel better as soon as work went adios. Anyways, Lincoln and I headed over to  park in my neighborhood that I’ve been wanting to check out. The park is only 1/2 mile away but I always made excuses not to go. Excuses like I was exhausted by the time I got home from work to go or that I was too busy on the weekend running errands that I didn’t have time (or energy) to run during the week. I hate that I made so many excuses in the past not to go so it felt extra good to go today. Turns out the park has trails and tables throughout it with different paths to walk on. Lincoln was sniffing away, enjoying the new terrain and when he would stop, I would do calf raises or squats. I figure if we have to keep stopping every other minute, I may as well keep the burn going.

After lunch, Lincoln and I continued to enjoy the day. I have a side yard that’s fenced in and gets optimal sun light so it was tanning and relaxing time for me! All was right-the sun was out, Pandora was playing, iced water in hand and dog by my side. It was hot enough that I could feel it on my skin but not so much that I was sweating my balls off.  Lincoln had to go in a little after we went out there since it was too hot for him but I continued to stay and enjoy the sun.

All in all, a successful first day of “God-knows-where-my-life-is-going?”

How much sleep did you get last night? There was some little announcement late last night from the President. In the past, I would have dismissed it and said “Oh, I’ll just catch it on YouTube in the morning” but it was nice to stay up without having to worry about work in the morning and take part in history. I think I got about seven hours of sleep so I was a happy gal.

Do you visit your local parks or national parks?

Frugal Friday Guest Post: Two Boos Who Eat

29 Apr

Hi everyone—happy Frugal Friday! As many of you know, today is my last day of work for God knows how long. So my eye is on the prize and will be going to happy hour to celebrate my freedom from corporate America after the work day. But have no fear because I have a wonderful guest post for you all today from Amanda of Two Boos Who Eat. I love reading the adventures of Amanda and Andy in Southern California and am envious of what a solid and supportive marriage they have. Reading their blog always brings a smile to my face!

Hi Simply Shaka readers! My name is Amanda and I blog over at Two Boos Who Eat with my husband Andy.

Right now, I’m working on my teaching credential and don’t have a paying job. It’s hard but I’ve learned to be super creative when it comes to saving money!

· Groupon& Livingsocial aren’t super present in the suburbs but they DO offer good deals in L.A. so I try to follow the e-mails and save them for a rainy day. I recently purchased an hour massage on Livingsocial for $40. I wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

· Local community supported agriculture! My husband and I signed up for a weekly organic produce pick-up. It’s $20 a week and it’s ALL organic. We can’t pick our produce since it’s seasonal, but we always get a nice variety of delicious fruit, greens and veggies. I highly suggest researching “CSAs” or “Produce Pick-ups” in your area.

· Couponing! I subscribe to several coupon blogs on google reader. I put all of the coupon blogs in a separate folder so it’s easier for me to check it. My favorites:

o Organic Deals

o Mambo Sprouts

o The Krazy Coupon Lady

· Target Clearance I’m frugal when it comes to buying clothes while not having a full-time job. I’ve found cardigans, yoga pants, socks and pajamas for super cheap.

· Travel I’m all about Travel Zoo.  They have AWESOME deals.

Anywho, there are a few of the ways I’ve made things work during a tight time. I’m always looking for more ways! Let me know if you have any!

Do you belong to a CSA?
Where do you get your coupons from-online or the newspaper?

 

Want to guest post and school others on how you save money?  Shoot me an email! simplyshaka@gmail.com