saving money

Great Sources For Free Or Inexpensive Books

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“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

Although a worthwhile endeavor, reading can be a very expensive habit if you consume a large quantity of books. Fortunately the Web offers plenty of online sources for inexpensive books, and for those who prefer a physical location, a few places still exist where you can buy books cheaply.

Electronic Books

About half the books I read anymore are eBooks (Kindle, Overdrive, etc.) and even though generally speaking they are at least 50 percent cheaper than their hardback counterpart, they can still be pricey. When I need an electronic book — and it is not available free on Overdrive at the library — here are a few places I use.

Book Bub

By far the best service I have used so far is Book Bub. I get a daily email with cheap books based on the subjects I am interested in. At least once or twice a week, there is a free book in the mix and most titles are under $3.

Kindle

If you catch a book when it is older or when Amazon is running a sale, you can find quality books for under $3. Another option many people overlook is if they own a Kindle they can download one free book a month. My experience, though, with the free monthly book is often the quality is not there.

Project Gutenberg

With nearly 50,000 free book titles this is a great place to find books in the public domain (generally speaking all works more than 75 years old). If you want to re-read the classics — or read some new ones — there is no reason to pay for these types of books. You can read them in a Kindle, online or as a PDF.

  • For a list of 15-20 additional sites with free or inexpensive eBooks and audiobooks, check out this article from Daily Kos.

Scholarly Books or Textbooks

I have used Abe Books for this category as well as Amazon. In my opinion Abe Books tends to be a better source for University-produced books and Amazon can be better for textbooks. Abe Books is basically an online store with lots of vendors — so even though the purchase goes through Abe Books they don’t own them. The main thing to watch for when buying from either site is the condition of the book, the seller’s rating and shipping costs.

Paperback Books

I buy the bulk of my paperbacks from Amazon and Better World Books. With both sites you are locked into a minimum price of about $4 per book due to shipping costs. Both sites have a wide selection and a seamless online shopping system.

Offline and in a Store

Three non-online sources for free or cheap books are the public library, thrift stores and book stores. Whenever I come across a title I want to read I first check if the library has an electronic or paper version of the book. Since I have a library card at a couple of libraries — and they have access to libraries throughout the state — I find a lot of popular titles this way.

Since all the used book stores of my youth have faded away I am forced to use new book stores, but scouring the clearance racks has produced a few good, cheap books.

Of all the physical locations, thrift stores have always been the most interesting source of books for me. I use the stores to expand what I read because I have found book about obscure subjects. Subjects I would never had read about if I hadn’t seen the book at a thrift store.

Also, often thrift stores have older out-of-print books for $3 or less. Some out-of-print books can be very expensive if you purchase them online.

Categories: saving money | Tags: , ,

Why You May Want To Try Walmart’s Savings Catcher

krogerEven if you do not use coupons to cut your weekly household and grocery expense, you may want to consider using Wal-Mart’s Savings Catcher program because you can get store credit with just a few minutes of your time.

How it Works

When  you receive your receipt at Wal-Mart you have two options for using Savings Catcher. The easiest is with a smartphone (once you download the app). You simply scan in the QR Code (small square at bottom of the receipt) and the app will begin the 3-4 day process of checking your receipt against local competitor’s ads. In my case, it is 37-38 ads.

If you do not have a smartphone, or prefer to do it online, go to Savings Catcher and enter the receipt number from the bottom of your receipt.

What You Get

Once Savings Catcher is finished checking all the local competitor ads, you will be advised whether or not any lower deals were found. In the first 10 receipts I submitted, all but three found lower prices. You can let the savings accumulate — or move them over to a eGift card. Once you are ready to cash in the eGift card, you can either print it out and use it at your local Wal-Mart — or use it for online purchases.

Either way, it’s money back in your pocket.

Other Ways To Save

You can cut your costs even more with these coupon-based apps.

Categories: Family History, saving money

How I cut my grocery bill (almost) in half

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Besides the $82.89 I saved at Kroger (my final bill was $108.72), I will save $2 off fuel (20 gallons with a 10 cent per gallon discount), $1 from ibotta and $1.75 from Checkout 51.

Once I started working from home, I took over the grocery shopping and one of the challenges I imposed on myself is finding ways to reduce what I spend each month. Because of this I have come across several systems that work almost seemlessly with my shopping.

Paper Coupons. These I am using less and less since I have moved to digital coupons. But, whenever I do use them, I pair them up with store sales so I can get the most benefit from them. In my recent trip to grocery, I bought 6 jars of Ragu — normally priced $1.79 — which would total $10.64. But since Kroger had a buy 6 get $3 off deal — they were $7.74. My three coupons were worth 75 cents each bringing my total down to $5.49. I had a 4th coupon — a store coupon for a free Ragu — ($1.29) bringing my final cost for 6 jars down to $4.20 or 70 cents per jar.

Digital Coupons. I tend to get my best deals with digital coupons probably because I add them to my card based on what I know I will buy. Once they are loaded to the card, I don’t have to worry about losing them. I normally double check my list of digital coupons before heading to the store.

Saving Star. I get on this site once a week just to make sure I have grabbed any deals that may save me a few dollars. Although, you won’t see huge savings here, the advantage is you receive cash back for the purchase and once you have $5 in your account you can cash it out.

Apps. I just starting using ibotta and Checkout 51. Similiar in concept to Saving Star, these systems deposit cash into your account and you then cash it out once you reach $5 (ibotta) or $20 (Checkout 51). They are designed for smart phones and you simply photograph your receipt with your phone and select the deals you purchased. With ibotta, you do have to play trivia type games to earn the rebate.

For hoousehold goods, I tend to utilize the extra bucks program at CVS. This seems to keep my cost low especially for TP, paper towels and dishwasher soap.

Categories: Middle age, saving money