Category Archives: A Thrifty Life

Saving money by thinking outside the box

12 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

I find myself at the commissary or off-post grocery store at least twice a week. I try to write a weekly grocery list for a one-stop shopping experience, but inevitably I forget something, like an ingredient or toilet paper, or I need to replace something, like spoiled milk, and I find myself back at the store. Since at least one trip per week is unplanned, I arrive at the store a willing victim to brand name products, individually packaged items, and impulse buys. To avoid the most common mistakes of grocery shopping, I put together this list of 12 ways to save money on groceries. Continue reading

13 Holiday Activities for Kids on a Budget

13 Budget-Friendly Holiday Activities for Kids

What school-age child doesn’t look forward to Winter Break with exasperated impatience? The last day of school, they sit on the edge of their seat, watching the clock second hand wind its way around until the final bell rings and they win their freedom. The reprieve only lasts for a couple of weeks, but to kids, it’s a time of endless possibilities (and presents)! On the other hand, to parents, who suddenly have a house full of children again and in need of entertaining, Winter Break brings a slew of challenges. Working parents must rearrange schedules, childcare, or vacation plans, and homemakers experience a drastic interruption in their daily schedule. Do not let your kids’ boisterous energy over the holidays overwhelm you. Rather, funnel that energy into some fun and frugal activities to engage your children and create lasting memories.

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Generic vs. Name Brand

Save Money with Generic Brands

Everyone has surely noticed that generic brands are cheaper than name brands. This applies to groceries, pharmaceuticals and even gasoline. We see the generic or store brand cereal or ibuprofen next to the name brand and we consider the savings that the store brand offers, but we opt to purchase the recognized name brand because we think it is more effective, delicious, healthy or safer. But, experts argue that we could not be more mistaken. You can save money on groceries, medications and many other frequently purchased goods if you buy generic. Continue reading

Blue Star Card Program


The Blue Star Card program is available to Army families in Hawaii. It is a “discount and activities program intended to enhance the well being of families during the stressful time of separation from your soldier.” It provides discounts for Family and MWR events, facilities and childcare. Examples of discounts include 10% off on post restaurants, 10% off craft classes, pool passes, bowling fees, and at outdoor recreation, and 12 free days of pet care, and various childcare benefits.

To be eligible, you must:

  • be a spouse of an army active duty/reserve/national guard soldier or DA civilian on orders overseas (includes deployment, unaccompanied PCS and TDY)
  • if applicable, register your children with Child, Youth and School Services (CYS Services)

To register for your Blue Star Card, bring the following materials to Army Community Services (ACS) at Schofield Barracks or Fort Shafter:

  1.  copy of your spouse’s orders
  2. your Military ID
  3. Completed Blue Star Card application (Available online at the Blue Star Card website)
  4. Completed Photo Release waiver (also online)

For more information, read the Blue Star Card program overview brochure.

Military Black Friday & Ciber Monday Sales 2013

Fill your canteen with caffeine, put on your most comfortable walking shoes, grab your reusable shopping bags, stuff some snacks in your car, and get ready for the 2013 Black Friday and Ciber Monday sales! There are several brick-and-mortar stores and online sites that are offering significant savings over the holiday weekend, some in addition to normal military discounts – so be sure to do your research and always ask “do you offer a military discount?”

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Couponing for Beginners


Instead of getting irritated every time my mail box is stuffed with a coupon circular that I did not request to receive, and instead of stubbornly calling all of them to demand to be removed from their mailing list, I decided to figure out what kind of savings could really be had by coupon-clipping.

Groceries, home goods, construction goods, baby stuff, vehicle items – they ALL have coupon options! I had not realized how useful coupons could be. I’ve glanced through those coupon papers before and it seemed like the coupons were mostly for things I did not shop for in any case. I was wrong; think about the savings on doubling, or even tripling, coupons for everyday use items like toilet paper, toothpaste and deodorant. So, what’s my suggestion? Clear a storage shelf in your house or garage, clip and sort your coupons, and plan your shopping trips accordingly! Read on for a how-to on Couponing for Beginners.

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Discount Dog Treats

With baby numero uno on the way, I’ve been stocking up on household items (think TP, dry goods, cleaning supplies, pet food) to avoid any unnecessary road trips immediately following baby’s arrival, and I’ve been running all over town picking up one item at this store, one at that store, which is draining not only my gas tank but also my patience. So, I thought to myself “why not see what a little online shopping can do?” Continue reading

Amazon Prime Free Shipping!

I am always looking to exercise my frugal gene – inherited from my banker father. Now this gene loves deals, which can be dangerous at bulk stores and when passing sale items. But! My willingness to take the extra time to scout brick-and-mortar stores and online stores means I can find the best deal for the EXACT same product. One of my favorite money saving techniques is Amazon Prime with their free, two-day shipping! Read on to learn more about Amazon Prime and shipping to Hawaii and other remote areas.

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