New look, new address

15 05 2009

Free to be Frugal has packed its bags and moved.

It has a new name more reflective of the content on the site . And it has a new, easier-to-remember address.

Check it out here:


Free beer for the tasting

12 05 2009
Brewmaster Nathan Williams

Brew master Nathan Williams

We’re always looking for fun — and free — things to do as a family.  But typically, these events are geared to our youngest member of the family, 11-year-old Caroline.

So when my frugal friend Carolyn mentioned free tours and sampling at a local craft brewery, we jumped at the chance to take an adults-only field trip with our 21-year-old son, Andrew, who is home from college ever-so-briefly before heading out for a summer internship.

Not only did we get a behind-the-scenes education in craft brewing, but we got to sample the six beers that Carolina Brewery currently has on tap at its Pittsboro, N.C., location. The brewery’s original location is on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Led by brew master Nathan Williams, the free tours and tastings are offered the second Saturday of every month at noon and 1 p.m. Click here for more information.

My guys were so excited you would have thought I had gotten them free tickets to see Dave Matthews in concert. This was their kind of freebie.

As the tour began with an explanation of barley and hops, the brew master poured us all generous glasses of a golden ale called Sky Blue. We sipped on that as we moved from the mash tun to the beautiful copper kettles to the fermenters and filters.

Father and son

Father and son

After taking a peek inside the cooler, we each tasted the five other beers currently on tap:  Copperline Amber Ale, Flagship India Pale Ale, Oatmeal Porter, Alter Ego and to Hell n Bock.

I loved the Sky Blue, but most of the rest were too strong for me. A beer connoisseur I am not. But my guys savored each one. My husband gave high marks to the Flagship IPA, while my son put his stamp of approval on Alter Ego.

We are also now official members of Carolina Brewery’s “Brew Crew,” which will get us invites to special events and private beer tastings. Additionally, we are participating in the brewery’s frequent diner’s program, which will reward us with meal discounts and other perks.

I just love local businesses that go out of their way to make their customers feel special. 

While we don’t spend a lot of money on dining out, the Carolina Brewery’s casual, fun atmosphere — and, yes, the lure of a free beer now and again — has successfully won our business twice in the last month alone when special occasions cropped up in our family.

Never underestimate the power of the freebie.

Quick: Free 8 x 10 photo at Walgreens

6 05 2009

Today only — Wednesday, May 6 —  Walgreens is giving away 8 x 10 prints of your favorite photo.

Best of all, you can order your photo online and pick it up at your leisure. Only the order must be placed on May 6.

To take advantage of the offer, register for an account here, import your favorite photo, use the code MOTHER at checkout and choose in-store pickup. One free photo per customer.

This would make a great frugal gift for Mother’s Day.

Reminder: Postage goes up May 11

4 05 2009

img_1700Don’t be late mailing your Mother’s Day cards this year. Not only will you lose favor with Mom, but each card will cost you an extra 2 cents — thanks to a postage increase by the United States Postal Service.

Beginning Monday, May 11, the postage for a first-class one-ounce letter will increase to 44 cents.

If you want to save yourself a few cents, save yourself a bunch of hassle with 2-cent stamps and avoid those long lines at the post office, stock up now on a few sheets of Forever stamps.

Forever stamps can be purchased for the current 42-cent price and are good forever — just as their name suggests.

I bought 10 sets of Forever stamps the last time postage went up and still have six left. (Ifyou’re anything like me, you probably keep in touch with friends and family through email and you probably pay most, if not all, your bills online or through auto-draft.)

I will probably buy a couple more today or tomorrow, but I won’t go overboard. And I definitely won’t wait until Friday when the procrastinators will send lines out the door.

If you do slip up and find yourself stampless on Friday, check your local grocery stores to see if they sell stamps. In my area, Food Lion stores sell stamps without a surcharge, saving time and money.

Postage on other mailing services are also going up. For more information, click here.

I got Clark Smart today

2 05 2009

I learned how to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off today.

You guessed it. I was among the crowd in Durham, N.C., today for one of Clark Howard’s road shows.

It was a couple of hours well spent on a beautiful Saturday afternoon listening to one of America’s cheapest guys — and I mean that in the most sincere, most admiring way. And I don’t think Howard would mind. He often refers to himself as cheap on his syndicated radio and TV shows.

At today’s event, which was sponsored by Coastal Federal Credit Union, Howard was dressed in his trademark casual dress of a blue polo shirt, khaki shorts and sneakers. He was equally down to earth in his advice to the crowd at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

I was struck by his optimistic view of the economy, despite all the difficulties we face as a country in these tough times. No sugar coating. He simply pointed out that Americans should see this time as one of opportunity rather than despair. 

If you’re ready to buy a house, he said, take advantage of bargain-basement prices and equally low mortgage rates.

If you’re thinking of opening a business, take advantage of  the vast amount of talent in the labor pool, take advantage of commercial vacancy rates.

If you have money to invest — and you are young enough — take advantage of low stock prices.

If you’re in the market for a car, buy a new car this summer when, he said, we’ll see the biggest bargains in history. This, by the way, is a huge departure from Howard’s usual advice on car buying. He has always been a big proponent of buying a two- to three-year-old used car, allowing someone else to take the huge hit in depreciation.

It was also great to see some of our home-grown frugal talent as part of Clark’s “pre-game” show. Among those offering advice were Faye Prosser, author and coupon guru from Clayton, N.C., who teaches workshops on using coupons and spending money wisely.

Handing out pens and nifty magnets was Dan Griffin of, a North Carolina-based deals forum that I check two to three times daily to keep track of deals. I highly recommend this site if you’re serious about lowering your grocery bills and live in North Carolina. Every state should have a

I think the best moment of the afternoon for me came at the very end when Howard was wrapping up his question-and-answer session. Someone mentioned something about First Lady Michelle Obama’s $540 sneakers and he revealed he was wearing the most expensive pair he had ever purchased. He paid $55 for them after his doctor warned him cheap shoes would ruin his feet.

He then went on to tell a hilarious story about how he recently went on a business trip and forgot the suit and tie he had intended to bring for a formal speaking engagement.

From his hotel room, he looked in the phone book for the nearest thrift shops. He ended up purchasing a $5.50 sport coat from Goodwill and a tie. When he told the story to the group that evening, they didn’t believe him until he pulled out his receipt.

You’re my kind of people, Clark Howard.

Don’t forget: 31-cent ice cream today

28 04 2009

Here’s your friendly reminder to stop by Baskin Robbins today for a cheap treat.

Scoops of ice cream will cost you just 31 cents today, from 5 to 10 p.m.

Participating stores will sell small scoops for 31 cents in honor of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) National Junior Firefighter Program. The company is donating $100,000 to the program. To find a Baskin Robbins near you, click here.

Free Blockbuster rental this weekend

25 04 2009

If you’re looking for some free entertainment this weekend, Blockbuster is offering a FREE rental of one of its “favorites.”

All you have to do to snare this freebie is say the phrase “chicken little” when you are ready to check out. What’s a little humiliation for a free movie?

Thanks to the folks at for this one!