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  1. The New And Improved CH

    March 18, 2011 by Jill

    Hello readers new and old. I’m happy to announce the release of a new and much improved Cheapskates Handbook. Aside from a shiny new layout, we also will be improving the content and post regularity here. Expect lots of traditional delicious recipes, tons of links to fun food articles, regular wacky recipe ideas and more.

    You may also notice that the local restaurant reviews and other localized travel advice will no longer be appearing on the homepage. These articles will still appear in your feeds and can now be found under the travel guides category. I figured it was best not to muddy up the site with too many local articles that may not apply to some of our readers, but if you are still interested in reading these, there are still plenty of ways to find them.

    I hope you like the new site and, as always, if you have any questions, comments, complaints or article suggestions, please feel free to email me at admin@cheapskateshandbook.com.


  2. 10 Homemade Gift Ideas

    November 22, 2010 by Jill

    If you’re looking to get your family something special this year without spending a huge chunk of money, consider making them delicious food gifts. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Martha Stewart’s website has a ton of great ideas on homemade food gifts. A few of my favorite selections are the caramel-almond popcorn and the brandied pears.
    • Just about everyone loves fudge an a cute tin filled with this great German chocolate fudge recipe will surely bring some smiles.
    • Canning is always a good call. You can make some unique jams your family can’t find in stores, like this guava jam recipe. Pumpkin butter is also a great gift. And so is lemon curd.
    • Pickling is also a good call, particularly if it involves foods directly from your garden. This pickled tomato recipe sounds great and doesn’t require processing in a canner.
    • While most Americans are wary of munching down citrus peels, a bit of these candied citrus peels will quickly change their mind, particularly if it is also filled with these beautiful candied orange slices.
    • For something beautiful and incredibly simple, try combining honey, dried fruit and nuts in a clear jar.
    • Food mixes allow you to give the recipient something they can make themselves without much effort. As a bonus, it’s easy to make these look fun and festive.
    • For those crafty enough, homemade stuffed animals are great gifts for kids and women alike.
    • Homemade perfume is a unique gift that won’t soon be forgotten.
    • A homemade fleece blanket can be customized to match the living room it was made to adorn or the personality of the gift recipient.

    Remember, you can always give a variety of these gifts as well and just put them together in a nice gift basket.


  3. Can Round Table Pizza Still Compete?

    September 11, 2010 by Jill

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on March 20, 2011.

    When Dominos redid their formula, I was extremely skeptical and hesitant to try the new recipe. But I did like what I had, and at $5.99 for a large two topping, their price simply can’t be beat. In fact, it seemed to spurn a race with most pizza chains trying to have the best value for the price. Both Papa Johns and Pizza Hut have turned to offering unlimited toppings for $10 (although Papa Johns has since canned this promotion). And Little Cesaers has continually been pumping out $5 cardboard circles for mass consumption.

    While there is still plenty of room for gourmet pizzerias and even neighborhood spots, can a massive chain that refuses to drop prices even hope to compete for value? Round  Table better hope so.

    To review the chain, the BF and I ordered two large pizzas from the Round Table in Santee last night, both of which were on special. Even though they were on sale, the total still came out to $30 without any tips. At more than twice the cost of two large Dominos pizzas, the chain seemed to be losing right away. But then we looked at the sizes. The Round Table pizzas were at least two inches larger in diameter and they were significantly thicker, so realistically, you are getting more pizza at least.

    But when it comes to toppings and flavor, Round Table blows the competition away. We ordered their Italiano pizza for $11, which has a slightly different crust than usual and comes in either cheese or peperoni. The crust was good, well seasoned and thick. Both my boyfriend and I probably could have ate no more than a third of the pizza each, which is a lot less than the full Domino’s pizza it takes to fill us each up.

    Then came the BBQ chicken pizza. This had their traditional cheese-laden crust and an array of toppings, including chicken, bacon, green onions, garlic sauce, BBQ sauce and red onions. It was just as filling as the other pizza and $5 more, but the flavor was incomparable. The combination of toppings blended together perfect, it was sweet, savory, tart and heavenly.

    After a full investigation, I think it’s safe to say that Round Table certainly holds its own against other chains, even if the price is significantly higher. So next time you’re ordering, consider more than price, consider the fillingness of the pizza and the flavor. Round Table just might be the best value for your dollar.

    I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5, because, hey, it could still be a little cheaper.


  4. Straight Talk: When It Is Better to Pay More

    March 15, 2010 by ruetheday

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on March 20, 2011.

    In November, I made the regrettable mistake of trying out WalMart’s Straight Talk Wireless A $30 plan for 1000 minutes sounded like a great deal. Unfortunately, this is most certainly a case of “you get what you pay for.”

    I started out by heading to WalMart and buying my phone (you can only use a phone purchased specifically through their service) and the phone service card. Then I set about activating it. My first issue was with the fact that the company does not tell you that it is a prepaid phone plan. Yes, they say “no contracts,” (by which they mean no time commitments although you are still required to agree to a contract) but there are certain month to month plans through actual cell phone companies that don’t have time commitments either.

    Personally, I hate the idea of a pre-paid 30 day contract because that means if you forget to pay your bill by even one day, you lose service immediately. I had to subscribe to their auto-pay system to ensure I wouldn’t lose service, which also meant that I risked forgetting the bill was coming and over drafting my bank account at the end of every month.

    Then came the terrible customer service. When I registered, my T-Mobile phone number was supposed to transfer over to my new phone…but it didn’t. Instead, my phone number stopped working, but I could still somehow make calls from my new Straight Talk phone. When I called the outsourced customer support, they used my phone number as the account number, which meant that they couldn’t find my account. When they finally did look it up using a bunch of wonky work arounds, they finally got my phone to receive incoming calls, but the internet still didn’t work on the device, which was supposed to be included in the plan. I ignored this problem because I didn’t really need the internet, but I still find it odd that no one could help me to get the internet working, nor did they even care.

    Later on, I couldn’t access my account on their website because you can only log in with your phone number. I called support again (went through the complex work around to get them to find my account without the phone number) and found out the number was still somehow not in their system. Until the number was in their system, I couldn’t get online with my account –even though I had originally signed up to the service online using that phone number!

    Within a month, I found out that I still had a few months left on my T-Mobile contract and I wasn’t particularly impressed with Straight Talk, so I opted to switch back. Enter nightmare ordeal #2. To keep my old number (which was fairly important since I just sent out a bunch of resumes with the number on it), I had to have Straight Talk release my number. Big problem.

    Remember how they couldn’t transfer my number at first? Yeah, it turns out they never actually fixed that. Somehow my phone number was sitting in limbo and although I made and received calls, they never actually activated the number. So in order to get my number back, they had to release it, but they couldn’t find it in the system to do so.

    The representative at the T-Mobile store spent an hour on the phone with them trying to get them to figure this out and fix the problem and eventually I was instructed to “call back next week and we should have it fixed.” So I did, and the woman who answered the phone had no idea what I was talking about, even when I told her from the beginning, “I need to speak to your elevated level of customer service.” Finally, after the eighth explanation, she says “ok, let me put you through to the elevated level of customer service.” When I got through to someone who actually knew what they were talking about, they told me “call again next week.” A week later, the phone number just transferred on its own.

    After the whole experience, I decided to sell my Straight Talk phone because I had no intention of ever working with the company again. So I put it on Craigslist, thinking the people could just activate it and that will be the end of it. Unfortunately, Straight Talk won’t activate it for someone else without all of my personal info, so the strangers I sold it to had to keep calling me back, asking for my old address, my mother’s maiden name and my birthday. If I had known that selling my phone could have opened me up to identity theft, I would have just sent the phone to the recycler.

    Every single step of the way my experience with Straight Talk was horrendous. I hope that sharing my story will at least dissuade a few people from trying their service, at least until they improve things dramatically.

    On a 5 point scale, they get a 1.


  5. Free Tacos At Jack In The Box Today

    August 11, 2009 by ruetheday

    Today, August 11 only, recieve two tacos for free at any participating Jack In The Box. Just bring in your coupon (get them here) and enjoy.


  6. Nationwide Freebies This Weekend

    July 10, 2009 by ruetheday

    Today is national cow appreciation day. To celebrate, put on your best cow costume and get a free combo meal at Chick-fill-a.

    As if that wasn’t good enough, tomorrow, 7/11, is national 7-Eleven day, where you can get free small Slurpees and your local franchise may even offer other special deals to celebrate.

    For more info: Visit their respective websites Chic-fil-a and 7-11

  7. Free Paint

    June 26, 2009 by ruetheday

    150_93454Looking to paint your bedroom, a piece of furniture…anything? You’re in luck. Glidden paint is giving away a free can of paint in any color you choose. It’s easy, just choose your color, answer some questions and you’ll have it in a few weeks.

    Go to their site to check it out.


  8. 6 Ways To Save By Cleaning

    March 23, 2009 by ruetheday

    Over on my Cheap Eats site I write for the Examiner, I just posted 6 ways you can save by doing your spring cleaning this year. Check it out.


  9. Free Franklin Covey Planner

    March 19, 2009 by ruetheday

    If you have a Franklin Covey store near your home and you recently lost your job, be sure to stop by and pick up a free day planner this Saturday, March 21.


  10. Threadless $5 Sale On Now

    March 17, 2009 by ruetheday

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    Those of you who have read the blog for a while know that I love to promote Threadless every time they have a good sale going on. Right now is no exception, they have a great selection of shirts, not including the one shown, on sale for only $5, better shop fast, the deal expires on Monday.