The Bargainomics Lady 

Judy Woodward Bates

WBRC FOX 6 GOOD DAY ALABAMA, 12/13/18 

Join me every THURSDAY for WBRC Fox-6 News at Noon & the 1st & 3rd THURSDAY of each month for Good Day Alabama! Wherever you are, watch live at: www.FoxAlabamaLive.com.

I love to talk BARGAINOMICS! When are you going to invite me to speak to your group?


DAY TRIP! I made a day trip to Demopolis this week and had to show you a little of what I discovered. If you’re not familiar with Demopolis, it’s less than a 2-hour drive southwest of Birmingham. I found out Demopolis loves Fox 6 and watches my Bargainomics segments. I met so many nice viewers. I also discovered the Bargain Box, a thrift store loaded with great merchandise like the Valerie Stevens top and camisole set I wore today and bought for only $1. They're only open until noon each day. Call for details about days and hours: (334) 289-9399. There's also a small but nice Salvation Army Thrift Store in Demopolis



At the Demopolis Cato’s, I bought all this jewelry for 99 cents each, plus one $14.99 item I blew a whole $1.99 on). The total original price for all this was $78.90 (4 necklaces, 5 pairs of earrings and a set of bracelets), but I paid $10.90 for all of this. I’m sure the same sale is going on at other Cato’s locations. I also landed some great buys at the Demopolis Goody’s and Walmart.

You’ll see beautiful historic homes (private residence photo, right) as you drive around Demopolis. There’s also Bluff Hall, a beautiful 1832 home on the banks of the Tombigbee. It’s beautifully furnished and packed with history. There is an admission charge to go inside.

And if you travel, you’ve got to eat, right? I had lunch at Stacey’s Café (photo, left) in the Demopolis Inn downtown and got a delicious Southern home-cooked meat and two for only $8. Later in the day I decided on some coffee and dessert, so I went to Simply Delicious Bakery & Eatery and tried out a serving of “Earthquake,” an incredible chocolate and cream cheese dessert. Simply Delicious also has a buffet of home cooking, and dessert prices are unbeatable at just $2.99 a serving.



Demopolis is also loaded with free things to see and do. Since Demopolis sits at the confluence of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers, the Army Corps of Engineers has built several beautiful parks, like Foscue Creek Park where you can spend the day or bring your tent or camper. Spillway Falls Park (photo, right) offers some great fishing opportunities – I saw a guy land a 15-pound catfish while I was there. And Bigbee Bottom Trail is one of many easy hiking trails and popular birding spots around the area. There’s a lot to love about Demopolis and I plan to visit there again soon.



Arab kicks off their annual Christmas in the Park will be going on in Arab City Park with 2 million lights on every night from November 23rd through New Year’s Eve. Admission is free.

Restaurant gift cards are always great Christmas gifts. Right now, you can treat yourself to some free restaurant gift cards when you buy gift cards for others. Applebee’s, Carraba’s, Chili’s, Logan’s, Outback, and Red Lobster are all offering a $10 card free when you buy $50 in cards. And Ruby Tuesday outdoes them all with a free $15 card when you spend $50 on gift cards

If you’re thinking about a wintertime getaway, Georgia State Parks has a great deal going on during the entire months of December and January, and as you can see from the map, many of the parks are within easy driving distance. You can rent a yurt any time Sunday through Thursday for 25 percent off, or a camping spot for 50 percent off – and that includes RV, tent, and equestrian camping. Holiday dates like Christmas and New Year’s aren’t included in the discount and a few of the parks aren’t included. To see all the details, visit GaStateParks.org and click on the “specials” tab.



NEW DAY TRIP INFO STARTS HERE! I’ve had a lot of requests to suggest some more day trips, so Larry and I took one Tuesday – all the way to Alabaster! If you don’t live in that area, you need to pay Alabaster a visit because you’ll discover a lot of fun bargain spots. We started out with a visit to The Foundry Thrift Store where I found this 100% cashmere sweater for $3.99 with an 80 percent off tag color – which means I paid 80 cents

We also visited K and J’s Elegant Pastries where we tried some butter crunch ice cream, a slice of sour cream pound cake, and a chocolate fudge cupcake. K & J’s $5 deal includes a scoop of ice cream and one of their amazing cupcakes - you choose the flavors.

Then we walked off those calories at Buck Creek Park (photo, right) next to Thompson High School. The park has a playground, picnic tables, a walking track, and a walking trail that follows the creek. 


Alabaster has tons of places to eat, several nice shopping centers, and some neat antique shops like The Blue Building on Highway 31. Plus their Beneful Dog Park inside Veterans Park is nice enough to have received national recognition.


You can learn more about the Alabaster and the surrounding area at CityofAlabaster.com or ShelbyCountyTourism.org.



The Birmingham area has so many great free attractions. Just a few of examples: (1) the Birmingham Museum of Art offers free admission and free parking. Of course, they’ll gladly accept donations. (2) In Childersburg, there’s the Harrison Library contains the Museum of George Washington with an impressive collection of documents, personal items, and furniture that belonged to our first president and his descendants. (3) The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson offers 700 acres with beautiful Turkey Creek and plenty of walking trails.



True confession time here. The older I get, the thinner my hair gets. And with all the products I use to spike and glue my hair in place, my scalp will be shining through if I’m not careful. I’ve found a solution that helps me and, if you’re battling thin hair, it may help you, too. It’s this little fiber product call Toppik. It comes in 9 different colors. You use the one that most closely matches your hair color, sprinkle it on the thin places like fairy dust and sort of pat it in. And presto! No more bald spot. On Toppik.com, the travel size costs $7.95 with free shipping. Sally Beauty also carries Toppik, but not a large selection of colors & they don't ship free unless you spend $25 or more. Ulta also sells Toppik, but shipping isn't free until you spend $50, & again, the color selection isn't great. I’ve been using a travel size for months just for touch-up and I still have plenty left. Larger sizes cost a lot more, so I’d definitely try the travel size first. Salons offer a lot of other fiber products and they can be very expensive.



Estate sales are great places to pick up all sorts of things, from clothes and jewelry to tools and furniture. But how do you find the ones around you? Check out the website www.EstateSales.net. Just type your zip code into the search blank and you’ll see the sales nearest you.

Leaf-peeping season is on its way and the Alabama Department of Tourism is providing a lot of really good information about particularly pretty drives to take around the state. You can see this on their website or download their app. Just go to www.Alabama.travel and click “Experience Fall in Alabama.” You can also check out other themed trails such as antiques, covered bridges, civil rights, and scenic rivers.

Whether you’re interested in books, movies, or music CDs, these three websites can help keep you supplied: PaperbackSwap, SwapaDVD, and SwapaCD. You sign up and post the items you have available. Then, when another person requests one of your items, you mail it to them in a very inexpensive media rate wrapper you print from your computer. You earn one credit for each item you send out. Then when you want to request an item, you pay 49 cents and one credit. Some items cost more than one credit, but it’s always only a 49-cent fee. PaperbackSwap includes hardcover, audiobooks, and even textbooks. And SwapaDVD also includes Blu-rays.



Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to pick up cups and saucers for very little money. I got this set for 50 cents and it makes a very pretty decorative planter. This is also a very inexpensive way to take a little gift to a friend whether it’s a special occasion or just because. If you have a green thumb, you can use some of your own plants. If not, you can buy a small plant for less than a dollar.

If you can’t seem to figure out where your money’s going each month, spend the next 30 days keeping a list on your phone or on paper of every penny you pay out, whether it’s your car payment or what you paid for a pack of gum. At the end of the thirty days, go over your list and add up all of the unnecessary outgo. If you’re like most people, you’ll be shocked to see where you could have cut back and used that money toward paying off bills or maybe saving toward a vacation.




According to a recent article in USA Today, the average customer’s cable or satellite TV bill has increased 53 percent in the last ten years and now averages $101 a month. Larry and I got tired of paying to watch TV and switched to an outside antenna with remote control. We’re over 30 miles from Fox 6 and you can see how clear our signal is even if this is a low resolution photo I took with my cell phone.

This is the antenna we bought and we’re receiving a total of 49 channels, including all of Fox 6’s channels like Bounce and Grit. Hooking up the antenna was easy and the remote control makes it simple to adjust the antenna if you ever need to. And for less than a $25 investment – including free shipping – we have plenty of channels without paying for cable or satellite.

Walmart’s website sells a similar antenna in the same price range and Amazon lists an antenna with remote control for only $15.99 and it ships free if you’re a Prime member.


So what could you do with $1200 a year? I can think of a lot better things than paying to watch television when it’s so easy to watch it for free.


Dollar stores are the cheapest places to pick up these 60-inch rolls of non-slip shelf liner, and this stuff does far more than line shelves.


(1) Cut pieces to fit trays so you and your family can carry and eat off trays with cups and dishes a lot more stable.

(2) Put a piece in the seat of a high chair and babies won’t slide around so much.

(3) Put pieces under pet dishes to keep pets from pushing their dishes across the floor.
(4) Cut a piece to put under mixing bowls whenever you’re mixing anything by hand. Sure beats chasing a moving bowl across the countertop.

(5) Cut a piece to use as a jar opener. It really gives you a lot of extra grip.

(6) It works great in RV cabinets and drawers to keep dishes from sliding around, and you can put it in between stacked dishes or bowls to keep them from rattling.

(7) Glue a small piece to the inside of a hair barrette to help hold the barrette in place.

(8) Glue a strip to the backside of a ruler and cutting fabric becomes so much easier when your ruler stays in place.

(9) Use pieces or whole strips under area rugs to keep rugs in place for a lot less than the cost of regular rug pads.

(10) Crafty folks even use it to make beautiful wreaths. Click HERE to learn how.


RENT A BEACH WHEELCHAIR! No beach lover should miss out on enjoying the surf, sun, and sand even if he or she is in a wheelchair or has walking difficulties. Right here in Alabama’s own Gulf ShoresBeach Power Rentals offers specially built beach motorized beach wheelchairs, with rates starting at $60 a day. You can contact them via their website: BeachPowerRentals.com or call them at (251) 967-3729.



Ladies, whether you’re looking to pick up some extra pocket money or add to your wardrobe, you need to check out Style Encore with locations in Inverness Corners near Kohl’s and also in Madison, Alabama. Unlike a regular consignment shop, Style Encore pays you cash on the spot for ladies’ gently used in-season clothing, shoes, and accessories, and they offer reasonable prices with some items as much as 90 percent off retail.



ROAD TRIP! If you’ve never made a trip to Sylacauga, Alabama, you need to put it on your day trip list. Larry and I were there a few days ago and found more things to see and do than we even had time for. 


I found this brand new Kenar brand top for only $4 at Think Again Consignment Shop on North Broadway Avenue in Sylacauga. Think Again offers gently used clothing and accessories for women, men, infants, and children.


Scroll on down to see more about Sylacauga.

Sylacauga’s B.B. Comer Library is enormous and has one of the biggest and best organized bookstores I’ve ever been in. Prices start at 25 cents, so you’re sure to find a good bargain. (bookstore photo)

Not far from the library is the Isabel Anderson Comer Museum with local artifacts, including a replica of the Hodges meteorite – now that’s an interesting story – and admission is free.

What about lunch? Sylacauga is packed with good places to eat, including Buttermilk Hill, Odie’s Deli, and Southern Plate. Buttermilk Hill is in an elegant old house, with lunch entrees starting at $10. Odie’s is a friendly downtown spot with soups, salads, and sandwiches starting at around $5. Southern Diner has only been open a few weeks and features a fabulous buffet of home cooking for about $10. (Odie's photo - white chicken chili, a Gomer Pyle sandwich, incredible pasta salad, & another sandwich I forgot the name of)



How about some fishing and picnicking? 180-acre Lake Howard offers both, and daily fishing permits or boat launch is only $2. Plus there’s a 14-mile hiking and mountain biking trail. Visiting the lake & using the trail is free.

And no trip to Sylacauga would be complete without a stop in the Blue Bell Creamery where you can go up to the observation deck and watch their ice cream being made, plus get a dish of your favorite flavor for only $1 in their ice cream parlor, and pick up a souvenir in their gift shop. I found out a lot of Bargainomics fans work at Blue Bell! Admission is free.

Spring means warmer weather and a great time to get out and see the great state of Alabama. With that in mind, Alabama’s Tourism Department offers free mobile apps that are sure to put your road trip planning in gear. There’s a Civil Rights Trail app; a Barbecue Trail app; a 100 dishes app; and another loaded with suggestions for great day trips and other road trips. You’ll also find all sorts of brochures you can download, plus a link to click to order a print copy of the Alabama Vacation Guide.



TOP 5 WORK-FROM-HOME JOBS. Are there any legitimate work-from-home jobs out there? Yes, but unfortunately, statistics show that there are about 60 scams for every one real job opportunity. Click the blue link to see 5 legit ones, and always remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it's a scam.



ROAD TRIP! While Larry and I were in Vernon, we had lunch at Max’s Fried Chicken, a cafeteria-style restaurant with home-cooked everything like their signature fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and more. Your choice of meat, two sides, & bread is only $4. The food is delicious and the price is unbeatable. (Note: There are two doors into Max's. The front door goes into the regular sit-down & order part; the cafeteria is the door to the right of the main entrance.)




And about 20 miles from Vernon we made another stop, this time at Sorghum Hollow just off Highway 278 in Beaverton. Sorghum Hollow is a deer processing facility & taxidermy shop, but they also have a country store with the best prices I’ve seen on homemade preserves, honey, all sorts of cheeses, handmade soaps, & a whole lot more. And outside, they have an enclosure where you can see and even hand-feed deer. If you’re up in that area, this is a fun stop for the whole family.




If you have school-age kids or grandkids, here’s a website you can really get excited about: Schoola.com. Schoola is an online thrift shop that helps fund school programs. A parent can request a donation bag and it will be sent to the home, postage paid. The items sent to Schoola will be sold online and the proceeds will go to your designated school. And for every $5 spent on Schoola.com, $2 goes directly to schools. Imagine if an entire school got involved. Let’s say 250 parents and teachers donated 10 items each and all those items sold for $5 each. That would mean $5,000 going to their school. So check out the website. It’s loaded with great bargains on new and gently used clothing and accessories for men, women, and children, and you know your dollars are going to a really good cause. To see exactly how all this works, here's a short video.




DAY TRIP!!! Larry and I made a road trip to Decatur driving straight up Highway 31 North – which is such a nice drive this time of year – and loaded up on bargains while we were at it. I found this Conrad C Collection top at the Downtown Rescue Mission Thrift Store for $3.99. Keep reading - more about Decatur below. (Top in the photo is similar to what I wore, but not the exact one.)


We found even more deals at Big Lots and Bargain Hunt, plus we had lunch at City Café, a little spot that’s been voted the top restaurant in Decatur every year for ages. A 4-veggie plate is $6.99 and a meat ‘n’ three with iced tea is $9.99. Great food and prices.

But our very best bargain was free admission at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge where we enjoyed the displays and movie at the visitors center, plus walking some of the trails and seeing the ducks that are starting to come in for the winter.


Find out more about all you can see & do around Decatur at: www.DecaturCVB.com

DAY TRIP! Boaz may not be the shopping mecca it used to be, but there are still some outlet stores there, including Bon Worth where I found this $12 necklace marked down to just $1.99. The Hanes Bali lingerie outlet is still there, and the VF Outlet has moved right up the road on Highway 431 in Albertville. Even though outlet shopping is no longer the major draw, there’s still plenty of shopping bargains and much to see and do, including the Sand Mountain Twin Screen Drive-In Theater, with a real steal on admission at $15 a carload. You can find out more about the area at MarshallCountyCVB.com.



 

DAY TRIP! I found this $30 lace top on a sidewalk sale rack at Cosa Bella in downtown Oneonta for $10. If you haven’t been to downtown Oneonta in a while, you’re missing out because that area has had a makeover. There is shop after cute little shop, plus great places to eat. Keep reading. More about Oneonta below.




I tried out Swamp Tails, a new downtown restaurant, and loved their shrimp and grits, boudin, and gator bites. They offer a variety of foods, but Cajun is definitely their specialty, plus they have live music on weekends and some other nights. In the same area, you’ll also find Miller’s Drug Store, a really cute ice cream/soda shop and coffee house with some of the best-looking homemade desserts you’ve ever seen.




And don’t forget that Oneonta is also home to Palisades Park, which has made National Geographic Travelers top 50 small parks in America. It’s a great place to picnic and hike, has historic buildings, a quilt shop, gardens, and more, plus it’s a very popular spot for rappelling. And admission is free.




BARGAIN VACATION! How would you like to spend 7 nights in a nice resort for under $300? You can by buying a certificate from SkyAuction.com. SkyAuction sells a lot of different things, but their biggest seller are 1-week stays in RCI timeshare units all over the world. There’s a buy-it-now deal for $279.99, with a $20 processing fee tacked on no matter how many you buy.


You have to book your reservation within one year of buying your certificate and you can even check to see what locations have availability before you make your purchase. For example, when I checked the Disney area, I found almost 3 dozen resorts with open units. Be sure to read all the fine print about upcharges for bigger units and for certain dates like holidays.


Larry and I have bought over a dozen of certificates and stayed everywhere from Florida to Maine and never had a bad experience. They will offer you a chance to take a tour of the property and hear a sales pitch about becoming a timeshare owner, but if you’re smart, you’ll just smile and use the magic word NO.




And speaking of bargains, if you enjoy yard sales, there’s an easy way to keep up with where a lot of them are happening. Check the website YardSaleSearch.com. Whether you’re at home or on the road, this website can help you find the yard sales nearest you. And there’s no charge to post your own yard sale.


You might also want to check out the free app Yard Sale Treasure Map. It shows you all the Craig’s List yard sales and it will also let you post your own sale. Look for it in your Apple or Google playstore.



DAY TRIP! If you’re looking for a nice place for a day trip or even an overnighter, let me put Cullman on your radar. I was there earlier this week and stopped in Better Than Before Consignment where now through August 15 (but it's still worth the visit ANY TIME), all their clearance merchandise is buy 3, get 2 free. This $72 brand new with tags Madison brand dress was one of the five items I bought, plus another dress, a blouse, and Larry’s Croft & Barrow polo shirt and Claiborne khakis – all for a grand total of $10.68. I also made a stop at The Foundry Thrift Store, but I’ll save that deal to show another day. Keep reading - more about Cullman below. (The dress in the photo isn't the exact one I was wearing, but similar.)




And speaking of deals, I had lunch at one of the two Brandin’ Iron Steakhouses in Cullman. Lunch prices are an unbelievable $4.99 to $6.99 and include steak, catfish, and chicken. I went crazy and had the $6.99 6-ounce ribeye and even tacked on $2.50 for the salad bar. But for $9.50, it’s a serious bargain. And I’ll be going back to try other lunch deals. TripAdvisor rates the Brandin Iron 4.5 stars. You can see more info and find both locations at BrandinIronSteakhouse.com. 




I also took a spin around Sportsman Lake Park. No, this isn’t a part of Smith Lake. This park is right in the heart of Cullman and admission is free, plus you can fish & rent pedal boats, flat bottom boats, kayaks, and bicycles. They also have hiking & biking trails, a splash pad, miniature golf, a train ride, a playground, picnic pavilions, tent & RV camping sites, a dog park, a beautiful Veterans Memorial Park area, & I’m sure I’m leaving out several other things. They’re open daily through October 31st & the park is walking distance to the Cullman County Fairgrounds. You can see all their info at SportsmanLakePark.com. And let me add that you have to check out he Cullman Wellness & Aquatic Center - it's like a water park & more for kids to senior adults!



 

Alabama State Parks don’t do much to advertise their senior discounts, but they have them if you ask.  If you’re 62 or older, there’s a 10-15 percent discount on hotels and cabins, depending on the time of year. Year-round, there’s a 15 percent discount on campsites.




DAY TRIP! I wanted to tell you about a bargain day trip Larry and I took on a Friday. We went to Greensboro, which is about 45 minutes south of Tuscaloosa and is the Catfish Capital of Alabama. We had a great time without spending a lot of money in the process, and wouldn’t you know it! I found a thrift store to shop. I got this embroidered linen top for only $4 at Take Two on Main Street. (Photo isn't the exact blouse, but a similar one.) The next 3 sections continue my day trip info about Greensboro.




And who can go to the Catfish Capital of Alabama and not eat catfish? Where we’d find the best catfish in town? M&M Mustang Home Cooking Convenience Store and Gas Station, where we joined a whole lot of other happy diners in a fried catfish dinner that was seriously good food. And on Fridays, the price is only $6.99. It’s $10.99 on other days.





We did save room for dessert, though. We decided to try out the Pie Lab on Main Street in Greensboro and shared a slice of fabulous pecan chocolate chip pie.

And talk about bargain entertainment. You can ride along just about any street in the downtown area and see beautiful old homes galore. We had a really nice day, and if you decide to check out Greensboro, I believe you will, too.

DISNEY TIPS. If you have toddler to early school age children and are thinking about a trip to Disney World, I hope you’ve been planning and saving for a long, long time. But experiencing Disney can be done less expensively if you’ll consider these tips:


(1)    Consider buying 1-day single park tickets or else 1-day Park Hopper tickets that allow you to visit all of the parks. Why go through the expense and exhaustion of days of Disney when you can hit the highlights in one day? You’ll have been there and done that and you’ll possibly even come out with enough money to enjoy some of the far less expensive attractions around Orlando.


Tickets are now priced according to Value, Regular, or Peak Season. Peak season begins May 27 and ends July 23. Value season begins August 22. A family of 4 going during peak season and buying 1-day single park tickets will pay $464.  For 1-day Park Hopper tickets, they’ll pay $644. If they’d chosen 3-day tickets, ticket cost would be between $1,124 and $1,344 – that’s between double and triple the cost of a 1-day visit. (These prices may not be exact, but they're very close.)


(2)    Don’t stay inside the park. The least expensive hotel inside the park will cost around $150 a night once the taxes and other charges are added. Consider one of the hotels along International Drive where rates can be as low as under $50 a night and many of the hotels include free breakfast and free shuttles to and from the parks running almost every hour – which means not having to deal with traffic or pay the $20 a day parking fee.

 

(3)    Don’t buy your souvenirs inside the park. Instead, order them in advance from DisneyStore.com and take them with you. For example, Ifound a girls’ Disney World t-shirt regularly $29.95 on sale for $10.99 and a boys’ $24.95 Disney World t-shirt for $6.95. When you present items like these to your kids, they’ll be just as happy and you’ll have saved a bundle.

 

(4)    And although discounts are usually minimally, the website MouseSavers.com keeps up with any and all Disney-related discounts. 


(5)    If you are a member of the military, you can get discounted Disney tickets through your military base.


 


BARGAIN HAIR & NAILS. I was in desperate need of a haircut and my regular stylist wasn’t available, plus there aren’t a lot of salons open on Mondays and that's what day it was. I went to the Cosmetology Department of Bevill State Community College at the Sumiton campus and got a great cut for only $3. And while I was there, I decided to splurge for a manicure and a pedicure. Can you guess how much money I ended up spending? $14. $3 for the haircut; $3 for the manicure; and $8 for the pedicure. Yes, the work was done by students in training, but the work was totally overseen by their instructors and I couldn’t have been more pleased with all of it. 


If you want to save a bundle on salon services, check out Bevill State’s Cosmetology Department. They accept walk-ins on Mondays and Tuesdays and it’s recommended to arrive between 8:30 and 10am to insure there’s plenty of time for you before the students leave at 2.


Services include facials; makeup; hair services from cuts to weaving, braids, color, perms, and more; plus men’s haircuts, beard, mustache, and eyebrow trims. Both Bevill’s Sumiton and Hamilton campuses offer these services. And you need to know they don’t accept debit or credit cards.



CANCER PATIENTS who’ve experienced hair loss know how expensive wigs can be and that not just any wig is safe for a cancer patient. With both these factors in mind, the American Cancer Society offers free wigs, as well as scarves and turbans. Call (800) 227-2345 to find the location nearest you.

Did you know you can shop on Dollar Tree’s website? Not only that, but you can have your items shipped to your nearest store without having to pay a shipping fee. There are minimum purchases required, like on Anchor Hocking 8-inch vases - you have to buy a case of 6 to order online. When it comes to party supplies, Dollar Tree has a lot to offer from decorations to paper goods, so instead of driving from Dollar Tree to Dollar Tree trying to find enough coordinating items, order online and save time and travel. You can also order grocery items & more. Sign up for their loyalty club, the Value Seekers Club, and get exclusive offers.




No matter what website or real store you’re shopping, always check RetailMeNot.com for discounts codes that can save you money on merchandise and shipping. You can also download their free app.




If you are a veteran or the widow of a veteran and you’re either disabled or age 65 or older, you may qualify for benefits you don’t know about. The VA provides an Aid and Assistance or Housebound benefit to those who require the aid and attendance of another person, whether that’s in your own home or in an assisted living facility.


Qualifying for this benefit depends on a number of factors, including your health condition, income, and more. But monthly benefits can range from $1,149 for a surviving spouse to $2,120 for a qualifying married veteran. And if a husband and wife are both qualifying veterans, the benefit can be as much as $2,837 a month. In some cases, there may even be benefit for nursing home care.


As I said to begin with, there are a large number of factors that determine whether or not a person qualifies, so you should begin by contacting your local VA office or going to the website on the screen. You can also call the toll-free number 800-827-1000 if you have time to sit through a zillion prompts and finally get to where you can request a call back instead of having to be on hold for ages. Click the blue words - it's a direct link to the correct web page.


Make sure you ask about the Aid and Attendance or Homebound benefit. And just so you know, it can take six months or more to get the benefit started once you file all the required paperwork and no matter how long it takes or how long you’ve been qualified without receiving any benefit, they don’t make any retroactive payments.


Another excellent website is www.VeteransAidBenefit.org. It even includes links to the forms you'll need completed.


IMPORTANT! There are dozens of companies online that claim to help deserving veterans & their widows receive VA benefits. DON'T contact any of these! You don't need their help to get your benefits & if you do use them, they will receive a percentage of every check you receive.



If you’re a senior citizen, you may want to check into Silver Sneakers. Many gyms and fitness centers offer special classes for senior adults and many Medicare and other health plans will pay for your membership. There are at least 12,000 participating fitness centers, including YMCAs and Curves. Contact your healthcare provider to see if Silver Sneakers is included in your benefits.

If you’re not familiar with the website MyKidsEatFree.com, you may be missing out on free meals for your kids or grandkids. Whether you’re eating out locally or traveling on vacation, you can search this website by state and see to see what restaurants offer free kids’ meals.

I’ve discovered an easy way to find thrift stores galore whether you’re shopping around home or off on vacation. It’s the website TheThriftShopper.com. Just type in the name of the city and choose the state – or input a zip code – and you’ll see a list of nearby thrift stores. It may not show every single one, but it will give you a pretty impressive selection.



If you're looking for the best deal ever on prescription eyeglasses, you need to check out www.ZenniOptical.com. Their prices start at $6.95 and this includes frames, single vision lenses, scratch-resistant coating, glasses case, and cleaning cloth. Shipping is around $4.95 no matter how many pairs you order - and they do sunglasses, bi- and tri-focals and any other types of glasses you can think of. Price is based on the frame and type of lenses you want.


You can even upload your own photo so you can try on the different styles and see how you look. It usually takes between 10 days and 2 weeks to receive your glasses once you've placed your order. You'll need to input your prescription information. If you have questions, you can call them at (800) 211-2105, or email them or do a live chat on their website.



WHAT CELL PHONE SERVICE DOES THE BARGAINOMICS LADY USE? THIS ONE! Republic Wireless is the first cell phone service to use wifi for their calls. When you're around wifi, that's what your phone operates on. When you're not, it piggybacks onto Sprint's system. No contracts; you can bring your own phone; & plans are very reasonable.




Whenever I’m talking Bargainomics to a group, I often begin with this question: if I gave you the choice between a burger and fries or a cruise, which would you want? Believe it or not, I’ve never had anyone pick the burger. But in real life, that’s what most people are choosing.


Even spending a little here and there can add up to a lot, so the same people who say they can’t afford a cruise may be frivoling away far more money than they realize.


According to ariix.com, the average American spends $232 per month going out for dinner plus coffee-loving Americans tack on an additional $1,100 a year making stops just for coffee. Forbes’ website said that the average businessperson who goes out for lunch only twice a week spends about $936 a year. When you figure all that up, it comes to $4,820 a year per person. In a two-person household with these habits, that’s just short of $10,000 a year.


Life is about choices and the ones you make today can greatly influence your future – for better or worse. That’s why it’s important to make smart choices and wise financial decisions.




No beach lover should miss out on enjoying the surf, sun, and sand even if he or she is in a wheelchair or has walking difficulties. Right here in Alabama’s own Gulf ShoresBeach Power Rentals offers specially built beach motorized beach wheelchairs, with rates starting at $60 a day. You can contact them via their website: BeachPowerRentals.com or call them at (251) 967-3729.



WHAT COULD YOU DO WITH $1,200 A YEAR? According to a recent news report, the average household pays around $100 a month for cable or satellite TV service. While we love it when you choose WBRC Fox 6 – and we also have the Bounce station on 6.2 & Grit TV on 6.3 – you may be surprised to see how many channels may be available to you without paying for anything other than a good remote outdoor digital antenna. Larry & I recently did this & found we receive 49 channels! And what are we paying for them? Zero. All from a $23 antenna.




START YOUR OCCASIONS LIST NOW! What’s that? On your computer or on a plain ol’ sheet of paper, write the names of everyone you plan to buy gifts for all year long. Out beside each name, note things like his or her birthday, sizes, and even things like wedding or anniversary date, graduation date – any occasion you plan to buy that person a gift for in 2017. This way, you can bargain shop all year long and fill up your occasions list paying cash as you go. Each time you buy a gift, make a note of what it is beside the person’s name. Tuck the gift away and you’ll be all set when the occasion rolls around. I’ve heard from so many people who’ve started doing this since I told them about my occasions list and most tell me they’re spending about 75 percent less and buying better gifts than ever before. 



And speaking of travel, what’s the cheapest way? First and foremost, know the “on” and “off” seasons for wherever you want to go. For example, whether you’re thinking of the beach or the mountains, November, January, and February are the least expensive months in either location.



If you’re retired or work a job where a month-long vacation is possible and you have your own camper or RV, you may be interested in participating in the Alabama State Parks' VIP program - Volunteers in the ParkVolunteers are given a free campsite and typically stay in a park for one month and earn their keep by assisting the park staff in tasks of all sorts, like cleanup, guiding tours, providing information, and more. Scroll down to the next section to see info about volunteering in national parks, too.



Did you know there’s a Volunteer Program for the National Park ServiceIf you’re retired or work a job that allows you some generous off-time or vacation blocks, you may be interested in participating in some of the opportunities you’ll find on the website Volunteer.gov. You can search the entire United States or by state, including Alaska and Hawaii. In Alabama, I found several park host positions available, as well as other opportunities like as a volunteer at the Wheeler Wildlife Visitor Center. Park hosts are usually provided with full service campsites, but have to have their own camper or RV. Click any listing to see the details. You can find them all at Volunteer.gov.



And speaking of Fairhope, we stayed at the little mom-and-pop motel, Barons Inn, on our trip down a few weeks ago. Barons is located directly across from the bay and walking trail, plus an easy walk to many of the shops and eateries. The rooms are newly remodeled and cost $79 to $109 weekdays and $129 to $159 on weekends, depending on the season, and all rooms include free wifi, cable TV, pod coffeemakers, and mini-fridges. Their prices are the best in the area, but now they’re offering an even better deal: if you ask for The Bargainomics Lady Discount, you get 20 percent off the current rate. And that deal is good all the way through the end of this year. Call (800) 928-2328 and ask for The Bargainomics Lady Discount



If you’re looking for a group of fun people who enjoy outdoor activities, you might want to check out Southeastern Outings. This is a nonprofit organization that plans all kinds of year-round outings and you don’t have to be a member to go along. Even if you decide to join, dues are only $10 a year and there’s no charge for participation. You can see more about this group and find all the contact information at SEOutings.org. This Saturday’s outing (July 16) is a river float, swim, picnic, and day hike in Locust Fork.


If you or someone you know has a vision impairment or other health problem that affects the ability to read or hold printed material, check into Alabama Radio Reading Service. You can listen to newspapers, magazines, books, and more read to you through a special radio that’s provided as part of this free service. For more information, call (205) 934-6576. You can download an application online that has to be filled out by your health care provider, plus see more information on their website. (Scroll down to see a special audiobook service, too.)



My stepmom has always been one of the most avid readers I know, but macular degeneration has made it impossible for her to see well enough to read any more. Now she listens to free talking books. The Library of Congress offers a free braille and talking book service to anyone with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that makes them unable to read or hold a book. The books and even the special player for the talking books are mailed to you for free. To find out more, use this link to LOC.gov. To register, use this one. Or for more information, you can phone 888-657-7323.




And here's a tip about washing fruit and vegetables. Instead of plain water or even liquid soap, use a mixture of half water and half white vinegar. Keep it in a clearly labeled spray bottle – I picked mine up at Dollar Tree. You don’t want to re-use one that could have contained harmful chemicals. Spray the fruit or vegetable. Wait a couple of minutes and rinse in plain clear water.



If you’re a fan of designer clothing and accessories, but not their prices, check out the website, Tradesy.com. This site puts buyers and sellers together and offers new and used designer label items at big discounts. For example, this Tory Burch sweater sold before I could even tell you about it, but it was listed as like new and originally retailed for $175. It sold on Tradesy for $15 and shipping was another $8.50. Still, $23.50 isn’t too bad for a $175 designer sweater. Tradesy offers ladies’ clothing, purses, shoes, and even bridal gowns and accessories.



If you haven’t yet checked out Swap.com, you’re missing out on some great buys and a chance to put some money in your pocket. This site lets you buy and sell gently used items, including men’s, women’s, and children’s and babies’ clothing; maternity wear; baby gear; toys; games; books; and movies. They even have a clearance section for every category.


2019 cars are out and the temptation to get a new car may have already bitten you. But whether you’re thinking about a new or used car, don’t buy anything until you check on the cost for insurance. Even within the same line of vehicles, the particular model you choose can make a lot of difference in insurance expense. And if you’ve been with the same insurance company for ages, it’s time to do a little comparison shopping. Too, read the reviews on the vehicles you’re considering and check out the maintenance, dependability record, and gas mileage.


Even the size tires a vehicle uses can mean a big expense when you need new ones. Taking the time to do a little homework will be well worth it. There are a lot of good websites with car reviews, three of which are Cars.com, Edmunds.com, and CarAndDriver.com.



WORK FROM HOME? Are there any legitimate work-from-home jobs out there? Yes, but unfortunately, statistics show that there are about 60 scams for every one real job opportunityClark Howard has long been a trusted name in money talk and he’s posted a great list of real at-home jobs. 


Always remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it's a scam.




Just because you’re not a homeowner doesn’t mean you don’t need insurance. Spending a little now could save you a fortune should a disaster strike your rental property. My nephew was one of hundreds of uninsured renters who lost nearly all their possessions during one of the 2013 tornadoes. I talked to Alyson Sabatini with Allstate Insurance in Vestavia and she told me that rental insurance was very inexpensive – in some instances as little as $10 or $20 a month for coverage of around $20,000 worth of personal property. Even if a fire started in another apartment and spread to yours, your renters insurance would cover your losses, plus it also provides liability insurance should a guest get hurt. Whatever company is already insuring your vehicles may also offer renters insurance. If not, check around and get quotes from several reputable insurance companies.



And speaking of children, the website www.LittleSproutsResale.com makes it easy to sell your children’s gently used clothing as well as buy designer and name brand kids’ clothes at really good prices. Shipping is only $5.95 on any order, and orders over $50 ship free. This is a good spot to save money and maybe even make some.

One way to have more money is to stop overpaying your income tax. A lot of people claim one less dependent than they actually have so they can end up with a tax refund each year. What that means is you’re letting the government act as your savings account for the entire year and they aren’t paying you one penny of interest. Instead of overpaying your taxes, figure out how much more money that would add to your paycheck each month and have that amount automatically deposited into an interest-bearing savings account.


If you’re homeschooling or know someone who is, you’ll want to know about this website: www.Homeschool.com. Homeschool.com is the top online homeschool website and it’s loaded with information about homeschool groups, teaching aids, free curriculum, and more and includes all ages group all the way up to college level.


When it comes to finding the best deals on hotels anywhere in the world, I have a three-word phrase that can help you get the very best deal: reserve, reserve, cancel. What do I mean? Nobody wants to wait around until the last minute trying to get the best deal and then end up without a hotel to stay in. So instead, reserve the best deal you find and then continue shopping for a better deal right up until 48 hours or so before your trip. When you find a better deal, make a second reservation. Then go back and cancel the first one. Keep doing this and you’ll sometimes find a better deal for the hotel you reserved in the first place. The important thing is to be sure and record your reservation numbers and cancellation numbers.


Larry and I were in Austria recently and we applied this method until we landed rooms at the gorgeous historic Hotel Schloss in Vienna for under $100 a night and that included free wifi, free parking, and free buffet breakfast on the terrace overlooking the city. Remember: reserve, reserve, cancel. This works for rental cars, too. Before trying this, though, be sure you read the cancellation policy for every site you check.



I planned to tile our concrete porch floor – until I found out the cost of floor tile. I’d planned to use a bargain tile I’d used on an indoor project, but found out that you need a far more expensive and durable tile to withstand outdoor moisture and freezing temperatures without cracking. So instead, I created my own tile floor. I used 1-inch wide painter’s tape to evenly divide the floor into squares. Then I painted the floor with latex porch and floor paint. Once the paint dried, I pulled up the tape and the unpainted areas gave it the look of tile grout.



If you enjoy ebooks and would like some good clean reads absolutely free, you need to check out the website www.CBD.com. Right now there are over 100 ebooks on their website that you can download for free, including romance titles like Jeanette Oke’s The Tender Years; Travis Thrasher’s The Foreboding; and classics like The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. There are also nonfiction titles from devotionals to home school and teaching aids, as well as cookbooks. You’ll need to download the CBD Reader app, but you can get it free in PC or Mac format. Check the Google Playstore or iTunes App Store.



When you take a break from a paint project, put your roller or brush inside a plastic bag and tie it shut to keep the air out and the smell in. Place it in the fridge until you’re ready to start again. This way, you save the cleanup until you’re finished. You can do the same thing with you roller pan.

You don’t need to invest in a lot of different cleaners to do most household cleaning. A little borax sprinkled onto a damp sponge can be used to clean greasy surfaces in your kitchen and soap scum in your bathroom; plus it’s a natural deodorizer and freshener. It’s also great for cleaning and removing stains from floor tile. In your washer, presoak stained clothes for 30 minutes in water and a half cup of borax to remove most stains like tomato sauce or even grease. You can find borax on the detergent aisle in most stores. At around $4 for a 4-pound box, it’s definitely a bargain.



Walmart has a unique program called Savings Catcher that’s the easiest way ever to save money. Your receipt can be scanned to see if any of the items you bought could have been purchased elsewhere for less money. The difference for each item will be credited to your Savings Catcher account to use just like cash.


There are two ways to do this: Download the Walmart app to your smartphone, set up your account, and then scan your receipt; or go to the Savings Catcher page of www.Walmart.com and register, then type in your receipt number and date of purchase to see if any of your purchases qualify for additional savings. If you are due anything, it may take up to 72 hours to see the credit posted. But it’s simple to do and an easy way to stack up some savings.



I’d always heard that people 65 and older in the state of Alabama don’t have to pay property tax. Well, that’s not exactly true, but depending on your income, you could be completely exempt. But here’s some good news for everyone 65 and older. According to Revenue.Alabama.gov, if you’re age 65 or older, you no longer have to pay the state portion of your property tax. And you may also qualify for city or other exemptions, but that depends entirely on where you live and the regulations for your specific area. Stop by or call your area’s tax assessor’s office to find out more. Click the blue letters to be taken directly to that information on the state website. Other states may have similar exemptions, so if you're not a resident of Alabama, check with your state's Revenue Department to see if you have a shot at reducing your property tax.


Sears and Kmart have a savings program. While it doesn’t give you back money on items you could have bought cheaper elsewhere, it does give you points for every cent you spend on either of their websites or in their stores. These points can be converted into cash to use when you’re shopping, plus members frequently receive bonus points just for being members.


I recently received 20,000 bonus points, which were worth $20 toward a purchase. I already had 5,000 points in my Shop Your Way account, so that gave me 25,000 points – which is $25 – to spend. I had shown a $100 metal detector on TV that was sale-priced at $25. I used my points to buy one, which means I paid zero – since my points covered the entire cost. Sign up for your own Shop Your Way account at www.ShopYourWay.com.



Does your refrigerator's icemaker have a door dispenser? If it does, it may look like the one in this photo, but who thinks to stoop down and stare up into their icemaker opening? Your dispenser opening needs to be cleaned at least every week or two; but never use harsh chemicals. Mix a solution of 1 cup white vinegar & 1 cup water in a clean spray bottle that has never contained dangerous cleaners or chemicals. Spray the area and wipe it with a clean cloth. And use a soft toothbrush or other small brush to clean the spots you can't reach with the cloth. This vinegar solution is also ideal for washing fruits & vegetables, and it’s very easy on your wallet.




Remember what I keep saying:
a bargain isn’t a bargain unless you can afford to pay cash for it. Spend cash, not credit.



You can watch live Bargainomics segments online by clicking this link: www.WBRC.com. I'm on the News at Noon between 12:30 & 1pm every Thursday and on Good Day Alabama around 8am on the 1st & 3rd Thursday of each month.