Knowing you’re getting your money’s worth [video]

[Watch “Entertainment Book Hack” on YouTube; 1:45, I’m gettin’ there!]

One of the most baffling (but flattering) bits of feedback I kept getting last year was that I should post more videos.

WHATEVER. I mean, who watches videos when they can read? Only, well, I get it. There’s a je ne sais quoi about seeing someone on video, where the “quoi” is “you get a much better real-time feel for what they’re really like.” And not everyone can come to the excellent and lively Biznik mixers I host out here in Los Angeles, or to SXSW, or wherever, so there you go. Me, out loud and in your damned face, from the comfort of your desk. Or the couch, if you’re on an iPad.

I will try like crazy to keep these like me, on the short side, but as you know if you’ve met me in person, I am one loquacious motherf*cker. This one clocks in at 1:45, which ain’t bad. On the other hand, there’s probably :15  worth of actual info, so, you know, not great, either.


I have been buying those stupid Entertainment Books for years, since getting roped in by a fellow Toastmaster who was helping his Girl Scout daughter raise money.

The cover of this thing says “OVER $18,200 IN SAVINGS,” but frankly, if you ate that much fast food and saw that many stupid Hollywood blockbusters, you’d need twice that amount in colon hydrotherapy, plus a good smack upside the head.

Still, theoretically there are enough good deals in there for most of us IF we plan carefully and use them. So this year, I’m taking it out of the theoretical and into the measurable. You can, too. Here’s how:

  1. Affix large Post-It type sticky note to front of book.
  2. Write down amount paid for book.
  3. Each time you realize savings, write down the item/date/amount.
  4. Add up at end of year and see if you’ve been a sucker or a smarty-pants. (NB: I have not done this part yet.)

That’s it!

As per usually, feel free to leave comments and suggestions here, or email me if you’re feeling shy: colleen AT communicatrix DOT com.

And if you have awesome money-saving tips to share with other frugal types, do leave them in the comments.

Oh, most importantly, if you have ideas for things you think would make good videos, please please please let me know. Until I learn to orient myself toward video thinking, it’s gonna be an uphill slog.




  1. I appreciated your money saving tips report (the Fruginatrix?) I’d also be interested in video book reviews by Communicatrix. I know time is a factor, but you could do it in digest form — a book review in a Communicatrix 1.5 minute nutshell.

    1. I’ve done a couple of video reviews which I posted to Amazon.

      Book reviews are the hardest pieces for me to write, period—you’ll note that I’ve done far, far fewer reviews than I’ve read books, even accounting for not all of the books being worth a review. (I decided sometime this year to ONLY write reviews for books I could strongly recommend.) I guess I wonder how useful a video book review would be if I were the one doing it. I know Chris Brogan has done them, and I’m guessing they’re useful to his audience. But Chris has a far greater gift for linear thinking than I do. Maybe it’s the testosterone vs. estrogen thing.

      But hey, I’m willing to give it a try. As I said briefly, above, I’m really just experimenting with all of this. Flying blind, or half-blind. WAY out of my comfort zone (control freak much?)

      And thanks for the input, Carolyn, and the moniker suggestion. :-)

  2. Colleen – you are so funny and clever (love that word as I wrote it). This is a brilliant idea – tips on saving money. My husband always likes a deal. His motto – spend money to save money! Ridiculous.
    So that is an idea for videos – spend money to save money. How about the giant size stuff you buy at Costo and spend $100s on?

    1. That’s so lovely of you to say, Sherold—thanks!

      I am not a Costco person for precisely the reason you mentioned: TOO TEMPTING. Plus, relatively small apartment—I already have toilet paper rolls stuffed in the cabinets of my dining area. (Plus, the lines, which I’ve heard are legendary.)

      But that is a good idea. I remember thinking I was a genius coming up with my “cost per wear” formula in high school or college or some other time from before my memory started creaking under the weight of too much useless information. I wasn’t, of course; plenty of people had stumbled on it before I, and those chic French ladies have understood value for your franc way before I got clued into it.

      So, excellent! I will set the wheels in motion!

  3. Yeah Colleen. Love how you run with feedback, with cranking out this video! And yes as much of a devoted reader I am, there is indeed something je ne sais quoi about video! As engaging as your writing is, your video adds an additional dimension to the overall Communicatrix experience. Now where is my darn Entertainment book?!… ;)

    1. That’s a whole other video: how to put things where you can find them again. UGH. I have spent the last week trying to find my ancient Speedball lettering book. It’s driving me crazy!

  4. Hi, Colleen! RE: Money saving tips — I’m hooked on’s subscription grocery service. There are a few specialty staples, cereals and snacks that I always stock (Organic agave nectar, Gluten Free multi-grain cereal, etc.). I used to run around trying to find sales for these items, but then about 2 years ago I realized that if I was willing to order a ‘subscription’ for them on Amazon, I’d get a good discount and free delivery to boot. Price break + no commute = happy Pamela. The subscription can be set to as few as two deliveries per year and is completely adjustable. Good stuff!

    1. Whoa—thank you for this incredible tip, Pamela! I live in a pretty convenient location for purchasing stuff in general, and sundries/staples in particular, but the automation is dandy, and the savings ain’t bad, either. As Sue said, below, I think this will be great for those weird, one-offs I need to replace infrequently.

      And heavy stuff. Definitely heavy stuff.

  5. Hi, Colleen,
    Thanks for the video, a more impactful reminder of the many brilliant adaptations of post-it notes!

    Last night I watched “Extreme Couponing” on TLC. Lots of $$ savings (e.g., $1000 grocery bill reduced to under $10) — but preceded by hard work tracking, finding, and organizing coupons, and followed by hoarding-level storage requirements for hundreds of products. These stashes could last for a couple of years. But the couponeers wouldn’t be able to avoid shopping for a while to use up their supplies, their addictions wouldn’t “let” them. One of the families pointed out, though, that it really helped one time when the wage-earner was laid off, for about 8 months I think they said.

    I mostly have given up on coupons, I have enough other OCD issues about “stuff.” But I do love getting used books at lowered prices on B&N and Amazon.

    Thanks for the grocery service info, Pamela, that sounds like a great way to get an item I could ordinarily only find at a distant grocery I wouldn’t normally be visiting.

    1. It’s amazing, innit, how anything—the most benign, “nice” thing—can turn into an obsession or addiction?

      Personally, I love knowing that I will NOT run out of TP, soap, Epsom salts, etc., and/or be screwed into paying an exhorbitant price at the last minute b/c of poor planning. I mostly have given up on coupons, too, but I do scan the circulars each week for loss leaders, and stock up.

      And those Bed Bath & BEYOND coupons, of course. I can’t believe anyone shops there, ever, without a handful of those.

      Amazon/B&N/ all rock. That turns into its own thing, too, though—checking for the lowest price at four stops. Worth it on a higher-ticket book, but at a certain point, you need to get on with it. I should probably pick one and stick to it.

  6. Happy New Year, Colleen!

    My niece just graduated from Daisies to Brownies. She’s only hitting me up for cookies at this point (via email which seems totally unfair since I was shy and had to brave talking to people to sell my cookies back in the day. I concede that we live far apart so an in person pitch is less likely.)

    Savings tips, hmm… I scan flyers and clip the occasional coupon. Mostly my savings come from realizing I don’t need much. I might dog-ear a page in a flyer but if I’m not out to get it by Tuesday, I probably don’t care that much about it. I.e., just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you really want/need it.

    BJ’s accepts coupons which is handy if you know someone with a card. You still want to compare though. Some things in bulk at BJ’s, Costco, and the like are great deals; some, not so much; and others actually cost more. Gotta comparison shop.

    1. Mostly my savings come from realizing I don’t need much.

      Touché. Excellent side benefit of simplifying. So much cheaper.

      RE: the comparison shopping, I’ve seriously considered making a new price book. I did it back in the ’90s, during the Tightwad Gazette heyday, but it was SO much work, I gave it up. Now that I have fewer things I’m shopping for, it might be easier.

  7. I have to agree with the others….I don’t normally like videos from other bloggers but there’s something about your videos that makes me want to watch them. I think it’s the winning combo of useful information and short duration.
    Have you ever looked at Users post sales and coupon codes, etc. which are then rated by other users. In other words peer pressure makes everyone wary of posting bogus information. One would have to beware the temptation to buy *only* because it’s such a good deal, but if you keep your eye out for things you were going to purchase anyway it can save you a bunch of money. Each deal posted has comments too so you can check and see what people are saying about it. I’ve gotten loads of free mp3s and video credits from Amazon just by checking this site.

  8. yeah Colleen, glad to see a video, but really want we want are more songs! I hum the boulder song when things are getting tough and I’m feeling wimpy. Very inspiring!

  9. I know this isn’t the first video you’ve made, but it’s the first I’ve watched AND…now I miss you more than ever. The money-saving tips are coming at just the right time, since budgeting is at the top of my priority list. Funny how much money babies cost, especially for being so small.

    I look forward to more videos! And I miss you!

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