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Frugal Gets Fun: Bargain Babe Julia Scott On Savings & Saturday's Food Focused Festival

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The Bargain Babe (Photo courtesy Julia Scott)
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These days, for many of us, minding our dollars and cents is how we make ends meet and manage to have fun at the same time. One locally-based website and blog, BargainBabe.com, has been giving consumers tips, tricks, and opportunities to save some bucks through a number of discounts, coupons, and savings hints. With her third annual Frugal Festival (& Food Swap) happening this Saturday, we got in touch with the Bargain Babe herself, former Daily News reporter Julia Scott, to talk about the event, her site, and saving a few bucks while living in the big city.LAist: What inspired you to hold an event like the Frugal Festival?
Julia Scott: The Frugal Festival started as a way to thank my readers. I had just left my reporter gig at the Los Angeles Daily News and was so relieved to have made it six months on my own that I threw a big party. It was a real thrill - and a bit bizarre - to meet people I’d only known online.

This is the third year you've done the event--what has changed since it began and what are the additions or features you're most excited about having at this year's event?
Every year the Festival changes. The first year we celebrated coming out of the closet and being frugal (a lot has changed since then), the second year we swapped clothing, and this year it’s about saving money on food. I’m psyched about the free food samples - from Albertsons, Libertine, Yozen Frogurt, and The Stand - and also curious what people will bring to the free food swap. Our swag bags that the first 500 guests get free are super nice - they retail for $9 from Envirosax!

What are some ways consumers can quickly and easily find bargains and save a little in their everyday lives?
One of the easiest and most underused ways to save is to use a cash back rebate site when shopping online. It’s not a scam! A cash back site, like Shortcuts.com, is free and all you do is log in before you shop. They send you a check for a percentage of your purchase, anywhere from 1-25%. I’ve saved more than $1,000 by using cash back sites. Shortcuts.com is going to be handing out $5 Ralphs gift cards at Frugal Festival Food! by the way. I was thrilled when they signed on as a Festival sponsor.

How have sites like Twitter and Facebook affected bargain hunting and shopping?
Twitter and Facebook are a boon for media-savvy shoppers because what’s hot is sharing deals and coupons through these social platforms. Definitely follow and like your favorite stores for extra discounts.

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Do you approach businesses about participating in your event or for being featured on your site, or do they come to you?
I approach businesses that are a good match for the theme of the Festival, and businesses come to me. It’s about finding brands that want to reach the same people you do.

How many contributors does your Bargain Babe blog have? Are you looking to expand the site?
BargainBabe.com has two contributors, besides moi. Yazmin Cruz and Bobbi Burger Brunoehler are invaluable bloggers who keep the site fresh. Bobbi’s post on free Kindle books still gets thousands of hits every month.

The upcoming event will have a food swap. Why do you think this has become such a popular thing to do?
Food swapping is going mainstream thanks to hordes of people looking for non-traditional ways to save money on food. Heck! We’ve all got to eat so if trading homemade food stuffs with friends and neighbors cuts down costs, why not? The Food Swap at Frugal Festival Food! has an added benefit - swap food and you get into the rest of the event free!

Anything else you'd like us to know about your event and/or the site?
Tickets are $5 with a canned good donation for the LA Regional Food Bank. The Festival is family friendly, so bring your kids, and don’t forget we have more than 100 door prizes that are first come, first serve starting at 11 a.m. this Saturday!

BargainBabe's Frugal Festival Food is Saturday, June 25th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Canoga Park High School. Tickets are $5-$10 and are available via Goldstar. $1 from each ticket sold goes to the L.A. Regional Food Bank.