Thursday, November 5, 2015

How to Play for Less: Get in Mah Belly

Hey there everyone :-)  In the revamping of the blog (I know, you just can't wait), I've decided to do a bit of remodelling - look for new tags (welcome to the 21st century, Rae), pages, and regularly "aired" posts each week.  Is everyone on the edge of their seats?  Good.

One of the "hot spots" I get alot of questions and interest on is saving money.  Yep, I'm a thrifty girl and proud of it.  And even if I'm not cool 98% of the time, I realized that most of my friends and family think that saving money is pretty darn awesome and that I might just have a knock for it.  I've done some saving money posts in the past called "How to Play for Less" and it's time to resurrect the beast.  I'll wade through my archives and bring back the oldies and goodies, and hope to post a new entry each week on some aspect of saving money.  I don't have it all figured out, heck who does, but even if one of my tips can help you save a few bucks, then it was worth your time to read five minutes of nonsense, right?  Right.

So, to kick it all off, I thought I would start with grocery shopping post.  IN the last 8 weeks since the biz came about, I decided to work on stockpiling a bit.  We generally spend about $60 a week to feed our family of 3 (including TP, cat litter, etc.) and I'm perfectly happy with it, but since I have the feeling that life's gonna get a bit crazy when Greg and I are both working, I figured it wouldn't hurt to stock up on pasta sauce and canned veggies.  I break out the shopping into two parts - foodstuffs/grocery and health and beauty aids.  So for part to grocery shop without breaking the bank...and avoiding Ramen?  Here goes.  My top ten tips.

1.  Pick a store.  Learn it. Love it.  For food stuffs, I live and die by Tops (Yes, all you Wegmans wegmans, even if their regular prices aren't.  For a family that isn't picky, that's crucial.  Two, I like the layout.  Wegmans is too big and too crowded.  I get lost and frustrated.  Three - proximity - we have a Tops 3 miles away, and to get corny about it, everyone knows my name.  $th - GaS POINTS.  at our Tops, you get one point for every dollar you spend and ten for every coupon you use.  100 points equals ten cents off a gallon of gas.  Last month Greg and I paid....$6 for gas.  And that was on a $200 budget for groceries for the month.  Tops Rocks.
$5.50 for all of that????  You got it.
devotees, chill.  To each his own).  I love Tops for a few reasons - 1.  I find their sale prices better than

2.  Like a page.  On facebook, that is,  For Tops, I use "Tops Markets Hottest Deals" and "Smart q Pon Clips".  These ladies post the sales flyer about 5 days ahead of time and DO THE WORK FOR YOU.  They match the flyer with the active coupons and tell you where to find them (which insert, where online, etc.).  So if canned chili beans are on sale for 10/10 and there is a coupon for BOGO in an insert, I can just grab it and go.  Or order or trade for more to get more bang for my buck.  (True story - next week these guys are on sale 10/10.  Buy 10 get 100 extra gas points.  Buy 10, use 5 bogo coupons, pay $5, get 160 gas points.  Do it twice = pay $10 out of pocket, get 320 gas points worth .30 off a gallon = $9.00 if you use all 30 gallons.  So you just paid a dollar for 20 cans of beans.  Chili all winter.

3.  Shop the cycles - Typically things hit rock bottom price once in a 12 week cycle.  Pay attention, then buy up.  Obviously we don't all have room for 12 weeks worth of milk or yogurt, but for non perishables, why the heck not???  So with the example above, I would be foolish not to buy 20 cans of beans if we will use them.

4.  COUPONS. - USE THEM.  I get the sunday paper, then print on my cheap printer from both my computer and phone (you can get two prints each device).  I also swap coupons with family and friends on the internet.  So if a great huggies coupon comes out, Ill trade online for stamps, other coupons, or go to and buy 10 for 1.00.  If the coupon is even a dollar, that's so worth it - I can stock up, and get .10 off gas if I use all 10 at Tops.  So talk to your friends and family - my Uncle would never eat the greek yogurt I love, but I don't have a dog, so all purina coupons go to him.

5.  Stack your savings - gas, freebies, lodge, diaper points, etc. I used the gas points example above, but also take a look on your grocery store's website to see what other benefits they offer.  Tops gives out diaper points for every dollar you spend on diapers - when you hit 100 you get $20 free for diapers, which is 20% right off the bat for any sale even before coupons.  Same for "lodge points" - for every ten dollars you spend you get a point.  at the end of 5 months you can redeem for free bakeware.  Hey. why not?

6.  Know your price points. Just because something is on sale doesn't mean it's a good deal.  Last week, Tidy cat 20 pound litter went on sale for 8.99.  I can buy store brand for 5.99 on sale, and it works just as well.  Coffee?  Nope.  Need to have folgers.  I know what works for us in terms of brand name or generic, and what a good price per unit/pound is.  Pay attention next time you shop - sure the cereal you bought for 1.99 seems cheap, but if it's 8 ounces and the non sale cereal that is 18 didnt get a good deal.
ounces is

7.  Just because it's cheap, doesn;t mean you need it.  Couponers are terrible at this.  Free toothpaste, free deodorant, free shampoo (more on that later).  It's all well and good.  But it got to a point at our house where my husband asked if I was stocking haircare for our teenaged daughter (who is...7 weeks old).  Ummm, good point.  I sort of laughed it off until I was in line a few weeks later with coupons for my free poligrip and realized....i know NO ONE that needs this.  (I did buy it.  Then donated).  But bottom line, don't have a cow, or chickens, over free or cheap stuff.  Especially stuff you don't use or need (Hey, those oreos were good at the time....).

8.  Stockpile...within reason.  Same as noted above.  Right now I have two shelving untis for canned goods, peanut butter, jarred stuff, and cleaners.  Since it;s in my basement I don't store dry goods, but I do have about 50 soups, canned veggies, a dozen jars of pb and jam, hot sauce, etc.  Probably enough of each for 6 months.  They make great quick dinners.  I also have about 20 dish washing detergents and soaps (each) from a basically free sale in June.  and enough cat food for 6 months (64 pounds) that I bought for $8 total at Target in august.  We will use all of this.  It doesn't go bad.  And I didn't have to take out an extra room to do it.  Once you get into couponing, you will be amazed at the crazy amounts people will stockpile - and I just say, know yourself.  3000 diapers makes sense to me, because I will use them all - and paid less than $150 for it.  65 boxes of hamburger helper or 8 gallons of room, and will go bad.  To each his own.

$4 total.  and .10 off gas/
9.  Be Flexible.  Number one rule for us.  I am so lucky to live in a family of non picky eaters - we plan our menu based on the sales.  Of course, sometimes stores run out and you have to think on your feet - if you planned to buy 30 coffees and the store only has 20, readjust your plan.  Find out when they restock.  Chicken on sale but it's all out?  Make roat pork tenderloin with the sell today clearance pack that was...cheaper then the chicken.  Or, if all else fails, have a back up store and do a second grocery run that week (we usually only shop once a week).

10.  Have FUN - Once couponing or sales shopping becomes a chore, its all done.  My couponistas and I make a game out of much did you save, how many gas points, etc.  Greg tries to guess my out of pocket when I bring home a haul - I tell him retail and he guesses what I paid for it after all savings.  (Probably he is humoring me.  I love him for it.).

I hope this was helpful - as always, feel free to email me any questions or comment :-)  Coming to save on HB, diapers, app savings....just to name a few.

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