How to Save - Part 98


How to Save

Entertaining on a Budget

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 4:52 pm
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Okay, now that we are into November, I am starting to panic. There will be a whole host of gatherings at my house starting with the big one on Thanksgiving. I don’t even know how to brine a turkey, but I guess I’ll just have to learn. One thing I do know, though, is how to save money. You bet that I am going to apply that knowledge this year to save as much as I can with entertaining.

Here is what I plan on doing.

I think food will be my biggest expense. To save money on groceries, I’ve been gathering the coupons for some of the special foods that we will need for the holidays. Our local grocery store offers a free turkey with points, and with a family of five, I should be making enough purchases there to qualify. Anything that is non perishable can be picked up as soon as a good sale comes along.

I’ll also be combining coupons and sales, and then stacking the coupons when I can.
This strategy also applies to cleaning products. I will definitely be stepping up the cleaning for company. Generic cleaners and home made cleaners (such as vinegar and water to wash windows) will save a bunch of money.

For some affairs, I can get away with hosting a pot luck. This will cut down on the food costs, and we will all get the benefit of everyone’s favorite dishes!
When I provide all of the food myself, it is often cheaper to make it all from scratch or at least assemble it myself. For example, instead of buying a cut fruit platter, I will buy the fruit whole and cut it.

For music, I already have a bunch of holiday music on my iPod, but I’ll still be looking out for more. Amazon often offers free music downloads. Napster is offering a free trial of downloads, too. There are also a number of online sources for streaming holiday music, such as http://www.accuradio.com/holidays/

Did you know that you can often save on wine and alcohol when you go almost to the source. Large distributors often sell to the public. Local shops may also have some great recommendations on less pricey but excellent wine and other beverages.

Do you have any other tips for saving money when you entertain?

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Big Savings Strategies for Electronics & Appliances

Posted on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 at 11:55 am
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I’ve been thinking a lot about electronics and appliances lately. Maybe because I’ve been spotting some great deals, or maybe it is simply because our family computer is slower than molasses and our electric range/oven was originally installed in our home in 1962.
If you are thinking the same thing I am, then you might be able to take advantage of some of the following big saving strategies for electronics and appliances.

First of all, do you remember the day that I did all of that running around and got some great clearance deals on Halloween and fall items? Well, while we were in the mall, we had to pass through Sears on our way. I went right past the appliances and stopped to ask a saleswoman about upcoming sales. She informed me that this Sunday, October 4th is the friends and family event. Shop on Sunday, and you’ll get great deals, such as 30 percent off appliances.

Another plus for Sears are their scratch and dent stores. Have you heard of these. They don’t have them everywhere, but you can usually find one in your state or the next state over. These are appliances sold at deep, deep discounts because of the occasional ding or scratch that accidentally happens when the appliances is being shipped or moved. Heck, my kids will do this anyway, so why not save a few hundred dollars on a little ding?

Related to the scratch and dent store are online ways to save for a similar reason. Electronics Expo has some great deals on Open Box merchandise and both Apple, Dell and HP frequently refurbish returns and sells them for deep discounts. You still get the same warranties, so there is no risk there. The laptop I am typing this post on was a refurbished item from Apple. In four years it has never needed a repair other than a new cord when someone in my house tripped on it.

Check both the Electronics category and the For the Home Category on the left for current deals. I’ll also pull a few of these out for you.

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Get Your Frozen Food and Baking Coupons Ready

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 11:37 am
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October is the month when the grocery stores have frozen food and baking items on sale. This is because everyone is gearing up for the upcoming holidays, when both types of food are in demand.

Baking goods being on sale before the holidays make sense. After all, there is all of those pies and cookies to be made. Many people save their baking for holidays times only, but even if you don’t you’ll want to start stockpiling things such as flour, sugar, pie fillings, refrigerated pie crusts, refrigerated breadsticks, etc.

Frozen foods will also be in demand for two or maybe three reasons. Frozen foods can often make cooking those big elaborate family meals much easier than cooking everything from fresh or from scratch. People also like to keep frozen foods on hand during the busy holiday season, so they can have something quick to prepare for dinner before heading out for parties and shopping. And the third reason is that having frozen food on hand means that you won’t have to run out to the store in the middle of that blizzard or cold weather.

With these things in mind, you should take the next couple of weeks to really organize and gather your coupons for baking supplies and frozen foods. Sign up for coupon booklets and newsletters (such as the Betty Crocker newsletter) and get your printable coupons ready. Make sure to buy your Sunday paper for the inserts (or get them in other ways, such as asking your neighbors).

With your coupons in hand, you can match them against the grocery store sales to get the best deals!

Also, pay attention to restaurant deals and online grocery deals. Restaurant.com had an unprecedented 90 percent off recently. I don’t know if this will come around again, but if it does, be sure to grab it. Here are some current coupons and deals for online groceries that I have posted.

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Yard Sale Your Stockpile!

Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2009 at 11:31 am
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Not only can coupons and freebies save you money, but they can also make you money. First by bringing you extra overage after coupons and second by selling your extra items at a yard sale! Here are some tips on just how to do this.

The first time I came across a stockpile yard sale was when I was new to using coupons. One of our neighbor’s clued us in to a great sale that one particular family held twice a year. He called it a grocery sale and said that we could get regular grocery items for half off.

Well, of course I had to check this out. I recognized so many of the items as products from recent coupon and sales combo deals. There was the cereal brand that I had gotten for only 50 cents. There was the toothpaste I cleaned up at the store for free. But each time I did the deal, I only snagged enough to provide for my family or to pass on in donation. This family turned getting the deals into a little side business and was actually making money on their stockpile!

If you want to do the same, whether it is a full stockpile sale or a traditional yard sale that also offers stockpile items, try the following strategies to get the most money from your great deals.

Zero in on hot high priced items that look expensive. The recent deal on the automatic shower cleaner is a good example. While it cost you only $.99 to get the shower cleaning kit, it retails in the store for $14.99, meaning that you could sell it new in the box for $7-10.

Speaking of cleaners. Some of the fastest selling items at this stockpile sale were cleaning items, health and beauty products (especially toothpaste), laundry detergent and cereal.

If you have a lot of samples, bundle them together in a bag. You could either sell multiples of the same sample per bag or put together little travel kits. The travel kits get snatched up pretty quickly.

Try to time your sale so you don’t have items that are expired or near their expiration date. if you do wind up with a few, place them on a bargain table and reduce the cost, making note that they are near expiration. This way, the customers have a choice and don’t feel cheated. Happy customers will tell their friends.

Be sure to have a notebook available. You can take down the names and numbers of people who are looking for specific items. This way, if you find a good deal, you can let them know.

Consider donating any items left over from your sale if they will be expiring before your next sale date.

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Five Tips for Buying Groceries Online

Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 3:38 pm
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shopping keyThere are many good reasons to buy your groceries online. Saving time and money are two of the biggest reasons. And did you know that many online grocery stores actually wave the delivery fee and tips? This can reduce the cost of your groceries even more than you might expect!

The convenience of shopping online for your groceries is often worth it. Think about this. It is late at night you are at home with the flu. You are out of milk, need some cough medicine, and have nothing in the house for dinner the next night. Do you drag yourself out to the store or do without? Of course the third option is to order your groceries online. Likewise when you are stuck in meetings at work or shuttling the kids around all week and don’t have time to grocery shop. We’ve all been there, right?

Buying groceries online needs a different set of strategies than buying groceries in an actual, physical supermarket. Follow these tips to make sure that you save money and get exactly what you need.

1. Take advantage of new customer deals and coupons. Acme offers free delivery on your first order, PeaPod offers $10 off your order with coupon code CJN10, Safeway offers free delivery with this link, and Genuardis also offers free delivery when you spend $50 and use this link. You can “store hop” to get all of the first time shopper discounts.

2. Save on delivery charges by picking up your order. Many stores will assemble your order for you and even bring it out to the car.

3. Make sure that you understand the rules about substituting products. Most of the time the store will substitute a comparable product in your order if the one you want is out of stock. You can choose to allow a full substitution (turkey bacon instead of pork bacon), allow a brand substitution, or allow no substitution of the product.

4. By the non-perishable items in bulk. You will often get a much better deal online with products such as bulk diapers and health and beauty products. Drugstore.com and Diapers.com are two great places to save on bulk for all sorts of items. Right now, Diapers.com has a $10 off code AFF10. Drugstore.com is offering freebies with a purchase.

5. Check the store special and non-clipped coupons. Often, stores will offer the same coupon discounts off of products, especially store brand products, that you might have gotten with traditional paper coupons.

Happy shopping!

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A Trip to the Warehouse Store and Free Mr. Clean

Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2009 at 11:03 am
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My family and I did a huge shopping trip at our local BJs warehouse store. Our stockpile was pretty low, because of cooking from the pantry in the last few weeks and a flour moth invasion from some Basmati rice we purchased (hint from our exterminator: never buy rice in those natural cloth bags).

I knew the bill was going to be large, but of course I did everything I can to bring it down by using coupons. BJs accepts manufacturer coupons, and they also have a number of store coupons.

The BJs store coupons can be found in a few different places. They will mail coupons and coupon booklets to you just by being a member. You can also pick up additional coupon sheets near the customer service desk. I always stop there when we arrive, or at least at the end of the trip before checkout just in case there are any coupons that I can additionally apply to my purchases.

While we were there yesterday, I spotted an extra coupon. You can get a free bulk size container of Mr. Clean All Purpose Cleaner when you buy Tide Total Care. Well, I wanted to combine my high value Tide Total Care coupon with the free Mr. Clean coupon for double savings. This was a great deal. The problem was that the store was out of the free product.

Unfortunately for me, and my relationship with BJs, they will not give out rain checks, they will not substitute a comparable product and they will not offer you a discount off of your bill for the cost of the free product. I asked all of these things of course.

After talking with the supervisor, I was offered some light at the end of the tunnel. I could bring back my receipt and get the free product with my coupon if I did it before the coupon expired (in three days), or I could call back and get additional months added to my membership.

Something is better than nothing, so it pays to voice a complaint. I also plan on contacting the corporate offices about their coupon policy and not stocking the free product (there was plenty of the Tide available in several different places throughout the store).

Have you had a recent run in with a store about its coupon policy?

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How to Save at Babies R Us

Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 4:18 pm
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When we were expecting our first child, we registered at Babies R Us for all of the cute and necessary things. After he was born and followed by siblings, we got to know the store quite well, shopping for everything from strollers to diapers. Because of this, I picked up a few ideas on how to save the most money on products at Babies R Us. Here are my tips.

First, pick up a copy of Baby Bargains. It lists all sorts of baby products, the retail cost of the items, the comparison of different models and the recall information for the manufacturers. Borders has this book for a great price and they are offering free shipping for orders over $25 (in case you have something else to buy). This book saved us a lot of money when we shopped at Babies R Us.

Next, get on the list in order to get coupons in the mail and online. Babies R Us offers some great coupons for the more expensive stuff, such as car seats, and also for the everyday stuff, such as diapers, formula and baby food. You can sign up here.

There are usually always coupons for 15-25% off car seats, strollers, high chairs, and pack and plays (play yards). Many times you can get a free item when you buy one, such as a stool when you buy a car seat or a potty seat when you buy a stroller.

Another place to sign up on the website is for the rewards program. You can earn various extra coupons and rewards, such as $5 for every $150 you spend at Babies R Us or even Toys R Us.

Babies R Us will allow you to stack their store coupons with manufacturer coupons, so this is a great way to get some stuff for free. I’ll post combination deals for stacking as I find them. But basically, you can look through the store coupons and then print out or clip a matching coupon for the same product.

Guess what? Babies R Us does price matching. Not a lot of people know this. Take your Walmart of other add in to the store and use it to get the lowest price. Then use your coupon on top of it!

Check out the toy prices, especially around the holidays. While the selection isn’t as large as some other stores, with coupons, I found the best prices on large toddler and preschool toys.

Finally, check out the coupon codes and coupon links for the sister store, Toys R Us. You can often find the same items that you need from Toys R Us, but with the added bonus of the extra discounts.

Happy Shopping!
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Getting Ready for Holiday Shopping

Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 at 12:49 pm
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If my husband saw me writing a post about holiday shopping, he might think that I was a little crazy. After all, it is the middle of July, we are wearing summer clothes, and everything is summer green not Christmas green.

“Stop!” you are probably thinking, “Just let me get through back to school.” But if you want to get the best deals, there are a few good reasons to start thinking ahead, right now.

1. If you get your list together now, you can compare the normal retail prices with sale prices that may be coming up when we get closer to the holiday season. How do you know if that ring marked at 50% off wasn’t actually marked up 60% first? Having a clear sense of what things cost will help you a great deal, even before you are ready to make any purchases.

2. You may spot some great hidden deals. Why spend an extra $1,000 on a HDTV, if you can buy one a few months before the holiday season and save that amount? As retailers gear up for the holiday, they may be anxious to get rid of current electronics and other products to make room for newer models and styles. The closeouts are starting.

3. Shopping for the best bargains online can take a little time if you want the lowest prices. This is because there are so many more stores to explore, and navigating them make take a little longer than just popping over to the mall. Of course, the convenience of shopping online plus the greater chance of getting a bargain outweighs the bit of extra work involved.

The best thing you can do right now is to create a list of the people you want to gift. Nail down some general gift ideas as well as a budget. You can book mark websites and then check FreeCoupons often for free shipping deals and money off coupon codes. When you spot a good deal on a gift, grab it! Starting now means that you will have more time to make sure you get that perfect gift at a perfect price.

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Should You Shop at Multiple Grocery Stores?

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 12:03 pm
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One of the questions that I routinely contemplate is whether or not I should shop in more than one store to get the best deals or save gas by sticking to just one store. There is a good argument for both sides.

Different stores usually offer different deals each week.

You should shop in multiple stores if the stores are close by each other or near places where you will be anyway, such as on your way home from work. This way, you are not going out of your way and spending extra time and gas for the bargains.

When I lived closer to the city, it was easy for me to combine a healthy walk with trips to multiple stores, so I never wasted any gas.

You should shop at multiple stores if you will be getting multiple deals and products from each store. Spending $3 on gas to go to another store to save $.50 just isn’t worth it. But if you will be saving $15 on products that you use anyway, then it would be worth it.

Don’t shop at multiple stores if a nearby store has a price matching policy. Just take the ads from the other stores and bring them with you when you shop. This way, you can get everyone’s best prices in one place. You can even use your coupons when you price match for extra savings!

Now here is a bonus tip. Check your coupons for ones that are about to expire. It might be worth it to make a special trip to a new store if you can use several of these expiring coupons on good sales.

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Cheap Supermarket Dinners

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 11:31 am
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There has been an interesting trend lately. Major supermarkets are putting together weekly or monthly meals that will feed a family of four for $15 or $10. Some of these meals can be purchased in complete form, while others are simply suggestions that allow you to shop the store yourself for the meal items.

What is nice about most of these meals is that they are very convenient. You simply take the meal home and then reheat it. And from what I have seen, the supermarkets are conscious about delivering well-balanced meals.

Right now, Shaws is offering a meal for four until May 21st that includes BBQ pulled pork, macaroni and cheese and a salad blend. The meal is already bundled together in one place, so you can just grab and go. To learn more visit the Shaw’s 4:15 web page.

Stop and Shop Supermarkets are offering education on preparing inexpensive meals with a series of seminars called Affordable Food Summits.

Is your local supermarket doing anything to address the need for affordable family meals? Please share by leaving a comment.

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