We're a one income family, and I love to stretch our budget. However, we have six kids and a busy schedule, so I don't have tons of time to organize any extreme coupon campaigns. I hope to share some of my money saving tricks with you, and also build a vibrant community of fellow Savvy Savers!
Friday, July 8, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
They are having an awesome sale this Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. All red line clearance items (which were already 50% off) are on sale for just $1 each! I picked up a pair of Columbia shorts for Owen, a pair of Munchkin Mary Janes for Elizabeth, a bunch of summer cotton Carters rompers and several GAP and Gymboree dresses for the twins and paid less than $20!
This has been one of my favorite sources for school pants for the boys, as they could not wear jeans to school, and yet outgrew their khakis mid year. . .I have always been able to fill out their wardrobes at about $5/pair for pants.
Check it out and let me know what kind of deals you get!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
However, for the sake of my readers, today was the day I was going to tackle the "big coupon trip"! In the spirit of full disclosure, I had help. Before my trip my husband helped me clip new coupons (he even helped me locate the Smart Source insert that I was certain was missing!), he also paged through ads and flyers, pointing out good deals that he saw, and lastly, he offered to stay home with the babies, so I could shop solo (a fabulous gift!)
I set out with four envelopes full of coupons. I had one for Central Market, one for CVS, one for Cash Wise Foods and one with my other coupons that I planned on using if I spotted a deal.
My first stop was at Central Market. As I was going through the paper for sale ads and coupons I came upon four store coupons that are good for 3 days only. One coupon was for Our Family brand Parmesan Cheese for $1.99 a can, limit two cans. The second was for 30 count foam plates for 88 cents each(limit 2). One was for Lay's Stacks for 99 cents each (limit 4), and the last was for (6) 6 pack 20 oz bottles of 7-Up products for $10. I picked up all of these deals, plus a few pounds of grapes, as they were on sale for $1.48 a pound. Total before coupons: $49.61. Total after coupons: $23.53! 53% savings!
Next I tried something that I've never been brave enough for before; I shopped CVS, with a flyer and coupons in hand. CVS offers some fabulous savings, however, the small shopping carts and tight aisles have made me shy away from shopping there with children. Today I was brave. And alone! Some deals were: Cheerios, buy 1 get one free, plus I had 50 cent off a box of Cheerios coupon. Pantene Shampoos were 2/$6.97 Normally this is not a low enough price for me to purchase shampoo. However there were also $2 in Extra Care Bucks (ECB) with the purchase of 2 bottles, which brings the price down to 2/$4.97. Then I combined that with a coupon from last week's paper for $3/2 Pantene products. This brought my final cost down to 2/$1.97, or under $1/bottle!
All of CVS's sale prices and ECB deals require an Extra Care Card. The card is free, and easy to register for. As an added bonus, scan your card at the coupon kiosk as you enter the store. It will print additional coupons for you. Today I got 99cents off of a Pringles snack stack (free with coupon) and $1 off of Twizzlers (my kids are very happy). My total before coupons was $78.86. I used $11.85 in manufacturer coupons, bringing my total down to $67.01 which is a 15% savings. Not bad. However, I also got $5 back in Extra Care Bucks, and a $10 gift card back as well. . .which gives me a 45% savings! According to my receipt, by using my Extra Care card and coupons I saved $55.83, however this is a misleading total, as the prices before the card discount are much higher than I would ever consider paying. All in all I was rather pleased with my "haul" here.
My third, and last stop was at Cash Wise Foods. By far, this is my favorite place to find deals in the Bismarck Mandan area. Not only do they have low enough prices for me to shop without coupons if I am in a hurry, they also have a free item of the week, tons of store coupons and a very clear coupon policy. I used the four weekly coupons from the refrigerator magnet that I got in the mail about a month ago. With this I got some great deals on Lays Potato chips, Reser's potato salad (which i combined with a printable $1 off coupon), hamburger patties and hamburger buns (can you tell that I'm stocking up for a camping trip?) Coke products had an in store coupon for 3 12 packs/$8. This is by far the lowest price I've seen on Coke all season. You can bet I'll be going back and stocking up a bit! There is also a flyer available in-store with many high value coupons for Kraft Family foods. Several Kelloggs and General Mills cereals were on sale and I had some $1/2 printable coupons in hand. My total before coupons was $135.65, my total after coupons was $100.76. My savings was 26%. My cashier said that I had the biggest savings that she had seen all day! (I also had a coupon print out for $2 off of my next order from purchasing Oscar Meyer lunch meat. . .on sale).
So, at the end of the day, I saved $73.48 in coupons, and I have an additional $17 that I can take off of future purchases! All of this was achieved through only buying one Sunday paper a week, and only printing the appropriate limit of coupons with one computer. I did not purchase nor trade for any additional coupons. I followed all known coupon policies. My total shopping and driving time was just over 2 hours.
I did learn a few things:
- It is easy to get sidetracked and tempted to buy things off the list even without kids around!
- It made things much easier to have coupons separated by store. As I finished a store and had unused coupons, I moved them to the "general" coupon envelope.
- Although CVS has great deals, and corporately encourages coupon use, the cashiers are a bit annoyed by them. . .and by full baskets of groceries, so be gentle. They do not have conveyer belts, or baggers. . .so not-so-extreme couponers like us may annoy them just a bit. Slap on your kindest smile and try not to be impatient!
- Cash Wise Foods cashiers love to save you coupon money. . .you just may make their day!
Friday, June 10, 2011
For the first few years of our marriage we lived in very tiny apartments, with a very tiny grocery budget, there was no money to buy anything extra to set it aside.
More recently I have had a rotating grocery stash. I've not needed to dust it, if something were to happen to it I would not cry, nor would our family starve, and I don't consider it a part of my family. It is, however, part of my overall money saving strategy.
Here is how to build a grocery stash that works for you!
- Decide what items you plan on stocking up on. You know what items you use day after day and week after week. These items vary by family. Some people will go through a bottle of ketchup a week, while mine goes through maybe four a year. A box of cereal can last your family a week, or a day. We use almost no canned vegetables, as the children prefer frozen, so you won't see row after row of canned veggies on my shelves. However, you will see many canned beans.
- Determine the quantities that you need in your stash. A good rule of thumb is to only stash enough of an item to get you to the next good deal. One of my goals here at BisMan Savvy Savers is to find out what the local sales cycles are, so that we can stock up wisely. Remember that no matter how cheap the items are in your grocery stash, they still represent money spent. Just like a wise business does not carry excess inventory, neither should your household grocery stash. For food items I tend to not store more than three months of an item. So, that would mean I keep no more than 12 jars of pasta sauce. We go through a lot of cereal, and it goes on sale fairly often, so at most I'll stash a month's worth of cereal, which would be 15-20 boxes. I'll store up to a year's worth of personal care items such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and the like. But even a years worth does not look extreme when you break down how much you really use. We go through 2 bottles of baby wash a year, for instance. At max we use 24 tubes of toothpaste.
- Once you start building your stash, don't be afraid to use it. Your grocery stash is not a museum, or emergency rations, or even a store for your college aged granddaughter. It should be a easily accessible collections of items used in your daily life. Don't be afraid to deplete your supply. When items go on sale again you will get more. If you ever get to the point where you are afraid to use the items that you stockpile, you may need to examine your motivations.
- If you have a grocery stash, you shop differently. You will find that you only buy items when they are on sale (and hopefully combined with coupons). This means that one week you may buy 12 jars of pasta sauce, 4 chickens, and 8 cans of cream of mushroom soup; and next week you may buy 12 boxes of cereal, 10 pounds of rice, and 20 cans of kidney beans. I tend to spend the same amount on groceries each week (I budget $150 for our family of 8), but the items I buy vary greatly.
- Your stash will vary by season. In the summer my stash tends to contain a lot of pasta for making cold salads, salad dressings (they go on great sales in the summer so I tend to stock up for the year) and potato chips. In the winter I stock up on cake mixes, flour and sugar, canned beans and canned soups.
- Don't let your stash go to waste. Did you buy a lot of an item thinking that your family would love it? Did someone develop an allergy to a certain type of food or personal product? Donate things that just are not being used. I have a friend (hi Eileen!) who brought some baby shampoo and some body wash to my house one day. She had it in her stash and she got them for free or close to it, but knew she would not use it. What a blessing it was to me at the time!
- I, personally, do not stock up on paper products. I can usually find a good deal or a coupon or both on things like toilet paper fairly often. I buy a large package of toilet paper for each bathroom, and replace it when needed. Paper products take up a ton of space, and in our house, real estate is at a premium. We rarely use paper towels, and we end up having to donate more Kleenex to the school than our family ever uses in a year. I buy a three pack of tissue at back to school time and it literally lasts us all year! Your mileage may vary.