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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Smarty Tips to Save Money

By Jen P, Charlotte Smarty Pants

It seems like everyone is in a panic over the economic conditions we are facing today, and rightfully so. My family included. Not too long ago, I was pretty much fired from one of my primary job responsibilities as a mother, grocery shopping and Target shopping for my family. This was a complete knee-jerk reaction by my hubby. But I'm not angry with him, I'm actually breathing a sigh of relief.

I'm not proud of the fact that I spend most of our hard-earned $ at two of my least favorite places to frequent: Harris Teeter and Target. My husband has known for a long time that I'm not the most efficient when it comes to grocery shopping. I never go in with a list because it's usually a last minute trip like "oh no, we're out of milk and bread" and then I come out $150 later. It's not like I buy things that will go bad. We actually throw out very little. But it's the little extras that go in my cart that have really been adding up lately.

You see, I am flawed by design with regard to grocery shopping. I'm a go-down-every-single-aisle kind of gal, just in case I miss something that I absolutely cannot live without. And that's the problem. You need to go in with a list and get in and out of there or you're toast. You should also shop the perimeter. You'll spend WAY less, not to mention it's much healthier since that's where all the fresh stuff is kept.

So my husband, Randy, recognized my weakness and stepped up to the plate. I know, he's a gem, isn't he?! He now grocery shops every Wednesday when the new e-Vic specials come out as well as double-coupon days (I'm not a coupon girl only for lack of time, but I'm changing my ways!). We have on our to-do list to do online grocery shopping, but we're never organized enough to take that initial step. Someday we'll make it happen!

I have also been banned from Target. This is actually something I have wanted to do for a long time anyway. I'm not a fan of their return policy plus I think Target just makes you feel like you're getting a good deal. When in reality, their prices are just as high as Walgreens, CVS or even, Harris Teeter. And if you get me in Target, I'll always pick up an extra pair of jammies, or Halloween decorations or something. These items are not necessities, so I have stayed away for a month and a half or so with a few "cheats" here and there.

I have to say, this system is working for us. Monday and Tuesday meal menus are pretty lame in our house, but we're surviving just fine. And I'm happy to report that we've saved at least $150 a month on groceries. I have been defeated, but am willing to take a hit for the team since it means we're saving some serious $$!

My other tips:
* For me personally, I have stopped using credit cards. If I can't pay for it with cash, then I don't really need it.
* Play Wii or rent movies for date night.
* Carpool when you can - saves a ton on gas.
* Go out to lunch and dinner less often. You'd be surprised at how much lunch in particular costs and can accumulate fast.
* Shop local when you can - we cannot afford to have our local economy shut down. This will exacerbate the problem.

I also turned to our Charlotte Smarty Pants team to give us some of their tips on saving money and I encourage you to do the same at the end of the blog!

First up is Tracy, our Smartiest saver of all...
"I am a retail store discount junkie! I actually make a game out of how much money I can save when I go shopping. I'm talking about those little deals that come in the mail where you get 20% off your entire purchase during a certain time or save $25 if you spend a certain amount. And my favorite is when stores like Gymboree or the Loft give you "bucks back" for a future purchase based off what you are buying today. Usually this ends up being half off your future purchase, even after sale prices!!

The best way to get these deals is to sign up for that stores credit card. Now, I hesitate to encourage anyone to sign up for another credit card and risk putting yourself in debt during times like these - you MUST be diligent about paying off your bill when it comes or you negate any savings you rack up in interest charges! BUT - if you do it right, you really can save a lot!

For example, I have an Old Navy card which is good at Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Piperlime (shoes) and the deals are usually good at all 4 stores as well. Every time I use my card at one of those stores, I earn points toward $10 Bucks Back coupons. Plus they send me extra coupons in the mail and often you can get free or discounted shipping for online purchases! Ann Taylor is another card I have that frequently sends coupons for 20% off or $$ discounts. Plus they also just added a points program to reward you for your purchases.

A couple other tips ...
* Those Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons never expire! Hold on to them and use a bunch at one time.
* Many stores will honor competitors coupons, just ask!
* When shopping online, Google that store and add the word "coupon" at the end and you'll be amazed at the deals you can find that way.
* And finally, to keep all these great deals organized so you don't forget about them or lose them in the bottom of your purse (happens to me all the time), get a cheap little photo album that you can slip your coupons in and easily flip through your deals at any given time. I just keep that in my purse so if I'm ever out and about, I'll have all my deals with me!"

Next up is Dana, our green Smarty saver...
"I am trying to cut back this fall especially with the recent state of the economy. Here are some examples we try to follow in our household:
* Shop consignment stores.
* Rent movies on demand for "date night" instead of going out.
* Cook much more at home, less take out.
* We use reusable towels/cloth napkins versus paper towels to save money and trees.
* Use cloth diapers, I spend less on disposable diapers.
* Try to consolidate shopping trips = less pollution, less gas.
* I actually dropped our gym membership because we never go. We have been exercising outside, especially with this incredible weather.
* We are going to make a lot of our Christmas gifts this year and/or pick names. Keeping it simple!
* Reduce consumption of goods= less waste. Ask yourself, do you really need this?
* Shop the farmer's markets.
* Less traveling overall."

Here is Jenny, keeping it simple ...
"I go to Costco with a strict list and do not deviate. I only buy the things that I would buy if I was in Harris Teeter. Otherwise I get spend too much on things I don't need. My list includes baby wipes, Apple Juice, Orange Juice, Waffles, Cereal, Pretzels, Cereal Bars. This way, when I go to grocery store, I just buy fresh foods like meat, fruit and vegetables for the week. It is much less waste and buying things in bulk that are not perishable, allows me to keep my weekly bills down."

Share your Smarty tips! We could all use a little help:-)

Smarties, don't forget to register for our Bonus Giveaway with "Send Out Cards". Everyone wins, so why not sign up? You could save more than $50 in greeting cards. This free offer ends Friday, April 30. Click here for all the details.


Sara said...

Southern Savers helps you stack coupons with the week's deals at grocery stores and drug stores, plus lets you know about other great deals!

I got a Kohls card...I pay it off every month, and get 15-30% off coupons every month (plus you sometimes earn Kohls cash).

I use etc consignment in WS to drop off things we don't need...and earn a little pocket money in the process!

Anonymous said...

Be careful opening store credit card accounts, even if you pay them off. Having too many open lines of credit and not using them can hurt your credit score.

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Putting together a menu for the upcoming week's dinner helps me out so much. We usually have a "breakfast for dinner" night almost every week where we have either eggs, pancakes, or french toast. It's cheap, easy and everybody is happy. Shopping lists are a big help too and never shop when you are hungry because everything looks good!

Carrie said...

Cutting down on the amount of meat we eat or trying to stretch it a little further has cut down our grocery spending. We eat vegetarian (sauteed veggies over pasta, veggie stir-fry, fritatta, etc) at least 4 nights a week. And when we do use ground beef or chicken in tacos or chili or stir fry we use just half a pound or 1-2 chicken breasts instead of the whole package. You can save a lot of money this way and you are eating more vegetables. A win-win!

Summer said...

We also cut out target. We also cut out the mall. I am a sucker for their marketing ploys to an embarrassing degree. We plan all our meals each week, breakfast lunch and dinner, and try to eat meatless 2 nights a week. We also save by buying in bulk at Costco, making meals ahead and freezing. We rarely buy individually packaged items, We gave up paper towels and use washable napkins and cleaning cloths, we pack the kids snacks in reusable containers, and every member of the family drinks from a reusable water bottle. We also gave up juice. The impact on our budget has been dramatic, we have saved about $250 a month over the last year.

pay rent online said...

With about 35 shipping centers across the United States Netflix offers the fastest shipping times around, giving its customers more movies for less money. I usually have a new movie within 3 days of returning one but this may vary depending on where you live.For the $16.99 plan (unlimited rentals, three movies at a time), we were able to rent and watch dozens of separate movie titles during a single month. We could also watch an unlimited number of movies downloaded online right on our computer.Netflix has a gigantic movie selection topping 85,000 individual titles; these are separated into 21 different genres including new releases, comedies, thrillers, indies and television. Netflix also rents high definition Blu-Ray discs at an additional $1.00 fee on top of the monthly plan. Which is also a great savings compared to pay-per-view pricings or the price to buy new Blu-Ray titles.

Anonymous said...

One way we have lowered our grocery bill is shopping at the grocery store Aldi. I have saved over $50 a month by shopping there!

Ashley said... a one stop shop for coupons, store deals, freebies, &'s great!

Dave Ramsey will teach you how to live like no one else so later you can LIVE like no one else.

Frugality is a way of life for us...I could really write a book but I'll stop with these two tips. : )

Anonymous said...

I second that on Dave Ramsey..AMAZING!

Anonymous said...

Red Box DVDs are a great way to save money! They have locations all over the triad: grocery stores, drug stores, Wal-Marts, etc. DVD rentals are only $1 a night and they have a great selection, including new releases!!

David said...

Really all are smart tips..cheapest loans

Tips on saving money said...

Saving money was quite essential and it became more crucial after we witnessed the effects of financial crisis on common man. According to me having a budget, planning for your retirement will surly help you for saving money.

Anonymous said...

Dave Ramsey is amazing! And his parents and members of his staff buy their meats and vegetables from Southern Foods at Home/Service Foods, Inc. as a means of saving money and living frugally.

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