Monday, April 4, 2011

Those annoying rewards cards???

Ok, so I'm pretty sure that everyone has and knows about a Shaw's Rewards Card. It's what is also referred to as a courtesy card.

courtesy card
A card that confers on its bearer a special right or privilege, as at a supermarket or bank.
Almost every large store or chain offers a rewards, courtesy, or membership card to its customers. The catch is that you normally have to go online and fill out a form to get one or hold up the line at the register and fill one out on the spot. Once you've done this, you get a card that gives you access to sale items, gives points that add up and as a result you receive a discount or coupon, or gives a percentage off at the register. Regardless of the actual benefit, you need to take the time to do this at every store you stop at. Seriously. It might take you a Sunday afternoon to do this but the pay off is big.

Now the down side, you have numerous cards to add to your wallet and you may start getting frequent ads from the stores you signed up at. But, it's worth it in the long run. Target gives you 5% off every single purchase. Rite Aid adds money to your card so that the next time you buy something they automatically take it off your total and so on.

Here are some cards that seem to have a pretty good payoff:
  1. Target
  2. Shaws
  3. Hannafords
  4. Rite Aid 
  5. Petco
  6. Pet Smart
  7. CVS
  8. Starbucks
  9. Best Buy
  10. Walgreens
So get going and sign up for these and/or any places you frequently shop at. Just make sure you carry the card and use it each time you shop there. It really does add up. It's free money!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Value of Using Coupons

So today is the day that I prepare for my grocery shopping trip of the week. In my area, two of the three major grocery stores start their sales on Sundays. I subscribed to the newspaper when a person from their sales department called and offered to give us the paper on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays for $1 for an entire year! We got a bill in the paper later for a total of $1. Seriously! So now I get a Sunday paper overflowing with coupon inserts and I try to make shopping fun.

I sit at the dining room table with my laptop, notepad, scissors, and my coupon organizer. I fix myself a hot, steamy cup of fresh coffee and go to work. I scan the flyers and find the third store's flyer online, as they don't mail theirs out. I then make a column for each store and jot down all the loss leaders (the huge savings on a couple of items splashed on the front page of their flyers) for each supermarket. Then I look for coupons for those items if they apply. As I scan the rest of the flyers I add the sale items that I actually use, doing a quick check for a coupon. I don't buy anything, no matter what a steal it is, unless it's healthy and a product that my family actually uses. By taking a few minutes each Sunday to prepare for my weekly shopping trip I save $20 to $30 on my $100 budget per week for groceries.

We eat only foods on the food pyramid and by shopping like this each week we have accumulated a small stockpile of all of our favorite foods and household products. There is no waste at my home. I don't obsess over couponing but I also see the great value in using them. Couponing is time well spent.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Night Out on the Cheap

I am a true believer that scrimping and saving in all aspects of life is necessary to obtain the good things later in life. That said, I still think that a couple needs an occasional date night. So when my husband and I want to enjoy a night at a "fancy" restaurant the bargain shopping doesn't stop. I always go to and find a local restaurant that is offering a fantastic discount. Go to the website and read everything carefully as some specials are not valid on the weekends. Sometimes our date night is on a Wednesday night because I was able to score a 75% discount on a meal during the week.

This week is "Restaurant Week" in my area. I found a restaurant that gave us a $50 coupon for $25. During Restaurant Week there is usually a special menu that offers a three-course meal for around $30 per person. After looking over the menu I chose a lobster chowder as my appetizer which costs $22, I got a seared sea scallop dinner which costs $28, and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert that sells for $8. My meal before tax and tip came to $58 for food for one person. Now double it for my husbands three courses and we're up to $116 for our total food.

Now it's Restaurant Week and that $58 each is now only $30 each. Now let's think back to the $50 dollar coupon we have. So basically the food came to $60 minus our $50 coupon. We only ended up owing $10 plus tip and tax for two, three-course meals that would normally cost $116.00! We spent the $25 for the coupon and $10 for the balance equaling $35 for $116 worth of food. Not that is a cheap but very fun date!

Friday, April 1, 2011

More for your money in the produce department

When buying prepackaged fruit, vegetables, or nuts in the produce section always weigh before buying. If the product is sold by the package, not by the pound, weighing several packages is key to getting more for your money. Let's take potatoes for example. The potatoes may be prepackaged into bags marked "5 pounds" but from my experience most bags weigh in at different weights. Let's face it, potatoes are not identical in size and weight. So some bags will weigh in at anywhere from 5 pounds to almost 6 pounds for the same price. I always weigh several bags, taking the heaviest one which sometimes results in almost an extra pound of potatoes, free. Do this with carrots, celery, peppers, green onions, oranges, apples, any pre-bagged product. Get more produce for the same amount of money. This can really add up if you take a moment to do this on each shopping trip.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Show About Couponing

There is a new show starting on April 6th called "Extreme Couponing" on TLC. These are some serious ladies that find shopping to be a money-saving sport. They spend hours preparing for their shopping trips armed with store flyers and coupons for the items on sale. Their goal is to leave the store with everything they bought costing them absolutely nothing at the cash register.

This seems like a great show for anyone just starting out trying to use a few coupons and for the hardcore coupon Queens that make a killing every week on grocery day. I for one, will definitely be watching and taking notes. I want to be a "Coupon Queen", too! I fancied myself quite a bargain shopper by using $10 to $20 worth of coupons as often as possible on a single shopping trip. But these ladies blow me out of the water. The only comment I might add, without seeing the show yet, is I won't buy unhealthy prepackaged, frozen things like "Tator Tots" or something of no nutritional value just to get it cheap or free. I know it may sound wasteful to pass on a bag of free Tator Tots but the toll that kind of eating takes on your body is far more expensive in my mind. I would not condemn anyone else that feels differently about that. Hey, eat your free Tator Tots and be happy! Free feels good no matter what.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Frugal Fantasies

I feel it's appropriate to first introduce The Butterscotch Tabby. He is known as Nicky, named after George Eads from the TV show CSI. He, himself, was a bargain as a rescued kitten. The cost for Nicky was $58.00 from a local animal rescue. With the adoption of an animal you usually receive the first visit to the veterinarian free. When Nicky was given his physical and shots we were also given a "kitten kit" full of vitamins, free samples of kitten food, and coupons for more food and cat litter. The bill at the vets came to $68.00 so using my free visit certificate I made $10.00. I took the ten dollar profit and bought a litter box and litter. The litter box and litter both were purchased using coupons saving me $3.00. I then took the $3.00 and with the coupons from the vet visit bought kitten food. So in the end, Nicky (The Butterscotch Tabby), a litter box, litter, and kitten food cost our family $2.00! By far, our best bargain EVER!
Come back everyday for more money-saving tips to live out your "Frugal Fantasies"