Aug 29, 2014

So you hate couponing… here’s how to still save BIG on groceries!

Aug
29
2014
Friday

So you hate couponing... here is what you can do to still save BIG!!



I remember the first time I got over $100 worth of groceries for less than $5. It was an incredible rush and quickly became addictive. No, it wasn’t that huge of a discount every time, but even seeing your bill go down by 30 or 40% with coupons is an exciting thing.

But then life happens.

For me, it was getting pregnant with my 4th kid. Have I mentioned before that I’m a pretty miserable pregnant lady?

I can’t even walk through a grocery store during my first trimester without getting sick, much less consider doing any serious couponing.

I have several friends who tell me that they want to save money at the grocery store but that they hate (H.A.T.E.) coupons. So they think that they can’t really save.

Whether you are going through a season where couponing doesn’t work for you, or you just absolutely abhor the idea of using coupons, your options for saving money are still plentiful!

In fact, couponing is just the icing on the cake for grocery savings. It’s not the foundation at all.

The foundation is menu planning

Even hard-core couponers can waste tons of money if they don’t have a plan for how they are going to feed their families. A pantry and freezer full of food does you no good if you don’t have a plan for how to use those items.

I say this in my couponing classes all the time… menu planning alone can save you 40% or more each month if you don’t currently have weekly meal plans.

What do you buy at the store if you aren’t shopping with specific meals in mind? Whatever looks good? The things that they have in nice, pretty displays?

Here are two posts on how to menu plan that should really help if this is something new for you. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can save!

Basic Menu Planning Strategies
How To Menu Plan Off Of What’s On Sale

Shop the sales cycles

A “Sales Cycle” in grocery shopping refers to when a particular product goes on sale at its “rock bottom price” (which just means that it’s at it’s lowest price that it will go).

Most everyday products have a sales cycle of about 3 months (some shorter, some longer). That means that if cereal is on sale this week at the lowest it will go, then it likely will be at that price again in another 3 months or so.

Three months isn’t ALWAYS the case, but it’s a good rule-of-thumb.

So when you’re deciding how many boxes of cereal to buy during a great sale, remember that they will go on sale again in another 3 months.  So get enough to last you for about 3 months until the next sale.

We talk a lot about this concept in my couponing classes but you can shop the sales cycles whether you are couponing or not!

When your favorite cereal is on sale for $1.99, allocate enough in your grocery budget that week to get enough boxes to last you for a few months. You’ll be thankful that you did when it’s at $3.49 for that same box the next month.

Yes, this part does take some research. You’ll probably want to have a small notebook that you bring to the store with you to keep track of prices. It doesn’t have to be big, just a small notebook to keep track of the price fluctuations on the items that you like to buy regularly.

I have a whole post about sales cycles if you want to read more about how they work!

Also consider buying from the bulk foods section if your store has one. My local Sprouts store runs some great specials on the bulk foods (you just scoop the rice or dried beans, or oatmeal, or whatever product into a plastic bag) – and many times it ends up being MUCH less than the prepackaged foods.

Shop with cash

While I love the Dave Ramsey system, I’m not a cash-only person. I don’t like the idea of having lots of cash with me everywhere I go.

But, for grocery shopping, the only way that I have found to really stick to a set-in-stone budget when grocery shopping is to use cash only… and leave any debit/credit cards at home.

If you have a grocery budget for the week of $100 and your bill comes out to $110, what are you going to do if you have a debit/credit card? More than likely (although I can’t speak for everyone) you would just put all $110 on the card. But if you have $100 cash and that’s it, what do you do? You figure out which items need to be put back (and more than likely, you walk around the store with a calculator so that you don’t go over at the register!)

That extra $10 a week adds up to $520 a year!

Don’t be afraid of stockpiling

Stockpiling does *not* have to be extreme. Just set aside a certain portion of your grocery budget towards building up your stockpile and watch it slowly grow.

I recommend a 20/50/30 model in my couponing classes.

Let 20% of your weekly grocery budget be for the staple products that you buy every week no matter what. These are the items that are harder to stock up on (like milk, eggs, yogurt, bread) since they have a very limited shelf-life. This amount will always be in your weekly budget.

Let 50% of your grocery budget go towards food that you are going to buy to eat that next week. These are the things that you have planned out on your menu plan and are on sale. Don’t use this 50% for anything other than what you are going to eat this next week (all meals + snacks).

Then, save that final 30% of your weekly budget for building up your stockpile. This amount is going to be used to buy extra of the items that are at their lowest prices. You will want to keep these products in a separate section of your pantry/garage/freezer/fridge so that you aren’t tempted to use them that week. I had one person at a couponing class tell me that she had to hide her stockpile items from her husband and teenage son or they would eat them all as soon as she got home!

So let’s take a $100 weekly grocery budget. $20 of that would go towards your weekly staples, $50 of that would go towards what you would eat that week, and the other $30 would go towards building up your stockpile.

Within a few weeks, you’ll find that you don’t need that full $50 for what you are going to be eating that next week since you can start using what’s in your stockpile to menu plan that second week of doing this system.

Maybe now you only need $40 for what you’ll be eating that week and you can use $40 for stockpile items!

Then in another few weeks? Maybe you can use $50 or $60 for your stockpile.

Eventually, you can use that full $80 on your stockpile… or you can go ahead and lower your weekly grocery budget since we likely don’t have unlimited room in our garage and freezer.

Once you’re only buying your staple items and your stockpile items each week, then put that extra money directly into a savings account.

For example, if you had a $100 weekly grocery budget but went down to $70 after you had built up your stockpile, then you would put that extra $30 per week in some type of savings account.

After just 1 year you would have an extra $1,560!!

Coupons *can* be involved in this whole process, but they don’t have to be. I know plenty of non-couponers who are great at stockpiling.

Make more from scratch

Yes, making things from scratch takes longer, but it is typically *much* less expensive.

Plus, you get the added benefit of knowing every ingredient that’s in there. :)

I shared my experience of knowing nothing about cooking to cooking full home-cooked meals – and I promise that if I can do it, anyone can!

Shop at Aldi

If you have an Aldi near you and haven’t visited it yet, you are missing out!

When I have people tell me that they never want to touch a coupon in their life, but they still want to save money, I tell them to shop at Aldi.

Their every day prices are excellent and I’ve consistently been impressed with the quality of the products that I buy there.

Aldi does not accept coupons (most of their items are private labeled with their own brand names), but the prices of almost identical items is much less than their counterparts at other grocery stores (even lower than when those name-brand products go on sale).

Take baby steps when you try again

If you know that you want to get back into couponing, or you want to give it a try in the future, be sure to take baby steps. Don’t try to jump in to couponing at multiple stores with a massive coupon binder right off the bat.

Pick one store to start couponing at. Then add another, then another.

Start off organizing your coupons with the filing method (even if you’ve done the big binder before!) and then move on to the more complicated methods if you want to.

Getting “couponing burnout” is easy to do, and many get it after a couple of years of hard-care couponing. Just take it slow, and don’t feel guilty about taking breaks when you need to.

And don’t feel guilty about not wanting to use coupons at all. They are a tool in your belt of grocery savings, but you have many other great tools as well.

So you hate couponing... here is what you can do to still save BIG!!

More articles you might like:

How to start couponing

How to save on organic food

Top Couponing Tips

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Aug 14, 2014

FREE Weekend Activities For The Whole Family!

Aug
14
2014
Thursday

Free and Cheap Weekend Activities For The Whole Family




There are lots of events that you can participate in for FREE this weekend!!

The events below should be available all across the country. If you have any others to include (either national or local events), please feel free to leave a comment below.

A HUGE thanks to Lori from More With Less Today for putting together this great round-up!

NOTE: Always call ahead to make sure that your local store or retailer is parcipating. These are all advertised as national events, but sometimes local stores have the option to opt-out.

Also, for local family fun deals, be sure and check Groupon, Amazon Local and LivingSocial! We always find tons of great activities for super cheap prices on those sites!

Be sure and check out your local library and parks and recreation departments for free local programs and events too!

:: American Girl Store ::

Special events differ by location. During August they include Celebrate Pets, a Summer Flower Anklet Craft, Summer Fun Celebration, Doll ‘Dos and How-To’s, Bitty Baby and Me Story Time, and Meet the Author Tours.

Many of the American Girl in store events are free, however some have a fee and some have age restrictions. Get the details here and find participating stores.

:: Barnes & Noble ::

Find StoryTime and Free Author Events – Find the times and participating Barnes and Noble stores here.

During the month of August – participate in reading, Spanish word practice and activities – dates and times vary by store.

:: Bass Pro Shops ::

Outdoor Skills Workshops – free classes offered on a regular basis on topics such as bass fishing, fly fishing, hunting and more. Contact you local store here for details.

:: Container Store ::

Learn the Tricks of Organization on Saturdays and Sundays, now thorough August 24th. Find more information and find your closest Container Store here. Times and event dates vary by location.

:: Disney Store ::

Disney Stores are offering Summer Play Days every day this summer now through September 1, 2014. The fun includes Art of Animation, Trivia, Story Time and Showtime. Check your local store for event details and times. Kids will receive a free button for participation each week.

:: Guitar Center ::

Saturday, August 16th {no age restriction}

10 AM – Recording Made Easy for Pro Tools

10:15 AM – Group Ukulele Lesson

Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register at the Guitar Center website here.

:: Home Depot Workshop for Adults ::

Saturday, August 16th from 10AM to 11:30AM – Home Automation

Learn how to pick the best automation products and save energy and money.

Come Improve DIY Skills. Learn home improvement skills at your favorite local store. Contact your local store for individual topics. You can pre-register online here.

:: Lakeshore Learning Store ::

Saturday, August 16th from 11 AM-3 PM – a few locations offer crafts every Sunday.

Kids make and take a Blooming Numbers Garden. Get more information here.

:: Michael’s Kids Club ::

Saturday, August 16th – 10AM – 12 Noon

Kids Club – for $2 per child, you can reserve 30 minutes for kids to create while you shop at Michael’s. Sessions start every half hour from 10AM – 11:30. See a store associate to sign up.Get more information here.

:: Microsoft Camp ::

Registration is open for free weekly in-store camps, now through August 29th. Camps are broken up into two age groups for Jr. Designers (recommended for ages 8-10) and Designers (recommended for ages 11-13), so choose the camp that fits your student’s interest and sign up today.

:: Pottery Barn ::

Sunday, August 17th at 11 AM ~ Autumnal Decorating ` learn easy ways to update your home for fall. Find a participating store and RSVP here.

:: Williams-Sonoma ::

Saturday, August 16th {for kids} at 10 AM ~ Jr. Chefs will learn how to make great back to school snacks using apples. This Jr. Chef Class is suitable for ages 9-13. To reserve a spot, contact your closest store right here.

Sunday, August 17th {for adults} ~ Celebrating the Harvest Using Apples ~ learn how to make the most of this year’s apple harvest with new ideas for cooking and baking. To reserve a spot, and find out specific class times, contact your closest store right here.


   

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! COMING SOON……

: FREE Museum Weekend for Bank of America Customers ::

Saturday, September 6th and Sunday, September 7th

Bank of America’s Museums on Us is offering free admission to more than 150 museums nationwide. Simply present your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card along with a photo ID to gain free general admission to any participating institution. Cardholders only; guests are not eligible for free admission. For more information about Museums on Us, visit: http://museums.bankofamerica.com.

:: Home Depot Workshop for Kids ::

Saturday, September 6th from 9 AM to 12 PM ~ Build a Wizard of Oz Birdhouse. You can pre-register online here.

:: Lego Mini Model ::

Usually held monthly in stores, kids ages 6 to 14 can build and take home a FREE Lego® Monkey Mini Build, while supplies last. Contact your closest LEGO® Store here for details.

:: Lowe’s Build and Grow ::

Saturday, August 23rd at 10AM ~kids build and take a Monsters vs Aliens Robot. You can pre-register right here.

:: Smithsonian Magazine Free Museum Day- 1500 Participating Museums ::

September 27th get FREE general admission for 2 people to many fabulous museums all across the USA! Request your tickets here, print them out and bring them with you.


   

More to Explore Throughout the Year:

:: Apple Camp ::

Enrollment is open for kids ages 8-12 to attend Apple Camp. This is popular free camp where kids can learn to make movies or create interactive books complete with their own illustrations and sound effects. Hurry, spots fill up quickly. Go here to sign up.

:: Apple Store ::

Free workshops – learn the basic of Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod. Learn how to create slideshows with iPhoto. Edit home movies with iMovie and more! Find your local store and make a reservation for a free workshop here.

:: Bass Pro Shops Free Classes ::

You can sign up for free workshops such as archery basics for kids, hunting, fishing, fly-fishing, camping, and boating. Contact your local store for their schedule.

:: FREE Beauty Events ::

Find free beauty events at local stores with free samples and demonstrations. Visit the website that keeps track of these right here.

:: Sephora: Free In Store Beauty Classes ::

Join the Sephora Beauty club {it is free} and attend free beauty classes inside Sephora stores to learn everything from building a skin care routine to creating the perfect smoky eye. Classes are held on Sunday at more than 60 stores across the USA. Check with your local stores for schedules and times.

:: Home and Garden Shows ::

If you like Home and Garden shows, this site will give you a free pass. Check the ACS Home Show site.

:: Michael’s Show In Tell {for adults} ::

Learn something new with in-store demonstrations for new craft ideas, techniques, and creative new trends. From cake decorating, jewelry making, art painting, paper crafting and more, get your local calendar of events right here.

:: FREE Major League Baseball Clinics ::

Through the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, kids can attend a free baseball clinic in many locations across the country. The free program is called Free Legends for Youth Kids Clinics.

:: FREE Bowling ::

Kids Bowl for Free at select bowling centers. Justjoin their mailing list to get notified of the next Kids Bowl Free Day.

:: Free Fitness Classes ::

Lululemon locations offer free yoga classes, go here for schedules and locations. Athleta stores offer free in store fitness classes, go here for schedules and locations.

:: Free Flying Lessons ::

Young Eagles – kids ages 8 to 17 experience aviation and get free rides in private aircraft flown by experienced pilots. Get more information here.

:: FREE Roller Skating ::

Kids Roller Skate for Free: Find the closest participating facility right here.

:: FREE SKI Passport for 5th Graders ::

Go to www.5thgradeskipassport.com to get a free pass in Idaho or the Pacific Northwest. For other areas, search for your state with the words “5th grade ski pass + your state”, or the name of your local ski resort.

:: FREE Wine Tasting ::

Total Wine stores offer free wine tasting classes each weekend. Learn about specific producers, regions and varietals. Where allowed by law, participants receive special discounts on the wine being tasted. View the FREE Wine Tasting Schedule here.

:: Target – Free Community Events ::

Target is also sponsoring FREE community events ranging from free museum admission, free theater tickets, family activities and tours at some of our countries most famous venues. Times and locations vary by city. Find free family activities sponsored by Target in your area right here.

:: More Free Museum Dates ::

This site, www.freemuseumday.org, tracks free museum days in the following cities: Boston, Chicago,Los Angeles, New York, Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, and the Seattle Area.

:: Crazy Holidays This Weekend ::

Have some silly fun on a budget! Celebrate Tell a Joke Day, Rollercoaster Day, Relaxation Day and more! Get the schedule here.

Thanks again to More With Less Today for providing us with this awesome round-up!

Free and Cheap Weekend Activities

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Aug 12, 2014

20 Gluten-Free Crock-Pot Freezer Meals At Costco For Under $150!

Aug
12
2014
Tuesday

Make 20 Gluten-Free Freezer Meals From Costco For Less Than $150!!




Now that school is about to be in full-swing again (and already is for several school districts), I wanted to share this awesome resource for saving time and money… even while eating Gluten-Free!

My friend Erin has created a complete plan with everything that you need to make 20 gluten-free meals in your crock-pot for under $150. And you can get all of the ingredients at your local Costco store!

Keep in mind that the Costco prices included in the plan are the prices here in Texas, so they might vary a little by region.  You can see a full list of current Costco prices on our Costco price list page!

All you need to assemble all of the freezer cooking bags is 2 hours on the weekend. In that two hours you can put together EVERYTHING that you need for a month’s worth of weekday dinners. Then each day throughout the month, just take out the freezer bag that you already prepared and dump it into the crockpot in the morning! Super easy!

Here’s what it ends up looking like!

How To Make Freezer Meals From Costco

I’ve actually been looking for a new slow cooker (mine finally bit the dust this year), so I’m looking at getting this one here that Erin highly recommends.

Erin has made the whole process super easy and has put everything you need together in a downloadable package!

Costco Gluten Free Freezer Meals

Here’s everything that comes in the package:

(1) Printable Assembly Instructions – step by step guide to pulling all these meals together and into the freezer

(2) Printable Assembly Cards – so you don’t forget any ingredients in each bag

(3) Printable Labels – you can print these out onto Avery #6874 label paper and stick them to your plastic baggies or containers.

(4) Exclusive Access to the 3 Instructional Assembly Videos – Erin takes you through ALL two hours of assembling your meals!

(5) Recipe List & Grocery List!

The recipes included sound amazing too!

Recipe List

Each pack in this plan is DOUBLED. The ten meals in the meal plan make 20 packs total and each pack serves a family of 4.

  • Slow Cooker Chicken with Apples & Rosemary
  • Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apples & Sweet Potatoes
  • Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chicken Curry
  • Slow Cooker Italian Chicken
  • Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken & Potatoes
  • Slow Cooker Sausage, Peppers, Onions
  • Slow Cooker Italian Stew Roast
  • Slow Cooker Beef Stew
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Slow Cooker Chicken & Sausage Stew

You get ALL of this (all of the videos, cards, labels, plan, price sheet, shopping list, and more) for just $5!

Gluten-Free Freezer Meals

And this plan will save you a lot more than $5!

If you just want the recipe and grocery list, then you can get those for just $1.97 here, but you miss out on the assembly instructions, videos, labels, and all of the other benefits of the full package!

Make 20 Gluten-Free Freezer Meals From Costco For Less Than $150!!

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Aug 6, 2014

New Money-Making App For Organic, Gluten-Free, & Non-GMO Purchases!!

Aug
6
2014
Wednesday

Berry Cart App




Now this is my kind of app!!

There’s a new app that I highly recommend downloading.  It’s similar to Ibotta in that you can get high-value coupons by doing different things (like watching a video or taking a quiz) except with BerryCart it’s only for Organic, Gluten-Free, and Non-GMO food!

You can sign up by clicking here!  After you create your account and download the app, just be sure to click the “Sign In” button in the app.

Frequently Asked Questions about BerryCart

 

Where can I use BerryCart?

You can find products offered in BerryCart in over 25,000 locations including Whole FoodsSproutsWalmartTarget, and Mother’s Market just to name a few.

What kind of products are on BerryCart?

At BerryCart, we work hard find only the best healthy products out there. We specifically look for food and beverage products that are either All-Natural, Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, or Vegetarian to name a few. On BerryCart you will NOT see products on BerryCart that have High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Sweeteners, or chemicals that you can clean your floor with.

How do I get paid?

After you complete a few actions and the associated proof of purchase, you can cash out your rewards by transfer your cash reward to your PayPal account or buy purchasing select gift card available on the app.

Click here to get started! >>

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Aug 4, 2014

Price-Matching At Walmart – New Savings Catcher Program!

Aug
4
2014
Monday

Price Match At Walmart



Price-matching at Walmart is already pretty easy, all you have to do is let the cashier at the register know that a certain item is a lower price at another local store, and they will match that lower price right there at the register.

But what about the items that you might miss?

Walmart rolled out a new program today, August 4, that allows you to put in your receipt after you get home and compare the prices on your receipt to all of the ads from other stores in your area.

If any of the ads have a lower price for an item that’s on your receipt, then Walmart will give you a Walmart eGift card for the difference!

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Enter or scan your receipt with the Walmart App or on the Savings Catcher Website here.

Step 1 Walmart Savings Catcher

Step 2: The Savings Catcher program compares the prices on your receipt with the prices in your local competitor’s ads.

Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 11.35.58 AM

Step 3:  Get the difference on a Walmart eGift card!

Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 11.36.08 AM

There are lots of frequently asked questions on the Savings Catcher FAQ page, so be sure to read through that as well.

For those of you who still like price-matching right at the register, you can see the entire store ads for almost every store across the country on our store coupon match-ups page!

And if you want to see what the best deals at Walmart are this week, then make your shopping list on our Walmart Coupon Match-ups page.

Price Matching at Walmart

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Aug 1, 2014

What’s On Sale In August?

Aug
1
2014
Friday

Find out what items will at their rock bottom prices during the month of August!!




In addition to the regular sale cycles of everyday items, there are a few items that go majorly on sale during certain months of the year.

Here’s what’s likely going to be at SUPER low prices this month :

Back To School Items:

And here is a list of produce that is in season this month…so watch for low prices on these too ;)

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon




To see the full list of what’s on sale throughout the year, plus an explanation of how sales cycles work, check out my post on Grocery Store Sales Cycles!

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."