Saving Money Simply

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Today, I wandered on down to the local grocery store to pick up food for the rest of the month. I ended up spending a grand total of $44.12 for enough food for two
people through the beginning of July.

I don’t think that’s too bad, right? We’ve easily spent twice that or more for the amount of food I carried home. If I had tried harder, I could have saved more. As it was, I didn’t put much effort into saving money this time.

Here’s what I do on a regular basis.

I love my coupons. A couple of years ago, we enrolled in a special program with our local news paper, where they send us a teaser sample of the paper, along with the Sunday ads on Saturday. Your local paper may have a similar program in place, but if it doesn’t, you can still get the same coupons when you buy an early Sunday edition on Saturday. You may also be able to find them online.

I try to go through the packet every week. The coupons also come with fliers for local stores, like Sears, Menard’s, Kohl’s and Target. If you go through the store fliers, write down items that are on sale, and then go through the manufacturer coupons, you can save on food, makeup, toiletries and a whole bunch of other things. I’d also suggest clipping coupons for things you know you’ll use, but aren’t on sale at that moment. They’re usually good for months at a time, and can come in handy while you’re at the store.

I’ve read that stores and companies go through sale and coupon cycles, so if you can figure those out, you can plan your trips more efficiently. I haven’t give that a try yet, so I don’t know how easy or hard it is.

Attempt number one with cooking summer squash. Success! Also, all of these ingredients were on sale. Awesomesauce.

Plan Meals and Watch for Deals
Cooking isn’t my thing. It never has been, and I doubt it ever will be, but I am getting better at it. When you have food sensitivities or allergies, the absolute best way to manage them is to cook your own meals.

Our store has peaches and chicken on special this week. So, I looked up a few recipes for both of those ingredients, made my list and off I went. I also had a coupon for hot dogs.

When I got to the store, I noticed their kielbasa was on sale, for less than those hot dogs would cost with the coupons. Hey, we both eat kielbasa, and it’s just as versatile as hot dogs are, so I went for that instead. We’ll be having a treat we wouldn’t have had otherwise, and saving a couple dollars to boot.

I’ll be cooking enough to keep us in leftovers for quite a while.

I also picked up a 5 pound bag of mixed fruit on special for $4.99, which my husband and I can snack on, and I can use a little for making a treat somewhere along the way. When I did the math, I paid a whopping 38 cents per piece of fruit.

Look at Junk Mail
Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of junk mail. Most of it is either credit card offers begging to be shredded and solicitations from charities trying to guilt you into donating. Once every week or so, though, local stores send packets advertising sales or including coupons.

Some of them are pretty great, like the $10 off ones in the picture at the beginning of this entry. If you’ll be going there anyway, why not take advantage of it?

While we’re on the topic of looking at things we’d otherwise throw away, take a peek at the back of your receipt.

Some stores partner with others to advertise savings as a way to get you in the door. As you can see, they’re pretty diverse. It’s worth a look, at least.

Membership Cards
Many stores offer membership cards, or credit/debit cards. Grocery and other stores also offer rewards. Our local store, for example, lets you load coupons directly onto your card and also lets you accumulate points towards savings on gas at certain stations.

Target in particular has a great program in place. You’ll save 5% on every purchase, on top of promotions and coupons they already honor when you use their debit or credit card.

Lastly, always check out free apps for your phone. I’ve recently discovered Cartwheel over at Target, and have been using it to save money on toiletries, clothes and food. I need all of those things, so why not combine that with the other savings they have?

Our local grocery store also has an app which allows you to load those coupons onto your card. Some coupons are online only, as well, so they offer a few extra savings there, as well.

A non-store related app I’ve found handy is Snap, from Groupon. It works by purchasing items from their list of deals and scanning your receipt. Once you get to $20, you can request a check. Sometimes, you can redeem things like bread, veggies or other things that aren’t brand specific.

The newest app I’ve been trying is called Shopkick. This one works on a points system and can redeem a variety of different rewards, including gift cards. It’s easy to get those points, too. When you walk into the featured stores, open the app and get the points. You can also get them just by scanning certain items. Within the first week, I was eligible for a gift card, but I’m working my way up to something with higher value.

When you put all of these things together, you can live a healthy lifestyle and while saving yourself a little money in the process.

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