This month, my focus has been not only saving money but specifically using up items in our pantry and freezers. Our stockpile runs over and I am starting to find some food that I know would not get used if I don’t force the issue or I had completely forgotten we have. It sounds strange to say that I am trying to use food we have on hand in addition to freezing items from our garden but this is definitely the case. I have a menu plan in place until the first Thursday of September. This has a lot of wiggle room as I don’t plan until the week of for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We are starting to run low or completely out of some items that need to be replaced. I am trying to buy only what we are out of. After my purchased today, I am hopeful that we can avoid shopping all together till at least Mid August for even the basics. Today, I specifically used “free money” to purchase most of the items. I did end of spending a total of $3.50 between CVS and Walmart.
CVS will occasionally send me a survey to complete with the promise of 10 ECB. I was able to complete one of these surveys for the first time in at least six months last week. I checked the sales last week and decide to wait for a better sale. The better sale occurred this week. Today, I picked up: 2-24 packs of water, 2 small tins of Altoids, a can of hair spray, a can of mouse, Irish Spring body wash and Dial hand soap. My total out of pocket was $3.33 with $4.50 in ECB back. Because the reward was in ECB it does not cover tax so $.43 was actually sales tax. The only “need” on this list was for the waters and body wash.
I earned a $25 Walmart gift card by submitting my driving record on line. Matt used most of this card last week to purchase items that Lily needed to pack for her missions trip. I started the trip with $8.34 left on the card. Last night we discovered that we were completely out of several items, mayonnaise, Worchester sauce and cream cheese. I did a little bit of research and discovered that I could also purchase a large box of cereal for less than $1.50. I needed to add $1.08 to my gift card in order to purchase all four items however I claimed $1.00 worth of rebates from Ibotta.
I am very excited and proud to be able to purchase the needed item for less than $4.
I should actually title this post making money on Saturday but let me tell you the story to back up the facts first. This week, Lily made a sweet potato pie and used up the rest of our nutmeg. We also are running low on hand soap for the bathrooms. My original plan was to place an order through Target and use a gift card that I had from MPlaces. Target has changed their rules so that I was not able to get nutmeg shipped to me without a $25 purchase. We also needed some vegetables for a salad. So I decided to head to Walmart. I had $20 in giftcards from Cricket for there. First I checked Southern savers to see if there were any really good deals at Walmart, yes indeed there were. I ended up finding a lot of good deals including free cereal. I checked the list of deals for Walmart and printed out the list that matched coupons I had. I ended up with 10 coupons to use. I also checked IBOTTA for the deals that she had listed on the site.
At the store, I did not fine one of item on my list and a second items was $1 more than expected so I did not purchase it as well. I also grabbed nutmeg, without a coupon in addition to a watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and carrots. My total started at $46.36 before coupons and dropped to $38.61 after coupons. While in the store, Lily and Kendall enjoyed doing Shopkicks. I was able to cash out for an additional $5 gift card on Shopkicks in the store. I used $25 in gift cards, this brought my cash total down to $14.74. I came home and scanned my receipt in IBOTTA where I received back $8.50 in rebates in addition to $5 for a special promotion by cashing in one receipt this month. I don’t often use IBOTTA because I only purchase items we need and rarely find things on their list. In fact the last time I scanned a receipt was January of this year. You are only allowed to cash out IBOTTA for amount greater than $20. I had $11 sitting in the account starting last August so with my additional money today, I moved $24.50 to paypal. As soon as the money arrived in paypal, I transferred to my bank account. This entire process from start to finish took less than 10 minutes.
Final math: $24.50(rebate) – $14.76(cash)= $9.74 profit in addition to the $45 worth of groceries!
We have been very fortunate this week to find and be given some great items. Since I have not done a post with bullet points in a long time this is a fun way to be random.
- Food Lion had a sale on “Suddenly Salad” $1 each. We discovered last year that we could add chicken, cucumbers and or tomatoes to make a great lunch or pepperoni and tomatoes for a very different but just as good lunch. I grabbed 10 with plans to use weekly this summer.
- Purchased tomato plants from a local nursery for 50 cent a plant.
- Found a couple of blueberry bushes on clearance at Walmart for $3 and onion starters for $2. We planted the blueberries and placed the onions under our house in storage for next spring.
- Use a $2 off coupon to purchase “Got2b ” hair spiking glue for $0.87 cent. I went to a CVS in High Point and the cashier tried to make me feel bad for using coupons. Didn’t work but seriously just scan coupons I promise they will work. We also grabbed Easter Twizzlers for $1.50 a bag.
- Used gift cards earned from Swagbucks to purchase drinks for everyone at Starbucks.
- Matt has been enjoying his birthday freebies including a drink from Dunkin Donuts
- I used office depot rewards to purchase a pack of AAA batteries and a notebook. Spent zero out of pocket and earned another $14 in rewards to spend later.
- We have been given several bags of clothes recently so the only purchase has been swim suits for swim team.
What are your good finds?
One thing is for sure, I have been doing a lot of shopping this week. I thought I would share with you some of the reason/tips I am using to shop this week.
- Most coupons site, tell you that sale cycles are every six weeks. They are very direct in saying you need to buy only enough to last for that six week cycle. I disagree, my best example is the Quarter Back Sale at Food Lion. I have been shopping and loving this sale for at least six years with my first blogging about it here. Initially this sale ran in January and June, things have definitely changed with it only occurring once last year. So I am taking advantage of it. I made a list of all the items I remember purchasing in the past, checked to see if we had a year’s supply of and then made my shopping list. If the sale occurs again this year, I will only need to restock items that I am low on. For example I did not buy onion soup mix or taco seasoning this time because I have enough for at least a year. I did purchase 12 ketchups and 10 mustards. For this sale, I try to stock up for a year for most other sales, I plan to stock for 3 months at a time or stock depending on storage space. When we start to get low on items I start checking for sales and usually am able to grab the items before running completely out.
- ALWAYS scan your loyalty card and read the coupons when it is an option. This week, I received a BOGO coupon for any soda at Food Lion. The next trip I received a coupon for $1.00 off any Dole Salad. I checked the prices on salad and actually picked up a small bag for FREE. I did not need the salad and would not have purchased for free is always for me. CVS gives out different coupons to different customers but it still is nice to check out the deals. I was able to combine my coupons and a red machine coupon to purchase Easter candy.
- My final secret is simple sounds but probably the most important one. Have a basic idea of what things cost and if you find at or below that price grab up as many items as you have coupons for or as many as you can easily store. Here are my simple rules I always use:
- Less than a dollar usually is a great deal, except for toothpaste. This week I found 2L Diet Cokes for $0.79 this is an awesome deal, so far I have purchased 30 at this price but am out of room to store.
- I will only buy toothpaste when it is twenty five cents or less. Most of the time I grab the free stuff. I always make sure to grab free toothpaste even if it is the only item I get.
- Toilet paper should only be bought when it is less than 40 cent a roll. To figure this out simple divide the price of the package by the number of rolls. I don’t count double rolls in this because really I am not paying by the sheet!
- I check on SouthernSavers.com if it is listed on her site, I will consider buying just because it is at least 40% off.
This morning we were running really low on breakfast items, in fact we had no cereal, poptarts or grits. So a trip to Aldi was definitely in order. We attended an early service this morning so were able to breeze through the store and totally restock our breakfast supply. Total spent was $45.
The next stop was CVS. I was unsuccessful in grabbing the scrubbing bubbles deal from last week so I started with 12 ECB. I was able to purchase 2 18 double roll packs of Scott Bathroom tissue and 2 containers of mouthwash for $3.87 out of pocket or a 92% savings. I also received 9 ECB in return. I am really excited as this was an easy transaction with no glitches!
Total Grocery Spending for March $135
We have all heard that in order to get the best deal, you have to combine sales and coupons. I want to first say that this is not always the case but after that I am going to talk about an awesome deal that I got at Walmart.
First is that sales and coupons usually do save you money. However, you must be careful that you know your prices and that you check things out. We ran out of toilet paper last week since I could not find a decent deal on one of the couple of brands that we choose to use. I found a couple of $1.00 off coupons and headed to Walmart. The store of course was out of the product that I could use the coupon on. I decided to do some checking. I was able to find Scott’s Extra soft for thirty-three cents a roll. This is a great deal and the same price I normally pay with coupons and sale. Lesson learned check your prices!
Now to explain how I got paid to shop at Walmart. I cashed in my Mplaces for a $25 Walmart gift card. Since we are out of toilet paper, I decided to use it so as not to spend money from the budget. Our Walmart is in a shopping center, within 5 minutes of entering the area, Matt and I both completed our 25 daily check ins for Mplaces including a 100 point check in at Cricket. Next I have started using a new app called “Shop Kicks” I am sure this will be a slow money marker as I avoid shopping but I am going to scan items and complete only when I am shopping for other things so hopefully an extra $5 a month. I earned $2.50 with this trip so a really good start. With my $25 gift card I purchased 5 2 liter soda for the kids, 1 2 liter for me, 3 12 packs of Dr Pepper/ Diet Dr Pepper and 30 rolls of toilet paper. I ended up paying $2.71 after the gift card. Next I came home and submitted an offer on Swagbucks which gave me a $5 Walmart gift card back and 200 or $2 in swagbucks. So this trip was a $7 money making trip for me and we now have toilet paper for at least a month. The Swagbucks deal is purchase $10 in Diet Dr Pepper or Dr Pepper products in one trip and earn $5 E-gift card and 200 swagbucks. I am hopefully to make it back to Walmart and do this deal at least one additional if not two more time before the end of February. Are you going to join me?
My mother had me purchase a paper for her yesterday. Since our small town does not have a Sunday paper, sometimes coupon inserts are in the papers in the rank. Coupon inserts are not guaranteed so it truly is a hit or miss game. I felt like I hit the jackpot yesterday when her paper contain 3 inserts. They were of course the same three insert but at least there were three. I have a Sunday paper delivered to my house from the larger town that is 45 minutes away.
CVS has an awesome sale on Mitchum deodorant this week. It is on sale for $3.99 and there is a coupon for $2 in the inserts today. I scored BIG with finding four coupons in the inserts I have. The other sale that I was hoping for was Irish Spring Body Wash. They are currently on sale for $3.99 with a $1 off coupon in this weeks paper and 2ECB for each one purchased. I lucked out again and found 4 body wash coupons.
I split my purchases up into 3 transactions which looked like this:
#1 2 Irish Spring Body Wash- used 2 $1 of coupons and 3ECB from a previous purchase. Total spent $3.54 with 4 ECB received and a coupon for $2 off $6 purchase of body wash.
#2 2 Irish Spring Body Wash- used 2 $1 off coupons, coupon for $2 off $ and 4 ECB from first transaction. Total spent $.42
#3 4 Mitchum deodorants- used 4 $2 off each coupons and 4 ECB from previous transaction. Total spent $.84
Total spent : $4.80- which I placed on a gift card received from Swagbucks so in reality $0 out of pocket.
Total Saved $35 or 88%
Today was officially a snow day in NC, that definitely helped with the saving as our cheerleading competition was cancelled which at minimum saved us $30 in admission.
I mentioned that I am participating in a low spend challenge, I have budgeted $100 for groceries this month. I did spend $14 on Monday at CVS and my plan was to hold on to the rest until it was a need. The need and some wants found me on Thursday, I went to our local Aldi to grab some plastic wrap and realized that they will be closing next week for 6-8 weeks of construction. We decided to go ahead and grab some items that will be needed before March. We spent a total of $42. The need that came about today is for labelling tape, so another $5 on Amazon. My totals are now at $61 for the month which leaves an $39 for any need that may arise.
The second challenge is Eat from your pantry. This is actually a very easy and doable challenge as we have a pantry full in addition to several full freezers. We have actually have two full weekends at home, thanks to the snow, therefore I have been trying to stock up on some prepared foods that we really like and can use during the hectic weeks ahead. Last week in my menu plan, I share how we started this process. This weekend, I have already made a huge pot of chicken stew, which we ate for two meal before freezing the remainder for a quick dinner. This morning, Matt made a triple batch of pancakes and the plan is to make French toast in the morning. This should definitely help with breakfast in the next couple of weeks. I am planning to share our menu plan, once we decide on it for next week.
We have started working on making our now dinning room more functional. I am determined not to let this project take over either time wise or financially this year, so small steps. We mover our smallest refrigerator to the outside building, which allowed us to re-position the black refrigerator, removed the cabinets that we hung last year, and placed a shelf back over the black refrigerator for storage. During the process we had to paint the wall. I am proud to say that this was all completed without spending anything. Before sending the cabinets to the dump, we removed the hinges and handles which are going to be reused for the custom buffet I want to complete. I was able to earn a $50 gift card to Lowes last month and Matt grab a $25 one this month. These should allow us to place new electrically and build a “tower” for the internet and cable that comes into the house in this area. The current goal is to have this completed by the end of January with zero out of pocket. In an effort to make goals that are achievable this year, I am going to wait till then to look ahead at the next step.