Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My 5 Favorite Stores to Shop to Reduce Grocery Spending

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

It's Wednesday so it's time to link up with Five Faves over at The Big White Farmhouse.

Does it matter where you shop for groceries?   I believe it does!  Here are my five favorite places to shop for groceries on a budget.

1.  Local scratch and dent / surplus / salvage / closeout  stores.   There are some chains in parts of the country (Sharp Shopper in Virginia, for instance -- the chains often have higher prices than a local store).  This is my FAVORITE place to shop on a budget, but you often really have to watch best by dates.  There's a grocery closeout store run by the Amish near where I live, and sometimes you can find great deals, and other times, stuff is really past dated.  I buy what I can there and fill in around the edges.  There is very limited produce here, sometimes only tomatoes if that.  They don't accept coupons of any type, but the prices are fantastic.  Sometimes as low as 50 cents for a can of Progresso Soup or $1 for a box of cereal.  A problem with shopping here is they will get new stuff on a daily basis, and once stuff is sold it's sold.  It's tempting to buy a lot of one item, and then not get around to using it all before it goes bad.  That is NOT a savings.

2.  Aldi.  I think everyone has heard of the place you have to "rent" a cart (you put 25 cents in for a cart and then get it back when you return it.)  You have to bring your own bags here, but the prices are good.  There's a better overall selection than a scratch and dent store, but you won't find tons of brand names, nor will you find lots of varieties of any one item.  If you have a more specialized diet, it might be difficult to shop here.  (My mother had to have a low sodium, low potassium diet and I had a difficult time finding things at some stores she could eat, and Aldi would be one.)  But I love their produce section!  (Do not confuse Aldi with Save-A-Lot.  I often see prices higher at Save-a-lot than at Walmart, and I think the quality is lower.)  Aldi is the store to go to!

3.  Kroger!  Of "traditional" grocery stores this is my favorite.  They readily accept coupons, they have great offers with their Kroger card (be sure and utilize digital coupons!)  You can set your Kroger card up to give back to charity (why not, it only takes a couple minutes and you're set up forever, and help out a school or community organization.  I donated almost $6 without even thinking about it last quarter.  I have mine set up to go to an extremely rural school in West Virginia that has only 140 students), Ibotta savings,  Savingstar, fuel perks, and a credit card that offers extra cash back when shopping at a grocery store, and it's easy to see why Kroger is my favorite traditional grocery store.  (In one recent shopping trip, I spent $128.15, saved $206.27, and got $1 back with Ibotta, and $9.26 back with SavingStar)
.  I figure they can use the money.)  Kroger has free Friday downloads where you can get one free item a week through their digital coupons, and a few times a year they have stock up sales where you might get $10 off for buying 10 participating products.  Combine that with coupons,

4.  Walmart.   I'm not a huge fan of Wal-mart, but there are a few things that I can't get at the above places.  For instance, the only place I can find Jimmy Dean turkey breakfast sausage is Walmart.  I also live an hour from my closest Kroger, so I only get there once or twice a month.  I also use the Walmart Savings Catcher.  Because of my rural area, there are few stores it compares on my receipt, but it only takes a second.  If I live in a more populated area I'm sure I'd get more money back from it, but the only stores it compares for lower priced items for me are drugstores, and dollar stores.  My Walmarts are very bad about accepting coupons, and the coupon policy changes depending on what cashier you get and what manager is on duty.  I've been told that I can't use totally free item coupons, more than one like coupon (say I'm buying two boxes of Cheerios, I couldn't use two coupons, but would be limited to one.) and more stuff that goes against the corporate coupon policy.   I used to carry a copy of the coupon policy with me, but the cashier, CSM or manager would would make up a story about how that wasn't THEIR policy.  Yet, unless I want to travel for an hour each way, this is where I have to pick up some stuff.

5.  Amazon.  Yes really!  You have to watch prices on items, especially food items, but this is often the cheapest place to get household items and health and beauty aids.  I have been able to find things on Amazon that were impossible for me to find in stores (remember the low sodium diet I mentioned my mother was on?  I found a number of no salt added items on Amazon I couldn't find at Wal-mart or Kroger.)  Amazon is my go-to for trash bags, dishwasher tablets, facial wash, and more.  Years ago I switched to using Swagbucks as my search engine and have earned hundreds of dollars of Amazon certificates for doing what I normally would be doing online.  In fact, I have one I can cash in right now, but haven't yet.  When you use the certificates you earn from your everyday web searches, you can save even more on your order.  Having Amazon Prime has a whole host of benefits, and it seems like these days people focus on the streaming video and forget that there is free two day shipping for prime members no matter the size of your order.  They also have a Prime Pantry grocery area, which I think is more expensive than shopping the regular site, but if you have enough Amazon cards you earned for free, it is another way you can save.

Your milage may vary depending on what stores are in your area, but for me, these are my go-to stores!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January adoption update

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

I can't believe it's late January already.  Winter has finally hit (and boy did it!  Over three feet of snow.)

I won a bed last year, and even though the window in that room is busted out and boarded up, I decided it was time we move to that bed.  On windy nights, the boards rattle in the window, and there's a cool breeze into the room.  But the bed is comfortable.  The most comfortable bed I have ever owned.  (Of course I have slept on the floor a number of years, too, as to give my mother a good bed when hers was no longer useable.  I've gotten used to sleeping on such hard surfaces I didn't know if I would like this bed or not but I love it.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Five Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

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It's time for another Five Favs hosted by Ashely over at The Big White Farmhouse.  I wanted to take a look back at the five favorite posts I wrote in 2015 and make sure everyone had a chance to read them.  Sometimes my favorite posts are not my most popular ones, and I just wanted to highlight these from the past year.

Monday, January 18, 2016

How to Create Your own Topical Study Bible

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains referral links.

When I was in college, I bought myself a very average, very plain, King James Version Bible.  My friends, after some time, thought it was a Rainbow Study Bible.  To be honest, I had considered that Bible before purchasing my plain one, but there were topics that didn't interest me, and others that did.  So I decided to DIY my own study Bible.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Passion Salvation's Tide is Rising Review and Giveaway

FTC disclaimer:  I received a digital copy of this album for review.  All opinions are my own.

I remember when the Passion movement started.  A friend was able to be at one of the first events, and I was so jealous.  I was still in college, and it seems like a lifetime ago.  Passion is still putting on Christian events for college students, and they have almost become synonymous with fantastic praise and worship music which is then often embraced by churches.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Vacation Spots: Wednesday's Five Favs!

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I love to travel.  I didn't realize until I was in 4th grade that international travel was possible for an average person.  My teacher that year had taught for a year in Australia, and he literally opened up the world to me.  I had loved reading books about foreign countries, listening to records to hear what foreign languages sounded like, and instead of posters on my wall growing up, I bought National Geographics at a used book store for the maps inside.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chonda Pierce Still Laughing after All These Tears DVD Set Review

FTC disclaimer:   I received a DVD set from Family Christian for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.  This post does contain affiliate links.

When I had the opportunity to review an EIGHT DVD set of Chonda Pierce called Still Laughing After All these Tears, I just had to say yes.  After all, I've never met her but she and I went to the same college (although she went years before I did) and we have mutual friends on Facebook.  So that must mean she is amazing, right?   (Either that or my friends just put up with me and they like her! ha ha!)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Snowed in? Apps to beat boredom!

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post as I am part of the U.S. Cellular blogger brigade.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Have you ever had your driveway cleaned out with a backhoe because there was too much snow for a plow?   Then did you wake the next morning and find an eight foot snow drift?   Well, if the answer is no, then you haven't lived in my town!  We joke that we have three seasons -- July, August, and winter.  So I know a thing or two about being stuck inside.  When I was in 6th grade we went to school only two days out of the month of January.  Back then there were no smart phones, if you asked someone what type of tablet they had, they would likely describe a composition book, and social media was the kid who went up and down the street arranging a big snowball fight -- but even those got old after so many days.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Five Favorite Books I read in 2015.

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It's that time again for Five Favorites.  And since it's the beginning of the year, I find it only fitting to talk about the five favorite books I read in 2015.

I usually read over 50 books, but last year was extremely busy and I had a wedding to plan, so I only read about half my normal number.  (A few years back I read about 100 books a year, but that was before I discovered Candy Crush.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Why Buying Gift Cards to Save For Christmas is a BAD Idea

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I have seen it mentioned on social media that you should buy a gift card each month to help with Christmas spending for next year.  This is NOT a good idea, no matter how many people think it is.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  You will be limited at what stores where you can do your shopping.  What if you find a great deal at Walmart but stocked up on Amazon gift cards?  You'll be out of luck.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Why you Should Set Goals Instead of Resolutions

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Tis the season to see tons of resolutions floating around the Internet.  Lose weight.  Read More.  Get out of Debt.  Come February, how many who wanted to lose weight will have given up and spend Super Bowl Sunday celebrating the day that ranks second of the year for calorie consumption.

What did you accomplish in 2015?  Did you fulfill your resolutions?  If you are like most people, probably not.