During the month of October, I will be participating in the Write 31 Days hosted by Crystal Stine. My category is Food, Health & Wellness and my theme is "Into The Kitchen".
I don't think there is anyone among us who doesn't like to save money, especially when we see prices going up and the size of the container shrinking. I remember going shopping with my mom and regularly being able to get ground chuck on sale for 99¢ per pound and today the sale price is usually at least three times that.
So how do you save money and still put meals on the table every day? The short answer is know where, when and how to shop, but with our busy lives today that isn't always easy and sometimes impossible.
There are thousands of articles and numerous blogs devoted to practical money saving tips, deals and coupon match-ups and I will link to some of those at the end. But first I will outline some of my favorite money saving strategies.
Many grocery and drug stores have their own loyalty cards and related programs. Each store runs a weekly sales ad in either the Sunday or Wednesday newspapers, at least in my area. There are multiple ways to save money here. You can plan your meal to take advantage of what is on sale, then simply present your card and save.
Some stores will offer special savings in the form of store cash. This usually prints out on your receipt for use in your next transaction. At CVS, these are known as Extra Bucks and you find these deals listed in their sales flier. Pair these deals with coupons for additional savings.
Large department stores such as Target and Walmart have their own savings programs. Walmart has the Savings Catcher Program and participation is easy. Download the Walmart app to your phone or sign up online and that's all you need to get started. The way this program works is simple, Savings Catcher compares your purchases to the advertised prices of their competitors. If Walmart's price is higher, you get the difference back. Your cash back is saved with your account and you can request an e-gift card at any time (to be spent at Walmart, of course). Just scan your receipt after checkout and give it about three days to see if you're getting money back.
Target also has some unique ways to save money. First is their cartwheel app, which has now been combined with your Target account login. To save, just log into Target, open the cartwheel app and add products to your list. You will have a bar code with your items encoded. Just show the cashier your phone and she can scan the code. For example, you may add soda to your list at 25% off. Your $4 soda is now $3 all because you took a moment to use the cartwheel.
Another way to save at Target is to take advantage of their gift card promotions which are listed in their sales flier. You purchase certain items for a specific dollar amount or number of items, such as any three bags of cat food or buckets of cat litter of brand X (mix or match) and you get a $5 gift card. I have done a number of these promos, and again, the gift card is for Target only.
As always, if you use coupons with these programs and promotions, you increase your savings. Coupons can be found in your newspaper most Sundays, and on several internet sites as well. Great savings can be yours if you combine a high-value coupon with a sale such as buy one get one free. Example: I bought name brand chicken tenders on sale at buy one get one free and used a 75¢ coupon which the store doubled (did I mention there are stores that will double coupons?) and so each bag was about $2.75, which was less than half-price. Now that's my kind of savings!
Buy in Bulk
If you use a certain food or ingredient frequently, you may find that it is more cost effective to purchase it in larger quantities. For example, if you bake a lot you are probably buying a lot of flour, sugar, etc. If you have room in your pantry, consider purchasing these items in 25 or 50 pound bags.
Share a meal
Not every meal is eaten in the kitchen, and going out is expensive. Hubby and I frequently share a meal and it not only saves money, it saves calories, too. We get to enjoy satisfying meals that we wouldn't order because of the cost. Many entrees in your nicer restaurants carry a $20+ price tag, then you add drinks, appetizers and/or dessert. We don't eat like that and still pay upwards of $50-60 (after tax and tip) on a splurge. It's crazy! Needless to say, we do not do it very often.
Also, many restaurants offer such large portions that we can't possibly eat it all, and even if we could, we shouldn't. We usually share an appetizer and entree and skip dessert, and no one bats an eye. I think everyone is cost conscious these days, and sometimes our server will even offer a better way to order that is even cheaper. 😇
If you are overwhelmed and stressed out over finances and want to jump start your savings, here are some links that really helped me learn how to get the most out of my dollar.
Free Printable Coupons
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