Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mamas Saving Money

Each family, whether it's 2 people or 10 people, struggles with money or can benefit from saving money. Today the Mamas are going to discuss their favorite ways to save money while shopping. They'll each focus on a different option so hopefully you and your family will get something useful from this post. At the end we'll ask you to add your own ideas since we all appreciate saving money!

Photo from "Shopping Bags" by ddpavumba

Same old, same old. Another week, another 150 spent on just groceries. After getting tired of spending that much in a week at the grocery store, I decided to do some research. 'Coupons!' I thought! I could totally coupon! 5 minutes into it, my adult ADD kicked in and I wasn't finding what I was looking for, got fed up, and then stared out the windows at squirrels. Then I hit up the all mighty Pinterest. I read an amazing article and followed the advice. Each week, I've budgeted $100 for our weekly groceries. $80 is spent on our weekly items (lunches, dinners, fresh veggies/fruits), while $20 is spent on stock-pile items (canned beans, tuna, rice, laundry detergent). Eventually, I will be spending 50/50 on weekly items and stock pile items! 

My favorite way to save is by using rewards programs. I'm going to write about 2 that I use often because they're the two places I shop the most: Target and Walgreens. We use these the most because they're convenient - Walgreens is right up the street for that quick stop for "Oh crap we need milk TONIGHT."

Target has two specific ways to save - their Red Card and Cartwheel. The Red Card has two options: 1) you can get a Target specific credit card, or 2) you can get a Red Card that debits directly from your checking account. Both have similar benefits - free shipping on and 5% off your total purchase (when you use the card). I have the debit card because I try to stay away from credit cards (and could you imagine me with a Tar-get credit card? Bad news bears...). Cartwheel is an app. I use my iPhone for it but I believe there are Android versions as well. Cartwheel lists all the things that are on sale that week (so good bye circular - save paper too, sweet!). But here's the awesome thing: it has % off of some things that aren't listed in any circular or online. So if you use Cartwheel, here's the best thing to do: use the scanner portion of it to scan every item as you put it in your cart. It will tell you if there's a %off. You add that "coupon" to your Cartwheel and then there's a QR code that the person at the register scans to take all your %s off when you're done. The only downside to Cartwheel is it has a specified number of slots - you can only take so many deals for one QR code. Obviously you could do a separate transaction if you had more than the number of slots you had on Cartwheel...The %s off are like 5%, 10% - I have seen some Christmas deals of 40% or more though so be sure to look through Cartwheel and see what savings there are. You can view all the coupons to see if there's something that you might need (like paper towels) next week that's on sale this week as well. Using the Red Card and Cartwheel I have saved over $500 this year according to my latest receipt.

What about Walgreens? Their rewards program has two great parts. One, you get points on your card for certain things that are healthy (or that are on sale that week - you'll see signs that say, "Buy 2 and get 1,000 points" or something like that). When your points get high enough, you get a cash back/cash off of a purchase (in $5, $10, and $15 increments). You get points for prescriptions as well if you use Walgreens for your prescriptions. They also have random times during the year (like right now) when they give you a voucher for $5 off your next purchase (or higher, depending on how much you spend) when you use your card. When you have to shop conveniently, everything helps.

I am a crazy coupon lady, I admit it. I try to stretch our military budget as far as I can. We are fond of saying that we live like paupers during the year so we can live like kings come summer. That's usually where our money-saved goes to: vacations. Sometimes birthday parties, but almost always on vacations. Disney here we come!!

I hit up all our local newspapers, penny savers included, ask our neighbors for their name it. Another thing I like to do, is to request on Freecycle any unwanted coupons from our community. I usually snap up quite a bit that way, recently I was able to grab some Gymbucks from Gymboree so I could grab the girls some pjs. They grow like weeds.

In addition to all that, I usually hit up BJs/Costco once a month and use their in-house coupons and where allowed, I use manufacturers coupons (BJs allows this). Mainly, this run is more for dish detergent, soda, garbage bags....things that won't spoil in bulk and if enough coupons are clipped, can be gotten for really cheap. 

No real method to the madness, just discipline. If you see a coupon, clip it and use it!! Every coupon that goes unused is basically money thrown away. Let's face it...we all need extra money!! ;) 

What about you, what do you do to save money? We appreciate our readers and their comments!

Photo "Shopping Bags" by ddpavumba from