Category Archives: shopping

Lets share about deals and steals to make our money stretch farther.

STOCK UP HAM

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Easter is the only time of year i buy ham. I am not talking about Jennie-O Turkey ham, but 100% full flavor pork. Right now Safeway has whole hams for only $.99 a pound. But who eats a whole ham? Not this family I promise you. I just hand it over to the in-store butcher and have him slice it into quarters. Yes that is still more that we go through in 1 dinner but I plan leftovers. Generally I will get at least 2 meals from each quarter and sometimes up to 4. So 1 whole ham produces 10 meals. That averages out to $1.80 a meal for the ham.

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There are lots of ways to freeze food but I prefer to wrap my hams. First i do 3 layers of Serane and then butcher paper. I pick up butcher paper from the local butcher in town where people get their beef cut and wrapped. An end roll cost me $10 3 years ago and there is still plenty left. And the kids use it all the time.

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This stuff is wider than anything in the store and if the professionals use it, I will too. Always label your meat and date it so you know what it is and when you purchased it. Happy EASTER everyone!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

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This time of year is when I buy my corn beef. It freezes well and the price can’t be beat. Some have definite preferences over flat versus point cut. The point tends to be cheaper and fattier. Easter is in March this year so I will be buying Ham pretty soon. I always stock up around holidays with those items that are on sale.

Use Your Smart Phone Shopping

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As smart phones become more common, companies are finding more ways for you to use them. The current rage for applications is for companies to not only advertise, but offer special deals to bring customers into the store. As the phone is a small computer, you know that it has limited memory and you need to be cautious before downloading just any old app. Even if it come recommended by a friend, always read the most recent reviews as sometimes update intended to fix a small issue or provide more service, end up causing major problem with the entire program.

My phone is an android but the app store has a lot of offerings for the iPhone as well.

Target has several options for your phone. You can select to receive daily deals, coupons and check the balance of your Red Card.

Safeway recently introduced an application that is receiving mixed reviews right now. While is has an overall high rating, the same complaint keeps appearing. I suggest keeping an eye on this app to see if the company continues to improve it.

The Coupons is an app that provides deals from a large variety of places. However, many are also available in their ads or if you sign up for their emails. I have yet to find a local deal for my small town, but can use many of the codes online.

Living Social has an app, but you can also request deals be emailed to you so you can access them via our phone without downloading the app. This is most beneficial if you live in a larger city.

If you use a lot of loyalty cards, this app is for you. Key Ring allows you to scan them into your phone so you can remove them from your key chain. The big issue is if your particular store has the ability to scan from your phone. I recommend keeping all the cards in a drawer till you know if they are accepted and in case you replace your phone, you still have access to them if needed.

If you have ever seen those funny boxes in ads or on store displays asking you to scan them, they are called QR Barcodes. Sometimes they have recipes or advice, and sometimes they are coupons.

You need to download an app that will allow the camera on the phone to scan it. Once you have scanned the code you will have access to the coupons it enables.

Warriors has one that gets mixed reviews. It seemed to me that most complaints were regarding the Galaxy and since that is what I have, I did not download it. All other phone users seemed to be quite happy with the app.

QR Droid has the best overall reviews at this time.

Starbucks has their own application that allows you to put in your card as well as track your stars. It also helps you to find a local store. The big plus is that your cards are already in the system if you use the online feature.

There is also My Coffee Card which has the added feature of a notepad. I like using this if I am taking orders, it allows me to keep it all in one place and for people I buy for frequently (who have complicated drinks) I saved the order. The FREE version only allows you to store a single card is the biggest drawback. To store more you must upgrade. Both apps help you find local stores.

If you know of some other great shopping apps for either the iPhone or Android, please share.

Watch for those Coupons

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I am often asked “Where do you get all your coupons?” Of course, I find them in a variety of places. One that can easily be overlooked is in the packaging of an item you have already purchased. Companies will place coupons there because they know you are already a current customer and they want to reward for and encourage you to purchase more. It is far cheaper to keep an existing customer then to find new ones. An additional bonus is that these coupons will last for much longer than the ones you clip from your local newspaper. Frequently companies will say something on the outside of the package about their being a coupon inside, but not always. Be careful when opening boxes and pouring out contents, you just might miss a really good deal.

Last week I was at Safeway and saw there were packages of Jello Pudding cups on clearance. I don’t typically buy them so Boo was quite excited to see them going into the cart. Each package was regularly $3.49 and was marked down 50%, making them $1.75 each. Take off the .60 coupon and I paid $1.25 each for a total of $3.75 out of pocket.

When I opened the package at home inside was another coupon for .75 off, good until the end of the year.

In addition, at the register I received a coupon for $2 off my next shopping trip, good on almost anything.

You will find some companies do this more than others, but the idea is to always be careful when ripping open a package and to do a quick check before throwing it in the recycle bin. What coupons have you recently found in your packaging?

Starting Your Back to School Shopping

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It is only the middle of July and I cannot believe I am thinking of school. I still have to pick Boo up from summer camp, plus we have fair and camping still to go before the school year starts. Yet, that is exactly why I start shopping early. I just won’t have time the 3 weeks before school to get much done.

Many stores are already starting their big sales for the year. The question becomes what do you buy and how much of it? My district does offer the classroom lists but to be quite honest, I have not picked one up in years. I found that I was purchasing items that my kids never used. And some teachers were just too darn picky IMO. If I go to buy a notebook and they don’t have green I don’t worry about it. After 15 years I have a pretty good idea of what to buy and I stick to that list and purchase extra of the supplies that need replacing over the year such as pencils and stick glue. I also buy items that go on the craft shelf, such as white school glue.

STAPLES has weekly sales, some of which are rock bottom prices. Keep in mind, that to get the items for only pennies, you need to spend a minimum of $5! This is a good time to purchase items you know you need anyways such as printer ink or reams of paper. This year you can also invest in a discount card for $10 that offers 15% off all purchases. This year it includes sale items and backpacks. It is only worth it is you are going to save more than $10! Today I spent $5.44, saving 80% off the regular price.

TARGET often has great deals and if you have been able to stock up on the gift cards from purchasing specific items, you basically are getting items for free.

WAL MART does not always have its weekly ad online. There should be copies in the store, but at my local store I cannot always count on that. They don’t do a lot of dramatic price reductions, so when the store does have extremely low prices I take advantage of it. For example, today I purchased spiral notebooks for $.17 each and the folders were $.15 apiece, for a grand total of $2.48. I brought home enough to last the year. I never know how many teachers will require them so I make sure to have extra. They all get used eventually. As my kids have moved up to middle and high school, they mainly use binders, so I have a few folders on hand only for specific projects.

To keep them in good condition , I store notebooks and folders in the file cabinet.

All the smaller items go into an old Schwan’s ice cream tin which is kept on top of the filing cabinet. The kids all know that when they need more of something they can just go grab it. Ultimately it only matters that you keep ALL your school supplies in 1 place so that you can easily find them when you are ready for the first day of school.

An important item is the school backpack. I have seen far too many Wal Mart bags that simply don’t last half the school year, I wont’ buy them ever again. It is the one item I am willing to invest in. Boo used the Jan Sport bag from Preschool through 4th grade. It did not need to be replaced, she just wanted a new bag. We have always been happy with Lands End as well as LL Bean. All 3 companies have excellent warranties and customer service.

Lands End is offering $20 off a $75 purchase through Monday, July 16th. Also if you use the promos code Code JULY and PIN 5230 you can receive free shipping on orders over $50.

What are the items that you usually include in your back to school shopping? If you find some good deals, please share with the rest of us. Each week I will update what I find and where so be sure to come back.