Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Top Three (or Four) Stores

Shortly after my husband and I got married, we attended a 12-week financial class called "Financial Peace University" that met once a week. We can't tell enough people how much this helped us get started out on a more stable foot financially as we also started the adventure of marriage. While both of us had handled our own finances prior to marriage, this helped us start looking at our finances together as a team, and create a realistic budget to start living on (which gets revised several times a year!). One of the choices we personally made was to pay cash for our everyday expenses like groceries, household items, clothes, etc... It's a lot harder to fork over cash than it is to swipe a credit card! This also helps me at a quick glance see how we're doing on our month's allowance for stuff!

To make our grocery budget stretch as far as it could, I went to multiple grocery stores/supercenters to get my weekly or monthly items. It was an all-day ordeal several times a month, but it kept us living within our grocery budget. I was excited when a Wal-Mart Supercenter opened up near us, because I was able to find food items I had grown up with (I live 1300 miles from my hometown currently) that I had been using substitutes for, or had to live without. Silly, I know. As a motivation to get great deals, whatever cash I had left in our grocery budget at the end of the month went towards our travel/date money. Yay! But when I got pregnant last year, my energy levels sagged, and I resorted to primarily going to Walmart and skipping a few of my other favorite haunts. But we still stayed within our budget.

Once our son came in January, I neither had the time or energy to do grocery shopping! The last six months has been a journey of getting back to eating more meals made from scratch, meal planning so I grocery shop with a purpose, and seeing where our budget can stretch. I mentioned before we hit a point this summer where something had to give, because we were continually going over in the grocery category.

Implementing what I have been learning about coupons and bargain shopping, I now shop at two stores regularly, and two stores occasionally. Despite having a ton of houseguests this summer, we have stayed within our grocery budget the last two months! And primarily eaten good, healthy meals. So here are my stores, and why I shop at them... (and one day, these blogs WILL get shorter, I promise!)

1. WAL-MART SUPERCENTER: Wal-Mart has great prices on almost everything, a wide variety of products, as well as consistently stocking the same products (some bargain stores carry a varying stock from week to week, which makes grocery and household shopping a challenge some days!). This is also an great place to start bargain shopping, because they offer a price-match policy on everything they carry. This is super easy to take advantage of because all you have to do is stuff the ad in your purse as you walk out the door! No clipping, no printing... Here are the rules for price-matching (I tried finding it on the walmart website but can't right now... maybe later!)
  • Current ad from a LOCAL store/company.
  • Not an internet offer.
  • Not an offer for "card" or "reward" members only (if the price requires using a members card at the store)
  • Not a percentage off of a product.
  • Buy 1/Get 1 only if original price of item is also listed in the ad.
  • You have to buy the exact number to get the deal (ex. 4 for $5, you have to buy all four...
I primarily use this on groceries, especially produce, ice cream, pizzas, etc...

2. TARGET: This is the funny one. Before using coupons, I rarely shopped at Target because I could not get good deals on a consistent basis. Great clearance prices once they get low enough, but not enough good sales. Their sales ususally just bring it down to Wal-Mart prices. However, I discovered that they actually have printable Target coupons ONLINE that you can use in store, and to make this better, you can stack them with manufacturer coupons! They have coupons for groceries, household supplies,kids' toys, adult apparel, pet food... the list goes on. You can print Target Online Coupons and match with a manufacturer coupon as stated in Target's Coupon Policy. This week I got a pair of sandals for $.24 with a $3/1 Merona shoes coupon, 4 SoBe drinks for $1, 10 free Post-It notes blocks, 4 packs of free BIC pens (which I donated to the youth ministry at church), 4 cans of Ravioli for free... You see how this adds up quick!

3. GIANT EAGLE: This is a local grocery chain store, and reminds me of other higher end grocery stores like Krogers, Jewel Osco, etc... that carries the widest selection of products of anywhere around, but their prices are also the highest anywhere around. I almost never went to Giant Eagle unless I had to, because even with a sale, I would spend more! Once again, I learned something new this summer. Giant Eagle doubles coupons up to $.99, so if you match with a great sale, you can get really cheap stuff! Two weeks ago I got 3 packs of Taco Bell taco seasoning for free, because I had a $.75/3 coupon. I also got Yoplait yogurt for $.12 a container, and Mission Tortillas for $.75 a pack. I don't go here regularly, but watch the weekly ads for their specials, and then grab my coupons for a quick run! A few weeks ago my purchase was ringing up in the negative with how much the coupons took off, so the lady had me grab a candy bar to bring it back into the positive!

4. ALDI's: I did not have this store where I grew up, but I quickly grew to love it! This is a smaller grocery store that carries primarily all generic of basic foods. I go here every 4-6 weeks to restock on essentials. Things like canned goods, salsa, boxed goods, etc... are radically cheaper here, even compared to Wal-Mart. So I stock up on chicken broth, cake mixes, canned corn, green beans, black beans, etc... for $.20-$.60 cheaper per item than anywhere else. When you're buying several weeks worth of basics, this adds up to a lot saved!

Ok, those are my four stores. How about you? Where do you find great deals?

No comments:

Post a Comment