Summer Saving: Taking Advantage of SALES!! Part 2

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In my last post, I shared that I bought almost $700 worth of new clothes for just over $220.  And as promised, I will share my secrets to scoring these huge savings!  Get ready.  It’s amazing.  Jk.  but hopefully you will read something worthwhile.

1.   Shop at outlet malls.  There are various articles as to why outlet malls are scams (I’ll let you google those for yourself), but I personally have had great success shopping at outlets.  I love getting really cute, brand name clothes for literally a fraction of what I would pay in store.  The trick is knowing retail prices beforehand, and making sure you are paying less.  Because these stores are some of my favorites to shop at, I know what a pair of jeans, a dress, or knit top run at the retail stores (regardless of what the tag says, as some items are made specifically for the outlet stores).  I made sure that I got a bargain based on what the regular stores would sell the items for.

2.  Vow to never pay retail price.  Regardless of where you shop, make the decision to never pay the full retail price.  In my opinion, the non-sale price is usually wayyy overpriced anyway.  Anytime I walk into a store, I head straight to the clearance section.  I don’t even look at the stuff that’s not on sale, because eventually it will be, and I will get a deal on it then if I still need to buy something.  I literally can’t remember the last time I paid full price for anything.

3.  Know your personal price point.  I already mentioned to know what retail stores charge for apparel.  But it’s also important to know exactly how much you personally are willing to pay for an item.  For me, I will never pay more than $30 for a pair of jeans.  I determined this price based on what I have been able to find in stores, accounting for the fact that I have to purchase petites, and those are harder to find, especially on sale.  If I can find a pair of jeans at $30 or less, you can guarantee I will buy them!  *The ones pictured above were $25 each.

4.  When you find a good deal, stock up!  If you look at the picture above, you will notice I bought multiple colors/patterns of the same items.  For example, the two dresses (identical style, different pattern) retail for $50.  They were on sale for $24, plus an additional 50% off, so I paid $12 each.  I’m pretty sure I can’t get a dress at WALMART for $12, so I bought one in each pattern available.  Same goes for the jeans, cardigans, tshirts, and sweaters–soooo… everything I bought.  I literally got one of everything in the colors that I liked that were still available in my size.

5.  Buy neutral, casual clothes that you can spruce up.  Ok, I don’t have any scientific data to back me up here.  But in my experience, neutral, casual items tend to be less expensive than the super slinky, ruffly, fancy-designs clothes.  I always buy clothes with a simple pattern and usually in a tshirt material.  They are easy to make look fancier by adding the right accessories or dress slacks/skirts, but can also be worn for day-to-day activities.  An added bonus:  since the items are neutral, they can be worn lots of different ways, so your wardrobe options grow a lot!

Bonus!!  Don’t buy at the first store you walk into.  This was a great tip from my husband!  While shopping, compare prices at similar stores, and then go back to make a purchase, after you feel confident you are getting the best deal. When we were shopping, we walked into Ann Taylor first.  I knew going in that Ann Taylor was a little on the pricey side, but I do love their clothes, so we decided to go anyway.  I found 3 shirts there for a total of $40 on sale.  That was slightly more than I care to pay in general for knit tops ($13 including tax), but I thought they were really nice and bought them.  The very next store we walked into (New York & Co.) had similar clothes that were equally beautiful for about $7 apiece.   Had I waited to check out the comparable items at other stores, I probably wouldn’t have bought the Ann Taylor shirts.  I even asked my husband if I could go return the shirts from Ann Taylor, but he said I should keep them anyway, so I did 🙂

So using all of these tips (except for the bonus one that we learned afterward), I was able to find my new wardrobe for less than 1/3 of the retail price.  Hopefully if you need to shop soon, this list will help you do the same!

What are some of your tips to save money while shopping for clothes?  Comment below 🙂

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Summer Saving: Taking Advantage of SALES!! Part 1 (My STEALS)

Well, due to life circumstances, my “Summer Saving” series has been less than stellar.  But I thought I would end it here with what I believe is the best post of my life.  Well, that may be an exaggeration, but I am so excited about this that I don’t even care.

Let me preface by saying first that I really really do NOT like spending money on myself.  I always find myself justifying how every extra penny can and should go toward our debt payment.  And usually that’s what happens.

Now.

I’m about to be very humble right now by sharing the following information:

I’m still wearing maternity pants.

Yea.

My baby is 10 months old.  I’m still nursing him.  And I’m really not too far off from my pre-pregnancy weight.  (things I tell myself).  But I’m really not a fan of tight clothes or muffin tops, and when you have both of those things, it’s just not pretty.  So, my husband, being the awesome guy that he is, forced me to spend money on myself to get brand new clothes that make me look and feel good.  Thus, my desperately needed postpartum wardrobe.

Here’s a look at the items I got today.

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Cardigans

Patterned:  LOFT $7.79 (reg. $49.99)

Solid:  NY&C $14.99 each (reg. $39.95)

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More cardigans and light sweaters

Yellow:  NY&C $7.99 (reg. $26.95)

Green Stripes:  NY&C  $9.99 (reg. $39.95)

Blue Stripes:  NY&C $7.99 (reg. $32.95)

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Shirts

Blue Floral:  Ann Taylor $9.99 (reg. $29.99)

Grey:  Ann Taylor $12.49 (reg. $34.99)

Pink Floral:  Ann Taylor $14.99 (reg. $44.99)

Dark Beige:  LOFT $9.88 (reg. $29.99)

Sparkly Beige:  LOFT $3.59 (reg. $29.99)

Tank Top:  LOFT $14.99 (reg. $34.99)

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Dresses and pants

Dresses:  LOFT $11.99 each (reg. $49.99)

Jeans:  NY&C $24.97 each (reg. $49.95)

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My new wardrobe 🙂

Had I paid full price for everything, I would have spent $686.91 including tax.  However, I am a bargain shopper (we know this, right?) and I paid $220.39.  For those familiar with math (I don’t include myself in this category), that is LESS THAN 1/3 THE RETAIL PRICE.

In my next installment, I will share how I scored these deals (no, it didn’t include opening up credit cards to get a larger discount.  Although they definitely tried to tempt me), and what to look for when shopping for a new wardrobe so you can get awesome deals like this too 🙂

38 Reasons Why HEB is the Best Dang Grocery Store in the World

By now everyone knows of my love for HEB. And it’s clearly not just me. Thanks BuzzFeed for this gem 🙂

http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/h-e-butt?bffb&s=mobile

Today’s Grocery Run

To begin our celebration of summer (my husband Josh is a teacher, so summer is indeed a celebration), we are going on a mini-vacation/hunting trip.  This was sort of a last-minute decision, so we had very minimal funds in the budget to make this happen…  But Josh was determined that he would get us a hog, and I’m not one to discourage free bacon, so we made a way in our budget.

For the entire trip, including gas, we budgeted $150.  This is for a two and a half day stay at a friend’s ranch that is three hours away.  We are only providing one meal and our stay at the ranch will be worked off by my husband 😉

I needed to make a grocery run because we are providing breakfast on one of the days.  Also, I don’t believe in traveling with cloth diapers and frozen baby food (been there, done that, not doing it again), so I needed to pick up some of those things to make life simple.  Take a look at what I got for just $35!

vacation groceriesFrom left to right:

  • 4 loaves honey wheat bread at 67 cents per loaf (reg. $1.67)
  • Pillsbury cinnamon rolls $2 each (not on sale)
  • Sweet Home Farms granola $4.47
  • HEB Vanilla Greek Yogurt FREE with granola purchase (reg. $3.98)
  • Hill Country Fare 42-pack disposable diapers $4.98
  • HEB coffee $2.68
  • HEB digestive cookies FREE with coffee purchase (reg. $1.98)
  • HEB baby puffs $1.56 each
  • Gerber natural baby food $1.08 per 2-pack (not on sale)
  • 2.77 lbs bananas at 48 cents per pound
  • 1.5 lb bacon $8.78
  • HEB ready made sausage and biscuits FREE with bacon purchase (reg. $2.98)

With coupons and store-brand savings, I saved $19.82.  That means I got $55.51 worth of groceries for $35.69!!

Using $36 of our budget for groceries for the weekend means we still have $114 for gas and enjoying ourselves while we are gone.  Feeling pretty good about that.

 

The Price Book by Kansas City Mamas

This info about The Price Book by Kansas City Mamas is so awesome.  Kelly, the woman behind Kansas City Mamas, shares information about how to get the absolute lowest prices on your most purchased grocery items without clipping coupons.  This is so brilliant I can’t get over it.  I am starting this on our next budget!!

See the original post here.

How to create a price book

How I Save BIG at the Grocery Store Without Extreme Couponing

In case you didn’t know this about me, I love grocery shopping.  I am well aware that this is not normal (at least I don’t think it is…), but it’s true!  I especially love HEB.  For those of you that don’t live in Texas and have never been to an HEB, I’m sorry.  When you come to visit Texas, call me, and I will take you.

About my grocery parameters (for lack of a better term):

  • I go to the store twice a month (1st and 15th-ish).
  • I budget $100 per trip.  That equals about $10 per week for my son and $20 per person per week for my husband and me.
  • I only buy brand name items if a high-value coupon is attached.  Other wise it is all store-brand.
  • I never shop without a pre-planned list.
  • I always plan my groceries around store sales and coupons.

I think it’s important to make note that I am not a huge coupon-er.  I will search for coupons here and there, but most of my coupons come from the store itself.  I am not one of those very “enthusiastic” ladies who spends 14 hours clipping coupons, goes to 3 different stores, and then pays 18 cents for $200 of groceries.  I personally don’t want to dedicate the time to doing that and then also end up with 2,000 jars of mustard.

So here’s a quick look into my shopping trip today.

Coupon Deals

Each of these items had a coupon that involved purchasing a single item and getting another free.

The photo above includes my super awesome deals.  I’ll just do a quick run-down (left to right) of what each of these items were:

  • Buy 1lb of bacon ($7.98), get 4-pack of sausage and cheese Kolaches ($2.97) free.
  • Buy Family Size Stouffers meal ($9.67), get Steamable veggies ($1.92), loaf of garlic bread ($1.06), Nestle Tollhouse break & bake cookies ($2.50), and 64 oz Juicy Juice free ($2.38).
  • Buy Sweet Home granola ($4.47), get 32 oz Greek Yogurt free ($3.98).
  • Buy Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese ($7.08… It’s HUGE), get 1 lb of meatballs free ($2.97).
  • Buy 2 tubs of deli meat ($2.98 each), get all-natural cheese  slices ($1.99) free.

Produce

This was all the produce I needed to buy this week.  Our produce lasts us quite a while because we are super healthy like that.  Sale items:

  • 6 oz container of blackberries for 98 cents
  • *1 lb of red pairs for 98 cents
  • 5 lemons for $1

Non-sale items:

  • 1 lb white onion for 88 cents
  • *2 lb bag of carrots for 98 cents
  • *1 lb of green beans for $1.68
  • *1 lb of butternut squash for $1.14
  • *1 lb of bananas for 48 cents

*produce marked with an asterisk are items used to make baby food purees.

Staples

The rest of the items were regularly priced store-brand staples.  We always keep these in our fridge/pantry because we eat it a lot.

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • tortilla chips
  • flour tortillas
  • eggs
  • bread
  • ground sirloin
  • milk
  • cheese
  • pepperoni (we are pizza lovers)
  • granola bars
  • peanut butter
  • cereal
  • toaster pastries
  • coffee (I had a $1 off coupon)

Not pictured:  I couldn’t really fit our contact solution into a category of photos, and didn’t feel like it warranted a photo all on its own.  We buy a store brand 2-pack for $4.94 (brand name is $12 or more for 2; I really don’t know how HEB does that).

So that is my grocery trip for today.  Any guesses as to how much it cost…………….?

Before applying coupons, it was just over $120.  After?

…wait for it….

$99.81

Feeling pretty good about that.

What are some ways you save on groceries?  I am always looking for more money saving ideas!!

 

 

 

Why I Don’t Shop at Walmart (and Places of the Like)

In my last post I mentioned that I only allow myself one purchase at Target, which is a big box of baby wipes every 2 months or so. I mean this very seriously when I say I don’t shop (read: don’t let myself shop) at these kinds of stores. To illustrate my point, I will share a story of my most recent trip to Walmart.

The week after Easter I was getting ready to go to the grocery store. I wasn’t actually planning a trip to the store this week (I usually go every 2 weeks), but due to an unfortunate misuse of the calculator on my iPhone, I actually ended up $30 under budget for that week. This may seem like a “win” but Dave Ramsey always says, the goal isn’t to be under budget; the goal is to allocate all your funds so you have a zero-balance in the bank, and then and use those funds accordingly. Also, we didn’t have any food because we already have a small food budget & just stretch it as far as possible every shopping trip. Needless to say I had to return to the store the following week.

My plan was to go to my usual HEB (if you live in Texas, you know the amazingness that I am referring to); however because of the way my errands worked out that day, I ended up on the Walmart side of town, and against my better judgment, decided to go there. So, with a $30 budget and a list of only $30 worth of groceries, I unintelligently entered The Store.

The following is an absolutely true and accurate depiction of my visit to Walmart.

Don’t judge me.

Walk in, grab a cart. Pull out list. “Oh I wonder if they have a tinted window sticky for the back seat. I’ll go over there before I do the grocery side.” Walk toward baby section. Pass the Dr. Pepper 12-packs in the middle on sale for $3!!! “Sweet, they’re $3.98 at HEB. I’m getting two.” Throw it in the cart.

Continue to baby section. Go by way of Easter candy sale aisle. “OMG. If they have Cadbury mini eggs on sale, I’m getting them.” Scrounge the aisles for 10 minutes. Find 2-lb bag. “No price tag? I don’t care. I love these. Besides, they can’t be more than like… 2 bucks.” Stop and tell lady in the aisle how much I love Cadbury mini eggs. “Yes, I know my baby is absolutely precious, thank you.” Proceed to add chocolate to my cart.

Continue onto baby aisle. Find tinted window sticky. “It’s only 5 bucks for two! Awesome deal!” Throw it in the cart. “Maybe I’ll see if they have a transitional sippy cup for Baby J.” Don’t find it, which is probably an act of God trying to keep me on track. “Ok, I came here for groceries. Get back to business woman.”

Return to grocery side of store. Get all the things on the list. Get to the meat section. “A three pound bag of frozen chicken for $8 or a 6 pound bag of frozen chicken for $12? Duh, I’m getting more chicken for less!” Throw it in the cart.

Look for ground beef. Decide this is the time to try ground turkey. “Oh look at this, a three pound package of ground turkey for $8! That’s wayyy cheaper than ground beef!” Throw it in the cart.

Wrap around to produce section. Decide as long as I’m there, I’ll get some fruits and veggies to make a new batch of purees for the munchkin, even if what I have will still last me a week or so.

“Apples for $1.27/lb, I’ll take 6.”

“We’ve been out of green beans for a while. I’ll get a pound and a half.”

“Oh these pears look good! I bet that will help with Baby’s constipation too. I’ll get 8 because I’m not sure how many ounces of food these will make.”

At this point, I realize I’m over budget and need to leave before I do any more damage. Walk toward registers. “Oh these avocados are on sale! He loves avocados and I haven’t given him any in a while. I’ll get 6.”

By the way, I can only buy produce in even numbers. I don’t know why.

“Ok, it is really time to leave. I don’t even know if I have the money on my debit to cover this.”

At this point, I finally made it to the register. Now, my budget was $30. I didn’t take cash because I was certain I could stick to my budget and I’m really smart like that.

The damage? $114 and some change. That’s right. I went almost EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS over budget. None of the items I told you about were on my list. There were a few similar but less memorable moments that I didn’t share, but I think you get the picture. And by the way, the 2-lb bag of Cadbury mini eggs was $5 on sale from $10.  Still feel like I got a deal on that…. Not.

And that, my friends, is why I don’t shop at Walmart.

The End.

Saving Money on Disposable Items

I felt like this would be a good topic to share today, since I just ran out of paper towels from cleaning up dog vomit the last 2 days.  First of all, the dogs are fine.  They caught some kind of bug that really only lasted a few hours for each dog.  But this is exactly the type of occasion that the paper towels are reserved for.  Generally though, I don’t buy paper towels and other disposable items.  My thought is there are certain items made for convenience, and convenience always comes with a price that I am rarely willing to pay…  I say that I am rarely willing to pay that price because I actually have them all sitting in my pantry right now (with the exception of the paper towels I just ran out of).  However, I reserve these items for when convenience is really needed,  and make do with non-disposable items the rest of the time.

The following is a small list of disposable items that we rarely buy:

1. Paper towels–  these are the least convenient for me to replace.  I think it’s so nice to grab one, clean up a mess, and then throw it away.  It has taken me a while to get to the point where my desire to save money was greater than my desire for convenience.  I replaced them with a stash of small rags that I use to clean the counter tops and other surfaces in the house.  We dry our hands on hand towels.  I have a cloth that I use to dry fruits and veggies after they have been washed.  Now, we literally only reserve the paper towels for things like absorbing grease from meat or cleaning up messes that I don’t want to use real towels for (aka regurgitated bodily fluids from the dogs).

2. Foil– foil is super easy to replace.  I mentioned in a previous post that I save all kinds of jars and tupperware.  This is exactly why I do that.  When I have leftovers, I put them into a resealable container, and save the foil for things like taking food over to someone’s house.  I also use foil when I make baby food.  I bake the fruits that I make for my son, and cover  with foil so the juices will stay in the pan, then I use those juices to make the puree.  I will typically re-use that foil for the next batch of baby food, since it doesn’t get dirty anyway.

3. Gallon-sized Ziploc bags–  I don’t necessarily try to find a way to get around using these, I just happen to reuse them.  After I empty one, I just wash it like I would any other dish, let it dry, and put it back in the drawer until I need it again.

Of course, when you don’t buy these things, you are usually committing to doing a little more grunt work… i.e., extra laundry and dish duty.  However, as my family and I work toward becoming debt-free, we have made the decision to not pay for convenience.

What are some ways you save on disposable items?  Share your thoughts below!