With so many people out of work, and prices not compensurate with the income of many who are working, saving money on food costs has become even more important.
Add in the shortage of certain foods due to weather catastrophes, causing the prices to rise, and you have the perfect storm for motivation to look anywhere possible for ways to stretch your grocery budget.
Now that I’m not working full-time, I have decided this is a priority. I wish I could say that it had always been important, but I know finding ways to save money – coupons, phone apps, store cards – can take more time out of an already busy day, and I just never did it on a big scale. Sure, if a manufacturer sent me a coupon or a rewards card gave me a freebie, I would definitely use it. But to seek it out with the goal of saving 20% off of our current food costs? Hard core!
So how am I going to do this?
Even though our financial situation has changed, it doesn’t mean our family’s needs have. My kids still need summer clothes, shoes, toothpaste, you get my point. We are determined to have the impact of the recent changes affect them as little as possible. When you have kids who want to play sports, go on field trips, visit amusement parks, shop, you know, all those ‘normal’ kid things, you have to get creative. Today, I’ll start a series on how I save money on food costs, with the first segment being about using technology.
Last week, I realized that neither my younger daughter nor I had packed sufficient summer shoewear within reach. After a smack to my forehead for missing the obvious (I moved to California right before summer. I know. You can say it.) I decided we couldn’t go any longer wearing the same pair of flip-flops. I checked out weekly ads and local shoe store sales, then headed for Kohl’s. Not only did they have a sale, but we have a Kohl’s charge account, and when you use that on purchases, you frequently get a percentage off on your total purchase at the register. When we walked in the door..literally, the sign is on the door..we learned about their in-store free wifi. When you sign into it, you then have the option of receiving discounts. Thirty minutes later, we left, with a bag containing one black cami (on sale for $5.99), and four pairs of sandals. Grand total? $21.56. Score!
We were hungry and my husband had called with another errand while we were out, so we tried to choose an affordable lunch option. Looking around, we saw Juice It Up. Providence! We had been talking about how it had been over three years since we’d had JIU, and that we’d missed a good fruit smoothie. Before I went in, as my daughter did the “huh?” look while I insisted on waiting so we could see if there was any program that could clip our costs, I scouted out the JIU site and learned there is indeed a rewards program. I signed up quickly, on my phone, and headed indoors. I was bummed that after two attempts, I still haven’t received my password to join, but you may have better luck. The website states you get a “welcome to the club” gift, and birthday rewards and if you like Juice It Up, may be something to check out! Could have been a score for me, if it had worked!
Then I headed to CVS to pick up prescriptions. I checked out the prices on a few items we needed that were better priced than at Target next door, and used a coupon in my purse from a prior purchase. (CVS coupons aren’t tree-friendly, as a receipt frequently ends up being feet long, but they are good deals if you keep them and remember what categories they cover. Something to keep in mind is that they are not transferable, so when my husband got a good one but I was the one to stop by to use it, it wouldn’t allow me to apply it as it was on his card. Keep that in mind if you have different numbers. Luckily, I had coupons from both of our cards in my purse.) Another score!
Our last stop was Ralphs. I’m new to grocery shopping here in California – my husband has always done it, but for obvious reasons, I have some time on my hands. When we lived here prior, he had taken on the task as shopping with my youngest’s special needs was very difficult. Now it’s my turn to learn prices, compare and put together more than just a list of random items that I present to him on Sundays, so I took a deep breath and headed in. Who knew, I love Ralphs? We used to see it as a more expensive grocery store but after returning from South Carolina, the prices seem downright cheap, and certainly no more expensive than Stater Bros. Still, I wanted to do better. Queue the Ralphs Android app. I quickly linked my member card to the online site and was virtually clipping coupons to be assigned to my card; I was also able to view the sales while I shopped, adding things to my list so I could make sure we grabbed them. In the end, I added more to my cart than was on the list, but it was still a very judicious shopping trip that netted us a lot of quality items for good prices. We don’t want money to change our healthy living lifestyle, so this was another score!
Small steps, but ones that made me realize how much easier it is to save money than I’d presumed. Gone are the days of having to buy lots of papers and clip coupons from mailers. Sure, those still work, but now saving money is more automated, like free money for the taking! I’ve had some more “Score!” moments since then, but I’ll highlight those in another entry. My new way of life? “I’m sure we can get that for cheaper!” without reducing quality. I’ll update as I go along!