Friday, February 28, 2014

A lesson on why to always check the price per unit!

And this is why I always check the price per unit!

If you can't read the small type... on the left is HyVee's flyer for this week. They have Charmin Basic toilet paper on sale for $5.99, for 12 rolls.  On the right is Checker's flyer. They also have Charmin Basic toilet paper on sale, for $5.88, for 20 rolls!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bulk Buys: Week of 2/26 (Broccoli, chicken, coffee, potatoes, sugar, toilet paper)

Some nice bulk buys for this week. As always, buy as much as you can use before it expires. Or, in the case of toilet paper, as much as you can store. 

Broccoli (florets/crown only):
Checkers / 0.78 per lb (fresh) / 2/26/14
(Chop it up and freeze what you can't use right away!)

Chicken (boneless, skinless breasts)
Aldi/ 5lb fresh/ 1.59 per lb / 2/26/14
(Freeze what you can't use right away)

Checkers/ 1.50 per 11.5 oz tub/ 2.08 per lb / 2/26/14

Potatoes (Russet):
Checkers/ 10lbs for 2.68/ 0.27 per lb / 2/26/14
HyVee/ 5lbs for 1.18/ 0.24 per lb/ 2/26/14

Sugar (granulated): 
HyVee / 1.48 per 4lb bag/ 0.37 per lb/ 2/26/14

Toilet Paper:
Checkers/ Charmin Basic 20pk for 5.88/ 0.30 per roll / 2/26/14

How do I come up with bulk buys?  I compare the current price with the prices I've recorded in my Price Book.  When a price dips below (or sometimes when it meets) the lowest price I've got recorded, I know to stock up. This way I "lock-in" that price for however long my supply lasts me.  That means I'm paying $0.78 per pound for broccoli all year long, even when the price jumps in a few months from now to $1.09 per pound.  See what I'm saying? 

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Frugal Acts: a few simple things I did to save money this week. Windfall Week!

This week was different as it is a Windfall Week (we received our tax return).  While we saved most of it,
we did spend some of it paying off debt, necessities, and things that will save us money in the future.

Windfall Expenditures:

  • Paid off 2 medical bills- obviously they needed to be paid off, but we chose to pay them off in a lump-sum now while we could, rather than paying monthly. This saved us money on interest, plus cut over $100 per month from our monthly overhead.
  • Made a larger than usual payment on our credit card debt (accrued last year when my husband was unemployed.)
  • Had our dog vetted- she needed her vaccines updated. We would have of course done this anyway, but we put it off by a month until we received our tax return, rather than stretch our tight monthly budget to do it.
  • I am researching bulk meat purchasing possibilities. I find that meat is one of the most difficult grocery items for me to find great deals on.  Anyone in N.E. Kansas have a line on a great deal for bulk meat?

"Regular" Frugal Acts:

  • Made banana-bread muffins with bananas from the freezer.
  • Waited until end of season clearance to buy new winter boots, and did price-comparisons online before purchasing.
  • Made my own natural laundry detergent (way cheaper and less chemicals!). I used this recipe, again from Pinterest.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bulk Buys: Week of 2/19/14

Items that have hit STOCK UP PRICES this week:

Brownie Mix (Betty Crocker):

HyVee/  Betty Crocker 18.3 oz for 0.99/ 5c per oz / 2/20/14 (sale goes through 2/22). 
Check the "best by" date on these and buy as many as you will use by that date.  I don't know about your family... but for us that might be quite a few. I will also note that it is still cheaper to make brownies from scratch, especially if you bulk buy the ingredients. However, if, like me, you are not quite up for that, this is a great price for the ready mix. 

HyVee AND Dillons/ 1.99 per lb/ 2/20/14
Butter keeps a month in the fridge and 6-9 months in the freezer! This is a pretty darn  good price, though it's possible it will dip a little lower in the summer months. So, I plan to buy about a 4 month supply. 

Aldi/ 2.99 per 2lb bag/ 1.50 per lb/ 2/15/13 
Walmart/ 6.97 per 5lb bag/ 1.40 per lb/ 2/15/13

Possibly on sale other places too.  This is the last hurrah for these little sweeties this year- they are going out of season so the prices will be going up from here. Buy what you can use in a couple weeks from the fridge, or freeze some to last up to a year!

Red/New Potatoes:
Aldi/ 0.99 for 5lb bag/ 20c per lb/ 2/19/14
Great price on these! Buy what you can use from the pantry in a week or two, or cook potatoes to freeze for up to a year! 

HyVee/ Suave 30oz for 1.00/ 3c per oz/ 2/20/14 

Sale price through 2/22.
I don't post a lot of non-food items but this is a great deal I had to share! If you have coupons this will be even better, but it's definitely a STOCK UP PRICE without coupons! Price per ounce for the least expensive shampoos are usually twice this much. I plan to buy about a year's worth.

I went to HyVee to get this, and found that it was no longer listed on their sale flyer, and were on the shelf at regular price. :(  BOOO!

Have you spotted any STOCK UP priced foods I missed?

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Frugal Acts: a few simple things I did to save money this week.

Things I did to save money this week:

  • Paid 7 bills with free online bill pay through my credit union (saved $3.43 on stamps).
  • Asked for a discount at a store (and got it! It really doesn't hurt to ask.)
  • Put vegetables in the freezer that we couldn't use up before they went bad, to use later in stir-fry or soup.
  • Went on a date to an art museum with free admission.
  • Borrowed several books from the library.
  • Cooked chicken to shred for wraps for my work lunches (cheaper and healthier than lunch meat).
  • Used my price book to find the stock up price on a few items last week. Stock-up prices here.
  • Fixed my own vacuum cleaner (watched how-to videos on Youtube, ordered replacement parts from Amazon- I have a Kirby).
  • Checked prices at Dollar Tree (found out several things I thought were really good prices are actually just pretty good...).
  • Researched disposable diaper prices (results here!)

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Check your wireless carrier for new plans to save money!

I recently discovered that Verizon has a new monthly plan called the More Everything Plan- I took a look at it and ended up saving a good chunk of money by switching to the new plan.

My friend Erin P just let me know that AT&T has a new plan that saved her money, too. Mobile Share Value Plan.

I don't get any credit or anything for telling you all about these new plans, just wanted to give a heads-up on a way to potentially save some money on your cell bill.  Look them over closely and see if you will save money with a new plan.

Anyone else saved money lately on their cell bill by using a new plan or switching companies?

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Frugal Acts of the past Week:

Here are the frugal things I did in the last week or so. What did you do to save money this week?

  • I started keeping a price book again (which I shared here.)
  • I bought a Thermos (with a giftcard I got for Christmas) so I don't spend $5 per week on coffee at work anymore.
  • I made my own Valentine's cards with materials I already had.
  • I baked banana bread/muffins with overripe bananas from the freezer.
  • I made a list of items that I am going to look for in thrift stores (and yard sales when the season begins!)
  • Brought leftovers from home for lunch every day at work.
  • Combined trips/errands to save gas.
I would love to see your comments on what you did to save money this week! 

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bulk Buys: Week of 2/12/14

Items that have hit STOCK UP PRICES this week:

Aldi (mixed bag of red/gala/granny smith)/ 1.88 per 3lb bag/ 63c per lb / 2/12/14
Apples stay fresh in the fridge for 1-2 months, so buy as many as you will use in that time.

Checkers/ 48c per lb- fresh/whole/ 2/12/14
Carrots stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 weeks, so buy as many as you will use in that time. This is a good enough price that it beats frozen carrots prices, so if you've got the time, chop them up and freeze them. They'll last in the freezer 8-10 months!

Checkers/ 3/$1 / 33c each/ 2/12/14

Grapefruit stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 weeks so buy as many as you will use in that time. This is a good enough price that it beats frozen grapefruit prices, so if you've got the time, chop them up and freeze them. They'll last in the freezer 8-10 months!  Click the link to find out how to prepare for freezing.

Hot Dogs:
Checkers (Bar-S brand)/ 88c per 1lb pk/ 2/12/14
Check the use by date on the package. Buy as many as you will use by that date. Also, they can be frozen for 1-2 months if you freeze them before the use by date.

Aldi (yellow)/ 79c per 3lb bag/ 27c per lb / 2/12/14
Onions can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 months. Buy as many as you can use in that time. Also, this price beats BY FAR the pre-chopped frozen onions.  Chop them up in the food processor and freeze- they will stay good in the freezer 10-12 months

(Maybe) Pork (chops):
Checkers/ 1.68 per lb in econopk / 2/12/14
I'm not completely sure this is a GREAT price on pork chops, but I know it's a pretty darn good price. If you are needing some meat, this is a good price.  They last up to 5 days in the fridge, but up to 4-6 months in the freezer so buy as many as you can use/store in the freezer. 

Have you spotted any STOCK UP priced foods I missed?

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Friday, February 7, 2014

My Price Book

Wanted to share with you all what I've got in my Price Book so far. (What is a Price Book!?) Feel free to use this, and please comment if/when you find better prices in Lawrence or online. I will also take suggestions of items to add- this is just my "staples list". Obviously this list is incomplete, please fill me in on the great prices you find elsewhere!  Unless noted otherwise, the prices are for store-brand items and without coupon use.  Update: I've made a Price Book page that I will keep updated. Click here, share, and bookmark!

Item: Store/Price/Price per Unit/Date

Beans (black, canned):
Checkers / 70c per 15oz can/ 5c per oz 2/1/14

Beans (chili/kidney, canned):
Aldi / 59c per 15oz can / 4c per oz / 2/1/14
Checkers/ 49c per 15oz can/ 3c per oz / 2/1/ 14

Beans (white/canellini/butter, canned):
Aldi/ 69c per 15oz can/ 5c per oz / 2/3/14
Checkers/ 69c per 15oz can/ 5c per oz / 2/1/14

Beans (refried):
Checkers/ 0.70 per can / 2/1/14

Beef (ground, 85% lean):
Aldi / 2.89lb (frozen) / 2/1/14

Bread (multi-grain or whole wheat):
Aldi/ 1.69 per loaf 2/3/14
Dillons/ 2.89 per loaf 2/1/14

Broccoli (florets/crown only):
Aldi / 1.09lb (frozen) / 2/3/14

Brownie Mix (family size):
Aldi /$1.29 / 2/3/14
Checkers/ $1.19 / 2/1/14

Buns (dog or burger):
Aldi / 0.89 8pk / 11c each 2/1/14
Dillons/ 0.99 8pk/ 13c each 2/1/14

Aldi / 2.49 per lb/ 2/3/14
Checkers / 2.69 per lb/ 1/28/14

Aldi/ 1.99 per 8oz / 4.00 per lb / 2/3/14
Checkers/ 1.67 per 8oz / 3.38 per lb / 2/1/14
HyVee/ 1.00 per 8oz/ 2.00 per lb/ 1/31/14

Chicken (boneless, skinless thighs)
Aldi/ 6.29 per 2.10lb bag /2.10 per lb / 2/3/14

Chili Powder:
Aldi/ 0.99 per 8oz / 25c per oz/ 2/3/14

Aldi/ 5.49 per 32oz/ 2.75 per lb / 2/3/14

Aldi/ 0.99 per 16 oz frozen/ 0.99 per lb / 2/3/14

Crackers (saltine type):
Aldi/ 89c per box / 2/3/14
Checkers/ 99c per box/ 2/1/14

Cream Cheese:
Aldi/ 0.89 per 8oz block/ 2/3/14
Checkers/ 0.99 per 8oz block / 2/1/14
HyVee/ 0.99 per 8oz block / 2/1/14

Aldi/ 1.33 per doz / 11c per egg / 2/3/14
Checkers/ 1.34 per doz / 11c per egg/ 2/1/14

Aldi/ 1.19 per 5lb/ 24c per lb/ 2/3/14

Green Beans (canned):
Checkers/ 45c per can/ 2/1/14

Macaroni and Cheese:
Aldi/ 39c per box / 2/3/14

Olive Oil:
Aldi/ 3.49 per 25oz / 14c per oz/ 2/3/14

Orange Juice (frozen concentrate):
Aldi/ 1.29 each / 2/3/14
Checkers/ 1.49 each/ 2/1/14
Dillons/ 1.21 each/ 2/1/14

Parsley (dried seasoning):
Aldi/ 0.99 per 0.5 oz / 1.98 per oz/ 2/3/14

Pasta (white durham, any shape):
Aldi/ 1.69 per alb box/ 85c per lb / 2/3/14
Dillons/ 99c per lb box/ 99c per lb/ 2/1/14

Aldi/ 0.99 per 16 oz frozen/ 0.99 per lb / 2/3/14

Pork (ground): 
Checkers/ 2.28 per lb/ 2/1/14

Rice (long grain white):
Aldi/ 1.59 per lb bag / 53c per lb / 2/3/14

Sour Cream:
Checkers/ 2.29 per 16oz/ 14c per oz/ 2/1/14

Sugar (granulated): 
Aldi/ 1.79 per alb bag/ 45c per lb / 2/3/14
Checkers/ 1.69 per alb bag/ 43c per lb/ 2/1/14

Sugar (powdered): 
Aldi/ 1.69 per alb bag / 85c per lb / 2/3/14

Taco Shells:
Aldi/ 99c for box of 12/ 8c each/ 2/3/14

Tofu (firm/v. firm): 
Checkers/ 2.89 per cube / 2/1/14

Tomatoes (canned): 
Aldi/ 59c per 15oz can/ 4c per oz/ 2/1/14

Tortillas (soft taco size):
Aldi/ 99c per 10 pack / 9c each / 2/3/14
Checkers 1.79 per 10 pack/ 18c each/ 2/1/14

Tuna (in water): 
Aldi/ 68c per can/ 2/3/14

Turkey (ground):
Aldi/ 1.69 per lb frozen / 2/3/14
Checkers/ 2.68 per lb fresh / 2/1/14

Turkey (deli meat): 
Aldi/ 2.49 per 7oz/ 36c per oz/ 2/3/14

Vanilla Extract: 
Aldi/ 1.99 per 2oz bottle/ 99c per oz / 2/3/14

Vegetable Oil (soy): 
Aldi/ 2/39 per 48 oz bottle/ 5c per oz / 2/3/14

Non-Food Items:

Checkers/ 1.26 per 64oz jug/ 2c per oz/ 2/1/14

Aldi/ 31ct size 4/ 4.99 pk/ 16c each / 2/3/14
(Click here for Diaper Prices Page!)

Dish Soap: Dawn NonUltra $32.37 per 448oz in 8 bottle case / 7c per oz / 1/31/14
Dollar Tree/ unknown brand 1.00 per 24oz bottle/ 4c per oz/ 1/31/14

Amazon/ Femtex brand $38.34 per 480ct box/ 8c each 1/30/14

Checkers/ 1.78 per 64oz jug/ 3c per oz / 2/1/14

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Keeping A Price Book

How a Price Books saves money:
This works on the bulk buying principle.  When you find the very best price you can, you buy in bulk to "lock in" that price for yourself for as long as that price lasts you. For example, a few weeks ago Hy-Vee had a sale on shredded cheese, $1.00 per 8 oz. package. This was really a HELL of a deal, as I regularly pay $1.99 for 8oz of cheese at Aldi or on sale other places. I have payed upwards of $2.49 for 8oz of cheese when I was in a pinch and needed it right away for an event.

I bought TWELVE 8oz bags of shredded cheese. That seems crazy, right? Let me tell you why I did that. The expiration date on the bags were all August 2014 or later. So I calculated how much cheese I would use between now and August.  2 bags a month was my (conservative) estimate, so I bought enough cheese to maybe last us the 6 months, effectively locking in my cheese cost for the next 6 months at $1.00 per 8oz.

Had I not had a price book, I may not have realized what a great deal this was. I knew within seconds that I had been recently paying $1.99 or more for 8oz of cheese, so I could easily see this was HALF PRICE CHEESE and folks, it doesn't get better than that.

How I Keep My Price Book:
Since I've now got a 3rd eater at my house, it was high time for me to pick up the price book I started a few years ago and make it work. My original book was paper/pencil, though I've now advanced to an iPhone app: ValueTracker, which costs $0.99.  The buck was worth it to me to always have my price book with me (since I've always got my phone.)  The price book doesn't really work unless you always have it with you when you are at stores.

I put in prices using my receipt after I get home, and calculate the per unit (ounce, pound, whatever) price. I also update prices using the weekly sale flyers. If I used a coupon I note that (though really I don't use coupons often).  (I Plan to share my personal price book here soon!)

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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Frugal Townie returns!

Hello readers (if there are any of you left)- I'm back with a quick note on Price Books, but first, to fill you in.

I abandoned my blog because I was pregnant and sick/miserable the whole time. The good news is I now have a 10-month-old daughter who is happy and healthy, and my life is returning to a "new normal" as I like to think of it. I didn't have time have time for a lot of active frugal pursuits, though I did get baby stuff as frugally as I could. I will perhaps post about that at a later time.  So, now you're caught up! As I start to have a little more time again, I plan to post here occasionally.