Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Money Saving Tips: Whittle Away Wednesday Week 1

I am really working hard on this budget (as if you couldn't tell), so I thought I'd share some tips on how to save on everyday purchases.  This post could take hours, but I'll just share a few today and pass some more along next week.  We'll affectionately call it "Whittle Away Wednesday."

Let's start with an online shopping tip.  I know I've mentioned this before, but it is really one of the simplest ways to save money if you purchase anything online.  Sign up for an Ebates account and start saving!  It is so easy and worth your time, especially during the back-to-school shopping season and the holidays.  It's just one extra step and you'll love the check in the mail every three months!    

As I mentioned last week, I was going to work very hard on staying within our budget for groceries for the next few weeks.  I headed to the bank, withdrew my money, and set off to save!  My first stop was Target.  Normally I get a lot of my basics at Wal-Mart, but I was at Target for a few other items and decided to shop around a bit.  I ended up getting the majority of the everyday items I needed for the week there (and came in around $38.00).  Many of the purchases I made were their generic brand, Market Pantry, which cut back on costs. 

There are many benefits to shopping at Target.  The most important, for me, is my Target Red Card.  It provides a 5% discount on all of my purchases which is a nice bonus.  I know, I know, it's not cash, however, after I checked out, I went straight to customer service and paid the total amount I had charged with cash.  Problem solved!  I can also get free shipping when I make an online purchase, as well as contributing up to 1% of my purchases to my child's school.  Win-win all around!

In addition to the savings from the credit card, I receive coupons via text message and can also use the printable coupons from their website.  These can be combined with manufacturer coupons, so the savings can really add up quickly.  I've also found that I get a lot of good coupons at checkout that I can use in the future.  There is one more way to save at Target:  price matching!  Bring in your ad, take it to customer service, and get some money back.  If you can't tell, I love Target!

I also followed through with my trip to Aldi (we've now been there twice!).  As promised by some friends, the produce prices were often less than what I was paying at Wal-Mart or the local grocery stores.  This week we stocked up on blueberries ($1.49/lb) and strawberries ($1.19/lb), as well as pineapple ($1.19).  I found their grape and apples prices to be lower as well, though I had a little mold issue with my grapes as they were very wet.  We picked up a bag of carrots and a package of two zucchini (that I used in my cake) for 99 cents each.  I haven't been able to find a store yet with a good selection of organic produce that's not ridiculously expensive,  so this is where I'll be picking up our fresh fruits and vegetables for the time being.  

Since the price of the strawberries and blueberries is so low, I am planning to go back and buy several pounds to freeze.  We love to make fruit smoothies, so this will be a great way to save money in the long run.  If you'd like the recipe, I've included it below. 

I was quite pleased with my grocery trips this week.  I've stayed within our budget thanks to switching up my stores a bit and buying our meat in bulk when there is a good sale.  I have also been planning my meals with our budget in mind and adapting as necessary.  We love Barilla Pasta Plus noodles, so if I need to make a meatless dish, this is my go-to for protein.  Cutting out some meat cuts cost!

Fruit Smoothie

Fresh or frozen fruit of your choice
Apple Juice
Vanilla or French Vanilla yogurt (try Greek for a thicker smoothie)
Ice (if fresh fruit is used)

We use the Magic Bullet Express 17-Pc. Blending System to make our smoothies.  (You could also use a blender, but my directions pertain to the Bullet).

Fill cup 3/4 full with fruit, add juice, and top off with yogurt near the top of the cup.  Blend for 30 seconds.  Shake it around and blend for 20-30 seconds more.

Some fruit combinations we enjoy are strawberry and banana; strawberry, banana and pineapple; strawberry and blueberry; and strawberry, blueberry, and banana

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