Category: living frugally

The Easiest Way to Save on Groceries

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here. 

grocery budget

As homemakers, we’re always looking for ways to save on groceries. When it comes to grocery shopping, I’ve concluded that you’re generally making a choice. Either you can spend more money and less stress, or you can spend more stress and less money. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Aldi is a store that people either love or hate, but shopping at Aldi is the best way to reduce your grocery budget if you don’t have time to learn how to coupon or to cook everything from scratch.

Aldi does have its quirks, but they’re manageable.

  • You need to bring your own bags, but you can purchase some at the store if you forget.
  • You need to bring a quarter to get a cart. The quarter releases the cart from the other carts. When you re-attach the cart at the end of your shopping trip, the quarter pops back out. The idea is that the quarter motivates people to return their carts. In turn, Aldi doesn’t have to pay people to retrieve carts from the parking lot. That equals lower prices.
  • Generally, there is only one checkout line going at a time. However, Aldi cashiers move at the speed of light. The product packaging is designed for quick and easy scanning.

PROS:

Aldi has great prices. I keep a price comparison worksheet on my computer. Aldi beats Walmart on the vast majority of items. There are some exceptions, like coconut oil, which I buy at Walmart, but Aldi is overwhelmingly the winner on most items.

The newer stores are clean and inviting. I had a brand new Aldi five minutes away from my apartment when we first got married. It was glorious. As an Aldi customer since age 7, I have to admit that the previous incarnation of their store design wasn’t visually appealing.

Aldi offers more reasonably priced organic and gluten free options. Of course, conventional items are always going to be less expensive than organic, but as far as organic goes, Aldi gives you the most bang for your buck.

It’s easy to get in and out quickly. Aldi doesn’t offer 5 brands of anything. You have regular mac and cheese and organic mac and cheese. Most items are only available in Aldi’s store brand. Because of this, the stores are smaller than other grocery stores. The experience is a stark contrast to the chaos of Walmart.

CONS:

Aldi doesn’t have everything. We typically end up having to stop by Walmart to fill in whatever Aldi doesn’t stock. Usually that’s about 3-5 more specialty items. Our Walmart is close by though, so it’s not too inconvenient.

Older stores that have not been remodeled are less visually appealing. Aldi is able to offer lower prices because they cut the frills elsewhere. Think of Walmart vs. Target. Most people would say that Target offers a more pleasant shopping atmosphere, but their prices reflect that nicer experience. If you’re going to Walmart, you have to put up with the less nice atmosphere.

Aldi has been stepping up their game with this, and the new stores look much more modern. Our local store is getting remodeled, so hopefully it’ll be improving too!

Produce and meat can be hit or miss. We have lived in two cities since we got married nearly two years ago. The Aldi in the first city was brand new. The quality of produce at that one was better than at our Aldi here. I can still find some decent produce here, but it takes more rummaging. The prices make the hassle worth it to me.

For my family, the pros outweigh the cons. After shopping at Aldi for 15 years, the quirks are second nature. I love how they’ve been implementing more healthy products over the last couple of years. It’s great to see that it’s possible to eat more healthy foods without shopping at expensive specialty stores!

If you are interested in saving money on your grocery budget, meal planning can really help! Click the button below to get a 28 day meal plan, complete with shopping lists and a price breakdown.

Is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Really Worth It?

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

ultimate homemaking bundle

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is a collection of 106 ebooks and ecourses on creativity, faith, finances, home decor, cooking and meal planning, intentional living, marriage, motherhood, organizing and systems, recipes, self-care, and work-life balance.

Laura, you might be thinking, I am already overwhelmed just looking at that sentence.

I understand the feeling, and I was once a bundle skeptic myself. The key here is to not even attempt to use everything. Personally, I have no interest in some of the resources. Even so, it only takes using 3 or 4 ebooks or ecourses to start saving money.

Even better, there are 9 resources in the bundle that cost more than the bundle itself, so if you only used ONE of those, you would be saving money!

Today I’m going to walk you through what I’m really excited about in this bundle.

A Mom’s Guide to Better Photos: A Beginning Photography Class for Moms With Any Type of Camera (Normally $99.00)

I’m not a professional photographer, nor do I aspire to become one. I do have a cute (in my 100% biased opinion) little boy, and I do like taking pictures of him. Meg’s course is designed for people like me. Even if all you have is a smartphone, your photography skills will improve with this course. I’m really enjoying it!

Keep in mind that the entire Ultimate Homemaking Bundle costs $29.97. When you purchase it, you get this course, which is a $99 value, AND 105 other products!

Foundational 5+ Workout Course (Normally $19.95)

I was so excited to find this as a part of the bundle! While I lost my baby weight pretty quickly, having a 9 lb. baby took a toll on my stomach muscles. The Foundational 5+ course is designed to help women who have had children to strengthen their core. It’s great for women who have diastasis recti, which is a common condition where the muscles separate during pregnancy and do not go back together completely afterwards. I have a small diastasis myself, and it’s something that I’d like to work on healing. The workouts are short and efficient for busy moms!

FREE Meal Plans and Shopping Lists

One of the bonuses that you receive along with your bundle is a free one year membership to MollyGreen.com, which is a $29 value. I had never heard of MollyGreen.com until a few days ago, but I found a fun surprise as I was looking around the membership site.

When you go to the member home page after logging in, scroll down and click on “Build a Menu.” You can sign up to get a free meal plan with recipes and a shopping list delivered straight to your email. You will automatically be sent one every week for SEVEN weeks.

Since this is intended to just be a sample, you don’t have as many options as you do with a full paid Build a Menu membership, but it gives you a good idea if a meal planning service is right for you. You could even save the meal plans and shopping lists and use them later when you’re having a crazy week. The sample meal plans are in the “Dine on a Dime” category, though a paid Build a Menu membership offers options for people who eat Trim Healthy Mama, gluten free, paleo, allergy friendly, and more.

I’m so excited to use my free meal plans! As I’ve written before, I love meal planning, and this will make it that much easier. This would normally cost around $7.00

You might not be interested in all of the products in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. That’s totally okay. To be 100% honest, I’m not either.

But even if I only ever use these three things that I’ve mentioned, products that I absolutely LOVE: the bundle will have been worth it.

Adding up the photography class, the workout class, and the free meal plans, it would normally cost approximately $125.95.

The bundle is $29.97, and I also have access to 103 other awesome resources. That’s a $95.98 savings…even if I never touch any of the other products.

You might be thinking that there has to be a catch to this. How can this possibly be that great of a deal?

The key is that this bundle is only available for six days, from April 26 – May 1, 2017. After that, it will be gone forever. Each year’s bundle has totally different products. Click on the button below to view the full list of what’s included!

How to Give Thoughtful Gifts on a Budget

gifts on a budget

Being frugal does not mean being stingy. God has called us to be good stewards, but He has also called us to be generous.

I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  – Acts 20:35

Sometimes it can be a fine line between being frugal and just being cheap. I strive to stay in the former category. Thus, I’ve learned how to give thoughtful gifts on a budget. These are gifts that the recipient can actually enjoy and use, but that can also be purchased for reasonable prices.

 

The best way to give nice gifts while also being frugal is by shopping for gifts throughout the year.

I learned this from my mom when I was young. She always had a stash of Bath & Body Works lotions, Chapstick, toys, candles, and a variety of other gift items. We mainly used the gift stash for teacher gifts, but the concept can be expanded to gifts for family members and friends as well.

Last Christmas, I started shopping for presents in early September. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was already finished! When I accompanied some friends as they shopped about a week before Christmas, I was thankful to have mostly avoided the craziness that is retail during the month of December.

I highly recommend signing up for emails from Money Saving Mom. She is a coupon and frugal living blogger. The thing that I like best about her email list is that you can choose to receive coupon match-ups only for your favorite stores.

In addition to standard coupon match-ups for grocery stores, the Money Saving Mom emails often contain deals for free photo books, inexpensive clothing, toys, and much more. By watching these emails for several months before Christmas, you can save a great deal of cash. When I got married, I had several relatives request printed wedding pictures for Christmas. I could afford to get photo books made for 4 relatives, as well as a nice photo book to keep for myself.

Another way to give thoughtful and frugal gifts is by giving something handmade.

Not everyone is a DIY person, so this tip is less universal. I’ve been knitting for 10 years, so I’ve been known to make Christmas gifts during years when my budget was tight. When one of my brothers was in 6th grade, I found some camo print yarn and knitted him a hat. I thought the camo print made it look more masculine. He loved it and still wears it several years later. I’ve also knitted baby items and kitchen linens.

If you know how to do calligraphy, writing out a meaningful quote and putting it in an inexpensive frame can be a lovely gift.

Whether you choose to go for store bought items that were on sale or for handmade gifts,  remember the words of Jesus:

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

23 Classic Books for Less Than a Dollar Each!

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission if you make a purchase through one of these links, at no additional cost to yourself. For further details, click here.

Did you know that you can get classic books very inexpensively from the comfort of your own home?

Ever since I first learned to read, I’ve loved books. Ever since, I first understood the concept of money, I’ve appreciated a good deal. I never thought I’d see the day when I liked ebooks, but the day did come. At first, it was primarily out of necessity, but now my Kindle Paperwhite is one of my favorite possessions.

I love my Kindle because of all the great deals I can get on Kindle books. While classic books are virtually always available inexpensively, even more recent releases will go on sale for less than $5 periodically. I search for my favorite authors’ names in the Kindle store every few weeks to see if any of their books have gone on sale. I go through a lot of books, so keeping costs down is a necessity.

You do not need to own a Kindle device to read Kindle books. My husband will read a couple pages on the Kindle app on his phone if he gets stuck waiting somewhere. Click here to find out how to read Kindle books on iOS, PC, or Android.

I have alphabetized this list by the author’s last name. At the time of this writing, all of the books below are priced at $0.99. Amazon reserves the right to change prices at any time, so always be sure to double check the price before placing your order.

23 Classic Books

  1. Aesop’s Fables – $0.99
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – $0.99
  3. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott – $0.99
  4. Jane Austen: The Complete Novels – $0.99
  5. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – $0.99
  6. The Bronte Sisters: The Complete Novels – $0.99
  7. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett – $0.99
  8. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – $0.99
  9. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – $0.99
  10. The Complete Novels by Charles Dickens – $0.99
  11. The Complete Works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky – $0.99
  12. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle – $0.99
  13. Alexandre Dumas: The Complete Works – $0.99
  14. Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Complete and Illustrated – $0.99
  15. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – $0.99
  16. Victor Hugo: The Complete Novels – $0.99
  17. Rudyard Kipling: The Complete Novels and Stories – $0.99
  18. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery – $0.99
  19. Plato: The Complete Works – $0.99
  20. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – $0.99
  21. Leo Tolstoy: The Complete Novels and Novellas – $0.99
  22. Mark Twain: The Complete Novels – $0.99
  23. 12 Novels by H.G. Wells – $0.99

I hope you enjoy this list! Do you have a favorite classic book? Let me know in the comments!

Real Life Couponing – 2/18

2016-02-18 15.27.21 HDR

I had a great couponing experience at Walmart this week. Since I’m about two months out from having my first baby, I’m starting to stock up on health products, frozen foods, and easy to prepare foods.

Walmart

Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Yogurt, Original Price: $1.00 each

Final Price: $0.67 each

How I did it: I used a printable coupon for $1.00 off when you bought 3 of the individual yogurts.

Great Value 0% Milk, Original Price: $1.99

Final Price: $1.49

How I did it: Checkout 51 offered a rebate for $0.50 when you bought a gallon of milk. This could be for any brand of milk!

Boost 100 Calorie 4 pack, Original Price: $5.98

Final Price: $2.98

How I did it: I used a newspaper coupon for $3.00 off any Boost drink. Boost is probably not Trim Healthy Mama approved, but my doctor wants me to drink it and I’m complying. 😉

Birds Eye Steamfresh Flavor Full frozen vegetables, Original Price: $1.84

Final Price: $0.34

How I did it: I used a simple $1.50 off coupon from the newspaper, bringing the cost down to 34 cents! This was a fantastic and very easy deal.

Hall’s Cough Drops, Original Price: $1.54 each

Final Price: $0.54 each

How I did it: I used a newspaper coupon for $1.00 off 2 bags of Hall’s cough drops. Additionally, I submitted my receipt to Checkout 51 for an additional $1.00 rebate. This made the cough drops only 54 cents per pack!

Kotex Pads, Original Price: $2.86

Final Price: $0.86

How I did it: Again, this was a great deal that came only from a newspaper coupon. Less than a dollar for a package of pads

Dreamfields Pasta, Original Price: $1.78 each

Final Price: $1.28 each

How I did it: This was a newspaper coupon for a $1.00 off two boxes of Dreamfields Pasta.

That’s it for this week!

Real Life Couponing – Week of 2/2

Last week, couponing didn’t happen. I was snowed in for a few days and my Sunday newspaper never arrived. This week I got back on the wagon with a few deals at Target and Kroger.

 

2016-02-02 16.46.23 HDR
This week’s haul: all Trim Healthy Mama approved!

Target

Since the beginning of the New Year, I’ve been having trouble with the Target closest to me not having the items I need in stock. Fortunately, they actually did have what I needed today.

Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Yogurt, Original Price: $3.99

Final Price: $2.17

How I did it: Target had this product on sale this week for $3.25 each. I had a $0.75 off coupon from this week’s paper. There was also an offer on Target’s Cartwheel app for 10% off, which brought the price down to $2.17. Triple Zero Yogurt is recommended as a part of the Trim Healthy Mama plan because it has no added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or fat. It’s also sweetened with stevia, which is a plan approved sweetener.

In true Target fashion, this was the last package of this brand of yogurt that they had. My husband thinks there must be someone who reads the same coupon blogs as me who clears out the good deals. It’s a plausible theory, I must say.

Market Pantry Brown Rice, Original Price: $0.89

Final Price: $0.84

How I did it: This was just a 5% off offer from my Cartwheel app. This is an example of my “every little bit helps” belief coming into play.

Kroger

I love my Kroger mainly for the health food section. Nine times out of ten, it can save me from an expensive trip to Whole Foods. I’ve heard that Wasa crackers can also be found at Walmart, but I’ve checked two of the Walmarts in my area and I’ve never found them. Thus, I always get mine at Kroger.

Wasa Crackers, Original Price: $2.99

Final Price: $1.84

How I did it: Wasa crackers were on sale for $2.59. Once I got home, I uploaded my receipt to my Ibotta app and received a $0.75 rebate, making the final price $1.84.

Real Life Couponing

In my last post Couponing for the Small Family, I wrote about how couponing works for our family of two. In this post, I’ll share what my couponing actually looked like this week.

I typically do my couponing on either Monday or Tuesday, since that makes it more likely that stores will still have the items I need in stock. This week my energy was a bit better than usual, so I went to multiple stores. There are some weeks when I only make it to Target, and I have come to accept that.

Target

2016-01-12 16.24.28
My Target haul from this week.

Glade Plugins Scented Oil Warmer, Original Price: $1.49

Final Price: FREE

How I did it: I used a $0.50 off printable coupon. In the store, I paid $0.99. When I got home, I uploaded my receipt to the Ibotta app, which gave me a $1.00 rebate. In the end, that made this product completely free.

Hefty Slider Bags, Original Price: $1.99 each

Final Price: $0.99 each

How I did it: I used a 25% off promotion from the Cartwheel app. This saved $0.50 off of each box of slider bags. I then used a printable coupon for $1.00 off when you bought two boxes of slider bags. The final price was 99 cents for each box.

Campbell’s Chunky Soup, Sale Price: $1.66 each

Prego Pasta Sauce, Original Price: $1.97 each

How I did it: This deal was a bit more complicated. When you bought 10 Campbell’s Chunky Soups or Prego Pasta Sauces, you received a $5.00 Target gift card. You could use any combination of these products to reach the total of 10.

I chose to get 6 of the Campbell’s Chunky Soups. I used two printable coupons. Each of these were for $1 off of 3 cans of soup. To round out my 10 items, I selected 4 Prego Pasta Sauces. I had a newspaper coupon for 40 cents off of 2 Prego Pasta Sauces. I found this deal on The Krazy Coupon Lady. They suggested using 2 of the newspaper coupons, but I only get one newspaper. My final price reflects that difference.

Final Price: $1.04 per item (this factors in the value of the $5.00 gift card)

Charmin Double Plus or Mega Plus Toilet Paper (Okay, officially the manufacturers call it “Bath Tissue.” But who says bath tissue in real life? Toilet paper is toilet paper, my friends.), Sale Price: $13.99 for a 12 pack, $41.97 for 3 packs

Target was running a promotion this week where you could get a free $10.00 Target gift card when you buy any 3 Charmin products. I also used 3 printable coupons for $1.00 off, one for each of the packs.

Ibotta had a rebate for $2.00 off a Charmin Ultra Soft 12 pack, as well as for $2.00 off a Charmin Ultra Strong 12 pack. One of the downsides of Ibotta is that you can usually only use a rebate on one item. That’s why I only had Ibotta rebates for 2 of my 3 packs of toilet paper. The rebates will reset, but that takes 3 to 4 days and by then the good deal is usually gone.

SavingStar is a new coupon app I just learned about this week. It had a deal for a $5.00 rebate when you spend $30.00 on Charmin Ultra Strong or Ultra Soft Mega Roll toilet paper.

Final Price: $6.66 per 12 pack

As a final note, these rolls are massive. If they were any bigger, they wouldn’t fit in a standard toilet paper holder. I haven’t found a good way to compare prices on toilet paper that takes into account these differences between various roll sizes.

That was it for Target this week. As you can tell, I’m focusing on stocking up on household goods and easy to prepare foods for after the baby comes.

Walgreens

I’ll be honest: Walgreens is my least favorite place to coupon. The first 30 seconds of this video basically sum up my feelings on the matter:

Actually…the whole thing sums up my frustration with Walgreens. If I try to do too much bargain hunting there, I tend to want to give up on the whole business and buy everything at Aldi. However, this week they sucked me in with a good deal on pads.

Poise Thin Shape Pads, Original Price: $6.29

Final Price: $2.29

How I did it: Walgreens puts out monthly coupon booklets in their stores. These are considered store coupons, not manufacturer coupons. At most other stores, you can stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon without any difficulty. At Walgreens, you can still use both…BUT they have a nifty little policy where you cannot have more coupons than items in your transaction. That’s why I also purchased a bag of M&Ms. They were on sale for $0.59, so they were my “filler item.”

As you can tell from my last post, I don’t like buying things that I don’t need. I’ll be saving the M&Ms for my husband’s Valentine’s Day chocolate. That keeps it from being a complete waste, right?

Walmart

2016-01-12 16.56.07
My Walmart haul from this week.

The Walmart in my area tends to scare me, but this week I decided to be brave. As I stopped to peruse the varieties of Pillsbury biscuits, I moved my cart as close to the side of the aisle as possible. This was in an effort to be out of the way. However, I soon discovered that my best efforts were not good enough, as my cart was suddenly hit and began rolling away from me. I had been leaning on the cart (bad idea) and stumbled when my support was removed. My can of biscuits began to fly from my hands as I fell. Fortunately, I was able to regain control of both my biscuits and my body without falling completely to the ground.

A bit bewildered, I looked around to see what caused this incident. A rather aggressive woman with a British accent muttered “Sorry!” and continued to push her cart towards the potato chips at a breakneck speed.

And this is why I don’t like to go to Walmart without my husband. Moving on to my coupons…

Pillsbury Grands, Original Price: $1.47 each

Final Price: $0.97 each

How I did it: While I’m in the process of getting on the Trim Healthy Mama bandwagon, my husband loves his carbs. He especially loves these fluffy biscuits, so I try to coupon them when I can. I used a printable coupon for $1.00 off any 2 Pillsbury refrigerated baked goods.

Bananas, Original Price: $0.49 per pound, the bunch I selected was actually $0.20

Final Price: FREE!

How I did it: MobiSave is another great coupon app. It’s more straightforward to use than Ibotta, which can be overwhelming. This week, they had a rebate for $0.30 when you bought any bunch of bananas. Since mine cost $0.20, the extra $0.10 is just bonus money. MobiSave also sends your rebate directly to your PayPal account: no need to wait until you’ve met a minimum balance in your account.

Dawn Simply Clean Dishwashing Liquid, Original Price: $0.97

Final Price: $0.67

How I did it: This one was pretty straightforward. I used a printable coupon for $0.30 off.

Truvia Natural Sweetener, 40 ct. packets, Original Price: $3.46

Final Price: $0.96

How I did it: Again, pretty simple. All I used was a printable coupon for $1.50 off a Truvia product. Truvia actually does work with the Trim Healthy Mama plan, which is an added bonus. I also uploaded my receipt to the Checkout 51 app and received a $1.00 rebate.

Yardley Bar Soap, Original Price: $0.97 each

Final Price: $0.72 each

How I did it: For some reason, there are always an abundance of coupons available for body wash, but barely any for bar soap. I am a bar soap girl, so I decided to snatch up some while I had a newspaper coupon.

Clean and Clear Face Wash, Original Price: $3.97

Final Price: $2.97

How I did it: Nothing too impressive here, just a newspaper coupon for $1.00 off.

Oikos 000 Yogurt, Original Price: $1.00 each

Final Price: $0.67 each

How I did it: Oikos 000 yogurt is Trim Healthy Mama approved, so finding a coupon for it was exciting. This was a printable coupon for $1.00 off of 3 of the individual size yogurt cups.