Tag Archive | savings

The Sales are Abundant – Are You Buying?

Sales are Abundant Frugal Value Living

The budget is tender with limited funds that need to be focused on housing and utilities.  Even grocery resources are limited to necessities.  Yet, we as Americans are still swamped with sales flyers and daily emails that shout “sale”, “save 20%”, save 40%”, “Buy 2 get 1 free” and more.  How do the gimmicks affect you?

Sometimes the sales can be rather tempting most especially if there is an item you have been waiting for quite some time to go on sale.  But, one thing to keep in mind when the flyers and emails arrive is that the companies offering the sales are not the ones who will be paying your bills.  They are not interested in knowing whether you will have a roof over your head, food on the table or whether your utility bills will be paid on time.  So, if the item is something you have been saving for, it is definitely worth the investment for the deal you find fair to your spending.

The pressure to spend is everywhere we turn.  From the coupons and store flyers that arrive in our Sunday papers to the email alerts from vendors we love to shop with.  There are other options to spend when we think about our entertainments “needs” for culture and relaxation.  Just because there is a one-time event, a special deal or coupon to entice you to spend, it is not a necessity for one to pass out their resources as if there is a never ending supply of cash.

My first question to ask would be:  To attend that one-time event, purchase that one-time deal, take advantage of those “wow” coupon savings, will you have to forego paying a utility bill, your rent, or worse, use your credit card?  If you answer is “yes” to one or all, then I will bluntly share “you do NOT need the item(s)!”  If you really need the item, consider how you might be able to cut back on groceries or reduce your utility usage so that you can acquire it next month.  Or, consider asking it to be a gift from someone during the holiday season, birthday, etc.

Somewhere in society, the adage to “have it all” has become the norm.  It has fueled the retail establishments to overprice their goods, because they have found that offering a 40% coupon will awaken the minds of many to spend, even when they do not even have the resources to do so.  Think about the insane Black Friday sales events.  Did you know that many of those same deals are happening year round?  Actually, if you plan well, you can have your gift shopping done prior to the holiday decorations are even being displayed in the store.

Unfortunately, the value of the dollar has gone out the window in America.  My current focus is to pay our basic bills – Mortgage, car, electric, phone, cell, water, fuel, ..yup, that’s it.  We are fortunate not to have any credit card debt.  I want my Mortgage Bank to be happy, my utility providers to continue to provide me service (I am not talking about a TV service as which is not an expense that fits within our budget – we consider this a “want” vs. a “need”, we also consider it unfortunate that we can no longer get the local news for free), and the ability for my husbands’ vehicle to have a full tank of gas so that he can get back and forth to work each day.  We then focus on basic groceries, followed by necessary clothing, then what we call luxuries (the extra’s).  Sometimes this means going without “new” clothes for quite some time.

If we all took a look in our closets, we would probably find plenty of clothes that would last us longer than a year.  Sure, we have our favorites that get worn out, but consider wearing the items that are in the back of the closet.  If you find you are not interested in wearing them, then either re-fashion, get alterations, sell or give to a charity.  Make room in your closet so that you can see the potential your wardrobe has for you.

I recently shared with my hairdresser, who by the way I had not seen in over a year, that we had not shopped for clothing, extra’s or even at JoAnn’s in over a year.  She was amazed at my willpower.   I never really thought about it being “willpower” but rather a necessity and having my priorities in line.

Not having a haircut in over a year was difficult.  Yet, the resources did not allow for it, plus I tend to trim in between cuts.  Although I do not normally go a year without her fixing things up, this year I needed to stretch the visit as far as possible.  To save even further, I only got the wash and cut which saved $4.00, in addition the girl who booked my appointment gave me her $2 coupon off my cut.  Sometimes waiting allows one to experience God’s generosity of others.

There will always be a sale, a 40% off coupon, or better yet, the potential item you have been so patiently waiting for goes to an incredible 80% off clearance price.  The “want” will always be there, but we can soften the desire by rationalizing whether it is an actual “need” vs. a “want” in addition to saving in a separate account or savings jar.

Try for one week to avoid shopping for anything more than your “basic” groceries.  And on this trip avoid the candy, ice cream, potato chips, etc. also known as the “junk” food items.  Purchase only the basics and make do with what you already have in the cupboards and freezer.  Make a dessert from scratch, go without a dessert.  Play a board game, read a book or watch a DVD you picked up from the library.  At the end of the week, decide for yourself if it was worth doing without.

So, during a time of needing to watch our spending, how do I avoid the sales gimmicks?  Well, I certainly glance through the flyers and breeze through the emails, and have become quite good at using my delete key on my keyboard and looking for “necessary” items on sale at the grocery store.  There is absolutely no room to “stretch” in order to have something that is not needed.

These are gimmicks that drive me insane:

  • $50 (or more) rebate after purchase.  Stores no longer give you a discount at the register.  Instead they want to hang onto your resources, in a bank, that gains interest for “them”, while you prepare the paperwork to submit your rebate.  This can sometimes be done online saving you a stamp, yet many times you still need to pay the postage and fill an envelope with a variety of paperwork.  You do not regain your cash for at least four to eight weeks.  They do this to discourage you as well as hope you forget about it when you get home. Then, when all this is done, the new gimmick is that the consumer now receives a credit card to spend, versus a check to put back into one’s checking account.  Seriously?  You told me that I would get my money back, and now I need to use this to buy something.  You cannot use this on a credit card bill (if you have one) Why?  Because they want to be “sure” they are getting their hands on your money.  Buyers do not despair. We all need groceries and gas for our vehicles in which we can use these cards for.  I simply do not like it when stores offer these incentives then send a credit card.
  • Buy TWO and get ONE FREE:  Well, I only need one, or I only have sufficient funds for one, so there goes that option.   Or, in the case of a shoe store, you can only find one pair that fits you or all members of your family.  What does one do?  Purchase two more, in a size that does not fit or a color that is unappealing?  Okay, there are a few products that we will use more than one of, such as shampoo, but if I only need one and things are tight, I only purchase what I need.
  • 3 hour sale, 1 day sale, 3 day weekend sale.  So, you normally shop on a Thursday, but the grocery store is offering an amazing deal on fresh fruit for this Sunday.  This causes one to either dip into the funds necessary for other bills making it necessary for you to wait until the next pay period to pay the bill you borrowed from.  Or, how about that craft store that is enticing you to run in and stock up on scrapbooking supplies. I would rather wait until the sale lasts a week, allowing me to make one trip into town, not causing gas to be wasted, allowing for a well thought out shopping trip used to its advantage.  One of our local grocery stores lost me as a customer because I just did not find that their “sale” was worth the wasted gas to run into town each day of the weekend, unless I was already down there.

We are coming close to the holiday season, the email deals are coming in daily, and store flyers increasing the desires in our minds to spend.  Consider trying a week at a time to go without.  Put the extra in an account for a “rainy day”.  In doing so, you will be amazed at how much you can save over the course of a year or two.   For us, it gave us an extra year of resources to make ends meet.

As always, living a frugal life, does not mean living a “cheap” life, but rather a fullfilling one instead.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

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Is the Coupon Worth It? – Chips

Every now and then I will share my experiences and thoughts on coupon usage.  You will find that I do use them, but I am not a huge fan of them because sometimes they are simply not worth the fuss.  Yet, I still browse through the Sunday flyers as well as online sites.

Much of my focus with coupon use is for products we actually use, and yet I will sometimes cut a few for what I consider “luxury” items.  Today I saved $5.55 on my trip, a 7% savings.  Certainly not as much as I would like, but in reality, it wasn’t just about saving with an available coupon but also in value.

Our goal today was to purchase only the items we needed, which was some dairy, fruit, veggies and water.  Yet, considering I had a craving for chips last night, my morning list included trying to use a coupon for pringles.  Two things caused me to avoid using that coupon:

Choosing the healthier option with a cost savings over the coupon option. Pringles vs. Lays

Choosing the healthier option with a cost savings over the coupon option.
Pringles vs. Lays

  1. Since I am focused on remaining gluten free, I found as I read the label that Pringles is made with wheat starch.  This does not bother my husband, but for me it makes a difference.  Okay, maybe I do not need chips this time around….
  2. Well, lets compare prices.  Pringles was at a price of $1.50 and next to them was Lay’s Stax at a price of 99 cents.  Okay, frugal momma here.  The coupon for Pringles is $1.00 off 4 containers.  Seriously??? I need to purchase 4 canisters to use this coupon?  basically 25 cents off each container.  Let’s do the math…25 cents off one canister makes them $1.25 each, still more expensive than Lays Stax at 99 cents and no pressure to purchase four canisters at once.

As a frugal shopper, my goal is to purchase what we need, at a fair price, use a coupon is available, with a focus on quality.

  • Did I need four canisters of chips?  No.  This purchase was to satisfy a craving but not a need.  To purchase extra canisters in the house would first require that I spend more than planned and also meant that there would be the temptation to consume more than necessary throughout the week.
  • Did I look for a fair price?  Of course.  I know that in the past that Pringles is a chip that our family enjoys.  But, when they are suggesting a higher price than its competitor, and requiring a bulk quantity to tempt me into purchasing their product, then I do not consider it a great deal.
  • Access to a coupon?  No coupons were in my coupon file of products we use, yet I still saved by not being drawn into having to purchase four canisters in order to use a coupon.  Sure, coupons can help save on the groceries, but only if used on products you will consume.
  • Looking for quality:  In reading the ingredients, I found that not only did the Lays Stax have healthier ingredients, it fit within my need to stay away from milk and gluten.  Plus, I personally find that the Lays brand has a thicker chip, and a better flavor.

NOTE:  We only purchased two cansiters of Lays Original.  I did not look at the labels of their other flavors to see if they contained milk or wheat, but my comparison “original to original” to each brand, scored with Lays as having the better nutritional value.

NOTE:  Soy is contained in this product.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Popcorn – An Affordable Snack

Popcorn is an inexpensive and healthy snack.  Well, that is when not saturated in butter, salt, etc.  Even more when cooked fresh vs. the theater and individual packages.

Also, I recently discovered that although 90% of corn is GMO modified, popcorn is made using a different seed which is not GMO modified.  Yet, I would still recommend using organic popcorn to be sure that your supply was not sprayed with pesticides.

So, lets get started:  Simple, easy, low calorie (31 calories per 1 cup of air popped) and a great substitute for many of the higher calorie options.

Two options:  Air pop or microwave.   Both options are simple.  The air machines are self-explanatory where you fill the cup area, turn the machine on and as it pops, it fills your bowl.  Microwave is just as easy if you do not have an air popper.

FrugalValueLifestylepopcorn1

 

Needed items:

  • popcorn
  • paper bag
  • microwave
  • serving bowl(s)

 

 

 

First measure 1/4 to 1/2 c of popcorn and place in paperbag

FrugalValueLifestylepopcorn2Next close bag by folding over two times and place into microwave

FrugalValueLifestylepopcorn3

 

Set the microwave for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  We find that 2 1/2 minutes works best.  It leaves a few kernels, but it also avoids the potential risk of burning.

FrugalValueLifestylepopcorn4

 

As the popcorn cooks, the bag expands and depending on how many kernels you use or the size of your paperbag, it will begin to open, potentially popping out.  Don’t worry, it is fine.

Make sure you do not let it cook too long!!!  When the popping slows down, where five seconds pass without another pop, you know that your snack is ready.

NOTE:  Since every microwave has a different wattage level, you might want to start out on the lower end of 2 1/2 minutes to prevent burning.  If this timing does not cook sufficiently (or you do not mind the smell of burnt popcorn) you can try the longer popcorn time.

FrugalValueLifestylepopcorn5

 

A 1/2 cup of popcorn is more than sufficient for both my husband and I.  Personally, I prefer to eat my popcorn plain.  My husband adds salt.  Others will add their own seasoning options from butter, olive oil, parmesan cheese, etc.

FrugalValueLifestylepopcorn6

 

Low calorie, simple to make, and a low cost snack that can be purchased in bulk.   Even a small bag will last you longer than a pan of brownies, a batch of cookies, or other snack.

  • It costs less to purchase than most other snacks
  • Makes multiple servings from a single purchase
  • Due to its lack of sugar, prevents one from having the craving for additional servings, allowing even the dieter to enjoy it.  This allows this single purchase to last longer in your kitchen cupboard than one would have from a package of brownie mix, cookies, etc.

Keep things simple, keep things healthy, and stretch those food dollars on serving sizes you can control.

Enjoy!!

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality VS Price – Clothing

"Everyone has the ability to spend wisely.  It is just a matter of choosing to do so."  ~ Laura D. Field ~

“Everyone has the ability to spend wisely. It is just a matter of choosing to do so.” ~ Laura D. Field ~

Yesterday I made the introduction to shopping, asking whether you shopped for quality or for the bottom line price.  With that in mind, I would like to further the topic to shopping for clothing.

I personally love to find a great bargain, in reality, who doesn’t?  But, I’m not talking about purchasing the lowest priced shoes on the market, but rather a higher quality item for a lower cost.   So, I am going to be transparent and share a little of how I shop.

In reference to shoes, clothing and undergarments.  It is extremely rare that I will purchase them at Wal-Mart.  No offence to those who purchase there.  When our daughters were little, where they would grow out of the shoes within a few months, it was worth it.  Yet, as our daughters got older, along with the needs for my husband and I, Wal-Mart is not the answer.  The same applies for undergarments, jeans, shirts, dresses, etc.

When purchasing these items, I look for support in the shoes as well as bra’s.

Think about it this way, the $20+ dollars you save could affect your overall health.  A poor arch support is bad for your posture.  I had to invest in expensive insoles because most shoes today, even the expensive ones, do not have the support our feet need.  Fortunately the cost has covered itself for how long that I have had them.  It is time for me to replace them, but I currently need to wait until the resources are saved.  And, if you work for a hospital or health care facility, ask the store if they provide you a discount.  Some provide this, as they know that you are always on your feet tending to the many patients you see throughout the day.

Poor bra support is not only bad for your posture but also affecting the muscles in your chest, resulting in saggy breasts.  Personally, at the young age of 52, I really enjoy the fact that although not as perky as they once were before breast-feeding they are healthy and holding their own.  Why?  Because I choose to exercise as well as wear supportive bra’s that do not pull up in the back causing the breasts to sag, from either a poor fit or poor construction.  This, unfortunately comes at a cost, yet does not need to break the bank as they can be found on sale.  So it is never necessary to purchase full price if you can time your shopping.

So, how do I purchase my shoes, underwear, socks & bra’s on a limited budget?

For shoes, I know what feels comfortable, what my feet need, and what fits.  In addition, I do not purchase shoes for a family member without them being with me.  Why spend the cost of gas on an unnecessary trip back to return them?   Although I do not shop very often, when I am out, I keep my eyes open for sales.  I have been known to purchase two pairs of sneakers for either myself or a family member, even when we only need one.  Not because I love to hoard excess of what is needed, but rather because I know that in six months a replacement will be needed and we might not at that point have the resources to replace them.  So, if I can find $50-$75 sneakers for $20-$30, and I have the resources to purchase, I don’t think the penny miser will be chasing me out the store for a poor purchase decision, unless of course I end up starving my family that week.   In addition, I wish to share with you what my Orthopaedic MD shared with me “Those over priced shoes are just a hype.  Purchase a good pair of name brand sneakers that do not have all the bells and whistles, and your feet and joints will thank you, as will your budget.”

Underwear and socks are an essential product we all need, yet why would someone who has limited resources choose to pay more money for thick hiking socks, sport socks and dress socks that are worn daily?  Maybe it is because of my seamstress background, but I know quality fabric when I see it and feel it.  I immediately make a decision to either accept or reject.  Socks wear out, and they wear out quickly.  Yet, the cheap and inexpensive ones develop air conditioning sooner than I wish to return to the store for replacements.  I have had a few wear out after a couple wearings, which really annoyed me, as it felt as if I flushed the cash down the toilet.  Although I do not like the pricing of the better quality socks, one can generally find them on sale, which is generally the time in which I replace them if needed.  I have socks that were purchased over 4 years ago.  In reality I have saved money because I have not had to replace them so frequently.

Bra’s are a personal choice ladies.  For the small chested women, who do not need support, they can generally get away with the bra’s that do not have the same lift and support features.  It goes for the sport bras as well.  A good supportive sport bra will cost more, but will keep you in place during your workout, without pain, and look much more attractive for a long time.  Again, choose these garments for support and longevity, not because you can get three for $15.  And, you do not have to purchase the highest priced item.  There is always a price break between quality and price.  And, if you are able to watch sales, know what stores carry the brands you like and when they have sales, you have the opportunity of obtaining a product you will enjoy wearing at a price you are comfortable paying.

How do I shop for clothing in general, supplying my husband with shirts and jeans for work, clothes for myself, etc.??  First, when we have the resources and our bills are paid with the savings growing a little, meaning I have available money to spend, I will step out and check out the stores to see what they have for sale.  And, I always check out the clearance aisles for classics that never go out of style, even if out of season.  For my husband I have found $50 jeans in his size for $10-$15, in which I purchase 4-6 pair at once.  I have purchased some beautiful $30-$50 button down shirts he enjoys wearing off-season for less than $10.  I also purchase long-sleeved shirts and shorten them to short sleeve as this is his preferred way to wear them.  Clothing for my husband is not generally purchased to wear “now”, although he does select a few so that he can have something “new” to wear right away.  But, during times where the resources are extremely limited, he has new jeans, shirts, socks, etc., available to update and replace his worn out clothing without it affecting our current situation.   Plus, I always love that he looks nice no matter what our financial situation might be at the time.

This same philosophy applies to shopping for myself as well as my daughters when they are/were home.  There is nothing more rewarding than finding items we need at a fraction of the price.  We generally purchase staple items that are classics, with the occasional item to spruce up our wardrobe.  And, if while we are out shopping, we see something that catches our eye with a price tag that says “think about it” we will try it on to see if it works, and decide if it will go with other pieces within our wardrobe.

A quality winter coat lasting the years without boredom.

Winter coats and other winter wear.  My favorite of all savings was when I purchased two Kenneth Cole Wool Winter coats for less than $75!!  Yes, you read that right!  These coats had a joint SRP of $500.00!!  Talk about a savings!!  The best part was that I was in need of a new winter coat, and I was able to purchase a short coat and mid-length coat together within my $100 budget.  The fun part is that I continue to get compliments on them, even three years later.  And, I love wearing them!!  Kenneth Cole makes exquisite clothing, so I am humbled to have found such a savings.  It was all about the right time, at the right place.

The benefit of having sewing skills is that I can mend what we wear without having to pay someone else to do the work, or toss and replace otherwise good clothing that still has some life left.  In addition, I am able to create from fabrics I purchase on sale, using materials to create something others will not have.

Please understand, there are times when paying full-price works and is rewarding.  But, for me, it happens when I am free to do so, with no worry about bills and a savings account that has some reserve.  And usually it is for something I might have been searching for quite some time.

In addition, when we find we are tired of an item that is in good condition, we take them to Salvation Army or other charitable organization where we are able to obtain a receipt for our donation.  We use this towards a tax write-off at the end of the year.  Some years it is worth it, and other times no so much.  But, for the amount of time it takes to list things out, it is worth having the document on hand at year-end for tax preparation, and rewarding that we can pass along to others what we no longer have use for.

Regardless of what your clothing need is, sometimes it is a wise idea to shop in your closet before heading out.  And ask yourself, what you actually need and what colors and styles would compliment what you already have on hand.

Be wise with what you are blessed with.  Think twice before you spend your hard-earned resources on what you really need.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

 

Quality VS. Price

FrugalNotCheapQuote

How do you shop?  Are you a serious bargain hunter looking for the bottom dollar item?  Do you shop quality only?  Do you comparison shop, for value and savings?   Are you drawn to a store because of dollar value or quality value?

There are various ways in which people shop, yet today I would like to focus on quality vs. price.  As previously read in my blog “A Childs Lesson:  The Value of A Dollar”, I shared a method in which I taught my daughters how to shop for quality.  At a very young age, I would allow them to make that “must have, immediate gratification, impulse purchase” in order to teach them a lesson on the value of a dollar.  How quickly we can spend without focusing on what we are really purchasing.

As teens with their first jobs, young adults, young parents, and others: when you shop you spend resources that you yourself had to work hard to earn.  But when you hand over those earnings at the cash register, are you really taking a look at the value of what you are purchasing?

Today, so many of our products are being manufactured overseas.  In some cases we are getting some quality products, yet this is not always true of every product that is out on the market.

As consumers, we work hard, play hard and can so quickly carelessly spend.  Yet, do you also work hard at making the resources you earned, go to find quality products that you will appreciate for a reasonable length of time?  Today I do not wish speak on consumable products like groceries, but rather on the purchases that can also have a physical and/or emotional impact.

I happen to be a huge advocate for researching and being sure that what one is purchasing is of a quality nature.  From sneakers and undergarments to cars and furniture, etc.  I also value in the time span in which I plan to use and maintain such items.

Be wise with what you are blessed with.  Think twice then spend your hard-earned resources on what you really need.

~ Enjoy ~

Laura

Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor