The 5 Day Teen (Or Tween) Budget Challenge Update

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I’ve been meaning to update you all week on how the 5 Day Tween Budget Challenge went in our home, and goodness I learned so much! My daughter Caroline did a great job handling her budgeted money (she was highly motivated because she knew anything she saved would be hers to keep.) Here’s how she did:

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  • Tuesday – $2.25 at Family Dollar
  • Wednesday – $49.03 at Kroger and Sam’s Club (she cooked Chicken Pot Pie for dinner)
  • Thursday – $0 (she made pizza for dinner)
  • Friday – $15 at Panera (the kids had a babysitter while I worked during the day, and decided to go out to lunch with the sitter), Caroline cooked breakfast for dinner
  • Saturday – $28 for lunch at Culver’s (at her dad and brother’s request)
  • Total = $94.28 (which included a few splurges ~ she could have done it for less and I think would have if she hadn’t had a little peer pressure from her family!) :)

Do you know what I learned from this experiment?

 

Your kids are watching you.

 

(ahem.)

 

My kid is watching me.

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I wish you could have seen my surprise when Caroline walked into my office on Thursday morning and asked for my Kroger password so that she could login and check out their e-coupons.

 

And every time she went anywhere she checked our Entertainment and Enjoy the City Coupon Books to see if there was a deal or two there.

 

And while she was making dinner, she set the table, tidied up the kitchen, and had everyone wash their hands before heading in to eat.

 

Just like I do.

 

That girl is watching me.

 

Yikes.

 

As our kids are getting older (and probably because of the business that I run here on PPP), we talk (a lot) about our finances. But, giving them real access to how money works is new to them, so this has been a huge eye opener for our children. Even yesterday when shopping with my 15 year old, I realized he’s soaking it all in. (The thought of spending $25 on a t-shirt to him was crazy ~ he even made the comment that Goodwill is the best place to shop – ha!)

 

No matter where you are in your finances, your kids are not going to start out with what you have, so teaching them now how to handle their money can shape their financial future forever. I’ll keep you posted on how my son does on the challenge (I’m curious to see myself), but definitely recommend handing your kids the reigns on your family’s budget for a few days if they’re old enough so they can learn under your guidance at home.

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

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How To Slow Your Spending With One Simple Step

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Ever struggle with the temptation to purchase something on a whim?

 

You’re not alone.

 

However, this one simple step might just transform the way you spend.

 

Every single time you’re considering purchasing an item.

 

*Every time.*

 

Ask yourself:

 

In one year, will I be glad I purchased this?

 

In one year, will I be glad I spent these few dollars at the Dollar Tree?

 

In one year, will it matter that I splurged on more expensive meat at the grocery when another cut was on sale?

 

In one year, will I be happier because this t-shirt is in my closet? 

 

In one year, will this super cute pillow that I just need right now still be super cute? (heck, in one WEEK will it still be super cute? This one comes from experience . . . ahem.) 

 

In one year, will our family be glad we went out to eat at a more expensive restaurant when we could have eaten somewhere a little less pricey (or, even stayed at home?)

 

In one year, will my child still enjoy that toy they’re convinced they just need right now?

 

In one year, will I be thankful I paid $2 for that soda when I could have gotten water for free?

 

In one year, will I be glad my child had that darling designer outfit to wear to school?

 

In one year, will these jeans really be just the pair I need?

 

Yikes.

 

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Don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now.

 

We’re all at different places in our lives and in our finances, and you may be at a place where splurging on a yummy meal at a fancy restaurant or buying your kiddos super cute boutique clothes totally works for your budgetBut if you’re not in that place, this may be a time to reign things in so that your long term financial goals aren’t sacrificed for that short term “I want it now” mentality.

 

I’ll be honest, there are a few splurges that we enjoyed even when money was tight in our home that I’m totally thankful for. I don’t regret our vacations, some date nights with my husband, or a few special outfits for our children’s baby pictures. (Although I enjoyed those special outfits bought at consignment stores much more than the ones I paid full price for before I knew any better!)

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I do however look back and remember times when I really thought I just needed an item for our home, so I spent too much on items we absolutely didn’t needWithin months I was disappointed, and hated that we’d just thrown money away.

 

While it’s totally okay to splurge on a super cute top every once in awhile or a fun meal out, if you’re in a place where you really need to change your family’s finances, this may be the time to skip some of those splurges. Not only will it help your budget, it may just help de-clutter your home too. :)

 

So, the next time you’re at a store and just convinced you *need* a new item, take a minute to think about whether in one year you’ll be oh-so-glad you have it. Try saving those pennies towards your long term financial goals, and I’m betting you’ll be amazed at how quickly your spending slows down!

 

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7 Simple Steps To Strategic Coupon Shopping

 

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At least once a week I receive an email from someone who’s seen Extreme Couponing on TLC or just heard that couponing can save you  hundreds of dollars each month at the grocery store, but they’re not sure where to start. The truth is, saving oodles of money using coupons can happen, however it takes a lot (a LOT) of work.

 

And, coupon shopping trips on TLC aren’t always a great example of reality tv. :)

 

However, I promise you can save every single time you shop with coupons if you follow these seven simple steps to strategic coupon shopping, and transform your family’s financesWe’re not talking anything extreme, we’re talking simple, doable methods that will help you save a bundle every time you head to the grocery store.

 

Let’s get started, shall we? 😉

 

1. Learn the lingo.

When you’re looking at coupon sites some of the terms that seasoned couponers use may not make sense at all. Go HERE to learn all the coupon abbreviations so that you understand what folks are talking about and don’t get overwhelmed before you even start.

2. Start finding coupons.

There are tons of coupons you can easily use if you just know where to find them. I print most of my coupons (that way I can choose the coupons I want), however you can also find them in your Sunday paper, at your local grocery store (these are called peelies, blinkies or tearpads), and even sometimes in fliers mailed out to your home.

Also take advantage of ecoupons available at many large grocery chains, including Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Target, and many more. These are a great way to save when you don’t have much time to clip coupons, and usually can be downloaded to your smartphone.

3. Choose one store to use coupons at, and read every thing you can online about their store coupon policy.

Once you’ve chosen the store that you feel offers the best deals in your area, learn every single thing you can to find the deals there. While I love sharing as many deals as I can with you here on PPP, do your research and a little google searching to learn as much as you can about shopping that one store with coupons. There are tons of great forums out there (Hot Coupon World has always been my favorite), so be sure to check those too and see what people are chatting about in the store you’ve chosen.

 

We share store coupon matchups here on Passionate Penny Pincher for 25 grocery stores, so check to find your stores coupon matchups before you shop (you can even create a free printable grocery list to make shopping easier.) If you have a store in your area that doubles coupons I recommend trying to learn their coupon policy first, as they should offer some pretty extreme savings especially when you combine those double coupons with a few sales.

Easily Organize Coupons

4. Organize your coupons before shopping.

I’ve tried every method of organizing coupons known to man, but different methods work for different people (and what works for you now may no longer work in a few years!) Here are three different methods to try:

I currently file my coupon inserts by date, but actually use printed and e-coupons for most of my shopping trip, because those work best for me right now. Find which method works best for you, and stick with it once you’ve started!

6. Shop the sales ad (and don’t use a coupon just because you have it.)

Instead of going to the store with the mindset that you need certain items on your grocery list, plan to shop as much as you can based on what’s on sale along with coupons. If Saltines are on sale but Ritz crackers are on your list, you may need to change which item you purchase to get the most bang for your buck.

Eventually you’ll get a decent stockpile by shopping what’s on sale, and can “shop your stockpile” once you’ve rounded out the deals. Your goal is to buy as much as your grocery budget can afford when you combine a sale and a coupon to stock up on great deals. (Don’t have a grocery budget? Take a minute to check this out.)

And remember that while a high value coupon is exciting, you want to wait to use that coupon when the item is also on sale at its lowest price, so you “double dip” on your savings.  Have a high value coupon but don’t know where to find that item on sale? Check out this database where you can type in the item you’re looking for and it will tell you which stores have it on sale this week. Easy!

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 7. Take advantage of coupon “apps” to help you save even more, every time you shop.

In addition to coupon savings, you can save a bundle using coupon apps. Go HERE to see my favorite apps (and don’t miss this video on how you can save $250 each year with the Ibotta app alone!)

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5. Know your prices.

I know I’ve said this over ~ and over and over and over again, but it’s something I just don’t want you to miss. When you go into the grocery store, you have got to have a basic idea of what regular prices are on the items you purchase every week. This is the only way to know if a “deal” in the store really is a deal (so many stores inflate prices, so it’s hard to really know what you’re getting!)

Print a free copy of my Stock Up Price List (it needs to be updated, but will give you a good starting point!), or create your own list with the items you buy each week using this printable price book form.

 

Ready to shop?

Okie dokie, this weekI’m challenging you to choose only three deals at your favorite store to try and score with coupons. To help make life easier, these lists may help:

Are you ready? Let me know which three deals you get, and determine to change your family’s finances today!

 aldi

 

Looking for more posts like this? Here you go . . .

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15 Easy Ways To Earn 100 Dollars

 

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Feel overwhelmed by your finances? Here are a few simple ways to earn $100 a day and help you reach your long term financial goals.

 

 

Sell your stuff.

1. Garage sale – sell 100 items for $1 each.

Think of it as an everything’s $1 sale – if you have bigger stuff, sell it for more! You can also sell online in a local online yard sale, or take things to a consignment store. (See how I recently made $70 in just two hours this way!)

2. Sell books, electronics, and more on Amazon.

Amazon makes it super easy to sell things on line – just type in what you’d like to sell, ship it to them (for free!), and get paid with an Amazon gift card. Easy!

3. Sell gift cards you won’t use.

Have gift cards you’ll never use? Visit Cardpool.com where you can sell your gift cards. You won’t get the full face value but you will get a decent rate, so this is a great way to save if you can’t use a gift card you’ve been given.

4. Sell plasma.

Honestly, this would be a tough one for me to do but is a great way to help someone in need and earn a little cash. Check out this article to learn more.

 

Sell your services.

5. Babysit.

Have kids at home? Offer to babysit for a working mom to earn extra income.

6. Paint a room.

Love painting? Charge $100 to paint a room – odds are someone else would love to have that project done for them, and it’s an easy way to learn some extra cash!

7. Clean houses.

8. Do yard work.

Lots of folks have yard work that needs to be taken care of, especially in the summertime. Offer to weed, mulch or plant flower beds, and charge $100 for your work.

9. Walk a dog, or two.

Live in a neighborhood with many pets? Offer to walk your neighbors pets while they’re away at work each day.

10. Take online surveys or try out Swagbucks.

You won’t quickly earn $100 through online surveys, but each time you take a survey you can earn a dollar or two. The only site that I’ve consistently heard excellent reviews about is Pinecone Research ~ and don’t forget to take advantage of ways to earn for free on Swagbucks too!

11.  Mystery shopping.

If you shop regularly (and don’t have small children), you can sign up to be a mystery shopper at local stores in your area. Check out ways to earn as much as $25 per shopping trip over HERE.

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Simple ways to save $100

12. Take a spending “fast”.

For 5 days, determine as a family to spend nothing. No eating out, no grocery shopping, no entertainment, no nothing. Odds are you’ll come up with $100 pretty quickly! (We recently worked on seriously cutting back our expenses for one month, and it was amazing how much we saved simply by really focusing on trimming our budget as a family!)

13. Skip meals out for 2 weeks.

14. Give up cable.

If you’re willing to cut cable, you can save a bundle every month. With free movies from Amazon Prime or Netflix, you may be able to do it without missing many of your favorites, and you’ll save several hundred dollars over the course of one year too! (I’ve heard a Roku and

15. Cut back on housing expenses. 

Skimp on your cell phone plan. Cancel a home phone if you don’t need it. Call you internet provider to make sure you’re getting the best price on the service you need. Look at all of your monthly bills, and see if there are any bills you can change by either getting rid of them completely or making a phone call to get a reduced payment.

What other suggestions do you have on cutting your expenses? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!

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The Power of $3 A Day

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Did you know that just $3 each day can save you over $45,000 dollars? 

 

Let’s think about what $3 each day looks like. You could save . . . 

 

 

Curious how that $3 a day in savings is going to earn you a whopping $45,000?

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First, start out with the math.

 

$3 x 365 days a year = $1095

 

Take that $3 each day and apply it to your mortgage, and you’ll pay a little over $90 extra each month, or $1095 in a year.

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Now, head over to this fancy mortgage calculator and see how simply by choosing to pay a few extra dollars on your mortgage each day, you’ll save a whopping $45,000.

 

Crazy!

 

Recently I’ve been thinking quite a bit about ways to change our mortgage (since we just moved last summer and are 39 and 44, I hate the thought of paying on a mortgage until my husband is 73!) We knew when we moved that we’d work toward paying that mortgage off sooner, and are already making an extra payment each year, but would like to work a little more aggressively than that.

 

So, over the weekend I started talking about it with my husband, and did a little research this morning. It turns out that if we choose to make an extra house payment each quarter we’ll shave eleven years off our mortgage, so that’s what we’re planning to work towards right now.

 

Clipping a few coupons and saving at the grocery store is an easy way for us to focus on our long term financial goals instead of splurging too much on little things here and thereWhen you just look at the math and the long term potential that saving a little money each day can make, it’s so worth wisely spending your money each day!

 

Have you come up with other ways to save on your mortgage? I’d love to hear your tips ~ leave a comment to share! And, if you’re new to budgeting and just don’t know where to start, I highly recommend reading Dave Ramsey’s Book Financial Peace or Total Money Makeover to get started on the right track.

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16 Items You Should Be Buying On Amazon

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NOTE: If you use coupons on many items along with store sales ads, your prices may be less expensive than Amazon. HOWEVER, if you’re not willing to really clip coupons and watch those sales ads, Amazon may offer some easy savings for you.

Do you love shopping Amazon? For many of us, Amazon offers easy savings (and convenience) on thousands of items, delivered right to our door. But it’s important to know what items really are great prices, and which items are worth heading to your local store for. My general rule of thumb is to check Amazon for anything I would make a quick trip to Walmart for, because so many items end up being less money, with no stress. I love that!

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Here’s my list of 15 items you should (almost always) be buying on Amazon . . .

 

 

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1. Toilet paper. 

Amazon consistently offers great prices on toilet paper, just about every single day. While these savings may not be quite as good as shopping at your local grocery store with a coupon (although often they win!), they are frequently less than Sam’s or Costco, plus you get the convenience of having them delivered to your door. To make sure you’re getting the price, scan the “$.xx/count” on this page for the lowest price per count and check for any extra coupons they’re offering.

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2. Diapers, Swim Diapers & Pull Ups

Amazon’s prices on diapers are so good, unless you get a crazy fun deal at the drug stores using coupons. However, I’ve often calculated Amazon’s price per diaper and found them to beat even prices at local stores after coupons, so it’s definitely worth watching for their sales! To find the best price, do the math to find the lowest price per diaper on size 1 diapers HERE, and know that your price will go up per size.

 

(Typically I aim to find a deal priced around 10¢ per Size 1 diaper for Luvs, or 12¢ per diaper for Huggies or Pampers, after coupons and Amazon’s subscribe and save program.) 

 

3. Baby Wipes.

Occasionally local grocery stores offer a great price on smaller packed wipes after a high value coupon, but typically you can find baby wipes on Amazon from 1¢ to 2¢ per wipe after you subscribe and save (and clip whatever coupons they have available.) If you have babies or small children and go through large quantities of baby wipes, this is a great (easy!) way to save!

 

(Note: On Amazon subscribe and save items you’ll need to subscribe to shipment for an item, but can cancel your subscription once your order arrives in the subscription section of your Amazon account. I usually set mine to ship 6 months apart so I have plenty of time to cancel an order if I need to!)

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4. Books.

Amazon has fantastic prices on most books just about every day, and if you don’t mind buying used you can save a bundle on those as well! Be sure to note shipping prices on used books though as those sometimes negate the savings on the book themselves ~ go HERE to search Amazon’s extensive book selection.

5. Blu Rays & DVDs.

There are hundreds of deals every day on DVDs and Blu Rays at Amazon, and you can find a huge selection available for less than $5! These often go up and down in price, so be sure to follow the PPP Facebook page to keep up with quick price breaks when they happen.

 

4. Department store makeup.

If you wear department store makeup (Estee Lauder, Clinique, Lancome, etc), and an item you need is not in “gift” at your local store (where they offer a special free gift when purchasing), Amazon is a great way to easily get your makeup. I order my Estee Lauder from them just about all the time (my one big splurge!), mostly because it saves me a trip to the mall and it’s just convenient.

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5. Drug store brand makeup on sale with coupons.

Amazon has a huge selection of makeup that goes on sale pretty heftily every month with their special coupons. Right now there’s a $1 off Cover Girl Makeup coupon, valid on eye shadow, mascara, blush and more, and when you add that to the subscribe and save discounts you can get them for as low as $1.35, delivered to your door. I usually can’t beat those savings even with coupons, so this is a great convenient way for me to save without leaving my house!

 

6. Personal care items.

If you watch Amazon’s extra coupon savings, they regularly have digital coupons on shampoo, conditioner, feminine care products, body wash and more. By watching for those savings I’ve gotten them on sale for substantially less than I would pay at Walmart, and of course love that they bring them to my door! (For an idea of the savings you can see on these, go HERE and HERE. They don’t happen all the time, but if you subscribe to PPP daily emails I’ll be sure to alert you when I see these savings.)

 

7. Select cleaning products.

There are dozens of items that Amazon offers high value coupons on each month, which offer some great savings (and prices just about always less than Sam’s or Costco – so you don’t need a membership!) Here are a few of my favorite deals that come up fairly regularly on Amazon . . .

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8. Toys & games.

There are typically great deals on Amazon on toys and games, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to do some research before ordering. I usually compare the Amazon prices to those at Walmart and Kohl’s to verify they really are a great deal, but most of the time Amazon either meets or exceeds their savings.  (Not always though, so definitely do your homework!)

 

You can also check out camelcamelcamel.com to see a price history of items on Amazon to know if you really are getting a fantastic price.

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9. Gift cards.

Amazon offers special Lightning Gift Card deals regularly, which typically will save $5-$10 off a $50 gift card. Combine that savings with a restaurant coupon, and those savings can really add up!

10. Pet toys (not pet food.)

I have consistently found great prices on pet toys at Amazon, compared to the crazy high price you’ll often see at specialty pet stores. I haven’t seen decent savings on pet food, but if you’re looking for just toys you can save a bundle. (Our dog’s favorite is this one – he’s loved it)!

 

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11. Housewares.

Not every item at Amazon is always at the lowest price in their housewares department, but if you do a little research you can often get great prices by waiting for a deal. I’ve purchased most of my Pyrex, all of my pots and pans, and of course my crockpot when they’ve been deeply discounted on Amazon. 

(Not sure how to find the best deal? I watch Amazon deals every day for you – go HERE to see a running list, and subscribe to free daily emails so you never miss these deals.)

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12. Gold Box Daily deals.

Amazon has fantastic Gold Box Deals available every day, and they just about always offer them for the lowest price that sale item has ever dropped to. Go HERE to see today’s Gold Box deals.

13. Daily Lightning deals.

In addition to Amazon’s Gold Box deals they also have Lightning deals that last just a few hours each day, and can offer some pretty substantial savings. Go HERE to check those out.

14. Free eBooks.

Amazon has hundreds (hundreds!) of free ebooks available every day – go HERE to see what’s included today.

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15. Free movies courtesy of Amazon Prime.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member (the cost is $99 per year), stream hundreds of free movie and tv shows from your computer, or even on the Amazon Prime Video App. I use this almost every morning at the gym (have watched Downton Abbey, Parenthood, and dozens of movies on it), and love that I don’t have to have a separate Netflix account to watch these.

16. Free books, photo storage, and music courtesy of Amazon Prime.

You can also enjoy one free Kindle book download each month from Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library when you’re an Amazon Prime Member (works on Kindle apps too), as well as free photo storage, free Amazon Prime Music. If you’re not sure about paying for Amazon Prime, you can try it out for free for one month to see what you think. 

Having Amazon Prime definitely makes me more apt to use Amazon (which saves me running out for just one item when I need it), and is a huge time saver for me. I do think you can sometimes get better deals if you have time to use coupons matched up with the sales ad (use this search engine HERE to always find the best deals), but often Amazon works for me!What else would you add to the list, or what items do you think don’t work for you? Leave a comment to share – I love hearing from you!

I do make a commission on Amazon purchases which help support the work here on PPP everyday – if you’d prefer not to shop through my links feel free to visit Amazon directly – I totally understand but really do love Amazon savings so thought I’d share this list with you!)See more Amazon Deals, and remember when you subscribe and save to 5 or more items in one month, you’ll also save an additional 15% on all of your subscribe and save purchases.

Remember that pricing on Amazon is subject to change at any time.

 

This post contains affiliate links which help support this site.  See my disclosure policy to learn more.

Join Amazon Prime for one month free – Watch Over 40,000 Movies for free plus get free shipping on thousands of items

 

 

 

 

 

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16 {Easy} Ways to Save $1000 On Your Next Road Trip

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Planning a vacation this summer? It’s so easy for even short vacations to bust your budget, but there are a ton of simple ways to save every single day on the road. Our family loves to travel (in fact writing this post has me already dreaming up summer trips), so finding things we can do to save along the way makes it a wee bit easier around here.

 

Here are a few things that have worked for us . . . 

{Note: Savings based on a family of 5, 2 adults, 1 teenager, and 2 children. Estimated trip is 5 nights long and includes 6 tanks of gas.}

 

Save on Food

1. Pack a picnic lunch and stop at a rest area while driving. (This is one of our favorite ways to save and best vacation memories ~ we always pack a frisbee so the kids can run around while we stop!)

  • savings: $30 each stop x 2 = $60

2. Shop a local Aldi store while traveling for extra groceries on the road.

  • savings: up to $60 depending on the amount of groceries you purchase

3. Take advantage of Restaurant.com gift cards for nicer restaurant meals.

  • savings: typically $25 off a restaurant $50 gift card – be sure to note that they typically require a minimum amount spent so you’ll want to read the fine print prior to ordering, and be sure to check out extra discount codes before you purchase (usually available on their main page)

4. Eat a meal at Sam’s or Costco if you have a membership.

  • savings: $20-$30, depending on the size of your family x 2 = $60

5. Pack breakfast bars and eat lunch early to skip buying a full meal for breakfast. 

  • savings: $25 x 2 = $50

6. Pack drinks for the road instead of buying them at restaurants or gas stations.

  • savings = $30 per day x 5 days = $150

7. Take advantage of kids eat free restaurants (find restaurant options HERE and HERE)

  • savings = $10 per meal x 3 = $30 
Save on Hotels

8. Check Priceline to get the best prices on hotels each night, or VRBO if you’re staying in a condo. (May also want to consider staying instead in a hotel like Hampton Inn that offers complimentary breakfast, which would save around $25 for a family of 5.)

  • savings: up to $50 off each night, estimated savings based on $25 per night = $125

9. Visit a friend or relative while traveling and spend the night with them

  • savings = $100 per night x 1 = $100
Save on Gas

10. Use the Gas Buddy App to find the best price on gas in your area.

  • savings: up to $4 per tank of gas x 6 = $24

11. Take advantage of fuel points at Kroger or Giant Eagle (or other stores) with their summer fuel perks programs.

  • savings: up to $1 off per gallon or $17 per tank of gas x 2 = $34

 

Save on Entertainment

12. Instead of visiting expensive museums or aquariums, take a family friendly hike (find family hiking options HERE),

visit state capitals along the way, 

check out college campuses to give your kids a peek of college life, 

or tour local factories that offer free tours. 

  • savings = $100, depending on cost of museum

 

13.  Check out Groupon in the town you’re visiting and see if they’re offering any special discounts on activities you’d like to do.

  • savings = $25 (will vary by offer)

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14. Pack “treat” bags for the road using Dollar Tree items to help your kids manage longer driving distances

  • savings = $20 compared to purchasing things along the way

and skip souvenirs and buy postcards instead to create a souvenir booklet or let your kids pick up free local maps at rest areas to remember where they’ve visited

  • savings: $10-$15 per souvenir x 3 kids x 2 = $90

 

Save on Miscellaneous Extras

15. Get books and DVDs from your local library to read on the trip.

  • savings: $45 on reading materials for your trip

16. Take sample size laundry detergent with you so you don’t have to purchase it while traveling (great way to use up those free sample size items!)

  • savings = $10

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TOTAL SAVINGS = $1008  . . . it really adds up!
Do you have any other tips on saving while on a road trip? I’d love to hear them ~ leave a comment to share!
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20 Items You Need To Buy At Aldi (And What You Should Skip At Your Aldi Store Too)

 

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Do you have an Aldi in your area? If so, there are so many items that you can easily save on, but definitely some things you should never (ever?) purchase while you’re there. Watch the video to get an idea, then read through the list and share your comments too.

 

Here are the 20 items you need to buy at Aldi . . .

1. Produce included in their sale ad each week. Most of Aldi’s produce prices are very reasonable, but the items included in their sale ad are where you’ll see the best deals. Make sure to check to the quality of the produce before purchasing (it’s definitely hit or miss at some stores), but I’ve been pleased with most of the produce I’ve found at our local Aldi!

2. Bananas ($.44/lb – will vary by area)

2. Spices and seasonings ($.99)

3. Flour and sugar ($1,99), including whole wheat flour ($2.79), brown sugar ($1.29), and powdered sugar ($1.29)

4. Imitation vanilla ($1.99)

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5. Minced garlic (1.99)

6. Semi Sweet Morsels ($1.59)

7. Yeast 3 pack ($.79)

8. Honey ($4.99)

9. Maraschino Cherries ($1.59)

10. Pancake Syrup ($1.59)

11. Milk ($2.29 – will vary by area)

12. Eggs ($1.49 – will vary by store)

14. Cheese (string cheese, shredded cheese – unless your local grocery store has  a great sale)

15. Flour Tortillas ($1.19)

16. Fruit Gel Bowls ($1.79)

17. Chips ($1.69) & Salsa ($1.89)

18. Hazelnut Spread (aka Nutella – tastes just like the real thing, $1.99)

19. Snack Items – pretzels ($1.29), bagged chips ($1.49), Chocolate Cream Cookies (basically Oreos, $1.69)

20. Gluten Free & Organic Foods. Aldi has been adding a ton of gluten free and organic foods to their stores recently, and their prices seem very reasonable on these. If you shop for those items, it’s definitely worth swinging by to check them out!

 

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So, curious what I don’t think you should buy at Aldi? Here are my top five items . . .

1. Diapers. Pampers were $24.79 for size 3 at my store or 23¢ per diaper. You can easily shop at Amazon where the same size Pampers are 16¢ per diaper when you clip the $3 off coupon in the middle of the page and choose to subscribe and save (see even better prices right now on diapers at Amazon over HERE)

2. K Cups. The Barrisimo Brand K Cups were $4.79 for a 12 pack at my store, which makes them $.39 each. Amazon sells these regularly for $.33 per K Cup, and you may find an even better deal if you wait for a sale at your local grocery store.

3. Pringles. Pringles were $1.45 at my store – you can usually find these on sale for around $1 if you wait for a sale.

4. Coca Cola 12 packs. These were $4.45 for the 12 pack, and I’ve frequently seen them on sale at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid for less than $3 per pack, or get the generic store brand at Kroger, Publix or your local grocer to save even more!

5. Meat. Although I’ve heard so many folks questioning the safety of Aldi meat, I really believe it is just fine. However, we don’t buy meat at Aldi because I consistently find better prices at my local grocery store, as well as local specialty stores like Fresh Thyme, Sprouts, and Earth Fare.

For me even the Aldi sales aren’t good enough to make me switch over, so I’ll keep purchasing meat at other stores. (Make sure you know what a good price is – get my free stock up price list HERE so you never pay too much!)

 

 

Okie dokie ~ what would you add to the list? My rule of thumb is to never purchase name brands at Aldi because they consistently seem very high to me, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one. Leave a comment to share your thoughts and what I’ve missed – I love hearing from you!

 

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Looking for more posts like this? Here you go . . .

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My Teensy Tiny Couponing Pet Peeve

 

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Maybe like a few of you out there, I have a teensy-tiny couponing pet-peeve.

 

Over (and over, and over. . .) I hear people complain that they just don’t have time to coupon.  They work, have busy families, spend time driving kiddos to every activity in town, so couponing just can’t happen.

 

I get that.  Really, I do.

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However, I spend one to two hours each week (clipping, sorting, and shopping) to save an average of $60 – $80 each week. Now I don’t know about you, but for me making $30 to $40 per hour for something I have to do anyways is a pretty decent hourly rate!

 

(See an idea of what my grocery trips look like HERE – you can also read more about our family’s 2015 grocery budget HERE.)

 

Now, I don’t work outside of our home, but I do spend more hours than I care to admit sharing deals with you guys. :)  I also have three busy kids, a home to (somewhat!) keep up with, meals to prepare, and a hubby to take care of. (Okay, truth is he doesn’t require much care and he’s an amazing help to me!)

 

Before I started PPP, I spent hours hunting down every deal in town, easily saved 70-90% on every grocery trip and shopped at least 3-4 days a week.  But the reality is, I can’t do that these days, and something has to give.  So, here are a few tips that I use to pinch a penny when I’m also in a pinch for time (which is just about all the time!)

 

 

  1. Determine the very best store to use coupons at in your area.  Believe it or not, you don’t need to hit every drug store, grocery store & supermarket in town to coupon well.  I typically shop each week at Kroger, and supplement my trips with a quick Fresh Thyme, Aldi’s, Sam’s Club run for milk & fresh produce, but that’s it.  (I really do love a good CVS or Walgreens trip, but only do those when the deals are fantabulous!) :)
  2. Learn exactly where things are in that store, and organize your coupons before you shop.  If you send me to a grocery store other than my normal Kroger (even another Kroger in town!), my stress level goes way up. Seriously.  I also tend to save less, because I’m not sure where things are at, and am tempted to look at things I don’t need!  By knowing your store well, you’ll find deals you need, skip over the ones you don’t need, and get through the store pretty quickly (a huge time saver!)  And, most items go on sale at a decent price on a 6-8 week rotation at all grocery stores, so if it’s on sale this week at Kroger and you’re a Publix or Meijer shopper, odds are that deal will come to those stores next week!
  3. Use good coupon matchup websites!  As you probably know, there are zillions of coupon blogs and websites out there for you to choose from.  Trying to coupon on your own without help is just crazy when so many folks do hours of work for you!  Choose your store (click on “Store Deals” at the top of PPP), find the deals on your favorite coupon site (I hope it’s Passionate Penny Pincher!), and make sure to read through all the deals at your favorite store before you shop.
  4. Print your coupons.  My coupon binder is a mess right now.  There are coupons everywhere, I have at least 15 inserts that need to be clipped, and I’m not sure there will be any time to fix it real soon.  But I also have a home that needs some Christmas decorating, a few children that need dinner, and a to-do list that’s a mile long.  So to make my life easier, I take advantage of our 10 Minute or Less Printable coupon list (we have them for Target, Kroger and Publix), and head to the store. It’s an easy way to manage my love of saving even with limited time, and really works for me (which is why Shannon works so hard to put them together for all of us to use!) Also, be sure to take advantage of e-coupons as those are just an easy way to save.
  5. Recognize your limitations.  For the longest time when I started using coupons, I was incredibly competitive and wanted to coupon better than anyone else. (I don’t even know who I was comparing myself to!)  Over the last few  years I’ve realized that my time is valuable too, so if I save $50 in an hour (or almost $47, like I did tonight), that’s enough for me.  If I spend an extra hour or two running all over town to save an extra $2-$3, my “per hour” rate goes way down, which just isn’t worth it to me at this point!  So, determine how much time you want to spend, save as much as you can during that time, and LET. IT. GO. (Really!)
  6. Decide to do it.  I know that there are some of you out there who truly don’t have an hour to spend stressing over coupons each week, and if that’s you, I really do understand.  But, if you do have an hour or two each week to shop, go ahead, decide to save, and do the best you can with the time you’ve been given.  (You’ve got to go to the grocery store anyways, so why not do it with a plan in place?) If all else fails, determine to really shop the sales ad. (That alone is a huge savings!)
  7. Don’t get overwhelmed because other folks on TV do it better than you.  Do the best you can do.  Save what you can save, and don’t worry about what anyone else does.  A penny saved truly is a penny earned, whether it be $20 worth of pennies or $200 worth of pennies!  (And, much of what you see on TV isn’t “reality TV” in any way:  so do not compare yourself to that.)
Are they ever going to put me on TLC’s Extreme Couponing (or heaven forbid, Extreme Cheapskates? Yikes!)  
Nope.  Do I care?  Absolutely not!  I saved 69% on my grocery bill, got items that we really do need, and did it all in an hour.  I’m pretty happy with that!  And yes, it’s definitely fun to have one crazy amazing grocery coupon trip.  But, my bill was $21.49 tonight, I saved $46.93, and it took me an hour.  Woohoot!

 

So, now that my rant is over (aren’t you glad that’s through?), I’d love to hear how YOU did saving at the grocery store this week.  I promise, after years of penny pinching it is so worth it!

 

New to couponing? Start out by checking out all our store coupon matchups over HERE, and also take a minute to visit my beginners series over HERE.

 

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7 Best Money Saving Apps

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There are a ton of great money saving apps available, but if you’re like me it can be overwhelming to decide which to use. (There are so many choose from!) I only use a select few ~ here are the ones I take advantage of on a regular basis . . .

 

1. Ibotta

Watch this quick video to learn more about Ibotta savings.

Ibotta allows you to earn real money through Paypal at several of your favorite stores, including Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, Publix, King Soopers and more. After purchasing an item with an Ibotta rebate, just take a picture of your receipt and Ibotta will credit your account – you get real money via PayPal once you’ve reached a minimum of $5 in your account.

2. Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is similar to Ibotta – each Thursday they release new money saving offers at your favorite stores. When you purchase one of the items just take a picture of your receipt and you’ll receive a check in the mail when your account reaches $20.

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3. Snap from Groupon

Similar to Ibotta and Checkout 51, Snap from Groupon offers rebates on regular purchases you make already, and when you take a picture of your receipt you’ll receive money back in your account. Once you hit $20 you’ll receive a check, and you can actually double (or triple) dip on deals using Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Snap from Groupon. Love that!

 

4. Favado

Favado is my go to resource for grocery deals when I’m shopping at the grocery store. It includes all the lists here on PPP, and while I prefer to look at the full list online before heading out, this is a great way to save when I’m in a hurry. (Read more about Favado and how to use it over HERE.)

 

5. Coupon Sherpa

I use Coupon Sherpa when I’m out and about to take advantage of retail savings. Before heading into any store, I do a quick search on Coupon Sherpa to see which coupons are available to pull up on my phone and easily save without pre-clipping coupons at home.

 

6. Groupon

I love having the Groupon app on my phone – if we’re out and looking for some savings on a meal, I always check out local Groupon offers to see if any of them will work for us. Most offers allow you to purchase just a few minutes before using, so you can take advantage of the Groupon deal right when you need it.

7. Amazon 

Goodness, I love the Amazon App. Before purchasing just about anything other than food I scan the barcode using my Amazon App to see how the price at a local store stacks up. This helps me get a ballpark figure for the retail price, and makes sure that I’m not paying too much to have something in a hurry.

 

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Walmart’s Savings Catcher

I’m not including this in my top seven, because honestly I’m not a Walmart shopper and don’t use this one at all. However, if you regularly shop Walmart you absolutely need to have this one to make saving at Walmart easy! Just load your receipt to your phone, and if another store in your area beats Walmart’s price you’ll get the difference in a Walmart gift card. Go HERE to read more.

 

The one app that I would love to see but just haven’t found yet is a really good app for free kids meals. I know this one is hard because restaurants vary so much by city, but that’s one that I think would come in so handy as an app! I’ve tried a few and haven’t been all that impressed with them, but if you’ve found one I’d love to know which one you’re using.

 

So what are your favorite money saving apps? Leave a comment to share which apps have worked for you ~ I’d love to hear which ones you would add to the list!

 

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