7 Things You Need To Know Before Bidding At Priceline or Hotwire

 

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original photo credit 

 

This weekend on a whim we decided to take our two older kids on a trip to visit the University of Michigan, Ikea:) and a Detroit Tigers gameWe hadn’t yet been there since moving up to Ohio, and with a free weekend decided we’d better take advantage of a few days off with our kids!

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On Friday night while at dinner we decided to try Hotwire for our hotel room (thinking that since it was such late notice, we might score a great deal.) We typically stick to Hampton or Fairfield Inn (we love that they’re pretty consistently clean, and have free breakfast for our kids!) For whatever reason though, we thought Hotwire might get us a more upscale room at a decent rate.

 

We spent $130 for a “four star” hotel, supposedly similar to a Hyatt or Hilton. Thank heavens that hotel was only available for one night, because guys, it was bad. There’s no way on earth that hotel would be similar to a Hyatt, and after waiting on the phone for 30 minutes to speak with someone from Hotwire, I was told there was nothing I could do other than complain to the hotel management.

 

Here are a few things we learned from the experience . . . 

 

1) Before heading out, determine what area of town you want to stay in and know what regular hotel prices in those cities normally go for.
2) Check a forum like Bidding for Travel or Better Bidding and read all the details in the forum for the area you want to stay in.

I did a little research on these today, and there is a ton of great information in these forums if you’re willing to do a little reading! I started my search by finding the state I was looking for, then I read through various threads. What I love is that you can see what other folks are paying, so you’ll go in with an educated guess!

Note that not every single hotel offered by Priceline or Hotwire is listed on their hotel by state lists. (For example, the hotel that we ended up getting through Hotwire was not included on the list of possible hotels in the area we stayed on Bidding for Travel or Better Bidding.) However you’ll at least get a general idea of what hotels are competing for your bid.

 

From what I can tell, by carefully reading the regular price and amenities on the hotels you’re interested in you may be able to figure out which hotel you’re bidding on. Definitely do your research – I hadn’t heard of these before but am excited to try out Hotwire or Priceline again now that I can make a more educated decision!

3) Visit Hotel Deals Revealed’s Winning Bids page to see which hotels people have won on Priceline and Hotwire before deciding your hotel.
4) Always check the details.

We walked into the room, and sure enough it had one queen bed.  Clearly that wasn’t going to work for our group of four (my 15 year old is way taller than my husband and my 12 year old daughter was with us too ~ there was no way to make us all fit!) However, in Hotwire’s defense, I didn’t clearly check to make sure the room had two queen beds, so that was my mistake.

 

Getting an extra roll away bed cost us $10, so now our budget hotel room jumped up to $140. And, it wasn’t even especially cleanEek!

 

4) Read the fine print.

While my husband was at the front desk, two girls ahead of him in line who’d also booked through Hotwire apparently failed to read the fine print that stated they needed to be 21 to stay in the room. Even though they’d already paid for the room directly through Hotwire, the hotel refused to let them stay, meaning they had nowhere to go (and were out the cost of the hotel!)

 

Now, they may not be able to rent a hotel room at many places at that age (I’m not sure of the rules on that?), however their money would normally be refunded had they booked through the hotel directly.  Not the case with a discount service like Hotwire ~ so be aware!

 

5) Check for extra fees.

On this trip parking was included in the rate of the hotel, however we’ve used Priceline before and had a fee of up to $15 tacked on to our nightly rate.  Be sure to check for any extra fees before booking to make sure your “deal” really is a deal. 

 

Also, if you’re going to need your computer while you’re traveling, be sure to make sure they include free internet access. If they don’t, you could add as much as $15 – $20 per night, which really adds up!

6) If you’re staying for more than a night or two, you may want to check out VRBO.

For longer stays and higher end condos, we love VRBO. You can get a pretty good idea of what the condo is like by comparing other units in the same building, and sometimes get additional discounts just by asking for them directly from the owner.

6) There’s a lot to be said for a Hampton or Fairfield Inn’s free breakfast. :)

Saturday morning after leaving the hotel we spent $25 on breakfast for our family. While that wasn’t the end of the world (we love going to breakfast restaurants!), it definitely added a few pennies to the cost of our trip. Saturday night we stayed at a Fairfield and had a super clean room, cozy beds, and a decent breakfast included, all for $105. Certainly not anything fancy, but it worked for us!

 

We’ve used Priceline in the past and been lucky enough to get decent rooms, however I feel like both Hotwire and Priceline’s rating systems are a little off. (Their idea of what matches a 4 star hotel just isn’t what my idea would be!) I’m excited though to find some better ways to research deals that I just didn’t know before going in, and am willing to try out bidding one more time now that I know there are better ways to get an educated guess.

 

Have you used Priceline or Hotwire before for hotel stays? I’d love to hear if it’s worked out for you ~ leave a comment to share your experience (I love hearing from you!)
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Free Martha Stewart Magazine Subscription

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Here’s another fun free magazine offer! Request a free one-year subscription to Martha Stewart Magazine from Rewards Gold. You will have to complete a short survey, but I’ve received Martha Stewart for years this way. . . great way to get a fun freebie! :)

 

Love a bargain? Find more freebies HERE.

 

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25 Days of Temporary Transformations Day 11: Fabric Wall Treatment Using Starch

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Check out today’s temporary transformation fix! If you’re living in a rental and not sure how to update it without spending much money (or putting holes in the wall . . . ), this series is for you.

 

See how Sara at Sincerely Sara D Everything Emily Blog transformed plain white walls with fabric and starch (that’s amazing!) The results are so pretty – go HERE to check it out!

 

25 Days of Temporary Transformations Series:

 

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Pyrex 19 Piece Set $44.99 (My Favorite Set!) + Lowest Price On Cuisinart Nonstick Skillet

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Amazon just dropped the price on this Cuisinart Nonstock Skillet to $33, which is the lowest price it’s been at! It has excellent reviews, and ships free with Amazon Prime or Free Super Saver Shipping.

 

I also just noticed this price is back again! Right now at Amazon you can get this Pyrex 19 piece set for $44.99, which is the lowest price it’s been in quite awhile. I actually bought this set two years ago on a Lightning Deal during Christmas when it dropped for under an hour to $30, but since then I’ve only seen it priced at $50+.

What I love about this set is that it includes three big glass bowls with lids (which I use for storing leftovers and fresh fruit), as well as smaller glass dishes for serving. It also has a pie plate and four baking dishes, all with lids as well! It really is probably one of my favorite purchases of all time on Amazon, so go HERE to check it out if you’ve been looking for a new Pyrex set.

 

(You may also want to see how I finally de-gunked my Pyrex last week ~ they look brand new now!)

 

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.  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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12 {Easy} Ways To Volunteer With Your Kids

12 EASY ways to VOLUNTEER with your kids

 

Last Friday night on the spur of the moment I decided to sign up to help at a local Free Store that serves a hot meal and gives free clothing to local folks in need. I’d heard from several people that it was a great place to volunteer with children, and goodness, I’m so glad we decided to do it.

 

When I realized we had a free Saturday morning, I went online to the Free Store Ministries website and noticed they had a few openings to help that day. I asked my girls if they’d be interested (and was thrilled that they both were!), and we headed out Saturday morning.

 

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We spent the morning helping serve food, and the girls helped clean up the children’s toy area as well as work on a few odd jobs around the store. They both said they’d love to go back again, and it’s brought up so many valuable discussions this week. While my kids learned quite a few things on the trip, I think it may have been even more valuable for me. Just getting out and doing something for someone besides my own little family was such a blessing!

 

The reason I’m sharing this is not because I did anything right – in fact, as a busy mom with three kids, I really haven’t done all that much in the way of volunteering. While I’ve helped out at church a bit and we donate to food pantries regularly, we don’t often go far outside our comfort zone, because honestly I’m not always sure where to start.

 

But after helping out for just a few hours this weekend I realized it’s so simple to do, and volunteers are needed everywhere. I simply didn’t know how to easily connect with a place to serve (especially with young kids), so I’ve hunted down a few easy ways to volunteer with your kids. If you’ve come up with other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

For younger children (7 and under)

1. Donate to a local food pantry.

This is one we’ve done since my kids were babies, and it’s been a great way to easily help someone when my kids were too young to really volunteer. For us, it’s just a super easy way we can make all that coupon clipping worth it, and it’s so easy to do. I keep a bag in my pantry for items to donate, and drop them off every few weeks at our local food pantry. If you’re not sure where to find a food pantry in your area, start HERE.

2. Help serve in your local Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels has several different areas you can help with, and if your children are young consider delivering meals in your community. They also need servers to help serve in community centers in some areas, so if your children are a little older that may be a great way to help those in need.

3. Donate food to a local adult group home.

When we lived in Huntsville, there was a small adult group home that was always in need of food pantry staples. I took my kids to drop off food a few times, and it was great for them to see the residents and tour the building, and I know my friend Shannon donates there all the time. It’s just an easy way for our children to see a glimpse of those in need, and the people love seeing the kids when we stop by!

If you’re not sure where to start, contact a local church who may be able to point you in the right direction of places like this to give, or call a few group homes in your area. These aren’t as easy to find but they are out there, and can use your donations so much!

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4. Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

This is such a wonderful way for small children to get involved in giving, no matter how young they are. Take a few minutes to watch some of the videos sharing the stories behind Operation Christmas Child with your kids ~ those helped our own understand so much better why we give through that ministry! 

 

5. Have your kids color pictures and deliver them to a local nursing home.

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6. Bake cookies or brownies and share them with your local fire department or police station.

 

7. Help kids make fleece blankets to donate to homeless shelters in the winter time. 

8. Donate school supplies to your local school or to a homeless shelter.

When those back to school sales start, take advantage of the great deals and grab a few supplies to share with those in need. We’ve donated those before at a local homeless shelter that houses children, but they’re also great to donate to your local school or even an inner city school that could use those extra supplies.

For older kids (ages 8 and up)

All of the ones above and . . . 

9. Volunteer to serve food at a local homeless shelter.

Go HERE to find a local homeless shelter in your community – many homeless shelters have website where you can sign up directly to volunteer, or call one in your area to see if how to get involved.

10. Help out at a Ronald McDonald House or help work on a Habitat for Humanity home.
11. Host a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
12. Donate rice (for free) through the Free Rice program.

I came across this one and couldn’t believe it was true (so I did some searching), but your older child can actually work on their vocabulary and send rice to those in need all at the same time. Go HERE to try it out (I was pretty impressed, and am going to have my kids start working on that one today!)

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I know there are dozens of others way out there to volunteer with kids, but hopefully this gives you a good starting point! If you’ve had great experiences volunteering with your kids I’d love to hear about it ~ leave a comment to share. (I love hearing from you!) 😉

 

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25 Days of Temporary Transformations Day 8: Create A Pantry

 

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Check out today’s temporary transformation fix! If you’re living in a rental and not sure how to update it without spending much money (or putting holes in the wall . . . ), this series is for you.

 

See how Megan at ForRent.com transformed her laundry room into a makeshift pantryHonestly this is the best pantry I’ve seen in any house (and definitely a rental!), so it’s a great idea for anyone who needs more storage space! Go HERE to check it out.

 

25 Days of Temporary Transformations Series:

 

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7 Stores You Need To Shop When Decorating On A Budget

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You all know I love fluffing up our home (even though I’m far from a decorator!), but home decor gets pretty expensive way too fast!  I’ve found several stores though that really help me to decorate our home on a budget, and they may be places you haven’t considered yet. Check these out . . .

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1. Goodwill or a local thrift store.

You will be amazed at the amount of money you can save if you’re willing to slap a little paint on some thrift store finds. You won’t necessarily find something every time you shop, but keep your eyes open for good lines and you never know what you may find! (See a few of my favorite thrifted finds HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.)

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2. Your local craft stores.

Hobby Lobby offers 50% off sales on the entire store just about every other week, so if you see something you love that’s not on sale, wait a week or two and odds are that price will be drastically reduced. Be sure to also take advantage of their weekly 40% off coupon if you need something in a pinch that’s not on sale this week!

 

love Michael’s especially for their dollar bins but they also have great decor throughout their store! They almost always offer a coupon or two, so go HERE to see what they’ve added this week.

 

Also watch for coupons at Joann’s and Hancock – some of these stores will accept competitor coupons as well, so it’s worth taking a minute to ask to make sure you save every time you shop!

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3. The Dollar Tree.

The Dollar Tree has so many items to decorate with, especially for seasonal decor! If you’re looking to fluff up your home for birthday parties, baby showers, the 4th of July, Christmas or even Easter, the Dollar Tree should be your first place to shop. And they have great glassware, so if you want items to decorate a pretty table, you can easily find what you need for just a buck, no coupons required!

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4. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s or Home Goods (and Kohl’s too!)

Folks, not much makes me happier than a walk through TJMaxx or Home GoodsWhile not everything there is a crazy good deal, if you keep your eyes open you might just find a steal, and they have so many unique items that can really make a statement!

 

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Kohl’s also has some fun deals on housewares (especially for outdoor decorating,) Be sure to keep up with current Kohl’s coupons to get the best deals, and if you can shop off season (or at least late in the season), you’ll save a bundle there.

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5. Garage sales, Craigslist or local online yardsale groups.

One man’s junk really is another man’s treasure, and you never know what you can find at a yard sale that might be just perfect in your home with a little tlc! My neighbors sold two of the nightstands above at a garage sale years ago (they’d made them in high school shop class.) I bought them for a few dollars, and have painted them three times depending on the room they’re in!

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6. Your own closets.

Have you stored some decor in a closet because you’re not sure if it still works or not? Walk through those storage spaces and see if you can re-use what you already have in a different spot. Also, really think about grabbing some spray paint, because you may be able to use what you already have at home in a new way if with after a quick spray in a new shade!

 

Last fall we re-did my in-law’s hearth using mostly items they already had at home. My father-in-law had kept this old lantern in their barn since he was a kid, and it looked great on their mantle (and was completely free!)

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7. Your backyard.

Think I’m crazy? Think again! If you have flowers in bloom in the summertime, bring a few buds in to brighten up your home. Even every day boxwood branches trimmed and added to mason jars add free greenery, and instantly brighten up your room!

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In the winter, use fresh greenery to decorate for the Holidays.

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So there you have it . . . my favorite stores to shop when I’m adding some decor on a budget. What other stores would you add to the list? Leave a comment to share!

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Looking for penny pinched projects? Here are a few of my favorites . . .

 

 

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How to {Easily} Stock Up On Diapers & Get The Very Best Price

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Curious how diaper prices stack up at Costco, Sam’s Club and Amazon? Here’s a quick price breakdown for you so that you can always get the best deal. This week CVS by far has the best price at just $2.74 per pack or 7¢ per diaper based on size 3 (crazy!), so make sure to watch the drug store deals because with a little effort you can get some fantastic diaper deals there too.

If your hands are too full for serious couponing though, here’s how to {easily} stock up on diapers . . .

 

just do the math! :) 

 

Here’s the price breakdown on Huggies Diapers and Pull Ups at Costco, Sam’s Club and Amazon:

 

 

 

To compare, Kirkland diapers (size 3) are $38.99 which makes them $.19 per diaper (the same price as Huggies at Amazon.) I’ve heard great reviews on the Kirkland brand diapers so they may work best for you – just make sure you’re always getting the best price by taking a few minutes to do the math before you buy!

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Have you found other great deals on diapers recently? Leave a comment to share! Here are a few more tips to help you save today . . .

 

 

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16 Deals You Can’t Miss at Kroger This Week

 

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Here are sixteen deals you don’t want to miss at Kroger this week! Be sure to take a peek at the full Kroger ad here, and don’t forget to easily print all the coupons you need with this week’s Kroger 10 Minute or Less Printable Coupon List.

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Also don’t forget to  download your coupon for Free Kraft BBQ Sauce (exp 6/19) valid to load to your card today only, and be sure to load the coupon for 2x Weekend Fuel Points AND 4x Gift Card Fuel Points while they’re available right now!

 

1. Wild Berry Pop Tarts 12 pk $.75 (Closeout Item- will vary by store)

2. Oral B Toothbrush $1

  • Use $1.50/2 Oral-B Toothbrushes – 5-10-15 RP
  • $.25 after coupon

3. So Delicious Yogurt $1.29

  • Use $1.00/1 So Delicious Dairy Free Product – 5-31-15 SS
  • $.29 after coupon

4. Horizon Mac & Cheese $1

5. Angel Soft (4 pk) $1

6. Pure Silk Shave Gel $1

  • Use $0.50/1 Pure Silk Shave Cream – 5-3-15 RP
  • $.50 after coupon

7. Gwaltney Hot Dogs $1

  • Use $0.75/2 Gwaltney Hot Dogs – 5-10-15 SS
  • $.62 after coupon

8. NUK Pacifiers $2.62

9. Pringles $1

  • Use 1.00/4 Pringles Full Size Cans – 5-17-15 RP
  • $.75 after coupon

10. Hunt’s Canned Tomatoes $1

11. Land O Lakes Butter $1.99

12. Rev Wraps $1.50

  • Use $1.00/2 Hormel Rev Wraps – 5-3-15 SS
  • $1 after coupon

13. Rockin Refuge Milk $1.50

14. Starburst Gum 3 pk $2

15. Nivea Body Wash $3

  • Use $3/2 printable or $3.00/2 Nivea Regular or For Men Body Wash – 5-10-15 SS
  • $1.50 after coupon

16. Perdue Chicken Breasts $2.49/lb (Buy 1, Get 1 Free)

 

Other Deals: 

Cascade $3.99

Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent $2.99

  • Use $2.00/2 Arm & Hammer Laundry Packs – 5-17-15 SS
  • $1.99 after coupon

Resolve Gold $2.79

Snuggle Scent Boosters $2.99

Angel Soft (16 Double Roll) $5.99

Gluten Free Almond Butter $5.49 (Closeout Item- will vary by store)

See all the deals at Kroger this week, and check out the complete Kroger weekly ad to plan your trip before you go.

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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 . . .

save3aday

 

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