19 Reasons You Need To Shop Costco (May Edition)

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Here’s an update on Sams vs. Costco prices for May 2016!  Note that both stores have special monthly sales ads which affects pricing (I included this month’s sales in the post, so pricing will vary a little each month.) As always, when shopping these stores please go in with a budget in place because it’s just so easy to overspend at warehouse stores.

 

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I’m such a dork and absolutely love doing posts like this to really do the math and see which store wins. I love finding the low-down-nitty-gritty of a good price, so it’s fun to do the math and see WHO really does offer the best savings.  I was shocked this month to see that Costco completely won the pricing wars ~ they have so many great savings this month. Take a peek and see what you think!

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Cheez It Snack Bags

COSTCO –  Nabisco Cheez Its (45 ct) – $7.99 or $.18 per pack (without coupon $.24 per pack or $10.99 regular price)

SAM’S – Nabisco Cheeze Its (45 ct) – $10.98 or $.24 per pack

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Nature Valley Granola Bars

COSTCO – Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Bars (48 ct) – $9.49 or $.19 per bar (without coupon $.26 per pack or $12.79 regular price)

SAM’S – Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Bars (48 ct) – $12.98 or $.27 per bar

WINNER = COSTCO (even without In Ad Savings)

Costco – Nature Valley Bars (49 ct) – $9.69  or $.20 per bar (without coupon $.26 per pack or $12.79 regular price)

SAM’S – Nature Valley Granola Bars (49 ct) – $12.98 or $.26 per bar

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Hellman’s Mayonnaise

Costco – Hellman’s Mayonnaise (50 oz) – $5.99 or $.12 per ounce (without coupon $0.16 per wipe or $7.99 regular prices

Sam’s –  Hellman’s Mayonnaise (75 oz) – $11.98 or $.16 per ounce

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Frosted Flakes

Costco – Frosted Flakes (61.9 oz) – $5.59 or $.09 per ounce (without coupon $0.12 per ounce or $7.59 regular price)

Sam’s –  Frosted Flakes (55 oz) – $6.98 or $.13 per ounce

WINNER = COSTCO (even without In Ad Savings)

Gatorade

Costco – Gatorade (28 pk 12 oz) – $10.39 or $.37 per bottle (without coupon $0.46 per bottle or $12.99 regular price)

Sam’s – Gatorade (28 pk 12 oz) – $12.98 or $.46 per bottle

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Naked Juice Smoothies

Costco – Naked Juice Smoothies (12 pk 10 oz) – $10.49 or $.87 each (without coupon $1.20 each or $14.49 regular price)

Sam’s –  Naked Juice Smoothies (8 pk 10 oz) – $10.98 or $1.37 each

WINNER = COSTCO (even without In Ad Savings)

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Clorox Wipes

Costco – Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (390 ct) – $10.69 or $0.029 per wipe (without coupon $0.037 per wipe or $13.49 regular price)  Amazon has them for just 2¢ per wipe right now!)

Sam’s – Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (390 ct) – $13.48 or $0.034 per wipe

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Bounce Fabric Sheets

Costco – Bounce Fabric Sheets (320 ct) – $7.99 or $.024 per sheet  (without coupon $0.31 per sheet or $9.99 regular price)

Sam’s – Bounce Fabric Sheets (320 ct) – $9.98 or $.031 per sheet

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Dawn Dish Soap

Costco – Dawn Dish Soap (90 oz) – $7.59 or $.08 per ounce  (without coupon $0.106 per tab or $9.59 regular price)

Sam’s –  Dawn Dish Soap (75 oz) – $9.48 or $.13 per ounce

WINNER = COSTCO (even without In Ad Savings)

Cascade Complete ActionPacs

Costco – Cascade Complete ActionPacs (90 ct) – $12.79 or $.14 per tab (without coupon $0.18 per tab or $15.99 regular price)

Sam’s Cascade Complete ActionPacs (105 ct) – $14.98 or $.14 per tab

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Scotch Brite Sponges

Costco – Scotch Brite Sponges (21 pk) – $9.99 or $.48 per sponge (without coupon $0.62 per sponge or $12.99 regular price)

Sam’s – Scotch Brite Sponges (21 pk) – $12.98 or $.62 per sponge

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Huggies Diapers

Costco – Huggies Diapers Size 2 (174 ct) – $31.49 or $.18 per diaper  (without coupon $0.22 per tab or $37.49 regular price) Amazon has them for just 7¢ per diaper right now!)

Sam’s – Huggies Diapers Size 2 (186 ct) – $39.98 or $.21 per diaper

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Huggies Wipes

Costco- Huggies Wipes (1160 ct) – $19.99 or $0.017 per wipes (without coupon $0.021 per wipe or $24.99 regular price)

Sam’s –  Huggies Wipes (864 ct) – $19.98 or $0.023 per wipes

WINNER = COSTCO  (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Downy Fabric Softener

Costco- Downy Fabric Softener (170 oz) – $9.59 or $0.056 per ounce (without coupon $0.07 per tab or $19.99 regular price)

Sam’s –  Downy Fabric Softener (170 oz) – $11.88 or $0.069 per ounce

WINNER = COSTCO  (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Tide Laundry Detergent

Costco – Tide Advanced HE Laundry Detergent (170 oz) – $17.49 or $0.10 per ounce (without coupon $0.13 per ounce or $21.99 regular price)

Sam’s –  Tide Advanced HE Laundry Detergent (170 oz) – $20.98 or $0.12 per ounce

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Trash Bags

Costco – Kirkland Trash Bags (90 ct) – $11.99 or $.13 per bag (without coupon $0.166 per ounce or $14.99 regular price)

SAM’S – Member’s Mark Trash Bags (90 ct) – $14.67 or $.16 per bag

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

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Ziploc

Costco – Ziploc Bags (500 ct) – $7.89 or $0.015 per bag (without coupon $0.019 per bag or $9.89 regular price)

Sam’s-  Ziploc Bags (500 ct) – $7.89 or $0.019 per bag

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

Reynolds Aluminum Foil

Costco – Reynolds Aluminum Foil (300 sq ft) – $10.59 or $0.03 per sq ft (without coupon $0.05 per sq ft or $13.89 regular price)

Sam’s – Reynolds Aluminum Foil (360 sq ft) – $15.96  or $0.04 per sq ft

WINNER = COSTCO (Costco wins this month because of In Ad Savings)

TOILET PAPER

Kirkland Toilet Paper (30 pk 425 sheets per roll) – $15.99 or $.53 per roll or $.001 per sheet

Sam’s – Member Mark Toilet Paper (45 Roll 220 sheets) – $17.86 or $.40 per roll or $.001 per sheet

WINNER = TIE

 

PAPER TOWELS

Kirkland Paper Towels (12 roll 160 sheets) – $15.69 or $1.30 per roll or $.008 per sheet

Members Mark Paper Towels (15 Roll 142 Sheets) – $16.48 or $1.09 per roll or $.0077 per sheet)

WINNER = Sam’s

Other Deals:

Eggs

COSTCO – Eggland’s Best (18 ct) – $3.39 or $.19 per egg

SAM’S –  Eggland’s Best (18 ct) – $4.72 or $.26 per egg

WINNER = COSTCO

COSTCO – Grade A Eggs (18 ct) – $1.39 or $.08 per egg

SAM’S –  Sun Ups Eggs (18 ct) – $1.98 or $.11 per egg

WINNER = COSTCO

Milk

COSTCO – Gallon of Milk – $1.39

SAM’S –  Gallon of Milk – Skim – $2.39

WINNER = COSTCO

Produce

Costco –  Organic Spring Mix/Spinach – $4.49

Sam’s –  Organic Spring Mix/Spinach – $4.47

Costco – Bananas (3 lb) – $1.39

Sam’s –  Bananas (3 lb) – $1.39

Extra Costco Deals:

Costco – Bisquick (96 oz) – $3.99 or $.04 per ounce (without coupon $0.06 per wipe or $5.49 regular price)

Costco – Swiffer Dusters (24 ct) – $11.49 or $.47 each (without coupon $0.61 each or $14.69 regular price)

 

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And don’t forget to pick up your Costco chicken while you’re there. Love it and such a great price!

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10 Secrets To Saving Online

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I’m so (so so so!) excited about this!

 

Hurry over HERE to sign up for FREE daily penny pinching emails, and get my secret video, 10 Secrets to Saving Online (that no one else is telling you.) 🙂 Tip #1 is my absolute favorite online shopping secret, and will change the way you shop. (It’s my favorite, and I’m always amazed that everyone doesn’t know about it!)

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You’ll get your free video as soon as you confirm signing up for daily emails, and I hope it helps you save a bundle. This is the first time I’ve actually done a “real” video (with a friend who shot the video, added music, and everything!), and while I was definitely a little nervous making it, I think you’ll love these secret saving tips.

 

Go HERE to get your free video, and let me know what you think!

 

Note – I know it takes an extra step to sign up for emails to get this video, and REALLY appreciate you taking the time to do that. As soon as you add in your email you’ll immediately get an email from me to “confirm your subscription” (email providers require that you do that so they know we’re not spam), and then in the next link you’ll get the free video & tips. THANK YOU so much for taking the time to jump through the steps ~ I promise it’ll be worth it for you!

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That Time My Husband Had A Heart Attack.

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Get ready for a long post. If you’re here just for the deals (I TOTALLY, really do get that), scroll waaayyyyy on down.  UPDATE ~ I tried responding to all your sweet comments tonight and realized I was just exhausted and you all would understand. THANK YOU MORE THAN YOU’LL KNOW for taking the time to be such blessings to me – I am so so thankful for you!

 

13 days ago my husband had a heart attack. 

 

My 45-year-old-mostly-healthy husband had a heart attack. (For the record I’m 40 ~ no reason for you to think I’m quite 45 yet, right?) 🙂

 

My heart still hurts.

 

He’d had some chest pain about six months ago and had done a stress test to make sure everything was okay. The stress test came back negative, and we assumed everything was fine and went on about our lives.

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Our bunch just 4 weeks ago, on our way to ski for a week in CanadaWhile he’s always been a little overweight, James has stayed the same weight since we were married twenty years ago, and is as strong as an ox. He plays sports hard with our kids, and is in general a pretty healthy guy. He doesn’t smoke or drink, but did have slightly elevated cholesterol and some family history of heart issues at an early age.

On Wednesday almost two weeks ago, he started having pain in his arm while driving all over Ohio for work. He called home around 3 and said he really wasn’t feeling well, then finally made it in at 5 that night.

 

Because I’m a horrible (read – awful, terrible, pitiful) not-ever-meant-to-be-a-nurse-wife, I told him I didn’t know what he should do, but if his chest hurt he should go to the ER. (Honestly, I wasn’t all that compassionate about it ~ we had 3 kids going 3 directions and I had no time for this craziness. Like I said, I’m an awful, terrible, pitiful wife!)

 

A few minutes later though I looked at him the way I should have looked at him the minute he came home, and realized he looked awful. He headed to the ER, and I headed out for evening carpool duty.

 

An hour later he called and told me that while his EKG was fine, his blood work came back with some issues and they were transporting him to a nearby hospital for testing the next morning. Remember we’d just moved here two years ago, so while we definitely have a few people we could call on in a pinch, our kids weren’t all that comfortable with folks they didn’t know so well (my oldest is 16).  I left the kids at home around 7:30 PM and headed to the ER to see what was next.

 

I don’t know anything medically, but by the time I got there the second EKG had changed, and the ER doctor seemed pretty concerned. He let us know that a cardiologist would meet us immediately at the hospital, and when the ambulance came to transport James (they said he wasn’t stable enough for me to drive him even though he looked pretty good), I ran home to get a few things and then planned to meet him in the hospital.

 

It didn’t happen like that. 

 

I arrived at the larger hospital’s Emergency Room and was immediately taken past dozens of people in the waiting room to a small waiting room with a night chaplain. She wasn’t allowed to tell me anything, just sat with me as I waited. (I couldn’t figure what on earth had happened ~ just a few minutes ago we’d been laughing together in the original ER?)

 

About 20 minutes went by, and the cardiologist came out to tell me that my husband (yes, the 45 year old seemingly healthy one), had a mild heart attack. He had 100% blockage in one artery (thankfully only 20-30% blockage in other arteries), and they’d put in a stent to fix the blockage. He was doing well, but his life would change.

 

He wasn’t kidding.

 

Thankfully, because he was basically healthy his heart had used “collateral arteries” to repair the problem as much as they could on their own (which masked the heart issues in his initial stress test.) We found out a few days later that despite everything he had absolutely no heart muscle damage, and I’m guessing it’s partly due to those collateral arteries taking on the extra load.

 

(Isn’t it crazy that God makes your body to DO things like that?) 

 

I was allowed to see James who honestly looked great considering everything he’d gone through. I think we were both just in shock ~ and totally unaware of what this meant for our life. (Two weeks later, we’re still pretty unaware.)

 

Around 1:30 in the morning I left him in the ICU to come be with our kids and try to sleep, and his sister (she’s a doctor and was completely a lifesaver through this!) headed up to be with us just to get us through the first through days. (His other sister also came up for the weekend ~ I can’t even begin to tell you what a gift they were to me those first few days!)

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Us out on a short hike last week while playing hooky 🙂 

So here I sit, almost two weeks later, still just in a small state of shock over all this. James wasn’t allowed to work last week, so we kind of played hooky all week. We visited every plant nursery in a 30 mile radius, ate meals at fancy restaurants (he’s supposed to eat salmon and I haven’t yet learned to cook it), and even went to see a movie at 10 o-clock in the morning just because we could. (We were the only people there besides an older couple in their 70’s. I’ve never ever seen a movie at 10 o’clock in the morning!)

 

You know what though? I’m still kind of terrified.

 

I’m afraid of how I’d do life without him.

 

I’m afraid of what we would do if our finances really changed because of an illness. (We are so so blessed financially thanks to years of penny pinching, but fear of the unknown still scares the crud of me.)

 

I’m afraid of my kids not having grandparents for *their* kids. (Y’all, I am seriously jumping the gun on this worry thing. I know. I’m nuts.) 

 

I’m afraid of what my life would look like if he wasn’t right here next to me.

 

He’s always been my one. 

 

I don’t know that I believe that people have just one person out there made just for them, but, for me, he’s been my one.

 

He’s the one I just feel safe and cozy with. The one who likes me even though I’m a mess. And more than anything he’s the one who completely cheers me on each and every day. 

 

The thought of something happening to him terrifies me beyond what I can even express. 

 

And honestly, the thought that’s filling my head right now is that something could happen to him, and in just a few short years my cute kids will be gone. And this awful crushing fear of just being without them kind of terrifies me.

 

But as I was muddling through all that in my head today, I remembered that long before I was James’s wife, I was chosen by Him.

 

And way before I ever dreamed of being Jackson & Caroline & Reagan’s momma . . . I was His child.

 

And I was reminded that the same God who has held me through so many difficult things along the way, loves me enough to hold me through this not-so-easy time too. 

 

Whatever may come.

 

Whatever it takes.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, right now things look good for my sweet husband. (Thank. heavens.) He’s doing an amazing job working to change his diet, is on a mountain of medication to keep this from happening again, and is already heading to physical therapy. His prognosis really is good (in fact, his heart is working perfectly), but my fear still is there.

 

But just this experience has rocked my not-as-firm-as-I-want-it-to-be foundation, so I needed to be reminded that ultimately the One who loved me first holds me no matter what comes my way.

 

 

I have no idea what mountain is in your world right now. I don’t know if your world has maybe been shattered by something so crazy-ridiculous-you-feel-like-you-can’t-even-breathe too.

 

But I do know that the same God who’s holding me? He’s holding you right next to me too.

 

He loves each of us, and desires peace for us, no matter what comes our way.

 

Know that I’m praying for you today. And I’d so love your prayers too as our hearts adjust to this new season too. God’s plan is bigger and better than ours ever is, and I’m so crazy-ridiculously-overwhelmingly thankful for peace that comes when we choose to find rest in Him today.

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

(On a quick side note ~ thank goodness I have some amazing workers here on PPP who totally have kept things up and running while I’ve been way more frazzled than normal. I don’t *think* any of this should have any long term impact on PPP except that I need to spend a little more time preparing meals and a little more focused on my family (I so appreciate you  understanding!) Right now we’re trying out the Mediterranean diet, so those are the recipes I imagine you’ll see here for a bit while we figure things out. Thanks so much for your kindness and support ~ so so thankful for you.)

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Aldi Craziness: 89¢ Eggs & Milk (Let Me Know What You Find!)

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My friend Staci just texted me these crazy prices she found at Aldi today in North Alabama ~ I’m thinking I may race to our store in Ohio to see if we lucked into any fun milk and egg prices! And, I just heard from another friend in a different area of the country that they’re seeing 69¢ for a dozen eggs. WOOHOOO!

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Check out the full Aldi ad HERE before you shop, and don’t miss these 22 Secrets You Need To Know Before You Shop Aldi. Leave a comment if you luck into any awesome deals while you’re there!

Thanks so much Staci for sharing ~ I love that! 🙂 

 

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When You Need Rest.

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(our bunch just a few weeks ago on vacation ~ crazy to think we’re here when we were just there. ugh)!

folks, we have had just a so unexpected hard most unbelievable two days.

 

I’m not going to share all the nitty gritty details (don’t worry, at least for now everything really is okay, just blindsided by a crazy health scare), but . . .

 

my heart hurts. 

 

 

Thankfully I have some incredible girls who do so much here on PPP so that I can work on bigger projects, the site is totally up and running. (Thank you Shannon, Cheryl, Nicole & Misty ~ you guys are the best and a crazy blessing to me!)  I’ve been able to just take care of my bunch, manage a few emails and Facebook, and plan for my baby girl’s 9th birthday in the midst of this craziness.

 

{Because I am absolutely nuts. And we are determined to give this girl a party after postponing it several weeks. A momma’s got to do what a momma’s got to do. crazy.}

 

But last night, after the second night of being up all night just consumed with worry, I finally remembered Whose I am

 

Whose this life of mine is.

 

Whose my husband’s life is. Whose my kids lives are.

 

That we are all His.

 

And for about an hour from 5-6AM today, I finally fell asleep in His rest. 

 

I don’t know what crumminess may be going on in your life today.

 

I have no idea if you’re having an amazingly grace-filled happy day or a few days like mine where you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.

 

But I know Whose you are. 

 

If you need some rest today.

 

If you need some peace like I do.

 

Rest in His arms with me, okay? 

 

Prayers sure appreciated as we scoot through this next few weeks ~ and if you have something I can pray for even unspoken leave a comment in the comment section and I’d love to cover you in some prayers too.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

 

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9 Secrets to Saving on Medical Expenses

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If you’ve been looking for ways to save on medical expenses, you’re not alone!   The cost of office visits, prescriptions, and follow-up care can be overwhelming and disheartening – but there are several things you can do to lower your costs.   Check out these 9 tips and tricks to save money on your medical bills!

Ways to Save on Medical Expenses

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1. Be Honest With Your Doctor

It’s normal to fear your upcoming medical costs before you ever leave the examination room.  Rather than wondering and worrying if there’s anything that can be done – have an honest chat with your doctor before you go.  Ask if all the tests/procedures are necessary (especially if you have a high out of pocket deductible) and if there are any generics for the prescriptions he’s writing.   Sometimes there might even be an over-the-counter medicine that’s equally effective.

Simply knowing you’re in a bind might prompt your doctor to offer you options, or a helpful tip.

… and be sure to ask for SAMPLES!

Doctors offices normally have a supply of various drug samples that are up for grabs – if you know to ask.  By requesting a sample of the drug you need, you may save yourself a few weeks off the purchase of the prescription.

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2. Get Some Prescriptions FREE

Before you run out to fill that new prescription, check around to see if you can get it for free. Some pharmacies (like Publix) have a list of prescriptions they offer at absolutely no cost – while Walmart & Target have a similar list of $4 prescriptions.

Here are some examples of what prescriptions are routinely offered for free or at a value price:

  • Blood Pressure Medication
  • Common Antibiotics
  • Diabetes Medication

 

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3. Make Sure to Get the Best Prescription Price

Unfortunately – only a handful of prescriptions are part of the free or cheap group above.  When you’re faced with a pricier prescription, arm yourself with the tools to find the absolute lowest price in town.  It could mean BIG savings for you over time!

One useful site is GoodRX (they also have a mobile app).  GoodRX  lists the costs of your prescription at pharmacies in your area.  The nice part is, you don’t need to drive all over town to get the best price – just show the cashier at your pharmacy and they’ll match the lowest price around!

*Read more details here

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4.  Check for Manufacturer Coupons

Anytime you have a new prescription, it’s a good idea to search the internet for coupons.  Manufacturers will sometimes have printable coupons, rebates or copay discount cards available!

5. Call the Company and Ask for Help

It never, ever, ever, EVER hurts to try – right?

There may come a time when the prescription that you need is just completely unaffordable.  That’s an awfully scary place to find yourself – and people do every day.
Often, a simple call to the company that makes the drug in question, can be the first step to HUGE savings.  While there’s no guarantee, if you call the company to explain the situation, and ask if they offer a drug assistance card – you could receive phenomenal discounts out of sheer goodwill.  I know of a woman who’s worried phone call to a drug company brought her $2000 prescription down to only $10 a month ~ it never ever hurts to ask!

6. Pay the Bill Up Front for a Discount

You can often get a discount if you offer to pay off the full bill up front for a medical expense.  While that’s not always possible – getting the bill paid in full can leave a lot of extra money in your pocket over time.  Of course that requires budgeting for medical costs…

Just getting started budgeting?  Check out How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House and print out my Free Printable Budget Spreadsheet.

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7. Review Your Bill for Mistakes

You guys . . .  this tip might seem a little silly, but wait until you hear the stats.  While researching how to save on medical expenses, my mind was completely blown when I read in an article that 9 out of 10 hospital bills contain overcharges (9 out of 10!!)  If that’s the case – we should all be reading through our medical bills to make sure there are no add-ons or discrepancies.

 

8. Take Advantage of Employee Health Savings Plans

Does your job offer a health savings account like an Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?  If so, learn all you can about it!  These are great ways to help you save if you have a high-deductible plan.

An FSA is basically money you set aside for the year’s out of pocket medical costs and whatever you put aside will not be counted as taxable income.  The only thing to remember here is that whatever you don’t use by the end of the year – you LOSE (watch the cut off date for when you lose that money – typically March of the following year).  Here are some things you can spend your remaining FSA cash on so you won’t lose it:

  • Sunscreen (be careful not to overstock – this does expire after awhile!)
  • Breast Pumps
  • Contact Lenses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Over the counter medicines (time to toss out anything that’s expired!)
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Chiropractor visits
  • Diabetes testing kits
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Canes, Walkers, etc

Whatever you spend it on – don’t let it go to waste!

 

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9. Staying Healthy

We’ve all heard the saying prevention is the best medicine… and in many cases it’s SO true!  Staying in shape, eating healthful foods, and avoiding health risks are all ultimately saving you big money on future medical expenses.

If you need some motivation for living frugally while managing to eat well and get in shape – you might also enjoy these tips for how to save on organic food!

What other tips do you have for saving on medical expenses? I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

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15 Secrets You Need to Know Before Shopping CVS

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Since CVS is by far the easiest drug store to shop with coupons (at least in my opinion?) it’s definitely worth learning how to shop when you’re there.

 

But, shopping there can still take a little work, especially if you want to save big!

 

So, here are 15 secrets you NEED to know before shopping CVS. 

 

Now, we’re going to start with very basic information here (so you seasoned CVS’ers may find all this old news), but I want to make it as simple to follow as possible for folks who’ve never used a coupon in their lives.

 

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1.  Request a CVS Extra Care Card.

You can get a CVS card at your local store or sign up for one on the CVS website.

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2.  Also register your CVS card online.

CVS emails out coupons fairly regularly, so you’ll want to register your card HERE to make sure you don’t miss any deals.   Just for signing up for a card you may receive a coupon for a few dollars off your purchase. Definitely take a few minutes to sign up to get some extra savings!

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3.  Use your Extra Care Card every time you shop.

Using your Extra Care Card every time you shop will  help make sure that CVS sends you targeted coupons, and you won’t miss out on any extra savings.  If you forget your card at home you may use the phone number tied to your account when checking out so that you don’t lose any savings.

 

 Note that you should have only one CVS card per household. There is some debate on this one, however I feel like it’s not worth sacrificing my integrity for a deal – and I promise there are plenty of deals even with just one card!

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4. Scan your CVS card at the red coupon machine.

As soon as you walk in the door at CVS, you’ll notice a red machine where you can scan your card to receive extra coupons. You’ll also get targeted savings, as well as a coupon for a free item occasionally! CVS uses these coupons to motivate you to shop, and since these are they’re store coupons, you can “stack” them with additional manufacturer coupons to save even more.

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5. CVS offers two kinds of sales each week.

When shopping CVS, watch for traditional store sales updated each Sunday, as well as “Extra Care Buck” (ECB) offers. Typically your very best buys of the the week at CVS will be the ECB deals, but always scan through the weekly ad to see what items get you the most for your money! CVS sometimes offers Buy One Get One offers (often on toiletries or detergents), and those savings can be as much or more than the regular ECB savings.

Also watch for clearance items throughout the store, as clearance items in addition to ECB discounts will be the best you’ll find in the store.

 

WHAT IS AN EXTRA CARE BUCK (ECB)??  At CVS, each week in their weekly ad you’ll see items that are “Extra Care Buck” (ECB) deals.  The very best savings at CVS come from their ECB deals. When you shop and purchase ECB deals you’ll receive a printout at the bottom of your receipt for a certain number of ECBs towards your next purchase.

 

 

6. ECBs are like real cash at CVS.

ECBs are just like real cash to be used on a following trip at CVS (in fact, I keep my ECBs in my wallet next to my cash so I don’t forget them!) They typically expire in 30 days, so be sure to use them before their expiration date.

 

 

Note: Always (always!) be nice to your cashier. It’s completely worth it, and will make you feel good too!

7.  You can “roll” your ECBs.

To get the most bang for your CVS buck, you’ll want to “roll” ECBs from your first trip at CVS towards your next trip, and then continue to use those to pay every time you go to the store. You can even “roll” those ECBs on the same day or in the same week to keep your initial out-of-pocket costs low!

8.  You can separate ECB deals into separate transactions.

If there’s an ECB offer that requires you to spend XX dollars to get XX ECBs, you can separate that amount over several transactions.

For example: If you need to spend $30 to earn $5 in Extra Care Bucks on Proctor & Gable products, you can spend $15 of that in one transaction and $15 in a separate transaction to earn the ECBs, as long as you purchase them within the given week that they are offered. 

Confused on how to make those CVS scenarios work for you?  Learn how to make sense of CVS scenarios here.

 9. Use your highest value ECB first when checking out.

When checking out at CVS, you’ll want to use your highest value ECB first towards your purchase, so that you can save smaller ECBs for smaller purchases.  Be sure to use ECBs that are less than the amount of your total purchase so that you don’t lose any of the value of your ECBs. (Since you can’t split up ECBs into more than one transaction, any amount that you have on your ECB over the amount of your purchase would be adjusted down, and you would lose that extra value.)

 

10. Easily check out at CVS.

If you have your coupons ordered a certain way, you will save the most when shopping at CVS. Here’s the order that I use when shopping CVS:

1. Give your cashier any CVS store coupons for money off your total purchase (for example an email coupon from CVS for $3 off your $10 purchase.)
2. Next, give your cashier any CVS store coupons for a specific item you’re purchasing.
3. Then use any manufacturer coupons.
4. Finally, use ECBs that you’ve received from a previous shopping trip to lower your out-of-pocket expense even further.

11. Watch for additional monthly CVS ECB offers.

Just like weekly ECBs offers, CVS offers monthly ECBs offers that work exactly the same way as weekly ECBs sales.  These however, are available for an the ENTIRE MONTH!

12.  CVS will give you Quarterly ECBs depending on how often you shop CVS.

CVS Quarterly ECBs are earned each quarter, including approximately 2% cash back on most CVS purchases. To qualify for these savings, you must spend at least $25 at CVS in a given quarter, and your CVS Quarterly ECBs will printout once each quarter while shopping.  You can use these just like cash for your CVS transactions.

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13.  CVS offers additional ECBs when you fill a prescription.

In addition to Quarterly ECBs based on your purchases in a given quarter, you’ll also earn ECBs every time you fill a prescription at CVS.  For every 2 prescriptions filled at CVS, you’ll get $1 in ECBs.

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14.  CVS gives Beauty Club Points when you purchase participating products.

In addition to CVS ECBs and Quarterly Rewards, earn CVS Beauty Club points when you shop. To get those savings, sign up for the CVS Beauty Club and link your CVS Extra Care Card to your Beauty Club account. For every $50 you spend on beauty products at CVS, you’ll get $5 in ECBs! Items included are things like hair care and accessories, skin care, cosmetics, etc.

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15. CVS offers Rain Checks.

If you get to CVS and they’re out of a product (including ECBs offers), request a rain check. Then purchase the item when it’s back in stock and your cashier will manually print the ECBs savings when the item is back in stock. Rain checks DO NOT expire at CVS.


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Would you love to save big at the drug stores?

 

Right now for just 99¢ (regularly $3.99) download my complete guide to saving big at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, with tons of specific tips and scenarios all in one concise package. Go HERE to get yours while this price lasts ~ happy penny pinching!

 

 

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New 21 Day Fix Group Starts 4/18/16: Join Us?

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See more on the 21 Day Fix benefits I’ve seen over HERE. 

 

If you’ve visited PPP very often,  you know I’ve spent forever worrying about my weight.

 

After losing 75 pounds in college (twenty years ago?!), I’ve managed to keep most of the weight off within 20 pounds, but the way I look at food has always been a wee bit skewed.

 

 

But last January I decided to do the 21 Day Fix wholeheartedlyand I’m so glad I did.

 

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In 3 rounds I’ve lost 13 pounds, which I know isn’t crazy-amazing-fast-weight-loss, but since I was really fighting just to  maintain at my top weight prior to this, it was a huge win to me. (Honestly I wimped out a wee bit during round 2, so I’m thrilled to have these 13 pounds off!)

 

I even maintained my weight loss on our 9 day vacation without stressing over my food, because I think my brain has just changed the way it think about what I eat. (And by losing those pounds more slowly, I really feel like they’ve been easier to keep off!)

 

I love that.

 

However, what’s been even more exciting is watching a few ladies join me too.

 

We have 67 ladies in our private 21 Day Fix group, and these girls are phenomenal. Almost all of them have lost over ten pounds in just two rounds, and a few are pushing a twenty pound weight loss.

 

They’re incredible and so inspiring!!!

 

We’re starting a brand new group next week (4/18/16), and would so love for you to join us!  Here are a few of the nitty gritty details (limited space available):

 

  1. Group will start 4/18/16 as a “prep week” to get all your supplies ready.
  2. Beginning 4/25/16 and running through 5/15/16 we’ll do the 21 Day Fix, including exercising every day.
  3. We’ll learn to eat the right way, knowing that eventually chocolate chip cookies aren’t completely off the list, but they’re a special treat, not the main course.
  4. Each day you’ll get daily encouragement in our private Facebook group (I love this group!) We’ll talk about menu planning, exercise, healthy habits and more each day.
  5. I’ll be your cheerleader (and I’d love for you to cheer me on too!) I’m fighting for you, I want to see you WIN at this.  I know you can have success!
  6. There is a fee for this group but I wholeheartedly believe it is worth EVERY PENNY (to get more info sign up HERE.) You’ll get the 21 Day Fix Menu Plan, 2 DVDs of 21 Day Fix Workouts, 21 Day Containers, and a 30 Day supply of Shakeology ~ it really is worth it and nothing else out there has worked and been worth it for me! I promise I would not recommend this if I didn’t totally believe in it and if you’ve struggled with your weight this is worth it. 

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If you’re interested in joining me, hurry over HERE to get started (watch for an email from me shortly and be sure to confirm the first email to get more information.)

This group is open to only a very limited group of ladies who sign up first (sorry guys!) ~ I can’t wait to get started! Head on over HERE and let’s see what 21 days can do for you. 🙂

If for whatever reason you have a hard time getting more information, send me an email at contact @ passionatepenny pincher.com (leave out spaces) and we’ll get you signed up. So excited about this and can’t wait to start!

 

 

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5 Ways To Save Printing Coupons

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Now that you know how to print coupons from your phone, you want to make sure to get the very best price on printing coupons!  Ink can get pretty darn expensive, and depending on your printer you might need refills WAY too often.

 

(Remember, you can print hundreds of dollars in free printable coupons over HERE. Love that!)

Check out these 5 ways to save:

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1. Start out with the right kind of printer.

If you plan to use your printer mostly for coupon printing and occasional documents, school reports, etc. ~  you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a color or photo printer.

You need a workhorse that spits out LOTS of pages with little cost.

I highly recommend this black & white Brother Printer.  You’ll get SO many printed pages per ink cartridge, you may go a couple years without having to replace it (it’s the one I use!)

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2. For ink – go generic or remanufactured, or even have your ink cartridges refilled.

When it comes time to buy new ink, check reputable sites like 4InkJets and Amazon before you pay full price for the name brand. In my experience they’ve worked just fine without a single problem, and save about 50% on ink costs.

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You can also get your ink cartridges refilled for a fraction of the cost of a new ink cartridge. I’ve always used Walgreens for ink cartridge refilling, and their regular price is $12.99. Occasionally they’ll offer a special in their ad which drops the price to around $7.99 (compared to $30+ for a new ink cartridge), so definitely watch for those sales!

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3. Don’t pay for paper.

Staples often runs a deal on paper where you buy a ream of paper for around $8 and get back $8 via Staples Instant Rebate. (Or other similar offers) Check out their current paper offers here.

 

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4. Use the whole sheet of paper

Even though you might snag the free paper deals regularly – let’s be honest, you’ll probably have to buy it once in awhile.  To cut down on wasted half sheets of paper – try to print coupons in 3’s.  Three coupons fit on the front of a paper, so I always try to print three at a time.

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5. Switch to Black & White Settings

If you don’t have a black & white printer, you can still print coupons in black and white to save! Just change your printer’s settings to Black & White (aka grayscale). This way you can just replace your black cartridge instead of purchasing new colored ones as well.

 

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What other tips do you have on saving when you print coupons? I’d love to hear them ~ leave a comment to share!

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Find out how to print coupons from your cell phone here!

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How To Travel On A Budget: 12 Ways To Save

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We love to travel. 

 

Love to travel.

 

Our family doesn’t wear fancy clothes, have tons of cool gadgets, or visit “high-falutin” restaurants all that often, but my oldest has visited over thirty six states in his first 15 years of life. (I know . . . that’s nuts!)

 

So, when we pinch those pennies in our grocery budget, a lot of what we’re saving goes towards our travel budget.

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(In fact, we’re traveling back home from a 9-day ski trip to Canada as I’m sharing this!)

 

And while we love it, it’s an incredibly easy way to bust a family’s budget.  Here are a few tips that we’ve found have made traveling a little easier on our pocketbook.

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1. Determine an annual travel budget.

There’s no way around it, traveling costs money. (And when you have a large family, it can cost a lot of money!)

 

About four years ago, we discussed where we wanted to go each year and divided our annual travel expenses into twelve monthly “payments”.  We automatically take that amount out of my husband’s paycheck each month, so if a deal on part of our trip comes up, the money is already there.  Here is a free budget printable for you to get started.

 

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This has given us so much more freedom to get a deal while traveling.  Several years ago we had money in our vacation fund but were not expecting to travel because my father-in-law had become ill and we just weren’t sure we should go.  One Thursday in February of that year, my husband called me and found round-trip airline flights into Jackson Hole, Wyoming from Huntsville, Alabama for $179. (If you watch airline flights at all, you know that’s an incredible deal!)

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The only catch was that we had to travel that Friday.  But since Jackson Hole was one of the places we’d always wanted to visit, we literally booked the flight that morning, packed up three kids, winter clothes, skis, and boots, and hopped on the plane the next day.  (We also got some great deals on accommodations because we were traveling so late!)  

Because the money was in our vacation fund, we didn’t have to question where the money would come from.  It was there, just waiting for a deal!

 

2.  Price driving vs. flying to your destination.

There’s no way that we could have driven to Jackson Hole for the same price we flew on that trip, because the airline deal was so good, and the cost of hotels, food, and gas along the way can get pretty pricey.  Especially if you’re traveling with your children, the price of driving often is much cheaper than flying.

 

However, make sure it is your very best price, and consider all the factors involved.  When we traveled to Colorado for Spring Break one year, we planned our trip and expected to save about $1000 by driving.  My hubby loves to drive, and there were several capitols that we wanted to show our kids along the way, so we decided it was worth it.  But when we factored in the crazy high price of gas at that time ($3.69/gallon for 3000 miles is a chunk of pennies!), I’m not sure our savings was quite what we’d hoped for!  We did have a great time though, and our kids undoubtedly will have some stories to share with their kids one day of our ridiculously long ride through Kansas. 😉

 

3.  Consider staying with family along the way.

We often will head towards our family’s homes as a breaking point in our trip if we’re driving.  It’s free, the kids love visiting family, and it breaks up a long trip into smaller chunks.

 

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4.  Check out Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO).

Vacation Rentals By Owner is a great way to save on family-friendly condos/houses as you’re traveling.  Because they’re condos, they usually have kitchens (which can save tons of money on food while you’re there!)  If you’re up for a little bargaining, you can often negotiate a better price by contacting the owner directly, and we’ve gotten some incredible condos through VRBO. (I highly recommend checking them out . . . we’ve always been pleased with them!)

 

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5.  In addition to VRBO, check out travel sites like Priceline.com, Travelocity, & Hotwire for airline tickets, lodging, and rental cars.

We’ve found our best prices on hotels and rental cars through Priceline, and have usually had good experiences.  (We do usually request a hotel with at least 3 or more stars when trying out Priceline.)

 

{Before booking through Priceline, read this ~ these 7 tips will definitely guarantee you a happier stay.}

 

 

6.  When you can, get creative with meals and in the room.

My kids tend to be picky eaters, so spending $30 (of lots more) to feed our family just makes me nuts!   They’re usually happy with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and sometimes will splurge on a fun dessert instead of dinner while in a new town.  (Our one exception to this rule is Casa Bonita in Denver. . . if you’ve been there you know it’s a must see for your kids ~ what a hoot!)

And, if you’re driving, bring Mrs. Potts along to help out with the cooking. 🙂 

Also, while staying at a hotel, make sure to book one with a free breakfast.  When you are feeding a family of 5, it can be expensive, so having one meal paid for really can make a difference.

 

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7.  Plan for your trip a few months out as you’re grocery shopping and avoid last minute purchases at full price. 

Watch for deals on sunscreen, bug spray, portable snacks and juice boxes before your trip, so that you’re not stuck at the last minute paying full price. Also, request all those free samples of laundry detergent because they’re great to have on hand when traveling, and are so convenient instead of trying to pack laundry detergent if you’re planning to do a load or two on the road!

 

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8.  While eating on the road, bring a Frisbee or football and take a break at a rest area.

Taking a break for a picnic lunch at a rest area and skipping the drive thru is probably my favorite way to saveI asked my kids if they’d rather pack a lunch (including Cheetos ~ we never buy those!) or make a quick drive thru McDonald’s, and they all agreed rest area lunches are one of their favorite road trip stops. Love, love, love saving $25-$30 at the drive thru at each meal, and giving them time to stretch their legs a bit!

We often pack sandwiches to eat for at least one of our meals as we’re driving, and the kids love stopping in different areas of the country to play. You won’t miss McDonald’s at all, and you’ll get some much needed fresh air while you’re there.

 

 

9.  If big vacations just aren’t in the budget, take a mini excursion close to home.

While traveling far away is great to see new places, we didn’t start out that way when our kids were little.  If there’s a large city within a few hours from you, go for just one night and visit a free museum, or choose one destination spot while you’re there. For us, we’ve found that just being away from home for a few days (or even just an all-day trip!) is such a good way for our family to enjoy each other, and gives us a break from the busy-ness of everyday life.

 

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10.  Don’t pay for roaming charges.

If you’re traveling outside the US and know you will need access to your mobile phone – look into changing your plan for the month.  It will usually only cost you and extra $10-15 to upgrade to an international plan, just remember to change it back when you get home.

 

You can also check cell phone carriers that offer data plans for Mexico, Canada and international locations ~ some offer unlimited data and texting so it’s worth it to compare your options before you switch or travel out of town.

 

When we’ve traveled to Canada we’ve chosen to put our phones on airplane mode for the entire length of the trip (using free wifi at restaurants and our hotel), which can also work. (The only downside is you won’t have a way to get incoming phone calls in case of emergencies, however most text messages and emails will continue to work, so you can have access to family from home without paying any additional fees.)

 

11.  Stay just outside of your destination if it’s an expensive city.

You can save a LOT of money if you say right outside of your destination, especially if it’s an expensive city like Los Angeles or Miami.  If you want to absorb the culture of your destination (i.e., London or Paris) spend one or two nights but find other culturally rich places just outside of the city.  I promise you will save!  Make sure to price your transportation costs to and from the city if you plan on being there the entire time to visit – this way you can make sure you are getting the very best deal.

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12. Be sure to spend your miles and points.

While I don’t recommend credit cards (ever!), after many many years of never using a credit card we did choose to get a Southwest Visa several years ago to earn points. Because my husband’s job requires him to occasionally purchase things that get reimbursed the following month, we use the Southwest Visa to pay only for those thing and then pay them off the following month when his company reimburses him.

(Note ~ we never ~ ever ~ carry a balance. The only way I would ever recommend you use a credit card is if you absolutely-1oo%-always-always-always pay it off each month. Just to be clear on that!) 🙂 

 

A few times we’ve also put major purchases on that card to earn points as well ~ always knowing that we had money in our savings account to cover the purchase. Those points really do add up, and we were able to purchase 5 round trips to Seattle, Washington this week for “free” using those points.

 

We also had 1 free night’s stay in a Marriott because of other traveling he’s done for work. Definitely take advantage of those special ways to earn ~ they really can add up (and saved us a whopping $2500 this week alone. Success!)

 

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And as always, remember, we are not all at the same place.

 

My hubby and I have been married for(ever?) and have taken almost twenty years to get to a place financially where we can afford to travel more often with our family. (And believe me, there’s been quite a bit of penny pinching along the way!) But, if you do love to travel, look at ways to make it work for you, and determine to save ahead of the trip so that you don’t come home to a credit card bill. I promise, you can do this!

 

What other ways do you save when traveling to pinch a penny as you go? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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Dreaming of a trip to Hawaii? Don’t miss these  17 Secrets You Need to Know Before Planning a Trip to Hawaii. I’m dreaming of one with you! 🙂

 

 

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