Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sometimes You're Wrong


No one want to hear that they're wrong, but it happens to all of us. We find out what we once believed simply isn't, and it's not always easy to let go.

Finding out that you're wrong and graciously accepting it, however, has the potential to save you a lot of money.

I've had 3 occasions in the last three weeks where I've learned I was wrong, and I embraced the opportunity to change my ways.

The first was when I mentioned that I have stopped buying ground beef to a friend of mine. I don't buy meat over $2 a pound, and I haven't seen in in the last year and a half for less than $2.49 a pound, so I haven't bought any.

My friend said that Fresh N Easy has had ground beef for $1.99 a pound throughout the last year.

I had no idea.

I tend to stick to the stores where I know certain prices occur, and most loss leaders are on the front and back pages of the grocery ads. I had never bought ground beef at this particular store; in fact, I bought very little at this particular store (apart from the occasional loss leaders), because I had thought they were overpriced in some areas.

My friend emailed me last week to tell me that this store had ground beef on sale for $1.99 a pound again. I had looked at the ad and had even been to that store that week (to get the .64 a pound chickens that were on sale) . I couldn't believe I had missed it. I pulled out my ad, and went looking. In the middle of the ad, I saw it. I had completely overlooked the sale, primarily because of it's location.

I checked my email and found a coupon from the same store for $4 off $20 (which was better than the $3 off $30 coupon that was in the ad). I also was able to redeem my triple points from last year (which, it turns out, expire at the end of September) to get $8 worth of store credit. I went back to the store for 6 pounds ($12) worth of free ground beef, plus a few more pounds that I gladly purchased.

(It has been so long since I had purchased ground beef that when I said that I was going to the store to get ground beef, my 7 1/2-year-old son asked me, "What's ground beef?")

The best prices and sales aren't always where you're used to finding them.

Perhaps you've noticed that the place where you normally buy something has a new, higher price for that item. Make sure that when you're at another store that carries that item, that you check out their price, too. It might just be that the store carries the same item for cheaper.

A local reader (Marie) pointed out to me the other day that Walmart carries tuna fish for .50 a can all the time. That sure beats buying it on case-lot sale for .69 a can. I knew the case-lot sale price had gone up, but I hadn't compared it to other places. (Years ago I learned on my own that Walmart's regular price for 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes was cheaper than buying 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes on the case-lot sale).

My husband was at Sam's Club looking for a few things for his office last week, and he checked out a brand of toilet paper (in a box) that he had never seen before. Now, my husband has priced toilet paper out wonderfully. He always compares it by the total length so that we know we're getting the best deal. It was because of him that I switched to buying Target brand toilet paper years ago, after comparing every brand with a calculator. Their price went up last year, and though I've been using coupons from their website to bring it back down a little, it's still higher than I used to pay.

The regular plastic covered package of toilet paper (by the way, we are a two-ply only kind of family) from Sam's Club--the Sam's Club brand, in fact--was still about $5 more than the toilet paper from Target (again, we're comparing length). But the brand in the box turned out to be cheaper.

It looks like we'll be switching.

One of the many ways that we continue to cut our expenses despite inflation is by comparing prices, and reconsidering other options.

A few more things that I've changed in the last few years:

I started buying both mine and my husband's deodorant at the grocery store. I never would have thought that the grocery store would be cheaper for toiletries; in fact, I thought just the opposite. I've come to see that the buy 10 mix and match sales have included deodorant, and the price as been just $1.49. That's a far cry from the $3.99 I've seen at Walmart and Target for the same exact product. And of course, I don't mind stocking up when it's such a great price.

I changed brands of pasta. I found that I could buy another brand of pasta for .50 a pound instead of $1 a pound on sale.

I changed brands of toothpaste to get my toothpaste free or close to it with sales and coupons (and I've been open to the fact that the best sales are usually at the grocery store). I found out that I actually prefer the new brand of toothpaste. I also started giving this toothpaste to my children who are old enough to use fluoride toothpaste, rather than buying a children's toothpaste that contains fluoride.

I started getting a whole bag of limes at the .99 store. 2 lbs of limes for .99 is a better price than I've seen anywhere else

I've found that Target puts several items that I usually buy on sale, whereas Walmart just has a regular price. As a bonus, Target also has coupons on their website that I can stack with a manufacturer's coupon, or sometimes just a Target coupon that I can combine with a sale. Both stores are super close (across the street from one another). I've started watching for sales and coupons to stack for items that I buy, such as baby lotion.

So the next time your friend, a blogger, or a stranger tells you that there's a better deal out there than what you currently know, admit you're wrong about getting the best price, and listen up. You might just end up richer.

This is post is dedicated to my friend April, who is always willing to compare prices and tell me when I'm wrong. Thanks April!


What have you learned that you could get for less from someone else?



37 comments:

  1. It says a lot about a person when they are willing to admit they were wrong! Not that I would have expected anything less from you, Brandy. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have learned that the commissary (for military families) is much more expensive than it was even just a few months ago. I used to buy all of my meat there, but last week I compared prices there with Winco and Winco was MUCH cheaper and seemed to have better quality. ~Erin K.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cards from Dollar Tree.

    They have these beautiful packs of white, lacy, Victorian style cards, four for $1. They are empty inside, so they can be used for any occasion. It helps me have something beautiful for birthdays, anniversaries and special things like showers/graduations/weddings. I don't buy gifts anymore because our budget just can't afford it, but having something so pretty to put a few kind words in and send to someone for $0.25 means a lot to me. Surprisingly, later on everyone comments on the card that I've sent them. They never did that over the presents I strained to afford to send.

    -Danielle B

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a beautiful posting. Thank you.

    I also want to mention that sometimes I do not always shop for items at the cheapest place because the time and energy it would take to go to another store might not be worth the trip. Sometimes I shop just at one store, Aldi's, because the prices are pretty reasonable and I only can afford one trip to the store in terms of time and gas. Most of the time I shop several stores to get prices at the lowest and luckily the stores are located close together. BUT sometimes I don't need to go all over and I pay full price on some items to save time, money, and resources but that is just me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do this as well, even when a coupon is available for an item. If it's only going to save me 75 cents, it's really not worth it to go to a store and wait in line, etc. when it's a store I normally don't go to. But if it's a stock-up price and I have enough coupons and time to do it, then maybe . . .

      Delete
  5. I like the thoughts from Anonymous about keeping blank cards for any ocassion. I recently have expressed to my children that they don't need to feel like they have to do something expensive for their friends birthdays, but rather they just need to be thoughtful and smiply find something within their budget that comes from the heart.

    As for price comparisons, we rarely buy our meat from Walmart because they never put their meat on sale. And even though our local grocery store can me a lot more expensive for baking goods, they have weekly specials on their meat so we buy what is on sale for the week.

    I still have a very long ways to go to save more money at the store, but I want to say that this website (blog) has given me the push to try some new things and this week I learned to cook dry beans in my crock pot because of how much you have said it can save my family money. The beans turned out delicious and I am so grateful to have the courage to try new things. I am going to continue to explore new recipes for beans so that we can continue to save money because we are trying desperately to pay off our student loans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather, here's one possible birthday gift idea for your children, especially teens, who have know the birthday person a long time. A couple years ago, my daughter received a "brag book" type photo album for her 15th birthday from a girl she met on the first day of kindergarten and who was her best friend for years after that. They drifted apart just a little bit in 7th grade when the friend switched from their private religious school to the public middle school but they are still friends and have gotten back more since they are in the same high school. My daughter got a lot of gifts that night, but I think the brag book was really her favorite and it brought back a lot of memories for both of them. The kids at the party who didn't know them "way back when" were also fascinated at the stories behind the pictures and the couple who did know them in grade school laughed too because they remembered the field trips and such in the pictures.

      Delete
  6. I didn't hear it from someone else, but last week I was planning my grocery shopping, and decided to look at the loss leaders for a store that's usually pretty expensive. I was shocked to see that they had boneless pork shoulder for $1.19/lb - it hasn't been that low in a long time, at least in the world I was shopping in, but I rounded up my boys and went over there and was able to purchase a couple.

    I didn't know that about the toilet paper. We have a Sam's too and now I'm going to check it out. It would be funny for your husband to have an occasional post on something like that, or even if you shared it for him, I think it would be really fun and helpful at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have to thank you so much for this website. While my husband makes a good living, for a variety of reasons our sons will be going to private school. It is quite intimidating to have to break our budget down( again) and try and tweak and tweak and cut til we will be able to pay for the school we feel is the best match. I really feel misplaced sometimes if I talk to people about how hard it is for us to find the money to pay for a private school when I stay home with the children and when public school is free. It feels like a crazy problem to have when some cannot buy food or housing or medical care and we are fine with all three. Thank you for helping me find new and creative ways to trim our spending.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the reminder, Brandy. I usually price compare at the beginning of the year but I really need to do it all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I live in a small town with limited choices. My Dollar Tree now carries various kinds of pasta in 2 lb. packs for $1 can't beat that!Dollar Tree has also started taking coupons within the last 6 weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I started checking distance vs gas cost by using mileage when my husband suggested it last year. While I was working, the hospital where I worked was 17.5 miles away, & the car I drive gets around 35 mpg max, so I was spending slightly more than the cost of one gallon of gas, round trip. When I realized that it costs me nearly $4 to go to Orem, I began planning my trips to the thrift shops in Orem & Provo to be on my way to or from meetings at work. Picking up free coffee grounds at Starbucks at the University Mall isn't "free", unless I am already going past it for another reason - if I'm not, then they cost me $4 in gas. Same with grocery shopping - it has to be a GREAT bargain, or something I can really stock up on, for me to shop other than the 2 stores in my town, unless I am already headed to another town for an appt or something. It is amazing how much one can trim from the budget just by really planning the use of the gas in the car. - Marivene

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I do this, too. It's cheaper to pay a 10 cent fine on a library book than to make a specific trip there and back!

      Delete
  11. Oh Bless Your Heart!!! My dear I get worn out just reading what you accomplish in a week!! I'll give you a pass on missing a little ol' ad.

    I'm fortunate I have a Walmart, Aldi, Meijer, Target, Sams and Save A Lot on one street. (35 mile round trip though) I will admit I don't do as thorough a job as I should at watching prices. I will be doing that a bit more as relatives are starting a tuition reimbursement program and I'll have to hit sales more often at Meijer. Walmart is usually my go to -- typically here their regular price is equal to Meijer sale price.

    Maybe since my husband is an accountant, I could get him to run toilet paper numbers. HAHAHAHA!!!!

    Meat is the big issue here. I did pick up a deal through Zaycon on some really good ground beef (93/7) in March, but their prices too have climbed. Their last truck through here was Labor Day and I couldn't make it there. If you've heard of it and wondered. . . the ground beef was great and I had to add a bit of oil to fry.

    When my step-son was in the home, he would always whine for steak. I carefully explained to him what my price guideline was. (At 6-2, 220#, he would eat ALOT) Sure enough, he was secretly gleaning the ads and found some sort of steak just below the guideline. He got his steak AND a lesson learned!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And got my answer of .0007 cents difference per sheet. Okie-dokie!

      Delete
  12. LOVE this post and glad to meet someone else who doesn't pay more than $2/lb. for meat. (I did a post on that some time ago and had all kinds of people telling me it was impossible!)

    One quick thing- have you ever checked drug stores for toiletries and the like? I've found their sale prices to be cheaper than our grocery stores. Maybe you have reasons for not wanting to shop at drugstores...just thought I'd mention it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have looked there, but so far I'm finding better prices on things at other places (.09 shampoo at Target, and $1.49 on deodorant--and we are specific on our brands, and that it be unscented, which is hard to find). I'm allergic to a lot of toiletries, so while I have changed some things over the years, I'm still finding things best at other places. I still look at the ads for these places and matchups, though, just in case I've missed something.

      Delete
    2. I'm allergic to many cosmetics/toiletries too. Would you share which brands work for you? It's almost impossible to find anything for our family that won't irritate someone!

      Katie

      Delete
    3. Katie, This website has all unscented products and we have used them with success at our allergic house. http://bulkapothecary.com/bulkbases.htm

      Delete
  13. I have learned that many items have more than one use. This week Efferdent was free with coupons. We do not use this product / however it does clean the toilet bowl in a pinch so I took the free product. I also had a coupon for Always pads ( I no longer need these) however, again I took the free product and I ended up using one cut up into small pieces to remove my nail polish when I was out of cotton balls. I have also learned to price match at Walmart saving gas, time and money. I have learned not to waste anything TIME, MONEY, FOOD, MATERIALS I am finding use for so many things others have tossed in the trash.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Brandy,

    It would be most interesting to all of your readers to learn what a full year budget for groceries is in your home.

    Jenna H

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We spend an average of $100 a month for food and $100 a month for toiletries and diapers. Many months we can't do any shopping, so sometimes I'll have $200 in one month for food, and other times we'll have 2 months of nothing to spend on food, so I don't buy anything. In January of this year, for example, I spent $35 on food, but I only had that because it was the money that my grandmother gave me for Christmas. I used that to buy 50 pounds of rolled oats. I didn't buy any food in February.

      Last year I spent a total of $1986.42 on groceries and toiletries combined, which is $165 a month.

      Delete
    2. That is only about $221 for food per person per year! Very well done, Brandy! - Marivene

      Delete
  15. I have become pretty much a one-stop shopper for food and toiletries as well. There is an east-cost grocery store chain (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts) called Wegman's that is consistently rated #1 in the Consumer's Report poll of their readers. People who haven't shopped there are surprised that they have reasonable prices on most grocery items and toiletries. They don't have a weekly sale; instead they freeze prices on certain items for about 3 months at a time. For instance, skinless, boneless chicken breasts are $1.99/pound (and have been since 2010) and are now individually wrapped so you can just take out what you need for a meal and keep the rest in the frig or freezer without needing to rewrap them when you get home. A jar of pasta sauce is 99 cents and an 18 ounce jar of peanut butter is $1.99. The latter are both store brands and just as good (to us at least) as the national brands. Their "natural market" foods (organic, gluten free, etc.) and organic produce section are also huge. I might get cheaper "per unit" prices at other stores if I followed the sales and bought in bulk but as a single working mom with one child, this store and the consistently stable prices work for us. As noted above, time and gas money also count in my sales calculations.

    One more thing about Wegmans - it should be noted that you CAN spend a lot of money there if you want, just by visiting the sizable cheese shop, bakery, and prepared foods sections. I know this from experience...

    ReplyDelete
  16. After reading this, I checked our Walmart to find that .50 Tuna fish. I'm in sounthern Arizona - NO LUCK. Bummer!!!!! Definantly glad this was already a planned trip or I would have been in tears. The lowest price I saw was the Great Value brand and it was .72 a can.

    ~Heather~

    ReplyDelete
  17. I try not to keep track but there are a few instances.

    1) I missed the chance to buy dry pintos at 33 cents a pound because I was overwhelmed by the 50# bag. Price is now double.

    2) The system we have for budgeting is a very good one but it has to be used faithfully. I kept insisting we needed a better plan.

    3) A friend at church does a pay as you go cell phone and has told me it is more than adequate. I went for the contract on the trendy phone. Total waste.



    ReplyDelete
  18. Brandy, there are several places on the internet where you can find recipes that use applesauce and other fruit purees INSTEAD of fats or oils when baking. You could cut way down on your usage of oils and fats when making muffins etc. Healthier and way cheaper if you have fruit trees to make your own fruit purees.
    Carolyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know applesauce can be substituted for oil. My apples trees only produce a very small amount of apples, as they are espaliered trees. I don't have enough apples to can.

      Applesauce with store bought apples is not cheaper than using oil, though--even when I find apples at .50 a pound.

      I'm okay with using oil in cooking. Fats help you to absorb vitamins, such as vitamin E. Fat is an important part of taste.

      Delete
  19. One thing I read online by a blogger stuck with me, she said that when the grocery store near her put ground sausage on sale for $1 pound(which doesn't happen very often), she would buy several rolls and use in recipes in place of ground beef, or cut the ground beef in half with the sausage. I had never thought of doing that, but noticed this past week that the grocery store I go to on a weekly basis carried it for that price. It was also inside the ad, not on the front or back. So I have also started checking the entire ad for each store. Our Walmart does not carry tuna for 50 cent a can, the lowest I have seen it on sale has been around 79 cent can. I am struggling with knowing what price is the best to be able to stock up, with prices on the rise constantly. I am still trying to find good sales on toothpaste and bodywash, around here even with coupons I can't find any toothpaste under $1.50 a tube. The cheapest I see any on sale is around $2-$3 a tube. We used to find it on the 10 for 10 deals at the grocery store, but I believe that has come to an end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you keep a price book? Prices vary so much by region. I try to find the best deals that I can locally (or online) and not compare to what others are getting in other parts of the country.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I have started a price book, but am still working on it and comparing prices at the stores we have in our area. What I find hard is that I will jot down the current price at a store, and then the next week or two when I am in the store shopping, notice that the price has gone up again. If you keep a price book, do you find this happening to you as well?

      Delete
  20. Hi!I was told that Carter lumber has lower prices than Home Depot and Lowe's for some items.I went to Carter lumber and saved money for some pieces of lumber which were priced higher at Home Depot and Lowe's.Pat

    ReplyDelete
  21. I recently learned that costco has a store brand detergent that is akin to All free and clear, only cheaper. If I can't get any soap made for my own homemade stuff, I'll try this route for laundry detergent.

    Penelope

    ReplyDelete
  22. I save quite a bit by price matching at Wal-Mart. They will match most any advertised price (they do not do BOGO and percentage sales, it needs a set price).

    So those 10 for $10 sales at the grocery store can be the same at Wal-Mart. Which is great because it saves me the gas and trouble of running to multiple stores. In addition, Wal-Mart has a great coupon policy, allowing coupons that are greater in value than the item. So if you have a $1 coupon for a .50 item, you make .50 :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Have you tried playing the drugstore game? I've been able to get most of our tolietries (deodorant, toothpaste, floss, etc.) free or heavily discounted by doing it. Even if you are very specific to your brand, if you are patient, they generally will eventually have it - and you might consider picking up the free ones and donating them to a family in need.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I much prefer Target shopping over Walmart but this past holiday season Target started price matching like Walmart- including online ads if you show them your phone. It's a pain as you have to go to customer service (at least at my store) but then you can stack a target store coupon plus a manu coupon too if you have them.

    Any chance you might add Google Friend Connect to your blog? I used to read your website and just found you now have a blog- which I LOVE! But I read blogs via GFC. Any chance I might convince you to just add that GFC follow box to the side so those of us who prefer to read blogs that way can keep up too? Pretty please?!

    KK

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I moderate comments manually, so please allow a few hours for your comment to be posted.

This blog is meant to be a source of encouragement to those who are struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet. Please keep your comments kind and uplifting.