Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July Savings

I recently developed a money-saving class I have been presenting to local women in Kansas.  The class, which consists of a power point about an hour long, demonstrates how to save money on groceries. After all, groceries are most families largest expense after their rent/mortgage. Your banker always demands you make your full mortgage payment but you can control how much you spend on groceries.  

In my class, the most popular element of the power point always seems to be coupons and how to use them to get grocery items for next to nothing.  While this is only one way I teach to save money, I have decided to start posting some of the best deals I find each week in the Topeka, Kansas area. If you have taken my class, you should know the basics. If you would like to schedule a class, please feel free to contact me at I offer group and one-on-one classes.  It is my hope the class will start you on a path to saving thousands of dollars off your annual grocery bill.  Plus, it's fun!

Last week I was on vacation so I got behind in my grocery shopping.  However, holidays always bring great grocery deals that I didn't want to miss. So yesterday, I made a menu for the week based around what was on sale locally.  Being the Fourth of July, picnic items were cheap.  As I teach, always stock up on sale items.  I'm not talking about devoting a room in your house to shelves of groceries you will just eventually throw out.  No, when things go on sale, simply buy enough to last about three months. Most items go on sale about every 3-4 months so it is not necessary or desirable to stockpile more than a limited supply. 

This week, condiments, hot dogs and hamburger were all on sale. I may feel like steak and baked potato but in order to save money, we eat based on what is cheapest. Here is my menu for this week, based on what was on sale locally:

Tacos (just starting to get a few tomatoes out of the garden to use with the tacos)
Broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl
BLTs and salad
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini and squash (also from the garden)
Homemade Pizza
Hotdogs and grilled potatoes
One night of leftovers or as I like to call them, Delicious Do-Overs

Here are some of the great deals I got this week.  My plan is to post the deals I find early so if you live in the Topeka area, you can also take advantage of local specials.  I imagine most areas in the United States ran similar sales this week.

I purchased these items at Apple Market. The French's mustard was on sale for 98 cents each.  I had a coupon for 30 cents off each bottle so after double coupon each bottle of mustard cost 38 cents.  This is enough mustard to last me a very long time because I hate mustard. The KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce was also on sale for 98 cents.  I had coupons for $1.00 off two.  I purchased four bottles at 98 cents each - two coupons totaling $2.00 off, for a final price of 50 cents a bottle.  In essence, I paid for four bottles what you would normally pay for one.  This is enough BBQ sauce to last our family for 3-4 months. 

I paid 95 cents for the bananas.  Apple Market has what they call "Banana Tuesdays" and sell bananas for 39 cents a pound on Tuesday.  If you buy a lot of bananas, I doubt you will find them anywhere else in Topeka for less. The sausage was on sale for $1.29 a package.  This sausage is usually around $2-3 dollars a package.  I love sausage and it's cheaper than hamburger so I often substitue it in any recipe I can that calls for hamburger.  I bought four packages but then wished I had bought more at that price.  Lucky me, today's Apple Market ad indicates they are selling the same sausage for 98 cents a package.  This is an incredible deal.  I rarely see it for less than $1.00 a package.  Think of all the things you can make with sausage...spagetti sauce, pizza and goulash. Stock up people.   

All together I spent $9.17 (before tax) for the above pictured items.  Of course, I picked up a few other items while I was there since you can't live on BBQ sauce and mustard, spending a total of $26.53. I also bought Lipton Tea on sale for $1.79 for 24 large family size tea bags (about $1.00 less than most local stores). And I have to plug Apple Market's produce...they have some of the nicest in town and often the cheapest. For example, I bought a head of romaine type lettuce for $1.29 which sells at Dillon's for $1.89. I also bought some Kraft shedded cheese for $1.98 a package.

Ever have one of those days?  Yesterday was mine.  I left the house without my cell phone.  Though I grew up without a cell phone, now I feel lost without one.  Worse yet, I forgot my debit card.  I felt pure panic when I couldn't find it in my purse.  Thankfully, I had enough cash to purchase the items at Apple Market and Dillon's number one.  At the first Dillon's, I found these great bread bowls on the clearance rack for 49 cents each, some clearance cake for $1.49 and three containers of coconut pecan frosting on close out for $1.19 each, normally $1.99.  Before tax, the above items were $6.04. 

After running home to get my debit card, I went to Dillon's number two.  I had only planned on going to one Dillon's store but didn't have enough cash to get everything I needed.  Dillon's was running one of their buy 10 items, get $3.00 off now and a coupon for $2.00 off later. While these events can save you money, I find them complicated and a little stressful.  The $2.00 off coupon has a short redemption window so you have to remember to use it right away.  I assume the store hopes you will fail to ever redeem it. 

Anyway, I found these great deals at Dillon's.  A package of clearance hot dog buns for 99 cents, a bottle of Ajax dish detergent for 60 cents ($1.00 - .20 cent coupon doubled), four packages of Hefty storage bags (on sale for $1.19 with purchase of 10 participating items minus .50 cent coupon = .69 cents each or $2.76 for all four), and 4 more bottles of KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce for $1.50 or .38 cents each ($4.00 minus $2.50 in coupons). The Yakisoba noodles and Kraft Fresh Taste products were free after coupons.  All of the above items cost $5.85 before tax. 

These were great deals but I still had to buy other groceries totaling $57.34 at Dillon's.  One thing I have learned to do is always add up my coupons before check-out and double check they all were deducted.  I happened to notice this trip that not all my coupons had been credited and had to go to customer service to get it corrected. As I shop, I write everything down as I put it in the cart so I can make sure it scans correctly plus track my coupons.  Dillon's has a policy that if an item scans incorrectly, they will give it to you free.  Plus, I never want to get to the check out counter without knowing exactly what I am spending.  It is amazing how many errors I catch. 

Altogether, I spent $81.56 on groceries this week plus $8.89 tax (total $90.45).  I saved $26.44 with coupons and clearance items.  I do not keep track how much I save by stocking up on sale items though I imagine it would be the most significant savings.  After all, if all your meals are primarily made with items you bought on sale, the savings adds up. This week I spent around $1.84 per meal per person (21 meals x 2 people = 42 meals).

I hope to post some of this weeks deals tomorrow so you can share in the savings!  Let me know what you think.  Is this post helpful?

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