Thrifting Haul

Saturday was our 17th wedding anniversary. My husband asked me what I wanted to do and I said thrifting. So we went to two locations of our local thrift store. I love going after Christmas because you can find the treasure that people cleared out of their houses prior to the holidays as well as the stuff they donated to make room for the new stuff. Sometimes you even find stuff with price tags still attached. Here are some of my haul from this trip:

This is our senior dog, Ruby, photobombing here.

Total, I spent $31 on everything. I am not sure on individual prices for some of them because the one location we went to gave me a discount on the holiday stuff and the receipt just totals up how many were $1 or $2, etc. Maybe because I am a librarian, I like researching things. I looked up some of the items. Those iron script words “live laugh love” are available online for about $18 and I got them for $1.00. The red glass candle jars had the original price tags on them of $16.99 each; they were two for $3. The ceramic owls dish has a price sticker from one of those designer discount stores for $16.99 which means original price was probably more than that. Those yarns are discontinued, but can still be purchased places for $6.50 each. They cost $1.00 each. Total I estimate that my thrifting haul has a value over $125 if I had purchased them new. Maybe more since I could not find exact matches and that is a bit of a guesstimate, but the value is not why I like thrifting. (BTW those mysterious green things were my husband’s pick. They are Christmas light storage wheels.)

Yes, it is cool to find out that the item you bought for $1 is actually worth 20x what you paid, but it is more about getting stuff you like and not spending a lot for it. Some of my favorite furniture finds came from our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I have a pair of wicker chairs I purchased for $75 total and a pretty nice red dresser in my foyer that I picked up for $50…sorry, no pictures of those. We took down the holiday decorations and the elves still need to clean up after the fake pine needles and melted sow.

Back in high school, I spent a lot of my paycheck at my local Goodwill on clothes. I had a fascination with men’s wool sports coats and then vests during warmer months. That was my signature style to the point where our underclass-mates put on a skit when we were graduating and the girl playing me had a men’s vest over her T-shirt to show who she was playing. Then when my son was a baby, I once again turned to Goodwill for my professional attire as the paychecks were a little tight. These days, I mainly purchase from the clearance sections at Target, Old Navy, and Kohl’s. Oh, and can’t forget about Ross. I make an annual trip on my birthday to Ross to purchase new wardrobe additions.

I no longer buy my clothes from thrifting mainly because our local thrift stores do not have the level of organization of color, style, and size that Goodwill has, which is too far away. I don’t have the patience for it anymore. But I love looking through the artwork and jewelry to see what I can find. Thrifting can be overwhelming, but it is fun.

Have you scored any treasure thrifting? Tell us about it in the comments.

The Saving Addiction

For the past six months, I have been couponing. Now don’t get me wrong, I have talked about couponing before and Walmart price wise was always the best deal. However, that is where the coupon matching comes into play. My local Publix accepts competitors coupons and I have to say that my savings would not work without this. The idea is to watch the sales circulars for the Buy One Get One sales that Publix runs every week…then pair that sale by stacking 2 manufacturers coupons with 2 store coupons. You can use 2 coupons because you are buying 2 items…even though the one will be discounted at the register, it still counts. Publix has store coupons each week plus my store accepts Target coupons (watch the fine print, sometimes store coupons are one per customer, not per purchase).

Yes, I do pour over the ads and scour my coupon batches to match stuff up, but technology is there to make things easier. I follow several coupon and savings blogs that match up the coupons for the sales. I used to follow the Krazy Coupon Lady, but found that I couldn’t use all of her advice. (I tried the binder idea, but couldn’t keep up. Right now I have the binder to organize my loose coupons and use file folders for my sheets of coupons from the paper and printed on the Internet.) She has just too many stores that I couldn’t use, like Albertson’s…oh, how I wish Albertson’s were still in the area. I still use her site for links to printable coupons, but not so much for the deal match ups. One site that I found and absolutely love is Addicted to Saving. She is a Florida girl which means that these are deals I really can use. I love the Publix coupon match ups! Another great place to find matchups are the forums on Hot Coupon World. They list the sale items posted in the circular and then follow up with the coupons that correspond to the sales.

The trick to couponing is to have multiple copies of your coupons. You can buy coupons off of sites like Ebay, but I am leary of doing that because there are some dishonest people out there passing fake coupons that you will get charged the minimum $2,500 fine for using. You also need to be careful of what printables you download. (3/17/12 Update: You may check out the list of what currently circulating coupons are out there at the Coupon Information Corporation.) The best option is to either get your friends and family to give you their paper inserts or to buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper. Some cities will even allow you to have multiples devlivered to your house. I only get one copy of the paper delivered to my house, Sunday only. I admit this is because I am a bit lazy. I don’t want to have to go out to buy more papers if they don’t have any worthwhile coupons that I can use. Sunday Coupon Preview will give you a list of the coupons coming out in the Sunday paper, but I have found that sometimes there are slight variances, so I don’t always rely on it (it is a great tool for planning Sunday shopping trips when you know a coupon you can use will be coming out that day).

So am I really saving with coupons? Well, yes and no. I average about 50-70% savings on every shopping trip. I am still spending as much as before, but we have a fully stocked pantry and freezer chest. My son has a variety of snacks to take to school and we try new foods out that we might have hesitated about before. We are also eating out less because we have things stocked in the pantry and freezer that are quick to cook when we don’t feel like cooking (I.e. chicken fingers). Now a lot of the coupons are for processed food items, so you might not find that this is something that would work for you. But there are great deals on frozen vegtables and canned items. While fresh is always the best option, these are a pretty great second. Just remember everything in moderation.

Supermarket Saving Simplified

There is a lot of hype right now about extreme couponing. We have all heard the tales about the woman who got a cart of groceries for only $5. Yeah, in a perfect world we would all have that luck. Now living in an area where my supermarket choices are pretty limited, I will admit I more often than not end up at Walmart or Sam’s club to do my grocery shopping. I also don’t use coupons mainly because Sam’s won’t take them and Walmart usually has a cheaper generic.

Really it has been my experience that the store generic item can taste just as good as the brand name. Thanks to the wonderful late Mrs B who taught me 5th grade grocery store math, I am also able to determine looking at the labels on the supermarket shelf which is a better buy: 2 of the smaller items or the larger item (most of the time it is buying the 2 smaller items, bigger does not always mean you are getting the best price). When you look at the shelf label check out what the price per ounce is for the two items. Sometimes it is only a difference of about .02, but all those pennies add up.

So what do you do if there is a brand name item that you really want or need (like Chocolate Cheerios which is really a bit of both. Mmmm…chocolate)? This is where coupons come in handy. The Sunday paper is the best place to look for coupon inserts on brand-name items. Store or product web sites can also be a great place to find coupons since many stores are now accepting print at home coupons. Be sure to check out the stores policy.

You have to love Walmart because they are really competitive for your business. Competitiveness is good for the consumer. You may have seen those “Match It!” commercials, well, it’s true.

Click here for the Walmart Matching Policy

Not only will they price match, but they will also accept coupons from other stores as long as they follow the following criteria:

Click here for the Walmart Coupon Policy

Perhaps you don’t have time to scan all those ads and websites to find the deals. This is where wonderful sites like SavingsAngel come in very handy. This site costs about $20 a month or $7.99 for a day pass. I was able to get a free 10 day trial to test the site out and I am kicking myself that I had just finished my shopping for the next two weeks because the site it just that awesome. You can choose among major chains to check out their sales for that week and the site will match it up with available coupons for even more savings (in some cases you do need to have those Sunday circulars as the coupons are not always available for direct download). You just click to add items to your grocery list and it will divide that list up by store.

Remember when scouting out the best price you will sometimes have four different stores listed on your grocery list, but you don’t always have to drive around town because Walmart has that price matching option available to you (though you will need the original store circular in most cases. It might be a good idea to subscribe to the Sunday edition of your paper). Maybe next time I go to the grocery store I will have joined the coupon game…then again knowing me…maybe not. But it is nice to know that even not living in a major consumer area like up north, I still have my options. šŸ˜‰