Online Grocery Shopping Saves Money

My original plan was to take Emily grocery shopping with me today, but then I thought better of it. Miss Independent doesn’t do well in shopping carts right now — she’d rather run around the store and wreak havoc. Sorry, Charlie — that’s not going to happen.

Instead of doing some night shopping, I decided to do another shop-from-home order. I find it much more relaxing — I can take my time with the sales circular, match up coupons and truly buy what we need. I do it this way maybe once a month. The cost is $10 for them to fulfill your order, but you get every 5th order fee-free, so it averages to $8 for each online order.

Today, they had a special: Spend $150, get $20 off as a coupon. It was only available for the shop-at-home online service. So while it cost me $10 to do the order, I got $20 off — a net savings of $10.

All told, I also wound up saving $35 between sales and other coupons. Definitely better than bringing a fiesty 2-year-old to the grocery store, then spending all of your time trying to keep her in the cart and entertained!


Using Coupons for Grocery Shopping

I used to be a halfway-decent couponer. I dutifully clipped coupons from the Sunday newspaper, weeded out the expired ones from my coupon organizer, and flowed the new ones in. I’d match up the coupons to the weekly grocery store sales, and save about $10-$20 on my order — my local ShopRite doubles manufacturer coupons up to 99 cents, so that’s a big help.

But the past few trips, I haven’t used one coupon. Not a one. Except for a $8 off a total order coupon, which was on the front-page of the grocery store flier a few weeks ago.

I just cleaned out my coupon organizer, and I found coupons going back to late May. I suppose part of the reason is that I’ve been getting a lot of our nonperishable food items from our local Target, which has better prices than the grocery store, where not even a doubled coupon could get me Velveeta Mac & Cheese for $1.50 a box. Or my K-cups, or cereal. But there’s no way in hell I’m going to get fresh meat, dairy or produce at Target — and that’s the time of stuff that doesn’t get the coupon treatment.

So I’m committing myself to couponing for my next big grocery store shopping trip in two weeks or so. We’ll see what happens, because the sales (and the coupons) have been pretty awful lately.

Layway Becoming Popular Again for Holiday Purchases

Since it doesn’t look like the economy’s going to rebound in a big way any time soon, stores are bringing back an old standby: the layaway plan. I remember Kmart used to have a layaway department when I was a kid, and many people took advantage of the program.

How do you use layaway? It varies from retailer to retailer, but the store “holds” your intended purchases for an initial deposit (usually 20% of the price) for a set amount of time while you make weekly payments toward the total, until it’s paid off. Then, you finally get to bring it home. It’s generally used for large purchases of grouped items, or perhaps one big item. Layaway programs can last 30, 60 or 90 days.

Some places only offer it during the holiday season — ostensibly to get you to buy more presents — while others have it year-round. Retailers who offer layaway options include Kmart, Sears and Walmart. There’s usually a fee for the privilege of using layaway; the usual seems to be $5 or $10, with higher fees for more expensive items.

Is it just me, or does it seem like just another way to add to your debt? Without these programs, perhaps people would follow a budget for buying Christmas gifts. This is just another line of credit, and can be just as bad — or worse — than using a credit card to make the purchase.

I’ve seen it touted as a way to “hide” presents, but layaway always seemed a little sketchy to me. If you can’t pay for it and bring it home that day, maybe you shouldn’t be making the purchase!

A Week Off, and I Can’t Sit Still

Mr. Not-So-Frugal and I are off from work all week, and I don’t know what to do with myself. My brother attempted to finish the trim in our newly renovated bedroom, but the compressor broke. Once that’s up, we can clean up in there and get our bedroom set up in there. I was hopeful we could have it done this week, but I don’t know when he’ll get back over to do the trim. I can get a compressor from a friend, but even I draw the line at using machinery while pregnant — amazing, right?

Instead, I’ve started to sort through the many bags of baby clothes given to us by a friend. There are 8-9 bags/bins, and I got through ONE in 45 minutes last night. So that’s a task that will take up some time. I also have a new freelance assignment to get started on.

We managed to get a quick grocery shopping trip on Monday morning, while the store was only semi-crazy. We needed two very important things: cat litter and the free ham or turkey for which we qualified (we went with the ham). Picked up a few other essentials and booked out of there in record time. By the afternoon, there wasn’t a spot to be had in any of the store’s three parking lots. It gets so busy, the town posts a police officer to direct traffic along the busy main drag.

Non-holiday season, the store is always busy. That’s why I place my order over the internet and pick it up twice a month. To me, it’s well worth the $10 fee each time to show up, give them the money and coupons, and have them place the bags in the car trunk for me. But now, I’ve gotten a bit more tired with the pregnancy, so Mr. NSF will now be picking up the orders — because lugging those bags into the house up the front stairs is tiring. And every 5th order is free, so really it breaks down to only $8 per order.

I don’t anticipate going anywhere on Black Friday. I haven’t done a lick of Christmas shopping yet this year, and I’m not going to start until I know if we’re doing grab bags for Mr. NSF’s family. We don’t have many people on my side, so we don’t do the grab bag thing. I have a feeling we’re going to get a lot of things for the baby-to-be, despite it being a grab-bag Christmas. People just can’t control themselves when it comes to baby stuff!