I have loved going to Starbucks since my college days. We would go on a fairly regular basis and get a cup of coffee whilst studying (read: generally procrastinating with books open). And I still love to treat myself to Starbucks, but it is admittedly an expensive treat. But in the last couple of years the folks at Starbucks have worked very hard to make it something a bit more budget-friendly (meaning people will come more often!). Their Starbucks Rewards program is actually very generous and makes a coffee-flavored goody more attainable even on a budget.
NOTE: This post includes affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive remuneration. No pressure, I only bring you things I love and think you will, too!
I do realize that to some today’s task might not sound much like an accomplishment worth writing about, but I am pretty pleased it was finished today and it was not the easiest task I have done this month. You see, I have been complaining about my cell phone for a few months now and my techie husband has been gently encouraging me to take the plunge and buy a new one.
After complaining about it yet another time, my husband said, “We could get it over at Best Buy and get them to price match it from Amazon and have it today.” Well, yesterday was today in this story, but we have a toddler and a baby, so you do things when you can. But I was motivated to say yes because I am a ShopKicker and I knew I would be able to really rack up the rewards if I purchased at Best Buy.
I talked about creating an email account to corral all the sale notifications and coupons without filling up your personal email account in the ABCs of Saving: Email Yourself Deals, so this is a kind of follow-up to that tip.
When you are standing in line with your stack of coupons and a line 5 people long behind you, the world of saving money can seem like a very lonely and small place. But I assure you, it is not. The network of penny-pinchers is vast and varied. You can increase your savings by tapping into it.
Have you ever gotten to the store to get that great deal and found out you missed something along the way? The deal is no longer available. Your coupon is expired. A piece is missing to get your best savings. Or, even worse,: have you ever gone to a store to get a deal with a coupon and walked away having spent more money than you thought you would because the deal didn’t work? The checker told you that you couldn’t use the coupon or the deal was not available on that particular product.
The best way to assure you get maximize your savings is by reading the fine print. And in the coupon/saving world, there can be quite a bit of fine print. Here are some things to highlight in the fine print so you can get the maximum savings possible.
Do you remember those American Express ads from the 80s and early 90s that said, “Don’t leave home without it?” I can’t recommend you follow their advice regarding their product, but I can recommend it when it comes to lists.
I get into more trouble financially when I walk into a store without a list. I always have. But the problem has grown worse lately (ahem…pregnancy and babies). I can literally discuss the items we are there to buy with my husband just outside the store, walk in the doors and ask, “Why are we here again?” It happens all the time! And my forgetfulness is expensive! I either overcompensate by buying a bunch of items I don’t really need or I don’t get anything and then get home and kick myself because I suddenly realize what I really needed (and I get to spend more gas money driving back to the store)!
The reasons for making a list are pretty obvious: they keep you on track on spending, they help you to remember to get all the items you truly need, and they force you to really consider what is necessary.
But have you considered which lists to make?
Here are some lists you can make that help you keep your finances on track:
Grocery This is a standard list. I always make mine on the front of an envelope, so I can put any necessary coupons inside. I make my list based on our weekly menu, after I have shopped my pantry. I also make the list after looking through the grocery ads (either print ads or online) making sure I can stock up on items that are at my buy it now price.
Household Goods This is a great list to keep on the refrigerator or close to the door where you leave the house. These are the items you need, but don’t necessarily buy in the same place you purchase groceries. When we have a list of a reasonable size, we plan on going to the store as a weekend outing with the family. Having the list helps keep us out of the store for every little item that comes up, in danger of impulse purchases.
Wish lists I talked about making a wish list in this post. But it bears repeating that having a list of items you really would like to have on hand will help you when you get to the store. Seeing an item that you just love, but don’t know where it would go in your house can be tempting. Those get it for a rainy day purchases often sit in closets, contribute to clutter, and become regretted purchases. You will save yourself money if you only buy items on the wish list. (TIP: Keep in mind the item on the wish list could be as unspecific as “a piece of furniture for the entryway” or “organization for under sinks”)
Meal Plans/Go-to Meals – This is a new one for me and I am working on creating a go-to list of meals. These are meals that can be prepared with less than 15 minutes prep time and require only a few items from the store. Keeping a list of these meals and the ingredients required on hand (even in your phone) can ward off the last-minute drive-thru desperation and keep your family fed with meals they love.
To Do/Priorities – This list will help you keep things straight when the temptation is there to get everything you need at once. This is part of holding off and having a plan. Keeping a list of the items you want and the things that need to get done in the house, by order of priority will help to keep you on track with your plan and save you money by not purchasing all the items on your wish list at once.
What lists do you take with you when you head out to the stores?