ABCs of Saving: Facebok It

This entry is part 7 of 16 in the series ABCs of Saving

Today’s tip is to use Facebook (and other social media sites) for savings.

The savings world has changed quite a bit with all the social media outlets on the scene.  It seems that every couple of months retailers and producers are finding new ways sell their products through this medium.  So, my suggestion is to use the same principle from the ABCs of Saving: Email Yourself Deals and create a user name just for deals for your family.  It could be a family name, instead of your first name.  Then open new Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. accounts using this user name.  You could use the deals email account you set up as the clearing house for all the emails that come from these sites as a result of signing up.

I must admit that I am not very social media savvy, but I have “liked” quite a few of my favorite brands on Facebook and “follow” them on Twitter and I have found that they are alerting their customers to deals and contests through this medium much more.  I love the ease of signing up for contests through Facebook, as well (who knows, I could win someday!).   I have also noticed that stores like CVS offer their Twitter followers special deals, coupons, and previews of their upcoming weekly ads.

How do you use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to save money and/or time?

Pennies from Heaven

ABCs of Saving: Gather Goods in Odd Places

This entry is part 8 of 16 in the series ABCs of Saving

Today’s tip for saving money is: Gather goods in odd places.

I am always surprised at the lack of creativity in our lives.  We tend to have set routines – we go to the same grocery store for years.  We frequent the same restaurants when we dine out.  We fill our time with much of the same activities.  I am a creature of habit more than most – we like our routines around here.  But, I have to ask myself, does my routine help me save money?  Do I search out better deals or just buy the items I am looking for at the same old store each week, not considering there may be a store down the road with a better price.  Do I forget to look around a store to see what they really offer before settling on my purchases?

By thinking outside of our constructed boxes, we can get the same items, eat the same food, and conduct the same lives we already do; BUT maybe for less!  Here’s a few suggestions:

1.  Shop for groceries at the drugstore and the dollar store.  This may not be a revelation to many of you reading, but I am surprised at how many of the “new coupon enthusiasts” don’t know about the potential savings found inside these stores.  The drugstore can offer great deals on staple items like flour, sugar, and canned goods at stock up prices.  This is usually due to coupons they offer in store that can be matched with manufacturer’s coupons to save more money.  At the dollar store, the name on the door says it all.  The only caution at these stores is to check sell by dates.  The inventory at these stores does not always turn over as fast as your local grocer, nor is it as well monitored.  To make sure you get a great deal, make sure the food you want is fresh.

2. Explore the stores you frequent more thoroughly.  If you are like me, there are aisles of your grocer and drugstore that you have never walked down.  What is on these aisles may be a source of savings to you.  There may be a clearance section you have never seen.  There may be a new item you have a coupon for stuck in an odd place.  Or there may be great savings on items you buy normally buy at other stores.  I have noticed that the grocer sometimes has items that are just not moving at their store (because no one thinks to buy them there) like hardware, and odds and ends clearanced out and you can stock up on these items at a great discount.  Examples of this include light bulbs and kitchen supplies (even dishes and pots and pans).

3.  Check other sources.  The grocery, drug, and dollar store are not the only places to get goods for a great price.  Check out your local farmer’s market, the produce stand set up on the corner, or the local carniceria for better prices on local foods.  You may also be able to find great savings on organic foods by going through a local CSA (community supported agriculture) farm.  These sources are often the best places to get the freshest foods, with some produce stands set up directly next to the field where the produce was picked.

What is the weirdest place you have bought an everyday item?  I’m listening…

Pennies from Heaven

ABCs of Savings: Hold Off and Have a Plan

This entry is part 9 of 16 in the series ABCs of Saving

The next letter of the alphabet brings us this tip: Hold off and have a plan.

The surest way to save money in your household is not to spend it, right?  That is not necessarily what I mean when I say hold off and have a plan.  This goes back to what I was saying in an earlier post in this series about delayed gratification.   We need to become creatures of patience when it comes to saving money.  Rightnow may seem like the best time to have that item, but later is in most cases better.

A long time ago I heard a financial speaker talk about how he and his wife walk around the mall or store they are in at least once before making any purchase.  This helps them to have time to talk over the purchase, get on the same page, and decide if it is really time to purchase.  He said they have often never made it back to the store or the checkout stand because they decided during that short amount of time that it was an unnecessary purchase or they thought they could get it somewhere else at a better price.   This plan works to stave off impulse purchases.

I have a number of purchases at thisverymoment I feel I need to have.  But, through the wisdom of my husband, I have learned patience in purchasing.  We have held off on much of our spending until just the right time and often have been rewarded by a lower price (either through a coupon or a sale, or both).  I am not saying you must wait for EVERY purchase to be on sale, but it doesn’t hurt to wait a little bit to see if the price drops.

What to do in the meantime?  Create a plan!

The time it takes to wait for a purchase can be used wisely by researching the product options, creating a budget (for larger items) to afford the purchase, and watching the marketplace for better deals.  When you have done your homework and are able to pay cash at just the right time at just the right price, you leave the store feeling satisfied with your purchase and will likely have more enjoyment out of the product while using it.

How long do you wait to make major purchases?  Do you have a plan when you go to the store and are hit with impulse shopping temptations?

Pennies from Heaven

ABCs of Saving: Identify Key Shopping Times

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the series ABCs of Saving

Today’s savings tip: Identify key shopping/sales times (of the week, month, and year).

Weekly: Check with your local grocer often or make friends with one of the managers to find out when they do their markdowns.  By going on the day they mark things down in the produce, meat, and dairy departments, you can get items for less while they still have a little life in them.  I have noticed that our local Super Target puts high value coupons on their meats on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and I have found some great bargains by shopping on these days.   I found this schedule for weekly markdowns at Target:

MONDAY- Kids clothes, electronics TUESDAY- Women’s clothes, domestics WEDNESDAY- Men’s clothes, toys, health and beauty THURSDAY- Lingerie, shoes, housewares, sporting goods FRIDAY- Cosmetics, hardware, auto, jewelry

Keep in mind that you may need to shop later in the day or the next morning for the items you are looking for in order to get the deals before they are all gone. Also, once you know an item has been put on the clearance rack, you know what day to go back to see if it is marked down even more (if you are waiting for the rock bottom price).


Monthly:  Some major big box stores have markdowns on seasonal items almost monthly.  By watching your local store closely, you can figure out when they usually do their markdowns on clearance items.  Shop these stores at those times and you can save yourself some serious cash.


Yearly: Knowing what time of year retailers are clearing out their inventory to make room for more stock will help you to get some savings off of major ticket items.  Stores have typical months of the year where you can find specific items on sale.   Here is an abbreviated list:

January: linens, small home appliances, holiday/fall seasonal, workout items, baby supplies/items

February: jewelry, perfume, small gift items

March: spring fashions, luggage, gardening supplies

April: bridal gowns, paint, garden supplies

May: home maintenance items (for spring cleaning), small gift items

June: fishing and camping gear, building materials

July: school supplies, school clothing (some states have a tax holiday for these items), sports equipment, baby supplies/items, toys

August: summer clothing, school supplies, lawn and garden items

September: outdoor items (grills, gardening supplies, furniture)

October: cars, appliances, toys

November: blankets and quilts, heating devices

December: Fall clothing, gifts, seasonal items


By knowing these key times to shop, you can cut down your bills by quite a bit.

Pennies from Heaven

ABCs of Saving: Jump on a Steal

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the series ABCs of Saving

You may have been reading along in this series and have noticed I talk a lot about patience when it comes to spending money.  We have talked about holding off and having a plan, about accepting the limits of your budget, about counting the cost before you make your purchases.  Thus, today’s post may seem a bit out-of-place; but hear me out.

There is a specific point in time and a specific price where a purchase just makes sense. That’s why you should jump on a steal when you see it. But preparation is the key to making sure you don’t bust your budget, even on a really great deal!  Here are some tips for planning those impulse shops.

Make a wish list.  Every once in a while, walk through your house and make a list of the items you would like to have if your budget allowed.  Think of the projects you would like to complete, the accents you would like to add, the items wearing out you would like to replace.  Jot these down in a home notebook and tuck the list away somewhere handy.  When you are shopping and you see something that catches your eye at a great price, if it is on the list, jump on it!  The trick is to buy only things that you wanted anyway.  Otherwise, we can find ourselves filling our homes with items that were a great deal, but don’t really fulfill a need or a desire. Having a wish list ahead of time can help clear your head when the thrill of a deal is compelling you to buy.  If it is not on the list, it may not really be a good purchase for your home.

Know what you are shopping for.  Good research goes a long way to saving you money in your home.  Knowing key shopping times, store margins, and price cycles will help you identify when a deal is a steal.  Are you shopping for a new electronic device? You might ask yourself some questions to determine the best time to buy: Would last year’s model do almost all the same things as this year’s model?  How long would I have to wait for this year’s model to be at the same price as last year’s model?  What incentives can I get for shopping elsewhere?  Do I really need all the features of this model?  The higher price the item, the longer your research process should last.

Have a bottom line price.  This is the highest amount you are willing to pay for an item.  What are new curtains worth to you?  How much is too much for a new mattress? Setting a limit beforehand of what you are willing to spend helps you keep your finances in check when the excitement of a deal strikes.  Make sure this limit is reasonable (you aren’t going to get a brand new car for $200) and firm.  It can be very tempting to purchase something that is al-most at your target price, but really you should stick to your bottom line price and walk away from paying anything over it.

Set aside a little extra here and there. Even if you only set aside a little bit each week (say $5-10), you will have a little stash of cash for when the price is too good to resist.  I save all the $5 bills that come into my hands.  I do this with our regular cash system as well as my pocket-money.  Sometimes it can be difficult to stash away those fives, but we have been able to make large purchases with our little stashes (a French door refrigerator and a car) and I purchased a laptop recently with the money I had been tucking away.  If you have a goal of purchasing an item that seems a bit out of reach even at a steal, tucking away small amounts of money when you can will rein it in.  When you see that steal of a price, you will be able to tuck into a store of cash (and add it to money you have on hand, if necessary) to jump on it!

Have a little wiggle room in your grocery budget or your household expenses budget for the great clearance finds or unadvertised specials you see when you are in the marketplace.  Leaving a little margin in your budget will allow you to jump on the steals you see while you are out doing your regular shopping.  When you see tomatoes or toothpaste at a rock-bottom price, you can stock up without guilt because you have a little bit of room in your budget.  Just don’t go too far, only use up the wiggle room and only buy what you will actually use.

How do you react to a great deal at the store?  Do you hold off or do you jump?

Nest Building, Pennies from Heaven

ABCs of Saving: Know Your Price

This entry is part 12 of 16 in the series ABCs of Saving

The best way to save money while having monthly expenses is to know the best price on the items you buy the most.  Knowing the price where you will maximize your savings helps you to recognize the “buy it now” price and avoid only “average” savings.  This helps you to decide when a good deal is a great deal.  Use your knowledge for items you buy on a regular basis.

But knowing your price is not just for the items you buy on a regular basis. It is important to know the best prices on items that are big-ticket purchases as well. It just takes a different approach.

Here are some tips for discovering and tracking your best price: Continue Reading

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