6/27/07

Have I mentioned Aldi?

Wow . . . I cannot believe I have been so remiss as to not mention Aldi, yet! What is Aldi? Let me enlighten you.

Aldi is a way of life! It is it's own culture. Aldi is . . . grocery paradise!

According to their website, http://aldifoods.com/, "Aldi is an international retailer specializing in a limited assortment of private label, high-quality products at the lowest possible prices. Our unique way of operating makes it almost impossible for competitors to match our combination of price and quality. This means ALDI can offer Incredible Value Every Day. Aldi introduced the limited assortment concept to the United States in 1976 when the first stores were opened in southeastern Iowa. Today, Aldi Inc. operates over 800 stores in 27 states, primarily from Kansas to the east coast."

The bottom line is Aldi is a grocer that stocks mainly "off-brand" products at a huge savings for their customers. Trust me--if you are willing to go generic with your food choices, you will save a TON of money. Before Aldi, my husband could not bring himself to buy any other brand of macaroni and cheese than Kraft Deluxe. Now, he prefers the Aldi off-brand version, and it costs much, much less. I have watched enough of those under-cover, blind taste test programs where people think they can choose the brand name product over the generic one, and come out looking silly because they prefer the off-brand product. So, if you can just get past the fact that you're not buying a label, you will love Aldi.

Aldi is a unique shopping experience, though, so there are a few things you have to know before going.
  • Take a quarter with you. This is for the shopping cart. Aldi cuts costs by not staffing their stores with a ton of people, and they can do this because you have to insert a quarter to get your shopping cart, thus saving the cost of staffing people who have to run all of the parking lot to retrieve carts that people leave here and there. If you want your quarter back, you have to return the cart. It's really simple, and it works! Aldi has the most un-cluttered parking lots I've seen. And I can't complain because in the end, the cart is free and I still save money.

  • Bring your own grocery bags. Aldi does carry their own grocery bags, but you have to pay for them. So, I just save my old grocery bags from trips to other major grocery and chain stores, and reuse them at Aldi. That way, I'm not paying for more bags, and I'm keeping my old ones out of landfills.

  • Load your groceries onto the check-out belt quickly. The staff at Aldi work very quickly, and will be unloading your groceries from the belt as soon as you put them on, unless there's someone in front of you in line. It might feel hectic, but once you get the hang of it, it's no sweat.

  • Be prepared to bag your own groceries. Bring your own bags, bag your own groceries . . . you get the picture, right?

There are a few things you can't get at Aldi that you will still need to visit your normal grocery store for--things like fresh cuts of meat, and fresh fruit. You can get fruit at Aldi, but their selection is sometimes limited and it's sometimes not that fresh. However, it's hit and miss with that, so just keep your eye open when you're there. We normally get nice bananas there for half the price per pound. They usually have a great selection of grapes, and stock really nice kiwis, too. Like I said, it's hit and miss.

The bottom line is that Aldi's prices are so unbelievably low that you can easily save a TON on your grocery bill. The amount of food we get for $100 at Aldi would easily cost us over $200 at the major name-brand grocery store down the road. So, check it out!

6/26/07

Save money on gas!

Speedway gas stations started its Speedy Rewards program a couple of years ago, and many people have enjoyed racking up points since then. Earning points can get you anything from free snacks to free gas cards to gift certificates to several restaurants. The nicest thing about signing up for the program is saving $0.05/gallon during the summer! Because we're members, whenever we fill up at a Speedway gas station, we get $0.05 off every gallon of gas we pump. If gas is priced at $2.90/gallon, we pay $2.85.

With gas prices falling, right now, it's extra nice! And, even though the prices at the pump aren't as low as we would all like them to be, every little bit helps. So, stop by a Speedway and sign up now to enjoy the savings.

Some other tips for saving gas:
  • Make sure your tires are inflated properly and balanced.

  • If possible, set the cruise!

  • According to www.fueleconomy.gov, for every 5 mph over 60, you pay an extra $0.20 per gallon! Think about it . . . if prices are $3.00/gallon and you consistently drive over 60 mph, you could easily be paying $3.20 or more per gallon. Reducing your speed could save you a bundle!


Consider other tips also offered at sites like the Federal Trade Commission or www.fueleconomy.gov.

6/21/07

LowerMyBills.com

If I have not mentioned LowerMyBills.com, I have robbed you of a superb way of saving precious moula! We did our last cell phone plan through this site, and got our phones for free. The cellular company that we signed-on with wouldn't give us the phones for free, and when we went to them and asked if they would match the deal, they said, "No, but that's a really good deal!" So, we did it through LowerMyBills.com and were really happy with the way things turned out.

Wireless plans aren't the only thing you can look for there, either. Compare prices on mortgage rates, local phone services, internet services, credit cards, loans, and insurance (auto, health, life, home owner's, renter's).

It's a great resource and LowerMyBills.com does all the shopping-around work for you. You just get to enjoy the benefits!

6/19/07

Cheap Airfare

If you live near a major US city, you can save money on airfare. Unfortunately, those of us near smaller cities aren't able to cash in on these great deals, yet, but I'm hoping our day will come.

While saving money on airfare can cost you those nice little frills, it will definitely get you where you want to go without breaking the bank. Try using these two tips:

  • Southwest Airlines—Try downloading "Ding!" from Southwest Airlines. It will run while you're online and notify you (with a "ding") when Southwest posts new sales and specials on airfare.

  • Spirit Airlines—Ever heard of $0.08, $9, or $24 airfares? Spirit Airlines has introduced flyers to the no-frills, no-extra costs flying experience. Click here to receive their e-mail specials, and be the first to know when these jaw-dropping fares appear. I can't wait to take advantage of this one and fly myself and my husband to Orlando for a day at Disney!

Ten creative ways to save money now

  • Save money when you dine out by purchasing discounted gift certificates to your favorite local restaurants at Restaurant.com. Sign up for their e-mail updates, and you'll get offers for even steeper discounts (like 40%, 50%, and even 60% off) on their already discounted gift certificates.

  • Get your local Entertainment book! Visit Entertainment.com and purchase the book for your local area. The 2007 books are really discounted right now, and are valid through November. These books contain TONS of local discounts for everything from oil changes and department stores to movie theaters, restaurants, and everything else!

  • Shop your local thrift store. Thrift stores have junk...granted...but, you can often find treasures among the junk, if you're willing to look for it. And, you WILL save money! Plus, you'll likely help a worthy cause.

  • Buy an annual state park pass. A really fun way to get outside, get exercise, and spend time as a family is to visit your state parks. State residents usually pay a lot less for an annual pass than they would if they paid per visit. Plus, if you buy the annual pass you're more likely to want to make it worth your money by going more, and there's nothing more fun than getting outside and enjoying nature with your family.

  • Sign up for Hotwire.com's e-mail notifications. This is a discount travel site, where you can find tons of great discounted travel deals. But if you sign up for their e-mails, you'll get their "Travel Ticker" notifications that include radically reduced travel deals like $9 airfares from Spirit Airlines, and $300/person cruise deals. Why should seeing the world cost you an arm and a leg?

  • Look for the best price on the books you want to purchase by visiting allbookstores.com. This site will search all online bookstores and find you the best price on the books you love! They include a "buy" link directly to the store you choose.

  • Check gasbuddy.com for the best deals on gas in your area. They even have a widget for Mac users. They're tracking is kept up-to-date by local volunteers who report low prices they see. Become a volunteer, and help get the word out about low prices. It helps everyone!

  • If you are an outdoorsy person, like to camp, etc., you have to shop at Sierra Trading Post. Even if you're not outdoorsy, but like name brands like Teva, Chaco, The North Face, Columbia, etc., this is the place for you. They have everything for fishing, watersports, winter sports (skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.), backpacking, camping, cycling, etc., at WAY below retail. It's definitely worth it to sign up for their deal flyers, too. Other sites that are great for this kind of thing are www.campmor.com, www.outdooroutlet.com, and www.rei-outlet.com.

  • If you're suffering from high credit card interest rates (who hasn't been there?), just call your credit card company up and ask for a lower rate. More times than not, they'll give you a lower rate! All you have to do is ask.

  • And I saved the best for last: FREECYCLE! If you have not started freecycling, it's never too late to start. Visit www.freecycle.org and join your local group. Freecycle is like recycling, only people are giving things away. This organization gives a whole new life to the phrase, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." You just never know what someone might be giving away that you want--a George Foreman grill, a queen sized bed, a bike, etc. You name it...odds are that eventually you can find it on Freecycle. We got a wonderful electric skillet for FREE, just by searching our local freecycle. Many times people are giving away plants, pets, trees, household goods, landscaping materials, and everything else from A-Z. And you can give away your stuff, too! Just post it, and let someone else come take it off your hands.

Welcome to the Bargain Shopper's Paradise!

This is a site dedicated to all you bargain hunters and shoppers, and is filled with valuable tips on where and how to sniff out those bargains that will save you some much needed cash. Besides the fact that saving money is necessary, it can also be fun and something the whole family can enjoy. Throw-out your old presumptions about obsessive coupon clipping and outdated clothes from the local thrift store.

Life on a budget doesn't have to be about missing out!

That's what this blog is all about.

In our current culture, we seem to be very concerned with keeping up--having the latest, best, and brightest things we can. And yet, we sink ourselves deeper and deeper in debt, spend more time playing with our new "toys", and miss out on valuable relationships, financial freedom, and creativity.

So, the Bargain Shopper's Paradise is about having fun AND saving money. It's about grasping the difference between wants and needs, and allowing ourselves the freedom to not have to "keep up" with the newest, best, and brightest, while drowing in debt and the question of "how are we going to pay for this?" Yes--you can shop at a thrift store AND come out looking fabulous! Yes--you can clip coupons AND chuckle to yourself at the woman in front of you in line who paid twice as much as you did for her stick of Secret deodorant! Yes--you can have fun AND save money!

As a self-proclaimed "treasure hunter", I have a plethora of wonderful ideas to share. But I'm counting on you, too! Bring your ideas to the table and share them with everyone. Don't just keep that rush you get from finding the perfect Land's End fleece at a garage sale for $1.00 all to yourself. Share it with us, and maybe we can change the world into one big Bargain Shopper's Paradise!

Any profane, nasty, rude, or otherwise inappropriate remarks or comments will be deleted. Let's keep this clean!

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