Tag Archives: sale

How owning an extra freezer can help you save money

If opening the freezer compartment of your refrigerator unleashes an avalanche of frozen food, you know the challenges of cramming groceries into this small space. The limited storage area severely restricts your ability to stock up on frozen foods when they go on sale or to buy them in bulk. That’s why I suggest investing in a chest or upright freezer.

In a blog focused on saving money, it might seem strange that I’m encouraging you to spend money on an optional item. But I believe you’ll save money in the long run because of the added buying power a dedicated freezer space provides.

Because I have a chest freezer, I can buy beef in bulk from a local farmer. He sells half of a steer for $2.99 a pound. While that is higher than what I’d pay for ground beef at my local supermarket, it’s considerably cheaper than store prices for the steaks, stew meat and roasts that come with my order. Plus, I can buy beef from a trusted member of my community who doesn’t use antibiotics, steroids or hormones to enhance his cattle.

Stand-alone freezers also come in handy for meat and other items that go on sale at the supermarket. I can stock up on chicken breasts, pork ribs, pizzas, ice cream and frozen vegetables when they reach their buy prices. If there’s a hunter in your family, having a chest or upright freezer gives you storage space for that meat, and you only pay the cost of processing it.

You’ll find two main types of stand-alone freezers. Chest freezers get their name from their design. Similar to a treasure chest, they have a horizontal lid that lifts up. Inside, you find a large storage cavity that typically offers some hanging storage baskets and possibly a dividing wall to help you organize items. Upright freezers, on the other hand, look much like refrigerators, with horizontal shelves for organizing food and a vertical door. Chest freezers typically offer more space per dollar than uprights, but it can be harder to find and dig out items buried at the bottom of their storage space. Chest freezers also require more floor space than uprights.

Freezer prices vary by size. If you can afford it, I’d recommend buying at least a 15-cubic-foot freezer. If you have a household of more than four people, consider a model with 20 cubic feet or more. Large retailers selling chest and upright freezers include Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears and Best Buy. Right now, Home Depot has the cheapest 15-cubic-foot model, a Maytag priced at $314 with free shipping. Plus, you can get 5 percent cash back on your purchase if you go through the Ebates website to order. (Learn more about using Ebates.) You’ll spend about $3.18 a month on electricity to run this model, but you can easily save that much when buying one family pack of chicken on sale. Look for the bright yellow Energy Guide label in stores or online to see the operating costs of other models.

Sometimes, spending money helps you save in the long run. Such is the case with chest and upright freezers.

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To get the best deals, track “buy prices” on your favorite items

When you see an item you like on sale, you may snatch it up and assume you’re getting a great deal. But one store’s sale price may be equal to or higher than the regular price at another retailer. To make sure you take advantage of the best deals on products you buy frequently, you need to determine their “buy prices.” This is the price at which you can take action and buy the item, knowing you’re getting it at its lowest cost.

For example, I’ve determined my buy price for Coca-Cola 12-packs is $2.50 each. This price is offered by CVS every so often in sales ads, and I’ve never found another store in my area that beats this price. When I see that sale at CVS, I stock up so I don’t run out of soda before the next sale rolls around. At Kroger, I know 99 cents per pound is the best price on bone-in, split chicken breasts, so I buy extra when this sale runs and store them in my chest freezer. This is a lower price than I could get at my local warehouse club.

Since costs can vary by geographic area, the best way to determine buy prices on your favorite items is to track them over a period of several weeks. This may seem like an overwhelming task, so start small. Pick three to five items you use often, and then note their prices when you see them in the stores where you normally shop and in sales ads. Follow the prices for at 6 to 8 weeks. Then, jot down the lowest price you’ve seen for each item in a small notebook you can carry with you when shopping. This will allow you to buy with confidence when you see store specials, or wait for a better price.

Over time, you can develop a substantial list of buy prices. Having them written down prevents you from guessing incorrectly about which prices are a good deal. I’ve tracked the buy prices for chicken, canned soup, pet supplies, ice cream, toiletries and more. A little homework can save you a lot of money in the long run.

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Home improvement stores offer holiday savings on paint and supplies

paint brushYou probably associate Labor Day with cookouts, trips to the lake and the start of the college football season. But if you’re willing to put a little labor into the holiday weekend, you can also rack up substantial savings. Major summer holidays, including Labor Day, are traditionally a time when home improvement stores put their painting supplies on sale, and this year is no exception.

Now through September 7, you can save $5 one one-gallon cans or $20 on 5-gallon buckets of Behr, Martha Stewart Living, Glidden and Zinniser paints at the Home Depot. The sale includes primers, interior and exterior paints, stains and waterproofers. To realize your savings, you must complete a mail-in or online rebate form. Remember that paint is not a returnable item, so think carefully about your color choice before asking the store to tint a can for you.

Home improvement giant Lowe’s is also in on the paint-sale tradition, taking a slightly different twist. The company is offering $10 off every $50 you spend on paint and supplies. The promotion includes paint brushes, mixing buckets, tray liners, stain, primer, sandpaper, drop cloths and other items. You’ll receive your discount when you checkout. This sale continues through September 5.

Finally, Ace Hardware if offering 20 percent off all Ace-brand house and wall paint through September 5. The promotion includes quart- and gallon-sized containers. Use the company’s store locator to see if Ace has a location in your neighborhood.

Whether you’re painting, barbequing or sitting in front of your big-screen TV,
I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend!

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Get cheap and free items at CVS–no extreme couponing required

You’ve probably seen or read tales of “extreme couponers” lately, folks who stockpile 20 years’ worth of toothpaste and chicken broth in their basement after getting the items free. There’s no doubt these folks get some real values, but you don’t have to be a super-serious coupon clipper to score great deals. I routinely get items free or almost-free by pairing sales, coupons and the CVS Extra Care program, which gives me CVS Extra Bucks for designated purchases.

CVS is a national drugstore chain which probably has a store near you; check the CVS store locator Web page to find the closest location. In addition to its pharmacy, CVS offers a wide variety of cosmetics, toiletries, household products and food. To earn CVS Extra Bucks, you’ll need to fill out a brief enrollment form at your store and use the Extra Care card you receive each time you shop there.

CVS can be quite pricey on many items, so the key to CVS bargain hunting is to know what a good price is for the items you buy. For example, a 12-pack of Coke may sell for $4.49 at your grocery store, so a sale of four 12-packs for $10 at CVS offers a great price. Usually, the actual sale price for items like this at CVS will be something like 4 packs for $13, but then you get $3 in Extra Bucks back at the end of your sales receipt. You can use the bucks coupon on your next visit for money off almost anything in the store.

I frequently use my Extra Bucks the following week to purchase another sales item offering Extra Bucks. Yesterday, I bought a tube of Colgate toothpaste on sale at CVS for $2.99, with Extra Bucks bringing the effective price down to 99 cents. Then, I used a coupon to lower the cost to 49 cents. With my Extra Bucks from previous purchases, I got the item without any cash out of my pocket.

A few times a year, CVS shows that it cares about customers by rewarding them with bonus Extra Bucks, based on how much they’ve spent at the store during certain portions of the year.

To get the most out of the Extra Bucks program:

    • Don’t let your Extra Bucks expire—that’s like throwing cash away. Their expiration date is usually about a month after the purchase that generated them.
    • Plan your shopping trip by checking the CVS weekly sale ad online. Focus only on items which are as cheap or cheaper than what you’d pay at a big-box retailer like Walmart.
    • Shop early in the week to find merchandise with Extra Bucks in stock.
    • Ask for a raincheck on out-of-stock sale items, and be sure the clerk includes the Extra Bucks offer on your raincheck. When you redeem it, point out the Extra Bucks to the cashier before they enter the raincheck into the register.
    • Use coupons to expand your savings. You can often get toiletries at extremely low prices or free by combining coupons and Extra Bucks.

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