Only Buy Sale Items At The Fancy Grocery Store

We have a few different grocery store options near us, and they cover all of the different price categories that I would say are available.  Here’s how I would define the price options and an example of each that is pretty widely known:

  • Cheap: Wal-Mart
  • Moderate: Kroger
  • Expensive: Whole Foods

We do most of our shopping at Meijer, which is a regional chain that I would classify as moderate.  We have a Wal-Mart nearby, but honestly the experience of shopping in that store just isn’t worth it.  (Note to Wal-Mart: Opening two registers at peak time and causing a 30-minute wait for a standard basket of items is a guaranteed way to get people who value their time to shop elsewhere).

Recently, a store opened near us that isn’t Whole Foods, but it is along the same lines.  It’s called Fresh Thyme (get it?) and it’s actually a pretty cool store, just as is Whole Foods.  They have the requiste huge selection of organic and gluten free foods, and they have a lot of things that say ‘all-natural’ and the like.

And of course, the high prices that go along with it.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with stores like this, and I’m sure there are people who do their regular shopping at places like this. mb-201101apple That’s fine, but it’s not us.

However, we do go to the store, with one basic rule: We buy just about everything on sale.

See, Fresh Thyme has a pretty nifty produce department, and they usually have a lot of great things on sale, and their quality is very good.

So, what do we do?  We buy just the sale stuff!

My wife showed me a bill from a recent trip and it was pretty close to the following list:

  • Bananas – ON SALE
  • Raspberries – ON SALE
  • Blueberries – ON SALE
  • Cucumbers – ON SALE
  • Tomatoes – ON SALE
  • Carrots – ON SALE

Every one of the items on the list had a regular price and the sale price for which we paid.  My wife knows produce and the sale prices were actually good prices!

She ended up with the list above (and maybe a few more items) for just about $17, with the savings noted as over $10!

By using the expensive store as a secondary store, it saves us money.  My wife makes a weekly trip to the regular store, but by planning out her trips, and buying her produce across multiple stores to make sure she gets the best price, we add up our savings quite a bit!

What works for us is that the expensive store is right down the street.  While many people simply don’t have the time to go to multiple stores, the location makes it worth our while.

Now, I have no idea if they’re actually making money on us, and I’m sure that we’re not their ideal customer.  I’m sure that they would prefer that their customers either do their full shopping trip there, or at least fill in their sale items with a few regular priced items.  Hey, as long as there are enough of those people out there, we’ll be content to shop there just for the sales!

I don’t know if the $10 that she saves is repeatable every week, but with even half that amount, we could be saving $260 per year!

That’s a nice chunk of change, and you figure, we’re probably getting better quality food on top of it.

Expensive stores (as a fill-in option) for the win!

Readers, do you save money by shopping between multiple stores?  Do you find yourself frequenting the more expensive stores exclusively for their sale items?  

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Do You Know Where Your Money is Right Now?

Your money has a mind of its own. Just like your teenager, your new schnauzer puppy, or that guy in accounting who keeps goofing off, you’ve got to keep an eye on your money to make sure it doesn’t end up places it shouldn’t be. “But wait,” you might say, “my money is inanimate and, increasingly, just a bit of digital data. It sits where I put it, awaiting my beck and call!” That may be a comforting idea, hot shot, but there are actually a lot of ways you may be losing money without even realizing it. The first step is to learn about ways that this happens to people just like you. The second step is to take the necessary action to remedy the situation.

Let’s be clear.  Your money doesn’t actually make decisions on its own. It will only respond to a command from someone who has authority over it. In a perfect world, you would be the only one who has the ability to call your cash to action. But that’s not the way things work for most people. In fact, there may be a bunch of people who have the ability to pull your money out of your checking account: your mortgage company, your utility companies (through auto-pay options), your kid’s tuition company, etc. . Those are all positive examples of convenient ways you can pay your way in life, without having to consciously move money around every time something needs to be paid off.

However, sometimes we can sign away a little too much control. The early 21st century has been awash with new subscription options for things that we do or use every single day. Let’s say you wash your clothes at home. You use roughly one container of the little laundry detergent pouches every two months. So you go online and subscribe to your favorite product at some retailing giant’s website. They send you the thing you need according to your usage schedule, and you never have to worry about running out again.

Some people get a little trigger happy with subscriptions, signing up for well more than they need, and often losing interest in the thing they’ve subscribed to, only to forget they ever signed up in the first place. Forgotten subscriptions can cost you tons of money over the course of months and years.  Gym membership, magazine subscriptions, cable channels you don’t watch, the list can be endless.  Search your accounts for signs of payments you are making for goods or services that you no longer need.

There are also many examples of payments you may routinely make for things you don’t know you signed up for at all! In England, for instance, thousands of people signed up for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) when signing long loan forms, without realizing they had signed up for the service. Millions of pounds paid later, people are suing the insurance companies for fraud. If you have PPI, use this PPI calculator to find out how much you’ve lost and how much you could gain back. Take a careful look at your payments of all types over the past few months and make sure you haven’t signed up for something you didn’t want.

The bottom line is that your money is yours, and nobody will ever care about it as much as you do.  Make sure to give it the care and attention it deserves, or else somebody else surely will…after they deposit it in their account, of course!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Questions To Ask Before Any Major Purchase

We’ve all made major purchases at one time or another.  Whether it be a new (or new-to-you) car, a home, an education, or some other ‘big’ purchase, dropping a big wad of money on something happens to everybody.

The key, however, is to make sure that your money is well spent.

Here are six questions to ask yourself before making a major purchase:

  1. Why Do I Need This? – This is the first and most important question that you need to ask.  Yes, it’s more important than anything to do with the money related stuff, because if you can’t answer this one, you may not need to answer any other question.  Keep in mind that ‘wanting’ something is a big difference from actually ‘needing’ it, so be very truthful and honest about how you answer this.  Now, if your furnace broke and your alternative is to spend the winter without heat, then the answer is pretty obvious, but if it’s replacing a car that you’ve driven for five years and you want another one, you had better do some thinking!
  2. Is this item right for me today? – Nothing is worse than buying something and realizing very quickly after you purchased it that it may not fit your needs.  This example may be dated, but think of purchasing a new computer.  What if you purchased a desktop computer but quickly realized that a laptop might have been more fitting?
  3. Will this item be right for me tomorrow? – This is an important step to consider when making a major mb-2015-09-checklistpurchase, simply because you don’t want to repeat the purchase too soon down the road.  Consider a couple purchasing a home.  This is definitely a major purchase.  When looking at homes and determining what type and size of home to purchase, they need to consider that they may want to start a family.  If so, then they should make sure that the homes they look at can fulfill this need, especially since the purchase costs of a home typically take at least a few years to make back, even in an appreciating real estate market.
  4. Is this going to last as long as I need it? – This question can definitely tie back to the purchase price.  If you’re buying a major appliance, sometimes it might be worth it to pay more for a quality item versus purchasing the cheapest one, only to have to replace it much sooner than planned on.
  5. Can I afford this? – This one is pretty self explanatory.  You have to figure out how you’re going to pay for whatever it is you’re buying.  If you can’t afford it, you might scrap the idea for now, but in some cases (e.g. the aforementioned furnace that went legs up), you might not have a choice.  Then, you get into the fun part of…
  6. How am I going to pay for this? – Deciding how to pay for your purchase is something that you need to spend a lot of time thinking about.  Can you afford cash?  Can you get a loan?  If so, is the interest rate reasonable?  How long will you be paying for it?  In all cases, you should not only consider the costs associated with each payment option, but consider the trade-offs associated with each item.  If you pay cash for something, you might be putting your emergency fund at risk.  If you take out a long car loan, you might be hamstrung on your monthly budget in other areas.  Broaden your scope of considerations beyond just the cost of that item.

If you consider these six essential steps before making a major purchase, you will definitely be on the right path.  Each purchase is unique, so there are assuradely going to be other things you think about depending on what it is you’re purchasing and your personal financial situation, but make sure that you don’t skip past any of these, and remember, honesty is the best policy!

Readers, what major purchases have you made recently and what were the considerations that you put in before making the purchase?  Or did thinking about things make you delay or cancel the purchase altogether?  I’d love to hear your input in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

I Hate Buying Or Doing Something Twice

One of my pet peeves is when something gets done and then has to be done over again.  The same goes with buying something and having to buy it again.

I tend to take the long view on this, as well.  For example, I shook my head when I found out that a road that I remember them building in 1989 was being rebuilt.  I guess here in Michigan, on a road that’s heavily used by both cars and semi trucks, that makes sense, but I still shook my head!

But more recently and more close to home, we’ve had two such examples, and both drive me crazy!

Camping Cup

We each have a drink cup for when we go camping.  They’re plastic cups with a built in straw and a screw on top.  As many of our camping trips involve spending time at the beach, a cup like this is great and a must-have for us.  We use them for water, iced tea, or sometimes stronger stuff.

On a recent trip, mine got broken.  It was a dumb sequence of events, totally my fault, but the lid got cracked.

The cup itself is fine and I’ll probably use it for around the house, but it needed to be replaced, and it drove me crazy.

My wife ended up getting me the exact same cup, and I cringed when she showed it to me.  I explained that a different design might have taken away some of the sting, but being that it was the exact same cup, I was thoroughly mortified!

Kitchen Ceiling

Over the past couple of years, we’ve done some minor sprucing up of the kitchen,  We started by replacing the sink and faucet, then later got a new table and chairs, and also repainted.  All of that has given it a pretty fresh look.

I did a full repaint including the ceiling, walls, and trim.  I did have a couple of spots on the ceiling that I needed to touch up that have been lingering on my list for a while, but that got moved up in priority after a recent combined effort between my two kids.

mb-2015-08-leakOur four year old daughter is fully potty trained, but she’s just getting around to the part where she takes care of wiping herself. She seemed to be doing a pretty thorough job, but as it turns out it might have been a little too thorough.

She’d apparently gone earlier in the day and used an excessive amount of toilet paper, but either didn’t look or didn’t realize the difference in the flush.

Fast forward a few hours and the next person to use the toilet was my son.  He went in and noticed that something didn’t look right, and flushed the toilet.  The water didn’t go down so he….flushed it again.

I was downstairs cleaning up after dinner so I had no idea of what was going on until he came down in tears telling me that he’d ‘flushed too many times’.

I instantly figured out what had happened and went upstairs to start cleaning up.

Fortunately, the clog was in the pipes so everything that overflowed was water.  I still did a sanitizing of the floor, rugs, and surrounding area.

Unfortunately, because of the way that they laid the tile, there was a very small hole in the floor next to the toilet.  Just big enough that some of the water drained into the hole before I was able to mop it up.

Just enough where it left a couple of wet spots on the ceiling in the room below.  Which of course is the kitchen.

*sigh*

I really wasn’t sure how much water had gotten in and how wet it was, so I poked some small holes (with a nail) so that if there was any pooling, it wouldn’t destroy the drywall.  Thankfully no water came out.  But, there is a small saucer size spot that now needs to be painted along with a few spots along what I’m assuming is a tape line as it runs straight in a line.

I ran a fan over it to get everything dried off.  I will plug the small nail holes and put some primer over the spots that got wet in order to seal it, and then will have to repaint.

I’m hoping that since I just recently painted that I don’t have to do the entire ceiling over again!

Either way, I just shook my head in disbelief that two kids in a totally innocent sequence of events could cause this to happen.  At the same time, I knew it could have been worse.  My son could have kept flushing or the hole could have been bigger or he could have said nothing or the water could have been less than clear.  Thankfully, none of those circumstances happened, so I guess I have to look out for the positive.

Still, I hate rework!

Readers, what have you had to re-purchase or re-do?  Does it drive you crazy or can you shrug it off as just an unavoidable fact of life that things like that happen?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.