Recycling Has Paid: Here’s A Breakdown So Far

Our community participates in a unique recycling program where your recycling is weighed during pickup (the scale is on the truck) every week, and you get ‘points’ that you can ‘spend’ on coupons and products at local and online retailers.  When the program was introduced about a year ago, it fell in conjunction with a new city trash collection program that lowered our trash bills about 50% and offered recycling opportunities on many items.

We can now recycle plastics 1-7, glass, all paper, cardboard, and other items.  The city provided all residents new garbage and recycling containers.  They’re both very big, and we’ve found that since the program kicked off, our recycling bucket is full more often than not, where we’ve never even filled up one quarter of our garbage bucket.

I thought I’d take a look back at how we’ve redeemed some of our ‘rewards’ and how, in addition to the 50% lower bills, how recycling has paid off (not that we need an incentive to recycle and be green, but saving green is always an added bonus!)

July 2009

  • Bed Bath & Beyond – $10 off $30 purchase (Qty: 1) – We always get 20% off coupons, but this amounted to a 33% off coupon if you bought an item priced $30.  I’m not sure what we used it for, but I know we kept it as close to $30 as we could.

August 2009

  • Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty: 5) – At the time, the number of points they charged was next to nothing.  The maximum you could get at one time was ten.  I only ‘bought’ five because I actually thought there would be a catch, that it was such a good deal.  We waited until they were on sale for $1 per two-liter bottle, so we got some soda for free just in time for my son’s baptism party!

October 2009

  • More Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty:10) – Now that I knew there was no catch, I loaded up on as many as we could and this batch lasted us through the holidays.
  • Simply Juice – $1 off any size (Qty: 1) – We usually buy juice from concentrate but decided to look for a sale along with this coupon, and got a very cheap, tasty bottle of juice!
  • Kraft Salad Dressing – $2 off (Qty: 1) – We were able to find salad dressing on sale for $2 so we got a free salad dressing!
  • Local Restaurant – $5 off $25 (Qty:1) – One of our favorite places for breakfast offered this coupon.  Their prices are pretty reasonable as it is, and we like supporting local establishments.  We haven’t used this yet only because we would need a couple of extra people to join us to reach a $25 total, but we have it and are excited to use it soon!

January 2010

  • Even More Coca-Cola Products – $1 off any size (Qty:10) – We just used the coupons on these and got free soda for Baby Beagle’s first birthday party.  Note: They raised the ‘point’ cost on these to double what they had previously been.  Still a pretty good bargain.
  • Huggies – Buy one get one free – We got a free jumbo pack of diapers, and we were able to use a coupon on the pack we paid for.  Ka-ching!
  • Simply Juice – $1 off any size (Qty: 2) – We haven’t redeemed these yet but will make sure to do so before they expire!

February 2010

  • Local Plant & Flower Nursery – $10 off $50 (Qty: 2) – We have purchased our flowers for the past couple of years at a local establishment.  By the time we buy a few flats, a hanging basket, soil, and other various needs, we usually spend around $125.  This will allow us to knock $20 off that!
  • Bed Bath & Beyond – $10 off $30 purchase (Qty: 2) – We were able to buy items off a wedding registry and save some bucks along the way!

I can’t remember what the diapers cost, but I think that the added up savings from all this is just about $100.  That’s not bad for doing something that we were planning on doing anyways, and the items are all items that we were going to buy anyways.  Plus, we still have a ‘balance’ that we can use to purchase coupons that we find may be useful to us.

Overall, I’d say that recycling has really paid off!

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When Saving Money On Groceries Isn’t Necessarily A Good Thing

I’m all for saving money at the grocery store.  We save money in our house by a multi-faceted strategy:

  1. Clip coupons – My wife is great at cutting out coupons and we also use some of the online coupons sites as well
  2. Shop for sales – We will buy things on sale that we need this week, or if it’s not immediately perishable, that we know we will use in future.  If we can combine the sale with a coupon, this is even better
  3. Buy what we can in bulk – We have a Costco membership and some things just make sense for us to buy in bulk: cans of mushroom, parmasean cheese, spaghetti sauce, granola bars and other snacks are all staples from Costco.  The key is to make sure we use everything up.

However, I think there’s cases where saving money on groceries might not always be the best.  How?  Well, if you’re spending excessively and buying things that you don’t need or won’t use.

The trigger for this article was actually a commercial that’s aired a number of times over the past few months for Kroger, a national grocery store with a big presence in our area.  In this commercial, Kroger lauds their low prices (editors note: not so much), and has actual customers talk about their savings.  Most of the customers are believable, but one stands out.

She says: “I save an average of $150 per week shopping at Kroger.”

Sounds great at first, but then you think, how much is she spending to save that much money?

I’ll use our most recent shopping trip to come up with some hypothetical numbers.  We didn’t shop at Kroger, but for the sake of argument, we’ll say that the numbers are within reason for comparison sake.

We spent $55 total.  Our savings, between buying things on sale and using coupons was $25.  Not as great as some people can get, but I think it was still pretty good.

If you multiply those numbers up, in order to save $150, you would have to spend $330.  That’s not $150 off of $330, that’s actually spending $330 after you took your savings.  Every week!

For a weekly grocery bill, that seems outrageous even for someone with a large family.

Those numbers would add up to annual out-of-pocket spending for groceries of $17,160.  To me, if you’re spending $17k and change on groceries in a year, I would have a hard time accepting that you’re really saving a lot.

Unless of course this was the Octomom or Kate Gosselin and I just didn’t recognize the person speaking.  But, somehow I doubt that was the case 🙂

Other great reads

Here are some additional posts I’ve read recently by other great, hard working bloggers.  Give them a read if you have a few minutes:

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Should You Use Coupons On A Date Night?

My wife and I are in a couples small group through our church, where four married couples get together once every other week to discuss various topics, either corresponding with a series that our church is putting on or just a general reflection of things, always centered around our beliefs.

The current discussion we’re in is centered around marriage, and the DVD that accompanied this week’s discussion spurred some interesting discussion, one of which centered around ‘date nights’.

Keep in mind that we’re all married.  Two of the couples (including us) have kids.  Two do not.  But, in everybody agreed that a ‘date night’ now and then is an important thing.

We discussed what we each defined as a ‘date night’ and that varied across the board.  Most said that it involved ‘going out’, but one of the men said that he’d even define a date night as spending dedicated time with his wife, even if it was at home.

Centered around the ‘going out’ aspect came an interesting side conversation, and that was whether it can be considered a ‘date night’ if a coupon is used, normally at dinner, but I suppose this could involve other possible elements such as using a coupon at a movie.

This brought about some lively discussion. There became two schools of thought here:

  1. Going on a date and using a coupon
  2. Using a coupon and calling that a date

I had never really thought about it, but I guess that there can be a fine line.

Personally, my wife and I use coupons whereever we can, even if we consider it a ‘date night’.  Neither of us have a problem with that.  And, while everybody agreed that using coupons is good and saving money is even better, I think that it was brought up just to make sure that the thought behind going out and using a coupon was “We’re going out because we have a coupon.”

If that was the case, I can see where some of the ‘romance’ of ‘date night’ might be rubbed away.

I thought that this was an interesting discussion, because it highlights just how different married life can be from dating life.  In dating life, the general perception seems to be that there should be no way that a coupon is used on an early date for fear of coming across as cheap.  I can attest to that, back in my single days, I never would have dared pull out a coupon on a first date (unless of course I didn’t like the girl *laugh*).

What do you think, does going out on a ‘date night’ have the same magic if a coupon is used, or does the coupon take some of the sparkle away?

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The Savings Karma Was Given A Boost

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how we had karma on our side when we did a shopping trip, and how that led to us keeping an extra $75 that we had planned on spending in our pocket.

After writing that, I got to thinking about it and I realized that we also saved money at each and every location by using coupons.  I didn’t include that in my ‘savings karma’ post because I had already factored the coupon savings into our planned spending amount, but it was significant enough where, after reflecting on it, I was pretty impressed.

To go back over our shopping trip, here is how it went, this time looking at how we used coupons at every location.

Babies R Us – We purchased a gate and used a 20% off coupon to save $12 off the $60 price.  We also purchased some other items, including laundry soap, jarred baby food (which we primarily use when we’re out of the house), baby-safe stain remover, and a couple of other odds and ends.  We had coupons for just about every item, including some where we were able to stack an in-store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon and get nearly 40% off.  With coupons, we probably saved $25 here easily.

Olga’s – As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had a buy-one-get-one-free coupon that my wife got in her e-mail for having previously signed up for their rewards club, which is free.  This saved us just over $7.

Costco – We didn’t need a lot, but there were some items that we buy regularly that had coupons, that we knew we would most likely be re-stocking in the next three months or so.  We only purchased seven items, and six of these were reduced as a result of Costco coupons that are sent monthly.   We saved $17 in coupons on these six items (freezer bags, granola bars, kitchen sponges, laundry detergent, face wash, and dental floss).

Buy Buy Baby – We had a 25% off coupon for Babies R Us on our car seat that Buy Buy Baby honored.  As I outlined in the previous post, this saved us $65 off of the $260 list price.

All in all, we saved over $100 just by handing over a few coupons.  There are people that will argue that coupons aren’t always worth it, but I would use this shopping trip as an example that, at least for the Beagle household, it’s well worth it!

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