27
Jun

Why I Shop at Aldi To Save Money

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Shop Aldi Save MoneyOnly two to three years ago I was mainly shopping at Giant Eagle and Trader Joe’s for our food and household needs. I still love Trader Joe’s and will stop in whenever I am in the area but my heart has changed. I am an Aldi convert. The bulk of my grocery shopping is done there and I do not see that changing as long as I am within 50 miles of an Aldi. Luckily I have one about five minutes away from me currently.

Two years ago I was spending $1200 a month easily at grocery stores. Nowadays the top end up of my grocery budget is $700 a month. That is a HUGE change and it is do to some diet changes (less paleo centric) and shopping different stores. Pretty much all of my food and household extras (like toilet paper and dishwasher soap) are bought at Aldi. I shop elsewhere for most of my meat purchases and via Amazon Prime for a few other toiletries. Gone are the days of going into Giant Eagle and dropping $300 on a shopping cart full of groceries. Now I go up to the Aldi checkout with an overflowing cart and only spend $100. It is an amazing thing.

The crazy thing is that I have lived very close to Aldi for six years now and did not go there until 1-2 years ago. Why? Because I envisioned it to be like shopping at Big Lots or dollar stores for food. Right or wrong I have always had an attitude about stores like this and imagine their food to be old and the stuff no bought that gets funneled to the cheapy stores. My husband encouraged me to visit Aldi and I refused with my nose stuck up in the air. The very first time I went, tagging along with my husband, I was hooked. I was like a kid discovery DisneyLand. No kidding. These days I have even been known to buy a few things at Big Lots if I am in the area. Oh, how times have changed.

But why is Aldo so great? In my opinion the regular prices at Aldi are equal to or better than the best sale prices at other grocery stores.

Why is Aldi So Much Cheaper?

There are quite a few reason why shopping Aldi saves you money. Here are a few of them that add to big time savings for the customer.

  • They offer a narrow selection. They do not have 20 different options for barbecue sauce and 10 different mayo choices. They have two. Not having to fill their store with every option available means they spend less money to stock their stores and waste less money having to deeply discount stuff just to get it out the door. All their products have a high turnover or they don’t sell them.
  • You rent shopping carts for a quarter. Aldi doesn’t have to pay people to round up carts because the customers return them on their own. You have to insert a quarter in a cart to unlock it and then you get your quarter back when you return it. You always return it because you want that quarter in your car and waiting until your next Aldi trip.
  • You bag your own groceries and you bring your own bags or pay for them. Yes! This company does it right. They scan all the groceries and put them back into a cart. When you have finished paying you take the cart over to a long table and bag your groceries in your own reusable bags. If you forgot them you can buy reusable bags or paper bags at the checkout. They do not have to pay associates to bag groceries or pay for bags in general, saving you money.
  • Aldi private label products have many barcodes (like 4-5 on a single product). This makes checkout super fast, it is actually amazing to watch. They get customers checked out way faster and therefore they require fewer checkout people. My Aldi only has four checkout lanes and the most I have seen running at the same time is two.
  • Because everything is so efficient they have little need for lots of employees. Usually they only have 3-4 working at any given time. Can you imagine a grocery store staffed by only four people? It is amazing and it ends up being reflected in their prices.
  • Stocking shelves is easy because they leave everything in the bulk boxes they are shipped in. Items like milk and eggs stay on huge rolling carts with shelves. Sugar, flour, and heavy items are left on pallets. All of these little changes mean less time involved stocking shelves.
  • Produce is not sold by the pound so there is no weighing and extra time involved at checkout.
  • They have great clearances and sales to make way for new and seasonal products. Loved that peppermint silk pie they had around the holidays? Well, that $6 pie is $2 after the holidays and you can stock up for birthdays and special occasions.

I am simply amazed by the prices. $.69 cents for eggs. $1.50 for milk. Cereal for $1.29 a box. Real orange juice for $1.99 as carton. It is crazy! Produce prices are always the best in town and they have plenty of organic and gluten free products that cost a bit more but are still cheaper than anywhere else. I also stock up on seasonal and sale items. Once I had been eyeballing a cheesecake sampler box for $6.99 every time I went in and then after a few weeks I saw the samplers for $1.99. Needless to say I bought them all for future parties and entertaining. Recently I went in right at opening because I am an early riser and discovered all their whole chickens had large discount stickers on them making each bird only $3 and some change. I bought a bunch and froze them. I have also bought hams after the holidays for about $5 a ham and they are huge hams that are bigger than my six quart crockpot.

ALDI-Slow-cooker-Dump-PlanAdli Meal Plans

Another HUGE cost savings is available via bloggers who have done the legwork and figured out the best ways to leverage Aldi. I adore the Aldi meals plans from I Am That Lady. I think I have all of them and a $150ish dollars and one day spent prepping and freezing meals will result in meals for two weeks or so. When I buckle down and do these plans I save even more, dropping my food budget down to $400 for a family of five with two teens. There are grilled food plans, crockpot plans, dump meals, gluten free meals, etc. They come with shopping lists organized by aisle number too. I highly recommend the Aldi meal plans!!

Another great resource is a book you can find on Amazon, Slash Your Grocery Budget and Eat a Whole Foods Diet with ALDI. It is written by a blogger friend of mine and a mother of eight. It is a great resource for eating healthy and cheap at Aldi with lots of recipes included as well. You can get it free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Enjoy and happy shopping!

aldi book

 

17
Jun

Frugal Friday – Every Dollar and Focus Groups

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Every Dollar and Focus GroupsIt has been awhile since I did a frugal friday share but I am really trying to amp up my frugality and finance savvy recently. Primarily I am so obsessed with all things finances because we bought our house last year a bit before we were ready. We caught house fever as Dave Ramsey would say. We let emotions and a wee bit of anger about our rent going up make us jump into a big decision.

I love our house and I do not think we have bought a money pit or anything but we just should have waited until we met some other financial goals first.

In the past six months I have managed to pay off both of my cars, build up an emergency fund, cash flow a vacation to Florida (Disney & Universal), and pay down some other debt. We have definitely made traction but it is just going too slow! We have to get gazelle intense.

This week we got notification that our mortgage payment was going up by $265 a month! Say what???!

After a phone call to the company they explained that our homeowners insurance doubled (they don’t have to notify us), the required FEMA flood insurance went up a small bit, and they increased the PMI payment, saying the amount on our loan paperwork had been a mistake. Well, they gave in and fixed the PMI issue since they agreed to that amount and cannot change it after the contract is signed. If we hadn’t called or fought it though they would have gotten away with it! We also hustled and changed homeowner’s insurance and car insurance. The homeowner’s is still about $300 more than last year’s but it is far better than double. And we did file a large claim last year which resulted in us getting a brand new roof (valued at about 14k). We opted to reduce our car insurance to liability only and self insure a replacement. That saves us about $560 a year on that. So all in all we may come out a bit better off but the experience was downright scary and showed me that we need to make more progress with our financial goals.

One thing that is really helping is the Every Dollar program. It took me awhile to plunk down the $100 to get the paid version but it is so worth it. Now I can really track every penny and the time investment is almost nothing. I use the software to make a new budget every month and every transaction is entered automatically. Love it!

Frugal Wins:

  • Participated in a focus group and earned a $100 gift card, which I then used to pay my cell phone bill.
  • Packed a lunch to work all week!
  • Saved on groceries by planning more simple, summery foods and fewer meatcentric crockpot meals.
  • Sent away two Menard’s rebates worth $25. I usually forget!
  • Harvested radishes, lettuce, parsley, and cilantro from our garden.
  • Worked overtime four days this week.

Frugal Fails:

  • Not my failure but we did recently lose a rather large work bonus because our oldest child stuck the wrong car keys in my purse and without their keys “someone” missed work as a result. Ouch! Thankfully I don’t budget for or rely on those bonuses.
  • I spent way too much last week in the cafe at my work.

Hoping for more successes this week!

13
Apr

5 Ways Moms Can Make Some Extra Cash

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

5 Ways Moms Can Make Some Extra CashEver since I started following Dave Ramsey I have been been thinking more and more about different ways to earn money. His followers often talk about their Dave jobs, which are actually second jobs, side jobs, or any little jobs you can pick up to earn extra money to further your financial goals. Budgeting and cutting expenses is great but when you already have a bare bones budget or you cannot imagine cutting every little luxury from life, you need to think about boosting your income instead. Every little bit helps. It helped us pay off our two car loans in just a matter of months!

Here are six ways you can earn a little extra cash…

Ebay – You can find things around the home to sell on ebay and you can also look at thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales. There are Facebook groups dedicated to ebay resellers and you can quickly identify what sells and what to look for. You can also sell unlikely items such as empty toilet paper tubes, old instruction manuals, cords to old appliances, installation CDs and drivers, heck even complete junk drawers fresh from the estate auction. Start with a few listings and you may be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to make money.

Trupic – This company provides you with the opportunity to make money simply by taking pictures of various structures within your community. Facilities managers around the country often need photos of their properties, buildings, and projects and it makes sense to find someone in the area to snap the photos rather than traveling there themselves. You can assist them and make some extra cash by downloading the free Trupic app to find jobs in your area and how much they pay. You accept any job that interests you and you snap photos of property just put on the market, a completed landscape project, a pothole, etc. You can set up alerts to be notified if jobs pop up in your area too so that you don’t miss out. It is an easy way to make some money!

Surveys – There are numerous companies out there that offer surveys you can take for money and other rewards. I don’t have a lot of time or patience for surveys but I do read the offers I get and typically make an extra $5-15 a month in just a few minutes times. That’s a wine bottle or two!

Fiverr – This is a marketplace that you can join as a seller to make money. You post a job you will do for five bucks and make money when buyers take you up on your offer. You can write articles, create graphics, edit school papers, convert ebooks, and generally do small digital jobs. If you have these skills you can make quick money. I have sold on Fiverr myself but mostly I am a customer.

Selling on local classified boards – This is much like selling on ebay except you can list for free which allows you to list virtually anything without worrying about listing fees. It is a much more forgiving market. It also opens the door for you turn trash into treasure. Perhaps you see a chair or a dresser on the side of the road. You might pick it up, clean it up, and list it on Craigslist or OfferUp. Your kids old toys, used clothing, and furniture sell well. You can even sell cuttings from your houseplants or your extra Kombucha scobies (I have done this). List it and see!

No matter what your financial goals are, it helps when you can bring in extra income. Every little bit can help you get closer to paying off debt or building up your savings. In this day and age of digital business and mobile apps you can make money easier than ever before. Here is to your success!

4
Mar

Reasons the Smart Home is Getting Even Smarter

by Guest in Frugal Green

green house remodel with Energy Efficient Mortgages

Smart homes are becoming more and more common these days, and home builders are incorporating technologies that didn’t exist even 10 years ago. Here’s a few of the technologies coming to a home near you, and how they’ll make your life easier.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are special heating and cooling control devices that can automatically change the temperature in your home based on presets or your behavior. They can also be manually changed by turning a dial or changing the temperature on the device or via remote control on your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device or computer.

Smart thermostats, like the Nest, have become very popular in recent years because of their ability to reduce heating and cooling costs without noticeable differences in comfort for users. With energy costs rising, most homeowners welcome the idea of a high-tech solution to energy bills and are implementing these kinds of controls in their own homes.

Smart Security Systems

Smart security systems help protect your home from invasion and protect your family from being terrorized. Most of the newer systems on the market employ multiple redundancies and backups so that, even if the power goes out (or were intentionally cut), you would not lose your security system.

Systems that employ whole-house monitoring sometimes also allow for remote monitoring via a smartphone or tablet. In these systems, the user is given a secure channel to connect to the security system. This might be a link to a secure or private webpage or an app that connects to the security system.

If you want to know more about these types of security systems, visit smart72.com/contact. If your system is connected to a police or fire and rescue service in your locale, then emergency services can be contacted in case of a break-in or a fire. Most smart security systems are designed to be multi-functional. In other words, they’re designed to protect you from a wide range of threats, not just burglars.

Smart Heater Vents

Smart heater vents help you stay warm or cool, depending on the time of year. A smart vent will open or closed based on the ambient room temperature and occupancy. This means that the home’s temperature is effectively regulated based on whether someone is in the room or not.

This kind of innovation will help even out the temperature in the entire house, directing heat or air conditioning away from rooms that don’t need it and to rooms that do so that you’re not too hot or too cold.

Temperatures can also be controlled based on the time of day. So, for example, if you generally like it warmer in the kitchen in the morning, you can have the vents open up in the morning in the kitchen, but close upstairs in the bedroom or in other rooms that you don’t use.

At night, you might want the vents opened up in the living room where you spend most of your time. This technology typically has two different components. The first is a replacement heating vent or a retrofit for existing vents, and a special sensor.

The vent contains an actuator that move the vents automatically for you. The sensor monitors air temperature and communicates with the actuator to move the vents as needed.

Smart Electrical Outlets

This is probably one of the more amazing innovations in smart home design. With smart outlets, you can plug any appliance or light, electronic device, or anything else into the outlet and control it remotely. For most devices, this means you’ll be able to shut them off when you want to. But, also, you’ll be able to turn them on – even when you’re away. The uses for this are endless.

Let’s say you want to be able to turn on the lights before you get home, but you’re not sure when you’ll be home. You can operate the lights in your home using your smartphone, turning them on before you arrive so that the interior lights are there, welcoming you. But, you can also turn on the porch lights, if you want to. A warm welcome and you won’t have to burn the electricity when you don’t need it.

Smart Appliances

In addition to the smart outlets, smart appliances “sense” the power usage they need and adjust accordingly. And, as power companies update the grid, these devices will help reduce the amount of energy used, while also increasing the efficiency of the appliance.

No wasted resources and a lower power bill.

Ryan deMoore is a builder by trade who is currently in the process of renovating his home. Always interested in technology and the latest gadgets to come on the market he is enjoying seeing how Smart Home tech is becoming more mainstream now.

12
Feb

Frugal Friday – Always Check Your Bills

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayHappy frugal friday all!

My frugal wins for the week include:

  • I guess this same item is a fail and a win. For the first time in seven months I actually LOOKED at my Internet bill. I was being charged for equipment insurance and a monthly magazine outlining their cable offerings. Called and got those removed, saving $9.00 a month. The fail part is because it took me too long to catch that!
  • Scored a brand new, with tags pair of $60 shoes at the thrift store. Paid only $15 and now I can stop wearing shoes with multiple holes in them. Also got two pairs of designer jeans for $5.99 each.
  • Purchased a Harry Potter/Universal Studios vacation package and got a great deal including three day park hopper passes for the price of two. Yeah for a real (and pre-paid) vacation!
  • Scored a glass top oven and a frig in like new condition from a homeowner who decided they wanted stainless after a kitchen renovation. Got both for $150 and I am positive we can sell our old ones for at least that much.
  • Free stuff galore: Took a 10 minute survey and got a $50 Amazon gift card. Also got two free tablets, a free restaurant.com gift certificate, and a free night at a hotel. Woot!

Frugal Fails:

  • Last month we $200 over budget on food. Ridiculous! Too much eating out.
  • Also last month we received a huge electric bill. We need to have our furnace inspected and I switched to another provider. Hoping we can reduce these winter bills!

How did you do this week?