Monday, October 13, 2008

Turning Tricks for Drugs and Food

With all the talk lately about tightening our belts and hunkering down for the economic storm, I wanted to share with you one of the ways Superstar is stretching a buck. Its what MMA and I jokingly refer to as "turning a trick." He is amazed at what I can bring home and to ease your mind, its not an STD!

Here's how it all started: about 2 months ago, Superstar crunched the numbers. I took a look at our bank statements, credit cards, and each and every bill that crossed our table to figure out where every penny of this household was going. As you can probably guess, there was a huge allotment for "discretionary spending." Too little was making its way into savings.

We etched out a budget and now know where every dollar belongs and how much we can spend in each category: entertainment, clothes, vacations, charity, etc. It's clean livin' folks, a reality check. Even better, it was a reminder of how blessed we are to have enough for everything we need to live, period.

But I am an ambitious girl, you see, and I wanted to take it up a notch. I thought I could do this by cutting down on our household expenses, in particular, the grocery budget. I started reading blogs and researching. What I found was a simple way to buy things on the cheap. Its a system of smart shopping that is all over the internet; I can't believe I didn't know about this before.

Here it is: I still shop for produce and meat at a traditional grocery store (HEB is my fave.) But I get most of my toiletries, cleaning supplies and drugs from Walgreens and CVS. The ladies-in-the-know who've been doing it for years make it sooo easy by doing the research of matching up the best deals each week with the coupons that are available (there's usually a link.) I can just print my list & coupons from home (and internet coupons are much more generous than what you'd find in the newspaper.) Then I go to the drug store and cherry-pick the sweet deals each week.

First I called it "working a deal." As in, "Honey, I'm going to Walgreens to work a deal " but I found that calling this new neurotic-little-game of mine "turning a trick" is so much more dramatic. And it is crafty and cunning to score a bunch of stuff and spend almost nothing. Saturday afternoon I spent $3.50 at Walgreens on some milk and a newspaper and came home with free Windex, Fantastic, Shout, Pledge wipes and Scrubbing Bubbles.

I was so excited! MMA was less so, until I told him how much this stuff usually costs. Then we went out to eat with the money left over from our grocery budget. (We earned some frivolity right?)

And yes, its a few extra steps, but in my particular situation I can find the time and I enjoy the hunt and kill. I eliminate the most expensive items from my grocery bill and stock up when things are on sale. And just so you know, the neighborhood kids won't be egging my house because Cheapskate gave out some crappy candy corns for Halloween. I'm already loaded down with the good stuff which I picked up for $1 bag.

Let me tell you about my free Diamatapp and Robitussin score from Walgreens. In my house we ALL suffer from allergies and I got this stuff better than free, its what's called a "money-maker" on the blogs because I spent $1 OOP (out of pocket) for each box, then I got a $10 register reward for purchasing 3 boxes. (RRs are vouchers that print up at the register and can be used to purchase anything else in the store.) So that day, for $3 OOP I got the cough syrup plus a $10 credit to buy anything else in the store. Not money in my purse, but...

The savviest shoppers know which items generate RR, so they can just keep rolling one deal into the next without spending more OOP. Some of them even brag about making a profit, which indeed they do after sending in for various rebates. Now, I've got to draw the line somewhere and set a value on my time, so I'm not turning tricks for money. As today's title implies, I'm just satisfied to come home with nearly free stuff that we will ACTUALLY USE.

Last week I scored my brand of razors for $4 pkg (regularly $8-10) and then got RR of $4 for each pack...almost free. This week I used that credit to stock up on soap, toothpaste, the candy I mentioned and a bunch of Gatorade for MMA. I spent no money out of pocket and left the store with $5 of RR towards next weeks bounty. I'm getting better at it and its taking much less time than it did the first month.

Honest and fair disclosure here: if you're baggin' a real pay check, this will probably pay less per hour. In 2 months, I haven't yet cut my grocery bill by 40% which was my original goal. But I did stay in budget even during those bad weeks after Ike when I lost everything in my fridge and had to start over. I've also been stock-piling like crazy; limited storage space dictates that must stop. Ongoing, it will work if I can limit myself to one drug store trip per week and do more attentive grocery shopping. (And, forget about it if you can't slip away from your kids and husband to shop alone. I think you know why.)

So there it is. Turning a trick for Drugs and Food. Perfectly legal and my husband approves.

I want to give a shout out to Money Saving Mom, Crystal Paine, who is quite the little internet titan. Her blog has a plethora of information about everything I've discussed today. She's also the author of another blog I enjoy reading called Biblical Womanhood.



Girly Stuff said...

Your such an easy score! You'll do anything for a deal!

But seriously, this sounds too good to pass up...I will be visiting the website and printing out coupons. Will you let me sponge the best deals off of you? You do the research and I copy?

Aggie2percenter said...

I'd like to let everyone out there know, that if you need Dimetapp, DON'T buy it! We have 150 bottles.