Category Archives: Shopping

Why You Should Peel Your Own Potatoes!

Have you ever noticed how much you’re paying for that small container of chopped watermelon compared to the cost of a whole one? If not, then you should stop and take note. Or how about that veggie tray, with the handful of cut carrots, celery, and the top of one broccoli? You’ll notice that you’re not just paying more for those items, but most of the time, you’re getting less.

You are basically being charged for your laziness!

Sure, we all like the convenience of saving a little time from having to peel and chop our fruits and/or vegetables. But an extra 50 cents here, and a dollar and fifty there, can start to add up to as much as ten dollars in one month; and start to grow to almost a hundred dollars or more in a year’s time!

Don’t believe me? Test it for yourself the next time you go shopping. Take your phone and capture the cost of that head or bunch of lettuce, and then go over to where they keep the bag of lettuce and take a snapshot of that. That’s where you’ll also find the bag of sliced bell peppers, snapped green beans, and chopped onions — conveniently located for the grab and go! And you’d be right, in terms of saving some time. But once you get home and pull up all of your comparison photos, write down how much money you would have spent purchasing the pre-packaged items, and what you would save purchasing the whole produce.

It’s amazing what our laziness is costing us. Like paying $2.49/lb for red onions that have already been peeled. Versus paying only 89 cents per pound for the same red onion that you go home and peel yourself. During my recent shopping spree, I picked up a head of lettuce for $1.49 versus the bag of the same type of lettuce for $2.99.

And it’s not just fruits and vegetables.

Peeled shrimp will cost you as much as two or three dollars more per pound than buying the shrimp with the shell. Unless they’re running a specific sale, a whole fryer chicken is much cheaper than the packaged one with separate pieces. The funny part is that you actually get more having the whole bird than just the cut up pieces.

And if you have a food processor, why don’t you chop your own nuts?!

The point is that you’re probably carelessly spending extra money each shopping trip, if you’re not taking the time to check prices, and stop going for what seems easier and convenient. Just like checking for sales, coupons, and discounts is important before you go shopping. So is making the effort to save money to buy the same product, unprepared or packaged, and not go for the pre-sliced/chopped/peeled ones.

Remember, the more money you save grocery shopping today, the more money you can put aside in your savings account for that raining day fund, or something fun you plan for yourself in your future.

Think about it.

Forget Paris. Focus on Your Own Fashion Week!

Two weeks ago, high temperatures where I live were in the 40s for several days; with low temperatures below freezing a couple of those days. Last weekend, my friends in Cleveland, OH experienced another epic spring snowfall, while many in the upper central plains continue even today with their cold temperatures. The calendar might say “spring” but the weather doesn’t always align with our hopeful schedule of the four seasons.

I learned a long time ago to dress for the weather not for the season. And with that, I have to say that shopping “out of season” is one of my favorite things to do. You see, retailers don’t care what the weather is doing outside. They will try to force you into dreaming of whatever comes next, inside, filing their stores with what they want to sell, rather than what you may need to buy. Autumn-colored clothes quickly follow the red, white and blue of July. Winter coats fill racks in September. Spring’s pastels are plastered everywhere in January. And the sleeveless tops of Summer make their debut before the Ides of March!

Because of retailing’s over-anxious, and sometimes obnoxious attempt at rushing each new season, they are equally motivated to get rid of the last season’s leftovers to make room. And fortunately for us bargain hunters, it can be a clothing gold mine of great finds; perfectly useful outfits with still weeks worth of wear to go. And for people like me, who’s more concerned with function than with what some fashion magazine tries to tell me is in or out at any given time, those bargain finds can last not just a few more weeks, but years after!

fullsizeoutput_48fa

Recently I went shopping to update my wardrobe, with great results. I got all five of these tops for only $32.00; and that’s with sales tax! No, I didn’t get them from a discount store. But I did get them at a tremendous discount. Their material is thin enough to wear comfortably, with or without a light jacket, through the next several weeks, but their “colors” are meant for Fall (which is when I will gladly take them back out of the closet and begin getting even more wear from them). So off to the sale rack they went!

All but one of the shirts was regularly priced well over that total of $32.00 spent. They actually had been repeatedly marked down over the weeks, and these were some still left. I happened to go into the store when they were having their “final” Final Sale! Everything on the sale rack, whose price ended in $.98 was further marked down to $9.98! Yes, that meant the $29.95 shirt was now less than ten dollars; the $34.95 one was also $9.98; as was the almost $60.00 one! Five shirts for less than the cost of what the higher one of them would have cost me alone — if I was the type who paid full prices for my clothes!

What drew me to that store, on that day, was the $25.00 off coupon I had off anything $50.00 or more. It was getting ready to expire. I had waited as long as I did to use it because I knew I would find some great deals in the transition of the seasons at the store. And so I did! With my total coming to just under $50.00 (a purposefully deceptive  practice by this particular store that I’ve just come to accept), I was forced to purchase one other thing; unfortunately a five dollar item to make up a difference of mere cents; but that’s no accident. I’m convinced the main retailer knows exactly what they’re doing when they run those coupons — you can never get right to $50.00; always will have to go over to use it!

It was still worth the trip and the cost to pay so little and get so much; not just for the sake of shopping, but to end up with clothes I have already worn, and will continue wearing, including later this year and most definitely into next and beyond.

My advice to other bargain shoppers who are looking for deals and wanting to maintain a budget?

  • Stop worry about what’s coming down the runway during Fashion Week. The fashion designers, sellers, and retailers are trying to make money convincing you that it’s not cool to wear “last season’s” stuff. In reality, unless you work in the fashion industry, your friends and coworkers are not keeping up with when or where you bought your clothes, or what’s suppose to be “in or out” for the average woman!
  • If you need to do some shopping, do it during a time, and with the retailers who offer you something in return (i.e. store cash dollars, coupons, reward points). They’re doing it to get you back into the store. But you’re doing it to take advantage of the savings on your next shopping trip.
  • If you can split your shopping needs up. Purchase half of what you need when those retailers are offering coupons (the old, spend $50 and get a $25 rewards coupon for your next visit). Then return to pick up the rest of your items using the coupon or points you earned the last time you were there. Four weeks ago, I bought two pairs of pants that I needed for a trip, which is what earned me that $25 coupon that was used to help buy those five tops later.
  • Sign up for the emailing lists of the retail outlets you visit the most. It might seem bothersome to start getting all their emails, but that’s the best way to keep up with when they’re having a major sale. Then choose that time period to do your shopping. Just be sure to confirm that the retailer will allow you to use that coupon on items marked down on sale. Another tricky thing you have to watch out for.
  • Never go shopping when you don’t need anything. But always remember that you can make purchases for the birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other special occasions of other people in your life; and still reap the benefit of bargain shopping and savings for yourself!

 

Yep, It’s Time to Go Back to School

It’s that time of year — again. While many families in the northeast, midwest, and the west coast are celebrating the midpoint of their summertime, with backyard cookouts, trips to the lake, and the kids being gone for another week or two away at camp, many southern state families are spending these final days of July shopping to replace the clothes and shoes their kids grew out of since last fall, and hectically going through the school district’s mandatory shopping list, in preparation for a return back to school soon.

In Tennessee, as with most southern states, students return to school before the end of August. In the Middle Tennessee area, which includes Nashville, students will be back to school by the first week of the month! Can you even imagine?

For one of the neighboring counties of Nashville, the busses will start rolling out this Wednesday, August 1. And almost all of the other area counties will follow less than a week later, with returns on August 6, 7, and 8! So if you sense a little panic from your southern Facebook and Instagram friends with kids, now you know why.

Fortunately, this is also Tax-free weekend (July 27-29) for the state of Tennessee. For those whose states may not offer this, it is a weekend once a year when parents can stock up for the school year, buying clothes, shoes, school supplies, and even computers, and pay no sales tax. In a state where the sales tax is 9.75%, that shopping bill can add up really fast. But so does the savings, if you plan ahead and do most, if not all, of your shopping during this time period. I mean, imagine a college student being able to save almost $100 for that $1,000 computer they need, by just choosing to purchase it this weekend versus next!

And now that parents are tasked with buying supplies for more than just their own child, planning your shopping adventure is even more important.

This is an actual list of school supplies for one of the local elementary schools:
  • Colored Pencils – Box(es)
  • Crayons – 24 Count
  • #2 Yellow/Wood Pencils Sharpened with Erasers, 24 Pack
  • Glue Sticks
  • Scissors
  • Ruler 12″ Standard/Metric
  • Protractor
  • Pocket Folders
  • Pens
  • Composition Notebook Wide Ruled
  • Spiral Notebook Wide Ruled
  • Package(s) of Sticky Notes
  • Box(es) of Facial Tissues
  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Canister(s)
  • Package(s) of Filler Paper, Wide Ruled

A Middle school list in the same district looks like this:

  • Pens, Blue
  • Pens, Black
  • Pens, Red
  • Pencils, #2
  • Package(s) of Cap Erasers
  • Package(s) of Filler Paper, Wide Ruled
  • Notebook paper
  • Package(s) of Graph Paper
  • 1″ Binders
  • Write On Dividers
  • Composition Notebook Wide Ruled
  • Highlighters
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Colored Pencils – Box(es)
  • Hand Sanitizer – Bottle(s)
  • Canister(s) of Disinfecting Wipes
  • Box(es) of Kleenex Facial Tissues
  • Paper Towels – Roll(s)
  • Duct Tape
  • Hot Glue Gun Glue Sticks
  • Package(s) of Index Cards
  • Box(es) of Reclosable Storage Bags
  • Package(s) of Printer/Copier Paper – Colored
  • Masking Tape
  • Package(s) of Plastic Cups
  • Box(es) of Plastic Forks

So don’t just shop. Shop wisely.

  • Shop at the right stores.  Find the ones that have the lowest price on the things you need.
  • Use coupons. As you see, the school supply lists have grown way beyond pencils and paper. Look for store or manufacture coupons for those paper towels, toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, and Purell that many schools now require.
  • For your student heading off to college, check out yard sales and online sites where you can find inexpensive desks, chairs, bookcases, and other things for their dorm room and apartment.
  • And don’t be too embarrassed to shop at discount stores and places like Goodwill, where they also offer special discounts on top of their lower prices, including a 10% Student Discount on Sundays; a 10% Senior Adult Discount on Tuesdays; and 10% Military discount on Wednesday. Again, every little bit helps!

When it comes down to it, making the most of your time and saving the most of your money, requires some planning and preparation. But your bank account will thank you for all of the dollars you save. And you’ll thank yourself when that money comes in handy later; usually unexpectedly.

alphabet-board-game-conceptual-256428

Every Day’s a Good Day to Save Money

I love freebies! I know, I know. How can you tell? But seriously, I’m all about saving money, finding discounts, using coupons, and getting FREE stuff! Whether that’s birthday freebies, like I took advantage of last month. Or earned rewards freebie from several places I normally shop. I get a big rush when I see the register ring up items, and I don’t have to hand over any money. Sometimes, with taxes, I may have to reach for some pennies and nickels, but not dollars. That’s always my goal.

I actually wish I was more organized and more disciplined to really keep up with which store was running a sale at the exact same time that I’ve collected coupons.  I know I could be saving so much more money. When I do get lucky enough to do that, I love watching the register go in the negative direction. Just the other day I picked up a large container of laundry detergent, regular price of $6.99, but it was on sale for $4.99. On top of that I had a $1.00 off coupon for that brand, so I paid only $3.99! That’s a three dollar savings because of timing and coupons. With today’s increasing gas prices, $3.00 represents another gallon of gas to me!

One of the reasons I love shopping at Kroger so much is the earned points on gas, the in-store savings each week, and the coupons they send in the mail. Part of their rewards program that I’ve been enjoying taking advantage of is the Friday Downloads!  

For a while I thought it would be one power bar after the next, after a couple of weeks of candy bars (which I don’t eat, but shared with my students). I’d almost given up, until recently they’ve had more things that I’ve enjoyed and actually use, like Tic Tac gum and one of the flavored waters. Last month, the downloads included a full loaf of bread, and a regular size of the Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice.

Getting something for free each week is nice, but this week, I was able to get several items for (almost) free at a retail outlet.

At World Market, I had my eye on some wooden baskets that had been marked down several weeks ago. I used one a few weeks ago to put together a birthday basket for a friend. The marked down price was already nice. But using my own birthday rewards money to get the items was even nicer.

IMG_6690So when I returned there, I planned to grab a few more of them while they were on sale. I liked that they were wooden and a great alternative to the gift bag world we have turned in to . “Buy a gift. Stuff it into a bag. Maybe add some tissue paper. Call it a day!”  

I like that the wooden basket offers a second chance use other than just holding the goodies.

So much to my surprise, not only did they still have several baskets left, but they had been moved to a special SALES table — 50% OFF of the red tag sale price! Jackpot!

Suddenly my large $7.99 basket that had already been marked down to $3.98 earlier, was only $1.99! And the smaller ones that had been $4.99 before being marked down to $2.49 were only $1.24. But also, for some reason, the pink colored one was no longer an “in” color, according to what the sales clerk told me! So they had marked those down even lower! But wait! There’s more. Two days earlier I received a 15% off the total sales coupon! What a pleasant surprise.

Two large and two small decorative wooden baskets later, along with three speciality bars of soap, and I went back for a small glass lantern I’d seen on the table too. 

IMG_7106

I knew if my calculations were correct, it should come to about ten dollars. But my goal wasn’t just to go shopping to spend $10.00.My goal was to spend the exact amount of my rewards coupon — which was ten dollars. It was FREE money to be spent, and I wasn’t about to let it expire.

And exactly how did I end up with ten dollars in rewards in a non-birthday month?

Well after winning the search for the World Market golden Llama back in June, and winning money with that, I received an additional rewards coupon for being an Explorer member! I mean, basically they rewarded me twice for finding the golden ticket. Now that’s what I call a pretty good rewards program; one that gives you money just for being a member, as opposed to racking up mounds of shopping debt before earning anything!

When the register rang up, my total, with taxes? Forty-six cents! Yes, just 46 cents for stuff I’ll actually use. The pear soap has already found its way into the guest bathroom, and one of the small baskets is being used in the guest bedroom for guests to have a place for their keys, cell phones, and stuff. The large basket has found its place on the desk in my bedroom, holding books, journals, and notecards. 

You can live on a budget, and still shop for fun stuff, and find great gifts without running up your credit card, if you stop and take the time to join reward programs, search online (or for old school — in the newspaper) for coupons, and keep an eye out for when your favorite stores run sales.

One birthday month regret I do have is not getting to use my ten dollar Chico’s coupon. I went to use it one day but couldn’t find anything in that price range. I did find a pair of earrings that were on sale, but they wouldn’t apply the store percentage on the remaining amount after the coupon, so it left me owing $5.00. She tried to explain why it rang up the way it did, but all I thought about was the fact that I didn’t go in there to spend five dollars. I was there just to spend the money from the coupon, and couldn’t justify spending extra money just to be able to use the coupon. So I left with nothing.

If you’re shopping just to shop, and end up spending money you wouldn’t have normally spent just to use a coupon, then you lose. It’s not a saving if you spent money to get something you’re only buying because you have a coupon. Resist the temptation to fall into that trap.

Maybe coupons aren’t for everyone. And I’ve had a friend tell me she doesn’t sign up for rewards programs because she doesn’t want to get all the emails. I don’t mind emails from places I shop (and I don’t sign up for programs at places where I don’t), if it means saving money on things I need. But whatever you decide, if you want to get serious about saving money, then you need to get serious about making a plan for how you’re going to do it.  Saving is one thing. Spending wisely is another. You can do both. Just be strategic. It’s worth it. And you can still have fun while doing it!

House Hunting Your Way to Divorce

I was recently watching an episode of House Hunters. It’s not one of my must-watch programs, but sometimes, there really is nothing else on television that I feel like getting in to. And other times, I just want to be as far away from anything that comes close to making me mad (the news) or making me think (most movies) or getting involved in a series where I either don’t know, or don’t care enough about the characters to give an hour or more of my time. So HGTV is my fall back, and that evening’s time slot was House Hunters International, to be more exact.

I think you can tell a lot about many people on these type of shows by what they say when they have their one-on-one private camera time. It’s as if they forget that while they may be alone in the room with the producer and the camera person, what they say will be aired and viewed by the person they’re talking about, and hundreds of thousands or more other viewers. So as I was watching this particular night’s show, it took me less than five minutes to think, they’re house hunting their way to divorce.

Why would I say that, as a passive viewer on the other side of a TV set?

Because what a person says, or fails to say, actually speaks volumes in a relationship. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, other than infidelity, communication problems were the number one reason for divorce in America.

It’s not surprising that many of the couples who go house hunting — with or without a camera crew following them — often times have different ideas of what they’re wanting to buy. Is it a cottage with an English garden out back; or a three-story townhome with a postage-size yard? Do you want to live in the city, close to restaurants and clubs, or in the suburbs near shopping malls and the school system of choice? People ponder many things when making a decision to spend, or rather invest, thousands of dollars into their first home, last home, or even vacation homes.

Will it be a Colonial or a Victorian? Move-in Ready or a Fixer Upper? On the ocean or in the mountains? A single-family home or a condo?

But unless you’re single, purchasing your own home, at the end of the day, you have to compromise — for a spouse; for children; for in-laws who may be moving with you.

Then there are the finances!

Money is right up there with communication issues in factors leading to divorce. How to make money? Who makes the money? How you’re going to spend the money? Are you in agreement with how to save that money? Perhaps that’s one of there reasons most good pre-marital counseling sessions include discussions about finances and how each person views it. Some people even go through financial counseling before getting married.

It was obvious to me in this evening’s episode that the husband believed in having a budget, and the wife believed in getting what she wanted. It wasn’t just my observations, but it was what she actually said during her on-camera part. 

The husband didn’t want to go over $1,800/month; the wife said money wasn’t an issue. The husband said he wanted to be close to his job. The stay-at-a-home wife insisted they move to what amounted to being a 30 minute one-way drive for him. The couple only had two small kids, so the husband thought a three bedroom house was plenty. The wife insisted on a five bedroom house, citing needing room for all her clothes.

Did I mention that she was a shopaholic?

In spite of them being in the hunt for a house. In spite of them needing to watch their money, according to the husband. In spite of the fact that her closets were already filled with more clothes than most women could wear in a year; even if they changed outfits at least once per day. She bought more. And it was obvious that this spending habit bothered him. But he said nothing that wasn’t couched in a joke; at least not to the camera. But his face told a different story.

The biggest thing that stuck out to me was that the husband wanted to please his wife; admitting that “she usually gets her way.”  And the wife didn’t really care anything about the things that the husband wanted, saying “I don’t believe in compromise.”  She went on to say that she wants what she wants, but was in agreement with him on at least one thing — that she always gets her way!

I’m not sure why people think that’s a good thing; to brag about always getting your way. In families. In the workforce. In life, there are always compromises.

Money is no different.

At the end of the episode, they’d rented a 5-bedroom house, flipping one of them to her wardrobe closet. The house was a half-hour drive from his job, and it was hundreds of dollars over their planned monthly budget. And she was shopping again!

I shook my head as I watched the outcome. It wasn’t just that she got everything she wanted. But it was because to me, her actions displayed how much she didn’t care about what he wanted. She didn’t seem to show any regard for the true meaning of a healthy relationship, and certainly didn’t seem to care that she was stretching them financially with her shopping habits and insistence upon living in a place that was above their means. Whether those means were put in place because he wanted to save money, or because that truly was all they could comfortably afford, doesn’t really matter. If you set a budget that to most people seems to be a reasonable budget, then why would you knowingly go above that — adding to the stress of living abroad, and being married, with children, to begin with.

Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to give in to everything they want. A marriage without compromise is a marriage on the verge of divorce. And one of the things that can  drive people to an early divorce is financial challenges and money disagreements.

At the end of the show, he said, “as long as she is happy.”

I had to wonder if he was just saying that for the camera. Notably, she never shared the same sentiments for him.

 

 

Time to Move from Financial Denial to Reality Living

I made a Facebook post on my Catching Raindrops in Water Buckets page, bragging about how happy I was to find a large container of Folgers coffee on sale at Kroger. I was very happy about my find because I was in there picking up items for an event that was happening the next day, and coffee was among them.

Seeing that winter was refusing to leave, and the forecast called for a rainy and much cooler day, I knew that a fresh brewed pot of hot coffee would be a welcomed treat to our guests!

But within hours of me posting my 75% savings, and talking about having paid less than three dollars for a 23 ounce container that normally sold for over eleven dollars, one of the women who follow my page decided to mock my posting.

IMG_6030

“It is $3 for a reason,” she wrote. Adding the ever present “hahaha” whenever someone’s trying to be funny. I fired back; not because I was personally offended. To be honest, I don’t routinely buy Folgers coffee. I don’t drink enough of it on a regular basis to buy large containers of anyone’s coffee. So I tend to grab the smaller bags; usually when I have a coupon for the grocery store, or when a place like World Market runs them for a Buy One Get One free! And on the occasion I’m sitting and writing from one of my favorite cafes, I’ll usually buy a small cup there, if only to justify why I’m taking up a seat while working on grades or even this blog.

But I responded to her, not so much to set her straight — perhaps she really was trying to be funny — but more as a message to any of my other readers who thought the way her comment implied:

“Lots of people love Folgers. Actually, lots of people are drinking it and don’t even know it. Don’t you know that’s what most people are serving at conferences and church? Do you really think it’s the high premium ones being served?”

You see. I’m convinced that the reason so many people struggle financially for so long following a job loss, or downsizing, or an economic blow to their bank account, is because they’re not willing to adjust their lifestyle to their new life. They live and spend and go about their days in what I call “denial of the moment,” that catches up to them when the debt collectors come calling.

I know there are some who really don’t know how to make a major life shift, because luxury spending and not having a budget was always so much a part of their every day life, that adjusting is difficult. They don’t know where or how to start. However, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t learn.

But then there are others; several people who I know personally, who don’t because they won’t. They would rather be seen with the five dollar green logo cup of coffee in their hands, than the one dollar gas station version; or even something brewed from home. They would rather run up their credit cards at their old familiar boutique retail outlets, than to be seen coming out of a discount store, let alone, any type of consignment shop.

These are the women who buy cars for “show” and look down on generic or store-brand products, some of which have beaten the higher priced items in blind taste tests, or are even products made by the same name brand companies. But when you’re putting on a show, the illusion is what you’re trying to sell.

And that’s one of the things that can get people into financial trouble, or gets in the way of them getting out of it. For an illusion to be believable, it has to be sustained. People have to work at getting others to buy their lie.

Today in church, I sat next to a friend I’ve known for over 10 years. When service was over, another woman we both know commented on her outfit; complimenting the skirt and top she had on.

I got it from Goodwill,” my friend spoke up confidently. Their conversation after that was about which one of the Goodwills in town had the best finds, and which day of the week was the best time to go, etc. I had to smile, because I’d actually gone shopping with this friend at several Goodwill stores before. I’ve also spoken frequently with other women about giving it a try; especially if they said they were serious about watching their budgets.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned watching and personally walking through this past decade, it’s that you can’t make someone change their ways. You can only offer them assistance, show them another way, and encourage them to make life’s adjustments to their new normal. It’s up to them to face the reality of where they actually are, and stop with the illusion of where they once were, or hoped to be.

There should be nothing embarrassing about being wise with your money.

 

Free Shopping Days of Christmas

Don’t let the word “shopping” fool you! I’m not advocating going out and spending a lot of money this Christmas season. Quite the opposite. Because I’ve never quite understood why people will run up their credit cards to buy lots of things for many people who either don’t need what you’re buying for them, or would have loved a lesser priced gift from you. And for those with higher expectations, including family members, you have to ask yourself what do they value more — the monetary amount of a gift you can barely afford, or spending time together with an understanding that the holiday season isn’t a license to go further into debt, as so many Americans do!

I recently shared on the Catching Raindrops Facebook page that twice in the last three weeks Thorntons Gas has dropped a six cents off fuel rewards on my card. Both times it happened the day I needed to gas up! Just the other day, another one appeared. I may not need to gas up yet, but topping off my half tank before it expires tomorrow will still be beneficial! Last month I got a free cup of coffee from there as well. Then there was two weeks ago when I got a coupon from Kirkland’s for ten dollars! What great timing, because I need a new pair of gloves. I would never have thought to go there for clothing items, but just this morning, an email of sale items appeared? Not only were gloves listed on sale for FIVE DOLLARS, but so was a pair of women’s slippers, which I also need. So I’ll be getting two more things I need — for FREE! That’s MY kind of shopping.

Earlier this month I hit up Bath & Body Works and their $4.95 sale on aromatherapy products (these items are regularly $12.00-$15.00; and more), and was glad to be able to use my buy one get one free coupon which I’d been holding on to for the right moment. So YES, I got TWO aromatherapy products (i.e. Christmas gifts) that would have cost me over $25.00, instead for just $4.95!

And at Cost Plus World Market, after some “smart shopping” purchasing several bags of coffee for friends during their buy one get one free sale, I ended up earning another free BAG of coffee on my account for myself! But that wasn’t the end of my World Market venture. While there, I noticed an in-store treasure hunt, in search of the Golden Llama. I was too late for that day, but four days later, I decided to show up when the store opened. Yeah, there were about six other women with the same idea, but as the door opened, with the clue of the Llama being seen near something green, I decided to try my luck. While most of the ladies started near the front of the store, I headed straight to the back, looking at everything green. I found one! What started off as a silly game and marketing ploy, of course, won me TWENTY DOLLARS in shopping money! Okay, I admit I wish it had been one of the $50 or $100 rewards, but $20 was better than nothing! And apparently FREE money counts because later that day I had earned a TEN DOLLAR coupon to use later!


So why am I sharing all of this. Well, I’ve talked often about the benefits of joining Rewards programs before. Times like these are when I like sharing specific benefits to these programs. They’re free to join and you get rewarded for doing what you already do — shopping, getting gas, etc. I don’t join programs for places I don’t already visit. But getting rewarded — in other words, saving money — for engaging places I go to anyway makes perfect financial sense! It’s the very essence of catching raindrops in water buckets!