Tag: shopping

A New Take on Groceries

When talking about our home budgeting needs, the one area that always gives us some pause is the “groceries” line item. We have been saving money when it comes to our no spend weeks and our pantry challenges (which is using only what you have in the house for food) which we usually combined! In fact, this past weekend is the first in a month where our fridge is back at capacity!

We are eating healthy, cooking more, and enjoying the time together without interruptions. And yet we are still spending more than we really need to for a household of 2 (humans and 2 pooches).

So we are going to try a little something new and I am bringing you along for the journey! We are taking a new look on groceries and trying HomeChef!

So what is HomeChef? It is a meal delivery service that allows you to customize your meals on your dietary needs (say vegetarian, gluten free, and so on) BUT you are actually the chef. So that means that all the ingredients, including the “dash of pepper” or “sprinkle of salt” is included, along with the main ingredients and the recipe guide. Then you cook the meal. So, if you’re like me and you don’t use much salt in your meals, you can customize your dinner. The best part is that they provide the ingredients per the number of people and the recipe -nothing more. So there is less waste and no science experiments growing in the back of the fridge (c’mon…I know I’m not alone on this one).

Now you are reading this and thinking, didn’t you just say you are being frugal and not spending money? How does that align with ordering meals delivered to your door every week? Well thanks for asking!

We were lucky enough to get a promotion for our first box (slated to arrive Tuesday the 27th and I’ll bring you along for the ride) which only came out to $57.50 for 5 days worth of meals for 2 people. Now I’m not a mathematician by trade but… $57.50 divided by 5 days means that we are eating dinner for $11.50. And if you divide that by 2 … $5.75 per person, per meal, Monday through Friday. Honestly, I’ve spent more at Starbucks on one coffee that I finish in 5 minutes (don’t challenge me on that…I’m a coffee addict and proud).

But lets say we did not get a promotion to try out. The normal box of meals that we are trying is for 5 days and 2 people which equates to an average of $99 (some prices vary depending on the recipes you choose – like scallops would cost more than chicken). That still is only $19.80 per day or $9.90 per person.

That all means that in a month, we will be spending under $400 for varying meals on the most hectic nights of the week!

Now if we just supplement that with fresh, in season, produce from our farmer’s markets like fruit and some vegetables for our smoothies and weekend meals, then we can stay under $500 a month. And that means a monthly savings of over $100 for us! What?! I told you we like to eat! Plus we need to look at the bottom line which includes time spent looking at flyers, comparing prices, and actually going to the stores. And speaking of going to the stores, lets not forget gas!

So now you’re asking me what type of food are we looking at because you know I love to cook and won’t eat just anything… Since I won’t receive my first box till next week, I can only share what my menu is slated to be in no particular order:

Meal 1: Steak with Sauce Robert and spinach scalloped potatoes
Meal 2: Salmon with Dill Crema and green beans amandine
Meal 3: JalapeƱo Popper Burgers with chipotle mayo and fries
Meal 4: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta with Parmesan & green onions
Meal 5: Chipotle Refried Lentil Flautas with queso fresco & sour cream

I am very interested to see how these are packaged because with the 100+ degree weather we have been having, I don’t want my food to spoil before we get to cook it and eat it!

So tune in this upcoming Tuesday (8/27) as we uncover the world of meal deliveries you have to cook yourself! You may even want to follow me on IG where I’ll do some reviews live!

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Prime Wardrobe – Yay or Nay?

Back in July, I mentioned how I was giving Prime Wardrobe a try. For those of you that do not know what Prime Wardrobe is, it is very similar to these wardrobe subscription boxes that you see through IG or FB, except obviously through Amazon. This is great for those of us that, like me, hate to go shopping but obviously need clothes every now again – you get to try these on before committing to the purchase to make sure it fits and is truly your style!

That has always been a fear of mine when it came to online shopping, if I may be completely honest. The models that are used are just that models so how do I know it is going to look just as good on me as it does on them? Then there is the dreaded computer screen & color – what you see online may not actually be what the product looks like in real life so what if that blue-ish is really purple? Or what if that medium really needs to be a small? I really hate to go shopping in the store for clothes, but I often find myself having to suck it up and go because shopping online for someone with curves is not easy – sometimes the same size in the same brand won’t fit the same! So I wanted to give this Amazon Prime Wardrobe a try and see if it would be a success or not.

You get about 5 items to pick from and a 7-day try on window after your box arrives. That is actually fantastic because we all know that there are some days we are more bloated or sluggish than the next so what fits great today may not fit tomorrow. Also, this is all risk-free so you can return parts or ALL of the items without a charge in the return package that Amazon sends you. Plus, you get to see the box before it ships so if there is one item that is definitely not up your alley, you can swap it out for something else!

I was able to try my first box for free and received quite a few items that my personal shopper selected for me based off of a few questions that I answered. Below are the results of that box…

As you can see, I did return all of these items as they did not fit me well when I tried them on or just didn’t say anything! For example, the Adrianna Papell dress was way too form fitting for my comfort zone to wear to work even though I purchased a larger than normal size. The blouses were fairly standard but the Nine West blouse looked way more purple in person than on the model so when I tried it on, I was washed out and yellow. So overall this box was a “nay” but I haven’t given up all hope…

Recently Amazon has revamped their Amazon Wardrobe where now you have to spend $4.99 for a stylist fee but the types of questions that are asked are FAR better than before which can help your stylist find pieces that are more appropriate for your taste and budget.

I am giving it a try again this month and will share the results with you once I receive my box and will even do a little look book! So stay tuned!

Amazon Favorites – July

It’s the second half of the year and we are turning the corner on holiday shopping!! I know, you did not want to be reminded of that when the temperatures are nearing 100 and the sun doesn’t set till almost 8pm, but it’s true…

In fact, I have already started my savings account for holiday shopping. Using Digit (which I posted about here), I have started a bucket of funds for the holidays specifically so I know how much I can spend and am not hit with a large bill in December/January! I have also started to write my list AND buy some off-season items so I am ahead of the game.

One of the great things about Amazon and the month of July is the famous (or infamous) Amazon Prime Day which became Prime Days this year. It allowed us to buy a couple of the off items that we have been eyeing for ourselves or the house and not spend as much as we normally do. Plus we started our Amazon Gift Card which automatically renews monthly (giving us our spending limit) and adds an additional 2% if you link your checking account.

So with all of that, lets dive into July’s Amazon haul!

Disclaimer: Please note that these photos are the stock photo from Amazon; they are not mine. Also all links are affiliate and if you purchase the item through my link, I do receive a small profit but it does not change the price or experience for you!

After doing some research on shower puffs, or poofs or loofas or whatever you call them, it was apparent that the bacteria that was festering was too much for me! So I wanted a better alternative. I tried hand towels but that just felt awkward, didn’t provide a good lather, and ultimately would be only a slight improvement to the loofah unless you washed it every time you used it. Then I tried just the bar of soap but that was ill-fated. So I found this silicone loofah on Amazon and because of its material, it does not harbor bacterial growth the way that the loofahs do as it rinses clean every time and is not as permeable. I have to say that after using it for almost a month now, I will NOT go back and have already bought one for my mom and husband! It allows the soap to lather well, rinses completely clean, and is soft enough for all areas of the body. The reverse side has harder, exfoliating heads so you can scrub a little better on your arms, legs, what have you. For only $8.99, I think that this silicone loofah is amazing!!

So maybe this is TMI, but since we all go #2, having one of these in the home is so helpful -especially if you share a bathroom with someone! I bought this as a part of the Amazon Prime Day sales. I had tried this in the past but stopped buy them because my husband and I wanted a less floral scent than the original ones. So we tried this one and loved it so much, we signed up for the subscribe and save! We want to have one in each bathroom we, as well as guests, can have their own bottle! It normally is around $10-$12 per individual bottle.

Another item from the Prime Day deals is this back-up battery from Anker. With having so many technological gadgets running on battery and traveling so much, having an extra battery is fundamental. However so many models are big, heavy, and cumbersome to try and cram into a bag with the power cords and adapters. This model is very slim and compact but carries a big charge! It charges quickly and works on Android as well as Apple products – in fact it can charge my iPhone 2x on one charge! It even comes with a carrying bag so it doesn’t get scuffed up and it’s silicone exterior won’t scuff your phone! This is currently $35 dollars but the price has fluctuated. Click here to purchase yours!

I have been wanting to get over-the-ear headphones for over a year now but could not bring myself to shell out hundreds of dollars! So I purchased off-brand headphones that went in your ear for the gym and traveling but it would get annoying especially on a long flight. So when I saw these for 1/2 the price on Amazon during Prime Day, I bought TWO – one for myself and one for my husband. I figured that if they didn’t work, I could return them but if they did, it would be a steal. And thankfully it was! These have a 30+ hour playtime, are noise-canceling, and are super comfortable! I even fell asleep with these on! They are bluetooth but also come with a connection cord if you are on a plane, for example. They are made by COWIN and come in so many great colors! You can use them to listen to music, talk, or just to drown out the surrounding noise. These are the E7 model, which has been recently upgraded, but I honestly don’t need anything other than these! They are great! They are currently $59.99 with a $10 coupon!!

So many of you know that I no longer drink regular dairy milk anymore and have switched almost exclusively to almond milk. While it is delicious, one of the draw backs is that I cannot get those gourmet lattes at home as good as those purchased at those fancy coffee shops (you know who I am talking about). Almond milk just doesn’t foam/froth as well as regular milk so my coffees were always standard and my matcha lattes never had that little extra “oomph”. So when I saw this on sale, I figured it was worth the $10 to try it and worst case, I could save it for the holidays when I make hot cocoa with regular milk for my family or when my husband wants to make coquito – Puerto Rican egg nog (more on that during the holidays). With two AA batteries, I washed this and gave it a go… The results are amazing!!!!!! And clean-up is a breeze. It comes with a stand to prevent damage to the device as well which makes for a nice little display. It also works with eggs and powdered supplements! I can froth my almond milk for my morning coffee in less than 30 seconds!! I honestly don’t know why I didn’t try this sooner. This milk frother by Zulay is currently $14.99 with a $3.00 off coupon.

My husband and I have been working on making some important changes in our home – some of them including green cleaning products while others are healthier alternatives for those overly fragrant aerosols. So I decided to try one of the top rated Amazon diffusers with my doTERRA oils (more on this in a future post) to see if this could truly replace those candles or sprays. I actually took this one to my office to try it before buying one for the home especially since it is only $14.99 (currently with a $2.00 off coupon). This little diffuser is no bigger than the iPhone X but it packs quite the punch! It does light up if you want it to too and can either change colors or stay one color depending on your preference – I personally don’t use the light option in my office. It also has the option for intermittent diffusing -30 seconds on, 30 off or continuous. It has a large enough reservoir that I can have it running for an 8-hour day and I still have some leftover. It evenly dispersing my essential oils and leaves my space fresh and with a hint of cool mist which is essential when living in a very dry climate! I highly recommend the InnoGear diffuser for bedrooms or smaller rooms in your home as it is whisper quiet and has an auto-off feature so when it runs out of water, it turns off! You really should try the Ultrasonic Diffuser!

So I didn’t go completely overboard in July but I definitely purchased more than I had anticipated! These have all been great additions to the home and were items that I was already waiting to buy any way so I did not overly indulge in my splurge Amazon shopping. And of course with Prime these all came in 24 or 48 hours which far beats many other retailers for only shopping!

Have you tried any of these items? What are your thoughts? Anything that you want me to purchase and review for you? Comment below!

Fiscal Health – Updates and Apps

Some of you that read my post on “No Spend Week”, know that my household has opted to have one week where, unless it is a bill or medical, we do not spend money! That means no frivolous expenses, no outside meals, and no grocery shopping! While we will be starting our second No Spend Week on July 9th (through July 16th), I have learned a few helpful tips & tricks as well as wanted to share our results from our first run!

Update
Overall, drum roll please, we saved about $250 during our first No Spend Week!
How?
We did not grocery shop at all! We did some fresh produce shopping on the Sunday before our week started and then reverted to eating the food items we already had on hand. It did force us to get a little creative with our meal planning (see my take on a burrito bowl dinner) but we did not find ourselves tossing any expired goods and started to cleanup our deep freezer items!
Another way we saved is putting some of our desired items on ice and came back to them a week later. We did this in three ways: first we literally just put items in our online shopping carts and then closed out of the page; secondly, we put items on our grocery list so we knew exactly what we needed when we could shop again (added bonus is we had the time to go through our cabinets, fridge, and freezer before adding an item to the list or purchasing only to find out we already had it at home); and thirdly, I put things on ice meaning I could not even add it to my shopping cart!
The last way that we saved is through finding free things to do with each other. So instead of going out to eat, we cooked at home -together. We played video games, watched Netflix, went to the gym, played with the dogs, went on walks, and other fun things at home that we normally have to try and squeeze into the day.

Apps
So I mentioned that I learned a few tips and tricks during this time to help us save those big bucks. Some of the tips are apps that we never really got around to researching before while another is an extension I was able to add to my browser (Chrome).

Starting off with “putting things on ice” – introducing Icebox. This extension is free to add to your Chrome browser and reduces your impulse buying at many online retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Sephora. How it works is it literally replaces the “add to cart” button with “put on ice” and it saves it for you depending on the “thaw” period you set, with the recommended 30 days window as a default. This means that those impulse buys you may regret later or even forgot you ordered when you’re scrolling through the Amazon abyss at 2 AM instead of sleeping, will be saved instead of purchased so when the thaw period is over, you may find yourself realizing you don’t need that hipster cat throw pillow after all. But if there is an item that you really need to purchase, you can override Icebox and purchase the item!

Another two extensions that I automatically added to my browser for those times that I can shop help me save money by either offering cashback or adding coupon codes that I did not previously have. These two extensions are Ebates (which is now called Rakuten) and Honey. Just install and when you are shopping, these two extensions will automatically notify you when they can save you money!

There are three main apps that we have been using lately to help us save money through scanning our receipts, and in the case of the latter two, matching them up with savings within the app for additional money in our pockets.

  • Receipt Hog – This also has a Chrome extension and can automatically link to your Amazon purchase and email, With this app, you get tokens that you can redeem for cash through a visa gift card, PayPal, or an Amazon gift card.
  • Fetch Rewards – This app scans your receipts for points and can link up with additional savings. You can also make money for gift cards at several retailers or donate your profits to charity.
  • ibotta – When you scan your receipt with this app and match it to a number of specific, or general, products, you will get money added to your account that you can cash out after accruing $20. Some items that are specific to a brand can save you up to $4+ dollars while some of the “any” items will save you less but you can still save money and those pennies add up!

So for our first No Spend Week, we were able to do a lot with a little and decided that we will be doing this every month! This is a good way to take back some control in an economy that strives on spending! Plus we get to take our debt down and save more by finding ways to use our time more effectively and get back to basics.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate and will pay me through a sign-up or utilization bonus. This does not impact your experience or my honest review of the services.

Please share with me any tips you have used to curb your spending and if any of these methods are tools you will use for yourself.