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Why I love Target!

English: Logo of Target, US-based retail chain

Tonight I had a very successful trip to Target. Some trips, particularly those when I take the kids, I leave exhausted and frustrated. However, there are those like tonight when I find so many good deals that I can’t wait to get home and share them all with my husband. For those of you who haven’t discovered Target’s finer points, or for those who just want to save more there, here are my reasons Target is one of my favorite stores:

1) Coupons:

Target has their own coupons you can print from their website. They can be stacked with manufacturer’s coupons, so you save even more. They have coupons on everything from name brands to their own brands to specific sections of the store. On most trips, I can save at least $20 in coupons! I even get coupons in the mail from Target. I think I get these from having a Target baby registry at one time and for making purchases online from their website.

2) Red Card:

You can get a Target Red Card: either debit or credit card, which gives you 5% back on each purchase. The discount is applied immediately – no waiting for rebates or reward cards. We do not have any credit cards, so I love that I can get these same rewards with the debit card. The money comes right out of my checking account as a regular debit card does. Tonight I saved an extra $10 from using my Red Card!

3) Bag discounts:

When you bring your own bags to use for your purchases, Target will give you $.05 back for each bag. This also comes right off your total purchase cost. Every little bit adds up. For more information on bag discounts, see my post “Reusable shopping bags = savings.”

4) Seasonal sales:

Target is a great place for getting great deals on seasonal items. No matter if you celebrate the holiday or not, the days after can provide some wonderful sales! See my post tomorrow for all the goodies I found during after Christmas sales! Target also has a great variety of items they only have available for different seasons and holidays and some that are only found at their store such as: home decor, organizational items, food, novelties, gift items, dining/cookware, and more. We have gotten several things during some of these seasonal sales that have lasted us years. See my related post on “Shop those Easter sales today!”

5) A fun shopping experience:

I love finding new items every time I go to Target. Maybe it is a new line of dishware. Maybe it is a new line of craft items. Or a new line of toys for that time of year. There is always something new to find and normally at great deals. The dollar aisle has also yielded some great gifts, toys, and teaching items for me and my family!

6) Sales on staple items:

I know that even if I don’t have a coupon, Target is going to have a sale on items I use often at some point. And for many items, even if I do not have a coupon and it is not on sale, their price still beats many competitors. I like not feeling so guilty if I have to make a purchase there without a sale or coupon! This is where my price list really comes in handy. See my post on “Keeping a price list.”

7) Good quality clothing for reasonable prices:

With my busy schedule, I do not get a lot of time to shop. I love that I can find clothing for everyone in the family at Target. I especially like that I can find staple items for good prices, whether or not they go on sale. I depend on Target for pajamas for the family, sweats for the kids and myself, socks and underwear for everyone, etc. Pajamas for my boys can get quite costly. At a department store, you can easily spend $10 or more for one set. At Target, I get the Carter’s First Year brand and spend $12-$13 for two sets together. They sometimes go on sale for a few bucks less, and then there are days like today where I found three sets of the same size for half price! They sell sets year-round tailored for each season and the designs change. They are comfortable and last. My boys love them!

Their clothes last and look good. My little boys wear many items that their older brother wore that I probably paid less than $5-$10 a piece for! I often find such good deals that I even buy sizes for later and then store them in the basement. Today I found hoodie jackets for $2.98. I also found sweatshirts and sweatpants for $2.08 in the boys’ department! I bought three hoodies for each size S – L (I could only find one XL)! They will be set for a few years! See my post “Staying on top of your kids’ clothing.”

8) Black Friday is a breeze!

I am not a diehard Black Friday shopper that will stand in line hours before a store opens or camps out the night before. My Black Friday shopping route in simple: CVS and Target and occasionally one or two other stores. For the past two years, Target has had some great Black Friday deals like cheap pajamas for the family, great toy deals, and cheap hat/glove sets for the kids. I have not had to go right when the store opened. I get there mid-morning, and for the most part all the items I have been looking for were still in stock! They don’t just provide a few each of their good deals, but plenty for many shoppers! I am not shopping high-priced items, but I still come out with some great deals and am quite happy!

9) A clean and usually well-stocked store:

I know I can find good deals, too, at Wal-Mart, but I found the clutter and disorganization to create more stress than success. I like that Target is always clean and orderly and I know where everything is. The order of the store makes sense and it is not so large that I am very exhausted when I finish a trip complete with groceries, too. Occasionally the dollar aisle is a mess, but overall the store is pretty well-kept!

10) Plenty of online deals as well:

Target often has a sale on something I need more than one of, but the store doesn’t have that many or the right size in stock. However, the website does. I recently got tennis shoes for my boys and paid a minimal amount for shipping! Shoe costs can add up, so we were all very excited! And compared to the Wal-Mart shoes I have purchased, these have lasted a lot longer! I have also gotten some great skirts from their daily deals as well as other items. See my post “Online shopping tips” to make the most of your Internet shopping.

11) Clearance sections:

It seems that so many stores have junk in their clearance sections. However, at Target, I find stuff all the time. I particularly love to shop the clothing clearances, as I mentioned before. I always find great deals on clothing for my kids. By putting those purchases and hand-me-downs aside for later, my kids love when they grow out of a size and I bring up boxes of great stuff for the new season. The boxes include new and used, but they don’t care. By thinking ahead, I rarely have to buy much for the new season!

Target also has clearance sections in other departments. The end caps of aisles are always full of surprises and there are always tons of items on clearance in the home department! Today I got two great toys to put aside in my gift drawer and gingerbread cheesecake cookies only available for a limited time and so yummy! See my post on “Preparing for gift-giving = savings.”

NOTE: To find the best deals for Target each week, check out “Kosher on a Budget” and “Totally Target,” two great blogs.

Happy shopping!

Please feel free to share why you love Target in the Comments section!

 

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Are “dollar stores” really a good deal?

A few weeks ago I went to my local Dollar Tree for water bottles for camp. It seems we always lose a few right away and I like having a backup for everyone. I took a little extra time in my browsing to write down what items are good deals at a dollar store. You do have to be careful because for some items, you get what you pay for. Like those water bottles. This year’s selection held up only one use before the sip top broke and the handles broke, too, Last year’s lasted a bit longer! Remember to bring your price list with you, so you can really determine if something is a good deal (for instance aluminum foil and plastic bags were not cheaper than the Ziploc brand at Sam’s Club). See my post on “Keeping a price list” for how to create your own.

Here are some items that ARE a good buy at your local dollar store:

Plastic containers: I love to find plastic baskets for organizing my classroom or toys at home, for gifts (like Shaloch Manos – Purim gift baskets), and more.

Dish scrubbers: Our sponges seem to get so disgusting even with frequent washing and microwave cleanings. So we instead love to use the handled dish scrubbers with nylon bristles.

Certain toys: There are some good deals on toys such as large bubble wands and other seasonal toys, mini figures (I found superheroes and Toy Story figures), silly straws (a great cheap prize for my kids), bug kits for outdoor discoveries, and stickers.

Teacher supplies: You often can find stickers, dice, playing cards, notepads, accents, and more for your classroom.

Party/gift supplies: Tissue paper, party bags, goodie bags, and thank you cards are super cheap here. Helium balloons are a great deal as well.

Craft supplies: The quantities are not big, but you can find a variety of craft supplies good for home or school.

Cheap ponchos: I would love to buy a bunch of these and donate them to our shul for emergency rain showers!

Shower puffs: Why pay more for a fancier shower puff when these work just as well!

Tea lights: At 16 for $1.00, this is the cheapest place I have found for tea lights. I use these in emergencies when I am out of Shabbos candles. They also work well for guests who need to light Shabbos candles at your home.

Food items: I have not priced out the food items yet or looked to see what is kosher, but friends tell me Goya beans are a good deal. I also like to get the Mrs. Freshley’s baked items like nutty bars. Cheap sinful treat!

Related articles:

* Do you have any favorite items you go to the dollar store for? Please share in the comments section!

 

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Savings Tool Review: Pricegrabber

One of the ways I have saved a significant amount of money has been through buying things online instead of at a brick and mortar store. However, it can definitely be time-consuming to compare prices and search from website to website to determine the best deal (including shipping). I have used Google and Yahoo Shopping, but the process can still be long. I have figured out some important tips and tricks, which you can read at my posts “Online shopping tips” and “Our online shopping list.”

However, one thing you can’t do with most shopping comparison sites is find out when the price drops. I might want an item, but want to wait until it gets cheaper. I now can do that with a site called PriceGrabber.com. You can select product favorites, set your target price, and then an email will be sent to you when the item drops below that price!

I had read about PriceGrabber recently in several sources, including one of my favorite magazines, “Shop Smart.” You can see my review here. You can shop right through the PriceGrabber website, seeing comparisons on prices from a variety of online sources – big and small. You can also just use its tools such as detailed product information and reviews, as well as merchant ratings and reviews. I definitely will use their Buying Guides for 19 categories of products, including almost 150 products!

Other features include: a Storefront to sell your own products if you don’t have a website, local deals, gift ideas, weekly specials, coupons, and mobile apps. If I had a smartphone, I would definitely want the mobile app so I can check online prices when I am at a store!

Let me know what you think of this website/tool and if you find it helpful! I am looking forward to using it for more efficient online shopping! 

NOTE – TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SAVINGS USING PRICEGRABBER:

1) Refer to your Price List if the items you are buying are ones you regularly purchase and keep track of prices on. See my post “Keeping a price list” for a copy of the form and tips for creating your own.

2) Make your final purchases through other websites like Shop at Home, Ebates, and others that give you a rebate on your purchases. There are others that give a percentage to the organization, charity, or school you select.

3) Also, check Retailmenot.com (or your email newsletters from specific retailers) for any online coupon codes to apply to your order. These will not be shown on the price comparison pages.

* I am not being compensated for, nor was I asked, to write this review. It is simply part of my research into tools to help my family and others save more money and shop more efficiently!

 

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Coupon websites – updated!

my coupon organizers

As I have mentioned before, one great way to save money on a regular basis is to use coupons. I am not a super couponer, but I do save a lot per month by pairing coupons with sales (and Keeping a price list) and I have found a few ways to make my couponing more efficient.

VARIOUS SOURCES FOR COUPONS:

1) Cut those from my Sunday paper and mailed circulars.

2) Print coupons from various online sites.

3) Join the (postal) mailing list for stores that I like and frequent often. Sometimes just by making a purchase from a website, they will add you to their mailing list. For example, I get coupons from Target, Children’s Place and Gymboree in the mail.

4) Use coupon codes and go through rebate sites when shopping at online retailers. My favorite site for online codes is Retail Me Not. Before making an online purchase, I also check my email to see if I have gotten any online offers from stores I like.

See my related posts:

To make computer coupon printing easy and as quick as possible, I have bookmarked my favorite coupon sites in my Mozilla browser. Then I can just go from one site to the next to print coupons each week.

BEST COUPON WEBSITES:

Coupons.com

SmartSource

Redplum

Mambo Sprouts - coupons for natural and organic brands.

Freeflys - offers links to free samples as well.

Target - Scroll down to the bottom menu and select Coupons.

Box Tops For Education – Sign up for a Box Tops account and then you will have access to their coupons.

All You Magazine – Only print the exclusive coupons, the rest are duplicates from Coupons.com. Also check out their free samples section.

Whole Foods Market - You can also pick up their in-store booklet with more coupons. These often differ from what is online.

Recyclebank – Participate in activities to earn points good for redeeming on coupons and other offers.

Seventh Generation – You can earn points for completing various activities on their website. These points can be redeemed for various offers from Seventh Generation. See my post “Get rewarded for shopping – Part 2″ and “Get rewarded for shopping – updated!”

Valpak – Type in your zip code to see what offers are available in your city.

Kosher on a Budget – This blogger posts special coupon offers (like from manufacturer’s websites) on a regular basis as well as weekly pair ups with sales from Target, CVS, and Walgreens. Occasionally she will also feature Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods deals.

Firestone Complete Auto Care - Tons of great coupons on products and services at Firestone.

St. Louis Town Planner - This website offers great local coupons for services, products, entertainment, and more. The calendars are mailed to households before the new year. The coupons may vary from website to calendar.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

 

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The advantage of buying paper goods online

Assortment of disposable plastic cups

For the past several years I have ordered paper goods and aluminum pans for Pesach (and sometimes during the year if needed) from online retailers. I have saved hundreds of dollars over shopping locally. I have included a comparison of prices for Webstaurantstore.com, KitchenDance, Restockit, Papergoods.com, Sam’s Club, Party City, Costco, and Target. I was unable to get many Costco prices because we are not members there and they did not have prices for many of these items online. If you want, you can add prices from other stores near to you. Then you will have a great tool for deciding where to purchase your paper goods for this holiday!

Passover Prices for Disposables 2012

* If you are here in St. Louis and want to participate in our group order, please download the order form and email it to me. If you live elsewhere, you can put together your own group order. Just change the contact info and you are set to go!

Passover Disposables 2012 Order Form

I have heard from several people that restaurant suppliers sometimes have good deals as well, but I was unable to add them to my list this time around. Some of these stores require you to be a business to shop there.

For other ways to save on Pesach supplies, see my post “Ways we save money on Pesach needs.”

Please share any ways you save on Pesach in the Comments section!

 

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Our online shopping list

MSI laptop computer

I have found over the years that I can save a lot by buying things online. It used to be that I would only get things online that we used a lot of (and of course, books and CDs). See my posts on “Buying printer paper by the case”, “Brighter savings,” and “Subscribe and Save.” However, now I have found so many great deals for various things online.

I thought I would provide you a list of items and websites that we frequent online:

Amazon Subscribe & Save:
- Finish dishwasher detergent
- Tide Free & Clear laundry detergent
- Clif Z Bars
- Good Seasons Italian Dressing packets
- New Morning Graham Crackers (save almost $14 off a case of 12 versus Whole Foods price)
- Seventh Generation cleaners and paper goods (sometimes Target and Whole Foods have better prices on these, it varies.)
- Batteries (Sam’s club is normally cheaper on these, but occasionally Amazon will offer a great deal.)

* Prices change frequently on Amazon as does their availability of products. So check before purchasing to make sure the item is still a good deal.

Children’s Clothing:
I have gotten great deals from Land’s End and Children’s Place online. They often run various online specials (codes) and have great clearance prices. Land’s End also has a guarantee program, where if an item wears out, you can send it back for a free replacement of the same size and type. I plan to do this for the nice pants I bought for my older son and will pass on to my younger boys.

Disney movies:
I have built up our collection of DVDs through the free sign-up movies and through various specials from the Disney Movie Club. I have even gotten great deals on box sets of TV shows we love like “Castle” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Facial wash, toner and moisturizer:
I get my favorite Earth Science facial products from AllStarHealth and save about $12 buying all three online instead of at Whole Foods. I order it with my multivitamin so I save on shipping.

Hand soap:
One of our favorite hand soaps is Jason’s Aloe Vera. It has a very light scent, cleans well, and has no harmful chemicals. I can save $10 for a case of 12 from Swanson versus buying a case at Whole Foods. (I also buy the Method liquid soaps at Target. They have refill packs that have very little packaging.)

Paper goods:
Each year around Passover, I buy our paper goods from an online office/restaurant supplier, Restockit. I end up saving hundreds of dollars off what I would pay at Party City or even Sam’s Club. This is one of the few times we use disposable dishes, because with all the cooking for Passover, I can’t ask my husband to also have to wash all the dishes! I will post more details about this in a few weeks.

Printer ink:
I find good deals on Amazon from other retailers that sell through them. I like to get the refurbished cartridges which are often much cheaper than going to an office supply store or even Target and Wal-Mart. If they don’t work well, I have never had problems getting replacements sent to me.

Vitamins:
I save $16 on a bottle of 150 tablets of my one-a-day vitamin from Rainbow Light (versus the Whole Foods price) from AllStarHealth, even counting shipping costs.

* For more tips on shopping online, see my post “Online Shopping Tips.”

 

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Manage your subscriptions with ease

Magazines to read

I love to read magazines. When I was a kid I used to beg my grandmother to buy me Sesame Street magazine at the grocery store. I moved on to Sassy, Teen, and Seventeen, and have been an avid magazine reader since.

However, paying the bills for magazines can be quite tricky. They mail you multiple renewal notices often way before your subscription will expire.. It can be hard to figure out when you really need to pay. So I created a form to help me keep up with all of my subscriptions. Another form, you say? No surprise if you know me or have read my blog at all!

This form helps me keep track of:
- what magazines I currently subscribe to
- when I last purchased or renewed my subscription
- where I purchased the subscription from
- when my subscription will expire.

Now when I see a great deal on a magazine I like, I know when to get it. I also know which renewal notices to pay and which to toss. It also helps me determine what magazines to buy when my son comes home with his magazine fundraiser for school each year.

Click on the following to download my form: Magazine Subscriptions. Change the magazine names to suit your own favorites and then you can handwrite or type in the other information.

Enjoy those magazines!

Check out my friend Mara’s website, Kosher on a Budget, for great magazine deals. She posts great specials for subscriptions under $10 (frequently under $5) for many different magazines from various online sources).

For other helpful forms I have created, click here to see all my posts containing forms.

 

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SodaStream soda makers!

SodaStream

SodaStream (Photo credit: ewen and donabel)

I admit it; I love soda. When I am stressed I crave two things – soda and chocolate. However, I realize that my waistline and budget are not thanking me for these two things. So a few months ago we bought a SodaStream soda maker. I got a particularly good deal with a $20 off coupon from Target, a $10 gift card from another Target promotion, and a $10 rebate from SodaStream, making my $80 SodaStream only $40!

My husband loves that we can make seltzer any time and I love that there are so many choices of sodas and that they use sucralose instead of some of the other harmful artificial sweeteners that are out there.

It is so nice to make soda whenever we want and to have it for guests on Shabbos. It is also great not to be creating so much waste!

I thought it would be helpful to provide a breakdown of prices of SodaStream products for those of you who may be considering buying one or who already have one.

The Starter Kits vary based on what model you get, so I did not include their prices here. See the SodaStream website for descriptions of all of the models. Be aware that the fancier models have a meter that measures your carbonator level. You may need to take the battery out to use this type on Shabbos. The website also has helpful information on stores that carry their products and details on how to get new carbonators.

Item

Bed, Bath

Target

Soda Stream online store

Soda flavors $4.99 (50 – 8 oz.) = $3.99 with 20% off coupon$6.99 for some = $5.59 with 20% coupon 5.99 = $5.69 with Red Card 5% discount $4.99 or $6.99 (depending on flavor)
Sparkling Naturals $9.99 (25 – 8 oz.) = $7.99 with 20% off coupon Does not carry $9.99
Flavor Essence (My Water) $9.99 (3 x 20 liters) = $7.99 with 20% off coupon 12.99 = $12.34 with Red Card 5% discount $9.99
2 black or pink bottles (1 L) $19.99 = $15.99 with 20% off coupon $24.99 = $23.74 with Red Card 5% discount $20 for 1 L, other sizes also available on their website
Carbonating Cylinder $14.99 for the 60 L size = $11.99 with 20% off coupon Does not carry $30 for one 130 L$30 for two 60 L

The bottom line: Bed, Bath, and Beyond is the best on prices. If you have their $5 off coupons, you can save even more, too.

However, the SodaStream website carries all the flavor choices, some of which I have never seen before in stores! They also carry different sizes of bottles, like a ½ L travel bottle, and the larger carbonators. You can also sign up for their email list to hear about special offers and news.

Happy Shopping! Add any comments on your experiences with the SodaStream below!

 

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Black Friday tips and beyond

With Black Friday this week, there are many great deals at brick and mortar and online stores. However, before you shop, educate yourself. Don’t rush into getting each deal just because something is on sale and says it is X dollars off! Be sure that you really know if that item is a good deal. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine your Black Friday shopping list.

1) Is the item a good price?

Check prices of that item at other retailers. For regular items like groceries, supplies, office supplies, cleaners, etc., check your price list. Make sure you have at least three stores’ prices to know if something is a good deal. My price list mostly contains prices from our local grocery store, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Target and Sam’s Club (or Costco, depending on where you shop). See my post “Keeping a price list” for more information on creating your own price list.

For items you don’t buy on a regular basis, check sites like www.Amazon.com or www.PriceGrabber.com. This will give you an idea of the prices that identical or similar items are going for.

2) Is the item of good quality?

A good price does not always equal a good deal if the quality is less than desired. We are talking about maybe purchasing a Blu-Ray player. My husband saw a great deal in the Best Buy flier – one for $50. However, when he looked at the reviews, various people commented that this particular brand was slow.

So, check out the reviews. My favorite places to go are www.Amazon.com and www.cnet.com. CNet rates electronics products and has great video demos, too. If you are shopping for clothes or shoes, customer reviews on store websites can be helpful, too. Other customer’s comments will often tell you what size to buy, if an item holds up well, and if there have been any problems with shrinkage or fading.

For larger items you are looking at, check out buying guides. Family Circle and Real Simple magazines have great articles on specific products on their website as well as in their magazines. These guides contain tips on what to look for, types available, differences, price range, etc. Either search for “buying guide” or the particular item (like tablet computer, iron, vacuum) on their websites, and you will find great information. Shop Smart and Consumer Reports are also good sources of information, but you need a subscription to read their tips. See my post “Review: Shop Smart Magazine.”

3) Is it worth going to this store keeping in mind how many other places I plan to go to?

Make a plan for what stores you plan to go to and what items you are looking for at each store. Save those stores with the fewest items and lowest savings for last. This way you can focus on your big savings errands first.

4) Do I really need the item?

Keep in mind your monthly budget when planning your shopping. Just because something is a good deal doesn’t mean you have to get it now. Some things go on sale throughout the year and have coupons available often. For instance, if you already have enough toothpaste in your stockpile, use your money to purchase something else you need or want.

Feel free to comment here on any great deals you snag this year!

 

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Review: Kosher on a Budget

A few weeks after I started my blog, a friend told me about http://www.kosheronabudget.com. At first I was afraid to look at the site, for fear that what I was doing was already being done. I was relieved to find out that it wasn’t and that I LOVE HER SITE!

Mara, the author of the blog, came to St. Louis this past Sunday and I was so excited to see her. She gave a great presentation, complete with tips for non-couponers and couponers. I got so much great advice and have been sharing my notes with others.

Please check out her website — it is amazing! Her tips have taken my savings to a whole new level and I haven’t even gotten to read all of her additional articles yet. Her main blog posts contain:
- timely tips on coupons
- sales on various websites and at brick and mortar stores
- special deals
- freebies
- holiday preparation and recipes
- and more.

She gathers information from a variety of sources. For example, I had never taken advantage of CVS or Walgreens deals before, thinking I wouldn’t save that much and their prices were too high on things that I normally just buy at Target. Boy was I wrong! She does the work for you, posting the good KOSHER deals for CVS, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Target each week. It saves me so much time instead of having to cull through each sales flier, my coupons, and my price list. I get such a rush when I come out of CVS and Walgreens with having spent so little and gotten so much!

She has great articles to give you the basics on coupons, budgeting, freebies, and so much more. She even has a recipe exchange and holiday prep information.

If you are new to her site, don’t worry about going back to all of her past posts. The information is so timely that it is best to start with a week or two of posts and then look at her articles under various headings.

Thanks, Mara, for such a great site! It was great to see you here in St. Louis!

 

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