Wednesday, September 15, 2021

How To Save Money Shopping for Groceries at Walmart


How to Save Money Shopping at Walmart
I live in a town that has a grocery store that is smaller than some convenience stores I have been to.  Ten miles away there is a Walmart and a mom and pop grocery store.  While Wal-Mart doesn't give me the best savings for my grocery dollar, it's most convenient, and the easiest to save money when shopping.

My first tip is simple.  Just shop there.  Usually prices are a couple cents cheaper than other places, and this can add up.  There are exceptions, especially if you use coupons, but for the most part, just shopping at Wal-Mart saves you money over other stores.  Wal-Mart can be very picky about coupons.  This can vary by location, but whenever I have had a problem with a coupon, it has tended to be at a Walmart.  Most recently I had a coupon for a free bag of Lay's with a price limit of $4.29.  The bag of chips I got was $4.30.  Instead of writing in $4.29, the cashier said I had to get a smaller bag.  Called a manager over, and she said the 'good on any Lay's item" was in fact, NOT good on any Lay's item, but the price limit could not be exceeded.  Finally my husband (who had worked at Walmart for a few years) explained that it should work if the price is keyed in.  (That usually has to be done with ANY totally free coupon, regardless of price.)  The manager was gone by that point, the cashier tried it, and viola -- we got $4.29 off our bag of chips.  I've had cashiers (and managers) create unique coupon policies at check out (We only accept one coupon per day since we don't "double" and using two different coupons is "doubling" -- which is NOT what doubling is!)  My point is if you plan on using many coupons, WalMart may not be the grocery store of your choice.

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

My second tip is to use iBotta.  It's super easy to use at Walmart.  You just sign up, add offers to your account, and then scan the bar code at the bottom of your receipt once you check out.  You don't have to scan any groceries at all!  In fact, if you are using grocery pick up, it is so much easier to redeem your offers because you just make sure you are putting the correct item in your cart and even if you don't know where a certain free after offer item is, the employee pulling your order would know!  One great thing about iBotta is Walmart is a partner store with some offers.  Last year at Thanksgiving and at Back To School they had a number of free items (including a turkey breast!) 

Third, use other savings apps.  While savings apps aren't specific to Wal-Mart, they do help.  I use Fetch (My referral code is NP7PE ).  It takes a while for points to add up but I get a few Amazon gift cards a year with this app.  I also use Receipt Hog (My referral code is stroh862 )  This one takes even longer to see rewards from it than Fetch.  With both of these, instead of scanning the bar code like you do with iBotta, you have to snap photos of your receipt.

Fourth, there aren't many places that offer cash back for grocery pick up at Walmart unless it's your first time using the service, but if what you need can be shipped, go through a cash back site.  This can work because sometimes the items you want aren't in stock at your local store.  My husband and I love spicy Nongshim noodles but they are not sold in our area because most people don't like spicy food where we live.  Another item we use is Nido.  It's great for cooking and you can't tell it was powdered milk when you use it to cook with or in potato soup.  It's often found in Hispanic markets, and none of our stores within an hour carry it.  So I order it online, and Walmart is the place.  Pet items count if you order from walmart.com and not use the online grocery pick up.
The best places for cash back at Walmart are:


TopCashBack - 2% for pet items  Swagbucks offers 1 point per dollar spent at Walmart.com.  (Although I admit I could be mistaken on this and it could change at any time.)  

One of the great things with going through Swagbucks is you can turn your points into rewards for future Walmart cards!  You can also add "magic receipt" items which are usually identical to iBotta offers if you would prefer Swagbucks over iBotta (but usually the value is higher with iBotta.)

Lastly, use a good rewards credit card.  Unfortunately Walmart is not coded as a grocery store for most credit card issuers, so a good overall no fee card is a good choice.  Just be sure and pay it off and not carry a balance or your rewards will not be as much as you spent.  A card I would recommend for Wal-Mart shopping is Discover.  You also get a $50 statement credit when you use the card in your first three months of opening it.

Wal-Mart used to have more offers that appealed to bargain shoppers to lure us in.  But gone are the days of the Savings Catcher and ad matches, and we have to do what we can with what is available, but thankfully the Walmart only iBotta offers have really helped make up for Savings Catcher.  (Especially for me because there were no major stores to compare prices to within a 25 mile radius!) 

Wal-Mart is the toughest store to save money at if you are wanting to take a little extra time and stretch your budget as far as it can go, but it's also the easiest in the fact that overall their prices are lower than most grocery stores.  There's not a lot of ways to save at Wal-Mart, but at max you would spend about 5 minutes looking up iBotta offers, then putting in your receipt.  Time is money, so I do shop at Wal-Mart even though I can often save more elsewhere with a little effort.


This is the first in a series of saving money on groceries at different stores. 


Friday, May 21, 2021

Six cans of almonds under $4! Ends 5/31/2021


FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

 I love almonds.  When I went to a weight loss camp a few years ago I learned how healthy almonds are -- for our snacks we could choose almonds or a cheese stick plus a piece of fruit.  The combo of protein and fiber made the snack more filling.

So when I recently discovered a deal where I could get six cans of almonds for under $4 I was thrilled.  Here's how it is done:


First go to Amazon and purchase SIX cans of Blue Diamond almonds.  Eligible ones are:

Blue Diamond Almonds, 6 oz. Sriracha

Blue Diamond Almonds 6 oz. Sweet Thai Chili

Blue Diamond Almonds, 6 oz. Spicy Dill Pickle


Be sure and add any coupons before you check out!

Then after you check out, print out your receipt and either submit it here or text FLAVORSWEEPS to 877-322-8355

You will receive a $10 check in the mail or $10 through Venmo or Paypal.  You can repeat this FIVE TIMES before May 31st, 2021.  The almonds I ordered all had a best by 2023 date, so plenty of time to enjoy these!


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Participating in the American AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial



I knew Covid was coming.  I had been watching it since December 2019, and when I had a doctor's visit in January I asked what I could do to help improve my immune system.  By March 2020, I had a doctor's visit, and I said if he knew of a vaccine trial, I wanted in.  He chuckled and said a vaccine was a ways off.  I knew it was, but I wanted in as soon as one was being developed.

I have more medical issues than I care to discuss, and I remember mid year in 2020, my husband having taken medical leave of absence and us having to pay over $1,200 a month for insurance.  I remember crying and asking my husband if we would live through 2020.  He said we would do our best.  When I heard in July Moderna was starting vaccine trials, I tried to get in, even though it would have meant driving about 12 hours each way.  I kept my eyes and ears peeled.

Finally, in November, I was doing some searches I do to look for contests and sweepstakes to enter.  I was on a TV station in my state, and I saw there was an AstraZeneca trial going on in that town.  I set my alarm so I could start calling for info first thing in the morning.  I left a message, didn't hear back within a few hours and called again.  I was determined.  I answered a few questions and was told that I would have a 66% chance of getting the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine.  My appointment was scheduled, and a few days later, I made the 3 1/2 hour trip to the study center.  I had to answer a lot of questions and finally I was given the shot.  I said it felt uncomfortable going in.  (I had the flu show about six weeks prior, and it hadn't felt like that.). I was told it could be because it was cold.  

My husband and I hadn't been much of anywhere for a long time, and being 3 1/2 hours from home, by the time I got to the car, I felt kinda lousy.  We had talked about all the great places we might get takeout from -- possibly Papa Johns, Long John Silver's, or Chipotle.  I was feeling so bad, I was grumpy, and I said for him to get food wherever.  As he was driving to Chipotle, I was feeling so bad I wasn't sure if I would want to eat.  But a chicken burrito made me feel a bit better.

For whatever reason, the foods that I want when I am not feeling well are always a cheeseburger with fries and/or ice cream.  Halfway home, I started complaining I wanted ice cream.  We found a Sheetz and I ordered a milkshake for curbside service.  I dozed most of the rest of the way back to home and went to bed immediately.  It had been a seven hour day, and stressful.

The next morning, I woke and while I told the study later, "I felt like I had been hit by a truck", it was more accurate that I felt like there were a dozen weighted blankets on me.  I didn't think I could move at all, but I had to go to the bathroom.  I made myself get up, but every muscle, joint, and even my tiniest toenail felt like it was too tired to move.  (Yes, I know there are no nerve endings in my toenails, but I have never felt like that before.).  The next day I felt fine, and I had to think that maybe just the trip wore me out that bad. 

For my next shot, I was prepared to feel the same way, but I didn't, so I was wondering if I had gotten the vaccine or not.  My arm itched, and the injection site was a little sore, but I have a lot of medical issues as well as allergies.

So life resumed, my husband going back to work, and since I had a 66% chance of having had the vaccine I started doing a few things I hadn't done in a year -- like going into a store, still being very cautious because there was a 33% chance I didn't get the vaccine, and even if I did, the vaccines are more likely to make Covid-19 less severe than to eliminate it completely.  

I put my name in to get the vaccine from my local health department.  At that point, the study would be unblinded to see if I got the vaccine or the placebo.  So when I received the call, I had to tell them that I would call them back.  The lady seemed very confused, didn't think I could have gotten the vaccine in November, etc.  I called the testing site and it was unblinded.

Obviously, I achieved what I set out to do -- receive the vaccine.  Part of the study was I could quit at any point, but I am thankful for having received it, and I will remain in the trial.  There have been lots of questions over the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, and I can't help but wonder if the blood clot issue happened more in people who already had Covid as that was something that could happen with Covid.  Were post-Covid numbers being compared to rate of blood clots in a pre-Covid world?  

I have spent much of the past year watching Dr. John Campbell from England on YouTube, and I felt safe enough (and still feel safe) taking the AstraZeneca vaccine.  It is approved in the United Kingdom, and while it has yet to be approved in the United States, I feel confident enough in it that as of now, I will not be taking another vaccine.  Obviously, I'm still taking all precautions, such as mask wearing, and my husband sewed me an adorable guinea pig mask.  I carry around hand sanitizer, and I haven't met up with friends or family in over a year now.  (I'm hoping that last one can change as the weather is getting better and more vaccines are being distributed.) 

I think I made a good decision to participate.  It was well informed, thanks to Dr. Campbell, and such an important vaccine to take part in the study.  While it hasn't been rolled out in the USA yet, I am hopeful that it will be, and I am happy I could take part in such a needed -- and historic study.  I had a lot of friends be in medical and psych trials in college, but I never participated.  I now realize how much people willing to participate are needed.  Hats off to everyone who has ever participated in a study like this!

Friday, March 26, 2021

When Buying Generic Brands is a Sign of Wealth

FTC disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.

One of the things I am so appreciative of is being able to purchase store brand / generic items.  To me, that's a step up in the financial world.  I know it seems counter intuitive to see store brands as a luxury, but I often think this way.

I don't often talk about WHY I got into becoming a coupon queen / frugalista, but it isn't a pretty story, and Mom always told me not to air dirty laundry, but as I've grown older, I think it's important to tell your story and own what you have been through.  

When I was a freshman in college, my dad was hit by a drunk driver.  I was 16 (yes, a freshman in college).  Eventually I had to drop out of college, and  our finances were horrible.  We had to pay everything out of pocket for a while, and when the court case was finally settled, Dad got next to nothing for pain and suffering.  He moved out, and Mom and I were left to our own devices.  We found a place near us that would sell 50 pounds of potatoes for $5.  (This was in the 1990s.)  When we sometimes had $2 a week for groceries, this was about all we ate for over a year.  Once a month or so we would splurge on a can of tuna to split so we could have some protein.  All the while, Dad was actually feeding his dog pork chops.

I got tired of the constant potatoes and decided to learn to use coupons.  This was before any TV show, and it wasn't considered 'cool'.  I learned to be able to rack up significant savings.  One of my best trips I got $158 of groceries for $10 and was able to mail off for $20 in refunds from that.  That was far from the norm.

I heard people say they couldn't buy brand names because they were too expensive.  I said I couldn't buy generic because I couldn't afford it.  Back in the day, a package of Lipton rice or noodles was $1.29 (which I think is even more than they are now, and this was 20 years ago!)  My store tripled to 49 cents on Wednesdays, so I could take a 40 cent coupon for Lipton noodles and walk out paying 9 cents.  The generic was WAY more than 9 cents.  Same with Ragu spaghetti sauce.  Every three months it went on sale like clockwork for 99 cents.  I would trade coupons and have a couple dozen 25 cent off coupons which would make a jar of sauce 24 cents.  The generic was at least $1 more than that!  I could get Kellogg's Cornflakes for free.  Obviously, store brand cereal wasn't free.

In more recent years, I have watched lots of YouTube.  One of my favorite shows is Good Mythical Morning, and in it, I have learned that Kroger has a very strong 'store game' when it comes to products.  Meaning their store brand is of better taste and quality than many name brands.  Dollar General chips are better than many national brands according to Rhett and Link's blind taste tests.  

Last time I was in Kroger, I added 5 boxes of Kroger brand tuna helper to our cart and felt rich doing so.  I was paying $1 a box knowing that the Better Crocker brand would sometimes go on sale for 50 cents a box.  Yet, my husband and I prefer the Kroger brand.

I still save as much as I can in as many ways as I can, but now if I know I prefer the store brand (Kroger Ketchup rocks -- the only better I've ever had is Sir Kensington's ketchup and the only time I've ever had it was when there was a great deal through the iBotta app).

For the most part, I do buy what is cheapest even yet.  Recently I bought some Oatsome milk because I was able to get it free after iBotta.  They also often have free stuff on the app through Walmart.  I'll get it.  I figure what I don't like or can't use I can give to someone who can.  

But, for me, at this point in my life, I see buying generic as a luxury that I am so thankful I can afford when it's something I like better than name brand.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Is Your New Year's Resolution saving Money? You NEED these apps!

 FTC disclaimer:  The post contains affiliate links.

One of the most made new year's resolutions is to save money.  I've pinched pennies my entire life, and here are the apps and savings sites I plan on using in 2021! I used to keep a great notebook of how much I saved, how much I spent, and what I got in the mail each day.  I think I'll start that again in 2021 as I love reading back through past
notebooks from the 1990s!

1. Ibotta.  This is super easy to use, and I especially love using it with grocery store pick up because I don't have to hunt for the items needed for the refunds.  Please use my code of mtgkg when you sign up.  What I like about this app is they often give small savings on "any brand" items, and are having more and more totally free items.  For Thanksgiving 2020, there was over $20 of items including a 3 pound turkey breast you could get full purchase price back on.  These savings CAN be combined with other savings app.

2.  Fetch.   You can download this on the app store or Google play.  Please use my code of NP7PE when you sign up.  This is simple, you just scan your receipts and they will give you money back based on what you buy.  I never buy anything out of the way unless there is a full purchase price back on an item. You can even connect your Amazon account and earn points from your Amazon purchses.

3. Rakuten.  This was once called eBates.  Start your shopping through here and you can earn cash back.  In the years I have been a member, I have gotten hundreds of dollars back on stuff I would have purchased anyway!

4.  TopCashBack I tend to use this a little more than Rakuten because there is cash back for sites I often order from that Rakuten doesn't have.  Examples are eBay and ThriftBooks.

5. I use Swagbucks as my main search engine.  I earn about $25 a year just using it for my normal searches.  Also, if you print coupons to use, you can go through swagbucks first to print them, then earn points in your account for ones you redeem on top of using iBotta and Fetch for rewards!  

These are the apps I use the most.  With most things, once you get too many apps it takes more time than the savings it creates, so the only one that I have to pick from each time is when ordering online who gives better savings? TopCashBack or Rakuten.  It's been so much easier for me as I have gotten away from paper coupons and just am using store apps to download coupons to my card, and a few savings apps.  

I've been a coupon queen for almost 30 years now, and I have to say that my savings isn't what it was in the 1990s, but it doesn't take nearly as long now, either.  :)



Saturday, January 2, 2021

Super Easy Peanut Butter Banana Fudge


This post contains affiliate links.

Growing up, fudge always signaled Christmas to me. My aunt made the best fudge, and in more recent years I've been on a quest to find a recipe that is as good as what she made. She never made peanut butter banana fudge, but my husband made this for Christmas and I wanted to share because it's amazing. 

 You need:

16 ounces Maranatha Natural Peanut Butter with Banana (Or for a lesser banana flavor you can use less than 16 ounces and some regular flavor creamy peanut butter - the Maranatha nut butter has a strong banana flavor)


12 ounces of evaporated milk (do NOT use sweetened condensed, use evaporated)

1/4 cup BUTTER (NOT margarine)

7 ounces Fluff

1 tablespoon vanilla 


Bring the sugar, milk, and butter to a boil.  Stir constantly for 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and add peanut butter and Fluff.  Add vanilla. Beat with mixer until thoroughly combined. (My husband used our KitchenAid Mixer)

Pour into a 9 x 13 inch glass dish and allow to cool.