Saving Money at Big Lots

Saving Money at Big Lots

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I am a bargain shopper.  There’s no way around it.  If a deal can be had, I will find it!

That being said, each discount store is not created equal;  some places have better quality merchandise than others.

Today, I will share my thoughts on the best products to buy at Big Lots.

Home décor

This is by far the department that has the best value at Big Lots.  The inventory changes with the seasons and is relevant and affordably priced.  I got a great mirror here for only $20 that I plan to hang in my bathroom.  This includes hang-able art (is hang-able a word? You know what I mean) and picture frames.

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Food

Big lots has a decent variety of non-perishables that I peruse from time to time.  I have shied away from their new refrigerator and freezer sections, but I enjoy the selection of beverages and snacks.  In the beauty section I often find Slimfast shakes, South Beach bars, and Atkins bars for a fraction of the price I could get them at a grocery store or drugstore.

Kitchenware

I’ve gotten great deals on utensils such as can openers, and ceramic dishware.  The quality is decent and you can usually find brand names, such as Farberware.

 

Curtains and rods

Curtain rods (both white metal ones and decorative wooden ones) are very affordable and there is a large selection of good quality curtains, valences, and the like.  This valence in my kitchen was only $6 and I have gotten a set of blackout curtains for $15!

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Home organization

Storage tubs, Tupperware containers, and seasonal storage (such as patio covers and Christmas decoration storage) are usually a good value.  Hangers, too.

Seasonal

Seasonal decorations (ALL seasons—summer, fall, winter, and spring) are available and are attractive, reasonably priced and of good quality.

Underwear

You can usually find multi-packs of brand name underwear, such as Hanes and Froot of the Loom.  I am an underwear snob myself, but if you like the good old-fashioned briefs, you can find them for a good price at Big Lots.

Gift sets

Although I’m not a huge fan of the beauty section in general, Big Lots has decent brand-named beauty gift sets.  Of course, your best bet is to wait until the holidays are over, but even at their regular prices these will be less expensive than you’ll find in other stores.

Clearance

Yes, Big Lots has clearance!  There are often a lot of broken or damaged items in the clearance section, but sometimes I have found some incredible deals.  You can also repurpose items that won’t be able to serve their original purpose.  The best food deals I have found were clearance items that were about to expire.

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There are some items that are of poor quality that I have seen at Big Lots.  These are the items I would steer clear of:

  • Sheets and comforters
  • Electronics
  • Office supplies
  • Beauty Items

 

Things I’m not sure about:

Baby Items

I don’t have kids, so I haven’t needed to buy baby products.

Cleaning products

I prefer to buy brand-name cleaning products on sale and/or with coupons, so I’m not sure about the quality of these items.

Clothes

I haven’t bought any so I’m not sure about the quality.

 

Pros of Shopping at Big Lots                                                        Cons of Shopping at Big Lots

Rewards program                                                                       Manufacturer’s coupons not accepted

Variety of items                                                                                                Limited Stock

Some Brand Names

 

Saving Money on Gas at Harris Teeter

Saving Money on Gas at Harris Teeter

***Disclaimer:  The opinions in this post are 100% my own and I have not been compensated to provide them.***

Gasoline is one of those unavoidable, non-negotiable expenses. Unfortunately, with gas prices controlled by the powers that be, lots of competition, and few savings programs, it can be difficult to save in this area of your budget.

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For the past several months, Harris Teeter has had a promotion going in which customers can buy $50 gas cards for $40, when they have earned credits by shopping at the store. To earn a gas card credit, you need to spend $50 or more on groceries in one transaction.  (I didn’t know what Harris Teeter was until I moved to North Carolina, so I’m sorry for those of you that cannot take advantage of this promotion. )

Here are a couple of things you should know:

  1. The gas cards are only for BP and Shell. If you are loyal to a certain gas company this may not be a great promotion for you. I will get my gas almost anywhere, provided I get a good deal, but I do have my preferences. The BP stations tend to be more convenient for me where I live, and I have had fewer problems with their cards than with the Shell cards, so I always go with BP.Lucky for me, there is a BP station near me that has kept their prices at less than $2.00 for unleaded, even as other stations in the area have gone back up. One of the other BPs I pass frequently was at $2.09 today, but I filled up for $1.98! Wahoo!
  2. The promotion is through Harris Teeter’s reward program, VIC. If you have a problem with your gas points showing up on your receipt, you will have to call the VIC customer service line to get it fixed. I have had to do this twice myself. One of the customer service reps at Harris Teeter has told me that sometimes the gas credits people have earned doesn’t show up on their receipts, and HT cannot issue a gas card without seeing the credit on the receipt. Bummer.  When I have called to get this fixed, the gas points appeared immediately after the call, and there was little fuss. It would be ideal for the system to work the way it’s supposed to, but a quick phone call is a small price to pay to save 20% on gas! I haven’t had any problems with VIC dropping my gas card points since the most recent call I made at the beginning of October.
  3. You must, must, MUST keep your gas card’s activation receipt. When you purchase the card, you will get 2 receipts: one to show that you paid for the card and one to show that the card was activated at the register.  Now I keep the gas card and the activation receipt in one of the random handy storage areas in my car’s dashboard. That way, when I go to fill up the gas card is handy, and if there’s a problem with the gas card the receipt is handy. I always keep the receipts until I have used the card in full, just in case.  If you have a problem with the card not working, and need to return it, you will have to prove to Harris Teeter that you purchased the card at one of their stores. I had a Shell card that wasn’t working and tried to take it to customer service to get the situation resolved, but I didn’t have the activation receipt with me.. The customer service rep wasn’t rude, but he basically said I might have stolen the card and there was nothing he could do without the activation receipt. I also had to go back to the original Harris Teeter where I purchased the gas card.

Now I keep the gas card and the activation receipt in one of the random handy storage areas in my car’s dashboard. That way, when I go to fill up the gas card is handy, and if there’s a problem with the gas card the receipt is handy.  I always keep the receipts until I have used the card in full, just in case.

 

imageToday, I filled my 2005 Toyota Corolla’s 12-gallon tank for only $21! I still have another $29 on the card, so if the prices stay close to where they are, I can get more that two fill-ups from this card.  I fill up about every week, so that’s $40 for more than two full tanks of gas!

Yes, I will continue to be buying these gas cards!  Thanks, Harris Teeter!

How do you save money on gasoline?

Saving Money While Living Life

Saving Money While Living Life

dollars-426026_1280Saturday was a great day, financially speaking.   I did my usual errands:  went to the gym, the grocery store, a consignment store, and a department store.   Between all my errands, I spent about $100, but saved $105!

How?  Well let me tell you so you can do the same!

1.  I bought $100 worth of food and drinks for $58 at the grocery store.

First of all, I used NO coupons in this transaction.  I just planned ahead. In the past I have dabbled in couponing, but that requires more time and effort than I wanted to spend on a Saturday afternoon, so I’m not going to get into that just now.  I stocked up on things that were on sale, mostly buy 1 get 1 free items.  You should also know I’m not a crazy stock-piler and I don’t have a room in my home devoted to food storage.  A lot of the things I bought (like beverages) are shelf-stable and will last awhile, although I try to get shorter-lasting items like produce on sale too.

This trip included a small bag of dog food in the clearance section for $3.65.  I have gotten to know the clearance areas well, and you’d be surprised at the stores that have them.  Harris Teeter was where I shopped, and I have found that in the HT stores near me there is a small area (usually a free-standing cart of some kind, sometimes a shopping cart) where there is discounted and discontinued merchandise.   Other stores with a little discount corner:  Big Lots, Food Lion, and the Christmas Tree Shops.  Occasionally there are discontinued items throughout the store as well that are marked down about 50%; I have seen these in Food Lion, Harris Teeter, and CVS.  Those are sneaky ones, but you wouldn’t find them if you weren’t looking at something similar so they end up being useful deals.  I can usually save about 50% per item in the little clearance area (usually I don’t bother for less than that).

Of course, I don’t buy items I won’t use.  I have been tempted by the clearance bug in the past, but have learned my lesson:  It’s not really “saving” money if you wouldn’t buy the product anyway.

Money saved: $42, or 42% off full price!

2.   I bought $50 worth of gasoline for $40.

Harris Teeter is running a promotion in which if you spend $50 or more in one transaction, you can buy a $50 gas card for $40.  Since gas is one of those items you always need and can’t really get “on sale”, this is a good deal.  The cards are only for Shell and BP, so this deal wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t have one (or both) of those stations near where I live, work, or play.  For me, a single $50 gas card covers two weeks’ worth of gasoline for my little Toyota Corolla!

Money saved: $10, or 20% off full price!

3.  I bought a $30 shirt for $4.00

I dropped off some of next season’s clothing at the consignment store in hopes that I will make a little money from some items I no longer need.  If I can, I prefer taking clothes to a consignment store over the Goodwill if they’re in good condition because I can get cash or store credit instead of a tax deduction.   But I do enjoy tax deductions, so I also take clothes that are a little more worn out or dated to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

As I was at the consignment store I perused the sale rack; 75% off their ticketed prices!  A summer top with the original tag on (which read $30) was marked down to $15 at the store price.  Seventy-five percent off meant a price tag of 3.75 and a 0.25 tax, equaling $4.  I wore the top the very next day and I am thrilled with the look and the cost!

Money saved: $26, or 86% off full price!

*Bonus:  I may actually get paid for that trip to the consignment store, depending on how much money I earn from the items I dropped off!

4.  I got a $25 necklace for less than $3.

My last stop before I headed home was to JCPenney.  This time I did have a coupon, for $10 off a minimum purchase of $10, which I had gotten in the mail. Free money!  I have gotten these kinds of coupons from JCPenney, Lane Bryant, and Kohls, and I think a few other department stores have similar programs if you shop there often.  In my experience, Kohls and JCPenney usually have pretty good clearance deals regardless of whether you have a coupon, but obviously it’s best if you can pair both together, which I did.

My first stop at JCPenney is almost always the jewelry section. (The costume jewelry, not the really fancy stuff.  My dog has a habit of eating shiny things if left within reach of his mouth, so I try not to spend too much money on jewelry–and shoes–for this reason. Also, I’m thrifty, but I’m guessing you’ve figured that out.)  It was tough to narrow down my choices, but eventually I left with a necklace marked down from $25 to $11.99 in (again) the clearance section.  The total with tax came to $2.12 after the $10 coupon, but I rounded up to a full $3.00 to donate 0.88 to a local after school program.

Money saved: $22, or 88% off full price!

5.  *Oh yeah, one other bonus:  I got paid to go to the gym.  I’m a fitness instructor!

As my boyfriend would say, not too shabby!

Saving money is not rocket science, but it does require that you pay attention to sales and deals, and are aware of what an item should typically cost.   I’m a pretty low maintenance girl, so I only get girly things like new clothes and jewelry if I can pay rock-bottom prices.  This amount of savings is pretty typical for me, but I don’t shop for these items often and this amount of savings doesn’t always happen all in one day like this.

In general, I never pay full price for anything if I can help it. I have all I really need of clothing, shoes, jewelry, and that kind of thing. And of course I need to eat everyday, but we live in a country that offers an abundance of food choices. Usually, you can wait to get something until it goes on sale if you plan ahead.

That all being said, there are a lot of programs and blogs that help with finding sales, coupons, and gift card and point programs. That is all great information that I may get into at another time. For today, I just wanted to share how, armed with a single coupon and a calculator on my smart phone, I was able to save nearly as much money as I spent in a single day.

I’d love to hear simple ways YOU save money!