Tuesday, February 28, 2012

KGUN9's Tucson Morning Blend: Cutting costs for Families with the click of a mouse

Grocery and gas prices are on the rise.  Stephanie Ashcraft, author of 21 cookbooks, and The Tucson Morning Blend have teamed up to share simple ways that families can cut cost for things that matter most.  The story will air on the 11 a.m. program on Wednesday.  

1.  Ways families can save money on food

 A.  How to save money on high quality meats
          Zycon Foods is a great way to save money on meat. They sell food products only by the case.  Right now you can order 93% Lean Ground Beef, All Beef Hot Dogs, and German Sausage for $2.99 per pound. 
Orders must be placed by Friday, March 09, 2012 for pickup on March 17th. Delivery drops in Oro Valley, Sahrita, and Tucson on March 17th.

Their ground beef comes in a 40-lb case with four 10-lb chubs per case (approximate weight--see note below)

• No chemicals, additives or water added to meat during processing

• Processed at a USDA-inspected, state-of-the-art plant employing strict operating protocols (including HACCP) and the highest in food-safety standards

• Prior to processing, inspectors from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service randomly sample cattle under a monitoring plan and perform testing for antibiotic residues

* USDA nutrition labeling standards defines "extra lean" and "lean" ground beef based on the lean/fat ratio. While not part of these guidelines, the term "super lean" is often used in the grocery sector to describe ground beef at the upper end of the "lean" category (i.e., "Zaycon Foods 93/7 Super Lean Ground Beef"). This ground beef product is 93% lean and 7% fat.


B.  How to save money on FRESH Produce
Bountiful Baskets is a great way to save on fresh Produce.  You get a small basket of fruits and another small basket of vegetables each time you choose to participate.  They also sell the best ORGANIC 9 Grain Bread that I've EVER had!

New to Bountiful Baskets? Here’s how to participate!

"Bountiful Baskets is a non-profit food co-op for families that want to have more fresh produce for less money. In order to participate, you must set up a free account on the website.  It is helpful to upgrade your web browser to the most current version, to ensure the website will function properly for you.
Contributions are accepted beginning Mondays at 10:00 a.m. for Utah, and 12:00 p.m. for all other states. Making a contribution is sometimes referred to as “ordering”, but this is not accurate. We call it contributing or participating, because Bountiful Baskets is not a business that you buy from, but rather a co-op where we all pool our money to buy things together.
To make your contribution, follow these steps:
  • Go to the website during the contribution time period. Some sites fill up quickly, so you may want to get on early for your first time.
  • Click “Get my produce basket” on the right hand side under where is says Current Offerings. There’s a picture of a vegetable basket where you click. If there is no “Get my produce basket” link, it means the website is not ready for contributions. If it is during the contribution window, it’s possible the website is having technical problems. Close your browser and try back in a few minutes.
  • Click on the basket for your state.
  • Enter your email and account password, then click “Submit”.
  • Choose your county from the drop-down menu. If your county is not showing in the list, it generally means that all sites in your county are full for the week. Try again earlier next week! (To make a selection in a drop-down menu, click on the little down arrow on the right-hand side of the little box. It will bring up all available options, and you can click on your desired selection.)
  • Choose your pick-up site from the next drop-down menu. Again, if your site is not showing in the list, it means it is full for the week.
  • Select the number of baskets you would like in the next drop-down menu. (up to 3 per participant)
  • On the “First Time Basket” menu, choose Yes if it is your first time participating. This $3.00 fee is only charged your first time. The money goes into a pool that is used to buy baskets for the volunteers to sort the produce into. You don’t bring those baskets home with you, they are left at the site to be used every week. So you will need to bring a container for carrying your produce home.
  • After that, there are several choices that you can select in addition to your produce basket if you desire.  You can also upgrade to 100% certified organic produce for an additional $10.00. In most areas, there are also add-ons such as bread, specialty packs, or cases of canning vegetables. If you would like one of those items, enter the number you would like in the box to the right of the description.
  • Before you click submit, read the message at the bottom of the page, and review your selections to be sure they are correct. Then click submit.
  • This brings up your “Cart” and gives you one more chance to review your selections before you finalize the transaction. Be sure you have selected the site you want and all the add-ons, as these things CAN NOT be changed once the transaction is finished. If you are sure everything is correct, click on “Check-out”.
  • This brings up the checkout page, where you will enter your name and payment information. Be sure to use the address that is associated with the credit or debit card you are using, or the transaction will fail. You must READ all of the bullet points and click the boxes next to them to indicate that you agree to the co-op policies.
  • Once you click submit, wait for the transaction to complete before clicking anything else. It may take a few minutes if the website is extremely busy. A confirmation page should appear when the transaction is complete, and an email will be sent to your account.
  • Print the email and bring it with you to the pick-up.
  • If the website gives you an error before you receive confirmation, log back into your account in a few minutes and check the “Contribution History” link on the right hand side before you submit another transaction. If the transaction shows in the history, then your contribution went through. If it is not there, you must re-submit your contribution, but you may have to wait a few minutes for the website to re-set before it will accept your transaction.
Contribution time closes on Tuesday night, but some sites fill up quickly. Each site has an allotted number of baskets that it can accommodate. In order for more baskets to be available in a particular area, volunteers must step up, be trained, and find a location where they can open a new site.
The contribution is $15.00 per basket. The organic upgrade is $10.00 for a total of $25.00. The amount for add-ons varies depending on the item. The first time basket fee is $3.00, and the processing fee is $1.50, which must be paid every time you contribute. Your entire contribution is spent on food, so the $1.50 is necessary to cover card processing, servers, and other expenses.
When you check out, you agree to be on time to pick-up your produce. Unless otherwise noted pick-ups are on Saturday morning. It is helpful to double-check the time on the website under “Locations” each Friday night to be sure there hasn’t been a last-minute change. You have a 20-minute window to pick up your produce. If you are late, or do not show up, your produce will be donated and will be unavailable to you.
You also agree to volunteer on occasion. This is a volunteer organization. We all chip in, no one gets paid, so all of our money goes to buying great food at great prices! If you are able bodied, we ask that you volunteer at least once every 6 to 8 times you participate.  If you can not, then don’t worry about it.
There are no refunds or exchanges, but if you don’t like it, there is no commitment to participate again. You have to contribute every week that you want a basket—they don’t just carry your contribution over. If you contribute for add-ons, you will have a chance to inspect those at the pick-up to make sure they are of good quality before you take them home. If they are spoiled or damaged, or if they do not arrive on the truck (these things occasionally happen), then the volunteer site coordinator will submit a credit request for you to be reviewed by Sally and Tanya, the co-op founders."- bountifulbaskets.org

C. How to know the best grocery deals in town.

Pinching Your Pennies is a free website that lists weekly deals with coupons. Click on the current list. I love that they give the deals STAR ratings. You know that 4 or 5 stars is a great deal.

If you live outside Arizona, click here to see the deals listed by other States!

Click here for information on organizing and couponing in Arizona. 

Want to Increase Your Couponing Savings even more?

If you are wanting to seriously coupon, there are websites that charge to see a more intense list of coupons matched with what is on sale. Couponsense is the most used here in Arizona. They have a more comprehensive list for the serious couponer. They teach you how to combine online loadable coupons with manufacturer coupons to get even better deals. Right now they have a promotion for those who want to try it. $4 for the first month and $15 each month after. You can cancel at any time.  

I think I save at least $15 extra each week using Couponsense than I did using Pinching Your Pennies.
I also saved so much time using Couponsense.  Before I was copying and pasting each individual deal I wanted to use from Pinching Your Pennies to make my list.  Then, I'd go by each deal and cut out the individual coupons.  Couponsense cut at least 2-3 hours off my couponing last week.  You click on the deals you want to use, it generates you a shopping list per store and a coupon cutting list that tells you that from this specific Sunday insert, you need these coupons for your deals.  I'm LOVING this.

If you choose to try Couponsense, use the promo code:  enjoy the savings

Select Referred by friend and enter Stephanie Ashcraft.  It should show Andrea VanHorn as your instructor.  She lives here in Arizona and is one of the top 10 couponers in their company.

Click here for more information on Couponing in Arizona.

2. Transportation is another area families are looking to save money.

A.  How to find the lowest gas prices where ever you are in the United States.  

Gasbuddy.com helps families track who has the lowest gas prices in their area.  We always use this site especially when we travel.  If you belong to Costco or Sams Club, you can save a lot on fuel as well.  The majority of the time they have the lowest prices on fuel in our area.

B.  How to save on Car Maintenance.
Groupon.com and livingsocial.com are daily deal sites that often offer deals on auto services from Car Washes to Oil Changes to Wheel Rotation.  Always make sure to read the fine print and to use them before they expire.

If you have a favorite automotive business, check their website for coupons or sign up for their coupon mailing list.  You can save that way as well.

3. How to save on Clothing and shoes.

A.  How to save shopping at Department Stores.
Sign up for customer loyalty cards for the stores you frequent the most and for their email or mailing list for great coupons to be delivered to your door.  JcPenney and Kohl's are my favorite stores for saving money through the programs they have available.

B.  How to save at Discount Stores.
Burlington Coat Factory and Ross Dress For Less are great places to find name brand clothing at a fraction of the cost.  Tuesday Morning, Real Deals, and Kirkland's Home are other great discount stores here in Tucson.

C.  How to save online.
Zulily has to be one of my favorite sites to find deals for girls, boys, mom, and home.  An example of savings available is: 

  • Red Floral Triangle Scarf
    original $36.00
  There are multiple deals available at all times with new things always being added.  The best deals go quickly.  I think you'll love Zulily.

Dream Star Infant Toddler Sets
Legging and skirt sets for infants & toddlers
UP TO 65% OFF »

Totsy is a site similar to Zulily.  Totsy is a fun and exciting private shopping site where members can find up to 85% off on products and services for the family!  Totsy holds exclusive sales events online everyday featuring the best brands for moms, moms-to-be and kids. Sales events last between 48 and 72 hours.  They have great deals on shoes.

Lucy Lew's Vinyl

$9 Personalized Name with Cute Bird Vinyl Decal

 I LOVE crafty type deals.  GroopDealz is another daily deal site that offers unique things for kids, women, and the home.  It has to be one of my favorite daily deal sites.

How does GroopDealz Work?

Here's how it works
D.  How to save money on shoes
I tend to find the best deals on shoes at BIG 5 Sporting Goods.  They have the best ads that I scour when my kids need basketball shoes, tennis shoes, or even dress shoes.  I often post the online shoe deals on mysavvysavings.com as I find them. 6pm.com  always has great clearance deals going on.

4. How to Save on Vacations
A.  Staycation deals
There are always great daily deals on Buddy's Deals,
Groupon.com and livingsocial.com .  We've purchased screaming deals on family memberships to the Desert Museum, International Wildlife Museum, and the zoo through these sites in the past along with deals for bowling, activities around town, and dining.

One of This Week's Tucson Groupon Deal:

Choose Between Two Options

$8 for an outing for two adults (a $16 value)
$25 for a one-year Garden Friend membership (a $50 value), which includes:

B.  How to save on hotels. 
Hotwire.com is a leading discount travel site that offers ridiculously low prices from some of the most highly respected travel brands. How? Hotwire has special relationships with major travel providers to help them fill airline seats, hotel rooms, and rental cars that would otherwise go unsold. Price conscious travelers everywhere rely on Hotwire for amazing deals you won't see on other travel sites -- last-minute, local, and weekend in destinations across the U.S, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and more.
Unlike other online discount travel sites, our posted price model means our customers find deep discounts without the hassles of bidding and guesswork.
What they offer
Airfares: Hotwire offers airline seats to travelers with no booking fees. Hotwire makes finding a great airfare deal less of a strain on consumers. The Hotwire Airfare Savings Hub takes the leg work out of the hunt for low prices by proactively offering alternatives for those travelers willing to be flexible with their plans to save even more money. During an air search, the tool looks at alternate dates and airports and recommendations will appear along with the lowest available price for that flight search.
Hotels: When hotels have unsold rooms, they use Hotwire to fill them. 4-star hotels at 2-star prices throughout North America and Europe, often at savings of up to 60%. That means Hotwire customers get the lowest prices, guaranteed. If you find a lower price for an identical booking, Hotwire will pay the difference between the rates.
Car rentals: Hotwire partners with top-quality brands such as Budget, Hertz and National to offer regular retail and deeply discounted car rentals with rates from $13.95 a day. When car rental companies have unrented cars on the lot, they use Hotwire to fill them, so consumers get great deals at ridiculously low prices. All cars have unlimited miles, and everything is prepaid, including all taxes with no hidden fees.
Vacation packages: Adventure-seekers can tailor the perfect travel packages to more than 150 destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Cruises: Hotwire enables travelers to find cruise deals worldwide on more than 17 different cruise lines. View and choose all details of your dream cruise, including port and destination cities, ship reviews, and 360-degree virtual tours.

C.  How to save on Disney vacations.
20 ways to save on your Disneyworld 2012 vacation 

D.  How to save on Legoland admission
Costco is offering a 3 month unlimited pass to Legoland/Sealife Aquarium for only $69.99.  You can purchase the deal at the warehouse or online at Costco.com