Shopping trips

March 9, 2012: Thrifty finds

Today Rafe and I had to get out of the house, so I texted Rafe’s “girlfriend’s” mom and asked if they wanted to join us on a trip to the thrift store. They said yes! On my agenda:

  • A happy, springlike kitchen/bath hand towel
  • Baby clothes
  • A shirt for me
  • Check out scarves and bags

We came away with:

I wanted a towel just like this! It isn’t quite so neon as in this photo, though.

Little plaids for baby boy.

A little windbreaker/jacket for Rafe that doesn’t even look worn.

The most “expensive” purchase, American Apparel v-neck shirt for me.

All purchased for $10 plus tax. Not too bad! Unfortunately there weren’t any good bags or scarves.

We ended our trip with a treat (thanks, Kristin!) of iced chai lattes. It helped us get through Friday rush hour traffic on 66 with fussing babies.

Have a lovely weekend!

March 6, 2012: My first REI attic sale

This past Sunday I experienced my very first REI attic sale. I have various friends who have been going to these sales for years. Basically, an attic sale is REI’s scratch and dent sale. They sell used, returned or damaged goods at ridiculously low prices. I went there for two reasons:

1. I wanted a BOB Revolution stroller. I am a jogger/runner, and I have convinced myself that having a BOB would enable me to run with my son more often (I have a cheaper jogging stroller, but it has developed a pull to the right, so I can’t run with it for more than 3 miles before my knees start hurting due to my efforts in compensating for the pull). These strollers usually cost $420 new, and sometimes they are on craigslist for $250-$300…and have been used for 5+ years. At an attic sale, I have known people who paid $150 or less for these strollers in great condition.

2. I had heard often there are tons of shoes. I decided if I was unable to get my hands on a stroller, I would take a consolation prize of new running shoes.

At the REI store in Fairfax, Virginia, they let people into the sale in waves. They give out tickets at 8 a.m., and whatever number you get is the wave you get in to the sale. The sale starts at 10 a.m. From what I heard from my research online and conversations with my friends, you need to arrive there a few hours to stand in line before they hand out tickets. I got there at 5:30 a.m., and there were about 20-25 people already in front of me. There were tents, cots, sleeping bags, chairs…these people don’t mess around.

I checked out the people in line in front of me. Mostly they were young guys. Not the kind that would automatically scream “I’m here for a stroller.” So, I start feeling pretty optimistic. Right at 7 a.m. a cute pregnant girl walks up looking well-rested and chipper…her husband was directly in front of me in line.  We started small talk, and she volunteered the news I was afraid to hear: “We’re here for a BOB stroller!” I shared that I, in fact, was also hoping to get a stroller. “Let’s hope they have more than one!” I said optimistically.

8 a.m. rolled around and the tickets were handed out. The couple in front of me made wave 1. I was the first in wave 2. Once I got into the sale I found out there had only been one stroller. They got it, so I am happy for them, and they probably don’t have a stroller at all for their baby who is due next month. I actually have 2 strollers (one jogging [that has a pull so it can’t really be used] and one regular), so I can to wait. There’s always next time!

I checked, and there were no running shoes in my size, only hiking shoes. I dejectedly looked through the jackets when my hand touched a down Northface ski jacket. I needed a practical, super warm winter coat. I checked the size. My size! I checked the price…$31! I bought it. I thought I would have to wait until next year for it be cold enough to wear. But then yesterday, against all DC weather odds, it snowed a bit. So I got to wear my new jacket!

My first REI attic sale wasn’t a total loss. But Johnny might be the one to stay in line dark and early next time. He said he would. Now it’s in writing.

What a steal.

The back.

A spot for my iPhone and earbuds.

Goggle pocket.

I like the zippered cuffs to make it easy for gloves.

Even though it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, I was able to get something useful at an unbelievable price. Success!

January 25, 2012: A quick grocery trip

Of course, shopping with an 11-month-old (well, any child at that) is never truly quick, though some trips are more quick than others. I saw a few decent deals at Harris Teeter when I was perusing through the money saving and couponing blogs I frequent, and decided a shopping trip for a few items would be worth it. I was able to get the above items for $5.27 plus tax. Here’s what I got:

  • Whole roaster chicken (this was an unplanned buy, but the price was good): $2.88
  • Carnation evaporated milk: $0.49 each (2)
  • Ortega refried beans: $0.49 each (2)
  • Frank’s Red Hot sauce: $0.14
  • Halls cough drops: $0.14 and $0.15 each
  • Always Infiniti pads: FREE

Here’s the breakdown if you are interested:

The Carnation evaporated milk was on sale for $0.99 each (which is pretty standard at most other stores), but I had a $0.50/2 coupon (doubled to $1.00/2  [A great aspect of shopping at Harris Teeter is that they double any coupon under the value of $1.00]) which made it $0.49 each. Not a fantastic deal, but evaporated milk has saved me countless times when I was in the middle of a recipe and ran out of milk sooner than I thought I would. Therefore, if I can get a can for $0.50 or less, it’s a worthy purchase in my mind.

It was the same deal with the Ortega refried beans. They were each on sale for $0.99, and I used a $0.50/2 coupon (which doubled), thus making them $0.49 each.

Now comes the fun part. Frank’s Red Hot sauce was listed as a Buy One Get One Free deal. Another one of Harris Teeter’s redeeming qualities (other than doubling coupons up to $0.99 in value) is that their B1G1s ring up at half price, meaning if you only want one, you get to pay half price rather than being forced to get two of an item when you may only want one. If you have a coupon for that item, then you get to pay even less. This was the case with the hot sauce. Frank’s Red Hot sauce was on sale as a B1G1 for $3.29, making it $1.64 for one, and I had a $0.75 coupon which was doubled (-$1.50), making the final cost $0.14!

The Halls cough drops were on sale B1G1 for $2.29 ($1.14 each). I had a $0.50/2 coupon. Yet another good thing about Harris Teeter is that they have online VIC customer store coupons that are attached to your card. The catch here is that you have to go online to your account and you have to save the items to your card, but if you do that, you can have even more savings! So, if you have a store (VIC) coupon, you are able to stack it with a manufacture (MFR) coupon. So in this case, I had a VIC coupon for $1.00/2 saved to my card. That stacked with the MFR ($0.50/2 doubled to -$1.00/2) equaled $0.29 for both!

The Always Infiniti pads were on sale for $3.99, and I had a $2.00/1 coupon and stacked it with another $2.00/1 VIC coupon, which made them FREE!

I am certainly not a pro couponer, and definitely not one of those extreme ones you find on TV, but it is a practical way for me to meal plan, stay on budget and save money. Do I love it? No. If we made a million dollars a year would I still do it? Probably not. However, it is something I can do fairly easily (once I got past learning how it all works) and I have to admit I get a little thrill spending $5.27 instead of the $24.78 it would have cost me if I hadn’t shopped the sales and used coupons (granted, at any other store all this probably would have cost me $15-$20), but I saved at the very least $10 on items that I will use within a week or two. And that, I like very much.

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