Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Deals

Today I went a bit out of my way to purchase something to save $2.50. In hind sight, it was not a good deal. I had to drive 8.8km there and back, which results in a cost of $0.88 to the project. Subtract this off the $2.50 savings and you get $1.62. Since the project only gets 1/2 of the profits from saving, this is a $0.81 cent gain, which is JUST what I need to make it qualify. This is fine, except we unexpectedly ended up in the area later at night to go to a restaurant, so if I had just waited a few hours I could have tacked on the $0.90 I wasted driving there the first time. Oh well, I guess you can't win them all. I also bought some Gatoraid for $3.99 (Reg $6.49), Apple Juice for $0.70 (On sale at Loblaws for $1.25 on what they apparently call a 'blowout'), and some shampoo for $1.99 (Reg $3.72). Calculating it all out, gives the project another $6.12 for a total of $158.65. I also calculated that otherwise, I've gone 4km out of my way, which translates to a 20c cost to the project. Only a buck sixty five to go!

More grocery savings

I bought some Gatoraid for $3.99 and priced it at $6.49 at my usual grocery store. I guess they don't consider it food because it is surprisingly taxed, which is bad for the real me and good for the double project (because I saved even more). I also bought some mayonaise for $2.97, which I priced at $4.79. This all comes to a gain of $2.32 for the project. I am creeping up to the finish. I wish there was something I could just buy and get it over with, but there weren't too many good deals this week. I guess I am starting to be stocked up with all the non-perishables we use so this method may slow down soon. Only $7.47 to go and then I am done level 15!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bought shoes, shoes and more shoes

My wife and I needed new shoes. She needed new jogging shoes and I needed both joggers and cross trainers. Usually I would just go out and buy shoes when I need them, but this time I watched for sales. I usually buy my shoes at the running room, but this sale took me over to Sports Experts. I found cross trainers on sale for 59.99 (reg 99.99). I also found a nice pair of joggers that were usually 179.99, but were on sale for $119.99. My wife found a pair for the same deal. This was starting to look like a total savings of $160, $80 of which would be for the double project. Wow! Then I remembered that I would normally have bought them at the running room, so I headed over there to check out the prices. They ranged from $129.99 to $169.99. It is impossible to figure out exactly which pair I would have chosen so I decided I would be as conservative as possible and price them at $129.99. I really want to make sure this project doesn't affect my finances negatively, so this ensures it. So that is a $10 savings from both sets of jogging shoes. The running room doesn't have cross trainers so I decided to let the $40 savings stand on the other ones. $59.99 for Adidas cross trainers is a really good deal. So that totals $67.80 (including tax) in savings, $33.90 of which go to the double project. I also purchased something else on sale, which netted me $3.57 for the project. I am over the $150 mark and almost done this level! Time to browse the fliers!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quick update

Quick update today. I bought three more things that gained $1.32, $1.78 and $3.67 for the project today. Found many things that were $1.50 off, which is too low since I need $0.80 after halfing it. So I am up $6.77 for a total of $112.74 today.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Bought something for myself

I had 4.77 burning a hole in my pocket (overshoots from previous levels). I decided to spend $2.25 on some 'wallet windows'. This is what people usually put pictures in, but being the crazy lunatic that I am, I plan to put coupons in them. That way I can flip through them at the store without having to fumble around with them. That still leaves me with $2.22 to buy things with. I'm a rich man!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gave to the Food Bank

I had $4.77 ear marked for charity so today I walked down to the grocery store and purchased 5 cans of vegetables (corn, beans, carrots, peas, etc.) for $0.89 each and placed them in the bin for the local food bank. It felt really great to know that because of the work I have been putting into my project, some families are going to have an extra can of vegetables some night when they would otherwise have gone without. I also dropped two coins into the 'blind dog' piggy bank to round out the $4.77.


Car savings

I made two more purchases today.

1) Motor Oil. My car is not the best. I have to add a quart between oil changes as it seems to burn or leak it all before 5000Km. I have always just purchased an extra quart from the local gas station. I knew I was paying more, but I did not know how much more. I priced it at $5.49 where I usually buy it and then I went to Canadian Tire and found some on sale for $2.49 a quart. It was such a good savings that I decided to buy 8. With the reduction in taxes saved and splitting the savings between the real me and the project, this netted a cool $13.56 for the project.

2) When I priced the motor oil, I decided to also price the windshield washer fluid, which was $4.99. I usually buy it at the gas station as well. I found some summer stuff for $1 at Canadian Tire so I purchased two (only two because I can't use it when the winter comes or it will freeze. You have to buy the -40C stuff then. That netted me $4.51 for the project.

So with just two purchases, the project is $18.07 richer for a total of $105.97.


Monday, May 10, 2010

I kept going with the grocery strategy today. Of course, each purchase only gets me half as close as it would have at the last level, but there are many purchases I can make that are above the 80c (1%) minimum. Today it was:

More batteries - but AA size this time. Shoppers Drug Mart had a 16 AA Duracel Pack for $7.77. I used the same base price as last time for the 12 pack because I have noticed that the 16AA pack is always the same price as the 12 AAA pack. Including tax and dividing by two for the projects percentage results in a $4.07 gain.

Kraft Dinner. Shoppers had a special $7.99 for a 12 pack. I know we will eat it so it qualifies. $4.07 gain for the project

Campbells Soup - Shoppers has these on for 59 cents, which is quite low. Loblaws has these as a base price for $1.20. I bought 6 for a gain of $1.83 for the project.

So all in all today, it was a gain of $7.90, which is close to 10%. Not bad for day 1.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Completed Level 14!

There were two good sales today for things we would have bought anyways. The first was a specific cream that my wife always buys. It was $3.40 at my regular grocery store, but was on sale for $2.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart (plus saved tax). The other purchase was a gold mine and was worth 50% of the entire step. There is a product we use that usually costs $10.50. Another brand of it was on sale for $4.99, which is unbelievable considering I have never seen this product go on sale for more than a few dollars. I purchased 6 of them, which saved $40.68, half of which goes to the project.

In the end, the project total for the step tallied up to be $84.79. I decided to charge $2.00 for gas since I did do some driving around to the different stores, but forgot to keep track. Since the project is only benefiting with 50% of the profit (can you call it profit when you are just spending less?), I figure it should only be charged half the gas cost, so I will subtract $1 for gas, which leaves the $80 to complete the step and another $3.79 to split between myself and charity.

Looking ahead to strategy for the next level, the minimum transaction gain is now 80 cents. 11 out of 13 of my transactions from this past level would have qualified, so it seems reasonable to continue with the same strategy. Eventually the effectiveness of this strategy will run out, but for now I will keep running with it.


Friday, May 7, 2010

I have been shopping up a storm, trying to find more items that are cheaper than where I usually buy them. Here is what I have found so far:

Chef Boy RD - Regular Price $1.79, purchased 10 for $1 each.
Ragu - Regular Price $1.89, purchased 2 for $0.99 each.
Deodorant - Regular Price $2.99, purchased 3 for $2 each.
Nutrigrain - Regular Price $10.5 for 32, purchased 40 for $10.
Orajel - Regular Price $4.59, purchased for $3.49.
Laundry Detergent - Reg Price $24.97, purchased for $22.95.
Cough Drops - Reg Price $1.39, purchased for $1.19

I also found some work pants for $9.99+tax, which I thought was a great price. I usually would have bought them from Zellers so I checked out what prices they had for work pants. They had a special on for $19.97+Tax.

My favorite purchase was some honey. My wife likes a particular brand, mostly because it has a pointy spout that does not drip. The trouble is, it is very hard to find the 1L version - they only seem to sell a 335ml version that is very expensive at $4.99. I did have an old empty bottle, so I cleaned it up, bought a different 1L bottle for $8.99 and poured it in. Saved almost 6 bucks on that one.

So, without going through all the excruciatingly boring math, it turns out that I saved an additional $38.21, which means an extra $19.10 for the project. - almost 50% of the goal in this one post!

A New Rule - Minimum Gain

I have decided to add a new rule:

- Any transaction that would result (or would be expected to result) in less than a 1% gain for the double project is deemed to be too insignificant and thus not a valid transaction for the project.

This will hopefully keep me from wasting time on the smaller deals. For example - at my current level, walking around looking for beer bottles would be a waste of time since each bottle would be a 0.25% gain toward the project, which means I would need to do this type of transaction 400 times before I completed the step. Way too low of a gain for my time. So that means anything that would expect less than a 40c gain is deemed small potatoes and not valid for the project. This will also allow my real life to take advantage of some of the techniques developed by the double project. For example, eventually grocery fliers and coupons will become too insignificant, which means I can fully take advantage of my new habit in my real life, hence allowing the double project to have an even better positive impact on my life!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

I have decided that to be even more conservative and to make doubly sure (pardon the pun) that my personal finances are not affected, I will be splitting savings 50-50 between this project and my real life.

So much is happening so fast that I can barely find time to post it all. I have been doing more shopping and more saving! It is somewhat ironic that in order to make money for the project, I need to spend more money. I am really trying to only purchase what I would have purchased anyways at a better rate. Here is what I found yesterday.

Batteries - I purchased one more pack of the $8.99 AAA 12 pack batteries since they are good until 2016. I am sure we will use them by then. So that is another $6 in savings, plus $0.78 I did not have to pay in tax.

Peanut Butter - Shoppers Drug Mart has a special on peanut butter - 1KG for $2.50, just as ours is about to expire. We had a 2KG jar, but i estimate that we only used 3 quarters of it. My usual grocery store had the 1KG for $5.40 and the 2KG for $6.25. If I were to purchase the 2KG then I will assume I would only finish 3 quarters again, which means I am really buying 1.5KG for $6.25, which translates to $4.16 per KG as my base. This is a savings of $1.66.

Doing the math for the project - ($6.78+$1.66)/2=$4.22 for the project. There is already much more, but I do not have time to post it right now - gotta go to some more deals!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Completed Level 13!

I have been waiting all weekend for Monday to come. There were two items I wanted to buy.

1) Deodorant - My wife always buys this specific one. It was $3.49 at my usual grocery store, but it was on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart for $1.99. Interestingly, the normal Shoppers Drug Mart price was $4.69, so you would normally save money not shopping there. Not today as they were having a 2 day sale on it. This saves me exactly $1.50 per deodorant stick. I bought four, figuring we will be able to use that within the year, which came out to $6 in savings.

2) AAA Batteries. We go through these things like they are going out of style. This was a 12 pack for only $8.99. My usual grocery stores do not carry 12 packs, so it was difficult to price this. They had 4 packs for the same price, but I did not think I would ever buy a four pack as I have purchased 12 packs before. I ended up calling around to different stores and found that WallMart had them on for $14.99 as a regular price. I think Wall Mart is where I purchased my last 12 pack, so I think I can use this as a base price. That saves me $6 per pack. I bought two packs since the expiry is for 2016 so that totals another $12 in savings.

I also saved $2.34 in taxes that I would have paid, but did not, which brings me to $20.34.

75% of $20.34 is $15.25. Adding this to my $30.49 puts the project at 45.74, completing the doubling step with an overshoot of $5.74. $2.87 goes to charity and $2.87 goes to something I can buy for myself (add this to the penny from last double and I have $2.88 for myself). Now I finally have some cash to buy something worthwhile. Strategy for step 14 is simple - more grocery fliers and coupons!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Always Read the Entire Coupon

I went to the grocery store yesterday and found a coupon for $10 off a huge box of baby wipes. Since we buy baby wipes anyways and they won't go bad, this is fair game for the project. I excitedly headed for the baby aisle, grabbed the box of wipes and headed to the cashier. The lady in front of me looked very tired and had a newborn baby in a snuggly. I noticed that she had lots of groceries and one of them was the same box of wipes I was buying. I felt a bit bad that I was going to save $10, but she wasn't so I told her about the coupon and offered to run to the front of the store to get it for her while she packed up her stuff. I quickly ran there and back. The cashier tried to ring in the coupon, but since she'd already completed ringing in the groceries, she had to call a manager in to do an override. The manager came, typed in the override code and the cashier input the coupon into the system. Then the manager looked at the coupon and advised me that I was wrong and I had to buy a box of wipes AND diapers for the $10 off. The lady in front of me didn't have any diapers so she ended up having to go to customer service to straighten everything out. Oh man... she was very nice about it, but you could tell that she was annoyed that I had delayed her. I don't blame her since she clearly was sleep deprived and here I am adding 20 minutes to her grocery visit. My intentions were good, but sometimes things don't work out how you think they will. I ended up not buying the wipes because I thought we could probably find a better deal since they were no longer on sale. The worst part is I went 2 km out of my way so I lose 20 cents from the whole ordeal. Lesson Learned - Always read the entire coupon!

Oh well, I made it back at night as some friends dropped by and left some empty beer cans. Since it was the doubling project that brought to my attention you can return them (I thought you could only return glass ones) I can add $0.45 to my stake. Also, I bought mustard today with a 30 cent coupon, 22 cents of which I can use for the project. So $0.45+$0.22-$0.10=$0.57 more for the project.

Slight tweak in the rules

After going for a run, I realised that the current plan would have my 'real life' buying groceries at full price every time I found a deal. There do seem to be lots of specials in the grocery store, so this is not realistic. I'll completely guess that there is a 25% chance that something I am buying would have been a deal anyways so I only get to declare 75% of any savings toward the double project. So the $14.50 turns into $10.87. I also forgot I charged myself a dollar of gas for going out of my way for the $10 coupon, so this becomes $9.87. I also found 5 pennies last week, so that's back up to $9.92.

Grocery Deal/Coupons - A Complete Change of Strategy

I was at the grocery store yesterday and I found a coupon on the front bulletin board for $10 off something I was going to buy anyways! The only reason I looked for coupons is because the double project(I have only once ever pulled a coupon off that wall). I figure it is fair game since I wouldn't normally have done that and was only doing it for the double project. That got me to thinking - I wonder what kind of other grocery deals I could find. When I got home, I pulled out our weekly fliers, which I never (and I mean NEVER) look at. I found a jar of Ragu that was on at Zellers for $0.99 and thought sounds like a good price. Ragu is something that we definitely will eat eventually so I figured that it would be fair game. The next day I went to the grocery store that I always go to and sure enough, that same jar of Ragu was $1.89. The Ragu next door at Zellers (literally next door - they share a building) was almost half price. I went next door and found the Ragu for $0.99! I bought 4 cans, which saved me $3.20 in Ragu to what I would normally pay, which I am putting towards this project.
Now in the past I have mostly shied away from the thought of coupons and fliers for the following reasons:
1) What if I end up eating MORE Ragu than I would normally have - remember, one of the major goals of the project is that it does not affect my real life finances. If I end up eating more Ragu then that could potentially affect my finances, especially if the thing I am getting a 'deal' on is on the more expensive side of things. For example - I use Breathe Right Strips and I am currently out. If I buy them at a good deal then it looks like I saved money. But what if I was so lazy that I took a month to buy breathe right strips? Since you get 30 in a pack, I would normally have paid $0 for that month for them (because I wouldn't have bought them at all), but instead would have paid the supposed 'good deal' price, thus affecting my personal finances in a negative way.
2) What if I would have got a good deal anyways. I wasn't planning on buying Ragu yesterday, so it is entirely possible that when I finally did buy it, the Ragu would have been on sale anyways. Say I would have normally bought it in 4 weeks time, but my usual grocery store has them on sale exactly then for $0.99. In that case, I would have declared a $3.20 saving to put on the double project, but ultimately I would have paid the same price so really didn't save anything. Giving my project the $3.20 would then in fact be taking it from the 'real' me. Something I DO NOT WANT TO DO. I have no idea when I would have bought Ragu and what the price will be then so how can I possibly know exactly how much I really did save.

You can see that this is already becoming complicated, which is why I have shied away from it in the past. But if you look at the big picture this has caused me to never look at the fliers and coupons and to miss out saving on a lot of money. Surely, by allowing the flier and coupon habit to develop, this would be better in the long run. Eventually my double project will be high enough that savings from the grocery store will be insignificant, but the real life me will benefit from this habit for the rest of my life. With this argument, it is worth going ahead with the grocery saving strategy despite the concerns listed above. If I really give too much to my double project by accident, but in the long run my real life finances are positively affected, then you could consider this 'extra money' just a fee for the services of providing the motivation to develop good money saving habits for my real life.

So, now that I have convinced myself that this grocery strategy is fair game, I need to establish some ground rules.

Grocery Savings Rules
1) My baseline price will be the price I would pay in my usual 2 grocery stores. That means most of my savings for the project will be when I go out of my way to a store I wouldn't normally go to in order to save the extra $$$.
2) I can only declare saved money for the double project if it was something I definitely would have bought anyways. It's no good to save money on something you wouldn't have normally bought. You're just paying more overall in that case.
3) I can only declare saved money for the double project if there is nothing cheaper in the store. For example, if a 500mL ketchup bottle is $2 and I have a flyer that says it's $1 .50 at the store down the road, then it looks like savings for the project. BUT if there's a 1L bottle of ketchup beside it that only costs $2.50 then the $1.50 bottle does not qualify because it still costs more per mL than the 1L bottle. See how complicated this is going to get?

I will do my best not to 'cheat' and in the real me is going to save a bundle in the long run. I've already saved $13.20 in just the first day! Actually, I saved $14.50 because I didn't have to pay tax on the $10 I would have (The Ragu isn't taxed though because it's food). You can see how wonderful a method this is going to be. I'm almost 75% done this level in one day! And the best part is that you aren't taxed for buying something at a cheaper price, so ANYTHING I save is mine and nothing goes to the tax man! I don't see why I need to go to garage sales at all!