Category: personal finance

Spending Less – Compare Pricing Among Stores

Saving money needs a little dedication. Some ideas need more planning and work (like couponing) and some need a slight change in our shopping habit. As much as I love to save money (who doesn’t?), I also don’t like to invest lots of my time to save few dollars here and there.

Now all the stores have their products listed online on their website and also have their own apps for purchases. Even 1 lb of banana price can be found online and can be compared between stores. In this video, I gave a couple of examples of how I saved money online when I did back to school shopping last month.

Sometimes these cost difference would be more than few dollars that it’s worth comparing costs among stores.

I still use these labels and they are still holding well. Well worth the money I paid and I’m so glad I returned the super expensive labels I bought through Amazon.

RELATED:

How To Save Money In Grocery Shopping Without Printing Coupons

3 Websites To Make Extra Money

My Favorite 4 Cashback Websites For Online Shopping

9 Ways To Buy Organic Food on a Budget

save money on organic groceriesPlease tell me I’m not the only one who skips buying organic avocado just because it’s damn expensive. As much as I love to eat food clean of pesticides and chemicals, I don’t enjoy paying $6 for a pound of Strawberries. Until a few years ago, organic and clean eating were not really a thing. Only recently people started becoming aware of the importance and now almost everyone I know buys organic products. I’m one of those people who started buying organic only in the past few years.

One positive thing is, due to the mass consumption of organic groceries, we are able to find organic products in every single grocery store including Walmart. The more people buy it, the less expensive it becomes. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? At least we don’t have to make special trips to Whole Foods {moment of truth: I spend more time in Whole foods cafe than in the grocery store 😉 }.

8 years ago, my grocery budget was much less than my current grocery budget. With growing family and inclusion of organic groceries, our budget went up more than what I would like it to be. As I mentioned here, my grocery budget is $600 a month for 3 adults (including my visiting mom) and 2 kids. Once my mom goes back to India, I’m planning to reduce our budget to $500 a month and see if we can survive. Our budget includes produce, toiletries, household products, diaper etc.

Over the years, our grocery budget includes lot more organic products even though I do buy regular products in our diet. I follow the below ideas to eat organic food within the budget. These are easy-to-follow ideas that I use every single time.

Follow the Clean/Dirty Rule:

Do you know you don’t have to buy all Organic? Have you heard of Clean 15/Dirty 12 rule? I follow it almost to the T. I love that I don’t have to pay $7 and buy an Organic cantaloupe when I get the regular one for just $1.5.

EWG updates this list once a year and I share it on Facebook whenever there is an update.

Buy Frozen:

If we want to buy non-seasonal produce (eg. buying fresh berries in winter), we do need to pay a premium price. Because fresh berries are not available in all regions during winter. Instead, try buying frozen produce. They are much cheaper and equally, if not more, nutritious.

Gobble The Groceries:

Not kidding guys! Let’s use every damn thing we bought at the store. Even though I buy a variety of fruits and veggies at the store, my eating habit was more towards the fruits/veggies I like. The rest would sit in the fridge for days until it’s ready to go to the trash. Now I push myself to eat everything until I buy a new set of fruits and veggies.

My rule is to empty the fridge before I go shopping every single time.

Use Coupons:

You’ll probably find more coupons for junk food. But do you know you can find coupons for Organic products as well? Check grocery store apps, brand websites etc to find coupons for Organic products. If you’re buying something repeatedly, it’s better you find coupon for that product to save money consistently.

If you don’t find coupon for your favorite product, write an email to the brand about how much you love their product and request coupons.

Farmers Market:

Personally, I don’t think Farmers Market is cheap. It’s equally, if not more, expensive than a regular grocery store. However, there is a trick to save when shopping at Farmers Market. Make sure you shop at the end of the hour before they close. Vendors are ready to sell you excessive produce before they leave home. For example, I got a 2 big bunches of Basil for $1 once. She asked me to keep it for free. I didn’t want to take it free, so decided to give her a dollar instead. At the end, both of us were happy. I consider that a good deal.

how to save money on organic products

Mix Your Purchases:

Not all organic products are expensive. For example, you can buy 5 pounds of organic pear for the price of 1 pound of organic Strawberry (check out the picture above). So, don’t just buy one type of expensive organic produce every time. Mix up your purchases to save money.

Buy from Regular Grocery Store:

Stay away from specialty stores such as Whole Foods for organic groceries. Do you know some dollar stores carry organic groceries? My personal favorite is ALDI. If you have one nearby, do check it out. You’ll be surprised to see some wonderful finds in there.

Grow Your Own Food:

Plant your own vegetable garden if you have space to do it. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing where our food comes from. Back when we lived in Austin, I had many more plants than now. I loved going to the backyard to pick up some fresh mint.

Buy Online:

The two websites I use for online grocery purchases are Luckyvitamin and Amazon. For a lot f items Lucky vitamin is much cheaper than Amazon. I wait till they have a sale and coupons before I make my purchases.

Do you guys follow any other ideas besides the above to save money on organic grocery shopping? I’d love to know.

Our June 2017 Family Finance Overview

Can you believe we are already past 1/2 of the year? My little one turned 6 months old and I feel like all these happened in a blink of an eye 🙂

With 2 kids and move to a new place, our expenses went up quite a bit lately. We didn’t buy a lot of baby items for Meera as we used Jeev’s stuff for her. We are also slowly getting rid of stuff as she outgrows them (hello, bouncer!). One thing I realized is, babies don’t need a lot of stuff. They only need few clothes and food. My kids play with empty boxes more than they play with expensive, educated (we think) toys that we buy them.

My husband and I have monthly financial meetings at the end of the month to go over our spending pattern and changes we need to make. I thought I can share our monthly family finance wins and fails over here for you all. I hope you find them useful.

WINS:

Niagara Roadtrips Instead of Flying:

It’s definitely one of the financial wins for this month. Hubby was not sure how the road trip would turn out to be with a toddler and a baby. We live 6 hours away from Niagara. When I checked, the airline tickets were quite expensive and it didn’t make sense to fly when we can drive with a little bit of planning. We spread the trip over 4 days (it would have been just a day trip if we flew) and let me tell you, it was one of the best trips we had with kids.

The whole stretch from NJ to Niagara Falls is full of trees and so gorgeous. It’s one of the reasons we never felt tired of driving. We stopped at random spots and explored the local area.

Eating Out on Vacation:

If you are following this Facebook or Instagram, page, you know we traveled quite a bit in June. Subway and McDonalds are our stable restaurants especially when traveling. We love the variety of options Subway provides and we get coffee and snack from McDonald’s (McDonald’s does have some healthy options in their menu).

For dinners, we carried Instantpot thinking that we would cook dinner at least for Jeev. However, every night we reached hotel room only around 10 PM and eating out was the easy option. For restaurants, even before starting the trip, I bought discounted gift cards for Subway and McDonald’s from Raise (I use these discounted gift card selling websites quite a lot for my purchases). 

Food Budget:

We ate out only a few times in June and surprisingly we didn’t miss it at all. More than saving money, health is the primary reason we are limiting outside food. Instead, I am making whole wheat pizza and other splurge foods at home when we crave for junk food.

Fails:

Light Fixture:

One of us broke the light fixer in the house and we had to buy a replacement for a whopping $80. Even though I cringe when I think about the $$ wasted, it was an accident and was no one’s fault.

Marshalls Trips:

I love Marshalls and I buy a lot of items from TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I made way too many trips to Marshalls in June that my shopping $$ were quite high. If only I remember what we bought there.

I bought a toy for a friend’s kid birthday and even though I hid it from Jeev, somehow this little guy found out and opened it the next minute he saw the toy. Well, it’s the mom’s mistake to have kept it in the house (I should have left it in the car itself). I had to make another trip to Marshalls to buy another toy for the birthday kid.

Emergency Visit:

As I mentioned in my last Life Lately post, we had visits to ER a number of times in the last few months. At the end of each trip, I felt like I overreacted (glad it was nothing scary). In June, it was my turn to visit ER and it’s a huge part of our total expenses. Hoping for less surpricing spends in July.

Disclosure: I get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use my links, but I’m very grateful when you do. 

Gifting Options to Family in India + $100 Giveaway

Gifting options to family in IndiaAs someone who is living outside of India, I miss the celebrations and special occasions in the family back home. Worst of all, they get used to us being away from them. For them, the first few years are hard. After that, they’re used to our online presence and don’t miss us like before. No matter whether it’s our own parents or distant relative we love, it’s important to keep the bond strong. It’s important to remember and wish on their special occasions.

Gifting Family in India:

People who are close to us, don’t expect gifts or anything from us. But, we know they will be very happy if we gift them something that they love. When the years pass by, I no longer know my family members wants and needs. For example, as long as I remember, my mom never wore makeup. She didn’t like to wear any big jewelry or anything, nor did she like to wear heavy silk sarees. So I assumed that my mom doesn’t like makeup and not much into grooming. She recently visited us a few months back. Even though it’s her 3rd visit here, only recently I got to know that she likes makeup. Well, now it’s my turn to find suitable products for her and help her learn to apply makeup.

Gifting Fail:

Finding and deciding suitable gifts for the family members is the most painful part of India trip planning. I remember buying vegetable peelers and handbags in bulk before one of our India trips. 😉

For birthday and other special occasions, our standard gift so far has been either booking movie or ordering cake. It’s so predictable that it’s no longer a surprise for our family in India. I remember buying something from Amazon for my nephew’s birthday hoping that he would like it.  We gift everything we thought they will like it, but in reality, they might not want to watch that movie we booked or play with that toy that we gifted.

In our defense, we have very limited options to gift from here. Recently, I came across Oxigen’s digital gift services and I ordered Levi’s gift card for my brother through them. The gift card was delivered to his email directly (I got a copy of that email as well. Sweet!).

My Brother’s Experience:

  • He searched the nearby Levi’s store from the list of exclusive stores where the gift card will be acceptable
  • He went to one of the stores from the list and checked in the billing counter whether they will accept the gift card
  • He selected a shirt and bought it using the gift card

I was not completely sure of using gift cards in an Indian retal store. I was so happy that he was able to use it without any issues. Maybe I should visit India often.

Some of the highlights of Oxigen’s digital gifts are,

  • They are great as last-minute gifts when you’ve almost forgotten an occasion.
  • It works when you don’t want to or can’t make a decision on what exactly to gift a loved one,
  • It also provide flexibility when specific preferences come into play (clothes size, material, color, etc.)
  • They offer a variety of gift cards for buying both physical as well as experience gifts. For example, they have gift cards even for restaurants, movie theater, spa, travel etc

Now that we are only a few days away from Father’s day, a gift card to your Dad in India might a good option. I’m sure he would be delighted to try Italian cuisine Spaghetti Kitchen or watch a movie through BookMyShow.

Note: 

  • Even though Oxigen’s online gift cards are instantly delivered to your email, the first transaction takes 2 days to complete. I ordered their gift card on Friday and both my brother and I received the email with gift card information only on Sunday.
  • When you receive the gift card over email, it also contains the list of stores where you can use the gift card. Make sure you use in one of those stores.
  • Certain gift cards, like Cleartrip, Makemytrip and BookMyShow can be redeemed online. It differs for each gift card/type of gift
  • For any issues: the email that goes out to the recipients of the gifts has a link to FAQs and the option to contact the specific retailer for the gift card

Finally, THE GIVEAWAY:

Before going to the giveaway, I wanted to clarify that I spent my own money to try Oxigen’s digital service and even though they are sponsoring the giveaway, all the opinions are my own. I value my readers and I would not recommend anything to you that I would not use/try.

Oxigen is giving away $50 gift card for 2 of my readers. Yay! All you need to do is share this blog post on your social media page with a hashtag #OxigenUSA. You can find a variety of social media share buttons available at the bottom of this post. Choose the one that you prefer and share it to the world with the hashtag #OxigenUSA.

The giveaway ends on June 28, 2017. I will randomly select 2 winners who shared this post on social media (it can be either on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter). Both of you will get $50 gift card that you can choose from Oxigen digital service options. Shower your family in India with gifts using the gift card.

Have you used Oxigen’s services before? What do you think of them? If not, share away this post for a  chance to win $50 gift card of your choice from their options.

If you have any questions, reach me at centsibleindian@gmail.com or leave a comment in this post.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas For Clueless Moms

Father's Day Gift Ideas For Clueless MomsFather’s day is around the corner and if any of you are looking for ideas to celebrate the special day here are some ideas for us, clueless moms 🙂

Do-It-Yourself Gifts:

If the kid is over 2 years old, it’s possible to make a DIY gift for the Daddy. Pinterest has a ton of ideas on DIYs and it’s my go-to place for any DIY project. I came across the below Finger Paint Canvas and I am totally in love with it.

(image credit)

Since Jeev is already 3 and Meera can sit and grab stuff, this DIY canvas is possible to make for this Father’s day although I’m afraid of the mess it would create when we make it. It’s relatively easy to make, yet quite a nice gift that the Daddy would love to receive.

Note: Hubby never visits my blog or the social media unless I sit with him and show him the blog. So there is no way he would know this gift idea. If you know our family outside of this blog, keep this as a secret. Will ya? 😃

Experience Gift:

experience gift for father's day

If your spouse is not much interested in physical gifts, experience gift can be an option. Who doesn’t love a ticket to their favorite game or show?

Experience gifts can be something like, massaging session at a spa, offroad biking, ticket to an event that he wants to go etc. My husband prefers experience gift and every time I bought one for him, it was a success.

We try to avoid clutter in our home. If I didn’t use a non-seasonal item for over 6 months, it goes out of the house. I just got rid of a Clarisonic Mia because I used it only a few times and personally didn’t like it even though I bought it after so much research. I’d rather experience something awesome as a gift than buying something that I might or might not use. My husband has a similar approach and this idea works for us every time without fail. However, this time I am going to try the DIY canvas idea because we are anyway looking to decorate the house and this would be a great addition.

If you don’t know where to start, Groupon can be a good option. Try your local city mom blogs that share upcoming events in the city. Ask for a good spa recommendation to your friends or in your community Facebook page.

Material Gifts:

Now we are talking about typical gifts. Here are some material gift ideas if you’re looking for one: drones, underwater camera, GoPro, bluetooth headphone, Amazon echo, wearables such as fitbit, Apple watch, electric razor etc.

What to do if you don’t know what your spouse exactly wants? If he wants a camera, do you know the exact model he wants? Personally, even if my husband said something about a product he is interested in, I still wouldn’t know the exact model and obviously, I don’t want to ask him.

If you’re not sure what your spouse wants, write the product name in a note and present to him with a greeting card. You can take him to the shop even on the same day and buy the exact model he wants. It’s a win-win because you gave something your husband wants and your husband is happy to get the product model he is interested. This note is a ticket to buy the item whenever he wants.

If you’re buying online, don’t forget to shop through cashback websites for some nice payout.

Family Gifts:

This is yet another favorite gift category for my spouse. He is always on the look out for some fun games to play with my son. Buying something your spouse likes, yet adding fun to the family is the best of both the worlds.

Some of the gift ideas are lawn games, jogger, bike trailer, backpack to carry the child on hikes, kite etc.

Picture Gift:

One idea when it comes to picture gift is to collect all the pictures of your hubby and kid(s) (just them in the picture) and create a photo book. I’m sure your hubby would love to go through this photo book more than ones and it will be his forever treasure.

Create Your Own Gift:

Does it sound fun? 😀 Create your own gift for the Daddy. Offer him personal care such as pedicure, massage or even cut the lawn once for him (if you know how to do it). He will love the little pampering by his special someone. If you can include your kid(s) in the process, it would be more fun.

We have this Conair pedicure at home and my husband enjoys a relaxing foot massage once in a while. I pamper my guy with a nice pedicure using some wonderful feet/hand creams I use. So far he never complained. Guess, its a success? 😉

Do you gift any other fun gifts to your loved ones? Would love to know as well.