Ring Me Up, Scotty…

Long Post
I want to break away from minimalism today because I have been writing quite a lot about it recently. I want to focus on saving money which leads to debt reduction. I have some tips I want to share with you on the subject, things I have learned over the last few weeks, and some things that other’s have taught me over the years. Why should you listen to my advice over the thousands of others who are experts on this topic? Well, the answer is you shouldn’t JUST listen to me. However, if you live in a small town with few services, and the closest Shopping Mecca is sixty miles away then I may be able to offer you unique advice.
#1 Shopping Clubs: Not always the best idea. I cannot tell you over the years how much stuff I have thrown out because it looked attractive to buy it in bulk. Then later, I do not use of all of it before the expiration date.
Here are the things I found to be a bargain at shopping clubs. Typically I do not drive the sixty miles unless I’m out of a good deal of things.
a. Bread (If you use the specialty kind)
b. Paper Towels(Only if you swear by the name brand)
c. Toilet Paper (same as above)
d. Ink cartridges
e. Flash Drives (Now called USBs)
f. Sometimes memory cards
g. Mini Moo’s
h. Computers (we have gotten some great deals here)
i. Socks (cost more, but last three times as long)
j. Tshirts, sweats, and some exercise clothing (lasts longer and could cost less)
k. Frozen Foods (some, check your brands and types)
l. Breakfast bars
m. Coffee (K-cups for sure)
n. Fruits and vegetables
By all means, if you are having a get-together or party, it’s worth the trip.
#2 Gasoline:
When I am at the shopping club I go ahead and fill up, it’s the cheapest gas I have found. Otherwise, because my car uses plus, I go to our local truck stop. The reason is, their plus is cheaper because they buy it in bulk. If you use regular call around and pay attention. Sometimes our gas stations have pricing wars and that is the best time to buy.
#3 Hotels:
If you need to stay in hotels frequently, use the same chain all the time. You collect points and earn free rooms that way. Some travel sites will let earn free rooms also if you book with them often. Note: If you book through the travel site you cannot collect rewards with the hotel chain itself.
#4 Grocery Stores:
Do not use coupons if you do not purchase an item normally or haven’t incorporated it into a menu. Most times the deal hits the garbage. Don’t run all over town going to different stores. Get the ads and shop with people who price match. Please, again same thing as coupons do not buy it just because it is on sale. If you have a lot of items that are on sale at one store, then yes, go ahead and go there. Make a menu, and make a list. You will save money at almost every store if you do this. I have a pantry full of things I’m having to use up now because I did not heed all the advice above. Learn from my mistakes, save money. Some grocery stores have manufacturers coupons that you can load onto an app, I look to see what I use all the time and then load the coupons. That way if I purchase the item before the coupon expires, it automatically comes off.
#5 Drug Stores
Do not overlook this little gem. Major drug stores have all kinds of coupons and promotions, along with their shopping cards. I have walked away with an item for less than half its price with very little prep work (less than two minutes.) Even we have a major drug store in our little town.
#6 Entertainment
SMALL town alert! Nothing to do! I have read so many sites on free things to do but almost none of them apply if you live in a small town. So here is my list of some free things and some money saving things.
Theatres: Ask for gift cards for presents. We have done this. Go during the matinee and sign up for the club. You get free discounts on snacks and free tickets after so many movies. Decide ahead of time what your vending budget is. Buy foods the group can share such as popcorn. The individual kiddie trays are expensive.
Home: Rent a movie from a service or kiosk, then you can make your own snacks. Get the kids involved if you have any. Come up with crazy popcorn recipes. Get an air popper, that way you can pop a lot of corn. One major store has movie style snacks for a dollar a box. Buy up a few, create a movie night.
Board Games: Love them! Find ones that appeal to all ages. Check out garage sales they normally have a plethora of them.
Speaking of Garage Sales: Stop by the donut store on the way, it’s the weekend, why not? Make a treasure map when routing out the sales. Give the kids a little budget. Let them pick out their own things. Make sure they use the one in, one out, rule though or you will end up with clutter. Same applies to you 😉
Parks: We have a spray park here, lots of fun if you have little ones. If you live in the south go right after the kids wake up. That way they won’t be cranky and it won’t be so hot.
Crazy pics: Get everyone together, take some crazy pics, then use phone apps to edit them and make stickers. Morph faces, add ears and noses. If you don’t have kids you can do this too 😉
Adults and Kids: Look for stuff you can make on Pinterest that is useful out of ordinary items. Try not to run to your local craft store (this is about saving money 🙂
Books: If you have kids near the same age, and share the same interest have them read the same book. Hold a little mini book club on it. Have them discuss what they learned. You and your significant other can do this also if you can find a topic to share.
Library: Take the kids to book readings and other events held there. Have a learn about your town day and have the kids write a little essay on where they live.
In the summer we have parks and recreation events that cost little or no money. Some schools offer free lunches.
Well that is about all I know. Feel free to leave comments on other small town things you have experience with.

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