Category Archives: Budget

Aldi

Adventures in Aldi: Frugal Healthy Grocery Shopping

A new Aldi just opened 3 miles from my home. If you’re unfamiliar with Aldi it’s a discount supermarket that sells primarily generic groceries at prices lower than the average supermarket. They keep their costs low by very little advertising, locking up their carts to prevent theft and not providing free grocery bags.

My first experience with Aldi was in college. I had never heard of it until I moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania my freshman year. At first I thought it was the shoe store Aldo which led to much confusion initially. As a broke college student I was attracted to the low prices. But as an immature 18 year old I was slightly weirded out by the generic products which I thought were knock offs of brand names. The labeling on their generic products was very similar to popular brand name packaging. Toaster Tarts instead of Pop Tarts or Aunt Maple’s instead of Aunt Jemima.

toaster tarts

 

Aunt Maple's
However, now being a bill paying older adult I have a totally different view of Aldi.  Also they have really made an effort to sell more than processed junk. They now have many organic products and fresh produce.  Don’t get me wrong some of their products are not very healthy or natural. And contain artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. This is where label reading is a must — which you should do in any grocery store.

Check out this innocent looking box of ‘Quinoa Blend.’

It contains Yeast Extract, Caramel Color, Natural Flavors (not really natural – they are produced in a lab) and Maltodextrin (again created in a lab). No thanks!

I do not do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Aldi but I have a few favorites that I found which are truly natural and healthy.  Some of my Aldi favorites are their organic dried herbs and spices,  nuts, organic tortilla chips, canned organic beans. Also their fresh produce including avocados, pineapples and organic salad mix.

Here are some photos from my last Aldi trip. I did not purchase all these items but I wanted to show you some of their selection.

 

If you do not have an Aldi in your area now, you might very soon. According to their website, they plan to have 2,000 stores in the US by 2018. So give them a try, you might save a few dollars. And be sure to read those labels carefully!

 

Have you ever shopped at Aldi?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

DIY Rug Backer

Recently I had hardwood floors installed in my condo.  That was my first large home improvement project since buying the place 2 years ago. When I moved in, there was ratty old beige carpet with scratches and frays from the previous owner’s dog. Also there was always a weird, not bad, but weird smell in the condo. Once the old carpet was removed the smell vanished with it. Added bonus!

My Fascist condo association requires if we install hardwood floor to cover 75% of it with rugs. Womp womp! What’s the point of having beautiful floors if you have to cover them. But I’m a good little owner and complied-ish.  I covered about 40%. I already had one throw rug in front of the sofa and I bought another to put under my television stand. Being the frugal person the new rug  was very inexpensive but cute.

Front of rug

Ain’t it cute!?! BUT being so cheap it did not have non-slip backing on it and I was afraid it would slide around and scratch my lovely new floors.

Back of rug

So I looked online and in stores for rug backers. But the prices in my opinion were high for something that would never been seen. So I got to thinking about what I could use in place of a formal rug backer. Then I remembered what some of my ingenious Occupational Therapy colleagues have used at work to stop things from sliding around — Dycem! If you are not familiar with Dycem imagine if Fruit Roll-ups were plastic. It’s a plastic material that’s sticky on both sides and is magically  reusable a million times before it loses it’s stick.  It even comes in rolls like Fruit Roll-ups.

But Dycem has about or even a higher cost than rug backers. So a cheap alternative some Occupational Therapists use is shelf liner. The rubbery waffle pattern kind. Not the one that’s like wallpaper with a pattern on one side.  I found it at Target in the kitchenware section for around $6.

Con Tact shelf liner

 

I chose to not cover the entire back of the rug with the shelf liner.  Stretching my buck. I simply cut rectangles for each corner of the throw rug and two in the middle. Use the ridges on the shelf liner to cut straight lines.

Cutting the liner

Cut pieces of liner

Apply glue to the liner cut outs and adhere to the rug. Allow it to dry with the rug upside down for several hours or overnight. The glue will come through the holes slightly when wet so definitely allow it to dry completely before flipping it over.

Glue applied to liner

And you’re done. Easy DIY project.

Liner glued to rug

All that work and I put it under my TV stand so it’s definitely not moving around. Oh well this was a fun little project.

TV stand

In reality the pre-made rug backers for sale are not that expensive. But there’s something therapeutic about re-purposing an item.

Here a few other uses for shelf liner:

  1. Under potted plants
  2. On the legs of a table.
  3. Coasters
  4. On the dashboard to hold a cellphone in place.

Can you think of any other uses for shelf liner?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.
Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Long time no post.

Happy 2017 everyone! I hate to say what everyone always says every year but ‘boy did the year go by fast.’ I hope you all had a great 2016.  One of my big goals for 2016 was to start this blog. I did that but I feel like I didn’t put my best effort into it.  That’s one of the reasons I was hesitant to start a blog in the first place. I didn’t want it to be one of those really interesting blogs you stumble upon where the last post was 3 years ago.  I only wrote 7 posts in 2016 – despite having so many ideas. Ugh! Blogging is definitely a lot more work than I thought. I have new found respect for bloggers now.

But that’s what a new year is for right? Being better than last year. Setting new goals. Self improvement. Crowding the gym for one month.

Speaking of the gym, I, like many people have set plenty of health goals for 2017. I want to continue to eat healthy which to me means eating fewer animal products. More fruits and veggies. And drinking at least 60 ounces of water a day.  Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night.  For these first 5 days of the year I’ve been doing pretty good on that front. Only 360 more days to go!

I also have a lot of fitness goals this year. I want to step up my CrossFit game. By that I mean push myself harder during the WODs, workout at least 3 times a week and put in work outside of the scheduled classes. Towards the end of the year I started staying after class ended and worked on some things on my own. And I actually noticed a big improvement in just a few weeks. I’m not trying to compete in the CrossFit games or anything but I want to see what my body is capable of.

Often in CrossFit or any fitness program, progress in measured in being able to lift heavier weight or decreasing your time on a run. But I like to measure my progress in other ways. One of the biggest things that gives CrossFit a bad rep is risk of injury and people using horrible form. I worked hard on my core strength this year which allowed for me to avoid injury and to see improvements in pull ups, push ups, handstand push ups and freestanding handstands.  But I did have some great improvements in my weightlifting one rep maxes too. It is good to see those objective numbers sometimes too.

Here’s a video of me failing practicing handstands. (I did not pick the music playing in the gym). I posted this on my personal IG page and got some good feedback from other CrossFitters on improving my technique. Please if you have any tips for mastering these let me know in the comments. I need all the help I can get. My goal is to be able to consistently hold handstands for 30 seconds. So far I’ve gotten up to 5 seconds.

Financially, I am aiming to cut my spending significantly and increase my savings this year. Sales and coupons will continue to be my two best friends.  But I also want to cut out the unnecessary spending ie fewer Target runs and less eating out.

I saw a savings challenge where you save every $5 bill you get for the entire year. So far I’ve already saved $15!  I will definitely post my total savings at the end of the year.

If this doesn’t sound good to you there’s also the 52 Week Challenge. With that challenge you save $1 for the number of the week it is. So first week of the year you save $1, second week $2, …, week 52 you save $52. In total you will have saved $1378.  I tried it last year and stopped around week 13. It was difficult to have a set amount of cash on me every week. For me the $5 challenge is easier.

I am super excited to see what 2017 brings for me and Frugally Fit and Natural. I wish you all health, love and prosperity this year.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions or goals this year?

 

 

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Make Money on Your Cell Phone

Did you know you could make money from your cell phone? Yes it’s true. There are many free moneymaking apps now.  There are some apps that pay you to take surveys, watch videos or just to track your activity on your phone. My favorite moneymaking apps pay you for everyday purchases. Three of my favorites are Checkout 51, ibotta and Receipt Hog. All three of these apps are available for download from the Android and Apple app stores. I’m an Android girl myself. Side note: do any of my other Android users catch flack from your iPhone family and friends? I can’t be the only one.

ibotta

ibotta app

ibotta was the first moneymaking app I ever downloaded and used. It’s also the one that I have made the most money on to date.  With ibotta you first unlock rebates for items that are posted in the app. Then if you buy any of those items from specific retailers, you scan your receipt and the bar code of the item. And bam! Within minutes you get a rebate applied to your account for those items. Your money can be redeemed for gift cards or deposited in your PayPal or venmo account. I usually opt for PayPal deposits. The gift cards available change from time to time but currently Amazon, Target, Starbucks, The Gap, Applebee’s, JoAnn Fabrics and Old Navy are just a few that are available.

You can also earn money for referring friends. Each month they offer teamwork bonuses so anyone you refer or who’s a Facebook friend (if you choose to link your Facebook account) act as a team to accumulate a certain amount to earn an extra bonus. The bonuses are in addition to the regular rebates you get.  There are also bonuses  if you redeem a specified number of rebates in a certain time frame. Or if you buy multiple items in a specific category or specific brand. Here’s my referral link if you’d like to download the app: https://ibotta.com/r/myapg.

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 app

Checkout 51 is a little simpler than ibotta. If you purchase a product featured on the app you scan the receipt. That’s it.  You don’t have to unlock the rebate first or scan the bar code of the product as with ibotta.  And it does not matter which store you made the purchase. Checkout 51 rolls out a new list of products each Thursday. With this app you receive your money in the form of a check. Once you accumulate at least $20 you can request a check be mailed to you. So no need for gift cards, PayPal or venmo.  I have found with Checkout 51 I don’t purchase too many of the items listed in app. So it takes a bit of time for me to accumulate $20. Also there are fewer bonuses than offered on ibotta and no teamwork component.

ReceiptHog

 

ReceiptHog

ReceiptHog is even simpler than Checkout 51. With ReceiptHog you simply take a photo of your receipt and upload it to the app. No specific products to buy or offers to upload first. For grocery receipts, you earn coins and all other receipts you earn entries into a drawing. There are limits to the types of receipts you can upload. Grocery, convenience, department,  drug, liquor, home improvement, dollar, and toy stores and restaurants are acceptable.  The app does not accept receipts for gas or services such as an oil change or haircut.  And receipts must be uploaded to the app within 14 days of the purchase date.

If you upload grocery receipts for consecutive weeks  within a month you earn spins on the app’s slot machine. The slot machine offers chances to win additional coins or even $100 cash. Once you accumulate a certain number of coins you can redeem them for either an Amazon gift card or PayPal deposit. Like Checkout 51 there are no bonuses or teamwork incentives. So accumulating enough coins for a reward does take some time.  But you’re just taking photos of receipts you already have just laying around.

 

If you haven’t tried any of these moneymaking apps yet you certainly should. They cost you nothing and you can earn some decent pocket change.  And if you use coupons and catch some items on sale, you can end up with some freebies. I will caution with ibotta and Checkout 51 to avoid buying items you normally wouldn’t just because of the rebate. I will admit I have fallen victim to this. There’s a bottle of coconut water in my cabinet to show for it. I hate coconut water but couldn’t pass up the $1 rebate on ibotta.

Do you use any moneymaking apps?

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Harris Teeter is one of my favorite grocery stores here in Virginia. I have one within walking distance of my condo so I shop there frequently. Harris Teeter has locations here in Virginia and DC, Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. If you do not have a Harris Teeter in your area or have never been it one,d it’s your typical mass grocer with average prices and a good selection of major brand products and their own brand including an organic line. What makes them hold a special place in my frugal heart is their periodic Super Doubles special.

During the Super Doubles promotion Harris Teeters doubles coupons up to $2 face value. So that means your measly little $2 coupon becomes a $4 coupon!!! Woot Woot! So when I saw the Super Doubles promotion I quickly searched through my old coupon packets (never throw them away until all the coupons in them expire) and online coupons for any coupons $1 or more. Once I gathered all the coupons I could find for any products I need or may need I headed to Harris Teeter with a smirk on my face and reusable grocery bags in hand.

I planned this trip to only buy items that I had coupons for. I wish there were more coupons for fresh fruits and veggies though. So I’ll do my regular grocery shopping some other time – I needed to concentrate on the Super Doubles. It’s not a game people. Surprisingly, I only spent about 30 minutes in the store, everything I intended to purchase was in stock and I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on my list or I didn’t have a coupon for. There were a few things I had planned to buy but changed my mind because it wasn’t as good of a bargain as I thought.

Check out what I bought:
Harris Teeter Haul

I know you’re wondering what I paid after all the coupons. The price before coupons was $40.01 and after the super doubles: $14.20!
Here’s the breakdown:
Ragu Pasta Sauce on sale for $1.78 used $1 coupon=Free
Barilla Pasta $2.49 used $1 coupon= $.49
Silk Yogurt on sale for $1.25 used $1 off 3 coupon= $.58 each (bought 3)
So Delicious Yogurt on sale for $1.25 used $1 off 3 coupon =$.58 each (bought 6)
Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears $1.49 used $1 coupon=Free
Black Forest Organic Gummy Worms $1.69 used $1 coupon=free (bought 2)
Oral B Floss on sale $2.99 used $1 coupon=$ .99
Oral B Pulsar Toothbrush on sale $5.99 used $2 coupon=$1.99
Tampax Pearl Tampons on sale $3.99 used $1 coupon=$1.99
Energizer AA Batteries on sale for $5.99 used $1.25 coupon=$3.49

I think the deal on the yogurts was worth it alone. If you have a Harris Teeter in your area hurry and catch the Super Doubles promotion.

Do you use coupons when you shop?

And in case you thought I was kidding about saving old coupon packets. Here’s my current stash:

Pile o' coupons

 

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.

Target Clearance Haul

I used to love, love, love Target. I would make 2 or 3 Target runs a week. I faithfully read their weekly sales ads and checked their website for new coupons every couple of days. I also was on their list to have Target coupons texted to my phone. But my love of Target has faded.

Over the past year my Target runs have cut down to less than one a month for several reasons. The main reason is I have significantly cut out unnecessary spending. That One Spot or Dollar Spot or whatever it’s called now used to catch me every time. That’s that section right at the entrance to encourage impulse buying. They have anything from stickers to vegetable seeds to trash cans to miniature Christmas trees. I bought one of the Christmas trees and two packs of miniature bulbs to decorate it. Everything costs about $1 to $5 and you don’t actually need any of it. Also I noticed Targets prices have increased and the quality of their sales has declined.

To discourage impulse buying and not getting the best deal available, I plan out my Target runs before heading into the store now. First I only go if I need a specific item, then I check the Target Cartwheel app and the weekly sale. If you aren’t familiar with the Cartwheel app it allows you to get an additional percentage or dollar amount off specific items after you add them to your list in the app. The additional discount can range from 5% to 75% off the price of the item, including sale items and can be combined with coupons. So if you aren’t using this app download it before your next Target run.

Cartwheel app icon

My latest Target run was to buy Just Mayo mayonnaise. It’s my favorite new ‘healthy’ mayonnaise. They have plain mayo and different flavors. My favorite is the chipotle flavor. The best part is all their mayos are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. Just Mayo was on sale for $2.99 and on the Cartwheel App with an additional 15% off. While on the Cartwheel app I found an offer for an additional 20% off all women’s clearance clothing. So my plan was to buy the Just Mayo and glance at the clearance clothes. I ended up buying three shirts, one pair of shorts and a two piece bathing suit.
DSCN0199

Reg. $9 Paid $5 (not included in the Cartwheel savings)

Aztec print blouse

Reg. 19.99 Paid $11.18

Pink Blouse

Reg $19.99 Paid $7.98

Aztec Print Shorts

Reg $22.99 Paid $12.86

Striped Two Piece

Reg $17.99 each piece, Paid $7.18 each piece

The T-shirt was not on clearance so the extra 20% did not apply to it but I couldn’t pass up an inexpensive tee. The total for all six items at regular price would have been $107.95. With the clearance markdown, then the extra 20% from the Cartwheel app my grand total was $51.38! I would call that a pretty good deal.

And in case you were wondering I did buy the Just Mayo too. I tend to have shopping amnesia so I made sure I grabbed the mayo first before heading to the clothing section.

 

Have you ever gone in a store to buy a specific item then buy a bunch of other stuff except what you actually went to the store to buy?

Hello I’m Candice the creator of Frugally Fit and Natural. I want to help you live a healthy lifestyle without breaking your budget.