Q&A: Getting the Best Deals
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I've been reading your blog for some time now and was wondering
where you purchase your beef and chicken? I've done a lot of research
and want to make sure I'm getting the best deal before I make a final
choice. I appreciate your time in answering my question. Thanks
Monica, I purchase my beef and chicken (all of my meat and poultry, actually) through a small, local deli shop. It's located out in the country, about a 20 minute drive from my house. The reason I love it is because they carry animal products that are grass-fed, free of antiobiotics and hormones, as well as some specialty deli products with little or no preservatives (sausage, sandwich meat, ec.). What's equally fantastic is that because they are not certified organic, and they keep their family run business small and modest, the prices are affordable!
I think that finding local shops and/or farmers like this is ideal, and most likely the way that you will get the best deal as well. To find places like this, you really need to start digging around and researching. Ask in local health food or supplement stores, or at farmers markets. Ask other health-minded moms and dads. Ask a naturopath, nutritionist or even a midwife. Also, here's a post I wrote with a lot of online resources that will help you in your search.
As for knowing what's ultimately a good deal or not will depend on just doing a lot of research. Until I began to really pay attention to where I could get good quality meat and poultry and what the typical prices were, it was hard for me to know whether I was getting the best deal or not.
Expect to pay more than at the supermarket (just keep telling yourself how it's worth it!), but know that there are lots of places out there where you don't have to pay an arm and a leg! It helps to buy in bulk, such as buying a 1/4 or a 1/2 of a cow, or buying many whole chickens all at once. I try to save up money throughout the year to make this possible, and another good option is to find another family or two who would like to purchase with you and then split it up, to help keep costs low.
Image by John Beagle
One area that you have really inspired me lately is in your segment
about clothing your children without breaking the bank. With the
change of seasons upon us, we are all thinking about the new wardrobes
that our little ones will need. Hence, the money will we also need to
Here are my questions:
1) How far would you travel
to save money on clothing or even food items? (All of the resale shops
or food outlet stores are a good 30-40 minute drive from where we live).
do you shop for the upcoming season? (I am afraid that I am already
behind in shopping for this Spring/Summer. Garage sale season won't
start for another 2 months or so, if I wait until then to buy for this
year my kids will be wearing long sleeve shirts and fleece pants in 80
degree weather! Should I be buying for NEXT year now?
3)How do you find your swap meets,garage sales etc?
Thanks so much!!
Great questions, Beth!
1) Personally, I don't drive longer than about 20 minutes (each way) to any food store or market. My only exception to this would be if it was somewhere that I only went a few times each year, bought in bulk and stocked up significantly. Then I would consider driving further (and have done so in the past).
For clothes, I might consider going further, if I only went occasionally (again, a few times a year), and then I would make sure that I had saved up or discussed a budgeted amount with my husband and that I had a detailed list of exactly what we did and didn't need, and could stock up on excellent deals (like clothes for next winter, etc.). I just think that if I have to drive further (or more often) than this that it starts to become poor stewardship of my time and gas, and just isn't worth it. Obviously, everyone's situation is a little bit different, and you need to weigh all of these factors as you make your decision.
If you have times when you will be in these areas anyways (to visit friends, do something special with the family, etc.) then take full advantage and plan to stop and shop as well! Killing two birds with one stone is always the best way to do it!
2) Yes, buy for next year now! I try to always be one year ahead, although it's not always possible. At the very least, 1-2 seasons ahead. So in the winter, I will buy for the upcoming spring/summer (if I haven't already), as well as for the next winter (and hey, even the one after that if it's a great deal!). This summer I've been focusing on just filling in the last gaps for fall/winter, and also picking up anything that's a year or more in advance if the price is right. This weekend I grabbed some size 7 jeans and shirts for my daughter at a garage sale. She's only in a size 5 right now, but I paid 5 cents for the jeans, and 25 cents for each shirt, so I figured it was worth it. 🙂
3) My source for swap meets is local recreation centers and churches. They regularly host swap meets, as often as every month or some of them just once or twice a year. It helps to really ask around to other moms, and even to google "kids swap meet" for the area or city where you live. Try calling some local rec centers or community centers and see if they know of any that are happening!
For garage sales, I don't do it regularly enough to say that I have a real plan for it. We just occasionally pick a Saturday morning and decide to head out and look for signs in nicer neighborhoods. We'll also just stop at a sale if we happen to drive by one that looks worthwhile, even if we weren't planning to go shopping. If you really want to be purposeful about doing it, most local newspapers will have a section with either a map or just a list of the garage sales in the area and you can make a plan that way. Also, Craigslist has become a good source for garage sale info (look for "garage sale" under the "for sale" section of your local area Craigslist site), as tons of people will post up their sales the week or even the day before it happens!
For those who missed it, here is my series on Clothing Kids Without Breaking the Bank:
How would the rest of you answer these questions? Where do you get your meat and poultry? And what do you think about travelling, buying ahead and finding places where you can score the best deals?
I live in the DC Metro area, and the one of the best ways I’ve found to find childrens clothes are consignment sales. There are three big ones that are all semianual that I plan to attend. They are all hosted by local churches, generally on a Saturday morning. My favorite one has around 200 to 300 sellers worth of clothes, resulting in a gym packed with clothes and another room full of toys. Some of the deals are really good and some are not. I usually go with a friend and we arrive at least an hour early to get at the front of the line. I make a list and hit the high ticket items first then go through the clothes and toys. I got a $200 jogging stroller for $35. I also got my son’s full 18 month wardrobe for under $40. These sales are often advertised on craigslist.
PS – I LOVE this website.
i really appreciate all of the incredibly useful information that you post here. the information on the meat comes at a perfect time for me. i have been racking my brain on finding a more reasonable way to purchase grass fed meat. thanks so much. i also use ebay to purchase items for our children’s clothing. particularly my daughter. she has skin sensitivities and has to wear 100% cotton everything. this would be my preference anyway but it is a little more difficult to bargain shop with that restriction. just and fyi: most of gymborees clothes are 100% cotton.
As for the clothes, I usually shop a whole year ahead at end of the season clearance sales. I shop at stores usually where I have their credit card to get extra discounts and then pay it off immediately online. I usually end up getting about 90% off. Sometimes I got to the resale shops too.
As for meat, after seeing Food, Inc. last night, I have rethought my meat purchasing. I no longer trust the claims of organic or all natural labels from my giant grocery stores.
I plan on trying to buy from my farmers market and looking into the local meat shops. I have a chest freezer in the garage so I can stock up when I find a good source. I also plan on cutting back on our meat consumption in general, so that will cut costs, too.
Basically I want to stop feeding the giant machine that is our food system! I don’t want to give them my money anymore and let them think that what they are doing is okay!
Another suggestion for children’s clothing – find a friend through church or a play group with older children that will pass on clothes to you as her children outgrow them. I have two friends that I regularly pass on clothes to as my youngest grows out of them.
Because we have three girls, one outfit might get worn by all three, so I am sometimes willing to pay a bit more for certain items, but usually not for the rough out play clothes. For the nicer items, I often will shop Lands End clearance sales. Because I MUST drive 20 min. to an hour one way to clothes shop we combine it with other things, but usually end up eating out as well. Because of that, it is cheaper to pay shipping on an internet order or find a free shipping deal than to drive.
you live in the lower mainland/vancouver right? can you tell me where you get your free range chicken? i already have a good source for beef, but I haven’t been able to find a good source for free range chicken.
Another resource for finding local meat is to see if there is a local chapter of the Weston Price Foundation. If you do, they should have a list of local farmers / suppliers who have quality meat products for purchase.
Here’s the link to find a local chapter:
If you live in an area where you can buy directly from the rancher than you can purchase beef, chicken, etc., for a lot less than the at the grocery store, choose the specific cuts and package sizes you want AND have it all delivered to your door!
Stephanie thanks so much for answering my questions!! I have been hitting some garage sales and even just this morning went to a local thrift store and found some pretty good deals on clothes for the kids. I am not finding the really low bargain deals like 25 cents for a shirt, but $1 a shirt isn’t too bad! I have already bought both of our boys their entire Christmas outfits for under $12 and they were a high quality designer brand no less!
You continue to inspire me to be a better steward with our money and my time!
Thanks so much!
We are fortunate to have people passing clothes down to us for our two daughters. To fill in the gaps I check out the local thrift shop (small b/c the population here is about 8000) and otherwise we need to drive to the nearest city (2hs away) with a mile-long shopping list. We only go to the city about 4-5 times/year, combining trips with medical or homeschool appointments whenever possible. I don’t find it valuable anymore to scour consignment shops in the city b/c the prices aren’t that low and I am able to do well without them. Also, by shopping off season at favorite stores we are able to buy new at prices lower that what we’ve seen at consignment shops! We’ve found two local farmers to buy beef and eggs from but around here it is very difficult to buy poultry (people are primarily using it up for their own families). The nearest organic market, two hours or more away, is very expensive, so we do without certain foods. I also just relax, head out to the occasional garage sale, check out the thrift shop occasionally and it all works out pretty well. (But I always have a list of what we are still needing) My son is the exception b/c he is, at 13, wearing men’s sizes and growing so fast it is hard to keep up. Good thing he doesn’t care about having tons of clothing and, being homeschooled, he feels no pressure to wear specific brand-names either.
Great post! I agree about buying clothes ahead for your kids. We live in Arizona so I wait as long as possible to buy winter clothes so I can get the best deal. We have a very short winter season so I cannot justify buying any winter items if they are not deeply discounted – usually @ the end of the season. I am sure lots of you follow the same path for summer clothing if you live in an are w/ a short summer season. I am not much of a garage saler but I am sure that’s the best place, especially for the younger ones.
Lots of good info and comments…I don’t have much new to add. The only new thing I could think of is that about the clothes deals- consignment shops and thrift shops often have sales and clearance as seasons change. Its uusally around now, for us, to get the summer stuff for next year, as they want to get the fall stuff in. I find consignment stores to be pricey sometimes, but the $7.95 jeans can go down to $1. At our local thrift shop they have “fill a bag for $5” and its amazing what you can stuff in there. I get all sorts of sizes just depending on what is good that day. I do sometimes spend a little bit more now that I have two girls if I think it will last both of them, like spend a few dollars more I mean. I find fleece to be a good deal for us since it repels stains, seems to wear well if not put in the dryer and also is very warm which we need here. My oldest is in sizes 4/5 and I often get up to 8’s even if its a good deal, like fill a bag or 25 cents or whatever. We also do combine trips to see family with Value village trips and the like (and combining the coupons too) and its sort of a thing we all go and do together and it makes it fun. We go armed with a list though that is carefully planned out.
Oh and ask around about online classifieds for your community. My small community has one but its not one of the well known ones, and if we hadn’t heard by word of mouth we wouldn’t have known. Clothes for sale and also garage sales are on ours along with tons of other things.