Mar 10 2017

3 time-savers I’m obsessed with right now

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I’m busy (aren’t we all?), but also kinda lazy (maybe it’s just me). Here are three things that are saving me sanity, time, and in some cases money, and I’m super-thankful they’re in my life right now:

Stitch Fix

I’m now on Fix #4 and I’m obsessed!

I tried this styling service once back in 2014, but I wasn’t ready for it. Of the five items I received, I liked two. I sent them back because I thought they were a bit pricey for what they were (I think $48-58, if I recall?), and I ended up regretting returning them. I liked that top and cardigan, and I didn’t find others in store that were quite the same, either. Whoops.

On a whim this year, I scheduled my second Fix. I changed my style profile to reflect my current aims, and I went into it with the understanding that yes, these items are going to cost more than I would pay at Target. I’m paying for a styling service and their algorithm the mega convenience factor, and some nicer-quality items. I ended up keeping all 5 items in my second Fix and received a 25% off discount for doing so. A $20 styling fee with each Fix covers shipping both ways, and can be used as a credit toward any purchase in that Fix. Return it all and you lose your $20, though.

My total with 7% sales tax and minus the styling fee was $196. Yikes! Comes to about $40 per item. Some of these were Stitch Fix (affiliate link, thank you!) house brands, and others you can find at places like Nordstrom. I was glad to see “made in USA” on the label of one of my tops.

If you bank with PNC, activate the Stitch Fix offer on PNC Purchase Payback. I jumped in on one offer before it expired and got $10 back on my $20 styling fee, and activated a new offer that popped up for an additional $10 back (which applied toward my purchase). The timing of both worked out to $20 off that Fix, plus 1.75% cash back on my purchase by using that PNC Visa. If you don’t bank with PNC, try Cash Back Monitor to see current extra offers for new customers. Oh, and I would certainly appreciate it if you used my referral link! I’d get $25 credited to my account. Thank you!

I left feedback for my stylist, requested her again, and I turned around and scheduled my 3rd Fix since my wardrobe really could use some help. I was more picky about what I kept. I received pants, a scarf, and three tops. The pants were too tight and I didn’t like the color, the tops were cute but not on me, but I liked the scarf a lot. The scarf was the only thing I kept. You have the option of exchanging for a different size at no charge. The size was fine but I just didn’t love the tops or pants.

I pinned this scarf and received it in Fix #3. Kept! It has a large width and I can tie it in several ways.

I pinned this scarf and received it in Fix #3. Kept! It has a large width and I can tie it in several ways.

For Fix #4, I requested the same stylist. This Fix was another 5/5! I don’t expect that all of the time; I think 1-2 items kept is still doing well. I received white Kut from the Kloth jeans, Henry & Belle skinny jeans in a teal color, two tops (both USA!), and some denim shorts. Nothing was from my Pinboard specifically, although I had very similar styles pinned. The Kut pants are priced the same or better as what I’m seeing on Nordstrom.

I like the clothing I’m receiving and that I’m trying things that I wouldn’t think to pick out on my own, but still feel like me. I like that I do not have to set foot in a store. I really don’t have time to do that on my own, and if I brought kids along…I wouldn’t have the greatest outcome in terms of what I selected for myself. Shopping for clothing in a store just overwhelms me and I don’t enjoy it.

Henry & Belle Nicholas skinny jean. Stitch Fix exclusive wash. Super soft and feel great! Kept. Most expensive pants I have purchased, but the 25% off helped. Still most expensive.

Henry & Belle Nicholas skinny jean. Stitch Fix exclusive wash. Super soft and feel great! Kept. Most expensive pants I have purchased, but the 25% off helped. Still most expensive.

Further, in a store or online, I tend to gravitate toward huge sales and the clearance section because that’s my nature. In doing so, I might miss out on nicer things that sell out quickly. For example, my stylist sent me white cropped jeans, since she saw that I had pinned some similar and she said white sell out fast in their inventory. I believe that, as I have never been able to find white jeans that I liked on my own.

So typically, I browse online and order from some retailer and either keep it or return it on my own. I will still do this for some items, but it does take time to find what I want. Working with a Stitch Fix stylist and their data has them take care of that part, too. Oh, and have you seen the style cards that come with each Fix? They are yours to keep, and I think they are really helpful.

Check out my Stitch Fix Pinterest board to see some of the items I’ve received and what I’m saving as inspiration.

P.S., Stitch Fix now has a wider range of sizes: maternity, plus (as of February), and men’s.


One of my style cards. This top came in my February Fix

One of my style cards. This top came in my 2nd Fix. It is dark green (super soft fabric) and has a floral thing mixed-media going on at the bottom. Made in USA! Never would have tried it on my own, but I like it!


 My Instant Pot

Is the Instant Pot worth the hype? Oh, yes ma’am, it is. I got one when it was on sale last year for around $70ish, and if you set a price alert on CamelCamelCamel, you can be notified the next time there’s a price drop.

I haven’t yet found a cookbook that I love, but check your library to see if there are any good options for you. Here is a chicken and wild rice soup recipe that is delicious (my cousin shared this one with me). Keep your owner’s manual handy for a quick reference to cooking times.

I’ve used it to make rice, soups, stews, and just cooking up meat in a faster way. Frozen chicken breasts can cook up fast, and it regularly saves a day when I fail to plan ahead for dinner time. It is particularly good for inexpensive,  tough cuts of meat. I could never get stew meat as tender as I can get it in the Instant Pot when cooking it in my slow cooker or on the stove.

I make hard-cooked eggs in it, and what’s magical about using the Instant Pot is the shells peel without drama. No matter what tricks I try on the stove, peeling eggs ends up taking forever and makes the eggs look battered. Not so with the Instant Pot!

Mine is a 6-qt model, but if you have a large family, I think it is probably worth getting a larger size so you won’t run into capacity issues for really big cuts of meat or a big ol’ pot of soup. I tried doubling the chicken and rice soup recipe and the results weren’t as good. Do not overfill.

I haven’t used my slow cooker since getting the Instant Pot. Not quite ready to get rid of it, but…I think its days could be numbered around here.

Kroger Click List

I’m trying out Kroger Click List as a time and money saver. The first three pick-ups are free and after that, it is a $5 charge. I’m on my 4th pick-up and plan to continue.

You make your list online, use digital or physical coupons, choose your pick-up time, and pull in to a designated parking spot during that time frame. Call the phone number on the sign post in front of you, and someone will wheel out your groceries and load them in your vehicle.

I. Love. It.

I’m an Aldi regular, but when you think about how many times you’re handling an item at Aldi, it just is a bit time-consuming: Grab item from shelf, put in cart, load onto conveyor, bag items, put in vehicle, bring into house, put away. Ugh. Contrast that with Kroger’s service, and I’m bringing in the groceries from my garage I’m putting the item away.

Kroger’s prices are generally pretty competitive, and if I take care to schedule a pickup for when I’m already out running errands, it is a huge time-saver and sanity-saver. Not having to take three kids inside a store? Yeah, there’s cost savings there, too, when you factor in the impulse things  that inevitably make their way into my cart.

One weird thing — I ordered one pack of 12-ct chicken drumsticks. They gave me 3 packs, and charged me for all 3. I contacted customer service to let them know (and haven’t heard back). I can handle substitutions since they clear it with you when you check out, but I just don’t need that many chicken legs at once. Hopefully this was an anomaly.

Bonus time-saver: I can access previous purchases and quickly add regulars to my next cart.

How about you? Any sanity savers you’re loving right now?

Posted under Groceries, Personal Finance | Comments Off on 3 time-savers I’m obsessed with right now
Apr 13 2012

Grocery prices are going way up! And what I’m doing about it.


Is anyone else alarmed at the prices at the grocery store lately? Something tells me this is only the beginning. Inflation is coming and is already here at the grocery.

In the past few months, I just absorbed the price increases and said, “Whatever. Don’t have time to shop around or get back into couponing.”

Now, I’m getting really annoyed. I do not want to go to several stores per week to save money. In fact, I’d prefer if I could get it to where I’m making one big trip 1-2x a month and then a smaller weekly trip for things like produce.

I do not want to spend much time on coupons, either. Pre-kids, I was all about the coupons. These days I love it when there are coupons stuck to products at the grocery, or if a coupon fairy leaves one behind on a shelf for a thing I need.

I’ve gotten lazy with the grocery shopping and now my wallet is starting to yell at me.

Time for plan C.

I’m going to make a master grocery list — things I typically buy over the course of the month, and some less frequent purchases (spices, oils, etc). And with that, I’m going to make a price book in a spreadsheet to compare regular prices at area groceries: Kroger, Walmart, Aldi, Trader Joe’s…and whatever else I come up with. For the non-perishable items, I’ll also look at prices online. (And here’s my 2007 price book spreadsheet post. Aww, nostalgia! I’m using that spreadsheet as a template for my new one.)

I don’t have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership right now though maybe it would be worth starting again.

I’m trying to purchase mostly organic stuff. If a produce option is available in organic, more often than not I’ll buy it (unless it’s a banana or avocado or something with a thick skin you don’t eat — I usually get conventional there). For meats, I’ve been getting grassfed or organic depending on where I’m at and what’s available. Maybe I can buy a quarter cut of beef or something and work with that.

We’re coming up on grill-out season so I need plenty of condiments. Trader Joe’s has been my favorite for those items since they don’t contain junk but they’re tasty and reasonably priced.

I guess I’m going to try to switch to the bulk shopping strategy instead of weekly trip at one place. I sort of stink at this method, because if I buy a ton of whatever, usually I just use it up fast instead of ration it out. Things like chocolate chips don’t last long around here. Maybe I ought to put my bulk food in my hall closet instead of in my pantry so I won’t be as tempted to tear open another bag of chocolate chips or whatever.

So. My strategy:

  • A master list of everything I usually buy — produce, meats, dairy, non-perishables, household goods and their prices at several area stores, and online where applicable.
  • Rotate through the grocery stores during my weekly trips. So, one week I’ll go to Trader Joe’s and bulk up, and buy other things I need for the week even if it’s not the rock-bottom price for somewhere else  — I’ll still get bananas even if they’re cheaper at Walmart or something so I don’t have to go to multiple places. They have good prices on chicken so I’ll take my cooler and load up. Ideally, I’ll get to the point where I’m buying at least a month’s worth of the non-perishables at a time.
  • The next week, I’ll go to Kroger (or whatever) and buy things for a good price there.
  • I’ll buy whatever I can online since that will save me a trip to the stores and money. Laura at Heavenly Homemakers has done lots of my work for me, and has tracked down prices on online foods.
I haven’t linked up with a CSA this year, but I do intend to go to the farmer’s market and load up on all the local produce I can carry each week. My budget isn’t so tight that it doesn’t have room to support the local farmer. I’m thankful for that. I don’t think they start until late May or early June around here. Soon!
And in theory, I’ll have some home-grown tomatoes. My seeds are indeed sprouting, but I still may need to buy some hardier seedlings to plant.
Are prices climbing where you live? What are you doing about it?

Posted under Groceries | 11 Comments »

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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