Super bowl food buying and how to reduce your costs

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, without a doubt one of the biggest events of the year. From food consumption to advertising to viewership, it’s a force. A few fun acts about the day will give you pause as to what the financial impact is on your wallet (if you are the average American). According to a Chicago Now piece, you will be among consumers of 1.3 billion chicken wings, $10.8 billion in beer purchases, and $2.37 million in soda (actually seems low).  Seem like a lot, yep, but it doesn’t mean you need to pay full price for these purchases. Here’s how to avoid that Super Bowl binge fall out.

Super bowl purchasing tips

super bowl

You might be eating a lot today, but you can avoid spending a lot, too

First, let’s look at where you are going to shop first. You definitely want to hit the larger grocery stores for the Big Day. Safeway, Kroger, etc. Let’s skip your niche store today. Second, don’t forget to look for discounted gift cards. A search on Gift Card Granny showed Meijer cards that range from 1% to 2% off. Not a huge savings, but if you are going to shop at that store, you might as well start ahead of the game. Third, don’t forget coupons. They are getting easier to find and redeem all of the time thanks to card linked offers, loyalty programs, and self printing coupons. Check out my page for several options. Finally, especially if gift card buying is not for you, and you can obtain it, get the best credit card for grocery shopping. American Express Everyday Preferred pays 6% in refunds on grocery store purchases, up to $6,000 in purchases. Even with the annual fee ($75) it’s easy to more than recoup that cost.

After the Super Bowl is over, you can still apply these tips and strategies for future grocery shopping.

Save money on recurring bills with Trim

A few days ago, I tweeted about a new free service called Trim which helps you identify recurring bills and flags them for possible cancellation. The service is definitely in my strike zone for helpful tools to help you save money. I finally registered yesterday and gave it a shot.

One of the main reasons I am attracted to this service, other than being free, is that if Trim identifies a recurring bill, it can help you cancel the service simply by text message. The service works by linking to your credit or debit card accounts and scanning transaction data. If a charge comes up that looks like a repeat, Trim will send you a text message asking if you want to cancel. Now, I don’t know the other end of the cancellation part, but if Trim can help stop my cable bill without my talking to a rep, I would be excited.

My attempt to save money with Trim

save money

Trim

After I set up the service yesterday, within about 10-15 minutes, I got a text message flagging three items on my Chase account that it deemed could save money for me by canceling them. AAA was the only membership that was listed. Interestingly enough, on their website version, they gave me an option to see if I wanted to lower my premium. When I clicked yes, it said “we are working on it.” We’ll just have to see.

Trim still needs to “learn” my spending habits or build its database of true subscription-based businesses. The other charges it flagged were for a pita and a Thai place we eat at frequently, parking garage (arrghh – don’t get me started with that) and the other for an investment I have. So, some success but since I don’t have many subscriptions, Trim is going to flag recurring charges, which is awesome, but I have to tell it to ignore the innocuous purchases somehow. I haven’t seen that feature yet. But please add more features and options to save money!

I will definitely continue to use this service because I like to save painlessly and am always on the hunt for odd charges, subscriptions that I thought we had cancelled, and other billing anomalies. I am looking forward to actually using the cancellation feature to see how effective it is.

Reader alert – parking garage rip offs

It is common knowledge that unless you can avoid it, or don’t have to pay for it, a parking garage might as well be a total money suck on your wallet. Parking at sporting events can run $50 or more, and here in DC, parking spots can easily run in the hundreds of dollars a month. Let’s discuss some strategies to avoid getting ripped off when parking your car.

First, if you are going to be using a grocery or retail store garage, make sure you get your ticket validated (if they do). Some stores let you self validate, and others by a cashier. Second, a parking garage charges by the hour, make sure the time entry is accurate. A reader of mine recently told me of her experience with an inaccurate ticket clock. The clock was fast by about 10 minutes, she reported. So, when she checked out and was charged over the time she was actually there, she complained. Taking the time stamp off the ticket and comparing it to her phone’s time (which should be near 100% accurate) there was definitely a discrepancy. How many people that day got snared in that trap?

Discounted parking garage alternatives

parking garage

Spot Hero

If you are looking for cheaper alternatives to a parking garage, there are a few websites that broker parking spots. I just learned about Parking Spotter, a sort of Craigslist for parking, and another, Spot Hero, which is another listing site. Full disclosure, I just signed up for Spot Hero and really like their site. From the app or website, the easy-to-use interface will show a listing of all parking opportunities available in the area. Once you find a spot, which can be by the hour or month, pay in advance and you are good to go. The site claims to offer consumers up to 50% off parking rates not otherwise available. I am looking forward to testing it out soon.

Bottom line is, before parking your car in just any garage or lot, see if there is an option to save you money first