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Your beautiful, food-bearing refrigerator, sad to say, will not last forever.

They certainly last longer than, say, a light bulb, but expect to go fridge shopping every dozen years or so.

Before that time comes, you’ll want to start saving up, so you don’t wake up one day to a warm fridge full of rapidly-rotting food, and no money to replace the thing.

As with most things in life, there’s a best time to buy your refrigerator, and it turns out that might well be the month of May.

Semi-scientific analysis (like the kind Beakman used to do, only with better hair) has shown that refrigerators, unlike pretty much every other appliance on the planet, regards May as its Happy New year.

That’s the month when manufacturers will roll out the latest models, meaning the old ones need to go, and FAST.

So you’re far more likely to get a nice, steep discount on last year’s perfectly good fridge models during the month of flowers than any other time of year.

This might be surprising to you, since general knowledge states that most appliances are cheapest in September and October, when the latest models come out to play.

Why Big Fridge decided to do it in May, we have no idea.

Maybe they knew with the warmer months, we’d need something good and sturdy to store all those cold, refreshing drinks that’ll keep us going through the hot summer?

Or maybe they just chose the month out of a hat and ran with it. You never know with those faceless industry leader types.

OK, so you’ve committed to making a new refrigerator the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

Here are some other money-saving tips to keep in mind, so as to drive that price down as far as possible:

Go Shopping on a Weekday

As anybody who’s braved claustrophobic parking lots on the weekends knows, that tends to be the time most people do their shopping.

You, though, should be different.

Pick a random Wednesday, use a personal day at work (or hack mightily into the phone and complain of the Plague, that works too), and hit the local appliance store.

Prices may not be advertised as cheaper, but there’ll be much less rush, less competition to buy the best model on the sales floor, if you catch the right salesperson at the right time, you might just get yourself a bit of an “I like you” discount.

Memorial Day Super Sale

Memorial Day is a special time of year, when we celebrate our veterans by hitting the mall and drooling over anything with a 50% off tag attached to it.

This goes for major appliances like refrigerators as well, especially since the sale already occurs in a month where the old models are on semi-liquidation.

That one-two punch could net you hundreds, and possibly thousands of dollars in savings.

The End of the Month

If you can’t get away from your barbecue long enough to take advantage of a great Memorial Day sale, at least try to get to the store sometime at the end of May.

That’s when appliance dealers will be at their most desperate, because those shiny new models are coming in just days from then, and the last thing they want is to write off the old stuff as a 100% loss.

If they can get at least SOME money from you in exchange for them, that’s infinitely preferable than getting none.

Time it just right, and you could be walking about with a $1500 fridge for under $500. Now that’s how you save.

For those last two suggestions, by the idea, just hand Mom on IOU on her special day, and deliver the fridge later.

She’ll understand, especially if you stick flowers in the crisper drawer.

Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.

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Editorial Note: Intuit Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Have you ever gone over your budget only to find you’ve overspent on food? With food being the third-highest household expense behind housing and transportation, our food choices have a huge impact on our budget.

Learning how to budget groceries can help you save more to put toward your financial goals. Here are 28 ways to help you learn how to budget groceries.

1. Track current spending

Before you figure out what you should be spending on food, it’s important to figure out what you are spending on food. Keep grocery store receipts to get a realistic picture of your current spending habits. It might help to break down spending by category (via a spreadsheet or on paper), including beverages, produce, etc. Once you’ve done this, you can get an idea of where you need to trim down your grocery bill.

2. Allocate a percentage of your income

How much each household spends on food varies based on income and how many people need to be fed. Consider using our budget calculator if you’re not sure where to start. Try allocating 10% of your income to food as a starting point and then you can increase from there.

3. Avoid eating out

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 13% increase in food spending in the U.S. — a jump driven by rising purchases on dining out. Avoiding eating out where possible can help reduce your overall food spending. If you’re actively dating or enjoy restaurants with friends, be sure to factor eating away from home into your food budget — and stick to your limit.

4. Plan your meals

It’s much easier to stick to a budget when you have a plan. Plus, having a purpose for each grocery item you buy may help ensure nothing goes to waste or just sits in your pantry unused. Don’t be afraid of simple salads or meatless Mondays — not every meal has to be a gourmet experience.

5. Keep a fridge grocery list

Keep a magnetized grocery list on your fridge so that you can replace items as needed. This can help you buy food you know you’ll eat. Sticking to a list in the grocery store may help you stay accountable and not spend money on processed or pricey items.

6. Eat before you go to the store

If your mother gave you this advice growing up, she was onto something: according to studies, shoppers spend more when hungry. Eating before going to the grocery store may help you avoid tantalizing foods that can cause you to go overbudget.

7. Be careful with coupons

Getting 50% off ketchup is a great deal — unless you don’t need ketchup. Beware of coupons for items you don’t need. If the item isn’t on your list, you’re not saving at all, but rather spending on something you don’t truly need.

8. Embrace the bulk section

The bulk section of your grocery store may help you find inexpensive staples, discover new foods and bring variety into your diet. Take the time to compare the price of prepackaged goods versus bulk — bulk is likely cheaper.

9. Bring lunch to work

Picture this: you’re trying to stick to a food budget, and one day at work you realize it’s lunchtime but you forgot to pack a lunch. All the meal planning and smart shopping in the world won’t help if you don’t have food when you need it.

10. Love your leftovers

Instead of throwing your leftovers away, try to eat them to avoid wasting money. To keep things interesting, look for ways to repurpose foods — yesterday’s leftover taco meat can become today’s shepherd’s pie.

11. Keep an inventory

Keeping a list on your fridge of what you have on hand can help you avoid food waste and get creative when meal planning. And it’s a great way to get the most use out of grocery items that are sold larger quantities than you need for a single recipe. Not sure what to do with that giant bunch of celery or box of spinach you have left over from another recipe? Try out some online recipe blogs or sites that offer recipe ideas based off a few ingredients you input.

12. Freeze foods that are going bad

Another way to avoid wasting food is to freeze things that look like they’re about to go bad. Fruit that’s past its prime can be frozen and used in smoothies. Make double batches of soups, sauces and baked goods so you’ll have an alternative to ordering takeout when you don’t feel like cooking.

13. Use curbside pickup

About 29% of shoppers admitted that seeing an item that looked too good to pass up led to impulse purchases. Using curbside pickup can help prevent you from purchasing unplanned items.

14. Check the top and bottom shelves

Wise grocery stores know that eye level is where the most sales happen. In fact, consumers select about 80% more products at eye level than at the bottom shelf. So next time you’re out shopping, take a quick look up and down — you may find a better deal hidden out of sight.

Additional grocery saving tips

Need more ideas on how to save on your food bill? Here are some additional tips that can help.

  • Choose generic — One survey found that 50% of people said opting for generic products over name brand helped them save on groceries.
  • Drink more water — Recent data found that 17% of consumers cut back on purchasing beverages at the store due to rising inflation. Drinking more water may help you save what you would’ve otherwise spent on beverages.  
  • Pay with cash — Try going to the grocery store with cash — and only what you’ve budgeted for. Leave your credit or debit card at home. After all, you can’t spend what you can’t pay for.
  • Buy what’s in season — Food prices can vary depending on whether they are in season or not. When foods are out of season, they may be scarce — and therefore more expensive. Try to stick to buying foods that are in season.
  • Grow your own herbs — Herbs at your local grocery store might sometimes be expensive. Growing your own is one way to cut back on your grocery bill. 
  • Plan a meatless meal — Beef prices increased for three years straight from 2020 to 2022, and the USDA predicts other meat categories will rise in price in 2023. By planning a meatless meal every so often, you may be able to save some money on your grocery bill.
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat — Not all cuts of meat cost the same. You may be able to save money by choosing chicken thighs over chicken breasts, ground chuck over sirloin and pork loin over pork chops.
  • Ask for a discount — This won’t always work, but if you notice your food is close to expiring, ask the cashier for a discount. You may be able to save yourself a few dollars. 
  • Learn how to preserve food — If you have some fruit that’s going bad in your home, you may be able to preserve it by making and canning jam. Hopefully the more food you can save in your home, the less you’ll need to buy at the store.
  • Keep a running tally while you shop — Jotting down the prices of items you put in your cart or quickly crunching the numbers in your phone’s calculator can help you stay more aware of how much you’re spending.
  • Buy canned food — Canned food is often less expensive than fresh foods, so buying canned could stretch your food budget.
  • Shop sales — If you notice a food you often eat goes on sale, stock up if you have room in your budget. While you may spend more than you normally would up front, you’ll save yourself from having to purchase the item at full price in the future.  
  • Use rebate apps — Some apps provide cash back on certain purchases. Check to see if the items you need to buy at your next shopping trip may qualify.
  • Sign up for your store’s loyalty program — Some grocery stores have points or loyalty programs that can provide you with extra discounts when you shop.

Bottom line

Sticking to a food budget can take planning and discipline. However, learning how to budget groceries by being resourceful and cooking healthily is a skill that can benefit you for years to come.

Earn cash back on select debit purchases with Credit Karma Money™ Spend.



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Eating cheap is easy. Given $10 to buy ingredients for a meal for four, even the most hopeless home cook could whip up grilled cheese and tomato soup or a simple spaghetti-and-meatballs combo.

But putting together a gourmet dinner for under $10 is more challenging. So we asked food and finance bloggers, as well as home cooks, to send in their best suggestions. (We’ve shared them below with recipe details, or, where available, linked to their blogs.)

Now Frugal Foodie has a challenge you: what’s your best super-cheap yet gourmet meal? Post it in the comments, and don’t forget to “like” your favorite submissions.

(All cost estimates are based on non-sale New York City supermarket prices. If it’s a cheap meal inNYC, we figure cooks in most other places in the country will spend even less. Prices are also adjusted for quantity: if a recipe calls for half an onion, you’ll probably find something to do with the other half. Finally, estimates don’t take into account basic ingredients you likely already have, like flour, olive oil or dried spices.)

One Pan Chicken and Rice

by Hilary Allard of Sliced and Diced

Cost: $5.73, or $1.43 per serving.

Allard’s sauté uses one pot and is finished in the oven, minimizing dishes as well as cost. Even better, cooks can swap out Mexican flavors (black beans, cumin, scallions and tomatoes with green chilies) for Indian and Mediterranean variations without affecting their bottom line.

Caramelized Cauliflower Fritatta

by Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious

Cost: $7.08, or $1.77 per serving

Fresh herbs give Natkin’s frittata zing, but can make a big dent in the budget if you’re not already growing your own. (Those who are would pay just $5.59, or $1.40 per serving, and be able to include as many types of fresh herbs as Natkin suggests instead of using just a $1.49 bunch of parsley, as we calculated.)

Monday Spinach Rice Medley

by Katie Clark and Telly Kousakis of More Dough Than Dollars

Cost: $7.15, or $1.79 per serving

Inspired by a kitchen cleanout project, Clark’s meatless dish could easily be upgraded for a few dollars more by adding cooked, sliced sausage (her suggeston).

Strawberry Chicken Salad

by Frugal Foodie of

Cost: $8.49, or $2.12 per serving

Marinate a pound of chicken in a little olive oil, lemon juice and ground black pepper. Grill until cooked through, slice and set aside to cool. Tear up a head of romaine, and top with the chicken, sliced strawberries and a slices avocado. For a dressing, puree some of the remaining strawberries with a splash of balsamic vinegar (or alternately, a splash of olive oil and lemon juice) and some black pepper.

Venetian Chicken

by Nina Hoffman of

Cost: $8.95, or $2.24 per serving

Go ahead and buy a bottle of wine to add the optional two tablespoons in this slow cooker meal. You’re saving enough cash to justify the splurge.

Classic Turkey Chili

Maris Callahan of In Good Taste

Cost: $8.96, or $2.24 per serving.

Another great one-pot meal, Callahan’s chili could also be prepared in a slow cooker for a super-easy weekday dinner. Prepare it to your taste with different veggies and spices.

Polenta Pie

by Julie Arnheim of Rubbing Nickels

Cost: $9.58, or $2.40 per serving.

Ground turkey, polenta and fresh herbs are the most expensive ingredients in this take on shepherd’s pie, but you can economize further by preparing your own polenta (saves $2).

Cuban Shredded Beef

by Art Ginsberg of

Cost: $9.60, or $2.40 per serving

Shred this slow-cooked beef dish before serving it over rice or on a roll. (Frugal Foodie’s mom makes a version of this that subs out the green bell pepper for a few sliced white mushrooms.)

Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps & Srirachi Peanut Sauce

Renae Simeon of $10 Buck Dinners

Cost: $9.82, or $2.46 per serving.

The key to this kicky dish: a spicy Asian-style marinade. Substitute peanuts for the pine nuts, or eliminate the nuts altogether to cut $3 from the bill.

Taco Salad Bar

Jenetta Lea Penner of Frugal Freebies and Deals

Cost: $9.98, or $2.50 per serving

A family friendly taco bar can easily come in at less than $10, especially if you’re shopping the sales for ingredients, Penner says. Her picks for this version: ground beef (browned at home in your choice of spices), a tomato (chopped), cheddar (bought in block form and grated), a head of lettuce (torn), a can of black beans (drained and warmed) and a jar of salsa. It’s enough that you’ll probably have leftovers, too.

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie. the best FREE way to manage your money. Get started here!

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There’s nothing quite as exciting as receiving a gift card. Take that excitement and flip it backward, and that’s the level of disappointment you’ll have when you realize your card is MIA.

Tis the season for hectic activity where you might lose or misplace a gift card. It’s also the season for an unscrupulous person to lift it when you aren’t looking.

Regardless of why it’s missing, you’ll need to know how to replace it, or if you can replace it at all.

If possible, register the gift card as soon as you get it. Some retailers allow this, but others don’t.

Here are a few steps that you can take to recover your losses, but they don’t apply in all situations:

Save That Receipt!

Your receipt is proof that the card is paid for and belongs to you. If you received the card as a present, ask the giver for the receipt.

If she doesn’t have it, contact the store where the card was purchased. It’s best to worry about the receipt before a card is lost or stolen, but there still might be luck once it’s gone.

No promises there, though.

It’s important to know that even a receipt won’t help with replacing some gift cards.

GameStop, one of the most popular video game and game equipment retailers in the country, has a strict “No Replacement” policy, except where the law prohibits it.

This policy is in place, regardless of whether you do or don’t have a receipt. In fact, their gift card help page specifically states that cards “will not be replaced if lost or stolen.”

Call or Visit Customer Service

Time is of the essence, since gift cards may or may not require a PIN to spend the funds. Most don’t, so anyone who has the card can use it to make purchases.

If the card did allow you to register it, you’re a bit safer, but again, that’s not common. One retailer that’s more secure is O’Reilly’s Auto Parts.

They require a PIN to use their gift cards, so there’s more hope for replacing one that’s lost.

As soon as you know it’s gone, call or visit the customer service department of the retailer where it was purchased.

And be ready to give them as much information as you can about the card and where it was purchased.

Brace Yourself for Unrecoverable Funds

Although many retailers, such as Walmart, will replace a stolen card with your receipt, you might be out of luck if the card has been zeroed out.

Replacements are often based on the balance that the card has remaining at the time you report it missing. The retailer will transfer that balance over to a new card, and you can go on your merry way.

If the card was stolen and someone’s already gone shopping with it, don’t expect the retailer to assume that those purchases weren’t made by you.

Target and Best Buy are two other retailers that transfer the remaining balance to a new card if you’ve got a receipt. Keyword: Remaining.

With no identifying information at the point of sale, there’s no way to know who used the card and spent the funds, so what’s left is what you’ve got.

Online Gift Cards

Online retailers such as may require more information to recover a lost or stolen gift card.

It’s a bit more difficult to know if a digital gift card has been stolen until it’s used, and losing one usually mean the information has been deleted by you or someone else.

As with all other gift cards, the first thing to do is contact customer service.

If the card is registered to you, you can give them the information that they need to replace it, including the order number from when the card was purchased.

A lost or stolen gift card is a disappointment, to be sure. But you might have options.

The best thing to do is save your receipts and register every card you receive, if possible, as soon as you get them. If you can add a PIN, all the better.

The more identifying information that you can offer, the more likely your chances are for recovering the loss.

Retailers don’t necessarily want to make it difficult on you, but they have to protect themselves against loss, too.

Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.

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Daily deal websites are a dime a dozen these days, from Groupon, to Living Social and Tippr, to the hundreds of smaller sites aspiring to ride the wave of group buying success.

To be sure, the deals can be pretty great. But signing up to get all of the alerts means your inbox will be inundated with daily deal emails, not to mention the time you’ll spend sifting through to find those that meet your needs.

Enter daily deal aggregators. A handful of companies are doing the work for you by aggregating all of the Internet deals into one place. Some will send you targeted deals while others will list all of the deals per day on their site. Yahoo is even incorporating offline deals like direct marketer coupons into its service. Either way, these free services promise to take the work out of discount hunting and leave you with what you’re truly after: the discounts.

YipIt offers up recommendations

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the past year, you’ve probably heard of Groupon and LivingSocial — the two biggest group-buying daily deal websites. But there are hundreds of smaller ones out there.  YipIt, a New York-based daily deal aggregator, had mulled launching a daily deal service, but decided instead to be an aggregator, betting that the number of daily deal sites will explode — which has happened, indeed.

 “It’s very easy to launch one of these deal websites so we took a bet with the new service and launched in five cities,” in February, says Jim Moran, co-founder of YipIt.  At launch, YipIt counted 2,000 users. Less than a year later, it is now in twenty cities, with 85,000 subscribers.

Recognizing that people don’t want deals for the sake of the deal, YipIt customized its service so that subscribers only get offered deals that are relevant to them. Subscribers get to pick and choose their categories of interest. Let’s say you’re into spas and shopping, but don’t eat out much. YipIt will only send you deals on spas and shopping and not flood your inbox with restaurant discounts. “If we don’t find anything that matches your preferences, we won’t send it to you,” Moran says.

YipIt makes money from the daily deal websites, but Moran said the company maintains its independence and won’t be swayed to feature one deal more prominently than another. Subscribers only get seven offers a day, even though YipIt works with close to 250 sites. 

“We have a team of about 15 curators that work around the country to ensure that the smaller sites still get attention,” he says.

Yahoo takes it online and off

Not to be left out of the daily deal craze, in November Internet heavyweight Yahoo announced it would be getting into the local deal aggregation market with its Yahoo Local service. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo inked partnerships with twenty companies to provide a combination of daily deals and discounts from local direct marketers like ValPak, which sends coupon books to people’s homes.  Some of Yahoo’s partners include Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt City and BuyWithMe. Yahoo plans to ink more partnerships going forward.  

 “Our strategy with this program is to build the most comprehensive store of deals available online,” says Matt Idema, vice president of Yahoo! Local. “We are trying to get every local offer available to you in one place.” Idema noted that Yahoo will use its targeting technology to make sure subscribers get coupons and deals that are relevant to them.

While Yahoo could have created its own daily deal site, Idema says an aggregation service meets a need. “Consumers don’t have time to get through everything,” he says.

Yahoo’s service is currently in testing phase. Idema wouldn’t say when it will be rolled out to the masses, nor would he disclose the ultimate destination online for this service. lists them all, out of New York City, is another company that is going after the aggregation market. But unlike Yahoo and YipIt, it isn’t customizing the deal for subscribers. Launched at the end of August, it currently lists all the daily deals within 14 cities from around two dozen daily deal websites. The company is constantly expanding to add more deals and more cities.

“There are so many sites and clones that once you subscribe in that circus, you are inundated with all these emails. It’s almost too much information,” says founder and chief executive officer Limor Elkayam.

While the competition in the deal aggregation market is heating up, Elkayam says there’s enough room for multiple players and the whole idea of a daily deal isn’t a flash in the pan idea that will quickly sputter out.  But chances are, she notes, that the model of offering daily deals will go through iterations, with some companies emerging as niche players in certain areas.

“People just want to save money even if the economy is in a better position than last year,” said Elkayam  “Whether the economy is good or bad, saving money isn’t a fad.”

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Ever buy a Groupon or other daily deal voucher you never used?  You have several options: write off the money you spent as a loss, try to sell the coupon on eBay or Craigslist, or take a more targetted approach, thanks to a handful of websites that have recently sprung up to act as a secondary market for those vouchers.

Some charge fees sell your coupons, while others act as free services similar to Craigslist. In many cases you can end up getting face value for your voucher – it would be as if you never bought it in the first place.

“A lot of times people miss out on a deal or bought something they didn’t use,” so creating a secondary market made sense, says Yael Gavish, the chief executive officer of San Francisco, Calif.-based Lifesta.

Lifesta, which launched in July, charges sellers $0.99 and 8% of the sale price on any voucher that gets sold. The process is simple: You upload your coupon and Lifesta sells it for you. You get paid through Amazon Payments, a service similar to PayPal.  The money is deposited into your Amazon account as soon as Lifesta is paid. You can then either get the money transferred to your banking account or use it toward purchases.

Lifesta doesn’t impose any restrictions on how you price the voucher, but Gavish says that most sellers post the amount they paid for it, or less if it’s about to expire.

Buyers on Lifesta are also protected. The company offers a sixty-day money back guarantee in case the voucher is fake or has already been used. (It is largely thanks to that guarantee, Gavish says, that Lifesta resells a lot of pricey deals, like sky diving coupons and expensive hair treatments.)

So far, tens of thousands of dollars worth of deals have been uploaded to and sold on Lifesta. The website operates nationwide.

Pay for protection

Chicago, Ill.-based DealsGoRound started out as a free service similar Craigslist, simply connecting buyers and sellers online, but leaving them to make all arrangements of the actual sale. Recently, the website switched to a model in which it facilitates the sale.

“You see something on the site, you buy it and get the email certificate in seconds,” says Kris Petersen, the founder and chief executive officer of DealsGoRound. “There’s no real communications between the buyer and the seller. Once you post you don’t even know who buys it.”

DealsGoRound, which uses PayPal to pay sellers, takes a 10% commission from each sale and has a sixty-day refund policy, but Peterson says in the ten months it has acted as a reseller it has not had even one problem with a voucher. The company has more than 1,000 users and is available nationwide. According to Petersen, vouchers are posted from about 50 different daily deal websites.

While the resellers don’t need the permission of the daily deal websites to resell the vouchers, Petersen says he did contact them when he first launched the service in response to being stuck with unused vouchers for a Segway tour. The result: nothing.

“The most common response was no response,” says Petersen. “The smaller daily deal websites were excited about it.”

CoupRecoup lets you sell for free

CoupRecoup, out of San Francisco, Calif., doesn’t charge users a fee to sell their vouchers, but it also doesn’t provide a money back guarantee or get involved in the sale process at all. Katherine Woo, co-founder of CoupRecoup, says the website was started after she tried to sell a daily deal on Craigslist and got no response.

Unlike the other websites in that space, CoupRecoup doesn’t generate profits. “It’s a public service,” says Woo. “It’s free.” Sellers list their vouchers and then make their own arrangements to meet an interested buyer and complete the transaction. You can set your own price, but there is also an option to accept the best offer.

CoupRecoup is currently available in 62 cities and will add additional ones if there is demand. Woo says the company doesn’t charge money because users haven’t been clamoring for buyer protection. “It’s a pretty low-key model that’s working well,” she says.

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