By now, you know you face financial choices every day, from the grocery store, to entertainment, to vacation plans.
One of the most frequent financial choices you make involves grocery shopping. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates a family of four spends $837.00 per month on groceries.* Using a few simple strategies will help keep your cupboards full without emptying your wallet.
Meal Plan Around Specials and Discounts
Plan meals around the coupons you have and the discounts you find in weekly ads. Items tend to go on sale every 4-6 weeks. Use your calendar or smart phone to track when your favorite items go on sale, and stock up on non-perishables during that time.
Buy Bottom Shelf or Top Shelf
Heavily promoted and more expensive items are usually at eye level. Often times, better deals on similar items are found on the top or bottom shelves. Also, don’t overlook the store brands. Many times these items are made at the same facilities as the regular brands. The only difference? You are paying for the packaging and marketing for the name brands.
Take Advantage of Farmers Markets
Get delicious, fresh produce at your local farmers market. You can even stock up on fresh items like onions, peppers, and mushrooms by dicing and freezing them to use in recipes throughout the year. For a list of local farmers markets in the Corridor, visit hillsbanklivelocal.com within “Experience Local Life.”
Another daily dilemma is entertainment costs, including everything from movies, music and games to sporting events and recreational activities. According to the US Department of Labor, the average consumer spends $2,504 a year on entertainment.^ Here are a few ideas to save on entertainment without getting bored.
Save on DVDs, CDs, and Books
You can find great deals on used DVDs, CDs, and books at consignment shops and used book or CD stores. Don’t forget, you can also get all these for free at your local library.
Visit Local Museums
Luckily, the Corridor has several area museums rich with fantastic exhibits. You can learn and have fun at the same time!
Watch Local Theatre
Spend an evening at a local theatre and support local actors. Many of these productions strive to present professional caliber performing arts while going easy on the entertainment budget.
Enjoy Local Music
You don’t have to travel a long way racking up hotel and gas bills to hear great music. Catch a live band at a local music hot spot. The Corridor has several great venues where you can support local musicians, especially during the summer.
Experience Local Life
There are a lot of inexpensive and even free family friendly events happening year-round throughout the Corridor. A simple online search is a great way to find activities the entire family can enjoy.
When planning your upcoming vacation, consider a stay-cation for a family getaway. Eastern Iowa has several great destinations right in our own backyard. Live Local and try some of these excursions.
The Amana Colonies is surrounded by thousands of acres of prairie, farmland, riverbottom, and timber. Not only does it offer handcrafted shopping experiences and fantastic food, but it also is a perfect setting for biking, hiking, golf, and birding. Visit amanacolonies.com to learn more.
Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines
The Blank Park Zoo has more than 1,000 furry, finned, and feathered creatures waiting to meet YOU! Learn more at blankparkzoo.com.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home, Quasqueton
Frank Lloyd Wright built a home for Agnes and Lowell Walter in 1948 in Quasqueton overlooking the Wapsipinicon River. It’s the only Wright structure in Iowa constructed with the signature red tile which was used to indicate that everything was designed by Wright himself. Learn more at franklloydwrightsites.com.
Wilton Candy Kitchen
Visit the oldest ongoing ice cream parlor/soda fountain in the world! Founded by R.A. McIntyre in 1860, the Wilton Candy Kitchen has been serving lunches, ice cream, and candy for over 150 years. Visit wiltoncandykitchen.com to learn more about this unique Iowa treasure.
These are just a few of the great getaways in Eastern Iowa. You’ll have a memorable experience without breaking the bank. Talk to family and friends about the unique adventures they have had in our local communities, or better yet – share your experiences in the comment box below. We’d love your hear your favorite Iowa destinations and ways you help save every day!Sources: *Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, U.S. Average, January 2014. ^US Department of Labor Annual Average Expenditures and Income of All Consumer Units.