Where I shop, what I buy & how I save

If you’ve been following this blog, you probably already know that I live a pretty simple life – and that’s the way I like it.

While I do my fair share of shopping, I’m careful to never go over my budget.

That doesn’t mean I’m clipping coupons for everything, though I do use the cash back app Ibotta for groceries and TopCashBack for online purchases.

Read on to learn more about where I shop, what I buy and how I save:


Kroger or Publix – I shop mostly at these regional grocery stores. Both have decent dairy, bakery and produce sections.

I like combining Ibotta with Kroger’s “Buy 5, Save 5” and Publix’s “BOGO” deals.

Sprouts or Fresh Market – Excellent meat and seafood selection.

Trader Joe’s – I like to stock up on frozen items at Trader Joe’s that I can eat when I don’t have the energy to prepare something fresh.

Some of my favorite items from Trader Joe’s:

  • Turkey meatballs
  • Frozen asparagus
  • Frozen Brussels sprouts
  • Riced cauliflower
  • Frozen mixed berries
  • Mixed nuts
  • Mojito salmon
  • Pizza dough
  • Hummus
  • On-the-go salads

Aldi – While I don’t shop at Aldi for most of my groceries, I do make the 20-minute drive every so often to buy pantry staples.

Olive oil, sugar, spices and many of the packaged snack items are a great value.

Read this next: Cash back apps: Ibotta vs. Checkout 51


I try to shop for clothes as little as possible, but I’ve learned to stick with the stores where the clothes fit me well enough that I don’t need to alter them.

For me, Gap and Banana Republic are good options, including their online outlet stores.

I recently read an article that described the trouble Gap and Banana Republic have been going through, which might explain why things are always 40% off.

I also find a lot of affordable dress shirts and slacks at Nordstrom Rack.


I chose to buy new furniture when I moved back to Atlanta, and I shopped the sales for high-quality items that will last a long time.

For instance, my couch from Crate & Barrel was marked down from $899 to $499. Not bad.

I also didn’t rush to furnish everything right away, which gave me the flexibility to wait until items went on sale at stores like Crate & Barrel, West Elm and local stores.

For home accents, T.J. Maxx is my favorite, hands down. Here’s what I like there:

  • Candles
  • Sheets
  • Bath towels
  • Throw pillows
  • Adult coloring books
  • Kitchen items
  • Dog beds / bowls
  • Baskets
  • Hand soaps
  • Random gifts

T.J. Maxx also owns HomeGoods, which has a lot of the same items.


I try to keep a three-month stockpile of household and personal items so that I don’t make too many trips to Target and Walmart, which can lead to mindless spending.

Sometimes I’ll shop on Amazon if I have a gift card from the Swagbucks that I earn online.


Now that I have a car again, I have to fill it up with gas every two weeks or so. I find the best price using the GasBuddy app — and it’s usually at QuikTrip.


I’m currently with GEICO. I pay my premium for six months at once. When my renewal comes, I shop around for a lower rate.

There are free comparison services online, but be prepared for lots of calls and emails at once.


I have recently booked most of my trips using points I’ve earned through Southwest’s credit card.

As for hotel rooms, I like Priceline and Hotwire, though at times the hotels have not been in the neighborhoods they claim to be.

I’ve learned my lesson and now check the forums at BetterBidding.com before booking.

I’ve had great experiences with CarRentals.com. Unless it’s a long road trip, I get a small car. Remember to fill up the gas tank yourself before returning it.

I use TopCashBack to save even more for these online purchases, usually an extra 5%.


After having cell phone service with Republic Wireless and Verizon, I’m now with Sprint because they cut my Verizon bill in half.

My experience has been okay, but I’ll likely switch to a low-cost provider in 2017.

I think the key to saving on cell phone service has less to do with the data plan and more to do with the type of phone you buy – and how often you switch phones.

If you keep your phone for two years or longer, you’ll save a lot of money.

Read this next: Get Rich Guide: Save money in every budget category

Some of my stories on Clark.com: 


  1. Willa Mathison August 29, 2016
    • Michael August 29, 2016

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