Makauli’i Hawaii (Saving Money in Hawaii)


Aloha from the beautiful island of Maui!  Our family is enjoying this warm, tropical paradise and using coupons in a new place.  What?!  Couponing while on vacation?  Yup!  We met our extended family in Maui and are staying in a beautiful condo on the beach.  We’ve been doing lots of our own cooking so I was excited to see what I could do with my coupons.

Prior to leaving, I researched grocery stores in the area of our condo.  As you can imagine, I was thrilled to find a Safeway close by.  I reviewed the weekly ad and matched up my coupons to their sale.   I was ready to conquer with my binder in hand!  But…I wasn’t completely prepared for the high prices.

I knew food would be more expensive than Missoula, but we paid $6.50 for a gallon of milk and $4.59 for a gallon of gas.  Hawaii’s prices are extremely high because most everything has to be shipped to the island.   So, even with my coupons and smart shopping, I barely scored a receipt worth bragging about.   My coupons weren’t as successful as I thought, but I still saved money using them and thought it was worth the effort.

The key to my savings came not from the coupons, but from bringing a lot of our own food.  We packed an entire large suitcase full of food. Most people think you can’t do this, but the airlines allow food in checked bags.

We packed spices, coffee, tea, cereal, taco seasoning, gravy mixes, peanut butter, dried beans, rice, jelly, mac and cheese, Ziploc bags, oatmeal, green sprinkles for St. Patrick’s day, laundry detergent (a big savings!) and 22 lbs of frozen meat.  Even after 8 hrs on the plane, the meat was still completely frozen!

People don’t think about bringing food with them, but this saved us lots of money AND lots of useless time in the grocery store.  Plus, it provided us with some incredible meals…macadamia nut encrusted homegrown pork chops with coconut-lime rice and grilled local avocadoes with fresh pico de gallo!

Our cousin rivaled our food savings with his ingenious savings on fishing poles!  Instead of buying the equipment prior to coming he waited until arriving in the islands.  And even then, he didn’t head right to the local tourist trap and pay a fortune for the poles.  He stopped by a local garage sale and bought 2 poles for $15!  The really cool thing?  He told the gentleman, that he’ll return them when his trip is over.  Now, that’s recycling at its best!

Other ways we saved:  Going to Farmers’ Markets for produce.  Not only did we save money and support local farming, but we enjoyed unusual tropical produce the grocery stores don’t carry!  Instead of renting snorkel gear, we packed our own which saved us $50 each day.  My sister-in-law and I shopped for Kona coffee and other souvenirs at the local Long’s (CVS) drug store instead of hitting the touristy stores.   And our kids really enjoyed themselves at a small local craft market where they bought various handmade crafts for $1-$3.

Probably our biggest price slash was pineapple.  Using our Safeway Club card, we purchased 10 local Maui Gold pineapples for .79/lb and will bring them back to the mainland!  Our #1 trip tip: don’t be fooled by “Airport Ready” Pineapples (3/$25.00) — a total scam!

We are disappointed about running out of time to hit the local thrift store.  We’re pretty sure we could score some great deals on Hawaiian themed T-shirts, home décor items, coffee mugs, etc.  That’s our goal next time!

I know…you’re sitting there thinking I’m crazy, right? Who would waste time saving money while on vacation?  Well, since I’m writing this blog sitting on a beautiful, white sand beach with a slight tropical breeze, the smell of exotic flowers in the air and sipping on a pina coloda…I’m pretty sure I’m not the crazy one!

My motto always is:  Save money on the dumb stuff (e.g. toilet paper, soap, deodorant, etc) and give yourself the power of choosing how you want to spend your money!  I’m thinking I’ve chosen pretty wisely this week!  ALOHA!

Going on vacation soon?  Have questions about how you can save money on your trip?  Scroll down and leave them for me in the Comment section below.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian.  Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for her family.