Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Freebies, Deals, Coupons

Here's a list for ya!

Gratituesday: the Book



I was sitting on the living room floor watching Baby rip his train off the tracks and insert it into his mouth when I was struck by something - books. Not just any books. MY books. In front of me is a bookcase towering FULL of books of all kinds. One book caught my attention - my Bible. Actually, the number of bibles on my shelves caught my eye.

A couple weeks ago we had a guest pastor speak at church. He spoke of his days as a young man leading groups from his church to smuggle bibles into communist China. He spoke of his first trip - the fear, the anxiety, and the Grace. He spoke of the complete thankfulness of the Chinese recipents of their bibles - something they were severely lacking.

I have never suffered to get a bible. I have never faced the possibility of prison for having a bible. We have such easy access, yet we often don't read. I know I give in to the tyranny of the urgent far too often. I imagine a conversation with the Lord. "Do you know I desire only good for you even if it seems bad at the time?" "Yes, Lord." "Do you know I love you?" "Yes, Lord." "Have you read the love letter I wrote for you?" "Bits and pieces of it, Lord."

I think how I poured over love letters from my hubby, drinking up every word. How I long to do the same with God's love letter. I am so blessed to have 8 copies in my house. Now, I just need to read them!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Menu Planning Monday




Well, we are in the throes of redecorating and moving rooms around! We didn't get to put our fingerprint on the house much when we moved in last year since Baby decided to come a month early - just a month after moving in! We (well, Hubby) finished Baby's room while we were recovering in the hospital. We are switching our office and guest rooms. The "new" office is getting a fresh coat of paint - ceiling and closet and all - to turn it from a deep brown with a bright purple closet and beige trim (have I mentioned I am NOT a fan of beige) to a steel grey with bright white trim and black accents. Hubby installed a nice new ceiling fan. The plaster repair is finished and everything is primed. The ceiling is painted and the new fan is up.

Here are a couple before pictures - actually pictures from before we bought the house so it isn't even our stuff!

The back corner:




And the purple closet.

I'll post when we have after shots! By the way - the sellers were great in making everything neutral, but I am so sick of beige!

This week, being a holiday week, is full of craziness. We will be making a trip to visit my parents and go to the Pittsburgh Zoo (free, thanks to local zoo membership) plus we will go back to the church where we were married and will visit good friends who are coming into town.

Here's our plan!
Monday: Meat Pie (recipe below - a family favorite)
Tuesday: Chicken Alfredo
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes
Thursday: Baked Crock Pot Chicken (I forgot to thaw my chicken last week)
Friday: dinner at the zoo
Saturday: cookout at parents house
Sunday: Papa John's pizza in the park as we meet our friends

Meat Pie:
1lb ground beef
3-4 servings mashed potatoes/potato buds
frozen corn or peas
shredded cheese
1 pie crust
1 packet/jar gravy

Preheat oven to 375.
Brown and season meat
Prepare mashed potatoes as directed
Pour meat into bottom of pie pan
Cover meat with a sprinkling of shredded cheese
Mix frozen vegetable into finished mashed potatoes
Cover meat with potatoes
Cover pie with 1 pie crust
Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Serve and top with hot gravy. Yum!

More Diaper Talk

I just wanted to point you toward details of a great Pampers and LUVS sale through Amazon.com. Check out all the details on Melissa's Bargain Blog. Save 30% on select diapers! The deal is good through 6/30/09.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ethical Couponing


I am the firstborn child. I am a rule-follower. Down to my very core. Can I be legalistic - goodness, yes! Daily struggle. Even driving more than 3 mph over the speed limit gets me a little on edge (yes, I do speed from time to time).

I carry my rule-following nature into my bargain hunting. I am realizing that many clerks and managers don't really understand how coupons work. I have heard stories of cashiers refusing to take a coupon because it would make the item free and the store doesn't give away freebies because that would be stealing (that cashier didn't realize the store gets reimbursed for manufacturer coupons). I have had a couple run-ins where I have had to explain why I am right when using my coupons. I want to make CERTAIN that I am doing my deals on the up and up just in case I have to clarify to a manager.

We all want to play nice. We want the coupons to keep coming. Manufacturers have a specific intent in their coupons that we need to follow to stay on the up and up. Here are some big no-no's I have gotten as I venture into coupon-land to keep us all from committing coupon fraud.
  • Using a coupon for product xyz when coupon is actually for product abc
  • Photocopying a printed coupon (most can legally be printed twice per computer by using the back button on your browser). Internet coupons are regulated by the manufacturer to only allow so many prints.
  • Using more than one coupon in one transaction that states "one per transaction"
  • Knowingly slipping more coupons to cashier than products you have on hand
There is a coupon course out there that teaches bar code matching. Theoretically, if certain numbers in the bar code of a product match a coupon, no matter if the product itself matches, the coupon will work. Manufacturers clearly state in writing on the coupon what products that coupon may be used on. Using a coupon for a kitchen cleaner on laundry detergent just because the bar codes match, in my opinion, just is not ethical. The manufacturer's intent was clear. Many companies have a generic portion of the bar code that appears on all products and coupons.

Stay tuned next week to learn all about shopping for deals at CVS!

Happy deal hunting!

Friday, June 26, 2009

How to Buy Diapers Cheaply


Diapers - the bain of every budget. Before I started deal hunting, I thought I was doing a great job saving money if I bought the big "economy" size box. It started with the economy size of the Pampers Swaddlers, then we tried the slightly less expensive Huggies Supreme, then moved to Luvs. At this point I thought we were REALLY saving a lot of money. Our last stop was on Target brand diapers (we had tried quite a few store brand diapers that weren't great at all - we had great success with Target brand).

Yes, I did save money. The cost per diaper of the economy packs IS less than the cost per diaper of the smaller packs. But, now that I know better, I can do better with my deals on diapers. I now buy almost exclusively the Jumbo pack of diapers - generally the smallest pack.

How is it possible to save money by buying the smaller packs with higher per diaper cost? Easy answer - coupon pairing.

At the grocery store, I am able to pair an e-coupon on my Kroger card from either Cellfire or Shortcuts (usually can get one Huggies coupon from each monthly so I can do this deal twice a month) with a paper coupon either printed from the internet, from the newspaper, or from a company mailing. I like to wait for a sale on the diapers to lower the cost even more. When I am finished with the transaction, I can submit my receipt to Caregivers Marketplace for a $.75 rebate (on any Huggies jumbo packs or Balmex products).

My decent diaper deals look like this:
  • Huggies Jumbo pack - $9.99 on sale for $8.99
  • Use Shortcuts coupon on Kroger card for $1.50
  • Use paper coupon from mailing for $1.50
  • Submit receipt for rebate of $.75
  • Jumbo pack is now $5.99 before the rebate and $5.24 after rebate making the diapers roughly $.16 per diaper depending on how many are in the pack.
The best diaper deal will be starting July 5th when K-Mart has their super double coupons again. Start stocking up on coupons now to make the most of this deal! There will be a $5 off of $50 purchase coupon coming out soon for the week of the doubles (call K-Mart corporate at 1-866-562-7848 to see if your store is participating - many local stores don't know for sure). Pair that with doubled coupons up to $2 and it is a sweet deal!

A couple last ways to get diapers cheaply:
  • sign up for free samples as often as you can - Walmart offers free samples through their website often. Click on In Stores Now to find the samples.
  • email your favorite diaper company and compliment them - they will many times send out coupons. Huggies sent me $3 in coupons for complimenting the Overnights diapers.
  • sign up online for rewards programs for diapers - you often get coupons mailed to you
  • try to qualify for diaper studies through Arquest. Call 1-888-342-7372 and connect to Diaper Studies. Leave a message with your name, number, and baby's diaper size. If you fit a study they are doing, they will mail you free diapers to try and a check for $10 after completing the exit survey.
Happy deal hunting!

Handbag Giveaway


Click on over to Momma in Flip Flops 2 to check out her fantastic review and giveaway of handbags from Handbag Heaven. These are awesome bags! If I would win her gift card giveaway, I would purchase the Zebra Secret Agent bag!

Freebies, Deals, Coupons


Here's another list of freebies, deals, and coupons!
  • Free Chocolate Friday!
  • Free Glidden paint - one quart. Click through to choose your color!
  • Summer sale at Old Navy. Starting Friday, June 26th through June 28th, Old Navy will be offering up $5 swimsuits and shorts! Click here for coupon hunting page. Click on "get their no-sweat style" for a 15% off entire purchase coupon!
  • Free Joint Juice coupons sent to your email inbox
  • Quizno's buy 1 get 1 free coupon
  • $5 off $25 coupon for Longhorn Steakhouse
  • Free patriotic music sampler download from Amazon
  • Preview of K-MART SUPER DOUBLES!!! Check out the details at Hip to Save

Thursday, June 25, 2009

THAT Moment


I don't know if I should actually post this. It is quite a bit heavier than the usual. It's been a pretty heavy day, though. The celebrity deaths have brought a lot back.

A couple months ago, I lost a dear high school friend to liver cancer. He left behind a wife and three small children between the ages of 6 years and 8 months. He was diagnosed just weeks before he lost his battle.

Nearly a year ago, just days after my baby shower, I lost a long-time family friend to lung cancer. Another very close family friend - practically a second father to me growing up - was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is fighting with all he has.

Over the years, I have lost 5 of my students to various diseases and accidents including one 4-year-old. I have walked with friends who have buried spouses. I have rejoiced with those who have beaten their cancers. I was blessed to know all my grandparents and 2 great-grandmothers. All have since passed.

All of this makes me long for Heaven. No more pain. No more suffering. No more sickness. No more death. The last verse of Rock of Ages keeps running through my mind:

As I draw this fleeting breath
When my eyes shall close in death
When I soar to worlds unknown
See Thee on Thy judgment throne
Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
What is THAT moment like? The moment where you know you are about to leave this world? The moment when you face the certainty of death? The moment that bridges two worlds? I think of my high school friend. He was a very strong Christian who loved Jesus dearly. I know he is dancing with Jesus on streets of gold. I know he would have one thing to say to his children as they walk through life, "Be there." Out of everything he could say, I believe he would say to them, "Be there. Be in Heaven when your journey in this life is over. I'll be waiting."

It's not about rules. It's not about religion. It is about a relationship with the One who lived a sinless life. The One who took all our sins on Himself. The One who was tortured and who died on the cross. The One who conquered death itself. The One who went ahead to prepare a place for us. The One who knows how many hairs we each have on our heads. The One who longs for us to draw near and call on Him as Savior and Lord.

What is THAT moment like? Will you be there?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swagtastic!


Have I told you lately I love Swagbucks?

I have been using Swagbucks as my search engine since April. I have downloaded the toolbar and I became a fan on Facebook. I occasionally do Swagcode hunts for extra points. I have a few friends under me who net me points as well. I could follow Swagbucks on Twitter and participate in Twitter promotions, but I have not done that yet. I have received $20 since I started and I am waiting for $10 more to clear in the next few days! Once I hit 45 bucks, I "cash out" and buy a $5 Amazon gift card.



Is this hard? No. Bucks are randomly awarded during normal web searching. Do I have to get an Amazon gift card? No. There are thousands of prizes you can choose! How else can I earn bucks? You can shop online at regular stores by starting with Swagbucks. A certain number of bucks will be awarded per dollar you spend at the participating store. You can trade in old video games, cell phones, and ipods for bucks. These items will be safely recycled. Does Swagbucks spam? Not at all.

There is one element that has confused me recently. My account says I have 48 points, but I was not able to cash out. I discovered that other sites offer swagbucks that can only be used on their sites. These bucks are listed separately on the account page.

Last question - is it worth it? Totally! Between surveys and Swagbucks, I have earned over $60 in Amazon cards. This has really helped our gift giving budget!

Happy swagging!

Freebies, Deals, Coupons

Here are some freebies and deals I found today!

Grocery Budget Challenge


At the start of the month of June, I challenged myself in the area of the grocery budget. We normally spent around $350 on groceries for the three of us (Baby was mostly nursed so not much went to him). I knew I could do better. I challenged myself to cut back to just $200 for one month. I did my last grocery trip of the month and wanted to report on how that challenge went.

I am pleased to say that I cut our grocery spending by a little more than $100 this past month! I DID go over budget, but honestly, that was a conscious decision during my trip today. I looked at what we needed and knew I could bring us in under budget. I also looked at how Kroger is my weak spot and that I need to limit the number of my trips. I spent $50 extra dollars today to get the things we needed to get through the first week in July. I was pretty happy with this total!

As we approach July, think about how much you can cut out of your grocery budget! Our budget will be different this coming month because of a week of vacation. Our budget for groceries will be about $200 (I am leaving a little wiggle room for the next K-Mart super double promotion) but our eating out budget will greatly increase. We have been saving up for just this occasion.

Let me know how you are cutting back this month!

Here are some links to help you cut that budget:
  • shortcuts.com - add coupons directly to your shopper card
  • cellfire.com - more coupons to add directly to your shopper card
  • pgesaver.com - even more coupons to add directly to your shopper card
Remember to give your shopper card to the cashier first! You can also use paper coupons with the electronic coupons for more savings! One example - today I bought a jumbo pack of Huggies diapers. They were on sale for $8.99. I used a $1.50 coupon plus had another $1.50 electronic coupon. That brings the total to $5.99. I can also send my receipt to Caregivers Marketplace for a $.75 rebate on this purchase. My total for that pack of diapers is a sweet $5.24 or $.15 per diaper.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Freebies, Deals, Coupons

Here is a roundup of freebies, deals and coupons!

  • Always Infinity Sale at CVS - this is an unadvertised sale. The large box of Always Infinity is on sale from around $11 to $4.99. Pair that with the $4 coupon from the P & G insert from June and you get a box at $.99! There are reports of a limit of 3 boxes. I had 2 coupons and purchased 2 today and it worked great for me!
  • Free samples of Carefree and Stayfree products. These samples often come with high value coupons as well.
  • Avon is having a big sale while supplies last! Click here to see the deals. Plus, use this code HEAT2009 to get FREE shipping on $5 or more! (thanks Hip to Save)
  • Free sample of Kiss My Face Aromatherapy Shower Gel. (thanks free sample freak!)
  • Kraft Catalina deal (Catalina is a machine that prints coupons as you check out) through July 12. Get money off your next order when you purchase Kraft items! Check out the whole deal here thanks to Money Saving Mom!
  • Target gift card deal - I have not seen this deal posted on other blogs. Select Clairol Perfect 10 hair color will generate a $5 gift card at check out. There is a $5 coupon from a recent Redplum or Smartsource insert (sorry - I clip!). Hair color is $11.xx - $5 coupon = $6.xx out of pocket plus you get a $5 gift card back to use on your next trip!
  • Save $5 off of your $25 purchase at Babies R Us in store or online

Gratituesday: Boo-boo's and Microwaves


I am in the kitchen preparing French toast for breakfast. I hear Baby cry and Hubby comfort and redirect. A few minutes later, Hubby is in the kitchen cleaning blood off his hand. He thought he had cut himself and didn't realize it.

I finish preparing breakfast and serve it up in the family room. Baby is playing on the floor. Hubby is chowing down while I gather my food. Baby cries, Hubby brings baby up to the chair with him to snuggle. More mysterious blood appears on Hubby's arm.

We look at Baby and discover a large gash in his foot, dried blood all over his foot and leg, and fresh blood on his foot. Add to the picture a large streak of black grease across baby's face from where he tried to suck on the inner parts of the recliner just moments ago.

A few minutes later, the boo-boo was fixed in spite of the world's wiggliest baby. Hubby was able to finish his breakfast. Mine was cold. As usual. I think I have eaten TWO hot meals in the past week - if that.

For this Gratituesday, I want to sing the praises of the microwave! Thanks to this wonderful device, I am able to easily reheat my food to get a hot meal - not always anywhere near the actual mealtime, but still a hot meal.

Moments like this remind me of a scene from A Christmas Story where the mom keeps getting up to get food for the family and hasn't eaten a hot meal for herself in a decade! I love my job as a wife and mother and wouldn't change it for the world!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Menu Planning Monday


Well, the crazy week is over! It is time to return to a little normalcy! We have one big change here - Baby is quite mobile now! Thankfully hubby is around a lot for the rest of the summer to help me adapt to keeping the home and caring for a little guy who chases the dog (by crawling) all day!

We will have the usuals for breakfast and lunch - toast, eggs, cereal, pancakes, French toast for breakfast and soup, cold cuts, spaghetti o's, leftovers, chef boyardee, mac n cheese, or grill foods (hot dogs/hamburgers) for lunch.

Here's what we will be having for dinners!

Monday - grilled pork chops
Tuesday - enchiladas
Wednesday - roast chicken (whole chicken in crock pot) and crash hot potatoes
Thursday - beef stroganoff
Friday - burgers/dogs on the grill
Saturday - chicken tacos (with leftover roast chicken
Sunday - pizza

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Britax Car Seat Sale on Amazon

Hi all! I took a day off from posting yesterday since it was my birthday! I turned 29.... yet again! My darling hubby worked hard teaching music lessons and talking to other family for contributions and bought be a new front loading washing machine! In addition to being thrilled at the huge surprise (the old one came with this house and although it cleans really well, it also chews holes in clothes), he also let me pick it out and find the deal! I was able to find a scratch and dent $900 machine and purchase it for $550! The washer was discounted and we used a 10% off Lowes coupon as well. It should be delivered in just a few hours. I may take a folding chair to the basement and watch it spin....

In other news, Amazon is having a sale on Britax carseats. The Roundabout is priced at just $109 after a $50 savings at checkout. Melissa's Bargain Blog has all the details about the other models on sale.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Toy Deal

Toys R Us launched a new website that promotes a deal of the day. Today's deal is pretty sweet for those of you with younger kids! On sale for $5.99!

Toys.com

Free Chocolate Friday!


Get your coupon for free chocolate! Supplies are limited, so sign in soon!

Mars Free Chocolate Friday

CVS MoneyMaker Update

So, I hope you were able to get out and get your moneymaker! Reports are in that the stores have been emailed to pull the moneymaker items. Not all stores have removed the items, some cashiers are pushing the deals through. In my opinion, this deal is worth trying anyway. The risk/investment is low at just $2. The cleaners can be returned if the ECB's don't print.

Let me know if it is still working! Remember, there is a limit of one reward per account.

EDIT: The reported email does not seem to be across the board - just some stores. Not all stores carry the Style Science brand, but other brands are reported to work. Not all stores are carrying lens cleaners but there are reports that eyeglass cases are working as well. The cases have been $1.99 each. Still a good money maker, but not quite as good.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CVS MoneyMaker


I plan to post in a few days the ins and outs of CVS shopping. I had to post this money maker deal today though! If you shop CVS or want to start, get yourself an Extra Care card for free and do this deal! (If the deal stops working, you can either keep the $2 worth of product or return it)

The Deal

When you purchase 2 Style Science Lens Cleansing Cloths at $.99 each, $10 ECB's (Extra Care Bucks - money to use in the store) print! I cannot guarantee that this will work for everyone. I went out today and tried the deal and it worked for me. I found mine back by the sunglasses and reading glasses. It was a silver pouch with moist wipes in it. A BIG thank you to MoneySavingMom for pointing out this deal!


If you are new to CVS and do this deal, save your receipt! You will see the $10 ECB printed below the normal receipt. You can use that like cash on your next purchase of $10 or more in the store!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Deals and Freebies


As always, I will add to this post through the day as I unearth more deals!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gratituesday

I love Gratituesday.  It's a great way to remember to be thankful for all we have.  We are so incredibly blessed in so many ways.  

I am so thankful for God's provision financially.  We had a rocky past year.  We sold a home and lost a little money on the deal.  We moved across the country.  We had our first baby.  We adjusted to me staying at home.  We adjusted to a slightly higher mortgage payment. We replaced a transmission.  We sold a car and bought a van.  It's been quite a year.  

Little by little, God has been providing for us to dig our way back to financial freedom.  We have taken Financial Peace University and long for that freedom again - not that we've been completely out of debt, but I digress.

I am grateful that Hubby was able to teach a summer course at his University.  I am even more thankful that Friday is the last day of the class and that Hubby gets paid shortly after class ends!  I am so thankful for Hubby.  He has worked so hard to become a professor.  He works so hard at his job, always striving towards excellence.  He is such a good provider - he takes on extra jobs any chance he gets.  He is an excellent role model for our little baby boy!  Happy first Father's day, sweetie!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Menu Planning Monday


So, my plan for last week didn't go as planned! We did well and didn't eat out or buy anything last minute. We were blessed to have dinner with friends one night and we just switched some meals and created new things from our pantry. This will be another crazy week, so we'll see how well this plan holds up! Breakfast will be cereal and toast most mornings. We will have cinnamon rolls one morning and eggs or French toast another. Lunches will be sandwiches, leftovers, or canned raviolis.

Monday - Meatball Hogies
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - Chicken Alfredo
Thursday - Burgers/dogs grilled outside
Friday - special birthday lunch/dinner for ME!
Saturday - Dominos House Party for my Birthday!
Sunday - Dinner at the hometown Independent League Baseball game for Father's day

Awesome Mail Day!


Well, I was excited yesterday when the mail came. We received a check for $23 from Allstate as a reward for our clean driving records. That will pay for a special birthday lunch my hubby is taking me to on Friday. Today's mail was so much better! Here is what came:

  • free sample of Kotex overnights
  • free sample of Huggies Pull-ups
  • check for $8.xx from Opinion Outpost surveys
  • check for $150 from the local university where I filled in as a French horn player for a concert and recording session!
That money is already earmarked for MY OWN PERSONAL USE!! I have great plans for this money - my first pair of new glasses in 6 years! I have needed glasses for the past 4 years but they just weren't in the budget. I will be posting on my eyeglass adventures. I will get an exam at a local doctor covered under our vision insurance. I will get my glasses from an online retailer. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Old Navy Shopping


Now, I have not been an Old Navy fan. I am quite petite at not even 5 feet tall, so most of their clothing doesn't fit me right. Well, I have become more of a fan recently. First of all, I am no longer a teacher so more casual clothes work in my lifestyle. Secondly, I have discovered great ways to spend virtually no money and get clothes. I realize that the quality of Old Navy clothing isn't the greatest, but spending $2 on a sweater allows me to wear the sweater one season/year until it is worn out then replace it. How does this work? I have a few simple guidelines!

  • Old Navy Weekly. This website hosts a hunt for coupons each week. Each week, the site is reloaded with great coupons ranging from 15% off one item to $75 off of $100 purchase. To get a coupon, you click around the website. Sometimes items must be moved. Sometimes you need to watch a video and click something in the video. At one time there was a bbq grill that had to be clicked until smoking then the smoke had to be clicked to reveal the coupon. Hardcore bargain hunters have finding coupons on this website down to a science. The high dollar coupons tend to go quickly. Check on SlickDeals for information on when the site might reset with new coupons (Old Navy has been changing things up a bit) and where the coupons might be found.
  • Shop the clearance. I LOVE the Old Navy clearance! I will not pay more than $5 per item. That's my rule. I wait until clearance items are around $2 - $3 then I purchase. Items are usually out of season, but this is a great time to stock up for next year! I did find that the little boy clothes went quickly in clearance.
  • Shop the special sales. Occasionally, Old Navy will offer sales on particular items. I was able to hit the graphic T-shirt sale this summer for 2 T's at just $3 each!
  • Do the survey on the receipt. Receipts usually have an offer for a survey. It is so simple - just a phone call. There is no human to speak to, just computerized answers through your touchpad. At the end of the survey, you are given a code to write on the receipt. You have 90 days to use that receipt and get 10% off your purchases. Simple!
Happy bargain hunting!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

General Shopping Tips


I am currently enjoying a weekend with family celebrating my Aunt's birthday. Two of my cousins are in town to meet Baby for the first time. Both are completely petrified of babies. It was a hilarious meeting!

Anyway, I wanted to post some basic general shopping tips to help get you going on your way to savings. Remember, as you know better, you do better. Every little bit counts. At first I got quite discouraged because I wasn't seeing the savings that I thought I should. Now I realize that bargain hunting is hard work. It takes time and energy and LOTS of careful planning to get the best deals. I don't always have that time or energy. Sometimes, my time is worth more than the savings I would see. Here are some ways to save without going crazy.

  • Keep any coupons where you will remember to take and use them.
  • Don't be afraid to buy the store brand if it is cheapest - most of the time the quality is great).
  • Don't grocery shop on an empty stomach.
  • Bigger isn't always better. For example, the largest pack of diaper may have the lowest cost per diaper before coupons, but often the smaller packs end up having a lower cost per diaper after coupons.
  • Track your spending - give yourself a budget.
  • Remember, if it isn't free and you won't use it, you don't need to buy it.
  • Remember, deals will always come back around in some form or another. If you miss one big sale, don't worry - there will be another one.
  • Get the Sunday newspaper for coupons and clip the ones you will use (or file in your own system)
  • Print out the coupons you will use. Try coupons.com, smartsource.com, redplum.com, and couponbug.com.
  • Take a break from deal hunting every now and again for your own sanity!
Happy bargain hunting!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What a Shopping Day!


Well, I just finished a round of bargain hunting and think this was the best trip yet! Here's how it all worked. My hubby reminded me yet again that it is not savings if we spen money on things we will not use no matter how inexpensive.

Target:
6 baby food @ $.87 each
4 Glade candle tins @ $1.67 each (sale price)
1 Kashi fruit bar @ 2.89
2 Two-pack GE CFL lightbulbs @ $3. 48/pack (clearanced from $5.xx/pack)
1 Three-pack Bic Soleil Bella razors @ $4.39
1 8x10 Frame @ $2.98 (clearanced from $5.99)

Used:
4 $1.50 Glade coupons
1 $1.50 Kashi coupon
2 $1.00 GE coupons
1 $3.00 Bic coupon

Totals:
Before sales/clearances = $38.20
After sales/clearances = $29.12
After coupons/Out of pocket = $19.02
Saved: $19.18

JC Penney
Stafford Signature dress shirt @ $5.58 (originally $50.00)
2 Classic towel washcloths @$2.00 each (originally $4.99 each)

Used:
1 $10 off $10 purchase coupon gotten through mail

Total:
$1.65

CVS
There was a cart filled with 90% off merchandise!!! Good times!
1 Orbit gum @ $.99 saved $.30
3 Altoids @ $.19 saved $1.80 each
1 Children's Advil @ $.63 saved $5.66
1 Almay pure mineral foundation @ $.90 saved $12.39
1 Crayola beginners markers @ $.65 saved $5.84
1 CVS cough drop @ $.20 saved $1.70
3 TUMS Quick dissolve 24 ct @ $.58 each saved $5.21 each
1 Tylenol cold daytime 24 ct @ $.65 saved $5.84
1 8x10 photo (online promo) @ $0.00 saved $3.99

Used:
$4.00 Extra Bucks

Totals:
Original price total $72.67
Savings total $66.24
Paid $6.43 - $4 ECB = $2.43 out of pocket (paid with rebate card from Swiffer)

Entire Day
Original price $170.85
Savings total $147.75 (86.5%)
Paid (out of pocket inc gift card) $23.10

Rite Aid Basics

Bargain hunting at Rite Aid is fairly simple. Rite Aid has a rewards program called Single Check Rebates (SCR). Customers make their purchases in the store then enter 3 numbers from their receipt online. At the end of the month, customers can request their check which is mailed within 2-3 weeks.

How to get started
  • Set up an online myRiteAid account here.
  • Log in and check what rebates are offered for this month here.
  • Find any coupons you have for rebate items.
  • Go shopping.
  • Log in and enter receipt information here.
  • At the end of the month, check rebate status and request a check here (can be done at any time during the month. Note that once a check is requested, no more rebates will post for the month so be careful you have none pending before requesting).
Tips

  • Pay attention to the dates of the rebate offer. Some are open for multiple months, some just a week.
  • Watch for freebies! Sometimes a product will have the full value offered as a rebate. Get there fast! These go quickly! Some products will be free after coupon and rebate. Once again, these products sell out quickly.
  • Watch for special in store coupons. Rite Aid puts coupons in their newspaper inserts (also at store) plus on their website. There are also coupons that come out for gift cards for prescription transfers as well as occasional $5 off $25 purchase coupons.
  • Watch for diabetes meter coupons. This concept may sound strange, but it can be a win-win situation. Pair a meter coupon with a meter sale for a free meter (often a Bayer Contour meter on sale for $20 plus a $20 coupon from the paper). The meter helps get the total purchase high. When paired with a $5/$25 coupon, the $5 above the $20 meter is free. Make sure cashier rings all items then scans the $5/$25 coupon FIRST then scans all other coupons. To make it a win-win, if you do not need the meter yourself, give it to a friend or family member who does need it or donate it. Many shelters and women's clinics and churches can use them to give to those in need.
Other Savings

Happy bargain hunting!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Target Shopping Basics Addendum


One last, but probably the most important, way to save money shopping at Target is by shopping the end caps. Target puts its clearanced merchandise on the end caps all around the store. Pair clearance savings with coupons and in some rare occurrences gift card promotions, and you have some sweet deals!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Target Shopping Basics


Thus begins a series on shopping basics for each store.

Target used to be the store where I would get things that were a tad nicer than the stuff at Walmart and pay just a teensy bit more than the aforementioned Walmart. I avoided the food section because the prices seemed high compared to regular grocery stores. Even earlier this year, I was convinced that their diapers were the best way to go (I still really like their diapers and will buy them in a heartbeat if they are on clearance - it's all about cost per diaper). So, how do I get things cheaply at Target?

Two ways: Gift card promotions and Target printable coupons. Pairing the two make for the sweetest of deals. Here's how this all works.

Gift Card Promotions:
Target offers deals where they will offer a gift card back after purchasing specific items. For example, a current deal works like this:

Buy 2 Irish Spring or Softsoap Value Packs
Get a $5 Target gift card!
Valid from 5/19-7/13.
All value packs are price at $6 each
The following products are included in the gift card deal:
Softsoap Ensembles Base
2 pack of the Ensembles Refill
2 pack Irish Spring Body wash
2 pack Softsoap Body wash

Deal Scenario:
Buy 2 Softsoap Ensembles Value Packs $12
Use 2 $2 Target coupons or from the 5/31SS (Smart Source)
Plus, use 2 $2 coupons from here or from the CVS Reinventing Beauty Mag. w/Jennifer Aniston on the cover.
Pay $4
Get back a $5 Target gift card
Final cost FREE + a $1 moneymaker!
(Thanks, Hip to Save!)

I try to do deals like this that are free or moneymakers. The giftcard cannot be used on the initial purchase, so there is the $4 out of pocket expense, but then you have a $5 gift card to use on another deal that results in a gift card thus "rolling" the giftcard. I have gone to Target and spent very little out of pocket because of these gift cards. Once I bought $21 worth of items and spent $3 out of pocket.

Target Store Coupons:
Target offers coupons on their website that can be used in their store only. These store coupons can be paired WITH a manufacturer coupon for great savings! Current Target coupons can be found here. These coupons can also be printed at the kiosk at the store where you find baby registry information. Past coupons that have not yet expired can be found here. I will caution you to read the print on the coupon. Some may say just one per purchase (one for each item purchased) and some say one per transaction (only one can be used before each payment - may have to go through the line multiple times).

Here is an example of pairing store and manufacturer coupons:
Colgate Wisp (4 ct) $1.99
Use the .50 Target coupon
Plus, use the .50 coupon from here
Final cost .99!
(Thanks, Hip to Save!)

Finding the Deals
I recommend scouring the Target ads in the paper plus reading a blog or two that tracks Target deals. I really like Hip to Save for deal scenarios. I have found that since my Target is not a Super Target, some of the deals differ - the prices, especially on grocery items, differs from many blog posts. I also highly recommend carrying a copy of the Target Corporate Coupon Policy with you along with the phone number for Corporate. Many people are having problems using coupons at Target so being armed with this information often resolves issues.

Happy deal hunting!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gratituesday: Busyness


Busyness - not something many people are longing for. It isn't top on the list of desirable things, in fact, it is the antithesis of what is most often desired: rest. What would you rather have, a relaxing day watching movies on the couch or a day of running errands? Don't get me wrong, I love a day of being a vegetable as much as the next but I have been quite thankful for busyness lately.

I have spent the last year adjusting to about a bazillion changes. I went from being a busy middle school and high school music teacher to a full-time domestic engineer. I had something going on several nights a week plus at least one weekend each month, usually more. Add to that the busyness of church life with small group meetings, teaching Sunday school, and writing, preparing, and directing special holiday programs. Also add in home life busyness with keeping up and fixing up a 100 year old home with a husband who is just as busy working to finish a doctorate and work any side jobs teaching and performing music that came along.

Add to the abrupt change in career a move across the country. We moved from the midwest to the east coast this past summer while I was 7 months pregnant. Also add in a 4 week premature baby. Lastly, add in struggles with post pardum mood disorders (I prefer this term over post pardum depression since I didn't struggle with depression as much as anxiety). You can read about the PPMD issues here.

After all these changes, I found myself overwhelmed and struggling to get things done. I think I just wasn't busy enough! We just had several days of running around like crazy and I have gotten so much more done each day than the days where I am less busy.

On the flipside, I am thankful for the fatigue that follows busyness. That fatigue reminds us that we are not God. God needs no sleep. We fragile humans do. I am thankful for busyness!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Menu Planning Monday


Well, I am quite late posting this as it is almost Tuesday! We've had a busy few days here. Last week's menu flopped but I did not go out and purchase things just to suit our whims. I made other things with what we had in the pantry. Some tummy viruses changed things as well!

Here we go for this week! Our breakfasts will all be cereal, toast, or pancakes. Lunches will be sandwiches or Chef Boyardee. Dinners will be:
Monday - Leftovers (or as we say, "Dinner: The Best Of")
Tuesday - Enchiladas
Wednesday - Chicken Parmesean
Thursday - Meat Pie
Friday - Burgers and Dogs on the grill

What does your menu look like?

Shopping Spree - the Good and the Bad

So, I did my first KMart Super Double run yesterday. I had some great successes and some flops. Hey, I'm still just learning! I will give a quick recap now and more later on. I am about to go out for run number 2 in just a few minutes.



I did 2 transactions. I had a $5 off $50 purchase coupon that I didn't want to mess up. For the first transaction, I got:
  • 2 packs Huggies Overnights diapers @ $9.99 each
  • 1 pack Huggies Snug & Dry diapers @ $9.99
  • 1 pack Huggies Little Movers diapers @ $9.99
  • 1 pack Huggies Little Swimmers diapers @ $7.99
  • 1 box Huggies wipes @ $2.99
  • 1 Glade fragrance collection small soy candle @ $5.99
I used:
  • 1 Q for $5 off $50 purchase (always give these first so coupons don't lower the total under the limit)
  • 2 Q's for $2 off Overnights doubled for $8 savings
  • 2 Q's for $2 off any Huggies diaper product doubled for $8 savings
  • 1 Q for $1.50 off Little Swimmers doubled for $3 savings
  • 1 Q for $1 off Huggies wipes purchase doubled for $2 savings
  • 1 gift card for Glade for $5 (not doubled)
I paid :
  • Total rang up at $66.xx after tax and such
  • I paid $ 28.84
  • I got $14 back to use in my next transaction! (from an in-store promotion for purchasing a certain amount of certain items)
  • That's like paying $14.xx on all those diapers!
My second transaction wasn't quite as good so I'm not posting those details at this time. I got $69 worth of stuff for $31. I bargain blocked myself a few times here.

My mistakes:

Live and learn! I made a few mistakes that cost me some money. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes! First of all, the biggest one was not sticking to my list. I saw some things that were nearly free after coupons and kept picking them up. This wouldn't have been a problem if I had kept track of what was in my cart. A smaller problem that resulted from this big mistake was that I forgot to pull out a $2 coupon so it cost me $4 in savings. It was for an item I probably wouldn't have gotten if I had to pay full price. My other BIG mistake was at the register. I got so excited to see that my total was above $50 again that I hurried and handed over another $5 off $50 coupon. I had forgotten that this coupon couldn't be used with the $14's I had gotten before. Oh well! I'll use that $14 today!

Now, another exciting thing is that I can submit receipts for some of the Huggies diapers to Caregivers Marketplace for a $.75 rebate per pack (not Overnights or Swimmers). I also found a rebate for a shampoo I bought to get the full amount back after the rebate.

Get your coupons organized and get out to KMart!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What a day!


Well, like many of you, we have had another very busy day! Baby turned 8 months old today. Right now at 11:15pm is the first time I have had to sit down and write! We did garage sales this morning, Hubby's softball game this afternoon, a photo shoot around the house with Baby this afternoon, CVS this evening, and church this evening. Tomorrow looks just slightly less crazy with a trial run to K-Mart for super double coupons plus reclaiming the house from the laundry and toy monster.

I wanted to take a minute to share a few links with you:

Friday, June 5, 2009

So Round, So Profound


I taught elementary music for 3 years. I loved the energy and the silliness. One of my favorite songs we sang was called "The Belly Button Round." Click HERE to hear it (free download). The opening lyrics are:
So Round
So Profound
So Great
To Contemplate

Well, lately I have been contemplating the belly button. You see, having my son has given me a new perspective on the belly button. As I nurse my little man, his little tummy often hangs out of his shirt exposing his little belly button. It struck me the other day that this is where he and I were physically connected. My body fed him through his belly button. I looked at my own and had a new understanding of my own and how my own mom loved me and fed and nourished me through my belly button. The design of the human body is simply amazing. The power of the love between mother and child is simply staggering.

Now, as I see belly buttons more often with the warmer weather, I pause and think how that person is showing off how they are loved and how they were fed in the womb. Don't get me wrong, I would still rather the adult belly button remain under wraps rather than be flaunted. Some things should become a mystery to others as we grow up.

Have you thanked your mother for your belly button lately?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hodgepodge Post


I am very excited this morning. I am beyond exhausted after a very late night, but excited nonetheless. Hubby performed with a local high school jazz band last night. It ended MUCH later than we expected. We got home at 10:30pm. Baby was such a trooper. He took one little catnap while we were there (he loved the steel drum band and didn't want to miss a second) and was content until the very end. After this late night, I just didn't sleep well even though Baby did.

Anyway, I learned from The Centsational Saver that our local Kroger is doing TRIPLE coupons today through Sunday! Coupons up to $.50 will be tripled! Check your local Kroger to see if they are participating as it is a regional event. Check out The Centsational Saver for deal scenarios!

I also just called my local K-Mart to confirm that they are doing super doubles next week! Double coupons up to $2.00! I have heard talk of a limit of 10 coupons per person per day, but I have not confirmed that.

Other Offers/Random thoughts:
  • First 10,000* to respond will receive one NEW Glade® Scented Oil Candle Tin.
  • Recipe for Crash Hot Potatoes that we will be having for dinner tonight.
  • Pinecone Research has open enrollment right now for surveys. I just signed up. I have heard this is a top company to do surveys for and they fill up spots quickly. I also heard they are looking for young people 18 - 24.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beauty

I am intrigued with photography. I like to think that I can take a good picture. I like to think that I am artistic and creative at times. I am completely humbled when I see really good photographs though.

I happened upon a photography blog this morning. I have been inspired to try some new things with my little point and shoot Kodak. I am inspired to spend a little more time with my dad's nice dSLR when he is visiting.

Check out The Maternal Lens and see if it doesn't inspire you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gratituesday: My Baby Boy's Smile


My husband and I waited 8 years to start a family. Our goal was for me to be able to stay home. He always felt called to teach college. Many years of working for me and schooling for him later, we had our little man.

The first few months with H were quite rough. Feeding issues caused hours of endless screaming. I was afraid we had an all around fussy little guy on our hands. Now at nearly 8 months, we have seen his little personality develop. He rarely fusses except right before bed or on occasional car trips. The best thing right now is his smile.

When H wakes up, he wakes with a smile - something I want to cultivate in my own life. In the mornings, he spends the 4am - wake-up in our bed. I treasure waking up to a chubby hand on my face accompanied by a gurgle and a big gummy grin.

I cannot even put into words how thankful I am for this beautiful smile!

Monday, June 1, 2009

In My Weakness, He is Strong


"He said to me,

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'

"Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10


I am an excitable person. I am nearly 32 years old and I still do not sleep Christmas eve .... or Easter eve .... or Thanksgiving eve .... or Flag day eve ..... You get the picture. I often am quite impulsive and speak before I should. I act before I think things through and often fall on my face.


I was thinking about my menu after shopping today. I spent more than I should have. I got excited about sales and didn't stick to my list. I decided today, on my second trip to Kroger (more on that later), that Kroger is my shopping weak spot. At Target, Rite Aid, and CVS, I can shop and use Gift Cards and Extra Care Bucks rather than spending out of pocket money. At Kroger, I go into hoard mode and buy anything we will eat that I have a coupon for. I get a tingle of excitement down my spine as I walk the aisles. I need to keep my tushie OUT of Kroger if I am going to be intentional about sticking to my super low budget for the month.


What is your weakness in regards to money? Daily living? Do you struggle with saying the little word "no?" Do you give in to the "tyranny of the urgent?" I know I do. I struggle to follow advice from a very wise woman. She told me I need to sit down before the Lord each morning to see what HE has for me to do that day. I get caught up in daily life and don't do that. Today, I did not have the TV on until late afternoon. I did not get on the computer for any leisure activities until around 9pm. I got so much done today. What about tomorrow? The rest of the week? The rest of the summer?


I know I am weak. I know I have a lot of growing to do (those of you who know me are probably chuckling and thinking of witty comments on my short stature - I am not even 5 feet tall). I need to harness some excitability and put it to good use. I have a plan for tomorrow. I have laid out a few small goals. Thank you for letting me share them as it helps me stay on track.

  • shower (I realized just now that it has been 3 days since my last one - ick!)
  • pray/have a quite time for more than 5 minutes
  • put laundry away
  • craft next blog post
  • work on baby napping in crib rather than on me (fell into this habit again recently since we removed the bassinet insert from the pack n play - the transition hasn't gone well)
  • start working on dinner earlier so I am not tempted to change my plan and make something quick and super easy and not very healthy
  • watch my Penguins win!
Now for a quick story about my two Kroger trips today. I realized when I got home that I had purchased an open pack of hot dogs and that the cashier had shorted me on a coupon. After stewing for awhile, I decided to go back. Within minutes, I had a new pack of hot dogs and a full $1.67 in cash for the coupon (it was for a free ketchup - the cashier only took $.20 off!) and I went home happy.

I hope and pray that in all of my weaknesses, God is using me. Sometimes He gives me a glimpse of how. Other times, I just don't see it. I'm human, fragile, fallible. We all are. In our weakness, He is strong.

Intentional Menu


I am being more intentional about my grocery spending this month. I want to keep the spending under $200. We will live somewhat out of our pantry. Here's what we are eating this week! My husband is teaching a university summer class in the mornings so breakfast is a bit limited ( I KNOW I will not be up with him each morning with a baby in the house). Wednesday I will be gone with the baby during the day to watch my mom and her fellow teachers do a tap dance then hubby will be performing on the waterfront that evening. It's always busy around here! Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie and her Menu Planning Monday to see more menu ideas!

Monday:

Breakfast - toast
Lunch - soup and sammies
Dinner - chicken teriyaki

Tuesday:
Breakfast - pancakes
Lunch - cold cuts
Dinner - meatball subs

Wednesday:
Breakfast - toast
Lunch - panini
Dinner - homemade pizza

Thursday:
Breakfast - waffles
Lunch - ravioli
Dinner - grilled pork chops

Friday:
Breakfast - toast
Lunch - peanut butter sandwiches
Dinner - oven fried chicken

Saturday:
Breakfast - French toast
Lunch - “The Best Of” (leftovers)
Dinner - beef stroganoff

Sunday:
Breakfast - cereal
Lunch - macaroni and cheese with hot dogs
Dinner - burgers on the grill

Shopping list:
chicken breasts, bread, hot dogs (bogo free at kroger), rice, eggs, waffles, yeast, marjoram, honey
Deal seeking:
garbage bags (target - pair target coupon with manufacturer coupon), paper towels (target - coupons plus gift card rebate - details here), sunscreen (CVS), rock bottom prices on items to restock pantry from this week’s meals

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