Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Changes, Big and small

Over the next few weeks my family will be going through several changes. 

One will be my husband changing jobs.  He will be gone a bit more but the pay is better and the benefits are much better.  We are use to him not being home all the time as that is the nature most of the time for trucking.  Unfortunately the job that he has had for the las year that brought him home everyday did not pay quite enough and the benefits were not that great.  He is staying on there as a casual driver and will work there occasionally.  This past year has been both a struggle and a blessing.  I have had to adjust to relinquishing the power over to him which is very difficult when I have been use to being the main decision maker here at home for about 20 years as he had been on the road.  It has been nice having him home everyday.  We have been able to start attending a church that we both really like.  His new job may require him to be gone on Sundays once in awhile.  Hannah and I will continue to go to church though. We have taken a good hard look at our finances and the cut out a few things that were not needed (there are still things that could be cut but we are proceding slowly).  This year has been a growing experience for all of us.

Our oldest daughter will be moving back home.

She has been living in a bad situation for a while now and wants to get out of it so we decided to let her come home for a bit and save some money .  At first she thought of it as a step back but in the long run it will be a step forward.  So we will be converting the den into a bedroom for her (I am not giving up my library  Ha Ha )  She will be moving in over the weekend.  

Hannah will be finishing up the 10th grade.  Her evalution is on June 7th so we will officially start our summer then.  We usually take the whole month of July off then start up slowly in August.  Usually by then she has gotten bored and it is to hot outside so a perfect time to start.  I cannot believe that she will graduate in 2 years. 

I have started an inventory of the things we have in the freezer and the pantry.  We have our big freezer inventoried and have two shelves in the pantry done.  Now the only thing I have to remember to do is to mark things off when I use them and mark things down when I add them LOL. I am slowly doing this because of everything else going on. 

When I made my stops at the drugstores this week for the deals, at one store the cashier made a comment after I used my coupons that I had saved alot of money then she was amazed when my receipt printed and I had more coupons print out than what I spent.  At another one I got into a conversation with the clerk while checking out about couponing.

I learned something this week when I went to the grocery store.  I did all my big shopping last week, but one of the local grocery stores was running a special were they had four coupons that doubled $1 coupons.  Our stores around here usually only double up to a dollar (if you have a coupon for 75 cents they will take off 25 cents more)  so I wanted to get in on this deal.  You had to have an order of $15 dollars so I got out my coupons and tried to figure out how I could make the most of this.  I hade it figured out perfectly.  But when I got to the store they were out of one of the items I wanted (it just so happened to be the best deal too   )  So I had to refigure everything.  I learned that I need to come with several things to back me up if something doesn't work out.    

Have a great day!!!     


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

couponing ( again)

I have been doing quite abit of research on how to do the best with my coupons.  Here are just a few things that have been on my mind.

First of all do not think that you will be able to go into a store with a bunch of coupons for an item that is on sale and get them all for free like on the show Extreme Couponing.  They order ahead for that show so there is enough product on hand plus the stores bend their own coupon policies a bit so that all the coupons ring through.  Make sure you check out your stores coupon policy.  Do they double or triple coupons?  If they do, up to what amount do they double or triple.  Also is there a limit to how many they will double or triple and how many like coupons will they double or triple.  Even if you think you know your store's policy it is a good idea to check it again and maybe even print it out.  Some stores are changing their policies in retaliation to the Extreme Couponing show so be informed.

Be ethical couponers!!!  Don't commit coupon fraud.  Make sure you use your coupons for the correct item, correct size and quantity (there is an accusation against one of featured people on the show of coupon fraud).  Don't empty the shelves just because you have coupons for something.  On the show one lady is shown clearing the shelves of an item that nobody in her family really even liked.  Leave some for other people.  Sales usually run in 12 week cycles so keep that in mind when buying things.  Will your family really go through 40 deodorants in 12 weeks?  Think of other people that want to get in on the deal too.  I try not to buy the last of a product even if I do have a coupon for it (I will take the last one if it is the only one available).  Some people use coupon clipping services,  I am not to sure if this is legit as all coupons state that they are void if bought or sold.  Also if a store turns in a bunch of coupons that have been "gang cut" (cut at the same time)  the mf can turn down the redeemption of them.  My rule if I can't cut it myself I don't need it.  Just me, You need to make up your own minds about what you think.

Don't steal the coupons out of papers in the store!!  This past weekend we bought two papers and neither one had coupons in them so we took them back.  The clerk at the store said that there were no coupons in any of the papers that they had,  different papers all had the coupons taken out of them. 

Share your stockpile.  I have only been doing this full force for about a month now and I have already started getting a bit of a stockpile.  I am at a level where I am comfortable in the area of toothpaste and toothbrushes, as an example, but I still will pick up those items if I can get them for free or cheap.  I then will rotate my stock and put however many that I bought aside to donate to a local homeless shelter.  We hope to be able to donate a small bit every month.  I am going to be picking up baby items also to donate.  A local drugstore had a good deal on formula recently and I could have gotten some to donate but I hadn't cut out the coupons.  I will be eyeing my coupons differently from now on and cutting those that I can use for donation items.  Along the same lines as I mentioned above, just because you are getting something for donation don't clear shelves,  maybe the next person wants to buy some for a donation also, you never know.

My total amount that I have listed in sidebar is really misleading.  I use store loyalty cards, coupons, and rewards printed on the end of my receipts to reach that number.  Last week I bought $65 worth of product and payed .75 cents.  Now that really wasn't all coupons.  I used sales, coupons, reward coupons, survey rewards and store coupons.  I need to replenish my reward coupons so my percentage won't be that great this week but next week I should be able to roll the savings.    

I don't do all the coupon matchups myself.  There are plenty of websites that do all the work for you.  I haven't found to many that have the grocery stores in our area but there are matchups for the drugstores, Target, Walmart, KMart etc.  Some sites that I like are  Couponing to Disney      , Coupon Mom, and A Full cup.   There are even some videos on Youtube that take you though the stores and show you all the deals. 

Organization.  One things about couponing, organization is the key.  Most of the people recommend having a coupon binder and there are even tutorials both on blogs and youtube on how to make your own.  I started one but I started to find for me that it got to be to much work.  So I switched to using envelopes.  I have envelopes for each category and an envelope for each store ( I keep them in a plastic bin that I bought for $1) .  When I cut out my coupons I file them in the envelope until I am ready to match (I also put them in order of expiration so I am sure to use the ones that expire first).  On Sunday's I cut and file my coupons then make out my list for RiteAid and pull any coupons I have for this store (I always try to go to Rite Aid on Monday Mornings close to their opening time).  Monday I make out my grocery lists (I go to two different stores) and I have just started making out lists for Walgreen's and CVS.  Since we get paid every two weeks I only do this every other week.  The off week I will go if I can get really good deals and can pay for most of the purchase with coupons and rewards etc.  Little out of pocket.  Anyway, after I make out my lists I pull any coupons I need and then put the list and the coupons in the store envelope.   Then on Tuesday I make out my menu for the two weeks make note of any special things that might be coming up (like in the next two weeks our church is having a picnic and Memorial Day ) I keep in mind what I already have in my pantry/freezer and what is on sale.  I then add anything I need to my grocery list (I add them to the grocery store that gives me the most gas rewards so my total will be more there).  Then on my way home from work on Thursday morning I do all my grocery shopping and drugstore shopping.  I am going to start putting a cooler in my trunk to put my cold stuff in because the weather is getting warmer.   All together this probably takes me about three hours of prep time before shopping , that's about 1 1/2 hrs a week.  But last week I made 43.33 for that time (in savings).  It probably takes me anywhere from 1/2hr to 45 minutes in each grocery store for shopping.  The drugstores no more that 15 minutes.  So about 2 1/2 hrs shopping every two weeks.  So for 5 1/5 hours of time My savings was 64.57 an hour.  Not a bad total.  I know that alot of people don't have that much time to devote to couponing.  I know some people have more time.  I think though any thing you do is great because you are saving money.

What to do with all the expired coupons?  I have only been doing this for abut a month like I stated before but already I have a bunch of coupons that will be expiring before our next pay.  I didn't want to throw them away because I feel like I am throughing away money.  Did you know that the military bases take donations of expired coupons (cannot be over 6 months)?  Go Here to adopt a base.  Make sure you adopt one that is available.  I plan on sending all my coupons at least once a month. 

To wrap up this already too long post.  I have made a deal with myself.  I am not going to become obsessed with this whole thing.  I am not going to become a hoarder.  I will be happy with myself if i am able to print one coupon or email for one free sample a day.  I figure that even alittle adds up to alot.   I plan on writing a few more posts in the future about some more specific things. 

Have a Great Day!!                

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spent a wonderful day with my Hubby

Yesterday was our 26th wedding Anniversary.  Time sure has flown. 

David texted me at work in the morning and instructed me to go to a local McDonalds.  When I got there I was instructed to go in and buy a coffee and ask for Melissa.  she gave me an envelope with futher intrustions to go to a Turkey Hill.  Once I got there I was intructed to go in and buy a tea and ask for Danette.  She gave me another envelope which instructed me to go to a local park and look for a swing.  Once I got there David was standing by the swing just like the host of Amazing Race.  He knows I like that show so he sent me on my on little race.  He told me then that he had taken the whole day off work, (this is a treat as we don't get to spend the day together to often).  So we were able to spend a nice leisurely time together swing on the double swing and then we took a walk around the pond.   

Below are pictures of the ducklings and Goslings we saw on our walk.

The daddy Goose was really upset with us and thought we got entirely to close to his babies.  He started hissing and honk and bobbing his head. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time, being good stewards and fun

As You know I have started really putting an effort into saving money especially with coupons.  I was reading an article in one of the many newsletters I get about how being frugal (we like to call this stewardship) is not a one size fits all type of thing.  Some people are willing to pay extra for something and maybe cut costs in another area. 

As I think of what I have done to change things in the last few weeks I thought I would share a bit. 

Aldi's use to be our main grocery store.  That was until the gas prices started going up.  To make a trip to Aldi's I would have to make an extra trip into Lancaster which is more gas.  By shopping at two of the main grocery stores in the area that are on my way home and open when I go home I save the gas plus by using coupons, sales, buy one get one offers and 10 for $10 offers I can get about the same amount of food that I got from Aldi's (the produce is better also).  It does take alittle more planning than a trip to Aldi's but it is worth it as far as I am concerned.  Also if I really want something from Aldi's I can have my hubby stop by sometime on his way home from his work as he doesn't work to far away and comes home when they are open.

Being good stewards with what we are given is one of the things my hubby and I are really striving for.  We have struggled our whole married life with our finances.  Hopefully some of the habits we are starting to form will take hold and help in this department.  In the process with the extra that I am able to get from couponing we hope to donate to help others.

Having fun,  To me it is fun tracking down the deals and getting the most for the money we spend.  Yesterday by using coupons, getting things on sale and loyalty card I was able to get $45 worth of products for 67 cents.  And I have only really been doing this for about a month.  And it was all stuff that we will use eventually and that won't expire (except for the Twizzlers but again My son works for them so ...) Do I have stuff for years down the road?  No but we are probably good for about six months in the household products department and health and beauty department.  I have started to put a few things aside to donate as I will continue to get it if I can for free or very cheap. As far as food is concerned I think we are probably good for about a month.  I would like to build this up to at least a three month supply.  The thing with food is that it used alot faster than the other stuff so it will take longer to stock up.  But for now my small chest freezer is full and my pantry is well supplied.

Just like I always say with homeschooling, it's not for everyone and it's not for every stage of life.  For now though couponing seems to be working for us.

I have added a little summary type thing in the left sidebar that I will try to keep up date listing how much i have saved to date and how much that is percentage wise.  Thanks to my 99% drugstore buy yesterday my percentage jumped quite a bit.  But you know if I was able just to save a bit I would consider it a success because every little bit helps.  One thing I learned when we started homeschooling is not to judge your success by others.  The same is true of saving,  Set a goal for yourself and try to achieve that.  Start small and work your way up.  If you don't achieve the goal when you want just reevaluate and start again.  Just like in the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.  Ok that's enough cliches for now.

Have a great day!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

My Mother's Day was  a good day.  We started the day off by going to church which was good as usual.

Then when we got home My eldest Daughter gave me a movie night gift.  Two Microwave popcorn tubs, two sodas, a bag of Flips (chocolate covered pretzels) and a dvd.

My son came alittle later and gave me some realy pretty flowers.  He got me ones that I can plant.  I like flowers but cut ones die so quickly so I much prefer the ones I can plant and enjoy longer. 

My youngest Daughter and and My Hubby gave me the gift of making luch, and cleaning up.  My daughter wanted to wait on me but I kept forgetting and did alot of stuff myself. 


Movie Monday - Spencer's Mountain

This is the movie that inspired the Walton's.  My Hubby kept comparing it to the Tv Show.  I thought it was a good movie.  Some swearing but otherwise a great movie!.  Stars Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Trip to Indiana(not so wordless)

                                          My and Dad's Creek Flooding
The next few pics are of the Ohio River

                                         This is the Lanier Mansion.  He lent Indiana money so they could stay afloat during the Civil War. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Made Money Couponing!! (Sort Of)

As I posted last week I have started trying to use coupons more in order to use our limited resources (significant pay decrease) .  Also My hubby and I have been trying to think of a way that we can doante more to a local homeless shelter and the food bank.  Couponing seems to be a way to help with that.

On Sunday I asked my Hubby to pick up two papers instead of one for the extra coupons.  He came out with 3 lol.  Hannah liked this as it gave her two different comics to read.  Anyway a note to everyone check to make sure you have the whole paper and that the coupons are in there if you buy your papers at a store, one of the papers hubby got was missing the section that had the comics and the coupons.  He will check next time. 

I spent probably about a half an hour cutting out my coupons on Sunday evening.  This was ok as My husband was reading the paper and we were watching a documentary on Hershey Park.  Nice together time.

Monday morning I spent some time organizing my coupons (I have a binder I put them in) then looked on a blog I follow that gives you updates on coupons and read the post on matching up the coupons to the sales at the drugstore I go to and went through and matched up the items I was interested in then I made out my list.  This took me about an hour.

I went to our local drug store (I can give you more specifics if you are interested, just comment below)  to  pick up some things that were on sale and I had coupons for ,  before coupons the total was $38, after coupons $18 so I saved $20 by using coupons then I got $20  in the coupons they print at the end of the receipt so I am ahead by $2.  I also came home and registered my receipt for another $2 rebate.  Now I know that I will have to spend those coupons at the store I got them at but I shop there often and I can use the coupons on anything in the store except for the usual restictions (prescriptions, tobacco, etc)
And I know that you are probably thinking that I bought things I normally wouldn't buy but I got razors for my husband, dish soap, deodorant, a toothbrush, ( I did buy twizzlers but my son works in the twizzler factory so I justified that purchase) foundation makeup (which I had a coupon for and it was the rebate item) and some emory boards.

When I came home I spent about another hour matching up coupons to the grocery ads for my trip I will take on Thursday.  I basically shop for two weeks so this only will happen every two weeks.

We are almost at the point where I have stocked up on certain items like deordorant, toothpaste and brushes that we will be putting stuff aside to donate. 

I am not an extreme couponer by any means but the little I save with them helps.  I can see how people would get obsessed with finding the right deal to match the right coupon.    Some people spend 10 - 60 hours a week on this.  I spent about 3 hours and I am satisfied with my effort.  I figure any money I save is a step in the right direction.

I am going to put a page at the top of my blog just to keep track of the savings over the next couple of weeks just to see how I am doing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Movie Monday

My Husband and I watched this cute movie over the weekend.

Please Don't Eat the Daisies.  Great movie!!

Here is the song.  (One of her sons eats daisies earlier in the movie)

This movie had a Tv series made after it.

I remember watching it a couple of times.

Nice old fashioned movie.