Sunday, January 31, 2010

As for me I KNOW...

Tonight during devotions we were discussing heaven, and the  many questions that a 6, 5, and 3 year old will ask to go along with it. One is concerned that he will be bored in heaven without his bakugan, because surely God doesn't have THOSE. The only answer we could come up with is that God knows what we need, and if God thinks we need toys in heaven, He will have that covered. After that was settled, and a few more little questions the big one came up. "Will Evan be a baby still, or big like us?"
We lost Evan on September 20th, 2005. My oldest was 2 years and 7 months. My youngest was 1 year and 1 month. They don't remember much, other than asking why we 'had to give their sister back to God.' Jackson had been begging for a sister for a while, and well, we finally starting praying that if God wanted him to have a sister He would provide one. And He gve, and He took away. And Blessed is His name. 
 And tonight, even after 4 years and 4 months the tears  flow freely. They are still flowing. My son asked why I was crying over a baby we never knew.
Ah son, I knew my baby. Our baby.  I knew how my baby felt, I knew the hopes I had for my child, the fears I had of too many babies too soon, the worries of wondering if everything would be all right, and the pain of realizing everything wasn't all right. I still wonder- red hair or blonde? Blue eyes or hazel? Joyful? Bold and busy? Or quiet and thoughtful? Strongwilled? God knows my little Evan Avery. He knit my baby in my womb, and intimately knows my child. And one day, I know that I will know my child, too. In ways that I never had the oppurtunity to here on this earth. And until then, there will be nights like tonight that it hits me like a ton of bricks, and my husband will pray for me, and hold me, and remind me to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
I was reading Job last week and just love this verse.

As for me, I KNOW that my Redeemer lives, and that at last He shall take His stand on earth.
Job 19:25

My Redeemer has conquered death, And because I know this, I am comforted.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

That organization post i promised... FINALLY!

First let me declare that I have been doing taxes all day. ALL DAY. Like for 8 hours. I am so brain fried that as i was typing my title I could not figure out how to spell finally/ finnally/ finalle/ I got it right. I think...
I have pisctures of my system and will be blunt and say you are not gonna get em tonight! I cant remember where my camera is... and I dont want to hunt and search.

SO... without further ado...
Organizing your couponing Craziness!

You will need
Manilla folders
an expandable file folder/divided box thingamajig
A smaller coupon thingy/expandable file
a place to store all of your flyers/coupons, etc.

I have a nifty little organizer thing I bought at T.J. Max about 8 years ago. It is pretty with its dark glossy wood and caning,  and pretty useful.  Looks sort of like this, only with more slots for files, and cubbies, not drawers...

I purchased awesome folders for CHEAP - I have a thing about my office accessories being pretty AND functional! They are labeled as follows
Meijer receipts
Kroger receipts
Walmart receipts
Aldi receipts
CVS/Walgreens receipts

I obviously file my receipts. Why?
  • I like to see how much I have saved. It makes me feel proud, thankful, and well, flat out giddy!
  • I may need to return n item (example- Ive been wanting to switch to another brand of haircolor. i bought 4 this week for a total of $15.00, saving $25.00. I am HOPING the color match was correct. If NOT I will be returning the other 3 for the Right color)
  • Rebates come up, and some I have found go back as far as 2 months... You may need those receipts to make $10, $20 or even $30!
Im my rebate file I have all of my active rebate forms. First expiring is in front and so on. I paper clip the receipts applicable to the forms, as well as a copy of the receipt, my addressed stamped envelope, a list of what else I need to purchase, as well as any coupons for the needed items.

I have a spot for my sale adds for the week. While I can view them all on line, I do like spreading them out side by side on the table. Just personal preference.

I have a spot for paper- sometimes a printable coupon wil print off 1 per page- leaving me with almost an entire sheet of paper unused- I stack them up and you guessed it- run those babies through again! Or give them to my boys to draw on. Waste not want not

I have a spot for my pens, my list pads, and paper clips.
I keep my unclipped coupons ina spot as well, still in their flyer.
My Walgreens, and Kmart coupon books also have a spot.

It is like a mini office all in one.
Inside my expandable file I have my coupons organized alphabetically, by product name. Ziplock In Z's, Betty Crocker in B's, etc. I ALSO have multiples paperclipped together. This helps when i am in a store aisle and see something on sale or clearance and go looking for a coupon. All 20 of my Pilssburry and 25 of my Loreals are clipped to one another. Then I only have to flip through neatly organized stacks, not a clusterscrew of a mess.

Three are plenty of ways to organize- this jsut works for me. Now- i won't do you any good to organize your coupons if you cannot organize your list ladies(and Gents- yes, one of my hubbies coworkers is reading these posts)
I start out with a list on my fridge. Anytime we are out of something, or low i write it on my list. This weeks list had lemon juice, better than Bouillon, and mayo on it. I always refer to this list when planning my grocery list! I will also start to put items that I am low on my stockpile in on this list. I then plan a weeks or 2 of meals.This list is centered around whats in the freezer, cupboards and on sale. Example- poirk is on sale for $1.69 lb this week, so we are having pork roast. There will also be 3 more pork roasts in my freezer, and some loin cut into chops. Chicken was on sale last week, as was ground beef, so meatlof, mexican night, and Broiled chicken over spinach salad is on my list. Oatmeal, cereal and eggs are in abundance, so breakfast is covered, and lunch is some leftovers, and various other things in the fridge/pantry.
This type of listing saves money and time!
Once I have my list I taake my small coupon organizer and file the neccessary coupons under store name- Meijer/Kroger, etc. I have a master list with my items on it, and I write the sale price in one column, and the price after coupon in another item.
  • Kraft cheese                 3/$5.00 ($1/2 &$1RR)                                        3/$3
  • Cereal 4/$10                                             ($4RR+ $1/2x2)                4/$4      
Total is $7.00 

I make my lisxt like this so I can see how much I am spending. BUDGET is KING as hubby says. 
It helps to kno whow many of what and how much I am getting. I can then put it all in my cart in an organized fashion and stack it on the belt in an organized fashion and see where my savings really are(or if they are) coming off my bill.
I spent $89 at Kroger this week. My saving were $170+
I think I will gladly take 2-3 hours to make my lsit for that kind of savings!

One thing I have thought of this month as I am on my adventure of savings is to be leary of the 'that is such a great deal i must buy it!' attitude.
 If it is not an item we like, or really can use I should not buy it just because its a great deal.
 Then I would not be saving, even if it is dirt cheap.
After only 3 gorcery trips I believe I am stockpiled enough to only buy the freebies, almost freebies, produce, meats and dairy this week. WOO-HOO!!!!
And before I go get a good book and take a bath let me tell you I got 6 bricks of Philly, 2 cartons of Philly Spreads(the spinach artichoke is KILLER!) and 2 large Breakstones Sourcream for a TOTAL of $1.56
ONE brick of Philly at Meijer is normally $1.74.
Happy dance at the keyboard here.


Monday, January 25, 2010

This morning as I sit and try and blog I am mentally going through my to do list for  the day. I have so much to do! Packages to ship,toilets to scrub, children to teach their abc's, a workout to do, dinner to defrost,etc etc etc. I am also going to go crazy looking for an aerobic step to use with my Firm videos. Thriftstores LOOKOUT! Woman on a mission will be coming today! Can you believe they no longer sell them?!?! I mean- geeze! And to buy one on ebay with shipping is around $50.00. Wally world has a basic step, still not what I need  for $40.00... I think I shall just save for the WAVE system- whch by the way looks AWESOME!

Okay anyways....

I promised to share more about how you can save more Moolah at the store. Not many poeple commented on my last post, so I have no clue how many people actually want to save money, or coupon, but ya know even if it is only 1 person out there I would love to share what is making a difference for my family!
If some of you are missing my craftiness, sorry. I am going through a dry time right now. It is probably due to the hours spent trying to learn couponing, the multiple bible studies I am keeping up with, and the cold weather which does not permit spraypainting. Not to mention stayng out of the stores I like because I am SO trying to not nickle and dime myself to death! WHEW! Did you get all that?

Back to coupons!
Since I began my adventure I have saved over $200.00. I began my adventure 2 weeks ago. I am going to share some fabulous links for you ladies today that will help you get started. BUT first! Heres some

couponing 101.

How to USE your coupons. Even those ones that have you buy 3 items to save $0.40!

1.You can only use one manufacturer’s coupon per item. You will know a manufacturer’s coupons because “Manufacturer’s Coupon” will be printed on it.

2.Most stores will allow you to use a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon on the same item. This is called stacking coupons. (Meijer, Target, CVS, Walgreens,Marsh  and Kroger all allow stacking!)

3.If the coupon value is greater than the item value, you may be able to make money on that item in some cases. (It depends on the store.) If the store will not allow an overage, you can ask them to reduce the value of the coupon to simply make the item free.

4.If there is a Buy One Get One Free sale, you can still use one coupon per item. Meaning FREE items!

5.If you have a Buy One Get One Free coupon, you can combine that coupon with a Buy One Get One Free sale and get both items for free!

6. If there is a B1G1 1/2 off you can use a coupon for each item. Example. Loreal Feria haircolor B1G1 1/2 off- 1st item at 8.99 2nd item at $4.49 2 coupons at $2.00 off of 1 Loreal hair color. Total cost. $9.48

There is also an entire LANGUAGE in coupon world!

Coupon Language 101:
  • MQ – manufacturer’s coupon
•ECB – Extra Care Bucks – CVS “money” printed on receipts to be used like cash in store on your next purchase.

•RR – Register Reward – Walgreen’s “money” printed on receipts to be used like cash in store on your next purchase.

•ESR – Walgreen’s Easy Saver Rebate Program

•ESC – Walgreen’s Easy Saver Coupon

•OOP – Out of Pocket – actual cash paid

•BOGO or B1G1 – Buy One Get One FREE!

•SS – Smart Source insert in Sunday’s paper

•RP- Red Plum insert in Sunday’s paper

•P&G or PG – Procter and Gamble insert in Sunday’s paper

•Peelie – Peelable coupon located on packages

•2/$5 – This means 2 items for $5, can be any combination.

•$1/2 – This means $1 off of 2 items, can be any combination.

•WYB – when you buy

•MIR – Mail In Rebate

•PSA - Prices start at

•crt – cash register tape, a coupon printed at the end of a receipt sometimes called a Catalina.

  • Catalina: Sometimes abbreviated as “CAT”, Catalina coupon machines located at register, dispense long receipt-like coupons that may be used on a future purpchase. Catalinas, refer to the coupons themselves which may be manufacturer or store coupons. Some Catalina coupons are advertised and some are generated based on consumer behavior.
  • IVC: Instant Value Coupon. IVCs are store coupons found in the weekly Walgreens ad. IVCs may be stacked with a manufacturer coupon.
  • Store Coupon: A coupon created by the store to entice you to buy a certain product at their store. Stores receive no reimbursement from store coupons. Store coupons may be found in the weekly ad, printed online or downloaded as e-coupons. Kmart and Walgreens both offer booklets set out each month. I pick up 2-3 of these.
  • YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary. A phrase used to describe that an experience one shopper has may differ from your experience. One store may allow you to stack additional promos and another location may not do the same. Many websites will tell you of a deal and add the above lingo to let you know that YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY!
  • Store Loyalty Card: A free card which you present at checkout to receive additional savings. Fill out a short application to receive a loyalty card at your local grocer. Kroger, CVS and Marsh offer these.
  • One Coupon per Transaction: Limits you to only using one of this coupon per transaction. You may request to do separate transactions. Example: If you have 5 coupons that read “one coupon per transaction” you may request to separate into 5 transactions and pay 5 times.
  • E-Coupons: Electronic coupons may be downloaded onto your store loyalty card or cell phone. Download from your PC or go mobile and download to your loyalty card through your cell phone. Grocery coupons must be downloaded to your loyalty card and will be deducted automatically when you swipe your card at checkout. E-coupons may be downloaded to your cell-phone for other retail items such as movie rentals. Download a coupon using the mobile ap and show your discount code to your cashier great websites for ecoupons are Cellfire, Shortcuts and Upromise.
Okay- now you have a lot of the lingo. What you need to do is work on your stockpile!

Stockpile: a food storage or stash of food and non-food items. Buy items when they’re on sale and you have a coupon. Buy products before you need them and build up a stockpile of food and toiletries. When you run out of an item shop from your stockpile. We shop the house for decor,why not food, etc?

It can take a couple of months to build your stockpile ladies. Many women I read about are only spending $40-50 a week on groceries! HOW? They have a stockpile. If its not on sale, or an absolute neccessity, not cheap or free they DO NOT BUY IT! I currently have not cut down on my weekly amount but have received twice the amount of items for what I was spending, and my stockpile is growing quickly.

 Example. My hubby uses Mitchum deodorant. I had a Walgreens coupon for $1.99 limit 3. I also had 3 MQ for .75 off of one. I purchased 3 deodorants for a total of $3.75. NORMALLY they are $3.69-$4.00. EACH.

Crest was on sale for $1.68. I had 3 $.75 MQ's. I received 3 toothpastes for $2.79 or a total of .93 EACH! This stuff is normally $3+ a tube!

I have stockpiled  dish soap, laundry detergent, toiletries, paper products and so on. I cannot wait until I am down to that $40-50 per week!

Of course, as hubby reminds me it is only SAVINGS if we do not blow it elsewhere. AMEN? AMEN!

Now- here are some tips for while you are at the store.

 You can ROLL your transactions to maximize your catalinas.
I did that this week when shopping for the 'Hateys'
You will seperate your transactions to use 1 catalina for your next purchase and so on.
Example. Huggies items were on sale, and I had $2/1 coupons. If I bought 3 Huggies items I received $4.00 off my next order. ($10.00 in savings!)
I paid for my Huggies, and then used my $4.00 off and more coupons for the cereal bars in my next purchase.
For the 5 boxes of cereal bars I recieved a catalina for free O.J.  I then STACKED a coupon for $2/2 on O.J. Receiving 2 Tropicanas for $1.00.

ALWAYS take your coupons- you never know when a deal may turn up. Like an item on clearance that you also have a coupon for.

BE ORGANIZED! Stack your items on the belt in an organized fashion so you and the cashier are not annoyed. KNOW what your coupons are for and what you are buying., price matching, etc.

I will say this takes planning and practice. You may get the blurry eyes from all the reading the first week, but it is SO worth the money saved. Just think of your growing retirement, college, vacation or decor funds! AHH!
So- i will leave you with some fabulous links, thanks to my friend Natalie(who does not have a blog) and I encourage you to check them out. My next posts will be on some of these fab sites and what tools they offer as well as how to organize your hot mss of coupons!

Heres Natalies list

Online Coupon & Free Sample Sites

- Download program to be able to print manufacturer coupons (I have never had a problem after downloading)
- I love the mom forum. You get insider info about deals at CVS, Walgreens, your local supermarkets and rebate forms for products you normally buy.
- Able to order free samples of everyday products
- Samples usually come with coupons
- Rebate section (I complete rebates and deposit the checks into Gaines’ college savings account. I usually use a coupon for the product and then receive a check for more than I paid. FREE COLLEGE MONEY!!)

Is this woman smart or what?!?! WHY didnt I think of that? Oh wait- I had no clue rebates existed on food and household items!

- Able to get CVS flyers prior to Sunday paper to know upcoming sales
- Able to get Walgreens flyers prior to Sunday paper to know upcoming sales
- Coupons for Conagra food products (Healthy Choice, eggbeaters, Hunts, etc)
- Recipes
- Coupons, sweet finds, online discount codes and deals
- Type in your zip code and you will get discounts to local eateries
- Daily deals & rebates in the Forum section
- Sign up for free items on your birthday, your kids’ birthdays and your pets’ birthdays
- print manufacturer coupons
- Download Proctor and Gamble (Pampers, Tide, Iams, Gillette, Oil of Olay, Bounce etc) product coupons to your Kroger plus card or other local grocery store. When you purchase the product and scan grocery card, it automatically deducts the coupon on your receipt. Note, you can also use manufacturer coupon (Double Dip!!)
- Download grocery coupons to your Kroger plus card or other local grocery store. When product is purchased and grocery card is scanned, it automatically deducts the coupon on your receipt. Note, you can also use manufacturer coupon (Double Dip!!)
-Download grocery coupons to your Kroger plus card or other local grocery store. When product is purchased and grocery card is scanned, it automatically deducts the coupon on your receipt. Note, you can also use manufacturer coupon (Double Dip!!)

**Note…often Shortcuts & Cellfire have same coupon downloads (e.g., Huggies & Fiber One products)+ use a manufacturer coupon = Triple Dip!!!

- Sign up and input area shopping card numbers (Meijer, CVS, Kroger, Marsh) when you buy certain grocery items and scan your shopping card, then you receive money into your upromise account. You can use the money to pay on a student loan, deposit the money into a 529 college savings plan or request the money to be paid to you via check. You can also download “e-coupons.” When you purchase “e-coupon” product and scan your shopping card, you will get the amount of the coupon deposited in your upromise account. Register a debit or credit card and eat at various restaurants (Q-Doba!), 8% of bill paid by registered card will be deposited into upromise account. Go to upromise site, click on shopping, click on store you want to shop online, pay with registered card and a percentage of your purchase will be deposited to your account. Easy!! (Be sure to register beneficiary information)
- Go to site and scan down to bottom of home page. Click on text “Grocery Coupons.” Click on coupons you want printed and they will print. Target policy is that you can use both a target coupon and a manufacturer coupon for the same product (Double Dip!!). If your cashier questions, just let them know that it is Target policy. I have never had any trouble, but have had to nicely state this information one time.
- Go to CVS site and register your CVS card. Usually at the end of the work week, CVS will email a coupon only good for the upcoming weekend (eg., $5 off a $20 purchase). These work great when they have diapers on sale for the week. You can use this coupon along with your Huggies manufacturer coupon and usually pay a pretty good price (even better if you have CVS extra bucks ) Don’t forget to download your upromise “e-coupons” before going. Usually upromise has Huggies “e-coupons” that will deposit $1 to $1.50 to your upromise account. Just be sure you scan your CVS card!!

Okay BlessedMama back here- I also really like these blogs- they really spell out the deals for you!
Go ahead and think of your questions and leave them in my comment box because Savvy Steward is coming back next week to answer them!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Helping Haiti

There are so many poeple doing wonderful things to help those in Haiti. My boys ave wanted to do something. 1 suggested we go over there and dig people out. He has no concept of mileage. Another wa wondering why we were helping the mean people. Huh? H sas' Yeah- Aren't they mean? Why would we help them?" I asked Why he would think they were mean people. He matter of factly replied with all the innocence f a 5 yr old. 'BECAUSE mom, Haiti, haters, hate people- you know Hateys.'
 As I was trying not to spew Coke out of my nose we had a little lessons on how the Haitian people are not Hateys, and even if they were we are told to love our enemies, Treat our neighbor as ourself, etc.
So, today we loaded into the car with our list and coupons and headed to Meijer. Our church is asking families to fill a bag for Haiti. Items such as baby food, diapers, wipes, soap, and packaged snacks are needed. By using my coupons, and Meijers sales and instant in store coupons we were able to get 2 large packages of Huggies diapers (for cheaper than Walmart Brand diapers!) a large refill wipes pack equivilant to 3 tubs of wipes,  and 5 things of granola bars for $20.00. I could have just gone to Walmart, and bought $20.00 worth of baby items and food there, but I realized I would have gotten much less for the convenience. And even after I arrived in Meijer with all 3 kids in tow to realize my coupons were at home on the table, we STILL came back for the items. You see, If I will go to great lengths to save my family money and be a wise steward with what God has given, shouldnt I go to great lengths to MAXIMIZE what we have alloted to give back to Him? What an important lesson for my sons as I showed them our savings in coupons that we could turn around and give right back to those less fortunate!
How are you maximizing to give to those in need?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guest Blogger The Savvy Steward

Today I am featuring a guest blogger. Annie Shaw from Savvy Steward is so graciously offering to bust the 'I can't save much/any money with coupons' myth. After reading Annies post, think of some questions you would like to ask her because SHE IS COMING BACK to do a Q&A for all my fabulous readers! Aren't we lucky?
Annie  was featured on the news for saving $15, 000 last year couponing. Yes, THOUSAND not hundred. It was this clip that caught my attention and had me thinking I CAN do this. And folks- let me tell you Annie is the real deal. You are about to meet a Godly woman of integrity, who I know personally. So please do not roll your eyes and say 'yeah right' SHE IS FULL OF IT.  After you read my blog, go check out Savvy Stewards blog and see if you can join in on one of her classes. Alright, enough  of me. Drum roll please.... HERE'S ANNIE!

Debunking The Coupon Myths:

Everyone has their own idea of how to save money. For some, it is eating out 3 times a week as opposed to 4. For others, it is taking the sales flier with you to the store, planning to buy healthy but cheap items…and then throwing all the expensive junk in instead. And for a handful of people, it is stocking up on items that you can get for extremely CHEAP or FREE, so you never have to pay full price again. I am in that handful of people. Many times I get comments about how people envy my stockpile and desire to learn how to get their own cool stockpile. (They don’t envy me, just my stockpile. I am just not as cool as 25 bags of free frozen veggies. Lol) BUT, more people often ask questions that lead me to believe, they just don’t think couponing will work for them. One of my long lost friends, Sarah, recently asked if I could debunk some of these “myths” that many believe about coupons, brand names, and fresh foods!

Myth #1: Your list will be limited to ONLY what you have coupons for and usually what you need is NOT what you get coupons for, the brand you use, etc.

Busted: Your list is always going to include the items that you need and want. The problem is, Americans are a “we want what we want…and we want it now” nation. If you truly desire to save money, you will start realizing that if you just wait a few weeks, you can get whatever you want/need for free or close to free. If you seek any specific brand, all you have to do is go to Ebay and type in the brand. (example: Gillette coupons). If you do not find that coupon anywhere, just contact the corporate office via their website and they will send you coupons!

Example: Your husband loves Gillette Fusion Razors. They are $11.00 a piece at CVS and pretty much every other place around. You pay $11.00 for that razor every other month, or so…which equals to about $66.00 a year. Just for a crazy razor for your husband. If you waited, you can get these razors free using a coupon and an extra care buck, about every other month at CVS! Seriously…just by buying your razor at CVS, you can save $66.00 a year!

You can normally stock up on whatever item it is that you love, but you have to be willing to wait for the deal…and then go out and get it!

Myth #2: It is cheaper to shop Aldi’s.

Busted: Aldi’s is for lazy shoppers. Lol. At least in my case! Whenever I did not want to spend the time to pull together my coupons and such, I would shop at Aldi’s. But, the truth of the matter is this: I spent more money…and got a pantry filled with sodium enriched food. Consider the fact that things rarely go on sale at Aldi’s and that you can not use a coupon. Now consider the fact that your local grocery store will often have sales and not only allow you to use coupons…but double them!

Example: Here is a price comparison of common items I might buy at Aldi’s compared to what I pay for name brand at Meijer with sales/coupons.

Aldi’s                                                                                          Meijer
Generic Spaghetti O’s .69                                                  Real Spaghetti O’s .25 (I buy reduced sodium!)

Generic Chicken Noodle soup .43                                     Campbell’s Chick Noodle .25

Loaf of Wheat Bread .89                                                  Aunt Millies Wheat FREE or .50

Cream cheese .99                                                             Kraft Cream Cheese (FREE or money maker)

Carton of OJ 1.99                                                            Tropicana .50 -1.50

Onion Soup .49                                                                Lipton Onion Soup FREE

Generic A-1 1.49                                                             A-1 THE REAL STUFF FREE + 2.00/meat!

Generic Koolaid 1.49                                                      KoolAid FREE ( made $16 to take 20 cans)

Generic Miracle Whip 1.99                                              Kraft Miracle Whip .75

Generic Oatmeal 1.79                                                     Quaker Oatmeal Free (this week even!)

Generic Salad Dressing 1.19                                           Kraft Salad dressing FREE

Generic Cream Soups .59                                              Campbells Cream soup FREE

Generic Taco Shells .99                                                 Ole El Paso Taco shells .79

Generic Boxed Stuffing .89                                            Stove Top .50

Generic Frozen Steam Veggies 1.89                              Birdseye Steamfresh FREE

Bottled Water 3.79                                                       Ice Mountain 2.49

Generic Hefty Bags 1.99                                               Hefty Bags FREE

Generic Margarine .99                                                  I can’t Believe Its Not Butter FREE

12 oz Shred Cheese 1.99                                            16 oz Kraft Shred Cheese 1.32

To Show the real savings, multiply all of these items by 25:

$663.75                                 $208.75

Okay girls, BlessedMama here- I just did the mathand $455.00 is the difference. My retirement, savings, vacation, kids college funds could certainly use that kind of boost! Yours? Back to you Annie!

Myth #3: Coupons are for brand name items which are always more expensive than store brand!

Busted: That is actually true for the most part. Coupons ARE for brand names…which typically ARE more expensive than store brand. The problem comes in where a coupon and a sale price makes any given item CHEAPER than the store brand. This happens every week. I rarely ever buy store brand. In fact, I just checked my pantry and I have only 3 store brand items in it. They are chicken bullion (I just like this kind!), sugar (it was free), and Tortilla chips (.99 at Kroger).

Example: Generic stain remover was 2.79 at my local Meijer. TIDE stain remover was on sale for 3.79. I had a 3.00/1 coupon. I got TIDE stain remover for .79. I purchased 15 of them at this price and will not need anymore for the rest of the year. (Hopefully) 

BlessedMama Again- Annie spent 11.85 on a YEARS worth of stain remover. She saved $45.00, and will not be buying that item again for another year... Hmmm... Sounds like a plan to me!

Myth#4: The most expensive part of my list is organic and produce. Coupons are for junk foods only.

Busted: Where there is a will, there is always a way! My husband and I are currently on a 12 week Body For Life Challenge. While it is not easy, I still saved 50% off my clean food total. And that was with only 1 hour of prep work! I typically get all of my frozen veggies and fruits for free. I often get 1.00 off any produce coupons (have some right now!) If you are brand specific to organics…email the company and get their coupons. They have them. Just ask.

Myth#5: This takes too much time, time IS money!

Busted: I am a home school mom, a Pastors wife, and drive 45 minutes to get to my grocery store. You can do it. This is just an excuse. Please never say it to me. LOL

I take about 2-3 hours of prep time and then 45 min at the store. I spend about $35.00 at the store, and save about $150.00. If time is money, then I just made over 50.00 an hour. Sure, I could have spent those 3 hours of prep time, sitting in front of the tv or talking on the phone, but why would I when I know that I could make $150 in those 3 hours? If someone said that you could work for 3 hours and get paid $150…would you do it? Of Course! I know women who work 50+ hours a week…and still coupon. I know women who stay at home with 5 kids under the age of 7… and still coupon. I know women who have to drive 45 minutes to the store … and still coupon. 3 hours a week to save your family $7800 a year, is SO worth it. The typical cashier has to work 27 hours a week to make this much in a year! It is a matter of priorities, if saving money is not yours, then that is totally ok and up to you! But, it does not take much time when you think of how much you earn!

Thanks Annie!

Wow! Anyone elses head spinning? Good! Keep those wheels turning ladies and think of what to ask Annie. I already have some thoughts... The FREE really has me wondering!

While my blog will not become a frugal find blog on a regular basis, because there are so many great gals out there who do it SO much better than I ever could, I will be featuring some things over the next week or two to give you the resources to save money in this new year. I shared in my last post how I have been convicted to change certain things, and obviously being a good steward of what God has given us is one thing I am continuing working on. I realize more and more that no matter how little or much money we bring home, this is a LIFESTYLE. I mean, so what if hubby made 6 figures, (WE WISH!) WHY throw money away?
Remember- ask those questions in my comment box!

Friday, January 15, 2010

GIVEAWYS! and other fun/thought provoking stuff!

Let me start with the Giveaways! Centsational Girl is giving away fine art! Check it out. I DO hope I win the Root Series for hubbies office. He is into anything that grows, bonsai, cool looking 'root structure' etc. What a perfect Fathers day gift, eh?

ALSO- hopeful Housewife over at Hopeful Home is doing a giveaway TOMORROW featuring my Etsy shop. Up for grabs is a scarf and brooch of your choosing. I will be adding some more vintage items to my shop tonight before the giveaway so check it out TOMORROW. Did you catch the TOMORROW part?

Okay- onto other things.
In my last post I mentioned savings. Ah Money. We love it, we hate it, we need it, we want it, we abuse it, or we use it wisely. In our case we are continuing to try and be more wise with our finances. Sigh. SIGH. I KNOW we are to be good stewards. Its TOUGH! And up until this year I admit I have seen it as drudgery, avoided the little things that add up, ignored the Holy Spirits whispers to my heart about my fountain cokes at $1.00 a piece every where I go... And the clearance rack at Target, and Kohls, Old Navy, etc, etc, etc. And oh, the thrift stores! How easily my little treasures can add up there! So- whats a gal to do? My hubby talked ALOT to me about my spending, and it went in one ear and out the other. After all- I was't spending much! its not like I went to the mall and blew $100.00 a week! And then I saw the effects of his paycuts. They add up to almost the cost of our mortgage monthly. And I saw a quote by Dave Ramsey that was something to the effect of 'Say No today so you can say yes to tomorrow'. It got methinking. I DO NOT want to be barely eaking by as an old couple, dependant on my kids, or the government because I did not adequately prepare. And I know that my husbands prayers for my heart attitude to line up with his were answered. God had my attention. God has SO much to say about money. And I know that while we have had our share of difficulty, paycuts, medical expenses and such we could be doing so much more. Here are a few things we are doing different this year.

Cutting out the t.v. No- we haven't gone amish :-) We have had cable for about 6 months(yes, only 6 months), and it was savings at first do to a bundling of our services. BUT now if we cut it out we will save $30.00 a month. We are NOT buying a converter box. Why? Glad you asked. While I do not think by any means that it is wrong to have a t.v., I feel for us much more good will come out of not having one. Shaun and I will spend more time communicating instead of being tired and vegging out in front of the good old 'idiot box'. We are spending wisely AND using our time more wisely.  We will both be more apt to pick up our bible, a good book, a sudoku, etc. Our brains will get more exercise, and so will our hearts. As a mother I won't be as tempted to say 'SURE you can watch t.v.!' so i can get XYZ accomplished. Now- this will be tough at first for all involved but we WILL have a dvd player that will still function, and we have tons of card and board games. The t.v. goes after the Superbowl, or before, if our beloved Colts lose tomorrow night.

NOT buying a 2nd vehicle. Due to Shauns schedule we can actualy share a car quite easily. We were planning on buying a car this spring, now we are asking- Do we really NEED 2 cars? No, we don't. Let's let that money sit in the bank, and save on insurance, and gas, and maintenance, etc. Why in our country do we believe we need to cars, and 2 new ones at that? We have made due just fine since July and will continue to do so. If his schedule changes and the need arises, the money will still be saved, so no biggie. We can look, find, wait for the best deal on a used mini van, and not buy out of a false sense of need or on a whim.

Not feeling entitled to go to Starbucks, the video rental box, etc once or twice a week. These things really add up! If I went to Starbucks once a week we are talking a $20.00 per month expense! And quite frankly our budget cannot handle a $20.00 monthly bill. When you begin to look at things as a BILL it makes you think. Would I sign us up fora  $20.00 lawn or cleaning service? NO! We cannot afford it. So WHY are we renting new releases, and getting the $1.50 candy every weekend? We need the time for US, DON'T need the calories and sugar, and should be going to bed early not staying up till 1 am to fall asleep in front of the $3.00 movie we rented. Please don't hink I am saying you can never do these things, but when we do them less, don't we appreciate them more? I cannot help but think of Laura Ingalls Wilders recollections of Christmas as a little girl. A piece of candy and a hair ribbon to her were a treasure! Oranges a treat, and a treat they got 1 time a year! How I wish my children were so appreciative instead of whining when they don't get something at the Meijer checkout. Would doing less make them more appreciative of what they do get? Probably. And by doing less I mean by the worlds standards. My boys love to snuggle up and read with us, and play cards, and giggle and laugh, and build tents and take hikes. They don't need Chuck E cheese every week to grow up whole. They need us, lvoe, and encouragement and the Lord.

Couponing- this is a new one for me. Oh, if I got coupons I would use them, but then I saw THIS clip.  And it got my wheels turning. I started searches, and reading, and spent hours pouring over the how to's. I always thought that coupons were a gimmick. I mean $0.10 off of 2 cas of soup? HELLO! Why waste my time. Then I learned about the drugstore game, and stacking, and printables, and YEE-HAW! the lights came on!
I mean who knew that if you Have a 'Buy one get one coupon' AND the store has the item on sale B1G1 you get that item for FUH-REE!!!???!!!???!!! WHERE have these resources been all my married life?!?!?!?!?! And you can actually use 2 coupons for those things that are B1G1 free or B1G1 1/2 off.
I am learning the art of stockpiling and cutting out. I actually did not buy myself a 2 liter of Coke this week. I may be going through withdrawl BUT I stayed UNDER budget! Hubby suggested trying off brand cola. I gave him the look that could melt the North Pole. I cannot wait until I can spend $9.00 and come home with $70.00 worth of groceries. At least I hope it comes to that. Just to give you an idea of ho the first fruits are paying off I SAVED $118.47 at the stores this week. I matched my adds, my coupons, my printables, my stores, etc. I went to Walgreens, CVS, Meijer and Aldi. The drug store trips took 5 minutes each. I got FREE eyeshadow this week, and FREE cleaners and FREE Kraft Naturals cheese. Nuff said.

We are putting our under budget money in a seperate jar NOT buying more with it. If I had $100.00 budgeted for X this weeek and only spent $89.00 this does NOT mean I can go to Target and score a pair of cute shoes, or shirt for $11.00. That is the kind of thinking Washington does. And look where it has landed us. At the end of the month we add up the jar and see how much we save. And then we decide WHERE it goes. Retirement? College? Undies and socks? Those %$#& medical bills?

We have envelopes for grocery, gas and entertainment. The ONLY thing that should come out of the account on a regular basis are the budgeted for bills, and the alloted cash amount transactions. No more little $2, $1, $15 here and there. NO MORE.

We are saying no to more and yet I think we will be living more adundantly. While you will not find me refusing to color my hair to save money you will find me stockpiling my haircolor when at rock bottom prices. I will still dress stylishly, no housecoats or holey jeans here, I will just not get something new as often as I would like.
So- now that I have shared my challenges or should I say oppurtunitys for the new year I shall go and finish uploading to etsy for TOMORROW.

P.S. Anyone know how I can get spell check on my blogger dahsboard? Methinks I need it...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas Catch up

Did y'all survive and enjoy the Christmas season this year? Ours was nice. I had alot planned the week before Christmas, with family in town, hosting, having a cookie exchange. The day after family left I kind of 'checked out'. I felt 'peopled out' if you know what I mean. I love hosting, I love having family in town, but I needed some time to just myself. Hubby had 5 days off work and we spent a lazy week together with the kids. We hung out in p.j.'s on Christmas day and built legos, played Didj, and played with Noodle.
My Inlaws and Hubby were good to me- I received some ADORABLE clothes, and a pair of black boots and some brown scrunchy buckle boots that are HOT! My Inlaws always spoil us.
We have been to the carshow, had movie nights, game nights, reading nights, snowball fights, bowling nights,  and lots of snuggle time this Christmas break.  The 29th the tree came down. As did the moutnains of fresh greens, and anythign else glittery. As much as I loved my Christmas decor this year I was so ready for it to go. And the next day was spent making Pottery Barn and Ballard Knockoffs of bottles, and some moss balls.
I've neglected my blog to focus on my family, and really have been enjoying the little things. Ya know- like snuggling WAY TOO LONG on the couch in the morning watching Tom and Jerry with my 3 yr old. Or falling asleep reading on the couch next to my man instead of upstairs in the office by myself glued to the LCD screen. So this morning is a morning of catching up on the blogs I follow. With Coffee in hand, of course.
Before I leave you with some pictures-  Did any of you decide to do something different this year? Not necessarily a 'resolution'- those always get broken! But a committment to well, be different in some way. Maybe a commitment out of necessity? Or Conviction? Hubby and I are reading through the bible together in 1 year. Its been good so far, although I must say I DREAD Numbers and parts of Chronicles... Lord show me SOMETHING through those books!
I also have decided to work harder at my grocery budget. Aren't groceries ridiculously expensive? Seriously folks! I have been perusing websites and such and will have some posts for you coming up on being more grocery budget savvy. That is if I can figure it out myself! Enjoy your day and we shall talk again soon!

A manly teacup for the tea drinking man!

WHY are my pictures all over the place???? Oh well- hope you enjoyed a small glimpse in our lives- I need to get pictures from My Inlaws camera from Christmas at their house!