Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weekly Spending Summary

Okay, I don't know if I've ever not spent anything in a week before. I guess technically I did spent $0.05! :) And more if you don't count using a gift card. Anyway, it's kind of fun to see that $0. And just in case you are wondering, no we are not starving. I have so much stuff in our cupboards and freezer that I have plenty of ingredients to make all sorts of things even though I haven't done just lots of shopping lately. That's one of the benefits of using coupons! And the lack of sales and the lack of my motivation is helping me get some stuff used up.

Total Spent: $0
Total Saved with Coupons: $43.00
Total Saved with Sales: $8.65
Total Saved: $51.65

Rite Aid: $0 ($0.05 spare change)
Saved with Coupons: $6.00
Saved with Sales: $1.76

Okay, so I apparently forgot to take a picture of what I bought at Rite Aid and now I'm too lazy to go get the stuff, take a picture and upload it. So just imagine a box of Bengay (to give to my grandma), a small 22 ct. package of Carefree pantyliners and a single chocolate covered cherry (needed a small item as filler because the cashier refused to adjust my coupons down, so I got overage).

CVS: $0 (gift card)
Saved with Coupons: $37.00
Saved with Sales: $6.89

Had I not had a gift card to pay for this I would have spent $1.10. Haven't you just loved the free samples of Taster's Choice (request them here and here) and the $1 coupons that come with them? Use those $1 coupons at CVS to get the above 10 ct. boxes for free. Anyone else thinking iced coffee??

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: The Chocolate Diaries

The most recent book that I received to review from WaterBrook Multnomah was The Chocolate Diaries by Karen Scalf Linamen. I admit, that this book is not the kind of book I'd typically pick up, but I thought I should give it a fair chance anyway, and I tried to do so.

The Chocolate Diaries is a quick, easy read that offers strategies for making life sweeter especially when things get tough. Linamen gives lots of tips for handling life's stresses well- many somehow include chocolate in the mix. Her tips include things such as using laughter, having a good cry, talking to a friend, and journaling. The book is filled with stories of people that have overcome hard times and interspersed throughout are people's varied answer to the question, "What's your secret to a sweeter journey on the rocky road of life?" At the end of each chapter there is also a recipe for something chocolate...many of which sounded quite delicious!

While The Chocolate Diaries was entertaining, it was pretty much merely that- entertaining. And at times I wasn't even that entertained, but rather found myself anxious to just get through the book. And while there were parts of it that felt encouraging, I found that I didn't really feel like I learned much at all from it and neither was I particularly encouraged.

Because of that, I would give The Chocolate Diaries 2 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Chocolate Diaries for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, however all opinions are mine.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Weekly Spending Summary

Okay, so we finally got our air conditioner in and I have some energy again! Seriously, humidity and I do not get along very well and especially because my body is not used to it yet, I was really dragging this week. We've been having 80-90 degree humid weather around here. I have a pile of stuff to get caught up on now that I have some energy again! :)

And I'm sure some of you are sitting there laughing thinking I'm a real wimp. But that is okay. Maybe I am! :)

Anyway, so here's my belated weekly spending summary...

Total Spent:
Total Saved with Coupons: $49.50
Total Saved with Sales: $17.95
Total Saved: $67.45

Rite Aid
: $3.18 (+ $0.27 spare change)
Saved with Coupons: $44.50
Saved with Sales: $12.00

This is a terrible picture and you can't even tell how many packages of diapers I got. But it was five. I had intended to go back and get another two on Saturday but I never got it done as we were gone for most of the day.

Giant: $2.00
Saved with Coupons: $5.00
Saved with Sales: $5.95

Got a sweet (pun intended) deal on this chocolate and I had a $5 catalina coupon from a previous purchase that I used towards this transaction.

Anyone want to come over for cookies?

Aldi: $8.52

I had $3 cash left over from a grocery return I did earlier that I put towards this purchase.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Obtaining Coupons: Store Emails & Fliers

Grocery and drug stores aren't the only stores that you can save at by using coupons. You can also save a bundle at home decor, craft, clothing stores and even restaurants simply by signing up for their email/mailing list. Now obviously, as always, if you use the coupon for items you don't really need it is not worth it, but I'm one of those crazy people who rarely purchases something unless I have a coupon for it so I am a big fan of signing up for store coupons.

Here are a few that I've really enjoyed:

* JCPenney- Sign up here for JCPenney emails.

* Bed Bath & Beyond- Sign up here to be put on their mailing list or here for their email list.

Okay, so I love this store and always find all sorts of things I think it would be fun to have when I shop there. We get lots of coupons for 20% off any one item and occasionally even $5/$15 purchase coupons.

* GGP Malls- Go here to sign up to be part of The Club. For those of you that are local, Park City Mall is part of GGP Malls.

This is one of the best deals ever. I have gotten vouchers for free $10 mall gift cards at least five times! Now not everyone gets them every time, but you sure can't beat free money to shop at the mall!

(It appears that the page is acting fluky. I'd recommend using the link above to see if your mall is part of the GGP Malls and if it is, Googling your specific mall name and trying to sign up for The Club that way.)

* Joann Fabric & Crafts- Sign up here to join their mailing list. Once you receive you flier, take the whole thing with you to the store. The cashier needs to scan the bar code above your name and address in order for you to stay on their mailing list. If you don't have them scan that, after several mailings you will get kicked off their list. Not cool.

I frequently get fliers from them with coupons for 40 to 50% off one regular priced item. I typically don't make a special trip just to use the coupon, but if I'm in the area anyway, I often stop by and use the coupons for thread, zippers, buttons or other things that I know I'll use (since I sew quite a bit).

* Ruby Tuesday- Join their So Connected club and you'll receive a free burger on your birthday as well as lots of coupons throughout the year.

These are just a few to get you started. If you have a favorite store or restaurant, visit their website. Chances are they have a link to sign up for their mailing or email list and you can save more when you shop there.

What are your favorite stores to get coupons for?

Did you miss the other posts in this series? If so, here are links to them- Contacting Companies; Websites; Coupon Trading.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Weekly Spending Summary

I did very little shopping this week. I just simply did not feel like it. And really, the deals weren't that great either, so that helped. Well, actually, I did miss out on a pretty good deal. One of the local grocery stores had butter on sale for $1.99/lb. The lowest I've seen butter at all recently around here is $2.25 and lately it's been more like $2.50. I had planned on going and getting 10 tot 20 lbs. but somehow I just never got it done. Saturday we were in charge of coordinating a friend's wedding and I thought I'd maybe go in the morning before we left, but I wasn't really into it and so I decided to just let it pass. I could hardly believe myself! But sometimes it's just not worth making yourself more busy!

Total Spent:

Centerville Bulk Food:

Misc.: $15.50
This is cash I got to use at market for fresh produce.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekly Spending Summary

I think I finally got this straightened out. Blogger deleted some of my stuff on me and this weeks update was all messed up. I finally took the time to get it figured out.

Total Spent: $6.76
Total Saved with Coupons: $108.71
Total Saved with Sales: $37.31
Total Saved: $146.02

Rite Aid:
Saved with Coupons: $17.50
Saved with Sales: $14.75

CVS: $0 (gift card)
Saved with Coupons: $14.21
Saved with Sales: $6.29
Had I not used a gift card to pay for this purchase I would have spent $0.29. The little bottle is iron tablets.

$6.37 (+ $0.96 spare change)
Saved with Coupons: $77.00
Saved with Sales: $16.27

Did the awesome greeting card deal and was able to roll it a number of times to make $1 on every 3 cards purchased.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I'm sorry about the lack of posts this week. My plan had been to do an Obtaining Coupons post last night or this morning but every time I tried to sign into my blog Blogger was down...until now. And now I don't have time because we have plans for the evening and I need to be getting ready.

So, hopefully next week I'll be a little more present. Until then, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Might Enjoy....

* Diaper Cakes
- You've likely seen these before. I've always thought they were kind of neat, but I never was quite sure how to make them. Now I know!

* 15 Ways to Use Baking Soda
- I especially like the tip for using it to clean combs and brushes. I'd be embarrassed if any of you saw mine right now!

* How to Make Map Wall Art
- If we ever have a home with a study I'd love to make some of these. Aren't they so cool?

* Artificial Food Coloring- Is it Safe?
- I found this post very fascinating. I have a nephew who can't eat anything with the dye red40 in it (and it's in a LOT of things) because it makes him feel hyper and wired. More companies are switching to natural food coloring. Why not make it mandatory?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Purex Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to entry #21:

Charlotte (email- britchick56)

Please respond to the email I send you within 48 hours.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reminder: Giveaway Ends Tomorrow!

If you haven't entered my giveaway for 2 Purex Detergent FREE Product coupons, you'll want to do it now. The giveaway ends tomorrow night (5/6) at midnight.

Obtaining Coupons: Coupon Trading

I know, I've been a bit slack in continuing this series. Life has just been a bit hectic and well, if I'm honest, I probably also stink at planning sometimes. I'm sorry. I know that doesn't necessarily make you want to keep reading this blog, but it makes me feel better at least. :)

Today's tip for obtaining coupons is to use a coupon trading site. For quite a long time I had heard about people swapping coupons on these trading sites but somehow it just seemed daunting and so I kept avoiding them. Then one day I was really wishing for more of a rare Finish dishwasher detergent coupon and decided maybe I should give this whole coupon trading thing a whirl. I found it relatively easy to do and have had great success trading.

I've checked out several other coupon trading websites, but the one that I've found the easiest to navigate and ultimately have stuck with is Southern Saver's Traders. (There is also a coupon trading group here that split off the Southern Saver's Traders because they didn't like the new format that SST was using.) You will have to join the group in order to participate, but I don't remember it being that difficult to do.

I'll be honest, I don't use coupon trading sites nearly every day, or even every week. That is simply because I typically can get the coupons I need in other ways that are absolutely free. You might say that coupon trading is free too, but remember you have to pay for postage to mail your coupons to the other person. And for myself, often when I figure in the $0.44 for the stamp, it hardly makes it worth it.

My Finish Stash that I Got with Traded Coupons

However, there are definitely times I have found it to be very worth it, even if I do have to pay $0.44 postage. For instance, if there are coupons that are high value and ones that I don't see very often, I will trade for them. Last summer there was a coupon for $2.50/1 Finish Dishwasher Detergent. I knew that this coupon was both high value and rare and I also knew that it would get me some free or nearly free detergent. So I did a request post and soon had 2 people offering me a total of 10 coupons. I traded them for some veggie coupons, which I rarely use, and with the $2.50 Finish coupons was able to get 10 packages of Finish gelcaps for free or less than $0.50 each! I'm thinking they should last me about a year and hopefully by that time there will be another hot coupon available.

Also, back when the $10 Amazon Baby coupons were popular I was successful in trading some random coupons that I wasn't going to use for several of the $10 Amazon coupons and as a result I got some packs of diapers and wipes for pennies.

So once you join a coupon trading site, how does it work? Well, you can either post coupons that you are looking for or offer coupons that you don't want but are willing to trade to someone. For instance, say you know that there is $2.50 Pampers you'd really like to have. You'd post something like this on the trader website:
ISO- $2.50 Pampers Coupon Looking for the $2.50 Pampers coupon from the May '11 Parenting magazine. Will trade for veggie coupons.

ISO simply means In Search Of. Then you want to list the coupon or coupons you want and where it can be found if possible. You'll also want to list what you are willing to trade the coupon for. You can list specific coupons or just say that you will try to swap whatever the other person wants.

Or maybe you don't have kids and you have a bunch of Huggies coupons that you'd love to trade for something else. You'd say something like this:
For Trade- Lots of Huggies Coupons Have lots of Huggies coupons: three $1.50/1, four $1/1, two $2/1 diapers. All have at least an expiration date of 6/30/11. Would love to have coupons for Wisk detergent, General Mills cereal and/or Hunts ketchup in exchange.

And then you just wait and hope for someone to bite! :)

A couple of tips for trading coupons:
* Trade fair. If someone is offering a $3 Wisk coupon don't offer to trade for a $1 Huggies coupon. Offer 3 $1 coupons to give a more equal trade. This seems obvious, but unfortunately not everyone does this.

* Coupons for veggies, baby items, dishwasher detergent, and pet food are some of the easiest coupons to trade from my experience. I think it is because so many people don't have a need for these items (veggies maybe being the exception) and so they are more than happy to trade for something else.

* Be specific about exactly what you are looking for. The more specific you are, especially about where to locate the coupon, the more chance you have of someone helping you out.

* Be specific about the coupons you are posting. It is helpful to list the number of coupons you are offering and the dollar value as well as the expiration date.

Did you miss the first two posts in this series? Read them now: Websites; Contacting Companies.

Have you used coupon trading sites? Has it been a good experience? What tips do you have?

A Smile for Your Day

Who knew Garfield had a coupon clipping habit?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recyclebank: 25 Points

You can earn another 25 points at Recyclebank when you take the quiz provided by Dove. Simply click on the "Earn Points" tab and you should see the link.

Also, watch the side of the page for some of the ads. There are several that if you click on them, will allow you to earn more points.

Recyclebank is an easy way to get a few more coupons. As you earn points you can trade them for lots of different coupons. Recyclebank frequently has specials where you can get coupon for only 5 points. I love Recyclebank and find that it's an easy way to save just a little bit more.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monthly Spending Summary

I did pretty well this month with our grocery budget, even though I bought a pile of stuff. I've really been trying to cut back on buying things unless it is (1) a super good price or (2) something we really need because our cupboards, freezer and pantry are quite full!

Monthly Grocery/Household Budget: $190

Total Spent: $157.02
Total Saved with Coupons/Sales: $410.34

Week 1: $53.87
Week 2: $34.78
Week 3: $26.86
Week 4: $41.51

Credits: $38.97
- This was all from Rite Aid Single Check Rebates.

Ending Monthly Balance: $118.05
Balance carried from Jan.-Mar.: $101.85

Ending Annual Balance: $173.80
- In case you are confused, this is the amount I have left over for the year. This comes from being under budget in some previous months. So basically I am ahead by $173.80 for the year. No worries though, I will use this up fast when it comes time to can and freeze produce and fruit!

Giant: Free Hallmark Cards + Making the Most of the Catalinas

I just got back from a fun little shopping trip at Giant where I used a moneymaker to get some other items I wanted for almost free. Let me explain. Giant is running this deal this week:

Buy 3 Hallmark Greeting Cards get a $5 catalina* (read the comments on Shannon's blog!)
- plus you get 10% off each greeting card when you use your Bonus Card**

So, here's what I did.

Transaction 1:
3 Hallmark $0.99 cards (rang up $0.89 each with 10% off)
Paid: $2.83 with tax
Got: $5 catalina coupon to use on my next order

Transaction 2:
3 Hallmark $0.99 cards (rang up $0.89 each with 10% off)
Lays chips $3.19
- $1 Lays chips coupon (from newspaper insert)
- $5 catalina from trans. 1
Paid: $0.02
Got: $5 catalina coupon to use on my next order

Transaction 3:
3 Hallmark $0.99 cards (rang up $0.89 each with 10% off)
Herr's chips $3.00
Heinz vinegar $1.29
- $1 Herr's coupon (from newspaper insert)
- $0.50 Heinz printable (doubled to $1)
- $5 catalina from trans. 2
Paid: $0.12
Got: $5 catalina coupon to use on my next order

If I really just needed cards desperately and did lots of shopping at Giant I could just keep buying cards and save the $5 catalinas for another week since they don't expire until 5/28. However, I usually don't spend that much out of pocket at Giant and since I don't desperately need greeting cards I decided to keep rolling this deal and get some other things almost free that I was wanting to get anyway- and I'll still get gobs of greeting cards, I just won't be paying for them, if you follow what I'm saying. Oh and this is where self checkout comes in handy! It makes it easy to do multiple transactions and you don't have people waiting behind you getting all antsy.

I plan to go back and do this deal some more later on in the week. It's a great way to get things for free. In fact, you could get approximately $2.17 in produce and buy it with the 3 Hallmark $0.99 cards, use one of your $5 catalinas to pay for it, and you'd get free produce plus 3 free cards!

I'm guessing you are getting the picture. Be creative and use these kinds of deals to get more groceries for your cupboard for free!

Oh, and if you are heading to Giant anyway, check out all the sale match-ups here.

* A catalina is a coupon that prints out at the register when you buy certain items. You can't use the catalina coupon on the transaction that produced it, but you can use it immediately on another transaction.
** What's a Bonus card? It's Giant's store card that you need to get the sale prices.

Weekly Spending Summary

I didn't even set foot in Giant or Rite Aid this week, but I did go to Walmart, Aldi and the bulk food store, so I guess that made up for it.

Total Spent: $41.51
Total Saved with Coupons: $18.47
Total Saved with Sales: $9.23
Total Saved: $27.70

$0 (gift card)
Saved with Coupons: $9.97
Saved with Sales: $9.23

Don't you just love my huge CVS purchase? :) I know, I know. I really shouldn't be so excessive in my buying.

$0 (gift card)
Saved with Coupons: $8.50

I don't go to Walmart very often but since I wanted to get a non-grocery item I decided to get a few groceries as well. Had I not used a gift card (I had one from returning some merchandise several months ago) I would have paid $3.93 for this purchase.

Aldi: $26.44

I also bought 3 HUGE fresh pizzas and a bunch of bananas that never made it on the picture. Oh and I did something really dumb. I was in a hurry when I got home and thought that I'd put the groceries away later, thinking I hadn't bought anything that needed to be in the fridge or freezer (other than the pizza). Well, when I finally got to the groceries I was horrified to find 2 containers of frozen orange juice concentrate warm as could be. So, I'm guessing that was $2.18 literally down the drain. :( I did put them in the freezer and I figured I'll see what it looks and smells like when I go to use it, but I'm skeptical.

: $15.07

I bought some stuff at the local Amish bulk food store. Love that place! I sometimes wonder how much I save by buying food there in bulk.