Sunday, June 27, 2010
Learning how to save money takes time, patience and humility. I have the first . . . God's working on me on the other 2. I'm still really enjoying this new fangled idea (to me at least) of couponing. I mean, what's not to love about saving money? But there are a few tricks of the trade I haven't yet mastered. I currently have piles of cut coupons on my coffee table and I'm pretty sure I have some cereal ones mixed with cleaning product coupons because I can't remember which coupons go in which category. I've renamed the tabs in my coupon organizer 3 times. They used to look really cute with a cool color scheme, but now I've had to flip almost all of them over to white so I could write a new category. So much for a snazzy looking organizer that only I see.
Basically, I need to remember to take a deep breath, and realize that I can't be THAT Mom who only spends $35 a week on all groceries . . . yet.
Well, I better get back to organizing my coupons for the week. I have to say though, last week I ended up spending more than $50, so this week, I'm not going to the store to buy any groceries, except for a few basics, like milk and butter. I'm going to attempt to use ONLY what I have on hand. It should be doable because last week I had leftovers of certain ingredients. I still have ham and chicken. I'll try and let you know what I end up making.
I also wanted to say that if anyone reading this is wanting to get started couponing, but you don't know how, start now! I'm learning too so we can learn together. I plan on blogging quite a bit about this whole process. If you are really interested, here are some basic first steps:
1. Go to Wal-Mart and buy a $1 coupon organizer. It makes you feel more organized, and more official. Like you just joined a crazy Mom club . . . which you have.
2. Buy a Sunday paper (or ask someone who doesn't use the inserts if you can have them).
3. Look through the coupons and cut ANY coupon you think you MIGHT want in the future. This has been my mistake the past few weeks. I keep seeing deals that say "Use the 3/11/10 coupon for Suddenly Salad" so clip it now, even if you don't need it this week.
4. Look through your cupboards and make mental (or real if you're uber organized) notes of what is there.
5. Make a menu of at least 3 meals you could make with ingredients you JUST have on hand.
6. Then check out your coupons and gather 2-3 more meals based on things you can buy on sale.
7. When you arrive at the store, grab the weekly special paper and see what stuff is on sale. Try and use coupons only on things that are already on sale.
This is the BASICS and how I've been starting out. I'm getting better and saving more each week. If you need help coming up with a menu, leave a comment with your list of food items/or coupons and I'll help you out! Seriously! You can email them to me if you need it. OK. Let's keep learning about this together.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
-$1 Hy-Vee box cereal (stock up on knock off rice krispies, cheerios and cornflakes to use in rice krispie treats, baby snacks, and casserole toppers)
-10% off a bag full of dairy items
-2/$5 Tennessee Pride sausage (and if you have the coupon from this past Sunday for $1 off, it's even cheaper!) Use 1 lb of sausage in lasagna, and the other you can save for a breafast for dinner meal, pizza, or an actual breakfast!
I'll be looking at recipes with eggs in them over the next few weeks because I now have 3 dozen eggs in my fridge! I'm thinking quiches, breakfast casseroles will be on the menu. Anyone have some great recipes using eggs that are not specific to breakfast? I'd love to hear them!
P.S. I pretty much live right across from a Hy-Vee so it's pretty convenient for me to stop in there when I'm checking on a coupon deal. In case you were wondering . . . .
Thanks to Lorrie at Natural on a Budget for the great site!
I had a coupon for $1 off 2 packs of Rayovac alkaline batteries. On various sites, I'd read that there were some Rayovac batteries on sale for $1 at Target. People using 2 coupons were getting them for free! Well I went to check it out (and buy 2 loafs of bread for .50 each at the grocery store next door!) and by the time I was in line, I realized the packs I had in my hand were not alkaline as the coupon insisted. Also, how were people getting them for free since the coupon said it could not be combined with any other coupons, and the limie was 1 per customer. I only had one coupon so I felt OK about that, and I also figured that if the batteries I had didn't align with the coupon's requirments, it wouldn't work.When I gave the coupon to the very friendly cashier, she had no problem scanning the coupon. It took the dollar off just like that!
So here is my question that I'm researching (and we all know that "research" done online is totally legit . . .): do coupons have bar codes on them that let the computer know how to apply the price reduction, in accordance with the coupons requirements? Or is it solely dependent on the cashier reading the coupon correctly?
I want to make sure I'm doing this all legally so I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on the subject as well as any legitimate sites that provide coupon guidlines. Here is a great article I found and I'm now headed over to one of my favorite sites, The Coupon Mom.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Also, tomorrow the dairy section is having a good deal as well: fill one paper grocery bag with dairy items and save 10%. This is a prime opportunity to combine coupons with a great store deal. As for me, I already used some of my best dairy coupons earlier this week so I'm not going to go spend more money just to save 10%. But if you happen to have a lot of dairy coupons, you need to take advantage of this deal!
Click here to learn more.
The Hippies: These are the people who place the environment above all else. It doesn't matter if that bottle of cleaning spray costs $8.99. It's chemical free and won't harm the environment. The Hippies are usually found at food co-ops, organic grocery stores and in their own garden. To them, it's worth it to spend the money on something that is organic and chemical free.
The Yuppies: When I'm behind a 20's something wearing $100 shoes, talking on her cell while she absently unloads her groceries onto the belt, I know I'm behind a Yuppy. Or a DINK. (Duel Income No Kids). This woman doesn't care what she spends at the grocery store because she makes enough to pay for it. Sometimes these people come in the form of a Grandma who works full time and would rather spend her time with family. For these people time is their bottom line. They work full time so it's not worth it to them to spend the time clipping coupons. I fully expect and hope that one day I'll be like this. Sure, I will still look for deals, but there will come a time when my Bottom Line will not be money, it will be time.
The Penny Pinchers: That's me. My Bottom Line is money. I stay at home with 2 kids while my husband works part time and attends graduate school. Money is my bottom line because it has to be. We don't have the luxury of spending whatever we want on groceries. We have a budget and we stick to it. So to me, it's worth it to take the time to clip coupons.
Of all of these three types of people, not one is the correct way to live. You just need to decide what your Bottom Line is. Couponing can be frustrating for some if their Bottom Line is Time, but they think they "should" be clipping coupons. If you are a Coupons For Life! kind of woman, DON'T make those who despise couponing feel like they are less than the ideal woman. And you Hippies? We're glad you love saving the environment, just don't scoff as those of us who don't have the money to save it with you.
I hope you are enjoying reading about my coupon and money saving journey. But if your bottom line isn't money, like it is mine, I understand that you might not find the coupon tips that beneficial. Hopefully, you can still find the recipes and menu planning helpful. Let me know if there's something you'd like to see on my blog to help you with YOUR Bottom Line.
My very first trip to a CVS Pharmacy . . .
I headed out the door with my Wal-Mart coupon organizer and CVS Sunday ad in hand. As I walked in I scanned the store looking for an employee who could help me sign up for the Extra Bucks CVS reward card. Standing in line I remember thinking. "This is a memorable moment. Someday it will be a fond memory of the day I started making money off of CVS." And then I took a tissue and dabbed at my tears while I composed myself.
OK, most of that didn't really happen. But I was excited to finally give this CVS goldmine a try! It was fast and easy to sign-up for the card and the cashier even gave me my very own card right away. It came with 2 key chain versions as well.
Next, I headed for my target: a 64 count box of Huggies diapers on sale for $19.99. With the CVS card, the price went down to $9.99. And did I mention I had coupon for $3 off? Oh yeah. That brought my total down to $6.99. Seriously? $6.99 for a BOX of diapers? That's almost half the price of the Target brand I usually buy!
When I arrived at the cash register I kind of felt like a teenage guy asking out his first date. Do I hand them the coupon first? Are they going to roll their eyes at yet another Mom using coupons to get free stuff? Turns out you first hand them your CVS card, so they can ring up your sale purchase. If you have any coupons to use, hand them over next. On my receipt, there was a bar code at the bottom and a note that said I earned 10 extra care bucks(ECB's). Woo hoo!
I was feeling very ambitious now. So I thought about toiletry things I needed but haven't yet bought because I didn't have coupons. I went back down the aisles and grabbed a few items totaling $7.
When I arrived at the cash register for the 2nd time, I was excited to use the ECB's to purchase these things and then get more ECB's back! Turns out I was wrong . . . I COULD have used my ECB's to purchase those things, but the amount needed to equal at least $10. Darn it . . . So I talked to the cashier and asked questions to make sure I understood the whole system correctly.
When I arrived home, I read the CVSing guide on http://www.southernsavers.com/ which explained what I'd missed: The first time you buy an ECB item, you pay real money. You can then use those ECB to buy other ECB items. AND, you'll get the new ECB bonus. So they just keep rolling over! You can use ECB to pay for normal items, which I'm sure I'll use once I get a better hang of this. But you get the real things for free when you use ECB to purchase other ECB items.
Whew. I'm so glad I got my first CVS trip done. I may have felt like a fish out of water but now that I understanding it more, I can't wait to keep rolling those ECB!
Anyone else a CVSer? What deals are you finding?
UPDATE: Thanks Kaci for the tip about Money Saving Mom. I check her blog frequently but I didn't know that she listed the specials for ECB's each week at CVS! Click here if you want to read more about it!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I first went to Hy-Vee where I realized I'd made my first mistake: Weekly specials are changed every Wednesday so last weeks specials were still up, while I had this week's coupons from the Sunday paper. Oops. But it worked out fine because Hy-Vee was offering some things at sale prices that I also had coupons for. If you remember my list from yesterday, I ended up buying cottage cheese, yogurt, sugar and hot dogs from Hy-Vee.(plus a few other items)
- I bought 2 4-packs of brand name yogurt for less than a dollar each because I had TWO coupons, for each. (One printable, one from the paper.) I think I spent less than .50 on each!
- The cottage cheese was name brand, but it was on sale, and then I had a coupon for .50 off so it made it cheaper than I could have bought it for at Aldi. That's a deal!
- All in all my total was $10.10 because I saved over $6 in coupons! This ratio encouraged me because the first time I attempted coupons with no real list and no real plan, I saved $10 and spent a total of $80!
At Aldi . . . I also messed up there. I had left my blog post up on my iPod so I could read my list at the store. When I arrived, for some reason, it only showed a white page. (And it had nothing to do with the fact that I wasn't connected to the Internet in case you are wondering if I'm that stupid.) So I had to re-create my list from memory . . . which means I forgot some stuff after the fact. I did however discovered a few things at Aldi:
- Chicken is cheaper there than Sams! $5.49/3lbs vs $11.89/6lbs at Sams
- Produce isn't really cheaper there (nor is it that great). A head of lettuce is $1.19 and I can get romaine or a head of lettuce at Hy-Vee for .99. Grapes at Aldi are REALLY good, but they are more expensive.
- You can't pick just a few potatoes or a few onions at Aldi. So although it might be slightly cheaper or the same amount to buy a 3 lb bag of onions at Aldi, I wouldn't do it because I know I won't use all of those before they go bad and I only need 1 or 2 anyways. I'll keep getting my produce at Hy-Vee so I can pick exactly how many of each thing I want. At Aldi, you usually have to buy a big bag of something.
- Canned items are hands down way cheaper at Aldi. Trust me.
- I got a dozen of large eggs for .77 at Aldi!! That's a deal!
- My hot dog purchase at Hy-Vee was a great deal . . . until I saw that I could have bought the same amount for less at Aldi. This is a prime example of how even after using a store discount combined with a coupon, sometimes Aldi is just cheaper!
Although I made a few mistakes and spent way too much at Hy-Vee that 2nd time, I'm glad I was able to see the drastic difference between shopping with a plan and coupons, and NOT. Plus, I was able to add more items to my list of each store. Like I mentioned before, I take my trusty iPod with me and I have a running list of prices for the things I regularly buy. This will help as I do future planning because I can figure out ahead of time if the coupon deal will be cheaper or not.
Stick with me-I hope to keep saving more money!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Tuesday-Broccoli Ham Ring served with lettuce salad
Wednesday-Lasagna served with lettuce salad and garlic crescent rolls
Thursday-Broccoli and Chicken in Noodles, side of Fruit
Friday-Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with baked beans and chips
Saturday-I'm out of town with the kids so Jesse will enjoy the lasagna leftovers!
Sunday-Still out of town for lunch, but I'll probably do homemade pizza for supper.
Monday-Scalloped potatoes and Ham with frozen veggies
GROCERY LISTSHy-Vee(Only using Sunday paper coupons or printable coupons. If the bottom line price is still more expensive then Aldi's, I will NOT buy the item at Hy-Vee. I'll wait until I head to Aldi)
- 2 cans refridgerated crescent rolls-$1 off 3 Pillsbury (use 3rd as side dish on lasagna day)
- Cottage cheese-.50 off 24 oz. Roberts dairy(will use in broccoli ham ring and lasagna)
- Cooked ham-$1 off 2 packages of cubed turkey or ham (Farmland), or $1 off Farmland select ham
- 1 lb sausage- $1 off Odom's Tennesse Pride sausage plus ground beef (You'll use that ground beef on Friday!)
- Hot dogs-$1 off Oscar Meyer package
- Yogurt-I have a bunch of printable coupons. This is just for our general snack food.
- Sugar-$2 off when you buy 10 Kool-aid packets. I've been wanting lemonaid and now I'll have it!
- Pepperoni slices
- 2 Broccoli crowns(use in Tuesday's and Thursday's meal)
- Onions (Broccoli Ham ring, and I'm out and usually have these on hand)
- Lasagna noodles
- Tomato paste(Lasagna)
- Parmesan cheese(Lasagna and Alfredo Sauce)
- Eggs(Lasagna and general use)
- Lettuce(I love serving salads with my meals if you can't tell!)
- Cream cheese(Alfredo sauce)
- Hot Dog buns
- Cheese(mozzarella for lasagna as I used my last on Broccoli Ham Ring-I'll shred it myself!)
- Potatoes(Monday's meal and general use-I'm out!)
- Butter(General use)
- Grapes(General use)
- Chips and snack items we're out of
Broccoli Ham Ring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size bowl, mix the following:
- 1 cup cooked meat (ham, turkey or chicken)
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/3 cup cottage cheese
- 8 oz shredded cheese (I'm using mozzarella this time)
- 1 tsp of dry mustard or just squirt in some regular mustard like I usually do
- Squirt of lemon juice or squeeze some out of a lemon
- 1 tsp parsley
Recipe from my mother-in-law via Pampered Chef.
Lasagna with salad and garlic bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown meat, drain. Add onion, garlic and cook a few minutes more. Stir in tomatoes and paste, water, salt and oregano. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir occasionaly. In other dish, combine cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley. Grease 9x13 pan. Put noodles on bottom layer. Spread 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 of mozzarella, and 1/2 of meat sauce. Repeat. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, then uncovered for another 30 minutes.
Recipe from my mother-in-law, tweeked by me.
Broccoli and Chicken in Noodles
- Boil water for noodles and follow package directions.
- Cut chicken breasts in bite size pieces then place in skillet with oil. Sprinkle your favorite herbs (I'll be using thyme, rosemary and basil) on chicken as they cook.
- Steam broccoli.
- Make alfredo sauce last: 1 stick butter, 1 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/4 c. milk, 2/3 Parmesan cheese. Melt butter and cream cheese. Wisk until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and milk and whisk til smooth. Serve immediately. Thickens quickly!
- You can either leave the broccoli as a side dish, or mix it in with the chicken and noodles.
Alfredo recipe from Jenny Kuphal.
Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with baked beans
I think you know what to do with burgers and hot dogs! Make your favorite baked beans recipe.
Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
5 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 quart heavy cream (I always use milk)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place the potatoes, onion, garlic, Cheddar cheese, and ham in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Gently stir until well combined. Pour the cream over the potato mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven until the potatoes are tender, about 1 hour.
I'll let you know if I can do all of this for under 50$! If anyone tries this same menu, let me know how much you spent. I'll shoot for another coupon/recipe match up next week too and try and cut my grocery bill even slimmer!
OK, not really but I do hope to be that person who spends very little on groceries. Right now Jesse is job hunting, and once his school starts in the Fall he'll be going to school full time, while working part time. This couponing thing has now become a necessity. But I'm not going to lie . . . it's kind of fun!
About a month ago we drove to Virginia to buy a mini-van from my Aunt and Uncle. I think the real reason we went was that I needed someone to tell me about the addicting game of saving money through coupons. My cousin Emily gave me a basic lesson and directed me to some great websites. I left Virginia with a new mentality of shopping.
Lessons from Emily: Combine manufacture's coupons with store coupons and then use them to buy things already on sale. Also, CVS Pharmacy can be a gold mine!
Then we ventured west past Knoxvull (that's how they say it . . .) and stopped in good 'ole Nashville to see Jesse's Aunt and family. While we were there, Jesse's cousin gave me a coupon lesson too! So between 2 cousins, I came back to Iowa ready to start saving!
Lessons from Keely: Create your menu for the week based on what's on sale. Don't create your menu and then find out what menu items you can get on sale, and what items you have to pay full price for.
Now that we are on our own and buying all of our own groceries, I've started clipping coupons and shopping around. I've been to Sams, Hy-Vee, and Aldi (all stores fairly close to our apartment) to compare prices of all the items that I usually have on hand, or use in recipes frequently. I took my iPod touch with me (It's like my 3rd child-I can't leave home without it!) and made a running list of how much things cost at each place. Here is what I discovered:
Sam's-Has the cheapest milk, and the cheapest frozen chicken breasts. Occasionally I'll buy ground beef in bulk there but it's not something I use often in recipes so it's not on my list. Overall, I wouldn't say that buying in bulk at Sam's really saves you that much. (See Hy-Vee info to understand why)
Hy-Vee-Their in-store promotions combined with manufacturers coupon and/or store coupons can get you some really cheap stuff. Here were some of my deals last week:
- I bought 4 boxes of cereal at 2 for 5$, then used a 1$ off coupon for each pair, THEN I got a gallon of FREE milk because Hy-Vee had a special. Four boxes of name brand cereal and a gallon of milk for 6$. Pretty good!
- I had a manufacturer's coupon for .50 off a box of pasta. Then Hy-Vee had a sale going on that took another .75 off. So I ended up spending .53 for a box of pasta! Since I'd already done comparison shopping, I knew that it was cheaper than I could get at Aldi.
- Eggs (.88/dozen!)
- Dairy products
- Chips/snack food
- Canned food items
- Ice cream
- Deli meat (sometimes)
Coming soon . . .
- CVS deals. This week I'll attempt to buy a large box of diapers for only $6.99! I'll let you know how it goes!
- A list of great websites that have helped me understand how to save money using coupons, while not losing the big picture, and not spending all of my time doing it.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Checking out the Frog Fountain.
While we didn't bring a lawnchair or half naked kid, we did enjoy walking around this very cute "downtown" while doing some window shopping. I think I found my new favorite store.
Sammy representing in ISU wear.
Double fisting it . . .
Oh look . . . there's more.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
- Paint the ugly 50's dresser a classic black and install new hardware.
- Paint my white window frame black (hangs on the wall-love it. )
- Paint Sammy's changing table white.
- Build a cornhole game for us!!!
- Strip the paint on our new (to us) washer and repaint it with Rustoleum.
- Paint Renae's step stool black.
- Rearrange the bedroom furniture (My muscles are useless-we needed Kevin's.)
- Plant our garden! (It rained too much though and we weren't able to do it.)
I think there were more things on the list but you get the jist-we got a lot done! Almost all of the ideas were mine. The only one project I actually "helped" on was the changing table and Renae's stool. Both of which had to be finished and fixed by Kevin. (Who knew you could get a finger cramp from spray painting?) Thanks Penni and Kevin for help with all the projects!! Hopefully you can see more pictures of our weekend if Penni ever updates her blog . . .
We took a visit to the Crayola Store in Downtown KC.
The Crown Center was hosting a Clifford Exhibit-Renae loved it!
Monday, June 14, 2010
1 moving van, 1 swagger wagon, 1 "SUV" and a compact car
We're 27 and 28 years old and we finally moved out of our parents house! OK, cut us some slack . . . we returned from almost 2 years living in Spain and had no place to live for 4 months before moving down to Kansas City. My parents were very gracious to let us camp out at their place. We wore out our welcome though and finally made the big move.
One of Sammy's last naps in Nana and Grandpy's house.
I mentioned before that Jesse will be getting his Master's of Counseling beginning this fall. This begins at least a 3 year seminary living experience for us. Now that we've been here a week, I can say that some of the sterotypes are true. Jesse attended a video game night that (of course) ended with a few guys praying the sterotypical Christian jargon kind of prayers. There hearts are in the right place I'm sure . . . (and obviously my judgmental heart is not! )
Renae and her confident self on the way to her new park. ( No Jaime at this one :( )
Thankfully, not all of the people fit the sterotypes and we've already met some pretty cool neighbors. Jesse has even made one guy jealous due to "our" recent Cornhole game project. Hmmm . . . since some people think Cornhole is a bad term should I start calling it The Bean Bag Toss game? Or since we live at the seminary, Bible Toss??
Checking out our garden plot
One of the cool things about living on seminary is they have a garden! We lucked out (ahem-were blessed) to get a plot that no one was using. It's not in the greatest spot in the garden but hey, we're just giving it a shot anyways. My thumb is a dark shade of pink so I'll be calling my Mother-in-law for lots of advice with our garden.
All of the garden plots
I'm hoping planting a garden will save us some money because I've now jumped on the Penny Pinching wagon and every little bit helps. I've also jumped on the Half-off Coupon-Cutting wagon which is actually pretty fun so far. Last week I saved 15 dollars in coupons-and I didn't even go in with that great of a plan!
In all seriousness, we are really excited to be here. Jesse is looking forward to starting his career path, and I'm looking forward to what adventures will be coming our way. We know it won't be easy by any means, but we saw how many cool (though at times hard) things God taught us while in Spain and we are trusting the same will happen in this next phase!