Monday, August 30, 2010

Saving Cents on Scents & Shaving

If you got last week's Sunday coupons (8/22), then you might have clipped some of the coupons I used on a Target trip last week. Target's coupon policy allows you to "stack" a Target Coupon with a Manufacturer Coupon. Before learning this policy, I rarely shopped for household goods like cleaners, food, or toiletry items because I think their regular prices are kind of high. Well, since starting couponing, I have gotten quite a few fantastic deals. Here's last week's steals:

Airwick Twin-Pack: On Clearance for $3.48
Used $1/1 Airwick Twin Pack from SS (date unknown)
Used $1/1 Airwick Twin Pack from Target
Total Price: $1.48

Glade Premium Room Spray: $2.79
Used $1/1 Glade Fall Seasonal Item from Target
Used $1/1 Glade Premium Room Spray from here (to avoid looking through tons of pages, just click on the glade savings on the left-hand side of the page)
Total Price: $.79 each (bought 2)

Skintimate Shaving Gel: $2.24
Used $1/1 Target coupon from 8/22 SmartSource
Used $.75/1 from SmartSource (date unknown)
Total Price: $.49 each (bought 2)

Edge Shaving Gel: $1.97
Used $1/1 Target coupon from 8/22 SmartSource
Used $.75/1 from SmartSource (date unknown)
Total Price: $.22 each (bought 1)

Total Target Trip: $4.90 (including tax)

Check out the Target because there have been some great coupons I have printed every time they put them out, like:
  •  $1/1 Chef Boyourdee, which makes cans of Ravioli completely FREE
  • $.50/1 SoBe, which you can print two per computer, stack them with a B1G1 from Sobe's Heads or Tails game (you can play once a day for free, but it ends soon)
  • $.50/1 PaperMate products, for cheap or free pens (I bought 8 free packs while they were on sale for $.50 and donated them to our church youth group)
  • $1/1 Bic Stationary Product, stacked with $1/2 Bic Stationary Coupon, for more free or cheap pens (donated several more free packs to the youth group)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fun Freebie: Cookies for Kids!

As I was blogging for my post earlier today, I was surfing the Giant Eagle website (one of our local grocery stores) for their coupon policy. I discovered a fantastic deal I look forward to registering Levi for next year: for $1 (100% goes to local children's hospitals), you can get a "cookie card" for your child (12 & under) that is good for the whole year, and every time you go grocery shopping, you can stop at the bakery, show them the card, and your child gets a free cookie!

I remember doing this as a child, and how excited my sisters and I were when we went grocery shopping with my mom, because we'd get to go pick out our free cookie. My favorite was a shortbread type cookie with nuts, hollow on the inside, and dipped in chocolate on the outside.

Did any of you ever get a free bakery cookie when you were a child? What was your favorite?

Sunday Savings

Today after church, my husband stopped at Giant Eagle with me to pick up groceries. I have been watching the weekly ads, and planning my trips for when things I want to stock up on are on sale, and I can take advantage of Giant Eagle's coupon doubling policy. This time I also was able to use a few eOffers that I had loaded to my GE Advantage Card. After two months of couponing, I am finally starting to see savings. Because now I'm not only getting great deals on things I need for this week, but I've also started being able to stock up for the future, when I can get things now for a great price. We are stocked up on basics like toothpaste, razors, contact solution, cereal, toilet paper, paper towels, soup, snack bars, mac & cheese... Yay!

So here is today's shopping spree (I won't always remember the exact coupon date/source-I'm still learning this blogging thing) Any coupons under $.99 were doubled: 

Select Always or Tampax: 3/$8
Used $1/1 Always Pads from 8/29 P&G
Used $1/1 Tampax from 8/29 P&G
Used $.55/1 Always Liners from 8/29 P&G
Total: $1.63 each

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: 10/$10
Used $.55/2 from Kraft's Game (printed twice by pushing the back button on my browser)
Total: $.45 each box (bought 4)

MultiGrain Cheerios: 4/$10
Used $.75/1 from here (printed twice)
Stacked with $.75/1 from Giant Eagle eOffers (no longer available)
Total: $.63 each (bought 2, for my cheerio eating machine named Levi)

Giant Eagle Farmer's Market Salad: 10/$10
Used $.50/1 from Giant Eagle eOffers (no longer available)
Total: $.50 each (bought 1)

Ken's Dressing or Marinade: 2/$3
Used $.55/2 on Ken's Salad Dressings from previous SS (date unknown, maybe 8/22?)
Used $1/1 on Ken's Marinade from same source as above
Total: $.95 each for dressing, $.50 for marinade (bought 3 total)

Campbell's Chunky Soup, Hearty Request: 8/$10
Used $.50/1 from Campbell's (printed two from my laptop, two from my husband's)
Total: $.25 each (bought 4)

Tyson's Chicken Nuggets: $5.99
Used $1/1 from 8/22 SS
Total: $4.99 each (bought 1--my husband loves an occasional dinner of mac& cheese with nuggets)

Shopping Trip Total: $16.02 (including an additional $1.42 taken off from "FoodPerks")

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Cup of Morning Coffee!

As a friend in college jokingly told me, I like my coffee so "blonde" (with cream), that it's albino! And it's true. I especially love flavored creamers. I discovered this summer that Coffee Mate has coupons at their website regularly. My favorite is the $.75/1 coupon. You have to give your email address (which is another time when having an email address for coupons/freebies is very handy), and if you hit the back button, you can print the coupon twice. I have been able to print this off every month this summer. I use this at Giant Eagle (which doubles coupons under $.99) or Walmart, and am able to feed my addiction for a lot cheaper!

To make this even sweeter, I discovered a few weeks ago that using the baby food processor someone gave us (which is great for small amounts), makes a very frothy, sweet morning treat! I only drink one 12oz. cup of coffee every morning, and this has made my morning routine really fun! I added up the calories the other day, and it's only 120 (which I think is pretty good for a coffee treat compared to coffee-house calories). I add two tablespoons of flavored creamer (70 calories) and 1 tablespoon of caramel topping (50 calories) to my cup of coffee, then blend it for thirty seconds, which gives me a very frothy cup of coffee! A normal counter-top blender would work, too, just a little harder to clean quickly! I do that when making an blended ice coffee treat.

What are some coffee/hot drink treats that you've learned how to make at home?

Sunday Newspaper

This week has been full of grocery shopping trips (and found some great deals!), meal planning (and cooking), baby food (tried a new recipe for biscuits this week), and a random garage sale. While I intended to blog about all of that, it hasn't happened yet, but I did want to give everyone the heads up that this Sunday's newspaper is a great one to buy if you don't always get a paper. The P&G insert is only put in once a month, usually on the 1st Sunday (so I'm guessing since next week is a holiday and this Sunday is a 5th Sunday, they decided to put it in early?) and is filled with high-dollar coupons. If you're wondering what's in it, here's the previews for the various coupon inserts:

If you don't get the RedPlum (the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn't carry it), don't forget that you can find out where you can get it, and if it isn't local, you can request it to be sent to you. I have, and I'll let you know once I start receiving it, or if I don't get it...

And have you signed up for P&G Brand Sampler? This summer I have already been able to request a free Gillette Fusion Razor, travel size Pantene ProV shampoo/conditioner, and multiple other smaller samples, along with receiving coupons in my mail. Definitely worth the few moments to get signed up! I love signing up for stuff directly with the company vs. unknown third party groups. Oooh, one other favorite high-dollar free coupon booklet: Home Made Simple. I got mine in the mail, and it has great coupons for Febreeze, Dawn, Cascade, Swiffer, etc...

Have a great Saturday! If I get stuff done around the house, I will try to blog more about this week. Right now I'm going to fold laundry on the floor with Levi, and we're going to watch old Disney cartoons (I bought a bunch on VHS yesterday at a garage sale).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Recycling I didn't know about...

Somehow in the last year I became a lot more "green" than I ever thought I would be. Through the experience and advice of friends, we have been using cloth diapers for over three months now (which means we're now in the saving money phase of it, since it costs a little bit to start up). We started doing recycling through our garbage company over the winter, and I've been learning how easy it is to bring my own reusable bag into a store when I'm just picking up a few things. And with making my own baby food, I don't have dozens of little jars hanging around.

But I learned two new tricks this summer about things that I didn't know I could recycle. Baby swim diapers and kitchen sponges.

Swim diapers, which run anywhere from $8-$10 for a pack of only 12 diapers, can be reused. And it's actually pretty simple:
  1. Let your kid have fun in the pool. If it's only wet, then just slide the diaper off (instead of tearing off the sides).
  2. Throw it into your wash with the rest of your laundry/baby clothes.
  3. Instead of putting it into the dryer (it will get crunchy), just let it air dry by placing it over a canned good, bottle of something, etc...
  4. Reuse (which means you only have to buy one pack for probably most of the summer)
The second thing I've learned about reusing is kitchen sponges. They say you're only supposed to use it for a week, but who can keep up with that? Anyway, I can't stand it when my sponge gets all stinky and mildewy, and it's still pretty much brand new. But I always end up throwing it out because it's makes my hands stink. Well, if it gets stinky, just put it in the silverware tray in your dishwasher when you run a load of dishes, and it returns to being clean smelling. Of course once the sponge gets grungy, throw it out!

What other household tricks have you learned to stretch the dollar a little bit more?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today's Deals

Well, I haven't made it to Walmart yet, and I think I'll put that off until tomorrow. But while my hubby watched our son this morning, I did make a quick dash to Target, and along with picking up some essentials he needed for a trip he's making soon, I got a couple of fun things: a pair of ladies denim capris for $1.97 (found on the clearance rack for $4.97, and used a $3/1 Target coupon from a couple weeks back), two "Glade Sense & Spray" kits for $1.12 each (the "apple cinnamon" were on clearance for $4.12, and I used a manufacturer's $3/1 coupon), and some cherry red flower plastic pots for $.48 each (summer stuff is starting to be clearanced) to use for re-potting some of my indoor plants.

Target also had other Glade and Febreeze things on sale/clearance, so you might find another great deal. Have you signed up for your free "Home Made Simple" coupon booklet? It has around $30 of savings for Febreeze, Mr. Clean, Swiffer, etc... products in it.

I also saw that Giant Eagle will be having a sale on Fiber One Cereals, 3/$7. If you clipped any of the coupons the last couple weeks (I can't find them currently) for $1.50/2 or $.75/1, you can get cereal for around $1.30 a box. We go through cereal a lot these days. I'm watching for Cheerios to go on sale... I have a mean, green, Cheerio-eating machine living in my house these days, aka as Levi!

So what other great deals are out there this week?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Next Wal-Mart Trip!

Sundays & Tuesdays are quickly becoming my favorite days of the week: I get my coupons and store ads in the mail. After a quick glance, I already spot a few things I will be snagging at my next Wal-Mart trip, thanks to some great sales at other stores! All I have to do is bring in my ads with me, and they will honor the prices listed. I make my own baby food, so I love getting good prices on fresh produce.

  • Fresh Green Beans, $.89 per lb. @ Marc's (one of Levi's favorites)
  • Eggplant, $.89 per lb @ Marc's (this will be a new one for Levi!)
  • Green Bell Peppers, $.88 per lb @ Marc's (I will chop up and freeze to use later)
  • Bartlett Pears, $.89 per lb. @ Marc's
  • Red Seedless Grapes, $.99 per lb. @ K-Mart
  • Kleenex, 4 boxes for $4 @ Marc's (and I can use a $.50/3 coupon I have)
Have you spotted any great deals this week? Any fun coupons?

Amazon Prime for College Students!!!

College students, don't forget that you can sign up for a FREE 1-year Amazon Prime membership, courtesy of Canon. This means you get free 2-day shipping on all your Amazon purchases. That can be a lot of money saved!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Are you trying to find your coupon inserts?

Ok, so here are some of the links you can use to find your coupon booklets. Or find out that you don't get certain ones in your area!

RED PLUM: If you type in your address, you can find out if you receive the RedPlum coupon booklet. Apparently, a lot of newspapers dropped carrying them about a year ago. However, you can request to have it sent to your address. The website says it takes 5-6 weeks to get your first booklet. I just signed up for mine, since our newspapers don't carry it. :-)

SMARTSOURCE: not sure the link yet, although I can say I know the Cleveland Plain Dealer carries it, since this is the newspaper I subscribe to personally. And if you ever get a newspaper without it, you can contact your newspaper, and they will send you it! (this happened to me this past Sunday)

P&G SAMPLER: Definitely find out which newspaper in your area carries this valuable monthly coupon booklet, which comes out on the first Sunday of every month!

Let me clarify something...

After talking to a friend today, I wanted to clarify something: this summer I have gotten some great deals on various groceries, household supplies, and photos, but that doesn't happen every shopping trip, or on every item.

When I started this, I decided it was worth my time if I could take $5-$10 off my weekly grocery trip. I wanted to set my sights low, and then be surprised when/if something more amazing happened! If I could cut down our expenses by $20 a month, that would be $20 we could move somewhere else!

Probably the biggest lesson I have had to learn in getting a really good deal on something is simply waiting. Waiting for a sale to match a great coupon. This involves glancing over the weekly sales ads that come in my Sunday newspaper, and the local store ads that come in my mailbox every Tuesday.

Once that opportunity comes, I try to buy several of something to stock up for later. Don't forget that you can use one coupon per item, and some stores allow you to "stack" coupons. So if it's a sale for 4 for $10, you can also use four coupons... And make an "ok" deal a great deal!

There are times, however, that I have to have something that week, and I have to be okay with that. I can't always get a fanastic price, but that's ok... that's what I've already been paying all along, and the other sales help balance things out.

So just wanted to let y'all know that! And that's the fun of blogs. We can inspire each other on the great deals we find, jump on board on some of those deals, or at least encourage one another to keep on looking!

Thanks, friends, for your patience as I learn this stuff!

Whoops! Forgot to mention my fav coupon sites!

This won't take long, because it's just the basics, but along with following a few fantastic blogs like Money Saving Mom and The Frugal Girls, I print coupons from the following places:

I also print coupons directly from manufacturers websites. If you set up an email account to use strictly for couponing and freebies, you can sign up at various places like Scrubbing Bubbles or P&G Sampler to recieve coupons or freebies directly from the manufacturer! 

Don't forget that your local Sunday newspaper can also carry coupons, but not all of them do. Our local papers did not, but I was able to subscribe to recieve the Cleveland Plain Dealer to be delivered, for $.70 less a week than it was for me to buy it in store! You can check online to see which newspaper carries the coupon booklet you want!

Low-Cost Photo Fun!!!

Ok, I am definitely excited today... Picaboo and Snapfish both just put out some sweet deals!

Snapfish is having free shipping today and tomorrow on EVERYTHING, plus a free 8x10 collage. I signed up for Snapfish just last month, and haven't used my free prints yet, so I'm definitely taking them up on this offer! If you don't have a Snapfish account, if you sign up you get 20 free prints right now. So that makes 20 free 4x6 prints, a free 8x10 print or collage, and free shipping... free, Free, and FREE. Can't beat that!

Since I follow Money Saving Mom, I found out that Picaboo another online photo company is offering a free large photo book (20 pages and hardcover) to first-time customers. I did one similar to this from Shutterfly awhile back, and LOVED it, so I look forward to doing this one, probably as a great gift for Christmas!

So that's all my deals for today. Have fun!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stocking Up On Baby Food

No, I didn't hit some fantastic deal on baby food at the store and buy a cart full---I spent my afternoon making baby food for the next month. Today I worked on veggies and teething biscuits. Learning from the suggestions and recipes at Wholesome Baby Food, as well as talking to several friends who have paved the way. So on today's yummy agenda were carrots, peas, sweet potato, green beans, and the all-new zucchini (which he LOVED!). Basically, you just have to do the following:

  • steam the vegetable/fruit until soft and tender
  • puree in your blender, adding the water from the pot (or breastmilk) to thin until the desired consistency
  • spoon into ice cube trays (each ice cube is approximately 1 oz. of food)
  • freeze for 3-6 hours
  • pop cubes out of tray, and store in quart size freezer bags
  • pull out desired amount for a serving, microwave, and serve!
I have also had great success with the basic teething biscuit, which my son loves to gnaw on forever... it's like a baby gobstopper! He just gums it and gums it... with his new little teeth, this week he has worked small pieces off of a couple, but since he eats cheerios now, he's fine. I use the recipe from the website above, which is:
  • 1 cup of juice
  • 1 cup of baby rice cereal
  • 1 cup of flour
Mix together, cut into desired shapes (or form into shapes--I use a candy cane cookie cutter and just cut the stick part so it's oblong). Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. One of those biscuits kept our kiddo busy almost the entire time we were at Kohls this evening looking at tennis shoes for my husband.

Tomorrow it's the fruits! Bring on the nectarines, peaches, apples, and bananas!


My Top Three (or Four) Stores

Shortly after my husband and I got married, we attended a 12-week financial class called "Financial Peace University" that met once a week. We can't tell enough people how much this helped us get started out on a more stable foot financially as we also started the adventure of marriage. While both of us had handled our own finances prior to marriage, this helped us start looking at our finances together as a team, and create a realistic budget to start living on (which gets revised several times a year!). One of the choices we personally made was to pay cash for our everyday expenses like groceries, household items, clothes, etc... It's a lot harder to fork over cash than it is to swipe a credit card! This also helps me at a quick glance see how we're doing on our month's allowance for stuff!

To make our grocery budget stretch as far as it could, I went to multiple grocery stores/supercenters to get my weekly or monthly items. It was an all-day ordeal several times a month, but it kept us living within our grocery budget. I was excited when a Wal-Mart Supercenter opened up near us, because I was able to find food items I had grown up with (I live 1300 miles from my hometown currently) that I had been using substitutes for, or had to live without. Silly, I know. As a motivation to get great deals, whatever cash I had left in our grocery budget at the end of the month went towards our travel/date money. Yay! But when I got pregnant last year, my energy levels sagged, and I resorted to primarily going to Walmart and skipping a few of my other favorite haunts. But we still stayed within our budget.

Once our son came in January, I neither had the time or energy to do grocery shopping! The last six months has been a journey of getting back to eating more meals made from scratch, meal planning so I grocery shop with a purpose, and seeing where our budget can stretch. I mentioned before we hit a point this summer where something had to give, because we were continually going over in the grocery category.

Implementing what I have been learning about coupons and bargain shopping, I now shop at two stores regularly, and two stores occasionally. Despite having a ton of houseguests this summer, we have stayed within our grocery budget the last two months! And primarily eaten good, healthy meals. So here are my stores, and why I shop at them... (and one day, these blogs WILL get shorter, I promise!)

1. WAL-MART SUPERCENTER: Wal-Mart has great prices on almost everything, a wide variety of products, as well as consistently stocking the same products (some bargain stores carry a varying stock from week to week, which makes grocery and household shopping a challenge some days!). This is also an great place to start bargain shopping, because they offer a price-match policy on everything they carry. This is super easy to take advantage of because all you have to do is stuff the ad in your purse as you walk out the door! No clipping, no printing... Here are the rules for price-matching (I tried finding it on the walmart website but can't right now... maybe later!)
  • Current ad from a LOCAL store/company.
  • Not an internet offer.
  • Not an offer for "card" or "reward" members only (if the price requires using a members card at the store)
  • Not a percentage off of a product.
  • Buy 1/Get 1 only if original price of item is also listed in the ad.
  • You have to buy the exact number to get the deal (ex. 4 for $5, you have to buy all four...
I primarily use this on groceries, especially produce, ice cream, pizzas, etc...

2. TARGET: This is the funny one. Before using coupons, I rarely shopped at Target because I could not get good deals on a consistent basis. Great clearance prices once they get low enough, but not enough good sales. Their sales ususally just bring it down to Wal-Mart prices. However, I discovered that they actually have printable Target coupons ONLINE that you can use in store, and to make this better, you can stack them with manufacturer coupons! They have coupons for groceries, household supplies,kids' toys, adult apparel, pet food... the list goes on. You can print Target Online Coupons and match with a manufacturer coupon as stated in Target's Coupon Policy. This week I got a pair of sandals for $.24 with a $3/1 Merona shoes coupon, 4 SoBe drinks for $1, 10 free Post-It notes blocks, 4 packs of free BIC pens (which I donated to the youth ministry at church), 4 cans of Ravioli for free... You see how this adds up quick!

3. GIANT EAGLE: This is a local grocery chain store, and reminds me of other higher end grocery stores like Krogers, Jewel Osco, etc... that carries the widest selection of products of anywhere around, but their prices are also the highest anywhere around. I almost never went to Giant Eagle unless I had to, because even with a sale, I would spend more! Once again, I learned something new this summer. Giant Eagle doubles coupons up to $.99, so if you match with a great sale, you can get really cheap stuff! Two weeks ago I got 3 packs of Taco Bell taco seasoning for free, because I had a $.75/3 coupon. I also got Yoplait yogurt for $.12 a container, and Mission Tortillas for $.75 a pack. I don't go here regularly, but watch the weekly ads for their specials, and then grab my coupons for a quick run! A few weeks ago my purchase was ringing up in the negative with how much the coupons took off, so the lady had me grab a candy bar to bring it back into the positive!

4. ALDI's: I did not have this store where I grew up, but I quickly grew to love it! This is a smaller grocery store that carries primarily all generic of basic foods. I go here every 4-6 weeks to restock on essentials. Things like canned goods, salsa, boxed goods, etc... are radically cheaper here, even compared to Wal-Mart. So I stock up on chicken broth, cake mixes, canned corn, green beans, black beans, etc... for $.20-$.60 cheaper per item than anywhere else. When you're buying several weeks worth of basics, this adds up to a lot saved!

Ok, those are my four stores. How about you? Where do you find great deals?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Blogs and More...

Well, it has been a little longer between postings than I planned on, but all is good! After going on vacation to New York for a family reunion, our little family caught a yucky 24-hour flu bug, so we're slowly getting back into our routine! Since it's the beginning of the month, I'm excited to start finding the new coupons various websites have posted, since a lot of places change them at the beginning of every month. I also had my Sunday newspaper waiting for me when I got home, full of great new coupons to clip!

So I said in my last blog I would post my favorite places. My top two fav's are "The Frugal Girls" at and "Money Saving Mom" at Both of these websites line up with a lot of the values my husband and I are trying to implement in our home. It's where I have also learned a lot about couponing and finding great deals.

So here are a few of the basics I started with on this adventure to make shopping and saving more fun, giving me more smiles along the way as I try to stick to our budget so we can save more, and give more!

1. Stick to the basics. I promised my husband I would stick to stuff we already buy, or sign up for freebies I would actually use. We are trying to simplify our life, not make it more cluttered. So I sign up for stuff I would use (shampoo, conditioner, razors, tampons/pads, etc...) and stick away from stuff I won't actually use. This not only saves me printer ink and drawer space, but it keeps me on target with the whole point of budgeting and saving.
2. Utilize things I already have, before I buy more. Before I get more, I need to either get rid of stuff, or finish using up the stuff I already have. This has made me grab the almost empty bottle of cleaner under my sink first, before the almost full one. Also combine together conditioners into one bottle before buying a new bottle. Clean out my pantry (throwing out expired stuff, rediscovering foods I haven't used yet), etc...
3. Once again, think outside my normal box! If I'm not planning on using it, there might be someone else who could use it right now. God has challenged me that all I "own" is actually His, and I need to be a better steward of what He has blessed me with, instead of being a "hoarder". God has provided for our needs (and wants) through so many different people, I want Him to use me, too!
4. Don't complicate things. Saving money might take a little extra time, but it doesn't mean I have to go overboard. I already use Facebook, so this is one way I can simplify and save at the same time. I follow "Frugal Girls" and "Money Saving Mom" on there, and can also sign up for coupons and freebies through different companies. I see this stuff in my normal newsfeed along with all my friends updates. So don't stress yourself adding a ton of extra stuff into your day!
5. A Few of My Favorite Places. Before couponing, I primarily shopped at Walmart, Aldi's, and Marc's. I avoided places like Target and Giant Eagle because I couldn't ever get good sales. Next post I will share why I now actually go to both of those places!