Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's been very busy around here. Saturday we woke up to all of our chickens dead in the backyard. We lost 13. No one locked up the coop that night and coons had their way with them. They were spread all over the backyard. I am still sick about it. They were our pets and we really miss them. They used to sit at the backdoor while I was on the computer and beg for treats. They would jump onto the outside window ledge to say, "Hi" to Ellie when she was standing there. It has been so quiet in the mornings without our Blackbeard greeting us with his morning song. And they gave us the most beautiful and yummy eggs. We only have 5 left, which we bought from my Sister and Brother-in-law when they moved. But since they've been here they only lay 1-2 eggs a day and we don't have a real connection with them. They are just chickens. We raised our others from babies and really miss them.

So Saturday was spent in town. We went to a pawn shop to raise money to replace our flock. We also had to do some other things, including part 2 of last Thursday's shopping. We got home around 4:30 and were having people for dinner. After dinner was cleaned up I had to go to my sister, Kelly's house to help her make her shopping list and print her coupons. I got home after 8:30pm. A busy day.

Sunday we were up at 5:20 and out the door for church at 7:00AM. We had lunch in town with some friends from church, left their house and got home with just enough time to heat up my casserole and head back out for our Life Group Christmas party. We got home after 8.

 We leave town tomorrow around noon and I waited until yesterday to even think about packing. Why do I always do that?

This afternoon I need to pack the things that came out of the laundry this morning and clean the house. I haven't wrapped any presents and I don't even have any tape. So I'll be trying elmers this year.

This morning I took my sister shopping. It was her first time using coupons. None of my favorite cashiers were there, but the one we got wasn't too bad. My sister did well and stayed way under her normal budget so I think she was happy. It has been fun to spend more time with her lately.

I didn't need anything today because I did all of this weeks shopping last week. But some new high value coupons were printing this week so I did get more. Four more boxes of cereal, 4 Mrs Buttersworth syrups, 14 boxes of pasta, 4 I Can't Believe it's Not Butter, 2 loaves of bread and 2 bags of turnip greens for around $7.

I also did my weekly CVS today, which is so much easier without the kids in tow. I was able to get: 2 Pantene shampoos, 1 Physicians Formula eye palette, 2 bottles of Listerine, 2 packages of Bandaids, 1 Theracare Heat wrap and a Schick Hydro 5 razer for around $5. And I left with $6 in ECBs. Not bad.

This will be my last post until after we get back into town.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My serger is here! If you don't know what a serger is, google it. Any good seamstress wants one. They aren't cheap. But last weekend we were in Sears and I spied a Kenmore for only $229. Seriously, google them, $229 is cheap and Kenmore is an amazing brand as far as sewing machines go. So I am hopeful that the serger will also be wonderful. I probably won't be able to get it out of the box until next week. But since we are going out of town on Wednesday, it might not be until next YEAR!

Stay tuned for TONS of new clothes for Ellie. Especially since I plan on taking a trip to Hobby Lobby while we are in Georgia. I just can't wait as long as it might take for ours to open here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been waiting for Hobby Lobby since I've been sewing.

Tomorrow I will be going to Publix to finish my shopping for next week. I realized last night while laying wide awake in bed that I hadn't even thought about packing for our trip. So I don't think making a shopping trip the day before we leave is so smart. So we are going to make a family day of it and all go tomorrow. Can't wait to get my Ore Ida hashbrowns for $74 cents a bag!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Want to see what 2ish months of couponing has done for us? My inside kitchen pantry is where I keep all my organized food items. Like when I open a box of cereal it goes in the Tupperware. When I opened a can of breadcrumbs it goes in the Tupperware.

My stock pile pantry. It's in my, half of the garage turned laundry room/sewing, room. We got the cabinets on craigslist.com when we built the room. 

My fridge and freezer.

My ziplock stock pile.

My laundry soap, dish soap and dishwasher detergent stock pile.

My linen closet and under the sink stock pile.

I also have two chest freezers in my laundry room. One is filled to the top with pasta(didn't want bugs to get into it) quick fix meals and chicken, beef and pork. The other is partially filled with bread. 

I do have some help though. We get WIC, so that helps some with milk, juice, cereal, peanut butter and frozen veggies. I have been only using my checks when one of the items on the check is BOGO at Publix. Like yesterday I got BOGO cereal and juice with my WIC. So that is really helpful. I do still have to buy all of those things as well because the WIC is just a help, it doesn't fully supplement. 

I also have a stock pile of DIAPERS! 
I do use cloth diapers about 70% of the time. But I use disposable at night and when we are out. Also some of her clothes won't fit over cloth. So we use disposables for that reason sometimes as well. 

I have about a month of toilet paper stocked up as well. I would have another couple months stocked up, but someone had to get coffee last week on the way to church and the line was SO long that by the time we got the coffee it was too late to make another stop. And that was the last day that my coupons were good and that the sale was on. It was going to be good too. $4.23 per 12 pack of Scott Double Roll. 

You might notice that I don't have any cleaners or paper products stocked up. The reason is simple, I don't use them. The only paper product we use is toilet paper. We use cloth napkins and cloth "paper" towels. I've been doing this since Chad was laid off in 2007. I also don't use any cleaners, except bleach for my laundry and shower. I do all my cleaning with vinegar and baking soda. All very cheap and non-toxic. Yes, vinegar smells, but once it dries the smell is gone. I add essential oils and olive oil for cleaning and polishing my wood. Saves a TON of money.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'll tell you what, I used to laugh at people who "couponed". I thought that they MUST be breaking some kind of rules to actually be saving any money by buying name brand items and using a coupon. "Ha!" I thought, I can save way more than them by shopping at Walmart and buying store brand. Thank goodness I was brought to my senses. 

Back in the summer a friend of mine who is also on Facebook started posting her weekly sales receipt from Publix. At first I didn't pay much attention, still thought, "She has to be breaking rules of some sort and Publix with their excellent customer service is just letting her slide by so as to not cause a scene." After seeing pictures of her stocked pantry, fridge and freezer I asked her about it. She told me to check out www.southersavers.com. Wow. Who knew. I lived with one of the most coupon friendly stores right in my own town. The very store I so longed to shop at. Publix. 

I have been "couponing" since early October. I haven't spent less, I've just bought more. I wish I had before pictures of my pantry and fridge, but any of my family can vouch for me. I bought what we ate and by the end of the week there was NOTHING left. There were times I fed the kids a can of beans mashed up in a tortilla a called it a burrito. They loved it, but it isn't ideal to not have anything to feed your kids a day of so before shopping day. I would spend an average of $120 a week at Walmart and would hardly have any food. Then I would spend money at Sweetbay for meats for dinner(because they always had the best sales for meat) Last month we spent every last cent of our food budget(it's set by Uncle Sam thanks to this cruddy economy, but we stocked up on some meat and splurged on Publix subs at the end of the month. This month our budget has been reduced by a little over $100. I would have been terrified had this happened a couple months ago. But now I laugh it off because I don't need that extra hundred anymore. If properly rationed we probably have at least a couple months worth of food stored up. 

So is couponing for you? Ask yourself these questions: Do you like to have lots in your pantry? Do you like to save more than you spend? Are you willing to spend a couple hours a week preparing for your shopping day? 

Today I left my house around 11 and didn't get home until 4. But it wasn't a normal shopping day for me. I went to Walgreens, Publix, CVS, WIC(I realized I missed my day to pick up checks last week. oops), stopped at Beth's to drop off my cold stuff, went to a different Publix to use 3 WIC checks and my Purell rain check, a different Walgreens, back to Beth's, the gas station and finally home. Tuesdays are my shopping day  because Chad has school and I don't cook, so it's the perfect day to keep busy outside of the house to help the time pass. Had I had all of my children with me I would have only gone to Publix and home. :o) But Mom and Dad kept the 3 smaller ones today, which was a HUGE help. 

I don't usually "do" Walgreens. Even with all the websites I use it's much more complicated to coupon there. But, I have finally found "the" Walgreens to go to. Third times a charm, right? They were SO friendly, the store was clean and stocked, which is huge, because the other stores I've tried were horrible. 

There were some great deals at Walgreens today, so I really wanted to give it another shot. I started planning a few days ago, checked all my sites to see what the deals were, got my coupons together and started working on my transactions. You see to get the most out of Walgreens(and CVS) you can't just purchase everything in one transaction. You will be paying too much oop(out of pocket).  The thing about Walgreens is their rewards system, called register rewards, isn’t as simple to understand as CVS. If you get a RR(register reward) for buying an Olay product you can’t use it towards another Olay purchase. This is where your resource websites are really important. My favorite for CVS and Walgreens is www.addictedtosavings.com each Monday she comes out with a transaction scenario to get the most out of your weekly deals and to properly roll your RR. I am proud to say that today I used some of hers and all of my own! My total spent oop at Walgreens today:  $29.15. $16.38 of that was food, so actually our Food Stamps paid for it. Which is GREAT for us(or any of your who have them also) because from the food items I bought I received $10 in RR that I can use to pay for non-food items which has to come out of our own budget.  So I only had to spend $12.77 for all of the non-food items pictured and I think I have now made it to the $50 minimum for the Olay $20 rebate. After everything I walked out of there with $5 in RR that I have until December 28th to spend, but they can’t be spent on a Mars brand product.  ;o)  Oh and I went to two Walgreens. My final transaction at the first Walgreens got my $3 RR for the diapers. The Walgreens I went to first didn’t have Pretzal M&Ms and I had $4 in coupons for them. So I went to a different one and was able to purchase them for only $4.26 oop and I got back another $5 RR.

I did REALLY good at Publix today. I spent $10.20 for my non-food items and $87.51 for my food items. That might sound like a lot, especially if your aren’t used to buying for a large family. But that price included 8 packages of boneless skinless chicken breasts. I also had to purchase creamer, which is over $5 for the large one pictured and I didn’t have a coupon. I would have spent another $63.45 between the two transactions if I didn’t use coupons.  Well, actually I wouldn’t have because I would have shopped at Walmart and starved my family.

My CVS trip this week was a quick run in for toothpaste. Not that I needed more, but it was a way to roll over my ECB(extra care bucks, CVS reward system) into a longer expiring ECB. I paid $1.85(used 2 $.75 off coupons and $2.99 in ECB) and left with $4 in ECB that don’t expire until into January.

So is it worth the time and effort? I guess if money isn’t an issue it’s not. But I still think I would do it because I really enjoy it.