Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saving $$ on Groceries: the month in Review

I'm hooked. It's partly due to the fact that I recently lowered my grocery budget by $100 per month. It's really mostly due to the inspiration at Money Saving Mom. I *love* this blog. She's got all the sweet deals already worked out for you, every week, broken down by store, complete with links to online printable coupons. Could saving money get any easier??

This month concludes my first month shopping the deals at CVS. Now that I am fully stocked up on toothpaste and deodorant, I have started a give-away box for those who need it, whether that be friends who are too busy to shop the deals {need some goodies? email me privately!} or someplace local that accepts donations. I have slowly whittled my ECBs down to $3, but thanks to a friendly CVS cashier, have a raincheck for some Listerine Smart Rinse for Kids, that when combined with $1/1 coupons will give my ECBs a little boost. Hooray for rainchecks!

This week I got some great deals at Meijer, thanks to their 10/$10 deal. According to my receipt, I got $75.92 worth of groceries for $39.33. Not too bad for just starting to work the deals! It's a shame that my local Meijer doesn't double coupons or I could've gotten many goodies for free. My favorite part of the deal was for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. It was part of the 10/$10 deal and there is online printable for $.75/1 making them $.25 each! You could either get a 15 oz tub or two smaller 7.5 oz tubs. I picked up several for myself and my grandma as well, who is on a fixed income. I also got some Life cereal for $1/box by combining their deal for 5/$10 on Quaker brand items with a $1/1 coupon. These deals run through Wednesday, in case you were hitting your local Meijer soon and hadn't gotten these goodies!

I've called many a grocery store in the suburbs east of me, in the area that I am most familiar, looking for coupon-doubling stores, but to no avail. Why don't any of those stores double??? Lo and behold, after consulting with a dear friend that I consider my local area resource
{whom I will be buying Starbucks for tomorrow as a thank you}, I was turned on to not one, but TWO, grocery stores in the major city near me that double. One is Hilander {Kroger} and the other is Logli {Schnuck's}. I am planning a trip tomorrow to one of them that is running 10/$10 deals as well & will be getting some {nearly} free Green Giant frozen veggies and free Totino's pizza rolls. Once I confirm another money saving strategy at Kroger, I will post about it here.

Another great addition to my bookmarks has been the Sunday Saver circular. {This is the link for Illinois, but there is a drop down box where you can select your state.} It has links to all the stores divided by category. Then you can just look up each store to compare the deals. This has been invaluable to me in planning my shopping trips.

I also can't stop reading the forums over at Hot Coupon World, especially the ones about CVS. I like the CVS forum because you can also see previews of the upcoming weeks sales {Huggies diapers, ya'll} so you can plan your purchases accordingly. Check out the forum for your local grocery store to save yourself some moola.

We went to dinner at the home of a church family last Friday and the wife started mentioning how her and her husband were discussing how to lower their grocery budget. WELL, let's just say she got an earful ;>)

Let me know if you find something I've mentioned interesting. Any other online sources of inspiration for getting good deals?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Once Upon a Time

We are avid book reading family, but I've found that the more children I accumulate, the less and less time I can just sit and read to the children. I'm trying to reclaim more of this precious time though, especially before naps and bedtime. Lately though, instead of reading books, I'll tell my three year old a story instead. All the stories are about Princess Sienna and her many adventures. I think this is a HUGE creativity builder and encourages the use of their young imaginations. A recent fairy tale went something like this:

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Sienna. One day she decided to go to the zoo , so she hopped in her pink mini-van and drove away from the castle. She saw lots o f animals there, like lions, giraffes, and tigers. She saw elephants with looong trunks. She had lots of fun there. She drove her pink mini-van home and had a very lovely nap. Princess Sienna was tired from her long day at the zoo. The End.

Do you ever make up stories for your children? Do they use the same characters/storyline?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking the Good with the Bad

Isn't that a lot of what life is about? I am really trying to be a woman of grace, one who realizes that life can't always be mountain top living, accepting the bad as it comes. I thoroughly appreciate that some of life's best and most valuable lessons are learned in the valley. On top of some recent lessons regarding relationships, I've now been dealt some physical blows. I had been having a few problems with my hands falling asleep. First it was just at night. I would actually have to hang my arm over the side of the bed to get the circulation back. I chalked it up to sleeping on it wrong. Then it would happen after prolonged use of the computer mouse AND while driving AND while using the treadmill AND while knitting, to the point where I couldn't even feel the needles anymore. Another curious symptom arose where I would get a tingling sensation going down my neck. I knew something was really wrong. So I visited my step-mom's wellness clinic and had a diagnosis done with a chiropractor. I was shocked to learn that I have this in both arms. I also have this. I had both of my wrists "adjusted", which was a less than pleasant experience. It sounds like I have a lot of therapy ahead of me and am committed to taking better care of my body. This whole thing is stressing me out though, which is why I haven't been blogging as much. Not to mention a baby who nurses a lot and only cat naps during the day, still waking several times at night. Valley living, ya'll.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Easy Crafts

Here's a couple easy crafts that don't require a sewing machine {shocking, I know} that are tried and true:

::Bunny Racers::
Guess that Bunny on the right ate a little too much chocolate & is feeling tipsy from his sugar high!

These were featured in the latest issue of Family Fun magazine. You will need: marshmallow Peeps, ho-hos, frosting, life savers and skittles or m & m's. Everything will be attached with the frosting. Use the life savers as the wheels and steering wheel. Add the skittles for the headlights and they can also be added as the hubcaps for the wheels. Stick a Peep on for your driver & you're all set. I had some mini Cadbury eggs laying around that I thought would be cute stuck behind the Peep-driver, but my mom said we have enough candy as it was. OVERRULED! So cute & great kid craft. Best of all is that they can eat their creations ;>)

::Croc Doo-dads::

I don't know what else to call these. My mom surprised us by making two sets for the girls. I love 'em so much. They are little buttons that fit into the holes on your Crocs. Basically you will only need three supplies: a 1/2" button, a decorative shank button, and a needle and thread. Securely attach the shank button to the 1/2" button by sewing them to one another several times.

::I tried to capture the underside so you could see how the button is attached::

They don't have to be super tight together or else it might be a little difficult to get them into the shoe. Then you just fit the 1/2" button into one of the holes on your shoe and voila:

{Ignore the semi-dirty shoe & just focus on the cute doo-dads!}

These would make a cute addition to put in your eggs for your Easter hunt or basket {if you participate in that sorta thing}!

P.S. I've been trying to post a little more, as suggested by a friend lately who enjoys my blog, but says I need to update more regularly. I hope you're still reading ;>)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deals for the Day: FREE STUFF!

Here are my scores for today:

The Johnson & Johnson Buddies soaps were from Target. They are kinda cool as they are a bar of soap within a scrubbie net. They were $.94 each. Combine that with two $2/2 coupons & that means I made $.06 per bar. They are $.99 at CVS, in case you will be shopping there soon. I'm sure that they are probably available at Wally World as well. You can find the $2 coupons here, here, and here. Get your kiddies some free soap!

CVS purchases were:

Transaction #1

(2) Irish Spring 3-pack bars $4.98 ~ Buy $10 of Irish Spring, get $5 ECBs

(2) Irish Spring deodarant $5.98
(2) Charms Blow pops $ .66 ~ filler

Irish Spring Coupons - $1.35
ECBs -$9.98

Total OOP:
ECBs earned:

Transaction #2

Fructis Shampoo $2.99 ~ Get $2 ECBs

Fructis Leave-in Conditioner $2.99 ~ Get $2 ECBs
2) Nivea Mens' Shave Gel $5.58 ~ Buy $5 of Nivea, get $2 ECBs

Fructis Coupons -$2.00
Nivea Coupons -$4.00
ECBs from Trans #1 -$5.00

Total OOP:
ECBs earned:

Just as a heads up, next week, March 16-22, CVS will be featuring Listerine Smart Rinse {for kids} for $2.99 with $2.99 in ECBs. There is an online $1/1 coupon available here. Plus, there is a tear-pad at the Listerine display with a mail-in rebate. If I am calculating correctly, not only will these be free, but you will get back $4 per bottle. {I'm still new at this though, so I could be wrong.} Limit 2 on this deal, I believe. Super money-maker!!

I have been having a hard time finding a place to use my $2 off a box of Honey Bunches of Oats with Chocolate Clusters {new product} coupon. My local {dinky} Wally World doesn't carry it & low and behold my beloved Woodman's does not accept internet coupons. {BOO!} I called Meijer tonight since we will be heading out that way tomorrow & she told me that Post cereal will be on sale for $2 per box. Free cereal ya'll!! Stock up!

Any other great deals you're getting this week?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Baby Love

Yep. I've got my hands full, but I wouldn't trade a minute of it. I don't talk much about my little bug-a-boo, so I thought I'd brag on him a bit. He's a good baby. He loves lots of physical contact & sleeps really well when you're holding him and not so well when you're not {during the day at least}. As far as the nights go, he's a night owl. Always has been since before birth. He goes to sleep about 10:30 pm and will occasionally sleep all the way through til about 7 am. If not, he usually wakes up about 4 am and then will sleep another 4 hours. He is still sleeping in his bassinet, as every time I try putting him in the crib for naps and such he only sleeps about 20-30 minutes and the times I've tried at night, he'll only sleep about 2 hours. Yeah. I know there aren't any toddler boys sleeping in their bassinets, so hopefully that means that somehow we'll get through it. I've tried giving him cereal, since it almost seems like he needs it, but haven't given it to him for about a week now, just because I really rather not unless absolutely necessary.

He loves his chupy {pronounced choo-pee} which is a nickname for his pacifier. In spanish, it is called chupon, but we've shortened it to chupy. I love all the baby cuddles & the occasional naps that we get to take together. I love slathering him with kisses. I've managed to avoid getting peed on, but I'm sure that's inevitable. He has severely {and I mean, severely} dried & chapped skin. Just putting baby lotion on him made him scream yesterday, that's how scaly & sensitive it is. I'm sure he'll grow out of that too. But in the meantime, lots of snuggles, lots of nursing, and lots of love.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Round Two

DING! While visiting my dad in the big city over the weekend, my little daughter came down with the sniffles and needed some cough/cold medicine. Now which pharmacy should I purchase this medicine from?? I pondered. Aha! CVS, of course! {Wouldn't you know it that the nearest CVS is only 1 city block away?! There is also a Wal-Greens about half a block away, along with a Hancock Fabrics & a Dominicks with a Starbucks kiosk right across the street. Uh, Dad? When can I move in???} Since I needed the medicine, I used up some of my ECBs to pay for it.

Round #2

Triaminic Thin Strips $4.99
Chicago Tribune $1.79
CVS Smarties Candy $ .99
Cadbury mini-eggs (3) $2.97
Oral-B Toothbrush (2) $9.98

CVS Candy Q -$ .99
Oral-B Q -$2.00
Hershey's Candy Q -$1.50
ECBs -$14.95

Total OOP: $1.46
ECBs for next visit: $9.98 {plus $1 leftover from very first visit}

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. I need to learn to read my coupons a little more carefully though. After scanning my CVS card, I thought the coupon said $3/$10 purchase, but in reality, it was $3/$10 CVS products purchase. Yeah. Big difference. Anyways, I plan on keeping one toothbrush & one of my toothpastes in my overnight bag {along with my new Venus razor} so that I don't have to keep repacking these items since we've been traveling nearly every weekend. I plan on sewing up a cute little satchel for all these toiletries, when I finally get a little time. Right now, an Easter dress for the littlest daughter is at the top of the priority list.

P. S. Need a free sports bra? I ordered mine here after reading this post.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

CVS Time!

I tried my hand at all this CVS commotion that I've been reading about. I was really excited to try this, as it seems sort of like a puzzle, getting the coupons & deals & ECBs to all work together, and I love puzzles!! I sorta felt a little sneaky, like I was trying to buck the system & one of my nearest & dearest friends shared that she felt the same way, which I think is sorta comical. At first I was skeptical and didn't really want to invest $$ in some system that I'm not sure would work. But, three things convinced me.

One: I would only plan on making a small initial investment, like $20 or less. Enough to get the ball rolling, so to speak, but not enough to
bust my budget. I would try to squeeze this into my newly reduced grocery budget of $75/week.

Two: If after my first few trips, if I didn't think I would want to continue, I would just spend my ECBs on grocery type items that I would normally buy, therefore not really spending any extra money & still getting all the items that earned those ECBs for "free".

Three: I will look as this as a ministry opportunity by donating any items I don't think I'll use to Rockford Rescue Mission or another local charity. I can even roll over my ECBs and buy things that I know I won't use, just so I can donate them. I want to call RRM and another local womens' shelter to see what types of donations they can really benefit from. I encourage this mindset to tho
se of you that are hesitant to try this, but don't think you could really benefit. I'm sure there are many others out there who could. Maybe you can't afford to give much money or loads of time, but who can resist shopping in the name of the Lord?? LOL!

Ok. So on to the details! Things did not go as I had planned {isn't there a Bible verse about this?}, but I was able to think on my feet and adjust my purchases. I had a limited amount of time, which was good in a way, since I had to just find what I planned & be done with it.

Transaction #1

Venus Razor 9.99 {6 ECBs}

Dove Dark Chocolate 1.99 {1 ECB} ~ Just because it looked yummy & DD #2 loves chocolate!
3 Lypsyl 8.97 {8.97 ECBs}

CVS $4/$20 coupon

Venus $
4 coupon
Total OOP: $13.94

Transaction #2
Old Spice Deoderant 2.49

5 Colgate Total 14.95 {14.95 ECBs}

Old Spice $2 coupon

$14.97 ECBs from Trans #1

Total OOP: $.63
ECBs to use for next visit: $15.95

I originally planned on getting the Oral B toothbrushes and some Hershey's Easter candy that I had coupons for, but they were ALL OUT of BOTH!! I also got the last three Lypsyls. I guess I will have to hit different CVSs or go on a different day. God is really amazing because after I went for groceries this week, I had only $12 left. I then found an extra $3 in my wallet. I also received my $4/$20 coupon yesterday morning to help with my purchases. And wouldn't ya know it, my total OOP came to $14.57!! I had 43 cents left to spare ;>) I forgot to scan my card when I first got to the store, so I probably missed out on another good deal, but I will remember next time. I also didn't realize that the ECBs print for each item and can be used separately. I thought they printed for a total on each transaction. This will help me plan my next trip. Now I can't wait til Saturday to buy Sunday's paper. We will be in Chicago this weekend & you can bet that I already know where the nearest CVS is {and of course where the nearest fabric store is: right across the street from my dad's condo, wouldn't ya know}! For more good CVS deals, check in with MoneySavingMom & don't miss my friend Steph's CVS deals either ;>)

If you CVS, do you find that it's better to get the monthly deals towards the end of the month, figuring that everyone else grabs them at the beginning?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Still Alive

If {any} readers are still out there, I wanted ya'll to know that I'm still alive. I have been {somewhat} purposely neglecting my blog to accomplish other things. I am barely even getting those {necessary} things done, since life is very chaotic around here. Between baby nursing about every 2 1/2 hours, our new business, broken cars/appliances, lots of red-tape phone calls, baby nursing constantly, trying to homeschool, baby nursing a lot.....Did I mention that it seems like my baby is nursing a lot? Seriously. By the time he's done eating, I get him changed, calm him down, put him to sleep, he sleeps for about 30 minutes, then I start all over again. I really don't know how women with many children do it. Really. I am trying to be less selfish with my time & more family-serving. I feel like I am endlessly behind on housework, even with hubster home now. Maybe it is because I am tired a lot too. It doesn't help that it seems like I need more sleep than the average person. Seriously. We've been going out of town every weekend for the last three weeks now, so that makes things even crazier. I've been able to successfully complete one bag order that I had hanging out there, so that is a plus. Gives me a little extra funds to support my {every growing} passion of sewing. So that's what I've been up to. Hope to most more exciting things soon ;>)

P.S. Thanks to Steph, I am totally jumping on the CVS bandwagon. I got my ExtraCare card today & hope to make my first big purchase tomorrow!