Monday, December 26, 2011

CouponChief.com Review

Who likes saving money, raise your hand? You know my hand is raised really high, well as high as someone who is 5'2" can raise their hand. A cool coupon website was recently brought to my attention that I wanted to share with you. We all know that you can sometimes get amazing savings by shopping online (and with free shipping, even save time by not going to the actual store), well you can also save even more with this great website.

The website is CouponChief.com and it's definitely worth checking out. This site has coupon codes for all your online shopping needs. Seriously, I tried to "stump" the store list and every store that I tried was listed on the site. I also checked out the site for some of my recent purchases before finding CouponChief and I missed out on a good bit of savings. I won't let that happen again though, I'll check this site out before making any online purchases.

Before you make your check out online, simply check the site for coupon codes to use on your purchase. Then, copy the code you would like to use. When you check out with your purchases, simply paste the code into promo code area of the checkout screen. How easy is that! You were going to make those purchases anyway, why not save some money in the process without barely lifting a finger. Well, you do have to lift them a little on the keyboard, but not much.

If that isn't good enough, you can also create a profile on the site to share comments with other users, rate the coupon codes you used and even share coupon codes that you have. When you share coupon codes, you have a chance to get paid for sharing. What's better than saving money? Getting paid to save, that's what!

So, the next time you are going to buy something online, check out CouponChief.com first to save even more money. Don't spend more than you have to and save the difference. Happy Shopping.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Splurging a little, but trying to save money doing it.

I have been thinking about getting one of the Keurig single cup brew systems for a while, but since I don't drink coffee, I thought it would be a waste of money just for tea, latte and cider. Well, I finally decided to just go for it since Jason drinks coffee a little and I think I would get a good bit of use out of it for the other drinks.

You know me, I don't just run out and buy something. I must first make sure that I'm getting the best deal I can without turning into the guy off the movie "A Beautiful Mind". You know, price charts and numbers scattered all over the wall while I feverishly calculate non-stop. I like to save money, but sanity is important too!

After my research, I decided that Kohls was my best bet. We decided on the Mini brewer since we're not huge coffee drinkers and saw no need for the machine to constantly keep water warm for us. Even without the reservoir and the need to pour the water in right before you brew, it still takes under 2 minutes. I can wait 2 minutes. The Mini brewers were on sale for $99.99 plus I had a 30% off coupon (I know you're shocked I had a coupon right). That brought the price of the unit down to $70.00. I went ahead and bought the refillable K-Cup and a couple boxes of drinks, which I also got to use my 30% coupon on. My total was a little over  $100 for everything mentioned which meant that I also got $20.00 Kohls Cash back to use at a later date.

I also had $22.00 in Staples Rewards to use too, so I went to Staples after work the other night was able to get 2 more boxes of drinks for only $1.98 out of pocket. I plan on using my Staples Rewards and maybe my Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks to keep us in cheap to free k-cup drinks. (See previous posts for more information on Staples Rewards and Swagbucks).

Sometimes when you work so hard for your family and to save money, it doesn't hurt to reward yourself or your family a little. Just make sure that you can afford to do it and that you still try to get the best deal that you can.

I think I'll go brew a cup of hot apple cider now! Yum.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chicken Math

I won't bore you to death with more pictures of me getting chicken ready for the freezer but I did want to pass along some of the information.

If you're new to the blog, I like to buy skin-on, bone-in chicken breast when they get to around .98 cents per pound. Then I remove the skin, take kitchen scissors and remove the breast part of the chicken (the boneless breast fillet) and then boil the rest of the chicken. I'm able to pull tons of chicken off what's left after it has cooked. I pinch it off the ribs and put it in baggies. It's cooked and ready to go for all kinds of meals. There is a ton of information and pictures earlier in the blog if you're interested.

Well, I bought 4 packs of chicken the other day for .98 center per pound and spent about $17.00 total for the 4 packs. Jason and I processed the chicken today and were able to get 13 meals out of it including the cooked shredded chicken and the chicken breasts that I froze raw. That breaks down to around $1.31 per meal for the chicken. Pretty good in my book.

I was also thinking about what you get for your money as I was doing this. The chicken breast that I get when I do this are HUGE! The comparison between these breast and the boneless, skinless breast that you pay $2 or $3 per pound for is like comparing Dolly Parton to a fashion runway model. So, even if you didn't want to cook the remaining breast for the extra meat and just cut the breast portion off, you would still be getting a much larger piece of chicken for a fraction of the cost. And all you had to do was pull a small amount of skin off and take the scissors to the breast portion. Not much work, but a lot of savings. Of course, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the remaining chicken of course. I can sometimes get as much as 3 pounds of cooked shredded chicken just from what's left on the bone after I cut the breast portions off.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Manage Your Stockpile and Donate to Others

I was going through some of my stockpile the other day and realized that I had way too much toothpaste. When it's easy to get it very cheap or free, you sometimes end up with more than you need or could even use. I pulled out the toothpaste and dental floss and we had over 25 tubes of toothpaste. Since sales run every 6 to 8 weeks, you really don't have to stock supplies floor to ceiling, just until the next sale comes along. I kept about 6 tubes of toothpaste and 5 packs of floss and decided to give the rest away.


A friend from work was taking up donations for basic needs, so I started boxing stuff up to donate. When you get enough for your own family and can still keep getting items cheap or free, why not make a donation stockpile? Trust me, anything you are able to give will be great appreciated and you won't have to spend a lot of money to really help someone out.

When it was all said and done, this is what I was able to give on short notice. I plan on getting a box to start putting items in it just for donation. I encourage everyone to try that and send me information or pictures on your donations.



Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Publix trip for 11/17/11

Jason met me after work yesterday and we did a little shopping, had dinner and hit Publix before going home. I had another good "stocking up" trip.

I spend $54.69 out of pocket and saved $76.85. That's a savings of 58.4% off my grocery bill. I'm satisfied enough if I save more than I spend.




It still blows my mind to think about someone spending $131.54 for what you see. Thank you coupons and sales.

I do think it's funny though how I buy things usually in multiples of two.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Deals at Target

Jason and I went out to do a little shopping today and I found a couple of deals at Target. These coupons were still available the last time I checked in case you're interested. You can get the Target coupons from http://www.target.com/.

I got 4 packs of Reach dental floss and 1 sleep shirt for $2.15 total (tax and all).


I had a Target coupon for $3.00 off any sleepwear. Naturally, I headed straight for the clearance section and found this sleep shirt marked down to $4.98. After applying the coupon, I paid $1.98 for the shirt.

The dental floss was $.97 each. I had two Target coupons for $.50 off the dental floss, plus 2 manufacturer's coupons for $1.50 off two. After all the coupons were applied, Target paid me $.12 to take the dental floss off their hands and the overage was applied to my remaining balance.

It is so much fun to get stuff really cheap, free or be paid to take them!!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Had a great grocery trip yesterday

I went to Publix yesterday after work and did pretty well if I do say so myself. I worked hard going through my coupons and working on my list the night before (while also watching tv) so I felt ready to do some damage.

I won't bore you with listing all the items that I got (it was a lot) so I took some group and close-up photos to try and show all the items.












Even with 5 pictures, there were still items hidden from view. I've got to learn how to organize for pictures better.

I got everything you see (and the items you can't see) for $105.84. I saved $131.27 or 55.5% using coupons.

True, this isn't the major hauls that you see on the Extreme Couponing television shows but honestly those are so unrealistic. The trip I had was done with only a couple of hours of preparation time and strictly abiding by the store coupon policies, and I still was able to cut more than 50% off my grocery bill. I have read numerous times that the stores change their coupon policies for the person checking out on the reality show. So, even if you tried your hardest, you couldn't match what they've done because of the restrictions of the "normal person" coupon policy. Plus, I don't know about you, but I don't have 30-40 hours per week to put into coupons! I have a life and it doesn't revolve around coupons only.

But I do want to save money and this was something trip was something that could be done by anyone at most stores.

It's nice to be able to contribute to my family's goal of being debt free, add to our financial security and just basically know that if something happens to one of our jobs that we have food on hand and that I have the tools to make the most of what money we do have.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gas Discounts from Grocery Stores

I know a lot of people that shop at certain stores so that they can get a discount (10 cents or so) on their gas purchases at that same store. It sounds like a great deal, but not always.

If you are shopping at this store already because they are saving you the most money and have a great coupon program, then it's great to get the gas discount as an added bonus. If you are only shopping there for the gas discount you're probably spending a lot more than you are saving.

I mean think about it, if you have a 16 gallon gas tank on your vehicle and you have earned a 10 cents discount per gallon, that's only a savings of $1.60! If you can shop at another store and save more than basically $2.00 then it's smarter to shop at the money saving store.

There are some stores however that will give you a smaller discount on the gas (say 3 cents) just for scanning your store loyalty card, no purchase necessary. I normally do this and then get my groceries at the store where I can get the most savings and stretch my money as far as it will stretch.

It's funny how some "great savings" plans aren't really that great when you look at the numbers. Don't just assume you're saving the most, check your numbers and adjust if you need to.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More Coke and a smile!

If you've read the blog before, you know that I rarely pay for Coke products. I use the "my coke rewards" program as much as I can. 

To refresh your memory, there are codes on the lids and cardboard boxes for Coke. You can enter these codes into a free account on http://www.mycokerewards.com/ and you will be awarded points for the codes you enter. Then you can redeem your points for all kinds of things. Some options are magazine, products, event tickets and the one that I like the most, coupons for free coke products. For 240 points, I can get a coupon for a free 12 pack! I get these as often as a I can.




I don't run out and use my free 12 pack coupons as soon as I get them though. I save them up and use them when it benefits me the most. (The coupons have a long expiration date but do keep an eye on it).

Some grocery stores will run specials on Coke that if you buy a certain number of 12 packs, then you get 1 or 2 free. This is when I use my free 12 pack coupons.

For example, recently one of my favorite stores ran a special that if you bought 2 packs of Coke, then you would get 1 free. That means that I can get 3 packs of Coke, but only have to use 2 of my free 12 pack coupons. I mean, I'm getting them all for free but I am able to stretch the coupons out more to get even more free products.  For this particular sale I had 6 of the free 12 pack coupons to use and I turn those into 9 free 12 packs and got everything for free!!!!!




It gets even better! Remember that those 9 free 12 packs that I just got have more Coke reward points on them, so it just keeps the cycle going to help me earn more points and more free Cokes.

I don't think that I have actually paid for Cokes in years.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Using Manufacturer Sites for Extra Savings

If you need an item or find yourself using a particular product all the time, isn't it great to be able to save money when you buy it. There isn't always a coupon in your local newspaper for the item you need or when you need it, but all is not lost.

You can always go to the manufacturer's site directly and check for promotions and special savings coupons. I decided to buy a certain type of cleaner recently and didn't have a coupon for the item but when I went to the website for the manufacturer, I found a $3.00 off coupon just waiting for me.

I wish that I could get that at every website I check, but it doesn't always work that well. There is still another way to get specific product coupons though. You can send a letter or an email to the product that you love and let them know how much you like them and why. A lot of times they will send you coupons for money off their product or even coupons for free products. It doesn't hurt to try. I mean the worse thing that will happen is that you get a "thank you" response and no coupons.

Another thing that you can find on the manufacturer websites are rebates. If you're buying the product anyway with or without coupons, why not check to see if you can get some money back on your purchase.

I've seen a lot of rebates that end up making the product free in the end or even giving you back more than you paid for the product (called a money maker).

Good luck with your searches and money saving shopping.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spur of the moment Staples deal

So, we ran out of regular printer paper at home and I've been printing my coupons on pink paper left over from a Breast Cancer fund drive. I had a coupon that came in the mail from Staples for $10 off any $10 or more purchase, so I figured why not stock up on paper.

When I walked in the door, there was a paper display with rebate information. Rebate you say, interesting. The packs of paper were $5.99 each but had a rebate of $3.99 making them $2.00 after the rebate. You could get two deals with this rebate also.



So, I got two packs of paper ($5.99 each) for $11.98 plus tax, used my $10.00 off and paid $2.13 out of pocket. But wait, remember the rebates! I also have $7.98 coming back to me in a rebate check. So when it comes down to it, Staples paid me $5.85 to take two packs of their paper home.

I just really love it when stores pay me to shop....now if I could only find a way to make a career of it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

9/15 CVS Haul!

As I said before, I go through spurts of hitting CVS for several weeks in a row, then there's a lull for a few weeks. Well I think I've been through the lull and started back on my streak with CVS this week.




Even with sale prices, the total for these items would have been $73.40, but I got all this after coupons and extra care bucks for $22.99! The Prilosec was $24.99 just by itself. Here's a breakdown of what I was able to get:

5 Bottles of Dawn Dish Liquid
4 Bags of M&M's (Peanut Butter Flavor, Yum!)
3 Cans of Aussie Hairspray
1 Box, 42 count Prilosec
1 Box, CVS brand allergy medicine
1 Nestle Crunch Bar
1 Butterfinger Bar
3 Cherry Coke 12 packs
1 Sprite 12 pack.

Plus, get this, I still have $3.00 in Extra Care Buck left to use on something else. I guess I'll be rolling that $3.00 into some deals for next week. CVS hot streak here I come!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Start your own side business

Do you have a good eye for great items and quality? There is a great deal of money to be made from buying items at a low cost and selling them online or at garage sales. Of maybe you already have items that you no longer want and wouldn't mind selling.

You can check out garage sales, auctions and thrift stores for lost treasures. This could be designer purses, clothing, collectibles, books, music, anything. There could be someone right this very minute that would buy something you have. People collect all sorts of things and frequent the online markets for stuff to buy. Why not buy it from you?

Sites like EBay and Craigslist are very easy to use and reach a huge market for you. I have sold items to people in other countries and all over the United States. Sometimes, it's on items that you might think no one would ever want.

The secret is to know a good thing when you see it and get it at a good price so that you will have more profit for yourself. I also recommend checking out the items that are hot and selling great online. That way you know what sells and around what price you could get for it when selling.

I bought a big box full of purses one time at an auction and paid $12.00 for the entire box of them. I noticed right away(before I bought them) that most of them were very high-priced designer purses. I ended up selling them online and locally for a profit of around $250.00. The people who got them were happy with getting designer purses at a great deal and I made money.

Remember when you're out going through items, it may not be something you want for yourself, but would it sell easily and can you get it cheap? If so, take a chance and see if you can make some extra money.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bartering

I bet most young people today don't even know what that word means. If you want or need something, well you just go out and buy it right? I really think bartering is a lost gem that needs to make a comeback.

If I need a chainsaw for example, chances are that I really don't need a chainsaw year round, I just need to use one for a very limited time. Why would I want to spend the money to purchase my own chainsaw when I could borrow one from a neighbor or friend? Then I could loan an item that I own to that person or provide some of my time for them. Everyone wins.

I get the use of an item (or service) I need and the other person gets the same, all without having to spend any money. You can even start out with the barter offer. If I have a single neighbor that I know owns an item I need to use, I could offer to cook them a home-cooked meal in exchange for using that item. Most people would love to do that. Plus you get to know people better.

Do any of you barter? Well, tell me about it. If not, let's all try to barter something soon and share our results.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Subdivision Amenities - A Great Deal

Jason and I moved into a neighborhood last year that has homeowner dues that are required to be paid from each lot owner or homeowner. I think at first most people would balk at having to pay yearly to take part in the neighborhood amenities, but when you really look at it, it's a great deal.

Generally the dues in our neighborhood are $300 to $400 yearly but take a look at what we get for that amount.

We have a community swimming pool open to residents and their guest that is taken care of by someone else and comes with nice, resort-style chairs and umbrellas. I don't have to lift a finger to care for this pool, just enjoy it.

We also have a community clubhouse that a homeowner can use free of charge for meetings, parties or other types of gatherings. So, I don't have to super clean my house for a party, I can just use the clubhouse and if it's summer my party can use the pool too!

Our neighborhood has well paved streets with great street lights as well. You would feel perfectly safe biking, walking or running in the early morning or night. But wait, there's more!

We also have a  playground and very nice tennis courts that are taken care of and kept in great condition.

I mean seriously, it would cost me tons more money than the yearly dues just to take care of the pool alone not to mention the time and energy, but we get this plus all the other treats for under $400 a year.

You can't beat that deal and I didn't even need a coupon!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold!



I'm sure you've noticed or heard that the prices for gold and silver have sky-rocketed. If you have any gold or silver, now is the time to sell it and get some extra money.

Look through your old jewelry for broken items or things you just really don't care for or ever wear. Better to be cash in your pocket than items just taking up space in your jewelry box.

Don't forget to also check silver service pieces, picture frames and knick-knacks for possible silver as well as silver and gold coins.

You will be amazed at just how much you can get for these right now, but take your items to a couple of different places to see who gives you the best price. If you have an item that isn't marked well or you are unsure if it's gold or silver, go ahead and take it with you. The buyers have methods to test the items for the metals.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Plenty to Read

One more great thing about couponing has been the information that I've gotten from the coupon blogs. I love magazines and all the magazines that you see here were given to me free. I'm not talking about a sample issue either, but 1-3 year free subscriptions.




The coupon blogs will usually give you the link or information on how to get yours. Sometimes you have to answer a quick survey or something similar but that's it! You don't have to give a credit card number or anything other than you name and address. It's that simple and it does work, as you can see.

Some of the magazines that we get are Shape, Martha Stewart Living, Dog Fancy, Popular Science, Body & Soul, Women's Day, Town & Country, Fast Company, Marie Claire, Fitness, and a few more that I'm sure I'm forgetting about. There is nothing like free entertainment, plus a lot of the magazines have coupons in them too.

So keep your eye out while you scan the coupon blogs for free subscriptions.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Great Day of Savings!

Today has been a great day to save money! It started with the Redbox movies. If you "liked" Redbox yesterday on Facebook, you got a code to be used today for a free movie rental. Well of course I did that.

On my lunch hour I stopped by the Redbox located outside CVS. While I was scoring my free movie rental, the Redbox lady came up and gave me a coupon for another free rental. YES!

After I left Redbox, I went over to Staples to continue my savings streak. Check out what I got!



You see 4 boxes of Glad sandwich bags, 2 hand sanitizing spray pens, 300 Dixie paper plates, 1 Swiffer duster kit (wand and 5 refills), 2 Swiffer refill boxes (32 dry cloths total).

My total before any coupons was $31.20. I had a coupon printed from the internet for $5.00 off purchase of $25.00 or more so I used that and my Staples Reward bucks earned from January and after tax recalculation, I only paid $6.59 out of pocket!!!!!

That's a lot of stuff for $6.59, plus 2 free movies to boot.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sorry that I've been missing in action

I apologize for not writing much lately. I do have more article ideas, but the past few weeks have been rough and I just haven't gotten around to writing. I'm sure you can relate that sometimes life just gets in the way of the fun stuff we would rather be doing.

I plan on getting some writing done this weekend, so maybe I can get back on track.

How has everyone been? I would love to hear from you about how you're doing and what you're doing to save money.

Have a great evening,

Tonya

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Free Cokes!

When I got home today there were 3 more coupons in the mailbox for free Coke 12 packs.




I got these by cashing in some of my Coke reward points. You can also get tons of other items besides the free 12 packs. I feel like the free 12 pack coupons are the gift that keeps on giving. I get the 12 packs for free with the coupons, which of course have more Coke reward points on them that I save up for more free coupons!

I've written before in detail about the program if you want to check the earlier article out or go to www.mycokerewards.com for more information.

Gotta love free!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Breaking the chains of debt!

You guys already know that Jason and I are working hard on becoming debt free. A while back I thought of something (possibly silly) that I could do that would give us visual encouragement on our progress. I made a paper chain (I tapped into my inner child) out of red paper! Each link in the chain represents $1,000 of what we have left on our mortgage. As we pay on the mortgage and move our balance down, we get to take off links in the chain.



I know it probably sounds silly and stupid, but you would be really surprised at how much of a kick we get out of tearing the links off and seeing the chain get smaller. Thinking about paying a mortgage off can seem like an overwhelming task, but having something that represents that goal that you can hold in your hands and see the progress makes it seem easier to accomplish. It's just like when you made paper chains in school to countdown for Christmas or summer break. The smaller the chain gets, the more excited you become and the more you have to look forward to.



There is a lot to be said for "breaking the chains that bind".

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Free Breakfast

I had a nice surprise when I went outside today to get my two newspapers from the AJC, free breakfast. Each newspaper had three single servings of cereal with coupons for those products! That's 6 days worth of breakfast for free plus coupons.

It is said that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but apparently free breakfast is possible. Go figure!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Chicken!

I know it's hard to believe, but we had almost ran out of the chicken from my previous trip. So, I waited for the next sale and was able to get packs of split chicken breast for $.98 per pound. I ended up with 6 packs which turned out to be 24 large chicken breast and I spend around $27.00 for all the chicken.

First, I removed the skin from the breast and then cut the thick breast section off of the bone. That gave me 24 boneless, skinless chicken breast, but I only froze 16 as raw chicken breast to be grilled later.


Next, I took the 8 leftover chicken breast and what was left of the split chicken after I had cut off the breast meat (I call them the carcass) and put them in pots of boiling water to cook.  When they were cook and cooled, Jason and I tore the remaining meat off the bone and broke the cooked breasts into pieces. That gave us over 5 pounds of cooked, shredded chicken breast meat.


I love having these for all kinds of meals like pizza, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, nachos, and the list goes on and on but I'll stop there before I start sounding like Bubba Gump.

I calculated that with both the chicken breast and the cooked chicken, it will give us 18 meals worth of chicken. Not bad for a $27.00 investment and a little time in the kitchen. Plus, it saves me so much time during the busy week. I could kick myself for paying high prices for boneless, skinless chicken in the past when it's so much cheaper to do it this way, plus you get a lot more chicken.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

E-Readers vs. Real Books

I will admit that I sometimes wish I had an e-reader, but there are a few hurdles that I just can't seem to overcome enough to purchase one. I wanted to put some pros and cons down to see how they stack up against each other.

E-Readers:
Pros:
Lighter to hold than real book
Able to hold many books at one time which is more portable
Easy to read at night (has its own light)
Can download free books from library (but nobody I know with these does that)

Cons:
A little expensive to buy the device
Each book cost an average of $10.00
You probably miss out on great books you wouldn't see by ordered online
There is no resell value to the books
It would be sad to see this replace real books

Real Books:
Pros:
Don't have to worry about battery life
Can be checked out for free at library or bought very cheaply second hand
Can be resold to make some of your money back if bought
Can carry them places that might damage the electronic devices
Books have history and beauty to them

Cons:
Bulkier to deal with than e-readers
Need additional light to read at night


I guess from actually putting my thoughts down on paper than I will be sticking with good old-fashioned real books. I have nothing against the e-readers and they seem to be great but at this point I'm just not willing to pay for every book I read then delete it. Maybe at some point I will be, because it being easier on my hands does interest me. I love being able to browse through books and seeing what interest me. Also, if I had e-books what would I put on my bookshelves? Just kidding.

What are your thoughts on the subject.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stay Tuned!

I'm sorry I haven't posted anything lately but I'm a little under the weather. Please hang in there with me because I do have several posts that I'm trying to work on and hope to start getting them out in the next day or two.

I hope everyone is doing well and saving lots of money!

See ya soon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ramblings about us

There is a old song by Barbara Mandrell that says "I was country when country wasn't cool". Well, I've been cheap way before it was chic (or trendy). Of course these days, I feel like it's really more of a necessity than the "in style" thing to do. I really don't know how people that don't use coupons deal with the rising cost of everything. Everything is on the rise but salaries it seems.

I've gotten stuff off the side of the road before (furniture), I've dumpster picked (didn't actually go into the dumpster since the stuff was in front of it), I use coupons, I've sold stuff on Ebay or at yard sales, I've made my own items to use and to sell, and lots of other things all to save money, make money, or for just for the fun of it.

It has been a goal of ours for a long time to be debt free at the earliest age we could and still have what we wanted and needed. I would say that we are lucky though, that we will don't have a ton of wants. We don't have to have the latest and greatest electronics, expensive clothes, etc. It is much more important to me to one day have the financial freedom to do whatever we want than to have every got gadget known to man.

That's not to say that we don't have cell phones, computers or other technology but we do really get our money's worth out of things. We even try to keep our automobiles as long as we can or shoot for 10 years to get out of them what we've put into them. If you're constantly upgrading and trading things in, you're really losing money and not getting the most out of your investment. I'm willing to spending a little more for an item if I think it will last longer than a similar item that's cheaper.

I feel like we work hard for our money and we want our money to work hard for us too. My advice to anyone would be to really ask yourself if you need something or if you're letting peer pressure or your wants talk you into something to waste your money on?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saving Money By Being Open To All Brands

For the most part, I have no brand loyalty. I will admit there are a handful of items where only a certain brand will do, but all in all I let the coupons and deals lead the way. This has actually worked out very well since I have tried all kinds of new items that I probably wouldn't have tried without the coupons. I have found some new favorite brands and in the process saved a lot of money on groceries.

Different companies at different times will put out great coupons for their products, so if you don't mind using different brands you can rack up a lot of savings by going with the company with the best coupons out at the time.

On the items that you prefer a specific brand, keep any eye out for their coupons and stock up when you see them. You can also write a letter or email to the company to let them know how much you like their product and how loyal you are. Sometimes they will send out great coupons for their products when you do this.

Sometimes even with coupons on the brand named items, the store brand is a better deal. In this case, I'm going with the store brand. The goal isn't to use as many coupons as you can but to get your groceries at the lowest price possible. Whatever the best bottom line is, go with that!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Emergency Fund

With the way things are right now, I think it is very important to have some sort of emergency fund set up. Job aren't as secure as they once were and if something happens to your income it will give you at least a little peace of mind to know you have funds tucked away to get you through for a while.

At one point we had 6 months worth of bill money and expenses in our emergency fund, but recently decided we needed to bump that up to a year's worth if we could. So, we tightened up a little more and instead of paying extra on the mortgage we used that money to beef up our savings. It was hard not to pay anything extra on the mortgage but in the end it was the right thing to do.

I know that we are very fortunate to both have jobs right now and be able pay extra on the mortgage or have money in savings, but we have also been working very hard for a long time to save money and live beneath our means to put ourselves in the best position we could.

If you have the opportunity, put some money aside. I believe every little bit helps. Even if you can't swing a year's worth or 6 months worth of expenses, try for 1 month. Then if you're able to get 1 month's worth, try to add a second month in and go on from there. You will probably be surprised once you go through your finances to see how much to save that you notice areas that you could cut back on.

It could be for peace of mind, unexpected household emergencies or any other situations that having some money set aside will help you to keep your head above water.

You know a lot of the things Jason and I do to minimize our expenses and save money aren't glamorous or sexy but in the end they do give us a sense of security that takes a little stress off our shoulders.

Couldn't we all use a little less stress in our lives?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CVS Lunch Haul 6/27

I'm still on a roll at CVS this week. I am starting to slow down some though. I started the trip off with getting the new Lysol Healthy Touch starter kit and some refills of the soap.

Transaction # 1

$12.99     Starter Kit
    4.29     Soap Refill
    4.29     Soap Refill
--------
$21.57     Subtotal
-  3.00     Coupon for Starter Kit
-15.48     Extra Care Bucks from last week
--------
$  3.09     New sub total
    1.51     Tax
--------  
$  4.60     Total Out of Pocket

Oh, but wait, you know there is more. With the Lysol deal I got back $10.00 in Extra Care Bucks!

Transaction # 2

$6.97      2 Bottles of Pantene Shampoo
  1.76      2 Bottles of Palmolive Dish Liquid
  3.39      1 Box of Saltines (no deals, we just needed them)
--------   
$12.12    Subtotal
-  3.00     Pantene Coupon
-    .25     Palmolive Coupon
-    .25     Palmolive Coupon
--------  
$  8.62    New Subtotal
-  8.62     Paid with Extra Care Bucks from Transaction # 1
--------  
Zero        Out of Pocket.

And I got $2.00 Extra Care Bucks back from this transaction for the Pantene Shampoo. So, I still have a tiny bit of bucks still to play with. Or maybe I'll just buy myself something pretty for all my hard work.



Basically, I got everything you see in the picture for $4.60 out of pocket and still got $2.00 back in Extra Care Bucks to spend on something else. I think that's pretty good since the starter kit alone was $12.99 when I got started.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wondering Why This Isn't A Coupon Blog?

If you've read my blog before you know that I love coupons. When I started thinking about starting a blog, I really didn't consider doing a coupons/matchups blog. Why? Well, for starters, I didn't want to limit myself to what the blog was about. I really wanted to be able to write about any and all things that Jason and I do to save money. Another reason that I didn't go with the coupon blog is that there are already hundreds, maybe thousands of coupons blogs that do a much better job than I could.

If you have some favorite coupons blogs, you should tell them thank you the next chance you get. It takes a lot of time and work to keep those type sites up and running and to keep them current. Althought, I wish I had known how they would take off when I started couponing! I would have jumped in too and hit the ground running.

I also tossed around several names before deciding on No Sweat to No Debt. The front runner for a long time was The Lazy Way to Debt Freedom, but my friend and fellow blogger Grace at http://www.grace-and-beauty.com/ was correct in telling me that No Sweat to No Debt was a catchier title. Hopefully, it sticks in your head a little better and is easier to remember.

So while I do really love coupons, this my friends is not a coupon only blog. I will of course share my coupon conquest with you and answer any coupon related questions you throw at me, but I will leave the detailed stuff to the experts. If you want a list of my favorite sites, just send me a message with your email and I'll be happy to share my list with you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saving up to pay cash for items

Our current computer is starting to show it's age. I think we've had it since 2004 which is about 100 years old in computer years.

So while it's still functions, we've started saving up money to pay cash when it does come time for us to buy a new computer. Sure, we could run out and use the credit card or some of our savings and get a new computer but I would rather not. I really hate seeing balances on our credit card and I really, really hate to use money we have already put into our savings. We are trying very hard to get our mortgage paid off as soon as possible and anything that slows that down makes my irritable.

So, I'm happy to start now setting money aside here and there to be able to pay cash when the time comes that we need to buy the new computer.

Sure, there are times when this just isn't possible. Things will break or tear up and there isn't any time to wait around to save up the money. Hopefully in this case you have some money in savings or money in your emergency fund to tackle the unexpected. I feel like any time you can keep from putting things on credit cards or getting additional loans, you're doing a great job.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making your fabric softener sheets last longer

We've been doing this for a long time, but I thought I would mention it to you in case some of you are interested.  It seems like we go through the fabric softener sheets so fast. Now, when I open a box, I cut the entire stack of sheets in half, doubling the life of the box.

I haven't noticed any different at all in the clothes by doing this. I have noticed not having to replace them as often and saving money by doing this. True, it's a small thing to do to save money, but I can promise you that all the small money saving tricks start adding up to big money and time saved quickly.

Monday, June 20, 2011

CVS Lunch Hour Trip, 6/20/11

I'm still on a roll with CVS. I went at lunch today and got what you see in the picture for $12.98, then got $15.48 back in Extra Care Bucks! That's like being paid $2.50 to take the stuff off their hands. I love being able to let my Extra Care Bucks ride to the next sale and use them to generate more bucks....and so on...and so on. Wow, I had a Prell Shampoo commercial flashback from the 80's I think.


I left the Hershey's Bliss Chocolate at work, but brought the bag home to put in the picture. I'm not a saint though, I did partake of a few before putting them out at the office.

Now I'll have to go check out the sales ad for next week and see what I can use my bucks on.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Using coupons to expand your horizons

I love trying new items out. You just never know when something great is going to come out and become your next favorite thing. It's true that sometimes you try new items and end up hating them, but here is where the beauty of coupons comes in.

Whenever a new item is released the company usually also releases high value coupons for that item. The stores also normally run specials on the new items as well. Both the company and the stores do this to encourage you to try the product (of course hoping you become hooked on it and continue to purchase it with or without coupons or sales).

This is the time when you can get the new items for little to no money and sometimes you're even able to stock up on the item. This way you can try out the new items and if you don't like them you haven't invested hardly anything (or nothing) into it and won't feel bad for not using it.

Let's say you've used this time to stock up on the item before having a chance to try it out and end up not liking it. You can always share with your family, neighbors, friends or local shelters! There again, you are able to give to others without spending very much of your money.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Walmart Trip, Saturday, June 18th

I went into town today to get a new perm (and bangs) and also to go by Walmart for a little coupon magic.


It's funny that I buy so many multiples of two! But I have two subscriptions to the Sunday newspaper so that I have at least two of each coupons to use on buy one get one deals.

I spent $31.44 out of pocket and saved $55.74. Not too bad. Some of the items Walmart actually paid me to take which helped out with the other items.

For example, I had Dial Body Wash coupons that took off $2.00 per bottle but there was no size restriction on the coupon. The trial size of the Dial Body Wash is only $.97 but as part of Walmart's new coupon policy, I got the full $2.00 value of the coupon. So, I made $1.03 on each of the two bottles that I got. I also made a little money on the vitamins.

Anyone else have a good haul today?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Like a moth to the flame

It has been said of me that I have a built in clearance radar/homing beacon. I can usually find the mark downs in any store, even if I've never been there before (it's a gift).

I always try to check out the clearance items when I'm in a store. You can still use coupons on clearance items making the savings even bigger also. I have gotten some amazing deals from the clearance section even without coupons.

Some store (especially smaller stores) will receive the same size shipments as their much larger counterparts. They quickly run out of space for things and will put lots of great items out for clearance to make room. These items are still good and/or in great shape, they're just taking up needed room.

Jason works for potato chip company and is in and out of stores all day long. He has one smaller store he loves because it seems like their clearance buggy always has great stuff we love marked down really low. It's like they put it out there just for us. We have even nicknamed it "the magic buggy".

So, the next time you're in a store of any kind, check out their clearance items. Maybe you'll find some magic of your own.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I did it again.

I may have to start wearing a trench coat, dark sunglasses and a hat to CVS. I went again at lunch. I know I sound like I need a 12 step program or something.

There was a rumor on the coupon blogs that today only you could scan your CVS card at the coupon kiosk and would receive a coupon to get a Pepsi 12 pack for $.99. Also, the CVS website had coupons to get free Hershey candy bars.

I was going right past there at lunch, so it only made sense to stop right? Probably not since this is my third trip in three days, but who cares, I went anyway. Apparently the Pepsi coupon is only in certain areas (not here), but I did get the free Hershey candy bars and went ahead and used a few of my extra care bucks (and coupon) to get more of the peanut butter M&Ms. Jason and I got some of these at Easter and they are so good.



Not the healthiest of trips I will admit, but Jason will also eat the candy and a girl needs a little bit of chocolate every now and then doesn't she. The answer is yes, yes she does. Some days more than others (hee hee).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

and CVS loves me too.

I went back by CVS this afternoon because their truck normally comes in on Tuesdays (the fact that I know this is probably not a good sign). I wanted to see if they had restocked the razor blade refills and maybe a few of the items that I had rain checks for. I had no luck on the rain check items (that's okay though, the rain checks never expire) but the blade refills were in.

Yesterday I was able to get the Schick Hydro 5 Blade razor for free (I'm also currently using a razor just like it). So, today I made sure to get the correct blades to fit these razors.

Here's a breakdown of what I did tonight.



$8.79         Hydro 5 refills
$2.99         Paper Plates (we were out, no great deals)
-2.00         Coupon for Hydro 5 refills
----------
$9.78
-9.78         Paid with Extra Care Bucks earned yesterday
----------
    .82         Out of pocket (still had to pay the tax)

But then I got $4.00 more in extra care bucks back. So the store paid me $3.18 to take these two items.

I have $9.00 in extra care bucks left from yesterday plus the $4.00 from today giving me $13.00 more to play with when the new deals start or my rain check items are restocked. Who knows, I may just blow it all on something stupid. Nah, you know I won't. Even when I treat myself, I try to still get the biggest bang for my Extra Care Buck.

Monday, June 13, 2011

CVS, I love you too!

It seems like I have been on a roll lately with CVS also. I went again today at lunch and had another cool trip.


I was able to get what you see in the picture for $21.03 out of pocket, then received $19.00 back in extra care buck. That's like getting this stuff for $2.03. As you can see, I got some great items that we already use and needed. (A little side note, the pure version of the Purex 3 in 1 laundry sheets that were in the new boxes had 22 sheets instead of the 20 in the other packages, so get those for 2 extra).

I probably could have done multiple transactions to get my out of pocket costs down by using the extra care bucks earned from the previous transaction to pay for the next, but I'm perfectly happy to be out of pocket a little and let the bucks roll! I have a limited amount of time to shop (usually on my lunch hour) and you really can't plan all the multiple transactions before you get to the store since you don't know what they will have and what will be sold out already. Most of the time I don't have the mental focus or time to create the transactions on the fly.

So, I happily paid the $21.03 and now have $19.00 to use for my next trip or for items that I don't have coupons for (I know in a perfect world, there would be wonderful coupons for everything!).

I do have some rain checks (that earn more extra care bucks) from last week that I could use the $19.00 toward to get the items for free and still earn more extra care bucks to keep rolling along.

Just to let you know, I don't do this week after week. It seems to come in waves where I am able to get some really good deals and extra care bucks to roll into the next week, then I'll go a few weeks without even going to CVS until the next wave hits.

Anyone else have some CVS hauls you want to share? I would love to see them.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Have I mentioned that I love Publix?

It's like my second home, but that's okay, they're nice there and they give me stuff. I went after work on Friday to hit a few of the deals and was able to get what you see in the picture for $16.33 and saved $24.73.
They were out of a few of the advantage ad deals but I have plenty of time to try for them again.


That's 3 bags of croutons, 4 bags of rice blends, 2 diet cokes, 4 bottles of lotion, 3 bottles of regular mustard, 2 bottles of spicy mustard, sliced cheese, ham, salami and capicola (from the deli) all for $16.33.

I had an earlier trip in the week where I needed to get things we were out of (I know shocking that I was out of something, but it happens) and stuff to actually make meals out of. I was thinking it was going to be nasty at the register but I was still able to get out for around $62.00 and saved $47.00. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I did just doing to the best I could. I figure if I'm saving money, it's all good.

I do love the trips where I cherry pick the ads and get out for a tiny bit of money, but you still need filler items to be able to make meals to eat. If you can do that and still save some money, that's still a great job in my book. I just don't have countless hours to pour over all the possible deals and go to multiple stores and I'm sure many of you don't either.

I recommend doing the best you can do and still have fun with it, save some money when you can and get on with living your life. I look at saving money on groceries as allowing me to have more money to use towards debt freedom, but also to enjoy our lives. Life is much too short to stress over groceries.

Friday, June 10, 2011

CVS haul from lunch on 6/1

I hit CVS at lunch today and had a great trip. I was paid .51 (that's 51 cents) to take everything you see in the picture home with me. I just love couponing. You don't have to fill the bed of your truck up with items to get that coupon high. I'm happy with just saving money so getting free stuff just thrills me.


Has anyone had any good hauls lately? Send me a picture and summary of your trip and I'll post it on the blog.

Have a great weeked.

Use What You Have First

Jason has been nice participant in my recipe experiments. Some have turned out great and some....well we ended up eating peanut butter sandwiches. I try to use up things I have on hand that are expiring soon or about to go bad. This way I get my money out of the items we buy and I'm able to wait a little longer to purchase more items.

For example, I bought a bag of the red potatoes recently and have tried to work them into different dishes before they start looking back at me, mocking me with their eyes. Sometimes if I don't a have meal planned out I will look through the fridge and the cabinets to see what we have on hand and come up with something on the fly.

One of my best (and easiest) creations was what we call "chili-mac".  I was struggling to find something for dinner one night and saw a box of macaroni and cheese and then a can of chili. The light bulb went on and I thought the chili would season and bulk up the macaroni and cheese for a quick meal. I cooked the macaroni and cheese according to the box and then just stirred the chili into it. It was great! It even made it into our normal rotation of meals.

So, the next time you're trying to find something to eat, get a little creative and see what you can create with what you have on hand. You might surprise yourself or end up eating cereral for dinner but you won't know until you try.

I would love to know what some of you have created and would be willing to share.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Living Beneath Your Mean and Getting What You Really Want

Jason and I have honestly always tried to live beneath our means and so far it has worked out for us very well. It just always made us feel more secure to know that there was wiggle room in what we bought and what we could actually afford.

When we have bought houses, we got mortgages that we could more easily afford in case something came up with jobs or medical situations. We could have gotten much larger mortgages and houses but then you've got to pay for them and the bigger they are the less extra wiggle room you have if any.

It has been our goal for a long time to become completely debt free, no mortgage, no debt of any kind. We have always tried to pay extra when we could on any loans we've had. This helps to pay them off faster and also pay less interest to the lender. We also are perfectly happy enjoying our home and local area on vacation instead of taking trips. We don't really have to have the latest and greatest electronic devices. It means much more to me to one day have the financial and personal freedom of being debt free than having a super huge house would. Hey, I still have to clean the thing, so I don't want to get too big any way.

This idea works for just about anything though. Different people have different goals and passions as well. I know people live for great vacations.  I know people who would like to be able to provide their children with college educations with no debt. I know people who are really into cars and other vehicles. Whatever your passion, if you live beneath your means on the things that don't matter as much to you, you will have more money to spend on those passions or at least give you a little more piece of mind.  My motto has always been to spend as little as possible on the things that I don't care much about so that I have the money for the things I love.

Living on a house of cards that could topple at any time is a very stressful and difficult way to live. Do yourself a favor and ask yourself before you make purchases or financial decisions, is this really important to me or will it help me get to where I want to be? If not, why not think about it a little longer or find other options that support your passions and your goals.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Are you loyal?



This is my loyalty card keyring. I started acquiring so many of the keyring cards that I put them on a ring by themselves so that I didn't have to deal with them each time I used my car/house keys.

I think it's smart to always check to see if your favorite stores have loyalty programs. If you are shopping there anyway, why not earn points, coupons or free items? For example, I just went to Kmart on my lunch break to look for pool floats (they had the ones I wanted--yes!) and I gave the cashier my Kmart Rewards Card when I checked out. She checked the card and I had earned $2.50 in rewards that I could put towards my purchase. We don't really even shop there that much but I had still earned a little bit.

There are tons of stores now that have their own rewards and/or loyalty programs (hence the separate keyring) that give you an opportunity to get rewarded for spending your money with that store.

I also consider these programs when I need to buy something that is sold pretty much everywhere. If it is something that runs similar pricing everywhere, I go to the store that gives me the most cash back rewards or other incentives. I might as well make the purchase help me out a little too.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Staples Ink Recycling Rewards

Another way that Jason and I save money is to participate in the Staples ink recycling rewards program. For every ink cartridge that I turn in to Staples for recycling, they award me with $2.00 for each one that I bring in. The awards or reward money is added to your Staples reward account and you can print the vouchers off from your computer to take to Staples and use just like cash. You're allowed to turn in 10 cartridges a month so there is a potential to receive $20.00 a month just for recycling.

When you print online coupons like I do, you tend to use more ink than normal so I go through the cartridges faster than I would like. It's nice to be able to get some money back on them to help with the next purchase of ink. You could also collect the cartridges from your office, school or friends that aren't using a recycling program already.

I have used my Staples rewards to get coupon binders, office supplies and all kinds of things for free that I would have otherwise not gotten or had to pay for. Even if you don't need office supplies you can get cleaning supplies, snacks, toilet paper and paper towels there as well which I think most people use.

You can go to http://www.staples.com/ or check in the store the next time you in to sign up for the rewards card (its free) and get started.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I really love Publix!

I went to Publix today on my lunch hour to work a little coupon magic and think I did pretty well. Below is a breakdown of what I was able to get. I had coupons for a lot of the items that I got, in fact, the cokes and sweet potato fries were competely free with coupons.

8 - 12 packs of Coke (all free by the way with Coke rewards coupons)
4 - cartons of Breyers Blasts Ice Cream
1 - bag of sweet potato fries (also free with coupon)
1 - bag tater tots
2 - packages of cheese slices
1 - turkey breast wrap (for my lunch since I spent entire lunch at Publix)
3 - organic apples
4 - 5 pound bags of sugar (20 pounds total)
2 - bottles of vitamin D3
4 - bottles Kraft salad dressing
2 - large bottles of Heinz ketchup
4 - cans Publix green beans (Sofie is on the green bean diet)



The picture doesn't include the turkey wrap since I ate it for lunch before taking the picture at home.

I paid $43.54 out of pocket and saved $92.05 all during my lunch hour. I love saving money !!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Buy Used and Save the Difference

True, there are certain things that you always want to buy new, undergarments come first to mind. But for a lot of items, you can find them used and save the difference for yourself. Why not let someone else take the hit of the new price for you?

I don't get all my clothes used, but I will tell you that most of my nicer pieces have come from yardsales. Some of my favorite pieces of furniture are also second-hand. I look at yardsales and thrift stores as treasure hunts. You never know what you will find and sometimes it's even unique. I love finding interesting, unique items that aren't items you can just run out and find in a store. It makes them special. I also find a lot of new items too though. Who doesn't love brand new items at yardsale prices? I sure do, the more money I save the more giddy I get. Again, the more money I save, the more I can put towards paying the mortgage off and being debt free.

Plus, the treasure hunting is fun. You get to meet interesting people and even get in a little exercise. You also get to see items with any kind of second hand shopping that you wouldn't normally see or maybe didn't even know existed.

We also enjoy going to auctions when we have the time. Think climate controlled yardsale with a snack bar! It's neat to see all the different items and have a chance to take part in how much the item is sold for. Again, I have gotten some awesome deals this way too. There have been several times that I have found items I really wanted and started bidding and had nobody else bidding. I end up with the item for next to nothing!

The next time that you have an item that you need, be it a car, furniture, clothing, lawn equipment or whatever, why not check out some yardsales, auctions, thrift stores or even Craigslist to get the item you need and save some money to boot.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Breakfast for Jason Update

I posted before about making muffins for Jason to carry for breakfast on the days he works. Well, I have a small update, or mini update you might say to that idea.

I bought a couple of mini muffin pans at a yardsale for $1 and made Jason's next batch of muffins with the mini muffin pans thinking it would be easier for him to just pop a small muffin in his mouth versus dealing with the crumbs and size of a standard sized muffine. It worked great! He says it is a lot less messy and easier to eat. I even take the papers off after they've cooled so he doesn't have to deal with those either.



I just thought that I would give you the update in case you're making muffins too and want to try it. If you're not making the muffins for an on-the-go family member, I'm betting the smaller size would work well for children as well.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Life for an old Bathroom Vanity

As I have mentioned earlier, I have gotten some cool items from freecycle. One of the things I have received is a old bathroom vanity in pretty rough shape. I don't have a before picture but here's picture of a similar style vanity to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.



The one I received did still have the top and of course had a bunch of holes in the back part of the cabinet where the pipes had been. We didn't need a vanity when I got this, but I had great plans for it.

First I took off the top sink/vanity part and replaced it with a piece of MDF measured to my needs. I covered the MDF with thin batting and reflective silver ironing board material.

Next I painted the cabinet part black and added sturdy wheels to the bottom so I could roll it around. Since the side and back were pretty much trashed and the paint wouldn't help, I put fabric around the back and sides.

What I had now was a rolling ironing cart with storage! I sew and quilt so I made sure the top was at least 45 or 50 inches wide so that a standard cut of fabric could be ironed straight with no overlap. I have lots of storage inside for rulers and other odd shaped items and love having the rectangle shaped ironing surface instead of the normal narrow-ened ironing boards. No more weird ironing lines!

You can find these vanities all the time for free or very cheap, and could make any kind of cart with it.....a rolling kitchen cart, the ironing cart, a mobile planting station, changing table (with the right modifications), tv stand, and those are just the first ones that popped in my head.

Here's a picture of my finished project. What do you think?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Freecycle

I would like to introduce you to another way to save money and either receive items or get rid of things that you no longer need. It's similar to a site like Cragislist but instead of listing things for sell, people list items that they would live to give away - free recycling - freecycle.

It's free to join and you sign up by your city or nearby cities that you wouldn't mind driving to for pickup. Basically, someone list an item (or items) they have to offer for give away. You send a reply email to that person and let them know that you're interested. If that person picks you for the item, they will contact you on when and where to pick the item up. You will be very surprised at the quality of items that you will see being given away.

So far, I've received a nice fiberglass kitchen sink, a kid's bicycle trailer, mirrors, bread machine, bathroom vanity (more on this item in an upcoming post), clothes, baker's rack, dining room table and more that I'm sure I'm forgetting. I've also listed and giving away a lot of items.

When you sign up there is usually a short list of rules for the site such as:

- your first post must be an offer
- the first week of the month you can't post "wanted" items, only offers
- no wildcat post (this is where you post an item and say first one here gets it)
- no items for sale or similar post.

It's really very simply and fun to do. To get started, go to http://www.freecycle.org/ and click on the button at the top left of the page that says "browse groups". You can then select your state and local cities or counties to join.

It's a wonderful way to get your unwanted items out of your way and also get some new things that you can use, all for free.

Gift from Kroger

I went to Kroger also at lunch because I had gotten a receipt coupon the other day for the floral department and it expired on 5/18/11. The coupon was for $5.00 off any floral purchase. I looked at the cut flowers but didn't see anything that fit the bill. Then I saw some little dish gardens that had been marked down to $3.35!


I didn't see anything else that I wanted so this was my only item at checkout. I handed the cashier my coupon fully expecting her to reduce it down to the price of the plant, but she gave me back $1.42 in cash!!! They paid me $1.42 to take this lovely plant off their hands and I was happy to do so.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Actually had a good trip to Walmart

If you've been to any of my coupon classes, you will surprised at the title of this article. In the past it has been difficult to save money with coupons at Walmart, but I admit their new coupon policy is pretty cool.

I did a small test trip today and was very pleased with the results.


In the photo there is a t-shirt, 3 boxes of Crystal Light Energy and 2 bottles of NYC nail polish.

$7.00     T-shirt
$2.00     Crystal Light
$2.00     Crystal Light
$2.00     Crystal Light
$1.72     Nail Polish
$1.72     Nail Polish

$16.44   Total for items shown.
-  9.72   Coupons given
$ 6.72   Out of pocket !!!

I may have to add Walmart into my rotation with the new coupon policy. I noticed that my store not only takes competitor store coupons from CVS, Target and Kroger but will also price-match as well.

If you haven't taken a look at the coupon policy yet, it's worth a look.

Swagbucks

If you haven't heard of Swagbucks yet, you are in for a wonderful treat. Swagbucks is a search engine that awards you points or "swagbucks" for doing routine searches and other easy to do task (such as surveys, polls and games). You can then use these swagbucks to purchase merchandise or gift cards.

I normally use mine to get Amazon gift cards, in fact so far I've gotten about $120.00 worth of free items on Amazon with my gift cards.

You will also see a new feature on the blog called a widget from Swagbucks. You can use it on my site to check for extra swagbuck codes and other fun stuff.

Swagbucks is a very easy and fun way to earn some free items and I've even heard of people using this to pay for their Christmas purchases. There are many tutorials on the site to help you with all the different ways to earn bucks and it's safe which is also very important.

If you have any questions, please let me know and if you're not already a member please sign up through the widget on the page (I get some goodies if you sign up with me and you will too when sign people up).

Good luck with your swag!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CVS trip for 5/18/11

I had some extra care bucks to use and needed some mascara so I headed to CVS at lunch today.


I got an assortment just to try them out and also used the new extra care bucks that I earned from the mascara to get the powder.

Here's a breakdown of what I got.

$17.97          3 L'oreal Mascara at $5.99 each          
$  9.29          Maybelline Pure Stay Powder     
            
$27.26          Total                       
             
Less my coupons and extra care bucks I was only out of pocket $4.18!!! I saved $23.08.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

CVS Haul for 5/12/11

I went to CVS today on my lunch hour and did pretty well. I really didn't get a large amount of items but the items I got were pricey.



Here is a breakdown of my trip:

Revlon Custom Eyes Shadow                                       $  8.99
Revlon Color Stay Quad Eye Shadow                           $  6.99
Aleve, 200 ct.                                                              $16.79
Zyrtec, 5 ct.                                                                $  6.29
Carefree 20 ct.                                                            $   .99
4- packs of Stride gum                                                $ 4.00
2-bottles Herbal Essences Shampoo                            $ 5.97


                                       Total before anything            $52.49 (with tax)
After I turned in all my coupons my total was                $21.10
                                           Initial savings                  $31.39

But wait, there's more, I also received $13.00 in Extra Care Bucks so that brings my out of pocket down to $8.10 for $52.49 worth of merchandise. Plus I have the extra care bucks to use on the next sale to hopefully be out of pocket next to nothing. Can you imagine paying $52.49 for what I got? I know some people do, but not this chick!!!
                              
HAPPY DANCE, HAPPY DANCE !

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saving Money with Breakfast for Jason

Since Jason leaves the house so early and doesn't really have time (or desire to spend the money) to stop for breakfast or lunch, he carries all of his food for the day with him, except dinner. Another of the small things that we do to save money is to make things for him to take for breakfast. They do have to be portable, not require heating and not be too messy. Muffins do the trick here. I can get them usually for around .30 cents a box or free with coupons (oh coupons how I love thee). On Sundays, I quickly whip up a batch of muffins for his weekly breakfasts. I normally make 12 regular size muffins and that gives him 2 muffins per day for 6 days.


Once they're cooked and cooled, I put 2 muffins per baggie and then put those baggies into a gallon-sized larger baggie to keep them fresh. When we make his lunch each weeknight, we only have to grab a baggie for the next day's breakfast. They're packaged and ready to go.



I figure that even cheaply going through a drive-thru for breakfast would cost around $2.00 (without drink) so this saves us an average of $12.00 a week just on this small item. Plus he gets some yummy baking from the oven.

Just in case you're wondering, he also carries his lunch, snacks and drinks with him as well. He doesn't eat out any during the day which also saves a ton on money as well.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thank you to all my shoppers

We had our neighborhood garage sale today and it turned out pretty well. I had to get up at the insane hour of 4:00 a.m. so that my husband could help me set some larger items out before he headed off to work. I can't really function at that time of the morning. It's cruel and just wrong. Ok, getting my big girl pants back on to stop the whining.

I was able to get just about everything out before my first customer arrived at 7:15. From there it was pretty busy until around lunch time. After that, I had periods of quiet time (this means me slumped over in a chair glassy-eyed) between customers. Jason arrived back home around 2:00 to help me pack the remaining items up for donation.

I have to say, it was a lot of work but I did really well. Below are some photos of my items and my awesome helper.







Friday, May 6, 2011

I am on a coupon high!

I went to the grocery store today and was able to 20 boxes of pasta and 2 packets of taco seasoning for $0.00. That's right, zero, nada, zilch! The items would be have cost around $40.44 but with store discounts and my beloved coupons, I got it all for free.




If you are wondering if I've gone carb crazy or we eat pasta everyday, no, but the expiration dates on the pasta isn't until 2013 and 2014 so we just won't have to buy any pasta for a long time. Even more surprising is that I was able to get healthy pasta, so it wasn't just junk either.

I must admit, I was giddy leaving the store and on a coupon high. I love being able to save money like that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Will post more soon

I'm sorry that I haven't posted much this week. I'm trying to get ready for our neighborhood yardsale that is this Saturday. I'll take some photos of my stuff and let you know how I did.


If you're local, Applewood Farm Subdivision in Taylorsville is having our Spring Community Yardsale this Saturday from 8-2. Come out and get some great deals.