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         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.