Shopping Extravaganza

Sunday Morning this showed up on our doorstep.

Now I have never done this before. Ordered 5 Sunday Newspapers and then used all those coupons to go shopping (especially since this is the first that I have done couponing since the end of March.) But I have this great friend who convinced me that it was worthwhile, she having saved $800 already this year. That number made me decide to take a closer look. And here we are with a single month subscription for 5 newspapers, just to give it a trial run.

Now picture all these coupons and great sales this week, in combination with my other lofty goal.

Other Lofty Goal: That “other” goal was to do a months worth of meal planning and shopping all at the beginning of the month (as found here) thus eliminating making too many trips to the store and possibly picking up too many “Oh this would be nice to have…” items, in theory saving you money. And on top of that I wanted/want to make a bunch of freezer meals (as found here) so that when our sweet little man gets here we won’t resort to take out/dining out like we did when we were unexpectedly blindsided with me being unable to make food.  To assist with this goal we bought this little beauty from Lowes.

5 Cubic Feet of Freezer Space

 

So with all these unreachable lofty goals I pulled together all these recipes, and attempted to make a monthly meal plan, plus add in some freezer meals, last week. The conclusion? That is not the program for me, and I haven’t even tried the “money saving” portion yet. But taking inspiration from all of the resources that I used this weekend, including some that weren’t listed, and my own brains, yes I do have some of my own ideas in here, I decided to continue with some of the freezer meals, I figured a little at a time is better then nothing, and then only a two week meal plan, more manageable, and at least for us, cheaper.

Even still this week was a very expensive shopping trip, but I figured that we are buying meals for both now and later so it will all even out.

This is a picture of the shopping cart at Albertson’s. That was a great deal!

My 5 transactions with their twice the value coupons looked like this:

10- boxes of Quaker Instant Oatmeal $ .88 each  Regularly $4.29

2- boxes of Captain Crunch Cereal $1.88 each  Regularly $4.99

3- bottles of Dole flavored Juice blends $1.88 each  Regularly $3.49

2- Knorr Soup Vegetable bouillon  $2.00 each  Regularly $3.99

2- Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup $ .46 each Regularly $1.29

4- Campbells Tomato Soup $ . 46 each  Regularly $1.29

2- Pace Picante Salsa $2.00 each  Regularly $2.99 (not the best deal but I needed it)

4- Old Orchard Cranberry Naturals Juice $1.38 each  Regularly $3.59

2- Hefty Storage Quart Freezer Bags $1.95 each Regularly $3.19

1- Sliced Tillamook Cheese $1. 79 each  Regularly $4.69

3- Sierra Mist $1.12 each  Regularly $1.99 (Do I normally buy Pop? That’s a big NO! But for Holiday get-togethers we like to mix it with Cranberry Juice and make a delicious punch. This is part of that Stockpiling concept which I believe I have mentioned before, and what got us through March until now on lots of goods, without having to pay a whole lot of money on them.)

8- Old Orchard Frozen Juice Concentrate $1.57 each  Regularly $2.09-2.49

3- Campbells Cream of Chicken Soup $1.32 each  Regularly $1.59 (again not the best deal but it was needed)

1- 2lb Medium Cheddar Cheese $3.99  Regularly $6.99

1- 2lb Sharp Cheddar Cheese $5.99 Regularly $8.99

Plus $2.00 off in Register rewards

Equals

$71.77 Spent

and

$75.51 Saved

And that was just at Albertsons! I also shopped at Walmart, Winco, Fred Meyers, and Family Dollar yesterday! But don’t worry I won’t lay them all out for you, plus it’s just easier from Albertsons to lay it out because of the way that they layout there receipts, you see exactly what you save, it’s great!

All of that shopping resulted in probably 20 – 25 trips up the stairs for me, and this when you walked in the front door. Don’t look at my messy house, …that is, if you can distinguish where house begins and groceries end.

We spent the better part of the evening sorting through this pile and getting it put away! I hope that your evening was just as productive as ours was!!

From my Family to Yours….

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A Debt Reduction Calculator

Well this week has just dragged by. Long, long, long it was, Yoda.  The doldrums that were coming and going the week before have now been a permanent uninvited house guest. I have been fighting them all week, but up until now it has been a losing battle. Last night and today I feel like I am finally coming around, to being somewhat normal again… what ever that is, right? I did get the budget all caught up for last month and also for this month as well! So there is one good thing right? I at least felt better about finally getting that accomplished! I also figured out our debt reduction calculator. Which was so cool and exciting I wanted to share that with you!

We all have things that we waste spend our money on, whether it be a new TV, Tires, a Laptop, or Furniture of some kind, at least that was what we used ours on, but there are quick and efficient ways to pay it off. What ways you ask? Why a debt reduction calculator of course! Not know what a debt reduction calculator is? Let me explain:

A debt snowball is paying off your lowest bills first by setting aside a certain extra amount of money each month to help pay them off. Though you may pay more in interest than in a debt avalanche (explained below) it has the exciting perk of having your debts be paid off more quickly.

A debt avalanche is setting aside a certain amount of money to pay off your debts with the highest interest first. But depending on the balance of your higher interest loans it may take longer for you to pay off your bills. If the difference between the snowball and the avalanche is not severe it may help to have the satisfaction of the debt snowball effect.

In the awesome Excel Spreadsheet that I found, they also have other variations that you can try using to customize your debt calculator.

There are also things called Snowflakes, which are onetime extra payments that you make above and beyond the normal monthly payments that you are making. For example, if you get birthday money you want to use, or if you want to use your Income Tax return to pay it off, it will help speed up the payoff even more!

Click here for this awesome Spreadsheet. But for those who are weary of Excel, let me just say three things. It has all the instructions written off to the side, it has examples already in the sheet to show you how it should work, and don’t forget the tabs on the bottom. This spreadsheet only comes with two tabs, but both pages are very informative and exciting!

Do you/have you use(d) anything like this? How has it worked for you? I personally learned about it in my money management class at BYU-Idaho, and it was super cool to put it to use!

Plums are Purple, and Snickers are Sweet,

From my family to yours…

And lets follow the wise counsel of those who have said to only go in debt for the essential things, such as school or a modest house, or car!

Here’s to being liberated from the chains of debt!

A Cleaning Wonder

Last night we finally took down our Christmas Tree. I know it was cutting into January and getting a little late to still have a tree up, but we didn’t actually get our tree until Dec. 21st, so I digress. As much as I loved having the tree up and the wonderful scent that came along with it, the pine needles were starting to fall off and get everywhere, and it was taking up much-needed space in the living room so that we can work out, with our new Kinect, and not hit the tree as we go (which was pretty funny at first). Once we got that all cleaned up, I’ve been on a cleaning binge trying to get everything washed, cleaned, dusted, and fixed up for the new year. Last night, as I was laying awake unable to sleep, I was getting excited to re-upholster our old armchair and couch with new fabric. So excited in fact that I almost stood up and went about doing it, right then, until I realized it was 12:45 am, I needed to sleep, and finish my other cleaning projects first, and second finish a couple of other craft projects I have in the works (more on these in another post) before I jumped head over heels into re-finishing these furniture pieces. So I finally relaxed enough that I fell asleep.

On to cleaning today. Flash back several months ago, I was helping one of my friends move out of her apartment and doing the final cleaning that was necessary. I was cleaning her sink with some cleaner and all of a sudden sink stains were disappearing! I was in shock, thinking only a bleach solution, like my mom had always used was the only way to get rid of stains. I asked what this cleaner was, and she said just the generic brand of Soft Soap. So I purchased the name brand of Soft Soap, and decided that if the generic brand could get rid of 80% of the stains, then the name brand should at least make up that extra 20%. Best cleaning decision I have ever made.

Not to be all dramatic…. But it was THE best cleaning decision ever. Period.

Okay maybe not in the history of the world, but for me at least it was (seriously). Let me show you some before, during, and after photos. And see if you’re as convinced as I am. (Please excuse my dirty sink.) I was unable to show the full effect of how gross my sink really was, because my camera would not pick it all up. But here is the before.

Here is half of the sink cleaned. Can you see the literal line of stains? I know I can.

And here is after! Totally different isn’t it, not only in the stains gone, but now it literally sparkles, taking off stains that were on there before we even moved in!

I used the Lemon cleanser. See I’m not overreacting the bottle even says The Ultimate Clean! I was so excited by this I wanted to share my success with you! What a perfect new cleaner for a new year!

Plums are Purple, and Snickers are Sweet,

From my family to yours…

and Happy Cleaning!

Fred Meyer Rewards

Being apart of store rewards programs has many benefits, and apparently even some that I wasn’t even aware of.

I knew about the discounts you get from using the card on in store purchases.

I knew about the Fuel Discounts. For every dollar you spend you get a fuel point, and when you accumulate 100 points you get a ten-cent discount from their gas stations.

What I vaguely knew about was the rewards points. For every dollar you spend you get a single point. What I didn’t realize was this!

They actually send you rebates back as rewards. So I received $15 or more just because I am a card member, and shop at their store! This is awesome!

 

Coupons

This is a post I have been planning for a long time, and it involves quite a few tips, ideas, and information and also a lot of referring you to other places. I am not all-knowing when it comes to coupons, and I certainly haven’t gotten the best deals in the history of couponing, but I have been able to save large amounts of money, using them.

Lets start off with some reasons to Coupon:

1. To save money, which is always a good thing, especially if you have a tighter budget.

2. To build up a stockpile of food and non-perishable items, without the large price tag so often connected with having food/good storage.

3. It is fun and exhilarating to see how much you can save!

The church that I attend teaches and strongly encourages having a food (and good) stockpile set aside.  One of my church leaders, Elder L. Tom Perry, admonishes, “One of the better ways to simplify our lives is to follow the counsel we have so often received to live within our income, stay out of debt, and save for a rainy day. We should practice and increase our habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality.”

How to Start Couponing:

1. Start collecting coupons.

Get a Sunday Newspaper, and for those who feel they have got the hang of coupons, or if you just want to dive in head first, you can order 5 Sunday Newspapers. Ask friends and neighbors if they get coupons, and if they would want to share them. I have a good friend who does get the 5 papers a week and after she takes the coupons she wants she shares them with our friend group and we each take any extras we might want.

Go online! There are so many coupons available online. Here are a couple of places that have printable coupons:

www.coupons.com

www.couponsuzy.com

www.redplum.com

www.smartsource.com

You should also choose to follow a coupon blog. They help you learn all the finer points of couponing, and they also let you know of different sales and possible freebies that are available. Here are some good ones:

http://dealsworthmentioning.blogspot.com/

http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/

http://freebies2deals.com/

http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/

2. Shop the sales at stores.

This takes a little bit more information. Along with the coupons, in the Sunday Papers, they have the store ads. When I get my paper, I separate out the store ads that I shop at, and the coupons for that week. First you need to know what you need at the store. Then I go through the coupons first, and take out the coupons that I will use. Now that is important! Don’t get coupons for things that you don’t normally use. Now, one thing with couponing is that the “experts” say that you need to leave behind all-brand loyalties when you start couponing. I myself don’t do that with everything, but most things, so that even though you might not use that brand, if you use that item, you can get that coupon. Now with items that you don’t use or need, for example, I don’t eat Pop-Tarts so I wouldn’t collect coupons for them. See the difference?

Then I look through the sales ads and see what sales the stores are having. Now this also requires some research, because you need to know if the sale you are deciding to buy or not, is in fact a good deal. This takes time however, so don’t expect to know this over night, there are still things that I don’t know if it’s the best deal.

Now 1) Obviously get what you need at the store, but 2) build up your stockpile, slowly. Don’t get everything at once and don’t spend a fortune doing it, but do get the good deals and take it one step at a time.

This might mean that you will have to go to more stores on your shopping trip but you will have more savings as well. When you first start out this may seem like a lot of work, but as you become accustomed to this you will find your own ways or streamlining it to work best for you and pay you back for all of your hard work.

This is the basics for couponing. Other websites, that I have previously outlined, give more details on how to build upon the skills I have outlined. If you have other questions, ideas that will help, or statements please feel free to leave them below.