Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Figuring Out Coupons

I'm determined to save money on groceries. I keep hearing stories about people who get $105.00 worth of groceries for twelve bucks - how do they do that?

I tried to have a coupon power moment the other day. Food Lion had Pepsi cubes for $5.99 and I had a coupon for $2 off of 2 cubes. So I take myself on over to Food Lion after work. That was mistake #1. NEVER go to the grocery store after work. It took me 3x as long as it should have. So after I park the car I go in and get a buggy and run into the gold fish crackers. Yummmm. (I pretty much eat like a five-year-old.) And they're buy one get one free. Into the buggy they go. Ok, where are the Pepsi cubes?

I never go to Food Lion so I'm having issues finding what I want - which is just one thing. So after I go through every aisle - including the SODA aisle, which is where you would expect it (right?) I found it in the frozen foods. Sure, that's logical. Only, after I get to looking, there are no Pepsi cubes. It's everything but Pepsi. Pepsi Max, Diet Dr. Pepper...I just want Pepsi. So no Pepsi. So to stick it to the man I put the goldfish away and went to customer service where I got a rain check. So after wasting 30 minutes I leave with nothing. There's one way to save money.

Anyway, the jury's still out on the coupon thing. I'm still researching it, but here's what I've found so far. There are a bunch of websites dedicated to helping you figure this out. I just haven't found one that works for me yet.

1. Couponmom.com. This is a great concept. Every week this website matches up coupons with sales at all of the grocery stores. It's ok, except you have to keep all of the coupons from every newspaper for weeks and weeks - it's kind of overwhelming. I got tired of keeping up with it. And it seemed the really really great deals were on stuff I never bought anyway. I did OK a couple of times - got Pop Tarts for $1.50-something one week. But it's free, so you may give it a try and find it works for you. Couldn't hurt.

2. E-Mealz.com. These ladies will send you a weekly menu with recipes all based on what's on sale for the week. They even make a list of what you need to buy and what aisle it's in. Very cool. I can see how it would save you time and money in the long run. It's $1.25/week and I think you would probably more than make up for that in savings, but bless their hearts, they don't have a lactose free menu. I took a look at their sample menues online and at least 2 meals a week have cheese or sour cream or milk in them. Not a good idea for me. But it might work for you. They also have gluten-free, family of 4, families of 2 and special holiday meal plans. When they come out with lactose free, I might give it a try.

3. Retailmenot.com. Here's a website that I actually got to work for me. Before you buy anything online, go to this site and search for the website you're about to make a purchase from. I saved about 10% for my boss when I had to order something from printplace.com. Hey, money saved for the boss is money in my pocket. Or not.

Greg: What are you doing?
Dharma: Wait a second, can you see me?
Greg: Yes
Dharma: Oh. I totally misunderstood the groom-can't-see-the-the-bride-in-her-wedding-dress-thing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pinching Pennies

Back by popular demand! Well, maybe not popular, but I've had 3 separate people say something to me about the blog in the past couple of weeks (you know who you are). Very sorry for dropping the ball. I've been moonlighting as a graphic designer trying to earn some extra cash to go on vacation this summer. So I'm not slacking...really.

Anyway. Are you getting stressed out? I personally freak out a little bit every time I drive past the gas station and see the prices inch up. It's gotten so bad that when I drive to work it's one price and when I come home it's five cents higher. This is a problem. Also, I get depressed when I go to the grocery store. Why is it so expensive to just live?

So I've come up with some ways to save pennies. Literally - a few cents here and there. You might think, what is the point? But I think it could add up. And it certainly couldn't hurt. And none of these things are difficult. And pennies count as money too. Although my mom told me a story today about how she would give my uncle p. $0.50 towards gas (back when you could fill 'er up for $5 - can you imagine?!), but he got mad once because she gave him a roll of 50 pennies. His response: "I want real money!".

So here goes. You may already know these tricks. You may already be doing them. But hopefully you'll pick up a new tip or two to save some change and stick it to the man behind all of these price increases.

1. Tear your dryer sheets in half (and/or use them twice).

2. Use 1 cup of chocolate chips in your chocolate chip cookies instead of 2. I've been doing this for about a year and nobody has noticed. Not even the hubby. And he notices everything. (And turns his nose up at everything. "What's different about this?" "Nothing, now shut up and eat it." Hmmm. That didn't sound very loving, did it? Oh well. Back to marriage seminar for me.)

3. Switch to generic. Don't skip this point yet. I know everyone has certain things that they REFUSE to go cheap on. No judgement here. I buy cheap toilet paper, but most people I know immediately go into "Oh, no. I'm not going to skimp on something that I use to..." Ok, I get it. I pay more for the "good" shampoo because I'm particular about my hair. Whatever. But there are things that are really no different, so you might as well buy generic. Such as...

  • Ketchup and mustard

  • Glass cleaner (yay for the Dollar Tree!)

  • Sandwich baggies, paper plates, napkins...

  • Lotion with a tan in it

  • Saltine crackers

  • House brand peanut butter and/or jelly

  • Tots, tater

  • Frozen corn

  • Santitas (vs. Tostitos)

  • Compatible toner cartridges for printers (That was the hubby's idea - and he came up with it while watching NASCAR. I'm so impressed.)

There's definitely more that could be added to this list. And you'll probably disagree with some of them, but you get the idea. Or, instead of switching to the bottom level generic, just try switching to a less expensive brand.

4. I like to consolidate. Now keep in mind this only works with bottles of the EXACT same product. Don't go mixing up chemicals. It can be dangerous. But when you have hair spray or glass cleaner or some other liquid that comes out in a squirt bottle, don't throw that last little bit away (you know the .25" or so at the bottom that you can hear sloshing around, but just won't come out). Start using the new bottle. When you've used a little from the new bottle, empty the contents of the almost empty bottle into the new bottle. Follow?

5. Use half as much dishwasher detergent.

6. If you work and typically go out to lunch on your lunch break, try bringing a book and staying in one day a week - just to save the gas.

Have fun rolling pennies :)

"Well, bust my buttons. Why didn't you say that in the first place? That's a horse of a different color! Come on in!" ~The Wizard of Oz

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Somebody Else's Blog

I feel bad that I haven't posted anything new in a while. I think it's because I haven't been to a yard sale in months and am going through withdrawals. It's causing a major lack of inspiration. But no worries, they'll slowing start popping up again next month. Yay! Can't wait.

Anyway, just so you don't think I've completely given up on money talk, here's somebody else's blog, that my good buddy (let's call her Stephanie) sent my way. It's fantastic! And funny. Enjoy!
Funny blog about justifying buying expensive things.

"Hey, man, if this is torture, chain me to the wall." ~Oliver and Company

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food is Expensive

What is the deal with groceries? Why is it so expensive to eat? I don't really have an answer and I don't have very many good ideas on how to save, beyond coupons. But side note - it irritates me, A LOT, when the grocery item you want is still crazy expensive even with the coupon. Or when the store brand is still cheaper than the coupon + the brand you want. Do they think we're that stupid? Maybe.

Anyway, I don't have the answer to saving money on groceries (without spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to find the best deals in town each week). But I do have two tiny tips.

1. The Dollar Tree (at least around here) carries bread. The GOOD bread. Yay! However, just be careful not to go in with the intention to buy bread and come out with $20.00 worth of stuff. Easy to do. Also, buying your bread here is a little bit of a pain. For instance, today I went to buy bread and there were two very long lines. And of course, I picked the wrong one. How is it that I always pick the wrong line? And the woman behind me was smacking on her chewing gum in an exorbitantly loud manner. Of course. But I save $2 every time I buy bread here. That adds up.

2. I've stopped buying bottled water. For the time being. I actually like to buy bottled water. It makes me more likely to drink it. But I can get it out of the faucet for free (relatively). The hubby has started to notice so I'm not sure how long I can get away with it, but for now I'm saving several buckaroos a month.

That's all I've got today. If I think of any more, I'll be sure to let you know. Can't wait 'til the good fruit is in season again!

"And cause I was a gazillionaire, and I liked doin' it so much, I cut that grass for free." ~Forrest Gump

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Timing is Everything

Have yourself a merry little Dec. 28...it's a pointless day. Well, not really. It just doesn't have the same excitement about it that this time last week had. But yet, there is still some magic - at least in the land of retail. Yes, I'm talking about the after Christmas sales. Yay!!

Everything last week was completely overpriced. And you paid it, didn't you? There's really not too many options when it's too close to Christmas to order online and you have the Dec. 25 deadline looming. Yeah, I did it too. Paid full retail for a book at Barnes and Noble - oh I HATE that. But, they had me. And they knew it.

This week, however, is a different story. There are sales out the wazoo. Perfect chance to use the giftcards and/or cash you got. Or to return the item you received to get what you really want. Not that that happened to me. I love all of my gifts. Equally. Really. ::wink::

Case in point. My little mom gave me $5.00 to get a Christmas ornament from Starbucks. "But little mom, what I really want is an actual beverage." "No, you need one of those for your tree, they're our drinks." Ok. So I waited. On purpose. Until today. They were on sale, as I kind of figured they would be and I paid $2.99 instead of $4.99 and have $2.00-ish (sales tax-yuck) to give back to her. I love outsmarting the system. Riiiight. If I'm so smart why do they get me with their $4 lattes on a weekly basis? Whatever. Moving on.

Bath & Body Works has their big sale this time of year, the Semi-Annual sale at V's Secret is in motion, and a lot of the clothing retailers are clearing out for spring. You may even want to try to think about gifts for next year - if you can stand it :) So take the gift card you got in your stocking and check out your favorite store. You may be able to stretch that gift card further than you would any other time of year. Have fun!

"I live in Notting Hill. You live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are, my mother has trouble remembering my name." ~Notting Hill

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spend Less at Christmas

It's freezing outside (literally) and I have Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers' "Once Upon a Christmas" playing ("I'll be home with bells on..."). So - I'm officially inspired to write a Christmas blog. It's crazy how much money you could spend on gifts and charities and decorations and Black Friday and Christmas cards and yummy treats (have you had the Christmas beverages at Starbucks? The Peppermint Mocha is a York Peppermint Pattie in a cup!) and the heat bill is going to be triple what it was last month, I'm sure. Anywho, don't stress. Here are some of my bestest tips.

1. Here's my favorite gift idea. If you've had a family event during the year - i.e., wedding, summer picnic, reunion, holiday, etc. - I hope you took your camera. Giving people pictures already in a frame is a GREAT gift. It has a lot of personality and costs $0.20 to print a 4"x 6" at Wal-Mart. And don't forget my tip about how to buy picture frames. Or you could go to TJMaxx - they have AMAZING (and pretty inexpensive) frames - I just recently discovered this. This year I went to my cousin's wedding and got a picture of my oldest cousin with my Granddaddy. They're both dressed up and laughing and they have no idea I was taking a picture. It's so cute. And it was very inexpensive.

"Christmas without you, white Christmas and I'm blue..."

2. Opt not to give gifts. There are some people this doesn't work with. But I bet you have 2 or 3 people you typically get presents for that would secretly be relieved if you decided not to exchange gifts. Last year I did this with my bestest buddy and we went to lunch instead. We probably talked for an hour and a half and I don't miss the present. It was so fun we're doing it again this year. And we're going to use a coupon from restaurant.com (read this if you're unfamiliar with how it works). Can't wait!

"You made this a Christmas to remember. Springtime feelings in the middle of December..."

3. Just say NO to Christmas cards. Does this make me a Scrooge? Maybe. I'm not a fan of Christmas cards. I think I may have sent them out the first year I was married, but just gave up after that. Now I know people with kiddos make those cute cards with their kids' pictures on it and those are cool. But you could elimate some expense by only sending them to family and/or people NOT on Facebook. That should at least cut your list in half. Stamps are $0.44 cents now. So 10 cards is dinner at Wendy's. Just putting it in perspective.

"Knowing you're in love with me is the greatest gift of all..."

4. For extended family I make my world famous and globally adored chocolate chip cookies. Each groups of parents/kids gets a Christmas plate (purchased from the Goodwill) full of freshly baked yummy-ness. Cover with saran wrap and top with a festive bow. Yay!

5. Christmas can be busy, fun, stressful, overwhelming, nostalgic, beautiful and over before you know it. I have a massive list of traditions I have to do every year - without them it just wouldn't be Christmas. But there is one tradition I value above all the others. The Christmas Eve service at church is subtly extraordinary. For just under an hour we'll sit in the candlelit sanctuary, hear the Christmas story, sing carols, and take communion. It's kind of hard to explain the specialness of it if you don't already know what I'm talking about. But in those few moments I slow down enough to consider the hugeness of what happened when God left heaven and came to earth because of his immeasurable love for me (and you by the way). So, as busy as you are, don't skip this part of the season. And if you've never done it, go to church this Christmas and don't leave until you figure out what the big deal is.

"I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love." ~ A Charlie Brown Christmas

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sunrises are Free

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I am thankful for the sunrise that God provides every day and a husband who never takes anything too seriously.

"This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys, nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And in a few years time, my Uncle Frank." ~Home Alone