Saturday, February 28, 2009

Month End Money Recap


Wow! Another month gone already. Soo hard to believe. How have you been with your budget this month? Made any changes?

- We have not put any money on the credit card - woo hoo! This is a big deal :)

- We canceled our cell phone plan and have switched to a pay-as-you-go plan - we have been paying $85 a month to have 2 cell phones - mine died three months ago at least - I say died what I mean is slobbered on so much it no longer works (hazards of three 2-year-olds) - so essentially we have been paying $85 a month for Kirk to use his phone for maybe 20 minutes a month. We have so many rollover minutes we could talk for a week straight and not run out! Obviously we were paying too much for what we had. So, big savings monthly for us.

- Got a few free books from my swapping - one being the Coupon Mom and the other on being a Cheapskate - I'll share my thoughts on those next month but it's been fun reading :)

- Learned something new about www.thecouponmom.com - you can search for the coupons you need. I know I'm a tad slow - there's a tab there that says "Grocery Coupon Database" - I know it's there but I've never thought about using it to search for coupons. But you can! I shopped at Safeway this past week - spent $50 - saved $60 - but I wanted to see if I had coupons for some of the things on sale so I started searching through all my coupons - took forever. Then I went to the Coupon Mom to the database and typed in Quaker Oatmeal (it was on sale) and up came a list of where I could find the coupons! It's magic :) I am definitely going to use it in the future for shopping at stores other then Harris Teeter.

What about you? Any budget changes this month? Any tips to share?

photo by borman818

Friday, February 27, 2009

Finding Freedom Friday



I have been reading a number of blogs on saving money and getting debt free since well, I really want to do both! And one I'm enjoying is Cents to Get Debt Free (the button above will take you to her blog). She has begun Finding Freedom Fridays and I figured I just had to participate!

She listed a few questions on her blog and I thought I'd answer them here though most of you already know how I save money on groceries since I talk about it all the time :)

Why have you cut your budget?
- because I'd like to keep more of my money rather then giving it to other people and I also want to get out of debt for good - want and necessity

How have you cut your grocery budget?
- I've always menu-planned since the day I got married almost 13 years ago but ever since my friend turned me on to the Grocery Game I have been much more committed to cutting coupons and saving money and having fun doing it!

What helps you stay on track?
- the fact that I really need to save the money; this blog - I would certainly fall off the wagon if I didn't record everything here; and the fact that it is a great feeling when you actually spend less then you saved!! A 50% savings on your grocery bill (or more) - who doesn't want that??!!

What are your tips?
- find the best method for you for clipping coupons - for me it's the Grocery Game because it saves me so much time and does all the work for me - I don't have to keep track of stores sales (she leaves me no reason for writing down the price of all the items I buy to watch their sales cycle) - she does it for me and with 7 people in our family you can imagine how little time I have!
- check out other stores ads - whenever I see a deal at another store (other then Harris Teeter or CVS) I make every effort to get there and check my coupons before I go
- organize your coupons - whether it's filing them all together by date or cutting them - whatever is easier for you just make sure you do it so you're not throwing free money away!
- stick to a weekly budget regardless of how many stores you go to - right now I'm at $125 but I'm working on reducing that to $100 a week - I have virtually cut out BJ's from my budget which saves me around $300 a month! I can't believe I once spent that!!
- menu plan before you go but stock up on sales

Want to get more coupons for yourself? Head over to eBay Selling Coach - she's giving away $500 of free coupons!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

And Now A Free Breakfast

This week is full of free meals - a free pancake dinner or lunch, free subs and now a free breakfast from Mimi's Cafe. A new one just opened up around the corner from me and I have heard nothing but wonderful reviews but have not had the money (or time - the place is seriously crowded - what economic downturn?!) to eat there. But now I have an excuse to go out - yea!


My good friend, Joanna e-mailed me to say that Mimi's is giving away a free breakfast if you sign up for their Cafe Fun Club. Of course I did! So head here and sign yourself up and you too can get a free breakfast!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trust The List

I did my weekly grocery shopping on Sunday evening. I had a cart full of groceries and I'm looking at it thinking "I have gone way over budget!" I had hoped to spend just $50 yet my car was overflowing with groceries - a few of them were, gasp, full price.

So, needless to say I was a little nervous when I got to the check out line - my cart was full, both in the basket and underneath so I knew I had spent to much. My original total was over $133! Yikes, way beyond my budget.



Then I handed over my VIC card and my total came down $57! After handing over my coupons my total was just $51.87! And that was exactly what I planned to spend :) I saved $85.61.

And that's when I realized just how well the list really works. There have been many times I have seen a coupon and considered using it but when I take it to the store I realize how little the coupon saves me.

For example: I have had a coupon for $1.00 off 2 packs of Ball Park hot dogs. The kids like hot dogs and they are really easy to serve for lunch or dinner but until this week the Grocery Game never suggested I use the coupon. The full price for the hot dogs is $2.99 so if I used my coupon on any other day I would have paid $4.98 for 2 packs but this week hot dogs were on sale buy 1 get 2 free! Wow, big savings. But I received an even bigger savings because I had my $1.00 off 2 coupon. Wait there's more - I actually had 3 $1.00 off 2 coupons so now I only paid $2.98 for 6 packs of hot dogs or just $0.50 a pack! If I had used my coupon at another time I would've missed out in this really great deal.

That's what the list does - Teri's program (founder of the Grocery Game) lets me know when the best time to buy an item is. Because sometimes a sale is just a sale and a triple coupon doesn't save you as much as double coupon plus a sale.

If you're on the fence about the Grocery Game I hope this is another reason and example to try it out :) And if you don't have a decent store to use it with be sure to really check the sales and coupons to be sure you're getting the best deal and save yourself some money! Every day my triplets are eating more and more and I'm realizing how much more food they can consume! Without help I would be spending twice what I do on my food bill.

Have a question? Feel free to comment but if you're having trouble commenting then please e-mail me: dorindanelson@comcast.net

Monday, February 23, 2009

Free Quizno Sub: Reader's Tip

What's better then free pancakes? Free pancakes AND free subs! Not at the same time really but who can pass up on 2 free meals?

When a reader e-mailed me because she was having trouble commenting (I think I fixed it but please let me know if you have trouble - I'd hate to miss out on a tip or a great deal!).



Go here for your free sub: Quizno's Million Sub Giveaway

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Free Pancakes? Of course I'll blog!

First, my sincerest apologies for being a bad blogger. I'm fairly certain that Dorinda will faint from shock when she sees that I've finally posted.

I have the very best intentions of posting more soon. In my defense, in the past month I've returned to work full time, been sick, had three sick kids and hired a live in nanny. Yes, life has been busy.

But, when I heard about free pancake day at IHOP, I couldn't resist sharing that with all of you.

On Tuesday, the 24th, IHOP is giving away free pancakes. You can click here for more details.

Now that we are a family of 6, free pancakes for dinner sounds like a lovely idea!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's On Ebay?

I came across this and thought it was too good to pass up! If you want to learn more about Ebay check this out.


I can share tips about selling kids clothes because that's what I sell and that's what I know. I buy and sell brand name Gap and Gymboree but I generally don't sell for profit or as a business. In other words, I don't buy new to re-sell to you at a higher price. I buy for my kids and then I sell it after we're done to make enough money to buy more for the upcoming season. But there are tons of other things to sell on Ebay and of course I can't know everything! Really? It's true :)

So if you want to learn everything you ever wanted to know about selling on Ebay check out: eBay Selling Coach and download her free ebook.

Be sure to check back here for tips on buying and selling kids/multiples clothes and leave me any tips you have - I love to hear!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Blogs



Today is Frugal Friday - isn't that great? I normally don't participate in all the day blogs but this one is too appropriate not to. It's sponsored by Biblical Womanhood and they have a great post today: Lower Your Grocery Bill Without Clipping Coupons. I know some of you have mentioned that you don't have a store that the Grocery Game works at so check out their tips on cutting your grocery bill without it :)

Other helpful blogging sites:

Frugally in Virginia: Seems to be a basic site that lays out the store and their coupons. She also lists lots of freebies and coupons for other stores.

Mommy Snacks: She has lots of information on how to play the Walgreens game

Deal Seaking Mom: Again lots of coupon information

See yesterday's post - there's just no way I can cover all these places and can only shop at so many stores so check out these other sites for even more information then I would ever have time to post here!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Store Or Ten?

How many stores a week do you shop?

Does it make more sense to shop every store and every sale or stick to one even though you might pay more?

I find this to be a tad frustrating and quite overwhelming. Within a few miles of me there are around 10 grocery stores including 2 Harris Teeter, 2 Giants, 2 Super Targets, Safeway, Bloom, Wegmans and Shopper Food Warehouse. To say I have options is an understatement.

The thing is I also have 5 kids! And 3 of them are the same age - there is NO way I can make it to every single store every single week. That would be insane even if I didn't go to the duplicate stores. The good news is that they are always competing with each other to lower prices. The bad news is this many stores is overwhelming and truly not money saving. Even using coupons I would surely drop a small fortune going to each store every week for their sales.

What do you do?

What works for me is to have one good store to shop while picking up a few sale items at other stores when it's convenient. Right now my main store is Harris Teeter. I love the people who work there - they are open 24 hours, they triple coupons and they keep sending me these nifty coupons for $20 off my $50 purchase so I keep going back.

But then I get these great ads from other stores and I am very tempted to head over to their store and pick up what is on special.

For example this week at BLOOM they are tripling coupons! Yea! They are also having an amazing buy one get one free sale.

Kellogg's cereal is on sale buy one get one free. In today's paper I received my RedPlum coupons - in it there is a $0.70 coupon off any box of Kellogg's cereal. At Bloom my coupon would triple to $2.10 - I can either get 2 boxes of free cereal or I can get 4 boxes at around $0.75 each. (Each box is reguarly around $3.59 each)

What a deal! Of course I'm going to go but I really can't hit every sale at every store. But if you do shop Bloom be sure to check them out starting Friday at 7 AM - great deals to be had this weekend.

What do you do? Every store or just one?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Raising Multiples


Is expensive! Large families aren't cheap either but when you have 3 at once you begin with a large family and have no chance to "grow into it" over time. Right now I pay between $60 and $75 a month for diapers and wipes. Cheap in comparison to the first year when I spent close to $400 on formula alone! Not to mention I went through at least twice what I do now in diapers.

But a lot of you know all that :) It's a big part of the reason I started this blog - to share how I'm saving money to feed and clothe my family.

Beyond food I have to clothe my girls (and my older 2) on a fairly regular basis. As you already know I like to dress them alike and buy nicer clothes when I can. Besides Ebay I have a found a great place to buy and sell my multiples clothes and products as well as some of my older kids clothes:

Raising Multiples

They provide a same-age triplets/quad group for you to join for support. The support and friendships made through that group have been wonderful for myself and Cherie (we're in the same group since our triplets are 3 days apart). But they offer more then just support. They also offer a triplets/quad flea market group which brings together moms of triplets or more of all ages so they have a chance to sell down their items.

You do have to be quick if you want something because it sells fast but it really is a great place to pick up matching clothes and often coordinated clothes if you have different sex multiples. I highly recommend it as a great money saver for multiples!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

$10 Dinners

Tonight I made a quick and cheap meal for the family. We had a meeting to go to and since we have decided against fast food (like we would usually do) and just ate out last week we were committed to staying in tonight. Enter the easiest meal ever! Okay, besides spaghetti but close :)

Chicken 'N Peppers Pasta Skillet from Kraft Halloween Cookbook



Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes plus standing

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped ($2.34)
1 green pepper, cut into thin strips (or chopped) ($1.49)
1 jar (14 ou) spaghetti sauce ($1.01)
2 cups (4 ou) rotini pasta cooked, drained ($1.00)
2 cup Kraft Italian Cheese, divided ($2.37)

Total: $8.21

Spray large skillet with no stick cooking spray. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes. Add green pepper; cook and stir until chicken is cooked through and green pepper is tender.

Stir in suace, rotini and 1 cup of the cheese. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese; cover. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tip: To minimize last-minute prep work cook the pasta ahead, rinse it in cold water and refrigerate it until ready to prepare.

Want more cheap dinners?

$5 Dinners is now hosting a Bargain Meal of the Week

The idea is that different people around the country will make meals solely on with the stuff on sale at the store that week. No coupons just what's on sale. As of now there's no Harris Teeter. I've sort of considered volunteering but I'm just not that good at coming up with my own meals!! But there are tons of other stores listed so check it out and see if yours is there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

CVS and The Grocery Game

I have heard that CVS is a great place to shop for lots of stuff, that if you play it right you can almost shop for free. Sounds great! Why haven't I done it? Frankly I was intimidated. I had no idea how to do it or how to start.

Because I am the kind of person that really needs things explained to me I decided to sign up at the Grocery Game for CVS. I have a feeling once I get the hang of it I can cancel that portion of my membership but for now I will take all the help I can get!

Today was my first "real" shopping day. Sure I'd been there before but for a few things (like the movie I mentioned last week) but I have never shopped there for food I actually need.

I changed that today and you know what? I think I'll keep going back!

Here's why:



This is what I got and I spent: $48.59
And saved: $43.21

BUT I also earned $11 Extra Care Bucks so next week when I go I'll spend even less and so on from here out. Not a bad idea. I think I like it as far as saving money goes :) And as you can see I bought mostly food and NOT just drug store items (though I did buy a few of those too). Jump in with me - you won't be sorry!

On a sidenote - here's a few giveaways for you to check out:

Kiddie Giveaway at The Deal Seaking Mom -
giving away a Learning Tower which is a place for the kiddos to stand and help you make dinner - I've always wanted one :)

And $5 Dinners has a giveaway for a $25 Wal-Mart gift card so go enter for that too - I hope someone I know wins (maybe me!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Grocery Game Organization

It's Sunday again which for me means grocery shopping. The Grocery Game is only updated on Sunday so for my store - Harris Teeter - it's only good for me on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday so I try to go on Sunday in the hopes that they won't be completely cleaned out! For other stores, such as Giant the Grocery Game is good for the entire week because their sales only change on Friday's. You'll have to know your own stores schedule to know your best day to shop.

Today I thought I'd talk about getting ready to go shopping and how I do it. Organization is the key. I may not be organized in the rest of my life (the triplets seem to undo everything I do) but in this one area I am organized to a tee.

I actually start thinking about my shopping on Wednesday because Wednesday is the day Harris Teeter puts out their new sales and the Coupon Mom updates her site at noon. So, I put the two together to see what my deals will be on Sunday. Mostly I look for the meat on sale to think about meals.

This week there wasn't much meat on sale so I went to the fridge/freezer to look around. Then I went to my computer and cookbooks to come up with meal ideas. This week's theme was all on the computer - some recipes that have been passed on from other moms :) I am NOT a monthly planner. I go for what sounds good a week at a time. God bless those of you more organized then me in this.

I write my list from my meals and then buy everything on sale around my list. Often by stockpiling there's very little I need to buy to make the meals I want.

This week's meal list:

Monday: Triple Decker Quesadilla (x2 - I have to bring a meal to a friend)
Tuesday: Chicken Skillet Pasta (didn't have it last week)
Wednesday: Velveeta Cheesy Beef Stroganoff
Thursday: Crock Pot Chicken with Black Beans and Cheese
Friday: Tator Tot Casserole
Saturday: Out with friends/date night (woo hoo!)

On Sunday I go to the Grocery Game and I go to my Harris Teeter list. I've snapped a picture of the print out I get:



I can't go in closer for copyright issues but this is what you will get - your columns include: Item Description; Original Price; Sale Price; Manuf. Coupon; Store Coupon; Final Price; Amt. Saved. You will get a list of pages and pages of stuff - highly unlikely that you need all of it - so you click on whatever you DON'T need - this will gray it out meaning it won't print. What is left is what you do want. Then I print it. Once I have it printed out I go to my organizer for my coupons:



It's just a pretty accordion file where I file all of my coupons by date so they are easy to find. The Grocery Game indicates by date where to find each coupon: RP is Redplum; S is Smartsource; PG is Proctor and Gamble.

For example this week:

Item Description: Jimmy Dean Frozen Breakfast Entrees
Original Price: $3.09
Sale Price: 3/$5.00
Manuf. Coupon: $1.00 (R 1/25)
Store Coupon: None
Final Price: $0.67
Amt. Saved: 78%

(This was one of my good deals today - can you tell? And I had the coupon times 4 so I stocked Kirk up on some breakfasts for the week - he's very excited!)

Here's a photo of my groceries from HT and Wegman's - I run there once a week to spend $10 and get some stuff free (they send me coupons, of course I go!) Oh, and I got 10% off at Wegman's - there were coupons in this week's flyer. Not pictures: 4 gallons of milk.



At Harris Teeter I spent: $49.24
And saved: $64.76

At Wegmans I spent: $14.78
And saved: $9.30

Yes, way under budget but I am going to CVS tomorrow for their deals - mostly cereal and snack food but I'll tell you tomorrow how I did.

On my needs list I had 12 items to allow me to make the meals stated above because of my current stockpile - it works! If you shop at a different store (since obviously HT isn't everywhere and apparantly Kroger is great but we don't have one) then let me know how you organize to shop where you are and how you save money even if it isn't with the grocery game :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sweetheart of a Deal



I hope you all had a wonderful and cheap Valentine's Day! We did :) Sticking to a strict budget of $15 for each Kirk and I we still had a great day. Kirk made me the paper flowers above - so sweet and made me breakfast in bed - strawberry crepes! So very much within the budget limit. And the paper flowers will last longer then the real ones - sweet!

But I did want to pass on a Valentine's deal for you. Just so you're not feeling left out.

If you haven't yet purchased your 2009 Entertainment book now is the time to do so! They are on sale for $19.50 down from $30 and the book will save you money all year. We went out to dinner on Thursday night and used a coupon to get a free meal - saved us $10 - I know not a ton but I'll take every little bit I can get. But if I do that twice I've paid for the book and saved in the process. There are also coupons for clothes and activities - if you don't already have one I highly recommend it. (And if you're wondering we do budget going out to eat once a month and this is our one time).

Order Entertainment book here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

How Frugal Are You?

Have you thought about it? I have and I think about it a lot. I find couponing fun but being frugal is really not in my nature - why do you think I'm trying to be frugal? To go against my nature!

Have you ever thought about the financial advice you would give someone starting out? The advice you would give yourself when you became an adult and/or got married?

This past summer DH and I were talking to my new sister-in-law. She married my brother last June - maybe 8 months ago and she was thinking about when to have kids. I gave her the one piece of advice I wished someone had given me! I told her to work and bank all her income while living on her husbands (my brother). Not only does that build up a huge savings but they can adjust to living on one income BEFORE the baby arrives.

If I could go back and do one thing over it would be to never use a credit card. EVER, for anything. So, then I get to thinking. I can't go back. I can do over what's already been done but one thing I can do is not continue to make the same mistakes because my even bigger fear is that 10 years from now I'll look back and wish I had taken the hard road then.

And this is what I remind myself every time I think about over spending, every time I wish I could pull out my charge card that if I go for the card I WILL pay for it later plus interest.

I've heard it said that you save one credit card and freeze it in a bucket so you really have to think about your purchase before you make it. This wouldn't help me when I forget my bank card and am in the grocery store with 5 kids just to buy milk (yes, it just happened to me) but I like the principle behind it. For me, rather then freezing my card I remind myself where I want to be. What are my goals? What is my debt keeping me from?

Every time I'm tempted to skip cooking and go out to eat or blow my budget this stops me cold. I don't want to be kicking myself down the road for what I could change now because I certainly wish I could change the person I was in the beginning.

What stops you from spending? Or maybe none of you have the same shopping tendencies I do! I'd love to hear your thoughts about how frugal you are and if you are on your own journey! It's kind of like dieting - once you start you really can't go back because you so easily undo everything you've already done. The plus about "turning frugal" is at least you still can eat the good stuff :) Well, only if you find it on sale...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Saving Money At Target


While I rarely shop at Target for grocery items because I can find them cheaper elsewhere there are some ways to make Target even cheaper then it already is.

I start by heading over to The Coupon Mom to see what she has on her list. Generally she will tell me what's on sale and where to find coupons in the paper to match with the sales.

But the really great thing about Target is that you can use the coupons they have on their website along with coupons from the paper.

For example this week on Target's coupon here they have a coupon for $1.00 off of 2 boxes of Kellogg's Poptarts. There is also a $1.00 off 2 boxes of poptarts in January 18th newspaper (redplum) - you can use both of them together and you will get $2.00 off instead of just $1.00.

Also, there is a coupon for $0.50 off V8 juice and there is a coupon from January 4th paper for $0.50 off saving you a total of $1.00.

I haven't seen a ton of deals at Target (they have about $10 worth of coupons up a week) but they can be found if you look for them and it's certainly a great deal when you can use two coupons on the same item. Yes, I've tried it and yes, it really works :)

Keep checking back - I'll be working on a button for the site that you can add to your own so please feel free to share with others the deals you find here and share with us any deals you know of - I love to hear!

photo by robholland

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

CVS Deal of the Week


Or at least I think so :) When I find a way to get a brand new kids DVD for just $4.99 I am ALL over it. Especially when that DVD is the brand new Madagascar Escape 2 Africa. Since the beginning of the year we have cut out a lot of family outings (at least the costly ones) and we have also cut out movie buying choosing instead to rent from Redbox for just $1 (man, I love Redbox). So, when I saw this ad I just had to go to CVS.

In order to get $15 off the price of the movie you need to spend $20 on any combination of the following P&G products:


Tide 2x $6.49 (limit 4)
Downy or Bounce $5.49 (limit 4)
Duracell Batteries $5.99 (limit 6)
Prilosec QTC $24.77 (limit 3)
Pampers Diapers $9.99 (limit 3)
Pantene Pro-V shampoo/conditioner 3/$9.99
Crest or Oral-B $3.96 (limit 4)
Charmin $9.99 (limit 3)
Bounty $6.99 (limit 3)
Always pads 2/$6.00 (limit 4)
Dawn dish soap $0.99 (limit 6)


There are coupons in this past Sunday's paper though using coupons means you have to buy more to get to the $20. I needed toilet paper so I bought 2 $9.99 packs - I had a coupon but that would have put me another $1 under the $20 - it's that pesky $0.99 that doesn't put you over the $20! So, I added the Dawn dish soap and spent $20.97 - not bad :) With my $5 care bucks from my previous diapers purchase I got the movie free! And I stocked up on toilet paper - win win :)

So, if you are in need of any of the above items why not run over to CVS and get a brand new DVD for the price of a rental. And with Valentine's Day coming up it's a cheap kid gift - I will be a cool mom this weekend!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Discounts and Freebies for Multiples

Since the whole idea of this blog is to help those of us who have multiples save money (and even for those who don't have multiples) I find it only fitting to share a great new blog by a fellow mom of muliples:

Freebies & Discounts for Moms of Multiples

She has an extensive list there on the companies that give well, discounts and freebies for multiples :) I know I got a few when my trio was born - mostly formula and diapers but Rachael has a list of many more places to go for freebies. Check it out even if you don't have multiples!

Along the same lines Multiples Bliss (the site I'm a contributor on) just posted a large list of freebie and discount places as well by Monica, my editor so check that out as well - it's quite a list here.

I will also list her blog under my money saving links so you can check back any time you'd like.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grocery Game Legistics

Since I've been asked a few questions about the Grocery Game I thought I'd clarify with a few thoughts:

1. You can find it by going here.

2. You can pay $1 to try it out for 4 weeks - I highly recommend this just so you can look around - this does NOT obligate you to pay for any further weeks and canceling is simple.

3. The cost after that is $10 for 8 weeks for the first store and $5 every 8 weeks for each additional store. You can also get referral credit for 12 free weeks by referring 3 people who sign up. Again with the free, I'm there!

4. She does not have every store out there - for some reason Safeway is rarely among the bunch (which is sad because this week I went to Safeway and saved a TON as they were/are having a $1 sale on things I frequently buy - paid $30 on a total of $78 worth of groceries including lots of chicken breasts) - Target is also not on her list nor is Wal-Mart but CVS is and that would be a huge help in playing the "CVS game".

5. The best way to save money is obviously to have a store that doubles and occasionally triples coupons whether or not you go to the Grocery Game to find the deals. Like I said I went to Safeway this week - Yogos and Kellogg's Fruit Snacks were on sale for $1.00 - I knew I had a coupon for those and I did: $1.00 off 2 so I bought 2 for $1.00 - HUGE savings.

6. The second-best way to save money is to have more then one copy of your coupons. For me this means subscribing to 2 papers but I have also found the same coupons in the free papers that keep showing up at my door so I often have 3 and 4 copies of the same coupon which is great when a good deal rolls around.

7. You do not need the Grocery Game to save money if you know how to do it on your own but it does save you time by matching up the coupons to the sales for you. I happened to know I had a Yogos coupon and then had to search through every coupon section I had to find it - she makes it easier by telling you exactly which date the coupon came in the mail.

8. You can try it out for yourself using Terri's method (from her stockpiling chapter excerpt):
Use three markers as you use your list:
- black: need
- blue: stockpile
- green: free

Generally her stockpile items are 50% off or more - her list does this for me so I don't have to do it but it certainly can be done on your own if you wish. The Coupon Mom helps with this as well though her list tends not to be nearly as extensive as the Grocery Game nor does she tell you what to stockpile but basically if it says "Charity" or is a savings over 50% then you know it's a good deal.

9. If you do it on your own I find it easier to cut out the coupons individually rather then leaving them in the paper they came in - more time upfront but less time later. With the Grocery Game you don't have to cut it out until you actually need it but this does require looking through a lot more coupon inserts especially when you have 3 copies of each.

This week Harris Teeter had triple coupons so I got a few extra-good deals but they did seem to have a tad less on sale because of it so I guess it evens out in the end.

Still I saved: $82.95

And spent: $80.67 so 50% off my bill - not bad.



Not pictured: 1 gallon of milk and 3 12 packs of Pepsi - the ham took up a lot of my money this week costing me $17.27 but it was a today only sale and was 50% off the original price - you can bet I'm going to use every last bit!

My best deal this week: Smithfield bacon - normally $4.99 each - this week at HT buy one get one free so down to $2.50 each - then I had a $0.55 coupon which tripled to $1.65 off so the bacon cost me $0.85 - I had 2 coupons so I got 2 packs. I also got free refried beans :)

Also, it may appear that I have stayed well under budget but I did spend $30 last week at Safeway and that's where I got my chicken and some kid snacks. I will also head to Wegman's this week for milk since it's cheaper and I get free stuff (namely eggs this week) for spending $10 or more.

My weekly menu:

Monday: Beef Noodle Bowl
Tuesday: Easy Cheesy BBQ Chicken
Wednesday: Harvest Ham Supper
Thursday: Cream Cheese Chicken with Broccoli
Friday: Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Saturday: Chicken N Peppers Pasta Skillet

Friday, February 6, 2009

What's On Ebay?

I know it's been a while but maybe you've had a chance to check out some things on Ebay and see if you have anything to sell. It certainly is a quick way to make some extra money or in my case make the money I need to pay for the girl's summer clothes.

I thought I'd share how I've been doing on Ebay.

Ebay does have it's ups and downs - it is an auction site so your item will sell for what someone else thinks it's worth regardless of what you think it's worth. Some sellers choose to list their clothes with a starting price of $0.99 due to very cheap insertion fees (what Ebay charges you to list an item on their site) but I generally start at $9.99 because even if the auction doesn't go up I've at least made $10 on the outfit.

The insertion fee for $9.99 is $0.35 so I can't justify lowering my price $9 to save maybe $0.15. This will have to be a personal choice if you choose to sell on Ebay. Some buyers only look for items beginning at $0.99 in the hopes of getting a great deal but since I've actually paid $0.99 for a few items I just can't see it. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough but not yet :)

Here are some samples of what I listed:

This set is from Gymboree - starting price $9.99 - selling price $9.99 - not thrilled about it but at least I don't have to split what I've made with someone else through a consignment sale.



This set is from Gap (one of my favorites) - starting price $9.99 - selling price after 11 bids - $29.99. I have 2 more listed now - both already have bids though the auctions don't end until Sunday - one has a single bid and the other has 4 bids and is up to $18.50.



This was the girl's Easter from last year from Gymboree - I had 4 of them because Kaitlyn had one too. If I remember right I paid $35 a dress. They sold for: $25, $26, $33 and $41 totaling $125 so ultimately I paid $15 for their Easter dresses last year.



I have sold 10 outfits for about $220 averging to $22 an outfit - dresses and outfits included together. Not too bad for my side job. It's certainly enough to buy the girls some summer clothes.

Try it out - let me know how you do. More tips to come...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Start Collecting Those Coupons!


Harris Teeter has triple coupons (manufacturers coupons up to 99 cents face value) February 5-8th!

You can use up to 20 coupons per day.

They also have some great BOGOF sales right now, so be sure to check if you have coupons for those items.

Click here for this week's specials.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

$10 Dinners

Another great and very cheap meal to share! This is one of my favorites that I've been making for a LONG time - even the kids love it.

Mini Meat Loaves

1 pound lean (90%) ground beef ($1.98 a pound)
1/2 cup quick or old-fashioned oats ($0.15)
3/4 cup chili sauce or ketchup, divided ($0.75)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion ($0.25)
1 egg ($0.10)
1 garlic clove, pressed ($0.50)
1 tsp oregano ($0.10)
1/2 tsp salt ($0.05)
1/8 tsp pepper ($0.05)

Total Cost: $3.93 - how's that for cheap??

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine ground beef, oats, 1/3 cup of the chili sauce (ketchup), onion, egg, pressed garlic, oregano, salt and black pepper; mix lightly but thoroughly. Using large scoop, divide mixture evenly into cups of muffin/cupcake pan. Bake 15 minutes.

2. Remove pan from oven. Spoon remaining chili sauce (ketchup) evenly over top of loaves (you can't have too much ketchup so usually I use more then stated). Return to oven; bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink in center and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove loaves from pan.

Here's what I add to make it great: mashed potatoes. I used real potatoes - bought 8 pounds for $3.47 - add butter and milk for about $4.15 total. Or you could buy potato flakes - they were on sale for $0.97.

I use a Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator (which is a fancy icing decorator) to pipe the potatoes onto the mini meat loaves. I also pipe fun faces on the kids plates and they love that! It is easier to pipe the "fake" potatoes because there aren't any lumps.

Add green beans (I got a bag free at Wegman's so no extra cost) and you have a well rounded meal on the cheap!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Diaper Dance

While I will agree with Dorinda that our local Costco/BJs/Sams club is a great place to find affordable diapers, I also love buying diapers from Diapers.com.

Their cost per diaper is very competitive. They also have a HUGE selection of brands and sizes. The best part is that they ship directly to your front door. If you spend $45 or more, shipping is free!

I usually receive my order within 24-48 hours of placing my order. I have never paid shipping.

They do accept manufacturer's coupons. Once you mail them in, they take about a week to credit your account.

I've also had great success using their referral system. If you use my "code":

CHSA9309

you will get $5 off your first order, and I will get a $1 credit on my account. I average a $5 credit/month based on my referrals. Every bit helps!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stockpiling

For some of you this is a pretty simple concept but for others it may be new. The idea of stockpiling is pretty self-explanatory - you stockpile food. Wow! Big concept. No, the bigger concept is shopping for what you need when it's on sale and not when you need it. This way you're never paying full price - for much - there are things you're just going to need and that's life.



Tonight I headed out to Harris Teeter to do my weekly shopping (last night was the Superbowl - I was watching the game). Popcorn was on sale. I didn't need popcorn but it was $.70 a box with the coupon and we eat popcorn a lot so I bought it.

Stockpiling food is like stockpiling cash - you buy as much as you can for as little as you can and keep it for when you need it.

According to Terri Gault founder of the Grocery Game you should aim for stockpiling a 10 to 12 week supply. You can read a chapter from Terri's new book on stockpiling here.

But I'll break down some basics namely the 5 rules of stockpiling:

1. You can stock pile just about everything except milk and produce.

2. You should stockpile at least three months worth.

3. You decide what you stockpile (not surprising - who else would?)

4. You will stockpile almost every week (a few holidays there isn't much on sale - Christmas was pretty low). I know some people only shop once a month and eat all month and this is another method but I find I am saving a lot going every week and agree that this is the better way to go.

5. Keep track of your inventory so you know when you're low :) How easy would this be if you won the Smart Shopper from my previous post?

Why stockpile?

1. Saves time - you have a stockpile so there's less running to the store.

2. You have lots of meal options because you have such a variety of food.

3. You have variety - when you buy what's on sale you buy a lot of different things - we have tons of different snacks these days that we've never had before - tonight I bought Uncrustables something that's normally too expensive and a waste but hey, with a great sale why not?

4. You and the kids have some of the newest food since the newest products go on sale to get people "hooked" to their new product.

5. You'll have more nights off from cooking if you use coupons to purchase ready-made meals - not a bad deal.

6. Save money!

That's a lot of inspiration! Need more:

Tonight I spent $61.82

But saved: $78.19

One secret to my savings this week: My ALL detergent is free - has been for about 2 years now. Two years ago we bought a high efficiency washer and dryer - not only are we saving money on water and washing larger loads which cuts down on my laundry (14 loads a month - I swear) - I am also getting my laundry detergent free. Basically they mailed me a coupon book for free detergent. I just pick up a few when I need it and I'm good for a while. I have actually stockpiled my free detergent that I'm good for another year or so. Each bottle does 30 loads - I do half that a month :) My high efficiency washer and dryer is paying off in so many ways!

Terri Gault's book Shop Smart, Save More can be purchased through Amazon.com for $10.39 (all info here is from her free chapter on Amazon).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Smart Shopper Giveaway



You know whenever I spot a giveaway I'm going to pass it along! Because free is better then anything. This time around it's for a Smart Shopper - which is really cool! Records your grocery lists and prints it out for you - now that is something we all could use. It even categorizes your items by area in the store. No forgetting stuff and making for easier trips at the grocery store. Check out more features here.

Where do you need to go for the giveaway?



Just head on over to this cool blog on organiziing and sign yourself up. I do think one of the keys to having your finances in order is to have your house in order. The more organized you are the easier it is to think about your money. I certainly wish I was more organized then I am and I am making an effort to be more organized but I am no expert on organization so if you want tips head over to Sandy's blog!