Monday, February 28, 2011

The Most For Your Money At CVS

If you're not shopping at CVS you aren't getting the most for your money. I know I've mentioned before that I get all sorts of things free at CVS and Rite Aid but I wanted to share the best way to stretch your dollar at drugstores.

I've said before the best way to begin shopping at CVS is to start with free items and this is by far the best strategy whether you're beginning or have been at it for a while but I also think the best way to get a "big" deal is to start with a few small ones and then roll those ECB's into the "big" deal.

For example - this week you can get $10 ECB's (Extra Care Bucks) if you buy $30 worth of P&G products. This is already a great deal and the perfect time for me to stock up on paper towels and toilet paper - 2 things I desperately need right now but I'd rather stretch my dollar even further. I mean heck if I'm going to spend $25 anyway I might as well get the most that I can for it!

So, yesterday I went and purchased this:

I spent: $12.05
And saved: $14.67
And earned: $15.28 in ECB's

Today I went back to pick up:

I spent: $13.30
And saved: $39.01
And earned: $10 in ECB's

The best news? Most of the coupons for this weeks deals can be found in this past Sunday's P&G coupon insert. If you didn't pick up the paper this weekend it's highly likely that you still can. I know my Harris Teeter even had 2 papers together for sale at a discounted rate.

Focusing on one deal makes it easier to begin shopping at CVS. Using ECB's plus coupons and then rolling those ECB's to earn more gets you the most for your money. Ultimately I ended up spending the same $25 I would have spent (after coupons) to get the paper towels I needed but doing it this way I got SO much more for my money!

Need more help getting started at CVS? Check out this video from Jenny at Southern Savers by following this link HERE

I know it's the end of the month and I have gotten things done this month (not as much as I hoped) but I couldn't pass up on the CVS deal for boring end-of-the-month stuff :) Plus, I'll be working at my favorite consignment sale for the rest of the week. Looking forward to shopping for great stuff tomorrow!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: End of February

It's the end of the month so this is usually about the time I do my pantry challenge and try my very best to make meals out of what I already have. I usually end of having to buy a few ingredients here and there but for the most part I use what I have. Of course, if I had my act together and done a monthly meal plan I wouldn't have to worry so much but alas this month I did not. Oh well, I'm already working on March's plan in the hopes that next month will be better :)

Here's my plan for this month (and yes, I realize there's a LOT of Mexican but that's what I have!):

Monday: Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday: Chicken Taco Bake

Wednesday: White Bean Chicken Chili and Mac and Cheese for the kids - they won't eat the chili

Thursday: Easy Pasta Bake - I need some Italian in here! This is a simple recipe that I can throw together and almost always have all the ingredients

Friday: Chicken with noodles and vegetables - again, no real recipe just baking chicken breasts with some sides

Saturday: Leftovers - have a women's event at church so dad and the kids will have to eat what we have leftover :)

Sunday: Beef Tacos - a few weeks ago I picked up a number of taco kits for very cheap - this week seems like the perfect time to use them!!

Monday: Chicken 'n Dumplings (from the Rival Crock Pot Best Loved Recipe Book)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pricing for Consignment Sales

I know it may seem early in the year to be discussing pricing for consignment sales but one of the biggest in our area (and the one I work three times a year) starts up again in 2 weeks! You may have noticed my lack of organizational post yesterday and that's because I didn't get to it. Figures. Two weeks left to be ready for a huge sale and I'm behind.

Anyway, back to pricing.

At the beginning of the month I was asked to speak to my moms of multiples group on pricing for yard sales and as I was also asked to pass along a copy of the highlights of my speech to the club I figured why not share what I know here as well :) So, want it or not here it is.

What I consider before pricing my items for sales:

1. The condition of the item: how new is it? are there any stains? tears? how used does the item look?

- obviously the better the item looks the more you can price it for - old items that are broken should be thrown out - if they still have some use in them then a highly reduced price would be appropriate - if they look almost new and have only been gently used then buyers are willing to pay more especially if you still have the original packaging - something about that box draws people in. But remember clothes (and all other items) DO go out of style so you may not want to waste your time on items that are 10 years old or older unless that item still holds real value (but then you may want to consider selling elsewhere). If it's a toy - does it work? does it have new batteries? does it have all the pieces? The better the condition the higher the price!!

2. How much did you pay for it? did you buy it on the clearance rack? was it a gift? did you pay full price for a brand name outfit?

- the more you pay for an item the more you're going to want to get out of it - sometimes we get gifts and they are things we don't like so we're willing to price them lower to get rid of them but other times we've put money and effort into obtaining the right dress or the right outfit and we want back a good portion of what we put into it - to an extent we price items emotionally.

3. Can you sell it anywhere else? can you Craigslist it? eBay?
another sale?

- the more chances you have to sell an item the better chance you have to sell it - makes sense of course but no sale could reach everybody and it's quite possible that there is someone out there who is willing to pay you what you want for your item BUT this does mean your item may not sell as quickly. Getting a higher price requires patience and a little more work but it can be worth it. When pricing for a consignment sale for an item that you know will sell for more on Craigslist or eBay you can feel more comfortable pricing your item higher as you know you have a fallback plan if you take it home with you.

4. How badly do you want to get rid of the item?

- while you may have a fall back plan like Craigslist or eBay you may not want to go that route. Maybe you hate taking pictures and shipping or meeting people at your house to buy items so instead you just want the thing out of your house. This is the best reason to price an item below what it's worth. But be careful about going to low - there is a point where your time isn't worth the money. You may price 100 items for $0.50 and they may all sell but if you are making just 65% of that you've only made $32.50. May sound good but only if it took you two hours or less to sort, hang and tag all those items - 100 items in that time is doubtful (unless they are 100 of the same item and you are amazingly efficient).

5. Will I be utterly disappointed if this item comes home with me?

- this goes along with #3 and #4 - if I have a fall back plan I'm happy with then I don't mind if I bring the item back or if it's something may kids may still want to play with but I'm not sure then I may price the item higher to see if it sells - if it does I get the extra money - if not my kids get their toy back (believe me I've used this approach quite often). If I really want to get rid of an item then I am going to be very disappointed of something comes home with me - these are usually the biggest items - just because hauling them back and forth is a huge pain!!

6. What would I be willing to pay for the same item if I were to buy it? more? less?

- try to think without emotions about your stuff - no one is buying your memories they are only buying the item you are selling so think truthfully about what you would pay for it. Would you be willing to pay $30 for a Gymboree outfit just because it says Gymboree? Probably not and neither would most people (unless it's a VERY popular line but that would best left to eBay). Remember, just because it has a brand name doesn't mean it's new. Gymboree has been around a LONG time and anyone who knows the brand knows how new or old an outfit is - you're not fooling people so think realistically.

7. Do some research.

- what is it selling for on eBay? are people selling similar items on Craigslist? if so, what are they asking? Again, you may think your Gymboree outfit is cute but there may be very few people who agree with you so you'll need to price your item lower. Or maybe Craigslist is flooded with kids kitchens and you'll want to price that lower. OR it could be that everyone is clamoring for a Wii at any discount and they are willing to pay almost full price for a used one to save themselves a few dollars. It pays to find out from other sources.

8. Consider allowing your items to go for half price if you're unsure of what your item is worth.

- say you have a dress or an outfit that you think is worth $10 but you're not sure if everyone else would agree. You could give it a try and then allow it to go for half price (if your sale has a half price portion) and let the buyer decide. Someone may agree with you and pay your first price but if no one does at least you still have a chance at $5.00 - you've let the buyer decide the price. Another option when you're really unsure is to price the item a dollar or two higher than what you think it's worth and let it go for half price if the need arises. If it sells for more you win but if it goes for half price you haven't completely lost because you didn't start out at your lowest price. I do this a lot on smaller items or older outfits. Start out at $3 or $4 but I'm perfectly happy to get half of that just to have it gone!

9. Throw all this advice in the toilet and just go with your gut :)

- or follow a pricing guide. Once you start you'll get the hang of it and you'll consider all of the above without even consciously thinking. Don't make pricing harder than it is but if you want to get the most you possibly can do consider the above.

Other things to consider:

- can I make an outfit out of what I have? I'd much rather buy an outfit even if from 2 different brands than a separate top or bottom - this takes the thinking out of it for me and is SO much easier - outfits will sell faster - and a plus for you you can price it higher!

- make sure your items are clean - get a wipe and wipe it down - get the dust and dirt off - wash the outfit again so it smells and looks newer - no one wants to see your animals on their clothes or smell any cigarette (or other) smells - the nicer the better - CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION!!

- if you're trying to give your stuff away then just donate it - don't waste your item pricing too cheap - either group like items together and price them higher or donate it - don't frustrate yourself.

If it sounds like work it is. But so is your everyday job. For the most part very little comes free - if you want to make money you have to work and put in the effort - if you don't then give your stuff away and move on with your life. However, I do highly recommend consignment sales - without them clothing my kids for less would be impossible - so if you can please take the time and effort to sell a little bit of your stuff to benefit you but also to benefit the buyer because honestly I'd rather my money go to another mom who is trying to sell to benefit her children then a corporation.

Please note I think corporations do a lot of good for people but I'm also aware that some of them price their items quite high making those that shop there unable to find good deals - consignment sales are usually much cheaper so remember that the poor and needy shop them too!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Harris Teeter: Dollar Doubler

It's that time again! Harris Teeter is doubling coupons up to $1.99. I'm not sure why they haven't done triple coupons in ages but I guess I will take what I can get :) Dollar doubler will be going on from 2/16 to 2/22

There are a few good deals to be had though not as many as I had hoped for when I was matching my coupons using Southern Savers - a few of her deals aren't really deals at all.

Here's what I picked up tonight:

Total spent: $21.61
Total saved: $54.59

The cats seem to be the big winners this week with Cat Litter for $0.19 and dry cat food for less than $1.00 (combined with a great deal on wet food at Rite Aid and I am feeling more stocked up on cat items than ever before! Good for me since I have 2 cats and I absolutely hate paying for their items but bad for anyone else if they don't have cats...)

My best deals:

Purina Cat Chow
- regular price: $5.55 each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 2 $1.00 off from S 2/06
- final price: $0.78 each
(note: HT's policy is not to take 2 coupons on buy 1 get 1 free items but it seems when I purchase different flavors of an item they do allow it so I did not have a problem using 2 coupons for this deal)

Sargento Cheese
- regular price: $3.39
- sale price: $1.89
- used 4 $1.00/2 coupons from S 1/30
- final price: $0.89
(I believe these were on clearance because the sale did not apply to all the cheese - just a few selected ones)

Tidy Cat Litter
- regular price: $3.19/each
- sale price: none
- used 2 $1.50/1 coupons from R 1/30
- final price: $0.19/each

Ken's Salad Dressing
- regular price: $3.25
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used $1.00/2 coupon from S 1/9
- final price: $0.63/each

GM Cereal Bars
- regular price: $3.45/each
- sale price: 2/$4.00
- used 4 $0.50/1 coupons from S 1/30
- final price: $1.00/each
(since these are just $0.50 off coupons they double every day but I still liked the deal for my kids lunches)

There is also a General Mills promotion going on but it wasn't clear on the Southern Savers site so I wasn't able to do it today. I'm going to try tomorrow but who knows if the shelves will already be cleared out! I hope you give it a try and find yourself some good deals!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Organization 2011: Week Six

Although I didn't end up doing much organizing until this evening I still feel pretty good about my progress. I have been meaning to do the dining room buffet and I really need to get started on the kids toys and clothes before all the consignment sales next month but I seem to keep ending up in the kitchen!

Fortunately my kitchen cabinets need a ton of organizing :)

A few weeks ago I hosted a Pampered Chef party and got quite a good number of new kitchen utensils and pans free (a great way to stock your kitchen for cheap is to host a show - especially in January when you get extra things free :) My kitchen is full of great Pampered Chef tools that I have paid very little for and they are items I use every day!).

I started with a single cabinet:


After (it's dark I know but I did get rid of a number of glass pans that I haven't used in ages):

And ended up organizing all my drawers. Getting organized can be contagious :) I threw away a number of very old measuring cups and sorted all of my kitchen gadgets and utensils. While it wasn't what I intended to organize I'm very excited about the prospect of a cleaner and more organized kitchen!

Here's to hoping I get on an even better track next week :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Menu Planning and Catching Up

Wow, this past week has been a whirlwind. We had a great though busy time with my brother and his wife. We always enjoy having family around but of course it throws our normal routines off. Clearly my official organizing didn't happen though I did organize my sock basket :) May not sound like much and it's not really picture worthy but it helped me out a lot. I am looking forward to getting some "extra" organizing done this week though for the most part I have to get started on tagging for consignment sales. Hard to believe but they are coming up again.

I'm also getting back into menu planning though am so behind for the month having not yet planned out my entire month of meals. Oh how this puts me behind.

At least I have this week and I'll have to work on the rest for the coming week:

Monday: Weeknight Ravioli Bake (this is a recipe I found on Org Junkie's favorite dinners list - can't wait to try it!)

Tuesday: Parmesan Dijon Chicken with broccoli and potatoes (or rice - I have plenty of sides in the cupboard and freezer)

Wednesday: Mexican Chicken Lasagna - this is a fabulous Pampered Chef recipe that I will try and share this week because it's so worth sharing!

Thursday: Tater-Tot Casserole - not sure which one but this family favorite is up for the dinner rotation again!

Friday: Birthday party dinner for a friend's daughter

Saturday: Date night courtesy of the kid's school and Parent's Night Out - can't wait!

Just writing this out makes me feel a little more organized!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another Amazing Swagbucks Deal

Hopefully you didn't miss out on the Amazon deal last week but if you did don't fret there's another great deal going on Swagbucks now.

Head on over to Swagbucks:

Search & Win

And you will be able to pick up a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card for just $10!! PLUS you can earn 315 Swagbucks at the same time. If you are using your Swagbucks towards Amazon gift cards that's like another $3.15 in the bank. With all these deals my Amazon gift cards are adding up and I'm getting lots of free items. I have Valentine's covered for (almost) free due to the Amazon gift cards and the ones I had already earned.

With this deal I am looking forward to some "free" books for my nook :)