Dec 19, 2008

What snow? CVS calls!

That's spite of the Winter Storm Warning, I made sure we got to CVS before the snow started falling. Priorities, you know? :)

This was actually a banner trip - total savings of typo there. I had just under 20 bucks in ECBs from my Black Friday shopping and I finally made the best of CVS's policy to accept ALL manufacturer's coupons - which, I should add, they treat like STORE coupons....meaning you can still stack them with manufacturer coupons for MEGA savings! I wanted to post this tonight since the ECB deals run through tomorrow - so if you can venture out (and have a Walgreens circular handy), you can clean up too!

So here's how it played out:

Transaction #1
3 four-packs of Energizer Max AA batteries
Used Walgreens circular coupon - Energizer batteries for $2.99 each, limit 3
Used 3- $1 off Energizer coupons (11/9 SS and 12/14 SS)

Used $5.97 ECBs

Total OOP: $0.00
Total saved: $17.37

Transaction #2
2 Colgate Total Advanced
Used 2 $1.50 off Colgate Total printable

1 Pantene 25 oz 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner
used $2 off Pantene coupon (12/14 PG)

1 Kodak FunSaver camera
used Walgreens circular coupon Funsaver camera for $3.99

Used $7.99 ECBs

Total OOP: $3.12
Total saved: $20.79
Total ECBs earned: $6

Transaction #3
1 Complete Multipurpose contact solution
used $1 off Complete MPS coupon (10/26 RP)

Used $5.99 EBCs

Total OOP: $2.10
Total saved: $7.99
Total ECBs earned: $8.99

Total saved: $46.15
Total OOP: $5.22
ECBS for next time: $14.99

The Goodie Bag

Free sample of Colgate Total Advanced Whitening

Free 8X10 print from Snapfish when you use the code WALFREE and choose to pick up your print at Walgreens - GOOD ONLY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY DEC 19 and 20.

AND - Get another Free 8X10 from Walgreens when you order from Walgreens direct with the code FREEGIFT and choose to pay in store and pick up at a store. GOOD ONLY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY DEC 19 AND 20

(photo deals courtesy of Freebies 4 Mom)

Free sample of Kleenex Tissue with Lotion from Sam's Club

Free sample PLUS coupon for Aveeno Positively Ageless Lifting and Firming Cream

Free Christmas printable coloring pages

Winter healthy samples are here Click Here

Get a Neutrogena(R) or Dove(R) Facial Cleansing Cloth Sample. Click Here


Fruit Roll-ups

Dec 18, 2008

Last minute frugal gifts!

I got this one from Northern Cheapskate...and it's just in time for the holiday crunch!

You can download Living on a Dime's "Gifts in a Jar" eBook for FREE! I just downloaded it and not only is in chock full of dry mix jar recipes (cookies, soups, hot beverages, and sweet breads!) but it also contains great (and frugal) gift basket ideas!

This is a fantastic way to wrap up your Christmas gifting - mix jars make great teacher/coworker gifts, and are an easy way to put something special under the tree for your family. And because the materials are readily available at the grocery and discount store, shopping is a breeze. Get the kiddos involved'll keep them busy while you try to remember where you hid their presents ;)

Dec 17, 2008

Brick #3 - Set some Guidelines

I have to be honest - earlier this year if you had asked me how much I should expect things to cost at the market, my eyes would have glassed over and you probably would have seen smoke billowing from my ears. Sure, I could go back to my receipts and tell you how much I had paid for things....but that's not the same as knowing about what things SHOULD cost me. It's the difference between knowing the face value on a concert ticket and knowing what you paid the scalper :)

Last week I delved into the scary territory of creating a price book. If you found a few extra minutes and got something started, you have a great foundational brick for building awareness of what you should be paying for your grocery items. The one drawback of a price book in the early stages - it's totally reactive. You've already bought the item, and you can't change what you paid if it ends up being a higher price. The good news is, in the long run that price book will be ABSOLUTELY indispensible...but in the meantime, there are things you can do to make the process more proactive and head off spending more than you have to. It will also save you some time when you're scanning those circulars!

3. Set some basic guidelines and limitations for your shopping

Boundaries are a good thing! And in terms of grocery shopping, giving yourself good boundaries will set you up to spend smarter.

* Follow your price book, and figure out what a safe per-unit price is for your area.

I have firm boundaries regarding what I will spend on meat. In my area, I have found that if I am patient, I can get just about any meat for $2 a pound, $1 if it's bone-in chicken. These aren't everyday prices, but if I wait out the sales cycles, these prices come around somewhat regularly. Here's a few examples for you:
**Boneless chicken breasts $1.88/lb**Boneless pork tenderloin (bought in a 10 lb loin, had the store butcher cut into chops) $1.88/lb**Top round london broil $1.79/lb**Bottom round beef roast $2.12/lb (yes this is over $2 but for beef this was close enough!)**Italian sausage $1.99/lb **Ground turkey $1.50/lb **Bone-in split chicken breasts $0.99/lb **Chicken thighs or drumsticks $0.99/lb **Whole chicken $0.79/lb

Because I know what the lowest price is, I can very quickly scan the circulars when they come and not waste time reading every item. I shoot for produce at or close to $1 a pound, though with some items that's just not possible in my area. I won't buy a pre-packaged mix or side dish unless it's $0.50 a box (generally with coupons, but it happens a LOT!) And I won't pay more than $1 for any canned good. Having those "rule of thumb" boundaries saves me time, and when those prices hit I know to stock up! Which brings me to my next boundary:

* Know your eating habits, AND your storage capability.

In the first Brick, I talked a lot about examining your family's regular eating habits. Just as you want to be aware of what you use regularly, to help you shop smarter for the things you use a lot, you also want to be aware of what your regular menus look like - if you see a great sale on pork but your kids won't touch it with a 10 foot pole, it's not worth the plastic it's wrapped in. Dana at The Homesteading Housewife wrote a post about the 21 most common meals in her house - what a great idea! Jot down the things you make ALL the time and use that as a springboard to stock your pantry.

You also want to be keenly aware of what you have room for, and whether you are able to store things properly. Buying 20 pounds of meat is great until you have to fit it in the freezer. In the fridge, items shouldn't be packed in so tight you can barely get to the milk carton - air has to circulate to keep things cool. And if you can't remember whether the soup is in the pantry, the closet, under the beds, or in the doghouse...well you get the picture. Buying smart means buying within your means to pay AND your means to finally:

* Don't be enticed into stocking up when the sale is good, if it will NEVER get used.

My sister in law got carried away one week. She bought 40 yogurts for a ridiculously low price. The problem? She doesn't usually eat yogurt. Choked down every last one of them to justify her purchase, but was that necessary? Of course not - the thrill of the chase and the rush of buying things at a huge discount got the better of her.

I caught myself falling into the same trap - I'd see these crazy deals, and it would physically pain me to pass them up. But if I knew I could never use or find a use for something, what good is spending any money at all on it? I'm going to say this out loud, so brace yourself.

If you can't use it, share it, or donate it, it is OK to pass up a great deal.

Whew. I hope they don't come for me with pitchforks and torches.

Be realistic - certain things are always good for donation even if you don't need them (in fact, Coupon Mom lists charity-worthy items in with the "best deals" for your grocery store), but if you won't need it before your current stockpile runs out you can probably sit out this sale - it will come around again! We get into a hoarding mentality when a deal is really good, but giving in to that particular monster could lead you to have cabinets full of cake mix when your husband is diabetic (nobody I know...really.)

Next week, we're returning to the good ol' days before convenience foods ruled the world - get your frilly apron and your rolling pin ready!

Catch up on past installments of BRICKLAYING here, or under "Quick Links" in my sidebar!


That's right! Deal Seeking Mom has posted a Redbox code that's only good at Walgreens kiosks for today!

Simply find your nearest Walgreens Redbox kiosk, and for today only use the code 9WAG27 to get your free rental!

Code may only be used once per credit/debit card, and is good until midnight tonight. Movie must be returned by 9PM Thursday.

Happy viewing!

Dec 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Dec 15th

Making the list, checking it twice...realizing I forgot to buy for a few people. Happy Holidays!

Well this is the Week Before Christmas menu...not really different from other weeks except my stress level is a WEEEEE tiny bit higher :) I'm trying to keep it simple this week so that I can enjoy New Years from somewhere other than an institution...

Last week's menu went really well, the new Mac and Cheese recipe that we tried was AWESOME - super creamy and cheesy, and took almost no time to make. The addition of some salsa and the shredded Taco Chicken made for a yummy meal - and leftovers with a short shelf life. I have a TON of leftover Cabbage Roll Casserole, which will serve as work lunch and probably a leftovers dinner this week.

I am starting to look into breakfast recipes that fit into Once A Month Cooking - we do oatmeal or muffins just about every morning so a change would be nice, plus I think that would be a good entry point for me...starting with the new year I would like to have at least ONE dish per month that is cooked in bulk. For now, the freezer is full of muffins again and I'm in search of a pancake recipe that doesn't turn out rubbery after it's been thawed!

Here's what we're having this week, what's in your wallet, Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie to find out.

monday - Bee Rocks and Broccoli Cheese soup from the freezer ($3.76 for 4 servings)

tuesday - Green Giant Stirfry with added chicken and rice ($3.99 for 4 servings)

wednesday - Chipotle Ranch Drumsticks, broccoli, sweet potato ($5.28 for 4 servings)

thursday - Sausage and Penne Bake, homemade breadsticks ($7.69 for 8 servings)

friday - Homemade cheese pizza ($2.30 for 8 servings)

saturday - Dinner at the In-Laws

sunday - Leftover night!

Deals around the horn

Just a few coupon deals picked up from around the blogosphere...

Tia over at Tia's Savings Cents posted about a GREAT deal at Bath & Body Works: they have their VIP bag (filled with their best sellers and valued at over $100) on sale for $30 while supplies last. Combine it with this coupon for $10 off purchase of $30 or more to make it a super sweet deal! Thanks Tia!

Bath & Body Works also has a coupon for a free stuffed lambie with any in-store purchase (this one's only valid until today 12/14 so hurry!)

They are also still offering the coupon for free item with any $10 purchase up to a $13 value, this offer doesn't expire till 12/24. (Thanks to Coupon Cravings for that one!)

And one more BBW coupon - Get a free 2oz signature body lotion with any purchase!

Don't miss out on the P&G $120 coupon book - you need to buy $50 worth of P&G products between now and the end of the month, and send them your receipts in order to receive the booklet with LOTS of high value coupons. There's a big P&G circular in today's paper to help you along!

Carters has a $10 off purchase of $50 coupon, if you're needing to buy for the wee ones.

Macy's Friends and Family 20% off coupon is good until tomorrow, 12/15! (thanks to Tosha from Savings Makes Cents!)

Lane Bryant has a coupon for $25 off $75, $50 off $150, or $75 off $225

JC Penney Photo offers their Traditional Portrait Package for $8.99, good through 12/25 - orders placed by 12/21 will be ready for Christmas! We just got ours back and they look awesome.

Dec 13, 2008

Budget check

Went online to check the bank statement, and to get the month's grocery tally. When I realized that I could label my transactions at the online banking site, and then create reports - my little OCD brain had a happy meltdown. Tracking my spending this way is SOO much better than saving receipts. (Did I mention I have an allergy to math?)

Anyway, we decided to stick to using the debit card for all grocery purchases so that all of those transactions are logged online. I ran the report today, and as of this mid-way point in the month we have spent $137.19. If I want to keep to the $200 goal, that will leave me $62.81 to spend, or about $25 per week to spend between now and the 31st (the last week is a half week). Since we don't need a lot of extraneous stuff we *should* come pretty close! I have to make a decision on whether or not I'll pick up some chicken and chuck steak from the Shaw's sale, but I have to finish up the menu plan first and see what we really need to get by. If I can squeeze everything we really need into $10-$12, I can pick up two packages of split chicken and one chuck roast (which I would have the meat counter cube for me and do beef stew!). We shall see...

I *am* looking for a good pancake or waffle recipe that will freeze well...whenever I make them they always seem to get rubbery after freezing and I can't figure out if it's the recipe or the thawing that's doing it. Any suggestions are welcome!!

Dec 12, 2008

Shaw's Deals Week of 12/12

Since I don't see many Shaw's matchups on the blogs, I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring. Lately they have had the better sales compared to what I pay regularly at Price Rite. What I'll try to do is match up the sales with coupons and also include any non-coupon sale prices that fit into my pricing scheme.

This week's circular - 12/12 thru 12/18

Kelloggs Cereals (Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops or Rice Krispies)
Sale Price - 3/$8 ($2.66/box)
$3 off three coupon in store flyer AND
$1 off 1 box Kellogg printable
$1 off 1 circular coupon (RP 11/09)
Final price after store and mfr coupon - 3/$4, or 1.33/box - if you have multiple coupons, they will be 3/$2 or $0.66 per box!!!)

Colgate toothpaste or toothbrush
Sale Price - $1.99
use $0.99 off any 1 store flyer mfr's coupon
use $1 off any 1 circular coupon (12/7 SS)
Final Price - $1 or less

Barilla Pasta, select varieties
Sale Price: 10/$10
use $1/3 printable
Final price: $0.67/box

Betty Crocker Potatoes
Sale Price: 10/$10
use $1/2 circular coupon (11/6 and 12/7 SS)
use $0.40/1 printable
Final Price: $0.50/box or better!

Fresh Express Salad Blends
Sale Price - BOGO (Average price $2.50 each)
use $0.55/1 circular coupon (12/7 SS) AND
use $1/2 store printable
Final Price: $0.90/bag

Duracell Batteries
Sale Price: $5.95
use $1 off store printable AND
use $1.50 off circular coupon (11/16 RP) or
use $0.75 off circular coupon (11/30 PG)
Final Price: $3.45/pack

Shaw's Split Chicken Breast
Sale Price: $0.99/lb (usually in 3lb packages)
use $1 off any one package store printable

Boneless Chuck Steak
Sale Price: $1.99/lb (usually in 3lb packages)
I would bring this to the meat counter and have it ground up and/or cut into cubes for stew

Shaw's Shoulder Steak/London Broil
Sale Price: $1.99/lb

If this were a stock-up week, I would be buying 3 pounds of the London Broil, and 6 pounds each of the other meats. I would definitely buy multiples of the cereal, batteries, and the Barilla pasta (even without the coupon this is a stock-up price).

Thanks to Hot Coupon World for help tracking down the printables!

Dec 11, 2008

Why I love Target

OK, so I know there's been a lot of justified grumbling on the blogosphere lately surrounding the Target car seat fiasco. Poorly executed, poorly resolved as far as I'm concerned. But I'm not ready to write off Target just yet.

Last year we bought ourselves a new Sony Cybershot. Handy little camera, worked like a dream until this summer. Suddenly the "on" button would generate little more than a few blips on the screen and then shut back down, no matter how many new batteries we tried feeding it. Rather frustrating when the Boy Wonder is doing something SOOOOO CUTE that the moment MUST be captured.

It was still under the manufacturer's warranty, so I called Sony. The conversation went kind of like this:

Me: My camera is only 9 months old and refuses to turn on.
Them: Have you checked the batteries?
Me: Yes, I've put in 3 new sets of batteries, it still won't turn on.
Them: Are you sure you're using the right batteries?
Me: Oh right....probably shouldn't be attempting to shove those "D" cells in that tiny slot. (OK I didn't really say that, but jeez.)
Them: Well, let me give you an address, you will have to ship the camera to us, and we will attempt to repair it.
Me: Pardon you mean that I will have to pay to ship YOUR faulty camera to you?
Them: But we'll pay to send it back.
Me: But you want ME to pay to send it. Even though it's YOUR equipment that's failing.
Them: Well, yes.

Apparently Sony thinks nothing of allowing their customers to shell out more cash to resolve a problem with their faulty merchandise. I spoke to a manager, same song and dance. I reluctantly took the address and reference number, but the camera must have sensed my angst because it started working again before I could send it out.

Fast forward to last week. Same problem, and this time I tried FIVE sets of batteries, to no avail. Only now, Sony's warranty is expired, and the Target extended warranty we bought has kicked in. So I called Target's warranty number:

Me: I'm having a problem with my camera, it isn't powering up and I tried several sets of batteries.
Them: OK. Let me confirm your address...
Them: We will be sending you a box with a Return label - just pack up the camera and drop it off at your nearest FEDEX. We will take care of the problem and send it back to you. If it can't be fixed, we will send you a new one at no charge.

FOUR DAYS LATER, there was the promised box, with the promised shipping label, and instructions on what to do. We dropped it off today, so it's on its merry way to the Target fix-it people. Totally worth the extra $20 we paid for the extended warranty. I would have spent that just to ship to Sony in East Japippy, California.

So Target, while you may have screwed the pooch with the car seats, I forgive you. Because the customer service I got was far better than anything I had expected, and you followed through.

Just do yourselves a favor - hire a better copyeditor.

Dec 10, 2008

Brick #2 - Do your Homework!

Ever find yourself watching Jeopardy and you get the right answer to a question with no idea how you knew? If you lived with my husband (AKA the Bottomless Pit of Useless Knowledge), you'd know :) But seriously - we have no idea how much information is actually stored in our heads until we need that little nugget of wisdom that was buried under memories of "Gilmore Girls" before it got boring.

My friend Melissa thinks I'm some kind of magician because I appear to have ESP when it comes to knowing where the best prices are and knowing what to look for. Little does she know that my "superpower" is really just the result of diligence on my part! Which brings me to this week's brick:

2. Keep a Price Book - and do your homework!

Last week you came away with your "essentials" list - those 20-odd items that your family uses with absolute regularity every week, and the foods in your diet that are indispensible. If you saved any of your shopping receipts over the last few months, you've already got the makings of a price book on the things you use most! A good price book includes the following basic information:

1. Item (you want to use specifics here - prices do vary brand-to-brand for the same item!)
2. Cost (use the cost including store discounts but NOT cost after coupons)
3. Package size
4. Unit Cost (this is VERY important info!)
5. Store you bought from
6. Date of purchase (helps track sales cycles)

There are lots of ways to set up a price book - in a looseleaf notebook, Excel spreadsheet, 3-ring binder, even a small memo pad. The internet is full of resources to help get you started - check out this printable form, or this downloadable spreadsheet version. This article from the Dollar Stretcher on setting one up has good suggestions, and Organized Home has some good templates to print for a binder. Once you figure out what will work for you, get ready for a little elbow grease!

Fill in as much as you can from the receipts you have on hand. I suggest starting only with your most essential items because otherwise the task can be incredibly overwhelming - once you have the info from the store you USUALLY shop at, you need to make a little time and expand your reading all of the circulars, even visiting other stores on fact-finding missions! When I started out, I knew that Price Rite had the most consistent low pricing of all of my local stores. So I let the hubby watch the baby for an hour, and I went to the store - I didn't buy anything, but I made notes on prices and package sizes for everything I used regularly. This became the gold standard by which all other stores' sales were measured. Over the subsequent weeks I'd watch the circulars and visit other stores...adding comparison info to my notes, until I had a great reference tool built up!

What you want to do is build a list of the lowest pricing that a particular store offers. I keep my book in a spreadsheet so I can change it easily - but if you decide to handwrite, use a pencil so that you can adjust along the way without having to rewrite everything. If in checking your circulars you find that an item on your list is going for a lower sale price than the last time you bought it (or noted the price), change your price book and note the date of the sale. If the price has been high for a while and goes back down to your lowest marked price, change the date. You'll be comparison shopping AND tracking sales cycles for your particular stores. After a while, you'll catch on to trends - maybe your market lowers the price on chicken breasts every 6 weeks...maybe only around the holidays. What you will know for SURE is when you are getting your items at their BEST price (which is a good time to use coupons for even MORE savings!) and when to stock up!

But why is unit pricing so important? As someone with a chronic allergy to math I was hesitant to do that much work. But it has definitely paid off - sometimes by breaking things down to the unit price, I find that smaller packaging is actually cheaper than bulk packaging. Figuring out the unit price points me to the truly good deals, instead of a "deal" masked in smaller sizes. A perfect example was my last diaper purchase. I usually buy BJ's brand diapers because they are cheaper per diaper than most of the rest - $0.16 per diaper for the Boy Wonder's size 4's, and the box of 152 gets me through a couple of weeks. This time, I happened to have a coupon for Luvs diapers, and I did the math just to see if it'd be worthwhile - with the coupon, the Luvs hit that $0.16 per diaper AND they came in a box of 180 - so I paid the same low unit price as the store brand, got a brand name, and a bigger box that will last me longer!

Getting started on a price book is a lot of work, but it'll become more valuable than your wallet after a while! And the more you read the circulars, note the sales, and get familiar with more than one store, you'll find that the process becomes second nature. You'll have an "instinct" for when to hit particular stores. And you'll get your own version of grocery ESP, simply because you paid attention and did your homework along the way!

Next week, I'll talk a bit about setting good guidelines, which will make scanning the circulars go even faster!

Dec 9, 2008

A new addiction..'s probably a good thing that I didn't try out the digital scrapbooking thing before. I don't think I'd have ever been able to start this blog, I'd be too busy with my nose buried in Photoshop! I can at least justify time spent right now because I'm going to try printing my own photo cards. I have a Canon printer, and the Canon website currently has packs of 50 All Occasion Photo cards for $7.50, including envelopes. That works out to $0.14 per card for the paper, and I figure after ink they will still be below 25 cents per card.

So here's what I've been doing with all my free time (har dee har har).



You think there's a 12-step program for people like me?

Dec 8, 2008 sale has slashed their prices again! Between now and Thursday you can get GCs at 70% off! These make great gifts or stocking stuffers. Just enter the code "ONLINE" at checkout for huge savings between now and Thursday Dec 11th.

How it works:
-You search by zip code for participating restaurants (if you don't find many in your area expand your search a little - we only have a few closeby but if we're willing to drive a half an hour there are a TON more).
-Be sure to check out any restrictions the restaurant has put on the use of the gift certificates (minimum meal purchase, time of day when it can be used, etc)
-Click to purchase - you can change the quantity (up to 4 per restaurant per transaction) at checkout.
-You will get a confirmation emailed to you - that will contain a link to your account, where you can find the links to print your gift certificates! I use light cardstock to print mine out for a nicer feel.

Dec 7, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Dec 8th

My gosh, it's almost only 2 weeks till Christmas. We're mostly done with shopping/giftmaking, but just knowing it's that close is still giving me knots in my stomach!

Last week's menu - WOW did we hit big with the new recipes! The Chicken and Dumplings never even made it to leftovers. And the sweet potato biscuits were so good they're back again this week! The superstar of the week: Autumn was SO easy and SO delicious, and when I brought it to work for lunch I had to print out 10 copies of the recipe.

I MUST MUST MUST do baking this week. I finally got to the last of the muffins in the freezer, so this week I will make a few batches, some with pumpkin pie filling and some with mashed sweet potato. I was hoping to get away with no additional food shopping for the week, but realized we are almost out of cheddar cheese (a tragedy of epic proportions in my house), plus I need lettuce and cabbage for the recipes. Still, that will only be another $7.99 on top of the $15.46 we've already spent, making this week's grocery bill a whopping $23.45. I'm ok with that, since the cheese will last a while, the lettuce will pad out the menus this week, and I can use the cabbage to make another batch of Bee Rocks for the freezer. If I can spend $30 or less for the next 3 weeks I'll hit my $200 goal! Woot!

Enough blabber. On to the menus. (and don't forget to stop in on Laura at to see what others are cooking!)

monday - Chicken and rice burritos with lettuce, using this taco chicken and leg quarters ($1.82 for 4 servings! - the leg quarters were only $0.49/lb)

tuesday - Herbed pork tenderloin chops, veggie, lettuce salad, sweet potato biscuits ($4.04 for 4 servings)

wednesday - Leftover night! (FREE!)

thursday - Chicken Mexi Mac - use this mac & cheese recipe, add leftover taco chicken and a can of diced tomato, drained ($5.26 for 6-8 servings)

friday - Homemade Pizza, lettuce salad ($3.02 for 8 servings)

saturday - Cabbage Roll Casserole, leftover biscuits ($4.28 for 6-8 servings)

sunday - dinner at the in law's

Short shopping week!

Well we finally had to pick up a few things yesterday...or rather, hubby and the Boy Wonder took an excursion while mommy was at work...BW's favorite thing right now is "ride car...ride CAR....RIDE CAR!!!" Which is funny because his car seat may as well be the Iron Maiden, the way he flails and screams when we strap him in.

Anyway, after last week's shopping I am pretty well set up between the freezer and pantry, so here's what we need for the week:

Milk: $2.79
Eggs: $1.49
Yogurt: $1.99 (But then my crockpotting hero figured out how to make her own! Bye Bye Yoplait!)
Bread: $0.75
Bananas: $2.86 (big bunch)
Waffles: $1.50 (Looking for a good homemade recipe that freezes well...)
Carrots: $2.29
Butter spread: $1.79

Grand total: $15.46!

I have plenty of frozen veggies, potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots to last a while, so I'm going to be planning our menus with as little to buy as possible. I need to get off my bum and do some more baking, too - I have mashed sweet potato and cans of pumpkin to make muffins with, but I've been totally beat at the end of the day....that may be a sign of something, but I'll save that for later ;)

I also decided to give the whole digital scrapbooking thing a try, in hopes of making our own photo christmas cards this year...Photoshop scares me (we have V7.0 not elements, so it's not as user friendly at first) and I had a hard time getting comfortable. But I found a REALLY basic tutorial over at The Shabby Shoppe that took me step-by-step through a simple was enough to finally make the program comprehensible for me, so I toodled around last night and came up with this:


Those aren't the pictures I'll be using for the final cards, just a few that were near the top of the folders to play around with. Not bad for a first try!

Dec 5, 2008

The Goodie Bag

Some freebies, discounts, and fun stuff to kick start your weekend! Printable coupon roundup can be found toward the end of this post.


Get the 2009 Entertainment Book and receive $5 off PLUS free shipping! (we give these as christmas gifts!)

Free Pillsbury recipe booklet and a Free $10 coupon book from Pillsbury as well

While you're at it, get the Betty Crocker recipe booklet and $10 Coupon booklet too!

Free REDBOX rentals! Deal Seeking Mom has posted FIVE redbox freebie codes that can be used every Sunday between now and the end of the year - Check out her post HERE and be sure to sign up for her feed so you get her reminder posts every week!


Get $1.00 off Rayovac batteries (courtesy of The Freebie Blogger)

Progresso soup - Get $1 off 2 and $2 off 4 HERE

At Bath & Body Works - FREE ITEM (up to a $13 value) with any purchase of $10 or more...good in stores only.

Another BBW freebie: Free Lip Product up to $12 in value with ANY purchase! (thanks to Coupon Cravings!)

Dec 4, 2008

Another Shaw's Haul

I posted last week about the Shaw's meat sale and P&G Promo...I thought I would share what I actually brought home from the trip! I probably went a little overboard, but we are so well stocked right now I won't have more than $15 shopping trips for the next few weeks.

My main goal was to maximize the P&G sale (buy $20 in products - PRE COUPON COST - get a $5 catalina off your next transaction PLUS 5 free Redbox rentals) and stock up on meat. Anything with a * in front of it was bought with a coupon (to save space - I had a pretty full cart!) and anything with a ** in front of it was bought with a coupon that doubled!

I now have enough meat in the freezer for over two months of dinners, basic toiletries for at least 9 months, and plenty in the dry storage to get us by for a good long while. I look forward to some super cheap shopping trips between now and spring! :)

Transaction #1
*2 Folgers 28oz coffee, *2 Dunkin Donuts 2 lb coffee
Total spent: $20.96
Total saved: $16.56 ($13.56 store discount, $3.00 P&G Coupons)
Got $5 catalina plus 5 redbox rental coupon

Transaction #2
*2 Folgers 28oz coffee, *2 Dunkin donuts 2lb coffee
Total spent: $15.21
Total saved: $21.56 ($13.56 store discount, $3.00 P&G coupons, $5 catalina)
Got $5 catalina plus 5 redbox rental coupon

Transaction #3
*2 Secret Deodorant, *4 Oral B Indicator toothbrushes, *6 bottles Herbal Essence shampoo & conditioner
Total spent: $9.87
Total saved: $31.85 ($17.85 store discount, $9.00 P&G coupons, $5 catalina)
Got $5 catalina plus 5 redbox rental coupon

Transaction #4
@ 20 lbs chicken leg quarters, @ 10 lbs ground beef, @ 3 lbs sweet Italian sausages, *3 Kellogg cereals, **6 Near East couscous, **3 Red Baron frozen Panini, **1 Bar S hot dogs, **1 Ajax dish soap, 4 flavored creamers
Total spent: $47.83
Total saved: $83.20 ($66.80 store savings, $11.40 coupons, $5 catalina)

Grand Total Spent: 93.86
Grand Total Saved: 168.17 (includes $15 in free movie rentals!)
PERCENT SAVED: 64% overall

*this is actually the second best percentage I've gotten out of this supermarket! I still haven't beaten my 71% trip but I'm working on it!

Top Droppers - November

Just a quick shout out to my top Entrecard droppers for November - this was all in the midst of my old blog being disabled and starting fresh with the new site, so I really appreciate that you all came back to visit so often!

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Dec 3, 2008

Brick #1 - Start with what you know

Welcome to the first installment of Bricklaying! I've had a lot of people asking me how I'm managing to keep my budget so low. Especially in Massachusetts, the grocery costs are awful and most people I know are lucky if they spend less than $200 in a week. I hardly consider myself an expert, but I have definitely laid the foundation for good habits, and I do follow pretty basic guidelines when I'm shopping. I thought it would be helpful to share those bricks and help you build your own budgeting safehouse!

So let's start with an easy exercise:

1. Sit down and make a list of your family's must-haves.

Every family has different tastes. Some like spicy. Some like savory. Some are vegetarians, and some are meat-atarians :) Many people are dealing with dietary restrictions, either self-imposed or because of a medical issue. Take a little time and make a list of absolute necessities for your pantry - be realistic (while beef may be on the "needs" list, sirloin is not) and be aware of what you use on a very regular basis.

Here are a few starter questions for you:

* What are the top 10 items you use EVERY week? Stay pretty general - brand loyalty is great for the big companies but flexibility with brands can be a huge expense-cutter
* What proteins are absolute staples in your diet?
* What convenience foods are you buying on a regular basis?
* What do you buy outside the home regularly that could be replaced by something from home? - think about trips to the coffee shop, regular lunches or dinners out, snacks from the convenience store...all those little expenditures add up fast!
* What are you buying pre-made that you could make at home? - Check the list at the end of this posting for some great links that may help you in this area!

The list you end up with should be about 20-25 items (don't include spices and seasonings, just basic foodstuffs). These are the items that should be targets for stocking up when they go on sale. (When I started really pushing the grocery budget, I was totally overwhelmed by trying to hit EVERY sale and EVERY coupon, and it was easy to buy lots of stuff that I had to force myself to use.) Putting to paper the things that are your family's "essentials" will give you a starting point toward smart stockpiling.

Next week, be ready for a little homework. Start looking for all of those grocery receipts!

Some helpful links:

Make your own Lunchables

Options for healthy snacks

Make your own baby food

10 Expenses that add up fast

10 Painless Ways to Save $100

Dec 2, 2008


Starting tomorrow, I will be reposting my "Bricklaying" series every Wednesday - I was able to recover all but the last one from the old blog, along with a few earlier posts that would definitely fall into the same category.

For those who are new to my blog, "Bricklaying" is a short series on what I have incorporated as foundational ideas toward improving and managing my grocery budget. I've had a lot of people both online and in person ask me how I do what I do every week that makes my budget goal possible, especially in the area where I live - it forced me to really organize my thought process, and I hope that it might help others achieve what I'm aiming for! It's easy to talk about coupon clipping and sale-hunting, but there is a whole mentality shift that has to happen for everything to come together. Call it the method to my madness, I call it building a solid wall to hide my goodies behind :)

As always, if there are topics you would like to see included, just drop me a line or leave a comment!

Dec 1, 2008

Baby smoochies

What's sweet like my boy's baby kisses? Bloggy love from a little cutie like Xander....ok, well it was really from his mom Keely (also of The Un-Mom fame). But it still rocks! And he is a cutie :)


No funky requirements, just passing on the bling! And since there aren't any limits to who I can share the love with...I'm passing this on to everyone who is following me or subscribed to my feed....hey, if you're willing to read my meanderings on a regular basis, you deserve an award or four! :)