Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crazy Coupon Lady

This is who I have become, at least according to my children. I was introduced by a friend of mine into "extreme coupon-ing" a few months ago. Since we were trying to decrease our monthly expenses to save money for our new addition to the house I thought I would give it a try. What an eye opener! There are stores out there basically giving food away! It has become almost fun to grocery shop and see what kind of deals I can find.

Many people ask me "Can't I save more buying no-name brand stuff?" The answer to that is no. Off brand stuff is usually cheaper, but not that much cheaper. Let me give you a scenario. Kraft American Cheese slices are 2.49. The off brand is 1.99. At a certain store the Kraft goes on sale for 1.49. I have a $1.00 off coupon making them $.49. I bought several at this price today. I also got 8 oz Kraft grated cheese bags for $1.25 a piece- Kroger has a buy one get one free deal and I had a $1.00 off coupon. Today I saved $146! (I spent $112) We are lucky enough to live where most grocery store double coupons up to $.50 and triple up to $.35. This way of shopping is certainly more time consuming, because I have to match store ads up with my coupons and then make three separate trips to area grocery stores to get the deals at each specific store, but I am watching my food storage pantry fill up and I have sliced my grocery bill at least in half. I am beginning to learn what constitutes a "stock-up" price and buy a lot when the price is right. This week I bought BBQ sauce because they were on sale for 50 cents, and I had coupons for $2.00 off Country Time lemonade when I bought 2. The country time and kool aid canisters were on sale for $2, so it was free for every 2 bottles of BBQ sauce I bought, which were only a $1 total for both. 30 bottles of BBQ sauce and 15 canisters (8 quarts) of Country Time and Kool Aid for $17.50 is a good deal to me!

The other deals happen at the drugstores in our area, Walgreens and CVS. They offer deals that include "register rewareds" (coupons to spend on your next shopping order). For example: buy 2 Herbal Essences and receive $2.97 towards your next purchase. They are on sale 2 for $6. I have a coupon for $1.00 off 2, making it 2 for $5. I spend my $5 and they give me $2.97 back, basically making them 2 for $2. I then do a seperate transaction, purchasing 2 right guard deoderants. THey are on sale for $1.99, and they are giving $1.99 back in register rewards....and I have a buy one get one free coupon. I use my previous $2.97 reward, and my coupons to get 4 deoderants for $1.03 and they give me $3.98 to spend on my next order. Do you see the way this works?

Anyway, I have to keep myself reigned in, because it is easy to go overboard, printing multiple coupons from multiple computers and spending 20 hours a week planning shopping trips, like the people you see on the TV show "Extreme Couponing". But in a just a few hours, I find I can save my family a ton of money and have a little fun doing it. It's a win-win!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A month and a half late and a dollar short?

I had set a goal to post once a week this year, but seeing that it is the 14th of February, I am already quite behind. The old me would have felt the need to not post until I had 6 posts ready, one for each week that I am behind. They would all be filled with pictures depicting each event. But the new me knows me better than that. I am learning my limitations. I have so many that it has taken me nearly 40 years to learn them. But it is very liberating to let yourself have limits. I'm not saying I'm going to roll over and play dead for the rest of my life because of them, but I'm going to be a bit more reasonable about what I can and cannot do. For instance, a woman with 8 children, a dog, and my housekeeping skills should not sign up to host a birthday brunch on Monday morning if I want any hope of keeping the Sabbath Day work free. See, I'm learning.

Well, January was exciting. Busy. Purposeful. Let me recap.

My parents came to to visit us for a week. My kids love when they come to visit. To give you some idea of what kind of grandmother my mom is, when the kids opened up the XBox Kinect game system on Christmas morning, one of their comments was "Grandma is going to love this!" Emily also interviewed her grandmother for a report, and she had to list three characteristics of her. This is exactly what she wrote:

1) CRAZY! (she did the moonwalk in McDonald's)

2) Loving

3) Funny!

Yes, my mom keeps us laughing when she is here and this week was no exception. She also helped us all gain a few pounds by making the most delicious whole grain bread and " Monster" chocolate chip cookies. Grandpa has taken the kids for walks and given Makayla her new nickname: Sunshine. He has given each of my kids a nickname over the years: Autumn is Princess , Sean is Professor, Kyle is Squirt , Emily is Twerp, Rebekah is Dolly, Hunter is Mighty Ruler, Julia is Minnie (as in a mini-version of me!) and now Makayla will be known as Sunshine at Grandma and Grandpa Spears' house. Grandma and Grandpa were supposed to be here 9 days and ended up being here for 15 due to the crazy winter weather the South has been having. We had just gotten used to the idea of their moving in permanently when things finally melted and they had to leave!

January flew by, and we kept busy tearing our house up, clearing out and getting rid of stuff because I do not want to be on one of those hoarding shows. The house was okay in that we could clean it up for guests, but I felt like stuff was just oozing out of every drawer and every cupboard. And it was. I have cleaned out about 10 bags of trash and a half of a garage full of stuff to give away so far. It's crazy how much stuff a family of 10 can collect if we do not stay on top of it. We are the blessed recipients of many hand me downs, and they add up. I am grateful for what we have been given, but I need to constantly be aware of when we have too much and we need to pass it along to someone else to use. I don't want this much stuff. I want room in my home for love, kindness, empathy, friendship, fun, and learning. If there is too much STUFF, it seems to take the place of those things. It drains the life out of us keeping up with it all. So out if goes. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Drawers were organized, cupboards lined with shelf paper, closets redone. No more clothes in dressers- they are all on hangers except pj's, socks and undies. I love it. The funniest part of all this work has been watching Makayla, who is now 15 months, find such joy in destroying any semblance of order in anything. It is almost as though she loves chaos as much as I love order. But that is nothing a few cupboard latches can't control!

February has us all working on being more loving and kind to each other. I love when our kids get along. It is the best gift they can give me for any occasion. When they peacefully play together, all is right with the world. And I've also noticed that the cleaner our house is, the calmer things become. The calmer things become, the calmer I am. The calmer I am, the calmer everyone seems to be. I hate wielding that kind of power but that seems to be my lot in life to set the tone of the home. It's a blessing and a curse. A blessing when I am setting the right tone, but a curse when I am not at my best. So I"m trying to teach the kids the connection between doing their chores and mom's level of happiness. I think it might actually be sinking in. Let's hope it lasts.

Valentines Day was sweet for our little family. We got each child a little gift, and Mike surprised me with fun things like a spa gift certificate, homemade chocolates from a friend of ours and some pedicure stuff. He is a much better gift giver than I am. I cooked a nice dinner, but it was so crazy that day I didn't do much else. I am planning a nice date for Friday night, and I"m having his car washed while he is gone. I'm not much of a romantic- I asked for a detail clean of my van for Valentines.

This week Mike is in California. I miss him when he is gone. He is the stabilizing force in my crazy life. I am glad I have all these little friends in my house to keep my busy and make the days go by faster.

So that's my first blog post for the year. I'm hoping it's not a semi-annual thing like it has been in the past. I don't want to forget all these precious moments in our home. And the not so precious ones are good to look back and laugh at in a few years.....