Sunday, December 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



Monday: Husband on his own, Girls Christmas Party: bringing Mini Pigs in a Blanket, half a raspberry cheesecake leftover from Christmas, Hanky Pankies, and a couple packs of Oreos.

Tuesday: Spaghetti (was free), made with $0.24 jar of sauce, and garlic bread (was $1 a loaf, using half). Feed three people for $0.74!

Wednesday: SIL in town, making Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Cottage Fries, Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts

Thursday: dinner date out!

Friday: French Toast using Homemade Bread and Fruit for Breakfast

lunch is hunt and peck

Dinner is Marinated Roasted Veggie Sandwiches, homemade rosemary focaccia, Cheesy Potatoes, Gingerbread

Saturday:
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast, OJ

lunch is BLTs, salad, fruit

dinner is Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup, Beer Bread, corn on the cob, Apple Crisp (using new Pampered Chef apple peeler)

Sunday: brunch at local restaurant

Hundreds more menu plans this week over here!

Weekly Match-ups

At CVS, FREE Tone body wash, Pantene for $0.84, Gillette Fusion Razor for $1.99, Always Pads $1, four Vitamin Waters and two Honest Teas for $0.16 each, Pampers for $6.49, Tide for $3.97, Metamucil for $3.99, Thermacare products for $1.99 each, two FREE Kodak photo books, Dawn for $0.44, according to Deal Seeking Mom.

At Walgreens, FREE Colgate MaxWhite Toothpaste, three Vick's Sinex VapoSPray, 1 Vicks Vaporub, and 1 Puffs Tissues all for FREE, Gillette Fusion Razor $1.99, Head and Shoulders Shampoo $1.50, Pantene $0.67 each wyb three, Pampers for $6.49, Car,mex Lip Balm $0.44, Dawn $0.49, according to Deal Seeking Mom.

At Kroger, make $0.50 buying Blue Diamond Almond Milk (internet coupon has expired, but there are $0.55 blinkies at the store that double to $1 now), FREE Voskos Greek Yogurt, Bob Evans Sausage $1.50, Frank's Red Hot Sauce $0.67, Yoplait $0.25 each, International Delight Creamer $0.19, Crest Toothpaste $0.50, according to the Savings Lifestyle.

Lean Cuisine meals for $1.24 each wyb seven, using two $1 off 3 coupons, Herbal Essences as low as $0.99, Secret or Old Spice Deodorant as low as $0.29, according to Stockpiling Moms.

Other deals:

Two 25 oz. Zoe Organic Olive Oil for $13.05 at amazon.com, when you use subscribe and save. This is a great price for organic olive oil!

Also at Amazon, Seventh Generation Diapers for $5.58 a pack.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Hamburger, Peas, and Carrots one-dish meal

Tuesday: ever so popular Pear Oven Pancake

Wednesday: Fettucine Alfredo

Thursday: BLTs, pears, broccoli

Friday: Christmas Eve at Home: Spiced Cranberry Cider in the slow cooker, hummus, pita bread, Black Bean Burgers with Avocado Mayo

Saturday: Christmas brunch, making stuffing (twiddled to be dairy-free and vegetarian), Pigs In A Blanket, and my dad's favorite cake, Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Sunday: hunt and peck with leftovers

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Game Of Cards Anyone?

Many people on a budget choose not to use credit cards so they don’t accidentally over spend. While that can be an excellent tactic for someone hoping to control their spending, credit cards can provide some benefits when used properly. When you pay off your balance on time every month credit cards can offer benefits and perks worth considering.

The first thing to consider about your credit card choice is your lifestyle and where you are at financially right now.
• If you are someone who has a balance of credit card debt, focus on cards that offer low interest rates and look at rates on balance transfers. A reward card negates itself because of the high interest rate you will be paying.
• If you pay your balance in full every month, you will want a credit card with no annual fees and a good cash rewards program.
• Consider specialty credit cards if they fit your lifestyle better than a general rewards program. If you spend a lot on gas, consider a gas credit card that gives added rewards on auto expenses. If you travel a lot, look for a card with rewards for flights and lodging.
• Are you a light spender or heavy spender? Some credit cards only give a small percentage cash back until you reach $1,500-$5,000 spending. If you won’t spend that much you will be better off with cards that offer a higher percentage on specific items.

There are a lot of options to consider and it really takes some research to find the best card. To start you off I’ve listed a few options to consider.

Cash back cards
If you use your credit card frequently, the American Express Blue Cash card is a good choice. When you first sign up, you get 1% cash back when you buy gas, groceries and drugstore items. Other purchases earn 0.5%. Once you spend more than $6,500, you earn 5% on gas, groceries and drugstore purchases, and 1.25% on other items. The card has no annual fee and no limit on the rewards you can accrue. (I have this card and have earned $600 cash back this year!)

Another top pick is the Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards card, which earns 2% cash back on gasoline and groceries and 1% on other items. The card has no annual fee, no limit on the cash you can earn, and it carries a rate of 0% until August 2011. After that, the rate goes up to a variable 14.9%.

Gas cards
The no-fee ExxonMobil MasterCard earns you 15 cents per gallon when you gas up at an Exxon or a Mobil station. The card also has a tiered rebate of up to 2% on all other purchases until you spend $10,000 for the year. After that, you get 1% back. Rewards are credited on your monthly statement in $10 increments and expire after two years. The interest rate for the regular card is a variable 23.99%. For the platinum card, it's a variable 19.99%.

If you'd like to earn a rebate on all brands of gas, consider the no-fee Discover Open Road card. The Discover card offers a 2% rebate on gas up to the first $250 spent per month and up to 1% on everything else (the variable interest rate runs from 11.99% to 19.99%, depending on your credit history).

Travel Cards
If you want to be able to transfer miles to more than a dozen frequent-flier programs and are willing to pay off your balance each month, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold charge card fits the bill. Each dollar you spend on airline tickets earns you three points, and a dollar spent on gas or groceries gets you two points. For other purchases, you earn one point per dollar. (One point translates to one mile in airline frequent-flier programs.) With this card, you don't have to worry about a limit on your points; nor will they expire. You'll pay a $175 annual fee, but it's waived the first year. Because it's a charge card, not a credit card, you may not roll over a balance to the next month.

Low Rate/Balance Transfer Cards
Capital One Platinum Prestige Card offers a 0% introductory rate until June 2011 on balance transfers and purchases. After the teaser rate expires, the rate adjusts to 11.9%. That means the card has a longer introductory rate period than most, CreditCards.com's Woolsey said, plus a lower long-term rate. The balance transfer fee is 3%.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winner!

Kind of hard to lose when you are the only player! Congrats Bionic Mama for winning the nursing cover and gel pads!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Big Plans

The Mister and I are pretty regular watchers of Suze Orman's show every Saturday night (on my bucket list, being on her Can I Afford It? segment), and I have started going through her book Women And Money and listing those very important things we need to do that we've been procrastinating on forever. Three years ago, before our son was born, we made sure to make our Living Wills and Healthcare Power of Attorneys (links to free forms at the same site). We seriously discussed who would raise our child if we both died, and decided upon my SIL.

And then life got busy and we stopped.

The past two weeks, knowing we have another baby on the way in 9 weeks, and that things will be a little more complicated this time as far as the birth and my health afterward, we've gotten serious again about getting our ducks in a row.

Scratched off our to-do list already are:

1) Refinancing our mortgage. Interest rates have gone way down since we bought the house, and our credit is fantastic. So, we are now saving 1.5% in interest. We opted to keep the same payment and shave 5 years off our mortgage, which is a nice thing when your husband is, ahem, getting up there in years.

2) We finally opened a joint bank account. I know, almost 5 years of marriage later. Did I mention we tend to procrastinate?

3) Made an appointment with an attorney to make our will and living revocable trust. The goal is to have it completed before the baby comes.

On the to-do list:

1) Get loads of term life insurance for the Mister. One huge regret is that we didn't do this for me a few years ago- and now I am pretty much uninsurable. Thankfully, my work is very generous with its life insurance, and I opted for the max I can get without requiring a health exam. In the next few weeks, we'll be getting quotes for my husband, so if something terrible happens, myself and the kids will be taken care of.

2) Research college savings options.

3) Start going through and selling/giving away the excess "stuff" that is wasting space in our home. This week, I shipped some nursing scrubs I will never wear again to a friend who has lost 100 pounds, and moved most of my toiletries/diapers/socks stockpile to the homeless shelter it was meant for. I have about 10 cardboard bankers boxes that will be sorted and filled with the rest of my scrubs and nursing shoes I will never use again, high heels that are on the no-no list now, knick-knacks that don't belong in this house, purses I don't use, and cloth diapers that never made it into my favorite stash.

This, of course, doesn't include all the other little projects we are working on. This weekend, Mr S hung a cabinet in our master bath, and started moving the new office furniture into the study (we got two huge desks, 3 cork boards, and two leather desk chairs in fantastic condition for $98). I am schlepping our hundreds of books to another room. We ordered the furniture for our daughter's room, and he is planning on putting up shelves in her closet. We plan on putting a second shelf in the basement for my ever-growing stockpile. I am researching organization blogs for ideas to make our home tidier, as I seem to have been born without an organized bone in my body. Any recommendations?

Giveaway!


For one lucky reader, I am giving away a First Years Nursing Care Gel Pad with 4 disposable sleeves, and a black and white Udder Covers Nursing Cover.

There are two chances to enter: 1) follow me in Google Friend Connect and 2) leave a comment telling me your greatest frugal success- I always find these stories inspiring!

Open to US readers only, and contest ends Thursday, December 16th. Please be sure to leave a valid email address.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: switcharoo to Cottage Pie With Leeks

Monday: leftover cottage pie

Tuesday: Pear Oven Pancake and Sausage

Wednesday: Mushroom Omelettes

Thursday: Spaghetti with Ragu (lots of $0.24 sauce still) and garlic bread

Friday: Homemade pizza with veggies

Saturday: eat out with restaurant.com coupon

Sunday: Corn Chowder

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Pear Oven Pancake and Sausage

Tuesday: Ground Beef, Cabbage, Celery, and Stewed Tomatoes in slow cooker (too sick to make last week)

Wednesday: leftover beef and cabbage

Thursday: Onions and Potatoes with Mettwurst, Broccoli

Friday: Homemade pizza with lots of veggies

Saturday: Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Penne, From-scratch brownies, made dairy-free

Sunday: BLTs, Baked French Fries, salad

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ebates-The No-Brainer

By: Diane O'Brian

Thanks to my co-workers who inspired this post after our lunch conversation about it. If you are an online shopper than using a cash back site should be a no-brainer. You get cash back for doing what you were going to do anyways.

How to use a cash back site
Initially you have to register with the cash back site(s) that you wish to use. When registering you must use your real details as these are needed to pay you. You log in to your account with the cash back site, find a retailer from the lists on the site whom you want to buy from, then click through to that retailer. Once the purchase is confirmed, the cashback website will receive its commission and then pass the cash back onto you.

How to choose a cash back site
There are a lot of cash back sites that have popped up over the years so make sure the site is secure and choose one that has been around for a while. Consider the percentage cash back that you will receive from the site and how you will get paid out. Some sites offer coupons, deals, points and gift cards as rewards. You will also want to find out how and when you will get paid out. Some sites will pay you whatever amount you’ve accrued whenever you want it and some will require that you wait until you have accrued a certain amount. I would also take into consideration how many retailers that site gives you to choose from or if they have the stores you shop from the most. It might make sense to register with more than one cash back site.
Cash Back Chart is a database that lists the highest percentage cashback from various sites and a link to the site.

Cash Back Websites:
Ebates
FatWallet
Mr. Rebates
Big Crumbs

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Deal Roundup

FREE menstrual cup sample.

Clorox Bleach for $0.49 and Lysol Kitchen Spray for $0.99 at Kroger.

10 FREE holiday photo cards from Kodak.

$0.25 rental at Amazon.com's video on demand.

FREE 8 x 10 collage print at Walgreens.

Great listing of photo card deals at Vistaprint from Centsible Savings. Get 100 photo cards for $22.29.

Groupon for Cincinnati folks: Get a year of Angie's List for only $12.

FREE Duracell batteries at Kroger.

405 piece Lego set for $15 at Walmart.

$10 off Fantasia coupon.

FREE 8 x 10 photo canvas.

Dyson vacuum for 40% off at Target.

150 Snapfish prints for $15.

Robeez as low as $10.99, plus FREE shipping. This is a VERY good price.

Super double coupons at Remke Biggs today and tomorrow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday



Monday: Mushroom Omelettes with Cheese, Salad

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner: Pear Oven Pancake, Bacon, Sausage

Wednesday: preparing for Thanksgiving, DiGiorno Pizza while I do my baking

Thursday: not in charge of the feast, but bringing Mom's secret recipe cherry cupcakes with cherry icing, dairy free chocolate-chip cookies, and dairy-free chocolate cupcakes

Fri-Sunday: my MIL is cooking!

Sunday Deal Roundup

At Kroger, Green Giant Veggies for $0.55 each, Betty Crocker potatoes and cake mixes for $0.50 each, carnation Evaporated Milk for $0.69 each, Heinz Gravy for $0.56, FREE Idahoan Potatoes, Philly Cream Cheese for $0.25, six Pillsbury Crescent Rolls for $3, FREE Suave deodorant, $3.84 for 8 packs of Duracell batteries, three GE Energy Smart Lightbulbs for $1.17 according to The Savings Lifestyle.

At CVS, FREE Advil PM, FREE Excedrin Migraine, Kellogg's Cereal $1, get $5 ECBs when buying a Visa Gift card, Beneful Dog Food $2 each, Clean and Clear Cleanser $1.32 each, four Playtex Gentle Glide Tampons $0.79 each, according to Deal Seeking Mom.

At Walgreens, FREE Colgate ProClinical Toothpaste, Olay Soap $0.50, Playtex Gentle Glide $1, Huggies Jumbo Diapers $4.49, Nabisco Cookies, $0.49, Quaker Oats $0.60, FREE Coffee-mate liquid creamer, Tic-tacs $0.24, according to Cincinnati Cents.

At Target, FREE Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough according to Deal Seeking Mom.

At Meijer, $16 off any Grade A Turkey with a $20 purchase, Jimmy Dean Sausage $1, Coffee-mate Liquid Creamer $1, Comstock Pie Filling $0.50, Carnation Evaporated Milk $0.49, Pam cooking spray $0.80, Crest Toothpaste $0.67, according to Cincinnati Cents.

$10 off $10 at Hallmark.

Buy a membership to the Cincinnati Museum Center, get a second and third for half off.

Seven Christmas Classics on DVD at amazon.com for $12.99.

25 FREE photo cards at Seehere.com. (I paid $4.99 shipping).

80% off Restaurant.com certificates.

Get a year of the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer FREE when you subscribe to the Bethel Journal for $20.

25% off at Mattell plus free shipping and handling.

25 FREE photocopies at Office Depot.

50% off at Ace Hardware next Saturday only.

Beauty and the Beast Blue-ray combo pack FREE after sale, coupons, and mail-in-rebate.

Leap Frog Tag Books as low as FREE.

Shrek 4-DVD set as low as $8 per movie.

$3 off a fresh pork product for Ohio folks only.

$1.00 off Wholly Guacamole.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Nest Egg

Mega disclaimer: I have no formal education regarding retirement, 401k's, 403B's, stocks, bonds, etc. etc.

One of my biggest motivations for being so diligent about saving money is retirement. I started saving for my retirement when I was in college. Most people aren't quite as crazy as me and often don't give retirement much thought. Hopefully the following suggestions will help you feel comfortable getting started with your retirement savings.

A general rule of thumb is to save 15% of your salary for retirement. If you have company matching, this number isn't as scary as you'd think.

That being said, each person's situation is different, and you should plan for retirement accordingly. Here are factors you should take into consideration when deciding how much to save:

1.Your Current Age: The older you are when you start saving the more you will need to save.

2.Your Retirement Age: The longer you plan to work the more you will continue to put away for retirement.

3.Your Life Expectancy: OK, so none of us really knows when we will die (unless one of you has a working crystal ball I don't know about), but family history, health and lifestyle can help you realistically prepare.

4.Your Current Savings: This one relates back to your current age and when you started saving. If you started young and were very aggressive you may not need to save as much when you get older.

5.Your Investments: So where did you put the retirement money? If it is under a mattress somewhere, (do people still do that?) then you probably didn't get any return on your money unless you count the change you found in the couch cushions. If you put your money to work for you then you probably won't have to save as much.

6.How Much Income You Need for Retirement: What are your plans for the retirement: traveling, living the high life, downsizing? Those choices will all affect how much you need to save.

7.Your Current Income: Your current income my not reflect how you want to live your retirement. For example, I work for a non-profit and don't make a lot of money. I don't want to have to scrape by in retirement so I save more than 15% for retirement.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Omelettes with Mushrooms, Onions, and Cheddar

Tueday: Bacon Tomato Pasta

Wednesday: Slow Cooker meal of Beef, Cabbage, Celery, and Stewed Tomatoes

Thursday: leftover beef and cabbage

Friday: Pan-Fried Onions and Potatoes (I use olive oil) with Mettwurst

Saturday: Black Bean and Vegetable Quesadilla
Homemade Guacamole
Spanish Rice

Sunday:
Creamy Pasta and Spinach


Day Care Snacks: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, made dairy-free
Strawberries and Kiwi
Multi-grain Cheerios

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Roundup

Grocery total for this week: $47! We'll probably have to buy bananas mid-week, but that should only add another buck. I am still super-stockpiled, so much of what I bought was fresh produce, milks, bread, and a couple small splurges. Next weekend will be shopping for the week of Thanksgiving, and I will not be responsible for feeding us 3 of those days, so another cheap week is anticipated.

And now, for the match-ups!

At Kroger, Cascadian Farm cereal $1.99, Green Giant Frozen Veggies $0.55, FREE Idahoan Potatoes, get 6 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls for $3 with coupon plus catalina, Reddi-wip $0.49, 2 Shedd's Spread for $0.98, FREE Suave deodorant, Duracell Batteries for as low as $0.48, according to The Savings Lifestyle.

At Meijer, sweet potatoes $0.25 per pound, 10 lb potatoes $2.77, Wishbone Salad Dressing $0.49, FREE Jell-o Gelatin, FREE International Delight Coffee Creamer, Pillsbury Frosting $0.75, Heinz Gravy $0.56, Stovetop Stuffing $0.19 when you buy 5, Pillsbury Sweet Rolls $0.25, according to Stockpiling Moms. 3 Seattle's Best Coffee for $3.70 or 3 Starbucks Coffees for $3.82 according to Deal Seeking Mom.

At CVS, FREE Oral-B Vitality Toothbrush, Aussie Shampoo $0.49, Fiber One Bars $0.49, Kellogg's cereal $1, Libby's Pumpkin $0.79 according to Cincinnati Cents. 3 Skippy Peanut Butters and 3 Ragu Spaghetti Sauces for $0.36 each according to Frugal Coupon Living.

At Target, Stovetop Stuffing for $0.04 each, Philadelphia Cream Cheese for $0.94 each, Swanson Chicken Broth $0.40, Heinz Gravy $0.46, Betty Crocker Potatoes $0.29, Carnation Evaporated Milk $0.64, FREE Gas-X, FREE Olay Beauty Bar, FREE Reach Dental Floss according to Stretching A Buck. 5 Glade Scented Oil Candle Holders for $2.50 total, Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa $0.74 according to The Savings Lifestyle.

At Walgreens, FREE Kids-eeze Cough and Cold Relief, Holiday M & Ms $0.75, Vick's Cold Products (NyQuil, DayQuil) for $1 each, Wisk Detergent $2.99 (originally $6.99), Puffs Tissues $0.64, Welch's Grape Jelly $0.95, FREE Gain Dish Liquid, FREE Ecotrin Baby Aspirin, Blistex Lip Care $0.75, French's French Fried Onions $0.49 according to Cincinnati Cents.

Also:

75 FREE Snapfish prints (pay shipping only)

MAKE MONEY buying batteries at Office Depot this week

Subscription to Family Circle Magazine for $3.99

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Penne With Sausage and Poached Eggs on Toast


More blog winnings! 48 packs of lovely, addictive, Butterfinger-y crack from Nestle and It Is Tuesday, Right?. Got it a week ago and there are only two packs left. I only ate three. My husband and sister killed one box, and my coworkers killed the other.



This was easy and yummy- Penne With Sausage, Peppers, and Homemade Marinara. I used turkey italian sausage and a bag of frozen peppers and onions over Smart Taste pasta.


This literally took 15 minutes to make and we will make it again. Poached Eggs On Toast With Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms. I don't poach eggs very well, so I fried them in a non-stick skillet, and I didn't have any shaved parmesan- but it was still yummy. Roasting the tomatoes took 5 minutes and imbued a lot of flavor.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Deal Roundup


At Kroger through this Sunday, FREE Propel Fitness Water, Campbell's Condensed Soups 2 for $0.18, FREE Nestle Hot Cocoa (but must buy marshmallows), Carnation Evaporated Milk 2 for $0.38, Stovetop Stuffing $0.25 each, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce $0.75, Quaker Cereal, Life, or Cap'n Crunch $0.49, FREE Colgate Toothpaste and FREE Ricola Cough Drops according to Stockpiling Moms. FREE Dannon Activia, FREE Honest Tea, FREE Colagte Toothpaste, FREE Ricola Cough Drops, Hungry Man Entrees for $0.25, Del Monte Tomatoes for $0.29, Blue Diamond Almond Milk $0.99, Green Giant Frozen Veggies $0.48 each, according to Stretching A Buck.

At Walgreens through Saturday, FREE Revitalens Solution, FREE Schick Razors, FREE Reach Toothbrushes and Floss, Dove Deodorant $0.50, FREE Dove Candy according to Stockpiling Moms. FREE Clabber Girl Baking Powder according to Stretching A Buck. * I got the free Reach items and baking powder this week. FREE Similasen Kids Cough and Cold and Dawn Dish Liquid according to Deal Seeking Mom.

At CVS through Saturday, FREE Gain Dish liquid, according to Stretching A Buck. FREE Noxzema products, Nestle's morsels for $1.15, and Colgate Total for $0.30 according to Deal Seeking Mom.

At Staples through Saturday, 50-ct HP Photo Paper for $1 (usually $10), and 500-ct Multi-Purpose Paper for $1, according to Cincinnati Cents.

At Meijer through Saturday, FREE Betty Crocker Warm Delights, according to Deal Seekimg Mom.

Martha White Corn Muffin Mix for $0.14 at Walmart.

FREE photo greeting card from Shutterfly.

FREE Kotex samples.

Hefty Trash Bags for $0.09 a bag at Walmart.

HUGE list of FREE samples at Deal Seeking Mom.

FREE Wholly Guacamole at Walmart.

A year of Fitness Magazine for $3.73.

Easy Bake Oven at Target for $13.

20 custom holiday cards from Vistaprint for $1.99.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Poached Eggs on Toast with Mushrooms and Roasted Tomatoes

Tuesday: Sirloin Burgers on Buns with Homemade Fries

Wednesday: Bacon and Tomato Pasta

Thursday:Homemade Pizza with pepperoni and veggies

Friday: Chicago Style Hot Dogs (98% fat free, all beef)

Saturday: Grilled BBQ Chicken Quesadillas (on the indoor grill), corn

Sunday: Spanish Rice and Beans (the recipe calls for beef, but I leave it out)

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Deal Roundup

Organic Maple Syrup for $14.85 on amazon.com. This is usually $20.

Maxwell House Coffee for $0.27 at Meijer through today!

Print a coupon for $0.50 off Driscoll's berries. This should double at Kroger and Meijer.

Coupons for Almond milk.

30% off at Gymboree this weekend.

Lots of rebates for toys and games at Toys R Us!

FREE sample of Lactaid.

FREE Tylenol Sleep Solution Kit. Includes coupons and CD.

FREE bagels, Coffeemate creamer, and Idahoan Potatoes at Walmart.

Hundreds of dollars in toy coupons at Target. We don't really need anything, but I may keep my eye out for a birthday present for the spring. Two-year olds don't need loads of presents. Well, no kid really needs loads of presents. I got him some books on paperback swappers, plus a Blue's Clues computer game at Half-Price books, and a new Toy Story3 coloring book.

10 reams of copy paper at Office Max for $9.99.

Stocking Up on a Good Deal

By Diane O'Brian

It probably comes as no surprise to hear that stocking up when there is a good deal can save you a lot of money. The problem is, when there is a good deal, most of us don’t have more than 2-4 coupons to use on the deal.

Some of us are lucky enough to have friends and family to swap coupons with, but that isn’t always the case.

There are websites where you can purchase coupons in bulk. (Technically you aren’t allowed to buy/sell coupons but you can pay for the time spent clipping the coupons.) You can purchase coupons from these websites:

THE COUPON CARRYOUT
They charge a small handling fee for each coupon they clip to cover the labor costs involved to locate, sort and clip the coupons. There are shipping costs on everything under $15.00.

THE COUPON CLIPPERS

They charge a fee and shipping for each coupon requested. There is a minimum of $3.00 to place an order.

COUPONS BY DEDE

They charge a fee and shipping for each coupon requested.

EBAY
Individuals post coupons on ebay to bid on. The amount of coupons available varies from seller to seller. You will most likely have to pay shipping.

THE Q HUNTER
They charge a fee and shipping for each coupon requested. The minimum is $1.00 to place an order.

THE COUPON MASTER

They charge a fee and shipping for each coupon requested. The minimum is $3.00 to place an order.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday Deal Roundup

FREE Nivea Body Wash

$10 off an organic turkey

FREE Picaboo Photo Book (pay shipping only)

Make $3 buying Nyquil at Walgreens

Kroger: FREE Ronzoni pasta, Hungry Man dinners, Energizer Everready Flashlight, Colgate toothbrushes and toothpaste

Target: FREE Rayovac batteries and Olay Beauty Bar

Walmart: FREE Reach Dental Floss and Tic-Tacs

FREE Folgers sample

FREE tampons sample

Lots of Deal Seeking Mom links: $8 off plus up to $10 rebate for Toy Story 3 (best deal match-ups here), FREE Veggie Tales Christmas album, FREE 8x10 photo canvas

Lots of printable coupons for DVDs

Monday, November 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Chicago-style hot dogs

Tuesday: Sirloin burgers and homemade fries

Wednesday: Pasta with garlic bread (lots of free pasta to use up)

Thursday: Slow Cooker Mac n Cheese

Friday: Homemade pizza with onions and pepperoni

Saturday: Baked Potato Soup in slow cooker (adding some cheddar cheese)

Sunday: leftover potato soup

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shopping Trips and Dinner Experimentations


Today's Kroger trip. Didn't need a lot as we are very well stocked right now. Total was $54.14. The General Mills deal was awesome, as I could get each box of cereal for as low as $0.49 each. Mine were $0.49 for 2 and $1.49 for the other two, making them all about $1 each. My fault, as I'm shopping on one of the last days of the sale, and they were out of stock on Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the ones I had 2 more coupons for. Still pretty good considering the soy and almond milks were almost 35% of that trip.

Meijer from last week. Ronzoni whole wheat pasta for free, Smart Taste for $0.49 each, clearance wheat germ for $1, free olive oil, broth cartons for $1 each, Jell-o for $0.49 each, and pasta and pesto sauce for $0.87 each. I have tons of pasta still, but the price was right!


A roasted red pepper and chickpea pasta. It was delicious and easy! Even The Boy ate it.


Baked potato soup in the slow cooker. Soooo easy. I used only 5 potatoes, not 5 lbs, and added 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese in the last 30 minutes. Scrumptious! I am making it again next weekend.

Knock-off Cheddar Bay Biscuits. I whipped them up in 10 minutes with the toddler's help, and we ate every last one!


Our Halloween offering- bags of chips. The dairy-free ones the toddler gets to eat, and they are very popular in our neighborhood. 80 of them for $21 at Sam's Club.

Dairy-free Snickerdoodles for the toddler's day-care party. I used butter-flavor Crisco and vegan margarine from the health food store. Still buttery and delicious!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How I Came to Be

By: Diane O’Brian

I often wonder how bloggers who write about saving money came to be “one of those people.” I don’t know all of their stories, but I can tell you mine.

I grew up in a seemingly middle class family that probably really wasn’t. My mom was a stay at home mom until I got older, and my dad was in and out of work over the years due to layoffs and medical problems. I once asked my mom what her budget looked like and she responded, “Budget? What budget?” With three kids money went out as soon as it came in. So saving money was a necessity and a way of life for our family.

I have memories of my mom going off to “refunding club” where she’d share and collect receipts and UPC’s she needed to get rebates on a product. We cut out the UPC on every product we used “just in case.” My mom had a big box in the hall closed where she had envelopes of coupons for every type of product imaginable. One of our chores might be going through the envelopes and pulling the expired ones.

Interestingly enough, my sisters and I all took our own lessons from childhood and we did not all turn out to be frugal like my mom. I saw my parents struggle with money, and how hard they worked to still give us everything they thought we should have. Although I appreciate everything they did, I did not want to spend my life struggling to make ends meet. As a result, I am very careful with money and use all the tools at my disposal to save my hard-earned money.

Enter Mrs. Spock. She and I have been friends since Jr. High, and she also has her own story of saving money out of necessity. She has always been receptive to my thoughts on saving money, budgets, etc. and we learned from each other. (Thank goodness, because I think I was starting to bore everyone else to death on the subject.) Because two heads can be better than one, Mrs. Spock invited me to help share our knowledge and experience with anyone who might be interested through her blog.

I won’t claim to be half as good of a writer as Mrs. Spock, but hopefully my typos will be minor, and that I will offer a different perspective from my many years of experience with saving money.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: leftover Baked Potato Soup and Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Tuesday: Beef Vegetable Soup

Wed: leftover veggie soup

Thurs: leftover veggie soup

Friday: homemade calzones with pepperoni and onions

Saturday: Penne With Sausage, Peppers, and Homemade Marinara

Sunday: Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken (have lots of free BBQ sauce to use up), cheesy potatoes, Broccoli

day care treats: pumpkin bran muffins

Hundreds more menu plans here!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Room Makeover

The bedroom before was actually filled to the ceiling with boxes from my SIL's New York apartment. We had the room painted to a gray-blue, and initially had her bed set up for guests.

We got rid of the old venetian blinds with the long cords and leads weights. Too unsafe for children. We settled on these cordless blinds, which are very easy to use, and have a light-blocking layer.

The changing table and boat-shaped bookcase were moved.


And the recliner and crib. Still no pictures on the walls, as I'm trying to figure out what I will do with them.

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday: Santa Fe Rice and Beans

Monday: Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Penne

Tuesday: Mac and Cheese

Wednesday: Black Bean Chili

Thursday: leftover chili

Friday: Creamy Pasta and Spinach

Saturday: dinner out at a farm, petting goats after dinner

Sunday: Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup (will be adding cheddar to mine), Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Knock-offs (last and only time I ate the real deal, I broke out in hives!)

Day care treats: Pumpkin Muffins, Dairy-free frosting, soy yogurt with raspberries

Great Amazon.com Deals!

Run out and get the November issues of Parents magazine today to get a jump on this great deal. I just got 184 Size 2 Pampers for $19 on amazon.com using their subscribe and save discount, plus a 20% off coupon code from Parents. Shipping was free! If you don't want automatic shipping every month or so, just cancel once you receive your first shipment.

It might be worth getting a subscription to Parents, as they have been having these coupon codes every month. The current issue has a card for $7.99 for a year's subscription- plus a cookbook and the second year for free. Considering an issue costs $3.50, this is a great deal.

I've been using Amazon's subscribe and save for 3 years to get a shipment of Seventh Generation Toilet Paper every 6 months. I've never had a problem with it.

Today I found another great deal on Amazon. Because my son has a dairy allergy, and loves pancakes and waffles, we have to make them from scratch. We use Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix. I can only find it at our local health food or specialty grocery, and it is usually $4-5 per bag. We go through at least two bags a month. I found that I can get a 4-pack through subscribe and save every 4 months for only $11.95- and free shipping! This will cut our cost by 50%.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lots Of Freebies In The Mail


An afghan for my son's new room. It cost me $8 in yarn, and I am halfway through. Once that is done, I will start on a lavender one for our soon-to-be-born daughter's room.


The tractor- $20 used from a friend's sister, and it is keeping The Boy outside every night for hours.


Magazines that were free or less than $3 for a year's subscription. My new favorite is Kiplinger's Personal Finance. I learn so much with every issue that I think I will renew next year.


Freebie Oxy Face Wash and Head and Shoulders Shampoo. Good for the husband's business trips.


All but 4 of these are tomatoes. $0.35 each at Meijer a few weeks ago.

24 pairs of girl's socks for $8. These go to the shelter for women and children.


Free Cottonelle Wet Wipes. I'm saving these for those first few postpartum days. Get yours too on Facebook.

Playtex tampons for $0.50 each at Kroger this week with sale plus $2 off coupons.

LOTS of freebies in the mail today: 6 packs of Johnsonville Deli Bites, a free 24-ct Advil product, and 6 free packs of instant coffee (I'm thinking of using them for mocha-flavored desserts- Chocolate Mocha Cheesecake at Christmas maybe?)


And more freebies in the mail yesterday, two small boxes of cereal (one was already eaten!) and a box of Hamburger Helper. The Hamburger Helper will go to a friend, as I prefer the homemade low-sodium and dairy-free version of this one-dish meal.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Choosing a Saving Money Blog or Website

By: Diane O'Brian

Every frugal blogger has a different perspective shaped by their reason for being frugal and their current lifestyle. That perspective is often reflected in their posts and is also what differentiates them from another blog or website. If you plan to become a regular subscriber, I think it is helpful to know how they came to be and what their life is like now. This will help you pick the best blogs/websites for you and maximize your time saving money.

A good example is this blog, Whole, Fast, Frugal. You would be more likely to read posts from me about saving money on pets and your home, where as with Mrs. Spock you will read about the frugal and healthy recipes she makes. We write what we know.

I’m often asked for the list of websites/blogs that I read, but I’d like to encourage you to make your own list. Find writers that resonate with you and are blogging about things you want to know about.

Here is a great place to start to locate money saving blogs/websites you may be interested in.

Things to consider when choosing a blog/website about saving money:
1. What stores do they shop at or where in the country are they located? If the writer only posts deals at their local stores this may not be of any help to you if you don’t have those stores nearby.

2. The writer’s lifestyle. Some writers post about frugal family friendly activities, where as others about saving money at restaurants and travel deals. Neither is bad, but one may be more helpful to you than another based on what your lifestyle is like.

3. Every day savings or big picture. Some writers are dedicated to writing about coupon matches and how to save money in your daily life. There are other writers who like to talk about the big picture such as budgeting, retirement savings, and paying down debt. Again, neither is bad-you just need to find the sites that fit what your money-saving goals are.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

“We’ll beat any advertised price!”

By Diane O'Brian

Price matching is when one retail outlet offers to sell something for the same price you’d purchase it for somewhere else. Price matching is a good option to help save time and money. Why go to multiple stores if you can get the lowest price on items at one store?

Make sure you bring the ad from the store with the lower price with you. You will need to make sure you find the same size, flavor, brand, etc. as what is listed in the ad. Each stores policy and procedure is a little different so you will want to look up the policy before going to that store. If your cashier doesn’t know about price matching you can call for a manager or go to customer service.

Virtually no stores will attempt price matching with website prices-including their own, and not all stores will price match on Black Friday.

Stores that price match:
Best Buy
Kohl’s
Lowes
Office Depot
Staples
Sears
Target
Wal-Mart

Monday, October 4, 2010

Organic

By: Diane O'Brian

Oh the struggle many families face debating between the health benefits of buying organic and the havoc it can wreak on your budget. One can argue that the longtime savings due to good health can outweigh the toll buying organic can take on your budget.
Whatever your reason for buying organic, there are ways to save money.

Freezing
If you find a good deal on fruits, veggies, meat, milk and cheeses-stock up! All of these items can be frozen.

Co-op

A co-op is a store or retail market for products, owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. Belonging to, or using a food co-op can allow you to purchase organic food at a lower price.

Dirty Dozen
If you are trying to find a way to ease into buying organic, it is commonly recommended that you start with the dirty dozen. These fruits and veggies tend to have the most pesticide residue.
• Apples
• Cherries
• Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Raspberries
• Strawberries
• Bell peppers
• Celery
• Potatoes
• Spinach

Buy in Bulk
Stores like Cosco, Amazon and Sam’s sell organic food in bulk at a lower price than a smaller grocery store.

Coupons
Always check the Sunday paper for coupons. But your best bet for organics is on individual product websites like Seventh Generation.

Farmer’s Market
Your local farmer’s market can be a great place to buy affordable organic food. Plus you may be supporting your local economy. Go here to search for your closest farmer’s market.

Substitute
Substitute less expensive veggies in place of expensive ones. Think broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, and yellow onions instead of asparagus, red peppers, and sweet onions.

In Season
Buy what’s in season. Corn, for example is very affordable during the summer, but is much more expensive the rest of the year.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Homemade Hummus and Pita Bread, Greek Salads with red onion, feta,tomatoes, kalamata olives, and homemade Greek Salad Dressing

Tuesday: Corn and Bacon Chowder, salads

Wednesday: Leftover Corn Chowder, Homemade Mac and Cheese

Thursday: Spanish Rice and Beans

Friday: hunt and peck, working late

Saturday: Mushroom Risotto With Peas, Broccoli, Pear Puff Pancake for dessert

Sunday: Penne With Red Pepper Pesto, salads

Day care treats:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, made dairy-free
Apple Oatmeal Muffins from the freezer
Peanut-butter and banana wraps

Work Lunches:
Lean Cuisine entree (was $1.37 with deals this week), ranch and bell pepper tortilla wraps, or lunchmeat sandwich with cheese, baby carrots and bell peppers, fat-free chocolate pudding (made in bulk and stored in fridge), oatmeal raisin cookies, grapes

Hundreds more menus here!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Kielbasa with Pan-Fried Potatoes and Onions (this has become a big hit with us- I use olive oil instead of bacon fat), Corn

Tuesday: Sister moving to New York, farewell dinner at Olive Garden with family - using coupon

Wednesday: Homemade Hummus, Homemade Pita Bread, Greek Salads with Feta, Sweet Potato Cottage Fries

Thursday: Veggie Burgers, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli with Cheese

Friday: working late- Chic-Fil-A- getting spicy nuggets for FREE, plus have B1G1 Entertainment coupon

Saturday: Date afternoon lunch and movie out using Restaurant.com coupon and B1G1 Entertainment movie coupon

Dinner is Bacon and Tomato Pasta , salad

Sunday: Bean and Bacon Soup, Beer Bread, salad

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shopping Trips Galore

Today's CVS and Walgreens trips: The raisins were on sale for $2 at Walgreens and I had a $2 register rewards that expired after today. My out of pocket was ZERO. The two Edge shaving creams were FREE, the Right Guard Deodorant was FREE, the Revlon lipstick was $0.99, and I paid $3.57 out of pocket after using my ECBS, and got $8.80 in ECBs back (I used $14 in ECBs from previous weeks to reduce today's out of pocket. I still have $9 in ECBs left over from previous weeks as well.)


Meijer trip from last week: the salad was $1, Nestle chocolate chips were $1.13 each, Green Giant Veggies were FREE for 6 packs after catalina and coupons, Evaporated Milk for $0.49 each, and Aunt Millie's Hearth Bread for $1.67.

CVS trip: FREE candy corn, and FREE Nivea Body Wash (for the shelter) and FREE Skintimate Shave Gel.


CVS: case of Pampers and two Johnson's bath products. I spent $26 and got $10 in ECBs, and used coupons and ECBs. Total was $14.


Meijer trip: OJ for $1, Campbell's Soup for $0.29 each, Soup At Hand for $0.50, and yogurt was $0.37 each.


Walgreens from 2 weeks ago: Ecotrin (larger size) for $1.99, Quaker Oats for $0.49 each, and a few miscellaneous items (the ear thermometer was $11 after coupon).


Kroger trip: Apple Juice $1.25, tomatoes for $0.67, and tomato paste $0.19.


Target deal: Enfamil for $17 each after coupons and gift card.

Scalloped Potatoes. I used half and half, and topped it with cheddar cheese.



Chicken Piccata-this was FABULOUS. Next time I will put fewer lemons in the sauce, though it was my husband who found it lemony, not me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Match-Up Roundup

Kroger: From Cincinnati Cents, Silk Almond Milk for $1.50, Kraft Cheese $0.99 each, Michelina's Entrees $0.68 each, Campbell's Chunky or Select Harvest Soup $0.25 each, ZonePerfect Bar FREE, Quaker Oats $0.50, Cheerios $0.98.

From The Savings Lifestyle, Fage Greek Yogurt $0.25, Playtex Tampons $0.99

Meijer: From The Savings Lifestyle, Armour Pepperoni FREE, Hormel Lunchmeat $1.13, Weight Watchers Smart Ones $1.30 each wyb 6 (I'm using the $3 off 6 coupon, and will get a $5 catalina back), Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cookies $0.50, Chi-chi's salsa $0.42, Del Monte Fruit, Tomatoes, and Veggies FREE (my coupon from today's insert is $1 off 5 cans, so this deal would be $0.35 per can wyb 10 cans- still a good deal), Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing FREE, Ronzoni Pasta FREE, Philly Cream Cheese $0.25 each, Ziploc Bags $0.50 each.

Walgreens: From Cincinnati Cents, Zegerid OTC FREE, Thermacare Heat Wrap FREE, Crest Toothpaste FREE, Carmex Lotion $0.99 (usually $5), Kotex $1.50 each, Tilex or Formula 409 $1 each, Campbell's Cream of Chicken or Msh Soup $0.29 each, Trident Gum FREE, Reach Dental Floss FREE, Gain Dish Liquid FREE.

CVS: From Deal Seeking Mom, $7 worth of Revlon Make-up FREE after ECB, Bayer Blood Glucose Meter FREE (always check to see if the test strips are formulary for your insurance, as their preferred test strips co-pay will generally be cheaper for you than a $15 free meter), Right Guard Deodorant FREE, two Edge Shave Gel for FREE, Rembrandt Toothpaste FREE, Huggies Diapers as low as $2.49 each, Pantene $1.50 each, Colgate Toothpaste $0.49, Soft Scrub $0.99.

75 FREE prints from Snapfish.

FREE custom photo book at Picaboo (pay $8.99 shipping).

***Did you know you can use a coupon-clipping service on Ebay to obtain multiple coupons you know you can get a good deal with? If you do so, I suggest you buy on Sunday, so you can take advantage of that weekly deal. Today, I am using the service to get 20 $2 off 2 almond milk coupons, plus Del Monte coupons from today's paper that will help score cheap tomatoes and fruit at Meijer this week!