Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Blog is One Year Old

I almost missed my anniversary. Well, technically since it's after midnight and I'm still tapping away at this computer, I did miss it because September 29 was my first blog post. It all started with a date night to see the movie, "Julie and Julia," and this is what I wrote.

I've learned so much in one year, and my blog has evolved along with me. I'm not sure what direction it will take over the next year, but I thank you for joining me for the journey. Blogging for me is much more than sharing deals or even tips for going green. It's a means to achieve balance in my life. I love being a SAHM to three young kids, but I need to write like I need to breath.

I hope that my blog has some value in your life: whether it's saving you money, inspiring you to connect with your community, or simply encouraging you to live life to the fullest. Take today and do something great with it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Couponing for Charity 9/26-10/2 & Update #22

Sorry I've been a little slack in the reporting of deals and updates on my finds lately. I'll try to catch up here. I just delivered a box of goods to Iva's Place, with some of these deals in it, but for simplicity's sake, I'm starting my totals over for the next batch.

First of all, here are this week's deals. If you're going to pick one, head to Walgreen's, especially if you have some register rewards from previous shopping trips that might expire soon. Go here for Southern Saver's match-ups and here for Coupon Katie's picks. Here's what I bought today:

1 Highlands cold & cough children's medicine--all natural! ($5, get $5RR, used $1.50 printable here=$1.50MM; thanks, Katie! Note: You can only print one.)
1 Vicks Sinex spray ($6, get $2RR, used $4 MC from 9/26 paper=FREE)
1 EmergenC vitamin C packs ($3.50, get $3.50RR=FREE)
2 Wet Ones (normally $3 each, on sale for $2.50 each, used $1/2 Walgreens coupon in monthly book and $1/2 MC from October All You magazine = $1.50 each)
1 Fullbar ($1.99, get $1.99RR)
--Since I didn't have coupons for Fullbar and the vitamin C, I used a $2RR and $1RR from previous trips.

Total spent: $12.92
Total saved: $18.47
RRs for next time: $10.50

But wait, you say! You should have gotten $12.50 in RR! Important tip: always check your RRs before you leave the store. Thankfully I did and realized the RR for the Fullbar did not print. When I questioned it, I got a snippy attitude from the cashier that it must have been because I used a RR. The truth is that the Fullbar in the ad is a new product and they didn't have that specific one on the floor yet. So they refunded my $1.99 with tax ($2.17). So my actual total spent was $10.75 and they let me keep my savings from my RR.

Here's another important tip: if you don't see the deal, ask a manager. The EmergenC was not with the vitamins but near the lip balms--huh? and the Highlands and Vicks had been cleared out. He went in the back and found some more for me. Sweet! His extra effort made up for the snippy clerk.

For Southern Saver's CVS match-ups, go here. For Coupon Katie's CVS picks, go here. Excited about getting a FREE Oral B rechargeable toothbrush, I then headed to CVS. When I didn't see them and asked a manager, he simply replied, "We're all out." End of conversation. If I happen to be out at another part of town this week, I may try another store, but you should call ahead. The Olay deals were enticing but the coupons I had didn't match the items on sale. I also didn't get any of the Colgate coupons printed at the kiosk; so those weren't free. They don't carry the XL versions of HP ink cartridges; so that was no deal. Can you believe I walked out of CVS with nothing?! Sad but true. You can't win 'em all.

I didn't score any freebies at Kroger either, but Coupon Katie did. Check her list before heading out. And if you haven't heard, Kroger is no longer letting us "stack" paper coupons and digital coupons for the same product--it's one or the other. That will do away with a lot of deals, but I'll still shop there. I just warn you to think twice about which e-savers you load onto your card now, because you have to swipe your card before they run the paper coupons (to double them). So the digital saver will come off first and they probably won't honor the paper coupon. Paper coupons are usually the bigger saver since they can often be doubled.

Since I'll be keeping all of today's Walgreen's deals for our medicine cabinet, none of those will go towards my charity total. Here are the deals from previous weeks I had not yet totaled:

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE TO DATE: 1 lotion ($4.99--free with RR & coupons, 1 toothpaste ($2.99--free with RR & coupon), 2 heat wraps ($2.49 each--free with RR & coupon), 2 lip balms ($2.99--free with RR & coupon), 1 body wash ($5.99--$1MM with ECB and coupon), 1 shaving get ($3.99--free after ECB and coupon), 1 lipstick ($7.99--free with ECB and coupon)
TOTAL SPENT: -$1 (that's negative one dollar)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Couponing for Charity: Donations #2

It took a few weeks to make it happen, but I've finally delivered the second batch of Couponing for Charity goods. Every three months, the Northwest Knoxville chapter of MOMS Club gathers the freebies and good deals we've been able to get through couponing and chooses a different local organization to benefit.

Our first recipient in June was the Volunteer Ministry Center. Our second recipient was Iva's Place, a crisis center for women, in Lenoir City. It's a shelter and resource center for victims of domestic violence: women and children. They give a scary statistic on their website: one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime! Given the nature of their clients, they are a bit secretive about their location, but let's just say it's off the beaten path.

I had actually planned to deliver this batch of goods to the Ronald McDonald house. When I called to tell them what I had, they politely said they didn't need any of those items at this time. You don't need toothpaste...soap...printer paper...pens? Really?! This response I had not considered. So I moved to the next organization we had voted on and decided to revisit the RMH in December.

When I called Iva's Place, they said they could use all the items on my list and I planned a trip. Since Devin (4) and Brooke (19 months) have been with me for nearly every run to Walgreen's and CVS, I wanted them to experience the fun of giving as well. I told Devin, "We're going to play Santa Claus today and give away a lot of those great deals Mommy is always getting at the store. Will you be Santa Claus for me?" "I be Ho Ho? Woo hoo!" he exclaimed (his nickname for SC).

I decided to head out early before the kids were tired, but it was raining hard the whole way there. The drone of pelting rain and the hum of the car were too much to resist and both kids fell asleep by the time I arrived at Iva's Place. I decided not to wake either and just drop the boxes inside. The manager seemed pleased, and I was back on the road. When Devin awoke, he asked when he got to be Ho Ho and seemed a little disappointed but got over it with the news we were going to playgroup. Maybe I'll let him wear a Santa hat when we deliver goods near Christmas.

The items we donated came from several women; so I don't know the exact values vs money spent, but most of it was free. The value of my products was $137.29 and I actually made $17.28 (which pays for the tax). If we had an excess of one item, I saved it for next time, and I pulled all the male hygiene products for another organization. Here's what we gave Iva's Place:
  • 1 curling iron
  • 1 500 count printer paper
  • 10 pens
  • 200 napkins
  • 10 feminine care
  • 5 hair & body wash
  • 2 lotions
  • 3 shampoo / conditioner
  • 1 hand soap
  • 12 toothpastes
  • 2 toothbrushes
  • 2 travel first aid kits
  • 2 packs of gum
  • 1 Breath Right strips
  • 1 lipstick
  • 3 lip balms
  • 3 razors
  • 3 shaving gels
  • 4 deodorants
  • 1 blister repair
  • 3 multi-purpose eye solution
  • 2 heat wraps
  • 1 box nutri-grain bars
  • 1 fiber supplement
Once again, I felt a little tug as I set the box down and walked away. This wasn't just stuff; these were "my deals." This was the time and effort I had poured into searching the weekly sale flyers, printing coupons, and clipping, clipping, clipping. If I didn't enjoy the hunt, I wouldn't do it, but it is hard work at times--especially with kids in tow. Regardless, this is how I'm able to give far more than I normally would, and it feels good to have a fruitful mission.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our Favorite Restaurant

Note: I have no affiliation with this restaurant and they did not know I would be writing this post.

We do not eat out that often--maybe once or twice a month. Our kids are finally at an age where we feel comfortable taking them to restaurants without dreading a disaster. So when I say this is our favorite restaurant--for either date night alone or with the family--that's a big deal.

It's called the Flatwater Grill and it's located on Melton Lake Drive in Oak Ridge.
You could go for the ambiance and great views of the lake alone, but the food is what keeps bringing us back. The chef won "Knoxville's Top Chef" honors in a charity competition in 2009. We've tried a variety of dishes and have never been disappointed: steak, shrimp, crab, fish--you can't go wrong. And every dish comes with a soup or salad and two sides. You might question "grilled broccoli" but it's quite delicious, and the scalloped potatoes are tasty without being a heart-attack special. The portions are impressive and we always take some home. The kids menu has some of the typical fare like chicken strips, grilled cheese, and french fries, but they also offer grilled chicken breast, carrots, and baked apples. And their bread is awesome.

To top it all off, the prices are reasonable ($14-$25 for an all-inclusive entree). Tonight we went to celebrate both boys' birthdays (within six days of each other) and they surprised us with a free birthday ice cream. It was ginormous! All five of us shared it and it was plenty: vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce. Bobby left the restaurant saying, "That was the best birthday dinner ever!"

And if you happen to have a boat, you could have the added novelty of arriving and departing by water. The saddest part to me is that the restaurant is never full. Oh, I love never having to wait for a table and that our food is delivered promptly, but I want them to have enough customers that they'll be around another 20 years. I'm really hoping they'll sign up for a Groupon or Flutter Today to attract new customers. If they do, you can bet I'll jump on it and will encourage you to do the same. Give them a try, but don't bother telling them Bluefrog sent you; they have no idea who I am!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reverse Trick or Treating

I'll admit I love chocolate and have not really paid much attention to whether it's "fair trade" or not, but I'm trying to expand my horizons. Here's a neat concept that I encourage all you "greeniacs" to take advantage of for Halloween. This is for anyone in the U.S. or Canada. You can be a part in educating others about the importance of fair trade products through a process called Reverse Trick or Treating.

Thanks to Global Exchange and several other great partners, each requesting individual will receive 15 cards with chocolates for FREE (you pay S&H of $5.50). Organizations (schools, congregations, youth groups, etc.) can order them for $24 for a box of 150. You must agree to have your kids distribute them to adults to participate. Order them through October 8 or while supplies last; individuals get a leg up if you order before October 1 when it's open to organizations. I just ordered mine yesterday.

Do you buy fair trade chocolate? What do you think of this concept?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch: Save 60%

I was very excited to read my Groupon deal of the day at Oakes Farm. They've changed to a "general admission" policy that gets you everything for one price: the hayride, the corn maze, and a whole kids area.

Without the discount, here are the prices:
The new General Admission:
$10.00 Ages 11 & up Children
$8.00 Ages 3-10
Add a pumpkin for $5.00
Group discount (20 or more) - $2.00 off per person

If you sign up for today's Groupon deal, you'll get 2 general admission tickets for $10. Plus, if you go Wed - Fri (when they open at 6pm), you'll also get a free pumpkin. You can buy up to 3 deals. I bought two for the four of us who need to pay and we'll get two free pumpkins--all for $20. I'm actually looking forward to avoiding the weekend crowds. Checking out the farm at dusk should be fun.

Will you buy the deal?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Great Earthfare Giveaway

Hannah at Frugally Farming Family has orchestrated an awesome give-away from Earthfare. How she does anything extra with a newborn and six other children (yep, seven kids) is beyond me! Go to her site to find out three ways to win $25 of groceries from Earthfare and a pantry make-over: total value is $40-$45! Cha ching! You have til October 1.

The winner must be local to Knoxville and available to take a tour of of the store with Mike Newman of Earthfare. Personally, I'd love a guided tour. I'm sure I'm missing all kinds of great goods.

And Hannah is also the one who does the monthly match-ups of coupons with Earthfare's sale items. So be sure to enter today! I will be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Couponing for Charity 9/19-25

Many apologies to those of you looking for last week's Couponing for Charity. I was able to score some great deals, but once again my dog ate some of my deals. Unfortunately, it was chocolate...and then there were incredible messes...which required an extra trip to the pet store for cleaner...After steam cleaning all our carpets, I finally feel like we're back on track. Lesson learned: put your groceries away immediately! Sigh.

This week I'll definitely be heading to CVS, the store I'd pick if you want to try just one. Remember to get these deals, you have to use your CVS loyalty card. You can sign up for one for free in any store. For all the match-ups, see Southern Savers. For Coupon Katie's picks, go here. Personally, I'll be going for the deodorant money maker, the free lipsticks, the free shaving gel, the $.50 oatmeal and maybe Pure Protein bars, tuna, Clorox, and Dove minis. Last week, we got the benefit of an additional $4 savings for spending $20 simply by shopping on specific days. Check local bloggers like Coupon Katie for these types of deals.

Walgreen's has some decent deals and a few freebies. For all the match-ups, see Southern Savers. For Coupon Katie's picks, go here. I'll have to let you know later if I grab any of these deals with an update for both last week and this week.

Finally, Kroger has a decent sale on frozen Green Giant veggies, especially with the new $.50 coupons. Thanks Knoxville on a Dime. Plus the catalina deal gives you $1 back on 4, $2 on 6 and $3 on 8. Make sure you check the e-savers at and to save even more. Some non-profits do accept frozen foods as donations. And Staples has free post-it notes. Click here for those details.

Printer Ink: How do you save?

A few months ago, when Walgreen's had ink refills for just $1, I decided to give it a try. I've since been very pleased with the refill process (which averages $10 on sale--even for the XL size). I think I've refilled one cartridge 2 or 3 times.

However, yesterday my printer decided this cartridge was "not compatible." Not sure why, but the end result is I can't print.

So I searched online for prices for my cartridge and found Staples, OfficeMax, and Office Depot had the same price. I chose Staples because they have a number of ways to save on ink.

1. I had a 10% coupon mailed to me for being a Staples Rewards member.
2. You earn 10% back in Staples Rewards for any ink purchase.
3. If you spend more than $59 in one visit on ink, you earn $5 in Staples rewards for each cartridge you recycle ($2 if you spend less). I was bummed when I realized I forgot two cartridges to recycle, but they said I could bring them any time.
4. Since I also have a business, they've sent me a coupon that allows me to save $25 on orders of $75 or more. Plus, all orders over $50 are shipped for free. Since one B&W XL and one color XL cartridge for my printer cost $76, I think I'll order ahead.

I'll still try the Walgreen's refills for 1 or 2 times per cartridge, but a couponer needs a reliable printer! How do you save on ink?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Farmers' Market Finds

Today I took all three kids to the Market Square Farmers Market and was very pleased with my purchases. Sometimes all the booths can be overwhelming and you feel paralyzed, "What should I buy?" Ultimately it comes down to what you like and what you're willing to try.

For veggies, I picked up some unique looking summer squash ($2.75/lb), tomatoes ($3/lb) that I plan to dehydrate to make sun dried tomatoes, and swiss chard ($2/bunch) he suggested I saute with garlic. Tonight's dinner was beef stew, and a fresh french baguette ($5) was the perfect addition.

Since Gabrielle at Couponing in Critical Times had raved about the goat cheese (yep, ran into her at the market), I picked up 5 oz of the italian herb variety ($6) from Kira's Kids Dairy. Kira is a goat who's had 29 kids. Larry Banks milks the goats and his wife Kimberly makes the cheese. The cheese is melt-in-your-mouth and can be used on sandwiches instead of mayo, on baguettes, on pizza, or in a variety of recipes.

I had also never tried Cruze Dairy Farm products until ice cream samples were presented to my sons. They gobbled them down quickly, knowing chocolate before noon was a rare treat indeed. "Mmmmmm" was all they could say. We also sampled some of their milk, and I decided on a half gallon of chocolate and a half gallon of whole (for Brooke). Together they were $5 but SO worth it. Bobby commented on the chocolate milk at dinner, "It takes like the ice cream, just melted." Yes, it did! Since we go through 3-4 gallons of milk a week in our home, I'm not ready to pay their prices for all our milk, but sometimes you've just gotta splurge for good health's sake.

I guess that's why I shop the farmers' markets at all. I know the prices are more than I could get at Kroger, but my couponing allows me the luxury of spending more here. I'm willing to pay more for A. local, B. fresher, C. tastier D. healthier. Personally, I seek out the stands that are "Certified Naturally Grown" (a certification similar to organic). We have no local organic farmers because of the money involved in becoming certified organic, but I commend those who make sustainable choices in farming.

Some of my favorites are the Colvin Family Farm, Mountain Meadows Farm, Organicism Farms, and Bob Due's Terraced Gardens Farm. I'm considering joining one of their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. You pay $20 - $30 a week and get a variety of the freshest fruits and vegetables that farm produces. I saw one woman picking up her box, and I was impressed.

At the end of the market, I had spent $31. But Bobby's response for "Why do we shop at the farmer's market?" was priceless. "Because they sell healthy food. After all, they're farmers!" Ahh, something is sinking in. ;-)

Please continue to check out the farmers markets around town through Thanksgiving (I think). There is one every day but Monday and Sunday I believe. And if there's a UT home game, go early to get a parking space!

Which markets do you frequent? What are your favorite items to pick up at the markets?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday Give-aways

If you haven't checked out Sharing Savings with You, a local coupon blogger, I encourage you to do so. Each Thursday she sponsors a give-away and offers four ways to win. Last week I actually won some hair bows for Brooke, and I can't wait to give them a try. My friends who keep telling me to put a clip, hairband, bow....something in her hair are thankful too!

Today she has two give-aways, and you have til 9/22 to enter. The first is a set of hand-made Halloween cards. The second is some hand-crafted pumpkin earrings. Both are from artists on Etsy. While you're there, check out her other money-saving posts. Thanks for the ideas for helping us stretch our dollars further, Julie!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blogging on Knoxmoms

Hi all,

I'm sorry I haven't had much new for you to enjoy lately. I've been tied up in various projects and I've begun blogging regularly for The Momshare portion has a lot of great subjects on it. Today alone, I've posted:
  • about my dog eating chocolate
  • the wonderful green product I found on sale that I used to clean up after my dog eating chocolate
  • why today was a great day to save money at CVS
  • the most important item to bring to the park
  • where kids can milk a real cow
  • and my "brilliant find"--Glasslock storage containers
If you get a chance, check it out and leave a comment if you're so inspired. I'll be back; I promise!

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Perfect White Tulip

Photo courtesy of Mitzi Bodie, Bodie Photo.

I decided to post the first story I ever had published after reading Knoxville MamaBelle's honest post sharing news of her miscarriage three months ago. I experienced two miscarriages between my three babies close to the end of the first trimester. I planted bulbs as a grieving process one October and wrote this essay the following April. It was published in the May edition of EvaMag and thus began my writing "career." Something beautiful and life-changing did emerge from that sad loss.

If you are experiencing a miscarriage or loss of a loved one at any age or if you want to celebrate the birth of a child, I encourage you to plant flowers in their honor. It's best right as the weather starts to turn cold, mid to late October. Now is a good time to purchase bulbs.

Gabrielle at Couponing in Critical Times has this good post about buying and planting bulbs. She recommends buying them online through Van Engelen or John Scheepers (same company, different divisions) for the best quality, selection, and customer service. Locally, she mentioned Saplings and Stanley's. story.

One perfect white tulip. There it is like a beacon in a sea of fuchsia. Five months ago, I thought I had planted red tulips, but they have emerged pink…with the exception of this one pure specimen. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for this anomaly. But my heart has its own theory.

On October 11, my plans for the future took a terrible blow. I was 10 ½ weeks pregnant and already picking names for my second child. Will my two-year-old have a brother or a sister? Will he be as active and daring as our first? Will she be artistic, good with numbers, or just happy to explore the world around her? The possibilities seemed endless. I hadn’t counted on the possibility that they would never come true.

I know the statistics of miscarriage are staggering: 1 in 4 clinically recognized pregnancies end this way. Due to the number of unknown pregnancies, an estimated 50-75% of all conceptions may result in loss. And it doesn’t help that I’m in my mid-30’s. But when I first discovered the blood, I was in a state of disbelief. I had no cramping and I FELT pregnant: tired, a little dizzy, and did I mention tired? Maybe there was nothing to worry about. Three days later, my fears were confirmed. I had clearly lost the baby.

My husband had been very supportive during those days of uncertainty, but at the moment of what I call the “passage,” I was all alone…just like that perfect tulip. A friend had advised me to see the experience like birth. Trust your body; your body knows what to do. There are several parallels but with a sadder ending. When the miscarriage was over, I felt empty.

The next two days I cried a lot. Just when I thought I was getting better, anger set in. I felt like Sally Field in “Steel Magnolias,” my grief racing from one emotion to another. I had no sense of control. That’s really what this all boiled down to…loss of control with this birth and the question of whether I’d ever have another child.

I decided to help myself heal through four ideas I could control: journaling, prayer, riding a mechanical bull, and planting some bulbs in honor of my lost soul. I unloaded my honest feelings in the first two. I tried to get some girlfriends together to support me in riding that bull, but the holidays came and days slipped away. The best positive step I took in healing was digging in the dirt on a crisp autumn day beside my father. He had helped me plant bulbs in honor of my first child’s birth, and he had helped my mother plant bulbs in honor of my birth. I was secretly afraid the bulbs would not bloom; wouldn’t that be a kicker?! But I decided seeing their beauty rise from the earth each year was worth the risk that some wouldn’t make it. Trust Mother Nature; she knows what to do.

It’s now March, and brilliant color greets all who pass our house. Neighbors come to take pictures near the tulips. I proudly show my son the flowers he had helped plant. But what strikes me most is the surprise of that one perfect white tulip. Feeling heaven wink my way, I am finding peace with my loss and faith in new beginnings. I smile and pat my belly, for I am pregnant once again.


16,438 women become pregnant

11,018 women give birth

4,780 women endure a pregnancy loss

8,219 women experience an unplanned pregnancy

1,172 women become pregnant while uninsured

5,479 couples begin to struggle with infertility issues

Source: (2006)

Friday, September 10, 2010

The "Don't Miss" Consignment Sale: 9/11

I'll admit Knoxville has a lot of consignment sales. I look at it as a way for everyone to spread out and choose the sale that's right for them. In my humble and somewhat biased opinion, I think the best consignment sale is sponsored by MOMS Club. Full disclaimer: I'm a member of MOMS Club and will be consigning at this sale.

That aside, I do have my Top 5 reasons for why this is the BEST consignment sale in Knoxville:
  1. The goods are largely from stay-at-home-moms of young children. They know what toys and clothes that are desirable and worth the effort to sell. We're all savvy shoppers and price our goods to sell. We don't want to lug all that stuff back home!
  2. We attract a lot of sellers because the take-home percentage is the highest I've seen.
  3. Though we are a non-profit, a strong element of the club is charitable giving. This is our largest fund-raiser of the year, and a portion of our sales will be donated primarily to local charities.
  4. The regular sale is busy but not a mad-house. I can't stress how this is the biggest draw for me because I've sworn off certain sales (which shall remain nameless) because they are sheer chaos. I work the morning shift and rarely see more than 4 people waiting in the check-out line.
  5. The half-price sale is VERY popular. Ok, the half-price sale does draw the true bargain hunters in by the swarms. So if you want the BEST deals, start lining up before noon and be prepared for slightly longer lines. And remember if it has a red dot on the tag, it does NOT sale for half price.

Here are all the details you need:
When: Saturday, September 11
Who: MOMS Club (Farragut and Northwest Knoxville chapters)
Where: Farragut United Methodist Church
12733 Kingston Pike, Farragut (closest to Watt Rd.)
Times: Regular sale: 8-11am; half-price sale: noon - 2:30pm
Directions: Unless you're in Farragut, I'd suggest taking 40 West, exit Watt Road, turn left and then another left onto Kingston Pike. The church is less than a minute down on your left.

I'll post pictures from the pre-sale later tonight. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Couponing for Charity 9/5-11 & Update #21

Monday I posted this week's deals for charity and last night I had a chance to see what was really out there. Tip: If you shop at CVS TODAY, 9/8, your card should print out a $3 off $10 of groceries at the kiosk. The manager last night offered to let me use that a day early; so I got to save too. The term "groceries" might be a loose one, because I technically didn't have $10 of food items considering the sales prices but it didn't beep as invalid. Here are my finds, most of which are good through Saturday.

  • 1 big box Huggies (normally $22.99, on sale for $20, spend $25 of qualifying products, get $10ECB; limit 1)
  • 1 bottle Johnson & Johnson shampoo (normally $4.49, on sale for $2.50; is one of the qualifying products noted above)
  • 1 bottle Johnson & Johnson baby bubble bath & wash (same deal as shampoo; all three products qualified me for a $10ECB)
  • 1 Hydro razor ($8.97, get $4ECB; limit 1)
  • 1 Hydro shave cream ($3.99 but was free with a peelie coupon attached to the razor)
  • 2 Trident Layers gum (normally $1.49 each; on sale for $.99; get $.99ECB; limit 1)
  • 4 Kellogg's Raison Bran (normally $3.99; on sale through Tuesday for $1.77; now they'll cost $2.50 each; limit 4)
Total before coupons: $47.02
  • Used $3 Huggies printable here
  • Used $1/1 coupon from mailer for shampoo
  • Used $1/1 Johnson & Johnson printable here; note: the $2/2 printable won't work because the bedtime products are not on sale. The price for all three products after coupons and ECBs was $10.
  • Used $5 off Hydro razor from paper (ECBs and coupon makes it free)
  • Used "get free saving lotion when you purchase a razor" peelie attached to the razor, making the shaving cream free.
  • Used $1/2 Trident printable here (ECB and coupon made both free)
  • Used 2 $1/2 Kellogg's coupons from paper
  • Used $3 off $10 of grocery CVS coupon from kiosk
  • Used $20.99 in ECBs from previous shopping trips
Total paid with tax: $9.92
Total saved: $57.85
ECBs for next time: $14.99

At Kroger I saved 37% but only got one freebie which I'll be keeping: Reach dental floss. You can print two $1/1 Reach products here to get two free packs. When I did that last week, the catalina gave me another $1/1 Reach coupon which I used last night. Much to my surprise, they gave me yet another one. I'll keep "buying" as long as they're printing.

Since I didn't post about last week's finds, here are my totals for both weeks:

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE THIS WEEK: 2 tubes toothpaste ($.25 each after coupons & RRs), 2 feminine care (free after RRs), 2 lip balms (free after RRs), 3 deodorants ($.25 each after coupons), 1 razor (free after coupons and ECBs), 2 packs of gum (free after coupons and ECBs),
TOTAL VALUE OF PRODUCTS THIS WEEK: $28.91 (actually more but I don't have the non-sale prices on most)

TOTAL PRODUCTS TO DONATE TO DATE: 10 pens, 3 multi-purpose eye solutions, 1 shampoo, 8 feminine care, 1 pack of napkins, 1 pack of paper, 7 toothpastes, 2 toothbrushes, 4 deodorants, 2 first aid kits, 2 boxes of crayons, 1 fiber supplement, 2 razors, 2 lip balms, 2 packs of gum
TOTAL SPENT: --$17.28 (yep, that's negative)

What deals get you excited this week?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Couponing for Charity 9/5-11

Yes, it's Monday night and I'm just now posting this week's deals, but hasn't the weather been fabulous? I hope you've been able to enjoy some of it this Labor Day weekend.

If you're going to pick one store this week, head to CVS. Here are Southern Saver's complete match-ups and here are Coupon Katie's picks. If you shop tomorrow, you can still get Kellogg's cereals for $1.27 each (on sale for $1.77 and then use a $1/2 coupon--lots out there). The other deals good through Saturday that I plan to pick up: a big box of Huggies and 2 baby shampoo for $10, 2 free packs of gum, another free razor, and some inexpensive make-up. I should be able to get most of these for very little OOP (out of pocket) money with nearly $20 in ECBs from previous trips.

Though I have lots of RR for Walgreen's, nothing there really struck my fancy this week. I'll save them for next week. For SS's match-ups go here. For Coupon Katie's picks go here.

And despite Kroger advertising their "cart buster" event, the only possible freebies are dental floss and deodorant if you have the coupons. See details at SS here. Southern Savers warns that some of the "great deals" this week aren't so great. So look closely at the savings (many less than ten cents).

As we've finished another three months of gathering freebies, it's time to donate again. I'm finalizing our next donation and will blog again with a picture when I have that finalized.

What deals did I miss?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Budget Totals for August

The "uber-savers" out there won't be impressed with my budgeting; so they can stop reading now. However, this is my first year to truly keep track of every penny spent and keep within a budget that's right for our family of five.

My monthly budget of $800 includes all groceries, farmer's markets, u-pick farms, clothing, craft stores, dollar stores, office supplies, dining out, pharmacies, and big box stores. I aim for $500 of that to be in groceries and $300 for everything else. Unfortunately for June and July I went over budget a total of $280. So my goal became to get out of debt by 9/30 by reducing my budget by $140 a month.

Here are the August totals:
Grocery: (3 Kroger, 1 Earthfare, 1 farmer's market, 1 Weigels for milk, and 1 trip to pick blueberries) $325.68 Saved $221.00 (40%)
Clothing: $110.31 Saved $94.02 (46%)
Office Supplies: $31.05 Saved $17.40 (36%)
Pharmacies: $45.10 Saved $197.97 (81%)
Target: $17.79 Saved $12.45 (41%)
Dining Out: $16.16 Saved $7.62 (32%)
Totals Spent: $546.09 Saved $550.46 (50%)
Rebates received: $14.96
Carryover Debt: $280
Amount Over Budget: $11.13

The good news is I almost got out of debt in half the time expected. And I had my highest percentage of savings yet: 50% overall. That gives me some more wiggle room for September because I'll be spending on two birthdays and our 12 year anniversary. Even that dinner I'll be using a coupon because a few days ago, Groupon had a deal for Baker Peters: spend $20, get $50 credit. We've never been there and I'm looking forward to it.

What tips do you have staying on budget? Do you have software that you use to track your spending / savings?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

$34 shorts for 22 cents

I used to hear about women getting these amazing deals on clothes and thought, "That would never happen for me." But today it did. I purchased a pair of ladies shorts from Kohl's that originally retailed for $34 for only 22 cents. I was giddy excitement. Here's how.

After signing up for the Kohl's emails months ago, I receive something from them about once a week. The subject line: "$10 Gift to celebrate your newly remodeled Knoxville West Kohl's store" particularly caught my eye. Tip: If you sign up for the Kohl's emails, you'll get $5 off your next in store purchase. After reading all the fine print, this was truly $10 off anything in the store (sales items not excluded) but you had to spend at least $10 before tax, it had to be redeemed by today and I could only use it once. So my mission became how close can I get to $10?

My first plan was to get some new Bakugans for Bobby's birthday next month. I was excited to see that all toys were were B1G1 half off. I found them for $5.99 and $9.99. But then I decided to check the clothes clearance racks just in case. A few months ago I had bought a Dockers skort here that I wear all the time (was wearing it today) and thought it would be great to have one in another color. Though I didn't find a skort, I did find similar Dockers my size...70% off. I was stunned to see the marked down price was $10.20. It fit like a dream and I was sold. Since they only charged me sales tax on the $.20, my total after the coupon was just $.22! That's a savings percentage of more than 99%!

Now that I've revealed my secret to my friends, they will probably tease me when they see me wearing my $.22 shorts, but I can handle it. And since I splurged on myself today instead of my kids, please let me know if you see any great deals on Bakugans before Oct. 2. Thanks!

Note: I do not have any affiliation with Kohl's and was not compensated in any way for writing this post--I just like passing on great bargains.

Discovery Channel Hostage Taker: Not My Green Team

This may seem like an odd subject for me to post on, but bare with me. Yesterday, when three hostages were taken at gunpoint by a man demanding they do more for the environment, I was moved on two levels.

One, I used to work for Discovery Channel, and even though it was several years ago, many of my old colleagues are still there. I couldn't help but think for a moment, "Do I know the hostages?" and "Had my life taken a different turn, that could have been me in there." Secondly, I would consider myself an environmentalist of sorts, trying to spread the reasons why it's good to make green choices. But let me be clear: He and I are/were NOT on the same "green team."

During the several hours of his rants with negotiators, James Lee was clearly mentally unbalanced but insisted "he had been doing too little to protect the environment." I do sincerely hope that most people do not lump all those passionate for the planet in with the nutjobs who can't see the forest for the trees.

As an avid viewer and former employee of DCI, I find it incredible that anyone could blame them for not doing enough to spotlight the needs of our planet. Discovery Channel Networks has been filled with passionate conservationists from the beginning and has spent extensive time, money, and resources in helping educate and enlighten others to protect our natural resources. And they've created my most recent favorite channel: Planet Green. It's devoted to sustainable living programming. If you have cable, I encourage you to check it out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kroger Fuel Points Reminder

If you haven't read my previous posts about the Kroger fuel points program, I have a love / hate relationship with it. I love the idea of saving money on gas when I'm buying groceries I need, but I hate that my card never works at Shell stations. And yes, I've tried all the hoops.

It has been working out that I'll gas up once a month at a Kroger fuel station, which has no problem reading my card and gets the correct amount each time. Love that; just wish there were more of the stations around town. But so far, I've redeemed every point earned.

However, today I learned a valuable lesson about the fuel points that I figured I'd pass along if you hadn't thought of it. Your available fuel points are always printed at the bottom of your receipts. If you don't use the points earned in a given month, they will roll over for one more month and then expire. A month's points are stored in "a block" of sorts and when you earn points the next month, the two can not be combined. The computer takes whichever is higher. Also fuel points under 100 do not carry over.

Yesterday I was in a hurry and didn't look at my receipt until I was home. I noticed my fuel points were 499. Since it was 8/31, only 400 points will be rolled over through 9/30 and I just lost 99 points. A few more cents--one more item, and I could have saved an additional $2 in gas. Grrr.

So if it's near the end of the month, check your balance to see if you're close to another reward and if you have points expiring, try to use those, even if it's for half a tank. Every little bit helps!