Clearance Items…Clearance Items Everywhere….

I’ve always done my grocery shopping on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon.  During the week it’s just too much of a pain to try to fit in a grocery trip, no matter how quick.  However, I think I may be okay with running out on a Friday night from now on.  And here is why.

I usually do my shopping at Meijer because they seem to have better deals than Kroger.  I hadn’t realized that Friday is apparently clearance day either, because as I cruised up and down the aisles I came across way more items with an orange sticker on it than I previously had noticed during my weekend trips.  (For example, thanks to a buy two get one free coupon, I walked out with 24 bars of Dial soap – three 8-packs – for $6.72.  Regular retail price was $13.47.)  I also noticed that there were many racks of clothing with signs “Under $10” and “Under $15” with “extra 50% off taken at register” noted above them.  I resisted the urge because, while I really could use some new clothes and they did have a wide variety of jeans on clearance, we just got hit with a vet bill and a car repair bill for my husband’s car…not the best time to be throwing money around for stuff that isn’t absolutely necessary to purchase right now.

This could be both good and bad for my budget.  I’m definitely still learning the difference between “want” and “need.”

Where is your favorite place to shop and when do they tend to do their markdowns?

Advertisements

Lengthy Hiatus

It’s been a long time since my last blog post and a lot of things have changed.  I still coupon, but with my family being a little larger now (I added a husband and stepson in October 2014) it is a little more difficult to stretch those dollars.  For instance, health issues dictate that I shouldn’t be eating anything that comes out of a package and other family members are picky about what kind of deodorants and body washes they will use.  Men, I swear.

I have actually found a new way to save a lot of money on beef.  It’s very worth it, if you don’t mind spending a LOT of money up front.  Last summer, I had the opportunity to buy half a cow (my parents buying the other half), as I found that a distant relative has a farm and raises cattle.  After all was said and done, I came home with roughly 255 lbs of ground beef, roasts, ribs, liver, and an ungodly number of delicious steaks, and it all ended up costing $3.25/lb., even after the processing fees.  No preservatives, no antibiotics or other additives, just beef.  Luckily, my husband’s coworker let him have an old upright freezer for $50, and we not only filled our regular kitchen freezer with tasty goodness, but the upright as well.

My husband asked the city if we could raise a couple of hens for eggs, but the answer was no.  Currently, we still buy eggs at the store some of the time, but we also get farm fresh eggs from hubby’s mom, who has upwards of 40 chickens.  (The city’s decision was perfectly okay with me, because I’m not a huge fan of chickens, or birds in general.)

I just finished up my 2015 grocery savings spreadsheet, originally downloaded from Couponing101 (now on indefinite hiatus).  Find a copy here at Couponing101 for anyone interested in tracking their savings for this year – just change the dates to match up to this calendar year.

 

 

New Beginnings

Wow, it has been a really long time since I last blogged. 

The new year has brought with it some new beginnings.  Part of the reason I was absent was due to having back surgery and subsequently being stuck in a month-long, vicodin-induced haze as I recovered (and continue to recover, as I won’t reach normal activity for another 2 1/2 months).  The other reason was that I just haven’t been couponing as much as I would like.  It’s hard to coupon effectively when your printer breaks, your entire family is with you during trips to the store (resulting in unforeseen purchases), and you’re too frazzled and pumped full of pain medication to remember to check all of your resources, both on paper and online, for savings.  Bummer, man.

Being off work, however, has forced me to make almost every single one of our meals at home.  I have found that I can’t eat anything with MSG (or its cheaper alternative, autolyzed yeast extract) without suffering from a migraine.  Plus, preparing meals at home has saved us a lot of money.  Less convenient for sure with our busy work schedules, but doing all the cooking on the weekends and freezing those meals for later will make it a little easier.  I was so bored last weekend that I got the brilliant idea of learning how to bake bread.  I don’t think I’ll ever eat store-bought sliced bread again.

I just received my package of 30 Georgia Pacific paper towel rolls from Amazon Subscribe & Save for $22.  Thirty.  Rolls.  That’ll last us a good six months, and at $0.75/roll, it’s a good price.  I also managed to snag 85 Cascade dishwashing tablets for $12, 40 lbs. of Arm & Hammer cat litter for $15, and 40 double rolls of Angel Soft for $16.  I love Subscribe & Save, mostly because it saves money, but also because the free delivery saves me from having to drag my butt out of the house to pick everything up. 

So now I am feeling better, eating better, and will be back at work on Monday (bad in that I have not gotten completely tired of not working, but good in that I am desperately needing a regular paycheck).  Hopefully, 2014 will bring with it a lot of great things, and a lot of great savings!

Happy birthday, little bug!

Three years ago yesterday, on August 28, my daughter was born.

I’m honestly surprised by how depressed I feel. I’ve spent the last three years waiting impatiently for her to hurry and grow up, to get out of the baby and toddler stages. We are still working on eating like a normal human being (she hates using utensils, so she ends up with food everywhere), potty-training has been in the beginning stages at best for exactly one year, and the terrible twos continue to rage on after 18 months, but there are other things she has surpassed (coloring on the walls and putting everything in her mouth, for instance) and ways in which she has begun to assert her independence.

There is still a part of me that can’t wait until she is old enough to do things on her own, to not require as much careful supervision, and to help around the house. But there is also a part of me that misses the middle-of-the-night feedings, the constant snuggling, the adorable onesies (especially around Halloween), formula breath, baby toys, watching them kick their chubby little baby legs, and bottles. (Luckily, we have not yet left the stage where everyone comments on “just how adorable” she is, or I would have one more thing to be melancholy about.)

Even though the kids are older, we still go through a lot of this! Thank God for Walgreen’s Buy One Get Two Free sales!

 I understand that there are people out there who are going to revile me for my honesty and think that I don’t appreciate what I have, especially if they are unable to have children themselves. I love my kids and I wouldn’t trade them for the child-free life. But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the ability to be spontaneous and do things whenever I wanted without arranging for a babysitter first. Or lay in bed all day when I’m sick instead of being up and around taking care of them when my head is pounding and I’m nauseated beyond all belief. I don’t think that makes me selfish or any less of a parent, nor do I truly care if anyone thinks that it does.Happy birthday, Buggy K…you are beautiful, intelligent, sweet, and full of personality. Your headstrong attitude will take you places. We always have and always will have a special bond, you and I. And no matter how old you are, you will always be my baby girl.

To get back on the couponing topic, Walgreens is currently having a Buy One Get Two Free sale on Purex laundry detergent and UltraPacks.  Buy one at $5.99, get two free – and you may even have a $1.00/2 coupon (exp. 9/1) from your Sunday paper inserts.  I paid $5.15 (including tax) for my three-bottle haul (regular retail price was $17.97)!  Whenever these deals run, take advantage and stock up. 

Dazed and cornfused

A couple of weeks back, my boyfriend procured two dozen ears of corn, freshly picked from the field.  Suffice it to say, I’m going to be getting a little creative with corn for the next couple of months.  I spent yesterday afternoon shucking, blanching, and wrapping the corn for storage in the freezer.  My next project?  Homemade salsa, and possibly (okay, definitely) learning how to can.     

Truth is, I need something to do.  For many years, I made soap – in fact, I supplemented my income through college and shortly thereafter by soapmaking and selling full- and guest-sized bars on auction sites.  This October, not only will I be returning to soap, but I will also be trying my hand at sugar scrubs, some scented with pumpkin, others with vanilla.  I love being able to choose my own fragrances and design my own products, and I love sharing my creations with family and friends.  But, while I am branching out into new and undiscovered (by me) territory in the realm of bath and body products, I would kind of like to break into the realm of food as well.

The work schedules of my boyfriend and I conflict, so I have a lot of downtime in which I find myself needing some kind of entertainment.  Previously, I filled it solely with couponing, that magical substitute money.  Now I want to learn what I can do to stretch those dozens of ears of corn and bagfuls of garden-fresh tomatoes to comfortably feed my family throughout the change of seasons.

I hate to cook, so this idea is somewhat terrifying, and potentially a huge waste of time and money if a) things don’t go well or b) I find I hate canning – or both.  But I’ve never been one to shy away from trying things, so if nothing else it will be a lesson learned. 

(Side note: I get out, I swear I do, but it’s rare to not have at least one of the kids.  Trying to organize a date night – or day – is ridiculously taxing, even though it only happens once a month!  This way I can stay at home and hopefully stay busy and productive…and retain a bit of sanity, too!)

Amazon = Amazing!

For awhile now, Amazon has had an option to Subscribe & Save. If you have never heard of the concept, you can basically buy product in bulk at a discount. Here is a brief run-down:

All Subscribe & Save orders receive a discount over the regular price of the item. The discount you receive for each order will be calculated off the Amazon.com price for the item on the day each order is placed. Therefore, if the price of the item increases or decreases, the amount you are charged may also increase or decrease.
The current discount percentage for each item is posted on the product detail page when you sign up. Amazon reserves the right to change the discount amount at any time. If an item has already shipped before the discount percentage changes, you will receive the old discount percentage on that order but will receive the new discount percentage on future orders.
Did you know that when you have 5 or more subscriptions arriving on your monthly Subscribe & Save delivery day, you save 20% off on your entire delivery? Please note that Diapers & wipes count toward your 5 items, but aren’t eligible for more than 5% savings except for Amazon Mom members.

A full description of Subscribe & Save can be found here.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t initially sold on the idea. I love coupons, and I figured what I saved using Amazon’s subscription program wouldn’t amount to what I could save if I just went to the store. However…I’ve changed my mind. And here is why.

Yesterday, I signed up for Amazon Mom. I purchased a box of 192 diapers for $47. I received a discount of $25 off my first purchase for subscribing. On top of that, I got the standard 20% off discount that you receive for choosing a subscription over a one-time shipment. And then, on top of that, this particular product had a clippable coupon worth $1.50. That’s right…Amazon offers clippable coupons on select merchandise. My 192 diapers cost less than $12, which comes out to $0.06 per diaper. Major win!

While you are not going to see this kind of savings each and every time, Amazon’s subscription option is a definite go-to in my opinion for items that you consistently use if you have the storage space. (Which, if you are an avid couponer, even a realistic one, you should have!)

An extra tip – sign up for Mypoints (comment for a referral link) and earn points per dollar on every order you place through Amazon. You will earn rewards in the form of gift cards, starting at $10 at most major retailers. You may opt for Amazon gift cards, which you can then put towards your Subscribe & Save account, giving you an even bigger discount! I call it “looping,” but whatever you want to call it, it is a pretty sweet deal.

Battle scars

Sometimes I like to blog about things other than couponing. Right now is one of those times.

I have always have a problem with body image. I am 5’5″ and have never weighed over 130 lbs. in my entire life (aside from the two times I was pregnant, which I am not counting for obvious reasons). At the moment, I am 122 lbs., having shed 8 lbs. over the past month in an attempt to feel better about myself. But the sad reality is, no matter how much weight I shed, I won’t.

I have always seen my body differently from other people. The first issue I had was with my nose. As a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to get a nose job. Now, at 33, I’m finally at peace with it.

But I’m not at peace with my stomach.

As a young adult, I had the perfect flat stomach. At the time, I didn’t realize that there was nothing wrong with my body. I always felt like I could always be thinner, and I went through diet after starvation diet, trying to achieve what I thought was perfection. I got my weight down to 102 lbs. at one point and people asked me if I was sick. I still thought I weighed too much. (I found out later that I was suffering from undiagnosed depression.)

After having had abdominal surgery to remove a 36″ ovarian cyst at the age of 22, it became blatantly obvious that I was formerly out of touch with reality. And maybe I still am. I look at my somewhat misshapen stomach, stitched up (in my opinion) awkwardly, and I’m completely disgusted. I don’t listen when I am told that there is nothing wrong with the way I look, that my stomach is fine, and that even if my stomach isn’t flat it doesn’t matter, I’m loved anyway. I am glad that other people can overlook my flaws, but I’m disturbed by the fact that I can’t. They are my flaws; don’t most people only care about what other people think? Why am I having the reverse problem?

I researched tummy tucks, only to find out about the many risks involved, as well as obvious scarring…and having already dealt with odd scarring from my previous surgical procedure, I really don’t want to risk even more. It is expensive ($3,000+) and recovery time is far longer than I hoped. As well, there is far more involved in terms of aftercare than I imagined.

I tried exercise, but nothing I do seemed to make a difference. My stomach is still odd, still somewhat flabby. I entertained the idea of a personal trainer before realizing that those are out of my price range, too.

I may “look great for having had two kids.” But for me, that is not enough. I want to look great, period. I want the body back that I didn’t realize I had before it was gone. But most of all, for once in my life, I want to feel comfortable in my own skin.

EDIT: I contacted a plastic surgeon here in Cincinnati who does free consultations. So…I’m mulling over the idea of going in just to see what they have to say, if nothing else. It’s definitely a hefty bill, but it may be worth it in the long run.