Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crazy Couponing = Crazy $$ Part II

You will find it helpful to start small. The first step can be really easy. Just start collecting coupons. You do not even have to start cutting them. Ask family and friends who get the paper, if they could give you the coupons they are not going to use. For example, my mom and my sister give me their coupons. Then, as I got more of a handle of it, we subscribed to the weekend paper. If I like the coupons, my husband will run out to buy some extras for me. For example, when the P & G insert comes out, my husband goes up the street and buys 4 papers. I know that sounds like a lot, but believe me, it will more than pay for itself.

Here are some examples of how & how much we saved:
  • Just from planning my meals, looking at the circular and bringing my coupon binder to the store I have saved $69.44 in one shopping trip to Shoprite in which I only spent $57.57. This means I purchase $127.03 worth of groceries for $57.57. Another time I saved 47.29 and spent 37.98. Most of my Shoprite trips look like this now. We save more that half our bill. It is my coupons that made the difference. I use my coupons on sale items and save big. It helps to plan you meals around what is on sale.
  • You can buy cereal for a quarter. Acme has Cheerios on sale for $1.75. You have a coupon for $.75 off one box. Acme doubles coupon under $.99 up to $1.50. Your $.75 coupon becomes a $1.50 coupon. Bingo, cereal for a quarter. Needless to say, we have a quite a stockpile of cereals. If you think that is crazy, buying diapers for $3 will make you hit the roof.
  • By looking at the blog posts from Krazy Coupon Lady and Living Rich with Coupons, I have been able to get things for free and make money. Like the time I spent $12 at CVS and received $14 in extra care bucks.
  • Rebates are wonderful. Rite Aid has a very easy rebate program, you can see this month's rebates by looking on-line or picking up a paper copy in the store. By checking my couponing blogs, I stay on top of manufacturer's rebates. The blogs list exactly what you need to buy and where to get the rebate form. One time at Right Aid, I bought $65 worth and was paid $18 to do it.
  • By combining rebates with coupons, store rewards (like CVS's extra care bucks -basically money to use on your next trip printed at the end of your receipt), and store sales, you can get some good deals. One time I bought 2 Aveeno 8 oz Daily Moisturizing lotions; 1 Aveeno Shampoo and 1 Conditioner for $1.45 plus tax (totaling $2.81). This is how: CVS had a promotion, if you brought $25 worth of select Aveeno products, you would receive $10 in extra care bucks. However the products were also on sale, which meant I actually had to spend $30 to make the $25 because 3 products where just under the $25. On the $30 purchase, I used a $4 extra care bucks, and 4 manufacturer's coupons totaling $ 6. So, out of pocket I spent $21.45, but then I got $10 in extra care bucks. On top of that, Aveeno was running a rebate in which you would receive a $10 rebate for purchasing $25 worth of Aveeno.
Next post I will explain how I made my coupon binder, and what I do with all those coupons. Later I will post on websites and individual stores.

Here is part one if you miss it:
Crazy Couponing = Crazy $$ Part I

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Crazy Couponing = Crazy $$ Part I

Cutting coupons seemed silly to me. I would have never thought I would get stuff for free by cutting coupons, and I did not even know I could be PAID to buy things I got for FREE. It is crazy! It is not easy. It is work, but is pays very well and it is fun - or at least it is for crazy type A/homeschooling moms like me. However, I do think just about anyone, of any age and gender, would love couponing.

What I am not going to do in this post is tell you how to coupon because people have already done a better job of that. For starters, you can go to Krazy Coupon Lady website and click on and read beginners. Personally, I just read the whole article and gradually started couponing, but you could do it in 10 days. Then, I would suggest you read their book, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey by Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler, the women behind the website. It is a laugh out laugh way to learn couponing. It is written to our generation, by 2 moms like us. This book was very helpful to me.

Another big help is finding other crazy couponers like yourself. It helps to have someone more experienced than you to ask questions or get tips from. It was through friends that I first learned about couponing, and I have learn a lot from them. However, if you do not know any other crazy couponing people, I think you will find the book mention above as more than acquit to equip you to coupon, and the rest you will learn on your own.

Living Rich with Coupons website is another place you can learn about couponing. She has a whole section for beginners. Later, I will do another post listing all the couponing websites, as well as all about my coupon binder, an essential accessory.

Tomorrow I will post about an easy way to start, as well as some facts and figures of how couponing has saved us a lot of money. Seeing what an average person can do, helps me see how it will fit into my own reality. It was my friends' stories of couponing that caught my ear and made me set aside time to figure it out. It is worth your time. It is money you can add to your income, and it is ALL tax free!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Felt Food

No, I don't know where I will get the time, but I feel a urge to get in touch with my crafting side and make something with my hands that can double as a form of therapy to calm my frazzled nerves. Confessions of a Homeschooler has posted in the past about felt food. She has a link to a site with free patterns and instructions at Lit'l Brown Bird's Passion. Follow the links to view exactly what felt food is and how you go about making it.

Like most of you, I have a very limited amount of "me" time. While that being a good thing, it might take me months to make anything. The point is to refresh myself in a sufficient proportion to the work God has for me, so I am going to go for it anyway and at least I can say I tried it :-) If I do actually finish a felt food project, I will post a picture, though it may take me a few months to get the picture uploaded to the blog ;-)

Click the link here for instructions and tips on felting

Click the link here for free felt patterns and tutorials

Confessions of a Homeschooler has a whole section on her tool bar for felt food. You can find other free patterns from her posts.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Play Room Problems: Wooden Train Storage

My husband and I were putting our heads together to try to organize our mound of wooden trains. Sometimes I wish I never opened the door to the Thomas the Tank Engine flood gates. The original books are wonderful, but the marketing based TV shows will end you and your dear ones in a hemp of trains. Putting the "collection" factor aside, all of my children have really enjoyed watching, reading and playing Thomas. It all started when my daughter was 2 and received a train table for Christmas. Well, 7 years and two boys later, we have quite the Thomas the Tank Engine exhibition.

The play room problem here is the boys dump the container of wooden trains or take all the trains and leave them covering the train table. Being store in a container in the train table, the trains are nicked and scratched from being all jumbled together. These problems can be prevented if each train has it's own visible spot. Here are some solutions:

  • Train Rack from Train Rack Store ~ They sell a few different size racks ranging from $19.97 to $49.97. The rack pictured here is $39.97 and fits about 30 trains. The racks are perfect, but at 60 trains and counting - Yikes! That would be about $80 bucks. Even with the free shipping, it is just too much for us to spend on train storage. Since I found this merchant by googling, you may like to know that besides his website, you can buy his racks on Ebay too.
  • Rain Gutters ~ This idea was originally for books, but I am thinking it might work for trains. It does not look as nice as the Train Rack, but whole lot cheaper. Check out how to make it here at Family Fun. We are definably going to use this idea in the book nook, but for books :-) However, it would be more permanent than the Train Rack.
  • Ledge ~ Another idea is to attach wooden track to a wooden ledge or chair rail with a flat top, then attach it to the wall. To keep cost down, we could buy the track from IKEA or any other non Thomas brand of wooden tracks. This would be more work and cost than the gutters, but it might look nicer. Also, it too would be more permanent than the Train Rack.
  • Draw Dividers ~ I am wondering if I can make draw dividers work with our existing bins in the train table (our train table came with 4 bins) or with pull out plastic drawers, which have the added benefit of keeping the trains dust free.
I will have to keep my eyes peeled for other solutions. Maybe I will wander over to the Container Store, it is a haven for type A personalities like myself. Please post your own train storage ideas.

Perhaps I can persuade the boys to ask for Train Racks for their birthday presents instead of more trains.