Thursday, September 30, 2010

Publix Trip 9/30/10

I spent $6.80 for $48.22 worth of groceries, saving $41.42 or 86%!

See my original list HERE.

(1) Old El Paso Seasoning 4/$3
   -Free wyb 2 Old El Paso Products


Coupon Changes, Prices, and Price Changes:
Cinnamon Toast Crunch BOGO $4.89 not $4.99.
Country Crock BOGO $1.95 not $1.89

*Edit* I forgot to mention I used a Dollar General $5/$25 Purchase Coupon as well.

Good Trip! I was going to pick up the Free pledge and Sundown Vitamins, but both of them were cleared out by time I got there at 10am!  I'm sure the vitamins have been gone for a few days, but the Pledge? I suspect shelf-clearing on that one because honestly it's not something people go "OMG it's on BOGO" and buy. But yeah, who knows. I'll try another Publix.

Frugal Tips for Halloween

Believe it or not, Halloween is right around the corner! Halloween can cost a pretty penny with costumes, candy, decorations, and parties! Here are some tips to cut down on all of the costs!

  • The obvious one is to buy it on sale (and with a coupon)! Halloween sales are already starting, which means BOGO candy and coupons from manufacturer's.
  • Consider a mix of the "good" candy with some cheaper candy. We all know that kids want the chocolate candy (we're talking Reese's, Twix, etc.) not Tootsie Rolls and Twizzlers. Mix them together for a lot more candy.
  • Consider not doing candy at all. I know I would have been kind of disappointed as a kid, but consider looking into fun toys and prizes instead of candy. A good site is Oriental Trading Company.
  • For older kids, consider forgoing trick or treating, and buy each kid a bag of their favorite candy.
  • If possible, buy ahead. Buy costumes on clearance after Halloween for future years. This is especially good for babies and toddlers.
  • Shop consignment. Consignment shops often have a section of Halloween costumes. 
  • Make your own costume. I've seen some really creative costumes out there that were simple and cost next to nothing, and usually they were a bigger hit than the box costume
  • Buy on clearance. You'd be amazed what you can find the day after Halloween, and you can always reuse it.
  • Check Goodwill, Craiglist, etc. You may find some great stuff there.
  • Make your own. This can be really fun for kids. Yarn can be a spider web. Foam, felt, and construction paper make bats spiders and all kinds of spooky stuff. There are tons of things you can do with a little imagination (or googling homemade Halloween decorations).
  • Keep in mind the cost of electricity and batteries for fancy interactive decorations (which often cost a ton just to purchase), and if you do buy one, buy only one. 20 decorations that make noise, light-up etc. can be overwhelming.
  • Keep it simple. Parties don't need to be filled with fancy everything. Choose to spend for one thing and cut back on others. If you want a nice meal, do less for decorations and entertainment.
  • Use an online music station for Halloween music. 
  • Plan now for a menu, and buy things as they go on sale. (Check out this month's All You for lot's of creative menu items).
  • Consider skipping the party and going to a community and/or church event.
Remember, it's not worth going into debt to impress anyone or have your kids think you are the best Mom or Dad ever. Halloween is about fun, so if you plan ahead and budget you won't have any worries!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shopping List for 9/30/10

Blue= Manufacturer's Coupon
Green= Publix
Red= Competitor's Coupon 

(2)Cinnamon Toast Crunch, 24.9, BOGO $4.99
   -$1/2 General Mills Cereal Walgreens 
   -$1/1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the Better at Home Booklet

(2)Crystal Light BOGO $4.69
   -(2)$1.50/1 Crystal Light 12 qt Cooking With Kraft No Longer Available
(2) Pace  Salsa BOGO $2.79
(2)Country Crock BOGO $1.89
   -(2)55¢/1 Blinkie
(2)Mission Soft Taco Flour Tortillas BOGO $2.59 (maybe? I'm not sure yet...)
(2)Kraft Cheese 2/$4
   -(2)$1/1 2% Printable (not sure where from) 
   -(2)$1/1 from Cooking with Kraft no longer available.
(2)Old El Paso Refried Beans  4/$5
  -$0.50/1 Old El Paso Product
Red or Golden Delicious Apples 3 lb bag $1.99
Cucumbers 2/$1 

There's also a few items I'm still deciding on, but I will update once I gather all my coupons.

How Do I Use it? Rice Part II: Types and Uses

Last week we talked about the benefits of rice and why it should be in our food storage, this week we will look at some of the different varieties of rice and what they are used for.

  • Basmati- long-grain, can be white or brown- generally used for Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine
  • Brown Rice- medium- good as a side dish
  • Brown Rice- short- good for sushi, puddings, and side dishes
  • Brown Rice- long- good for pilafs, stir-fries, paella, etc
  • Jasmine Rice- long-grain, can be white or brown- Thai dishes, stir-fry
  • Texmati- long-grain, white- uses similar to Basmati or regular rice
  • Texmati- long-grain, brown- plain, curried
  • Wehani Rice- long-grain, red rice- great for salads, tastes sweet
  • Wild Rice- long-grain, seed of aquatic grass- great alone, in pilaf, as a side dish, or mixed with other grains.
  • White Rice- can be used in the same way as it's brown rice cousin.
These are just a few of the many types of rice out there, each with it's own tastes and uses. Most of the time in food storage it's going to be either white or brown rice.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Uses for Ripe Bananas

I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I hate over ripe bananas. Once they get all dark (and super sugary!) I just will not eat them. So if you are like me, here is a list of things you can do with those over ripe bananas.
  • I often make banana bread. There are tons of recipes out there for this, so I recommend looking for one that meets your fancy. 
  • Banana pancakes!
  • Make a banana smoothie.
  • Banana Nut Muffins
  • Frozen Banana Pops! Stick a popsicle stick in it, coat with melted chocolate, wrap in plastic wrap and then freeze.
  • Banana Soup (haven't personally tried it, but could be good)
  • Use them as a fertilizer.
  • Baked or fried bananas.
  • Make banana chips.
  • Banana pudding
  • Ok so really the recipes are endless
I should mention as an added tip, that generally I only end up with one banana that has hit that point that I won't eat it, but one banana is hardly enough for most of these recipes, so I just stick them in the freezer and use as I need them. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Publix Ad

I Heart Publix

Michelle over at iheartpublix has this week's ad up, check it out HERE.

As I post this, it is only just the BOGO's, so I can't say if it's a good ad just yet. I'm excited to see the rest.

Monday Money Sense- How Are You Doing?

It's been awhile, so I thought I would take a break and ask, "how are you doing?"

  1. Have you gotten out of debt? Or started climbing out of debt?
  2. If you are out of debt, are you actively working to stay out of debt?
  3. Have you established an emergency fund?
  4. Have you looked into your credit report and scores?
  5. Are you making sure to keep your information safe?
  6. Have you thought about what you are willing to splurge on?
So how are you doing? How are these economic times treating you? Please share below!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Favorites- Recipe

So this weeks recipe comes from a recipe that my family has been making for a long time. It's called cheeseburger loaves, and they are really yummy. Their basically little meatloafs. Enjoy!

Cheeseburger Loaves
2 Cups Corn Flakes
1 Egg
1-8oz can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 lb ground beef or turkey
3 american cheese slices

1. Preheat over to 350 F.
2. Crush Corn Flakes.
3. In a large bowl, mix egg tomatoes (break apart big pieces), salt, pepper, and corn flakes.
4. Add ground beef, mix only until combined.
5. Form into 6 loaves and place onto a baking sheet.
6. Bake for 30 min.
7. Top each loaf with 1/2 a cheese slice and bake until cheese melts (approx 10 min).

Update: I recently tried this by using a food processor for the corn flakes, spices, eggs, and tomatoes, and it turned out even better than the original. For a healthier take, use ground turkey.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Publix Trip 9/23/10

I spent $37.21 for $88.21 worth of groceries, saving $51 or 58%. But I will submit for a $5 G/C bringing it up to 63%.

You can see my original list HERE.

Publix Egg Noodles $1.47
Vanilla Extract $10.87 (I do a lot of baking...)
Beef for Stir Fry $2.85
   -$1 off wyb 1 A.1.
   -$1 off Winn-Dixie Catalina


Prices, Price Changes, and Coupon Changes:
A.1. BOGO $4.29 not $4.24 (but a MM after coupons)
Wishbone Dressing BOGO $2.89 not $2.65
Rosetto BOGO $3.99 not $2.39
(4)Gerber Snacks @ $2.99 ea
(2)Lil Entrees 2/$4
(10) Graduate Pick-ups 10/$10
(1)Graduates Meal 10/$10

Not my best trip ever, but still good especially with the $10 of vanilla extract. I wrestled with myself on buying the Gerber food, but in the end I decided to do it for a few reasons 1)my daughter likes them, 2) they make for an easy meal for her when it's a busy night, she won't eat what we're eating, or she is in a picky mood (which is surprisingly rare), and 3) they make for a good little food storage for her. In the end with the coupons, W/D catalina, and g/c it works out to be about $7 for all of it, so not bad.

Is "Green" Worth It?

"Green" is such a big word right now. You see it in various forms. Maybe the item says "green," "natural," "earth-friendly," or some other variant, but is it really worth it? Here's some handy tips to figuring it out. (I should note that I am talking about non-food items here).

  • Sometimes the company just wants to fool you into buying their product. Sad, but true. Be especially afraid of the label "natural." Just because something is natural doesn't mean it is safe. Think about it, arsenic is found naturally. 
  • Look for a list of what is in the product. Most companies that don't have anything to hide list their ingredients, if they don't list it be worried.
  • Cost. This is a big one to me. I understand why some items cost more when they are green, but wonder to yourself if there is another alternative. Perhaps you can make your own cleaner that truly is green, but costs a ton less. Always figure out if the cost is worth it. (For example, if you live in NYC you probably don't need a hybrid).
  • Why are you buying it? Are you buying it just because it says the word "green" and that's in right now or because you are worried about your health? If it's the first one, don't buy it. If it's the second one, make sure you know what you are buying.
  • Do some research. I recommend  Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices. I checked it out from the library, and I really enjoyed how it explained what the different labels mean, and how some of them are complete fabrications. 
Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices
So why do I bring this one up? Because many people fall for buzz words. There are those companies who always made green things and those that slap some label on their products to get the fad followers, so be aware. I applaud people making greener choices in their life, but make sure it's actually green and worth it!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shopping List for 9/23/10

Blue= Manufacturer's
Green= Publix
Red= Competitor
(8)Green Giant Canned Vegetables BOGO $1.29
     -(2)$1/4  Blinkie
(2)Wish-Bone Dressing BOGO $2.65
    -(2)$0.50/1  HERE
   -$0.75/1 Target HERE 

(2)A.1. Steak Sauce BOGO $4.24
     -(2)$1.50/1  tearpad 
     -$1 on Beef wyb (1) A.1. Steak Sauce or Marinade tearpad
     -$1.50/1 Publix Coupon (No longer available)
(2)Ocean Spray Craisins BOGO $2.25
(2)Rosetto Ravioli or Shells or Tortellini BOGO $2.39
(2)Bush’s Best Baked Beans 3/$5
-$1/2 Toss 4 Cash booklet
(1)White Mushrooms 8 oz pkg, 2/$3
Royal Gala Apples, 99¢/lb

   -$1 off produce Publix Baby Club Coupon

$25 worth of Gerber Food
   -$1/3 Publix Baby Club
   -B2G1 Publix Coupon from Gerber "Event"
   -75¢/2 Homemailer
   -$5 G/C wyb $25 MIR
-$10/$40 Winn-Dixie Catalina

How Do I Use it? Rice Part I: Background

I decided to kick this series off with rice! Before we learn how exactly to use it, I think it would be great to learn more about rice.
  • Rice is the most consumed food in the world, however not the most grown (that honor goes to corn...).
  • There are more than 7000 varieties of rice.
  • Most rices are either short or long grained.
  • Rice is considered a cereal grain.
  • Rice is a good source of protein, phosphorous, and iron. 
  • Rice also contains calcium and Vitamin B.
  • Most nutrients in rice are in the outer brown layers, hence brown rice is more nutritious than white rice.
  • Rice contains about 345 calories in 100g. 
  • However, rice is easy to digest by the body, and as such it may not make you feel full for very long.
  • Rice also has quite a few health benefits including helping fight the following health problems: indigestion, diarrhea, dysentery, nausea, skin disorders, and high blood pressure.
So, why should it be in your food storage?
  • It provides fast and instant energy.
  • Helps with bowel movements.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels.
  • It is cholesterol free.
  • Rich in vitamins.
  • It's just a great energy source!
Next week we will look at some of the many varieties of rice out there and what they are good for making.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Uses for Baby Wipe Containers

This one is for anyone who has a baby or toddler out there! I know that I end up with tons of the wipe containers, which are really meant to be refilled with wipes. The problem is sometimes you get the ones in the container free with coupons, people give you those as gifts, or you just end up with a ton one way or another. They are actually quite versatile, so here is a handy list of ways you can re-purpose them .

  • Store bag dispenser. I have to admit I have a few for this purpose alone. One houses regular size bags, one the larger bags, and another smaller bags. They stack easily in a cabinet or on a shelf.
  • Make a first aid kit in the container. Every house, car, and boat should have a first aid kit, and these work well for making your own.
  • Make them into a treasure chest for a party favor.
  • Make them into a fun bank (especially good for the ones with the smaller slit).
  • Box for a present. You can easily wrap the container or if it's a baby shower a cute decorated container would be great to put another gift in.
  • Use as a dryer sheet dispenser.
  • Use them for storage. You can store craft supplies, office supplies, receipts, bills, pictures, etc. Just make sure you clean it first.
  • Use it to hold a sewing kit or just sewing supplies.
  • Use them to store old towels and rags for cleaning. (Keeps them out of site, and neatly organized).
  • Cut off the lids and use them as bins for small toys or other things you want to keep together (perhaps socks and the like). 
  • Cut off the lid and make bins for the changing table.
  • Storage bins for loose coupons until you file them. (Tearpads, hangtags, blinkies, peelies, etc.)
  • Recipe Box
  • Store puzzles in them if the box breaks or for a board game.
  • Store a shoe shining kit in it.
  • A box for your gym locker. You can stick deodorant, socks, hair bands, combs, etc. in it.
  • A place to store items for point programs. I'm thinking the bottle caps and card board for my coke rewards or box tops for box tops for education.
  • Crayon box. A great place for loose, broken, etc. crayons.
  • Lego Storage
  • Use them to organize gravy and sauce packages
  • If you have enough, they can be giant stacking blocks for kids.
  • Storage for all the free samples you request.
  • Storage for homemade cleaning wipes.
  • Remove the lid and drill a few holes in the bottom for container for gardening. These would be a great size for most herbs.
  • Use them as a mold for sand or snow bricks.
If all else fails, look into recycling. As always, let me know if you have any ideas, and I will add them to the list!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Publix Ad

I Heart Publix

Michelle over at iheartpublix has this week's ad up, check it out HERE.

I'm not seeing too much to be thrilled about, but that might change later...

My Adventures in Buying a House

For today's money sense, I felt like changing it up a bit, so I'm going to share the adventure that was buying our first house.

It all started last December when my husband received a job in a new city. We needed to move out of our house asap. Luckily my FIL lived close enough to this new city that we didn't need to rush into any housing decisions right away. We originally were going to rent because we didn't have much saved and thought we didn't have the income to buy a house, but then we learned that the place we were living was one of the top places in the country to be hit by the housing crisis. We went to a Realtor to look at rentals and quickly realized a mortgage payment with insurance, PMI, and taxes would be cheaper monthly then rent, and we could get a bigger house! 

However, we still didn't think we had enough for a down-payment, but then we learned about an FHA loan which only required 3.5% down, which considering homes this area were in the 60-100k range, made it very do-able along with the help of some relatives. So we decided to do it, and so began a long and stressful process.

First, we had to find a home we loved. That wouldn't be so hard, but when there are easily thousands of homes for the picking it made my head hurt going through the various MLS sheets to narrow down houses we wanted to see. We narrowed it down to six houses we wanted to see. We fell in love with one immediately. We went to get pre-approved for a mortgage, but due to some difficulty getting proof of my husband's job, it took a day or two to get everything squared away. We submitted an offer, and we were rejected. We submitted another offer only to learn that another offer had been accepted. A few months later we learned that it was a cash offer for more then the $69,900 asking price. 

So we moved on, having learned more we realized short-sales were a no-go because we wanted to move in sooner rather than later, so that narrowed our list. Our wonderful Realtor gave us access to an online detailed MLS service, and that helped a lot. We then found six more houses to look at. We found one that we liked (and luckily we could see past the vibrant paint colors). It was priced at $89,900, but we took a risk in making our offer. We asked for $88,900 and 3k in closing costs, and they accepted! Little did I know this was just the beginning of the stressful part.

FHA loans take about 45 days to close, so we scheduled the closing for February 22nd. We had our home inspection and the home inspector only found minor problems like a pipe leaking under the sink, a switch plate missing, filters being changed, trees being trimmed, etc. He actually said it was one of the nicer foreclosures he had seen. The mortgage on the other hand was just a mess. We apparently had the worlds most crazy underwriter, who could not use common sense and required several forms of verification for each thing she needed. For example, to verify my husbands employment she wanted a months worth of pay-stubs, a verbal employment verification, a written employment verification, and his contract (he's a teacher). We had trouble verifying money in our bank account because we had cash deposits (remember we weren't planning on buying a house). The underwriter was adamant about following the purchase contract to the very word. If it said "may" have some kind of inspection (mold or chinese drywall), we had to have it or have the seller (a bank), sign an addendum to remove it. A few weeks before closing they wanted some sort of proof from the seller that the person signing the documents had the authority to do so (did I mention the bank selling the home and the bank we were getting a mortgage company from are the same company?). Then they decided because our home had a septic tank that we needed to have a septic inspection, which would require pumping the tank. Thankfully the appraisal of the house came at the house being worth slightly higher than the purchase price, so at least one thing went right. We also had problems with the money from relatives (did I mention my FIL works overseas?). The underwriter then wanted some form signed by the seller, which was another version of a form he had already signed. For some reason the seller kept missing one spot to initial, and it ended up that we did not get that form back until the Friday before our Monday closing, but our wonderful mortgage person assured us we would be able to close on Monday! Whew! Or so I thought...

We decided to drive up to see the house on Saturday, buy some things we needed and put them in our storage unit, etc. When we went to drive up to the house, my husband noticed right away that our water softener was gone. Someone had cut the pipes and stolen the system, meaning there was no running water to the house! We called our Realtor, who called the selling agent. We discussed just wanting a credit. Well this created all sorts of crazy. We ended up just telling the Realtor it didn't matter we just wanted to close on Monday. Well someone ended up telling our mortgage company, and our loan could not close without running water, and the seller did not want to repair the softener, they wanted to give us a credit (we had since learned the softener was an expensive model). So we could not close on the day we had planned. Eventually we convinced our mortgage company that there was running water, and someone convinced the seller to just replace it and split the cost of the replacement with us. So we closed two days later, and ended up paying only the down payment (remember the 3k closing costs? It ended up being enough for the closing costs + the repair) and we had a nice new water softener (which we weren't sure the old one was working correctly to begin with, the inspection report said it needed to be serviced). We also were able to close in time to get the first time homebuyer's tax credit, so everything worked out great.

If you are thinking about buying a home in the near future, contact a mortgage company and ask what kinds of things need to be in order before you actually start on the task. Check out some books from the library. I recommend: Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home or Home Buying For Dummies. Be careful what you do with your money for at least the three months before you plan to apply for a mortgage, and be prepared to document everything! 

The moral of the story: buying a home is stressful, but worth it! 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kellogg's 50% Off Trip

I spent $9.63 for $54.35 worth of groceries, saving $44.72 or 82%!

Ok so I went to Publix today for the 50% off Kellogg's Cereal Sale! This is what I got with match-ups!

(2) Raisin Bran Crunch $2.09
  -(1)$1/2 HERE
(2)Frosted Mini-Wheats $2.09
  -(1)$1/2 HERE
(2)Smart Start Strawberry Oat Bites $1.74
  -(1)$1/2 HERE
(3) Poptarts
  -(3)Free wyb 2 Kellogg's Cereals Tearpad (there were tons at my store!)
(1)100-Calorie Pack Craisins
  -(1)$2 off wyb 2 Frosted Mini-Wheats
(6)Dr. Pepper B2G1 $1.79
  -(3)B1G1 Hangtags
  -(2)74¢/2 Target Printables HERE (They are an ad on the side of the page, and also be aware they expire the same day, and only let me print one)
(5)Philadelphia Cream Cheese 4/$5
  -$5/5 HERE
  -$1 off Dairy Purchase Baby Club Coupon

Some people are reporting 70¢/1 Peelies and Coupons at their store, but sadly none were at my store. This sale is only this weekend, so if you are interested better go now. It includes ALL Kellogg's Cereals, so if you love a cereal that doesn't go on sale often, this might be the time to stock-up!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Favorites- Website

The internet is full of information, fun, and everything in between. That's why today I've decided to share one of my favorite fun websites: Cake Wrecks.

Cake Wrecks is a blog about what it says wrecks of cake. It can be pretty entertaining to spend some time on, whether it's unfortunate misspellings, funny grammar mishaps, or just a wreck of a design, I'm sure you'll find something to laugh at.

I will say, sometimes the content is not family friendly. By that I mean occasionally there is foul language or sexual innuendos, and occasionally an unfortunate design that looks sexual. Those are fairly rare though, but I figured I would share, so no one is offended.

So go and have a good laugh!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Publix Trip 9/16/10

I spent $39.56 for $167.65 worth of groceries saving 128.09 or 76%.

See my original list HERE.

(6)Dr. Pepper B2G1 $1.79ea
  -(3)B1G1 Hangtags
  -(2)55¢/1 Peelies
  (I wish I had some of those 75¢/2 Target Printables on, but I printed my limit and they expired before a sale, but still 69¢ for 6 2-Liters isn't bad!)
(1)Pedigree Dog Food $12.99
   -$3/1 Printable HERE
(2)Musselman's 3/$5
   -(2)$1/1 Printables (no longer available)
(2)Danonino 3/$5
   (2)$1/1 Printables (no longer available)
(2)Philly Gourmet Steaks BOGO$8.99
    -No coupons, but I hardly ever see coupons.


Prices, Price Changes, Coupons, and Coupon Changes:
Clorox Gel Pen $2.63 (free with coupon)
Clorox Bleach $2.19 (free with coupon)
Milk $3.29

Overall it was a good trip, and my favorite cashier was working, so always a plus!
BTW I tasted the coconut dreams cookies and they taste just like Samoas, YUM!

Is it Really the Best Deal? A Story of Clever Store Tricks

So we all know matching coupons to sales leads to great savings, but are you always getting the best deal? What do I mean by this? Well sure it seems like you are getting a great deal because you can see the savings, but did you stop to think if there is a better deal? Here's what I mean:

  • If you matched the coupon with a larger or smaller size, would you end up getting more for less money? It's a simple step to do, take the price of the item, subtract the coupon and then divide by the quantity of the product (oz, lbs, count, etc.). You may be surprised to find that it may actually be a better deal.
  • On a similar note to the previous one, could you actually get another brand cheaper? Sometimes you may be able to get another brand (or the store brand) cheaper without a coupon (or with it's own coupon), then the item that is on sale with a coupon. 
  • Is the store brand really the cheapest? I know most of us try to buy things on sale and with a coupon, but sometimes we need something that we just don't have a coupon for and so we automatically reach for the store brand, but is it really the cheapest? Not always. In fact, more than once I reached for the store brand, but then saw that a name brand was cheaper. (Although I must admit, this was mostly at Wal-mart, but did happen once or twice at Publix).
  • Is it really on sale? Sometimes stores put things in their ad and call it something similar to a sale like "surprisingly low price" or "every day low price." You think it is a great deal and so you buy it, but really it's not on sale. Wal-Mart is actually pretty notorious for this, they like to put those little roll back signs on something, so you will go wow that's a good price! For example, it will say "roll-back" $1.99, but in reality it costs $2.00 at Publix or Target.  Target does something similar called "temporary price cuts," where they put a sale sticker on the shelf, but when you look at the price under it, it's actually the same as their normal price. The moral of the store sometimes it's not on sale, they just fooled you into thinking it was. 
  • Did the price raise for a BOGO, 50% off, etc? Many times it does, but by how much. I will say Publix often raises the price of a BOGO item to the full retail price, which is still usually a good deal. For example normal selling prices of cereal may be $3.99, but when on BOGO it may be $4.29, you still save money buying the two and using coupons. However, some stores when they have a BOGO they actually raise the price by a lot. For example, the cereal will normally be $3.99, but on BOGO it may be $5.89, bot nearly a good of a deal.  
  • Be certain you buy the right sale item! I'd like to think stores don't do this on purpose, but I'm not always sure. By this I mean, sometimes the sale item is very specific, and if you aren't paying complete attention you end up buying the full price one. My most recent example was I thought I was buying Bumble Bee Chicken for 2/$3, but I grabbed a very similar can that was actually not on sale. It was right next to it on the shelf, one is white meat, the other is breast meat (umm also white meat?), one on sale, one was not. You just have to be vigilant to make sure to not grab the one that is not on sale. I really want to think it isn't done on purpose, but a lot of people do it, so I'm beginning to think that it's done so you purchase I higher price one.
So the moral of the story, be cognizant. Companies pay a lot of money researching how to get you to buy their product, but if you pay attention you will be better off.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shopping List for 9/16/10

(4)Kraft Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese BOGO $2.99
  -(2)B1G1 HERE (must play game & get 3000 points for coupon)
Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Juice, Assorted Varieties, 8-pk, 6.75-oz box, BOGO $2.99
  -$1/2 All You Sep 2010
(6)Ore-Ida Steam n’ Mash Potatoes, Assorted Varieties, 24 oz pkg, BOGO $3.99
  -(4)$1/1 Printable HERE
  -(4)$2 off Heinz AND Ore-Ida PUBLIX coupon Toss4Cash FL Booklet
  -(2)B2G1 Publix FL Toss 4 Cash – valid up to $3.39
(6)Heinz Gravies $1.59
  -(2) $1/3 HERE
(2)All  BOGO $5.99
  -(2)$1/1 HERE
  -(2)$1/1 Target Printable HERE
(5)Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese 4/$5
   -$5/5 HERE
(1)Listerine Zero Mouthwash 1 L, $4.99
   -$1/1 Listerine Target Coupon HERE
   -$2/1 Listerine Zero (unsure where I printed it from)
(1)Clorox 2 $5.99
   -$1.50/1 HERE
   -B1G1 Clorox Gel WYB Color Booster Liquid  Publix Family Favorites Booklet
   -B1G1 Original Clorox wyb Clorox 2 Target Hangtag
Grapes, 99¢/lb
  -$1 off produce Target Printable (no longer available)
(2)Mott’s Apple Juice Boxes 2/$5
  -(2)$1/1 Blinkie
(1)New York Toast 2/$4
  -75¢/1 Build a Better Burger Booklet
(2)Keebler Coconut Dreams 2/$5
  -(2) $1/1 Printable (came in an email)
  -$2 off wyb (2) Keebler Cookies from Fuel for School Booklet

-$5/$25 Save-A-Lot

Hopefully this is right, I need to go through my coupons to make sure (I don't have them in front of me currently). As always, I will show any changes on the trip post.

How Do I Use it?

So starting week I am going to start a series on here called "How Do I Use It?" I think the scariest thing about long term food storage is not know how to use the things you have stored. This can be so daunting to most people that they don't even bother to try storing food. It's a real problem, especially in this day and age where we're used to cooking from a box or from the freezer, when we do make homemade meals it's usually with some sort of short cut cooking (i.e. you didn't make everything from scratch), so when faced with things like dry beans, wheat, oats, etc. we feel a little overwhelmed.

So for several weeks I am going to be taking each food item and breaking it down for you. How to work with it, how to cook with it, how it fits into your diet, and any other information you could possibly want to know about it. The end result will be that you will be comfortable, so should the day ever come that you need to use your food storage you will be able to!

So what I would love from you this week is to send me any questions you have about food storage.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Uses for a Ketchup Bottle (or any squeeze bottle)

When I look in my kitchen I am amazed how much stuff comes in squeeze bottles, the classic being the ketchup bottle (or catsup?). But there's also salad dressing, syrup, chocolate syrup, ice cream toppings, mustard, and sometimes even relish. I really like to try to reuse things as much as possible, just because I hate how much goes to waste, so here is a list of new uses for that squeeze bottle.

  • pancake batter dispenser. Fairly simple, fill it with batter and you can just squirt it. ( I recommend a funnel to get it in the bottle in the first place)
  • Cat Toy
  • Let your dogs play with it. (Ok my dogs love to play with anything made out of plastic, makes a fun crunchy noise for them)
  • Buy in bulk, and use it as a dispenser
  • Use it for arts and crafts, especially paint, glitter, beads.
  • Use it for a handy container for homemade salad dressing
  • Use it as a handy container for homemade cleaning supplies (dish soad, laundry detergent)
  • Use it as a dispenser for homemade masks, facials, lotions, etc.
  • Use it for frosting for cookies, cakes, etc. (I think this would be great for frosting cupcakes and cookies)
  • Use it as a turkey baster. (Now why couldn't I have thought of that one when I needed a turkey baster...)
  • Use it for anything that comes in a jar or non squeezable container that you want to be more user friendly. (I'm thinking like jelly, mayo, etc.)
  • Use to dispense cooking oil without it running down the side.
If all else fails, always remember to recycle! (You can recycle after many of the uses above too). As a side note, my family usually only accumulates one bag of trash a week, the rest is in the recycling! This definitely saves on buying garbage bags!

As always, if you have a handy use for squeeze bottles, share and I will add it to the list.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Publix Ad

I Heart Publix

Michelle over at iheartpublix has this weeks sneak peek up. Go check it out! You can find it here.

I see a few good deals so far.

What is Your Splurge?

The other day I was reading a blog where they told how they never spent money on cable, home phone, and trash pick-up. It came off kind of judgmental in the way that it was worded, but as we all know it's hard to tell tone from the internet. Maybe what bothered me is I don't like anyone telling me what is and isn't a waste of money because really it all depends on the person. It also bothered me that people who commented on this post were also quick to make judgments about a person's character and/or parenting based on what things they "wasted" money on. For example, some were saying that those with cable don't spend time with people, don't get things done, etc. or "my kids have never had cable and that is why they are able to entertain themselves!"
 So, let me be real with you. These kind of mentalities annoy me. I have satellite tv for several reasons. First, we had cable, but it was awful and they kept raising prices. Second, we pay less for more channels plus DVR then we were paying for our basic cable before. In fact we pay less to have phone, internet, and tv then to just have cable and internet through the cable company. My husband and I watch a lot of shows that just aren't online or available through Netflix. Mainly things on History, Discovery, Animal Planet, and Bravo. We DVR them and when our daughter is in bed, we watch them. It takes infinitely less time because you can fast forward through the commercials. Our satellite also offers us programing about our church, which is nice. I get plenty done during the day because I don't have to watch it right then because I have the DVR. When cleaning or cooking, I can put on the music channel and not have to buy fancy ipods. But guess what even though my daughter has been around tv since the day she was born, she still is capable of playing by herself. 
Our tv is the vast majority of our entertainment budget, so I can justify having it.
Now as for the landline, I need it to get internet, but to be honest I would keep it anyway. I live in South Florida. Hurricanes are a real threat, and so are really bad thunderstorms. Many people say, "I don't need a home phone because I have a cell phone or because I have voip," and my frugal side would agree, but my emergency preparedness side says no way. If you lose power your voip is no good, and your cell phone is only as good as the battery (and do you really want to waste precious fuel either for a generator or car to charge your phone?) There's also the problem that during national disasters cell towers often become jammed. So I have a very basic landline phone, no fancy bells and whistles.

The fact of the matter is we all have a line on what we are willing to splurge on, and it is different for each of us. I like tv, while you may like your iphone. I may like eating out, but you may like going to the movies. So you won't be finding me telling you what is a waste of money, but I sure will tell you how you can save money on things you splurge on (even if I personally wouldn't waste money on it :-)  ).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Favorites- Recipe for Sloppy Joes

So I made this recipe last week, and it was so good I had to share. You can adapt it to how much you need for your family. The recipe below made 8 sloppy joes. You can also use ground turkey instead of beef for a lighter meal. I used Muir Glen Tomato Sauce since I had those, but you can use whatever brand you have. You can also increase or decrease the amount of vegetables to your liking. I also found that letting it cook longer only added to the flavor and by time they were leftovers the next day they were so good. Enjoy!

Sloppy Joes
1 lb ground beef
1/2 a medium onion
1/2 a green bell pepper
1/2 of a Zucchini
2 8-oz cans Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp light or dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
8 hamburger buns split

1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef, onion, bell pepper, and zucchini over medium-high heat for 7-9 min.
2. Drain of excess liquid from pan.
3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Serve on hamburger buns

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Publix Trip 9/9/10

I spent $21.61 for $81.74 worth of groceries, saving $60.13 or 74%. I'm also going to submit for the $5 Huggies G/C offer, bringing the savings up to 80%.

See my original list here.

(2)Mrs. Butterworth's $1.99
   -(2)55¢/1 hangtags
   -(2)75¢/1 Publix GA Toss for Cash Booklet
(2)Bumble Bee Chicken 2/$5
   -(2)75¢/1 Blinkie
(2)Febreze Set and Refresh 2/$5
   -(2)$1.50/1 (I received as an extra in a trade, so I don't know where it was from...)
   -(2)75¢/1 from Put Clean in Your Cart
(1)Huggies Diapers $19.99
   -$3/1 HERE
   -$5/1 from Huggies/Gerber "Event" Booklet
(1)Huggies Wipes Refill $6.99
   -$1/1 HERE
   -$2/1 from Huggies/Gerber "Event" Booklet


Prices, Price Changes, Coupon Changes:
-Wheat Thins $3.39 (free with coupon)
-Quaker Oatmeal $3.99
-Publix Oatmeal $2.39 (free w/ promotion)
-Quaker Oats $2.63
-Publix Oats $1.59 (free w/ promotion)
-I bought 3 Goldfish, but I was soo excited because the Save Big. Dream Big. booklet was there so I used the (3) of the 35¢/1 coupons.
-I also used (2) $5/$25 purchase Save-a-lot coupons because I rang up the Huggies separate for the rebate.

So good day at Publix!

How to Deal with Those Who Don't Understand

Chances are you have heard one of the things below, but here is why I think they are wrong.

Your savings are nice, but that's just too much work.
I've heard this one many times. Yes, it takes work, but you also get a say in how much time you want to put in it. I like to look at it as an hourly rate. If I save $80 in a week and spent 2 hours putting together my coupons, deals, etc. That means I made $40 an hour. Not bad, in my opinion. Like I said there are many levels to how much you can save, if you take the very simple step of only buying things when they are on sale you would be capable of savings near 50% (especially if you only buy BOGO's). If you combine a few coupons, say just ones in your paper, your savings increase. Then if you take it further by adding more coupons and using coupon match-up sites, you can easily see 60% or more savings a week.
The irony is sometimes make this complaint to me, and then in another sentence lament how they wish they had extra money to purchase ___ or go to ____. And I think, if you just spent an hour a week, you could easily save that money.

I wish I had that kind of free time, but I'm too busy.
This one is pretty much the same as the last one, but I often find this one coming from the mouths of working mothers/working women/men. I'm not sure if they mean it the way it sounds, but it kind of comes off as "I actually work and make money, so unlike you I don't have that kind of free time." I know plenty of working folk who find time for coupons, and their reason for doing coupons is generally along the lines of "I work hard for this money, so why do I want to spend most of it on food?" I tend to agree.

What are you feeding an army with all that food?
I think this comes from the fact that most people go to the store each week with the sole purpose of buying food to consume within the next week or two, and perhaps every so often they buy a cart full of groceries when they are stocking up for an event. So basically to see some one buy a cart full of groceries every week, makes them wonder what you are doing with all that food because in their head they think you are going to consume it in one weeks time. I usually just explain that it will last us awhile and I donate some of it.

You have more food than a food pantry!
I don't personally think I do, but with the great demand on food pantries lately it could be possible. This statement usually comes from someone seeing the amount of food you have stockpiled. Usually it's not worth arguing, but the best answer usually is a combination of "you should see how much I have donated" and "because I have this much food, I won't need to take from the already strained food pantry."

Stockpilers are just hoarders.
Pretty much the same as the previous. However, this one stems from the belief that hoarding is just someone who accumulates a lot of stuff for no reason. Hoarding is a real condition that generally stems from some sort of traumatic event, and is generally not recognized by the hoarder. Hoarders are generally acting on compulsion not on calculated purchases. Stockpilers purchase food with full awareness of what they are doing, and generally with the knowledge of how much they need for a set period of time. Sure stockpiling can become a form of hoarding, but most of the time they are completely different.

Couponers are just cheapskates.
Is being a cheapskate really so bad? People who are frugal are often labeled cheapskates, but the irony is frugal people also know when to spend more money for something that will last longer. I'd rather spend my money on extra things then on the things I need like food. Being a cheapskate means I can stay home with my child and live comfortably on one small salary, so I will happily continue to be a cheapskate.

Coupons are going to put a company out of business.
Well this is just dumb. If that were true manufacturer's wouldn't make coupons and stores wouldn't take them. The fact of the matter is it is a win-win-win situation. The manufacturer makes money because you bought their product (and may benefit from you sharing your love of the product to someone else), the store benefits because you bought the product and the manufacturer pay them 8¢ per coupon (+ the amount of the coupon) redeemed, and you benefit because you received your product for less money. The only people who ever say things like this are those who really just don't understand or is a cashier who just hates coupons, but either way it is completely wrong.

I'm sure you've heard one of these things or will hear one of these things, but don't worry too much about it. I personally can't understand why anyone would want to pay $5 for a box of cereal or $2 for a box of pasta, but they do, and that's their money to spend, and well maybe they are just jealous...

Join me next week for more frugal tips.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shopping List for 9/9/10

Blue= Manufacturer's Coupon
Green= Publix Coupon
Red= Competitor Coupon

(2)Crystal Light BOGO $2.99
    -$1/1 HERE
(1)Wheat Thins      
    -Free Nabisco Wheat Thins Snacks wyb any (2) Crystal Light Pure Fitness (Publix coupon) Tearpad
(2)Nabisco Snak-Sacs BOGO $2.39
     -$1/1 Tearpad
(?)Pepperidge Farm Goldfish 10/$10
(2)Duncan Hines Brownie Mix 10/$10
     -$1/2 Publix coupon Toss4Cash GA Booklet 
Apples, $1.29/lb
     -$1/1 Target Coupon (no longer available)
Buy Theirs, Get Ours Free Promotion:
Quaker Oatmeal 
  -$1/1 Tearpad
Publix Oatmeal
Quaker Quick Oats 
  -$1/1 Tearpad
Publix Quick Oats

Small trip this week. I'm thinking of maybe buying some Huggies diapers, but I haven't decided yet.

Pros and Cons of Food Storage Containers

Last week we talked about proper storage conditions. This week we will look at some of the pros and cons to different food storage containers.

Plastic Buckets
-Can carry large amounts of food
-Good for things like wheat
-Not always completely air tight
-Requires a special dry ice treatment of the food before storage
-Oxygen absorbers are not effective
-Must be careful about stacking and keeping them off floor

Foil Pouches
-Hold a good amount of product
-Take up only a small amount of room
-Can be stored in tight spaces
-Not rodent proof
-Cannot be in contact with concrete walls or floors
-Must be kept in a dry place
-Need special impulse sealer

PETE Bottles
-Readily Available
-Allow light in
-Can break down over time
-May not always have an airtight seal

#10 Cans
-Resistant to water (say if there is a flood or spill)
-Resistant to rodents/insects
-Holds a good amount
-Take up some space
-Can rust if continually exposed to water
-Need a sealer (to purchase one costs about $1000)

As you can see each method has it's pros and cons. I personally have #10 cans because I have lids that come with them, so when I want to use the product inside I can just use a can opener to open it up, use what I need, and then put the lid on. But I'm also fortunate that my church provides access to a canner, so that I don't have to shell out the money myself. Plus since I live in Florida, I want to be certain my food storage will not be subject to rodents, insects, or the ever present moisture. Hopefully the list will help you figure out what is best for your needs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Uses for Egg Shells

How many times have you cracked an egg into a pan and then just thrown the shell away? You might be surprised what those eggs might be able to do! Check out this list for some ideas.

  • Use as a fertilizer for plants. Egg Shells are made up of calcium carbonate which is a natural fertilizer. Just mix in some pieces with your soil. This is great for plants like tomatoes and peppers who love calcium.
  • Drain cleaning. If you crush the eggs into tiny pieces they work really well as an abrasive to clean your drains.
  • Composting. Eggs are great for the compost heap.
  • Keeping away garden slugs. Sprinkle crushed egg shells around your plants to keep the slugs and snails away.
  • Start seedlings. Half an egg-shell is a great place to start a seedling. If the egg container is the cardboard kind it will make a great place to hold this little pot.
  • Keep away wildlife. Egg shells tossed in your shrubs will keep deer and other wildlife away.
  • Water house plants. Put the egg shells in a container of water. Cover with tight lid. After several days remove the pieces and water houseplants with the water.
  • Paint the egg shell. In order to have a full egg shell, you would need to poke a small hole with a pin in one end to allow the insides to come out. But then you can decorate them into all sorts of things. When I was in school we made them into "babies" to take care of, carrying them around, etc.
  • You can use pieces of eggshell to make mosaic art pieces.
  • Crushed eggshells and soapy water make for a nice abrasive non-toxic cleaner.
  • Dissolve an eggshell in apple cider vinegar (this takes about 2 days) and then use the mixture on irritated skin or itchy skin.
  • Crush an egg shell with a mortar and pestle and whisk it into an egg white for a nice facial. Allow it to dry before rinsing.
  • Make fuel. (ok maybe not at home, but it's an interesting read)
Do you have an interesting use for egg shells? If you do, share below, and I will add it to the list.

Join me next week for more clever tricks.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Publix Ad

I Heart Publix

Michelle has the new ad up, you can find it HERE. I'm not terribly excited this week, but I'll have to give it a better look when I make my list.

Also, don't forget to print your free Nabisco cookies wyb 1 pack of cookies and 1 gallon of milk. You can find that HERE.

Happy Labor Day!

There will be no Monday Money Sense today, as I take the day off for Labor Day and enjoy some fun, sun, and BBQ! 

Happy Labor Day! 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Favorites- Books

So I really love reading. I read all sorts of things, and love learning from reading. When I want to learn how to do something I look to the library (or the internet) to find out how to do it. I also love a good fiction book! But here's my predicament, I need more fiction books to read! Can you recommend some books?

Here's a list of some of my favorite books (and this is by no means a comprehensive list, just what I can think of right now):

  • Anything by Nicholas Sparks
  • Anything by Dan Brown
  • Harry Potter series
  • Anything by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Anything by C.S. Lewis 
  • Brave New World
  • As I Lay Dying
  • Marley and Me
  • 1984
I'm currently reading the Hunger Games trilogy.

So please share away, and maybe you'll find a book that interests you from the comments!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Publix Trip 9/2/10

I spent $26.41 for $103.01 worth of groceries, saving $76.60 or 74%.

See my original list HERE.

(4) Pepsi Products B2G2 @ $4.79 each
   -(2)$1/1 Target Coupon Dr. Pepper (Is an ad on Coupons) HERE
   -(2)$1/1 Target Coupon Mt. Dew HERE
(2)Yoplait Greek Yogurt $1.19 ea
   -$1/2 from HERE
   -B1G1 from 8/29/10 SS
(2) Additional Yoplait Yo-Plus BOGO $2.50
   -(2)$1/1 from HERE
(2)Cans Bumble Bee Chicken $1.69
   -(2)75¢/1 Blinkie


Prices, Price Changes, and Coupon Changes:
-Used free Publix Bun wyb 2 BallPark Tearpad (I was so excited to finally find it!) 
-Used a $1.75/1 Pampers coupon from Homemailer instead of $1/1

I had a different cashier this week, but she was very nice and quick. I also love when they compliment you on your savings. If you look above the diapers in the picture you'll see a yellow container. There was a display set up in the store for a free cheese container wyb 2 Kraft Singles. There was no barcode or coupon or anything on it, so I guess it was on the honor system. Overall it was a good trip!

Frugality- Just Some Thoughts to Ponder

I have noticed lately that a lot of people have been having problems at their Publix stores with changing coupon policies/ treatment of coupons
Here are a few things I have seen being said:

  • Limiting competitor's coupons to a certain amount (say only $5 of competitor's coupons)
  • No longer taking a competitor they used to
  • No longer taking competitor's period
  • No longer taking expired coupons when they used to
  • No longer special ordering sale items when they used to
  • Limiting internet printables to a certain dollar amount
  • Limiting internet printables to a certain percentage of the sale price
  • No longer giving rain checks for large quantities
  • Having their coupons individually scrutinized
  • Having legitimate coupons not taken because they aren't on some list
  • No longer allowing overages
So here's the thing, I have seen a few reasons why some people think this is, as well as a few of my own. Here are some of the reasons this could be:
  • Publix is losing money by taking coupons. This makes sense for the competitor's coupons because there is no reimbursement for taking them, other than getting people in the door, but it doesn't make much sense otherwise
  • Publix is losing money to fraud. This one makes a lot of sense because as more and more people are using coupons, more and more fraud occurs either unintentional or intentional. How many couponers in their "coupon infancy" accidentally used a $1/2 on one item, or used a $1/2 and two $1/1 on two items? How many stuck their internet prints onto a copier or scanner and then used them? How many people, couponer or not, fall for the fraudulent coupons out there because they are trying to save money? How many people are purposefully using fraudulent coupons because they want to see their total lower? While it may not seem like a lot to one person, these things add up for a store. It would make sense why the stores are being more cautious at paying attention to the coupons being used.
  • People are abusing the store to walk away with tons of groceries for free. This refers to people who buy 100's of things just because it is a money maker. The store generally doesn't lose money if the only coupon is used is a manufacturer's to make it a money maker, but usually it's a combination of coupons  that result in overages. Some people rationalize that they are making the store money by using a manufacturer's coupon on top of a store coupon, but the reality is store coupons (competitor or Publix) lose the store money in the long run. If someone uses hundred's of dollars of overage from store coupons that means the store lost a good bit of money. The person walks out of the store with a ton of stuff for free, and Publix ends up paying for the food that was paid for buy the overages. This would make sense why many stores are limiting overages from stacking and limiting the amount of products you can buy.
  • Buying large quantities confuses the stocking. I recently read that when a stock is depleted at the store it automatically re-orders. So when a person clears the shelf for a good deal or money maker, it automatically re-orders. Then it clears again, and the system goes "this is a hot item" and increases shipment. This depletes the warehouse. Eventually the warehouse gets more in, but the end result is the store then ends up with a surplus of the item. If the store can't get the item moving, they end up losing every day it sits on the shelf. This is especially true of some of the more obscure money makers (I'm thinking Phazyme, Vivarin, etc.), because the end result is a large stock of something people actually don't typically buy a lot of. This may cause some stores to limit the number of coupons, items, or both. This also causes the store to write a lot of rainchecks, which again can lead to fraud (people changing the number of items on the raincheck), money loss (if they have to take expired coupons that they can't redeem), etc. Shelf-clearing/depleting stocks can also mean that regular shoppers can't get a product and may shop elsewhere. Many people have reported managers who really did not like people buying 50+ of an item, and sharing that this is the reason for some changes.
  • Time=Money. More coupons means longer check-outs, it means possibly hiring more people to work with handling the coupon redemption (or someone else spending time working on it), it means more time training employees. 

So basically it kind of all boils down to that a few can spoil it for everyone. Not just those doing illegal things, those doing legal things to. We all want to walk out of the store saving money, but be reasonable. Don't expect to walk away with $500 worth of groceries for free every week. Be realistic. Abuse of a system always leads to stricter rules. Most of us don't want to see things get really strict, so think about your habits...
It's just something to ponder.