Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Semi-Domestic Goddess

Guess what I did Sunday?

No wait...you'll never guess.

I, Lindsey...former spinster, spent the entire afternoon cooking, portioning out and freezing meals for me and the hubby.

I can see that you're in shock. Wordless even.

Who would have guessed that I'd turn out to be so domestic? I'm sure you all recall the cookie dough debacle of 2009 when the mixer ran amuck and splattered gobs of dough on the cabinets, counters, fridge and me.

I've come a long way baby. :)

Well, I say that but with all my leaps and bounds, sometimes my landings are still a bit shaky.

For instance, during Sunday's cooking marathon the first meal up was chicken pot pie but I realized I didn't have any unsalted butter. After much desperate digging around the fridge, I discovered I didn't have any butter whatsoever, salted or unalted, which was bad because I needed it for something else too. Certainly this new bombdiggety domestic goddess had not failed to pick up a much needed item during the morning's grocery trip? Hmmm. Ok, no worries. The grocery store is just a block away so I kept my cool and scooted out to the store. Disaster averted.

Tasty pot pie filling expertly crafted and tucked way, I got to work on the mexican soup...one of the husband's favorites, not to mention that it's his mother's recipe. And ya know, at first everything was going great. The sausage browned nicely, the veggies were tender and I was just getting ready to add the second can of Rotel when it hit me. Holy shit. These were both supposed to be original flavor but this one was CILANTRO AND LIME!! (Would not work with this dish at all.) You have got to be kidding me!! I took a deep breath. Ok...well let's just try this with one can and see how it tastes. No...nope. Shit. It NEEDS the second can.

I cuss, I throw the kitchen towel, I stub my toe...cuss some more and then finally tell the hubby to keep an eye on the stove. Back to the store I go...for the THIRD time today. I run in, grab the Rotel (original flavor thankyouverymuch) and made sure I found a cashier that I hadn't already had that day. Then I dashed home only to find my way blocked by fire trucks, ambulances and a little man waving me left for a detour.

This is bad.

I just moved here. I DON'T KNOW ANY DETOURS!!

I turn left...grudgingly and stare at the long stretch of road ahead of me. Then a brilliant idea strikes me. My phone!! I start up google maps and tell it to find my location. It stares back at me unblinking. I hit the button again. MY LOCATION. No change. I shake it violently and let loose a string of choice words that would make even a sailor blush. I was just contemplating how much satisfaction may be gained from throwing it out the window and watching it smash against the asphalt when I noticed a car coming up behind me. Ohhhhh. Maybe HE knows where he's going! Casually I pulled off to the right and pretended to read something. As soon as he passed I pulled forward and tailed him all the way to the main highway, some five miles away from the house.


Oh well. At least I knew where I was now.

A grand detour and a lot of cuss words later, I made it home and the second can of Rotel really made the soup. The husband was happy and the mother-in-law's recipe was not tarnished...so all in all, I guess it was worth it. But it just goes to show...linny spinster has not left the building.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Couponing: How To

I've had several people ask me how couponing works and whether it's worth it. Let me assure you, if you are someone who could benefit from saving A LOT of money...then YES it is completely and totally worth it! You would not believe all the stuff I get for free every single week. It's rediculous, honestly. Now, if you ever watch the show Extreme Couponing, you've got to understand that's a high dramatazation of how couponing works. The vast majority of couponers do not save 90% or more on their regular weekly grocery shopping, that's more of what you should expect to save on health and beauty items. Saving on groceries is harder due to the lack of coupons for things like meats and veggies so the realistic goal most of us shoot for on our regular grocery bill is a savings of 50-60%. For me personally, since there is just me and the hubby we were spending around $80.00 a week on groceries...now I spend around $40 and I come home with 3 x the number of stuff as when I was spending the $80!

Couponing is super easy and just requires some extra time when you first get started and are getting yourself organized. I usually spend an hour or two every weekend clipping new coupons and organzing them in my coupon binder and taking out the expired ones. Then I go do my regular shopping like normal...I just have my binder with me. (I'll do a another post showing my binder and explaining that more.)

How much money you can save varies by what stores are in your areas and what their coupon policies are. You'll get your biggest savings at stores that double coupons. Doubling is when a store doubles the face value of a coupon...for instance, you have a .50 cent off coupon and they double it making it $1.00 off. Which stores double and up to how much is totally up to the individual stores so call your local shops and find out what their policies are but keep in mind there are some areas that don't have stores that will double at all. In my area the stores will double any coupon with a face value of up to .50 cents, anything above that is just taken at face value.

Now the trick to saving the most money isn't just buying something with a coupon. You wait until an item goes on sale (typically hitting it's rock bottom price) and THEN you buy it, combining it with your coupon to maximize savings. Ok, I'm a visual learner so here's some pictures to help you understand some of the basics.

When a store has a Buy 1 Get 1 Free sale...keep in mind you do NOT have to buy two of the items to get the deal! What they do is simply slash the price of the item in half. For instance, Publix had Bugles and Chex Mix on sale B1G1. Normally they're $2.59 but with the sale they are $1.29 each. I happened to have a .50 cent off coupon and since my store doubles...they took $1.00 off, meaning the cost was only .29 cents!!!!

Stacking coupons. Most stores that have their own store coupons will allow you to use one store coupon in conjunction with a manufacturer coupon. (Again, check your store's policy.) This is an awesome way to maximze savings. Here CVS had shave gel on sale for $1.99. I was able to use the $1 off manufacturer coupon from the sunday paper AND stack it with the $1 off store coupon I printed off CVS' website. This made it FREE!

This was a fun find during the summer. My store had an unadvertised sale where the frozen lemonade was on sale for $1.00. (On 10 for 10 sales you do not have to buy 10 items to get the deal...each item is just listed at $1.00 whether you get one or five.) I had a .50 cent off coupon which doubled up to $1.00 making this FREE!

My husband's favorite soap. Normally $1.99 for the 2-bar pack, it was on sale for .88 cents. The store doubled my .35 cent off coupon making it .70 cents off, which made the soap only .18 cents!!!!

It's super important to always check your clearance racks and bins! These Proglide razors are usually $8.49 but they were on clearance for $4.16. I happened to have a $4.00 off coupon which made them .16 cents!!! (Clearance sales are a reason why you should ALWAYS bring your binder with you.)

In this case I did not have a manufacturer coupon but Target has store coupons on their website. Lo and behold there was a $1.00 coupon and these cat treats happened to be on sale for .99 cents. You know what that means....FREE! I nabbed a couple to add to my box of pet food that I'm donating to the local animal shelter next weekend.
My store was running a great sale which made men's bodywash $1.99 (normally priced at $3.99). This makes it at it's rock bottom price so I used my $2.00 off coupon and it made them FREE!!

Super great sale b/c these things are normally super expensive. These were the large bags normally priced at $7.49 but were on sale for $4.99. I had a $3.00 off coupon which made them $1.99 each!!!
Hopefully this has given you a basic idea of how it all works. I buy my Sunday papers on Saturday afternoon (here they offer an early edition, it's probably available in your area too.) So the day before the sales I'm able to go through and clip my coupons and get them organized and in my binder. Then I go through the sales ADs and match up my coupons for the best deals. Keep in mind that it takes a couple of weeks to really get going and start saving the most because you have to build up a stock of coupons to use and eventually you'll be able to build a nice stockpile of goods at home and won't have to go out as often or buy as much.

Until that happens, my helpful tips would be to make sure you go shopping for your deals early Sunday morning before everyone else gets there and the shelves are empty and if you do happen to find a deal that's sold out....get a rain check! Also make sure you've found out your local stores coupon policy (I even keep copies in my binder) because more often than not, the cashiers are not properly trained and will sometimes tell you they can't take a coupon when they really can. Also, I highly suggest finding a good coupon blog to follow. This is especially helpful if you're a newbie. They do a lot of the work for you, finding match ups and posting them along with which coupon you need. I follow The Krazy Coupon Lady (http://www.krazycouponlady.com/) and they have a good beginners section there which will probably explain things better than I did. Happy Couponing!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Week in Deals

I've got a post planned for this weekend but in the meantime...I'm still couponing like crazy and am so proud of my stockpile! Not only have I cut my monthly grocery bill more than in half but I get tons more stuff with less money AND I was able to send 5 grocery bags worth of goodies to my sister and brother-in-law who just recently moved back from Florida and are on a really tight budget. Here are the really good deals I got this week:

3 Febreeze warmers with covers and 2 Neutrogena facial bar soap.

Retail cost $13.00 and I paid...ZERO!!!!!!

4 boxes of pasta, 4 men's body wash, 4 travel packs of dishwashing tabs,

2 pocket packs of Advil and 2 puppy nursing bottles

(being donated along with a bunch of cat food).

Retail was $34.00 and I paid ZERO!!!!!

Scored a bunch of Gillette Fusion Proglide razors (normally nearly $9.00)

for .16 cents each after coupon!! My husband loves these and I was able to

score enough that we won't have to buy razors for MONTHS!

Just in time for cold and flu season. I snagged 6 boxes of tissue for $1.74

and 4 bottles of Advil (2 of the 40 count and 2 of the 50 count) for FREE!