Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Art of Being Grateful

I think being grateful is a dying art. We all want more, more, more and not thankful for what we are given. This is a value that I try and teach my children every day but it's something that was lost at a table full of women the other day.

Last Thursday I attended Avon's annual President's Recognition Gala. I was invited to attend because of achieving the President's Club level in sales last sales year. You can read all about the award I won here. I was very touched and honored but that's not what I want to talk about right now.

I sat next to a rep. who lives in my area, who I have become friends with. I knew 3 other people at the table but 3 more I was not acquainted with. The bulk of the conversation, during the event, revolved around what Avon used to do, what's changed, what they (the reps) used to get but don't get anymore, etc etc etc. It was very disheartening.

Since I've been with Avon for just a year, I can't say anything about how it "used to be". I don't know all the perks that these ladies used to receive. I'm sure if I was in their shoes I'd be a bit disappointed if I used to get a bunch of gifts and freebies and don't anymore. But here's the thing...when I arrived at the event I received a gift bag with over $50 worth of products in it. We all, also, received a piece of jewelry based on what sales level we achieved. Mine was a pair of earrings but other ladies either received a broch, bracelet, or necklace. There were TONS of raffles and everyone who won an award that day received a statue (like the one you see in the link above)...and those babies are heavy.
There were about 150 people there and this was just one of four events taking place in Colorado alone...not to mention all of them going on in other states. That could add up to tens of thousands of these events around the U.S. and Avon is dishing out freebies and awards for ALL OF THEM!

I know that Avon is Fortune 500 company. I know they make millions of dollars every year, but I also know that Avon gives back...a lot. I also read recently that our CEO, Andrea Jung, refused a 3 million dollar bonus check last year.

The economy is hurting. There is no way around it. Avon shares are down and our sales are down. They can't just keep dishing out gift after gift and freebie after freebie to us reps. when times are tough. And why should they?

I went to an event. I had a free, delicious, lunch (and yes, they complained about the chicken too). I received a gift bag full of goodies and a pair of earrings and even though I didn't win a raffle many, many other women did.

I'm grateful for what I was given. I'm grateful for the opportunity that Avon has given me. I'm grateful for having just enough to make me feel special. I wish some of the other ladies at my table felt the same way. It would have made the event a lot more fun. I guess that's why I won the Spirit of Avon award and they didn't. ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When you need it most

Recently I've talked with a couple of friends of mine who talked to me about how they are struggling with money. One has had tough times for a while, the other has dealt with layoffs and economic hardships just in the last couple years.

It got me thinking about how life was for me when I was single. It's funny how I am more of a coupon user now that I am (thankfully) more financially stable than I was when I was a struggling single gal. I lived paycheck to paycheck (or tip to tip as the case was) for YEARS! I had credit card debt because I was terrible with money (or was dealing with medical bills). I remember using coupons back then but I was terrible with them. My biggest downfall was using a coupon just because I had it...not because the sale was great or because I even really needed that item. I am so much smarter now.
I wish I had someone who would have taught me what I know now. Can I go back to my 25 year old me and shake some sense into myself? I really wish I would have fully understood what was possible with couponing back when I really, really needed it. How great it would have been to always having free toothbrushes, toothpaste, deoderant, etc!? To get food items for next to nothing would have been a God send.

Since I can't go back in time, I wish there was someway I could help other people who are struggling. I would love to have a one on one sit down with one of my friends who is struggling so much and help her realize that she can have a little relief.
Being an avid couponer means that you may make a few sacrifices. Brand loyalty is not always an option. You may not be able to eat whatever meal you are craving at the time because running to the store and buying products at regular price is, for me, a gut wrenching thought. But think of all you can save! If you are currently struggling then you are already making sacrifices. So what are you willing to sacrifice? Paying your electric bill or using Colgate toothpaste instead of Crest?

If you, or someone you know, could benefit from couponing and would like to chat please send them my way. I would love to help someone change their life, if even just a little bit.

Walgreens this week

Yesterday I ended up out and about, running a few errands and meeting up with my mom. I took Nora with me just to get her out of the house for a while. I planned a stop at Walgreens and ended up with this...

Total cost: $14.30
Total saved: $61.30

I did 2 transactions so I could maximize the use of my register rewards. I had $4 in RR to use from a previous "purchase" so I used those on my first transaction.
When shopping at Walgreens you definatly have to play the game. Doing 2 transactions is pretty much necessary. The first one should be all items that you will recieved RR back on. Then use those register rewards to purchase the rest of your items. That way you know they aren't going to waste (it's heart wrenching if "money" like that expires before you use it) and then you also know you are using the RR for items you actually need/want and not just on junk.

So with my $4 in RR from a previous transaction (and coupons of course) my first transaction totaled $12.69, saving $16.66. My second transaction, using RR I recieved from the first transaction and coupons, totaled $1.77, saving $44.64.

It always seems like a treasure hunt when the new ads and coupons come out. I love seeing what freebies and goodies I can get. What did you get this week?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Where are we going?

**Warning - I'm sure this post will upset and offend some of you but, well, it's my blog so I'm gettin' on my soapbox.**

I found out today that there are carts at some grocery stores that have TV's on them. Luckily, as of last week at least, the store I frequent does not have them because the idea of this makes me want to vomit. Seriously? What ever happened to teaching your children how to behave and making them a part of your day to day activities? Now we can't even take our kids to the grocery store without sitting them in front of some sort of technology?
I have two strong willed children and I have had occassions where I have had to take both of them to the store with me (or at least one). We grab the car cart, they get a free cookie from the bakery and off we go. It's not always easy and I have definatly had struggles but I have set the expectation that they should be able to sit and enjoy the ride. I hope that one day, when they are a bit older, they can help. The store is a great learning experience for kids. They can learn about food, money (and the benefit of saving money) and how to interact with other people.
It's sad that people think it's a great thing to tune their kids out and find a "babysitter" for them so they don't have to be responsible for their child's behavior.

I remember when I worked at Macaroni Grill, from time to time, we had people come to the table for a meal and let their child watch a show on a portable DVD player. It is just so sad to me that this is where our society is going. When I was growing up I was expected to behave. I had to learn how to act when in a restaurant and if I didn't then I had to deal with consequences of it. But I learned manners! I learned how to behave around adults. I wasn't allowed to act up, run around and reek havoc.
If you plop your child in front of a TV or game system every time you are out in public, sure you may have a little more peace and quiet, but at what cost? When is your child going to learn about the world? When will they learn how to behave in public? What happens when you go to the store and that TV cart is broken?  They won't know what to do and your trip will be even worse than those trips you had before those coma-inducing cart came about.

Parenting is tough. It's one of the toughest things I've ever done. I'm no expert. Most days I feel like the worst mom on the planet. But my hope is that one day my kids will thank me for a being tough on them. They will thank me for being involved and trying to help them learn about the world. They will be grateful that they learned how to say "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me". Yes we have a DVD player in the minivan but they don't get to watch it every time we drive. It's a treat for them. Most of the time we listen to music and they look out the windows.

I hope those carts never appear in my store. I don't want my kids to even know they exist. Even though it might give me a few extra minutes of peace while I'm shopping, I will not be so selfish as to use them. As difficult as it may be sometimes, I am a parent and I am responsible for the well being and growth of my child. I hope I never ever forget that and I wish more people felt that way.

It just takes a little

Yesterday we ended up having a family garage sale outing. I had originally thought I was going on my own but my husband wanted to come so it became a family affair. I joked with him that the reason he wanted to come was to keep me reigned in.

We didn't end up with a huge haul but what we found I was happy with. We found a bedrail to put away for Emmett. I think they asked $5 for it so that was a heck of a deal! It's a double sided one with very minor wear so we scored!

Besides a few organizational things we found some toys for the kids. Nora got a few "new" books for 25 cents each (her FAVORITE My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake) and they each got a new little stuffed animal. They are beanie babies that someone was wise enough to sell for 50 cents a piece. Some sales I go to people are trying to sell them for $2-$3 dollars each (or more) because they are a "collectibles"...sorry folks, they haven't been a collectors item for a decade now.
Anyway, I picked out a kitty for Nora and a puppy for Emmett and they love them. They even slept with them in their beds last night.

The star of the day is this sweet pony...
Nora has been "giddy-upping" with him around the house ever since we came home yesterday. And guess what? He was $1! He is supposed to make noise but that part is broken. Not that I'm overly sad about that, lol. Otherwise he's perfect!

So for only a few dollars my kids are entertained and have "new" toys. Couponing and saving money isn't just something you do at the grocery store. I've never understood why people feel like they have to buy brand new toys, at full price, to make their kids happy. There will always be those certain items that you feel are a "must-have" or your kids feel like they are, but I bet there are still ways you can save money while getting those items if you look. And until your kids are old enough to "demand" those must have items, help teach them how to be happy with what they have. Being grateful and thankful are values that seem to have disappeared over time. Kids don't need as much as we think they do. You'd be amazing at how much fun can be had with a $1 garage sale item. ;)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

100th Post - Just the usual

So I have to admit that I've been sitting here waiting to do my 100th post because I wanted to write something interesting and exciting since, well, it's number 100! I guess I just don't have anything interesting and exciting to write about so it's just more of the usual. That's not a bad thing though because I LOVE King Soopers Mega Events!
Because I was gone over the weekend, I didn't do my weekly grocery shopping until yesterday, but here is what I got this week fro 50 cents or less!

Most everything you see above was FREE...the only things I paid for were:
2 bottles of Propel (.49 each on sale, no coupon needed...I had a coupon that made the other 2 free), the 4 bottles of BBQ sauce (.49 each on sale, no coupon needed). The Mentos were .30 each ($1 sale and then .35 coupon), yogurt was .50 (1.50 on sale and a .50 coupon) and the Uncle Ben's Rice packets were .29 each (1.29 on sale and $1 coupon). Everything else was FREE!
I will be donating most of the pasta because I'm up to my ears in it right now, as well as the Ivory soap.

I didn't do quite as well as I hoped I would this week (spent more than I planned) but I ended up with some pretty good deals and, all in all, I saved 53% off my order. The difference between me and an extreme couponer is that 1) I buy 6 boxes of pasta, not 100 and 2) I still have to buy other food too (i.e. milk, bread, meat, etc).  I think I do pretty darn good otherwise. :)

Later in the day I made a quick stop into Walmart. I accidentally left one of Emmett's drinking cups at the dr's office the day before and they (**gasp**) threw it away! SO I went to go pick up another one. I knew that I had a few coupons that would be expiring soon that would make for some freebies at Walmart so that's why I chose to go there. Here's what I picked up for FREE there...

The Nivea is a no brainer deal. They are regularly priced at $3 at Walmart (possibly less at some locations) and there is a $3 off coupon that's expiring this week. Free body wash!! (I'm donating those also.)
The Degree deoderants were a sneaky deal, but not really. Well there are some degree coupons expiring this week that are good on ANY Degree deoderant (there are seperate men's and women's coupons). So, off to the travel section where they are priced at .97 each. Free travel deoderant!

The Mega Event goes through this next week so if you haven't picked up some freebies make sure you hop over there. Just remember to make sure and count your items so you end up with bundles of 10 (buy 10 get $5 off). I had 4 sets of 10 products and kept track of them, as I put them in my cart, on my shopping list.

Happy shopping everyone and happy 100th post!