Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Deep Thoughts

Since I will be in a car most of my birthday I thought I'd write a few thoughts about turning 36. Yes, that's right, I'm turning 36.

That just sounds old. I know it's not, and no offense to those of you who are older than me, but there is something about this birthday that is making me feel old. Some people have problems with the decade birthdays (and yes I did too) but this one...I don't know...just seems different.

I think it's because I passed over that threshold of being in my early 30's...heck I'm even moving out of my mid-30's. And that's exactly it. Being 35 seems a little cooler than being 36. 36 is just that much closer to 40.

I guess the one thing I have going for me is that I don't look my age. I have been told, by a couple different people recently, that they thought I was in my late 20's. I know that most people would LOVE to hear that but some times it bugs me. I don't think I'm taken seriously very often because I look young. The bags under my eyes and the wrinkles I'm starting to get tell a different story...and that story has been told by 2 beautiful children.
Maybe it's how I dress...but I'm not ready to shop out of my mom's closet (no offense mom). I like feeling young (even though I usually feel like I'm about 80) and so I express that feeling by how I dress and my makeup. I've always wanted to be one of those cool, hip moms. I wanted to be a young mom (at least I thought I did when I was growing up) so I guess I'll settle for being a young looking mom.

So as Thursday comes I will spend some time, while on the road with my family, reflecting on the past year and the year ahead.

Being An Insider Has It's Perks!

A recieved a tip a few weeks ago that if you sign up for a Sephora Beauty Insider account you get a free product on your birthday! Since mine is coming up I couldn't pass it up.

And here it is...

There isn't a Sephora (that's not in a JcPenney) that's close to me but we ended up in Cherry Creek today so I made Jim stop at the mall. All I had to do was give them my email address (I don't have an actual card since I signed up online) and she put it in a bag and handed it to me!

You can get your own "Happy Birthday Beautiful" by Philosophy (vanilla cupcake scented shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath) for free on your birthday by signing up here. It's free to join so why not??

Although my knees get weak by just walking into a Sephora I doubt I'll buy much there. I'm too cheap frugal and being an Avon rep. I like buying my beauty products through my own company.

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Day In The Kitchen

I was really tired yesterday so it was hard for me to find motivation do to much more than the minimum for the day but after lunchtime I put my big girl panties on (as my mom would say) and worked on some vegetables.

My mom visited my grandparent's this last weekend and came back with boxes and coolers of produce. My hit list yesterday included...

Tomatoes which I stewed with green peppers and onion and froze. This is great to put in chili!!

Green, red, orange and yellow peppers - I just diced these, put them on a baking sheet and stuck them in the freezer for a while. Then I gathered them up and put them in freezer safe baggies. They will be nice to have on hand for cooking.

I also cleaned about 16 ears of corn. I was going to leave them in the husks for a few more days but I noticed some little bugs traveled all the way from Nebraska and I wanted to stop them from eating my yummy corn goodness.

I still have some cucumbers to do. I'm going to make cucumber salad with them (I'm using this recipe). They are soooooo good and they keep for a long time in the refrigerator.

Oh, and if anyone wants some cheap cucumbers and corn May Farms in Byers has a produce stand out right now (hours vary). Corn is 6 ears for $1 and cucumbers are 5 for $1!! I stopped by today and checked it out and they look great!! They are picked right out in their fields daily!

Out of my own garden...we've ate all the corn we ended up with (which was only about 7 small ears) and green beans off and on (not too many of those either). I'm picked a bunch of squash! We've ate it off and on and I've shredded and froze some, along with a few zucchini to use down the road. 

I'm really hooked on this not having to go to the store to buy veggies thing. I think I could get used to it. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dig through the Markdowns!

Do you feel self-conscious walking over to those markdown area and digging through them? Are worried that some people are going to look at you and think you are one step away from dumpster diving?

Well don't be! 

I got over it a looooong time ago. In fact, for a while there, I used to go straight to the markdown bin when I first walked in the store. There was an occassion (when Emmett was a baby) where there were bins full of baby food and a lady who had gotten there just a few minutes before me snatched up a whole bunch of them! I was so bummed because if I would have just arrived a moment sooner I could have scored a lot more cheap baby food (not sure why they were being marked down...they still had long expiration dates...) Since then I always make sure and scan over the bins to see what I can find.

Where do I check for markdowns?


My store has the non-parishable area (which also holds the bread), a dairy markdown cooler and the meat markdowns. Don't be afraid to look through them. With the parishable items you have to see if its something you will use within the reasonable sell by/use by date. If it's meat, you can wrap it up and put it right in the freezer, if you aren't going to use it within the next day or two.

Today there were cans and cans of soup! Again, I'm not sure why they were being markdown. Most of them has 2012 or 2013 expiration dates and they were not dented. They were probably just varieties that are discontinued.

Here's what I picked up...

You can see that I already marked them with the expiration date. I do that so it's eaiser to keep track of what I have and use up the items that expire first.

These were at a great markdown price to begin with but then I paired them with a $1 off of 2 coupon that was in the Sunday paper (not sure if it was this last week or the week before) and that made them even better!! Of course, King Soopers has there 3 coupon limit, per like item (or however it's phrased) so I was only able to grab 9 cans but that's still not bad! We aren't big soup eaters in the summer but for .69 a can I can stash these away for when there is a chill in the air.

It's just another example of why I bring all my coupons with me to the store. I never know what kind of unadvertised deal I'll find.

Happy hunting!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Safeway Score

You have a day and a half to still get a few of these deals so head on over to Safeway if these deals suit your fancy...

Out of pocket spent - $5.88! I rounded up my change to donate to MDA so I actually paid $6 even. Total savings for the trip $38.49 which is 86%!! The Gardettos were FREE and everything else was. 49 a box (thank goodness because I was paying around $2 a box for store brand fruit snacks and I was none too pleased)! Woot woot!!

I was also going to pick up the free Bugles and Chex Mix this week but they were out. I did get a rain check for them both so I just have to get back in there before my coupons expire so I can snag them. Check out the lowdown on this sale here and happy shopping!!

Walgreens this week!

I braved some Walgreens shopping today. I will say that it was a tad frustrating and I did go to 3 different Walgreens to get some of the deals (but only because there were 2 more that I passed when I was on my way to Safeway). Walgreens shopping can be very profitable but it can also be annoying when you go to the store and they are out of what you are wanting or they just don't even carry it.

Here's what I did end up with...

This is 4 different transactions. I won't go through the specifics but what's important is that I paid $20.12 for all of this. I also have a $3 register rewards left over for another time. My total savings was $102.73!!!

Holy moley!

I suggest checking out Jennie's Walgreens Post, at Bargain Blessings, to get the lowdown.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Garden Update

I thought I'd give you an update on my garden, since I know you've been on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about it.
Here are some new pictures...

This is my out of control (in a good way!) pumpkin plant. This is the one that I was given, in a little baby food container and never thought it would live. There are flowers all over it but no pumpkins yet (it's still early though).
Here are my squash and zucchini plants. The squash are HUGE and have been giving me a fair amount. There are still quite a few growing (you'll see them in the 2nd picture) and I've picked about 10 so far. My zucchini has not done as well but I think the squash over took those plants a bit. I've only picked 4 zucchini so far and I don't see any more starting to grow right now.

 Here are my climbing green beans. They have done pretty well. We've picked about 35 green beans so far (yes I've counted). We had some one night with supper and they were sooooo good!
Here are the watermelon. You can see 2 growing pretty well and in the bottom left side there is another small one sprouting up (it's hard to see). I hope they ripen up nicely. I love watermelon!
Here's my corn. It never grew to be very big but we were able to pick 11 ears total. Some of them were really super small but they will be a perfect size for the kids (who are playing in the sandbox in the background).
 And here they are showing off 2 of the largest ears (the first 2 I picked)....they were yummy!
All in all, I'm happy with my garden. I didn't know what to expect since it was my first year. I figure that anything I was able to grow is better than nothing. I've learned a few lessons (fewer squash plants and more watering of everything) but all in all I'm pleased. And I'm hooked...next year I think we'll expand the garden so I can plant more!!

Free This Week at King Soopers

I went earlier this afternoon, with a pretty short shopping list because there aren't too many good sales this week (for me at least). I did get the free Colgate (to donate) and toothbrushes (they were actually .08 a piece, with the .40 coupon that doubles, but I picked them up anyway). I found a $1.00 sale on a pack of kids toothbrushes and I had a $1.00 off coupon that I recieved from King Soopers so that was a nice surprise! Those will be great to just leave over at grandma and grandpa's house. There have been a couple times I've almost forgot to pack them (or forgotten to pack them back up when we were going back home).

The other really nice surprise were the Minute Maid Soft Frozen Lemonade or Cherry Limeade! It's an unadvertised sale but I was just scoping out the treat section and there they were...on sale for $1.00! There have been a couple different weeks where there have been "$1 off any Minute Maid Frozen Novelty" coupons in the Sunday paper. Take that coupon in and get FREE frozen treats!!

Everything in the picture above cost .24 (plus tax)!
So although my savings percentage was low, only 37%, I had some other items that we just needed to buy and there weren't great sales or coupons to go with them. I still stayed under my $75 budget so that's what really matters. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Price of Cookie Dough

Last spring I helped the Learning Center, where my children attend, do an Avon fundraiser. I won't go into details but it tanked. People didn't really participate so it didn't do well. It was a good learning experience for me, and I'm glad I did it, but I really thought we would blow it out of the water. Live and learn, right?

A couple weeks ago I recieved a flyer in my parent folder for a new fundraiser they are doing. This one is for various types of cookie dough (the ones that are already pre-shaped and frozen) and another flyer for some cinnamon rolls. The box of cookie dough is $15! The 24oz family pack of cinnamon rolls is $12!

I've had a hard time going out and asking anyone if they would be interested in buying these things because, WOW, $15 for cookie dough?

Am I just that cheap?

Am I?

I'm going to have a heard time justifying even buying some of it for ourselves, but I will just because it's the fundraiser for my kids' school.

Is there nothing better? Can these fundraising companies offer anything more reasonable than $15 cookie dough and $12 cinnamon rolls?

Now I've had this cookie dough before (Jim bought some last year from a co-worker who was doing the fundraiser for his kids' school) and it is convienant to have on hand and it does taste good. Thank goodness for that. But, really? I can take my lazy arm and stir up a cookie mix that I picked up for free!

Would it be rude of me to ask, once the forms are turned in, how many people participated? I'd love to know how many people were willing to go out and sell overpriced cookie dough and cinnamon rolls that weren't willing to go out and sell underpriced Avon products.

This is a non-profit school so I do hope it goes well. I just wish they felt they had better options than overpriced cookie dough.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I broke down...

and went to IKEA!

I swore to myself, after all the hubbub that I would wait at least a month or two to go. I made it a week.

There was a reason though...sort of. I have an Avon customer/friend who works in the DTC and I had an order to deliver to her. If it wasn't that I was already going to be over that way I wouldn't have gone so soon...but it just worked out.

I had dropped the kids off at school (that was already planned) and headed down there, knowing I only had a few hours until I had to pick them back up.

I ended up meeting a friend there (and one of her friends) for breakfast and, since I was in a bit of a rush, went on and looked while they dropped their kids off at the play area.

My first impressions: They have thought of EVERYTHING. Seriously! Between the kid drop off play area (free babysitting for one hour!) and the super cheap (and good) food. It's amazing! Even the shopping carts are user friendly (although they need to have some accessible on the 2nd floor)....you know what I mean if you've been there.

Before you go, make sure and sign up for an IKEA Family card. You can sign up online and have your card printed when you get there, or just sign up at the kiosk at the store. There are a few items in the store where you get a bit of a discount, you also get a coupon for a free frozen yogurt cone, entries for various sweepstakes and you also get a free coffee or tea EVERY time you go to the store.

So I had breakfast (only $1.99 for eggs, potatoes, bacon and french toast sticks!!) and off I went. Less than an hour later (because I had to leave to pick up the kids) I was at checkout. My picks...

At checkout I scanned in a .59 reusable bag. Seriously, .59!?!?!?

The Lekplat play mat for only $14.99! I've been wanting to get a play mat, for Emmett's room, for a while but they all seemed pretty pricey. I love the softer colors on this one and the price is awesome!

I also picked up a new microwave cover, which we needed because my other one is cracked, for only .99!

I snagged 4 little stuffed animals for .49 each. They were kind of a lame purchase but I need some little toys, as presents for the kids, because of a sticker chart I'm doing for them.

I picked these cake stencils for only $1.49.

I grabbed a plastic bag holder for $1.99 (I actually have been wanting one of these but I usually find them for $7 and up!).

A new frying pan for only $19.99! (ours is warped in the center so we needed a new one)

The black, silicone, ice cube tray with the long thing shape...perfect for water bottles...was only $1.99.

A red bottle opener for only .99 (we needed a replacement for our basement refrigerator). I wish it was magnetic but I have some magnet strips here at home so I'm going to try and make it magnetic. :)

And, of course, a chocolate bar (which is currently in the freezer because it melted on the way home) for .99 (that's how they can charge .59 for a reusable shopping bag...they taunt you with a chocolate bar!)

So that's it! All for $49.05. I really did have to rush through the store and there were whole sections that only recieved a quick glance so I definatly have to go back when I have more time.

So now I get it. I get why IKEA was such a big deal. The prices are great, the store is insanely customer friendly (and kid friendly) and it's somewhere you could just hang out for hours on end. Browse, get a bite to eat, let the kids play...so much to do and see.

I will be back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Reality Of It All

Last Sunday, in the USA Weekend section of the newspaper there is an article about a woman in Pennsylvania who saved thousands of dollars last year by clipping coupons. I saw it on the cover and thought, "oh no, here we go again...more talk about these "extreme couponers". I was pleasently surprised at the article!

The article talks about how Allison Mullen, with a family of 5, used to spend $200-$300 a week on groceries and now only spends $100. She does it by clipping coupons and matching them with store sales...period. Yes, you stock up a little (you don't need a stock pile to fill your garage)...that's the whole point of it and she's reasonable about it. She's saving about 50% (or more) on her grocery bill and that's awesome!

I love that they featured someone who is just a smart shopper, not someone who makes all of us look like we are crazy.

The basics from the article:

Wait for a sale! - Know what your low price is for an item and wait for it to get back down to that price. Stock up enough to last you until the next sale so you don't have to buy things at regular price. Getting multiple copies of the newspaper is the best way to do that (or know people who are willing to give you their inserts).

Know your stores: Although it's not always cost effective to drive to multiple stores, if it's convienant for you then it's smart to know which stores have items for least amount and make sure to buy those items there.

Adopt private labels: Be willing to try the store brands on some items. We all have our items that we are brand specific on (I will NOT buy store brand sliced cheese) but some things don't really matter. Try different ones out so you learn what tastes just the same and is cheaper. **my note: if you are really watching the sales and coupons, a lot of the time the name brand can be cheaper. It's just nice to have that back up in case you are in need and there is no sale or coupon available.**

Use your loyalty card: This one is pretty much a no brainer. I never walk into King Soopers or Safeway without my shopper card. Always have them on you or just make sure you know which phone number is attached to your card so you can use it at checkout.

**One more important note from me- make sure you know store coupon policies. King Soopers recently added a 3 coupon per like item policy and they will enforce it. Also, some stores will give you the overage on a coupon (if the coupon value is higher than the item you are buying you can use that money towards the rest of your purchase) but some will just adjust it down. Some will let you use 2 coupons when buying 2 items on a BOGO free sale. Knowing these policies are HUGE when making the most of your coupons (and your money!)**

Remember that I'm here to help if anyone has questions regarding couponing and shopping in general. In the meantime I'd love to hear how you are doing with your shopping. Good luck and happy clipping!

If they can, why can't I?

About 6 years ago I walked into a bank (who shall not be named but the initials are W-e-l-l-s F-a-r-g-o) and wanted to see about getting a debt consolidation loan (I was digging myself out from medical bills and poor spending choices). I walked in not wanting to borrow more money, just wanting to consolidate what I had into one loan, with a lower interest rate, so I could get my debt paid off faster.

I was denied.

The reason I was denied...

Too much debt.

(let that sink in for a minute)

I told them that THAT was exactly the reason I was trying to get the consolidation loan...so I could pay off my debt faster. As it was, I was paying just over the minimum on my cards and not getting anywhere. He said, try to get some of the debt paid down and then we can help you.

(ya, let that sink in again)

So I'm coming to you, Mr. Loan Officer, telling you that I can't get my debt paid down because of my interest rates. I'm hoping to get a loan so I can pay off my debt quicker and you tell me that you can't give me loan until I get some of my debt paid off???

(again...the sink)

I've been hearing for weeks now about our Federal deficit and how they are going to raise the debt ceiling so we can just inccur more debt.

Maybe someone from the bank not to be named (W-e-l-l-s F-a-r-g-o) needs to go to the White House and tell them that they can't gain access to more money until they pay off the debt they have already built up. Hey, if I can't do it then neither should they. What a poor example they are showing people about managing money. Maybe they need to start clipping coupons.