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Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day

May 31st, 2010 at 10:31 am

I headed out shopping this morning. There was a deal with overage at Safeway. Raincheck pickup at Foodlion. Lowest price at Walmart.

Safeway was:

8 Carefree, 4 Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, 2 "O" Organic Teas, 2 Compleat Meals/Hormel = $47.61
$47.61 - 46.97Disc/MFQ = .64 (.12 was tax) The Carefree will go to the food pantry + 2 peanut butter.

Foodlion was a raincheck pickup for my SIL. 4 tides at 4.88 = 19.52 - 4MFQ = 15.52 + 1.18tax = 16.70. She was thrilled with the price.

Walmart was to pickup mom her Caltrate. It was the lowest price I could find for 200 pills at 13.97 after coupon. Anyone with ideas for cheaper let me know. My has severe Osteoporosis controlled with meds to mild.

I've been clipping expired coupons to send to Marines and their families stationed in Japan. Its something I can do for those serving so far from home on this Memorial Day.

My son is at a training camp in California. Its the training all Marines go thru before heading to Afghanistan. He is supposed to be camping in the desert at a machine gun range right now. The Corps has informed him he has a natural apptitude for machine guns why didn't he sign up for machine guns when he joined? Duh! I could only think perhaps he would have known if that was taught in HS. Yeah, right! I can picture that now. Heaven help us all. Otherwise, how would he know he has a "natural apptitude for machine guns". I swear and declare my eyes are rolling.

I know its not summer camp, but I would love pictures as he goes thru the training process. One week down, 3 more before he comes home for a 2 week leave. Smile



Laughing At Life

May 30th, 2010 at 07:33 am

My DN is a 21yr, honors college student, beautiful and high maintenance young woman that adventure seems to follow. She is very comfortable being treated like a princess,lol. I love her dearly. Yet there is that Lucille Ball thing going on.

She and my DSis went on vacation this last week to California. Here the adventure begins. They get to the airport and the luggage carousel isn't working(not good for a Princess) and the computers are down for Southwest Airlines, their airline. Ouch! They finally get checked in and on the plane.

They have a layover/connecting flight thing in some major city. During the layover, passengers exit and DS and DN are told since they are continuing to California they can change to whatever seats they want before the new passengers embark. So far, so good. They choose the front seats as both are 5'8" and wearing 2-4in heels. Now they can stretch out. Yea!

The new passengers get in and get seated. The stewardess' do their thing and tell everyone to fasten their seatbelts. Here the excitement starts. My DN reaches back to get her seatbelt and her thumb gets stuck in the mechanism. Oops! They call the stewardess, no luck. They call all the stewardess, no luck.

No Seatbelt, No Takeoff, they call the Captain. The Captain can't get her free. They call maintanence. Maintenance shows up and says "Yeah, we been having problems with this alot lately."

The maintenance guys unbolt the 3 seats and carry her in the seats out to the runway. I have this visual of a Princess/Queen (DN,lol) being carried around on a chair/bed in Arabia by 4-8 buff bodyguard/slaves. Once she's on the runway I get a visual of a Seinfeld episode or some other comedy. The maintenance guys proceed to take the seat apart until it is in pieces and my DN boards the plane, takes her seat and off they fly to California.

Lest you think the adventure ends there, you are wrong the return flight is just as eventful.

Effects of 1 Year Challenge

May 29th, 2010 at 06:28 am

Games are for kids and challenges are for adults, lol. Same thing, just a different word. But it helps me immeasurably as I move through life. Drudgery can be fun and/or exhilirating if shared or done as a contest. Although I procrastinate, its not so much when in a challenge. Plus a challenge helps me develop and keep habits I want and/or want to maintain. Having this forum helps me to have accountability. So my thanks to all of you even though you don't know you are participating.

One of my weak areas in my budget has been eating out. Each month I would swear to do better. When I eat out it is almost always with a gift card, coupon or using a restaurant promotion (combo of the three). That makes it much easier to rationalize. This challenge without even thinking about it has brought my eating out down to much less than my budgeted amount.

Plus my at home food bill is much much lower. I'm incorporating todays eating/shopping with my 1 year challenge. An example is the Kraft Salad Dressing has a $2 off produce when you buy 2 bottles, well my dressing is free so the produce is free. I can do this once a day (coupon rule, not mine) so I could get $14 in produce free this week. Another store has BBQ sauce on sale with coupons. I could get the BBQ sauce and 1/4lb of hamburger free. I know that is small but do that BBQ deal 4 time in that order and you have a free lb of hamburger and 4 BBQ sauces. I like BBQ sauce for summer, I love it for meatloaf in winter.

I got my credit card bill for this last month yesterday and I was shocked at how low it was. I had to go over twice as I was sure there was a mistake or something just wasn't on it yet. It was 50% lower than usual and that is with just 3 weeks of the challenge. I charge everything. Yes, even my .31 orders. Why? So I can't escape or forget my monthly expenses and so I can get credit card points to go to my gift cards. I payoff my bill every month. This month I will do it proudly.

93 Cents

May 27th, 2010 at 06:50 pm

After twice through the line at Food Lion I ended up with:

15 Kraft Salad Dressings
9 Jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter (I debated with
myself whether or not I should get All Natural)
6 Benedryl

The cost of each deal was 31 cents. I saved over $60 off the full retail value. Some would not pay full retail, so I saved about $45 off the sale price.

Structure of a deal is important. It allows you to get the maximum for your money. Although doing it on the grocery level gives small returns each time, adding up to alot over time, it is definitely a lesson for bigger life decisions and choices.

Kraft Deal at Food Lion

May 26th, 2010 at 06:39 pm

The deal is actually better than I thought it would be. The Kraft Dressing is listed in the sales ad as 2 for $4. At the store the MVP price is 3 for $5 or $1.67 each. So my initial purchase cost me $.78, not the $2.50+ I thought it would. And, add to that on the display was another coupon for $2 off produce with the purchase of 2. So, I got 5 bottles of Kraft dressing for $.78oop and got back a $3 catalina. I used that to purchase 5 more bottles and some bananas, crown broccoli and a 16.5oz jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter for ta-dah drum role please...$.23 cents plus I got another $3 catalina.

I now have 10 bottles of dressing and I will continue to use the overage to build my pantry and accummulate Kraft dressing. Foodlion doesn't have there computers quite right yet so I will only do 2 deals a day. Anything over my needs will go to the food pantry.

Having the goal of purchases for free or pennies has really helped me focus. There are lots of good deals out there, but having this criteria keeps me focused and creative.

Starting Sunday, Walgreens had a great deal. Ecotrin is $2 with a $2MFQ and then a 2RR. Assuming there is any on the shelf, I already know how I want to spend my freebies. Barilla pasta 2/$2. Imperial Sugar $2.19. Peanut butter $2. Smuckers Strawberry $2. A Foodlion is just across the street so 2 deals in one trip. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Dollar a Day Challenge

May 25th, 2010 at 03:28 pm

I've wondered if I could eat for a $1 a day. I admit to not liking the restrictions. But, as I watch J.Strain do it I think maybe I could. That is after I have built up my 1yr supply and all I have to do is replace it. Is that cheating? By the rules he has it would be but these will be my rules.

What makes me think I could do it. Today I shopped at Giant. I got:

5 jars of F.Rinaldi pasta sauce
5 packages of Ronzoni pasta
14 packages of Zatarain's rice
6 12oz bottles of Guldens spicy brown mustard
2 bottles of vlasic relish (one dill/one sweet)
= $1.83 after sales/coupons

I made a mistake on one of the 4 orders so I had to return two of the Zatarain's to take the order down to .42 (making total oop 1.83) and the total down to 14 packages. You have to do what you have to do to meet your goals and budget.

If someone had asked me, I would have said I couldn't do it. But when this sales ends on Thursday, I think I will be moving on to a sale at Food Lion to stock up on Kraft dressings. I like it for marinades, pasta salads and if I can find it made with olive oil then salads also. It might even be a small mm with the catalina and coupons, we'll see. So, after 4 deals it would be free for 20 bottles of dressings, a true moneymaker after that. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Learning Curve

May 23rd, 2010 at 07:25 pm

I've done alot of deals at CVS, Riteaid, Target and Walmart (not a food store Walmart/Target). With my new goal to stock up on 1 yrs worth of food I have to get good at grocery stores. I do alright, I shop the sales, use coupons, etc. But I don't take it to the heights others do. Some have it down to a fine art. To meet my new goal I have been "lurking" on the grocery threads at slickdeals.net.

I've been able to stock up on a years worth of cereal and Zatarain's rice. By paying attention to several posts I put together my first deal, not just a copycat.

Giant Food:
(4) boxes Zat's Rice
(2) Bumble Bee Tuna 2.5oz
(2) Gulden Brown Spicy Mustard
(1) jar Francesco Rinaldi Sauce
(1) lb Ronzoni Smart taste Spaghetti
(1) lb Salt
= $19.49 - 18.74 sales/mfq = .75 oop

Being pleased I thought I'll do it again but not get the salt and my oop will be .06. Nope:

=18.80 - 18.19 sales/mfq = .65 oop

Might as well as bought the salt. I used the exact same coupons. The only change was I did not buy the salt. I know what happened, just not why. One of the coupons that doubled at .55 did not double in the next two rinse and repeats without the salt.

What will tomorrow bring with the same items and coupons? The couponing adventure will continue... I plan to do the same deal several more times. Instead of salt I will get bananas or apples.

My Riteaid deals went off without a problem, I now have:

(2) 14 pill packs of Cetirizine
(2) 20 pill packs of Loratadine
(1) Squeeze Container of Hellmann's
(3) 4 packs of Noxzema razors
(1) lb of Morton's salt
(4) Visine
(1) Cascade Dishwasher Detergent

My total oop $1.69 after sales/discounts/store&mfq. I used a gc to pay the $1.69 and I should get a $2 scr for the Cascade. So a .31 mm.

Why I bought so much salt is beyond me. One I prefer Sea Salt and two I don't use salt except in cooking with a recipe calling for it.

CVS was successful also. I did 3 deals.

deal #1
(2) Gillette Bodywash $4 ea
$8 - $4/2MFQ - 4ecbs = .48 oop tax got back 8ecb

deal #2
(3) jars Ragu Spaghetti sauce
(2) jars 30 oz Hellmann's Mayonnaise
(2) cans of Lindsay Olives
= $12.98 - $3.75MFQ - 8ecbs = $1.23 oop got back 3ecb

deal #3
(4) 16.9oz Nivea for Men @$3.99ea
$15.96 + 1.02tax = 16.98 - $3/$15 - $12mfq = $1.98 oop
got back $5ecbs

Condensed:
Started with 4ecbs, Spent 11ecbs, ended with 8ecbs
Oop costs: .48+1.23+1.98= $3.69
8ecb(ending) - 4ecbs(starting) - $3.69 = .31 profit and lots of things

Nivea for Men/Gillette Bodywash -Food Bank or Homeless Shelter
Zat's Rice - Food Bank

Planned vs Unplanned Purchases

May 22nd, 2010 at 06:46 pm

Most of my purchases are planned. I work out the deal ahead of time using sales, coupons (store & manufacturer), rebates (store & manufacturer) and discounts offered. Ex. of discount vs sale is Riteaid's Wellness Card gives a 10% discount on nonsale items purchased.

I even purchases items I hope I will not use. Why? Because, if I get the flu/food poisoning and need Immodium (generic) I will probably have to ask someone to get it for me and they will not get generic and I will pay full price on a name brand. Ouch! So I now try to weave items like this into my deals to get them for free or pennies. This week it is Visine and generic Claritin for the fall allergy season. In September, the sales for cold and flu season will start and it will be stock up time. I noticed I'm getting low on tylenol so I will be keeping my eye out for deals. There are some sales but the cost is not low enough yet.

I'm careful to look at expiration dates. Its easier to do this when you feel well and are not rushed. Some expirations can extend out for 2 years or more. Those dates will be my first pick. I look to the back of the shelf for the longer expiration dates since stores put closer exp. dates to the front (unless the stocker is lazy or rushed or customers pawing thru the stock, lol Wink. I always fix any mess I cause looking thru stock.

If I constantly pay full price for things it is hard for me to save money and do the things I want to do without going into debt. Living on debt, to me, is like living on the edge, if I want to live on the edge it will not be because of debt. I would choose traveling, a great book or movie, etc. not debt.

Although this is serious, I took learning about the sale/couponing/rebate process like a game. Learning the rules like you do to Bridge, Monopoly or Texas Hold'em. There are rules and strategies. It can be fun. It can be serious. For some it is intense. But in the end it is up to you what level you take it to, and how successfully it works for you. Will you win and to what degree?

Another Free Deal for the Project

May 19th, 2010 at 07:18 pm

I admit to Grocery Store envy at times. I will read on blogs about this store or that store having items free with coupon and live no where near those stores. I mean way far away. The grass is always greener as they say.

These last ten days I've had 2 really good deals in my stores. The first was the cereal deal at Safeway. The second is the Zatarain's deal at Giant Food. I have it down to an art now. I'm in and out with 16-32 boxes in about 15 minutes at zero dollars out of pocket.

I love their Dirty Rice. Sooo good! I am now the proud owner of 56 boxes in different flavors for my one year food project and with one more day to go for the sale I plan to get 32+/-. Some will go to the food pantry, and some will stay here. The coupon in my area is $1/4 boxes. Other areas got a $1/3 boxes which would have meant I could use the overage to buy other items. But, hey, I'm grateful to have the opportunity to get a rice I love for free.

I stopped at Safeway. They have a new catalina deal. Buy 2 ziploc containers and get a $2 cat. I understand its not in all parts of the country yet so YMMV.

Safeway Deal:

Buy 4 get them for $1.99 each

$7.96 =4 x 1.99
+ .35 =tax
- 4.40 4 x .55doubled
- 4.00 $4 in oyno cats
= -.09 Got back $4 oyno cats

I bought a gallon of milk to soak up the overage. Its on sale for $1.99 a gallon. Safeway has given me the overage in cash before but I try not to do that. I have enough coupons to do this 4 more times.

And, I clipped the Box Tops off for my school. So, that is another .40 savings. With budget cut backs every little bit helps. Believe me when I say it adds up and makes a difference. If you don't have children in school, the schools would still love to have you donate them.

Eggshells

May 19th, 2010 at 03:20 am

I like to recycle. I like to help the birds, plus I get to see them up close.

While reading 101 ways to help bird by Laura Erickson I found that birds are in great need of usable calcium. She suggested keeping your eggshells and the next time you have your oven on, turn it to 250 degrees, at the end of your regular cooking and bake the eggshells for 20 minutes. Crush them to smaller than a dime, put them someplace the birds will find them but not in a birdfeeder with seed and watch it disappear.

It works and mine went quickly. So that is what I will be doing with my eggshells.

Lessons Learned...

May 18th, 2010 at 06:25 pm

I learned two couponing lessons today and one reminder. One, keep the order small when attempting free food, that way it is easy to correct and you will not spend as much money on mistakes. Two, keep up with store policy as regards coupons. Number two is more difficult at Giant Food as it changes weekly it seems. Reminder lesson, double check your coupon value before leaving home. I thought I clipped the $1/3 and it was the $1/4. Darn!

Giant Food

8 boxes of Zatarain's Rice
1 27oz can Seasoned Mixed Greens
2 bananas
8 2.5oz pouches of Bumble Bee Tuna
1 15oz can black beans, Giant brand
=25.75
-21.67 store & manf. coupons
= 3.91 out of pocket

Had I done as planned I would have had .50 or less oop. I am still pleased with what I got for the money.

Tomorrow, when I go back I will do better.

Trip to Riteaid

May 16th, 2010 at 07:05 pm

I had to improvise. Some things were out of stock or sold out. They only carry a few of each item, so my guess is sold out due to the sale.

My Allergy Gift of Savings has a short expirations date. The Fall GOS was for several months. Hence the rush to spend. Not many deals this week of next. Since I am starting my new project I looked on iheartriteaid.com to see the flyers for this week and next. The Allergy GOS has to be spent all at once so this is what I chose:

4 Hormel Compleats (actually very good)
2 24oz cans of Planters cocktail peanuts
(I have a blender that can turn it into peanut
butter, cool)
1 17oz Olive oil extra virgin
1 32oz Heinz white vinegar
1 18oz Sunmaid raisins
1 milky way miniatures (ok, not part of project)

Total 29.46
MfQ 3.00
Wellnes1.05
5off25 5.00
GOS 20.00
= Total oop .41

I needed vinegar and wanted the chocolate. I had planned to get an additional raisin and some craisins. But, they were out.

I also stopped at Walmart and will tell about that tommorrow.

Lunch with Mom & Sis

May 15th, 2010 at 04:21 pm

I had lunch with my mom and sister today. I had a Chilis $25 gc I got from points earned on my credit card. Normally I would not get a Chilis gc. I like Chilis, but they are 40 mins drive away. However, marketing got me. The hunger for a better deal. LOL. I spent the same points I would for a gc but if I got a Chilis they would throw in an extra $5 gc for movie tickets, a dinner and movies promo. I've had the gc for months, gave my niece the movie gc.

Finally mom was well enough to travel to Annapolis to go to Chilis. Yea! At the last minute my sis said she could go also. Another Yea! We had alot of fun. A girls day out. We had hoped they would have a promo running but it ended last week, boo. The service was incredibly good and the food very good.

When we got back my son was there waiting for us. I'm not sure how my day could get better.

After dropping mom off and visiting with DS, my sis and I headed to Safeway and Giantfood for mom. I have been giving away $10 off $50 purchase coupons to Safeway because I never spend $50 after all coupons and deductions. Today, shopping for mom I could finally use it. She can't shop for herself anymore. Dad doesn't like the grocery store and procrastinates something fierce when asked to go. However, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's don't seem to be a problem, lol.

Perhaps the best way to save is to take pleasure in the company of others, its free.

I didn't do any shopping for myself. Guess I'll do it tomorrow.

1 Year Supply of Food

May 14th, 2010 at 05:51 pm

I have a 6mo-1yr(ok multiyear) supply of household and personal care goods. My next project is going to be acquiring a 1 year supply of food.

Most grocery stores keep a 3 day supply of food on their shelves.

Although not a Mormon, I've read that they are encouraged by their church to keep a one year supply of food. I forget the water amount but I think that is a year also. This food is for emergencies. That would include: weather, terror issues, layoffs, illness, disruption in services and any number of other personal and not personal emergencies. Seems smart to me.

To be honest, this recovery isn't much of a recovery and the chances of a double dip far out weigh the chances of a continued recovery in my opinion. Am I sounding paranoid, maybe, but my job depends on people on the Hill giving my State money to keep teacher jobs. So, better safe than sorry.

The food pantry will continue to receive donations and the troops will be an ongoing project. This is an add-on project. My goal is to acquire as much as I can for free using overage from coupons, sales and rebates.

I have 74 boxes of cereal. Overkill, I know. I got 70 this week for free using the Safeway sale, coupons and oyno coupons. At least 22 will go to the food pantry. As I get other boxes for free I will donate to increase my variety.

I got 7 cans(5oz) of tuna and 1 can(12.5oz) of chicken breast. I did pay .40 for the $2.12 can because cashiers at Walmart get antsy if you don't pay anything on a $20 order(I suppose you could divide the .40 by the 8 items I got). Safeway clerks seem immune.

Tomorrow I plan to get 2 scrubbing bubbles to spend the overage. For me, after tax that will be $1.12. I might do 2 orders. Yes, for a grand total of $2.24. There are 11 $5 off coupons left.

Looking at my Riteaid Allergy Gift Certificate, there is only 2 weeks left to use it. Grrr. Sunmaid raisins are on sale next week plus some other food items so maybe I'll work on the dried fruit end of my one year supply. This will take 3-6 mos as soups and oatmeal will not be on sale until fall. Just another project to teach me patience.

Savings Totals for CVS/Safeway Deal

May 13th, 2010 at 05:34 pm

I don't keep track of my deals on excel or anything like that. I am careful and plan each deal. I stopped at CVS today since I was driving by. I scan my card at the coupon center everytime I go in.

This week, I keep getting $1 off CVS haircare. So, I buy the CVS shampoo or conditioner for $1 ea, use the coupon and pay tax. It will go to the food pantry.

My receipt showed my Extracare Card balance as of 5/10/10. Year to date savings $626.20 and spending $37.44 I believe some of that is a $25 gift card for a prescription transfer. My savings is 94.7%. Since I am not sure how tax fits into the spending part of CVS recordkeeping, it could be tax, but I don't think so.

Today my out of pocket was $.19 and .06 was tax.

$.49 5 cans of Bumble Bee Tuna
$3.69 1 Stayfree Max
$.99 1 CVS hair conditioner (kiwi, smells good)
Total $7.19

I decided to burn 2 ecb. My total ecbs right are to high. I don't shop at CVS the way I used to so 5-10 ecb are more than enough to rollover each month. I was at 22+. Next week canned chicken and salmon are on sale so I will probably buy some to further reduce my numbers.

Then I went to Safeway. I bought my allowed 20 boxes.

$1ea 2 boxes Kelloggs Cornflakes
$1.50ea 2 boxes Kelloggs Raisin Bran
$5 total
-$2 MQ (2 $1/2 boxes)
-$3 OYNO I keep rolling from different deals
= 0 out of pocket
plus I get a $3 OYNO

Did this 5 times for 20 boxes of free cereal. Rinse and repeat.

Two Raisin Bran went to Mom and I'll keep some Raisin Bran for me. The rest will go to the food pantry.

I considered getting 4 boxes of Cornflakes giving myself $1 to spend with each order for a total of $5. Maybe tomorrow. I have the coupons and I need some bananas, apples and broccoli. And, the food pantry is always in need.

Project Renamed

May 10th, 2010 at 07:05 pm

The Soldier Project is officially renamed the Marine Project. I have been informed by my son that he is not a soldier, he is a Marine. To all Marines out there, no insult was intended. I plead ignorance and ask forgiveness!

We assembled 26 of the 38 personal care bags. Once we got started it was hard to stop. Each student was going to do one bag and that turned into 6 bags each very quickly. America used to have work parties. Kind of like the Amish do now with barn raising canning parties, and quilting bees. Working together made the whole thing fun and time just flew by.

I stopped at CVS tonight:
5 always pantiliners, 2 stayfree pads, 2 reach floss, 1 CVS shampoo, 2 30ct cotton swabs after coupons and 4 ecbs I paid .68 (everything gets donated)

Next stop Walmart:
2 visine, 4 benedryl topical sticks, can of 12.5oz white breast chicken after coupons = .76 (all but the chicken will be donated)

Last stop Safeway:
1 dozen eggs, 1 eating right dinner, 2 boxes cereal, 2 boxes BC cake mix, 2 cans BC frosting, 1 box BC brownies, 2 gal milk after coupons and $4oyno = .74

The clerk was using the automatic change machine so I grabbed my change and left. Out of habit, I checked my change and realized other folks must have left their change, because I had $1.07 in my hand. So technically after coupons I made 33cents.

I think I'll offer to bring a cake and ice cream to this weekends triple birthday celebration.