3 Ways Couponing Can Raise Your Expenses

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3 Ways Couponing Can Raise Your Expenses

Why do you use coupons?

 

To save money, right?

 

Did you know that coupons can (sometimes!) cost you more than they can save you?

 

When you’re couponing it can be easy to get caught up in the game, but if you’re not careful, you can spend more than you intend to and not even realize it. It’s not that coupons aren’t a great way to save money because they are. It’s more that they can become a huge waste and often, that huge waste goes unnoticed in the day to day humdrum of life.

 

Not sure how?

 

Let’s take a look at 3 ways couponing may raise your expenses.

 

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1.When You’re Buying Items You Don’t Actually Need

It is incredibly easy to allow yourself to buy something simply because you have a coupon and it’s on sale. Unfortunately, this is a great way to waste money as well.

 

If you’re buying things only because you have a coupon and not because you have a true need for it, you need to ask yourself if it is a product that your family will actually use or if it will simply end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust. When those items do more than collect dust or expire, you’ve wasted the money you spent on it. It doesn’t matter if you only spent $0.25 on it, eventually that $0.25 adds up to a significant amount of money added onto your grocery budget.

Instead, make sure that every item on your shopping list is an item that you truly need. By doing so you won’t be wasting valuable money from your grocery budget.

 

(However, if that 25¢ item can be donated to someone who CAN use it, by all means, go for it!)

 

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2. When You’re Buying More Items Than You Can Reasonably Use

Buying your groceries in bulk can be a fantastic way to save money on groceries, but buying in bulk can also cause you to spend more. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a huge container of ketchup or 25 smaller bottles of mustard, when you’re buying more than the average bottle size or number of an item, it’s bulk.

If when you buy in bulk, you purchase more than you can reasonably use before the item spoils, you’re wasting money. This money can show in your grocery budget, your gasoline costs (since you’re transporting more products), and possibly even in your household expenses.

When you buy more than you need of an item, you have to have a place to store them. This might mean that you’re being forced to live in a bigger home, have to buy a storage shed or even both. Those expenses can be quite hefty and will make their way through your family budget as a whole.

To prevent that from happening, be sure that you’re only purchasing the things you need in reasonable amounts that can be used by your family before they expire. Keeping the number of items to a reasonable amount will help prevent storage issues that could be extremely costly.

 

 

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3. When You’re Printing Coupons That You Don’t Actually Use

Ask just about any couponer and they’ll tell you that they print coupons but when you’re printing coupons for items you won’t use or are not using those coupons before they expire, you’re wasting money and causing your expenses to go up. Not only will you cause your ink expenses to rise, but you’ll wear your printer out quicker and you’ll use more electric than you should be.

On top of that, if you’re printing coupons close to their expiration date, you’ll very likely use more gasoline on that last minute (and often unplanned) trip to the grocery store to use them before they reach their expiration date.

Instead, make sure that you’re only printing coupons that you absolutely know you will be able to use before they expire.

 

 

Couponing at its core is a great way to save, but when you use those coupons, make sure that you’re keeping a keen eye on things. If you don’t, you risk spending more than you intend to without even realizing it.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one ~ leave a comment to share! 

 

 

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How to Save on Grocery Bills by Shopping *THESE* 7 Weeks a Year

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I was thinking about all the great deals going on this week at Publix, Kroger, Walmart and Target, and it dawned on me that there are really 7 weeks each year that you need to grocery shop . . . and one of them is right upon us! As we’re gearing up for grilling out, the corporate folks at our favorite grocery stores have everything strategically planned around what they know we’ll buy.

Which means all we have to do is outsmart them. 🙂 

Here’s how to save on grocery bills by strategically shopping these 7 BIG weeks of each year.

There are seven big shopping cycles each year that are absolutely the best weeks to shop, because stores know we’re ready to shell out some cash. These are the weeks that stores will have seasonal items on sale for their lowest prices of the year, so you can easily stock up.

 

Curious which weeks they are? Here we go!

 

(ranked in order leading up to the very *best* times to grocery shop)

How to Save on Grocery Bills – Shop THESE 7 Weeks:

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7. Super Bowl

Come February when we’re all ready to make every appetizer on the planet, retailers are stocking their shelves with great prices on everything you’ll need to whip up a bit batch of chili. Stock up during Super Bowl on these items:

  • paper products
  • canned tomatoes
  • beans
  • tortilla chips
  • cream cheese
  • sour cream
  • soda
  • canned goods
  • chips and dips

6. Labor Day
  • chips
  • soda
  • ground beef, ribs, boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • corn
  • apples
  • cereal
  • snack size mixes (for back to school)
  • uncrustables
  • everything back to school

5. Memorial Day
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • chips and dips
  • condiments
  • marinades
  • hamburger and hotdog buns
  • chips and salsa

4. 4th of July
  • blueberries
  • peaches
  • watermelon
  • cherries
  • marinades
  • chips and dips
  • angel food cake
  • baked beans
  • condiments
  • beef
  • firewords
  • soda
  • paper products
  • bug spray, sunscreen

3. Easter
  • canned veggies
  • cream soups
  • ham
  • baking supplies – flour, sugar, brown sugar
  • Nestle tollhouse
  • butter
  • eggs
  • vinegar
  • Sister Schuber rolls
  • candy

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2. Christmas
  • oranges
  • baking supplies
  • Nestle morsels
  • ham, turkey
  • stuffing mix
  • Sister Schubert rolls
  • cranberry sauce
  • hot chocolate
  • butter
  • eggs
  • boxed potatoes, gravy
  • cream soups
  • canned pumpkin

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1. Thanksgiving
  • pumpkin
  • apples
  • baking supplies
  • Nestle morsels
  • ham, turkey
  • stuffing mix
  • Sister Schubert rolls
  • cranberry sauce
  • hot chocolate
  • butter
  • eggs
  • boxed potatoes, gravy
  • cream soups
  • canned pumpkin

how to save on grocery bills during THESE 7 weeks

Have you found other seasonal cycles that are worth shopping? I’d love to hear which are your favorite weeks to shop! Leave a comment to share.

And if you have other tips and tricks for how to save on grocery bills – I always love to hear them!

 

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Looking for more savings tips and tricks? Here you go: 

 

 

 

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5 Steps To Budgeting {On An Irregular Income}

budgetirregularincomeDo you have an irregular income? If your paycheck varies each month, monthly budgeting can be hard, but there are a few things you can do to make it work for you.

Irregular incomes can be extremely hard to budget for obvious reasons. You can never count on a set amount of income from month to month. It can leave you open to not having enough income to cover your expenses, having to draw from your savings and other financial stresses. Learning how to budget your irregular income can help prevent those and other financial crisis moments from happening. 

5 Steps To Budgeting {On An Irregular Income}

 

Here’s what you can do though to make budgeting on an irregular income work for you: 

1.  Determine your average income.

To do this, take the past 3 or 6 month’s income and add each month up. Take the number you are left with and divide by the number of months that you added (3 or 6). This will give you the average income that you make each month. You will use this average when figuring your budget.

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2. Create your budget.

Just like you would normally do, create a budget based on the average income you found in step #1, create budget categories and assign income to your expenses. Ideally, you should have fewer expenses than you do income. Once your expenses are covered, be sure to place any income that you have left over into your savings account. Doing so will allow you to build a buffer of savings for yourself so that your budget can handle a month when your income might fall below your average (which absolutely will happen from time to time.)

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3. Skim your expenses.

When budgeting an irregular income, you really want to skim your expenses down as far as you can. To do this, consider your “must-cover” expenses first. When you put your budget together make sure that you budget enough to account for these expenses before anything else:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Gasoline and car related fees
  • Must have medical costs

 

 

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4. Budget for non-necessities.

Once your main expenses are covered, you’re free to account for any budget items that aren’t necessary such as entertainment, extra-curricular activities for your kids and so on. When your income is irregular though, it’s incredibly important to make sure your basics are covered, and as much as you can put money into savings to bulk up that savings account when you’re first starting out. Be sure to focus on covering those primary expenses first, then take care of a few non-necessities, and finally add any excess income into savings to cover months where your income is less.

savenomoney35. Bulk up your savings.

After a few months of budgeting especially focusing on those main expenses, work towards building up your savings so that you can cover up to a full month or more of your budget using your savings account. Once that happens, you can officially live off of last month’s income, which will allow you to constantly stay one step ahead of yourself and your expenses. Living off of your previous month’s income can take the financial stresses of having an irregular income away and give you a sense of peace about your financial future.  If you’re new to budgeting and totally lost at where to start, I highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover ~ you’ll learn more tips and strategies to help you live on a budget, no matter your income.

How Real Budgeting Works In Our House

Looking for more budget solutions?

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9 Secrets to Saving on Medical Expenses

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If you’ve been looking for ways to save on medical expenses, you’re not alone!   The cost of office visits, prescriptions, and follow-up care can be overwhelming and disheartening – but there are several things you can do to lower your costs.   Check out these 9 tips and tricks to save money on your medical bills!

Ways to Save on Medical Expenses

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1. Be Honest With Your Doctor

It’s normal to fear your upcoming medical costs before you ever leave the examination room.  Rather than wondering and worrying if there’s anything that can be done – have an honest chat with your doctor before you go.  Ask if all the tests/procedures are necessary (especially if you have a high out of pocket deductible) and if there are any generics for the prescriptions he’s writing.   Sometimes there might even be an over-the-counter medicine that’s equally effective.

Simply knowing you’re in a bind might prompt your doctor to offer you options, or a helpful tip.

… and be sure to ask for SAMPLES!

Doctors offices normally have a supply of various drug samples that are up for grabs – if you know to ask.  By requesting a sample of the drug you need, you may save yourself a few weeks off the purchase of the prescription.

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2. Get Some Prescriptions FREE

Before you run out to fill that new prescription, check around to see if you can get it for free. Some pharmacies (like Publix) have a list of prescriptions they offer at absolutely no cost – while Walmart & Target have a similar list of $4 prescriptions.

Here are some examples of what prescriptions are routinely offered for free or at a value price:

  • Blood Pressure Medication
  • Common Antibiotics
  • Diabetes Medication

 

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3. Make Sure to Get the Best Prescription Price

Unfortunately – only a handful of prescriptions are part of the free or cheap group above.  When you’re faced with a pricier prescription, arm yourself with the tools to find the absolute lowest price in town.  It could mean BIG savings for you over time!

One useful site is GoodRX (they also have a mobile app).  GoodRX  lists the costs of your prescription at pharmacies in your area.  The nice part is, you don’t need to drive all over town to get the best price – just show the cashier at your pharmacy and they’ll match the lowest price around!

*Read more details here

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4.  Check for Manufacturer Coupons

Anytime you have a new prescription, it’s a good idea to search the internet for coupons.  Manufacturers will sometimes have printable coupons, rebates or copay discount cards available!

5. Call the Company and Ask for Help

It never, ever, ever, EVER hurts to try – right?

There may come a time when the prescription that you need is just completely unaffordable.  That’s an awfully scary place to find yourself – and people do every day.
Often, a simple call to the company that makes the drug in question, can be the first step to HUGE savings.  While there’s no guarantee, if you call the company to explain the situation, and ask if they offer a drug assistance card – you could receive phenomenal discounts out of sheer goodwill.  I know of a woman who’s worried phone call to a drug company brought her $2000 prescription down to only $10 a month ~ it never ever hurts to ask!

6. Pay the Bill Up Front for a Discount

You can often get a discount if you offer to pay off the full bill up front for a medical expense.  While that’s not always possible – getting the bill paid in full can leave a lot of extra money in your pocket over time.  Of course that requires budgeting for medical costs…

Just getting started budgeting?  Check out How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House and print out my Free Printable Budget Spreadsheet.

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7. Review Your Bill for Mistakes

You guys . . .  this tip might seem a little silly, but wait until you hear the stats.  While researching how to save on medical expenses, my mind was completely blown when I read in an article that 9 out of 10 hospital bills contain overcharges (9 out of 10!!)  If that’s the case – we should all be reading through our medical bills to make sure there are no add-ons or discrepancies.

 

8. Take Advantage of Employee Health Savings Plans

Does your job offer a health savings account like an Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?  If so, learn all you can about it!  These are great ways to help you save if you have a high-deductible plan.

An FSA is basically money you set aside for the year’s out of pocket medical costs and whatever you put aside will not be counted as taxable income.  The only thing to remember here is that whatever you don’t use by the end of the year – you LOSE (watch the cut off date for when you lose that money – typically March of the following year).  Here are some things you can spend your remaining FSA cash on so you won’t lose it:

  • Sunscreen (be careful not to overstock – this does expire after awhile!)
  • Breast Pumps
  • Contact Lenses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Over the counter medicines (time to toss out anything that’s expired!)
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Chiropractor visits
  • Diabetes testing kits
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Canes, Walkers, etc

Whatever you spend it on – don’t let it go to waste!

 

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9. Staying Healthy

We’ve all heard the saying prevention is the best medicine… and in many cases it’s SO true!  Staying in shape, eating healthful foods, and avoiding health risks are all ultimately saving you big money on future medical expenses.

If you need some motivation for living frugally while managing to eat well and get in shape – you might also enjoy these tips for how to save on organic food!

What other tips do you have for saving on medical expenses? I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

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How Much To Budget For Car Repairs?

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A few years ago, my husband was out of town and I’d taken my youngest to run some errands while my other kiddos were at extracurricular activities.

 

We stopped at several different places, and sure enough at our very last stop my car completely stalled.

 

Now, I know nothing about cars, and of course (really?) I left my phone at home while hurrying out the door.

 

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So I was completely stuck, and ever so thankful for the sweet man who helped jump start my car. When I got home, I called my husband and he suggested I take it to get a new battery ~ thankfully they fixed everything right up and the car was just fine.

 

So why on earth am I telling you all this? 😉

 

While it really wasn’t a big deal at all, for a few minutes I was stranded, with no phone, no one really to call to come save me, and I was pretty worried.

 

However, I wasn’t worried at all about the cost of the repairs, because I knew we had saved for exactly this situation.  

 

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We had enough set aside in our car expense budget, and even though the situation was stressful, I could at least check that one off my worry list.

 

Wanna talk real numbers?  

 

Each month, my husband has a spreadsheet including all of our expenses (all based on the Dave Ramsey plan), so we budget $75 monthly for oil changes and car repairs per car.

 

We’ve been fortunate and haven’t needed much work on our minivan, so whatever additional money is put in that account now goes towards a new car fund when we need one. (Our car now has 189,000 miles on it, and it won’t be too long before we’re needing it!)

 

It’s worth keeping a minimum $700-$1000 in that account because I know just how quickly those car repair bills can add up, but you may decide on a different number, especially if you already have an emergency fund.

 

I really can’t tell you how much peace comes from having money set aside for specific items in our budget. Right now the big ticket items we save for monthly include home repairs, gifts, yard projects, a vacation fund (our favorite!), clothing and even our kids activities. If you don’t have a written budget, schedule a few minutes this week to get started.  (It will give you so much freedom!) And while I know it’s not always fun to put away some of your hard-earned money for not-so-fun expenses that pop up, I promise it’s so worth it.

 

 

Do you save towards car repairs or other specific items that you know can bust your budget? I’d love to hear how you determine what to save . . . leave a comment to share!

 

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

 

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How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House

 

How Real Budgeting Works In Our House

 

Download your free copy of a Monthly Budget Spreadsheet HERE to get started.

 

I get tons of questions for more information on exactly how we handle budgeting around here, so here’s a quick overview of our monthly budget planning.

 

We by no means have it all figured out, but this is what’s worked for us for almost twenty years . . . maybe it will help you too!

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We started years ago using the Financial Peace envelope system, however, at least for our family, keeping up with cash for every single item was just difficult to manage. So, here’s how we’ve tweaked it to work for us:

  • Every two weeks (on Friday), we withdraw cash for groceries, dining out, and entertainment
  • Once a month, we have an automatic withdrawal taken out of our checking account and deposited into savings for other specific items (keep reading)
  • When we need one of those specific items, we transfer money back into checking from savings to cover those expenses.

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So, what kind of things do we budget for beyond food? Here’s an idea . . .
  • Kids sports and extracurricular activities
  • Vacations
  • Christmas gifts (we start saving every January)
  • Birthday gifts
  • Car expenses
  • Car replacement
  • Life insurance
  • Home Owners Association dues
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Furniture Replacement (I don’t think my husband puts much in this one, but I forced him to add it in the spreadsheet) 😉
  • Clothing
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Hair Care
  • School Supplies
  • College Fund
  • “Blow” money
Then, within our monthly budget we have a separate tab (we use a simple Excel spreadsheet) that includes our savings account totals. I just looked at it this morning and the one that we currently are using has been around since 2007 ~ it was interesting that we now have well over ten times what we started with in that little savings account, and I can’t tell you just how much freedom comes with that!

 

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If you’re new to budgeting, here are several free budget spreadsheets you can use to get you started :

 

I’d love to know how your family handles monthly budget expenses, and what other suggestions you have. Leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you!

 

 

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Debt Free Letter From A Reader

I received this email from a reader yesterday, and it was so inspiring to me! If you’re overwhelmed with your finances, know that YOU HAVE CONTROL TOO. Thank you so much Cathy for allowing me to share and your kind words!

Hi Laurie,  My name is Cathy and I have to thank you so much for your blog.   

 

My story goes something like this, I was very poor as a child so when I got married I decided that I would not do without to that degree.  So hubby and I proceeded to get ourselves in debt.

 

If we wanted a new couch and could afford the monthly payments we got it.  We barreled along like that for a few years until we were pretty deep in debt.

 

Enter the first loan consolidation. 

 

We continued on this path until 2007 or so. 

 

I looked at my life and did not like what I saw.  I started researching money saving ideas, frugal hacks, and how to save.

 

Enter coupons. 

 

I continued this way on my own for a year or so and then hubby jumped on board.  By this time I had a vision and realized that we could be debt free.  After, five years we were.

 

We had paid off a little over $55,000.00 for our home, two credit cards and my student loan.  Boy did it feel good.  The only thing is we lost a little bit of our control afterwards and started spending.

 

We did not get in debt but we spent our whole salaries.  Then last April I lost my job,  but thankfully we had learned how to live frugally.

 

Now I feel that God is teaching me how to live content in what I have.   It has been a challenge and so far I have had no luck finding a job.

 

But we can afford to wait. 

 

It has been blogs like yours, the first one I read every day, which have encouraged me to keep going.  So please keep up the good work.

 

Guys – Cathy’s story is so inspiring to me ~ as I completely know that she’s been able to change her finances dramatically, which allowed herpeace during a difficult time. 

 

If you’re in a place where you feel like your finances have overwhelmed you, I encourage you to stop, take a deep breath, and really determine how you want your finances to look.
Determine today to take control, and set things up so that you win.

 

I have faith in you. Just like Cathy, you can do this. 

 

Be encouraged right now, right where you are. Today’s the day to transform your financial future ~ you can do this!

top10budgetbusters

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

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My Teensy Tiny Couponing Pet Peeve

 

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Maybe like a few of you out there, I have a teensy-tiny couponing pet-peeve.

 

Over (and over, and over. . .) I hear people complain that they just don’t have time to coupon.  They work, have busy families, spend time driving kiddos to every activity in town, so couponing just can’t happen.

 

I get that.  Really, I do.

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However, I spend one to two hours each week (clipping, sorting, and shopping) to save an average of $60 – $80 each week. Now I don’t know about you, but for me making $30 to $40 per hour for something I have to do anyways is a pretty decent hourly rate!

 

(See an idea of what my grocery trips look like HERE – you can also read more about our family’s 2015 grocery budget HERE.)

 

Now, I don’t work outside of our home, but I do spend more hours than I care to admit sharing deals with you guys. 🙂  I also have three busy kids, a home to (somewhat!) keep up with, meals to prepare, and a hubby to take care of. (Okay, truth is he doesn’t require much care and he’s an amazing help to me!)

 

Before I started PPP, I spent hours hunting down every deal in town, easily saved 70-90% on every grocery trip and shopped at least 3-4 days a week.  But the reality is, I can’t do that these days, and something has to give.  So, here are a few tips that I use to pinch a penny when I’m also in a pinch for time (which is just about all the time!)

 

 

  1. Determine the very best store to use coupons at in your area.  Believe it or not, you don’t need to hit every drug store, grocery store & supermarket in town to coupon well.  I typically shop each week at Kroger, and supplement my trips with a quick Fresh Thyme, Aldi’s, Sam’s Club run for milk & fresh produce, but that’s it.  (I really do love a good CVS or Walgreens trip, but only do those when the deals are fantabulous!) 🙂
  2. Learn exactly where things are in that store, and organize your coupons before you shop.  If you send me to a grocery store other than my normal Kroger (even another Kroger in town!), my stress level goes way up. Seriously.  I also tend to save less, because I’m not sure where things are at, and am tempted to look at things I don’t need!  By knowing your store well, you’ll find deals you need, skip over the ones you don’t need, and get through the store pretty quickly (a huge time saver!)  And, most items go on sale at a decent price on a 6-8 week rotation at all grocery stores, so if it’s on sale this week at Kroger and you’re a Publix or Meijer shopper, odds are that deal will come to those stores next week!
  3. Use good coupon matchup websites!  As you probably know, there are zillions of coupon blogs and websites out there for you to choose from.  Trying to coupon on your own without help is just crazy when so many folks do hours of work for you!  Choose your store (click on “Store Deals” at the top of PPP), find the deals on your favorite coupon site (I hope it’s Passionate Penny Pincher!), and make sure to read through all the deals at your favorite store before you shop.
  4. Print your coupons.  My coupon binder is a mess right now.  There are coupons everywhere, I have at least 15 inserts that need to be clipped, and I’m not sure there will be any time to fix it real soon.  But I also have a home that needs some Christmas decorating, a few children that need dinner, and a to-do list that’s a mile long.  So to make my life easier, I take advantage of our 10 Minute or Less Printable coupon list (we have them for Target, Kroger and Publix), and head to the store. It’s an easy way to manage my love of saving even with limited time, and really works for me (which is why Shannon works so hard to put them together for all of us to use!) Also, be sure to take advantage of e-coupons as those are just an easy way to save.
  5. Recognize your limitations.  For the longest time when I started using coupons, I was incredibly competitive and wanted to coupon better than anyone else. (I don’t even know who I was comparing myself to!)  Over the last few  years I’ve realized that my time is valuable too, so if I save $50 in an hour (or almost $47, like I did tonight), that’s enough for me.  If I spend an extra hour or two running all over town to save an extra $2-$3, my “per hour” rate goes way down, which just isn’t worth it to me at this point!  So, determine how much time you want to spend, save as much as you can during that time, and LET. IT. GO. (Really!)
  6. Decide to do it.  I know that there are some of you out there who truly don’t have an hour to spend stressing over coupons each week, and if that’s you, I really do understand.  But, if you do have an hour or two each week to shop, go ahead, decide to save, and do the best you can with the time you’ve been given.  (You’ve got to go to the grocery store anyways, so why not do it with a plan in place?) If all else fails, determine to really shop the sales ad. (That alone is a huge savings!)
  7. Don’t get overwhelmed because other folks on TV do it better than you.  Do the best you can do.  Save what you can save, and don’t worry about what anyone else does.  A penny saved truly is a penny earned, whether it be $20 worth of pennies or $200 worth of pennies!  (And, much of what you see on TV isn’t “reality TV” in any way:  so do not compare yourself to that.)
Are they ever going to put me on TLC’s Extreme Couponing (or heaven forbid, Extreme Cheapskates? Yikes!)  
Nope.  Do I care?  Absolutely not!  I saved 69% on my grocery bill, got items that we really do need, and did it all in an hour.  I’m pretty happy with that!  And yes, it’s definitely fun to have one crazy amazing grocery coupon trip.  But, my bill was $21.49 tonight, I saved $46.93, and it took me an hour.  Woohoot!

 

So, now that my rant is over (aren’t you glad that’s through?), I’d love to hear how YOU did saving at the grocery store this week.  I promise, after years of penny pinching it is so worth it!

 

New to couponing? Start out by checking out all our store coupon matchups over HERE, and also take a minute to visit my beginners series over HERE.

 

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Headlights, Cleaned Up Cars & Toothpaste

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Here are the supplies I used

Folks, I spent a solid 83 minutes yesterday scrubbing my poor minivan out.

 

Ugh. 

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G.R.O.S.S. 

It must have been Midlife Crisis Monday at the carwash, because every man over the age of 50 was there buffing their fancy sports car out while I scrubbed, vacuumed, and scoured mine.

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It was bad. 

 

As I was slaving away at least twelve cars came in and out around me (clearly they didn’t have french fries from 2012 stuffed neatly between their seats), and I thought about just how much moo-lah is out there in cars. 

 

My minivan looked pretty pitiful next to all those fancy cars, but it’s paid for, gets us from point A to point B without any problem, and can haul just about anything we need.

 

The thing I love most about my minivan? Because it already has some wear and tear on it, I don’t stress completely over spilt drinks (although they do frustrate me!), and my kids climbing in the car with muddy shoes isn’t the end of the world. (I spend enough time stressing over my house staying clean ~ having a fancy new car would mean I’d have to worry over it staying perfectly tidy too!)

 

But.

Choosing to give it a deep cleaning made such a difference as I drove kids all over town, and it cost me just $5 for the bargain car wash. (I’m all about paying for the drive thru carwash, as long as it includes a free vacuum!)

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Today I decided to try out the toothpaste trick on my pitiful headlights, and while they’re not perfect, five minutes of work definitely helped. All I did was grab a tube of toothpaste, rub it into the headlight with a rag, then rinse it off with water.

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Success!

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(Well, it was a success until the dog decided to race across the street to the people who are laying a sidewalk – my puppy’s food prints are now all over that sidewalk, but at least the headlights are clean!)

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.31.54 PMLeft side wasn’t cleaned yet in this picture – right side was just finished. 

 

Have you tried anything else to shine up dulled headlights? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried, and goodness, if you just want to make your life a little more peaceful this week block out an hour and get your car clean.

 

No matter what you have, whether it be ugly vinyl flooring, cabinets from 1968, or horrendous carpet that needed to head to the dumpster 18 years ago, giving the space you’re in a really deep cleaning will make it feel just a little brighter. 

 

{promise.}

 

I’d love to hear what you’re projects you’re tackling today!

 

 

 

 

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No Spend Challenge: Days 13, 14, 15, & 16

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We survived another weekend in our No Spend Grocery Challenge, and while it isn’t as hard as I’d expected, I’m amazed at how quickly money can get spent even when we’re working to really stick to a tight budget!  With a family of five there are just a lot of expenses (eating out is huge), but we’re sticking with our decision for the month and didn’t do too badly this weekend.

 

Friday night Jackson and Caroline were out for the night so we just had Reagan with us. We spent Friday afternoon working to finish up our taxes (bleck – not a great way to spend a Friday afternoon), and by the time we finished we were famished. We’d promised Reagan we’d go see Cinderella though (it was so good!),  but the next showing was too soon for us to sneak in dinner. We ended up spending a small fortune on popcorn and drinks,  and by the time it was done it was too late to even get dinner! Between the tickets and popcorn we spent $45 (Y.I.K.E.S.) but it was worth every penny. We all loved the movie (I highly recommend this one!), and my sweet seven-year-old even shed a tear or two. 😉

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don’t judge – some days  you just need a butter burger 🙂

Saturday we headed to Culvers with coupons in hand and spent $12 for lunch for the three of us, and after church yesterday all five of us had pizza for $17. Honestly, drinking water while eating out saves a ton, but goodness if I’m being truthful with you it’s hard to do! We don’t go out all that often, and my kids only drink water and milk when we’re at home, so they’re really missing those sodas.

 

We did the math with them though yesterday, and the same $12 that we could easily shell out for drinks for the five of us would purchase 3 salads, 3 orders of breadsticks or 3 orders of wings. Right now we’re adding that money to donate, but it’s a good lesson in how much those drinks can do to bust your budget!

 

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I made a trip to Kroger to get some groceries (we were out of milk), and by the time I re-stocked on some produce and dairy products (as well as half gallons of milk – they’re $1 per half gallon this week in our area!), I’d spent $41. As long as I stick to my budget throughout the week we’ll still be on track (our goal was no more than $50 per week), but it definitely reminded me that every time I step into the store I’m likely to spend a little more than I’d planned. (Which is why skipping shopping completely is often my favorite way to save!)

 

So, our total including today that we’ve spent is $70 during the last four days. (I’m not counting our Cinderella splurge – because it was really entertainment and not eating? ahem.) We’re finishing up our challenge at the end of the week as we near Spring Break, but it’s definitely been so worth keeping track of where we’re at to know where our money really goes each month.  I so fought the idea of taking on this challenge, but am loving staying on track in what we spend on food, so we can enjoy splurging on the things we really love! Here’s where we’re at for the month so far:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3 = $5.17
  • Day 4 & 5 = $15
  • Day 6, 7, 8, and 9 = $67.89 (this included several meals out while I was out of town – we knew we would go over for those few days)
  • Days 10, 11 & 12 = $48.34 (including $30.34 in groceries)
  • Days 13, 14, 15 & 16 = $70
  • Total = $206.40 for all groceries and several meals out

 

I’d love to hear if you’re joining us this month how it’s gone for you, as well as any other tips you have to stay on track. Leave a comment to share your thoughts!

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