Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Financial Goals Progress

As I mentioned in my introduction, we are going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and working hard to pay off debt. We set some goals for March using the baby steps as our guide. So, here is where we are:

Baby Step 1: $1000 Emergency Fund by March 31 - completed as of 3/26

Baby Step 2: Debt Snowball started with $100 paid towards - started & paid $309.92

Close CC Accounts & Shred Cards - DONE

Use Envelope System - We did this, but still have some perfecting to do to make it work best for us!

Sell Expedition - Deal in the works, hopefully done by the end of the week at the latest!

We have been working so hard - cutting the budget as much as possible, selling stuff, and a little bit of extra side work (If you are local and need a babysitter let me know!)

So, what are we looking at for April? April holds an extra paycheck for Josh and we will still set our goals high.

Baby Step 2: Debt Snowball - pay extra 2 payments on van

Envelope System - keep working to make this work for us

Set aside $ for Graduation gift - (My "baby" brother graduates HS this year and we currently do not have a gift fund set up, so we decided on an amount to put aside for this from our extra money AFTER we accomplish the extra van payments)

  • Check policies we have - adjust if needed or helpful
  • Get Health insurance for me
  • Get TERM life insurance for us with riders for the kids

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Coupon 101 - Coupon Lingo

There are a lot of terms and abbreviations specifically related to couponing. Use this as a reference as you view my blog and others that use this lingo.

Couponing - the "game/art" of using coupons

Couponer - a person who uses coupons

Stacking/Stack - using a sale, store coupon, and/or manufacturer coupon together to maximize savings (or make money) on an item. Example: Item is on sale for $2.99 and you have a store coupon for $2 off and a manufacturer coupon for $1 off - you get the item free plus "make" $.01

Coupon Inserts

SS - Smart Source insert found in your sunday paper

RP - Red Plum insert found in your sunday paper

V - Valassis insert found in your sunday paper

P&G - Proctor & Gamble insert found in you sunday paper

Types of Coupons

MFR, MQ, Q - Manufacturer's coupon

Peelies - coupons directly on the item that can be peeled off. These also are sometimes around the "neck" of the products
like shampoo.

Tear pad - pad of coupons on the shelf or display

Blinkies - coupon dispenser (usually red and blinking) near the product

Catalina, Cat - coupon that prints from the register after a purchase

IP - Internet printable

MIR - Mail-in Rebate


ECB - Extra Care Buck - rebates printed at bottom of receipt


ESB - Easy Saver Book - book found at front of store near weekly ad - this is monthly, full of coupons and rebates

ES or ESC - Easy Saver Coupon - coupon found in ESB

ESR - Easy Saver Rebate - rebate found in ESB

IVC - Instant Value Coupon - coupon found in ad or ESB

RR - Register Rewards - coupons/rebates that print out at register

Directly on Coupon

One per purchase - coupon applies to one item - this does not mean you must do separate transactions, but simply means if you have one coupon and buy two of the item the discount is only applied to one of them.

One per order/transaction - you may only use one of these coupons per transaction, but you may do multiple transactions as you check out or come back another day and use another of that coupon for that item.

Once per customer - one per time you enter the store (you are a new customer when you come in the store again). If you get a nice cashier they may let you just do multiple transactions, but if they are alert and sticklers to the rules you may want to go out and come back in or come back another day or just make your husband or child do the transaction for you in a separate order.


BOGO or B1G1 - Buy One, Get One Free

B2G2/B2G1 - Buy 2, Get 2 or Buy 2, Get 1

$1/1, $1/2 - $1 off one item, $1 off two items

CRT - Cash Register Tape - coupon prints at end of receipt or at register

FAR - Free after Rebate

OYNO - On your next order

OOP - Out of pocket

PSA - Prices starting at

WYB - When you buy

Overage - when an item is more than free or gives you a "profit"

Filler - inexpensive item that gives you an expense so that you can use all your coupons to get items free or more than free (the stores will not literally pay you to take their things)

YMMV - Your mileage may vary - basically saying this is the deal at my store, but may not be the same at yours - usually for items that aren't in the ad, but were on clearance or unadvertised special.

I know this list may be a bit overwhelming, but it pretty much covers everything that you may see in your ads, coupon inserts, on coupons, and used on blogs. This should help you interpret what people are referring to so you can get the best deals too!

Coupon 101 - Where to get Coupons

Ok, I've talked to a couple of you who are reading my blog that really aren't that familiar with coupons and asked me to give you more information.

I have recently learned that buying a sunday paper and using the occasional coupon on things that we buy at Wal-Mart and saving $10-20 every week or two is not really maximizing my savings. You can do that of course and you are saving money, however, you could be saving so much more! Couponing is a HUGE thing (and my new hobby), especially with the economy in its current state. Learning to effectively use coupons can save your family a TON of money!

First things first - You will need to build a stock of coupons to maximize your savings. This means acquiring coupons from multiple places. I would recommend starting with the Sunday paper. I would buy at least 2! If there are really good coupons on stuff you use you may want to get more - to determine that you can preview the inserts here.

Another place you can get coupons is All You magazine. This is sold exclusively at Wal-Mart or you can get a subscription. This magazine usually contains higher dollar coupons and is well worth the $.

Store ads (these are usually "store" coupons) & in the store (near or on the product).

Of course, we cannot forget the internet. There are so many places to get coupons online. You can go to the manufacturers websites directly. Many of the sites will have coupons on them. If they don't you can always use the contact us section and tell them how much you like a product or that you would like to try a product and you will often get samples and/or coupons. I just did this with Enfamil after they sent me samples of a formula we couldn't use (we use soy). Not only are they sending me coupons, but also a sample of the soy (hopefully 16oz like I got with the other) A few manufacturer sites I frequent are:

You should also check out sites specifically for coupons:

There are MANY more places to get coupons online, but these are a few of my favorites!

There are also places like Ebay & Craigslist where you can buy coupons (I mean pay someone for their time of cutting coupons for you since buying them is illegal). I personally have never bought them and doubt I ever would, but some people do, so it is an option if it interests you. Just be sure to weigh the cost and make sure you aren't getting expired coupons.

Don't forget your friends and family - do they get the paper and throw the coupons away? Ask them to keep them so you can have them. If they use the coupons, you could trade them ones you won't use for ones they won't use but you will.

Most important - Don't get frustrated or overwhelmed. Do what works for you and if you don't understand something - ASK! This is about doing your best to save your family money and every penny counts, so take it one coupon at a time and learn as you go.

To learn more - see my post on coupon lingo.

More CVS Deals This Week

First of all I apologize for being MIA this week. The week just got away from me, but I hope to do better this coming week. I mentioned in my last CVS post that I received $5/15 and $5/30. I had a few more things I wanted to get and could get some ECB's, so here are more deals!

With my $5/15 I got:

Bengay Cream - $5.49
Coupon - $1.00/1

Bengay Moist Heat Pads - $7.99
Coupon - $2.00
ECB - $5 for buying 2 Bengay items

Schick Quattro - $8.99
Coupon - $4.00
ECB - $3.00

+ $5 from $5/15
+ I paid with $10 ECB

Total OOP - $.60
Total ECB Earned - $8.00

For my $5/30

I must admit that this would have and should have been a better deal, but I was in a rush and knew my baby was out in the car with Daddy and not a happy camper, so I didn't do my best, but still not a terrible deal.

2 Loreal Preference - sale - $6.99/ea
Coupon - $2.00 (I had 2, so $4)

Loreal Face Wipes - $6.99
Coupon - I forgot this one at home ($1 not saved :( )
ECB - Loreal Deal already had some towards this - $5.00

1 Dayquil & 1 Nyquil - sale - $5.49/ea
Coupon - $1.50 (I had 2, so $3)
ECB - $4 for purchase of 2

+ $5 for $5/30
+ $2 ECB used (I had more of these and not sure why I didn't use them - DUH)

Total OOP - $ 19.00
Total ECB Earned - $9.00

I definitely could have paid about $5.oo or less OOP, but still a decent deal looking at normal price of these items.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wal-Mart Super Shopper

Learning to "play the game" at CVS and Walgreens has really opened my eyes to use my coupons to their full potential at Wal-Mart to buy those things that you really can't get for free or just really have to have right now and can't wait until they are free.

I saved $50.85 in coupons on this Wal-Mart trip!

I also saved on some clearance items another $13.06 which seems like nothing compared to my coupon savings, but it is still money in my pocket, so I'll take it.

I won't go through everything I bought, but a few of the highlights:

7 Johnson's Buddies Soaps - FREE + $.03 overage on each
Artisan Cheese crackers - $2.00/2 boxes
Wheat Thins - $1.00
Ritz Chips - $1.00
Mentos Gum - $.28
Shoes for Lily - $3.00
Sani-hands Wipes - $1.00 (bought 2)
Air Effects Air freshner - $1.50/2
Crest Kids Toothpaste $.99/2
Dora Band-Aids - $.97
Diego Band-Aids - $.24
Robots DVD - $4.50
Garfield the Movie DVD - $4.50
Cheaper by the Dozen DVD - $2.00
Sandlot DVD - $2.00
All Dogs go to Heaven DVD - $2.00
V-Smile Backyardigans game - $10.00
Head & Shoulders Trial Size - FREE + .03 overage

Many of the coupons I used were printed online here or here.

Sidenote: If you save over $50 in coupons a Customer Service Manager will have to come to approve the transaction - Don't be alarmed, this is Wal-Mart's policy that you aren't "allowed" to save that much.

CVS 3/22-3/28

I hit CVS today(technically yesterday) - so proud of myself for getting there on sunday! The sale items were actually available and some of my raincheck items from a couple weeks ago had stock too, so I came out with stuff instead of just rainchecks - YAY!

Here's what I got from this weeks ad:

Dry Idea Clinical Strength - $7.99
ECB - $5.00
Coupon - $2.00

Excedrin Migraine 100ct (mine came with a bonus 24ct) - $8.99 (just realized as I type this that is wrong price - should be $7.99)
ECB - $2.00
Coupon - $2.00

Crest Pro-Health - $3.49
ECB - $3.49
Coupon - $.75

Campbell's Soup - B1G1 - $1.49
Coupon - $1.00

Aveeno Anti-Itch Cream (bought 2 @ $4.49/ea)
ECB - $2.00/ea
Coupon - $2.00/ea

These are my raincheck items:

Lucky Charms (bought 2 bxs @ $3.33/ea)
Coupon - $.55/ea

Nature Valley Granola Bars - $3.34
Coupon - $.60
ECB (for Lucky Charms & Granola) - $5.00

Herbal Essence Hydralicious (bought 2 @ $2.88)
ECB - $1.00/ea
Coupon - $3.00/2

I used $14.99 ECB I had from last week.

Total OOP - $17.70

ECB Earned - $19.49
Also got a $5/$15 and a $5/$30 (from the scanner @ Highland CVS)

Overall, pretty good considering I made more than I paid - way more if you count the coupons!

Friday, March 20, 2009



Get a free sample of Dove Hair Care here.


Go Here for a free sample of Prilosec OTC.


Free Bread Breakthrough Recipe Book

Thursday, March 19, 2009

These Boots...

This picture is worth a thousand words! Lily LOVES her pink cowgirl boots. She, at 13 months old, picked these out and will wear them anywhere with anything (or nothing but her diaper). They completely fit her rough & tough yet pretty in pink personality!

My Sanity

We all need a little time to ourselves, or at least away from our children, especially when you are a SAHM and you live where you work. My escape is scrapbooking. It is a great way for me to get away, get some time with other adult women, use my creative energy, and preserve my families memories in a really cool way. I try to get away to scrapbook at least once a month and this year may have the opportunity to get away twice a month if it fits in the schedule. Last weekend was one of my opportunities and this is what I got done (please keep in mind I go as much for the social as the productivity, so I often get done more talking than scrapping).

I actually created this page last month, but didn't have my needle and thread to complete the title and little heart in the corner. This stitching is a new technique for me and I love it! Here's a closer look:

and here is the other page I did (I still have to finish the title - Indoor Egg Hunt) from when it snowed on Easter last year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What can you do with 15 minutes?

With a 2 month old, 19 month old, 4 1/2 year old (that we have part time - with different rules/routines at his mom's vs. our house), and a 12 month old (I babysit every other day) things get a little crazy. With that much going on my house definitely needs to be clean, but it is often difficult to find time to clean it. In addition to all that is going on with the kids we are battling lots of STUFF that hadn't found a home since we move in over 1 1/2 years ago and STUFF that had been accumulated since then. After I healed from having our son and knew that I was going to be staying home permanently I vowed to do something about the CHAOS that lurked around every corner. But what? I was so overwhelmed with the clutter I needed to tackle.

Not knowing where to start I joined a SAHM forum on Facebook. I found a lot of ideas, but none that seemed to fit my family and our overwhelming situation. Then, one of the mom's suggested Flylady! I decided to check it out and found my solution. The first idea I took hold of was her 15 minute idea. This just said to focus on ONE area (don't get sidetracked) and doing what you can in 15 minutes. Whatever you don't get done you simply come back to later. I wasn't sure I could leave something undone after I started it, but I thought I could likely spare 15 minutes once or twice throughout the day and actually get something done instead of putting it all off because I wouldn't have time to finish it.

My first 15 minute session I decided to focus on the toys that were from my front door to the back and everywhere in between (it looked like a tornado hit the house - you know what I'm talking about). I set my timer and off I went! To my surprise I had ALL the toys picked up in 5 minutes. So, with my additional 10 minutes I decided to pick up the trash and dishes from the living room and dining room. Having completed this with time to spare I folded all the blankets the kids had drug out to build a fort. WOW - my whole living room, the dining room floor, and half (ok, maybe 1/3) of the dining room table was cleared! Maybe this Flylady was onto something! I was able to steal 3 more 15 min. sessions that day and was able to completely clear off my dining room table, clear off and wipe down all but one of my kitchen counters, unload & reload the dishwasher, do two loads of laundry, and clean out my refrigerator of old food! All that in addition to the living room, so I had picked up and surface cleaned 2 1/2 rooms and made a dent in the laundry pile.

This is a practice I've held onto since then and have really been able to accomplish so much using it. You really would be AMAZED at what you can accomplish in 15 MINUTES! So, check out Flylady and set your timer for 15 minutes - post a comment, let me know what you are able to get done!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Classic Toy - Lots of BANG for your BUCK!

There are so many toys out there these days and we are absolutely saturated with ads about them, but the toy I want to talk about today is one that you almost never see ads about, yet it is one of the most valuable for your child's development. What is it?


Why are these such valuable toys? What are the benefits?

  • Increased hand-eye coordination
  • Enhanced logical thinking
  • Enhanced spacial awareness
  • Social advantages & team building skills
  • Enhanced language development
  • Creativity & Imagination
They also give you a lot of bang for your buck! How so?

  • Used by a large age group (babies, toddlers, older children)
  • Serve many functions as kids creativity blossoms
  • Durable (a little less so if you purchase foam blocks)
Also, depending on the blocks you chose they could be great to help pre-school children in learning colors, numbers/counting, and possibly even the letters of the alphabet.

How many other toys offer this many benefits? Many toys offer a few of these, but not all of them. Those toys that do offer these types of benefits are often expensive, but blocks are significantly easier on the pocketbook. I purchased my children's blocks on black friday for $10 for a 100 piece set (if you don't want to get out then you can usually still find them for a few days after at the same price at Wal-Mart). For $.10 per piece I think that is a pretty good deal!

Sausage & Egg Casserole

Ok, so I meant to post this sooner, but my bed (actually my couch) was calling my name at 9 pm last night. We were in charge of snacks for sunday school this week and this is what we made. Those of you who know me also know that cooking is not one of my strong points or favorite tasks, but with staying home comes cooking and with cooking at home comes SAVING MONEY, so I'm learning (and maybe even starting to enjoy it a little).

Sausage & Egg Casserole


  • 6 slices bread, cubed
  • 1 lb. sausage, browned, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
(Note: If you use a seasoned sausage (we used some large links that we had in the freezer) it is not necessary to add the salt or pepper to the egg mix)


Cube bread and place evenly in greased 9x13 pan/baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with sausage and cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over ingredients in pan. May cover and chill overnight (If left overnight, remove from refrigerator 15 min. before baking). Bake 45 min. at 325 degrees or until set. Cut into squares and serve.


I made two pans of this and it was gone and a couple of guys went back for seconds. I thought the texture of this was a bit more spongy than I would like, but that could have been from putting it together the night before and allowing the bread time to really soak up the egg. Next time I'll try making it on the morning we eat it just to see if that makes a difference.

Mix It Up:

You could easily replace the sausage in this recipe with bacon or ham cubes or even mushrooms, peppers and/or onions. Or, try adding one or more of those ingredients to the mix (if you add very much you may want to add more eggs to the mixture.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Place to Stash Stuff

In our "attic" turned family room we have lots of space behind the walls for storage. We have intended to cut holes in the wall so we would have access to it since before we had the drywall done. However, this has been pushed aside for many months and our kids' rooms and family room have been filled with stacks of storage. Some of this is seasonal and some stuff that needs gone through to be put on a yard sale, but all of it needs a place to go so our children can play.

I am HAPPY to announce that Josh and my Dad have completed the doors on both sides of the room and our stuff can now be STASHED (at least until it's needed or we have a chance to go through it)!

This not only means clear space to be able to finish the kids' rooms, but also means I am able to start setting up my scrapbook area!

**Pictures coming soon (Stashing the stuff is this weekend's project)**

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Deals This Week

Ok, I went shopping again this week as I finally had time to really go through the Walgreen's ad. I took the kids with me which was not a good idea! I could likely have saved a bit more money had I not had them with me as their screaming was making me rush at the checkout and not putting my transactions in the order I should have. Even at that I still got some really good deals!

Yes, some of the items are the same as from my earlier post, but they are things we use and at a good price, so I stocked up. I also purchased a few items for the Easter baskets. Here's what I got:

8 - 12 pks of Coke
10 - cans of chicken broth (I'll be making some soups to freeze in a couple weeks)
2 - 6 packs of Motts applesauce
3 pks Huggies
2 - 4oz tubes of Colgate
2 - Johnson's Buddies bar soap
1 Dry Idea Roll-on
1 bx of Walgreens Allergy meds (Comparable to Zyrtec)
1 bx Excedrin Menstrual
2 kites
1 set of Tattoos
1 water toy
1 light up squishy toy

And how much did I spend?


Not bad considering the diapers alone would normally cost me more than that!

Oh, I also got some of my FREE SAMPLES in the mail yesterday (trial size of Selsun Blue and 2 - 8oz cans of Enfamil formula)!

As you can see, this is mostly toiletries. I do still have some grocery shopping to do (I usually do not make this many shopping trips in one week).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Make Your Own Laundry Soap

Ok, this is my first time making this laundry soap. I was a bit skeptical at first and not sure I wanted the hassle, but I did some research online to see how people liked making their own, if it worked, and how big of a hassle it is and also made sure there was a store I could easily access the supplies for a reasonable price. People online seemed to like it and think it worked as well if not better than the detergents they were buying at the store and it is MUCH cheaper, so I'm giving it a try.

For the locals who want to try, here is the break down of supplies, price, and purchase location:

5 gallon bucket - $4.44 (Wal-Mart - you could get a pretty colored one for $4.84)
lid for bucket - $1.36 (Wal-Mart - only comes in white)
Grater - $1.98 (Wal-Mart - I'd recommend a grater specifically for this)
Borax - $3.46 (Wal-Mart - also have at IGA price about the same I believe)
Washing Soda - $2.89 (IGA)
Fels Naptha - $.95 (IGA)

The only thing I will have to buy the next probably 5 times I make this is the Fels Naptha since I don't have to use the whole box of Borax or Washing Soda. I shouldn't have to buy the Borax again for about 10 batches or more. That brings the price per batch to less than $1.88 plus a one-time investment of $7.78. This recipe is suppose to be good for about 180 loads, so that is $.01 PER LOAD! This took about 30 minutes of my time and will likely take less next time since I know what I'm doing - That is a MONEY SAVER!

I have some of my other detergent left and then I'll be giving this a try. I'll let you know how it works!

Monday, March 9, 2009


Ok, I'm new to the CVS & Walgreens thing and I'm sure I'll get better at it, but I don't think I am doing too bad so far. I got a couple things last week for good prices, but this week I really put some time into figuring out the systems and think I did pretty good. I got all this for $31.76 (That's after the register rewards & ECB I have to use for next time). In addition to that I got 2 coupons for $2 off Pampers Swaddlers and 2 coupons for $5 off formula. This was a little higher than I would like it to be normally, but considering some big ticket items (diapers, coke) I'm pretty pleased. Not bad for a first attempt!

I got:
6 pks Huggies
4 - 12 pk Coke
3 bags of Chex Mix
3 bottle of shampoo
2 bottles of lotion
1 small mouthwash
1 small dish soap
1 deoderant
1 Renuzit Tri-scent
1 pack of gum
4 coupons

I plan to go back for more diapers and a few other things at Walgreens (I hadn't had time to really go through the ad) and a few things at CVS that the one store was out of stock on - hopefully the other store will have it. I'll post the other deals later this week, but so far - so good!

Why a blog?

We have recently had our lives turned upside down - this has not been at all a bad thing - but does require change all the same. With the loss of my job 13 days after the birth of my son in January I became a SAHM. I am loving staying home with my children (step-son-4 1/2, daughter-19 months, son-2 months) and being away from a stressful job. Don't get me wrong, there are days when my children stress me out, but it isn't nearly as bad as working customer service during a time of recession. However, starting out I have a GIANT mountain to climb just to get our lives out of chaos. So, this blog is intended to keep me on track and let me see our progress. We have a lot of things to do!

The first area we will be tackling is our house. We moved into our house 3 weeks after the birth of my daughter and have yet to finish unpacking in the 18 months we have lived here. We have, however, acquired more junk. We have stuff "hiding" everywhere. We also have many unfinished projects. The house was drywall and plywood floors when we moved in and our contractor finished the biggest projects, but there are many "little" projects we need to finish up. It has been so hard to accomplish all the things we want to accomplish with so much clutter and chaos surrounding us day in and day out. I have joined Flylady and that has really helped to get me started. By the end of the year (hopefully sooner) I hope to have turned my house into a HOME.

The next area of interest is my children. My children are my pride and joy and I want to be able to provide them with the things they need. Having a clean and clutter free place for them to play and live life is being accomplished with the goals for the house. I'm also trying to get involved in mom's groups and things that allow me to gain resources, give the kids other children to play with, and give me the adult interactions I need to maintain some sanity. I am also working on getting all of our games, crafts, etc together and accessible so that the kids and I can do more fun and educational activities.

Then comes the finances! We hit a hard spot in our finances with having two kids in such a short time and me being so sick during both pregnancies and missing work. Add to that me being laid off and you can see the problem. We are taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and are working hard to get where we need to be. I'm learning to be a better couponer and stockpile as well as changing our lifestyle by eating at home more and less convenience foods.

Last, but certainly not least, I'll be focusing on our health. In addition to changing our eating habits I am looking for creative and fun activities to get us out and moving. I am trying to not only focus on my physical health and losing the baby weight (42 lbs + the weight I needed to lose before getting pregnant), but also to be sure I'm getting enough "me" time. I am not used to being home with young children all the time and am a very social person, so it is vital for my well being to have time with adults away from my children and also time to myself.

Whew! That is a lot to tackle, but I know I can do it. I'll be posting my progress here to keep accountable. Look for posts about Coupons/Saving Money, Children's crafts/activities/toys, room makeovers and cleaning tips, and fun exercise and food options. I am doing this mainly for me, but hope that someone else might get something out of it too.