Friday, February 25, 2011

A Funny on Friday -- or Saturday

Sometimes I am able to capture a picture that can stand alone.  
Not a single word is required.

I present to you, Exhibit A:

And sometimes, I catch two photos.
Maybe I don't have any words because I'm speechless.
That, or giggling so hard I'm crying.

Goofballs, I tell 'ya!
My house is filled with 'em.
And I love it!

Enjoy your Friday.
Now, get back to work!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coupon CRAZY!!

Just a brief post on my evening.  I'm sure you're riveted to your seat now.

I spent it at Target.  Stacking coupons.  With the sales.  

It was a lot of fun.  But not a lot of money...

Check out the picture:

Frozen veggies, brown rice, frozen yogurt, a few pizzas, toilet cleaner, ibuprofen, dishwasher detergent, frozen juice, dish soap, and more...

Had I bought those items at full price without any coupons, I would have paid $65.98.

But I didn't pay that.
I stacked my manufacturer's coupons with store coupons.
And then added that to sale items.
(Right now my Target has a "Buy 7 freezer items, get a $5 gift card" promo going.)
I used that promo to my advantage.
Wanna know what I ended up paying?
Do ya?  Do ya?  Huh?  Huh?

I paid $15.52.
For all of it.

That's a savings of 75.4%.
Or approximately $.52 per item.

And, okay, the Oreos are not something we usually buy, nor are the Reese's.  But, bluntly put, I'm not above bribing my children.  And, come on, man!  Oreos are goooooood!  (chomp, chomp)

I think I might be addicted.  To coupons.  Not Oreos.  But that could happen if I'm not careful!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FCBF -- Conquering the Commissary

There are very few times when I feel like I, the military wife, have the advantage over some of you, the non-military people.  

You get to choose your doctor.
I am "provided" a team of doctors.  And I NEVER see the same doc twice.  Unless the stars are all in proper alignment and the moon is in the house of Aquarius, or some such mumbo jumbo.

You get to live in one place your entire adult life, if you so choose.
We move.  A lot.

You get to have Sunday dinners (and any other days/meals) with your extended family.
We're lucky to see our family ONCE every one to two years -- or more.  Airfare is expensive, man!

You get to go on vacation when you want to.
We go on vacation when the military says we can -- though one of us does get extended "vacations" to sandy, desert, overseas locales.  Even if that locale requires some sick version of  "camping" and "roughing it."

Don't get me wrong.  I have loved being married to my man -- who just so happens to be in the military.  And, I have had many opportunities being married to the military that I would not have otherwise had.

Like shopping at the Commissary.
This is the ONE time that I truly feel like I've "got one up" on 'ya.

Because the Commissary?
WOW!!  A frugal, coupon clippin' momma's DEEEE-Light!!!

(If you're not military, feel free to throw things at me now.  But, keep in mind that it's not really me, and that you'll only succeed in damaging your computer monitor.  And, I'll still be shopping at the Commissary.)  Do I hear a, "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah"?  Yeah, I might have peeped that out under my breath...

As a card carrying member of the "Dependents of an Active Duty Military Member" Club (read:  married to the military), not only can I shop at the Commissary, I can log on to their website and access what they call "The Savings Aisle."  This is where the magic begins, baby!

I can see exactly what is on sale for a two week period, and match it with my coupons.  I do use the spreadsheet that I told you about in one of my previous posts.  It makes shopping so easy.  I was also able to write down the prices on things we buy regularly so that I could price compare them with other stores.  I really didn't think that I would be able to save much more at the Commissary than I do at the StuffMart. 

Boy, was I wrong!  Using the sales with my coupons and BUYING ONLY WHAT WE'D USE in the next 6 weeks (or that I could donate), I created my list.  I did buy some things that weren't on the Commissary's 'Savings Aisle' sale list and found that the prices are better than the StuffMart.  

So, wanna hear how I did??
My total before coupons was $ 239.67
After the checker scanned all my coupons (I had 49 of 'em), my total was $182.97.

That's a coupon savings of $56.70!  Now if you do the math (like MotorMan did for me), that's only a 24% savings.  (Oh my stinkin' heck!!!  I just realized -- in looking at the above photo on my screen --  that they'd already figured the % savings!!!!  Just call me "Frequently Misses the Obvious."  It'll be my new Indian name.  Yeah, yeah, I know they aren't called Indians anymore.  But this is about coupons.  Focus up!) 

A month ago, I wouldn't have used ANY coupons.  And paid almost $57 more for the items we're already buying and using.  So, I'm okay with a 24% savings.  And I'm even better with the fact that they tell you right there on the receipt just how much you've saved! 

But that doesn't mean I won't try to save more on my next trip.
And yeah, we all know there WILL BE a next trip!

In case you're wondering if the Commissary really likes Greyhaired Mommas who use a ton of coupons -- 
As they say, "The proof is in the puddin'!"

They wanted me to come back the very next day!
Heh, heh, heh...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Everyday

Sick of the posts on coupons yet?  
If yes, then press F1.
If no, then press F2.
You will then be diverted to a post appropriate to your selection.

Just kidding... I hope I didn't mess up your computer...  But wouldn't that be cool if you could do that?  Uh, I guess you kinda can.  It's call navigation tabs.  But I don't have 'em.  Yet.  So you'll just have to read what I posted today.

I do have one more Frugal Can Be Fun post in the original series that I'm working on, but for now, I wanted to take a break.  Back to the everyday.  As if coupons haven't become my everyday.  (snicker, snicker, snort, snort!)

Where was I?  (elevator music here while I collect my thoughts)

On the weekends, the kids like to have a sibling slumber party.  They like to spend the night in the guest bedroom.  I'd like to think it's because they so enjoy the company of one another that the idea of spending one more night away from each other is just too much to bear.  I'm not even going to mention that there is a DVD player in the room, and that they usually fall asleep watching a movie.  Nope, not gonna mention that.  I'm sure it's all about the strong desire to bond with your sibling.   Riiiiiight!

Before retiring myself (which, sadly, isn't too much later than it becomes silent in the guest room) I go and check on the kiddos.  

Last night, I found this:

A mysterious pile of blankets.  On the ground.

Closer inspection revealed that they did contain a life form.

What could this be?  A slight snore emanated from the furry brown head that, apparently, had the huge moon face of a white cat. 
But no paws.
And so I leaned in...

Ah-ha!  Mystery solved.  It is a peacefully sleeping girl.
Sleeping on the floor.  By choice.  In a tiny corner.  By choice.  

Now I will tell you that I'm beginning to realize the perk of spending the night in the guest room has more to do with the TV than it does with the company. I also realize that if you went through here...

In attempt to access the bed, you'd probably be lost.  And we'd never hear from you again.

I'd like to say our house (and only our house) was hit by a tornado.  Specifically this room.  But that would be an untruth.  Unless that tornado was lovingly named CraftyGirl.  Because, my friends, she can go from "clean and spotless" to "complete havoc" in 15 short minutes.
Or less...

Another thing that tickles me about this sweet little girl?

The fact that she requires 3 blankets -- one of which was mine as a baby "awwww" AND a robe while sleeping.  
Me personally?  I'd be roasting.
But not this sweet one.
Guess she's got Grammy's blood in her veins!!
I love this girl!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

FCBF -- To Help YOU Organize

This post is the seventh in a series I've been doing entitled "Frugal Can Be Fun."
You can catch up here:

It is my desire that by sharing with you the tips and tricks I've been using to save money, that you too can learn that it can be fun to be frugal.  And save a lot of money in the process!!
And on with the show...

As you might recall, I am the littlest, teeniest, tinsiest bit of a Type A personality.  Uh, wait.  I think I should save that statement for April first.

Okay.  You got me.
I'm a ginormous Type A personality.  I'm not ginormous.  My personality is.
Get it?
Got it.

In my last post, I told you all the things that I use to organize myself before going shopping.  And, because of that little personality, uh, quirk, I might have, maybe, sorta, really did create a spreadsheet. To help me be more organized, of course.  Not because I had a lot of free time.  "Free time?  Of whence dosteth she speaketh?"  Free time is a laughable term when you're a Greyhaired Momma!

My spreadsheet is divided into columns showing advertised or shelf price, any coupons I have for the item, and the amount of each item to buy.  I've also made it so that the list items are organized by department of the store.  

Now I won't generally use the spreadsheet for a quick trip to CVS, but I did use it on my last big shop to the Commissary, where it seemed to streamline the shopping process.  "The Commissary?  You haven't told us about shopping at the Commissary."  Don't worry my friends.

Shortly I will relate the tale of a coupon savvy Momma who just might be Conquering the Commissary.

"So sit right back and I'll tell the tale.  
The tale of an awesome trip.  
Where Greyhaired Momma saved so much, 
It will make you want to flip!"
Poem/song copyright GHM.  Do not steal.  It's a goodie, I know, but come up with something on your own.  I'll defend this one to the Supreme Court if necessary.  

All joking and tropical islandy thoughts aside, download the spreadsheet.  Share it with your friends.  Feel the balm of organization seeping over your life.  Hear the birds singing.  Feel the cool breeze on your face.   Run through the aisles throwing excess coupons to your painfully unaware fellow shoppers.
Uh, did I just say that out loud?

**Clicking on either of the hyperlinks above should take you directly to the site to download the spreadsheet.  If it doesn't work for you, just email me or leave a comment with your email address and I'll get it to you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FCBF -- Organizational Tools

In a previous post, I mentioned that when there are sales and coupons where I can buy things very, very inexpensively and stock up, that I do so.  I wanted to clarify that.

I stock up.  To a point.  I will not buy things my family wouldn't normally use.  I am no longer a brand-snob, showing brand favoritism.  I now use whatever is cheapest after considering the sale and coupons I have.  But, I won't buy 72 boxes of Hamburger Helper just because I was able to buy them for $.19 per box.  Nor will I buy 10 boxes of Cheerios because they're on sale if my family will not be able to eat those 10 boxes in the next 6 months.

I will, however, buy extra when and if I can and then DONATE it.  
Couponing is not about being greedy.  It is not about gluttony, friends.  It is about being good stewards with the money God has given us.
And then, sharing the wealth.

Now, ahem.  Back to what I planned to talk about before I was convicted to talk about greed and gluttony.  (Stepping off my soapbox.)

Like I've mentioned a few times here on Greyhaired Momma, I am a Type A personality.  I'm okay with that.  And if I wasn't okay with that, I'd make a plan, write notes about the plan, and then carry out my plan.  Just cuz I'm like that.

Being Type A allows me to fully marinate in this process we're talking about today:  Organization.
Soak it in, soak it in.
For those of you less Type A, like maybe a Type X, Y, or Z, hang in there.  This is simple, and I daresay, even YOU might have some fun!

There are several  things I need to get myself prepared to shop each week:  
  • A pen, some notebook paper, and the weekly store flyers.  

  • I also use couponing websites frequently to help me organize my lists and find out about sales.

  • To organize all my coupons, I use a small accordion folder.  As my coupon database grows, I may need to get a larger folder, or even a notebook.  I've seen other couponers use notebooks that have clear baseball card pages in them to hold their coupons, divided clearly by pre-typed divider pages.  (If you click the above link, and read the tips on organizing a coupon binder, there is a free printable for your new binder with coupon categories and a table of contents!)

You will also need somewhere to store all your purchases.  Somewhere that you can see exactly what you already have before going out to buy more.  Unless, of course, you're going to donate anything your family can't or won't use in the next 6 months.  (See the first part of this post if you're confused! Mwah, Ha, Ha!)

We have a laundry room that, until now, had a lot of dead space in it.  It is a big room, and though we had our brooms and vacuume there, I knew I could do a lot better with the space.  I added some shelving units that my neighbors were getting rid of (FREE!  Did I mention I LOVE free???) and then created a new storage pantry.  

I can now see exactly what we have, can direct anyone in the family to exactly where to find more of something they're looking for, and I have some room to grow.  Just looking at these organized shelves makes me feel good.  
Organized = Happy.  At least in my little world.
I know.
I might need professional help.

"What do I see?  I see an organized, stocked pantry filled with items that I bought for 50-90% off!"
Oh, and for those of you who are reading these posts, rolling your eyes, shaking your heads, and muttering under your breath, "I don't have time for clipping coupons!!", remember one thing:  Time is money.  Being organized helps you save time.  And organizing and using your coupons wisely will save you money.  Time is money.  

You have the time.
You have the skills to be organized.
Do you want to save the money?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

FCBF -- The Coupons

"All right!  All right!  You've told us about many things regarding the use of coupons.  Except one thing.  Where do we get the coupons???"

Uh, yeah.  Small matter.
Sorry to have overlooked it previously.

There are many ways to obtain coupons.  I usually get my coupons from the Sunday paper or

When looking at the websites I've recommended*, if there is an available coupon, the author will list where to find that coupon.  After doing this for a couple weeks, I realize that there are myriad of ways to get coupons.  Buy coupons.  Clip them out of magazines.  Find them on websites.  Friend the product on Facebook and print the coupon.  Badger your friends and family into sending you the coupon inserts out of their newspapers.  And there's probably many, many more ways that I don't even know about.  Or want to know about.  At least not yet.

If you are just beginning, I would advise starting small.  Get a Sunday paper.  Go through it and keep the coupon pages.  Then, go to one of the couponing websites* and make your list.  Many times there will be a link for a printable coupon.  Print it.  Save it for a future sale.  Or use it now.  Whatever makes your skirt fly up.

You'll also see that it takes time to build up a database of coupons from which to pull.  For instance, I might see that Hefty bags are on sale BOGO at Publix and that there was a coupon in the Sunday, 1/16 Red Plum insert.  Well, I wasn't couponing then, so I don't have that coupon.  Might still be worth buying because it's BOGO, but would be sweeter with a coupon or two!  Eventually I'll have a database which will allow me more freedom to shop only when the item is on sale AND I have a coupon.   That's where the big savings comes in!

So that's my quickie coupon lesson.  Any questions?  Leave 'em for me in the comments and I'll get back to you!

Happy clipping...

*Just in case you need a quick link, here are my favorite websites for coupon help, store sales, and lots, lots more...


Monday, February 14, 2011

Frugal CAN BE Fun (FCBF) -- Trip #2

So after spending a little time on a Sunday getting more prepared, I ventured out again to shop.  I feel like my second trip went a lot smoother.

I went to Publix first.  I stuck to my list that I'd created previously and only bought (and looked at) those items on my list.  Many, if not all, of the items were Buy One, Get One Free.  I've found that Publix is expensive, but if you buy things on their BOGO sales, they tend to be less expensive than even WalMart.  And then add coupons on top of that and the thrill sets in!
I bought this:
And paid this:  $24.45!  

The groceries would have normally totaled $61.04, not including tax.  But, because I bought it all on BOGO sale, and then added an additional $10 in coupons, I saved a bundle.  And it's all stuff we're going to use currently using.  No extraneous items here!  

I did forget to use my Winn Dixie coupon to save $5 on a $35 purchase, which would have made for an even better deal, but again I chalked it up to the learning curve.

WAIT!!  WAIT!!  Did you just say that you used a Winn Dixie coupon at Publix?  
Yes.  Yes, I did.
My local Publix accepts competitor coupons.  Your store (not just Publix) might too.  All you gotta do is ask.

I then went on to CVS and WalMart, doing the same thing:  Buying things we normally use, when they're on sale, and topping with coupons.  I'm lovin' it!
The one other thing I wanted to post about in regards to my second trip was my experience at WalMart.  Now, I don't know about your Mart, but the one closest to my house is great.  The people who work there are nice, patient, and informative.  That's not been my experience at other WalMart stores across the country, so I feel grateful that I can begin my coupon journey with this type of environment.

All WalMart stores, not just mine, will price match any advertised item.  Many of the websites that I told you about Southern Savers, Hip2Save, and I Heart the Mart, will put this tasty bit of information into their post.  I write down "PM" on my shopping list next to the item and then go back to my master list where I've written the item to buy, where the price match can be found, and if I have any coordinating coupons.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

When I get to the register, I ask the checker how they'd like me to present my price matches.  Do they want them first?  Last?  Does it even matter??  I think the checkers appreciate being asked.  It also gives me time to be prepared to tell them the price of the item.  I prefer to do all my price matches last.  That way, I'm not in the middle of unloading the cart and have to stop, figure out what item she's on, what the price match is, etc.  I feel more organized that way.  More Type A.  Like I've said before, I'm okay with that.

Stock Photo
Because my register receipt didn't have the previous price before markdown, it's hard for me to tell you the exact dollar amount I saved on this trip to WalMart using price matches.  But, I can tell from my receipt that I used $13.69 in coupons!

Though I felt better about my second shopping trip than I did my first, I know that it will take many, more trips before I'm a frugal grocery shopping machine.
I'm up for the challenge.
Are you?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Frugal CAN BE Fun (FCBF) -- The prep work

Stock Image
If you've been following along with my FCBF posts, you'll know that in my last post, I mentioned that I thought I could be better prepared when shopping with coupons.

So, I'll tell you how I do it.
Keep in mind that each person has a method that works best for them. 
Also keep in mind that I'm a Type A personality who LOVES organization.  So this?  This is right up my alley.  I might even go so far as to say I'm enjoying myself loving every minute of the preparation! (maniacal giggle here...)

I receive our local paper, delivered to our house, twice a week.  On both Wednesday and Sunday there are the store flyers, and Sunday has the coupon inserts.  You'll need those!!!  

Stock Photo
I sit down once a week (usually Sunday afternoon) and look through all the store ads/flyers.  Take note that some store ads run from Wednesday through Tuesday, and others from Sunday through Saturday.  Hence the paper on Wednesday AND Sunday.

So, I sit down and look at the ads, watching for things that we use regularly and that are on sale.  Using a piece of notebook paper, I write down the store name, the item, its price, the rewards (i.e. EBs, or BOGO*).

I do this for each store I regularly shop:  WalMart, CVS, Publix.  

Side note necessary here:  When you first begin, choose a store or two.  Get familiar with that store's sales, and coupon policies.  Then, expand your comfort zone to include more stores, more sales, and more saving opportunities.  You DO not want to try to tackle every store, every deal when you first begin.  You'll get overwhelmed, overstretched, and overspent.  Choose a couple stores, shop them well, and then add on.

After I've formed my store lists, I go to several websites that list the sales at each store with any recent coupons.  A few of my favorites:

Not only do these sites do a lot of the research for you, they also have a lot of great tips about how to learn to coupon, couponing abbreviations*, and many other tips. 

So, when looking at the stores' ads, I can see the items I want to buy and if there are any coupons that go with it.  For example:

(From Southern Savers' Walmart ad)
  • Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies, 14 oz. $2.50
    Manufacturer Coupon -$1/2 Hillshire Farm smoked sausage, RP 1/23
    Manufacturer Coupon -.75/2 Hillshire Farm smoked sausage, RP 1/23
If I have that coupon, or I can print it, then I gather the coupon, and write down a little "Q" or "C" next to the item on my list to remind myself that I have a coupon for it.  That also helps when at the store, so I can make sure I'm buying the right sizes and quantities that are specified on the coupon.  And then I put the coupon in a pile according to which store I'll use it in.  And because I'm type A, I make a little sticky note that has the store name on it.  Paperclipped together, labeled, and attached to the paper with the store list on it, and I feel prepared.  Prepared to save, baby.  Prepared to save! 

I also look through the website lists so that I can see if there are any items that can be had really, really cheaply that we can stock up on.   Many times the sites will tell you what the final price per item will be with the advertised price and coupons.  And, my friends, there are lots of things to be had very, very inexpensively, and even more items to be had for FREE!  I'll add those items to my list and stock up, buying as many as the sale and my coupons will allow.

Stock Image

So that's how I get prepared.  You might try it.  Let me know how it works.  Or, if you have another way to prepare yourself for super saving, let us all know by leaving me a comment!

In my next FCBF post, I'll tell you about my second trip of savings.
See you then, my friends!
*What do all those abbreviations mean?  I could explain it all, or instead of reinventing the wheel, I could direct you Hip2Save's Coupon Newbie page.