Saturday, December 15, 2012

Frugal Friday

It's been such a busy week, as I'm sure all of you can relate. I may just have to retitle this segment
"Frugal Friday and/or Saturday"!

How to save on other stuff besides groceries.............

Whenever we think "coupons" we typically think "save 50 cents on mac and cheese" or "save 1 dollar on cereal", but there are many coupons and deals out there for non-grocery items as well.

I try not to pay full price for anything, and it does take a little work. But, anything worthwhile does, right?

Here are just a few ways I save on other stuff...............

Coupons: There are just as many coupons for non food items as for food items. Typically it's best to not be brand loyal, that way you can match a sale item with a coupon and get a good deal every couple weeks. If you are brand loyal, then you may want to stock up while it's on sale.

Store Cards: Many stores have reward cards. And, they will advertise a special "sale" price that is only for card holders. Some stores offer discounts for homeschoolers, and some offer special cash back rebates. These are my favorite non-grocery store cards for my area:

Barnes and Noble: Educator discount

Office Depot: Educator rewards card, and if you sign up for the birthday club, they offer a free cupcake or cookie and other goodies on your birthday.

Books a Million: Educator discount

JoAnn: Educator Discount

Michael's: Educator Discount, also if you sign up for their weekly email, they offer great coupons.

Kmart/Sears: Shop Your Way Rewards card-you get a certain number of points per dollar spent that you can then redeem towards purchases.

Buy Used:   Don't be afraid to buy used. I often shop thrift stores, consignment, yard sales, Craig's list, and ebay. Many times you can find new items still with the tags! I am very picky, because a) I want an item in good condition-VERY good condition, and b) I want to spend very little for it. I have found that consignment tends to be a little more pricey than a regular thrift store, but the quality is better. Ebay is a great place to buy used. I've gotten a lot of winter clothes for my kids this season on ebay. You do have to bid, just decide what you're willing to spend and stick with it. Also, you have to consider shipping charges. A $2 pair of jeans might be a good deal, but not with an $8 shipping charge added on. Two of my great finds on Craig's list are my book shelf and my table. The book shelf is one of those tiered ones like what magazines are on at the library. The table was a steal and seats at least 12. We had to drive an hour to pick it up, but it was definately worth it. Craig's list and ebay are great when you are looking for specific things. Yard sales are my number one favorite, though. Prices are a steal and it's fun to see what treasures you can find. My children love to go. They've learned to bargain and can make 50 cents stretch pretty far!

Sales: Things are always going on sale at some point, because merchants want their stuff to be SOLD. So, if you have patience, wait for that item to go on sale. And, many stores will also refund your purchase price difference if you bought and item and then the next day/week, it went on sale. Also, many stores will price match a sale item. Of course, they would rather have you buy the item from them for a little less then to buy it from a competitor!

Mailing Lists: Get onto stores mailing lists. I'm on a ton of mailing lists, and get notice of  upcoming sales/deals, percentages off coupons, free shipping, etc. Many stores, especially restaurants will offer birthday freebies. Some are email lists and some are postal mail lists.

Groupon: There are several varieties of this idea, but Groupon is the only one I've used so far. Most recently I've gotten 2 for 1 IHOP coupons and $10 for $20 at Toys R Us.

Photos: Coupons are always coming out for percentages off photo items, or get so many prints for free. I really like Shutterfly and Walgreens. There are other great photo places, but those are just two places where I've recently gotten good deals. I got a coupon for a free hard cover photo book when I had Brennan and 50 free prints. Walgreens just had a half off sale where I got 50 prints for half off and a free photo calendar.

The "Drug Store" Game: Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid offer HUGE savings. Between the coupons, register rewards and store cards, you can spend next to nothing, literally, on stuff that you can use every day. The only secret is that you have to keep it going. Register rewards will expire and then it's like losing money. I'm not currently doing any of these deals, because I just don't have the time to spend on it right now. I may go back to doing it, but I may not.

This list isn't exhaustive. There are so many other deals to be found. Don't forget to check my favorite coupon/deal sites! Here are a few other deals I've gotten recently.

-Gymboree was offering a free onsie (and free shipping) to new parents with a ten dollar purchase. I was able to get another onsie and skirt on clearance, so total, I got two quality onsies and a skirt shipped for under $20. I was also able to get a pair of Robeez for Brennan from the Robeez website for less than $10 shipped!

-The Mailbox was recently offering Buy 1 Get 4 Free on their theme kits. I was able to get 5 kits (2 for K and 3 for PreK) shipped for a little under $16.

-S and K Men's warehouse had a BOGO sale with sale items. I got two polo shirts shipped for under $10.

-Jill's Steals and Deals recently offered select American Girl dolls with accesories for $50. I was able to get a certain child a very special Christmas present shipped for about $58! (These dolls regulary sell for about $130!)

-Kohl's had their Elle line on clearance. I was able to get several Christmas things (that I have to leave secret) for several girls (who need to remain nameless) for about $12 shipped.

-And for myself.......from Amazon a Scotch Thermal Laminator with 100 pouches shipped for under $30!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Musings

Some of the kids were sitting around writing, and Bailey had found a pen to use. It must've been a different kind, because after a minute of not being able to figure it out she said,

"Mom, how do you turn this pen on?"

(Ignore the chipmunk cheek of chicken nugget.)

Apparently one day we weren't getting to her carseat fast enough when she piped up, "Will SOMEONE please buckle me out?"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Frugal Friday: To Coupon, or Not To Coupon? That is the Question.

       The coupon craze has really taken off lately. Couponing bootcamps and workshops are everywhere! There is no need for me to reinvent the wheel here, because there are already so many coupon blogs that do a great job of bringing you all the great deals. Here are my favorites.

But, I thought that I would give a "mother of a large family on one income" perspective to couponing. 

First of all........where do you get coupons?

Here are the most common sources............

From the Internet: Coupon websites will change the coupons they offer every month or so, and can be selected and printed from your computer. Often times there is a "two print" limit per computer. Check out my favorite coupon blogs for coupon lists and store match ups. Just a word of caution: When you redeem your printed coupons at the store register, make sure the amount is deducted from your total. One of my local stores has to manually take off my printed coupon amounts from my total. Even though it would beep like it went through, the amounts would not be taken off the total. (Also remember that paper and ink costs add up!)

From the Store: Companies like happy customers and will often mail or email out coupons on a regular basis. Many companies offer coupons on their websites and many are now on a company page on Facebook. "Percent off entire purchase" coupons and "free shipping" are my favorites!

From the Sunday Paper: The Sunday newspaper still comes with good, old fashioned coupon inserts. And, don't forget you can buy more than one paper!

From 'peelies' on the product: Sometimes you will find a coupon that you can "peel off" the product and use right away at the register.

From store tear pads: Sometimes store will put out pads of coupons, or have the little red coupon holders right on the store shelves.

From a Coupon Service: You can order batches of coupons or specific coupons from a coupon cutting service. I've never used one of these, but if you are a serious couponer, it may be worth it to you.

The Drug Store Game: Many chain drug stores (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc.) offer a "rewards" program. If you buy a certain product, you get a "reward" at the register, that can then be used basically as cash on your next transaction. My favorite coupon blogs offer great explanations and tutorials on how to get started.

I have couponed on and off for many years. Here are some ups and downs that I've found..........

Pros of Couponing:

-Saving money! It's great to watch cents and dollars just roll right off your register total! Many stores allow you to use a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon to double your savings. Pair that up with a Buy One, Get One Free Sale and, look out- you 've spent next to nothing for bags of stuff!

-Well, saving money is about the only pro I can think of. Saving money, I mean itsn't that enough?

Cons of Couponing:

-Couponing takes time. And, sometimes lots of time. There's the printing, cutting, organizing, looking for deals, price matching, not to mention maybe going to several stores every week. I know, some stores do price match, but usually only if it is the exact same product. As a mom of ten kids, my time is pretty valuable. And, I have to evaluate if the money I'm saving is worth the time it take to do all of these things. Not to mention, I have to leave the kids home, while I go out shopping several times a week. It has the ability to become quite consuming.

-Stress. I just love the feeling when a good deal works out and saves me lots of money. BUT, I get very stressed out when I've put a lot of effort into something that doesn't work out. When that total is not what I thought it would be, trying to keep track of  all the deals, or the store is already out of a certain item that I had planned on getting, I can feel my blood pressure rise, and my face get flushed, and I'm ready to throw my coupons on the floor and stomp my feet. I have to step back and reevaluate if what I'm doing is worth the trouble.

-Would I have bought this if I hadn't had the coupon?  You can't be too brand loyal or picky with couponing. Sometimes a coupon comes along for your favorite whatever, but more often than not, the coupon will be for something you may not normally buy. So, if it's something I wouldn't normally buy, am I really saving any money? Now, if I need shampoo and I have a coupon for a different brand and I would save $1, certainly I could save money here. But, if I normally wouldn't buy "Yummy Crackers" but I have a coupon for 4 boxes for $5, then I'm spending $5 I wouldn't normally have spent. Even if it is a really good deal.

So, those are my thoughts on coupons. If couponing is worth it to you, then do it. Sometimes, I do coupons only part time, meaning if I have the time I will, but if I don't then I won't.

Do you have any coupon advice to share?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Card Scrapbook Tutorial

     I always hated to throw away the pretty Christmas cards we receive every year, so I would just set them aside in my craft basket, and I figured I would eventually find something to do with them.

     I don't remember where I got the idea, but I love to scrapbook, so I thought I would use the cards to make a scrapbook for Christmas.

Here's how to make one of your own:

Gather up those Christmas cards! Don't worry if the graphic is small or you think you might not be able to use it. You never know what you might come up with when those creative juices start flowing!

Get your scrapbook materials ready. Choose what photo album you want to use. You can use any size, but I chose a smaller size, I think it was 8 x 8 or maybe 7 x 7.

You'll want a supply of various cardstocks and papers (there are some really pretty ones out on the market now), pens, punches, glue sticks or tabs, punches, scissors and whatever else you want to use. If you're very sentimental about your cards you could always just use photo corners to secure them, but otherwise feel free to cut them apart. You could also jot down who it was from in small print on your page.

I chose to do one page for every letter of the alphabet, so I needed a photo album with at least 26 pages. You could just do words without doing the whole alphabet, or just include the cards and scripture.

I tried to correspond the letter/word/verse with the graphic on the card, but it was a little tricky coming up with something for every letter.

These are just a couple of pages from the one I did.

You can make your book as simple or elaborate as you want. Here I cut out the graphic and punched out stars with a hole punch. I also put the word that corresponded with the letter on each page, and tried to have the verse contain the word, as well.

I made mine about five years ago and had planned to have made another one by now, but you know there just never is enough time. I made some fold-overs on the inside covers that had activities to do after we read the letter. I didn't put an activity under every single day(the idea was to read one page/letter a day and talk about the scripture, and flip up the corresponding letter activity), because that would be exhausting! I know it's a difficult to read them in this picture, but under the days with nothing, I just put a sticker. Some of the activities were: Make popcorn and watch 'It's a Wonderful Life', Make a paper chain, Find Bethlehem on a map, Make a yummy treat, Make a craft, Read a Christmas book, Sing 'The Twelve Days of Christmas", Drive and see lights, etc.

These are the scriptures and words for the alphabet that I used for mine.

A   Angel   Luke 1:30
B   Bethlehem   Luke 2:4-5
C   Child   Luke 2:17
D   Deliverer  Matthew 1:21
E   Emmanuel   Mattew 1:23
F   Frankincense    Matthew 2:11
G  Gift   James 1:17
H   Herod   Matthew 2:13
I    Inn  Luke 2:7
J    Joy   Luke 2:10
K  King  Psalm 24:10
L  Love  John 3:16
M  Manger  Luke 2:16
N  Noel  Psalm 33:2
O  Offer   Psalm 63:5
P  Prince of Peace  Isaiah 9:6
Q  Quiet    Psalm 23:2
R  Receive  John 1:12
S  Shepherds  Luke 2:20
T  Turtledoves  Luke 2:24
U  Unity  John 17:23
V  Virgin  Luke 1:34-35
W  Wise Men  Matthew 2:1-2
X  Exhalt  Luke 1:46-47
Y  Yule  John 4:42
Z  Zeal  Isaiah 9:7

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Musings

You might be a large family if...........

You group your children into catagories.

For instance.....

"The Three Oldest"= Brittany-17, Tyler-15, Timothy-12

"The Middle Kids"= Bethany-10, Brooke-9, Tristan-7, Thomas-5

"The Little Boys"= Tristan-7, Thomas-5

"The Little Kids" = Bailey-3, Travis-2, Brennan-2 months, but can also include Thomas, 5

"The Girls" Bethany-10, Brooke-9

"The Oldest Boys"= Tyler-15, Timothy-12

Any other combinations require names, but could also be a name/catagory combo like, "Brittany and the little kids."

Also, catagories are subject to change without prior notice, like, "Somebody (meaning EVERYBODY) get in here and clean up this mess!"
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