Thursday Thoughts Food and Finance! 12/14/2017

This has been an extremely busy day but I have a huge feeling of accomplishment!

The first exciting announcement of the day….Kendall will get her braces off February 1st! She has already counted the days until her next  appointment! Along the same line, Lily has an appointment that same day and I anticipate that we will begin with braces for her.

Next a little background. In December of last year, we purchased a 800 pound cow.  We have been enjoying this meat, and have already placed an order for a second cow. Unfortunately, it will most likely be March before we can claim our cow.   Another piece of information is that since September, I have been limiting our food budget and trying to get a good handle and use out of the food we have in storage, this also has been a huge saving for our budget. My initial plan was for a huge grocery trip the first week of December after we returned from Disney.   Then life/ Disney happened, I remembered to pay our Verizon bill during out trip and even told Matt that I had paid it.  But I forgot to record it in our bank account.  So in preparation for the huge trip, I was checking out our account and found the mistake. The good news is that we were not complete broke nor did it cause anything to be over drafted.  So we decided to put our major trip on hold.

Fast forward to today, Matt has significantly increased his hours at Dollar General and he also is designing a new site, so we began the process of restocking our freezer and panty.  Part of our day was spent at the local meat market and we also made a fun trip to Food Lion. I will admit, we still are planning a huge Costco trip this weekend as well. I found frozen turkeys at the meat market at my buy price, so I purchased one for Christmas and a second one for the freezer. We also purchased 20 pounds of ground beef, which has been fried and divided into one pound bags. We also purchased several hens to cook later and chicken wings for our planned Super Bowl Party.

The next stop we will call “Our Christmas trip to Food Lion.” Because of the extra income and the fact that we have been lean for so long, we spent time buying some items that we normal do not purchase or enjoy. Zach was with us and we let him pick out several items.  Even at 8, he is aware of what a sale is and that we usually don’t purchase things unless they are on sale. This is honestly the least plan shopping trip I have made in a long time. I did print and use several coupons from the coupon machine, found some sales that I knew were at or below my price point and then we splurged. We ended up spending $137 at Food Lion and saving $45. I think this is awesome for an unplanned trip.

To end the day, we decided to go to Sonic for the BOGO boneless wings. I was really unsure of how many to buy so I ended up with 48 boneless wings which fed us dinner with Haley. I have lunch for tomorrow at least and Matt has several meal. We will definitely participate again with this deal but spend $10 instead of $20.

Our Savings Today- 10/21/2017

sos

In preparation for our trip, we have been taking inventory and making a list of needed items. The goal is that once we start packing, I don’t have to run out in a panic to grab items. A unique challenge is that this trip is actually longer than our normal ones by 3 days. I also have absolute no plans for doing laundry on vacation.  The girls , Kendall and I spent most of the day in Winston- Salem shopping but we manage to maintain some decent savings as well.

But first, I am going to start with Matt’s savings, one of the blogs I regular follow Couponing to Disney, posted yesterday about combining Dollar General digital coupons and Ibotta. Matt was able to purchase 8 20 oz drinks for $10.17 in the store. He came home and submitted the items to Ibotta and with a $5 bonus received back $8 in rebates.  This puts his total out of pocket to $2.17 for 8 drinks or 27 cent each. Total Savings $9.50

The girls and I stopped for lunch between piano and shopping. I used my McDonald’s app to grab 10 chicken nuggets for $2. Because we always carry drinks, our total was $7.91 to feed all three of us. For the sake of fairness I am only count the saving from the app in my grand total.  App savings $1.98

Last week, I received a “rebate/coupon” from a “settlement ” with the Justice company for $30.  I vaguely remember filling out a form online. Lily was able to find 2 bras she liked for a total out of pocket of $1.92 cent. Total Savings 30.00

Our next stop was JC Penny. I will admit to splurging on several items that were not on my “need” list but I am so glad I did. We ended up purchasing 4 bras, 2 dresses (that matched) and a pink pair of converses for Kendall. I saw the person in front of me use a coupon and asked. The sales associate had a coupon for 15% off. I was also able to use a $10 reward coupon that was sent with my new credit card. Total Savings $42.11

During the inventory I realized that I was in need of some items as well. I headed to Lane Bryant where I asked to ring up 2 separate purchases to use a coupon that was sent via text twice.  Total Savings $93.

Kendall requested to go to Walmart to check out the Christmas Ornaments, she has a $25 gift card from her birthday to use for this purpose. I did purchase 5 2-liter Diet Coke.  Total Savings $2.50

Grand total for saving today $179.   Not bad for a Saturday in my book!

5 Ways We Are Saving 9/8/2017

  1. Tis the season for weddings at least in my department at work. Matt and I were able to make a gift this week. The bride to be really liked the gift as well. Total Saved $40.
  2. Windows are open!  This means no air conditioning and/or heat. We ended up running the air from Thursday to Monday last week but based on the predictions for our weather for the next 10 days and the average highs after those 10 days/ Our plan is not to use air until next spring!
  3. Eating from the freezers and pantry. I have a lot of food in our a stockpile. This month I am really sticking to the idea of eating what we have. The one exception is if we run out of a staple such as eggs. We currently do not have any sausage for breakfast but I am going to attempt to use lunch meat in omelets for the month.
  4. Staying at home, I know that I have said this before but I need to post it again for my benefit. If we don’t run out to pick up x then I am not spending money. I am also saving gas money!
  5. I wanted to have a no spend month but I needed a haircut this week, cost of $10. Matt is anticipating starting a job and is in need of black shirt and pants. We were able to locate 2 additional shirts at Goodwill but will most likely need a couple of pair of pants. We ended up spending $8.54 for the shirts.

How are you saving money?

Thursday Thoughts- Summer Ending

  • Zach and Kendall have Meet the Teacher night today. They will start school on Monday so it will be back to a crazy busy regular routine again. Zach is planning to play baseball and Kendall wants to try a couple of new things at school.
  • Lily is almost finished with her first week of school. She has been working for several hours each day this week. She is very excited to continue in the online charter school and even more excited that she is planning to join several clubs this year. Another big thing in her life right now is that she is planning to audition for the youth theater.
  • Our garden is nearing the end as well. We ended up pulling up two huge carts of dead plants this week with. We do have several watermelons that are left and peppers but otherwise there is not much happening.  I spoke with my neighbor this evening and at least she made me feel much better that her garden did not do very well either especially the tomatoes.
  • We completed our back to school shopping trip tonight. I had not been looking forward to the trip so at least it will be easier to start packing lunches and snack now that we are stocked back up.
  • Matt and I had a date night Monday. The not so little kids went over and spent the night with Amanda for pizza and a movie. We used an Applebee’s gift card for dinner. After the experience, we had it has solidified our decision not to purchase any more gift cards to Applebee and therefore not returning to that restaurant chain for a very long if ever again.  We ended our date night by going to Walmart where we used 2 gift cards from MPlaces and finished earning and use 2 additional gift cards from Shopkicks to buy some cereal.

Sunday Savings 7/23/2017

This month, my focus has been not only saving money but specifically using up items in our pantry and freezers. Our stockpile runs over and I am starting to find some food that I know would not get used if I don’t force the issue or I had completely forgotten we have.  It sounds strange to say that I am trying to use food we have on hand in addition to freezing items from our garden but this is definitely the case. I have a menu plan in place until the first Thursday of September. This has a lot of wiggle room as I don’t plan until the week of for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We are starting to run low or completely out of some items that need to be replaced. I am trying to buy only what we are out of. After my purchased today, I am hopeful that we can avoid shopping all together till at least Mid August for even the basics.  Today, I specifically used “free money” to purchase most of the items. I did end of spending a total of $3.50 between CVS and Walmart.

CVS will occasionally send me a survey to complete with the promise of 10 ECB. I was able to complete one of these surveys for the first time in at least six months last week. I checked the sales last week and decide to wait for a better sale. The better sale occurred this week. Today, I picked up: 2-24 packs of water, 2 small tins of Altoids, a can of hair spray, a can of mouse, Irish Spring body wash and Dial hand soap. My total out of pocket was $3.33 with $4.50 in ECB back.  Because the reward was in ECB it does not cover tax so $.43 was actually sales tax. The only “need” on this list was for the waters and body wash.

I earned a $25 Walmart gift card by submitting my driving record on line. Matt used most of this card last week to purchase items that Lily needed to pack for her missions trip. I started the trip with $8.34 left on the card. Last night we discovered that we were completely out of several items, mayonnaise, Worchester sauce and cream cheese.  I did a little bit of research and discovered that I could also purchase a large box of cereal for less than $1.50. I needed to add $1.08 to my gift card in order to purchase all four items however I claimed $1.00 worth of rebates from Ibotta.

I am very excited and proud to be able to purchase the needed item for less than $4.

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is one of my “extra” paychecks. I budget for 2 paychecks a month so on the 2 months a year that I receive 3 paychecks it allows a little bit of wiggle room. This time the majority of the check is going to travel. We are headed on two major week long trips this summer.
  2. Our garden is starting to produce. We are enjoying squash, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers. I have also harvest and frozen basil and oregano. I have been disappointed so far with the cucumbers but there is still hope. I am most excited about the watermelon. We already have one that is soft ball size with lots of blooms and other small one starting to form.
  3. The first week out of school has been just as crazy busy as the weeks before school ended. Monday night was swim team practice. Tuesday night was suppose to be Swim Meet but a storm cancelled that so we headed to Costco. Wednesday night- I got confused and we ended up relaxing at the pool for an hour. Thursday- make up swim meet. Friday- yard work.
  4. We recently lost a close friend who was the spouse of our piano teacher. The girls got a 5 week break from lessons but I am thankful they resume this week. Zach will be attending a reading camp in July so as you can see we are staying busy.
  5. Extra earning this month have been awesome. The current goal is to purchase Zachary’s birthday present with these earns in addition to adding to our Disney fund.

Saving on Saturday 6/10/2017

I should actually title this post making money on Saturday but let me tell you the story to back up the facts first.  This week, Lily made a sweet potato pie and used up the rest of our nutmeg. We also are running low on hand soap for the bathrooms. My original plan was to place an order through Target and use a gift card that I had from MPlaces. Target has changed their rules so that I was not able to get nutmeg shipped to me without a $25 purchase. We also needed some vegetables for a salad. So I decided to head to Walmart. I had $20 in giftcards from Cricket for there. First I checked Southern savers to see if there were any really good deals at Walmart, yes indeed there were. I ended up finding a lot of good deals including free cereal. I checked the list of deals for Walmart and printed out the list that matched coupons I had. I ended up with 10 coupons to use.  I also checked IBOTTA for the deals that she had listed on the site.

At the store, I did not fine one of item on my list and a second items was $1 more than expected so I did not purchase it as well. I also grabbed nutmeg, without a coupon in addition to a watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and carrots. My total started at $46.36 before coupons and dropped to $38.61 after coupons. While in the store, Lily and Kendall enjoyed doing Shopkicks. I was able to cash out for an additional $5 gift card on Shopkicks in the store.  I used $25 in gift cards, this brought my cash total down to $14.74. I came home and scanned my receipt in IBOTTA where I received back $8.50 in rebates in addition to $5 for a special promotion by cashing in one receipt this month. I don’t often use IBOTTA because I only purchase items we need and rarely find things on their list. In fact the last time I scanned a receipt was January of this year.  You are only allowed to  cash out IBOTTA for amount greater than $20. I  had $11 sitting in the account starting last August so with my additional money today, I moved $24.50 to paypal.  As soon as the money arrived in paypal, I transferred to my bank account.  This entire process from start to finish took less than 10 minutes.

Final math:  $24.50(rebate) – $14.76(cash)= $9.74 profit in addition to the $45 worth of groceries!

Friday Finds

We have been very fortunate this week to find and be given some great items.  Since I have not done a post with bullet points in a long time this is a fun way to be random.

  • Food Lion had a sale on “Suddenly Salad” $1 each. We discovered last year that we could add chicken, cucumbers and or tomatoes to make a great lunch or pepperoni and tomatoes for a very different but just as good lunch. I grabbed 10 with plans to use weekly this summer.
  • Purchased tomato plants from a local nursery for 50 cent a plant.
  • Found a couple of blueberry bushes on clearance at Walmart for $3 and onion starters for $2. We planted the blueberries and placed the onions under our house in storage for next spring.
  • Use a $2 off coupon to purchase “Got2b ” hair spiking glue for $0.87 cent. I went to a CVS in High Point and the cashier tried to make me feel bad for using coupons. Didn’t work but seriously just scan coupons I promise they will work. We also grabbed Easter Twizzlers for $1.50 a bag.
  • Used gift cards earned from Swagbucks to purchase drinks for everyone at Starbucks.
  • Matt has been enjoying his birthday freebies including a drink from Dunkin Donuts
  • I used office depot rewards to purchase a pack of AAA batteries and a notebook. Spent zero out of pocket and earned another $14 in rewards to spend later.
  • We have been given several bags of clothes recently so the only purchase has been swim suits for swim team.

What are your good finds?

Sunday Shopping Secrets

One thing is for sure, I have been doing a lot of shopping this week. I thought I would share with you some of the reason/tips I am using to shop this week.

  • Most coupons site, tell you that sale cycles are every six weeks. They are very direct in saying you need to buy only enough to last for that six week cycle. I disagree, my best example is the Quarter Back Sale at Food Lion. I have been shopping and loving this sale for at least six years with my first blogging about it here. Initially this sale ran in January and June, things have definitely changed with it only occurring once last year. So I am taking advantage of it.  I made a list of all the items I remember purchasing in the past, checked to see if we had a year’s supply of and then made my shopping list.  If the sale occurs again this year, I will only need to restock items that I am low on.  For example I did not buy onion soup mix or taco seasoning this time because I have enough for at least a year. I did purchase 12 ketchups and 10 mustards.  For this sale, I try to stock up for a year for most other sales, I plan to stock for 3 months at a time or stock depending on storage space.  When we start to get low on items I start checking for sales and usually am able to grab the items before running completely out.
  • ALWAYS scan your loyalty card and read the coupons when it is an option. This week, I received a BOGO coupon for any soda at Food Lion. The next trip I received a coupon for $1.00 off any Dole Salad. I checked the prices on salad and actually picked up a small bag for FREE. I did not need the salad and would not have purchased for free is always for me. CVS gives out different coupons to different customers but it still is nice to check out the deals. I was able to combine my coupons and a red machine coupon to purchase Easter candy.
  • My final secret is simple sounds but probably the most important one. Have a basic idea of what things cost and if you find at or below that price grab up as many items as you have coupons for or as many as you can easily store. Here are my simple rules I always use:
    • Less than a dollar usually is a great deal, except for toothpaste. This week I found 2L Diet Cokes for $0.79 this is an awesome deal, so far I have purchased 30 at this price  but am out of room to store.
    • I will only buy toothpaste when it is twenty five cents or less. Most of the time I grab the free stuff.  I always make sure to grab free toothpaste even if it is the only item I get.
    • Toilet paper should only be bought when it is less than 40 cent a roll. To figure this out simple divide the price of the package by the number of rolls.  I don’t count double rolls in this because really I am not paying by the sheet!
    • I check on SouthernSavers.com if it is listed on her site, I will consider buying just because it is at least 40% off.

 

5 Things Friday 4/7/2017

  1. I have done lots of shopping this week. We did our monthly trip to Costco, I headed into CVS for an awesome deal on shampoo. And so far I have made four trips to Food Lion.  I actually convinced my mother to head to Food Lion tonight and helped her get a great deal on our Easter Ham and drinks.
  2. Spring is here, I am so excited to say that all my plants have survived the winter except for the mosquito bush. I will definitely be replacing it! The trees I planted in the fall have started to bloom as well.  On my kitchen sink, I have sweet potato slits growing in addition to 6 pear tomato plants!
  3. We have been officially without heat or air for the past 14 days. The temperature is suppose to drop in the thirties today. I hope this is the last cold spell and my goal is to keep the heat off as long as possible. It would help the budget if we could lower electric cost to $150 for April and $200 for May.
  4. All three of the little kids are on Spring Break next week.  Lily has decided that she is going to continue with charter school next year. So we have 7 more weeks until the summer.
  5. Kendall and Zach brought home their report cards today. Kendall has straight A and Zach has 3 in all areas except for spelling. Lily received her report card last week and has all A’s as well.  I am so proud of these kiddos!