Friday, June 24, 2011

Monthly Savings

So...last night I had to do some last minute running around for a little trip we are getting ready to take.  I know you aren't suppose to tell the internet when you are going away but the house isn't going to be unattended (I have great neighbors), we have an alarm system that will be armed and my FB page is private so I feel okay mentioning it this one time on my blog.

Anyway, to my point, last night I needed to do some last minute running around and it included a trip to the grocery store.  I took my binder with me and headed out.


When I got home, I felt I did well but I wanted to know how well I'd done.

As I was clipping new coupons that my neighbor (I told you I had wonderful neighbors!) left on my front porch and I mentioned to Jerry that I wanted to figure out how much we had saved in June.  I had kept all the receipts and just needed to plug them in somewhere.   He was on his laptop and he came up with this : The Krazy Coupon Lady's Extreme Couponing Tip: Savings Tracker.  I'm pretty sure he was more excited about it than I was...

Jerry has been supportive of my couponing so far.  He really does need to see that it's working, though.

He sees me come in with 5 free toothbrushes and says, "We don't NEED 5 toothbrushes".  I respond with, "But they were FREE and we WILL use them eventually.  Just think...next time you need a new toothbrush you will just have to open it!"

He worries that I'm focusing on things that we don't need and therefore forgetting about the stuff we do need.

Right now I'm stockpiling a tiny bit . . . but I know that we still need to eat!

Seeing our savings on a spreadsheet last night made him feel a little better but he is a very competitive person, too...so I think he wants to know how we stack up in the savings department.

I don't really care about that.  Well...that's not entirely true.

I can't lie, it feels good to have someone behind you in the checkout say they are impressed by your savings.  It's nice to brag a little.  However, the most important thing is that I am coming in under or at our budgeted grocery amount...$560 a month.  We budgeted about $140 a week for groceries when we were doing our budget on mint.com and that's what we have been going by since then.

So ~ here's the somewhat of a breakdown of this month - keep in mind that this isn't just the grocery store . . . this includes Walgreens, Target and CVS, too!'

Total Shelf Cost:  $1,038.63
Total Coupon Savings: $295.04
Total Store Sale Price Savings: $181.60
Total Combined Savings:  $476.64

Total Out-of-Pocket:  $561.99

Savings Rate:  45.89%

Not bad for the first month back to couponing!  Plus, I know that I am starting to get a bit of a routine down and that I will get better as I build a more extensive library of coupons (is that even the right terms to describe it?) and know the sale trends and all of that!

I know that couponing is something that I'll be doing for a while so Stay Tuned!!!  I'm hoping you will see the Savings Rate go up and the Total Out-of-Pocket go down!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Results

If you have been reading the blog for a while, you probably remember the whole story about Danika needing breathing treatments back in April.  She had gone to the circus with my parents.  She rode a pony and then was having trouble breathing that night and the next morning.  We ended up at Children's Hospital all day on Sunday.

Cute, huh?

After a visit to her PCP, it was recommended that Danika go and have some allergy testing done just so that we are prepared.  She has been taking Zyrtec before any exposure to dogs - because they seem to have an effect on him - she also has an inhaler in case things seem to get a little hairy. 

I knew that the allergy test wasn't going to be fun.  We had a great doctor and a wonderful visit - but Danika, my drama queen, really didn't take to getting poked over and over in her arm very well.  The doctor made it seem a lot less painful that it really seemed - he told me that the ends were really no sharper than a ball point pen HOWEVER the little tester things had teeth...not huge ones, but enough that I'm sure it hurt more than being poked with a ball point pen.

Anyway - she survived...but she did scream and milk it for a while.  :)


The end results are that she is allergic to trees (quite a few), grass (but only when it is pollinating?), horses and dogs.  Nothing super surprising there - although the fact that she didn't seem to have a cat allergy surprised me a bit.  All in all, the doctor said that her episode in April was probably a combination of all 3 or 4 of the things that she is allergic to hitting her at once.  He called it a Double Whammy (but it would be more like a Triple or Quadruple Whammy).   He feels that the Zyrtec and inhaler are the way to go unless we notice a change in her.  He also said that we will be able to schedule a follow up visit with him in February to discuss how to handle her next spring.  Apparently, spring is the worst for the trees and grass she has problems with.

I'm glad we know.  I'm not sure I would put her through it again, though...but at least it's not worse than what we thought!  :)

Oh - BTW...I have one more major thing to get through this week - the TV repair guys are coming on Friday.  It's a LONG story but I will just say that I will be SO thrilled when Saturday gets here!  :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coupon Craziness

I have to admit that a lot of my "free" time - which there isn't much of to begin with - but a lot of my "free" time has been going to learning and researching more about coupons.  The good news is that I think I've found a routine that is going to work for me and I'm getting better at figuring things out.

The bad news?  I'm unofficially diagnosing myself with Mommy ADHD because I can't seem to just stick with what I'm doing and get it done when it comes to coupons.  For example, yesterday I started looking at match-ups for Giant Eagle over at ourcouponhome.com.   I got distracted by trying to print out online coupons - I tried printing extras from Nate's computer but couldn't get the printer to work.  That took up 15 minutes I wasn't planning on spending on couponing.

Then I got distracted by a CVS add for this week - since I was planning on heading down there last night.  

I spent 10 minutes looking for my Green Bag Tag - which I STILL can't find!!!

Then some coupons came in the mail from my Great Aunt . . . which meant I was also going back to GE last night because I got enough coupons to do the buy 4 Danimals and get a gallon of milk free.  At 4/$8 and with 4 of the $1.00 off coupons I spent $4.00 on 4 Danimal 6 packs and a gallon of 2% milk!  That deal ended yesterday, though, so I had to make sure I went before it was over.

I just keep getting distracted by new things...it happens with other things, too.  The internet is the worst.  I am always going on a tangent while online and then can't remember why I signed on to begin with!!!

I did get this done last night, though:

 
It's my sanity for big trips to Giant Eagle - a table that shows the product in the first column and then the sale price in the second one.  The third column tells me what kind of coupon I have and the fourth tells me how many I have to buy (or can buy).  The last column is how much it should cost...I say should because I have things on there that I don't know the price for, too.  I did come up with it on my own and I'm sure that there is something fancier out there that does all the adding for me and such...but I'm happy I am at least this organized!  :)

I haven't perfected it, yet...but it really helps me to make sure I'm getting the right things.  It helps Jerry know, too.  So when we go to the store expecting to get free toothbrushes because they are 2/$3 and we have $.75 off 1 coupons, we don't end up picking up the 2/$5 ones and actually paying for them!  hehehe

Off to get the babies from their naps.  My shopping excursion isn't until tomorrow at the earliest (maybe Saturday) so I will let you know how close I get to my estimated $82.45 for this week's groceries!  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Whip It - Good?

Couldn't help it...the title just couldn't be denied!

So ~ it's not like I needed a movie to tell me that I've kind of hit adulthood.  The 4 screaming, laughing, crazy kids that I'm actually responsible for do that EVERY day.

However, I tend to head to movies and TV shows as an escape from that reality...I have always been one to get wrapped up in a movie so tightly that it takes me a while to get back to reality.  It's especially true for TV shows that I watch weekly.

I was devastated when Season 4 of Dexter ended...devastated for WEEKS!!!  I would just randomly look at Jerry and say, "I can't believe that really happened!"  Of course, his response was, "Janene, it's a TV show!"

Why am I telling you all this?  I watched Whip-It (directorial debut of Drew Barrymore) on Saturday night.  LOVED the movie.  It was my kind of movie - very funny and just the right amount of angst for me.



Funny thing is...I always loved these kind of movies because I could totally relate to the little rebel girl who was trying to prove to everyone that she wasn't what they wanted her to be.   I would smile knowingly when she told her parents that she would be studying at a friend when really they were going to some crazy concert or (in this case) Roller Derby...I still did that but then it was immediately followed by this weird feeling that I wasn't too happy about.  A tiny bit of fear made it's way in there - fear that some day my daughter (or sons) would be pulling this stuff on me!  I started to relate more to the mother who had no clue what her daughter was doing until she found the ticket stub or (in this case) the giant poster with her playing Roller Derby!  I started to wonder how I would deal with being the "bad guy" who wouldn't let them do what they wanted to do because *ahem* I am smarter and I know better.

As much as I loved the movie, I would recommend it - not a FANTASTIC movie but entertaining enough, by the end of the movie I came to the disturbing realization that I can't even use Saturday night movies as an escape from reality anymore.  I'm officially an adult, parent and all grown up.  You still won't see me giving my Docs away, though...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm learning . . .

Remember my post about my new venture into coupons?  The one where I showed off my brand new coupon binder?   Well...yesterday, Jerry and I went on our first big coupon shopping trip.  I was a NERVOUS wreck.  I'm not sure what it is exactly that makes me the most nervous but I know there are a lot of contributing factors:

1) I hate for other customers to look at me like I'm crazy when I'm separating orders and handing out stacks of coupons.

2)  I hate for cashiers to roll their eyes at me when I start separating orders and handing out stacks of coupons.

3) I am just a nervous wreck in general that things won't work out the way I have them planned and the $250 
    grocery trip that I was suppose to get down to $175 will end up really costing me $250...

Now, none of the above things happened last night.  In fact, everyone that I encountered was SUPER nice.  The manager at Walgreens patiently rang my orders up 3 different ways until we found the way that would work how I had initially planned for it to work!

The wonderful cashier at Giant Eagle even gave me the cash for a coupon that the register wouldn't take because she saw the items on the coupon and that I bought enough of them for the coupon to work!

I even met someone else with a coupon binder when I was getting my free toothpaste - she was doing the same thing!  I also had a conversation with the lady behind me in line who told me she admired me for putting so much work into saving money for my family.  It was a huge confidence booster for me!  Plus, I had Jerry with me who kept telling me that I needed to quit apologizing to everyone because I wasn't doing anything wrong.  He was also happy with our final outcome - so it was an all around success!


Here's a breakdown of what we ended up doing last night:

Walgreen's - OOP (out of pocket) was $39.22
                    Total Savings was $68.16

We walked out of there with:

     3 packages of Pampers (31 count)
     2 Gillette Fusion Razors
     4 Gillette Body Washes
     4 Gillette Deodorants
     2 Kabang Candies (did you know that you can't use a RR with a MC?  Therefore a .59 piece of candy.)

We ended up saving about 64%.

Then we went to Giant Eagle...the list for what we bought is WAY too long but I can give you the OOP and total savings.

OOP was $168.24 (which is a little above average for a week of shopping for us - but we got SO much more this week!)

Total Savings was $94.67!

It's only about 36% but I'm still pretty excited about it!

Some of the highlights included free milk, free toothpaste and 6 bags of Sargento Shredded Cheese for a buck a piece, Purex (which is really one of the only kind of laundry soaps we can use with Danika's sensitive skin) for only $1.49 each!

I know that I'll get better.  I know that I will be able to avoid the deals for things we don't need once we get a little stock pile built up.  Right now, though, I'm just working on my confidence and learning all of those coupon policies!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I couldn't help but think of . . .

I couldn't help but think of my Grandmother when I made my pasta the other night.  My Grandmother lives in Florida and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned her before.  One year, I think I was 12 or 13, my sister and I spent a month or so down in Florida without my parents.  We were shuffled between my Grandmother's house, my Great Aunt's house and my Grandfather's house...We even took a weekend trip to the Keys!  We stayed at one of my Aunt and Grandmother's friends' house in Big Pine Key.  I remember swimming in the canals right off their back yard.

Anyway - one of the things I remember from that trip is Pesto Sauce.  I remember having lunch with my Grandmother one day and she whipped up a batch of Pesto and threw it on some spaghetti and I LOVED it!  I didn't find out until the other day that my Dad actually doesn't like Pesto - which would explain why this memory is really the only one I have of eating it.

Jerry loves to grow a garden in summer.  I love fresh basil.  We actually have 5 basil plants.  There are 3 in a little box on my back deck and 2 more in his garden.  The basil was starting to get big and we wanted to use some to make sure we get more when we need it...so, we made Pesto.  Jerry actually likes it, too.  Although, he swears he never had it before marrying me...so, I guess you could say that it's my Grandmother's "fault" Jerry tried Pesto, too!

Of course, the first thing we needed was a lot of basil:


Next, some yummy grated Parmesan:

 
Add some olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper:


Throw it all in the food processor and blend until you get something like this:


I know it doesn't look like it would be that good but trust me . . . it is SO yummy.  We ate ours on spaghetti but we've also put it on bread before with a little melted cheese on top.  It doesn't last long around here.  Even Nate liked it!

I'm sure it isn't the last batch of Pesto we will be making this summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Haircuts

My boys (well the twins at least) got their summer haircuts this past week...here are the before and afters.  :)


Dean Haircut

Dean

David's haircu

David

They both HATED getting their haircuts but look so stinking cute with them cut!

In other news, I have 3 kids with fevers and 1 puking...so this blog post isn't going to be a long one.  Actually, the boys are doing much better today than they were yesterday.  Dean is the only one not under the weather.  I'd complain but I know it could be worse and I'm hoping if we get this over with now we will be all good for vacation this month!

Friday, June 3, 2011

It started with a simple Google Search

Actually ~ that's probably not entirely true. It started by flicking through the On-Demand TV shows and stumbling across Extreme Couponing.  My friend, Shannon, had mentioned the show to me months ago but I never was able to catch it when it was on and I never really thought it would be On-Demand.  When I saw it on there, I decided to watch an episode . . . it was only 30 minutes.  :)

Now, when they say EXTREME they mean INSANELY EXTREME.  These people spend more time than I have and they store more than I would ever have room for in this house (although we are adding room for a large pantry to the qualifications for our next house!).

I couldn't help watching and thinking, "I can do that" the entire time.  I had tried The Grocery Game a while back and actually started to have some success with it.  I just got lazy - pregnant and lazy - and decided to shop at Aldi's instead.  Then, well, I just kind of stopped using coupons.

One of the biggest problems I had with coupons was that I could never find them.  I tried saving the inserts and writing the dates on them but I never wanted to put the effort into finding the coupons when I needed them and clipping them out.  I also tried putting them all in a shoe box alphabetically - but they would stick together and I would end up with a lot of unused and expired ones.  I never really wanted to do the "binder method" because I really thought that was for those "Crazy, Die Hard" coupon ladies.

Then I started talking to some friends on Facebook.  I started exploring different ways to organize my coupons.  I started looking at pros and cons...and knew what I had to do.

I'd now like to introduce you to my coupon binder.  I'm contemplating naming it because I have a feeling we are going to be spending a lot of time together.  :)

After I decided I wanted to go the binder route, I headed to Staples and came across this zipper up binder.


One of the things I liked about it is that it is like having 2 binders (back to back) with 2 separate set of rings and pockets.  It was $19.99 at Staples - but if you consider that's sort of like buying 2 binders, I didn't think it was a bad price.  Plus, it's pink.  :)


So, here's the inside of one of the sides of my binder.  I put coupons to be clipped, scissors, my price book, and then the actual "meat" of the binder - the clipped coupons.

*see those paper clips?  1000 of them for $3 at Staples! 


I have a real issue when it comes to where to put coupons when you organize them by categories.  Like, where do you put jars of fruit?  Do you put it with jars of spaghetti because they are both in jars?  What about hot dogs?  They are considered meat but are in the dairy aisle...it just drives me crazy.  I'm sure that there are simple answers to my questions and really it would be up to me because it is MY binder and as long as I know where it is it and could find it what's the difference.  Knowing me, though, I would forget where I decided to put it...so, to solve my obsessive need I just decided to alphabetize the coupons.


Here's a picture of one of the pages of my binder.  I don't have that many coupons clipped yet - but the ones I do have fit perfectly.  I'm really excited and can't wait to get my hands on some inserts this Sunday!


FYI - here's a video of how to make a coupon binder...




I'm not going to turn this into a coupon blog - but I'm warning you now that you will hear A LOT more about couponing in future posts.  :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Extended weekend = No time for blogging

I was thinking about the last blog post I wrote when I started my morning and remembered that it was way back on Saturday.  For some reason I also thought that today was Monday.  I guess that means I was having fun because time really did fly between then and now!

I'm going to share some pictures of the weekend and a few cute (and some not so cute) stories of what we've been up to since the last two posts were totally NOT personal ones.  :)

First of all, just so I don't forget, would you believe that today was the very FIRST time I've had an incident with poop being flung by one of my children?  I use to hear horror stories about poop in cribs and smeared all over the place by children.  Now, I've had a few messes and blown out diapers but I've never actually had a child touch his (or her) poop on purpose when it would have otherwise stayed in a diaper.

Today, Dean did just that.  It wasn't a huge mess but I was still surprised by it.  Clean up was pretty easy because he just jumped on it a couple of times in the crib and then tossed it at David.  Luckily he missed David's crib so I only had one baby to clean up.  *whew*

Okay - on to happier, better smelling events of the past few days:



Seconds later David threw a fit and I didn't get another picture of him that day - Nate, on the other hand, had a blast!

Here's a picture of Nate and David playing with the wiggly worm sprinkler thing I snagged last week at Kmart for under $12! Nate helped me pick it out when we stopped at Kmart to get bubbles before the picnics last week. Luckily, the weather was perfect for it on Sunday and the kids had a blast - all except for David, who threw tantrums on and off all weekend for no apparent reason.

Danika

Here's Danika on that same day - diva that she is, she didn't want to get her hair wet!

After they played here all day, we shipped the big kids up to my parents and Jerry's parents came over here to sit with the twins and we went shopping and out to dinner! Fun time!

Then on Monday morning, the kids were still at my parents and were going to stay there until we went up after Dean and David's nap (around 2:30). So, Jerry and I took advantage of the extra "less than 4" kid time and cleaned out our room and the babies' room! We even rearranged the furniture in our room and it looks so much bigger! Jerry has told me how much bigger it looks every day since we did it!

It was a great feeling to get those rooms straightened up!

LOVE this one!

This is probably my favorite picture from Memorial Day - Jerry looks so incredibly happy! I have to say that all of the kids were pretty well behaved that day. They had a lot of fun playing in Nunnu and Grammie's back yard and there were almost no fights! Sunburn, yes...fights, no.

In the pool

Here I am with my kiddos in the pool. I started out standing but it was just too tough keeping a hand on both the boys while trying to stand in the pool so I took my shorts off *gasp* and just went swimming in my tee shirt. Don't worry, my parents back yard is fenced in and they use to have a larger pool...I'm not the first one to go swimming in my underwear in that yard!

Angelina - "Aunt Janene...take my picture doing this!"

My niece, Angelina, was a riot on Monday. She was really hamming it up for my camera and she just LOVED being in the water! I think she also got a little sunburn but I'm not sure if it was as bad as Nate's...

Twins?  Yes...they are...really...I promise!

They don't look like twins, I know...but they are twins. They were really good on Monday. Now they are almost 2 and get into anything and everything but for the most part, they played really well.

Happy Danika

All in all, it was an awesome day!

How was your weekend?