Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shopping Frugally

Money is still an issue for us. Hubby is still working at his part-time job, and we are ever so grateful for it, knowing that there are many others without work. We have been doing alright, we have our moments when we have only $17 in the bank and we are left holding our breath until the next paycheck comes in, and sometimes, almost as soon as it gets deposited, it's spent already.

It helps that we don't keep up with all the newest toys and fashions, we are a low-tech family, which means we don't have any video games or ipods or any such electronica. We only have a computer, a TV with a DVD/Video player, and a plain and simple cell phone for Hubby. Oh, and an old handheld nintendo game player that gets used only in the bathroom. We are happy this way, with a simple lifestyle and less distractions that take away our time as a family.

It also helps that we raised maybe 30% of our own food-- hopefully more next year. I am still figuring out the balance and how much to plant to feed our growing family; for example: I planted 45 potato halves which gave us about 150 pounds of potatoes, and that lasted about 2 1/2 months. Definitely need to plant more next season.

That said, since my Dad's wife taught me some coupons tricks last August, I have been learning how to shop all over again. I've always used coupons before, but it never saved me much, maybe $10 at the most here and there, but still, it helped. I always wondered how those "coupon ladies" got $150 worth of groceries and only paid like $5 bucks! How did they do that??? I am slowly learning how!

I found out last week that Target was having a sale on a children's game-- connect 4x4. It was on sale for $14.99. There was a coupon out for $5 off, plus Target has a store coupon for $5 off. That makes it $5 after coupons. Then, I also had a $5 giftcard from buying something at Target, which made the game free and all I had to pay was the tax, which was 49 cents! Now, I have a game for all of us to play and I can put it under the tree this Christmas, and it didn't break the bank. Heck! It didn't even crack the wallet!

Do any of you shop at CVS? I never did. I thought it was an expensive store and I only shopped there if I needed something real quick, like cough medicine or a soda and a candy bar. Turns out, there is a trick to shopping at CVS... Get the membership card, cut out coupons in the Sunday papers, shop wisely and CVS will pay you to shop there! No, really! I'll show you-- this week, CVS is offering a nice selection of candies on sale.. buy $15 worth, and they'll give you $5 back on your receipt, which you can use to shop next time you go in. So here's the scenario:: Get 4 bags of chocolate kisses for a total of $12, 2 XL hershey bars for $3 which equals $15; use 2 $1 coupons for the kisses and a CVS coupon for $3 off $15. Ok, that sounds confusing, here...

4 kisses -- $12
2 XL bars-- $3
equals $15
2-$1 coupon -$2
CVS 3 off 15 -$3
total is $10 and CVS gives you $5 to use next time you shop!

So say next week, they offer the candy deal again, you now have $5 CVS cash along with whatever coupons you have and they give you more CVS cash for next time! It's a great little trick to keep you coming back, but when you use your own coupons, you actually kind of trick them a little bit. I don't know how they can afford to do it, but it works for me, so I'm not complaining. By using this way of shopping at CVS, I was able to get the newest Pixar UP movie on DVD for free! There goes another present under the tree this year! I also now have candies to use for my holiday baking-- the kisses go into cookies and the XL chocolate bars will be turned into fudge.

Last year, we could only afford one present for each child and then one present for all of them to share. On the one hand, we didn't mind, we wanted to teach them to appreciate their things and not get materialistic; on the other hand, we really wanted to be able to give them more, but just couldn't afford to. This year, we'd like to give each child 2 presents-- a new pair of jammies and one item, maybe a book or a toy, and then the game and the movie for them to share. With the money I am saving with my new way of shopping, I can see it happening.

I'm not super coupon lady yet, but I am getting there. It's a lot of work on my part, to search out online coupons and match up the coupons with the sales to make a good deal. I try to limit my computer time to a couple hours during the day and then a couple of hours after the kids go to bed. I am grateful that Hubby helps out and doesn't mind using coupons, too. He was the one that picked up the free game at Target for me last week and came home pretty pleased about it. We now have a little game we do with each other after I get home from the store and I point out something I got for free. I'll hold it up and we say "fuh-ree!" then laugh like crazy! Wait til he gets home tonight and I hold up the new UP movie... "fuh-ree!" then we'll cackle like a couple of crazy old loons!



Christina said...

Yup that would be me, also this summer another blogger told me about swagbucks, instead of searching on yahoo or any search site I use swagbucks, which in turn I can use towards anything in the swag store, I go for the amazon gift cards, for 45 swagbucks I get a 5 dollar amazon gift card, the first couple cards took about 6 weeks but since them I am earning more and more and more! Since July18th I have made $55 dollars in Amazon cards. If someone signs up under you you earn dollar for dollar till they hit 100. So if you sign up then get your friends to sign up then you earn more money. They also release swagcodes for bonus bucks(I have the toolbar to search straight from) http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/monkeymum

I wish we had CVS up here but we don't. I also wish I could order your jam's but don't think it would cross customs(Canada)!

I do read all your posts but don't normally have a free hand to type as I have many many little ones afoot, so I must cut this short and relieve the oldest of twin duty!

leslieinwv said...


I have read your posts faithfully since before Baby was born. I'm not sure how I found your blog, but I live in WV too, in a town called Hurricane between Huntington and Charleston. I have been inspired by your frugality! I live in a subdivision, so I can't have a garden, but oh how I love to see all of those fresh veggies!
Anyway, the point of my post is that I would be honored to pick up new pajamas for your beautiful kids for Christmas! I am actually going to Jeffersonville OH this weekend to the outlets, and when I read your post I thought, I could get PJ's for them at the Carters outlet! I don't mean to sound like a crazy stalker, I just felt moved to offer after reading this latest post. My email is leslieappleby@hotmail.com, please feel free to email me sizes, I promise I'm not crazy, just blessed, and would love to free up some extra money for you to pick up another "free" item or too! I think that's great and I'm definantly going to pick up a CVS card!

tracey said...

I stumbled across your blog a short time ago and have been reading ever since. I am also from a small town in WV, Elkview, which is about 10 mins. from Charleston. We have 4 children and though times have not alway been easy for us, right now things are finally going right. I would love to be able to pick up something for your children if you would let me. My email is traceymr@gmail.com if you would consider my request.

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

I LOVE IT when you talk coupons - you SEXY frugal woman you!! RRRAARRRR!!

Ok, and I imagine you SO already know about this but I'm going to mention it JUST IN CASE - Do you go to Walmart.com and sign up for their free samples?

In the last few months they've sent me -

An entire roll of toilet paper
A small pack of baby wipes
2 different vitamin Emergen-C packets
2 different samples of lotion
3 different samples of hair care stuff
A packet of a new type of sugar substitute
4 different samples of feminine pads
1 sample box of tampons
A whole can of cat food
A bag of cat treats
A bag of dog treats
And more little stuff here and there that I can't remember :P

You have to go and choose which samples you want, fill out a form with your name, address, ect and they usually ask just a couple of questions like "Have you used this product before?" That kind of thing. They ask for more stuff like birthdate and phone # but I always just make something up and they still send me everything! For a while I had two addresses and using by using a seperate e-mail adress for each I got DOUBLE of everything!

It's seriously like Christmas when I go to the mailbox! And it's all free, no gimicks or even spam if you can believe it!

OOOO!! AND, I refresh the page after I sign up for mine and re-do the form with my moms name and address so that SHE gets the samples too (I have to use another e-mail adress for her as well) and it's nice because she gets little things in the mail now and then that remind her I'm thinking about her. :)

I go and check the site almost everyday because the samples don't last for long :)

Have Fun!!

~Mama Skates~ said...

i love that u & ur hubby have so much fun 2gether (kiddos too)! been reading ur blog 4 a while now...i like ur frugal tips! keep em coming!

jenny said...

Christina-- I have heard of swagbucks, but I admit I have not joined it because it doesn't make sense to me.. I earn points for searching online, which then translate into giftcards??? But reading you talk about it, I guess it really does work and it's worth a look into. Thanks for sharing! I'll definitely check it out.

As for the jam, I think it'll be alright going through customs, but then again, I don't really know. I'll have to ask my post office and see what they know. :o)

Leslie and Tracey-- The two of you have just made me cry! I wasn't looking for anything when I wrote this post, just wanted to share some of the ways we are making ends meet and if that can help someone else, then great! You are both very generous to offer to get something for my children. I am speechless right now, so let me just say: Thank you. You are the reason my faith cannot be shaken, to know that there are people out there willing to help total strangers. I am blessed to have "met" such wonderful people through this blog. xoxo

Gringa-- LOL, me?? Sexy frugal mama?!?! Wait, let me go get the husband to read that!! LOL!!

Actually, I DO know about Walmart, but you're pretty slick to get everything twice!! My mama lives with me now, so I can't use her address anymore!!

They have websites and blogs that help match up sales and coupons, but I don't know what stores they have in TX and Mexico... Do a search for stores where you're at so you can save more money-- but yeah, nothing beats fuh-ree!! :o)

Mama Skates-- It's nice to know that I DO have people reading, even if they don't always leave comments. But I remember you-- you've commented before!! Glad I can still hold your interest! :o) I'll share more frugal tips as I learn them! :o)

Carol said...

Brilliant tips hon!!!

C x