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
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!