Clipping Coupons and Saving Money…

 

Recently I was inspired by a friend to start using coupons.  Up until now I had thought it too time consuming and a little annoying to coupon.  I had watched the Extreme Coupon shows and researched it a little (very little) and came to the conclusion that coupons just wouldn’t work for my family’s needs.  I didn’t have the use or space for 50 jars of mustard or whatever condiment the women on the show were buying out.  I’ve always thought it a fine line between the Extreme Couponing show and the Hoarding show.  It was definitely not a line I wanted to dance around.

However, my friend was doing it and saving a lot of money.  She was buying real items and real food that she was actually using and in all the times I’ve been to her house, I’ve never seen a cupboard stacked with jars upon jars of mustard.  The real inspiration came from the fact that I knew she prepares healthy meals for her family.  I realized that if she could do it without compromising, so could I.

The first week I tried it, I saved 40% on our groceries and with the gas rewards program that the grocery store has, I also saved us $1.20/gallon  in gas.  With an Expedition, that’s a good chunk of money!  I knew right away that I was addicted, and I threw myself into my new found hobby.  When I got home I analyzed my grocery bill and realized I had made some mistakes that had cost me.  Yes, I’m a total geek that way.

The first thing I needed to do was get organized.  Between all the coupons I had, the screaming baby, the annoyed little kids and a husband who was happy we were saving money but wasn’t enjoying the process…I was getting more confused than anything.  There was too much stress and the shopping trip took way to long.  Now I have my coupons organized in groups and I keep them in a binder.  Before I even leave for the store I create a spread sheet that shows what I’m buying, the amount, the cost, the savings from the coupon and the total number coupons I have per item. It makes things easier and now I have our shopping trips down to a science.  We are in, we get what we need and we are out.  We’re a well oiled machine.

The second thing I realized is I had to change the way I shopped.  Instead of buying what we need, I now buy what is on sale.  I still only buy things I know I will use, even if it’s way down the line, but now I’m not just shopping for the week.  When diced tomatoes are on sale, I buy a lot.  I also clip ALL the coupons I come across for items I know I will use, even if I don’t plan on using them now.   I do not clip coupons for items I would never use, because it’s not worth my time.  Money is money, even if it’s only cents.  I refuse to waste any money on things I won’t use.

Lastly, I only use coupons when I can combine them with a sale.  For example, this week I bought Bailey’s Irish Creme coffee creamers.  Not something I would normally buy but I thought they’d be nice for guests at Christmas.  Thinking ahead.  They are regularly $2.59 and I had a coupon for $1.00 off which is not a bad deal, but this week they were on sale for 2 for $3.00 which meant I bought them for .50 cents each – a much better savings.  So, if I don’t need something right away I just hold on to a good coupon and wait.  I’ve noticed that the items that have coupons to begin with usually come on sale eventually.   Also, I always check a sale product’s website to see if they have coupons there.  A lot of them do.

Once I figured out a lot of the “rules” for coupons, I found I could save even more.  This week I saved 57% on my groceries.  I don’t foresee any Extreme couponing in my future but I do see some Darn Good couponing going on.

Thanks to my new way of shopping I am fully loaded with pantry items.  Today I decided to cook a turkey I had bought for very cheap so we could make sandwiches, or add it to salads during the week.  As it was cooking it smelled so good, like thanksgiving, so instead I quickly threw together a full turkey meal.  There was homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies, mashed potatoes and biscuits.  We called up Nana J and invited her to our small feast.  I even made a pumpkin pie.  This was something I would never have been able to do before without planning and at least one trip to the grocery store.  What made it even better was I did it all for $18.57.

Last Camping Trip for the Season…

This is me in the hot tub reading my kindle.

I was going to say relaxing in the hot tub but that would be redundant. It was wonderful and I plan to do it again tomorrow on my birthday.

This is our last camping trip this year and even though we are doing it on my birthday there is a necessary reason why we are taking it. We need to close up the trailer and we need to be hooked up to a sewer line to do it. As it turns out the only Campground open this time of year is Normandy Farms. Since we would have to stay two nights on the weekends, their rules not ours, a week night fit our budget better. So it all worked out wonderfully.

The kids loved swimming and once again, we had the whole pool to ourselves. My children are going to start thinking we are much more well off than we actually are. I hope they’ll have these memories forever! I always sleep so well in the trailer and I’m looking forward to a great night’s sleep.

Sent from my iPhone

 

Daddy Says… Rock the Vote

Today I did my civic duty and voted in the state election as well as the national Presidential election.  I’ve always felt it was important to take part in the process and vote in every election, and this one was no different.

Today however, I didn’t vote alone – the Little Professor & Mighty Princess came along.  When talking with them before we went, I found out that the Professor wanted Abraham Lincoln to be President and the Princess wanted George Washington.  I couldn’t argue with either choice, but I did have to explain that they simply weren’t an option this time…

They were pretty impressed that we vote at the same school where they play soccer.  After a minor setback at the sign in desk – I had neglected to complete my town census, so I was dropped from the rolls and had to be added back in – we picked up our ballot and found ourselves a booth.

I explained the process to the kids, and showed them the ballot while we filled out our choices.  I answered questions about the various candidates and gave some information about their positions and they impressed me by making a lot of the same choices I had.  Though, I think there were more questions about the uncontested positions, than the others.

“Why is there no-one else listed?” “What if we don’t like what that person does?”

I also explained the various ballot questions we were voting on and let them come to their own conclusions on each.  Again, they impressed me by reaching the same decisions I had. Overall, they were pretty impressed with the process and yet surprised at how quickly it was over. As we were leaving the Princess asked “so, did we win?”.

Wild About Mom…

Today while I was searching for a picture I came across all of the Milk Monkey’s baby pictures.

It made me miss the little baby days.

And the smell of baby…I love that smell.

I felt the longing for another baby sneak up inside me….

and then the Milk Monkey woke from his nap.

As cute and as wonderful as he is, and he really is adorable, he’s such a busy, busy little boy.

I started looking through some of his more recent pictures…

   

The toilet paper incident.

and…

The time he locked us out of the tv.

It brought me back to reality.  The baby days are over and that’s alright.

I’m enjoying our new stage in life.

I love hanging out with my children, goofing around with them and listening to all their wonderful creative thoughts and ideas.

I have funny and interesting kids.

My Monkey is just beginning to communicate with me and it’s amazing even if it’s not always what I want to hear!

Early Birthday Gift…

My family gave me my birthday gift early!

I was pretty confident I had dropped enough hints to everyone but still wasn’t sure they’d actually get it for me.   Well, it wasn’t so much hinting as as it was letting them all know exactly what I wanted.  I even showed my husband the various places he could buy it from.   I’ve dropped hints in the past for things and ended up getting completely different gifts, so I needed to make sure everyone was really aware of what I wanted for my birthday.

Desperate times calls for desperate measures, and I had gone long enough without a working sewing machine!

My family did not disappoint.

 The kids gathered around me as I opened the box.  I tried to act as surprised as I could but 2 of my 3 children had already broken their silence after the delivery man dropped the box off.  Since the Milk Monkey has a vocabulary list of about 10 words, and sewing or machine isn’t one of them, I’m sure you can guess which two can’t keep a secret.

I hadn’t even removed it from the box before the Professor said “Now that you have a new sewing machine, you can start working on a quilt for me.”   He asked if we could go to the fabric store and choose some fabric so I could get started.  That’s what I did Saturday, only I chose the fabric without him so it could be a surprise when I finally get it finished.

Unlike some people I know, I can keep a secret!

This is what I chose…

and this is my first block layout…

I hope he loves it as much as the Princess loves her quilt!

This is my machine when it’s lit up without the extended table attachment…

Isn’t it super cool?!

I really like my new sewing machine!   It makes sewing so easy and I was able to try free motion quilting on this machine and I absolutely love how fun it is.  With a name like Confidence Quilter, it makes me feel like I know what I’m doing.

I see much quilt making in my future!

The Tooth Fairy Returns…yet again!

The Little Professor is keeping the Tooth Fairy busy these days!

She even made a trip to the hotel last night…it’s amazing how she can find us no matter where we are.

I’m loving how cute my little guy is without all his teeth.  It’s very hard to concentrate when he’s talking to me because all I want to do is squeeze him and kiss him, especially with the little lisp he has with all the gaps.

The Little Professor is loving it because he’s filling up his piggy bank.

The Princess is beginning to catch on to the Tooth Fairy business and is vigorously wiggling her teeth to cash in herself.

I have to remind her that the teeth will fall out when they’re ready, we can’t force them.

Meanwhile her big brother has big plans for his new found wealth!

I’m secretly hoping the other top front tooth falls out soon because even though I don’t think he can actually get any cuter, I’m still going to love it!

Hurricanes and Dishwashers…

Hurricane Sandy is in the process of hurling herself towards us.  We spent the weekend preparing for the incoming storm by doing the usual things…stocking up on water and food, taking inventory of our candles and flashlights.  Daddy even made a little space in the basement just in case of a worst case scenario.  Even still, we’re not really worried.  I’ve lived here for 8 years now and at least once a year we prepare for a storm like this and as of yet, we’ve never really had an issue.  For that I’m very thankful.  I’d rather be prepared and have nothing happen than vice versa. Besides, putting away the summer furniture, empty planters and outside toys needs to be done anyway.

In between storm preparations and emergency broadcast calls, and well, other various weekend tasks, we have decided to get a dishwasher.  It’s been almost 5 years since we moved in to this house and we haven’t had a dishwasher during that time.  Yup, that’s right, we’ve been washing by hand the whole time.  My hands have paid the price too.  I have been dealing with excruciating eczema on my hands for the past two years.  They blister and itch so bad that I have to scratch them even though the blisters burst and my fingers bleed.  Then they dry out and crack and bleed some more.  Washing dishes makes them worse and with the winter coming up we just need to finally get a dishwasher.

You would think it would be easy to just choose a dishwasher but it’s not.  I went online and did all the research.  I only looked at ones that have excellent multiple ratings and narrowed it down.  Then compared the selected ones…etc.  Eventually I found the one I really liked but noticed it said not returnable, which was a little alarming because what if it doesn’t fit?  After an email and some IM chats with Home Depot it turns out it probably wouldn’t fit.  Most built in dishwashers measure 24 inches wide and at least 34 inches high.  Our spot is 23 and 7/8 inches wide and 33 and 7/8 inches high.  Actually, I kind of lied, we do have a dishwasher, it just doesn’t work but that means a dishwasher can actually fit the space.  So I had to start my search all over again, but it’s a bit confusing because they have various height measurements for the dishwashers…there’s the cutout height, the minimum height, the maximum height and the assembled height and of course, they’re all different.

Soooo….after a weekend of research, we’re back where we started.  No dishwasher!

We will have to talk to someone after the storm.  We might not have power anyway, so at least we’re really skilled at washing dishes by hand!

The Wedding…

This weekend we had the honour of attending my brother-in-law’s wedding.

It was beautiful!  I cried.

The bride was absolutely gorgeous and elegant.

The wedding had a strong Scottish theme to it, all the men in the wedding party wore kilts.

  

The wedding took place outside and the weather was perfect.  As the couple were saying their vows, sunbeams were bursting through the brightly coloured New England foliage shining down on them.  It couldn’t have been more perfect for two of the nicest people!

One of the very unique ceremonial things they did was presenting the Bride with a Sash of the Family Tartan.

The groom draped and pinned it on her.  It represents the bride being accepted and becoming part of the grooms family.

I really thought that was a nice touch!

Of course, like at every wedding there was a little complication before the ceremony started.  In this case it was a matter of an inappropriate statue right in the center of where the ceremony was to take place.  No one wanted the statue’s naughty bits hanging over the couple’s shoulders in all the pictures.

  

Thankfully, there were some very creative, kilted groomsmen to save the day and I have to say they did a marvelous job of covering things up.

The reception was also very beautiful and a lot of fun.  The food was great (I especially enjoyed the Mudslide cupcakes!), the location had character and company was awesome!  We had a wonderful time meeting people from the bride’s life.

  

We even sat with a couple who live in the little town where we stopped to have lunch on our way home from Disney!  That was really a coincidence.

There’s just something about weddings that creates an atmosphere of romance and the effect was not lost on Daddy and I.  It was a wonderful and much needed evening out together.  To top it all off, we were able to spend the night at the hotel while Nana J watched our little clan for us.  We were able to sleep a whole night without any nighttime or morning interruptions!  Anyone with kids understands the value of that!  It was a real treat, one that we realize is so necessary to do every once in a while.  We love our children and we love spending as much time as we possibly can with them but every once in a while we need a weekend just to ourselves.  It’s too easy to get caught up in our own daily lives and sometimes we need that little break to focus on us as a couple and not just us as parents.

 

This Weekend…

This past weekend started off pretty bad.

 I didn’t feel very well Saturday and spent most of the day in bed sleeping.

I ended up having to miss my Little Professors soccer game…not something I like to do.

Thankfully Daddy kept the kids occupied, in between taking apart the lawn mower, so that I could rest – he’s so good like that!

Yes, the lawn still hasn’t been cut…I’m pretty sure the neighbours will be showing up at our door with torches and pitch forks!

Maybe they can just torch the lawn and be done with it! 

Today I woke up feeling just as yucky as I had the day before but I had to tackle my weekend project.

Since getting back from Canada the laundry had piled up and was out of control, so between that and switching out the summer clothes with the winter ones, I spent another day in the house.

The closest I got to fresh air was having the windows open.

The breeze was beautiful and refreshing and I think it actually helped me feel better but not nearly as much as the mother-daughter mud masks courtesy of the Princess.

We sat together on my bed and smeared Chocolate Mud Masks on each other’s face.  She was actually quite good at it and only got it in my eyes once!

Even though the smell made me want to throw up and the mask made my already flushed face an irritated, bright red, it was wonderful spending time with my little girl.  She thought the idea of putting mud on our face to make it look good was just too funny and I could see a light bulb go off in her head…”If mud makes our skin better there should be mud BATHS!”

I told her there were…and that was the most delightful news she’d heard in a long time.  I promised my sweet girl that one day I will take her to a spa so she can have a mud bath and she giggled with excitement.

I love her so much!

A little later as Daddy and I were getting the Milk Monkey ready for bed, the three of us had a really good game of Pee-Ka-Boo.

  

It’s a game he’s really good at…he gets right into it with the expected hiding of the eyes and then the big “Boo”.

He’s just so stink’n cute I could eat him!

As for the Professor, he’s spent Saturday checking on me…buying me flowers and doing a lot of reading.

He’s been into a new book series called Andrew Lost.  He’s really enjoying them, so much so, he sat in the basket part of the buggy at the store the other day so he could continue to read while we shopped.  He even stays up late at night with a flashlight!

He totally takes after his Mummy!!

And now, while I write this, Daddy is doing the thing he’s been looking forward to most this weekend…

watching the season premier of the Walking Dead!

  I can hear the zombies all the way from downstairs!!

Yikes…too scary for me!!!

So that’s our weekend…

What did you do?