Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update on My Spending

Just as I suspected, I am not able to buy everything on sale or with coupons, BUT this challenge to myself has made me work a little harder at saving money. At first, I jumped in with both feet and made a big splash! I was scouring everywhere for deals and coupons but found it was taking me a lot of time. As I always try to find balance in all things (which is always a work in progress as I tend to be a little OC about things!), I took a deep breath, a step back and calmed myself. I want this to be a lasting endeavor not another flash in the pan thing for me. So, I spend only a certain amount of time a day (not much at all really!) looking for bargains and coupons. Then I make a list of what we need and the stores I plan to by the items at (the items I don't have coupons for or can't find on sale, I buy at the store where I know it will be least expensive). I then look for coupons and when I'm in the area of the store, I run in & buy what I have planned to buy there. Tip: I've found it handy to keep a collapsible cooler in the trunk of my car to hold cold food items while I run other errands if need be thus making the best use of my time & gas mileage.

Anyway... here is what I spent the second week on food and personal care items at grocery stores and drug stores: $121.12. And since I've gotten a bit behind (thanks for bearing with me *blush*) in my reporting, here is the grand total for weeks 3 and 4:

week 3- $91.65

week 4 -$70.98

Any tips you would like to share?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blissfully Busy

I'm still around but God and family are ALWAYS my priority and lately, my life has been blissfully full! And I'm enjoying it. The cooler temperatures in the air, apron making, being creative in the kitchen using what we have on hand to save money (we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year so it's imperative that I make room in our freezers and pantry!)

I do plan on gathering my money spending/saving adventures soon to share. Hopefully later today! (And YES I do consider it an adventure...I find myself being more creative with my cooking endeavors, which makes for some tasty meals and breaks up the "what should I cook?" boredom syndrome that I can oh-so-easily fall into.

Soooo...see ya soon!

But for now I will leave you with this...

A Few Things I've done This Week To Save $$$

1) We had some dinner rolls that I made that turned out not so tasty so, I made them into bread pudding. Oh yeah! That did the trick. And I didn't have to throw them out! Thing is, I didn't have raisins but I did have some prunes on hand. I chopped 'em up & used them instead~tasty! And of cours, I used the rolls in place of the bread...I think any bread item would work.

2) I spied out a box of frozen spinach and searched for spinach recipes online. I found one that sounded good and that I already had all the few ingredients that it called for on hand. Eureka! And it was good too. Hubby kept saying how good it was. A winner!

3) While watching a sales demo on natural skin care products that were pretty pricey and being tempted to BUY them, I stopped, took a deep breath and decided that I could probably make some sweet skin care products in my own kitchen. So I did. FOR PENNIES! I treated my face last night to a honey egg masque and this morning, I indulged in a vanilla brown sugar body scrub. Luscious. Want the recipes? Here they are...

Honey Egg Face Masque

1 egg yolk (dry/normal skin) or 1 egg white (oily skin)

1 Tbsp. honey

1 1/2 tsp. milk

mix thoroughly & apply to your face, neck & de'collete'. Let dry & rinse off with cool water OR use a warm damp wash cloth for a few minutes on your face before rinsing. Decadent!

Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Scrub

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. olive or coconut oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

rub all over your body while in the shower then rinse off. CAUTION! Be careful~this will make your shower or tub slippery!!!

Enjoy y'all!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Money Saving Strategies

Recently, I said I would share the things I do on a regular basis to save money. To some, these might be a little extreme. To others, not extreme enough. That's okay. I think we each need to find what works for our individual situations. For instance, my husband is on a high protein, low carb diet that his doctor told him about which includes some pricey protein "shots". (When I go to the Vitamin Shoppe to buy them, I ask for the website price because it's cheaper than the price in the store, but still costly.). He has lost almost 40 pounds and his blood pressure is no longer high, so it's worth it to us to accomodate the extra expense.

My daughter has stomach problems which have not been diagnosed yet (we are seeing a GI doc in a few weeks so hopefully, we will find out something), in the meantime, we have found that drinking lactose free milk, taking Lactaid before eating dairy, taking Align supplements an adding fiber seem to help. All of which add expense to our grocery budget.

We have pets. A cat and a dog. They can be costly as well.

AND then there are the unexpected expenses. Just this past week, I had to take dd to the doctor since she had been running a high fever. Another expense, unplanned. The juice, the soup, the crackers, Dayquil/Nyquil, prescriptions, a second doctor's office visit when the fever had not come down and more prescriptions. Totally unplanned. And many of those things were not stocked on our pantry shelves or medicine cabinet. In fact most of them weren't.

But such is life. And these will be the challenges I face during this challenge to myself. We all face them so, if you have any tips & tricks up your sleeve, please share!

Anyway, off the top of my head:

1) I scan the weekly ads to my nearby grocery stores, write down the best deals and plan our meals around them. I make a loose/flexible menu plan. I shop at more than one store as long as I'm a) in the area and b) I have the time (I don't go out of my way wasting time & gas).

2) I use coupons but I try not to pay for them. I don't normally buy a Sunday paper. I'm not a "coupon queen".

3) I use less shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, laundry detergent & fabric softener than "they" recommended. (But I probably use more dish soap than I ought to-I need to work on that.)

4) I do practice the proverbial washing of the ziploc bags. But not if they're greasy & gross. I just won't go there. They have to be fairly easy to swish in bleachy, soapy hot water or I toss'em. After all, time is money & I don't want to wast too much time on jobs that will only save me a couple of pennies. I want my "hourly wage" so to speak, to count for something!

5) I try to improvise when cooking. For instance, while making a cake one day, I didn't have the applesauce it called for but I did have a bit of apple butter but still, not enough!) and some fresh apples on hand. I ground enough of the apple in my blender with a bit of water & added it to the apple butter to equal the amount of applesauce called for in the recipe. It turned out great! I was able to use up the apple butter that might have otherwise gone bad and some of the apples no one was beating down the kitchen door to eat.

6) I try not to waste. Anything. If I can help it. Fruits threatening to go bad? I freeze 'em and use them for my fruit smoothies. And frozen bananas are great in banana bread & pancakes. Veggies on the verge? A spoonful of veggie leftover at dinner? I save 'em for soup (in the freezer as well). We invested in a Food Saver a couple of years back and I believe that thing has paid for itself many times over in preventing food waste! Meat bones (chicken, beef & the like make delicious, hearty stocks that can be used in many recipes) are saved in the freezer as well.

7) I've learned to listen to my inner mama that says "no" to most of the impulse purchases I'm tempted by. (most!)

8) I try to do any shopping that needs to be done without my daughter. That alone saves me not only money but stress. Speaking of my daughter, I have also told her what I'm doing and have asked for her cooperation in this endeavor before we step foot in any store together. This way, I hopefully, she will be more accepting of her mama saying "NO".

9) I try to use what I have on hand and make do with what I've got before running to the store to buy whatever it is I "think" I need.

10) I try to guard my eyes & ears against the constant onslaught of advertising by cutting down tv time, staying out of stores & malls as much as possible and being careful of the publications I browse. (Have you noticed you can barely walk three feet in WalMart without those nuisance tv thingys loudly blasting us with advertising?! And they aren't the only ones. We are constantly bombarded with sly, ingenious-dare I say subliminal?-advertising tactics these days everywhere we go.)

11) I'm not afraid to ask for discount or reduction in price. And more times than not, I get it. (If you notice a cheaper price elsewhere or on the company's website or if you want to buy something that has a minor defect...ask! The worst that can happen is that they say no...don't take it personally.)

12) This ties in with #11. Ask, ask, ask! Knowledge is power! (and can save you money!) For instance, (and I'm sure many of you know this...what can I say?) I just found out I can use more than one JoAnn's coupon per transaction as long as the numbers at the bottom of the coupons are all different. I just used 6 at one time the last time I was there! (This is embarrassing but in the past, I would have my daughter check out an item, I would check out an item and use the other coupons during other visits. Oh the time and trips I wasted! P.S.-my mom informs me that not all JoAnn's will let you do this so I would ask first to save any embarrassement or hassle at checkout.)

So there. Just a few.

What do YOU do to save money?

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Free SCOBY's & Update on my $ Saving Challenge

Recently, after a hiatus from making Kombucha due to being preoccupied with other life happenings, I went through the process of making my usual gallon batch. I set it on the shelf to ferment, came back a week or so later to check on it and...nothing.

I had left several scoby's tucked safely away in my fridge hibernating, or so I thought, for the day I would inevitably be ready to make a batch. Well, I don't know if I just left them in there too long or what but one day, I decided I would try buying a bottle of kombucha at the store and attempt to grow a scoby from it. After a couple of stores that I knew I had seen carry it with no luck in finding any, the helpful worker at the health food store told me that it had been pulled off the shelves for some reason. The FDA would be stepping in because of it. Oh, great. So, I went home and "
Swagbucked" the situation (Swagbucks is my friend...yeah buddy! Don't know about Swagbucks yet? Click on the button on the right under my etsy shop listings-it's FREE & painless to use & they have lotsa cool stuff you can earn!). Yep, for sure what he told me was true. I then began my search for another scoby. And I found one for free (but I did have to pay shipping & handling-totally understandable.) So in honor of that, and paying it forward, and the fact that I am beginning to now have a surplus of scoby's that I'm almost sure my hubby doesn't want taking over our home (again...don't ask!). I am offering a free scoby (with starter) to anyone willing to pay the s&h, which I am setting at $10 since I send via priority mail so it gets to you quickly and for the time, materials and gas associated with sending it off to it's new owner.

Do you, or someone you know, need a

Now if I could just find some free kefir starter!

Thanks for stopping by!

Now for the update on my first week of challenging myself to see if I could get by without paying full price on items we need/want:
I did extremely well but didn't wuite hit my target. I had a birthday that I needed to buy a card for and since it was last minute, I grabbed the card while I was at the grocery store...and paid full price. The only other item I had to buy that wasn't on sale and I didn't have a coupon for was cat food. And I did pay full price for a few tacos at Jack in the Box when my mom was visiting and she and my DD were having cravings for them (their favorite!). But all in all, I feel I did pretty well for my first week trying this experiment.
The highlights of my shopping week:
*I got several items free when I bought the Lean Cuisine meals I was going to buy anyway at HEB. They usually offer several deals like this each week. Some of the free items were: a bag of prewashed spinach, a pound of bananas, a theatre box of Butterfinger candy, and a six pack of bottled water.
*I had coupons for free eggs & a free Tony's frozen pizza at Kroger.
*I had a $3 off $10 worth of produce coupon which I was going to buy anyway and all of which was on sale!
*I got 10 pounds of shrimp for $20. We love shrimp!
Besides the coupons I have already mentioned, I had an additional coupon savings of
$6.99 for the week!
In total, I spent $91.24 for grocery and non grocery items this week. (Not including the Jack in the Box tacos!) I would like to lower that total and will work on doing so in the upcoming weeks. I'm not quite sure what a good average for three adults (I'm counting my fifteen year old as an adult here!) grocery bill should be but I will keep tweaking as time goes by.
Thanks for all the encouragement everyone!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Have You Heard About Swagbucks?!

I've been using Swagbucks for a bit now in place of Google and have so far earned a $10 Starbucks card (yum! Can you say Frappucino?)which I used to treat DD and myself to an after school treat! All for just using Swagbucks for my online searches! I've made it my home page so it's ultra convenient and best of all, it costs NOTHING to use! If you're interested, click on the button to the right here under my etsy shop listings to get started!


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