November 29, 2009

Why I Love Staples

Staples Rewards make it easy to save a lot of money.
  • First off, it's FREE to be a Staples Rewards member. You can even register online.
  • 10% cash back on ink and paper? LOVE.
  • $3 cash back per ink cartridge you bring in to be recycled--up to 10 per month!
  • AND NOW! Staples is offering you free batteries, and lots of them! See the deal HERE, but get your full amount spent on batteries back, 2 per week, until Christmas. That's 2 every week for 4 weeks, up to 8 free packs of batteries. Yes, you have to pay for them, but they will refund every bit of it.
  • They are also DOUBLING the rewards this month for ink and paper purchases and recycling the cartridges! $6 per cartridge and 20% cash back.

Cyber Monday Shopping

Go to your favorite sites on Monday to see what they have going on for their Cyber Monday deals. In case you aren't familiar with the term, Cyber Monday is the online version of Black Friday. It has just been within the last few years that stores have been trying to woo shoppers with special online deals in the first days after Black Friday in the stores. This is often a better way to shop because you don't have to get up early, wait in long lines, only to discover that there are so few items in the store that you missed what you were waiting for.

Amazon is really going after people's business, and they are once again trying to get in early on the online shopping deals by taking other retailers' Cyber Monday deals and offering them online for an hour or two at a time. It's going on right now! Go check out amazon's Cyber Monday deals for yourself. Some of these items are gone before they've been up for a few seconds, so you'll have to camp out to get some of the best deals.

Some of my favorite deals today:
Back to the Future Trilogy for $10.49!

Some good toy deals:

Some home deals I like:

Check out the Movers and Shakers page to find the best deals! You can bet that if an item is deeply discounted, it has moved to the top of the list and won't last long, so jump quickly if you see something you like.

The Tricks to Online Bargain Shopping

Online shopping can often be a great time saver, or it allows you to shop at stores you don't have in your area. Some people run into problems with it also being a money saver, so I want to offer a few helpful hints.

  • Before you shop at an online retailer, do your homework. Most stores offer discount codes for free shipping or a percentage off. I NEVER go to any store without first looking for a discount code. You can look for codes by googling "store X coupon code" or you can have some websites in your shopping favorites list. I have a few favorites for finding discounts. My all-time favorite is Naughty Codes, but I've also found codes at Current Codes and Retailmenot.
  • Another way to save is to sign up for the store email newsletters. Stores will often mail out special deals to their customers, and if you have your heart set on a certain item, you can wait it out for a good sale or a 25% off members only deal.
  • Always use a shopping portal like Ebates or MyPoints! These two are my favorites, though you can also shop through FreeRide and InboxDollars for some stores. When you go through these sites, they pay you a certain percentage back, either in cash or points towards gift cards, and that 2-10% is extra money in your wallet.
The best thing to remember is that if you wait, there will always be a sale or a discount. I plan ahead for major purchases, because I can't bear to pay full price for anything if I can help it. Obviously, if your refrigerator dies, shopping around isn't as possible, but if you know you will all need winter coats, waiting for Old Navy's 50% off outerwear sale (going on now!) is the way to go.

Couponing 101--Where to find the deals

This is part 3 in a series of coupon instruction posts. The first one can be found HERE, and the second one can be found HERE. I'd also love to answer any questions anyone has, so comment here if you need something answered.

As I stated before, there are some awesome bloggers out there doing the coupon and deals matchups. I don't have the time or the attention to detail to do all of the matching for everyone. There are also many stores where deals can be found, so I wouldn't have time to do them all.

You can do your own matching very easily, just look at the items that are listed on sale in your store flyers, then match them with coupons you already have. As you get more into couponing, you'll find that there are many items that always have coupons. You'll keep the ones you need, or if you aren't brand conscious, you can clip coupons for several different brands to keep on hand. Most stores have their weekly ads online, and I've found that it's easier to read the ads online for comparison shopping. Be sure to look for the store coupons while you're there.

If you prefer to let someone else do the legwork, there are great bloggers for every store. Some specialize in more than one. Here are my favorite people, but you can also do a google search for "Brand X store coupon matchups."

  • For Target deals, I like many, but this one seems to be the most comprehensive. Stretching a Buck. This link is for her Target deals page, but look around. There's lots of good information.
  • For Walgreen's deals, again, there are many. Common Sense with Money is my favorite here.
  • For Fareway and HyVee (local to Iowa), I love Learning the Frugal Life. You can click your store of choice in her side bar on the right.
  • For general deal information, and with the most awesome coupon spreadsheet, you can go to Deal Seeking Mom. You'll find lots of useful information here.

November 28, 2009

Back from a Fun Holiday Weekend

I am back, don't know if I was missed. I was out with no internet access or good shopping, so I had to admire all the Black Friday ads from afar. Be gearing up for Cyber Monday for online shopping coming up soon. I also have some more posts coming up soon with more good (I hope!) information on saving and earning money from home.

Traveling has taken its toll on my brain for today, but tomorrow should bring some decent posts.

November 24, 2009

Another Cheapout--Buy Costumes Now

I like to buy Halloween costumes when they get clearanced out. So often, they're so cheaply made you might get one use out of them. I hate to buy them at full price for one wearing. BUT--the thing about little kids and Halloween costumes is you can also stock a nice dress-up trunk for imaginative play. My kids can dress up like almost anything from their trunk. A nice dress-up trunk can also be a good gift for a child in your life.

Target right now has their Halloween costumes 75% off online, including a bunch for your pets, if that's your thing. Because who doesn't want a beagle maid?

What Would Roseanne Do?

Would she buy her series if every season was buy one get one free? I might...

Buy One Get One Free TV Find other titles here. AND, if you're a really avid reader, Amazon is going to have all the Smallville seasons on their lightning deals in about 11 minutes...You'll have to hurry, though.

Ham and Cheese Ziti, Cheaper and Healthier

I realized after I posted that recipe that it's not even remotely the way that I actually do it. I always adjust recipes to better fit our family's needs, and I had this one in my favorites just the way it was written. Here's how I make this:

Ham & Cheese Ziti
2 16 oz. packages ziti noodles (I use Barilla whole grain or plus)
1 cup butter/margarine (I used 1 stick of butter and about 1/3 cup of EVOO)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt (1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper)
8 cups milk (this is a great place to use fat free powdered milk)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 cups Colby cheese, shredded (Wow! that's a lot of cheese! I used 4 cups)
16oz cooked ham (deli style), cut into thin strips
Then I added a 16 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots

Boil the noodles as directed on package, though I do 1-2 minutes less because I will bake it later. While they are boiling, use a large pot to melt the butter and olive oil together. Add garlic, stir for about 1 minute. Add flour, salt, and pepper, whisk together till there are no lumps, then slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil while stirring, allow to boil for one minute, then add mustard, cheese and vegetables. This will make a nice thick cream sauce. Using a REALLY LARGE bowl, combine ham, pasta, and sauce. Pour into two 9x13 (8 servings each) or 4 8x8 inch casserole dishes. Cool in refrigerator, then transfer to freezer. When you are ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake at 350* for 30-45 minutes.

One Ham, Many Meals

With hams on sale for the holidays, it's a great time to buy and cook one. This method for using large cuts of meat for many meals can be done with any type of meat. It also is great for use with a pot roast or whole chicken or turkey.

I was able to purchase a 10 lb ham for around $18 at the store. First, I glazed it (use your choice of recipes) and cooked it low and slow (250* for around 2 hours, while covered.) We had slices of ham along with baked potatoes and corn that night. The next day, we still had a lot of ham slices left, so we had ham with some cooked carrots. With a lot of extra, I set about to preserve the leftovers for later use.

For my first recipe, I used the bone and the small pieces of meat that remained attached to make a ham and bean soup. Many different types of beans or recipes can be used. I have used a 10 bean soup mix and some spicy herbs for a savory stew. This time, since the glaze was sweet (honey and pineapple) I used a bag of pinto beans.

Ham and Bean Stew
First, rinse beans and take out any rocks or other debris. Then you put the beans in a large pot, cover with water (2 inches or more above the top of the beans), and allow them to soak overnight. They will use all the water, so you may want to check them before bed and add more water as necessary. If you have less time, you can boil the beans in the water, then let them soak for a couple of hours with the lid on.

Once the beans are soaked, dump into a colander and rinse thoroughly. You can put them back into the large pot or into a slow cooker. I like to use the slow cooker because it requires less supervision throughout the day. I put the ham bone, juice from cooking, and bits of ham in the pot, then either a whole onion chopped up or several of the small soup-type onions. I add several cloves of minced garlic and leave it all to cook for 8 hours or more.

The remaining meat will come off the bone while it cooks. When you are ready to serve, simply discard the bone. With a whole 1 pound bag of beans, this will make many more meals. I serve some, then freeze the rest in freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.

Ham Leftover Meals
Depending on how much other meat you have remaining from the original ham, several freeze-ahead meals can be made. Ham slices can also be ground for ham salad or cut into chunks for later use in recipes.

Ham is often thought to be used well with breakfast-type foods. I love to use it for quiche or breakfast casseroles, but here are two additional recipes that I enjoy.

Ham Stuffed Manicotti from Recipezaar

1 hour | 20 min prep

SERVES 8 (I would put this into two 8x8 containers because we only have 4)

  1. Cook manicotti as directed.
  2. Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside.
  3. Cook onion, garlic, and green bell pepper in olive oil until tender.
  4. Add ham and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
  6. Now melt 6 tablespoons of butter.
  7. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles.
  8. Add milk and pepper.
  9. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened.
  10. Stir in swiss and remaining parmesan cheese.
  11. Mix 1/4 of cheese sauce with ham mixture.
  12. Fill manicotti shells with ham mixture.
  13. Spread about 1/2 cup cheese sauce in greased 13x9" glass baking dish and arrange filled shells over sauce.
  14. If there is any leftover stuffing, just sprinkle it over the filled shells.
  15. Pour remaining cheese sauce over filled manicotti.
  16. At this point the casserole can be cooled in the refrigerator, then wrapped and frozen up to 3 months.
  17. To thaw and reheat:.
  18. Thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator, then uncover, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.
  19. If not freezing casserole, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly.

© 2009 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved.

Ham and Cheese Ziti

Ham & Cheese Ziti

2 16 oz. packages ziti noodles
1 cup butter/margarine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
8 cups milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 cups Colby cheese, shredded
16oz cooked ham (deli style), cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated

This recipe makes 2 13x9 casseroles. (Amy's addition: I would put this in three or four 8x8 oz. freezer containers.)

Cook and drain pasta according to instructions (you may need to do it in two batches if your larges pot isn't large enough.

In large saucepan or deep skillet, melt butter on low heat. Add garlic and saute for about 30-40 seconds, stirring the entire time. Next add flour and salt, using a whisk to ensure no lumps remain. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring the entire time, until there are no lumps and the mixture begins to bubble.

Slowly add milk, stirring the whole time, while you bring it to a boil. Once boiling, allow to continue to boil for 1 minute, then add mustard and Colby cheese. Continue stirring until cheese is melted. Add ham and pasta, stirring well. Pour into 2 13x9 casserole dishes. Cool and freeze.

On cooking day:
Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350F. Place casserole dish (uncovered) into oven and bake 30-45 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Serve.

So, there you go! One $18 ham. We ate ham two nights in a row, then I made the soup for three more meals, four servings of ziti, two bags of ham in the freezer, and I've got some easy stuff in the freezer for the days that I don't want to cook. That's 11 meals with one large ham.

Stockpiling and Preserving Foods

Stockpiling is a concept not many people get quite right. Often, people will buy something up just because it's on sale, and then it goes bad or unused. When done right, however, stockpiling can save your family a lot of money AND help you get through a lean time.

Think about your grocery list. What's always on it? Some people use a lot of cooking soups like Cream of Chicken or Mushroom. These cans cost more than $1 each, which is still economical for a quick casserole. However, if you had taken advantage of the Campbell's soup deal that I posted last week, you could have gotten 4 cans for that $1. Canned goods last for a year or more, so they would most likely get used before the expiration. Once you have that stockpile, you can replenish when the sales come and make sure that you never run out.

Some items work better for stockpiling than others. You'll have to be sure to check expiration dates and rotate items through, using the ones that expire first and replacing your stockpile with the new items. Obviously, canned items are preserved well and will last several months or even years in your pantry.

Everything can be stockpiled, however. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be canned or frozen or cooked into recipes. Even dairy products can be frozen to be used later.

The USDA has recommendations on freezing meats and eggs. You can click HERE to read the pdf file that they created on the topic.

This page contains many links on preserving specific food items.

I will do an overview of information I've gleaned through my reading on the topic:
  • Fruits do not generally freeze well to be eaten later unless they are in a syrup or some sort of juice. It's not recommended to freeze fruits to be eaten later unless you are cooking them in a recipe. The texture will be mushy when they thaw. Grapes are good to eat frozen, and brown bananas can be frozen for later use in smoothies or breads.
  • Vegetables should be blanched by dunking in boiling water for a period of 1-4 minutes, depending on the vegetable you are using. You can then spread them on a cookie sheet and freeze in a single layer. Once they are frozen, package them in freezer bags, and the pieces will be separated like frozen vegetables that you buy in the store.
  • Some dairy products that freeze well include butter (in the package is fine) and cheese (though due to the texture once it's thawed I usually only freeze shredded cheese for later use in recipes). Milk can be frozen in the plastic milk jug, though you should first pour out 1 cup to make room for expansion.
  • Eggs can be frozen, but not in the shell. You can break the egg, then drop raw eggs into a bag (break yolk first) for later use.
  • Meats should be wrapped well to avoid freezer burn.
  • Precooked or even uncooked prepared meals freeze well, again as long as they are wrapped securely or in a freezable container. If you are pre-cooking the meal, don't cook it quite as long as you would normally. Since it will be reheated in the oven, it will finish cooking then.
Here is a great chart I found that lists freezing times of common items. The link to the chart is HERE if you would like it for printing to use later.

Table 3. Storage Times for Home-Frozen Foods
Products Storage Period
Bacon 1 month
Butter or Margarine 9 months
Cheese, Dry-cured Cottage Cheese or Ricotta 2 weeks
Cheese, Natural process 3 months
Cream (all kinds) 2 months
Cream, Whipped 1 month
Egg Whites or Yolks 12 months
Frankfurters 2 months
Fish, "Fatty" 3 months
Fish, "Lean" 6 months
Fish, Shellfish 3 months
Fruits (except Citrus) 8-12 months
Fruits, Citrus Fruits & Juices 4-6 months
Ham 2 months
Ice Cream or Sherbet 1 month
Meat, Ground or Stew 3 months
Meat, Cooked or Leftover 2-3 months
Milk, Fresh Fluid 1-3 months
Poultry, Cooked with gravy 6 months
Poultry, Cooked without gravy 1 month
Poultry, Duck or Goose 6 months
Poultry, Uncooked (whole) Chicken or Turkey 1 year
Poultry, Uncooked Chicken parts 9 months
Poultry, Uncooked Turkey parts 6 months
Roasts, Fresh Beef or Lamb 12 months
Roasts, Fresh Pork or Veal 8 months
Steak or Chops, Fresh Beef 12 months
Steak or Chops, Fresh Lamb or Veal 9 months
Steak or Chops, Fresh Pork 4 months
Variety Meats, Fresh 4 months
Vegetables 8-12 months
Yogurt (regular), Plain 1 month
Yogurt (regular), Flavored 5 months

I will continue this series with non food items in a later post.

November 23, 2009

What Do You Want to See?

I am putting out my "teaching" posts a few at a time, while still posting some deals. I have several topics I will soon post, and am wondering what kinds of deals people would like to see, or what types of saving posts people would like me to post.

Upcoming ideas:
  • Legitimate ways to earn money from home, including surveys, GPTs, and Mystery Shopping.
  • Stockpiling without being featured on "Hoarders." :)
  • Once a month cooking.
I'm also up for suggestions, so let me know what you want first.

November 22, 2009

Making Money at Home-Surveys

There are so many sites out there that it's hard to know what's legitimate. I can say after looking around that there is no magic site that will allow you to make thousands of dollars a day with no work. I have found a few good sites that will pay you a small amount of money for doing a small amount of work. I will only list sites that I have used and where I have received a payment.

There are different ways to earn money from home. You can do surveys, mystery shopping, and GPTs (or Get paid to...). This is not a complete list, rather the ones that I have personal experience with.

I will focus just on surveys for this post, then follow up with more posts on other types of money-making opportunities.

Survey Companies
Starting with surveys. I have several survey companies that I work with, and will often get 5-10 surveys per day. The value of the pay varies based on the company, but most offer anywhere from 50 cents-$5 per survey. Obviously, you are not going to get rich doing these, but they also don't take long.

One additional benefit of the survey companies is that they will send out items for your family to test out, usually items that you would use every day. I've done product studies on diapers (a whole month's worth of different types of diapers to compare and answer questions about), toilet paper, feminine protection products, food, drinks, shampoo and conditioner, body washes, you name it, we've tried it.

I've also gotten referred from the survey company to do other types of research, and those are sometimes very lucrative. I did a survey that lasted for about 9 months and required a couple of minutes a month to keep it current, and ended up making $300. Another recent one paid me $10 to play a game with my family.

Next I'll review a few of the companies I work with.

Everyone loves Pinecone Research. They pay for every survey right when you complete it, right to your Paypal account. Most of the time, it is $3 per survey. The only problem? They have plenty of people doing surveys, so only occasionally look for new people to participate. You may run across a banner ad, and occasionally they will send out emails to their current participants asking them to refer.

One of my favorites, just for coolness of survey topics, is HCDSurveys. They send out a lot of political polls and also interesting ones about current news, movies, and TV. They usually pay 50 cents-$3 per survey, and you get paid by check once you reach $10 earned. Click HERE to sign up.

Another great survey company is MySurvey. They send several surveys, and pay with a check in increments of $5. Just as an example of my earnings, 1000 pts would be a $10 check, and I earned 270 for the month of October. Earnings vary from month to month, and it also depends if your family fits the profile they are looking for on each survey. Click below to join.

I started with Ipsos I-Say a long time ago, and did their surveys only sporadically because they were fun but only paid in chances to win prizes. I did win a couple of times, but the prizes weren't necessarily things I wanted/needed. I'm glad I stayed with them, because one day I found that they are now paying cash. They still have chances to win prizes, and the prizes are huge, but I no longer win. I do get a check every once in a while, so that's ok.

Sunday Deals

  • FREE BOOKS! Richard Paul Evans is offering a free box of 20 copies of "The Christmas Box." You pay $15 for shipping, so under $1 per book.
  • Free pound of Shrimp from Earth Fare. We don't have one, bummer.
  • Free Kids Hemophilia Calendar with kids' art.
  • Free sample of Kotex.
  • Free bumper sticker from PETA.
  • Free booklet about nutrition for children.
  • Free sample Millstone Coffee.
  • Free meal planning guide and coupons (east coast only.)
  • Free Kashi granola bar.
  • Free earrings (don't submit till 11/24, and the code for the top line is EARRINGS). You also have to be female. :)
  • Free DD coffee at the mall, November 27 and 28, if you have a Dunkin Donuts in your mall, of course. We don't.

  • 50% off photobooks at Snapfish. Use code HOLIDAYBOOKS.
  • 50% off and free shipping with code 2day at Fujifilm.
  • 25% off at One Step Ahead, free shipping if you spend over $85 with FREE85.
  • 30% off and Free Shipping from Shutterfly (photo gifts) SHIP30 through 11/24.
  • $3 shipping on any size order and buy 3 get 3 free from Bath and Body Works (today only) 3DOLLARSHIP. You can use only one code, but if you go in store, you can use two printable coupons to save $10 off $30 and get a free sample sized product.
  • Target has some great savings in their weekly ad on toys, many of which have coupons to go with them. (will do another post later with all the deals, but look for yourself and match with the Target toy coupons.)
  • Last day for 30% off and free shipping at Ann Taylor LOFT with code FRIEND.
  • GR8VALUE get you $10 off $10 at JCPenney. They have some really good markdowns on sweaters and outerwear right now.
  • $15 for all Nine West shoes and accessories. Free shipping with code GIFT or automatically with $100 in purchases.
  • 70% off (you read that right!) all New Balance shoes with code GIVE. Womens shoes, Mens shoes, Kids shoes. It looks like the 70% is automatic at these links already.
  • 6pm also has PS2 and PS3 games for $10.95 and $19.95.
That should be enough deals for now. I'll be back with the Target toys matchup.

November 20, 2009

Always Popular Seafood Dip

This dip is so popular among our friends, and it's so easy to make. I thought I should share the recipe.

1 pkg cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat or neufchatl), softened
1 Tablespoon milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chives or a sliced green onion

Mix these ingredients together. Add more milk if you want it to be a little thinner. Spread on a plate or in a shallow dish.

1 jar shrimp sauce
1 can tiny shrimp, drained
1 can crab meat, drained

Pour sauce over cream cheese mixture, then add crab and shrimp. Cover and chill to eat later.

Anatomy of a Grocery Trip

This is a sample of my grocery trip from this morning.

1 dozen large eggs-regularly $1.29, on sale for .99
Hefty Easy Grip cups, needed for rebate-regularly $2.39, on sale for $1.50
  • $2.00 off Hefty product WYB 2 Toasteds crackers.
Brownberry Bread-regularly $3.49, on sale for 1.98 (what? need to go back and get more)
Kraft Cheese, 10 various 8 oz packages-regularly $2.49 each, on sale 3/$5
  • $5.00 off, used 5 $1/2 coupons
2 Old Wisconsin Turkey meat sticks-regularly $12.99, on sale 9.99
2 Jell-O Pudding-regularly .89, on sale 2/$1
Honey Graham Crackers-regularly $3.29, on sale 2.47
2 Pilsbury Sugar Cookies-regularly (I don't know, don't buy), on sale 2/$5
  • $1.50 off 2 coupon
2 Keebler Club Sticks-regularly $2.99, on sale 1.97
  • $1 off 2 coupon
2 cream cheese-regularly (not sure) 1.19 each
1 garden veggie FF cream cheese-1.89
  • $1 off 3 coupon
Geisha Crab Meat $2.19
Geisha Shrimp $2.19 (these weren't on sale, but I needed for a party dip)
Shrimp sauce $1.19
2 Mission Multigrain tortillas $2.79 (not on sale, but the only kind we use)
2 Toasteds-regularly $2.99, 1.79 each
2 Popcorn seasonings, needed for rebate-2.59 each
2 chicken broth-regularly $1.09, .59 each
8 Del Monte (various, in fruit juice) regularly $1.39 each, 1.18 each
  • $1 off 8 Del Monte coupon
Applesauce-not on sale $2.29 each
2 prunes (kids love them)-$1.99 each
  • $1 off 2 Sunsweet coupon
Hilshire Farms Turkey-$3.29
  • .35 off 1 coupon
  • $1.00 off lunchmeat WYB 2 Toasted crackers
Clementines-regularly $7.99, on sale 5.99
Milk, gallon-$2.59
Whole spiral ham $1.88/lb (don't know regular price, but this is low) $17.90 (2,99/lb @Hyvee, so $28.46)

Total before sales and coupons=$153.61
Total before coupons=$121.58
Total after coupons=$107.53

30% savings, also $10 worth of rebates from the cups and popcorn.

A lot of these products are not ones we normally buy, but we are making snacks for a party this weekend and taking items for Thanksgiving dinner. The cheese, being on sale and with the coupons about to expire, can be frozen and saved for later. The canned fruit is another item that I am stockpiling for later.

I know that a lot of people use store brands, and I am willing to do that for many products. Fastco makes good cheese, but if I can get Kraft cheaper, I will. There are some products that I spend more money for because they are a healthier option. The Del Monte fruit is a good example, as many canned fruits are in heavy syrup (or light syrup with artificial sweeteners). This brand is packaged in 100% fruit juice, so is a better choice for us. I also have a limited choice of breads, because I don't buy bread made with HFCS, and I prefer multi-grain.

Good Morning, Freebies!

Free calendar from Oriental Trading Company.

Free Child Safety Kit.

Free Golf Tee sample.

Free Crown Royal labels (must be 21 to enter site). They'll let you customize a label, you can order up to 5 for free.

Free Thanksgiving Travel Activity Book download for kids.

Free bookmarks with Historical Figures. (there were at least 15 different ones, and some books to teach about money, all free)

Free sample of Seattle's Best Coffee.


November 19, 2009

New Printable Coupons

These just came into my inbox from Home Solutions News. This is another good reason to sign up for newsletters from your favorite products. Highlights (for me) include:
  • Electrasol Tabs (OK, they call it Finish now) $1 off and 50 cents off coupons
  • Jet Dry
  • Airwick products
  • $1.50 Woolite and Spray & Wash coupons
  • French's Fried Onions coupons (you have to make the green bean casserole.)
There are several tabs of coupons, so be sure to click through them all. If you register with them, they often send out booklets of some of these same coupons through the mail.

Another great site to get a coupon booklet sent is Home Made Simple. They have all Proctor and Gamble products, like my favorite, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Check out some new printable coupons from Kellogg's.

Also All You magazine has some really high point exclusive printable coupons up. Print fast, these often have limits.

Toys R Us Deal of the Day DS Package!

I know a lot of people planning to get a Nintendo DS for children this year. The Deal of the Day for Friday at Toys R Us looks like a great package. Remember, sign up to get on the Toys R Us emails so that you can be alerted to the deals. I don't know how long the deals of the day will go on with them, and I only post the really interesting (to me) ones. This is in store only, and I think you have to print the coupon.

Nintendo DS Package Deal of the Day

Mexican Lasagna

One of the next areas I want to cover is the concept of once a month cooking or make-ahead convenience foods. Whenever I get a good deal on ground beef or boneless skinless chicken breasts, I buy a lot, and I often prepare 10 lbs at a time of both.

For the quick recipe I made tonight, I used a portion of pre-made (by me) Mexican seasoned meat. I don't often use a lot of canned items, but I wanted something quick and easy tonight. My Grandma calls this "dump and pour" cooking.

Mexican Lasagna

1 lb taco meat
1 can fat free refried beans
1 can low sodium corn
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
1 large can (it's larger than 15 oz, maybe 24) of enchilada sauce
1/2-1 cup sour cream or ranch dressing (i know! i used ranch dressing in a pinch once, and it cuts the heat and makes it creamy)

Lasagna noodles OR corn or flour tortillas
2 cups colby jack cheese

First grease the pan using your method of choice, then put just enough of the enchilada sauce in the bottom to barely cover it. Then mix together all the rest of the first set of ingredients to make the sauce. Layer noodles or tortillas (I've done it with all three with good results, I never cook the lasagna before I start). Then add meat mixture, 1 cup of cheese, then another noodle layer, then meat, noodles, meat, noodles, with cheese on the top. Bake covered at 350* for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes, then let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I also make lasagna in two 8x8 pans and freeze one either before or after cooking. The leftovers rarely get eaten, but the extra pan will make a great meal for the next time. Often when I make lasagna, I will double the recipe and make 4 8x8 pans. Voila! The same amount of work gets us one meal to eat now, three for later.

Best Bargains from my Inbox

Brylane Home $15 off $75, with a lot of items marked way down. Use code BHDECOR.

We love Lemony Snicket at our house. Have you read A Series of Unfortunate Events? Though it's a children's book series, adults enjoy them as well. I just got an email that you can read them for free at this link.

$15-$50 off at One Step Ahead. (baby and child products.) The coupon codes are listed right on the main page.

$1 shipping on orders over $30 at Bath and Body Works with code SHIP1.

30% off your entire purchase at Ann Taylor Loft with code FRIEND.

Coupons from Nestle!

25% off at Gap and Baby Gap with code GAPSALE25.

Amy's Favorite Deals 11/19/09

Time for a few shorter posts, just the deals I've found for today. You'll want to check back often. Deals like these expire and prices on Amazon fluctuate greatly even throughout the course of the day.

Amazon has the Twilight Board Game for 50% off today. That price ($10.47) won't last long.

Wii deal! Get a Wii, Wii Fit Plus with balance board, and a $50 Amazon gift card for $289.98. While the price is about the same as other stores, the gift card can be used for other things. This deal will last through November 22 or until they sell out.

FREE codes for Huggies! Do you collect Huggies points from their diapers and wipes? Add 27 points to your total.

1 Point Codes

2 Points Code

5 Points Codes

These codes also enter you to win prizes. Find out more on the Huggies website.


Couponing 101--Where to use them

This is part two of my couponing instructions. Part one can be found here. In part one, we discussed the different places to find the coupons you can use. In part two, we will discuss where to use your coupons.

There are many good blogs and websites that discuss couponing at specific stores. Some are linked on the right sidebar under blo
gs I love, and others can be found by a good google search for "coupon matchups." I do not intend to do much matching of coupons on my blog, but will point to others who do it well.

Again, I am in the midwest, so I am going to focus on the stores in our area. With careful shopping and observation, I've discovered that out of the stores in our area, Fareway by far offers the best prices as a whole. Other stores in the area will offer what is often termed as "loss leaders"--items where they mark it down to well below retail in order to get a shopper in the door to buy other marked up items. Some people go around and shop at every store, buying only their loss leaders, but I feel that going to many stores to get a bargain is
counterproductive. I may save some money on groceries, but I am losing money in gas by driving around to many stores, and my time is also worth a lot to me.

Some people do not know this, but Fareway will price match any local grocery ads. You can take the ad in to show them, but I've found in the past that they almost always do it automatically. I'll see a really great deal in the Hy-Vee ad, then find that Fareway has the item priced the same or sometimes cheaper in their store.

Ask at your local store, but Fareway does take printable coupons; in fact, they link to smartsource on their own webpage. Hy-Vee and Target have their own printable grocery coupons, so this can add some depth to your planning. In cases where Target or Hy-Vee have coupons that match up with their sales AND with the manufacturer's coupons, you are often getting items close to free. Coupon stacking is allowed in both of these stores; this is simply using the
manufacturer's coupon and the store coupon together.

As an example:

Right now, Target has a great ad with grocery deals on items for Thanksgiving cooking. In the ad, they list Del Monte canned vegetables for 45 cents (very good price!), Campbell's cooking soups for 49 cents, Pepperidge Farm stuffing for$2.50, and French's fried onions for $2.75. Target also has printables for these items that will stack with the manufacturer's coupons.

Del Monte Vegetables:

  • Print out Target coupons for $1 off 6 cans.
  • Use coupons from the Sunday circular for $1 off 8 cans.
  • Buy 8 cans x 45 cents = $3.60 - $1 (TP) - $1 (SC) = $1.60 for 8 cans or 20 cents per can. That is a savings of over 50% from the sale price, which was itself a steal.
Campbell's Cooking Soups:
  • No Target coupon to match, but this price is very good.
  • Use printable coupon (find at Campbell's Kitchen) for $1 off 4 cans.
  • Buy 4 (or other multiples of 4) cans = $1.96 - $1 printable = 96 cents for 4 cans or 24 cents per can. Again, this is a savings of over 50% from the awesome sale price.

The first example showed how coupon stacking can work for you. My next example will show how often times being able to stack doesn't work to your advantage. We use Folger's coffee in our house for the most part, though I have a few brands I will substitute if the price is low enough. Target has a printable coupon for 75 cents off Folgers, which you could stack with the manufacturer's coupon. Target has the Folger's on sale for $7.14, which is a sale price over what is commonly around $8.

Folger's Coffee (Target):
  • Use $1 coupon from the Sunday circular.
  • Use 75 cent coupon from Target
  • $7.14 - $1 (SC) - 75 cent (TP) = $5.39 which is a great deal until you see that Fareway has Folger's for $5.99 right now.
Folger's Coffee (Fareway):
  • Use $1 coupon from the Sunday circular
  • $5.99 - $1 (SC) = $4.99 for 1 can of Folger's, a savings of around $3 per can, 40 cents from what Target's deal would be even with the stackable coupons.
While this does take some planning, if you limit the number of stores on your list, you can do very well. I use Fareway and Target, some people might choose a Hy-Vee closer or more convenient for them. Some other people might do all their grocery shopping at another big superstore I won't mention.

The main key is to look in the ads for items you regularly buy, and buy ahead when you can. In the Folger's scenario, I could notice I'm running low on coffee, add it to my list, and pay around $8 for a canister. Instead, before my coffee runs low I would notice the sale price and buy a few canisters for a savings of $3 each. When I run out of coffee, I go to my storage shelf and grab one off the shelf.

Some of these sales are predictable, so you start to know how many you should buy. I'm not advocating 10 or 12, but keeping 2 or 3 extras on hand can save you a lot of money.
This is the kind of thing that is described in the Grocery Game, the concept of buying on sale, adding in coupons to make the price even better, and stocking up. You have to pay to have them plan it for you. In some cases, it might be worth having them tell you what to buy and when, but for me, it's hard to justify spending that money to save some money. In the next post, I will explain stockpiling a little more, but I think this is good information on how to begin with coupons.

Terms used: TP (Target Printable), SC (Sunday circular), PC (Printable coupon)

November 18, 2009

Free Fun for Kids!

We have enjoyed doing Lowe's Build and Grow workshops. They usually have two workshops a month on a Saturday morning. They give the kids an apron and safety goggles, a sew-on patch for each project they complete, and better yet--it's free!

Home Depot also has similar workshops. Too bad we don't have one close enough to make it worth it. They've got the cutest projects coming up, including a little wagon.

I also wanted to make everyone aware that Family Video offers free kids movie rentals on all but their new releases.

I've found a great site to look for free Redbox Rental codes. Redbox is located in many grocery stores and McDonald's, usually with $1 per night rentals. It's cheap enough already, but every little bit helps.

November 17, 2009

Freebies for you!

I love getting freebies in the mail. I used to sign up for everything that came around, just to test things out. Now I'm a little more selective, but I still get a little thrilled when my mailbox has something good in it. Let's round up a few free items for your mailbox, eh??

This should probably be a coupon. It's a buy one get one free Tea drink from Target. I guess that qualifies it as FREE STEAZ.

Always my favorite freebie, and they offer it often. Free Dunkin Donuts!

Have some free Stacy's Pita Chips with your coffee and tea!

Free women's calendar. Look around on this site. They tend to have a lot of free educational materials.

Aveda has been giving some pretty cool free samples. This time it's Rosemary Mint hand and body wash. Print the coupon and take it into your nearest store.

Really? Free Beastie Boys album?

You'd better have a free No Fear sticker to go with it. Turn down the sound first, then click the Freebies link on their page.

Free potty training DVD from Huggies.

Looking for some good Thanksgiving Recipes? Download Paula Deen's Holiday Hosting Guide here for free.

When you're done there, you can get Martha Stewart's version here. (scroll down a little till you see free download.)

These people make you work even harder than Aveda. You'll have to print it, take it to a store, get it signed, then mail it in, but you can get free drumsticks and book.


It's not free, but it's a $5 subscription to Family Fun magazine...note that when you click on the page, there's a $5 off coupon for this one, so it becomes $4.95 for one year! You can use this to extend your current subscription or also to send as a gift to someone.

For more cheap magazines, look here. Be sure to check into them, because every one listed has $2-$5 off the listed price. You can get Redbook for 2 years for $5!

Where to Look For Toy Deals

There are some great deals for toys and games around this time of year, so you have to really look around.

Hasbro has some awesome coupons to be used for some of their items. You can find them in the list.

Target also has their own coupons on many of these same items. Remember the discussion of stackable coupons? Target is a company that will allow you to use the manufacturer's coupons WITH the Target store coupons. In this way, some items are $10 or more off, some even end up being close to free.

Toys R Us has their daily deals I mentioned in an earlier post. You have to sign up for their emails or rely on someone to post them for you every day.

Amazon has amazing deals at this time of year. One of the best ways to catch the good deals before they're bought out is to check the Movers and Shakers list often. This is the list for toys, but you can find a list for any area of their site.

Ebay is also a good choice this time of year, but be sure to look other places to make sure you aren't getting prices that are overly inflated.

Taste of Home Cookbooks for $5!

Here's another great gift idea. Taste of Home is offering some of their favorite cookbooks for $5 each. With original prices of $20 or over, this is a good deal. Their recipes are good, easy to make comfort food. The link for the $5 cookbooks is posted, and you will also need to use the coupon code T2878 when you check out. This deal is good through November 20, but the books sell out quickly whenever they offer this price.

Don't Pay for It Photo Printing and Gifts

With so many photo printing companies offering free items all the time, it could be a while before you exhaust them all. There are several good deals right now, so I thought I should get them all in one place.

First, for all time best deals all the time, is Artscow. Yes, it's a silly name. They are based in China, so the shipping time is often slightly longer as well. The great thing about them is once you get in, they send coupons for free items all the time. When you first start, you will get
1200 free prints credits & 3 8"x8" photo books & other great photo gifts credits. The print credits are 50 free a month and are disbursed out over time, but it's still a great deal for you. I have created several of their photo books for vacations and gifts, and they are very good quality. I've also made custom canvases, magnets, mousepads, and many other items, and I always do them for free with a small shipping charge. Check it out.

There are many other great photo sites for processing your digital prints.
My Publisher is another very good one, and they are offering buy one get one free on their photo boooks right now. This expires soon, so get it quickly if you want to use it. The link for the information on the coupon code is in the link.

For today only
Snapfish is offering 100 free prints with ANY purchase of $5 or more. Use coupon code FREE5.

Also only for today, go to
KodakGallery and get a $15 store credit for ANY purchase. It's their gift! I've taken advantage of this one already. Just be sure that you use your correct email address when you sign up, because they send a unique code to your inbox.

Shutterfly is another good photo processing store. Right now, they are offering 50 free prints when you sign up, and there is a code for free shipping when you spend over $30 SHIP30. My point in posting this: I received all of these offers in my inbox this week. Maybe I don't need to do any photos this week, but every one of these companies sends out new offers often. Keep them in mind for when you need to make photo gifts of any kind, and save a lot of money when you do need them.

November 16, 2009

Toys R Us Deal of the Day

Hurry and get yourself signed up to get emails from Toys R Us. They are doing some amazing deals of the day in store, and they usually have the 12 Deals of Christmas starting up after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday's deal is an extra 25% off outside toys. The link to the coupon is here.

While you're at TRU, go and pick up some Mr. Potatohead parts for free! On the link on the right sidebar, locate the coupon for $5 off Spudbuds. You can print two of them, and use them on Glamour Spuds, Snowman, Policeman, and Fireman. These items (without the body, but I know we have plenty of those) are $4.99 each, making them FREE! The coupon is good for a while, and these aren't sale priced, so this deal can be done any time up till Christmas.

Campbell's Coupons

Here's a great example of the next lesson in Couponing 101! Too good not to post already, so here it is. Campbell's has released $15 in coupons on their website. You can click here to go to Campbell's Kitchen to print these coupons.

This is where it gets good. In Target's grocery ad this week, they have the Cream of...soups for 49 cents a can. The coupon from Campbell's is for $1.00 off 4 cans. This makes cans of cooking soups under 25 cents per can. You can only print 2 coupons (per computer) from Campbell's site, but that would still get you 8 cans of soup for less than $2.00.

Now we'll add in the coupon stacking. Campbell's has a coupon for their Pepperidge Farm stuffing $1 off two. Target has a coupon on their coupons site for 50 cents off one. You can stack the two coupons together to save $1 per bag. Target lets you print as many as you want, AND you can print their coupons from the bridal registry kiosk if you want to save some ink and paper.

Have fun, and play around with the coupon possibilities. I have more coupon tips coming up later, so keep reading.

Couponing 101--Where to find them

I use a LOT of coupons. Using coupons is a great way to save money on your groceries and everyday household needs. For many people, this is a matter of whether there is a meal on the table or not; for some, it's a way to save on some staples so that you can splurge more on extras, your non-negotiable name brands, or organic items.

First off, where do you find coupons?
  • The Sunday circulars have coupons to clip. In the central Iowa area, local Kum & Go stores offer a free paper with gas purchase. I always get my gas on Sunday for that reason.
  • My favorite, Mypoints will allow you to print out coupons from and smartsource both. Don't forget, they're also giving you points toward earning gift cards at the same time. These are the first coupons I always use, since they pay me to use them.
  • is a great site with everyday items. There are pages of coupons on their site, and they update often. I put a little widget on the side bar with a link to their site. You can use it to scroll through and find the ones that interest you, or just click to go straight there.
  • Smartsource is another great site for printable coupons.
  • Anyone who regularly clips the Sunday coupons has seen the Red Plum section. They also have an online source for printing here.
  • All You magazine, which usually has $80-$100 worth of coupons for health and beauty items. This magazine is only available in a store where I don't shop, or you can get it by subscription. Since I don't shop at that store, I do not want to give them even one mention in my blog. If you google, you can find which store. Looks like Amazon is offering a discount on subscriptions to All You right now.

  • If you have a product you love, go to their webpage and look for special offers or coupons. Get on their email or snail mail list. It's not spam if they mail you coupons every month. We really like Horizon organic dairy products, and they always have coupons available.
  • Also local to my area, Hy-Vee and Fareway both occasionally offer printable coupons on their websites. Target has their own printable coupons as well, and these store coupons can be "stacked" with the manufacturer's coupons for more savings. More on this in a later blog post.
Where's your favorite place to get coupons? I'd love to add more sites if people recommend them.

Take good care of your computer!

There are many antivirus programs offered for purchase. What many people don't know is that there are great programs that you can get and use for free! There are some scammers that claim they will check your computer out, but you download them and they tell you that you have to pay, or some are actually viruses or spyware themselves!

I know of two very good, legitimate free anti-virus programs. I personally use AVG, but I know many people who also love Avast.

AVG is only for use in personal computers. They have a paid version for businesses, and they also offer a more comprehensive version for a fee. The free version has been serving my computer needs for over 5 years. Get it here. The link can be a little confusing. You'll need to click about three times where it says to download the free version (basic). Set it up to scan your computer daily at a certain time, and you know it will be there for you.

Avast can be found at this link. Though I have not used it, our security-minded friend and many others feel this is one of the best.

You also need to keep your computer safe from spyware, and again there is a great free program out there to use. Spybot: Search and Destroy is an awesome program.

I don't get anything from any of these companies by recommending them. I don't work for them, but they work well for me. There are options on their sites for you to donate to them, and you may want to do that to keep getting their product for free.


Ebates is another great shopping portal, dedicated mostly to online shopping. When you go to Ebates, you will be able to look for online coupons to use in your shopping, and they also pay you cash back to shop through them. That's right! They send you a big fat check every three months.

As an example, for Victoria's Secret, they have a coupon for $15 off $100 that you can use. In addition to saving $15, Ebates pays you 4% cashback to shop through their site. If you bought $100 worth of items from Victoria's Secret, they would cost you $85 instead, and Ebates would add $3.40 to your big fat check. It's not a lot, but every little bit of savings helps.

Some people think that this is a pain, to remember to look at the different shopping portals, but for me the money I get in return makes it worth clicking one of the links I have bookmarked. I usually go to both Mypoints and Ebates to see which one will offer me the sweeter deal.

Again, I would love to answer any questions through the comments section, or comment me your email address if you'd like me to refer you to the site.


By far my favorite GPT (get paid to...) site, and probably the one to which I've earned the most is Mypoints. Mypoints gives you points for doing things you do every day--5 points per email, 50-200 points per survey, anywhere from 2-10 points per dollar spent through their online shopping portal. My favorite, though, is the coupons. They have links to coupons you can use online to save 10% or more, get free shipping, or other online shopping codes.

They also have my most used and most beneficial option: printing out grocery coupons to use at the store. The best part--the coupons through their site are often higher value than the Sunday paper coupons, and Mypoints pays you to use them! I get 25 points every month if I print and use 10 coupons from two different sites. I also get 10 points for every coupon I use in the store. These points add up fast.

Mypoints pays out their rewards in the form of gift cards from places I shop. Some are cheaper to get than others--the best value are from Borders, 1400 points for a $10 gift card. There are also cards for Starbucks, Burger King, Target, Kmart, and Amazon. I use my points to get Target cards because I can maximize the dollar value with my coupons and bargain shopping there. In just the past month, I've redeemed for $75 in Target gift cards.

I'd be glad to answer any questions about any site, just leave them in the comments. Mypoints also offers rewards for referrals, so please click through my link if you're interested in joining.

The Bargain Hunter's Mindset

Do you call yourself frugal, cheap, thrifty, savvy shopper, bargain hunter; or conversely are you a spendthrift trying to change your ways? Do you find yourself saying "in this economy" often? Are you affected by the recent economic downturn? Have you or a spouse been laid off, or have you chosen to cut a salary and stay home with children? Are you saving for a big purchase? A new car or home in your future? Mired in credit card debt, student loan debt, or being buried by the cost of gas and groceries?

Many people have many different reasons for wanting to try to save money on their day-to-day expenses. Whatever your reason is, I'd love to help you in your quest. Believe me, I've been there. My husband and I rapidly went from two incomes and a small house payment on an even smaller house, no children, very little debt, buying whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to one income, larger house AND still paying on the other home, and a small baby. The change in our lifestyle was dramatic.

I navigated the bargain waters, searching here and there for ways to cut our costs. Some things are obvious:
* Less eating out
* Cut down on luxury items

But it all just boils down to this: DON'T spend money on anything if you can help it. For every expense, ask yourself two questions: Do I NEED it? Can I afford it?

There are two main attitudes that a true bargain hunter has to adopt in order to embrace this new lifestyle. First, our country is full of conveniences. We are the generation of instant gratification. In order to truly live frugally, we have to get used to delayed gratification. Is this really a bad thing? Often, we find those
things we thought we wanted aren't really all that useful or necessary. How many kitchen gadgets lie collecting dust and taking up space in your drawers? How many movies sit in your entertainment center, their only purpose now being fine motor practice for your toddler and more clutter?

On the flip side of the coin, we need to do think ahead, plan ahead, and buy ahead. You heard me, we are going to be spending some money.

So many people live only in the now, and this attitude is what gets people into trouble. How often do you find yourself four days from payday with nothing to eat in the house, no gas in your car, and no money in your account? Do you use the credit card to pay for those things because it's an emergency, promise yourself you will make an extra payment to make up for the spending? Do you write a check, hoping it will stay out of the bank till the deposit makes it? How often does the bank "mess everything up" by putting checks through when there's not money to cover all of them, then charging a million fees, putting you further behind? How often do you go to a check cashing place to get a payday advance, often paying triple-digit interest? A lot of these can become an endless cycle. You spend so much extra in order to cover for your overspending--yes, that's what it is--that you keep getting further into the hole.

My intent is to show you how to save money on items you use every day, how to get many things for free, and how to keep your spending under control. Read along daily while I do my best to help with methods I use daily.


This is the first of many posts explaining different sites that pay you in money, gift cards, or free products. I want to explain up front that many of these places pay their members to refer people. I will use referral links if possible, but I do want people to know that I am profiting from the link you click. I will not ever post any place unless I have personally received payment to know that it is legitimate.

Inbox Dollars gives you $5 just to sign up (click that box above!) They send offers and surveys through emails. If you click on the link in the email, you will get a few cents. They offer differing dollar amounts depending on the offer, if you take it. Many people will do offers where you get a free trial, or you sign up for something and cancel before they start charging. I don't have the discipline to remember to cancel, so I avoid almost all of those. Surveys will give you from 50 cents to $1 for a few minutes of your time. I just submitted for a check for $35.70, which should arrive in time to help with Christmas shopping.

Good Mail

I know many people dread getting the mail, because it is full of bills and junk mail. I love it! I plan to add the contents of my mailbox often as an example of how I earn and save money for our household. Generally, I will just add my mail to new posts, but I am going to dedicate this whole post to the last few days of mail.

  • Free sample Oregon Chai PLUS $1.00 coupon.
  • $10 check from Synovate for doing surveys through email.
  • $25 Target Gift Card from My Points. Click link for my full explanation of this site and its benefits.
  • $7 Pantene coupons from Vocalpoint.
  • Free Red button from Inspi(red).
  • 3 Sesame Street Board books from redeeming my Pampers points from diapers and wipes. These will be great stocking stuffers.

It's mail like this that helps towards our bills, either by lowering the grocery bills or simply giving a check or gift card for a small amount of work. As the days go by, I will put a new post to explain each site and how you can make it work for you.


Welcome to my bargain blog.  The focus for this blog will be how I save and even earn money every day, with very simple explanations on how to do everything.

What are your arguments? It takes too much time to clip coupons? I always forget to take my coupons with me? The coupons are only for brands I don't use/convenience foods/items that aren't on sale? I'd love for everyone to see that with a little advanced planning, you can save 25-50% on all of your grocery and household bills.

The reason for doing this blog is that I am constantly explaining to different friends and family members how this process works. I keep saying that if I could just share my bookmarks with people, they could do it. Look at this as my own personal bookmarks file. I've done all the hard work and found the best of everything. I wouldn't share it unless it was working for me.


If you are here for the first time, this should be a good introduction to the way my blog works.  I tend to post as I think of things, and often it will appear a little scattered.  Some posts take longer to do, because they require a lot of research, links, photos, and I actually have to form coherent sentences (or try).  I have two young children, and I think anyone else with children can understand how difficult it can be to do that.

Also, bargains come and go quickly.  I post them when I find them, even if that's in the middle of what would be a series of posts.  Because of all of this, I use key words called tags at the bottom of each post that I do.  To make it even easier to navigate, I put a sort of pretty tag cloud on the right side.  In case you don't recognize it by the purple or blue underlined words, those will always be a link to whatever I am talking about. 

You saw a great recipe earlier, but can't remember what it was called?  Click on the easy recipes tag on the right side of my blog.  Remember to click "older posts" to see all the posts that go in that category.  

I have reviewed a lot of sites that allow people to earn some money on the net.  If you have a question about one in particular, you can search for the name, ask in comments, or click on the GPT (get paid to...) tag.  I never post about a company until I have received a payment from them.  I hate wasting my time with places that are scams or never pay out, so I want to protect others from doing the same. 

Maybe you came here to look for freebies.  No worries, I post a lot of those.  It makes the bills more bearable to be able to get a box of samples or a huge coupon book along with them.

I occasionally do a series of posts--for example, my early series on how to find and use coupons.  You could click on the coupons tag, or you could find the little search box and type coupons into that.  Either way, I try to make it more simple to find the thing you are looking for.

If there's something you'd like to know more about or you have a question about anything, I'll be glad to respond to any questions or comments in the comments section under any post.  You can log in with your google account, blogger account, or even post your comments anonymously if you wish.

I love comments and feedback.  It makes me feel like people appreciate the little bit of work I do to keep my blog going.  I can see LOTS of people reading my blog every day, but sometimes feel like I'm talking to myself.  I do have people who will share deals with me sometimes, and I love those.  I will be happy to pass along the great bargains if you find something I've missed.