January 31, 2011

Three Rivers Market Produce Specials, 1/31-2/6

trm Three Rivers Market Produce specials: Jan. 31 - Feb. 6

  • OG Cilantro, $1.29 ea. (reg. 1.69 ea. - save 40¢) Said to be the oldest herb used by man, it also goes by the name Coriander.  Fans of the herb, (you either love it, or not) find the pungent flavor intoxicating and consider it an essential part of many Asian and Mexican dishes.
  • OG Roma Tomatoes,  $2.19 lb. (reg. 2.69 lb. - save 50¢) The quintessential sauce tomato.  Also happily at home when roasted, on a pizza, in a marinade, or when you just have to have a dash of red on the plate.  Chock full of lycopene and fun to pronounce - especially when you roll the 'r'.
  • OG Blueberries (6 oz), $3.29 ea. (reg. $3.69 - save 40¢) One of our favorite fruits makes an early visit this year.  Get 'em now and remind your mouth what June tastes like.

Annie’s Root 4 Kids Gardening Kit, FREE with UPCs

I told you about this in January and wanted to send you a little reminder about this great promo!  A special thanks to Money Saving Maine-iac for reminding me about this!

On page 8 of our Feb/March 2011 Organic Gardening Magazine Annie's has announced this upcoming promotion:

Dig In.  Get kids excited about real food with a Root 4 Kids gardening kit.  Between 2/1//2011 and 4/30/2011, buy any two Annie's products and get a Root 4 Kids gardening kit for FREE.  Visit Annies.com for details.

*Root 4 Kids gardening kit includes gardening gloves and heirloom seeds.

Meal Planning, First week of the challenge

The meal plans for our family will look a little different for the month of February.  I’ll be taking some photos here and there and posting more regular information about the challenge.  I suspect that the meal plans will be a little more fluid this month, meaning that I might change the plans around based on how the week is going. 


Soaked Oatmeal and leftover oatmeal

Cereal with milk and fruit

Egg dishes with toast and jam

Muffins and fruit salad

On Wednesday, I’ll be enjoying a FREE chicken biscuit in honor of Groundhog Day at Chick-fil-a.

On Saturday, we’ll be eating breakfast at church and will have eggs, sausage, biscuits and fruit.


Leftovers whenever possible

Sandwiches (PBJ, Turkey, Ham or any leftover meats from the previous night’s supper)

Soup from the freezer or from a can (I have some Progresso soups that need to be eaten)

On Tuesday, we’ll eat a potluck lunch for one of the meetings at church.

Sides for lunches or snacks

Fruit—home canned peaches or pears, store bought canned mandarin oranges, dried apricots, or frozen berries that we picked last summer

Potato chips

Carrot sticks with a bit of hummus that we need to use

Whole wheat crackers



Shepherd’s Pie

Lamb roast with roasted veggies (I made this over the weekend)

BBQ Dove with creamed corn, instant potatoes, and peas

Tuna Noodle Casserole with fruit salad as a side/dessert

Soup and sandwiches

Or, if I get inspired, I’ll make Chicken Fried Rice, Chinese Soup, and Edamame in honor of the Chinese New Year.

We’ll eat leftovers one night, and if we still have extras, I will nix one of the meals and have leftovers another night.

Wednesday night I’ll be making supper for the children’s program at church.  I plan to make chicken, corn, fruit, and rice.

Tip of the day—Printing Coupons

It is the end of the month--time to print any coupons you don't want to miss. Many coupon sites refresh their coupons at the first of the month. While some might still be available, others will be gone.

My thoughts on printing coupons--

  • Whenever you print coupons, you are spending money on ink and paper so make them worth your while. I only print coupons when I know with a good amount of certainty that I'll actually use them.
  • I check any matchups or websites that post a preview of sales ads for grocery or drugstores. If I see a deal that is a freebie or cheapie where I can use one of the printable coupons, I'll print and save it.
  • If the coupon is an unusually high amount, I'll usually print. For example, the Voskos $1/1 coupons that were recently posted on Facebook were worth me printing because Voskos yogurts sometimes go on sale at Kroger for around that amount.
  • Remember that some coupon bloggers have printable coupons on their sites and earn a little money for each coupon that is printed. If you have one that you really like, give him or her a little thank you by printing from the blog. (I don't have this available on mine, so I'm offering unbiased advice on this issue). Unfortunately, for this same reason, some coupon bloggers over-emphasize the value of a printable coupon. Use your own judgment as to whether or not the coupon is really "hot" for your family.

January 30, 2011

Starting the year off right—Monthly Budget Review

I just looked at our monthly budget for groceries, and I’m pleased with the numbers thus far.  A big thank you to Walgreens and all the bloggers who post matchups for drugstores!

We budget $350 each month.  This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).   In January we spent $336.90 With that money we bought $922.04 worth of items.  If I’m doing my math correctly, we had a savings of 63.46%. 

What did we buy with that money?  In addition to basic staple items, we purchased the following:

Free items—4 Natrol Melatonin, 2 Blink eye drops, 2 Arnicare, 8 Sinex Dayquil/Niquil, 1 Electrosol, 8 hummus, 2 coffeemate creamer, crest, dawn detergent, chicken from Earth Fare, Swiss Miss cocoa, 1 Colgate toothpaste, 1 pack gum, kids vitamins, 4 Best Life margarine tubs, 3 Horizon single serve milks, 1 Luna Bar, 3 heat wraps, 3 Hunts tomatoes, 3 Honest Teas, 6 cans of mandarin oranges, 8 Butterfinger snackerz, cat treats

The free items only include those that I “bought” with coupons.  Free samples received via the mail are not noted here.  Many of the items mentioned above were donated to the church pantry or to someone else I knew who could use the items.

What did we stock up on? 

  • I made a trip to Sam’s with a sweet friend who let me tag along.  (Our family does not have a membership).  I stocked up on Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, CFL fan bulbs, and Clorox wipes (my guilty, non-eco friendly addiction).
  • I bought a half gallon of organic maple syrup online.  This should last us at least half of a year, if not longer.
  • I bought at case of organic tomatoes through Three Rivers Market and added a few more canned items to storage with the Kroger Mega Events.

So, what could you glean from this post to help with your budget and shopping? 

  • If you don’t have a membership to Sam’s, ask if you can tag along with a friend.  The cost benefit analysis of the amount of membership vs the amount we would save per year shows us that for our family a membership doesn’t make sense.  About one time a year, though, it is nice to make a trip, compare prices, and stock up on a few staple items.  I brought cash, paid in a separate transaction, and tried to go at a time that was convenient for my friend.  I brought her a little treat from Bath & Body Works as a thank you for her letting me join her.
  • Coupons can help you.  We made money through a few transactions at Walgreens which helped to off-set the costs of stockpiling (trip to Sam’s, maple syrup purchase, etc).  Granted, couponing isn’t for everyone, but they sure help our family!  Plus, we are able to donate to the church extra products that we have.  The totals above are only for our family.  Keep in mind that I use coupons from the church to buy products at free or discounted prices for the food pantry, children’s program, and various outreach programs at Faith UMC.
  • Recognize the seasonality of deals.  In November and December, we saw sales and deals on baking products, turkeys, and hams.  January is a good time to find chili, snacks, and Super Bowl foods on sale.  February, you’ll find deals on chocolate.  By keeping an annual budget with some notes on what you buy and when, you’ll get a sense of when to watch for sales.  You’ll know when you can get those products for a discount and when to stock up.

February Eat from the Pantry Challenge

DSC_1341 I’ve been thinking a lot about this challenge since I proposed the idea to you all a few weeks ago.  My poor husband jokes that he doesn’t know what we’ll eat in February because I’ve already begun the process of cleaning out the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Maybe he’s right, maybe I’ll find near the middle of the month that we don’t have as much food stored as I think.  I won’t know until I try, so here we go!

A few notes on the reason behind the challenge--

Saving money.  February, as you know, is the shortest month.  A long time ago, I read from another blogger that it is the easiest month to have an eat from the pantry challenge because you have a few less days to account for.  It is a good time of the year to have a challenge because many people have higher heating bills and budgets are stretched.  By slashing your grocery budget to bare bones, you’ll be able to use that money for savings or to pay down any debt that you have.  For our family, the extra savings will go into our Disney account.

Why am I having this challenge?  For us it isn’t just about saving a little money.  In December, I threw away packet after packet of yeast that I had let die.  I knew they were in the pantry and kept telling myself that I needed to use them.  They weren’t lost, they just weren’t convenient.  I do not like wasting--I don’t think that it is being a good steward of the resources that God provides for us.  I don’t like knowing that someone in need could have used that yeast before it was thrown away.  What about you?  How often do you throw away something from the refrigerator that had mold growing on it?  From the freezer that was freezer burned?  From the pantry that was beyond its expiration date? This challenge is a good time to motivate yourself to use up those leftovers and products that you’ve been meaning to cook but haven’t. 

Getting creative.  I have always enjoyed cooking.  I like the chemistry and science behind it.  I like the sensuality of cooking and baking—the smells, the textures, the tastes.  I like the smiles on my loved one’s faces when I make something that they enjoy.  Yet lately I’ve been a little less than inspired in the kitchen.  I’m hoping that this challenge stirs my creative juices a bit and gets me motivated to try some new recipes, or at the very least some new flavor combinations.

Homemade versus packaged.  This time of the year I find that more packaged foods enter our diet.  In the summer months I have the garden going in full swing and trips to the farmers markets are frequent.  In the winter months, though, I have a hard time buying produce that I know was grown thousands of miles away, organic or otherwise.  Yet the alternative—buying foods that come in bags or boxes or cans—isn’t that much better.  Many times it is worse.  I hope that this challenge will help me to clean out some of the packaged foods from the pantry while forcing me to cook more from scratch. 

Losing weight.  Eating at home more often is a good thing for my waistline.  Health problems late last year contributed to me packing on some pounds.  My body chemistry still isn’t in balance, though my doctor is working to help me with that.  I’m hoping that eating more home-cooked meals, more meals that I’ve thought about and planned, will help me to cut some calories. I’m not saying we won’t be eating sweets, but there is a big difference in a muffin that is made at home and one that is made at a fast food restaurant or coffee shop.  I’m also not saying that we won’t be eating out on occasion, after all, Chick-fil-a is giving away a free chicken biscuit on Groundhog Day.  The times that we do go to restaurants will be either super cheap, free, or when we have a super-duper coupon.

The challenge--

Our family will cut our grocery budget more than half.  Normally, it is $350/month for a family of three with frequent family and friends over for meals.  This includes all food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper products, some dog food, and medicinal items (herbals, OTCs, meds).  In February we want to stay at or under $100 for the entire month.  I feel pretty confident that we’ll be able to make that mark.

I’ll try to post updates, photos of what we are eating, any new recipes that I try, the usual meal plans, and any tips that I learn along the way.  I’ll give an update at the end of the month on how we did and what we learned from the experience. 

The giveaways--

I want you to join me in this challenge!  To bribe motivate you to do so, I’ll have a few giveaways that I’ll post more about later.  I don’t want to put strict guidelines on any of you so as to limit your participation.  I try to repeat over and over again on this blog that anything you learn here must be adjusted to fit your family needs and situation.  This challenge is the same.  Each time I post a giveaway, I’ll have something new that you must do to enter the giveaway.  Other than that, I hope that you will sit down with your family and decide how you will make it work for you.  Here are some questions for you to ponder:

How long do we want our challenge to last?  All month?  Half of the month?  Only 1 week?

How much are we willing to cut our grocery budget if at all? 

What will be the purpose of our family participating in this challenge—saving money? Reducing waste? To build better food storage? To be eligible for Gabrielle’s giveaway?

Let’s get started!  Are you with me?  I hope so.  At the very least, I hope you’ll read along and leave comments about your experiences past or present with eating from storage.  I’ll start regular posts about the challenge starting February 1—stay tuned!

A Happy Thought

 DSC_4799“It is amazing the power of just changing your viewpoint on something.”  ~Dave Ramsey

Tip of the day—Know your numbers

How much did you spend on clothing last year?  Can’t tell me?  I’m guessing then that you don’t have a family budget. 

I can’t tell you how much our family budget has helped us.  Yes, it is a bit of a drag to put everything on paper and to be disciplined with your spending, but it is much better than the alternative—debt.  We know how much money is coming in and going out and how much we spend in each category annually.  After having recorded our family budget for over a year now, we are able to see trends in our spending.  We are better able to anticipate what months the utility bills will be higher, to know when we buy more gifts, and to be reminded of when we have certain annual bills and expenses due.  It has also helped our marriage.  We communicate about money, goals, and needs and wants.  We work together on our spending and savings.  We are teaching our daughter about budgeting, earning money, tithing and saving.  In short, a budget is a must.

For more information and inspiration to get you budgeting, check out Dave Ramsey’s most recent newsletter here

January 29, 2011

Origins Facebook Freebie

50413_19777183712_365040_n “Like” Origins on Facebook and you can sign up for a FREE sample of their new Plantscription anti-wrinkle cream.  Thanks Money Saving Mom!

Tip of the day—Fireplace Baked Potatoes

I saw this fantastic tip/recipe from Tranquil Acres of Alexandria and had to pass it on.  What a great idea!  We’ll be trying this at our home very soon!

January 28, 2011

Bath & Body Works—FREE 1.6 oz New Escape Candle THIS WEEKEND ONLY

Bath & Body Works

This weekend only, Bath & Body Works is giving all of their Facebook Fans a FREE GIFT, a NEW 1.6 oz Candle! Download the coupon now to try our NEW Escape Home Fragrance Collection. No purchase necessary. While supplies last.

The Shrimp Dock—Living Social Daily Deal

$50 (Pay $25) or $100 (Pay $50) to Spend on Fresh Seafood

“Jambalaya, crawfish pie, mee-oh-mi-oh!” Today’s Knoxville Living Social Deal of the Day is a must buy if you love seafood—FRESH, delicious seafood!  You can purchase $50 worth of seafood at The Shrimp Dock for only $25 or $100 worth for only $50!  This is a fantastic deal!!

Kohl’s 20% off Online

TAKE AN EXTRA 20% OFF EVERYTHING AT KOHLS.COM (all sale, regular and even clearance-priced merchandise). Simply enter Promo Code WINTERSHOP. Offer good Friday & Saturday only!

Enter coupon code WINTERSHOP at checkout this Friday and Saturday only (1/28 & 1/29) online at Kohl’s for an additional 20% off everything (sale, regular and clearance priced merchandise included!).  Happy Shopping!

Tip of the day—Pack a cooler

Yesterday I suggested that in an effort to save gas that you cluster your errands.  Inevitably, I have the car full of groceries only to realize that I forgot an errand or need to make one more stop.  To keep ice cream frozen and milk fresh, pack a cooler or thermal/insulated bag with a few ice packs inside.  When it is below freezing outside, this isn’t as much of an issue, but as the weather starts to warm a cooler comes in handy.  You’ll be able to run those extra errands and not have to worry about your foods staying cold. 

Remember that a cooler can be a heater, too.  If you pick up a rotisserie chicken or another hot dish and want it to stay warm for the dinner table, pop it into a thermal/insulated bag or cooler as  soon as you can.

Now for our daughter’s tip of the day.  She wants to type:  cat dog rose fun tree book

January 27, 2011

Don’t forget—Pei Wei FREE Korean BBQ


On Wednesday, Jan 26th and/or Thursday, Jan 27th, come into any Pei Wei and get a card to come back and try their new Korean BBQ for FREE beginning Jan 31st.  To find a Pei Wei location near you, click this link.  Thanks Mojo Savings!

Sunday Coupon Preview, 1/30

bs01864_ Sunday’s paper (1/30) will have 4 inserts included!  It will be a big week for coupon clipping!

Log into Cellfire TODAY!

UPDATE—The time is for Pacific Standard Time, meaning that we have another few hours before the east coast can log in.  Bummer!

I received this email from Cellfire.  Be sure to log in between 10am-2pm (PST) today, January 27th to see what you’ve won—a 50ct, $1, $2, or $5 coupon!  These are to be used at Kroger and Kroger subsidiary stores only. 

FREE after rebate—World’s Best Cat Litter

Worlds Best Cat Litter

I was in the grocery store the other day, and as all couponers do, when I heard someone talking about getting something free I asked about it.  We were in the pet food aisle, and she was looking at cat litter and said, “No, let’s buy this one because I can get it for free.”  I explained that I was a couponer, and they instantly smiled.  Maggie told me that you can go to World’s Best Cat Litter website and download a rebate form, allowing you to try their cat litter for free.  Thanks Maggie!  We no longer have a kitty, but if you do and try this out, let me know how it works. 

FREE Redbox Rental, 1/27

redboxlogo Use code MOVIENIGHT for a free rental at Redbox kiosks today, 1/27.  Thanks Collin!

Tip of the day—Ways to Save on Gas

YIKES! That’s probably the best way to describe my reaction when recently filling up my gas tank.  Gas prices are creeping up to around $3 per gallon.  With rising food costs and winter heating bills, many families are making tough decisions about how to balance the family budget. 

Below are some ways to help your family save a little money at the pump.  Please add any additional tips in the comments section so that all might benefit.

Programs to save at the pump

  • My favorite program for saving at the gas pump is the Shell Kroger Fuel Rewards Program.  When I make purchases at Kroger, I earn points to save money at the pump.  When I bring my Shell receipt into Kroger, I can double the points that I earn from shopping.  This program may take you a little while to get the hang of, especially when it comes to keying in your card at the pump.  However, it is well worth the effort.  Just the other day I saved 30cts at the pump per gallon and have saved almost a dollar per gallon in the past.  One of the best tips to build your points quickly is to buy gift cards at Kroger to use at other stores.  If I know that I’ll be shopping at Walgreens or going to eat at Olive Garden, I can pick up a gift card at Kroger to use at those other places. 
  • Credit cards.  Most major fuel centers offer their own credit cards where shoppers can earn discounts on gasoline for purchases that they make.  As with any credit card, there are risks.  High interest rates or annual fees might negate any discount that you receive.  Read the fine print and for Pete’s sake don’t get a credit card unless you plan on paying off the entire balance every month. 
  • Incentives.  While these won’t save you much money at the pump, you’ll get a little freebie or discount inside the fuel center store.  My favorite of these is Pilot Travel Centers’ freebies.  “Like” them on Facebook, and you can print coupons for freebies.  In the last year, they’ve had coupons for free soft drinks, free hot beverages, and free boxes of tea bags!

Changing the way you drive

  • Before you set out on your errands, analyze your route.  Plan the first stop to be the one farthest away from your home, as the car has better gas mileage as it warms up.  Cluster your stops so that you might be able to walk to your next destination.  When it is pretty outside, I park at the library in Fountain City, run my errands there, and then walk to the bank, post office, or other nearby stores.  Plan all of your errands on one day if you can so that you aren’t making multiple trips out to the stores on different days.
  • Start keeping track of your gas mileage so that you are aware if your mileage starts decreasing or increasing.  A decrease in your mileage might be a sign that your car isn’t running as efficiently and you might need a tune up.  It could also be a sign that your tires need to be aired up—you’d be amazed at how much money you can save just by keeping your tires properly inflated. 
  • Carpool or use public transportation when you can. 
  • If you have more than one vehicle, opt for the one that has the best gas mileage, especially on longer trips.
  • Drive like Miss Daisy.  Lead feet cost you gasoline—drive slower.  Watch ahead of you on the road.  If there are cars stopping or slowing down, or if the light is red or yellow, coast to a stop.  Don’t rev your engine or try to beat the person next to you when at a traffic light.  Coast down hills.  Try to avoid coming to a full stop at the bottom of a hill if you can.
  • Empty your car.  The more weight that you are toting around with you, the more gasoline you will use.  I’m terrible a terrible pack rat when it comes to my car, but I try to make a clean sweep of things at least one time per month.  Cleaning out all those extra bags of “stuff” helps to save a little money.
  • Business and pleasure.  For work I often visit clients who live in almost every part of the East TN area.  Whenever I have a trip planned to a city or part of Knoxville where I don’t normally visit, I think about what else I could do while I’m in that area.  When I finish with my work, I try and run that errand before going home.  For instance, if I know that I’ll be in the Bearden or Turkey Creek area, I might make a run to Earth Fare to snag a freebie.  If I’m going to be in the Pigeon Forge area, I might drop off my kitchen knives to be sharpened at Smokey Mountain Knife Works or I might drop by an outlet store to pick up a deal. 
  • Don’t run the heat or air, especially when the car is warming up.  In the summer months I try to use the vent as much as I can instead of the air conditioner.  In the winter months I don’t run the heat until the car engine has warmed.  Be sure to bring a blanket with you from the house so that your kiddos and babies stay warm.  (This is a good idea regardless of whether you turn the heat on right away or not because the “heat” really isn’t warm until the car warms up anyway).   Park in the shade in the summer and in the full sunlight in the winter to help keep your car a little more comfortable.
  • Don’t be idle.  Running your car engine when you aren’t going anywhere wastes gasoline. 
  • Find a few more tips on saving gas from my past posts here, here, here and here.

Other ways to save

  • Fill up on Tuesdays.  I’ve always heard that Tuesdays are the best days to fill up your gas tank because prices tend to be slightly lower then.  I haven’t tracked it to see if this is correct or not, but it couldn’t hurt.
  • Before a major holiday, fill up.  Prices start to go higher right before a major holiday—Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are probably the biggies.  I try to fill up my gas tank at least a few days before the holiday or holiday weekend so that I can save a few pennies per gallon.
  • When taking a long trip, fill up where it is cheapest.  When we go to West Virginia, we usually try and look to see which states have gas prices the cheapest.  If KY is a little less, we fill up there instead of waiting to cross the border.  When I lived and worked in Memphis and was near downtown, I would cross the river bridge into West Memphis, Arkansas where gas prices were a little less expensive.  Remember, though, that if you are driving many miles or going out of your way to stop at a particular fuel center, you might be spending more money on your trip than you are saving on your fill up.
  • Plan a day at home each week.  If you can manage it, staying at home at least one time per week will save you and your family a lot of money.  Plus, I notice that my house is better kept, we go to restaurants less often, and I’m a lot less stressed when I am able to have a day spent at home each week.
  • If you own a business or drive for work, look into turning in your mileage for reimbursement or for a deduction on your taxes.  Ask your accountant and/or boss for details on doing this.  Be sure to keep good records and your receipts.  You won’t necessarily save gasoline, but you might save a little money on the gas that you use.  In this same area of saving, you might ask your boss if use of a company car is ever possible. 
  • When you buy your next car, opt for one that uses a lot less gas.  We bought a hybrid when we made our last car purchase, and it has saved us much more money than we ever thought that it would.   People make fun of us a little bit because we are so crunchy, but it doesn’t bother us one bit.  I’m never going to recommend that someone go into debt to buy a car.  As more and more hybrids and fuel efficient cars are made, good pre-owned, reasonably priced models are available.

There are lots of hypermiling techniques that hard core drivers can use, but since some of them are on the border of dangerous, I’m not recommending them here.  If you want to look into those techniques, type “hypermiling” into your search engine.

What about you?  Do you have any other ways that you save money on gasoline and reduce consumption? 

January 26, 2011

Kroger Game Day Greats Instant Win Game

logo_landing Have you played the new instant win game at Kroger yet?  You have a chance to win daily for the next 12 days.  After playing for 3 days now, I still haven’t won.  What about you?  Have you scored a freebie yet?

Groundhog Day at Chick-fil-a—FREE Spicy Chicken Biscuit

groundhog day When I visited with Christian, the manager of the double drive through and West Town Mall locations for Chick-fil-a, a couple of weeks ago, he told me about an awesome freebie for Groundhog Day!  On Wednesday, February 2nd from 6:30am-10:30am, you can visit Knoxville area Chick-fil-a locations and receive a FREE Spicy Chicken Biscuit for breakfast

Don’t you just love Chick-fil-a????  Our family sure does—it is just about the only fast food restaurant we visit now. 

Big Lots 20% off through Jan 30th

Exclusive coupon for Buzz Club Rewards members only. 20% off your entire purchase 1/22-1/30/2011

Have you printed your Big Lots coupon and used it yet?  From now through January 30th, you can use this coupon to save 20% at Big Lots.  The last time I used one of these coupons, I stocked our pantry full of organic cereals and organic snacks at a fraction of what they would have cost at the grocery store. 

Don’t forget to Stop by Pei Wei


On Wednesday, Jan 26th and/or Thursday, Jan 27th, come into any Pei Wei and get a card to come back and try their new Korean BBQ for FREE beginning Jan 31st.  To find a Pei Wei location near you, click this link.  Thanks Mojo Savings!

January 25, 2011

Sorry I’ve been out of pocket lately

I’m trying to recuperate today.  Other than one necessary errand, I’m staying at home to get some rest.  I hope to be up and running again soon.  Thanks for your patience!

January 24, 2011

Tip of the day—Want to go out to eat?

Yesterday, my friend Crystal told me that she had some friends call her and ask her if she wanted to go out to eat for supper.  She buzzed through some of the restaurant deals and group buys, recommending Sequoyah Grille, a local restaurant that had posted a group buy certificate.  She and her friends were able to dine out at about half of the cost of what it would have otherwise been.   Most often I buy from sites like Living Social and Groupon ahead of time, but she inspired me that you can use these for last minute discounts, too. 

For other tips on dining out at a discount, check out this post that I wrote a while back. 

January 23, 2011

A Happy Thought

DSC_2423   “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus 

Tip of the day--Check your storage

Remember that next month, I'm having an eat from the pantry challenge in February, which will include at least a couple of giveaways. I'll keep you posted about those details closer to time. In preparation for the challenge, now is a good time to take a look at your food stores. Start thinking about what you'll need to use and how you might plan to do so. For instance, I know that I have a lot of fruit in the freezer that I plan to make muffins with next month. I also have a little venison that I plan to make some dog food out of for our sweet Red.

While you are taking stock, give everything a good wipe down and once over. Winter months can sometimes bring with them pest infestations. Make sure that there aren't any opened packages that might entice an unwanted guest. If you have home canned goods, make sure no lids have become unsealed, and there aren't any signs of spoilage.

When cleaning out the fridge, you might as well do the dreaded task of vacuuming the refrigerator coils. I loathe this job, but it is important to do it at least once or twice a year. Ever ask yourself what you'd do if you had a million dollars drop in your lap? I really and truly believe that we'd live a very similar lifestyle as we do now with one exception--I'd be able to hire someone else to do tasks like this that I don't like to do! ;)

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

January 22, 2011

FREE Korean BBQ at Pei Wei


On Wednesday, Jan 26th and/or Thursday, Jan 27th, come into any Pei Wei and get a card to come back and try their new Korean BBQ for FREE beginning Jan 31st.  To find a Pei Wei location near you, click this link.  Thanks Mojo Savings!

FREE Computer Recycling, Knoxville

 cpu_recycle Plug Into Your Community, An eCycle Event Benefitting Local Charities

January 22, 2011
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Snow, Rain or Shine

This free eCycle event collects old computers, laptops, parts, peripherals, and a few other electronic items.  All of these items have hazardous materials and should not be disposed of with your regular garbage.   This event provides the community with the opportunity to properly recycle these items.

For information about what can and cannot be recycled, visit their website hereThanks Sharing Savings With You!

Tip of the day--Check the girls!

Preventative health measures aren't just money smart. Today perform your monthly self check breast exam and remind those you love to do the same.

Remember to also encourage the guys in your life to perform self checks for both breast and testicular lumps. Breast cancer isn't just a female issue. A friend's husband when I was in college was diagnosed with breast cancer, and up until that point I did not know that men could get breast cancer, too.

January 21, 2011

New Voskos Coupons

cool-voskos-yogurt-260x210 There are some hot new coupons on the Voskos Facebook site that you can print!  Three options—75ct/1 coupon from the website, $1/1 coupon for “Like”ing them on Facebook, and/or a FREE coupon when you and 3 friends become Facebook fans.

Bath & Body Works—FREE Carried Away Body Lotion on Facebook

pBBW1-8472544v194 This weekend only Bath & Body Works is giving all of their Facebook Fans a FREE GIFT — a NEW Carried Away™ 2 oz Body Lotion Preview! “Like” them, and download the coupon that is good for this weekend only (Jan 21-23). No purchase necessary, in stores only. While supplies last.  Don’t you love it when freebies are really free??!

Tip of the day—Mark your calendar

Last night I went to a funeral service for a church friend.  It was such a sweet time, hearing memories and stories from his past. 

The experience made me think of a tip, that while completely unrelated to couponing, might be of help.  Whenever you have a friend who has a significant event, mark your calendar a month into the future of that event.  When someone has lost a loved one, had a miscarriage or lost a home to a fire, usually there is an immediate response from everyone. People bring food, ask how they are doing, and do what they can to help.  In a month’s time, most people go back to their routines yet the pain that the person feels is still present.  I try to touch base with the person and see how I might be able to help, offering to take them out to coffee, bring over some muffins, or help in some other way. 

This works well for celebrations, too.  After a baby is born, it is a jubilant time.  The excitement and rush of welcoming the new baby into the world is thrilling.  Making the adjustments to the baby’s schedule, life as a larger family, and the work of motherhood can have its challenges, though.  About a month after the baby is born, the mom might appreciate a visit, a card, a little gift just for her, and/or a meal brought for the family to enjoy. 

As for a newly married couple, they might like the thought that someone other than them remembered their “monthaversary”.

January 20, 2011

FREE Sample of CoverGirl Natureluxe Foundation


Go here for your free sample of CoverGirl Natureluxe Foundation.

Tater Tot Nachos

The kids devoured these last night at Kid Konnection at church, and I knew I had to post this super simple recipe.  As with most nacho recipes, it isn’t the healthiest of fare.  We try to opt for healthier foods when serving the kids at church, but every once in a while, it is fun to eat what we call “party food”.  This recipe was super simple to make.  No photo—it was a very, very, very long day yesterday, and I didn’t think to bring the camera with me to church.

Tater Tot Nachos

1 bag of Tater Tots

1 bag of shredded cheese (your choice on flavor, we used cheddar)

1 bag or jar of real bacon bits (not those fake kind that taste like cardboard!) or make your own bacon crumbles

Sour cream


Cook Tater Tots in the oven, according to package directions.  As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle them with cheese and bacon bits.  Let set a couple of minutes so that the cheese melts.  Serve with sour cream or ketchup per taste.  I think these would also be good with some grown-up flavors added in.  Since it is basically a baked potato recipe, you could add drained lump crab meat, chopped green onions, chopped ham, and/or salsa to the mix.  Play around with the ingredients per your family’s taste.

Thanks to Miss Radeana for this recipe!!

Free Sample Beneful Incredibites

logo_beneful Sign up at Walmart for your free sample of Beneful Incredibites.  Our dog Red, says, “YUM!”  Thanks Becky for sending me this info and for always being so awesome!

Tip of the day—Bag credit

Don’t forget that if you shop at Target and bring your own bags, you’ll receive a 5ct discount for each bag used.  Earth Fare donates 5cts per bag to charity, and some Kroger stores (in the Memphis area) give 2ct credits per reusable bag. 

To learn how to make your own bag out of a t-shirt, check out my post with directions.  These are super easy and hold a lot of groceries!

January 19, 2011

Tip of the day—From Ten Things Farm

I saw this household tip post from Ten Things Farm and had to pass it on.  Enjoy!

January 18, 2011

Marble Slab Creamery—FREE Tiramisu Ice Cream on Valentine’s Day!!


This Valentine’s Day, Marble Slab Creamery will show customers some “amoré” by giving away a free sample of their new Tiramisu ice cream from 3 to 6 pm on Monday, February 14th. Doesn’t that sound amazing??? Since tiramisu is one of my hubby’s favorite desserts, I know where we will be on Valentine’s!

In addition to the free Tiramisu ice cream sample giveaway on Valentine’s Day, customers who pre-order a Marble Slab Creamery Ice Cream Cake online or in-store between February 1, 2011 and February 10, 2011 will receive a free small Tiramisu Crunch Tasty Creation.
The Tiramisu Crunch Tasty Creation includes:

  • Tiramisu Ice Cream
  • Yellow Cake
  • Nestlé® Crunch®
  • Fudge

To order your Marble Slab Creamery Ice Cream Cake or to find out more information about the Valentine’s Day Tiramisu ice cream sample giveaway, customers can visit www.marbleslab.com.  For more information on Marble Slab Creamery, please visit www.marbleslab.com and join Marble Mail or become a Facebook® fan.

Thanks Chris for sending me the info!  Be sure to mark your calendars now, and I’ll post a reminder closer to time.

Ways to Save on Valentine’s Day

valentine's day Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Each year I enjoy sending cards to friends and family, telling them how much they mean to me.  I enjoy making some kind of special treat for my sweet and wonderful husband.  Last year was the first year our daughter really got into the holiday, and it was so sweet watching her excitement as she opened cards and goodies from her fellow classmates after school.  For us, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of friendship just as much as it is a day for sweethearts.

I’ve included some ideas on ways to save money for Valentine’s Day, and I encourage you to leave notes in the comments section if you think of some tips that I’ve missed. 

Correspondence—The Valentine card is one of the symbols of the holiday.  If you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in any other way, at least send a card.

  • Use email—There are many online companies that offer free greeting cards that can be sent to a friend or relative’s inbox.  You’ll save postage and you won’t have to lick any envelopes!
  • Opt for postcards instead of cards—I’ve told you all that the first Christmas our daughter was born, I was too overwhelmed to mail anyone Christmas cards.  I decided that instead of pushing myself too far to worry about holiday cards that we would get a jump start on mailing out Valentine’s greetings.  I had a little photo shoot with our daughter in one of her Valentine’s onesies, and my Hubby cropped the photo and sent it to Walgreens for printing.  I included a short greeting to each person, and the response was amazing.  More people wrote, emailed and called us about those cards than they have about anything else we’ve sent.  For many of our older relatives, this was the only Valentine they received, and they talked about what an unexpected and pleasant surprise it was to get mail that wasn’t a bill. 
  • Buy in bulk—Many greeting card companies offer boxes of assortments of Valentine’s cards.  You’ll pay a little less than you would if you were to buy each card individually.
  • Shop at the dollar store—Many dollar stores offer cards for 2/$1 or less.
  • Shop for next year—You’ll see a reoccurring theme in most of my posts about saving money for the holidays.  I encourage you to shop a year ahead.  Right after Valentine’s Day watch for deep discounts and stock up then.  Card stores like Hallmark don’t always discount their cards, but you might find some cute ones at Target or Walmart that are on sale.
  • Make your own—This is especially great for the kids.  What is more fun than a bunch of glitter, glue, some doilies, scissors, construction paper and a little time?  OK, maybe you are right, someone else to clean up the mess would be good.  To reduce the mess, lay out some newspapers on the table and when you are done, scoop everything up to recycle.

Sweets—Are you salivating at the thought of decadent chocolate?  Whether you are buying a sweet treat or making it, whether it is for school or for your sweetheart, sweet treats are a must.

  • Use coupons and watch for deals—I almost always buy candy at drugstores because if you wait for a RR or ECB deal, you’ll get them for free or very cheap. 
  • Buy basic—I have some Yummy Earth organic lollipops that I bought in bulk through Frontier right before Christmas. Because they aren’t marked with Christmas decorations, I’m not limited in how I use them.  I decided that giving each of our daughter’s classmates one would be a slightly healthier, better for the earth, allergen free choice.  Last year, I bought a couple of cases of fruit leather at Three Rivers Market and she gave each of her classmates one of those.
  • Know your price points—My Hubby loves those Reeses holiday candies--for Christmas they make trees, for Easter they make eggs.  I know that 3/$1 is just about the best price that I can buy them, and when I see them at that price, I’ll pick them up.  When they are 99cts each or even 2/$1, I wait patiently for the sale.
  • Sign up for the Godiva rewards program—Ok, ok, this isn’t going to get you far with a gift, but having a good quality piece of chocolate once a month is good for your health.  Don’t hold me to that last claim, I completely made it up, but I still think that it sounds like it should be true.  ;)
  • Make something homemade—I’ll be making my Hubby some cinnamon rolls for Valentine’s Day (shhh, don’t tell him).  He’ll like this much more than anything else I could buy at the store.  Bake up a big batch of cookies and bring some to your neighbors or drop them off to friends at work. 

The date—Many couples enjoy a night on the town for Valentine’s Day.  Are you one of them?

  • Go out on a different date—I remember when Hubby and I were dating and we went out for Valentine’s Day.  We waited at a restaurant for over an hour and that was with call ahead seating!  While we didn’t mind the wait too much at the time, I don’t think it was too  many holidays later that we decided to go out the night before the 14th to celebrate instead.  This year the 14th falls on a Monday, meaning that you can pick Friday night, Saturday night, or Sunday night for your date and celebration.  You won’t save money this way, but you might save time and frustration. By choosing a date night other than the 14th, you’ll be more likely to find a baby sitter, too!  If you are asking a relative to baby-sit as a way of saving money, be sure to bring back a special dessert or another treat for him or her as a thank you.
  • Restaurants—Use my restaurant tips here for some other money saving strategies.  Watch for Groupon and other group buying sites for deals at restaurants.  Some may exclude Valentine’s Day, others may not.  Be sure to read the fine print.  Sign up on Facebook or at the restaurant website for e-newsletters.  Many restaurants have specials, 2-for-1 deals, and other incentives for the holiday.  Watch for coupons in the newspaper and other mailings or, if you are local, look in the Knox County School Coupon book for them there.
  • Do something different—Go bowling or skating, take a hike together during the day and pack a picnic, or visit the site where you first kissed or where he proposed.  Think of non-traditional ways to celebrate your relationship, and you’ll most likely save a little money.
  • Sign up for discounts to the movies—most movie theaters now offer some kind of discount club.  Get online and sign up—you might receive coupons or points that you use towards freebies.  Be sure to also sign up to “Like” the theater on Facebook or sign up to be a Twitter follower.  Regal, one of our local cinemas, for instance has different coupons available on Facebook from the ones that they send in the e-newsletter.
  • Go during the day—When you go out to eat for lunch or brunch instead of supper, you are going to save some money.  When you go to a matinee instead of the evening show, you’ll save at least a few dollars on each ticket.

The gift—Exchanging gifts with your sweetie can be fun, but not if it busts your budget!

  • Set a budget for gifts—this goes for all gifts that you give by the way.
  • Jewelry—Many men like to give jewelry as a gift for Valentine’s Day.  If you have some gold to sell, you might ask the jewelry store about store credit in exchange for your gold.  If your jewelry store doesn’t buy gold, go to a separate gold buying store first.  Go vintage-- By shopping at antique or estate shops you’ll sometimes find absolutely remarkable pieces for a fraction of the cost at jewelry stores.  Shop online or on TV--  I had a friend who used to work for Jewelry Television, and she said that she was continuously impressed with the quality of their jewelry and price. 
  • Comparison shop—If you have a particular gift in mind, shop around until you find the best possible price for it.  As with any other buy, if you can find a way to use a coupon, do so! ;)
  • Don’t give gifts—Hubby and I decided not to give gifts to each other this year.  We are going to put the money we normally would have spent on gifts in our Disney fund for our trip later in the year.  This only works if both of you decide to keep up your end of the bargain and not buy the gift. 
  • Do something homemade—My friend Honor told me once that the one gift she knows that her hubby will always appreciate from her is hand-knitted socks.  She puts love in each stitch, and he’s happy to receive them.  Think about what you are good at making and consider how you could use that as a gift.
  • Lingerie—There are tons of sales going on for lingerie.  Victoria’s Secret’s Semi-Annual Sale is on its last week.  Lane Bryant and Catherine’s have had recent sales on bras and undies.  Sign up for e-newsletters and on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the newest sales, deals and coupons. 
  • Flowers—You might be surprised at what great florist services you’ll find at Kroger.  I’ve been impressed at the prices and value of the arrangements I have bought there.  When shopping at local stores, order early to make sure you can have your flowers or balloons delivered.  Ask the person who answers the phone for their best deal or if they are running any specials.  Tell the florist your budget WITH taxes and delivery fee so that he or she can help to make sure you get what you need.
  • Wrapping paper—remember all of that solid colored red wrapping paper and tissue paper I encouraged you to buy after Christmas?  Now is the time to use it!  Watch for after the holiday sales to stock up on pink, white, pastels, roses, and other wrapping paper or gift bags that can be used for other gift giving occasions.

The Kiddos--Get the kiddos involved and have some fun!

  • Crafts—You’ll find an endless stream of craft ideas and freebies on parenting websites and in parenting magazines.  Search “free Valentine’s crafts” and you’ll have a ton of options from which to choose.  For more grown-up crafts, you can look on the Martha Stewart website for some great ideas.
  • Books—Check out books about Valentine’s Day from your local public library for a free homeschooling lesson.  Choose love or friendship themed books for storytime and talk about what it means to be a good friend, brother/sister, etc. 

What other tips or ideas do you have?  I look forward to hearing more!  I hope that you and yours have a very happy and love filled Valentine’s Day!

Meal Plan, Week of 1/17

Yesterday was a busy day, and I didn’t get time to post the meal plans.  If you have read on my Facebook page, I’m now procrastinating on cleaning our home office so I thought now would be a perfect time to post them!

NOTE—The meal plan below is for Hubby, me, and our daughter with an occasional guest or family member joining us.  I often make enough food to freeze or have for another meal.  Because of this, leftovers are counted as $0 on the menu.  If we go to a restaurant, it counts in a different part of our family budget.  Prices below are before taxes.


Last night Hubby made the meal because I was catching up at work. 

Jose Ole Taquitos 49cts

Spanish Rice $0

Sour cream and salsa 50cts

Ways I saved on this mealThe taquitos were super cheap at Kroger last week.  I matched a coupon and sale at Kroger for free Spanish rice a couple of months ago.  The salsa is from Three Rivers Market.  We buy a case a year, and it is made by a local producer.  The case discount for share owners helps to make the cost a little cheaper.  The natural sour cream was from Kroger last week on sale.

 Approximate cost: $1



Italian Sausage $8

Steamed broccoli $0

Leftover Spanish rice $0

Okra and Tomatoes from the freezer $0

Ways I saved on this meal—Notice how I try to offset the cost of a more expensive ingredient with less expensive side dishes?  The Italian sausage was made by a local farmer and friend and is well worth the price we paid.  The broccoli was free after Birds Eye vegetable coupon at Kroger a few weeks ago.  The okra and tomatoes are, I think, the last ones from last year’s garden.  How sad!  How I’m looking forward to this year’s garden!

Approximate cost: $8



Last week’s Kid Konnection was cancelled due to Knox County Schools being out for the snow. We’ll have the meal this week instead.

Tater Tot Nachos


Ways I saved on this meal—A friend and I will be making supper for the children’s program at church on this night.  According to her kids who have raved to me on numerous occasions, she “makes the best nachos in the whole wide world!”  I can’t wait to try them out!

Approximate cost: $0 (From church budget)



Snack supper—our daughter’s favorite kind

Boiled eggs 70cts

Veggies and hummus 50cts

Mandarin oranges 33cts

Any leftovers from the fridge that I need to use $0

Peanut butter and graham crackers 50cts

Ways I saved on this meal—I found a great price for TN cage free eggs at Earth Fare a couple of weeks ago.  The hummus was free at Kroger a few weeks back and the organic veggies were on sale at Three Rivers Market.  The oranges were on sale at Walgreens in November and I stocked up.  The organic peanut butter wasn’t cheap, but it was a little less expensive because I bought the Kroger generic version of organic as opposed to name brand.  The graham crackers were some that I bought with a coupon and sale at Kroger in October of last year.  See how having a stockpile helps?

Approximate cost: $2.03



Pizza from the freezer $2.19

Fruit salad $1

Ways I saved on this mealI bought the pizza at Kroger last week as part of the Mega Event. The fruit will be a mixture of berries that we picked last summer with a little cream that I sweeten with honey.  The cream is one of the many benefits of buying milk from Cruze Dairy Farm.  Since their milk isn’t homogenized, the cream rises to the top and can be poured off if you desire.

 Approximate cost: $3.19



Sausage Dressing $2.50

Corn 30cts

Peas $0

Sautéed pears with vanilla ice cream $0

Ways I saved on this meal—Since my cousin had already made a dessert last week, we didn’t use the pears and ice cream last week.  I’m sure that my family will be happy to have it tonight instead!  The sausage for the dressing was bought on sale at Kroger.  All of the veggies except for the celery are from our garden last year and were frozen.  If the green onions end up perking up outside, I’ll pull some of those to use as well.  The cornbread mix was free after coupon and sale at Kroger.  The corn is the last of what I froze last year.  I caught a deal at Earth Fare where locally grown corn was 10cts an ear.  The peas are some more of the Birds Eye veggies I mentioned above.  BTW, I don’t steam these in the microwave.  We would rarely use that many peas in one serving.  Instead I use half of the bag for one meal and the other half in the future.

Approximate cost: $2.80



I’ll be having what we call “Seed Talk” at my house this afternoon.  Some of my closest gardening friends and I sit around, sip tea, eat girlie food, and flip through garden catalogs.  We plan what we will be ordering, talk about what did and didn’t work in the garden last year, and enjoy each other’s company.  Because we always have tons of leftovers, we’ll probably enjoy those for supper.

What I’ll be making for Seed Talk, others usually bring goodies, too:

Egg and Caper Salad $2.50

Tomato and Dill Soup $2

5 minute bread Recipe $1

An assortment of cookies $3

 Ways I saved on this meal—I mentioned the deal on the eggs above.  I buy the capers in a large jar at World Market—it is the best price I’ve found for these anywhere.  The mayo was on sale and I had a coupon and RR deal at Walgreens a few weeks back.  The yeast from the bread was on sale, the wheat I buy in bulk and mill myself.  The cookies are probably the most expensive per unit because of the butter, but I did catch a good deal on organic at Kroger last week.  I bought the organic tomatoes for the soup during Three Rivers Market’s last sale ad.  I had coupons for 50cts/2, and since I bought a case, I received an additional 10% off.  The broth for the soup is homemade from leftover turkey carcass.  The cream will be poured off of the milk from Cruze Farm, as I mentioned above. 

Approximate cost: $8.50

I guess this means that it is time to clean the office, huh?

FREE Lacoste Fragrance Sample

lacoste-free-sample-m Go here to request your free sample of Lacoste Fragrance, while supplies last.  (See the “free sample” tab at the top.  The site is running slowly right now.)

Am I dating myself when I say that all I can think of when I see this alligator logo is the preppie look of the 80s???

Two FREE Redbox Movies through 2/28

redboxlogo Coupon Katie posted about two new freebies at Redbox:

Use codes: WXM52MD and/or XXR3N4Z for your free rentals. These free Redbox rental codes are valid thru 2/28/2011.

Is it just me or has it been a while since we’ve seen many free codes from Redbox?  They tend to have a little better selection than Blockbuster Kiosks, at least from what I’ve seen. Not that I’m complaining—a free movie is still a free movie!!

FREE Meals at Captain D’s

I’ll be honest, Captain D’s is probably not my favorite restaurant.  Every once in a while, though, I really like to have fish for lunch and this freebie will come in handy for those times.  When you sign up for the Captain D’s club, you’ll receive a welcome email that prompts you to print a coupon for a FREE order of chicken and fries or fish and fries.  You can also sign up your children for their birthday club, and they will receive a free kids meal on their birthdays.  This is all over the blogosphere right now, but I think that I saw it at Hip2Save first so I’ll credit her.  Thanks!

FREE Vicks VapoDrops at Walgreens

vapo rub If you haven’t yet stopped by Walgreens this week,  here is another freebie you can add to your cart!

Vicks VapoDrops $.99 each or 2/$1.79
Use the $1/1 Vicks product coupons from 12/26 PG or 1/16 PG
Final Cost FREE!

Thanks Together We Save!

Three Rivers Market Weekly Deals, 1/17-1/23

Below are some delicious deals at Three Rivers Market.  Don’t forget that you can also go to the matchups for the Co-op Advantage Stores, TRM being one of these.

Produce specials: Jan. 17 - 23

OG Avocados, $1.29 ea. (reg. $1.69 - save 40¢) High in fiber, rich in vitamins B, E, and K, and endowed with 60% more potassium than bananas... what more could you want?

OG Japanese Sweet Potatoes, $1.79 lb. (reg. $2.49 - save 70¢) In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables.  Guess who won?  Sweet potatoes earned 184 points, 100 points over the next on the list, the common potato.

OG Satsumas, $1.79 lb. (reg. $2.49 - save 70¢) Easy to peel.  Really sweet.  About the size of a mandarin orange, but so much more fun to pronounce - go ahead say it: "Satsuma."

Tip of the day—A few couponing tips

  • Know your store’s coupon policy.  Some stores in our area double coupons up to 50cts (Kroger, Ingles).  Some stores accept store coupons and manufacturer coupons, this is called “stacking” a coupon (Target, Walgreens, CVS).  When you read through the coupon policy, you are better able to learn ways to get the most bang for your couponing buck. 
  • “Know when to hold them”—Knowing the price of most items that you buy gives you the best opportunity to buy with the coupon when the product is at its lowest price.  If the expiration date is far into the future, hold onto the coupon and be patient.  I almost always try to match a coupon with a sale, Mega Event deal, catalina (RR, ECB) deal or some other way to double my savings.  Example--I had some Star product coupons last year that read “Free or up to $4”.  I knew the Star made vinegars and olive oils, and for our family, the better deal was to wait for a good price on olive oil.  I did a little research to find what stores sold Star olive oil, even going so far as to call around to stores in the Memphis area since I have family there and visit often.  I used the coupons on two occasions, once in Memphis and once here in Knoxville when I found a buy one, get one sale on Star olive oil.  If I had rushed out and used the coupons as soon as I received them, I would not have had as good of a deal.
  • Price compare with the coupon different sizes.  Sometimes the smallest item is the best deal when you are using a coupon, but every once in a while the larger item is the better deal.  This can be confusing with products like toilet paper and paper towels.  In those instances, I pull out my handy-dandy cell phone (prehistoric cell phone as some people like to call it) and do a little math on the phone calculator.  By knowing the price per sheet, you’ll know which is the better deal.  I often give coupon classes an example of size comparison from shopping with my cousin.  We were making dinner and needed some Tabasco.  My cousin immediately grabbed the largest bottle on the shelf, and he was surprised when I told him to halt.  I explained that I had a few 50ct/1 coupons, which at Kroger are doubled making the discount really $1.  The smallest bottle of Tabasco was on sale for 99cts, making it completely free.  Yes, we could have bought the larger bottle, but we would have been paying money out of pocket. 
  • Stock up before you need the item.  You know that you will eventually need dish soap, shampoo, lotion, pasta, etc.  Instead of waiting until you really do need those products, shop the sales and stock up.  I buy products like whole wheat pasta and rice when they are free or super cheap and buy as many as I can with the coupons that I have.  If you don’t have a need for a product but it is free, consider donating it to charity or a friend who could use it.  (Check Blue Frog Creations weekly post about Couponing for Charity for some great ideas on how to do that).  Have a system for stockpiling in your house so that you make sure that nothing goes to waste.  I store most of the foods like the grocery store does—I put the newest cans in the back of the shelf and move the older ones to the front. 

Titanic Museum Pigeon Forge—FREE Family Event



Although it has been open less than a year, the Titanic Museum attraction already is recognized as one of the Great Smoky Mountain area’s top attractions, and according to owner John Joslyn, the museum is just getting started.

“As we approach the end of 2010, Titanic Pigeon Forge is locking-in exciting, seasonal events to add fresh, new excitement to the already super-charged museum attraction,” Joslyn said. “Each of our special events are carefully selected for their entertainment and educational values as well as their ability to tie into and enhance Titanic’s rich legacy.”

Titanic’s First Pigeon Forge Professional Ice Carving Competition

Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 – Free Family Event – Watch the world’s-most celebrated ice sculptors chisel 250-pound blocks of ice into fantastic designs that are beyond belief. This free one-day family event will take place in Titanic’s outdoor entertainment center Saturday, Jan. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Professionals will compete for prizes up to $2,000 and amateurs will compete for prizes up to $500. Due to anticipated interest, visitors are advised to arrive early for the best views to watch all the ice-carving action.


The Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is open daily at 9 a.m. Reservations are strongly suggested (many days sell out entirely). Or, passengers may purchase tickets online at www.titanicpigeonforge.com or by phone at 800-381-7670.

January 17, 2011

Weekly Matchups and Deals, 1/16-1/22

Co-op Advantage Stores/Three Rivers Market through 2/1


Earth Fare January Deals

target frugal mom blogger  columbus ohio


kroger deals kroger sales logo

Kroger  and here There are some good prices on frozen foods!








Staples Deals

Bath & Body Works—FREE Anti-bac with $10 purchase

Free Anti-Bac. Use code 3938 in U.S. Stores only. Use Code ANTIBAC10 online at checkout.

Go here to print your coupon for a FREE anti-bac with the purchase of $10 or more at Bath & Body Works now through Feb 6th.

Tip of the day—Park in the sun

In the heat of summer months, most of us think to park our cars in the shade so that they are a little cooler when we return to them.  In the winter months, though, people don’t often think about doing the opposite.  Make a point to part in the sun when you can so that the heat from the sun’s rays will help take the nip off.  Stay warm!

January 16, 2011

Weepeat Boutique, Knoxville—Clearance Sale


I just saw on Coupons are Money’s blog that there is a great clearance sale going on at Weepeat Boutique in Knoxville!

Weepeat Boutique  is having a second round of clearance markdowns with items discounted up to 70%!!!

Weepeat Boutique is located at 8079 Kingston Pike, Suite W in Knoxville, TN.  Phone: 865.691.8040  info@weepeatboutique.com

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30am - 5:30pm; Saturday, 10:00am - 5:00pm

Thanks Christy!

A Happy Thought

DSC_2377 “Let this be the year you release your fears about what you can achieve.” --Oprah

Tip of the day—Taxes for next year

While many of us are doing all we can to get our taxes from 2010 ready to send off to the IRS, I encourage you to also think about your taxes for next year.  What can you do differently to make sure things are easier and more organized?  Below are a few of my goals mixed with some things we already do.  I’m not a CPA and can do calculus easier than adding two numbers together, so I’m not by any means an expert in accounting.  I’m very open to any tips or feedback any of you have, and I’ll also be talking to our accountant for some more ideas.

Have a good relationship with your accountant—Last year I called our accountant multiple times for advice and ideas on deductions and recording information for our taxes.  He was great about providing us with what we need.  Our accountant is not local, and while we are still looking for someone in the Knoxville area, we are very pleased with the way that the CPA has addressed our needs.

Keep good records now—Last year I recorded my mileage for work with pen and paper.  This December I keyed all of the information into an Excel file, per a recommendation from my sweet friend Radeana, and I hope that it will make things much easier for next year.  The auto-fill and auto-sum options of Excel make my record keeping a little easier. 

Keep everything in the same place—I’ve started some files for tax receipts and information related to business and home.  I plan to record information in an Excel file and keep the receipts in the desk files. 

Most importantly have a budget that is written, decided upon by you and your spouse, and talked about regularly with your immediate family.  I can’t tell you how much easier our lives are now that we have a written budget.  It even makes paying taxes easier because we can look back on and review our records.

Keep information that contains passwords, credit card numbers, account numbers, and Social Security numbers safe.  Make sure your computer is protected, but even if you think it is, be careful about what you put on it. 

January 15, 2011

Valentine’s Day FREEbies


J at Your Service has some links to some oh-so-cute Valentine’s Day crafts and freebies.  Aren’t these little bookmarks super cute?  Check them out for some free and simple crafts for your kids (or you!)