February 28, 2011

Cheap vs. Frugal

BS01178_1 Many people from the Knoxville Coupon Fair have emailed and asked me about how to get started saving money and couponing.  Over the course of the next few days and weeks, I’ll try to answer that question.  I encourage you to also check out the blogs from the other coupon experts who were in attendance, as many of them are writing similar posts that you might find helpful.

The first question that I encourage people to ask themselves when starting this process is, “Why do I want to save money?”  What is your motivation?  By learning more about the motivating factors, you’ll be better able to consider what barriers you might face. 

  • Example:  If I’m motivated to save money because I’ve lost a job, then I’m motivated by debt.  Some potential barriers might be that you might not have as much time to dedicate to couponing because you’ll be focused on a job hunt.  Another barrier is that debt is a negative motivator.  When we are motivated by debt an underlying feeling is usually fear.  When the negative motivator is absent, when you find a job or get an unemployment check, then the risk is that you’ll return to old spending habits.  Whenever faced with a negative motivator, try and look for a positive reframe.  “Now is a good time for me to learn how to be a better steward of the resources I have”. 

The second question to ask yourself is, “Are the members of my family on board?”  Just like trying to make a budget with only one person in a 4 person household being involved sets you up for failure, you need your family involved if you are going to succeed.  You need your entire family to buy into the process of saving money and using coupons.  First set aside a time to talk with your spouse or partner about your thoughts on saving money.  Gauge the level of commitment and talk about any potential barriers or reservations with him or her.  Then have a family meeting and talk with your entire family unit about your desire to spend money differently.  What are their reservations?  How can you work together to address them?

  • Example:  “That’s nice, Honey, but I really only like Maxwell House coffee.”  Talk about how coupons can often save you much more money on brand name products.
  • Example:  “Gee, Mom—are you trying to make me the unpopular girl at school!?  I can’t be seen with that in my lunchbox.”  Ask your family to prioritize what preferences they have for various products.  Charmin toilet paper is the only brand that my family wants to use, and I try to honor that request.  Yet,  my family isn’t brand loyal on many other products, and I’m able to shop the sales for those things.

“Change the way you look at being frugal”  After you’ve addressed those two questions, then you should look at your own perceptions about being frugal.  Being frugal isn’t the same as being cheap!    What is being frugal to me?

  • It is about being a good steward.  We could live a different lifestyle, but instead we have made choices to be debt free, live simply, and to reduce our environmental impact. 
  • Saving for emergencies rather than keeping up with the Jones Family.  Learning how to control the “I wants” is a big step in being a grown up.  I get a case of the “I wants” every so often—I want an I-Phone, I want a new deck, I want a bigger kitchen….  Then I refocus on our short and long term goals, and I realize that those things will come in time. 
  • It is about being content--Philippians 4:11-13 
    “For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry of facing either plenty of poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.”

Stay tuned for the next entry!

Meal Planning Monday

My internet service has been off and on most of the day due to the rainstorms in our area, and my postings will be a little sporadic as a result.

Monday

Tonight we’ll enjoy eggs and rice with leftover peas, a few carrots and celery.

Approximate cost--$1

Ways I saved on this meal—I made some brown rice to go with the last bit of duck gumbo that a friend shared with me.  To make things easier tonight, I made extra rice.  Making rice from scratch as opposed to boil in bag or minute rice saves a lot of money over the course of a year.  Using leftovers and the last of the carrots and celery that need using prevents waste.  The eggs also need to be used up before they go bad.  With the beginning of the month almost here, I plan to buy some eggs at Three Rivers Market, as they had a really good price on cage free TN Valley eggs when I was there last.

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Tuesday

Taco Night—Tacos and Pinto Beans

Approximate cost--$2.80

Ways I saved on this meal—The pinto beans were in the freezer and were some that my uncle had given me dry last year=free.  I told you all how I think my dad was worried about us since we were doing the February Eat from the Pantry Challenge.  When we went over to see him on Saturday after the coupon fair, he gave me a box of taco shells with seasoning, a cluster of tomatoes, a head of lettuce and a bag of cilantro.  I have explained to him that we have money to eat, but somehow I think it made him feel better to give us food.  Too cute!  We’ll use a pound of natural ground beef that I bought with manager mark down at Kroger.

~~~~~

Wednesday

Tonight I’ll be preparing the meal for the children’s program at church. 

We are having our monthly birthday celebration and having “party food”—pizza rolls, pears, carrot sticks, pretzels, and cupcakes.

Approximate cost--$0, from church budget

Ways I saved on this meal—I am using the 40ct/2 coupons matched with the $1 box price for Totino’s rolls at Kroger this week.  The pears were some I had stocked when canned fruit was inexpensive.  One church member gave us a coupon for free carrot sticks.  The pretzels are store brand to save money.  I’ll be making the cupcakes at home since our daughter’s birthday is March 8th.  I plan to use a boxed cake mix and make cream cheese frosting from scratch.

~~~~~

Thursday

Salmon patties, Stuffing from a box, Peas, Wedge Salad

Approximate cost--$2.50

Ways I saved on this meal—If the lettuce is still good from what my dad gave me, I’ll use the rest of it to make a Wedge Salad (fancy way of saying that I’m making the easiest salad on earth, a hunk of lettuce with a bit of dressing on top).  The salmon is canned and I never got around to using it in February.  I bought it on sale at Walgreens late last year.  I’ll use a bit of bread crumbs, some onion from the garden, carrots, and celery bound with a little egg and baked.  I’ll make the dill sauce by using lemon juice, mayo and dried dill with any chives I can find popping up in the garden and maybe a few capers.  The stuffing was from an Angel Food box I bought in November for Thanksgiving that we never used.  The peas were free with coupon and sale at Kroger in January.

~~~~~

Friday

Dove marinated with Italian Seasoning

Any leftover stuffing and peas

Fruit salad

Approximate cost--$2

Ways I saved on this meal—The dove is the last of what my dad and husband took last fall, and frankly, I’ll be glad to see it out of the freezer.  Other than the cost of hunting, which I wouldn’t dare factor into the grocery budget (if you have a hunter in your family, you get the joke), the meat was free.  The Italian seasoning will consist of vinegar, EVOO, and herbs from the garden and freezer.  The leftovers are “free”.  The fruit salad will be made with some of the frozen berries from last summer and home canned fruit.

~~~~~

Saturday

I plan to make lamb stew and Irish Soda Bread and have our dad over to eat. 

I’ll put out a few of the homemade relishes for a little appetizer. 

Approximate cost--$12

Ways I saved on this meal—This portion of lamb is much bigger than we usually eat, hence the cost being so much higher than normal.  We’ll most likely have leftovers for another night, and our dog will enjoy any of the large bones leftover.  Friends of ours went in on a lamb purchase with us last year.  We bought half of the lamb and have been enjoying it every week or so.  I’ll add carrots, onions, celery and potatoes to the stew.  We had one more potato box that we hadn’t dug yet, or as I like to reframe it, we stored them outside for the winter.  We’ll use some of the potatoes from it to reduce cost. 

~~~~~

Sunday

Chili from the freezer

Approximate cost--$0

Ways I saved on this meal—Leftovers are factored as “free” in our budget since it is easier to count the cost when making the entire dish.  The chili is some that I’ve needed to eat for a while now, but I need to clean it out of the freezer to make room for 1/8 of a steer we are buying with some friends. 

IHOP, National Pancake Day TOMORROW

 logo-home IHOP is hosting their National  Pancake Day (AKA in our household, FREE Pancake Day) on March 1st of this year from 7am-10pm.  You’ll get a free short stack of pancakes and are encouraged to make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.  I encourage you to be sure to leave a tip for your waiter or waitress as well.  Last year I overheard some waiters grumbling about how many people had come in but hadn’t tipped. 

Since beginning its National Pancake Day celebration in 2006, IHOP has raised more than $5.35 million to support charities in the communities in which it operates. While IHOP's National Pancake Day typically takes place on Shrove Tuesday, this year, the company will host its free pancake event one week earlier on Tuesday, March 1 to build buzz and excitement prior to Shrove Tuesday. With your help, we hope to raise $2.3 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities!

Known also as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, National Pancake Day dates back several centuries to when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products...hence the name Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday.

Thanks Frugalissa Finds for the info!

End of the month report—February

This month we did things a little differently in our household.  We had a February Eat from the Pantry Challenge (see the linked text and look under “food security” label for more information) in which we limited our grocery expenses to $100.  We focused on using many of the foods we had stored in the fridge, freezer, and pantry to avoid waste, save money, and learn. 

What did we learn?  A ton!  I learned more about what types of foods we shouldn’t store (creamed corn and instant potatoes being at the top of the list), which ones we don’t want to store (heavily processed foods being at the top of that list),  which ones we need to store (having chocolate on hand for certain times of the month is important!), and which ones we need to focus on storing more of (staple foods like rice, oatmeal, and beans).  I learned that it is very helpful to store easy to prepare foods to make those nights when I want to run to the restaurant bearable.  I learned to be a little more creative with our foods and to take pride in the loving act of preparing food for my family.  I learned that when I’m busy or stressed I want to run to the restaurant, and that sometimes that is not only ok to do but also necessary.  (We went to Puleo’s with a Groupon deal the night before the coupon fair because I just couldn’t bring myself to cook). 

How did we do?  If I had to grade us, I would give us a B+.  We still went out to eat a few times, though I made a point to use coupons and deals to keep those expenses as low as possible.  We used less of our entertainment budget than we normally would have, and saving money was part of the challenge.  I did well with the grocery budget, which I’ll tell you more about below.  We found ways to keep our meals enjoyable and satisfying, and my family was great about not complaining about having leftovers.  I didn’t try as many new recipes as I had wanted to, but it was also a very busy month for us.  I wouldn’t say we ate any healthier or less healthy over the course of the month, though I had hoped to shed a few pounds by eating at home more often.  All-in-all, I am happy with how we did and what we learned over the month.

Did we save money?  Yes!  Normally we would budget $350 each month.  This includes all groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, medicines/herbals, and hygiene items (razors, deodorant, etc).   In February, we budgeted only $100.  We spent $98.99 and bought $250.54 worth of products.  This was a savings of 60.49%.  Considering that $10 of that budget was for two gift card giveaways that I had on the blog and $25 was directly from a farmer, I think that percentage is pretty good. 

We only had a handful of freebies this month—Voskos yogurt, 3 Horizon milks, 4 tuna pouches, Arnicare, 2 Natrol, 2 hand sanitizers, 2 cinnamon roll packages, 1 pound butter, Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce, chicken, truffles, carrots, mashed potatoes, Gain dryer sheets, and 2 bags of Ruffles.  Those freebies helped to keep the meals interesting.

Is my pantry bare?  No.  One of the things that I wanted to make sure of was that we had plenty of food just in case there were some sort of emergency while we were on this challenge.  I also didn’t want to deplete our stockpile to the point of having to start over completely in March.  We’re at the point where we still have plenty of food but have cleared out a lot of the things that needed to be used.  When I look at the freezer, I’m relieved to see space in there.  We have just committed to buying 1/8 of a steer, which is something we’ve never done before.  I have no idea what that will look like when I get it home, and I’m hoping that we have the room for it all. 

In March we’ll continue to eat from our stockpile of foods as we start to build it back up again.  I hope for us to use some more lamb, the last package of dove, some of the canned salmon, and more of the frozen stores from last  year’s garden.  I’ve already made calls to order a few cases of goods at Three Rivers Market and am placing a Frontier order with friends later in the week.  The trick now will be to add foods that we need without going shopping crazy.

If you haven’t yet tried a challenge such as I’ve mentioned above, I encourage you to do so.  Having an adequate supply of food is an important part of emergency preparedness.  The government recommends that you have 2 weeks of food and water for your family at your house.  Eating from storage, even if it is only for a week, gives you a better sense of where the food gaps are and what you need to do to better prepare your family.  With rising food and gas prices, it is even more important for all of us to learn how to be better stewards of the resources we have.  This challenge certainly has helped me to do so, and I hope that those of you who participated found that it did the same for you. 

Thank you to all who participated, commented, and emailed me about the challenge.  It was fun to participate in it with all of you.  I learned from each of you and was inspired!   

Tip of the day—print those coupons

It is the end of the month.  Many printable coupon sites refresh their list of coupons at the first of the month.  Now is your chance to print any that you want to make sure you have!  For one of the most comprehensive listings of printable coupons that I’ve found, I encourage you to check out Organic Deals and Coupons. She has a great site that focuses on natural, healthy, and organic foods, and to top it all off, she’s also a really nice gal!

February 27, 2011

Organic Coupons from the Knoxville Coupon Fair

Print The coupons below were handed out at the coupon fair this weekend at the Three Rivers Market booth.  Wasn’t that an amazing booth???  I’ve updated the coupon matchups for TRM that are good now through 3/1/11.  Be sure to use the $1/$5 store coupon when you are shopping!

$1/2 cans of Muir Glen Soup

FREE Bottle of Honest Tea or Honest Ade

Buy 5 Bottles of Honest Tea and Get 1 for FREE

$7 in Savings Book

  • $1/1 Box of Cascadian Farm Cereal
  • $1/1 Box of Cascadian Farm Granola Bars
  • $1/1 Cascadian Farm Frozen Vegetables or Frozen Fruit
  • $1/1 Jar of Muir Glen Pasta Sauce
  • $1/1 can of Muir Glen Soup
  • $1/1 can any variety/flavor Muir Glen Tomatoes
  • $1/2 Larabar or Jocolat bars

Annie’s Coupon Book

  • $1/2 Annie’s Organic and Natural Pasta Meals
  • 75ct/1 Annie’s Dressing, BBQ Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Ketchup or Mustard
  • $1/1 Annie’s Cereal
  • 75ct/1 Annie’s Cookies, Crackers or Snack Mix (Minimum purchase of $1.99)
  • $1/1 Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks (Minimum purchase of $1.99)

75ct/1 Organic Valley product

$1/3 Liberte 5 oz Yogurts

A Happy Thought

     CIMG1304And Jesus looking upon them saith,

With men it is impossible, but not with God:

for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27 (KJV)

Tip of the day—What I learned from the Knoxville Coupon Fair

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  • Only at a coupon fair will you see women standing in line for the bathroom exchanging couponing tips.
  • Couponers “get it”.  One amazing couponer—Amy--at the event was waiting in line for a sample and cleaning out her coupon binder.  She drew a crowd who started to ask questions.  She spent the next hour explaining how to organize coupons and save money to people who passed by.  Christy of Thrifty Christy was kind enough to share her booth with Amy who then shared the information from an official space.  How cool is it that she was willing to spend much of her time at the coupon fair sharing her knowledge with others!!  Couponers want to share the information.  It is so fun for us to get deals and save money, and we want to spread the coupon love to others. 
  • Only at a coupon fair will you see people show up over an hour early excited and ready to go into the event…ok, maybe you see that at garage sales too but not with as much zeal!
  • Only at a coupon fair will you see people jam packed like sardines into a space yet with smiles on their faces and excitement to be present.  I also learned that the event next year will have to be reworked so that we can accommodate the large crowd.  We are already thinking about that issue!  Thanks to everyone for being so patient!
  • It reinforced for me how different stores are on different areas of towns and in different cities.  Some people talked to me about their Kroger store not being as coupon friendly, and I had nothing but good things to say about the Fountain City Kroger store.  I think that it varies from place to place and even from clerk to clerk.  If you have problems at your store, I always recommend phoning the store manager to talk about your experience and learn ways to make it better next time. 
  • I learned from Staci of Silver Lining Quality Children’s Consignment that you can call CVS if you have problems with items being in stock.  She phoned the store line who almost immediately phoned her back to make arrangements for Electrosol detergents to be sent to her local store when they were running a huge sale on them. 
  • I learned that even through adversity couponers are happy to share the couponing message.  Some couponers had some hiccups and problems the week of the fair, yet those present were happy to be there and enthusiastic to be greeting so many guests.  Even those unable to attend sent worksheets and well wishes for the fair.
  • I learned that people really want education.  Many couponers who were in attendance said that they would really want a coupon workshop in the future.  I’m already pondering ways to make that event happen. 
  • I learned that when I’m tired, I’m not as good of an environmental steward.  I’m still kicking myself for throwing away papers instead of walking an extra 20 feet and recycling them. 
  • I learned to trust in God more.  I’m human y’all.  When things get overwhelming I start to doubt and despair.  God proves His love and guidance over and over again to me.  I’m reminded of the book of Job when God answers Job, and I’m humbled.  There were lots of things that happened the week of and before the event, and yet, God had His hand in all of it.  He wanted yesterday to happen, and it did.
  • I learned that I have one of the most amazing church families everFaith UMC is such a great church with people who really live and breathe the word of Christ.  The youth group (the Wolf Pack as they are called) came in full force to help with childcare.   The photo above is one of our gentle giants holding one of the sweetest babies ever!  The women of the church brought in treat after treat for the hospitality table.  The sanctuary was a mess at the end of the day and within about 20 minutes the volunteers had it straightened and ready for services.  Three really wonderful guys manned the parking lot to help make sure we had as good of traffic flow as we could.  Many hands make light work.  People kept talking about me being the event coordinator for the fair, but OUR CHURCH was the event coordinator. 

February 26, 2011

The Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair Photos

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Hot deal on organic cheese—Knoxville

IMG01915-20110226-1651 If you are located in or around the Gibbs area of town, you might want to run over to the IGA there.  My friend Allison just emailed me a fantastic deal on organic cheese—only $2.49!  What a great price!  Thanks, Allison!!!

Coupon Handout #3—Donating Freebies and Money Saving Basics

 DSC_5186 Donating

Above is a photo of Margaret of Blue Frog Creations who posts weekly on Couponing for Charity.  She gives you information on where to buy items for free or super cheap so that you can give back to your community. 

Couponers quickly learn that they can buy many items for free with coupons, sales, rewards programs, or rebates. One of the beauties of couponing for me is that our family is able to donate so much to help others. Below is a list of places in the Knoxville area that accept donations.

  • Interfaith Health Clinic located near Three Rivers Market near Broadway and Central will accept many toiletry items (315 Gill Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37917, Telephone: 865.546.7330).  They are most in need of dental care items (toothbrushes, paste, floss, etc).  Larger communities often have a free clinic or sliding scale clinic.  Phone 211 find one near you.
  • Catholic Charities  (see Father Ragan Shriver) will accept most anything as well.  Father Ragan really appreciated the box of blood glucose meters I recently donated last year to their program. (Administrative Offices--3009 Lake Brook Boulevard, Knoxville TN 37909, Phone 865-524-9896  Fax 865-971-3575, E-mail: info@ccetn.org )
  • Wesley House is a local community center sponsored by the Methodist Church.  They are in need of everything from toiletry items to cleaning supplies to baby wipes. (Wesley House Community Center
    923 Dameron Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee 37921, Phone: 865.524.5494)
  • Women's Shelters and Homeless Shelters will also accept donations such as these.  I have a friend who volunteers with the Serenity Shelter (domestic violence) who I often give our extras to for the women there. (Serenity Shelter, P.O. Box 3352, Knoxville, TN 37927, Business # 615-673-6551)
  • If you are making a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, these items can be used in those as well.   Shoeboxes can be sent year-round to Samaritan's Purse, 801 Bamboo Rd., Boone, NC 28607, Call 1-800-353-5949 for more information.
  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities often offer bingo as an activity for residents.  Contact the recreational therapist to see if he/she can use these for prizes.  
  • Most any food pantry will accept these items, as food stamps do not provide an allowance for toiletries and cleaning supplies.  I’ve been so pleased to see how happy these items make the recipients of our food boxes at Faith UMC’s pantry. 
  • One more thought is that if you have any friends who are teachers, they might like to have them for their classrooms.  My sister is a teacher in Memphis, and she often encounters kids who need basic supplies and hygiene items. 

The basics of money-saving at home

Develop a budget

Stop wasting! Waste not, want not.

Try to use less

Do more for yourself

Save on everything you buy Whenever possible, look at what you need to buy and think of a way to get it for less money.

Stockpile Your stockpile will become a sort of emergency fund. I have a stockpile of cleaning supplies, canned and dry goods, paper products, and toiletries. The trick to stockpiling is to store what you use and use what you store.

Develop an emergency fund Many of us are in really trying times right now. The less debt you have the more able you are to save and thrive. If you do not have any extra money in your budget, then start very small. Start with change in a piggy bank, having a garage sale, selling something on e-bay or a consignment shop, whatever you can do to save for when an emergency might come up.

Make your needs known Pray about your situation. Thank God for what you have. Let friends know that you are couponing, and you’d love to have their extras. If you need to go to a food bank or get on food stamps, do so. Reciprocate when you can.

Do something for someone else I know it sounds strange, but I have found in my life that the more you give the more you receive. If you find that you have an extra coupon someone else could use, pass it on. If you hear about a great deal, spread the word. Volunteer when you can. Get to know your neighbors. When we focus on what we do not have, we feel desperate. When we focus on what we can do, we feel empowered.

Coupon Handout #2—Where to find coupons

DSC_5173 Where can I find coupons?

Buy the Sunday paper when coupons are scheduled. There are some weeks per year that there will not be coupons in the paper. Check www.southernsavers.com for a listing of when and what coupons are scheduled for the year.

Always check your paper to make sure that the coupons are in it before purchase. If you have a delivery subscription and find that they were left out, call the newspaper.

Check the coupon circulars, Parade magazine, and the pages of the newspaper for all of the coupons. Typically you will find coupons for places like A.C. Moore and Hobby Lobby mixed in with the news.

Look into a purchase of Wal-mart’s All You magazine and when reading other magazines keep your eyes peeled for coupons. There are often great coupons in All You, but they are in other magazines as well. If at a doctor’s office, ask permission to cut out the coupon.

Sign up for company paper newsletters and e-newsletters. If you find you like a particular product, go to the company’s website to look and see if they have printable coupons or a newsletter option. You can score some really great deals with those coupons!

Sign up as a Facebook fan. This is a great way to stay up-to-date about new deals, coupons, and freebies.

If you cannot find a coupon for a product you like and use, call or e-mail the company to request one.

Sign up for free samples. Often these will include a coupon. Go to www.walmart.com and search “free samples”. Blog sites such as www.moneysavingmom.com and www.commonsensewithmoney.com are good sites to trust for signing up for samples that will not inundate your e-mail box with spam.

Ask your friends, family, and neighbor for coupons that they might not need or want.

Go to printable coupon sites. For a full listing of organic coupons and many other printable coupon sites, visit http://www.organicdeals.blogspot.com/ and look on the right hand column for links. Most printable sites will allow you to print 2 coupons per item. However, some sites are becoming more stringent.

Sign up for store cards and programs. Food City has a Kids Club in which children are sent coupons for free items at the grocery. Kroger will mail you coupons periodically. Walgreens and CVS have e-newsletters which will have information on sales and coupons available. Three Rivers Market offers share owners (a $25 year fee) a 10% discount on bulk purchases and a 10% discount on local products.

If you shop at Kroger, you can load coupons onto your Kroger Plus card. These websites offer loadable coupons:

· www.cellfire.com You DO NOT have to use your cell phone to load coupons.

· www.shortcuts.com

· www.kroger.com There are loadable coupons available there as well. Look for “digital coupons”.

At any of these you can print out a list of loaded coupons. I highly recommend this so that you do not forget what you have on your card.

Blogs for review: Go to the “Links” tab to find my favorite blogs.

Coupon Handout #1—How to Start Couponing and Coupon Lingo

DSC_5192 Below you’ll find the information from one of my coupon handouts from today’s Knoxville Coupon Fair.  Please let me know if you have any questions. (Note that the photo was taken near the end of the day and my booth looks a little sparse.  We had over 600 people present today—what a great crowd!)

How Do I Start Couponing?

Set time aside, be consistent, and start small

1. Buy the newspaper and review the coupons and sales ads

2. Either cut coupons you think will be good coupons or cut every coupon.

3. If you selectively cut out coupons, file the rest of the circular by date

4. File coupons you have clipped

5. Review the circulars to find coupon match-ups or save time by reviewing the blog sites that do this for you

6. Make your shopping list

7. Review what other items you may need at the grocery and look on the computer to find printables

8. File coupons you will be using that week in a separate section of your coupon organizer in order to save time at the store

Developing a needs list for the month will help you shop the coupons and sales. (If you know you are about to run out of toilet paper and need to buy it before the month is up, you can watch for a coupon match up and sale. In contrast, if you didn’t have a plan you might pay full price or a marked up price on the same toilet paper because you bought it when you were about to run out.)

Sign up for freebies and newsletters as you become more familiar with what is available. You might chose to use an alternate e-mail account so that your inbox is not overloaded with spam.

Monthly review your couponing system, manage your stockpiles, and recycle coupons that may have expired

Coupon Lingo, Abbreviations, and Definitions

OOP—Out of pocket, the amount you spend once all sales, promotions, and coupons have been deducted from your total

Overage—You made money. If you buy a can of tomatoes that is on sale for 85 cents and you have a $1 off coupon, you’ve made 15 cents of overage. Some stores do not allow this.

Catalina—this is a coupon that prints out with your receipt. It is named after the company that makes the machine. Catalinas are often money makers. Example: on the store shelf you see a tag that says, “Buy 2 French’s mustards between dates 3/1/09-3/31/09 and get $1 off your next purchase.” The mustards each cost $1.19, and you have two 50 cent off coupons. These coupons are each doubled. You spend 19 cents OOP (then tax) and get back $1 catalina for your next purchase. These have expiration dates just like coupons, but usually with a much more limited time.

Printable—a coupon off of the internet, which you can print on your home computer. You are often allowed two prints per printer, unless it specifically says differently. To save time you can hit the go back arrow on your computer and then hit refresh to print two. Photocopying of printables is not allowed. If a coupon is e-mailed to your inbox, it often has a specific code number on it for the manufacturer to keep a tally. If you set your printer to print multiple copies of the same coupon, this is fraud. Not only is it unethical, but your store will be out of money because the company can refuse to pay on more than one.

Loadable—a coupon that can be loaded onto your Kroger Plus Card.

Blinkie—a coupon placed on a store aisle directly beside the product that the coupon is for. Often the machine that doles them out has a small blinking red light on it.

Peelie—a coupon that is attached to an item, usually meant to be used immediately.

RR—Register Reward. A catalina from Walgreens. These cannot be rolled onto the next transaction when you buy the same item. Example: Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $2.99 and you get a $2.99 RR for your next purchase. If you buy one toothpaste in one transaction a $2.99 RR will print. If you do another transaction and try to buy the toothpaste with that original RR, a second RR will not print out. You can, however, use these on other products that have RR. Transaction 1—buy toothpaste for $2.99 and earn a RR for $2.99. Transaction 2—buy 5 brownie mixes on sale and use the $2.99 RR to pay for part of it. These often expire the following week to two weeks.

ECB—Extra Care Buck. A catalina from CVS. These can be rolled from one transaction to another because you will use your CVSAdvantage card which keeps a tally of how many items are bought. CVS deals will often have a limit per customer. These also have a more limited expiration date.

Rolling deals—using money earned from one deal to pay for another so that your OOP is limited. Example: Spend $5 OOP at CVS and earn a $5 ECB. Complete another transaction in which you spend that original $5 ECB and earn a $6 ECB, etc. There are people who claim to have been rolling ECBs for years.

Stacking—using a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon at the same time. Stores vary on their policies on doing so. Target, Walgreens, and CVS will allow valid store coupons and manufacturer coupons.

Filler—Walgreens will only allow your total amount of coupons (store and manufacturers) to equal the amount of items you are purchasing. So, if you want to buy 1 candy bar and have a Walgreens sale ad coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon, you will have to add another small item to your purchase to be able to use both coupons. At Walgreens, your catalina counts as a manufacturer coupon.

Stockpile—the extra items that you buy and accumulate each week. Once you establish a small stockpile of items for your home, start donating extras to food banks, shelters, etc.

Managing your stockpile—this is an extremely important part of being a good steward of what you have. If you let toothpaste go beyond its expiration, and it goes in the trash can, it is a waste of resources whether it was free or not. When you put items in your pantry, put the newest item in the back. Use the item that is closest to expiration first.

Hoarding—the diagnostic manual definition of hoarding is differed from what we call stockpiling based on whether or not the action is functional or dysfunctional in the eyes of the person, the culture, and those close to the person. People who hoard often save things with no value other than seen in that person’s eyes, or if the item has value it is often not used within its intended time frame.

Circulars—coupon ads inside of the newspaper or weekly store ads in the newspaper.

Loss Leader—an advertised deal that is sold at a price that is often cheaper than the store bought it at. These are used to get you in the store so that you will purchase other items that you need from your grocery list.

Generics—a house or store brand of a given item. Many of these have a satisfaction guarantee. There are coupons on occasion for these offered through the store.

Cost per unit—Most stores have a price per weight or item in small writing on the shelf tag. Due to the recession, many products have shrunk in size, but are still priced the same. A “pint” of ice cream may only be 12 ounces, rather than 16! Knowing the prices of the items isn’t all you need to know, you also need to know what is a good price per unit.

Warehouse store—Sam’s or Costco

Bulk purchase—buying more of an item in order to get a discounted rate per unit. Bulk items can also refer to the section of health foods stores where you can use your own containers or a bag to purchase as much or as little of an item as needed. Example: at Three Rivers Market, you can often purchase bulk spices at a MUCH reduced rate than the jars in a grocery store. Because the turnover rate is high, you are often getting fresher items.

Mark down—an item that is about to expire that is reduced in price for quick sale.

Turnover rate—how fast an item is sold out and restocked.

Brand Loyalty—shopping at only the same stores every week. Buying the same type of a product each time. “I only buy Tide” “I only drink Mayfield’s.” Companies start building on brand loyalty almost at birth—think Disney Princesses on packages of juice or cereal.

Rebate—purchasing an item and receiving something from the company in return (purchase price, part of a purchase price, or a free item such as a toy or book). It is important to complete these as soon as you get home from purchasing the item. Read the fine print of the rebate carefully and make sure you include everything you should. I often make a copy of the rebate so that if there is a problem I will be able to contact the manufacturer.

Tweebie—a freebie offered through Twitter notification.

Welcome Knoxville Coupon Fair Attendees!

174736_186621884700171_914000_n Welcome to all of you who are stopping by after visiting The Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair! We had such a fun time today and are so glad that so many of you chose to spend your morning with us. We had double the amount of people visiting as compared to last year at more than 600 in attendance. At one point in the morning we were a little crowded and so appreciate everyone’s sweet spirits and patience as we did some troubleshooting. Thank you to all who stopped by my booth and took the time to introduce yourselves. It was such a joy to meet so many of you and to talk about one of my favorite subjects—saving money!

A great big thank you goes out to Faith UMC for being the hosts of this fantastic event. Thank you to the many coupon experts who helped to organize and plan for the event. Thank you to the businesses who offered resource booths, freebies, door prizes, and coupons. We are so appreciative to all of you for making today happen!

As you visit the blog, I hope that you’ll find some of the tips and techniques on helpful to you and your family. To get you started stretching your dollars, I suggest looking under the “Saving $” tab that you’ll find on the top of the blog. There you’ll find information on how to shop smart at the grocery store, saving money on organics, meal planning, stockpiling and many other savvy shopping tools. You can also look under the “Ways to Save” label on the left hand column of the blog where you’ll find even more tips.

I welcome your feedback and any sales or coupon information you’d like to share with other readers. You can e-mail me by using the link that I’ve provided, and I welcome your comments. You can sign up as a Google Follower on the left hand column and can subscribe to my RSS feed there as well. You can also find Couponing in Critical Times on Facebook.

Thanks for dropping in! I hope to see you again soon. Now, I’m off to take a little cat nap. It has been a jam packed morning! ;)

What a way to start the day! 200 Followers!

I’m up and getting ready for the coupon fair this morning, and I hopped on the blog.  How exciting to have reached the milestone of 200 followers!  You have no idea how pumped that made me this morning!!!

Thanks to all of you sweet readers.  You brighten my days with your kind words, enthusiasm for saving money, and precious spirits!

Tip of the day—come to the coupon fair

If you are in the East TN area, your tip of the day is to attend the Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair today from 9am-12pm at Faith UMC. I hope to see you there!

If you are outside of the East TN area, I encourage you to check your coupon binder and clear out any expired coupons to make way for a new batch in March. Happy Couponing!

February 25, 2011

Tip of the day—Coupon with a Friend

One great way to have access to extra coupons is to coupon with a friend or family member.  I have a friend at church who coupons with three pals.  They each receive a paper on Sunday, look through the paper to cut out the coupons that they want or plan to use.  When they are done, they pass the coupons to each other so that the other two are able to cut out any that they want or need.  After they complete the rotation, they donate the rest to our Coupons for Christ ministry at church

February 24, 2011

Day 24—Challenge Update

As you might have seen, I’ve had a February Eat from the Pantry Challenge rolling along.  Some readers and other bloggers are participating, and we’ve had a good time so far.  I’d call it a good time, gals—wouldn’t you?  I feel such a sense of accomplishment to have cleaned out much of the pantry and made sure food wasn’t wasting.  We only have a few more days left, and my husband said that he thinks we should keep going into March.  This is the sweet guy who about a month ago thought we might starve when I proposed the idea.  ;)  He’s been nothing but supportive, and I’m so lucky to have a guy who is willing to take part in my crazy challenges. 

Breakfast—Today we had scrambled eggs and toast with jam and cream cheese

Lunch—Hubby had a fancy-smancy work luncheon (can you tell I’m jealous?).  He was kind enough to bring daughter and I home a little plate of dessert.  Daughter and I had clam chowder and fruit salad. 

Supper—Sausage patties, creamed corn, peas, and fruit salad for dessert.  I FINALLY got rid of the last can of creamed corn!  Hallelujah!

What did I learn today?

I can’t imagine ever buying another can of creamed corn ever again!  Isn’t that a lesson enough??

Making lunch the night before makes the morning routine much easier.  Tonight I baked up the last two sweet potatoes while I was cooking supper and prepped them so that they would be ready to heat up for lunch tomorrow.  I’ll pack one in our daughter’s lunch and one for me.  (Hubby prefers sandwiches).  I cut up some celery sticks and doled some of the fruit salad out into smaller containers.  I’m hoping this means I can sleep in for an extra five or ten minutes.  We’ll see…

What about you--Are your cupboards bare?  What does your fridge and freezer look like?  Still plenty of food or are you making a serious dent in the stores?

Chick-fil-a FREE Waffle Fries on March 4th

187811_203699682979600_1887782_n Mark your calendars!  It looks like Knoxville Chick-fil-as are participating in this event! 

Like our waffle fries? Then, you’re REALLY going to love Friday, March 4.
An innovation in ketchup calls for a celebration. Between 2 and 4 pm local time, ketchup lovers who ask for Heinz Dip & Squeeze and the Free FryDay promotion at all Chick-fil-A restaurants will receive a FREE medium order of Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato Fries®, limit one per customer.
Now the question remains, to dip or to squeeze? Pick a side and change the way you eat ketchup on-the-go.

Thanks Saving and Giving!

Kohl’s Shopping Pass=15% off

174598_17648521247_7286982_n Use this coupon Feb 25-Feb 27th at Kohl’s for 15% off.  Remember that Kohl’s allows you to use this on regular, clearance, and sale priced items. 

Dollar General—FREE Ruffles and Gain Dryer Sheets

RufflesYesterday I hopped into Dollar General for a quick run through.  I picked up FREE Gain Dryer Sheets with the $3 off coupon from a couple of weeks ago.  Also, I FINALLY found the Ruffles bags priced at 99cts!  If you scored this great coupon and haven’t been able to find the Ruffles in stores, you might want to drop by Dollar General before it expires.  Happy Shopping!

New Cellfire and Shortcuts Coupons

Food inflation © Tetra Images/Corbis Load ‘em up!  There are some new Cellfire and Shortcuts coupons available, some of which match to the Kroger Mega Event Sale this week! 

Reminder—The Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair is THIS WEEKEND!

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We look forward to seeing you soon! Check out this post for more even more information on the fair and “Like” us on Facebook for the most up-to-date information about Saturday.

The Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair will take place on Saturday, February 26th from 9am-12n at Faith United Methodist Church in Knoxville. Attendance is free and childcare is provided. Local coupon and money saving experts will be present to give one-on-one attention to participants. Attendees can browse the booths, ask couponing questions, and hone their money saving skills. People new to couponing will especially benefit from the many instructional handouts that experts will provide. Participants are encouraged to bring extra coupons and “freebies” to trade.

As you may have seen, unfortunately Coupon Katie and Knoxville Mamabelle will be unable to attend this year’s event due to illness. Please keep both of them in your thoughts and prayers. Coupon Katie has provided two handouts for attendees to the fair—you can still gain from her knowledge even though she won’t be present.

Coupon Bloggers and Resource Booths—Margaret of Blue Frog Creations, Gabrielle of Couponing in Critical Times, Katie of Coupon Katie, Jennifer of Coupon Mommie, Christy of Coupons are Money, Melissa of Frugalissa Finds, Hannah of Frugally Farming Family, Isha of Knoxville Mamabelle, Kathryn of Knoxville on a Dime, Julie of Sharing Savings with You, Earth Fare, KARM Thrift Stores, The Knoxville News Sentinel, Kroger of Fountain City, One Call Club for Seniors, Rebecca’s Coupons and Forms, Regions Bank, Silver Lining Quality Children’s Consignment, and Three Rivers Market

Topics to be addressed—Organizing your coupons, Learning the Coupon Lingo, Shopping at Walgreens and CVS, Couponing at Target, Saving Money on Organics, Meal Planning, Growing and Preserving Your Own Foods, Healthy Lunch Options, Saving Money on Items for Babies and Children, Learning New Coupon Technology, Group Buying Sites, Couponing for Charity, Thrift Store Shopping, Consignment Shopping, and Saving Seniors Money.

Faith United Methodist Church is located on the corner of Dry Gap Pike and Rifle Range Road at 1120 Dry Gap Pike, Knoxville, TN 37918. For more information, contact Gabrielle Blake at Couponingincriticaltimes@gmail.com or phone Faith United Methodist Church at 865-688-1000. In the event of inclement weather, please go to the church website at www.faithseekers.org for updates on cancellation or rescheduling.

Puleo’s Grille—Great Knoxville Groupon Deal!

Puleos-grille

There is a great Groupon Deal today!  Puleo’s Grille is offering a $30 gift certificate for only $15!!  Check out my post here to learn more about why I love Puleo’s.

FREE Lip Faves Set with $25 Bath & Body Works Online Purchase

Online Only! One Day Only! What a Sweet Treat! FREE Lip Faves Set With Any $25 Order! PLUS FREE Shipping on Orders of $65 or More! Valid in the Contiguous U.S. Only*  Enter Code LIPFAVES65 Online at Checkout

 

Today only when you order $25 or more through Bath & Body Works you’ll receive a FREE Lip Faves Set, while supplies last.  Enter code LIPFAVES65 at checkout. Happy Shopping!

Tip of the day—Dates on circulars

If you are choosing the clipless couponing method, then this tip is for you.  If you get behind on dating and filing your coupon circulars, look on the binder of the circular.  It should have the date of publication and the newspaper with which it was published there. 

Not sure what the clipless method is?  I prefer this method because I use so many coupon circulars each week couponing for us, my dad, and our church.  If I were to cut out every coupon in the paper, I would be swimming in coupons from week to week.  Instead, I look through the circular and cut out only the ones that I know for sure I will use.  Then I file the coupon inserts under date.  When I look through matchups at blogs like Southern Savers, I hone in on the deals that are good buys.  In those matchups, she tells you what week and insert to find the coupons, and I cut the coupons I need at that point.  If I need to buy something that week and a deal is not noted in the matchup, I go to Taylor Town Preview and search the master list for a coupon I need.  I use a variation of the clipless method since I do a little preliminary clipping.  Others file the circulars and do not clip until they are making their grocery list and searching through the matchups.

As with anything, do what works for you.  I have many couponing friends who prefer to cut every single coupon and file them in their binders.  Try both ways and see what is easiest for you and your family.

Enter to Win a Gift Basket at Earth Fare

Enter Today!

Click the picture above to learn how to enter to win with Earth Fare.

You got your free dinner coupon…now, are you ready to WIN? Today could be your lucky day!

Each of our stores is hosting a contest on their Facebook page. All YOU have to do is find your store in the list below, click through, and enter to win!

Find the post that says “What makes your house a healthy home?” and leave your answer as a comment. On Friday, February 25 at 5:00 pm Eastern Time, each store will choose a winner, and YOU could be one of them!

The rules: Entries must be received by 5:00 pm Eastern Time on Friday, February 25, 2010. Winners must pick up their gift basket in person at their local Earth Fare store by Friday, March 4, 2010. Gift baskets will not be shipped, held, or exchanged for cash.

March Complimentary Technique Classes at Williams-Sonoma=10% off

March at Your Local Williams-Sonoma

COMPLIMENTARY TECHNIQUE CLASSES

Attend one of our classes and enjoy 10% savings* on same-day purchases from our stores. Each hour-long class is dedicated to a specific topic led by one of our culinary experts. Class size is limited, so reserve your space today.

COMPLIMENTARY DEMONSTRATIONS

Regularly scheduled demonstrations focus on seasonal foods and entertaining. Demonstrations do not require reservations.

Sunday, March 27

Great Grains & Legumes

How well do you know your grains and legumes? We’ll take the mystery out
of selecting and cooking these nutritional powerhouses. Cooking techniques,
seasoning and serving suggestions will be the highlights of this class.

Sunday, March 6

Classic Steakhouse Starters

In classic American steakhouses, the food is good and filling. This class will
teach you how to make tasty starters like stuffed mushrooms, onion rings,
French onion soup, and a wedge salad topped with blue cheese dressing.
These are the kind of appetizers that can be called a meal.

 

Sunday, March 13

Steak & Chops

It’s the main event at the American steakhouse: the meat! This class covers
basic butchery lingo—grading, marbling, aging, cuts of meat, and more—
so you’re in the know the next time you’re ordering steak or chops. When it
comes to cooking your own steaks, learn how “done” is done, plus toppings
that make your cut mouthwatering.

Sunday, March 20

Steakhouse Sides

A great steak deserves a great side dish. In this class, we’ll share the secrets
of creamy creamed spinach, perfectly sautéed mushrooms, and other
steakhouse classics. The recipes will also come in handy when making sides
for all kinds of home-cooked dinners.

February 23, 2011

Tip of the day—Check the date

Late last week, I made a trip across town to Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick up a soccer start pack for our daughter.  It is her first year playing soccer, and we needed the supplies because her first practice was the following day.  I played basketball in middle school and high school, and other than having really great friends in college who played soccer, I didn’t know what we needed and how much to expect it to cost.  Because I’m a member of the Dick’s Sporting Goods loyalty program, we had received a printable coupon in my inbox for $15/$50. 

After flagging down a person to help us (it was a busy evening for them) and asking a few teenagers who were shopping in the soccer section about gear, we finally decided on what to buy.  Then I did it.  I pulled out the fantastic coupon that was going to allow us to buy the soccer socks and shorts for free, and I realized it expired 3 days before.  I cringed.  How could I have failed to check the expiration date???  Not only had we driven across town but we really needed the supplies for the next day. 

I asked one of the clerks at the front of the store if there were any chance that they might honor the coupon.  I explained the situation and that it was my fault because I hadn’t looked more closely.  I think that he knew that I was genuine, and he said that they would honor it given the situation.  I can’t tell you how grateful I was and how relieved! 

Two morals of this story--

1.  Always read your coupons well. Check the expiration dates and any exclusions or conditions made in the fine print.

2.  If you have an expired coupon, you can ask a clerk or manager if they will honor it.  Not all stores will honor expired coupons but some are happy to do so.  I’m not sure what Dick’s corporate stance is on this and can only say what happened in my experience.  I will add that I left a happy customer.  I was a little grumpy that I had to find someone to help me when I entered the store, but the customer service I received after that point left me with a good feeling about the store and workers.  While I understand that not all stores can honor expired coupons and I NEVER recommend that someone try and take advantage when a store is willing to do so, I think that stores come out ahead when they take the coupons.  I’m much more likely to visit that store again when we need any sporting goods because of the care I received there last week.

February 22, 2011

Days 21 & 22 Eat from the Pantry Challenge Update

It is the week of the Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair, and I’ve been a busy gal.  We are so excited about this year’s event, and I’m trying to make sure everything is ready for all of the guests to arrive.  Forgive me in advance if I’m not blogging as often.  As I said last year, the irony of organizing a coupon fair is that you aren’t as focused on coupons because of getting ready for the event. 

Breakfasts—yesterday we ate leftover cinnamon rolls and bacon.  Today we had cereal and milk

Lunches—Yesterday: PBJ and crackers for me.  Turkey and cheese sandwiches for Hubby and daughter. Today:  PBJ for our daughter.  Turkey and ham sandwich for me.  Ham sandwich for Hubby.

Supper—Yesterday:  Leftovers.  We had some leftover butternut squash, corn, crowder peas, saffron rice, and chicken from the weekend. Tonight:  Leftover chili mac, a few taquitos I pulled from the freezer, leftover butternut squash, leftover crowder peas, and dressed salad greens.

What did I learn today?

I must say, the temptation of going out to a restaurant has been on my mind a lot lately.  It would be so easy to justify going out to eat each and every night this week.  “I’m just too busy.”  “I don’t feel like cooking”.  Yet, the very act of writing those words down on this blog reaffirms my commitment to pulling out some dishes from the fridge and pantry for us to have at home.  I’m always so proud of myself when I resist the urge to go out and we eat at home.

I really enjoy grocery shopping.  It is fun for me, and I get a little thrill out of scoring good deals.  Since I haven’t been doing as much shopping for our family this month, shopping for the church has helped me get that fix.  While I could easily break my challenge and go buy a bunch of super cheap stuff at Kroger, Ingles, and Target this week (it is triple coupon week at Ingles, for Pete’s sake!), I realize that deals will roll around again. 

Other couponers “get it”.  Whenever I have a large order, I try to tell the person behind me in line that I’ll be using coupons and I might take a little longer.  I tell them I’m not trying to scare them off, but I want them to know in case they are in a hurry.  Most often people seem to appreciate this.  The kindest remarks are from other couponers.  Today a lady was behind me in line and said that she was also a couponer and didn’t mind at all, and as we talked I told her about the coupon fair this weekend.  Later in the afternoon, I saw a reader at the park, and we started talking about the deals this week.  When her daughter pulled a granola bar out of her bag for a snack, I smiled and said, “I know where you bought that!”  There is a camaraderie to couponing, and I think it centers around so many of us wanting to share the news of great deals.  I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made through couponing!

We’re in the home stretch now—almost a month has gone by!  What have you been learning about yourself, your food storage, your family through this experience?

Kroger—FREE Starkist and Cheap Voskos Yogurt

banner_logo_header In addition to the great sale prices you’ll see at Kroger this week as part of the Mega Event Sale, you might want to pick up some tuna and yogurt. 

  • This new Starkist link for 50ct/1 coupon when doubled makes the pouches FREE this week. 
  • Check near the Voskos Yogurt for hang tag coupons that are for 75cts/1.  They are priced at $1/1, making the yogurt only 25cts each.  Since we’ve already used our $1/1 printable coupons, we were very happy to see this hang tag!

Today I decided to stock up for the children’s program at church, planning ahead for VBS this summer.  We bought $119.11 worth of products for $52.11 and we still have another $12 OYNOs to spend on future orders.  This makes the total OOP $40.11 and a savings of 66.33%! 

I just placed a small order for our family since I’m still in the February Eat from the Pantry Challenge, and I could kick myself for forgetting to pick up the free Mentos gum at the register.  Oh well!

New $1/1 Stayfree Ultra Thins Coupon

logo_stayfree_pages

The $1/1 Stayfree coupons are good ones to print and have on hand for the next sale.  You can almost always get these for under $1 or maybe even free with coupons and sale.  Watch for the best deals at CVS and Walgreens on maxis with catalina promotions.

Target Denim Coupon=Free or cheap jeans

45_womens_denim_c3_100 Use the new $5 off denim coupon from Target and shop clearance racks for some free or super cheap jeans!  Target coupons are great!

Tip of the day—Check the girls

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

February 21, 2011

Welcome WATE Watchers!

14069117_BG1 Welcome to all of you who are stopping by from WATE!  If you’d like to read more of my tips and thoughts on generics, you can go to this post for more information.  Last year our family saved a little over $4000 on groceries by using coupons, opting for generics when we didn’t have coupons for products we needed, and smart shopping strategies.  I hope that you’ll find some of the tips and techniques on this blog helpful to you and your family!

As WATE mentioned at the end of the article, The Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair is taking place this weekend at Faith UMC on Saturday, Feb. 26th from 9am-12pm.  Admission is free and childcare is provided.  For more information, you can view the frequently asked questions post.  I hope you’ll join us!

To get you started stretching your dollars, I suggest looking under the “Saving $” tab that you’ll find on the top of the blog.  There you’ll find information on how to shop smart at the grocery store, saving money on organics, meal planning, stockpiling and many other savvy shopping tools.  You can also look under the “Ways to Save” label on the left hand column of the blog where you’ll find even more tips. 

I welcome your feedback and any sales or coupon information you’d like to share with other readers.  You can e-mail me by using the link that I’ve provided, and I welcome your comments.  You can also find Couponing in Critical Times on Facebook.

Thanks for dropping in!  I hope to see you again soon!

Winner Chosen--Don’t forget the $5 Walgreens Gift Card Giveaway!

71118_117497138610_413912_n Sarah M. was the winner of the $5 gift card to Walgreens!  Congratulations!

Sign up for the giveaway here if you haven’t already done so.  Good luck!  I’ll draw a winner tomorrow.

Tip of the day—Brown Sugar

If your brown sugar gets hard, you have a few options to soften it.  If you’ll be using it right away, you can microwave it in 5 second increments until the sugar softens enough to measure and use.  If you will be storing it for longer, you can wet a clean piece of terra cotta (one never used in the garden) and put it in the container.  You can do the same thing with a half of an apple or a piece of bread.  Check it after a day to see if it has softened.  If it hasn’t  yet, check it daily until it does.  You’ll want to make sure that the bread doesn’t mold and the apple doesn’t become mushy.

To make your own brown sugar, all you need is molasses and white sugar.  Mix 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 T. unsulfured molasses with a fork or spoon until the molasses is fully incorporated into the sugar.

February 20, 2011

Weekly Coupon Matchups and Deals, 2/20-2/26

Co-op Advantage Stores/Three Rivers Market through 3/1 

Don’t forget to pick up some blood oranges and TN Valley Eggs, both priced really well this week!

earth-fare-market_thumb[2]

Best deals for this month for Earth Fare

target frugal mom blogger  columbus ohio

Target and free photo prints here and frozen foods gift card promo here

kroger deals kroger sales logo

Kroger  It is another week of Mega Event Savings!

advantage_card

Ingles  It is triple coupon week!  Check out my list of smart shopping strategies for Ingles triple coupons here.

Walgreens

Walgreens

cvspharmacy

CVS

Picture-26

Staples

Day 20—February Eat from the Pantry Challenge Update

This time next week, we’ll be wrapping up the end of the challenge.  I can’t believe that the challenge is almost over!

Breakfast—I finally made good on my promise to make homemade cinnamon rolls for my husband for a belated Valentine’s Day gift.  (Last weekend, I had made the store bought type for him).  I had double checked all of the ingredients except for powdered sugar. I had just under a cup of it and tweaked the icing recipe a little.  They weren’t as gooey-good, but they were still quite nice.  We had the rolls and bacon for breakfast. 

Lunch—Two of the members of our congregation were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  Their family came in town, and we had a potluck luncheon in their honor after church services.  The family decorated the tables and brought a gorgeous cake.  The congregation brought everything from casseroles to the most delicate of finger-foods to celebrate the occasion.   I made my own version of chili-mac, as I reported last night in my entry.  I also brought a half gallon of unsweetened tea and a half gallon of sweetened. 

Supper—We’re having my dad over for supper tonight.  I plan to make chicken, roasted butternut squash, corn, and beans. 

What have I learned today?

There is still abundance.  Having my dad over for dinner tonight isn’t going to be a challenge because we still have plenty of food.  I won’t even have to change around the menu because we still have more than enough.  The potluck luncheon was the same way and so are our other meals.  Perhaps it was because I gave myself $100 this month for our budget, which has allowed us to still buy milk and bread and a few odds and ends along the way?  Perhaps it was because we had so much in our stockpile already?  Perhaps it is because we’ve had so many social occasions and communal dining events?  Whatever the reason, I have learned from this month that we can be very satisfied and content with a lot less. 

A Happy Thought

DSC_8213 “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” —Lao Tzu

Tip of the day—Making your own garden pots

I loved this photo step-by-step directional post from Ten Things Farm about how to  make your own garden pots.  I’ve never made them myself before, and I think I’ll give them a shot this year!

February 19, 2011

Day 18 and 19—Challenge Update

I missed the update from yesterday and am posting information for today.  We’ve been doing what we can to enjoy the beautiful weather that our area has been blessed with lately, and as a result, I’ve not been on the computer as much.  I’m soaking up the sunshine as much as I can before the weather shifts again.

I’ve also spent a good amount of time getting ready for the Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair, which is just around the corner.  Next weekend, our church (Faith UMC) will welcome wonderful coupon experts and businesses to a resource fair open to and free for the community.  It was so much fun last year, and I think it will be even better this year.  If you are in the East TN area, I hope you’ll join us!

Breakfast—leftover oatmeal

Lunch—leftover chicken noodle soup and some home canned peaches that I put up this summer

Supper—I made a version of chili mac. I doubled the recipe so that I would have something to bring to the potluck luncheon that will follow church services tomorrow.  We are celebrating a couple in our congregation who have been married for 50 years. 

What have I learned?

Freebies make going to the mail feel like Christmas morning.  I love receiving free things in the mail.  I try to only sign up for products that I know we will use or ones that are new to us to avoid waste.  Whenever I receive one, I feel like doing a little happy dance at the mailbox.  Today, I received a cereal bar from Quaker, and it was a perfect snack to share after our daughter’s soccer practice this afternoon. 

Using up odds and ends feels great.  Tonight’s dish was pretty different for me.  I don’t usually make chili mac, but I knew what ingredients I had on hand and thought it might work.  Instead of using black beans, which I would have preferred, I used some pinto beans I had in the freezer.  I didn’t have quite enough tomato sauce so I added the last of some taco sauce we had in the fridge.  We didn’t have any onions in the dry storage, freezer or garden, and so I used a little extra garlic powder and some Ro*tel to add a little more flavor.  The recipe needed something with a little more texture, and I added some frozen corn and a few home canned jalapenos.  Making do worked just fine!  Even our daughter loved it!

Recipe, if you want to call it that:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef from a local farmer, cooked in olive oil and fat drained

1 can Ro*tel, undrained

1 can Muir Glen diced tomatoes, slightly drained

1 (8oz) can Hunts tomato sauce

Approx 1/8 cup taco sauce

Garlic powder to taste

Salt and Tony’s to taste

1/8 cup pickled jalapenos, more or less to taste

Approx 2 cups pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Approx 1/4 cup frozen corn

1 box whole grain pasta, cooked al dente

Mix the ingredients and season to taste.  Put in a casserole dish and top with the shredded cheese of your choice.  Bake at 375 degrees until cheese is melted and dish is heated throughout. 

From the updates that you have been giving me, it sounds like everyone is doing fantastic with the challenge thus far!  I have so enjoyed learning from each of you on how you are finding creative ways to make do.  I get so inspired hearing that some of you have gone without a trip to the grocery in three weeks and others are having conversations with your husbands about whether or not to make a special run to the store for cinnamon.  I’ve enjoyed reading your meal plans, recipes, and what you’ve learned.  You all are such an inspiration to me! 

Don’t forget to sign up for the giveaway if you haven’t already!  It is the last one for this month, and it is for a $5 gift card to Walgreens.