Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coupons 101: My system for in the store.

Ok, so once you've got all your coupons and have looked over your sales and know what you're going to buy and what deals you're going to make, how do you keep up with your coupons on the way to the store and in the store and at check out. This is what I do, not the only way to do it, but what works for me. I take along my trust coupon book because you never know when the price for a not on sale item will be on something that's not in the sales paper but has just had a normal price drop. So it's there for a back up if I see something that has had it's price lowered and is cheaper than the store brand.

Then I made up some nifty coupon envelopes for each store I go to that I use coupons at. Aren't they cute? I clip my coupons, go over the sales item in the store flyers, circle all the things I know I have coupons for or need to get and search my coupon book for to see if I have a coupon but overlooked it. Once I've looked at the sales flyer and matched my coupons to them I place all the appropriate coupons into the correct enveloped and stick them in the front of my coupon book. That's another reason I got a clear front to my coupon book, so I don't' have to flip through it to make sure I have all my envelopes in there before I go. It's a glance and go thing.

Once inside the store I take out my envelope for that store and I also take out the clear, plastic envelop below. As I find the deal in the store and make sure it matches the requirements on my coupon I take it out of the nifty, cute yellow envelops and place it into the clear, plastic envelope. (Sometimes I'll have my coupon ready to go for a sale item and decide at the store that's it not that great of a deal because the store brand took a price cut to and the store brand is a better money saver. So I don't use that coupon and stick it back into the yellow envelope to refile later on.

Once at the cash register as my items are being run up I take out the clear, plastic envelop ONLY since it has all of my coupons that I now I got deals on and hand those coupons to the checkout person. It keeps me organized and it's easier than walking around, pushing a cart with 2 kids in it with a handful of loose coupons while finished up my shopping. :)

Hopefully you've enjoyed reading about my coupon adventure and how I work the system to get lots of items for dirt cheap. Any comments or questions are welcome. Leave them on my blog or feel free to email me as well
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coupons 101: Kroger

Oh Kroger, you overpriced wonky thing you. I do shop at Kroger mainly because it's convient to where we live and I must admit that since getting bit by the coupon bug I'm getting a lot more out of Kroger than I use to. So here's the run down on Kroger.

Their weekly flyer is in the Sunday paper as well as in their store. BUT their weekly deals and promotions change like any other store. They are best known (in my opinion) for their 10 for $10 sale which is what the picture below is about. That was this weeks promo. They've listed the items that are part of this promo. I've circled the items I know I have coupons on for but have to find and match up to make sure the deal is good and cheaper than the store brand.

This is about the only time though, that I will buy things WITHOUT a coupon. If things like soap, toilet paper, msutard, things you will use without a doubt are on sale for $1 you really can't pass that up because you don't have a coupon. At Kroger though, you don't have to buy all 10 items to get the ones on the flyer for $1. And you don't have to buy 10 of the same item for them to ring up as $10. You can mix and match anyway you want to as long as they are marked with the 10 for $1 tag. Always try to match up the coupons for the sales though.

Other times Kroger will run a buy $15 dollars and get $5 off.This is a great time to stockpile items and use your coupons to grab things at a cheap price
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Best deal yet!!!

Ok, weeks ago I posted about a few items I took home for $2.87 give or take a penny or two well now I've bet that deal. This week at Publix I ROCKED it out and took all of the items on the right home for $7.57 (including tax). That's my best deal yet for so many items. I get so excited when the cashier rings up all these items and I get to write a check for less than 10 bucks on things that would normally cost me $20 or more.
Ahhhh I love Publix!!!!!
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Coupons 101: CVS

Couponing at CVS is much like couponing at any other store with the exception of a few things. The do not offer store coupons in their weekly flyer and they do use a Store Loyalty Card like Kroger. In order to get the most out of shopping at CVS you should sign up for this card.

In addition to their weekly flyer CVS also puts out a once a month ExtraValueBook you'll find it under their weekly flyer in the store. Below is a picture of their weekly flyer and the April ExtraValueBook. The Extra Value Book are on going sales and promotions for the month where as the weekly flyer is good from Sunday to Saturday.

It's hard to see but I circled the Crest toothpaste part of the flyer. Meaning I know i have a coupon for this, but I need to find it and match it up to make sure it's a good cheap deal. ALSO, take note that they are advertising the toothpaste or mouthwash as: 'You pay $2.88, get $2.00 ECB's back it's like paying $.88.'

This is where the store loyalty card comes in hand. Each week CVS puts many of their items on their ECB (extra care bucks) program. If I were to buy this toothpaste I would pay the full $2.88 but at the end of my transaction and on my receipt I would get a coupon from CVS for $2.00. The below picture is a picture of the 3 ECB I received this week for purchasing 3 different ECB items. These coupon receipts are used just like store coupons but they are good for ANYTHING in the store and not just what's on sale or on the next set of ECB items.

CVS will also print out other coupons for some of the items you have bought before once you start using your loyalty card. The coupon receipts are on the left of the picture below with a green underline under the item. The ECB are on the right with a reddish line under the amount of ECB I can use on my next purchase. The ECB usually expire 2 weeks from the time they are printed so don't forget to use them!!!!

The main goal for couponing at CVS is to match their sales and ECB items with coupons AND to keep rolling your ECB's from week to week. As of now I have $8 ECB to use on my deals next week. I'm going to try and match my ECB with upcoming sales and ECB items that will net me as many ECB's as I can and still get great deals.

Here's a picture of the great deals I got at CVS this week, buying items that were only on sale matched with coupons and some ECB deals. All of the below cost me: $6.18 and that's including tax people!!! Apparently it was the week for Deodorant. The Ban, Right Guard and Suave Deodorants I got for FREE, because my coupons took off more than they were selling them for.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Coupons 101: Publix

Ahhh Publix. I've only recently started shopping at Publix thanks to their wonderful weekly Buy One Get One Free special. Unlike the usual store circular/flyer Publix has a Buy One Get One Free Flyer from Sunday to Saturday. They do advertise their other sales in the same flyer and if you can't find your Publix flyer in the newspaper they have a stack of the flyers right beside the grocery carts in the store.

How do I make my Deals and Steals work at Publix?
But One Get One Free (BOGOF) deals are great, but not always a big money saver as some people swear but. Notice in the picture above I've circled all the items I know I have coupons for. If you look in the bottom left of the picture you'll see the Pam cooking spray I circled. The very bottom of the blurb under the Pam spray says 'Save up to $3.39'. Why do I care. I'm going to buy one and get the other one for free right? WRONG. I never, ever, ever spend that much on cooking spray no matter if I get one free or not. Wal-Mart has cooking spray for $1.29, if I bought 2 of the Pam cooking sprays from Wal-Mart it would cost me $2.58 which is still cheaper than BOGOF at Publix.

BUT, and here's the kicker. When Publix runs their BOGOF and when you take your items to check out, both of your items will ring up as a price. You wont get one Pam cooking spray for $3.39 and the other for $0.00. You'll get the first cooking spray to ring up as $1.69 and the other one that is suppose to be free for $1.69. Since Publix's product ring up this way you can use TWO manufacture coupons for each BOGOF product.

Here's the scenario:

Pam Cooking Spray: Buy One Get One Free
So I'll but 2 Pam Cooking Spray. I also have 2 manufacture coupons for Pam cooking spray for $.55 each. So instead of getting 2 Pam cooking sprays for $3.39 I'll be getting them for $2.29 which makes them cheaper than buying 2 of them at Wal-Mart.

Also Publix is known for doubling their coupons. I'm not sure what the price cut off is, but the smaller amount coupons are doubled. So if you had 2 - $.30 coupon off of Pam cooking spray they will double both coupons and you can get the cooking spray for $2.16.

Mystery Coupon
The weekly flyer in the paper for Publix has a coupon on the front that say Mystery $.01 Coupon/Product that is only good for Sunday and Monday of that week. Take the coupon with you on Sunday or Monday and look for the mystery item. It's usually in the back of the store. If you find the correct item and purchase your product you'll get that product for 1 PENNY with the coupon. Lots of times you can just ask a cashier what the product is and they'll tell you too.
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Coupons 101: Walgreens

This post is dedicated to all coupons and things Walgreens style. Every Sunday Walgreens puts out a store flyer that's good for that week, from Sunday to Saturday. The flyer also comes with a lot of Walgreens coupons (store coupons) that you can cut and bring and use at Walgreens only.

The way to use coupons at Walgreens to get really great steals and deals is to match up the coupons and sale items in their flyer with manufacture coupons you've clipped from Sundays paper and All You magazine or internet coupons.

Store coupons are only good for the store which produces those coupons, they usually have the name of the store on the coupon its self or says something like 'Redeemable only at Walgreens".

Manufacture coupons are put out by the manufactures of products and can be used anywhere coupons are accepted.

Stacking coupons means you've used a store coupon and a manufacture coupon for the same product.

Here's a Walgreens scenario:

In the picture above you'll see that I circled two items on this part of the Walgreens flyer. These two items are things that I know I have coupons for but need to find them in my coupon folder to see if the sale item along with the coupon is a good deal.

Johnson's Lotion was on sale this week at Walgreens per their flyer for $3.99 each. I have a coupon for $2.00 off one Johnson's lotion product. If I use this coupon the week of the sale I'll be getting a bottle of Johnson's lotion for $1.99. If I use this coupon when Walgreens isn't running a sale I'll end up paying more for the lotion then if I wait for it to be on sale even with my $2.00 off coupon.

So if I decide to buy this lotion on sale, with my coupon and go into the store and locate the product only to find that the Walgreens brand of lotion is $.99 that week what do I do? Well unless you just adore Johnson's lotion and think it's the best thing ever you'd probably go ahead and buy the lotion. If you're like me and don't have a preference and want to save all the money you can but still have soft, moisturized skin, then you're going to put your coupon back in your purse and buy the Walgreens brand because it's still cheaper than buying a name brand with a sale and a coupon. Make sense? Just because you have a coupon doesn't mean you're getting the better deal. Often times the store brand will be cheaper than the sale item combined with a coupon. Just pay attention to the store brand while you're scoping out your sale items.

A major thing to remember with Walgreens is their coupons in their flyer are store coupons, so stack these store coupons with a manufacture coupon for a great savings.

Here's a stacking coupon scenario for Walgreens:

Walgreens flyer has a $.99 STORE coupon for Dawn dish soap. I have a manufacture coupon for $.35 off one Dawn dish soap. I can use both of these coupons for the same product and get the Dawn dish soap for $.64. You're buying a name brand soap for less than you would have paid for the store brand at this point. If you have more than one Dawn dish soap coupon this would be a good time to stock up on Dawn dish soap.

Side note on Walgreens store coupons: Walgreens usually puts a limit on their coupons. Its on the coupon usually under the sale price and will say: Limit 2, or Limit 4. For the Dawn dish soap the limit was two. So if you purchase two Dawn dish soaps they will both ring up $.99, if you purchase 3 Dawn dish soap the first 2 will ring up $.99 and the 3rd one will ring up full price $1.99. Look for the limits to maximizes your deals. If you buy up to the limit with a manufacture coupon as well then you can stockpile the item for only a few dollars!!!

Walgreens also has an Easy Saver Rebate program that they are discontinuing this week. So I wont go into that until they revise the program and get something started again. Needless to say I was crushed when I got the news.
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Coupons 101

Ok, finally. Many of you have been after me to tell you how I use coupons. So I thought I'd blog about it and get you all off my back. Just kidding. I'm going to give an overview and then break it down store by store so hopefully it's not a lot of information just thrown at you that you have to wade through.

Where do I find coupons?
In your Sunday Paper of course and in a magazine called All You that's found only at Wal-Mart or through a Southern Living At Home consultant for a yearly subscription. There are also many websites that you can print coupons from. I'll talk about internet coupons later and add the links to the websites on that post.

The picture above is some coupon inserts from the Sunday paper and the cover of the May issue of All You. The first thing to do when you get these inserts is to cut or clip all of the coupons for the things you think you'll actually buy. I don't buy candles unless they are on sale so I wouldn't clip the candle coupons for my coupon book. So I'll leave them attached to the insert and file them way for later on. Once you've clipped all your coupons Do Not Throw Out The Sunday Coupon Inserts!!!!!! Write the date on the front of the inserts and then grab a binder or file box and store these away for later use. I'll go into why a little later.

Now I've got a stack of clipped coupons. What do I do with them?
Get yourself a binder, whatever kind you like and something that can hold a lot of inserts. Here's what I picked for my own. I like the clear cover so I could easily spot my coupon folder from the kids folders in the house.

I also picked up some baseball card sleeves to hold all my coupons instead of using pockets. When I was using the little coupon dividers you can find in Wal-Mart I was still having to pull out the entire stack of coupons and go through them before I went to the store. VERY time consuming. Using the baseball card sleeves allows me to see all my coupons and quickly flip through to see if I have a coupon for the item I want to buy.

I also used a label maker to label my coupons into specific groups. Frozen Food, Cold food, Snacks, Cereal, Baking Needs, Shampoos, Toothpaste and Mouthwash, Deodorant etc. However you want to group your coupons is fine, as long as it's a time saver and works for you. I even know of a few that group their coupons by store aisles. This is just the method that works for me.
(The other day I finally picked up some sticky tabs so I'm going to put a sticky tab above the label so I can flip through groups at a time and not a page at a time. I'll post about that too I'm sure.)

I also have a purple, blue, yellow and green divider in my folder. I have all food coupons in a different section than I have all the non-food products like shampoo and deodorant and I use the blue divider to, well, divide them. I also have a section for restaurant coupons and Target coupons; which I'll get more into later on.

Really, it's your folder, organize it to be efficient and for what works for you and how you shop. I'm just going over my style of couponing. :)

Once you've clipped all your coupons, and got them organized and put the Sunday inserts away for later use; you're ready to start looking for what I like to call Steals and Deals of the Week.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Publix Steals and Deals. WOW!!!!

Ok, my new favorite place to shop has to be Publix!! I've been going for the past few weeks and their deals are just getting better and better and I'm loving it. Look at the goodies I got today.

Here's the breakdown:

3 - cans of Crystal Light
4 - Mini Ravioli
2 - Bags of Voila Pasta Meals
2 - Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
2 - Cans of Spray PAM
2 - Trix Yopliat Yogurt (6 containers in each package)

Total BEFORE coupons and Sales: $45.06
Total AFTER coupons and Sales: $17.04

What a steal. Plus, Publix has a mystery coupons every Sunday and Monday and if you find the mystery item in the store and use the coupon you get the product for $0.01. This week it was a Pillsbury Cake Mix which I FORGOT to get!!!!! Next time, I'll remember to get the mystery gift and use the coupon!!!!
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Target Savings

Matt needed new polo shirts for work so we all piled in the van yesterday and went to Target. Why Target, well I had coupons and they were having some great sales. Here's what I got:

4 - 12 Packs of Diet Coke/ one is Vanilla Coke
2 - 4 Packs of Easy Mac
2 - boxes of 100 Cal Pack
1 - Box of Pop Tarts
8 - Yoplait Yogurt Whips
2 - Oscar Meyer Bun Length Wieners
2 - Bags of Teddy Grahams
2 - Cans of Pringles chips
2 - Packages of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies

My total BEFORE coupons and sales was $45.84

My total AFTER sales and coupons was $27.16

My stockpile box in the laundry room is overflowing because of the great sales I've been running into lately. It's going to work out great for our vacation the 1st of May. I wont have to make that made dash to the store for car munchies!!!!
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Once a month bulk cooking

So I've been on a kick about learning how to bulk cook and once a month cooking. So far I've been really pleased at what all I've discovered and what I've tried and it worked out. The picture above is what I have stocked in my freeze right now for the rest of the month. The Banana Sour Cream bread is so moist and fresh when it's thawed and I make sure we only go through one loaf per week or I think this family would eat all 4 loaves in ONE week. :)

The Pizza wheels I made mainly for Mackenzie. She loves anything pizza especially for lunch and it's an easy recipe and so delicious when cooked. The recipe made a large batch and all I did was pop them in a freeze bag with the heating directions wrote in sharpie on the outside and viola! Kenzie's lunch for almost two weeks. I hope to have another cooking day to try out more recipes and bulk cook more, but we'll be on vacation soon and I don't want the freezer stocked while we're gone. But having a meal already in the freezer for when we get back is a comforting thought.
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My Soy Candle

So my soy wax arrived about a week ago and I set to making candles pretty much immediately. And I bombed it, so I melted the wax again and I bombed it. Then I got online and made sure I had read all the tips and directions and everything just right and I had and I tried again for the 3rd to make a block soy candle. And it worked!! Whew. Now I know what I did wrong and what to to and what not to do for my next candle. :) I think it turned out really really well. It was fun picking out the chunks of wax that had hardened around the ice cubes to get the swiss cheese affect. And don't you just love the glow of the candle light through the holes??? And it smells divine. I added Strawberries and Champenge oil and it is so soft and light and delicious.

I also made two small pink floating candles, one in the shape of a tulip and the other an oval shape. They are so cute.

I need to make up another one this weekend I'm just not sure what color to dye the wax. Maybe orange?
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$9 at CVS

Ahhh, CVS. I usually get better deals at Walgreens but this week CVS was rocking it out. I got all of the above for $9 and some change!!!!!! Can you believe it? One of the toothpastes was free, the Dove Conditioner was free and the Air Wick plug in warmer was also free. I had coupons for all of the free things as well as all of the things that weren't on sale and my total came to $9. Even though there were no coupon inserts in the last Sundays paper I was very pleased with how it all turned out.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Kroger bag

Kroger is running a 'Design your own bag get one of their resuable bags free.' So I did this bag in just a few minutes, mainly to get the free bag of their so I dont 'have to sew up anymore and thought I'd post it to my blog. How cute! Just go to, register and add in your Kroger Plus card number to be credited and submit your design. If they pick your design you could win money but we all know how that goes. It was fu and I like it. :)

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Thank you Toya!!!!

I have to say, first, thank you to my beautiful friend Toya and her God given talent with photography. I was so excited to hear that she had started up a photography business and knew I would have to use her for the kids next pictures. So this Saturday, we were greatly blessed to take up some of Toya's time and get amazing pictures of all my babies, and have a fun time doing it. I never knew pictures of the kids could be so fun outside of home! It took some coaxing but I got in a few pictures with the kids myself. I will never, ever, as long as I live in Alabama use anyone else for pictures but Tree of Life Photography. We love you Toya, thank you so much for your gift and the joy you brought my family through your beautiful pictures.

May I present to all who see this blog, The Gilliard Kids by Tree of Life Photography.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Look what came in the mail!!!!!!

Eeek. I was so excited to get the mail Tuesday. My soy wax is here and looking great and very ready to melt!!! Ahh and Strawberries & Champagne fragrance to go with it. Can I ever ask for anything more. I'll keep you posted on my Soy Wax adventures.

After I type this and check for spell mistakes it hits me how sad this might sound to someone on the outside looking in. I really did get crazy excited about my wax....I think I'm a lost cause.
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Fish stitch

I love helping I try and stitch for them as much as I possibly can or as much as my tendinitis will let me. I signed up recently for another stitch and it's due June 1st. I still have plenty of time to work on it but I'm already dragging my feet with this one. I cranked out the fish in record time and it's the fish bowl that's giving me trouble. How many times am I going to have to FROG the stitches and redo because I don't have the line up right? UGH! That's the only thing I don't like about LoveQuilts. It you don't have a pattern that meets all requirements and have to piece together your own then watch out. You'll be hearing the stitchers Frog everytime you pick it up to stitch.
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Let's go Fly a Kite

Matt and I were fortunate enough to spend time with old friends of his from college Monday and their kids. We all had a great time. Isaac and Evan Grace played extremely well with their kids which are about the same age and we all ate tons and tons of great food. Afterwards we all went outside and flew kites. I think maybe the adults ended up having a better time with the kites than the kids. It was 48 degrees and we all froze. Our fingers were red and cold, our faces numb but I was so glad the kids got to fly their first kites and have such fun at it. The only causality we had was when Isaac's/Matt's IronMan kite broke it's string and skirted away into the sky.
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Organizing cabinets FINISHED!

So I took the organizing challenge a few days ago and I'm happy to announce that as of yesterday evening I finished getting these cabinets organized and how I wanted it. The laundry room was a wreck for three days and I didn't do ANY laundry while everything was strewn about. (Today I played catch up and did 4 loads...whew) Now everything is in it's place and all things are clearly labeled so that everyone can find what they need to find and make sure it goes back where it belongs. I'm not very happy about the upper shelves in the cabinets but for now they'll do. I use everything up there I just couldn't find a way to store it neatly, plus, it's hard for me to reach and I didn't want to bring in a chair every time I needed to get up there. I can still grab and go with the top shelf. I guess this is my proof that I can do this, I just need to tackle my 'secret shame' (my bedroom closet) and get that under control. Maybe next month.....maybe next year..yeah that sounds better!!!
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Truffles maybe?

Nope, thanks to my BFF, Erin, these are mini-cake balls. The family and I are heading over to some friends house tomorrow and I was in charge of bringing dessert so I thought I'd try my hand at cake balls. After coming out of sugar shock from eating Erin's delicious, wonderful decadent cake balls I knew this would be a great thing to make for tomorrow. They turned out really well to. So kudos to Erin for such a fan-tabulous dessert. I'm sure they'll be a hit.

(Now I know why it's such a good idea to make large, ice cream scoop size cake balls instead of the smaller size. They took me FOREVER to roll and time I'm grabbing the ice cream scoop!!!!)
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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Organic Vanilla

It's true. Tonight I sat down and finally stated on my own organic vanilla. I ordered the vanilla beans and bottle (with instructions) from a wonderful magazine; and then I made my wonderful husband run to the liquor store and pick up vodka!

I cut the three vanilla beans down the middle as best I could. Careful to not scrap out the 'innards' as we say in Virginia.

Then I placed them all in the bottle.

Then poured on the vodka baby!! In 4 weeks it'll be the best tasting vanilla extract you can get. I have to keep it in a dark place and shake it from time to time and viola! I'll post a picture when it's ready. I'm excited. Plus, what a money saver. Real, true vanilla extract is EXPENSIVE. This will last years if I do it right and keep the beans covered.

Footnote: Leisha when you read this I know you're going to want one and do this too. That is if you don't already have one. Let me know and I'll let you know where to get them from or order one for you, my sister in green. :)
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