Saturday, August 28, 2010

Take the Good, Take the Bad...

Some days you are on your game and some days you just are not. All week I had been saying that I wanted to get my CVS stuff done so that I could get that shopping done before Saturday. When I wait until Saturday, signs are changed, stuff is sold out, and I have to think on the fly to re-do my transactions--which I don't do well. I have a hard enough time trying to get the least out of pocket as it is. I wish there was some kind of program (and someone tell me if there is) where I could plug in the deals *I* want to get, what ECBs I have on hand and my coupons then I push a button and TA-DA, scenarios are worked out for me. I mean, I can follow other bloggers scenarios but I would really like to get better at doing at it on my own. I did find a blog today that has a $5 CVS challenge each week. Check it out if you are just beginning your CVS journey.

Anyway, this morning I worked out what deals I wanted to get, gathered my coupons and set out to my local CVS stores. No Blink eye drops in sight, one lone Smart Water at the first CVS (none at the 2nd), no see where this is going? My thought out scenarios were NOT going to work. I did one transaction at the first CVS then headed to the next one. As I saw more and more stuff unavailable, I just opted to do all the other things I wanted in one big transaction and be done with it.

The Bad
This is everything I purchased today.
3 John Frieda hair things
2 Glade scented oil refills
2 Glade jar candles
1 Crest toothpaste (which did not produce ECBs as I thought it would)
Bonus 2-pk of CVS wipes
1 Tylenol Precise cream (no ECBs--even though I have not reached limit)
1 Excedrin Menstrual
10 Powerade/Smart water/Fuse/Vitamin water
1 Covergirl lipstain (rang up 8.99 and did NOT give ECBs)

So out of all of that I paid 45.74 out of pocket.
I expected 26.50 in ECBs but got 15.00--I used the 5 from the first transaction on the 2nd. I was pretty disgusted at myself. I don't know if I purchased the wrong stuff or what. There was a sign with the lipstain and it should have given the ECBs IMO but who knows.

But to counter that I ran to Publix as well. I rarely shop on a Saturday at Publix but since I had coupons that were going to expire soon and with school starting, I didn't want to chance missing out on something good. I did well at Publix.

I was disappointed in the fact that the shelves were bare of some things. I mentioned this week that it was easier when everyone thought that couponing was "lame". I try not to clear shelves. If I have plans to purchase a large number of an item and I get there and there are only enough for my deals, I don't get all of mine. Today at Publix there was no yogurt and the ice cream was wiped out (I bought the last 4 so I guess *I* cleared the shelf in that case). I always try to look at the supply on the shelf and only get stuff if it looks like there is plenty. The ritz and vanilla wafers were well stocked so even though I bought 8 of each, there was a TON more.

The Good
What I got at Publix today:
5 pks of Solo cups
5 pks of Solo plates
5 bags of Chex Mix
8 boxes of Nilla Wafers
8 boxes of Ritz crackers
4 Starbucks Coffee Free ice cream
8 V8 Splash juice
6 boxes of Lipton tea bags (family size)

Total before sales/coupons: 178.99
Sales: 87.63
Coupons: 41.00

Total out of pocket: 50.36. Saved 128.63 or about 72 percent.

I hope to get my CVS stuff together early in the week. I drop my boys off at school at 8:30 and could swing by CVS right after that. I just need to be prepared. I also want to swing by Publix to see if they restock the ice cream. I really want more of that...I mean for about 49 cents/pint, I can see why the shelves were wiped out!

I need to be consistant. I want to get better at this. I need to get better at this. It just takes work and practice.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Stocking Up at Publix

One of the things I have learned from my years of frugal shopping is the importance of stocking up. When something is at a good price, you should stock up on it. That's why I have 20 bottles of shampoo or 20 tubes of toothpaste most of the time. I think now I can safely say that we are stocked up on a few more things.

Today was my largest trip to Publix ever. There were so many things that for me were good deals. I spent more out of pocket than I normally do but was still under $100 (including the 3 drinks for the helpers). And if I come in under $100 for my large family, I am doing good in my book.

I saw a sneak peek of the ad early last week, so once again I ordered coupons. This time from My Coupon Hunter. They ship from Florida so the coupons got to me quickly. I love ordering coupons online. Often when an ad match up will say that such-and-such coupon was in the Red Plum on 8-15, I will look and we didn't get it. It is kind of irritating. Ordering coupons assures me that I will get the ones I need, at the time I need them. And in the long run, it is cheaper than buying multiple newspapers each week. And for my local friends, I accept coupon donations to feed my habit.

So here is the break down of what I got this week:
7 Lysol trigger cleaners (some of these will go to church for the nursery)
2 Lysol NeutraAir (for church)
3 3-pks of Dial Soap
7 20-ct bottles of Excedrin
6 packages of Wanchai Ferry frozen dinner
2 Athenos Feta cheese
14 jars of Mt. Olive Pickles
6 pks Mt. Olive Pickle packs
6 pks of Dole fruit/gel bowls
18 boxes of hamburger/tuna/chicken helper (seems like a lot but it takes 3 boxes to feed my family)
5 boxes of cereal (still have a lot from the last 2 weeks of sales)
10 boxes of Luzianne family size tea bags (We drink a lot of tea! It is the South afterall!)
6 boxes of Taco Bell dinner (these included a bonus koolaid inside)
4 boxes of whole grain pasta
4 bags of coffee
3 box cake mix
3 cans of frosting
6 jars of peanut butter

A few of my best deals: the Dial soap was BOGO and ended up being 92 cents each. I had 35c coupons which doubled to 70c making the soap 22 cents---I just wish I had ordered more.

The Excedrin was on sale for 1.49. I had $1 off coupons making each bottle 49 cents. Excedrin is my headache medicine of choice!

The pickles after coupons averaged out to about 80 cents each jar. And the Hamburger Helper was about 50 cents each after coupons. The coffee was less than $2 and I have a mail in for a free iced coffee cup when I send in 3 upcs from the coffee.

The BIG numbers from today:
Total before coupons/sales: 333.31 (told you it was BIG!)
Sales/BOGOs: 165.15
Coupons used: 72.95

Total out of pocket: 95.21 (again more than usual at Publix but still under $100)

Total savings: 238.10 !!!! I saved 71.44% today at Publix!!!

Today my cashier was Harold. I like him. He gets excited when he sees your savings. As he wrapped up my receipt (which was taller than me), he said, "You saved 238 today!" The man behind me said, "238?!?!?" The girl behind HIM said, "What???? 238???" LOL The man looked at me and said, "I wanna shop with you sometime!" I told him I am usually there at Publix every Tuesday. :-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

CVS--August 21st

I tend to wait until Saturday to do my CVS shopping and then I fuss about it because they are either sold out or have changed the signs around. I find that it takes me longer to shop than I would like because I have to "think on my feet" to re-do the transactions that I had already set up. Or I have to flip through the ad to see if the item I picked up is the correct one (or send my helper to the scanner to check prices). I really should shop earlier in the week, I know. Maybe this week.

I did three transactions. I spent more out of pocket than I wanted to because none of the CVS' that I went to had the Blink eye stuff so I missed out on those ECBs. But I did OK I guess. I have been playing the CVS game as often as I would like but I need to get back into it.

Today I purchased:
2 Starbuck's Coffee+ Energy drinks
4 cans of black olives
2 Miracle Whip
2 Crest Gum Protection toothpaste
6 Sobe Lifewater
4 Dry Idea deoderant
4 Right Guard deoderant
2 Head and Shoulders shampoo
1 Purex 3-n-1 laundry sheets
1 Gillette pro-fusion razor
1 Tylenol Precision heat pad
2 pks of gum
1 rolling laptop desk (not pictured)

Total before coupons/ECBs: 81.31
Coupons used: 41.84
ECBs used: 24.99

Total out of pocket: 19.41

I only have $2 ECB to use for next week. Not getting the Blink which I had worked into my first transaction really messed up my calculations. The rolling laptop desk was at the front of the store (my new favorite CVS LOL) at 50% off (regular 14.99). The cashier saw me looking at it and said, "Manager said I could sell that for 90% off so 1.49." I said, "I will take it!" She put it behind the counter while I was shopping. Jeff is using it right now.

My total percentage of savings today at CVS 82 percent!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Publix~~August 17, 2010

I was smart this week. I put my Publix deals together on Saturday afternoon so that when I had time to run out, they were waiting for me. It was nice to find out I was not having company this afternoon and could run out without spending an hour or so putting my list together.

This week's haul includes:
10 boxes of Breyer's Smooth and Dreamy bars
2 Dannon yogurt smoothies
2 pks of Dixie paper plates
4 bags of Tyson breaded chicken (guess what is for supper tonight!)
4 jars of Prego sauce
10 boxes of Frosted Mini-wheat in a variety of flavors
2 pks of Stayfree overnights
2 pks of regular Stayfree (bonus pack w/ 8 free)
4 boxes of pancakes
3 pks of Idaho mashed potatoes
1 bottle of Ocean Spray blueberry juice

Total before sales and coupons: 164.91

Total out of pocket: 58.37

Total savings: 106.54 or 64.5%

I also had coupons for the pasta bogo but the coupons I had were for ones not on sale. Oh well.

Today I bought things that weren't BOGO but that I had good coupons for such as the Stayfree. These are on sale for 1.99 and I used BOGO coupons that were in the paper. They ended up being about $1 each. I also bought the Dixie paper plates which were $2 each using 50cent coupon (doubled to $1) making them $1 each. And the yogurt smoothies were not BOGO this week but ended up being about $1 each after sale and coupon.

Last week, I was telling some friends about my Publix shopping. One friend looked at me and said, "Do you NEED all those pickles??" (I bought 12 jars of Vlasics last week.) I said, "Need? No but they will keep forever so..." I need to remember to tell her on Sunday that we only have 4 jars left! LOL People with small families don't realize that a family my size (9 of us) can eat a jar of pickles at one meal. The only jars that have lasted more than one day are the Zesty kind (which are Daddy's) and the bread and butter (which are mine).

So while you may look and say, "That's a lot of cereal!" It is if you have 4 in your family. But one box of cereal is gone at breakfast for us if all the kids have a bowl (and some growing pre-teens have 2). Don't even ASK how much milk we go through---or apples!! I need to buy a cow and an apple tree!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Non-Coupon Deals

I often hear friends who say that there aren't coupons for things they use (because they apparently don't eat cereal, use toothpaste or shampoo *giggle*) or that they don't have time to cut coupons or it just takes too long to get all that stuff together. And I agree, it does take time. And yes, we might eat more "processed" or junk food that others but it IS possible to get stuff for cheap WITHOUT using coupons. And one great example is Staples.

If you look at a Staples ad you see stuff that is "Free after EasyRebate" or for 1 cent or a very low price. I used to hesitate when things said, "After Rebate" because I would usually forget to mail something in but then I realized that most stores that offer rebates also offer the option to submit them online, without the need to send in receipts and UPC codes. My prayers were answered!!!!

Since I have the need this year to get school supplies before they go on clearance this year, I have been paying close attention to the sales at various stores. One school supply that my high schooler needs is computer paper and thankfully, Staples has had them on sale after rebate for the last 3-4 weeks. Each week, you can purchase two and submit them for a rebate.

So to prove to my coupon-deal-doubting friends, here is what I did at Staples last night.
I purchased:
5 packs of notebook paper for 1 cent each
2 reams of computer paper 4.99 each w/rebate for 3.99 each *$1/each*
1 pop-up tape dispenser 3.00 w/rebate of 3.00 *FREE*
1 pk of highlighters 4.99 w/rebate of 4.99 *FREE*
1 pk of sticky notes 5.29 w/rebate of 5.29 *FREE*
2 stackable storage totes 4.99/each (there was a coupon making them $4 but forgot it LOL) 9.98

So total out of pocket last night was 35.62
But will get back 21.26 in rebates making my total 14.36.

It took us 15 minutes from the time we walked into the store until we were in the car coming home. And then another 5 minutes when I got home to submit my rebates which really amounts to putting in 2 different sets of numbers and your address (unless you have an account already). So less than 30 minutes to save $21 and all stuff we need either for school or here at the house!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yes, another Publix post....

I promise that I will have more than just Publix posts at some point, but it seems that Publix is my saving place of choice right now. Today I focused on stock piling and back to school stuff. As I said in my previous post, our children will be going to public school so I will need stuff for either after school or packing in lunches. I again saw a "sneak peek" of the ad and ordered extra coupons from Coupons by Dede and My Coupon Hunter.

7 boxes of cereal
11 boxes of Lance crackers
6 boxes Nabisco munch packs
3 boxes of Crystal Light PureFit drink mix
8 boxes of fruit snack
12 bottles of salad dressing
2 jars of pasta sauce
12 cans of almonds
12 jars of pickles

Non-deal items:
gallon of milk; 2 cokes

Total before sales/coupons: 239.16
Discounts/coupons: 157.20
Total out of pocket: 81.96

Total savings of 65.73%

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Lots of changes going on in our home. So I thought it was time to update all 2 of you who read my blog on what is going on with us.

Back in March, our oldest son decided he would venture out on his own. He met someone online and moved to be with her. They plan to marry next year sometime. They live in Illinois. He has found a job and seems to be happy.

Our oldest daughter, Amanda, was honored to be chosen to attend the Crossroad program at Hellenic College in Boston. It was her first flight anywhere. And actually her first time being that far from home. She very much enjoyed it. She is also now thinking about what to do after she graduates in 2011.

We decided that after 14 years of home schooling, it was time to pack up the books and send the children to public school. This was by far one of the hardest decisions I have had to make. Our 14 year old expressed an interest in going to public school. I suggested to Jeff that it might be a good idea since we were seeing how many hoops we would need to jump through to get them to college. He said that if we were going to send her, we should just send them all. And there it was, my life/identity as a home school mom was gone. I cried a lot.

Although my heart was broken, I understood that this was best for all of us. We had fallen into some bad habits with our schooling and honestly my heart was not in it 100 percent any more. We were burnt out. I tried so hard to look like those home schoolers you see in magazines or on-line but I failed over and over again. I hated it. I hated that I couldn't live up to what everyone thought I should be. People told me that they admired me for home schooling my children, when inside I felt like a failure. Oh, we did school and my children were learning but it wasn't fun any more. Deep down, I knew that I was a flop. I knew that I probably should give it up but pride made me keep moving on. In the past, I had critics. I felt like I still needed to prove myself to them, even though most of them we hadn't seen in years. I felt like if I gave up home schooling, they would all cluck their tongues and say, "See we told you you couldn't do it!! We were right all along!!"

Then there are all those home schooling friends. The ones who to your face say, "You need to do what is best for your family..." but behind your back are saying, "Those poor Newport children, being throw to the wolves of the public school system....tsk tsk tsk..." Those people who preach to you the vileness of government schools, who say the would NEVER send their children there, instead of coming along side of you to say, "You know, I am sorry for the loss of your dream."

There are also those people who just don't understand. They don't get why your heart is breaking in two. They don't understand that deep down in your heart, you think you are a failure.

It is a tough spot to be in. Critics think they were right along and don't offer encouragement; home schoolers think you are a traitor and look at you with disgust or pity; and non-home schoolers just don't get it. So I am left with my own tears and thoughts of failure.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited to see how my children will do in the public school setting. I really think that they will thrive and blossom. But when you start home schooling, you often find yourself saying, "I will be home schooling until I am 60 years old!" not ever thinking that your plans can change quickly. One day I was a home schooler, the next I was looking at the school board website for registration forms. You feel like you are losing your identiy. Who will I be when I am not, "Rebecca, the lady with 8 kids who home schools them all?

The last few weeks we have been working on their CATs and getting those scores in. It has been a relief for me to see them all do "above average" on their tests. It helps me to see I am not a complete failure!

This past week, Moriah, our rising Freshman, has been attending a program called, Summer Bridge, at her high school. She has enjoyed it and has made a few friends.

I have been busy filling out paper work, looking for school supplies and uniforms. It is exciting and yet scary. I am sure that they will do fine and once we are into the school year, my Mother's heart will heal and I will be busy with activities and such.

On top of all of that, my husband, Jeff has decided, after MONTHS and MONTHS (maybe years!) of going back and forth, to apply to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. He has met with both priests at our church who have given him the A-OK. He has been working on essays and getting references. We are trying to get his application in as soon as we can so we can know for sure what we will be doing. It is a big decision to make. He will be done with his BA in December and would (God willing) start seminary August 2011. Being ever the pessimist, he doesn't think he will get in or that he will get in but the money will not be there to do it. I just ignore him. We got the ball rolling and will see what happens next.

So lots of changes happening here. Lots of stuff to get done and take care of. But it is exciting. We look forward to seeing what God has next for our family!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Do you get applause when you shop?

Today when I checked out at Publix, the friendly cashier gave me a round of applause. He also encouraged my boys (I had the 11 year old and 9 year old with me) to keep learning from Mom because "she is very smart." The 11yo said, "Yea, I know!" LOL I really don't feel like what I did today was worthy of applause, it just wasn't that great but I did get stuff we use and it was cheap so I am OK with that.

Forgive the not so great arranging. I had about 15 minutes before I needed to pick up my youngest daughter from the high school and so just kind of threw the stuff up there.

Today's haul included:
2 Miracle Whip 2.18/each. 
14 bags of Pizza Rolls 1.89/each.
10 boxes of Go-Gurt 1.40/each
6 boxes of Pop Tarts .97/each
16 Old Orchard 100% juice .75/each
8 boxes of Deluxe Brownie mix 2.49/each
2 boxes Reese's Puff cereal 2.49/each
2 boxes of Cheerios 2.49/each
1 smaller box of Cheerios 1.99
2 pints of Starbuck's Ice cream 1.70/each
(and 2 cokes for the helpers 1.39/each)

Total before sales/coupons: 182.18
Special sales: 88.04
Coupons used: 28.85

Total out of pocket: 65.29 or a savings of 64%

Definitely not applause worthy in MY mind but enough to make my boys (and Harold, my cashier) proud.