Sunday, November 1, 2009

Product Review: Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate No Sugar Added With Calcium

This is my favorite hot chocolate.  With no sugar added and extra calcium, this hot chocolate packet contains the equivalant of one serving of milk.  It is delicious and easy on the body.  It is perfect for an afternoon pick me up or a sweet treat when you are craving chocolate. I give it a gold star!

TZ Signature

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coupon Binder

My old coupon binder
I purchased a standard trapper keeper type binder.

I liked this one because of the extras it provided in the pockets for my supplies.

I filled the binder plastic sleeves (ziplock style) and baseball card sleeves.

The sleeves were divided by content and sorted in the layout of my grocery store.

In the back was were I kept all my weekly ads.  Alot of stores do price matching - but you need the ad.

TZ Signature

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Coupon How-To: FAQ's

I thought it would be good to post some FAQ's. I use alot of terminology and tricks to accomplish my goal of saving money. For those who are new to the subject, this can be overwhelming.

We'll tackle Walgreens first, since I think they are the easiest.

Walgreens has a typical weekly ad with a bit of flair. They add coupons to their flyers. Be careful, if you miss one, most cashiers will not offer it. For this reason, sometimes I will clip those coupons and put them with my MFQ (Manufacture coupon) in my organizer. That brings me to my first point. You can use a Walgreens coupon and a manufacture coupon on the same product. This is completely legal. Also, don’t miss their IVC Coupon book (available online and in stores). They offer monthly rebates and coupons that you can match with your coupons.

CVS has a system all their own. They have weekly ads too; however you will notice that they offer ECB’s. ECB’s are like coupons for a certain amount off your next purchase. Example, last week if you went to CVS before Tuesday and purchased a bottle of Aussie shampoo for $2.99 you would receive a printed ECB for $2. Now you have $2 to use toward your next CVS purchase. This works like cash. The trick with ECBs is that they expire, so you have to be diligent in making sure you redeem them in a timely manner. The key is to be able to use a coupon on that item and receive an ECB. That is double savings.

Coupon How-To: It's all in the details

Previous Posts - Introduction - Tools you will need - Online Resources - Plan of Action

As promised, here is a glimpse at what I'm clipping and purchasing this week

Keep in mind, if you are just starting, you only have this week's coupons. I have months worth of coupons saved, so you may not have all of these (yet).

I have noticed CVS goes in cycles. This week there isn't alot of GREAT things to get excited about. I'll be purchasing the candy corn b/c in the fall we love candy corn and peanuts. They are great to have out when company is coming over.

Brach's Candy Corn 9oz 2/$1 Limit 4 Buy 4 -- $2
Suave Bodywash $2 ($2ECB WYB $6) Buy 3 -- $6
Aussie 33.8oz $5.99 Get $2 ECB Limit 1 Buy 1 -- $5.99
Total: $11.99
Minus ECB from previous shopping: $
Minus Coupons: $
Total OOP: $
Leaving with ECB:$4 for next trip


Because Kroger is pretty straight forward and I have other things on my list besides just these items, I will just list the matchups I will be using. For a full list see here. Also, my Kroger doubles coupons under .50¢. However, I am not sure about the eCoupons.
Big K Soft Drinks Select Varieties, 12 pk, 12 oz Cans $1.99 With Card
-50/1 Big K 12 pk Shortcuts eCoupon
Aunt Jemima Breakfasts Select Varieties, 5.3-6.3 oz 10 for $10 With Card
-$1/2 Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancake items 08-16-09 SS
Michelina's Entree Frozen, Select Varieties, 5-11 oz 10 for $10 With Card
-$1/5 Michelina’s Lean Entrees printable
-$1/6 Banquet Meals September All You Magazine

Healthy Choice or Marie Callender's Entree Select Varieties, 6-17 oz 5 For $10 With Card
-$1/2 Healthy Choice Meals September All You Magazine or printable
-$1/2 Marie Callender Al Dente September All You Mag.

Kroger Deluxe Ice Cream Select Varieties 10 for $10 With Card
-75/1 Kroger Deluxe Ice Cream Shortcuts eCoupon
Charmin Bath Tissue Select Varieties, 4 Large Rolls $1.88 With Card
-1 off Charmin PG eCoupon
Purex Laundry Detergent Select Varieties, Liquid, 24-32 Loads $2.49 With Card
-.50/1 Purex Natural Elements printable
Betty Crocker Cake Mix Select Varieties 10 for $10 With Card
-50/2 Betty Crocker Cake Mix and Frosting Shortcuts eCoupon
-.50/2 Betty Crocker Cake Mix & Frosting printable

Brut Deodorant Select Varieties, 2-2.5 oz 10 for $10 With Card
-55/1 Brut Deodorant August All You Magazine
Kotex Pads, Liners or Tampons select varieties $2.50 With Card
-$1 off Kotex Products printable

I hope you have enjoyed this mini series and I hope you've learned something new. Coupon How-To: FAQ's later today.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coupon How-To: Plan of Action

Previous Posts - Introduction - Tools you will need - Online Resources - Stockpile

Today we are discussing Our Plan of Action.

Are we ready? We have our tools - check. We know our online resources and have taken a peek at least once at them - check. We know how much stockpile room we can accomodate - check. We have our list - um...not yet.

Ok, since we are just starting our stockpile, we are open limited only by our space. Now we need to know what necessities we need (standard grocery list).

My old preferred method comes from Karen Ehman. I love the idea of a pre-printed grocery list. I modified my own to mimic hers found here. However, these days I use and electronic list on my phone in excel. So whatever method you chose, be sure it doesn't take up too much time.

There are going to be things you just have to purchase this week. There is no getting around it - the only thing we can hope for is that they are either on sale or we can find a cheap generic. Don't stress this too much, these items get fewer and farther between as your stockpile grows.

You have started the ball rolling. Tomorrow is the big day.

Next Post - I'll give you a glimpse at what I'm clipping and purchasing this week.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Coupon How-To: To stock or not to stock

Previous Posts - Introduction - Tools - Online Resources

Welcome back. Today we are discussing stockpiles. Stockpiling is purchasing several items when the price is very good and saving them to use later when needed. Is this necessary? I say yes. There will be a time when you are able to get free items, however you may not need them that week. You need the space to save. That is money in your pocket.

Note of warning: Stockpiles can be a touchy subject to couponers. There are varying degrees of stockpiling. I have see MASSIVE stockpiling where you could live for years and never have to purchase another item and I have seen comfortable stockpiling to cover what you'll need for the week. But whatever you do - don't insult a couponer based on their decision. This is like getting into a political discussion in a bar - not wise! Not to mention, rude.

With that said, I only stockpile what I have room for (and I have plenty of room). I also clean out alot of my stockpile around Christmas time to donate to shelters, pantries and VA hospitals. They can always use HBA products.

With that said - here are a few questions to help you decide how much or even if you are going to stockpile.

Do you own a deep freezer? Do you know how much you can accommodate?
How about cabinet space? Have you made some room?
Any additional space?

Here are a few ideas on how to stockpile.
  • Rearrange your kitchen cabinets to a more organized fashion to allow for easier storage.
  • Extra space above a closet (I have two closets in my home that had alot of "dead" space above and nothing there. So I added shelves.)
  • Shelving in garage or basement
  • Under the bed (I've seen storage bins that fit under beds being used to store more discrete products like toiletries)
  • Under the sinks
  • Drawers
  • Bottoms of closets

Next Post - Plan of Action


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coupon How-To: Online Resources

Previous Topic - Introduction - Tools you will need

Welcome back! If you are just joining us, we are discussing coupons. Be sure to click to yesterdays post to get up to speed. Today we are talking about Online Resources!

When I'm talking online resources, I only deal with free ones. Women, just like you and me that are offering up some advice on deals they have seen. These resources come in varying styles. Let's start with Blogs.

I love Keeping the Kingdom First - not only do I love her $5 CVS and Walgreens Challenges, I love this blog in general. However, for this post, her challenges are a great way to match up your coupons to the sales.

I heart CVS - I find this blog a little harder to read, however I love the deals she matches.

Coupon Cravings - She covers it all.

The last online resource is my be all end all resource. If this was the only resource I could use, I'd be one happy camper. - this is an free online community that works with discussion boards. There are hundreds of people on this site and it is heavily monitored for scams, which makes me feel more at ease. Simply set up an account and prepare to be amazed. Note of warning: Be prepared to spend some time on this site your first few times on it. Until you learn your way around there is ALOT to look at and learn. I credit this site for 95% of my knowledge. Please look around but don't miss the forums, that is where all the good information is.

While checking out the site, be sure to read up on how CVS works. We'll be heading there on Sunday. I didn't like ECB's at first and found it all very confusing, but if worked right, they can save you alot of money. Also - be sure to check out next week's preview on CVS and Walgreens - that's right - in some cases you can see several weeks before they even start. How great is that? And - be sure to check out the coupon database. It is a good tool.

Next Topic - Stockpiling - should we?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coupon How-To: Tools

Previous Post - Introduction

There are several tools of the trade, but I can only speak of what I have tried. Here is my recipe for savings:

1. Coupon organizer
2. Coupons
3. Sale Flyers
4. "Good" Online resources FREE
5. A cutting system (scissors or paper cutter)
6. Time
7. List

Ok, now we have our items, we are rea... what? You don't have your items, you don't know where to start? Ok, I'll slow it down.

1. Let's take this list an item at a time, starting with the coupon organizer. This is a preference decision. I have tried most but this time around, I'm sticking with the old fashioned accordion file system. However, I have used the binder method. I use to collect at least 5 sets of coupons. I also use to clip EVERY coupon. I don’t do this anymore, because I found products do vary and I do have a list of favorites. So I choose to use the accordion file, and I have a creative memories (photo) file so I use it. It is made of sturdy plastic and holds up better than the paper ones and I already own it. See me being eco-friendly?

2. Coupons – The obvious response is BUY THE SUNDAY PAPER! Save even more by getting a subscription. Other options – ask around, do you have friends not using their coupons? Do you know a newspaper carrier-they may be able to hook you up with a few extras? Keep in mind not all newspapers are created equal and not all coupons are either. I get coupons from my local paper and from a larger town close to me (from my friend's paper) and our coupons are different.

Online coupons – there are several sites that offer online coupon printing as well as many companies that will email and mail you coupons/offers. Here is a list of some of my favorites:

NOTE OF CAUTION: Some stores have stopped accepting this form of coupon. Our Wal-mart has turned me down and our Kroger holds the right to deny any coupon, regardless of you being able to prove its validity.

3. Sale Flyers – these are in most Sunday papers, however there are test markets where some flyers come out at various times. I prefer the online method; however we do have a newspaper subscription so I do carry the printed ones occasionally. Did you know almost all stores have their weekly ads online? Oh yes, and my sweet, some of them post them early. For this blog I will only blog the stores I have access to and only the sales I will be shopping. It just takes too much time to post every possible scenario.

4. Online Resources – I will post a separate post about this, it is a BIG topic.

5. Cutting system - this also is a preference decision. Since I only clip from 2 or three sets of coupons each week, I will use my scissors. However, if you are going to heavy duty clip – invest in a good paper cutter. See this video for ideas. If you work this method – proudly wave that freak flag! Yes, I have waved this flag and you will get double looks in the store, so be prepared. However, you can laugh right out the door with your major savings!

6. Time – obviously we need some time to organize and research. For optimum savings, this is crucial.

7. List – Don’t leave home without it! Make your list and carry it with you. Sometimes I can work on my list off and on all week. So keeping it with me is a MUST. You just never know when or where you will learn of a sale or remember you need to stock up on an item.

Ok, we are onto a good start. Next Topic - Online Resources! Join in tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Coupon How-To: A mini series

I use to post about my savings and then I stopped posting, but kept saving. Then I stopped clipping and with that, I stopped saving. So, I'm going to take you on my journey back to savings from the start. It really is easy to do, and easy to get caught up in. After several years I have learned several lessons. I hope you will join me in this little series of posts over the next few days.

The biggest misconception regarding coupons revolves around the generic vs name brand prices. Yes most of the time you can purchase generics for cheaper than a name brand counterpart. However, if you have a coupon for a product and it is on sale - add up the savings and it is cheaper than the generic. I have also found that not all products are created equal, so I have some brand loyalty.

I will also start out with I am a fan of being able to shop at a one stop shop too, however I am a bigger fan of saving money and to do that, I sometimes have to shop at a few different locations. This is how I became such a huge fan of Walgreens and CVS. However, keep in mind not all stores are created equally either. Thankfully, I work in a town where there are several options.

Last, let's talk CLEARANCE! That word makes me happy. I love clearance. Did you know you can use coupons on clearance items? YES! Isn't it delightful? It is like Christmas. I rarely walk into a store without checking out clearance. A true frugal wanna-be has to check out clearance items.

So for our crash course, let's say you have clipped coupons for a month and have them neatly stored in your coupon keeper and you are going to the store. (this is an actual example that happened to me) You notice your favorite shampoo is on clearance (they are designing a new label so it is time to get the old off the shelf). This is the kind of shampoo you LOVE but never buy because the cost is so much more than the generic. But today it is on sale for $2.99 and you have several $2 off coupons. STOCK UP! BUY ALL YOU CAN! You just purchased your favorite shampoo for .99 cents! That is cheaper than the generic by over a dollar. I won't even get you started on the fact that I haven't had to purchase toothpaste in over a year. That's right - I only get it when it's free - and it's free ALOT! Are you getting excited? Strap on your seat belts, I'm going to show you how.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Party Themes

My husband and I lead a small group at our church. We have 4/5 other couples over twice a month. Our time constrant is 3 hours and we eat dinner together in potluck style. I've compiled a list of themes and I thought I'd share them with you since I haven't seen anything exactly like this online. I hope you find something on this list helpful. Please feel free to add to the list in my comments.
  1. Crazy Night - attire: crazy hats, glasses, shoes etc.; dinner: crazy off the wall delicious recipes you have that isn't the norm; decor: fun party atmosphere.
  2. Fiesta - dinner: favorite mexican dish; decor: mexican fiesta - cactus, sombreros, chillis, maracas, etc
  3. Rise and Shine - attire: pajamas, slippers; dinner: breakfast food, oj, chocolate milk, coffee;
  4. Mafia Night - attire: mobster; dinner: Italian
  5. Tailgate - attire: fav football jersey; dinner: platter sandwiches, chilli, potato skins, chex mix, rice krispie treats
  6. Octoberfest - dinner: german
  7. Wienie roast - environment: outdoors; dinner: hot dogs, chips, smores
  8. Chilli cookoff - dinner: chili - all kinds, cornbread, crackers
  9. Finger foods - dinner: only food you can eat with your fingers
  10. Appetizers - dinner: appetizers and snacky food.
  11. Luau - attire: hawaiin shirts, flip flops, beachware; dinner: hawaiin luau food - bbq pork, pinapple, etc.
  12. Chuckwagon - dinner: bbq beef sandwiches, chips, applesauce, salad; decor: raffle tickets, paper placemats, hair nets
  13. Pizza Night - dinner: everyone bring a homemade pizza.
  14. Best Dish - dinner: bring your specialty dish.
  15. Pie in the face- dinner: chilli pie, shepherds pie, chicken pot pie; attire: aprons and chef hats; decor: diner feel
  16. Fondue Date Night - dinner: fondue - cheese with meatballs, cocktail weiners, raw veggies
  17. Encore Dinner - dinner: progressive dinner style (each couple responsible for one of the entrees-Appetizer, salad, main dish, dessert, drinks)
  18. Potluck Movie Theme - pick a movie and theme everything around it - attire to match example - dress as a character; dinner to match the theme (this will be easier with certain movies like Soul Food), decor to match theme.
  19. Soul food - Dinner: southern meals;
  20. BBQ - dinner: burgers, chips, baked beans, potato salad etc.
  21. Black Tie - attire: black tie (suit & dresses); dinner: five star cuisine; decor: high class
  22. Stick to it - dinner: kabobs (dessert and meal)
  23. 50's Night dinner: malts, shakes, burgers, casseroles
  24. Back to School dinner: school lunch tray, lunch lady apron & hair net, fav lunch line foods
  25. Spooktastic - dinner: scary foods; attire - halloween costume; decor: halloween
  26. Taco Bar
  27. Souper Bowl (Soup and Sandwich)