Tuesday, April 14, 2009


As some of you know, I have started quilting...there is a group of ladies that meets at Eastside on Thursdays to quilt for a couple of hours.  The quilts we make there are given to members of the congregation or community that need encouragement or deserve recognition for some reason.  I have been inspired to start my own quilt in addition to the quilt projects we work on as a group for the giveaways.  Terra wants me to post about my quilt in the different stages.  I have picked out my pattern and my fabric.  So, if you are interested, these are pictures of my fabric.  There are 5 fabric patterns, and two colors of each pattern.  I am going for a "retro" or vintage look.  There will be an off-white back-ground throughout the whole quilt.  I will post a picture of the pattern later.[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Sunday School!

Since it was Easter Sunday and I assumed everyone would be decked out in their finest, I took my camera with me to church and took some pictures of Owen in his Sunday School class.  They were all so cute!!!  Here are some pictures of Owen.  Pictures of his classmates are posted on Facebook.

[caption id="attachment_325" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Owen all decked out for Easter"]Owen all decked out for Easter[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_328" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Owen is loving on the baby kitten. He is learning that God made the animals."]Owen is loving on the baby kitten.  He is learning that God made the animals.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_329" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="God made the frogs, too!"]God made the frogs, too![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_326" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Learning that children should be "busy bees" and invite their friends to Bible Class."]Learning that children should be "busy bees" and invite their friends to Bible Class.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_327" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Our little theologian..."]Our little theologian...[/caption]

The Easter Bunny brought Owen a Swing!

For Owen's first Easter, he got a fun swing that is now hanging from a tree in our backyard.  Check out the pictures of my sweet boy.  He loves it!dsc_05861dsc_0601

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Couponing - Continued

I had a request for a little more information regarding how I saved so much money using coupons.  Specifically, Adam wanted to know about the workshop I attended.  I live in Cleveland, TN, and a couple of "extreme coupners" hosted a workshop at a local church for anyone in the community to attend.  The response was so overwhelming that they have done several other workshops and they have even developed follow-up workshops to teach participants how to take couponing "to the next level" and master the savings systems at drug stores like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.  I am looking for coupon workshops in the Murfreesboro Area, and I haven't found any yet.  If I run across one, I will post the details.

Since I can't provide a couponing workshop (I am a couponing beginner compared to these women!), I will just post some of the information I learned from the workshop and my own experiences.  I will also post the links to some "getting started" guides at the end of the post.

How to REALLY save money with coupons:

  1. Only buy products that are on sale.  This is easier said than done, especially at first.  This rule requires that you have a fully stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry.  So, to accomplish this, you must make stockpiles of items that you use frequently.  The first step is to find out what a good price is on the items that you use frequently.  When you see that it is at a good price, you buy enough of that product to last you until the next time it is on sale (usually about 6 weeks).  Because of stockpiling, sometimes your first few shopping trips will see like you are spending more money, but it will end up saving you money in the long run.  I would suggest using separate transactions and possibly even different stores for your purchases that you must buy that are not on sale until your stockpile is set up.

  2. Know the coupon policies at different stores.  For example, does the store you are going to require that you buy two products when they are on sale for B1G1 free?  Or, can you buy one item at half price?  Will your store allow you to "stack" a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon?  Does your store double or even triple coupons?  Southern Savers is awesome in a million different ways, but the writer really helps me out by stating the coupon policies for each store when she lists the deals for the week.  For example, Bi-Lo doubles coupons that are $0.60 and under.  So, if I have two coupons for a product, one is $0.75 off and the other is $0.55 off, at Bi-Lo, I should use the $0.55 coupon, because it will double to $1.10 off.

  3. Get a Kroger Plus Card, Bi-Lo Bonus Card, Food Lion MVP Card, CVS ExtraCare Card or any other discount card you can.  If you have a Kroger in your area, there are actually websites you can go to that will load coupons to your Plus Card that will automatically be applied to your purchases when they scan your card at check-out.  To make this even cooler, the coupons loaded to your card are manufacturer's coupons, and you can actually use a paper  manufacturer's coupon for the same item.  I don't really understand the technology, but the cash register will apply both manufacturer's coupons if one is electronic and one is paper.  A full description of this process can be found here:  http://www.southernsavers.com/2009/03/new-cellfire-coupons/.

  4. Take inventory of what you have, and find a way to use it.  If you are like me, there are probably groceries in the back of the freezer or pantry that would make up a perfectly good meal, but they are just lonely and forgotten.  Figure out a way to use those groceries to lighten your grocery load for the week.  Similarly, search the sales each weeks and develop your grocery list from those items.  At the coupon class, they suggested making a list of several meals you have regularly at your house and compile a list of all of the ingredients you need to make that meal.  If you have that list handy, you can search through the sale papers for the items you need to complete that meal.

  5. Don't be fooled by lower prices at Wal-Mart.  Jenny from Souther Savers explains it better than I could, so go check out her comments: http://www.southernsavers.com/2009/03/kraft-dressing-wal-mart/.  However, Wal-Mart will match the advertised sale price of any competitor (not B1G1 free).

  6. Get multiple copies of coupons if possible.  Most of the coupons I use come from the Sunday Paper (a schedule of the coupon inserts can be found here: http://www.southernsavers.com/2008/12/2009-coupon-inserts-schedule/).  Some coupons I print from the internet.  Internet coupons should not be copied on a copy machine, but sometimes they will let you print multiple copies.  As far as paper coupons, you get as many as you buy.  Why is this important?  It has to do with stockpiling.  Lets say that Hunt's Ketchup is B1G1 free at Kroger.  You have a $1 off coupon.  If you buy two bottles of ketchup and use one $1 off coupon, you have two bottles of ketchup for the price of one minus a dollar.  That is a good deal; however, if you have two coupons, you can use two coupons because you have two bottles of ketchup.  So you are taking a $1 off the bottle you are paying for, and, theoretically, you are taking a $1 off the free bottle.  Now you have two bottles of ketchup for the price of one minus two dollars.  If you buy two small bottles of ketchup, you might have gotten two bottles free, or very close to it.

  7. Don't buy something you will not use just because you have a coupon UNLESS that item will be free and someone you know can use it OR it will give you an overage that will apply to a different item of your purchase.  See number 9 for ideas on sharing the coupon wealth.

  8. Be honest with your coupons.  Don't try to use coupons which are expired, copied, or otherwise invalid.  The manufacturers will not reimburse the store for these coupons and it makes for stricter coupon rules at the stores.  We want the stores to be glad we are using coupons (the store gets reimbursed for the face value of the coupon and makes $0.08 on every valid manufacturer's coupon used).  Also, if there is a coupon dispenser or tear pad at the grocery store, don't take all of the coupons.  You can't use them all, but everyone can use one or two.

  9. Be generous with your coupons.  If you have coupons that you are not going to personally use, try to use them to help others.  You might not eat Spam, but it is a staple at most church pantries.  If you get a good deal on it, you could donate it to the church pantry to be used as an outreach ministry to the needy in your community.  If there is a coupon that you are not going to use, hand it to someone looking at that product.  There is a "coupon fairy" here in Cleveland that will tape her unused coupons to products at the store for the lucky person who picks up that item to use when they check out.

  10. Start small.  If you don't you will very soon be overwhelmed and give up.  Maybe get a parter to coupon shop with you.  Read the blogs and ask questions if you have them.  Set a specific goal, like this week, I want to save 10% of my total shopping expenses.  Start out "working" just one or two stores.

Great Couponing Resources:












Coupon Lingo is listed on every page of the Southern Savers website.  If you see something that you don't understand, comment on that website, or let me know and I will explain or find out.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Ok, since I am no longer working outside the home, I have decided that my "job" should be to find ways to save us money.  In February, I went to a Couponing Workshop.  I was OVERWHELMED with information regarding how to use coupons.  It all seemed so complicated, and with a 6 month old, I am looking for as little complication as possible.  I have been clipping my coupons and trying to use them over the past couple of months, but it seemed like this week, something clicked with me, and I got totally in the coupon zone.  I have been reading this blog called Southern Savers (www.southernsavers.com).  The lady that writes this blog goes through all of the weekly adds for the grocery stores and pharmacies in her area, lists everything that is on sale, and also tells you what coupons are out there for those products.  She even gives scenarios using the weekly specials to show you how to use "overages" to get other products free or close to it.

I am not going to lie...I spent a lot of time this week reading that blog, printing online coupons, and trying to figure out what to buy from what stores.  Then, yesterday, I spent at least 3 hours in two grocery stores.  I think I could have gotten finished sooner, but with it being a holiday for a lot of businesses and the Friday before a major holiday, the stores were crowded.  Also, I had to ask store clerks to go in the back and find different items for me because other couponers had beaten me to the punch.  Thankfully, Andy was off work and kept Owen for me

Here is a little back-ground on my grocery shopping habits of late.  I usually spend between $90 and $120 a week at the grocery store.  That includes household items like laundry detergent and personal items like razors and make-up. Lately, I have been putting off going to the grocery store as much as possible, so before yesterday, I hadn't done a true shopping trip in several weeks.  On Thursday, when all I could find at the house to eat for lunch was a bag of microwave popcorn, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and go shopping.  I knew it would be a big trip since we were out of almost everything.

All of that to say, yesterday I spent a total of $121.45 out of pocket for my groceries.  My receipts show a savings of $91.50.  So that is a total of $212.95 worth of groceries that I bought for $121.45.  That comes to a total savings of 43% ($91.50/$212.95).  My question is was it worth it?  I think so, but I would like to know your opinions.  Would you invest that kind of time and energy into using coupons?