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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Extreme Couponing Experiment: Week 2

No, no, this won't be all I blog about anymore, I promise.  But perfecting my new craft and hobby, while dealing with two little twerps who have decided they are too cool for naps, has made me a very busy mamma!

In the Week 1 post, I set a few goals for this week .  I said that I wanted to see a 40% savings at the grocery store, and to get our total purchase under $200, and a 60% savings at Target, spending no more than $40.00 for the week.  Well, turns out I needed diapers and printer ink so we went way over $40 at Target!

This week was rough at Safeway.  I'm finding that actual grocery (not toiletries) coupons are hard to come by.  I did manage to keep my total just under $200.00 though, and I saved a total of $90.48, which was $46% of my bill and meets the goal I set for myself!   

At Target, I saved $67.13, that was 40% of my bill.  Not exactly the 60% I was hoping for, but really, that's fantastic considering that 64% ($107.06) of my bill was diapers and printer ink, which almost never go on sale or have significant coupons.  That means I saved 67% off the rest of my stuff this week.

I also ventured to Walgreens this week.  With the new no napping business we need excuses to get out of the house, and although Walgreens is the furthest store from me, I've been impressed with their sales and coupons in the past two weeks since I started this new adventure.  Boy, am I glad I did it!  I saved $56.63, which was 189% of my total bill!  I swear I even got paid to take a few items home with me!

29 Items = $23.95 - That's like paying $0.82 per item!

A few of my bast deals this week:
  • Diaper Bag = $0.00
  • Complete Contact Solution = (- $1.00)
  • 2 Degree Deodorants = (-0.06)
  • 2 Suave Deodorants = $0.09 each
  • 4 Old Spice Body Washes = $2.00 plus two free deodorants and 2 free body sprays.
Well, we'll never need deodorant again!  But, if we do, I swear, I'll never pay for it again!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Extreme Couponing Experiment: Week 1

So, it's been one full week of dedicating my shopping to sales and coupons.  Here's how it went.

According to this weeks receipts, I saved $100.88 at Safeway, that was 31% of my bill.  I also saved $64.90 at Target.  That was 45% of my bill. Admittedly, my grocery bill was about the same as usual, but I got a lot more for my money this time!  I expect that it will be that way for the first month, while I work on my collection of coupons and begin my stockpile. 

Stockpile in progress
I realized very quickly that this new project of mine could quickly become overwhelming and all-consuming.  Sunday and Monday all of my "free" time (which was is very short supply with two sick, not sleeping, babies) was dedicated to clipping, sorting, organizing coupons and sifting through adds to pair my coupons with.  I was going to have to come up with a strategy, quickly!  By Tuesday, not only had I upgraded my purple 1 1/2 inch binder to a pink 3 inch binder, I realized that I would need to focus my efforts on one or two stores and then maybe visit others stores if there is a deal on something we love that is just too good to pass up.  My two stores will be Target and Safeway.  These are stores I already visit a few times a week, and are closest to me. 

There are a ton of websites online that are dedicated to couponing and provide lots of resources and help sifting through the deals.  I like The Krazy Coupon Lady because I find her site the easiest to navigate.  Also, she is from Northern California as well, so the deals she shops will likely have the same rules as the stores I visit (like no doubling or tripling coupons *super pouty face*).

And so, with my pretty, pink, coupon binder, and my shopping/coupon list, I set out to Safeway and Target.  Here are a few of the best deals I cashed in on this week:

  • 4 Safeway pastas + 4 Classico pasta sauces = $6  Like paying $0.75 each
  • Sure Deoderant = $0.50 each
  • Wrigly's 5 Gum = $0.29 each
  • Gerber Good Start Formula, reg $21.09 = $0.49
  • Acne Free Terminator, reg $5.99 = $1.74 each

I also set out to purchase Ponds wipes (regularly $4.99) that after coupons should have been $1.49 each, but had a mix up and purchased more than I had coupons for, so I paid $2.74 each instead.  Still a good price, but not what I was out to get.  Lesson learned, stick to the plan mapped out on the list, and don't rush through the store.

Our biggest challenges this week have been giving up our brand loyalty.  We have to change the way we think about shopping.  The idea is to purchase whatever is on sale and that you have coupons for, before you need it and sometimes that means buying a different item than you're used to.  We've been used to certain foods and conveniences (like squeezable mayo!) for such a long time, it's hard to switch to the product that's 90% cheaper when it's on sale and paired with a coupon!

Did anyone try this out with me?  What were your best finds?  What's your secret?

I'm already plotting next weeks shopping trips!  Now, I feel like I have a better strategy and will be better equipped to seek out our best deals. This week's goal: 40% savings at the grocery store, and to get our total purchase under $200.  And 60% savings at Target, spending no more than $40.00 for the week.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Growing up, my grandmother was the crazy coupon lady. She had an entire spare bedroom dedicated to her coupons and I remember it always having multiple piles, floor to ceiling, of coupons needing clipping, or who knows what.  I also remember her sending me and my cousins in to the stores with our own stack of coupons to purchase items for her in order to bypass the "per customer limit."  Although my family always teased her (ever lovingly so) I remember taking note that coupons must be worth while if she is willing to dedicate that much time and space to it.  

I have always shopped with coupons, but rarely save more than a buck or two.  I have an awful habit of letting them expire, or I end up getting the generic brand instead because a buck off of the $7.99 Advil, isn't as cheap as the $4.29 generic...  However, since I've stopped working, I have been more dedicated to my coupons and am constantly hatching plans to help make up the income I walked away from.  

Just the other night, I went into Target to stock up on enough baby food and formula to get me through the next few days, and I used enough coupons to get $40.00 worth of food and formula for just $13.00.  Another customer in line joked and called me an "extreme couponer."  And I admit, I was pretty impressed with myself and pleased to save that kind of money on such expensive items that almost never go on sale.  

That night, in between my chores, I watched for the first time, the first four episodes of the new TLC show, Extreme Couponing. The show wasn't all that great.  I had expected that they would show some of the secrets on how these ladies walk out of the store with $1,200.00 worth of goods, but pay just $8.74.  But!  It did get me thinking and sorta inspire me to try and be a bit more frugal.  Even if I only save $50.00 off my nearly $200.00 a week grocery bill, it will have been worth it!

Let me just say, I never expect to walk out of the grocery store for $8.74.  Meats, beer, wine, fresh produce, almost never have coupons, so even though I can shop around for the very best deal, I'll only be walking out of the store for under $10 if I skip those things....and nothing is coming between me and my wine!

Today, I'm upgrading my pocket coupon organizer, to a 1 1/2 inch purple binder, organized into 36 different categories.  Tomorrow I will hit up my favorite newspaper giver-awayer from in front of WalMart and try to convince him to give me six newspapers so I can start hording all those coupons.

One thing I did learn from the show is that stockpiling is the key.  Having enough of your regular "needs" on hand so that you never purchase it at full price.  So Over the next week, I plan to clean out and organize our pantry, and set aside some room in our garage to start storing the things we will need.  Now, let me clarify, I will never have 400lbs of toothpaste, like on of the couponers from Extreme Couponing!  Just enough to get us through to the next sale.  If I can't resist a freebie, and I stock up on more than we need, I vow it will go to the food bank or into a care package for our soldiers over seas.

I expect that with two little babies this is going to be a big challenge since getting the best deals means shopping two to four times a week.  But I'm looking forward to it as a great excuse to get us out of the house!

So, Just normal ol' me, your average shopper, a mom looking to save a few bucks and so so on minimal time.  Join and follow me on this experiment and adventure.  Wish me luck!

Monday, May 2, 2011

What A Year!

Today, our twins are five months old, exactly one year, to the day, after we found out I was pregnant.  

A year ago, I day dreamed about what life would be today.  It's fun to look back now and see how close, or not, I was.  Mostly, I was way off.  For starters, I had no idea we would be having twins, and I expected that my baby would be just three and a half months old at this point.  I had no idea I would not be working, and I couldn't even begin to imagine just how crazy I would be about these little people.  I did know that Joey would be an amazing father, and that I would question my mothering abilities every single day.

Austin & Makayla ~ Five Month Old!
Five months old is a lot of fun.  I have to say, it has been a lot of hard work getting here, and still is a lot of hard work, but the work is getting more and more rewarding every day.  They are both smiling and giggling regularly now, and are able to push up on their elbows to explore the world in front of them.  Austin is really enjoying his new exersaucer and Makayla loves shaking the bells she received from Blind Babies.

If this last weekend in any indication, the five month mark may be the beginning of getting a little bit back to "normal life", as well.  On Friday, I took the babies with me for a fairly long car ride to meet more of their great-grandparents.  Although Makayla had a bit of a hard time when we got there, the trip was pretty smooth and I have to count it as a success.  Definitely a trip I'll be willing to make again!

Then, on Saturday, Joey and I took them with us to Chevy's for their great-grandfather's 84th birthday.  This was their first trip to a restaurant.  We were very nervous about taking them, but figured there would be enough capable hands to keep them happy at least long enough for us to tell grandpa, happy birthday, even if we had to come right home.  They were perfect!  They watched the busy hectic world of Chevy's swirl around them, and Joey and I both ate, before making an early exit...because after all, five-month-olds have very limited attention spans.  But in the end, we count this as another great success.  We are glad we took the risk and went.

It feels so good to get out and enjoy doing things as a family.  I love watching Austin and Makayla soak in the world around them, so eager to learn everything they can get into their grasp. 

Happy 5 month birthday, little kidlets!