Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bewitched, Bewildered and Bedazzled!

About six months ago the Flock Warden and I were in bed watching Creative Juice (well, I was watching he was reading something chicken or science related, I'm sure) and I saw them use a Bedazzler. "Will you look at that, I haven't seen one of those in 30 years!" I think his response was something like "uh huh".   I'm going to look for one the next time I go garage sale-ing!"  More 'uh huhs'. 
Fast forward a few months to the height of garage sale season.  There were so many neighborhood sales that weekend that I had to actually choose which ones to go to--not enough hours in the day to cover them all, which I would normally try to do.  The first sale I get out at, I see it.  Still in the box, an original from 30 years ago (just look at the nails on the cover!)  My heart starts beating faster.  I immediately pick it up just in case someone else dreams of studding everything in their house.  The nice owner comes over and tells me that she's had it forever thinks she used it maybe once.  All the parts and pieces are intact.  I hold my breath waiting for the price.  A dollar she tells me, A DOLLAR!! 

I come home and spend the next few weeks searching for the rhinestones and studs everywhere.  I mention to my mom that I can't locate them anywhere.  The next day she sends me the link to Joanns online with a whole assortment of stones and studs!  How does she do that?  The packages are about $6, but with a coupon or sale I know I can do better.  So I wait. And wait.  Now I'm stalking them online.  The go on sale for $4. Perfect! I'll order them now. Checkout says  $6 for shipping. NO WAY I am paying more for shipping than the actual stones!  More stalking (and sulking) until Cyber Monday comes along.  Surely they will have free shipping now.  The stones are on sale for $3.19, a steal!  Back to checkout, still $6!  Now I'm getting crazy.  Okay, I'll Google search for a coupon code.  Sure enough Coupon Cabin has one for free shipping, and it works!  Of course, at that price I had to buy two!

Now I just have to decide what to Bedazzle first. Maybe the Flock Warden would like me to Bedazzle his name on that nice canvas fishing gear bag I gave him for his birthday.  Hmm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bags, Beads and Blankies, Oh My!

Tis' the season to be busy!  Trying to finish up all the WIPs  and Christmas gifts I've started.  I found the pattern for these little bags online and couldn't wait to make them.  I've had these raincoat fabrics for about a year just waiting for the perfect project. The bags gave me a chance to make something girly with them, something I don't get to do very often around here living with three guys!  Each measures about 5 by 9 inches and are both available in my Etsy shop.

I made these necklaces a while ago thinking I would actually wear them.  Then I remembered that the dogs are generally not impressed by bling.  I did try to feed them once in my high heels but my heel got caught in the deck, resulting in a moderate amount on cursing and a delay in the delivery from the chuck wagon.  They were definitely not impressed.  Hopefully a lucky lady with a little more glam in her life will give these pretties a new home.  Also available in my Etsy shop.
And lastly, flannel blankets for my favorite tiny people.  I embroidered the back with their names, rounded the corners and tried out some stitches I never get to use.  Super fun!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Couponing Part 1.5 The Grocery Store

I thought of a few more things worth mentioning about couponing:

Share what you have.  Not going to use all of those 11 boxes of rice?  Over your canned peas and jello cravings? Keep a bag or box in your pantry for items to donate.  Here in Central Florida there are many food banks who are in need of groceries all year long.

Be a coupon fairy.  If you decide not to purchase something you have a coupon for just leave your coupon on the shelf in front of the item.  You'll make someones day!

Pass your coupons on.  Military families can use coupons up to 6 months after they expire.  You can find a list of addresses to send coupons to here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Couponing Part 1 The Grocery Store

Like most people we have felt the effects of the economy in our home.  Making ends meet is a constant challenge for us.  We have cut back or cut out all non essentials.  Having said that, I have to tell you that in our house we are all about food!  I live with three guys who can put away a serious amount of groceries.  We seldom eat out so that means I am making three meals a day for four people-who can eat A LOT.  What's a mom to do?  S-T-R-E-T-C-H those grocery dollars by couponing of course!  I have always been careful, shopping sales and cutting coupons but today there are so many resources available that it's even easier to get more coupons and, thanks to the hard work of a few very smart women, to get the best possible deals (see my list of favorites to the right.)  I save anywhere from $40 to $80 weekly, feeding my family of four for about $110 per week. So here's my routine for saving at the grocery store:

1.  Keep a running list.  As soon as you think of something you need, write it down.  I keep mine in order of the aisles of my favorite store.

2.  Plan your meals.  I know this seems strange to a lot of people.  You don't have to have a rigid schedule of what you're eating when but it helps if you have five or more meals planned out.  You can ensure that you have all the ingredients you need and add any you don't to your list.

3.  Get the Sunday paper.  Those coupon inserts more than pay for the paper.

4.  Find  your favorite money saving blogs/websites and check them daily.  It takes only a few minutes, and  if there are really good coupons or offers out there they are often limited and you may miss out on the opportunity to print them if you don't do it right away.

5.  TWO is the magic number.  If you see a coupon online for an item you always buy or even think you would like to buy, print two.  Usually you can use your browser's back button, but sometimes you have to go back to the original page, choose which coupons you want again and print a second time.  Most manufacturers will only allow two prints.  You will be thrilled when these items go on sale or, my particular favorite, BOGO (buy one get one free) and you have that extra coupon to double your savings.

6.  Look everywhere for coupons!  Up and down the aisles of the grocery store, store displays, the customer service counter and those little blinkie things.  Remember TWO is the magic number (not twenty!). Even if you're not buying those items right then, chances are they will go on sale and you will be ready!  I have even trained my crew to search them out, my youngest having spotted a $2 peelie on the air filter I was buying... I was delighted!

7.  Know your stores policy on coupons.  Ask your store manager if you have any doubts about a coupon before you get to the checkout.  My Publix allows one store/competitor coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item. This is called stacking.  The store gets reimbursed for manufacturer coupons but not for store/competitor coupons.  My particular store will accept all grocery store coupons, Target, Whole Foods, Family Dollar and Dollar General coupons.  Stacking these is how I save the most money.  Be sure the item you buy is the exact same item as on the competitor coupon.

8.  Buddy up.  Find a friend who you can trade coupons with.  A large family will have different grocery needs than a couple.  I often ask my mom and sister for coupons they're not going to use, and I often save my coupons for them.

9.  Inventory and know your "buy" price.  Do a sweep inventory once a week adding to your list as needed.  Knowing what you have saves you time and money in the store (so you don't end up with four bottles of A-1 sauce and no ketchup for a week!)  My "buy" price is $1 or less.  If I don't really need something right now but can get it for my "buy" price, then I go ahead and get it.  This can be a sale or coupon item, but only non perishables that I know for sure we will use.  Which brings us to the final...

10.  Stockpile.  When you have the opportunity to get things either super cheap or free, buy as many as you can.  Teabags, mayonnaise, mustard and pasta/rice are a few of the items I have stockpiled.  If you have ever had to pay nearly $5 for mayo, you can understand why this works.

If you are new to couponing I hope this helps!  If you are a veteran, I hope you will share some of your wisdom.  Maybe together we can come up with more ways to eat and live well for less!