Pretty lazy Friday around here – it is just too hot to do too much these days!  So after cleaning up around the house, the kiddos and I ventured out to run errands. First stop was Blockbuster so they could swap out their movies (for free!) from our Club Wannawatchamovie memberships.  If you missed my post on that, you can read it here:  http://occupiedlife.com/2011/07/18/summer-school/

Then we stopped at Winn Dixie where I scored 4 boxes of Snackwell cereal bars (2 boxes of Peanut Butter and two boxes of Chocolate) and two boxes of family sized Pillsbury brownie mix.  Before coupons & deals the total was :  $17.94!  After deals, coupons, etc.  my total spent is 0.99!  YEAH!  Ninety nine cents!  How did that happen….. here is what I did (I used two transactions for this):

Transaction #1    

bought two boxes brownie mix (on sale bogo and had a .40 cents off coupon)

bought two boxes Snackwell bars (on sale for $2 each and also had a .75 cents off coupon for each one)

total before coupons and sale prices: 11.36 * after coupons and sale prices I paid $4.49 out of pocket AND I got a $3 catalina coupon back for my next shopping trip

Transaction #2

bought two more boxes Snackwell bars (on sale for $2 each and also had a .75 cents off coupon for each one)

total before coupons and sale prices:  $6.58 * total after coupons and sale prices I paid $2.50 AND I got another $3 catalina coupon

Total out of pocket for both orders was $6.99 AND I got the $6 in catalinas for the next time I am at Winn Dixie.  I did not try to use the catalina coupons today because sometimes if you use a like coupon for your order and those items are in the order, you will NOT get another coupon.  Not sure if I explained that clearly or not but basically you usually cannot “roll” catalina coupons because they won’t print other ones for you.

Winn Dixie also has the new Cocoa Puffs Brownie Crunch cereal on sale for $2 each box and a few weeks ago there were .75 cents off one box coupons that came out in the newspaper.  I got four boxes a few days ago for $1.25 each but just thought I’d put that in here so you can snag that deal too if you venture over there.

After that excitement 😀  we headed over to Cold Stone Creamery to use a $20 gift certificate that I got a few months ago over on LivingSocial.com   I paid $10 for the $20 gift certificate and so all four of us got HUGE portions of ice cream with one mix in each!  Total there was -0.04 cents!  LOL!  Not kidding, the total was NEGATIVE 4 cents!  I just let them keep the four cents.

Then we headed home to settle down in ice cream bliss while some homemade pizza dough is getting ready in the bread machine for dinner and movie night later today.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand (flour, yeast, etc) and I use leftover spaghetti sauce for pizza sauce, the only real cost to me for making a pizza is the cheese which I try to get on sale for $1.50 or less per 8 oz bag. Even cheaper than the $5 pizza deals at the chain pizza places!

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Lately a strange thing is happening at some nation-wide store chains….. it’s happened a few times and it is driving me crazy!

I go over the store sales ad (yes, it is the right one for my area).  I make a list. I pull my coupons.  I organize my trip.  I go to the store, list, coupons and store card in hand.  I get my cart.  I go in the store.  Guess what?  The items that are IN the flyer, ON sale, have NO chance of being in the store.  I am not talking about a store running out of an item.  I am talking about them NEVER having the item! 

Case in point:  went to CVS to buy the Schick deal they have going (spend $20 on certain Schick items and get $10 extra care bucks).  I am going to buy two Hydro Razors (in the ad, on sale, included in the deal) and two Skintimate shaving creams (also in the ad, on sale, included in the deal).  I tell the manager that I would like to get two of the razors (they are locked up on the rack).  She says “We don’t have any and we aren’t getting any in.  There are no more for distribution.”  WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?

WHY would a national drug store advertise a product that NONE of the stores will be able to get or have in stock for the sale?  This is happening more and more often.  Several times in the past few months in different stores.  I understand there are rainchecks, but this was a whole deal with extra care bucks and coupons involved.  A raincheck is just not feasable.  Won’t work. 

All I am asking is for stores not to advertise items on sale that they won’t have.  Is that really too much to ask?

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Recently I have been talking to a lot of people about the amount of money spent on groceries and household items.  This topic is really interesting to me because I am an avid couponer. 

For our household of four, I budget $50 per week for groceries and other household stuff (paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc).  To me that is a reasonable amount.  Easily do-able.  Sure more money would be nice, but right now that’s what my budget allows.

When we are at the store and my kiddos ask for something that is not on the list or not in the budget, I explain to them that we spend less per month at the store than some people spend in a week.  Shelby gets a real kick out of seeing the before and after coupon totals.  I really enjoy that part too!  Usually they are so excited about whatever snack items were on sale that week that they don’t miss what we did not buy!

 

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We have two, 14 year old cats. They are not picky about what they eat as long as it is dry food.  Just about any kind of dry bagged food is fine with them.  The issue is that when they only have “crumbs” left in the bowl, they refuse to eat it.  I am not talking about the “dust” type stuff at the bottom of the bag.  The stuff I am talking about is a mixture of broken pieces and whole pieces of food that is left in their dish. 

Although it might not seem like it, it is quite a bit of food at times.  What I do is mix in a tiny bit of canned cat food with all of the “crumbs” in their bowl.  I just cannot see wasting that food and this way it is sort of like a treat for them since they very rarely get moist food.

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My hair is SUPER curly and frizzy.  For years I have tried to get it under control, trying every product on the market.  Even the expensive stuff everyone else swears by does not work.  Then I found this one simple trick. 

I only wash my hair once or twice a week.  I wash it as ususal then towel dry it.  I then take a quarter sized amount of regular conditioner (does NOT need to be “leave in” conditioner) and work it into my hair, starting at the ends.  Then I brush my hair and let it air dry.   Thats it! 

It works great and leaves my hair smelling fresh!  One bottle of conditioner (Suave works best for me) lasts a really long time!  This is also a great detangling method for little ones.  If you want to make your own detangler, just put a little conditioner in a spray bottle and add water.  Spray on hair and brush as needed.  Again, much cheaper than buying the premade bottle sprays.

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I have been buying and selling items online since 1999.  Unfortunately for me (and my budget) I am a confessed bibliophile.  I LOVE books!  Going into the bookstore is a very, very bad idea for me.  It is difficult to go in there and leave without spending at least $100.    My FAVORITE online shopping site is:

www.half.com

Years ago, when half had just started, they only sold books and they had to be priced less than half of the retail price (yeah, that’s how they came up with the name).  Prices went SO low on some books that they were a penny.  Eventually Ebay bought half.com and instituted a minimum price of 75 cents and items can be priced at any price above that.  Half.com now sells books, music, video games, dvd’s, vhs tapes , game systems, game controllers, all sorts of stuff. 

The neat thing about half.com is that it is a hybrid between an auction site and a store.  The items are offered at fixed prices, by individual sellers, but half.com acts as a middle man of sorts.  They process all the payments and the seller ships the items to the buyer.  Half pays out to the sellers twice a month and they include a shipping allowance for the seller as well.

I purchase all of my items thru half.com now.  It is really very rare that I need to go to a bookstore to buy an  item.  I know I will probably be able to find it for under a dollar (plus shipping) on half.com.  I buy things for myself and also as gifts there.  I make sure to select “Like New” items from sellers with good feedback so that I make sure to give a nice gift. 

I also sell my items on half too.  My kids know when they are tired of a video game, we can sell it on half and they can make some money back to get a new game.  They make more money per game online than they could ever make trading it in at the game stores.

If you have an Ebay account, that is the same login info for half.com.  Hop over and try it out!  See what you could be saving on your entertainment purchases!

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When school ended this year, Shelby went to her “Fifth Grade Graduation”.  The theme was “Hollywood: Black & White”.  It was a very red carpet affair, complete with “swag bags” full of goodies from local merchants.  Shelby came home very excited!  She was showing me all the stuff she got in her bag and then pulled out a PILE of coupons for free stuff!  I asked her “Where did all those come from?”  She replied “My friends didn’t want them and were throwing them away so I brought them home for us to use!”  She had coupons for free Italian Ice, pizza, Chick Fil A, bowling, Wendy’s, etc.  I would say she brought home about $100 worth of coupons! 

A few weeks ago, Ben still had $20 of birthday money that was burning a hole thru his pocket.  We were near a GameStop store and he wanted to go in. I happened to have a “buy two used games and get one free” coupon on me, so I said okay.  He could pick out two games $10 or less each and then he agreed to let Shelby pick a game too (the free one).  So, we spread out all the used Wii games that were under $10 on the floor.  Ben picked two and Shelby picked out one.  The total was $24 and change. Ben paid with his $20 and I paid with the coupon and the balance of $4 and change.

A few days later, Ben comes to me and says “Mom can we go get more games from GameStop?”  I explained to him that he used all his birthday money and we had no more money for games.  He said to me, “Oh yeah.  You gotta have dollars or COUPONS to get the games, right Mom?”  OMG!  I fell over laughing!

The moral of the story is if you don’t believe that your children are watching and paying attention to everything you do, then YOU aren’t paying attention:-D

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Some of my favorite memories from my childhood were also some of the most unusual times of my life.  When I was in elementary school, my mother worked for an answering service at night.  She worked the 11 pm – 7 am shift.  Since my father traveled for work a lot, she occasionally had to take my sister and I to work with her.  We were both in elementary school at the time.  I remember sleeping behind the huge switchboards. I remember getting dressed for school in the bathroom down the hall from the office.  I remember stopping for Krisy Kreme donuts on the way to school in the morning! 

In that tradition, I try to do “unusual” things with my kiddos every once in a while.  Last summer we went out to the beach at 10 pm at night.  I let them swim in the dark, vast ocean.  There were no crowds, no heat, no parking issues.  They thoroughly enjoyed it!  On the way back home we stopped for ice cream.  They still talk about it to this day.

A lot of times when Shelby asks what we are doing or where we are going and I tell her of my big plans, she says “Mom, you’re crazy!”  I just know that you gotta keep ’em on their toes!

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