Hello everyone!  Sorry I haven’t been posting very much but I have been super busy getting my presentation ready for the 15th Annual Family Cafe  (which started today)!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended my presentation!  As promised, here is all the information I covered in my presentation, with active links to websites (just click on the highlighted text to get to the websites).

If you are looking for something I talked about and it’s not on here, please feel free to email me by using the link under my “About Me” section on the right side of this page.

FINE TUNING YOUR EXPENSES:

FIND MORE RESOURCES:

FUN FOR LESS:

  • How to get FREE movie tickets
  • Summer movie camps:  Cinemark and Regal
  • Cheap Movie Night:  Redbox  *  Netflix  *  Hulu Plus ** NOTE: Hulu is offering 2 FREE WEEKS!
  • Free Bowling & $25 bowling pass for adults:  Kids Bowl Free
  • National Parks pass for $10:  Access Pass
  • Websites to get good deals on places to go and things to do:  Living Social  *  Groupon  *  Half Off Depot  *  Ever Save
  • Great website to check for discounts on eating out:  Eat Drink Deals
  • Free events at:  Lowes  *  Home Depot (click on the “kids” tab at the top)  *  Lakeshore Learning  *  Michaels (kids club is $2 * family craft time is free)
  • Things to do at Down Town Disney:  Free Ghiradelli chocolate samples * play with the bricks at Lego and take your picture with the Lego Dragon * Go into the Trex cafe to see the Dinosaurs, then dig up some bones in the pit * Take the boat ride across the lake * get wet at the splash pad * build some awesome Mr & Mrs Potato Heads over at Once Upon a Toy * watch the fireworks
  • Legos :  Free magazine subscription and Free lego builds on the first Tuesday of every month (see local Lego store for details)
  • Have people do fun or boring stuff for you for $5 (had a Batman video done for Ben here): Fiverr
  • Amazon Music cd’s that you have purchased in the past may be available on MP3 for you for FREE on the Amazon website. Go to Amazon.com and log in.  Click on “Your Account” on the right side of page * Click onto “Cloud Player” * once the Cloud Player page loads, there should be a pop up saying how much of the music you purchased is available to “auto rip” to your cloud player as an MP3 format
  • Sell your unused gift cards on :  Cardpool or Ebay
  • Find a Freecycle group near you over at Yahoo Groups
  • Check over at Craigslist for deals
  • Check over at Freecycle for free stuff
  • Video Games:  find them for cheap on half.com or ebay.com  *  be sure to check how much they are new on Amazon.com before buying them used * also, go to your local Gamestop store and ask for a printout of the games that they have priced at under $5

FINALLY PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

  •  Just Between Friends consignment sales are a great place to sell your gently used items and get great deals on stuff you need and also fun stuff for the kids!
  • Find great DIY information on just about anything over at: Pinterest  and Instructables
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I do not have health insurance.  It’s a long story but that’s the short of it.  It is expensive to pay for medical care when you don’t have insurance.  I usually pay cash when I go to the doctor.  I try to go only when absolutely necessary and for my annual well-woman exam. I see a large group of doctors, but there is one female doctor in particular that I prefer to see because she always listens to me.

At my last well-woman checkup she noticed that the only times I really visit the doctor is for my checkups and for my blood pressure issues.  She asked me if I knew about the FREE clinic that the hospital runs for people without insurance.  Apparently all of the resident doctors are required to volunteer so many hours over at the free clinic as a condition of their employment with the hospital!

This is a basic clinic.  They don’t do ob or gyn care but they definitely handle simple things like blood pressure checkups and handing out a new prescriptions for daily medications as well as things like colds, flu, not feeling well, etc.  If you need bloodwork, they can get you a reduced rate for the labs to be done at the hospital.  Because this group of doctors works hand in hand with the hospital, they all have access to my medical records so when I go in to the clinic I am not “starting from scratch” with a doctor who has no idea about my health records.

In all honesty, I was happy to have a doctor who actually cares about me.  The fact that she went the extra mile to tell me about the free clinic was wonderful!  I would have never thought to ask if a hospital runs a free health clinic (here in Florida, the counties usually run the clinics).

So, if you are without insurance, ask around!  If there is a free clinic with you, maybe your doctor can tell you where it is!  It never ever hurts to ask!

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One of my favorite quotes, from the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”:

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or too early, to be whoever you want to be.  There’s no time limit.  Start whenever you want.  You can change or stay the same.  There are no rules to this thing.  We can make the best or the worst of it.  I hope you make the best of it.  I hope you see things that startle you.  I hope you feel things you never felt before.  I hope you meet people with a different point of view.  I hope you live a life you’re proud of.  And, if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

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Today Ben had a dentist appointment for his regular checkup.  Since we lost our insurance recently, I called ahead to find out how much this visit would be.  $135.  Okay.  Budgeted that in for the month, but since this is also back to school month and a month where we have three family birthdays, things were going to be really tight!  So, when we got there, I asked the hygenist if we could please not do xrays this time (even though they were due) and just do them next time.  She looked at his chart and since his teeth are always in great condition she said that would be fine.  Money saved for asking this one simple question ……….. $30!

After his dental appointment, I had the rare chance to do all of my grocery shopping at 4 different stores, in one straight shot.  Literally, all four stores I wanted to go to were within the same 5 miles on the same road!  So, since opportunity presented itself I took advantage of it.  Here is how things turned out:

We went to Publix, CVS, Winn Dixie and Dollar General Market (not the regular Dollar General, but something more like a “superstore” version of Dollar General). 

Grand Total (before coupons, sales and discounts):  $93.54

Total after coupons, sales and discounts:  $42.45

Total savings:  $51.09

Here is what we got:

4 boxes of Fruity Pebbles (that have $4 in coupons in each box)

2 bottles of Sunny D

1 gallon of T G Lee Milk

3 dozen eggs (2, 18 count packs)

1 loaf of Natures Own bread

1 package of hot dog buns

2 pounds of ground chuck

2 jars of Classico alfredo sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

4 jars of Skippy peanut butter

1 jar parmesean cheese

1 bottle pancake syrup

4 packages of Yakisoba japanese noodles

2 boxes of  Betty Crocker cake mix

2 boxes Kraft mac & cheese

1 package cream cheese

9 pounds of chicken legs

3 pounds of chicken tenders (boneless skinless)

Most of the chicken will be used for a birthday party I am hosting on the 14th.  When I get deals like these, it really is a combo of sales & coupons & reward card discounts.  I am a HUGE fan of clipping my coupons.  I know a lot of couponing sites out there tell you to just file your booklets of coupons and you just clip them as you need them. If you do that, you are relying on other people to know what coupons you have.  If you clip and file all your coupons, you ALWAYS know which coupons you have on hand and you can take advantage of all the opportunities available to you.

I love sharing that it is possible to get GREAT grocery deals, even here in Florida where we don’t have double coupons (BOOOOOOOO!).  At the same time, I don’t want to bore anyone with too many details.  If any readers out there want me to post detailed ways I get these deals, just let me know by commenting on this post and I will do that for you!  Also, if you want me to post all the shopping trips I do (one grocery trip and one drugstore trip each week, usually) then let me know that too!

Some people might think that this takes a lot of time.  I do spend time each week (usually Sunday and Wednesday) going over the flyers, clipping and filing my coupons and pulling the old ones out.  Most of the time I watch shows I have recorded or movies on the Netflix streaming.  I usually spend a few hours (maybe 5 or so????? at the most).  I usually do two shopping trips per week (CVS and Walgreens on Sunday then the grocery stores on Thursday or Friday) but they take one hour for each trip.  I don’t spend 40 hours clipping and then 6 hours in the stores or anything like that!  I look at it this way, if I save $100 per week (not hard to do between the drug store sales and the grocery sales) and I spend a total of 7 hours (5 clipping/filing  plus the 2 shopping) then I made almost $15 per hour TAX FREE for my efforts ($100 saved divided by 7 hours).  That is money I don’t have to spend and I get all the things my family needs!  That is a pretty good deal to me!

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Do you fill out those store surveys that seem to be on every store receipt these days?  I do!  You never know when you might win!  Most of the prizes are pretty big ($1,000 or so) and that would be a welcome addition to my income!

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After having four kiddos, I know most of the “tricks of the trade” for getting good deals on clothing for kids.  The number one, hands down, cheapest method of purchasing kids clothes is to find thrift stores that have “stuff a bag” deals  (of course getting free hand-me-downs is cheaper, but I am talking just about purchasing clothing).

I love those places!  Ususally they are run by charities or churches that just don’t have the manpower to handle all the clothing donations so they just dump them in a bin or on a table and let YOU sort thru it!  This is a GREAT way to find some wonderful deals!

I have gotten lots of tee shirts for Ben this way (Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, etc)!  He loves them all!  I have found clothing for myself and my daughters this way too. 

Usually I can fit about 12 items into one bag.  My favorite place that does this charges $3 per bag, so I am essentially paying about 25 cents per item of clothing.  Don’t forget that this is a good way to find sewing notions too! You can remove and reuse zippers, buttons, and if the clothing item is large enough you might even be able to reuse the cloth!

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I have been a member of Vocal point for a few months now and it is definitely worth the effort to sign up.  It is FREE!  In the past month I have gotten free trash bags (the Hefty ones with Frebreeze scents), a free bag of the new marshmallows made specifically for S’mores, a free coupon to try the new Bounce dryer bar, free coupon for Fresh Express Salads and a few other goodies!

I HIGHLY suggest you register today because the rumor mill is saying there will be a GREAT NEW offering on Tuesday!

You can register here:

 www.vocalpoint.com/registration/screener.aspx

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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 :-D   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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