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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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:

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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:

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   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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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:

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 and instituted a minimum price of 75 cents and items can be priced at any price above that. now sells books, music, video games, dvd’s, vhs tapes , game systems, game controllers, all sorts of stuff. 

The neat thing about is that it is a hybrid between an auction site and a store.  The items are offered at fixed prices, by individual sellers, but 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 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  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  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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Warning….. this may be a long post and possibly boring to anyone who is not interested in the items mentioned in the title of this post!  LOL!

When I moved in with Dane, he had a satellite provider on one tv in the living room.  Thats it.  Nothing else anywhere in the house.  So, he called them and asked about hooking up the bedrooms.  It would cost an extra $200 for installation ?!?!?!?!?!?! and also be about $50 extra per month ?!?!?!?!?!?!?! and that does not include internet because they don’t provide that ?!?!?!?!?!?!  So, I had to come up with an alternate solution.

The kiddos have a Wii in their room so they get the Netflix streaming thru that, because I subscribe to Netflix.  That provides viewing options for them.  That left only our bedroom to find something for.  Enter the Roku.

I had wanted a Roku for a long time and now was the time to purchase one.  I bought the mid-grade one for $80.  It was easy to set up and now we get Netflix streaming along with a few other “channels” in our bedroom. All we had to do was purchase the box.  No monthly fee from them (but I still pay for Netflix, which I was paying for anyhow).  By the way I LOVE the Roku!

Now that Netflix has announced their price increases, I am rethinking my strategy.  We currently have the “2 out at a time plus unlimited streaming” plan which runs about $16 per month.  Soon it will be about $20 per month.  Which isn’t bad but I felt the need to examine my options.

This is how I figured it out:  Netflix at $16 per month was $8 for streaming and $8 for 2 movies out at a time (which for us was 2 per week = 8 movies a month).  That makes the movies about $1 each.  That’s okay.  The same price as Redbox rentals.  But NOW it will be $20 per month, $8 for streaming and $12 is for the 8 movies I get in the mail each month which makes them $1.50 each.  Not okay.  Not the same price as Redbox.  Enter Blockbuster Online………

For $10 a month, I can have one movie dvd out at a time, mailed to me, BUT I can take that movie to the Blockbuster store and turn it in for another movie while I wait for my next movie to be mailed to me.  This means that I will probably be able to get 4 movies a week (2 by mail and 2 in the store) which equals about 16 movies a month for $10!  That sure beats the 8 movies for $12 that Netflix would get me!  Plus no long queue waits for new release movies at Netflix!  I can just pick them up when I trade in my Blockbuster dvd at the store!

So, I think what I will be doing is keeping Netflix streaming for $8 a month and going with Blockbuster Online for dvds.  Total $18 a month.  I save a couple of bucks and I get more movies to watch.

This summer we finally tried Gamefly as a rental service for games for the Wii.  The premise is great!  The problem we had was that just about every game had a wait time.  There were very few “available now” games and that was just frustrating for the kiddos.  When we went to cancel our account, we were offered a “free month” so I accepted that and we will have to see how that goes.  I will say here that we have rented Wii games from Redbox at $2 a night and that worked really well for us!  It is a great way to see if you like a game before actually buying it.  A lot cheaper too!

I think that sums it all up.  Oh, and I went with the local cable provider for internet service because I have to have internet service for ANY of this to work!  LOL!

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The last time I got a “professional” haircut, I went home crying.  The stylist cut off WAY too much of my thick, curly hair that I had been growing out for years.  I was devestated.  I have not stepped foot in a salon since.

My two older girls have been cutting their own hair for years.  They are usually trying something new and edgy and the sylists just never get it right enough to suit their tastes.   My youngest daughter still goes to the salon every once in a while, but nothing regular.  Usually she just wants a new cut at the beginning of the school year.

My son and Dane have me cut their hair with my trusty pair of clippers that I have had for over 10 years.  I originally paid about $20 and they have lasted a long time.  I definitely made my money back on that deal.

Ben gets his hair clipped on a # 4 or 5.  The only thing I use scissors for is around his ears.  Ben says he likes his hair this short because “It doesn’t do anything and he doesn’t have to brush it!”  LOL!  Not to mention that I only have to cut it every few months.  It requires very little upkeep.

Dane gets his clipped on a #2.  He likes it shorter during the summer and then he just lets it grow until the next summer.  He only has me cut his hair once or twice a year.

My hair is a little more difficult (long, thick and curly). I don’t want anything new and “fun” so I don’t let my older girls touch my hair.  I don’t want another salon disaster so I don’t let stylists cut my hair.  I am NOT going to use clippers on my hair.  After doing some research and I reading an online description of how to cut my hair myself, I decided to try it out.  I have been cutting my own hair ever since with stellar results.  It takes me maybe 5 minutes to cut my hair.  I love having the freedom to trim it at my convenience, for free, the easy way.  This is how I do it:

I wash and condition my hair then brush it so it is smooth and tangle free.  Then I bend over, and flip my hair down towards the floor. I comb my hair out making sure it is smooth and straight, hanging down towards the floor . Then I hold my hair between my fingers and make a cut straight across my hair. Depending on how  thick your hair is, you may need to make more than one cut. I comb my hair down and cut it several times because it is so thick.  Also, I comb thru it several times while still bent over to make sure I got it even.  Just make sure you cut horizontally as straight as possible.  I just trim an inch or so off of my hair when I do this.  I suggest you start by cutting a little off, stand up and see how it looks and then trim a little more off if you need or want to.

By following these tips we easily save over $500 per year on hair cuts.  We only spend about $30 per year having a professional cut done (once or twice for Shelby and that’s it).  Cutting your own hair is easy and fast once you get the hang of it!

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We always buy our candy and take it into the movies with us (we buy our popcorn and sodas at the movies).  At this point, my kiddos know to save the candy wrappers so I can see if there are any codes in them before we throw them away.  Right now there are several candy brands that have promo codes inside their wrappers that you can use to enter and win prizes from them. 

This is the second time I have gotten a promo code inside a Peanut Butter M & M’s wrapper and won!  Both times I have received $3 in E-Movie Cash which can be used at participating movie theatres towards either a ticket or concessions.  Not a bad deal for buying a package of candy that I paid 25 cents for! 

If you are into this sort of thing, be sure to stay on the lookout for the specially marked M & M packages 😀

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