Category Archives: Frugal/Money Saving Ideas

Holiday Coupons: Taming The Chaos

While I don’t really coupon any more, I love the holiday coupons!  holiday coupons

What I don’t love is hauling around a bunch of crumpled up pieces of paper in my purse.  What often happens is I’m in the store and making my purchase when I remember, Oh, yeah, I have a coupon! Said coupon is usually at home on the kitchen table.

I love the stores kind enough to load the savings on my reward cards. Thank you, CVS and Hy-Vee!  However, even my beloved CVS and Hy-Vee sometimes insist on mailing me paper coupons.

My tech savvy should be better but it’s not. I confess I usually print the e-mail coupons even when I know I could just show the bar code on my phone.  Sorting through a ton of e-mails on my phone while trying to make a purchase isn’t my style.

So how do I tame the chaos of all those holiday coupons?  Make a meticulous plan and go from store to store with coupons sorted and ready?  Ha! If you thought that would be my answer, you must be a new reader to this blog. Welcome to a place where things are usually anything but meticulous.

My Trick For Taming The Chaos Of The Holiday Coupons:

A folder!  It’s a bit scary how many times a simple folder solves problems over here.   holiday coupons

I put all my store coupons that I may want to use in my folder.  Then, when I’m going to go on a big holiday shopping spree, the folder lands on the front passenger seat of the car.

Upon arrival at each store, I simply take a minute to look through my folder and if I have a coupon, I throw it in my purse.

Having all my coupons in the folder, means if I end up near a store I didn’t originally plan to visit, I don’t have to worry about the coupon sitting on the kitchen table.  Usually in December, the folder will simply stay in the car.

Mostly, I limit my coupons to retail but it might also be a handy way to handle the restaurant coupons as well.

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Do you use coupons for your holiday shopping?  How do you keep track of them?

Spend Less September, Week 1

How did your first week of a spend less September go?  Here’s how the week of trying to spend less went over here. 

Goal 1: Cut the grocery bill in half

A great plan. Not a bad reality although I didn’t quite achieve the half-way mark.  I should note that I am a once a week grocery shopper and not a list maker.  It just works best for me.

I went about $20 over my half-way point and I’m going to call it a semi-success considering I managed to postpone a trip I usually make on either Sunday nights or Mondays until Thursday evening. Going right before my mom’s night out helped keep me focused although it was also a Chiefs game night so the store was busy!

Confession time: We did order pizza on Saturday night but it worked out as we had a coupon and it gave me something different to send in the boys’ lunch on Monday.

Goal 2: No Frivolous Target Trips

Done! Working helps with this. Not much of an evening or weekend shopper.

Goal 3: On-Line Shopping Freeze

Worked very hard at this goal. This is where the temptation is coming from lots of angles! I’ve been cringing and deleting lots of “deal” e-mails all week.  I did order some Gamma Labs G Fuel through Amazon on Sunday evening but it is something I drink every time I work.

Since it’s full of vitamin B & C and a lot more portable (and honestly, tastes better) than the other cold prevention drinks, I consider it a work expense. Certainly, missed it today and was glad to see the package on the doorstep after work.

Other Expenses This Week:

Thursday:

Mom’s night out was last Thursday and we ate out at a local Mexican restaurant. It was a much-needed break.  (about $22)

Friday:

Subway for football game night (planned, about $20), football game admission ($10 for my husband & I, we let J stay home until half-time), food and drink at game ($10, my husband didn’t want to eat Subway & ate at the game)

Saturday:

Finally mailed a package to a friend (about $13 for the box), BK for lunch for the boys & I ($15), and we ordered pizzas for dinner ($20 with a coupon).

Goals For The Coming Week:

  1. Cut Grocery Bill In Half, continue to find meals from items we have on hand
  2. No Target Trips!
  3. Only Eat Out One Time This Weekend (Need to be realistic over here)
  4. Keep Up On-Line Shopping Freeze
  5. Take A Day Trip Somewhere Free

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Clearly, weekends are my spending downfall…not sure how we’ll do this weekend.  No football game so that should help.  I also work until 6 on Friday evening and expect I’ll be too tired to go anywhere.

We’ll see what this Saturday and Sunday bring.

Please share in the comments if you are meeting your spend less September goals. Or are you like me still struggling a bit to reign in the summertime spending habits?

 

 

Spend Less September

Who wants to join me in a spend less September?   spend less

August turned out to be a rather expensive month around here.  Really expensive.

Why was it so expensive here?

  • School started in August so there were fees to pay and yearbooks to purchase (I highly suggest buying yearbooks at the start of the school year!)
  • one of the kids needed new shoes.
  • Picture day came in August
  • Car tags came due in August and there was a tax error so additional taxes were due also
  • We still had to pay the normal bills to have electricity and stuff like that

Why not a spend free September?  I really did consider it and then, decided against it.  It would be setting myself up for failure and on top of that, I have some obligations plus there are school things going on that would make going for a spend-free month pretty impractical.

So, I compromised with myself and settled on a Spend Less September instead. The goal is pretty simple: Spend less money this month and maybe just maybe even save a little money as well!

My Spend Less September Goals:

These are the areas where I’m hoping to spend a little less this month to make up for last month.

  1. Planning to cut my grocery store budget in half, just for this month!  My hope is to do this by eating most of our meals out of the things already stashed in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.
  2. No frivolous Target trips! Home cleaning items and decor for fall has to come from here this month.
  3. On-line Shopping Freeze!

We’ll see how I do at this.  I can tell it’s going to be a bit of a struggle.  Hopefully, I can stick to the grocery budget during today’s trip.  My plan is to simply buy some produce and lunch items for the boys.  Target, I shall miss you! I keep thinking of a throw pillow on clearance I passed just a few days back.  Since just this morning, I hopped on Amazon to order some steam mop pads, I thought it important to add the on-line shopping freeze to my goals.

A few exceptions:

Here’s why I’m going for a spend less and not a spend-free month.

  • It’s my month to host Bunco. While I don’t plan to use a month’s worth of grocery budget on it, I do plan to serve a decent spread.  I can keep an eye for sale items but I’m not hosting based on what’s in my pantry, fridge, and freezer this time.
  • It’s still marching band/football season and Fridays are busy. No way I’m taking our Subway tradition off the calendar.
  • My hair appointment and Mom’s Night Out are much cheaper than a couple of hours of therapy would be, so they stay on my calendar as well!
  • I have been dabbling with the essential oils and I’m out of some that I consider, well, essential.  Also, I promised J I’d order the cinnamon oil for us to try this month. Can’t wait to smell that mixed with orange for a fall scent.
  • With fall arriving seemingly a bit earlier than usual around here, I think J may need a new jacket (he’s outgrown his old one).

What am I planning to do instead of spend too much money at the grocery store, Target, and on-line?

My plan is to start organizing and de-cluttering the house.  I’ve been trying to make myself follow the Fly lady zone missions a bit more often. Also, I’ve decided to attempt to follow the Holiday Grand Plan

I’m hoping the Holiday Grand Plan missions won’t interfere too much with the primary goal to save money this month as some of the suggestions do involve spending a bit of money. I may just skip or try to figure out a free way to accomplish those tasks.

I’ll probably make Pinterest my friend on the days I have the on-line shopping bug and pin my purchase wish lists to an applicable board.

Want to talk about on Tuesdays?

I’ve decided to share my progress on Tuesdays in September.  Let’s see how much less we can spend and how much we can save in the next 25 days!

Please share your Spend Less September goals and plans in the comments!

 

 

 

Frugal Celebrations: How to Have Money Left After the Party

Celebrations of any kind are fun but can be costly.  Ever have to host a celebration when your bank account is not in a partying mood?    I have some ideas for frugal celebrations that may help.

frugal celebrations

 

  • Let them eat (real) cake!

It’s cheaper to make your own cake.  Of course, making a cake from scratch is the most frugal and least costly.  My family insists on this chocolate cake recipe for most birthdays.  The boys are also partial to cookie cake (I just use the chocolate chip cookie dough recipe and spread it in a big pan).

Cake mixes go on sale often and are handy to have in the pantry for all kinds of celebrations.  I used a yellow cake mix earlier this month to make a Three Kings Cake.   Canned frosting is nice and keeps for a long time (unopened) but homemade frosting is also fairly quick and inexpensive to make.

  • Get real (with the plates and cups)

I know it is tempting to buy the cute designed paper plates especially if you are having a children’s birthday party with a theme.  One thing, however, I’ve never heard said by a child at a birthday party, “Look at these cool plates!”   They are a lot more interested in the treats going on those plates.

I know paper plates and cups make clean up easier but if you are trying to host a frugal celebration, it is also just as easy to simple wash the plates and cups you already own.  It’s also better for the environment.

  • Recycle

The “birthday box” and I have parted ways now that my boys are older.  However, when they were younger, all our leftover party supplies went into a tub in the basement aka the birthday box.  Invitations, favor bag extras (Am I the only one who would need 9 things for favor bags and yet they were only sold in sets of 8?), decorations, crepe paper, basically anything leftover from parties went into the birthday box.

When the next celebration rolled around, I would first check out what was in the birthday box especially for party favors.  I also like to recycle the birthday box contents at Halloween by sticking the favor bag extras in the Halloween Candy Bowl as non-candy treats.

  • Find free decor

Decorations, of course, make a celebration feel extra special.  However, when hosting a frugal celebration, it’s important to know your audience.  Most adults aren’t going to care and most kids will give the decorations a passing glance.

Still, who doesn’t love to make celebrations feel special with decorations?  I start, by of course, raiding my birthday box.  Crepe paper is a cheap and easy way to decorate.  Free printable pages are also an easy way to decorate.

I’ve also used Microsoft word to create signs and decorations (actually, this and coloring pages are good ways to put the kids to work!) for our parties and celebrations.  PicMonkey would be another great option for creating party decorations.  Borrowing a special centerpiece from a friend is another frugal option.

  • Timing matters

If you are trying to host a frugal celebration, try to time it so you aren’t worrying about feeding a crowd a full meal.   Host the event between traditional meal times.

A fantastic frugal option is to have everyone bring something to a celebration.  I confess I struggle with this because I prefer not to do it when I host things (it’s a control issue).

A completely and totally unscientific observation is that I’ve noticed people seem to eat more at parties where dinner is provided than lunch timed ones especially if the dinner provided party happens on a weeknight (or Friday).

I’ve used all of the above ideas to host frugal celebrations.  However, I’ve also bought cakes in the store bakery, used paper plates and store bought decorations.  When hosting frugal (or any) celebrations, I do think it is also important to place proper value on your own time.

What ideas do you have for hosting frugal celebrations?

**Linking this post up to

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