Gretchen’s Walgreens Shopping Trip: Spent $6.85 out of pocket for $34 worth of products

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Walgreens Shopping Trip

Transaction #1

1 Almay Eye Shadow – $5.99 (Buy 1, Get $3 Register Rewards)
Used $4/1 coupon from the 8/10 SmartSource insert

1 Walgreens Perfection Tampons – $1.49 (Buy 1, Get $1.50 Register Rewards)

Total: $3.48, Received $4.50 Register Rewards

Transaction #2

1 Almay Mascara – $5.99 (Buy 1, Get $3 Register Rewards)
Used $4/1 coupon from the 8/10 SmartSource insert

1 (4 pk) Kid’s Plastic Bowls – Marked down to $0.50 (filler item)

Used $1.50 Register Rewards from Transaction #1

Total: $0.99, Received $3 Register Rewards

Transaction #3

We really needed diapers so I decided to use the rest of my Register Rewards to get them inexpensively.

1 Huggies Diapers – $9

2 Wexford Eraser Caps – $0.19 each with in-ad coupon

Used $6 Register Rewards from Transactions #1 & #2

Redeemed 1,000 points (like $1)

Total: $2.38

Total for all transactions before coupons, sales and Register Rewards: $34.14

Total for all transactions after coupons, sales and Register Rewards: $6.85

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We Paid Cash: A New Patio

We paid cash!

A testimony from Julie from The Family CEO

When we bought our house 13 years ago, one of the things we liked best about it was the patio off the dining room. We loved the shape of the patio, the curved steps leading down to it, and the fact that it allowed us to enjoy our private back yard with a tree line running the length of it.

Fast forward ten years or so, and that same patio was shifting and settling and becoming less and less enjoyable, even a little bit dangerous.

We nursed the patio through another summer or two because we wanted to pay for the improvements in cash. Eventually we had the money to tear out the old patio and put in a new one without using any debt. We kept the same shape of the patio and the curved steps we loved. But we made it larger and including a seating wall and some outdoor lighting.

Now we’re enjoying not only the new patio, but the satisfaction of knowing that it was paid for in cash.

Here’s what helped us pull it off:

1. We’ve paid off a lot of debt.

Getting rid of a couple of car payments, some credit card balances, and a home equity loan in the last five years or so has meant that more of our cash flow each month is ours to keep. In the time leading up to the new patio construction, we were able to add to our savings most months and also set aside a bonus or two, which would have normally been applied to debt.

2. We delayed gratification.

We weren’t able to replace the patio at the first sign of an unsettled brick. We had to live through a few years of settling and even some exposed rebar before we felt ready to take on the expense of replacement.

3. We scaled back our expectations.

Our original plan was to build a deck off the kitchen that wrapped around the house and met up with the new patio off the dining room. We got several bids on that and realized that the cost of doing that – along with an easement complication – meant that plan wasn’t in the cards.

We adjusted our plan to include only the new patio off the dining room, with some terraced steps leading down to the lower part of the yard. It’s not quite what we had envisioned, but it’s still a lovely space. And we may someday do the deck in a scaled back “phase 2″.

new patio

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Julie is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in personal finance and lifestyle topics. She blogs at The Family CEO.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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Does it cost $245,340 to raise a child?

I was asked by a news outlet today if I would share some commentary around this recent report from the USDA on how much it costs to raise a child. Here’s the blurb on it from The Boston Globe:

A message for new parents: Get ready for sticker shock.

A child born in 2013 will cost a middle-income American family an average of $245,340 until he or she reaches age 18. And it’s more in the Northeast, roughly $282,480, according to a report out Monday.

The cost does not include college, or expenses if a child lives at home after age 17.

Those costs that are included — food, housing, child care, and education — rose 1.8 percent over the previous year, the Agriculture Department report said. Adjusting for projected inflation, a child born last year could cost a middle-income family an average of $304,480, the report added.

In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could spend about $25,230, equivalent to $198,560 in 2013 dollars, to raise a child. Housing costs are the greatest child-rearing expense, as they were in the 1960s, but current-day costs like child care were negligible back then. Housing expenses made up roughly 30 percent of the total cost of raising a child.

I found the prices fascinating and enjoyed getting to answer some questions on how to cut costs for this particular media piece. (I’ll let you know if and when it goes live — they may or may not use any of my commentary, but regardless, it was a great exercise to think through.)

What do YOU think? Does it cost $245,340 or more to raise a child to age 17? Have you ever calculated how much you’re spending on raising your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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