Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.
Classic View
Grid View
12 Jun 2010   ·   68
Money Saving Mom

Lessons from the playground: Choose to bloom where you’re planted!

The children begged if we could go to the park early one morning last week. I said that we could once our chores, homeschool and naps were finished for the day.

They were so excited and kept talking about it all morning and afternoon and asking when we could go.

We finally finished up all the necessary things for the day and I loaded them up into the wagon and we took off for a nearby park. All the way over, they were completely stoked about going to the park and could hardly contain their excitement.

As soon as we got to the park, though, I noticed that they had trouble enjoying one piece of playground equipment because another nearby was calling their name. They’d go over and start playing on that and then they’d see another. And so it went.

They weren’t complaining and they definitely did have fun (as evidenced by the pictures above), but their fun was hampered. They were doing exactly what they’d looked forward to all day, but they couldn’t completely enjoy it because they were distracted by other parts of the playground which looked more exciting.

As I observed my children go from one piece of playground equipment to the next, I thought about what a picture this was of us adults. We can miss out on so much in life because instead of being content where we are, we’re always thinking the grass looks greener on the other side. Instead of just soaking up all the blessings of today, we’re wasting time wishing we were somewhere else.

I’ve learned something over the last few years: no matter where you are, you can find plenty of difficult things to complain about or you can find many wonderful blessings to be thankful for. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Choose to bloom where you’re planted, to make the most of the resources and opportunities you have today and your life will be so much more rich and fulfilling — no matter your income level or financial situation.

12 Jun 2010   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: A quick run to the health food store

We had a busy week this week, so I only had a chance to stop in at the health food store. I picked up a bag of green peppers reduced to $0.99 and two packages of organic greens reduced to $0.99 each.

A friend also gave us two dozen organic eggs she’d gotten really inexpensively (and she refused to let me pay for them!).

We’re off to Walgreens, Walmart and Dillon’s this afternoon to get some of the great deals there this week. Expect a full report next week on what deals we were able to get.


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

10 Jun 2010   ·   74

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Sign Up for Freebies

Want to know a simple way I save an average of $3 to $5 off my grocery bill every week? I sign up for freebies!

Now, I have to tell you, I used to think signing up for freebies was a waste of time. I knew this one girl who was all into freebies and she spent what seemed like enormous amounts of time finding and signing up for freebies online. She’d post pictures on her blog of what she got in the mail and it pretty much looked like junk to me.

It seemed like signing up for freebies meant spending lots of time searching online and filling out forms all just to get tiny little samples of stuff I didn’t need and wouldn’t use in the first place. Needless to say, I was unimpressed.

However, this friend kept raving about her free samples and I finally decided, “Okay, what’s it going to hurt me just to try it for a few months?”

So I did… and, ahem, now I’m hooked. And I’ve quickly realized that signing up for freebies doesn’t have to be a waste of time. In fact, it is fun — and it can save you a nice little amount on your grocery bill.

After all, when you get a coupon for free Tropicana Orange Juice, a free Gillette razor and coupons for 2 free packages of yogurt in just one day’s mail, it’s hard to conclude that it’s a waste of time to sign up for freebies!

Not only can you get full-sized products and free product coupons, but the sample sized products can help decrease how often you have to buy shampoo, deodorant, laundry detergent and body wash, and they also often have high-value coupons in them which can net you a full-sized product for a great deal!

How To Fill Your Mailbox With Great Freebies in Less Than 15 Minutes Per Week

1. Set Up A Separate Email Account

Do NOT sign up for freebies with your main email account. I promise you’ll be inundated with advertisement emails. Instead, set up a separate account through GMail or Juno or some other free service and only give out that email address when signing up.

2. Download An Automatic Form Filler

You don’t have to re-type the same information every time you fill out a form. Just download RoboForm or FormFiller and they do almost all the work for you at the touch of a button. Saves you a great deal of time and makes it so much faster to sign up for freebies!

3. Check Often

I do my best to keep you updated on the best freebies which are available — from samples to free coupons to full-sized products. Often, the really hot freebies only last for a few hours, so if you’re able to, I’d recommend checking in at least one to three times per day in order not to miss out. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter to be notified when something new has been posted.

4. Sign Up for Freebies Which Interest You

When you see a freebie I’ve posted that you’re interested in, I’d recommend signing up immediately so you don’t miss out in case supplies are exhausted. However, I recommend that you don’t sign up for every freebie posted — only those you know you’ll use. If you won’t use it, there’s no point in having it clutter up your home, right?

5. Be Patient

It usually takes around 4-6 weeks for freebies to start arriving. It’s easy to be discouraged if you sign up for freebies faithfully for a few weeks and see nothing in return. Don’t be disheartened. Just keep plugging away at signing up for those you’re interested and by week four or six, you should start to see a real return on your effort.

Do you think it’s worth it to sign up for freebies? Why or why not?

Get the latest coupons delivered right to your door for
as low as $1 per week with Discounted Newspapers!

9 Jun 2010   ·   31
Money Saving Mom

Time-Saving Tips for Cooking from Scratch (plus a 48-hour giveaway!)

Guest Post by Stephanie from Keeper of the Home

Quick…what’s the first objection that pops into your mind when you think about making more food from scratch?

If you’re like 90% of the moms and homemakers that I talk to, you would say that without a doubt, it’s the time factor.

Cooking from scratch simply takes more time.

You know that you should do it because:

a) It’s healthier.

b) It tastes better.

c) It will save you money.

Knowing that something is a good idea doesn’t make it any easier though. We’re still stuck with the same dilemma: If only there was more time in the day so that we could make homemade yogurt, cook brown rice instead of minute rice and make our own muffins instead of buying them or using a mix.

In my recent book, Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less, I addressed this very issue. I knew that if it was a challenge for me (and it is), then it must be a challenge for others. How do we balance all that we need to do to manage our homes, spend time with our husbands, care for our children, do our work (either out of the home or from our homes), and still have enough time left over to make nutritious, affordable food?

Knowing what a challenge this is, I devoted an entire chapter and a large appendix in my book to sharing both my own and other women’s ideas and suggestions for making it easier to cook from scratch.

I love practical tips and I love learning what others do, because it often inspires me with small changes that I can make so that my own kitchen time is more productive.

Here is a sampling of some of my own time-saving tips included in the book:

::Use timers so that you can get things going and walk away. Oatmeal cooks while I shower and get dressed. Anything that needs to come to a boil or have 5 minutes to simmer just gets a timer, so that I can forget about what’s on the stove and get something else done in those few minutes.

::Do things at unconventional times. I like to start my homemade yogurt right after dinner, so that I can tend to it in between my evening activities and have it in the oven by bedtime so that it’s ready by morning.

::Cook and freeze beans in small portions. They are almost as quick to use as canned beans for a fraction of the price, and it’s so quick and easy to do. I soak the beans overnight, then cook them the next morning and rinse them off. When they’re cool, I put them in little baggies in 1 cup portions and stick them in the freezer. It’s great to do a couple of different beans at the same time (different pots), because they cook at the same time and the extra time to bag them once you’re already set up is so minimal.

::Pre-cook meat and poultry and freeze it in small, meal-sized amounts. Whenever I cook a whole chicken or turkey, whatever we don’t eat immediately I put into baggies in about 1 cup portions. I do the same thing if I cook several pounds of ground beef at once. It’s so great to have these small amounts already cooked in the freezer for quick or last-minute meals. I find that 1 bag is enough to just add meat to the meal, and 2 bags provides a more substantial amount of meat. Also, 1 bag of meat plus 1 bag of frozen beans combines to make very easy taco salads, fajitas or tacos.

::Have leftover meals regularly. This makes for a fast and simple meal about once a week, it prevents wasted food, and helps to clean out the fridge! I set the foods out buffet style, and we choose what we want to eat.

::Keep the kitchen well-stocked. Knowing that you always have exactly what you need on hand, or can at least make easy emergency substitutions, ensures that you’re never stuck when making a recipe. This can save a lot of time (not to mention frustration).

::Clean as you go. Doing quick cleaning tasks or washing dishes while you’re cooking makes it an easier and more pleasant chore, and saves a huge and time-consuming cleanup at the end. I take advantage of little spare moments, while waiting for water to boil, or for frying onions to soften, etc. to clean up whatever I can.

Copyright 2010, Real Food on a Real Budget by Stephanie Langford.

More Resources for Increasing Your Kitchen Efficiency

Here are a few other posts on the topic of making it easier to cook from scratch, some from my blog and some from others.

How do you make the time to cook from scratch? What tips and techniques help you to be most efficient in the kitchen?

Would you like to win a copy of Stephanie’s ebook, Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less? She’s generously giving away 10 copies to readers here over the next 48 hours. To enter to win, just click on the link below. 10 winners will be randomly chosen and posted on Monday.Enter the Giveaway

Image by Rene Ehrhardt

9 Jun 2010   ·   40
Money Saving Mom

Freebies in my mailbox

If any of you are doubting whether signing up for freebies is worth it or not, take a look at what was in my mailbox a few days ago:

Free Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor plus coupons

Free Old Spice Odor Blocker Body Wash sample

Coupon for a free bottle of Tropicana Juice

2 coupons for free Yoplait Simply Gogurt Yogurt

$10 off $10 coupon for both Kohl’s and JCPenney (I wish I could tell you how to sign up for these as they’ve been sending me one about every 3-4 weeks. I have no idea other than that we live close to both stores and I always use the coupons that they send!)

Want to start having fun freebies fill up your mailbox, too? Just start signing up for the freebies I post which interest you and within 4-6 weeks, you should start seeing them arrive!

8 Jun 2010   ·   129
Money Saving Mom

Q&A Tuesday: How to Avoid Irritating Others When Using Coupons

I have learned a lot about responsible coupon use in the last year from visiting your site. You have told us how to use coupons ethically and legally, but what do you do when people in line behind you get grouchy? -Jackie

We live in a fast-paced society where patience is often a long-lost virtue. Most people are in a hurry when going through the checkout lanes and less than thrilled if they get hung up for 15 minutes due to another shopper’s stack of coupons.

Here are a few suggestions for streamlining the checkout process and avoiding irritating other shoppers:

1. Shop During Off-Hours — If you can, try to hit the stores when few others are shopping — usually earlier in the morning or late at night. I’ve found that rush-hour shoppers are notoriously impatient.

2. Be Organized — Before you even get in line, make sure you have all of your coupons together and in order and your store cards and cash at the ready. Spending three minutes fishing through your coupon box or purse for a missing coupon is likely going to frustrate everyone. This is why I recommend double-checking all your coupons before getting in line to pay to make sure you’re not missing any.

3. Choose an Efficient Cashier — I always “scout out” cashiers before picking a checkout line to go through. Choosing an efficient cashier not only saves you a lot of time, but it usually makes for a much smoother checkout.

4. Be Courteous and Confident — Invariably, you’ll have some shopping trips where the cash register or cashier is refusing to accept some of your coupons. Politely and quickly explain the store’s coupon policy or why they should accept the coupon. If a cashier is unwilling to budge, don’t become frustrated; it’s not worth having a fight over a few dollars. Just ask them to remove the item from your transaction and give the coupon back to you. In most cases, so long as you are polite and courteous, it’s not a big deal.

5. Let Others Know You Have Coupons — If you have a lot of coupons and think there’s a possibility that your checkout might be  a bit tedious, don’t hesitate to politely tell anyone who gets in line behind you, “I have a stack of coupons I’m using today, so it might take me awhile to checkout.” If you’ve warned them of this upfront, it’s their decision if things ended up taking awhile.

Those are a few of my suggestions on how to avoid irritating others when you use coupons. I’d love to hear your ideas, as well!

8 Jun 2010   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Fifteen Favorite Children’s Read-Alouds – Part 1

Summer is here and you might be looking for some fun and frugal ways to occupy your children without just sitting them in front of the computer or television.

Reading is a wonderful way to stimulate your children’s minds, teach them great lessons, open up new worlds to them and give them a life-long interest in learning. If your children are young, reading aloud also provides a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children. Plus, if you get most of your books free, reading is an incredibly frugal pastime.

We love books at our house. We don’t have a lot of children’s toys, but oh do we enjoy books! Our children never tire of being read to.

And since I’m often asked for children’s book recommendations, I’m going to be sharing fifteen of our very favorite children’s read-alouds over the next four weeks. These are books which — in most cases — we’ve read over and over and over again. Many of them might already be on your own shelves, but I hope you’ll discover a few new ones, too.

1. Goodnight Moon— Hands down, this is Kaitlynn’s (almost 3) favorite book. In fact, I’m pretty sure every single one of us have this entire book memorized by heart. We also can pretty much tell you every little detail on every square inch of every page. But that’s perfectly okay, because it’s such a great classic book.

2. The Seven Silly Eaters — This book was sent to our family by a blog reader and it’s become one of the most-requested read-alouds by our girls. It’s a fun — and sometimes a bit over-the-top — book about life in a bustling household. We don’t quite have every word memorized yet, but we’re quickly getting there! 🙂

3. Because I Love You— If I had to pick a favorite book from all the children’s books we own, I’m pretty sure this book would be it. It’s a beautiful story of God’s love for us — even when we were yet sinners. It touches me every time I read it to the girls and opens up lots of opportunities for me to explain truths about God.

4. The Bear That Heard Crying (Picture Puffins) — This is a true and fascinating story which happened in 1783. A 3-year-old girl gets lost in the woods and is saved by a bear — yes, I said a bear. The girls are always in awe and ask dozens of questions when we read this one.

Part 2 of Fifteen Favorite Read-Alouds is coming next Monday.

This post is brought to you in part by HarperCollins and the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program. Kids 12 and under can join the Borders Double Dog Dare You Reading program and earn a free book when they read 10 books. Just fill out this form and bring it in to any Borders, Waldenbooks, or Borders express store by August 26, 2010 to participate in this program. Find more Summer Reading Programs here.

photo credit: Washington State Library

7 Jun 2010   ·   106
Money Saving Mom

See why I don’t pay for coupons?

I wrote not too long ago about how I never pay for the newspaper or coupons. When a quick stop at the recycling bin always reaps a stack of inserts like is shown above, it’s hard to justify, wouldn’t you say?

Plus, if I end up not having time to clip them all, I don’t have any guilt in just chucking them back into the recycling bin because I didn’t pay a penny for them!

(And yes, I really do throw out coupons sometimes. My mantra is, “Do what you can do, with what you’ve got, where you are.” Sometimes, that means I just have to let coupon-clipping go for a week or two or four, because much more important things need my attention — like my precious children!)

5 Jun 2010   ·   21
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Dillon’s, Target, Walmart, Walgreens

I tried out a new shopping schedule this past week and it worked well. Instead of trying to do all our shopping in one big trip, I’m splitting it up into two smaller trips. Here’s what I bought this week:

I spent $1.81 at Walgreens and got back $2 in Register Rewards. Read more about this shopping trip here.

I spent $7.83 at Walmart. Read more about this shopping trip here.

I spent $22.07 at Target and saved $52.45. Read more about this shopping trip here.

I also stopped by Dillons and got two bunches of flowers (reduced to $0.99 each), 3 boxes of Tony’s pizza (used 3 free coupons), 1 loaf of bread (used free coupon), 1 box Kraft Mac & Cheese (used free coupon — donating this), 2 bottles of Kraft salad dressing (1.99 each, used $1/1 coupons, plus got a $1 catalina for buying 2 — $0.50 each), 2 bags of peas ($1 each, used $0.50/2 coupon).

After coupons and a $1 catalina from my last shopping trip, my total was $3.03 at Dillon’s, plus I got a $1 catalina for my next shopping trip.


Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money in other ways? If so, be sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. will be deleted. Also, to make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday post.

5 Jun 2010   ·   28
shopping bag

6 Tips for Becoming a Successful Mystery Shopper

shopping bag

Guest post by Tanya

I’m sure you’ve heard the ads that tell you how great mystery shopping can be: “Get paid to buy stuff and eat out!”

When I first heard about mystery shopping, I actually thought the whole idea sounded too good to be true — basically like a big scam. I decided to do some research because mystery shopping sounded like the perfect way to add a little extra money to our budget and I had to know for sure whether or not it was legit!

I did a lot of reading on the internet and found some legitimate companies who were actually paying people to shop for them.

What would you think if I told you that during my first two years of mystery shopping, I made over $10,000 (between paid compensation and being reimbursed for merchandise or food purchases that were required by the shops)?

My husband and I are living proof that it is possible to make a reasonable extra income through mystery shopping. It’s taken a lot of work and quite a bit of learning, but it’s been a worthwhile venture for us.

Before you start out on your own mystery shopping venture, I’d like to share some of what we’ve learned over the past 5+ years of mystery shopping:

1. Watch Out For Scams

I found this to be crucial when searching for companies to work with. You’ve probably heard about them and it’s true — there really are mystery shopping scams out there. A couple of things I’ve done to avoid the scammers are:

  • Don’t pay anyone to become a mystery shopper. Would you pay the local retail store to hire you? Mystery shopping is a job and we don’t pay to get jobs anywhere else. If they’re asking for your money in order to allow you to shop with them, beware!
  • Sign up with companies that offer a secure sign-up form. I have the policy that I will not sign up with a website whose registration form is not on a secure site. I figure that if they can’t go to the trouble to keep my information secure on the internet, they might not be the highest quality company to work for.

2. Prepare to Work

Like anything else in life, mystery shopping takes work. Each shop assignment will have specific instructions that need to be followed in order for the shop to be acceptable. And once the fun part of shopping is done, there is a report to complete. The effort that you put into the quality of your shops will help determine whether or not the company will assign you shops in the future.

3. Weigh the Costs

This point ties in with the previous one. When searching for mystery shopping assignments, carefully weigh the costs. Remember to take into account the time you will spend both completing the shop and filling out the report afterward. Remember to calculate your gas costs too — these days those can add up pretty quickly!

4. Save for Taxes

You’ll have to record your mystery shopping income as self-employment income when you file taxes each year. The amount of taxes that we have had taken out each year has varied. Sometimes we’ve saved too much and had a “bonus” at the end of the year. Other years, we haven’t set aside enough and have had to scrounge up more money to cover our self-employment taxes. I have found that setting aside 30-40% of my mystery shopping earnings to save toward paying taxes at the end of the year is a good amount.

5. Track Your Earnings

I keep a spreadsheet in Excel of all the shops that I complete, the company I complete them with, the shop fee amount, the amount I spend and will be reimbursed for my purchase and the date that I actually receive payment.

Most mystery shopping companies pay 30-60 days after the shop has been completed so it’s important to be able to know if you’re missing any payments or not. This spreadsheet is also key when it comes time to prepare our tax forms. I can tell at a quick glance how much we earned that year.

6. Know the Companies

As you work with different mystery shopping companies, you will find the ones that you like the best. Some are very strict with their requirements and will absolutely not pay you if any condition is unmet. Others are a bit more flexible and will try to work with your schedule and needs.

Some require lengthy survey forms to be completed after shops are completed, others only want a short description of your visit. Some companies specialize in upper class shops (like the Coach shop I completed or the $200 meal at an upscale restaurant), others are more ordinary (and less stressful — like gas stations and fast food chains).

Whichever mystery shopping companies you choose to go with, learn their requirements and strive to meet or exceed them. This will help you build a good reputation with that company and it improves your ability to receive future shops.

Is mystery shopping right for you?

I don’t think mystery shopping is a good fit for everyone. You have to decide how well it will fit into your own lifestyle.

My husband and I now have two little ones and we really don’t do a lot of mystery shopping these days because a lot of the shops require you to complete them alone, with no children in tow.

We have had to weigh how willing we are to give up the precious time that my husband has at home for me to go out and complete mystery shops while he watches the kids. We haven’t stopped mystery shopping altogether, we’ve just gotten more choosy about which shops we accept.

Tanya is the blessed wife of a very loving husband and mommy to two toddlers. She loves finding ways to improve the life of her family by budgeting, finding tips and tricks for around the house and looking for fun frugal ways to spend time together.

Interested in Becoming a Mystery Shopper?

If you’re interested in becoming a mystery shopper, be sure to read all about my experiences as a mystery shopper. -Crystal

4 Jun 2010   ·   71
Money Saving Mom

28 “Extreme” Measures We Took to Stay Out of Debt

After reading Frugal Granola’s post on the extreme measures they took to get out of debt, I thought it would be fun to think of a few “extreme” measures our family took to stay out of debt. Now, for many of you, probably none of these things are very extreme, but compared to the average American, they are pretty counter-cultural.

The 28 items listed below each saved us at least $100 per year — if not much more! And it’s because of being willing to make sacrifices like this that, by the grace of God, we stayed out of debt while Jesse was in law school and lived on around $12,000 per year.

As our income has increased, we’ve relaxed a bit on how extreme we are (I think there’s plenty of room for occasional “splurging” if you’re out of debt and living below your means!), but we still do many of these things.

1. We lived on a very strict zero-based budget.

2. We were almost 100% cash-only.

3. We lived in a small apartment.

4. We didn’t go out to eat, except a few times per year — and then it was usually a fast food restaurant where we’d use coupons and eat for less than $7!

5. We cooked from scratch.

6. We had one car – an older, used car.

7. We readily accepted hand-me-downs.

8. We shopped at thrift stores.

9. We got books and DVDs at the library.

10. We stayed home alot.

11. We didn’t pay for a cell phone.

12. I cut my own hair.

13. We used cloth diapers.

14. We used coupons to get the majority of our food and household items for pennies on the dollar — feeding our small family all 21 meals per week for $30-$35 each week.

15. We played the Drugstore Game.

16. We bartered — from car repair work to clothes, we weren’t ashamed to ask if an individual would be willing to barter with us.

17. We negotiated discounts on necessary purchases and regular bills.

18).We used a birth center, instead of a hospital to have our first baby thus significantly lowering our out-of-pocket costs.

19. We reused and made-do as much as we could.

20. We pretty much didn’t buy anything for our baby for the first entire year.

21. We stopped worrying about what other people think.

22. We worked really, really hard — constantly looking for more ways to pinch pennies and creative ways to bring in a little extra money.

23. We only ate meat a few times per week — and only then as a “condiment”.

24. We didn’t pay for internet — we got a free AOL three-month trial and when we called to cancel, they kept voluntarily extending our subscription!

25. We kept our home pared down to the basics and sold anything we didn’t use.

26. We didn’t use a babysitter. Since we weren’t living close to family, the first time we left our daughter was when she was over two and a half years old!

27. We didn’t exchange Christmas or birthday gifts of any sort until about four years into our marriage.

28. We prayed a lot. And God was always and has always been faithful!

What about you? What “extreme” things do you do or have you done in order to get out of debt and/or stay out of debt?

4 Jun 2010   ·   23
Money Saving Mom

Money Saving Mom® Has Gone Mobile!

You asked for it, and it’s finally here. is now mobile-friendly!

When you view this site on your mobile device, you’ll notice a few things are different.

  1. Loading time is much faster.
  2. Content is now sized and organized so that it’s easy-to-read on your phone.
  3. You can easily search for posts tags or categories from the navigation menu.
  4. When you visit the Store Deals section of MoneySavingMom, you’ll now be able to choose your store on the home page and then go directly to the posts for that store. This should make it much easier for those of you who want to access your store’s posts while you’re out shopping.

If you don’t see the mobile site on your phone at first, you can turn on mobile view by scrolling to the bottom of the homepage and clicking the ON button for the Mobile Theme.

3 Jun 2010   ·   25
Money Saving Mom

A quick Walmart shopping trip

I wasn’t planning on going to Walmart today when I was out doing some errands and shopping while Grandma was here watching the children, but I was right by it and had my coupons with me, so I popped in. Here’s what I purchased:

2 packs of strawberries — price-matched them to Aldi — $0.99 each

5 lbs. of bananas — price-matched them to a local store which has bananas for $0.18/lb. on Thursdays

Nivea Body Wash — $3.97, used $3/1 coupon –$0.97 after coupon

Bic Soleil Razors — $3.97 each, used $3/1 coupons — $0.97 each after coupons

2 YoPlus Yogurt 4-packs — $1.68 each, used $1/1 coupons — $0.68 each after coupons

2 Taco Bell Taco Seasonings — $0.50 each, used $1/2 coupon — Free after coupon

My total after coupons was $7.83 for everything pictured above.

See more deals at Walmart this week here. Did you get any great deals at Walmart this week?

3 Jun 2010   ·   26
Money Saving Mom

Getting Out of Debt Can Require Extreme Measures

I really enjoyed the guest post by Frugal Granola which was posted on Getting Freedom this week. I think you’ll be inspired by it, too. Here’s a snippet:

During the early years of our marriage, we had our share of debt. It started with school loans, then the addition of medical bills, followed by the expense of a car, a mortgage, and the cost of having a baby.

Through those years, feeling the burden of debt, I would often hear financial suggestions, such as “Skip the cup of coffee,” or “Entertain at home instead of going out.” These are certainly wise suggestions, but I would shake my head in dismay; we were already doing these things!

We were meeting our daily expenses and bill payments, but were exhausted by the amount of time working and our lack of family time. It certainly didn’t feel like we had the freedom to live out our values. We were “living to work” instead of “working to live.”

We finally realized the steps to our financial freedom needed to be more extreme.

Read the full post and ways that this family decided to become more extreme in their measures to get out of debt.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the “extreme measures” we’ve taken to stay out of debt.

2 Jun 2010   ·   69

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How To Get Started Playing the Drugstore Game

Last week, I talked about how playing the Drugstore Game had helped to significantly lower our grocery budget. If you’re new to the Drugstore Game, here are some basic steps to help you get started:

1. Pick One Store to Start With

If you have more than one drugstore chain in your area, please do me a huge favor and don’t try to learn the ins and outs of CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid all at once. Start with one drugstore chain and learn the ropes of it before adding in another.

I’d suggest beginning with CVS as it requires the least outlay of cash. You’ll likely make some mistakes in the beginning, so the less outlay of cash, the better.

2. Read, Read, Read

Before you jump in with both feet, it’s highly important that you take time to read up on how the drugstore rewards programs work and what their coupon policies are. It is vital to be well-informed and well-versed. Plus, it greatly increases your confidence level — and you need confidence in order to work the drugstore deals successfully.

Depending upon which drugstore you chose to begin with (see point #1), here are some articles for you to read: CVS 101, Walgreens 101 or Rite Aid 101. I also encourage you to look at the scenarios and deals posted in the weekly CVS Deals, Walgreens Deals or Rite Aid Deals posts and review them until you really feel like you had a handle on how it works.

3. Start Small

I know that it’s easy to want to have some incredible transactions right out of the shoot where you get $80 worth of items for $0.22, but don’t even think about going there yet. Start with a handful of items and work your way up.

I’d suggest an initial Drugstore Game scenario of around $10 to $15. This is enough that you can learn the ropes, but not too much that you’re out a bunch of money if you have some failed transactions.

4. Don’t Expect to Do It Perfectly

Notice I keep mentioning making mistakes? That’s because pretty much everyone makes them when they are first learning.

Even once you’ve armed yourself with lots of information and have reviewed deals incessantly before planning your own, you will very likely make some mistakes. It’s okay. If you’ve never ridden a bike before, you usually don’t just jump on and ride it flawlessly from the beginning. It takes practice and patience.

The same is true with the Drugstore game: you’ll probably not have flawless transactions from the very get-go. But practice and patience will pay off in big dividends. So accept the mistakes you make as part of the learning process.

5. Be Prepared With a Backup Plan

Oftentimes, drug stores will be out of an item that’s part of the rewards offer or they won’t even stock it. A backup plan is key. I often work out 2-3 different scenario ideas and then make my final game plan once I’m in the store and able to see what they have on hand.

I also would suggest finding out when a store restocks their shelves and planning your shopping trip somewhere near those times. It’s frustrating to go in and find that they are completely out of everything that is free after rewards that week. You have a better chance of finding everything on your list if you shop right after they restock the shelves. In addition, if you don’t see something in stock, be sure to ask if they might have extras in the back which they’ve not put on the shelves yet.

6. Commit to Sticking With It For Three Months

While the Drugstore Game can save you a tremendous amount of money on household and bath and beauty products, it’s certainly not for everyone. It takes time and effort and you might find it’s just not worth the time and effort for your family.

However, can I caution you not to give up too soon? If you want to really see if it’s worth, commit to sticking with it for three months. Do at least one transaction every two weeks for three months and then evaluate at the end of the trial period whether you feel like this money-saving idea is worth the return on investment for you.

What are your best tips and tricks for someone who is a newbie to the Drugstore Game? What do you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

Get the latest coupons delivered right to your door for
as low as $1 per week with Discounted Newspapers!