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19 Mar 2011   ·   133
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday

So, I wasn’t as disciplined as I’d hope to be this past week (am I ever, though?!), but I at least didn’t stay up until 2 a.m. any night — except for a few nights when I was up with Silas who has been having these middle-of-the-night coughing fits (Anyone have a great middle-of-the-night coughing remedy? I’m ready to try anything you want to suggest since we’d all love to be getting more sleep around here!)

And I actually did get pictures of my groceries this week, unlike last week! So I guess that means I had a more on-the-ball week, too, though I still have a laundry pile in my room (I promise it’s not the same one as last week, though!) 🙂

Health Food Store Shopping Trip: Spent $9.09 — see a complete price breakdown here.

Dillon’s Shopping Trip: Spent $23.99 — see a complete price breakdown here.

Walmart Shopping Trip: Spent $4.19 — see a complete price breakdown here.

Would you like to know what the best deals and coupon match-ups are for your local stores? Be sure to check out the Store Deals section of our site where we post the best deals and coupon match-ups each week for over 100 different stores across the country. You can sign up to receive the top deals in your email inbox each week as soon as they are posted!

Find

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.

19 Mar 2011   ·   55
Money Saving Mom

Thursday’s Walmart Shopping Trip: Free-plus-overage Millstone coffee & $0.12 Gain dryer sheets!

My husband and I made a quick trip to Walmart on Thursday night after our monthly date night because I needed to get bread for lunch with friends on Friday and Dollar Tree hadn’t gotten their shipment of Nature’s Own bread in yet.

I happened to have my Walmart coupon envelope in my purse and I was able to snag a few other deals while we were there:

2 Millstone Coffee packages — $1.64, used 2 $2/1 coupons from the 2/13 RedPlum insert (expires 3/31), free plus $0.36 overage on each (Thanks to a reader who tipped me off to this deal!)

Purex Laundry Softener — used free coupon I received for being apart of the Purex Insiders

3 boxes of Gain Dryer Sheets — $3.12 each, used 3 $3/1 coupons from the 2/13 RedPlum insert (expires 3/31), $0.12 each after coupons

4.62 lbs of bananas — price-matched to the local store’s Thursday-Only $0.18/lb. special — $0.83

Nature’s Own Bread — $2.28

My total after coupons with tax was $4.19.

17 Mar 2011   ·   41

Pick-Me-Up Smoothie Recipe

The ingredient combination might sound odd, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. If you love smoothies like we do, I think you’ll think it’s delicious. At least we all have agreed it’s one of the best smoothie recipes I’ve come up with to date.

It’s perfect when you need an extra shot of energy and oomph on “one of those days”. And it’s quite healthful, too.


17 Mar 2011   ·   21
Money Saving Mom

Today’s Dillon’s Shopping Trip

We also stopped at Dillon’s and got a few great deals. Since pasta was just $0.39 per box after coupons and sale, we stocked up on enough to last us for the next three or four months (we typically go through an average of 3/4ths of a box of pasta per week). This is a great example of how we practice the Buy Ahead principle.

Dillon’s Shopping Trip

3 cartons of strawberries — marked down to $1.29 each

2 packages of sliced turkey breast — $2.99 each

1 package of sliced cheese — $2.19

Vitaminwater — $0.49

2 Pure Protein bars — $1, used 2 $1/1 coupons = free after coupons

12 packages of Healthy Harvest and Smart Taste pasta — on sale for $0.89 when you bought 10 participating items, used 6 $1/2 coupons = $0.39 per package after coupons

Triscuits — on sale for $1.99 when you bought 10 participating items, used 2 $1/1 coupons = $0.99 per box

Annie’s Mac & Cheese — on sale for $0.49 per box when you bought 10 participating items

My total after coupons was $23.99.

17 Mar 2011   ·   39
Money Saving Mom

Today’s health food store shopping trip

The girls and I stopped by the health food store after a fun morning out together (while Grandma watched Silas). Here are the deals we found:

2 half-gallons of Horizon Organic Milk — marked down to $0.99 (it expires tomorrow, so I’ll be freezing whatever we don’t use by the morning to use for pancakes and waffles)

1 box of Barbara’s Organic Cereal — marked down to $1.59

2 Mangos — $0.50 each

1 and 1/2 head of cabbage — on sale for $0.17/lb. for St. Patrick’s Day

1 box of Mi-Del Honey Grahams — marked down to $1.59 (We all ended up thinking these were icky so I think I’m going to re-purpose them as a graham cracker crust, unless anyone else has a great suggestion!)

1 tub of Wallaby Organic yogurt — marked down to $1.99

My total was $9.09.

17 Mar 2011   ·   60
Money Saving Mom

Letting Go of My Expectations in Order to Find Joy in Saving Money

Lynette says, “This is my front porch. It’s not likely to be nominated for any trendy or stylish award, but it’s functional and that’s what matters.”

Testimonial by Lynette at Cleverly Simple

“What a difference a year makes”, I thought to myself as I hauled in another load of wood with slippers on my feet and a 19-month-old screaming for breakfast. Living in Virginia Beach twelve months earlier I had visions of our first winter in Central Ohio all snuggled by the fire with a good book and a cup of tea.

The reality of saving money in negative degree weather set in quite quickly as the first load of wood was dropped off onto our cute 1940’s porch. Visions of cute winter accessories were quickly replaced by a woodland piled high and covered in a bright green tarp.

My family had decided late fall that our budget for heating oil was going to be quickly broken as the first oil company bill came in at $600. That lasted us six weeks with the thermostat set at 62 during the day and 55 at night. I was frustrated at the thought of continuing to spend hundreds of dollars and still feel that the house was not a warm place to hang out.

Knowing that the coldest months were ahead, the solution was to spend hours cutting wood from fallen trees at my grandmother’s forest to supplement our heat. We would still need to fill the oil tank, but by using wood as our main source of heat in our living area we would be able to drastically cut our expenses.

I’ve learned so much… one log at a time:

I’ve Found Joy in the Company of Others

As the days turned into months of using wood, I found joy in helping our family save money with each load of wood. I quickly realized that we were not alone. I drove along our curvy small town road and soon took notice of the number of houses with smoke crawling out of their chimneys. They, too, had a woodland on their porch and were providing warmth for their families.

I’ve Learned to Let Go of the Look

I had to let go of the cute accessories we had planned for Christmas in return for green tarp. At least it was a festive color! If letting go of accessories meant saving hundreds of dollars then it had to be okay.

I’ve Realized and Basked in My Blessings

What a blessing to have a husband, brother and father who would spend hours chopping and splitting fallen trees. The cost was free. They were willing to spend their time and resources to help us save money.

I’ve Developed More Creativity

We’ve enjoy our fireplace not only for the heat, but for the s’mores we’ve made together. Yum! And yes, I still enjoy an occasional good book and cup of tea by the glow of the fire. For that, I choose to have a grateful and joyous heart to save money with our small woodland porch and its green tarp.

Lynette blogs about money-saving ideas, creative adventures and family recipes at CleverlySimple.com. She lives with her hubby and son in small town Central Ohio.

16 Mar 2011   ·   303
Money Saving Mom

My Stock-Up Price List

I’ve received countless requests over the years for me to post my “Price List” (i.e. the price I shoot to pay for all items I purchase). I resisted doing this for a long time because I was afraid that many of you would find it discouraging since prices vary so much by area. However, I finally decided to go ahead and put this list together since many of you promised me it would be helpful.

Please note that the prices listed below are the prices I try not to pay more than. Of course, free or free-plus-overage is always the best thing, but if that’s not possible, than these are the prices I aim to match or beat when purchasing items. Also, note that these prices are normally the prices I shoot to pay by pairing a coupon with a great sale. These are not typically the shelf prices you’ll see here!

We don’t have a CVS or Rite Aid and we only have two grocery store chains in our area, so I’m not able to get some of the deals many of you can get routinely. At the same time, though, we’re blessed to have Walgreens, Walmart, Target, a few Dollar Stores and a health food store in addition to the two grocery store chains.

Toiletries/Personal Care

Bandages — $0.50 per 30-count box or less
Bar Soap — $0.30 per 2-pack or less
Cough Drops — $0.25 per bag or less
Deodorant — $0.50 per regular-sized stick or less
Floss — $0.25 per package or less
Liquid Soap — $0.30 per hand soap pump or less
Lotion — I rarely pay for lotion as I usually get trial-sized bottles for free by signing up for free samples or by using coupons.
Mouthwash — free
Pain Reliever — $1 per bottle or less for name brands
Razors — $1 per package or less
Shampoo/Conditioner — $1 per bottle for name brand, $0.50 per bottle for off brands
Shaving Cream — $0.50 per bottle or less
Sunblock — I’ve never paid anything for sunblock before.
Toothbrushes — $0.20 per toothbrush or less
Toothpaste — free

Baby Items

Baby Food — I don’t buy baby food unless I can get it for free. Otherwise, I make my own or just use a baby food grinder at the table.
Diaper Rash Ointment — free
Diapers — I personally don’t pay for diapers because I used to get them free by working them into my drug store deal scenarios. Now, I get them free by using my accumulated Swagbucks. If you don’t play the drugstore game, $5 per package or less would be a typical stock-up price. Anything less than $0.10 per diaper is usually considered a good deal. Less than $0.08 per diaper is usually a great deal. However, with the insane Amazon diaper deals right now, you can often get diapers for less than $0.04 each shipped to your door!
Wipes — $1 per 64 wipes or less

Refrigerated Items

Butter — $1.69 per pound or less (Whenever I find a great deal on butter, I usually buy a few pounds and freeze them.)
Cheese — $1.69 per 8 oz. or less
Cream Cheese — $0.50 per package or less (Whenever I find a great deal on cream cheese, I buy four to six blocks and freeze them.)
Eggs — I pay $2 per dozen for farm-fresh, free-range eggs. If I were buying non-free-range eggs, I would shoot for $1.29 per dozen or less. (Sometimes Aldi will have them as low as $0.69 per dozen, but I’ve not had great success at freezing eggs, so I don’t buy more than 4-6 weeks’ worth at a time.)
Milk — The cheapest I can usually get rBGH-free milk is $2.50 per gallon. Milk can be frozen, but we’ve found we prefer to only use milk which has been frozen in cooking. If I find organic milk marked down to $1.99 per half-gallon or less, I buy it and freeze it to use in pancakes and waffles.
Sour Cream — $0.99 per 16-oz. carton or less
Yogurt — $0.25 per serving or less

Produce

Bananas — $0.19 to $0.44 per pound (Once a week, a local store has bananas for $0.19 per pound, so if I’m out shopping that day, I’ll price-match at Walmart. Otherwise, I buy them reduced at Dillon’s for $0.39 per pound or $0.44 per pound at Aldi.)
Fruit in Season — $0.99 per pound or less
Grapes — $0.99 per pound or less
Lemons — $0.25 each or less
Salad — I buy organic greens when I can get them for $1.99 per 16-ounce tub or less. Otherwise, I try to get heads of lettuce for $1.59 per head or less. Occasionally, they go on sale for $0.99. I also look for bags of salad greens which have been reduced as this is often a better deal.
Salad Dressing — $0.99 per 16 ounces or less
Strawberries — $1.85 per carton or less
Tomatoes — $0.99 per pound or less
Watermelon — $2.99 per watermelon
Carrots — $0.99 per bag of baby carrots, $0.99 per one-pound bag of whole carrots

Frozen

Frozen Dinners — We basically do not buy these except for the on rare occasions they are free or almost-free.
Frozen Pizza — Again, we have only purchased this a few times when it was free. We much prefer homemade pizza!
Frozen Vegetables — $1 per bag or less
Ice Cream — We usually only buy Breyer’s ice cream — yes, we’re ice cream “snobs” 😉 — and try to get it for less than $3 per tub.

Meat

Beef, Ground — We buy 93% lean beef and I usually try to buy it when it is on sale for $3.69 per pound or less.
Chicken, Boneless Skinless Breast — $5.99 per 3-lb. bag
Chicken, Whole — We don’t buy whole chickens, ever. Yes, I know that breaks one of the major laws of frugality, but none of us like dark meat, so it’s more cost-effective and less wasteful to just buy chicken breasts. 🙂
Roast — $3 per pound or less
Steak — $2 per pound or less

We rarely ever eat pork, so I’m not even sure what a good price on it would be.

Dry/Canned Goods

Bread — $1.49 per loaf or less (for the nicer, higher-quality brands)
Brownie Mix — $0.39 to free
Cake Mix — free
Canned Tuna — You can often get the pouches for almost-free, so that’s usually what I buy when buying tuna.
Cereal — $1 per box or less
Chocolate Chips — $1.69 per package (Aldi regular price) or less.
Cookies — We rarely ever purchase packaged cookies, but I would buy them if they were free.
Crackers — $1 per box or less.
Flour — $0.69 per pound for organic wheat kernels (we grind most of our own flour) or around $0.50 per pound for unbleached flour.
Hamburger/Hot Dog Buns — $1 per package (I get Nature’s Own Hamburger/Hot Dog buns at Dollar Tree for $1 or Rudi’s Organic Buns for $0.99 when they are reduced at the health food store.)
Honey — Aldi has the best price the I’ve found in our area (around $3 for 16 oz. last time I checked) unless you have a Sam’s Club membership or buy from the Bulk Foods Store. I love the raw honey from Tropical Traditions and do splurge on it when I can get it Buy One, Get One Free plus free shipping.
Jelly/Jam — $1 per jar or less.
Ketchup — $0.50 per bottle or less
Mayonnaise — $1 per jar
Mustard — free
Oats — $1.69 per canister (Aldi price) or less
Pasta — $0.50 per box or less
Peanut Butter — $1 per jar or less
Soup, Canned — I pretty much only buy this if I can get it for $0.15 or less per can.
Spaghetti Sauce — $1 per jar or less
Sugar — $1.34 per pound for turbinado (raw sugar). We’ve not purchase white sugar for a long time, but Aldi usually has the cheapest price on it.
Syrup — We make our own or buy organic maple syrup when it’s on a great sale from Amazon.
Tomato Paste — $0.15 or less per can
Tomato Sauce — $0.15 or less per can
Tortillas — $0.99 per package
Vanilla — The best price I’ve found is at Sam’s Club. Last I checked, they sell one pint for $6.88.

Cleaning Supplies/Paper Products

Aluminum Foil — $0.50 or less for a 20-foot box (Walgreens sells it at this price fairly often).
Dishwasher Detergent — $0.50 or less per box of tabs
Dishwashing Soap — free
Laundry Detergent — $0.99 per 32-load bottle
Toilet Paper — $0.25 per roll or less
Kitchen Trash Bags — $2.98 for 32 bags (Aldi price)
Zipper Bags — $1 per box or less

16 Mar 2011   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

Walmart: Current Deals

Here are the best deals at Walmart right now with thanks to Passion for Savings and Freebies 2 Deals for their help in compiling them. Please keep in mind that Walmart deals vary by region so not all of the prices listed here will be valid at all stores.

Quaker Oatmeal Pouches – $1
Buy 2 and use $1/2 printable
Or use $1/1 coupon from the 1/2 RedPlum insert
As low as free after coupon

Travel size Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets – $0.97
Use $3/1 coupon from the 2/20 RedPlum insert (does not exclude travel size)
Free plus overage after coupon

McCormick Grill Mates – $0.98
Use $1/1 coupon from the 3/13 RedPlum insert
Free after coupon

Kool-Aid Packets – $0.20
Buy 3 and use Buy Two, Get One Free coupon from the 3/13 SmartSource insert
Or buy 15 and use Buy Ten, Get Five Free coupon from the 3/13 SmartSource insert
As low as $0.13 each after coupon

Mom’s Best Oatmeal – $1
Use $0.75/1 printable
$0.25 after coupon

Kraft Barbecue Sauce – $1.24
Use $0.75/1 coupon from the 3/6 SmartSource insert
$0.49 after coupon

Ritz Munchables – $1.98
Use $1/1 printable
$0.98 each after coupon

Classico Pasta Sauce – $1.98
Use $1/1 printable
$0.98 after coupon

See the full list of Walmart deals here and here.

Find

Did you find a great deal at Walmart? Just post about it on your blog and leave your link below. To make it easy for everyone to navigate quickly through the links, your link must link directly to your Walmart deals post. Links going to the homepage of your blog or any other part of your blog besides the direct link to your Walmart deals post will be deleted.

15 Mar 2011   ·   70
Money Saving Mom

Q&A: How do you budget for online deals?

I am trying to go to cash-only and just use the bank account for bills! But how do you budget for online deals? I love the idea of going cash-only, but hate missing out on all the deals! Is there a good way to do this or am I just not going to get the deals now? :(-Holly

Our family uses a “hybrid system” for our expenditures. We use cash envelopes for items we would typically buy locally (you can see a list of all our cash envelope categories here) and then we use debit cards or online bill pay for our utility bills, insurance and other bills which are paid on a monthly basis. This works well for us and, from the experimenting we’ve done, we’ve determined we spend quite a bit less by paying for the bulk of our expenses with cash than if we were swiping our debit cards.

However, the question people often ask is, “If you use cash only for clothing, food and so forth, does this mean you can’t purchase any items from your cash envelope categories online?” Well, actually, no.

We are on a strict written budget and cash envelope system and we only buy things which we have the money allotted ahead of time to pay for. We use gift cards accumulated through Swagbucks to pay for some of our online purchases or we buy online with our debit card and then refund the money from our cash envelope to our bank account.

It might seem like a hassle to refund the money to our bank account, but we’ve found that this actually encourages us to be a lot more thoughtful about purchases. Instead of just jumping on a good deal because we’re afraid it might not be available for long, it forces us to think through whether it’s something which is a good deal for us — meaning it’s something we need or have been planning to purchase, something we can afford in that budget category and something we will use. In many cases, because it is a bit of a hassle, we end up talking ourselves out of the purchase before making it!

If you don’t feel comfortable using a debit card online or don’t want to mess with refunding money from a cash envelope to your bank account, I’d suggest purchasing pre-paid cards from the money in each cash envelope category. Keep these cards in their designated envelopes and only use them for online purchases from that category. This allows you to protect yourself from potential debit card fraud while still sticking with your budget and using money you’ve specifically set aside for that budget category.

14 Mar 2011   ·   35
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu

Pick-Me-Up Fruit Smoothie (recipe coming Thursday)

Breakfasts:

Pick-Me-Up Fruit Smoothies (recipe coming on Thursday)
Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Fruit
Cold Cereal, Juice x 2
Baked Oatmeal, Fruit
Overnight French Toast Casserole, Fruit

Lunches:

Leftovers x 2
Tuna sandwiches, frozen veggies, oranges
Macaroni & Cheese, carrots, apple slices
Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches, fruit
Cheese Quesadillas, frozen veggies, apple slices
Turkey sandwiches, fruit, veggies

Dinners:

Marinated Chicken, Toast, Frozen Veggies, Fruit
Haystacks (build-your-own Mexican dinner), Green Rice Casserole (from the freezer — I promise I’ll share the recipe next week!), Fruit
Steak, Baked Potatoes, Frozen veggies, Toast
Lasagna Casserole, Broccoli, Bread Machine Buttery Rolls
Tilapia, Mashed Potatoes, Frozen Veggies, fruit salad
Dinner at Extended Family’s House
Dinner Out

Extras: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Have you tried any new recipes recently? Share the links in the comments as I’d love to consider adding them to my list of recipes to try!

14 Mar 2011   ·   93
Money Saving Mom

Reader Testimonial: Frugality Allowed Us to “Splurge” For Others

An anonymous reader emailed in the following testimonial which I thought many of you would find encouraging:

I was the tight-fisted frugal one when we got married, but my husband was so impressed by my freebie-grabbing, creative penny pinching and compulsive saving that he quickly got on board! Even though we’ve only had one income for our family of seven, and that one income has always come from the notoriously underpaid field of education, we’ve never had any debt except for our mortgage which we vowed to pay off in less than five years (which we did). Our vehicles, home renovations, computers and all other purchases have always been paid for with cash.

A few years ago we heard about an orphanage in Burundi that was in distress. Its 20 young occupants shared two 10 x 10-foot rooms and had no running water or electricity. A piece of property had been located that had roomier buildings, water, power and a little land (i.e. for gardening, or some animals to help feed the orphans). Burundian refugees in America who were supporting the orphanage had no idea how to raise the exorbitant (to them) sum of $15,000 to pay for this in full, as apparently there were no mortgages in this primitive country.

Hearing about it through an emailed prayer request, my husband investigated the need, prayed and fasted, and ended up writing a check for the whole amount of $15,000! He was able to visit the property a year later with our daughter. What a heart-stopping, choked-up moment that was for them!

He took the above picture of the orphans in front of their new home and would have packed one or two of them into his suitcase to live with our family if he’d been allowed to! I love that guy!

My seamstress daughter also designed simple dresses like the one below which her sewing ministry was able to make for the girls:

God’s ways are awesome and we’re so blessed to be a part of His will. My tightness paid off in that we were able to splurge for others far away when it was really needed!

-An anonymous reader

14 Mar 2011   ·   118
Money Saving Mom

5 Tips for a Birthday Party on a Budget

Guest post by Shannon

Birthday parties are great, but throwing one these days can almost break the bank. It is possible to throw a birthday party on a budget and make it a party that your child and their friends will long remember. Here are five tips to help:

1. Make your own cake.

Buying a birthday cake from a bakery can be a costly proposition. Instead, get a couple boxes of cake mix and frosting to make your own. Even better are cupcakes. Get a fancy star tip and decorating bag to put a neat swirl on top.

2. Use solid color party-ware.

Your child’s party can still be themed with their favorite character or activity, but instead of having all matching cups, plates, napkins, and more, pick up some solid color items to match. They are less expensive and are easy to match the themed items. You will save money by just getting the themed invitations, a centerpiece, and a mylar balloon.

3. Just serve cake and ice cream.

Much of the cost for a birthday party is in the food. Invite your guests over in between lunch and dinner. That way the only items on your menu can be cake and ice cream.

4. Go back to the basics for party games.

It is easy to host some party games with items found around your home — think three-legged races which only require something to tie ankles together, a spoon and egg race, musical chairs, and freeze tag. Serve cake and ice cream before the games so that the kids can burn off all the extra energy!

5. Cut back on party favors.

It can be so tempting to go overboard on party favors to send home with your guests. Instead bake some cookies, place them in a cellophane or sandwich bag, tie with some ribbon to match your party theme and place them in a basket by the door to hand out as people are leaving. This a great activity for your child to participate in if they love to bake.

Your child can still have a great birthday party even without spending a bunch of money. Follow one or all of these tips to help celebrate their special day and stay on budget.

Shannon Weidemann is best known as the Partyelf. Check out all the great party ideas on her website to help plan your next celebration

Do you have an idea for a guest post? I am always looking for high-quality,original (i.e. not published anywhere else online) content with tips and ideas Money Saving Mom® readers can use. If you would like to submit a guest post, please follow the Guest Posting Guidelines.

photo credit