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22 May 2010   ·   29
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday: Target, Dillons and a 99% savings!

My sister and I headed to Dillon’s and Target last Saturday night and here’s what I ended up buying (excuse the photo quality, I snapped them with my phone because I was in a hurry!):

At Dillons: my total was $1.76 after coupons and sales for everything shown above! Plus, I got a $1 catalina back for buying Lunchables which they had already given me overage to buy! So my receipt showed a savings of 99%, but it was really more than that when factoring in the catalina.

Yay for stacking great coupons with Kroger e-coupons and sales promotions!

At Target, I paid $9.83 for everything shown — and got a $5 gift card back for buying razors. Woohoo! (My daughter asked if she could please be in the picture, too!)

We also stopped by Walgreens to get a few of the freebies, but they were completely out of all the good deals. Looks like someone else beat us to the sales — maybe one of you? 🙂

________________________

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.

21 May 2010   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

New Feature: Coupon Database (and how you can add it to your site, too!)

Have you tried out our new Coupon Database? It’s an incredible way to be able to quickly and easily find all available coupons for products you’re planning to buy.

So many people have written in to ask how I find all the coupons I post. Well, the coupon database has become my number one go-to source!

Whenever I find a great deal and am wondering if there are any coupons which could be used along with the deal, I just hop over to the coupon database page, do a quick search and — tada!any and all available printable, magazine and insert coupons for that product show up.

You can easily access the coupon database any time you’d like by clicking on the “Print Coupons” link in the navigational bar in my header. For more details on how to utilize the coupon database to maximize your savings, check out this video:

A coupon database was something I had long hoped to add to my site as I’d received many requests for it, but I didn’t have a clue how to pull it off. Thanks to the hard work of Andrea from MommySnacks, Briana from BargainBriana, Marcy from StretchingaBuck and my friend, Yvonne, this long-time dream of mine has become a reality.

If you have a frugal blog or deal blog, you can add the coupon database to your site, too!

You can set up a very simple version and add it for free. Or, you can purchase a subscription and add all your own affiliate links.

We’re running a special discount of almost half-price through May 24, 2010, so if you’re interested in adding this to your site, I’d encourage you to check it out before the price goes up. It’s a great way to add value to your site and help your readers quickly be able to find coupons they are looking for. Go here for all the details and pricing.

21 May 2010   ·   21
Money Saving Mom

Furnishing a home with Freecycle

Mary, from Slow This Ride Down, emailed me today about how they have furnished their home for next to nothing:

We just moved into a house after living overseas, we just came back with a few suitcases so owned NOTHING to put inside and didn’t want to spend anything.

Using Freecycle, thrift stores, and yard sales we filled our whole house with what we needed for pennies. I’m blogging all about how you don’t have to give in to consumerism and can live in a simple house just fine.

People try so hard to have a magazine perfect house, so I wanted to show that there are those of us out there whose house would never be featured for it’s amazing decor….but that the people living in it are still having a wonderful time! – Mary

You can check out Mary’s blog here where she shares details and pictures on their home furnishings, where they got it from and how much they paid for it. While the decor wasn’t exactly my style, I loved the philosophy behind why they are choosing to live like this. I think you’ll find it inspiring, too!

20 May 2010   ·   46
Money Saving Mom

I’ve totally changed my mind about Plan to Eat. Actually? I’ve decided that it’s pretty amazing!

Honesty is my top priority as a blogger. I tell it like it is — whether people like it or not. And the same is true when it comes to product reviews: you’re going to hear exactly what I think of a product. In other words, I’m not going to write a glowing review unless I find a product to be exceptional.

Last week, I wrote a fairly negative review of Plan to Eat. I had planned to try out the service and use it for a month before writing the review. However, when I logged onto the site to set up my account and figure out how to use it, I was left very frustrated with the site. There were little-to-no instructions on how to use the site and the only way I could figure out how to input recipes in order to test out the shopping list and menu-planning features was to type up all the recipes completely from scratch — which I really did not have time to do.

It seemed tedious and time-consuming and definitely not a product I felt comfortable singing the praises of. I kept wondering if I was missing something major somewhere because I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I scoured the site for step-by-step directions and tutorials and found none. So I finally gave up trying to make it work and just decided to share my experiences in my review.

At any rate, come to find out, I was missing something really big. Reader Mandy wrote to me yesterday and said:

I just read your blog post about Plan To Eat. I just wanted to point out that there is a VERY easy way to enter recipes from websites. If you simply cut/paste the URL of the webpage with the recipe in the top box (the same place that you enter the search info if you want to do a search), it will import the recipe beautifully for almost all the websites I’ve tried it with (and I’ve imported over 100 recipes).

If for some reason that doesn’t work, you can hit “bulk entry” and just one or two cut and pastes, and the recipe is there. You are right that the site doesn’t do a good job of tutorials. I guess I’m just lucky that it only took a few minutes to figure it out for me. I guess I have looked at so many meal planning sites and programs over the last 6 months that I can figure things out quickly 🙂 I will say that I have found what I was looking for in Plan to Eat though.

I logged into my account yesterday and looked for what she was talking about. Sure enough, right there in the header was a place to input recipes from a web address. I have no idea how I failed to find this the first time around — and I felt like a total dork for the review I wrote. It’s very apparent I’m a complete know-nothing when it comes to techie stuff!

At any rate, I spent a long while messing around with my account yesterday and I’ve totally changed my mind about Plan to Eat. In fact, I love the service! Once I figured out how to input some of my favorite recipes in it, I was able to see how it had some amazing features and would be an invaluable menu-planning service and grocery-list-making help.

It does take a little bit of time to input your favorite recipes, but using Mandy’s suggestions, I was adding recipes at about the rate of 1 per minute — much quicker than I ever could do if I were typing them up from scratch.

After inputting some recipes, I was able to quickly plan a mock-up menu with just a few clicks of a mouse. Then, once I had my menu planned, my grocery list was automatically created for me! (With a few more clicks, I was able to go through and easily delete the items I already have on hand and didn’t need to buy.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m always stumbling across recipes online that I want to try. Up until now, I’ve not found any system for collecting and cataloging these recipes. Well, I got all excited after I figured out how Plan to Eat worked yesterday because now I have a place to input and save all these wonderful recipes I find online.

No more searching in vain for a recipe link that I saw somewhere and then misplaced; I can immediately just add it to my recipe box on Plan to Eat. And then I can easily incorporate these recipes into our menu plans — all with just a few clicks.

In addition, once you built up your recipe collection, you can see at-a-glance if you’ve incorporated a recipe into your meal-plan and how often you’ve done so. I thought this was an especially cool feature as I sometimes can get into a rut in menu-planning.

Another really helpful feature is that you can easily divide your grocery list up by store. Plus, you can keep track of what you have in your pantry.

There are many more features I could tell you about, but I’ll have to save those to share later. The basic thing I wanted to make sure and communicate is that I was completely wrong in my assessment of Plan to Eat. It’s a really wonderful tool that I think many, many people could benefit tremendously from. In fact, I like it so much that I am seriously considering switching my entire menu-planning process over and using Plan to Eat exclusively because I think it could revolutionize my kitchen and meal-planning organization.

Interested in trying out Plan to Eat, too? Well, there’s good news: you can sign up for a completely free 30-Day Plan to Eat Subscription right now!

(And you are more than welcome to get a good laugh out of how un-techie I am for not being able to figure out how to use this service earlier. But I did I talk to the creator of Plan to Eat and was promised that step-by-step tutorials are at the top of the priority list. Not that probably anyone else besides me needs them!)

20 May 2010   ·   20
Money Saving Mom

Your Guide to Free Summer Fun

Looking for some FREE activities to fill up all that extra FREE time your kids have over the summer? You’ve come to the right place! Here is your guide to all things fun and free (or really cheap!) for your kids this summer with thanks to Kaley from Cha-Ching on a Shoestring for compiling this list for us. Have a seat, grab a pencil and your calendar and let the planning begin!

Reading Rewards Programs:

Free or Cheap Movie Admission:

  • Regal Free Family Film Festival: Beginning in June, select Regal Theaters will offer free family friendly movies starting at 10 am each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. Tickets are only available the day of the show and first-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity. Go here to see if there is a participating theater near you.
  • National Amusements Bookworm Wednesdays: Kids can get free admission to a select children’s film every Wednesday at 10 a.m. when they present a book report at a participating Showcase Cinemas, Multiplex Cinemas or Cinema de Lux box office. Accompanying parents or guardians and children under six also receive free admission and do not need to submit a book report. Program begins July 7 and ends August 11.
  • Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse: Participating Cinemark theaters are offering $1 family-friendly movies on select weekday mornings throughout the summer. You can opt to  purchase an advance pass for all ten movies for just $5 making them only $0.50 each! Find a list of participating locations, dates and times here.

Free Activities:

Kaley is the Wife, Mom, blogger, and free-stuff-finder behind Cha-Ching on a Shoestring where she chronicles her family’s journey of learning to live large on a limited budget and helps others do the same.  She and her husband Wes are the proud parents of two active, amazing boys and have lived to celebrate their journey through unemployment.

19 May 2010   ·   51

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How to Maximize Your Savings With Coupons

Missed the first posts this series? Read them here.

We’ve talked about why you should use coupons, how to obtain coupons and how to organize coupons. However, those things alone won’t help you cut your grocery bill unless you know how to maximize your savings with coupons. So today, I want to help you take this new-found coupon knowledge and put it into practice — to your greatest advantage.

Take Babysteps

You hear me say this a lot. But I think it bears repeating: please take baby steps when you start couponing. Do not go buy 10 newspapers, get a big honkin’ coupon box, and spend 5 hours clipping coupons when you’ve never used coupons in your life. You’ll overwhelm yourself, take an enormous amount of time and probably end up exhausted and burnt out — before you’ve even saved a penny on your groceries!

Start with a few newspaper inserts and a small coupon organizer. Check out the deals at your local store (you can find weekly deals for almost all regional stores in the Store Deals section of our website). Pick a few of the best deals that you have coupons for and can use and work those into your grocery trip.

Once you’ve gotten accustomed to matching a few coupons with a few deals, take it step farther and start looking for more coupon sources and try planning a menu based upon what’s on sale at the store. Once you’re comfortable with that, start practicing the Buy Ahead Principle.

Learning things gradually will help you to stay sane, save money and time and really determine what works best for your own family.

Prioritize Your Bargain-Shopping Based Upon Your Family’s Needs

There are often many more savings opportunities than time and it’s easy to lose track of this when you get caught up in the excitement of saving! Time is money, too, so always remember that it’s okay to not hit every deal.

In fact, I encourage you to cherry pick: focus on the best deals that week for items you need. Meaning, if you already have 10 tubes of toothpaste but are almost out of shampoo, prioritize shampoo deals over toothpaste deals. If you have extra time and extra wiggle room in your grocery budget, than you can definitely stock up on other great deals, but focus on feeding your family first.

How Much You Spend Matters More Than How Much You Save

A 75% savings on your grocery bill may sound impressive, but the 25% spent is what matters most. Stick to your grocery budget — even when it means passing up good deals — and you’ll see much greater savings in the long run.

In addition, when you commit to not going over budget, you’ll find that you focus on only getting the best deals and you’ll more easily be able to pass up a nominal deal because it’s not in the budget.

What tricks and tips do you have for maximizing your savings when using coupons? I’d love to hear!

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


18 May 2010   ·   210
Do you have a baby on the way, but you're worried about your finances? Read this encouraging series on how to have a baby without breaking the budget! TONS of great tips!

Q&A Tuesday: Diaper Stockpiling

Do you have a baby on the way, but you're worried about your finances? Read this encouraging series on how to have a baby without breaking the budget! TONS of great tips!

With all the Huggies coupons currently available, I thought it was only appropriate to tackle a question on diapers for Q&A Tuesday! Here’s Margaret’s question:

I am newly pregnant with my first baby and I have a question about diaper stockpiling. I’m trying to stock up now since I know I have months before the baby comes and get the best deals as they come along and not be stuck running out and paying full price because we’re desperate. However, I’m not sure how to gauge how many of each size to stockpile. Do you have any advice as to how quickly your kiddos went through different sizes or any other advice on stockpiling diapers (or other baby items!)?

-Margaret

Congratulations on your pregnancy, Margaret, and thanks for asking such a great question! I believe one of the smartest things a mom can do is to plan ahead now for what she’ll need those first few months after Baby is born. It will likely be a busy time of adjustment, tiredness and lots of snuggling with a newborn… the last thing you want to spend it doing is making lots of trips to the store for necessities like diapers.

It’s hard to gauge exactly how many diapers in each size you’ll need since every baby is so different. Some babies are born big and don’t even wear Newborn diapers — they just jump right into Size 1 diapers! Other babies, like my first, are small and grow slowly and wear Newborn diapers for six weeks!

My personal rule of thumb is that I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared. Namely, I’d rather have a few packages of diapers leftover when my baby moves up to the next size, than to run out of diapers in one size and have to make an extra trip to the store (For some reason, in those first few weeks after having a baby, I never seem to realize we’re out of diapers until we’re pretty much completely out!). I can always find a home for extra diapers I can’t use — either giving them as a shower gift, passing them onto a friend or donating them to a crisis pregnancy center.

When Silas was born last year, I had enough diapers stockpiled to last for the first 3-4 months. I bought seven packages of Newborn diapers, since my babies tend to be smaller and slow growers (Silas has sort of shattered that pattern, though, with his rapid rate of growth — that boy can eat like you wouldn’t believe!). And then I had around eight packages of Size 1 diapers and a few packages of Size 2 diapers.

From my experience, babies tend to go through about eight to ten diapers a day for the first two to four weeks. By the time they are around a month old, they usually using somewhere around six to eight diapers per day.

As I said earlier, all babies are different. But for your first baby, here’s what I’d suggest you stockpile:

::3-4 week’s worth of newborn diapers (around 200 to 250 newborn diapers),

::4-6 week’s worth of Size 1 diapers (around 250 to 300 Size 1 diapers)
::A few packages of Size 2 diapers

If you get overly ambitious, you can also stock up on a few packages of Size 3 diapers, as well!

Now, those numbers aren’t an exact science, but if you have that many diapers on hand, I guarantee you that you’ll at least be in pretty-good shape for the first few months when it comes to diapers.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all brands of diapers work for all babies. I’m very partial to Pampers just because my children seem to break out in rashes with other brands. I’ve also found that Pampers seem to be the least prone to leaking. However, that’s only my opinion; I know some moms who think Huggies or Luvs or Parent’s Choice diapers are the best diapers ever created. Since you’re a first-time mom, you might consider stocking up on different brands to help you determine what works best for you and Baby.

When looking for good deals, I’d suggest a good target price would be less than $5 per package. Now granted, if you live in an area with only a Walmart, this is going to be harder to accomplish (and it might be good to take advantage of a deal from Diapers.com). But if you live where there are drugstores like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, it’s pretty easy to often find diapers for less than $5 per package — especially with all the Huggies coupons out right now!
For more suggestions on what to buy for Baby, see my Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank series.

Have you stockpiled diapers before? If so, how many do you think Margaret should have on hand? What’s your diaper stock-up price?

Have a question you’d like me to answer for our Q&A Tuesdays feature? Email it to me and I’ll be glad to consider it for a future post.

17 May 2010   ·   41
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Making Gardening Work When You Don’t Have a Big Yard

Rene from Budget Saving Mom recently shared some tips with me on how she’s planting a garden in a small space:

We live on several acres, but only about 30 feet of it is not wooded so I knew that on my property, a traditional garden would not work. As I researched my options, I discovered square foot gardening.

Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening is when you don’t plant directly into the soil, but instead, you plant in a bed you have made and filled with dirt. In fact, if you can build the raised beds, I would recommend square foot gardening over traditional gardening because of the lack of weeds.

Also, you don’t plant in rows, you plant in a grid. It’s amazing how much you can grow using this method. My sister was able to raise all of the produce her family ate for the entire growing season in a 4 foot by 8 foot bed last year!

We now have fresh produce throughout the entire growing season and I don’t purchase any produce from the grocery store during this time.

What about produce during the non-growing season?

In order to have produce during the year, I joined 4 other families and planted an enormous garden on one of the other families’ properties. With this garden, I am able to can and preserve produce for the entire year. The result is, I am able to feed my entire family on $20-$25 each week — an incredible savings!

Don’t assume a garden isn’t an option for you. Almost anybody, anywhere can garden! Even if you don’t have a yard, if you have a deck or porch or patio of any sort, you’d be amazed at how much you can grow in large pots!

Read more of Rene’s gardening tips, along with other frugal living ideas at Budget Saving Mom where she also blogs about being a good steward of what the Lord has blessed us with, homeschooling, freebies, and coupon tips.

photo credit: mlwhitt

17 May 2010   ·   70
Money Saving Mom

Saving on a Smaller Salary

Guest post by Amy at Amy’s Finer Things

The excuses are many.

If only we made more money.

If only we had two incomes.

If only I had my degree.

If only we hadn’t had kids so soon.

If only we didn’t need so many things for the house.

If only…

If only…

If only is not an excuse to not save!

I know I’m not the only one who has been reading with fascination and admiration Crystal’s account of saving 100% down for a home. The discipline, the drive, the faith… what an amazing accomplishment!

I wonder, too, if many of you have done the math and realized the significance of their savings in such a short time period. For our family, it would (more or less) mean saving 100% of my husband’s gross teaching salary for 3-4 years. We believe in living on little, but 0% is a little too little.

If you’re living on a smaller salary, take heart. You may not be in a position to save 100% for a home, but barring a medical or financial emergency situation, you can and should still save!

Here are some of the strategies we employ to save on our smaller income.

Give first. No matter our financial situation, there is always someone somewhere who is in need. We have never suffered financially while giving generously.

Set financial priorities and goals. Before we were even married we knew that our priority would be for me to raise our children from home. Knowing a single income was in our future, we began living on one immediately, putting much of my income in savings. It was nice to have a head start!

Save automatically. Our savings deposit is made automatically each month, much the same as automatic bill payment. There is no need to ask “Can we spare this money right now?” because it’s already taken care of.

Live below your means. Even on a smaller salary, we can live below our means. Do we make sacrifices? Sure we do! No cable, smaller home, older (paid for!) vehicles… the list goes on. And our savings account keeps growing.

Remember… the best things in life aren’t things! Forget the Jones’s; stop buying stuff to make you happy. It won’t. Cherish your relationships. Make frugal living fun in your family. With the right attitude, your friends might join you!

Stop it with the “If only…” Quit waiting for “Someday…” Even with young children, even with a single income, even with a smaller salary, the time to save is now.

A Tiny Town Kansas wife of one and mother of 4 (3 and one on the way), Amy believes in Embracing the Extraordinary in Every Day.  On her blog, Amy demonstrates that living on one (smaller) income is both possible and rewarding.  She’s not afraid to preach from her soapbox that The Finer Things in Life Aren’t Things!

15 May 2010   ·   18
Money Saving Mom

Super Savings Saturday

We were out looking at potential houses to buy this morning and then we stopped by Kohl’s to take advantage of a $10 gift card I’d gotten free in the mail. (We ended up finding all sorts of great deals on children’s clothes — which I was so excited about since the children have been needing some things!) At any rate, I didn’t get this posted before we left, so thanks for your patience.

Here’s the run-down on our shopping this week: we went to Dillon’s twice and the health food store. I didn’t get a picture of the first Dillon’s shopping trip, but it basically consisted of milk, Cheerios, chicken, toilet paper, trash bags and a few other things. All in all, we spent $13.09 on that shopping trip.

Later on in the week, I stopped by Dillon’s and the health food store and here’s what I picked up:

I was especially excited about the free Pantene I was able to get. It was clearanced for $1.49 and I had $3/2 coupons! All totaled, I spent $17.69 for the groceries shown above.

My sister and I are headed to Walgreens and Target this afternoon to get some of the great deals there. I’ll report back on what we’re able to get next Saturday.

____________________________

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.

13 May 2010   ·   47
Money Saving Mom

A peek into our lives

I was supposed to be writing the second part in our House-Hunting series tonight, but instead, I thought I’d do something out-of-the-ordinary and post a little update on a few things that have been going on at our house.

Silas celebrated his first birthday a little over a week ago. It’s hard to believe he’s one! He’s working on learning how to walk and talk, eating up a storm and loves “singing” our ABC song during our morning homeschool time.

We’re loving the warmer weather and the chance to get out and take walks and get sunshine, fresh air and exercise after lots of cold winter days.

(Notice Kaitlynn’s necklace. She’s our little “fashionista” — every morning’s excitement revolves around picking out her outfit and matching accessories and hair bow!)

And meet James The Turtle — the newest member of our family, rescued by Kathrynne during one of our afternoon walks. This little guy has brought more entertainment and education and hours of fun into our home this week than can be counted. Who needs toys when you can have a pet turtle?!

Thanks to the wonderful ideas and input from Amy Andrews (my assistant/Jane-Of-All-Trades), I’ve been making some significant changes in how I budget my time throughout the day. She’s helped me become much more efficient and be able to scale back significantly on time spent on blogging and business details in order to focus my efforts and energies more on my family and homeschooling. (And she’s also managed to help me tweak my schedule enough so that I’ve  started getting close to 8 hours of sleep per night again — it feels so good!)

I’m really enjoying being offline for most of the day and being able to spend a lot more quality time with my husband and children. My precious babies are growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss a minute of it!

13 May 2010   ·   64
Money Saving Mom

Is signing up for free samples worth the time and effort?

Well, considering what came in my mailbox today (see picture above), I’d say a definite yes! I usually spend less than five minutes per week signing up for freebies and my mailbox is a source of constant surprise and fun — and often high-value or free product coupons. For five minutes of my time each week, it’s certainly worth it!

Want to have your mailbox start filling up with fun and money-saving freebies and high-value coupons? Just start signing up for a few of the freebies I post every day. Within 4-6 weeks, you should start seeing free things show up in your mail!

12 May 2010   ·   101

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Finding a Coupon Organizational System Which Works for You

Missed the first posts in this series? Read them here.

Last week, I shared with you how I organize my coupons. My system has worked well for me for over 10 years. I’ve tried other systems and they never quite work as well so I always end up going back to the Coupon Box method of organization.

3 Tips for Choosing an Organizational System for Your Coupons

1) Start Small

If you’re new to couponing, don’t feel like you have to go get yourself some big honkin’ box or binder in order to use coupons correctly. It’s really perfectly okay to start out with a little index box or something like The Couponizer.

Get accustomed to something small. When you feel really comfortable with that and you want to move up, then it’s time to consider a box or a binder. But don’t overkill from the get-go and then burn yourself out. You can save plenty of money with a small coupon organizer, too.

2) Keep it Simple

The goal is to save money with coupons, not create some elaborate system. Don’t get hung up in all the details. Keep it simple — especially at first.

3) Do What Works for You

What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. I strongly encourage you to experiment with a few different methods and find what works best for you. And then stick with it, so long as it is working well for you!

::Coupon Organizational Methods::

photo from Coupon Magic Organizer

::The Binder Method::

This method of coupon organization is probably the most popular. There are many different ways to create a Coupon Binder, but they all usually involve a 3-ring zippered binder with baseball card holders. You file your coupons in the plastic sleeves of the baseball card holders.

Pinching Your Pennies has an excellent video here on How To Create a Coupon Binder. And Penny Pinching Diva has a great article on The Anatomy of a Coupon Binder which explains how to set up your own Coupon Binder.

Pros — You can easily see all coupons you have at a glance making it simple to locate coupons. Unlike the Coupon Box method, if you drop the Coupon Binder, you don’t have to worry about coupons scattering everywhere!

Cons — When I tried this method, I found it tedious to put all the coupons in the sleeves. If they didn’t fit, you’d have to fold them and stuff them in. It took quite a bit of time and effort compared to my Coupon Box method.

See more Pros and Cons on the Coupon Binder from Utah Deal Diva.

Pre-Made Coupon Binders

Don’t have the time to put together your own Coupon Binder? You can buy them already made up for you from Prospering Families or from Coupon Magic Organizer.

Want something more stylish than a plain old 3-ring binder? Order a Coupon Clutch!

::The Whole Insert Method::

This method of coupon organization is the least time-consuming. Instead of clipping coupons out, you file the inserts whole by date. See a video of how the Whole Insert Method works here.

Pros — It’s so simple and is perfect for a person who doesn’t have a lot of time to clip coupons. In addition, it’s easy to find your coupons when you’re planning your grocery shopping trip as you can search for coupon in our Coupon Database and then just pull the insert from the file and clip the coupon.

Cons — Since you don’t clip all your coupons, if you run into a great clearance or unadvertised deal, you won’t be able to search your coupons to see if you have some which you could use. This was the most frustrating aspect when I tried this method. I missed out on deal after deal because I didn’t have my whole Coupon Box with me and at my finger tips.

::The Coupon Box Method::

I shared how this method works for me here. You can watch a Video Tour of My Coupon Box to see how Carrie set her system up. Monica also has a great tutorial on her adorable coupon box.

Pros — You have every coupon at your finger tip. Plus, I found it much easier to file and find coupons than when using a Coupon Binder.

Cons — The box is a little bulky and might feel conspicuous to some of you to take into a store (doesn’t bother me, but I’m already weird!). In addition, if you drop the box, you may have Coupon Disorganization Disaster! 🙂 And finally, you have to keep up with cutting and filing coupons, otherwise the Coupon Box is not that beneficial.

Those are the three basic methods used by “super-couponers”. There are a thousand different variations on these methods and I encourage you to experiment and figure out what works for you!

I’m curious: If you clip coupons, do you clip all of them or just the ones you think you’ll use? I’ve actually been moving more towards what Carrie outlines here (a combination of the Coupon Box method and the Whole Insert method) in order to save time. So far, it seems to be working well!

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11 May 2010   ·   71
Money Saving Mom

Q&A Tuesday: What do you think of eMeals?

As of today, we’re starting a new feature here called Q&A Tuesdays. I’ll choose one question each week from my inbox to answer. Today’s question comes from Teandra:

I know you’re a huge Dave Ramsey fan and my husband and I are currently in FPU. I heard Dave suggest eMeals on the radio last week so I went to check it out. It’s $1.25 per week and feeds a 7-day dinner meal plan for 4 to 6 people $75/week, or a 5-day dinner plan for 2 people $35/week. I’m wondering if you’ve heard of eMeals and what you think of it compared to what you already do with your family.

Teandra

I’ve heard of eMeals, but have never used the program before because I’ve been planning my own menus for so long that it’s hard to imagine paying someone else to plan them for me!

I did try out and review Stolen Moments Menu Planning service back in November and was thoroughly impressed with it. I’m assuming eMeals would be somewhat similar, though it’s less expensive and offers aisle-by-aisle grocery lists — which would be really helpful! However, it’s not as tailored for your family as Stolen Moments Menu Planning is and I also noticed they don’t offer that many different specific grocery store options.

Since I like to plan my menus based upon what I have on hand in addition to what’s on sale at the store, shop at more than one store, shop the marked-down section of stores and stock up when items are at rock-bottom prices, it’s hard to follow a pre-planned menu plan written by someone else. I also have been cooking the majority of our meals ahead on Freezer Cooking Day, so it seems like this would defeat the purpose of subscribing to a menu planning service right now.

That said, if menu-planning is overwhelming to you or you’re in a busy season of life and need to keep it simple when it comes to grocery shopping and cooking, I’d definitely give eMeals a try. It’s only $5 per month and you can cancel at anytime. You just might find that it’s a perfect fit for your family!

Have you used eMeals or another menu-planning service before? If so, tell us about your experiences — good or bad — in the comments. I’d love to hear.

PSST! If you’re considering signing up for an eMeals subscription to try it out, you can use coupon code savemoney to get $2 off a 3-month subscription, making it only $13 for 3 months — or around $4.33 per month.

Have a question you’d like me to answer for our Q&A Tuesdays feature? Email it to me and I’ll be glad to consider it for a future post.