Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back At My Favorites of 2009

So it's been quite the year in the Deal Hunting and Couponing World in 2009!

While I was sitting here doing my End of December and End of 2009 Financial Numbers, I got to thinking about all the deals and rebates that made up my year. 
Here is a List of my 15 Favorite Deals, Rebates and Ideas for 2009, in no particular order.

1.  KMart Super Double Coupons Event
From April until October of 2009, the KMart Corporation sporadically offered weekly Sales Events where they DOUBLED and in some cases TRIPLED the Value of Manufacturer's Coupons/Internet Printed Coupons that were redeemed in their stores.  Combined with some weekly sales, KMart $X off a $X Purchase Coupons and Catalina Offers and there were many FREE or very Low Cost items to be had this year.  As there are 5 KMarts within a 30 mile radius here which all participated in this Double Coupons Event each time it was offered by the chain, and these locals also reordered/restocked fairly rapidly, KMart was one of my favorite places to be in 2009.

2.  Acme Grocery Catalina Deals
Though I don't have a SuperValu chain Grocery Store locally,  this chain offered a Catalina Deal twice this year that was so awesome that it was worth it for me to drive an hour away to an Acme Store get in on these deals.   I actually made two trips down for this one HERE.

3.  Rite-Aid Single Check Rebates
The adage, "It Takes Money to Make Money", is central to to getting stuff for FREE at Rite-Aid.  With their system, you buy items and submit for your rebates either online or through the mail, and you receive ONE combined Rebate Check.  You can combine these rebates(some of which are for the full purchase price)with using store and manufacturer's coupons and buying the items when they are on sale as well to end up being PAID to buy SCR items.

4.  Weis Gillette Catalina Deal 
In June Weis offered the BEST Catalina Deal I ever saw them offer thus far.  Between sale prices, Instant Savings at the Register and Coupons, you could get Gillette products(Body Wash, Shampoo, Razors, Shaving Cream) for FREE or almost free.  Check it out HERE, the Double Dip HERE and my final haul HERE.

5.  Price Chopper Unilever Deal + Ham Rebate
Buy $40 in regular shelf price of select Unilever items and receive a $20 OYNO Coupon.  Keep your Out of Pocket to $20 using sales and coupons, and each subsequent transaction cost you ZERO out of pocket and generates another $20 OYNO Catalina.  Unilever simultaneously offered a Mail-In Rebate when you bought $40 in their products AND a Ham or Turkey(up to $20 in price) and submitted your receipts and qualifier, you received a Rebate on the cost of the Meat.  HERE

6.  Staples Reams of Paper Deal
 Back in late March/early April there was a great Rebate offer at Staples on Cases of Multipurpose Paper that was being discontinued. Between the sale price, the rebate offer and the Staples reward on paper purchases I posted about HERE, lots of folks got paper for around 72¢ a ream!

7.  Free Purex 3-in-1 Detergent
Back in March, I was selected to be one of the 1st 100 people in the country to try this new product.  It was all very hush-hush and we all got a package of the Detergent Sheets and a Free Item Coupon, as well as the ability to have the company send Free Item Coupons to our friends with email addys.  With the new product release later in the year came alot of high value coupons and sales, making for very cheap or free Purex product.  I enjoyed the great deals but I also had some misgivings about this product as you can see HERE.  Later it turns out that the sheets are not only not eco-friendly but they can cause washing machine malfunctions and end up costing you money in repairs.  That being said, they are GREAT to send with #1 son so he can do his laundry!lol

8.  Free Chocolate Fridays
The Mars Company held a Candy Bar Giveaway every Friday over the summer months.  You could 'win' a free candy bar up to 5 times over the course of the Giveaway.  After the 1st Friday that turned out to be a disaster due to an overwhelming response, as my post Here demonstrated, this was quite the popular Giveaway and scored major points with most consumers.  I suspect there are a lot of us here who had free chocolate thanks to the Mars Company. 8-)

9.  Price Chopper Triple Coupons Event in March
Early March saw the local regional grocery chain, Price Chopper, offered 2 Coupon Tripler Coupons in the local Sunday paper.  After buying 11 newspapers that week to get 22 Tripler Qs, I had 11 good shopping trips that week to Price Chopper Here.  While it wasn't an epic scale shopping extravaganza, it was all good.  The bad part is that this was the ONLY time in 2009 that the local Price Chopper offered these Triple Coupons on any product.

10.  Kellogg's Fuel 4 School Rebate
Late Summer to Early Fall Kellogg's ran a MIR called "Fuel for School".  You had to purchase 10 qualifying Kellogg's/Keebler items in ONE RECEIPT, then send in one of the numerous forms available for this rebate with the receipt and the UPCs from the products and Kellogg's sent you back a check for $10.  With sales and coupons, this Rebate turned out to cost less than $10 out of pocket so a nice Moneymaker!  Even better, though the rebate was a limit of 1 per name/address, there were Four  DIFFERENT PO BOX ADDRESSES to send the rebate to(depending on which rebate forms you had), meaning you could send up to FOUR Times for this Rebate per name/address.  I only mentioned this rebate a few times, HERE I mentioned it briefly in conjunction with a Kmart Double Coupon Event Week haul.

11.  SC Johnson Rebates + Glade Deals + Free Holiday MP3s
SC Johnson offered a $5 MIRebate(WYB 3 SC Johnson products)this fall that I blogged about HERE.
Target and KMart along with other stores offered great sales deals on the Glade line of SC Johnson products so you could have ended up paying out LESS $ than you got back in the end.  Add in that you could do this MIR up to THREE TIMES per name/address and there were 36 FREE Holiday Music downloads available if you had the UPC from the products you had purchased I posted about HERE.

12.  Hickory Farms Clearance Deals
January brought us After Christmas Clearances.  You can see what I bought Here.  Looking back, I do think I overdid it a bit.  I did end up having to throw out a couple of items that didn't get eaten before it's expiration date.  Again, it's NOT a deal if you have to throw it

13.  FREE Reese's Whipps Candy Bars
Again, another new item in the market, so Hershey's releases good coupons for this item.  Pair those Qs with a lot of sales and you get a lot of free candy bars!  We were eating free Candy Bars until we just couldn't stand looking at one of THESE another moment.

14.  Deal Trifectas--Any Company that offered one
A Deal Trifecta is a product that is on sale, has a high value coupon available for it and also offers a rebate of some kind(either Catalina/Mail-In/Free Product Offer).  In the best of all possible worlds you not only get the item for free in the end, but you also MAKE MONEY for buying it.   This is often the case at Rite-Aid if you buy prudently.

15. Me + Meal Planning=Less Waste/Less Spending
Since I began a weekly menu/meal plan in 2009, I find I am better at not letting food go to waste but I am also making better purchasing choices and my family is eating a better diet.  It has led to my being more organized in the kitchen, which has led to being more organized in other areas of my life.
I HEART Meal Planning!
This is not to say that there is NOT a time and a place to be spontaneous in the Kitchen.  Both have their place in my life.

So what were Your favorite Couponing Related Deals & Happenings in 2009?
Leave a comment and let us know!


End of December Spending at Rite-Aid

I finally got out on Wednesday to do my weekly Rite-Aid run.  Since I was so late this week hitting Rite-Aid I missed out on one of the SCR items I wanted to get, the Oral B Power Brush Toothbrush.
All sold out here......bleh.

Here is what I did get.  Remember, I can use the Wellness Card and corresponding Qs.  Make sure you apply for your Wellness Card in 2010 when the program opens up nationwide.  You will have access to IP Qs and have Qs print on your CRT, like the ones I used in this transaction.

5 x Soy Joy Bars on sale $.60=$3.00
1 x NyQuil on sale=$4.99
1 x Metamucil on sale=$9.49
1 x Crest Toothpaste on sale=$2.49
2 x Xmas Gift Tags on clearance $1.24=$2.48
1 x Xmas Dish on clearance=$1.00

Coupons Used
1 x $5 off $20 R-A AdPerks Coupon=$5.00
1 x BOGO Soy Joy bar ManuQ=$.60
1 x $1.50/1 NyQuil ManuQ Nov. P&G insert=$1.50
1 x RA Wellness/CRT $2 off OTC Cough Cold Meds=$2.00
1 x $3/1 Metamucil ManuQ Dec. P&G insert=$3.00
1 x $1/1 Crest Toothpaste ManuQ Nov. P&G insert=$1.00
3 x RA Wellness/CRT $1 off Seasonal item=$3.00
Coupon Total.....$16.10

$23.45-$16.10=$7.35 OOP
$6.79 put on a RA Gift Card=$.56 balance OOP in Cash

Single Check Rebates qualified for....
$3 Soy Joy
$2 NyQuil
$5 Metamucil
$1 Crest
$11 in SCRs.

$.56 OOP-$11 Rebates=$10.44 Moneymaker!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Saving for Christmas the Easy Way

Now that Christmas Day and the gift-giving melee is behind us I want to ask you a few questions....

1. Did you have a gift-giving budget?
2. Did you stick to that budget?
3. Did you pay cash for all the gifts you gave or did you put them on a credit card and spend money you do not have yet?

If you answered YES to All of those questions, Congratulations!!  You are winning financially.

If you answered NO to Any of those questions, you really need to make some changes for your financial well-being, and you have some work to do before Christmas rolls around next year.

I know that it's way early but here is something you can do NOW to make sure that you avoid the Financial Hangover next January. 
The Financial know....the sick feeling you get when the credit card bill with all those Christmas purchases on it arrives after the 1st of the year.

So as not to end up buying presents on credit next year, put money aside starting in January for next Christmas. 

Sit down and figure a rough budget for gifts. 
Say $500 would be a good amount to spend in relation to your income. 
Divide that figure by 11. 
Every month, for the next 11 months, put aside $45.45 into a Christmas fund. 
You can set up an account at your local credit union or bank. 
Or have the money automatically deposited from your paycheck into an online account like at ING.(This options is good if you don't trust yourself to save the money or you are forgetful.) 
Or even just put the cash aside in a cookie jar in your house.
Even better, go set up a Christmas Club Account at your local bank.  These type of accounts are making a comeback lately!  If you are like most people, you will hardly notice the little amount missing from your monthly income.

Do this one thing, put aside a set amount of cash each month and don't touch it!, and come the beginning of December, you will have enough saved up to pay CASH for Christmas!

I find that if I am trying to save money for a goal, I am more motivated if I keep that lump of cash separate from my other money.  If I am saving and mingle that money into an account with other money(just dumping it into my checking or general savings account for example), I am less motivated to keep going toward my goal.  So I end up with lots of little piles of money in different accounts.  Being able to visualize the money works for me.

So I am setting my Christmas budget now at $800.  On the 1st of each month, starting on January 1st,  I will move $72.72 into my Christmas Fund. 

Come join me in this Savings Goal.

Figure out what your Christmas Budget should be.  A general rule of thumb is that your Christmas spending should NOT exceed 1.5% of your total income.  I just mention this as something to get you started on thinking about what your budget should be. 
After you decide on a do-able Budget, post it in the comments section. 
If there is enough interest, I can do up a chart of participants and post it on the sidebar.
Each month I'll post a reminder for everyone to Fund their Christmas Account.
Let's keep track of how we save for Christmas together.

The Sluggy Christmas Club! ;-)


Get Your Packages Mailed before Sunday....Rate Increase!

Just a quick reminder that some of the US Postal Rates for package services are going up as of Monday, Jan. 4th.  So if you need to mail a package, get on it and get it mailed Thursday or Saturday morning before the rates rise!

I had forgotten about this latest increase in prices.  I had to mail a rebate this week that required extra postage so I had to go to the PO.  Usually, the week AFTER Christmas you could land aircraft in the place, it's that deserted!
Imagine my surprise at having to stand in a loooong line.....for about 20 minutes to get some extra stamps stuck on my envelope Tuesday!  Why the heck is everyone mailing packages on December 29th?

Oh yah....rate increase....


Monday, December 28, 2009

Meal Plan Monday.....December 28th Edition....More Room in the Freezer Now!

Last Week's Menu Postmortem...

Well I don't have one this week because I never got around to doing a Meal Plan last week. Just too crazy at the holidays ya

#1 son came home from college so we are back to 5 willing  Though I didn't do a meal plan on paper last week, I did have a loose one in my head.  I made quiche, clam chowder w/biscuits, lamb, baked chicken and hamburgers.
Here's what I will be serving our family of 5 this Week.....

MONDAY--Beef Stroganoff(freezer/fridge), Tossed Salad
TUESDAY--Spaghetti and Meatballs(stockpile), Swiss Chard(freezer)
WEDNESDAY--Chicken Alfredo(stockpile/freezer), Green Beans(freezer)
THURSDAY--Homemade Pizza(stockpile/freezer), NYE snacks(whatever I can find here to make)
FRIDAY--Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf for #1 son(freezer), Mashed Potatoes(stockpile), Cauliflower/Carrots/Broccoli(freezer)
SATURDAY--BBQ Chicken(freezer), homemade Mac & Cheese(stockpile/freezer), Peas(freezer)
SUNDAY--Date Night w/Hubby-the teens will fend for themselves
SNACKS/DESSERTS--Cantaloupe, Pineapple, Brownies, Cookies, Bread Pudding, Cake Balls

Last week I spent $70.48 on food/toiletries. $40.20 was at Weis, $4.99 on sliced cheese at Carone's, $6.05 at a local grocer where I had a $20.00 gift certificate to use($26.05 total before gc), $6.35 yesterday at Target(after xmas food) & $12.89 at the Bread Outlet.  That's not to say that I didn't go to Rite-Aid, I DID!, but the OOP was put on a Gift Card so Zero spending there last week.  It didn't seem like I spent $70.48 but it does add up to that. I feel a bit better about that amount though when I calculated that for that $70.48 I got a load of food/toiletries valued at $233.34 regular retail, for a savings of 69.80%! 8-)

Food Waste waste this week, beyond the usual veggies parings into the compost.  I had leftover quiche egg/cream mixture and leftover stale bread and used both to make bread pudding today.
Pretty proud of myself for doing that! ;-)

This week's menu doesn't require any grocery purchases.  We do need some fresh produce and milk and #1 son is eating a path through the deli meats so those will need replenishing.  I have to go through and see if there are any deals/coupons that need using up this week as well.  I am trying hard though not to buy stuff beyond immediate grocery needs still.  I spent 2 hours this morning in the stockpile reorganizing and rearranging things so I can get to stuff easier.  I really can see a lot of empty space now in the freezer too!  By next week I'll be able to rearrange in there and take an inventory without having to pull out a ton of icy cold food and freeze my hands.lolol

Check out ORGANIZING JUNKIE to see what other Home Cooks are serving this week.



WHAT: 3 packs of Ivory Soap on sale for $.99 + $1/1 Ivory Soap Coupon in the 12/27 P&G coupon insert=FREE SOAP!

Need I say more? ;-)


Sunday, December 27, 2009

I am Guilty of Coupon Neglect!

See that pile in the picture?
Do you know what it's a pile of?
That's the pile of EXPIRED COUPONS I pulled out of my coupon binder last week!
In preparation for a NEW Year of Couponing I finally got around to weeding out my binder.
And folks, I'll tell you it was NOT a pretty sight.
Some of those coupons I pulled out had expired 2 MONTHS ago, or MORE!!

That's right....My name is Sluggy and I am guilty of Coupon Neglect.

Over the past year, the year I began to coupon with intensity, I have used just about every filing/storage system out there.
I went from no system, to an envelope system, to a series of wipey boxes system, to a binder system, to a hybrid of binder and wipey boxes.
I also went from clipping ALL coupons to clipping what I'd probably use and filing the unclipped inserts to use later if needed.
I've also gone from buying a couple of Sunday papers for coupon inserts to buying 10+ papers for the inserts to buying 1 Sunday paper for inserts and buying individual coupons I'll use via a clipping service.

And you know what?
I haven't found the perfect system for me yet.  The reason is as I've moved through this year of coupon-ing, I've changed what I buy and how much I coupon.

I am going to sit down this coming week, before the new year begins and rethink my couponing methods and madness.  I'm hoping this will help me figure out the right method for me.

I have gone from buying everything I could get for free or almost free, no matter if I can/will use it, to buying a lot less in the last few months.

Buying all these things I didn't need, left me with tons of things that I ended up selling at a flea market a couple of months ago just to get it out of my life.
True, I spent very little money out of pocket and ended up with a 2 year supply of toiletries for my family and enough leftover to make $900+ at a flea market selling the excess.
The money I made was nice but it couldn't give me back all that time and energy expended to gather all those things I didn't need/want.

I also ended up with piles of diabetes meters that I can't use.  These were bought just to get something else for free or get ECBs or RRs to buy things I could use.  Though I have found homes for almost all of them now, these meters have taken up room in my home for many months and have taken up my time and energy as well--between collecting them, storing them, and rehoming them.  Time and energy that could have been used more constructively in my life.

Now I'm not saying that chasing after every deal is a bad thing.  It's just a matter of where you place your life's priorities.  I'm realizing that I need to be a little more choosy in the deals I spend my time and energy on.

Clipping and filing that pile of expired coupons took a fair amount of time and energy.  Though I did use a lot of what I clipped and filed,  look at what a waste of my time and energy it turned out to be for that pile! 
Is clipping and filing and using coupons and hunting down deals worth your time and energy?
You bet!
You just need to step back now and again and see where you can make changes to how much couponing you do & what you coupon on versus what and how much you should do!

So tell you have a coupon storage system that works for you?  

Are you a 'no holds barred' couponer who goes after all the deals?  Or are you selective?  

Do you buy things you won't use if that thing will help you get something you can use for free?  Do you think that that is a good reason for buying something?

Do you buy lots of Sunday papers for the coupon inserts or do you use a clipping service and just get the coupons you will use?  Which do you think is more cost effective in the long run--buying papers for inserts or using a service?

Do you need to rethink your coupon storage system and/or what deals you go after as I am doing?  

Leave a comment and let us all hear where you are in your 'coupon-ing journey'.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

December Charity Challenge...Playing Santa!

I spent the earlier part of this week playing Santa.
As some of you know, in the past I've sold toys and collectibles on eBay.  I still have a METRIC TON of old, still in the package toys left to sell.

I've been a member on a Yahoo List called Christmas Wishes for the past 4 years.  It was set up by a local woman here.  The purpose of this list is to allow folks who want to help fulfill Christmas wishes to find folks who need help at the holidays.  It's open to any person who lives in PA.  I do believe the owner of the list has also opened up similar lists for every state since.

Anyway, people who are having difficulty providing Santa for their kids or grandkids at Christmas post to be adopted on this list.  Usually they are people who can't get on the Toys for Tots, Salvation Army or other local charity lists.  They either are among the working poor who make too much money to qualify for these programs or they have had a recent setback, like a loss of employment or other financial crisis or something like a house fire, left an abusive relationship, etc.  The reasons for needing the help run the gamut.

So most every year I gather up a bunch of the toys I have left to sell and offer them on that list.  The folks who respond arrange to meet me and I give the parents/grandparents the toys so their kids don't go without a gift at Christmas.  There were also quite a few requests for teenage girls who wanted girly stuff like toiletries and makeup this year, so I raided some of my toiletries/make-up stockpile as well.
Here are some of the goodies I delivered around Teeny Tiny Town this week.....

There were another 3 bags of toys that hubby delivered up by his job this week that I didn't get photos of first.

This is the only reason why I mentioned in the last post that I 'might' go out toy clearance shopping in the next week, even though none of my kids are of the age where they are into toys anymore.
I had used that Kmart Toy Clearance $5/$20 Q and used the BOGO Transformers Q this summer to get some toys very inexpensively.  Those toys were given out on the ChristmasWishes List as well.

Not sure on the value of all this as I haven't tried adding it up yet, but it has to be at least $300 of toys/toiletries.

So did you make an charitable donations this month?
Tell us all about it and be sure to link and check out the CHARITY CHALLENGE over on the CVS SAVER BLOG.  The Charity Challenge is located Here.

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a peaceful, joyous Christmas!
I also hope "Santa" brought you something you really REALLY wanted!

Since all my kids are teens now, there was no pre-dawn staggering of mom and dad downstairs to the Christmas tree.  We all roused and got to the gift unwrapping by
Everyone seemed happy with their haul, especially our youngest who got his heart's desire of a bass guitar.
Then the relatives showed up and I started the Holiday meal.
I didn't do a big Feast like in years past.  I baked a chicken with onions and carrots and roasted a small boneless leg of lamb with onions and rosemary potatoes.  Add in teriyaki green beans and sparkling grape juice and everyone ate well.
And the best part is the only leftover was some chicken. We all had plenty to eat and I didn't have to cram leftovers into the fridge!  That's my idea of a Christmas present....

My Sister-in-Law sent a big box of fancy pants Cookies that arrived Christmas Eve so we all set upon that box like a herd of hyenas for dessert.  It's a good thing too, because I didn't have the energy or time to get around to making any Holiday sweets yet.  Since hubby has off for the next week, I'll take my time and make a few sweet goodies in the coming days.

So are you off hunting the After Christmas Deals today?
I know this will shock you but, I won't be shopping today.
I don't need any wrapping stuff.
And my kids are past the toy ages so I don't need to stock up on clearance toys for next year.....though I might go out later and get some to stash back to donate next Christmas.
I don't need toiletries and perfume sets, or holiday food sets or holiday themed paper goods or cake mixes/frostings/etc.  I have more than I can use in my stockpile already.
This is all not to say that the majority of my family is NOT at the mall or Target or some other shopping mecca as I type this out.  They all got gift cards &/or cash and it's burning a hole in their collective pockets!lol

I think I'll spend today downloading and going through the photos I shot yesterday.
Then I'll get my receipts up to date and prepare to do my end of month calculations on my spending.  Then pay a couple of year end bills. 
Then do a few rebates that need to go out before the end of December.
Then I 'might' wander up to Rite-Aid since I still have a $20 Fall GOS Certificate to use and there is some Northern TP on sale calling to me.lolol
Then lounge in bed and read a book.
There will be no cooking or cleaning today.
Just things I WANT to do!

Happy Day-After-Christmas everyone!!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I got my Christmas Present Already....

...and Here it is!

My baby came home on Saturday for Christmas.
He hasn't been home(except for 6 days in August) since June.
We sent our handsome, clean shaven, toned wrestler son away to college and we got back Grizzly Adams.

Welcome home son and Merry Christmas.
Now go do your laundry!


WITHOUT YOU I'd Be Nothing!

It is a Noteworthy Day!
Today my blog reached 50 Followers!!
I know 50 isn't much, but it's a landmark in my book.

I just want to let all of you know how appreciative I am that you each chose my Blog to, I mean follow.
I raise my glass of iced tea to you all and say THANK YOU!
And I pray that you all stick around and continue to check in on me every now and again.

I've got some thinking to do about what direction I want to take this blog in, in the coming year.  If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.

I've definitely got some things planned, including a couple of giveaways.  Who doesn't like winning free stuff, right?lol

I'm off now to go play "Santa" today.  More on that later....


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Good Deal Alert at Rite-Aid this Week if You have the Wellness Card

For those of you in the test-market areas for the Rite-Aid Wellness Card Program, you may have noticed when you bought anything at Rite-Aid recently, and used your Wellness Card, that 2 coupons printed out on your CRT.
The 1st coupon is for $2 off any OTC cold or cough medicine priced $2 or higher.
Pair this coupon with any of the Theraflu Manufacturers coupons out there(insert or IP ones) for some really inexpensive medicine this week.

If you go to there is a $2/1 Theraflu Q currently.  Use that Q with the CRT $2/1 Q to get the Theraflu(on sale this week for $3.99)for FREE.  Most Rite-Aids have Theraflu blinkie machines dispensing $1.50/1 Qs right on the store shelves.  Pair the CRT Q with this $1.50 Q and get the Theraflu for $.49!

The other CRT Q printing out is for $1 off a seasonal item priced at $1 or more.  I am saving all of those Qs up for Dec. 26th when all the seasonal stuff goes on clearance.  This $1/1 CRT Q doesn't expire until Jan. 9th so plenty of time to get a few free or almost free seasonal items!


A Winter Solstice Greeting

Sorry for the lack of posts lately but between still not being over the flu and having to run around like a mad woman getting things done at the last minute for the Holidays, there hasn't been much time for blogging.

Though I am a tad late,  I did want to stop in briefly and wish all my wiccan & pagan friends a Blessed Yule!

May your Yuletide Blessed Be!


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Real Cost of that Holiday Debt

Did you know the average American puts the bulk of their Christmas/Hanukkah spending on a credit card and takes months to pay those charges back?

Buying that $50 cashmere sweater as a gift for your Cousin Nellie is nice, but if you can't afford to pay cash for it now and have to put it on a credit card, unless you pay the balance of the card in full before the next statement/billing cycle, that sweater will cost you more than $50 in the end and take you months to pay off.

In one of those reports they love to do this time of year, it was reported that the average American spent $835 on Christmas of 2007.  If that person has the average credit card rate of 16% and makes only the minimum payment each month on their bill, it will take them 90 months to pay off the bill and they will have paid an additional $572.87 in interest, turning that $835 Christmas bill into a $1407.87 Christmas bill!  In fact, as of Dec. 2009, that person who spent $835 in Dec. 2007 has only made 24 payments on that Christmas '07 bill and will continue to pay off that debt for another 5 and 1/2 years!!

How about you?
Are you using credit cards to pay for Christmas/Hanukkah and taking months to pay it off?  If so, you are spending a lot more than what you think you are spending when all is said and done.

Step Away From the Credit Cards this Holiday Season!
Don't be intimidated by friends or family to spend more than you actually have now!  
Give modest gifts that fit within your budget and give an abundant helping of yourself instead!

Make this the year you say NO MORE to Holiday Debt!
Make this the year you don't dread the January Fiscal Hangover!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas & Hanukkah Wrapping Paper.....Frugal Alternatives to Buying It

Giving gifts at the Holidays goes back at least as far as the official celebrating of Christmas in our country-about 150 years.  The history of gift wrap is almost as long.

In the 1800's wrapping a Christmas gift was not an elaborate affair.  Usually the gift was presented wrapped in brown paper or white tissue paper, if it was wrapped at all.  The forerunner of the modern 'Gift Bag' was used in this century as well, in the form of a paper basket or cornucopia.

At the end of the nineteenth century, mechanized technology evolved to the point at which colored paper could be printed cheaply in sheets large enough to be used for wrapping things.  A rotary system that rolled huge lengths of paper onto tubes and cut them into usable sizes was developed in the 1890's and gave rise to the first American Gift Wrap Company, Hy-Sill Manufacturing Inc. in 1903.  This company is still in existence today and celebrated it's 106th year in business in 2009!

But the Wrapping Industry's largest seller, Hallmark, landed in this business goldmine quite by accident.  Hallmark's founders, the Hall Brothers, had a successful Greeting Card business in Missouri.  They carried among the other secondary items in their turn of the century stationer's shop, tissue paper at Christmastime for wrapping holiday gifts in Christmas colors of red, green & white.  In 1917 after selling out of their stock of tissue paper early, Rollie Hall, took some decorated sheets of paper for lining envelopes that they had imported from France, and put them out to substitute for the sold out tissue paper.  This paper flew off the shelves and the following year they ordered extra to sell at Christmas time to wrap presents.  This ersatz wrapping paper sold so well, the Hall Bros. developed their own decorated paper and began manufacturing it.  Hallmark gift wrap now is one of the company's largest sellers!

The next big development that helped the wrapping paper industry grow was the invention of sticky cellophane tape.  Until 1930, wrappers had to be a bit more creative to get their paper to stay put, using string, wax seals or later in the 1920's, small sticky foil seals.

The Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah often overlaps with Christmas as well, as it is also celebrated in December too.  In the latter half of the 20th century in North America, it became commonplace for American jewish parents to give presents to their children at Hanukkah, over the course of eight nights(as well as or in place of the traditional gift of 'gelt' or gold coins)much in the way that Santa brings gentile children presents on Christmas Eve.  This new consumer market gave rise to it's own expanding niche of gift wrapping paper and accessories for those who celebrate Hanukkah.  The Hanukkah gift wrapping paper industry is now a multi-million dollar concern as well.

Nowadays, your choices of gift wrap are limited only by the imagination of the industry's designers.  Any color, design, treatment are available.  There are all kinds of ribbons, gift tags, and assorted charms to choose from.  Even the artistically or craft-challenged can look like a pro with the pre-made bows and accessories sold today.

Though you can find deals on paper, bows and other trappings of the season, you can also end up paying quite a bit of money for the wrapping components when it is all added up.
Not only is the cost additional money out of your pocket, but there is an environmental cost that goes with all this consuming of natural resources for a product that is used once, briefly and then torn up and thrown away!
Consider for a moment the amount of garbage generated by this billion dollar industry.  All the trees logged and no longer being able to generate life-giving oxygen.  All those manufacturing plants pumping out non-degradeable plastic components like ribbon & bows, cellophane sheets for wrapping and tape.
All those resources clogging up landfills so we can have a pretty wrapped gift.

I don't think it's a very wise choice.

There are ways to lessen your negative impact on our world and still have your Holiday traditions of wrapping gifts.  Here are some ideas....

1. If you have gift wrap already from past Holidays, use it, but Do Not buy anymore!  Use up what you have.  If you save from year to year your leftovers, you probably have more than enough already to get the job done this year.

2. Many people do not save and throw away each season, gift wrapping and accessories, buying new each year.  Ask your friends and neighbors to let you 'adopt' their orphaned wrapping paper if they trash their leftover supplies after Christmas or Hanukkah.

3. Open your wrapped gifts gently and carefully instead of tearing into them like the Tasmanian Devil!  If you unwrap gifts carefully you will have the paper to reuse and wrap another gift with next year.  Take your iron, set on medium heat, and with the wrong side of the paper up, iron out any wrinkles and reroll onto an old cardboard tube you have saved. The wrapping paper will be good as new and ready to decorate a gift again.

4. Instead of buying pricey wrapping paper, try using 'found' papers around your house.  The Sunday know, the colorful ones?  They make a nice wrapping paper.  I have even tried unused posters to wrap gifts.  I had a stash of 'still in the package', unwanted leftover posters I used once as wrapping paper.

5. Try using brown or white butcher paper.  It will be a more frugal choice and a bit better choice environmentally, since it cuts out the pollution generated by the inking process of the designs on wrapping paper.  A minimalist look of unadorned paper can be quite beautiful too!
Decorate the plain paper with leftover stickers from the kids, or stamps & ink if you are into scrapbooking and have those handy.  Give the kids crayons and let them loose in the plain paper wrapped gifts to artistically decorate them.  Glue found objects of nature or old silk flowers laying around your craft box to the paper.  You are limited only by your own imagination!

While all these ideas are creative and a much better alternative to going out and buying another bag full of commercially printed wrapping paper, even better is this idea.

6. Take a page from the Japanese culture by using a Furoshiki, a traditional wrapping cloth. You can buy them or make your own version.  It's basically a square of cloth and among it's many uses, can be used like wrapping paper to cover a gift.  If you have a length of cloth, you've got the makings of a Furoshiki cloth.  An old tablecloth or skirt that's ready for the trash?  Why not reuse that article and cut a Furoshiki out of it?  If you can sew and hem it, that's great but it's not required.  Use a piece of knit fabric and it won't unravel at the edges even or cut your cloth out using pinking shears for a decorative edge.
Do you know someone who sews?  See if they have any leftover fabric you can have or if they can help you cut or hem the cloths.  Check out thrift stores for fabric or even used tablecloths and napkins.  An old napkin is the perfect size for many gifts and would make an instant Furoshiki cloth!
Check out the fabric stores after the Holidays when the Christmas and Hanukkah prints go on clearance.  Pick up holiday fabrics for making Furoshiki cloths for next year for a greatly reduced price.  This initial outlay of cash after the holidays for the fabric will save you money over the coming years as you won't have to buy wrapping paper every year and it will be better for the planet too.

Since it's not disposable, Furoshikis can be used again and again and over it's lifetime can help you save many natural resources.  While many Asian cultures have a similar tradition, the recent Minister of Environment in Japan has taken upon herself to promote Furoshiki use as an eco-friendly alternative to the manufacture of plastic for bags and the consuming of wood resources as well.  The Furoshiki cloth can be configured many different ways so you can be quite creative in your wrapping.  There is a chart located HERE that shows the various ways to tie up a Furoshiki cloth.

As you can see, there are many alternatives to just plunking down more of your hard-earned cash to buy yet another roll of overpriced gift wrapping paper.  It's not-so-good for your finances and it's definitely not friendly for our environment.
Go green by going frugal this Christmas!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Celebrating Christmas Through the Years & a PLEA to You All!

I think that it is an absolute travesty that what should be one of the most joyous and peaceful times of the year has turned into such a cultural cesspool that people are driven to bankruptcy and even death in order to fulfill some perfect vision of what a Holiday should be in their minds!

There, I said it! Get out the whips and flog me.
The current American version of Christmas sickens me.

Some days I feel like Lucy in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, when she said, "Look. Charlie, let's face it.  We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket.  It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know."

The celebration of Christmas as we know it in America, has only been around for about 150 years.   Christmas was banned in the Plimouth Massachusetts colony-our first colony that was settled for religious reasons.  Nor was it celebrated in the Jamestown Virginia colony, the first colony that was founded by non-religious concerns.

Christmas only became a socially acceptable holiday in America in the mid to late 1800's.  This 'crusade for a truly American Christmas tradition' was driven by writer Washington Irving's stories and the well-known poem by Clement C. Moore, "A Visit From St. Nicholas".
Graphic Artist Thomas Nast gave us the iconic image of Santa Claus in the 1860's(that the Coca-Cola Company basically appropriated).  With the ending  of the Civil War, the celebrating of Christmas as a national holiday took off.

You may think that the "over-the-top decorating and partying, shopping & gift buying frenzied" celebration of today is a recent evolution of the holiday.  You would be wrong.

In Turn-of-the-century(1900's) New York there was a large backlash among reformers to downsize Christmas.  These reformers called for an end to the commercialization of the holiday--the drunken partying, the lawlessness of the adult celebrating, the hawking by companies on consumers to spend on cheaply made knick-knacks.  The problem then wasn't so bad in rural areas(because of the lack of mass transportation and the instantaneous exchange of information/news), more so in the urban centers in America.  Rural areas of the country retained the more low-key, simpler traditions of homemade gifting and celebrating with family.  Gifts were practical & substantial but did NOT put a person's economic stability at risk to give it.

While it's true that especially since World War II, companies have discovered that Christmas is a wonderful 'gimmick' that they can align themselves with to increase profits, companies have used anything they can think of, all through the last 110 years, to get people to spend as much money as possible on their 'stuff' at Christmas.  Some of the successful early users of Christmas to increase sales of their goods were Coca-Cola, Hallmark, and various Department Stores who hired "Santa Clauses" to listen to little children's toy wants.  By using the kids to get the parents into the stores, that was half the battle to get the parents to open their wallets and spend!  Did you know that the 1st professional school to train Dept. Store Santas was created in 1937?

Somewhere in the last 40 years or so, the American version of Celebrating Christmas has become a full-blown Kid-centric Toy Orgy!  Kids of my generation experienced a very different Christmas in terms of what "Santa" brought down the chimney from the children of today.
In my Husband's family, each child received 1 or maybe 2 toys on their wishlist.  And these gifts were modest in price as hubby's parents at the time were on a low socio-economic level.
In my family, there was a set amount to spend for each kid(determined by my father, depending on how good his income was that year), and my mother bought what was requested from the wishlist until the money ran out.  She literally had each child's money allotment in an envelope that she took to the store.  No credit cards were used to buy whatever the hot toy was at the moment, to be paid off later, on income yet to be earned.

While that system may sound like a lot of  'stuff' was bought, I'll say that most years I received 4 or 5 presents from Santa(not counting the clothes which nobody wanted).lol  My parents in no way spent an extravagant amount.  When I was 16 years old, my 'Santa Loot' amounted to 1/4 of 1% of my father's net income.  And let me add that 'things' were not bought for me continuously throughout the year also.  Christmas and your Birthday(which was good for 1 substantial present)were it for the gift giving for children for the year.

While my husband and I keep the Santa toy-buying for our own children to what we feel is an appropriate amount in terms of numbers and costs, we have seen or heard the absolute ORGY of toys our kid's friends' parents or our friend's have given their kids through the years.  It just boggles my mind why people, for example, feel the need to spend upwards of a Thousand Dollars on a 2 year old's Christmas gifts!

And it's not only people overspending on their childrens' gifts.  It's the other family members' gifts, the co-workers gifts, the friends' gifts, the special clothing, the special food, the special decorating items, the parties, the outdoor light displays, the holiday trips, and on and on and on.....

I blame the media and businesses for the prevalent message every Christmas that in order to have the "perfect" holiday you have to BUY something.  If you have THIS sweater, or THIS tree ornament, or THIS french truffle oil, you will have the BEST Christmas!

I also blame the "keeping up with the Joneses Syndrome".  I MUST spend whatever the other guy spends or one-up-him and spend more.  That means I am just as good as he is or makes me superior in some way.

And lastly, I blame grown-ups who act like children and refuse to exert ANY self-control over themselves and their spending.  Hey!  I work hard so I deserve to buy things I can't afford.  It's my RIGHT!  I'm going to spend what I want to have a Great time and not worry about tomorrow.

Here are my thought on spending money at the Holidays.

It's ok to buy, decorations, special food, etc.
Ok, if you pay CASH.

Let me say that again.

I said CASH.

If you have to put an expense on a CREDIT CARD, it means you can NOT afford it and you should NOT BUY IT!
Don't spend money you don't have!!

If you don't have enough Cash, you can't afford it and you need to RETHINK your Financial Life.
The first step to redoing your Financial Life is to STOP SPENDING MONEY.

Have a simple Christmas.
Go back to giving of your TIME and YOURSELF to your loved ones.
You don't need to buy stuff for other people to have a Happy Christmas.

By STOPPING THE SPENDING THAT PUTS YOUR FAMILY into MORE DEBT, you will bless them so much more than giving them any toy, or sweater, or cheese log ever will!


Merry Christmas,

Meal Plan Monday....December 14th Edition....Eating Down the Freezer/Stockpile

Last Week's Menu Postmortem...

Well I don't have one this week because I never got around to doing a Meal Plan.  Ssshhhh....don't turn me in to the Meal Plan Police, ok?
In fact, I looked at past posts and I haven't done a Meal Plan Monday since Nov. 30rd, due to having the flu and just the general craziness around our home lately.
And if you refer to your calendar, today is I'm more than a bit late this week!lol

Here's what I will be serving our family of 4 this Week.....

MONDAY--Kielbasa on rolls(freezer), Brussel Sprouts(freezer)
TUESDAY--Manicotti with Sauce(OAMC in freezer), Tossed Salad
WEDNESDAY--Apricot glazed Pork Chops, Rice(stockpile), Green Beans(freezer)
THURSDAY--Clam Chowder(homemade from scratch/stockpile), Biscuits(stockpile/fridge)
FRIDAY--Asparagus Quiche(stockpile/fridge), Tossed Salad
SATURDAY--homemade Pizza(stockpile/freezer)
SUNDAY--Not sure but probably Bacon wrapped Meatloaf as #1 son returns from college and it's one of his favorites(freezer/stockpile), Carrots(freezer), Mashed Potatoes(root cellar)
SNACKS/DESSERTS--Bread Outlet purchases(donuts/danish/pie), apples, grapes

Last week I spent $39.89 on food/toiletries.  All of that was at Rite-Aid(except for 1 receipt)....seems I've been going there alot lately and nowhere else. Of that amount spent, I'll be getting $18.99 back in Rebates at Rite-Aid, so after rebates I spent $20.90....and $10 of my OOP spending last week was at the Bakery Outlet on breads and snacks.  We've been splurging lately on ALOT of snacks.  It's the holidays ya
I did not set foot in a grocery store last week!  I've been on an "Eating Down the Freezer/Stockpile Mission" this month.  After 2 weeks of limiting food purchases to immediate needs for the week's meals, I am really noticing space opening up in the freezer.  Not so much the stockpile though.
The next 2 weeks will see me getting more and more "creative" with meals as the freezer/stockpile gets lower.  I'm going to attempt to use up more older items that have been hanging around here a bit longer so I can start the new year next month with a fresh 'food slate'.

The only items I need to buy this week for the menu are celery(chowder) and cream(chowder & quiche), as well as the weekly milk purchase.  $10 should cover it.  That leaves me extra cash this week for some more Rite-Aid deals. ;-)

Food Waste Report....some bread that didn't get eaten went moldy.  I wanted to make a bread pudding with it before it turned but being sick, it just didn't get done.  Other than that, we've been successful at giving the dogs most any leftover we can't finish, mixed in their kibble for dinner, so no waste otherwise.

Check out ORGANIZING JUNKIE to see what other Home Cooks are serving this week.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CHEAP CHOCOLATE this Week at Rite-Aid & a Prell Update

Got Holiday Chocolate?
Get chocolate this week for cheap at Rite-Aid.
Here's how.....

Grab a $5 off $20 AdPerks IPQ for watching videos.
Then grab 2 x Buy3/Get1 Free ManuQs for Hershey's Kisses.
Also grab 1 x $1/2 Hershey's Candy Bags ManuQs.

Go to Rite-Aid and buy.....
8 x Hershey's Kisses bags on sale this week for $1.99 ea.=$15.92
2 x Hershey's Candy bags(not Kisses tho)on sale this week for $1.99 ea.=$3.98
1 x Hershey's Single Candy Bar on sale this week for $.50=$.50

Use your Coupons...
$5 off $20 purchase=$5.00
2 x Buy3/Get1 Free $1.99 x2=$3.98
1 x $1/2 Hershey's Bags=$1.00
Coupon Total....$9.98

$20.40-$9.98=$10.42 OOP

Submit for the SCR#44(Buy $20 of Hershey's/M&M's, Get $5 Rebate).
$10.42-$5 rebate=$5.42 OOP.
10 bags of chocolate for $5.42, or just over $.54 a bag!

If you would rather get M&Ms instead of other non-Kisses Hershey chocolate you can buy 2 bags of M&Ms instead of the 2 Non-Kisses bags and use the $1/2 M&M's ManuQ in the RP insert for the same OOP.

As for the Prell 'Poo Hunt.....I checked out a different Rite-Aid this evening and they don't even carry Prell Shampoo.  My usual R-A carries it but they have just 1 slot for it, so not many on the shelf here and it's on the bottom row too.  All they have room for is 5 on the shelf anyway....I should check back and see if they actually ordered any more for this week, with the sale on and all.
I'm going by another RA tomorrow so I'll pop in and see if they carry it.  I remember when I was younger, Prell was a big name in the 'poo biz....they even ran tv ads.  Breck is another 'poo brand you just don't see anymore either.  I guess I am dating myself, huh?

Has anyone been able to find any Prell out there?  Let us know what state you are in if you have.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday at Rite-Aid....Serious Moneymaker!

Not a great week for Rite-Aid freebies but I was able to put together an awesome Moneymaker.

5 x Prell Shampoo on sale $.99=$4.95
1 x Chapstick Fresh Effects=$2.99
1 x Nivea Lip Gloss=$2.99
1 x SpinBrush on sale=$5.99
1 x Revlon Eye Shadow on clearance=$1.74
1 x Revlon Tweezer on clearance=$.61
1 x Revlon Pumice Stone on clearance=$.94

Coupons Used
1 x $5 off $20 RA/AdPerks Q=$5.00
1 x $2/1 SpinBrush ManuQ(sometime in Oct./also 1 in recent insert)=$2.00
1 x $2/1 Revlon color product ManuQ=$2.00
2 x $1/1 Revlon beauty tool ManuQ=$2.00
Coupon Total....$11.00

$20.21-$11.00=$9.21+$.47=$9.68 OOP

Not a very low OOP BUT.....
here are the SCRs I qualified for with this purchase--

1 x Chapstick $2.99(full purchase price rebate)
1 x Nivea Lip product $2.00
1 x SpinBrush or refill $2.00
5 x Prell @$2.00 EACH=$10.00(you can do this rebate up to 5 times!)
SCR Total....$16.99

$9.68OOP-$16.99Rebates=$7.31 Moneymaker

Oh Yeah!!!

Also worth doing this week if you wear make-up is the Cover Girl SCR.  It's on sale for $3.99 this week and paired with the recent $1/1 Cover Girl ManuQ, you pay $2.99 AND can submit for a $2.00 SCR.  The limit on this SCR is 5, so grab a $5 off $20 AdPerks Qs, 5 of the $1/1 Cover Girl Qs and do this....

5 x Cover Girl Make-up @$3.99=$19.95
Add another item with a SCR, like a bottle of Prell(which would make this scenario a MM)or the Chapstick(full purchase price SCR)or a teeny tiny priced filler item.
With the $5/$20 and the CG Qs, the make-up will cost you Zero OOP.

**And be sure to check your Rite-Aid for CLEARANCE in the Make-Up Dept.  I found those Revlon things for 75% OFF!  Plus the $1/1 Revlon Tool and $2/1 Revlon Color Product made them BETTER than free!  The Qs did NOT adjust down and the cashier didn't bat an eye about that.lolol
That kind of makes up for the fact that we didn't get any Cover Girl Qs in our region's inserts, so I can't do the Cover Girl Deal at Rite-Aid but I can still get free make-up anyway.lolol


Friday, December 11, 2009

Hurry and do This Deal at Rite-Aid before Saturday Night!

Ok folks, go grab your P&G insert from 11/29...harvest 3 of the 4 Old Spice Qs--the B3Deodorants/G1Body Spray, the B3Deos/G1Cologne, and the $1/2 Old Spice Deos.
Grab a $5 off $20 Purchase Ad Perks/Rite-Aid Q too.

Get up to Rite-Aid before they close Saturday night.

3 x Old Spice Deodorants on sale $2=$6.00
1 x Old Spice Body Spray=$4.99
1 x Old Spice Cologne=$6.99

Buy a couple more things to get to $20.....I bought 6 Candy Bars that are on sale $.50ea. this week.
My SubTotal was $20.98.

Coupons Used
1 x $5/$20 RA AdPerks IPQ=$5.00
1 x Old Spice B3Deos/Get1Body Spray ManuQ=$4.99
1 x Old Spice B3Deos/Get1Cologne ManuQ=$6.99
1 x $1/2 Old Spice Deos=$1.00
3 x B1G1 Mars Candy Bar ManuQ=$1.50 (From the 11/15 RedPlum insert)
Coupon Total....$19.48

$20.98-$19.48=$1.50+$.78tax=$2.28 OOP

And then submit your receipt for the $1 SCR WYB 2 Old Spice Deodorants.
That makes this transaction $1.28 OOP after Rebate.

You get $27.73 worth of items for $1.28 OOP.

If you have an Old Spice friendly person to get a gift for this Christmas, just wrap these all up in a basket or tin and you've got a great present for $1.28!

If you don't have the candy bar Qs, how about printing a $3/1 M5 Magnum Razor Q on and pairing it with the Rite-Ad In Ad Q for $2 off the razor?  The $5.99 purchase price with the Old Spice items brings your before Q total over $20 and after these 2 Qs & the Old Spice and $5 off $20 Q, your total OOP would be $.99+tax and after submitting for the rebate on the Deos, you are just OOP the tax, minus 1 penny!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Decorating or Lack Thereof....

Since our tree still sits nekkid and unadorned I thought I'd share a picture of the Christmas tree from 2008.
I don't even have a good photo of the WHOLE TREE, just this bottom/presents shot. sigh  I am sooo bad about taking photos at holidays....
Yes, we are those kind of people who put up a fake tree.  And not only that but it's not even green!
Well, we do have another fake tree that is smaller and green.  It's the older tree we keep as a spare or if some day we get the spirit, we may put up TWO trees.....but don't hold your breath.  This white one I picked up a few years ago for 90% off or something ridiculous like that from KMart in January.
Me pay retail for a tree??
Not on your life!
I'm sure I still have the receipt filed away and could go check on the exact amount spent....but that would involve motivation, and that is something I am pretty low on at the moment.

We have done everything from a live small Norfolk Pine, to a dig-your-own-and-replant-it-in-the-yard-Tree, chop down your own at a tree farm, a cut tree from the corner lot to assorted fake trees.
I love the smell of a fresh cut tree.  But I don't love the cost nowadays, not having a good way to recycle or dispose of it around here or being a 'live tree killer'.  I know trees are grown/harvested and renewable but it sure takes a lot of years to grow a nice one.  A fake tree works fine for us plus there is no mess to clean up from dropped needles and it helps keep the 3 dogs from having ideas about messing with it or 'watering' it...if you know what I mean. ;-)

The kids don't seem to be 'into' decorating the tree anymore so it's hard for me to get enthused enough to do it myself this year.  Hubby is not allowed to decorate the tree, unless he has 'supervision'.  Needless to say, he is not the artistic one in the

As for other 'decorating' in the house......there usually isn't much.
Besides the tree, some garland on the stair banister and a festive tablecloth, candles and holiday dishes on the dining room table is about the extent of the decorating inside.
Oh, and I put the Christmas tablecloth on the kitchen table too, as you can see in any of my shopping trip photos recently.

I did have a burst of holiday spirit for Thanksgiving however and did this to the sofa table....notice that the sofa table is NOT behind a sofa, but at the bottom of the stairs in the living room...

I had a piece of fall themed knit fabric I draped over the table.  Then I put some candy corn Kisses in the Candy Jar, a candle in the candle holder and drug out a copper dish with holiday decorations with a fall candle and plopped it down on the table.  (The old photo of the kids from 1996!lol, was there already but the Fitz & Floyd Musical Santa was just put out this week for Christmas.)

So are you a Holiday Decorating Fiend in your home or not?
Tell us about your great tips for making your house shine at the Holidays.


Stuff....Yes, Assorted Stuff

Remember when I said I didn't remember going to the local mom & pop grocery store this past weekend because I was overcome with a flu fog?
Well I just found the proof of the trip--the receipt!  So hubby hasn't been pulling my leg about this after
For someone who doesn't even remember going, I sure bought quite a few things!  My receipt is 2 feet long. 8-)
I don't have a photo but here is what I bought....

4 x Betty Crocker Potato Pouches on sale for $.80=$3.20
I used 4 $.35/1 Qs that doubled to $.70, paying $.10 for each=$.40

4 x Herr's Potato Chips(something I don't buy much but they were 1/2 off) $1.14 a bag=$4.56
No Qs but 50% off.

6 x Snow's Clams reg. $1.69 on sale 50% off! at $.84=$5.04
I used 3 $1/2 Qs, paying $.34 for each=$2.04

4 x Progresso Mushroom Soup.  All that Progresso Soup I got free from Acme last month and not one can of Mushroom, my favorite! Humph.  Reg. price $2.19, tt was on sale 50% off at $1.09=$4.36
I used 1 $1/4 Q, paying $.84 each=$3.36

4 x Dr. Oetker's Pizza on sale for $2.99 each=$11.96
I used 4 $2/1 Qs, paying $.99 each=$3.97

2 x Trop50 OJ on sale for $2.50 each=$5.00
I used 1 $1/2 Q, paying $2.00 each=$4.00

Hubby bought a hunk of liverwurst at the Deli for hiding the dog's pills in=$3.77  He should have bought a smaller hunk but I wasn't there to

1 x Milk 1/2 gal. for $1.68(no Qs)rounds out the order.

Total Value...$66.41
Total after Sales...$39.57
Total after Coupons...$23.77
Total after Cashier rang up 1 $.70Q twice...$23.07 OOP

Not bad for the flu, huh?lol

Has anyone tried those Dr. Oetker's Pizzas yet?  We prepared a few this past weekend.  I must say they are quite small and the crust is thin, so if you like thin crust, you'll like these.  I love mushrooms but the box is offputting on the mushroom pizza variety.  It's a german company and they refer to mushrooms as FUNGHI on the box.  Yah, not very appetizing to an American consumer when you call it that.  I added carmelized onions and roasted red peppers to my 'funghi' pizza and it was edible then.

So I was still not quite back to 'full strength' on Tuesday but the family was wasting away from not having a 'proper' dinner since last week.  Though hubby does try his darnedest to fill in, in the meal making category when I'm not up to it, and I love that about him, everyone was pretty tired of eating food out of boxes, if you know what I mean.

So in the fine old tradition of 'throwing stuff together that is laying around the kitchen/freezer/pantry', I got out some frozen chicken breasts, took the 'almost too late to save them' fresh, I mean mushrooms out of the produce drawer and threw them in the crockpot.  I then found a bottle of this in the pantry that was about to go past the sell by date....

....A bottle of Kraft Honey Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing.  I poured 1/2 the bottle over the chicken and turned the crockpot up to Hi.
About an hour before I planned to serve the chicken, I poured a box of Uncle Ben's Wild Rice Mix in along with the included seasoning packet, then turned the pot down to Low.
As #2 son doesn't care for mushrooms and there wasn't enough rice in 1 box to satisfy the whole family's hunger, I cooked up a Knorr's Rice Sides bag as well.  I cooked up some fresh frozen Cauliflower I got from the Flea Market farm vendor in October and we had a very yummy meal.

I just wanted to alert ya'll that this Honey Dijon Dressing is great as a Marinade/Sauce for chicken.  I prefer it used in this was, rather than as a Salad Dressing actually.  Not bad for something that cost 8 CENTS after coupon!

Since I didn't get around to a Meal Plan Monday menu for the week, I've been playing catch up all week...usually standing in the kitchen around noon each day and trying to pull a plan together for that evening.  I am here to tell you that planning a a wee bit further ahead is much less stressful!lol

Wednesday night was fried fish, hush puppies, kraft mac&cheez dinner and corn. 
Thursday will be Taco Night and Friday night will be Turkey Sloppy Joes on Rolls and Coleslaw.
The only thing I need to buy is some cabbage for the coleslaw and some more milk as I haven't been to the grocery store since last Saturday.
The weekend meal plan?
I'll start fresh on next Monday. ;-)

I spent a total of $45.27 at Walmart(mostly on 2lbs. of a deli cheese we love that nobody else carries), Weis and the local mom&pop Grocery Store last week.
This week so far I've spent $11.26 at Target and Rite-Aid, and of that, I'll be getting $10.58 in SCRs back, so I've spent $.68 total for this week.

I think I'm all caught up now...


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Rare Trip to Target and The Shelves Weren't Cleared Yet!

So I don't go to Target much.
Let's just say it's because of bad past experiences and we only have 1 Target here so unless you get there on Sunday-the day the sales start-you will only find empty shelves where the good buys USE TO BE!

So I don't go much....except I had to be nearby this evening to pick up Hubby's car from the repair shop.

I decided to stop in and see if there was anything left that is on sale this week.
I did two transactions but I put all of it in one photo.
I always have a $5 Gift Card to use from a previous Free Target Gift Card Deal.

Transaction #1
5 x Keebler Crackers/Cheez-its on sale $2=$10.00
2 x Method Dish Soap $2.99=$5.98
2 x Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa on sale $.97=$1.94

Coupons Used
1 x $.75/1 Cheez-Its IPQ=$.75
2 x $1/2 Keebler Crackers (1 IPQ/1 ManuQ)=$2.00
2 x $2/1 Method Product IPQ=$4.00
2 x $1/1 Swiss Miss Target IPQ=$1.94 *adjusted down*
Coupon Total....$8.69

1 x $5 Gift Card Used  $8.69+$5.00=$13.69

$17.92-$13.69=$4.23+$.12 tax=$4.35 OOP
Received a $5 Target Gift Card for the Keebler Crackers/Cheez-Its
**2 of the Crackers had the $10 Toy Money Tokens-3 more Token boxes and I can send for a $10 Toy Certificate.

Transaction #2
5 x Keebler Cookies(various Fudge Shoppe)on sale $2.00=$10.00

Coupons Used
2 x $1.50/2 Keebler Cookies IPQ=$3.00
Coupons Total....$3.00

1 x $5 Gift Card Used  $3.00+$5.00=$8.00

$10-$8=$2.00 OOP
Received a $5 Target Gift Card for buying 5 Keebler Cookies

Total OOP....$6.35
Total Value of Items...$35.57
Savings of....82.15%


More Rite-Aid This Week....Tuesday's Trip

Finally feeling like the sick fog has lifted....well, partially lifted, I ventured back to Rite-Aid on Tuesday.

2 x GE Reveal LightBulbs on sale $2.50=$5.00
2 x Scotch Pop-Up Tape on sale $2.14=$4.28
2 x AirWick I Motion Sprayer thingy on sale 50% off($4.99)=$9.98
1 x M5 Magnum Razor on sale=$5.99

Coupons Used
1 x $5 off $25 Rite-Aid Purchase IPQ=$5.00
2 x $1/1 GE Reveal LightBulbs ManuQ= $2.00
2 x $1/1 Scotch Pop-Up Tape IPQ(see my last RA post for the link)= $2.00
2 x $5/1 AirWick I Motion Sprayer ManuQ=$10.00
1 x $3/1 M5 Magnum Razor IPQ=$3.00(
1 x $2/1 M5 Magnum Razor/Refills Store Flyer Q=$2.00
Coupon Total....$24.00

$25.23-$24.00=$1.23+$.28 tax=$1.51 OOP

I qualified for $5.29 in SCRebates($3.29 Scotch Tape/$2.00 LightBulbs)under BIL's account.

After rebates, this trip's total was $3.78 in Overage!

I so love to get paid to bring things home, don't you? ;-))

I'm working on 2 more scenarios, 1 involves cereal, coffee and air freshener for $5.55 OOP and the other is a bunch of Old Spice and Mitchum Deo for $1.50+tax, or $.50 Overage after rebate.

Stay tuned.....


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The 4 letter word for today is.....

Here's what happened this past weekend while I was in my flu-induced coma....

Our first measurable snowfall of the season.
Oh goody.....
Can I go back to bed and wake up in April?lol


Free Food....What?....Did she just say FREE FOOD?!?

Have you tried Stacy's Pita Chips yet?
Go become their Facebook Fan HERE and you will then be able to sign up to get a Coupon for a FREE BAG!
CVS carries these and they run about $3 a bag On Sale!
I've never had the Pita Chips but I can vouch for the Bagel Chips.....absolutely wonderful!
And to die for with Hummus!

So go sign up for FREE FOOD.
What are you waiting for?....go NOW! 


Trip #1 to Rite-Aid this Week....Coming Out of my Flu Fog

Since I had to drive down the mountain to pick up Hubby after he dropped his car off to have the heater blower replaced(kind of need heat in the car these days, ya know?), I stopped at Rite-Aid.
Actually, this was my SECOND time in Rite-Aid on Monday.  Remember my previous 'flu post'?  I forgot to mention that while out yesterday to take the change to the Coinstar machine I also stopped at Rite-Aid to do a transaction.  Some where, in my flu filled brain, I 'thought' I had seen online that Rite-Aid had the GE LED xmas lights for 2/$10 this week, so I had built a scenario around using my $3/1 GE LED light Qs to get me some, since our lights are dead.
So, I walk into Rite-Aid and not only are there NO GE LED xmas lights on sale, they don't even carry GE Lights!LOLOL
So I left emptyhanded, as I hadn't brought 'spare/back-up scenario' Qs with me to get to a $25 order.
So add that little gem to my already weirdo 3 days and you can write me off as a full blown lunatic!

Anyway, back to last evening's trip to Rite-Aid.  I was able to pull myself together enough to actually purchase something and without screwing things up!  Ya'll might want to try this scenario too....
Oh! and notice I have Finally changed the tablecloth on the kitchen table to something Christmasy.  That's about the extent of my Holiday Decorating so far......bleh......

2 x Reveal GE Lightbulbs(yes, I DID find a GE product in Rite-Aid!lol) on sale 2/$5=$5.00
2 x Scotch pop-up Tape on sale $2.14=$4.28
1 x AirWick Mini Dispenser 50% off sale=$4.99
4 x Halls Refresh Drops on sale $1.50=$6.00
1 x RA M5 Magnum Razor Refills on sale $5.99

Coupons Used
1 x $5/$25 RiteAid IPQ=$5.00

2 x $1/1 Reveal GE Lightbulbs ManuQ=$2.00
2 x $1/1 Scotch pop-up Tape IPQ HERE=$2.00**(Thank You Coupons Deals & More)
1 x $5/1 AirWick Mini Dispenser ManuQ=$5.00***
2 x BOGO Halls Refresh Drops $1.50=$3.00
2 x $.50/1 Halls Refresh Drops TearpadQ=$1.00
(You could also use 1 x the $1/2 Halls ManuQ instead)
1 x $2/1 RA M5 Magnum Razor/Refills Store Flyer AdQ=$2.00
1 x $3/1 RA M5 Magnum Razor IPQ(currently on$3.00****
Coupon Total.....$23.00

$26.26-$23.00=$3.26+$.26tax=$3.52 OOP

Qualified for SCRebates of....
$2.00 GE Lightbulks(wyb 2)
$3.29 Scotch Pop-Up Tape(wyb 2)

$3.52-$5.29=$1.67 OVERAGE

** When you go to print the Scotch PDF Qs, set your printer to print page one ONLY, unless of course you want all 5 Qs offered.  The Pop-up Tape Q is on page 1 of the 2 pages of Qs.
*** Even though the AirWick Q was for 1 penny more than the price of the product on sale, the Q did NOT beep.  Put this Q in the middle of your Qs and the cashier probably won't notice the Q is 1¢ over....I say this in case your store is anal about adjusting Qs down.  Rite-Aid has a policy of adjusting Qs down but sometimes you run across the new cashier or the uninformed hardass cashier.  I'm just saying.....
*** The $3/1 IPQ for the M5 Magnum Razor does not say it's also for the Refills.  My store takes it anyway for the refills because they love, I mean they don't care.  But this Q is a YMMV if you try to use it on refills.  If there is a hassle, just buy the M5 razor instead.

Did anybody go to Rite-Aid this week yet?  What did you get that was good?


Monday, December 7, 2009

Nothing to See Here.....Just Keep Moving....

IF ONLY I looked this good the last few days!!
Let's just pretend that this woman with the flu in the photo is me, okay?
I don't think I look this good on my BEST day, so you can imagine the sight I am at present.

I'll be heading back to my sickbed shortly.  I just got back from a hike up to the PO to mail some eBay stuff that had to go out today as promised.  I just hope to gosh that I sent the barbie to New York & the clown blanket to Great Britain and not vice a versa.
Days like this I wish I had a stunt double who could wash clothes, mail & ship packages, cook dinner, babysit 3 dogs, clean the kitchen, meal plan, vacuum the living room, write out xmas cards so I could just stay asleep and hopefully get over this thing.

The weekend is a blur.  Most of it was spent inspecting the insides of my eyelids or coughing up a lung.  I made hubby take me to Rite-Aid on Saturday so I could finish buying batteries for the Duracell $5 SCR.  I think we also went to the grocery store too.....if I can find a receipt I'll know that happened for sure and isn't just a
We also got a drawn out snowstorm for a day & a half...again, this is just what the kids have told me since I didn't go out except for the quickie to Rite-Aid.
I believe hubby also drug down the Christmas tree this weekend.  I think I saw a big tree-like object as I passed the living room a little while ago.

When I woke up this morning, I was a little more coherent so there is hope I'll recover.
Coherent enough to realize that not only did I forget in my sickly fog to go spend $13 in expiring Cats at Price Chopper by Sat. night, but I also forgot to take my change to the Coinstar machine to get the $10 Bonus thingy by Sunday night!
I realized I had missed the Coinstar deadline today, as I drove into the Weis parking lot to park my car and tote this massive bag of change to the machine.  I looked at my check register and saw that today was the 7th, not the 6th.
I also emailed the guy in Norway this morning, that I sent his package out on friday Dec. 5th.  I've probably caused him to burst into a full blown panic since he's convinced I am a Looney Tunes by now.

And I am barely coherent in this post, even to myself.
Meal Plan Monday?
Ha! cough cough.....
Maybe I'll get to it by Thursday.....but I ain't betting my Theraflu stash on it!