Friday, March 18, 2011

Thrifty Thursdays!

This week's shopping trips were to Kroger and Walgreens!

Kroger has another mega sale going on this week.  There were a few great prices on things like FREE pasta, FREE Motrin, and really cheap yogurt!  I stocked up on yogurt for the kids (it can be frozen!) and also found some batteries on clearance which ended up being super cheap after coupons I had! 

Total value of 49 items: $125.76
Total amount spent out of pocket after sales and coupons: $42.22
Total amount saved: $83.54 or 67%

I have to tell you about one thing that happened while I was at the store.....I bought 4 bottles of Motrin PM (20ct) at $2.99 each and had a manufacturer's coupon for $6 off any 2 bottles.  When the cashier scanned the coupon, it beeped because the total amount of the coupon was $.02 more than the actual sale price of the Motrin.  (This happens to me a lot at Kroger.)  I wasn't worried about it until the cashier began to tell me that I couldn't use the coupon because the picture of the bottle of Motrin on the coupon showed a 40 ct. bottle instead of a 20 ct. bottle!  Well, of course, I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise at this point.  I knew that it made no difference what picture was on the coupon, but that it was the actual wording on the coupon that mattered.  This particular coupon only stated that it excluded trial sizes.  I knew it was a perfectly valid coupon.  I tried to nicely explain to the cashier that she was going to have to override it because the amount of the coupon was more than the amount of the item, but she still wouldn't do it.  She went and asked one manager who didn't even look at the product or the coupon and told her that she couldn't take the coupon.  I stood my ground however (this was $12 we were talking about!) and told her nicely again why it was beeping and that I knew the coupon was perfectly valid.  She finally called over another store manager who looked at the coupon and told her it was fine and to put it through.  The moral of this story it....you have to choose your battles.  If that had been a 30 cent coupon and there was a line behind me, I most likely would have said, it's fine and just cut my losses.  However, in this case, I stood to loose $12 and I decided to stand up for what I knew was right.  I tried to stay calm and be polite while stating my case and, in the end, it paid off!  Don't be afraid to ask for a manager when your cashier doesn't want to take a coupon that you know is valid!!

Okay...off my soapbox and onto my next store...Walgreens.  The only thing I got at Walgreens was 4 Right Guard deodorants.  These were on a buy one get one free sale at $3.99 and I had two buy one get one free coupons which took off $3.99 each (the original price of the deodorant).  This made all 4 bottles FREE leaving me to just pay tax!  Yay!!

Did you get any great deals this week?  I'd love to hear about them!

February Totals

For those of you who are new to my blog, you may or may not know that our family's monthly grocery budget (for a family of 4) is $300 a month - which includes all food, personal care items, paper products, cleaning supplies...even diapers!  I thought I would give you my total numbers for the month of February so you could see how well I stick to that number.

Total value of all items bought:  $660.29
Total amount of money spent out of pocket after sales and coupons: $256.18
Total savings: $402.77 or 61%

I did pretty well in February, staying under budget by more than $40.  This is not to say that I am ALWAYS under budget.  There are months when I do go over a little.  (Rarely more than $50.)  But, because of months like this where I am able to save quite a bit, it all pretty much evens out by the end of the year.

When we get to the end of March, I hope to break my totals down by store so that you can see how much money I end up saving at each of the 4 main stores I shop at.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Birthday Party on a Budget - Part 2!

Last week I posted about how I am trying to plan a frugal Mickey-Mouse themed 2nd birthday party for my daughter.  I've already talked about how I managed to create cute, personalized invitations for around $3!  Today, I'm going to talk about decorations.

Now, I admit, I am trying to spend as little money as possible on this party.  Not because I don't love my daughter, but because money is tight and she really will not know the difference between an expensive party and one put together on a budget!  That said, most everything I have purchased for the party so far has come from the Dollar Store! 

First of all, I bought red and yellow plastic tableclothes to put on the tables - inexpensive, so you don't mind throwing them in the trash when you're done!!!  :)  I also bought matching red and yellow paper plates and black plates for the kids which I turned into Mickey Mouse heads using black poster board that I also got at the Dollar Store for $0.50 each.  (Will someone PLEASE tell me how to turn the pictures the right way?!?!?  Ugh!)



While at the Dollar Store, I also found large Mickey & Minnie Mouse posters that I bought to hang around the room for $1 each.  My daughter will love having these after the party is over!

One thing that I like to do starting after Valentines Day is look for clearance items that can be used at birthday parties!  Since I have one child's birthday in March and another in May, I can usually find great items after Valentine's Day and Easter that can be used as decorations and/or party favors!  One thing I found at Kroger after Valentine's Day was red, round confetti that I am going to sprinkle on the tables for $0.33 a bag!  (I also found 12 count bags of cinderella stampers for less than $1 a piece to save for my older daughters birthday treat bags!) 

Also on the tables, I am going to be placing pictures of my daughter that I took of her holding her favorite Mickey Mouse doll when I was trying to make the party invitation.  I had to take LOTS of pictures to get just the right one, and I thought it might be cute to use all of the other pictures that didn't make the final cut (most of them are hysterical) to decorate with.  I'm going to have them printed and then glue them onto red and yellow construction paper and place them on photo stands that I got at the Dollar Store last year.  Here's an example of what the stand looks like using her invitation...(I'll update with actual pictures when I get them!)



I am also going to be purchasing plain red and yellow balloons from a local party supply store that I can hang up around the room.

While these decorations aren't much, they are enough to show the theme of the party and will make my daughter happy!  :)  Best of all, they didn't cost much money!  Total for everything mentioned here minus the balloons = about $15!

Look for my next post on what inexpensive party activities and treat bags I have planned!

Thrifty Thursdays!

I know, I know...it's Friday, not Thursday....AGAIN!  :)  By the time I get home from shopping on Thursday, fix dinner, and get kids in the bed, I just can't seem to make it to the computer.  (The only reason I'm writing this now is because my wonderful mother is watching my kids while they nap!  Gotta love Grammy!!!)

Anyway, yesterday was a pretty good shopping trip for me!  I went to Walmart, Walgreens, and Kroger.

Now, I know what you're thinking.....WALMART?!  But, I had to go there to get a specific item, so while I was there I picked up a few cheap and/or free things!!  I got FREE dental floss and tomoto paste and boxes of Gain fabric softener sheets for $0.12 each!  Except for the fact that they were out of the cat food and Dial lotion that I wanted, I was pretty happy with that trip!



Total value of 10 items = $20.43
Total spent after coupons = $0.43!  (98% savings!)

Now, on to Walgreens.  I wasn't exactly sure how my trip was going to go there.  I never know what they are still going to have in stock by the time I get there on Thursdays, so I usually write out my "dream transactions" and then have to readjust them once I'm in the store!  My main goal was to get some inexpensive coffee and peanut butter, and I managed to do just that!  I used overage on the Pedia Care along with 2 $1 coupons and a $1 RR to go towards the coffee (protein bars were free after coupons and Easter bag was a filler item - $0.27) and then used the $1 RR I got back from the coffee to go towards the peanut butter!

Total value = $28.83
Total spent oop after sales and coupons = $2.56
Total savings = $26.27 (91%!)

Last, but not least, I went to Kroger.  Now, I didn't have much of a trip planned for Kroger.  In fact, most of the items on my list did not involve coupons at all.  However, as I was loading digital coupons to my Kroger card from their website (I do this every week when I make my shopping list), I noticed some high value coupons for personal care and cleaning items that I knew I had paper coupons for also, so I decided to check them out while I was there.  I've listed all the deals I found below.  I don't know which inserts the paper coupons were from b/c they had already been cut out and were in my binder.  But, if you have them and can head to Kroger today or tomorrow, you can get hopefully get some of these deals too!  Here's what I ended up finding....

Gilette Fusion razor  $6.99 (I can't remember the exact price but it was NOT more than $7)
-used $4 paper coupon with $3 digital coupon to get it FREE!

Shick Hydro razor  $5.99
-used $2 paper coupon with $4 digital coupon to get it FREE!

Tide Stain Release 18ct. packs or 30ish oz liquid  $5.99
-used $3 paper coupon with $3 digital coupon to get it FREE!

Pampers Baby Wipes tub  $2.61
-used $0.50 paper coupon (doubled) with $1 digital coupon to get it for $0.61!

Olay Regenerist Cleanser  $5.26
-used $3 paper coupon with $2 digital coupon to get it for $0.26!
*PLUS*
-used paper coupon good for a "FREE lotion, body wash, or bar soap when you buy ay Olay cleanser or moisturizer" to get a FREE in-shower body lotion!

Oral B Stages toothbrush  $1.29 (found in clearance section)
-used $0.50 paper coupon (doubled) with $0.50 digital coupon to get it FREE plus overage!

Tampax Pearl tampons 18 ct  $4.39
-used $2 paper coupon with $2 digital coupon to get it for $0.39!  (you could get the scented 18 count boxes for FREE instead!)

As you can see, I ended up scoring some pretty great deals!!!  Now, on to my totals....

Total value of 43 items = $126.77
Total spent out of pocket after sales and coupons = $56.49
Total amount saved = $70.28 (or 56%!)

Not bad for a trip planned using only 3 coupons!  :)


Totals for the whole day...

Total number of items purchased = 61
Total value of all items = $176.25
Total spent out of pocket after sales & coupons = $59.48
Total savings = $116.77 or 66%

Friday, March 4, 2011

Birthday Party on a Budget - Part 1!

Coming up on St. Patrick's Day, my youngest daughter will be turning 2!!!  At this age, she doesn't know the difference between an expensive birthday party and one put together on a budget, so I figured I'd better save a little money while I still could!  Over the next few weeks, I will be putting up several posts on how I am trying to pull together a FRUGAL second birthday party!

My daughter is a serious Mickey Mouse fanatic right now, so we decided that would be our theme.  The first thing I needed to do was create some invitations.  In the past, we have done everything for invitations from professional photographers to fill-in-the-blank style cards that came from the Dollar Tree Store!  This year, I wanted to do something cute that stayed with the theme of the party while not going overboard on price.

I decided to take a picture of my daughter holding her favorite Mickey Mouse doll with my digital camera.  I printed it out on regular paper and cut around the shape of her body.  Next, I cut out a solid black Mickey Mouse head out of construction paper.  Then, I typed out the details of the party and printed them on plain white paper and I tore off the paper around the wording to give it a "jagged" edge.  Lastly, I punched yellow triangles out of construction paper using a scrapbooking punch that I had around the house.  I took all of these things and arranged them on top of a piece of solid red construction paper.  Then, I used my digital camera to take a picture of the "collage" I had made.  I uploaded the photo onto the computer, sent it in to Walgreens and put a black border around it before ordering them.  Here's the invite before the border...



After a coupon code that made the 4x6 photos 12 cents each, (and because I used materials I already had at the house) I ended up paying $3.24 for 25 photo invitations!  (Actually, I used Register Rewards to pay for them!!)  :)  It was really easy - well, except for the part where I had to get a sick two year old to stand still, hold a Mickey Mouse doll the right way, and smile at me all at the same time - and made for a really cute, personalized invitation!  Now all that's left to do is put them in the mail!

Come back soon for more posts on decorations, games, and party favors!!

Thrifty Thursdays - Another Friday Edition!

Have you all noticed yet that it's almost impossible for me to keep this blog updated regularly!  :)  I'm sure it has nothing to do with my two kids.....

ANYWAY, here are the totals from my shopping trip yesterday.  I made it to Walgreens and Kroger.  It had been a while since I shopped at Walgreens, and - of course - they were out of pretty much everything I wanted, but I did find the Aquaphor lip balm and used the RR's I got back to buy my daughter's birthday party invitations and two packages of Always pads that I were $.69 after clearance prices and $1 coupons.  (By the way - be on the lookout for upcoming posts on how I am trying to make my almost 2-year old's birthday party as frugal as possible!)

Total value of 4 items at Walgreens: $23.04
Total Spent OOP: $4.69
RR's Remaining: $1

My Kroger trip was decent enough.  I found Balance Bars on clearance for $.50 each and had $1/3 coupons that made them $.16 each.  I also got 8 FREE bags of cat treats for my brother!  But, the best deal I got was a FREE Gilette Proglide razor - on sale for $6.99 and I used the $4 mc from the recent P&G and a $3 kroger digital coupon!

Total Value of 42 items: $129.20
Total Spent OOP: $58.89
Total Savings: $70.31 (55%!)

On a side note, when I went to CVS earlier in the week, I didn't realize that the Kids Oral-B battery powered toothbrushes were part of the ECB deal.  However, my mom told me today that she saw that they were.  Sooooo, I took one of mine back and exchanged it for a Cinderella toothbrush for my 4 year old to put in her Easter basket!  She will be thrilled and it didn't cost me a dime!  I'm going to be on the lookout now for good Easter basket fillers.  If you come across any, let me know!

Simple Recipes from Kroger Sale Items!

These quick and easy new recipes focus around the Pillbury refrigerated bread dough that is on sale at Kroger this week for $1.25 a piece.  Use the $.40/2 coupon from the 1/23 SS or the 1/2 GM inserts to get them for $.85 each!  (The bread dough doesn't go on sale very often, so this is a great price!)

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:
1 Pillbury refrigerated pizza crust ($.85 using coupon above)
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
2-9oz packaged southwest flavored chicken breast strips (or just use plain, cut up chicken breast that you have on hand)
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (Kroger brand on sale for $1.66 this week)
2 Tbsp Cilantro

Directions:
Roll out pizza dough onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes.  Spread with barbeque sauce.  Top with chicken and cheese.  Bake an additional 6 to 10 minutes or until crust is a deep golden brown.

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Strombolli

Ingredients:
1 Pillsbury refrigerated french loaf ($.85 with coupon above)
1 egg
Parmesean cheese (finely grated) - I just eyeball the amount - at least 1/4 cup
2 packages Mozzarella cheese slices (Kroger brand $1.66 each)
Pepperoni (Hormel $1 - $1/2 (SS 1/23) = $.50 each
1 tbsp butter, melted

Directions:
Unroll french loaf onto baking pan.  Mix together egg, melted butter, and parmesean cheese and spread onto bread dough (I use a pastry brush to spread it out).  Lay one package of mozarella slices down on dough, covering most of the surface.  Cover with pepperoni.  Lay second package of mozzarella slices on top of pepperoni.  Roll dough up into a log shape and lay on pan, seam side down.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CVS Trip 2-28

I made it to CVS a little early this week!  I was excited about all of the free items this week!  Here's what I got...


Okay, well, apparently you have to look at it sideways!  Sorry!

Total Value of 5 items:  $36.56
ECB's Used:  $16.99
Total spent out of pocket:  $1.49
ECB received:  $19.28

I'm going back tomorrow to get another tube of toothpaste because I didn't realize at the time that it had a limit of 2!