Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tightwad Tuesday: "One Man's Trash" (alternately titled: Oh no she didn't!)

I don't clip coupons.
Let me rephrase that. I didn't clip coupons.
Ok, well, I USED to clip coupons, and then I had a colicy infant, and couponing just didn't hit a high enough priority rating for me to actually take the time to do it.

Also, I save a TON by admatching around town at my local bottom-of-the-barrel grocer. It seems to me that the majority of people who use coupons actually end up spending more than they naturally would, and so I stayed away from them all together. We've maintained the mentality that it's better on our wallet to "do without" something than it is to buy it at a discount. Obviously, something purchased at a discount is more expensive than not buying it in the first place.

So, in December of 2009 I canceled our newspaper subscription. My wonderful neighbor agreed to let me have the grocery circulor's from her paper which made it a pretty good set-up. After all, it had been months by then since I'd even clipped a coupon from our Sunday paper and, although it cost us only $52/year, I wasn't making that back in coupons alone.


I have two friends in particular that are incredible couponers. I am exhausted when I think of all the work they do rounding up deals. They are both careful to match up ads, with coupons, and only to buy what they ordinarily would - often forgoeing even the greatest of deals if it would mean a dollar wasted on something that isn't necessary to buy. I have a lot to learn from these two - but one tidbit I learned this past week was put into practice immediately.

I can't believe I'm about to admit this...

On monday after playgroup I made a stop on the way home. Not at a store, not for lunch. No, I stopped at my local recycling center. Not to deliver my recyclables, no. Wait for it... To dumpster dive for coupons. No joke.

And it was easier than I ever imagined possible. There were three bins for newspapers, each stuffed to the brim with nothing but clean (some untouched) papers. With ease I rifled through them to find the prized Sunday papers and their coupons therein. Ten short minutes (and a few awkward glances from passers by) later I was back in my car, with a content snack-clutching toddler, and a large stack of Sunday coupon inserts. Multiples of the same one even.

It wasn't until I arrived home that I realized the bounty of my find. Although there was a mass of coupons I'll never use (for items I couldn't imagine leaving a store with unless they were down right FREE), my 10 minutes of diving time yielded me coupons for multiple commodities that we regularly purchase - items I consistently wait on sales for to purchase in bulk. Coffee, mayo, creamer, cheese, sugar, toothpaste... and the list goes on.

Now, here's the tricky part. They all have expiration dates. Duh. And because I'm NOT ABOUT to use a coupon on an item whose generic alternative I could purchase for less, I must wait until a deal comes around. That's where a few of my favorite blogs come in handy - these blog writers are excellent at scouting out combinations which lead to nearly free products. It boggles my mind. Really.

So if you ever see my red Forester parked out by the recycling center - give me a kind glance and not one that reeks of "Oh no she isn't!". I'll be sure to shoot you the same glance in return when you join me in the bounty of One Man's Trash.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Biting off...

...more than I can chew?

That, we shall see. This week/weekend I have the pleasure of taking care of Levi's best friend (or partner in crime, however you want to look at it). Now, I watch this little dude during the day all the time. His mommy does the same for Levi. We trade date nights weekly. These two boys know eachothers* homes inside and out... except when it comes to sleeping.

*yes, I know, it's not a word. but it fits so well, I had to.

You see, while I find myself perfectly competent shuffling these two-under-two around aaaalllll day long, feeding them, playing fun games, and making sure they don't poke eachothers* eyes out (because trust me, they've tried), I have NO IDEA how to deal with two toddlers during the wee hours of the night.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. "they're nearly two-years-old. The simply MUST sleep through the night, right?" well, the answer to that is yes, mostly. but you see Levi's poor little friend knows something is up. In fact, Levi knows something is up too, and if you're a mother you KNOW that when your kid knows something is different, or about to happen, it eats away at their sleep. Both naps, and night sleep suffer. And can you blame them? Change is hard on little bodies and although it may not be obvious during the day while these two are playing, I'm certain both of their reactions to change will come out of the closet at night, at least to some degree.

So, I'm trying to cover all my bases, and I'd surely appreciate any advice you have.

These two are in cribs in separate rooms. Each room has a sound machine in it. Between the two rooms (in the hallway) I've placed a box fan, on HIGH. Why am I going to all this trouble? Simply put, because I don't plan on running in at the first whimper from either of them, and I don't want them to wake each other up. Our house is petite, and there is no insulation between the walls, so I need to make as much white noise as I can.

Oh, and I have a video monitor on each of their cribs. NOW I'm glad I got that second camera!

Advice please?!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bragging rights

Ordinarily I have none - Levi takes all our family's aloted bragging rights for his own.
This week, however, thanks to these wonderful blogging ladies who scope out fantastic grocery deals all over the city (matching great deals with coupons and ad-matches), I have a bounty of bragging to do.

The picture below is what I picked up at Hy-Vee this morning.
I spent a total of $14.30

Now I understand that, in itself, isn't very impressive - mostly because $14.30 is a rather high number and it is difficult to assess the value of the items above just by looking at them, so I'll put this into perspective a couple different ways, and then I'll explain how I did it.
  • These ten boxes of cereal and four gallons of milk would ordinarily have cost $46.83 at Hy-Vee.
  • The four gallons worth of whole milk alone would have come to $14.00 (costing at least $3.50/ea)
  • I saved just over 69% on my entire purchase
I can't claim any credit for my outstanding savings today - as I mentioned earlier, these ladies did all the work for me. Essentially, I took advantage of an already great deal on Kellogg's cereal (only certain varieties, and only certain sizes were included) at Hy-Vee, and the ongoing deal they have with Kellog (buy 3 boxes of cereal, get one gallon of milk free!). I also used a few manufacturer's coupons found on the Kellogg website.

There was only one other thing that made this deal sweeter than sweet. By dividing my 10-box purchase up into 3 transactions, I earned three gallons of milk. Hy-vee will allow you to choose any milk (even rice or soy) up to a value of $3.50. So, essentially, I had $10.50 in "free milk" to play with. Lucky me, half gallons of milk were on sale for $1.28 each, so I was allowed to take EIGHT of them home (totaling 4 gallons instead of three) for the alloted $10.50 in "free milk".

Whew. Did you follow that? I'm not even sure I did.

All that said, I could have run off with even a better deal if I hadn't been a wee bit picky about the cereal varieties I wanted. Apparently Kellogg has an ongoing offer for a $10 visa gift card when you buy 10 boxes off a certain list of cereals. I wasn't particularly keen on the list of cereals, and none of them were part of the Hy-Vee sale, so (knowing my own perpensity to FORGET to mail in those mail-in rebates) I ditched that idea.

How about you, any steals worth bragging about?